It’s been a good year for Emerald Fennell. Coming off two Emmy Award nominations for her work as head writer on Killing Eve‘s second season, the multitalented British actress has skyrocketed to fame thanks to a major role in Netflix’s The Crown, followed by her feature film directorial debut with Promising Young Woman; a revenge thriller seeped in social commentary that has sparked heated discourse while scooping up nominations and wins at every prestigious awards ceremony – including five Oscar noms, three for Fennell herself. She probably doesn’t stand a chance against the awards-season juggernaut that is Chloé Zhao’s Nomadland, but either way, she and Zhao will be fine – they’re both now attached to major superhero franchises.
Fennell, it is reported, will write the script for a Zatanna solo film set in the DC Extended Universe and produced by J.J. Abrams as part of his overall deal with Warner Brothers to specifically help bring characters from DC Comics’ Justice League Dark roster to the big screen. Currently, Fennell is only set to write the film, not direct, but hopefully she’s given enough creative freedom and input to leave her distinctive stamp on the final product: if anyone can give Zatanna the adaptation she deserves, it’s Fennell. Promising Young Woman has all the eccentric flair, dark humor, and gloriously campy production design I’d hope to see from a film centering DC’s best magical character.
Zatanna Zatara is a classic stage magician and illusionist, whose character builds on every antiquated trope associated with the business: from the magic wand, to the flowing cape, tarot cards, and top hat (which, in Zatanna’s case, doubles as a gateway to other dimensions). Descended from sorcerers and alchemists dating as far back as Nostradamus, Leonardo da Vinci, and Nicholas Flamel, Zatanna belongs to the race of Homo Magi, who possess the innate ability to cast spells by speaking backwards (and are therefore susceptible to throat injuries). But while Zatanna’s magic makes her one of DC’s most powerful beings, theoretically capable of overpowering Superman, she’s at her best while working alongside gritty characters.
Batman and Catwoman are frequent allies/opponents of hers, a result of living just outside Gotham in a magically-guarded mansion named Shadowcrest, but Zatanna’s strongest allegiance is to the team of sorcerers known as Justice League Dark. Formed by Madame Xanadu to guard earth from supernatural threats, the team goes through many iterations, with Wonder Woman even leading it at one point – while possessed by the fragmented spirit of Hecate, the Greek goddess of witchcraft. Zatanna has an on-and-off relationship with her teammate, John Constantine (who is in the process of being cast for an HBO Max series following the occult detective’s own adventures).
With witches all the rage right now, it makes sense to finally elevate Zatanna to big-screen status, after having previously only appeared in live-action once on the CW. There is currently no actress attached to star in the lead role, although the internet is abuzz with fan-casting. My personal suggestions are British-Indian actress Anya Chalotra, who flawlessly portrayed the sorceress Yennefer in The Witcher‘s first season, and Pakistani-Indian actress Jameela Jamil – who’s already a member of the DC family thanks to a small role in the Harley Quinn animated series. If the film is more serious in tone, Chalotra’s quiet intensity would be a good fit for the role – but Jamil would nail a more irreverent, humorous interpretation.
As a third choice and a bit of a curveball, I’ll also throw Lady Gaga’s name into the mix, because she’s an Oscar-nominated actress who shares the character’s Italian heritage from the comics, and would certainly bring the campiness I want, as well as the kind of star power that could make this a true event film for general audiences. It feels a bit too much like stunt-casting, to be honest, but I’d be open to the idea.
So what do you think? Who are your top fan-casts for the role of Zatanna, and how do you want to see the character brought to life? Share your own thoughts, theories, and opinions, in the comments below!
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.
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.
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.
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.
There’s a small but memorable scene in Wonder Woman 1984 in which the film’s major antagonist, Maxwell Lord (the irresistibly charming Pedro Pascal), having just worked his dark magic on the President of the United States and sparked an all-out nuclear war with the Soviet Union, tries to escape from an altercation at the White House only to find himself awkwardly handcuffed to Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), Wonder Woman’s quick-thinking sidekick and lover. I bring this up because it’s representative of the film overall, which handcuffs itself to Pine’s Trevor and stubbornly sticks to him even as his very presence in the story demands that the entire plot revolve around him and not the lead character. The only way this metaphor could have been made even stronger would be if Wonder Woman herself were handcuffed to Trevor in this scene to reflect the film’s inability to give independence or agency to its female characters.
