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: Wonder Woman
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
Justice League Gods and Monster: An Underrated Animated Gem (And Why DC Comics Should Revisit It)
The following is a video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. This video revisits DC’s underrated 2015 animated movie, Justice League: Gods and Monsters. It was a bold movie that dared to retell and revamp the stories of its most iconic heroes, Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. Both the movie and the comic book tie-ins proved unique in so many ways. And while not much else came from this world, I try to make the case that it’s worth revisiting. Enjoy!
New Comic Book Day November 3, 2021: My Pull List And Pick Of The Week
I hope everyone had a great Halloween. I certainly did. It always warms my heart to see so many kids dressed as superheroes. This year, I can confirm that the impact of both Loki and Shang-Chi was quite extensive. The Loki costumes alone warranted extra candy. I made sure they all got their share. I also made sure I still had some left over to enjoy for New Comic Book Day.
It’s one of the underrated joys I’ve come to appreciate over the years. I always make it a point to buy extra candy for Halloween so that the kids know my place is one of the best places to go. I also make sure there’s some left over for the next New Comic Book Day. That way, I can both enjoy new comics and eat some of the leftover candy. It’s a small, but satisfying joy that has become a post-Halloween tradition of mine.
For those who went trick-or-treating and got a nice haul, I encourage you to incorporate that candy into New Comic Book Day as well. Comics are like the ultimate spice. It makes everything you mix it with a little more awesome. Get yourself a bowl of candy, a fully charged iPad, and a Comixology account and you’ve got the perfect post-Halloween trifecta. To those who dress up as their favorite superheroes, I can confirm that this makes the candy taste even sweeter.
I’ve got both my candy and coffee in hand. I’ve got my iPad ready and stocked with comics to start my day. To all those who seek to share in this little tradition, here is my pull list and pick of the week. Enjoy!
My Pull List
Batman: The Adventures Continue #6: Season Two
Batman/Superman #1: Authority Special
Death of Doctor Strange: Avengers #1
Harley Quinn: The Animated Series: The Eat. Bang! Kill. Tour #3
Hellboy: The Bones of Giants #1
The Joker Presents: A Puzzlebox #11
Mister Miracle #6: The Source of Freedom
Rick and Morty: Rick’s New Hat #4
Strange Academy Presents: The Death of Doctor Strange #1
My Pick Of The Week
Dark Knights Of Steel #1
New Comic Book Day August 25, 2021: My Pull List And Pick Of The Week
We all need an escape every now and then. Sometimes, the world is just such a mess that we need to take a step back, close our eyes, and pretend we’re not in the middle of an unfolding shit storm. Needless to say, we needed a lot of escapes last year for obvious reasons.
For me, personally, I needed a lot of escapes when I was younger. As I’ve noted before, I was a pretty miserable teenager. I had a lot of issues and whenever I needed an escape, comics were there for me. In my house, the TV wasn’t always available and we didn’t have smartphones yet. Sometimes, the best thing I could do for myself is just dig into my comic collection and forget about the world.
Flash forward a couple decades and things have gotten even easier, at least with respect to diving into comics. Thanks to Comixology, I can access my vast collection of comics through my smartphone and tablet. I don’t have to go digging through any boxes. I just have to have an internet connection. On Wednesdays, it’s even more satisfying with a new batch of comics to choose from.
After this past week, anyone who has followed the news in any capacity probably needs an escape. The world is in an objectively awful place right now and it’s probably going to get worse before it gets better. It’s a depressing thought, I know. That’s why we should all make the most of New Comic Book Day. It’s a temporary escape, but one I think we all need.
To that end, here is my pull list and pick for the week. I hope it helps you escape the awfulness of this world, if only briefly. Enjoy!
