Thoughts On Justice League

JL Film PosterIt’s been years since I’ve written a review of anything, but after seeing Justice League on opening day, I’ve had some thoughts percolating in my mind.

First up, I’m a big Justice League fan. I’ve always been a DC Comics diehard and have been devouring comics since before puberty, so I have thirty years of minutiae stored up in my brain to “impress” my friends and answer the occasional quiz question. When DC rebooted their entire line with the New 52 initiative, I pretty quickly stopped feasting on superhero comics, but I do enjoy the occasional nibble.

In short, I was disappointed with the JL film. Yes, there were some good things about it, and there was some serious behind the scenes issues that led the film to not being all it should’ve been, but with that in mind, here are a few bullet points.

I like Ben Affleck. He’s a great actor and director, and is actually a pretty good choice to play an older Batman. However, just because he has pointy ears and a gruff voice doesn’t make him the Dark Knight. When asked what his superpowers are, Batman answers, “I’m rich.” That’s not something Batman would say. That’s a Tony Stark line. It doesn’t belong here. With the Flash and Cyborg, the film has enough humour. Don’t drag Batman in to it too. Let him be Batman. Not everyone needs to be witty.

The first scene is all about how Superman inspires people, and how his death at the hands of Doomsday at Batman v Superman has united the world in a sense of loss. In the two Superman films we’ve seen starring Henry Cavill prior to this, there’s nothing inspiring about him. He doesn’t inspire. He terrifies! He’s not warm, and smiling. Thor has taken the role that Superman should have. If you ask anyone (kids or adults), who’d they’d love to hang out with, I’d imagine most would easily choose the happy god of thunder over the glowering, morose Man of Steel. This is a Superman who allowed his earthly Dad to die, caused massive property damage and killed Zod infront of a traumatised family, when he had so many other options available. (Fly him up to space! spin him round so he loses consciousness! even break his limbs! anything but neck snapping!). The Superman who has existed for almost a century in pop culture, and who will outlast all film makers, is someone who cherishes life and only takes it as an absolute last resort. The last time Superman was properly portrayed was in the 1980s with the maginificent Christopher Reeve. Who else could say, “I like pink very much Lois,” with a straight face, let alone with gravitas and sincerity? The world would not mourn the death of this version of Superman. They barely knew him, let alone embraced him.

There was a cleaner who showed up briefly at STAR Labs. They could’ve made him Rudy Jones, who becomes the Parasite, and as Kevin Smith pointed out – even the thief at the start of the film could’ve been a DC character, rather than a generic bad guy. Again, the terrorists who Wonder Woman stops could’ve been anyone from DC’s rich history, like Cheetah, or the Royal Flush Gang, or even someone linked to Steppenwolf, to give the villain  much needed dramatic weight. Speaking of which…

Steppenwolf had no visible motivation. A scene where he’s speaking to a hidden Darkseid would’ve helped tremendously. Perhaps he could be sent off to earth amidst cheering crowds from Apokolips, or he’s failed to conquer other planets before and this is his last attempt before Darkseid executes him in dishonour, and he thinks earth will be an uneasy target. As it is, Steppenwolf just shows up to cause havoc and..be bad.

There was no need for the jokes at Aquaman and the approach they took to make him the tough guy was desperate. I can imagine the writers thinking, “Quick! Let’s make fun of Aquaman before the audience does, and then we’ll show how grumpy and angry he really is. That’ll shut them up!” Aquaman is a great character, as Peter David has shown with his tremendous run on the comics. When your film stars apologizing for a great character, it’s not off to a good start. The acting here is great though, and Jason Momoa, like his castmates does a great job with these versions of the characters.

The Russian family at the final battle was odd. Perhaps it was meant to be a microcosm of the potentail destruction the rest of the world would face, like the family at the end of Batman v Superman was.

Okay, now the good points….

It was pretty awesome to see Superman unleashed and take on the whole League single-handedly. Oh yeah.

