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.

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Has DC Films Accepted That They Have Deep-Seated Problems, Or Are They Shifting Deck Chairs? Part II

I caught Star Wars: The Last Jedi last weekend and have no idea what all the hullabaloo is about (by which I mean I understand many of the complaints, though they’re not terribly persuasive when looked at in context).

It’s a decent movie though as far as I can tell all the rancor revolving around it is undeserved–though before the movie began there was a trailer for Avengers: Infinity War.

It’s a great trailer, though what interested me more (especially considering I have seen it alt least twenty times) is the response of someone in the theater.

She said, in reference to the trailer, “Those are the really good superheroes.” or something to that effect.

And that, for DC Films, is a problem because what they have lost is something that is extremely difficult to reclaim, and that’s mindshare (a topic I have mentioned before, but is worth revisiting).

At this point, when many moviegoers think of superheroes they think of Iron Man, Captain America or Thor, and to a lesser extent Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman.

That is a problem because–while it doesn’t mean that people won’t see movies with other characters–it does make it likely that they will occupy a lower tier in terms of their preferences.

So, unless Marvel Studios screws up in a big way there’s virtually no way DC Films is going to close the gap.

Which is why–as I have also said before–they should stop trying.

In other words, the only thing that can save DC Films is that they acknowledge that Marvel Studios has won because that will enable them to do what they should have done in the first place, which is to just produce engaging, fun superhero films without the onus of trying to outrun the fastest kid on the block.

Another reason I brought this up is because Warner Bros recently appointed Walter Hamada as head of DC Films.  Harada has been a producer behind franchises like The Conjuring and IT, though it remains to be seen if his success will transfer to the DCEU.

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

Zach Snyder and the Island of Ill-Concieved Ideas 

It seems that finally Zach Snyder has fallen out of favor at Warner Bros, though my question is why it took so long to happen.   Keep in mind while he’s overseen produced no flops while the creative force behind the DCEU (DC Extended Universe) though what he has done was produce three movies–Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad–that were extremely devisive as far as the perceptions of critics and movie goers.

You’ll notice that I didn’t include Wonder Woman, the best received DCEU movie (and on track to being the most profitable) yet?  That’s no accident.  Snyder’s star has been in it’s descendecy for quite awhile, and Wonder Woman was the first movie produced with a new management team in place.

And the worse thing is that I don’t necessarily blame Snyder.  Warner Bros management (at the time) should have taken his ideas for a murderous Batman and an apathetic Superman and thrown them onto the Island of Really Ill-Conceived Ideas where they belonged, as opposed to entertaining them as as they did.

Jaden Smith’s Batman

When future historians are studying what led to whatever atrocity Jaden Smith will likely commit in the future–I envision a Terminator/SkyNet-type scenario myself–this video will like rank high among the evidence of when Smith lost his mind.

Typically, when someone makes a video tribute/parody to Batman they make an effort to at least use costumes and things that attempt the mimic the feel, style and atmosphere that the character is best known for.

Not Smith though, who clearly marches to the beat of a different drummer.  The video isn’t by any means offensive, though his curiously rhythmless moves and stark white Batman-like costume–which must work on the idea of mesmerizing his opponents because stealth’s clearly off the table–is at least interesting.

Though what I wonder most about is who directed the video because there’s an odd, meandering, almost Parisian quality about it where things are emphasized, like a glass of water and a window Smith uses as a blackboard that appear to serve no purpose to the narrative other than to be weird.

The Man Who Murdered Time – Pt. 1

The Shadow was created by Walter B. Gibson, and long before he appeared in movies and television, he was a staple of radio.  HIs first appearance was in the 1930’s, and he’s had a huge influence on heroes (and villains) to follow.

For instance, the origin of Marvel Comics’ Iron Fist and Doctor Strange are remarkably similar to the Shadow’s, as is the that of Batman (from the Christopher Nolan movies) though the way he’s often depicted in the comics is very much in line with the Shadow as well.

The Shadow was Lamont Cranston (and Ken Allard, depending upon whether we’re talking about radio, television or novels.  This idea of identities within identities  is very similar to how Marvel’s Moon Knight has been portrayed), young wealthy man about town though having spend time in mysterious Asia gained the ability to cloud men’s minds.

Yet, can even the Shadow and all his mysterious powers stop a man with the ability to control Time?

The Straw That Broke The Batman’s Back

What?   You thought Bane deserved all the credit?

In the past few months Warner Bros has been on a charm offensive, as far as the movies of their DC Extended Universe go, but I’m not buying it. 

Another thing I’m not buying are those people who claim that what is preported to be a lighter tone for the upcoming Justice League movie was in the cards all along.  

Reason being, Man Of Steel took itself way too seriously.  Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice upped the ante on dourness, if that were even possible–while working with a story so nonsensical that a bit of levity would have made the whole thing that much more palatable–and now I am supposed to believe that all of a sudden Zach Snyder realized that Superman is based on comic books (that were originally meant for children), and not an object of Ayn Rand’s Objectivism?

The more likelier explanation is that Warner Bros executives saw that the DCEU movies with Zach Synder as architect–while not box office failures–were severely underperforming (that you could put three of the most iconic superheroes in the same movie and can’t reach $900 million at the box office, never mind a billion, is the proverbial canary in the coal mine) so something had to be done. 

And what that seems to be is an demotion of sorts for Snyder, in two ways.  The first is that Ben Affleck was appointed as executive producer on the upcoming Justice League, and apparently is very influential over what happens on screen.  And perhaps more importantly, Geoff Johns and Jon Berg were made co-presidents of DC Films, seemingly with a mandate to resort a sense of hope and optimism to movies sorely lacking such virtues.  

My problem is that I am reaching Transformers levels of frustration with the movies of the DCEU (something Suicide Squad by no means changed) so for me it might be a little too late.

And it’s worth mentioning that I have given up on the Transformers, and refuse to see them in theaters.