We’ve been BUSY BUSY BUSY here at the World News Center. The lovely and talented Chayse Love has been working on a film and I’ve been splitting my time between doing a rewrite on a novel and trying to earn a living. Someday I hope that the former covers the latter. But until then we all must make do. A couple of quick things; several readers wanted to know, when I discussed the discovery of actual teleportation, if by “proof of concept” that I was trying to say some mad scientist had already built a device that could transport humans from one place to another. The answer is no. Proof of Concept is a very real term that has a very specific meaning. It means that something has shown that it can be done and only that. It ascribes no practical value to it at all. For example, the original proof of concept for the atomic bomb produced barely enough energy to light a light bulb. 5 years later things were MUCH different. It is the true starting point for all scientific discoveries. I also fielded some cards and letters (as it were) about Chayse’s article on using shame to sell products. If those authors would go back and read the parts written in English they will discover that at no time did she say this was new. She just said it’s wildly more pronounced. And she’s right. So there. Suck it up and move on.
You’re cell is phone so bad that you’re not worth mugging is not a message that anyone would have dared 10 years ago. Yet here it is now.
One thing that would have been missed by those few people who don’t regularly listen to The Big Wake Up Call radio show and podcasts is that the whole Justice League thing is taking on a massive life of its own. I noted that my sources had confirmed that there were three full camera crews being dedicated to the project. 3 crews = 3 movies.
Or so I thought.
I was wrong.
After years of frustrating false starts (Superman Returns, Green Lantern) and a disheartening number of unrealized or abandoned projects (Joss Whedon’s Wonder Woman, George Miller’s computer-animated version of Justice League), the superstructure of the DC cinematic universe is finally beginning to take shape.
While Marvel Studios continues to add to its menagerie of spandex-clad do-gooders, DC has struggled to expand its stable beyond Batman and Superman, a problem emblemized by Zack Snyder’s awkwardly-titled Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which unintentionally conjures images of the two heroes locked in a Kramer vs. Kramer-style custody battle over Robin. All that changed last week, however, when notorious entertainment blogger Nikki Finke posted what she said was a leaked production schedule, one that Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment were apparently hoping to unveil at next month’s San Diego Comic-Con. The list, which has since been all but confirmed by filmmaker and Fat Man on Batman podcaster Kevin Smith, includes a total of seven movies revolving around every character from Shazam and Sandman, each one slated for release at some point during the next four years. If the schedule holds true, DC could easily find itself releasing two to three movies a year for the foreseeable future.
It’s a risky, deliberately idiosyncratic lineup, very different from the shameless duplicate of the Marvel model many fans and online commentators were expecting. Instead of slowly building up to Justice League — its 2017 release date is only halfway down the list — by giving its most prominent members a bunch of solo adventures, DC is instead planning what amounts to a meta-human mélange, starting with Batman v Superman, which promises to be less a sequel to Snyder’s own Man of Steel — that one won’t show up until 2018 at the earliest — and more a direct lead-in to Justice League.
Batman v Superman, which was delayed until 2016 due to the sheer enormity of its cast and their other professional commitments — will be responsible for introducing viewers to several future leaguers besides the Dark Knight and the Last Son of Krypton, including feminist icon Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot from Fast Five), the unfairly ridiculed Atlantian monarch Aquaman (Jason Momoa, a.k.a. Khal Drogo on Game of Thrones) and the student athlete-turned-superhero Cyborg (relative newcomer Ray Fisher), the last of whom has enjoyed a recent spike in popularity thanks to an expanded role in the comics — particularly under Geoff Johns and Jim Lee’s New 52 reboot — and Cartoon Network’s resurrection of the Teen Titans animated series.
After Batman and Superman finish their grudge match, audiences will be treated to the big-screen debut of one of the oldest superheroes in the history of the medium, even though he technically belonged to the now-defunct Fawcett Comics for the first few decades of his existence. Shazam, formerly known as Captain Marvel, has been around since 1939, but “the world’s mightiest mortal” still gets dismissed by casual fans as an underpowered Superman clone. He’s actually little Billy Batson, a kid reporter who comes across a benevolent wizard — coincidentally named Shazam himself — who deems the boy a “champion of good” and endows him with the ability to transform into a full-grown superhero anytime he shouts the word, “Shazam!” The Captain is an unabashedly goofy, optimistic, pure-hearted character, one who stands in purposeful contrast to the League’s many brooding, angst-ridden members, and any film featuring him is practically guaranteed to be a hit with younger audiences. In fact, it wouldn’t be a stretch to picture a family-friendly star like Dwayne Johnson in the title role.
