There was once a time when activist-writers tried to hide their attempts to hijack comic books and turn them into little more than social-justice propaganda. Writer Mark Waid has changed all that. This week he took to Twitter and told the world that “every superhero you love” marches (or flies or teleports) under a SJW banner.
Check out my latest YouTube video on Mr. Waid’s opinion that comic book writers should look to anti-free speech ideologues for inspiration.
The Batman v Superman trailer is out, and one thing is obvious: Zack Synder is going with a level of realism that Marvel Studios has shown no desire to duplicate. Anyone who lived through the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks will not be able to see Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne engulfed in dust and debris without thinking of that day. If they decide to accept the director’s decision, then they can appreciate what the visual does for the story — while everyone else sprints away from the carnage, Bruce Wayne hurls himself head first into the chaos. That is the kind of bravery (bordering on psychosis) a man would need for him to seriously attempt to challenge Superman.
There are plenty of valid criticisms that could be made of Mr. Synder’s DC Universe, but it is hard to deny that his Superman exudes raw power. When he is on the screen, he demands respect. The argument that his costume is dated and cheesy just doesn’t fly (no pun intended), because if you can be led to believe that a character possesses the power to exterminate the entire human race, then you will respect him in almost any outfit.
The strength Superman wields is what will (understandably) cause Bruce Wayne to fear the alien and, at least for a portion of the film, seek to destroy him.
Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor telegraphs exactly what “Batman versus Superman” is about:
“Black and blue. God versus man. Day versus night.”
If a man had the power of a god — but he wasn’t God — wouldn’t he have to be destroyed? The same question would, of course, apply to a … Wonder Woman.
Marvel Studios has a track record of making great movies, but for the most part it has shied away from the level of realism embraced by Christopher Nolan’s Batman films and Zack Synder’s “Man of Steel.” Both kinds of movies can happily exist in the summertime blockbuster market, but Marvel’s problem is that there are only so many times the world can be demolished in a shared cinematic universe before the cotton candy-ish tone seems weird. Perhaps Marvel Studio’s “Civil War” will finally address that problem, but as of now DC has the pole position on superhero fare that makes an audience think about real-world issues.
If you plan on seeing “Batman v Superman,” then let me know what you think about the trailer or anything else related to the movie in the comments section below.
When it was announced the Ben Affleck would be the Dark Knight in 2015’s ‘Superman vs. Batman: Dawn of Justice,’ I said that if director Zack Snyder were smart, then he would tell his new hire to stick to movie-talk. I said Mr. Affleck lives in a Hollywood bubble, where everyone thinks along the same lines and tells each other how smart they are at cocktail parties, and that he generally has a hard time discussing politics without alienating fans (e.g., When he sees a Republican actor on screen he thinks, “I probably wouldn’t like this person…”). His near-meltdown on Bill Maher’s Real Time on Oct. 3 proves nicely that Mr. Affleck doesn’t know how to deal with smart people who disagree with him.
Consider this discussion between next summer’s Bruce Wayne, Bill Maher and author Sam Harris.
Sam Harris: Liberals have really failed on the topic of theocracy. They’ll criticize white theocracy. They’ll criticize Christians. They’ll still get agitated over the abortion clinic bombing that happened in 1984, but when you want to talk about the treatment of women and homosexuals and free thinkers and public intellectuals in the Muslim world, I would argue that liberals have failed us.
Ben Affleck: Thank God you’re here.
Sam Harris: The crucial point of confusion is that we have been sold this meme of Islamophobia, where every criticism of the doctrine of Islam gets conflated with bigotry towards Muslims as people, and that’s intellectually ridiculous.
Ben Affleck: Are you the person who understands the officially codified doctrine of Islam? You’re the interpreter of that?
Same Harris: I’m actually well-educated on this topic.
Ben Affleck: I’m asking you. So you’re saying that Islamophobia is not a real thing?
Sam Harris: I’m not denying that certain people are bigoted against Muslims as people.
Ben Affleck: “That’s big of you.”
Bill Maher: “Why are you so hostile about this concept?”
Ben Affleck:“Because it’s gross! It’s racist! It’s like saying ‘you shifty Jew.’”
Bill Maher: You’re not listening to what we are saying.”
For almost ten minutes, Ben Affleck responded to a serious discussion about Islam by giving angry little sniffs of his nostrils, fidgeting in his chair, making sarcastic little side-comments, interrupting, waving his hands around and slamming them down on the desk in front of him. He generally gave off body language that said, “I’m Batman! I should be beating these ‘racists’ up, but I can’t because I’m in my Bruce Wayne clothes on live television…”
In short, Ben Affleck was a petulant man-boy.
Faced with actual statistics about female genital mutilation in the Middle East and Africa, the percentages of Muslims who believe a man should be killed for leaving the religion, and troublesome data regarding opinions on free speech — in Western countries — Ben Affleck’s response was to call Bill Maher a “racist,” to say he “doesn’t understand idiots,” and that “we’ve killed more Muslims than they killed us by an awful lot,” (as if George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama all just have a thing for militarily engaging Muslim countries for no other reason than to kill Muslims). Ben Affleck says that the Islamic State group couldn’t fill a “AA ballpark in West Virgina,” while ignoring the fact that it only took 19 al Qaeda terrorists to bring down the World Trade Center Towers on Sept. 11, 2011. Shall I go on?
