For the longest time, people have been clamoring for Wonder Woman on film for years, including myself. She is an awesome character with a rich mythology, and in the DC Comics Universe, she’s ranked #3 in the power rankings behind Superman and Batman. This week we got confirmation that Wonder Woman will indeed make her cinematic debut in Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel sequel, and will be played by Fast & Furious star Gal Gadot. While Wonder Woman and Gadot’s casting is certainly the biggest news, I thought this would be a good opportunity to talk about my overall feelings on this insane movie that is scheduled for release in July, 2015. There’s been a lot of divisive, strong, and just emotional outrage on both the positive and negative side with this film, and I just wanted to breakdown what led us here, and offer my two cents along the way. Am I excited? Concerned? Both? Well, let’s grab some kryptonite, a batarang, and the lasso of truth…this is my thesis on the still yet to be titled Man of Steel sequel.
Man of Steel History Lesson:
First of all…how did we get here? Man of Steel opened in June, 2013 with insane amounts of hype. Personally, I absolutely love this movie, and think it’s the best superhero film ever made not in the Dark Knight Trilogy. Most don’t feel this way though. The criticisms of this film were some of the most frustrating and just down right irritating complaints I’ve ever seen for a movie. While Man of Steel did well financially, the negative fan reaction and crap reviews kept it from making the money it should have. In my opinion, Warner Brothers looked at this reaction and decided a straight up Man of Steel sequel would make even less money. They panicked, and at this year’s Comic Con back in July, Zack Snyder stood up and played the Batman card. Yup…Batman and Superman in the same movie. While it was long rumored that Man of Steel would be the launching point for a long-awaited DC cinematic universe, I was really looking forward to a pure Man of Steel sequel. As big a Batman fan as I am, this just didn’t feel right. Then the Batman casting happened…
My initial reaction to Affleck’s casting can be found here, and this might seem a bit like a rehash. Before Affleck’s casting, I was terrified about this film. While I trust Snyder and screenwriter David Goyer implicitly after Man of Steel, Batman’s inclusion in the sequel seemed like a studio decision, and something the filmmakers didn’t want to do. But when Affleck was cast, it actually alleviated most of my concerns. It’s not so much about Affleck donning the cape and cowl, but the fact that he’s choosing to do this tells me Snyder and Goyer have cooked up something truly special. Ben Affleck doesn’t have to do this film. He can direct or star in whatever he wants. But he also knows what it’s like to be at the bottom of the barrel in Hollywood, and is well aware that all eyes will be on him in this role. Bottom-line: if this movie wasn’t something he felt was going to be great, he wouldn’t do it. It’s that simple. That tells me this isn’t just about forcing Batman into a movie for money, but that there is a genuinely awesome story taking place that demands Batman’s involvement.
WONDER WOMAN…and Gal Gadot:
Never in a million years did I imagine Wonder Woman would be making an appearance in this movie. When those rumors first dropped, I simply put them in the vault with other BS rumors of yesteryear such as Johnny Depp is the Riddler, and Angelina Jolie is Catwoman. For years, Warner Brothers has been heavily criticized for not making enough superhero movies. I’m sure the absolute bomb of Green Lantern scared them off from non Batman/Superman films. But when they saw the success of The Avengers, Warner Brothers has been desperately trying to build bridges towards Justice League, and it looks like this Man of Steel sequel is not only a bridge, but practically a Justice League movie in it of itself. I’ll get to my thoughts on that and other rumors soon enough, but I did want to comment on Gal Gadot’s casting briefly. I really don’t have much to say. I don’t care for the Fast & Furious movies. I’ve only seen one, and don’t remember her at all. To me, she’s basically an unknown, which is usually a good thing when a new superhero is casted. While Zack Snyder has missed on some casting (Malin Akerman in Watchmen, everybody in Sucker Punch), I trust his talent evaluation for the most part, but Gadot’s casting is basically a wait and see.
