Posts Tagged ‘Editorializing’

After watching a movie recently, I was speaking to a friend of mine and in the conversation I mentioned how I didn’t like that they killed off a certain character. His reply: “Someone had to die.”

Really? When did that become a rule? Where is it written? Who said that someone had to die for a story to be more effective?

It’s become an increasing trend that stories/movies where someone dies, for whatever reason, are given automatic praise, while films where everyone survives to the end are deemed unrealistic and trite. (This is not counting horror/disaster movies where the point of the film is that everyone is going to die.)

I do not live in a bubble, I know that people die and have seen many deaths in my lifetime, up close and personal in some unfortunate instances, and I understand that this is a part of life: people live, people die. So why such a focus at the moment on death? Why is it that a character has to die in order to prove the severity of the situation? Why do heroes only become heroes after someone dies?

Isn’t that rather… selfish?

What does it say about your hero if they will only rise up to the challenge of saving thousands of nameless strangers unless someone they know and care about is killed?

Granted, death is not always as petty as that, but increasingly this is the plot device of choice. Insert Character A and B. Kill Character B to get Character A to react thusly. Or worse, kill off Character B to prove that things are serious without actually having to do any work in building up the villain beyond ‘hey, they killed someone, they must be a bad dude’.

The common argument I hear is ‘it’s more realistic’ if a character dies.

For certain stories dealing with certain subjects, yes, I would be highly disappointed if death was just glossed over and ignored. But when you’re talking about films or stories that are meant to simply entertain, to prove life lessons, or be self-affirming… life is just as realistic as death.

People survive the unimaginable every day. Through luck. Through shear force of will. Through the work of true heroes.

Why have we forgotten this?

Why do our writers/producers/etc now believe that if they are making a movie where the genre/subject matter doesn’t automatically require everyone lives or people die, then the default should be to go ahead and kill people off cause ‘that makes it more real’?

I have theories… but I’m not really qualified to say for certain. 

All I know is that I can no longer get attached to characters because there is a better than even chance they will be killed off just to prove the story means business, instead of the writer taking the time to actually flesh out their characters and show that they are evil, demonstrous individuals, without taking a single life… which is a hell a lot scarier than any death could ever make me fear.

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mark-miller-empire-onlineWith the success of Avengers, studios started to realize the benefit of having a singular ‘show runner’ as it where to oversee different movies that are all part of the same universe. This makes total sense and I’m all for it. So when Fox said they were putting Mark Miller in charge of their comic book properties I was supportive even though I didn’t know much about him other than I watched the Kick Ass movie.

After the past few months I’ve come to realize that Mark Miller really needs to just stop talking.

Recently he completely ditched the idea of making a Justice League movie.

“I actually think the big problem for them is the characters are just too out of date. The characters were created 75 years ago, even the newest major character was created 68 years ago, so they’re in a really weird time.”

Granted, characters like Wolverine, Rogue and Gambit were created in the 70s, 80s, and 90s (or there abouts if you want to get technical). But the core of the X-Men go back to the 60s. Like there is nothing weird about the time span between the 60s and 90s? Especially when compared to today.

Also, the DC characters have been rebooted several times in the past years in order to make them more ‘current’. Batman especially has shown in the Nolan movies that he is just as modern as any other character and he was created in 1939!

He goes on to say in that same interview:

“The actual logistics of each member of the Justice League is disastrous, and you put them all together and I think you get an excellent way of losing $200 million.”

justice_league_movie_cast

Five Main Characters – Lord of the Rings had how many?

Five Justice League members are too much but a group of at least five mutants all with their own equally different powers/backgrounds, not to mention DOFP will include old and young versions of said mutants, is okay?

“On the other hand I though the third film felt crowded, but then Singer is excellent at working with ensemble casts. So with this one [DOFP] I feel it is all fine. I have read the screenplay and it doesn’t feel rushed and it doesn’t feel like it is too many characters.”

