Let’s talk about Superman

Or, to be a bit more specific, let’s talk about Superman’s son, Jonathan Kent. Superman has been a dad in the mainline Superman comics for some time now, and the addition of fatherhood to his character has been the best development Superman has had in since John Byrne decided that Clark Kent was the real person and Superman was the secret identity. Jon himself has been through a couple of different iterations already; he started as a ten-year-old (don’t ask) and then got aged up to about seventeen (really don’t ask) and recently he’s taken over as Superman, as Kal-El has been called off into space to deal with … stuff.

(I actually don’t know the full story there.)

Anyway, you may have seen in the news lately that Jon’s bisexual? Don’t worry about it, it’s cool. Jon and the guy who is going to become his boyfriend are super fucking cute together, and I’m behind this development too. The reason I’m mentioning this, though, isn’t because of the gay angle; it’s because series writer Tom Taylor may be the best Superman writer currently working today. He gets the character in a way very few others have, and so far four issues in Superman: Son of Kal-El is rapidly becoming one of my favorite books on the shelves. If you’re into comic books at all, and you’re not reading this one (or Nightwing, Taylor’s other mainstream superhero book, which is also phenomenal) you’re really missing out. If you don’t read comics but you’re open to the idea, wait until there’s a trade out (shouldn’t be too much longer) and pick it up at a bookstore of your choice. I’m pretty sure the series is selling well, but however well it’s selling more people still need to know about it. Go check it out.

Anyway.

Don’t expect much more than a picture or something tomorrow; I have a family thing out of town that I have to do, and it’ll take all day– the good news is I’ve taken the day off, and the bad news is that I’ve had to take the day off, if you know what I mean and if you don’t don’t worry too much about it. We’re all fine over here. I figure what with the hunting down comic books and watching hours and hours of YouTube video, y’all will have plenty to do while I’m gone, right?

Go watch this trailer

For someone who doesn’t actually buy Batman comic books, I am surprisingly purist about the character, and haven’t liked a Batman movie in … well, since 1989, and I’m pretty sure if I revisited the original Batman I wouldn’t like it any more. So I’m surprised that I’m vibing with the trailers for this one. Quite surprised, honestly, because: are they genuinely going for the angle that Batman is a psychopath here? Is that what’s happening? The comics have made the idea either text or subtext for a long time– that Batman is just the mirror image of his villains, and that it’s pure coincidence or luck that he turned out to be the good guy in the equation– but I don’t recall that the movies have played with it very much. But Robert Pattinson’s Batman really comes off as nuts.

And absolutely ridiculously bulletproof, too, but that’s a whole different conversation.

I still want a film noir Batman movie set in the 1920s, by the way. I’ll never, ever get it, but I want it.

#REVIEW: James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad (2021)

It might be useful, before reading my review of the movie called The Suicide Squad, to read a review of another movie that came out in 2016 that was just called Suicide Squad. You are sort of expected to pretend that that movie didn’t happen, even though this movie has several of the same characters portrayed by the same actors and is more or less the exact same movie in terms of the overall story. This is, in some ways, the movie equivalent of a comic book series getting a new #1 issue; yeah, it’s the same people, mostly, and the same idea, mostly, but you can start fresh here if you want to.

Here is the tl;dr review: just like the first movie, this movie is exactly what you think it’s going to be, and if that’s the sort of thing you like, you will like it. You might like it a little more than the first one.

A slightly longer version: The main difference between this movie and the first movie is that this one is (as I remember, at least) a hell of a lot gorier, although it’s always played for laughs if that’s worth anything to you, and James Gunn’s insistence on overusing vocal music as part of the score. The actors are probably of slightly higher quality (hell, Idris Elba and Peter Capaldi are in it) and King Shark is better than any individual element of the earlier Suicide Squad, although I’d have liked them to find a way to give him more underwater scenes. The rivalry between Elba’s Bloodshot and John Cena’s Peacemaker (I think?) is fun, and somehow Polka Dot Man is not only in this movie but he and a girl who can control rats are its emotional heart. I don’t know how that happened but it’s true. This is the third or fourth movie Margot Robbie has played Harley Quinn in, and she fully inhabits the character at this point and I love it.

Fascinatingly, despite lots of actual murdering happening on screen, this movie comes off as much happier and heroic than the Murderverse movies. So that’s a plus too.

Don’t go to a movie theater and get Covid to see this or anything, but HBO Max is cheaper than a pair of movie tickets in most places.

In which I have options

I can actually write a piece about what happened in Washington DC this week. It’s definitely coming, but it’s going to be lengthy as hell if I write it, and it’ll likely be obsolete in some way by the time I hit the Publish button.

