Posts Tagged ‘The Flash’

Justice League Review: It Was Fine, I Guess? Not Good, But Not Awful

November 17, 2017

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Justice League isn’t a terrible movie, and that in itself is a major achievement. Director Zack Snyder’s past two superhero outings were dour, unwieldy affairs that fundamentally misunderstood almost every character who appeared in them. Justice League is a much more conventional movie, leaner and even fun at times. It’s not great by any means. I wouldn’t even say it was good. But I didn’t leave the theater angry, so that’s a plus.

Everyone seems to have learned a few lessons from Wonder Woman, which is the far superior film by leaps and bounds. Justice League is lighter and funnier than its predecessors, though since those films weren’t light or funny in the slightest it really wouldn’t have taken much. But Snyder and his uncredited co-director Joss Whedon appear to be actively trying to set a new tone. There are jokes this time, and considerably less brooding and angst. The team bickers which each other instead of trying to kill each other. People smile sometimes. The success of this new approach is hit and miss, with a lot of corny dialogue and quips, but it’s a far better direction to move the franchise toward than the dark, miserable drama of the past.

In terms of plot, Justice League is a little bit thin. Steppenwolf and his evil plan to terraform the Earth and turn it into a hellscape is pretty standard stuff, and neither he nor his nondescript legion of Parademon minions bring much personality to the movie. Luckily, the good guys are far more endearing and enjoyable to watch. Jason Momoa’s gruff Aquaman is a good time, Ezra Miller’s socially awkward Flash is amusing, and the complicated interpersonal dynamics of bringing a group of very different heroes together for a common cause made for some decent scenes. Everyone is new at this team thing, and several members were new to their powers, so watching them all find their way together makes for an interesting angle. That’s really what the movie is about more so than the possible destruction of the world or how to bring back Superman (SPOILER ALERT: They bring back Superman! I know, I was shocked too).

Between assembling the League and Steppenwolf’s nefarious activities, we get a tour of the franchise as a whole and a peek at where things are going. We stop by Themyscira again, and I missed Patty Jenkins so much. The scenes there highlight that this was a film written, directed, and generally designed by men, as do many of Wonder Woman’s scenes. Nonetheless, the scene is a good reminder of the larger superhero world at play here. As is the visit to Atlantis, peeks into the backstories of the Flash and Cyborg (who was particularly cool; I’m excited to see more of Ray Fisher’s take on him moving forward), and a fun cameo that I won’t spoil. All of this will be fleshed out in solo films to come, and this is a franchise that could grow in interesting ways.

Watching the film, I realized that my main issue above all else was characterization. Having grown up on DC comic books and researched them extensively in my professional life, I feel like I know these characters very well. And as much as Momoa was fun, that wasn’t Aquaman. Ditto for Miller and the Flash. Affleck’s Batman and Cavill’s Superman have been off for multiple films now. No one feels right to me in the way that Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman does. She captures the spirit and legacy of Diana so well, in ways that the boys just don’t with their characters. It felt like I was watching Wonder Woman plus a bunch of alternate universe impostors.

In short, while they’ve made an okay movie with the characterizations they’ve decided to go with, it just doesn’t feel like the real Justice League to me. That’s 100% my personal taste, of course. But by not being true to the characters, I found this turn toward the light to be a little bit underwhelming. Composer Danny Elfman even integrated iconic bits of his own 1989 Batman score and John Williams’ Superman theme, which was super clever and cool, and it still didn’t move me because these versions of the characters don’t fit the iconic mold for me. For example, there’s a mid-credits scene with Superman and the Flash that is classic comic book fare and I should have loved it, but because the personalities are so different from my experience of the characters it fell flat. While I appreciated what they were trying to do, it just didn’t land for me in any emotionally resonant way. Meanwhile, I wanted to cheer every time Wonder Woman did anything rad because Gadot’s take on her connects with me so well. With everyone else, I felt a disconnect.

Speaking of Wonder Woman, I enjoyed her role in Justice League for the most part. The franchise painted itself into a corner by having her stay out of the public eye for a century in Batman v Superman, so trying to reconcile that with the engaged, inspirational character we saw in Wonder Woman was a bit awkward but narratively necessary. Her action scenes were excellent, especially her solo outing busting up an attempted bombing; there’s so much bullet deflecting, and it’s glorious. What I enjoyed the most, though, is that she’s the heart and soul of the team. No one particularly likes or trusts each other as the League comes together, but they all respect and admire Wonder Woman. There’s a scene where she and Batman are arguing in front of everyone and she gives him a forceful shove, and the Flash says something along the lines of “If she’d killed you, we would have covered for her.” As much as Batman is the one who works to assemble the team and Superman is set up as some sort of great, inspiring unifier, it’s Wonder Woman who brings them all together.