Make no mistake, I loved Pine in the first film – and I adored the mature, elegant romance between him and Diana Prince (Gal Gadot): which was written in such a way that both characters could be strong and vulnerable with each other, and both had equal footing – with Diana clearly and effortlessly remaining the lead. Trevor’s death in Wonder Woman was a heartbreaking and powerful moment that allowed us all to see the good in humanity. And yet he’s back in Wonder Woman 1984, nearly a century after his death in World War I, doing pretty well for a guy whom we last saw get blown to bits in mid-air. Prior to the film’s release, I was as excited as anyone to see him return: in hindsight, I’m beginning to realize how foolish it was to ever attempt something that could so easily go so wrong…and did.
It’s blasphemous to even suggest, I know. The first film relied so heavily on that spark of chemistry between the two actors and their characters. But Wonder Woman 1984 had the means to substitute that timeless pairing for another one that could have been just as well-written and well-received, if director Patty Jenkins and her team of screenwriters hadn’t decided to resurrect Steve Trevor for one last lackluster hurrah: because let me tell you, everything that’s bad about this film’s flawed script, from the convoluted globe-trotting adventure to the random interlude with a Mayan shaman, feels to me like the inevitable side-effect of having to devise an excuse for how Steve was even able to come back at all.
And with the return of Steve Trevor, Diana herself gets sidelined in a story that seems almost uninterested in her as an individual. She’s got nowhere left to go and nothing new to learn, essentially. A vague theme about the importance of being true to yourself is woven throughout the film, but it’s not exactly an urgent message that Diana personally has to embrace, unlike the first film’s timely reminder to believe in the goodness of people. She was being true to herself anyway, before Steve randomly came back into her life and took over her entire storyline (oh, the parallels to Avengers: Endgame). I mean, it’s really a shame there was no way to weave this message more cleverly into the plot and romantic subplot by…oh I don’t know, making this a queer love story?
Just as DC preceded Marvel in the department of successful female-led superhero movies, many of us had hoped they’d be the first to give us a proudly and openly LGBTQ+ superheroine onscreen in the form of Diana Prince (Harley Quinn was vaguely bisexual in Birds Of Prey, and a supervillain anyway). We’ve known for some time that wouldn’t be the case, with Patty Jenkins confirming that wasn’t the story she wanted to tell. But what we get instead is a film that tiptoes around even the possibility of a same-sex romance as clumsily as Barbara Ann Minerva (Kristen Wiig) strides around the Smithsonian in high heels. Now, to be fair, most of the romantic tension between Diana and Barbara is more a result of the palpable chemistry between the two actresses (the quiet, ethereal Gadot and sparky, exuberant Wiig complimenting each other very nicely), rather than necessarily indicative of anything intentionally written into the script, but at the same time…come on. Both Diana and Barbara are canonically bisexual in DC Comics, and you’re telling me Patty Jenkins didn’t know what she was doing by casting a romantic filter over their awkwardly flirtatious lunch overlooking the Washington Monument, or having Barbara tumble into Diana’s arms in a subversion of a dated Hollywood romantic trope? It’s queerbaiting that only serves to underscore the fact that the rest of the movie is, in the words of one of my favorite reviewers, Valerie Complex; “aggressively heteronormative”.
To the surprise of absolutely no one, the scenes that center women are the highlights of the film: from those early interactions between Diana and Barbara, to the epic prologue action sequence on the Amazonian isle of Themyscira, to a cheeky and delightful mid-credits scene. But none of these isolated scenes make up for the fact that the character arcs of both female leads in Wonder Woman 1984 (one of those female leads being a literal icon of feminism) revolve almost entirely around men. For Diana, that’s Chris Pine’s Steve, who returns with the help of an incredibly convenient plot device and plays fish-out-of-water for a while…a really long while, during an excruciating montage that exists solely to trot out every semi-nostalgic 80’s cultural trope you can imagine. Pine is still perfectly likable and has some laugh-out-loud line deliveries, but never truly recaptures what made his character so special – and thus feels like a burden the film must carry.
