Justice League Trailer Thoughts

Geoff Johns was kind enough to share the new Justice League trailer with twitter this morning.

So let’s get this out of the way. I am not a Marvel v DC person. Obviously I realize there is competition between the two brand and their related movie studios. However,  I do not condone the childish mindset that I can only like the movies from one group. My favourite comic book films include DC and Marvel properties, ranging from The Dark Knight, X:Men DOFP to Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

With that said, I am cautiously optimistic about Justice League. I love the characters, especially Batman, but BatmanvSuperman and Suicide Squad have left a bad taste in my mouth. Don’t get me wrong, both films had great pieces and great moments. Overall. they felt short. Both had weak villians and weak third acts, along with some other issues.

As I watched this trailer I forgot about that for a moment. There is still no sign of Superman but I’m sure we’ll see him in the film. I am glad this film didn’t reveal too much about the plot or reveal the villain yet. We know it will be Darkseid’s uncle, Steppenwolf, and we get some glimpses of parademons (presumably) in this trailer.

From what I understand, Cyborg’s armour is derived from alien technology in the newer comics. It looks like his armour comes from a motherbox, a teleportation device Darkseid’s forces use. This motherbox appears to be the gateway that allows the parademons to reach earth. If this is the case, Cyborg could have a central role in the film and I am hoping the script and the actor can deliver.

To start, there is a lot of CGI in this trailer. Obviously that has to be the case for the visuals this story needs. The Flash looks amazing so far and his scenes are some of my favourites from the trailer. However, this trailer reminds me of 300 with the amount of computer generated backgrounds and surroundings. The scene with Batman fighting a parademon sticks out in my mind as one of the worst offenders. Maybe I wouldn’t notice as much if some of the effects looked better. Hopefully the effects are cleaned up by the time the film begins. Cyborg looks better than he did in the comic-con footage so I am hoping there is still time to improve the visuals.

With that being said, the visuals weren’t my greatest concern going into the film. Steppenwolf will hopefully provide a better villain than Doomsday, Luthor or Enchantress. This should help to strengthen the third act but won’t necessarily be enough. If the third act is just a fight filled with poor special effects, that can also cause the audience to lose interest, like I did with the last fight in BvS.

I am also hoping the desire to add more “fun” doesn’t ruin the script entirely. Obviously some characters are more light-hearted than others. However, Barry Allen has pretty much been turned into Wally West in terms of their personalities. Meanwhile it looks like they are trying to turn Bruce Wayne into Tony Stark. Obviously Bruce Wayne has the carefree, obnoxious playboy persona but the real Bruce Wayne has a drier sense of humour than the one we’ve seen so far.

Okay, time to be more positive.

Aquaman is one of my favourite superheroes, and is severely underrated by the general audience and even some comic book readers. Jason Momoa, as well as the writers, look like they’ll remedy that. I am sure that Aquaman or Flash will end up being the breakout stars of this film and possibly even the franchise. My only worry is Momoa’s acting skill, which isn’t that great from what I have seen so far. That doesn’t detract from my man crush, but it does bring up a possible issue with the film. We’ll see how he does.

In general, the action looks pretty awesome. Looking past the issue of the CGI, it looks like we’ll see some creative and memorable action sequences. It was great to see our first glimpse of J.K Simmons as Commissioner Gordon, and hear a reference to Robin since Batman is “playing well with others” again.

I can’t deny my excitement at seeing my favourite superheroes on screen together and I hope Zack Snyder delivers a film that lives up to the hype.

 

Ben Affleck Will No Longer Direct The Batman Solo Film

It would be an understatement to say that BatmanvSuperman got mixed reviews from professional critics and fans upon its release. Some argued it was one of the best comic book films ever made, others regarded it as a cinematic travesty. Personally, I found the film to be average. Jesse Eisenberg’s performance as Lex Luthor and the film’s third act were its greatest weaknesses in my opinion. The film asked interesting questions and had some amazing scenes, which made it even more frustrating that the entire film couldn’t be as powerful.

