Big Changes Coming For DC & The DCEU

This past week Discovery officially took over Warner Bros. and its properties including DC Comics and DC Entertainment. After doing so, the company (rebranded as WB Discovery) announced they were radically overhauling DC Entertainment and its superheroes, specifically their films and TV shows including those of the DC Extended Universe (DCEU). Even though there have been very successful DCEU efforts like Aquaman and Peacemaker, other releases did not exactly hit the high bar when it came to box office sales or critical/fan reception (Wonder Woman 1984). The goal of the restructuring is to make the DCEU genuinely competitive with the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

This would mean that a head honcho would be hired to oversee the production of DCEU films and TV shows in the same manner that Marvel Studios president, Kevin Feige, does with the MCU. This also implies that the DC films and TV shows will be more coherent and less disjointed, while some once-prominent properties will get more attention. In fact, WB Discovery stated that Warner Bros. allowed top tier properties like Superman “languish” to the detriment of the DCEU and DC.

The Snyderverse and Stalled Efforts

Frankly, the coming changes are a much needed shot in the arm for DC and the DCEU, which has lacked a strong visionary leader. Previous leaders like Walter Hamada, Geoff Johns and Zack Snyder proved to be unable to present a clear direction for their films. Only Snyder came the closest to presenting a vision that was coherent. Unfortunately, Snyder is also a film director and when his Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice did not impress critics and fans, and Justice League failed to reach the success of The Avengers, he was ushered out of the door by Warner Bros. and the DCEU that he helped create basically fell apart. Part of the problem with Zack Snyder being in charge with the DCEU (or the Snyderverse as some fans called the early films) is that although Snyder is a gifted director, what was needed to oversee the films was a producer in the mold of Kevin Feige. A producer is tasked with the production of films or TV shows and brings a guided vision to entire productions. Directors are focused on individual films first and bring their own stamp to what they film. It is not possible given a director’s schedule to expect him or her to oversee the vision of several films at once.

Even before Snyder’s exit, projects were stalled after big announcements, while conflict occured with many actors and filmmakers. Directors and writers joined and left projects. Then there were the casting headaches Warner Bros. faced from the fact that Henry Cavill, cast as Superman in the Snyderverse, was for all purposes, dismissed to the outlandish and criminal behavior of Ezra Miller, whose film The Flash has not even come out yet. Then there is the fact that The Flash was in perpetual development hell for the longest time as directors and writers exited the film left and right. Now, there are rumors that Miller will be fired from his role and in his situation it would be easy. Since The Flash deals with the title hero time traveling and alternate universes, just reshoot the ending to replace Miller with a new actor. Even Grant Gustin from the TV version of The Flash would be a better choice, although that casting may be too confusing for some.

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Peacemaker Joyfully Revels In Violence And Silliness

Peacemaker is the first TV show set in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) and streams on HBO Max. It’s also a spinoff of The Suicide Squad and follows the further adventures of the idealogically fanatic superhero Peacemaker/Chris Smith (John Cena), who was rightly left for dead at the end of the film.

After been rescued and hospitalized by the U.S. government group A.R.G.U.S., as seen in the post-credis scene of The Suicide Squad, Peacemaker is recruited by that group’s black ops team to fight alien creatures who inhabit host human bodies and are called Butterflies because of the way the aliens appear.

The black ops team is made up of an eclectic group of goofy or over-the-top violent characters including the deadly and tough A.R.G.U.S. agent Emilia Harcourt (Jennifer Holland), John Economos (Steve Agee), an insecure tactical support agent, Leota Adebayo (Danielle Brooks), a new A.R.G.U.S. recruit who becomes good friends with Chris, and their exasperated mercenary leader Clemson Murn (Chukwudi Iwuji). An unofficial recruit is Adrian Chase aka the costumed Vigilante (Freddie Stroma), an overeager sociopath who looks up to Peacemaker and fashions himself as Peacemaker’s best friend. But that is actually Peacemaker’s pet bald eagle, Eagly.

As the group carry on their mission to eliminate the Butterflies, they learn a lot about each other and gradually earn each other’s trust, respect and even friendship. The one person who is most affected by the experience is Chris himself who begins to question his extreme jingoistic view of life and even becomes likeable.

In The Suicide Squad, the Peacemaker was a real jerk, a total D-Bag, and when he was supposedly killed off, hardly anyone mourned him unlike the other characters. But the TV show went to great lengths to humanize him and it paid off. Yes, he is still a jerk who is too cocky, but we learn that beneathe that false bravado hides a wound psyche and the emotional center of Peacemaker.

