The Past, Present and Future of the DC Cinematic Universe Part 7

That’s it!  The end is here!

Bringing everything to a close, we look at what the future may hold for DC’s Cinematic Universe.

All Marvel characters and footage © 2018 Marvel Comics Group

All DC Characters and footage © 2018 Warner Brothers


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Part 6-

The Past, Present and Future of the DC Cinematic Universe Part 4

Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice continues…a movie in which the most compelling hero is not Batman or Superman. And is the best thing in spite of have no discernible plot-line of her own.

Marvel and it’s related characters are © 2018 Marvel Entertainment

DC and it’s related characters are © 2018 Warner Brothers.

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Part 2-
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The Past, Present and Future of the DC Cinematic Universe Part 2

In Part two, we explore the movies that came right before the Man of Steel, as well as some of the failed attempts to kick off the Cinematic universe. We also begin discussing Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel.

Marvel and it’s related characters are copyright © Marvel Entertainment

DC and it’s related characters are © Warner Brothers.




The Past, Present & Future of the DC Cinematic Universe

So, after giving it a lot of thought, I have decided to jump into the world of video blogging.

The video blogs will not be straight up reviews.  Instead they will be more analysis.  I will be using them to explore things going on in the industry of film, as well as look at popular film series and explore them.

The first video for the Tripping Through Gateways blog turned into a series. I did not realize as I was writing it just how long it was going to be.  So I broke it down into seven parts.  Part one actually explores the landscape preceding Man of Steel. This is the only video in the series to deal extensively with the Marvel Movies in any form of contrast, and it mainly for the purpose of exploring DC and Warner Brother’s progress with their shared film universe.

However, as I state in the video, this is not about Marvel vs DC. This is not a proclamation on who is better. I enjoy the characters from both Marvel and DC. And I want to see DC have real success. Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and Matter Eater Lad deserve that much.


Shazam! art by Doc Shaner

New Gods art by Jack Kirby

Ultimates art by Bryan Hitch

Marvel and it’s related characters are copyright © Marvel Entertainment

DC and it’s related characters are © Warner Brothers.

Social Justice Warriors (Justice League, 2017)

Justice_League_PosterWhen it comes to the movies?  DC has been struggling to  keep up with Marvel.  Part of this is really that DC did not lay out a plan from the start. While Marvel Released films with an aim toward the Avengers, DC was trying to figure out where to start.  The Nolan Batman films were a critical success, but also very much their own universe.  When they made Green Lantern, most attempts to build a larger never made it out of the script.

There was talk for several years starting off the DC Movie Universe with a Justice League film to be be directed by George Miller. This never came to pass, and when Zack Snyder and Christopher Nolan began their work on Man of Steel it was decided this could be the start.  They did not do a ton, only lightly seeding references to a larger DC Cinematic Universe.

DC decided on following up Man of Steel not with Wonder Woman or Batman, but Batman V Superman.  Like Man of Steel, the reaction was mixed.  I am not a real big fan of either film, primarily because I feel like they are doing a rush job.  The films try and tackle big notions….but they have not earned it. Suicide Squad followed (troubling that we are meeting villains before the connected heroes). I did not mind Suicide Squad, I found it generally entertaining…but not as solid as Deadpool (whose success they were clearly aiming for).

The DC Cinematic Universe was desperate for an outright hit.  Luckily, Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot delivered that with last summer’s Wonder Woman.  And so, for me, I had a little bit of hope they might look at this success and decide to use it as a template to right the ship.  Earlier this year, Zack Snyder announced he was stepping down for family reasons (His family was dealing with a tragic suicide of one of his children). It was announced that former Marvel architect Joss Whedon was brought in.  Whedon punched up the film with new dialog and reshoots.  And what is the end result?

Superman is still dead. The world is in chaos. Bruce Wayne is actively trying to bring a team together to protect the world from the larger threats. The threat here is from Steppenwolf…he came to earth once before in an attempt to destroy the planet, but was fought off by the Amazons, Atlanteans and human kind. His weapon, three items call Mother Boxes were split among the three groups and hidden away.

Batman also has a plan to bring Superman back, which Wonder Woman is uncomfortable with, but finally agrees to. And so, the team unites and takes on Steppenwolf.

So….is this redemption for DC?  Is this the second most awesome DC Cinematic Universe flick?  The answer is “Yes”. Buuuuuut….