One thing that many people agreed on, whether they liked the film or not, is that Ben Affleck’s performance as Batman was amazing. Of course, there are some haters but many negative and positive reviews single out Affleck as a redeeming factor.

After Affleck’s portrayal many fans were excited to hear that he would be behind the camera and in front of it for the Batman solo film. Unfortunately, that dream will not come true. Perhaps we should have seen this coming. There was meme after meme making fun of Affleck’s apparent irritation with being asked about Batman, and even Affleck’s own statement that constant questions about the film are a “pain in the ass”.

Affleck says he is still committed to the film as an actor and producer, but feels like he would be unable to handle all three aspects well. Some may think this decision is tied to the recent box office and critical disappointment of Live By Night, but I believe that the attention this film received may have made Affleck hesitant to take on all the key responsibilities.

Now the question is who will direct this film. I feel that if Snyder were to direct, it would get a poor reception from the film geeks simply due to his name being attached. If IMDB is any indication, many people consider him one of the weakest cogs of the entire DC Extended Universe. It’s true that he is mainly a visual director, but I think he can do a great job if he also has a great script.

Earlier reports indicated Affleck and DC Comics Geoff Johns were writing the script for the film. While Live By Night may have faced less critical adoration that Gone Baby Gone, The Town or Argo I still like the odds of getting a good script from Affleck. Geoff Johns’s work with the New 52 has faced some mixed reviews but I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt for this script as well.

Off the top of my head, I would love to see what Denis Villeneuve would do with a Batman film. This is pretty much a pipe dream but I had to share it. I have not see Arrival yet, but Sicario and Prisoners, and love how he handles morally grey characters. Not to mention that his cinematography is amazing and is what made me think of him directing a Batman film.

Many of the best films I have seen relatively recently have not been from directors I knew or expected much from, with Deadpool and Ex-Machina being the best examples. Maybe Affleck’s decision is a blessing in disguise. Some new blood could be exactly what the DCEU needs.

Comic Book Stigma

Warning: Spoilers for BatmanvSuperman

Henry Cavill recently posted a picture on Instagram that revealed a close up of a black Superman suit. Superman was killed by Doomsday in BatmanvSuperman, but the film’s last scene implied that Superman will return. Following his death in the comics in the early 1990s (also at the hands of Doomsday) Superman returns with a black suit, with a white S logo. This new suit allowed him to absorb more solar energy and regenerate faster, since he needed to regain his strength. I know this latter piece of information from comic book fans online, whether it was through comments on articles or on Facebook.

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I avoid reading articles on Facebook since all the links to related material can lead to a social media spiral that takes up too much time. However, I gave in and finally decided to check out the comment section of one of the articles discussing Cavill’s picture. Since comic book films are so popular nowadays, I honestly thought that the stigma of comic books; the belief that readers are all basement dwelling, vampiric virgins was somewhat diminished. Obviously I knew the stigma still existed but the comments I read show the extent to which people still look down on viewers who actually know or care about the source material for their beloved films.

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Several people complained about the black costume as expected, some said it ripped off Batman, some said it only made Superman even darker (literally I guess, even though people complain about Superman not being “fun” enough). Comic book fans or people who were bothered to use Google, then advised the uninformed that the suit comes from a storyline in the comics.

The responses to this information? If I had to take a shot every time the word “virgin” popped up I would be passed out by the 25th comment. These people obviously care about the film enough to comment on the article, but they can’t take the time to use Google or heed the information they are given by comic book readers. To them, the comic books don’t matter. Who reads those things anyway? They are here about movies, the things that cool people watch.

This mindset reminds of me of Robert Downey Jr.’s character in Tropic Thunder, and the infamous “never go full retard” scene. In case you can’t watch the clip, and if you haven’t seen Tropic Thunder (get on that ASAP) Ben Stiller’s character is frustrated that his portrayal of a mentally challenged boy in one of his films was critically panned. Downey Jr. then explains that the critically lauded performances of mental disability, such as Rain Man, weren’t “full retard”. In more polite terms they didn’t have conditions that made them unable to function for the most part. In the case of Rain Man, Dustin Hoffman’s character was autistic.

