Wonder Woman

By John McGee

Gal Gadot makes her silver screen debut as a major lead in Wonder Woman, and from her first scene to her last you will completely lose her to the iconic titan she so deeply portrays: Diana Prince, aka Wonder Woman herself.

The pros:

Wonder Woman is long in the making, but benefits from the wait in terms of anticipation and the visual power of modern special effects. They had years to put this film together and get it right (look out “captain Marvel,” Wonder Woman 2 will be out before you see the light of day) and they delivered big time. The final battle with (spoiler but not spoiler) Ares is rivaled only by the Doomsday fight from Batman v Superman in terms of visual quality and epic superhero action.

Ala Batman v Superman, Wonder Woman also has her signature “warehouse fight” scene. Much in the same way Ben Affleck won over the most vitriolic and vehement of his haters, so will Gal with her passion and fire in this scene, and honestly every scene she graces. I cannot stress enough how much she outwardly adores the role and understands every value the character stands for (and all of her flaws).

As for the supporting cast, Chris Pine does a hilarious and heartfelt performance of Steve Trevor without stealing the show as some critics claimed months ago. He fully embraced the idea that Wonder Woman is the lead in this film and gave it his all. Ares is almost as terrifying as Javier Bardem’s Salazar—they’re a close top 2 on the list of scariest 2017 film baddies.

Whoever wrote this script cannot have had a hand in writing Pan. It’s astounding what a little Geoff Johns can do—the script was tight and well-paced and witty. Hopefully the creative team stays relatively intact for the sequel—they need each other.

The cons:

The only minor gripes I can bring forth for Wonder Woman are timing and set up. The timing is terrible because of the overstuffed money cows coming out this year: Despicable Me, Transformers, Cars, etc. It’s tough to find good release dates, yes, but I’m worried that a sequel might suffer if no one turns out for the first.

The set up is only awkward because I’m seeing Justice League marketing and we just came off of modern day sequels to Man of Steel. In terms of universe connectivity Wonder Woman drags us back and forth between past and present in more ways than its narrative: it’s continuing the modern narrative of BvS and Suicide Squad while giving us past narrative on Wonder Woman. It’s just a bit awkward to piece it together, especially for those new to the DCEU or just watching because it’s a Wonder Woman movie.

In conclusion, it’s a pretty stunning film. You can tell the makers worked hard on it, even though it looks easy due to the quality they managed to produce. Not only does it give the character the platform she deserves, but it’s an excellent addition to an already amazing DC film universe. Get out there and go see it if you want to enjoy your summer movie experience before your kids drag you to the next Pixar or Despicable Me sequel.

Wonder Woman “Doing Something”

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Andrew Kiess

We now have our fourth movie in the DC Extended Universe, and it is one we as comic book fans have been waiting for for a long time. Wonder Woman has hit theaters, and fans of the character, especially those who have spent time with her book in the last 10 years, should find quite a bit to be happy about.

I first introduced myself to the character of Wonder Woman during Greg Rucka’s first run (yes, I know, I’m late to the game) and instantly fell in love with the mythology. I followed that run through Flashpoint, and into Brian Azzarello’s brilliant run in the first half of New 52, and I think that the book maintained quality throughout all 52 issues of that era. Since then, as I continue to dig deeper into the character’s history, Wonder Woman has climbed to near the top of my favorite comic book characters list.

Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman film feels perfectly in sync with the Wonder Woman mythos presented in the pages of DC Comics (detail nitpicks aside, of course). Themyscira exists at the intersection of the DC universe and Greek mythology and with that background in tact, Wonder Woman sees the DC brand continue its move away from the “how would this work in reality?” trope and embrace the crazy and fantastic that exists in the four-colored pages.

Wonder Woman presents us with one of the most morally courageous heroes in comics and brings her to the big screen. Discovering the horrors of the first World War, Gal Gadot’s character is faced with an impossible task: the world is violent, evil, and is marred with jagged edges and pain, and she sees it as her sacred duty to stop this. Steve Trevor, played perfectly by Chris Pine, is also facing this task; however, instead of seeing it as a duty, he sees the ending of the war as the last option available to him.

I have no context or skill to talk about this movie in terms of where it fits in a quality ranking of superhero movies or how Patty Jenkins successfully recreated emotions not felt since Christopher Reeve made us believe a man could fly. All I really want to write about is how this movie made me feel. I still remember quite clearly when I discovered the jagged edges in the world, and I often find myself feeling the way Diana did in the majority of this film—let’s find the evil and get rid of it. But most often, I feel like Steve Trevor. I may not ever have the ability or the power to end all the pain and suffering in the world, but doing nothing isn’t working anymore. Doing something to save others, to take them away from the pain and hurting that is coming their way, even if we can’t save everyone, is the definition of heroic for me.

