Saturday, August 5, 2017

Suicide Squad Anniversary Special

This episode of the Justice League Universe podcast features some final thoughts about Suicide Squad, directed by David Ayer, and then we answer a series of questions from listeners, covering the future of the DCEU, the history of the podcast, and other topics like comics and television.

Contributors: @ottensam @raveryn @wondersyd @NBego @derbykid

@JLUPodcast on Twitter

Listen to our prior anniversary special for Batman v Superman: 

Friday, August 4, 2017

JLU Scene-by-Scene: Suicide Squad Scenes 44-45

This episode of the Justice League Universe podcast closes out our analysis of Suicide Squad, written and directed by David Ayer. It includes Rick Flag saving June Moon and the denouement with the squad back at Belle Reve.

  • Rick Flag and June Moon are reunited
  • Waller is still alive and negotiates with the squad
  • Zoe and Floyd love each other
  • Things have changed at Belle Reve
  • The Joker breaks in to break Harley out
  • Amanda Waller and Bruce Wayne compete in league formation

Contributors: @ottensam @raveryn @NBego


Wednesday, August 2, 2017

JLU Scene-by-Scene: Suicide Squad Scenes 42-43

This episode of the Justice League Universe podcast focuses on Scene 42 (battling Incubus) and Scene 43 (battling Enchantress) of Suicide Squad, written and directed by David Ayer.

  • Diablo meeting Enchantress
  • Diablo's people, his new family
  • Incubus, the unsurprising surprise
  • Killer Croc below and Katana saving Boomerang
  • Diablo shows who he really is
  • Minor editing critiques
  • Diablo and GQ sacrifices
  • Enchantress reverts to her smokey form
  • Final fight in the fog
  • Harley Quinn's con
  • Hate turns to love
Contributors: @ottensam @raveryn @NBego

Available on YouTube: 


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

JLU Scene-by-Scene: Wonder Woman Scenes 8-9

This episode of the Justice League Universe podcast focuses on Wonder Woman, directed by Patty Jenkins. We cover scene 8 (Diana and Steve's dialogue on the beach) and scene 9 (battle on the beach).

  • Blockbuster movie formula - inciting incident
  • Angelic imagery of Diana
  • Diana's first encounter with a real man
  • Heinberg on The Little Mermaid
  • The simplicity of good guys and bad guys
  • Battle on the beach, Amazon cavalry
  • Patty Jenkins' use of slo-mo
  • Hippolyta and Antiope in the fight
  • Antiope dies, her relationship with Menalippe
  • Diana's grieving
  • Amazonian clothing

Contributors: @ottensam @raveryn @derbykid @wondersyd
American Cinematographer:  


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

JUSTICE LEAGUE Comic-Con Sneak Peek Reaction

Jason Book and I share what we consider to be the best aspects of the Justice League (Warner Bros., directed by Zack Snyder) sneak peek footage that was released at Comic-Con.

We touch on the tone, visual style, Jack Kirby inspiration, characters, themes, and more, including a comparison to the art of Frazetta. The video closes with a list of interesting questions raised by the clip.

Here is the official footage from Warner Brothers:

Monday, July 24, 2017

JLU Scene-by-Scene: Suicide Squad Scenes 39-41

This episode of the Justice League Universe podcast focuses on Suicide Squad, scene 39 (the squad's strut down the street), scene 40 (preparing for the final showdown), and scene 41 (visions from Enchantress).

  • The Squad's epic strutting
  • Killer Croc going with the SEALs
  • Katana and her husband's soul
  • Boomerang and Katana
  • Visions from Enchantress
  • Deadshot kills Batman, Harley and Joker domesticized, Flag and June, Diablo owns his past
  • Poor editing

Contributors: @ottensam @raveryn @NBego


Thursday, July 20, 2017

JLU Scene-by-Scene: Suicide Squad Scenes 35-38

This episode of the Justice League Universe podcast focuses on Suicide Squad, scene 35 (Harley reunited with the Squad), scene 36 (Enchantress reunited with her heart), scene 37 (Deadshot finding the binder), and scene 38 (the bar scene).

  • Harley in the rain and a crack in her facade
  • The team accepts Harley back, no questions asked
  • Enchantress and Waller, tables turned
  • Deadshot and the squad learn that Waller and Flag are behind the crisis
  • The squad follows Deadshot into the bar
  • Honor among thieves
  • Diablo's backstory and Harley's tough love
  • Flag opens up and releases his leverage
  • The squad's true formation
Contributors: @ottensam @raveryn @NBego


Monday, July 17, 2017

JLU Scene-by-Scene: Wonder Woman Scene 7

This episode of the Justice League Universe podcast focuses on Scene 7 of Wonder Woman, which is Diana's diving rescue of Steve Trevor.

  • Remarks about last WW episode
  • Diana's training outfit
  • The first time she turns her face toward the sky
  • Diana's dive
  • Steve Trevor (Chris Pine)
  • Diana rescuing Steve, Angel imagery
  • Musical cue with the new Diana theme
  • The Germans finding the island
  • Garden of Eden
Contributors: @ottensam @raveryn @derbykid @wondersyd


Thursday, July 13, 2017

JLU Scene-by-Scene: Suicide Squad Scenes 31-34

This episode of the Justice League Universe podcast focuses on Suicide Squad, scene 31 (the Waller twist), scene 32 (shootout with the Joker), scene 33 (Harley and Joker reunited), and scene 34 (Waller gets captured).

  • Twist - it's Waller!
  • Waller's excitement over Enchantress's army
  • The Joker arrives and Harley is rescued
  • Deadshot makes a choice - friends over leverage
  • The Joker and Harley reunited (briefly)
  • Waller gets another helo and gets captured

Contributors: @ottensam @raveryn @NBego

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The Future of the Warner Brothers' DCEU

Jason Book and I discuss the potential slate of movies post-Aquaman in the DCEU Justice League Universe from Warner Brothers.

