A new trailer for Justice League was released on Sunday, and I think this is the first one to incorporate the new Joss Whedon-shot material. One difference after the director handover is apparent right away—someone found the color grading knob and turned it up. This is by far the most colorful and brightest trailer we’ve seen yet. (For comparison, go back and watch the first footage from 2016.) This is also the first trailer to show us Henry Cavill. After the last trailer, some people speculated Green Lantern will turn up in Justice League, but they would never be able to keep that casting quiet, and they’ve been hinting Superman’s return since the first trailer—since the end of Superhero Face Punch, really.
This is the final trailer before Justice League comes out in November, and it’s doing the most to convince us the movie isn’t a disaster. And honestly, Justice League doesn’t look nearly as bad as it did in that first official trailer. But I still have several points of concern. For one, you can see the two-director divide. In one scene, Bruce Wayne is talking about something “darker” than the apocalypse, which is very Snyderian, but in another scene, he’s exchanging quippy banter with Aquaman, which feels Whedony. Justice League is looking like a Frankenstein’s monster, stitched together from multiple visions—Snyder’s, Whedon’s, and DC honcho Geoff Johns’.
I’m also concerned about Aquaman. The more he talks, the less I’m feeling it. Jason Momoa is perfect casting, and this isn’t a character you want to take too seriously, but Surfer Dude Aquaman comes across as Water Thor, and I’m not sold. (Also the FIVEDENT remains the most extra prop in history.) Similarly, the design of Cyborg is clearly trying not to look too much like Iron Man, but that effort just makes him look clunky and ugly. (And his dick looks like an evil robot.) And Bruce Wayne and the Flash come off as very “Tony Stark and Peter Parker”, which doesn’t help the “this feels an awful lot like Marvel” thing. The Avengers and Justice League can co-exist, but Warner Brothers/DC has to figure out their own thing, distinct from Marvel. I’m not sure that’s happening.
Bright spots do remain though. One is Amy Adams, who is great in everything. Another is Wonder Woman. And another is Ezra Miller as the Flash, who looks set to steal the whole movie. Justice League is probably a write-off, but there is some stuff in here that’s working, that can be used to jump off to a stronger second generation of films, including Flashpoint and Wonder Woman 2. I just wonder, with sequels and franchise films seriously struggling at the box office, how much longer multiple superhero universes can survive.
November is going to be a real test. Justice League opens two weeks after Thor: Ragnarok. The timing was undoubtedly chosen so that JL could directly take on a Marvel movie—assumed to be the weakest in the Avengers’ line-up—and win. But that assumption has proved wrong. The early metrics that track audience interest and engagement with movies show Thor well ahead of JL, and the way the box office has gone this year, there probably isn’t room for both of them in the same month. Not too long ago, you could open two tent poles a couple weeks apart, and they would both be fine, but now, one movie tends to dominate a whole month, and Thor comes out first. I’m not saying Justice League will bomb—it won’t. But it’s probably going to lose to THOR, which isn’t going to make anyone at Warners feel good. The best case scenario for Justice League is that it isn’t embarrassing and, as the next-gen DC movies roll out, it quietly fades from memory.
Attached - Gal Gadot hosting Saturday Night Live on the weekend.