Wonder Woman: Patty Jenkins nails the directing, Gal Gadot nails the role

Last weekend I made the mistake of not reserving my movie tickets for Wonder Woman ahead of time and ended up having to decide whether I wanted to see a later showing or go home. I opted for an extra hour’s wait — and it was worth it.

Here is what I wrote **pseudo-spoilers ahead** for Conservative Book Club:

Director Patty Jenkins can make a strong case that she had one of the most pressure-packed Hollywood tasks in recent memory — making Wonder Woman a blockbuster for Warner Bros. She needed to please fans of a character with over 70 years of history while overcoming doubts about the direction of the DC Extended Universe and Gal Gadot’s acting.

Mission accomplished.

Wonder Woman, much like Joe Johnston’s Captain America: The First Avenger in 2011, was the kind of job where studio executives pull one off to the side and say, “Good luck, but don’t you dare screw this up.” Ms. Jenkins, like her creative peer, responded by churning out an upbeat film of solid craftsmanship across the board. Gadot’s Princess Diana just so happened to make her debut during World War I instead of World War II (both ideal backdrops for films pitting good against evil).

As is the case with most quality superhero origins, Wonder Woman takes its time establishing the character’s backstory before fists start flying and guns go blazing. This fish-out-of-water tale required the women of Themyscira to meet military men like Captain Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), and Ms. Jenkins wisely dictated slower pacing. The DC Universe is one where Greek mythology meets Judeo-Christian beliefs, but writer Allan Heinberg (story byJason Fuchs and Zack Snyder) made it work.

The plot is simple: The first World War literally breaks through a protective bubble put in place by Zeus to hide the Amazons from the god of war, Ares. Diana saves Captain Trevor when his plane crashes into the ocean, which serves as the impetus for her to leave utopia and save mankind. She believes that locating and defeating Ares on the field of battle will end all war. Steve humorously goes along for the ride as a means of getting home, although a romance between the two heroes eventually grows.

Perhaps what is most impressive about Wonder Woman — besides a memorable “No Man’s Land” scene and the iconic “lasso of truth” — is the way Diana’s improved understanding of love and free will allow her to fully realize her potential. The god of war eventually comes across as a Satan stand-in, and Wonder Woman adopts, for all intents and purposes, a Catholic definition of love (i.e., willing the good of the other as other).

Check out the rest of the review here.


‘Revolution Comics’ podcast: Talking comics, ‘Logan,’ and ‘Wonder Woman’

Your friendly neighborhood blogger will have an official Logan review up soon, but until that happens you may want to hear my general thoughts on another episode of “Revolution Comics” with Capn. Cummings and Captain Frugal. The three of us talk about the comics industry in general, our hopes for the Wonder Woman movie, and the anger of social justice activists over Ghost in the Shell casting.

As always, I look forward to hearing your thoughts in the comments section below.

‘Wonder Woman’ trailer reaction exposes intellectual bankruptcy of Paul Feig on ‘Ghostbusters’ critics

The new Wonder Woman trailer came out on Saturday and the reaction has been overwhelmingly enthusiastic. Facebook feeds, Twitter streams, and YouTube videos exploded with excitement at the product. What has missing over the last 24 hours is someone who points out the obvious: Paul Feig’s “slime Ghostbusters critics as sexist” strategy only demonstrated his intellectually bankruptcy.

There are not armies of men (at least in western nations) who have a problem with seeing strong women on film. That was a lie meant to divide people for Sony’s benefit.

The Wonder Woman trailer wraps a giant “lasso of truth” around Mr. Feig’s desperate attempt to save his shoddy product. You cannot get any more “girl power” than Wonder Woman, and every time a shameless Hollywood producer tries play the sexist card in the future they should be punched in the face with the collective fist of fan-approval for Wonder Woman.

‘Justice League’ trailer arrives: Fool me twice, shame on me…

The new Justice League trailer arrived today, and the good news is that it looks awesome. The bad news is that Batman v Superman looked just as amazing and then turned out to be a sloppy mess.

Zack Snyder is an strong visual artist, but at this point in his career it seems like his Achilles heel is a propensity to sign off on scripts that are half-baked.

Check out the trailer below, watch my YouTube video, and then let me know that you think about the fate of Justice League in the comments below. I really hope Warner Bros. took the fans’ criticism to heart, because overall they know what they’re talking about.