So obviously he thinks it can work.

“X-Men in the Nineties was so convoluted in comic-book terms, and Bryan drove a knife through it and make it work [in X-Men 1] and simplified the whole thing.”

So maybe it’s just a 90s thing? Which would be odd since he says that JL won’t work cause it’s so old. Is there like a sweet spot then, a frame of years that only produce good comic book movies? Nope.

Millar then expresses no worries in how the film [Days of Future Past] is being handled, despite the heavy mythology. “I think as long as it’s done right.”

Oh, so not age, just how it’s done? Wouldn’t that apply to Justice League or is it just an X-Men thing? Nope.

“From what I’ve seen [of the Fantastic Four reboot] and from talking to him [director Josh Trank] – he and I have had dinner a couple of times and we talk quite regularly as well – he’s contemporarising it. I think he’s just making it work for the screen – he’s a great storyteller.”

I'm admittedly bad at math but I count more than five here, even if you take out Sabes and Toad.

I’m admittedly bad at math but I count more than five here, even if you take out Sabes and Toad.

So, Justice League is impossible to handle and contemporarize but X-Men and Fantastic Four are okay?

Oh, in the same article he compares FF to Chronicle and Alien… wha? He can make those kinds of comparisons but it’s impossible to do anything ‘new’ or ‘different’ with Justice League?

But really, the crux of his whole ‘the actual logistics just wouldn’t work’ idea is this: You are a paid creative consultant. If you were working for WB it would be your job to make it work, and you would make it work. That is what you are supposed to be doing and what you should be doing for Fox.

Case in point: Sentinels, the big, bulky, fiscally irresponsible, destined to be considered Transformers rip-off’s, purple robots.

Here he talks about them as being ‘cool’.

“I don’t really want to give too much away but the Sentinels are a big feature of this story. They will be cool and this will deliver on all of the teasers.”

Really? So yeah, you can make those robots cool but you can’t figure out how to make Aquaman talk under water? Oh wait, you did.

“Are they gonna talking telepathically?”

Just make sure your actors can emote and can do voice overs and it could work. Or, dunno, take the movie out of the water for most of it? You would think of something cause it’s what you’re paid to do. If, you know, you were being paid by WB, which you’re not, but I’m sure you’d be singing a different tune if you did.

And apparently I’m not the only person who thinks there is something a whole lot dodgy with Miller’s latest comments about WB’s Justice League movie.

Of course, that’s the movie version he’s talking about, as for the comics, well, he knows how he would have done the reboot. Which, yeah, I guess we’ve all had that moment of ‘man, I could do better’, but when you put it with everything else he’s said you can’t help but read it with such an arrogant tone.

Which is made all the more arrogant by this

“I just feel the exciting stuff that’s happening just now is creator owned.”

Umm, that’s kind of the opposite of what is going on with the X-Men and Fantastic Four movies as they are licensed by Fox… you know, the people who are paying you to make sure their movies are good.

But then, Miller’s getting several of his own properties off the ground as movies: Kick-Ass 2, Nemesis, Supercrooks and Superior and Secret Service. Seems like his job as ‘creative consult’ is working out very well for him personally. I’m not gonna begrudge the man getting his comics the film-treatment, but again, with his bashing of everyone else’s works, everything he says is tinted with a hugely arrogant and unattractive tone. Makes you wonder just how much he really cares about the X-Men and FF films.

Especially when he takes credit here and here for The Avengers movie, which, okay, fair enough, he’s happy for them…

“People have suggested we should feel ripped off, but we don’t own these characters. All we did was give them a lick of paint and come up with a story and the visuals. These are Marvel-owned characters and I have my own little empire with Millarworld so I’m genuinely just pleased to see all this on the big screen and wish them nothing but the best with it.”

