Any remaining voices of rumbling discontent at the casting of Ben Affleck or the usurping of the Man of Steel franchise in favour of a shared DC cinematic universe were pretty spectacularly silenced a few weeks ago, when Warner Bros. released the eyeball-singingly good trailer for their 2016 superhero smackdown at SDCC a few weeks back.
Quick to capitalise on the new wave of buzz surrounding the release Empire‘s latest cover boasts an impressive image of the World’s Finest striding into the foreground, looking like they’re about to throatpunch their way to justice!
As well as being a pretty badass cover it’s a fairly apt visual metaphor for the DC Cinematic Universe (or the DC Expanded Universe as absolutely nobody outside of Warner Bros. is calling it).
This image represents WB and DC setting up their stall right from the outset. Most noticeable is the dark and ominous tone. While the colours are richer and more vibrant than in most of the promotional images for Man of Steel, or indeed the Dark Knight trilogy, the heavy clouds and shadows remind us just how seriously WB are taking their properties. Whether as a fan you perceive that as good or bad or write or wrong it makes sense for a brand trying to differentiate itself from Marvel’s largely earnest but convivial tone. WB are pointing their two biggest guns at an audience primed for an altogether different kind of cinematic universe.
Also of note is the sheer presence of Batman. While the cover is split more or less 50/50 the Dark Knight is practically elbowing his sauntering Kryptonian adversary out of his way. Again, it’s an obvious play to capitalise on Batman’s popularity, especially in light of MoS’ mixed reception (for the record, we at Nerdifi loved it near-universally). Not since Michael Keaton crashed through his first skylight in 1989’s first hurried Batman trailer has the fanboy community swallowed its words and quietly put away their soap boxes. Let’s face it, if the worst criticisms the angry geek contingent can muster are a few weak jabs at the thickness of Affleck’s neck you’ve got to be doing something right!
It almost goes without saying that both characters look terrific. Batman’s costume with its myriad scuffs and marks seems to look better every time I see it and the regal alien design of Superman’s threads benefits from the slight tweaks since its previous outing (will they be explained as part of the narrative or be a concession that we make going into the film, only time will tell).
The tear down the middle hints at a fractious relationship between the eponymous titans but I like that they appear to be walking alongside each other, as opposed to facing each other the way they have been in most promotional material for the film.
The implication is clear. After an epic tussle the Man of Tomorrow and the Masked Manhunter will reconcile their differences, grab us by the arms and launch us headlong into the cinematic DC Universe.
And we absolutely can’t wait!