Category Archives: Movies

Kevin Feige Named Marvel’s Chief Creative Officer

Marvel logo

From the “House of Ideas” to the “House of Feige.”

Kevin Feige‘s influence within the Marvel world, and Disney, grows as he’s been named the company’s Chief Creative Officer. All of the company’s key creative executives across film and TV will now report to him.

In this role, Feige will be in charge of the creative direction for Marvel’s storytelling. That includes publishing, film, TV, and animation.

Dan Buckley, President of Marvel Entertainment (the comics and more) will report to Feige when it comes to creative/editorial decisions. When it comes to operations, sales, creative services, games, licensing, and events, Buckley will report to Ike Perlmutter who is Marvel’s Chairman. Joe Quesada is expected to remain as the creative lead for Marvel Entertainment and report to Buckley.

In another change, Marvel Television and Marvel Family Entertainment will move under the Marvel Studios banner which Feige runs. That change isn’t unexpected. During recent announcements at San Diego Comic-Con and D23 the television shows, which one would have expected to be under Marvel TV, showed the Marvel Studios banner. This lead to speculation that live-action storytelling as a whole was falling more under Feige’s control.

Fiege will continue to report to Walt Disney Studios co-chairman and chief creative officer Alan Horn and co-chairman Alan Berman.

(via The Hollywood Reporter and Deadline)

Zoë Kravitz Will Play Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman, in The Batman

Catwoman

Rumors have swirled as to who will be seen in The Batman, the next iteration of the popular comic character. It has been revealed that Zoë Kravitz will slide into the role of Selina Kyle, Catwoman in the film. She’ll star opposite Robert Pattinson who will don the cape as Bruce Wayne, Batman.

Kyle/Catwoman has morphed into an antiheroine and sometime love interest for Wayne/Batman. A recent storyline had the two about to be married which didn’t go ahead.

Numerous other actors were rumored for the role including Zazie Beetz, Eiza Gonzalez, and Alicia Vikander.

Production on the film is slated to begin filming in late 2019 or early 2020. The Batman is scheduled to be released on June 25, 2021.

Kravitz is the latest in a long line of defining women to take on the role of Catowman. Actresses to take on the character include Anne Hathaway, Halle Berry, Michelle Pfeiffer, Lee Meriweather, Julie Newmar, Eartha Kitt, Camren Bicondova and many more. The character has appeared in comics, television, movies, video games, animation, and radio.

Catwoman was created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger and debuted in Batman #1 published in 1940.

Director Matt Reeves tweeted out the below in response to the news:

Joker Sets a New Record and Cracks the Top 50

Joker

Despite some solid competition, Joker held on to the top spot at the weekend box office domestically, internationally, and worldwide. The film has earned almost $544 million in twelve days.

Joker earned an estimated $55 million dipping just 43% in its second weekend. Domestically, the film has earned $192.7 million after ten days in release. It’s the largest October second weekend ever beating Gravity’s $43.2 million in 2013.

Internationally, the film brought in an estimated $123.7 million from 79 markets. The film has earned $351.2 million at the foreign box office so far.

The film has also been climbing the charts and is now #44 in lifetime worldwide grosses for a comic film adaptation. It’s also a solid return on investment. The film’s reported budget is $55 million and with worldwide grosses at $544 million and counting, the multiplier is a solid 9.89 and climbing. It’s the second-best return for a comic adaptation this year behind Dragon Ball Super: Broly. It’s also the best return of the modern era of DC films that began with Batman Begins through Aquaman.

Over the past week, Spider-Man: Far From Home earned an estimated $170,000 domestically. The movie’s domestic total now stands at $390.4 million. Internationally, the film added about $130,000 to its total. Internationally, the film has earned $741.0 million. Worldwide, the film has earned $1.131 billion. Having passed Captain Marvel, the movie would need to earn a bit less than $16.6 million to pass Aquaman in worldwide grosses.


Here’s where 2019’s comic films stand as far as the actual numbers.