But that praise is short lived because apparently the Avengers movies aren’t going to go far

“Where I think it’s going to be difficult is once you’ve done that thing of putting all those characters in one film…you know, it’s like having Harry Potter, James Bond and Spider-Man all in one movie. I think what’ll be difficult then is to try and top that because people want to see it get bigger.”

Well, just scrap the X-Men then, cause once you have an ensemble movie that’s it apparently. No one is going to want to see just an individual movie about their favorite super-hero, one of which they might not have realized was awesome until having seen them in Avengers. [note the sarcasm here]

Sorry Hawkeye, Ant-Man and Dr Strange beat you to it.

Sorry Hawkeye, no movie for you! Ant-Man and Dr Strange beat you to it. Story of your life, huh?

Seriously, how many people went back and watched Captain America and Thor after watching Avengers? Does he really think audiences don’t want to see their favorite characters in a more highlighted and individual setting? Tell that to all the Hawkeye fans begging to get him a movie.

Oh, but if you’re X-Men…

“The X-Men feels like a universe by itself; there’s so many characters and so many great potential spin-off characters.”

Basically, what I’m getting from Mark Miller is that only stuff he is involved in can work… everything else can’t?

I am really excited to see The Wolverine. I’m also waiting anxiously for more information onDays of Future Past because I think it could be epic. But every time Mark opens his mouth I suddenly get an overwhelming sense of dread, and not the cool Judge Dredd kind.

So please, Mark Miller, stop talking, especially if all you are going to say is backhanded compliments that are truly just insults.

3/ Third would have to be Dark Knight Rises. Controversial, I know, but I think this might be my favourite of all the Batman movies. It has its problems, especially Nolan’s reluctance to make Batman himself especially interesting, and the pay off with Bane SO anticlimactic after such a brilliant build up. But it’s got so many good moments and was so incredibly ambitious that I think it clobbers Avengers in terms of pure cinema. Avengers was a very fun popcorn movie with a lot of good jokes, but in terms of actual scale and depth I think Dark Knight rises to the top for Summer 2012 for me.

So, TDKR had a major character that was dull and no pay off but that was apparently better than Avengers.

Considering Miller’s role in upcoming comic book movies and major franchises, he really shouldn’t be going around putting down everyone else’s works just to make his look better. I think someone needs to give him a dictionary and open it to the word ‘tacky’… then let the movies speak for themselves.

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Iron Man 3 hits theaters May 3rd which is only three months away so they are really starting to hit the advertising hard. Below is a selection of news information, photos, etc, but before I get to that, I want to point out something that kinda bothers me: What kind of movie will Iron Man 3 be?

Kevin Feige has said that this is not a serious movie, but the ad copy for the film seems to beg to differ. Every trailer focuses on destruction, and not in the ‘oh, fun action movie mayhem’ but ‘Iron Man has failed, what he loves he can’t protect’ stuff. Almost every picture is either neutral or some kind of ‘look how Iron Man looks crappy and beaten’. I’ve only seen one image that is remotely not-serious. There is a touch of humor in the extended look at the Super Bowl trailer that can be seen on their Facebook page or embedded here.

So, are the ad people simply focusing on the dark and gritty stuff, attempting to capitalize on the ‘TDK effect’? After all, a certain amount of grit is to be expected in this film and that’s perfectly understandable. Tony did go through a lot during the Avengers movie and Pepper Potts could turn into Rescue.  But doesn’t focusing on this aspect of the film constitute a total mis-representation of the film?

If this isn’t the ad people taking liberties, then will this movie end up being a hot mess as no one really knows what it’s supposed to be in the first place? I’m hoping this isn’t the case cause I’m really looking forward to Iron Man 3. However, since Iron Man 2 did waver in quality and tried too hard to levy on the emotional introspective side of things… it’s possible that the third movie is somewhere in between and more the woe for it.

Official Iron Man 3 website

Marvel – Iron Man 3 poster

CinemaBlend – Iron Man 3 Super Bowl Spot Takes To The Air And Suggests A Major Character Death
You can watch the embedded Super Bowl ads here.

