Larson forges the Future of Batgirl


Rheanna Haaland


“You can’t see the future when the past is standing in your way,” Barbara Gordon muses from a rooftop in the latest issue of Hope Larson’s “Beyond Burnside.” Barbara “Babs” Gordon — Batgirl — may not have the biggest fanbase or the greatest backstory that DCEU has to offer (as Batman’s apprentice and Commissioner Gordon’s daughter). In the new series “Batgirl ” Eisner Award winning writer, Hope Larson continues to revitalize Batgirl as a character.  In the limited scope of past iterations like the unspeakable Joel Schumacher movies, Batgirl can easily come off as an ill-conceived attempt to unabashedly — and unsuccessfully — capture a  wider female audience.  Even her recent, better-developed-if-controversial role in Brian Azzarello’s animated adaptation of Alan Moore’s “The Killing Joke” leaves something to be desired. But Larson’s Batgirl is different. By allowing Batgirl to step out of Gotham, Larson and artist Rafael Albequerque let the audience look past previous versions of the character and actually care about this Batgirl’s future.


In “Beyond Burnside” Barbara embarks on a quest to meet an old, wheelchair-bound martial arts master Known as “The Fruit Bat.” When the Fruit Bat is assaulted by an assassin in a school girl uniform Babs wastes no time coming to the rescue. When the assassin escapes Batgirl is left with more questions than answers. She also serendipitously meets up with a childhood friend, Kai, who is mutually interested in being more than friends.

Externally, Larson’s Batgirl is a badass. She’s ditched the skin-tight latex suit  and high heels for a leather jacket and a pair of bright yellow logger boots. She knows karate and Ju Jitsu, she’s a detective, she fearlessly eats eyebals and octopus, and she speaks Japanese.  While that cool skill set and updated costume might be standard issue for any modern disciple of the Batman, those traits are only the Batgirl side of Batgirl. Larson’s version of Barbara Gordon may be a badass, but she’s also deeply, dynamically human. We watch her wonder if her attraction to Kai stems from the possibility that she will need to save him. The doubts she displays in her heartthrob’s ability to handle her — cape and all — strikes a chord with anyone who has ever wondered  “am I too much for this person?” And there is so much to Larson’s Barbara Gordon. She’s funny, she’s smart, and even in her semi-constant state of self-doubt, she is more than competent. She’s fun to read about.

We would be sorely remiss not to mention Rafael Albequerque’s contribution to “Batgirl: Rebirth.” Albequerque absolutely nails the pencils in each panel, which is by no means simply to say he can draw. Throughout the story whether Barbara is deep in thought, awkwardly flirting, or conflicted about lying to protect her identity, every one of her facial expressions is spot-on. And it doesn’t stop there; his depiction of combat sequences are spectacular. Some of the fights are so well-plotted that the reader is just as taken aback by the outcome as the fighters on the page.  Through his fabulously readable paneling, Albuquerque’s work enriches Larson’s story with a whole separate dimension.

Although it’s early to call Batgirl a full-fledged epic just yet, with such a loveable protagonist and such a excellent artwork, enthusiasts should definitely keep an eye on Batgirl, and on her creative team, for many issues to come. Barbara’s adventures in Asia are just starting.
The third installation of “Batgirl: Rebirth” hits newsstands on September 28th, 2016. Don’t miss it.  



John McGee

Movie critics have become more of an obligatory circus in recent years than a true gauge of the quality of film. Back in the good ole days critics were at best snobs who were “right” about half the time, even though they enjoyed tearing apart classics (Wizard of Oz, Fight Club, Scrooged, The Shining, Psycho…you get the picture). Critics have always viewed themselves as a godsend to their generation—“We’re the only ones smart enough and heavenly enough to know everything about every movie and declare whether it sucks or not.”