We touch on the following films:
The Flash
Gotham City Sirens
The Batman
Suicide Squad 2

Wonder Woman 2
Man of Steel 2
Green Lantern Corp

Justice League Dark
Shazam/Black Adam

Just for pure fun, below is my rough prediction of the DCEU order of release:

Monday, July 10, 2017

JLU Scene-by-Scene: Suicide Squad Scenes 28-30

This episode of the Justice League Universe podcast focuses on Suicide Squad, Scene 28 (Harley in the elevator), Scene 29 (Ostrander office building fight), and Scene 30 (Harley's flashback acid bath).

  • Enchantress dancing (revisited)
  • Harley on the elevator
  • Bruce Timm comments on Harley unpredictability
  • Harley hotpants
  • Critique of editing for the office fight
  • El Diablo finally unleashes
  • Harley and Joker acid bath

Contributors: @ottensam @raveryn @NBego

Bruce Timm -
Reedited Harley and Joker scene -
50 Things Good About BvS -

Monday, July 3, 2017

Review of BATMAN 25: Jokes and Riddles Part 1

Jason Book and I discuss issue #25 of Batman (DC Comics), by Tom King, Mikel Janin, and June Chung. This is part one of the "War of Jokes and Riddles" story arc.

Overall, we thought this was a very effective kick-off to the story and it has the potential to be a modern classic in terms of the Riddler character. We also like the narrative structure tying the current events of Bruce and Selina with these past events that took place after Zero Year in Scott Snyder's run on Batman.

JLU Scene-by-Scene: Wonder Woman Scenes 5-6

This episode of the Justice League Universe podcast focuses on scene 5 (adolescent Diana training) and scene 6 (adult Diana training and the bracelet blast) of Wonder Woman, starring Gal Gadot and directed by Patty Jenkins.

  • Revisiting the gods on Mount Olympus
  • Legends of the Amazons
  • Diana at "age 12"
  • Diana not being allowed to speak
  • Hippolyta and Antiope's debate
  • Adult training - foreshadowing of future events
  • Things aren't fair
  • Gal Gadot's first appearance on Themyscira
  • Bracelet (aka gauntlet, aka vambrace) blast
  • How did our anticipations for the film hold up in hindsight?
CONTRIBUTORS: @ottensam @raveryn @derbykid @wondersyd

MoS as birth of Superman:

<Transcript below>

Thursday, June 29, 2017

JLU Scene-by-Scene: Suicide Squad Scenes 26-27

This episode of the Justice League Universe podcast focuses on Scene 26 (Enchantress converting the Bravo team into Eyes of the Adversary) and Scene 27 (approaching the Ostrander building) of Suicide Squad, directed by David Ayer.

  • The squad still follows Flag's orders
  • Checking in on Bravo team
  • Enchantress's kiss and the Eyes of the Adversary
  • Harley's smash and grab
  • Deadshot's reminder of his daughter
  • John F. Ostrander Federal Building
  • Awkward editing
  • Amanda Waller as the unknown objective
  • DCEU thoughts about gods and saving humanity

Contributors: @ottensam @raveryn @NBego

<Transcript below>

Monday, June 26, 2017

JLU Scene-by-Scene: Wonder Woman Scenes 3-4

This episode of the Justice League Universe podcast focuses on Scene 3 (Mount Olympus history lesson) and Scene 4 (gifts of the gods) of Wonder Woman, directed by Patty Jenkins.

  • Diana's bedroom
  • Hippolyta and the merits of fighting and war
  • History lesson -- the Greek Gods
  • Ares and Zeus (but no goddesses)
  • George Perez Gods and Mortals
  • Musical hints of Superman
  • Diana begins her training
  • Many gifts from the Gods

Contributors: @ottensam @raveryn @derbykid @wondersyd

Myth of redemptive violence:
Lakoff paternal vs. maternal:

<Transcript below>

Monday, June 19, 2017

Superhero Origin Films: Box Office Performance

Wonder Woman, directed by Patty Jenkins, has been making headlines not only because of its domestic opening over $100 Million, but also because of its astoundingly good performance in subsequent weekends. Rather than the typical superhero drop of 55-70% for the second weekend (because superhero fans often come out in hordes on opening weekend), Wonder Woman fell only 43%!!! This speaks to positive word-of-mouth and also a general appeal to all ages and to people who don't always come out for superhero movies. Throughout the weekdays, Wonder Woman was also consistently surpassing previous hit superhero films, and now its third weekend posted a mere 30% decline. This is incredible staying power on the domestic side, boosted somewhat by Pirates 5 having an underwhelming run in the U.S. If Transformers 5 also lightens up a bit in the U.S. compared to previous installments, then Wonder Woman will run strong through to the arrival of Spider-Man Homecoming. (Pirates 5 and Transformers 5 are bigger hits internationally, and that might be part of why Wonder Woman is rocking the States even harder than it's rocking the international box office.)

How does Wonder Woman's incredible box office run thus far compare with other recent superhero origin films? I am a mathematics educator by profession, so I enjoy seeing data visually. Here is a depiction of Wonder Woman's domestic box office tally compared to the six solo origin films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as well as the other solo origin film in the DCEU (Man of Steel) and, to give us a sense of the top end, I've also included the runaway hit, Deadpool from Fox.

NOTE: This graph, with dollars in millions, shows the accumulation for the first 24 days of release, and then I included the final domestic total at the far right.

Notice that, for the opening weekend, Wonder Woman behaved very much like typical box office contour, tracking right along with Iron Man. But then right away on its first weekdays, we can see that Wonder Woman is doing something different than usual -- it slashes upward, bringing in higher rates each day and then for the second and third weekend, allowing it to move from the middle of the pack all the way up to Deadpool's heels (and Deadpool also had very strong legs). If Wonder Woman can keep up its pace for another week or so, we should already see it surpass Deadpool's domestic total at that point in it's run. I suspect that this will happen by Thursday, June 22nd. From then onward, if it can at least hold as well as Deadpool did, it will surpass $365 Million in the U.S. for a worldwide total of at least $730 Million. (Shameless self-promotion: back in February I predicted $725 Million for Wonder Woman.)

