Thursday, December 22, 2016

Predicted Box Office for 2017 Comic Book Movies


The reign of comic book movies at the box office continued strong throughout 2016, with the slate of 7 mainstream CBMs pulling in approximately $5 Billion worldwide (on a total budget of just $1.2 Billion) and taking 6 of the Top 15 slots for the year. Overall, it was CBMs and family films (e.g., Finding Dory, Zootopia, Secret Life of Pets) that dominated the box office.

The feared slowdown or "superhero fatigue" has not yet materialized. At the beginning of 2016, I did an adequate (but not great) job with my 2016 CBM predictions -- I thought Deadpool would be huge, but I didn't realize how huge; I overestimated BvS and underestimated Civil War (which I kind of knew I was doing); and I was very close with my prediction for Suicide Squad. I give myself particular credit for my prediction about the sum total CBM performance -- I predicted $4.9 Billion total across the 7 CBMs and it looks like they are going to come in right at $5.0 Billion, so I had the size of the pie right, I just didn't portion it out perfectly.

Looking ahead to 2017, here are my box office predictions for worldwide gross. I based these numbers on past performance, trailers, social media buzz, competition in the release calendar, and my own gut instincts.
  • The LEGO Batman Movie (WB, 2/10/2017) -- $610 Million
  • Logan (Fox, 3/3/2017) -- $560 Million
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (Marvel, 5/5/2017) -- $875 Million
  • Wonder Woman (WB, 6/2/2017) -- $725 Million [EDIT: 2/6/17]
  • Spider-Man Homecoming (Sony/Marvel, 7/7/2017) -- $995 Million
  • Kingsman: The Golden Circle (Fox, 10/6/2017) -- $325 Million
  • Thor: Ragnarok (Marvel, 11/3/2017) -- $610 Million [EDIT: 1/12/17]
  • Justice League (WB, 11/17/2017) -- $1,015 Million
Some notes:

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Review of Justice League Action Premiere

In this video, I give my thoughts on the Justice League Action premiere (Cartoon Network). If you don't have time to watch it, then let me just say that I really enjoyed it (as did my little boys). The style, the story, and the voice acting are all solid. You should definitely check it out, even if you don't have Cartoon Network you can find it on Amazon or iTunes.

I mentioned that I was not a big fan of the bat logo or the Superman S-shield design (at times), but I should've also said that overall I was very pleased with the costumes. I am especially glad with the Superman suit they went with, because I like the belt rather than the trunks and I'm also glad they have the red boots (which are currently missing in the comics).

Sunday, December 18, 2016

DC Comics Sales for November 2016

It looks as though, after about 5 months of impressive sales numbers for DC Comics in the DC Rebirth era, things have returned to normal in November. And in the case of physical comic book sales, "normal" means a pretty clear edge for Marvel.

Diamond Comic Distributors:
Marvel is back up to a 38% dollar market share to DC's 26%, with Marvel buoyed by a batch of new #1's (five #1's for Marvel in the top twenty), as is their habit. They also continue to benefit from the Disney acquisition of the Star Wars properties.

On the DC side, Batman continues to be an extremely popular character. The Batman title (Tom King, writing) took the top two spots for the month, and All-Star Batman (Scott Snyder) and the Batman Annual also placed in the top ten. Detective Comics (James Tynion III) also placed two issues in the top twenty, and the other relatively strong sellers were Justice League, The Flash, and Superman. Here is Comichron's complete rundown of the sales numbers:

For a great podcast that helps you keep up on the main character comic books from DC, check out the DC Comics Squadcast.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Suicide Squad Theatrical Cut Commentary

In this episode of the Justice League Universe podcast, Alessandro and I give our commentary on the theatrical version of Suicide Squad (Warner Bros), written and directed by David Ayer. (Because of technical limitations of Sam's recording setup, we had to use the DVD version which is the theatrical cut. For thoughts on the extended cut, see our prior episode.)

We synchronize our playback at the 9 second mark right when the R RatPac logo appears.

Man of Steel Answers, Suicide Squadcast

Follow @JLUPodcast on twitter

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

JLU Scene-by-Scene: Batman v Superman Scene 61

This episode of the Justice League Universe podcast focuses on Batman v Superman Scene 61, Batman, Superman, and Lois's conversation after the Batman-Superman fight.

  • Quick look back at the Batman-Superman fight
  • Two threat locations - scout ship and warehouse
  • Superman and Lois explaining the situation to Batman
  • Batman's rational and emotional appeal to Superman
  • Batman's promise
  • Rising/falling motif
  • Thoughts from listeners
Thanks to Alessandro Maniscalco
Man of Steel Answers, Suicide Squadcast
@JLUPodcast on twitter

<Transcript of the episode>

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Review of Batman 12: I Am Suicide (Part Four)

In this video I share my thoughts on Batman #12, by Tom King and Mikel Janin. This is the much discussed issue where Batman is making his way into Bane's castle in Santa Prisca and it is overlaid with a poignant letter from Bruce Wayne to Catwoman.

I am still a fan of what Tom King is going for with his run on Batman, but it is not without its flaws. Also, I forgot to mention it in the video, but this issue also gives a new possible interpretation of the vicious crime that originally put Catwoman away.

Friday, December 9, 2016

JLU Scene-by-Scene: Suicide Squad Scenes 14-16

This episode of the Justice League Universe podcast focuses on Suicide Squad, the scenes where Griggs meets the Joker, Enchantress finds her brother, and Incubus comes to life in the subway station.

  • Griggs in a vulnerable position for a change
  • The Joker in the kitchen
  • Washington Monument
  • Flag and Enchantress's relationship
  • Enchantress and Incubus
  • The pacing and execution of Enchantress's motivation
  • Incubus in the subway and gods in the novelization
  • Reacting to the Honest Trailer for Suicide Squad
Thanks to Alessandra Maniscalco

Man of Steel Answers, Suicide Squadcast, DCU_Club Subreddit

@JLUPodcast on twitter

<Transcript of the episode>

Friday, November 18, 2016

Reactions to the Suicide Squad Extended Cut

This episode of the Justice League Universe podcast contains my quick reactions to the extended cut of Suicide Squad, released this week digitally.

Overall, the movie is basically the same -- the strengths (and flaws) remain intact. There are a few new moments that I think would've been good additions to the theatrical release, but there are also some parts that I think were wise to have cut out. I really like this version of the Joker, but I think some of the new footage works better as an extra rather than a part of the theatrical version of the film.

