ORBzine - DC Superheroes Movie Reviews

TITLE & REVIEW

Batman Franchise

Batman (1966)

Batman (1966) This is the feature-length big-budget version of the camp 1960s TV show. Batman and Commissioner Gordon do not know which super-criminals are at large, so they have a minion check the records. Hence the existence of Police Chief O'Hara, a negative racial stereotype of Oirish-Americans. A decade later and this role would become standard for African-American men, thanks to Starsky and Hutch. As a result of the expostionary records check we learn that the Penguin (Burgess Meredith - Santa Claus: The Movie ) is a master of Fowl play. Organised crime must pay well, because he can afford to have purchased a World War Two-era submersible and modified it into a penguin-shaped Polaris submarine!

The Penguin has recruited the other super-crooks to join his scheme. The Joker and the Riddler are unimpressive. Selina Kyle ( Lee Meriwether ) tells a henchman not to call her Catwoman in public because it is her real name. She also disguises herself by putting on a Russian accent and wearing a leopard-skin coat. One hopes that it is fake fur, or that the leopard died of natural causes. Still, her normal costume comes with six-inch heels so she can hardly be called a practical dresser. Catwoman's mission is to seduce Bruce Wayne, so he can be kidnapped. He is probably a forty-year-old virgin, so it is not a difficult chore.

Batman and Robin are not masked vigilantes like in the Western movies. They have been deputised as members of the Gotham City Police, so they can afford to take a dim view of the unnamed Zorro and Lone Ranger. Robin has blind faith in the City police force. However, Batman learns that The Powers That Be are not above reproach. For example, the Pentagon sold Penguin the submarine without even checking for his home address or his full name. Where he got the giant flying umbrella-bikes from is never explained.

The Security Council of the United Nations is meeting in Gotham, as opposed to Metropolis. All delegates are wearing their national costumes. They are too stupid to notice that they are being kidnapped by force. The technology the villains use is dehydration, which turns people into transportable dust. However, there are unforseen complications involving dust spillage and heavy water.

  • Batman (1988)
  • Batman Begins
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    Batman Forever (1995)

    Batman Forever (1995) This is the third part in a series started by Tim Burton . However, it marks a serious down-turn in the series' quality. Burton is reduced to a Producer's credit, and Joel Schumacher is in the Director's chair.

    Two-Face AKA Harvey Dent (Tommy Lee Jones - Captain America ) has gone on a crimewave, assisted by some stuntmen and a couple of hot girls - Sugar ( Drew Barrymore ) and Spice ( Debi Mazar ). He uses a helicopter to lift a massive bank vault as easily as if it were a movie prop made of plywood.

    Commissioner Gordon (Pat Hingle - ) cannot simply arrest the criminals. Instead he calls in a couple of consultants - Batman AKA Bruce Wayne (Val Kilmer - Willow ) and top psychological profiler Dr Chase Meridian ( Nicole Kidman ). They quickly forget about catching the crooks too, and start dating. Yes, this gritty revenge thriller is now an action comedy about a man who dates his shrink.

    Wayne disrespects his top scientist, Ed Nygma (Jim Carey - Earth Girls Are Easy ). Unfortunately, this just inspires Nygma to take his research and start a rival company. Presumably this world has no intellectual property laws, because the research should legally be WayneCorp property. Nygma has made a device that can project images into the user's head. Soon he mass-produces them, and sells enough to have one in every home in Gotham. This fits well into the 1950s-style setting, and mirrors the growing popularity of Television in the post-WW2 era. However, Nygma's system allows him to read the user's mind - and his ultimate target is Bruce Wayne himself.

    A night at the circus turns bad, and circus acrobat Dick Grayson (Chris O'Donnell - ) gets orphaned. Wayne takes the kid in, and sets Alfred (Michael Gough - Satan's Slave ) as a babysitter. Grayson works out that Alfred is hiding something, because of the mysterious locked closet that attracts attention. It turns out that the locked door just draws notice to the secret sliding shelves in the closet, so Alfred would have been better off not locking it in the first place. Anyway, Grayson takes the batmobile for a joy-ride and tries to get freebies off some streetwalkers.

    This movie had a lot of potential. Batman and Robin are both motivated by revenge for the deaths of their parents. Two-Face and Riddler are obsessed with revenge over imagined slights at the hands of Bruce Wayne/Batman. However, this powerful theme is lost amid the cheesy sets and toy-orientated vehicle designs.

  • Batman (1989)
  • Batman Begins
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    Batman: Year One (2011)

    Batman: Year One (2011) Lieutenant Gordon (Bryan Cranston - Total Recall (2012) ) and his pregnant wife move to Gotham City. Except for his female partner ( Katee Sackhoff ), it turns out that all the cops in town are corrupt as hell.

    Bruce Wayne (Ben McKenzie - Gotham ) returns from his years of arduous training abroad. Now he decides to put it to good use, and becomes a masked vigilante. Meanwhile, Selina Kyle ( Eliza Dushku ) gets tired of life as a prostitute and decides to become a cat-burglar instead.

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    Batman: Mystery Of The Batwoman (2003)

    Batman: Mystery Of The Batwoman (2003) Gotham has a new vigilante in town - the mysterious and murderous Batwoman ( Kyra Sedgewick ). Like Harley Quinn, she is a cartoon character who later went mainstream in the comics.

    Batman needs to find out who the new vigilante is before she kills someone. Batgirl AKA Barbara Gordon ( Tara Strong ) is away at college, so she has an alibi. However, there are three new female characters. Bruce Wayne has lunch with the blonde scientist ( Kelly Ripa ) and dinner with the brunette rich girl. Batman meets with the third female, Police Detective Bullock's new partner.

    Penguin (David Ogden Stiers - Dead Zone ) has teamed up with some more mainstream gangsters - a loan shark and an enforcer. They actually add some depth to the usual two-dimensional villains. Unfortunately the Batwoman is targeting them.

    Penguin calls in some backup - Bane, the only one who can match Batman. Unlike the silent version from Batman and Robin (1997) or the strange-voiced one in The Dark Knight Rises (2015) , this version of Bane is a Mexican wrestler!

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    Batman: Gotham Knight (2008)

    Batman: Gotham Knight (2008) This is a collection of short stories, animated in manga style. The result is a bit more mature than the average child-friendly cartoon.

