Zack Snyder vs the DC Universe

If you know anything about Zack Snyder’s body of work, you are probably quite familiar with the term “schlock.” So when it was announced that he was going to bring Alan Moore’s classic “Watchmen” to the big screen there was certainly a mixed reaction.

Initially I was hopeful about the project and, after seeing costume photos, thought it was going to be excellent. Then the reviews started coming in and my hopes sank. I watched it so I could judge it for myself, and I was largely left flat. It looked like the comic, no doubt there, but the movie itself was missing something.

The executives at Warner, however, decided that Snyder should be in charge of their Superman reboot, Man of Steel. And we got a grim, humorless superman who wrecks half a city battling another Kryptonian. Audiences were outraged by this devastation and the death of General Zod at Superman’s hands. But Snyder was then placed in charge of the long-anticipated team-up movie Batman vs Superman. And Snyder was also going to be given creative control over the entire DC Universe.

Personally I learn more towards Marvel than DC, both in terms of the comics and the films. The idea that Snyder would be given total control over the DC Cinematic Universe struck me as a rather bad idea given the reaction he was getting for previous work. Well, it’s that time of year again and Comic-Con has once again taken over San Diego. And, as has become custom, it was in Hall H that we first got to see the new, extended trailer for Batman vs Superman.

In spite of myself, I was impressed. It looked like he really had a goal when he made Man of Steel, and this movie is his explanation for those of us who didn’t get it. Zack Snyder has claimed that he wanted people to see the gritty consequences of a superhero fight, even those who don’t have superpowers, which is why Watchmen was so brutal. This is something that David Wong has harped on continuously, and yet, when Snyder delivers a movie where superhero fights have consequences, people are upset. So, to silence his critics he gives us a second act where Bruce Wayne watches two gods destroying a city, stands helplessly as these titans kill thousands.

While most people would be too awestruck to react, Bruce Wayne makes plans to take this threat down.

Here’s the story that I saw unfold in that 3 minute trailer:  Bruce Wayne watches helplessly as two godlike figures battle it out in a city and kill thousands of his employees. Wayne rushes headlong into the maelstrom to save his people.

Cradling a crying child he feels so small and pathetic and helpless. And he feels compelled to put on the suit again, a costume he abandoned some time ago. The reason why is in the form of a smaller costume, Robin, his sidekick. It’s been defaced, likely by the Joker. The implication is clear:  the joker murdered Robin and Batman hung it up. Shit was just too difficult after that.

Meanwhile Superman is being worshipped as a god by some, treated as a threat by others. People plan to use him, one way or another, to further their own agenda. Who will he trust?

And finally we see them face each other down, man to god.

It is logical and visually impressive. Yes, the Jessie Eisenberg version of Lex Luthor sounds dumb as shit, but I am interested in seeing where Zack Snyder is going to take this. Already, though, I think having Wonder Woman in the movie (as well as any other heroes except as part of a stinger) is a huge mistake, but only time reveals.

 

 

Nothing Lasts Forever

This is a sad truism of Existence: eventually everything falls apart. And when i say “everything” then I really mean that in the “encompasses all things in existence” sense of the word. Stars will die, buildings will crumble, civilizations will vanish.

This also applies to human creativity, loathe as many creative people are to admit it. Eventually you will run out of new ideas, eventually you will run out of GOOD ideas. And since all organizations have the exact same pathologies, it’s really only a matter of “when” and not “if.”

In the entertainment industry it’s called “Jumping the Shark” a reference to the seminal 80s sitcom “Happy Days” and an episode where Fonzi was going to ramp over a shark…kept in an underwater cage. You need to see this, in case you never have.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=t4ZGKI8vpcg#t=1s

Pretty awful, wasn’t it? Unfortunately, instead of serving as a stern warning to TV writers (and writers in general) it has instead become an example of stupid bullshit you can get away with because your audience just doesn’t fucking care. It was a lesson learned well by our good friends at the 24 hour news networks.

The trouble with 24 hour news coverage is an incredibly BASIC one: in order to do your job properly, you need to focus on one or two stories. If you are flooding your viewers with the several hundred news stories that occur every day, you are going to drown them in information and they will leave. So, instead, you limit it to a couple items and explore them in depth.

And look how well that has worked out for us. Looking at the situation in a completely objective way, both Fox and CNN do nothing to inform their audiences, and instead spend 90% of their time trying desperately to create drama to keep their audiences glued to the screen. And since stupid people outnumber intelligent people 4 to 1, it is a strategy that is working admirably.

And now we are seeing it happen to the Internet. Comedy megasite Cracked.com has been my favorite internet destination for about 5 years running. I go there for the articles, great videos, and quality research o various topics. David Wong runs a tight ship, and it is fucking great.

At least, it was.

Here’s a link to the Cracked video page. Ignore the videos that were NOT done in-house (this one) and you are left with 16 videos. Only two of which, are actually funny. And one is only funny because it is a Seinfeldian-Pointless-Yet-Funny sort of thing.

This is a seriously talented crew, look at some of their older stuff for proof of this. One of my personal favorites was from the “Those Aren’t Muskets” troupe.  And here’s another, riffing on the classic zombie thing. They are so good that it makes the current stuff look so much shittier, it’s like they aren’t trying any more. Cracked’s video team is now looking like Sylvester Stallone in Rocky III. A fat, lazy version of it’s youthful self, bloated on it’s own success and capitalizing on the fact that people love routine and so they will continue to go to Cracked on a daily basis because it is part of the ritual.

They recently added their first non-white columnist since Christina H stopped posting a few months back, and he was the first minority featured prominently in a Cracked video EVER, which is unfortunate for him because it was this one. The reason I bring it up is because I, personally, was tired of seeing articles about racism and sexism being written by an all-white, all-male editorial staff.

I am aware that Christi Harrison and Christina H are editors there, and Harrison is consistently funny. Christina H, on the other hand, rapidly wore out her welcome by saying stupid shit like telling people to make their own coffee to save money is stupid, because they might be too lazy to make their own. (I”m not making that up, by the way.) And, since it was Cracked she was contractually obligated to do a racism article, she complained about Asians being stereotyped as being intelligent and hard working.

This must be a living hell for her, because by her own admission, she is quite intelligent and unmistakably Asian. It must be a nightmare for her to be a living stereotype, especially since that stereotype virtually insures that Asians are never unemployed in the US.

I hope that this is only a rough patch on the road and not a sign that Cracked has gone the route of TV because, due to the rigorous citation standards needed to get published by Cracked, they are aware that there are sound scientific reasons for why TV is an intellectually vapid wasteland. A wasteland where outposts of idiocy are intensely popular, far more so than the oasis of intelligence that pop up here and there.