Saturday, April 30, 2016

Musical Ties Between Man of Steel and Batman v Superman

It was great to have Hans Zimmer back as composer for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice following his magnificent score for Man of Steel, and now he was joined by the great Junkie XL, hot off of Mad Max: Fury Road.

There are several clear connections between the two scores, such as Clark's main theme (C-G, C-F, E) and the battle drums from the Black Zero Event, used during Bruce's scene in that same battle. But it's also been cool to uncover some of the more subtle links between the two scores. I wanted to share two of them here.

First, Man of Steel had the exhilarating piece "Flight" to encapsulate Superman learning to fly for the first time. The main themes from this piece showed up during the "Day of the Dead" sequence in Batman v Superman, but now it's tinged with sadness and melancholy as Superman is trying to deal with the sometimes troubling, sometimes deadly repercussions of his good intentions.

Second, Man of Steel had a great theme that was used for the final Superman/Zod battle, leading up to the ultimate decision of Superman killing Zod. If you follow the melody of this piece, it actually is used again in Batman v Superman. In BvS, it's also during the final battle scene, this time with Doomsday, and again it is Superman's ultimate decision that the entire movie has been leading up to, but this time the melody is set in a very dramatic, heart-wrenching style.

Amazing stuff, capturing the character development for Superman between the two movies.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Superman 51 and Batman Superman 31: Strong Start to the End of the New 52

Jason Book and I discussed the first two issues of "The Final Days of Superman" story arc, by Peter J. Tomasi. (Tomasi is also going to be the new writer on Superman Rebirth.)

We liked the issues a lot and it seems like this is going to be a great story, even if it is the end of the New 52 Superman.

Since recording this video, Action Comics 51 and Superman Wonder Woman 28 have continued the story arc. Those issues are really good, too. In Action, Superman meets back up with Supergirl in National City at the DEO (comics/TV synergy!) and wants her to take over for him as a super protector. Then in S WW we see the state of Superman and Wonder Woman's relationship (they had been dating for a couple years but hit a rough patch in Truth a few months ago) and they also confront the Red fake-Superman and talk to Ulysses again at ARGUS. The arc continues to have good character moments together with rising action and intrigue about the Red Superman and whatever's happening in China.

Revising my Box Office Predictions for 2016

Back in February, before the release of Deadpool -- the first of 7 comic book movies -- I gave my full list of box office predictions. I thought Deadpool would be a hit, but it was even bigger than I predicted. And now Batman v Superman is a full month into it's run, so I wanted to give an update.

Seeing Batman v Superman's performance thus far, I now think that I had BvS and Civil War precisely backwards. And in hindsight, I should have tempered my expectations for BvS because of the fact that Snyder and Terrio's style is more literary and not-your-typical-blockbuster-structure and so it's not going to roll in the money like Jurassic World or Transformers. Civil War, on the other hand, looks like it will perform very much like an Avengers movie without the slight fatigue that I predicted back in February. So now I think Civil War will be the one around $1.25 Billion, and BvS will be the one around $900 Million. (Hindsight 20-20.)

BvS is at about $855 Million worldwide right now, which is really solid given that it's not especially family friendly (themes are fairly adult) and it's more of a philosophical drama than a popcorn action flick. I think it's going to have at least 4 more weeks of box office returns, and I think conservative worldwide estimates for those weeks are $13M, $7M, $4.5M, and $2.5M. So that would be, conservatively, another $27 Million for a grand total of around $880 Million. Because of tax write-offs, licensing, and eventual home media sales, Forbes estimated $500 Million worldwide as the break-even point and $800 Million as the happy place. It looks like they will be a healthy number above that $800 Million, but the psychological number of $1 Billion isn't in the cards. I, for one, am glad that they allowed the creative vision to go forward rather than imposing a more crowd-pleasing approach to try to surpass $1 Billion.

I also think the BvS move from May to March was very smart, business-wise. It's legs weren't great even with a month to itself, so it would have suffered and not had the 4th biggest opening of all time if it had been competing with the early summer May blockbusters.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

JLU Scene-by-Scene: Batman v Superman Scenes 11 and 12

This episode covers Scene 11 (Wallace Keefe's vandalism) and Scene 12 (Daily Planet reaction to the vandalism) of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, directed by Zack Snyder.

