Tag Archives: Man of Steel

Superman Doesn’t Kill

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Who the hell is this guy?

Last week I engaged in a Facebook melee about whether or not Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel is a fair representation of Superman. As someone who believes Superman would be on the slippery slope to total f***ing bonkers, I find myself not at all enjoying the dark, brooding Superman.

Honestly, it’s not that big a deal. I like Superman, but I’m not too invested in his movie franchise. So, for the most part, the fact that Zack Snyder’s vision of the Man of Steel is joyless doesn’t faze me much. Whatever sense of wonder the movie elicits is completely subdued by the dark, broody fighting and collateral damage.

And that’s fine. What I can’t get past is Superman killing, especially so soon in the new franchise. Superman doesn’t kill. Period. And instead of voicing the reasons why I feel that way on Facebook, it makes more sense to do it here.

Superman Is The First

Superman is the first superhero. Ever. That’s a huge deal. He is the originator of the comic book golden age and I believe because of that he, more than any other hero, has largely maintained his sense of innocence. While golden age comics were for kids and the audience now is quite a bit older, Superman remains the standard for iconic superheroes. Some heroes have reinvented themselves or have been retconned, but Superman remains largely the same. Some of the details have changed, but standing for justice hasn’t.

In the golden age, heroes didn’t kill. Generally speaking, villains didn’t kill either. Through the silver age and the iron age into modern comics, I’ve only found one instance where Superman purposefully took a life. Any Superman fan worth their salt might, at this moment, point at Doomsday and say “he killed that thing!” And that is true, but I’m not convinced that was his intention. Like a punch-drunk brawler, a delirious Superman was just trying to end that fight.

There have been a few accidents here and there and we’ve seen some collateral damage and reprisals, but Superman has only ever chosen to kill once. In Superman #22 he poisoned an alternate universe version of Zod and two of his lieutenants.

And it destroyed him.

Superman realized that he had become something he didn’t recognize and left Earth. He had to do all this soul searching and come to terms with what he understood was a completely wrong act. Being the first hero and an avatar for what we think of as truth, justice and the American way, he’s special. Superman is different than all other superheroes because of that history.

Which is why when he does choose to kill, as he did in Superman #22, he stops being Superman. He becomes something else.

Superman Isn’t A Villain

Sometimes people suggest that Superman or another hero should just kill their villains and save the thousands of lives that are otherwise lost by entrusting them to the criminal justice system. I’ve even argued that Batman probably should just kill the Joker. And I stand by that because I would argue it’s just as heroic for a man to sacrifice his own values to save the world as it is to sacrifice his life.

Killing is just too easy for a man that can shoot lasers at you from space. Batman doesn’t believe in guns and would have to get close in many circumstances–not to mention all the planning and critical thinking about how to take that life. Superman, meanwhile, can snuff out thousands of lives by knocking over a building. Killing shouldn’t be that easy. Justice and democratic principles have always been against one man being judge, jury and executioner.

Inviting Superman to kill without consequences (unless you call the minute of sobbing he did after de-lifing Zod a consequence) is inviting a police state through fear where criminals and potential transgressors are subdued by the thought of Superman rather than a government by the people for the people. And since Superman can see and hear everything at all times, that fear would be so much worse.

And it’s about free will. Doing good or evil is dependent upon having a choice. If I make all the right decisions because I know Superman will erase me if I don’t, it’s not really my choice. And since he can be anywhere at any moment, I wouldn’t have a reason not to be on my best behavior out of fear. Which really leads into my next point.

Super Murder Signifies Something Is Wrong

You could write entire books about who the real Superman is. Is it the original imagining by Siegel and Shuster? Is it the carefully cultivated image maintained by DC Comics? Are they all real?

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Is this Superman?

I’m not a purist, but I would argue that most movies, television shows, video games and books outside the main DC titles can be considered re-imaginings. These things are new stories told by different people based on the icon blueprint of the character’s history.

You would be hard-pressed to find a version of Superman that kills and is still Superman. The recent Injustice: Gods Among title includes a Superman that kills and is basically a despot. Clark Kent killed on Smallville, but that was to drive home the point that he wasn’t Superman yet. Cartoon Network’s Justice League included a “Justice Lord” Superman that killed President Lex Luthor… and and also became a despot. Oh, and don’t forget DC’s own Superman Prime who, in an effort to return home, sparks a space war and becomes one of DC’s most dangerous villains.

The bottom line is that when Superman kills, it always indicates there’s something wrong with his character. Which makes perfect sense because of how central to the Superman mythos not killing is. A mythos, I might add, that’s meant to do more than illicit awe for his power.

Superman Is Supposed To Inspire

The point of Superman is not just to do stuff for us. As several iterations of Lex Luthor have argued, that idea of Superman makes the rest of humanity obsolete. What would the point of any of us be if we settled for letting our resident god-like entity worry about everything on our behalf? What’s great about the Man of Steel is that he is supposed to inspire us. He is supposed to represent an ideal that we can never achieve, but constantly work at.

Glorifying killing isn’t in his character; he shouldn’t make us think having to take a life is ok. Instead he inspires us to to better. His example can save us from ourselves.

For all the junk people say about Superman Returns, this is something Bryan Singer got right.

Superman couldn’t save us all in the sense that even if he spent 24 hours a day doing super things, some of us would still have bad things happen to us. That’s the calculus of one Superman and 7,000,000 people.

No, even when Superman fails to save individual people, his example can save us from the worst parts of human nature. Given a choice between a world full of hope and a world where Superman kills, I know which one would bring out the best in me.