I know it doesn’t fit the narratives that we want to spread around this movie, but I think that this film is about Diana learning about what being a hero is all about, and she learns it from Steve and with Steve, who is also learning the same thing from her. That, beyond making for a superhero film that is emotionally satisfying, is a great lesson that we need in these times. We can’t learn to be better people and to better care for the people around us if we aren’t learning from each other and can’t rely on one another. To me, that’s where Wonder Woman shines and the lesson that I take away from it.

So, I’m not going to bother telling you whether I liked this as much as Man of Steel, because, who cares, really? But if you’re looking for a Wonder Woman movie that makes you think and feel the things that Wonder Woman should make you think and feel about, while maintaining the fantastic and the mythos that she is known for, I could not recommend this film more wholeheartedly. And if you’re as inspired by the movie as I am, let’s all commit to stop doing nothing in the face of the pain and jagged edges. Let’s all do something.

Wondrous “Wonder Woman” Delivers

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By

Kaitlyn Reed

 

Whether you loved Warner Bros. previous DC film outings or not, there is no denying the relatively mixed reviews “Man of Steel,” “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and “Suicide Squad” received. As someone who loved “Man of Steel” but was quite disappointed in the two that followed, I was eager to see Warner Bros. hit a slam dunk.

Although I was ecstatic to see the positivity for “Wonder Woman” prior to its release, I was still a bit hesitant as a result of my disappointment in “Batman v Superman” and “Suicide Squad.” However, I am so happy to say that this film is not only a great, refreshing take on a superhero film, but a great film all around.

The film begins with an introduction to Themyscira; an island of female warriors. When Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) saves Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) after his plane crashes in the sea, she is introduced to a world far different from what she is used to. There’s a stark contrast from the paradise she is used to living and the horrors of World War I. The film follows Steve Trevor and Wonder Woman’s mission to save lives and stop the war.

Patty Jenkins, most known for directing 2003’s “Monster,” brought the most iconic female superhero to life on the big screen. Jenkins’ superb pacing throughout the film allows us to see a serious portrayal of war, great action sequences, humor and more. Each of these elements are so well executed through Jenkins’ direction. Whether it’s Diana’s naivety to the world outside of Themyscira or the witty Steve Trevor, the humor lands at almost every try. Moreover, the action sequences were such a thrill to watch as Diana comes into her own throughout the course of her journey.

Since Jenkins was first announced to helm Wonder Woman, to the release of the film, it was obvious she had a ton of respect for the character and that’s one of my favorite things to see shine throughout the film. Through Jenkins direction and Gadot’s performance, Wonder Woman is shown as not only powerful, but innocent, naïve and above all; kind. It’s so much fun to see Gadot portray these emotions and actions throughout the film. Viewers will get to see a much more inexperienced Wonder Woman than what was shown in “Batman v Superman” and Gadot portrays it flawlessly. If you were unsure of Gadot after “Batman v Superman,” you’ll be convinced that she IS Wonder Woman after you see this film.

While Gadot was excellent, the same could be said about Chris Pine. Pine gives a great performance as an experienced soldier, affected by the tragedies he has seen throughout his time serving in the war. The chemistry between the two is a pleasure to watch. Steve Trevor’s maturity, knowledge and experience in the war is contrasted with Diana’s pure innocence. The two play off of each other so well, some of their moments were my favorite to witness across the whole film.

Steve Trevor’s secretary Etta, played by Lucy Davis, was a delight to watch when she showed up on screen. So much so, that I believe she was underutilized as she was almost guaranteed a laugh throughout the entire theatre. At one point, she is given a great deal of responsibility to help Trevor and Diana, however we barely hear from her again. I had hoped to see more of her humor from that point forward.

While this film is such a departure from “Batman v Superman” or even “Suicide Squad,” I believe fans of those films will enjoy “Wonder Woman.” You will be introduced to a bad-ass heroine, a great story and lots of humor. I hope to see Warner Bros. go in this direction with their DC properties in the future. Well done, Warner Bros., Patty Jenkins, and everyone else involved in the film. It was truly fantastic.

