Right now, Superman is in full Luke Skywalker mode. The members of the Justice League don't know that Krypton's finest will be back from the dead to fight alongside them in the war against Darkseid, but we do — so you could be forgiven for expecting to catch at least a hint of #Superman's resurrection in the new Justice League trailer.
But where was it?
Before we get to that, here's what Zack Snyder, the controversial visionary behind the camera once again for #JusticeLeague, has to say about Superman's absence:
"It's hard to have a Justice League without Superman. That's how I feel about it. It was always a super-intriguing concept to me to have this opportunity to have him make that sacrifice but also have him be this, in a weird sort of way, the why of Justice League: What do you do now with him? What does the team think? What does the world need? All that comes into play. It's fun for us but it'll be interesting for audiences what we do with him."
The only really obvious hint of Superman in the trailer is that brief shot of Lois Lane reacting to something in the sky (at 1:45). Sure, she may have stayed in contact with Bruce, but there's no real reason for Lois to be a part of this trailer, other than to remind us that Superman is out there. Perhaps Lois still catches herself looking up to the sky and expecting to see him from time to time.
But for a more pointed hint of Superman's involvement in the movie, it might be wise to take a look at what the group scenes have in common — specifically, the fact that almost none of them involve all five (living) League members being together in one place. We see Aquaman and Batman teaming up, and the odd shot of Wonder Woman working with Cyborg and Aquaman, but for a movie titled Justice League, we never actually see the full team assembled as a collective.
Why would that be?
Right now the assumption, crafted cleverly by a trailer in which he doesn't feature at all, is that Superman won't appear until the film's final act, right in time to be the axis on which the failure of the fight against Steppenwolf turns.
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Reading between the lines, though, it could be that there aren't many team shots to work with that don't involve Superman — because he's going to be back in action way sooner than the final hour of Justice League. When the Man of Steel appears in the sky at precisely the right moment, the audience won't be surprised. But when he appears much closer to the middle, possibly adorned in the iconic black suit, that's the kind of narrative shocker which could really elevate Justice League.
It's also worth observing that Snyder's "Superman trilogy" is loosely inspired by the three-part DC Comics saga The Death And Return of Superman, which might drop a couple of clues about the method of the Man of Steel's eventual resurrection. In the third arc of The Return of Superman, four fake Supermen attempt to convince the people of Metropolis that they are the real thing, before one takes Clark's body and places it in the Regeneration Matrix.
When he emerges, weakened but determined, the real Superman resumes his heroic duties, convincing Lois of his true identity by citing 'To Kill A Mockingbird' as his favorite book. Obviously Snyder will only be taking composite elements from the comics (neither Darkseid nor Steppenwolf features at all on the page) in Justice League, but it's a fair bet that the Regeneration Matrix will come into play here, and it wouldn't be a huge surprise if Lex Luthor was the twisted puppet master pulling those strings from his jail cell.
Justice League hits theaters November 17, which is plenty of time for Warner Bros. to trick us all into thinking Superman really will only be in this movie for fifteen minutes.
Will Snyder save the resurrection of Superman for Justice League's third act, or is he fighting alongside the team the whole time?