“The Snyder Cut” Review!

The epic saga of Zack Snyder’s original vision for the Justice League movie is arguably more epic than the actual plots of either his film – commonly spoken of as “The Snyder Cut”, with the kind of hushed reverence befitting this semi-mythical Hollywood Holy Grail – or the almost universally-condemned version of his film put together by director Joss Whedon and released in 2017 – and often referred to nowadays as “Josstice League”; a dismissive nickname for a film which dismissed many of Snyder’s boldest ideas out-of-hand in favor of something more generic and “crowd-pleasing”, laced with Whedon’s traditional brand of humor. For years, “The Snyder Cut” of Justice League was the stuff of legend, so mysterious and controversial that many thought it didn’t even exist, and even those who knew about it thought its chances of being recovered, like Snyder’s over-arching vision for the DCEU, had died.

Snyder Cut
Darkseid | vulture.com

Yet here we are. Following loud and persistent demands from fans, cast, and crew, Warner Brothers finally gave Snyder the go-ahead to complete his already mostly-finished cut of Justice League, touching it up with some additional VFX work and a few minutes of new footage. The Snyder Cut is now available to watch exclusively on HBO Max, making it the ultimate crown jewel in the streaming service’s collection. But after the excessively long waiting-game, the suspenseful build-up, the pageantry and hype surrounding its release…is it, in fact, a better movie than Joss Whedon’s Justice League? Even if it is, is it really good enough to warrant all the attention, all the hashtags and the fan-campaigns, the uproar and the ceaseless arguing?

Fortunately, the answer is a resounding “yes” on both counts. It’s hard to even compare the two when it’s so clear in hindsight that the Snyder Cut is (despite several flaws) a complete, comprehensive work of art; and Whedon’s cut is merely an abridged and simplified version that strips away the artistry, the voice, the heart, and most damningly the soul of Snyder’s film, all while turning up the brightness and saturation to an 11, which I realize now is why some otherwise unchanged elements shared by the two films, such as Ezra Miller’s Flash costume, no longer make me want to rinse my eyes out with bleach. Is the Snyder Cut the greatest superhero film ever made? Not quite (at least to me personally), but the fact that it now ranks anywhere near the top of the list is enough for me to say this whole endeavor was worth it.

Clocking in at four hours (and helpfully divided into chapters of varying length for a more comfortable viewing experience), the Snyder Cut is basically the exact same story as before, but with all the purpose and power layered back in gradually over the course of the film. There’s just enough new (well, old) material to keep the story engaging and fresh, particularly the entire subplot with the villainous tyrant Darkseid (voiced by Ray Porter), but the Snyder Cut’s secret weapon is its ability to take scenes and sequences we’ve already seen – and hated, I might add – and either completely recontextualize them and/or replace the character development and sincere emotion that Whedon removed. And those scenes justify the Snyder Cut’s existence, and make it easy to see why Warner Brothers held out for so long: it’s hard for studio execs to understand that audiences actually want character development and heartfelt stories, rather than nonstop CGI battles and crowd-pleasing jokes every other minute. A superhero movie that’s all about the former, and adds little of the latter? Good luck even getting that movie made.

But superhero movies are evolving well past the limitations imposed on them by studios constantly trying to outdo each other with more and more explosions, snarky one-liners, and third act plot twists. The Snyder Cut is able to be part of that evolution, even as it remains (on its surface) the story of a group of superhumans trying to disconnect sentient alien cubes to stop a cosmic dictator from wiping out all life on Earth. Deeper than that, it’s the story of Victor Stone (Ray Fisher, finally getting the screen-time and justice he deserves), whose every waking moment, trapped in a metal cyborg body designed to keep him alive after a brutal car-crash, is a reminder of pain, guilt, and regret over having been saved from the brink of death in the first place. Victor’s inner struggle is the crux of the film, and out of the large ensemble cast he comes closest to being the singular protagonist. His journey to some level of self-acceptance, piecing together the broken bits of himself to form a whole, mirrors the journey of the disassembled Justice League, which must form to save Earth from Steppenwolf (voiced by Ciaran Hinds).

Other characters have more broadly-sketched emotional arcs, probably as a result of having had origin films or sequels on the way at the time of Justice League’s production. But even so, they’re each benefited by the freedom that four hours allows – Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa), the Aquaman, actually gets to interact with some of his Atlantean brethren beyond just Mera (Amber Heard), planting the seeds for later plot-points like his return to Atlantis and his brother Orm’s betrayal. I generally prefer James Wan’s vision of Atlantis to Snyder’s (which is significantly more bleak, and dark, and did I mention bleak?), but it is nice to see Willem Dafoe again as Aquaman’s mentor Vulko, still pestering him about his destiny and the trident and all that, but sporting a far more magnificent wig than before.

Snyder Cut
Justice League | ign.com

As for the Amazonian warrior Diana Prince (Gal Gadot), it’s glaringly obvious how many of the problems with her character in the theatrical cut of Justice League were wholly the fault of Joss Whedon, as Snyder’s take on the character mostly respects the version of the heroine established by Patty Jenkins in Wonder Woman: never subjecting her to sexist humor or cinematography, giving her a far more prominent role as a leader and strategist as well as a warrior, and removing the awkward, inorganic flirtatious interactions between her and Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck). Her action scenes are the best in the film, thanks to the thrilling jaggedness of her physical movements, her unique array of weapons, and the eerie wailing female vocals that accompany her into every battle. And there’s one shot of her – too breathtaking to spoil – that perfectly emphasizes how ancient and otherworldly she really is, and how misguided Whedon was to try and sacrifice that aspect of her character.

