Fans hoping to convince Warner Bros. to release an extended cut of Justice League as envisioned by director Zack Snyder have taken out a billboard in San Diego to greet fans during Comic Con International, marking the latest in a series of highly visible requests from the fans.
Fans supporting the #ReleaseTheSnyderCut hashtag will descend on San Diego wearing t-shirts, paying for billboards and, if past behavior is any indicator, probably asking questions about the cut at DC and Warner Bros. events. The campaign has become long enough and visible enough to compare to the efforts by fans to pressure Warner Bros. into releasing Richard Donner’s cut of Superman II — which they eventually did, but it took about 20 years.
Somewhere around the mid-point of one of the chaotic action sequences in Justice League, a thought echoed in my head. “Avengers was better. I know it was. But why?” Put a pin in that.
And while we’re at it, consider this the blanket SPOILER ALERT. I’m not going to be holding back on plot points and such.
Justice League was a solid effort to continue DC’s course correction. Full stop. The flick tries hard to shake itself of its sullen feeder-films – save for Wonder Woman, which wasn’t downtrodden at all – and ultimately sticks the landing by final credit roll. Over the course of two hours (and change), Zach Snyder, Joss Whedon, and Chris Terrio assemble their (kinda) Lanternless league efficiently. The threat is worthy of the big bangers of the DC(E)U. The quips and sardonic looks feel well-worn and dare I say earned.
So why did the entire movie leave me feeling an uneasy mélange of contentedness balanced equally with ennui? I mean, Rao-be-damned, the movie just made me use the word ennui!
When I noted the efficient assemblage of the titular superteam, it comes couched with a cacophony of caveats. Our introduction to Barry Allen / The Flash seems to speed through his origin in a manner sans-irony given his power set. While he’d been on the fringes of Batman v Superman, we’ve been granted no real anchor to his character by the time he’s donning his car-wreck of a costume. It’s all flashes of awkward Big Bang Theory Sheldonisms smashed on top of tearful angst over the incarceration of Henry Allen. Late in the film, he shares a moment (one of the better exchanges, I should add) with Victor Stone / Cyborg, declaring they are the accidents. But because it comes so late – during the predictable recuperation of the nearly-defeated team scene (that all superhero team movies need, I guess) – it just feels like a tacked-on bon mot, instead of a necessary moment of respite.
And what of the aforementioned Mr. Stone? He’s Deus Ex Machina – ironically, figuratively, and literally. He’s given what might best be described as the affirmative action gift of the longest origin of the group, but never are we invited in the mind of the part-man-part-machine. Stone is stone-faced essentially for the length of Justice League, removing every ounce of characterization Khary Payton has been investing into Cyborg since 2003. When Cyborg of Justice League mutters a soft-spoken Booyah, it comes with the tenacity of a wet fart – meant only as lip-service, not fan-service.
And then we have Aquaman by way of the Abercrombie shirtless collection. WWE’s Roman Reigns, err, Jason Momoa exists as multiverse variant of Arthur Curry so devoid of the traits I’d long associated with the character, I all but abandoned any known factoids of the comic book original minutes into his first scene opposite Bruce Wayne – who himself was enjoying his take on the Fall Hugo Boss collection. Their shared scene, the one you no doubt saw in the trailers and commercials, sets us up for the League’s water-based warrior. He’s a hard-drinking, hard-fighting, surfer-lone-wolf with a pitchfork and a chip on his shoulder. His origin isn’t really told so much as it is scribbled, child-like, on a bar wall, and then half-dialogue-vomited in an appropriately confusing underwater scene. Verily.
Reading through my last few paragraphs may make you believe I utterly loathed Justice League. But you’d be wrong. For every dour note I left the theater with, came an equal smirk of joy overseeing the goodness that Snyder actually captured. Superman, after two incredibly dark films finally is presented the way we want him to be. Full of hope, love, and swagger. Wonder Woman continues to be the best female protagonist in comic book films by several levels of magnitude. And Batman? He’s rich. He’s funny when he wants to be. Believably human. And hilariously voice-modulated. All that, and we didn’t get any meaningless self-sacrifices, or fighting a giant blue sky-beam. Heck, the stinger at the end of the film even got me to clap.
