Breaking down the 'Justice League' trailer

Oh, to be a drone on the wall at Comic Con. Once again, Warner Brothers has chosen the annual San Diego geek summit to show off some new and enticing footage of a future blockbuster, this one being the long-awaited Justice League. The teaser assembly shown to the live audience was less a trailer in the traditional sense, and more a lively collection of finished scenes from the movie, stitched together into one delightful showcase. Allowing the clips some space to breathe appears to be to the movie's benefit—to be blunt, this is the best that Justice League has looked to a lot of fans for a while.

What has us most excited? To sum it up: a lot. From new characters making big entrances, to a few awesome displays of power, there's more to look forward to in these few minutes than in the entirety of Batman v Superman. Let's break it down.

Our first good look at Cyborg

We already know a fair bit about Batman's new partners. Most of them, anyway. It feels like DC has been teasing us with Aquaman forever, for one. Played by surly hunk Jason Momoa, Aquaman will have been appearing in promotional images and teasers for over two years by the time the film actually comes out. Meanwhile, we've known about Wonder Woman for decades, and you can watch a stellar version of Flash on the CW right now.

But what of Cyborg? Now there's a mystery. A total non-entity to many non-comics fans, Cyborg—also known as Victor Stone—is the child of two somewhat unethical scientists, who had a habit of using young Victor as a test subject in their experiments to increase the intelligence of a human brain. So for some time, Victor's only superpower was a genius IQ, at least until one particular lab accident resulted in much of his skin needing to be replaced with the experimental metal prosthetics you see above. Aside from his brief cameo in Batman v Superman, filmed during what appears to be one of his parents' experiments going terribly wrong, we haven't seen much of what Cyborg will actually look like in Justice League—until now. In the comics, he's known to be angsty about his mangled appearance, but from where we're sitting, we're not really sure what he's complaining about. This actually looks pretty cool.

A closer look at Aquaman

We all have some idea of what Aquaman does. He chills in the water, man. He communes with the fishes. Most of all, if you ask many people, he just plain sucks. This is why it's so interesting to finally see what sort of personality Jason Momoa is imposing on the blank-slate king of Atlantis. The answer? Big, brash, and bold, evidenced no better than by the shot of Aquaman strolling down a short pier, beer in hand, right into vast jets of water from an angry sea, seemingly controlled by his sheer will. It's out of context, and we guess as far as a superpower goes, he's still just splashing—but it's a big splash. Who would've thought that Aquaman, of all people, would leave San Diego Comic Con looking like the coolest dude in the League?

There is charm, and you will smile

The best part of any movie is the sequence where our heroes go and get the group/band together. What makes this trailer extra-exciting is the unique sense that this group is one hell of a band. And it looks good! It's charming. Self-proclaimed hater Devin Faraci took a recent visit to the Justice League set, where he got to see a large portion of the "Bruce Wayne meets the Flash " scene we saw in the new trailer. And his response, as a critic, was, "It was funny, and Affleck and Miller had good chemistry. But more than that. it was written from a place where these characters were being treated affectionately [...] It was full of love, and it was full of humanity." And he's right! You smile as you watch the chemistry forming, which is another reason why letting these teaser clips breathe was such a good idea. Let's hope the good mood and charm extends throughout the entire movie.

Batman as a leader

In all the Batman movies and TV shows up until now (the live-action ones, at least), we've seen him form teams up to a trio, but no more. Oftentimes, he's just plain on his own. So watching scenes of Batman standing among strangers, fledgling friends, and true equals is bracing in an unexpected way, and Ben Affleck conveys Bruce Wayne's shared drives of purpose and belonging with excellent subtlety. Here is a Batman who's trying to put a team together, learn to play well with others, and redeem himself for past wrongs, all at the same time. He's tired. Even though we've only seen him in one movie, Ben Affleck's Batman is a wounded, haunted man, who's spent years of his life aging in the darkness.

Spoiler alert: one movie ago, he tried to kill Superman. Now that he has the Justice League to tend to, he finally might be seeing a little bit of light.

Where is Superman?

For reasons we won't get into, it perhaps comes as no surprise that virtually all Justice League footage features a distinct lack of one Clark Kent, AKA Superman. He certainly isn't in the trailer, and not even mentioned. Isn't this sort of a good thing for the movie, though? Because it feels remarkably refreshing. Superman's absence allows space for the other characters to grow together, get to know each other, and most importantly, come to trust each other. After all, the most powerful member of their team isn't there to save them should things ever go awry.

Considering how Supes' absence—and possible return—is all but guaranteed to be a big part of the full Justice League story, not seeing him around when threats are on the way adds real tension to these efforts to build the League before it's too late. It takes you back to the (confusing then, confusing now) space/time dream sequence in Batman v Superman, where a desperate Flash shouted across time for Bruce's help, insisting (from the future) that "Lois Lane is the key." The key to what? Could she be the key to the resurrection of Superman? Who knows? There are plenty more mysteries to mull over about Justice League in the months to come. The biggest difference, going forward, is that we've finally got a reason to be excited about it at all.