Black Widow Will Be A Huge Hit (If A Few Things Are Taken Into Account)

imageThe upcoming Black Widow movie has a lot going for it–2017’s Wonder Woman has proven that a female-led superhero movie can not only be profitable, but revered bay both critics and moviegoers alike–but that doesn’t mean that it should take some very significant advantages for granted.

First there’s Scarlett Johannson, who’s shown with 2014’s Lucy that a movie can be built around her successfully (it was essentially a ‘secret’ superhero movie in the same way Unbreakable and even 1980’s Altered States were, if you think about it).

Then there’s the fact that it’s coming from Marvel Studios, who seemingly don’t know how to make a bad movie

But pride comes before a fall, so to ensure that that doesn’t happen, here’s what the producers could do to minimize the odds.

  • Consider a Guest Appearance 

Johannson’s Black Widow is a great character, but imagine how jazzed fans would be to know Captain America or Hawkeye were going to show up (and I know, some contracts are expiring, but if Evans’ enthusiasm for the characer is any indicator he’d likely turn up in a heartbeat).

And speaking of costs, if you recall Avengers: Age of Ultron, there was a scene Black Widow and Hawkeye were talking about ‘Budapest’ and what happened there.  Now imagine a adventure featuring them both, taking place in the past and perhaps revolving around the organization known as A.I.M (Advanced Idea Mechanics, who were sort of teased in Iron Man 3).

It would be in the Winter Soldier vein, and could be very awesome and gritty. 

  • Control Costs

Part of the problem with DC Films–and Zach Snyder in particular–is that their movies are relatively expensive, compared to Marvel Studios, which is why they tend to make middling profits (by way of illustration, Justice League cost somewhere in the ballpark of $250 million before the Joss Whedon-helmed reshoots.  Having seen it I’m not entirely sure where that money went, but it wasn’t on screen).

And speaking of costs, during Avengers: Age of Ultron Black Widow and Hawkeye were reminiscing about ‘Budapest.’

Suppose Black Widow was the movie about that particular incident?  I have no idea what the actual movie will be about, but it would be pretty cool to see a Jason Bourne-type adventure featuring Black Widow and Hawkeye for no more than 80-$100 million?

Such a, relatively speaking, low-cost action movie would likely turn a profit in a week, if not days. 

  • Not to Belabor the Obvious, But Make an Entertaining Movie First

Black Widow’s movie needs to be entertaining in and of itself, instead of having a female lead be it’s primary draw.  If it becomes the latest feminist cause cèlébre it runs the risk of alienating a huge swath of their potential audience.

Now, the producers of the movie can embrace every one of the above steps and the movie still under performs, though I think that’s highly unlikely.

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Wrong Lessons Learned from the Justice League Brouhaha

 

And while ‘brouhaha’ may be a little melodramatic for a film that’s earned over $570 million at the worldwide box office the story surrounding the development of the movie is far more interesting than the movie itself.

You may have heard about a petition to release a Zach Snyder-cut of Justice League (despite there being no evidence there’s enough footage to make a complete movie) and a counter petition to release a Joss Whedon-cut of the same movie (who filmed significantly less than Snyder, making the idea even sillier) and quickly realized that they are way too many people not quite understanding the nature of the problem.

And that problem is that the DCEU, as it currently exists, is based on a very shaky foundation, one of Zach Snyder’s making (and that’s not to solely put all the blame on his shoulders, especially considering there’s more than enough to go around.  That being said, if the movie were a critical and financial success Snyder would likely have no problem accepting the kudos.  Conversely, when a movie doesn’t do well the director gets the blame).

And while his approach has its fans, what it doesn’t have is enough to make it viable (or Warner Bros would have likely not have had Whedon reshoot a portion of the entire movie.  And as terrible as the death of a child is, I don’t buy that he stepped down for that reason exclusively, especially when the movie was almost finished).

If that weren’t enough of a reason, this whole petition nonsense triples down on an approach proven NOT TO WORK!  Man of Steel underperformed.  Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice did as well.  Suicide Squad, despite being the worse of the three–and interestingly not directed by Snyder, despite his visual dynamic in full-effect, didn’t.

The same applies to Wonder Woman.

As I alluded to earlier, it’s not that Justice League isn’t profitable, it’s that it production budget is so high–before reshoots it was somewhere in the ballpark of $250 million there’s little likelihood Warners would throw good money after bad.

 

Why Is Anyone Shocked Justice League Underperformed?

I was watching a lot of YouTube this weekend, deliberately looking for videos about the shocking–for some–weekend box office returns for Warner Bros/DC Entertainment’s Justice League.

Though what I find most shocking is their their shock because the writing has been on the wall for literally years.

While none of the movies that make up the DCEU (DC Extended Universe) have yet to fail financially, they’ve certainly done so critically (with the exception of Wonder Woman, the first DCEU movie under the supervision of Geoff Johns and Diane Lane, co-heads of DC Entertainment, that was both financially and critically successful), which is an indicator that critics were not too crazy about how DC was interpreting its own characters.

The declining box office was a sign moviegoers felt similarly, a change in sentiment was seemingly slow to respond to.