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Not Bad, Not Good, Not Brolin – Ben Affleck is the New Batman.

Seriously, Warner Bros? What the actual f#©k?!

This is our new Batman, wearing the Superman costume. Let that soak in.

This is our new Batman, wearing the Superman costume. Let that soak in.

Did you guys even look into your other options or did you just look out onto the studio lot, see Ben Affleck strolling around and think “Hey, Ben owes us a favor, so let’s have him do it”?

You could’ve picked any other, much more talented actor, and yet you went with Affleck. I remember Josh Brolin being an option, what happened there? Was he not good enough for you?! Was Ben cheaper?! Technically, this guy’s already played Superman. Don’t you think it’s a little unfair to let him play both Bats and Supes?! ANSWER ME, DAMMIT!!

Sorry. Had a moment there.

I’m getting a tad bit worked up over this and some might think it’s really not worth it, but Batman is important to me. Batman has been my number one hero throughout my entire life. So yeah, I’m gonna get worked up over a decision like this. I don’t want Batman to ever be “Clooney-ied” again. I want any actor that wears the cowl to wear it with pride and honor it and know that if he screws up the role and the image, we (and by we, I mean the Bat-fandom) will have his head. You’ve been warned, Affleck.

There’s only one Batman I have ever hated and that was George Clooney. He did a phenomenal job of tarnishing the image for me, and I will never forgive him. Him, Schumacher, and Batman & Robin. I spit on you, Joel Schumacher. Ptooey! That film was an abomination.

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Now don’t get me wrong, I think Ben is a fine actor. He has made some great films (The Town, Dogma). He was the bomb in Phantoms, yo! He’s also made some shitty films (Reindeer Games, Pearl Harbor, Gigli), but who hasn’t? It took me a few years to like him as Daredevil but I finally warmed up to him. I’m just not a fan of him putting on the Batsuit. Of course, I wasn’t a fan of Heath Ledger (R.I.P) playing the Joker and now I can’t see anyone else playing the Clown Prince of Crime. So I’ll give Affleck a shot, but he’s gonna have to wow the hell outta me, along with millions of others. Not to mention, he’s gonna have some big boots to fill, following after Christian Bale. But if he can manage a better Batman voice, he’ll have one-up on him. I just don’t want to have to wait a few years to like him as Bats.

Can Affleck beat down Cavill?

Can Affleck beat down Cavill?

My largest fear of this decision comes from the notion that Zack Snyder is partly basing this film off of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. In it, an older, grizzled Batman dons an armored suit and fights Superman one-on-one. It’s a legendary battle that should not be taken lightly, and I’m worried that Affleck won’t be able to pull it off. I think Cavill can because he’s an exceptional Superman. The best, in my opinion. But I’m a little worried that I won’t be able to take Affleck seriously during the fight. I don’t want to laugh at Batman, I want to cheer him on as he pummels Superman.

Oh, and he has to quote this line: “I want you to remember Clark. In all the years to come. In your most private moments. I want you to remember my hand at your throat. I want you to remember the one man who beat you.”

He has to say it and say it epically or the film will be for naught.

As with most things of this nature, I’ll give it a chance. Reluctantly, but still. However, Ben Affleck will have a much slimmer chance than others. Impress me, Ben. Impress the hell outta me.

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Movie Baggage

Pacific Rim came out last week, and I loved it for most of the reasons I already predicted. Visually, it’s fantastic. It hits all the bright colors and foreign feel of Blade Runner while containing the grittiest elements of military fiction. And that’s kind of what the movie is, a marriage between Starship Troopers-esque action and Voltron with a massive budget and an adult demographic. It’s all the best parts the Power Rangers, Godzilla and, for reasons I’m not entirely sure, Street Fighter 2.

What the movie isn’t, though, is an origin story. And thank god for that. The audience gets caught up with the current events of the film through a 10 minute introduction with protagonist narration. It’s simple, elegant and somehow not reminiscent of the 90 second info dump at the beginning of Green Lantern.

Not unlike a cross between an anime, a video arcade and a Hong Kong casino.

Not unlike a cross between an anime, a video arcade and a Hong Kong casino.

I can’t say what every film should do because there is no such formula for success, but I can say what I liked about this movie: simplicity. There’s no question about how to use power or how to deal with the morally grey questions of supeheroics. The protagonists aren’t grappling with the hardships of great power and great responsibility or restraint.

There’s simply a hole in the ocean where monsters keep coming out and you need to punch them in the face with a robot while wearing Mass Effect style armor. Kick it in the d*** and don’t get killed.

And I couldn’t help but reflect on other summer movies that were a little too bulky. Man of Steel‘s origin story, coupled with the obligatory struggle with power and shoe-horned romance, had enough girth to bog down the entire story to a degree that made us questions whether it was still Superman.

For anyone that saw the film, did romance between Lois and Clark seem uncomfortably forced? With all the time we spent rehashing Superman’s past and dealing with the Kryptonian invasion, by the time they were kissing at the end, all I could think was, “Uh, Lois! You barely know that dude!”

Also, that Superman couldn’t stop the destruction of Metropolis, the death of thousands of people and snapped a guy’s neck: SUPERMAN IS SUPPOSED TO SAVE ALL OF THEM!

Am I saying that Superman’s origin shouldn’t have been part of the movie?

No.

Maybe.

I’m saying that everyone knows his origin story because Superman is the most recognized fictional character on Earth. Would it have been bad to do a clip montage like Pacific Rim or a brief intro like the 2009 Star Trek? Actually, that’s a great idea. In 8 minutes Abrams created a tangent history for Kirk and the entire Star Trek universe. Granted, the rest of the film was still a kind of origin story for the crew, but it was dynamic and interesting.

