The word "perfect" is defined as "having all of the required or desirable elements, qualities or characters; as good as it is possible to be."
That is exactly how I would describe the new four minute long Justice League trailer that debuted at San Diego Comic Convention as part of the DC Extended Universe panel in Hall H. PERFECT. Since the very first "Icky Thump" teaser that we saw at last year's convention, expectations and hype for the first ever live-action cinematic portrayal of the legendary team have been high and have only gotten higher since. The "Come Together" trailer that released in March of this year only stoked the fire and then the unbridled success of Wonder Woman's first feature film put the DCEU in uncharted territory, where it was being largely praised for its work instead of panned like it was in 2016.
So it is more than appropriate that the new comic-con trailer for Justice League begins with Diana of Themyscira busting her way into a building to save school children from armed thugs who are in no way a match for her, which is probably why she tells a co-worker that she didn't do anything very interesting over the weekend. Nevertheless, the tone is set for Justice League's new trailer right off the bat by establishing a connecting thread to the Wonder Woman movie and also setting up the state of Planet Earth in the DCEU today. The world is still reeling from Superman's death and it's left a void big enough for crime to try to fill it, leaving people to wonder if "The Superman" was the only hero that the planet truly had. Even The Batman himself hasn't been around, but we know from the end of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the end of Suicide Squad and the first two Justice League trailers that he is looking for other metahumans to form a team that will defend against the threat he is certain is coming to the planet.
That threat is Steppenwolf and his army of parademons, who in this new trailer descend on Themyscira to pay a visit to Queen Hippolyta and the Amazons courtesy of a mother box in their possession. It is on the first official on screen glance of the Apokoliptian general that we get a montage to his demonstrative words: "No protectors here. No Lanterns. No Kryptonian. This world will fall, like all the others."
Yes, we get our first official mention of the Lanterns in the DCEU, as in the Green Lanterns that many fans have been chomping at the bit to see. What makes this part of the trailer great is that Steppenwolf's words about the lack of protectors on Earth is juxtaposed against a montage of the League itself in "natural" form, with Arthur Curry in the waters of Atlantis, Diana in street clothes on a sidewalk, Victor Stone post-accident and mechanical, possibly looking at a broken window from his father Silas Stone's apartment after a parademon encounter, Bruce Wayne studying a CGI rendering of Superman at his cave, and Barry Allen shattering a glass window with the Speed Force. In true trailer structured form, the protectors of Earth that are thought not to exist are in fact there, but not together yet and unless they unite, Steppenwolf's fiery axe that appears to spread death and destruction across the land will surely mean the fall of Earth itself.
It's then that we get our unlikely MVP of the new trailer: Alfred Pennyworth, played so well by Jeremy Irons. I had heard that he would have a more active role in Justice League than he even did in BvS and this new trailer certainly seems to indicate that. He looks to be playing the role that Alfred should be playing in this instance, which is that of the audience that is coming to grips with the reality of just how much the real world is changing even from what has already happened in both Man of Steel and BvS. It was his character that had the great "men fall from the sky" dialogue in BvS to note how Superman's presence had changed the world they live in, and now here he delivers a similar line to Bruce that functions as an easter egg as well: "One misses the days where one's biggest concerns were exploding wind-up penguins." Josh Gad, anyone?
This really serves to illustrate the great thing about the structure of the DCEU to this point, and that is the fact that instead of being introduced to this world at the very beginning of its superhero and metahuman formation, we are dropped right into the middle of it with Superman's appearance in MoS and have been building from the inside out to reveal that what we thought was a simpler "real" world is in fact part of a much, much larger world that encompasses aliens, metahumans and magic. It's jarring for these characters, Alfred in particular here and also Aquaman right after who says "This is crazy" as we watch Steppenwolf amass his army for attack. As the big montage of the second half of the trailer begins, we get the viewpoint of almost every member of the team individually. Aquaman has his worries but is ready to fight all out, while Bruce is matter-of-fact and interested in getting the job done. Diana is the compassionate one, telling the team not to engage alone and that they will do it together, while Allen's Flash is more than scared about his "combat readiness," telling Batman that he's never done battle and has only "pushed some people and run away." Barry is certainly the rookie of the group despite his electrifyingly gorgeous powers on display here, but it's clear that Stone's Cyborg has his and the entire group's back as he forcibly hacks into a damaged Nightcrawler, one of Batman's vehicles and tells Alfred to relax, he will take it from here.
From there, it's a montage of the group fighting Steppenwolf and his army while Bruce speaks of Superman as a beacon to the world, interrupted only by Alfred who tells him he doesn't recognize this world. Bruce responds, "We don't have to recognize it. We just have to save it." The battle montage includes Amazons fighting on horseback, Steppenwolf tossing his axe at Aquaman in Atlantis and Aquaman himself using a dead parademon as a surf board through several floors of a building. It's the visual style throughout the DCEU, particularly in Zack Snyder's films that we have come to know and love, but with more levity and lighter moments within the incredible action, evoking again a tone that seems to have been set with Wonder Woman and is likely to continue. We even get to see the teased scene from the set visit last year where Flash remarks how rude it was for everyone else to leave J.K. Simmons' Commissioner Gordon abruptly, before he zips away himself. What's more important about that scene is Gordon's question to the group: "How many of you are there?" Batman replies, "Not enough," which takes us to the line of the entire trailer at the end.
Alfred working on something, perhaps a vehicle, somewhat startled as we get a Jurassic Park style tremor of the drink in his glass, when he looks up to speak to someone off camera, someone that he wasn't surprised to see at all, but is still seemingly in some awe of. Alfred's only words to him: "He said you'd come. Now let's hope you're not too late."
One of the most impressive things that the new Justice League trailer does is make the presence and absence of Superman felt throughout the entire runtime, right up to that last scene where it is heavily implied that he is who Alfred is speaking to, freshly risen from the dead, without a single visual reveal of the costume or Henry Cavill's titular character himself. It is now abundantly clear that while WB fully understands the importance of Superman in the Justice League, that they are also fully committed to keeping his triumphant return a secret on screen that we likely now will not see until the actual movie is released on November 17. While there are those anxious for his return that would have liked to have seen him in this trailer, I think it is great that he was not in it, but yet still was since he was heavily mentioned and implied throughout. A stroke of brilliance from WB on that part for sure.
Justice League is a movie that at one time was considered the make or break movie for the DCEU's continued success, but notably now the success of Wonder Woman has relaxed the pressure a decent amount. The DCEU is now a $3 billion and counting franchise and a stellar performance from Justice League will surely push it over $4 billion by year's end, but now it may finally have the opportunity to be a true establishing movie for the rest of the DCEU slate that is to come afterwards, starting with Aquaman in 2018 and Shazam right after that. Indeed, this new Justice League trailer looks like a culmination of the first four films of the DCEU in terms of an established world and also looks like a movie that is going to set new parameters for how the world works as well going forward. Each DCEU movie to this point has been centered around an event and Justice League looks no different, and it is those events that shape the story and structure of the DCEU, allowing our heroes to rise up out of it build a new reality and set of rules for the world itself. It's not the kind of world building that people may be used to with other franchises, but it is clear within this new comic-con trailer for Justice League that it is a solid and balanced form of world building that looks like a TON of fun.
I have never wished for November to hurry up and get here this much in my entire life. I wish it was today, seriously. We are truly witnessing some great live action comic book glory here.