This past week, the first official trailer for Justice League was dropped by DC.
As one YouTube commenter put it, “I used to think that people who fight over religions are dumb. Then I saw people fighting over marvel and dc [sic].” Whatever your stance on the issue, it is clear that DC continues to do superhero movie trailers right.
The trailer’s form is a classic three part structure, beginning with an air of mystery, then introducing drama and comedy, and finally focusing on action for a strong finish. As usual for the studio and the trailer houses who work on promoting its films, the use of music in this trailer is top-notch. However, not every news outlet might agree about the bombastic approach director Zack Snyder is clearly going for here.
The trailer opens on a mysterious blend of brass and strings, with the Warner Bros and DC title cards appearing fairly quickly, at 0:10. Shortly after, atop a a war drum-like rhythm, a voiceover says, “we have to be ready […] there’s an attack coming.” Wonder Woman subsequently replies, tipping the listener off that the original voice was that of Batman, saying “not coming, Bruce… it’s already here,” as the rhythm abruptly ends the first segment of the trailer at 0:30. In terms of sound design, some suspenseful synths take over, adding to the foreboding atmosphere between snippets of dialogue at around 0:35.
At 0:40 to about 1:00 – while characters are introduced – we hear the White Stripes’ early millennium track “The Hardest Button to Button,” obviously edited to loop the riff, only to somewhat jarringly switch to a hard rock cover of The Beatles’ “Come Together,” with all of the obvious significance that title has for a movie comprised of various super heroes, well, coming together to fight evil. The cover is by Justice League composer Junkie XL (aka Tom Holkenborg) and famed guitarist Gary Clark Jr.
An original coda for the “Come Together” riff brings us to a touch of comedic flair as Bruce, responding to Barry Allen (aka The Flash) asking what his super powers are, retorts “I’m rich” circa 1:30. Lyrics for the cover version of “Come Together” enter at 1:35, emphasizing the line “you’ve got to be free,” which likely alludes to the sense of freedom of vigilante heroism that Batman enjoys. The track is augmented by various supporting sound effects such as one at 1:48 as the cast of Justice League is quickly run through.
To ramp up cohesion of the music with the corresponding image, at 1:49 we see a prisoner and his visitor’s hands touching the glass to the beat of the music, and at 1:52 an array of triplets interrupt the groove in perfect sync with a tank’s gun fire. At 2:03 the Justice League title card arrives with one more repetition of the main riff, and a brief cinematic coda closes it out to a general release window of November.
One is reminded of the success that DC had by pairing Bohemian Rhapsody very tightly with the trailer campaign for Suicide Squad. While DC films are popularly and critically considered to be playing second fiddle to Marvel’s powerhouse roster of superhero films, DC continues to show great taste in leveraging choice musical cuts to fit the moods and themes of its cinematic offerings. Expect to hear a lot more of “Come Together” in the ensuing months leading up to Justice League’s release.
– Curtis Perry