Speaking of Abrams, Star Trek: Into Darkness has a lot of the same baggage. I really wanted to like the film, and I’m quite fond of the first J.J. Abrams reboot, but there were some things that I couldn’t get past.

1. Kirk getting demoted for being a screw-up and then being immediately promoted to save The Federation and avert war.

2. Having a battle with a secret ship in orbit of Earth. Where is the rest of the Federation? They just had a terrorist attack like 2 days ago.

3. Earth’s complete lack of monitoring devices or defenses, allowing for a terrorist to crash a ship into Star Fleet HQ. If the destruction of Vulcan was the 9/11 (or Pearl Harbor) of Star Trek, how is it Earth is completely undefended?

4. Kirk kicking the ship’s engine to get it working again. This wasn’t so much an oversight as an accidentally perfect metaphor for the transformation of Star Trek characters from their original incarnation as diplomats and scientists to people who get things done by hanging off ledges and punching people.

All of these things are symptoms of movie baggage. These films are trying to complicate characters that, traditionally, are considered beyond reproach. And maybe this is the heart of the problem. I’m tired of flawed characters burdened by their responsibilities. I’m over shades of grey and coping with how awful having super powers must be.

Where is the joy? Where is the sense of whimsy? Where is the simplicity of having the ability to help people and wanting to do it? That’s what Pacific Rim had and, I argue, what Man of Steel and Star Trek: Into Darkness were missing. Again, I’m not saying that this is the way all films should be because you know I would be on here complaining about how static and boring protagonists are. But I do believe these two franchises deserved characters with a sense of wonder and joy.

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Another Origin Story?!

Man of steel oneI’ve read a lot of comments on various forums in the wake of the latest trailer for Man of Steel, and a lot of them had the same thing to say: “Why are they doing his origin story again!?” At first, I wanted to echo the sentiment. Come on, Superman is arguably the most popular character that was created in the 20th century. EVERYONE knows who Superman is and where he came from, right?

Then, I decided to do a quick survey of  my non-comic-book-reading friends and family. I simply asked them to tell me what they knew of Superman’s origin story. Some people got it exactly right. Most got it partially right. A few people got it completely wrong.

So, there’s part one of my argument for another origin story. New people are getting introduced to the Superman character all the time. A lot of people will buy tickets to watch  Man of Steel simply because “The Director of The Dark Knight” is attached to every trailer and movie poster. We who have seen a Superman cartoon, read a Superman comic, or even seen a Superman movie are in the minority here.

We are currently living in a geek golden age, so it’s hard to not be selfish when we get movies about things we love, but movies are made for a much wider audience than just we geeks.

I would argue that Superman is one of the greatest literary characters ever written. I know that some people hate Superman because he is a “boy scout” or whatnot. But, seriously, he ushered in a new era of modern mythology. His story is pretty timeless–a special person finds out that he is special, and has to figure out what to do with his specialness. Sometimes the story is about what a god does when he is among humans. In any event, it’s interesting, thematic, and he has a cool cape.

When other great works of literature are adapted for the screen, I see very few people complaining about it. When Les Miserables was coming out in theaters, I saw a whole lot of excitement. When Pride and Prejudice  gets adapted for the screen (again!) I also don’t see a lot of complaints. Retelling and re-imagining stories and characters is about as old as storytelling itself. Just because the new Man of Steel film is retelling an origin doesn’t automatically make it invalid.

Comic book guyDoes the geek response to Superman’s origins perhaps stem from the insular nature of the geek community? You know on The Big Bang Theory (which I hate, by the way, but that’s another article for another time) when the characters looks really put out because another character doesn’t understand the love for Dungeons and Dragons or comic books? I’ve seen that happen in real life. I’ve known people who have gotten mocked because they really wanted to get into comic book but didn’t know where to start. There was the big controversy about people denouncing “fake geek girls” because they didn’t know every detail about your favorite superhero. Or, how about people who want to start playing Dungeons and Dragons, but the jerk DM acts like the new player has to know every obscure rule in the core rulebook before they can play?

Geeks can be jerks. Plain and simple. A lot of geeks of my generation and older got openly mocked for enjoying comic books or Dungeons and Dragons. But, it’s the cool to like those things now. The Avengers was a huge movie hit. Batman movies have done really well. And now that geeks are on top, we’re starting to get selective as to who can be “one of us.”

And it needs to stop. You may have been picked on by other people for what you liked at one time or another, but that doesn’t give you the moral high ground in every situation going forward. If you are bullying people for not knowing a whole lot about your chosen hobby, you need to stop. You’re being a jerk. I don’t care if you had your head dunked in toilets. I don’t care if your towel was stolen while you were in the gym shower. Or any number of awful things happened to you simply because you liked something that other people didn’t. I’m sorry those things happened to you. I really am. It still doesn’t mean that you get to awful to other people.

PadawanHere’s a thought; know some potential geeklings that want to get into something you’re really knowledgeable about? Are you a master DM that knows a person that wants to try some RPGs? Got a friend that doesn’t know where to start with reading comic books? Mentor them. Be their dork Jedi Master. Show them around. Introduce them to your friends. Defend them if they get mocked. Just be a generally awesome person.

So what does my rant have to do with Superman’s origin story? There have been many times when after a friend saw a superhero movie, I was asked to help them find good comics to read. Now, I could’ve mocked them for not knowing what to read, and thereby felt like an alpha geek; instead, I helped them find some good comics, and now they are a part of a hobby I love. I have a feeling that a lot of people are going to see Man of Steel. And if you’re a comic book geek and reading this, maybe you can introduce someone you love to graphic storytelling.