See also our analysis of themes and characters.

Superhero Movies: A Personal Ratings Rundown

I love DC Films and especially the burgeoning Justice League Universe. But I also often say that I like most of the Marvel Studios films, too, and I've even gone on record saying that people should be willing to like both movie franchises rather than picking sides and being antagonistic. Following the release of Doctor Strange and Captain America: Civil War, and with me being underwhelmed by both of those films, I thought it was time for me to revisit the claim that I "like most Marvel movies." Is that really true?

So here's a quick rundown of my personal opinions on a bunch of WB/DC and Marvel superhero movies, going back about 10 years. Let's see where I really stand:

Doctor Strange (Marvel, 2016) 6.0Visuals pretty but not meaningful; Too formulaic, especially at the beginning; Humor in the wrong spots; Secondary characters too flat.
Suicide Squad (WB/DC, 2016) 7.5Good characters and style; Enchantress a good choice but not well executed; Action a bit run-of-the-mill.
Captain America: Civil War (Marvel, 2016) 6.5Strong thematic set-up but does not follow through; Action is fun but tone is inconsistent and motivations are contradictory or absent; Cinematography is weak.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (WB/DC, 2016) 9.8Deep, coherent character arcs; Rich in societal, philosophical themes; Strong use of visual imagery; Great music.
Ant-Man (Marvel, 2015) 5.5Humor did not land well for me; Character arcs were too obvious and sometimes pushed aside in favor of plot beats; Not much to discuss afterward.
Avengers: Age of Ultron (Marvel, 2015) 6.5Important theme but addressed in a surface-level way; Ultron always seemed like James Spader to me; Action was contradictingly flat and chaotic.
Guardians of the Galaxy (Marvel, 2014) 7.0Entertaining movie but I am not as infatuated with Rocket Raccoon or Drax as others are; Ronan’s role in the plot was contrived; Chris Pratt is Chris Pratt.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Marvel, 2014) 8.0Cap, Bucky have good characterizations; Plot is intriguing though themes are under-developed; Fury’s “death” was bad, Helicarriers unrealistic.
Thor: The Dark World (Marvel, 2013) 4.5I did not really enjoy the characters, the humor, or the plot; it looked like TV.
Man of Steel (WB/DC, 2013) 9.5Realistic world building; Deep characterization of Clark/Kal-El; Great link between origin and villain; Compelling action and music; Drawback is a few bad lines of dialogue.
Iron Man 3 (Marvel, 2013) 6.0Some good Iron Man / Tony personality but I did not really get into it and it was quickly forgettable.
The Dark Knight Rises (WB/DC, 2012) 8.0A logical conclusion to the character arcs and themes of the trilogy, though a bit of a letdown from the stellar TDK; some plot contrivances but a good story for Bane; Great action in parts but poor fight scenes in other parts.
The Avengers (Marvel, 2012) 7.5Good multi-character story but lack of deep themes; Exciting action but disrespect to real heroes, first responders; Humor gets in the way at times.
Captain America: The First Avenger (Marvel, 2011) 7.0A pretty straightforward, pretty decent origin story but not great; period settings were cool; a bit cheesy and safe in its approach, at times.
Green Lantern (WB/DC, 2011) 6.5To me it’s not as bad as most people say; Humor good in most spots, not all; Effects and production design were hit and miss; Villain didn’t reach potential.
Thor (Marvel, 2011) 6.0Personally don’t like the Thor character that much and didn’t buy his relationships on Earth; Predictable or formulaic in parts.
Jonah Hex (WB/DC, 2010) 6.0Not a great movie but I liked the thorough setting and tone, and Brolin’s portrayal of Hex; other performances not as good; some really good scenes even if the whole thing was undercooked.
Iron Man 2 (Marvel, 2010) 7.0Step down in cinematography, story from the first installment; some action scenes are pretty good but they are sometimes convoluted; Didn’t like the villain.
The Dark Knight (WB/DC, 2008) 9.6Great villains; Good story and characters that all feed into themes; Memorable scenes and music; Discussion starter.
The Incredible Hulk (Marvel, 2008) 6.5Not a big fan of Edward Norton; Some good action sequences but the story was pretty pedestrian.
Iron Man (Marvel, 2008) 8.5Compelling character; Good cinematography, settings; strong action scenes; right amount of humor.
Superman Returns (WB/DC, 2006) 7.5 As others have said – pretty good drama, not a great superhero movie; Nods to classic Superman are nice but also hold it back from greatness.
Batman Begins (WB/DC, 2005) 8.5Refreshing and serious new take on Bruce Wayne and Batman; Good settings and music; Smart choice of villains.

Looking across the whole table, my rating averages 8.1 for the 9 WB/DC films and only 6.6 for the 14 Marvel films. So as expected, my tastes align more with the WB/DC side of things. But to answer the main question -- is it true that I like most of the Marvel movies? -- I tend to consider anything above a 6/10 as me "liking it" and so the Marvel average is above 6 and so is in the "like" range. Also, going film by film, there are 9 out of the 14 that I've rated higher than 6, so yes, it is true that I like most of the Marvel films. But...

Thursday, November 17, 2016

DC Rebirth and the New 52: Sales Comparison Update

DC's Rebirth initiative was both a creative move and a business calculation, the biggest one since the New 52 relaunch in 2011. In advance of Rebirth, I analyzed the sales numbers and came to realize that it makes fiscal sense to double ship the premiere titles and trim off some of the more niche titles. This was creatively risky (I loved Prez and The Omega Men, and Midnighter was good, too, for example) but it has turned out well because the quality of stories and art have been so good in the Rebirth books.

I have found it interesting to compare the Rebirth sales numbers to the New 52 sales numbers in 2011. So here is my update on those numbers:

Before we pull out some numbers from the table, it is important to note two things in favor of Rebirth that do not show up in the table. First, Rebirth started with the Rebirth #1 issues, which gave most of the series a boost in sales even before they had the strong sales of the main #1. There was no counterpart to this in the New 52 relaunch. Second, because many of the Rebirth series ship twice per month (including all the ones in the table above), this means that DC has pulled in all these sales numbers in half the time it took to reach them in New 52. And the extra issues of Batman, The Flash, etc., have taken the place of the lowest sellers in the New 52 (e.g., OMAC, Savage Hawkman). So even if the Rebirth sales numbers were right on pace with the New 52, the Rebirth initiative would still be a doing better for the bottom line.

Now, the things that stand out to me from the table.