For those of you who enjoy more of the details of Hollywood accounting, join me below the fold.

JLU Scene-by-Scene: Wonder Woman Scene 2

This episode of the Justice League Universe podcast focuses on Wonder Woman, Scene 2 (Young Diana running through Themyscira and observing the Amazon warriors).

  • Diana famous?
  • Themyscira production design - nature and curves
  • Young Diana in the marketplace
  • Women of Color in the movie
  • Amazon warrior training
  • Diana's leap before she looks
  • Antiope and Hippolyta initial tension
  • Connections to the original comic book issues
  • Some new observations about MoS and BvS

Contributors: @ottensam @raveryn @derbykid @wondersyd

Our preview episode about Wonder Woman: critique of POC in Wonder Woman:

Vero Post about MoS and BvS:

<Transcript below>

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

JLU Scene-by-Scene: Wonder Woman Scene 1

This episode of the Justice League Universe podcast focuses on scene 1 (Opening at the Louvre) of Wonder Woman, directed by Patty Jenkins.

  • Diana's opening narration (the world, lessons learned, and facing the truth)
  • Antiques dealer in the Louvre
  • Delivery from Wayne Enterprises
  • Connections to Batman v Superman
  • Connections to the DCEU overall
  • Why was Wonder Woman better received than BvS?
  • Text about the Mona Lisa from
Contributors: @ottensam @raveryn @derbykid @wondersyd


DC TV Podcasts fundraiser for WWF:

Themes in the DCEU:
BvS by the formula:

<Transcript below>

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Themes and Characters in WONDER WOMAN

This episode of the Justice League Universe podcast includes our preliminary analysis of the overarching themes and character development. Beginning at 47:31, we also each share some thoughts about a moment from the film that was particularly meaningful to us.

Contributors: @ottensam @raveryn @derbykid @wondersyd


Our BvS analysis:

Naive or dumb:


Saturday, June 3, 2017


Jason Book and I discuss Wonder Woman from Warner Brothers pictures, directed by Patty Jenkins and starring Gal Gadot and Chris Pine. We stay spoiler free for the first 10 minutes and then touch on some spoilers for the last 5 minutes. (These is a verbal and visible warning in the video.)

Detailed analysis will get underway soon on the Justice League Universe podcast:

EDIT: Detailed analysis is underway now!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

JLU Scene-by-Scene: Suicide Squad Scenes 24-25

This episode of the Justice League Universe podcast focuses on Suicide Squad, scene 24 (the first fight with the Eyes of the Adversary) and scene 25 (the aftermath of that first fight).

  • Katana's scars and kintsugi
  • Katana trained by Batman?
  • Eyes of the Adversary
  • Deadshot as the leader of Task Force X
  • Everyone's slo-mo moment
  • Deadshot doesn't cut and run
  • Diablo is not the fire bloke anymore
  • Are people still people? Can people change?
  • Flag still values duty over humanity

@JLUPodcast @raveryn @NBego


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Vague Review of WONDER WOMAN (No Spoilers)

I was lucky enough to attend the Wonder Woman fan screening on May 24th (here's me showing off my free poster), and now that the review embargo has lifted (critical reception seems positive), I wanted to briefly share my reactions. I am not going to give much detail at all in this post because I plan to have a spoilerfree conversation about the movie with Jason Book on June 3rd (here's us getting ready for Wonder Woman), and then the @JLUPodcast team will begin our detailed analysis by June 5th (here are our preliminary thoughts). So all I want to do right now is share in vague terms some of my reactions to my first viewing of the film.

First of all, the screening that I attended was a full house and the audience ranged in age from 4 to 84, and we appeared to be very racially diverse as well. Most of the audience was Wonder Woman fans who jumped on the opportunity for tickets like I did --- there were cosplayers and several sets of father/daughters, which was great to see. But there was also a substantial portion of the audience who were local members of the theater's mailing list who come to lots of free screenings, so they were there for a free move, not necessarily because it was a Wonder Woman movie. Even with this large amount of diversity, the film seemed to be received really well. Act 1 seemed to have everyone engrossed in the beautiful visuals and the introductions to the characters. There was a lot of laughter to accompany the humorous elements of Act 1, and there was still some solid humor in Act 2 as well. The filmmakers found great ways to weave the humor into the story -- it did not seem forced and it always fit the situation (e.g., not taking away from tension or action), and it actually came from a few different sources -- not only Etta Candy, but Steve Trevor and his crew, and even Diana in certain moments. The audience settled in more for the action of Act 3, which ratcheted up really well from the action of Act 2 -- there was good pacing, throughout. After the movie, my read of the room was that the Wonder Woman fans were basically over the moon with the experience while some of the general fans were pleased but perhaps not blown away. I talked to a few people and they all said they liked it, but it wasn't always effusive praise.

As for myself, I am currently giving the film an 8 out of 10 and I immediately had a strong desire to see it again (which I will do this weekend!). It does many, many things very effectively:
  • Strong development of characters, especially Diana and Steve, with good performances from the actors;
  • Compelling and memorable settings that are not just locations for action but also connect in to the messages of the movie;
  • Good pacing of the actions scenes where they all have a purpose and meaning;
  • Good choreography and execution of the actions scenes (there were only 3-4 brief moments where the CGI distracted me, but overall they were visual delights);
  • Wonderful musical score that fits well with the action and the visual style of the movie (only one scene stuck out to me as having mismatched, distracting music);
  • Awesome costumes; and
  • Coherent themes and some very well written connections across the movie, such as between elements and characters in Act 1 and then some contrasting counterparts in later parts of the movie.
The fact that the movie has coherent themes, which are developed across characters, plot, and visual elements, is very exciting for me and I can't wait to analyze them further. The only drawback here is that in a couple spots the writing became a bit too explicit for my taste, and I think the themes, though coherent, are perhaps not as multi-layered as certain masterpieces. But the upside to this is that the story and the messages are quite straigthforward, thus very palatable to a general audience. And the character of Diana / Wonder Woman was handled with remarkable care and there are a couple truly amazing scenes (interestingly, the two scenes that emotionally affected me the most were in Act 2 rather than Act 3, but I can't say anything more about that yet).