It is now acceptable to love comic book films, but  actually reading and knowing about comics is deemed “full retard”. Never mind that the movies wouldn’t exist without the comics, and that the comics can often be better written than the films.

 

Suicide Squad Review- 6.5/10

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Before I began, don’t be discouraged by the number that I have to give. Suicide Squad has a lot of things to love, but it also has a list of things that I thought could have been much better. It is an entertaining film, but falls short of being a great one.

The film follows Task Force X, a group assembled by government operative Amanda Waller (Viola Davis). Task Force X is assembled to tackle dangerous missions, in return for reduced sentences. With bombs implanted in their necks, the group are nothing more than pawns who can be used and blamed for any government failures if need be.

Suicide Squad was one of my most anticipated films for this year and my most anticipated comic book film. We would get the first live-action, silver screen Harley Quinn and a new take on The Joker, one of my favourite fictional characters. Since so much of the film’s hype surrounded these two I figure I will start with them. Not only were they prominent in the marketing but they are also two of the film’s biggest highlights.

As a disclaimer, The Joker does not have that much screen time. I am not faulting the film for this since he is not a central part of the story. His screen time fits the grander narrative without overloading it. However, it appears many people felt misled by the marketing and see the short screen time as another fault of the film. A good portion of The Joker’s screen time comes from flashbacks, showing the transformation from Harleen Quinzel to Harley Quinn. These scenes are some of my favourite ones in the film. I can’t say whether I like this Joker as much as Heath Ledger’s but it is a tough comparison since I only have about twenty minutes to judge from this film. Additionally, this version of The Joker is much different.

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The tattoos and the grill aren’t explained here, but I hope they will be in future installments. Maybe there won’t be one cohesive explanation, maybe this version of The Joker is simply one that gets tattoos. While Heath Ledger’s was an anarchist who was willing to light a mountain of money on fire, this one appears to own a club as a revenue stream and a front for more illegitimate business. Brian Azzarello’s graphic novel Joker also had its main character involved in club management for revenue, so this change didn’t bother me. When it comes to this Joker’s appearance, you can either accept it or you can’t. If you can’t accept the look you’ll probably view the performance through a biased lens.

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From the limited screen time I did enjoy Leto’s take on the character. With the time we get, The Joker is more serious than some may be used to, but we have to realize that the Joker’s moments of pure insanity are best when they are balanced out with calmer ones. We get calm and we get mayhem. Deleted scenes will likely show more as well, there were about ten more minutes of Joker footage cut from the film from what I have heard.

Since The Joker’s plotline is intertwined with Harley Quinn in this film, we needed a strong Harley Quinn in order to strengthen the arc for both characters. Robbie delivered. Some people seemed worried that she didn’t have a Brooklyn accent but I can assure you she does. Also, she delivers much more than a Brooklyn accent. She is captivating, charismatic, funny while also displaying the violence and psychosis that makes her a villain. The Joker and Harley relationship has often been portrayed as one where Harley genuinely loves The Joker, while he often manipulates or abuses her. We get hints of that here and I look forward to seeing what the filmmakers do with the characters from this point on. While this film does still leave me excited for future DC films, it stands as a solo film better than the theatrical version of BatmanvSuperman does. Cameos and references to other DCEU characters are much more streamlined than some of the ones we had in BvS.

Aside from Harley, Will Smith is also great as Deadshot. People complained about a black actor getting the part, but as I’ve discussed before, people always defend whitewashing. If you don’t like white characters getting taken away, don’t just sit on the sidelines and tell me “It’s just a movie” when white actors portray minorities. Will Smith brings the same charisma and attitude from early roles like Men in Black and Independence Day, which may annoy some viewers. However, he still inhabits a new character well and doesn’t simply turn Deadshot into another role we’re used to.