How is that not better for the hobby? We need to move our hobby from being so geekily inbred. We desperately need new blood. New fans can equal great things in the future. They might go on to develop new hobbies that you love. But, only if you’ve not slammed the door in their face before they reached for the knob.

In other words, Golden Rule time, everyone. Be kind. You’ll never know where you simple act of not being a jerk will get you. And, for goodness’ sake, enjoy the fact that so many geeky properties are getting so much attention. It won’t last forever.

 

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Updates from the Realm of Comic Book Films

This week I thought I’d drop some updates on ya. Fo’ shizzle!

Sorry. Didn’t mean to get “gangsta” on you.

Anyway, let’s kick this pig. Metaphorically speaking.

Man of Steel

There was a new trailer released this week, and it is, for lack of a better word, beautiful. It showcases everything that is going to make this film a possible cinematic masterpiece. An iconic new version of Superman (played by Henry Cavill), epic narration from Jor-El (Russell Crowe), gorgeous and grandiose battles on Krypton and Earth, and who I’m sure will be one of the most badass villains since Heath Ledger’s Joker, General Zod (played by Michael Shannon). And let’s not forget the score by Hans Zimmer. Magic.

If you haven’t seen the newest trailer, take a gander:

Like I said…beautiful. I may cry when I watch this film.

The Amazing Spiderman 2

Pictures from the set of TAS2 were released this week, showcasing Jamie Foxx in costume as Electro. Luckily for us, they aren’t going with the classic green and yellow lightning bolt costume. What worries me is that the design they’re going with somewhat resembles Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Mr. Freeze. That, or a thuggish version of Dr. Manhattan. However, Jamie Foxx can act circles around Arnold, so I’m not all that fearful. I can’t wait to see what Paul Giamatti’s Rhino looks like.

Have a look at Electro’s new look:

Jamie Foxx's Electro

Jamie Foxx’s Electro

 

Guardians of the Galaxy

Michael Rooker

Michael Rooker

Adding to the cast of Chris Pratt (Star-Lord) and Dave Bautista (Drax the Destroyer), Michael Rooker has been cast as Yondu, one of the four founding members of the Guardians. Strangely enough, Rooker has been trying to get a part in this movie for a while now, but as Groot. I’m just glad he got a role, even though I think Rocket Raccoon would have been an interesting role for him. Michael Rooker is one of those actors that you have to take a chance on with every role. They might be completely awful or completely awesome, but you’re gonna watch either way and still find some form of enjoyment out of it. There’s also news that Zoe Saldana is in talks to play Gamora.

 

 

Doctor Strange

Marvel has given the green-light to a new live-action Doctor Strange film. The film will be part of Phase Three of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, along with Ant-Man. No word yet on who might direct or star, but I’ve always been a fan of Guillermo del Toro directing with Jim Caviezel starring. I’m slightly excited for this, but I’m hoping for another Incredible Hulk film in Phase Three with the possibility of a live-action World War Hulk movie to follow.

Here’s a clip from the 1978 TV-movie version of Doctor Strange. The new film probably won’t be anything like this.

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Reading Flashpoint: Three Lessons Learned From A Brand-Wide Comic Event

Most people probably know that DC cancelled all of its titles in September of 2011 and launched 52 #1 issues of their “New 52” brand. I say most people because it was a pretty big deal at the time. While some of their books like Detective Comics retained their number since the first issue was released in 1939, no company had ever done something so drastic as this  before.

What is less well-known is that the relaunch is actually an in-continuity timeline change that followed the company-wide “Flashpoint” event before the New 52 launched. Which means that while DC reset their book numbers they, technically, are working off the same kind of continuity reset that they did during Crisis On Infinite Earths. For the layman, that means we should think of the New 52 like a sequel to what came before instead of a reboot. All the old stuff that was canon before can still be considered so… but as part of an alternate timeline. It’s a subtle difference, but important for a couple reasons.

Continuity Is An Excuse 

My biggest complaint about modern comics is how ridiculous the continuity is. Since 1985 DC has had four universe-altering events that changed the history of their characters. That doesn’t include all of the ridiculous crossovers (Crisis On Two Earths), cameos and smaller events (Death Of Superman). That minor distinction was important considering that the New 52 came with five years of history. Most of what had happened to the characters in the previous timeline still occurred in one form or another.

So despite the reset there’s still continuity.

And after reading Flashpoint, continuity feels like an excuse to make you pay for pieces of a story. The Flashpoint event consists of 5 main titles of the same name, but it also has more than 50 tie-in comics. All together, there are 60 books in the entire event:

  • Abin Sur (3 issues)
  • Batman: Knight Of Vengeance (3 Issues)
  • Booster Gold (4 Issues)
  • Citizen Cold (3 Issues)
  • Deadman & the Flying Graysons (3 Issues)
  • Deathstroke & the Curse Of The Ravager (3 Issues)
  • Emperor Aquaman (3 Issues)
  • Flashpoint (5 Issues)
  • Frankenstein & the Creatures of the Unknown (3 Issues)
  • Green Arrow Industries (1 Issue)
  • Grodd of War (1 Issue)
  • Hal Jordan (3 Issues)
  • Kid Flash Lost (3 Issues)
  • Legion of Doom (3 Issues)
  • Lois Lane & the Resistance (3 Issues)
  • Project Superman (3 Issues)
  • Reverse Flash (1 Issue)
  • Secret 7 (3 Issues)
  • Canterbury Cricket (1 Issue)
  • The Outsider (3 Issues)
  • The World of Flashpoint (3 Issues)
  • Wonder Woman & the Furies (3 Issues)

Sometimes you need to see it all written out. Many books of varying quality. And I will grant you, a lot of this stuff isn’t central to the main story. Comics like Hal Jordan, a what if to demonstrate how much things have changed, are pretty optional. There’s really only one key plot point in the book while the rest is context. And others, like Frankenstein & the Creatures of the Unknown and Canterbury Cricket are wholly unnecessarily and pretty poorly written to boot.