Grade: 9/10

Episode 90

This week the Shanlian on Batman crew is bringing you yet another new podcast! All kinds of news going down in the DC world and Justin, Kyle, and Tom are here to talk about it. Discussions on Wonder Woman and what critical acclaim and financial success will do to future DC films, Justice League Dark’s director stepping down and who is in talks to replace him, Patty Jenkins and her future with the Wonder Woman franchise, some Shanlian on Batman business and how you can contribute, and the tragic circumstances causing Zack Snyder to step down from his role as director for the upcoming Justice League film. Enjoy episode 90 of Shanlian on Batman!

SDCC: Top 10 List for 2017

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By

John McGee

 

Top 10 SDCC Wish List Items

In just a couple short months, SDCC 2017 will once again be upon us. While I will not be able to attend the event in person, I will scathe the Internet for news and livestreams. My favorite SDCC moment was 2015—I was in my Batcave, screens aglow, and literally shaking in anticipation. Finally, the Hall H panel lit up with the Batman v Superman interviews, and a while later the trailer shown there was available on YouTube. It was absolutely amazing.

While SDCC 2016 was a bit less thrilling, I have a hit list of items I want from 2017’s convention:

1. Low Justice League meter. We’ve already had two trailers and several character teasers. I don’t want much new footage so soon before November. What we need to see is some Batman v Superman-esque stingy marketing focusing mainly on gadgets, costumes, vague but fun interviews, and concept art. No spoilery trailers, please.

2. A little bit of Wonder. Wonder Woman will have been out for only about a month when SDCC rolls around. I’d like to see some support for the film with a screening or Q+A session with Gal Gadot, Patty Jenkins, and maybe Lynda Carter. Just to focus on the greatness that is happening now, rather than making SDCC all about the greed of the future.

3. A release date schedule. I’m not the only one; we all want to see what Warners has in store in its DC department. With all the juggling of release dates that has been going on, and the announcements of unscheduled projects, I want to see DC firmly plant its feet on the ground and stake out some realistic release dates and officially announce upcoming projects.

4. Comic book artists. In 2016, DC Comics officially won the comic book genre once again with Rebirth. Rebirth will last until after I’m dead, because it’s not a reboot, but rather a way of life. Rebirth needs to be out in full force, boasting the superiority and talent. This should help to garner more comic book readers for the dwindling entertainment outlet.

5. A Batman v Superman celebration. DC should be proud of Batman v Superman. The greatest way to shove it up the haters’ butts is to build upon it for Justice League and future films, and market it like the success it is. It is now on the all time list of greatest selling DVD/Blu-ray films and it’s only been out for about 10 months! Audiences love the film—SDCC is all about us, the fans, not the Devin Faraci’s of the world. Let’s keep Dawn of Justice in SDCC for one more year.

6. Another ‘W’ for DC. A yearly tradition for DC at SDCC has been to dominate the public consciousness. I’d like to see the buzz and support once again this year. Since Man of Steel DC hasn’t had a hard time generating the most buzz at conventions rivaled only by Star Wars.

7. (Unrelated warning): Pirates 5 support. I know this isn’t DC related, but Pirates of the Caribbean is one of the most important franchises to comic book fans. Why? It is the representation of a way of life, of a certain genre of adventure loathed by the critic main stream media. The series was amazing in its first three instalments, and even though 4 was a shot in the toe, it made a lot of money and many fans happy. If Spielberg has his way, and comic book movies go the way of the Western, expect Pirates to either go first or next. It is exactly the kind of film DC has been making: fan-beloved blockbusters that critics loathe and have a chance to ruin.

8. Batgirl news. That news being a new director. Joss Whedon is a big name, but a big name only. After reading his abominable Wonder Woman script, I love Warners for cancelling it and I loathe them for accepting his Batgirl proposal. We need a new director and we need it coming down the pipeline fast. Imagine DC making not only Wonder Woman, but Batgirl before Marvel limps out eventually with a half-baked knock off origin of Captain Squirrel (captain pirate? Captain Shazam? Oh, captain Marvel. How original of them). It would be a huge win and further proof that DC wins without question in the battle of “whose characters are better.”

9. Nightwing. I’d like a release date (see 3) but also concept art and perhaps an update on casting if they have any.

10. The Batman. Matt Reeves won’t be able to really work on the film until Apes is done, but we should get a filming update. (Please?) A script update? ANYTHING???

There is my list for SDCC. Hopefully we’ll see at least a few of those come to fruition, and as we all know by now, there will always be wonderful surprises that we never dreamed of. Stay tuned to Shanlian on Batman in July for SDCC 2017 news and updates, as well as the follow up to this post with the grade to see how many of the items on this list were fulfilled, left blank, or covered due to surprises.

What do you want to see from SDCC? Hit us up on Twitter to let us know!

