The Superman we finally deserve

They cracked the code, my friends. They finally have made a Superman movie that pays homage to the most classic of super heroes.  They finally made Superman right, making him a compelling character through an entertaining movie.

As a comics fan, Superman is a tough book to read (and I can only imagine writing him must be just as difficult).  Here you have a character from another time.  Many things don’t hold up well after 75 years, and at times Superman is hard.  Despite multiple reboots, modernizing of origins, various weaknesses introduced: most writers aren’t able to make Supes a compelling character in the 21st century.

I was too young to watch the Christopher Reeve Superman movies, so my first cinematic exposure to the Man of Steel was in Superman Returns in 2006: an awkward movie that seemed like it was paying homage to those 80’s movies rather than defining the next chapter. A reboot was all but necessary.

This movie accomplished what it needed to: make this invulnerable Boy Scout of a super hero relatable to use us mere mortals. They went ahead and leaned on two excellent angles: seeking purpose in your life, as most of us at one point or another have figuratively wandered around asking “why am I here?”. The second angle was the “father and son” angle, the sacrifices made by both his biological and adoptive father. A line that tugged at my heartstrings when Kevin Costner told young Clark Kent “You are my son”. I wasn’t adopted, but I can imagine the empathy that could have been felt during that conversation.

I realize that people were bothered by the gratuitous level of destruction, but given that you’re dealing with someone who is extremely powerful and invulnerable, the stakes of danger need to be pretty high. Even though I’m not a fan of destruction for destruction’s stake, I’ll give the writers a pass on this.

Overall, this movie has won over the casual comics fan, and perhaps even the casual fan into the DC movie universe, accomplishing something that Green Lantern wasn’t able to do. I do however remain skeptical that an Avengers-like Justice League movie will be able to happen. Even though it sort-of works in the comics, I don’t see Superman and Batman being able to exist in the same cinematic universe. Batman is my favorite super hero, but I don’t see him being able to stand up to this version of General Zod. I realize that a different version of Batman is going to exist in this Justice League version, but it’s going to have to be a pretty stark departure from Christopher Nolan’s interpretation.

A few other random thoughts:

  • Amy Adams was a great Lois Lane. Lois Lane is one of those characters that has a tough time holding up: from damsel in the wrong place at the wrong time, but rather someone who is capable who can help Superman out as well
  • I loved the depiction of the origin story, the jumping around during Clark’s first thirty years and giving relevant glimpses, rather than the standard chronological format that’s been done so many times before
  • I hate to sound insensitive, but I guess we’re officially far away from 9/11 that aircraft flying buildings (or buildings just collapsing) is now acceptable. It’s not just this movie, it happened in Star Trek as well. I’m not sure what the Man of Steel folks were thinking, but seeing Lawrence Fishburne running away from a collapsing was pretty chilling.

What did you think of the movie? Would you want to see a sequel? Are you bought into the DC Universe?

Star Trek: Into Cannon Darkness

Warning: Spoilers Ahead


As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a big closet Star Trek fan, but with the baby on the way it took a little more than a week to get into theaters and fulfill my Trekie obligation of seeing Into Darkness.  I left the movie mostly satisfied, but came to a realization: this movie is really tied down by mythos and cannon, and it definitely got in the way of the story.

I’ll admit that I was pretty excited to think that they were going to do a “Khan” story. I have a soft spot in my heart for “alternate histories” (a la the Age of Apocalypse, the New 52, or even Yesterday’s Enterprise), and I thought it would be interesting to see how Khan would be developed in this post-Vulcan Trek universe.  However it became pretty apparent that in the writers room went something like this:

“Ok, we’re going to remake the Wrath of Khan.”

“Wait a minute, who said we were going to remake the movie? I thought that we were telling a new story!”

“No, we are, but people expect to see Wrath of Kahn, so I made this list of nostalgic things from the Wrath of Khan that we need to see in this movie.  Let’s put these things in the movie – this is where we want to end up. Now figure out how we get there.”


I’m sure the remake checklist had the following items in it:

  • Someone needs to scream “KHHAAAAAAN!”
  • Spock Kirk needs to die, let’s get in the “needs of the many” line
    • In fact, let’s make sure the death involves getting the mains back on line
    • Also let’s get Scotty there talking about radiation flooding
  • Lets get 2 Marcus’ in there: Carol and preferably the son, but if the son’s not available – then her dad.
  • Don’t forget Section 31, because they weren’t so secret after all.