  • Man, Have I Got A Story For You Guys
    A group of skater kids talk about their personal encounters with Batman. Of course, the kids are obviously exaggerating things to ridiculous proportions.

  • Crossfire
    Gotham's underworld, traditionally ruled by the Italian-American Moroni family, is now being moved in on by the Russian mob. Lieutenant Gordon sends his two best detectives to escort a Batman victim to Arkham Asylum. Unfortunately they get caught in the middle of a street battle between the organised crime families.

  • Field Test
    Lucius Fox gives the young Bruce Wayne a new gadget, a portable EMP. It is meant to deflect bullets, like in Live And Let Die . Wayne uses it to play a practical joke on Ronald Marshal, a businessman suspected of hiring Deadshot to kill a community activist called Teresa Williams. Why he would use a top-dollar out-of-town killer on such a low-risk job is never explained.

    Batman targets two super-yachts, each forty feet long, moored in Gotham City's harbour. Yes, Don Moroni and his Russian rival (imaginatively named The Russian) have been secretly hiding out as neighbours. Now Batman lets them fight it out between themselves.

  • In Darkness Dwells
    Lieutenant Gordon and his two top detectives investigate when Cardinal O'Fallon is abducted from Gotham cathedral by a massive scaly lizard-man. Batman follows the trail into the sewers, to rescue the Cardinal from Killer Croc and Scarecrow.

  • Working Through Pain
    Batman gets wounded with a gut-shot. In his pain, he remembers his younger days in the Far East. First he worked as a medical assistant in a makeshift hospital where abdominal surgery was performed without anaesthetic. Later, when turned down by the Fakirs, he becomes student to a woman who calls herself Cassandra.

    Alfred (David McCallum - ) tries to talk Batman to safety. However, despite Cassandra's teachings he cannot unburden himself.

  • Deadshot
    The Russians hire Deadshot to take out Gotham's top law enforcer. Everyone assumes this is not Batman himself, but Lieutenant Gordon. Although Batman has decided not to wear the bullet-bouncing EMP unit, this might be a useful modification to Gordon's police car.

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    Batman: Assault on Arkham (2014)

    Batman: Assault on Arkham (2014) Suicide Squad is ordered to infiltrate Arkham Asylum. The Joker takes the opportunity to stage a breakout attempt.

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    Son of Batman (2014)

    Son of Batman (2014) Ras Al Ghul (Giancarlo Esposito - Revolution ) and his family are hanging out in his remote fortress. Despite it being filled with sword-wielding ninja assassins, it is attacked by an army of masked intruders. The attackers have assault rifles with high-end telescopic sights. However, their tactics involve getting close enough so the enemy can attack them with swords, then fire from the hip while missing most of the time. Luckily the defenders are equally incompetent. Talia ( Morena Baccarin ) is the only one who can actually put up a fight. She uses a hand-cranked gattling-gun that shoots arrows instead of bullets. There is also a battery of trebuchets that would make the Ewoks in Star Wars: Return Of The Jedi turn green with envy. These are effective anti-aircraft artillery, and take down at least one of the attackers' blackhawk helicopters.

    Meanwhile, Talia's ten-year-old son Damien is such a skilled warrior he can actually fight Slade Wilson (Thomas Gibson - Dharma And Greg) to a draw. Seriously, talk about overpowered characters. This is the only redeeming thing about Damien's insufferable arrogance - the fact that he is really as skilled as he thinks he is. Which is useful, when his mother drops him off with his father.

    Batman (Jason O'Mara - ) is busy investigating break-ins at pharmaceutical labs. This would not be a problem if he paid his taxes and let the Police do their job, or just hired enough security guards to protect his businesses. The burglar is Killer Croc ( Suicide Squad ), an unfortunate man who has been mutated by chemicals and needs medication in order to survive. Batman claims to be against killing, but he tortures and mutilates Killer Croc. Later on he blows up a group of mutated man-bats, so he does not regard mutant life as highly as that of regular humans. He would have made a great Purifier in The Gifted .

    Batman accuses Talia of drugging and raping him. However, he accepts responsibility for his new offspring. What this really means is that Alfred (David McCallum - ) and Nightwing (Sean Maher - Serenity ) are pressed into duty as reluctant babysitters.

    Deathstroke's plans involve a Gotham-based scientist named Langstrom (Xander Berkley - Barb Wire ), who is an expert in mutagenic chemicals. The idea is to turn Slade's ninja army into Man-Bats, which would give them super-powers like flying and sonar for night-vision.

    The villain's lair turns out to be an abandoned oil rig fifty miles off the coast of Scotland. Not in the North Sea, with all the other oil rigs, but in the Outer Hebrides on the wrong coast of Scotland.

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    Batman Vs Robin (2015)

    Batman Vs Robin (2015) Batman (Jason O'Mara - ) has a new sidekick - his own pre-teen son, Damien, who was trained as a merciless assassin by his grandfather Ras Al Ghul. Unfortunately the boy will not take orders from his father.

    Bruce Wayne is dating a hot blonde socialite, Samantha Vanderberg ( ). Unfortunately he gets expertly cock-blocked by his offspring. Bruce Wayne is not exactly parent material, since he was an only child who got orphaned at a young age and raised by Alfred the butler (David McCallum - ). Luckily Nightwing, AKA Dick Grayson, is available as a baby-sitter.

    Batman investigates the fabled Court of Owls, who he once suspected of ordering the murder of his parents. It turns out that they are real, and have an army of zombie ninjas to do their bidding.

    The Court's assassin is a super-soldier codenamed Talon. He tries to recruit Damien. On the face of it, the Court merely wants to help Batman fight crime. In reality, they want to control the city by killing poor people. These are the rich villains who benefit from tax cuts instead of investing in the city's public services.

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    Batman: Bad Blood (2016)

    Batman: Bad Blood (2016) Batman (Jason O'Mara - ) gets abducted by Talia Al Ghul ( Morenna Baccarin ). Their son Damien, the new Robin, is also targeted for kidnapping.

    Dick Grayson, now Nightwing but formerly the first Robin, puts on the bat-cowl so the city of Gotham does not go without its symbol of hope. He has some backup, in the form of new members of the Bat family. Batwoman ( Yvonne Strahovski ), formerly a joke character, is now a serious one. There is also a token black guy in an Iron Man suit, Lucius Fox's son who goes by the imaginative name of Batwing.

