By now, everyone has heard (or should have heard) about the sexual depredations of film producer Harvey Weinstein (and James Toback, Kevin Spacey and others of their ilk). This follows revelations of the sexual depredations of Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly (seriously, what can you do that commands a $32 million settlement?). And everyone in all the other walks of life who have been playing predator.
The constant refrain that has been heard is that this kind of stuff has been going on out in Hollywood since there has been a Hollywood. Among the reasons that there have been so few direct accusations is that all the predators have been powerful men who could really exact retribution. And the fact that the women speaking out would be shamed, discounted, and not believed. And they would literally never work in that town again.
That’s changed. Women are coming out in droves, speaking up, making themselves heard. Makes no mistake – Weinstein, Ailes, and O’Reilly were extremely powerful individuals. The women have spoken up anyway and it’s the men who have, justifiably, suffered.
Why now? What makes this era different than eras in the past?
There are a lot of different reasons and possibilities but I would like to offer one that, at least in part, contributes. That is our own “pop culture.”
We have seen recently the rise of the strong woman hero or lead. Witness two Star Wars movies, both Episode 7 and the stand alone, Rogue One. Episode 7 not only centered around Rey but Princess Leia is now General Leia, a full and equal commander of the Resistance. And, behind the scenes, you have Kathleen Kennedy, who is head honcho of the whole Lucasfilm legacy.
Rogue One centers on Jyn Erso, the daughter of one of the principal designers of the Death Star and the main person responsible for obtaining the plans to the battle station that will enable the good guys to destroy it and save the galaxy.
And we have also had this year an amazing Wonder Woman, not only played to perfection by Gal Gadot but directed by Patty Jenkins. lt’s unheard that a woman would get the opportunity to helm such a big ticket film and Ms. Jenkins really delivered. Thank Hera both are returning for the sequel!
It extends these days to TV as well with Supergirl who not only gives us a Maid of Steel who may be stronger than her cousin, the Man of Steel, but shows women in so many different roles, including a very strong and positive lesbian couple.
I’m not forgetting Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games movies or Ripley in the Alien movies, or Hermione in the Harry Potter films or Buffy, the redoubtable Vampire Slayer and many others.
My point is this: seeing positive and strong heroes who look like you is important and they need to be seen on a regular basis. Will and Grace had gay characters in it and, because of the show’s popularity, they are invited into peoples’ living rooms every week. It normalizes meeting LGBTQ folk for straight people who may never have knowingly met one.
In the same way, movies and shows such as Wonder Woman or Star Wars or Supergirl gives us the image of women heroes who are strong, brave, resourceful and are examples to other women and to men as well. You need to see what you want to be, something the black community knows very well.
I’m not claiming that the pop culture examples I’ve given are the main reason that women now are speaking up against the Weinsteins of this world. However, I think they are a contributing factor. No single film or TV show alone but all taken together they contribute to the change. Make no mistake; “pop culture” is a potent force in our society. It entertains and bypasses our brain to reach the heart – and that’s where real change comes from.
So all hail, Princess Diana! For the second week in a row, she has conquered the all mighty Box Office!
You commerce-and-finance majors might consider declaring a holiday. Liberal arts dweebs like me will be satisfied with being grateful for a genuinely satisfying movie-going experience.
There’s a lot to be said for the film and no doubt a lot of it is already being said, with, again no doubt, more to come. It’s the kind of flick that prompts après theater discussion, which is kind of rare these days, especially among those of us who have logged a load of birthdays. We were so happy with the afternoon’s entertainment that we didn’t mind not remembering where we left the car.
I’d like to focus on only one aspect of it and maybe get in some opinions about superhero movies in general. And it affords a chance to blather about something that’s been bothering me for years.
Somewhere in the mists, when I was first creeping into the writing dodge, someone must have told me about the storytelling virtues of clarity. In order for the story, whether you’re experiencing it on a page or on a screen or by hearing it on a recording device, to be fully effective you must know what’s going on: who’s doing what to whom and if we’re pushing our luck, why. Where are the characters? How did they get there? Where are they in relation to one another? How did they get whatever props they’re using? How did they get the information they’re acting on?
