Kingdom Come: Gods and Humans

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Kingdom Come

Written by Cadeem Lalor

I started reading Mark Waid and Alex Ross’s Kingdom Come (1996) just earlier today. Kingdom Come follows an alternate reality where a new hero, Magog, became a revered figure after killing The Joker. Meanwhile, the public’s long gestating fatigue with Superman’s “boy scout” persona led him to go into exile. With Superman gone, the rest of the league followed. Ten years later, the world is overrun by a new legion of super-powered beings that lack the moral fortitude and care for human life that the Justice League had. It was a title that came with a lot of hype, but I believe it has managed to live up to expectations. Within five pages, it got me thinking about something.

In the story, Norman McCay acts as a vessel for the Spectre, and also serves as a narrator of sorts. As he ruminates on the past he remembers a friend who recently passed away. He remembers his friend missing the human desire for achievement, manifested through competitions such as the Nobel Prize or the Olympics. In this world, where people are surrounded by god-like beings, it makes sense that human achievement is no longer as valued. Yet I don’t believe the question has ever been approached in such a way. Many comic books and adaptations bring up the issue of humans admiring, mistrusting or fearing super-humans. Yet none of the ones I have read have examined how social and political institutions or functions could change due to a new breed of people. Humans are used to being the center of life on Earth. Our collective achievements are what give everyday life meaning. Would we be as motivated to work out, knowing that there is a race of people whose strength we can never attain. Would we be as motivated to achieve academically if we know that the end goal, a lucrative career or recognition likely won’t come?

Competitions like The Olympics and Nobel Prize can be mired by a host of issues, but they are fundamentally meant to celebrate competition and human skill. Each event is a testament to the will and training of the people competing. Meanwhile the Nobel Prize serves as a chronicle of scientific, economic and literary advancement. With these events, we see humans striving to understand more of their world and attempt to take away power from gods, giving more power to the people. In the world of Kingdom Come, humans have given up on deciding their own destiny. They are at the mercy of super-humans. Even when Superman and the Justice League return, the public does not immediately feel empowered, they only shift their burden to new figures. Perhaps one group of super-humans makes the issue more obvious, but the issues persist either way. While the humans seek hope, there is little to come.

 

Batman v Superman Review

Like Star Wars: Episode VII, this was another review where I had to seriously collect my thoughts before putting words to paper. Initially, BvS was my most anticipated comic book film of 2016. The teaser was tense, dramatic and set the film up perfectly. Then the second trailer came, showing more of Luthor and revealing doomsday. I know many people argue that the doomsday reveal wasn’t a spoiler since we knew there would be another villain in the film, but that is no excuse to give away the villain early. There are some reveals that are best saved for the film itself. The doomsday CGI looked sketchy and had me wondering how good the final fight would be.

Then the third trailer came along, showing more of Batfleck, especially the warehouse fight scene. This film became highly anticipated again, below Suicide Squad but above Captain America: Civil War. I saw it one day after its release and the news of the poor reviews was prevalent by then, but since I liked Man of Steel and knew how poorly reviewed that film was I didn’t let the negative reviews bother me. Even the editor of Rotten Tomatoes, was baffled by the poor reviews Man of Steel received and pleaded that it was a good film.

 

With all that said, I simply want to say that I did not let negative reviews of this film affect my perception of it: Especially since a lot of criticism revealed around the film being “too dark”. I have explained why this is simply factually incorrect and is a product of people simply being too used to Marvel films.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rRKy226tmCk

 

I explained my argument about darkness in depth in that video but I will go over it again here. 2008 saw The Dark Knight become a critical hit, with its dark and serious tone that contributed to many critics seeing it as the pinnacle of comic book filmmaking. Since then it seems like there has been a huge backlash against darkness in comic book films. With the exception of The Dark Knight Rises, most of the critically revered comic book films that followed were marvel studio properties. Marvel began to establish a dynasty; starting off small with Iron Man and cementing a solid reputation by the time The Avengers (2012) came out. Before I come across as a DC fanboy I want to say that I love both universes and the prospect of a shared universe in the Marvel films made me feel like a kid again.

