The DCEU Finds Redemption

There a story on Superherohype where Ben Affleck says that the portrayal of Batman in Warner Bros/DC Films upcoming Justice League would be a more ‘traditional’ portrayal of the character.

What!?

The fact that Affleck has to tell viewers this is indicative of perhaps the greatest problem the DCEU has (yet) to overcome: namely a loss of support from their core audience, which are the people who grew up reading the comics these characters first appeared in.

Which is such a weird place to be because it’s a problem of their own making in that all they needed to do was to make their superheroes more faithful (I understand that no character translates wholly intact from the printed page to the movie screen but it’s almost as if Warner Bros wasn’t even trying) to how the characters appeared in the comics, then literally sit back and rake in the cash.

But if Man of Steel, Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad have shown us anything, it’s seemingly not quite that easy.

Or does it?  Maybe the greatest problem with the three aforementioned movies has less to do with their their fidelity to the source material (though that’s certainly there) than an attempt to be visually and esthetically different from Marvel Studios.

And on some level that’s understandable.  What isn’t is creating such an esthetically and morally unappealing interpretation of Batman and Superman (though what’s worse is that there’s nothing wrong with such portrayals per se.  It’s more a question of starting with a more traditional interpretation then have events turn the character dystopic–which was said, but never shown in reference to Batman).

That’s an important journey viewers would have not enjoyed embarking on, and would have shown the seminal events that resulted in a murderous Batman (something the character studiously avoided during for the bulk of time he has existed).

Wonder Woman–for the DCEU–is literally a game changer in that it not appears more faithful to the comics than the aforementioned movies, yet managed to appeal to both critics and the bulk of the moviegoing audience.

It may not have quite restored faith in the fledgling cinematic universe that is the DCEU

Inhumans – Trailer 2

The more I see trailers for Marvel Television’s Inhumans, the better it’s starting to look.  The FX is fine (and while Lockjaw himself looks great; his transport effect?  Not so much) and while I’m hardly waiting with baited breath, I am interested enough to catch it in theaters (mainly because I am curious if it looks cinematic enough to warrant the involvement of IMAX.

The Defenders – Trailer 2

Marvel Television, as far as I can tell, is in a bind entirely of their own making.

While I enjoy the series that have done thus far–with a particular emphasis on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.–I do feel a certain reluctance on their parts to embrace the fantastic wholeheartedly (which is an interesting, though odd, problem to have).

This has a lot to do with why why the only costume we’ve seen of the four superheroes that make up The Defenders is Daredevil (which is less a costume than tactical combat armor in varying shades of red) and why the upcoming The Inhumans looks so grounded.

And so ordinary.

Comicbooks are a celebration of the fantastic, the weird, the uncanny and the strange;  a perspective that seemingly ill-fits with the Nolanesque esthetic that Marvel has created for television.

Which isn’t to say all characters should wear costumes.  I get why Jessica Jones and Luke Cage don’t–Jones tried the costumed superhero route; it didn’t take while Cage has always had less a costume than accoutrements (a tiara–there has to be another name for that–coupled wits a chain for a belt and a yellow shirt) that was more indicative of a 1970’s fashion esthetic–the character was created in 1972 by Archie Goodwin, John Romita, Sr. and George Tuska–than anything else

But Iron Fist?  He’s a character where a costume would actually make sense.  It would protect his identity–and by extension that of his family–as well as give him clothing in line with someone who engages in martial arts combat on a (more or less) regular basis.

And that’s not necessarily to say that they have to go with the spandex body suit, though something along those lines would really be appreciated.

Sony’s Bug Problem


And while spiders are arachnids, not bugs, bear with me and all come clear.

Spider-Man: Homecoming makes its North American debut today, and some pundits believe that it will ensnare an opening somewhere in the ballpark of $100 million.  If this bears out it would make the movie the fourth of 2017–joining Beauty and the Beast, Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 2 and Wonder Woman–to reach that milestone.

Though–at least at the moment–Sony only plans to work with Marvel Studios on Homecoming and its sequel, and that’s problematic not only for that reason, but because they’re also planning movies based on Venom, Silver Sable and the Black Cat, all outside the Marvel Cinematic Universe (known as the MCU).

This is a terrible idea because one of the reasons Spider-Man: Honecoming is projected to do as well as it is is because Spider-Man is returning to the MCU, which people are interested in seeing, while Sony’s upcoming movies will likely not have this version of Spider-Man, if any at all.

As I said, it’s a problem because you’re not only taking away the context that Venom currently exists in–which is the MCU–you’re potentially taking away the reason Venom himself exists (the symbiont originally chose to bond with Spider-Man.  Only when it was rejected by him did it turn its attentions to Eddie Brock).

So Venom (as well as Silver Sable, Black Cat and whichever other Spiderverse characters they intend to use) existing outside the MCU is problematic.

Though without Spider-Man?

