Batman v Superman Heralds The New Superhero Movie War

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After waiting impatiently for many years, DC Comics fans at last get their own version of a superhero cinematic universe with the release of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The DC Extended Universe (DCEU) actually began with 2013’s Man of Steel, which focused on DC’s first superhero Superman/Clark Kent (Henry Cavill), but it featured Easter eggs that referenced a larger DC universe. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is the first real DCEU film that explores this cinematic universe. And director Zack Snyder picked a huge event for this DCEU film: the first meeting between DC’s titans Superman and Batman/Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck). But the big question is–is it good? After all, there had been much anticipation about the film for over a year, but then rumors started surfacing last month that Warner Bros. was supposedly nervous about the film based on reactions from early screenings.

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The reaction from critics has been harsh and further added to the worries that the film would kill off the DCEU before it could take off. Well, in my opinion these early reviews do the film something of an injustice (no pun intended). Batman v Superman is a good precursor to the much anticipated Justice League and does have excellent fight scenes between the two heroes. The buildup to the battle is effective in showing the lives of both Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent. Wayne is an older, bitter crime fighter who has seen his share of death and destruction, especially in the excellent prologue scene where he witnesses Superman’s fight with General Zod (Michael Shannon) from the earlier Man of Steel movie.  The experience of seeing so many of his employees dying in the chaos cements his suspicion and fear of Superman as a menace to the whole world.

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Clark Kent for his part is seen as struggling with the concept of being a god to many people and a devil to others, including the scheming Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg), who manipulates both Batman and Superman into a deadly battle for his own twisted sense of order. This whole concept of gods and monsters and our reaction to them is a key element of the film and is what drives our main characters. Scenes with Clark having heart to heart conversations with both Lois Lane (Amy Adams) and his mother Martha Kent (Diane Lane) about who he is are shown in contrast to Bruce Wayne’s attempts to come to terms with his life as a crime fighter and feeling of not having accomplished much in his life.

In regards to laying the ground work for future films, we see Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) who is a mysterious presence for much of the film until her big appearance near the final battle with DC super villain Doomsday. Her appearance in an old photo from World War I obviously sets up her forthcoming film and she does well playing the Amazonian warrior. We also see intriguing cameos of Justice League members Aquaman (Jason Momoa), Cyborg (Ray Fisher) and The Flash (Ezra Miller). All of which should increase the anticipation of the actual DC equivalent to Marvel’s The Avengers.

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The issue I have with the film is that all of this exposition and world building do take a while to get through and it does take time to finally get to the long awaited fight between Superman and Batman. As for the fight itself, it is well choreographed and brutal, but it is short and is not really the climax of the movie. I think maybe this is a problem of the marketing and title of the film. Dawn of Justice is a good description, but calling it Batman v Superman and having trailers show almost nothing but fight scenes can give someone the wrong impression of what the film is. It is not wall to wall action with Batman and Superman beating each other senseless. It is instead a continuation of the universe established in Man Of Steel and an exploration of what would happen if these otherworldly beings suddenly showed up on our world. Some reviews will state that this is all a bore, but I found a lot of these ideas interesting. However, the pacing of the film does suffer a bit when the second hour sets in and you want Batman and Superman to finally confront each other.

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In terms of the cast,  Ben Affleck is effective at showing a world-weary Bruce Wayne who is still traumatized by his parents death and also a brutal and aggressive Batman. His attempts to acquire kryptonite and later rescue of Martha Kent show a visceral fighting technique and willingness to go far to achieve his goals. Although, his depiction of apparently killing some enemies is not really consistent with the character and will be controversial. Jeremy Irons’ Alfred is very good as his faithful but skeptical servant Alfred. Henry Cavill does a fine job showing his conflict with trying to be a good reporter and find out who Batman is, while at the same time being the world’s saviour and dealing with everyone’s increasing suspicions of him. Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor is a mixed bag. He does well showing Luthor’s obsession with Superman and desire to destroy him. But his manic way of behaving is at odds with the character’s earlier interpretations of being calm, cool and in control of everything. Gal Gadot does much with her limited screen time as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman and is already an audience favorite.

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Overall, I do like this film and am looking forward to more DCEU films like Suicide Squad and Justice League. Some of the criticisms it has gotten are valid but this is in no way a bad movie like some critics are saying. I just think it was not marketed properly and does take too much time to get to the advertised fight. However, seeing the DC trinity in action was a thrill and I hope to see more standalone films for these three characters to further explore their interesting backgrounds. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice does the job of introducing all of the DC universe’s main characters and should satisfy fans who have waited a long time to see them come alive on the big screen.

