Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.
Very recently, Warner Bros. announced that due to the ongoing coronavirus disease COVID-19 pandemic, it has decided to reschedule the release of Wonder Woman 1984 to August 2020.
While fans, geeks and moviegoers have to wait a bit longer for the much-awaited movie, we can take time out to look back to the year 1987 when DC Comics published the comic book Wonder Woman #9 written (plot) and illustrated by the legendary George Perez with scripting done by the late Len Wein.
Remember seeing Dr. Barbara Minerva (Cheetah) played by Kristen Wiig in Wonder Woman 1984? This comic book marked the debut of the post-Crisis Cheetah whose civilian personality is Dr. Barbara Minerva (her literary debut was in Wonder Woman #7). To make history short, the original Cheetah that appeared in 1943’s Wonder Woman #6 was Priscilla Rich while the second Cheetah was Deborah Domaine (Priscilla Rich’s niece). Dr. Minerva is the third and arguably the most modernized and most popular Cheetah.
With the history talk over, here we go with Wonder Woman #9!
The story begins with a ritual performed by a short, old man with a knife. He cuts the skin of a naked woman and collects some of her blood. He uses the blood to feed a plant he believes to be a god (the plant-god). Afterwards he returns to the naked woman and covers her with the cloth.
The next morning, at another location, Wonder Woman flies happily in the air. Below her were publicist Myndi Mayer, Julia (Diana’s host and personal educator) and teenager Vanessa.
It turns out, Wonder Woman, who strongly values honor, was happy to have received a letter from Dr. Barbara Minerva. Julia however is not confident and based on her research, she described Minerva as “shady as your average weeping willow.”
Myndi, who is looking for the next great scoop, dismisses Julia’s concern and remains focused on accompanying Wonder Woman to meeting Minerva.
Apart from marking the first appearance of Cheetah (no longer a lady wearing a silly costume) in the post-Crisis era of DC Comics, Wonder Woman #9 is still a very compelling and fun comic book to read. Its great quality combined with a solid concept can be attributed to George Perez.
On storytelling, Perez and Wein delivered a solid balance between spectacle, characterization, plotting and mystery. The presentation of Dr. Minerva as an accomplished yet arrogant archaeologist is a clever concept of having her involved with Wonder Woman who in turn also has a personal interest in relics and evidences of established cultures and societies (given the Amazonian society Diana came from). Minerva’s transformation and first action as Cheetah is indeed excellent to read.
Being one of the greatest comic book illustrators ever, it is no surprise that this comic book still looks great! Even though Perez used a lot of panels per page, the amount of visual details as well as the maintenance of his art style remain high.
When it comes to the first-ever battle between Cheetah and Wonder Woman, Perez pulled no punches back with the spectacle. There is a good amount of brutal action which so enjoyable to see and I can only hope that director Patty Jenkins took inspiration from the comic’s action scenes for Wonder Woman 1984 (a conflict between the Queen of Superheroes and the animalistic villainess on the big screen is inevitable).
On characterization, this comic book continued to deliver the good and believable development of Wonder Woman who is still adjusting to Man’s World. To put it short, it is not exclusively focused on Cheetah and Wonder Woman (whose encounters were the highlights). You will get to see how much Diana adjusted with modern society, what she thought about how modern society’s members perceived her and how close she got with Julia and Vanessa while still keeping strong with her Amazonian values.
Going back to Cheetah, the development of Dr. Minerva changing into her animalistic form is very well handled by the creators. There are enough details that explained her physical transformation and her uncanny abilities, not to mention showing her being able to give Wonder Woman a good amount of trouble. This way of modernizing the literary Cheetah is, indeed, very compelling and definitive. By reading this comic book, you will realize why this particular version of Cheetah was chosen to be part of Wonder Woman 1984.
For the collectors reading this, if you are serious on getting an existing copy of Wonder Woman #9, be aware that, as of this writing, a near-mint copy costs $77 according to MileHighComics.com
Overall, Wonder Woman #9 (1987) is highly recommended! It’s a great collector’s item too!
In ending this, watch this first official movie trailer of Wonder Woman 1984.
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Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced by means of watching the movie and doing research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.
I just love watching superhero movies, especially the ones that were well crafted by the filmmakers complete with solid storytelling, sufficient spectacle as well as memorable performances by the hired talents (both behind and in front of the camera).
Of all the superhero movies made by the forces of Hollywood starting with 1978’s Superman, I can clearly say that 2017’s Wonder Woman is my favorite. Don’t get me wrong. I did not limit myself to just DC Comics superhero movies. I saw all the X-Men movies and their spinoffs, almost all the Spider-Man flicks, almost all of the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies and even the obscure ones. Along the way, there were some great superhero flicks that became modern-day classics like Logan and Avengers: Infinity War.
Let’s start with my retro review of Wonder Woman, the one film that arguably saved the DC Comics Cinematic Universe for Warner Bros.
The story begins sometime after the end of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice during which Diana finds a long lost photograph recovered by Bruce Wayne. Then she remembers her past in Themyscira where she grew up as the only little girl among the women called the Amazons and her mother is none other than Queen Hippolyta. Concerned that the wicked Aries is still alive, Hippolyta’s sister Antiope trains Diana (initially in secret until they were discovered) to be strong, brave and more capable than their fellow Amazon warriors.
One day, Steve Trevor arrives in Themyscira becoming the first-ever man Diana ever met. Tension rises when the Germans (from World War I Earth) arrive on their island causing the Amazons to fight in defense. A lot of people lost their lives, including someone very close to Diana.
While interrogated with the Lasso of Truth, Steve reveals who he is and what he has been doing. He states that back in his world, World War I is ravaging the world costing many people their lives. This causes Diana to stand up and stop the war somehow (she believes Aries is responsible). Queen Hippolyta disapproves of Diana’s analysis. After privately meeting with Steve, Diana then starts her move for a mission to stop the war in Man’s World.
