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

@JLU Podcast on Twitter


Sunday, March 19, 2017

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

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

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

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


Sunday, March 12, 2017

Two Overarching Questions about Batman v Superman

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, March 10, 2017

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

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

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

Man of Steel Answers, Suicide Squadcast
@JLUPodcast on twitter


Sunday, March 5, 2017

Update on Box Office Predictions

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, March 3, 2017

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

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

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

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

<Transcript of the episode>