Total Domestic Gross: $2.225 billion
Total International Gross: $4.567 billion
Worldwide Gross: $6.792 billion
Total Reported Budgets: $1.289 billion
Total “Profit”: $5.504 billion

Average Domestic Gross: $222.5 million
Average International Gross: $456.7 million
Average: Worldwide Gross: $679.2 million
Average Budget: $128.9 million
Average Profit: $550.4 million

Below is where the films released stand when it comes to being compared to this year’s averages. The bold numbers are above average while those below average are not.

FilmStudioDomestic Gross
Avengers: EndgameBV$858,373,000
Captain MarvelBV$426,829,839
Spider-Man: Far From HomeSony$390,410,394
Joker WB $192,728,787
Shazam!WB$140,371,656
Alita: Battle AngelFox$85,710,210
Dark PhoenixFox$65,845,974
Dragon Ball Super: BrolyFUNamation Films$30,712,119
HellboyLions$21,903,748
The KitchenWB$12,180,032
FilmStudioInternational Gross
Avengers: EndgameBV$1,937,901,401
Spider-Man: Far From HomeSony$741,039,769
Captain MarvelBV$701,444,955
Joker WB $351,200,000
Alita: Battle AngelFox$319,142,333
Shazam!WB$224,100,000
Dark PhoenixFox$186,597,000
Dragon Ball Super: BrolyFUNamation Films$83,390,702
HellboyLions$18,882,732
The KitchenWB$3,600,000
FilmStudioWorldwide Gross
Avengers: EndgameBV$2,796,274,401
Spider-Man: Far From Home Sony $1,131,450,163
Captain MarvelBV$1,128,274,794
Joker WB$543,928,787
Alita: Battle AngelFox$404,852,543
Shazam!WB$364,471,656
Dark PhoenixFox$252,442,974
Dragon Ball Super: BrolyFUNamation Films$114,102,821
HellboyLions$40,786,480
The KitchenWB$15,780,032
FilmStudioGross-Budget
Avengers: EndgameBV$2,440,274,401
Captain MarvelBV$976,274,794
Spider-Man: Far From HomeSony$971,450,163
JokerWB$488,928,787
Shazam!WB$264,471,656
Alita: Battle AngelFox$234,852,543
Dragon Ball Super: BrolyFUNamation Films$105,602,821
Dark PhoenixFox$52,442,974
HellboyLions-$9,213,520
The KitchenWB-$21,219,968
FilmStudioGross/Budget
Dragon Ball Super: BrolyFUNamation Films13.42
JokerWB9.89
Avengers: EndgameBV7.85
Spider-Man: Far From HomeSony7.07
Captain MarvelBV4.61
Shazam!WB3.64
Alita: Battle AngelFox2.38
Dark PhoenixFox1.26
HellboyLions0.82
The KitchenWB0.43

Joker Repeats in First and The Addams Family Takes Second

Joker

Despite some solid competition, Joker held on to the top spot at the weekend box office domestically, internationally, and worldwide. The film has earned almost $544 million in twelve days.

Joker earned an estimated $55 million dipping just 43% in its second weekend. Domestically, the film has earned $192.7 million after ten days in release. It’s the largest October second weekend ever beating Gravity’s $43.2 million in 2013.

Internationally, the film brought in an estimated $123.7 million from 79 markets. The film has earned $351.2 million at the foreign box office so far.

In second place was the newcomer The Addams Family which beat expectations. The movie earned an estimated $30.3 million over the three days. The film earned a “B+” CinemaScore with women making up 59% of the opening weekend crowd. 48% of that crowd was under the age of 17.

In third was another debut film Gemini Man which earned $20.5 million over the three days. The film also earned a “B+” CinemaScore from opening day audiences. The audience was male which made up 56% with 53% of the crowd aged under 30.

Abominable came in fourth place with an estimated $6.2 million in its third week. The film has earned $47.9 million domestically. It also added $15 million internationally from 52 markets to bring the foreign total to $60.1 million and a worldwide total of $108.1 million.

Rounding out the top five was Downton Abbey which added $4.9 million to its domestic total after its fourth week. Domestically the film has earned $82.7 million. Internationally the film added $4.1 million to bring the foreign total to $70 million to bring its worldwide earnings to $152.7 million.

We’ll be back in an hour for a deeper look at 2019’s comic adaptations at the box office.