Another of my favourite ladies, Lois Lane, is in the mix as well, and although she isn’t given much to do, she does have a couple of amazing scenes. When SPOILER ALERT Superman comes back (I still can’t believe it! They pulled the wool over our eyes on that one!), Lois plays a pivotal role in what was the only really emotionally impactful moment in the entire film. Her connection with Superman is shown beautifully, and Adams and Cavill have great chemistry together that really makes for a powerful reunion. I wish that Lois could have had a bigger role, perhaps tracking down a big story or some such, but Adams make the most of the limited screen time she’s given.

Overall, Justice League isn’t awful and I’m glad about that. It’s not good either, and this cinematic universe really isn’t for me apart from Wonder Woman, but there was nothing egregious or terrible about it. I mean, the Amazons should have beaten the hell out of Steppenwolf; they screwed up there. But other than that, it is a run of the mill superhero film that isn’t entirely unpleasant to watch. It’s easily the second best movie from DC’s current superhero line. It’s just far, far, far, far, far, far, far, far, far, far, far, far, far behind the first best.

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January’s Flash Variant Covers For Wonder Woman #38 And Superman/Wonder Woman #15

October 24, 2014

Every month, DC Comics has a variant cover theme for twenty or so of their titles. We’ve had selfie variants, Batman variants, Halloween variants, and now in January we’re going to get Flash variants. I assume this has something to do with the wildly successful Flash television show, which premiered to great ratings a couple weeks back and which I have been enjoying thoroughly thus far. The concept for the Flash variants is fun: Artists recreate classic DC covers, with the Flash running through them.

The Flash variant cover for Wonder Woman #38, drawn by the always excellent Terry and Rachel Dodson, is a recreation of Ross Andru and Mike Esposito’s cover to Wonder Woman #155 from July 1965:

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It’s a lovely cover, and a lot of fun. Wonder Woman marrying a monster is classic Silver Age ridiculousness, and the Dodsons always draw an amazing Wonder Woman. I’m going to try to pick up this one for sure.

As a sidenote, the yellow lines all over the New 52 Flash costume irk me. They always look slapped on, like the artists didn’t want to draw them so the colorist has to figure out where to put them. The Flash costume is so iconic and great, and doesn’t need all of those superfluous lines. Especially when he’s running fast and lightning is crackling around him anyway.

The Flash variant cover for Superman/Wonder Woman #15, drawn by DC’s superstar artist Ivan Reis, is a recreation of Jim Lee’s cover to Justice League #12, the kiss heard round the world:

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It’s an amusing take on a cover I’ve never been fond of, more for its implications than it’s art. I like that the Flash has tied up Wonder Woman and Superman with the lasso, and generally stunned them out of their romantic revels. It lacks the classic fun of the Wonder Woman cover, but Superman and Wonder Woman’s pairing only goes back so far. It’s not like there’s some great Silver Age cover with the two of them.

Both covers will be available this January, along with many more across a variety of other DC comic books. I’d suggest talking to your local retailer ahead of time and get them to set aside one for you if you’re interested in picking one up. The variants go fast sometimes, and perhaps even faster in January seeing as the Flash is on them!

So The Flash TV Show Looks Pretty Great – Check Out The Promo And Five Minute Trailer

May 15, 2014

Comic book adaptations are getting picked up left and right, and DC Comics is set to have four new shows on three different TV networks this fall. Gotham on Fox looks like it could be cool, though a Batman show without Batman is kind of missing the best part, NBC’s Constantine trailer did nothing for me and, really, if you want to do Constantine properly it needs to be on cable, and iZombie doesn’t sound at all like the comic I quite enjoy apart from having a lady zombie lead.

But CW’s The Flash looks like some good old superhero fun, more in the vein of Avengers and Marvel’s other film properties than the dark worlds of Arrow, The Dark Knight, and Man of Steel. It’s certainly more colourful, which is a nice change of pace.

