I Beg to Differ #MCU #DCEU

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Going forward, Sundays are lazy days for me. I either post something silly or other people’s work. Usually both. Today, I introduce you to a superhero that could be the best yet.

May be an image of text that says 'World's worst superhero 男厕所 TOILETMAN'

Let the bidding war begin, Marvel and DC!!!

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Nerd Limericks #StarTrek #MCU #StarWars #DCEU

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Sundays are now lazy days for me. Going forward, I’m just going to re-post other people’s work or just do something silly. Today it’s my own work, but it’s work I’ve already done. I went a little nuts today, creating my own, ridiculous spin on a Facebook post. I posted a handful of nerdy limericks, referencing Star Trek, Star Wars, the MCU, the DCEU, and Lord of the Rings. Each one has a Twitter hashtag of #NerdLimericks, so you can just click here to see them all. If I, or anyone else, adds more, they show up using that same link. The complete URL is: https://twitter.com/hashtag/NerdLimerick?src=hashtag_click.

Just for good measure, here are direct links to just a few of them. Retweet them all and share your own!

A la ….
I love this movie.

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Shazam!, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Star Trek: Lower Decks @StarTrek @MarvelStudios #StarTrek #MCU #DCEU #LowerDecks

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Two Facebook interactions led me to this train of thought. First, I noted that I haven’t watched any MCU films in months (nor have I watched any DCEU ones in the same period). Second, I noted that Star Trek: Lower Decks really grew on me after four episodes. This got me thinking about how important that show is to the Star Trek universe, and how similar its role is to Shazam! and Guardians of the Galaxy in their respective universes.

In the prior post comparing Shazam! and Guardians of the Galaxy, I talked about the thematic similarities and their impact on the big picture to their universes. I’ll draw the same comparisons to Lower Decks in kind. But first, ….

Mea Culpa

I can never say this enough, though I never focused on this within this blog. I’m too old to be considered the target market for the MCU, but I look a lot like it. The base are the comic book nerds, some of whom are syncophants that will love anything “comic book” put before them (“Thank heavens I’m seeing my childhood get its due on the big screen!”), and others who will always hate anything “comic book” put before them (“You’re ruining my childhood!”). Even if you got all of them on board, that’s not “the masses.” Any property needs to grab a related crowd: People who didn’t grow up obsessed with the material but are nonetheless the type of people inclined to give it a shot. Win them, and you make billions of dollars. That’s one big reason why movies must deviate from their comic roots, always leading to haters. (The other big reason is that movies and comics are different media.)

Because of my age, I’m not quite in the target demographic, but I look a hell of a lot like it. I’m not going to use my disposable income to buy toys, shirts, caps, etc., but in terms of how I think, I’m a lot like that group. I was never really into comics, but because my cousin was a collector, I was familiar with them. Plus, I’m a nerd, so I’m inclined to like these movies. Win me over, and you have an indicator that you’re probably winning over that target audience.

So, when Guardians of the Galaxy was announced, I thought my reluctance wasn’t a good sign. I thought the MCU had finally lost its magic. Despite a decent knowledge of the Marvel characters, I’d never heard of the Guardians. It was too obscure of a property. When I learned more about them, I thought it was stupid and cinematic suicide to put a talking racoon and talking tree front and center. There were far better characters to have used, most of which could be taken seriously. In fairness, I wasn’t alone.

But yeah, I’m a dipshit.

I could focus on just how well acted, directed, and written the movies were, and how their particular themes appealed specifically to my personal psyche, making them my favorite MCU films behind Winter Soldier, but that would be missing the point. Even if the movies were mediocre, they still served an important role in the MCU as a whole. While all the MCU films were a mix of comedy and action, they gave far less importance to comedy. Guardians changed that. It gave us a break, and its influence on future films provided a comedic anchor despite the heavy-handed stakes of the Infinity War saga.

So, mea culpa. Thankfully, I didn’t make such prejudgments about Shazam!