Movie Review: Joker

Joker

Send in the clowns…

So honestly I did not know what to expect when I purchased my Joker ticket. I had heard that it was great and earth-shattering. I had also heard it was pretty terrible. So you see why I had to go see it for myself, right?

The first thing that made me nervous was pulling up to the theater and seeing parked police cars. And when you think of why they had to be there, it made the whole experience even more surreal. My safety, as well as other moviegoers, were at risk. Because not everyone going to this movie would be sound of mind. And when you think about the public shootings…well… you can appreciate my growing concern.

Did I find this movie to be amazing? A masterpiece? No. Joaquin Phoenix did an AMAZING job in portraying arguably the most iconic comic book villain ever. Soooo creepy with those glassy, intense eyes set underneath those dark eyebrows, and he was so painfully skinny. His ribcage was a sight. He clearly lost weight for the role and it showed! Now, there were times when you sympathized with him. Clearly suffering from mental illness, and bullied by an unforgiving world, would certainly mess you up. That is not in question. It is what he does later on that doesn’t quite have you cheering him on. Deep down, you were glad he, I dunno, found himself?

I can’t and won’t pretend to know what if feels like to have one’s mind brimming and seething like a cauldron of negative thoughts. I can’t. And won’t allow myself to sink that low when it would be so easy to reach the bottom as Joker did. He had a mind of eels, a basket of drowned kittens. And all of what I said would have made him laugh. And can we talk about his laugh? Maybe we shouldn’t. I would hate to have nightmares….

He disturbed me. I would flinch and gasp with each outburst, as they increasingly grew more and more violent. The children’s hospital scene made me gasp then laugh then I had to cover my mouth. I wanted to hug him, but then he would have slit my throat… so no. He NEEDED to be institutionalized.

I felt uneasy whenever he had to interact with people but especially the black women in this movie. Example such as his social worker and the effervescent Sophie Dumond played by Zazie Beetz. I didn’t want the love story to blossom. I didn’t want her to even look at him and catch his crazy eye. But every good story needs conflict, right? Especially when you already know the horrible ending… I just wasn’t here for this poor unfortunate black women dealing with the white tears of a clown.

There’s a scene, in particular, that gave me chills. The Joker is standing on the curb and a car drives by with a man wearing a clown mask. They make eye contact. And Joker widens his eyes with the most disturbing smile on his face. I don’t know if I can look at Phoenix in the same way again.

Seeing Robert DeNiro was a treat. I loved him as the late night talk show host role as Murray Franklin. There’s something about the outro song that reminded me of SNL. It’s very jazzy and bluesy. And one of my other personal faves, Frances Conroy as Joker’s mom Penny, was a treat. She has such range as an actress. I’ve seen her as mortician’s widow, the angel of death, and now as the mother of the most insane criminal in the literary world. 

Anyway, I am not going to make this into a thinkpiece. As always, I wanted to share how I felt when seeing this. It was visceral, intense, and a proper origin story to one of my favorite characters. To borrow a phrase from a song:

“Everybody loves a winner so nobody loved me”

I can’t help but feel that is applicable to the sad, twisted, loveless tale of the Joker. He said life was a comedy. But most comedies are tragic. He needed help and no one cared enough to do so. He snapped while still smiling so hard his muscles ached and strained until his eyes watered. Still he smiled. This is not the tale of an underdog. This a tale of a man who laughed last.

Joker Sets Records While The Kitchen Limps Along

Comic film adaptations are big dollars and we track how they do each week to see trends and what’s working and what’s not. With 2018’s films wrapped up, we’ve turned our focus squarely on 2019.


Joker

It was a given that Joker would top the weekend box office but a record-setting weekend wasn’t a given for the R-rated film.

Joker was the top film domestically and earned $234 million worldwide. With an estimated $93.5 million, the film had the largest October domestic opening ever. It beat Venom which earned $80.25 million. Justice League earned $93.8 million when it opened in November 2017 and when final receipts are in Joker could top that.

The film also earned the fourth largest domestic opening ever for an R-rated film. Its preview grosses of $13.3 million was also a record for October preview grosses.

