Monday, October 9, 2017

New Justice League Trailer Confirms the Centrality of Batman v Superman

Recently, a writer at Vulture tried to make the case that Warner Brothers and DC Entertainment were pivoting decidedly away from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. This writer did include excerpts from interviews with Diane Nelson and Geoff Johns, but as the Suicide Squadcast pointed out, those excerpts were couched in an editorialized piece that seemed to be trying quite hard to draw a "DC is successful everywhere except the movies" narrative.

So where can fans of Batman v Superman (like us!) look if they want to actually find out whether or not BvS is being thrown under the bus as the cinematic Justice League Universe moves forward? One place to look is the new trailer for Justice League. And there we can see many, many clear indications that BvS is being honored and maintained as the centerpiece of the universe thus far.

Justice League Heroes Trailer Connections to BvS

First of all, the beautiful opening scene of the trailer builds right off of the relationship between Clark and Lois that was integral to the BvS story. It is also set on the Kent farm, which was the location for the closing sequence of BvS. And if that wasn't enough already, this scene also shows that Justice League will be following up on both of the threads leftover from BvS -- a lot of attention has been given to the death and return of Superman, which is very important, of course, but there is also the thread of Lois's engagement to a postmortem Clark. It is now clear that that will be sincerely handled in Justice League, and the trailer made this explicit connection by even including footage from BvS. (And by including the beautifully poignant Clark Kent theme by Hans Zimmer.)

Speaking of Superman's death, that was the heartbreaking conclusion of his arc in BvS and of course it will play a big part in Justice League. We get several indications of this in the new trailer, both visually, metaphorically (with Superman representing "hope"), through Bruce's dialogue ("The world needs Superman"), and again with direct callbacks to BvS ("If you seek his monument...").
Bruce, in this trailer, also talks specifically about the promise that he made to Superman, referring to the ending of BvS where he said that he "won't fail him in death," as Bruce rededicated himself to being a better hero and a better man.

Another connection that is fairly specific to this Heroes Trailer is the reference to Bruce's dream, aka the Knightmare sequence in BvS. Bruce talks about his dream ("It was the end of the world"), and yes, the parademons are back! But this narration shows that the vision he had in BvS will be explicitly included in Justice League.

Speaking of dreams, it also seems as though Snyder's narrative device of using dreams to reveal aspects of character's inner strife will continue in Justice League, at least with Lois Lane, if not others as well.

There also seem to be some direct visual echoes from Batman v Superman, that will make for a great cohesion between the films when we have Snyder's complete trilogy. And there is also the continuity of costume design, obviously, and the inclusion of BvS vehicles even beyond the batmobile, such as a new appearance of the batwing VTOL aircraft.

Finally, although this was already clear from prior trailers, we will definitely have the continuing growth of the relationship between Bruce and Diana, which began so superbly in Batman v Superman as Bruce met someone who was unlike anyone else he had ever known before, and who's mysteriousness intrigued his detective-oriented self. They will not only partner up to recruit the team but will also move forward substantially in terms of how they fight together.

We could go on, but those are some of the connections that stick out to me based on this new trailer. The links between the two movies -- Justice League and BvS -- clearly go much deeper than just the teases in BvS of Cyborg, Aquaman, and the Flash.

So having identified these strong connections between Justice League and BvS, who should we believe -- the blogger from Vulture, or the actual footage that we see with our own eyes, that was cut together by WB's professional marketing team to promote the forthcoming blockbuster?

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Wonder Woman Commentary

This special episode of the Justice League Universe podcast features our Wonder Woman team's commentary on the film directed by Patty Jenkins and released by Warner Brothers pictures. Included in this commentary are Sam (@ottensam), Alessandro (@raveryn), Rebecca (@derbykid), and Sydney (@wondersyd).

We start with some initial chatter about our reactions to the film but then we synchronize to the film at the 17 second mark, right when the WB logo disappears to black.

See also our other DCEU commentaries: Man of Steel, Batman v Superman, and Suicide Squad.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

JLU Scene-by-Scene: Wonder Woman Scene 13

This episode of the Justice League Universe podcast focuses on Scene 13 (Diana and Steve in the infirmary) of Wonder Woman, directed by Patty Jenkins.

  • Epione notices Diana's healing
  • Building up the Steve-Diana relationship
  • Production design and luminescent water
  • Reversing cinematic gender roles
  • The watch and the time theme
  • Steve and his father (foreshadowing Steve's death)
  • Amazons as a bridge (connection with Man of Steel)
  • MAJOR THEME: Do something
  • Steve's "do something" message resonates with Diana
  • Movement and editing
  • Steve the reluctant hero (from Wayne Buck)

Contributors: @ottensam @raveryn @derbykid @wondersyd

DC Cinematic Minute:
I Love That Movie, The Big Lebowski:

<Transcript below>

Monday, September 4, 2017

JLU Scene-by-Scene: Wonder Woman Scene 12

This episode of the Justice League Universe podcast focuses on Scene 12 (Diana and Hippolyta debate after the throne room interrogation) of Wonder Woman, directed by Patty Jenkins.

  • Amazonian leadership and forms of input
  • Diana thinks it's Ares and the Germans
  • Hippolyta puts Diana down in her place
  • Hippolyta says to "do nothing"
  • Connections to the DCEU - parenting and optimism

Contributors: @ottensam @raveryn @derbykid @wondersyd


Wednesday, August 30, 2017

JLU Scene-by-Scene: Wonder Woman Scenes 10-11

This episode of the Justice League Universe podcast focuses on scenes 10 (Steve's lasso interrogation) and 11 (Steve's spy mission) of Wonder Woman, directed by Patty Jenkins.

  • Using film, production design for the throne room
  • Flow and questions answered
  • Lasso of Hestia
  • Diana and Hippolyta's reactions to Steve's testimony
  • Weapons manufacturing in Turkey
  • First glimpses of General Ludendorff and Doctor Maru
  • Steve's escape and airplane flight
  • Hippolyta's fears
  • Returning to some past critiques of scenes in the DCEU

Contributors: @ottensam @raveryn @derbykid @wondersyd

Available on YouTube:


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

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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

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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

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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
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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.