This is another video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. This video is a deep dive into the past, future, and potential of the DC Cinematic Universe (a.k.a. the DCEU). Now that it’s all but official that the whole endeavor is getting revamped, I explore what the new DCEU needs to do in order to succeed and the potential pitfalls it might face. I’m genuinely rooting for DC and Warner Brothers to succeed. But they will face major challenges to become a full-fledged cinematic universe.
Tag Archives: DCEU
How The New DC Cinematic Universe Can Succeed (Or Fail)
Filed under DC Comics, Jack's World, movies, superhero comics, superhero movies, X-men, YouTube
Thanking Henry Cavill And The Past, Future, And Importance Of Superman
Recently, fans of Superman, superhero movies, and DC Comics got some sad, but unsurprising news. In light of the new regime at Warner Brothers Discovery headed by James Gunn, Henry Cavill will not return to play Superman. This news came less than a month after he made a surprise cameo in a post-credits scene in “Black Adam,” which initially renewed hopes that he would return as part of a new direction for the DCEU.
Now, it seems that same DCEU that initially began with Henry Cavill’s Superman in “Man Of Steel” is officially over.
As someone who saw that movie in theaters the week it came out and was convinced that Cavill was the right man for this icon of icons, I’m quite disappointed, even if I’m not too surprised. I don’t deny that movie had its flaws. I also don’t deny that the DCEU has had many flaws since its inception. It tried very hard to catch up with Marvel Studios. And while it certainly had some hits like “Joker” and “Wonder Woman,” it had far too many misses.
But I’d rather not dwell too much on everything that went wrong with Warner Brothers, DC Comics, and how they went about making these movies. I’m sure there will be plenty more said and revealed in the coming years about how it got to this point. From the origins of “Man Of Steel” to the drama surrounding “Zack Snyder’s Justice League,” I suspect we still only know part of that story.
But regardless of what the full story might be, Henry Cavill and his approach to playing Superman was not the issue. He truly embraced the character. He really did seem to appreciate the spirit and importance of Superman and everything he stands for. Now, someone else will be wearing that iconic costume in the next Superman movie. We can only hope that, whoever it ends up being, he appreciates it just as much as Cavill.
That kind of appreciation for a character is not a trivial matter. I know you could say that about a lot of iconic characters that have made it to the silver screen, but Superman is different. Superman is unique with respect to his place in the world of superheroes, pop culture, and our collective imagination. He represents far more than simply being the prototypical hero by which all modern heroes are measured.
That may just sound like the inherent bias of someone who loves comic books and superhero media, but I promise there’s substance to that sentiment. And whenever I hear Henry Cavill talk about Superman, I get the sense he understands that substance more than most.
To appreciate it, you need only take a step back and look at who Superman is and what he represents. It’s not just that he’s perfect manifestation of our modern heroic ideal. Superman is a character who essentially casts a purifying light on a cynical world. For both the audience, as well as the fictional world he inhabits, he is someone whose power is great, but his motivations are simple.
He just wants to help.
He just wants to do the right thing.
There’s nothing complicated, nuanced, or elaborate. There doesn’t have to be with Superman. He is just a big, strong boy scout. He’ll engage in an epic, multiverse-spanning fight Darkseid one day and save a cat from a tree the next. Both are equally important to him. He doesn’t even see it as being a hero. Being good, being kind, and doing the right thing is just part of who he is.
He wasn’t born on our planet, but he embraces Earth as his home.
He’s not human, but he embodies true goodness of humanity to the utmost.
You can call him corny, basic, overpowered, or any number of things that are born of cynical outlooks. But that doesn’t change who Superman is or why he matters so much. Whether he’s played by Henry Cavill or the late Christopher Reeves, his presence offers light in a world that seems so dark. His inherent goodness reminds us that there’s real power in kindness and compassion.
It doesn’t matter how overpowered he is or how much those powers have changed over the decades. You could keep giving him more and more powers. It still wouldn’t matter. Superman would still use them to help people. He would still use them for good. He’s a direct counter to the notion that power will always corrupts or heroes will always become jaded or bitter. Superman will keep doing what he does. He’ll never let the worst of humanity outshine what makes them good.
