Tagged: David S. Goyer

Emily S. Whitten: Krypton – Exploring the Unknown

I’ve been a fan of Superman since I was a wee lass – ever since watching that first Christopher Reeve Superman movie on TV. While the X-Men are relatable and Batman is cool and Deadpool is dark yet hilarious, Superman remains the ideal – the symbol of hope and the hero we should all strive to be.

I haven’t watched or read every shred of Superman that’s ever been produced, but I have consumed quite a lot of it; and even when I consider a particular portrayal to be an utter failure to embody Superman (hello, Man of Steel!!), I’m always willing to give the next iteration a chance. I mean, hey – how can you call yourself a Superman fan if you don’t have hope?

But with all the Superman that’s out there, there’s one part of the lore we hear about but still don’t generally see much of – a place that’s almost as much of a mystery to Clark Kent as it is to us. It’s the place of his birth – Krypton. Since a foundation point of the Superman mythos is that it was destroyed as he flew away from Krypton as the last survivor, it makes sense that we don’t often get to experience it in depth. Sure, we’ve seen flashbacks, and alternate universe versions, and the bottle city of Kandor; but we haven’t really lived and breathed Krypton.

The planet and culture have always fascinated me – when creators do approach or reference it, its laws and customs are often portrayed as stern and unyielding, despite its supposed advances in being civilized (and in the sciences particularly). As a lawyer and political theorist, I’m always interested in how societies are structured – and the success or failure of said structures. Not to mention it’s just plain cool to see a fully envisioned alien culture. I do sometimes feel that no one has quite done it justice yet; which isn’t surprising, since Clark Kent and Superman, not Krypton, are by default the focus of Superman stories.

For all the faults I found with Man of Steel (and I mean alllllll the faults. So many faults. Let me count the faults.) one thing I did like in that movie was the glimpse we got of that movie’s vision of Krypton. So I’m definitely interested in another modern take on the planet.

The upcoming Krypton show, which is coming to SyFy in 2018, aims to give us just that. It does have a serious challenge to overcome – giving us a version of Krypton and its inhabitants that both fits with why fans like Superman and also invests us in the fate of the pre-Superman alien culture and family. Given all the times Clark Kent’s human upbringing have been contrasted with the Kryptonian way of doing things, that may be a difficult bridge to cross – but I am more than willing to start that journey with the cast and crew and see where it goes.

Although SDCC saw the very first reveals about the show and thus there were some things we couldn’t yet discuss, I had a great chat with series star Cameron Cuffe (Seyg-El) and Executive Producers Damian Kindler and Cameron Welsh.

They shared what their vision for this (old) new world is like, what characters we’ll be seeing, and how they approach the House of El.

And happily, I can share that with you too.

Check out the interviews below for more Krypton details. And as always, until next time, Servo Lectio!

Interview with Executive Producer Damian Kindler

Interview with Executive Producer Cameron Welsh

Interview with Cameron Cuffe (Seyg-El)


Emily S. Whitten’s Grand San Diego Adventure – Constantine

 (Editor’s Note: Remember that long stretch when Emily was busy having a life? Well, now she’s making up for it. For the next li’l bit, we’ll be running BRAND-NEW Emily S. Whitten columns on Tuesday mornings – AND on Saturday afternoons! No kiddin’!)

The last time anyone really adapted the material of Hellblazer and main character John Constantine, occult detective, for the screen was 2005’s film Constantine, which got mixed reviews, although I personally thought it was pretty decent. After rumors of other adaptations to come throughout the years, on October 24 on NBC we will finally be seeing another screen vision of John Constantine come to life, and I can’t wait!

At SDCC I got to talk to the new show’s executive producers and cast, and they had some fun and interesting things to share. Check it out!

Click here to hear Executive Producers Daniel Cerone and David S. Goyer address the potential portrayal of Constantine’s bisexuality in the show, and the comic book storylines they’re looking forward to bring to life.

Click here to see actor Matt Ryan (John Constantine), discuss getting familiar with the character, adapting Constantine’s accent, and what he wants to bring in from the comics for the show.

Click here to watch actor Harold Perrineau (Manny) talk about what comic book character he’d dress as for SDCC and what his character (newly created for the TV show) is going to be up to.

Click here to see actress Angélica Celaya (Zed) share a bit about her character, her introduction to the comics, and Zed’s interactions with Constantine.

