DC Cinematic Universe

My buddy Stefan and I went to see Justice League last Tuesday (21st November), and I left feeling a touch unsatisfied. It’s got some great moments in it, particularly Ezra Miller’s Barry Allen/The Flash. I’m not overly familiar with The Flash so can’t say how accurate a portrayal it was but I enjoyed it a lot. He was funny, a little unsure of himself but still had conviction and stood up when he was needed to. I like Ben Affleck as Batman/Bruce Wayne, Gal Gadot is just awesome as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman. I liked Ray Fisher as Cyborg/Victor Stone, although I was put off a little by the CGI on his body here and there. Jason Momoa as Arthur Curry/Aquaman was pretty cool as well. Like The Flash I’m not that familiar with Aquaman or Cyborg, so I can’t say how these versions of the characters compared but I liked them.

I like Henry Cavill as Superman, but I don’t really feel like we’ve seen him as Superman yet. I liked Man Of Steel, but that was an origin film and he didn’t really get the chance to be Superman or the Clark Kent we know. With Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn Of Justice I don’t feel like we really got much of the character in that either. To be honest we barely saw him in that movie, and in Justice League he’s in it about the same amount of time as he was in Batman Vs. Superman.

I’ve been trying to put my thoughts straight on the DCCU for a while. I will admit to being an unabashed Marvel movie fan, but I’m also a big fan of Batman, well the whole of the Gotham setting and characters, to be honest. I grew up watching the animated series in the 90s along with the Spider-Man and X-Men animated series (He-Man, Transformers, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles before that). I love the Tim Burton/ Michael Keaton Batman movies as well. I liked the Nolan films okay, but they always felt to much like they were in the real world too much, and I’m not the biggest fan of Christian Bale. The other DC based movie in that sort of time bracket was Green Lantern, which I thought was pretty decent. I didn’t find it as bad as everyone seemed to make it out to be.

***Potential Spoilers From Here***

 

 

 

 

 

As I said, there are parts of the Justice League that I liked. I’ve mentioned the actors, but one scene that I found extremely pleasing and fun was when Steppenwolf is taking on the Amazonians, Atlantians, and Man, with a little help from the Lanterns. That scene was amazing. It heaved with energy and purpose. I got a mega kick out of seeing the Lanterns in the fight (I’m kinda disappointed Green Lantern didn’t show up to help them defeat Steppenwolf at the end of the movie).

There are two cut-scenes after the film ends. One light hearted one just at the start of the credits, and a bit more of a serious one right at the end. I won’t spoil either of these, but the final one got me more excited for future DCCU films than most of Justice League.

With this new DCCU Warner Bros. seem to be trying to build, I’m not really sure what they’re aiming for. As I said, I liked Man Of Steel. I thought it was a very good origin story, especially the opening sequence on Krypton which gave some great context for Zod’s motivation and how Superman then dealt with him and his plans. The only real issue I had with it was the score was too loud, and the dialogue was too soft. When I watch it I have to turn the volume up when characters are talking, but then turn it down when there’s a big action sequence and the score kicks up. Which is a shame because that score is amazing, but that’s a technical problem. The film itself was good. I got a kick out of the couple of easter eggs I noticed during the movie and was looking forward to what came next.

Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice. This movie felt overloaded and could have been resolved by Superman saying to Batman what was happening. I can understand why Superman might be going after Batman, a masked vigilante who is spreading fear. Before their big fight if Superman had just said; “Dude, they’ve got my mum, and will kill her if I don’t kill you.” that would have solved a tonne of problems. I can also understand why Batman would be going for Superman; anyone with a lot of power isn’t normally someone you want in that position. So Batman assuming the worst of Superman has roots, despite Superman’s clearly good intentions. People do change though, and with the history that Batman is hinted at having then he has good reason to be assume that Superman is a threat. In Batman Vs. Superman there is only Batman and Superman. The other heroes in this universe don’t exist yet, or haven’t made themselves known. So all of the people with any kind of superhuman power he’s come up against have been villains. We also can’t forget that he could still be dealing with the death of Robin (I’m assuming its Jason Todd). We don’t know how that’s affected him. That raises another question, if it is Jason Todd, then can we assume Dick Grayson has become Nightwing? if yes why didn’t Batman call him up for the fight with Steppenwolf? But I think I’m nitpicking there.

Another issue I have with the DCCU is does everybody know the secret identities of Batman and Superman? Lex Luther knows who Superman is, in Suicide Squad Amanda Waller knows Bruce Wayne is Batman and Lois Lane is just calling out ‘Clark’ willy nilly when addressing Superman in Justice League. There’s also no explanation on why Clark Kent has suddenly reappeared after being thought dead. Surely there should be a line there somewhere to address this.

I’ve got a quick few words I want to share on Suicide Squad. It’s not a great movie, but its one I do enjoy. I think they made a huge misstep when they didn’t focus on the Joker as the main villain of the piece. I like Jared Leto’s Joker, I thought he worked incredibly well in this era and was genuinely creepy. The first Suicide Squad trailer is amazing, for me it’s up there with the first Guardians of the Galaxy trailer. What really sold me on it was when we first see and hear the Joker, that cackle and his voice made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. Throughout the film he felt creepy to watch. Kind of how I’d expect the Joker to be. What I enjoy the most about Suicide Squad is the characters. Aside from Slipknot, you get a decent feel for them all and each of the actors seem to hold their own very well in the film. The plot didn’t really excite me too much, especially after having seen the animated Suicide Squad movie Assault on Arkham. That I would have loved to have seen live-action on the big screen.

Movie fans will know that Kevin Feige is the man at Marvel Studios. He’s got a vision that has been in place since the start. With DCCU it doesn’t feel like that’s the case. You can see how they’re trying to keep everything in the same universe, but it doesn’t feel like they’ve quite got a handle on it yet. I’ve heard that Geoff Johns and Jon Berg are overseeing the DCCU, but I believe thats a recent appointment. So I’ll be interested to see if they can pull all the different teams working on different movies together.

I am going to compare the DCCU to the MCU, simply because I think it’s a good comparison. Both universes deal with people who have abilities that don’t exist in the real world.

I do think DCCU have made a misstep with putting Justice League so early in their line up of movies. With the MCU we had five movies (Iron man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, and Captain America: The First Avenger) that built up to The Avengers. We knew each character, we were invested in them. So when they all came together we not only knew them, but we’re rooting for them. After The Avengers was done I was satisfied, okay I wanted more but I was still fulfilled. I didn’t feel that with Batman Vs. Superman, nor with Justice League. I’ve seen The Avengers countless times, the same with Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America:The Winter Soldier, Deadpool, Mad Max:Fury Road, Dredd, Terminator 2. All those films leave me feeling satisfied. The only DCCU movie to give me that level of satisfaction and desire for more has been Wonder Woman.

Wonder Woman is the shining light of the DCCU. I can’t think of anything in that film that I didn’t like. It’s a film that is exciting. It is engaging. It left me feeling satisfied and wanting more. This is a movie done right, I don’t just mean a superhero movie, but a movie done right. Gal Gadot really is Wonder Woman. I remember when she first got cast, all I knew her from was the Fast and Furious movies. I remember her being good in those, but not much else. When she appeared in Batman Vs. Superman I was taken with her straight away, but in Wonder Woman she really gets to show her acting chops. Naive but confident at the start of the film and at the end she knows what its like to loose someone and to have seen the brutality of what the first world war was.

DC should be looking at the elements that made Wonder Woman work. The feeling I get hearing rumours about DC is there are too many cooks in the kitchen. Hopefully Johns and Berg will be able to right that, because otherwise we won’t have the rich DCCU that we could have. If you just look at Gotham City and the rich tapestry of characters that live in that city, then DC and Warner Bros. have a tonne of material to play with and build from. I think they just need to get the right people in place.

Wonder Woman was a huge step forward, I think Justice League might be a step back but hopefully a small one.

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Batman Vs. Superman & Suicide Squad

This year we see DC really go big in the movie world with Batman Vs. Superman and Suicide Squad, with Batman Vs. Superman in just a few weeks.

Now, I’m a confessed Marvel fan, but I do like the character of Batman and all of the pieces around him. Gotham and the characters that challenge Batman I think are really quite fascinating, and I’m really looking forward to seeing how DC pull this off.

Even though I am a huge Marvel fan, I’m not of the mindset to hate or belittle DC like a lot of people seem to like doing. Marvel have pioneered this Cinematic Universe idea and I’m quite excited to see what DC do (lets face it, if we’re getting all these films and they’re good then we as the fans win).

I’ve never been a huge fan of Superman; that said I did like Man Of Steel quite a lot. I’m a bit of a fan of Zach Snyder and there wasn’t much in Man Of Steel that I didn’t like. I thought Henry Cavill was very good as both Clark Kent and as Superman, but I thought most of the cast had were spot on.

Onto Batman though, I think the Dark Knight is becoming one of my favourite characters out there. Although I liked the Christopher Nolan Batman films I was never blown away by them, but I love the Tim Burton ones. I’m not worried about Ben Afflect as Batman/Bruce Wayne though; from what I’ve seen of him in the trailers I’m quietly optimistic about seeing the Bruce Wayne I want to see. As Batman I think he’s going to rock it, but it’s going to be as Bruce Wayne that I’m eager to see what he does with it. That was one of my major issues with Nolan and Christian Bale’s Batman. Bruce Wayne seemed more like an obnoxious playboy than a business leader, but with the advertising for the film I’ve seen I’m hoping we get a Bruce Wayne who, as far as the public is concerned, is quite happy in his life and is enjoying running Wayne Enterprises.

So, I am looking forward to seeing Batman Vs. Superman. I wasn’t really bothered about it until I saw the first trailer, and how it showed that Bruce Wayne was in Metropolis on the day that Superman and Zodd battled it out.

Suicide Squad though, that’s the one of these two films that I am really looking forward to. That first trailer really blew my mind away. It looked creepy and dark as hell, and the bare few seconds we see of Jared Leto’s Joker was genuinely terrifying. The whole trailer sold me though, there was nothing in it that caused me any concerns. Then the second trailer was released, and its got a totally different tone to that of the first trailer. This second trailer has given the film quite a humorous feel to it. So I’m kind of looking forward to seeing what the final film is like. With how the Joker, in particular looks, I think it is going to be quite dark, but I’m hoping it does have some decent humour in it because if it’s just dark then it could be quite a hard watch. So I’m hoping the director, writers, and the rest of those involved have managed to craft a film that has a good balance of the two.

I think both films are going to be good, but I’m really hoping to be blown away; and I’m hoping it gets me excited for the forthcoming Wonder Woman and Justice League films and what DC have got coming in the future.

 

Man Of Steal

A film which I had no real desire to see was Man Of Steel. I was never a huge fan of the Superman character as he was too perfect and I like my comic book characters to have a little more darkness to them, I’m a huge fan of Judge Dredd, The Punisher, Batman and Blade. I also like what Marvel have done with their characters for their movies which despite being generally positive expose the characters to the daemons and the flaws they have.

So I didn’t really take to the perfect Superman/Clark Kent character that we have seen in the movies. I will just point out that I have not read the comics at all and most of my knowledge comes through the movies and tv.

I could easily watch the Christopher Reeve Superman movies but I was never a fan enough to buy them for my collection. Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns is one that I did buy, but I had not seen it and I brought it more for the fact that Singer had directed it. I’m a fan of Bryan Singer’s work. His Superman Returns isn’t a bad film but it did not really change anything about the world it was set it and I think that is why I never really took to it much, it was still generally the same old Superman.

Now we come to Zach Snyder’s Man Of Steel. I initially saw this at the cinema and on first viewing did enjoy it, especially the beginning of the film but I didn’t fall in love with it. Owning it on Blu-Ray though is where I have truly discovered this movie. This is a whole new film, even though it tells the origins of Superman it did not once make me think of its predecessors. Yes, its telling me the origins of Superman but its doing it in a much more gritty and real way.

The story tells us the journey that Clark Kent goes through from a child struggling to cope with being able to do things that others cant and trying to discover who he is and where he comes from.

At the start of the film we see how his home planet is destroyed as he is still a new born baby and the circumstances that surround his escape from the planet he was born on.  This sequence alone is one of the best pieces of filmmaking I have seen in a long time. Russell Crowe plays Jor-El, Superman’s father, and he is really good here. He takes the character and puts a lot of depth and determination into it. What I really enjoyed seeing though was this different world with a different culture and the complexities of its social structure. If I had the money I would go to the Man Of Steel producers and have them make a film out of this prologue because it is a fascinating world they created here. Having not read the comics I don’t know if they ever looked at Krypton in any depth.

Then we see Clark Kent discovering who he is. I’d not seen anything with Henry Cavill in before this and I thought he played Superman and his alter ego of Clark Kent really well. He shows strength, humility, weakness and a sense of humour. The actors that play the younger Clark do a very believable job as well.

The rest of the film is mainly focused on seeing how the U.S. Government, in particular the military, react to Superman and the alien spaceship which has appeared in orbit demanding that Kal-El (his birth name) is handed back to them and the big epic fight to save the earth from these aliens.

A giant epic battle at the end of the film is to be expected with a movie like this. It’s the style of the movie and the fresh take of this character and world that finally made me a fan of Superman. In Man Of Steel we see what a struggle Clark Kent had as a child and the difficulties he faces when he has to step up and become the hero that we think of when we hear the word Superman.

Man Of Steel does have its flaws but none that are really stand out, aside from it being very loud at times. Trying to find a decent volumn when watching at home is difficult. Too low and the dialogue is difficult to hear and if you turn it up the sound effects can be a little too much.

Amy Adams as Lois Lane is very convincing, she shows a lot of determination, even to the point of irritating early on. Michael Shannon as General Zod eats the role up and dosent apologise for doing what he thinks is right. I thought he made Zod a very strong and determined character. I really enjoyed seeing Kevin Costner on the big screen again, he is very humble and clear thinking as Jonathan Kent. I wasn’t as convinced by Diane Lane as Martha Kent but she was okay.

We didn’t get enough of Lawrence Fishburne as Perry White but there was a lot of story that was put into this movie so I understand why he didn’t get much screen time. I’m hoping we see more of him in the next film. There’s a character called Colonel Nathan Hardy in the film, I don’t recall hearing his name mentioned but he plays a military, air force I think, officer who we see early on and throughout the film. He is played by Christopher Meloni and I really liked his character. He was very likable and was not just a random military officer. Antje Traue played Faora-Ul, Zod’s second in command and she was very good. Each time she was on the screen she all but stole it.

Zach Snyder led a production which lead to a very good movie, we don’t see the Superman we have seen before. The character feels a lot more real and I’m looking forward to seeing the sequel and where they take Superman and the world he lives in.