This week at the San Diego Comic Con we finally saw the release of the two highly anticipated teasers for George Miller’s upcoming Mad Max reboot Fury Road, and Zack Snyder’s Batman/Superman crossover and Justice League springboard Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice. These projects have been garnering heaps of hype online so I’ve decided to delve into the released footage and give my opinion on what Miller and Snyder have given us. I have to say I’m cautiously optimistic for both features, although I’m fairly certain both have potential to be total trainwrecks and unfortunately it can’t be said that the trailers are always doing them favours.
First up, the officially released Mad Max: Fury Road trailer. In summary: it’s totally badass – violent, brutal and unforgiving, what we get here looks to retain the mood and aesthetic of Mad Max, The Road Warrior, and its homages like the Rover, repurposing it slightly with a new coat of gloss for the Snyder/Bay generation. Make no mistake, this looks like Mad Max with a touch of Nolan and a sprinkle of hyperbrutality added in for good measure. The trailer gives us a few glimpses at Max, some visually striking set-pieces, and cars, lots and lots of cars. In a way it looks like a bit of more like a sequel to Doomsday or Death Race than a reboot of Mad Max, which is a bit ironic as they were both extremely derivative of Miller’s first two entries into the series. It is worth noting that the film doesn’t even slightly tease at the plot, instead providing us with a barrage of stunning visuals – once these details are revealed I doubt it will be that reminiscent of Death Race or Doomsday anymore.
As I see it, this film will either live or die by its classification, especially given the brutal content in the trailer. A hard R will appease franchise fans and might give us the balls out studio action film we’ve all been waiting for, but runs a risk by decreasing the films audience base, restricting it from the apparently crucial 13-16 demographic. I’m not so sure this should be a concern for Miller since films like Bridesmaids have proved that R-rated films in genres that traditionally have few recent R-rated entries can pull huge numbers if the content is of high enough quality, but I also understand that studios are cautious to take a risk when PG-13 holds a better chance of recouping a films budget. Conversely, toning down the violent content we’re presented in the trailer to achieve a PG-13 rating will likely alienate the franchise’s pre-existing fanbase and will make it harder to really do justice to the Mad Max brand, possibly giving us another Beyond Thunderdome. What we stand to lose is a large part of what made the original and the Road Warrior so special. Charlize Theron has already commented that if the film that gets released has everything from the shooting script included Miller will be pushing it to get a PG-13 so we’ll just have to wait and see how this pans out, and if we get a Mad Max that is true to its roots or a neutered 21st century vision of the desolate Mad Max universe.
The other exciting video to come out of San Diego Comic Con (this time leaked footage shot on a cellphone that has since been taken down) is the teaser for Zack Snyder’s upcoming Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice.The video, which I caught before Warner Bros. had it removed from Youtube, shows Batman lighting what turns out to be the Batsignal (with a design copied straight from Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, the comic which inspired the new film). The camera pans up to reveal something obscuring the light from the Batsignal; Superman, with glowing red eyes hovering in the air. We then cut back to Batman’s face as the image darkens, with piercing white fluorescent lit eyes breaking through the blackened frame. It’s been recreated with action figures in the video above if you need to visualize it although I don’t recommend it – the video lacks the sense of excitement conjured by the original video; we miss out on the crowds frenzied reaction, the off-centre phone framing and terrible picture quality that made it feel like you were watching something truly exclusive and special. Snyder definitely knows his convention audience and what would send them over the edge: the trailer feels way more like a video game promo than a film teaser, and hypes you up to the extreme for all the wrong reasons – it tells you nothing about the film and is little more than just flashing lights. There’s no hint as to how they’ve repurposed Miller’s comic to function as a Dawn of Justice film, as it is inspired by something that was most definitely a sort of End of Justice story arc, in which we saw an older, washed up Batman facing off with an overly powerful and slightly corrupted Superman (if you want to see a great adaptation of these comics check out the DC Universe Animated Original Movies releases from the last two years).
While I do have to say, I have far greater hope for Fury Road than Dawn of Justice overall, I’m keen to see what the two films end up bringing to the table, although if I have to speculate I’m thinking we’ll be seeing a lot more style over substance (not that that’s necessarily a bad thing) from both films, and we’ll probably see a fair bit of meaningful character development substituted for huge explosions and general anarchy. In other words, sign me up.