With just over a year left until we finally — finally — see the Justice League team up on the silver screen, fan anticipation is reaching its peak for the movie that the DCEU seem certain will break from their tradition of gloomy, downbeat offerings to the superhero genre. After Batman v Superman divided fans and critics with its ponderous existentialism, and Suicide Squad was pretty much just a mess (but a fun mess, for the most part), all eyes are on Wonder Woman and Justice League to "save" the DCEU.
This pressure is immense — the 2017 DC movies can't just be fun flicks, they have to be of a good enough objective quality to prove this franchise's worth. Luckily, this is Wonder Woman, a truly iconic hero, and the frikkin' Justice League we're talking about here.
As characters we just know they can carry a movie. But what should the tone of these films be?
Comedies Or Dark Epics: The DCEU Must Decide What It Is
The marketing for Suicide Squad was fascinating — there was a clear tonal shift from the first trailer to the subsequent ones, as Warner Bros. tried to recuperate after Batman v Superman was criticised for being too grim. Of course, it was too late for the movie itself, as David Ayer clearly intended Suicide Squad to have a darker tone. What resulted was a cut of the movie that was very disjointed, with questionable editing — by Trailer Park, the company who did the marketing — that shoved neon tones over a dark palette, and a bunch of upbeat songs to make us feel like this movie was more of a black comedy than anything else.
So should the DCEU run with its darker tone, or make the change to lighter, more upbeat movies? The Justice League footage released at SDCC implied that WB wanted this film to be more in keeping with the upbeat style of the Suicide Squad marketing, as Batman cracked jokes over a rock-music soundtrack.
From our set visit a few months ago, we can tell that Justice League is a lot more lighthearted than its hero v hero predecessor, as the creative team make full use of the League's interesting interpersonal relationships — not to mention the bromance between Cyborg and the Flash. Clearly, WB are listening to complaints about the DCEU's tone, and are giving their next line-up of movies a shot of good natured humor. But is that really what fans want?
Justice League Must Still Have Impact And Gravitas
Now, an alternative fan-made trailer for Justice League has surfaced, which suggests a different tone for the film. Created by ScreenRant, the trailer uses footage from Batman v Superman and the Justice League teaser, and the result is pretty impressive. The trailer leans heavily on the impact of Superman's death, the idea of his legacy, and the grave mission of the League to protect humanity. Check it out:
This trailer is interesting not only because it's well put together and enjoyable to watch, but because it's created by fans — and the tone is markedly different to the Suicide Squad marketing and the Justice League teaser reel. This goes to show that for all the complaints and picking-apart of the DCEU's fledgling offerings, we still want to see something that will tug at our heartstrings, something with emotional impact and poignancy — and we still want something a bit dark.
With over three thousand likes on YouTube, this trailer proves that the DCEU doesn't have to become a franchise of comedies and upbeat movies. One of the things that sets it apart from the MCU is that so far the DC films haven't shied away from edgier plotlines.
Despite the problems with Batman v Superman, there's no denying that it was a bold movie, one which invited us to question why we put heroes on pedestals in the first place — not to mention introducing us to a darker Dark Knight than we've ever seen before. And oddly, one more in keeping with the Golden Age of comic books, in which Batman frequently murdered his foes.
You see, we've always loved darker superhero stories, even back when the medium kicked off in the 1940s. The hyper violence and mature themes were one of the secrets to early superheroes' successes, and that's why comics such as Watchmen or anything to do with Deadpool sell so well.
At the end of the day, this fan trailer proves that the DCEU shouldn't lose what makes it stand apart — the darker tone and its gravitas. But that doesn't mean there shouldn't be some lighthearted humor in there too. That's a tall order, but if anyone's going to rise to the challenge of high expectations, it's the Justice League. Roll on 2017!
Just in case you missed all those Justice League Easter Eggs, here's a breakdown for ya:
And tell us in the comments — do you think Justice League should be as dark as BvS?