Monday, November 27, 2017

Week of 11/27/2017

Warner Bros Do Not Deserve DC!
You know, I’m going to come out and say it…
What the hell, Warner Brothers?!?
Longtime readers know that I’m a big supporter of Superman and DC Comics.  Of course, when I first read Superman comics, DC Comics was self-owned.  Then it got purchased by Time-Warner, which owns the film titan Warner Brothers.  And for the longest time, this partnership helped, because Warner Brothers could call on DC heroes for superhero movies.  Superman and Batman, of course, were the big guns for the WB.  They were the money-makers.  And when they weren’t spending money on live-action movies, they were doing TV cartoons and animated motion pictures.
It was a win-win for them.  They owned the rights to all the characters they could use for their productions.  This was something that Marvel Comics could not claim, after selling the movie rights of their biggest money-makers to Universal and Sony and 20th Century Fox.
But lately, the overpaid executives in Warner Brothers have been screwing up as bad as the Democratic Party when it comes to their DC heroes and villains.
First, they countered the financial success of Marvel Studio with “Man of Steel”, which was a controversial reboot of the Superman cinematic franchise.  Instead of the iconic superhero, we got a brooding and sullen drifter.  A “Superman” that quite literally was made by the same people that just rebooted the “Batman” series for the “Dark Knight” trilogy.  It did okay in the box office and it divided diehard Superman fans as to whether or not we got the hero we deserved.
Then director Zach Snyder hit the “reboot” button again for Batman and putting him in the next movie: “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice”.  The problem being that he pitted his newly-rebooted legends against each other, made Superman into a villain (no, really, he did), and then killed him off.  (Oops.  Spoilers.)
But that would be okay, right?  It made money.  It made good money.  Who cares if it pissed off fans?  Who cares if it alienates the very people that have kept these characters alive in their hearts and minds for three-quarters of a century?  It made Warner Brothers almost a billion dollars and that is all that matters to them.
And then afterward... “Suicide Squad” was good, but pissed people off simply because it was in the same universe as BvS.  But then “Wonder Woman” did good, mostly because of director Patty Jenkins keeping it light and upbeat and optimistic and not “BvS”.
And then…
Loyal DC fans have been nervous about Snyder’s third movie, “Justice League”.  Snyder and his wife were the overseers of the DC Cinematic Universe since “Man of Steel”, and with the exception of “Wonder Woman”, we’ve been left a little disappointed.  We’ve been wanting a DC version of Marvel’s success, being able to have a string of movies that bring DC’s characters to the big screen just like the Disney-owned competition.
And in between these movies, we’ve been teased with ideas about other movies. A sequel to “Suicide Squad” and “Wonder Woman”, solo films for Aquaman and Flash and Cyborg, a movie about the Green Lantern Corps and Shazam, even a solo movie for Batman.  These gave us reasons to hope and to endure the disappointments.
But then came the rumors.  All those great ideas end up being just that.  The solo movie for Batman gets a new director and then the script gets wiped and suddenly rumors are abound of Ben Affleck wanting to leave.  The solo movie for Flash becomes “Flashpoint”, the storyline that rebooted the DC Comic universe into something worse.  That’s pretty much like going from Issue #0 right to Issue #500 and expecting people to just go with it.  Someone decides to come up with a Joker and Harley Quinn movie that has no connection to the DCCU at all and make it like a “young romance” deal.
And then comes “Justice League”.  The movie that had to be finished with “Avengers” director Joss Wheedon because of a Snyder family loss.  A good movie, but not great, hacked to conform to some micromanaged artificial timeframe, and quickly mocked by haters.  And then, to add insult to injury, it gives a mediocre return at the box office.
Now everything is up in the air.  The solo “Batman” movie may or may not happen and it may or may not have someone other than Ben Affleck as Batman.  The Flash movie is missing a director.  The “Wonder Woman” sequel is supposedly a go, but that is still just talk right now.  The solo “Aquaman” movie is done shooting, but that may very well be the last DCCU movie.
And that makes me again ask… what the hell, Warner Brothers?