Let me start with the performances. Gal Gadot definitely IS Wonder Woman in this movie. Regardless of how many versions of Wonder Woman there are in comics, the Israeli actress truly captured the essence of Diana’s early development which includes her special place among the Amazons (note: she is the only Amazon who was born in Themyscira and grew up from infant into a mature woman), her fateful meeting with Steve Trevor, her entry into Man’s World and how she adapts with the events and people outside of Themyscira. Wonder Woman’s purity on saving the world, doing what is right and emphasizing love and compassion were all nicely translated into cinematic art by Gal Gadot. From doing the action scenes to saving people, speaking her mind among her fellow Amazons and interacting with others as she adapts with Man’s World, I really love Gadot’s work on bringing Wonder Woman to life. As her cinematic work is great, there is no doubt that Gadot will always be iconic to fans of the Queen of Superheroes and superhero enthusiasts in general in the decades to come right beside Lynda Carter (who played the icon on TV), Christopher Reeve (Superman), Robert Downey, Jr. (Iron Man) and Chris Evans (Captain America). Meanwhile, the portrayals of Diana as an 8-year-old girl as well as a 12-year-old were perfectly done by Lilly Aspell (who is truly skilled with horse riding) and Emily Carey.
Chris Pine is excellent as Steve Trevor who is portrayed to be very dedicated to his work, brave in what he does and still shows compassion instead of arrogance towards others. He also has great chemistry with Gal Gadot and, like in the comic books, their relationship is nicely translated on the big screen. Pine’s performance here is, in my view, the best superhero movie supporting role to date.
Connie Nielsen meanwhile is great in playing Queen Hippolyta and all throughout, there is always a sense of leadership complete with a touch of motherly love just like in the comic books. Her sister Antiope was nicely portrayed by Robin Wright as the one Amazon who taught Diana to be brave, strong and highly capable as an Amazon warrior.
Danny Huston, who played the lead villain in the 2009 movie X-Men Origins: Wolverine, played yet another military bad guy here but this time he’s a World War I German officer. He’s a villain with a purpose who not only fights for the glory of Germany but also strongly believes that war is natural and inevitable for humanity. In some ways, Huston’s Ludendorff reminds me Michael Shannon’s General Zod in Man of Steel.
When it comes to presentation, this film is Patty Jenkins’ 2nd movie as director (her debut was way back in 2003) and the great turnout of Wonder Woman as a high quality movie (as opposed to being a critical and commercial success) only proved yet again that the old saying in Hollywood – The director’s second movie is his/her best movie – is true. Jenkins, who also worked on television, not only prepared a lot to make this movie but also researched Wonder Woman, developed ways to get the most out of the cast members, tweak the written story of the film (by Allan Heinberg, Zach Snyder and Jason Fuchs) and, most notably, she led the production with a lot of passion. To put it short, Wonder Woman is a labor of love (and the No Man’s Land scene is iconic) that not only resonated with fans of the Queen of Superheroes but also with the film critics and moviegoers.
Regarding storytelling, I noticed that a key story from Wonder Woman’s origin in the comics (the contest of the Amazons) did not happen at all in the film. While there were die-hard fans of the icon who complained about it, I felt that the contest of the Amazons would have made this movie more complicated and surely would have lessened the impact of World War I as a key story element. Since the purpose of this movie was to emphasize Diana’s origin and her entry into Man’s World with a major mission, I believe that the contest of the Amazons can be made cinematically later in a future movie.
The way the story was told cinematically, it also captured Diana’s reactions to the events that happened around her. The scene in which she saw the village destroyed showed how death and destruction compelled Wonder Woman to accomplish her mission even though others find ending the war impossible. Along the way, the actors – specifically Gal Gadot – really added life into the narrative with their strong performances.
When it comes to on-screen humor, which is popular among moviegoers and is almost a requirement for most new superhero movies that come out, having it done by supporting players Lucy Davis and Saïd Taghmaoui was a clever move since it allows Gal Gadot to portray Wonder Woman without any performance disruption. Considering her short screen time, Davis as Etta Candy is really funny. The amount of humor in this film, in my view, was just right and never annoying.
Spectacle? Wonder Woman is loaded with action, stunts and exciting stuff! The action involving Wonder Woman was brutal and satisfying to watch, and Patty Jenkins’ use of slow motion on key moments was great (even comparable to John Woo’s past work) and at the same time not too excessive. The Themyscira battle between the Germans and the Amazons at the beach was engaging and strategically filmed. Also, it was fitting that the action ramped up nicely starting with the iconic No Man’s Land sequence. The final battle in the film, unsurprisingly, had lots of computer-generated images (CGI) which is understandable considering the fantasy element of Wonder Woman.
More on the action, I love the way Patty Jenkins had Gal Gadot, Robin Wright, Connie Nielsen and Chris Pine perform the action themselves which all made their characters even more believable. Of course, there were certain moments in which stunt doubles were used to do the more dangerous moments on behalf of the actors.
Apart from the core cast, a lot of the actresses playing the Amazons trained for several months not just to look the part but also to perform action sequences using weapons with actual skill. The stunt coordinators and specialists hired by the filmmakers deserve praise for contributing nicely on making the cinematic Amazons highly believable. This alone not only makes Wonder Woman stand out nicely among all Hollywood superhero movies but also reflects nicely what was portrayed in the comic books.
The production design is also top-notch. I love the scenic locations of Italy used for scenes set in Themyscira. The filmmakers also did a great job recapturing the look of World War I Europe from the historical pictures to the big screen. The costume designs were fantastic, and the standout designs were, unsurprisingly, the costumes of the Amazons which really made their fantasy culture look believable. The filmmakers decided to have much more colorful visuals instead of following the look of Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad.
On the music, the work by Rupert Gregson-Williams was great. His rendition of the Wonder Woman theme was very lively to listen to. The same can be said about the music he provided in the memorable No Man’s Land scene which had a nice build-up as Wonder Woman made her first full appearance in costume on the field. Other tunes played in the film suited the scenes well.
If there were any weak spots in this movie, it would be certain shots of action that were not filmed with precision. I’m talking about filming action scenes way too close to the camera combined with music video-style editing that’s supposed to make film look flashy. It’s not only disorienting, it also took me out of the movie.
