Want to hear about Batman’s new Batcycle, Black Adam fighting a helicopter, Aquaman’s latest ally, and Shazam dating Wonder Woman? Of course you do. All that and more was in the footage Warner Bros. showed at CinemaCon this week from their next four live-action DC movies: Black Adam, Shazam: Fury of the Gods, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom and, finally, The Flash.
The studio kicked off the panel by announcing the news that Matt Reeves and Robert Pattinson were officially coming back for more Batman, but that’s years away. In the meantime, four films are deep into post production, with release dates that begin in October, so exhibitors (as well as press) got to see a few minutes from each, and here’s what we saw.
Of course, in situations like this it’s always important to note that these mini trailers/sizzle reels screen once and you can’t record them. So what follows are general impressions, and a few of the key moments images. It’s literally impossible to take note of everything, but we do our best.
Though it was the last film in the program, Black Adam is the first one in theaters, coming on October 21, and what was screened felt like a potential teaser trailer that may be released in the future. It begins with snow covered mountain and a high tech plane flying across them. A plane whose shape and movement which reminded us of the Wakandan air vehicles in Black Panther. The plane lands somewhere and a body in a see-through coffin is unloaded and filled with water, almost like a Bacta tank in The Empire Strikes Back. The voiceover explains this person was born a slave, killed, and then reborn a God. (There’s also footage of him having his throat slit and throw into a pit.) We see him in a cave with huge stones and then eventually, in a cloak with a bunch of men shooting machine guns at him. He slowly rises from the ground and the bullets all fly off.
Dr. Fate (Pierce Brosnan) explains to this man, who is obviously Dwayne Johnson’s Black Adam, that he has the power to be a hero but he’s choosing to be a destroyer. “I kneel before no one,” Adam says. There are a bunch of quick shots, of some of the Justice Society of America members, Black Adam walking in his cloak with his super suit on, him seeming to shoot lightning from his hands, and eventually flying in the air and taking down a helicopter. He lands on a road in a desert, and a car almost hits him. The two people in the car have no idea what they’re looking at and slowly start to get out of the car when someone fires a rocket, but Black Adam catches it. “Did he just catch that rocket?” the driver asks as it explodes, but they’re safe because Adam took most of the blow.
A few more shots of the Justice Society of America are followed by Adam standing toe to toe with Hawkman. “Heroes don’t kill people,” Hawkman says. To which Adam says, “Well I do.” The trailer then ends with a guy trying to hit Adam on the head with a metal bar, the bar bends on his head, and then Adam throws him.
On the one hand, just from a visual standpoint, the footage reminded us of Black Panther. The cinematography—a similar balance of warm colors mixed and shiny technology—as well as shot compositions, editing choices and ship designs, all feel like they were an influence from the Marvel hit. And yet, tonally, it’s hard to image what Black Adam is gonna be. Is Dwayne Johnson really going to become this character? Or will it just be Johnson in a superhero suit? We’ll find out soon.
A few weeks after Black Adam, the DC universe will continue with Shazam: Fury of the Gods on December 16. This footage began in Paris. At a restaurant overlooking the Eiffel Tower, Shazam is sitting at a restaurant and telling someone he doesn’t want to be in a relationship with them. He’s just not ready to commit. As the camera pulls back we see the unmistakable costume of Wonder Woman. She gets up and storms off, but he stops her. He explains that he wants to be with her but it’s a complex situation. He mentions that their relationship name could be She-Zam and finally caves and says he wants to be with her, which is when she turns around. And it’s Djimon Hounsou, almost superimposed over where we expect Gal Gadot’s head to be. He tells Billy to wake up!
Billy was dreaming, and now Hounsou’s character explains that a war of the worlds is about to begin. A barrier has broken down and now Gods are crossing over, so he and his family have to save the world. Over all this, there’s footage of Helen Mirren and Lucy Liu’s characters in God-like superhero suits as Hespera and Kalypso, respectively, just wreaking havoc.
Next, all the foster kids are hanging out at home, and start getting ready to go out. The parents ask where they’re going and Darla says “We’re going to fight crime.” The parents take it as a joke, but it’s not. This is soon followed by a scene of Shazam sitting with Hespera at what looks like the playground of a fast food restaurant. Shazam explains to her that he’s seen all the Fast and Furious movies and that the key to saving the world is, he pauses, “Family!” He looks around like something was supposed to happen. It doesn’t. “Family family family come on that was supposed to be the signal” he says and, eventually, the super hero version of his family does appear. There was lots of footage of Billy’s siblings in the suits too but, to be honest—I was just a little too excited by the wink to the fact Helen Mirren is in the Fast and Furious franchise.
March 2023's Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom probably showed the least amount of footage of the four, but it was accompanied by director James Wan. Wan made it clear that this film would explore new worlds, unveil new characters, and more. At the center of it all though, besides Aquaman of course, is Black Manta. In this film, Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) is a man on a mission. We saw him commanding some kind of advanced submarine (with Randall Park’s character now working for him). He’s in the full Manta suit and it looks like he’s been infected with something.
Wan explained that much of the film will be about Aquaman, a.k.a. Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa), asking his brother Orm (Patrick Wislon), whom was captured at the end of the first movie, to help him defeat Black Manta. That’s how powerful Manta has become: Arthur needs his evil brother to save the day. And so there are shots of the two of them at odds, walking through forests together, and more. We got a glimpse of some new ships, which sort of look like the Sentinels from The Matrix, and a piece of pre-viz with Orm standing and what looks like the big robot from The Incredibles rising up from behind him.
Again, there wasn’t a ton of footage from Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, but you just get the sense that the scope it going to dwarf all of these other films.
Finally, we saw a ton of new footage from The Flash, out June 23, 2023. Which, maybe predictably after the news of the past few weeks, focused less on Ezra Miller’s titular character and more on another hero fans are excited to see again: Batman. The footage began with Barry in some kind of office and he’s talking about how time has a pattern. Certain events and certain people are just always drawn to each other. He’s at first talking to a camera but we also see him outside his childhood home, in a new Flash outfit, looking sad.
Then, from behind, we see a man with long gray hair in his pajamas. He’s standing at a bookshelf when a laser reveals itself and does a retinal scan. The book shelves part and we see a room with at least five, maybe more, Batsuits in it. Tim Burton Batsuits. All new and different.
“How do you explain that except...fate?” Barry says, finishing his thought about time. That leads into a montage of action scenes. Lots of slow-motion as Barry does things super fast, a brief shot of Supergirl (Sasha Calle), a scene of Batman (though which one isn’t clear) on a Bat-Cycle that looks like the Bat-Pod from The Dark Knight. It’s not that bike though, this one only has two wheels in front, both of which are very thin and close to each other. There’s a broken Bat-cowl on the ground too, all of which leads to the shot we’ve already seen of the multiple Barry’s asking someone “Are you in?”
Cut to Michael Keaton, with great hair, in a new, but still recognizable Batsuit. “You wanna get nuts? Let’s get nuts,” he says, quoting himself from a great many years before.
The footage, while incredibly awesome, made it seem almost like Keaton’s Batman was the second lead in the film. Which maybe he is. Or, maybe, this footage was cut specifically so that exhibitors at CinemaCon thought more about a new Batman movie in their theaters, and not an Ezra Miller movie. Either way, it’s going to be an interesting 10 months before The Flash hits theaters.
Whew. That’s a lot of footage! Again, Black Adam will be in theaters October 21, Shazam 2 will be in theaters December 16, Aquaman 2 will be out March 17, 2023 and The Flash will be out June 23, 2023.
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