I’m particularly annoyed at lame fights. Surely, way out west, the movie crowd is aware that there’s entertainment value in well-choreographed kickass. If there’s any doubt, let them unspool some Jackie Chan or Bruce Lee, the patron saint of cinematic brawling. Many modern action movies – or maybe most of them – render action in quick cuts, blurs, blaring sound effects. Not my idea of amusement, at least not in mega-doses.
Back to Wonder Woman (and maybe we can, please, have an end to complaining?) None of what I’ve bitched about applies to WW. While in the darkness, I never found myself wondering what was happening on the screen. This, the director was kind enough to show me and thus allow me to relax into her work.
A word about the lead actress Gal Gadot: she’s extraordinarily beautiful (duh!), but her face is not only gorgeous, it is expressive – it seemed to change from shot to shot. And that quality is a blessing for a performer.
So, yeah, all hail to Wonder Woman, I don’t expect to see a better movie this year.
Well, everybody else here is talking about Wonder Woman, so I guess it’s my turn. Caution: there may be S-P-O-I-L-E-R-S ahead! (Especially my sixth bullet, below.)
It’s been said before, and I’ll say it again. Gal Gadot is to WW as Christopher Reeve was to Superman. Her portrayal of the Amazon leaves an indelible print upon the character; it’s as if Zeus did indeed exhale, not upon a figure of clay, but upon a two-dimensional comic book form drawn of pen and ink, allowing her to step off the flat page and into the three-dimensional world, granting her life and all the depth and breadth of humanity.
Chris Pine’s Steve Trevor is not some ineffectual weenie who somehow got through basic training, nor is he some steroid-enhanced muscle-bound moose. Nor is he the male version of a 1950s Lois Lane, mooning after love. Nor is he the callous male hunk in love with his own reflection. And though he opens Diana’s eyes to what is going on “out in the world,” his piercing blue eyes are not the reason she leaves Paradise Island.
Etta Candy got short shrift, but it’s clear that she’s not some Woo-Wooing sidekick. Yes, she’s a secretary, but she’s no slave; secretaries do get paid, y’know. To even be a working woman in 1918 was pretty daring, and to work in military intelligence means that she’s no slouch when it comes ability. World War I was the start of a new social order in England, as those of you who watched Downton Abbey know, and I’m pretty sure Etta votes Labor and has marched for woman’s suffrage.
I loved the portrayal of Themiscrya. Of course I immediately thought of George (Pérez) as I looked upon the architecture and facades of the city; and I also thought of my own work and remembered how, as I wrote, I would picture Diana’s home in my head. (I also thought of Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Mists of Avalon, another book that also features a mystical island of women.) But it wasn’t just George or my own work or Bradley’s; it was also a callback to my childhood, when I would look at the clouds piling up on the horizon as the sun set, and see castles and waterfalls and NeverNever Land and magic.
The battle against Ares: eh. Not so much. Almost anti-climatic in my book. The battle of the Amazons against the Germans invading Themiscrya? Yes! Yes! Yes!
Diana’s realization that killing Ares did not stop the war, did not stop the violence and destruction was like watching a child who is told numerous times to stay away from the oven because it’s hot, but still reaches out when Mommy’s not looking to touch it, and…wow, it hurts! I guess, sometimes, you just have to let the kid learn for herself.
What was with the woman in The Phantom of the Opera mask? No back story, nothing. Who was she? We understand why the Queen gives the poison apple to Snow White; we get why Maleficent put the curse on Sleeping Beauty. I thought that perhaps she was an Amazon who had left Themiscrya because she was “bored now,” or something; but nope. Nada. Unless she shows up in some future sequel – maybe she’s Circe?
Referencing Mike Gold’s columnof July 7: Are you fucking kidding me? Fox News will do and say anything these days as their ratings sink and their Orange Führer sinks even lower.
