Archive for the ‘Superman’ Category

Superheroes are defined by their villains, be it directly or indirectly. This is a fundamental fact of the conflict that lies at the core of stories featuring masked men and the people who oppose them. For example, many point to the duality of Batman and Joker. It’s been said that one cannot exist without the other. When it comes to villains, the Dark Knight’s collection of foes is widely regarded as one of the best in the medium. However, there’s one other DC hero, The Flash, whose enemies are almost as well regarded.

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In part one of this look back at Justice League: Mortal, I addressed the plot without getting into a whole lot of detail. Now that you’ve had time to track down the script, I’ll be looking a bit deeper in regards to the characters and the overall story. Each section will focus on an actor and the part they were to play. Some of the casting seemed spot on while other actors seemed…less suited for their roles. Let’s begin!

DJ Cotrona as Superman

At the time, Cotrona had done very little of note. He had a few bit-parts here and there, but this would have definitely been his highest-profile role. Since then, he’s gone on to play Flint in G.I. Joe: Retaliation and star in the From Dusk Till Dawn television series. He definitely has the physique of Superman, but his youthful demeanor and look doesn’t quite fit the script’s older, more established take on the character. Overall, the character is portrayed how he should be: selfless, noble and pretty much untouchably “super”. The third act takes a page from Infinite Crisis and pits Superman against the league thanks to some mind-control. I really like this story beat, but feel that the movie screws it up a bit. It hinges on the idea that Supes thinks Lois has been killed. However, she’s not a character and has no presence in the film. It relies too much on the public’s knowledge of their relationship and history. That’s not a bad thing in some cases, but since it’s so important for the finale, she really needs to be seen and (more importantly) felt within the context of the story. She doesn’t have to be a major character, just the same level as Iris Allen or maybe a little smaller. Since her “death” is so important at the end, we need to SEE her and understand what she means to Big Blue.
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The League’s core, circa 2006.

Back in 2007 DC had absolutely no idea what they were doing with their film properties. Nearly all of their characters were stuck in development hell and they had a serious lack of overall vision for any of their franchises. The sole exception was Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy. So, with no idea how to sell any of their singular characters, DC decided to start at the top and work down in creating their cinematic universe. They’d start with the Justice League property and then spin-off individual films based on the heroes from there. All things considered, it’s not a terrible approach. They would know what worked and what didn’t before hundreds of millions were spent on a character that no one cared about (just think, they could have avoided Green Lantern had they taken this path). So, in 2007 they commissioned a script, hired George Miller as a director and assembled a cast for Justice League: Mortal, the film that almost was. This will be an in-depth, two-part look at the plot, cast, characters and circumstances around this film’s inception and destruction. Also, I feel I need to add a spoiler warning…I guess. I dunno? Do you need spoiler warnings for unproduced screenplays?

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Superman (1978 film)

Posted: May 10, 2014 in DC, Richard Donner, Superman

     

It’s difficult to look back on a movie like Superman without any sort of historical context. The box office landscape today is so shockingly different than it was back then. Because of that, any modern assessment seems too reverent while any critique from a contemporary point of view feels needlessly antiquated. Regardless of what decade you’re watching this film in, there is one word that will always stick with it: important. Superman is an incredibly important comic book movie.

Looking back at it with the assurance of hindsight, it’s hard to understand why this movie was such a gamble. Its script was handled by an incredibly well-respected writer (Mario Puzo) and a recently popular filmmaker (Richard Donner) directed a cast lead by two A-list stars (Gene Hackman and Marlon Brando). Yet, there was no formula for a blockbuster back then, since the age of the blockbuster was still so fresh and new. Star Wars had yet to be released during production and Jaws could have just as easily been a fluke than a signal to a new wave of motion picture trends.

As I type this, I realize that I’m not saying anything that hasn’t been stated a hundred times already or can’t be gleaned from a Wikipedia article. So forgive me for abandoning the earlier history lesson in an attempt to focus on what this film means to me. As a child, I had precious few comic related films to latch onto. There was the Superman series and the 60’s Batman movie (more on that in a later post, I’m sure). The 80’s Batman film came out when I was in kindergarten and was a little too adult for me for a couple of more years. So for the longest time, I had campy, funny Batman (that had a kind of “small” aesthetic) and Superman. In comparison, Superman was grand and felt like a real “movie”. It was the meaty filet mignon to the scrawny cheeseburger of Batman. I remember seeing the VHS box art, “You’ll believe a man can fly”, it promised. And I’ll be damned if I didn’t. That first flight in the Fortress of Solitude, where Superman takes off and banks in front of the camera, is a sight to behold. I’m getting chills remembering it. And THAT is why this film is important. Not because it was first or because it was a blockbuster or because it had a great cast. It’s important because it made people believe in Superman. It made him real.


 “It’s true! You will!!!”

Almost since before the first film was released, DC and Warner Bros. have struggled with successive Superman films. The sequel (which was being filmed at the same time as the first) was taken from original director Richard Donner and was shoddily cut together with new footage filmed by Richard Lester. The less said about the other two films in the franchise, the better (for now at least). And a 2006 return to Donner’s Superman universe was met with praise from critics but mostly “meh”‘s from audiences. In 2013 the Man of Steel was rebooted into a darker, grittier hero and the response was the polar opposite of last outing. So why does the original get so much right, while later installments struggle? Is it simply because it was first? I don’t know. I will leave that open for debate in the comments. And hopefully that concept can be further explored in future posts.

Needless to say, the film left its mark.

                                                         
Random Thoughts

Best line: “You’ve got me! Who’s got you?!”

That whole “Can you read my mind” scene is still a little…off-putting.

Is it possible to see Superman fly and NOT hear John Williams’ theme?

I would still love to see the ending tweaked to fit in with Richard Donner’s cut of Superman 2. Maybe someday…

Well, that’s my first write up. How was it? Too technical? Not technical enough? Please let me know in the comments. I’m still finding my voice here and input is welcome. Help me make this blog SUPER! Get it? Did you get what I did there?


Comic books have come a long way since my childhood. There are many, many reasons for this. First, is an aging demographic base that demands more complicated stories and intricate plotting than when they were children. I am firmly within said demographic. I am 30 now, and easily read more comics than I did when I was 13. I would guess that this is true for most adult comic readers. Thus, the industry works to appease those who spend the money.

The second reason would be the logical evolution of the medium. While comics (meaning pictures and words combined to tell a story) have existed for countless centuries, the concept of a “comic book” or “bandes dessinées” is relatively new when compared to the history of literature and drama. As such, it is still in the early stages of its natural evolution. It has changed greatly in the 75+ years since the creation of the “Super Hero”* and will continue to change even more in the future.

Third, and what I find the most interesting, is the popular and profitable spread of comics into other media. Comic books have a long history in film and television but it has only been recently that they have become such money-making juggernauts. At any given quarter within the last few years, films based upon comics have dominated the box-office and made obscene amounts of money.

The purpose of this blog will be to look back on every piece of comic book media from the realms of film, television, animation and home video. Essentially, reviewing and giving information on each piece of comic book media that is presented. While the artistic and financial triumphs within the medium are worthy of discussion, I am also very interested in the adaptations that failed (either creatively or monetarily) and examine the reasons behind both. This may be considered a daunting task, but if you’ve ever seen my collection of comic-book movies, you’d know that I’m up for it. With that comes the question of what should be examined first…

                                                           




*Note that the term “Superhero” dates to 1917, but for the purposes of comic based Super-humans, I am tracing it to around the time of the creation of Superman (1938) and Sub-Mariner (1939). Since DC and Marvel collectively hold the copyright to the term “Super Hero”, I think that is appropriate.