Well, ladies and gentlemen, I’m about to announce two insane facts about life. 1. Critics have gotten worse. Like the country, it’s just something you didn’t think could go further downhill until it surprises you. 2. Film. Is. SUBJECTIVE. WHAAAT?! I can’t watch trailers for movies and just say “It sucks?” Well if you’re one of those people, you’re well on your way to the film critic profession. Because not only have critics gotten worse, but they’ve become none other than average Internet bloggers who house great bias, vitriol, and generally don’t know any more about what makes a great film than a preschooler. And frankly they just don’t care anymore. They seem to believe it’s about power, and they want to use their “power” to dissuade people from watching movies they hate or simply try to make movies they hate look bad. It’s less about being honest and more about “what do we want this movie to look like?” “Did it live up to my condescending expectations?” “Was it made by people I like?” (I add that one, folks, due to the number of “professional critics” who took to Twitter days before Batman v Superman to announce that no matter how good the movie was, they’d never give a positive score to a Zack Snyder film. Now perhaps you begin to see the children we’re dealing with).

In fact, audiences are beginning to ignore the critics almost entirely. Batman v Superman received low reviews by pretty much all critics, but when fans and casual viewers are asked, we get numbers like 69% and even higher scores for the Director’s Cut that satisfied even some of the most disappointed viewers. Suicide Squad is lower on Rotten Tomatoes than Batman v Superman, yet the audience scores for Skwad are even higher than Batman v Superman. Suicide Squad is practically proof that critics don’t matter and their words are becoming as important to film as preschooler’s scribbles are to Monets or Van Gohs. 133+ million opening both here and overseas, coupled with a sustained first week that even Civil War and Batman v Superman couldn’t manage in their first week of box office. Audiences didn’t just come to the opening weekend shows, they spread the word and many of them went again.

Now let us examine what I believe is simple proof that critics have belittled themselves to the point of unimportance. Most of these bloggers (the irony here being that I am a blogger—but name one time I called out a film based on what I ate at the theater, or based on who made it. Thought so. Where was I?) These bloggers, when they run into a film they didn’t enjoy or pledged specifically to not enjoy use comparisons that run the gamut from “muddled plot and thinly written characters” to “DONALD TRUMP.” Yes, these are actual comparisons to the movie Suicide Squad. If I weren’t so jaded on the subject of modern critics I’d be shocked. How in the world do these “geniuses” and to quote the particularly worst one of them all, “the voice of our generation” fail to comprehend a plot as simple as Suicide Squad’s? A to B, break. B to C, fight. Flashbacks throughout to FURTHER EXPLAIN THINGS, and epic climax to resolution. Wow. That was so muddled. That filmmaker really hid things from us.

Another attack launched at the film when they ran out of other stupid things to say was that “sexism” reared its head. Not only am I now convinced they were in a completely different movie, but I’m angry. This was the least sexist superhero film EVER. DC Films takes tremendous pride in giving the female characters (often better than their male counterparts in many ways) their spotlight. Wonder Woman is the first attempt at a female superhero movie at all in the cinematic universes, but not only that. It’s merely the 4th DCEU film, and they’re already paying women to make the Wonder Woman movie, and based on interviews, Patty Jenkins knows more about the character’s nature and how this film works in 2017’s world than half the men working at DC. Marvel will burn through close to 20 films before making Captain Marvel (after ignoring Black Widow all these years) and what have Fox or Sony ever done for female characters? Suffice it to say DC is the least sexist of them all.

And calling a movie Donald Trump is like calling critics open minded. It’s a complete impossibility, a catastrophic paradox. It also just makes zero sense on paper. Clearly something it driving these critics against DC films, and it may be they enjoy sexist movies about superheroes more than they do ones that feature Wonder Woman, Harley Quinn, Enchantress, Lois Lane, Katana, and AMANDA FREAKING WALLER. That’s why I know these morons went to the wrong movie. You don’t walk away from Viola Davis’s Waller thinking “sexist.” She was the most powerful, smart, cunning woman I’ve seen on screen. She didn’t give a damn about what other people thought—she was herself and handled things and people the way she saw fit.