But a lot of these are essential and read as if they are missing chapters from the main story.

ToBeContinued

Here Wonder Woman discovered a plot between her aunt and Aquaman’s half brother that caused their two peoples to go to war. Now she’s running off to do something, but as you can see, you need to read the third issue of another book to find out what. This isn’t a small plot point. It’s not a throwaway moment. It’s a good example of why it’s so hard for amateurs to get into the big titles. Even if you only like one book, eventually there will be a crossover or event that forces you to read a bunch of different books or miss what’s happening.

Reading all of these makes it feel like you are paying for the story by chapter, which I suppose you are since that is the nature of comics. But it’s so self-referential and complicated to get one story from all these books at a combined cost of between $100-$300.

Even ignoring the cost, just figuring out what goes where is a total b****. Last spring I tried to read Countdown to Final Crisis, which was a prequel company-wide event to a forthcoming company-wide event, with over 100 books of various numbers. I actually had to research it beforehand and, I s*** you not, draw a flow chart to understand what to read. Once you figure it out, a lot of these could have most of their pages put in a sequential order that would work as a single, mass tome, but even the graphic novels have to be organized by kind.

Quality Control Is A Absent

Some of these books are absolute garbage. Obviously the main title, Flashpoint, is pretty solid and the art for Wonder Woman & The Furies #1 is absolutely gorgeous. Superman and Batman’s books are excellent, but the rest is so too inconsistent from a premier comic book business.

As an example, Booster Gold features a women named Alex. In issue #47 she and Booster Gold are captured by the army and in the span of 3 pages she experiences a seemingly random costume change.

 

LongSleeves

First she has long sleeves.

 

NoSleeves

Then she has no sleeves.

 

ShortSleeves

It’s cool though. She alternates a couple times and then settles on short sleeves.

What the hell? This is within 5 pages of each other in the same book. I get when different books doing the same scene have different art, but the same art team on the same book? Why? And this happens ALL OVER.

The Dialogue Is Awful

Something that really bugs me is that the dialogue feels hokey and out of place. Granted, this is a subjective area, but look at some of these and tell me I’m wrong.

Brain drain? That was your best insult? brain drain?

Brain drain? Your go to insult is brain drain?

 

Ugh, can we go back to brain drain?

Ugh, can we go back to brain drain?

 

 Ozzyreference

Aside from using “thrashing” to describe listening to music and the flippant use of “old farts”, I’m pretty sure that’s an Ozzy Osbourne reference more than two decades out of date. The writer, Scott Kolins, is 44. It’s cool that he was a child of the 70’s, but was it too hard to ask his kids for a contemporary artist? Yes, it’s possible that this guy, who’s name escapes me, may just be an Ozzy fan, but it’s not believable and I’m assuming most kids that read these books won’t know who he is. Actually, do kids still read comics?

Whatever. Moving on.

PlaneSpeed

That is Hal Jordan asking someone how fast his plane goes. I’m not an aircraft expert, but I expect a pilot to have some idea how fast his own plane can go before he gets into it. And the “gigahertz and nanoseconds” comment makes him sound like he’s trying not to be smart. If you can fly a supersonic jet you can, hopefully, do some math too. I fully expect him to ask “where are the brakes on this thing?” after reading this. No wonder he crashes his plane in everything I’ve ever seen him in.

Lessons

Yes, there’s some wiggle room here since comic books are the first pay-as-you-go form of entertainment, but it’s not about the observed problems as much as what we learn about DC. First, I have no idea how much money it costs to organize, create, produce and distribute a company-wide event, but it feels like a lot of money that’s going into a very niche form of entertainment. It doesn’t have to be niche, but the interconnected nature of the titles, ridiculous continuity and prohibitive cost make it so.

Now extrapolate that. Since 2006 I’m pretty sure DC has had somewhere between 4-6 company-wide events depending on how you count the Green Lantern craziness that ended in Brightest Day. Who can keep track of all those stories? The funny thing is that it’s so complicated it’s kind of brilliant. All these stories do come together by the end which is a real accomplishment. A very exclusive accomplishment.

Second, I’m not surprised DC properties haven’t been able to tie together a unified movie universe. Launching a brand-wide comic event is way smaller and it’s not a great experience unless your a die-hard fan. Actually, that’s a guess. Maybe die-hard fans didn’t have so much fun with this either.

There has to be a better way, right? Or am I just complaining about the necessary evils of the comic book industry?

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A Life With Superpowers

With the upcoming Man Of Steel scant months away, it seems the WB’s theoretical Justice League film is closely hitched to the success of its latest superhero venture.

Opening this door to speculation raises other questions. Why can’t Warner Brothers put together a successful, non-Batman movie while Marvel is making money off relative unknowns like Thor and Iron Man? How has Superman, the most recognizable comic book character on Earth, not had a successful film since 1980? What was up with Green Lantern?