Overall, Wonder Woman is one of the best-ever superhero movies ever made and easily my favorite of them all. It has an excellent balance between storytelling, character development and spectacle, and Gal Gadot gave the performance of a lifetime not only by bringing Wonder Woman into life in cinematic form but also emphasizing what the Queen of Superheroes stood for. As part of the current DC Comics Cinematic Universe, this movie stood out by having optimism and heroism as core themes (as opposed to the dark, gritty and even cynical approach of Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad) and, more importantly, by focusing strongly on Wonder Woman instead of building up for the Justice League movie (which was released months after this one).
Apart from high-quality production values and a strong creative approach, the cast and cinematic performances are easily among the best in the superhero movie genre. Chris Pine’s Steve Trevor is an excellent example of a supporting role that is engaging without ever overshadowing the lead role. By the end of the film, you will realize the impact that Queen Hippolyta and Antiope had on Diana’s personal development.
Being strongly focused on heroism with optimism, director Patty Jenkins and her crew succeeded in making this film without ever succumbing to the extreme views of the Political Left in Hollywood and the loudmouth social feminists. When I see the battle between the Amazons and the German soldiers on the beach of Themyscira happen, I simply saw armed women defending their homeland not from men who intend to rape them but rather men who had no right to intrude in the first place. Even as there were scenes showing men in power in World War I Europe (putting Diana in a powerless position), there still was no feminist-inspired hatred towards men. Also the bond between Steve and Diana developing from friendship into a romantic relationship literally shut the door on extreme feminism.
As a Wonder Woman-focused story, this film succeeded on emphasizing the Queen of Superheroes to both long-time fans and mainstream moviegoers. This movie also had a nice mix of having a fantasy setting with Themyscira moving on to a historic setting with World War I Europe. On the origins of Wonder Woman herself, I don’t mind at all that the contest of Amazons was not told because this movie’s concept is already great to begin with and its running time of 141 minutes was just right.
With all the greatness it was made with, I kept coming back to Wonder Woman when replaying superhero movies here at the comfort of home. In the cinemas back in 2017, I saw the film three times. Ultimately, I can say out loud that Wonder Woman is highly recommended and it is truly essential!
While this old comic book may not be the best-selling Superman story of the 1990s, it is for me the most significant one as well as creator Dan Jurgens’ best work ever on the Man of Steel. I’m talking about Superman #100.
Released in 1995 by DC Comics, Superman #100 came out with a special cover that highlighted the title “The Death of Clark Kent”. It was released with a hefty cover price of $3.95 for the United States and was pretty thick. It was written and illustrated by Dan Jurgens, the same man who worked on the best-selling Superman #75 (The Death of Superman climax).
The story begins with Clark Kent carrying a deformed Superman object (with makeshift glasses and a knife “stabbing” the letter S) and just feet behind him was his officemate Jimmy Olsen. Hidden mostly from Olsen’s view, the object signifies that someone knows that Clark Kent and Superman are one and the same person. Carefully, Clark hides it away and starts chatting with Jimmy who is very concerned of him.
Clark recently has been struggling over the fact that someone knows his secret identity. After carefully dismissing Jimmy, he moves out as Superman to take of business before the madman (who knows his identity) makes his next move.
Superman visits his parents Jonathan and Martha Kent at their home in Smallville. He expresses to Jonathan that he believes that the madman is someone he knew from his past: Kenny Braverman (Conduit).
If there is anything that defines this comic book, it is the in-depth storytelling done by Dan Jurgens complete with intense character development as well as exploration of people from his past (all connected to Smallville).
The plot structure is quite simple. Conduit knows Superman/Clark Kent personally and is always at least a step ahead of the superhero complete with strategies mess with him personally. Superman, who came back from the dead and has been struggling to fit in with the times, finds himself at his most vulnerable state not as a super-powered guy but as a human being. To analyze things here, Superman is about to get suffer and lose a lot again but not with the temporary death he got from fighting Doomsday, but rather the demise of his personality as Clark Kent.
Think about it. As Clark, Superman has a career, a social life, grew up the American way, intends to spend his life with Lois Lane and has ambitions of simple living that mean more to him than being with the Justice League America (note: writing the next great American novel).
The great thing here is that writer-artist Dan Jurgens humanized Superman a whole lot in this comic book and his work is excellent. Superman #100 opens up the discussion about what life would be like for the Man of Steel once his identity as Clark Kent gets ruined. The story also connects with Superman’s past (within the post-Crisis universe of DC Comics) and sheds light on his relationships with not only his parents but also with Pete Ross and Lana Lang (Clark’s ex-GF). When it comes to putting Superman in danger, Conduit’s approach is more convincing than Doomsday’s unstoppable power of destruction.
By the time I got immersed with Dan Jurgen’s storytelling and character development, the action scenes involving Superman felt justified. More importantly, this comic book shows the famous superhero being pushed to the limits in terms of personality tolerance and determination.
We live in an age in which established entertainment franchises get ruined by sequels or spin-offs or reboots which were mishandled by creators who tried to reinvent stuff only to fail and disappoint the fans.
Look at Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi. Director Rian Johnson had complete creative control on telling an engaging and fun Star Wars tale but ended up deforming it (disregarding Star Wars’ most defining elements), focused mainly on subverting people’s expectations and left many long-time fans disappointed and angry.
Going back to Superman #100, Dan Jurgens succeeded in redefining the American icon while maintaining respect of the established past of the character and kept the elements that defined Superman. His story about the demise of Superman’s secret identity was a very fresh concept and, for a time, it paved the way for opportunities to take the Man of Steel into new creative directions without disappointing fans.
Personally, I would love to see Warner Bros. produce a new standalone Superman movie with Henry Cavill as the superhero and adapt the core elements of Jurgens’ work in Superman #100 into the screenplay. Cavill already proved he could portray Superman/Clark very humanly in Man of Steel.
Hey readers, moviegoers and geeks! Were you able to watch the official, first movie trailer of Wonder Woman 1984? It was released globally today online and, in case you have not seen it, here is the movie trailer for your viewing pleasure.
That movie trailer, which was released around the time the Wonder Woman 1984 special event at the CCXP in Brazil ended, was a blast and having seen it, I am more excited for the movie’s June 2020 release. I plan to watch it on an IMAX screen by then.