Overall, there is a lot to love about this movie. My wife and I, on the 90-minute drive home, talked about Wonder Woman the whole way, and we only spent about 5 minutes talking about negative aspects. There is much more to be positive about than negative, and I think we will see that in the general reaction this weekend. I can't wait to talk about this film with others, and I think the word-of-mouth will be strong.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Wonder Woman Preparations

This episode of the Justice League Universe podcast focuses on our preparations for the Wonder Woman film (Warner Bros.), directed by Patty Jenkins. It features the new Wonder Woman analysis team of @ottensam, @raveryn, @derbykid, and @wondersyd.

  • William Moulton Marston's creation of Wonder Woman
  • Historical context of World War 1
  • Women's suffrage and equity
  • Potential topics and themes for the film
  • Character arcs to look for
  • Questions we have going into the movie

@JLUPodcast on Twitter


Thursday, May 25, 2017

My Spoilerfree Reaction to the WONDER WOMAN Fan Screening

Here's my reaction right after getting home from Wonder Woman on May 24th, 2017.

We were asked not to post reviews until Tuesday, so all I will say right now is that I really liked it and can't wait to analyze it. My wife also really liked it, and the theater we were in was very diverse and the reactions seemed to be good. I think it will have a pretty broad appeal and the word of mouth should be positive once it opens.
Here are some thoughts that I had before seeing the movie: 

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Top 5 Things to Look Forward to in WONDER WOMAN

Jason Book and I discuss what we are looking forward to in the forthcoming Wonder Woman film from Warner Brothers studios, directed by Patty Jenkins and starring Gal Gadot.

Monday, May 22, 2017

JLU Scene-by-Scene: Suicide Squad Scenes 22-23

This episode of the Justice League Universe podcast focuses on Scene 22 (Katana and the Chinook ride) and Scene 23 (Slipknot mind games) of Suicide Squad.

  • Condolences to the Snyder family
  • "This is Katana"
  • "Pretty lights" in Midway City
  • Deadshot and Flag's rivalry
  • Chinook crash
  • Slipknot's moment
  • Deadshot and Harley's budding friendship
  • 3 Critiques of Suicide Squad (and remedies)
Thanks to Alessandro Maniscalco

Suicide Squadcast, Man of Steel Answers
@JLUPodcast on Twitter


Saturday, May 20, 2017

Review of THE BUTTON: Batman and the Flash

Jason Book and I discuss The Button from DC Comics, written by Joshua Williamson and Tom King, with art by Jason Fabok, Howard Porter, Brad Anderson, and HiFi.

Overall, we really enjoyed the story and are completely intrigued by the narrative threads that began with the DC Rebirth Special, but we do have to wait until Fall to get the full answers we were looking for.

Monday, May 8, 2017

JLU Scene-by-Scene: Suicide Squad Scenes 20-21

This episode of the Justice League Universe podcast focuses on Scene 20 (Enchantress and Incubus wreaking havoc in Midway City) and Scene 21 (the squad's formation at the airport evacuation site) of Suicide Squad, directed by David Ayer.

Thanks to Alessandro Maniscalco

Suicide Squadcast, Man of Steel Answers
Follow us @JLUPodcast on twitter
Rebecca Johnson -


Thursday, May 4, 2017

Review of the KRYPTON Teaser

Jason Book and I discuss the teaser trailer for the Syfy show KRYPTON. So far the show has a pilot order but not yet a series order. It will follow the family and political dynamics on Krypton during the era of Kal-El's grandfather. It is co-created by David Goyer, the writer of Man of Steel and the co-writer of Batman v Superman.

Here is the teaser from Syfy:

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Anticipating Wonder Woman: Inspirations

Jason Book and I discuss some of the sources of inspiration that the new Wonder Woman film (Warner Brothers, directed by Patty Jenkins) might be drawing from. We touch on past films, the TV show, comics, and more.

Previous discussion of Wonder Woman:

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Review of Batman 21: The Button Begins

Jason Book and I discuss issue 21 of Batman (DC Comics), by Tom King and Jason Fabok.

Overall, this is a great start to the crossover story line, it raises intriguing questions (continuing from the DC Rebirth special), and it showcases an effective blend of layout and writing with a memorable fight scene.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Reacting to Justice League Trailer 1

Jason Book and I give our initial thoughts on the Justice League trailer that Warner Brothers released on March 25th, 2017. Justice League is written by Chris Terrio and directed by Zack Snyder.

See the official trailer from Warner Bros:

See a retrospective on Batman v Superman, the movie that set up the Justice League:

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Anniversary Special: Restrospective on Batman v Superman

In this special episode of the Justice League Universe podcast, released on the one-year anniversary of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, we look back over the film as a whole as well as the critical reception. This episode also features thoughts and perspectives from 20+ of our listeners, honoring a great movie.

Episode art by David Jamison.

Zack talking about his mother, Marsha:

Here is our complete set of scene-by-scene analyses for BvS.

Follow us @JLUPodcast on Twitter.

Interview with DC Photographer Clay Enos

Clay Enos has been the set photographer on all 5 of the films thus far in the WB Justice League Universe. He joins us for an interview, covering the responsibilities of a set photographer, the marketing process, themes in the DCEU, critical reactions to Batman v Superman, working with Larry Fong, the posters and style of the upcoming Wonder Woman film, and more.
Ben Affleck's Eastern Congo Initiative

Follow @JLUPodcast on Twitter

Thursday, March 23, 2017

JLU Scene-by-Scene: Batman v Superman Scenes 75-76

This episode of the Justice League Universe podcast focuses on the final scenes of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, directed by Zack Snyder.