So, why then, did I inevitably wind up in an Avengers conundrum? It stands to note that there’s no way to ignore that Marvel assembled their uber-team successfully a full five-years ago. And by the time it made its way to the movieplex, had given the general teeming masses of newly minted fanboys (and girls) time to live with the main members of their cast (Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor primarily). Because the feeder films (Iron Man, Captain America: The First Avenger, and Thor) had all been well-received, there was a feeling of earned glee when the Avengers coalesced to punch mindless CGI aliens for forty minutes. In contrast, Justice League carries with it the weight of mismanaged and darkly derided prequels (minus Wonder Woman), and oozes desperation from its pores. It’s cut-to-shreds-by-committee, and feels as such. Avengers was lived in. Justice League came across like a wrongly-coined #MeToo.
But perhaps, there exists a silver lining amidst my kvetching. Justice League did leave me excited for what was to come. And it’s that feeling above any others that leaves my eyes on the horizon for the pantheon of DC superheroes… rather than the floor in collective shame.
Somewhere in the curly-edged annals of ComicMix – surely such annals must exist! – there must exist a piece I wrote…well, ya know, I’m not really sure when, exactly, I wrote it. A while ago, okay? My subject, or what I’ll assume was a crisp fall day, was how Labor Day has, gradually, over time, assumed the weight and character of what I think of as a real holiday – one that exists because it fulfills a need.
Christmas is a good example: light and fire and feasting combine to celebrate the return of the light after winter’s long gloom. Similarly, Easter: the return of planting season. Thanksgiving and the various fall harvest festivals: cutting and storing enough foodstuff to see the community through the forthcoming cold. All of these occasions and more are tied to nature’s rhythms and marked by change.
So how does Labor Day fit into all this? Well. A U.S. President named Grover Cleveland decided that we as a nation ought to take notice of the contributions of the American working men the blue-collar Joes who created “the new world.” First Monday in September. From now on – Labor Day!” Thus declareth the Prez!
The Prez’s timing was good. Early September: the kids who worked on farms where pretty much done with the summer’s chores. Any family that could afford vacations had probably taken them by the time the leaves began to change. And there were the Big Holidays to brace for. (Where the hell did we store those tree lights?)
Those of us who got graduation documents – that’d be most of us – has busy Septembers. New classes and, ergo, new schoolmates, some of whom just might be cute. New teachers. New clothes. New sports. Streets spangled with decorations. Maybe some sliding and skating and all that other stuff.
And oh, let me not forget the television and the movies – the really honkin’ big films that seem to materialize in the hottest of summer and coldest of winter. Last year, the one we anticipated was Batman vs Superman and when I saw the name “Bill Finger” early in the credits, I thought this won’t be a complete waste of time. I’ll get some satisfaction from seeing Bill finally, after decades, get some of the credit due him. Then I watched the film.
This fall, I guess the Big Flick is Justice League. The story would seem to have some of the same narrative problems that beset Batman vs Superman. We’ll see.
Meanwhile, there’s some superhero stuff debuting/returning to the nation’s flat screened living room pals and that should suffice to keep us geeks from having withdrawal woes.
Hours and hours and hours phone talking with customer service for whatever’s gone wrong this time and the wrong gets righted — for a while. Then more and more and more. And things never stay fixed. And my soul (where/what ever that is) grows weary.
As a chap I once shared an office with — that would be our own Mike Gold — can testify, O’Neil is not a technology dude. Not big on toys, either. I just want the Whatever to do whatever task I need done and I don’t require a foot rub to accompany said task. Just, please, do the job and then, please, stop existing until I need you again.
Some of the niggly chores that have been eating my lunch are part of the process of publishing a novel in paperback. I thought I was finished working on that book, but…What! Amazon wants more information? I wonder if Mark Twain had these problems! (Actually, he probably did have a nineteenth century version of them. He did lose a fortune on a typesetting machine that never did work properly. Early instance of Malevolent Technology. One Missouri scrivener to another: I feel for you, brother.)
As of right now, what you’re reading is…I don’t know…48 hours overdue? Very late, anyway. If it struggles into print it won’t have given the editor time to do his job properly and that is an industrial strength no-no.
(The bottom of the page is rising slowly, slowly.)