    The heroes do not stop to consider the age-old trope of mind-control. Nor do they get suspicious when a group of VIPs are gathered together in one place, making them a prime target for super-villainy.

    This movie actually kills off a few minor members of Batman's rogue's gallery. The good news is that the climax features a great cat-fight between Talia and Batwoman, which takes us back to the days when women heroes fought women villains almost exclusively. After all, if two fighters are of equal skill then the stronger and heavier one will win.

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    Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders (2016)

    Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders (2016) This is a cartoon version of the camp 1960s TV show, voiced by the surviving original performers! It does not even attempt to take itself seriously, and there are many in-jokes and references to the original show's deficiencies.

    Catwoman teams up with the other supervillains in the rogue's gallery. Batman and Robin have to follow the clues, including some riddles that are convoluted almost beyond belief. Catwoman's interplay with Batman is something to watch out for. Although she is voiced by Julie Newmar , at one stage Batman is knocked on the head and sees all THREE cat-women from the original series. Later, catwoman offers to give up her life of crime if Batman agrees to run away with her to Europe where they can sip wine in cafes all day (like in Dark Knight Rises ). Holy unsatisfying ending, Batman!

    The villains want to steal something called the replica ray. It is an item the size of a submachinegun, but it can scan and then 3-D print an exact copy of any item. Basically a super-powerful replicator that the residents of the Star Trek universe can only dream of.

    The Cold War gets a mention. The Soviet bloc, in the form of a country named Belgravia, launches a rocket on a supply run to a massive space station they built in orbit. Somehow the villains stow away.

    Bruce Wayne begins to act very out of character. He becomes very selfish and cynical, which is an entertaining change from his usual patronising self. Eventually he cracks, throwing the freeloaders out of his home and degrading the incompetent public officials who do such a terrible job of running the city. After all, they are responsible to the tax-payers, and Bruce Wayne probably pays most of the city's tax bill. Or at least, he ought to.

    The corrupt Batman uses the replicator ray to copy himself, and soon controls the city with an army of copies. Robin and Cat-woman must team up to save Gotham.

  • Batman (1988)
  • Batman Begins
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    Batman: The Killing Joke (2017)

    Batman: The Killing Joke (2017) This is adapted from an infamous graphic novel by Alan Moore , the creative mind behind such unorthodox comic-book stories as Watchmen . In order to pad this out to feature length, a second storyline has been added. It contextualises the consequences of the

    The first half of the movie is narrated by Batgirl herself, and concerns a gangster who became romantically obsessed with her. He combines a violent takeover of the Gotham mob with attempts to flirt with her. Meanwhile, Batgirl obsesses over (and has sex with) her mentor - Batman himself!

    The second half is the real storyline. The Joker (Mark Hamill - Star Wars: ANH ) escapes from Arkham Asylum, and goes after Commissioner Gordon (Ray Wise - Twin Peaks ). Batgirl's role is less damsel in distress, more woman in refrigerator.

    The Joker wants to illustrate to Gordon and Batman that all it takes for a sane person to become insane is one bad day. His plan is to drive Gordon insane. Meanwhile, Batman has come to realise that sooner or later he must either kill the Joker or be killed by him.

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    Justice League Vs Teen Titans (2016)

    Justice League Vs Teen Titans (2016) This is part of a series of Justice League animated movies. It does not follow the chronology of the DC movies series.

    The JLA defeat the Legion of Doom in a battle outside the newly-opened Hall of Justice. However, a demon named Trigan is somehow released. He starts to possess people, and make them do his evil bidding.

    Robin is removed from the JLA and re-assigned to a team his own age - the Teen Titans. He is an arrogant little git who pushes everyone's limits. Of course, he must learn to work with his new team-mates.

    The JLA get possessed by the demons. In order to save the world, the Teen Titans must face them. Of course, as the junior team they are not in the same league, and get their asses handed to them with ease. All this means that the story works, as the characters have to develop their skills and abilities in order to complete their quest.

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    Justice League Dark (2017)

    Justice League Dark (2017) This is part of a series of Justice League animated movies. It does not follow the chronology of the DC movies series. Both the content and subject matter are for mature viewers, since there is a lot of swearing and topics such as suicide and child endangerment.

    The Justice League investigate a series of incidents which involve people going crazy and seeing demonic entities. Since there is no apparent scientific explanation, the obvious assumption is a magical one. Batman rejects this at first, stating that it is merely making excuses for the criminally insane.

    Batman recruits a team of magic-users to hunt down the wizard responsible. The first recruit is Constantine , the Garth Ennis creation who is so popular he got his own movie and TV show. Zatanna, a much longer-lived character who is usually restricted to guest appearances in other shows, is also included as the token woman. Swamp Thing also makes an appearance.

    The regular JLA fall victims to the halucinogenic curse. This is a convenient excuse for the new team to face off against them in the old team.

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    The Death Of Superman (2018)

    The Death Of Superman (2018)

  • 2000
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    Reign of the Supermen (2019)

    Reign of the Supermen (2019)

  • 2000
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    Wonder Woman (2009)

    Wonder Woman (2009) This animation pre-dates the Gal Gadot movie, but has pretty much the same plot. The main difference is that it is set in the modern day, and not in the historical era of the First World War. Because of that, it actually makes more sense. Most of the other movie's plot holes seem to come from inserting the story into the historical period.

    Steve Trevor (Nathan Fillion - Serenity ) crash-lands his experimental F-22 jet on Themiscyra. The good news is that the Amazon Queen ( Virginia Madsen ) agrees to send him home, and Diana ( Keri Russell ) is chosen to be his escort. Well, they need someone who can fly an invisible plane. The bad news is that Ares (Alfred Molina - Spider-Man 2 ) escapes from confinement, and seeks to destroy the world.

    Back in New York City, Diana stops being a young woman and starts being a ball-busting feminist. She derides Etta Candy for trading on her very femininity, while ignoring the fact the woman managed to weaponise her sexuality. Diana also insults Steve over his flirting and attempting seduction, but does not accuse him of trading on his very.masculinity. When they get mugged, Diana chides Steve for attempting a non-violent solution ... and uses violence as her own prefered manner of conflict resolution, while simultaneously deriding it as a male vice. Finally Steve stands up for himself, and tells Diana some harsh truths. The real truth is that this story was written by Gail Simone, who became a comics industry gatekeeper by trolling them with her Women in refrigerators website until they put her in charge.