Gal Gadot is Israeli and Jewish. (There are Israeli Christians and Muslims, y’know.) Apparently this bothers some people:
Washington Post: How the Jewish Identity of ‘Wonder Woman’s’ Star is Causing a Stir
Comicbook.com: There IS a Person of Color in the Lead Role
The (Jewish) Forward: ‘Wonder Woman’ Sparks Debate About Jewish Identity
Slate.com: Why So Many People Care Wonder Woman Is Israeli
Do these people know that Jesus Christ was Jewish? Do they realize that the odds of a Middle Eastern man born approximately 2,017 years ago on being blonde and blue-eyed and white are considerably less than the odds of winning the Powerball lottery?
And, sure, Cleopatra looked like Elizabeth Taylor – who converted to Judaism, by the way. Liz, I mean.
Fucking assholes… Welcome to the Age of Trump, people.
The Wonder Woman of my youth was a fairly ridiculous character, whose adventures included less fighting and more romantic entanglements, not only with Steve Trevor but also a merman and a bird boy. She was no more a feminist icon to me than Supergirl, Betty or Veronica, but then, I was a child and there was no feminist movement at my elementary school in Ohio for me to know.
I still loved her. I wanted to be able to fly by catching a wind current. I wanted to be able to make people tell me the truth, especially if I could tie them up, too. To be honest, I probably also wanted a merman for a boyfriend.
This is a long, roundabout way of saying that while Wonder Woman influenced my feminism (breathing influenced my feminism), she didn’t create it. I did not expect a movie about her, especially one from a major studio, to make much difference to me.
I was wrong.
All over the world, women went to see Wonder Woman and cried. These were tears of relief, of gratitude, that someone had finally put their hopes and fears and experiences onscreen, without the filter of a male gaze. We saw a woman who defined herself by her goals and her purpose, not her dress size or men’s approval.
Was the movie perfect? Of course not. I can pick nits with the best of them. Still, it was the most high-profile, big budget movie to show women doing heroic things that we have not seen women do in other high-profile, big budget movies. The director, Patty Jenkins, knows how women see the world, and what women think is heroic, and filmed accordingly.
I didn’t go to a women-only screening. They sounded like a lot of fun, but they sold out quickly and were not at a convenient time or location for me. Instead, I went to one of the hundreds of other available showings, with a group of friends of differing genders.
Wow, did I have a good time! I loved watching Diana grow up, mischievous and scrappy and eager to be alive. I loved seeing her fish-out-of-water reaction to man’s world, during which we saw both curiosity and determination on her face (and also, well, wonder). Gal Gadot captured more emotion in her face than any other actor in a superhero film, except, possibly, Mark Ruffalo.
Perhaps because I’ve been reading superhero comics with an appreciation for their socio-political subtexts, I did not cry when I saw Diana go into battle. I cheered. The only time I came close to tears was at the end, when a wall of photos of fallen soldiers reminded me of so many similar walls in New York after September 11.
However, as a straight cis white woman, I see more examples of people like myself in popular culture than anyone else besides straight cis white men. I appreciate how people who don’t fit the default assumptions could find themselves overcome by the recognition this film provides.
One way to tell how effective the movie was at reaching its target audience is by the reaction of those who felt threatened by the content. The Alamo Drafthouse, a small theater chain headquartered in Austin, Texas, decided to hold a few women-only screenings, one in each of their six theaters. They had done similar promotions in the past, such as veterans-only screenings and senior-only screenings.
For some reason, no one had any problems with those. But for Wonder Woman, the crybabies came out en masse. The whining from their butthurt was deafening. In my favorite example, one wrote to the mayor of Austin to protest this heinous discrimination. His reply is not only spot-on, but hilarious.
I hope Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot return for the sequel. I hope they find a way to bring back Etta Candy and Antiope. I hope they all go shopping together again. I would watch that movie.
It seems like incredibly faint praise but I should get it out at the beginning: Wonder Woman is the best film of the DC Extended Universe era. That only means that it’s a coherent film with proper pacing and character work that doesn’t feel completely at odds with 80 years of published material. It’s honestly hard to believe that the same studio was working on this gem at the same time they were shoveling Suicide Squad and Batman v Superman out the door. Wonder Woman is a triumph for DC and the kind of shining beacon for the future that I’m sure they will ignore for a grey and smokey Justice League later in the year.
