A Look Back At Superman and Spider-Man

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.

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The cover.

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.

Quality

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.

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This remains fun to read.
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Peter Parker in Metropolis along with the Superman supporting characters. This is one great element that made this comic book worth reading.

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.

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Nothing can be more frustrating than getting attacked by police officers when you try to help them solve their problems.

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.

Conclusion

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.

Whether you search for the original comic book or its inclusion in a volume of The Marvel/DC Collection: Crossover Classics Volume 1, Superman and Spider-Man is highly recommended!


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

 

Why The No Man’s Land Scene In Wonder Woman Is Iconic

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 Woman starring 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?

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The moment that captivated moviegoers worldwide.

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.

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Diana listening to a desperate lady whose village got ravaged.

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.

Conclusion

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.


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

Why I’m Looking Forward To Shazam In Cinemas Even Though I’m No Fan Of The Superhero

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.

But even so, I still will watch in the cinemas Shazam!, the next DC Comics Cinematic Universe movie from Warner Bros. starring Zachary Levi, Asher Angel and Jack Dylan Grazer. It is directed by David F. Sandberg and it will be released worldwide on the first week of April.

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.

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Freddy Freeman and Shazam/Captain Marvel. 

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.

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Justice League references.

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.


Thank you for reading. If you find this article to be engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco.

Why I am excited for Wonder Woman 1984

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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.


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

 

Aquaman is truly a triumphant superhero movie

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I can say it out loud that Aquaman, directed by James Wan (Furious 7), is easily one of the most thrilling superhero movies I’ve seen and it sure came fully loaded with a lot of fun. This is a great development on the part of Warner Bros. as it pushed to salvage and improve its DC Comics lineup of big budget superhero movies with executive Walter Hamada leading the DC Comics movie productions. I can say that Aquaman is a clear sign that the current DC Comics cinematic universe is moving away from the dark and gritty vision implemented by director Zack Snyder with 2013’s Man of Steel.

Not clear enough for you? Consider the fact that Aquaman made over $1,000,000,000 in ticket sales worldwide. Aquaman himself is not part of DC Comics trinity (Wonder Woman, Batman and Superman) and yet the character memorably played by Jason Momoa proved to be attractive to moviegoers around the world.

Firstly the story emphasizes very relevant themes like Aquaman’s origin as the human creation of a man living in the surface and of a woman who is the queen of the underwater kingdom of Atlantis. There is also attention paid to Aquaman’s heritage in the royal family, his being a half-breed made an issue on royalty, and most of all his destiny. Behind the superhero’s struggles is the conflict and light political developments concerning the underwater kingdoms laced with some elements of real world aquatic pollution caused by humans and industrial players.

For the most part, the plot manages to remain solid from start to finish and there was not a single moment where I felt lost. The movie follows Aquaman and his interactions with Mera, Black Manta and others then takes its time focusing on the underwater kingdom’s stakeholders and how their decisions affect each other. The pacing moves from moderate to fast for the most part and because there were a lot of thrills and surprises, there were never a dull nor a sleepy moment for me when I saw the film.

Performances
Actor Jason Momoa clearly was born to play Aquaman and in terms of talent he proves to be not only very capable with the action scenes but also successfully bring the DC Comics superhero to life on the big screen while still being able to perform comedy smoothly. In fact when it comes to on-screen superhero humor, I would say that Momoa is comparable with Robert Downey, Jr. (Iron Man) and I am not exaggerating here.

Then there is Mera memorably portrayed by Amber Heard. As soon as she first appeared in the film, Mera’s importance becomes hard to ignore and with regards to both screen time and interaction with Aquaman, Mera is easily the 2nd lead of the film. Because Amber Heard’s character had a lot of screen time and proved to be almost as important as the titular superhero, sometimes I felt the movie should have been titled Aquaman and Mera. Amber Heard clearly is very talented as she not only excelled with the action scenes but also emphasized Mera’s intelligence, courage and emotional range very nicely on screen.

Then there are the supporting players. Nicole Kidman’s role as the mother of Aquaman is probably the most significant supporting character performance in any of the recent DC Comics movies in recent years. Patrick Wilson delivered a very solid performance as the power-hungry brother of Aquaman while Dolph Lundgren and Willem Dafoe both played wise old men and added nice variety to the film’s strong cast. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II meanwhile was a surprising good performer even though his presence as Black Manta did not register enough screen time. I have this feeling that Black Manta will be more prominent in a future movie.

