EDITORIAL: And There Came A Day..
This is an extensive editorial about what came before The Avengers, what Warner Bros./DC needs to do, and critique about a potential Justice League movie.
“And there came a day, a day unlike any other, when Earth's mightiest heroes and heroines found themselves united against a common threat. On that day, the Avengers were born—to fight the foes no single super hero could withstand! Through the years, their roster has prospered, changing many times, but their glory has never been denied! Heed the call, then—for now, the Avengers Assemble!” – The infamous Avengers prologue from the 1970’s.
It’s been a while since I last made an article on this site. About one year I believe, and during that year a lot has changed and more is about to change from now on. After Marvel Studios release their epic superhero ensemble The Avengers. And with its world wide release on May 4th, I am one of the lucky ones being able to see it already tonight. So in honor of this immense chapter in comicbookmovie history I wanted to make an editorial about Marvel Studios and it's rival DC. I want to share my feelings on the former Marvel movies, what WB/DC needs to do and their faults. And hopefully find out what you, the true fans, think as well.
Now, what Marvel has done is completely unprecedented in the industry, to cite Joss Whedon. What Marvel Studios have done has not been done before and it’s a giant leap for the movie industry and comicbook industry as a whole. And it all began with two movies back in 2008.
It was the same year that The Dark Knight reigned supreme, though it was definitely Batman’s year, it would also introduce a rebooted Hulk and the origin story of Iron-Man.
Two years later the sequel of Iron-Man came out with mixed reviews, and though it was not as exciting as the first, Iron-Man 2 certainly made our appetite grow in terms of a shared universe within the movies. Then Thor and Captain America arrived in 2011 and then there was absolutely no doubt about where this was going. And even for being a somewhat DC fanatic, I rejoiced though I was skeptical about how they would work, I was intrigued and excited!
The best Marvel movie to date is Iron-Man but in my favorite is Thor. Natalie Portman was cute and weird in a very good way. How Hemsworth portrayed the role convinced me within minutes. Hopkins as always is great, but perhaps the greatest role in the movie was Tom Hiddleston’s Loki; mad, saddening and intriguing. The effects were great, and Åsgard shined like a beacon among the stars. But it had faults like the artificial battle with the Destroyer, when he received Mjølnir was corny; lying down just raising his arm, and especially how Jane Foster worded “Oh! My! God!” afterwards. But the charm was undeniably there, more so than Tony Starks first adventure.
I was perhaps most skeptical to Thor as this is a character I know very well from fairy tales and school. To my surprise I really enjoyed Thor Odinson’s adventure among the stars. I still think he should’ve had a Scandinavian accent. Why do English talking actors who portray Russians also speak English with a Russian accent? Whatever you might feel on that certain subject, Thor successfully introduced another aspect to Marvel Cinematic Universe and accomplished everything it set out to do by showing us that earth is not alone in this magnificent universe.
Captain America: The First Avenger was a pivotal film. It established arguably the most patriotic superhero of all time, and after its turn at the box office was done, it would also demonstrate Steve Rogers to be one of the most acceptable heroes.
I believe it was on Hero Complex that I had the pleasure of asking director Joe Johnston about Captain America’s relevance today and how he would work as several non-americans believe him to be a jingoistic character. I was worried about the, excuse the phrasing: “America! Fuck yeah!” theme but Johnston assured:
“He is not meant to be a figure of propaganda. His spirit and who he is as a man is universal and crossed all borders and nationalities. In other words, he's not UNIQUELY American...more about his spirit.”
While Steve Rogers is a character born in the United States, he is a hero for all of us.
In the aftermath there is no hesitation to say that Joe Johnston succeeded. However the film was not without its faults. Red Skull was too generic, not real adversary, it became more of a World War 2 picture in the second half of the movie and the pace subsided. But for being the piece that truly connected them all as a precursor to the Avengers, it certainly did its job, and it did it well.
The Avengers is certainly one of the most anticipated comicbookmovies of all time. Will the movie perhaps influence its main competitors to join the game?
I read on Wednesday an article by Josh Wilding on Comicbookmovie regarding Stan Lee’s input on the matter. Regarding the legends feeling on seeing the characters assemble on the big screen, Mr. Lee said:
"I never imagined I’d see any of my characters become movies. But this was a logical thing to do.
It was smart. I’m amazed that DC didn’t beat us to it with the Justice League. But you’ve got to hand it to Marvel."
This brought up, of course, a lot of passionate comments. And I would like to voice my opinion on the matter.
I think it’s a shame that Warner Bros. and DC have not been able to produce the same results as Marvel Studios. Both Superman and
Batman have gotten their respective movies. From Richard Donner’s epic Superman to Tim Burton’s Batman; they were pioneers in the superhero film franchise. Batman experienced some tough years during the 90’s on screen, and there has not been a decent Superman movie since Superman 2. Finally in the 00’s Batman was rescued and redeemed by Christopher Nolan, and now Superman is returning to his truly deserved glory through the mind of Zack Snyder. Though I am extremely happy to see both Wayne and Kent, I can’t help but wonder why it is that this duo of legends always keep reappearing, and why they don’t simply make Wonder Woman and Flash as well.
It is hard to not recognize Superman and Batman for what they are. They are arguably the most iconic and well known superheroes of all time. I can also understand from a brand related point of view that both are great money makers. It is after all pretty hard to not come across anyone who hasn’t heard of the dark knight or man of steel. Also, I think that the risk that goes into these two characters are certainly less than trying to establish some new characters that don’t have the same amount of worldwide recognition. And as the most of us, I am pretty cross with this arrangement.
Justice League could easily become a one of the greats and revolutionary films like their Marvel counterpart, but when?
