Tagged: Batman V Superman Dawn Of Justice

Mindy Newell: The Sound Of Breaking Glass?


                                                                                                                            

“Be careful of mankind, Diana.  They do not deserve you.” —Queen Hippolyta

 

Will the Amazonian be the woman who finally breaks the Hollywood glass ceiling?

Wonder Woman, starring Israeli actress Gal Gadot as Princess Diana of Themiscrya, premieres on June 2, just 12 days away, and the fate of all the superwomen and their eponymous movies who would follow her lies in the ability of her sword-wielding, shield-bearing, gold lassoing hands and her armor-plated breast to vanquish the biggest and baddest super-villain of them all: Box Office.

I’ve watched every trailer and clip that Warner Bros. has released, and though they were all great, the very best of all of them, im-not-so-ho, was Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice.  Every time Ms. Gadot showed up, whether it was in her guise as Diana Prince or as Wonder Woman, the movie morphed from an overbearing, weighted down slog through mud into a wonderama gliding with the agility and talent of an Olympian figure skater.  Her Diana Prince was a woman of intriguing mystery and integrity, and her Amazon alter-ego was a wonder of heroic strength and bravery.  She is possessed with incredible beauty and stature, the natural grace of a gazelle, and quiet yet undeniable assurance.  The camera loved her; so did I, and I walked out of the theater knowing that Ms. Gadot is a worthy inheritor to the role that made Lynda Carter a star and icon for girls and young women coming of age during the 1970’s.

I know that I have previously said that I thought placing the movie during WW I might be a mistake.  But after watching (again) all the Wonder Woman clips and previews and that bit from BvS—in which Bruce Wayne discovers the picture of a “meta-human” captioned “Belgium, November, 1918” and starts putting “1 + 1”—I have what I think is a pretty good idea as to why the movie is set when it’s set.  (Of course, I will have to wait to see if I’m right…and I’ll let you know if I was, okay?)

Meantime, the Twitter universe has lit up with early reviews, released on Thursday, May 18; here are some examples:

Indiewire’s Kate Eerbland:

Courtney Howard @Lulamaybelle:

Mike Ryan, Senior Entertainment Writer at Uproxx:

Umberto Gonzalez@elmayimbe:

Every tweet I read reflected what I felt and saw on the screen in BvS.  Gal Gadot is to Wonder Woman what Christopher Reeve was to Superman.  And it may just be that the answer to the question posed up above will be a resounding yes.

Only the gods and goddesses know.


We all have mothers.  I had a mother of a cold last week, and since Sunday was Mom’s day, I thought I would take a moment to honor all those women who have taken on the absolutely hardest job in the multi-verse, even though it’s 24 hours late.

I think the best known mother in the four-color universe is the farmer’s wife from Smallville who, with her husband, found and raised the “strange visitor from another planet” who would grow up to become the one and only Superman.  Although I’ve always known that farmer’s wife as Martha Clark Kent, her name varied for quite a while; she was known as Mary Kent in Superman #1 (1939), but in George F. Lowther’s 1942 novel, The Adventures of Superman, and on the radio program for which Mr. Lowther was a writer, Mrs. Kent’s first name was Sarah, which also followed her to the George Reeves television series of the same name.  (The Adventures of Superman, Episode 1, “Superman on Earth,” written by Richard Fielding)   Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster finally settled on “Martha” sometime in the 1950’s, and since then, every variation of Superman’s mom on the page and on television and in the movies has been known by that name.

Several actresses have played Ma Kent on the big and small screens.  Virginia Carroll was the first to play her in the 1948 movie serial that starred Kirk Alyn as the Man of Steel, in which her name was Martha.  Francis Morris played Sarah Kent in the aforementioned The Adventures of Superman.  Phyllis Thaxter was the perfect Martha to Chris Reeve’s Superman in the one and only Richard Donner film—and if you haven’t seen Donner’s version of Superman II, get on it, guys!!!!!   The venerable actress Eva Marie Saint played her in Superman Returns, and Diane Lane is the most recent Martha, doing an admirable job in Man of Steel, Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, and is about to return as Martha Kent in Justice League.