ComicBookMovie – Official IRON MAN 3 Stills Released

BleedingCool – Let’s Over Analyse This New Iron Man 3 Image For Fun

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Below is the casting call for Days of Future Past courtesy of ComicBookMovie. Fittings starts in mid-February (which isn’t capitalized?) but the actual filming will be April to August, this gives plenty of time for post-production unless there is another  chunk to be filmed later. We can probably expect to see set pics starting in May.

The big thing is that apparently “most of the film takes place in 1973” which is ten/eleven years after First Class. I don’t see a problem with this, they need to move things forward in the timeline and allow them to go farther with the current actors.

A lot of people though, seem to take this as meaning that there will be no JFK assassination ‘magic bullet’ moment. Vaughn originally talked about such a scene when First Class came out as a possible opener for the sequel but seeing as the assassination took place in 1963 people believe this won’t happen. Um, they can still easily do that, if the film mostly takes place in 1973 doesn’t mean they can’t have the movie start in 1963 and do a quick skip to ten years later.

I’m more interested in the fact that this is 1973… what happened in 1973 that would fit with the Days of Future Past idea of changing the future? From Wikipedia:

And that’s just some of the highlights. Seeing as First Class went after the historical event of the Cuban missile Crisis it’s safe to assume that there is a very likely chance DOFP will involve itself either in the Vietnam War or the Watergate Scandal. But the question is, what would have to be changed? Or is more like they have to make sure that everything happens the way ‘we remember it’… i.e. maybe Nixon doesn’t resign or is assassinated in the future and that leads to a mutant apocalypse? Or they could just make something up, a young Senator Kelly or a replacement character?

Only time will tell… but they sure picked an interesting year to play around in…

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Not but yesterday I reblogged a post from Newsarama about how the modern age of instant discussion could affect the way a serialized comic book might be perceived. How basically a whole lot of people did a whole lot of shouting about something they thought ‘might’ happen. I said this could easily be applied to tv shows.

Today comes another article I’ll be reblogging below, this one from Entertainment Weekly, that directly addresses the idea of serialized storytelling and its place in the instant/streaming television media market place. The crux of the argument is this: What is better, binge watching a tv show all at once or having to watch an episode each week?

It’s a hard question to answer. Many people are thankful for binge watching being readily available via dvds and services like Netflix. I myself didn’t watch the tv show Psych from the beginning and binge watched the first two seasons and am now addicted to it. So yes, there is a definite plus here. But as the article points out, once you binge, you’re done, that’s it. Unless you’re waiting for a new season, you have nothing to come back to, nothing to anticipate.

You’ve essentially watched a Mini-Series with a cliff-hanger ending.

Netflix likens watching tv shows episode by episode to getting a book chapter by chapter. I don’t think this is accurate. Watching a well made tv show is like getting the individual books of a series. Each book is self-contained and has a story that is entertaining/satisfying in its own right. Would the recent successful book series of Game of Thrones and Harry Potter been nearly as successful if they all came out at once and didn’t have fans shouting “you have to read this” and getting more people hooked and increasing numbers buying the next book?

But again, we’re in a time of instant gratification. Will there come a moment were a week is just too long to know what’s going to happen next? And if that time comes, will it be the ushering of a new gilded age or a veritable entertainment apocalypse?

Netflix touts binge viewing: Is waiting better?

Arrested-Development

We’ve all done it. The marathon. Those Lost weekends. The red-eyed nights watching episode after episode of 24 and Rome. We start acting like Breaking Bad meth-heads at 3 a.m. just one more hit show and then we’ll go to sleep.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings wants to feed our guilty-pleasure viewing habit. He’s previously declared that “Netflix’s brand for TV shows is really about binge viewing.” In his latest earnings report to investors, he touted the revolutionary wisdom of his company’s ongoing plan to release entire seasons of original TV shows all at once. “Imagine if books were always released one chapter per week, and were only briefly available to read at 8pm on Thursday,” he wrote. “And then someone flipped a switch, suddenly allowing people to enjoy an entire book, all at their own pace. That is the change we are bringing about. That is the future of television.”