The humour generally works, with the scene with Aquaman and Wonder Woman’s lasso a nice touch.

The Mother Box battle/Amazonian escape was thrilling.

Both end credits scenes are great, and even the actual credits thanked comics creators such as Jack Kirby, and I noticed Detective Crispus Allen, who eventually becomes The Spectre, listed as a character. Nice.

DC’s animated films have a much better track record of their live action output, barring the last two (The Killing Joke, Batman and Harley Quinn) and I’m excited to see the two Death and Return of Superman animated films that kick off next year.

Geoff Johns is a legend and super talented writer, so his continued involvement in any live action DC films is a huge step in the right direction. I am cautiously optimistic about what DC has planned next, and the Wonder Woman film showed that they can get it right. Come on DC. You can do it!

Batman vs Terminator Fan Film

This is a good week to be a Terminator fan. It’s an even better week if you’re a Terminator team-up fan. Announcement below from Dark Horse Comics about their classic Robocop vs Terminator deluxe collection.

And underneath that is a 5 minute animated short film set in a Skynet driven future, in which The Dark Knight Returns-era Batman does what he does best. It’s almost dialogue free, but has great visuals and direction. Well done to Tony Guerrero and Mitchell Hammond for crafting this beauty.

DARK HORSE ANNOUNCES TWO ALL-NEW EDITIONS OF FRANK MILLER AND

WALTER SIMONSON’S CLASSIC

ROBOCOP VS. THE TERMINATOR SERIES!

Nearly twenty years after its first publication, the classic four-issue miniseries that teamed two great characters with two great creators, Frank Miller and Walter Simonson’s RoboCop versus The Terminator, returns to print in two formats: a hardcover graphic novel and a gallery edition!

Comics’ greatest creators pit the supreme machine killer against the ultimate cybernetic cop in one of the most celebrated crossovers ever! When fate reveals that the technology that built RoboCop will lead to the creation of Skynet, Alex Murphy must engage in time-twisting battle against both the murderous computer network and the human resistance fighters out to destroy him! This newly restored collection features remastered colors from Steve Oliff and an introduction by 2 Guns writer Steven Grant!

The super deluxe RoboCop verus The Terminator Gallery Edition ushers in Dark Horse’s new gallery series format—reprinting Walter Simonson’s original art at full size, exactly as it appeared on his drawing table! Relive Simonson and writer Frank Miller’s seamless blend of the RoboCop and Terminator worlds while marveling at the sheer virtuosity of Simonson’s draftsmanship in all its original glory.

In addition to the full story, the gallery edition provides the greatest insight available into Simonson’s process, with pages of his original pencils and promotional art faithfully reproduced, along with a revealing foreword by the artist himself!

“When Frank first sent me the story for the series, I loved it. And it was both a treat and a challenge to try to bring it to life in pictures,” said Walter Simonson. “I couldn’t be more pleased to see RoboCop versus The Terminator back in print after all these years. I can only hope that a new generation of readers will take as much delight in discovering the series as we took in creating it.”

The RoboCop versus The Terminator hardcover graphic novel collection arrives on sale at finer comic shops everywhere on July 2, 2014, for $24.99. The gallery edition will be available on July 9 for $125.

RVT GALLERY

RVT-Hardcover-WALT

Beware the Batman: Shadows of Gotham Release

Another DC Comics/ Warner Bros. cartoon that ended too soon, much like Green Lantern, and Young Justice, is getting a Blu-ray and DVD release next week. Beware the Batman never aired here in Australia, but I’m certainly intrigued by this latest take on The Dark Knight.

BEWARE THE BATMAN

SEASON 1 PART 1 AVAILABLE FEBRUARY 18, 2014

ON DVD FROM WARNER BROS. HOME ENTERTAINMENT,

AND ON BLU-RAYTM FROM WARNER ARCHIVE COLLECTION 

The caped crusader continues to conquer Gotham City’s villains with the Blu-ray™ and DVD release of Beware The Batman: Shadows of Gotham, Season 1 Part 1 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, Warner Bros. Animation and DC Entertainment. Batman and his trusted friends Alfred and Katana band together in the series’ first 13 episodes to face the twisted machinations of Gotham City’s criminal underworld.