  • Corrections and Omissions for last episode
  • Bruce and Diana honoring Superman
  • "Men are still good"
  • Forming the Justice League
  • Bruce's indicators of redemption
  • Diana's history and building anticipation for Wonder Woman
  • Bruce's opening narration and closing narration
  • Lex Luthor in Belle Reve
  • Wizard of Oz-pokolips
  • Two perspectives on Lex's mental state
  • Bruce's clear path forward
  • Was it a good call to show Superman's soil rising?
Thanks to Alessandro Maniscalco

Man of Steel Answers, Suicide Squadcast

@JLU Podcast on Twitter


Sunday, March 19, 2017

JLU Scene-by-Scene: Batman v Superman Scenes 73-74

This episode of the Justice League Universe podcast focuses on scenes 73 (Lex Shaved, Lois Engagement ring) and 74 (funerals) of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, directed by Zack Snyder.

  • Revisiting "my world" from the last episode
  • Lex Luthor's shaved head
  • Perry and the Daily Planet headlines
  • Martha's hands and Jonathan's photo
  • Lois's engagement ring
  • Clark Kent funeral at the Kent farm
  • Superman funeral in Washington DC
  • A quick look back at "Is she with you?"
Thanks to Alessandro Maniscalco

Follow us @JLUPodcast on twitter
Daily Planet Article:
Surprises for Lois:
Man of Steel Answers, A Beautiful Truth:
Trinity comic book:


Sunday, March 12, 2017

Two Overarching Questions about Batman v Superman

I was recently asked two fairly fundamental questions about Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice in the comment board for one of our recent JLU Podcast episodes, and I thought I would share my answers here, as well. The questions were from Dragan Dnjidic.

1. What would you say to people who were expecting a primarily ideological rivalry between Batman and Superman and who were disappointed that they just fought because of Lex Luthor kidnapping Martha Kent?
I think the marketing for BvS set up a little bit of an expectation for ideological rivalry (e.g., they included Lex's lines about "day versus night..."), but I also think people had built that up themselves as something they were really expecting in the movie, and it's most fair to judge a movie based on its own story it was telling, not based on expectations or what you would've wanted in your personally preferred version of the movie. Now, I would say that it's not a very accurate characterization to say that the fight was just about Lex kidnapping Martha Kent. Lex, of course, did kidnap Martha as his final piece of leverage to exert control over Superman to make sure the fight happened, and to fulfill his fantasy of having god kneel before him.

But the pump was already primed before this because Superman was frustrated because the world was giving him a hard time after all of his own actions, even when he was just trying to help and do the right thing -- there were unintended consequences and unfair responses from people to what he was doing. Meanwhile, Batman was seemingly getting a free pass even though Batman is much more brutal and working outside the law. It was frustrating for Superman to see someone doing things that Superman himself would get crucified for doing. And Batman now going across the line in terms of taking the law into his own hands also conflicted with Superman's sense of justice. (So there is a little bit of ideological conflict in there, but I think it was much more a psychological basis for the fight.) On Batman's side, he had more reasons to fight than just Martha Kent being kidnapped, too. Speaking of which...

2. How do we know that Bruce's powerlessness is his primary motivation and not the 1% doctrine (which we call a rationalization that he used to convince himself that he was justified in persecuting Superman)?
Bruce is not wrong about his 1% doctrine, but we argue throughout our podcast that this is his rationalization and that his true driving force, primarily subconscious, is his feeling of powerlessness and his desperate effort to prove to himself that his life as Batman has been worthwhile. We cover this most directly in the following episodes ( and but to summarize some of the evidence, Alfred gives us a keen insight into Bruce's psychology early when he explicitly states that he has observed Bruce drifting off because of the feeling of powerlessness. This helps us even interpret the opening scene in a different way --- we can notice that Bruce first was powerless to save Jack and his employees and then was visually powerless as a man running into a huge cloud of debris. Importantly, this was BEFORE he stared up in anger at Superman and Zod (powerlessness first, anger at the threat of Superman second as a rationalization). Later on, we get more evidence besides Alfred's observation because we see that the taunt that really worked on Bruce was to say "You let your family die!" --- that is, Bruce has failed and has been powerless to save important people in his life (think Robin suit and his parents, especially). If it was truly an arc about the 1% doctrine, then it should've been "He could murder us all" or something like that as the threat that really got a reaction out of Bruce.

Another piece of evidence is the mausoleum nightmare (personal issues) that happens before the desert Knightmare/vision (Superman as threat) --- the mausoleum nightmare is straight from Bruce's psyche and it involves his parents' death still haunting him, which we take to be connected to his feeling of powerlessness, not being able to save them or redeem them. Oh, and that reminds me, that the Beautiful Lie poem at the beginning is another big piece of evidence, because he starts out by saying that his time as Batman has been a lie -- he hasn't made the difference, in the world or in his own life, that he thought he would as Batman. That opening narration is more important for interpreting his arc, I think, than the 1% doctrine that comes later.

Anyway, there is more evidence, but that's enough to get started. And in our analysis, we have not found any evidence that contradicts the notion that it goes (A) powerlessness then (B) 1% doctrine as a rationalization. And the most important reason to interpret Bruce's issue this way is because that it makes perfect sense of the big Martha moment. Without the powerlessness angle, it seems like a fast and too convenient turnaround (because Superman's 1% threat is still there). Also, it makes it so that Bruce's character arc and Lex's become a very interesting parallel of two men trying to deal with being emasculated by the arrival of Superman.

Friday, March 10, 2017

JLU Scene-by-Scene: Batman v Superman Scene 72

This episode of the Justice League Universe podcast focuses on the death of Superman from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

  • Superman and Lois farewell
  • "You are my world"
  • Who should wield the kryptonite spear?
  • Trinity teamwork
  • Doomsday's death
  • Parallels to Man of Steel
  • The Death of Superman
  • Superman and christian mythology
  • Was it too soon for him to die?
Thanks to Alessandro Maniscalco

Man of Steel Answers, Suicide Squadcast
@JLUPodcast on twitter


Sunday, March 5, 2017

Update on Box Office Predictions

Well, I certainly missed the mark on my box office prediction for the first superhero movie of the year, The LEGO Batman Movie.