All in all, I’m not judging the people. There are some great critics left in the field (looking at you, Mark Hughes). But I am free to judge the actions of the loose cannons these people turn into when they grab their phone and vent their undeserved fury and flawed logic on a certain company’s superhero films. I do feel free to tell them that in subjective filmmaking they have zero right to judge films the way they do than the rest of us, no matter how smart they think they are. I condemn the way they try to judge subjective films, which are first and foremost art and should be viewed as such. Not as good/bad, but rather on the merits and what they try to accomplish in each film. DC Comics, say what you will about Warner Bros, are still making fairly artistic and sometimes excellent films. Let’s all take a step back and quit acting like this is politics and treat it like the mythology it is.

Shanlian On Batman Episode 71 wsg Paul Dini


Paul Dini is back for his second appearance on Shanlian on Batman! We talk with Paul about his new book “Dark Knight a True Batman Story” as well as his thoughts on BvS, Suicide Squad, seeing his creation of Harley Quinn being brought to life on the big screen, new Jingle Belle later this year, virtual reality Batman, and Jeff Johns being in charge of DC Films. Get ready for this incredible conversation between Shanlian on Batman and Bat-Legend Paul Dini.

Marketing Key to Turning Tide at WB


Andrew Kiess

Here we are, three movies into Warner Bros’ superhero shared universe featuring characters from DC Comics. Remember when Man of Steel was controversial? It now looks like the one everyone liked. The online movie journalistic community seem to have set the DC movies in the crosshairs and are taking their shots. Suicide Squad, as of this writing, is 10 days into its release, and despite how many outlets are framing its financial situation, it has had an incredible ride to begin its journey at the box office, and much of that is owed to a terrific marketing campaign.

The DC Extended Universe three films in is leaps and bounds above where the Marvel Cinematic Universe was three films in. Marvel films accumulated $1,47.5 million three movies in and stumbled to reach the $500 million mark until the damn broke open when Avengers (the sixth movie in the MCU) broke the now watermark billion-dollar mark. It is no coincidence that Avengers was the first movie to make the mark. Yes, it had all the superheroes Marvel had showcased in one movie, but that alone would not be enough to get that many people to log into Fandango in the late spring of 2012, as Thor, Captain America: First Avenger, and The Incredible Hulk struggled at the worldwide box office and received mostly lukewarm reviews, and Iron Man 2, considered by some to be one of Marvel’s weakest entries, was the only film to surpass $600 million. So what changed? Avengers was the first Marvel film to be produced under Disney’s Buena Vista banner. Disney is far and away the strongest and most aggressive studio at marketing films.

Disney is historically manipulative to how films are advertised inside movie theaters. Disney is extraordinarily hands-on when it comes to trailer placement before films, poster placement inside theaters, and remain hands-on with what screens are showing their movies well into the film’s box office run. On top of that, they own both ABC and ESPN and use those spaces for TV spots aggressively and liberally. The trailers themselves are cinematic memes that follow a simple formula (dramatic landscape, character beat, action beat, humorous button) and create positivity to fans of their movies and characters. It’s familiar, and familiar is what folks respond to in marketing.

Warner Bros. have struggled, by and large, to market their movies. The marketing for Man of Steel was pedestrian, with TV spots and sponsored YouTube bumpers heating up within the final weeks leading up to release. Man of Steel did well at the box office, ending its time with $668 million. Batman v Superman’s marketing had an identity crisis. Where the first two trailers focused on the characters in what would be a philosophical approach to these icons of comic books, but the third trailer attempted to copy the Disney-Marvel formula, and in turn, marketed the movie as something it was not. Although Batman v Superman, in some ways, recovered, the third trailer in many ways revived the negative narrative surrounding the film the echoed through the critical assessment (not all of the negative reaction was because of the echoed negative narrative, but it certainly doesn’t help) and the film was perceived to have stumbled towards $872.7 million.