On Friday, Netflix debuts the first 13 episodes of its new series House of Cards, which stars Kevin Spacey as a Machiavellian politician. Hastings predicted the event “will be a defining moment in the development of Internet TV” due to the company’s innovative delivery plan — here’s our show, clear your weekend.

If any single series marks a light-switch moment for the release of full TV seasons, it will probably be when Netflix unveils the eagerly anticipated fourth season of Arrested Development in May rather than Cards. But let’s take a look at his overall point. Most of the major recent technological entertainment evolutions are about more, better, faster, everywhere. So why should the way we watch TV seasons be any different?

Some analysts say there are distinctions that make Netflix’s model unwise. After all, even street corner dealers know the value of customers coming back week after week.

Variety’s new media guru Andrew Wallenstein wrote a deep-dive on this issue, criticizing the strategy from a business perspective.

“Allowing consumers to consume at their own speed contradicts [Netflix’s] financial imperative to keep them on the service paying the seductively cheap flat monthly fee of $8 for as many months as possible,” he wrote. “Yes, the binge opportunity makes Netflix all the more addictive. But compelling the viewer to pace their programming consumption will generate more revenue.”

Wallenstein also points out that the model ignores all the media buzz-building and word-of-mouth benefits generated by having a show parsed out for 13 or 22 weeks of the year.

“For Cards, ardent bingers will make for pretty passionate brand advocates in the days, maybe weeks, after they’ve gobbled up the first season, but will they be talking it up at the watercooler for months the way a series like Homeland is as the buzz of its 13 episodes gets dispersed across a broader time span? No matter how high-tech Netflix fancies itself, it’s old-fashioned word-of-mouth recommendations from fans that are the most effective ambassadors for a brand.”

While over at Fast Company, writer Austin Carr knocked the Netflix model from a more humanistic perspective.

“Stringing viewers along has its benefits,” he wrote. “And to say the web has killed our patience to wait for serialized content to be rolled out is to say human beings no longer have an appetite for the building of excitement, anticipation, and suspense … Yes, it’s annoying having to wait for new seasons of Game of Thrones or Mad Men. But when they premiere, isn’t there something enjoyable about the campfire moments the shows create?”

I think Wallenstein and Carr are both correct, yet ultimately it won’t much matter. Making customers wait for episodes might be better business for Netflix. And waiting for episodes might be more emotionally satisfying for viewers. But that’s like telling kids to save their Halloween candy and make it last for weeks. Once a more, better, faster, everywhere system is invented, it’s difficult to stop its spread and adoption. If technology permits us to watch full TV seasons over days or weeks instead of months, we’ll do it.

Think of it this way: One study showed that — like Carr’s point on a micro level — having to sit through commercials instead of skipping them actually increases our enjoyment of a TV program. “The phenomenon we think is at work here is adaptation,” the researcher said. “The easiest example of adaptation is a massage chair. The longer a massage goes on, the more you get used to it. You adapt. But if it stops briefly, then starts again, it re-triggers that initial enjoyment.”

TV viewing, he says, is the same way. “It’s more enjoyable when it’s interrupted.”

So who wants to give up their DVR?

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There is a great article below I’m rebloging from Newsarama about the recent uphevel in the comic book world over something that ‘might’ happen.

You see, the point of a serialized anything is to get you to come back each week, month, or whenever to buy the next issue or watch the next episode. This is why things like cliff-hangers were invented, not to mention teasers, solitations, trailers, etc. This can often be very fullfilling as you have something new to look forward to each week both in whatever the plot of that week’s issue/episode is and whatever you might learn about the over-reaching arc.