Let’s get brutally honest here… Warner Brothers has been doing the world of DC Comics a huge disservice when it comes to movies.  Sure they have ideas and money and talent, but they lack the means of translating all of that into putting DC’s characters onto the big screen and keep doing it.  They want the kind of money Marvel has been bringing into Disney, but they just can’t seem to make it happen.
What the executives at Warner Brothers need to do is to swallow their arrogance and their pride and put the DC Cinematic Universe under better direction.  They need to stop talking about hitting the “reboot” button and stop talking about ending the DCCU and instead go all-in with someone in charge of the vision.  Warner Brothers already has a division called DC Entertainment, which has been doing a great job coming up with direct-to-video animated movies.  Maybe what Warner Brothers needs to do is to put all of their live-action DC worlds in there as well; movies and TV and online and direct-to-video.
The other thing that Warner Brothers doesn’t seem to understand is that DC is not like Marvel.  Marvel’s characters are supposed to be more down-to-Earth.  They’re supposed to be more practical and more realistic.  Well, with the exception of Thor.  But that’s their schtick.  DC, on the other hand, is meant to be iconic and legendary.
If you ever saw the documentary “The Death of Superman Lives”, then you’d know that Warner Brothers really screwed themselves over the multiple attempts to remake Superman prior to “Superman Returns”.  That’s how you turn a good idea into an existentialist abomination featuring Nicholas Cage as Superman.  That’s what WB execs did to Superman because they simply did not understand the character.
“Wonder Woman” succeeded because director Patty Jenkins understood the character.  “Justice League” redeemed itself to many fans because Joss Wheedon knew how to make superhero movies work and made the right tweaks to Snyder’s vision.  DC needs to follow through and move forward, not look for a reset button.  They don’t need to remake anything.  They have all the material they need already.  They just have to be allowed to make it happen, and in a timeframe that the fans would appreciate.
There is an old saying that too many cooks spoil the broth.  It is high time that Warner Brothers learn from their mistakes and let the DC world show them how to make superhero movies.  Make the good story first, the kind that the fans want to see, then the money will follow.  That’s how you match Marvel and eventually beat them.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Week of 11/20/2017

America’s Misandry
Attention my fellow American males!
I have a simple warning for us all.
We are all screwed!
I am not kidding about this.  I wish I were.  If you have male genitalia and you are currently breathing and have a pulse and you live in America, you are now a potential target for those seeking payback for the worst of the worst of our gender.
It’s a dangerous and destructive trend in this country.  We overreact to some action with another one that is just as bad.  And it’s not quid-pro-quo either.  It’s making everyone pay for a sin of the few.  An affront somewhere leads to a counter-affront everywhere.
When Anita Hill exposed a United States Supreme Court justice nominee as being a possible sexual harasser, it didn’t stop his confirmation.  It did start a trend of making every male not rich or powerful or politically-connected go through sexual harassment “training” to learn what good guys already know.  That you don’t treat women like objects.  That women are not there “for you”.  They couldn’t make Clarence Thomas pay the price for his actions, so the rest of the men who aren’t rich or powerful or politically-connected had to pay in his place.
This was the start of America’s creeping misandry; the hatred of men just for being men.
Just a few years after Clarence Thomas was confirmed in defiance of the accusations of sexual harassment, the conservatives countered with President Bill Clinton and his multiple accusations of infidelity.  Because this is what American politics does now. It counters an affront with another affront.  Negation through equivocation.  Liberal women went after Thomas, so conservative men would go after Clinton, and, later, his wife, and at first it was because of her husband.  Soccer moms versus NASCAR dads. 
Of course, they didn’t succeed in getting rid of President Clinton, even after being the second sitting president impeached in American history.  But that didn’t matter, because conservatives had their counter-affront for Justice Thomas.  Negation through equivocation.
Today we are going through it all over again.
It started with then-candidate Donald Trump.  The perpetual overexaggerated and overly-self-promoted narcissistic clown act had a history with women that was far from gentlemanly, and that was before the infamous “grab ‘em” tape from 2005 was made public.  But that didn’t stop him from being elected and sworn-in as President of the United States.  And when women protested with their pink hats, they were scolded and mocked.  How dare they!  How dare they be mocked!
