Showing posts with label wonder woman. Show all posts
Showing posts with label wonder woman. Show all posts

Friday, 20 May 2022

George Pérez: Infinite Titan

Poignantly, George Pérez's passing was announced on Free Comic Book Day (FCBD). An artist whose work I admired long before I knew of the man.

Nick Smith, our resident US-based comic book guru, remembers a beloved creative titan who has left an enduring legacy at both DC and Marvel Comics.

Guest post by Nick Smith

There has been a justified outpouring of tributes to artist George Pérez since he passed away on May 6th. The wealth of well-meaning is justified. Pérez was lauded as a man who cemented the modern look of comic book icons like Wonder Woman and the Teen Titans. He was also a joyful bloke with an infectious enthusiasm for his craft.

His death seems sudden, even though he announced last year that he had been diagnosed with Stage 3 pancreatic cancer. By that stage, cancer had spread beyond his pancreas. A late-stage diagnosis gives a patient less than a year to live.

Pérez faced the news with great courage and decided to ‘let nature take its course.’ Now he’s gone, leaving a mountain of treasure in the form of stories he wrote and/or drew. He’s being remembered as the man who could do anything - draw any and all characters in epics like War of the Gods; write character-driven drama, kung fu thrillers, monster comics or cosmic epics.

My first brush with the artist’s work was in a strip that showed his versatility – a short story called War Toy, originally published in Unknown Worlds of Science Fiction #2. I found it when it was reprinted during the Star Wars craze of the late ‘70s. Written by Tony Isabella with art by Pérez and Rico Rival, it tells the tale of robot soldier FM-1 (“Fighting Man-1”) blessed with independent thought, left to rust in a gutter in peacetime.

There’s action, as FM-1 aces a test run; an alien invasion of Australia; a tribute to “Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima;” and a touching relationship between a father and son, even though the son is a robot.

The story is a heavy-pistoned analogy for our treatment of veterans. Yet the way the characters are drawn shows great finesse and humanity, from FM-1’s military dad to a sympathetic reporter to the tin soldier himself, who bares his teeth-grille and flashes his eye as he considers his fate.

I could pick any one of a hundred Pérez tableaux and have positive words to share about them. But War Toy has stuck with me for over four decades and still gives me goosebumps when I read it today. Pérez had a way of heightening and humanising ideas and making them resonate with readers.

His legacy goes beyond comics, to TV (epitomised by The CW’s Crisis on Infinite Earths), movies (including 2017’s Wonder Woman and Marvel’s Infinity War, which pulled many details from the Infinity Gauntlet miniseries he co-pencilled) and cartoons (with at least one generation of children happily raised on Teen Titans). He has left a great gap in the creative world of comics, one that will never be filled.

What are your memories of comic book legend George Pérez? Let me know in the comments below.

Tuesday, 9 November 2021

Patty Jenkins' Star Wars movie delayed

The Hollywood Reporter (THR) exclusively reports the much-hyped Star Wars: Rogue Squadron has been delayed indefinitely.

The upcoming standalone Star Wars movie, from director Patty Jenkins (Wonder Woman 1984), was announced with considerable fanfare in 2020. But Wonder Woman 1984 was met with a mostly muted response from fans, and any initial enthusiasm soon simmered down.

However, there's purportedly a scheduling conflict, which would mean the first film since Star Wars: The Rise of the Skywalker won't be completed in time for release in 2023.

Jenkins recently teased Wonder Woman 3 for Warner Bros. during DC FanDome 2021 and has been seen in New York with Lynda Carter who is starring alongside Gal Gadot.

Beginning with The Mandalorian, Lucasfilm has pivoted towards Disney+ and is enjoying deserved success with its animated and live-action Star Wars spin-offs. The Book of Boba Fett premieres over the holiday season and Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi and the third season of The Mandalorian are on Disney+ in 2022.

Are you disappointed Star Wars: Rogue Squadron has been delayed? Let me know in the comments below.

Monday, 18 October 2021

Holy DC FanDome, Batman!

DC FanDome was in response to the ongoing global pandemic and lockdowns, which saw conventions cancelled en masse last year.

Wisely, Warner Bros. has brought it back for a second year and, like many DC Comics fans, I'd be pleased to see DC FanDome become an annual online event to watch on my Apple TV.

Nick Smith, my US-based partner in comic book crime-fighting, has thoughts...

Guest post by Nick Smith

Batman is big business. After eight decades in the public consciousness, the franchise character is estimated to have earned almost $28 billion in retail, box office returns and other media. But it’s not just the Dark Knight who brings in the bucks – Bruce’s just a bonus. DC FanDome’s 2021 line-up shows how much the Bat-family has grown in popularity over recent years.

DC FanDome is a virtual event designed to showcase new or returning projects and celebrate the publishing company’s beloved characters. This year’s ‘ultimate DC fan experience’ included clips and interviews available to watch on YouTube. Many of those clips were based around the Bat.

The FanDome’s sneak peeks, presented by actors, directors and producers, included Batwoman, Batgirl, Titans, Harley Quinn, a Gotham Knights game, Catwoman: Hunted, Batman Unburied, Batman: Wayne Family Adventures, Batman: Caped Crusader and Pennyworth, all birthed in the streets of Gotham.

Even Todd McFarlane got in on the act, discussing the merger with DC Direct and McFarlane Toys, focusing on Batman-related figurines in what felt more like a sales expo pitch than a guest appearance from a well-known comics creator.

