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

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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.

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.  

XXX: The Return Of Xander Cage – Trailer

When I caught Doctor Strange last weekend one of trailers before the movie was XXX: The Return Of Xander Cage, which fascinated me because prior to that moment I had rarely seen so much stupid squeezed into a trailer that lasted no more than two or three minutes. 

It reminded me of the time Jason Statham said that he would never star in a Marvel movie because of all the green screen and stunt doubles.

Though in the instance of Marvel Studios there’s a point to all the FX, because until people can fly, turn into green rage monsters or make costumes our of nonexistent metals (with miraculous, unearthly properties), CGI and green screen are the only way to bridge the distance between what’s possible and what isn’t. 

Now, compare that to movies like this one, where the main character isn’t Superman or Wonder Woman, but a guy really into extreme sports. 

CGI may make those stunts look more extreme, but it also cheapens things in exactly the way Statham was talking about, which is by removing the human element.

The Origin Of The (Cinematic) Universe, Part One


‘Early Milky Way’ image via hubblesite.com

Success breeds imitation, and in the past ten years few movie companies have been successful as Marvel Studios.

And while many in the Hollywood community seem surprised, if they had any idea of the pent-up demand for seeing characters like Iron Man, Falcon and many others that millions of people have grown up with from Marvel Comics, on the silver screen, they probably wouldn’t have been.

Though what made Marvel Studios such a success wasn’t superheroes in and of themselves (despite the aforementioned demand) but the way they were presented.

What Kevin Feige, President of Marvel Studios, brought to the table was the creation of an integrated cinematic universe, the likes of much had never been seen in movies before (coupled with extremely faithful interpretations of the characters).

And as far as ‘imitation’ goes, other companies have tried to mimic the approach of Marvel  Studios, with varying degrees of success.

Sony Pictures attempted to create a cinematic universe based on Spider-Man with The Amazing Spider-Man movies. After an initially strong showing, the sequel–while profitable–indicated a definite downward trend, financially speaking, for the franchise.

So they, perhaps anticipating the franchise falling precipitously enough that the rights would eventually revert back to Marvel, instead entered into a deal where future Spider-Man movies would be under Marvel Studios’ creative control, while both studios produced (some have written that the upcoming movies would be produced exclusively by Sony, with Marvel providing only creative control.  This literally makes no sense at all because having only creative control gives Marvel Studios relatively little, while granting Sony access to the uber-successful Marvel Cinematic Universe (Iron Man, played by Robert Downey Jr., is one of the most successful Marvel Studios’ characters, who’ll next appear in Spider-Man: Homecoming). 

Universal Pictures plans to create a cinematic universe based upon Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, the Wolf Man and the Mummy (which is filming with Tom Cruise in the lead).  At this point it’s too early to tell how well it will do.

What’s perhaps most surprising is the current position of DC Films in the world of the cinematic universe.  ‘Surprising’ because before Marvel Studios was barely an idea they were producing movies based upon Superman and Batman.  The problem was that–for reasons that will probably never be entirely known–they never built and expanded their offerings, despite seemingly ample opportunities to do so.

Can Geoff Johns Save The DCEU?

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Can Geoff Johns save the DCEU, otherwise known as the DC Extended Universe?

Let’s just say I HIGHLY doubt it.  And it’s worth mentioning that I speculate out of love because–while DC characters like Batman and Superman aren’t my favorites–I don’t wish them ill, either.

Which is why I find the movies released so far just vexingly disappointing.

Check out my reasons why in the video below.

Justice League – Teaser Trailer

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I have to admit that I enjoyed the first trailer for Zach Snyder’s Justice League. but if I say I weren’t concerned I’d be lying.

Reason being, he had two chances to make movies based on Batman and Superman.

The first attempt, Man of Steel is enjoyed by many, but in its way is as divisive as its follow-up, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

And the worse thing is, his task was relatively easy in that all he to do is work with two characters that between them have somewhere in the ballpark of 150 years of history.

Relatively little in in the way of a rethink was necessary, or warranted.

Acknowledge that history, and go from there. Such an approach works really, really well with Marvel Studios, as well as Guillermo Del Toro’s uber-faithful interpretations of Mike Mignola’s Hellboy

My question is why did Zach Snyder, and by extension Warner Bros., though that they could so greviously misinterpret–some say ‘reinterpret,’ though the problem with that reasoning is that you can’t reinterpret something that wasn’t interpreted correctly in the first place–these characters.

Never mind that they were seeking to differentiate themselves from Marvel Studios, because I get the feeling that most people don’t confuse Batman with Spider-Man or Superman with Thor.