  • How does Wallace Keefe's vandalism fit with Lex's plans?
  • What are some ideas behind Superman's statue design?
  • How does the Daily Planet react to the vandalism and what does it reveal about public sentiment to Superman?
  • Theme: Power corrupts, but powerlessness can corrupt even more.
  • Pacing issues: Why were these two scenes inserted into Lex's meeting with the Senators? What are people's pacing complaints for the first third of the movie?

Thursday, April 21, 2016

JLU Scene-by-Scene: Batman v Superman Scene 10

This episode of the Justice League Universe podcast focuses on Lex Luthor's introduction and his first meeting with Senator Finch and Senator Barrows.

What is the foundation of Lex's character? What's the deal with his dad?

How are "Ahoy-hoy" and East Germany related?

Why does Lex ask the Senators for the import license?

Why is the "kindness of monsters" line so brilliant?

Link to Man of Steel Answers, Pulpklatura, Suicide Squadcast.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Batman v Superman Fans Dealing with Civil War

Jason Book and I share some advice for the many Warner Bros / DC Films fans who will be faced with potential bullying or demeaning comments as the sure-to-be-successful Captain America: Civil War is released.

The two of us really enjoyed Batman v Superman, and I personally see it as a masterpiece when I actually go through the details and the depth of the movie. But loving BvS does not mean we have to be anti-Marvel, and hopefully Marvel fans realize that they can be positive about their movies without having to bash DC Films (although, unfortunately, it looks like quite a few critics and fans are taking the low road).

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Character Arcs in Batman v Superman: Bruce and Clark

A few days ago, Jason Book and I discussed some minor quibbles we had with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, but overall we both really enjoyed the movie. One of its strongest features is the deep character development, especially for Bruce, Clark, and Lex.

Because Man of Steel Answers so thoroughly covered Lex's character motivations and machinations, we focused our conversation below on Batman and Superman's character arcs in the movie.

I thought it was great not only how much richness there was to these two characters, but also how the two played off each other and affected each other profoundly by the end, especially Superman inspiring and redeeming Batman.

JLU Scene-by-Scene: Batman v Superman Scenes 8 and 9

This episode of the Justice League Universe podcast covers Bruce and Alfred's first conversation ("New rules?") and the interstitial where Clark is cooking breakfast and see a news report about the "Gotham bat."

  • Scene 8 gives the audience some breathing room. The batcave uses suspension in a clever way.
  • What do we learn about the goal of Bruce's detective work?
  • What do we learn about Alfred?
  • If Batman is operating under "new rules," what were the old rules?
  • In Scene 9, Clark finally gets to cook, and he watches his first news report.
  • I close the episode by making a few additional observations about scenes 1-7.
You can find all the podcast episodes on iTunes or at

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Ways Batman v Superman Could Have Been Even Better

Jason Book really liked Batman v Superman. I personally LOVED it. But we did have a conversation (below) about aspects of the movie that could have been improved.

I could actually only come up with 4 minor tweaks. It was such a good movie! Many of the complaints I've seen from other people don't hold up for me, because they are either just a difference of opinion ("make it more fun") or because that person has missed the point ("why would Lex release Doomsday?").

It would have been nice to see an additional scene of Clark Kent investigating the Batman (might be on the ultimate cut). I also would have liked to see another early set-up scene of Martha Kent (also maybe on the ultimate cut). I thought Lois should've warned Martha when she figured out Lex knew Clark's identity (maybe she did, just off screen). And I thought the placement of Wonder Woman opening the JL files interrupted the momentum a bit (but I liked the way they handled JL overall).

Check out my podcast breaking down each scene of BvS.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

JLU Scene-by-Scene: Batman v Superman Scene 7

This episode of the Justice League Universe podcast covers the bat branding scene with the Gotham police officers -- our first scene with Batman!

  • Why is Batman branding criminals?
  • What does this confirm about his character, following up on Scenes 1 and 2?
  • How did the filmmakers build suspense in this scene?
  • How does this scene connect to the theme of pure good and evil?
  • "Don't shoot the good guys"

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Batman v Superman: Filling In the Purported Plot Holes

Some people have been claiming that their enjoyment of Batman v Superman was hindered by what they perceived to be plot holes. While some recent blockbusters have had many, many plot holes, I'm pleased to say that BvS is not one of them.

I'm going to run through the 9 purported plot holes from Looper. Although I do not doubt that the Looper author was confused by these things, I do not think they hold up as real plot holes. (So a fair criticism would be that BvS was difficult to follow, but an unfair criticism would be to say that it didn't make sense.)

Here is an audio version of the text below.