But the real surprises, at least for me, were Affleck’s Bruce Wayne and Ezra Miller’s Barry Allen. I had so utterly rejected both these actors’ takes on the characters for so long that it was painful to admit that I actually liked them in the Snyder Cut, especially Miller, whose physical acting whenever they get moving is actually mesmerizing to watch, made up of ethereal fluid movements and incredibly gentle gestures. They’re allowed to be serious, and to make their way through scenes without cracking jokes, and their role in the third act is just…intensely cool. As previously mentioned, even their costume looks decent. The same can’t be said of Affleck, whose Batsuit is still atrociously ugly, but in his case the writing is just better overall. Even though he’s the weak link in the League in terms of physical strength and superpowers, the Snyder Cut shows Wayne actually grappling with that fact as well as working past it by utilizing his intellect in fights. He’s never going to be able to hold his own against Steppenwolf for long, and Snyder doesn’t offer him any convenient plot-armor, so he often has to act cautiously and strategically – underscoring his courage in the third-act battle.

Each character’s specific fighting style (besides just their obviously distinct powers) makes for a series of diverse action scenes, ranging from a surprisingly ferocious battle between Wonder Woman and a group of European terrorists, to the third-act battle in which she, Aquaman, and a resurrected Superman (Henry Cavill, no longer obviously suffering from the digitally-removed mustache problem) go toe-to-toe with Steppenwolf, brilliantly bouncing off each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Steppenwolf himself has gone from being one of the worst and most underdeveloped villains in superhero cinema to among the most memorable; a tantalizing, terrifying glimpse of the power of Apokolips. He might look like just a sentient monolith of bone and spine, but he’s almost sympathetic by the time we have to root for the heroes to take him down…and he’s only the weakest of the villains in Darkseid’s inner circle, as the film makes clear. If the Snyderverse is eventually restored, I can’t wait to see characters like Desaad and Granny Goodness join the battle for Earth.

That’s a big “if”, but the mostly self-contained story does include an epilogue with several cliffhangers and teases – all for a sequel we have to hope we’ll someday see, in one form or another. Most of Darkseid’s storyline is left for that hypothetical sequel to deal with, making for a viewing experience that is equal parts electrifying and frustrating, as the four hours start running out and you remember you’re watching merely the first installment in Snyder’s planned trilogy. Then there’s the added wrinkle of Jared Leto’s Joker, a character only recently included in the final minutes of the movie by Snyder, leading to a highly-anticipated encounter between him and his nemesis Batman. No spoilers here, but I was left somewhat underwhelmed by the strange back-and-forth between the characters, which only confirms that Leto’s Joker is not the bold artistic expression he clearly thinks it is.

Snyder Cut
Cyborg | syfy.com

Rather, Leto’s brief, bizarre, performance is part of a pattern throughout Snyder’s films of small and generally harmless things which, taken out of context and ridiculed online, can easily make the director come across as pretentious and overly-serious. And sure, the Snyder Cut is unintentionally silly at times: an Icelandic villager inhaling Aquaman’s manly scent from his discarded sweater while her fellow townsfolk hail the Atlantean demigod with a hymn is…certainly a choice. Superman posing Jesus-style above the world after his resurrection is some over-the-top religious symbolism. But these are little things, and they don’t accurately represent the entire film.

No matter what you think of Snyder or his past work, it should be obvious that the Snyder Cut is something he loves deeply, and into which he poured a great deal of effort and heart. That doesn’t necessarily always result in a terrific movie, and it could be argued that Snyder loves his work too much, as evidenced by his lack of editing and consequently monumental runtimes – but every moment of the Snyder Cut’s daunting length is worth it for the powerful and quietly respectful scenes each character has gained, for the new perspective on specific arcs and beats we might otherwise have dismissed, and for that love and unique personality which now emanates throughout the story, bringing life back to the Justice League.

First rule of comic-books: no death is irreversible.

Rating: 9/10

“The Snyder Cut” DC Fandome Trailer!

The Snyder Cut of Justice League will finally release on HBO Max next year (in four, hour-long segments), and at last we have a full-length trailer for the now legendary epic film that most thought would never see the light of day. But for several years now, fans have been asking – even demanding – that Warner Brothers release the Snyder Cut, and I can’t blame them, because (a) Joss Whedon’s Justice League, the version of the film that actually got released in theaters back in 2017, was memorable only for how horrible it was, and (b), more importantly to me, the tenacity and perseverance of Snyder Cut fans has since inspired similar fan-driven campaigns such as the push for a She-Ra movie or a Quake spinoff, both of which I support wholeheartedly.

The Snyder Cut
denofgeek.com

But anyway, back to the Snyder Cut. Truth be told, it’s not urgent to me that I see Zack Snyder’s cut of this film, though I will definitely be curious to see how it turns out, and whether or not it lives up to the intense hype. The trailer does a pretty good job of letting us know what we’re in for: an epic of gargantuan proportions, overflowing with darkness and unimaginable horrors, set in a post-apocalyptic hellscape. The members of the Justice League are divided across the world, Superman is dead, and an ancient alien tyrant named Darkseid chooses this moment to arrive on earth with the intention of subjugating the human race.