DC’s emphasis on its best-known characters – Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman (celebrating her 80th anniversary) – is understandable. They’re a known quantity that casual fans want to see and are more likely to spend money on. But the company has dozens of heroes and villains to promote in the hope that one of them will take off in movie theatres or on TV, so it would be good to see more balance and diversity on a day like this.

There were breaks from the big guns. Members of the general public don’t know Black Adam from… Adam. But they know Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, who hyped up a Black Adam flick last year. With a summer 2022 release date, Johnson was back with a preview showing Adam’s intro.

Other segments had stars to help raise the stature of their projects: Jason Momoa (Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom), John Cena (Peacemaker), Zachary Levi (Shazam! Fury of the Gods). News Flashes were reported by Candice Patton (Iris West-Allen on TV). All these teases and news bites led up to a new trailer for The Batman, the COVID-slowed feature film arriving (we hope) in March 2022.

The major project delays were cheekily acknowledged, especially in a tiny tease for the live-action feature The Flash (adapting Flashpoint) and an animated pastiche plugging an unfinished new season of Harley Quinn. It might have been the music or Ezra Miller’s candid intro but the Flash tease proved less is more… right down to the final non-image of a batmobile. Which model will it be? We’ll have to wait until they film more of the movie to find out.

This brings us back to The Batman, keeping his presence felt throughout the FanDome. The latest take on the caped crusader is appropriately dark and gritty, with a Blade Runner-bricked landscape, an Edward Hopper-style opening image and other trailer tropes we’ve come to expect. Slowed-down rock song? Check. Rapid flashes to black? Check. Vengeful hero? Double-check. The focus this time is on violence (lots of punching, hitting and crashing) leavened by Zoe Kravitz’s caring Catwoman.

Director Matt Reeves has given this film a lot of TLC and attempts to give hoary chestnut images a new spin. Case in point: The Batman walks away from a wall of fire a la RoboCop and countless other movie heroes; this shot is upside down. We also get a good hard look at Batman’s bullet-proof chin; shots bounce of Robert Pattinson’s chiselled jaw.

The more I watch the trailer, the more I like it but the Flash tease gives me more goosebumps per second, even though we’ve seen Flashpoint regurgitated multiple timelines’ worth in comics, animated movies and on TV. Both new films look solid, as well as less famed features like Blue Beetle, starring Xolo Maridueña.

DC FanDome is a convention with no queues and no expensive entry fees. Everyone gets a front-row seat. There are downsides though: no Q&A this year, no one-on-one meetings with the stars and, most importantly, no in-person camaraderie among fans.

Presented as a digital storefront, this year’s DC FanDome seems more like lip service to comic book aficionados. We are told, ‘you’re the best fans ever.’ Yes, we are. But the best way to remind and reward us is to provide more collaborative content. It’s time to spend Bruce Wayne’s billions to utilize the internet’s full interactive capabilities.

Did you watch DC FanDome? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below.

Friday, 13 August 2021

The Suicide Squad

The future of cinema (as we know it) is at a crossroads enforced by the ongoing pandemic. Studios continue to grapple with the controversial implications of simultaneously releasing movies in theatres and on streaming services.

However, this has allowed for uniquely fan-driven fare Zack Snyder's Justice League, which was the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) recut I didn't know I needed when it premiered on HBO Max and Sky Cinema earlier this year.

Nick Smith, our US-based stellar scribe, follows Wonder Woman 1984 on HBO Max with The Suicide Squad in a darkened theatre. Can director James Gunn reinvent these misfits into DC Comics' Guardians of the Galaxy?

Guest post by Nick Smith

I’m in a minority liking the original Suicide Squad movie, released back in August 2016. I was happy to see a comic book I grew up with adapted into a $175 million blockbuster. I admired the cast, which included Will Smith and Margot Robbie, bringing their acting chops to a beat-‘em-up.

I was aware that the film had been criticized for not being all it could be, and that the project had taken 7 years to get to the screen with reshoots thanks to, as actor Joel Kinnaman recently put it, ‘conflicting visions.’ What director David Ayer intended as, ‘a soulful drama,’ Ayer wrote on Twitter, ‘was beaten into a comedy.’ No wonder the result was messy.

Nevertheless, I have a soft spot for scrappy underdogs who don’t fit in with expectations and apparently, I’m not totally alone. ‘I have to give the characters the stories and plots they deserve next time,’ Ayer mope-tweeted, probably while counting his pay – the film earned over $746 million.

Criticisms of that first film ranged from ‘ugly and boring’ (Vanity Fair) to ‘ugly trash’ (Wall Street Journal). Suicide Squad aspired to be punk art; it was a supervillain version of 1967’s The Dirty Dozen, which is an action movie with some great acting and characters, dark humour and nihilistic violence? Were reviewers expecting something deeper, or were they anticipating pretty petals exploding out of soldiers when they died?

If that is what they wanted then 5 years later, James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad delivers, complete with the flowers. For consistency’s sake, 4 actors reprise their roles: Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney) and Amanda Waller (perfectly brought to life by Viola Davis). Like the first movie, The Suicide Squad sequel had growing pains – 3 different directors, a switch of one of the main characters in the hopes that Will Smith would return in the future, and helmer James Gunn’s temporary fall out of Hollywood favour for what Christ Pratt called, ‘inappropriate jokes from years ago.’

