EDITORIAL - MAN OF STEEL: A Tale of Two Trailers
As virtually everyone who has seen The Dark Knight Rises is aware, Warner Bros. preceded the film with a teaser trailer for next summer's Man of Steel. Question is, did the studio do the film a disservice?
At the outset, it should be emphasized that I'm a DC guy. Particularly Superman. I probably discovered the character way back at the ripe old age of five (which happened to coincide with the fifth year of the '60s) via reruns of the George Reeves series and my newfound love for the character in comic books. Growing up I had hundreds of Man of Steel-related comics and thrilled to each new incarnation, whether it was via the Filmation cartoons, the Christopher Reeve films, Lois & Clark (at least the first year), Smallville and so on. I was DC all the way.
But, damn, if Marvel hasn't worked its way into my heart, probably starting with The X-Men, continuing with Sam Raimi's first two Spider-Man films and on to such recent efforts as Iron Man, Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America and, of course, The Avengers. And, truthfully, as I've watched Marvel soar, I've been waiting for DC/Warners to strut their stuff and at the very least match them.
Yes, there's no question that Christopher Nolan has placed the studio on the box office map again in a major way with his Batman trilogy, but, with the exception of the always excellent various animated series, the DC Universe remains virtually untapped. Green Lantern? Hopes were high, but the film failed to deliver by proving itself unable to adapt the way Marvl's heroes have and reach a mainstream audience; laden with visual effects it proved itself to be a film without genuine heart.
Along the way there have been announcements that have gone nowhere - Supermax, Superman vs. Batman, Teen Titans, Batman Beyond, Shazam and Justice League. And oftentimes announcements have been met with a collective roll of the eyes. Remember George Miller's Justice League that was in active development? Essentially everyone involved said ignore the fact that there was a Batman film series and a proposed Superman one with Brandon Routh, and have DIFFERENT actors play the characters in the JL film -- a film that would have essentially cast 20 year olds in all the key roles. More recently the studio has announced a new Justice League film, seemingly designed to tap into the audience that cheered for The Avengers, but there aren't a lot of people who think that's a good idea either. If anything, Warners/DC should go for a World's Finest film, giving themselves a team-up along the lines that Marvel simply doesn't have.
All of which has led us to next summer's Man of Steel. To be fair, this film seems to have done everything right along the way, from getting Watchmen's Zack Snyder to direct, Henry Cavill to star and featuring a phenomenal cast in the form of Amy Adams (Lois Lane), Kevin Costner (Jonathan Kent), Diane Lane (Martha Kent), Michael Shannon (Zod), Russell Crowe (Jor-El) and so on. It also has, by all reports, gone back to the roots of the character and will be giving us a version unlike any we've seen before.
And when Zack Snyder and Henry Cavill took to the stage at San Diego Comic-Con to discuss the film while previewing a special trailer, it certainly looked like they were achieving their goals.
But THEN came the teaser trailer attached to Dark Knight Rises... and a more lackluster response from the audience you couldn't imagine. In its efforts to show what appears to be a more human Man of Steel, the trailer focuses almost exclusively on Clark Kent as a man on a journey to his destiny, with some words of encouragment from (depending on whether you were in America or abroad) Jonathan Kent or Jor-El. And ONE shot of him as Superman, soaring - from a distance - into the stratosphere. This was followed by the title "Man of Steel", the "S" logo and, at least at the midnght screening I attended, NOTHING. Virtually no reaction.
It was disheartening to say the least. As we've all been taught growing up, you have one opportunity to make a first impression, and for a studio trying to get the audience excited about Superman again, this was NOT the impression they needed to make.
The real question is why WOULDN'T they issue the trailer that was shown at Comic-Con? It was maybe 30 or 40 seconds longer, but those precious few seconds -- all of which gave us quick glimpses of Superman as... well, Superman -- make all the difference. They draw you into this new interpretation, tease moments of action that already set this film aparts and shows both the majesty and humanity that Superman represents. THAT trailer would have had midnight audiences and those that followed them cheering.
But now, instead, it's as though they have to start from scratch with the NEXT trailer (which one would assume will be attached to The Hobbit). So rather than have people excited now and anticipating the next glimpse into the film to come, the studio is once again going to be battling audience apathy.
Sometimes it ain't easy being a DC fan.
Take a comparative look at the two trailers - first the theatrical teaser and then a fan-edited version that combines the teaser with the Comic-Con footage - and sound off below on what you think.
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