Does DC Stand For ‘Damn Clueless!?’

Actually that’s ‘Detective Comics’ but based on some of their current decisions you’d be perfectly justified if you were slightly confused.

For instance, DC Films is reportedly developing two movies based on the Joker. One’s based on Jared Leto’s interpretation of the iconic Batman villain from Suicide Squad and the other…not so much (though reportedly some sort of alternate universe take on the character).

So, let’s see if I understand…one movie’s based on a not particularly well-received version of the Joker and if that weren’t bad enough, the second movie will be ‘Joker’ in name only, and exist outside of DC Comics continuity (and rumored to be played by Joaquin Phoenix).

What’s wrong with such an approach should be fairly obvious, though let’s start with the creation of an alternative to a character that’s been already introduced to audiences.

And speaking of which, suppose audiences are more into Phoenix’s movie than Leto’s?

What happens then? I have no idea but I’d bet money they’ll be retconning Leto’s version.

Think I’m wrong? Maybe, but what about the DCEU (or whatever they end up calling it) makes you think they’d be loyal to an actor when they apparently don’t hold their directors in too high an esteem (as much as I can’t stand what Zach Snyder did to the DC Extended Universe he should have been ‘fired’ long before Justice League. Heck, he should have been fired after Batman V Superman as opposed to the trifling way he was actually treated)?

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Black Manta or Black Man-Duh

I understand the moviemakers sometimes have to sacrifice accuracy for realism when producing something based on a comic book because what looks good in a drawing doesn’t always translate well to real life (which is why we’re likely to NEVER see a comic-accurate Scarlet Witch in the Avengers movies).

That being said, the goal should be as close to comic book accurate as reality will allow.

And the recently released photos of Black Manta from James Wan’s upcoming Aquaman movie? It misses the mark by quite a bit.

Manta’s helmet from the comics is particularly odd in that in the ways it’s typically depicted it’s too ovoid and flat to hold a human head.

The likelihood that this was made possible by the lower half of his face extending into the neck of the suit, while the ‘saucer section’ only contained the upper part of his face.

Black Manta’s helmet as (seemingly–after all, this could just be a prototype) depicted in the Aquaman movie? It’s a full helmet, which means the weird dimensions that made is so iconic aren’t (unless it were comically–pardon the pun–massive) possible.

And that’s a shame because the DCEU needs to keep it 100 because people are losing faith and one way to begin to get it back is depicting these characters as accurately and faithfully as possible.

You Can’t Be Missed If You Won’t Go Away

I just read an article about how Zach Snyder’s plans for the DCEU were supposedly so “epic, grand, emotional, joyful and unforgettable” which bothers me more than a little bit because we’re hearing more about Snyder’s plans for this and intentions for that now than when Justice League was actually in theaters.

As I have said before, Zach Snyder is a talented director, but his vision left A LOT to be desired and was by no means fitting for the characters he was developing.

And his greatest problem was an attempt to apply a ‘one size fits all’ esthetic to DC characters (inspired by Christopher Nolan’s work on the Dark Knight trilogy).

A dark, gloomy feel works fine for Batman–though the constant murdering? Not so much–but the problems start when you try to apply the same esthetic to apparently EVERY character in the DCEU.

Superman is–virtually by design–the polar opposite of Batman. He exudes optimism and hope, and while Batman–who isn’t necessarily nihilistic or pessimistic–does embody a world weariness of sorts, a feeling that the individual is constantly fighting against the tide.

So Zach Snyder–either by design or accident–misread the essential nature of the characters he was working with, and made them look like those most of us have been familiar with and instead twisted them into weird, strange versions of themselves.

And the worse thing is, all Snyder and the executives at DC Films had to do is follow the example of what Marvel Studios did with Captain America, namely double-down on those traits (his honesty, forthrightness and a relatively ‘simple,’ black and white worldview) that were defining traits for the character for most of their existence.

in other words, Superman changed to fit the world we live in today, while Captain America stayed pretty much as he was in 1941, in all his squarish glory and was witness to the world changing around him to a time when his values and (relative) moral simplicity once again came back into vogue.

So Zach Snyder essentially ruined Batman and Superman as millions of people knew them so we need time to forget his funhouse mirror interpretations of our much loved superheroes, which won’t stand a chance of happening if he (or those in his orbit) keep implying that the only that was wrong with movies like Man of Steel, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad was that we just weren’t clever enough to get it or maybe if we were just a bit more patient the wonderfulness infrequently seen would somehow make an overdue appearance.