Jay Hernandez is another memorable addition as El Diablo, who has one of the most interesting backstories in the film. Jai Courtney, who receives his fair share of hate online, also provides a great take on Captain Boomerang.

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Viola Davis is the reason I started watching How To Get Away With Murder and she is pretty good here as well. I loved how her character was written, embodying the Machiavellianism I remember from the Justice League television show.

Aside from these four, a lot of the other main characters are somewhat forgettable. I loved Joel Kinnaman in The Killing and House of Cards but he falls flat here for the most part. Katana is a cool character but has very little screen time. She is not a villain here, but is a bodyguard of sorts for Rick Flagg. Despite this association with the main group of the film, her and Killer Croc both have few lines. Most of their screen time comes in the final battle of the film. Speaking of Killer Croc, he was almost a caricature of a black person.

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Of course, Croc is mutated but the comics depict him as being a mutated black person. In this film we get a “black” character who calls Harley “shorty” and makes only one request from the prison guards, “BET”. Yeah, more pressing issues in the world but could not help notice.

Like X:Men Apocalypse, this film brings up the issue of how to introduce and handle multiple characters in a team film. Apocalypse struggled with developing The Four Horseman (with the exception of Magneto) and the younger versions of Jean, Jubilee and Nightcrawler. Suicide Squad struggles with Croc, Katana and its villain. Many people expected Enchantress to be the main villain. She is one of them, but there is another one introduced who is poorly developed and also sports the worst CGI in the film.

This ultimately makes the third act somewhat dull in comparison to what came before. The third act does have some highlights, mainly from El Diablo and The Joker. However, it left me underwhelmed the same way the third act in BatmanvSuperman did.

Suicide Squad also brings up the issue of forcing a film to be lighter or more “fun”. The company that edited the trailer was brought in to make the film less somber, and the film ends up bloated with songs, especially in the first hour. When I say songs I don’t just mean the score. A good chunk of the film ends up being a music video. There is a ten minute stretch where there are two different montages with two different songs. First, there is Eminem’s Without Me, and then The White Stripes’ Seven Nation Army. It honestly might have been less than ten minutes. This frequent song use continues for the most of the first half of the film, dying down to a reasonable level near the climax. It was entertaining at first, but became excessive pretty quick. My friend wondered if the film spent half its budget on song rights. I could not help but think that some scenes would have been better without music blaring over them.

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The use of purple Lamborghini was perfect though, that song is fire.

Coming from someone who loves musical interludes in films, I have to say that this work of post-production editing damaged the final product. The same thing happened with BatmanvSuperman. It seems like the studio needs to have more faith in its directors.

There is a lot to love in Suicide Squad, but also a lot that needed to be improved. Maybe I am a fanboy but I am still excited for Justice League. I only hope that it doesn’t have the same issues with post-production that BatmanvSuperman and Suicide Squad had.

Batffleck Movie Will Be An Original Story

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You can also watch my video on this topic.

BatmanvSuperman definitely got its fair share of hate but even some of the most vitriolic reviews praise Ben Affleck’s performance as Batman. I gave BatmanvSuperman a 6.5/10 but Ben Affleck is a big part of its re-watchability and once the film was done I remained excited about the batman solo film.

Anyone following my Twitter or Instagram will know that I was hoping for an adaptation of the Red Hood storyline. However, Ben Affleck confirmed that if he were to write the film (which he is), that he would make the story an original one.

Geoff Johns, DC’s Chief Creative Officer, is co-writing and will likely have a great deal of influence on the script as well.

The desire to go with an original story does bring up two issues for me.

1) Ben Affleck’s Main Justification

Affleck stated that he would want to use an original story due to the element of unpredictability. Like BvS, the Batman film will borrow elements from other comics and combine them into a new story. The audience would not know exactly what to expect. This logic does fall flat for me since the excitement of most book adaptations is the anticipation of seeing certain characters and events play out in a different medium. For example, many Game of Thrones fans eagerly awaited the television adaptation of moments like The Red Wedding and a big part of the excitement was the predictability. The predicability can also give way to suspense.