Despite all that, the new film feels cohesive under the writer/director guidance of Gunn. Like the best parts of its predecessor, it hearkens back to John Ostrander’s 1980s comic book run, featuring a group of losers most of whom the public hasn’t heard of.

Gunn’s major improvement is making his losers more likeable. We worry about them as bullets fly, buildings topple and people get eaten around them. ‘If you don’t care about the characters,’ Gunn told USA Today, ‘the heads exploding don’t really matter.’

The obscurest characters get the most sympathy – Ratcatcher 2 (played by Daniela Melchior) has a backstory that got me quite choked up, Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchian) has massive mommy issues, King Shark (voiced by Sylvester Stallone) suffers pangs of loneliness. This is Hollywood character-building, to be sure – nothing too deep or unrelatable – but in the context of a quirky action flick, Gunn gets it. We are engaged, emotionally and visually.

Gunn’s narrative surprises keep us guessing who will survive and what will be left of them (the teaser posters say, ‘don’t get too attached.’). There’s great attention to detail (a gate leaves grooves in the ground as if it’s been opened and closed thousands of times; realistic gore is pecked from a headless corpse). The film is broken into chapters with Will Eisner-style titles formed out of the landscape. The Squad’s silver age appearances in The Brave and the Bold and Star Spangled War Stories are homaged with a show-stomping villain later in the movie.

In the centre of all this action and affectionate comic-bookery are Bloodsport (Idris Elba), a rewrite of Will Smith’s Deadshot that doesn’t feel like a mere replacement thanks to Elba’s gravitas; and Harley Quinn, in Robbie’s best performance so far as the demented, homicidal but somehow still utterly affable anti-hero.

Audiences might come for the comedy, the vivid imagery and war movie vibes but they’ll leave with feels for the craftily developed characters who are searching for a misfit family of their own, conflicting visions and all.

Have you seen The Suicide Squad? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, 29 April 2021

DC FanDome returns this October

DC FanDome, a stay-at-home 24-hour online event covering all things DC Comics, was a major success last August and is coming back this October.

The official announcement from Warner Bros. reads: “Having reached fans across 220 countries and territories with over 22 million views, this year the innovative, global fan experience returns on October 16, 2021!”

Hopefully, Batman fans (myself included) will learn more about director Matt Reeves' upcoming reboot starring Robert Pattinson (Tenet) as the titular dark detective.

Stay tuned for further coverage of DC FanDome.

Monday, 22 March 2021

Zack Snyder's Justice League: Justice is Gray

Zack Snyder's Justice League is a hit with fans and critics on HBO Max and Sky Cinema. The director took to Twitter to announce an upcoming black and white version titled Zack Snyder's Justice League: Justice is Gray.

A black and white IMAX 4:3 aspect ratio version is definitive. “That, to me, is the most fan-centric, most pure, most Justice League experience,” the Justice League director continued. “Because that’s how I lived with the movie for two years, in black and white…when I do the live-stream of the trailer, Steph and I colored a black and white version of the trailer. So the first version that I’m going to put out, and probably what I’m going to talk about on Tuesday, will be the black and white version of the trailer.”

Zack Snyder's Justice League: Justice is Gray will include exclusive extra footage of Jared Leto's Joker.

Pre-order Zack Snyder's Justice League on Blu-ray (affiliate link).

Will you be rewatching the 4-hour movie in black and white? Let me know in the comments below.

Saturday, 20 March 2021

The Fellowship of the Justice League

The fabled #ReleaseTheSnyderCut of Justice League arrived on HBO Max and Sky Cinema this week, bringing with it the hefty expectations of millions of DC Comics fans (myself included) in lockdown.

It’s a uniquely fan-driven pop culture event arriving amidst a global pandemic where the creative industry is under siege from socio-economic forces.

Over six chapters and an epilogue, director Zack Snyder (Man of Steel) serves up an epic 4-hour IMAX comic book adventure with the scope of The Lord of the Rings, led by supervillain Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds) as he searches for the 3 Mother Boxes to appease Darkseid (Ray Porter).

Meanwhile, Batman (Ben Affleck) is assembling a superhero team to thwart the threat of alien invasion in the aftermath of Superman’s (Henry Cavill) death in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

This parallels Marvel Studios’ decade-spanning The Infinity Saga in a condensed format, which has always been DC Comics’ big screen Achilles heel as nothing feels earned. However, the 4-hour format works here in a way not possible in a multiplex environment.

I decided to consume chapters, over consecutive evenings, on Sky Cinema and became immersed in an episodic story that has time to breath replete with a compelling origin story for Cyborg (Ray Fisher) and a playful interplay between beloved superheroes. The Flash's (Ezra Miller) banter with his superhero teammates is a standout.

In many ways, Zack Snyder’s Justice League is best viewed as a standalone movie (forcibly as I’ve not religiously followed the so-called SnyderVerse's appetite for destruction) and is vested further poignancy in the wake of Snyder’s daughter’s suicide during the production of the original movie, which culminated in his departure.

Whilst it retains the exuberant self-styled motifs of the director's oeuvre, Justice League has evolved into the Snyders touching tribute to their late daughter as a sense of loss and grief permeates the fabric of this operatic film. Even Superman’s iconic black suit could be construed as emblematic of mourning.

His best movie since Watchmen. Zack Snyder’s Justice League is the superhero recut I didn’t know I needed. The original, a hot mess under the auspices of director Joss Whedon (Avengers: Assemble), is now reforged into something special. HBO Max could be the perfect playground to continue his planned trilogy. #RestoreTheSnyderVerse is trending.