The TV show is written by James Gunn, who also directed most of the episodes. Much of the success of the show is due to the film director who reinvented the Suicide Squad and presented a possible new direction for the DCEU. As always, Gunn demonstrates his twisted filmmaking skills thanks to his well-written characters and fast-moving scripts, which keeps surprising viewers. All the actors are especially good in this show and bring an extra dimension to their characters. Cena was the best surprise with his role because of the way he is able to show different levels to his character.

As is James Gunn’s forte, Peacemaker excels at its level of cheekiness, graphic violence, and its overall raunchy nature. This is certainly not a show for the kids to watch, but DCEU fans will love the jokes, Easter eggs, and stylized action. There are a few cameos by DCEU characters that actually work and add to the show’s enjoyment. Fans of hair and glam metal bands will love the soundtrack which is peppered generously with many songs. The standout song used in Peacemaker is, naturally, Wig Wam’s “Do You Wanna Taste It” and it fits so well with the show’s hysterical dance number in the opening credits.

Be patient with the first episode or two as Peacemaker settles in and establishes the characters and situations. While it and the main character may be off-putting, by the second or third episode, viewers will get wrapped up and engaged with the bizarre and irreverant nature of the show as the characters are actually changed by their adventures.

After dealing with the inane Arrowverse, Peacemaker comes at the right time as the DCEU now thankfully is represented in the TV medium and it can herald a new era for DC-based TV shows.

Getting Over Recasting Gripes

Recasting roles for films and TV shows has gone on ever since the first roll of film was developed over a century ago. This included many iconic characters like James Bond, Dracula, and Sherlock Holmes. This is a normal thing and widely accepted among filmgoers and TV viewers, but lately there has been so much griping over the recasting and potential recasting of several superhero roles in upcoming films and TV shows. This especially goes for Superman, Batman, and the Black Panther, but there is no need to fret over this.

The most obvious reason for the uneasiness is that many fans are devoted to a certain interpretation and portrayal of the character and cannot move on after an actor leaves that role. They behave like it is the endo of the world and focus on the negative.

It’s funny but most of these fans have very short memories. For example, there is the current issue with Henry Cavill being replaced as Superman in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) films. Before Cavill was cast, Brandon Routh played the role in Superman Returns and many fans complained about Routh not being allowed to continue the role for Man of Steel and wondered why was he replaced by Cavill. Now, given the mess the DCEU is in, and the clear disdain Warner Bros. has for the current version of Superman and the director that cast the role and set the tone for the DECU (Zack Snyder), it is a certainty that Henry Cavill will be replaced. In TV, Superman is currently played by Tyler Hoechlin in Superman & Lois, and he is receiving wide acclaim for his portrayal of the Man of Steel. So, fans have to face facts, Henry Cavill is not the only person who is allowed to play Superman. There are many capable characters who could pull it off as Hoechlin is now showing and this has gone on for decades. Many thought it was impossible to recast Superman after Christopher Reeve’s iconic performance in his films, yet it was done. To be blunt it had to be done given that Reeve passed away years ago.

Then there is the casting of Batman in the upcoming films, The Batman and The Flash. Originally, the character was played in the DCEU by Ben Affleck, but before that the Caped Crusader was portrayed by Christian Bale and before that by Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer and George Clooney. In another case of short memories, Bale was considered the best actor to play Batman and when Affleck’s casting was announced for the next Batman film, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, it was widely panned. But guess what? Affleck shocked many people with how good he was in the role. Many now claim that at least in that film, Ben Aflleck gave the best interpretation of the superhero.

Sadly, one calamity after another hobbled the DCEU, which is now rumored to be rebooted in The Flash and will likely remove Cavill and Affleck. But, Batman has been played numerous times by different actors who added their own unique interpretations to the brooding superhero which can be enjoyed in different ways. In a few weeks, we’ll see the latest take of the Dark Knight as Robert Pattinson has his turn in The Batman.

In similar situation, the role of Black Panther/T’Challa in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) might have to be recast in the future and this is creating controversy. The originator of the role, Chadwick Boseman, passed away and Marvel Studios hastily announced that the role would not be recast in honor of Boseman. While this decision is commendable, it put Marvel Studios in a bind. Given the mammoth success of Black Panther, a sequel was inevitable and one is underway, but without the character. The details are under wraps but supposedly another character will assume the title of the Black Panther. This is a sound plot choice but needless. The role of T’Challa could have easily been recast and there plenty of actors who could pull it off. It has happened in the MCU when Mark Ruffalo took over for Edward Norton as Bruce Banner/the Hulk and Don Cheadle replaced Terrence Howard as James Rhodes/War Machine. The MCU did not collapse, people adjusted to the changes and everything went well. So, why not just recast T’Challa? On top of that, the sequel film, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, is going through a production hell with countless halts and difficulties. The film studio probably regrets not recasting the role and continuing T’Challa’s adventures.