I’ve been enjoying Arrow, and am really curious to see what the team does with The Flash. I really like the idea of spinning off The Flash from Arrow, connecting the two and having it serve as a lighter, perhaps more fun counterpart to the heavier, moodier Arrow. The first promo for The Flash definitely played up the differences in tone between the two heroes:

And now this five-minute trailer gives us some more insight into what the show will look like. And it looks pretty freaking cool. There’s a bit where the Flash is battling the CW version of the Weather Wizard and counters the tornado he’s forming by running super fast in the opposite direction. This is something I can definitely get behind. Check it out:

I also like that they’re playing up the science angle. While Arrow is all about revenge and secrets and brute force, The Flash seems to be more about discovery and experimentation and smarts. It’s got a bit of a Fringe vibe, which is very cool. Plus it’s got a superhero who actually seems to enjoy being a superhero, which is something we haven’t seen from DC in a long while. There’s the usual dead parent set-up, and if you’re familiar with the Flash’s comics then you’ll know where all of that will eventually go, but Barry Allen seems far less haunted than what we’re used to seeing in our angst-ridden DC heroes.

The cast is also very diverse, and in a variety of ways, which is nice to see. The premise also sets up the possibility of future superheroes along with future bad guys, which could be a lot of fun. All together, The Flash looks like it’s going to be a blast. Yes, it’s ridiculous that we’ve got another live-action Flash before another live-action Wonder Woman, but at least this looks pretty cool. I’m optimistic we won’t have another Green Lantern or Man of Steel on our hands, and I’m excited to check out The Flash this fall.

Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox Review OR Good, But Very Dark

July 31, 2013

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I’ve been looking forward to Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox since it was announced.  While the Flashpoint comics didn’t do much for me, it was largely because they were broken up into so many mini-series that it was hard to see the whole story all at once.  A movie solves that problem, weaving all the different narratives together.  Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t, but overall I thought it was an enjoyable film.

The basic plot of Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox is that someone has gone back in time and altered history so now the world is completely different.  There are good changes, like the Flash’s mother being alive instead of murdered when he was a boy, but some seriously bad changes as well, like a war between Atlantis and the Amazons that has leveled most of Europe.  Everything in this new universe is slightly different: Batman is Thomas Wayne, Bruce’s father; Superman’s rocket was captured by the government; Wonder Woman is the warring queen of the Amazons.  The Flash is the only one who remembers the old universe, and he sets about trying to bring it back.

I’m big on alternate universe stories, so I enjoyed returning to the world of Flashpoint.  Trying to fit 13 different mini-series into one movie is a tall order, so obviously certain stories got short shrift.  Most of the backstory was left out in favour of focusing on the Flash and the events depicted primarily in the main Flashpoint book.  This worked okay generally, but there was one area where the changes and lack of detail made for some confusion: The Atlantis/Amazon war.

In the comics, the backstory was a little bit complex.  Diana met Arthur and they fell in love and were set to get married, allying the Amazons and Atlanteans, but members of both groups weren’t in favour of this union.  Orm and Artemis teamed up to stop it, assassinating Hippolyta and framing Garth, and then everything went bananas and war broke out.  In the movie, they simplify the story in a muddled, problematic way.  We see Arthur and Diana meeting, and then kissing in a bedroom, while Mera looks on jealously.  Mera later attacks Diana, who kills her, and then there’s a war.  There’s nothing about plots and assassinations; instead, Mera’s jealousy appears to be the trigger, which is a lazy trope.

However, the past doesn’t matter all that much to the film.  All that matters is that the Amazons and Atlanteans are at war and the destruction therein has killed millions, and the Flash and his team have to stop it to save the world.  The Flash can hardly run back in time super fast to fix the timeline if there’s no planet for him to run on.  The muddled origins of the war don’t detract from the story so much as the comic book version was just more interesting, but it’s all tangential to the main story and they only have so much time in a movie.

The plot itself hurtles forward pretty quickly, as you might expect from a Flash-centric movie.  The opening scene in the regular universe, where the Justice League helps the Flash stop his Rogues and disarm a series of bombs, is great in that each League member prevents the detonation in a different way that’s very reflective of their character.  We’re then thrown into the new universe after the title sequence, and the Flash teams up with Batman, then Cyborg, then the entire resistance movement in Amazon-occupied London, all while we pop in on different side characters in different parts of the world.  Characters like Hal Jordan, Lois Lane, Deathstroke, and others don’t get anywhere near full adaptations of their original comic stories, but what we do see are good scenes that establish who they are in this world while moving the overarching story forward.

