Tag Archives: Man of Steel

Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor? Uh ….

jesse eisenberg lex luthor EW

So Warner Bros. has announced they’ve cast Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor in the “Man of Steel” sequel, the one with Ben Affleck as Batman. The one that’s called … well, we might know the official title around the time of Comic Con.

So Eisenberg as Luthor (matchup in the Entertainment Weekly illustration above.

What do we think of this?

Eisenberg will always be the sarcastic nerd hero of “Zombieland” and the sarcastic nerd billionaire-in-the-making anti-hero of “The Social Network” to me.

Do I want them to bring Kevin Spacey or Gene Hackman back? No.

lex luthor animated

But my image (and aural impression) of Lex Luthor just might always be the Bruce Timm version, voice by Clancy Brown, from the animated “Superman” and “Justice League” series.

I’m not sure Eisenberg can top that.

And Jeremy Irons as Alred Pennyworth? That’s fine. Nobody will top Michael Caine.

Here’s the WB press release:

Warner Bros. Pictures announced today that Jesse Eisenberg has been set to star as Lex Luthor and Jeremy Irons will play Alfred in the upcoming Zack Snyder untitled Superman/Batman film. The dual announcement was made today by Greg Silverman, President, Creative Development and Worldwide Production, and Sue Kroll, President, Worldwide Marketing and International Distribution, Warner Bros. Pictures.

Snyder stated, “Lex Luthor is often considered the most notorious of Superman’s rivals, his unsavory reputation preceding him since 1940. What’s great about Lex is that he exists beyond the confines of the stereotypical nefarious villain. He’s a complicated and sophisticated character whose intellect, wealth and prominence position him as one of the few mortals able to challenge the incredible might of Superman. Having Jesse in the role allows us to explore that interesting dynamic, and also take the character in some new and unexpected directions.”

The director added, “As everyone knows, Alfred is Bruce Wayne’s most trusted friend, ally and mentor, a noble guardian and father figure. He is an absolutely critical element in the intricate infrastructure that allows Bruce Wayne to transform himself into Batman. It is an honor to have such an amazingly seasoned and gifted actor as Jeremy taking on the important role of the man who mentors and guides the guarded and nearly impervious façade that encapsulates Bruce Wayne.”

Snyder’s film stars Henry Cavill, reprising his role as Superman/Clark Kent, Ben Affleck as Batman/Bruce Wayne, and Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman/Diana Prince. The film also reunites “Man of Steel” stars Amy Adams, Laurence Fishburne and Diane Lane.

The new film is currently being written by Chris Terrio, from a screenplay by David S. Goyer. Charles Roven and Deborah Snyder are producing, with Benjamin Melniker, Michael E. Uslan, Wesley Coller, David S. Goyer and Geoff Johns serving as executive producers.

The film is set to open worldwide on May 6, 2016, and is based on Superman characters created by Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster, Batman characters created by Bob Kane, and Wonder Woman created by William Moulton Marston, appearing in comic books published by DC Entertainment.

Wonder Woman done right

wonder woman fan film close

It’s puzzling how Wonder Woman has eluded film and TV makers.

Of course, we can’t be sure what Joss Whedon would have done with his Wonder Woman movie that got spiked, but we’ve seen DC Comics, Warner Bros. and other filmmakers stumble more than once in their attempts to do a live-action Wonder Woman.

I’ve always said the DC Comics animated universe treatment of Wonder Woman in the “Justice League” series could serve as a ready blueprint for how to make a serious, ass-kicking live-action version of the Amazon warrior princess and her world.

wonder woman fan film medium

It looks like Rainfall Films has, in its two minute Wonder Woman short, opted for a “Man of Steel” treatment, which makes sense since that’s the way DC and Warner Bros. are headed. By adding Batman to the “Man of Steel” sequel, maybe they’re building to a movie featuring the DC trinity – those two plus Wonder Woman.

At any rate, the short film would serve nicely as a model for the big studio.

And you could do a lot worse than having Rileah Vanderbilt play the role in a full-length movie. She looks great in the short.

As more than a few people have said online: Okay. Go do this.

What we can expect from Ben Affleck’s Batman

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Okay, so Warner Bros. announced on Thursday that Ben Affleck, star of “Daredevil” a decade ago and director of Oscar-worthy “Argo,” would play Batman in the “Man of Steel” sequel for director Zach Snyder and opposite Henry Cavil as Superman.

And yes, there was a lot of online freaking out about Affleck being cast.