DC Comics Sales in October 2016

On May 27th, DC Comics kicked off the Rebirth era to great acclaim from critics and fans alike. In June they released their first batch of Rebirth #1's and saw a solid boost in comic sales. In July and August and September they actually surpassed Marvel Comics in terms of market share, which is a very rare thing (at least over the last 15 years).

In this post, I will share some of the numbers from the October sales reports from Diamond Comic Distributors (U.S. physical sales), as crunched by Comichron. For October 2016, Marvel returned to its typical roost atop the sales charts, but DC is hanging around much closer than it was doing in 2014, 2015, or the early part of 2016. Since acquiring the Star Wars line, Marvel has been a comic sales powerhouse. And along those lines, Marvel posted a dollar share of 35.9% to DC's 30.7% (Image 9.5%), and Marvel had a unit share of 36.5% to DC's 34.8% (Image 8.8%). The two market share figures are not the same because DC has a lower average price per issue, thanks to the $2.99 cover price on most DC books, which I personally appreciate a lot.

Marvel's sales were boosted by a few prominent #1's (e.g., Champions, Doctor Strange and the Sorcerer Supreme) and the next installment in their drawn out Civil War II event. Star Wars #25 also came out for them as a big seller. Meanwhile, DC ticked slightly down because they have exited their phase of Rebirth #1's and they are now into the heart of the ongoing series.

Even though DC was slightly behind Marvel for October, it is important to realize that the pie itself has gotten significantly bigger since Rebirth began. The total number of units sold in the US is up 11% over last year and up 16% over five years ago. This is astounding when one realizes that that industry growth is not counting digital sales, which are obviously way up since five years ago as well. So it's really a win-win right now for DC and Marvel.

If you're curious, the top sellers for DC in October were mainly the Batman-related books. Batman Dark Knight III The Master Race, Batman, and All-Star Batman posted issues in the top ten. Detective Comics also posted issues in the top twenty, as did Justice League and The Flash.

Note: Take this however you wish, but while we're on the topic of money and DC/Marvel comparisons, you might be interested to know that Marvel CEO Perlmutter gave millions of dollars to the Trump campaign for president, last winter and right up through October.

Monday, November 14, 2016

JLU Scene-by-Scene: Suicide Squad Scenes 11-13

This episode of the Justice League Universe podcast focuses on Waller's visit to Belle Reve, Deadshot's shooting range demonstration, Flag's criticisms of Task Force X, and Joker's knife circle.

  • Box office update
  • Harley Quinn to Waller: "Are you the devil?"
  • Killer Croc internalizing his monsterness
  • El Diablo foreshadowing death
  • Deadshot's shooting range and list of demands
  • Flag pitches a team of soldiers instead of the Squad
  • No one believes the Waller stories
  • Joker's knife circle
  • Ayer's choice of roster for the Squad
  • Trade Paperback Giveaway and the Number 23
Thanks to Alessandro Maniscalco
Man of Steel Answers, Suicide Squadcast
@JLUPodcast on twitter

<Transcript of the episode>

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Doctor Strange Review (No Spoilers)

I usually watch Marvel/Disney movies but I don't usually cover them on this blog. Recently, however, Jason Book and I talked about upcoming comic book movies from several studios. The first of those movies was Doctor Strange (Marvel Studios). Like several other Marvel movies, I thought it was fairly entertaining but not great in terms of the craft of filmmaking. My rating after one viewing is 6/10 and my (spoiler free) review is below.

Doctor Strange, directed by Scott Derrickson, has several promising features but each of them is held back by some accompanying flaws. Starting with the main character, I thought Stephen Strange had a fairly good arc moving from self-involvement to selflessness and Benedict Cumberbatch turned in a good performance. But that arc was a bit too obvious and cliche for my taste, and the film also suffered because I don't think any of the other characters had enough development or multi-dimensionality. It felt to me like everyone else was there to serve Strange's story -- and yes, this is his solo movie, but it is still possible to give the secondary characters some of their own development and nuance and I felt like Doctor Strange was underwhelming in this department.

Many people are praising the visual effects, and while I agree there are some elements that are visually stunning, I felt like the land/building warps were usually pointless and only served to create an interesting backdrop to the action. There were a couple scenes where the land warps were used by a character to try to trip or stop another character, so that is at least minor purpose, but that still seems like an inefficient way to stop them if you have magic at your disposal, and most of the other times I couldn't discern any real purpose for all the visual craziness that was happening on the screen.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Forthcoming Comic Book Movies: Strange, Logan, Guardians, and the League

Jason Book and I discuss our anticipation and some recent footage released for some upcoming comic book movies -- Doctor Strange, Logan, Guardians of the Galaxy (Vol. 2), and Justice League.

It's been a great year for comic book movies thus far in 2016, but there are several good things still on the horizon... and we didn't even have time to talk about Wonder Woman, which looks great and will have a new trailer coming this week.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

JLU Scene-by-Scene: Batman v Superman Scene 60

This episode of the Justice League Universe podcast focuses on the "Martha" scene after the Batman-Superman fight in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, directed by Zack Snyder.

Download MP3 here:

  • Batman takes Superman down
  • Your parents and my parents
  • Force the world to make sense
  • Superman does bleed
  • "Martha"
  • Thoughts from listeners
  • Terrio and a moment of shared humanity
Thanks to Alessandro Maniscalco

Full podcast:

Follow @JLUPodcast on Twitter

<Transcript of the episode>

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Review of Supergirl Episode 202: Superman and Metallos

Jason Book and I discuss the second episode of season 2 of Supergirl (CW).

We have a lot that we like about the show and the new season, but we also bring up some concerns.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

DC Comics Continues Sales Surge in September

In the past, I wrote about how the DC Rebirth initiative made a lot of business sense (doubling down on the core characters and taking advantage of cross-media momentum), and how the comic sales were playing out very well in July 2016 and especially August 2016 when DC solidly overtook Marvel... something that very rarely happens.

Well, DC Comics continued that hot selling streak in September 2016 and they also led the way in pushing comic sales overall to heights that haven't been seen since the boom of the 1990s.

For September, DC Comics garnered 36.5% of the dollars earned through physical sales (Marvel 31.4%, Image 9%) and DC offered a relatively low price per issue, with most at $2.99, and so that generosity to the fans meant that DC actually had 43.5% of the units sold. That makes three months in a row that DC outsold Marvel, even with Marvel's Civil War II event going on and Marvel boosted by the sales of the Star Wars series.