Television Marthas have been portrayed as younger and hipper.  K Callan’s version, in Lois and Clark: The New Adventures, was a sixties-something woman whom you could easily imagine having burned her bra and marched with Gloria Steinem, Shirley Chisholm, Bella Abzug, and other women during the social upheaval of the ‘60’s.   And I have a special fondness for Annette O’Toole, who played Martha on Smallville for the show’s entire run.  (This was Ms. O’Toole’s second time around in the DC universe; she played Lana Lang in Superman III,)  I think her Martha was innately every bit a feminist as K Callan’s, but, im-not-so-ho, I don’t think she ever needed her consciousness “raised”—she just instinctively understood that she was as equal and capable as her husband and any other man, and her choice to be a “stay-at-home” mom was just that—her choice.  In later seasons, Senator Martha Kent went to Washington, representing the state of Kansas, although her political party was never stated; my own political leanings make her a Democrat, although in reality I think she would most likely be what in today’s political climate is called a RINO, which is pronounced like the animal and stands for Republican In Name Only—a pejorative for someone who is not considered conservative enough in their beliefs.

I also want to take some space here to give a shout-out to two very important moms in my life:  Loretta Yontef Newell, my mom, and her granddaughter (and my daughter), Alixandra.

I haven’t all that often talked about my mom here—I’m really not sure why.  She and my late dad were married for 69 years—they almost made it to 70 years, as their anniversary is coming up this June—and I know she was the linchpin for their relationship, for my dad adored her.  I remember when we celebrated their 60th year of marriage; I said, “y’know, I gotta tell ya, there were times I was sure you two were headed towards divorce.”  My father scoffed and said, “You’re nuts!,”; my mother wouldn’t even deign to answer.

She was a woman who was “feminist” in the same way that Annette O’Toole’s Martha was—raised to be able to stand on her own two feet in a time when most women were raised to become wives only, she first worked as a telephone operator before entering the U.S. Army Nurse Cadet Corps during WW II, and was stationed in Washington, D.C. as the war drew to a close.  After the war she worked as a Labor and Delivery nurse at the Brooklyn Jewish Hospital—she commuted every day from Bayonne, taking bus, ferry, and subways!—where, she told me, she and her friends, after a long night delivering babies, went to the Paramount Theatre in Brooklyn to see a certain young singer from Hoboken whose first name was Frank and whose last name was Sinatra.  (I could never get her to admit to being one of the “bobby-soxers” who screamed his name earlier in the decade.)  She was also a school nurse, a medical-surgical nurse, one of the very first nurses to work with dialysis patients back in the day when the dialysis machines looked like giant rotors with a netting strung across their innards, and worked for the U.S. Public Health Service at a hospital on Staten Island, where one of her jobs was to ride a jetty out to the ships moored in Lower New York Harbor and give physicals to the merchant marine crewmen, clearing them for entrance into the States.  She was a school nurse, a sleep-away camp nurse, and an ER nurse.  And she did all this while being an involved wife and mother.  My dad was always proud of his wife being a professional woman; and she was, for the longest time, the only one of their circle of friends who worked “outside the home.”

She made time for the kids (me and my brother), too.  She encouraged us to read—leading her own two plus their reprobate friends to the public library—and took us into New York City to Broadway shows and museums.  I think our elementary school teachers were afraid of her, because if she thought one of us had been treated unfairly, she didn’t sit on her hands.

When I was in second grade I went to my school’s library and wanted to take out “The Black Stallion,” by Walter Farley.  The librarian would not allow it, saying that it was a book for the older grades.  When my mother heard about this, she went up to the school and demanded that I be allowed to read whatever I wanted to read.  Of course, I wasn’t present for this showdown, but I can only imagine what my mom said, because from then on I never had a problem.

