Now that the heart-pounding full length trailer for [Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice](tag:711870) has been released, fans are of course eagerly pouring over it. From the reaction from the fan base I watched on You Tube and here it was overwhelmingly and ecstatically positive overall--although a day after the trailer's release it is being reported that the overall reaction was more mixed. (How reliable is any of this reporting, I wonder? I just see sample posts; no mention of the cross-section of sites searched, and no sort of scientific method whatsoever.)
Anyway, most importantly, there's every reason to believe from this trailer that Ben Affleck will portray Batman not just with the gravitas that the Dark Knight requires, but perhaps also as a bit more emotionally relatable than previous versions of the character. We'll have to see the film, of course. But there's reason to hope, I think, that Affleck will make the character more accessible than just the mysterious, grim, and tortured soul we're accustomed to. Affleck has said that there will be a world-weariness to the character, following Frank Miller's characterization from The Dark Knight Returns upon which Snyder has based it. But my guess is that we will probably also get a window onto the more vulnerable human side in addition to the mythic figure.
In any case, the fan reaction thus far seems to be that Snyder has vindicated himself on that initially controversial casting choice. At least regarding just the trailer, judging from the sites I was taking in on the evening that the trailer dropped Batfleck is a hit. The consensus seems to be that it looks like Ben is going to play Batman like a boss.
Fans seems similarly pleased with Jeremy Irons as Alfred. And while some fans were disappointed with Man of Steel as a film overall for a variety of reasons, there was little criticism of the casting of Henry Cavill as Supes.
The nagging doubts about casting that seem to linger after this trailer are about Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor and Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. I'll speak to Gal/Diana first:
Critics of this casting choice have made a perfectly valid point, I think, that Gal Gadot is simply too thin, i.e., lacks the muscle mass, to be convincing as an Amazon warrior. I had never seen her in anything. And after searching some You Tube clips with her and seeing her (wearing a bikini) in Fast and Furious 5 I have to admit I shared those concerns. I was however thoroughly impressed with her personality and accent as great for the part. Her self-confidence, tone of voice, facial expression, and eyes are all very convincing for an Amazon princess. She can definitely carry herself as Diana of Themyscira. It was just the lack of muscle mass that gave me pause.
So, what is the verdict after finally getting a live action glimpse of Gal in the new Bats v Supes trailer?
In my humble opinion, Gal has managed to pack just enough meat on them bones to pull it off. A bit more bulk would have been better. But she at least has some muscle on her now.
Unfortunately we don't hear Gal speak in the trailer. But in terms of her physical acting it looks like she'll nail the part.
The scene of her cracking the Bands of Submission rocks. (Note the destroyed Batmobile in the background.)
I should think this trailer has probably succeeded in validating Snyder's choice of Gadot as Wonder Woman for most fans. My guess is that those on the fence will probably be won over. For those staunchly opposed to her casting from the start, I would expect many may not change their view (i.e., feeling that she still lacks enough physical bulk for the part). But my guess is that the latter will become an increasingly small minority (and as such will simply risk annoying other fans with their complaints, not that they're likely to care). In short: this trailer is a big win for Gadot
Now as to Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor... and the criticisms I have seen have mainly been about this particular casting choice... this one may continue to polarize the fan base until release, and perhaps beyond.
Not that that's an entirely bad thing, perhaps. It's actually kind of fitting, in a way. Because it evidently mirrors the dissembling nature of the character in the film! As suggested by Luthor's taunt at the end of the trailer—"black and blue... god versus man... night versus day"—the supervillain seems to be masterminding the fight between Batman and Superman in the first place. Luthor's puzzling titter "The red capes are coming! The red capes are coming!" is still difficult to fully decipher. But it seems to refer to Luthor manipulating public perception to portray Superman as the enemy.
The trailer reveals that Luthor (who at one point is shown hobnobbing with the U.S. Senator played by Holly Hunter) gets his hands on both a big chunk of kryptonite and General Zod's corpse (Luthor's assistant Mercy Graves is walking alongside it).
And at a certain point we are shown Superman kneeling in apparent submission before Luthor, clearly distressed about it, as Luthor contemptuously feigns loving-kindness.
The arguments against casting Eisenberg is that in the comics' Lex Luthor is a physically robust and intimidating figure. Jesse Eisenberg is not.
But do we actually need him to be? And do we want too many figures like that crowding the film?
Also, I think it is wise to accept that what works in a comic book is not always best for an adaptation to a blockbuster film. In past Superman films we have now seen two great actors of their generation, Gene Hackman and Kevin Spacey, have a go at the Luthor role. And in both cases the director, writers, and the actors heavily stylized the performance (I should imagine probably to some extent based on the actors' respective personalities).
This is clearly a matter of individual taste, but I can accept that Eisenberg's Luthor is a glib super-genius scientist-entrepreneur nerd. I'm in no way so tremendously attached to the character from the comic books that I absolutely must to see him recreated just as he looks and acts had he leaped directly out the comics source. I actually think it will be much more fun and interesting to see how this version of Lex Luthor is brought to life in a fresh and creative way.
As for Lex's long hair, he is either wearing a wig or something will make him go bald. Because we have this still:
But anyway, we'll see if this vision of Lex Luthor slowly but surely gains mass acceptance among fans in the months to come. His character seems to be a far cry from the comics (at least the ones I grew up with). Personally, I love it. But if something's got to stick in the craw of some fans it will probably be this.
I started with the intention to just discuss the casting of Godot and Esienberg... But I can't resist finishing up by adding that I am curious as all get-out about the trailer's fascist-looking Superman soldiers. We saw them in the teaser as well. In this trailer it looks like Batman breaks the neck of one of them—and as we know, canon Batman, like Superman, never kills... Could this all just be part of a nightmare that Bruce Wayne is having?
To digress a bit: honestly, it works for me if what we find is that both Batman and Superman have been adapted to the real world as sometimes having no choice but to take lives in order to save others. That particular comic book premise just doesn't hold up in a live action film, in my opinion. Batman and Superman can both try to avoid taking lives, of course. But at least with respect to Batman, given the tremendously deadly types of weapons his enemies have in modern times, and at times facing overwhelmingly superior numbers, I just don't think the viewer can maintain a 'willing suspension of disbelief' any longer with respect to this aspect of the character. In my humble opinion it's time to adapt the characters and let them intersect more realistically with the world that actually exists.
One final thing: I wonder if the scene in which Superman rips the doors off the Batmobile at the trailer's end might not actually be the start of the fight scene we're treated to various glimpses of?
Ah, what the heck. I'll end with the shot that many have noted is an homage by Snyder to the source work, Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns:
Batman vs Superman is released March 25, 2016.