Final thoughts coalesce around the affecting memory of a conversation with a school friend who suddenly passed away. We’d mused on what if... ? there was a Snyder cut, and here it is. Think they would have approved.

Pre-order Zack Snyder's Justice League on Blu-ray (affiliate link).

Have you seen Zack Snyder’s Justice League? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, 11 March 2021

Zack Snyder's Justice League on Sky Cinema

Zack Snyder's Justice League will premiere exclusively on Sky Cinema and NOW TV in the UK, day and date with HBO Max.

The much-maligned Justice League (2017) has received a $70 million do-over for HBO Max by director Zack Snyder (Man of Steel), who had to bow out of the production due to his daughter’s suicide. However, sources have subsequently suggested that there were studio concerns over the movie’s overly dark direction before Snyder’s familial tragedy.

Joss Whedon (Avengers) was parachuted in to finish Justice League but failed to replicate the critical and commercial success of Marvel Studios’ Avengers (2012).

Here's the official synopsis:

"In Zack Snyder's Justice League, determined to ensure Superman’s (Henry Cavill) ultimate sacrifice was not in vain, Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) aligns forces with Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) with plans to recruit a team of metahumans to protect the world from an approaching threat of catastrophic proportions. The task proves more difficult than Bruce imagined, as each of the recruits must face the demons of their own pasts to transcend that which has held them back, allowing them to come together, finally forming an unprecedented league of heroes. Now united, Batman (Affleck), Wonder Woman (Gadot), Aquaman (Jason Momoa), Cyborg (Ray Fisher) and The Flash (Ezra Miller) may be too late to save the planet from Steppenwolf, DeSaad and Darkseid and their dreadful intentions."

Now running at 4-hours, and rated R, the new recut of Justice League will be presented in six individual chapters and a 20-minute epilogue.

The chapters are titled:

“Don’t Count On It, Batman”

“The Age Of Heroes”

“Beloved Mother, Beloved Son”

“Change Machine”

“All The King’s Horses”

“Something Darker”

Epilogue: "A Father Twice Over"

Zack Snyder's Justice League premieres on HBO Max and Sky Cinema on 18th March. I'll be reviewing it soon.

Are you looking forward to Zack Snyder's Justice League? Let me know in the comments below.

Monday, 15 February 2021

Zack Snyder's Justice League teases Joker

Warner Bros. has released an official trailer for the Zack Snyder (Man of Steel) cut of Justice League in hopes of attracting new subscribers to HBO Max as rival Disney+ heads towards 100 million. Jared Leto's Joker has sent fans into a frenzy.

Here's the official synopsis:

"In Zack Snyder's Justice League, determined to ensure Superman’s (Henry Cavill) ultimate sacrifice was not in vain, Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) aligns forces with Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) with plans to recruit a team of metahumans to protect the world from an approaching threat of catastrophic proportions. The task proves more difficult than Bruce imagined, as each of the recruits must face the demons of their own pasts to transcend that which has held them back, allowing them to come together, finally forming an unprecedented league of heroes. Now united, Batman (Affleck), Wonder Woman (Gadot), Aquaman (Jason Momoa), Cyborg (Ray Fisher), and The Flash (Ezra Miller) may be too late to save the planet from Steppenwolf, DeSaad, and Darkseid and their dreadful intentions."

If you're wondering why it's framed in 4:3, Snyder wanted to utilise the full IMAX format.

"My intent was to have the movie, the entire film, play in a gigantic 1:43 aspect ratio on a giant IMAX screen," Snyder said at Justice Con. "Superheroes tend to be, as figures, they tend to be less horizontal. Maybe Superman when he's flying. But when he's standing, he's more of a vertical. Everything is composed and shot that way, and a lot of the restoration is sort of trying to put that back. Put these big squares back. ... It's a completely different aesthetic. It's just got a different quality and one that is unusual. No one's doing that."

Will it entice new viewers like Wonder Woman 1984 did at Christmas?

At first blush, it looks markedly superior to the murky mess Joss Whedon (Avengers: Age of Ultron) hurriedly directed after Snyder had to leave the production due to a family tragedy. It was no Avengers Assemble. WarnerMedia has purportedly poured $70 million into the production with a runtime of 4-hours when it's released on 18th March.

Are you looking forward to Zack Snyder's Justice League on HBO Max? Let me know in the comments below.

Sunday, 24 January 2021

Pandemic pushes back No Time To Die

It's fair to say a lifelong love of fast cars and gadgets was influenced by the James Bond franchise and its merchandise. So much so, the iconic Aston Martin DB5 inspired over 2 decades of silver car ownership beginning with a Rover 200 in the late nineties. In 2011, I was featured in both BMW and Motability magazines with my 1 Series Coupé M Sport.

The status quo ended with an eyecatching Misano Blue BMW 1 Series M Sport (nicknamed TARDIS hot wheels), collected the week before the first coronavirus lockdown last March. Listening to John Barry and David Arnold's soundtracks enlivened weekly essential shopping trips to Aldi in the 'new normal'.

However, Andrew Lewin cautioned such a scenario could lead to 'exuberant' driving. I cannot confirm if this is true, but I have been channelling a socially distanced Bond when talking to admirers of my latest car.