If story lines or characters are being excluded simply to make the story less predictable, then the changes may not always add value to the character and story.

2) Characters/Story Lines Could Be Prematurely Used

One issue that many fans of the film, myself included, had with Doomsday was that his inclusion felt poorly developed. Obviously Doomsday does not need to recite a soliloquy detailing his murderous intentions, but his origin is more interesting in the comics. Also, some poorly rendered CGI took away from the gravitas of the final fight. Now that Doomsday and Superman have already died in this film’s universe, this removes the option of seeing a full Death of Superman arc on screen. The storyline was used (arguably too early) and now must be retired.

I worry that the same thing could happen if pieces of story lines such as Red Hood or Injustice are cobbled together.

Affleck has proven himself to be a good writer. I know reception of the New 52 has been mixed, but I do hear that some of John’s work with DC is amazing so I am hoping that the solo Batman film still delivers an engaging DC story.

The Irony of the MCU

 

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I saw Captain America: Civil War recently and I currently rank it as my second favourite MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) film, with The Winter Soldier still being #1 for me. Despite the love I have for some of the MCU, I can’t help but notice the criticism people always levy at DC films. I am no DC “fanboy”, I recognize that they don’t have as solid a film universe, since they got a later start on it. However, I have previously discusses my disdain for people who say that DC movies have a problem with their tone. Many negative reviews will at least mention the darker tone of the DC universe films as being a problem, as if darker=worse.I realize that Marvel has dark properties on Netflix, like Daredevil and Jessica Jones, but I made this post specifically to discuss the MCU on the big screen. Reading comprehension is a dying art, so let me break this down a little further. I am not saying that BvS or Man of Steel are amazing. MOS was a 7.5 for me and BvS a 6.5. I am not saying these films have no flaws. I am saying that I don’t think their tone is one of their flaws.

Obviously BvS had issues aside from its tone (I’m looking at you Eisenberg) but I can’t stand this relatively
new idea that darkness is a bad thing in itself, and that “dark” and “good” are mutually exclusive. Of course, there have been dark comic book films that have been relatively well received, like The Dark Knight and the more recent example of X-Men: Days of Future Past. However, times are changing. Go to Rotten Tomatoes and see how many negative reviews of Apocalypse mention the “dark”, “grim”, “joyless” tone as being an issue. I’ll wait.

There is a pervasive mentality that a comic book movie must be “fun”. It shouldn’t take itself too seriously and should have plenty of comic relief, otherwise it has failed as a film. The MCU is now held up as the standard of comic relief and as the benchmark for the tone that a comic book film should have. It is easy to see why people latched onto them since they have had the most prolific comic book film output of any studio.

What I find ironic, is that the “fun” mentality is what held comic book films back for so long. Many critics and members of the general public who flock to see MCU films now would have once scoffed at the idea of a critically revered comic book film. Of course there are classics like Superman (1978) but Superman did not usher in an era of consistent comic book films and box-office domination by comic book films. This era started slowly with films like Blade, then X-Men and then Spider-Man. Then came Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy and then the birth of the MCU with Iron Man.

Many critics once thought comic book films would never have the success they do now. They might be silly fun, but no one would take such films seriously. The idea of Oscar winners or nominees regularly starring in comic book films would have been deemed preposterous. Marlon Brando’s appearance in Superman was such a big deal due to the pedigree that he brought to the film. The first big successes of the modern era (Blade and X-Men) used a tone that many would now view as overly dramatic, “dark”, “pretentious” etc. but that is what allowed comic book films to gain more popularity and critic recognition. If it weren’t for these films we might not have the MCU. Yet everyone now forgets the stigma comic book films had to overcome and wants everything to be “fun” and “colourful”. There was a time when people thought that was all comic book films would have to offer, and it seems like fans now want history to repeat itself.