Batman (two issues) and All-Star Batman took the top three spots for the month, and Justice League (two issues), Trinity, Supergirl, and Suicide Squad also showed up in the Top Ten. That means DC had 8 of the top 10 bestselling issues! And you can see the benefits of the cross-media connections. It is also proving wise that Rebirth spread out its new #1's, because the fact that #1's are still coming out give a consistent boost and new momentum to the initiative overall.

Walking Dead was still the king of the trade paperbacks, but DC posted 6 of the top 10 in that category as well --- Marvel only posted 1 (Secret Wars).

Overall, the sales are not only good, but the stories and artwork are good, too. Here are my current top five (in no particular order) from the DC Rebirth line:

Superman 7-8: Momentum in the Comic Series

Jason Book and I discuss the recent issues of the Superman ongoing series from DC Comics, written by Peter Tomasi.

As we describe in the video, we're very excited by the storytelling and the artwork that is happening in this book and we're looking forward to what comes next.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Review of The Flash (CW) Flashpoint Paradox

Jason Book and I discuss the first two episodes of Season 3 of The Flash (CW).

We have loved this show over the course of its first two seasons. But here at the start of Season 3, we have a few concerns. There is still a lot of potential for the season, though.

Review of Supergirl Season 2 Premiere

Jason Book and I discuss the premiere episode of Supergirl on the CW, featuring the full introduction of Superman in the DCCW universe.

This episode dropped a couple threads from the first season but also set up some interesting things that I will be eager to see play out. With regard to Superman, I love the cinematic version of Superman that has been developed in Man of Steel, Batman v Superman, and even Suicide Squad, but I also don't mind multiple versions of a character. This CW Superman fits the style of the show pretty well.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Batman v Superman Ultimate Edition Commentary

In this episode of the Justice League Universe podcast (@JLUPodcast), Alessandro and I give our commentary on the extended cut of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, directed by Zack Snyder. We synchronize our playback to the moment right at the start when the leaf is floating right in front of the WB logo.

Man of Steel Answers, Suicide Squadcast

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

JLU Scene-by-Scene: Batman v Superman Gladiator Match

This episode of the Justice League Universe podcast focuses on Scene 59 of Batman v Superman, the big gladiator match between Batman and Superman.

  • The physical and visual setting of the fight
  • Falling motif and above/below motif
  • Superman trying to talk to Batman
  • Batman's traps and the bat signal
  • Batman on the edge
  • BvS and its positioning of violence (Pulpklatura)
  • Comments from listeners - Michael, Sofia, Casper
  • Fear and bravery
  • The Dark Knight Returns connections
  • Batman's true motivations in the fight
Thanks to Alessandro Maniscalco
Man of Steel Answers, Suicide Squadcast
Follow @JLUPodcast on twitter

<Transcript of the episode>

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

JLU Scene-by-Scene: Suicide Squad Enchantress Security Briefing

This episode of the Justice League Universe podcast focuses on Suicide Squad, the scene when Waller introduces the National Security Council to Enchantress.

  • Transition from the Dossier Introduction
  • Oversimplifying good and bad
  • The "next war"
  • The Squad as "monsters" (according to whom?)
  • Enchantress's display of powers
  • ARGUS and Justice League Dark

Thanks to Alessandro Maniscalco

Man of Steel Answers, Suicide Squadcast, DCU_Club subreddit

<Transcript of the episode>

All-Star Batman 2: Poisoning and the Beast

Jason Book and I review issue 2 of All-Star Batman by Scott Snyder and John Romita Jr.

This is definitely an entertaining book to read, but I do think the art holds it back a bit, and Snyder is throwing a lot more into it more rapidly than I expected. But it's an intriguing premise and it still has that feeling of a must-read Batman story.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

DC Comic Sales Strong in August

For years, Marvel has been the dominant force in the comic book market. But DC's Rebirth initiative -- together with the success of the films, the television shows, and cross-product initiatives like Superhero Girls -- may be in the midst of shifting the market complexion. In June 2016, DC gained some ground on Marvel and raised comic book sales overall. Then in July 2016, DC actually accomplished the rare feat of overtaking Marvel.

Now the August sales numbers have been released and, with positive reception and strong carryovers from issue to issue in the Rebirth series, DC has extended its lead over Marvel.

Even with lower prices (almost every book is $2.99), DC earned 39.3% of the dollar share to Marvel's 30.8%. Image came in around 8% and IDW was at 5%.

Perhaps even more impressive than the market share number was that DC claimed 9 of the Top 10 slots for physical copies sold. (Digital sales numbers are not public.) Amazing Spider-Man is the only Marvel entry in the Top 10, coming in at #4. For DC, Harley Quinn was the overall #1, and the Top 10 also featured All-Star Batman, Suicide Squad, Batman, Justice League, and Supergirl. From that list, it's pretty clear that the cross-media synergy is strong for Warner Brothers and DC.

I have been enjoying and thus reading many more of the DC Rebirth titles than I expected. Here are my personal favorites, in no particular order (ask me next week and they will probably be different because I like so many of the books):
  • Batman
  • Suicide Squad
  • Superwoman
  • New Super-Man
  • Green Arrow
On the graphic novel side of things, I give a strong recommendation for The Omega Men. I would've loved to see that in the Top 10 for collected editions.

Batman 6: Gotham Girl's Week

Jason Book and I discuss Batman #6 by Tom King and Ivan Reis. This is the epilogue to the first Rebirth story arc, "I Am Gotham."

This issue showed a good understanding of Batman's psychology (but addressed subtly through Gotham Girl's emotions) and had an effective mix of one-off Gotham villains and emotional beats.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Man of Steel Commentary

For this episode of the Justice League Universe podcast, Alessandro and I recorded a live commentary track to accompany Man of Steel, directed by Zack Snyder. As described in the episode, you can synchronize the film with us by pausing it at the 12 second mark (right when the WB logo is obstructed from view) and then pushing play when we say.

Overall, I love this movie, though it took me a few viewings to fully appreciate it. Similarly, Alessandro had to watch it more than once to go from sort of hating it to loving it. I now rate the film a solid 9/10 (and I try to be stingy with my 9's and 10's).

We touch on some themes in our commentary, and here is a collection of themes from the Justice League Universe overall.

Man of Steel Answers:
Thesis on Man of Steel:

Monday, September 12, 2016

JLU Scene-by-Scene: Suicide Squad Dossier Introductions

This episode of the Justice League Universe podcast focuses on scenes 3-9 of Suicide Squad, which is Waller's dossier introduction of the squad.

