Coming Soon to 2024, Part 1, 2, and 3 of Justice League: Crisis On Infinite Earths. Get a first look at the highly anticipated film.
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It’s one of two new comic book days! What are you all getting? What are you excited for? Sound off in the comments. While you decide on that, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web to start the day.
Kotaku – Warner Bros.’ Wonder Woman Will Defy An Obnoxious Gaming Trend – This is a good thing.
The Beat – JewCE 2023 Celebrates the Influence of Jewish Culture in Comics – Anyone go? What did you think?
The Beat – Angoulême Official Selection 2024 – Congrats to all!
The weekend is almost here! GP HQ is looking at a big storm coming, so we’ll be making sure to curl up with comics, games, and movies while it rains. What geeky things are you all up to? Sound off in the comments. While you wait for the weekday to end and the weekend to begin, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web to start the day.
The Hollywood Reporter – DC Studios to Get New Production Batcave as Warner Bros. Plans Soundstage Expansion in Leavesden – Ok. This makes sense and seems like the right decision.
The Mary Sue – LeVar Burton Leads Over 150 Artists and Creators in Signing Open Letter Condemning Book Bans – Great to see and hopefully we see more of this and actual action against those that do.
Kotaku – All Those NFTs Are Officially Worthless – Shocked. Shocked we say!
The Beat – Lore Olympus Vol. 4
Having failed to defeat Aquaman the first time, Black Manta, still driven by the need to avenge his father’s death, will stop at nothing to take Aquaman down once and for all. This time Black Manta is more formidable than ever before, wielding the power of the mythic Black Trident, which unleashes an ancient and malevolent force. To defeat him, Aquaman will turn to his imprisoned brother Orm, the former King of Atlantis, to forge an unlikely alliance. Together, they must set aside their differences in order to protect their kingdom and save Aquaman’s family, and the world, from irreversible destruction.
Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom comes to theaters on December 20!
Funko is helping to celebrate 100 years of Warner Bros. with mash-ups of its characters. Up first is Looney Tunes meets Scooby-Doo!
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The highly anticipated film Blue Beetle finally is getting a teaser poster. Based on the DC character, the movie is pretty key not only because it elevates a relatively unknown character but also focuses on the Jaime Reyes version played by Xolo Maridueña.
Blue Beetle is about a teenage Hispanic El Pasoan, who gains superpowers when an alien Blue Beetle scarab grafts onto him, forming a powerful exoskeleton around his body.
Leaked photos have shown a very accurate superhero costume creating even more anticipation to get a look at the film. The Jaime Reyes Blue Beetle debuted as Jaime in Infinite Crisis #3 and as Blue Beetle in Infinite Crisis #5 in 2006. The character was created by Keith Giffen, John Rogers, and Cully Hamner.
Blue Beetle comes to theaters August 18, 2023.
Black Adam is a pretty good film. Despite some pacing and script issues, its cast are immeasurably charming and the action sequences are a lot of fun. So don’t necessarily believe The Discourse™️ online or a low Rotten Tomatoes score. But, as the song goes, if you don’t expect too much from [it], you might not be let down.
Because there are a good 30-35 minutes of Black Adam that absolutely rule. They are fun, kinetic, and everything you want not only in a great superhero movie, but just a great movie overall. Dwayne Johnson is in full blown heel mode as the titular Black Adam/Teth-Adam. Like the best heels, he has the audience eating out of his hand as they simultaneously boo and cheer for him. He delivers some of the funniest lines in the film with perfect deadpan humor, channeling action-comedy greats of the past like Arnold Schwarzenegger in T2. This is, in so many ways, the apotheosis of what The Rock has always been meant to do on screen. He is Black Adam. Black Adam is him. It’s perfect.
We’re also treated to iconic members of the JSA like Hawkman and Doctor Fate. Aldous Hodge and Pierce Brosnan, respectively, are similarly perfect in these roles.
