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!

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.

Extra Sequential Podcast #34-Elephantmen and Nonplayer

40 mins. Mladen and I occupy the same space once more as we talk about 2 new Image comics debuts we liked plus Ninja Turtles, April Fool’s Day office pranks, iPad 2 queues, and animated Plastic Man.

LISTEN TO IT BELOW, DOWNLOAD IT HERE OR ON ITUNES


00:56 NEWS

Writer Jonathan Hickman’s new creator owned series

Justice League film set for 2013

Amy Adams has been cast as Lois Lane in the Superman reboot

Wonder Woman’s TV costume changes. Now with less shininess!

6:40 WHAT WE’VE BEEN READING

Kris – IDW’s Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters

FF #1, the new Fantastic Four relaunch. Spider-Man joins the team and it’s black and white costumes all round!

Mladen – Sequelcast film podcast

20:14 FEATURE REVIEWS

Elephantmen: Man and Elephantman by Richard Starkings and Axel Medellin. We find it to be a good intro for new readers, love the art and its effective colour palette and just the general noir vibe of the whole tale.

Nonplayer #1 by Nate Simpson. A very entertaining genre mash-up of a sci-fi world and a fantasy virtual world, with art that you’ll fall in love with. See a preview here and an interview with Simpson here.

Our rambling and amusing conclusion.

 

And Here It Is-Wonder Woman’s TV Costume

Blue pants? Man. The more I see about this, the more inclined I am to think that it’s being made for teenage girls. Strong, action driven female characters on TV are rare, with Buffy and Sarah Connor being two obvious examples, but Warner Bros. seem to be playing it safe, making Diana Prince a corporate executive who must balance that life with her superheroine duties. With a princess/Amazonian warrior/ambassador/tough gal who can hold her own against Superman, this could be a great series with action, drama and Greek mythology. It could, but it appears that it won’t.

The costume is somewhat similar to artist Jim Lee’s redesign, but without the jacket and black pants, and a daring increase in the shiny factor.

Adrienne Palicki (Friday Night Lights, Legion) plays Wonder Woman, with Cary Elwes and Elizabeth Hurley also starring. It’s produced by David E. Kelley. (Boston Legal, Ally McBeal). The pilot is being filmed now.

Wonder Woman TV Series Logo

I have a feeling this new TV series starring the Amazonian superhero (from David E. Kelley) will receive more criticism than the Spider-Man Broadway show. Here’s the logo and here’s a brief look at a day’s shooting, with Elizabeth Hurley, and no she’s not the titular heroine.

DC’s Stars of the Screen

Bleeding Cool managed to get a draft of the back-on-again live action Wonder Woman TV show by David E. Kelley, creator of Ally McBeal. The more I read of it, the queasier I got. Please let this be a really early April Fool’s joke. See their major spoiler free analysis here and a snippet below.

Well, this Wonder Woman:

Identifies with ET the Extra Terrestrial when his movie comes on TV.

Really loves planes. Like really.

Pines for Steve like Carrie for Big.

Wants to belong and be “among” people, not just “with” them.

Sings along to the radio in multiple scenes – but nothing with a hairbrush in front of the mirror just yet.

Doesn’t like being “marketed, commercialized, merchandised”, though she is – there’s a joke about Wonder Woman tie-in dolls having their costumes redesigned that seems to reference the recent makeover for the comics.

When she’s Diana Prince she’s a mousey Miley Stewart, when she’s Diana Themiscyra she’s the Hanna Montana of businesswomen, and when she’s Wonder Woman she’s Wonder Woman – which is precisely twice in the whole episode.

Is a capitalist.

Puts on her PJs for an ice-cream filled sleepover with best friend Myndi.

CBR has an interview with Greg Weisman and Brandon Vietti, the producers of the new Young Justice cartoon, that I really want to be shown here in Oz. I like the choice of characters and the Teen Titans as a black ops team working for the JLA approach.

Here’s a just released video, that’s supposed to be a trailer but looks like an in-game cinematic. Not that it matters, it’s awesome, with a future Batman and Lex teaming up. Sort of. Titled In Lex We Trust it’s from the new DC Universe Online game from Sony.

Finally in DC news, the publisher is teaming up with the Hero Initiative , a great company that all us fanboys should support. Details and snazzy art of the project below.

The Hero Initiative, a charity dedicated to helping comic creators in medical or financial need, most proudly announces their new partnership in the Justice League Of America #50 project with DC Comics. This is the first collaboration with DC comics ever and Hero is chomping at the bit to pull the collection together. The call has gone out and dozens of artists are putting pen to paper. DC has generously donated 100 blank-covered cardstock copies of Justice League Of America #50 to Hero, and work is being created by well-known stars such as Jim Lee, Alex Ross, George Perez, Jason Bone, Jim Valentino, and many many more.

“It’s an honor to participate, not only because this is the first time DC Comics is collaborating with Hero Initiative, but because Hero Initiative is such an important organization to our community” said Jim Lee, artist and Co-Publisher of DC Comics.

“We’re thrilled to be working in new ways with DC Comics, and showcasing some of the greatest artists and greatest characters in the world,” said Hero Initiative President Jim McLauchlin. “And of course, sales of the covers and the collected book will go toward helping many other comic creators in need.”

All 100 original Justice League Of America covers will be published in a book slated for release in 2011, and a public viewing of all covers will be scheduled as well.

Wonder Woman On TV?

The last time Wonder Woman was on the small screen was in the 1975-79 version with Lynda Carter as the twirling heroine. That series has proven instrumental in putting the original warrior princess in the minds of the general public. Much like the Batman series in the 1960s before Tim Burton’s 1989 film helped the Dark Knight, WW wouldn’t have  a public profile without it. More recently she’s starred in the animated Justice League and Justice League Unlimited cartoon and the animated film released last year.

Producer Joel Silver of The Matrix trilogy has been trying to make  a live action film for years, and at one point future The Avengers director Joss Whedon was lined up to helm it but his treatment was rejected by Warner Bros.

Now, a modern version (not a WWII set-series like the ’70s version originally was) is in the works. Warner Bros. Television is currently developing a series on the lasso wielding heroine with David E. Kelley. Yep, husband of Michelle Pfeiffer and creator of Ally McBeal and Boston Legal. It could work, even though action is not his forte, but we don’t know how much of a guiding hand he’ll have in the show just yet. Some news outlets have pointed out the fact that TV series with female leads rarely work, from Bionic Woman to Dollhouse, but sometimes do, like Buffy. Time will tell.

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