 

However, as time has gone on I have also noticed a pervasive similarity among the Marvel films: A light tone, with plenty of humour. There is nothing wrong with a light tone or humour. Some Marvel films handled it well, with the best examples being the Captain America films and Guardians of the Galaxy. However, some handle it poorly, with the Thor films being the best example. Loki brings good humour to the stories but then we also get Kat Dennings’s and Natalie Portman’s contributions.
When a comedy writer was brought in to lighten the tone of Thor 3: Ragnarok, it became obvious that the insistence on humour could be a problem sometimes. Marvel studios president Kevin Fiege argued that they didn’t want the film differing too much in tone from the other marvel properties. Therein lies the problem. Ragnarok is a doomsday story; it should be darker than the other properties. The real reason it needs to stay light is so that it stays appealing to Marvel’s audience of kids and families.

 

In the comics, some character stories will have lighter issues than others. The same character may even fluctuate between darker and lighter stories. Good writers are able to handle these tonal shifts and make them feel natural. A great example was the Justice League animated series, which balanced different character personalities, villains and storylines in expert fashion. That is what Marvel studios should strive for as well, instead of trying to turn every character into a comedian who spouts one-liners every five minutes. If every Marvel or DC film had the same tone I think the properties would get stale.

 

Obviously Marvel has darker properties, like Daredevil and Jessica Jones. However, those are Netflix shows, which are cheaper than Hollywood films and target a more mature, niche audience. Marvel can take more risks with the tone since they don’t have to worry as much about scaring away families and kids. If Thor 3 gets rewrites for being too dark, there is no way Marvel would give us the same R-Rated version of The Punisher in a big screen adaptation. The Netflix shows do help to add variety to Marvel’s offerings but I wish we could see a darker property like Blade back on the big screen instead of having to either settle for a Netflix show, or a Disney-fied version of the character on the big screen.

 

Another example of the disneyfication is the character of Tony Stark in Civil War. At the very end of the trailer he calls Spider-Man “underoos” before Spider-Man swings into the mcu for the first time. I do not mean to nitpick or bash the movie for one line. The line is fine. What I want to say is, that line would seem very out of character for the version of Tony Stark we see in the Civil War comics. The comics version of Tony Stark (in these specific comics) is much more quiet and introspective. He does not spout a single one-liner throughout the story arc and might come across as “too dark” “brooding” etc. for people who get their idea of the character from Marvel’s films. That simply illustrates my point about the “Disneyfication” of characters and how audiences can get too used to seeing these versions of the characters and then compare all other adaptations to the same tone. Hence all the talk of MOS and Bvs being “too dark”. Marvel has had time to stamp itself onto the public consciousness, setting themselves up as the benchmark that all other comic book films will be compared to. Everything is relative, and if people are used to Marvel’s tone then obviously a film like Bvs will come across as too dark. That is why I did not pay attention to criticisms of the film being too dark and that is why I don’t personally agree. As soon as someone criticizes Bvs for its “dark” tone it makes it clear that they have very little knowledge of the characters and are simply brainwashed by Marvel’s films.

 

Review
The Good

 

Firstly, Batfleck was awesome. I was on the fence about his casting, but he killed the role as Bruce Wayne and Batman. The suit was the best we’ve seen on the big screen so far in terms of its aesthetics and functionality. The batman voice is created by a microphone in the cowl and is the best one we’ve heard yet.

 

This version of Bruce Wayne is an older Batman who routinely suffers from nightmares and is pessimistic about human nature and his significance in the fight against crime, which factors heavily into his conflict with Superman. The nightmare scene in the film may cause confusion for viewers who are not familiar with the character of Darkseid and the injustice comics. Although the references to these characters and storylines were a treat for me, I can see why they would be confusing for other viewers.

 

Jeremy Irons was great as Alfred, which was expected since he was the only casting decision I had no reservations about. I wish we could have seen more of his Alfred, but that is probably an indicator of his success with the role. This version of Alfred has a more hands-on role in Batman’s crusade but is also a figure that makes it clear he would rather see Wayne hang up the suit permanently.