The audience gave the film a “B+” CinemaScore with those under 35 giving it an “A-“. On various rating sites, the film enjoyed good reviews, especially from audiences.

Internationally, the film debuted in 73 markets where it earned $140.5 million. The film opens in France and Germany later this week.

This past week, Spider-Man: Far From Home earned an estimated $360,000 domestically. The movie’s domestic total now stands at $390.2 million. Internationally, the film added about $200,000 to its total. Internationally, the film has earned $740.9 million. Worldwide, the film has earned $1.131 billion. Having passed Captain Marvel, the movie would need to earn a bit less than $17 million to pass Aquaman in worldwide grosses.

The Kitchen, based on the Vertigo comic miniseries, continues to struggle at the box office but it’s earning dollars. Over the week, the film earned about $20,000 domestically for the week. It also earned $200,000 at the international box office. The movie has brought in just over $12.2 million domestically, $3.6 million internationally, and about $15.8 million worldwide. That’s far short of the $37 million reported budget. It’s also the worst-performing comic adaptation of the year.

2019 is the tale of two films for Warner Bros. Where they’ve found success in Joker, The Kitchen has been the exact opposite.


Here’s where 2019’s comic films stand as far as the actual numbers.

Total Domestic Gross: $2.126 billion
Total International Gross: $4.356 billion
Worldwide Gross: $6.482 billion
Total Reported Budgets: $1.289 billion
Total “Profit”: $5.194 billion

Average Domestic Gross: $212.6 million
Average International Gross: $435.6 million
Average: Worldwide Gross: $648.2 million
Average Budget: $128.9 million
Average Profit: $519.4 million

Below is where the films released stand when it comes to being compared to this year’s averages. The bold numbers are above average while those below average are not.

FilmStudioDomestic Gross
Avengers: EndgameBV$858,373,000
Captain MarvelBV$426,829,839
Spider-Man: Far From HomeSony$390,234,064
Shazam!WB$140,371,656
JokerWB$93,500,000
Alita: Battle AngelFox$85,710,210
Dark PhoenixFox$65,845,974
Dragon Ball Super: BrolyFUNamation Films$30,712,119
HellboyLions$21,903,748
The KitchenWB$12,180,032
FilmStudioInternational Gross
Avengers: EndgameBV$1,937,901,401
Spider-Man: Far From HomeSony$740,873,062
Captain MarvelBV$701,444,955
Alita: Battle AngelFox$319,142,333
Shazam!WB$224,100,000
Dark PhoenixFox$186,597,000
JokerWB$140,500,000
Dragon Ball Super: BrolyFUNamation Films$83,390,702
HellboyLions$18,882,732
The KitchenWB$3,600,000
FilmStudioWorldwide Gross
Avengers: EndgameBV$2,796,274,401
Spider-Man: Far From Home Sony $1,131,107,126
Captain MarvelBV$1,128,274,794
Alita: Battle AngelFox$404,852,543
Shazam!WB$364,471,656
Dark PhoenixFox$252,442,974
JokerWB$234,000,000
Dragon Ball Super: BrolyFUNamation Films$114,102,821
HellboyLions$40,786,480
The KitchenWB$15,780,032
FilmStudioGross-Budget
Avengers: EndgameBV$2,440,274,401
Captain MarvelBV$976,274,794
Spider-Man: Far From HomeSony$971,107,126
Shazam!WB$264,471,656
Alita: Battle AngelFox$234,852,543
JokerWB$179,000,000
Dragon Ball Super: BrolyFUNamation Films$105,602,821
Dark PhoenixFox$52,442,974
HellboyLions-$9,213,520
The KitchenWB-$21,219,968
FilmStudioGross/Budget
Dragon Ball Super: BrolyFUNamation Films13.42
Avengers: EndgameBV7.85
Spider-Man: Far From HomeSony7.07
Captain MarvelBV4.61
JokerWB4.25
Shazam!WB3.64
Alita: Battle AngelFox2.38
Dark PhoenixFox1.26
HellboyLions0.82
The KitchenWB0.43

Joker Delivers a Record October Opening

Joker

It was a given that Joker would top the weekend box office but a record setting weekend wasn’t a given for the R-rated film.

