‘Tis the season for Super (see what we did there?) short teasers. They’re all the rage, allowing production companies to keep fans interested even if the movies and TV shows they’re promoting aren’t coming for quite a bit. Let’s break down the two big—but brief—teasers just out.
There has probably not been so much said about so little. The short of it is that DC/Warner Bros. is essentially rebooting the Batman franchise again. This is the fourth time, starting with the 1989 “Batman” originally starring Michael Keaton (four movies), the 2008 “Dark Knight” trilogy (directed by Christopher Nolan starring Christian Bale) and the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) with Ben Affleck appearing in three films. “The Batman” was supposed to be directed by Affleck and to star him, but that is no longer the case.
“The Batman” is still supposed to be set in the DCEU but whether that sticks remains to be seen. One Batman-connected 2019 movie—“Joker” starring Joaquin Phoenix—is not, but another one—“Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of Harley Quinn” starring Margot Robbie—was. The movie is being directed by Matt Reeves, best known for two “Planet of the Apes” movies, and he’s dedicated himself to reinventing the Dark Knight for a new audience. Along those lines, he wanted a really different Batman, choosing British actor Robert Pattinson.
This project is so new that the admittedly fascinating cast has just been officially confirmed, including Zoe Kravitz as Selina Kyle, Colin Farrell as Oswald Cobblepot and Andy Serkis as Alfred. Principal photography has just begun in London; the film is due out in 2021.
But Reeves did release camera test footage of the much-anticipated Bat suit on his Vimeo account that has the internet buzzing.
Watch the teaser here on the FilmSelect YouTube channel:
Set to the ominous tones of what is apparent composer Michael Giacchino’s take on the classic “Batman” theme, the one-minute teaser starts off in complete darkness, then the camera starts to revolve and starts to focus. We see the Batman’s costume emerge, first across the chest, with a very technical-looking Bat symbol. We see a segmented, armored elbow and shoulder then the camera tilts up and we see Pattinson’s cowl. It’s a very sleek, sharp cowl and, as soon as we see his masked face in full, cuts out completely.
So, what can we see? Truth be told, the first look footage is so dark, analyses online have to done by artificially lighting up the teaser. There have been comparisons to the excellent “Batman Beyond” animated series. But the footage is lit in red, so we can only be sure that the Bat suit itself is matte black and that wicked Bat symbol is indeed red. The observation that the Bat symbol looks like a weapon by itself is spot on. It could easily be a removable Batarang. What it really reminds one of is a very Filipino reference: If removed, it looked like it could unleash a blade out of negative space like the Laser Sword from the seminal 1977 mecha anime “Voltes V.”
The suit takes on a very armored look even more than Christian Bale’s militaristic body armor. Affleck’s more “The Dark Knight Returns” suit took it back to a more costume-y, vintage style, but that’s been dumped for a far more involved, complex suit here. In particular, it reminds one of the plated re-design of another hero, the Japanese Ultraman, who was given a similarly armored look by Tomohiro Shimoguchi in the “Ultraman Begins” reboot manga in 2011.
The cowl is interesting. Unlike the immovable Keaton cowl that prevented him from turning his head without turning his entire body or the Bale cowl that was three different plates (with eye black), Pattinson’s cowl is clearly one piece, the sleekest and slimmest cowl so far. The front part looks cut high, like Affleck’s and very much unlike Bale’s. It remains to be proven definitively, but it does look somewhat flexible.
All we get with a glimpse, and the movie is over a year away, but this teaser does allay a lot of the early hysterical fears, that Pattinson wasn’t right for the role, that Batman had gone “Twilight,” and that Reeves didn’t know what he was doing. We will find out soon enough, check back next year, same Bat channel.
“Stranger Things” season 4
If you think the teaser for “The Batman” was vague, wait till you get a load of the teaser for Netflix’s sci-fi hit show “Stranger Things’” season 4. At the end of season 3, a secret Russian research facility under the Starcourt Mall in Hawkins had been outed. The meddling kids had successfully saved the planet from the rampaging Mind Flayer—with the help of an adorable duet rendition of Limahl’s “The Never-ending Story” by Lucas and Suzie. But in the process, Jim Hopper (David Harbour) had apparently been killed heroically when Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder) had to shut down the portal to the Upside Down, a necessary but sad development for “Stranger Things” fans. The same fans, however, were given hope almost immediately by a mid-credits scene that featured what was apparently a different research facility also manned by Russians. The guards are about to pull out one prisoner when one says, “no, not the American.” Fans, perhaps optimistically, believed that this “American” was Hopper, who had somehow survived the Upside Down and emerged in Russia, only to be imprisoned.
The problem is we didn’t know if this was true. “Stranger Things” had been renewed for a fourth season, but the creators, the Duffer brothers, gave no indication as to when the fourth season would drop on Netflix. They still haven’t, so we actually have no idea when this will happen, only that it will.
Watch the teaser here on YouTube:
Now, Netflix has dropped its first season 4 trailer. Nicknamed the “From Russia with Love” trailer, the teaser opens with a god’s eye view over a snow-covered landscape. Then we see some small buildings and people from afar. They are working on a railway line of some sort. There is fearful music with some chanting in Russian.
Returning from the fadeout, there are armed guards dressed in Russian winter gear with dogs on the ground and in watchtowers. There are closeups of assault rifles and machine guns.
Then we get a tracking shot through the railway. We see what appear to be prisoners in two rows, the camera moving between them. The camera then moves to the left, focusing on the back of one prisoner in particular. He removes his head and turns around. It is an emaciated Hopper, wiping sweat from his brow. He stares intensely as snow falls. Cut.
It’s certainly dramatic, but what does the minute-long trailer mean? The easiest takeaway is that Hopper is indeed alive and has been in captivity in Russia for a while. He has been sentenced to hard labor and has not been fed very well. He also has a shaved head.
These are easy assumptions, but not iron-clad. We may not be in Hawkins, Indiana, for sure, (or are we) but it may not be 1985. It could be in the future, or, even more interestingly, in the past. Perhaps the Upside Down also warps time as well as distance.
Further, this assumes that is actually Hopper, not a double, not a clone. Finally, it assumes that this is actual footage from the show. Perhaps Netflix has taken lessons from Marvel regarding faking out fans?
But that would run counter to what Netflix and the Duffer brothers have done so far. “Stranger Things” has a history of keeping the show dramatic by holding back information instead of peddling disinformation. So let’s take the appearance of this teaser trailer as good news: Hopper is indeed alive and will figure prominently in season 4. Once Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) figures out (using her powers) that he is alive, there is nothing that will stop her from rescuing him, no matter where he is, and no matter when this happens. We can’t wait.