 

Henry Cavill exceeds his performance in the first film (which was decent) with his portrayal of a Superman who is now the center of controversy and criticism from the public, the media and the government. More than ever, he questions his role in the world and his doubts have led some viewers to consider him “too moody” “too dark” etc. However, I think the character’s outlook fits the story and the events he goes through. However, I do hope that in the next installments, we start to see more of the optimism people typically associate with the character. Superman is not a lighter character than Batman because bad things never happen to him, he is lighter because of his attitude about human nature and the future.

 

Gal Gadot was a pleasant surprise as Wonder Woman and leaves me more excited for the solo film, although carrying a solo film is obviously a much bigger task. Aside from a line or two that seemed wooden, I thought Gadot had great screen presence and brought amazing strength and appeal to the character.

 

I have heard some people say that the set up for the Justice League could have used more than one film, and I can agree with that. All the news of cameos had me worried the film would be far too packed. Ultimately, the cameos were worked in well.

 

Minor Spoiler

 

The cameos are archived footage that Luthor has been collecting on metahumans. In total, the clips are less than five minutes but give us our first glimpse of some of the Justice League. I thought this was a great way to introduce the characters that took little screen time and also did not come across as too tacked on. There is some criticism that the cameos were too short, or seemed like the type of footage you would get on a dvd extra. Yet some of these same people also complain that the film tried to do too much. BvS simply can’t win sometimes.

 

The Bad

 

When Jesse Eisenberg was cast as Luthor, many hopeful fans said that he would surprise us with a great performance, just like Heath Ledger did as the joker. People forgot tat Ledger was an exception to the rule. Eisenberg proves that a questionable casting decision does not work out well. Batfleck impressed but it seems like we asked for too much with Eisenberg.

 

The version of Luthor we see here is Lex Luthor’s son, which just begs the question of why we don’t get Lex instead. The character could have been interesting. The writing implied that he did not have a good relationship with his father but is still trying to fill his father’s shoes. The writing itself was actually pretty good, in terms of dialogue at least. The issue is Eisenberg’s acting. In terms of Luthor’s behaviour and mannerisms it seems like Snyder was aiming for a character like Jake Gyllenhaal’s in Nightcrawler.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=18ZDiRsbEZA

 

Instead we get a hyperactive spaz who brings a level of campiness to the movie whenever he is on screen. Since Luthor has a decent chunk of screen time and sets up the third act conflict his presence greatly contributed to the 6.5/10.

 

Speaking of the third act, the trailers showed that Doomsday would be the villain for a final fight with The Trinity (Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman). This fight was also one of the weaker parts of the film for me. It had great elements, such as Wonder Woman and her contribution. However, it also had spotty CGI. Doomsday does not look any better than the footage we saw from the trailer and the CGI detracts from the tension and enjoyment of the fight. The Batman warehouse fight (partly shown in the third trailer) was far more enjoyable and memorable in my opinion.

 

Overall, the film sets up the Justice League pretty well but I do not want to give it extra points just for that. A movie ultimately needs to stand on its own. Of course, a film can hint at events to come but there also needs to be a solid foundation that makes the film enjoyable as a solo piece. BvS is not amazing, but it is also not the cinematic abomination that many people label it as.

 

Spoilers

 

The Martha Scene

 

This scene has already spawned heated criticism and memes. I just want to add a quick note on why I actually liked it and that all the criticism seems to miss the point of the scene. Batman does not spare Superman’s life because “Your mom has the same name! Besties!” Although people like to rant about how movies spoon-feed them too much, this seems like a case where people need to be spoon-fed. The scene isn’t about Superman’s mom having the same name. It is about a terrifying god-like figure (in Batman’s eyes) being reduced to a man that wants to save his mom. The common desire to protect their families is what makes Batman spare Superman’s life. If you can’t understand that scene, then I think that is your problem and not the film’s.

 

 

Batman is Not Fat- and Neither is Ben Afleck

Maybe I am still just wasting breath writing this, but I need to vent.

 

Yesterday, Empire revealed its latest issue, with Batfleck gracing the cover. To myself, and many others, the picture looks amazing. However, I soon got sucked into the idiotic online comments concerning Ben Afleck’s weight. On Empire’s Instagram most of the comments (at the time) pictured laughing emoticons and statements like “RIP DC” or “Why’s Batman fat lol”.