What can I say? It does not only have the 1980s setting (hence the year on the movie title), but the said time setting was made to be very lively in terms of visuals, fashion, style, music and feel. When it comes the decade in real life, it was the same decade when DC Comics published the maxi-series Crisis on Infinite Earths. Following Crisis, a major relaunch of the entire DC Comics universe followed and along the way Wonder Woman was reintroduced under the creative direction of George Perez. The George Perez-era of Wonder Woman, at least seen in the trailer, is looking like a big influence on the new movie starring Gal Gadot and Chris Pine (whose character Steve Trevor returns somehow) and directed by Patty Jenkins. This brings me to my next point.
Early in the trailer, Diana/Wonder Woman was shown talking with archaeologist Barbara Ann Minerva (played by Kristen Wiig). What’s so significant about Minerva? She is none other than the super villain Cheetah, specifically the 3rd version of the character that debuted in the comic books during the George Perez-era of Wonder Woman!
Here are some images from the pages of Wonder Woman #9 from 1988.
As I mentioned before, the involvement of Cheetah in the movie is alone a great attraction. As far as the trailer goes, we only see Cheetah in her normal human form with Kristen Wiig. The way I see it, we will eventually see the super villain in her terrifying, animal-like form. I am speculating the filmmakers will save that for the movie’s release and will only show very brief, body part shots in the next two movie trailers leading into June 2020. It’s much better this way especially under the watch of Walter Hamada.
Regarding the return of Steve Trevor, I don’t want to speculate as to how he returns given what happened in the acclaimed Wonder Woman movie of 2017. Still, it sure is nice to Chris Pine return as Diana’s romantic partner because he and Gal Gadot have solid chemistry together and there is indeed a need to present more cinematic adventures of them together just like in the comic books!
As seen in the trailer, some shots showing Wonder Woman and Steve traveling together in a foreign land (with a desert environment) where they encounter military hardware operated by some group (or a government perhaps?). This is clearly a Cold War reference although which particular setting or historical event the movie is emphasizing remains to be revealed.
The Cold War setting is the new era emphasized for Wonder Woman 1984. Story details are unintentionally light but what was shown in the trailer made the movie very promising.
As for other elements like the cinematic Maxwell Lord, shots of Themyscira, Wonder Woman’s armor and others, I’ll discuss those next time. Right now, things are looking great for Wonder Woman 1984 and we’ll see more what the filmmakers have left to offer in the next two movie trailers.
If my sources are correct, the creative synergy of director Patty Jenkins combined with passionate work implemented by Gal Gadot on playing the Queen of Superheroes should result a great Wonder Woman cinematic story as well as a solid superhero movie. On the part of Warner Bros. Pictures, it seems the studio and its creative teams are now in more solid footing when it comes to making new DC Comics superhero movies. The DC Comics cinematic stuff will resume on February 2020 with the release of Birds of Prey.
Wonder Woman 1984 will open in cinemas around the world on June 2020.
With the unexpected, massive success of the Joker movie (my review here), the DC Comics brand in the field of movies got strong even though the said film was not related at all with the current DC Comics Cinematic Universe. The R-rated, Joaquin Phoenix-led movie grossed over $1,000,000,000 worldwide (without even a release in China) and already it is one of the most profitable movies this year given the fact it was made for well below $100 million. Also, please take note that less than 100% of each ticket sold gets collected by the movie producer.
The future meanwhile looks very promising for fans of DC Comics movies. 2020 will see the respective theatrical releases of Birds of Prey (February) and Wonder Woman 1984 (June) care of Warner Bros. and its creative teams of filmmakers. The Batman (starring Robert Pattinson and directed by Matt Reeves) meanwhile spearheads the cinematic superhero excitement for 2021.
“I’m honored to join the iconic #DCUniverse and it’s a true pleasure to become, BLACK ADAM. BLACK ADAM is blessed by magic with the powers equal to SUPERMAN, but the difference is he doesn’t toe the mark or walk the line. He’s a rebellious, one of a kind superhero, who’ll always do what’s right for the people – but he does it his way,” Johnson wrote in his Facebook page’s November 15, 2019 post.
“I’ve not given up the role. There’s a lot I have to give for Superman yet. A lot of storytelling to do. A lot of real, true depths to the honesty of the character I want to get into. I want to reflect the comic books. That’s important to me. There’s a lot of justice to be done for Superman. The status is: You’ll see,” Cavill said.
While there is no clear sign that there will be a new Superman movie coming, I want to express that Warner Bros. and its creative teams should grab the opportunity of bringing Dwayne Johnson and Henry Cavill together on the big screen as Black Adam and Superman respectively.
I’m not saying that Superman should be in the Black Adam movie because I believe that the 2021 movie has its own concept already. Rather they can have the two DC Comics characters together in a future Superman movie with Black Adam as the main antagonist, and have the two fight each other hard.
In the comic books, there have been past battles between the Man of Steel and the Shazam villain. The first was in the 1982 comic book DC Comics Presents #49. Check out the images posted below.
And then there was the other encounter in 2005’s Action Comics #831.
Let’s not forget the fact that Dwayne Johnson is a great attraction when it comes to hard battles on the big screen.
I believe that having Johnson as Black Adam fighting Cavill’s Superman will be a great cinematic attraction. With the right director and the right fight choreographer, such a movie battle will be a lot of fun and make people forget about the disappointing battle of the DC Comics icons in Batman v. Superman (which started strongly but lost energy and its pace worsened). In terms of storytelling, there are enough comic book references to help screenwriters come up with a sensible and believable way to establish a conflict between Black Adam and Superman. Again, there is Batman v. Superman as a cinematic storytelling disappointment to avoid repeating.
Let’s not forget that the movie Shazam was a critical and commercial hit for Warner Bros. and it’s safe to say that we will see more of Zachary Levi reprise the title role in future movies. At the same time, we have yet to see Shazam (formerly called Captain Marvel) face off with Black Adam and have a true, lengthy encounter with Superman.
If you are a dedicated DC Comics fan who wants to see Superman and Black Adam clash together on the big screen, express your support to the filmmakers, to Warner Bros. and also to Henry Cavill and Dwayne Johnson online.
