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

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.

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.

 

Son of Batman Animated Film Trailer

Well, this is a surprise. DC Comics/Warner Bros. release about two animated films based on classic, and new, DC series every year, but this one came from nowhere. Usually there’s a press release with a few details, but not this time. Bam! Here you go internet, thanks to TV Guide. What a nice surprise it is though.

Son of Batman is based on the awesome and highly recommended 2006 Batman and Son comic written by Grant Morrison with art by Andy Kubert. It was a great story arc, and notable for having introduced Damian Wayne, Bruce’s son with Talia al-Ghul, Ra’s al-Ghul’s daughter. Voicing Batman is Jason O’Mara, who also voices him in next month’s Justice League: War animated film. It looks to be fairly close to the comics, including Man-Bat, but also throwing in Deathstroke who was absent from the original tale, but I guess he’s popular now, thanks to TV’s Arrow.

The film will premier at California’s WonderCon in April, and then hit Blu-ray and DVD, and a new edition collecting the comics goes on sale on January 29.

batman-and-son-tpb

Justice League: War Clip

DC Comics/ Warner Bros. have been making great animated films for the last few years, at the rate of about two a year it seems. These are always accessible to those new to comics, and are always based on some classic and recent tales, and come with entertaining and informative bonus features. Since DC have a hit (Young Justice, Batman: The Brave and the Bold) and miss (quickly cancelled Beware the Batman!) ratio when it comes to their cartoons on TV, these animated films are a much safer bet.

Their next one is called Justice League: War and is based on the first few issues of the 2011 comics tale told by writer Geoff Johns and artist Jim Lee about how the League first met. Below is the first official clip, which seems to follow the comic pretty closely, and a description.

When the powerful Darkseid and his massive, relentless forces invade Earth, a group of previously unaligned super heroes – misunderstood and, in some cases, hunted by the authorities – discover the only way to fend off the attack will be to work together as a cohesive unit. Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash, Shazam and, in his origin story, Cyborg combine their respective talents in an all-out battle to save the planet. Based on the 2012 graphic novel, “Justice League: Origin,” by Geoff Johns & Jim Lee, Justice League: War provides a glance into the world before the Justice League was created, and offers the initial animated incarnation of DC Entertainment’s “The New 52.”

“Justice League: War” arrives via Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD and Digitial HD on February 4, 2014from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

Cyborg1

 

Darkseid1

 

JLFoursome1

Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox Clip

After seeing the featurette on DC/Warner Bros’ latest animated film, Flashpoint on the just released Superman: Unbound Blu-Ray I’m eagerly awaiting its release, which we know now is July 30. Very soon! Official details below regarding the dark, alternate version of the DC Universe, as based on the great 2011 mini-series from Geoff Johns and Andy Kubert. A few screenshots, and the first clip from the film is also below, in which Cyborg (who I think has a metallic sounding voice for the first time, which makes sense) attempts to recruit Batman.

The film will have its World Premiere at Comic-Con in San Diego on Friday, July 19 from 7:30-9:30pm in Ballroom 20. The premiere/panel description with anticipated participants is below. Panelists are
subject to change (which could include additions!)

Fans can also meet and get autographs (on a Comic-Con exclusive mini-poster) from the panelists on Saturday, July 20 from 11:00am-Noon at the Warner Bros. Booth.

“Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox” will be released as a Blu-Ray Combo Pack and DVD on July 30, 2013.

Here is the premiere/panel description:
Friday, July 19
7:30-9:30 World Premiere of Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox –
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Animation invite you to be the first to experience Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, the highly-anticipated next entry in the ongoing series of DC Universe Animated Original Movies. When time travel allows a past wrong to be righted for Flash and his family, the event’s temporal ripples prove disastrous, creating a fractured,
alternate reality where the Justice League never formed, and even Superman is nowhere to be found. Amidst a new world being ravaged by a fierce war between Wonder Woman’s Amazons and Aquaman’s Atlanteans, Flash must team with a grittier, more violent Batman and government agent Cyborg to restore the continuity of Flash’s original timeline.

Come for the film, but stay for the star-studded panel that features Grey’s Anatomy stars Justin Chambers and Kevin McKidd as Flash and Batman, respectively, along with C. Thomas Howell (Southland), Cary
Elwes (The Princess Bride), Sam Daly (The Daly Show) and a few surprise voice cast members, plus the filmmaking team of producer James Tucker (Superman: Unbound), director Jay Oliva (Batman: The Dark
Knight Returns), dialogue director Andrea Romano (Batman: The Dark Knight Returns), screenwriter Jim Krieg (Green Lantern: The Animated Series) and character designer Phil Bourassa (Young Justice).
Moderator Gary Miereanu will add to the fun with a special announcement of the 2014 DCU movie slate, as well as exclusive, cast-autographed prizes for a few lucky fans. Based on the landmark mini-series by Geoff Johns & Andy Kubert, Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox will be available as a digital download on July 19, 2013 and a Blu-ray™ Combo Pack on July 30, 2013.

Batman

 

Cyborg

 

Flash

 

Lois Lane

 

Thawne

 

WonderWoman

 

Above are Batman, Cyborg, Flash, Lois Lane, Reverse Flash and Wonder Woman.

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