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Published July 16, 2015

Superhero Roundtable Discussions is a series on GamingIlluminaughty.com where writers will come together to discuss superhero/comic book movies. If you missed our previous discussion on the future of DC’s cinematic universe, click HERE. Today’s discussion will be covering our thoughts and opinions on the trailers that came out of San Diego Comic-Con.

Austin Manchester: Comic-Con recently came and went and nerds everywhere went crazy. We received news on Star Wars Episode VII, The Legend of Korra comics, comic-book television shows, and upcoming superhero movies. Most importantly, trailers premiered and we have collectively viewed them millions of times.

Definitely, the biggest trailer to come out of San Diego Comic-Con was the Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer. Full disclosure: I absolutely love 2013’s Man of Steel and I wished Superman would have gotten his own solo sequel. Instead, Warner Bros. decided to put Batman and Superman in a movie together as a way to springboard their “cinematic universe” while making boatloads of cash. I have been very weary of this film, but I think this trailer sold me on that it will be, at the very least, an entertaining film. However, it still raises some questions for me. Basically, I don’t really buy into the premise, the foundation upon which this film was made.

For starters, I don’t think Bruce Wayne/Batman has enough motivation to want to get rid of Superman and I don’t understand his thought process. I understand why society is divided on Supes. Those who were there at the battle of Metropolis (I believe they’re calling it something like “Black Zero” or something similar) saw two aliens destroy their city, killing millions and causing probably billions of dollars in damage. Others might see it as one alien defending the world from another, shall we say, genocidal alien. Bruce Wayne, from the way the trailer depicts him, views our very green, inexperienced, first-time superhero as someone who, if he goes unchecked, can rid the planet of everyone on it. This causes Wayne to want to get rid of Superman. I think Bruce is smarter than that. Let’s not forget that Superman is someone who turned himself in willingly to General Zod in an effort to spare Earth. He is an earthling at heart, like anyone else, and he’s from Kansas, can’t get any more American than that (paraphrasing what Clark said at the end of Man of Steel). Obviously, Wayne wouldn’t know those personal details, but I think the superhero in Wayne would see a hero in Superman based on his actions; in his first days as a superhero, Superman is someone who gave himself up for Earth, someone who did save people, someone who flew around the world to stop Zod from terraforming it into a new Krypton, someone who saved the entire human race by destroying the World Engine and killing Zod. For Wayne to make assumptions that Superman might be evil just because other Kryptonians were evil just seems wrong. I do think that Wayne has reason to worry and needs to be prepared, but to go and want to take Superman out (it seems like they have the intention to kill each other, honestly) just doesn’t make sense to me. So much of Man of Steel was made to humanize Superman and Batman just views him as a monster. (I actually like there being different sides on Superman — one side thinking he’ll kill them all and the other worshiping him as a god, I just don’t think Batman would view Superman as a monster.)

Superman's a hero too!
Superman’s a hero too!

I also don’t understand how Batman can have any shot in a fight against Superman. I know he’s extremely smart and has beaten Superman in the comics, but when you think about it, a normal human would stand no chance against a virtual God in Superman. Yes, Batman is no normal human — he’s extremely brilliant, tactful, cunning, and physically imposing in his own right — but he’s still a human going up against a Superman that can fly halfway around the world in minutes (seconds?), lift a bus with ease, and shoot lasers out of his eyes! I don’t care how much armor Batman has or how tanked-out his Batmobile is, he only stands a chance if Clark holds back or if he can get his hands on some of that Kryptonite Lex Luthor has.

I do think it’s kind of funny that, after people complained that Superman didn’t save enough people in Man of Steel, they include several shots of him saving people in this trailer. Hey everybody, watch Superman save people!

Where do you stand on this trailer?