For a lot of reasons, I think Warner Brothers doesn’t know how to cultivate a loyal fan base and remain profitable, as demonstrated by the recent cancellation of Young Justice and Green Lantern. I don’t think Warner has found a single director not named Nolan that knows how to make a superhero movie look and feel like something the modern audience will pay to see. I think Warner has shown that it doesn’t have the  organization to put together more than one superhero franchise at a time – much less balance multiple franchises across production teams while organizing a single thematically consistent universe. And I don’t think they understand the true size of Marvel’s accomplishment.

And I don’t think Warner Brothers understands the modern superhero. Stoic protagonists face overwhelming odds, risking it all to save the girl/friends/people/world every day. It’s the only thing the CW does shows about now. What we crave are heroes touched by their own power. Marvel gets it.

Superpowers are like a gun. The only superhero stories we care about are the ones where that power is used on other people.

Imagine for a moment that you are in a fist fight about something people get into a tumble about. Maybe a parking ticket outside a bar or a Packers’ fan at a tailgate. It’s your fight, dreamer; make it whatever you want. And like most unexpected fights, the experience is different from the movies. Everything is hyper real and happening too fast. The adrenaline is screaming in your ears, and you’re trying to figure out how to end this thing. Now imagine a random spectator throws a gun between you and your opponent while you’re having it out. I know, it’s a dick move. Probably a crime. Certainly rude. What do you do? Do you grab the gun? Do you let it sit and see what your Packers’ fan does? If you get it first, do you point it at them? Are you willing to pull the trigger? How much do you think that gun has increased the odds someone is going to die now?

That’s what having a superpower is like all the time. You carry a gun that touches every part of you and ensures that the stakes are life and death even in the most trivial circumstances. We get so caught up in the absolute morality of using power to fight evil that we forget that the power is there all the time. It changes the face of all interactions because, even without its use, the threat of power remains ever-present. It’s the reason we don’t tell our teachers they spit when they talk or tell our boss he creeps our secretary. Power.

Misfits is a an excellent example of what I’m talking about. The show, more than four seasons deep, takes place on a community center estate where a bunch of at-risk youths are doing community service for their various transgressions. During their first day of service the youths and their probation worker are caught in a freak storm that gives them superpowers. What I love about this show is the deep consideration given to a life with power. None of our offenders become “superheroes” to save the world, though they do accidentally pull it off a couple times. Instead it’s about the complex human interactions are made more complicated and more dangerous by power.

Can travel through time but still can't escape his boring life.

Can travel through time but still can’t escape his boring life.

Because, again, that power is a gun that you can use at anytime. And unlike comic books, the “real” world if full of people with power just trying to figure out the best way to live. Consider any political argument you’ve ever heard. We don’t think about most of those arguments in the dichotomous of good or evil, especially when you haven’t taken a side. We think about it in terms of different people with different interests trying to get what they want. And, in those terms, all interactions are political. Misfits demonstrate a world where sex, relationships, and mundane tasks are all complicated adventures in themselves because of superpowers.

There was a guy in the first season who’s power was to move dairy products with his mind – a shitty Magneto. Totally stupid, right? He was laughable and his ridiculous power built a murderous resentment in him when other better powers were discovered. As it turns out, he killed everyone. He beat an immortal, a psychic and a guy who could turn invisible simply by moving cheese. A power, I might add, that changed him. That’s the thing about power; the specifics aren’t as important as what they do to the person who has them. And no matter how far you go with power, you’re still human with all the associated flaws and desires.

And the fact that the characters have incredible powers and can’t seem to get out of their community service is poignant.

The misfits are touched by their power. It’s a constant temptation that changes them. Instead of costumed strong-men flying about fighting masked marvels, we find a world populated by monsters in the form of desire and the very human inclination to use an advantage to get what’s wanted. Power has always been a part of our history. That’s a quality Marvel’s recent films have had. No matter how remote or alien the venue, the problems concerning power are always very human.

And they get how dangerous superpowers really are. If you’ve ever seen Smallville, Supernatural, The Vampire Diaries or pretty much any superhero movie you’ve watched one of those fights where someone with super strength is fighting someone without it. They’re always throwing people against things and knocking them out when, in reality, they would just crush any part of that person or punch through them and the fight would be over. Really, even throwing someone through a wall or a window would probably put them in the hospital if not kill them outright.

Every super fight should be over that quickly whether it’s strength, flight or any other power. Superpower fights are like gun battles at close range; they don’t last long unless everyone’s immortal.

But I’m a little far from my point, which is that Marvel’s production studios gets it while DC is still putting together superhero movies with the structure and forethought of Steel. Which makes no damn sense. How the hell does Warner Brothers do eight successful Harry Potter films while failing to pull off one Superman movie?

In short, they need to get their heads in the game.

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The Fate of the Justice League Movie

According to some online sources [here and here], the fate of the upcoming Justice League film (and by upcoming, I mean a few years from now) depends on the success of the new Superman film, Man of Steel. So any DC fans out there who have been eagerly anticipating a Justice League film to compete with Marvel’s The Avengers, whether you believe in a god or not, should probably start praying. Not to mention, plan on seeing Man of Steel whether it sucks or not.

Superman himself doesn't look too sure about the WB's decision.

Superman himself doesn’t look too sure about the WB’s decision.

Now as I’ve said before that I’m looking forward to the new Superman flick. I think it will be phenomenal. Excellent cast, director, producer, and Hans Zimmer. I’m gonna enjoy the hell out of it, but that’s just me. It’s gonna take a lot more than just me for this this to be successful enough to convince Warner Bros to greenlight a JLA film, as well as any other DC superhero films to follow (ahem…Aquaman!). And given the success of past Superman films, the JLA film’s fate seems a bit shaky. I don’t think there’s been a successful one since maybe Superman II. Even Smallville was a bit rocky at times. That whole season with “Doomsday” made me want the CW to cancel the series. So banking on Superman to save the day might be a longshot.