Presentation
I must say that Aquaman is indeed an epic superhero movie laced with many elements that defined Star Wars and Indiana Jones. Sure we get to see Aquaman’s development and his connection with the underwater kingdom but director James Wan and the screenwriters ensured that the movie has more than enough variety to keep moviegoers engaged. They were indeed successful.

There are key parts of the film where I felt like I was watching an Indiana Jones-inspired adventure complete with changes of interesting locations. The big battle build-up in the 3rd act reminded me a lot about Star Wars which I found intriguing and even engaging at the same time. To lighten the mood, humor and romantic comedy (nicely done between Mera and Aquaman) provided nice relief to us moviegoers.

When it comes to spectacle, this movie delivered tons of great visual stuff (great art direction by the way) complete with many moments of fast-paced, high-intensity action! Hard action, energy blasts, weapon combat, fast rides, monster encounters, the smashing of walls, the explosions and stunts really filled up the screen many times and the energy behind them all made it very hard for anyone to get bored when watching the film. It rivals Michael Bay’s Transformers on on-screen spectacle but it never felt brainless to me.

Director Wan, whose most successful movie is Furious 7, really knows how to entertain moviegoers and give them a lot of fun in return for the money they paid to watch the film. Thanks to Wan and his creative team, Aquaman is the most action-packed, most thrilling and visually stunning movie of the current DC Comics cinematic universe (formerly called DC Extended Universe or DCEU) and in some ways its epic presentation even rivals that of Avengers: Infinity War. I think James Wan should be hired for a future Justice League movie.

The music? Rupert Gregson-Williams did a solid job on making the movie lively to the ears and he succeeded on keeping up with the film’s epic concept. Gregson-Williams, by the way, also scored the music for the acclaimed Wonder Woman movie. The most memorable song in the movie is undoubtedly Everything I Need which was greatly performed by Skylar Grey. That song was truly perfect to end the film with and I remember its impact inside the theater. When it started playing, I simply stayed on my seat enjoying the song while waiting for the mid-credits scene to play.

Overall
The way it was made, Aquaman is easily one of the best superhero movies ever made as the combined talents of director Wan, the creative team and the actors fused a lot to create cinematic greatness. This movie has strong characterization, a solid story, strong performances from the actors and tons of spectacle to enjoy. Speaking of enjoyment, I strongly recommend watching Aquaman on the IMAX screen as the visual spectacle really was immersive.

I don’t know with you guys but I am already anticipating Aquaman on Blu-ray disc.

Thank you for reading. If you enjoyed this article, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to your fellow comic book geeks and Aquaman fans. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format for you to order.

Author’s Note: This article was originally published at my old Geeks and Villagers blog. What you read on this website was an updated and expanded version. In other words, this newest version you just read is the most definitive version

What I’d like to see in a Man of Steel sequel

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Superman is more than just a comic book character. He is an American icon as well as a pop culture icon with global appeal. He is arguably the reason why we have superheroes to enjoy through varied media forms like comic books, video games, movies and television.

Co-created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, Superman debuted in comics way back in 1938. The icon became even more iconic around the world in 1978 with the success of the Superman live-action movie that starred Christopher Reeve. To this day, Christopher Reeve is still beloved and millions of people around the world still hang on to him as their preferred cinematic Superman.

Then in 2013, Warner Bros. released Man of Steel starring Henry Cavill and directed by Zack Snyder. While it grossed $668 million globally, the movie was divisive among fans and movie critics due to its dark and gritty presentation.

In 2016, the hyped Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice movie was released featuring DC Comics’ two famous icons (plus Wonder Woman). It was darker, grittier and simply was not entertaining enough for the many moviegoers who seek fun with superhero movies. It did not help that Superman was secondary to Batman in the film.

In 2017, Justice League (directed by Zack Snyder but Joss Whedon finished the film) was released and brought back Superman who was portrayed by Cavill to be more optimistic and somewhat inspiring much like Christopher Reeve. The movie ended up as a disappointment which prompted Warner Bros. to adjust again their executives handling the DC Comics movie production.

The good news is that Aquaman (released December 2018) gave the DC Comics movie franchise a new lease on life as its optimistic tone (laced with humor and even romantic comedy), intense action scenes, memorable performances and immersive presentation of the aquatic world from the comics made it succeed big time. Like the Wonder Woman movie of 2017, Aquaman was made to be fun with thrills (none of the darkness and grit) while at the same time paid close attention on presenting Aquaman/Arthur Curry as an inspiring cinematic superhero.