The marketing for Suicide Squad was a different animal. Not counting the Comic Con sneak-peek, the actual trailers, TV spots, posters, and all other marketing material carried a tone of a gritty, dirty, sexy, and grimy comic book movie about this group of villains trying to save the world. The marketing, to the best of its ability, sold the movie that was being put together by David Ayer and Warner Bros. (yes, I know about the editing controversy involving this movie, but that goes into the echoed negative narrative I mentioned earlier. The problems Suicide Squad faced in post-production was only news worthy because the movie was receiving a negative critical reaction. But any critical minded person who has ever bothered to study the behind the scenes elements of editing a movie would know that that kind of drama is not exclusive to Suicide Squad. Check out the documentaries on the extended editions of Lord of the Rings, if you don’t believe me). Whether or not people liked what the marketing sold in the end is a different story, but the consistency is hopefully a sign of good things to come.

Wonder Woman has a chance to be a new beginning for DC on film. A great first trailer is a great start. And yes, there will be a negative narrative hanging around this movie, and I would not be entirely surprised if that does not impact the critical reaction in some way. But just because some random person on the internet says that there is big trouble in little Themyscira, does not mean that it is time to panic. If the brothers Warner want to turn public opinion back in their favor, a steady and consistent hand in marketing Wonder Woman and then Justice League next year will be crucial. Until then, let’s all go back and watch Suicide Squad again and keep waving the flag for the movies we love.

All box office data taken from

Shanlian on Batman Episode 70 – Suicide Squad reviews

The gang is squading up to bring to you their review of Suicide Squad! Justin, Tom, Kyle, and Rheanna are all here to talk about the good, the bad, and the just plain ugly bits of the movie in their opinions. Is this another flop? Is the future of DC movies looking bright? Listen to find out

Suicide Squad Creator Reviews Film



After seeing Suicide Squad on the big screen and posting his initial thoughts about the film on Facebook, Suicide Squad creator John Ostrander finally came out and gave the film a proper critique. Below are some blurbs from Ostrander where he goes into depth about the things he loved, liked and didn’t care for.

The Good:

Regarding the Suicide Squad movie, well, I’m biased. I’m prejudiced. I have a vested interest in its success. I want it to succeed. However, if I didn’t like it, I’d be more likely just to keep my trap shut.

My trap is open.

I really liked the film. Not perfect by a long shot, but a really good time in the movie theater. And for me a lot of it was just amazing. The look, the detail, the feel of the film is not something I’ve seen in superhero movies before.

Chief for me were the performances, starting with Viola Davis as Amanda Waller. All the other characters in the Squad, both the comic and the movie, were created by others. In the comic especially I would re-define and expand on them but they were established characters. Amanda Waller was my creation and Viola Davis embodied her to perfection. I was happy when she was cast, I was delighted when I saw her in the trailers, and I was ecstatic when I saw her in the film. Davis has Amanda’s voice, her look, and her attitude. I was delighted at the after-party when I got a chance to see her face-to-face and tell her how much I enjoyed her performance.Next up is Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn. She is sexy, innocent, funny, lethal, crazy and dangerous. And she’s a thief – she steals just about every scene she’s in.


The Bad:

Are their problems with the film? Sure. The antagonist(s) are not well defined and, to my mind, you need a good antagonist to help define the protagonist(s). It’s the antagonist who usually sets the plot in motion and it is defined by what they want. The story is a little more generic “we have to save the world” than I usually did; I always liked having one foot squarely in reality.

I also liked having a political and/or social edge in my Squad stories. That would also give a greater feel of reality and I don’t see that here.

On the Critics:

My late wife, Kim Yale, was a movie critic for a while for a small suburban newspaper in the Chicago area and I went with her to some of the movie screenings. Don’t tell me that some of the critics didn’t come with pre-conceived attitudes to some films. I know better. I saw and heard it.