I suppose that I should mention comic books somewhere in here. Not too long ago I was reminded that ComicMix is a comic book site. Problem is, what to say? A lot of you guys probably know more about the current comics scene than I do. And I don’t want to become one of those duffers who beatifies days of old. (When I was a boy, we had decent funny books!) And anyway, the superhero action seems to be concentrated in theaters, not bookstores. Big movie mojo. Finally, the long-awaited and gossiped-about Justice League flick is scheduled. (Some of us will tiptoe past the box office because we are not optimistic and we don’t want anyone to know we’re there.) Other comics-derived films are on the way, including the one I’m most curious about. I’ll heed the film folk’s example and call it Shazam, but you and I both know that it’s real title is Captain Marvel.
Have I done my duty? To comics? To what’s on the news?
No, not to the news. I considered writing about the domestic terrorism in Charlottesville, but I have nothing to add to what’s already been said.
This week, the gods of the interwebs granted us a look at two dichotomous trailers for a pair of blockbuster comic book films soon to be hitting the mega-multi-plexes. Spider-Man: Homecoming and Justice League gave us somewhere around four-minutes total of titillating three-dimensional text, brief respites of prose, and the best action snippets CG could render. But beyond those stark generalities comes two massive worlds apart.
This should come as no surprise to any of us. Spider-Man is packed with wit, charm, and street-level action amidst the hints at bigger set pieces. Justice League is a dark and sordid affair – not without its own charm and wit, but punctuated with the Synder-trademarked sepia-hued gravitas and angst. At this point, would it be enough to say I was ear-to-ear smiles at one trailer… and terribly nervous about the other?
Two guesses which is which. Then again, if I give you two guesses you’d guess right no matter what.
Spider-Man presents a balanced picture that has me in giddy anticipation. Tom Holland’s Peter Parker is presented as we saw him in Civil War. He is as close to the original source as we may ever get in an adapted character from comic to screen. He’s young, funny, nerdy, and oozes those immortal words of his late Uncle Ben between his not-quite-adult pores.
The story we’re presented seems rote. Following Civil War, Peter returns home to Queens to be the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man as per the direction of his would-be father-figure, Tony Stark. But, in the 616 Cinematic Universe, we already know what evil lurks in the shadows. Enter Birdman. Err, Batman. Err, Michael Keaton. Before the trailer ends we’re given what appears to be the entire plot of the movie. Destruction, loss, redemption, snark. It’s almost too easy; I anticipate several key turns before we resolve to whatever happily-ever-sequel there is to come.
Meanwhile in the DCU, Justice League leaves us with a much murkier picture – not counting the actual cinematography. From what we’ve been given, we can safely assert that Batman is assembling a team (let’s go ahead and call them a league) of super-powered individuals to fight some unseen threat. Diana of Themyscira, Barry Allen, Vic Stone, and Arthur Curry appear to be on board to fight said threat. That aside, we really get nothing else specific. Of the snippets we are given though, a few streams of light pierce the typically dark DCU movieverse. From the sneer-grin of Aquaman as he rides on the exterior of the Batmobile, to Bruce Wayne revealing his super power (“I’m rich”), Justice League seems to at least made some minor commitment to be a slightly more mirthful affair than Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Sadness.
Unlike Spider-Man, Justice League’s trailer leaves me more guarded than enthusiastic. League’s teaser is simply too short to get a feeling if we’re taking a step forward or laterally. While BvS was quite profitable, the fan consensus was one of great disdain. What should have been billed as an Avengers level tour-de-force was more or less a maudlin, middling meh-fest. And far be it from me to throw a stone here, but Suicide Squad was a solid popcorn flick – but not one that moved the needle of fan-appreciation that DC desperately needs. Wonder Woman … you are our only hope.
So here we are. Four minutes of film, and we’re right back to where we started. While Marvel revels in whatever phase they’re in at present, DC seems to still be stuck at the starting block trying to impress everyone with how badass they are. And therein lies the truest sentiment of all.
While Marvel leaned into their inner nerd and gave us straight-faced superb tertiary titles like Ant-Man, and Guardians of the Galaxy, DC can’t get out of its own shadow. Spider-Man already feels like a homerun two minutes and several posters in. Justice League is somewhere between an intentional walk… and a beaned batter.
