Marvel has Earth’s Mightiest Heroes in the Avengers, but DC has the Trinity — arguably, the three most important and popular comic book heroes in comic book history.
Superman (Henry Cavill), Batman (Ben Affleck), and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) — who made an appearance in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice finally join forces with Flash (Ezra Miller), Aquaman (Jason Momoa), and Cyborg (Ray Fisher) to fight cosmic invaders in an action-packed but fluffy movie that ultimately fails to shoulder the momentum of this year’s breakout Wonder Woman film.
With the world in turmoil after Superman’s death, fear has risen to new heights. Who will protect Earth from the incoming alien forces being called by the powerful Mother Boxes?
It’s up to Batman to find out. Traveling the globe as Batman and Bruce Wayne, the Dark Knight hopes to build a superteam to stop the extra-terrestrial Steppenwolf (voiced by Ciarán Hinds) from collecting the boxes into one construct that will redesign Earth into a fiery landscape more fitting for his kind.
Thor Odinson (Chris Hemsworth) tries to stop the end of the world in Thor: Ragnarok, a conflicted mess of a film that showcases some of the best that Marvel Studios has to offer along with some of their cringiest.
If you’ve seen the trailers, you have the main gist of it all — Hela (Cate Blanchett), the goddess of death, has come to take her place on the throne of Asgard after Odin’s death releases her from the prison his life-force created.
As Odin’s firstborn, she is the strongest of his children, and she makes her mark within moments by destroying Mjolnir and sending Thor and Loki (Tom Hiddleston) into retreat. As the brothers attempt to teleport back to their homeworld with the help of the Bifröst Bridge, Hela follows them and send them off course.
Hela appears in Asgard, where her claim to the throne hits deaf ears — that’s what happens when an entire era’s history is wiped away or covered up. Viewed as an invading force, Asgard’s army tries to hold her at bay but fails miserably against Odin’s strongest child.
Marvel Studios brought home a big prize back in 2015 when they announced they had partnered with Sony Pictures to bring Spider-Man into the MCU. The Internet broke, and hope was renewed that Marvel could one day bring back other franchises sold off to other studios during a time of financial crisis.
As celebration turned into speculation, Marvel explained they weren’t going to explore Spider-Man’s origin story and that his introduction would come in Captain America: Civil War. The cameo was stellar, and the hype for Homecoming (the title, not so much) went through the roof.
The single best decision for the movie was the exclusion of an origin story — which would have made it the third retelling in 15 years. Spider-Man: Homecoming arrives ready to go, and he’s a bit more evolved than any previous version’s first single-movie appearance.
The first Guardians of the Galaxy was a huge success for Marvel, and I’m not just talking about box office receipts.
Naysayers worried about “the big risk” of making a movie with a talking raccoon and his companion, a talking tree with only one scripted line. It was the comic-book movie projected it to fail — a potentially huge failure to launch that had Hollywood analysts holding their heads in fear of the impending collapse of Marvel Studios’ cinematic universe.
But Guardians of the Galaxy soared despite being one of Marvel’s lesser-known comic book titles, and viewers were treated to the best Star Wars movie of this generation (Rogue One included). That raccoon and talking tree became the talk of the town, and merchandise sales added more to Disney’s coffers. A sequel was inevitable — failure, or no — and thanks to the successes of the first, the onus to get audiences to buy in has been tabled and replaced with the freedom to build up and off characters, settings, and major threats.
Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2 kicks off just as Peter Quill, aka Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), and company get ready to fulfill their latest job — inter-dimensional pest-control. Buoyed by their success in taking out Rohan the Accuser, the team has become the go-to group for solving galaxy-sized problems.
In the world of comics, Wonder Woman is no throw-away hero.
First appearing in comics in 1941, Wonder Woman was created by William Moulton Marston, a psychologist who helped invent the polygraph. Marston believed comics had incredible potential in terms of educating children, and he wanted to create a hero with a modus operandi that set him apart from his contemporaries — a hero who would conquer with love.
It was Marston’s wife Elizabeth who said the character should be female, and Marston based Wonder Woman’s physical appearance on his student and other significant other, Olive Byrne.
The rest is history. As part of DC’s famed Trinity, Wonder Woman is on par with Superman and Batman in terms of ability, leadership, and respect. Her comic has been continuously published for more than seven decades — minus a four-month absence — and she just celebrated her 75th anniversary.