For Barbara Ann Minerva, it’s Pedro Pascal’s Maxwell Lord – who is quite an interesting character, despite being surprisingly little like the young Donald Trump we all assumed he would be based on the promotional material. An oil tycoon with his eye on a legendary ancient wishing stone forged by the Gods, Lord seduces the world with his voice and power to make the impossible possible. He’s got Trumpian elements to his character, of course (among the more obvious examples: he yells “You’re hired!” at one point), but his motivations are relatable, and his charm genuine. Pascal also just oozes the kind of unshakably consistent charisma that can turn a silent, faceless gunslinger into a beloved icon, or make a dumpster fire of a movie like We Can Be Heroes shockingly entertaining.
Minerva herself does get to transform into the anthropomorphic Cheetah we know from the comics, and the CGI isn’t entirely awful as she flails about in her dimly-lit third-act duel with Diana (or perhaps Diana’s Golden Eagle armor is so distractingly awful I didn’t notice), but she deserved to be the major antagonist of this film, and not merely Maxwell’s loyal henchwoman. I’m also afraid that Wiig’s excellent dramatic performance and thrilling action sequences will be overshadowed in the larger fandom discourse.
Apart from Wiig’s notable fights (particularly her brutal takedown of a drunk man who continually harasses her on her jogging route), the action in Wonder Woman 1984 is fairly slight, with the only other standout being the prologue on Themyscira, where the Amazons compete for honor and glory in a series of challenges that test their physical abilities. If Jenkins is going to commit to having Diana only use her Lasso of Truth as a weapon (an idea I actually really like, as it reflects the character’s refusal to kill), she just has to find better ways to incorporate it into action scenes, because it can too easily come off as overly ridiculous.
Jenkins did make other “campy” elements from the character’s mythology work for Wonder Woman 1984, though, including Cheetah (doesn’t matter if she’s dressing up as a cat, or literally morphing into one: it’s still a hilariously campy concept), and the Invisible Jet – which comes about through a bizarre but acceptable deus ex machina. Unlike Shazam, this film isn’t trying to be goofy or funny: it still takes itself very seriously, and thus comes across as uniquely earnest for a superhero movie. In some ways, I’d say that’s one of several ways in which the movie evokes real 80’s adventure movies: both the good and the bad. The heightened sense of adventure, the not-so-great CGI you’re willing to excuse because everything happening onscreen is just so much fun, and the outdated perceptions of women and foreign nations that make us cringe deeply in our souls (we just need to collectively stop letting white American directors write North African and Middle Eastern nations into their scripts, because they’ve proven they’re not up to the task of handling those nations and their individual cultures at all well).
There’s still plenty of hope for the Wonder Woman franchise in the near future. We’re not dealing with another Crimes Of Grindelwald here (although the box-office reception would seem to disagree). But the divisive audience reactions and legitimate criticisms of Wonder Woman 1984 should hopefully alert Warner Brothers to the need to put this series back on track with better screenwriters and a stronger, more cohesive focus on women as individuals with their own storylines….even (and especially) if that means no more Steve Trevor.
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.
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.
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!
Yes, this is really happening. Diana Prince, the world’s one and only Wonder Woman, has officially returned in the first trailer for her long-awaited sequel movie, Wonder Woman 1984.
The trailer finds Diana living her best life in the 1980’s, far removed from the horrors of warfare that she braved and defied in her origin movie: elegant and mature, she’s now a wine-sipping, evening gown-wearing celebrity with a fancy apartment in Washington D.C., and easy access to the flashy, vibrant world of the rich and famous. She’s got new friends, including the quirky, clumsy Barbara Ann Minerva, and new enemies, like Pedro Pascal as a charming but suspicious businessman and motivational speaker named Maxwell Lord (more on both these characters in a moment). And of course, she’s joined once again by the love of her life, Steve Trevor, who appears as if by magic to dance with her at a party – there’s no explanation yet for how he’s miraculously returned from the dead, but I think the trailer gives us plenty of clues.
But first: the 80’s. There’s been a lot of tension in the DC fandom recently about whether or not it’s a mistake to take the normally serious and epic character of Wonder Woman and place her in a time period so often associated with…well, shoulder pads and bangles. But Diana fits perfectly in this era – not only when she’s living it up in the big city, but also when she’s going full 80’s action hero: lassoing bad guys in the White House, swinging from lightning bolts (she is the daughter of Zeus, after all), and blowing up an entire caravan of heavily-armored military trucks. So everybody who was worried that a 1984 setting meant cheesy comedy and nauseatingly bright colors can cool it – this movie has the best of both worlds. Incredible action and techno music.
