Suicide Squad: Hell To Pay

By Drew Kiess

suicidesqua1

Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay is the latest addition to the DC Animated Universe that began with Justice League: Flashpoint Paradox and is the first to feature the Suicide Squad. The film stars Christian Slater as Deadshot, Vanessa Williams as Amanda Waller, Billy Brown as the Bronze Tiger, Kristen Bauer van Straten as Killer Frost, Gideon Emery as Copperhead, Liam McIntyre as Captain Boomerang, and Tara Strong as Harley Quinn. It was written by Alan Burnett (Batman: Mask of the Phantasm) and was directed by Sam Liu (Batman: The Killing Joke).

Can we be honest about these animated films for a moment? There has been a narrative about DC’s animated projects that has been all the rage that these are the DC movies that are knocking it out of the park. And at one time, that was honestly true. From Wonder Woman, New Frontier, The Dark Knight Returns, and Flashpoint Paradox, there was a strong string of good to great animated features in a short amount of time.

Since then, there has been less consistency. Killing Joke and Batman and Harley Quinn are far removed from the glory days of DC animated films. And for every Gotham by Gaslight, there is the unavoidable realization that the production quality is not what it once was. And I don’t think it’s a problem with the creative team, but there might just be too many projects for not enough people.

Suicide Squad: Hell To Pay may be one of the better productions from this universe in a while, but the story as a whole feels somewhat lacking. The Squad is sent to retrieve a get out of hell card for Waller, but they have some competition from various baddies across the DC Universe, including Blockbuster, Vandal and Scandal Savage, and Professor Zoom. A grindhouse road trip ensues to find the card.

Where this movie thrives is with the villains—that is, the bad bad-guys. The connections to the greater universe that is weaved into this film may be the best use of this connected universe to date. If this were the focal point of the movie (you know, telling an interesting story within a larger comic book universe) it would have been one of my favorites. That’s not what we got.

What we got was a movie that promised a sexy, violent action movie that could not separate itself from past attempts by these animated movies to be more “adult”, succeeding only in fulfilling the most juvenile of expectations on both fronts. Fetishizing strippers and lesbians is not something I associate with “edgy” and it, unsurprisingly, falls incredibly short here.

I have said it before with these movies and apparently it needs repeating: not everything needs to push the boundaries. Cool stories that exploit what makes these characters interesting will forever be preferable than using these characters to prove some point that comic book stories can be “grown up”. It’s a trend that is in desperate need of ending and I seriously hope it finds its demise before Death of Superman.

Here’s hoping.

 

 

Advertisements

The Reconstruction of the Superhero, Part Three: Doomsday Clock #4

By Drew Kiess

DoomsdayClock_Hub_Marquee_alt_59e142e49a5cd5.83051384

The following contains spoilers for Doomsday Clock #4: “Walk On Water”

I See What I Want To See

Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ “The Abyss Gazes Also”, the sixth issue in Watchmen is, in this writer’s opinion, among the most important issues in comic book history. Showing the effects of witnessing tragedy on a once idealistic vigilante in such a brutal  way changed Watchmen from being an angry rebuttal of comic book culture into a true deconstruction of the building blocks of the mythos.

24.png

“The Abyss Gazes Also” features Walter Kovacs, the first man to don the moniker Rorschach in prison, being interviewed by Dr. Malcolm Long.

Dr. Long is a mixture of good intentions and star struck, as he sees Kovacs as his chance to make an impression in psychological literature. His relationship with Kovacs is rocky, as Kovacs refuses to reveal much of what is going on in his mind. But as the issue continues, Kovacs’ story comes out.

Dark As It Gets

Kovacs retells a story of an investigation into the kidnapping of a young girl. Upon finding her kidnapper, he discovers that she was murdered, and possibly molested, her bones in the mouth of the monster’s dogs. Kovacs, in anger, brutally murders the man responsible.

“It is not God who kills the children. Not fate that butchers them or destiny that feeds them to  the dogs,” Kovacs tells Dr. Long. “It’s us. Only us.” Dr. Long sits on his bed that night, his marriage in ruins and his career in question after a lengthy and emotional effort to discover something of meaning in Rorschach, looks at an inkblot. Nothing but “meaningless blackness,” he thinks. The horror broke him.

There was nothing to solve.

What Do You See, Mr. Long?

Dr. Matthew Mason walks into the room where the mysterious Rorschach II sits, strapped to a chair, unmasked. Although Mason does not know his new patient’s identity, the inner monologue reveals Rorschach II to be Reggie Long, the son of Dr. Malcolm Long, driven to obsession when Veidt’s plan caused the death of his parents.

Reggie’s views of Dr. Mason, often comparable to Kovacs’ views of Dr. Long, are filtered through Reggie’s views of his father. Dr. Mason is nothing like his father, to him, although his view of Dr. Mason is how Kovacs saw Dr. Long.