It’s natural to speculate on how things will play out: who might live/die, who might hook up, who is the killer, that kind of thing. However, in the modern age of instant feedback and instant gratification, that speculation is not left to languish over the week in a person’s own thoughts or a message board, instead, a million conversations take place instantly all feeding together like a hydra monster of sorts. When this happens, well, read the article below for a nice case study which can easily be applied to television as well:

Op/Ed: Super Serial – Monthly Storytelling Gets the Shaft

By Lucas Siegel, Newsarama Site Editor posted: 30 January 2013 02:55 pm  ET

It was the kiss heard round the world.

Doctor Octopus, who had recently taken over Spider-Man’s body, kissed Mary Jane Watson (unaware of the switch) passionately in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man #700, telling her he intended to renew their relationship. Before the kiss itself, he expressed how he was plotting to be with her, and she at one point tore open his shirt (revealing the Spider-Man costume). The villain pretending to be a hero looked at her lasciviously and clearly desired to have a romantic relationship with her…

And that, coupled with Superior Spider-Man #2‘s cover of the pair kissing again (or more accurately, Ock/Spidey stealing a kiss from the redhead), set off an internet firestorm, led by many respected commentators who one would assume know comics. People who have contributed to the industry through reports, criticism, and intelligent discussion started a fierce argument based, in the end, seemingly entirely on assumption and speculation.

MILD SPOILERS FOR SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN #2 AHEAD

And now, with Superior Spider-Man #2 out and on the shelves, it all ends with Otto (again, somewhat gross and lasciviously) accessing Peter’s memories about his time with MJ. With great memories come great feelings, and now legitimately caring for her, decides to break things off entirely. Aside from that first big kiss in ASM #700 that set off the internet, all Otto wound up getting was a few pecks on the cheek.

 Now, the conversation about rape and how it’s portrayed/the subject is handled in comics and indeed all media is an extremely important (and sensitive) one, but not the subject of this article. We won’t be covering that today, and indeed, Steve Wacker didn’t discuss it at the time because it doesn’t actually happen in either of these comics. As Wacker said himself on Twitter when this first came up, “It’s an important topic, but I think it’s diminished by this kind of craziness.” Indeed, the only problem with how people approached the issues raised by ASM #700 and the subsequent covers is that they went after writer Dan Slott and editor Stephen Wacker simply because of potential. It seems to imply an ignorance of the serial nature of comic book storytelling, or at least a refusal to acknowledge it.

In two days of Twitter conversation about the subject, Wacker consistently tried to roll with any questions, and merely argued that readers should continue reading. His only direct comments about the issue itself were that the scene in ASM did not depict sex (true), and that people needed to read the first few issues of Superior to know how the story would play out. In other words, he did his exact job as editor of a serialized story — he told people to read it serially, as it came out, and didn’t spoil what his writer had, at that point, already written.

The ASM kiss

What this really speaks to is the nature of serialization in the internet age. With feedback and conversation truly instantaneous via Twitter and other social networks, solicitations showing covers and teasing at storylines three months ahead of time, and a constant need for immediate gratification, it seems that comic book readers may be losing the ability to simply enjoy serial fiction. Rather than thinking about what actually happens in the pages of a just-read book, readers have been trained — partially by themselves and peers in the internet indignation machine, partially by the culture of previews and interviews (of which we acknowledge our role in) — to always be thinking several months ahead in the future.

But covers have traditionally been misleading. Quick moments and cliffhangers and provocative covers — these are not only intended but necessary parts of a serial. Covers have nearly always had misleading elements, from announcing the death or retirement of a character to a misleading moment of passion between an unlikely pair. The whole point is to have a reader say “wait – what?” and have an intense desire to see what happens next. About a year and a half ago, another Marvel Comics cover showed a surprising kiss. Was Cyclops cheating on Emma Frost (who he had cheated with — mentally — on Jean Grey, of course)? Why would Storm be in his embrace and not with, you know, her husband at the time? Of course, it wound up being a misleading cover, showing an alternate reality. Indeed, scenes of romance and death are a traditional method of teasing readers to try to bring more eyes to the next issue. Again, it’s merely the definition of serialization.

