Anghus Houvouras with a special Batman v Superman edition of The Week in Disappointment…
Sometimes there’s a movie that captures everyone’s attention. One special movie that taps into the cultural zeitgeist and harnesses it like a scantily clad Zeus wielding bolts of electricity in his massive, calloused hands. A film that is talked about on twitter, snapchat, reddit, and occasionally public places in parts of the world where conversation hasn’t been brutally murdered by the internet. And that film… is still Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Then there are other films. Movies that try to harness the same kind of excitement but ultimately fail. Films that try to tap into the cultural zeitgeist but are unable to handle to overload of energy and they’re electrocuted like a utility worker who forget to wear gloves. That film is Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Let’s break down the disappointing marketing from Batman v Superman.
1. The best stuff appears to be from a dream sequence
We had two very awkward pieces of marketing hit the interwebs this week. The first was a 40 second clip of a surly looking Superman walking down a hallway and unmasking Batman. It’s a scene without context and ultimately without meaning, which sums up a great deal about what we’ve seen from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice so far. The scene seems to be from a segment that everyone is writing off as a Batman dream sequence, where Desert Fighter Batman action figure fights an army of Superman acolytes before being captured and brought before the Man of Steel. Based on everything I’ve seen, this is the coolest looking part of the marketing thus far, especially that awesome shot of what look like Bat-Men swooping in and plucking up Super Soldiers off the ground. And yet it’s coolness is ultimately undercut by the idea that it’s nothing more than the product of Bruce Wayne’s xenophobic imagination.
I would kill to see a movie where Batman and an army of Bat-Bots take on would-be God Superman and an army of Gestapo acolytes, but we don’t live in a world that cool. And that’s disappointing.
2. Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor feels a lot like Jim Carrey’s Riddler
This one is hard to ignore. Eisenberg is playing Lex with the kind of spastic energy Jim Carrey brought to the role of Edward Nygma in 1995’s Batman Forever. With the lab coat and auburn locks, it’s hard not to see the comparison. I’m not sure why Warner Bros. wants to turn Lex Luthor into some kind of twisted geek. It’s a bold choice, but it feels wrong. Every line I hear Eisenberg utter makes me wince. It makes me pine for Kevin Spacey’s turn as Luthor in Superman Returns. That’s right, I said it. This trailer was so disappointing it made me nostalgic for Superman Returns.
How awful is that?
3. Doomsday of Mordor
I don’t know if I’m as against the idea of Doomsday as Luke Owen. I am a little weirded out by the character design. Much like Eisenberg/Jim Carrey comparison, it’s hard not to look at Doomsday and see a Cave Troll from Lord of the Rings. Not exactly the planet destroying implement of destruction I was waiting for. Maybe the Cave Troll had a pay or play deal after the Lord of the Rings films and Warner Bros. had to cast him in a role or pay some kind of ridiculous penalty. He must have a good agent.
4. Revealing the entire plot
I’m not one of these sad asshats who scream NO SPOILERS IN THE TRAILERS. The first reason is because I have to accept that the by watching trailers I’m going to learn something about the movie. The second reason is because I’m a grown adult human being who doesn’t base his entire movie-going experience on how little of the plot he knows before entering a theater. I’m hearing this kind of bizarre chatter from Star Wars fans who keep proudly declaring that they’re steering clear of articles/clips/trailers for Star Wars: The Force Awakens so they go in knowing nothing. I’m not sure if I envy their resolve or have the urge to smother their inner child with a Kylo Ren body pillow.
However, with BvS they have kind of laid the whole plot out there for us to analyze. At this point I think just about everyone has a good idea what the plot for the movie will be. And with four months left before the film premieres, it feels like there is little left in the film to get us excited. If this was the best trailer they could produce… if this was the best hand they had to play… If this was the most excitement they could generate…
…Then Batman v Superman might end up a baffling disappointment.
Anghus Houvouras is a North Carolina based writer and filmmaker and the co-host of Across the Pondcast. Follow him on Twitter.