Archive for November, 2013

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Five years ago Marvel Entertainment Studios started something bold. They released Iron Man. No…that wasn’t the bold part. Although it can be argued that, at the time, Iron Man wasn’t the hot property that warranted a feature film that would shatter records and resurrect the career of failed drug addict Robert Downey, Jr. The “something bold” in question here is that it was the first step at a singular cinematic universe of the Earths Mightiest Heroes. Iron Man paved the way for a decent Incredible Hulk movie, which morphed into Thor which lead into a throwback to Captain America which ultimately brought us to The Avengers. And that, dear readers, is what forever changed the landscape of superhero cinema and shattered many people’s preconceived notions that Joss Whedon can’t let Buffy the Vampire Slayer go and direct a good movie.

The box office success of The Avengers did more than that, though. It also got the folks at DC Comics and Warner Bros. salivating for some more money now that the Harry Potter franchise has ended. There was only one problem, when Superman Returns didn’t take flight (ba-dump sha) with a lot of people, DC/WB quickly realized that their only successful comic property was Christopher Nolan’s stand alone Dark Knight Trilogy, which he had no intention of ever expanding upon. What to do? What to do?

“I’ve got it!” some suit at Warner Bros. said one day. “Let’s just make a fucking Justice League movie! People will pay to see that. I mean look at all the money that Disney just made on their thingy!” 

“But, sir…” another WB suit said while nervously wiping off his flop sweat, “we haven’t taken the time to set up a Justice League universe. The audience may not know who they all are. Plus, his majesty, Mr. Nolan is done with Batman and Ryan’s Green Lantern movie kind of…well, you know…sucked.”

“Never fear! We’re in the clear!” the executive optimistically rhymed. “We’ll launch a new Superman movie to kick things off. And to make sure the audience likes this one, we’ll go to our well of successes. We’ll get the director of 300 to make it as dark and moody as our Batman films and as plot convenient as Inception. THEN! We’ll make a sequel that in some way introduces all of the other necessary characters so that we can have our Justice League movie as soon as possible. What can possibly go wrong?!”

Well…it probably goes without saying that Man of Steel wasn’t what they were expecting either. And sure, I have my problems with it. Many problems, in fact. But ultimately it’s not a bad movie. I find basic enjoyment in it. It’s not the Superman movie I would have made. And it’s definitely not the foundation that I would have built a new Justice League franchise on. But it is what it is and we move on. Worse things have happened. But like I said, Man of Steel, for all of its faults is still a good movie and, if nothing else, can be improved upon. You know…give him one more good, solid, stand alone movie to really flesh out the character and let him come into his own as the Superman that people know and expect and we’ll be good to go.

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WELL SHIT!

Yep…as announced at San Diego Comic Con 2013, the sequel to Man of Steel is going to be the Batman vs Superman film (or whatever title they decide on). And sure, this is something that has been in the works before. And honestly, it has been a long time coming. The two pair up frequently and their dynamic is very intriguing. This was bound to happen. However, I don’t think it needed to happen yet. But…it is what it is. At least it will only focus on the reintroduction of Batman to this new universe and we’ll still see some hopefully good old fashioned Superman emerge…completely unhindered by any overcrowding of story and characters.

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#@!%&%^#@!!!!

Ok…so Batman vs Superman with at the very least cameo appearances by Wonder Woman, Nightwing and rumor also has it The Flash. Along with Lex Luthor and most of the returning cast from Man of Steel. Ok…we can roll with this. I mean X-Men: The Last Stand and Spider-Man 3 had A LOT going on, too, and those were good movies…oh…um…yeeeaaahhhh…..

Ok…it is what it is. Roll with those punches. Move on. Because you know what? There is a silver lining in this play book! The DC Universe has a savior and, believe it or not, it isn’t the Man of Steel or the Caped Crusader.