And who will she be fighting? Surprisingly, we still don’t have any idea what Barbara Ann Minerva will look like as the anthropomorphic super-villain Cheetah (though she does sport a lavish cheetah-print outfit at one point: a far cry from her other appearance in the trailer, which has her wearing giant round glasses and a rather bizarre hairstyle). But we do get a long look at Maxwell Lord, who also has a wide range of stylistic choices in these two minutes: he’s a dapper, sickly sweet collector of ancient artifacts, who has the power to make dreams come true – rumor has it that he will grant Barbara Ann’s wish to be a superhuman, and Diana’s personal, unspoken wish to be reunited with Steve Trevor.
As for Steve and Diana, their romance is still just as strong as ever, and they have a couple of cute moments – riding in Diana’s invisible jet and visiting museums together (Steve Trevor not being able to tell modern art apart from garbage cans is very relatable). But the focus is all on the woman herself, and her new, impressive suit of golden armor, which comes with unfolding wings. She doesn’t even need a Godkiller sword at this point, because she just is the weapon. Diana’s really out here about to rock this world to its core, and I don’t know if we as a society are ready for that.
Scratch that – I am. June 5th can’t come soon enough.
So what do you think of the trailer? Share your thoughts, theories and opinions in the comments below!
Yikes. The movie that has been sparking universal controversy and uproar since its release in early October is still stirring up trouble, this time leading to a feud between two of the biggest entertainment news trades in Hollywood – quite appropriate for a movie about the Clown Prince of Crime.
This time, the inciting incident was an article by The Hollywood Reporter, which claimed that The Joker director Todd Phillips is looking to team up with star Joaquin Phoenix once again to film a sequel to the R-rated villain origin story which grossed over a billion dollars at the box office and is gaining slow traction in awards season races. Phillips and Phoenix had both previously discussed not wanting to do a sequel because it would ruin their artistic vision – that seems to have changed when the film crossed into the billion-dollar club, landing Phillips himself a paycheck somewhere in the range of $100 million. THR added that on October 7th, mere days after Joker opened in theaters, Phillips met with Warner Bros. Pictures Group chairman Toby Emmerich and pitched an idea that Emmerich rejected: that Phillips should be given the ability to develop origin movies for an entire rogue’s gallery of classic DC Comics villains (THR specifically referenced the dictatorial Darkseid and power-hungry businessman Lex Luthor as possible examples). While Phillips’ idea appears to have been a bit too extreme for the studio, it is said he walked away from the meeting with the rights to “at least one other DC story”. All this seems pretty standard so far: it’s unsurprising that Phillips would want to direct a sequel to the smash hit, and it’s not even all that surprising that he thinks he’s entitled to take over the entire DC villain roster.
But soon after, Deadline fired back with a vicious piece that used the words “great click bait” to refer to the Hollywood Reporter’s earlier story. According to their sources, no Joker sequel is being discussed at this stage. And that’s not all. I quote: “the linchpin of today’s THR story – that a week after Joker’s opening, Phillips met with Warner Bros film chief Toby Emmerich to pitch a portfolio of DC character origin stories – is as flat false as earlier stories that Martin Scorsese contemplated directing the first Joker”.
Okay, this isn’t really relevant to the rest of the story, but this is what Martin Scorsese had to say about those “flat as false” rumors, in an interview with Variety earlier this month: “[I] thought about it a lot over the past four years…I decided that I didn’t have the time to do it”. Marty went on to complain about how he didn’t want to direct it because he didn’t feel comfortable making a movie about a comic book character, etc, etc, you’ve heard all that before, I’m sure.
Leaving aside that glaring error in Deadline’s reporting, the lack of professionalism from the respected trade is shocking and dismaying – is this the malevolent work of the Joker at play, turning Hollywood news agencies against each other? Is it an act of pettiness on Deadline’s part, because THR broke the story first? The bigger, more important question is: which one is actually right? Is Todd Phillips going to be placed in charge of the DC’s villains department or not? Will we have to endure several more years of Joker-induced chaos?