I haven’t really had much faith in a Justice League movie happening in a while anyway. The only successful character on the big screen has been Batman (obviously), no one else can touch him. Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns bombed, Green Lantern flopped, and no one can get a Flash movie going. Wonder Woman can’t even get a pilot on TV, let alone a movie. Green Arrow’s doing alright on the small screen, but the Oliver Queen/Super Max movie is pretty much canned. And Aquaman gets no respect whatsoever in any media, except for maybe the New 52. So yeah, I haven’t really had much hope or anything to give me any hope in a JLA film in a while. Plus, DC and Warner Bros seem to be scrambling to get this film made just because the Avengers and all the other Marvel films did so well and they wanna make money too.

Wait….didn’t Warner have the Harry Potter movies, The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies, and The Dark Knight Trilogy? Those were all done well and time was taken with each of them, so why rush JLA? Geeks and nerds aren’t going anywhere and superheroes aren’t a passing fad. They’ll be around. But if you piss them off by making their heroes look like crap, they won’t be as dedicated and won’t be as will to fork over their money. Think about that.

Could/should JGL be the right Batman for the JLA movie?

Could/should JGL be the right Batman for the JLA movie?

Take the time and build the back-stories on some of the characters that people don’t know as much about. You’ve done enough with Batman for now, let him rest. You can’t have Bale, but you’ve got Joseph Gordon-Levitt and he’ll do pretty damn well, even though I really want him to be Nightwing or Batman Beyond. Fix Green Lantern – recast, let Ryan Reynolds be Deadpool and find someone else. Give Aquaman and Flash their due and find someone that can make Green Arrow, Wonder Woman, and Martian Manhunter work on the big screen. Honestly, I’d save Wonder Woman and Martian Manhunter’s films for after the JLA movie.

Again, I have faith that Man of Steel will be huge. Zack Snyder and Christopher Nolan have never let me down, and I’m really hoping for a super-sweet Superman/General Zod fight. I’m sure they’ll deliver it. But banking everything on a Superman film is like shooting fish in a barrel. Batman did do well because it’s easier for people to connect with Batman. Yes, he’s a millionaire, but underneath it all, he’s still human. Superman just acts human. Deep down, he’s essentially a god and people have a tough time connecting with that…unless you’re egotistical like Kanye West.

I may have said the majority of this before, but it needs to be reiterated as Warner Bros gets closer to making the final decision. Pull your heads from your collective asses and things properly. It’ll pay off more in the end.

But anyway, here’s the Man of Steel trailer. You should go see it. Not to up the chances of JLA being made but because it looks frickin’ awesome!

 

[featured image source: Alex Ross]

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What 2013 Has to Offer on the Big Screen

I thought I’d take a moment this week to briefly look at what’s hitting the box office this year and give a quick prediction on the outcome of each.