Another time, I think I was in third grade, the class was assigned to read a biography and then write a book report about the subject.  My mom took me to the public library, and I chose the story of Y.A. Tittle, the N.Y. Giants quarterback.  When I handed in my report, the teacher gave it back to me, saying, “Little girls do not read biographies about football players.”  Up went my mother, back to P.S. 29.  Again, I don’t know what she said to the teacher, but I got an A+ on that book report—I’ve always wondered whether it was because it was an early example of my writing ability or because, simply put, the teacher was scared shit of my mother.

My mother never told me what she said, and now it is too late—right before my dad died, maybe two weeks prior, my mom had a stroke, and though she is not physically disabled, her cognitive abilities are, to put it sadly and simply, pretty much shot to hell.  She now lives in the same nursing home, and on the same floor, where my father spent the last years of his life.  Sometimes she is more “cognitive” than at other times—sometimes when I speak to her on the phone, she is almost my mother; and other times, most times, she simply cries and says she wants to go “home.”

The other mom I want to talk about is my daughter, Alixandra.  She and her wonderful husband Jeffrey, my son-in-law the Doctor—he is a PhD. and a professor at Montclair State University in New Jersey—have a son, named after both grandfathers:  Meyer Manuel.  He is loving and beautiful and the light of my life.  He is also autistic.

When Meyer was definitively diagnosed at 18 months—the earliest age at which autism can be, well, definitively diagnosed—Alix was working full-time and applying for a second Master’s program in Public Health and Policy at New York University.  She didn’t quit her job; she didn’t quit her educational plans, only delayed her entry into the program for a semester; she started researching autism and the education of autistic children, and found Meyer the best school in her area, Caldwell University, enrolling her son in the Applied Behavior Analysis program there.  It was incredibly expensive, and when the insurance company lagged in its responsibilities, she fought them.  She has never, ever ceased fighting for her child, has never ceased to put him first; they sold their beloved first home and moved to a town with better, and more progressive, educational policies towards special needs kids, choosing to rent and investing the monies from the sale of their home in Meyer’s future.  And meanwhile, she did go back to school for that second Masters and continues to work full-time, commuting to New York City and always bringing work home with her.

She is one hell of a mother.

In the abso-fucking-lutely very best way.

ComicMix Six: Box Office Democracy’s Worst Movies of 2016

Last time, I covered the best movies of 2016— and now it’s time for the flip side. Brace yourself.

#6: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – In my top list I praised Captain America: Civil War for being a kind of triumphant pinnacle of fan service in comic book movies. Batman v Superman might well be the dark mirror of that idea: fan service run completely amok.  Characters are crammed in this movie every which way along with vague concepts, half-formed ideas, and every frame of iconic superhero artwork Zack Snyder has ever seen.  Batman v Superman is depressing both in tone and failed potential.  The Superman that Snyder puts on the screen is the worst interpretation of the character I’ve ever seen, impulsive and violent without a trace of warmth.  Only the moderately badass Wonder Woman sequences save this movie from higher placement on this list, and they desperately need to right this ship before they consider putting a Justice League movie on the screen.

#5: Allegiant Allegiant is barely a movie at all.  It’s supposed to be setting up for some grand finale, but it has so few plot points to actually dole out that we end up just endlessly spinning.  There’s probably a way to do a movie like this in a better way, perhaps by diving deeply in to the characters or by some distracting world building, but even writing that I realize I’m talking about a filler episode of an hour-long TV show and not a feature film.  Allegiant was a shallow cash grab by a cynical studio and they seem to have torpedoed the entire franchise with their greed.  A more optimistic version of me hoped that this would be the end of splitting books in to multiple movies, but that doesn’t seem like it’s in the cards now that one Harry Potter reference book is poised to be turned in to five movies.