Malaiko: I have to say, Bruce Wayne’s motivation to kill Superman seems a bit forced. Even if he perceives Superman as a threat to humanity (which he should, Batman has always been known to prepare for any and all possibilities), I don’t think he would flat out try to kill Superman without first observing him further or even attempting to talk to him. Think of Batman’s villains like Two-Face, Penguin and the Joker. They have killed hundreds of people over the years and Batman still refuses to break his one rule, even though he’s been tempted to. He knows those people’s deaths are on his head but still he refuses to break that rule. For those of you who may not know, Batman’s one rule is that he won’t kill. Superman did in fact wreak a lot of havoc on Metropolis fighting Zod but the fact of the matter is that he saved the planet. He didn’t save everyone — a lot of people died — but had he not intervened the planet would have been doomed. Furthermore, Superman has also cooperated with the military and authorities on numerous occasions, in an attempt to show he is not a threat to the human race. The scene where they bring him in handcuffed and interrogate him is a scene I actually really enjoyed in Man of Steel because, obviously, handcuffs aren’t enough to hold him and yet he willingly went to that base and spoke to Lois. He could have broken in there or left any time he pleased but he didn’t. I’m sure a detective as smart as Batman knows of these instances and would realize that if Superman had any intention of destroying the Earth he would have started to do so at this point. Do I believe Batman would have a contingency plan to fight Superman if he ever went rogue? Yes. Do I buy his “I have to kill him to save humanity” angle they’re going with? No. Even Alfred is telling Batman that Superman is not the enemy but Batman is convinced that he has to kill him. I hope there’s something else Superman does (or doesn’t do) that we haven’t seen yet that shows why Batman is so eager and willing to break his one rule.

As far as fighting Superman, I read from multiple sites that Batman’s armored suit will be Kryptonite powered, as well as being built using alien tech so the suit itself will weaken Superman just from being close to Batman, putting them on pretty equal footing. The same thing was seen in the classic graphic novel The Dark Knight Returns when an older Batman faces off against an older Superman in which Batman successfully beats Superman. Zack Snyder has used many things from that novel as reference so it makes sense that he would take that route as otherwise he’d have no other way of beating Superman.

This trailer definitely shows me that the movie will be action packed and will be visually stunning. What I’m worried about is the story and how its characters will be handled. Snyder’s movies are always visually pleasing and are full of style and flair but not all of them carry a lot of substance, I certainly hope that isn’t the case with this one.

Manchester: I actually hadn’t heard of those rumors about Batman’s suit having Kryptonite. If that proves to be true, then it gives The Dark Knight a shot against The Man of Steel. However, couldn’t Superman just float back and shoot Batman with eye lasers? I mean, in the trailer Batman is shown dodging Superman’s lasers, and those things are made to kill, so it seems like these two are kind of battling to the death. I do wonder how the characters in the film will know that Kryptonite is Superman’s weakness, where they get it from, and how drastically it will weaken Superman in BvS. That last point is important because during the climactic battle of Man of Steel, Superman has the ability to destroy the World Engine in the Indian Ocean even though it is making it so that the Earth around the World Engine is like Krypton, reducing Superman’s powers. If Superman could still muster up the strength to destroy the World Engine in near-Kryptonian conditions, I wonder how much the Kryptonite will weaken Superman and sway the advantage in Batman’s favor.

On that note, I want to complain about the marketing for this film already. The trailer shows way too damn much! The shot towards the end of Superman ripping apart the Batmobile and Batman standing up, staring down Supes (at 3:10) looks to me like the end of their fight/the arc of the film they will be fighting. I hope it’s not, because I don’t want to see the end of their fight in the trailer, but my gut feeling is that it is.

Will Gal Gadot make a good Wonder Woman?
Will Gal Gadot make a good Wonder Woman?

Let’s move on to two new characters that will be showing up in Dawn of Justice – Wonder Woman and Lex Luthor. Speaking of showing too much in a trailer, Wonder Woman definitely did not need to be in this, especially when we’re still eight months away from release! As many internet commenters have expressed previously, Gal Gadot just doesn’t look physically imposing as Wonder Woman. WW is supposed to be as strong as Superman and yet she doesn’t even look like she would stand a chance in an arm wrestling contest! On top of that, I don’t know why, but I just don’t like the costume. For some reason, it doesn’t look as cool or badass as Superman’s and Batman’s costumes. I do wonder who she will be fighting, as she was shown to be thrown back in a fight and that’s no easy task against Wonder Woman. Will she join the fight against Superman? That would be an interesting twist! Will a strong villain like Doomsday show up? Will Lex Luthor build a suit of armor that can challenge the heroes? And about Lex Luthor, I know many people aren’t fond of Jesse Eisenberg’s casting, but I like the kid and I think he’ll do a good job. He definitely seemed pretty crazy in this trailer and I look forward to the scenes between him and Clark.