The action beats in Wonder Woman are stellar. The sequence where she ditches her outerwear and uses her sword and shield to come over the top of a bunker and traverse the no man’s land is maybe the best action beat I’ve seen all year. I’ll even give them bonus points for not underlining the potential word play. The training montages on Themyscira are crowded without being cluttered. They gesture to a frenetic martial lifestyle that I would love to see more of in a sequel. The mass action sequences are done so well that it’s a little disappointing to have the final battle be a kind of inscrutable one-on-one fight but that’s how these movies end. I would be in to the superhero movie where things are solved in an institutional manner or with one hero fighting an entire army, but it’s seemingly never been done and this was probably not the time to start.
Gal Gadot is perfect in the role of Diana Prince. She’s so good that it’s easy to forget all the times another actress seemed perfect for the part and DC squandered the opportunity by not making a movie out of this property in the last 25 years. Her facial expressions are on point and she deftly handles the switch from a steely warriors gaze to befuddlement at the world outside her island. I think “oh, I don’t understand this modern thing” might be a little overused here but it’s one of their only avenues for comedy and you wouldn’t want it to be just a movie about how terrible World War One is, we’ve had those movies and I personally don’t find them very interesting. The rest of the cast is fine, I suppose. Chris Pine is punching a little above his weight here, or he’s criminally underused in the Star Trek movies. Robin Wright and Connie Nielsen are great as Antiope and Hippolyta respectively, but with such vanishingly small amounts of screen time.
I struggled a bit with World War I as a setting. In the comics Wonder Woman has all the Hitler-punching bonafides as Captain America does, and moving to a war with a less certain, less reviled, adversary takes some of that oomph out of things. It’s easy for Diana to hate Nazis and slightly harder for her to hate too many convoluted political alliances. It serves the story (the suspicion of Ares’ involvement might seem too overt in WWII) but I spent a lot of time wondering when things might get turned up a little. I’m here to see Diana smash tanks and fight against unstoppable odds (present in this film for sure) and less here for her infiltrating a ball or shopping in a very standard version of London (also unfortunately present).
I enjoyed Wonder Woman a great deal, but that’s not really what’s most important here. I have watched my Facebook feed fill up all weekend with raves from women I know thrilled to see a superhero movie that speaks to them. I have to believe them that this movie is something special above and beyond my appreciation of it on a surface level. That people feel heard and represented by a movie is more important than any quibbles I might have over the depth of the supporting cast or how uninteresting I find World War I as a setting. I thought Wonder Woman was good, all these people thought it was real, and given the circumstances I’m going to go with them on this one.
“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:
WONDER WOMAN: Easily my favorite DCEU film. Has the humor and heart the franchise so desperately needs. Gadot and Pine are charming as hell.
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.
This week’s Entertainment Weekly (a “double issue” dated April 29/May 5, 2017) is its big “Summer Movie Preview” release, one that I usually really look forward to reading over my breakfast tea. But after doing that this very morning – which was yesterday by now – I realized that, in all honesty, there’s very little coming out on the big screen that warrants my plunking down my hard-earned dollars.
There’s Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, in theaters in just 12 days from now as I write this. (Btw, isn’t May 5th a little early to be calling it a “summer movie?”) Maybe I’m not taking much of a leap here when I say it will be the big blockbuster hit of the season. It’s classic “superhero space fantasy” and, of course, there’s Rocky. Not to mention Baby Groot. Then again, im-not-so-ho, there’s not much competition.
Though there is Wonder Woman, premiering June 2. This is the one I’m really rooting for, which should be understandable to anyone who knows my history with the character. Though… I’m baffled as to why the film is set during World War I; a strange choice. I’m a history buff, and I understand the significance of that war and how it birthed the geopolitical landscape in which we live today, but as a backdrop to the Amazonian’s first cinematic venture? I dunno. I just don’t know if it will sell. Though – and I admit this is incredibly sexist of me – Gal Gadot in an armored swimsuit will undoubtedly bring in lots of those coveted male teenage and young adult dollars. But, although Ms. Gadot has legs that don’t stop, will Wonder Woman have legs past the opening weekend? We’ll see.
