Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

2014_review_comics

2014 was a banner year for the comic book. Those flimsy paper books have so thickly embedded themselves in Hollywood that a major piece of Marvel or DC news is dropping every week, to the extent that two full entries of this 14-part list burst onto the scene as recently as last week. Not every comic book movie was a masterpiece (one stunk so spectacularly that it may, along with a fair amount of cybercrime, threaten the very fate of Sony’s superhero output). But plenty of them were, and the general fervor around them has risen to a point where giggly anticipation of Avengers: Age of Ultron is practically as much fun as Age of Ultron undoubtedly will be. Because of that, this list isn’t just milestones we saw in comic book movies. It’s the 14 greatest moments — movie scenes, movie news, major studio announcements — from this ever-growing sect of comic book movie culture; a culture that will continue (barring any financial disasters or drastic changes in audience taste) to expand outward for the foreseeable future. When a comic book movie wins Best Picture (I’ll ballpark it and say, perhaps 2047 and Great Lakes Avengers 6: The Rebirth), we’ll know superheroes are here to stay. Next year and Age of Ultron will no doubt render all this obsolete, but for now let’s see what 2014 had to offer.

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Wonder Woman

We may not have entered the golden age of superheroines just yet — is this the Bronze Age? Iron? Cubic Zirconia? — but things are certainly looking much brighter than they ever have before. Earlier this week, Marvel announced its standalone Captain Marvel film (hurray, Carol Danvers!) and now word is eking out about what we can expect to see from DC’s own head superheroine, Wonder Woman. We already know more about Wonder Woman (Diana Prince if you’re into concealing identities) and her role in the DC universe than we know about Captain Marvel and the respective MCU, including who will play her (Gal Gadot) and when she’ll first appear (she’s the third lead in Batman v Superman: The Justice is Coming), but that still leaves a lot to learn, including what we can expect from her planned solo film, arriving after Batman and Superman presumably bash each other’s heads in while WW sighs dismissively and then does something cool over on the side. And yet! Over at Bleeding Cool, the outlet reports a bevy of information about not just the first Wonder Woman feature, but subsequent follow-ups. It’s a franchise! It’s into time-jumping! It’s history-y! It’s, well, it’s kind of brilliant.

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Aquaman in Man of Steel

Stan Lee cameos and Easter eggs that are actually visible to the eye are old hat as comic book movie conventions. The hot new thing is apparently to have an unseen cameo from a notable superhero. This trend may include the slight references to the existence of offscreen characters, like the acknowledgement of Black Panther in Iron Man 3, Stephen Strange (aka Dr. Strange) in Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Adam Warlock in Thor: The Dark World and Guardians of the Galaxy, but now it’s starting to be bigger than those inconsequential fan-service winks. Characters are showing up in and adding to the action of major comic book movie plots without actually being visible in the frame or named in any way whatsoever. So far, we’ve already gotten Frank Castle, aka The Punisher, in the Captain America sequel and Aquaman in Man of Steel. Don’t recall seeing either? Exactly. They weren’t technically in those movies, but in a way they also sort of were. More so for The Punisher, if that’s in fact who is alluded to in a recent interview at ComingSoon.net with Winter Soldier co-director Joe Russo. He points out that when Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) is on the run from HYDRA agents driving DCPD cars, a yellow Penske truck helps out by slamming into a couple of those undercover baddies, and then later a Penske truck is also involved in the death of a certain character. “The man who drives that truck is very highly trained,” Russo said, hinting that it’s also a […]

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Batmobile in Batman vs Superman

The movies of director Zack Snyder are about as polarizing as any studio filmmaker’s, so when he tweeted out a picture of the new Batmobile from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, we can assume he was prepared for some criticism. Fans complained about a particular aspect of the vehicle that does not conform to the version seen in the comics: the guns. This new Batmobile is front-loaded with weapons that would not look out of place in an American military vehicle. It’s a concerning decision, especially since Batman’s code of ethics precludes him from intentionally killing people. But the real problem is that it shows how little Snyder has learned from the mistakes of Man of Steel. We all remember the outcry from fans when Snyder had Superman kill General Zod in that movie’s climax, and it appears that Snyder is doubling down on the violence, despite that criticism. But it is unfair to lay all this at Snyder’s feet. There has been an increasing militarization of our superheroes afoot for decades, and Snyder is only continuing that tradition. In the Marvel world, superheroes perpetually exist in a military milieu. Tony Stark is a reformed defense contractor, while The Avengers was essentially about a Special Forces unit that prevented another 9/11.