Malaiko: Yeah it’s all going to come down to how much Kryptonite weakens Superman. Different comics show different degrees of how much it affects him so it’ll be interesting to see how much it affects him. I’m assuming a lot because we see him on a glass roof with Batman jumping on top of him crashing onto the floor below.

I definitely agree that they’re showing too much too early. Gal Gadot stated that she would be bulking up for the role but honestly she looks the same as she did before. She still looks skinny to me, not physically imposing whatsoever. I’m not saying she needs to look like a body builder or a wrestler but she could have trained and bulked up the way Emily Blunt did in Edge of Tomorrow. She definitely looked physically imposing and like someone you wouldn’t want to get in a fight with. I’ve said from day one that I think this movie is overcrowded, I don’t know why her character is playing such a big role in the movie when it should just be about Batman, Superman and Lex. We’ve yet to see Aquaman but let’s not forget he’s in this too, albeit in a smaller role, but he will still be making an appearance. Screen Junkies (YouTube Channel) dubbed the film ‘Batman v Superman: Rush To The Justice League’ and that certainly seems to be the case. They’re just cramming as many Justice Leaguers as they can in the movie before the Justice League film comes out instead of introducing each one separately. As far as Lex goes, I’m still on the fence with Jesse Eisenberg playing the character, but he’s had solid performances in the past, so I’m hopeful he can pull it off.

Honestly I would have rather seen a Man of Steel sequel or a Batman solo movie before their big clash but I guess we’re going to have to wait and see if they’re on the right track.

Manchester: You’re right, they’re shoehorning Aquaman into this too! This trailer got me excited, but I’m still worried that there’s a sizable chance that the film is disappointing.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice wasn’t the only huge trailer that Warner Bros. had to showcase. The debut trailer for Suicide Squad premiered and, let me tell ya, I’m anticipating this film much more than before. On the negative side, I still don’t care about any character outside of the big three (Harley Quinn, the Joker, and Deadshot), save for The Enchantress. Cara Delevingne’s character was the highlight of this trailer for me. I’m interested in her story, how she gets her powers, what she does to end up in the Suicide Squad, etc. With Quinn, Joker, Deadshot, and The Enchantress being in the film, I have zero fucks left to give about characters in this film. Diablo, Katana, Slipknot – get out of the way, let the leads have their space. Killer Croc looks so terrible. Rick Flag looks like a boring, military-type character. Jai Courtney is a worse actor than I am.

I think Margot Robbie is going to be a wonderful Harley Quinn, even if her costume isn’t that great. She definitely pulled off a toned crazy in the small bits we got to see of her. But the big surprise of the Suicide Squad trailer was the ending. Jared Leto showing up as the Joker! Even though he’s still ugly as fuck, I think Leto captured the essence of the Clown Prince of Crime in those few short seconds and I am definitely convinced he’ll be a good Joker (although I’m probably just optimistically lying to myself a little bit). He’s not going to be the traditional Joker we all know and love, but Heath Ledger’s Joker wasn’t either, and he was amazing. I think Leto has the acting chops to pull off a crazed, abusive, and violent Joker. His laugh was even pretty good! (at 2:36)

The last time we discussed this film, you had less than stellar things to say about it and especially the Joker. Has this trailer changed your opinions in any way?

Malaiko: I feel like I’m in the minority here, but I honestly didn’t think that the Suicide Squad trailer was all that exciting. The trailer really didn’t show much of anything. Here’s random shots of Deadshot and Harley Quinn with a voiceover going on in the background. Then they show shots of all the members of the team walking in the street side by side looking like an 80s rock band. We didn’t get any action shots, no shots of these characters using their abilities and showing what it is that makes them cool. We got Harley Quinn just hanging out (pun intended), Deadshot punching a bag and drinking at a bar or whatever and the other members just looking off into the distance or staring into space with pained expression on their faces. I’m sorry, I didn’t see anything that was spectacular. It was only the first trailer, but for a first trailer, it was lackluster to me.