That’s more than a problem; that’s a disaster for Sony.  For Marvel?

Not so much, especially when you take into account that while they never actually needed Spider-Man he’s back (albeit temporarily) and the MCU version has appeared in Captain America: Civil War and Spider-Man: Homecoming and with three movies on the way (Avengers: Infinity War, an untitled Avengers movie as well as a sequel to Homecoming).

If Sony were smart–or smarter, after all they did have the foresight to cut this deal with Marvel Studios–they would ensure that the Spiderverse remain in the MCU with a deal a similar to that that they reached with Spider-Man (which would probably have Marvel Studios getting a cut of the box office, perhaps in exchange for contributing to the costs of production).

It’s certainly worth a thought.

Marvel’s Inhumans – Official Trailer 1

I have to admit that I liked the first trailer for Marvel Television’s upcoming Inhumans a lot more than I thought I would.

That being said, that doesn’t mean that there weren’t a few problems. such as…

  1. Way too many guns.

Gun

The whole point of the Inhumans is that they have abilities that set them apart from regular humans (something another Marvel Television show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  understands quite well)

Here? Not so much.

      2. (Too) Obvious Fan Service

Screenshot 2017-06-29 10.44.35

The woman pictured is Crystal, and as you can see from the image below, she looks a lot like the version of her character from the comics.  The problem is that that hair is too faithful to the comics, and doesn’t translate to an actual person very well almost pulling me out of the drama, instead of immersing me (as it should).

Screenshot 2017-06-29 11.02.08.png

       3. Lockjaw is Glorious!

Though all is not lost because Lockjaw (which should have been the most difficult idea to get across) looks absolutely glorious!  Though admittedly he’s not seen for long (and the transporting effect isn’t that great) when he does turn up, so did my smile.

Screenshot 2017-06-29 10.49.26

New Inhumans Poster

On the left is the latest poster for Marvel Television/ABC’s upcoming series The Inhumans, and it’s…okay.

It does have a sense of drama (though Medusa’s hair continues to look terrible, mainly because if lacks the voluptuousness that it typically has in the comics, rendering it flat and lifeless).

That being said, I admit that the production has me–based on the admittedly limited information I possess–a bit concerned.

First off, Scott Buck (Dexter, Iron Fist) is the showrunner and while the latter series was much better than most critics have given it credit for, it also wasn’t as engaging as any of the other Marvel/Netflix series so far introduced (and felt to me like Buck knew little about the source material).

Another potential issue is one I’ve touched on before, which is how the characters (and in particular their costumes) look.

And trust me, I get why the producers likely chose to change how Black Bolt looked from the comics: while movies lately ar making these characters more comic-accurate I am not entirely sure that it would work as he’s traditionally pictured.

After all, he’s the king of his people, though nothing about his current costume says ‘royalty’ (though that’s perhaps not not quite fair, though it would need to be relayed to the audience somehow).

In fact, it just looks like–to someone who unfamiliar with him or doesn’t follow the comics–like any other superhero.

And that’s not a good thing when you have so much running on a series.

Valerian and the City of A Thousand Planets – ‘Space Is MAGIC’ – Trailer

Luc Besson is nothing if not ambitious and Valerian and the City of A Thousand Planets is his most ambitious feature yet, but I am concerned.

The movie, based on a French comic book written by Pierre Christin and illustrated by Jean-Claude Mézières, is likely unfamiliar to most Americans, which is likely why the director spends quite a bit of time in the trailer telling the viewer what it is they’re going to see, and what it’s  based on.

If I were promoting the movie in the United States I’d  bypass the origins of the characters–which domestic audiences are likely unaware –and instead concentrate on two things:

  • Spectacle

Valerian appears to be visually spectacular, as if Besson took the visual esthetic of The Fifth Element and combined it with Star Wars and Avatar.  Movies are all about diversion and this is an aspect that–in promotional materials–needs to be played up (it goes without saying that he movie itself will hopefully have a story that matches the visuals) even more than it is in this trailer.

Promise a visual experience like no other.  And sure, it’s likely not to be the case –I have seen few, if any, movies to actually live up to such hype–but it doesn’t stop movies from saying it, so Valerian might as well do the same.

  • Competition

Valerian cost somewhere between $170-200 million dollars to produce and while I expect it will perform strongest in Europe (where familiarity with the source material is likely greater) I wouldn’t discount it doing well in most international markets.

How well it does domestically depends upon when it is released, and perhaps more importantly, what it is released against.   It it performs (domestically) like Universal’s The Mummy, which had Wonder Woman to content with, then it had better do as well as that movie did internationally (despite not starring an actor with the international pull of a Tom Cruise) or there might be troubles for EuropaCorp (Besson’s production company, though the movie is released domestically via STX.).

Though if Valerian has a month or so alone (and there’s no Spider-Man: Homecoming waiting in ambush) competing with smaller releases it’s likely to do just fine.