  1. Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters – January 25th. Premise: Hansel (Jeremy Renner) and Gretel (Gemma Arterton) play the fairy tale brother and sister who are all grown up and have become professional witch hunters. Prediction: Van Helsing meets Brothers Grimm, which means a lot of action with an intriguing story but hopefully with more Grimm and less Helsing.
  2. John Dies at the End – January 25th. Premise: You take a drug, it sends you through time and space, you might come back normal, or you might come back as something else. Something otherworldly. Now the world is in danger of a sinister invasion and it’s up to two college dropouts to save it. Prediction: Dude, Where’s My Car? meets Buckaroo Banzai but with Paul Giamatti for added effect. Definitely worth a viewing, high or not.
  3. A Good Day to Die Hard – February 15th. Premise: John McClane (Bruce Willis) and his son travel to Russia to fight Russians and stop a nuclear weapons heist. Prediction: I think it might be getting to the point where it might be a good idea for John to die. Hard.
  4. Warm Bodies – February 1st. Premise: A zombie becomes human again through the power of love, other zombies follow suit. Possible hilarity, horror, and action ensues. Prediction: I think someone might be trying to “Twilight-ize” zombies. Let’s hope not.
  5. Oz: The Great and Powerful – March 8th. Premise: A prequel to The Wizard of Oz telling the story of how Oz (James Franco) becomes the Wizard. And it’s directed by Sam Raimi. Win win. Predictions: I think this film will be fantastic and be the magical wonder that Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland failed to be.
  6. G.I. Joe: Retaliation – March 29th. Premise: All but a few Joes are killed off by Cobra. Now it’s up to the remaining Joes (The Rock, Channing Tatum, some other people), including the original Joe (Bruce Willis) to, for lack of a better word, retaliate. Prediction: Hopefully this film will offer some retribution for the let down that was G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra.
  7. Evil Dead – April 12th. Premise: A remake of the original with a female lead (Jane Levy) in place of Bruce Campbell’s Ash. It’s also promising less humor and schtick and more blood and gore. Sounds promising. Predictions: Hardcore fans will be difficult to convince, but from what I’ve seen so far of this flick, they’ll be won over. It looks wicked.
  8. Iron Man 3 – May 3rd. Premise: Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.) returns to take on his greatest foe yet, The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley). From the looks of things, this might be the Dark Knight Rises of the Iron Man series. Ya know, a very powerful foe shows up, strips him of everything, and then Tony must find the hero in himself to defeat his enemy. This also begins Marvel’s Phase II. Prediction: Probably won’t be the best of the three films but I’m sure it’ll outdo Iron Man 2. And make Marvel a lot of money.
  9. Star Trek Into Darkness – May 17th. Premise: Kirk (Chris Pine), Spock (Zachary Quinto), and the rest of the Enterprise crew return to take on a most deadly foe, possibly Kahn, played by Benedict Cumberbatch. Prediction: This film will be epic, just like the first, and seeing Benedict as a bad guy is going to be sweet. This is a can’t miss flick.
  10. Now You See Me – June 7th. Premise: A film about bank-robbing illusionists, directed by Louis Leterrier and scored by The Chemical Brothers. Enough said. Prediction: I have a feeling this is going to be one of those twist-and-turns, mind-f*ck types of film. But with bank-robbing illusionists.
  11. Much Ado About Nothing – June 7th. Premise: Joss Whedon adapted this classic Shakespearean tale while making The Avengers. He cast it with people from Firefly, Buffy, Angel, and The Avengers. He made it because of his insecurities with taking on a huge project like The Avengers. It’s Joss Whedon’s take on Shakespeare….do I really need to say anything else? Prediction: I love Joss Whedon. I love Shakespeare. Without even seeing it, I love this film.
  12. Man of Steel – June 14th. Premise: Zack Snyder directs, Christopher Nolan produces, and a bunch of great actors star in what is sure to be the best Superman film ever. And a film that will hopefully restart the series and lead into a Justice League film. Prediction: The more I see of this, the more I believe that this film will be one of the greatest comic book films of all time. But I’ve been wrong before.
  13. World War Z – June 21st. Premise: Brad Pitt stars in this adaptation of Max Brooks’ bestselling novel about a U.N. employee trying to stop a worldwide zombie outbreak. Prediction: I’m pretty much done with the whole zombie genre, and I haven’t read the book, so I’ll probably wait until this comes out on Blu-ray.
  14. Pacific Rim – July 12th. Premise: Guillermo del Toro writes and directs this film about giant robots fighting to save the world from giant alien monsters. Prediction: I was sold at Guillermo del Toro. The rest is just icing on the cake.
  15. wolverine_jackman_660The Wolverine – July 26th. Premise: Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) travels to Japan to train with samurais and take on a powerful new foe, The Silver Samurai. Prediction: This has to be better than Wolverine Origins. If not, I give up on Hugh Jackman. And Wolverine.
  16. Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters – August 16th. Premise: Part 2 of the series finds Percy (Logan Lerman) and his friends searching for the mythical Golden Fleece. Prediction: I enjoyed the first film, so I may go see this one. I’m hoping this film will fill some of the void that Harry Potter left, but I doubt it.
  17. Riddick – September 6th. Premise: Vin Diesel returns to his most badass character to take on new alien predators, new mercs, and an old foe. Prediction: I will watch this film because I love the others. I will hope this film is the last in the series because I don’t want this series to be run into the ground like Diesel’s other popular series, Fast and Furious.
  18. Cloudy 2: Revenge of the Leftovers – September 27th. Premise: Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader) discovers that the machine he’s created is still creating food-animal hybrids and wreaking havoc. Now it’s up to him to stop it once and for all. Prediction: If you don’t like the first film, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, you have no soul. No but seriously, the first film was hilarious and great for the whole family. This one will be too. I can’t wait.
  19. Oldboy – October 11th. Premise: Spike Lee’s remake of the ultraviolent Korean cult classic about a man (Josh Brolin) who has five days to figure out why he was imprisoned for 15 years without explanation. Prediction: Of all the films on the list, this is one I’m looking forward to the most. I love the original, and I cannot wait for this remake.
  20. The World’s End – October 25th. Premise: Edgar Wright directs a film about five friends who reunite in an attempt to top their epic pub crawl from 20 years earlier unwittingly become humankind’s only hope for survival. Prediction: This is the final film in Simon Pegg and Nick Frost’s “blood and ice cream” trilogy, so I hope it’ll be pretty damn good. I have a feeling it will be.
  21. Ender’s Game – November 1st. Premise: Based on the novel by Orson Scott Card, 70 years after a horrific alien war, an unusually gifted child is sent to an advanced military school in space to prepare for a future invasion. Prediction: Die-hard scifi fans will go ape over this film and then probably rip it apart. That’s how it works. I want to read the book before I watch it.
  22. Thor: The Dark World – November 8th. Premise: Thor (Chris Hemsworth) battles an ancient race of Dark Elves led by the vengeful Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) who threatens to plunge the universe back into darkness. Prediction: Part two of Marvel’s Phase II looks to be another epic win with the addition of Doctor Who number nine as a baddie. Get ready to nerd out, kids.
  23. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – December 13th. Premise: The journey continues for the Dwarves, Bilbo (Martin Freeman), and Gandalf (Ian McKellen) as they seek to retrieve their gold from the dragon, Smaug (voice by Benedict Cumberbatch). Prediction: Do I really need to predict anything for this? People will flock and empty their wallets for this film. We all know what’s going to happen.
  24. Anchorman: The Legend Continues – December 20th. Premise: The Channel 4 News Team returns for more crazy on-set adventures. Predictions: Probably won’t be a hilarious as the first but I’m sure it will be freakin’ hilarious! And filled with many great one-liners that will be quoted for years to come.

I know I’ve missed a few films here and there, but I don’t really care. I think the list is long enough as it is now. It doesn’t need any more.

What films are you looking forward to this year?

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Man of Steel Trailer

I’ve been a fan of Henry Cavill since I started watching The Tudors, so I was excited when he was announced as the new Superman. This trailer confirms his casting for me. I hope that this is the Superman movie with both need and deserve.

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