Let me make it clear to all of you readers. The movie Joker is NOT a superhero movie at all even though it is a cinematic adaptation focused on one of DC Comics’ biggest super villains. It is also not a movie to watch for fun and enjoyment, but it is still engaging in a very different way.
The truth is, Joker is a large art film made to shock viewers with darkness, deep grit and some graphic violence. The good news here is that the movie is very engaging and easily reminds me of two certain movies that Robert De Niro and director Martin Scorsese worked together on. It’s a victory for Warner Bros. and DC Comics.
Joker follows the exploits and Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix), a struggling man who is hardly surviving working as an entertainer (a clown, specifically) supporting his mother and dealing with the hard life of Gotham City which was stylistically made to look like 1970s New York City. Arthur, who is living with a condition of uncontrolled laughter, looks up to TV show host Franklin Murray (played by Robert De Niro) as an inspiring figure to try out comedy and hopefully make it big to free himself and his mother from poverty.
While performing as a clown surrounded by children in a hospital, Arthur accidentally drops a gun he just received from a co-worker. Because of this, he gets fired and learns that the man who gave him the gun lied to their boss. While riding the subway still looking like a clown, he gets beaten up by three business executives who were drunk. In response, Arthur kills them with the gun and gets away. This incident starts a chain of events that causes friction between the upper class and the lower class, and then protesters wearing clown masks multiply.
On face value, Joker is clearly inspired by character-driven films of the 1970s. While it is not necessarily based on any particular comic book, it carried some slight elements from Batman: The Killing Joke. What is more obvious is that it took inspiration from De Niro-Scorsese films Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy.
As a psychological thriller, Joker is a great portrayal of how low a desperate man could go only to strive and survive. Arthur Fleck is greatly played by Joaquin Phoenix who carefully blends drama, anger, violence and even humor altogether. He really made the cinematic Joker his own and along the way, his Joker laught is more effective than that of Heath Ledger and the Joker physical appearance is almost as memorable as that of Jack Nicholson’s. The movie is indeed very violent but it is not overly violent. To be specific, there are a lot more deaths, acts of violence and shooting in Brian De Palma’s Scarface than this movie.
Joker also has a lively portrayal of the conflict between social classes. The scenes of the clown-masked protesters filling the trains and the streets still resonate with the socio-political rallies that happened in modern society. There is also the aspect of poor and desperate people depending on government for survival and they are easily vulnerable to getting cut off whenever resources run out.
Desperation is also a solid theme in the narrative. To see Arthur Fleck look up to Franklin Murray and imagine sharing the stage with him on TV reminds me a lot about some real-life people (who don’t have too much money) I encountered in Cebu City who can’t help but stop studying (even the older ones quit their legitimate jobs) and get into local entertainment hoping that fame and fortune will lift them up. Of course, when things get worse, desperate people would either get back to what they can live with or, worse, turn to a life of crime just to survive. With regards to Arthur’s attempt to become a comedian on screen, that easily reminds me of similar people in real life who thought they are very talented to be the next great superstars but ended up failing.
With its very solid direction by Todd Philips, great dramatic performances, nostalgic presentation and in-depth characterization, Joker is a must-watch movie mainly for moviegoers who want to be engaged with psychological thrills and bouts. As a DC Comics movie that is NOT connected with Warner Bros.’ current franchise of superhero movies (that started with Man of Steel in 2013), Joker works as an adulterated, standalone movie. To compare it with comic books published DC, I should say Joker is very much like an Elseworlds story. For the new comers reading this, Elseworlds was a franchise of comic books published by DC Comics that had stories using established characters but were told outside of DC universe canon.
Joker is highly recommended. Just don’t expect to see the usual superhero movie elements in this very solid DC Comics movie.
Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.
I miss the old times when big rivals Marvel and DC Comics would set aside competition temporarily to team up and rely on their respective comic creators to make superhero crossover comic books that the fans can enjoy.
Back in the 1970s, key developments related to the comic book adaptation of The Wizard of Oz brought the two rivals together as partners. In 1976, Marvel and DC’s first superhero crossover Superman vs. The Amazing Spider-Man got published and to this day many comic book collectors and geeks I encountered still enjoy it. A few of them even called it a classic.
The collaboration between Marvel and DC continued in 1981 with Superman and Spider-Man which was published as issue number 28 of the Marvel Treasury Edition series.
This is my look back at Superman and Spider-Man.
The comic book
Scripted by then Marvel Comic editor-in-chief Jim Shooter (with Marv Wolfman mentioned for plot suggestions) with art drawn by John Buscema and inkwork done by Terry Austin, Al Milgrom, Steva Leialoha, Walt Simonson, Bob Layton, Joe Rubinstein and Bob Wiacek, the comic book begins when Spider-Man swings into a construction site where he encounters several armed men and stops them singlehandedly.
Even though he stopped the bad guys, Spider-Man’s spider sense bothers him making him speculate that, because there’s no clear danger around him, the construction site seemed to be a threat.
After Spider-Man swings away from the police who just arrived, classic Marvel supervillain Doctor Doom watches via surveillance video and he was bother by the way things turned out.
“I did not like the way Spider-Man paused and look around after subduing the thieves – – as if he sensed something unusual about the excavation! Those accursed spider instincts of his,” Doom said before proceeding with his master plan.
A day later, the Hulk arrives in Metropolis causing lots of damage. Separately Superman and Spider-Man arrive to contain the green guy. However, things are not what they seem. This is where the story description ends.
What this comic book lacked compared to the 1976 Superman-Spider-Man crossover is visual impact. Clearly John Buscema had to follow closely the script which called for multiple panels per page and that left him little room to draw scenes dynamically. That’s not to see the art is weak. In fact, Buscema’s art is pretty good and he has deep knowledge about how the characters (including those many supporting characters and other minor characters from both Marvel and DC Comics) really looked from the size of Hulk’s body, the details on Wonder Woman’s costume, the distinctive look of J. Jonah Jameson, Perry White, etc. In short, I recognized the characters very easily.
While the high number of panels per page limited him, Buscema managed to come up with some action shots that packed some impact.