Much Needed Lightheartedness

Every movie in the MCU and DCEU has comedy in it, but clearly the movies are about action first and comedy second. However, the mix between the two changes from movie to movie. As I discussed above, Marvel knew exactly when to make a shift with Guardians. DC may have waited too long, but eventually they got there. Star Trek has done it right with Lower Decks. It took several episodes for me to warm to it, but I absolutely did.

While I love Discovery and Picard, they’re very heavy-handed, and it turned off a lot of people. In fact, Strange New Worlds is a promise to bring back Star Trek‘s hopeful tone to bring those critics back into the fold, but until it’s ready for release, Lower Decks is swooping in to lighten the tone. Unfortunately, as quickly as it arrived — it’s only the third new Star Trek series — it hasn’t been fast enough for some. I don’t think it’s caught on as much as it deserves, but without meaning to criticize the others two series, it’s exactly what Star Trek needs right now. Lower Decks is not to be taken seriously. It’s a goofy show, providing what Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home did for the Original Series crew movies, and what Guardians and Shazam! did for their respective universes, but to a more extreme level. Right now, Star Trek needs that silly humor, and after that, they’ll need to bounce back to a show that takes things seriously but focuses on positivity. I’m glad I won’t need to offer another mea culpa. I can’t wait for Strange New Worlds to arrive.

When you consider how much time was spent on each topic in this post, I really should have title it, “Mea Culpa.”

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Why Henry Cavill Is the Best Superman #movie #DCEU

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Sundays are now lazy days for me. Going forward, I’m just going to re-post other people’s work or just do something silly. Today, I’m going to answer a controversial question among nerds: Who is the best Superman?

Answer: Henry Cavill.

Why? Because I said so.

FYI, I saw this a couple days after writing this post.

Fighting the Justice League was also my #1.

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Superhero Comlinks #movie #MCU #DCEU

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Another thing that always bugged me about superhero movies (yes, I can pick at the things I love) are the comlinks that the heroes use to communicate. It’s some sort of Bluetooth thing going on; a earpiece with a built in microphone. I always thought, “Why aren’t they constantly talking over one another?”

It just seemed impractical. Of course, we all just let it go; there are far bigger things requiring the suspension of our disbelief. However, I recently started playing D&D again on Wednesday nights via Zoom, and that has brought this thought back to the surface. Even when there are only 5 of us, the cross-chatter makes it impossible for everyone to be heard. It drives me nuts. I’d think there was a lot more planning involved in the defense of New York City from an alien army then there is in deciding how to navigate a bar fight. And don’t tell me about military discipline. The Hulk, Tony Stark, and Thor don’t care about your silly, human, military procedures for communication.

There’s no way this would work, but that’s okay.

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Comic Book Movies: Same IP; Different Media #movie #MCU #DCEU

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I ran into this meme on Facebook, and it triggered a long-held thought that I suspect is still relevant today.

Constantine
Constantine (if you know the source of this meme, please let me know so I can give proper credit)

This refers to the movie Constantine, which I love. Its Rotten Tomatoes scores are typical of the divide between film credits and the audience. The last panel in the meme is what grabbed me. It references the fact that comics and movies are different media, and so they should play out differently. That appears to be something many (not necessarily most) comic book fans can’t grasp. Even when they accept, for example, the death of Thanos, they immediately start spreading theories as to how he could return in future movies. That attitude is still prevalent, and as much as I loved Thanos, I don’t get why.

This issue goes back a long way for me. I remember my cousin, and avid comic book collector, not liking that the Joker died in Michael Keaton’s first Batman movie (1989). In part, he saw it as a waste of a character that could be put to good use later. (His views may have changed, but others still make this argument.) The thing is, the Joker is not a character that they should have used again, precisely because it’s a movie.

It’s necessary for villains to survive in the comics. There are only so many ideas for villains, and with comic story lines having to last decades, killing off villains would create a shortage of adversaries for your stories. The only way to fix that would be to have another person take up that villain’s mantle. Sometimes that works, but doing that too often would leave the reader with the notion that they’re effectively dealing with the same character, so the writers are (cheaply) trying to have it both ways. Hence, you instead put them in prison or Arkham Asylum, they escape, and then you start the cycle again.