Not long after Deadline’s article came out, poor little Variety showed up with their own piece, which is basically being ignored by everybody: in it, they say that the truth lies somewhere in the middle: Phillips has met with Toby Emmerich to discuss a sequel to Joker, but no other DC villain origin films are being planned, and Phillips would be too busy directing Joker 2 (if true) to direct those other films, anyway.
As of right now, that’s all I have to say about this strangely chaotic story. But I’m posing the question to you, dear readers: what’s really going on at the DC right now, and who’s directing what? Would you be interested in a Joker sequel? Would you be interested in origin stories for other DC villains? Share your thoughts and theories in the comments below!
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.
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!
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!
Harley Quinn is back and better than ever in the first trailer for Birds Of Prey, which sees her and a few of the other emancipated women of Gotham getting together to wreak havoc on the city with glamour, glitter and gunfights. DCEU fans have been eagerly anticipating this first official trailer for weeks, and now, finally, we have it. So does it live up to expectations?
I say, yes. The movie looks absolutely crazy, but in the best way possible: irreverent, reckless, and irresponsible, Margot Robbie’s take on the character of Harley Quinn is a far cry (a canary cry? bad Birds of Prey pun, I know) from her comics counterpart, one of Batman’s most dangerous and sinister villains – but she’s possibly better. And without any Batman in sight, Quinn is free to roam through Gotham on roller-skates, robbing, vandalizing and basically having a good time – she compares her crime spree to a sleepover party at one point in the trailer, and even suggests that she and her henchwomen should order pizza.
In fact, Harley Quinn’s only companions these days are two very large hyenas, and the other women in the Birds of Prey team, who get about ten seconds of screentime each in this trailer – though that’s more coverage than they’ve gotten in the film’s promotional material, which has focused exclusively on Harley herself. Black Canary, Huntress, Renee Montoya and Cassandra Cain, the other members of the group, look a bit more like extra cannon fodder for fight scenes, as does, rather surprisingly, the villain Black Mask (played by Ewan McGregor!). So while the full title of this movie is (*clears throat*) Birds Of Prey And The Fantabulous Emancipation Of One Harley Quinn, you could probably lop off the first part of that hefty moniker without much issue. This is Harley’s world, and, for better or worse, the supporting cast is just passing through it.
Nevertheless, the fight scenes, in which the other Birds of Prey will probably have their few and far-between moments to shine, look spectacular and dazzlingly unique. We’ve got chase scenes through shopping centers, roller-derby action sequences, and one peculiar but beautifully shot dance hall fight in which Margot Robbie gets to channel her inner Marilyn Monroe for a musical number. There’s humor, wit, and empowerment. Harley, armed with her oversized mallet and psychotic impulses, is officially back in business, and ready to take down the patriarchy.
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!
Not long ago, I reported that Ezra Miller, star of Justice League and Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, was still set to play the speedy superhero, The Flash, in an upcoming Flash solo movie. Months ago, Miller’s future in the franchise had been put in jeopardy when he broke ranks with his directors, John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, in order to write a new, edgier script for the movie, which he thought was too light-hearted.
Now, Warner Brothers have decided to place their bets on Miller, kicking Daley and Goldstein unceremoniously off the project. On the other hand, they’ve already decided not to move forward with Miller’s script either, but have instead chosen to start over from scratch (again), enlisting Christina Hodson, writer of Bumblebee and Birds of Prey, to redo the movie. Miller will still play the Flash, but he’s not calling the shots anymore. This whole situation is so confusing.
It gets weirder when we consider that Warner Brothers is (maybe?) still going for a darker take on the story, such as Miller was advocating, since they’ve hired horror directors Andy and Barbara Muschietti to take the reins from Daley and Goldstein. Then again, maybe not, since James Wan also came from the horror genre, but made Aquaman into one hilarious, family-friendly comedy, and the same occurred with David Sandberg, who switched gears from horror to humor, directing the DC’s most recent film, Shazam: and then we’ve got Jaume Collet-Serra, another horror director, coming over to the DC to direct Black Adam. It’s almost like the DCEU, or more specifically, DC president Walter Hamada, producer of multiple horror films, has a bias. At this point, Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins has to score a big hit with her upcoming sequel to the 2017 hit, or she’s going to be replaced by another of Hamada’s own friends.