This brings me to my main point – it is high time for Warner Bros. to bring back Superman on the big screen big time with a Man of Steel sequel with optimism, fun and straightforward heroism in mind.

I know that as of this writing there is uncertainty about Henry Cavill reprising DC Comics’ famous icon. Still I really want to see the British actor return on the big screen and his legacy on playing Superman can be improved while giving moviegoers a lot of fun.

Here are some things I want to see in a Man of Steel sequel:

    1. Henry Cavill playing a more optimistic and inspiring Superman – What this means is not necessarily Cavill copying the way Christopher Reeve memorably portrayed the caped icon in the 1978 movie. Rather it’s more about the British actor making Superman his own but without the darkness, without the grit and without the depressing stuff of Man of Steel and Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. With the right script and right direction, I believe Cavill can make Superman inspiring and believable for moviegoers similar to how Gal Gadot and Jason Momoa produced results with Wonder Woman and Aquaman respectively. When it comes to delivering humor, I prefer to see members of the supporting cast to do it and let Cavill play the superhero straight.
    2. Maintain the brutal action (but no neck-breaking)  – This one requires having the right director and creative team. While Man of Steel’s cinematic tone was not ideal for most moviegoers, I still loved that film’s brutal action involving Superman and there is nothing like watching invulnerable characters hit each other, crash through walls and causing collateral damage. In a sequel, I’d like to see brutal action again but with key limits: toning down somewhat the collateral damage (way excessive in Man of Steel) and no neck-breaking. However the filmmakers will plan the action scenes, they should pay close attention to what has been presented in the comic books of the past twenty-five years.
    3. Bring back Doomsday – OK. This one could be divisive. A lot of geeks I encountered felt that the filmmakers brought Doomsday to the big screen way too early in the current DC Comics cinematic universe as he appeared in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Doomsday’s appearance in one of the movie trailers already generated a lot of speculation that Superman would be killed on the big screen given the literary history that the monster did just that in Superman #75 in the 1990s. For the Man of Steel sequel, I feel that Doomsday can be used to give the caped icon a major physical challenge. I can imagine that Superman, remembering what Doomsday did to him in the 2016 movie, will be more cautious on fighting the monster while at the same time ensure that civilians won’t be harmed along the way. That being said, I don’t think Doomsday needs to be the main antagonist which brings me to my next point…
    4. Have Lex Luthor and Brainiac as the main villains – These two villains I would love to see on the big screen working on a scheme to overwhelm Superman and the people of Metropolis. This is also an opportunity for actor Jesse Eisenberg to play Luthor in a more focused way that would resemble how the villain really thinks and acts in the comics. As for Brainiac, I can imagine him in his classic green-skinned human form laced with cybernetics and he can use technology to not only hurt Superman but also cause chaos on the world. With Luthor and Brainiac as the top schemers backed with Doomsday as their muscle, Superman will surely have his hands full and he will need the help of some allies from Metropolis.
    5. James Wan should be the director – Considering the success and impressive presentation of the Aquaman movie, I feel that James Wan should be hired for the Man of Steel sequel. I know this might sound like a rushed idea but in my experience watching Aquaman twice in the cinemas, Wan and his team delivered the big-time spectacle (lots of thrills and action), handled the large cast who delivered solid performances and told the story with a moderate-to-fast pace (not a single boring moment). Remember the interactions between Aquaman and Mera? There was really nice chemistry between Jason Momoa and Amber Heard. As such, I believe Wan has what it takes to make Henry Cavill and Amy Adam click more positively (and with romantic comedy) on the big screen as Clark Kent/Superman and Lois Lane.
    6. Colorful visuals – As the DC Comics cinematic universe is moving forward under the watch of Walter Hamada, it is obvious that moviegoers have a preference for colorful visuals when it comes to superhero movies. Look at the movie Aquaman. Its visuals are very lively with colors combined with fantastic art by the filmmakers. Look at the Themyscira scenes in the Wonder Woman movie of 2017. They literally are so wonderful to the eyes. Going back to Superman, a new movie for the icon must be in full color. No more color desaturation (decoloring)!

Those are my ideas about what I’d like to see in a future Man of Steel sequel. The DC Comics cinematic universe we have right now is moving forward and clearly the Wonder Woman and Aquaman movies respectively have the correct formulas to succeed with movie critics and moviegoers. Considering his iconic status, Superman deserves much better and so do the fans and all other people who are willing to pay good movie to watch him in the cinemas and have fun. I am appealing to the executives of Warner Bros. to make the best and most optimistic Superman movie they can with Henry Cavill.

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