Snyder’s first movie under the DCEU banner was 2013’s Man of Steel, a nihilistic– some could say cynical–take on Superman which it could be argued underperformed (for a movie featuring literally one of the most iconic characters in comic history).

Suicide Squad (despite being written and directed by David Ayer, stuck faithfully to Snyder’s template of visual ugliness and moral murkiness; which perhaps ironically better fit the property, since we’re talking about a team composed of villains) actually over performed at the box office, despite being savaged by critics.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was literally the nail in the coffin for Synder’s version of the DCEU (and I honestly believe that if his daughter had not committed suicide–which resulted in him moving away from directing Jusrice League–Warner Bros would have had to find some other pretext for replacing him because when a movie featuring two of the most iconic characters in history fails to break a billion at the box office, something is very wrong.

Which brings us to Justice League, the movie that literally was the straw that broke the camel’s back for many viewers.  Despite brining in Joss Whedon to change the feel and tone of the movie, it’s apparently resulted in a clash of styles as opposed to the clarity of one person’s vision, which is problematic for entirely different reasons.

Luckily–for comic book movies–this appears less a problem with them in general than the DCEU in particular which means that as long as other studios continue to push the envelope and develop new and interesting characters there’s little chance of the same happening to them

 

How StudioADI (Almost) Saved Alien: Resurrection

Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Alien: Resurrection, along with David Fincher’s Alien 3, are considered–and rightly so–to be the worse movies in the Alien franchise.

In reference to the the former, that’s probably true, but doesn’t tell the whole story.  For instance, Joss Whedon (Serenity, The Avengers, Avengers: Age of Ultron) wrote the movie, and had a few things to say about the casting as well as how he final product veered from his screenplay.

Another point is that, despite the issues revolving around the casting or story–what’s the point of giving the Alien Queen the ability to reproduce like mammals do, anyway?  Not only is it oftentimes painful (which may aid to bond the mother and her offspring), mammals typically produce much less offspring than insects, which the Aliens essentially are.

So when the entire premise of your movie is a wash, it’s typically a bad sign.

That being said, studioADI handled a lot of the practical special effects–Ripley models, the full-sized Alien Queen, etc–and their work is easily the best part of the movie.

And while it wasn’t  not enough to save the movie, visually speaking, it came damn close.

Secret In Their Eyes – Trailer

Chiwetel Ejiofor (a name that is much easier to type than it is to say) MUST become a huge star one of these days, and if Secret In Their Eyes doesn’t do it, then my money is on Marvel Studios’ upcoming Benedict Cumberbatch starrer, Doctor Strange.

I think that I first saw him in Joss Whedon’s Serenity, and he was pretty good there; though if the trailer is any indication this guy is primed to explode any movie now.

That is, if there’s any justice in the universe–which I guess depends upon where you stand.

Marvel Studios One-Ups DC Entertainment (Again) With Upcoming Infinity War

I admit, after learning that Marvel Studios isn’t coming to Comic-Con this year, that I was a mite concerned (though Marvel Television and Cartoons are attending) because that meant that DC Entertainment would dominate the convention with news and clips from Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (still hate that title) and Suicide Squad.

Though based on some new news from Complex, they’ll need it because it’s rumored that the villains for the upcoming Avengers two-parter, Infinity War, will not only be Thanos, but the Magus!

And seeing that the Magus will possibly make an appearance, it goes without saying that his alter-ego, Adam Warlock, can’t be very far behind.

The Magus

It only a coincidence that I look vaguely like Shazam.

This is the Magus.  He’s an future version of Adam Warlock who’s working to ensure that he comes to be, which means driving Warlock to embrace the darker, more ruthless parts of his nature.

Warlock has been inextricably tied to the Infinity Gems (known as ‘Infinity Stones’ in the movies), so that the Magus (and Adam Warlock) are making an appearance makes perfect sense.

Another benefit is that the two movies are being helmed by the Russo brothers, which if Captain America: The Winter Soldier is any indicator, means that it will probably to be a bit darker, more serious tonally and less humorous than the Joss Whedon-helmed Avengers movies.

Mea Culpa: The ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Edition

I admit it, I shat the bed, figuratively speaking.  When I saw the trailer below, I assumed that it was for J.J. Abrams’ upcoming Star Wars sequel, The Force Awakens, and should have known better.

Why?  Because a huge clue was staring me right in the face the entire time, which I have posted just below.

Bat Robot logo

Bad Robot logo

For those who are unaware, Bad Robot is the production company owned by Abrams (Mutant Enemy is owned by Joss Whedon, which is why you see it credited at the beginning of Marvel’s Agent’s Of S.H.I.E.L.D.).

For it to appear on the latest Star Wars trailer would mean that mean that Disney and Lucasfilm were sharing the wealth, so to speak, with Bad Robot.

Which is a relatively stupid idea, if you give it any sort of thought because Disney just finished paying $4 billion for Lucasfilm and the last thing they would do is to share any potential profits with Bad Robot–which isn’t to imply that Abrams isn’t making a buttload of money from directing it, because he probably is.

I have posted the actual trailer below (The Force Awakens will always sound to me like the title of a movie on Lifetime, mainly because there’s something oddly feminine about it) and it’s pretty good, though not quite as dynamic as the fake.