  • Amanda Waller and the Death of Superman
  • The great world building thus far in the Justice League Universe
  • Deadshot and his daughter
  • Harley as the Joker's Queen
  • Captain Boomerang and The Flash
  • El Diablo and his surrender
  • Killer Croc, the monster
  • Enchantress, the witch
  • Rick Flag and Waller's leverage
  • Thematic Analysis versus Comic Book Analysis
Thanks to Alessandro Maniscalco

Man of Steel Answers, Suicide Squadcast, DCU_Club subreddit

<Transcript of the episode>

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Action Comics 962: Doomsday Showdown

Jason Book and I review issue 962 of Action Comics (DC Comics), by Dan Jurgens and Stephen Segovia.

This was a solid conclusion to the action-packed arc that has featured the Pre-Flashpoint Superman facing down Doomsday again ... the same Doomsday who killed him in the 1990s. They also bring in some nice new dimensions to Superman's character with Lois and son Jonathan watching the fight, and Lois stepping in when needed.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

DC Rebirth and the New 52: Comparing Comic Book Sales

After years of domination by Marvel, DC Comics was able to outsell its competitors in July 2016. In about a week, we will be able to see if DC's Rebirth efforts were able to maintain the lead for August against Marvel's Civil War 2, which is a summer event designed to take advantage of the momentum created by the Captain America: Civil War movie. While we wait for those August numbers, I thought it would be fun to compare DC's Rebirth sales numbers to its previous line-wide relaunch -- 2011's New 52.

First of all, it's important to note that the New 52 was a complete reboot (starting everything over from scratch, thanks to the events of Flashpoint) whereas Rebirth was just a relaunch, with new creative teams coming on with a general back-to-the-heart approach but a lot of the continuity is maintained even though the books are renumbered. Moreover, the New 52 involved 52 monthly series all starting in a single month, September 2011. Rebirth, on the other hand, is centering on about 20 ongoing series, many of them are coming out twice a month, and the new #1's are being spread throughout June, July, and into the Fall.

To compare the sales thus far, I'm going to focus on eight of the most prominent series that were involved in both the New 52 and Rebirth -- Justice League, Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Detective Comics, Action Comics, and Nightwing. The table below shows the comparative sales for the first few issues of these series.

Some things to notice about the sales numbers:

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

A Pitch for the Next Batman Trilogy

Jason Book and I discuss our idea for a Batman trilogy of films that could work well in the Warner Brothers Justice League Universe.

It's a new exploration of Bruce/Batman that we haven't seen on film before, it draws from famous comic book storylines but is not a direct adaption of them, and in the end it really is a story of Jason Todd just as much as it is of Bruce Wayne.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

JLU Scene-by-Scene: Batman v Superman Scenes 55-58

This episode of the Justice League Universe podcast focuses on all the short scenes in between Lex's helipad scene and the big Batman-Superman fight.

  • Scout ship activated
  • Superman and Lois, "No one stays good in this world."
  • Wonder Woman before the fight
  • The Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg
  • Lois and Perry's character arc
  • Bonus: Additional thoughts from listeners on Lex's helipad scene
Thanks to Alessandro Maniscalco

<Transcript of the episode>

Man of Steel Sequel: Top 5 Villains

Jason Book and I run through some ideas for who could be a villain in the Man of Steel sequel that is reportedly in active pre-production.

Our discussion includes Brainiac, Mongul, Metallo (my personal top pick!), Parasite, and a surprise final antagonist.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Comparing Film Series Box Office Performance

EDIT 9/15/2016: Updated with increased projection for Suicide Squad (from $675M to $715M).

With Suicide Squad overcoming critical negativity to post a huge record August opening and then showing strong legs with only 52% and 42% drops the last two weekends, it now looks clear that the DC Films Justice League Universe (often referred to as the DCEU) is three for three in terms of financial success. Suicide Squad should safely clear $675 Million worldwide. Movie finances are notoriously hard to pin down, but here are two quick pieces of evidence that Suicide Squad, like Man of Steel and Batman v Superman before it, are financially profitable:
  • Even if we assume SS went over budget by $10 Million or so (maybe because of the reshoots), it is still going to post a worldwide gross more than 3.6 times its production cost (for comparison, the hugely successful Guardians of the Galaxy had a worldwide gross 3.3 times its production cost);
  • Warner Brothers is expanding its DC Films slate by adding a Man of Steel sequel and Justice League Dark. This is on top of its already ambitious slate including Wonder Woman, Justice League, The Flash, Aquaman, and The Batman.

The films in the Justice League Universe have also had incredibly strong home media sales thus far, and Suicide Squad also managed to support the number one album in the country with its soundtrack. But focusing just on the worldwide box office totals, we can also put this new film series into context by comparing it to many other film series of the 21st Century. Below is a graph that shows the DCEU in pink but also shows 8 other film series -- The Dark Knight trilogy, The Hunger Games, James Bond, Transformers, Fast & Furious, Harry Potter, the X-Men universe, and of course the Marvel Cinematic Universe (13 films and counting). This graph uses a $715 Million estimate for Suicide Squad, which is probably low.

Some things that stick out to me from this graph:

Saturday, August 27, 2016

The Batman: Top 5 Villains

Jason Book and I share ideas for The Batman film, forthcoming from the DC Films division of Warner Brothers, written by Ben Affleck and Geoff Johns and directed by Ben Affleck.

Affleck has said the film will not be a direct adaption of any comic book, but it will draw inspiration from a few different comic book sources, kind of like Zack Snyder has done with Man of Steel and BvS. Anyway, here are some reading recommendations that can go along with some of the villains we discuss:
  • Hush -- "Hush" by Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee
  • Black Mask -- "Batman: Battle for the Cowl" by Tony Daniel
  • Joker -- "Death in the Family" by Jim Starlin and Jim Aparo, and "Joker" by Brian Azzarello (the latter is already a great read to connect with Suicide Squad)
  • Court of Owls -- "Court of Owls" and "City of Owls" by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo
  • Arkham -- Hugo Strange in "Batman and the Monster Men" by Matt Wagner or "Batman: Arkham Unhinged" by Derek Fridolfs, prequel to Arkham City video game, and then of course "Batman: Arkham Asylum" by Grant Morrison and Dave McKean

Friday, August 26, 2016

Batman 5: Gotham Girl to the Rescue

Jason Book and I discuss issue 5 of Batman (DC Comics), by Tom King and David Finch. This wraps up the first story arc, "I Am Gotham."