Then came the inability to convict Bill Cosby, “America’s granddad”, for his so-called “dating” practices.  And then Harvey Weinstein.  And “the hashtag”.  And Brett Rattner.  And Louis C.K.  And Oliver Stone.  And Kevin Spacey.  And suddenly every sin came out.  Every foul joke, every bad comment, every weird proposition ever made by anyone with male genitalia, no matter how ancient, suddenly became the new unforgivable act that demands immediate atonement.  Jason Momoa made a bad joke way back when and now he’s being judged and asked to atone for it instead of celebrating his breakout role in “Justice League” with his newly-married wife and kids.  His co-star Ben Affleck faces the same pompous misandrist judgement for things he did eleven years previously.
And now we have America’s ayatollah, the dishonorable Judge Roy Moore, and the multiple accounts of him preying on teenaged girls decades ago.  And, no matter what, both he and his equally pompous and self-righteous religious crusaders and defenders refuse to back down.  He may be elected to the United States Senate, to fill the seat that was vacated by the man who actually had a woman arrested and prosecuted for heckling his confirmation hearing as Attorney General!  Why?  Because it is supposedly a greater “sin” in Alabama to elect a Democrat than it is to elect a suspected serial predator of young girls!  That is no sane kind of “family value” that anyone should ever be proud of! 
Then there is the recent revelation that current U.S. Senator and former comedian Al Franken groped a former model from eleven years ago.  And she had a picture to prove his douchebag moment. 
Will he resign?  Maybe.  But the sheer hypocrisy of President “Grab ‘Em” Trump calling out Franken’s actions but not those of the dishonorable Alabama judge is nothing short of pouring salt and lemon juice on our national wound.  Here is a president that will never be held to account for his past actions hypocritically attacking the senator that does own up to his mistake, and then staying silent about the senate candidate who did far worse than just pose for a photo or press for a kiss or a grope. 
Yeah, none of these men are shining examples of the male gender.
So I have to ask this question to the women…
How far will this whole thing go?  How long before the rest of the male populace in America are scrutinized and judged and condemned for every little comment or bad joke or bad maneuver in their past?
I’m already seeing this turn towards the common male with the calls for new so-called “sensitivity seminars” in workplaces, which means any kind of joke that involves gender or references someone of another gender will now be “forbidden”.  How many ordinary hard-working men will lose their jobs because of an off-color comment made in the break room five years ago just because you can’t get justice for what Roy Moore or President Trump did?  How long before someone like me becomes a victim to the creeping misandry because they once had a subscription to Playboy Magazine or liked a certain raunchy comedian?  Because now you would be making this personal. 
And all because you can’t get Bill Cosby convicted, or get Donald Trump to resign, or because Roy Moore and his supporters won’t do the sane thing and crawl back under their Southern rocks.
Everyone needs to understand this: when this gets down to my level, there is no “debate” or “dialogue” or “discussion” on the subject.  There is lecture and policy and prohibitive action with people yearning to make an easy actionable statistic at anyone’s expense.  There is accusation, persecution, and conviction without any means of defending yourself.  “Oh, you lost your job?  Too bad.  Now you know how ‘they’ feel.”
Except that we don’t.  Because when you get down to my level, we are not the ones that have any kind of power, never mind over someone of another gender.  We are just the poor peons that are just trying to get bills paid and families fed and keep the bank from taking away our home and our sole means of transportation.
Because let’s get brutally here… when you bring this matter down to my level, you are no longer going after men in power.  You’re just going after men for being men.  In other words, you’re carrying out misandry, which is just as wrong as misogyny.  And I would hope that your mothers taught you that two wrongs still do not make a right.
As long as you keep the subject to the actual people with power… people like Harvey Weinstein, Brett Rattner, President Trump, Kevin Spacey, former President Bill Clinton, the Fox News executives and media personalities, you will have plenty of support for condemnation and also for change. 
Truth be told, you’ll find a lot of guys think that think these folks are scum as well.  They’re embarrassments to the male gender.  I mean, come on!  Have you seen Harvey Weinstein? 
The problem is the power, not the gender.  That is what you need to focus on.  And when you do that, you will find that the rest of the men, the ones that haven’t yet gotten the memo that this sort of stuff is wrong, will be more conductive to change.
Until we know that line is drawn, though... men, we’re screwed.