Having finally caught and absorbed James Mangold’s Logan, the finale to the OG X-films, I find myself hoping that the execs behind the soon-to-be-released Wonder Woman and Justice League movies were taking notes. A caveat: I’m going to attempt to keep my lens wide this week. While I don’t believe I’ll be spoiling anything more than people on your Facebook feed have blathered about, be nonetheless forewarned.
Before I get into my listicle (they’re what make articles click-baity, don’t-cha-know), let me quickly pontificate. Logan was one of the most powerful superhero films I’ve ever seen. Perhaps second only to The Dark Knight. It was a straight-forward small-scale road picture that kept a handle on a single-thread story, presented as an homage to the westerns it evoked throughout the picture. In spite of a heavy-handed two-hour run-time, the film itself moves at a steady pace. The performances are top-notch, with Patrick Stewart and Hugh Jackman taking astounding leaps above their initial performances of Charles Xavier and Wolverine circa 2000. Sweet Rao I feel old just typing that. But I digress. On with the listercizing!
Things get dark, but never for the sake of needless angst.
The first thing DC should take note on… and perhaps highlight, circle, underline and install neon lights around… is that it’s perfectly acceptable to be maudlin if it’searned. X-Men, X2, and to a much-much-much-much lesser extent any of the other X-films did much to pile on the action and gravitas towards the mutant life en masse. But Logan abstains from needless retreading. Instead, it delivers us heroes who are hurt inside and out. It gives them needs, wants, and desires that don’t coincide with some greater plot or McGuffin. And when a McGuffin lands in their lap, they pleasantly drape it in subtext (Charles Xavier, through his delusional state, would seek to mentally communicate with any over living mutants, wouldn’t he?) that earns the gravitas the film requires. And when a character screams to the heavens in a shrill cry of anger and sadness, it comes by way of two-hours of earned malaise and not because it looks cool.
Show. Don’t tell.
During a lull between brutal set pieces, Professor X waxes poetic about the final days of his former academy. He doesn’t speak in pure exposition. He drifts in and out, dancing around nuanced and painful memories, and ultimately evokes the feeling of tragedy and regret deeply rooted in his psyche. We never hear the full details of what occurs. We never see some spiffy CG recreation. And we never need to.
In addition to Charles’ admission of guilt and shame and the slow reveal of X-23’s backstory, Logan elicits the show-don’t-tell ethos that DC needs to heed. While yes, we get the obligatory backstory tacked to her early on, it’s delivered without hanging a lampshade on it time-and-again. Laura is feral and untrusting. She’s lethal and raw. While we see her drop her guard eventually, it comes over the course of many scenes and instances where Dafne Keen shows us how powerful a performer she is. Logan never once feels the need to montage our way toward understanding a new norm.
Keep the violence real, believable, and still other-worldly.
The biggest issues I’ve had with Batman v. Superman and Suicide Squad came solely in their fetish for destruction. Logan certainly was built for violence. But when it occurs, it’s not only earned by the stakes in the story, it comes layered with emotional and physical fallout. As Logan and others are forced to fight a youthful Wolverine clone (my one spoilery thing, I apologize…), suddenly fighting a savage killer with a healing factor feels like a true threat. It also stands to note that even in the climax of the film — with multiple combatants, gunfire, and viscera — there’s no death for the sake of spectacle. War is waged for hope, humanity, and vengeance. All that, and there’s nary a single beam-being-blasted-towards-the-sky. Natch.
The story is fearless in the face of predictability
If nothing else could be counted on by DC after seeing Logan, it should be the safe admission that sometimes it’s OK to tee-up a predictable story. There’s nary a single twist to the picture if you pay clear attention. But, due to the patience of director Mangold, we get a film that never needed to rely on ham-fisted trickery to earn the 92% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The potency lies in the characterizations and believable escalation of antagonism. Villainy in Logan is no less super-villainous that Lex Luthor creating Doomsday, or Darkseid declaring war on Earth. But it’s the reactions of our heroes that carry us through to the end credits. Jokes occur naturally and not at the behest of breaking a tense and necessary silent moment for the sake of relieving the stress on the audience. Mangold lets the story unfold through deliberate character-driven motivations. We never see the puppet-strings of action-figure-merchandisers creating moments for future marketing. Honesty and artistry over bottom-dollar-profits. And because of it, the fans have carried a hard R-rated film to over 500 million dollars in ticket sales.