They started there, then filled in the blanks to round out the story, counting how many times they can wink to the audience with mentions of Harry Mudd and Tribbles.

Look, I appreciate the callbacks.  The older (and more married) I get, the less opportunities I have to watch Star Trek, so I love opportunities to geek out. That said: you can talk about “a reboot” all you want, but Star Trek now has even more baggage than ever.  At least before they had to worry about the mythos and history of Trek, but now they need to figure out how they can recycle the same stories and keep the interest of all the Trekies.  You’re letting it get in the way of good story-telling, and before you know it you’ll accomplish the very thing you wanted to avoid with a reboot – alienating casual fans. Right now I’m dreading the “Genesis” references that the next movie will bring.

Trek writers & producers: please don’t worry about ruining my childhood. Through Netflix and my DVD collection, I can go relive those moments when I yearn for nostalgic Trek. Instead, just write a good story. Use some or even no past Trek characters, but if you’re looking for somewhere to begin: start with a compelling villain.

Green Lantern

Continuing my summer of Super Hero movies I wanted to offer a few thoughts on DC’s effort to counter Marvel’s series of Avengers prequels, with Green Lantern.


I grew up a Marvel guy while dabbling a bit in the Batman books, but I never really got into Green Lantern until the Kyle Rayner era.  I grew to really like Rayner, to the point that I despised the decision to bring Hal Jordan back as the main Green Lantern – so I have a had time with this character to begin with. That said, the writing going on in the Green Lantern books is amongst the best in comics right now, and I’m really enjoying the storyline.

Caution: Spoilers Ahead

I went into this movie with pretty low expectations. I think it was one of the few movies where each time I saw the previews I wanted to see it less. I’m not a big Ryan Reynolds fan, but I don’t dislike him – and I know my wife likes seeing him in movies. I was pretty leery of the CGI-suit, as well as how all of the aliens would be portrayed in the movie.

Walking out of the movie, it about lived up to my quasi-low expectations.  I didn’t hate it, but on the heels of seeing X-men First Class – which had a pretty adult storyline – Green Lantern really came off cheesy.  The dialog was pretty poor, there were a lot of mischaracterizations and characters who were pretty rich in the comics became very one-dimensional.  This movie is almost like a meal where you have all of the right ingredients, but screw up the amounts so that you’re tasting the wrong things in your dish – that was Green Lantern.

I loved seeing Oa (the Green Lantern planet) and loved the training sequences, but felt like that whole movie was way to short.  I wanted them to spend more time with the Corp, more time with some of the other strong and developed characters (namely Sinestro).  The storyline was inconsistent how they painted the picture of the Green Lantern Corp, but when it came time to take on Parallax, all of the Lanterns were conspicuously missing.

The worst part was at the end (after the credits), when they had Sinestro putting on the yellow ring. Here was a character, while very well developed off-screen (and partially from my comic knowledge), had no real attachment with the audience and yet was somehow supposed to draw a surprise reaction by putting on this yellow ring. I felt like the director at that point was like “Crap, I don’t think we’re going to get a sequel on merit alone, we better put in some kind of tease.”

One thing that came to mind while reflecting on this movie: what if I’m not the target audience.  More and more we saw Super Hero movies that have very adult themes: like The Dark Night and X-men First Class. However, what happens when you see this movie through the eyes of a young teenager or tween?  All of the sudden the dialog doesn’t seem as cheesy.  Given that aside from some freaky scientist mutations, there really wasn’t a lot of adult content, and the love interest between Hal Jordan and Blake Lively’s character didn’t really get too steamy or complicated. Maybe this movie, similar to Star Wars, was targeted towards a younger audience.

Right now this movie would probably fit at the bottom of the “2011 Super Hero Summer” list, below Thor and X-men First Class.  I’m anxious for Captain America to come out later this month, at which point would be a good time to update the Top 10 Superhero Movie list I wrote in 2005.

What did you think of Green Lantern?

X-men First Class

After taking a few days off from the Ireland blogging, I took the time to get caught up with a few things here – as well as getting caught up on the summer super hero blockbusters by seeing X-men First Class. I was a little nervous about sitting in a dark theater while recovering from a 7-hour jet lag, but I chanced it and was successful.


In case you didn’t know: I’m a comic geek, and the X-men – my first love – extends to our cat named Logan. Unfortunately the last chapter of the X-men movie really ruined that franchise, to the point to where they couldn’t make any more sequels.  I’m not quite sure how X-men First Class fits into all of this. Is it a prequel, or is it a franchise reboot. Nonetheless it rectifies the monstrosity that was X-men 3 and brings this franchise somewhat back.