That, more than anything, is what makes Superman such an important character. He dares us to believe that doing good is more powerful than any feat of strength. The world might have changed a great deal since his creation in 1938, but the importance of doing good hasn’t. Even if Superman is perfectly good, the world around him is not. And his willingness and ability to do so much good with this vast power he possesses offers others perspective, as well as a beacon for hope that we can be better.
You could argue how much or how little “Man Of Steel” embodied that spirit. But you can’t argue that Henry Cavill embraced the hope that this character embodies. I also believe the world will need that hope for whenever the next Superman movie comes out, whoever ends up playing him.
Superman has endeared for as long as he has because what he stands for still matters. The world today has plenty of issues the likes of which Superman’s original creators, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, never anticipated. We’re a world so divided and torn, struggling to see the forest from the trees at a time when everyone insulates themselves in their own comfortable bubbles. But Superman’s inclination to just help people and do the right thing transcends all of that. The hope he inspires goes beyond arbitrary divisions.
We need that hope now more than ever.
We need a character like Superman to remind us that a man can fly, move worlds, and save the day for no other reason than it’s the right thing to do.
Henry Cavill did his part for this character. For that, an entire generation of fans will be forever grateful.
But as sad as it is to see him move on from the role, let’s be ready to embrace a new version of Superman for a world that still needs him. I certainly am and I hope he can continue being that beacon of hope we’ll always need, inspiring us to both do better and be better.
Filed under DC Comics, movies, superhero comics, superhero movies
Batman The Animated Series: The Episode That Perfectly Defines Batman And His Villains
The following is a video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. In the spirit of the success of “The Batman,” I decided to do a video about one of my favorite episodes from “Batman: The Animated Series.” It’s an episode that I feel perfectly encapsulates what makes Batman great, as well as his villains. Enjoy!
Filed under DC Comics, Jack's World, Movie Reviews, movies, superhero comics, superhero movies, YouTube
The Batman Review: A Different Dark Knight With A Different Greatness
The following is a video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. It is my full review of “The Batman.” Please note that this review does contain major spoilers. Enjoy!
Filed under DC Comics, Movie Reviews, movies, superhero comics, superhero movies
Zack Snyder’s Justice League: Celebrating An (Overdue) Vision
The following is a video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. It’s a video I never thought I’d get to make. In it, I review Zack Snyder’s “Justice League,” a movie that legions of fans, as well as the cast, fought for. I didn’t think it would succeed, but after years of advocacy, it came out on HBO Max. I made it a point to build my Saturday night around watching it and I’m glad I did. Watch this video to see why. Enjoy!
Filed under DC Comics, Jack's World, Movie Reviews, movies, superhero comics, superhero movies, Wonder Woman, YouTube
Jack’s World: How “Wonder Woman” Celebrates Love And Humanity
The following is a video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. It’s a video essay/celebration of the first “Wonder Woman” movie, a film that will always be near and dear to my heart. I know I recently did a review of “Wonder Woman 1984” and I was tempted to do a video about that, but I wanted to first pay tribute to the movie that started Diana’s wondrous journey into film. Enjoy!
Filed under Jack's World, Movie Reviews, movies, superhero comics, superhero movies, Wonder Woman, YouTube
My “Wonder Woman 1984” Review: An (Imperfect) Emotionally Charged Wonder
We’re at a point with superhero movies where the bar has been raised to such a degree that we can’t just call them a passing fad anymore. Love them or hate them, superhero movies have evolved. They’ve developed a complexity and nuance that few genres ever gain, regardless of medium.
Plus, they make billions at the box office. Let’s not forget that. It’s why the Bill Mahers of the world won’t stop whining about superhero movies anytime soon.
Forgetting the whiners and petty nit-pickers of the genre, superhero movies have a higher threshold to achieve to be considered successful. It’s not enough anymore than to just put a famous actor or actress in an iconic costume and replay famous scenes from comics. The story, characters, and themes have to be refined and compelling.