I know Justice League and Wonder Woman are being built to pitch out to a larger PG-13 audience. But the sincere hope remains that DC paid attention. Logan was amazing not because it used the word fuck a few hundred times, but because the story delivered earned every last fuck delivered.
If I’d looked around my tiny, cluttered office, just before Marifran came through the door I would not have seen an Oujia Board, a tarot deck, a tortoise shell, an I Ching, tea leaves, an icoshedral apparatus, dice, Chinese coins, or even the astrology section of the Journal News. So why, when she arrived, did Marifran accuse me of being a fortune teller?
Don’t get me wrong. If you wat to believe that a deck of cards or the random formation of leaves in a cup can somehow reveal the future (or maybe even the past) or lay some coin on a nice lady who will study your palm and then…tell you something?
I’m skeptical of such business, but I’m not a total disbeliever mostly because a family friend, now gone, did some pretty inexplicable things like discerning an event in the past that Marifran does not talk about ever, not because it’s shameful but because it’s painful – this after she’d known Mari for less than an hour and refused any kind of reward. (By the way, this happened at a costume party, so Mari’s dress revealed nothing about her, though even if it had it wouldn’t help a fortune teller at work) Even if she’d accepted money, her feat would have been impressive, But she didn’t. Super impressive?
Which leaves me… where? Maybe just waiting for the jury to come in.
So…I’m waiting for the metaphorical jury to come in and instead, here comes the cute little schoolteacher and she’s saying something about me being a prophet. Huh?
Okay, back up an hour or two. I go out to get the papers and there, on the stoop, are two packages. Inside, I open them and, well, whaddaya know! Books. Big, big books. Several copies of The Bronze Age Justice League of America: Omnibus Volume One.
Lotta book there: 852 pages of story, the first published in 1969, the last in 1974. I wrote that lead story, catchily titled “Snapper Carr…Super Traitor.” In it, the JLA are trying to locate a bad guy who has technology that turns people into bullies. Eventually, they get a name for him, which is – wait for it – Trump. And on page 16, Batman thinks: I wondered what I’ve been locked in. The impromptu jail was a model of the new Trump Satellite.
The main plot concerns “Trump’s” using bigotry lies and hatred to mentally enslave the unsuspecting citizenry. There’s a final plot twist but I see no need for a spoiler alert here. You get the idea.
And I’m still not a believer. But… 48 years ago that piece appeared, long before I had the pleasure of knowing that Donald Trump existed. Coincidence? Okay. But a damn spooky one.
Wow. I never thought I’d miss that little ditty. Granted, whenever that tune consumes my brainpan it’s the version recorded by The Who and not the one from the ancient teevee series. I find myself humming Neal Hefti’s remarkably enduring theme song every time a new Batman movie screws up. Yup, this means I’ve been humming it a lot lately.
The latest batastrophe – as of this writing – came down last week when the director of the upcoming release The Batman quit the picture. That’s a big problem, as he is also the co-writer of the movie… and, oh yeah, also its star.
Arguably worse, the top choice for replacing director Ben Affleck, Matthew George Reeves (no relation to anybody who starred as Superman), quickly dropped out of the negotiations. One is reminded their March 16, 2018 release, The Flash, also has gone through multiple directors.
Of course, as soon as Affleck walked away from the director’s chair, the trolls started jabbering about how great it would be if he walked away from the cowl as well. And that soon morphed into a belief that he would turn his back on the whole Momma Martha complex. This is not a surprise, as the Internet is quite capable of meeting Donald Trump’s dark vision of the media in general. And maybe he will – but I kind of doubt it. He’s in Justice League and he’s contracted for at least a couple more appearances in gray battlegear. But, hey, it’s Hollywood and as we all know, Hollywood is the one place where gravity does not work.
Some fans won’t forgive him for Daredevil. Jeez, I know I’m in the minority here, but Daredevil was an okay movie. In fact, I think the director’s cut was “good.” And maybe some people thought everybody involved with Batman V Superman should be punished, just like our sensibilities had been punished. I belong to the slightly larger pool of eyeball owners who thought that Affleck turned in a fine performance as the world’s oldest Batman. The movie sucked, but Ben did not.