Like most Bond fans, I've waited patiently for Daniel Craig's swansong in the titular role. No Time To Die has been pushed back, again, until October and at this stage in the pandemic, I wish there was an opportunity to watch at home in lockdown. Disney released Pixar's Soul on Disney+ and Warner Bros. followed suit with Wonder Woman 1984 on HBO Max.

There are persistent rumours No Time To Die may appear on Apple TV+. The Cupertino-based tech giant has the cash to spare ahead of an expected record-breaking $100 billion quarter.

Even when theatres can safely reopen, many cinemagoers (myself included) will be reluctant to return. What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, 17 December 2020

Watch the opening scene from Wonder Woman 1984

The opening scene from director Patty Jenkins' Wonder Woman 1984 was released during the return of DC FanDome on Tuesday. Gal Gadot reprises the role of everyone's favourite Amazonian princess.

The sequel to Wonder Woman is coming to theatres and HBO Max at no extra cost to subscribers on Christmas Day. The official HBO Max app is now available for PlayStation 5 (PS5) and Roku devices in readiness.

Wonder Woman 1984 is currently on limited release, due to the pandemic, in the UK. Reviews suggest it's the equal of the beloved original and let's hope fans (myself included) won't have to wait too long for a home release on Sky Cinema.

Jenkins' next film foray is Star Wars: Rogue Squadron.

Monday, 14 December 2020

DC FanDome returns for Wonder Woman 1984

DC FanDome returns this Tuesday for the online world premiere of Wonder Woman 1984.

Hosted by Tiffany Smith, the virtual event will include exclusive interviews from the film's director, Patty Jenkins, and stars Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Kristen Wiig and Pedro Pascal.

"We have the best fans in the world and that’s why we’re so excited to celebrate the launch of Wonder Woman 1984 in such a big way," Jenkins and Gadot said in a statement. "Having it be a virtual event allows us to share the moment with Wonder Woman superfans everywhere who might not otherwise have the chance to experience a movie premiere."

Wonder Woman 1984 will be released in selected theatres and on HBO Max this holiday season with Sky rumoured to be in talks, too. The sequel has a secret post-credit scene. So, stick around till the end. Look out for Nick Smith's review coming soon.

Friday, 4 December 2020

Warner Bros. to release movies in 2021 on HBO Max

Is this the end of mainstream cinema as we know it in the wake of a global pandemic?

Warner Bros. will release all-new movies simultaneously in selected theatres and on HBO Max in 2021 in a paradigm-shifting move that will have repercussions for the way Hollywood movies are distributed day-one.

The announcement was made by Ann Sarnoff, Chair and CEO, WarnerMedia Studios and Networks Group (of which Warner Bros. is part) and Jason Kilar, CEO, WarnerMedia.

“We’re living in unprecedented times which call for creative solutions, including this new initiative for the Warner Bros. Pictures Group,” said Sarnoff. “No one wants films back on the big screen more than we do. We know new content is the lifeblood of theatrical exhibition, but we have to balance this with the reality that most theaters in the U.S. will likely operate at reduced capacity throughout 2021. With this unique one-year plan, we can support our partners in exhibition with a steady pipeline of world-class films, while also giving moviegoers who may not have access to theaters or aren’t quite ready to go back to the movies the chance to see our amazing 2021 films. We see it as a win-win for film lovers and exhibitors, and we’re extremely grateful to our filmmaking partners for working with us on this innovative response to these circumstances.”

“After considering all available options and the projected state of moviegoing throughout 2021, we came to the conclusion that this was the best way for WarnerMedia’s motion picture business to navigate the next 12 months,” said Kilar. “More importantly, we are planning to bring consumers 17 remarkable movies throughout the year, giving them the choice and the power to decide how they want to enjoy these films. Our content is extremely valuable, unless it’s sitting on a shelf not being seen by anyone. We believe this approach serves our fans, supports exhibitors and filmmakers, and enhances the HBO Max experience, creating value for all.”

“This hybrid exhibition model enables us to best support our films, creative partners and moviegoing in general throughout 2021,” said Toby Emmerich, Chairman, Warner Bros. Pictures Group. “We have a fantastic, wide-ranging slate of titles from talented and visionary filmmakers next year, and we’re excited to be able to get these movies in front of audiences around the world. And, as always, we’ll support all of our releases with innovative and robust marketing campaigns for their theatrical debuts, while highlighting this unique opportunity to see our films domestically via HBO Max as well.”

The Walt Disney Company trialled the release of its live-action Mulan, at a premium price, on Disney+ last September and Pixar's critically-acclaimed Soul will be available to stream on Christmas Day.

HBO Max will be rolled out to international markets from next year with Sky in the UK purportedly showing Wonder Woman 1984 only a few weeks after it's in selected cinemas this Christmas.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.

Friday, 20 November 2020

Wonder Woman 1984 this Christmas on HBO Max

Here's some good news for fellow DC Comics fans. Wonder Woman 1984, starring Gal Gadot, is coming to selected cinemas and exclusively on HBO Max this holiday season.

“At some point you have to choose to share any love and joy you have to give, over everything else,” director Patty Jenkins (Wonder Woman) wrote on Twitter to coincide with the release of the official main trailer. “We love our movie as we love our fans, so we truly hope that our film brings a little bit of joy and reprieve to all of you this holiday season.”