Exit question: Can any movie be bad if the trailer use’s “Icky Thump,” by the White Stripes? If Justice League doesn’t do Jack White proud then your friendly neighborhood blogger we be one angry blogger…

Frank Cho pushed off Wonder Woman by Greg Rucka’s ‘weird political agenda’

Wonder Woman #2

Anyone who has ever doubted that modern social-justice activists have a lot in common with the Puritans of the 1600s needs to look no further than the career trajectory of artist Frank Cho.

Comic book fans know all too well how Mr. Cho’s work makes feminist heads explode on a regular basis, but his sudden departure from Wonder Woman perfectly spotlights everything that is wrong with the industry.

Mr. Cho confirmed to Bleeding Cool on Thursday that writer Greg Rucka’s “weird political agenda” has forced him to cut short the 24 variant covers he originally planned for the book. There was allegedly friction between the two over the amount of skin shown on the artist’s variant (yes, variant) covers, but anyone who looks at them knows immediately that such a claim is absurd.

“I tried to play nice, not rock the boat and do my best on the covers, but Greg’s weird political agenda against me and my art has made that job impossible,” Mr. Cho told the website. “Wonder Woman was the ONLY reason I came over to DC Comics,” (emphasis added.)

Translation: Mr. Rucka, like all the other activist-writers in the industry, seeks to punish anyone who does not march lock-step with a thuggish ideology that hides behind the rhetoric of “tolerance.”

Check out the embedded video for the full story:

‘Batman v Superman’ trailer: Zack Snyder goes were Marvel Studios fears to tread

Batman v Superman 911The 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.

Batman v Superman flyThere 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.

Batman v Superman desertThe 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.

Batman v Superman Wonder WomanMarvel 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.

‘Justice League: War’: DC delivers action that may leave some viewers with battle fatigue

Superman Justice League

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.

Wonder Woman Justice League War

‘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.

Batman Justice League War

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.

Superman Batman Justice League

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.

Wonder Woman Justice League War Darkseid

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.

Related: Superman vs. The Elite explores the big dilemma: Christ or Patton? To kill or not to kill?

DC’s ‘prominent gay’ superhero comes out of the phone booth soon

DC has announced that one of its prominent superheroes will come out of the closet soon. I predict they will go with Power Girl or Wonder Woman because they are two of the safest choices the company can make.

It wasn’t long ago that Grant Morrison announced that Batman was gay. At the time I said that my assumption was that he really just wanted to get the editorial ball rolling in that direction, and perhaps he did. Although, according to DC, President Obama helped them “evolve” on the issue:

Honchos at Superman’s comic book home, DC Comics, said this weekend that one of their most identifiable (but as of yet unnamed) straight characters will soon be coming out of the closet, according to a report.

At the Kapow Comic Convention held last weekend in London, DC co-publisher Dan DiDio said the publisher would be reintroducing a previously existing character who would now be “one of our most prominent gay characters,” the website BleedingCool.com reports.

Didio said DC’s position had shifted on the subject since he said in an interview last year that any homosexual characters would be new introductions, and that none of their existing characters’ sexual orientations would shift.

DC vice president Bob Wayne likened DC’s change in tune to President Obama’s shift on gay marriage, explaining that DC’s policy “has evolved,” the report says.

DC’s original plan — to introduce new gay characters instead of switching the sexuality of existing characters — was the appropriate step. As I said before, when editors go out of their way to shove the Progressive worldview down their readers’ throat it backfires. If DC decides to take a character with a history that includes heterosexual relationships and says, “Just so you know, The Flash, Barry Allen … yeah, he’s gay now,” it’s jarring. People don’t like when the integrity of a character or his continuity is messed with. If they freak out over superpower alterations, you can bet they’d freak out if Dan DiDio said, “Superman always had a thing for Jimmy Olsen. We’ll be exploring that relationship this summer.”

My guess is that if DC is going to make one of their heavy hitters attracted to the same sex it will make Wonder Woman a lesbian. The company will want all the attention that comes with its “evolution,” but they won’t want to annoy the guys who still buy the comics. She’s a character whose had her past messed with multiple times, so it’s not as if they can’t change it back. She also came from a land of Amazon women … so it would be hard to argue with an editor who took the next logical step in regards to romance for that world.