In less than 10 minutes, the man who will play Batman next summer makes it close to impossible for millions of moviegoers to see Zack Snyder’s film with an open mind. The so-called defender of Gotham is, in real life, a man who can’t even defend his own political position without looking like he might cry on national television. He had no problem mocking Catholicism in Dogma, but yet he and his buddy Kevin Smith would probably consider it “racist” to appear in a similar film titled “Fatwa.” Telling.
Is it possible to have too many explosions in a superhero movie? DC’s latest, ‘Justice League: War’ is 79 minutes long, and almost the entire run time is filled with things going “boom.” In theory that sounds great, but there are only so many hordes of Parademons a guy can watch get sliced in half, bashed and vaporized before one asks: “Is this all there is to it?”
For those who are unfamiliar with the tale, Batman, Cyborg, Flash, Green Lantern, Shazam, Superman and Wonder Woman find themselves together for the very first time, fighting the forces of Darkseid in a battle that will determine the fate of the earth (of course). The movie was adapted from the 2011 reboot by writer Geoff Johns and artist Jim Lee (although the animated movie replaces Aquaman with Shazam).
In short, ‘Justice League: War’ is great if you like endless strings of carnage and destruction, but less so if you expect at least a few scenes with emotional depth. Only Cyborg gets dealt a decent hand in the characterization department, and even that is rushed though as quickly as possible to get back to the front lines. While the final battle with Darkseid is impressive, the ease with which Superman, Wonder Woman and the rest dispose of Darkseid’s minions becomes tiresome after 30 minutes.
Perhaps the worst aspect of ‘Justice League: War’ is writing that directly undercuts the heroes’ complains that they’re irrationally feared by the general population. For instance, Wonder Woman acts somewhat incredulous that a group of angry protesters outside the White House are wary of super-powered beings, and then later in the movie she forces a street vendor to feed her and a child ice cream, free of charge, at sword point.
Could it be, Wonder Woman (i.e., writers at DC), that people “fear” you because of your “might makes right” mentality? Just wondering. It’s hard to root for a hero when her idea of “justice” is whatever she decides from moment to moment.
‘Justice League: War’ also is diminished by gratuitous use of foul language. What could have easily been an animated movie for adults and kids to enjoy was squandered by the random interjection of “shit,” “ass,” “whore” and a joke about cross-dressing that seemed to serve no other purpose than to push the rating to PG-13. Does anyone ever watch a DC movie packed with action and say, “I would have given it an ‘A’ but Green Lantern didn’t swear enough for my taste,”? Of course not. Watch some old episodes of ‘Batman: The Animated Series’ to see how top notch DC entertainment is done.
Speaking of Batman, ‘War’ actually does get an ‘A’ for its treatment of him this time around. True, I was disappointed that Kevin Conroy wasn’t voicing the Dark Knight, but Jason O’Mara did a decent job. DC nailed Batman’s interactions with Green Lantern — they were quite humorous — and there is a scene between Batman and Superman that captures the dynamic between the two of them almost flawlessly.
How many mortal men can hold up their hand to Supes like a traffic cop and get him to come to comply? Not many, but Batman is one of them. DC deserves kudos for writing the scene so it all transpires believably.
While ‘Justice League: War’ does tend to drag on at times due to the never-ending stream of Darkseid’s minions populating the earth, the final battle is rather satisfying. It truly takes the team to take down Darkseid, and each hero has their moment to shine. Nobody’s power is underutilized and nobody is treated as if they don’t belong. While all of them essentially know deep down that Superman is in a “league” of his own, they also treat each other as equals on the battlefield. In fact, it is a collection of inferiority complexes — not pride — that often threatens to derail victory. It is only when the warriors begin to feel comfortable in their own skin — and trust the hero next to them — that victory is sealed.
Check out ‘Justice League: War’ if you get a chance, but don’t go in expecting some of the weightier issues tackled by, say, ‘Batman: Under the Red Hood.’ If you do that, you probably won’t go away disappointed.
Where was Christopher Nolan supposed to go after the success of The Dark Knight? How could he have possibly topped the second installment of his Batman trilogy? There really weren’t many options, except to make a superhero movie that was more than a superhero movie — and for that Nolan apparently turned to Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities. The director went for something truly epic — he shot for the moon — and while we can debate whether or not he actually hit his target, it seems pretty obvious that he made it to the stars.
After the second trailer for The Dark Knight Rises came out on May Day, I hoped that years from now political junkies would hear Bane say, “When Gotham burns, you have my permission to die,” and immediately associate him with Keynesian economics and the totalitarian tendencies that spring forth from it. The movie didn’t disappoint, as Bane displays classical training in the rhetoric of leftist dictator-goons throughout history. And if Bane comes across as a Marxist revolutionary, then Selena Kyle is the useless idiot who buys into his snake oil.