Never Attack Movie Fans!

Screenshot 2018-04-03 08.50.33Or if you feel the need to do so, don’t to be quite so patronizing about it.

Movie fans can be a very vocal bunch.  Sometimes, their complaints are valid, sometimes they’re not though you rarely benefit from opening attacking them.

Ryan Johnson, director of The Last jedi, endured more than his share of scorn for some of the controversial decisions made in that movie, yet as far as I am aware he handled it with aplomb.

Zachary Levi, playing the title character in New Line/DC Films upcoming Shazam! apparently didn’t get that notice and went on a rant directed at fans who attacked his costume.

And while Levi may not think that that’s fair, that’s also the way the game is played.

What Levi should have done is to give those ‘haters’ the right to their opinion–the costume, with it’s blatant muscle padding, doesn’t look that good, truth be told–and instead let the costume speak for itself.

The same fans he’s attacked could potentially be the most vocal advocates for the movie , especially if the costume works.  The problem is, if it doesn’t, you have an ‘enemy’ that will spread some seriously toxic word of mouth.

Hard-core fans can’t necessarily make or break a movie but they can do a lot to undermine a movie’s success.

And that’s something you don’t take chances with.

 

 

A Perfect Vehicle for Michael Bay

Screenshot 2018-02-11 19.53.04And that’s not a sentiment I come by all too often because Bay’s movies are all about what’s on the surface, and typically lack anything approaching nuance (though to be fair he definitely knows his audience.)

Though that audience is generally not terribly discriminating, which is why it’s so maddening when the Transformers movies do so well (except for the last one), while Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim performed particularly weak domestically and would not have warranted a sequel if it hadn’t done so well in China.

As you can probably tell, I’m by no means a fan of Michael Bay as a director though if you’re looking for someone to handle big, brash spectacle, they’re few directors that can wrangle chaos as beautifully.

When he plays to his strengths–Transformers, Bad Boys, The Rock–he can be pretty amazing. though when he doesn’t (pretty much every other Transformers movie, Pain and Gain) it’s typically not too good because Bay typically has a tin ear as far as dialogue and the way humans actually interact with each other.

So when I heard that he’s considering directing a movie based on DC’s Lobo, I was okay with it because Bay is like the Main Man himself: shallow, all about bombast and climax not so much about anything approaching nuance and character development.

Is Valiant Still Aligned with Sony?

Valiant LogoWith the preeminence of Marvel Studios and to a lesser extent, DC Films, people can perhaps be forgiven for forgetting that Marvel and DC aren’t the only players in town.

There’s Dark Horse (Time Cop) who’s rebooting Hellboy but there’s also Valiant Comics, which have been seemingly preparing to make a movie to feature films for awhile.

Valiant were aligned with Sony, though that was under prior management; now they’re under control of DMG Entertainment and it’s CEO, Dan Mintz.

This is a particularly relevant question, especially considering that Sony seems to be emphasizing Spider-Man (and other Spiderverse characters like Venom, Black Cat and Silver Sable) while they could perhaps be building a cinematic universe of their own, independent of Marvel Studios.

 

Black Widow vs the Double Standard of Women-Led Superhero Movies

Screenshot 2018-01-15 00.47.58It’s interesting that now Marvel Studios seems to be actively considering a movie based on Scarlett Johannson’s Black Widow (Iron Man 2, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Civil War, Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron) especially when you consider that the character should have had one long before Wonder Woman did.

That being said, there’s a bright side to Marvel Studios’ seeming hesitancy.

Namely movies with women as main characters are judged by a different standard than those featuring men (and that’s not even getting into differences in color, never mind sex) in that if a movie staring a man fails, all that means is that some other man, in some other movie, will pop up next.

While, if a female-led movie craps out, then there’s a very real possibility that Hollywood might not make any more movies featuring women as leads (in that particular genre) for a very long time.

For instance, if I recall the last superhero film featuring a woman prior to 2017’s Wonder Woman was Elektra twelve years ago.

So as much as some of us don’t want to admit it, there’s definitely a double standard, and movies featuring women don’t have the luxury of being half-baked, which is why they shouldn’t be rushed into production.