I’m pretty sure most of the characters in this movie are just going to be background characters, with little influence on the actual plot and barely any lines and/or character development. Let’s be honest, we’re all going to see this movie because of three characters: Deadshot (because he’s being played by Will Smith), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie doesn’t disappoint), and most importantly the Joker (Jared Leto’s performance will and is already being compared to Heath Ledger’s iconic performance). Those three will either make or break this movie. If their characters aren’t properly done then I have no doubts that the movie is not going to work at all. Most people don’t even know who the other villains are in the film and, honestly, they’re not the most interesting characters in the comics either, so I doubt they’re going to garner any attention. Jared Leto’s Joker made the entire trailer for me. I didn’t really like his Joker laugh but it’s something I may grow into liking, but his line “I’m not going to kill you… I’m just going to hurt you really, really bad” gave me chills. That line combined with his facial expression made the entire thing for me. Everything else was just average. And Jai Courtney, my Lord he is awful. His character design looks shitty and his one line in the trailer made me cringe. That man is an awful actor I don’t even know how he got the role.

I’m not saying I’m not interested in the film or that this movie doesn’t have potential. It certainly does and I want it to do well because, as an avid comic book reader, I want all comic book films to be great. This was only the first trailer, I’m sure the trailers we get after this will be much more exciting than this. But as far as the first trailer goes, I wasn’t as excited as most people seem to be. But it did make me much more interested in seeing Will Smith, Margot Robbie and Jared Leto in this film.

Manchester: I think everything you said is fair and spot on. Can we just have a moment of silence for Jai Courtney’s acting ability? It died long ago.

For reals though, this trailer wasn’t great or anything like that, but I do think it will drum up interest and get people associated with the movie. I know I am certainly more interested than before, basically because of The Enchantress and Leto’s Joker. Like you said, the way he delivered such a simple line convinced you and many others (like myself) that this Joker won’t be a disaster (even if his appearance is one). I think they are relying on him a lot to market this movie in its early stages and I wonder how big of a player he’ll be in the film. I can see them using him early in the marketing to reel people in and then with later trailers they’ll focus on the leads.

I do think we need to realize it’s only the first trailer for a movie that has only been filming for a few months and is still just over a year away. They probably didn’t have much to show, so they settled for what they had – pointless shots of characters walking and staring. Boring characters walking and staring, at that. Like you said, I hope this movie succeeds, and for that to happen, Rick Flag, Captain Boomerang (WTF kind of name is that?!?!), Diablo, Slipknot, Katana, and Killer Croc need to make sure they don’t steal too much screen time from the rest of the Squad.

Neither of us have mentioned Batman yet! To those who didn’t know prior to seeing this trailer, Batman will be making an appearance in this movie. We don’t know in what fashion or for how long he will be in the film. I assume that the chase scene (where he’s hanging on to the Joker’s car) will be his only sequence in the film; it might even be a flashback to before the events of the film. I doubt he will have a big presence. He seems to be in this trailer only as a way to connect with the general audience and let them know a little bit of what this movie is – it’s in DC’s cinematic universe, these are Batman villains, yes, that is actually the Joker.

Overall this trailer succeeded in bringing interest to the film, but it was a bit unspectacular.

Malaiko: Yeah, it was only the first trailer so I’m looking forward to seeing more in the future. Speaking of the future, we’ve also learned that the Green Lantern reboot is officially titled Green Lantern Corps. and, as many rumors indicate, it is likely that we will see two Green Lanterns appear in the film — Hal Jordan and John Stewart — and that they will be played by Chris Pine and Tyrese Gibson.

I’m not gonna lie, I’m not too excited about either one of those choices. My ideal casting for Hal Jordan would be Nathan Fillion and for John Stewart I would have to go with Derek Luke. Fillion, to me, is a solid actor who can be both serious and funny whenever it’s needed and he looks just like the character. Hal has more of a laid bad, sarcastic and reckless attitude and I feel like Fillion definitely embodies that to perfection. I picked Derek Luke as John Stewart because he is extremely underrated as an actor. This guy is super talented, has put out nothing but solid performances movie after movie, and yet he’s usually under the radar. He could definitely play the more serious, more focused and driven John Stewart and would be a perfect counterpart to Nathan Fillion’s character and screen presence. Those two would be perfect in the roles, more so than Chris Pine and Tyrese, even though I am a fan of both.