So, it’s actually a wonder that it so long for Warner Bros. and DC to bring her to the silver screen. She first appeared in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, and I thought she was by far the best thing about the movie. Now, in her first solo outing, Wonder Woman gets her chance to show the cinematic world that she deserves her place amongst the World’s Finest.
While the X-Men movies have basically been Wolverine-centric, it was X-Men Origins: Wolverine that featured the first onscreen appearance of the Merc With a Mouth — Deadpool — who eventually got his own solo movie that made a strong case for R-rated comic-book flicks.
Studios have traditionally shied away from restricting comic-book movies to adults because of financial reasons — toys, merchandise, and a larger audience filled with teens and children.
Which is, by James Mangold’s admission, why The Wolverine ended so badly — Logan fights a robot samurai and loses his claws, which somehow grow back.
Anyways, for what it’s worth, The Wolverine was better than Origins — though that’s not saying much. Origins was incredibly bad, and if I had to sit through it, I’d want the leaked version stripped of its special effects for educational reasons.
Batman’s foes have an existential crisis in his latest outing, The LEGO Batman Movie.
Kicking off with an amazing 10-minute song-and-punch introduction, the LEGO Batman Movie not only features a bevy of villains, known and obscure — Crazy Quilt and Killer Moth! — the movie also treads into interesting meta territory.
After Batman saves another day in Gotham City, he drops a bombshell on the Joker — the Dark Knight doesn’t think the Clown Prince of Crime is his greatest foe.
Teary-eyed, the devastated supervillain escapes and begins work on a new plan to get Batman’s attention.
Meanwhile, Bruce Wayne finds himself torn against a potential love interest and a new commissioner who sees Batman as a problem. Between bouts of love and anger at Commissioner Barbara Gordon’s new plans for the city, Bruce agrees to adopt the orphan Dick Grayson.
At last, the release of Suicide Squad — the movie at the top of my must-see list for 2016.
The first trailer previewed a rogues gallery of misfits — awesome and not — who become forced into some good ol’ fashioned do-goodery. The preview had a bit of humor, our first look at Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, and a shot of Batman hanging from the roof of a speeding getaway car.
The latest trailers gave us more of the same, but it was the delivery — they played like the best fan-made music videos. A helicopter launching flares as Brian May goes into full swing for his guitar solo in Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, or Sweet’s high-charged Ballroom Blitz in step with shots of pure kinetic energy.
Unfortunately, we’ve come into a golden age of trailers, where companies can cherry pick the best visuals, break open the plot, and piece together a TLDR version that can make a bad movie look good.
Somehow, people were tricked into seeing Fantastic Four — and half of the scenes in the trailer weren’t even in the movie!
On the strength of its casting, premise and top notch trailers — rumor has it, the final cut of the movie was completed by Trailer Park, the company that created the previews — Suicide Squad topped even Rogue One on the “Want to See” list, but no amount of editing could save a movie with a circular kind of logic that is a means and end to itself in all of the worst ways.
After Days of Future Past effectively rebooted the entire series by rewriting the future, the series comes full circle by bringing back a bunch of familiar superpowers in teenage form — Cyclops, Jean Grey, Angel, Nightcrawler, and Storm.
X-Men: Apocalypse trailers begged answers for the questions: Who will join the mutant megalomaniac En Sabah Nur? Who will fight to stop him?
After seeing the movie, I’m prepared to answer those questions with another: Who cares?
X-Men: Apocalypse contains everything terrible about the X-Men movies, turns all of the good into a routine exercise, and spins its way to an anti-climactic finish for the second worst entry in the entire franchise.
Talk about being a shell of its former self — you would think Bryan Singer had hit his stride after releasing back to back critical darlings X-Men: First Class and the aforementioned DoFP.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was supposed to compete directly with Captain America: Civil War by releasing on the same day, but Warner Bros. decided — wisely — that more money was to be made without forcing audiences to choose between two huge tentpoles.
But both studios knew their movies would be compared ad nauseum — each containing a similar premise where its lead titans would wage war against each other. DC, owning the most famous and more established comic book properties in Superman and Batman, still had a bit more of an uphill climb gearing up for its cinematic universe while Marvel looked forward to continuing its runoff to a climactic Infinity War one-two punch that begins in 2018 — ten years after Iron Man kicked off Phase One.
And it’s clear, after having seen Civil War, that my preference is Marvel’s movie. Not that I have to choose — one can be a fan of both comic movies and companies just like one can be a fan of Warner Bros., Universal Studios, and 20th Century Fox. I love both Guardians of the Galaxy and The Dark Knight without feeling the need to draw lines from one to the other.