Spider-Man fans also underwent their own bout of negativity when the role was recast twice after Tobey Maguire left the role. At first many complained about Andrew Garfield as the replacement Spider-Man/Peter Parker. He was too Emo, too broody, too much of a wiseguy. Still, he won over many fans who lamented him being replaced by Tom Holland when Spider-Man joined the MCU; and people fell in love with Holland’s version of Spider-Man. Yet, Andrew Garfield earned his redemption in his appearance in Spider-Man: No Way Home. After people could easily compare the three actors together, a consensus is emerging that Garfield is the best Spider-Man, which is fueling talk of him returning to the role.

This development gets to the heart of the gripe. With the other actors mentioned, they never got to do their farewell performance or do a proper goodbye. This gave the impression of lost opportunity and wondering if these actors had more time or a better film then their time doing the role would have been viewed as being more successful. That may be but at least they left a positive impression and a film legacy that can be repeatedly enjoyed.

Top Ten Most Anticipated Films & TV Shows Of 2022

After a couple of years of relatively few genre offerings, 2022 looks like it will reverse that trend with plentry of film releases and television shows airing or streaming. These are the most anticipated films and TV shows of 2022 but note their releases are not certain and will change as we just saw with Morbius, which was delayed from January 28 to April 1. Also some of the films and TV shows listed may turn out to be inferior dreck while other unlisted films and TV shows may wind up surprising everyone and become the newest classics. Without further delay here are the top ten most anticapated films and TV shows of 2022, plus some notable mentions.

Films

10. Sonic the Hedgehog 2

The first Sonic the Hedgehog was a real surprise and proved an entertaining and solid live-action film based on a video game franchise was possible. The sequel will more closely follow the Sonic videos and include more characters from the games, such as Quills and Tails.

9. The Flash

The DC Extended Unverse (DCEU) faces a reboot that replaces Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill as Batman and Superman in this live-action solo film for the Flash. This film which is loosely based on the comic book mini-series Flashpoint is bound to be controversial with many DCEU fans

8. Everything Everywhere All At Once

Michelle Yeoh stars in this trippy looking film about an ordinary woman recruited to stop an multiversal evil by channeling the skills and memories of alternate versions of herself from different realities. If anything, it should be an acting tour de force for Yeoh.

7. Lightyear

Everyone’s attention was captured the moment it was announced that this Pixar film about Buzz Lightyear would not be based on the Toy Story character but a pulp sci-fi adventure that the toy was based on. An additional bonus is that the title hero is voiced by everyone’s favorite hero, Chris Evans.

6 Thor: Love and Thunder

Director Taiki Waititi reinvigorated the Thor films with his Thor: Ragnarok. That film was so successful and beloved that Marvel Studios greenlit a fourth Thor film helmed by Waititi. This cosmic-based entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) once again stars Chris Hemsworth in his legendary role as Thor and features the Jane Foster Thor and the Guardians of the Galaxy.

5. Jurassic World: Dominion

The conclusion of the Jurassic World trilogy finally unleashes the dinosaurs into our modern world with disastrous results! The concept is a throwback to those old dinosaur films with the prehistoric animals running amok in our streets; plus Jurassic World: Dominion is bringing back our favorite characters from the original Jursassic Park.

4. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, Part One

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse took everyone by surprise over its innovative animation and fantastic storytelling about growing up, legacies and all the wild variations of Spider-Man. It was little wonder it won the Oscar for Best Animated Film. The trailer for the sequel promises more of the same as Miles Morales meets a future version of Spider-Man and more.

3. Avatar 2

The first Avatar is usually looked down upon but it is actually a great sci-fi film by James Cameron. The master director always gave us entertaining and exciting epics and this follow up to Avatar will most likely be as thrilling and present cutting-edge special effects. Just wait until the first trailer drops. By then, the excitement and anticipation for Avatar 2 will be explosive.

2. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

Our first glimpse of the sequel to Doctor Strange wowed audiences after the end credits of Spider-Man: No Way Home. The teaser featured the wild visuals and appearances by many characters to whet our appetites, including the Scarlet Witch, fresh from WandaVision. Even more enticing was the teaser’s final stinger that revealed an alternate, darker version of the Sorcerer Supreme, which possibly ties to the What If…? animated show. Then there are the rumors that the film will introduce non-MCU characters like the Fox X-Men and the Fantastic Four. let’s hope those rumors pan out.