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Ben Affleck Batman

On the surface, this may sound like the most throwaway news in the entire world — Ben Affleck is 41, whatever, you guys, even Wikipedia knows that – but the reveal of just how old Affleck’s character will be in his highly anticipated Batman debut signals one major plus for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice: no more origin stories, we’re done with that stuff now. One of the superhero film’s producers, Michael Uslan, recently spoke to the Asbury Park Press (via Comic Book Movie and /Film) and let slip the following: “So, [the Batman universe casting backlash] has happened time and again, and it happened with Affleck. To go back to the original thought of Bruce Wayne in his mid-40s, I think he’s going to be extraordinary.” Nice job slipping that little tidbit in there, Uslan. Of course, the news that Batman will be older than we’re used to seeing on the big screen isn’t really news, at least rationally speaking. At forty-one, Affleck is the oldest actor to play the role in a cinematic capacity (Christian Bale was thirty-one when Batman Begins debuted, George Clooney was thirty-six when Batman & Robin hit the screen, Val Kilmer was thirty-five in Batman Forever, and Michael Keaton was thirty-seven when he began his Batman run), but this is confirmation that the character itself will be older than we’ve previously experienced on the big screen. What’s most surprising about this news, however, is how it impacts another facet of Batman’s life: how long he’s actually been Batman.

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Justice League movie

Sounds like someone over at Warner Bros. just got a cool new calendar and is pretty keen to get it filled up. The studio has announced a slew of thirteen release dates that will take it — and their growing DC-centric series, which account for nine of these dates — into the next six years. Do you hear that sound? It’s the noise that a thousand Marvel calendars make when they all get flipped open at once. It’s okay, guys, while Warner Bros. appears to be going all-in on this DC stuff, these new dates don’t directly conflict with any planned Marvel properties. It’s a smart move from the studio, which has apparently allowed Marvel to take over dates in early May, July and November while sticking their films into slots that run the gamut from the middle of June to early April and beyond. Memorial Day also appears to be the studio’s new stomping ground, but only for a pair of animated features that, if they pan out in the way we think they will, won’t have much other competition anyway. Let’s take a look:

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General Atmosphere - Day 2 - Comic-Con International 2012

Today marks the start of the San Diego Comic-Con International, a 4-day celebration of the popular arts that draws north of 100k people to Southern California’s most lovely city. It also draws all the marketing power of movies, television, pop art, comics and just about anything else that can be classified as geeky or nerdy. As we do throughout the rest of the year, we’d like to point you in the direction of great reads around the movie blogosphere. But in the absence of many great longform pieces from Comic-Con, we’re just going to give you the Required Clicks — the images, videos and news you shouldn’t miss this weekend. Just remember to leave a tab open for us, as we will also be delivering all kinds of Comic-Con goodness this weekend.

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batman-v-superman-logo

Here’s something that is true: filmmaker Kevin Smith is a consummate comic book fan, one who almost got to see his own vision of Superman hit the big screen a couple of decades ago (the film that would have been titled Superman Lives, a failed feature that was so tweaked, rewritten, and run into the ground that it was eventually in the nineties), one who has also penned some special series about another favorite comic book superhero (that would be Batman) and someone who is clearly excited about what Zack Snyder‘s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice holds for DC Comics’ most beloved superheroes and the DC universe at large. Here’s something else that is true: Kevin Smith is not involved with Batman v Superman, and the proliferation of rumors that link the busy filmmaker to a film that he’s not even remotely attached to have become so bizarre and bloated that it’s incredible that anyone could discuss them with a straight face, no matter how desperate everyone seems to be for information on the much-hyped film. The latest Smith-centric rumor that recently hit the web held that Smith penned an entire fake script for the production, which was then purposely leaked it to the press to throw them off the trail of the film’s actual direction. This is, of course, not true. Smith himself took to the Internet today to straighten out a rumor that gained significant traction, well, on the Internet. Cinema Blend clued their readers in to a Smith announcement (Smith-nnouncement? Smod-ment?) earlier today that vowed to clear up the […]

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Batman v Superman

Comic-Con has begun to rear its ugly head. And with it, the fans patiently waiting for Comic-Con have quietly gone insane, and are now treating every baseless internet rumor like pure liquid truth dribbled from the mouth of a loving God. But fear not, you crazed rabble. Warner Bros and Zack Snyder have provided something real: the first photo of the Man of Steel (thanks to USA Today) in this Man of Steel sequel with a completely different title. Take it in below. (And please adjust your screen brightness accordingly. You’ve been warned.)

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batman-v-superman-logo

Bad titles aren’t a big deal. You can have a bad title and still be a great movie. Just look at Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. Or The Shawshank Redemption, which appears on as many lists of the worst titles of all time as lists of the greatest movies of all time. Typically, though, a bad title is assigned to a bad movie. It’s not really a coincidence, either, as a bad title is a good sign of a bad production overall. It’s a first impression of a total failure on all creative levels. So, when we see a title like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, there’s good reason to think there’s trouble brewing with that movie. It’s not just worthy of snark and parody (although I am proud of my “Dawn of Buford T. Justice” gag). Titles of franchise installments have been getting out of hand for years, and it’s always fun to ridicule something that’s basically a double colon title (Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace and Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life) or a name that doesn’t really make a lot of sense (Quantum of Solace and Star Trek Into Darkness). But this latest offender isn’t just bad. It’s a representation of all that’s wrong with comic book movies right now.

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published: 12.19.2014
A-
published: 12.18.2014
C-
published: 12.17.2014
B+


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