Movies are different. Most audience members require definitive closure, with death providing the most dramatic end to a story. Because the MCU‘s “blistering” pace still produces only three movies per year, there are actually far too many interesting villains that will go unused if you’re going to reuse the ones you’ve already shown. By the time you genuinely need to reuse a villain (if ever), you’re probably rebooting the cinematic universe for a different generation of viewers anyway. Ergo, for movies, you can have the closure your audience craves without painting yourself into a corner. If that pisses off a small percentage of your core fans that are still going to watch your movies anyway, you have an acceptable outcome.

Go ahead. Kill the Joker.

EDIT: See my comment below.

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Ability Is Great, but Confidence Is Key #DCEU #MCU

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It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog.
— Mark Twain

Yesterday, I wrote about my re-watch of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. As soon as I finished, I re-watched Justice League because of course I did. My favorite scene from Justice League was the fight between Superman and the others, and within that scene, I loved where the Flash entered the speed force (his element), Superman was ready for it, Superman cast off the other members with ease, and then beat up the Flash before the other three even hit the ground. Once and for all, it established Superman as a badass. A badass with the exploitable weakness of his concern for others, but nevertheless a badass.

What struck me about that scene within the scene is that Superman won on Flash’s home turf. He shouldn’t have, but yet he did. Superman won because he was confident, and the Flash was an insecure kid who had never been in a fight before he teamed up with Batman, et al. (which didn’t go so well for him). This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a superhero movie address this theme.

Also, within Justice League, Victor Stone had to take control back from the machine that infected him, and he couldn’t do that while it still intimidated him. There are quite a few examples. On the flip side, Arthur Curry was far too arrogant when he agreed to face his half-brother, King Orm, in the Combat of the Kings (Aquaman). Arrogance can be just as damaging as meekness. You need to strike a balance between the two to realize your full potential, but the point is that attitude certainly matters and always will.

I hope Flash won the race from the mid-credit scene, but he probably spent too much time looking at Superman to see who was currently winning, which always slows you down. Meekness. 😦

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Long Movie: Batman v. Superman Ultimate Edition #movie #Superman #Batman #DCEU

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I liked Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, but because it currently has a 62% audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes, I can’t say it’s a Guilty Pleasure. I do hear a lot of hate from my social media connections, though, and many of them have told me that they actually liked the Ultimate Edition because of the additional information it provides. (One suggested that the same thing could be said about the Watchman Extended Cut.) I agree that the additional scenes improve BvS, but that raised a question for me: Why not keep them in the cinematic release?

The Ultimate Edition is 3 hours and 3 minutes long (including credits). I’ve seen 3-hour movies in the theater, so if the scenes are already filmed and modified in post production (i.e., paid for), why waste them? Give people their money’s worth, improve the movie, and your reviews will be better. I can think of three responses to my question.

Response 1: You want some deleted scenes to make the home release more enticing.
Counterpoint: If people don’t like your movie, nothing will entice them to buy your home releases.

Response 2: I’m operating from hindsight. There was no way to know that the deleted scenes would have improved the movie.
Counterpoint: Does anyone really think that the test audiences didn’t like the deleted scenes? They made the movie much better. Aren’t filmmakers professionals? Why can’t they figure out how to use test audiences to get the right result, especially for movies with such huge budgets?

Response 3: Three hour (or more) movies are too long.
Counterpoint: Bring back the intermission so that people with short attention spans and weak bladders can handle it. Oh, snap!

Who’s got a response #4? I’ll defeat that one too.

I can’t believe they cut Jon Stewart. At this point, I suspect that cutting scenes is simply a strange sort of tradition among filmmakers. 

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Travelling Through the #DCEU, Part IV @ZacharyLevi @ponysmasher @martamilans @smugorange @realamberheard @thedcuniverse #movie #Shazam #Aquaman

If you enjoy this post, please retweet it. Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV

I really liked the DCEU, so I’ve decided to rewatch all of the DCEU movies in chronological order as I once did with the MCU. Doing so isn’t as important because the DCEU movies aren’t nearly as dependent on each other, but it’s something to do. 🙂 The order of the movies is Wonder Woman, Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad, Birds of Prey, Justice League, Aquaman, and Shazam!