Let’s see, what else? Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales? It’s been 14 years since last we saw Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow, so the hunger just might be there. It could give Guardians a run for its money. It could also tank, big time. Either way, I’ll pass. If I feel like a pirate movie, it’s Errol Flynn in Captain Blood.
Aliens: Covenant? Ridley Scott’s follow-up to Prometheus (which I never saw), takes place a decade after the later, and 20 years before Alien. To be fair, I will have to stream Prometheus before I decide on whether or not I want to go to the movie theater. But I have a feeling – unless word of mouth and critics lure me in – that this one is going to be either a cable watch or a streamer, too.
Baywatch? Never saw the television show, ain’t gonna watch this one. Not even on cable or streaming.
Then there’s Spider-Man: Homecoming (July 7). I really, really, really liked Tom Holland’s Peter Parker/Spidey in Captain America: Civil War – he almost makes me forget Tobey Maguire –and the trailer for Homecoming is incredibly fun and enticing. Plus, my not-so-secret crush, Robert Downey, Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man. But I still like Singer’s take on the webslinger’s ability to, uh, sling that web. Sure, it’s not canon, but it always made more sense to me that it was part and parcel of that radioactive spider’s bite’s effect on Peter.
And since I’m a sucker for World War II movies – which may be part of the antipathy I feel towards a Wonder Woman movie set in 1918 – I am looking forward to Dunkirk, out on July 21. The evacuation of the Allied forces – more than 300,000 soldiers – over eight days (May 26 to June 4) in 1940 from the beaches at Dunkirk, France is an event that could have had a very, very different outcome.
All in all, EW covers 110 movies that will premiere over the summer. Quite possibly at least one of them could turn out to be a sleeper hit. But right now the summer entertainment I’m most looking forward to is the adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, starting April 26 on Hulu – okay, it’s not technically a movie – and Neil Gaiman’s American Gods – okay it’s not technically a movie, either – on Starz as of April 30.
In other news, daughter Alixandra has started watching Doctor Who, beginning with Christopher Eccleston.
This week is a mish-mash featuring my reactions and thoughts to some of my fellow ComicMix columnists and two reader’s thoughts on my column from last week.
In response to my column last week, which I wrote while watching the New York Giants/Green Bay Packers wild card playoff game, Mark Belktron wrote:
Johnny O (the O is for Ostrander) talked about the King, a.k.a. Jack Kirby, yesterday, and his first encounter with the “mild-mannered” genius of the four-color page. Hey, John, did you read the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, by Michael Chabon? If not, you really must! In fact, as I once mentioned long ago and far away (but not in another galaxy – at least, I think not), anyone who claims to be a comics fan must – im-not-so-ho, of course – read this, uh, amazing semi-fictionalized and semi-biographical novel of the birth of the comics industry in Depression-era America.
On Friday (January 14), Marc Alan Fishman did a “Tim Gun” critique of the DC film version of Justice League PR picture, which accompanied an article about the film in USA Today. I don’t read that paper, so Marc’s column was the first time I saw this pix. I think Marc has it correct, for the most part.
Batfleck does look fitting (as in, it fits the character), although I have always wondered, going all the way back to Michael Keaton’s turn as the Caped Crusader in Tim Burton’s original Batman (1989), just how weighty and cumbersome the… costume? uniform?… let’s go with “outfit”… and how the athletic and martial-arts empowered Gotham Knight is able to move so swiftly and ably wearing that thing – hmm…have any of the cinema Batmen been able to even turn their head to talk to someone or espy something without having to turn the whole body? (Yes, unwieldy sentence, but so is the suit. Isn’t it?)