    In the final act, the Amazon General ( Rosario Dawson ) and her army come to the rescue. As a result, Ares unleashes his ultimate superpower. He raises an army of zombies to fight against the Amazons. Of course, this would end up with the dead ruling the Earth while the souls of the humans are all trapped in Tartarus by Hades (Oliver Platt - Professor Marston and the Wonder Women ).

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    LEGO DC Franchise

    Lego Batman Movie (2017)

    Lego Batman Movie (2017) Batman once again fights the Joker. However, it seems that the Joker values their antagonistic relationship far more than does Batman himself, an arch loner. This leads on to the main storyline, a parody of relationship movies (what real people call Rom-Coms).

    Jim Gordon retires as Police Commissioner, and his daughter Barbara Gordon ( Rosario Dawson ) is appointed as his replacement. No nepotism or corruption there. At least she sees that the city's reliance on Batman is a bad idea, and publicly slams him as a man in a halloween costume who beats up poor people.

    Joker plans revenge on Batman by releasing the inmates in the Phantom Zone They are an eclectic bunch of villains from other stories. Yes, much like The Lego Movie this has a lot of cross-over with other franchises. There are two main classes of villains. The first is those who are antagonists in stories about (and usually titled after) the protagonists:

  • Daleks from Doctor Who
  • Voldemort from Harry Potter
    The other villains are the title characters in stories about them, where the protagonist is a reactive character - monster movies, which overlaps with the horror movie genre.
  • Dracula
  • Godzilla
  • Gremlins
  • Jaws

    Batman ends up having to work as part of a team. Of course, this is a compromise because he is still an elitist vigilante who works outside the law. Instead of working with the police he builds a replacement family - Batgirl, Robin and Alfred. Yes, the Lord of Wayne Manor still uses his personal retainers to enforce his laws rather than use the tax-funded police department that is accountable to the general public.

  • Batman (1988)
  • Batman Begins
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    LEGO Batman: The Movie - DC Superheroes Unite! (2013)

    LEGO Batman: The Movie - DC Superheroes Unite! (2013) Lex Luthor (Clancy Brown - Highlander (1985) ) is running for President. When he loses the man-of-the-year award to Bruce Wayne, he realises he cannot do it the democratic way. Instead, he breaks the Joker out of Arkham Asylum.

    Batman reluctantly accepts help from Superman to bring the super-villains to justice.

  • Batman (1988)
  • Batman Begins
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    LEGO DC Super Heroes: Attack of the Legion of Doom! (2015)

    LEGO DC Super Heroes: Attack of the Legion of Doom! (2015) This is a CGI animation based on the LEGO toys which are based on the DC comic-book characters. As a result it is not tied into the continuity, so there is a lot of parody evident in this story.

    The DC supervillains have a problem. They can stand up against their opposite numbers in a fair fight, but as usual thety always lose. Lex Luthor, secretly working for Darkseid, has a plan. He recruits the best supervillains into his new group, the Legion of Doom.

    The Justice League also get fleshed out a bit. Green Lantern and The Flash have an on-going rivalry, which makes things interesting. Cyborg (Khary Payton - The Walking Dead ) is the rookie, trying to prove himself.

    Luthor's plan starts with raiding Area 52, a secret prison run by General Sam Lane. Lane is the DC Universe's equivalent of Thunderbolt Ross, the military fascist from the Incredible Hulk stories. He uses Area 52 to secretly imprison aliens, something which is similar to the Supergirl TV show.

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    LEGO DC Comics: Batman Be-Leaguered (2015)

    LEGO DC Comics: Batman Be-Leaguered (2015)

  • 2000
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    DC (Justice League of America) Franchise

    Green Lantern (2011)

    Green Lantern (2011) If the hero, Ryan Reynolds, looks familiar it is because he played a wise-cracking superhero in Blade: Trinity and a different wise-cracking superhero in Wolverine . Those movies were set in the same universe (!!!), so it is actually a GOOD thing that his third wise-cracking superhero is in the DC universe.

    Wise-ass is gifted a magic ring by a dying alien. Our hero is then trained in the skills of the Green Lantern by creepy-looking Sinestro (Mark Strong, rent-a-villain from Stardust ). This has got to be the least subtle name for a villain since Traitor-o in Meet the Spartans .

    Hal's geeky sidekick (Taika Waititi - Thor: Ragnarok ) is a Polynesian version of Moss from The I.T. Crowd. Senator Tim Robbins ( Shawshank Redemption, City of Ember ) lurks in the background.

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    Man of Steel (2013)

    Man of Steel (2013) The story starts on Planet Krypton, which is falling apart due to excessive mining endorsed by the idiotic Supreme Council. General Zod (Michael Shannon - ) takes the opportunity to stage a coup. Jor-El (Russell Crowe - Gladiator ) chooses to defy Zod, who seems to be a racist and a space-Afrikaner. Instead, Jor-El single-handedly out-fights both sides in the civil war, and sends his infant son to Earth. The Council do not bother to evacuate themselves, dooming Krypton - but they vengefully (and stupidly) imprison Zod's followers in the Forbidden Zone.

    Decades later, and Henry Cavill wanders the USA. He takes a variety of low-paid jobs, always leaving when he has to transform to save someone's life. He ends up as a muscle-bound git in tattered trousers - like Eric Bana in Hulk .

    Lois Lane ( Amy Adams ) investigates a US military cover-up at a remote site. Colonel Christopher Meloni (Oz) and General Harry Lennix ( Dollhouse ) are in charge, and it seems they have uncovered a UFO buried for thousands of years. Clark is in search of his Kryptonian heritage, and reveals his upbringing at the hands of Kevin Costner ( Waterworld ) and Diane Lane .

    The climax is an alien invasion of Earth, with superhuman monsters socking it out. Lots of skyscrapers get smashed up, 9-11 style, but because this is PG-13 nobody actually gets hurt. Yes, unlike the relatively realistic Independence Day there are ZERO actual casualties on the ground side!

    Coming from the director of Watchmen , this should have been so much better. The cast is incredible, and the actors cannot be faulted. But this is just not a superman film. It is too grim - despite the success of the Batman Begins franchise, the tone of a Superman film should be a lot more optimistic than this. The result is a depressing version of Hulk vs. Independence Day. All in all, about as pointless as Transformers 3 .

