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.

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Will Thor: Ragnarök Join the Billion Dollar Club?

img_0536I think it’s very, very likely.

Reason being, Thor earned just $449 million in 2011.  It’s sequel, Thor: The Dark World, earned almost $645 million in 2013.

Notice the upward trajectory?  And do you know what those prior movies didn’t have?

A Hulk!

So, while Thor: Ragnarok has yet to released in North America it’s already earned over $109 million and has yet to be released in the United States, Canada, China, Japan, Germany, Russia and Mexico

So, it’s expected to just earn just under $300 million from all those countries!?  Let’s see…it’s likely to earn over $100 domestically, meaning that it would be pulling in just under $200 million from Canada, China, Japan, Germany, Russia and Mexico.

And that’s HIGHLY unlikely.  I expect a more reasonable estimate is somewhere in the $500-$600 million ballpark, which considering it has no competition till Justice League comes out November 17th, I expect that it will have earned at least $700 million by that time, well on it’s way to a billion dollars.

 

Justice League – Teaser Trailer

Screenshot 2016-07-23 20.23.58

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.

 

 

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Vs. The Dark Side (Of The Internet)

It goes without saying that the internet has been beneficial to humanity.  It possesses a democratizing effect in that no matter or how little money or resources at your command, you potentially have the same access to information that a person with significantly greater resources has.

But like any benison, there’s a dark side.  The Internet also, by its very nature, facilitates the rapid spread of information, be it helpful or just rumor and innuendo, with the capability to damage lives and careers.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be the latest entries to one of the most successful movie franchises in history–despite Lucas’ for the most part mediocre and machine-tooled prequels–and there’s a lot of good will that accompanies it.

The Internet being the Internet, not all the news that accompanied the upcoming movie has been positive.  Some people have felt the need to dwell in details that are either minor, or decidedly insignificant, such as the skin color of a Stormtrooper.

Sure, Stormtroopers aren’t real (though the idea was apparently inspired by Hitler’s elite shocktroops) but people take such things seriously enough–and the Internet isn’t exactly a medium that encourages thoughtful, considered discussion–that a brouhaha resulted.

The thing is, in a roundabout way I think that George Lucas himself unknowingly contributed to the problem by deciding that the Stormtroopers were clones, despite the fact that in the movies leading up to his prequels the Stormtroopers were obviously different sizes and heights (which wouldn’t be the case if they were all physically identical).

When all is said and done, the complaint is a silly one–the Internet not only makes some pretty stupid ideas almost instantly available to potentially millions of people but amplifies them seemingly a hundred-fold–and will do little to deter the movie from grossing millions of dollars, but it can’t be anything but disappointing that we can never seem to get beyond ideas that only bring out the worse in us.

That being said, the same thing happened when the Internet learned that Heimdall from the Thor movies would be played by Idris Elba (it’s worth mentioning that he’s a significantly less important character that the Stormtroopers), so it’s hardly a new thing.

Though that doesn’t make it any less interesting, though.

What Makes Sense8 Work

Sun

I’m on an email list from Deadline: Hollywood, so when I learned that Dominic Patton had reviewed the upcoming Netflix series, Sense8, from Larry and Lana Wachowski, I was immediatedly curious how he felt about it (especially coming off Jupiter Ascending).

Wolfgang

Patton really enjoyed it, which I have to admit surprised me; though what I found more interesting was the positive tone of the review, as well as his speculations about the weakness of their more recent output.

Then he stumbled upon the Answer:  J. Michael Straczynski (Babylon 5, Crusade, Thor, World War Z), created Sense8 with the Warchowskis.

Lito

He’s a writer that created shows like Babylon 5, Crusade, and many others, and I suspect was able to restrain the siblings tendencies toward psychobabble (try listening to the scene in The Matrix Revolutions when Neo (Keanu Reeves) is talking to the family in the subway station without wincing) and CGI excesses (Speed Racer would have probably been a much better movie with half the budget, forcing the filmmakers to make use of more actual sets and vehicles).

Riley

I won’t know for certain till the series premieres in two days, though I am really jazzed to find out what the Warchowskis and J. Michael Straczynski have wrought.

Capheus

Nomi

Will

The Ugly Side Of Fandom

If you’ve seen videos of cosplay or the various ‘Cons’ the first thing you notice is that they feature all sorts of quirky, colorful (and often brilliant) costumes, which is why it’s understandable if you thought that that was what comic geek culture was all about (besides costumes and the–virtual–worship of certain movies and comic characters).

And for the most part, you’d be right, though there are instances when a comic character that began “life” as a white person, and is reinterpreted as a person of color in the movies (Oddly, when a male character was reinterpreted as female, in the case of 2004 reboot of Battlestar Galactica, when Starbuck was underwent gender reassignment, fans only offered token resistance while most were relatively sanguine about it) when you often see the ugly side of fandom.

Before I begin, you’ll noticed that I deliberately don’t use the term “race” because, besides being a misnomer, it has always bothered me because white people are genetically identical to black people, yellow people, beige people, and so on.

I bring this up because the reaction to John Boyega, dressed as a stormtrooper in the beginning of the Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer, has been pretty distressing for some members of the fan community.

Comic book fans tend to be sticklers for detail, which to a degree I can understand. If someone has been following a character for the better part of their lives, it probably feels amazing to see the character on the big screen; till that is, they see that the character has been interpreted in a manner opposite to what they have known and anticipated.

That being said, it feels that whenever an actor of color is cast in a prominent role in a comic book movie, some in the fan community lose all sense of propriety, and logic goes out the window.

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The Avengers: Age Of Ultron Trailer – Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Edition

Kevin Feige, you cheeky bastard.  It appears that you pulled a fast one.  When the trailer for The Avengers: Age Of Ultron was leaked prior to it appearing on Marvel’s Agent’s Of S.H.I.E.L.D. I assumed that that was the end of this story.  Sure, Marvel Studios handed things pretty gracefully, but I thought it was time to move on.

How wrong I was.

The trailer that was released during S.H.I.E.L.D. is quite similar to the leaked trailer, but not the same, and as anyone knows, the Devil is in the details.  The fist, and most noticeable difference is that there’s an extended party scene (which the first trailer only touches upon), where Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr) and Jim Rhodes (Don Cheadle) attempt to lift Thor’s hammer.Tony and Rhody Attempt to lift Thor's hammer

Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) doesn’t bother, because she knows that boys will be boys.

Though things get interesting with Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), otherwise known as Captain America, tries.

Thor's expression

Thor (Chris Hemsworth) appears mildly concerned, especially since he knows that one has to be deemed worthy by the magics that permeate the hammer to lift it, and who’s worthier than Captain America?

From that point on, the trailer mostly follows similar beats as the first one, though there are small differences.

Such as the image below of Black Widow staring at something…

Black Widow staring

Which was followed by this image of the Chituari scepter from 2013’s The Avengers (and what we learn give the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver their abilities from Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

Ctharia weaponCombined with earlier scenes of Captian America breaking into a castle, I believe that they show his his search for the origins of Winter Soldier, and that he finds the hideout of Baron von Strucker (Thomas Kretschmann).

Though there’s an image that appears in both versions that I am very curious about, which is of an attractively-lit room that’s serving as a ballet studio, though why is it in the trailer?  Did Joss Whedon (who may not have cut it) want to add a scene of beauty to contrast all the larger-than-life heroics that proceeded it?

Ballet Dancers

Maybe, but I doubt it because it’s too obvious.  I suspect that the dancers may have something to do with the Scarlet Witch, if only because it’s not exactly the style of Black Widow or Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders).