DC

Shazam! stands out by embracing what makes the superhero fun

shazam_beer.jpg

With one magic word, Shazam! keeps the fun train rolling for the DC cinematic universe. DC was already on the right track with the success of Wonder Woman and Aquaman, but taking a chance with a B-list (maybe even C-list) character who had a chance to reach a younger audience might have derailed that momentum.

Some fans and critics might feel like DC’s big-screen product won’t be fully established until the big names like Batman and Superman have been restored, and the cinematic universe is on a path to getting the band together in another Justice League film. But Marvel seized the superhero movie pedestal with lesser characters and by creating a slow build that stoked anticipation for a big payoff.

Another reason that Marvel has succeeded while so many other studios and franchises have failed in trying to build a cinematic universe is its realization that many different types of stories and genres could be featured within a superhero universe. Movies like Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man resonated with audiences because they were comedies as much as blockbuster spectacles. Humor has always been the honeypot for these movies.

Read the full review here

Diving deep into the Batcave on Batman's 80th anniversary

bats_surf.jpg

A few months ago, my nieces stopped over for a visit. With their mother around, watching TV or playing with the iPad wasn’t an option. So the kids went to Uncle Ian’s room to find some toys to play with or books to read.

While we were doodling on sketch pads, Junior Niece asked me, “Why do you like Batman so much?” What do you mean, kid? Why do you ask think I like Batman?She then took some Blu-rays from my TV stand and set them down in front of me. Hmm, the kid had a point.

bats_blu.jpg

She definitely caught on to a theme. And that pile didn’t even include the Justice League and Batman v Superman discs that were also on the stand. Or the many other DVDs/Blu-rays I keep in a folder. She continued to bring me things scattered throughout the room.

Read the full post here

The Trench creatures from Aquaman are getting their own movie

trench_comic.jpg

If your favorite part of the Aquaman movie was the scene during which Arthur Curry and Mera navigate through a treacherous stretch of ocean populated by walking piranhas, this news is probably going to excite you.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Warner Brothers is developing an Aquaman spinoff involving The Trench, a region just outside of Atlantis inhabited by creatures that were cut off from the mythical city when it sank underwater. Having to survive outside Atlantis forced them to evolve into monsters that terrorized any life that traveled into the Marianas Trench territory.

Don’t get too excited about this being another Aquaman movie, however. As THR reports, this is intended to be a horror movie with a far smaller budget that won’t involve anyone from the original film. So no Aquaman, no Mera, not even Ocean Master or Vulko. That might prevent the story from going deep undersea to the Trench kingdom, as seen in the comic books too.

But horror is right in the wheelhouse of Aquaman director James Wan, who will be one of the producers on this project.

The concept of The Trench was introduced in the first issue of 2011’s rebooted Aquaman comic book, part of DC Comics’ “New 52” initiative. The creatures attack a coastal town seeking food, pushing them into conflict with Aquaman. The Trench and its inhabitants were also part of the 2012 Justice League “Throne of Atlantis” storyline, which was adapted into a 2015 animated film.

Relatively new screenwriters Noah Gardner and Aidan Fitzgerald will write the script. Both previously worked for J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot production company. The two collaborated on the screenplay for a submarine thriller titled The Volos.

This leads to the natural question of when an Aquaman sequel will be announced. Having grossed more than $1 billion worldwide, we’ll definitely be getting another movie with the new King of Atlantis. For now, however, it looks like Wan, Jason Momoa, Amber Heard and crew (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Patrick Wilson will almost certainly be back as the bad guys) are reveling in their success.

New Batman movie scheduled for June 2021, won't involve Ben Affleck

darwyn_batman.jpg

There are plenty of compelling Batman storylines that can be found these days in DC Comics. But one of the greatest mysteries currently involving the Dark Knight concerns the next time we’ll see him on the big screen.

This week, however, some details were finally revealed regarding Matt Reeves’s new Batman film. Reeves, best known for directing two of the rebooted Planet of the Apes movies, has been working on a script for the project and filming reportedly wasn’t going to begin until he and Warner Brothers believed they had it right.

Apparently, it’s just about there. WB announced on Wednesday (Jan. 30) that The Batman, which was supposedly the working title when Ben Affleck was writing and directing the film, is set for a June 25, 2021 release. (The studio also announced an Aug. 6, 2021 date for a Suicide Squad sequel, and TheWrap is reporting that James Gunn is set to direct.)

But Affleck won’t be playing Batman in this movie. According to Deadline’s Anthony D’Alessandro, Reeves’s story involves a younger Bruce Wayne, which means the role will be recast. Other outlets, such as Entertainment Tonight, have confirmed that Affleck isn’t wearing the cowl in this one.

Affleck gave his thumbs-up to the project on Twitter, and essentially confirmed the report by not denying that he won’t be returning to the Batman role.

Rumors of recasting Batman have been prevalent for nearly two years, ever since Reeves took over the project. Initially, The Batman was envisioned as an all-Affleck endeavor. He was set to write (with DC’s Geoff Johns), direct and star in the film. While that excited many fans, eager to see the director of Best Picture winner Argo (2012) helm a Batman movie, taking all of those roles on was surely over-ambitious. No one has ever tried to write, direct and be the lead actor of a blockbuster superhero movie before.

Affleck insisted that he and Johns needed to get the script right before production began. But for a variety of personal and professional reasons, he eventually stepped aside as director. Once Reeves was tapped as a replacement, he took over the script as well and set to rewrite it. Soon thereafter, rumors persisted that Affleck was done playing Batman. Whether that was because of the critical beating Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice suffered, the financial failure of Justice League, a growing disinterest in being chained to a franchise superhero role, or all of the above, it seemed like a matter of time before WB announced that a change would be made.

Reeves told The Hollywood Reporter that he has a “noir” detective-style story in mind for his depiction of the Caped Crusader. He also said here will be a Rogues Gallery,” which will open up plenty of guessing as to how many villains Batman will face. (Previous rumors have said that The Penguin will be the main bad guy.)

Until we learn more, the speculation will immediately begin as to who will play Batman next. It’ll be one of the hottest rumors in Hollywood. Let the fun begin. And remember the reaction when Affleck was cast as Batman? The next choice better be ready.

Batman: The Long Halloween to reportedly be adapted into two-part animated movie

batman_tlh.png

One of the best Batman stories of the past 25 years is next on DC Entertainment’s animated film slate. As first reported by Revenge of the Fans, Batman: The Long Halloween is set to be adapted into a two-part movie. The original limited series written by Jeph Loeb and illustrated by Tim Sale ran for 13 issues between 1996 and 1997 and was a significant influence on Christopher Nolan’s Batman films, particularly The Dark Knight.

Though DC Entertainment has adapted many memorable comic book story arcs into animated movies, only a select handful have been given the two-part treatment. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns was the first of the studio’s two-part ventures, with each installment released four months apart between 2012 and 2013. Later this January, Reign of the Supermen will debut, following up six months after The Death of Superman was released.

The Long Halloween takes place early in Batman’s career, as the Gotham police and district attorney’s office try to end the mob war between the Falcone and Maroni families. Igniting the conflict is a mystery killer, who murders the youngest Falcone son and proceeds to murder someone each month, usually on holidays. Along the way, crime boss Carmine Falcone employs villains like the Riddler and Poison Ivy to gain an advantage, while the Joker attempts to take out the Holiday killer for moving on his territory.

joker_twoface.jpg

Above all, The Long Halloween is an origin story for Two-Face. Harvey Dent works with Batman against the two mob families, but becomes increasingly irrational in his ambition. Following attempts to kill him and his family, and the pivotal incident that scars half of his face, Dent loses his grip on reality and seeks revenge on Falcone.

What could be most intriguing about this adaptation is whether or not the animation style tries to follow the distinct style of Tim Sale’s dark, moody art. Sale’s Batman looks unlike many other interpretations, especially with the Dark Knight’s mask and cape. But his version is a bulkier hero, similar to Frank Miller’s Batman. Sale’s style is most distinct with the supporting characters in the story, notably each member of the Falcone and Maroni families. Nobody draws the Joker, Penguin or Poison Ivy like he does, depicting each as almost supernatural characters.

According to Mario-Francisco Robles’s report, this two-part Batman film will not be part of the DC animated universe that’s been established with films like The Death of Superman and the various Justice League movies. This will be a standalone Batman story like The Killing Joke, The Dark Knight Returns and the upcoming Hush.

There’s no word on when The Long Halloween is expected to debut, but the 2019 schedule for DC animated films — including Justice League vs. The Fatal Five and Wonder Woman: Bloodlines — so we probably won’t see Part 1 of this story until 2020 at the earliest.

Ewan McGregor will be man behind Black Mask in Birds of Prey movie

OG_BlackMask.jpg

Ewan McGregor might not be the first actor who comes to mind for a fearsome crime lord. But behind a black mask, maybe he’ll be more believable as a sadistic Gotham City gangster who enjoys disfiguring and torturing his victims.

As first reported by The Wrap’s Umberto Gonzalez, McGregor has been cast as the main bad guy for the Birds of Prey film. He’ll play Roman Sionis, aka Black Mask, who murdered his parents to take over their cosmetics company but squandered that fortune with poor business decisions. When his company went under, Sionis blames Gotham City high society — including Bruce Wayne — for his downfall, dons a mask made from the wood of his father’s casket and puts together a gang of criminals called The False Face Society.

But this is the Birds of Prey movie, not the next Batman flick. And with the introduction of Huntress (to be played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) alongside Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn, it doesn’t seem like there will be time for a bad guy’s origin story. Yet maybe that’s all somehow tied together.

Black Mask has become a prominent member of Batman’s rogues gallery since his introduction in 1985. He’s been notably featured in the Batman: Arkham Origins video game, in addition to animated series like The Batman and The Brave and the Bold, and animated films like Under the Red Hood and Bad Blood. (I like the ebony wood-carved mask, rather than the skull but that appears to be well-established.)

He’s a good choice for a movie villain that isn’t from the familiar collection of the Joker, Penguin, Riddler and Mr. Freeze. (Maybe we should include Bane and Ra’s Al Ghul in there too.)

McGregor is a curious pick since he doesn’t typically play an outright bad guy (though he has played a criminal, co-starring with Titans’ Brenton Thwaites in Son of a Gun). But Birds of Prey is apparently been looking for a somewhat comedic presence who can maybe go unhinged. Previous actors attached in rumors to the Black Mask role were Sharlto Copley and Sam Rockwell.

But according to director Cathy Yan (Dead Pigs), the Birds of Prey script (written by Christina Hodson, who’s also writing a Batgirl movie for DC) has a lot of dark humor to it. The movie is also going to be rated R, which could indicate a harder edge or pushing the violence and language as the two Deadpool movies have.

Birds of Prey is set to hit theaters on Feb. 7. 2020. As it stands, the movie will follow Aquaman, Shazam, and Joker on the DC Films release schedule.

James Gunn ready to jump from Marvel to DC and take over Suicide Squad 2

gunn_hands.png

Marvel’s loss is apparently about to become DC’s gain.

As first reported by The Wrap’s Umberto Gonzalez and Beatrice Verhoeven, James Gunn is in discussions with Warner Brothers to write a new script for Suicide Squad 2. He may also be in line to direct the project.

Gunn is only available to take over the Suicide Squad sequel because he was fired from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 by Disney after a series of old tweets making tasteless jokes about pedophilia and rape were brought to attention by right-wing activists. Though Marvel pushed to have Gunn reinstated and many supporters criticized Disney for the swift decision, the studio didn’t waver. With no director, the production for GotG 3 was put on hold, though Gunn’s script for the film will still likely be used.

Besides being the creative force behind the GotG franchise, another reason Marvel advocated for bringing Gunn back was because other studios were ready to line up for his services once he was cut loose. It wasn’t difficult to draw the conclusion that Warner Brothers and DC would be more than happy to hire one of Marvel’s top directors if he became available. And now, that’s apparently exactly what’s happening.

Suicide Squad is a perfect fit for Gunn. The group of supervillains turned government operatives by threat of death is a roguish collection of characters similar to what Gunn had with the Guardians. Maybe Star-Lord, Rocket Raccoon and Groot weren’t villains, per se, but they were thieves. Gamora and Drax were definitely murderous!

TheWrap’s report says that Gunn is bringing “a completely new take” to the project, so it’s not a given that the group in Suicide Squad 2 will be Harley Quinn, Deadshot, Captain Boomerang, Killer Croc, Katana and Rick Flagg. But being in the Harley Quinn business with Margot Robbie is smart for DC, so it’s a safe bet that she’ll be in the movie. Unless Will Smith is too expensive, Warner Bros. probably wants his star power. Viola Davis as Amanda Waller bring some prestige too.

But everyone else in the group seems expendable, though the lineup has been pretty consistent throughout Suicide Squad’s comic book run. (Technically, all of these characters are expendable under Waller’s supervision.) Does anyone really want to see Cara Delevingne as the Enchantress again? Maybe all of the cast is contractually obligated to return. That might include Jared Leto’s Joker too.

The possibility of Gunn doing a deep dive on DC’s archive of villains — as he did with Marvel’s cosmic characters — and possibly overhauling the group adds some excitement to this project. (Some villains will surely be dispatched quickly, in order to demonstrate the premise.) Also, Gunn is a proven commodity with superhero blockbusters, unlike Suicide Squad director David Ayer and Gavin O’Connor (The Accountant), who was previously slated to helm Suicide Squad 2.

Personally, I thought Disney had no choice but to fire Gunn after those tweets came out. Yes, those tweets were unearthed by people simply wanting to take down celebrities with liberal views, and Disney could have stood up to that effort. They’re in the family-friendly business and even if Gunn was acting in a persona meant to provoke and shock, that’s not a question executives wanted to keep answering.

We don’t yet know if Marvel will rebound and hire the right director for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, but their track record indicates they’ll find the right man or woman for the job. But Gunn’s fingerprints will still be on the movie. Maybe he’ll end up winning by taking on a fresh project for him and providing a boost for DC in the process.

And what if this ends up becoming a bigger role for him with DC Films too? Gunn has experience in helping build the Marvel cinematic universe. Could he do what Zack Snyder couldn’t and put together a cohesive, appealing collection of inter-connected superhero films? If so, this ultimately really could be DC’s gain.

Does it matter if we’re old or new to comics? Aren't we all fans?

Flash_DCrebirth.png

I didn’t grow up reading comic books, as I have said many times on the podcast. I am 100% a newb, if you want to use that term.

In fact, the only reason I got into comics was because Arrow premiered on the CW network. After that, it was The Flash. Once I got into those stories, I started watching Daredevil on Netflix and then I was hooked.

I truly started to embrace my newly created comic fandom when I was able to, as luck would have it, get in on DC’s Rebirth and that’s why I’m more fond of DC characters than Marvel’s. (Don’t get me wrong: the MCU completely blows away the DCEU almost every time.) I haven’t been a lifelong fan; I never went to comic book stores as a kid.

But does any of that actually really matter? It shouldn’t matter how I became a fan or why I became a fan. It should only matter that I am a fan.

No matter what your “ah-ha” moment was, we should support each other because we are all here to believe in something bigger than ourselves. Something that grips us and takes us away from this crazy reality that we live in. Good days, bad days and whatever is going on in your life when you pick up a page or turn on a show for however long it takes you to complete the media you are consuming, you are somewhere else. 

You’re a superhero fighting crime with powers that you cant even dream up. Maybe you aren’t a perfect hero like Batman or Daredevil, but your heart is always in the right place. Are you goofy like a Booster Gold? Or maybe you are Captain America where the good of the country is put above all else. Maybe you’re trying to be a playboy billionaire in an iron suit. Or are you just a friendly neighborhood Spider-Man? 

It doesn’t matter what you are trying to be when you read a comic or watch a show. The only thing that matters is that you have your reason and no one can judge you for that. I read a bunch of books, from mysteries to thrillers to biographies, but nothing else I’ve discovered has that crazy ability to take you to a place where you have never been. To visually blow you away with each page turn or swipe, depending on how you are reading your story.

That’s what has been the most compelling part of comics for me, how easy it is to visualize the story. To visualize that you are the one in the suit or you are the one with a cape. My wife can’t seem to get past the whole comic books thing. I keep telling her once you allow yourself to get past that initial stigma, you’ll lose yourself into something that is bigger than you.  

I love the stories, I love the characters and the colors, and I love the fact that at this point I will never run out of material to consume. So please don’t make a big deal over why someone became a fan. Just welcome them into a world that can be fun and amazing if you let it.

I’m grateful to comic books for taking me to places I have never been. Thank you, comics.

Why you should sign up for DC Universe

dc_universe.jpeg

If you don’t know what DC Universe is by now, then you probably haven’t listened to the podcast or have been living under a rock since San Diego Comic-Con. Just in case you fall into one of those two categories, let me briefly explain it to you.

DC Universe is a new streaming service that has everything DC from comics to movies to original content and even a fan community. If you are a DC fan or really just a comic book fan in general, then this is the service for you.

I believe that you have to break down DC Universe into two parts: the comic book part and the original content part. I think that’s why I’ll try to break it up and review it as two separate parts once when the original content part launches. So for now, let’s just cover the current content on the service.

By the way, Ian and I spent 40 minutes breaking down the service in detail on our DC Universe special edition.

A bunch of comic book aficionados are unhappy with the amount of content currently on the site. It’s like they expected DC to put every single thing they’ve created on the site from day one. That expectation is completely unreasonable.

DC is instead taking the approach where it will rotate the comics, movies, and TV shows available and will always have new content on the site. I believe the intent is to create a constant stream of content discovery. Always rotating and adding new content while getting rid of the old. That makes the whole thing more fun. It creates a since of urgency to read comics while you can because you never know how long they are going to stay on the site.

That discovery has completely pulled me in and has me hooked. On the podcast, I’ve mentioned plenty of times how I’m new to comics. I don’t know everything that there is; it’s all new to me. I’m not jaded by having read the same book 15 times. I have never read or watched the Death of Superman story arc, so when I was able to tap on the picture for The Death of Superman, it not only showed me the movie but all of the comics I would need to understand the entire story arc.

I thought to myself, that’s it! DC Universe has figured it out. They realized out how to make content discovery and consumption seamless. It shouldn’t be about having to search and search, and just find something. That’s overwhelming, especially with the amount of content DC has. That’s the selling point. You name the topic or character or story arc and the site will show you where to begin.

If you need to learn more about a character, the “Encyclopedia” feature is for you. You need to learn about kryptonite or the Joker or anything DC related, they have a simple place to find out. If you want to connect with people who are just like you and believe in having fun, check out the “Community.” It is 100% about the user. After searching the site, I found plenty of new characters to learn about. 

Batman: The Animated Series was on everyday after school, and I was reminded of my childhood by watching the show in beautiful HD. I don’t think I would’ve ever purchased a Harley Quinn comic on my own, but thanks to DCU I can read multiple books she’s in now.

That’s a great thing. If you don’t like a character normally, well, now you don’t have to worry about spending your money on it. For 5-7 dollars a month, depending on when you subscribed, you get access to everything. Unlimited access. No fear of not liking something. If you don’t, then no harm.

I’ve already enjoyed so many comics and watched things that I would’ve never been able to see normally, all because of this service. Even if all of the original content like Titans and Harley Quinn are a bust, you can’t tell me that you won’t find 5-7 dollars worth of comics and older shows or movies to watch.

Please give DC Universe a try. You will not be disappointed.  

OK, the Joaquin Phoenix Joker movie is becoming more intriguing

joaquin_joker.jpg

Last week, director Todd Phillips released the first photo of Joaquin Phoenix in his Joker movie. The image seemed rather pedestrian at first glance, with Phillips writing the caption “Arthur.” Arthur looked like just a guy — albeit maybe a sad, down on his luck guy.

But that seemed to be the point. The man who became the Joker — a homicidal maniac and criminal mastermind, Batman’s greatest foe — wasn’t anyone special. The photo of Phoenix might have even presented something of a blank canvas, if you took the time to stare at it. Is he smirking? Does he give off any sense of the maniac to be unleashed?

The non-descript photo also raised the question of how much “Joker” we’ll see in Phillips’s film. Will the movie mostly be the deterioration of a failed comedian and fledgling criminal into a mentally unhinged murderer whose life is eventually only completed by finding an adversary, maybe a funhouse mirror image, in Batman?

View this post on Instagram

Arthur.

A post shared by Todd Phillips (@toddphillips1) on

Even so, will Arthur (full name Arthur Fleck, according to reports) only become the Joker by the end of the film, opening the door to the character and storylines familiar to millions of comic book, cartoon and movie fans? Or will we see the so-called Clown Prince of Crime in action for, say, a full third act?

What would be really fun is if we don’t see Phoenix’s version of the Joker until he appears on screen in the finished him. But I realize we don’t live in that world — and maybe we never did. The Joker will surely appear in a trailer and promotional features. Maybe he’ll get an Entertainment Weekly cover too.

It didn’t even take a week for Phillips to provide a glimpse of what his Joker will look like. Returning to Instagram with a short video, the director posted a short clip of Arthur. Would this just be the photo come to life? It initially looked that way, but then we see projections of a clown onto Fleck, creating an unsettling glimpse of the Joker within.

Upon closer viewing, it becomes apparent that it’s not just any clown being projected. It’s Arthur as the Joker, complete with his signature purple jacket and orange vest. And then we see him. The make-up is on his face. The demented smile is there before turning deadly serious.

View this post on Instagram

Camera test (w/ sound). Joker.

A post shared by Todd Phillips (@toddphillips1) on

There it is: Joaquin Phoenix as the Joker. That could easily be a comic book cover. The question is whether or not that will be the final version we see in this movie. Phillips’s caption says “Camera test (w/ sound). Joker.” Maybe not exactly a definitive statement, though it feels that way.

Yet this doesn’t mean that what we see from Phoenix in that clip will be the newly redefined version of the character. Even if that’s the Joker we’re left with by the end of the film, he could still go on to become the more flamboyant version from the comic books or the 1989 Batman film. He could evolve into Heath Ledger’s grease-painted master of chaos in The Dark Knight or the tatted-up gangster portrayed by Jared Leto in Suicide Squad.

Personally, the idea of a standalone film depicting the Joker’s origin didn’t appeal to me initially. Joaquin Phoenix playing the role was interesting, however. I’ll watch him in just about anything he does. But now, interest is growing into intrigue. Curiosity is getting stronger. Phillips and Phoenix are doing a good job of making this movie enticing.

Joker has a scheduled release date of Oct. 4, 2019.