My Pull List
Spider-Man: Life Story Annual #1
Symbiote Spider-Man: Crossroads #2
My Pick Of The Week
Superman: Son of Kal-El #2
Why Superhero Secret Identities Are More Relevant Than Ever
You don’t have to be a lifelong fan of superheroes to know the role that secret identities play in their over-arching narrative. It’s one of those story elements that often goes hand-in-hand with a hero’s journey. Part of becoming a hero involves forging an identity and, more often than not, this identity can’t function alongside the one they start with.
It’s a story that has roots in the early days of modern superhero comics. It wasn’t just a common plot point. It was practically a given. It was as necessary as capes, colorful costumes, and punishing masked criminals.
From a practical standpoint, having a secret identity has some legitimate merit. There are things Bruce Wayne can do as Batman that he cannot do and vice versa. The same goes for Superman, Wonder Woman, Spider-Man, and many other iconic heroes. In “Batman Begins,” Bruce Wayne set the stage for his secret identity by crafting Batman as a symbol, one that conveyed an idea that went beyond the person in the costume.
In recalling that scene, I think that idea was more prophetic than Christopher Nolan initially intended. When I look at how secret identities have come to define many characters, I believe they’re more important today than they have been in any other era.
I don’t just say that as a long-time fan of superhero comics who has used his knowledge of the genre to explore serious issues. I believe that we, as a society, are entering uncharted territory when it comes to how we manage our identities. The influence of the internet, social media, and an increasingly connected world is more powerful than any fictional hero. It’s already finding its way into superhero media.
This topic became especially relevant for Superman fans because back in late 2019, the release of “Superman #18” officially revealed Superman’s identity as Clark Kent. Now, it wasn’t not the first time Superman’s identity has been exposed, but this time it wasn’t a gimmick. Now, Superman had to learn how to be Superman without a secret identity.
Over the past decade, the value and vulnerabilities of secret identities have been under fire. One of the most jarring moments of the original “Iron Man” movie was the very end when Tony Stark didn’t attempt to hide the fact he was Iron Man. For those not familiar with the comics, it might not have seemed like a big issue. Trust me, it was a major shift.
While Tony Stark debuted as Iron Man in 1963, his identity didn’t become public until the early 2000s. That’s nearly four decades of him operating with a secret identity. In the context of his journey, this was not a trivial decision.
What happened to Spider-Man at the end of “Spider-Man: Far From Home” was even more jarring. While his secret identity has been revealed many times in the comics, it’s almost always retconned. Like Batman and Superman, he has to have a secret identity. He has to have a civilian life that’s separate from his superhero life.
There’s even a notable episode of “Superman: The Animated Series” in which Superman flat out admits that he’d go crazy if he couldn’t be Clark Kent. Think about that for a second. Superman, one of the most powerful and iconic superheroes of all time, admits that can’t handle a life without a secret identity. This is someone who can handle Lex Luthor, Darksied, and Brainiac. If he can’t handle it, then what hope do we have?
That question might not have been too relevant 20 years ago. Before the age of smartphones, broadband internet, and social media, a superhero might have been able to get away with having their identity exposed. You could say the same for anyone who happened to have a dirty secret or a double life. Whether it was an affair or a secret hobby, you didn’t have to work that hard to keep it secret.
Back then, not everyone had a fully-functional camera in their pocket or a means of sharing their media on a mass scale. Even if someone did manage to take a compromising picture or video, it wouldn’t be a huge revelation unless it was published by a major news source and even then there was no guarantee it would have staying power, especially if other major stories broke at the same time.
Now, anyone with a smartphone and an internet connection can capture compromising footage of anyone and share it with the world in seconds. In the world of superheroes, it makes keeping an identity harder than ever. Spider-Man found that out the hard way at the end of “Spider-Man: Far From Home.” Ordinary people and major celebrities are finding that out as well in the real world.
The internet and social media has created an unusual, yet potent system that skews the dynamics of having an identity, secret or otherwise. On one hand, it’s easier than ever to create an anonymous persona on the internet. With that persona, people are unbound by the propriety of real-world interaction.