Our heroes are how we choose to see them. In this way, the broken mirror image of Bruce Wayne deconstructs how the trauma of a young man views his parents’ relationship and death despite what we know is reality, and how tragedy informed his obsession and mission.

You Need To See Them At Their Best

Reggie had to be institutionalized after the death of his parents. While in asylum, he met Byron Lewis—Moth Man—former member of the Minute Men. Byron trains Reggie to be a one-man Minute Man, teaching him all the tricks the Minute Men had up their sleeves. In this time, Reggie’s view of reality is changed through the encouragement of Byron—instead of seeing them for how they died, he began viewing them at their happiest. He regained an idealized view of his parents, and his hatred for Adrian Veidt grew.

When Reggie’s opportunity to end Veidt’s life and avenge the death of his parents came, Reggie saw the remorse in Veidt’s eyes and couldn’t kill him. This conflicted with his simple view of good and evil. It broke him again.

I Have Someone To Blame

A fascinating element to the character of Bruce Wayne is that his crusade as Batman was never really about Joe Chill, the man who killed his parents. No, Wayne’s mission was to ensure that no child in his city should ever suffer the way he did. In contrast, Reggie Long wishes to avenge his suffering, and finds he has no place to send it. So it is interesting that, when it is revealed that Dr. Mason is, in fact, Bruce Wayne in disguise, that Bruce cannot penetrate through the inkblot.

Of course, Bruce is wearing his own kind of meaningless blackness. Two men attempting to understand each other through misperceptions and disguises are never going to achieve the understanding that they are after.

But which one is the hero? And which one is truly putting the future in jeopardy? Well, the only real answer to that is “we see what we want to see.”

Turned Them Toward Light

Issues like this separate great comic book stories and good ones. This was a game changer, even if the story feels like the story does not advance (it very much does, whether we see it or not). Not only is this the best issue of Doomsday Clock so far, this may go down as one of Geoff Johns and Gary Frank’s greatest accomplishment: Examining trauma and not losing heroism. Now, the reconstruction of the superhero can begin.

 

follow us at @ShanlianOnBat Twitter

 

FACEBOOK: Shanlian on Batman

 

Shanlian On Batman: Episode 111 wsg Sean Gerber

 

Justin and Kyle discuss the recently revealed logo for Shazam! and speculate about Matt Reeve’s “The Batman” as production for it has been set for a start date in 2019! Special guest Sean Gerber joins us part way through to also give his two cents on the Fallout from “Justice League” the ongoing situation with the DCEU and chats some Matt Reeves “The Batman.”

Shanlian On Batman: Episode 110 wsg Mario F. Robles

 

Justin and Kyle are back at it with special guest Mario F. Robles the Editor in Chief Revenge of the Fans. You can listen to Mario on his own the El Fanboy Podcast where you can hear him chat about the nerd culture and all things superheroes! We sit down with Mario and chat with him about the DCEU going forward, those leaked Shazam! pictures and the whether or not Matt Reeves is the guy for The Batman!

Fandom At War, But Fans Are Still Good

by Drew Kiess

darkseid-war

It’s gotten to the point where I dread a big superhero movie opening. Don’t get me wrong, when I’m in the theater watching them, I’m having the time of my life, mostly. I enjoyed Black Panther, even if I had a few nitpicks.

But we don’t live in a world where we just enjoy things. It has to be accompanied by so much baggage. From behind-the-scenes drama, corporate finances, and social movements now dominate the discussion of the golden era of superheroes on the silver screen.

This last week, a film pundit (who shall remain nameless here) took to his platform to proclaim that something bad was coming down the pipe regarding DC on film but that he wasn’t go to share. Of course, with the internets being what they are, this blew up with speculation that resulted in Matt Reeves responding on Twitter that he was, indeed, not leaving as director of The Batman, which was a rumor spawned out of the whole mess.

This is where fandom is, and I want no part of it. I know I freelance for a fansite, but I strive to be better than the rumor-mill style of writing that has become so pervasive in this corner of the internet. Any trip onto Twitter seeing more fevered arguments about whether or not we should have the “who would win in a fight…” argument about female comic book characters from people who are outside of comic book culture is enough to make me, for a split second, think that, perhaps, fandom is toxic after all.

But there are moments, when talking with my friends who love these characters like I do, that I find a joy in my fandom again. The noise of online fandom fades into the background as we talk about Frank Miller vs Scott Snyder, or whether Aquaman could take down Namor (he could, by the way. Just call in a whale and have it sit on top of him. TKO).

The noise fades when every time I crack open an issue of Action Comics and see Booster Gold reference Marvel Comics. Or Superman and see Clark and Jon talking about the nature of hope and faith. Or The Mighty Thor and see decades of amazing Thor stories coming to a head during Jane Foster’s final days.

