The Danger of Trailers: Batman v Superman

Consider this an editorial. I have, for some years now, been at least very cautious and at most openly hostile towards movie trailers. Going far beyond their original purpose of piquing your interest and ostensibly causing you to want to see the movie, they now show far too much of the movie and very potentially give away spoilers.

Instead I have come to rely on teasers, the ultra-short preview of the movie that is released before the trailers. I rely on the teaser to whet my appetite and then I do my best to ignore any actual trailers. And if this results in me, an adult, covering my eyes and ears with my hands in movie theatres during previews, then so be it.

I do this because I want to know anything about a movie beyond the basic premise: I don’t want to know too much about the characters; I don’t want to know too much about the setting; and, above all, I don’t want to know too much about the plot. I hate spoilers because knowing what is going to happen ruins the movie. I want to go into a movie perfectly unaware of what is going to happen so that I can be surprised and so that I can experience the full range of emotion available to me. I want to be happy, sad, shocked, confused, scared and relieved for the characters. I want to be invested in the movie and that cannot happen if I know what is going to occur. I believe in this philosophy so strongly that I take pains to write spoiler-free reviews.

The problem is, I forgot cover my eyes and ears when I was watching the trailer for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. I now know how the fight between Batman and Superman ends, I now know when Wonder Woman is introduced, and I know about the formerly secret villain in the film (who isn’t Lex Luthor).

This is too much. I now know some very key things about the movie, things that I wish I didn’t know. And because I know some major plot points I no longer wish to see the movie.

And that makes me sad. The prequel to Batman v Superman, Man of Steel, was the first iteration of Superman that I enjoyed. That’s because I find Superman to be a very boring character. He is, for all intents and purposes, a god. He is nearly indestructible—unless you have the ultra- ultra-rare kryptonite—and he has an arsenal of powers that are perfect for every situation. It seems as though there is never any real challenge for him, and hence that there is never any real drama around the character. His outward struggles are all easily resolved by his indestructibility and his superpowers and despite all of his incredible gifts he seems to have no internal struggle, no internal conflict about how to use those powers except to use them for good. Far from having the backstory like Batman or Spiderman, both of whom have a compelling reason to be a hero, Superman simply ‘does good’. And furthermore, everything seems to happen to him on a Wednesday afternoon. Think about it, it’s always daylight and therefore anticlimactic. He is therefore a dull and shallow character.

But the Superman reboot Man of Steel for the first time made him an interesting character. His father teaches him early on in his life that he must use his powers with discretion less he put his family and himself at risk and that eventually he can be a symbol of hope for people, that he can do good. And it was the death his father, played by Kevin Costner, which drives these points home. Although this character-building maneuver was taken from Spiderman, it uses the ‘with great power comes great responsibility’ mantra to stunning effect to give Superman an inner challenge and believable motivation for the first time. In Man of Steel Superman learns how to be a good man. As well, for the first time convincing special effects allow the film to unleash Superman, to have him using his superpowers to throw trains around, to demolish buildings and light things ablaze like the titan that he is. It was the first Superman movie to make Superman an actual character with depth and it was fun to watch.

Finally, in Man of Steel Superman does what he was never supposed to do: he takes a life. Superman, the man of infallible moral principles, kills. In doing so he learns that doing what is right and being a symbol for the people involves sacrifice. This act cemented him as a flawed, conflicted and therefore interesting character.

So I was sad to see the new trailer for Batman v Superman. It spoils so much of the film that I was quite eager to see. It ruined what should have been surprising twists in a film that would have really depended on twists. As a result, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice lost a viewer.

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  1. Pingback: On Why Batman V Superman Fails As A Movie – The Creators Commune

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