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    Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

    Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) This starts with a flashback to the climax of Man of Steel . In the movie it was glamourised to look like no humans got hurt. However, when we see it from Bruce Wayne's perspective we see the true human cost.

    In the modern day, Clark Kent has decided that the Metropolis newspaper he works for should also cover eVents in nearby Gotham City. This is not surprising, because Lois Lane spends her time interviewing warlords in Africa. Her journalistic neutrality is negated by the fact that Jimmy Olsen is actually a goon working for the CIA. Worse, when Lois gets herself in trouble Superman decides to perform some instant Regime Change. Of course, he is not one for Nation Building so he leaves the local peasants unprotected so they can all get killed by genocidal enemies.

    Back in Gotham, Batty Man (Ben Affleck - Daredevil ) is a murderous spree-killer, and it is shocking that Clark Kent (Henry Cavill - Man From UNCLE ) wastes time on a couple of cases where the suspect was only branded because there must have been a lot of fatalities too. The Batmobile has a gatling gun, it is military-grade hardware - does he use it against pickpockets and burglars? If Gotham uses the Bat-signal it implies that Batman works for Commissioner Gordon, so he is an officially deputised Law Enforcement Officer, not a vigilante. So why are street cops shooting at him?

    It is ironic that Clark Kent thinks Batman is an out-of-control vigilante, while he himself is not above killing someone who gets in his way. He smashes one guy through two brick walls, presumably a fatal injury - instead of disarming him in a non-fatal way. When the Warlord and his men were killed, there was nobody to protect the villagers. The local dictator sent his military in and killed all the civilians. If Superman had left the situation alone, those people would still be alive.

    Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg - Zombieland ) is the only one who sees that these two heroes are kill-crazy lunatics. He invites both Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent to a party. Also in attendance is mysterious femme fatale Diana Prince ( Gal Godot ). He seems to know the secret identities of these characters, although serving them wine and nibbles is hardly a master-plan to defeat them all.

    Eventually, Superman goes looking for his rival and starts a fight. Luthor has a backup plan. If the battle between Batfink and lycra-man proves anti-climactic, they can always team up against his super-soldier.

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    Suicide Squad (2016)

    Suicide Squad (2016) This is set in the post- Batman Vs Superman universe. Amanda Waller, a high-ranking US Government official, creates a Dirty Dozen style unit of expendable low-ranking supervillains. Ironically it is Waller, with her ends-justify-the-means approach, who comes across as the biggest villain in the whole movie.

    The team include the likes of the Enchantress ( Cara Delevingne ), Deadshot (Will Smith - Collateral Beauty ) and Harley Quinn ( Margot Robbie ). Unfortunately, they seem to be more trouble than they are worth. In fact, all the problems in the movie are caused by Waller's supposedly tame goons. The main plot is a quest to defeat the Enchantress before she can destroy the world. There is a subplot involving the Joker (Jared Leto - Fight Club ), as he turns the country upside down in order to find his girlfriend.

    This was directed by David Ayers , and was originally one of his grim police dramas. Unfortunately the studio had it re-edited, watering down the darker scenes and adding extra exposition. The result is not a comedy thriller, but rather a hard-edged thriller with some comedy inserted.

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    Wonder Woman (2017)

    Wonder Woman (2017) The movie starts with a post- Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice bookend sequence. Diana Prince ( Gal Gadot ) visits the Louvre museum in Paris, where Bruce Wayne has arranged some First World War memorabilia to be delivered. These items are memoirs of her first mission, so we get the main story as an extended flashback.

    We learn Diana's backstory, her childhood on the island of Amazons. Her mother ( Robin Wright ) tells her a fairy tale about the Greek Gods, which creates a flashback within a flashback that gives extra exposition. The Amazons were spawned by the Gods, but eventually warred against them. In a storyline that is more than a little reminiscent of Xena: Warrior Princess , because Diana's personal mission is to destroy the final Olympian god - Ares, god of War.

    One day, when Diana has grown up and looks like Gal Godot, she sees a World War One era plane crash in the ocean. She rescues the pilot, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine - Star Trek (2009) ), and brings him to shore. Unfortunately the German navy has sent a warship and a lot of naval infantry after him. The Amazon General ( Connie Nielsen ), who commands a company-strength unit rather than a brigade, leads a brutal attack on the poor Germans. We get a lot of the archer-versus-gunman heroics regularly shown on the Arrow television show, and the Germans are quickly wiped out. Seriously, none of the Germans is left alive. Even the one that Steve beat unconscious with his bare hands is somehow dead. The Amazons want to murder Steve as well, but they need to keep him alive in order to get information out of him.

    Diana assumes that Steve is a good guy, and that the unfortunate Germans have ceen corrupted by Ares. She intends to assassinate the German General, in the hope that his death will cause everyone to instantly stop fighting. Of course, since they are in November 1918 and the Artistice is about to be signed, it seems that the war will end anyway. However, the German General is an evil comic-book villain who plans to use a newly-invented super-weapon. Strangely the villain is called Ludendorf, named after a famous figure who was involved in post-war politics. The writer ( Zack Snyder ) should have named him after Erich Von Falkenheyn instead.

    Diana joins Steve on his trip home so he can report to his bosses in London. He is on loan to British Military Intelligence, if only because the film-makers would never dare to portray American servicemen in such a poor light. They refuse to attack the Germans, because the Armistice is about to be signed. However, he recruits his own team of Howling Commandos. They include Sickboy from Trainspotting, a PTSD-ridden alcoholic sniper. Of course, they are just comic relief so that Diana can do all the heroics.

    Diana leads a bayonet charge against the German machine-gun nests. Of course, she is bullet-proof but the men on both sides are not. Later she reveals that her super-human strength allows her to lift a four-ton armoured fighting vehicle over her head. She slaughters vast numbers of conscripts without any conscience. For something in the guise of an anti-war film, this certainly does a lot to glamourise violence.

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    Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)

    Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) The story starts in ancient times, on the island of Themiskyra. Diana, as a ten year old child, competed in a triathlon event against a bunch of grown women. This sets the tone for the whole movie, as she becomes impervious to responsibility or blame.