That’s a challenge for any movie, but one that felt far more daunting for “Wonder Woman 1984.” After the success of the first “Wonder Woman” movie, which did a masterful job of establishing Diana’s origin and building her superhero persona, this sequel is tasked with building on that foundation.
As someone who loved the first movie and made it a point to watch “Wonder Woman 1984” on HBO Max with my mom on Christmas day, I had high hopes for this movie. I wasn’t expecting “The Dark Knight” level of quality, but I was hoping for a worthy follow-up.
Without giving away too many spoilers, I’ll say without hesitation that it succeeded. This movie was a beautiful, emotionally driven cinematic experience and a worthy successor to the first “Wonder Woman.”
I say that knowing that some reviews were quite scathing in their assessment of the film. As is my general rule, I never read reviews before I see a movie. As I saw with “New Mutants,” that can wrongly color your perspective. As was also the case with that movie, I was genuinely surprised by the criticisms levied against “Wonder Woman 1984.”
However, I’m not going to waste my time responding to those criticisms. I’m just going to offer my take on why I thought this movie was a worthy follow-up to the first. Like any sequel, its primary goal was building on what the first movie established. In that sense, this movie did succeed.
The setup for the movie is a dazzling spectacle. Like the first, we get a brief glimpse of Diana’s youth on Themysicra. We see her living and growing amongst her Amazon sisters, showing the kind of power and potential that lies within her. It’s a true sight to behold and one director Patty Jenkins fleshes out meticulously.
Within that setup, though, is an important theme. It highlights the importance of truth and doing things the right way for the right reasons. You cannot and should not take shortcuts to achieve your goal. Doing so will always come at a price and incur consequences. It’s a simple, but necessary lesson that kids and adults alike often learn the hard way.
That leads us directly to the main antagonist of the movie, Maxwell Lord. Played by Pedro Pascal, he comes off as the very antithesis of this lesson. He’s a con-man and a huckster, always looking for a shortcut to get what he wants. That includes tampering with the forces of the gods, which puts him in direct conflict with Diana.
At the same time, this conflict ties closely to another unfolding with Diana’s new friend, Barbara Minerva. Played by Kristen Wiig, she comes off at first as the very antithesis of Diana. She’s a nobody. She has none of Diana’s power, grace, or skill. She’s basically invisible, only ever getting attention from people she doesn’t like.
This is very much in line with the characterization of Barbara Minerva in the comics. She’s Wonder Woman’s chief rival, but she started out as a friend. She’s even sympathetic to some extent. She’s not looking to become a villain, like Maxwell Lord. She just wants a taste of the power and prestige that she sees in Wonder Woman.
She ultimately gets her chance, as does Maxwell Lord. When Barbara stumbles upon the Dreamstone, a relic imbued with the power from Dolos, the god of lies, that can grant wishes to those who wield it. However, like a typical monkey’s paw narrative, every wish comes at a price.
It closely mirrors the lesson young Diana learned in her youth, as depicted in the movie’s opening scenes. Taking any shortcut to get what you desire will come at a price. You can try to avoid the consequences all you want, but it eventually compounds. The more you try, the worse it’ll get.
Maxwell Lord thinks he has a way to avoid this. He thinks he can get everything he wants by simply making the right kind of wish. That ultimately causes a great deal of destruction. I’d go into detail, but I’d rather not reveal too much. All you need to know is that it’s not the kind of destruction Wonder Woman can stop with her fists and her sword.
What happens with Barbara Minerva is even more impactful. Like Maxwell Lord, she’s unwilling to give up any power she gains. Unlike Lord, however, she’s willing to pay any price to keep it. That’s what sends her down a dark path. It’s also what turns her from one of Diana’s friends into a truly tenacious foe.
These conflicts become very personal to Diana because she too is unable to resist the temptation. She may give so much of herself to others, but she also has desires and wishes of her own. That’s where Steve Trevor, played again by Chris Pine, enters the picture.
