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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
What Barbara Ann Minerva has done is somehow steal the spotlight in the second official trailer for Wonder Woman 1984, released today at the opening panel of the online DC Fandome event. Even with the epic trailer showcasing new scenes of Wonder Woman herself, all eyes are on one thing: Barbara Ann Minerva, and her grisly transformation into the apex predator she’s always dreamed of becoming – the animalistic supervillain Cheetah.
How could she not be the main focus of this trailer? For months, we’ve been waiting eagerly to catch any official glimpse of her look, and relished all the merchandise leaks that have given us hints: but nothing beats the real deal. And even though her scenes in this trailer are darkly-lit (making me question whether her design is still being worked on behind-the-scenes?), there’s enough here to make it obvious that she will be a formidable villain to Wonder Woman, armed with fearsome claws, super-strength, incredible stamina and agility, and a feral bloodlust for power. In fact, as much as we all love Wonder Woman and want to see her take the lead, it’s hard not to watch this trailer and wonder whether Barbara Ann Minerva’s tragic story will form the emotional core of this hotly-anticipated upcoming DC movie.
Wonder Woman 1984 will tackle many issues, some of which are alarmingly relevant today: the main conflict comes from Maxwell Lord, a charismatic con-man (intentionally modeled off a younger Donald Trump) selling lies, empty promises and cursed gifts to the gullible, with both Wonder Woman and Barbara Ann Minerva being ensnared by his spell. But whereas Wonder Woman presumably gets a reunion with Steve Trevor, the former love of her life, as part of her bargain with Lord, Barbara Ann Minerva gets superpowers which put her on equal footing with her arch-nemesis but have the side-effect of turning her into a horrific animal/human hybrid. When I say “horrific”, I mean that in a good way…not in, like, a Cats way. It’s difficult to say when she’ll obtain her powers, however, because most of her action scenes (such as her fight with Wonder Woman in the hallways of the White House) have her wearing an extremely fashionable cheetah-print jacket and high-heeled boots, complemented by a messy mane of blond curls. That and her black evening attire when she strolls into high-society for the first time are still her best looks, based on what we’ve seen so far.
But while it’s Cheetah that has captured my attention, there are other standout moments in this trailer: we once again see Wonder Woman lassoing lightning and swinging through the clouds, but she has tranquil, emotional beats with Steve Trevor as well (walking past the Washington Monument in what is sure to be a lovely romantic scene), and the duo are just as humorous as ever – Steve Trevor, a man out of time, is clearly having a hard time adjusting to 80’s fashion norms, though if anyone can rock a fanny-pack and parachute pants, it’s him. There’s more footage from the gravity-defying Amazon Olympics on Themiscyra, a sequence which I’m sure must have some significance to Wonder Woman’s arc, but for now just looks really cool.
The trailer is lacking just one thing, and that’s a catchy, era-appropriate song choice. It’s not too major a problem, but it does feel like a downgrade after the first trailer‘s brilliant use of an electronic instrumental rendition of “Blue Monday” by New Order.
So how are we feeling, DC fans? Share your own thoughts, theories and opinions in the comments below!
SPOILERS FOR HARLEY QUINN SEASON 2 AND SHE-RA SEASON 5!
Happy Pride Month! As we begin to celebrate the history and culture of the LGBTQ+ community, I thought it would be interesting to look at what the community has accomplished already in 2020, through the mediums of TV and film. Though coronavirus has prevented many inclusive films from making it to theaters this year, there are still plenty that did get there before the world went on lockdown, and many more that have released on streaming. For this breakdown, we’ll be looking at the setbacks the LGBTQ+ community suffered early in the year, and three outstanding breakthroughs in representation that both occurred just last month which could signal big changes in the industry.
Of course, I should note that this is not, by any means, a comprehensive list of every film or TV series released this year that touches on any of these issues – this is merely a discussion of some especially significant incidents spanning the course of the past several months, which I feel present a fairly accurate depiction of the year’s many ups and downs as a whole.
In February, Marvel’s rival DC had a golden opportunity to explicitly confirm that one of their most major characters was canonically LGBTQ+ – but instead, their hyped-up zany comedy Birds Of Prey danced around the issue of sexuality, giving only eagle-eyed viewers a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it nod to lead character Harley Quinn’s bisexuality in an animated sequence, while simultaneously hinting through stereotypical mannerisms that flamboyant, misogynistic villain Roman Sionis and his partner-in-crime were a gay couple. A lesbian character in the film, Renee Montoya, did play a large role and had an ex-girlfriend who also showed up, which makes Birds Of Prey something of a “one step forward, two steps backward” sort of situation.
Around the same time, the Disney+ streaming platform came under fire for a slew of reasons, most of which involved the service’s attempts to whittle down their roster of upcoming original content in a manner which many saw as discriminatory towards series’ with a focus on LGBTQ+ issues. While Disney+ didn’t do this with all of their shows (High School Musical: The Musical: The Series and Diary Of A Future President both featured openly LGBTQ+ characters), they did make the decision to move their hotly-anticipated Love, Victor (a spinoff of 20th Century Fox’s successful gay romance Love, Simon, obtained during the Disney/Fox merger) to Hulu, deeming it too mature for their own platform. One of the service’s most high-profile original series’, a sequel to the Lizzie McGuire Disney Channel series, was shut down entirely – with some sources saying that it was due to the way in which the story tackled matters of sexuality. It didn’t take long before the whole situation had raised a very interesting discussion about what is “family-friendly”, but that hasn’t saved Love, Victor from heading to Hulu, nor has it resurrected Lizzie McGuire.