It’s part of why the comments section of any website or social media feed is full of deplorable rhetoric that highlights the worst in people. Ordinary people can use the anonymity of the internet to say thing they would never say to another human being face-to-face. At the same time, celebrities and people of influence have the opposite problem.
In this hyper-connected world, every word and every action is permanently archived and subject to greater scrutiny. Every mistake or misstep is amplified and blown out of proportion. Every bit of subtext and nuance is completely lost in the various biases and agendas of the public. In essence, public figures have little to no control of their identity. They are very much at the mercy of how others perceive them.
That kind of scrutiny can have benefits and drawbacks. You could argue that the added scrutiny of social media has held celebrities and people of influence to a higher standard. They can no longer operate in the shadows with impunity. Dirty secrets will come out. Bad behavior will be documented. The O.J. Simpsons and Bill Cosbys of yesteryear could not get away with their deplorable behavior in today’s environment.
That may be a good thing on some levels, but it comes at a cost and not just for those who have had their lives ruined by the internet. In a world where anonymous identities are easily created and valued identities are easily ruined, how can anyone hope to maintain a balanced perspective? Whether you’re an accomplished celebrity or just some random blogger, don’t you still need a persona that feels true?
For people who are stuck in difficult situations, such as those belonging to racial, religious, or LGBTQ minorities, having that secret identity might be the only one that feels true or genuine. If that gets exposed, then those individuals could be in legitimate danger. There are parts of the world who will punish these individuals in ways far more serious than online trolling.
In the past, these kinds of people didn’t have an outlet or a means of connecting with others who share their struggles. They either had to organize in secret or set up their own communities, which often meant making themselves real-life targets. The ability to create an identity, secret or otherwise, can be a powerful mechanism for helping people forge an identity that feels true to who they are.
To some extent, superheroes embody the importance of these identities. They can’t do what they do without them. They can’t remain connected to the people and the world they’re trying to protect if they’re always in costume, trying to maintain this persona they’ve created. Without it, they become disconnected and overwhelmed. As a result, they can’t be the heroes they need to be.
For people in the real world, having these identities is more important than ever. You don’t have to be a superhero to appreciate their value, but as our world becomes more connected, it’s become a lot easier to understand why Spider-Man and Batman work so hard to preserve their secret identities.
The fact they still struggle, despite having super-powers and billions of dollars, is a testament to just how difficult it can be. As the world becomes increasingly connected and increasingly tribal, it’s only going to get harder.
My Top 5 Date Night (Superhero) Movies
When we have two things we love, it’s only natural to look for a way to combine them. Without that inclination, we wouldn’t have such wonderful combinations like chocolate and peanut butter or beer and buffalo wings. It’s almost an instinct, mixing the things we cherish in hopes of compounding the joy.
As a fan of romance and superhero movies, I’ve certainly had this inclination before. I’ve built dates around going to a superhero movie. When I was with my ex-girlfriend, we would organize our evenings around a particular superhero movie or TV show that we both loved. It made for more than a few memorable moments, the details of which I’ll save for my novels and sexy short stories.
I know I’m not the only one who enjoys mixing date nights with superhero movies. The massive box office haul generated by superhero movies essentially guarantees that at least one couple has built their date night around them. I have friends and relatives who have used superhero movies, both in the theaters and at homes, to supplement their date night.
With this being a thing in our current cultural landscape, I thought I’d craft my own short-list for the best superhero movies to see on date night. Keep in mind, this list isn’t about which superhero movies are the best or most entertaining. These are the movies that evoke just the right combination of emotions that help make a romantic evening more intimate.
It doesn’t have to involve a major romantic sub-plot, although that helps. It also can’t be all spectacle and flare. There’s a time and a place for those kinds of movies, superhero or otherwise. For date night, the goal is to stir up passion and inspire romantic moments. Having seen pretty much every superhero movie multiple times, and also being a fan of romance, I feel uniquely qualified to craft such a list.