“As we navigate these unprecedented times, we’ve had to be innovative in keeping our businesses moving forward while continuing to super-serve our fans,” said Ann Sarnoff, Chair and CEO, WarnerMedia Studios and Networks Group, which includes Warner Bros. Pictures. “This is an amazing film that really comes to life on the big screen and, working with our partners in the exhibition community, we will provide that option to consumers in the U.S. where theaters are open. We realize that a lot of consumers can’t go back to the movies due to the pandemic, so we also want to give them the option to see WONDER WOMAN 1984 via our HBO Max platform.”

“We appreciate how patient audiences have been and given the great anticipation around WONDER WOMAN 1984 we are grateful to be able to make this terrifically entertaining movie widely available in these challenging times,” said Toby Emmerich, Chairman, Warner Bros. Pictures Group.

Wall Street mused on the hybrid release strategy. "This is an unprecedented move for a major Hollywood media company, especially for a $200 million film, and a grand experiment that could have long-lasting implications if successful," Credit Suisse analyst Douglas Mitchelson wrote in a report. "Up to now, speculation had been that Wonder Woman 1984 would either be delayed or be released in theaters and then shift over to HBO Max after a short exclusivity period."

There's no news whether Warner Bros. will follow suit outside the US. However, it's very possible the first sequel to Wonder Woman will be available on direct-to-consumer streaming platforms as most cinemas remain closed, around the globe, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Personally, I'd be delighted to unwrap Wonder Woman 1984 so to speak, safely in the comfort of my own home, on Christmas Day. Would you? Let me know in the comments below.

Tuesday, 6 October 2020

The Batman moved to March 2022

James Bond and Batman have been pushed back to 2021 and 2022 respectively as the coronavirus pandemic continues, and politicians around the world grapple with wealth and health as local lockdowns become an integral part of the 'new normal'.

This week, Cineworld announced the indefinite closure of its cinemas (including The Picturehouse) as news broke James Bond: No Time To Die was pushed from November to April 2021. It's worth noting the chain embarked on an ambitious expansion pre-COVID. This will make many more people redundant during a deep and prolonged recession presided over by opportunistic right-wing governments espousing retraining amidst mixed messaging.

There's no fast fix. The creative arts remain under increased threat and I know many friends whose mental health will be negatively impacted - due to shielding and ideological reasons, I will not visit a cinema until if/when there is a vaccine.

Cinema played an integral role in my rehabilitation beginning with George Lucas' space opera, at The Odeon Exeter, with my late mum. Miss the sanctuary of a darkened theatre with friends and family. Thankful for memories of a dark detective and an archaeologist.

Alongside The Batman, Warner Bros. has reshuffled Dune from December to October 2021. Wonder Woman 1984 remains scheduled for this December. However, given there may be no cinemas open to show it...

Wednesday, 23 September 2020

Supergirl hangs up her cape

The CW's Supergirl is to end with season six. This is surprising news soon after DC FanDome.

Whilst I ultimately stopped watching, due to superhero series saturation, Melissa Benoist embodied the titular role and was always a standout during the annual Arrowverse crossover events with stablemates Arrow, The Flash, Batwoman, Black Lightning and DC's Legends of Tomorrow.

“To say it has been an honor portraying this iconic character would be a massive understatement. Seeing the incredible impact the show has had on young girls around the world has always left me humbled and speechless. She’s had that impact on me, too. She’s taught me strength I didn’t know I had, to find hope in the darkest of places, and that we are stronger when we’re united. What she stands for pushes all of us to be better. She has changed my life for the better, and I’m forever grateful,” Benoist touchingly wrote on Instagram.

Like Wonder Woman and Buffy the Vampire Slayer before it, The CW's Supergirl championed inclusivity, something that is needed more than ever in these troubled times.

“I’m so excited that we get to plan our conclusion to this amazing journey, and I cannot wait for you to see what we have in store. I promise we’re going to make it one helluva final season.”

The Arrowverse is in transition. Arrow ended last year with the death of Oliver Queen, but a Superman & Lois spin-off series is in production.

Supergirl may be hanging up her cape, but DC's Stargirl picks up the mantle with a breakout first season worthy of anything shown on HBO Max. The second season moves to The CW. So, expect Stargirl to crossover with The Flash and friends.

Will you miss Supergirl? Let me know in the comments below.

Monday, 24 August 2020

Welcome to the FanDome

DC FanDome is over and I missed it! Mostly because of DC Comics' debatable decision to use its own online portal and not livestream the event on YouTube.

So, I opted to watch DC's Stargirl, streaming exclusively on Amazon Prime in the UK. Geoff Johns' live-action series is a superhero gem comparable to the early seasons of The CW's The Flash and Supergirl with a Wizarding World twist.

However, Nick Smith, our US-based stellar scribe, don's a virtual cowl to save the day (night if you were watching from the UK).

Guest post by Nick Smith

Unlike San Diego’s Comic-Con@Home event, a lot of which is still viewable on YouTube, the DC FanDome was live and direct, only existing for a giddy 24 hours. While some of the teases, trailers and concept art are now out and about on the internet, if you want to see Gal Gadot and Chris Pine playing Werewolf 1984, you’re out of luck.

With its FanDome, (presumably located somewhere beyond the Thunderdome round the corner from the Pleasuredome), DC Comics made a brave and bold attempt to embrace the interactivity of the internet, with rolling comments on the right-hand side of their Hall of Heroes (“Tweet with #DCFanDome for a chance to be featured”) and, in the main portion of the Hall, cast and crew talking to each other and answering questions from fans.

