LAS VEGAS – It’s been a long time since Marvel Studios and Disney got theater owners excited with a glimpse of new footage from their films let alone trekked some of their big stars to Sin City to walk the CinemaCon stage. Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment are happily not following that model. During Warner Bros.’ almost two hour presentation the studio dedicated the final act to its fledgling superhero universe, unveiling complete scenes from this summer’s “Wonder Woman,” a concept art trailer for 2018’s “Aquaman” and some new shots thrown into an extended trailer for “Justice League,” arriving at a cineplex near you this Thanksgiving.
Obviously, and it goes without saying, *spoilers ahead*.
The first “Wonder Woman” scene finds Diana (Gal Gadot) and Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) on a boat making their way from Paradise Island to London, England. The point of showing this portion of the film was to inform us just how naïve Diana is about civilization outside of her own Amazon bubble. She assumes that once she finds Ares, the God of War, it will be easy to free the Germans from his “influence” and “the war will end.” Trevor, who we learn is actually a spy first, pilot second, tries to explain to her that this war (World War I for those uninformed) is messy and it won’t be that easy. This is an interesting thematic thread because it lets us know Diana’s arc and adjustment to “Man’s World” may be more disheartening than she could ever realize. It also teases that Ares could be a secret villain in the movie.
The rest of their conversation on the boat is a delicate comedic dance of Trevor offering her a place of sleep and Diana unable to comprehend why he wouldn’t sleep near her. When he tries to explain marriage and etiquette he realizes it’s a much larger conversation and finally just agrees to lay next to her. It’s smart dialogue in some respects for this film, but Trevor reacts to this like a man would over the past 30 years or so. It’s hard to believe even the most noble of men would speak in such a liberated and self-aware manner during the 1910s. In fact, if you pay attention the 21st Century perspective skews much of “Wonder Woman’s” reality in the trailers and clips we’ve seen so far.
When Diana wakes up she finds their boat on the Thames River approaching London Bridge and she immediately notes, “It looks hideous.” Of course, this depiction of London at this time is way too dirty in my opinion, but, hey, it’s a choice.
The second scene begins with Diana and Steve walking through the streets of London in some fantastic era-appropriate attire designed by Lindy Hemming. Steve immediately begins to recognize they are being followed and grabs Diana into an alley trying to lead their pursuers off their trail. It backfires and they are quickly corned by some German undercover agents who demand a book from “Doctor Marlowe.” One of the agents opens fire and Diana uses her bracelets to block the bullet from striking Steve. He immediately realizes he might not need to protect her and she ends up taking out the four or five agents all by herself. She ends the fight by whipping out her magic lasso to ensnare a fleeing agent.
The final sequence is an action set piece that has already been show in the trailer and, if memory serves, was teased at CinemaCon last year (although without color treatment and effects). Diana, in Wonder Woman armor, is with Steve and allied soldiers in what we have to assume is Europe. She leaps (literally) ahead of them and crashes through a second window of some warehouse like structure. A squad of German soldiers are waiting. She takes them out easily using her shield, some undercutting kicks and her superhuman strength. It clearly demonstrates she’s not to be trifled with.
Before the footage screened Pine and Patty Jenkins spoke to the audience (Gadot sent a video message as she was unable to make it). The “Star Trek” star said he’d seen the final film and that it was “visually stunning” and that the romance between Trevor and Diana had a “Casablanca” feel. The latter didn’t necessarily come across in what those on hand saw, but it wasn’t necessarily a reach either. The concern is that even after these complete scenes it still doesn’t feel like a Patty Jenkins “film.” Yes, you can argue, “What is a Patty Jenkins film exactly?” but “Wonder Woman” still looks a bit too “on brand.” Outside of its time period it doesn’t really seems as unique in style or tone as one might have hoped. Perhaps the context of the finished movie will change that point of view.
As you read this, Jason Momoa is either on his way to the airport or en route to Australia to begin filming “Aquaman.” Director James Wan count not attend and not a frame has been shot as of yet, but Momoa made a side trip to Vegas to introduce what felt like a souped-up pitch real with concept art. Wan narrated the entire piece and he had some really interesting things to say.
Wan noted that he wanted the film to begin or to have a scene where you think you’re watching a battle of ships in space, but as you get closer your realize this monstrous vessels are not in space and are actually underwater. He added that Atlanteans basically move around like Superman, and are always floating and “appear” to be flying when it’s actually swimming. There were images of Momoa as Aquaman fighting Black Manta, gorgeous designs for a massive Atlantis (very much a “Game of Thrones,” “Lord of the Rings” vibe) and gigantic, never-before seen sea creatures (or would that be monsters?). He also clarified that this is very much an origin story so if you want to assume it takes place before the events in “Justice League” or “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” feel free. Speaking of Zach Snyder’s super team film…
Before Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck, Ray Fisher, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa and Snyder appeared on stage together to represent the “Justice League” contingent a longer version of the previously released trailer was shown. There were three specific additions.
In the current publicly released trailer, there is a moment where Diana says, “It’s already here. The others.” That is the end of a scene where Diana has broken into what we assume is Wayne Manor (or a Wayne facility) and finds Bruce working on building a large aircraft of some kind. Bruce (Affleck) says he thought he had installed the security and Diana informs him it didn’t take her very long to bypass it. She asks what he’s building and he tells her it’s for a “prototype troop” transport (geez, who could that be for I wonder?).
In a fight scene not shown in the trailer, Diana – in Wonder Woman garb – is diving through the air in a large airshaft trying to grab her sword. The Flash (Miller) races ahead of her, sticks out his pinky and pushes it up to her so she can grab it. It was a bit of a nod to the “X-Men” movie franchise’s Quicksilver, but it was still cool enough to make you smile.
Lastly, there is a moment where Barry (Miller) is on a rooftop with Diana and Bruce. He sees the Batsignal in the sky and says something to the affect, “Hey, that’s your signal!” And then covers his mouth and goes “Ooops, I probably shouldn’t say that in public” (paraphrasing). Affleck gives him a look with his eyes that immediately communicates, “No, no you shouldn’t.”
While Cavill was on stage its important to note Superman was never mentioned in the footage or that he’d return in the movie. Even though it’s pretty obvious he will. Maybe.
Is that enough to whet your appetite?