Aquaman

Having seen all of these movies again, the intro to DC movies is beginning to annoy me. It shows all of these heroes, but we haven’t seen most of them, and we haven’t seen the reboot for others. Get moving, DC.

Why would Atlanta choke on water? On another note, it’s a good thing they didn’t name her Detroit. That’d be weird.

I’m not surprised that Atlanta could kick Jango Fett’s ass.

The second it’s clear that Arthur could speak to fish and his eyes turned yellow, the FBI would be called.

Kill those Ruskies! No, wait. They’re not the bad guys.

All my knowledge of Aquaman comes from the cheesy, 70s Super Friends cartoon. I never thought of him as bulletproof. Not that it’s a high bar, but I like this interpretation better.

Well what do you know? Aquaman kills too.

If you let the water fill up, it’ll be easier to lift the bar off of him. I thought you were a pirate.

Sharks or seahorses? Sharks or seahorses? Who the hell would pick seahorses? These sea dudes seem to be able to swim faster than their mounts anyway, so the only reason to have a mount is because it looks badass.

Now we know why Ivan Drago could punch so hard. Steroids had nothing to do with it.

I thought they made a good choice with the special effects. The director was considering bubbles coming out of their mouths as they spoke. That would have looked dumb. This is much better.

I’ve already written about the bar scene.

“We already have an Atlantean living among us, and his name is Aquaman.” That’s such a good point that I find it hard to believe anyone doesn’t already believe in Atlantis.

Technology aside, Arthur got his ass kicked in a fist fight. That was disappointing to see.

“King Orm Marius v. Half Breed.” Love that.

King Orm choked on water too. What’s up with that? Do salamanders choke when they come out of the water?

“I think I’m gonna need a bigger helmet.” Hmmmm. That sounds familiar.

“Look, Fight Club.” I doubt she gets the reference.

“. . . she’s a mystery to me . . . .” Great choice of music.

Pinocchio? That’s a hell of a coincidence.

It would have sucked if that fragile bottle had somehow been damaged.

He certainly got a bigger helmet.

During the chase of Mera, the music sounded like something out of Super Mario Bros.

Okay, so his head’s in a toilet. How long will that work? Eventually, he’s going to have to find a more permanent solution.

I’m glad Black Manta survived. I’m not sure how he survived, but I’m glad he did. He’s a good villain, but he wasn’t the primary villain of this movie. He needs a little more than one fight as Black Manta before he’s toast, probably as a member of the teased Legion of Doom. He did look like a bug, though. I hate bugs.

Orange and green isn’t a good look, but I’m glad they stuck with it. Let’s just hope that they use more subdued shades going forward.

I always love me a big, climactic battle.

I still don’t like when leaders are chosen by birthright or combat. I’m not sure a magical trident is a better method.

Well, Atlanta hasn’t aged a day. Can’t say the same for Thomas Curry.

Shazam!

This is my favorite DC movie and certainly in my top five for comic book movies. And I love comic book movies.

As I’ve written, Shazam! occupies the same space in the DCEU as Guardians of the Galaxy occupies in the MCU (especially GotG2), but not just because they place the greatest emphasize on humor within their respective cinematic universes. They both deal with a dynamic not often addressed: the foster family. That is, not a family by blood or choice, but one that’s forced upon you by the system or circumstance. Sure, there’s some choice involved, but not nearly as much. Moreover, both Billy Batson and Peter Quill have an idealized view of what family is, and neither becomes whole until they have that naive view painfully shattered. I wasn’t raised in a foster home, but in a significant way, I can relate. This is clearly why I love these particular movies.

I don’t think that was a fair test. How would this kid know that he wasn’t supposed to grab the eye? How does he know which ones are good? He’s a bit young to make that decision on the fly. In hindsight, we know that Sivana was a bad guy because the script says so, but the scene didn’t do a good job of showing that.

Those are some dumb cops.

You can’t just walk away from a kid because he gets lost. The law will find you, especially if you don’t bother to move out of the city.