 What people were angry about at first was the mere suggested possibility of more than a kiss, then the anger turned more towards Wacker and Slott’s unwillingness to accept their argument, or, in their own defense to tell readers how the story would play out a month in advance of the issues where the resolution took place. And that’s just not how serial storytelling is supposed to go.

So what’s the solution? Should solicitations not go out over the internet? That seems impossible at this stage, and fans have clear and easy access to the monthly Previews catalogue, anyway. Should creators and editors stay off of social networks and not interact with fans? Again, both impossible and frankly a bit silly. The positive examples of interaction are often overshadowed by the extreme fringe negatives with attacks and death threats, but the positeves tend to actually be more frequent and outweigh the negatives, with fans getting a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of the media they so enjoy.

No, the only real solution is for fans themselves to take a step back into the days when serial adventures were taken one at a time. Just because there can be an instant reaction doesn’t mean there has to be one.

At the very least, the tone of the far-too frequent internet indignation machine should be measured against both what we know and what we just think we know.

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Justice League Movie CastIt’s not been confirmed but the line up for the new Justice League movie Warners Bros has slated for a 2015 will be: Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, and The Flash.

This seems likely as while there have been others in the Justice League at various times, these five are perhaps the most notable, which is a good thing seeing as there is no word yet if Henry Cavill and Ryan Reynolds will be reprising their roles as Superman and Green Lantern. We already know Christian Bale will not be reprising his role as Batman as the JL movie will be removed from Nolan’s Batman universe and Batman could be rebooted as early as 2017. So, assuming Cavill and Reynolds are back, then their movies would be the ‘set up’ or ‘phase one’ of the DC Film-Verse which would culminate in the Justice League movie, but three out of five major characters will not have an origin movie.

Good thing these characters are recognizable… but are they really anymore so than the Avengers cast before the ‘Phase One – Avengers Assembled’ films were released:

The Avengers poster by Mondo

The Avengers poster by Mondo

Batman and Superman are basically Iron Man. It could be argued that when Iron Man came out he wasn’t that recognizable beyond people knowing his name but the first movie catapulted his status to that of Bats and Supes. Phase One hadn’t really started yet so that movie counts. When Phase One really got going, you’d have to have been living under a rock not to have heard of Iron Man.

Wonder Woman is pretty much The Hulk. Both had wildly successful tv series, but ever since they’ve had issues with getting a decent movie off the ground and/or getting decent people to play them. They’re fairly recognizable characters though no one can name a single person in these character’s rogue’s gallery or their origin story beyond a few tidbits, unless they were already fans.

Green Lantern is Captain America. You can’t not have heard of these guys if you poked your nose anywhere around the comic-verse, but other than having one crappy movie (Captain America in 1990, Green Lantern in 2011) and being in other character’s animated shows, they haven’t gotten much love outside the comic-verse.

Flash, well, he really is Thor. They are two characters who people have heard of but get confused with other characters (mythology, Flash Gordan, Venom (true story!)). Also, they’re two characters who have had tv shows and movies no one remembers.

As for Black Widow and Hawkeye, they will be represented by whatever little-known-outside-the-comics characters end up getting picked for the supporting cast. They will then see skyrocketed comic book sales, their own solo titles, and possibly their own movie.

But again, only two of these characters (possibly one if they want to strike the tragedy that was Green Lantern off the record) will have introduction/origin movies. Will this help or hinder the effort?