However, my Wonder Woman prediction is mostly based on one simple opinion: It’s perhaps the most cowardly choice DC can make for such a “brave” evolution. DC’s editors don’t care about religious objections to their decision — they care about sales. They will make the most money on big-busted, scantily clad women making out in the pages of their comic. Need a quick cash cow? Do a cover with Woman Woman making out with another lady. They will even make variant covers (I guarantee it). The number of complaints DC will receive from a guy-guy decision will be much higher than if they go with girl-girl. I’m not saying that it’s right — I’m just acknowledging reality. And again, this all depends on DC not pulling a fast one (no Flash-pun intended) and naming a lower-tier character as its gay superhero.

Only choosing Power Girl might be more cowardly. She’s a woman who is a prominent character, but not really on the level of Wonder Woman. She falls in that grey area in between, because all comic fans know who she is but yet the average person on the street would not.

So there you have it: Wonder Woman or Power Girl. Those are my predictions. When the actual decision is made I’ll be blogging on it. See you then.

Superman: Earth One. Listless Liberal Hipster, or Worth a Read?

If it turns out DC created listless hipster Superman, whose 'S' really stands for "So What?" I'll be upset. But J. Michael Straczynski has an impressive track record. I'll wait for the first conservative review from someone who (shocker!) actually read the entirety of Superman: Earth One.

From what I’ve read so far, it seems like conservatives are not reacting too well to DC’s Superman: Earth One. This is somewhat expected, given reports like this:

The creators also portray the new Superman as politically correct — refusing to become “an instrument of politics or policy” of the United States, saying things like: “I was raised in this country. I believe in this country. Does it have its flaws? Yes. Does it have its moments of greatness? Yes. Bottom line is, it’s my home and I’ll always carry those values around with me. But if I do what I can do just for the U.S., it’s going to destabilize the whole world. It could even lead to war.”

In and of itself there actually isn’t too much wrong with this statement. In a vacuum it’s actually rather innocuous. It’s healthy to be skeptical of one’s government. However, a Superman imbued with a liberal worldview would mean those very same comments are much more loaded than they appear. When conservatives see The Huffington Post giving rave reviews, it’s understandable that their antennae would be on moral-relativist alert. And after what’s gone on with Wonder World-Consensus Woman or Captain “The Tea Party is the New Red Skull” America over the past year or so, I can’t begrudge conservative comics fans for being on the defensive.

DC’s Dan DiDio wants to reach out to a younger audience, and that’s understandable.  Marvel basically did just that with its Ultimates line (which I also don’t read).  One theory on how to get new readers is by wiping the slate clean so the clutter that comes with decades of continuity doesn’t need to dealt with by first time readers.  Understandable.  Another way is by regularly writing really good stories with really good artwork —that actually come out on time—but for all intents and purposes DC is behaving rationally.  If they want to write “Superman for Twilight fans,” as DiDio put it, then fine. I won’t buy it, but God bless them if the market rewards them for the decision.

My biggest problem is having a culture where our heroes are just as confused as the people who are supposed to look up to them. People aren’t perfect, but they can achieve great things if they have an ideal to live up to.  If you expect excellence from someone they’re going to sometimes disappoint you, but they’re also going surprise themselves with just how much they’re capable of achieving—and experiencing a little strength and success has habit of becoming addictive to those who experience it.  It would be more comforting to know that the stable of heroes helping to shape the minds of young people  has a few men and women who could instill strong values and encourage them to dream big.  A listless hipster Superman who attends Jon Stewart rallies, and whose ‘S’ basically stands for “Sub-parman” or “So What?”, doesn’t do that.

In this case I’ll reserve judgment. Anyone who is familiar with J. Michael Straczynski’s work knows that he’s a pretty creative guy.  I’ll be looking forward to reading the first conservative review by someone who’s actually completed Superman: Earth One, instead of reactions to press statements, or excerpts from the book.

Wonder Woman’s Duds Aren’t the Problem: “World Community Woman” Is.

If you’ve read this blog before you know I’m a comic nerd.  And you know that I’m a fan of exposing the industry’s liberal bent, usually as it pertains to Marvel Comics. I’m also inclined to point out why certain characters embody the best of America, despite liberal writers’ uncanny ( X-Men-ish?) ability to ignore such traits.