His death and heroic sacrifice in the first “Wonder Woman” movie was so powerful. That whole movie really sold the love that blossomed between him and Diana. Even as the years go by, his death still burdens Diana. She cannot let go of that love. She wants nothing more than to have it back.
It’s sad, but understandable. If ever someone deserved a consequence-free wish from all her heroic acts, it’s Diana. Unfortunately, there’s no getting around it. She still tries. She gets her chance to be with the love of her life again. As with everything else, though, it comes at a price.
That’s the biggest theme of this movie. Getting what you want by breaking the rules or cheating will always come at a price. Even if you’re willing to pay that price, it does cause damage to yourself and others. It’s a painful lesson and one that gives “Wonder Woman 1984” so many emotional overtones.
It’s because of those overtones that this movie works so well. Wonder Woman, by her nature, is a very emotionally driven character. Her love, compassion, and heart are among her greatest traits. They’re as strong as her fighting spirit. The first movie revealed this and “Wonder Woman 1984” builds on that.
Her greatest struggles always have an emotional weight to them. It’s not just a matter of her beating up the bad guy to save the day. One of those foes was once her friend. Another is someone she can’t defeat simply by beating him up. She has to use that uncanny compassion and heart to win the day. That’s what makes her Wonder Woman.
I would argue that’s the most important aspect of her character and this movie captured it perfectly. I really did feel for Diana as she went through these emotional upheavals throughout the story. It brought out her greatest strengths, as well as her greatest weaknesses.
Now, speaking of weaknesses, this is where I also have to levy some criticisms of my own against “Wonder Woman 1984.” I promise they’re not nearly as petty or overblown as some of the other reviews to this movie. Some have complained about the length and tone of the movie. I honestly think that sort of criticism is misguided.
I’ll still say outright that this movie was not as good as the first “Wonder Woman.” This movie was not as concise and polished, in terms of story. There were a number of “and then this happened” moments that made the story seem a bit jumbled at times. In some cases, it relied too heavily on contrivances and suspension of disbelief to move things along.
I get the sense this was done to keep things moving forward from a plot standpoint. I also think there were some difficulties in revealing the ins and outs of godly magic, which is considerably harder to do in a movie when compared to a comic.
None of these shortcomings kept the movie from working overall. Gal Gadot once again carried her role as Wonder Woman with grace and grit. She, Steve Trevor, and Cheetah all had well-developed characters that played their roles well throughout the story. In terms of the most important elements to a good Wonder Woman movie, “Wonder Woman 1984” got them right.
If I had to score this movie, I’d give it a 4 out of 5. It has some noticeable flaws, more so than its predecessor. However, Gal Gadot is still an amazing Wonder Woman, Patty Jenkins is still a great director, and this world they explored together was full of dazzling wonder.
For a year that has been so bleak and dire, it’s just what we needed. For that, I thank “Wonder Woman 1984” and all those who helped make it happen.
Filed under DC Comics, Movie Reviews, superhero comics, superhero movies, Wonder Woman
Upheavals At DC Comic: My Concerns And Hopes
Let’s face it. Pretty much every industry not associated with health care, masks, streaming media, and Zoom calls has been hit hard this year. That’s especially true for certain segments of the entertainment industry. Basically, if you’re a movie studio, a movie theater, a comic shop, or a mall, this year has been like 100 punches to the gut, jaw, and genitals by a crack-fueled Ivan Drago.
That’s how bad global pandemics are. They pull no punches and will hit anything that attempts to prosper, both directly and indirectly.
Those blows extended to the comics industry, as well. As a lifelong comic book fan, I certainly felt it. I haven’t forgotten the weeks on end of having no new comics to enjoy for the first time in over a decade. It was not a pleasant experience. As elated as I was to see New Comic Book Day return, I didn’t doubt for a second that there would be some lasting scars.