@ShanlianOnBat

Amid Family Tragedy Zack Snyder steps down from ‘Justice League’

By

Drew Kiess

A family tragedy has forced Zack Snyder to step away from finishing “Justice League.” Autumn Snyder, Zack’s daughter, passed away from suicide back in March. According to Snyder, he took a break from work but decided that he needed more time and has stepped away from finishing the film1459482949641 to continue to spend time with his family.

Joss Whedon had been brought in during this time to assist in writing new scenes intended for reshoots, but with Snyder stepping down, it will be Whedon leading the effort to finish the film. Warner Bros. was reportedly interested in delaying “Justice League,” but Snyder was against it.

I’m sure much will be written on what this means for the film and its quality. The reality is, whether this is good or bad for the film is irrelevant. As much as I am rooting for “Justice League” to be amazing (and I still expect nothing less), in light of this news, that desire takes a back seat. My heart breaks for Zack and his family today. Life is more important and more precious than even the greatest movies and whether this is the right decision for the film pales in comparison to the fact that this is the right call for Snyder and his family in their time of grief. It is not my place to put any kind of microscope on that. Mourning is an extraordinarily personal experience, and there is no easy way to do it.

There will be a time to further examine the behind-the-scenes aspects of “Justice League.” I think that, beyond the facts that we have, now is not that time. Now is the time for practicing empathy and talking about things that are more important that our heroes in tights. They will still be there when we are ready for them again.

 

 

 

 

Sure: The Hollywood Reporter

Major Reshoots for Justice League?

By

Andrew Kiess

Mario-Francisco Robles of SplashReport has reported that Justice League has undergone major reshoots with more major reshoots on the way. These reshoots, according to Robles’ source, are “significant”, and that the movie, after this next round of reshoots will have “been remade…twice.”

Umberto Gonzalez from The Wrap has refuted this report. According to Gonzalez’s source, “[t]here has been no additional photography to date on ‘Justice League’” and adds that, while reshoots are scheduled, it is part of the normal course of events for a movie of this size.

Competing sources on a story like this can be confusing, but, personally, I would be quicker to believe Umberto Gonzalez on this story. Fans of Shanlian on Batman will know that Gonzalez has a solid track record when it comes to DC properties, and something like major reshoots would not be difficult for a trade reporter like Gonzalez to uncover.

Reshoots are definitely on their way for Justice League, however. This will surely set off many blogs and twitter warriors saying all kinds of things about the state of Zack Snyder’s next adventure with our DC heroes, but that’s just par for the course at this point.

I do think that there will be some things that will need to be changed, especially with the way certain films, particularly The Flash and The Batman, have gone through creative changes since the beginning of production on Justice League. And, as has been the case with many of these blockbusters, Zack Snyder, Geoff Johns, and the other folks working on this film will begin to see things that need another run past a camera while they are in the process of editing. Even if the reshoots end up being “significant”, as long as Warner Bros. doesn’t bring in another director (like Fox did with the 2015 Fantastic Four), we should be fine.

Episode 88 wsg Loren Lester the voice of Robin/Nightwing

 

Episode 88 is LIVE and we are so thrilled that we were able to sit down and chat with Loren Lester on this latest episode. For those of you who are not aware of it, Loren Lester is the voice of Robin/Nightwing from Batman: The Animated Series, The New Adventures of Batman and the upcoming film Batman and Harley Quinn. Loren takes us on his personal journey from being a young kid watching the old Bill Dozier Batman series to his first day he recorded on the Animated Series. This episode will definitely go down as one of our personal favorites as Loren was our childhood, and as soon as he started talking nostalgia hit us and we were blown away with him, not just as a guest but as an amazing person! So please give a very warm Shanlian On Batman welcome to Loren Lester aka ROBIN.

‘Teen Titans: The Judas Contract’ Review

By

John McGee p13867381_p_v8_aa

Animated comic book movies are on the decline, but blame the ratings, not the quality. Judas Contract is rated PG-13, although it is decidedly more mature than the R-rated Justice League Dark. The smashing success of The Killing Joke can be attributed to the graphic novel’s huge popularity and the return of Mark Hamill and Kevin Conroy to their starring roles. Judas Contract was most likely put together to push Deathstroke and Nightwing into the public conscience ahead of their appearances in Batman and solo DC films.

The movie itself benefited from adapting the coolest Teen Titans comic book story of the same name. Deathstroke attempts to wreck the Titans by planting a mole to tear them apart from the inside out. Why, though, a villain as high caliber as Deathstroke needs to spend time trying to eliminate kids is still beyond me.