As for some of the online haters – if a film doesn’t fit their pre-conceived notion, it is wrong. Female Ghostbusters, a black Deadshot, Ben Affleck as Batman (Affleck, by the way, does cameos as both Batman and Bruce Wayne in Suicide Squad and is terrific) – these are all sins and must be decried.

Give me a fucking break.

For his full review of the film, head to for his lengthy details about “Suicide Squad.”





Source: Comicmix



Warner Bros. Pictures and DC Films “Suicide Squad” opened to $267 million dollars Worldwide. The film scored $135.1 million from 4,255 theaters across the United States with an average of $31,752 per theatre. “Suicide Squad” boasts the biggest opening of all time for the month of August surpassing the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Guardians of the Galaxy which only scored $94.3 million. Globally, the film earned $132 million at the international box office, and the IMAX take for this film earned $19.2 million respectively.

Now the real question will the film have legs over the upcoming few weeks?

To be considered a success at the studio “Suicide Squad” must break $600 million at the worldwide box office. The film had a hefty price tag of $175 million to make and that is not including the marketing costs of the film, which usually is double the film budget. The film had a 41% drop of from its Friday to Saturday haul, which is on par for most August films. Will the movie resonate with audiences for second and third viewings? Only time will tell so make sure that you keep checking back here for the latest updates on the SS box office tally.





After the critics eviscerated “Suicide Squad” rumors have been circulating that we might be getting an ‘Ultimate Edition’ of “Suicide Squad” like we did with “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.” Well David Ayer kind of put that rumor to bed for now anyway. Only time  will tell over the course of the next few months if the studio indeed decides to give audiences an extended version of the film on BluRay/DVD. Read Mr. Ayer’s comments before and take what you will from them.

“This cut of the movie is my cut, there’s no sort of parallel universe version of the movie, the released movie is my cut. And that’s one of the toughest things about writing, shooting, and directing a film – you end up with these orphans and you fucking love them and you think they’d be amazing scenes and do these amazing things. But the film is a dictatorship, not a democracy. And just because something’s cool and charismatic doesn’t mean it gets to survive the final cut. The flow of the movie is the highest master.”

My opinion of this, is that I actually hope that this was the final version of the film that Mr. Ayer put out. Let’s hope that the studio didn’t take the film away from him during the final stages of post-production like they did with Zack Snyder’s BvS. If WB did decide to do that and go that route with SS well then they are just shooting themselves in the foot for not allowing seasoned and talented director make the movies that he signed up to deliver.





Source: Collider

Suicide Squad Soars at the Box Office



Warner Bros. Pictures and DC Comics Film “Suicide Squad” brought in an estimated 65 million dollars at the domestic box office on Friday night. The Thursday night haul brought in around 20 Million, and early estimates show that “Suicide Squad” might pull in an estimated 140 Million to round out the weekend. Not to shabby for a movie that was eviscerated by critics. Audiences gave the CinemasScore for “Suicide Squad” a B+ which is up from the B that audiences gave for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.



Suicide Squad Review



Justin Shanlian

“Suicide Squad” is superhero escapism at its finest. This film is a cinematic, fast paced, fun, exciting, funny visual treat. David Ayer is a master filmmaker when it comes to assembling stories with huge ensemble casts, and this film is his most ambitious and entertaining to date.

Plot-wise, the film is a bit simplistic, but “Suicide Squad” doesn’t need to try and be a Martin Scorcese or a Stanley Kubrick film. The story may not be overtly rich in narrative glory, but it displays many delightfully stimulating elements that keep the audience interested throughout. The beginning of the film works really nicely as we are introduced to some of DC’s biggest villains.

The action in Suicide Squad isn’t just fun and exciting it serves plot purposes and moves the story forward smoothly. Ayer is coming into his own as one of the top contemporary action directors in the world. He is not known for strong action, but his balls-to-the-wall brutal action sequences in this film are a nice addition to overall quality of the film. From the top down there is not a single bad performance. Ayer knows how to bring amazing performances out from every single member of his cast.  Will Smith, Viola Davis, Margot Robbie and Jared Leto really shine; it’s a testament to Ayer and his ability to work with some of the industry’s top talent and truly have them dive deep into their respective roles that add so many necessary layers to their individual roles.