When it comes to writing and storytelling, this comic book exceeds that of the 1976 Superman-Spider-Man crossover big time! To start with, the plot is much more elaborate, more detailed and yet consistently remained easy to follow.
While the 1976 crossover had the most popular villains of Superman and Spider-Man as the representation of evil, this one instead had Dr. Doom and Parasite. The great news is that these two super villains complement each other nicely and that itself adds good depth into the plot. Dr. Doom is a major schemer and Parasite fitted nicely within his master plan for global chaos.
Regarding dialogue, the script had a lot of strength and was also specific in capturing the personalities of the superheroes, the super villains and the supporting cast. I can easily identify J. Jonah Jameson, Perry White, Lois Lane and others through the dialogue.
Not to be outdone is the deeper approach to the crossover aspect of the story. Right from the start, the comic book creators expected us readers to suspend disbelief and start believing that while the story is non-canon, the respective universes of Marvel and DC Comics co-existed. Because there were TV shows of Wonder Woman and the Hulk playing, the two characters were included in the comic book adding depth to the crossover.
Speaking of crossovers, this comic book was not limited to Superman and Spider-Man. The encounter between the Hulk and Superman was a short but sweet spectacle to read. The encounter between Wonder Woman and Spider-Man meanwhile was short yet fun.
Adding more to the fun in this comic book was how Clark Kent interacted with the Spider-Man supporting characters while Peter Parker interacted with the Superman supporting characters. I enjoyed every moment of these scenes.
As far as narrative is concerned, this comic book is slightly slanted towards Superman. One factor behind this was the implementation of how local authorities interact with Superman and Spider-Man. Whenever he solves crime, Superman is highly respected by the public and the police. This is not the case with Spider-Man who is often perceived to be a social menace even though he helps solve crimes. Another factor was that Superman did more detective-type work (including a visit to Latveria) while Spidey hardly contributed anything to the plot’s development.
Regardless, the two icons got a fair share of the spotlight during the final stages of the story and there was enough spectacle to enjoy.
If there is any complaint I have, it would be the comic book creators’ reluctance on fully connecting itself to the 1976 crossover. In the scene wherein Peter Parker was guided into the film editing room by Jimmy Olsen, he recognized Lois Lane and remembered meeting her in the 1976 crossover (which ended with socializing). And yet when Spider-Man and Superman get together in this comic book, there was a noticeable lack of friendliness and personal cooperation between them even though they bonded nicely in the 1976 story.
Overall, Superman and Spider-Man is indeed a highly engaging, fun-filled superhero crossover comic book. For me, it is a true literary classic and definitely worth searching for out there. I read this crossover many times from start to finish and even though I knew the plot and the dialogue, I still had a lot of fun reading along the way. With the combined talents of Shooter, Buscema and many others, this superhero crossover was indeed one of the very best stories ever told by Marvel and DC Comics.
Given the current corporate climate Marvel and DC Comics are now in, it is very unlikely we will see another creatively fun superhero crossover collaboration between them happening soon. For the newcomers reading this, Marvel is owned by the Walt Disney Company while DC Comics is owned by Warner Bros.
Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from watching this feature film and doing online research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.
From time to time in the world of cinema, something very significant happens on the big screen which impacts moviegoers deeply. Eventually they talk about for months or even years after seeing it. In due time, such memorable sequences or scenes become iconic. What remains talked about among moviegoers and superhero culture fans until now is the No Man’s Land scene from the acclaimed 2017 superhero movie Wonder Womanstarring Gal Gadot and directed by Patty Jenkins.
Released on June 2017, Wonder Woman grossed $821,847,012 worldwide and was also critically acclaimed. Its optimistic tone made it stand out among the DC Cinematic Universe movies and it has been argued that Wonder Woman was Warner Bros.’ serious effort to symbolically pull their cinematic superheroes out of the cloud of darkness that started in 2013 with Man of Steel.
Wonder Woman had it all. Great hard-hitting action, humor (nicely performed by the supporting cast), good pacing, nice cinematography and of course the very fine performances by the actors especially with Gal Gadot’s portrayal of Diana/Wonder Woman.
Among its many scenes, the No Man’s Land sequence is the most defining piece of the film laced with great cinematic art, meaning and powerful symbolism. It’s a very iconic scene that deserves to be seen again and again. The scene also helped the movie win the Best Fight Award of the 2018 MTV Movie and TV Awards.
Why is the No Man’s Land scene so iconic?
1) It introduces Wonder Woman’s iconic imagery to the world (both within the movie and to moviegoers) – Wonder Woman has been around since 1941 and for the most part she wears the tiara, the bracelets, the strapless top and the like. For the movie, the scene marked the first time ever Wonder Woman appeared wearing her famous costume (specifically a sacred Amazon armor within the story) introducing herself not only within the movie but also to the moviegoers in the cinemas. This scene was accompanied with the very powerful musical score of Rupert Gregson-Williams. By watching and listening, Wonder Woman’s first appearance in her armor symbolized the start of her effort to save people and turn the tide against evil and darkness.
2) Diana: No. But it’s what I’m going to do! – In the moments before Diana makes her appearance on the battlefield, she encounters a suffering woman carrying a child who asked for her help and tells her that their village was seized and her villagers who could not escape end up as slaves.
Diana tries to convince Steve Trevor to help the affected people but he insisted on pushing through with their mission. For your reference, posted below is the dialogue from the film.
Steve Trevor: This is no man’s land, Diana! It means no man can cross it, alright? This battalion has been here for nearly a year and they’ve barely gained an inch. All right? Because on the other side there are a bunch of Germans pointing machine guns at every square inch of this place. This is not something you can cross. It’s not possible.
Diana Prince: So… what? So we do nothing?
Steve Trevor: No, we are doing something! We are! We just… we can’t save everyone in this war. This is not what we came here to do
(Diana moves away from Steve, loosens her hair, wears her tiara and turns back to Steve)
Diana Prince: No. But it’s what I’m going to do.