However, here come some of the problems the film comes up against almost immediately: it’s not clear exactly who this movie is for. Because it seems to gloss over a lot of introduction and just assumes audiences know who these characters are. Because everyone knows Carter Hall is Hawkman and his backstory, right? Right?
And yet, without a definitive telling of their backstory, they seem completely divorced from their rich backstories and (convoluted) history in comics. There are things fans will nitpick as being way out of line. And yet for casual audiences all we know about Carter Hall is. . . he’s a rich guy who turns into a bird person? They try to make him more of a cool, less-brooding Bruce Wayne instead of, well, Carter Hall. Dr Fate. . . puts on a helmet and can see the future sometimes? The only saving grace is how fun it is to watch Hodge and Brosnan. Ditto for The Rock.
And then the putative bad guys of the film are Intergang. But yet they’re not really related the Intergang from the comics or any other DC villains, so they may as well have just been called Blackwater/Xe/Academi/Constellis. They’re just some evil, faceless mercenary group. But also America? But also not America.
So, this movie doesn’t exactly serve people who haven’t read the comics. And it doesn’t really serve the fans. So, who is it for exactly?
There’s a tiny middle ground of casual fans who vaguely remember Carter Hall from Justice League cartoons or an appearance on the CW shows. Apparently them? That’s who the movie is for?
A Brief Pit Stop for Spoilers
[The following contains minor plot spoilers, a music spoiler, and one spoiler of a sight gag in the movie. If you want to go in completely spoiler-free, please skip to the very end to see my final score]
And then there’s the script. Ugh. It feels like it wasn’t so much written as assembled in a darkened room by people filling out Mad Libs and pasting them together. Then studio noted to death. “This needs a joke here. Can Atom Smasher walk in holding a bucket of chicken in this scene? He’s hungry! It’s funny!”
The movie also starts with an extended flashback to ancient Kahndaq with voice-over narration to explain everything to the audience– the laziest of bad script-writing tropes. They may as well have started from the Act I climax action scene and paused mid-explosion, “Yup, that’s me. I bet you wonder how I got here. . .”
But then here’s the problem: you don’t get any Black Adam in your Black Adam movie for a full 15-20 minutes. And when he does show up, the film seems more self satisfied in it needle drop of The Rolling Stones “Paint It Black” than on the utterly epic (and really effing cool!) action scene they’ve created of Black Adam just brutally murdering enemy soldiers. I wanted to applaud but it really felt like gilding a lily and could have been achieved with a more subtle use of music.
The film’s framing device also seems odd. We spend a lot of time trying to make a family from Kandaq our main audience surrogate POV characters. The mom, Adrianna Tomaz, is an archeologist (natch) and the teenage son Amon just loves DC comics and skateboarding. It has very hard “How do you do, fellow kids?” energy.
They also set up a ridiculous macguffin around
vibranium unobtanium eternium which just strains all credulity. In a movie where Hawkman also already name-checks Nth metal, it feels so crazy for them to bring in another, lesser known magic metal. And this eternium isn’t even really DC comics eternium. It’s just Dollar Store vibranium/unobtanium: magic metal that makes future tech possible. It really feels a lot like a studio note from WB execs “They loved that vibranium in Black Panther. Can Black Adam have vibranium in it?”
And then you have a really weak villain: Ishmael Gregor, who everyone finds out later is actually in charge of Intergang? But also we, the audience, know he’s bad from pretty early on. So we’re ahead of the rest of the characters but also we don’t have ANY insight into his motivations or backstory until well into the final act.
All of this just makes me feel bad for Black Adam. It’s not its fault that it came out of a studio seemingly so adrift creatively that it feels like they’re 2 weeks away from burning down the movie studio for the insurance money. There’s some really great stuff in the film. If not for terrible advice from terrible executives, this could have been another repeat performance from this year’s The Batman. By comparison, it felt much more like it was cut from whole cloth with a single creative vision. Black Adam feels studio-noted to death.
I am about to break two of my cardinal rules of film criticism:
1- Never judge a film for what it could have been, instead try to judge it against what it was trying to do.