#4: Independence Day: Resurgence – I’m eagerly awaiting the other shoe on Independence Day: Resurgence to finally drop and to learn that the en tire movie was some sort of experiment in programming a computer to write a summer blockbuster.  I would much rather that be the solution rather than a human being (or several teams of human beings as credited) sat down and wrote a movie that so transparently tried to tick every box on some sort of magical checklist.  Sequel to a beloved film of the primary moviegoing populace’s childhood?  Check.  Jettisons the most expensive actor but brings up the character enough to try and get that secondhand rub?  Check.  Crucial character is Chinese to appeal to the essential audience there but don’t give her a big enough part to scare off the more xenophobic among the domestic audience?  Check.  Bigger badder explosions, damn the reduced emotional impact?  Check.  While it’s certainly possible a group of people made a movie this bad I would certainly prefer to find out it was a rogue AI trying to bring down humanity or something.

#3: The Angry Birds Movie – I was delighted by many animated movies.  Two made my top six list and if we did ten over here at ComicMix I likely might have had space for two more.  Children’s entertainment is at a fantastic place as most of the studios seem to have learned not to talk down to kids and to put effort in to their work in exchange for almost unheard of responses.  The Angry Birds Movie is a movie that shows that not all lessons are learned by all people.  Angry Birds is a barrage of ideas that presents no internal consistency or emotional stakes.  Everything is 10 seconds away from being a poop joke and in 2016 that simply isn’t good enough.  The fact that the movie ends with an endlessly long sequence reacting the mobile phone game everyone was sick of five years ago Is the final nail in the coffin.

#2: Sausage PartySausage Party would be a solidly above average sketch on Funny or Die if it ran for seven minutes.  They have an interesting premise, three mediocre jokes, and an hour and a half of garbage.  There are times when it’s offensive and that’s awful, but also there are interminable stretches when it’s just unbelievably boring.  I felt like Sausage Party was holding me hostage in the theater until they had a chance to spit out every terrible idea they had, culminating in the orgy sequence that felt more like a desperate attempt to seem edgy than to blow off any narrative or comedic steam.

#1: Norm of the North – I have never seen a movie in the theaters as bad as Norm of the North.  Honestly, that might be giving it too much credit as it certainly has to be in the conversation with cult classics of terrible cinema like The Room and Troll 2 when we discuss the worst movies ever made.  It’s an incomprehensible film that changes narrative focus randomly and without justification and seems to just be hoping we don’t notice.  There isn’t a single joke that hit with me.  The character design and animation are so bad that I have to believe that dozens of student films this year looked better.  I’m angry that someone paid for Norm of the North to get made while so many talented people must be struggling to get by in the animation industry.  It’s offensive that this exists in the same medium as Frozen or Zootopia or even ShrekNorm of the North is the worst of the animation industry, the film industry, and the worst piece of entertainment I’ve ever seen marketed to children.

Molly Jackson: Editing Strength!

 

batman-v-superman-ultimate-edition-31

I’ve beaten back the technological revolt happening in my apartment! It’s a time for celebration and joy. So two days ago, I saw the Batman Vs. Superman Ultimate Edition at a special event in theaters. On purpose. Seriously.

Batman v Superman BRI purposefully dragged my fellow ComicMix columnist Joe Corallo because I couldn’t suffer through it a second time alone. For the record, he agreed to go and then was confused as to why he agreed. Also, I purposefully did not tell Mike, our fearless editor, that we were doing this since he tried to talk us out of seeing it the first go-around. (I only wish I could see his face when he reads this.)

A little backstory, I hated it the first time. I remember stumbling out of the theater wondering how the studio executives could have let that happen. How? Why?! Still, for reasons unbeknownst to me, I wanted to see it again. Perhaps to reconcile the movie in my mind.

I feel obligated to say spoiler alert. So hey, if you keep reading, you may be spoiled on the Ultimate Edition. Just sayin’.

After the first time around, I remember thinking that script and direction were the biggest issues with the film. That hasn’t changed much but I did discover a bigger issue was editing the film. The first release cut out parts that made the film coherent. Whole explanations were removed, which contributed to a lot of the complaints. You don’t have to guess as much at the characters’ motivations or decision making. Some, but not all, plot holes are closed and the scene transitions are better for it.

