With all due respect to everyone on Twitter at Comic-Con, for my money, the hottest of possible hot takes from this past weekend belonged to screenwriter Zack Stentz. “The worst part of Justice League,” Stentz wrote, “is gonna be the fanboys and bad culture writers claiming to know which parts are Snyder and which are Whedon.” It’s true. Even the Comic-Con Justice League trailer seemed to be an inseparable mashup of Zack Snyder and Joss Whedon’s sensibilities, alternating between alpha posturing and awkward self-parody with regularity. The mind already aches with the number of articles that will be written about Justice League attempting to give credit to the author’s preferred filmmaker.
Unless you’ve been taking a break from your phone this past weekend - we all do it from time-to-time, it’s totally healthy to unplug every now and then - you’ve probably been inundated with new superhero movie and television rumors. New Marvel shows! New DC movies! Prequels! Sequels! Reboots! Reimaginings! Yes, whether you’re a global powerhouse like Disney or a smaller boutique studio like Blumhouse, odds are you’ve got at least one superhero adaptation on your slate of films for the next two years.
After a few months of radio silence from Marvel on the Ant-Man and the Wasp front, the last two weeks have seen a flurry of activity. First there was the announcement that Randall Park would be joining the cast as a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, then the news that Walton Goggins had signed on for a yet-unknown - but probably evil - part in the movie. All of that was blown away this past weekend with the news that Michelle Pfeiffer and Laurence Fishburne would be joining the cast as contemporaries of Michael Douglas‘ Hank Pym. Man, these Marvel casts just keep getting better and better.
What did you see this weekend? Was it the dour World War II epic? The raunchy New Orleans sex comedy? Or the movie where Cara Delevingne shoves her head into a telepathic jellyfish’s butt? Truly, with options like this, anyone who complains about the death of cinema has no idea what they’re talking about. Anyways, here’s the box office numbers through Sunday afternoon:
When it was announced on Friday that Todd McFarlane would be writing and directing his own Spawn movie for Blumhouse, the non-Weeknd portion of the internet responded with a fair amount of skepticism. Sure, everyone has fond memories of reading Spawn comic books when they were in their teens, but how exactly would an R-rated, low-budget Spawn film stand out from the crowd of bigger and badder superhero movies? Not to mention the fact that McFarlane himself would be directing despite any feature film experience; his entire body of work as a director consists of four music videos shot eight-plus years ago.
Despite the fact that Blade Runner 2049 is only the second movie in this franchise - can we call it a franchise if there’s only two friends? I’m asking for a friend - you’ll be completely forgiven if you’ve lost the thread on the events leading up to this film. Not only will the time jump between Blade Runner and Blade Runner 2049 probably leave a few fans in the dust, the first film was never particularly forthcoming with its own mythology, asking fans to piece together some of the political and technological events that led to the replicant revolution. Like the best science fiction, it was a movie that contained multitudes, even if it wasn’t always compelled to share them.
Say what you will about Warner Bros., but they’ve always saved some of their best Justice League footage for Comic-Con. Last year we were treated to our first extended look at the DCEU entry; this year the studio has raised the stakes, giving us some actual footage of the Justice League villain in action. Oh, and this trailer also seems to emphasize the heck out of the world of Wonder Woman - including a scene set entirely in Themyscira - indicating that they know exactly who their most popular superhero is going forward. It’s probably not a coincidence that there’s more Gal Gadot in this trailer than anyone else.
I’m probably not going to rock your world if I tell you that Hollywood enjoys catering to the nostalgia of audiences. Some of the most successful shows and movies from the last few years - including Stranger Things and Ghostbusters - have succeeded specifically because they were able to recreate things that we loved when we were children. What made Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One such a worldwide phenomenon wasn’t just the author’s grasp of eighties and nineties popular culture, but the way he wove that into the book’s original narrative. His character’s obsession with the past was both his greatest strength and his biggest weakness.
With rumors swirling that Ben Affleck would be stepping down from his role as Batman after Justice League, I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to say that Warner Bros. needs to have a big day this weekend at Comic-Con. They need to be prepared to discuss Affleck’s rumors directly - confirming or denying as they see fit - and show off some footage for Justice League that keeps fans excited about the movie, regardless of the rumors circulating around it. Even those who believe that Warner Bros. has charted a new direction for itself with the addition of Joss Whedon and the success of Wonder Woman would admit that the studio has its work cut out for it.
Are you familiar with a ‘sunk cost’ concept? That’s when a business allocates resources to get a project or product off the ground only to see it struggle to deliver; instead of treating that seed money as an expense they’ve written off and will never recover - a ‘sunk cost’ - the company continues to throw good money after bad in a vain hope of eventually recouping its financial losses. You see this happen in Hollywood every now and then, where a studio spends millions of dollars to market a movie it knows is probably going to fail. Or, in the case of a film like Gambit, a studio keeps hiring people to write or rewrite the film despite zero evidence it’ll actually get made.
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