I am not ashamed to say it – I am a film geek, i have been since I was 4 years old and will remain so until I shuffle off this mortal coil to the great cinema in the sky. However, I’ve never been that much into comics –in my youth I dabbled in 2000AD and Dark Horse’s Alien/Predator series, plus I own a couple of Alan Moore graphic novels – but that’s about it.
However since seeing Richard Donner’s Superman in 1978, I have probably watched every single theatrically released superhero film ever made – as a result I feel I am more than qualified to write this article and voice the concerns I have about DC’s upcoming Man of Steel 2 and their proposed Justice League production.
Since the release of Iron Man in 2008, we have been living in an almost golden age of Superhero cinema – this has virtually been down to one studio – Marvel.
Of course DC produced the Dark Knight Trilogy and last years Man of Steel, but its been Kevin Feige and his team at Marvel Studios that have really hit the jackpot, dominating the market with X Men and the quite astounding Avengers characters.
On paper none of this should have worked – lets be honest, 6 years ago, unless you were a massive comic fan you would have had very little idea who Iron Man, Thor or Captain America were – let alone Nick Fury, Black Widow or Hawkeye – or for that matter who the hell the Guardians of The Galaxy are.
But thanks to some serious risk taking (i.e. unusual choice of directors/casting the previously uninsurable RDJ as Tony Stark) and a quite brilliant slow build marketing campaign – Marvel have pulled off the impossible and created a high quality multi billion dollar superhero franchise the likes of which has never been seen. The crowning glory was, of course, the Avengers in 2012 – and continues to this day with the upcoming Captain America 2, X Men Days of Future Past and the aforementioned Guardians of The Galaxy. Ok, it hasn’t been all plain sailing – The Fantastic Four film was awful as was its sequel, X Men 3 and the two stand alone Wolverine’s were a bit iffy, and their track record of character reboots is chequered to say the least – The Punisher has had 3 screen incarnations – all of which fell flat, they only got the Hulk right on the third attempt (and that was down to Joss Whedon) and don’t get me started on Ghost Rider as I’m still trying to get over the monstrosity that was Spirit Of Vengeance.
However Marvel’s hits have far outweighed their failures and this, brings us neatly to DC.
Now, once again, unless you are comic book reader, there are probably only two DC characters that you can name – Batman and Superman. To be fair Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy will stand the test of time as 3 of the greatest films ever made and, despite being too CGI heavy, last years Man Of Steel was very good indeed. The only other character DC recently got to the big screen was The Green Lantern, a horrible SFX driven load of nonsense, featuring an annoying Ryan Reynolds in the title role and Mark Strong with a massive pink forehead – needless to say it was a critical and commercial flop.
Putting it mildly, DC are now a distant second to Marvel, seemingly lacking the same risk taking flair as Marvel and seemingly frightened to try any thing new, they appear to only have Batman and Superman as viable products, resulting in the now in production Man of Steel 2, which for the first time ever will see The Last Son of Krypton face off against Gotham’s Dark Knight.
When this film was announced at the 2013 San Diego Comic Con, the cheers and screams of joy from the assembled audience nearly blew the roof off -some weeks later, this was replaced with hoots of derision and general gnashing of teeth when it was revealed that none other than Ben Affleck would be donning the cowl and cape opposite Henry Cavill’s Supes. In addition, it was recently announced that Fast and Furious’ Gal Gadot had been cast as Wonder Woman, Jeremy Irons would be Alfred Pennyworth and oddly, Zombieland’s Jessie Eisenberg had been tapped for Lex Luthor.
Now none of this bothers me – I personally like Ben Affleck – his output of late has been fantastic and, despite the critical and fan boy kicking he had as Matt Murdock in 2002’s Daredevil – I actually thought he did a pretty good job. I have no opinion ether way on Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, and whilst the casting of Jessie Eisenberg as Lex Luthor seems odd, it will certainly be interesting to see what he does with the role.
But that folks is where my enthusiasm for this film stops. Granted the whole thing seems interesting and I will be the first in the queue to see it when its released in 2016. However here are my 5 reasons why Man of Steel 2 and the already mooted Justice League movie are potentially very bad ideas – none of which have anything to do with the cast:
- The Avengers was too good -Literally millions of people saw Joss Whedon’s 2012 masterwork – adding up to the fact that audiences will be very cynical about another multi character super hero film coming out so soon, one can almost hear the cries of “rip off” and “shameless cash in” already.
- Batman vs Superman/Justice League is happening too fast. It took four years, five inter weaving films, a lot of planning and a great deal of very clever end credit teasing to get to the Avengers – DC just seem to be ploughing ahead with an almost in your face sledgehammer approach that smacks of urgent desperation to capitalise on Marvel’s success.
- Zack Snyder – Don’t get me wrong Snyder has made some smashing films – 300 is incredibly entertaining, Watchmen was a damn good adaptation of a previously thought unfilmable graphic novel and his Dawn of The Dead remake was outstanding. The problem is that, very much like George Lucas and James Cameron, his films lack a bit of humour, his scripts are no where near as sharp as Joss Whedon’s and he uses too much green screen and CGI. So Zack if you want to succeed– my advice is to do what Joss would and focus on character and inject a few laughs.
- Plausibility – Superman and Batman have featured many in multiple separate films – so the idea of two very well known , good guy heroes ending up battling each other in the same universe just doesn’t seem plausible – just a bit – well – silly.
- Batman – For me this is the major flaw of the whole thing. The main question is – how do you bring anything new to a character that has been rebooted twice already and played by 4 different actors?
The Affleck Batman is supposed to be totally unrelated to both the Chris Nolan and Tim Burton films. They cant squeeze in an origin story as Man of Steel 2 would end up being too long, and without one no one will have any clue as to what incarnation of the character he is supposed to be – most will wrongly think he is a continuation of Nolan’s version, others will just be confused. The Dark Knight Trilogy concluded Batman almost definitively, and the only way to plausibly bring him back in Man of Steel 2 was to bring back the Christian Bale version as we saw in Nolan’s films or continue with TDKR’s Robin as played by Joseph Gordon Levitt. – this of course is not the case and is the main reason why Superman vs Batman may well not work.
Of course I sincerely hope im wrong, no one loves a good blockbuster more than me and I never like to see any film flop. I will be very interested to see what the final movie looks like, no doubt it will be entertaining and make millions for DC – but unless Messrs’ Snyder and Nolan can capture the same magic Marvel have done to such amazing effect so many times – this really could be as bad for DC as the disaster that was Batman and Robin – and that my friends is a very sobering thought.
I invite any rebuttals to the above from my fellow film fans – no doubt my erstwhile friend Mr Phillip Hobden will have something to say on the matter…
Writer: Will Strong