[Warning: Possible Spoilers Ahead]

Of all of the comic movies,X-men has the ability to venture into some political and philosophical discussion – how do people deal with persecution and prejudice. The battle between the ideals of Xavier and Magneto have always been intriguing, and I love how this movie explored their friendship, their commonalities, and how their falling out occurred. I love that the movie used the backdrop of the Cuban Missile Crisis as the foundation of this movie.  The Missile Crisis is one of the few times in our history when we humanity (from a US point-of-view) was genuinely threatened, and it gave the X-men a plausible way to save the world. I love how the US and Soviets – enemies that only minutes ago tried to destroy each other – agreed that mutants were so threatening that they had to band together to take the mutants out.

Other things I loved about First Class:

  • One of the best training montages in a super hero movie.  One could make an argument for Batman Begins, but I love how Xavier helped each one of the students develop their powers and learn how to grow their abilities.
  • The performances by James McAvoy as Professor X and Michael Fassbender as Magneto. These guys did a wonderful job playing young versions of these characters without trying to look like caricatures of Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan.
  • Young Nazi-killer Magneto was badass
  • During the movie, my wife Bethany pointed out that Michael Fassbender looked like a younger Jon Hamm.
  • I loved the imagery that was used with the “Magneto” helmet.  It of course had the very practical use of blocking telepathy, but I loved how it served as the mantle of the leader of the mutant superiority movement. That moment with Magneto put on the helmet had a Darth Vader-like approach of embracing the villainy
  • I really liked Kevin Bacon’s acting in this movie, he made a pretty good villain
  • That cameo with Wolverine was fantastic

Things That Bothered Me About First Class:

  • I didn’t like how Mystique turned out at the end. The dots that brought her to Magneto’s side didn’t connect, and especially the timing of her turning was bizarre. Somehow we were expected to believe that she would walk over the crippled body of (essentially) her brother over to the guy who caused the incident. I don’t know if the writers felt compelled to have her switch sides by the end of the movie, but I felt like people would have accepted a switch in the sequel or even off-screen.
  • The Hellfire Club was a little misused and came across a little one-dimensional. In the comics they were originally this secret society, but the movie portrayed them as this hodge-podge group of super villains.
  • Some of the choices they made for characters were a little strange. There are definitely better mutants out there that could have been used rather than Angel and Darwin (who ultimately were really one-dimensional).  This comes down to whether this was a prequel or a reboot. I wish it would have been a reboot, because then you could have gotten away with using some characters that were used in other movies.

It’ll be interesting to see where the X-men franchise goes from here. Part of me wishes they didn’t pack so much into this movie and reserved it for a sequel. My guess is that this movie has been acclaimed enough and has made enough money to continue down this story, so now the question is “Where do they go here from now?”. Do they introduce new characters, and do they introduce the ones we know?  How does this tie into the previous movie canon and the Wolverine movie?  I would love them to take the “Reboot” route that was done with Star Trek, then they could introduce some of the stronger characters that we grew to love in previous movies.

What do you think of this movie?  Where do you think it compares with the other movies? Not counting the Wolverine movie, I would say that this movie probably is second to X2, beating out the first first movie (all of which are miles above X3).

Looks like this is 24’s last season

The writing has been on the wall, but it seems that in the next few days we’ll learn what has been too evident: that 24 is going to be taken out back.


From Variety:

“24‘s time is almost up. 20th Century Fox TV and Fox appear ready to end the long-running hit after this season, the show’s eighth. Studio and network execs declined comment — but it’s believed that the final decision will be made in the next day or two. Move is not a huge surprise, but still reps the end of an era for Fox.”

I can’t way I’m too terribly surprised.  I was a late-coming onto 24 and didn’t watch my first “live” season until Season 4, but there was a time when my friends and I had “24 Night”, where we planned out evenings around watching this show together.  We were going strong for a few years, but then the abomination that was Season 6 hit, followed by a writers strike that took the show off the air for a year.

The next thing you know, we’re not only not having 24 night together, but many of us aren’t even watching the show the same evening it airs.  Bethany and I just finished the previous week’s episode nearly a week after it aired, this is how low it’s fallen on our totem pole of TV shows.

24, you were a great show, but you fell victim to the same stale, recycled plotline that occurs year after year.  Now it’s become Willie Mayes dropping fly balls in the outfield.  Thanks for the memories 24, but I do think it’s time you’re put out to pasture.