 

Injustice: Two Sides of the Same Coin

Good morning everyone, have another blog post up on comicommand. Feel free to check it out there, but I’ve also copied it below. As I’ve mentioned before, comicommand is always looking for new writers so feel free to reach out for a chance to share any original comic-book related articles.

 

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Written By Cadeem Lalor

In 2013, NetherRealm Studios (best known for Mortal Kombat) released Injustice: Gods Among Us. In an alternate universe, The Joker tricks Superman into killing Lois Lane and his unborn child. The Joker uses scarecrow’s fear toxin to make Superman think he sees Doomsday. Superman responds by pushing Doomsday into space, and it is too late by the time he killed a pregnant Lois Lane.  Superman kills The Joker and then establishes a new world order. Five years later, Batman summons the Justice League from the mainstream continuity in order to defeat his Superman.

The game also had a related comic book tie-in that details the five years leading up to the game. When I first heard about the series I thought it would be a cheap cash-in, but a friend recommended the comics and I was soon hooked. The comics are currently in year five, but the writing has been weaker since writer Tom Taylor left the project mid-way through year three. Taylor’s work is sorely missed and I want to take a look back at what made his work on the series so great, namely the characterization of Superman and Batman.

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Firstly, the writing itself was amazing.  Like The Walking Dead, I found that the artwork took a little getting used to, but it was this line that convinced me I should give the comic a chance: “Our world is now ruled by the iron fist of a Man of Steel.” Maybe it’s simple, but it’s also an eloquent way to introduce a version of Superman that is so far removed from the one we are used to.

The strength of the prequel hinged on the believability of Superman’s transformation into a murdering dictator, and Taylor’s work captures it well. I remember watching Batman: Under The Red Hood and hearing Batman say why he chooses not to kill The Joker. Batman knows that if he allows himself to kill just one person, even someone as despicable as The Joker, it becomes too easy to justify making the same decision for every other criminal: “If I go down that road, I’m never coming back.”

I never really understood Batman’s point at the time. I thought it would be easy to make an exception but I see the moral of the story play out with Superman. The Joker had been playing games with Batman for much longer, trying to get Batman to snap. Superman was “easy mode”.  While Superman has faced loss, it is implied that Batman may be mentally tougher. In the comics, Superman has lost his biological parents, his adoptive father, his cousin and an entire planet, but he does not have memories of those people to mourn. Meanwhile, Batman was a witness to his parent’s murder from a younger and highly impressionable age.

Taylor’s work also demonstrates how Superman doesn’t initially become a dictator due to the desire for power. Ultimately, he feels betrayed by Batman. He blames Batman for not killing The Joker earlier and even accuses Batman of loving The Joker. Superman feels as if his best friend cares about a psychopath more than him. Even when the two come to blows over Batman’s attempts to bring the regime down, Superman can’t bring himself to kill Batman, opting to paralyze him instead.

In this fight, we also see Superman resort to torture to get information out of Batman. This was always one of the biggest differences between the characters, and Batman is quick to point out how far Superman has fallen.

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Superman and Batman have always differed in their methods of crime fighting, with Batman being the morally grey figure who was open to torturing criminals. This conflict between the two characters also seems to imply that while Batman may embrace his anger and vengeful side more often, that is what prevented him from truly becoming like the criminals they fight against. Batman had his outlet for his issues, while Superman held himself to a higher standard that only made it easier for him to fall.

As the series progresses, we see that Wonder Woman is eager to step in to replace Lois Lane. She is a key figure that whispers in his ear and guides him to embrace his violent tendencies. Her ancient military background makes her more open to the idea of a dictatorship and her admiration for Superman, as a warrior and friend, makes her more likely to support him. Overtime, we see Superman’s unresolved grief for Lois, and his anger towards Batman transform him into a fearsome dictator.