Joker was the top film domestically and earned $234 million worldwide. With an estimated $93.5 million, the film had the largest October domestic opening ever. It beat Venom which earned $80.25 million. Justice League earned $93.8 million when it opened in November 2017 and when final receipts are in Joker could top that.

The film also earned the fourth largest domestic opening ever for an R-rated film. Its preview grosses of $13.3 million was also a record for October preview grosses.

The audience gave the film a “B+” CinemaScore with those under 35 giving it an “A-“. On various rating sites, the film enjoyed good reviews, especially from audiences.

Internationally, the film debuted in 73 markets where it earned $140.5 million. The film opens in France and Germany later this week.

Abominable came in second place for its second weekend earning an estimated $12 million. The film opened in China where it earned $11.2 million. Internationally it earned $24.6 million from 44 markets. Worldwide, the film has earned $76.3 million.

Downton Abbey was in third place in its third week. The film earned an estimated $8 million to bring its domestic total to $73.6 million. The film also added $6.6 million to its international total which is now $61.8 million for a worldwide total of $135.4 million.

Hustlers came in fourth place bringing in an estimated $6.3 million. Internationally, the film added $1.9 million. Domestically it has earned $91.3 million, internationally $18.7 million and worldwide $110 million.

Rounding out the top five was It: Chapter Two which earned an estimated $5.4 million in its fifth week. It’s the third R-rated film ever to top $200 million domestically. Internationally, the film earned $5.6 million from 78 markets for an international total of $234.5 million. Worldwide, the film has earned $436.7 million and still has top open in Japan which happens in November 1.

We’ll be back in an hour when we do a deeper dive into 2019’s comic movie adaptations.

Wonder Woman: Bloodlines Clip – Silver Swan Revealed

Check out an all-new clip from Wonder Woman: Bloodlines featuring Marie Avgeropoulos as the voice of Silver Swan, Wonder Woman’s on-the-ground (and air) adversary in the film.

Avgeropoulos currently portrays Octavia Blake in The CW’s popular series The 100, and is slated to star opposite Nicholas Cage in the upcoming Jiu Jitsu, and alongside Cary Elwes, Susan Sarandon, Diane Kruger, Brad Dourif & Nick Offerman in Butterfly in the Typewriter.

Wonder Woman: Bloodlines will be available via Digital starting Saturday, October 5 and on 4k, Blu-ray and DVD starting October 22.

Movie Review: Joker

Joker poster

Joker is a schizophrenic film. I’m loathe to use that term because it’s both a bit too on the nose (because of mental health issues explored in the film) and the term schizophrenia is largely misunderstood. However, it’s the best description (literally “split head”) of what is a gripping and gritty but at the same time somehow both banal, disturbing and irresponsible film.

In that way it is very much like its protagonist and the comics character he is based on. But the film also tries to draw from such a deep well of other films (better films) that it’s really hard to fully recommend to people when they’re probably better off just going back to the original source material.

Let’s start with the good. Joker is trying to present a complex character of someone who has been largely marginalized by society and essentially indicts the system that led to his emergence as a supervillain. I get that, and I really respect it, but I also wish it had just been done better. It’s also hard to feel bad for someone who is at their core a sociopath as we see someone falling down into that rabbit hole through escalating acts of violence. Some of them are warranted but most of them not.

Joaquin Phoenix does a great job here in presenting the multiple different layers of this character. The physicality alone he brings here is astounding and part of what makes this film so visceral and so (intentionally) unpleasant. The film also makes him a great classic unreliable narrator, so you’re left wondering how much of the film is real and how much might be delusional. However, you have to ask yourself, how much sympathy do we really need to give to a psychopath? This film doesn’t offer any good conclusions to that question.

To the extent this film inspires conversations about mental health care and the systemic ways in which we fail people on the margins of society, that is a good thing. To the extent that it inspires us to discuss growing income inequality and the marginalization of the poor and the true class warfare — the 1% beating down the disadvantaged — then those are good conversations.

The problem is that the film will also inspire other conversations that will be far less nuanced and will take all of the wrong messages from this film. These messages will inspire violence, creating more heat than light. That is ultimately this film’s downfall is that it has no sense of responsibility for what it is unleashing into the culture.

