Wonder Woman 1984 – Review

WARNING: SPOILERS !!!

Wonder Woman 1984 debuted on December 25th on HBO Max. Directed by Patty Jenkins with Gal Gadot returning for the starring role, many people have relatively mixed feelings on the film. In this post, I will be breaking down the movie based on themes, storyline, and character portrayal, all in a review based on my opinion.

To start, Wonder Woman 1984, as many films and television shows of this century do, takes place in the 80s, thus the title. However, the film’s title brings up a different point as well. 1984 is a year that is commonly brought up in pop culture, as it is the title of George Orwell’s iconic 1949 political dystopian novel. Despite the implication of a possible dystopian setting, Wonder Woman 1984 seemingly just used the title as a simple play on words, well, play on numbers in this case. As stated, the film takes place in the 1980s, which is commonly described by fashion and flare and, while not entirely accurate, neon. By way of fashion, I thought that Wonder Woman 1984 did a good job with the characters’ wardrobes, especially Diana’s and many of the passing civilians (ex: the random groups of punk kids seen in various part of the city). On a different note, I am not entirely sure why the movie was based in the 80s when the time in which it took place played no significant role. In a sense, it felt as if it was a cheap grab at people’s attention in an attempt to profit off of 80s nostalgia. For example, the 2017 Wonder Woman film took place in 1918, as the plot essentially revolved around World War 1. This makes sense, however, the 80s had no greater significance in Wonder Woman 1984. This factor of the movie bothered me because I felt as if the movie had taken place in a different time, it could have depicted Wonder Woman as a part of another historically significant event.

Moving on to the actual plot of the movie, I was not entirely sure what to expect, as the trailers did not reveal much about the story itself, but now that I have seen the movie, it is safe to say that I was not very impressed. This is attributed to the lack-luster plot that was pretty much a superhero retelling of the Monkey’s Paw, which is actually mentioned in the movie, ironically enough. I say this because the movie revolves around an ancient artifact called the “Dream Stone,” which will grant each person who touches it one wish. . . a wish that comes with a major cost. In my opinion, this type of story has been overused, but if written correctly, can still be very engaging. However, despite there being a stable category and structure for this “wish that comes with a cost” plot, Wonder Woman 1984 still manages to poorly execute it. This overused and poorly executed plot set the stage for a very predictable movie. As one can expect, each main character wishes for something that ends up taking a serious toll on them in the end. For Barbara Minerva, who wished to be like Diana Prince (Wonder Woman), had superhuman strength gifted to her, ultimately turning her into the villain Cheetah, using the “With great power comes great responsibility,” prompt for the umpteenth time. On the other hand, Diana wished for Steve Trevor to come back to life, which, as we have learned from various other movies, is just about the worst thing you could do, considering the fact that the character brought back from the dead always has to die again. Finally, Maxwell Lord, the main antagonist of the film, wishes to become the Dream Stone itself, so that when he coaxes people into wishing for things, they’ll come true, ultimately making hundreds of things come true in his favor, instead of just one. These conflicts carry throughout the entire film, considering the fact that even when Diana and Barbara learn that the Dream Stone was made by the fictitious god of lies and chaos, Dechalafrea Ero, and was the cause of the collapse of many civilizations, they both refuse to retract their wishes, furthering the dilemma and pretty much summing up the personalities of the characters in this film.

Regarding a more in-depth analysis of the way the movie portrayed each character, well, each character is disappointing to say the least, which is not exactly the fault of the actors, rather a result of poor work from the writers. For instance, Barbara Minerva ends up being the film’s secondary antagonist, but her evolution from regular civilian to villain is all to quick and honestly just does not make much sense, as the first (possibly only) person she killed technically was an act of self-defense. In the case of Diana, she appears to be trapped in an infinite sadness due to the loss of Steve Trevor and is plunged into a further depression when he technically dies again. This would not have been an issue, only the entire movie revolved around Steve Trevor’s death and portrayed Wonder Woman as someone who was completely reliant on one person to be able to live her life. As the New York Times put it, “The sequel to the 2017 hit finds Diana Prince, a.k.a. Wonder Woman, pining for love and saddled with a movie unworthy of her.” In general, I did not find this version of Maxwell Lord to be terribly boring, but his redemption at the end of the film was extremely anticlimactic. Now, Steve Trevor, of course, did not change much because he, well, did not have time to change, but there is a specific plot hole regarding his character in this film: when Steve Trevor was brought back to life due to Diana’s wish, he did not come back in his physical body, meaning that he technically manifested into the physical form of another and appeared as that person to everyone. This, however, does not make much sense to me considering the fact that no one questioned the sudden withdrawal of this man from work, social gatherings, etc., in addition to the question of where did he, himself go? We know that his physical form was being somehow used by another, but where did everything else about him go? What further confuses me is that at the end of the movie, he appears again, this time as himself, meaning that everything just went back to normal. Perhaps this is one of those movie moments that simply is not meant to be questioned, but I dislike large plot holes such as this, as it takes dimension away from the film at hand.

