It’s no secret that I love superheroes. Superhero-based concepts and tropes wouldn’t keep showing up in my writing if they hadn’t been a big influence on me. It’s also no secret that when it comes to superhero movies, there’s really only one name worth caring about at the moment: the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
DC keeps trying to make movies and they keep just not turning out particularly well. Same for other people who license Marvel characters, with the occasional exception of the X-Men. (Yes, yes, I know, The Dark Knight was massively successful. But can anyone honestly say it would have had as much success and acclaim on its own merits, if it hadn’t been for the untimely death of Heath Ledger right as the film was coming out? It’s not at all difficult to craft a honest, accurate plot synopsis of The Dark Knight that makes it sound like you’re talking about the first Spider-Man film.)
Apparently DC’s trying to change that. Buoyed by the success of The Dark Knight, and the (much more modest) success of the similarly dark Man of Steel, they’re working on trying to put together their own Avengers Justice League film, featuring Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. They recently came out with the second trailer, and I sort of have to wonder.
First off, it feels a lot like “I’ve seen this plot before.” Hero meets hero. Hero disagrees with hero’s methods. Tension mounts between hero and hero, hero and hero fight. Hero and hero join together to fight villain, and they live happily ever after, or at least end up getting along reasonably well. I mean, that’s only the story of essentially every superhero teamup ever!
Also, at about 1:10, Clark and Bruce are having a bit of a “I just met you and I already don’t like you” moment, which is abruptly interrupted by this annoying long-haired kid with a slightly high voice and too-pale skin. From the way the trailer was focusing on him, I thought “obviously this is someone significant,” but it totally threw me for a loop when he introduced himself as “Lex,” because this guy looks and acts nothing like Lex Luthor; he’s not nearly old enough, bald enough, or self-confident enough. It’s like… he’s even less of a proper Lex Luthor than Man Of Steel‘s Superman was a proper Superman.
So anyway, Supes and Batman start going at it, only to be interrupted by what appears to be the spawn of Doomsday and Godzilla, which appears to have been… created by Lex?!? DoomZilla fires an Atomic Breath attack at both heroes, which is barely held off at the last moment by… a hero with an indestructible shield? No, wait, it’s a heroine with an indestructible shield, a tiara, and leather armor, and we close with them all standing together to confront DoomZilla.
Well, I wasn’t expecting Wonder Woman. And I certainly wasn’t expecting the person behind the shield to be Wonder Woman! I’ve never heard of her using a shield, and the word “shield” does not appear anywhere in her TVTropes page. On her Wikipedia page, the word appears twice, but only as part of the explanation that her bulletproof bracelets were made from Athena’s shield.
First thought, upon seeing Wonder Woman: Good thing she’s got the tiara, or you could be forgiven for mistaking her for an entirely different heroine. I mean, seriously, if they’re going to put her in a fanservice leather armor outfit that looks like the costuming department did their honest best attempt to copy Xena’s armor, they should at least have the decency to cast Lucy Lawless in the role.
Second thought, upon doing a bit of checking and finding out that they’re working on a solo movie for her that involves her fighting in World War I: OK, now the round shield makes more sense, considering that she’s teaming up with a flying alien with godlike powers and a billionaire genius inventor with a high-tech fighting suit. Now all they need is to bring in the Green Arrow, Black Canary and… umm… well, crap, DC doesn’t have a Hulk equivalent, do they? Even so, there’s a strong I’ve seen this movie before vibe to all this. It’s hard to shake the impression that this is going to be a goodkinded version of The Avengers.
(For those unfamiliar with the term, it means to blatantly copy a significant level of thematic and plot elements from an earlier, successful work, throw them in a blender and puree for a while, mix in a few tablespoons of Grimdark Sauce and try to pass the resulting product off as an original creative work. Notable goodkinded works include Terry Goodkind’s The Sword of Truth, (from The Wheel of Time,) Peter Brett’s Demon Cycle, (from David Farland’s The Runelords,) and Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight (from the first Spider-Man film). It’s a bit depressing how often this technique is successful.)
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a DC hater or anything. They’ve produced some great characters and stories over the years, and in the present time I really enjoy the TV shows The Flash and Supergirl. But when it comes to making movies, they just can’t seem to get it right the way the folks at Marvel have.
I’ll probably go see Dawn of Justice when it comes out anyway, but I don’t have particularly high expectations for it.