Anyway, I’m not trying to be a downer or anything…but, seriously, how many directors is this movie going to go through before it gets to be too much? How many scripts are going to be written? How does Ezra Miller somehow escape each of these purges by the skin of his teeth? What is going on behind the scenes? Filming dates have also changed, with cameras expected to start rolling on The Flash in January of next year…which, um, is going to conflict with Miller’s filming for Fantastic Beasts 3, if I’m not mistaken? Or does this mean Fantastic Beasts 3 is getting pushed back again?
Ezra Miller’s promising career has kind of run up against a brick wall this year – his two biggest upcoming projects, in J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding Worldand the DC Extended Universe, have both been stuck in some sort of…well, we can’t even call it “development hell” because neither has even made it into development yet! The Fantastic Beasts franchise is busy sending out S.O.S signals and frantically rearranging its schedule, with the release date for the series’ third entry having been pushed back to November of 2021. Miller’s DC solo movie, Flashpoint (or just The Flash, it doesn’t technically have a title yet) has been slowly drifting off into hazy forgetfulness for years, with random outbursts of news popping up every now and again to remind us that, maybe, someday, this movie might have a slim chance of possibly happening.
Earlier this year, there was huge breaking news that Ezra Miller was not only still making that movie, but had taken it upon himself to rewrite the entire script with the help of comic-book author Grant Morrison. The rumor, which began circulating on March 15th, suggested that Miller’s new script could be submitted to Warner Brothers Studios, and I quote, “as early as next week”.
And, uh, yeah…that apparently never happened.
What makes it even weirder is that, after the deafening silence from Miller, DC, and Warner Brothers the week after that report surfaced, there continued to be precisely no news about the film in the months since. Miller’s contract with DC was said to expire in May, at which point the actor would either have to renegotiate his deal or part ways with the role of the Flash – not something that seemed likely, considering that Miller claimed to be deeply committed to making sure the movie happened. Well, May came and went, and there was still no word about what Miller was up to: had he submitted his script, against the wishes of his own directors, John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein? Had they persuaded him to abandon his idea and end his partnership with Morrison? Did Miller’s expire? Is he still playing the Flash? Is the Flash even still happening?
The story is still very patchy and incomplete, and there’s obviously a lot of stuff going on behind the scenes: because now, according to one vague sentence in a brief piece on Miller’s gender-fluidity by Variety, Miller “will get his DC Universe stand alone film as soon as he wraps up his work on the “Harry Potter” spinoff series “Fantastic Beasts”.
So…um, I guess he’s still onboard?
What’s not clear is whether Miller’s script – a darker take on the source material than that being used by his directors – has been adopted for the film, or whether the actor has been forced back in line. It would seem that he’s renegotiated his deal, at the very least. And it looks like The Flash is still happening? Unfortunately, it’s clearly not happening anytime soon: Miller’s responsibility to the Fantastic Beasts franchise will probably keep him occupied through most of early 2020, as he shoots Fantastic Beasts 3.
The article, though, doesn’t say Fantastic Beasts 3 – it refers to the entire Fantastic Beasts franchise, which gives me some reason to worry. Now, it could mean one of three things: (a) the article is simply worded oddly: Variety is usually reliable, but they did also reference an upcoming Justice League sequel in an article not too long ago about Ben Affleck – needless to say, there is no upcoming Justice League sequel and never has been. (b) the article is being literal, and implies that Miller will have to finish filming the last three Fantastic Beasts movies before he can move on to playing the Flash, in which case we’re going to have to wait a very long time for that movie, or (c), the most dreadful possibility, the article is being literal, and Fantastic Beasts 3 is indeed the end of the franchise: unfortunately, it’s not out of the realm of possibility, with the way that the second film in the series, The Crimes of Grindelwald, drastically underperformed at the box-office, and failed to resonate with critics or audiences.
I’m really hoping that it means nothing, and just boils down to a faulty editor or a careless writer.
But whatever it means for the Wizarding World, it looks like Miller’s future with the DCEU is…safe, I guess? He hasn’t been publicly let go, at least. Whatever is going on with the script behind the scenes, it looks like the Flash is still making his way…slowly…to the big screen.