I’m old enough to remember the doubters – I was one of them – when Michael Keaton was cast to play Bruce Wayne and Batman for Tim Burton’s 1989 “Batman.”

He’s a comic actor, they said about Keaton. His chin isn’t superheroic enough. This isn’t even a step up in casting from the campy 1960s TV series.

But Keaton worked, largely because Burton’s Batman was something we hadn’t seen very often: A serious superhero flick. I’d submit Keaton was the best part about that movie, far outshining Jack Nicholson as the Joker.

So what’s the knock on Affleck?

Um .. he’s made some movies that some people didn’t like?

ben affleck daredevil

Okay, Twitter, take a deep breath. Let’s move on to what happens next, namely, what can we expect from “Superman vs. Batman” or whatever the “Man of Steel” sequel will be called, particularly with Affleck’s casting?

Batman is going to take the lead in the sequel. Depending on how long the movie takes place after “Man of Steel,” Superman still might be a green superhero. That means when the two icons meet, it’s likely Batman will have years of experience on Superman. Sure, Superman has super powers. But we’ve seen before that Batman is more than a match for Superman. Kryptonite shard, anyone?

They’ll clash at first. Besides this comic book trope being a standard development – remember the various Avengers fighting before they teamed up on Loki? – I’m betting Bruce Wayne and Lex Luthor will be in some kind of deal but Batman will be investigating Luthor. Superman might get involved when he sees Batman hanging around (literally) Metropolis and confronts him. Hey, I’m pretty sure this worked for DC animated universe stories.

They’re definitely building to a “Justice League” movie. I expect Batman to be the experienced leader when they make the “JL” movie and it’s likely Affleck will be in the cowl. Warner Bros. wouldn’t announce a new Batman for just one movie.

There’s a Robin in the future. You don’t have an experienced batman without a sidekick. Maybe Joseph Gordon-Levitt?

Snyder and Warner Bros. are casting older but not too old. Sure, Cavill is several years younger, but Affleck is just 41. Robert Downey Jr. was 43 for the first “Iron Man” movie.

ben affleck as george reeves superman

It’ll be interesting to see how much influence Frank Miller’s “Dark Knight” stories have on the movie, although there have been plenty of good stories of the two iconic heroes and their relationship.

‘Man of Steel’ spoiler-filled review

Man-of-Steel-Henry-Cavill

I went into “Man of Steel” with low expectations, which might be the way to approach any superhero movie that isn’t a Marvel production or directed by Joss Whedon.

I was pleasantly surprised. I liked the movie. it’s better than “Superman Returns” from 2006. It’s leaps ahead of “Green Lantern” – although that’s the very definition of damning with faint praise – and I think I liked it maybe even better than Christopher Nolan’s Batman finale.

There’s no point in rehashing the plot. You know that director Zack Snyder and producer Nolan remade the Superman story with a darker, edgier feel.

So here’s some observations. And a big spoiler warning if you haven’t seen “Man of Steel” already.

I’m glad they didn’t go too edgy. Superman isn’t Batman. The movie strikes about the right tone, to me, of making Superman an outsider and Clark feeling like he has to keep a lid on his real self.

Part of that feeling was communicated by Kevin Costner’s Pa Kent. Costner is solid and affecting throughout the flashbacks. I do feel like the screenplay makes a mistake in one scene: After people start gossiping about Clark when the boy saves the other occupants of  a school bus that crashes into a river, Clark and Jonathan Kent have a conversation that they’ve plainly been expecting to have: What would happen when people find out that Clark is “special?” Young Clark asks, in effect, if he should have let the other kids die and his father says, in effect, “I don’t know. Maybe.” I don’t believe Pa Kent would have expressed that thought out loud even if he felt it because of his fear for his son’s secrets being exposed. It’s a false note, but maybe it’s instrumental in Clark’s later decision to come forward when Zod is threatening the Earth. In other words, even bad advice from Jonathan helped Clark make the right decision later.

I thought Henry Cavill and Amy Adams were fine as Clark/Superman and Lois and the supporting cast was good. I feel like the movie suffered, like all opening chapters do, from having to move characters around like chess pieces until they’re in place for the real climax of the movie – or for the sequel.

The climax of the showdown between Superman and Zod has been controversial. The idea that Superman would kill Zod is a hard thing for some people to take.

But my feeling about the climax is that Superman was justified in snapping Zod’s neck. Zod, desperate and bitter that his plan to recreate Krypton on Earth had failed, was lashing out, preparing to fry a family with his heat vision. Superman was grappling with him, trying to direct his gaze away from the family. He even begged him not to kill them. But Zod refuses and Superman kills him.