I don’t think fandom is toxic. I think we’ve just lost our way the past few years, and I’m hopeful we’ll find it again. I don’t recall every having a time more rich with great superhero content between comics, movies, television, and video games, and I’m choosing to enjoy every second of it. And even if I don’t like something, I’ll happily move along. Life’s too short to linger there.

I’ll also try to avoid Twitter. That might help, too.

 

follow us at @ShanlianOnBat Twitter

FACEBOOK: Shanlian on Batman

 

Shanlian On Batman: Episode 109 wsg Jay Oliva

 

 

Justin and Kyle sit down to have another discussion with our special guest Jay Oliva. Jay has directed many animated films and his extensive work as a storyboard artist has been featured in many great superhero films. Jay has worked on Man Of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Wonder Woman and Justice League.

When he isn’t working on those films he worked as a director at Warner Bros. Animation and has directed classics like The Dark Knight Returns, Batman vs Robin and Batman: Assault on Arkham.

Tonight, we chat with Jay about all his recent storyboard work on Man of Steel, BvS, Wonder Woman and Justice League. We finish the episode discussing the amazing film he directed Batman: Assault on Arkham and everything he did to make that film so incredible!

Episode 108 ft. Daniel Alter

 

 

Justin and Kyle are joined by honored guest Daniel Alter. Dan is a movie producer and lover of Superhero Films and Nerd Culture, and we are so honored for him to come on the podcast for a second time!! On this episode we chat with Dan about the lack of Superhero Film Representation at this year’s Academy Awards, the Wonder Woman Snub, Logan and The Lego Batman movie.

Additionally, the guys chat about the future of The DCEU, the ongoing situation with #Batfleck and thoughts on if Jake Gyllenhaal would make a great live action Batman!

Make sure that you follow us on Twitter

@ShanlianOnBat
@BatmanShanlian
@BatmanBassSlap
@LootingKyle

The Reconstruction of the Superhero, Part Two: Doomsday Clock #3

By Andrew Kiess

DoomsdayClock_Hub_Marquee_alt_59e142e49a5cd5.83051384

The following contains spoilers for Doomsday Clock #3

Not Victory or Defeat 

A Comedian Died in New York, but he now lives in Metropolis. While it is revealed that Dr. Manhattan reversed the cornerstone death of Watchmen. The Comedian responds by attempting to reverse the situation on his killer, Ozymandias. Fortunately for Veidt, Lex Luthor has thicker windows in his office than Comedian had in his apartment.

This is not a story about reversing the past. This is a story about putting the pieces back together that the past broke.

Meanwhile, Rorschach II is in the Batcave giving Batman Kovacs’ journal. Batman does not believe a word of the story and locks Rorschach II in Mad Hatter’s vacant Arkham cell.

This is not a story of optimistic heroes becoming pessimists. This is a story about pessimistic heroes living in the shadow of a pessimistic world, who we hope find optimism in the end.

My Hands Are Dirty, Too

The Superman Theory looms large over the DC Universe of Doomsday Clock, which takes place one year ahead of present day continuity.  Rorschach II stands in an interesting position for audiences that his predecessor did not possess, he is both clearly detached from reality and yet he may be the only one capable of seeing reality.

Unlike Adrian Veidt, Rorschach II witnessed and felt the loss caused by the creature in Watchmen. We learn that his parents were killed during Veidt’s lie. We see Rorschach II’s unknown alter-ego, driving a car and speaking in a more conventional speech pattern before disaster strikes.

The tragedy is seemingly the beginning of the end for our hero’s innocence. As he showers in the Wayne Manor bath, he scrubs his scalp so hard the he bleeds. What blood is on his hand? How did he come across Kovacs; journal, and what pushed him towards wearing Kovacs’ face?

The answer is right in front of us. Or, rather, right in front of Rorschach II. If Walter Kovacs is Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon’s answer to Charles Victor Szasz, The Question, then this Rorschach is Geoff Johns and Gary Frank’s answer to Bruce Wayne, The Batman.

In the face of tragedy, a man uses the tools at his disposal to seek out justice and to, in the words of Frank Miller, force the world to make sense again. It is interesting, then, that when faced with his (albeit, more extreme) mirror image, that he thought the solution was to lock him in Arkham. Had not Batman, just a few years prior, jumped universes with The Flash investigating the very thing Rorschach was claiming to have information on? Ever the cynic, Bruce cannot accept the bizarre unless he himself witnesses it. Instead, he views his reflection as the personification of madness. Rorschach’s worldview is not reality for Bruce, but who’s to say which reality is which?