Thus far the first issue may have been the best, so that set up a little bit of unmet expectations, but overall it was a solid story arc. King has established a nice thematic basis about Batman's ability (or not) to always protect Gotham and this issue has a fantastic and memorable scene with Alfred. It also has a significant ending and then a bit of a tease on the final page that Tom King will have to follow up on in future arcs. For me, I'm definitely enjoying the series and I think it's highest heights are still ahead.

Also, check out this Newsarama interview with Tom King where he talks about his future plans for the series. He also reveals that this first arc was not actually about Gotham, as it may have seemed, but was about Gotham Girl next to him, and her origin.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Omega Men Graphic Novel

DC Comics just released The Omega Men: The End is Here graphic novel, the collected edition of Tom King's 12-issue run on the series. It features art by Ig Guara, Toby Cypress, and Barnaby Bagenda. It is a space-based story that involves rebels (or are they terrorists?) trying to resist an overwhelming and oppressive force called The Citadel. This book shows that comics are capable of taking on issues of direct relevance to today's society, and it is merges exceptionally insightful and sometimes brutal writing by an ex-CIA officer who knows what he's talking about with a keen art style that is consistent throughout and that involves both striking figures and memorable settings. This graphic novel really is the total package and I recommend it to anyone who is willing to take comics seriously.

Two more good reasons to check out this book: it was of such high quality that Tom King's work here (together with his runs on Grayson and The Vision for Marvel) landed him the top gig at DC Comics -- writing the Batman ongoing series. Furthermore, this book is a great example of the art not only making use of what's inside the panels but actually structuring the panels in ways that support the story. It is consistently based around a nine-panel grid and, at times, it gives the sense of prison bars while at other times the panels gradually build up to climactic moments -- from 9 panels to 8 to 7 etc., finally landing on a full splash page and then resolving back through 2, 3, etc., to 9 panels again.

It is basically a master class in comic book storytelling and it has a great deal of relevance to our relationship to leaders and our perceptions of war and violence. It is definitely one of the most affecting books I've read over the past year.

All-Star Batman 1: Batman and Two-Face Hit the Road

Jason Book and I discuss the first issue of All-Star Batman by Scott Snyder and John Romita Jr.

As expected, I wasn't too thrilled with the art -- at least not the renderings of Batman -- but the premise of the story is intriguing and this issue has several great scenes. We are both definitely excited to see what Snyder has in store.

Monday, August 22, 2016

JLU Scene-by-Scene: Batman v Superman Scene 54

This episode of the Justice League Universe podcast focuses on Lex's helipad scene with Lois and Superman.

  • Lex's use of Lois
  • Triangle inequality
  • Superman came back
  • High and low motif
  • Lex's villain monologue
  • Lex's wordplay and cultural references
  • Is good a matter of perspective?
  • The problem of evil
  • Editing, music, and Superman and his mother
Thanks to Alessandro Maniscalco

Man of Steel Answers, Suicide Squadcast, DCU_Club subreddit

<Transcript of the episode>

Friday, August 19, 2016

DC Entertainment Success in Summer 2016

For years, DC has run a distant second behind Marvel with regard to box office success and comic book sales. I have nothing against Marvel, so this post is in no way meant to disparage their good fortunes, but personally DC's characters have always been closer to my heart. That's why it has been rewarding for me this summer to look beyond the mixed critical reception of Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad and to see the widespread success that DC/WB has been having recently.

Despite the naysayers, BvS was an unequivocal financial success. And now Suicide Squad is on a very successful path as well, heading for more than $600 Million worldwide -- more than enough to be profitable beyond its $175 Million budget and $125 Million marketing campaign. It opens this weekend in Germany and then Japan in the near future, which will boost its international numbers even higher. As the figure below shows, Suicide Squad is also keeping pace above the wildly successful Guardians of the Galaxy, which still reigns as by far the most successful August movie ever.

But DC/WB's success goes well beyond the box office...

Monday, August 15, 2016

Batman 4: Gotham gets dark

Jason Book and I discuss issue 4 of Batman by Tom King and David Finch (DC Comics).

Unfortunately, I had some technical difficulties and so my video cut out near the end. What I didn't get to say was that I LOVED the scene between Waller and Batman (you can see it in the video around the 3:18 mark) and I thought the art was solid throughout. I liked the scene with Duke Thomas, and I also think we're in store for some good action in the next issue

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Superhero Movies: Critics' Influence on Box Office

With the release and continued success of Suicide Squad, I got curious about what the data would say about the relationship between critic ratings (as aggregated on Metacritic -- I don't use Rotten Tomatoes anymore) and box office performance for superhero movies. To reduce the scope to something manageable, I decided to just look at the Top 40 superhero movies by worldwide box office performance. (And I haven't included Suicide Squad yet, even though it's already in the Top 40 after just one week. But at the end of this post, I will speculate on where Suicide Squad might end up.)

Here is the scatterplot of Metacritic rating (x-axis) and worldwide box office total in millions of dollars (y-axis), with the box office totals roughly adjusted for inflation.

First of all, we can see a positive but weak relationship between the Metacritic rating and box office performance. The correlation coefficient is approximately 0.32, so there is definitely some predictive power based on critical reception but there are many other factors that also go into the final box office total. Some of those other factors (e.g., audience reaction, word-of-mouth) are certainly associated with critical reception while others (e.g., marketing effectiveness, MPAA rating, 3D screenings, international markets) are independent of critical reception.

Critical reviews do not determine box office performance

Friday, August 12, 2016

JLU Scene-by-Scene: Suicide Squad Scenes 1 and 2

This episode of the Justice League Universe podcast focuses on the first two scenes of Suicide Squad -- the introductions of Deadshot and Harley Quinn in Belle Reve Penitentiary.

  • Belle Reve and "The House of the Rising Sun"
  • Deadshot doesn't have any friends
  • Griggs portrayed by Ike Barinholtz
  • Vengeance and holy ghost motifs
  • Harley Quinn's gymnastics background
  • Initial set-up of Harley's character
Man of Steel Answers, Suicide Squadcast, DCU_Club subreddit

<Transcript of the episode>

Box Office Success: Suicide Squad and Guardians of the Galaxy

Apparently today is a day to crunch sales numbers. In addition to the strong comic book sales for DC, we can also take a look at the very good week that Suicide Squad had at the box office. In addition to August records for opening weekend, it also posted some of the best weekdays ever for a superhero film.

