Trailer Wars: “Justice League” vs “Thor: Ragnarok”

The mess of a third trailer for Justice League could learn a thing or twenty from Thor: Ragnarok

So far, what’s been released in the leadup to the Justice League movie looks en par with Zack Snyder‘s films in this universe so far: a confusing, confused-looking mess that requires the viewer to already know the characters and get all the references, so that they can be completely side-stepped or flipped, simply for the sake of flipping them (or because they lack “credibility” in their established comic book form). Snyder seems embarrassed by his source material, but unable to construct a cohesive, compelling or worthwhile alternative.

Let’s check out both trailers, then keep the nit-picking to just three talking points:

Spectacle vs Story

Original Recipe Aquaman vs Zack Snyder’s Aquaman:

While tatted-up bro is not an inherently bad update (and as far as badassing-up Aquaman goes, Jason Mamoa is a bufftastic choice), the question is: why is Aquaman a tatted-up bro? What does this update tell us about the character? And how does this introduce Auqaman to audiences coming to this for the first time, who may not already know who this character is? Like Man of Steel and Batman v Superman before it, this is an Elseworlds universe without the established canon to deviate from.

By contrast, the third trailer for Thor: Ragnarok leads with character, leans on charm and, regardless of whether or not you find its tone amusing, above all looks colourful and fun. But more importantly, beyond personal taste: there’s far less pre-requisite knowledge required to even follow what’s happening. Even for the uninitiated, the trailer immediately gives a sense of who characters might be, what might be happening, and where things may go from there. And here, this version of Thor has been updated – after several films in this universe have established his more comic-accurate look, so returning viewers know what this is a deviation from. But the biggest takeaway from this: unlike Justice League, Thor: Ragnarok doesn’t put all its eggs in the dazzling-the-viewer-with-visuals basket.

Stakes

One benchmark for comparison: which trailer gives us a sense of who the threat is, or the nature of the threat they pose?

Soundtrack

Both trailers feature obvious, overused, mainstream rock classics, but utilise them in tellingly different ways. Justice League‘s soundtrack choices are more telling of the deeper flaws in the superficial, and ultimately short-sighted, aesthetic choices of Mr Snyder. Firstly: they’re obliviously on-the-nose – both ‘Seven Nation Army’ and ‘Come Together’ harken back to an early Batman v Superman teaser poster which featured Broquaman and the tagline ‘Unite the Seven’ (whose connection to the final film was neither borne out or even made clear). Secondly: the ‘Come Together’ here is a generic, modern cover version. Is it a case of not being able to secure the rights to the Beatles original, or a conscious aesthetic choice? Given the gaudy visuals (and, going back a little further, the embarrassing soundtrack choices in his pre-DCAU DC film, Watchmen), would anyone really be surprised if it were the latter?