    We flash forward to the USA in 1984, during the Cold War. Barbara ( Kristen Wiig ) gets a job at the same museum as Diana. Just like the antagonists in Batman Returns , Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Iron Man 3 , she is a well-intentioned clutz with an axe to grind. While she starts as Diana's friend, her jealousy and ambition are weaknesses that corrupt her. Things are fine until the museum curators are given an artefact that turns out to be a magical wishing stone.

    The other main antagonist is Max Lord (Pedro Pascal - The Mandalorian ), a failed businessman who gets hold of the wishstone. He may be a con-man, but his ambition and intellect allow him to maximise the stone's use. His actions begin to tamper with the fabric of reality itself.

    The bad news is that Diana is also corrupted into making a wish. The good news is that she wishes for the return of Steve Trevor (Chris Pine - Star Trek (2009) ), her one true love. This is a bit immoral, because his spirit possesses someone else's body without consent, but at least he is the greatest pilot in history. They literally take a supersonic fighter jet from a museum display and then fly it ten thousand miles without fueling (never mind refueling). Steve reveals he has no knowledge of the existence of radar, which is because he has never flown anything more advanced than a World War One biplane. Luckily, Diana's magic can turn the jet invisible ... if only to radar. Well, everything else about this bit must be explained by magic. It certainly is not explicable by any other logic.

    Patty Jenkins wrote and directed this - further proof that wannabe auteurs should stick to only one of those two professions, rather than be a jack-of-all-trades. There are a couple of problems with the movie. To start with, there are two antagonists - a flaw that should be obvious from the failures of other superhero movies. Secondly, this is an action movie where nobody actually dies. As a result, it is all a bit anti-climactic.

    The other main problem is the feminist subtext. Every male character is presented as sexually predatory because he finds the lead female characters attractive. Ironically, although Barbara first envies Diana for her attractiveness she resents the men who display an interest in her. All except the millionaire Max Lord, that is. Perhaps there will be a sequel that focuses on these characters and allows them their happy-ever-after.

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    Justice League (2017)

    Justice League (2017) This is yet another effort in the DC Universe by Zach Snyder . It lacks the feel of Watchmen , it is more like a standard superhero movie. The reason being that Snyder had to drop out half-way through filming, so the directorial reins (and final cut) went to Joss Whedon . This leads on to poor comparisons with the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies.

    Superman (Henry Cavill - Mission Impossible: Fallout ) is dead, and the world mourns for him. All except the criminals, who are having a wild time of it. And some aliens, who feel free to invade Earth now that its protector is gone.

    Bruce Wayne has been going through Lex Luthor's files. He discovers that Luthor actually had a good reason for collecting files on super-humans. Luthor knew that the power void caused by Superman's demise would inevitably result in an alien invasion. Therefore he was planning to create an army of heroes to protect Earth. Not unlike Nick Fury and the Avengers Initiative. Of course, nobody even considers letting Luthor out so he can save the world. They probably learned the lesson about recruiting super-villains after the events of Suicide Squad . As a result, Wayne takes it upon himself to start his own team.

    Diana Prince ( Gal Gadot ) still has her hobby of being Wonder Woman. She stands around on top of statues, and beats up reactionary terrorists. With a combination of superhuman strength, reflexes faster than a speeding bullet, and a pair of armoured bracelets she is pretty much bulletproof. It is not revealed if she slaughters the other team, or allows them to be taken alive by the cops.

    The male counterpart to Diana, Princess of Themyskira, is Arthur Currie, Crown Prince of Atlantis. He is also known as Aquaman (Jason Momoa - Game Of Thrones ), who instead of hanging out with his Polynesian relatives in Hawaii decides to spend every winter on the freezing coast of Iceland. Unfortunately he does not seem interested in defending the Earth.

    The next two potential members of the team are both accidental heroes. One was injured by his father (Joe Morton - Brother From Another Planet ), best known as Miles Dyson from Terminator 2 , who rebuilt him as a Cyborg. Finally the last hero is Barry Allen. He is not the same confident mature young man from The Flash , but a younger and nerdier version. If he had to be compared to any character from the show, it is actually Cisco Ramone.

    The villain finally makes his appearance. His name is Steppenwolf (a CGI character voiced by Ciaran Hinds - Ghost Rider 2 ), and his agenda is simple. He is an alien with a horned helmet who poses as an ancient god, and leads an alien army to recover a magic artefact lost on Earth so he can conquer the planet. So basically, he is a crappy copy of Loki in Marvel Avengers Assemble .

    The villain's first stop is on Themyskira, the secret island ruled by the Amazons. How they have managed to survive there is unknown. There are no fields of crops or fishing boats. However, they do have a massive grassy plain that they use to graze their horses. It seems that the only meat the Amazons could eat would be from a cull of the horses. Plus any human males who end up on the island, of course.

    The heroes get their hands on one of the plot-device boxes. It is like the Genesis Device in Star Trek: Wrath of Khan , the plot-device which made possible the return of Spock in Star Trek: Search for Spock . They try to revive Superman, which leads on to a classic hero-on-hero battle. In all fairness, this is the best fight sequence of the entire film.

    The climax and conclusion are all quite predictable. There is a mid-credits sequence, with a couple of heroes competing to see who is the fastest. Unfortunately one of them flies, which should count as cheating.

    In the final after-credits sequence, a couple of super-villains get together to discuss setting up their own League. After all, that is the next logical step in the eventual escalation. Perhaps the next movie in the series might be impressive.

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    Justice League: Snyder Cut (2021)

    Justice League: Snyder Cut (2021) This is another version of the Justice League movie. Set in the DC Universe already established by Zach Snyder , this one fits in far better than the original release version. After all, Snyder made Watchmen in a serious tone that ignored its near-parody origins, while his replacement ( Joss Whedon ) was better suited to the jokier nature of the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies.

    Superman (Henry Cavill - Mission Impossible: Fallout ) is dead, and the world mourns for him. The morose tone from the start of Suicide Squad , itself troubled by a lighter-hearted end-cut, Lois Lane ( Amy Adams ) and Martha Kent ( ) even get a scene together to discuss their grief, although technically it does not pass the Bechdel test.

    Diana Prince ( Gal Godot ) has a full-time job working in the Louvre museum in Paris. In her lunch breaks she indulges her hobby of slaughtering terrorists and gunmen. These are reactionaries who want to turn the clock back. Are they Trumpers, who want the relive the Eisenhower administration from the era before Civil Rights? Or Brexiteers, who want to to relive the glory days of the Dunkirk evacuation and the London blitz? Or even Irish Republicans, who want to undo eight hundred years of British civilisation? Nobody knows or cares, they are just meat-puppets for her to slaughter.