Prior to this trailer, there was no clear victor in the perennial contest between DC’s Darkseid and Marvel’s Thanos, two suspiciously similar characters who both appear in their respective cinematic universes under very similar circumstances – but I still don’t know if there’s a clear victor, even now that we can compare both of them. Which one looks better? I’d be inclined to say Thanos: his slightly more humanoid features allow for a greater range of emotions to pass across his broad, bald head. But which is the better-written character? Well, that’s impossible to say until we actually see the Snyder Cut. Darkseid was written out of the theatrically released cut of Justice League and replaced with his servant, Steppenwolf, who also makes an appearance in this trailer but not as the main villain. Steppenwolf’s new design looks appropriately fearsome: he’s an alien mass of prickling scales and spines. Darkseid’s design, meanwhile, is still not fully-rendered, so I’m not going to pass judgment just yet, but I will say this: based on what we can see so far, I’m not certain I like his look. He’s a little on the short side, and a bit too bulky, with enormous hands – but then again, I’m not a big fan of his design in the comics either.

The Snyder Cut
Darkseid | nerdist.com

Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” plays over scenes of global destruction as Darkseid and his cosmic armies rain fire on the earth, while the Justice League slowly but surely gets their act together and begins to fight back. Superman returns in his stylish, all-black suit; Aquaman strips down in slow-motion because reasons; Cyborg actually has a lot of screentime, which lends credence to Zack Snyder’s continual promises that his character is the emotional core of the film; Batman poses dramatically on gargoyles in the rain; Wonder Woman, oddly, is almost nowhere to be seen; and The Flash of all people actually has cool action scenes, which is…shocking (no pun intended). Obviously, we all kind of know what’s going to happen: we have, technically, seen this movie before. But the Snyder Cut is sure to feature some major changes from the theatrically released Justice League. New characters like Iris West will show up, while other characters will have vastly different roles in the story.

It’s even possible that the ending of Zack Snyder’s Justice League will leave the door open for future team-up movies: it’s unclear whether DC has an interest in bringing him back for the long run, but based on his celebrity status amongst fans and his popularity with the cast, it probably wouldn’t be a bad business decision. With Ben Affleck officially returning as Batman in The Flash and Henry Cavill set to reprise the role of Superman somewhere down the line, it seems like DC is trying to lure in the Snyder fanbase again across the board, not just with this one film.

The Snyder Cut
comicbookmovie.com

When all is said and done, this trailer is incredible because it’s for a movie that wouldn’t even exist had the fans not rallied behind Zack Snyder with all their might and worked to get something done. On its own, it’s only an okay trailer, and I intend to rate it as such – it really doesn’t make me any more intrigued than I already was by this whole concept – but when you take a step back and see the bigger picture, it’s a lot more than that. It’s a testament to the power of fandoms, and the impact we can – and arguably, should at times – have on the decision-making process.

Trailer Rating: 6.9/10

“The Batman” DC Fandome Trailer!

The reaction to the first teaser trailer for The Batman, revealed last night at DC Fandome, has been one of almost unanimous praise so far: which makes it my painful duty to report that I can’t quite share in the growing excitement surrounding the film as much as I’d love to, as much as I truly hope to be able to in the near future, as more of the film is completed and revealed to us. Unfortunately, the teaser trailer simply isn’t connecting with me, although I’ve now watched it several times. I’ve identified most of my issues, as well as several elements which I genuinely find interesting or at least intriguing, and hope to see expanded upon.

The Batman
variety.com

Let’s start with a positive: Robert Pattinson. I’m a big fan of Pattinson, and I feel certain he has all the makings of an excellent, instantly iconic, Batman. A dark, twisted, vengeful Batman who stalks the streets of Gotham like a rogue detective – we’ll talk about detective work in a moment – dealing out a very violent kind of justice to the city’s hordes of criminals and wrongdoers. Pattinson’s suit has the perfect Batman silhouette, and I absolutely love all of his gadgetry and customized accessories – particularly his Batmobile, which flares into life around the trailer’s midpoint and looks to be equipped for high-speed chases. I don’t quite understand what Pattinson and director Matt Reeves are going for with Bruce Wayne’s long, unkempt hair and dark eyeshadow, but it’s striking nonetheless and it’s already given rise to a deluge of memes about “Emo Batman”.

Gotham City itself is honestly a bit of a mixed bag, personally. On the one hand, I feel like this film is going to tell a Jack the Ripper storyline under the guise of superheroes and villains – The Riddler, who appears to be the film’s primary antagonist, shares many similarities with the historical serial killer, which this take on the character could be examining – and I love that idea. We don’t see any establishing shots of Gotham in this trailer, but it has all the essence of Jack the Ripper’s London: dark, foggy, atmospheric; the kind of city where evil lurks in wait around every street corner, and nobody is safe. But that stylistic decision feels almost too easy, too safe. It’s dark and it’s gritty, and those are two words I’ve heard enough of when it comes to Batman.

The Batman
deadline.com

Now, I’m not saying that The Batman has to be as brightly-lit or gaudy as Birds Of Prey, but I do feel like a pop of color would help to differentiate this Gotham from past incarnations of the iconic city, while a bit of absurdity never hurt anyone. My ideal vision of Gotham is of a semi-psychedelic labyrinth, lit by flashing neon and inhabited by colorful characters. Gotham’s brooding darkness has been explored to death, but its sensuality (for lack of a better word) has never really been touched upon. Even if I were lucky enough to be making this movie, I would still incorporate that Jack the Ripper tone, but I don’t see why it needs to be oppressively grimdark to achieve that. At the same time, I should point out that only about thirty percent of The Batman has actually been filmed, and this teaser trailer may not be indicative of everything that’s in the film. Matt Reeves explained in the panel leading up to the trailer’s debut that all the characters will still be transitioning into the heroes and villains we know from the comics, and considering that he counted Gotham as a character in the story, I wonder if that same sort of character arc will be granted to the city itself.