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That’s right boys and gir…well…BOYS! Green Lantern film scribe/producer Greg Berlanti and The CW have a massive hit on their hands in the form of Arrow, starring Stephen Amell as the emerald archer Green Arrow. This show does for Green Arrow what Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy did for Batman. It strips away the camp and grounds the character in a grim and gritty real world drama chock full of crime, corruption, scandal and family issues. And since Green Arrow doesn’t have the largest or most recognizable rogue’s gallery of villains it has done a hell of a job with reinventing some of the lesser knowns from across the DCU such as Deadshot, The Royal Flush Gang, Firefly and Count Vertigo. Plus it has recently launched the knowledge that Ras Al Ghul and the League of Assassins are out there and Spartacus alum, Manu Bennett, is playing one awesome Slade Wilson in the flashback sequences with the option on the table that he’ll soon enough become Deathstroke the Terminator. Fellow Spartacus veteran, Katrina Law, is signed on to join as Ras’ lesser known daughter Nyssa in future episodes and Amanda Waller was recently introduced (which makes room for the emergence of The Suicide Squad and/or Checkmate). Arrow has formed a very rich and intriguing universe on television for DC and it’s about to get bigger with the introduction of Barry Allen for a couple episodes (played by Glee‘s Grant Gustin) who is set to spin off in his own Flash series. Why does any of this matter in the grand scheme of Man of Steel 2: The Dark Knight Returns (or Batman vs Superman After Meeting Wonder Woman)? Well I’m glad you asked that! Going back to the Marvel/Disney archetype…Agents of SHIELD has proven that you can, in fact, seamlessly blend a film universe with a television series. Sure, it may not be the greatest or most interesting show and it’s ratings are consistently dropping each week (which simply means that there may not be a season 2) but it’s successfully doing what it needs to do, which is expand on the SHIELD organization and set up, albeit slowly, that Coulson (played well by Clark Gregg – as the best part of the show) actually did die in The Avengers and that he is now a robot/cyborg/android and therefore will be established as The Vision. THAT’S NOT A SPOILER ALERT. Don’t panic! It’s just my educated guess on where they are going with that particular storyline.

Anyways, back to the horcrux of the matter. Arrow and Flash are (and respectively will be) two solid pieces set in the same universe. Arrow is even on their way to establishing a potentially good Birds of Prey storyline as they have already introduced The Huntress, Black Canary and the clock tower. And if they can’t get Barbara Gordon in the mix then you have the character of Felicity who is also a glasses wearing hacker/communicator type.

The most important bit of news, though, is that it seems the powers that be have transmitted my hopes and dreams to the brains of the WB executives! Arrow star Stephen Amell recently, and cryptically, tweeted a photo of an old comic cover where Green Arrow joins the Justice League to his fans and rumor has it the suits want Grant Gustin to play the Flash cameo in the next feature (should his episodes of Arrow and the Flash pilot test well). This is exciting news because it means they are looking to the possibility of blending these two worlds into one. It’s a smart move and here’s why:

1. Marvel and Disney spent years, billions of dollars and a lot of fan anticipation on building the cinematic Avengers universe. DC and Warner Bros, so far, seems to have spent the time and cost of a board meeting. They need to rely on the stability of this established universe if they don’t want the concept of a Justice League movie to implode on them. You can’t just light a bunch of firecrackers with a short fuse and put them in a coffee can. It doesn’t end well. If DC isn’t willing to do what Marvel did then they have to make due with what they have. Fortunately for them, what they have is already working really well.

2. Unlike the Marvel Comics lineup, DC Comics characters just don’t necessarily translate well to feature films in their own cinematic franchises. Superman works. Batman works. Green Lantern COULD work and I’m honestly interested in seeing them continue with the Ryan Reynolds series because (A) it’s established and (B) was not so much of a travesty that it can’t be salvaged after enough time has gone by to wash out the bad taste. And Wonder Woman is as yet untested in theaters but has the potential to do well. But Green Arrow? Flash? Aquaman? Blue Beetle? Red Tornado? Booster Gold? There isn’t any cinematic value there. However, if done well enough, they are all strong enough candidates for quality TV shows that can bridge in and out of the Justice League series. And the melding doesn’t have to end with Stephen Amell and Grant Gustin showing up in Justice League or Man of Steel 2: Electric Bugaloo. I mean, sure, your not going to ever see Ben Affleck guest star on episode of Flash but there can be an episode of Arrow where Oliver Queen is reading a copy of the Daily Planet with a picture of Henry Cavill on the front page with a Lois Lane by line and a photo credit to Jimmy Olsen (yes! Jimmy Olsen! Screw that damn Jenny intern! What the hell?! It’s Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen. Not Superman’s Bitch What’s-Her-Name!). 

But anyway, yeah..it’s that easy. And suddenly you have a not-too-forced DC Universe on screen that, although not as strong and well thought out as the Marvel Universe, won’t be a total failure. And since I didn’t get to show any of the pictures up top, below are images of the established Black Canary and Huntress, Grant Gustin’s Barry Allen and a picture of Katrina Law to give you something to look forward to in Nyssa Al Ghul.

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Until next time, dear readers…