Some of those prior records were held by Guardians of the Galaxy from Marvel Studios, and GotG is a good comparison for Suicide Squad because both movies were released in August (typically a much weaker box office month than May, June, and July) and both featured ensembles in a shared superhero universe. So let's take a closer look at GotG and Suicide Squad in terms of domestic box office performance (the Skwad hasn't opened yet in all international markets, and won't ever be opening in China, unlike GotG). The graph below shows cumulative domestic totals for both films.

EDIT: See bottom of this post for an updated graph with the second weekend estimates included.

Many of the blog posts about Suicide Squad have focused on the negative critical reviews or the disconnect between reviewers and movie fans. And appropriately, there were also a fair number of headlines pointing out the August opening record ($133.7 Million) set by Suicide Squad over the previous record holder GotG. (Before GotG, August movies were happy to hit $60 Million domestic.) But it's been unfortunate that more headlines have focused on the Friday-Sunday decline for Suicide Squad than the amazingly strong week Suicide Squad just posted. Its daily totals were consistently above mega-hits such as Batman v Superman, Captain America: Civil War, and Avengers: Age of Ultron.

All of that is to say that we should take a moment to appreciate at least the box office success of Suicide Squad, even if we have differing opinions on the quality of the movie. In the graph above, bear in mind that the blue line for GotG is the most successful August movie of all a wide margin. Let that sink in, and then take a look at the pink Skwad line. You'll see that the Skwad has already posted $179.1 Million before the second weekend, and GotG only had $176.4 Million after its second weekend. But what if Suicide Squad nosedives like Batman v Superman did? Well...

DC Comics Strong Sales for July 2016

DC Comics overtook Marvel Comics in comic book sales for July 2016 -- something that doesn't happen very often. As pointed out, DC has only led Marvel for 57 months out of the last 227 months, so only 25% of the time since 1997 when Diamond began releasing this information. And DC on top as been even rarer lately with Marvel's recent incorporation of the Star Wars comics and the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe over the last 8 years. The last time DC posted a higher sales month than Marvel was October 2013 when Forever Evil was getting started and Superman Wonder Woman #1 and Sandman Overture #1 were released. Batman #24, of course, was solid as well. DC also led sales in September 2013, which as "Villain month" (a Forever Evil tie-in) and had many extra issues that shipped.

Last month, DC posted 35% of the dollar share and Marvel had 34%, with Image trailing in third at 8%. Fans seem to be appreciating the new $2.99 price on all the main DC books because DC's unit share was actually 40% to Marvel's 36%, so comic readers bought substantially more issues from DC but did so at a lower average cost per issue.

Below is my previous graph that looks at market share on the year-to-year basis. You can see that in 2015 Marvel posted a 39% dollar share to DC's 26%. In June 2016, the first full month of DC's Rebirth, DC took a step forward with 29.9% dollar share, but things really seem to be paying off for DC in July, with the move up to 40% dollar share.

If DC can sustain at least a substantial portion of this gain, then there will be an uptick for 2016 in that year-to-year graph. They won't be able to overtake Marvel, because Marvel has already led for the first 6 months of 2016 by more than DC will be able to make up in the back half of the year, but it is still a good direction for DC. In short, the financial projections for DC Rebirth seem to be paying off, at least in the short term.

Let's look at some of the books that did particularly well.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Villains of Suicide Squad

Jason Book and I discuss the villains in Suicide Squad, including Amanda Waller, Enchantress, and the Joker. SPOILER WARNING

See also our non-spoiler review of the movie. I have since seen it again and raised my score to a 7.5/10.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Suicide Squad: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Jason Book and I share our (spoiler-free) reactions to Suicide Squad, directed by David Ayer. Overall we both thought the movie was really good, but not great. In this video, we go through our opinions about the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The video contains more content, but in short, I thought the good aspects were the characters (especially Deadshot, Harley and Joker, El Diablo, and Amanda Waller), the opening introductions, and the character-based denouement. Elsehwere, I have also started to unpack some of the movie's themes, and there is more there than I initially thought.

For me, the bad was that there were a few too many music cues with rock songs, the middle section dabbled in generic action territory, and I thought a couple emotional pay-offs were set up but not set up thoroughly enough. The ugly was probably just the mystical Enchantress in Midway City (not the smoky witch version... I liked those parts), but luckily Enchantress was actually just the tool of the real villain, Amanda Waller.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

JLU Scene-by-Scene: Suicide Squad Themes and Characters

This episode of the Justice League Universe podcast contains my initial reactions to Suicide Squad, directed by David Ayer.

  • Themes versus Subjects in Literature
  • Initial thoughts about themes in Suicide Squad (recognizing love as a human connection, friendship over leverage)
  • Waller as the villain
  • Comments on characters
  • Connections to the broader Justice League Universe
John Ostrander review
Mark Hughes review
Themes in the JLU
Thanks to @theLupeXperienc and @NickdeSemlyen on Twitter
Man of Steel Answers, Suicide Squadcast, DCU_Club subreddit

<Transcript of the episode>

Friday, August 5, 2016

Quick Reaction to Suicide Squad (No Spoilers)

Below are my quick, spoiler-free thoughts on Suicide Squad. But first, just before I went in to see Suicide Squad, we got the very strong numbers from Thursday night, with $20.5 Million domestically and it set several records in other countries. (Unfortunately, it looks like SS will not be showing in China, similar to what happened to Deadpool. This is probably a loss of about $70-80 Million in their worldwide total.) That $20.5M number is the largest for an August release and 13th largest ever. This, plus the strong presale numbers (locked in before the reviews were released), bodes well for the opening weekend.

Even if Suicide Squad has a similar Friday to Sunday drop as did BvS, the $20.5M Thursday still predicts a domestic opening of $122.9 Million! That would set a new August record by almost $30 Million. (BvS had $27.7M on Thursday and $166M for the weekend.) If it maintains a bit better than BvS, it could approach or clear $130 Million.

Quick Reaction:
I really enjoyed the movie, but it didn't hit me at the deeper levels that I appreciate in movies and novels. I do think there's an interesting theme to explore upon multiple viewings about love being a humanizing force that can connect people (they don't have to love one another, but if they recognize the love in the other, that can be the basis of a bond) and if one still has love, they still have a reason to live and are, in some sense, redeemable. But I'll have to give that more thought.