1. The Batman

Director Matt Reeves takes his turn with DC’s most popular superhero and the trailers have blown us away which promise an emphasis on a gritty and mature version of the Caped Crusader that seems more like a crime thriller comic book brought to life that evoke the gritty, early Golden Age Batman from the comics books. The moody and dark trailers focused on a raged-fueled Batman and an actual mystery from a fiendish villain have stoked our cravings for the newest live-action Batman. Thankfully we only have to wait a few more weeks to see The Batman.

Other Noteworthy Films:

65; Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom; Black Adam; Black Panther: Wakanda Forever; Distant; Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore; Moonfall; Morbius; Nope; Secret Headquarters; Samaritan; Super Mario Brothers; Turning Red

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The Outrageous Return Of The Suicide Squad

The Suicide Squad is the latest entry in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU), directed by Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn and is currently in theaters and streaming on HBO Max. Beware of some spoilers after this notice.

This standalone sequel to 2016’s Suicide Squad features returning characters Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), and captured supervillains Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) and Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), who as part of the secret United States black ops group Task Force X, are sent on a literal suicide mission by U.S. operative Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) to the island nation of Corto Maltese, along with new characters such as Weasel (motion captured by Sean Gunn), and Blackguard (Pete Davison). However, this group is almost wiped out at the start of the film, with only Flag and Harley surviving and captured by the military of Corto Maltese. It’s revealed that they are a decoy team for a second team led by other captured supervillains Bloodsport (Idris Elba), King Shark (motion captured by Steve Agee and voiced by Sylvester Stallone), Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior), Peacemaker (John Cena) and Polka Dot Man (David Mastmalchian), who also arrive on the island at another location. They are supposed to destroy a secret weapon, which is later revealed to be an extraterrestrial entitiy known as Starro, a gigantic starfish that can seemingly destroy the world.

The second group eventually rescues Flag, who was actually captured by rebels intent on overthrowing the island’s military government. Harley is able to escape by herself in an exciting and colorful action sequence and then she joins up with the rest of the Suicide Squad. They eventually head to a secret research facility housing Starro, leading to the biggest action scenes in The Suicide Squad with the group showing off their abilities and a surprise confrontation when the US government’s role with Starro is revealed. The final battle features the gigantic alien starfish ready to destroy a city Godzilla style and the members of the squad fighting a seemingly hopeless battle. The conclusion is both crazy, outrageous and creepy, which demonstrates the overall feel of the movie quite well.

The interaction between the characters is a highlight with Bloodsport and Ratcatcher 2 forming a father-daughter bond, and King Shark providing good comic relief with his quest for food (namely human) and friendship. Peacemaker’s contradictory love of violence in the name of peace and his rivalries with Bloodsport and Rick Flag is also enjoyable, as is Polka Dot Man’s neurosis over his mother who he sees as literally everyone. Harley is as zany and psychotic as she has been since the first Suicide Squad, lethal one minute and a seemingly ditzy blonde the next.

The connection with the first film is minimal with this film having a separate plot, although it’s not a reboot as some earlier reports said. The tone of The Suicide Squad is somewhat lighter than the previous one with numerous musical interludes and humorous moments throughout. Some of these scenes go on too long which explains the two-hour-plus running time that does stop the momentum of the plot, but the film makes up for this during the hectic finale. The killing off of the first team at the start of the film is somewhat unfortunate as we never get to know them well, though some of them warranted more screen time. One advantage the first film had was the presence of more familiar characters, such as the Joker and Killer Croc, and a more intense feel, but the new film is still an enjoyable experience that has great action scenes and over-the-top violence. That is one thing to keep in mind if watching it with kids. There are numerous gory scenes with decapitations, King Shark devouring people with glee and faces blown off. It’s rated R and earns it, but at the same time The Suicide Squad doesn’t take itself seriously, which softens the blow and keeps things light.

Overall, The Suicide Squad is an adventurous and outrageous entry into the DCEU, which may point the way to more films like this with James Gunn returning for future unnamed movies, as well as the upcoming spin-off HBO Max series starring John Cena as Peacemaker. We are seeing more interactions like this between the streaming service and theatrical DC and DCEU films with a Gotham PD series to follow The Batman, and a Batgirl movie in the works for HBO Max. This is different than in the past when TV shows such as Gotham, and Krypton were standalone TV shows with no relation whatsoever with any films. This seems to be changing and may point to a more interconnected DC live-action universe. This was hinted at during the CW Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover that had the theatrical DCEU Flash appearing in a cameo. Having the story of The Suicide Squad continue through Peacemaker’s new show is a clear example of this interconnection.

Whether another Suicide Squad movie will be coming is not known at this time, but hopefully, based on the initial reaction to The Suicide Squad, we haven’t seen the last of Task Force X.

C.S. Link