Also, I’ve never been a huge Green Lantern fan, never bought his comics. I always only see him in the Justice League comics or when he appears on someone else’s storyline. In the movie, I’d like to see them face a threat away from Earth. By the time this movie comes out we’ve already got Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Cyborg and Aquaman protecting the Earth. I’m pretty sure they can handle it. Let’s see the Lanterns take their adventure out into space, face an intergalactic threat as opposed to just a threat on Earth. I want to see something different and unique from that movie. What are your thoughts on the film and Chris Pine and Tyrese as Lanterns?

Manchester: I grew up a product of the late 90s and early 2000s, and I assume a lot of our readers did as well. There were so many great cartoons and one of the standouts was the Justice League cartoon. Because of my love for that show, Green Lantern, to me, has always been John Stewart. Unfortunately, he doesn’t really get the spotlight in mainstream media and usually takes a backstreet to Hal Jordan. Well, that’s about to change with Green Lant– oh wait, Tyrese Gibson might play him? Fuck!

I’m sorry, but Tyrese Gibson is just not a good actor. He needs to back the hell away from this role and let Warner Bros. give this role to someone who can actually act well. Gibson is best served as “comedy relief” (if you can even call what he does comedy) and oftentimes isn’t even funny. His career is mainly supported by the Fast & Furious franchise, where his only purpose is to deliver bad one-liners and be a wimp for “comedy.” A more talented actor deserves the mantle of John Stewart. I’ve never heard of Derek Luke, but I’ll trust you on him. My choice would be Idris Elba. Warner Bros., please don’t screw this up! Elba is easily one of my favorite actors. If anybody is interested in detective dramas, then check him out in BBC’s Luther. It’s probably one of the best detective dramas I’ve seen and Elba brings so much to the role. He has a wide acting range, he is physically imposing, and he just looks wonderful in green! Elba is no stranger to appearing in superhero movies, as he plays Heimdall in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so maybe there’s a chance for him to be John Stewart on the big screen.

John Luther as John Stewart? Yes please!
John Luther as John Stewart? Yes please!

As for Hal Jordan, I do think that Chris Pine would make a good Green Lantern. Admittedly, I’ve only seen him as Captain Kirk in the recent Star Trek films and I’ve loved him in that role (I also really love those movies). He is charismatic, witty, and just fun as Kirk — those same qualities apply to Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan. Reynolds was the least thing wrong with 2011’s Green Lantern. I wouldn’t mind Pine in the role, but I do like your suggestion of Nathan Fillion. He too can be sarcastically funny while also believably serious. I loved him on Castle and I think he would do great as a Lantern, although I don’t know if he wants to portray Hal Jordan on film or just stick to voicing him in the animated movies.

Like you said, the Lanterns need to stick to space. You detailed how Earth has its heroes, so let’s have the Lanterns roam around space, warding off evil-doers. I could see Green Lantern Corps starting out on Earth with one Lantern (Jordan or Stewart) recruiting the other to join him in space. Also, they need someone to nail the part of Sinestro. I wish Mark Strong would come back to the role, but the likelihood of that is low.

As long as Warner Bros. casts the right actors, I’ll go see this film happily. If Tyrese Gibson finds himself in the role of the badass John Stewart, then I’ll be severely disappointed. Chant with me – Elba! Elba! Elba! Elba! Elba!

Malaiko: Idris Elba is such a talented actor, I definitely think his talent is being put to waste in Marvel. They could have had him play a much more important character but I’m sure they regret that decision by now. Since he has a contract with Marvel I’m not sure if he could start in a DC movie but by the time the Green Lantern Corps. starts production, his contract with Marvel will be long done (I believe he’s only under contract for one more movie — Thor: Ragnarok) so he should be able to do it.