And click here to hear Charles Halford (Chas Chandler) talk about his character’s relationship with Constantine and role in the supernatural part of things, and his desire to honor the comics and the fans’ expectations as he prepared for his role.

And then click here to watch the trailer for Constantine…

… and until Saturday, Servo Lectio!


John Ostrander: Reading With the Enemy

Comics Code Authority SealThis week it was writer Chuck Dixon and artist Paul Rivoche ruffling feathers. Together they wrote an article in the Wall Street Journal entitled “How Liberalism Became Kryptonite for Superman.” The WSJ is a conservative publication and both Chuck and Paul are conservative members of the comics community.

The title of the article sums up the tone of the article pretty well. The article states “Our fear is that today’s young comic-book readers are being ill-served by a medium that often presents heroes as morally compromised or no different from the criminals they battle. With the rise of moral relativism, ‘truth, justice and the American way’ have lost their meaning.” They cite how in a single issue of Action Comics published in 2011 Superman gave up his American citizenship. (Interestingly enough, this story was written by David S. Goyer who would later write the screenplay for Man of Steel and is writing the Batmanv Superman movie and the upcoming Justice League movie. I’ve talked about Mr. Goyer before.) Chuck and Paul bemoan “That issue, published in April 2011, is perhaps the most dramatic example of modern comics’ descent into political correctness, moral ambiguity and leftist ideology.”

I guess that means me. Suicide Squad was nothing if not an exercise in moral ambiguity. I think you could say most of my work lives there. I’m certainly left on the political spectrum. “Political correctness?” I think that depends on how you define it but I could probably be accused of that as well, especially from the right. So I guess my work is dead center with what Chuck and Paul regard as wrong with the comics industry.

I have some problems with their selection of facts and their interpretation of those facts. For instance, they say “Superman, as he first appeared in early comics and later on radio and TV, was not only ‘able to leap tall buildings in a single bound,’ he was also good, just and wonderfully American.” Might I suggest they go back and read those earliest tales. Superman takes on crooked politicians and even the U.S. Army. He was a renegade and an outlaw. The earliest Batman carried a gun. I suppose that makes him wonderfully American, too. The heroes changed with the advent of World War II and became part of the war effort.

Superhero comics nearly died out in the 50s. Chuck and Paul state: “In the 1950s, the great publishers, including DC and what later become Marvel, created the Comics Code Authority, a guild regulator that issued rules such as: ‘Crimes shall never be presented in such a way as to create sympathy for the criminal.’ The idea behind the CCA, which had a stamp of approval on the cover of all comics, was to protect the industry’s main audience – kids – from story lines that might glorify violent crime, drug use or other illicit behavior.”

The CCA was created to circumvent government censorship that was threatened following Dr. Frederick Wertham’s book Seduction of the Innocent, which alleged that comics were a corruptive influence on children. He said Superman, who in this era – when he was quintessentially “good, just and wonderfully American” – was both un-American and a fascist. Wertham’s work also was later discredited. There followed hearings by the Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency, first led by New Jersey Republican Senator Robert Hendrickson and later by committee member / anti-crime crusader / presidential candidate Estes Kefauver and that scared the Big Comics publishers and that created the CCA. The publishers didn’t do it out of any moral conviction.

The CCA was a stranglehold on creativity and guaranteed it would infantilize the comics industry for decades. It was disbanded when it became irrelevant. Maus, which Chuck and Paulboth justly praise, would never have passed the Code.

The thing is – Chuck and Paul should know all this. They’re either being disingenuous or dishonest.

However, what bothers me more is the reaction of some ostensibly liberal members of the comics industry, who have announced that they will never again read anything by these two men because of this article. To my mind, the work exists independently of the creator. Chuck and Paul have done fine work over the years and I suspect will do so again. Not all of it will appeal to me, I’m sure, but that’s true for everyone’s work. Are there exceptions to this? I think so – if someone is doing a piece that is primarily propaganda, I would avoid it. If that’s a habitual thing with a creator, I might avoid him or her … like I avoid Rush Limbaugh.

If, however, it’s simply a different point of view then, no, I don’t and I shouldn’t avoid them. Even if I don’t agree with that point of view, I should hear it, find out what I can learn from it. Or – maybe – I’ll be entertained. Even if the creator and I do not agree politically.

I regard this as a far more serious problem than two conservatives speaking their collective minds about the comics industry. It is our increasing national inability to countenance anything that does not fall within our own increasingly shrinking moral view that’s the problem. No outside voices to test or shake our faith –whatever that faith may be. We need not only to talk to (instead of at) each other; we need to listen. They may be wrong … but so may we.


