“If man won’t kill God…the Devil will do it!” – Lex Luthor
Oh, Lex. What have you done? As if attempting to further pit Batman against Superman weren’t enough, you had to go and create a monster. Not that Batman needs too much of a push to attempt to knock the Man of Steel down a few pegs. He clearly has a seething hatred for the Last Son of Krypton from the very earliest moments of this latest trailer for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Doomsday has arrived, looking like a lava-covered Cave Troll from Lord of the Rings, and he’s come courtesy of the late General Zod (Michael Shannon). While the previous trailer hinted at Luthor experimenting on the deceased mad Kryptonian General’s corpse, it wasn’t quite clear how far Lex would be going with his Frankenstein-esque machinations. Now we know, giving us not only a surprising (though not altogether unexpected) reveal, but also a super-powered adversary to match our heroes brawn in the film’s third act.
After all, Luthor’s brains will only go so far to pleasing an audience and we know from past experiences (re: complaints about Superman Returns) that fans really, really, REALLY want to see Superman punching people through at least one action sequence in his films. As with Man of Steel, that wish is being granted once again by filmmaker Zack Snyder.
Is Doomsday the right character choice for such a narrative beat, however? I ask only because he is most associated with killing Superman (even if only temporarily), something that frankly seems unlikely to occur this early on in this burgeoning DC Cinematic Universe. If he is to simply be knocked around and ultimately defeated by our three heroes, would it have been better if a different Superman villain had been chosen? Bizarro or Metallo, perhaps? Or is Doomsday of no real importance to fans anymore and is just as good a third act super-brute as any? I’m really curious to see where fans land on this matter.
Doomsday isn’t the only thing to discuss in reference to this new holiday helping of footage, however. We also finally have an even deeper glimpse into the very campy depths of Jesse Eisenberg’s performance as Lex Luthor. I’m extremely curious to see how fans react to this take on the character. Most nowadays seem to prefer Clancy Brown’s voice acting on the popular DCAU TV shows (“Superman“, “Justice League“, “Justice League Unlimited“) or Kevin Spacey’s malevolent scenery-chewing in the aforementioned Superman Returns.
I see Gene Hackman’s spin on the Man of Steel’s arch-nemesis tossed under the bus a lot these days, but it is that performance that Eisenberg’s is reminding me of the most. Sure, he’s updated it for modern times and added his own little quirks to the recipe. Someone on Twitter remarked that it feels like Eisenberg is channeling (trolling?) the famously offbeat writer/producer Max Landis. Given that they had just worked together before this on American Ultra, that’s entirely possible. True or not, such a comparison is hard to unsee now. That aside, we seem to once again be getting a very cheeky, playful Lex Luthor. This is likely to be off-putting to some, but I find his injection of humor into the trailer to be a much-needed bit of levity amidst the dark chaos that runs rampant throughout.
Affleck is appropriately brooding as both Bruce Wayne and the Dark Knight, but there thankfully seems to be a bit more personality added into the mix. I enjoyed Christan Bale’s take on the character throughout Christopher Nolan’s trilogy, but I’m more than ready for a less raspy and dour Batman. Based on what we have seen thus far, Affleck appears to be delivering in that regard. I’m not entirely sold on the robotic voice modulation that he has when in the cowl, but I’m sure it’s something I will get used to fairly quickly once the film arrives.
Cavill also seems to have a bit more oomph added to his character moments here, which is an absolute blessing. While I thought he was pretty good overall in his last outing as Superman, he really wasn’t given all that much to work with. His turn in Guy Ritchie’s The Man From U.N.C.L.E. earlier this year showcased an extremely charming and playful side to him that was absent from his turn as Clark Kent. I’m hoping that his looser nature seen in the party exchange between Clark and Bruce is indicative of his performance as a whole. If they let Cavill off the leash, he could really knock Superman out of the park for a whole new generation, instead of being held back by his material like Brandon Routh before him.
That leaves us with Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman, who is sadly underseen here. Granted they are clearly trying to focus on the three-way conflict between Batman, Superman, and Lex Luthor here, but it would have been nice to get a few more beats involving Gadot in the trailer. As is, she appears in a short bit or two during the montage-heavy section of it and then gets a pretty great entrance beat at the end. Here’s hoping that future trailers and spots give us a better look at the Amazonian princess.
So what’s missing here? The supporting players get little character time, but that’s to be expected on any normal blockbuster…let alone one with a supporting cast of this size. Some fans are likely complaining about the lack of Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and Victor Stone/Cyborg (Ray Fisher), but expecting them to be showcased wasn’t really realistic. For one, neither character is expected to appear in the film much. Showing them now would not only raise expectations that would not be met by the final film itself, but it would likely completely spoil what little screentime they do have. Such elements are best left unseen, at least this early in the game. After all, we still have another three and a half months to go before it hits theaters.
So what do you think? Do you like the tonal differences from Man of Steel on display here? Do you think that they are representative of the actual film itself or merely just trailer editing trickery? What do you make of Eisenberg’s performance, now that it has been more prominently showcased? Too campy or just right? What of Doomsday? A good match for our triumphant trio of heroes or an utter waste of a milestone character?
Most importantly, now that you have seen a second trailer for the film, are you more excited to see it or less excited? If you’re still unsure, feel free to give it another whirl…