Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Will the upcoming DCEU Wonder Woman film suck, or just stink?

Seriously-- how hard is it to make a movie about this Intellectual Property??

According to an unsubstantiated rumor from a third-hand source, the upcoming Wonder Woman film, a major part of the DC Extended Universe film franchise, will be just as good as Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice:

On a recent episode of the Schmoes Know show, it was revealed that Wonder Woman may be a big mess. According to host Sasha Perl-Raver, someone with insider info has seen the movie, or at least a decent chunk of the movie, and claims that it is "discombobulated" and not the great movie the trailers have led fans to believe it might be. Here is what was said by Sasha Perl-Raver on the Schmoes Know show.

"So, I don't want to throw anyone under the bus. We have somebody within our community who has gotten insider information that broke my effing heart this week, because I have tremendous belief that Wonder Woman is gonna be awesome and I heard it stinks from the same person who told me that they heard that BvS stinks...The person who I spoke to...their response was 'I'm very disappointed in what I saw, and it seems like all the problems are the same problems. It's discombobulated, it doesn't have narrative flow. It's just very disjointed."

I finally got around to seeing BvS yesterday and, well, it is an endurance test. It essentially feels like a series of prologues that never actually congeal into a cohesive or coherent whole. This despite the fact that there are some truly terrific concepts and performances here and there. I liked the idea of Lex Luthor manipulating the Wayne Industries employee who lost his legs, for instance. I liked the tension that having a “superman” would create for people. But these ideas are just brought up and glossed over in favor of some really middling action sequences.

Zack Snyder is a talented director with a good eye. Man of Steel is actually my favorite comics-based superhero film of all time. (I love the way they fused Siegel and Shuster’s petulant narcissistic id with superpowers and the modern “messianic” version of the Intellectual Property. The DNA stuff was great, and the Kryptonian technology was really mind boggling, bringing to mind Arthur C. Clarke’s assertion that "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.") But, tragically, BvS seemed to be plagued by Warner Bros’s desire to use the film not to tell a story, but to serve as an extended trailer for a Justice League film.

If this image excites you then you probably haven't seen Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice yet.

A lot of people have noted that WB seems intent on building their own superhero franchise by basically reverse-engineering what Marvel Studios did. Rather than building up to their first “team book movie,” they’re forcing the issue. And along the way you have executives and lawyers and marketers and licensers and licensees offering their suggestions that must be incorporated.

This is a major mistake, not just because I don’t care for the Marvel Studios movies (I gave up watching them after that disastrously stupid first Avengers film, although I did try to watch Captain America: Civil War on Netflix streaming a couple of weeks back and made it about half an hour), but because fandom is far too engaged to be “fooled” by the strategy. Instead, WB should look to Universal’s incredible Fast and the Furious films, which constitutes the greatest franchise in movie history. These films feature engaging, authentic-feeling characters with genuine emotions and loyalty to one another—from a variety of backgrounds—saving the world by racing cars. It sounds unbelievable, but for crying out loud, in movies that might run two hours or so, with perhaps ninety of those minutes taken up with insane, absurd, over-the-top and totally unbelievable action, they still manage to give the characters real arcs.

The Fast and the Furious movies also represent a real rarity: An organically grown franchise not based on pre-existing material. Yes, the material is derivative (all great art is!), but it’s put together in an exciting and entertaining way. In the age of the Fast and the Furious, there’ s no excuse for what WB is doing with Superman et. al. For that matter, there’s no excuse for the nonsense that Marvel Studios is doing, either (The Incredible Hulk notwithstanding), but those films are at least successful. There’s no accounting for taste!

As for the fate of the upcoming Wonder Woman film, I’m of course reserving judgment. But given DC’s treatment of her since the death of her creator William Moulton Marston, I don’t have the highest hopes. And after finally making it through BvS, my hopes have sunk even lower. Will this upcoming film even surpass Tori Black's take on the character (which, let's be honest, sucked)?

...This image, on the other hand, is pretty exciting, amirite??

But you know what’s coming out this year that I am excited about? The eighth Fast and the Furious film, The Fate of the Furious. I hope someone arranges a screening for the braintrust in charge of the DC Intellectual Property at WB. They could definitely learn a thing or two, if they keep their minds open.

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