Take note of Catwoman, as she displays jealousy, greed, envy and a sense of entitlement all in one minute conversation with Bruce.
Selena Kyle: You don’t get to judge me just because you were born in the master bedroom of Wayne Manor. … I started out doing what I had to. When you’ve done what you’ve had to they’ll never let you do what you want to.
Bruce Wayne: Start fresh.
Selena Kyle: There is no fresh start in today’s world. Any 12 year old with a cell phone can find out what you did. … Everything sticks.
Bruce: Is that how you justify stealing?
Selena Kyle: I take what I need from those who have more than enough. I don’t stand on the shoulders of people with less. … I think I do more to help someone than most of the people in this room — than you.
Bruce Wayne: Do you think maybe you’re assuming a little too much? …
Selena Kyle: You think all of this can last? There’s a storm coming, Mr. Wayne. You and your friends better batten down the hatches, because when it does you and your friends are going to wonder how you ever thought you could live so large and leave so little for the rest of us.
Ms. Kyle wants to live in a world where she doesn’t have to suffer the consequences of her actions. She made mistakes, and instead of owning up to them she doubles down on a path of deceit. It is only when Ms. Kyle moves in the ideological direction of Mr. Wayne that her fortunes begin to change. Revolutionaries like Bane only bring misery and terror, while men like Wayne offer order, true hope, redemption and selflessness.
Perhaps no better part sums up the difference between Bruce Wayne and his leftist adversaries than the rising climax. The cynical, class-warfare spewing Catwoman intellectually aligned with Bane throughout most of the movie, a man who sought to destroy an entire city to realize his goals. Bruce, on the other hand, proves that he is willing to sacrifice himself for an entire city.
Selena Kyle: Sorry to keep letting you down. Come with me. Save yourself. You don’t owe these people any more. You’ve given them everything.
Bruce: Not everything. Not yet.
Within minutes, Kyle knows that Bruce is the better man, and she falls for him. By the end of The Dark Knight Rises, the man she accused of “living so large” and leaving “so little for the rest of us” has proven himself her superior mentally, physically and spiritually, and she shows her epiphany in dramatic fashion.
As I said before, The Dark Knight trilogy will be, on many levels, the Bane of liberal moviegoers’ existence. No matter what Christopher Nolan does—no matter what he says from this day forward—he can never take back these films (thank God). It’s a gold mine of conservative values waiting to be explored. And, while Nolan’s personal politics might not be conservative, he at least gave the worldview a fair shake. In Hollywood, that’s all conservatism needs to starts winning hearts and minds. Besides, when The Village Voice hates a movie, I know I have something to work with.
If you haven’t seen The Dark Knight Rises yet, check it out while it’s in theaters. Love it or hate it, it’s a movie that’s going to be talked about for a long time.
The new trailer for The Dark Knight Rises is out. The response in certain quarters to the first trailer and initial reactions to this one seems to be a squeamishness about how good the movie might be. For some reason people are a bit put off by the dour mood, and I’m not sure if it’s because The Avengers has everyone on an escapist high or if it’s because the talk of conservatism in Nolan’s films has affected his liberal fans.
As I wrote before, it would be a huge victory for conservatives if years from now political junkies who hear Bane say, “When Gotham burns, you have my permission to die,” immediately link it with a Nolan dig at Keynesian economics and the totalitarian tendencies that spring forth from it.
Regardless, the new trailer offers more pure evil, but not quite the kind of terror we had in the second installment. If the Joker was a metaphor for Islamic terrorism, then Bane seems to be a throwback to a Communist-revolutionary standard bearer. Perhaps Che or Marx on steroids?
It’s also interesting that the new trailer would drop right as “International Workers’ Day (May Day) hits. Why would Christopher Nolan want us getting a fresh taste of Bane right when socialist nuts and “Occupy” types plan to hit the streets? Coincidence, or is the man just a genius?
Besides getting to see more evidence that Bane is what happens when terrorist-revolutionaries get hold of the kind of military hardware and explosives they desire, perhaps the most interesting takeaway is this:
Catwoman: You don’t owe these people any more. You’ve given them everything.
Batman: Not everything. Not yet.
You have only given everything after you have given your life. If Christopher Nolan wanted to really turn heads he would have Bruce go full-on Bushido, sacrificing himself in a blaze of glory to save the city he loves.
I think part of the reason an odd number of people are expressing doubt about The Dark Knight Rises is because Nolan’s realism hits too close to home. Terrorist bombs going off in football stadiums. Bridges blowing up as children look on. Methodical, calculating enemies saying things that make you think about your life outside the movie theater. Summer blockbusters are “supposed” to be pure popcorn to a lot of people, but Nolan aims for something more. His fare targets the ticket-buyer who just wants to see things go boom on the screen, but he also targets the person who has a few extra synapses firing in their brain. And that’s why his movies make big bucks.
If you have a chance to buy tickets early for The Dark Knight Rises, I highly suggest doing so. It’s going to be good.
Update: Check out Hotair’s coverage of The Dark Knight Rises trailer.