Also love, love, love Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman (as I’ve mentioned numerous times before), but, unlike Marc, I don’t care that the colors of her armament are subdued. Of all the characters’, um, outfits, hers is the most realistic and closest, im-not-so-ho, to what Amazon warriors would wear to battle over 2000 years ago. The others don’t bother me one way or another. Cyborg is just another variation on a, well, cyborg. The Flash and Aquaman are pretty much what I would expect from a Zack Snyder film – and I don’t think that the orange-and-green “look” of the comic would ever translate well to the big screen, and barely to the small screen, for that matter. Anyway, it makes sense that the colors of the deep, dark sea, down so far that sunlight is an unknown (think views of the wreck of the Titanic, lit by mini-submarine) would be reflected in what the “King of the Sea” wears.
My only question about Flash continues to be – why hire a new actor (Ezra Miller) to play Barry Allen when Grant Gustin is just so damn excellent in the role? Yeah, yeah, I know…the televerse and the cineverse are alternate realities, or something. But here, once again, Marvel does it better, blending their ‘verses into one smooth reality.
“That game not only got away from the Giants, but the backlash in the media against OBJ [that’s Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. for you non-football people] the next day is killing me as a fan. Have you watched OA yet?”
Sorry, Mark, but im-not-so-ho, a player with the vaunted ability of OBJ should have caught both of Eli’s passes early in the first quarter…especially that wide-open beauty in the end zone. I don’t really care what the players do off the field – well, barring domestic violence and any other behavior which can lead to some serious injury to themselves and/or others (New York defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul blowing his hand up real good with a firecracker, for instance) – if they show up on the field. My brother thinks OBJ is overrated, and I do tend to agree with him, if only because the wide receiver is too damn inconsistent to be placed with the other great wide receivers of the game. The players of the NFL apparently get it – OBJ was named to the All-Pro second team this year.
Regarding that same column, in which I wondered if the new 24 will be “worth it,” ReneCat said:
“Mindy, you hit the nail on the head! 24 without Jack (especially) and Chloe is just 24 Lite.”
Perhaps I’m just a big, bitter grump, ReneCat. (Reference Star Trek: The Original Series, Season One, Episode Eight: “Miri.”) I just watched the last three episodes of last season’s Homeland before watching the sixth season of the show on Showtime last night; Miranda Otto was so remarkable as Russian double-agent Allison Carr, and she (Miranda, not Allison) – who ended up “dead real good,” riddled with bullets in the trunk of the car that was getting her out of Germany – is playing Rebecca Ingram, the former head of the CTU who is apparently now regretting leaving the intelligence agency. It is, according to the Fox Network, one of the leading parts. So I will definitely being turning in to watch, at the very least, the premiere of 24: Legacy.
Mike Gold’s column on River Song, the “remarkably capable, strong and intelligent archaeologist/con artist/warrior-protector with a great sense of humor and about 92% of all the sexuality ever expressed in the 54-year history of the program, she has been, is, and/or will be married to the Doctor” was right on the mark, for my money. Very coincidentally, I just ordered The Diary of River Song before reading Mike’s column, although since I hadn’t read Mike’s column I got the more expensive set on Amazon instead of at Big Finish. I would have cancelled the Amazon order and gone over to Big Finish, but my package has already shipped, to be delivered tomorrow. Oh, well. As Mike said:
“I hope to see River return sometime this season as it is Steven Moffat’s last as writer/showrunner. I hope to see River Song return anywhere at any time, if that latter phrase has any real meaning in a world where time travel exists.
“But, hey, I’ll settle for Alex Kingston returning damn well anywhere.”
Me, too, Mike!
Well, that’s about it for this week, folks. My column, as usual, is running late – unusually so this week, as between my full-time job and my parents’ ill health I haven’t had the time or the “mood” to write. Apologies to my fellow columnists whom I haven’t mentioned, except to say that, in regards to graphic novels and comic shops, Martha Thomases and Ed Catto, I am guilty of buying the collected issues in one volume. And also, Arthur Tebbel, the only movies that I saw on your list of the Worst Movies of 2016 were Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Independence Day: Resurgence, and that I couldn’t even get past the first half-hour of the later (which I tried to watch on Netflix) and that the former was a travesty of great proportion, except for, once again, Gal Gadot’s Diana, Princess of Themyscira.