John Ostrander: Why Did I Do That – Martian Manhunter

Well, David S. Goyer was busy making friends this week.

If you don’t know the name, Goyer is a big time heavy hitter writer. He’s done some comic books but mostly is known for screenplays, including Man of Steel and the upcoming Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice and the subsequent Justice League film as well as a score of others. This suggests he knows what he’s doing.

His comments this week might suggest differently. On the Scriptnotes podcast (which has now disappeared), he said the She-Hulk “… is the chick that you could f–k if you were Hulk… She-Hulk was the extension of the male power fantasy. So it’s like if I’m going to be this geek who becomes the Hulk then let’s create a giant green porn star that only the Hulk could f–k.”

Stan Lee, who created the She-Hulk, replied: “Only a nut would even think of that.” ‘Nuff said.

Goyer also had some choice words for J’Onn J’onzz, a.k.a. the Martian Manhunter/Manhunter from Mars. Let’s use his words, shaaaaall we?

“How many people in the audience have heard of Martian Manhunter?” Following a healthy smattering of applause, Goyer joked, “How many people that raised their hands have ever been laid?”

Goyer continued: “Well, he can’t be fucking called ‘The Martian Manhunter’ because that’s goofy. He could be called “Manhunter.” … The whole deal with Martian Manhunter is he’s an alien living amongst us, that’s the deal. He came out in the ‘50s, and he had basically all the powers of Superman, except he didn’t like fire, and he could read your mind. So here’s the best part: So he comes down to Earth and decides, unlike Superman who already exists in the world now, that he’s just going to be a homicide detective, and pretend to be a human homicide guy. … So instead of using superpowers and mind-reading and like, “Oh, I could figure out if the President’s lying or whatever,” he just decides to disguise himself as a human homicide detective. Dare to dream.

“I would set it up like The Day After Tomorrow. We discover one of those Earth-like planets… So maybe like… we get the DNA code from that planet and then grow him in a petri dish here… He’s like in Area 51 or something and we’re just basically… doing biopsies on him.”

I have some passing knowledge of the Martian Manhunter, having done (with Tom Mandrake) a series starting back in 1998 so I have a thought or two on this subject. Last week I explained some of my thinking in creating Amanda Waller so this seems a good point to explain some of my thinking on working with J’Onn J’Onzz.

Goyer and I are in small agreement: I also felt that in many ways the Martian Manhunter was a green clone of Superman. He had most of the same powers and, instead of Kryptonite, his weakness was fire. When Tom and I did our series, we wanted to focus on what made him and Superman different. The principal one was that, while born an alien, Kal-El came to earth as an infant and was raised as a human. His values are Midwestern values. J’Onn came to earth as an adult; he was raised in a Martian culture. He’s not American; he is fundamentally alien – a Martian.

Tom and I decided we would investigate and explore Martian culture in our version. He was telepathic; his race was telepathic. What did that mean? What were the societal rules? Rape, for example, would not only be physical; it could be emotional and mental. On the flip side of the coin, sex would involve a melding of minds as well as a melding of bodies. With his race dead, J’Onn would be forever denied that. He could never again experience physical love on so deep a level.

Martians could fly, levitate, and pass through walls; their houses would have no doors or windows or stairs.

J’Onn can turn invisible; we had it that, on arriving on Earth, he saw and experienced how violent and paranoid humans can be. He chose a persona that allowed him to act like a human in order to better understand who and what we were. We had him having several other human identities as well (credit where credit is due: Grant Morrison first brought up that concept).

The idea that he would be grown from a Petri dish is not an uninteresting idea for a character; it’s just not J’Onn J’Onzz. I talked last week about being true to the fundamental aspects of a character and, to my mind, Goyer’s take on the Manhunter from Mars isn’t it. (Sidenote: why is he the Martian Manhunter? Because there are already plenty of other Manhunters in the DCU.)

This might not matter but Goyer is right now the go-to writer for DC cinematic stories. If he has this little fundamental understanding of a mainstay DC character, how much will he have for other DC characters? It’s not that hard to check on what has been done; the Martian Manhunter entry on Wikipedia takes only a few minutes to read and its pretty accurate.

I also don’t understand the underlying contempt not only for J’Onn and the She-Hulk but for readers and fans of the characters. “How many who raised their hands have ever been laid?” Why did Goyer feel the need to get all William Shatner on folks? Why the snark… and sexist snark at that?

