It’s been no secret that for years now, Warner Bros has made a hash of its DC properties on screen. While they might have started the current trend of superhero tent pole films (take the likes of the original Superman series, or the Burton-Schumacher Batman films), with Marvel struggling to get anything going for them, the tables have well and truly been turned of late. Marvel has managed to score such slam dunks as the Iron Man series, the Thor films, and above all, the Avengers universe. In the same time, Warners has struggled to even ape the Marvel model. They hoped to get a unified universe off the ground with their Green Lantern film, but well, that film has a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 26% for a reason.
When it was announced at last year’s San Diego Comic Con, the mecca of all things comic and geek, that Warner Bros would be attempting a unified universe again with their sequel to 2013’s box office superhit (but critically “meh”) Man of Steel, I was sceptical. It isn’t just that I don’t trust Snyder completely right now. Or the fact that without Nolan present to look over his shoulder, David Goyer can turn out to be a shockingly clunky writer. It was just that it all felt too rushed. A new version of Batman less than 5 years before Nolan’s definitive take? How do you manage that, man? How can you even hope to top Nolan’s take? Or even differentiate your own take?
And then they cast Ben Affleck. Yep, Daredevil was all shades of terrible, but I was willing to get behind that guy. He seems perfect Bruce Wayne material. Specially an older Bruce Wayne. Plus, his recent escapades as a director suggest he actually has a head for story and pacing and nuance—all things that the “visionary director of 300 and Watchmen” (Zack Snyder) lacks. Maybe, it was a silent admission of Warner Bros’ part that Snyder still needs some sort of guidance when it comes to character development. And this was just reiterated when Affleck got his Oscar winning writer, Chris Terrio (Argo) on to the project. Yep, things seemed to be looking up.
But then, bombshells were dropped on us. Wonder Woman would be in the project. Maybe they were rushing a bit, but it could work. Oh wait. They just cast Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman! A woman, notorious for how skinny she is, would be playing a female superhero notorious for how buff she is! Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor. And a Lex Luthor with hair. All these were wild departures from not just the norm, but what any fan of these properties could have (and would have) hoped for. Especially considering that the great Bryan Cranston was such a perfect fan favourite for Luthor.
For all these reasons, Warner Bros might have felt the pressure coming into this year’s San Diego Comic Con. Coming to the biggest geek event on Earth, with fans firmly sitting on edge, waiting to tear you to pieces for any sign of disrespect to their beloved characters, is not an easy thing to do. And boy, did Warner Bros put on a show!
As this insane first character look at Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’s Wonder Woman proves, WB and Snyder really seem to have gotten the character look down to a pat. And really, the Wonder Woman costume has proven to be one of the toughest to get right on screen. A skirt too short, and you get slammed for having a “leery eye”. A departure from the comic book costume (as the 2011 Wonder Woman pilot tried by giving the character a blue pants), and fans go up in an uproar. But this costume really seems to convey the character’s toughness and vulnerabilities, even making up for Gal Gadot’s slight built.
But more than this reveal, fans went giddy after getting their first look at actual footage from the 2016 film. I’m sure you have all read descriptions of the footage (if you haven’t, it’s a tease to an epic showdown between Batman and Superman, with plenty of mood and atmosphere about the two characters). Some of you might have even seen bootlegged versions of the footage (if you haven’t its best to wait till an official release of the footage. It will literally blow your mind). After watching this footage, I really have no doubt that Snyder and co have found their own (cinematically) unique take on the character. A faithful adaptation of the character from Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns (which also, coincidentally, had a showdown between Batman and Superman), this version seems grittier and more ruthless than anything Nolan ever committed to screen.
Snyder has never let fans down when it comes to the visuals. And that is particularly true of the clip shown too. Oodles of style, immense teases, and atmosphere right for such an epic showdown. Even knowing this tendency of Snyder’s I am suddenly more than silently optimistic about the film, and about the entire unified DC universe. There seems to be great talent involved, and the choice of teases (till now) seem to suggest that those in control have a firm understanding of what is needed. And, for that, I believe Warner Bros deserves hearty congratulations.
©Rachit Agarwal for PosterGully.com