Since leaving Injustice, Taylor has worked on Superior: Iron Man and several independent titles. The current state of the comics makes it clear that DC suffered a big loss, especially since Taylor could have also transitioned into working on other titles. Fortunately, the first two years of Injustice will always be there as a testament to his work.

 

More Marvel Brainwashing

Due to my schedule for tomorrow, it’s likely that there won’t be a blog post up for Friday night. However, there should still be one up for Saturday and Sunday. I’m also planning on doing a YouTube video over the weekend as well.

Some early reviews of X: Men Apocalypse are in and the film currently has a 56% on Rotten Tomatoes. After seeing the unwarranted trashing that BatmanvSuperman got, I am not going to let the reviews impact my attendance. BvS was a 6.5 in my opinion, but the 32% it has on Rotten Tomatoes is unwarranted. BvS does have legitimate faults such as Eisenberg’s Luthor and the third act, and I have heard many complaints I can understand, even if I don’t agree. The one complaint I can’t stand is that the tone is an issue. The film is “too dark” “too gloomy”, too “depressing”. The problem is that people now think “dark” and “good” are mutually exclusive. Apparently you can’t have one without the other in a comic book movie, unless it’s for a certain character. People are so used to the MCU’s light-hearted tone that anything that is darker is instantly disparaged. Think I’m exaggerating? Check out this review I found with a quick Google search of “X-Men apocalypse”.

Most of the criticism is levied at the film’s tone. Too “gloomy”, “dour”, not enough fun. Most of the review just compares the X-Men film to MCU films, saying it is different than them and therefore inferior. That is not how a review of a different franchise should work. Judge the film as a single unit. The last paragraph wraps the review up with comparisons to the MCU. Although the author says that every film doesn’t need the MCU’s level of banter, she obviously does not mean that if the tone bothered her so much. This mindset that dark now equals bad, is a perfect example of corporate brainwashing.

Updates

This marks the third day of my commitment to blog everyday, so far so good, but there are still plenty of days to go.

Although my novels are science-fiction, my blog has always explored a range of subjects. I write about movies and comics, but I also write about race and politics. I know that may dissuade some people but it is who I am. I am not diluting my interests for the people who may feel threatened by the views that I try to express in a rational manner.

When it comes to my daily post, I often write about what is on my mind. An article, a comment by a friend, anything can end up being the inspiration for an article. Since it is Friday now, I figured that a lighter blog post was in order. I’m checking out Captain America: Civil War tomorrow and I am excited. As I expected, the film has already been met with near critical acclaim. Although I love Marvel and DC I can’t help but feel somewhat apprehensive since I know the Marvel brainwashing is very powerful.

However, I’m still excited. I have dbox seats for tomorrow and will be putting up a review tomorrow night or Sunday at the latest. I am planning to do a written review as well as a YouTube video. I’ve been avoiding any promotional videos since the first trailer came out because I don’t want too much spoiled. I hear Tom Holland is amazing as Spider-Man so we’ll see what he brings to the table. I haven’t heard much about Chadwick Boseman as The Black Panther but I think he’ll kill it and hopefully build some hype for the Black Panther film.

Archetypes Creating Archetypes

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This post was originally written for comicommand.com-

https://comicommand.com/2016/04/24/archetypes-creating-archetypes/

Written By Cadeem Lalor

My last article examined how films can impact the comic book industry and since I have posted that article, I have also thought of how comics are impacted by other media. Aquaman is one of my favourite comic book characters and a great deal of his backstory is rooted in pre-existing mythological elements, such as Atlantis. The same goes for Wonder Woman, who is heavily rooted in Greek mythology. Additionally, Marvel and DC comics both have their own version of Hercules. Comic book creation as a whole is a cycle where pre-existing archetypes are often altered to create something that is either (arguably) new or a hybrid of other elements.

The character of Superman himself can be seen as a superhero archetype, with his morals and some of his powers being found in numerous superheroes that followed. Yet Superman also takes inspiration from previous works, begging the question of where homage and inspiration can really be traced.