Okay, so, the film opens with a nice little video, kids talking to Superman with there cell phone right after he has saved some people. And then we get Batman stopping a petty crook, except that it is a ruse to catch a creature called a para-demon.  The thief asks Batman if things are getting worse because they know Superman is dead.  This is followed by the film showing the world falling into despair, set to a haunted version of Leonard Cohen’s Everybody Knows. This is all quite nice.

We also get a rather fun action sequence with Wonder Woman stopping a terror group.  This really is not a plot enhancing moment.  It is just a lot of fun to watch.   And the film has a lot of these.  There is a lot of fun action moments.  Ezra Miller and Jason Momoa clearly are having more fun than Ben Affleck.  Barry Allen has the same backstory of the the TV show (Dad in prison for murder of mom)…this is fine of course.  But it is not a storyline that really leads anywhere. I like the general characterization here though.  Barry is awkward with people in part because how time feels for him.  Admittedly, this is very similar to the comic book version of Marvel’s Quicksilver in which time moves so slow for him, he describes every minute of every day as being like waiting in line at the DMV.  Except, instead of being a jerk, Barry just struggles to slow down his thinking enough to not sound like he has severe ADD.

Aquaman has always been a sore spot of a character for DC.  He tends to get mocked endlessly for being able to “talk to fish”.  Here the film compensates a bit by making him a tough and jovial guy.  At one point he looks to Batman, smirks and says, “Dressed as a bat, I dig it.”

Cyborg is in kind of a thankless role.  He fills in the technology blanks. Ray Fischer is really likable in the role.  It just is that he feels like things just happen randomly to him.  At one point, his suit takes over and starts shooting at the newly resurrected Superman.  The idea that the mechanics are in control in such a fashion is interesting, but we do not really get an indication earlier that the mechanical part can go rogue, beyond it apparently making regular upgrades.

Gadot is spot on in her Wonder Woman boots.  The character is again a high point.  Digital mustache issues aside, Cavill is finally getting to be a Superman who likes himself. Superman seems to be more earthling than Kryptonian here.  And this is something that corrects the previous two films.  I understand the arguments about Superman and a connection for people who fall into the category of “Other”.  But Superman’s other status in the films were relegated to him acting like a life he never had was more his identity than the planet on which he grew up.  There are ways to portray the identity of “Other” without sacrificing important parts of the Superman mythos.  In this film, he no longer speaks about “on my planet”.  No, Earth is his home.  Lois is his home. Martha Kent is his home.

The action is pretty solid.  And the humor is there.  The film has bright colors! So, why did I add a “buuuuuuuuut”?

At one point, Aquaman says to the Flash, “So you were struck by lightning?”  Flash responds “Yeah, well that is the condensed version.”  And that is how the movie feels.  Apparently there was a mandate to keep the film at about two hours.  And boy is that apparent.

So many scenes feel cut short, so many conversations feel truncated.  At times, the film moves at “fan montage Youtube video” fast. We get brief glimpses of characters we want more of…and admittedly, Commissioner Gordon and Lois Lane will probably be far more prominent in the Batman and Superman follow-ups.

And then there is Steppenwolf.  A rather uninteresting character.  Remember Ronin from the first Guardians of the Galaxy?  Steppenwolf has the same goal…but without the nuance. The film is incredibly unclear about why this is…but it also does not hint at the notion there is someone behind Steppenwolf. He is a remarkably boring villain. And when you compare unfavorable to a weaker Marvel movie villain?  That has to hurt.

So, what we are left with is a film that is better than Man of Steel, Batman V Superman and Suicide Squad…but nowhere near as strong as Wonder Woman.  But that said? I had a lot of fun watching Justice League.

Blog Themes

So, August had Comic Book movie as it’s theme.  I had not intended it, I kind just of fell into it.  I started because I thought it might be nice to get the rest of the X-Men films as to go along with the Apocalypse review.  And then I though, why not the Superman movies, as I have reviewed Man of Steel and Batman V Superman.  And it snowballed from there to focus on DC properties.

So, for September, I will be looking at several films from the Marvel Franchise, including some that were outside the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  We will cover the good and the bad.  Except George Lucas’ Howard the Duck.


And next month? Halloween, Baby.  Scary movies and nothing but.  Including a look at the films of John Carpenter.