I love Victor and Rosa, but I talked about that here. Rosa is played by Marta Milans, who’s in White Lines on Netflix. If you like her here, you can watch more of her there. I just started it. Also on Netflix is the AMC series, Halt and Catch Fire. That’s a great show in which Cooper Andrews (Victor) can be seen in a supporting role.

I loved Mark Strong’s villain in Green Lantern, and I love him here.

Everyone has bad stuff in their upbringings, but not everyone goes bad. This movie had me revisiting the question of where the line is drawn between “he couldn’t help it” and “stop whining and behave yourself.”

Freddy didn’t eat any of his lunch. He just threw out the entire tray. Not wasting food is an obsession with me. It’s not a good thing — makes weight loss tough — but it seems selfish.

Hitting the disabled with your car could get you arrested. Beating them up after the fact won’t make things better.

I never understood the icing up of the windows when a potential champion was summoned, but it was a cool effect. (I’m aware that there doesn’t have to be a reason.)

Shazam is settling for Billy. He really doesn’t have a choice but couldn’t properly test him even if he did. He got lucky with Billy.

I love the set up for Black Adam. We really need to see that movie.

Zachary Levi did an incredible job of portraying a kid suddenly placed in an adult’s body, starting with hitting his head on the way out of the subway car. He’s delightfully awkward.

“Stupid adult hands!”
“Superpowers? Dude, I don’t even know how to pee in this thing.”

Um, considering the first statement, it’s a good thing the second statement is true.

The failed mugging gives us our first glimpse into how flawed the characters are. They literally stole $73 from the mugging “victim.”

Shazam’s outfit is gaudy, but those shoes are ridiculous.

Bullets don’t just drop to the ground. They ricochet. Not very smart.

Again, acting like a kid. They can’t stand the taste of beer. I relate to this as well.

The major theme of the movie, care of Cooper Andrews: “It’s not home until you call it home. It’s something you choose.”

Some criticized the scene in the boardroom for being too brutal, but it had to be. The movie swung the pendulum towards comedy, but it’s still an action-oriented comic book movie. We occasionally needed to be reminded of the stakes. This scene did that for us, and as a result, none of the subsequent scenes had to be this rough.

I wish he had said, “Dude, where’s my car?”

Another example of how flawed they are: They stole hundreds from an ATM. Then after the Realtor scene, Freddy shows how selfish he is. He understands the rules of being a superhero, and he breaks them just to look cool. All of this is normal for kids, but it’s still problematic within the script (he could get his foster family killed), and good in the real world. We don’t get to see these characters grow unless they need to.

Eye of the Tiger is the perfect choice for the “lightning from my hands” scene. It takes place on the “Rocky steps.”

So Billy places the bus in danger, but we can still say does a good thing saving the passengers. After doing so, his first thought is, “Look what I did!” That’s not heroic.

A little physics lesson for you. It’s not the fall that kills you; it’s the sudden stop at the bottom. Catching the bus would still cause everyone almost exactly as much harm as letting it hit the ground. I know these movies have to defy science, but this one is an easy fix.

In the first fight with Sivana, we see another example of Billy’s childishness. We know from the script that Billy’s more powerful than Sivana, yet he’s still gets his ass kicked. On average, kids by far lack the confidence of adults. That’s why he loses. Good writing and acting.

The reference to Big is awesome.

Victor and Rosa (the stepparents) do a great job of “good cop, bad cop” when taking care of Billy.

She really is a good sister. 🙂

I wish I had learned at 14 what Billy learned in his reunion with his biological mother.

Billy transforming into Captain Marvel while jumping off the building is probably the best shot in the movie.

“If a superhero can’t save his family, he’s not much of a superhero.” Yep, that’s the catch phrase, and it also shows the Billy is finally emotionally whole. Giving the scared girl the tiger doll was a nice callback to his first scene.

“Billy!” 🙂

And now we have a bunch of kids put into adult bodies. I still love Darla trying to convince the fake Santa that she’s been really good this year. But again, it’s not the fall that kills you, but the sudden stop at the bottom.

Everyone’s cheering except the girl with the tiger doll. She’s still a little concerned.

“What’s a lair?”

The ending scene in the cafeteria is great. I wish Cavil could have done it.

Did I mention that I love this movie?

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