In March, as the world started falling apart thanks to coronavirus, the Pixar film Onward was lost in the catastrophe, and moviegoers barely had any time to acknowledge the fantastic animated feature or its moment of LGBTQ+ representation – a moment that would have been great, had it not been leaked to the press by eager journalists prior to the film’s release and subsequently massively overhyped. In the film, a cop played by openly lesbian actress Lena Waithe briefly mentions her girlfriend in a single line of dialogue. Despite how brief the moment was, the film was still boycotted by conservative groups like One Million Moms and banned by several Middle Eastern nations.
Within a few weeks, the coronavirus had already caused major shifts in the film industry: films were being reshuffled across the board, movie theaters around the globe were shutting down and studios were hurrying to push all their upcoming or recently released content onto streaming. Unfortunately, one notable victim of all the release date rearrangements was Marvel’s The Eternals, a film already remarkable for its diverse cast. The superhero epic directed by Asian-American indie icon Chloe Zhao is set to feature the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first gay couple, and was supposed to release in November of this year. Sadly, the film has now been pushed back to February of 2021, meaning we will have to wait even longer before we can find out what Lebanese actor Haaz Sleiman was talking about when he said that there’s a gay kiss in the film that’s so emotional it made people on-set begin crying. Another Disney film, Jungle Cruise, was delayed an entire year, and will now be opening in summer, 2021: though it’s been invisible in the film’s marketing so far, Jungle Cruise is supposed to introduce Disney Studios’ first openly gay character – which is already somewhat controversial, as Disney couldn’t even be bothered to find an openly gay actor to play the role, rumors say that the character’s depiction is “hugely effete”, and test screenings apparently revealed that the character has a coming out scene in which he never actually states that he is LGBTQ+. Perhaps a delay for that movie wouldn’t be a bad thing, as it could allow them to do some much-needed reshoots.
But not everything has been all gloom and doom. The past month has introduced a wave of new representation: some of it from DC Universe, some from Netflix, some, most shockingly, from Disney+ – all of it through the form of animation.
In the first instance, DC Universe’s Harley Quinn animated series rectified Birds Of Prey‘s glaring omission by adhering to comics canon and having Harley Quinn and fellow Gotham City supervillain Poison Ivy begin a tentative relationship, which has even resulted in the two sharing a kiss. The duo now have to sort out their messy, complicated feelings for each other, and that’s great. It’s the first time the relationship, which was wildly popular in the comics, has been represented onscreen – and fans are already enjoying the canonization of the pairing, which they have labeled “Harlivy”.
However, something that sets Harley Quinn apart is that the series is exclusively for adults, meaning that its audience is necessarily limited. That’s not a problem that faces Netflix and DreamWorks, whose collaboration on the animated reboot of She-Ra And The Princesses Of Power is something that can be enjoyed by all ages – the fifth and final season premiered on the streaming service just recently, and made the hopes and dreams of the series’ many LGBTQ+ fans finally come true when lead characters Adora (a.k.a. She-Ra, Princess of Power) and Catra rekindled their friendship: which turned into a slow-burn romance, which culminated in the two confessing their love for each other in the series finale, kissing, and saving the world with the power of love. That, my friends, is representation done right – because as much as I enjoy seeing “casual” representation (such as the cop from Onward, who simply mentions her girlfriend without making it a big deal), I infinitely prefer seeing characters whose sexuality or gender identity is something that actually helps to define who they are. And with Adora and Catra, whose relationship has been at the heart of She-Ra for all five seasons, it made complete sense that their love would play a huge part in the conclusion to the story – and it did, because showrunner Noelle Stevenson is a brave, brilliant genius, who fought to make sure that she wouldn’t have to pull a Legend Of Korra on her fans and just have Adora and Catra hold hands and/or gaze platonically at each other.
Finally, we have to talk about Out. Though Disney+ is still new and working out many of its flaws, they did just recently make a big step forward – or rather, Pixar did it for them and Disney+ gets to take the credit: Out, the newest of Pixar’s animated Sparkshorts which debuted exclusively on the streaming platform, follows a gay man in an interracial relationship as he struggles to come out to his parents. Even though the story involves an unpredictable magical mishap and a lot of dog humor, it never loses sight of its true focus, which is a heartwarming message of acceptance. The short, which clocks in at around nine minutes long, is an understated milestone, becoming the first Pixar story to star a gay lead – and much to its credit, enjoyed a spot on Disney+’s top trending section, which shows that audiences are curious and eager for more content like this.
And so, as we head into Pride Month coming off of small successes like Harley Quinn, She-Ra and Out, I must ask of all my readers that you keep fighting for change in any way you can: whether that means demanding more LGBTQ+ representation from Hollywood, or protesting police brutality because black lives matter – or, preferably, by doing both. One day, we will see that change, and it will come from people like you. 2020 is a wake-up call for all of us: to fight harder. To do better.