Let’s look at the Phase One movies, here is a breakdown of how much money they made at the box office thanks to Box Office Mojo:

2008Iron Man – 318mil domestic – 585mil total (for comparison)
2008Incredible Hulk – 135mil domestic – 263mil total
2010Iron Man 2 – 312mil domestic – 624 total
2011Captain America – 177mil domestic – 367mil total
2011Thor – 181mil domestic – 449mil total

2012Avengers – 623mil domestic – 1.5billion total

Not only did the individual origin movies not come anywhere near Iron Man (save maybe Thor’s total take), even Iron Man fell into the shadow of the Avengers film itself.

Why is this so? Was Avengers just that much better than all the other movies?

While it was quality, you also have to take into account that Avengers pulled together fans of every single one of those characters. Those who watched Iron Man may not have cared to see Thor. Those who watched Captain American possibly didn’t care about The Incredible Hulk.

So the question now becomes… how are the sequels going to do? How many people who didn’t care about Thor and Loki went out and watched Thor after they watched Avengers? How many of those will be going to see Thor: The Dark World when it comes out? We won’t really know for sure until we see the numbers.

Superman's_Profile_picture by ~Agustinus

Superman’s_Profile_picture by ~Agustinus

How does this affect the Justice League movie?

Avengers may have needed to let you get to know the other characters because it couldn’t rely on the draw of Iron Man and comic readers alone, but Batman and Superman are guaranteed to be a big draw. Not only do they have masses of individual fans (which goes well beyond the comics) who want to see them, but they want to see them interact. No matter the quality of the movie, we can expect to see very large numbers out in mass for opening weekend.

But what if the Justice League movie is terrible?

Then back to the drawing board with no money lost on origin films that went nowhere, but also, like Green Lantern, it might be years before they touch on the character ever again. Though they could go the route of making tv shows like Arrow and Amazon which is in pre-pre-production. They have a lot of options, only a few we’d actually like to see.

But what if the movie is actually really good?

Those who went to go see Bats and Supes are introduced to three other characters that, if they are done right, will basically have the ‘Hawkeye effect’ and people will want to see them in their own movie. This means when WB sinks money into a WW movie with the same actress, in the same universe, then they are guaranteed better returns than if they tried to go solo before Justice League, an idea that they had but seems to have been dropped.

The only issue would be that they couldn’t do prequel movies because that would be annoying, but it would be easy enough to put their origins in there as either a quick 15 minutes at the beginning or parceled throughout the film (as long as it’s done right).

So, is it a smart move by Warner Brothers to work backwards?

They’ve already been accused of trying to ride on the back of the Avengers box office smash… but then Batman and Superman are literally much bigger characters in their own right and could carry a team-up movie with so much ease it should be criminal. The fact they haven’t done it before now should be punished as a capital offence. Maybe it took a kick in the pants for them to get around to it but it was a long time coming.

As for GL, WW, and Flash… I think the fact that Green Lantern made 116mil domestic, half of that on opening weekend before the news came down of its quality, proves that the audience is there for these movies, maybe not 300mil domestic like Iron Man right now, but they are there. But really, as long as they start putting out good films, they will be able to hold against Disney/Marvel, if not surpass them… but with a rash of really bad superhero movies in Green Lantern and Superman Returns, and the retirement of the Nolan-verse Batman movies, they need a shining beacon of ‘yes, yes we can make good movies!’.

Man of Steel logoWe do have Man of Steel coming up later this year, but will that be enough? We were already let down by a Superman movie and so wary eyes are on this film. If it’s a great film then it will definitely help the cause, if it terrible then at least it could be kicked under the rug.

In the end, the Justice League movie is the crux of the entire DC film franchise. Supes and Bats will always have their place on screen but if Justice League fails then it will take everything else down with it. If it succeeds then it is a literal blank check for Warner Bros to bring all our favorite DC characters to life.

So yes, this really is the best move by Warner Bros. Marvel’s Avengers had a fairly blank slate to start with while Justice League has a lot of recent history with most of the characters, either through failed movies or the failure to make a movie. They need a reset button, they need a point to start, and this is it.

Granted, the reset button does look an awful lot like the self destruct button… but that can be entertaining in its own right.

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