The first Guardians of the Galaxy was a huge success for Marvel, and I’m not just talking about box office receipts.
Naysayers worried about “the big risk” of making a movie with a talking raccoon and his companion, a talking tree with only one scripted line. It was the comic-book movie projected it to fail — a potentially huge failure to launch that had Hollywood analysts holding their heads in fear of the impending collapse of Marvel Studios’ cinematic universe.
But Guardians of the Galaxy soared despite being one of Marvel’s lesser-known comic book titles, and viewers were treated to the best Star Wars movie of this generation (Rogue One included). That raccoon and talking tree became the talk of the town, and merchandise sales added more to Disney’s coffers. A sequel was inevitable — failure, or no — and thanks to the successes of the first, the onus to get audiences to buy in has been tabled and replaced with the freedom to build up and off characters, settings, and major threats.
Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2 kicks off just as Peter Quill, aka Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), and company get ready to fulfill their latest job — inter-dimensional pest-control. Buoyed by their success in taking out Rohan the Accuser, the team has become the go-to group for solving galaxy-sized problems.
In the world of comics, Wonder Woman is no throw-away hero.
First appearing in comics in 1941, Wonder Woman was created by William Moulton Marston, a psychologist who helped invent the polygraph. Marston believed comics had incredible potential in terms of educating children, and he wanted to create a hero with a modus operandi that set him apart from his contemporaries — a hero who would conquer with love.
It was Marston’s wife Elizabeth who said the character should be female, and Marston based Wonder Woman’s physical appearance on his student and other significant other, Olive Byrne.
The rest is history. As part of DC’s famed Trinity, Wonder Woman is on par with Superman and Batman in terms of ability, leadership, and respect. Her comic has been continuously published for more than seven decades — minus a four-month absence — and she just celebrated her 75th anniversary.
So, it’s actually a wonder that it so long for Warner Bros. and DC to bring her to the silver screen. She first appeared in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, and I thought she was by far the best thing about the movie. Now, in her first solo outing, Wonder Woman gets her chance to show the cinematic world that she deserves her place amongst the World’s Finest.
Interesting how this all came about.
While the X-Men movies have basically been Wolverine-centric, it was X-Men Origins: Wolverine that featured the first onscreen appearance of the Merc With a Mouth — Deadpool — who eventually got his own solo movie that made a strong case for R-rated comic-book flicks.
Studios have traditionally shied away from restricting comic-book movies to adults because of financial reasons — toys, merchandise, and a larger audience filled with teens and children.
Which is, by James Mangold’s admission, why The Wolverine ended so badly — Logan fights a robot samurai and loses his claws, which somehow grow back.
Anyways, for what it’s worth, The Wolverine was better than Origins — though that’s not saying much. Origins was incredibly bad, and if I had to sit through it, I’d want the leaked version stripped of its special effects for educational reasons.
Batman’s foes have an existential crisis in his latest outing, The LEGO Batman Movie.
Kicking off with an amazing 10-minute song-and-punch introduction, the LEGO Batman Movie not only features a bevy of villains, known and obscure — Crazy Quilt and Killer Moth! — the movie also treads into interesting meta territory.
After Batman saves another day in Gotham City, he drops a bombshell on the Joker — the Dark Knight doesn’t think the Clown Prince of Crime is his greatest foe.
Teary-eyed, the devastated supervillain escapes and begins work on a new plan to get Batman’s attention.
Meanwhile, Bruce Wayne finds himself torn against a potential love interest and a new commissioner who sees Batman as a problem. Between bouts of love and anger at Commissioner Barbara Gordon’s new plans for the city, Bruce agrees to adopt the orphan Dick Grayson.
At last, the release of Suicide Squad — the movie at the top of my must-see list for 2016.
The first trailer previewed a rogues gallery of misfits — awesome and not — who become forced into some good ol’ fashioned do-goodery. The preview had a bit of humor, our first look at Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, and a shot of Batman hanging from the roof of a speeding getaway car.
The latest trailers gave us more of the same, but it was the delivery — they played like the best fan-made music videos. A helicopter launching flares as Brian May goes into full swing for his guitar solo in Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, or Sweet’s high-charged Ballroom Blitz in step with shots of pure kinetic energy.
Unfortunately, we’ve come into a golden age of trailers, where companies can cherry pick the best visuals, break open the plot, and piece together a TLDR version that can make a bad movie look good.
Somehow, people were tricked into seeing Fantastic Four — and half of the scenes in the trailer weren’t even in the movie!
On the strength of its casting, premise and top notch trailers — rumor has it, the final cut of the movie was completed by Trailer Park, the company that created the previews — Suicide Squad topped even Rogue One on the “Want to See” list, but no amount of editing could save a movie with a circular kind of logic that is a means and end to itself in all of the worst ways.