2016 might also see the release of Sandman, possibly the most intriguing title on the content slate, even though it will likely have no bearing on the events of Justice League. Based on Neil Gaiman’s critically acclaimed horror fantasy comic, the story centers on the existential wanderings of the Endless, a group of all-powerful beings who double as anthropomorphic representations of the universe’s most ancient and vital aspects. The series, which has been celebrated for its epic scope, rich characterization and intricately detailed narrative, regularly finds itself on lists of the greatest graphic novels of all time, right up there with Alan Moore’s Watchmen and Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. The film version will star Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the mercurial Lord of Dreams and is being scripted by The Dark Knight co-writer (and USC alumnus) David S. Goyer. Between this and the upcoming Constantine television series, we could be in for a rash of new goth-tinged comic adaptations. Guillermo del Toro may even be able to make his long-rumored version of Justice League Dark after all!
The list also teases a standalone Wonder Woman film in 2017, which should please any fan who’s ever wondered why it’s taken more than seven decades for the most famous female superhero in the world to finally headline her own movie. Hopefully Gadot, who’s already faced criticism for being too short and slight for the role, can summon the right combination of pluck and potency to make the Amazon princess a true force to be reckoned with, both onscreen and at the box office. The actress certainly has more combat experience than most Hollywood starlets, having trained in the Israeli army for two years during her late adolescence.
Last but not least is something we haven’t really seen before: a superhero buddy movie. That’s right, the final film on the list calls for a feature-length Flash and Green Lantern team-up. This has all the makings of a zany fun sci-fi romp, but its critical and commercial success will hinge almost entirely on the chemistry and rapid-fire rapport that must exist between its two costumed stars. If this duo is anything less than dynamic, it’s doubtful we’ll ever see a quality version of Hal Jordan on the big screen.
After years of uncertainty, it looks like DC finally has a workable game plan that doesn’t involve kidnapping Christopher Nolan and chaining him to a director’s chair. Speaking of Nolan, it’s worth noting that there are currently no plans for another solo Batman movie. Ben Affleck’s version of the Caped Crusader will doubtlessly appear in all but a few of these forthcoming movies, but it’s strange to see DC and Warner Bros. ignoring the guaranteed revenue a new Bat-film would bring in. Could it be a long-overdue sign of confidence in the rest of their heroes? Or are they just holding out for Affleck to direct the next one himself?
Let’s run down that list again.
- May 2016 – Batman v Superman
- July 2016 – Shazam
- Christmas 2016 – Sandman
- May 2017 – Justice League
- July 2017 – Wonder Woman
- Christmas 2017 – Flash/Green Lantern team-up
- May 2018 – Man Of Steel 2
To release 7 movies in 24 months means they need to shoot 7 movies prior to that. 3 camera crews could make that happen. They could go from film one to film two and just keep on filming. That would mean that 3 films would be in the process of being edited while 3 more were on their way and one was being set up for the final crew.
If this is panning out they could just keep going.
The one thing that has become clear is that Warner and DC are not playing this safe. Sandman, although on the Vertigo imprint, is a very dark, and incredibly well written, series.
The back story for Wonder Woman makes it clear that she’s about as American as a falafel.
Shazam is a character who has fought Superman and spurned the Justice League in the comics. The fact that his real life identity is a hormonal teen only makes things more intriguing.
Already Superman has killed in the movies and the new Batman costume that has been leaked looks more like armor than tights.
Which makes sense if he’s planning on fighting Superman and not just hooking up for a double mocha latte.
All indications are that Flash will remain a pacifist, which will make a compelling dynamic if they follow it down to its logical conclusions.
There’s been no word on which Green Lantern they will portray but rumors indicate that they are leaning towards the John Stewart character. That would add a level of military discipline to this that should give the other characters pause for thought.
Keep in mind that the military trains to fight hoping they never have to. That’s why a Green Lantern / Flash team suddenly becomes a fascinating thing.
A skilled assassin (Stewart was a sniper in the comics) and a pacifist should have some interesting dinner conversations.
Suddenly I want to see them all.
Even if it appears that J’onn J’onzz is getting kicked to the curb.
Below is a cinematic representation of how the world views American superheroes. And, yes, it’s as bizarre as you think it is.