Or I can recognize that it’s Friday night, and I’m tired as fuck, and this week has been insanely stressful on a level I haven’t encountered since, well, this exact week last year, where not only did my mother die but, if you recall, we were all concerned about going to war with Iran, and I can watch a couple of episodes of Attack on Titan, be a shark for a while on my PS5, read a book, and go to bed.

Tough choice.

#REVIEW: Wonder Woman 1984

I LiveTweeted my way through this last night– I’m going to say a lot of the same things in the review so I’m not going to include them, but feel free to go look— and it takes a certain type of movie for me to do that for: the movie must be either entertaining and kind of dumb, or I have to hate it. And Wonder Woman 1984 has been receiving some seriously mixed reviews, so I had a little bit of worry going into this– the original Wonder Woman is still easily my favorite DC movie since Christopher Reeve was playing Superman, and I was worried they’d fucked it all up.

Spoiler alert: they did not, in fact, fuck it all up.

I mean, there’s some fuckery afoot, don’t get me wrong. But they did not fuck it all up.

Now, let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves here: while Wonder Woman 1984 never gets close to the heights of gloriously dumb that Aquaman reached, there is nonetheless quite a bit of glorious dumb in this movie, and really it has a lot more tonally in common with Aquaman than it does with the first Wonder Woman movie. That said, heart goes a long way with me, and this movie has heart to spare, and I am officially elevating Patty Jenkins to the best superhero-movie director working today, because once again she has demonstrated that she remembers her main character is a superhero and there are a number of places in this movie where crazy shit like saving people and– wait for it, this will startle you– stopping crime is Wonder Woman’s priority.

This is, in a lot of ways, a yeah, but type of movie, where everything that is wrong with it also leads to at least one thing that is good about it, and so ultimately your takeaway from it will depend on whether the bad things annoy you more than the good things made you happy. Some examples? Sure!

Steve Trevor did not belong in this movie! Yeah, but that scene with the flying, and the other scene with the flying, and the way he leaves the movie?

Pedro Pascal is about twelve times as much actor as this role needed, and spent most of the film blissfully gobbling up scenery! Yeah, but he sells the hell out of the last fifteen minutes of the movie, and when was the last time you saw a movie where the villain was defeated by reminding him that he loves his son?

Hey, did you hear that this movie was set in 1984? Because it’s totally set in 1984! Yeah, but … okay, they leaned into that one a little harder than they really needed to.

I don’t understand why movie people can write a film set in the 1930s or for that matter the freaking 840s without pounding you over the head that their movie is a period piece, but every movie set in a decade I remember has to constantly beat you over the head with time period references.

There’s a couple of exceptions, of course: Kristen Wiig didn’t really have a lot to do, and should have had her own movie. There are bits and pieces of her performance that I really liked, but her character bounces off of Steve Trevor in a really weird way (it is obvious, to the point where it could not have been an accident, that Barbara Minerva and Diana Prince have a hell of a lot of chemistry together, in a way that Diana and Trevor really don’t) and I felt like she deserved a stronger arc than she got, particularly at the end of the movie. And a lot of people really seem to have enjoyed the bit at the beginning of the film set on Themiscyra; I am not among them. They should have used that time to give us more of an indication of what Diana has actually been doing with herself other than spending 70 years pining over the first dude she’d ever met, who she knew for a week.

(I knew intellectually that there was no way they’d do this, but there was a bit in the film where I felt like Steve Trevor was about to remind Diana that they’d only known each other for a week, and whoa, lady, let’s pump the brakes here on the eternal love thing just a lil’ bit.)

(Trevor’s entire thing in this movie, from start to finish, is kind of a problem, but it’s a problem that’s mostly outside the movie, if that makes any sense.)

So, yeah: I have some gripes. I loved Wonder Woman, and I wanted to love this movie, and I didn’t. But it’s not a bad movie; it’s a solid B or B+ type of film, for me, mostly on the strength of Gadot’s performance and Jenkins’ story decisions. The DC Murderverse films’ biggest flaw is that they forget who their characters are, and they have a thing called the Justice League that has no concern with “justice” as a concept whatsoever and that the characters they’ve written would never have named their organization in the first place. Wonder Woman 1984 remains defiantly outside the Murderverse, out there with Shazam! and Aquaman and making fun of the Supr Srs murples and throwing popcorn at them. Go ahead and pay the $14.95 to join HBO Max for a month; you’d have paid more than that to see this in theaters anyway and it’s well worth that amount of money and an evening of your time.