What follows are my top 5 superhero movies for date night. I imagine others will have a different list. I’m sure plenty will strongly disagree with my choice and ranking. That’s perfectly fine. This is just my assessment on which superhero movies are best suited for a fun, romantic date night. Enjoy!
Number 5: Captain America: The First Avenger
For those who cheered Captain America on in the final battle against Thanos in “Avengers: Endgame,” it’s easy to forget that he had a long journey to becoming the living legend we known and love. That journey began in “Captain America: The First Avenger” and while it didn’t gross $2 billion at the box office, it gave everyone a reason to root for Steve Rogers.
A big part of that journey involved a romantic sub-plot that was simple, basic, and inherently lovable. Before he became a Captain, Steve Rogers was just a lanky soldier who set his patriotic eyes on the beautiful, charismatic Peggy Carter. She wasn’t just a pretty face, either. She played an integral part in helping Steve become the hero he sought to be. It’s a beautiful story that just happens to have romantic undertones.
There’s plenty of action. There’s plenty of intrigue as well, in that this movie helped set the stage for the first “Avengers” movie. However, the heart and depth of Steve’s love for Peggy strikes all the right chords. It makes Captain America’s journey more personal. He’s not just this paragon of American ideals. He’s a man who seeks to serve his country and love a good woman.
It’s a simple story with lovable characters. That’s an essential combination for any successful date night movie.
Number 4: Wonder Woman
There are a lot of things that “Wonder Woman” did well. For a movie that had so much riding on it, both for the superhero genre and for female superheroes, the success it achieved at the box office is nothing short of remarkable. It’s only fitting that it checks most of the boxes for a good date night movie.
It’s an epic story full of gods, monsters, war, and humanity. Yes, there’s a great romantic sub-plot mixed in with Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor, but that sub-plot works because everything around it works. They both navigate unfamiliar territory together, sharing both the journey and the drama. Along the way, they help one another. They learn from one another. They make each other stronger.
At its core is the sheer heart it conveys. It has always been Wonder Woman’s greatest strength and this movie does everything necessary to capture it. Any couple seeing this movie will find moments that will make them smile and fill them with the urge to cuddle. The epic battles that Wonder Woman leads, along with Gal Gadot’s wonderful performance, is a nice bonus as well.
Number 3: Dark Phoenix
As big an X-Men fan as I am, I’ll be the first to concede that the movies have been hit or miss over the years. Some have been great. Some have been nauseatingly awful. However, even the most acclaimed X-Men movies rarely have the attributes of a good date night movie. That changed with “Dark Phoenix.” Of all the X-Men movies not associated with Deadpool, this one has all the traits of quality date night movie.
It’s not just a superhero movie. It’s not just a re-telling of one of the X-Men’s most iconic stories in the Phoenix Saga. This is a movie built on high drama and powerful emotions. Much like the Phoenix Force itself, the strength of the story and the characters involved stem from emotions. There’s love, loss, anguish, and sacrifice. Tears are shed, anger is shared, and the pain is palpable.
These are all core aspects of what made the original story in the comics so endearing. They’re also the sentiments that make a great date movie. The story isn’t all world-ending spectacle. It’s personal and emotional. What happens to Jean Grey and her friends in “Dark Phoenix” is both dramatic and powerful. It evokes the kinds of feelings you want to share.
There are plenty of other elements in this movie that are worth praising. I covered many of them in the review I wrote for this movie. While I wouldn’t go so far as to call “Dark Phoenix” the best X-Men movie, I’m comfortable saying it’s the best X-Men movie to share with a date.
Number 2: Deadpool
This is one of those movies that caught a lot of people by surprise in the best possible way. Without a doubt, the first “Deadpool” wildly exceeded everyone’s expectations, from X-Men fans to romance fans to fans of anything associated with Ryan Reynolds. Between the box office it generated and the praise it earned, it’s easy to forget that this movie is built around a love story.