Addendum: By the time of next week’s column, we will have had one full weekend of President Donald J. Trump. Will we all still be here? Will there even be a column? Will America be…Amerika?
DC released the image that precedes this week’s via a puff piece in USA Today. In it, we see the Aveng-err-Justice League being scowly amidst steam and metal and stuff. It’s really striking, ain’t it?
As the image made its way across the social media networks I frequent, a common theme rose to the surface: Vomit. While I typically love to play devil’s advocate in situations like this, offering a nice counterpoint to typical rantings in lieu of some of my own delicious snark, I honest to Rao can only pile on. Let’s carve this screencap into a thousand angry pieces, shall we?
First off, I’m fine with Batfleck. He’s grumpy and gray. Which is exactly what I expect Batman to be. I think the one fine thing to come out of Batman v Superman was the portrayal of Bruce Wayne and his emo counterpart. He’s weary. He’s underpowered. He’s overcompensating for a lot. The actual look of the armor is good. Flat, simple, thick. The added Oakley shades over his eye holes make me think he’s got some gadgets on this suit. I like the look, as it’s basically Frank-Miller-Meets-the-Arkham-City-Games. Fishman’s Tim Gunn Grade: A-
And then we come to Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman. Diana here is actually pretty comic accurate, no? While someone forgot to saturate her suit with any actual color, the basic forms here are as we’d hope. Her corset-like top over a weird armor-skirt, bifurcated by an ab-piecing belt reads wholly to her pulpy counterpart. In the shot we also see her shield, sword, and lasso. She’s even got her tiara and gauntlets in place. While she doesn’t feel Amazonian to me — she’s clearly not smaller than all save for Flash — everything else is checked off the list. If someone could add 33% more saturation, I’d be in love. Fishman’s Tim Gunn Grade: A-
Cyborg is depicted as a Michael Bay Transformer nightmare. As someone denoted to me on Facebook, his crotch literally looks like Megatron’s maw from Bay’s atrocities. Vic Stone here is a mangled mess of wires and tubes. It’s as if the CGI department just couldn’t help but scream “look what we done did!”
Look, I get it. The tragic accident that left Stone a small meat pile being grafted onto a T-1000 frame is a nice idea. But the look here is severely unfetch. From a practical standpoint, one would think maybe Batman would tell Cyborg to add layers of protective plating over the exposed machinery? Or perhaps not declare boldly “look at my lights. They show you where to start shooting and punching”? For Rao’s sake… the AI Bots in I, Robot had better armor. Fishman’s Tim Gunn Grade: F
Flash. Oh, Flash. This picture clearly is of a team that prepared a bit before battle. See Batman’s shades, Wonder Woman’s armament, and that trident. Flash clearly found some leftover maroon gym mats and Bungie cords and decided to try his best at a Pinterest costume tab. I pray that Mr. Allen figures he’ll move so fast people won’t notice the mélange of oddly shaped armor bits held together by string and sheer force of will. The only smart move he made: his helmet covers a good part of his face. It’s a shame when the CW’s Flash is better appointed to fight crime than a Flash with several hundred million dollars more in the coffers. Fishman’s Tim Gunn Grade: Whatever constitutes something worse than an F
Last in our assemblage of angst is Artie “Aquaman” Curry. This shark of a man is a big ole’ brute, ain’t he? The Snyderverse version of the once orange-adorned aquatic superman is clearly kin of WWE’s Roman Reigns. It’s a bold take. And we get it by now, don’t we? No one will make fun of him now! We can hear DC’s movie investors chortle. While Aquaman is shrouded in plumes of hate-smoke, there’s enough to go on here: He’s scale-armored. He’s got a bitchin trident. He’s got a massive beard. And he stole some shoulder pads from the set of Spartacus. Good on him. The look is different. But it’s intriguing. It looks stiff. But I’ll hold out hope it looks good in motion. Fishman’s Tim Gunn Grade: C+
So, what say you of this new League of Justice? Or perhaps the better question to answer… Who wore it better?