I also don’t want to sound like I hate everything about Gotham – I love the mansion which Selina Kyle’s amateur Catwoman attempts to burgle, with its arched Gothic windows looking out over the city skyline. This mansion is also the setting where the Riddler’s first murder takes place.

Speaking of which, time to address the Riddler in the room! Paul Dano is never unmasked in the trailer, but from what we see and hear of him, he’s definitely a very disturbed and terrifying character. The first we see of him, he’s taking his time setting up a perfect little crime scene, leaving his clues and a signature calling card for Gotham’s greatest detective, Batman himself (feeling the Jack the Ripper vibes yet? Because I am). Matt Reeves mentioned that most of Batman’s villains are still new on the scene in this film, which takes place during the early years of the Caped Crusader’s career, and that Riddler in particular is only just emerging for the first time. That gives me hope that, despite Dano’s character appearing in muted green throughout the trailer, he will eventually suit up in a brighter, somewhat more comics-accurate costume, perhaps trading in his mask for a quaint little hat along the way. The tone of this Gotham seems so dark that it’s hard to imagine that being the case, but I’m remaining hopeful.

The Batman
indiewire.com

A large part of why I’m still hopeful is because Catwoman actress Zoë Kravitz mentioned in a previous interview that she has already had a chance to wear her Catwoman suit during the filming – so either she’s referring to her low-tech burglar getup in the trailer, or there are actually comics-accurate costumes in store for all of Batman’s villains. I don’t see why not: Batman got a perfect outfit, so why shouldn’t the rest? Ironically, Catwoman’s costume already looks quite good, though I don’t know if she’s intentionally embracing her feline design aesthetic, or if her ski mask is only accidentally bunching up into cat ears as an act of foreshadowing.

Then there’s The Penguin, and this is another negative: not because of Colin Farrell, who is very talented and seems to have undergone an incredible physical transformation into this role with the help of extreme makeup and prosthetics (can you say Oscar nominations?), but because the role requires this much makeup and prosthetics at all. When Farrell was announced as The Penguin, my first thought was how original and out of the box it was – in the comics, Penguin has always been a very grotesque figure, whereas Farrell is traditionally handsome. I concluded too quickly that Farrell’s Penguin would be very suave, maybe even fabulously dressed or well-groomed. Well, not quite. Farrell is instead unrecognizable under all the makeup, which has turned him into a much more familiar, jowly, balding crime lord. It feels safe. Too safe, if you ask me.

The Batman
observer.com

That’s my big problem with the trailer as a whole: it’s just a tad bit too predictable. When Matt Reeves promised us a Batman movie that’s like nothing we’ve ever seen before, I expected a wild divergence from the days of the dark, gritty Batmen in their dark, gritty Gothams – but instead, Reeves has doubled down on the dark and the gritty and come out with something that almost looks and feels like an exaggeration of everything I’ve grown bored with when it comes to this character. Now, I’m well aware that this Batman’s selling-point is supposed to be that he works as a detective, which is something I’m very excited to see (especially with The Riddler being the main villain), but I didn’t see him doing any actual detective-work in the trailer. And again, this is a teaser for a film that isn’t even half-completed yet, so it’s not fair to make any assumptions about anything, but I’ve still got to review what we did see – and what we did see didn’t feel like anything I haven’t seen before in some way or another, though there are distinct differences here and there.

Well, time to turn it over to you, dear reader. Share your own thoughts, theories and opinions in the comments below!

Trailer Rating: 7/10

Michael Keaton Will Return As Batman For The First Time Since 1992!!

Michael Keaton must have enjoyed his recent stint as the Marvel supervillain Vulture, because it appears that he’s even considering rejoining the DC Extended Universe – returning to the role of Bruce Wayne/Batman for the first time since 1992. And not just for one quick cameo, either: no, the rumor is that Keaton will take on a recurring role throughout several films in the DCEU, in a capacity that many are comparing to Samuel L. Jackson’s guest star roles in the Marvel Cinematic Universe films as Nick Fury.

Keaton is expected to make his big comeback at some point in The Flash movie. The film – apparently still starring Ezra Miller as the goofy, super-fast hero – has long been rumored to mess about with the DCEU’s already complicated continuity, doing what it can to bring some cohesion to the chaos with the help of alternate realities and time travel. Keaton’s Batman could very well show up to help Miller’s Flash with that daunting task: and as a business strategy, it would be genius. Not only will Keaton’s name and the Batman brand recognition alone entice general audiences, but setting up Miller and Keaton as a comedic duo could keep audiences enthused, entertained, and willing to suspend their disbelief while The Flash and The Batman work out how to fix the DCEU’s canon in a film that could potentially have a lot of pseudo-scientific exposition.

Michael Keaton Batman
syfy.com

Meanwhile, moviegoers who are still looking forward to Robert Pattinson’s take on the Dark Knight need not fear: while Michael Keaton’s Batman might replace Ben Affleck’s largely reviled version of the character in the main timeline of the DCEU, Pattinson’s version exists on the peripheries, much like Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker. So don’t expect the entire DCEU to suddenly fit together perfectly due to this: even if we do get a whole bunch of time-travel/world-hopping shenanigans, I’d imagine the intent behind that would be to focus on reversing and/or rewriting parts of Justice League, firmly defining what does and does not exist in the main canon, and putting the franchise on a clear path forward.

