Tents pole movies always come with astronomical expectations. Fans are hoping for the most amazing film they have ever seen (until, at least, the next installment) while studio executives are hoping to be awash in cash. Critics, depending on how they stride the pop culture divide, are either sharpening their knives or readily willing to suspend disbelief. As box office attendance continues to decline, the stakes have only increased. The continuing lackluster performance of Aliens: Covenant has many analysts wondering who assumed there was any pent-up demand for a sixth helping of silver screen Xenomorphs. Into this contentious atmosphere Wonder Woman arrives with even weightier expectations. It is the first superhero film directed by a woman. It is the first solo female superhero film since the genre’s resurgence a decade ago, and not just any superheroine at that. Wonder Woman has been, from her inception, a feminist icon; how she would be portrayed on screen would be critiqued in circles far removed from fandom, especially in the current social environment. Meanwhile, back in their beach bungalows, the suits have their own concerns. After last year’s critical takedowns of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad, Warner Brothers desperately needs a little respectability for their superhero universe. Yes, both those films made a lot of money, while the latter somehow won an Oscar, but perception is important. In the cliché parlance of the day, they want a narrative reset for the DC Cinematic Universe. And so, Diana arrived in theaters on Friday with an unreasonable amount of baggage. The good news is that the movie easily proves itself more limber than anything else the DCCU has offered up so far. Despite its flaws, it is an entertaining experience.
One of this year’s most scrupulous films, aside from possibly Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman (the first female-led comic book film in more than a decade), is the sequel to the much maligned Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice directed again by Zack Snyder. While casting, story, tone, editing, and promotion all garner examination for the final product, they miss the single most monumental challenge the film faces: so far, it seems like a repeat of The Avengers.
On Friday, Woman Woman’s first solo live action film will premiere in US theaters. Fittingly her primary antagonist will be Ares, a character possessing a long, storied history with the Amazonian princess. He is the Joker or Lex Luthor of Diana’s Rogue’s Gallery, the mirror image which defines who she is. Played by the talented British actor David Thewlis, there are high hopes for Ares to be a commanding presence on screen. In addition, Warner Brothers has confirmed what many fans have long suspected: Diana will face off against a second adversary, namely Doctor Poison. While Doctor Poison debuted several months prior to Ares, the character has never had the prominence of the God of War. Still Doctor Poison’s roots are tied to the earliest of Wonder Woman’s exploits.
Filmmaker Joss Whedon of the films Avengers and Avengers Age of Ultron in addition to influential television series Buffy The Vampire Slayer & Firefly, will be writing and directing a Batgirl film. More details at Variety
2016 might have witnessed a fair amount of upheaval, but one thing remained constant: Hollywood’s love of superheroes is as strong as ever. While DC sat out 2015, Marvel saw three of their properties in theaters; this year The Big Two had six combined. Next year that will edge up to seven. In addition, geek-favorite franchises Star Trek and Star Wars continued their multi-year missions through galaxies far, far away. Almost all of them raked the ticket sales (analysists were divided on whether Star Trek Beyond fell short of breaking even or turned a modest profit). Either way, neither profit margins nor quantity of films produced equal quality. 2016 was a very mixed year in terms of artistic merit, as fans could be forgiven for experiencing whiplash when trying to create a double bill for some of these movies. Some films excelled by being able to break new ground, while others entertained with well-executed tried and true formulas. Some were an utter mess (and not simply in their murky CGI sequences). It could have been worse; viewers were denied anything quite as terrible as last year’s Fantastic Four. Then again, that is placing the bar quite low.
Warner Brothers also unveiled today the first glimpse of next year’s Justice League movie. Orientated around Bruce Wayne recruiting members for his new “team” it features most prominently Ezra Miller’s Flash and Jason Momoa’s Aquaman. And yes, it does have a less somber feel about it . . .
Justice League, directed Zack Snyder, opens November 17th, 2017.
Warner Brothers’ Trailerpoloza started off today with the first extended glimpse of next year’s Wonder Woman. It focuses on Steve Trevor and the conflict of World War I. Also, gives a peak of Lucy Davis’ (!) Etta Candy.
Wonder Woman, directed by Patty Jenkins, opens on June 23rd 2017.
With DC Rebirth, and the promotion of Geoff Johns to co-chair of the DC Cinematic Universe, the company has pledged to return to its roots of “Hope, Optimism, and Legacy” While that is all fine and Jim dandy, it strikes me as coming pretty late when you consider the story Kingdom Come. One of DC’s most classic series of it’s era by Mark Waid and Alex Ross, the comic could’ve saved DC a lot of trouble had they considered that story as the template to follow instead of Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns. Continue reading Hope and Optimism 20 Years Later→
It is generally agreed upon that comic book fans have recently been treated to a bounty of pleasures on the Silver Screen. Even films that are not entirely satisfying (such as last year’s Age of Ultron and Ant-Man) were still enjoyable experiences. Yet, nothing’s perfect, and the clunkers keep slipping past. Last year fans had to suffer through a Fantastic Four project so awful, it managed to outdo the mess that was 2014’s Amazing Spider-Man 2. The good news is that Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice never matches these nadirs. There are some positive elements to the movie; there are some pretty bad ones as well. The real problem is that there is very little which is actually great. Thus, while the overall film is not outright incompetent, it is also barely engaging or compelling.