As is usual during San Diego Comic Con, every studio and their grandmothers puts out trailers for movies and television shows. This year is no exception. And there are about a million of them. Or two. I’m not sure. But there’s a lot.
But I thought it’d be nice – and maybe the start of an annual tradition – to showcase some of these trailers and give my impressions of what we should expect to see in the coming twelve months or so.
To start, I’m going to admit that this is an incomplete list, because, with one remarkable exception, I’m limiting myself to comic and superhero related movies and shows. Also, there may be more. If so, I’ll revise this post and include them.
Also, I can’t post more than two actual trailers per post, so there’ll be links at the end directing you to them on YouTube, because mainly I’m vain and want you to sup at the table of my writing genius before going to look at them.
Some have gotten me excited, some intrigued, some… well, one, anyway… as disappointing as expected.
Television and internet video first:
Let’s get unexpected! Season four of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is nearly upon us. The little show that could – it was in actual danger of being cancelled in the first season – is still chugging along, holding up its end of the Marvel Cinematic Universe legacy. Coulson and company have been put through the wringer, and even though ratings are still steadily declining, the show has become more and more of a critical darling – with season three getting a 100% rating by Rotten Tomatoes – and is being renewed for 22 more episodes. A lot of characters and concepts from the comics have been introduced to fans through the show, most notably the Inhumans.
But get a gander at the teaser for season four. Is that… Cheese and crackers! It is! I won’t spoil the surprise for you if you haven’t seen it, but let’s just say a major character from the comics who was the victim of two patently horrible movies will be making an appearance.
Next, we have a buttload of teasers and trailers from Netflix, closing in on their promise to bring about the much talked-about, long-awaited Defenders miniseries.
First, we have Luke Cage, who was introduced, and was a major player, in the acclaimed Jessica Jones series (and no, still no word on when her season two will appear, although it has been greenlighted). Now he gets his own shot at the spotlight, and the man looks even more badass. Plus, there’s a subtle callback to a famous scene from the series that started this whole ball rolling. And for our fourth and final member of the Defenders, a teaser for Iron Fist, focusing on his origin, rather than picking up the series in medias res. What I like about the Marvel shows on Netflix – well, one of the many, many things – is that every one of them so far seem to look like a shit-ton of money was used to make each one. While it may take upwards of 200 million dollars or more to make a theatrical film, television budgets can’t handle that kind of scope. So they don’t. The appeal of such shows as Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and now Luke Cage and Iron Fist, is that these shows are focused on the gritty underside of the MCU. These are street-level heroes, fighting villains in a more real-world setting. Or as close as you can get with people dressing in costumes and having powers. But these shows don’t skimp on story, characters, actors or budget. Daredevil just keeps getting better. Jessica Jones proved that a superpowered woman could lead an adult-oriented series that dealt with serious issues such as sexual and psychological abuse and PTSD, without pandering or preaching. So I expect nothing less in quality from Luke Cage and Danny Rand when it’s their turn at bat, and these trailers look like I – and all other expectant fans – will get exactly what we’re hoping for.
Plus, I threw in a couple of teasers for Daredevil season 3 and the Defenders series, just for fun. To be honest, as high as the stakes were for the first Daredevil season – could this work? – they’re even higher for Defenders. As each individual series fleshes out all of the characters that will define this team, the question is, will a show featuring all of them be able to live up to its promise? Will it be greater or less than the sum of its parts? But hearing Scott Glenn‘s Stick trash-talking the team just makes me want to see it all the more. We may be in for a grand finale to the Netflix experiment that surpasses all promises and expectations.
The next trailer kind of caught me by surprise. There is a character in the Marvel universe whose name, pardon the pun, is Legion. What makes this character interesting is that his mutant powers (yes, he’s one of those people) are manifested through his dissociative identity disorder. In other words, he has multiple personalities, and each one has his or her own superpower. I actually had to look up the character on Wikipedia, because he’s not one you’d think could carry a television series, and, at least to me, he’s pretty obscure. But the trailer for this series, airing on FX early next year, was intriguing, a little mind-bending and even light-hearted in places. The show could go in any direction, including a really bad, stupid one, but if it lives up to the promise of the trailer, it could be a hit with fans. Or at least critics.
And then there’s the one non-comic book trailer I promised earlier. The one I and a lot of people have been waiting years for. Producers for Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, after teasing us with one-by-one casting announcements and a few on-set photos, finally dropped a trailer to show us what the show will look like. A lot of people, when they first heard that this was going to be an ongoing series, had doubts. Because the novel has a beginning, a middle and a definite end. But then things started to happen that started making this show look better and better. The casting, for one thing. Names like Ian McShane, Gillian Anderson, Crispin Glover, the apparently immortal Cloris Leachman, Emily Browning and, in a nice surprise, Orlando Jones (where have you been, Orlando?) being doled out to fans like Halloween candy, just made folks like me start changing their minds about how seriously the producers were taking this. Add on top of that the fact that Neil Gaiman has not only given his blessing but also may write an episode or two himself, and things just keep getting more and more encouraging. Now, Gaiman has stated that the show will not slavishly follow the book, but will remain true to it. No novel ever survives being literally transcribed from page to screen, so some changes do need to be made. But I trust these guys to put me in the world of Shadow Moon and make me enjoy every minute of it.