 C.S. Link

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Candidates For Future Avengers Films

avengers comicsWe’re eagerly anticipating the next Avengers films coming out in 2018 and 2019, the two-part epic Avengers: Infinity War. The team’s roster will most likely include these popular heroes: Captain America, Iron Man, and the other veterans, plus newbies like Black Panther, Captain Marvel and Spider-Man. But what about beyond the third Avengers film? Will we have the same lineup or will new blood take the place of the old guard? Given how bloated Avengers: Age of Ultron felt with nine heroes, it’s unlikely future Avengers films will have large casts. So who would be interesting candidates to fill the ranks of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes as the veterans exit the stage? These are some suggestions:

Ares: The Greek god of war was a member of the Dark Avengers, so he comes with the anti-hero baggage. So, he can be a dark, more badass version of Thor as he uses traditional weapons like swords and axes with modern weapons like guns.

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Black Knight: Inspired by Arthurian legend, Dane Whitman wields a magic sword and shield and rides a winged horse. The catch is that the sword that can cut through anything has a blood curse. This all may be too magical for the science-based Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), but if there’s room for Doctor Strange then the MCU can make allowances for the Black Knight.

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Giant-Man and the Wasp: He’s actually Hank Pym, the original Ant-Man, who decided to use his shrinking power in reverse. And of course, comic book fans know that the Wasp was his wife and at one point, supposed to have been in The Avengers, as seen by some storyboards. The characters will obviously be different people in the MCU given the character situation with Ant-Man.

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Hercules: Think of a more fun version of Thor and you got Hercules! Imagine his romps as he battles and brags his way across the silver screen. Plus, his fanciful boasts and love of revelry and fighting would provide light-hearted relief as if an Avengers film could use it. Another angle is to use him and Ares or Thor as foils against one another.

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Quasar: Marvel’s answer to Green Lantern would add a cosmic angle to the Avengers’ roster. Armed with Quantum Bands fused to his wrists, these objects allow Wendell Vaughn to tap and use energy to fight evildoers. Not only that but his cosmic-based background could conceivably link the Avengers to the larger galaxy without resorting to Thanos.

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She-Hulk: Come on, we all want to see how Marvel Studios pulls this off! BTW, CG isn’t needed to bring the beautiful cousin of the Hulk to life on screen. She would make for some inspired eye candy and an excellent counterpoint to the brutish Hulk.

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Spectrum: At one time called Captain Marvel, Monica Rambeau has energy-based powers and was one of the most versatile and powerful members of the superhero team. She even led the team at one point and the spectacle of her turning into different kinds of energy would look fantastic on film.

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Spider-Woman: Hey Marvel and Sony made nice and are now sharing Spider-Man. That should embolden Marvel Studios enough to go ahead and give us Spider-Woman. Besides with her Hydra/S.H.I.E.L.D. backstory it should be cinch to throw her into the Avengers.

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Tigra: Originally Greer Grant was the superhero called The Cat but was later transformed through mystical means into Tigra with tiger-like powers. It’s easy to conceive of a sexy but tough leading lady playing this role. As with other candidates some tweaking is needed to change the mystical angle.

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Wonder Man: One of the earliest and most powerful members of the Avengers deserves his shot at the big screen. Simon Williams’ tragic story of a pawn used to betray the Avengers and his eventual redemption is a great story that can be used in a future Avengers film.

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Recent Superhero Film Casting

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The big news blazing across the Internet lately has been over the recent spate of castings for roles in upcoming superhero films. Normally, the news would bring about satisfied grunts from fans all over, but some decisions and even just the rumors have been quite controversial.

Initial Grumblings

It all started in earnest late last year with the revelation that Israeli actress Gal Gadot will play Wonder Woman in the upcoming Man Of Steel sequel. Many were very surprised by this decision and some complained that she was too skinny. Guess what? So was Christopher Reeve and bulked up just fine and in time for Superman.

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There were some grumblings around that time when fans learned that Elizabeth Olsen will appear as Wanda Maximoff, the Scarlet Witch in next year’s The Avengers: Age Of Ultron. But in the end, most had enough confidence in director Joss Whedon to give the actress the benefit of the doubt. Besides, the main cast will reprise their roles, so how much screen time will Olsen have anyway?

Then, a couple of weeks ago, fandom started raising ire when it was announced that Michael Douglas will play Hank Pym in the Ant-Man movie that is also coming out next year.  pymWhile Paul Rudd’s casting as Scott Lang, the film’s main character was acceptable for many, a bunch of whiners started going off about Douglas’ age and that the choice veers significantly from the version seen in the comic books. In the end, the movie will be about Lang and it does follow the comic books’ canon. Scott Lang did take over the Ant-Man duties from Pym and made a name for himself. Douglas is an Oscar-winning actor of high caliber and he can add needed depth and pathos to Pym. So he should be fine.