For the most part, I have a general rule that for movies containing lots of characters outside the Justice League circle I’d need to do some comic book refreshing, but Judas Contract is relatively accessible to well versed and comic book illiterate alike. The flashback introduction was very open and welcoming to anyone who needed a primer on who the characters were and where they were coming from throughout the course of the story.

As I mentioned, the movie is rated PG-13. There were a few cuss words and plenty of graphic violence to go around, but I agree with the rating. I just hate the inconsistency of the MPAA. It is absolutely the biggest disaster in the film industry next to Rotten Tomatoes.

The movie itself was worth the rental: funny, exciting, and surprisingly non-cliché. The action was actually interesting to watch. Usually these DC animated movies (non classics) are painful to watch due to laid-back performances, stale action, and downright lazy storytelling. Judas Contract was a pleasant surprise, and it will please anyone who watches just to have a good time, but also those looking for good relationships between the main characters and a look into the potential of Nightwing and Deathsroke in their own live action features.

8/10

“I Am Bane” Review

By Andrew Kiess

Tom King is a brave man. Yes, he’s served America as a counterterrorism CIA operative, but his most recent challenge in life has been filling the role once held by the great Scott Snyder writing Batman. Snyder’s run as the lead writer on Batman lasted the entire fiver year lifespan of DC Comics’ New 52 line, and was its bestseller, as well as one of the most critically acclaimed books of the line. But, Snyder left shortly after the Bloom arc, and when DC was looking to relaunch the line, Snyder was moved to All-Star Batman, and King was asked to step up to the plate.

Spoilers for Batman #1-15 to follow.

King’s run debuted with I Am Gotham. This story, found in issues 1-6, featured the mysterious appearance of two super-powered beings called Gotham and Gotham Girl, who were being manipulated by the Psycho Pirate. In the sequel arc, I Am Suicide (issues 9-14), Psycho Pirate is being protected in Bane’s fortress, and Batman recruits a Suicide Squad from Amanda Waller in order to extract the Pirate so that he can cure Gotham Girl. The plan is successful, which obviously does not sit well with Bane.

batman-11-coming-november-16-from-writer-tom-kingIf I’m being honest, I have struggled to get into this new run on Batman. David Finch’s art has been great, and Tom King is a great writer, but it has felt like Batman has taken a backseat to the characters around him throughout the entire Rebirth line. And as great as Rebirth has been for most of DC’s characters, I have felt like Batman has not benefitted from Rebirth. That was until I read I Am Bane.

Bane is on his way to Gotham to exact revenge for Batman infiltrating his sovereign territory, and Bruce Wayne is preparing for war in a way that only Bruce could—by sending all of his soldiers away from the battlefield. Bruce warns Dick Grayson/Nightwing, Duke Thomas/Lark, Damian Wayne/Robin, and Jason Todd/Red Hood to stay out of Gotham until Bane is dealt with. But, his warnings fall on deaf ears for the Robins, and Bruce finds them hanging, barely alive, in the Batcave with the words “I Am Bane” spray painted across their chests. Bruce and Alfred must get Gotham Girl and the Psycho Pirate out of Bane’s path of destruction, and so they barricade themselves deep within Arkham while Bane’s warpath leads him through all of the inmates Batman has put there over the years.

Three issues into this run, I finally understood what King was doing. It’s no coincidence that the main three arcs of King’s run so far have been titled with the words “I Am…”. He was re-forging Batman’s identity as Bruce. Or Bruce’s identity as Batman. Either way, the end of the New 52 saw many changes for Bruce Wayne, not the least of which included being raised from the dead (kind of) and becoming the god of knowledge (really.) Despite all the good that happened for the character during the New 52, it didn’t leave the character with very many directions to go. Is Batman Gotham, or are there other heroes better suited for that task? Is Batman suicide, willing to sacrifice himself for the cause? Or is Batman like Bane, steeped in tragedy and loss? In the last half of I Am Bane, something beautiful happens with the character that I think that if you haven’t been paying attention, you might miss.

Batman is taken out of the tragedy that inspired him, while Bane is haunted by his own tragic past that holds him back. While the death of Bruce’s parents may have started his quest to rid Gotham of crime, it is now his own heroic nature that keeps him going. He is pulled out of the muck of being a crusader for justice, fighting an unwinnable war—he’s a man, who sees that being Batman and doing Batman things, saving Gotham Girl, stopping Bane, and doing these things with every drop of sweat and blood he can give, as the right thing to do. And because being Batman is the right thing to do, he is going to do it. This is Tom King’s Batman. And, even though I’m late to the party, I’m a fan