The movie definitely presents some memorable characters, some memorable scenes, and it has a unique visual style (if not a unique action/choreography style). I found myself fully engaged in the first 15-20 minutes with some very comics-inspired set-up, and I also really like from the bar scene onward, including an emotionally effective denouement. But in some of the middle sections, it flirted with generic action territory where the momentum seemed a bit forced.

I really liked Harley and Joker's storyline, and Will Smith worked well as Deadshot, in my opinion. It's hard to say much more without getting in to details, and I like to process movies for awhile, so I'll wrap it up here, but right now I feel like I could list a lot of things that I thought worked well about the movie but I could also list quite a few things that I thought were a bit off the mark. For example, Katana was underutilized and one villain (Waller) was much better than the other.

Overall, based on my first viewing and only a little bit of process time, I give Suicide Squad a 7/10, and I can't really see it going much higher than an 8 for me because I don't give many 9's or 10's (I've probably only given 25 out of 1000+ movies) and to reach that level, I would've needed to see some more literary motifs and more fully developed themes.

Addendum: I got to see it a second time and I caught many more foreshadowings and setups, so I'm increasing my rating to 7.5/10.

Justice League Comic-Con Footage

Jason Book and I discuss our reactions to the footage from Justice League that was shared at Comic-Con.

First of all, it was amazing that they showed this much footage for a film that is not being released until Fall 2017. Second, we were both pretty excited by what we saw, with the main purpose of this clip being to introduce the team and show some of Bruce's efforts to pull the team together.

Below is the clip from Warner Brothers. Justice League is directed by Zack Snyder and written by Chris Terrio.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

JLU Scene-by-Scene: Batman v Superman Scenes 51-53

This episode of the Justice League Universe podcast focuses on Martha's abduction, Batman and the bat signal, and Lois's abduction from Batman v Superman.

  • Martha Kent and Nancy Grace
  • Batman's meticulous fight preparation
  • The batsignal as an instigation for Superman
  • Batman as Lex's Knight
  • "Every time we say goodbye" song connection
  • Everything coming up Lex
Thanks to Alessandro Maniscalco

Suicide Squad Reviews

Man of Steel Answers, Suicide Squadcast, DCU_Club subreddit

<Transcript of the episode>

Processing the Suicide Squad Reviews

The review embargo for Suicide Squad, directed by David Ayer for Warner Brothers and DC Films, was lifted today. So I am going to use this blog post to process the reactions to this film from the movie critic community, similar to what I did with Batman v Superman. Please note that I will be focusing on Metacritic as a review aggregator, because Rotten Tomatoes is so misleading and misunderstoond, and I will also try to reference specific reviews as I am able to read and react to them.

Here's my prediction about Suicide Squad's success (prior to reviews).

4:49pm Central
Thus far Metacritic is registering 26 reviews and the average score out of 100 is sitting at 47. Thus far it is looking like a solidly average critical reception, with 7 positive reviews to 5 negative reviews, but a lot (14 out of 26) sitting in the middle and favoring 40 or 50 out of 100 instead of 50 to 60.

Bear in mind that there will probably be close to 50 total reviews when all is said and done, so we're only a little over halfway to a final average... but chances are very high that the average will end up somewhere between 40 and 55. In other words, we can be very confident already that it will be a middle to low reviewed film and it is NOT very likely that it will be in the red (below 40) or in the green (above 60).

I'm going to take a look at a few fairly reputable critics now...

5:01pm Central
Peter Travers from Rolling Stone seems to key on the fact that the "worst of the worst" are too redeemable and too likeable. This may be a matter of taste -- how bad does each audience member want the bad guys to be? In his review, he positions this as the filmmakers taking the safe way out rather than being truly daring with the movie. He loses respect from me quite a bit by the end, though, when he lobs needless insults at Ayer ("limp-dick") and says that Suicide Squad is worse than Fantastic Four. Now, I haven't seen the movie yet, but that still seems like hyperbole to me. He awarded a 25/100.

Brian Truitt from USA Today had a much more positive spin (88/100). He views the characters as rich and as having souls, even if they're villains -- and he views this as a good thing. This seems to confirm to me that the sympathetic take on the members of the Squad may really be a matter of taste. The main drawback that Truitt mentioned was simply wanting to see more of certain characters (e.g., Katana, the Joker), though he specifically praised Will Smith's performance, calling it his best in years.

5:37pm Central
No new reviews have been added to Metacritic in the last half hour, so the average is still 47/100.

Let's look at Richard Roeper, who is right around the average, giving a 50/100. He criticizes the movie for actions scenes that are non-innovative, some overly sentimental backstories, and he was not a fan of Robbie's performance as Harley Quinn. He also didn't seem to connect with Enchantress's character, but he gave some nods at the end of his review about some of the visual moments and some of the dynamics between characters (e.g., Deadshot and Flag). But overall, the review made it seem like he was going to give a worse score than 2 out of 4 stars.

Jamie Graham gave a 60/100 and called out the movies marketing as promising a more daring and unhinged movie than it delivered. Some of the character arcs are predictable, even if there are some good interactions between characters.

5:44pm Central
As usual, the reviews really seem to depend on what expectations the reviewer brought into the movie. If the expectations are met, then a film is reviewed more highly (and this is related to, but somewhat independent of the straight-up "quality" of the film). A pattern that I'm detecting in the reviews that I've read thus far is that people were expecting Suicide Squad to push the envelope farther than it actually did. They are dinging it for playing it relatively safe. Now, safe can still be well executed and good, but it may not be what some people were hoping for from this movie.

9:04pm Central
Only two more reviews have been added to Metacritic over the last 3 hours. There are 28 reviews in our of probably around 50 eventually, and the average is now 46 out of 100. One main thing I'm noticing is that a narrative is forming where Suicide Squad is being perceived by fans and opponents as being blasted by critics, or taking in overwhelmingly negative reviews. But it is not correct to talk about this as a negative reception --- thus far, it is a decidedly MIXED reception from critics. More than half of the reviews (15 out of 28) have given a mixed review, and there are more positive reviews (7) than negative (6). This, together with the average, paint a very clear picture of mixed reception.

A negative reception would have a plurality of reviews in the negative category, whereas SS has the least number of reviews in the negative category. A negative reception would lead to an average below 40, if not below 30. Instead, SS is mixed, which means rather than being a poorly made movie, it is very likely that it will be a matter of taste -- some people might connect with the tone, characters, and plot, whereas others might not connect with it at all. That means, for me at least, I am going to want to see it to find out for myself.