Well, now it seems some of those scars are starting to fester and the first one to feel the pain is DC Comics. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the entire DC Comics operation has been hit with major layoffs and restructuring. It’s still intact, but make no mistake. This is the single biggest purging of personnel from a major comics publisher since the mid-1990s.
THR: DC Comics, DC Universe Hit By Major Layoffs
Monday’s WarnerMedia layoffs have affected a significant number of high-level figures at comic book powerhouse DC, multiple sources tell The Hollywood Reporter.
Among those said to be losing their positions are editor-in-chief Bob Harris, senior VP of publishing strategy and support services Hank Kanalz, VP of marketing and creative services Jonah Weiland, VP global publishing initiatives and digital strategy Bobbie Chase, senior story editor Brian Cunningham, and executive editor Mark Doyle, who oversaw the rollout of the Black Label graphic novels. Jim Lee remains the CCO.
Roughly one third of DC’s editorial ranks are being laid off, according to sources.
Insiders also say the majority of the staff of the streaming service DC Universe has been laid off, a move that had been widely expected as WarnerMedia shifts its focus to new streaming service HBO Max.
I can’t understate how big a deal this is to the larger world of comics, but I don’t want to overstate it, either. This situation is objectively bad. There’s no way around it. It’s also not the definitive end of DC Comics. That’s a narrative I don’t want to fuel.
That hasn’t stopped some of the whiniest, dumbest segments of the comics crowd from claiming otherwise. I won’t name names, but they are affiliated with a certain movement in comics that has only become less credible and more insufferable with time. The box office return of the “Captain Marvel” movie is proof enough of that.
Don’t be fooled by what some asshole voices on social media claim. This restructuring is not because DC Comics had too much diversity. It’s more a byproduct of DC Comics having lost its sense of vision, scale, and identity. This is something that happens from time to time in comics. After a while, the whole line loses its sense of self and needs some revitalization.
I can say, as a longtime comic fan, that DC has become somewhat stale in recent years. Even before the pandemic, I felt as though it had lost momentum outside its mainstays. It has primarily been relying on the strength of Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman, Green Lantern, and Flash. As iconic as those characters are, they just can’t sustain the entire line.
There are many reasons for that. I think DC Comics, as a whole, hasn’t had a consistent vision since the days of DC Rebirth. It just got bogged down too much with competing visions, like DCeased and Injustice: Gods Among Us. It also endured way too many delays with its last big crossover event, Doomsday Clock.
The onset of the pandemic just exacerbated a problem that was starting to grow. As bad as things are now, there’s also an opportunity to set things on a better path. That’s my greatest hope for whatever restructuring DC pursues next. It still has plenty to build on. The success of the Harley Quinn show is proof enough of that. It’s just a matter of what form that will take.
That said, I do have major concerns. Comic lines have gone through upheavals before, but never during a global pandemic. This is uncharted territory for the comics industry, as a whole. This is not the era of newsstands and comic shops where top books could easily sell hundreds of thousands of copies. Paperbacks alone are not going to make this industry succeed.
Comics, in the current system, work best as a garden from which new characters, stories, and ideas can blossom. The fruits of that system can later become the basis for TV shows, movies, merchandise, and so much more. DC Comics already has a major media partner in its owner, AT&T. The structure is there. They just have to carve their niche into it.
I understand that’s easier said than done. Right now, a lot of factors are working against DC and the comics industry, as a whole. When all is said and done, comic shops may become much more diminished and trade paperback sales may dwindle to just a handful of titles. I’m not looking forward to that kind of status quo.
The ultimate setup may one day involve DC Comics just abandoning its publishing system, as a whole, and shift to licensing its characters to other companies, such as IDW. That’s very much a last resort, but one that may be more likely if DC can’t get its comics in order.
I want to be hopeful, but I’m also going to brace for the worst. If 2020 has taught me anything, it’s that things can always get worse and the things we love are always capable of succumbing to forces beyond our control. It’s a sad, nihilistic mindset, but one that a global pandemic tends to affirm. Only time will tell and I’ll be waiting with baited breath.
Filed under DC Comics, media issues, superhero comics