Monday, July 25, 2016

Captain Fanboy on Wonder Woman, Justice League, and Dr. Strange trailers, plus Iron Man 2


When I heard DC was going to set Wonder Woman's origin in World War I, I thought it was a silly change done just to make it different from the Captain America movie.

But after seeing the trailer, I realized the change is brilliant for two reasons:

1. Wonder Woman's purpose is to end war—she should be there for the first world war.

2. Wonder Woman's role is to be a hero for women and men who love women—she should be there during the first wave of feminism.

Also, I love the look of the period.

Their take on Steve Trevor and Etta Candy appears to be damn fine. I'm not crazy about the current interpretation of Wonder Woman as a warrior—I prefer the classic Wonder Woman who relies on her wits, physical perfection, and the advanced science of Paradise Island—but my expectations for this movie have soared dangerously high.


I've seen very few of the DC superhero movies because the movie people seem to think we want grim, and while grim superheroes were an interesting thing to do when Alan Moore and Frank Miller experimented with them, ultimately, grim superheroes are stupid because superheroes call for more suspension of disbelief than any other genre, including funny animals.

Why, you ask? Because funny animals have their own universes where they make sense in that universe's terms, but most superheroes are supposed to exist in our real world. Most fantasy and science fiction set in the real world has one change—time travel is possible, vampires are real, etc. But superhero movies have to rationalize things like why Batman dresses up in a suit and beats up petty criminals instead of promoting something like Basic Income to make a world where no one turns to crime out of desperation. Mind you, I'm not knocking superhero stories—I just think any attempt to make them "realistic" is misguided. This doesn't mean I think they should be silly. It means I think that in general, Marvel found the approach I want for superhero movies and DC has not, so far.

Like the Wonder Woman trailer, the Justice League trailer suggests DC finally figured it out. Part of me is sorry they're not connecting their movie and TV universes, but I completely understand the commercial needs at work, and this version of the Flash looks like fun. This Aquaman seems more like Marvel's Submariner, but I forgive that, and I feel a bit prescient for having said a few years back that a rebooted Aquaman should look vaguely like a Pacific Islander. There isn't much Cyborg in this, but he appears solid. I find myself really liking Affleck's Batman. I'm kind of hoping Superman doesn't show up in the first Justice League movie, but I'm sure he will.


I didn't want Benedict Cumberbatch to be Dr. Strange, not because I don't love his Sherlock (I do), but because there are so many fine actors who would do great jobs. Casting him seemed like blatant fan service. But once he was cast, I knew he would do a damn fine job, and the trailer confirms that.

Ideological antiracists are desperately seeking a reason to hate this movie. I would've cast Michelle Yeoh as the Ancient One, but there's nothing wrong with the choice of the androgynous Tilda Swinton as the head of an international mystic order. The silliest complaint I've seen so far was by someone who claimed that the movie calls Tibetans savages, even though anyone with half a brain should be able to see the line is a joke at the expense of the white guy.


I heard the second Iron Man movie was mediocre, so I never got around to seeing it until last night. When it started, I saw its running time was 2 hours and 4 minutes, so I turned to Emma and said, "It's fifteen minutes too long." I was right; simply trimming fifteen minutes would've made it a better forgettable movie. But it wouldn't fix how incompetent the storytelling is. The industrialist villain is painful to watch, and the reveal of the Black Widow is boring—we shouldn't have found out who she was until she went into action. It felt like Agent Coulson was stuck in to promote Marvel's next movie, and Nick Fury's only job is to tell Stark about his daddy. The script needed one more pass before shooting began. The only virtues are amusing bits by Downey and a short fight scene with the Black Widow.

The trailer and this Black Widow action clip are all you need to see if you like Marvel superhero movies but aren't obsessive about seeing every single one:


Captain Fanboy's ratings:

Iron Man movie: C-. The grade is harsher because the first Iron Man was solid work—without that, I might've given this a C+—but there's no excuse for getting it right, then falling so far.

Dr. Strange trailer: A-. I'm not convinced the movie is going to be great, but I'm convinced it might be.

Justice League: A. The movie may not live up to the trailer, but all the things in the trailer make me want to see more.

Wonder Woman trailer: All the As in the world. Please, DC, don't stumble.