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.

 

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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

 

Wonder Woman Looks to Smash Expectations   

Patty Jenkins’ upcoming Wonder Woman feature has a quality that’s shared with no other recent movie bearing the DC logo (and it’s not an opening projection that’s projected somewhere in the ballpark of $175 million worldwide).

The quality in question is its  Rotten Tomatoes score.

According to the aggregator the movie has amassed a 97 percent ‘Fresh‘ rating, which is HUGE because it tells you that the critics that have seen he movie so far like it.

And speaking of critics, keep in mind that as of the writing of this article that percentage was made up of only  66 reviews, so that number is likely to go down, though it shouldn’t be a huge percentage.

Which means that not only will Wonder Woman receive better reviews than either Man Of Steel, Suicide Squad or Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, but it’s quite likely that it will be the most profitable movie based on a female superhero ever.

At least till Marvel Studios’ Captain Marvel arrives on he scene.

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.  

Suicide Squad – Review

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“David Ayer’s Suicide Squad is a better movie than either Man of Steel or Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.  Which unfortunately isn’t saying all that much.”

By my reckoning the greatest problems with Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was that director Zach Snyder forgot–or choose to ignore–two important things:

First, both Batman and Superman were originally made for children.  Now, I can understand the drive to make them more acceptable to adults, but what I don’t get is why he had to alienate younger folk in the process.

Though by doing so he removed two of the things that made them (particularly Superman) interesting to their millions of fans, which is a sense of wonder and possibility.

And while Superman was never my favorite superhero, I also never though of him as a god, something that Snyder has fixated on and feels the need to bludgeon viewers over the head with.

Zach Snyder’s fingerprints are all over Suicide Squad as well, particularly his tendency to equate murkiness and dreariness with darkness of tone.

And I’m also not sure that David Ayer was a good choice for the material (especially considering his filmography, such as End of Watch and Fury, though to be fair he seems to get that this stuff is essentially silly, so nothing’s any more serious than it needs to be) though he seems acquit himself well.

What’s more problematic is that the story–also written by Ayer–is way bigger than it needs to be.  Deadshot, El Diablo, Captain Boomerang, Harley Quinn, Slipknot, the Enchantress and Killer Croc are like the Avengers composed of lesser versions of Hawkeye, with the exception of El Diablo, Headshot and the Enchantress.

Which isn’t to say that they can’t be lethal, but if you’re looking for someone to stop an evil that threatens the world they probably wouldn’t be the first group you’d call.

But there’s a more serious problem that directly links to Zach Snyder’s treatment of Batman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

Namely Batman, when he encounters Deadshot and Harley Quinn, he kills neither one. If you recall in Batman v Superman he was really keen on killing virtually every person that opposed him.

Here? Not so much.

It’s not a corner that half-decent writing couldn’t get themselves out of, though it’s also a place that Snyder shouldn’t have taken the character in the first place.

And I fully understand that the movie would have been quite a bit shorter if Batman killed off Deadshot and Harley Quinn, but it would have also been truer to what Zach Snyder was doing before the soft reboot of the DC Extended Universe, which Suicide Squad is the first movie in.

Batman V Superman Reviews Are Coming In…

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The Courtyard of the Old Residency by Adolf Hitler, 1914

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice reviews have been filtering in for the last day or two, and while they’re not all terrible–after all, someone probably even liked Hitler’s paintings–they’re pretty disastrous considering that there are literally millions, if not potentially billions, riding on its success.

I intend to catch it tomorrow, and will post a review as soon as i can.

That being said, from many of the reviews I get the impression that Zach Snyder, who also directed 2013’s Man of Steel, not only didn’t learn from the excesses of that film, but actually doubled down on them.

So we apparently get a Batman who’s really into killing criminals–which makes no sense when you think about it because Batman has one of the most extensive rogues galleries in comics, which he wouldn’t have if he were so intent on murder–and lots of destruction.

Now, if were were talking about a movie like Independence Day or The Incredible Huik, I could understand all the violence.

Batman and Superman?  Not so much.  And while I admit that I am partial to Marvel Studios movies, I don’t necessarily want those from DC Films to fail–just not to do as well–though the tone-deafness coming from DC movies is a bit disturbing.

Though what’s worse is that Zach Snyder in interviews often comes off as arrogant, as if he knows better than people that have literally followed these characters for a large part of their lives.

It’s a bad thing, and I get the feeling that among the comic geeks out there, his ego is going to be very expensive for Warner Bros.

 

 

 

Deleted Scene From “Batman v Superman” Starring Jimmy Kimmel

The only problem with this clip from Jimmy Kimmel Live is that it runs a bit long, hitting viewers over the head with something that would have worked much better with a lighter touch.

That being said, Kimmel brings up a good point, namely who doesn’t wonder when watching movies like Man Of Steel, when visually all that separates Superman (Henry Cavil) from Clark Kent is literally a pair of glasses, how it is that no one at least notices the resemblance (the reveal of Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) as Batman is a bit more clever, though it too goes on a bit too long)?