Short of Superman plucking Zod’s eyes out – and what an image that would have been in a comic book movie – I’m not sure there was another way.

Now considering the untold thousands of people who likely died in the movie thanks in great part to the battles between Superman and Zod in Smallville and Metropolis, Superman’s effort to save a small group of people might seem paltry. But while we have no idea how many people died when buildings were toppled and explosions were set off, we did see that family in harm’s way and saw how high the stakes were at that moment. Superman made a decision, and it was a painful one for him.

Much has been made about the wanton destruction caused by Superman and Zod’s battles and I have to say it all disturbed me too. I agree with critics who say Superman should have tried to take the fight to an area with fewer bystanders.

I can say that I didn’t feel, as acutely as some other critics did, the lack of compassion Superman showed for bystanders. I agree that he seemed to let anger toward Zod color his decisions in battle, undoubtedly causing more destruction and perhaps death than should have occurred. But there was a scene in which Superman catches a soldier falling from a helicopter and even asks if he is okay. I feel like another, similar scene might have addressed the “callous” accusations.

I thought the movie did a pretty good job with telling Superman’s story without a long retelling of his origin and Smallville years. Flashbacks to formative incidents in his life – the onset of extra senses like X-ray vision and a school bus rescue – were handled pretty well.

I still don’t get the scene, in flashback, when young Clark is playing among Martha Kent’s laundry, puts a red towel around his neck and stands, fists on hips, in a classic Superman pose. Did the pose, in Nolan’s world without heroes to emulate, just pop into Clark’s head? I think it’s an effort to trade on that iconic Superman image without a good explanation. It’s a mistake.

I don’t know if “Man of Steel” will be a success or lead to more DC movie adaptations. I’d like to see this world return and I’d be fine if Henry Cavill and Zack Snyder were part of it.

The movie revisionists: Everything you know is wrong

man of steel big

Think you know the story of Superman?

Well, maybe not.

When “Man of Steel” comes out June 14,  director Zack Snyder might have a few surprises even for longtime fans of the man of … er, steel.

Most of us don’t know what to expect from “Man of Steel” yet, but it’s certain that a few elements of the Superman mythos will be tweaked at the very least.

That’s not surprising, because most filmmakers like to bring something new to their versions of familiar stories. That’s why “The Amazing Spider-Man” retold the origin of the webslinger only about a decade after we saw it before and tried to infuse new elements – chiefly a mystery about Peter’s parents – into it.

It’s not just superhero stories that get revamped. When director John Carpenter made “The Thing” in 1982, he made the “walking alien carrot” much less of the traditional monster familiar from 1951’s “The Thing from Another World.” the first adaptation of John Campbell’s story. Carpenter made the alien menace a much more paranoia-inducing shapeshifter.

By the way, spoilers ahead for some current movies if you haven’t seen them.

Some fans of the “Iron Man” comics were irritated when this summer’s “Iron Man 3” made huge changes to the character of the Mandarin, the longtime antagonist of Tony Stark.

iron man mandarin comics

The Mandarin went from an Asian menace armed with magic rings …

mandarin iron man 3

To a figurehead, a stalking horse played by a down-at-the-heels British actor.

Sometimes it’s more than changing characters. Sometimes it’s all about changing the background of sets of characters.

khan

The classic 1982 “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” was a sequel to an episode of the original series and emphasized the bad blood and shared history of Khan, the genetically superior warrior, and Jim Kirk.

kirk-khan

In this summer’s “Star Trek Into Darkness,” however, there was no history between Kirk and Khan. And I think the movie suffered for that.

With “Man of Steel,” the rumors have been flying about changes Snyder and producer Christopher Nolan might have made.

Does Superman’s Kryptonian birth father, Jor-El, live? Or are the clips of Russell Crowe talking to Henry Cavill just indicative of an amazingly lifelike hologram?

Is Zod (Michael Shannon) sprung from the Phantom Zone or does he arrive in a space ship? Sure looks like a Kryptonian ship in the background to me.

We won’t know the answers for a few days. But we can already guess about fairly interesting cosmetic changes to two longtime characters from the “Superman” stories.

perry white and jimmy olsen

Daily Planet editor Perry White and cub reporter/photographer Jimmy Olsen have been staples of the comics for a half-century.

jenny olsen rebecca buller laurence fishburne

Snyder, interestingly, cast Laurence Fishburne, an African-American actor, to play White, who has traditionally been, well, white. I love Fishburne and I think this is a big win.