Okay now for the disgrace called Fantastic Four… I don’t know what to say about Fantastic Four anymore. They released the last trailer at Comic-Con and honestly I still don’t care about the movie. My stance hasn’t changed at all and the footage hasn’t done anything to persuade me otherwise. Even when we get new footage I don’t really see anything that makes me feel like this movie is going to be good.

We finally see Doom and he looks like a nutsack that got dipped in radioactive ooze who can now use the force. The acting looks awful. The way Miles Teller (Mr. Fantastic) delivered the “I just want to fix my friends” line is just bad, he sounds so bored and uninspired. Same with his line where he asks “What is coming?” He sounds sleepy, emotionless and unattached, like he’s basically saying “I just want to get this over this so I can get paid.” The Thing isn’t wearing any pants, for whatever reason, and I don’t know where his penis went. His voice sounds hilarious, it sounds like a little kid’s voice and it’s just weird because of how big and strong of a character he is. Michael B. Jordan and Kate Mara have barely had any lines in these trailers, I honestly don’t even know why they’re there. These trailers have basically just focused on Reed and the Thing with voiceover being done by one of the scientists and the military guys.

Dr. Doom "looks like a nutsack that got dipped in radioactive ooze who can now use the force." -- Malaiko, 2015
Dr. Doom “looks like a nutsack that got dipped in radioactive ooze who can now use the force.” — Malaiko, 2015

They’re trying so hard to make this movie grounded and “realistic” but this is a movie about a guy who can stretch like rubber, a woman who turns invisible, a guy who is a walking boulder and a guy who literally lights up on fire fighting a man who goes by Dr. Doom in an alternate dimension. There is nothing realistic about that. Fantastic Four movies should have a theme that is hopeful, cartooney and campy in a way because that’s how the source material is. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and the movies shouldn’t either. This “everything has to be dark and brooding” mentality that came due to the success of The Dark Knight trilogy is just nonsense. Not every superhero movie needs to be dark and depressing; some movies can and should be cheerful and hopeful and full of light. The only character who should be brooding is Batman. Fantastic Four is Marvel’s first family and their comics have always been lighthearted and fun. This is just too much, I don’t have any expectations for this movie whatsoever, and I’m not interested in seeing it in theaters either. Going to have to bootleg this one, unless fans who watch the film tell me it’s worth watching, which I highly doubt will happen.

Manchester: Bruh, you literally had me laughing out loud at “the disgrace called Fantastic Four.” I’m not as down on it as you are, but I’m not rushing to get in line on the release date either. Nothing from these trailers (and at this point, we’ve seen plenty of the film to make judgements on it) makes me want to see the movie.

You perfectly covered what’s terrible about it. Miles Teller just seems like he’s phoning it in, which is a shame, because he was excellent in one of my favorite movies last year, Whiplash. He played his character fantastically in that movie and even though I don’t care about drumming, the passion he portrayed his character with – the vigor, the emotion, the unrelenting desire to be great – made me care. In what we’ve see of Fantastic Four? He, and also the rest of the cast, just don’t look like they want to be there.

These Fantastic Four trailers have done little to get me excited for the movie. It looks bland and uninteresting. Like you said, after The Dark Knight, dark and brooding comic book movies became the norm for DC and now Fox. I don’t think that tone fits with this franchise. Visually, the new F4 doesn’t look aesthetically pleasing either. The costumes look like trash, Doom just looks awkward, The Thing looks like Graveler from Pokemon, and the Human Torch’s fire CGI looks like a step back from the previous F4 movies. This alternate dimension looks generic and boring. Plot-wise, the film does little to excite me, someone who has little interest in the Fantastic Four to begin with.

I am really curious to see how this does at the box office. You said you might bootleg it and I honestly don’t even know if it’s worth the time and effort to torrent. I’ll just wait until I can see it for free at my school’s auditorium.

To wrap up this 5000 word discussion, I just want to thank those who read it all the way down here. You da real MVPs!

And that concludes this Superhero Roundtable Discussion! Be on the lookout for more and if you want to add to the discussion or if you have any suggestions for topics, make sure to drop a comment below! We thank you for reading!

The Future of DC’s Cinematic Universe

Avengers: Age of Ultron Review/Spoiler Talk

Most Anticipated Superhero Movies

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