While the day had its tentpole movies to pitch, such as Wonder Woman 1984, The Flash and a Shazam! sequel, some of these flicks aren’t due for a couple of years and the ones in production – like The Batman, about 25% complete – whetted the appetite but weren’t worth holding your breath for (you would run out of air waiting for the release date). The trailer for The Batman looks great, suggesting that the Bat will be treated right. But more on that later…

Ironically, comic books didn’t really get a look-in; the closest we got was a laid-back, diversity-honouring interview with DC Comics Chief Creative Officer/Publisher Jim Lee (his favourite character as a kid was Matter Eater Lad!), a ‘Legacy of the Bat’ panel and a ‘Surprise DC Comics’ panel. The latter was about the return of Milestone Comics, with God Amongst Artists Denys Cowan amongst the panellists along with Lee, Reggie Hudlin, and actor Phil Lamarr (Static Shock). Yes, a Static film is on the cards – so even on a comic book panel, movies reared their powerful head.

Lee also reviewed portfolios of fan art focused on supervillains, a rare chance to hear opinions from the mentor and motivator. Other fan art was featured during the day, adding to the ‘for the fans’ aspect of the event.

A clip from the Joker documentary, “Put On a Happy Face,” included appearances by Jack Nicholson, Jared Leto, Margot Robbie, Frank Miller, Joaquin Phoenix, Mark Hamill, Stan Lee, Christian Bale, and a whole pack more. Any film that draws attention to Mark Hamill’s incredible talents is well worth a watch.

“I’m Batman: The Voices Behind the Cowl” was a panel that brought overdue attention to actors who voice the superhero. Not just the English-speaking ones, like LEGO Batman’s Will Arnett, but Jaron Löwenburg (who dubs a German version), Sergio Gutiérrez (Spanish), Claudio Santamaria (Italian), Iván Marín (Colombian) and others.

The Sandman is receiving an audio adaptation and there was a panel to prove it, featuring Neil Gaiman, Dirk Maggs and Michael Sheen. The panel also covered the new spin-off comic (The Dreaming: Waking Hours) and the forthcoming Netflix show. The big news: the Netflix version of The Sandman will be set in the present day rather than the 1980s/’90s setting of the original comics.

The Twitter brigade jumped on Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson’s comment that his Black Adam was willing to kill, while Superman was not. Henry Cavill’s Supes knobbles General Zod, they tattled. The Rock’s Q&A session was a highlight of the FanDome, as he enthused about his 2022 movie Black Adam, revealed that the Justice Society of America (specifically Atom Smasher, Hawkman, Doctor Fate and Cyclone) would be involved. The project has been in development for over 10 years. The star described it as a passion project and a dream of his.

Mr. Rock likes Adam’s grey-area position on heroism (‘superhero, anti-hero… villain?’). He wants Adam to fight with Superman. I’d spend money in a comic shop where you can have a conversation with The Rock about superhero morals. This was as close as you could get.

In the new Suicide Squad game “Kill the Justice League,” they have good reason to - Superman kills somebody (he’s being controlled by Brainiac). The graphics (you can see Boomerang’s twitching whiskers!), character interplay and sense of fun made this look like a must-play from Rocksteady, developer of Batman: Arkham Asylum. Will Arnett teleported into the ‘Fanzone,’ as he called it, cracking silly jokes and interviewing Rocksteady’s steadfastly British Creative Director and Co-Founder Sefton Hill. Will proved he knew his stuff by dropping a Taskforce X reference and asking about the through-lines from the Arkham games. According to Hill, they will come to fruition in the new project.

Gotham Knights was the other game featured; Nightwing, Batgirl, Robin and Red Hood take up Batman’s mantle after his death. I guess Batman doesn’t know about this whole death thing since he has a movie coming out too, in which he’s played by Robert Pattinson. The pointy-chinned actor gave a watchable performance in Water for Elephants but I’m not on Team Edward. However, after watching director Matt Reeves talk about the gritty film – a kind of Batman: Year Two – and seeing the trailer, with Jeffrey Wright as Commissioner Gordon, Andy Serkis as Alfred and Zoe Kravitz with a tea cosy on her head, I’m sold.

‘Just like the OG animated series!’ enthused Tweeter Andre Saint-Albin. ‘The detective and the myth that is “The Batman”! Matt Reeves saying all the right things.’ Such as name-checking classic films Chinatown, The French Connection and Taxi Driver. What we really got from Reeves was an extended pitch for the movie and he’s excited, informed and intent on treating Batman as seriously as a playboy millionaire’s heart attack.

In other movie news, Aquaman 2 got a mention in a fun mini-panel with director James Wan and Ocean Master Patrick Wilson, discussing production of the first movie and the sight of, ‘Dolph Lundgren on a tater-totter.’ Wan admitted that nothing was easy underwater. Wilson reminisced about sitting on a blue oil drum, grateful he was made aware of the digital world that would be built around him. He compared the non-sets with, ‘black box theatre where there is nothing… that’s why we get into this business in the first place… we concentrate on relationships.’ Wan was friendly and confident, having done a great job with his team of creating creatures and making people look floaty in the first film.

Shazam 2’s title was announced (Fury of the Gods) in a splendidly goofy Shazoom meeting, and we were teased about the Zack Snyder Cut of Justice League; Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill and Gal Gadot formed part of the panel. The four-hour version of the Justice League epic will premiere on HBO Max in 2021.

