Welcome to the Dark DC Cinematic Universe

We have one movie, with destruction and mistrust. We have two trailers with…well, more of the same. This, for now, is the new DC Cinematic Universe.

With the release of Suicide Squad and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice's trailers at Comic-Con International: San Diego 2015, the DC Cinematic Universe finally extended beyond one movie or one franchise. In the past, the Superman franchise expanded beyond just believing a man can fly, and Batman has had multiple series of films. But this is the first time a set of feature films will bring those two, and more, together.

So what will this DC Cinematic Universe look like? So far, it's pretty dismal and angry. There are furrowed brows and frowns, and smiles are as rare as Kryptonite. Looking at the BvS trailer, you will find eighteen separate shots of people looking pissed off and two of someone smiling – both of which are Lex Luthor, the "villain" of the piece. In this world, Superman, who claims his symbol means hope, instead seems to loom over humans as a not-so-benevolent god. In the movie's first trailer, Superman floats high above Batman, looking down upon him before their battle. In the second trailer, he does the same above a family on the roof of a flooded town, who reach up to him. This Superman is viewed by much of the public as a reckless alien, the way Lex Luthor often views him in the comics.

Batman we know much less about, since we don't have a full movie to draw from. But we learn in the trailer is that, yes, he's angry. He has lost at least one comrade-at-arms, a Robin in particular, and he was in Metropolis during the fight between Superman and Zod that killed thousands, including those in the destroyed Wayne Financial Tower. He clearly thinks Superman is responsible. At one point in his past, he appears to have taken down The Joker and his own sidekick, Harley Quinn.

That's what we learn from the Suicide Squad trailer. Thanks to a Superman reference and a quick look (probably in a flashback) at Batman, we know Squad resides in the same world right off the … ahem … bat. The tone of Suicide Squad, as the name might imply, isn't one of sunshine and rainbows, though there are more smiles in this trailer – two characters turn their lips up-but both are done in a less-than-wholesome fashion. As you might guess, they come from Harley Quinn and the Joker. There's torture, gunplay, fire, and, like Batman v Superman, a reference to Hell or the Devil. "Justice has a bad side," the trailer declares; apparently they didn't realize that Batman and Superman were already covering that point.

Both trailers are shot almost entirely in the dark of night. BvS has indecipherable lyrics sung by a choir in minor chords, while Suicide plays a lone voice singing "the joke was on me…"

So, where's the hope in the DCCU? Most likely, it's just around the corner, waiting. While the two biggest characters from the DC Comics pages slug it out, Wonder Woman's appearances do at least suggest that someone in this universe has more to do than just punch an kick their contemporaries. Her brief shots in the trailer show more conviction than every shot of Batman and Superman together. The Justice League films will hopefully be able to build off that and bring these characters – and the universe around them – into a brighter light.

Until then, this is the DCCU: dark, violent, and angry. WB executives say this is because their movies are "steeped in realism" (CEO Kevin Tusjihara), or that it reflects the "intensity and seriousness of purpose" to the characters (WB President Greg Silverman). Ben Affleck, meanwhile said it's simultaneously "more mythic" and contradictorily, "a little more realistic." The world is dark, violent, and angry, and WB thinks their films should reflect that. And so, at least in 2016, based on these two trailers, the DCCU will remain this way.

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