Nightwing! The Flash! Doomsday! So Many Rumors…AHHHHHH!:
While I thought the Wonder Woman rumors were BS, The Flash/Nightwing rumors I found truly ludicrous. But now with Wonder Woman coming to fruition, nothing would surprise me anymore. First of all, these are just rumors, and typically I hate discussing anything that’s not official. But let’s assume for the moment that all this is actually true, and we have a movie with Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Nightwing, and big name villains yet to be determined. I know it’s easy to look at all those names and say “How can they all be in this? Ehhhhhhhhhh, it’s too crowded! It’s going to suck. Ehhhhhhhhhh!” If I may, let me rant for a bit…
Movies get made in Hollywood that aren’t just superhero films. I know…stop the presses. And you know what else? Sometimes these movies have a shit load of characters, and not all of them are going to get equal screen time and character development. That doesn’t mean they can’t be great characters. Maybe Wonder Woman will be in two scenes. But if it’s two well written scenes with a strong characterization that serves the story, what’s the problem? Characters serve specific roles in films. Look at Inception….tons of characters, but they all had a role to serve in the story, and were well written with distinctive personalities. Nobody complained about Inception’s giant cast beforehand though because it wasn’t a superhero movie with superhero characters. I absolutely hate that superhero fans enact this stigma of “if you include a name hero or villain in your movie, that means they have to get equal screen time, otherwise you’re just forcing the character, it’s just a marketing ploy, yadda, yadda, yadda, negative, negative, negative, it’s all going to suck.” Let me give you an actual superhero example of this. Strap yourselves in, because I’m going to get controversial and talk about *gasp* Spider-Man 3. (Spider-Man 3 Spoilers Next Paragraph)
Let me be very clear about something…I hate Spider-Man 3. It is an awful, terrible, atrocious, no good, very bad film. Have I made myself clear? Okay, moving on…BUT the one element I actually did like about Spider-Man 3 was the Eddie Brock/Venom character, which is ironically what people detest most about this movie. But the reason people hated Venom is because Venom is a fan favorite, and comic book fans were incapable of taking off their comic book glasses, and not looking at it as a movie. In this particular film, Eddie Brock served a great story purpose. I like the rivalry and jealously he had with Peter Parker, and the idea of Eddie being corrupted by the same symbiote that manipulated Spider-Man was intriguing. But in Eddie’s case, the symbiote became his downfall, whereas Peter defeated it. Eddie’s character served a purpose, but people complained because they only saw him as Venom in one scene, and then promptly killed the character off. This isn’t the comics…it’s a movie, and as a movie, the Eddie Brock/Venom character worked, and his death served the story extremely well.
Maybe the Flash will be in this Man of Steel sequel. Maybe it’s literally one scene. But if it’s a scene that serves the story, then the use of the character is a success. Believe me, if the Flash, Nightwing, Wonder Woman, or whoever else shows up simply because of their name, or to sell an action figure, I’ll call the film out on it. And that type of stuff is still a concern for me. But just because these characters have rich histories and back logs of comic books, doesn’t automatically mean they demand equal screen time with everybody else. It all depends on the particular movie that is being made.
I’m excited for this film just on pure fascination of how it comes together. My biggest concern with this movie though is the fan reaction to Man of Steel causing the filmmakers to change the tone of the universe. In The Dark Knight era of 2008, people were gung-ho about dark, gritty, and serious comic book movies. Now people seem to complain about this (Man of Steel), and want the light, fluffy, Joss Whedon joke-fests of The Avengers and Thor: The Dark World. If the tone that was established in Man of Steel was abandoned to create a safer movie, that would be a damn tragedy. With David Goyer and Zack Snyder at the helm, I don’t believe that’s going to happen. And I just can’t imagine Ben Affleck putting directorial projects on hold to be in a movie that is just popcorn fluff with a bunch of one-liners and forced characters. Warner Brothers is going all in with this film, and it’s undoubtedly a risk. But if a movie with Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and whoever else, reaches the potential it can…OMFG.