Beware the Batman Season 1 Part 1 is available for the first time on both Blu-ray™ and DVD next Tuesday, February 18, 2014. Warner Bros. Home Entertainment offers a two-disc DVD set ($19.97 SRP), while the single-disc Blu-ray™ is available from Warner Archive Collection for $19.95 via shop.warnerarchive.com and wbshop.com.

Batman swings into an exhilarating new age, teaming with a powerful allies old and new for a thrilling new take on the classic Dark Knight franchise in Beware the Batman: Shadows of Gotham, Season 1 Part 1. The new action-packed detective thriller incorporates Batman’s core characters with a rogue’s gallery of criminals as the Caped Crusader faces some of Gotham City’s most despicable villains. Through the show’s first 13 animated adventures of this two-disc collection, ex-secret agent Alfred and lethal swordstress Katana join Batman to takes on an array of evildoers including the likes of Anarky, Professor Pyg, Mister Toad and Magpie. This thrilling series redefines what we have come to know as the “Batman show” and is sure to excite fans with cutting-edge CGI visuals. 

“Warner Bros. Home Entertainment is delighted to begin this exhilarating animated Batman series with the release of Beware The Batman: Shadows of Gotham, Season 1 Part 1,” Mary Ellen Thomas, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Vice President, Family & Animation and Partner Brands Marketing. “Fans will be excited to see their favorite super hero up against a whole new set of villains from the DC Universe to continue the expansion of the Dark Knight franchise!”

Episodes:

Beware the Batman Season 1 Part 1

  1. Hunted
  2. Secrets
  3. Tests
  4. Safe
  5. Broken
  6. Toxic
  7. Family
  8. Allies
  9. Control
  10. Sacrifice
  11. Instinct
  12. Attraction
  13. Fall

BewareTheBatmanS1

Beware the Batman still

Beware the Batman Pyg and Mr Toad

 

DC’s Animated Shared Universe

Thanks to what Marvel Studios have been doing with their films since Iron Man debuted on the silver screen, the concept of a “shared universe,” is now in fans’ minds. Of course, comics have been doing that for decades, and it’s called “continuity. It’s a lot harder to do on film though, and now that with the Man of Steel sequel and its myriad DC Comics character cameos is underway, they can focus on unifying the animated films.

Since Warner Bros./DC Comics released their first animated film based on their massive library of comics tales in 2007 focused on The Death of Superman tale, they’ve been producing about two such films a year. They have varied greatly in terms of tone and cast, but with Justice League: War and the upcoming Son of Batman, that looks set to change.

“This will definitely be the first salvo in doing new movies that are in continuity with each other,” producer James Tucker told Comic Book Resources. “Our next movie is going to be Son of Batman, and that Batman will be the same Batman that you see in Justice League: War. Basically, we’ll have two concurrent series of Justice League movies and Batman movies, and they’ll be in continuity with each other. So it’s kind of world-building.”

The new continuity will not be limited to adapting storylines from the current New 52 line of DC superhero books, according to Justice League: Wardirector Jay Oliva. “We can do original content, we can do New 52 stuff,” he said. Indeed, Oliva’s next animated project will be Batman: Arkham Asylum, based on the successful Batman: Arkham video games.

Warner Bros. plans to put out two home releases each year based in this shared continuity, with an additional DC animated project every year as a stand-alone, continuity-free project (Batman: Arkham fills that spot for 2014), although Tucker told CBR that such plans are “always subject to change.”

You can read the whole story at The Hollywood Reporter, and below is the Sneak Peek from Justice League: War showing a glimpse at the epic Son of Batman film.