2- Thou shalt not pit Marvel versus DC
So, I’m really, really sorry. But there is just so much wasted potential. So many of the film’s problems — the pacing, the framing device, the voice over, the non-backstory on Carter Hall — could have been alleviated with just a few changes. And? They could really make the film say something.
One of the first changes would be to re-center the backstory of the film and its characters on the comics’ origins. One of the things Marvel does well is translating that backstory and history into its distilled essence that is palatable for both fans and new audiences. And part of this is simplifying and streamlining concepts like Intergang and eternium. This also potentially allows for Carter Hall and Dr. Fate to have some personal stakes in the story, tying in past lives where perhaps they knew Teth-Adam, visited Kahndaq, and it was tied to Nth metal.
You also have to fix the kid, Amon. Ditch the skateboard, and then give him more to do than be John Connor in T2 trying to teach the killer robot funny things to say. Streamline some of the mom, Adrianna’s, part by giving her more of the film’s social conscience. One of the things that made Black Panther so successful was how its antagonist and side characters all illuminated some conflicts that had implications for real world issues. Black Adam tries to do that, but it’s very obvious any actual rough edges were sanded down by the studio so it feels both heavy handed and also not hard hitting at the same time– a rare feat. Just have a point, and make it. Subtly.
Subtlety is something Black Adam seems utterly incapable of doing, though. That’s ok. Its bombast and spectacle are what makes the film work in the parts where it does work. It just would have been nice if it felt a little more thoughtful.
Final thoughts on Black Adam
Ultimately, Black Adam‘s villains aren’t Ishamel, or even Intergang or Amanda Waller. The villains here are Warner Brothers studio execs who have absolutely no f@#$ing clue what to do with DC comics. This movie will elicit nerd rage from ultra fans and head scratches from general audiences.
But what it does well, it does extremely well. It is just plain fun to watch The Rock be a bad boy and tear a bunch of stuff up. Hodges and Brosnan try their best to be the heroes of this story but the clunky script slows them down. But for the half hour or so where it’s just action sequences and spectacle, it’s pretty great.
* * * 3 out of 5 stars
The rumors and wishes have been circulating for a while but according to Deadline, 2005’s Constantine is getting a sequel. The film will re-team Keanu Reeves and director Francis Lawrence. The original was Lawrence’s debut film as director.
Akiva Goldsman will write the screenplay and produce the film alongside J.J. Abrams and Hannah Minghella.
Constantine was released in 2005 and went on to earn $230.9 million worldwide on a $100 million budget. It was generally considered not a success when originally released but has gone on to build a cult following.
Reeves plays the main character Constantine, based on the DC Comics character. Constantine is a supernatural exorcist/demonologist who has made his own deals with devils. The character has been depicted in numerous media beyond comics. Matt Smith portrayed the character on television on multiple shows and voiced the character in animated films. A new Constantine television series was also in the works for HBO Max also from J.J. Abrams. Variety reports that project is dead due to this film but may be resurrected down the road somewhere else.
The announcement is particularly interesting as Warner Bros. Discovery has been in a bit of a shuffle shelving projects and looking for someone to oversee the DC division. The company has talked about a 10 year plan, it’s unclear where this falls in that.
Nearly 5,000 years after he was bestowed with the almighty powers of the Egyptian gods-and imprisoned just as quickly-Black Adam (Johnson) is freed from his earthly tomb, ready to unleash his unique form of justice on the modern world.
Black Adam arrives October 21, 2022.
Ahead of a new trailer being released this Thursday, DC‘s Black Adam got six new posters spotlighting the heroes and anti-hero of the film. The new posters show off Atom Smasher (Noah Centineo), Black Adam (Dwayne Johnson), Doctor Fate (Pierce Brosnan), Cyclone (Quintessa Swindell), Hawkman (Aldis Hodge), and the entire cast.
Black Adam comes to theaters on October 21, 2022.