Michael Keaton is, as I mentioned, expected to stick around in the role for at least a few more films, including a planned Batgirl solo film. If he were to continue, The Hollywood Reporter notes that his Batman could be “something of a mentor or a guide or even string puller”, which definitely sounds similar to Nick Fury over in the MCU and would probably be very appealing to Keaton, who could reap the benefits for years to come. However, all of that is far ahead in the future, and Michael Keaton hasn’t even been officially signed on yet: The Flash is expected to start filming in the first quarter of next year, giving him a bit more time to make his decision. But the pressure is going to be put on him heavily now: the news is already sparking plenty of fan hype, and the DCEU won’t want to let go of that momentum – they’ve actually been riding high for a couple weeks now, following some very well-received reports that Henry Cavill could return as Superman and that the DC will have their own fan-event later this summer to rival San Diego Comic-Con At Home and Disney’s D23 Expo.

Michael Keaton Batman
time.com

Beyond the fact that Michael Keaton is finally going to return to this iconic role, this casting has major ramifications for the future of the DCEU, as it suggests that other versions of well-known characters could possibly show up, either in The Flash or later down the line – and with DC Comics having a very long history of being adapted to the big and small screen, there’s plenty of material they could draw from: much like what the CW network did when adapting the DC’s Crisis On Infinite Earths storyline, where they snatched up a number of actors from various other DC-adjacent properties and had them come together for a spectacular showdown (incidentally, DC may have been laying the groundwork for this very moment when they had Ezra Miller’s Flash cameo in Crisis On Infinite Earths alongside Grant Gustin’s version of the Flash – there’s no word yet on whether CW talent could cross over into the films, but it’s certainly not out of the question anymore).

To be quite honest, this news could be a life-saver for The Flash, which has been stagnating quietly for years now, waiting for someone to come in and save the project from utter oblivion. Andy Muschietti, who is, as of right now, still signed on to direct the picture and is apparently the one who extended the offer to Keaton, was that “someone”. Now let’s just hope we get to see this suddenly very intriguing film soon!

What do you think about the news that Michael Keaton is returning to the DCEU? Share your thoughts, theories and opinions in the comments below!

Andy Serkis, Colin Farrell Join “The Batman”.

Okay, we’re doing this again, aren’t we?

Not too long ago, I spoke about how bizarre it was that an actor like Jonah Hill could be circling the role of The Riddler in Matt Reeves’ upcoming DCEU origin story, The Batman, which will follow a young Dark Knight as he navigates a Gotham City seething with villainy and corruption. Hill, who was far more suited to the role of The Penguin, eventually walked away from the project entirely, both due to that and the fact that he was asking for significantly more money than Warner Brothers was willing to pay for him to play a character they didn’t even want him to play.

Andy Serkis, Colin Farrell Join "The Batman". 1
independent.co.uk

And now we’re kind of in the same situation: just now, news broke that Andy Serkis, famed motion-capture performer and director of Sony’s Venom 2, will be joining the cast of The Batman (despite, you know, directing Sony’s Venom 2 at the same time) as Bruce Wayne’s loyal butler Alfred Pennyworth. Fans had long hoped that Serkis would exploit his friendship with director Matt Reeves (the two worked together on the recent Planet Of The Apes movies) in order to win a role in the DC film, so this isn’t disappointing news by any means. Andy Serkis is always a win. But it is kind of surprising, in light of the other casting announcement that came out mere minutes later.

Colin Farrell, the handsome Irish actor known for his work in films such as Saving Mr. Banks and Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them, has landed the role of Oswald Cobblepot, better known as The Penguin in DC lore. To be clear, I’m not complaining about this casting choice, but if I had to choose someone to play the stout, eccentric Gentleman of Crime, it would not be Colin Farrell: in fact, if I had to choose an actor to fit that role perfectly, it would be somebody a bit older, with a crazy glint in their eye, somebody who could rival the incredible performance of Danny DeVito in the same role in Batman Returns – actually, it would probably be Andy Serkis. Whereas the taller, fine-featured, soft-spoken Farrell would be a perfect fit for the role of Alfred Pennyworth.

But as we’re beginning to expect with this movie, it’s the other way around.

Farrell’s casting, in particular, is noteworthy because (a) he’s another ridiculously good-looking addition to this already bizarrely beautiful cast, and (b) see above. The Penguin has never been portrayed as a handsome man, and, in fact, much of his origin story revolves around him being the exact opposite: bullied relentlessly for his obesity and shuffling gait, the young Oswald Cobblepot turned to his pet birds for friendship as a child, and became an avid student of ornithology, eventually adopting bird-themes into his villainous style. Reeves is obviously going in the opposite direction with this out-of-the-box casting – and, while I find it intriguing, I can’t say I abhor the idea of Colin Farrell donning Penguin’s signature top hat, monocle and umbrella while wreaking havoc on the streets of Gotham. It just makes me wonder whether Matt Reeves will reveal Gotham to be a stylish, trendy modern city more in line with today’s New York City. Maybe it’s time we moved past Gotham’s traditional representation as a depressingly gritty underworld of criminal activity, seething with corruption and pollution. Margot Robbie’s Birds Of Prey movie almost seems to be leaning in that direction already with its bright neon color palette and fresh, alluring style, but it’s too early to tell yet if she got to that idea first, before Reeves.

Farrell and Serkis will join Robert Pattinson, Zoe Kravitz and Jeffrey Wright in The Batman, which is slated to release in 2021.