Overall, I believe that entertainment is entirely subjective and my opinion could be the exact opposite of another’s, but I find Wonder Woman 1984 to be one of the most disappointing movies that I have seen in a while, and my expectations were very low. If you are reading this to determine whether or not to watch the film, which I doubt you are, I suggest watching it and seeing how you feel about it, but I did warn you (haha).

Injustice 3

Initially debuting in 2013 for the PS3, Xbox 360, and the Wii U, the DC Comics platform fighting game and comic book series known as Injustice has made a name for itself.  Created by NetherRealm, the game features playing styles similar to those in the Mortal Kombat games, which NetherRealm is also responsible for.  The first game in the series, Injustice: Gods Among Us featured a plethora of DC’s most iconic characters, as well as some that are considered to be a bit underappreciated, such as Lobo and Ares, along with one of Mortal Kombat’s most popular characters: Scorpion.  Four years later, in 2017, Injustice 2 was released and had an entirely new roster, except for a few characters, such as Batman, Superman, the Flash, and Aquaman.  Injustice 2 was complete with a few more extra features than Injustice: Gods Among Us.  For instance, the sequel had unlockable gear, levels, and “the Multiverse,” which contained various fights and challenges to face, similar to Mortal Kombat’s “Towers”.  Injustice 2 was released for the PS4, Xbox One, and PC.  It has now been three years since Injustice 2’s release, and besides DLC releases, NetherRealm has been very silent about the possibility of the series’ expansion. . . until recently. 

Tom Taylor, the comic author behind the Injustice comic series, along with DCeased, hinted at a third game and a partner comic series.  By elimination, the theoretical roster for a third Injustice game could include slightly lesser known characters such as Constantine, Steppenwolf, and Metamorpho.  It is hypothesized that they game’s main story line could wither follow the events of Injustice 2, or possibly follow a plot similar to that of DCeased, which resolves around Darkseid and his search for the “Anti-life equation.”

Overall, there is not much information that has been given by the creators regarding the game’s contents and release, but above are just simple ideas and guidelines that many feel that they game will follow.

 

 

Villain of the Week: Gentleman Ghost

Gentleman Ghost made his debut in the year 1947, during which he was featured in Flash Comics #88.  Surprisingly, despite most DC Comics characters having multiple origins and aliases, Gentleman Ghost has retained the same origin story from day one.  The villain was created by Robert Kanigher and Joe Kubert, who had already made their name in the comic industry.  Now, let’s take a look at Gentleman Ghost’s origin story.

Jim Craddock, a highway robber, terrorized 19th century England under the alias “Gentleman Jim”.  While he continued to live this lifestyle, he was haunted by other highwaymen who had been killed after being caught and charged.  Eventually, he encounters gunslingers Nighthawk and Cinnamon, who were later reincarnated as Hawkman and Hawkgirl.  Nighthawk wrongfully accused Craddock of harming Cinnamon and killed him in an act of vengeance.  When Craddock returned as a ghost, he learned from a gypsy that he must wander the earth until his killer dies; unfortunately for him, his killers’ souls are immortal, thus allowing them to be reincarnated time and time again. Due to this fact, Gentleman Ghost became Hawkman and Hawkgirl’s sworn enemies and still appears in many of their comics today.   However, as of the New 52, Gentleman Ghost joined the Injustice Society of America and became one of Stargirl’s main foes.

I personally hope he makes an appearance in the new Stargirl TV show.

 

Gentleman Ghost’s Stats:

Gentleman Ghost (Character) - Comic Vine

 

Real Name: James “Jim” Craddock

Occupation: Criminal

Base: N/A

Foes: Hawkman, Hawkgirl, Stargirl, JSA

 

Stargirl TV Show Review

On May 11th, DC Universe’s original TV show, Stargirl, premiered on the platform, as well as the CW.  The show was officially announced around November, but there had been rumors about for years prior (its release was inferred to be postponed due to its switch to becoming a DC Universe original).  After the initial release, many viewers have stated that it looks more promising than other DC shows, such as DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, which had mostly negative feedback.  In this post, I’ll be going through some comparisons between the TV show and Stargirl’s actual origins, along with some highlights of the show in general.

 

Stargirl’s Comic Origin

Like most other DC characters, Stargirl has multiple versions and adaptations, but I’ll be explaining the most commonly referred to one, A.K.A that of Courtney Whitmore.  This was the first version of Stargirl to ever appear; she made her debut in Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. #0 (July 1999).  The character was created by Lee Moder and Goff Johns, who based the character’s appearance and name on his sister (also named Whitney), died in a plane crash three years prior.  The Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. comic series follows a teenage Whitney who discovers the costume of the iconic Star-Spangled Kid in her new home, which she moved into with her mother and step-dad, who admitted to once working with the Justice Society of America.  Courtney takes the costume and goes out wearing it in spite of her step-dad, who she resents for moving them across the country, away from her hometown.  Her step-dad then builds the robot sidekick suit S.T.R.I.P.E., in order to assist in her newfound crime-fighting duties.  Shortly after, Courtney finds what’s known as the Cosmic Staff, which belonged to her father, the original Star Spangled Kid, but later known as Starman.  When Courtney finds out that Starman was her dad, she dawns the name Stargirl, in his honor.