Now the movies:
Warner Brothers dropped a special, if you can call it that, fan-baiting trailer for Justice League on SDCC like a turd sandwich. I had huge, huge issues with… that other movie… and after seeing the new trailer, all I’m wondering now is which character will drop the f-bomb in this one. Zack Snyder is becoming infamous for mischaracterizing longstanding, revered icons from the comics, and from what I saw in the trailer, this is no exception. We get a lonely, friendless Barry (Flash) Allen, played by Ezra Miller, who joins the team so he can have people to talk to. We get Jason Momoa playing Aquaman, but looking more like Rob Zombie of the Sea. I can’t even comment on the actor who plays Cyborg, because I’ve never heard of him, but at least his costume looks cool. And, of course, Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman looks poised to steal yet another DC movie out from under growly, unshaven Ben Affleck. (Seriously, dude. You’re Bruce Wayne! You can afford to buy some razors.) Add to that some of the usual suspects from the previous two movies, along with poor souls with too much free time or too little walking around money, like J. K. Simmons and Willem Dafoe, and this looks like just another Zack Snyder monochromatic clusterfuck, but with even more characters. And if Snyder comes out with an R-rated Ultimate Abomination home video release, I may have to take matters into my own hands.
Okay… give me a minute to get the bad taste out of my mouth and I’ll move on.
There we go. The next few movies, in ascending order of my desire to see them, go like this:
Suicide Squad. Now, while we can be assured that Snyder will take a big dump on the best team in DC Comics’ lineup, the jury’s still out on the bad guys and girls of Suicide Squad. The first teasers and trailers would have you believe that this was some dead-serious shit. Deadpool with a debilitating depression. But then there was the news about reshoots – again, reportedly because of the runaway success of Deadpool – to inject more levity into the project. And then there were the new trailers, which showcased an unexpectedly more lighthearted look at things. (And if I never hear “Ballroom Blitz” again, it’ll be too soon.) We get to see Will Smith be at least somewhat funny again, there are more scenes of Margo Robbie‘s butt… I mean, bat, and even The Joker seems more of a scamp. A scamp with a penchant for torture and killing, but still… So this one’s a crapshoot. It could be the runaway hit that DC hoped BvS would be, or it could crash and burn like the helicopter they keep featuring in every single trailer. This one’s fifty-fifty.
For you fans of Lego, though, here’s a fun surprise. Lego Batman is back! Will Arnett, in his best parody of all the Batmen (Batmans?) of the last almost thirty years, anchors what looks like a fun movie that will have Zack Snyder crying in his pillow, if there’s any… justice. All of the League big guns are in this one, and it looks like it’ll be just as fun as the last Lego Batman.
Marvel gave us another trailer for Doctor Strange that fleshes out the plot of the movie even more. Not that the first one skimped on anything, but here we’re treated to more mind-bending magic, more of Tilda Swinton‘s take on The Ancient One, and more of Stephen Strange’s journey and metamorphosis from callow surgeon to Master of the Mystic Arts. It’s going to take me a minute to get used to Benedict Cumberbatch‘s American accent, but I’ll manage. Add Chiwetel Ejiofor as Mordo and Mads Mikkelsen as the movie’s villain, and this one looks like another strong entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I can’t wait to see it. (And I know a certain undersea monster who is even more excited.)
And finally we get to the one that everyone was waiting for, everyone was holding their breath for, and that everyone was hoping beyond hope would be all it promised: Wonder Woman. There was a lot at stake in the making of this one. We had (at the time) a relatively little-known actress playing the lead character, the basic fear that this would be another cinematic trainwreck that has been the hallmark of DCEU movies so far, and the uncertainty that a woman could carry a superhero movie. Well, based on this trailer, I can confidently say that we probably have nothing to worry about. Gal Gadot looks great as the Amazon princess who journeys to Man’s World, and she seems to have a take on the character that we’ve, so far, only seen once before, and which completely stole a film. In this one, we get to see her in all her glory, without having to rescue other costumed characters from their own stupidity. This actually feels almost like a Marvel film! And that, folks, is about the highest praise one could bestow on a DCEU movie at this point. I like Chris Pine as Steve Trevor, I like the idea of Diana being extremely long-lived, if not immortal. And I especially like the fact that they turned the whole concept of her first appearance in Man’s World upside down by plopping her into the midst of the First World War rather than the Second. Call me crazy (many have, I’m used to it by now), but all of this really works for me. Of all the movies coming from DC, this looks like it’s going to be the diamond in a pile of poo.
Now, as promised, here are the teasers and trailers, in order. Just click on the link to go take a look!