So what do you think of the idea of Andy Serkis as Alfred and Colin Farrell as The Penguin? Should the actors have been swapped? How would you feel about a new take on Gotham? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Zoe Kravitz Cast In “The Batman”!

Fresh off the summer’s HBO drama Big Little Lies, and a string of successes and misfires, actress Zoe Kravitz is joining the cast of Matt Reeves’ The Batman, in the role of Selina Kyle, the Catwoman.

The antiheroine burglar has been played by a number of legendary actresses before Kravitz, including Michelle Pfeiffer and Halle Berry: but Kravitz has an advantage in that she’s actually played the character once before, albeit in animated form in The Lego Batman Movie. There are no details yet on whether this version of the character will be more villain or hero, or whether she will be in a romantic relationship with Robert Pattinson’s Batman. The Batman has been rumored to star many of Batman’s notorious rogues, so it wouldn’t be altogether surprising if Catwoman was portrayed as a full-out villain – but while I think Kravitz can play that, and play it well, I know she can also be emotionally complex, in a raw and fascinating way. And Catwoman has such a gripping story, this is a real chance for Kravitz to show off her acting chops to a broader audience that hasn’t seen her work on Big Little Lies: the antithesis to Batman, the Catwoman is a persona that Selina Kyle takes on to escape her horrific life in the dark underbelly of Gotham City, a persona that first develops when Kyle is tied in a sack and nearly drowned while still a child; the same punishment that awaited cats accused of witchcraft in the Middle Ages.

Kravitz beat out a number of high-profile contenders for the role, all of whom were women of color (as is she). Rumored candidates included Lupita Nyong’o and Tessa Thompson from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, and Logan Browning. Any of these remarkable women would have been excellent choices to don the Catwoman costume and roam the streets of Gotham, but Kravitz is especially perfect: for one thing, she doesn’t have commitments to a rival studio, as Nyong’o and Thompson would. Kravitz has also worked with Warner Brothers before – as much as people may hate Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald, almost everybody seemed to like Kravitz’ portrayal of the haunted heiress Leta Lestrange. She’s not a big draw at the box-office, though, and her most recent project, the second season of Big Little Lies, didn’t go over well with fans; but while none of that is strictly her fault, Kravitz is definitely going to have to work harder than usual to ensure that her portrayal of the beloved character of Catwoman is faithful to the source material, while still fresh and unique.

So what do you think of this casting, and who do you expect to be cast next? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Jonah Hill (Maybe) Cast In “The Batman”!

With the focus all on Bruce Wayne’s nemesis Joker for the past few weeks, with critics and early audiences chattering excitedly about controversy and Oscar drama, it’s understandable why plenty of people have probably forgotten about, you know, Bruce Wayne. But yes, indeed, there is a new Batman movie coming out of DC Studios, and the headlines it’s been stirring up today might turn the attention away from Joker for just a little while (not enough to make a dent in that film’s box-office tracking, though).

The Matt Reeves-directed Batman prequel, simply entitled The Batman, already caused quite a rift in the DCEU fandom when it cast Robert Pattinson in the lead role, as the franchise’s newest Dark Knight. But since then, there’s been little to no news about the film, and much of what has been rumored seems “too good to be true”. Daisy Ridley was rumored at one point to be playing Batgirl; then it was Andy Serkis as a possible candidate for The Penguin; Eddie Redmayne lobbying for the role of The Riddler; Vanessa Hudgens wanting to play Catwoman; Josh Gad campaigning for The Penguin; just last night Zendaya made unintentional waves in the Batman fandom by wearing green to the Emmys, which, according to some, was a nod to Poison Ivy; only a few weeks ago it was Rihanna who accidentally got herself labeled as Poison Ivy by over-enthusiastic theorists; so on and so on. The list of A-list actors who want to be in The Batman to accompany Pattinson on his journey back to stardom is incredibly long, but so far none of these are more than rumors or fan-speculation. And as for the actual cast that is being assembled, well, it’s a lot more low-key. Matt Reeves has already made it clear he’s going for a much more grounded approach to the superhero than has been previously attempted, so maybe he just doesn’t want big, flashy superstars distracting from his vision. Whatever his reasoning, he’s just picked out two actors for lead roles – and, well, they might not be Rihanna, but they’re nothing to sneeze at, either.

First, Westworld‘s Jeffrey Wright has apparently been cast to play Commissioner Jim Gordon, Gotham City detective, Batman ally, and, most importantly, the father of Barbara Gordon, a.k.a. Batgirl. Wright’s casting suggests that a woman of color could be up for that coveted role: considering that Batgirl, in the comics, happens to be a white woman with red hair, this will undoubtedly spark more of the usual uproar about how “Hollywood hates redheads”, a statement that is still laughably wrong no matter how many times it gets brought up. However Reeves decides to interpret Barbara, though, the casting of her father is a win for Wright, who’s got a decent, but relatively low-profile resume: he’s definitely looking to change that, scoring roles in the next James Bond film, as well as Marvel’s What If? streaming show.

