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The most obvious hint that the new Justice League trailer is the first post-Wonder Woman glimpse at the movie comes from the prevalence of Wonder Woman and related elements onscreen. It’s no accident that a scene featuring Diana (Gal Gadot) opens the trailer (and includes her “sweep the leg” move so heavily featured in the trailers for her own movie), nor that we see Themyscira and the Amazons in action.
The more subtle influence of the success of the Wonder Woman movie may be that this trailer continues the lighter — though no less melodramatic — tone of Justice League, at least in terms of promotion: the movie being teased in this trailer is miles away from the grim self-importance of the promotion for Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, and is instead filled with self-referential jokes that (gasp!) even poke fun at beloved tropes from the DC mythos. Who, really, expected the Flash (Ezra Miller) to make fun of Batman’s patented disappearing act when talking to Commissioner Gordon (J.K. Simmons), especially after the Dark Knight’s appropriately pessimistic “not enough”? When did Aquaman (Jason Momoa) get so self-aware that the hair shake as he walks away from pummeling a Parademon through a building feels like a nod to the over-the-top nature of the scene? (That’s actually easy to answer: it was when Momoa was cast, most likely.)
Even the Batman mythos gets to poke fun at itself, thanks to Jeremy Irons’ dry Alfred Pennyworth: “One misses the days when one’s biggest concerns were exploding wind-up penguins,” he notes. A joke, or laying groundwork for the Penguin to appear in a future Matt Reeves-directed movie?
The tone works, and the trailer does a lot of heavy lifting more or less successfully: the basic natures of the Flash (self-conscious, awkward and funny) and Aquaman (a blunt bruiser who’s worryingly game for a lost cause) are demonstrated, the villains are almost introduced — or at least, teased; comic fans will recognize Steppenwolf and the Parademons of Jack Kirby’s Fourth World, if nothing else — and the return of Superman is foreshadowed so heavily in the post-credit sequence that it seemed like a letdown that he didn’t actually show up onscreen.
If there’s a major failing for the trailer, it’s one that’s a running theme in Justice League promotion to date: Ray Fisher’s Cyborg feels like an afterthought, and someone who is somehow in the background, instead of a full member of the team. But, given everyone and everything else that’s stuffed in to the brief running time, that’s perhaps understandable, no matter how regrettable.
Despite that, the new trailer lived up to its tagline: by ramping up the threat to something appropriately apocalyptic and overwhelming, yet making a point to show the good guys resolute despite the odds — not to mention showing Wonder Woman taking point and leading them into action, another nod to the character’s newfound popularity post-solo movie — it’s something that promises what comic books used to eagerly call a “superhero slugfest,” as overblown and, more important, fun as anyone could hope for.
After Wonder Woman proved the appeal of watching heroes take on a situation they couldn’t hope to overcome with optimism, conviction and a dedication that lives on the line between righteousness and the suicidal, the new trailer for Justice League pushes the idea that it will offer the same kind of thing, only ramped up to 11. (As cool as Steve Trevor was, after all, he wasn’t the Fastest Man Alive, nor half robot.) It’s something that pivots away from the DC movies of last year and before, and goes in a direction audiences responded to when Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot offered it earlier this year.
“All in,” indeed.
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