Some fans – and there’s a lot of overlap here – seem to be taking the position that Warner Bros should just drop the whole Batman thing. Yeah. Dream on. If they’re desperate enough, Warners would offer George Clooney enough to fulfill Auric Goldfinger’s most golden wet dream. It’s Batman.
For example. For the second week in a row, The LEGO Batman Movie out-earned everything else on Popcorn Row. I haven’t seen it yet, although I have enjoyed most of the other DC Lego movies. But, just as Batman is also something of a regular on Robot Chicken, one cannot deny that the Darknight Detective (who doesn’t really do much “detecting”) has massive and enduring appeal. I don’t know why – many of the extra-media interpretations of the guy have really, truly sucked – but I’m rather fond of The Bat myself and I’d love to see another really good Batmovie.
But, probably, not as much as Warners wants to see another really good Batmovie… even though the crappy ones did well at the box office. That Clooney movie brought in $238,207,122 when it first was released, and – by way of comparison – that’s at least $364,353,620 in 2017 dollars.
If they’re still seeking a director, maybe Frank Miller is looking for work.
On the way to RocCon, the Rochester Comic Convention, my cousin John gave me a comics-related clipping that his mom, my Aunt Carolyn, asked him to pass along. It was from the Catholic Courier and it was a positive review of Darwyn Cooke’s graphic novel The New Frontier.
This week’s column was supposed to be about RocCon, but the clipping about The New Frontier sent me in another direction. So instead let’s focus on purpose, Geek Culture and the Catholic Courier clipping.
But first a little background on Darwyn Cooke’s The New Frontier. This graphic novel was originally released as a six-issue miniseries in 2004. The Catholic News Service review describes it this way:
Set in the 1950s and early 1960s, the novel…examines issues of racism, immigration, the blacklisting of accused subversives and the morality of the Vietnam War.
More important, in The New Frontier creator Darwyn Cooke firmly established the DC Universe as a place where focused individuals work hard to create positive change that benefit everyone.
Still, it was strange to reed about this graphic novel in a Catholic newspaper. Back in the day, I don’t recall a whole lot of support from the Catholic Church for comics. More recently, I’m always surprised when some organized religions protest against fiction like Harry Potter stories for promoting the devil or other rotten things.
This review was different. It was very positive. In fact, they awarded The New Frontier an A-III rating. I never would have imagined that the Catholic Church would formally approve of the Justice League. But you know what? They should have.
Maybe I should have seen the church’s embrace of heroic fiction coming. My Aunt Carolyn, a devout Catholic, has always been pro-comics. She’s retired now, but she enjoyed a long career as a middle school/high school English teacher.
In the 60s, my Aunt Carolyn famously took the initiative to purchase a stack of comics to share with her class. This was in Auburn, NY, a town that back in 1948 had one of those ridiculous comic book burnings to stamp out juvenile delinquency. Despite the fact that she used her own money to buy the comics, the school administration frowned on classroom distribution of “funny books.” They demanded she get those comics out of the school.
So I’m happy that “we” in general, and the Catholic News Service’s reviewer in particular, value positive stories about individuals who routinely engage in self-sacrifice and contribute to the greater good.
I contrast that with current political discussions. It’s astounding to me that so many conversations about the Presidential race don’t value a lifetime of public service.
I’m proud of the fact that often in Geek Culture, there tends to be a value assigned to characters that do positive things.
And taking it a step further, in Geek Culture the real heroes are the creators who got off the couch and created something positive.
None of our fictional heroes are perfect. Certainly few of Geek Culture’s real-life hero-creators are perfect. In fact, one Golden Age artist I constantly put on a pedestal struggled throughout his life. Consequently he was, at times, mean and cruel and disappointed many people.
But it’s not about perfection. It’s about trying to do something positive and succeeding once in a while.
I’m thrilled that the Catholic News Service embraces the message of hope and optimism in that the brilliant Darywn Cooke story, The New Frontier. It’s a fantastic read. However, at the core of that story and so many stories in Geek Culture, there are a lot of positive, hopeful messages. And even the Catholic Church can get behind that.
