There's only five months left now until the DC Cinematic Universe really kicks off with Man of Steel sequel Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice as Henry Cavill's Superman comes up against Ben Affleck's Batman.
Though many were initially a bit put off by Affleck's casting as Batman, what we've seen so far from the trailer actually looks really very promising, particularly his darker, The Dark Knight Returns take on the now retired Bruce Wayne.
Jesse Eisenberg – who portrays Superman's arch rival Lex Luthor in [Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice](tag:711870) (above) – is full of praise for the upcoming film, touting it as a fresh, more mature take on the genre:
"Chris Terrio [BvS writer] is absolutely phenomenal. He also wrote Argo. He’s such a brilliant guy, so well read. He’s interested in very sophisticated topics and discussions. So in Batman V Superman, even though it’s a superhero movie, people who don’t necessarily see films in that genre, like this crowd, will probably enjoy it. It discusses some very sophisticated and important themes."
This melding of superhero films with distinguished themes comes a few months after Simon Pegg's comments on what he believes to be the dumbing down of cinema by superhero films, comics books and wider geek culture. It's an unfair comparison to make really given that alternate media like comic books and sci-fi have always been a vehicle for subversion, providing a means through which to explore non-mainstream media options.
It's fair to say that Marvel has taken the shiny fun approach to the majority of their Marvel Cinematic Universe films and, for the most part, it's worked spectacularly for them. So it makes sense for DC to step into the ring with a different approach, if you can't beat them at their own game you might as well play a different one.
Rather than lay out a bunch of origin stories before tying them all together DC are presenting us with a largely established universe that we step into, the backstories and origins playing out later. This is a nice move, keeping the DCCU narrative from getting too bogged down and saturated by origin stories - not that they're not intrinsic to the genre though.
"Now people expect the tone to be more realistic just because we live in a world where the average audience member has a sense of psychological motivations. How can one man—Superman—have so much power? These are the kind of things that we talk about when we think about authoritarian states…they’re addressing geopolitics in this movie and not in a way that’s pretentious or esoteric. Terrio cleverly ties in these really exciting superhero elements with these really sophisticated, philosophical themes in a much smarter, different way." - Eisenberg
Whilst Man of Steel largely charted Clark Kent trying to come to terms with his identity as a Kryptonian in relation to his own humanity, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is seemingly taking cues from wider national themes of security, peace and the fallout that always comes with having great power.
One of the most telling shots from the trailer was Bruce Wayne looking skyward as he holds a child in the midst of the destruction Supes and General Zod (Michael Shannon) caused during their fight in Metropolis - one of the most heavily criticised scenes from Man of Steel.
Batman v Superman deals with the fallout of these actions, what happens after the explosions, something that we don't really see explored in action films and the superhero genre. Marvel's upcoming [Captain America: Civil War](tag:994409) will take a similar line, dealing with the government cracking down on super-powered beings as a result of too much collateral damage.
There's a telling parallel between the two films, but the difference is that whilst Marvel have spent a decade building up to this point, DC are going straight in for it, tackling the big questions head on and creating a world more rooted in our own reality. Hopefully it will pay off for them this time.