Posts Tagged ‘Superman’

Diana of the Amazons gets the royal treatment in Patty Jenkins’s spectacular ‘Wonder Woman’

August 12, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
Aug. 12, 2017

Previously, I wrote about the movie rivalry between DC and Marvel Comics. Left unmentioned in my screed was the iconic comic-book character of Wonder Woman, who — at least for my generation — is probably the foremost female superhero.

There was a very good reason for that omission; actually, there were two of them. One was that I’d planned to compose this review. (Well, to be honest, I’d intended for my DC-Marvel movie rivalry recap to be an introduction to this review, but it took on a life of its own in the writing.) The other was that Wonder Woman hadn’t had a proper live-action movie until this June, although her appearance in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was hailed as perhaps that 2016 film’s only bright spot.

Previously, the character’s main live-action incarnation had been in the television series Wonder Woman, which spanned three seasons from 1975 through 1979. I have very vague memories of the program; they mainly center around Wonder Woman fighting Russians and my having a huge crush on the show’s star, Lynda Carter. The current obscurity of the series speaks to what I presume was its dearth of progressive gender politics, convincing special effects and overall quality. The same could probably be said of 1974 and 2011 TV movies respectively starring Cathy Lee Crosby and Adrianne Palicki and of the (rogue?) 2014 micro-budgeted movie fronted by Veronica Pierce.

Thankfully, the spectacular cinematic staging of the warrior Diana’s origin story in the new Wonder Woman is everything that the previous versions evidently were not. Moreover, this thoroughly impressive production could mark a turning of the tide in DC and Marvel’s movie feud.

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DC vs. Marvel at the movies

August 5, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
Aug. 5, 2017

Author’s note: A few hours after I published this post, I added a note to my ersatz table indicating that two of the listings included ticket sales from the same Marvel movie. MEM

East Coast vs. West Coast, New York vs. Boston, Apple vs. Microsoft, DC vs. Marvel: Each one of these rivalries is famous and hard-fought. But over the past decade or so, perhaps none of these have been so one-sided as that between the two titans of comic books.

Although DC’s Superman and Batman are inarguably the best-known superheroes of all time, Marvel’s superhero teams — the X-Men, the Avengers, the Fantastic Four and, in recent years, the Guardians of the Galaxy — are by far more popular. Moreover, Marvel comics are generally thought to have more artistic merit and to be more socially relevant than DC products.

To add insult to injury, Marvel has been kicking DC’s heinie on the film front for a decade or more. This is despite the fact that DC’s flagship characters were phenomenally successful at the box office and helped establish the comic-book movie as a genre on the strength of productions such as Superman (1978) and Superman II (1980), Tim Burton’s Batman (1989) and Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins (2005) and its 2008 and 2012 sequels.

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Warning: The greatest American heroes, Batman and Superman, aren’t played by Americans!

August 26, 2013

By Matthew E. Milliken
Aug. 26, 2013

Last week, I watched The Dark Knight for the first time. If you have any interest in superhero or action-adventure films but haven’t yet seen this feature, well, why not? What are you waiting for? Get on that right away!

I don’t particularly want to review the film, but I thought it was everything I’d ever been told it was. I enjoyed it much more than Batman Begins, which was written and directed by the same team responsible for 2008’s The Dark Knight and this year’s trilogy capper, The Dark Knight Rises. In fact, this movie is probably the best superhero flick I’ve ever seen — although I ought to admit that I have yet to watch either The Avengers or The Dark Knight Rises.

What I do want to do is write about two different subjects that The Dark Knight brought to mind. One topic is somewhat serious; the other is rather frivolous.

This post will concern the frivolous. Namely: What’s the deal with British actors playing American characters? In fact, what’s the deal with people born in the British Commonwealth playing iconic American characters?

You know who I’m talking about — or if not, you should. Henry Cavill, who plays Superman in this year’s reboot of that film franchise, Man of Steel, is British. Christian Bale, who (I should note) seems to be done playing the Caped Crusader after the three most recent Batman movies, was born in Wales. Daniel Day-Lewis won the 2013 Academy Award for Best Actor for playing Abraham Lincoln, the American president. The Londoner is the only person to win the best actor Oscar three times; Day-Lewis’ 2007 award, for There Will Be Blood, was earned for portraying an American oilman. (His first best actor prize for was playing real-life Irishman Christy Brown in My Left Foot in 1989.)

Of slightly less import, but still outrageous: Robert Pattinson, who plays American vampire Edward Cullen in the Twilight films? He was born in London. Karl Urban from New Zealand plays Bones in the two latest Star Trek movies. That’s right: Dr. Leonard McCoy, physician from the future, the epitome of Southern chivalry of the 23rd century, is personified by a Kiwi! Read the rest of this entry »

‘Man of Steel’ offers a fascinating but rather grim take on DC Comics’ flagship superhero

July 3, 2013

By Matthew E. Milliken
July 3, 2013

There’s only one big problem with Man of Steel, director Zack Snyder’s new reboot of the Superman franchise: It’s just not very fun.

While this isn’t exactly a fatal flaw, it is a serious misstep. Yes, the film features many expected components of a comic book movie. The hero in the requisite form-fitting outfit flies and fights villains and ultimately prevails. But while the exercise is visually impressive, there simply aren’t many smiles to be had. This movie, which cries out for light touches, is dark and brooding and intense.

Snyder, who helmed and/or wrote 300, Watchmen and Sucker Punch, conspires with cinematographer Amir Mokri to drain most of the primary colors from the visual palette. Superman’s formerly bright-blue costume has been dulled to a steely hue; its bright-red highlights have darkened to crimson and been exiled to the hero’s cape. Read the rest of this entry »

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