That’s not just the musings of a self-professed romantic. That’s exactly what the movie says through Ryan Reynolds’ uncanny charm. Even the marketing for this movie teased its romantic undertones and for good reason. As funny, crude, and violent as Deadpool was, the movie was still built around romance and it was built well.
The love between Wade Wilson and Vanessa was genuine, sexy, and sweet. A lot of Deadpool’s motivations and antics were a direct result of his love for Vanessa. It’s the kind of love story that will make you smile, laugh, and even gag a bit. For any couple looking for a little of everything in a date night movie, “Deadpool” delivers all that and then some.
It’s the kind of romance that’s genuinely fun. No matter how serious you are with your lover, it’s important to have a little fun and “Deadpool” never misses an opportunity to have fun. That kind of spirit can only help anyone’s date night.
Number 1: Guardians of the Galaxy 2
Finding the perfect date night movie isn’t easy. Finding one that has just the right amount of fun, entertainment, and dramatic impact can test any couple’s patience. Sometimes, a movie is too serious and ceases to be entertaining. Sometimes, a movie is too theatrical, so to speak, and the drama just feels flat. Striking that balance is very challenging, but “Guardians of the Galaxy 2” proves it’s not impossible.
Of all the superhero movies I’ve seen, few hit me with as many feels as this one and it did so without going too heavy on the romance. While there were plenty of romantic elements throughout the story, the greatest strength of this movie was how it gets you to care about these characters. The fact that they include a talking tree, a rocket with a machine gun, and a guy named Taserface is secondary.
This movie had plenty of colorful moments that were funny and quirky. Like its predecessor, it dared to have fun with the genre. However, the fun never got in the way of the drama or the characters. There were elements of family, including parents and sibling rivalries. There were secrets and revelations that hit you in all the right ways. Even when you re-watch the movie, it still has an impact.
It evokes a wide range of feelings, more so than a typical romance movie. The sheer breadth of those feelings is what makes “Guardians of the Galaxy 2” an experience worth sharing. If you’re with someone who appreciates those feelings, then this movie will do plenty to satisfy. It’s the kind of movie that you can still enjoy by yourself, but it’s best when shared with someone special.
As I noted earlier, this is just my personal list. If you think there are other quality date night superhero movies, please make your case in the comments. I’d love to hear them. Given the rich slate of superhero movies planned for the coming years, this list is sure to change.
New Comic Book Day May 12, 2021: My Pull List And Pick Of The Week
I don’t claim to know more than your typical comic book fan. Hell, I don’t claim to know more than any average person with an internet connection. I just know what I like, what makes me happy, and how I prefer to go about life. Reading new comics on Wednesday mornings is just one of those things I know will make every week feel complete and fulfilled.
It also helps that this is the time of year when many major publishers are gearing up for their big summer events. Around this time last year, evens like “X Of Swords” was just starting and, given the circumstances of last year, it really helped boost my spirits.
This year being less dire, the major summer comic events are back on schedule. Marvel and DC Comics have both teased and hinted at what’s to come over the next couple of months. Marvel has it’s big “Heroes Reborn” event that just started and DC Comics has it’s big Justice League: Last Ride event beginning this week.
Now, some fans see these summer events as gimmicks. In many cases, that’s exactly what they are. They’re the big budget blockbuster movies meant to cause a lot of noise and there’s nothing wrong with that. They’re still fun. They’re still enjoyable. Some may see them as a guilty pleasure, but I feel no guilt in enjoying these events, nor should you.
These are exciting times for the world of comics. As the real world nears the end of the pandemic that upended so many lives last year, now is as good a time as any to dive head-first into big, fun mindless spectacles. If you want, it can start to today. Here’s my pull list and pick to guide you. Enjoy!
My Pull List
Giant Size Amazing Spider-Man: King’s Ransom #1
Heroes Reborn: Peter Parker, The Amazing Shutterbug #1
Spider-Man: The Spider’s Shadow #2