Then, there’s the big headline: Jonah Hill, a two-time Oscar nominee who has mostly flown under the radar with mainstream audiences, is in early talks to play a villain in The Batman, but neither he nor Warner Brothers can decide which one. Apparently Matt Reeves is intent on nabbing the Moneyball star, and Hill is intent on starring in this movie; it’s just a matter of figuring out which of Gotham’s legendary rogues is best suited for the dramatic actor. According to other trades, the conversation has been narrowed down to a choice between The Penguin and The Riddler, both iconic characters; but “it is unclear if the two sides will be able to find common ground”. I can’t imagine how difficult this choice could possibly be (if you’re going to cast Jonah Hill in your Batman movie, you cast him as The Penguin, there is no room for doubt), but all the reports are unanimous in saying that the delay has nothing to do with dealmaking, but everything to do with pure indecision. Personally, Hill as Penguin and Eddie Redmayne as Riddler sounds like a perfect scenario, and if it were up to me, I wouldn’t be hesitating, but Reeves and Warner Brothers probably know what they’re doing. Emphasis on probably

The Batman is expected to include a large, possibly unprecedented number of villains, but no names are yet confirmed. So I turn the question to you: who would you like to see Jonah Hill play in the Caped Crusader’s solo movie? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Robert Pattinson is Batman!

Robert Pattinson is Batman! 2
nbcnews.com

Yesterday’s CW Batwoman trailer declared very definitively, in a cringey opening monologue, that “The Bat’s not coming back” – well, that might be true enough for the CW network, which ignores DCEU continuity. In their alternate universe, Batman has left Gotham City and is thought to be dead.

But guess what? The DCEU ignores CW continuity (and sometimes their own continuity) too, so yesterday they revealed that, no, the Bat actually is coming back. And he’ll be played by Robert Pattinson.

The DCEU has always had a problem with having to recast many of their lead actors every so often – their latest Superman, Henry Cavill, is out, and their last Batman, Ben Affleck, is also gone: Affleck’s Batman didn’t even get to have a solo film before he was unceremoniously ousted. Personally, I was not a fan of the “Batfleck”, as his character was dubbed by social media. His performance in Justice League (which, granted, was a bad movie to begin with) was stiff and monotone, and his suit didn’t even fit him properly – seriously, the Bat-suit has to fit. The Dark Knight was reduced to a badly-costumed parody.

But with director Matt Reeves at the helm, DC’s upcoming The Batman is expected to go dark and gritty, with a take on the iconic character closer to that of Christopher Nolan’s sensational Dark Knight trilogy.

Apparently, the Robert Pattinson casting hasn’t been locked down yet, with Nicholas Hoult (star of the recent biopic Tolkien) also on Warner Brothers’ shortlist. But it seems obvious to me that Pattinson is the better choice, and could actually bring some interesting stuff to the table, if he were chosen for the role of the Caped Crusader. Reeves’ Batman movie will follow a young Bruce Wayne in the 1990’s, possibly as a follow-up to The Joker, which will open this fall – with that movie already being tossed around as a potential Oscars contender, it seems likely that The Batman will also have a dramatic and artistic approach to the comic-book source material. This has been Pattinson’s own interest, of late, as the former Twilight actor has branched out into the indie and art film genres – even set to star in a film directed by Christopher Nolan himself. Yet the mainstream DCEU is still conflicted between going dark and serious or light-hearted and ridiculous, with both paths looking fortuitous – the successes of the very dissimilar The Dark Knight Rises and Aquaman exemplify this.

But with Batman, there really should be no doubt in anyone’s mind: gritty is the way to go. You can’t have a Gotham City that isn’t shadowy and hostile, and you certainly can’t explore Batman’s impressive and classic roster of villains without going deep into the darker parts of the human psyche. Bruce Wayne himself is a hugely interesting character with plenty of emotional depth that could be explored in detail by a professional actor – rather than just making Batman yet another superhero with high-tech gadgets. If the script is top-notch and the DCEU isn’t afraid to possibly alienate an audience that would prefer more family-friendly, humorous fare, then I think The Batman could even prove itself a worthy Oscars competitor – superhero films have never really been Academy darlings, and the actors in them least of all: except Heath Ledger, who was given a Best Supporting Actor award for his role as the Joker in The Dark Knight. Maybe – just maybe – Pattinson can build on his experiences in the indie genre to elevate Batman to the same status.

And maybe, though it’s unlikely, his take on the character might be successful enough that we could see another (better) Justice League movie. The romance that was built up between Ben Affleck’s Batman and Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman might finally make sense – considering that Pattinson is much closer to Gadot’s own age than Affleck was. Of course, it all relies on The Joker and The Batman being good movies. I am definitely jumping a bit far ahead of myself.

The Bat is back. And hopefully this time he’s here to stay.

DC Takes A Whole New Approach With “The Joker”

Yesterday, at CinemaCon, Warner Brothers showed the first trailer for an upcoming release – The Joker, which stars Joaquin Phoenix and will open in October. The movie is going to be an origin story for the iconic Batman villain, and will be set in the 80’s, long before the DC universe as we know it: however, this may not be such a bad thing, as the DC universe is currently going through some renovations, to say the least, and the whole idea of a shared universe with all the DC characters is becoming more and more unlikely with every passing day – most recently, the Wonder Woman creative team have made headlines with their repeated statements that their next film, Wonder Woman 1984, won’t be a sequel: it will be a stand-alone film, for the stand-alone Wonder Woman universe, which apparently doesn’t actually exist in the DCEU proper – it’s all getting very confusing. Actually, it’s interesting to note that Wonder Woman 1984 and The Joker both take place in the 80’s, though I doubt there will be any connection. It’s unclear if The Joker will even have any connection to Matt Reeves’ Batman movie, which is still very much a top-secret project.