Maybe he just doesn’t like the color green. Let’s not ask him what he thinks about Kermit the Frog. I’m not sure I need his observations about Kermit and Miss Piggy.


The Point Radio: The Weather Channel’s New Morning Champion

A morning TV show with news, sports and pop culture – on The Weather Channel? This week the network launched AMHQ and host Sam Champion tells us us what to expect in a different type of wake up show. Plus the Doctor Who family gets a new player and a deep freeze in comic store sales in February.

THE POINT covers it 24/7! Take us ANYWHERE on ANY mobile device (Apple or Android). Just  get the free app, iNet Radio in The  iTunes App store – and it’s FREE!  The Point Radio  – 24 hours a day of pop culture fun. GO HERE and LISTEN FREE  – and follow us on Twitter @ThePointRadio.

The Point Radio: DaVINCI’S DEMONS Back For More

In a few days, Starz will premiere the second season of their original series, DaVINCI’S DEMONS. Stars Laura Haddock and Tom Riley give us a preview of what’s coming up on the show, plus bad news for the Big Two in the bookstore and some very cool TWILIGHT ZONE toys are headed to your shelf.

THE POINT covers it 24/7! Take us ANYWHERE on ANY mobile device (Apple or Android). Just  get the free app, iNet Radio in The  iTunes App store – and it’s FREE!  The Point Radio  – 24 hours a day of pop culture fun. GO HERE and LISTEN FREE  – and follow us on Twitter @ThePointRadio.

John Ostrander: Man of Steel, Man of the Hour

Ostrander Art 130721The new Superman movie has been out for some time now and most folks who want to see it probably have and those who want to comment on it probably have. I shied away from Man of Steel as a topic simply because everyone has had their opinion but the questions I want to pose here are at somewhat an odd angle. If you know me, you’re not surprised. Still, there will be spoilers so, if you haven’t seen the film and don’t want to be spoiled, avoid the rest of the column.

I’ve written here and there that the character of Superman needs to be re-examined and re-invented every so often if it is to remain relevant to it time. I think I read the director (Zack Snyder) and/or its writer (David S. Goyer) and/or its producer (Christopher Nolan) say something to the effect that this was their intention. This wasn’t going to be a “comic book” Superman but examine him as if the character was new. Actually, I’m fine with that as an idea. I think any version of Superman still needs to be recognizable as Superman. I would have preferred they kept the red trunks but that’s not necessary to be true to the character.

If Superman is being invented for this time, what does this version of the Man of Steel say about our time?

It is, by design, a dark film. Superman’s costume itself runs dark – the blue could almost be black, the red “S” in his chest shield is more of a crimson. Not only does Superman not have red trunks, there is nothing yellow or gold in the costume. Nothing bright. And yet Superman claims that the sigil on his chest actually means “hope” in Kryptonian. Is this a hopeful film?

Pa Kent, as played by Kevin Costner, is morally ambivalent. He’s afraid that if normal humans know what Clark can do, they’ll reject him. When a young Clark saves a bus full of fellow students from drowning after the bus goes off a bridge, Pa Kent reprimands Clark who asks, “Was I just supposed to let them die?” Pa Kent’s reply is “Maybe.”

Pa later dies, not of a heart attack, but in a twister. Clark could have saved him but that would have meant revealing his true nature. Pa silently and sternly forbids it. And dies. The difference from previous versions is that then Pa dies of a heart attack; there’s nothing Clark could have done. In the Richard Donner film he says, “I have all this power and I couldn’t save him.” In Man of Steel, Clark could have and didn’t. I think that’s significant. The Donner version brings out the humanity in the superhuman and shows his limitations. In MoS, the fact that Clark obeys his father and lets him die when he could have saved him says to me that he has accepted his father’s paranoia. Ultimately, Jonathan Kent is wrong; Superman is accepted by humans, but only after killing a fellow Kryptonian.

That’s perhaps the most controversial element of the new movie. Superman winds up killing General Zod. Snaps his neck. Zod had said he wouldn’t stop killing humans and was in fact about to incinerate a small group of them with his heat vision. Superman begs him to stop but he won’t. So Kal-El kills Zod.