I still don't think my prediction was outlandish, but it is just not panning out like I had hoped -- even a solid critical reception didn't seem to give it the boost that you might expect (although maybe I should've known that critical ratings and superhero box office numbers aren't correlated very strongly). I had predicted that LEGO Batman should be able to pull in a massive $610 Million worldwide, and my reasoning was that this sequel should be able to build upon the $469 Million earned by The LEGO Movie, adding further earnings because of the character recognition of Batman and the Joker and also, I thought, adding possibly as much as $100 Million from China. (The original LEGO Movie did not screen in China.) I also thought LEGO Batman would swim in the family crowd all by itself for most of February and into March.

But alas, it now looks like LEGO Batman will substantially underperform its predecessor in the US, rather than matching it, and it is not resonating at all with Chinese audiences like I had hoped. It stands at about $257 Million worldwide right now, probably on its way past $300 Million but a far cry from my prediction.

Next up is Logan, which I predicted at $560 Million by the end of its run. It had a solid opening weekend, surpassing $80 Million in the US, so I think $560 Million is well within reach and, if anything, Logan may be able to go higher than that. So from where we stand a few weeks into the 2017 superhero season, it looks like I've severely overestimated the family and Chinese market for LEGO Batman and I may have slightly underestimated the appeal of Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart's last film as Wolverine and Professor Xavier.

The good news is that both films look to be very successful, with The LEGO Batman Movie posting only an $80 Million budget, so its box office plus substantial licensing and merchandising will still make it a big earner for Warner Brothers.

Friday, March 3, 2017

JLU Scene-by-Scene: Batman v Superman Trinity Fight

This episode of the Justice League Universe podcast focuses on scenes 69-71 of Batman v Superman. This includes the formation of the Trinity, Lois retrieving the spear, and the battle with Doomsday.

  • Why that Wonder Woman arrival was so great
  • Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman
  • Wonder Woman's musical theme
  • Why Lois knows to retrieve the spear
  • "I thought she was with you" explained
  • Superman and Wonder Woman teamwork (with music)
  • Batman's survival and evasion skills
  • Lois and Superman saving each other
Thanks to Alessandro Maniscalco
Man of Steel Answers, Suicide Squadcast
@JLUPodcast on Twitter

DC All Access interview with Tina Guo
DC All Access interview with Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL

<Transcript of the episode>

Sunday, February 26, 2017

JLU Scene-by-Scene: Batman v Superman Scenes 67-68

This episode of the Justice League Universe Podcast ( focuses on Scenes 67-68 of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, directed by Zack Snyder.

  • Superman in the upper atmosphere
  • Was firing the nuke the right decision?
  • High altitude nuclear detonations
  • Prayers
  • Swanwick and Farris personal connections to Superman
  • Emaciated Superman, Doomsday evolves
  • Batwing and Doomsday
  • Batman's "Oh sh**" moment
  • Invitation for the March 25th BvS episode

Thanks to Alessandro Maniscalco

Follow us @JLUPodcast on Twitter


Monday, February 20, 2017

JLU Scene-by-Scene: Batman v Superman Scenes 65-66

This episode of the Justice League Universe podcast focuses on Doomsday and specifically Superman's initial moments fighting Doomsday.

  • Doomsday character design
  • Trailer 2 revealing Doomsday
  • Doomsday and Superman at the Heroes Park Statue
  • Foreshadowing the death of Superman
  • CNN coverage of Doomsday
  • Diana Prince on the plane
  • The boosh effect (
  • Alfred's well-placed humor
  • Listener's thoughts on Doomsday
Thanks to Alessandro Maniscalco, Kain702, Trent Osborne, Casper Richter, @_sahyl_

Man of Steel Answers, Suicide Squadcast
@JLUPodcast on Twitter

<Transcript of the episode>

Saturday, February 11, 2017

LEGO Batman Movie Review (spoilerfree)

In this video I give my initial reactions to The LEGO Batman Movie from Warner Brothers Animation, directed by Chris McKay. No spoilers

Overall, I give it a 4/5 and highly recommend it based on effective comedic and a strong character arc for Batman. All the great references and action sequences are a bonus.

Monday, January 30, 2017

JLU Scene-by-Scene: Suicide Squad Scenes 17-19

This episode of the Justice League Universe podcast focuses on Suicide Squad, Scene 17 (Activate Task Force X), Scene 18 (Van Criss Labs), and Scene 19 (Enchantress Bolts).

  • Analysis of Academy-Award Nominated Suicide Squad
  • Down-to-Earth Mission or Non-Human Entity?
  • Connections to "Paranoid" by Black Sabbath
  • Neck bomb injections
  • Griggs and Harley set-up (no pay-off)
  • Panda Man and the Van Criss Break-In
  • Parallels between the Joker and the Wall
  • Flag and June not really in love?

Man of Steel Answers, Suicide Squadcast
@JLUPodcast on Twitter

<Transcript of the episode>

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

JLU Scene-by-Scene: Batman v Superman Scene 64

This episode of the Justice League Universe podcast focuses on Scene 64 (Superman and Lex in the scout ship, Metropolis blackout) from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

  • Thoughts looking back at the warehouse rescue (friends and capes)
  • Lex's countdown timer
  • Continuity error with Superman's arrival?
  • Three meanings of "Right, wabbit?"
  • Lex won't let Superman win
  • Extra lines in the extended cut
  • Blackout in Metropolis and canted angles
  • Doomsday hatches from his egg
  • Lex as creator, Doomsday as devil
  • Fist and abomination!
  • Thoughts from listeners (Deo, kain, Marco, Casper)

Thanks to Alessandro Maniscalco.