    Diana tells a young girl You can be whatever you want to be. This is ironic, because of the lack of career opportunities in her homeland among Amazons of Themyscera. It seems that the Amazonian economy is focused on the military-industrial complex. Half the Amazons must be growing food, although there are no fields of crops or beasts (except horses), and the food surplus is used to feed the army. In all fairness, the profits of Wayne Enterprises are re-invested in the military research wing which provides Batman his gadgets to police Gotham city. The Amazons, however, must maintain a full-time garrison to guard a mysterious magical box. Unfortunately their defences are annihilated by Steppenwolf, a CGI alien with an army of flying warriors called Parademons.

    While Diana's intro is full of bloodshed, the other heroes managhed to save lives without shedding blood. Arthur Currie, Crown Prince of Atlantis, AKA Aquaman (Jason Momoa - Game Of Thrones ) will save drowning sailors if they buy him a bottle of whiskey. An even cheaper deal is available. Barry Allen, AKA The Flash , will save a pretty girl in exchange for a smile and a sausage.

    Cyborg (Ray Fisher - ) was created by his father, Star labs head researcher Dr Stone (Joe Morton, who has not aged a day since Terminator 2 ). While these characters got very little screen time in the Whedon cut, this extended version fleshes them out. Traditionally Cyborg is only used for heavy lifting, but this version has a wifi connection that allows him to remotely hack any computer in the world.

    Steppenwolf goes after the second magical box, guarded by Meera and the armies of Atlantis. The King of Atlantis refuses to send reinforcements, because he has to repress some rebellious provinces. Just as well there is a third box. Luckily, Cyborg has appointed himself guardian of the final box.

    The team finally get together. Commissioner Gordon (JK Simmons - Spider-Man ) gets a couple of brief scenes, but he and the forces of Law are not invited to help defend the Earth. No, the team rush into battle with Steppenwolf - with the minimum of planning and preparation, and no actual backup in case they get out of their depth.

    The team eventually realise that they are short-handed. If Bruce Wayne and Alfred had bothered to look harder, perhaps using Cyborg's ability to hack every computer on Earth, they might have found the Martian Manhunter. Instead, they play to raise Superman from the dead.

    This leads on to a massive climactic battle. If Steppenwolf wins, his master - Darkseid - will conquer Earth.

    Even the final section is extended. Instead of getting a quick post-credits sequence there is a long epilogue set in a post-apocalyptic Earth which features a team-up between super-heroes and villains alike.

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    Aquaman (2018)

    Aquaman (2018) The story starts in Amnesty Bay, Maine, in 1985. A young-looking Nicole Kidman is rescued by a light-house keeper who resembles a young Temuera Morrison ( Star Wars: AOTC ). They have both been de-aged with CGI, which implies they will spend more time on-screen in their real-life middle-aged status. Strangely, they are both antipodeans but this is set in the USA.

    They have a son, but the Atlanteans come to get their woman back. She is their Queen, Atalanta, and she has legal responsibilities. Unfortunately she has no regard for the lives of her subjects, and is more than happy to use lethal force against her own people. Then she returns to Atlantis anyway.

    When the boy grows up he becomes Aquaman (Jason Momoa - Game Of Thrones ), and spends his time fighting pirates as a hobby. On one such excursion he discovers an arch-rival that he was previously unaware of - Manta, a surface-dwelling pirate. If the rivalry is not sufficient motivation, Aquaman delivers a cruel fate to Manta's father ( The 100 ). Later, Manta gets upgraded with Atlantean technology so he can actually pose a threat to the invulnerable superhero.

    The main storyline takes off. It is about a struggle for power in a secret kingdom with extremely powerful technology. The next King will conquer the rest of the world, unless the hero steps up and takes the crown for himself. If this storyline seems familiar, that is because it was used in Black Panther (2018) . In fact, it seems taken from Hellboy 2: The Golden Army .

    The King (Patrick Watchmen (2009) ) and his advisor (Dolph Lundgren - Masters of the Universe (1987) ) want to conquer the surface world in revenge for the damage the surface-dwellers have done to the planet. The advisor's daughter, Meera ( Amber Heard ), teams up with Aquaman's mentor (Willem Dafoe - Shadow of the Vampire ) and summons the hero to help them. After all, Aquaman has a rightful claim to the Throne of Atlantis.

    There are a few hidden jokes. Aquaman's dad has a copy of The Dunwich Horror , which features a race of fish-men similar to ones that attack our heroes.

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    Shazam! (2019)

    Shazam! (2019) This starts in an unusual way - by introducing the concept rather than the protagonist. A young boy is emotionally abused by his father (John Glover - Smallville ). Obviously, this is how Lex Luthor turned evil so no good can come of it. The boy is magically abducted by a wizard (Djimon Houson - Deep Rising ), and tested to see if he is the champion. Unfortunately the wizard has unrealistically high standards.

    The failed contestant grows up to become Mark Strong ( Stardust (2007) ), and is obsessed with obtaining the secret of the magic. He manages to locate many other failed contestants, and eventually pieces together the info he needs. Since he has not become the champion of the wizard, he becomes the champion of the wizard's enemies - the demonic embodiment of the Seven Deadly Sins.

    The protagonist, Billy Bats, is also less than perfect. He is an orphaned boy who is obsessed with finding his mother. This ends up in him being sent to live in a group home run by Jerry from The Walking Dead .

    The Seven Deadly Sins get broken out of their prison, so the wizard has to abandon his unrealistic standards. He appoints Billy his champion, and gifts him with magic powers. When Billy speaks the magic word, he turns into an adult man (Zach Levi - Chuck) with top-level superpowers. Instead of wasting his time doing good deeds, Billy and his foster-brother just hang out using the super-powers for laughs and personal gain.

    Eventually the bad guy forces Billy into action, so he has to choose between himself and his foster-family. This is the kind of character development that illustrates the difference between a two-dimensional character (AKA a Mary Sue) and a properly-written one.

    The climax involves a setup for follow-up movies involving a team of super-heroes - Meagan Good, Michelle Borth , Adam Brody ( Mr and Mrs Smith ) and DJ Cotrona ( From Dusk Til Dawn (TV Series) ).