These moments before Wonder Woman’s rise clearly show that she is dedicated to saving people. Her disagreement with Steve was reasonable and the guy, who witnessed the Germans and Amazons clashed early in the film, underestimated Diana’s bravery and special abilities. Diana made the right decision even though her act looked suicidal to the men on both sides of the field. There is just no way she would ignore the fact that people got overwhelmed and have suffered. More importantly, the build-up that started with Diana’s talk with the suffering lady was simply perfect and very timely leading to Wonder Woman’s rise on the field.
3)She stood up for what she believed in – Not only was the No Man’s Land scene a fine display of Wonder Woman’s courage and heroism, it was also an extension of what she believed in and was she learned having grown up in Themyscira. Diana is a warrior but she’s not the type who focuses mainly on achieving victory only nor is she the type who gets satisfied with the use of violence as a means to win. She grew up oriented by her queen mother and Amazon superiors to be compassionate, brave, inspiring and loving. After turning the tide against the Germans and liberating the village, she did NOT develop a personal hatred nor grudge against the Germans. After all, she knew that men can be corrupted and yet they can still be reformed and saved. Wonder Woman stood up, moved forward, deflected the many pieces of ammunition fired at her and inspired Steve and their allies to follow her lead and turn the tide of battle. That’s a great reflection of her heroism, bravery and her dedication on standing up for what she believes in.
Wonder Woman cares about the people who need help and in return we the moviegoers care for her and look up to her as the Queen of Superheroes. She definitely is the kind of superhero we need to see more of in movies.
4) The No Man’s Land scene is comparable with real life art emphasizing struggle – Many may not have realized it until now but the iconic scene in the movie is quite comparable to real life artworks that emphasized bravery, struggle and the effort to be free if not victorious. The one classic art that comes to mind is Liberty Leading the People painted by Eugene Delacroix. That 1830 French artwork about the July Revolution showed a lady with a phrygian cap leading guiding her armed companions and leading the way as they step over some dead bodies on the ground. Liberty in that art was depicted by the painter as a lady of the people as well as a goddess-like figure. Wonder Woman in the No Man’s Land scene flowed with a nice pace using a few slow-motion shots to emphasize her ability to block a bullet with her brace. It’s like looking at a painting being animated. And then as Wonder Woman creates opportunities to beat the opposition, the allied soldiers gained the courage to climb up and run up the field to fight. As the breakthrough happens, Wonder Woman said, “Steve! Let’s go!”
Moments later there is a short shot of Wonder Woman in the foreground running (towards the camera) while the many allied soldiers in the background follow her.
The No Man’s Land scene is quite artistic in its own style and if it is not inspired by the Liberty Leading the People painting, it sure shares common themes of courage and battle with it.
The No Man’s Land sequence is truly iconic and it will always be identified with the cinematic Wonder Woman and even actress Gal Gadot herself. While waiting for Wonder Woman 1984 to come out, we can enjoy replaying Wonder Woman on Blu-ray and watch the story unfold. The No Man’s Land scene is always engaging and artistic to watch. Patty Jenkins and her creative team deserve our appreciation and gratitude.
Let me start by confirming that although I am a geek and I read lots of comic books – especially superhero stories of Marvel Comics, DC Comics and other publishers – I never was a fan of Shazam (formerly called Captain Marvel before Marvel Comics took the trademark legally) nor was I fond of the Marvel Family (Captain Marvel, Jr., Mary Marvel and others) he was identified with.
For your reference, watch the latest trailer below.
Shazam/Captain Marvel has a very long history in superhero comics. While the superhero belongs to DC Comics, he (and the related characters) started in comics published by Fawcett Publications in the early 1940s. He debuted in Whiz Comics #2. Believe it or not, in terms of comic book sales Shazam/Captain Marvel was the most popular superhero of the 1940s and not even Superman could match him. DC Comics sued Fawcett on the grounds of copyright infringement and in part this contributed to the publisher’s decision to cease publishing any comics of Shazam/Captain Marvel by the year 1953. This was only the start of the long road before Shazam and the related characters became part of DC Comics.
When it comes to the DC Cinematic Universe, movie productions are now being done under the careful watch of Walter Hamada and already major improvements have happened such as Aquaman making over $1 billion in ticket sales globally. Shazam! is a film clearly made under Hamada’s leadership and based on the previews, it seems like director David F. Sandberg and his creative team have done a good job and somehow they managed to get good performances from their actors.
As to why I look forward to watching the movie even though I’m no fan of the character, here are my reasons:
1. Seeing Shazam’s literary concept translated into cinematic form – For those who are not familiar with Shazam/Captain Marvel, the superhero’s concept goes like this. There’s a homeless teenager named Billy Batson who was chosen by a very old wizard to continue a fight against evil. Being the chosen one, Billy Batson becomes the muscular, caped superhero Shazam/Captain Marvel by simply saying “Shazam” (which attracts a quick bolt of lightning to him enabling the transformation). In my view, this classic concept deserves a cinematic adaptation. Although the movie trailers showed bits of it, I feel there is more than meets the eye. The transformation from teenager to caped superhero is one thing, his character development is another. This brings me to my next point.
2. Watching the actors bring the characters to life – It seems that the right actors were hired to bring the characters – notably Shazam, Billy Batson and Freddy Freeman – to life. Having read comic books of Shazam/Captain Marvel and watched several episodes of the Shazam cartoon series on TV decades, I still remember how the traits of the characters and from what I’ve seen in the trailers and previews, things are looking good. Based on available information, Zachary Levi reminds me a lot about the caped superhero walking with a human adult body but is living with uncertainty for he really is a teenager (Billy Batson) behind it all. Levi looks good too with humor. Jack Dylan Grazer’s Freddy is a very avid geek which I can related with. Asher Angel as Billy Batson so far looks good in handling the character. Definitely I want to see more of their performances.
3. I’m interested in superhero comedy from Warner Bros – Since the release of 2017’s Wonder Woman, the DC Cinematic Universe turned a corner and gradually moved away from the cloud of darkness, grit and cynicism that started with Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel. Wonder Woman was not only a more optimistic superhero movie, it also had a good amount of humor successfully pulled off by the supporting cast. Shazam! meanwhile is clearly a superhero comedy and it could become the most cheerful (if not the most humorous) DC Comics movie yet without being too cheesy or too childish. Director Sandberg and the actors seem to have established a lot of synergy to carefully mix action, fun and humor. I’m hoping that what was shown in the previews is just a taste of more good and fun stuff to come. While I rarely watch comedies, I’m interested in more humor in DC Comics movies. Besides, the adulterated and exagerrated humor I saw in the Deadpool movies is just not entertaining.