But it’s less clear who’s playing Jimmy Olsen in the movie. In fact, it’s becoming more clear that Jimmy Olsen isn’t in the movie. Actress Rebecca Buller seems to be playing Jenny Olsen.

Jimmy_Olsen

Traditional Jimmy.

rebecca-buller-jenny-olsen

New Jenny.

I can live with that.

Hoping for the best from ‘Man of Steel’

man of steel flying upward

Superman is a test that many movie- and TV-makers don’t quite pass.

Created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster and continually published and re-printed since Action Comics No. 1 hit the stands in early 1938 – 75 years ago – Superman and his alter ego, Clark Kent, make up one of the most recognizable characters in all of popular culture.

So it’s not a surprise that DC Comics and Warner Brothers – frustrated in their efforts to create a big-screen presence since “Superman Returns” missed the mark several years ago – are trying again with “Man of Steel,” due in theaters June 14.

I’m still not sold that director Zack Snyder has the character right. But I was a little more convinced after the trailer for “Man of Steel” released a few days ago.

man of steel vista

That’s mostly because the trailer, at least, emphasizes the “outsider” status of the character.

Make no mistake, and I’ve said it here before: Superman is not a brooding character like Batman. He’s not driven by nightmares. He’s not wracked by guilt. If Snyder’s “Man of Steel” is marked by those characteristics, the movie will fail.

But he is, for all his optimism and courage and innate knowledge of right and wrong, an outsider.

The trailer seems to acknowledge this, portraying a Kal-El/Clark/Superman who, as a young man, is uncertain about what he should do with his life and afraid of how he will seem to the world around him.

As he grows up, he appears to wander far away from Smallville, even though he continues to use his powers for good, rescuing men in a fiery accident.

The trailer shows us a Lois Lane (Amy Adams) who has been seeking this man of mystery (Henry Cavill), and it is in Lois’ words that the movie might find the best definition of the character.

“How do you find someone who has spent a lifetime covering his tracks?” Lois asks. “For some, he was a guardian angel. For others, a ghost. He never quite fit in.”

Yes.

Superman is, even while he is the champion of his adopted world, an outsider. He’s the last of his kind – well, for the most part – and the first of a new kind on Earth. He feels an obligation to his new home even as he mourns the home he never knew.

Tellingly, Lois asks Superman – still unnamed to the world at large – about the “S” on his chest, and Superman tells her that the symbol stands for “hope” on his world.

Playfully, Lois notes that on this planet, it’s an “S” and begins to suggest it should stand for Superman before she is interrupted.

The trailer seems to capture the world of Superman. We can hope so, at least.

(I still don’t get the kid in the backyard with a makeshift cape on his shoulders. If that’s young Clark, it doesn’t make sense. Who is he imitating? I’m more convinced now than earlier that the boy isn’t Clark, but is a young boy play-acting as Superman after the character becomes known to the world. If so, it will be a lump-in-your-throat moment.)

Looking forward, with hope, to June 14.

Images: Electro, ‘Man of Steel,’ ‘Star Trek’

star_trek into darkness trailer ships

We’re at the point I’m ready to quit watching clips and previews for movies like “Iron Man 3” and “Star Trek Into Darkness” because they seem so spoiler-intensive. Even if they’re really not.

But new trailers for the “Star Trek” film and “Man of Steel” have come out in advance of their summer openings. And news about “Amazing Spider-Man 2” and “Guardians of the Galaxy” has broken.

So, herewith, some images.

At the top is a shot from the “Star Trek Into Darkness” trailer. That’s the Enterprise on the left. But what’s the ship on the right? Some futuristic version of the Enterprise? Is it what the crew ends up piloting – not unlike the Klingon ship they sported in “Star Trek IV” after the Enterprise was destroyed?

So is Benedict Cumberbatch a time traveler?

On to comic book movies.

Man_of_Steel trailer

The “Man of Steel” trailer released this week didn’t feel as much like a solemn affair as the previous ones did. A little more action, a little more human (and Kryptonian) emotion. I’m beginning to look forward to this.

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I’m not sure what to think about Jamie Fox here as Electro from “Amazing Spider-Man 2.” He’s very … blue.

spidey and electro

But it seems unlikely they would put him in this, his traditional comic-book outfit.

Rooker_Yondu

And then there’s news that our beloved Michael Rooker of “The Walking Dead” will appear in Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” in 2014. But not as the voice of Rocket Raccoon.

No. Rooker will be playing Yondu, another member of the Guardians.

I wonder if he’ll be as blue as Electro?

I think director James Gunn’s film is getting trippier all the time.