Suicidal Glee

Folks are talking about the new Suicide Squad Posters…and drawing comparisons to the Superman V Batman posters.

Here is the new trailer:

Uh…and here is the most recent Batman v Superman:

Notice anything?  Like the posters?  The trailer for the Suicide Squad suggest an energetic and fun film.  I was not sure how well the Suicide Squad would translate, after all, it is comprised of established bad guys from the DC Universe.  There is a sense of goofiness amid the grit and violence.  The attitude coming across is not grim.

Batman V Superman?  It seems like a dour and angry affair.  Nobody cracks a smile (aside from Lex Luthor).  It is trying so hard to scream “Epic”, it misses that there should be cheer.  It should be inspiring.

Suicide Squad (like Deadpool) is showing a gritty violent side paired with a wink and a smirk.  A bit of joy, almost.  Batman v Superman?  It pairs gritty and dark violence with a joyless intensity.  And I wonder how that can be.  How is it that the band of bad guys forced to be heroic looks way more fun than Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman???

Direct Sequel vs Kinda a Sequel

Zack Snyder has commented that in his mind, Batman V Superman is actually the Man of Steel Sequel.  There is a Man of Steel 2 on the Warner Brothers slate-with talk of George Miller directing (which would be exciting)-but Zak really feels this is the true follow-up.

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And this feels like it is becoming an issue with both Marvel and DC films.

In the early days, the Marvel stand alone films were allowed to focus on the hero.  There might be a cameo, or a supporting role (Black Widow in Iron Man 2 and Captain America: The Winter Soldier).  But the films were primarily focused on the hero’s journey, while the larger Avengers story-line might be lightly hinted at.

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But Captain America: Civil War seems to be suffering the same problem as Batman v Superman… so stuffed with heroes, it feels more like “Avengers: Infinity War-Prologue”.  They are feeling less like proper films in a franchise and more like the setup films.  Adding Spider-Man to Civil War only enhances that.

I kind of get what they are doing with Batman v Superman, because Warner Bros has been playing catch-up after trying to determine how to get that Avengers cash without totally looking like they are trying to copy the the actual Avengers formula.

So we are getting long movies full of heroes, all while they give less and less room for the title character.  Part of what I enjoyed about both Ant-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy was they had connections to the greater shared universe they inhabit without losing their own spirit.

I worry both DC and Marvel will be making it near impossible to allow even their solo movies to be focused on the hero whose name occupies the Title Card.

Better, But Still Not Quite…There…

So San Diego Comic Con saw the release of a new trailer for next year’s Batman vs Superman and…

Well, I am a little more hopeful…but not yet excited.

The trailer is unclear if Batman has been active for years or if he retired, though there seems to be indications he is returning to his cowl.

While I am a bit bummed that we will not have an established friendship, they are clearly coming at this with the heroes fight, realize they are wrong, join forces model.  This is, certainly, a classic comic book story.  But Superman and Batman have a long history as close friends.  I would hope they can do it as effectively as John Byrne did in 1986’s Man of Steel mini-series.

bats_supesThey cannot, of course, give us a long established relationship, as Man of Steel established the very first time people saw Superman was his battle with Zod.  And the Man of Steel is our introduction to the DC Cinematic Universe.  It is off to a grim start.  I have expressed in discussions with friends that I am bothered by the literal hero worship aspect because I felt it had not yet been earned.  Granted, the film is likely set a few months after the previous film…and I can appreciate that they are trying to address all the destruction in Man of Steel.

So what makes me feel more hopeful?

Lex-LuthorThe Man of Steel Returning cast.  Getting to see Clark Kent active as a reporter.  Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor is intriguing to me right now.  Jeremy Iron’s Alfred seems to nail the idea that Alfred is Batman’s needed conscience.  It looks pretty exciting.  Wonder Woman looks tough.

wonder-woman1So, I am still cautious and not yet at optimistic.

Super Heroes All Grown Up…

Batman_Vs_Superman_MovieJeet Heer has made a rather thoughtful piece on the “grown up-ness” of Super-hero films.  This is not an entirely new phenomenon, after all, the Burton Batman films faced criticism of being to scary.  But yet, the family friendly super-hero film does seem to be progressively scarce.

While Marvel seems hit or miss, some films being lighter than others, DC seems to be making films aimed squarely at the Frank Miller and Alan Moore* fanboys.  I’ve have expressed frustration in the past that DC has set a dark tone for their universe.  And the next film we get is March’s Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice.  And while I think the latest trailer is a little more promising, I still feel like it sets the trajectory in the wrong direction.

Man of Steel was a mopey and grim affair.  And the very next step is to pit the flagship heroes against each other?  And then we get Suicide Squad?  Understand, I have a soft spot for the original Suicide Squad, and by no means am I opposed to Amanda Waller getting back to the big screen.

But the Suicide Squad being the third entry in DC’s shared cinematic world keeps the tone overwhelmingly dark.  Where is the light toned DC film?  Where heroes are fun?  That you can take your kids?

suicide-squadOn the one hand, I feel Heer goes overboard.  The article has deep implications that super-heroes films aimed at adults should not exist.  I just cannot agree with this.  I dare say it is a genre that is at home with adults.  And telling artists and writers they must write for kids or stop writing super-hero material (although Miller has written fairly little Super-Hero fare in last decades)…seems absurd.

On the other hand?  Jeet is right about the lack of fun super-hero movies that are aimed kids or at least families.  There are far to few, and while the Avengers franchise teeters back and forth, Marvel’s TV side is just getting darker.  I loved Daredevil.  And Daredevil has long been more for college students and older in all his formats.  But the only fun Super-Hero on TV right now is the Flash.  We need more shows in that vein.  Superman should be in that vein.

But I have two little nephews (ages three and four) who like super-heroes.  My older nephew loves the Avengers, in spite of not seeing any of the movies.  They both think Spider-Man and Batman are awesome.  They like to pretend to fly like Superman.

The_Amazing_Spider-Man_2_posterI have no idea how old they will need to be to see any of those characters recent films.  But I can easily say it might be years.  And that is a bummer.  I am not calling for an end to super-hero films for adults…there should be room for movies like Deadpool and Kick Ass.  I am simply asking that we get more all ages super-hero films.  Hey DC…how about a rollicking comedy centered on Plastic Man?

*Moore has switched to slamming grown up heroes and anyone who likes super-heroes over ten.  Not a change for the better.  he is also a guy who thinks the sexual awakings of young literary heroines is worth writing.  Unsure how that is better than adding rape to Super-hero comics.

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