After that the Internet really went into a tizzy when rumors about the potential cast for the Fantastic Four reboot started surfacing. Director Josh Trank has been working overtime on Twitter to deny many rumors, yet it wasn’t enough to satisfy Fantastic Four fans. Trank denied in August of last year that actor Miles Teller wasn’t in consideration to play Reed Richards, but recent rumors have it that he has the role locked up along with Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm. Things seemed to calm down a bit when actor Josh Gad, rumored to be the pick for Ben Grimm, went on record to deny this latest claim. Continue reading

The Superman Movies Ranked

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For decades, the Last Son of Krypton has appeared in non-comic book media like books, cartoons, serials, and TV shows. His popularity and standing grew thanks to the film Superman in 1978. As a franchise, the Superman films experienced ups and downs ranging from epic masterpieces to the type of garbage seen in Mystery Science Theater 3000. Having viewed the films recently these are my rankings for the Superman movies.

1. Superman (1978): This film has stood the test of time and become a genuine classic. There have been many superhero films that have come since this one, but it still holds up today in spite of its dated special effects and other drawbacks.

whos got youSuperman has a sense of awe and majesty in some moments, namely, the first acts in the planet Krypton and Smallville. At times some scenes in Superman’s hometown seem taken out of a Rockwell painting. It’s these quieter moments that lend an ambience to what we are watching.

Once Superman grows up and moves to Metropolis, the movie becomes a hybrid of a romance, light comedy and adventure yarn. At these points, Superman/Clark Kent encounters colorful types like his love Lois Lane (Margot Kidder) and nemesis Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman), who is both an amusing and devious foe.

More than an origin story about Clark Kent growing up to be Earth’s greatest superhero, Superman is a loving ode to classic Silver Age comic books. Thanks goes to director Richard Donner’s respect for the source material and Christopher Reeve’s masterful performance as Superman/Clark Kent.

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2. TIE: Superman II (1981)/Man Of Steel (2013): I couldn’t decide which of the two films is greater. They both have their strengths and weaknesses, but they’re so different in style and execution. So determining which is better depends on the viewer’s taste and preference.

Superman II is very exciting and captivating with an engaging story. Kryptonian criminals come to Earth and create havoc while Superman, unaware of their activities, gives up his powers to be with Lois Lane. As fun as it is, Superman II unfortunately is littered with plot holes and conveniences.

For starters, how is it that Luthor gains entry into Superman’s Fortress of Solitude (some security!). How come Superman never learns about this? More importantly why is he so clueless about Zod and his cronies until after he renounces his powers? Why give up his powers? Just to dance in the sheets with Lois? Given the scope of his decision, it makes him seem kind of irresponsible and naive. Plus, the ending has an even bigger cop out than the first movie.

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Still, the performances by Reeve and Kidder are stellar whenever they’re together on screen. Terrance Stamp, Sarah Douglas and Jack O’Halloran are formidable and vicious villains with Stamp’s Zod displaying a sense of regality and pompousness. You’re just itching for Superman and these super jerks to finally get into it during the film’s last act. The battle in Metropolis is fun and exciting, even if it lacks the scope and effects shown in Man Of Steel. However, at least Superman showed more concern for the innocent civilians caught up in the melee, unlike Man Of Steel.

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Producer Christopher Nolan and director Zack Snyder reinvigorated the Superman franchise with the epic reboot Man Of Steel. It’s a no-expense-spared spectacular with jaw-dropping and exhausting battle scenes that finally showcase the scale of Superman’s powers.

Many elements about Superman and his mythos are updated and feel refreshing. Henry Cavill does a fine job playing Superman/Kal-El/Clark Kent and echoes Reeve’s earnestness and humble nature. At the same time, Cavill makes the role his own as the role emphasizes Superman’s loneliness. We feel that he is an outcast who just wants to help out and find himself.

As Superman searches for his past heritage, MAN OF STEELGeneral Zod (Michael Shannon) arrives on Earth his small army of evil followers with the intent of capturing Superman and transforming the Earth into a new version of Krypton. Afterwards, Superman must not only contend with Zod and a mistrustful military, but with his dual heritage. There are many terrific quiet moments when he examines his humanity.

There are so many great things about the film but it has faults. Aside from common complaints about the music, the film needed tighter editing. It’s a long movie and it feels like one. Some fights seem to go on forever, leaving you wanting the whole thing to end already. Sometimes less is more as the saying goes. Continue reading