Anyway. Getting back to The Joker itself: the thing is, this movie clearly doesn’t want to fit into the DCEU at all. Just based from this trailer, we can see that this movie looks to be all the things that, at the moment, the DCEU is steering away from – dark and gritty realism with a dash of the macabre. It only makes sense when dealing with a character like the Joker: unpredictable, dangerous, defying expectations. We see in this trailer, in fact, the makings of a movie so unlike any previous comic book movie that I would not be shocked if it gets nominated for some Oscars next year – of course, it’s far too early to say that for certain, but it is definitely worth keeping an eye on. Black Panther was able to score a nomination for Best Picture this year: could The Joker be the next comic book movie to do so?

It might seem presumptuous to say “yes”, but take a look at this trailer: this is an intricate and profound character study of Arthur Fleck, the man who will become the Joker – there is sadness here, and a grim and unflinching portrait of a man scarred by emotional trauma. This Joker is not stylized or done up to fulfill comic book fans’ expectations: this Joker is stricken to the core by pain and anguish, he is depressed, tortured, on the brink of taking his own life. He has a job as a sign spinner outside a bankrupt store, where he dresses like a clown, intent on bringing “laughter and joy to the world”. He is robbed and beaten up, and even ends up at the Arkham State Hospital, an iconic location in Gotham City.  The locale looks like the New York City of the late 70’s and early 80’s, and its brutality is also reminiscent of that period.

But Arthur Fleck finds purpose in a new life – a life of crime, that gives him the opportunity to be free, careless, independent. He who once ran from the police now hounds them. He who once hid in the shadows now makes a dramatic entrance at a protest, somersaulting down a flight of steps. He who once slouched over, dressed in dark clothes, trudging through the filthy streets, now dons a new outfit: the painted smile, the green wig, the brightly colored suit. He no longer slouches – now, he leaps over taxi-cabs and strides elegantly down hallways, dancing for the great audience all around him, the people of Gotham. “I used to think that my life was a tragedy,” he says. “But now I realize it’s a comedy.”

And the people embrace him and take him as their figurehead in their rebellion against the forces of law and order. This is not a movie about a supervillain, this is a movie about a man who just happens to become a supervillain: it’s almost like historical fiction, uncovering the truth behind this classic character of comic book mythology and delving deep into his troubled psyche.

There is, however, one hint that may or may not indicate a connection to the wider DCEU – there is a scene, near the end of the trailer, of the Joker meeting a young boy, though the two are separated by the bars of a metal gate. This boy may not be the young Bruce Wayne, but there’s a strong chance that he is.

So no, aside from that one hint (that may not even be a hint), The Joker does not have a connection yet to the DCEU. But it doesn’t need one. It is entirely its own thing, its own bizarre and beautiful being, and it stands alone. The DCEU is moving towards being a fun, family-friendly environment – this stands out as a dark, harsh exception. But this movie (at least from the trailer) seems almost to enjoy and embrace its complete uniqueness.

Trailer Rating: 8.5/10

Ezra Miller’s New “Flash” Script

It’s been common knowledge for months now that Warner Brothers is still working out what to do with the DCEU. They’ve experienced a pretty uneven string of hits, mild successes, and epic fails – from the peak of their creative genius, Wonder Woman, to the disastrous Justice League. But last year’s Aquaman proved to be a billion-dollar hurricane at the box-office, and paved the way for a new take on the DCEU – one that is light-hearted, cheesy, over-the-top, and…well, still completely discombobulated. The emphasis now was on making DC movies stand-alone adventures, without trying to tie them into some bigger universe. Gone was the grim-faced Henry Cavill; gone was the dour Ben Affleck; gone was Geoff Johns, the man behind Justice League: gone was the dark and serious tone of the prior DC movies.

And then, today, we learn that Ezra Miller is making one last effort to try and stop DC from going down this path.

Ezra Miller, the actor who has portrayed The Flash in Justice League and Batman vs Superman, is set to star in an origin movie titled The Flash, which should start production later this year. Just the other day, however, we got news that Miller is taking it upon himself to completely rewrite the script for the movie.

Yes, Miller has enlisted the help of author Grant Morrison, and is going against the wishes of Flash writers John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, who currently have a very light-hearted, funny script written for the film, in keeping with Warner Brothers’ new approach to making DC movies. Miller, on the other hand, is writing a much darker, more serious screenplay, and is actually showing incredible bravery in doing so: the official writers don’t seem to be backing this idea, and Miller’s future in the DCEU could be at stake. His script could be submitted as early as next week, which means we will soon learn if a new Flash is coming onboard, and Ezra Miller will be joining the lengthy list of cast and crew members kicked out from the DC franchise.

My feelings are quite conflicted: I do not like this new approach to DC movies, where they all have to be completely stand-alone and ridiculously comical. It works for one or two, like Aquaman, but characters like Wonder Woman would not, in my opinion, benefit from a more humorous approach, and the Flash, even though we’ve only seen him as a funny character, certainly has the capability to be more serious. Ezra Miller has done a great job as the dark and brooding Credence Barebone in the Fantastic Beasts franchise, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s what’s inspired him to rewrite the script – to complement his own expanding talents as much as to help out the DCEU.

So what will happen? I have an uneasy feeling that Ezra Miller’s script probably won’t ever see the light of day, and the Flash will be recast. But maybe…just maybe…there’s a chance that Miller’s script is too good to pass up on, and the movie will end up being a more serious installment in the DCEU. Maybe Miller can initiate a new tonal style for DC movies, who knows? Despite what Warner Brothers likes to claim, none of their “serious” films were all that serious, except Wonder Woman, so this would be a great opportunity to expand the brand.

We should find out next week.