About those critical scenes. There was a naked Bruce taking a shower. There were a few scenes showing Clark investigating Batman and his actions against the people of Gotham. He talked with mom and Bruce had a really nice extra few lines with Alfred (who also chops wood, because…). Those really helped flesh out small parts of the film, adding connections to disjointed scenes. Now, from what I remembered from the original release, it appeared that the most significant extra (a.k.a. deleted) scenes were female-led storylines.

I wish I was surprised, but I’m not. Why should companies focus on Lois Lane being a fearless investigator when Batman can have an extra-long fight scene with a truck? She spends a whole story arc to find the pathway to Lex’s maneuverings. We watch Lois push back against Perry White and Clark Kent in her desire to find the truth. She works with lab tech Jenet Klyburn (as played by Jena Malone in her unreleased role) to realize the metal bullet is experimental. She investigates the suicide bomber’s apartment, only to realize that he wasn’t planning on killing himself. And then she connects the pieces when she finds out from Jenet that the wheelchair was lined with lead. Look at the plot holes cleaned up with one paragraph.

The other storyline covered up was lead by Kahira Ziri, played by Wunmi Mosaku. Do you remember the woman who testified against Superman in the beginning of the film? She actually carries a storyline that humanizes Clark more while dehumizing Lex and still shows her finding her strength. She reveals to Holly Hunter’s Senator Finch that she was being threatened by Lex to denounce Superman. In the meantime, Clark tries to search her out and instead gets pointed towards the misdeeds of Batman. It added a crucial human connection to his story while showing a woman stand against corruption. All of this was cut, despite adding a compelling connection to multiple characters and storylines.

Upon seeing the Ultimate Edition, I realized that women were used to tie the story together completely but when it came down to a coherent story or a big fight scene, action won. And in a movie with two male leads, they will take center stage. Still, when your entire story movement hinges on women, maybe they should actually be included.

DC is trying with diversity, I won’t deny that. But for every male superhero, there is a traditional support system in place. For Batman, it’s Alfred. For Superman, it’s Lois Lane. But just like Alfred, Lois is a strong character independent of the hero. She has proven herself in the comics time and again, as a woman who doesn’t rely on a man to carry from place to place. Lois, as a realistic hero of the people, is a role model for girls and women everywhere. Sadly, she will never get her own solo film, so her chance to shine is in these films. Superman deserves a strong partner who can fight in her own way, not just at his side but on her own.
After seeing this, I still am not a fan of Batman v Superman. However, the extra scenes took the trainwreck of random scenes and made it a coherent, if not bad, story. With every successful superhero film, it works because the support characters are given the chance to develop and grow. Their story only serves to make the hero, and the film as a whole a triumph. Regulating the women to the DVD extras makes the story weak and the superhero star suffer because of it.

Joe Corallo: Isn’t It Midnight?

Letsallgotothelobby

This past Thursday I went with my columnist of choice, Molly, to take in all that Captain America: Civil War had to offer. There were thrills, chills, and carefully crafted and choreographed spills. Molly and I also went and saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice the day they came out. Well, technically those were all the day before they came out. The official release dates for all those movies was the Friday of the week. So how come they were in theaters the day before?

Because we don’t have midnight movie premieres anymore.

Personally, I think that sucks. For years, going to a midnight release was exciting for me. Sure, it often led to a miserable Friday at work, but it was worth it. Waiting on a line with lots of fans, the chatting with strangers about the shared love of Star Wars, Batman, Lord of the Rings, or any number of other movie franchises deemed worthy enough by the studios to share with the masses just a little early. Being looked at as a fountain of knowledge by your family, friends and coworkers who want to see the movie in question over the opening weekend, but not at midnight because they let silly things like their lives, obligations and work ethic get in the way. Yeah, let’s see where that gets them.