Lex ran tests on Zod's body but then tried to secure possession of Zod's body. Wait, didn't he already have access to the body? This is not a contradiction. A plausible explanation is that Lex's scientists had temporary access to Zod's body but that the body was still in the government's possession. What Lex was negotiating for was more access or a greater extent of access to the corpse. Ultimately, Lex ends up getting the entire corpse to use for his own purposes in the scout ship.

Top 5 Anticipated Series for DC Rebirth

Jason Book and I discuss the comic book series we are most looking forward to based on the DC Comics Rebirth creative team announcement.

Here is our list:
  • Supergirl, Steve Orlando and Brian Ching
  • Suicide Squad, Rob Williams, Jim Lee, and Philip Tan
  • Green Lanterns, Sam Humphries, Robson Rocha, and Ardian Syaf
  • Superman, Peter Tomasi, Patrick Gleason, and Doug Mahnke, and New Super-Man, Gene Yang and Viktor Bogdanovic
  • Batman, Tom King, David Finch, and Mikel Janin, and All-Star Batman, Scott Snyder, John Romita Jr, Jock, and others

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

JLU Scene-by-Scene: Batman v Superman Scenes 5 and 6

In the latest episode of the Justice League Universe podcast, I talk about the Senate hearing on the African incident and Lois and Clark's scene in their apartment.

These scenes explicitly state the theme for Superman's character which is that his good deeds come at a cost and he has to find ways to cope with the negative repercussions that follow even his good intentions. I also, at the end of the episode, explain how the apartment scene can be interpreted as an attempt to insert a Christopher Reeve version of Superman, and the version quickly breaks down because this world is taking things seriously and there are issues to deal with based on the African incident -- no time for campy comedy.

DC Films Box Office Success

A lot of people are raising alarm bells about Warner Brothers' Justice League Universe because Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice had a steep decline from its first to second weekend. But let's remember that not every film is going to be Star Wars Episode VII. Batman v Superman has already made more than $680 Million in less than two weeks.

Now, I love the Justice League Universe thus far, but I also like the Marvel Cinematic Universe just fine. So this is not meant to bash one in favor of the other, but for a bit of perspective, let me put a few facts right here:
  • Man of Steel ($668 Million), the first movie in the Justice League Universe, made more money than each of the Phase 1 MCU movies except The Avengers.
  • Batman v Superman ($681 Million and rising), the second movie in the Justice League Universe, has already made more money than 7 out of the 12 MCU movies and it should easily surpass Cap 2 and GotG, putting it above 9 out of the 12 MCU movies. The only ones earning more would be The Avengers, Iron Man 3, and Age of Ultron.
So this is a very strong start for WB's shared universe. Looking ahead, the social media buzz for Suicide Squad has been very positive and BvS has greatly increased the anticipation for the Wonder Woman standalone movie next year. It seems to me to be very possible that each of the four WB/DC films leading up to Justice League could make more money than most of the MCU films, and then we'll see if Justice League can perform similar to The Avengers.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Batman v Superman Box Office: Second Weekend

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice had a great opening weekend, pulling in $166 Million domestically, with strong international numbers as well. Overall, it was the 4th biggest opening weekend of all time, and they did it in March with negative reviews hanging over their head! (I, for one, love the movie and think it was very well made. And over the past week the social media buzz has been very positive, disagreeing with the critics. Only 10% of the tweets were negative.)

But one cannot deny that the film is divisive. Many fans love it, some feel disappointed by it, and some seem to have things that went right over their heads. So that is leading to a lot of attention on its second weekend. How big will the drop be?

It is now looking like the second weekend drop will be around 71% domestically. Part of this is a testament to the massive opening weekend, because the percentage is calculated based on that opening total. But Warner Brothers would have certainly liked to have seen something closer to the typical big blockbuster drop-off of around 65%. I would still say, however, that BvS is on track for a very successful run. Another WB picture, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 2) opened very similarly to BvS ($169 Million domestic) and had an even bigger drop-off in the second weekend (72%). That movie still managed to pull in $1.3 Billion worldwide.

I do not think BvS will make it to $1.3 Billion, but the precedent set by HP8 should give some comfort to those who want to see it do well, and I think BvS clearing $1 Billion is still very possible. In other good news, it has a few more weeks without direct competition, until The Jungle Book comes out on April 15th. I wish it would beat Iron Man 3 at the box office because I think BvS is far superior, but it's currently tracking a little bit behind. So my original box office prediction at the beginning of the year probably won't work out.