 

Now, I generally hate to give idiots online too much attention. However, I cannot believe that all of these comments come from online trolls. Last year’s first picture of Batman was also subjected to the same criticism by tabloids, news outlets and supposed fans of the comics. The large bat logo and the short ears were seen as a stupid change, despite the fact that those were pulled straight from Frank Miller’s batman design. I understand that everyone isn’t a comic book fan, but I have a hard time understanding why people cannot use the Internet to look up information for themselves. Ever seen someone post a question online, in a comment section or on yahoo answers, that they could easily Google themselves?

 

Making a comic book film is always a tough balance of appealing to comic book fans and the general public, and sadly it seems that a comic book film must pay more attention to the general public. Not only for financial reasons, but also because the general public will be the most likely to go into a film with an inaccurate conception of a character, and then use online outlets to spread bad word of mouth. It is a fact that people tend to get attached to whatever comes first. For many people, their first live-action, Hollywood batman was Michael Keaton. Once they saw him on screen many said that no one would ever top him. For others, they saw Christian Bale first, then many said no one would ever top him. When the next adaption of Batman graces the screen there will be people saying no one will ever top Ben Afleck.

 

Until that time, we have the people attached to Bale and Christopher Nolan’s depiction of Batman. I loved Nolan’s work as well and I loved Bale as Batman (except for the bat voice), but I have the ability to judge other takes impartially, instead of letting bias overpower reason and objectivity. I wish I didn’t have to brag about that, but it seems like it is a dying art in this day and age.

 

The depiction of Batman’s personality and struggle in Nolan’s series was exceptional (more so in the first two), but Nolan’s series had some differences and weaknesses in comparison to this version.

 

Firstly, Batman is usually depicted around 210 pounds in the comics. I realize that I posted it as 240 in my Instagram post yesterday. My mistake, one episode of DCAU’s Justice League had it listed as that but I figure it is better to go off of the wider canon of the comics. Bale was around 190 pounds throughout Nolan’s series so it looks like Afleck is actually the closest in size to a comic book version of Batman. Many comics depict Batman and Superman as being around the same size and it looks like Afleck is around the same size as Cavill in this role. Would you consider Henry Cavill fat? The costume and Afleck’s size look heavily inspired by the critically revered Arkham video games as well, which are in turn inspired by the comics. Then again, people are not looking at this objectively. They like Nolan and Bale, they want to see more of Nolan and Bale and they will hate anything else. Then there are also people who struggle to like both DC and Marvel films because they have been brainwashed to think they can only like on or the other. I’ll be doing a blog post on Saturday about that as well.

 

Some may think that Afleck’s size makes Batman too bulky, too slow, but let’s try to be objective again. Although Bale was smaller, he was stiff and slow in the suit. I understand the actor struggled with movement, but the character should not and perhaps some editing could have helped to make the fights more convincing. Afleck’s speed should not be a concern if we are mindlessly comparing everything to Nolan’s interpretation. There is a clip from the comic con trailer, at 2:40, where we see Batman gliding from one opponent to another as he delivers a beat down. From that clip, it looks like we have a faster, more agile Batman than the one we had in Nolan’s trilogy.

 

When the costume was revealed, and appeared to be similar to the Arkham games (a grey, flexible, Kevlar-like material), I was hoping that we would see a faster and more agile Batman. It looks like Snyder will deliver that. People may have a hard time believing someone as big as this Batman will also be quick and stealthy, but if we can suspend disbelief about an alien with heat vision maybe we can suspend disbelief about this too. Bruce Wayne has trained his body to peak condition for the pursuit of justice. He is not your typical gym meathead. He is muscular, powerful, agile, acrobatic and flexible.

 

We have two more months to see what Ben Afleck’s batman will offer, but I think the facts show that there is a good chance I’m right when I say that we will not have a fat batman.

Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman and Women’s Weight

It is now less than two years until “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” will hit theaters. The first picture of Ben Afleck as Batman has helped to assuage some of the worries concerning his casting, because at the very least, many fans appear happy with the character’s look. The new character we have yet to see is Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman, and although no official pictures have been released yet fans and blogs have been quick to collect images of Gadot on and off set over the past few months.

http://www.superherohype.com/news/302711-a-better-look-at-gal-gadot-on-the-batman-vs-superman-set#/slide/1

I have never seen Gadot in any films aside from three in the Fast and Furious Series. Her lines were few and far in between, and she was a black hole of charisma whenever she did get the chance to speak. Then again, I also thought Henry Cavill was terrible in “Immortals” but he impressed me with his portrayal of Superman. Perhaps I can wait until the film is released before I judge Gadot’s acting.