As the Joker, it seems that Jared Leto has taken every version of The Joker from the comics and integrated them into his performance. It works so well. His voice seems to be a hybrid of Mark Hamill’s and Heath Ledger’s; it’s creepy and disgustingly immoral, just as readers would imagine. This version of The Joker only has one thing in mind: getting Harley Quinn back. It works, but it would have been better if his role allowed him more screentime. When Leto’s Joker is on screen he is electric, unpredictable, funny and completely terrifying. He is exactly what the Clown Prince of Crime should be. It’s a shame he didn’t have a more prominent role.

Margot Robbie nails her role as Harley Quinn. It is as if she was ripped right from the pages of  DC Comics and leaped onto the silver screen. She hits every nuance that we all know and love from Harley Quinn. She is even able to channel that classic Harley voice that we have become familiar with from Bruce Timm’s and Paul Dini’s Batman: The Animated Series. Robbie is campy, fun, creepy and mentally deranged. She also brought a lot of depth to the role as well, as those quieter moments and scenes had in the film truly resonate and add something special that audiences can truly embrace. Robbie is able to channel something dark and deep, that the audience can never truly pinpoint, and the further down the rabbit hole you go into her character the scarier she becomes.

There are a few issues with “Suicide Squad,” some more prominent than others. At times, some of the editing choices lead to pacing issues which can be jarring. Nevertheless, this doesn’t take away from the overall quality that has been established by Ayer and his production team. A few minor changes could be made to improve the future sequels that we’re all hoping for.  One of the more glaring issues of the film is the flashback between Joker and Harley, which takes the audience away from the main story of the Squad. The introduction t0 the members of Task Force X, however, was exciting and entertaining. Their individual stories are cut together in a lightning fast interesting way. When the film cuts to the Joker and Harley narrative it doesn’t necessarily drag, but it doesn’t move with the same fervor and intensity as the rest of the story. The moments between those two characters are necessary to future scenes and future films, but the way that they were edited together should have been done differently to mirror the pacing that was already established in the film. Some of these characters will be featured in future sequels, but in all honesty they could spin off into their own films too. Who doesn’t want a live action Deadshot film set in Gotham City? Or an adaptation Paul Dini’s Mad Love? Featuring Jared Leto’s Joker and Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn.

The other main issue with “Suicide Squad” is the end of the film. The final action piece feels a bit “been there done that” as we have seen the portal-bringing-bad-guys-to-Earth trope in a few previous superhero films. It was anticlimactic and left viewers wanting more. Luckily the smaller, more private moments that each character feels during this final act make it work, but just barely. The character of Enchantress and her motivations were a bit underwhelming during that final battle. Just the way that her character was written and her motivations left a bit to be desired. Those final moments during the huge final battle could have been layered a bit more, with clearer motivations. The fight sequences between the Squad, Enchantress and Incubus should have lasted longer, too.

Those issues don’t negate all the good that is in “Suicide Squad” this movie is flawed, but the positives are throughout and the negatives only lurk for moments at a time. Will Smith is the emotional anchor for the film and he does a fantastic job. His father/daughter scenes are some of the best cinematic moments that we have seen this year. Let’s hope that he will be involved in future DCEU films — including the Ben Affleck solo Batman film.

“Suicide Squad” has a lot of heart, action and having Waller and Batman in your film doesn’t hurt either. Make sure you stick around for the stinger after the mid-credits too, for a nice dollop of things to come in future DCEU films. You don’t have to wait for the entire credit crawl to see some amazing Easter Eggs. Make sure you give this film a chance, don’t listen to critics who bash it. Be your own critic and judge the movie for yourself. You’ll probably enjoy this film as much as I did, flaws and all.