Marketing of Steel

Watch this trailer for Man of Steel.

I’m not going to lie. Watching this just now made me want to drop everything and watch the whole movie again. It’s a damn good trailer, and you can go back and watch all of the early marketing material for Man of Steel and find they are exceptional. These trailers filled me with hope for the ultimate Superman movie. Did we get that movie? Well, it’s debatable but I stand in the no category.

Actually I stand in the should have continued on with a sequel to Superman Returns category, but that is a very small one.

I find the dichotomy between the Man of Steel trailers and Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice* fascinating. None of them can seem to agree on what the tone of the movie will be. The first trailer came out with a very mean persona.

Everyone hates Superman and Superman hates everyone else. We’re all angry so let’s fight. It decidedly going in a different direction than Man of Steel, which…

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It certainly worked for Captain America’s sequel. The movie appeared content to inhabit its very dark and jokeless world, and show what is probably a very realistic fallout of having aliens rain death on the most major metropolitan city in the world. Although the part where people are in love with Superman is a bit harder to swallow, simply because of how little time he spent in Man of Steel actually saving people.

Still, it was followed up by a much looser and stranger trailer.

Suddenly, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is the most comic book movie on the market. We’ve got Kryptonite, Wonder Woman, Doomsday, and Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor by way of Max Landis. Plus, at the end, a real live joke! This trailer’s tone really leaned into being fun, not epic or mean. None of these trailers have reached the soaring heights of that Man of Steel trailer, which is unfortunate since I would assume the same marketing department is releasing them and the footage to make something emotionally epic and sweeping is still there, but at least the final trailer made me want to go see the movie.

The opening feels ripped directly from a Batman comic, with the heightened fight choreography that Nolan’s films really downplayed. The line about “if there’s a 1% chance” regarding Superman completely sells me on Batman’s motivations. Finally, for the love of god, Wonder Woman gets a line! It’s big and action packed, but looks like it will be a fun ride here. A far cry from the first trailer for the film.

I wonder if each trailer they release is a reaction to the one before. They clearly arrived with a marketing plan in mind. One similar to Man of Steel but darker. However, when fan reaction wasn’t positive enough they pivoted into a more kinetic direction. It is fascinating, since Marvel is releasing a very similar movie about two months later, how Warner Brothers is spinning this marketing into a more comic book style, while also working their asses off to make the voice here distinct from that Marvel one.

Although let’s be honest, we were all sold on Captain America: Civil War from the first trailer.

*Inside joke from Birth.Movies.Death

-JP

PS, My father has long held a torch for Superman’s red underwear on the outside. He’s right. The red underwear doesn’t inform the character in any way so why bother taking it away from him. But if I may draw the line on another issue…

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They took the globe off the Daily Planet! What the hell!? It’s iconic you mad men, put it back!

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