Another issue with Gadot’s casting is her physique. Looks are not everything when it comes to a role, but certain roles do, or should, require a certain look. Cavill bulked up for Superman and it looks like Afleck is doing the same for Batman. Then there’s Gal Gadot. In Fast Five, the filmmakers made sure to fit in a scene of Gadot in a bikini in order to appeal to the horny male audience who buys tickets with their dicks. Instead of being pleased by the view, I could not help but focus on how thin Gadot was. She is after all a runway model, a woman that embodies the stick thin ideal many impressionable and insecure girls aspire to. I am not blaming Gadot for what the media perpetuates, nor am I saying anything is inherently wrong with the way she looks. However, playing an Amazon warrior does require a different physique.

Before I go any further, let me clarify that I am not referring to her breast size. A lot of Gadot defenders will jump to the straw man tactic of saying we are putting an unrealistic standard on her, since she can’t have D cups like WW has in the comics. Of course not. Every super heroine has large breasts and a huge ass in the comics, no one will be disappointed simply because Gadot can put on more weight in certain areas. Let me be clear, I am talking about her weight gain in the arms, torso and legs. Obviously I realize Wonder Woman’s physical strength is not in relation to her size. However she is always depicted as having a body forged by years of battling enemies. Many opposers will select the few comics that show WW as skinnier in order to argue that Gadot looks fine, but many comics do show WW as a more muscular, but still feminine and attractive figure.

Gadot has made some improvements since she began training for the role, but all recent photos indicate she will still have a stick thin figure going into filming. The film is not released for two years, but we must remember that filming has already begun and post-production will take several months to complete. Maybe Gadot will continue training for several more months and I will be proven wrong, we shall see. Yet I do not believe that is the case. I believe Hollywood will stick with its trend of showing dainty, stick thin girls as its action heroes in order to perpetuate the stereotypical image of feminine beauty created by the media.

Below is the imdb discussion that sparked my desire to write this piece ( I am nightcal)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2975590/board/thread/230214438?d=230257758#230257758

You will see that the “BadNewsRocky14” has the perception that a figure like Gadot’s in this pic is ideal.

Gadot has gained weight but is still womanly, not “brutish” like the hideous Jessica Biel.

http://www.dancyfood.nl/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Jessica-Biel-mesomorph.jpg

Looking over other posts, especially the first three on that imdb page, also reveals that many posters do not support Gadot because they believe she has the physique of an Amazonian warrior, or because she is a great actor. They just think she’s hot and want to bang her.

I do not mean to say I can judge an entire society by imdb boards, in many ways internet discussions attract the cesspool of humanity. However, this post exemplifies Hollywood’s approach to action stars. Hollywood wants to put a girl on screen that guys will want to drool over and bang. Yet they realize that if you actually make a girl get “brutish” then she may not attract the men used to seeing daintier figures. So instead of getting women who look like fighters or athletes, we get stick thin sex objects showing off girl power with improbable fight scenes. “Colombiana” was the biggest offender in recent memory.

Take a look at this picture of former WMMA fighter, Gina Carano( I did not want Carano as Wonder Woman. She was a favourite for fan casting but also does not have the acting chops for the role):

http://photos.imageevent.com/afap/wallpapers/stars/ginacarano//espn10.jpg

Her body is what many fans had in mind for the role. In my opinion, it is still womanly and attractive, while also athletic and powerful. The issue is that many men and women have been conditioned to see such a figure as a grotesque or unattractive one. This is why you get women who refuse to lift weights at the gym since they think they will turn into the female bodybuilders from doing a few curls.

http://bodybuilderschool.blogspot.ca/2013/05/female-bodybuilding-diet-tips-to-make.html

No one is asking for Gadot to look that big. We are also not saying she is ugly, another common misconception. I simply hope that with this post I can help even one person expand their mind and realize that Gadot can gain more weight for her role and still maintain her “womanly beauty”.