But I Wore My Best Suit

We’ve known since Rebirth began that something is up with Johnny Thunder and the Justice Society of America. I’m not going to pretend to be an expert on this part of the book, but his presence is heartbreaking. It would appears that he is experiencing the effects of the time slippage, and is aware of the life he may never have fully lived. The Justice Society may yet play an important role in this story and I’m excited to learn more.

In The Darkness…I Can’t See Their Faces

The final layer of this story is reflective of The Black Freighter comic in Watchmen. The Adjournment, a black and white detective film starring Carver Coleman is sprinkled throughout the book. Coleman is an actor who made his claim to fame playing Nathaniel Dusk (named after an obscure detective featured in DC Comics), a hard-boiled detective in a fedora and trench coat, in six films before the actor’s untimely death. Coleman’s murder is the subject of the newspaper and tabloid clipping stingers in this issue. The Adjournment sees Dusk investigate the mysterious murder of two men playing chess. The movie is interrupted by news of a metahuman arms race.

This is the dual identity of Watchmen. A murder-mystery placed in the backdrop of impending nuclear destruction. The Superman theory is the element that was missing in Watchmen. When Manhattan was the lone metahuman, the arms race halted while tensions grew taut. The Superman Theory states that 97% of metahumans are American, and now other nations are trying to create their own metahumans in order to compete.

It’s no wonder Clark is having nightmares. What is hope personified to do in a world so consumed with despair? While we are waiting patiently for Manhattan and Superman to come face-to-face, we continue to look into the mirror with our heroes and examine both our world and theirs. Issue #3 is the most restrained of the books so far, but it is also the most interesting and the strongest. This series is on its way to becoming a modern classic.

 

follow us at @ShanlianOnBat Twitter

FACEBOOK: Shanlian on Batman

 

 

Shanlian On Batman: Episode 107

This week Justin and Tom get together for a heavy hitting discussion about the latest Flashpoint news and the current ongoing situation with #Batfleck and #GyllenBat. There is plenty to discuss on this episode so make sure you get you light the Bat-Signal and join us in the podcast cave for Episode 107 of Shanlian On Batman.

If you would like to help support the show you can do so by signing up to be one of our Patrons at www.patreon.com/PodcastEmpireNetwork and as always
make sure that you like our Facebook Page ,Shanlian On Batman Podcast, Follow us on Twitter @ShanlianOnBat, If you want follow us individually on Twitter do so by following @BatmanShanlian, @BatmanBassSlap and @LootingKyle and visit www.ShanlianOnBatman.com

Future of DC Films Unfolding

by Andrew Kiessdceu-9292017

DC news needs to stop dropping when I’m in school.

There is a lot to cover and I honestly do not want to go through it like it’s all breaking news, because, let’s be honest, if you’re reading this, you know what’s been going on. I will keep the news brief and then explain what I think it means for DC Films going forward.

Two weeks ago, news broke of Joseph Hamada was taking over for the departed Jon Berg as President of DC Films. Later in that week, we learned of a major shakeup in the executive suite of Warner Bros. motion pictures, with Sue Kroll stepping away from her role as president and Toby Emmerich, is essence, taking over as chairman if Warner Bros. Picture Group, taking over some duties previously held by WB CEO Kevin Tsujihara in day-to-day operations of the film studio.

The good news in this is it slims down the number of chefs in the kitchen for the WB executives, particularly with Tsujihara no longer in a position to call the shots. Whether or not Emmerich is the man for the job remains to be seen, but there is reason to be optimistic in light of this shakeup.

What is more interesting from a producer standpoint is the news coming from Suicide Squad 2, where Michael De Luca joined Charles Roven as producer. This shows a departure from DC Film’s habit of having one producer oversee multiple films. It appears that this move signals a new age in the structure of these films, with a focus on individual franchises rather than the universe as a whole.

We also now know that Shazam! will hit theaters in April of next year, and will feature Mark Strong as the villain Dr. Sivana. With Shazam! being produced by New Line where Walter Hamada oversaw production, it will be our first glimpse of the future of DC Films.

Finally, and certainly not least, we have our directors for Flashpoint. After Ben Affleck reportedly turned down the job, WB has entered negotiations with Vacation directors and Spider-Man Homecoming writers John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, who will be working from a script by Joby Harold. This would be far from my first choice for this project, but I think it would be fairly safe to say that the Flashpoint film will be quite far away from the beloved Geoff Johns story. With rumors of Ben Affleck making one last appearance in the cape and cowl, Flashpoint has been a popular choice for that appearance, although Suicide Squad 2 could also be a possibility.

It’s an interesting time to follow these movies. I am cautiously optimistic that at the end of these changes will be some movies that I will truly love. While Aquaman will represent the end of this era of DC on film, it is exciting to see the next era coming in strong. We can only hope that the product delivers.

follow us at @ShanlianOnBat Twitter

FACEBOOK: Shanlian on Batman