One of the first midnight releases I had the chance to go see was Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. It was a great experience waiting outside on a thankfully nice night and chatting with friends about the movie for a couple of hours (you have to get there early if you want a good seat, after all). People decked out in Star Wars shirts and other paraphernalia, wielding lightsabers, with some even in full out cosplay. It was like being at a mini comic con. And luckily for us it wasn’t the worst Star wars movie, which we all know is Star Wars: Attack of the Clones.

Now that I think about it, my first may have been Spider-Man 2. Fellow columnist Art Tebbel made it a point that we go to a theater in Manhattan that had a professional Spider-Man on hand. I’m pretty sure we sat in the balcony section too. And it turned out that was the best Spider-Man film to date so we lucked out.

I didn’t think of this until I already started writing this week’s column, but I should also encourage all of you reading this to please check out Art Tebbel’s reviews here at ComicMix, Box Office Democracy. He spent two years going to the theater to watch the highest grossing film every week, even if it was the same movie for weeks on end. Art did this and somehow still enjoys movies and has some respect for humanity. And as someone who Art once made stop everything he was doing to go see Anchorman with him because it was that good, I can’t recommend him enough.

So why don’t movie distributors want me to have fun anymore? There are a few reasons why. One of which was the mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado during the midnight premiere of Dark Knight Rises which was in fact the last midnight premiere I had seen. During the early days after this shooting it was often cited as the main reason and linked to security concerns. However, we have now had so many mass shootings since then that it’s more or less been forgotten, but that’s a sad story for another time.

And as for security, I’ve yet to be patted down or go through a metal detector at theaters in midtown Manhattan, so I would find the security reasoning hard to believe. Hell, I’ve successfully snuck in candy and soda into the theater with a 100% success rate since the Aurora mass shooting.

The more likely answer follows Occam’s razor, which is to say money. Yup, you read that right. Shocking, I know. While the studios may like the photo ops, press hits and extra cash a midnight release can bring in, the cost of operations falls on the theaters themselves. Paying for staff to not only stay open later, but to have even more staff on hand for crowd management is a lot.

And over the years more and more movies were falling into the category of midnight premiere fodder, just adding more and more to the cost of operations. What started midnight releases big time in the mainstream with movies like Star Wars: The Phantom Menace trickled down to even the Bourne franchise and when is the last time you encountered a diehard Bourne fan that you could equate to a diehard Star Wars fan in terms of knowledge, dedication, and passion to fandom? Okay, maybe the Fast and Furious franchise you could, but that’s why I didn’t use that as an example before.

It’s natural that movie theaters would want to roll back on this, and plenty of movie theaters still offer midnight B-movie screenings at least in big cities. That’s how I recently met Matt Hannon of Samurai Cop fame as he went out and toured the sequel the end of last year.

And despite what we keep hearing about Hollywood blockbuster after Hollywood blockbuster breaking records every year, particularly comic book movies, Hollywood is an erratic place revenue wise. While 2015 had an impressive cash haul, 2014 did not. Prior to that, 2011 was a bad year for Hollywood, seeing a half a billion dollar drop in domestic ticket sales despite higher prices. Those were the numbers the industry had going into Dark Knight Rises in 2012, so the idea of this being more about profits by screening movies earlier on Thursdays, where more average movie goers will come out and the theaters themselves don’t necessarily have to staff up and keep staff out later, rather than it being related to people’s safety seems to make the most sense.

But hey, that kind of logic works for the gun industry, so why can’t it work for Hollywood?

Box Office Democracy: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

It’s easy to kick a studio while they’re down, and a little of that seems to be happening with the reactions to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Warner Bros. has struggled mightily in bringing their heroes to the screen in recent years (recent decades if we don’t count Christopher Nolan’s work) and there’s an attempt to pile on. If Batman v Superman were a Marvel Studios film I suspect it would be getting more positive coverage as people dug to find the good things and used them to redeem the things that don’t work; instead people are endlessly picking at the numerous mistakes. Don’t get confused, Batman v Superman is an awful movie and Zack Snyder should be stopped at all costs but in the hands of literally any other director I could believe there was a salvageable property here and there’s time to right this ship.

