Batman v Superman

Warner Bros. Pictures

Comic-Con has begun to rear its ugly head. And with it, the fans patiently waiting for Comic-Con have quietly gone insane, and are now treating every baseless internet rumor like pure liquid truth dribbled from the mouth of a loving God. But fear not, you crazed rabble. Warner Bros and Zack Snyder have provided something real: the first photo of the Man of Steel (thanks to USA Today) in this Man of Steel sequel with a completely different title. Take it in below.

(And please adjust your screen brightness accordingly. You’ve been warned.)

Batman v Superman

Warner Bros. Pictures

Superman’s belt buckle is square, where before it was rounded, but other than that it looks like the same costume, more or less. Really, what’s worth mentioning here is the tone. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice has decided our first impression of Superman should be a Superman who stands in the middle of a thunderstorm and stares into our eyes with a mix of derision and trying not to cry.

It’s painfully somber. And it’s also the exact thing that the vast majority disliked about Man of Steel: its weepy screaming Superman.

As a demonstration, allow me to travel to a certain tomato-based film site, and select the first five Top Critics reviews. Doesn’t matter how they’re sorted, doesn’t matter if they’re positive or negative — just the first five that pop up. Now, here’s a relevant quote from each:

“The movie has turned the iconography of terror attacks into pornographic exploitation.” – Grantland

“The movie consists of endless declamation, endless violence.” – The New Yorker

“There’s very little humor or joy in this Superman story.” – Richard Roeper

“The grim tones favored by Nolan (and Snyder) may be a natural fit for the nocturnal exploits of Batman, but when it comes to a flying man in blue and red spandex, a little jocularity can go a long way.” – The Atlantic

“Why so serious?” – Newsday

Oh, and for the record, The Atlantic actually liked the movie.

The consensus is the same across all of reviewdom. People didn’t like sad gray Superman; they’d prefer one who’s a little brighter and a little more of a guy their inner children can look up to. The photo above — wherein Superman’s tears are hidden by the pouring rain, presumably as “Dust in the Wind” by Kansas plays in the background — smacks just a little of Zack Snyder and co. plugging their fingers in their ears and singing “la la la, I’m not listening” until everyone goes away.

The new Superman photo is actually darker than the equivalent first photo tease from Man of Steel. It’s darker than the first photo of Batman. Batman. He, at least, had a noticeable light source. Also Batman’s a superhero who really should be scowling at all times — if “resting bitch face” is a thing, consider Batman as having “resting stepped on a LEGO” face. The expression he’s making in that first photo is probably the same one he’d make if you saved Robin from being chewed up by a wheat thresher. Or if you offered him a crisp and refreshing Diet Coke.

The point of having multiple superheroes is the contrasting characters. Batman, traditionally, is dark and brooding. Superman, traditionally, is not dark and brooding, at all. Wonder Woman has no stake in the matter, and really just likes stabbing giant monsters in the face with a big sword.

I know Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is trying to do its own thing and not be The Avengers, but for everyone’s sakes it should probably just copy everything it can from Marvel. Iron man suffers from crippling depression and has the film’s big life and death story- dark, brood, dark, brood. Captain America wears bright primary colors and inspires the common man to be a hero. Thor is a big fan of smashing stuff with his antiquated-yet-magical medieval weapon. It’s the same damn thing, people. Buy ‘em a pair of bat ears, a cape, and a vial of black hair dye for Chris Hemsworth and we’re good to go.

Like the man said (that man being Matt Zoller Seitz), a little jocularity can go a long way. And even The Dark Knight, the patron saint of superhero death marches, had actual jokes in it.

Lucius Fox: I must say, compared to your usual requests, jumping out of an airplane is pretty straightforward.

Bruce Wayne: And what about getting back into the plane?
Lucius Fox: I’d recommend a good travel agent.
Let’s try and get at least one superhero smiling by the end of this thing, okay? [USA Today]

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