Man of Steel Answers, Suicide Squadcast
Lex Essay:

@JLUPodcast on Twitter

<Transcript of the episode>

Saturday, January 7, 2017

MAN OF STEEL Revisited: 5 Things to Love

I love Man of Steel. I've seen it probably 10 times and it has gotten better each time because of the depth and the rich but subtle characterizations. I have landed on a personal rating of 9.5/10, and I have only given about thirty 9+ ratings to the nearly 2000 movies I've seen. It is one of my Top 20 favorite movies and it is my third favorite comic book movie, behind only Batman v Superman and just barely behind The Dark Knight.

But not everyone feels the same way about the movie. It was divisive because it was a bold new take on the Superman character who's been around for 75 years. I think it was a good take on the character and I appreciated the realistic approach -- not that this has to be the only version of Superman, but it is a good one and I think the right one in terms of building up the entire Justice League Universe.


1. The entire movie is about Clark trying to judge how humanity will respond to him.

Clark’s character arc and his big decision points involved him making judgment calls about humanity. And Clark’s judgment was influenced by his adoptive father, Jonathan Kent, who worried for his son because he knew that it would be a big deal when Clark was revealed to the world. He had been around long enough to judge pretty accurately how humanity responds to things. That's why Jonathan talked seriously with his son about hard decisions that are not clear cut, and he encouraged his son to wait until it was the right time to reveal himself. (By the way, a popular misconception is that Jonathan said to NEVER reveal himself. Actually, Jonathan told Clark to wait until he's ready and at that time he can finally stand proud before the human race. This is part of Superman’s original lore. In fact, the Kents telling a young Clark to hide his powers goes all the way back to page 1 of Superman issue #1.)

So a big question for Clark is how humanity will react to him, an alien with strange powers. Through that lens, let's look at several important scenes. When Clark is in grade school, he has a tough time dealing with some of his sensory powers. How do people react? The other kids tease him and ostracize him. Even the teacher is a bit perturbed and less than empathetic. But a glimmer of hope comes from Martha. When Clark is a bit older, he partially reveals himself when he saves the bus. Pete's Mom represents the views of a lot of the community when she freaks out. The only saving grace is that she attributes it to divine intervention. As a young adult, Clark has a nomadic existence because he has strong instincts to help out but he needs to hide away because he is not yet clear on his purpose and so isn't ready to reveal himself. And he is still trying to assess humanity, thus the importance of the scene with the trucker.

This contemplation by Clark is what makes Lois such a great complementary character. Lois quickly uncovers the truth behind Clark, but she greets it positively and is thankful to Clark for what he's done (including saving her own life). She recognizes what he is going through and he opens up to her even more by sharing the story of Jonathan's death. Lois's positive reaction to who Clark is finally gives Clark the hope that humanity might accept him. She, along with Martha, now provide two promising examples of acceptance and love from humanity. Plus, at this point in the movie, Clark now knows his own background and has a purpose for revealing himself and standing proud before the human race because they need him in the face of Zod’s arrival. This all comes together to pull him out of the nomadic phase of his life and we get character growth as he takes the "leap of faith" to reveal himself to humanity.

So to take stock of Clark’s experiences with humanity, he had adoptive parents who loved him even though he's an alien. They showed him unconditional love, but they’re his parents, so maybe he thinks it won't generalize to humanity at large. But there are other positive signs, as well, such as Pete Ross shifting from being a bully to later helping him up. Pete shows Clark that maybe people can come around once they see that Clark has good intentions. That might be an indication that, once Clark becomes a public hero, the general population will accept him. And on top of this, of course, there’s Lois and importantly there is also his interactions with the military. The soldiers are initially hostile, then skeptical, but finally come around and eventually partner with Superman. This all comes together and builds toward the climax when Superman has to decide to save Earth over Krypton.

But throughout the whole movie, we get to go along with Clark and empathize with him as he tries to assess the heart and soul of humanity, looking for the positive signs even amidst some fear and anger. And we see that Clark does take the leap of faith, after which, in the movie universe (and in the real world) his presence as Superman was met with mixed reactions. As expected, he gets adoration and thankfulness but also people who fear him or even hate and resent him. This later plays out in a big way in Batman v Superman as the logical extension of his character journey, but even in Man of Steel, this fit very well with Goyer and Snyder's overall mission to do a first-contact take on Superman's origin.

2. The Kents are loving, realistic, and wise parents.

The Kents got a lot of flack from some fans, but I saw them as one of the highlights of an already great movie. First of all, I appreciate Goyer and Snyder's decision to try to make them parents rather than grandparents, because they are often quite old in the comics or in the original movies. Second, I thought Jonathan and Martha showed genuine love for their child and a very natural desire to protect him. Martha provides comfort in those moments of Clark feeling like an outcast, and thus she provides him with a sense of home even as he roams to try to find out the truth behind his secret origin. Jonathan fully grasps the implications of Clark's extra-terrestrial origins and knows that if Clark were outed, he would be taken away from the Kents and it would also cause upheaval amongst the entire world population. So Jonathan talks realistically and deeply with his son about these issues. He doesn't hide the implications or the difficulties. He doesn’t oversimplify things or sugarcoat them with some folksy but shallow wisdom. Jonathan’s famous "maybe" line is him being very honest with his son about how his life is not going to be easy, it is going to involve hard choices where the right answer isn’t obvious, but Jonathan has unconditional love for Clark and he supports him through the difficult times. He doesn't want Clark to have to face all those challenges and responsibilities until the time is right, so that means helping an immature Clark protect his secret until he can fully realize the implications.

I think this complex but loving relationship rings truer than some past, fairly simplistic versions of the Kents where they just gave straightforward but somewhat naive advice ("Do the right thing," "I believe in you"). I also thought the "You are my son" scene, inspired by Geoff Johns's Secret Origin graphic novel, was very touching. You could really tell that David Goyer is a stepfather himself and he drew on his experiences in the script, both in that scene and in the argument just before the tornado. (By the way, I think the tornado scene was great and we’re going to have an episode in the future that debunks the criticisms people have against it.)