Are we supposed to view this as a no-win situation, to say Superman had no other choice? Does that make it acceptable? Superman immediately feels horrible but was there really no other way? Are meant to agree, to empathize, in this era of “acceptable collateral damage”? Or should Superman be better than that? He was in the past; does this make Superman more realistic? Is that what we want? Is that what we need? Is that who we are?

I was talking recently with Mary’s friend Sherry (a lovely person) and her ten year old grandson, Gavin Simpson. He had seen Man of Steel and I was curious about his reaction; ten years old is the prime time for becoming a Superman fan.

Gavin has seen the other Superman films and knows about the comics but this would be his Superman – the one he sees on the big screen when it first comes out. He liked it but he didn’t love it; he said that the fight scenes at the end went on too long (I agree). He also felt that Henry Cavill, the guy playing Kal-El, didn’t project enough of Superman’s essential goodness. That’s an interesting point.

Most tellingly, when I asked Gavin about Superman killing Zod, he didn’t care for it. When I asked him why, he was clear and firm: “Superheroes don’t kill.”

These days, evidently they do, including the first, brightest, and the most iconic. It makes everything more realistic. It makes Man of Steel the Superman for our time, according to those who made the film.

Does it?




Dennis O’Neil: Super-Success

O'Neil Art 130620Look, up in the sky! It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s…

Superman, crossing his eyes, thumbing his nose and sticking out his tongue. He’s directing his scorn toward all the nay-sayers who predicted a cool reception for The Man of Steel. The picture officially opened Friday morning and by Friday afternoon one web news site was describing it as “disappointing.” Disappointing, maybe, to Marvel Comics execs, but most of the rest of us thought it was pretty darn okay. The reviews were mixed, but the theater exit polls gave it an A minus and it ended up reaping enough profit to be the biggest June movie opening ever.

I think it deserves its success. The director, Zack Snyder, and the writer, David Goyer, did exactly what they had to do, and what previous film makers failed to do – reinvent an elderly icon for a contemporary audience. Way back in 1959, editor Julius Schwartz, did that for the comics and now Snyder, Goyer, and their posse, along with a few other creative teams, have done it for the multiplex.

I won’t go into particulars here… Okay, one particular: the villain. He was played by Michael Shannon, our best filmic heavy, both in movies and on television, and he didn’t think of himself as an evil doer. On the contrary: he considered himself to be a savior whose actions were done “for the greater good.” Something familiar about that? In what I’ll hesitantly refer to as real life, those who perpetrate war and genocide and wholesale slaughter always do it for a cause, often religious nor nationalistic, they believe to be vital and benevolent. They’re the heroes and their opposition is villainy and the poor simpletons who are crushed along the way are necessary sacrifices or, as the current terminology has it, collateral damage. Fanatics, these “heroes,” who believe that they could not possibly be wrong. Michael Shannon’s General Zod can stand as their avatar.

Time was when characters in superhero stories were occasionally referred to as “supervillains” and I don’t recall them denying the eponym. In fact, some of them belonged to a kind of miscreants club, pretty much limited to folk who dressed in odd costumes, that called itself “The Secret Society of Super Villains.” The comic book of that title was published by DC in the mid-seventies and collected in a hardcover anthology. The stories were written by Gerry Conway, one of the medium’s major talents, and were fine for their era, when comics were in their adolescence, unsure of what, exactly, they should be and still in thrall to the notion that they weren’t…respectable. Or serious. Or art or… something. Many of the baddies seem to exist only to give the goodies somebody to beat. Now, in both comics and their lumbering descendants, the flicks, writers are willing and able to acknowledge and dramatize the world’s real evil, which can be tragic.

Consider The Man of Steel a parable for our times. An entertaining one.

FRIDAY: Martha Thomases

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman


The Point Radio: Can ABC Give Us HAPPY ENDINGS?



ABC’s HAPPY ENDINGS has always been the “little show that could”. Surviving a first season cancellation, and now ending a third with an uncertain future. We talk to stars Elisha Cuthbert and Eliza Coupe about how things are on the set – with two new episodes airing tonight (8pm ET) on ABC. Plus more on the unorthodox methods of the guys on DEEP SPACE PARANORMAL, and can it be true? HEROES coming back to TV?

Take us ANYWHERE! The Point Radio App is now in the iTunes App store – and it’s FREE! Just search under “pop culture The Point”. The Point Radio  – 24 hours a day of pop culture fun for FREE. GO HERE and LISTEN FREE on any computer or on any other  mobile device with the Tune In Radio app – and follow us on Twitter @ThePointRadio.