Superman as depicted in Batman v Superman isn’t fun to watch, nor does he feel faithful to the character. I’ll be honest: I stopped reading comics on a weekly basis in the winter of 2012 and I haven’t been keeping up since then, so maybe Superman has become an extremely violent, petulant baby in that time— but I sort of doubt it. The Superman in this film is terrifying to consider. He’s quick to anger and never particularly nice to anyone that isn’t Lois Lane; more like Miracleman than Superman. The only never ending battle on display in this film is the one Warner Bros. fights for Superman to appear cool, but they’ve succeeded in creating a character that would only seem cool to an edgy teenager or the 90s comics industry. I don’t know if I’m supposed to be rooting for Batman or Superman when they come to blows, but I’m almost certainly not supposed to be thinking Lex Luthor is right about everything— and yet that’s just where I was for 80% of this movie.

The non-Superman characters were mostly pretty good. Ben Affleck should release a video where he makes it very clear he’s addressing all the people who doubted he could be a credible Batman, drop the mic, and then walk away. He’s a great Batman; I’m ready to put him in the upper echelon with Bale and Keaton (and Kilmer but let’s not get sidetracked) after seeing this movie. He’s believable physically, and he captures that kind of arrogant paranoia that I think Batman should embody. The scenes with Wonder Woman in costume are a giddy rush, and they represent her so well in the fight scenes without any clunky exposition or holding anybody’s hand. We all know who Wonder Woman is, we’ve been alive in the world. The scenes before she puts on the costume are less good; they kind of play her like an off-brand Selina Kyle, but they might have been going for an air of mystery and were betrayed by the PR team. Jesse Eisenberg has the most off-beat take of any established character, and while there isn’t a strong comic book foundation to what he’s doing, it does feel like what a billionaire megalomaniacal industrialist would look like in the modern start-up culture and he’s so unsettlingly creepy that I’m going to give him a pass.

I generally find Zack Snyder’s work to be unappealing visually, and Batman v Superman is no exception. Things are too slick, slow motion is used too much, only a handful of scenes take place in daylight. Gotham City and Metropolis look the same because there’s no room for points of contrast. I suppose Gotham’s abandoned docks are supposed to feel seedy and give the city a dilapidated edge but Metropolis has a crashed alien ship taking up a huge part of their downtown so there’s no contrast there. The contrast between Superman and Batman should be reflected in every part of their environment and instead everything takes place on the same dreary streets and rooftops.

The common refrain after seeing a movie like this is that it “destroys their childhood” of the viewer, and that’s always nonsense. No one from Warner is going to break down my door and set any of my trade paperbacks on fire or draw a bunch of bloodstains in the margins or anything like that. However, superhero movies are trading on nostalgia. If they can’t get a dyed in the wool DC Comics person like me to feel a connection to this film (and if you go back and read paragraph three of this review I desperately want to feel this connection) then I can’t imagine who does. They’ve made a misanthropic film, an ugly film, and worst of all they made a Zack Snyder film.

Joe Corallo: Moving… Pictures

Suicide Squad movie

First column of the new year. We’re already over 1% through the year. How’s it treating you so far?

Switching gears from last week where I was reflecting on 2015, I’ve been thinking about what we have in store for us in the year to come. Upon pondering what’s awaiting us over the course of the next twelve months, I realized that we may not be moving forward as fast as I was hoping. Particularly when it comes to the movies.

I’m starting with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, as it’s still making money and hasn’t even opened in China yet. This may be considered a minor spoiler, so if you haven’t seen the movie yet and any plot detail revealed may cause you to succumb to an unimaginable rage, then I suggest you skip to the next paragraph. Anyway, the opening scroll of the movie reveals that the major plot point is that our heroes need to find a straight cis white guy, Luke Skywalker, to save them all. Sound familiar? And while the new main characters are a more diverse crew, they’re still not only serving to find previously stated straight cis white guy, but the movie gets hijacked by another straight cis white guy, Han Solo, the moment he comes on screen. Not quite the kind of progress you’d hope to see in a movie that was billed as being diverse.