Last year it was 33 years ago that the great and late Christopher Reeve made us all believe a man could fly. And we finally got a third member of DC's great five on the big screen: we got Green Lantern. Unfortunately it was not the film it was supposed to be. And even worse than that: it took entire 22 years before we got a different character from the cornerstone of DC Comics on screen. Why couldn’t they get Hal Jordan out sooner? What the hell is going on?
An incredible feat is that Marvel Studios has now introduced three new characters to the big screen, and in less than 4 years. These three characters are the arguably the best of the best has to offer, their holy trinity. And what Marvel Studios has done in 4 years, WB/DC has not been able to do in 33 years! It’s completely ridiculous to think that they have not released a Wonder Woman film in all this time! An overcurious fact is that Wonder Woman should’ve probably been out before a Green Lantern film but for now it seems Superman and Batman are the only characters thatWB/DC has been able to introduce successfully to the public.
Warner Bros. should've started doing what Marvel is doing years ago. Joss Whedon is directing the epic picture but who could direct the heroes of Justice League? And do the Marvelites want a DC teamup movie?
On a recent question regarding what advice Joss Whedon would give Warner Brothers on a possible Justice League film, Whedon answered:
“Call me. No, seriously, it's enormously difficult to take very disparate characters and make them work. And DC has a harder time of it than Marvel because their characters are from a bygone era where characters were bigger than we were. Marvel really cracked the code in terms of them being just like us. I think you need to use that as your base.”
I disagree with his choice of wording “disparate characters”. What makes Avengers so great is that they are different. Avengers have a playboy rock’n’roll philanthropist, a gamma radiation professor that turns into a behemoth when angered, a conservative super soldier frozen in time, and finally a god of thunder from space. These characters could not be further apart, yet they work great on the screen as reviews have shown. Are not these characters just as disparate as a DC’s great five?
Whedon has labelled the Avengers team as outcasts in interviews, and said they are not friends to begin with. Why should this be a greater problem for DC’s equivalent? I also disagree with the premise that DC’s characters are from a bygone era where the individuals were bigger than we were. Steve Rogers are definitely from the bygone era by the same token but he is still relevant.
Sure, Justice League has some characters which truly are bigger than life; the speedster, the space knight, the amazon, the dark knight and the brightly clad alien guardian. Three of them are from the Golden Age of comics. However Hal Jordan and Barry Allen come from the Silver Age and are somewhat more modern than their contemporaries.
Superman is finally getting a reboot and introduced more modern. Batman has always been cool because he is, after all, human who embodies the darker side of righteousness.
Green Lantern was commercially and critically a failure but anyone who has read Hal Jordan’s adventure know him to not be a perfect man at all, he has perhaps most faults of the five. Barry Allen is fast but he is never fast enough, and that takes its toll on his conscience and search for justice. Diana is more in the category of Superman but if Superman can be made relevant again, and Thor can be a success, then why not the warrior/ambassador from Themyscira?
Audience wants conflict, human emotions, a grand story, interesting characters and effects and most importantly a great story to experience. And we comicbook-fans know that DC has that and more.
Marvel and DC have different characters, and that’s why they are Marvel and DC. What works for Marvel won’t necessarily work for DC but it’s hard not to see some form of possibility of it translating as well on the big screen. DC(WB) needs to be bold as Marvel has been, more daring and invest more in this. We are well aware that it's all about the money. Iron-Man, Spider-Man, Batman and Superman are gigantic rainmakers, and there are more characters that has the potential to be a sound investment on-screen, if only done right.
Green Lantern could’ve been DC’s Iron-Man but the writers did not have clue what they were doing. They should’ve followed the storyline closer to Emerald Dawn or Secret Origin, not featuring Parallax and making Sinestro(the brightest light in the film was Mark Strong) turn bad for no apparent reason. They should’ve let true fans of the saga write, let DC choose true writers to make this wonderful universe come to life. Thor showed us that you can be bold and as long you including some humour, some lovable characters, it will most likely work. Producers and writers must not be afraid of showing the audience the real mythology, because more often than less the audience will enjoy it since over 50 years of stories has defined a magical legacy with amazing stories. And as long you stay true to the material, with some slightly changes, people will like it.
Sidenote: Green Lantern disappointed me to no end as you might understand. However, WB/DC might learn from this mistake.
Reboot it and then finally give Hal Jordan the much now deserved redemption he needs.
It truly took a great director to save Batman , and nobody denies that Batman has been redeemed from the horrible Schumacher. Christopher Nolan was the director we deserved and needed (yeah yeah!).
Zack Snyder, director of The Watchmen and 300 is now handling the last son of krypton’s newest adventure onscreen. I have great hopes for Superman's newest film, as I am sure many will join me in saying.
What WB/DC needs is a director in the likes of Christopher Nolan. Something of a visionary like Joss Whedon to bring forth these iconic characters to life. Maybe Peter Jackson, or even Christopher Nolan himself could do this. What is certain is that if someone can bring the Avengers to life then there must be someone out there who can do the same for JLA.
After The Dark Knight Rises, Avengers and Amazing Spider-Man has done its part, it will be interesting to see what WB/DC does. Avengers are an experiment bound for success. And hopefully it will ignite a revolution at WB/DC. And just maybe Man of Steel will include some easter eggs, maybe a potential new Batman will, as it is after all certain that WB/DC keeps on releasing those two.
Whatever our feelings, if we are a Marvelite or DCist, we all can agree with Stan Lee; we gotta hand it to Marvel for this incredible chapter in comicbookmovie history, for this is truly the greatest ensemble of superheroes the world has ever seen on the silver screen.
Now I am off to the premiere in Oslo!
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