While I didn’t much like the animation because this weird hybrid of anime and Western style DC’s been using a lot lately just doesn’t work for me at all, the action was quite fantastic.  The fight scenes were very well choreographed to be dynamic and exciting, and were executed well by the animation team.  The final battle in London is pretty epic, with three different factions fighting it out with all manner of weaponry and support vehicle.  There are guns, arrows, lasers, concussion blasts, water weapons, swords, and even a trident, with their handlers moving from opponent to opponent in all manner of combinations and fighting style.  All of the action is creative and visually striking, amounting to the best action I’ve seen in a DC film to date.

It does get dark, though.  With all of this epic fighting, the inevitable result is a lot of casualties, many of them quite gruesome, on top of the many deaths that have occurred leading up to the final battle.  These DC films aim for a PG-13 rating, and they definitely earned it here.  There’s a lot of bloody violence.  It’s also dark in a more existential kind of way.  I don’t want to spoil the ending, but when we find out who caused the change to the timestream and why, and what has to happen for everything to be righted, it’s pretty heavy stuff.  That, combined with other dark moments like the harrowing history of Thomas Wayne, give the film a bit of a bleak, harsh quality.

Ultimately, Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox was a decent film.  It’s dark but exciting, with great action and strong voice acting.  Kevin Conroy is back as Batman and Dana Delany plays Lois Lane, so what more could you want?  Wonder Woman was more violent than I’d like, and her history was annoyingly muddled, but she definitely got to thrown down some epic battles.  If you like alternate universes and crazy action, I’d definitely recommend the movie.  Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox has been available digitally for a couple of weeks and is out on DVD and whatnot now.

RIP Carmine Infantino, 1925-2013 – His Wonder Woman Legacy

April 5, 2013

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Yesterday, legendary comic book artist Carmine Infantino passed away at the age of 87.  Infantino is perhaps best known for helping to launch the Silver Age of comics when he co-created and designed the costume for an all-new Flash in Showcase #4 in October 1956.  He co-created many other famed characters as well, including the original Black Canary and the Barbara Gordon Batgirl.

In terms of Wonder Woman, Infantino had a surprisingly significant impact.  He never drew much art for the character, only contributing layouts to the covers of Wonder Woman #173 and Wonder Woman #174 that were then finished by Irv Novick:

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But behind the scenes Infantino was a big game changer for Wonder Woman.

In 1967, Infantino became the editorial director at DC Comics.  He hired new creators like Dick Giordano, Denny O’Neil, Neal Adams, and many others who are now legends in their own right.  It was Infantino who tasked Denny O’Neil and Mike Sekowsky with revitalizing the lagging Wonder Woman series in 1968.  After nearly two decades with Robert Kanigher at the helm, the series was in a creative and financial rut.  The result was the mod revamp where Wonder Woman gave up her superpowers to become the human Diana Prince, kung fu master and globetrotting foe of the criminal mastermind Dr. Cyber:

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These changes didn’t go over well, and the execution left a lot to be desired, but Infantino was right in deciding that something had to be done to mix things up.  Wonder Woman had been a mess for most of the 1960s, and while the mod revamp wasn’t so hot either, it ultimately culminated in the restoration of the Amazon Wonder Woman a few years later in 1973.  This return was met with celebration from key members of the women’s liberation movement, Wonder Woman made the cover of the first issue of Ms. magazine, and she’s been a feminist icon ever since.  Infantino ran DC throughout all of these changes, finally leaving his editorial role in 1976.

So while Infantino is best known for his art, he played a key role in the history of Wonder Woman as well.  The man was a comic book legend ten times over, and while like many Silver Age creators he never got the financial credit he deserved for his many creations, his contributions to comics will be remembered by fans forever.

New Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes Trailer Features Wonder Woman!!

May 23, 2012

There’s a new trailer for Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes, and while she’s not featured heavily in the trailer, Wonder Woman is definitely in there a couple of times:

There’s a lot of Batman, Robin, Superman, and Flash though.  And CBR posted a picture of Wonder Woman with another character who doesn’t get a lot of facetime in the trailer, Green Lantern:

Despite Wonder Woman’s sporadic at best trailer appearance, this game is going to be AWESOME.  And you can play as Wonder Woman anytime you want in free play mode, once you’ve unlocked her of course, so that’s pretty great.  Look for Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes in late June.


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