4. The state of the DC Cinematic Universe under Hamada’s watch – As it is already confirmed by Warner Bros. that standalone DC Comics superhero movies will be the norm for now, Shazam! is an opportunity to show where the current cinematic universe is right now with regards to connections with other DC superheroes. Already there were references to Batman, Superman and even the Justice League (as seen in the merchandise shot in the latest trailer). I’m not expecting to see much connectivity with the other DC superheroes at all but some signs as to where the cinematic universe is going would be good enough for me. Aquaman had a small reference to the events of the Justice League movie. This is, after all, the cinematic story of Shazam/Captain Marvel. The forcing and rushing of a shared cinematic universe previously done by Zack Snyder is in the past. We must remember that we are now watching the DC Cinematic Universe under the leadership of Walter Hamada.
Those are my reasons as to why I will watch Shazam! in cinemas once it opens. I’m no fan of Shazam/Captain Marvel but the superhero deserves his cinematic adaptation and so far the movie looks very promising. I feel it also has the potential to attract lots of fans as well as moviegoers who are not even familiar with the character. We will find out soon enough if Shazam! will be a hit or not.
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What is my favorite superhero movie of all time? It is none other than 2017’s Wonder Woman movie that starred Gal Gadot and was directed by Patty Jenkins. That film is truly a spectacular spectacular!
Naturally I am heavily anticipating the next movie Wonder Woman 1984 which is set for a June 2020 worldwide release in cinemas. It was originally set for a November 2019 release but Warner Bros. had to push it back.
Why am I excited for the movie?
1) Gal Gadot as the Queen of Superheroes – Israeli actress Gal Gadot is a lot more than a talented actress. She has proven in the 2017 that she IS Wonder Woman as she captured the core values of the icon and convincingly dramatized those values and character elements on the big screen. With Wonder Woman 1984 coming, I am excited to see how Gadot will flesh out Diana/WW as she spends time in Man’s World in the year 1984. When it comes to spectacle, Gadot is a proven action performer and knows how to please viewers with WW in action. Of course, the stunt and fight coordinators as well as the physical trainer all contributed to the spectacle in the first movie and for sure they are working hard to fill WW84 with new spectacle.
2) Patty Jenkins’ direction – To make things clear, Patty Jenkins is a storyteller first and foremost. Her work in the 2017 WW movie was very good and there was a nice balance between spectacle, character development and plot development. The strong focus on the development of Diana from the world of Themyscira to Man’s World really reminded me of what I read in the comic books long ago (particularly George Perez’s WW in the post-Crisis DC Comics universe that started in 1986). Not only that, the sequence from the early part of the moving with the narrative drifting from the present day into Diana’s past as a child in Themyscira was easily the most immersive narrative transition I’ve ever seen in any superhero movie! Don’t forget the now iconic No Man’s Land scene which heavily emphasized Wonder Woman’s presence in Man’s World. Before I forget, the implementation of humor in the film was clever as supporting cast members performed it leaving Gal Gadot free to play Wonder Woman straight.
Considering what was achieved in the 2017 movie, I am confident that Jenkins has new concepts to realize on the big screen in WW84. We just have to wait until June 2020 to find out.
3.Kristen Wiig as Cheetah – This one is more intriguing. Kristen Wiig is often identified with comedy and this alone made her look like an unlikely candidate to play one of the classic Wonder Woman villains…Cheetah. In the comics, specifically during the George Perez era, Cheetah was tough and rough against WW. I believe that with the strong support from the film crew and director Jenkins, Kristen Wiig can prove herself to not only be serious but also gritty as Cheetah. So far there are no images showing Cheetah in her anticipated beastly look which is fine with me because I prefer that Warner Bros. should keep such images secret until the film’s opening.
4. The 1980s setting – While it is a fact that nostalgia for the 1980s has waned in reality, having Wonder Woman in the said decade could create something new and memorable for all moviegoers. As far as we know, Wonder Woman is into a conflict with the Soviet Union during the Cold War and Cheetah lurks somewhere. Will the sequel adapt key story elements from George Perez’s 1980s Wonder Woman? Will there be references to the Iran-Contra connection of the decade that saw the murder of many men, women and children? The Soviet occupation of Afghanistan perhaps? We won’t find out until June 2020. The 1980s setting, by the way, could be an opportunity to add zest to the ongoing superhero movie craze that Hollywood as a whole has been benefiting from and, story-wise.
5) Gradual build-up for the DC Comics cinematic universe – I have no doubt that Wonder Woman 1984 will gradually help build-up the DC Comics cinematic universe in terms of storytelling and world-building under the watch of Walter Hamada. The recent mega-blockbuster Aquaman was a finely crafted movie that portrayed the origin of Aquaman while at the same time tell an epic story in the present day set after the events of Justice League no less! In my view, there is a clean slate for universe-building as far as DC Comics superheroes in cinema is concerned. While the future of the cinematic Batman and Superman remains unclear, Wonder Woman and Aquaman are here to stay and then there is also the upcoming films of Birds of Prey and the Suicide Squad sequel that will add to the cinematic universe build-up. Personally I prefer the cinematic universe build-up to be gradual and not rushed and heavy loaded (as seen during the watch of Zack Snyder). Building up the current cinematic universe piece-by-piece by releasing standalone movies of DC’s superheroes (and teams of intriguing characters) from time to time is preferable. Under the watch of Walter Hamada, I am confident he is executing plans on not only improving the DC Comics cinematic universe but also defining it. Going back to Wonder Woman 1984, I really look forward as to what its plot will add to the cinematic universe as a whole.
June 2020 is still far away but it will come and already I am looking forward to watching Wonder Woman 1984 on opening day on an IMAX screen.
For your enjoyment, here are some YouTube videos I embedded. Also included is a short clip of Kristen Wiig’s act.