So, although I’m not a “DC” type of guy, I feel as though the Wonder Woman costume hubbub needs to be addressed:

“The American-ness of her costume really dates from World War II, and it feels like it’s part of her roots, even if she is supposed to have come from an island full of Amazons,” Anders told FOX411.com. “I think making her look more ‘globalized’ isn’t necessarily a bad idea, but you have to be careful not to sacrifice what makes her distinctive and thrilling in the process,”…

“This new sleek and fashionable Wonder Woman will translate well to a film franchise centered on a female action hero. That wouldn’t have worked as well with the bright and flashy red, white and blue costume, and it definitely wouldn’t have played in the very lucrative international markets,” said the artist, who wished not to be named because of ties to DC. “

I think the question that needs to be asked is this: As comic books become more popular and are distributed around the globe, how will editorial decisions be affected by concerns of “international” readers?

I’ve talked about this before, but how many Captain America comics are in

Lasso of Truth around a jihadi nut? Naaaah. But Lynda Carter wants one around Bush. What a surprise.

existence of Black Ops in Afghanistan? During World War II Cap was punching Hitler’s lights out. Today? He’s scared of the Tea Party movement. Part of this has to do with the industry’s artists and writers liberal dominance, but over the past few years I think many editorial missteps are due to a desire not to offend the sensibilities of a more “globalized” readership.

One would think that in the wake of the September 11th attacks that Captain America could find some jihadi heads to crack overseas, possibly saving some American servicemen or innocent civilians in the process…but I guess not.

In the case of Wonder Woman’s new duds, I’m willing to cut DC some slack simply because Jim Lee was involved. Wonder Woman’s potential, for whatever reason, has never been realized, and a costume shake-up now and again is an easy way to generate interest (at least in the short term).  Spider-Man sometimes dons his black costume—which happens to be very cool—but he always goes back to the classic red and blue. I’m more interested in the quality of the stories than Wonder Woman’s outward appearance…but then again, I am a writer. When the Justice League of America starts wondering if they should get the United Nations’ approval before acting to stop pure evil that threatens the world I’ll be concerned. Oh, wait, that sort of thing already happened…

Finally, the thing that’s most misleading about the Wonder Woman costume story isn’t in the analysis of the character or her history, but the lack of context for Lynda Carter’s attitude toward the controversy in the first place:

Lynda Carter, the actress who portrayed Wonder Woman on TV in the 1970s, declined to answer Fox 411.com’s question about the removal of the American flag from the Wonder Woman costume. In a previous interview, Carter said she thinks Wonder Woman would want all the upset fans to just “get over it.”

“She’s got an attitude, and if this is the new thing she wants to wear, well by God she’s going to wear it,” Carter said. “And I like that. And I hope somewhere in the story someone mentions, where’s the old one? And she says, ‘Get over it.’”

What isn’t noted is that Lynda Carter is a liberal.

Lynda Carter says she’s never used the Wonder Woman Lasso of Truth on her two children, now teens. “I don’t think it would work on them.” But, referring to President Bush, the talkative actress adds, “I’ve often thought how nice it would be during this administration if it worked,” (Heller, Billy. Kicking Heroine: 70’s Star Turns to Cabaret. New York Post.)

We all know how liberals feel about proudly displaying the flag. The ignoramuses (myself included) unabashedly displaying the Stars and Stripes on any old day of the week are a hinderance to the “international community” the Beltway intelligencia believes we should defer to as we chart out our nation’s future. (Because, who doesn’t want dysfunctional nation states essentially run by warlords on equal footing with the United States?)

Of course Lynda Carter doesn’t care about the muted-flag aspect of Wonder Woman’s new costume. Just as there are a lot of liberals who wish Captain America would simply don a smurf blue helmet and call himself Captain Appeasement, there are a lot of liberals who wish Wonder Woman was Moral Relativist Woman, substituting the Lasso of Truth for the Lasso of Whatever.

In the end, I predict the new costume will disappear. Liberal stories, however, aren’t going anywhere…unless more people take notice.

PS: Great PR move, DC, at having this story hit right before the Fourth of July weekend.

Lynda wishes you would "get over it" when it comes to symbols of American strength and character. I couldn't get hold of her because she was counting the royalty checks her old (flag inspired) costume made possible.