With their Hall of Heroes day, DC Comics really attempted to provide variety and appeal to different ages; the Rock Q&A, for example, was accessible but he didn’t talk down to viewers/users/visitors. A different Q&A with an animated Harley Quinn was a lot sillier and filled with bleeped-out expletives. Like the Marvel Comics contributions to SDCC, their Distinguished Competition never forgot to be slick or fun.

This was the place to see actors from Wonder Woman 1984 play a whodunnit game – a little hard to follow but still fun. As one Tweeter said, ‘the cast… playing Werewolf on video is actually a fun and great idea for an event. Very creative #DCFanDome.’ For a Titans TV show segment, clips were shown then the panellists responded. The new season will visit a Gotham inhabited by the Scarecrow and Commissioner Barbara Gordon. CNN acknowledged real-life heroes around the globe, including the USA, India and our precious old Blighty.

A nod to Wonder Woman’s 80th anniversary next year was too short and we didn’t really get the ‘celebration’ we were promised, but it was worth popping in to see Gal Gadot and Linda Carter together. We didn’t get too much information about The Flash movie but we did get confirmation that Ben Affleck would return as Old Man Bats.

Shazaam! star Zachary Levi hit the nail on the head when he jokingly described this day as trotting out known names to sell something. There was definitely a reliance on currently popular characters like the Joker (thanks to the excellent Joaquin Phoenix movie), Aquaman (thanks to hunky Jason Momoa), the much-anticipated Wonder Woman 1984, a follow-up to the hit Arkham Asylum game, and the ever-popular Batman. Thankfully, amidst all the Hollywood hoop-la, it was made clear that comics won’t go away – if nothing else they are a great testing ground for new ideas.

With hosts from around the world, including the US, Australia and New Zealand, and fan questions from as far afield as Brazil, DC Comics showed how global its reach truly is and how its fans help to spread the comic book gospel far and wide. By acknowledging the fans, there’s an inherent intent to do right by them, placing them all in a virtual Hall of Heroes.

Saturday, 22 August 2020

How to watch DC FanDome

DC FanDome, a stay-at-home 24-hour online event covering all things DC Comics, is this weekend.

As a lifelong fan of Batman, reruns of Adam West's camp crusader were synonymous with Saturday morning television and collecting die-cast Corgi toys in the mid-to-late seventies, Wonder Woman, Lynda Carter was a childhood crush, and Superman, Christopher Reeve's silver screen incarnation will always be definitive underscored by Hollywood composer John Williams' heroic soundtrack (Superman: The Movie was the second film I saw at the cinema, after Star Wars, and I still have a Superman pin from the screening), I'll be watching for sure.

To kick things off, Joker: Put On a Happy Face is available for free on Apple TV. The compelling documentary celebrates the cultural impact of Batman's archenemy and argues why The Crown Prince of Crime is the greatest comic book supervillain of all time.

DC's Stargirl has begun streaming exclusively on Amazon Prime (affiliate link) in the UK. The live-action series, based on Geoff Johns' superhero (a poignant tribute to the comic creator's late sister), is on par with Swamp Thing and Watchmen. In a move surprising no one, DC Universe's original shows are moving to HBO Max as part of a wider organisation reshuffle in the wake of major layoffs.

During lockdown a childhood passion for toy photography was reignited. Beginning with Wonder Woman 1984's Golden Armour action figure, from McFarlane's DC Multiverse line, shot on my iPhone SE.

To watch DC FanDome, simply visit here. Stay tuned for Nick Smith's coverage of DC FanDome. DC FanDome: Explore the Multiverse is scheduled for 12th September.

What are you most looking forward to during DC FanDome? Let me know in the comments below.

Wednesday, 17 June 2020

Warner Bros. announces free DC FanDome

On Tuesday Warner Bros. announced its own free 24-hour online-only event for DC Comics fans (myself included) 22nd August. This follows news of the free Comic-Con@Home from 22nd-26th July.

DC FanDome will include virtual panels for The Batman, Wonder Woman 1984, The Suicide Squad, Stargirl, more details from the Snyder Cut of Justice League for HBO Max and much more.

“There is no fan like a DC fan," said Ann Sarnoff, Chair and CEO of Warner Bros. "For more than 85 years, the world has turned to DC’s inspiring heroes and stories to lift us up and entertain us, and this massive, immersive digital event will give everyone new ways to personalize their journey through the DC Universe without lines, without tickets and without boundaries. With DC FanDome, we’re able to give fans from around the world an exciting and unparalleled way to connect with all their favorite DC characters, as well as the incredible talent who bring them to life on the page and screen.”

What do you most hope to see at DC FanDome? Let me know in the comments below.

Friday, 29 May 2020

First look at Darkseid from Justice League

On Wednesday director Zack Snyder (Man of Steel) teased Darkseid, played by Ray Porter (Argo), from his forthcoming Justice League recut for the newly launched HBO Max. The DC Comics supervillain can be seen standing in the midst of a lava field on Apokolips.

Following years of petitioning from fans. Warner Bros. has given Snyder carte blanche to refashion Justice League closer to his original vision before bowing out, due to a personal tragedy, and handing directing chores to Joss Whedon (Avengers). At the time of release, Justice League was met with derision by fans and critics alike failing to emulate Marvel Studios' Avengers blockbuster behemoth.

Are you excited to see Darkseid take on the Justice League? Let me know in the comments below.