Jeremy Alfred and Jesse Lex

The casting for the Man of Steel sequel (now delayed until May 6 2016) has just announced a couple of big names. The rumoured Bryan Cranston from TV’s Breaking Bad will not be classic Superman bald baddie Lex Luthor, but The Social Network’s Jesse Eisenberg will. Some are saying he looks too young, although he’s also 30, just like Superman actor Henry Cavill.

Eisenberg was menacing and crafty in Network, and also cocky in Now You See Me. I think he could pull this off.

Jeremy Irons is a good choice for Bruce Wayne’s butler/confidante Alfred Pennyworth. There aren’t too many well-known British actors of that age. I guess they could get an American actor to do a Brit accent, but Irons will certainly bring the gravitas. Here’s what director Zack Snyder had to say about the casting.

“Lex Luthor is often considered the most notorious of Superman’s rivals, his unsavory reputation preceding him since 1940. What’s great about Lex is that he exists beyond the confines of the stereotypical nefarious villain. He’s a complicated and sophisticated character whose intellect, wealth and prominence position him as one of the few mortals able to challenge the incredible might of Superman. Having Jesse in the role allows us to explore that interesting dynamic, and also take the character in some new and unexpected directions.”

The director added, “As everyone knows, Alfred is Bruce Wayne’s most trusted friend, ally and mentor, a noble guardian and father figure. He is an absolutely critical element in the intricate infrastructure that allows Bruce Wayne to transform himself into Batman. It is an honor to have such an amazingly seasoned and gifted actor as Jeremy taking on the important role of the man who mentors and guides the guarded and nearly impervious façade that encapsulates Bruce Wayne.”

Lex-Luthor-Man-of-Steel

Alfred Pennyworth

It’s Batman Week!

Today I went to one of the two comics ship I frequent, after not having been there since before Christmas. In my pull box were a lot of Batman comics, which is rare.

I know what I’ll be doing this weekend.

 

2014-01-30 19.57.26

 

Here’s the rundown.

Batman and Two-Face #26 and #27

Justice League 3000 #1

Damian: Son of Batman #3 and #4

Superman and Batman #7

Injustice Vol.2 #1

Batman and Robin Annual #2

Earth 2 Annual #2

Batman: Detective Comics #27

Phew. Usually I don’t get anywhere near this number of comics.

The only ongoing series I actually get every issue of is Batman and…as I’m a fan of Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason, and the rotating partners which have included Catwoman, and Aquaman in an upcoming issue. The Batman and Robin Annual has another of my fave pencillers join Tomasi and Gleason – Doug Mahnke, as they look at the original Robin (Dick Grayson) and his career as one half of the Dynamic Duo.

The Damian mini-series, set in a future in which Damian Wayne (the subject of the upcoming animated film) becomes Batman has been interesting, withAndy Kubert as writer as well as artist.

Justice League 3000 is also , obviously, set in the future. Kevin Maguire was originally set to be the artist but was replaced by Howard Porter, but that’s okay. I like both artists.

I haven’t been reading Batman/Superman, and I’m not a fan of Brett Booth’s art generally, but I must have ordered this because it’s formatted horizontally. I guess I’m a sucker for gimmicks.

Injustice is now in its second volume and is based on the hugely popular video game from last year. This has been an intense alternate take focused on a dictatorial Superman and what that does to his former friends, and the world. The Earth 2 Annual is also an alternate universe, and is also written by fellow Aussie Tom Taylor, and this features the debut of a new Batman.

Finally, ‘Tec #27 is a bumper issue, with seven different stories, as it’s a celebration of sorts. You see, Batman debuted in Detective Comics #27 way back in 1939. Yep, he’s that old.

 

Great, But Short Comic Book Runs

There’s a great, and well researched article over at CBR showcasing 16 comics series from Marvel and DC that ended too soon. It happens a lot in comics of course, due to low sales, or a change in editorial or business mandate, or the departure of creators, but this is an interesting look at some different series that finished too soon.

I know most of the classic series on the list, such as Chase, and Aztek, but there’s also a few newer runs including Thor-The Mighty Avenger and S.W.O.R.D.

Aztek

The-Defenders_1