    This movie did not do well at the box-office, probably because it failed to find its audience. It is not a regular super-hero movie, or a Young Adult franchise film. Instead it is a PG film, aimed squarely at the pre-teen audience. Since such films are few and far between these days, small wonder it failed to connect with the mainstream.

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    Joker (2019)

    Joker (2019) This is an origin story for the greatest villain in Batman's rogue's gallery. Previously we have seen him as a gangster in Batman (1989) or an unfortunate bystander in The Killing Joke . This is more a portrayal of a man's slow descent into madness.

    Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix - You Were Never Really here ) is a helpless man who lives with his mother ( Frances Conroy ). By day he tries to earn a living as a clown, with dreams of becoming a stand-up comedian like his idol Murray (Robert DeNiro - Mary Shelley's Frankenstein ). By night he tries to romance his neighbour ( Zazee Beetz ). Unfortunately, his life is on a downward spiral that he seems painfully oblivious to.

    The city they are living in, Gotham, is basically the New York City of the 1970s. There are a few passing references to the garbage workers going on strike, and the crime rate spiraling out of control. Unfortunately this film spends too much time being heavy-handed with Arthur's mental problems, and not nearly enough time giving background on the wider problems in society.

    The violence of the city intrudes on Arthur's life, and he kills some violent thugs in self defence. Luckily these were rich white thugs instead of poor black ones, or we might have to assume some kind of racial motivation. Anyway, the important thing is that the killer and the thugs had the same skin colour. Unfortunately the police become prejudiced against clowns, and Arthur gets profiled due to his career choice.

    Thomas Wayne, the father of young Bruce, looms large over the city. This is probably the first film to actually give him any dialogue, and it shows him in a relatively negative light. While the city falls apart, his solution is to run for political office. Perhaps if he just paid his taxes the city would be able to afford necessary services.

    When it first came out, this film was lambasted by lefties who had not even seen it, and just assumed it was a revenge fantasy for involuntary celibate white males. After all, it was promoted as the male equivalent of a rape-and-revenge movie. But the antagonistic figure of Thomas Wayne is a Donald Trump pastiche, although not as cartoonishly narcissistic or stupid as the real-life person. The anarchists who oppose Wayne, inspired by the Joker himself, are basically Antifa but with clown masks instead of V For Vendetta (2005) ones. And the core message of the film is very left-wing. It is nothing to do with so-called straight white male entitlement, but rather a damning indictment of the USA's chronic under-funding of mental health services.

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    Birds of Prey (2020) AKA The Fantabulous Emancipation of Harley Quinn

    Birds of Prey (2020) In the aftermath of Suicide Squad (2016) , the Joker has split up with his groupie Harley Quinn ( Margot Robbie ). Now she decides to reinvent herself as a female version of Deadpool .

    Without the Joker to protect her, Harley comes into conflict with all kinds of trouble. This includes a police detective named Montoya ( Rosie Perez ) and a serial killer called Huntress ( Mary Elizabeth Winstead ). These women have similar goals, and by the end of the film they have learned to work together. In other words, this movie is as much an origin story for the Birds of Prey team as it is a reinvention of Harley herself.

    The main villain is a gangster named Black Mask (Ewan McGregor - Star Wars: Phantom Menace ), who is the current employer of Victor Zsasz and Black Canary. Canary generalises about gangsters as being stupid old rich white men, which totally ignores the important role of immigrants in organised crime. The Irish Gangs of New York , the Sicilian Mafia, the Cubans in Scarface - they have to make their money from crime at first, but they keep their kids out of the business and send them to college so they can get an honest career. This allows the next wave of immigrants to take over the rackets. In other words, by disrespecting the gangster community Black Canary is punching down against the disenfranchised.

    All in all, this is a bit of a mess. Instead of going the serious drama route of Joker (2019) , this is a comedy-thriller that glamourises some pretty terrible people. The structure is basically two different movies squished together, which basically makes it a mish-mash. All in all, this movie promises more than it delivers.

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    Suicide Squad, The (2021)

    Suicide Squad, The (2021) In the aftermath of Suicide Squad (2016) , the Joker's groupie Harley Quinn ( Margot Robbie ) ends up back in prison as one of Amanda Waller's expendable assets. She is back with familiar faces like Colonel Rick Flagg (Joel Kinnaman - ) and Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney - Divergent ). There are some new faces, like Savant (Michael Rooker - The Walking Dead ) and a man with a magical javelin.

    There is also a B-Team, led by Bloodsport (Idris Elba - 28 Weeks Later ) - basically a new version of Deadshot (Will Smith - Collateral Beauty ) from the original movie. His team includes Peacemaker (John Cena - Bumblebee ), whose benign-seeming name is actually a reference to a quote from Tacitus (They create a desert and call it peace) and Ratcatcher 2 ( Daniela Melchior ), who was gifted her power by her father - the original Ratcatcher (Taika Waititi - Thor: Ragnarok ). King Shark (Sylvester Stallone - Judge Dredd ) and Polkadot Man (David Dastmalchian - Dark Knight ) come along to provide some muscle.

    The action is set in a Cuba-like country called Corto Maltese. The goal of the Suicide Squad's mission is not to help the rebel leader ( Alice Braga ) to liberate her oppressed country. Instead it is to destroy the local government's superweapon, known as Project Starfish. To do this they must co-opt the scientist in charge - the Thinker (Peter Capaldi - Dr Who ).

    In similarity with the MCU movies, there is a plot twist of sorts. Somehow, although Rick Flagg has worked for Amanda Waller for years he still seems surprised when he discovers what monsterous deeds she is capable of. He also seems surprised that a member of the squad, who has a bomb in his skull that Waller controls, will do the woman's bidding.

    This is the job that writer-director James Gunn took after cancel-culture temporarily ruined his career with the MCU. He brings a predictable bit of subtext to the story, although this is nowhere near as bad as Birds of Prey . For example, although Harley single-handedly takes out an army of opponents we also see Bloodsport and Peacemaker do the same thing with a lot more panache and flair. . That said, the climax has a strong whiff of boy superheroes dumb, girl superheroines save the day.

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    Shazam! Fury of the Gods (2022)

    Shazam! Fury of the Gods (2022)

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    Soon

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