How about the superhero/geeky movies coming up? Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice is about a couple of straight cis white guys who are up against a straight cis white genius with a straight cis white woman tacked on as an afterthought. That’s not to say it won’t be a good movie or we shouldn’t give it a chance, but that doesn’t change those facts.

DC may be offering us more diversity with Suicide Squad. Will Smith as Deadshot, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Killer Croc, and Viola Davis as Amanda Waller do give me hope that we will be seeing a more diverse cast in a superhero movie, possibly the most diverse yet in the Marvel and DC universes big budget films. However, this could just as easily end up being primarily about The Joker and Harley Quinn. Will Smith did indicate that Deadshot and Joker would both be pursuing Harley Quinn, so Deadshot may have a significant role in the film. However, this may also indicate that we’ll have a straight Harley Quinn as opposed to her bi comic counterpart. Not to mention the heteronormative nature of a love triangle involving two men going after one woman who is only allowed to enjoy one of them intimately.

As for Marvel’s offerings, we’re looking at Captain America: Civil War and Doctor Strange from Disney and Deadpool and X-Men: Apocalypse from Fox. Starting with Captain America, we do have the introduction of Black Panther into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Falcon and War Machine will also have roles in the film, in addition to Black Widow and Scarlet Witch. That being said, the movie is being carried by Captain America, a straight cis white guy, protecting his friend Bucky, a straight cis white guy, primarily from Iron Man, a straight cis white guy. Noticing a pattern?

The Doctor Strange movie, from what we know of the casting and plot synopsis so far, is that it will be about a magical straight cis white guy that needs to stop another magical straight cis white guy.

Deadpool is about a cis white guy, but this one is supposedly pansexual. We’ll see what this ends up meaning. It could be an actual representation of a pansexual character. It could also easily be used to have Deadpool jokingly hit on guys while only having a more realistic interest in women. I’m hopeful, but I’ll believe he’s pansexual in the film when I see it.

X-Men: Apocalypse, while having some diversity in its cast, doesn’t mean it’ll be about diversity. These movies tend to revolve around Xavier and Magneto, two straight cis white guys. Cyclops and Jean have been recast and brought back into the fold of the X-Men movie franchise. A straight cis white heteronormative relationship is just what the X-Men franchise needs! It’s not like Storm could have ever had an interesting relationship in the comics that could translate to film. To be clear, she has, and I was being sarcastic. Also, casting Oscar Isaac, a Hispanic actor, to play the Egyptian villain Apocalypse is a bit troubling too.

As I was saying earlier, none of this means that these movies will be bad. This may very well be the best slew of superhero movies yet. However, they are lacking quite a bit in the diversity department. Having slightly more diversity in the cast of a movie while still having straight cis white guys moving the plot forward and taking up the majority of the screen time is really missing the point.

The point being that we need to be exposing ourselves to people of different backgrounds, points of views, and people who have had radically different life experiences than we commonly see depicted in media. We don’t get that by having them walk on screen or onto the pages of a comic. We get that by having them be an integral part of the plot, or better yet, the focus of the plot. A radical concept, I know.

The comics and the TV series are doing a bit of a better job this year. Shows like Supergirl and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., comics like Midnighter, the new Black Panther series written by Ta-Nehisi Coates starting this year, Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, and many other examples exist that show that we’re continuing to make some progress in both of those mediums. That said, out of the 11 oversized 50th issues DC has coming out in a couple of months, eight of them star straight cis white guys, two of them star straight cis white women, and one stars a bisexual white woman.

The movies really do need to step up their game in the diversity department. It may be too late for 2016 already. We do at least have the Wonder Woman movie coming out next year. Let’s hope for better luck in 2017.