WARNING: The following contains very minor SPOILERS. They are not major plot points but includes a single line of dialogue, a discussion of songs used in the film, and how Joker draws from other films. If you’re familiar with those films, knowing their plots may be considered “spoilers” for how this film lays out its plot. However, I maintain none of these will actually spoil your enjoyment of the film. If anything, hopefully, it inspires some critical conversations. BUT if you don’t want to know these, skip to the final 2 paragraphs. Ok, minor “spoilers”:

In this same way, Joker as a character tries to absolve himself of all responsibility for the effects his actions have on society, eg, that he has inspired others to engage in violence. He doesn’t see himself as the leader of any sort of movement, even going so far as to say “I’m not political.” That statement is the Rosetta Stone for understanding why this film is flawed. In its heart of hearts, it probably believes this.

Furthermore, this is likely writer and director Todd Phillips giving himself an out and abrogating any personal responsibility for how others might interpret his film– in essence re-enacting the final act of the film where Joker goes on tv and uses the power of the media to spread his gospel of violence and nihilism.

Joker doesn’t care whether he’s inspiring people in the streets or not. He’s not a savior or a leader. But angry, disaffected people will listen to his message and go out and commit atrocities.

So, no, you don’t get to just say, “This isn’t political.” That is the mantra of privilege because you know that the effects of what you are putting out there into the culture is never going to personally affect you.

This film is political in the same way all the best art is political. Its best pieces and moments indict entire systems and ways of thinking. It exposes the corruption and indifference of a society who turns its back on the people who most need help. So saying it’s not political is both a cop-out and completely negates all the positive you’ve created.

Needless to say, this very specific moment in October of 2019, this film feels wholly irresponsible to put into the cultural zeitgeist. I have never worried about widespread mass shootings happening at screenings of any other film, even given the crowds Star Wars and Avengers were always going to attract. But I really worry about this weekend. Todd Phillips would have been far better to simply crank out another tired Hangover sequel and give us all a few laughs, even if they weren’t politically correct ones.

Which brings us to Phillips saying he stopped making comedy because he’s tired of “woke” culture. Bad news, Todd, there’s plenty of woke takes on dramas and comic book movies as well. Joker deserves all of the woke takes it can get, and I’m especially interested in hearing from black female critics about the treatment of Zazie Beetz‘s character in the film. By the way, Beetz’s performance is astounding, and every bit as good and layered as Phoenix’s, even though she gets 1/15th the screen time and 1/20th of the lines and character development.

The treatments and marginalization of other women of color in this film is also a great topic for discussion. We also see 0 representation and therefore a complete erasure of Latinx and Asian characters of any kind.

And because one good woke take deserves another, much ado has also been made about the inclusion of a song by Gary Glitter in a scene later in the film where Joker is dancing on a stairway, which can be seen in the trailer.

In so many ways, the inclusion of Gary Glitter on the soundtrack is incredibly on-brand for the film. It represents either complete ignorance of the fact that Glitter has been a known pedophile for decades, or a complete apathy to that fact.

Perhaps this is an attempt to be knowingly edgy and push people’s buttons in an attempt to troll “cancel culture.” But most likely it is that Phillips is just totally indifferent.

The entire film reeks of a practiced indifference and air of privilege that, ironically, the subject of the film is trying to skewer. Joker falls all over itself in its subtext and talking about how it doesn’t care too much. It, therefore, can’t possibly have the edge and satire it needs to actually say something coherent about an indifferent society that steps over and marginalizes people who have been hurt by the system or forgotten. You literally can’t be both.

The film also begs, borrows and steals from so many other films it becomes tiresome. This is a bad bar band covering hits from the 70s, but instead of singing Journey and Fleetwood Mac, it’s a remake of Scorsese’s King of Comedy and Taxi Driver. Both of those films would fit in many critics’ and organizations’ top 25 list of the greatest films of all time. It’s doubtful Joker will even make it into my top 25 of this year.

You know how most of the Die Hard sequels weren’t actually originally written to be Die Hard? They were just action scripts floating around Hollywood and then someone said, “Take that script for WW3.com, and put John McClane in it. Now it’s Die Hard with a Vengeance.” This movie feels like someone’s script that tried to remake King of Comedy and then someone came along and said: “Let’s make this main character the Joker.”