In Man of Steel, Dr. Emil Hamilton warns Superman that he could possibly be carrying an alien pathogen, to which Superman responds that he has not infected anyone in his thirty-three years on Earth.  I am not a religious person by any means, and although I was raised Christian I no longer practice. Yet I couldn’t help but notice that was the same age Jesus dies.

The Superman/Jesus allegory is also clearly present in Clark’s backstory. A man sends his only son to Earth, who is then adopted by Mary (Martha) and Joseph (Jonathan Kent). Of course the names aren’t identical but the similarity is still undeniable. Superman Returns also slapped audiences across the face with Christ imagery when Superman falls to earth in the final act, with his arms spread wide. Returns also focuses on the importance of Superman’s return, with Superman referred to as a “savior” throughout the film. Dawn of Justice(spoilers) also depicts the Death of Superman, which will be followed by his resurrection. Death and revival are universal themes, but when combined with all the biblical similarities, the Jesus comparison is the most obvious one. Interestingly, the marketing for Man of Steel even includes a website where pastors can access more information on the similarities between Superman and Jesus, in order use the universal themes to teach their congregations. Author Stephen Skelton, also claims that a non-Christian friend told him that Superman Returns “…spoke more to me about Jesus than The Passion of the Christ.”

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Since the Jesus allegory is clear and also well documented I will move on to creative influences that are probably not as well known. Some may remember the film John Carter, or maybe not since it was a box-office flop (relative to its budget) and got average reviews at best. Its source material, The Barsoom Stories feature John Carter, a man who is transported to Mars. Once on Mars his strength and speed outstrip those of the native Martians due to Mar’s reduced gravity. Sound familiar?

Philip Wylie’s Gladiator (1930) is also viewed as another influence on the Superman mythos (Feeley 177), despite the creators of Superman never publicly acknowledging its influence (Feeley 179). Gladiator depicts the life of Hugo Danner, a man with Superhuman abilities acquired after his father injects his pregnant mother with a serum (Feeley 178). Danner’s abilities include superhuman strength and invulnerability and the book focuses on his desire to find his place in the world (Feeley 178). Aside from these general similarities, Danner also adopts a costume and a secret identity throughout his life and his moral compass also mirrors Superman’s (Feeley 178). If such a character were created now it would be difficult to ascribe the creation to a single, or even a few different characters. However, Gladiator’s publication a year before Superman’s, at a time when such stories were relatively uncommon does make it more likely that Superman’s creation was influenced by Wylie’s work.

An amazon review of Skelton’s book, The Gospel According to the Greatest Superhero in the World, is quick to criticize Skelton for making great leaps in his analysis: of seeing allegories and comparisons where there are none. As the reviewer says ” Superman is, and has always been, primarily a pop culture icon intended to entertain, not a symbolic figure meant to remind us of Christ.” This review goes on to argue that the nitpicking comes at the expense of some of the most obvious allegories. This “nitpicking” includes some details such as Superman being an only son sent to Earth.

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I can’t argue that every point Skelton, or any other author will make, was an intended reference by Superman’s creators. However, I think it is also important not to think that fictional characters are created in a vacuum. Our fictional creations are shaped by our desires and our circumstances. Jerry Siegel and Joel Shuster may have been Jewish, but it’s possible that omnipresent stories of Jesus could affect their writing. Especially since the authors cite the biblical stories of Moses and Samson as being inspirations. Terrible creations like Fifty Shades of Grey wouldn’t exist if the author didn’t write out her fantasies. Was she intending to entertain too? Of course, but the material she released for entertainment came from somewhere. The same logic applies to comic book characters such as Superman.

Superman is a pop culture icon, and I did not write this piece to argue that he is a sign of the second coming or a rip-off. I only state the fact that previous works, ranging from the bible to early science fiction led to the creation of one of the most popular characters ever created.

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Works Cited

Feeley, George. “Review: When World-Views Collide: Philip Wylie in the Twenty-First Century.” Science Fiction Studies 32.1 (2005): 177-182. Print.