Welcome to LinkBait 2016, kiddos! After last week, I was left wandering the streets thinking “How can Warner Brothers make Justice League not just good but completely balls-out awesomesauce?” Well, here I am stuck in New York City (day job, baybae!) with nothing better to do than listicle my way towards freedom. Let’s break it down:
Be Funny. If the teaser trailer thing they tossed at us via SDCC was any indication, this one may be in the bag. Between Batfleck’s quips to the angry Aquaman and the Flash’s quips to Bats… I laughed more in two minutes of footage than I did after watching all of the DC films combined.
Stop Brooding. Can we just state the obvious? Batman v. Superman and Man of Steel were chores to survive through. With rain and darkness and death and crying and smoke and ashes and pain and lasers, we’ve now sat through about five hours of tragedy shaded by angst. Simply put, we don’t need any more of it.
Open up After Effects and turn off all filters. Forgive my insincerity to any of the directors of photography, art directors, and cinematographers who worked on the previous films. They were ugly brown-blue nightmare-scapes. For the love of Rao, please just up that saturation. Want a guide? Open up a comic book. I realize the brands need some consistency. But when your competition can level a city in broad daylight, and still have bright blue skies, it proves you don’t need to muck up the screen just because there’s a fight going on.
Remember: Nothing is truly ever solved by punching. Listen, I don’t want to keep beating the “Marvel’s doing it better” tree too often, but I need to call a spade a spade. The Avengers? The day was saved by sacrifice. Civil War? A stalemate and respect for common sense. Heck! Guardians of the Galaxy? Friggen friendship, love, and having Kurt Russel alien-DNA. Consider it your blueprint: the Justice League needs to beat whatever villainy that arises with their wit, their courage, and their unwavering compassion for humanity. Simply put, only martial arts movies get away with winning by using better punching.
In Media Res… Love It. We don’t need anyone’s secret origin. Not anymore. The movie-going public has been well-versed now by a decade’s worth of them. Start us ready to assemble… err… gather the League and save the day.
Aquaman will be cool if you play it cool. We all know Aquaman is a pop-culture icon for morty hero-dom. But what makes him awesome isn’t the tattoos, Samoan looks, angry grit, or massive pecs. It’s his confidence. It’s his heroism. It’s his humanity. It’s clear that Momoa’s Arthur Curry is an intense individual. That’s fine. But he need not be a snarling snarky shark-man to garner favor with the lowest common denominator.
No one believes Superman is dead. Well, you sorta’ let that cat outta the bag quickly, didn’t you? So be clear, and to the point. Bring him back. Spare us the mullet and/or black costume and give us the big blue boy scout America has been begging for.
Wonder Woman must be the force to be reckoned with. Up until now, Black Widow has been the super hero little girls are looking up to. But she’s a complicated character who’s been buried behind the bigger toys in the toybox over at Club Mickey. DC has the opportunity to steal the title of best female hero and bury Marvel in that respect. Wonder Woman stole every scene she was in back in Sadman v. Badman. While we know she’ll soon get her own solo flick to flood the cinemas with aspiration. But in the team setting, she’s set to break out and be the biggest, baddest bitch of the bunch.
The villain needs to matter. To date, Marvel’s malevolent mad men have been shallow at best, save only – perhaps – for the lukewarm Loki. DC’s rogues frankly spank Marvel’s ne’er-do-wells on paper. It’s about time they proved it. It looks like Darkseid may be the big baddie. And all it takes is boning up on how he was portrayed in Justice League: Unlimited and Superman: The Animated Series. Simply put? Darkseid is the better Thanos. DC has the opportunity to spare us seventeen ten-second teasers to get to a true villain. Roll out the parademons and a few Apokolyptian lieutenants for larger fight scenes, and you’re golden as a Kirby panel.
Go ahead and tell us this is a multi-verse. There’s no better way to make all the fanboys lose their minds then to say Arrow, Flash, Supergirl and (to a much lesser degree) Gotham could exist and travel into the movies, and vice versa. With all the goodwill being built on the CW thus far… those whoops, hollers, and rounds of applause will come if people got the notion Grant Gustin and Ezra Miller would ever run across one another.
So, ComicMixers… what would you tell DC and WB to do to make Justice League a movie you’ll crave seeing?