The other film that gets most name-checked in Joker but has been perhaps the least discussed (the parallels to Scorsese were apparent from the trailers alone, so much so that it’s almost too easy a comparison) is the parallels to Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times. Joker uses both a scene from the film at a pivotal point in the movie, and also uses its signature song “Smile” as a sort of theme song– so much so that it’s in the trailer.

On the surface, there are some real similarities. Both films are about the marginalization of regular people due to growing inequality. Both films deal with mental health and police brutality as well as crackdowns on organizing/protest movements. The main difference is their endings.

In Modern Times, after 90 minutes of factory work, abuse, a mental breakdown, being arrested, beaten up by the police, losing more jobs, having their dreams taken away from them by the rich and powerful on a couple of different occasions, Chaplain and his gamin girlfriend literally walk into the sunset after saying they can’t give up and never should no matter how many times they’ve been beaten down. They still need to work hard and will eventually come out on top.

Joker conveys the exact opposite message of that, so it feels like such a disservice to such classic a film as Modern Times to so explicitly reference it. It feels more like if Todd Phillips were standing in a movie line talking about Modern Times and Joker, Woody Allen would pull Charlie Chaplin out from behind a sign to say “I heard what you were saying. You know nothing of my work.” (That’s an Annie Hall reference, folks, since we’re talking 1970’s movies. And yes I’m still talking about Woody Allen even though he’s #cancelled.)

Given the ersatz quality of the filmmaking here, would you rather hear the classics played by the crappy bar band, or just pull out your records and listen to the originals? Don’t go see Joker if you haven’t seen King of Comedy. Or Taxi Driver. Or Modern Times. Your time will be better spent on the originals and classics rather than these pale imitations.

END “SPOILERS”

All of this is to say that Joker is a complicated and often contradictory mess. But it isn’t wholly bad. The tragedy of it all is that there are moments of sheer brilliance. Despite all my problems with it, I hope the film does incredibly well at the box office to send the signal that DC can/should abandon–for now– the pretext of a shared universe and simply churn out character-driven individual films. And sometimes they can be R-rated and gritty and complex.

And sometimes they can be whatever it is they’re doing in that new Birds of Prey trailer, which is everywhere I want to be. And sometimes it can be James Gunn making a Suicide Squad movie. But my hope is that next time they try to swing for the fences like this with something like Joker, they’ll bring someone more talented than Todd Phillips on to make sure we don’t get a self-contradicting warmed-over-King of Comedy remake with the clown prince of crime somehow shoehorned in.

3 out of 5 stars

Wonder Woman: Bloodlines Clip – Wonder Woman vs. Robot

Experience an all-new adventure with DC’s most powerful heroine – filled with intrigue, mythology and relentless battles on shores near and far – in Wonder Woman: Bloodlines, the next entry in the popular series of DC Universe Movies.

This is an all-new clip from the film that features Wonder Woman (voiced by Rosario Dawson), Steve Trevor (Jeffrey Donovan) and Etta Candy (Adrienne C. Moore).

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will host the World Premiere of Wonder Woman: Bloodlines on Friday, October 4 at New York Comic Con.

Produced by Warner Bros. Animation and DC, the feature-length animated film arrives – accompanied by the DC Showcase animated short Death, inspired by Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman – from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment on Digital starting October 5, 2019, and on 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack, and Blu-ray Combo Pack on October 22, 2019.

In Wonder Woman: Bloodlines, Amazon princess Diana of Themyscira chooses to save fighter pilot Steve Trevor and return him to his home in America – setting in motion one of Wonder Woman’s most captivating chapters. Fulfilling the role of both ambassador as well as protector, Diana soon earns the name Wonder Woman from the gracious people of Earth. Equally strong in body, heart, and will, she makes it her mission to help a troubled young girl enlisted by a deadly organization known as Villainy, Inc., whose criminal members have their sights set on invading Themyscira, Diana’s paradise home. Prepare for a thrilling quest packed with brutal battles, mysterious mythology and endless wonder!

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