You’re Super, Supergirl (Supergirl, 1984)

supergirl-movie-posterWarner Brothers was seeking to expand the Superman franchise.  Bringing on the director of Jaws 2 (Jeannot Szwarc) and the writer of the Dark Crystal and the Masters of the Universe (David Odell) to craft a tale of the Maid of Might.

The movie opens in Argo City which is floating in some kind of alternate dimension populated by Kryptonians stuck inside a crystal city.  We are introduced to Kara Zor-El who is friends with the artist Zaltar (Peter O’Toole).  He has stolen, pardon, borrowed an Omegahedron.  This is a power source that keeps the city alive.  It is lost and Kara pursues it.  Wouldn’t you know it, the Omegahedron lands in the picnic of of a witch named Selena (Faye Dunaway).  I do not mean witch metaphorically.  She actually a witch.  And she plans to use the Omegahedron to take over the world.

Kara lands on earth in full Supergirl gear.  She is in her blue and red outfit.  Because all Kryptonians dress like this.  There is a bit where she learns to use her powers.  This is actually kind of cute sequence, and Helen Slater actually shows a lot of gracefulness in her approach to flying.

Kara discovers a school (Midvale) and sneaks in as a new student.  She becomes Linda Lee and instead of glasses, uses brown hair to disguise herself.  She is roomed with Lucy Lane.  The movie is full of References to the Superman.  Lucy is related to Lois.  Kara asked about her cousin.  News reports mention Superman.  The single definitive connection is the arrival of Jimmy Olson (Marc McClure). Jimmy is kind of selfish jerk, telling Kara/Linda not to help a guy in trouble.  Superman’s pal saying “don’t help people”.

Both Selena sets her sights on hunky dope Ethan (Hart Bochner).  Selena seduces him with a spell planning to make him fall in love.  Except he wakes up under the spell Selena cast…but the first woman he sees is Linda Lee.

Supergirl must defeat Selena in the climactic battle, or course.  Yhis involves thing like the shortest visit to the Phantom Zone ever and magic fireballs.  One thing that stands out here is that the film has no concept of time.  When Selena creates a mountain top fortress and sends Supergirl into the Phantom Zone, she soon is driving around town and faces Lucy Lane in the streets, Lucy claims Linda disappeared the day the mountain appeared.  But it seems like it was the same day, but based on the comment, it could be days or weeks.  Who knows, the movie apparently doesn’t.  And then there is a moment in the fight where Supergirl seems to forget she can fly and stumbles around a breaking floor.

The design sense is a pretty straight forward “small town” aesthetic.  Except for Selena’s hideout.  Selena’s lair is total comic book evil lair.  She lives in a run down carnival fun house.  Cause that is totally where witches live.  The crystal city of Argo is kind of boring, but then so was Krypton as imagined in the Reeve Superman films.  And part of the design includes rotating lights from a football stadium.

The positives?  Supergirl is smart and resourceful.  Yeah, they play her as naive, but this is pretty understandable.  When she is doing her heroics, she is quite clever.  Lucy Lane is quite heroic and willing to risk her life to help people.

The visual effects are decent enough for it’s time and focus primarily on heat vision and flight.  Instances where she throws punches, the punchee is painfully obviously being pulled by wires.  And went a monster is conjured by Selena, it’s damage is clearly happening to miniatures.  Supergirl fighting an invisible monster is also pretty unexciting.  We only get a glimpse of the creature as it is defeated and blinks out of existence.

The whole subplot  with Ethan being in love with Linda Lee is absolutely creepy, considering Linda is an underage school girl.  There is a scene where Supergirl flies Ethan through the air with him in a bumper car that feels like it is meant to recall the Superman and Lois flight from Superman the Movie.

While Slater plays the innocent and noble hero pretty well, but a lot of the adults seem to be going through the motions, the except being Brenda Vaccaro as Selena’s right hand woman Bianca.   She seems to be having a lot of fun in her role.  And honestly, the sleepwalking through the role actually kind of favors O’Toole’s performance as Zaltar.   Jerry Goldsmith’s score mimics John Williams, but is different enough to avoid plagiarism…yet this ends up making this feel like a lesser imitation, rather than a fresh addition to the franchise.The story is just not interesting and the film has long stretches that are very boring.  The film never spawned the franchise I suspect the filmmakers hoped it would, and it is pretty obvious why, in spite of a star-studded cast, the film just never comes together in an entertaining way.

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