3. The music is otherworldly and exhilarating while still incorporating the pure intervals of Superman from the original score.

Many people love the John Williams score from the 1978 Superman: The Movie. I agree that that that score is great, but it is great for that movie, not for Man of Steel. John Williams seemed to take a lot of inspiration from old news reels and a stereotypical news bulletin type of rhythmic musical cue, which made sense given the central role of the Daily Planet in the 1978 Superman. It also hearkened back to the old Superman radio show and the 1950s Adventures of Superman TV show. Instead of this, Hans Zimmer composed what was needed for Man of Steel, which was an otherworldly sound palette to go along with the sci-fi elements of the movie, and the percussion orchestra to represent the action and clash of civilizations.

For John Williams, on top of his news reel foundation, he built the 1978 Superman theme on perfect 4th and perfect 5th intervals, representing the pure and prototypical superhero that is Superman. Williams' intervals lead up to the brass motif that literally sounds like they're saying "Superman." This was cool, but it wouldn't fit for a movie in which Superman really only appears for the last few minutes. Instead, Hans Zimmer took the core of the perfect 4th and perfect 5th intervals and completely stripped them down. A single piano playing C-G (perfect 5th) and C-F (perfect 4th), that becomes Clark's theme. It builds up to a borrowed chord (an A-flat major chord in the key of C major) that reminds us of his extraterrestrial origin.

Overall, there were so many moments where the music masterfully accentuated the emotion and the action. "Flight" for example, was an absolute pinnacle of the score and my kids and I both love that piece, in the scene and just on its own as a musical work.

4. Lois is a full partner in a full relationship with Clark.

I respect and appreciate Man of Steel for deciding not to continue with the love triangle of Lois having the hots for Superman, Clark having the hots for Lois, and Lois not knowing that the two are one and the same. Other people, though, were not happy about this change. Some feel like it’s an essential part of a Superman story. The old Adventures of Superman show with George Reeves and Noell Niel, the comics for quite a while, the Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder movies, and the Lois and Clark TV show with Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher, all these and more made substantial use of the love triangle. In fact, in some of those shows and in a lot of comic book stories, Superman protecting his identity from Lois is sometimes the primary concern or the main thrust of the tension in the story. Will she find out? How will he manage to hide his secret?

But I don’t agree with people using this as a criticism of Man of Steel. If you like those older stories, then you have those older stories to go back to. But for the story they were telling in Man of Steel, they needed to make Lois a source of Clark’s hope in humanity, and to accomplish this they made Lois the first person (besides his parents) to discover the full range of Clark's identity, and this can be a very intimate experience to be known in such a way, especially for someone who's largely been treated like an outcast. Lois also responds positively to Clark's secret, rather than with fear or jealousy, and this gives Clark hope that maybe he can reveal himself to the world. These are very deep emotions that, to me, make sense as a basis for Clark to love and appreciate Lois.

The other thing, of course, is that having Lois figure out Clark’s identity just makes her a much craftier and formidable character. It shows her journalistic skills, but it also makes it so that Lois, through her investigation, sees Clark's inherent kindness and heroism. Yes, she is saved by him first-hand, but she also hears from countless strangers about the good things Clark has done. I think it makes it more powerful for her to hear the compliments and praise about Clark from people who don't know Clark personally and who are just sharing the truth without an agenda. Lois sees Clark's deep goodness but also the pain that he's gone through being ostracized and not fitting in. That, plus the fact that Clark opens up to her about his father, draws Lois in. Then, the next step of their relationship is that they go through the harrowing ordeal of the Battle of Metropolis and work together to save the world, which must have been exhilarating for them. To me, that's a potent recipe for romance.

5. There are great themes, such as that hardships make you stronger.

A big reason I love Zack Snyder’s work is that he puts thematic development at the core of most of his movies, and as you can tell if you’ve listened to episodes from this podcast, I really enjoy delving into themes and underlying meanings. This was definitely true for Man of Steel. Based on my own interpretations of the movie, and helped out a lot by the Man of Steel Answers podcast, some of the themes that one can trace through the movie are as follows:
I will share some links to places where you can read more about those themes. And there is also a detailed analysis on YouTube about how Man of Steel is the story of Kal-El's rebirth as Superman, with Krypton the father, the escape pod the seed, and Earth the mother. The symbolism is driven home in the final scene with Zod’s death, which echoes the birth scene at the very beginning.

But the theme that is perhaps my favorite is the one that I listed for this entry in my list -- hardships make you stronger. Man of Steel Answers talked about this one, and I just think it’s so fitting for a movie called Man of Steel because steel is actually strengthened rather than weakened by being heated and tempered. Rather than Superman just arriving and taking to the skies to save the day with a smile and a quip, readily accepted by everyone as a benevolent hero, he is put through emotional and physical challenges, and through impossible decisions. He wanted to save Jonathan, but he also wanted to respect Jonathan’s wishes. He wanted to reconnect with his Kryptonian heritage but he also wanted to protect Earth. He didn’t want to kill the last remaining Kryptonian besides himself, but he needed to stop Zod. We got to see him grapple with these issues and come out the other side, although I think part of why Man of Steel was controversial with audiences was precisely because these decision-points were dilemmas, and the audience was split over what he should’ve done. To me, that just means the filmmakers did a great job of setting up those tough choices and having real stakes.

And through all of this, we saw what kind of person Clark was through the difficulties. He was always trying to help, even at risk of harm to himself. He was able to come out the other side stronger, and it was a great way to establish this character and give him a foundation upon which the next installments of the movie universe could be built. And for me personally, I appreciate this foundation of having gone through hardships and having made difficult choices but also finding strong relationships like with his mother and with Lois, I think this sets up a richer background for the character than just having adoptive Midwestern parents who told him to “be good.”