Surprisingly enough, the Stargirl TV show follows this plot line almost exactly, so far, while maintaining the necessary creative freedoms that all adaptations need. In fact, the first two episodes have already covered most of this origin, leaving lots of room for introducing some of Stargirl’s foes.  Multiple members of the Injustice Society of America have already appeared, such as Brainwave, Wizard, and Icicle.  I personally liked the intro to the pilot episode, which included cameos from multiple JSA members, such as Wildcat, Hourman and Dr. Mid-Night.

Overall, personally, I already like the show, even though only two episodes have premiered.  Others seem to agree, as well.  Since its release, the show has received mostly positive reviews, and many fans have high hopes for what’s to come.

“Hero” of the Week: Swamp Thing

First appearing in Alex Olsen: House of Secrets #92 (July 1971), which was originally a horror one-shot, Swamp Thing has since gone down as one of the most unique characters that DC Comics has ever published, as he is not a necessarily a hero or villain, rather a “protector of nature,” as he calls himself.  This helping when he became involved with Justice League Dark, who’s members are also in between good and evil. The idea for the character came from the famed comic creator responsible for Marvel’s Wolverine, Len Wein.  Wein stated that he came up with the idea on the subway and that he kept referring to it as, “The swamp thing that I’m working on,” ultimately making its name just that.

As for Swamp Thing’s backstory, as with most comic characters, has had multiple versions, but the most notable being that of Alex Olsen, since that was the original.  In this version, Alex Olsen, a young scientist living in early 20th century Louisiana, was killed by his lab assistant who was jealous of the man in many ways.  He set up a chemical explosion that would trigger when Olsen used his lab, which ultimately killed him.  The assistant then dumped his body into a nearby swamp, oblivious that the combination of the chemicals Olsen had been doused with and the swamp’s organic material caused him to rise back up from the dead as a humanoid glop of vegetation and gunk.  Olsen then exacted revenge on his assistant, but was forced to live the rest of his life as Swamp Thing, who many assumed to be a monster due to his appearance and blunt brutality.  Eventually, Swamp Thing becomes the leader of an ancient organization of Plant Elementals (a fictitious species of humanoid plant creatures that existed long before humans) called the “Parliament of Trees”.  After this event, Swamp Thing’s main goal was to protect all of nature and the environment, stopping anyone who tries to cause it harm, good or bad.  Thus making him a steady balance between hero and villain.  Swamp Thing now also has a live-action TV show directed by James Wan (The Conjuring and Saw), which is on DC’s streaming service: DC Universe.

Swamp Thing’s Stats:

Pin on comic fantasy art

Real Name: Alex Olsen (First Version)

Occupation: “Protector of Nature”, member of the Parliament of Trees

Base: Louisiana, any swamp

Foes: The Floronic Man, anyone who causes harm to nature

 

Birds of Prey Movie Review

Earlier this week, I watched the DCEU’s most recent movie, Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn.  The film, directed by Kathy Yan, hit theaters on February 7 and has had mixed reviews.  Surprisingly, some fans of the many Birds of Prey comics were actually pleased with the movie, while others felt as if it was far from their expectation of a good comic book film.

In my opinion, it was an entertaining movie with hints of comedy and awesome fight scenes, but I do feel as if the plot as a whole was focused too much on Harley Quinn, considering that the “Birds of Prey” weren’t actually working together until the last two minutes of the film.  In fact, that’s one of my only issues with it.  It wasn’t actually a Birds of Prey movie, it was a Harley Quinn movie.  I might have enjoyed this movie even more if instead of promising the Birds of Prey, they just completely labeled it a Harley Quinn film.   However, I would have rather the movie been a Birds of Prey movie, with the members as the main characters.  To me, the film would have been even better if they had switched up the dynamic of Black Canary, Huntress and Renee Montoya (later on The Question) and Harley, so that they were the main characters and Harley Quinn was just a side character.

Another thing I noticed throughout the film, was that the main antagonist, Roman Sionis (A.K.A. Black Mask), was much different in the movie than in comics.  For example, in the film, Sionis acts more like a snobby rich kid, as opposed to a world renowned super villain, as he is in comics.  In addition, in the film, Victor Zsasz and Sionis work together in their evil schemes and also appear to be friends, when neither have ever even interacted in any other DC story.  In my opinion, if Zsasz is going to be in a movie, he should be the main antagonist as opposed to somebody’s henchman or employee, since he is actually more violent and creepy than many DC villains, despite not having any powers or special abilities.  Another character who had no connection with Sionis in the past, who did in the movie is Black Canary.  Black Canary wasn’t always a hero, but she never worked for or with Black Mask.  However, I understand that these changes were a creative decision by the creators of the film.

Despite me wishing that the movie was more focused of the Birds of Prey and that some things were more comic accurate, I actually really enjoyed the movie!  I think it has been one of the better movies that the DCEU has put out in the recent years.

Hero of the Week: Zatanna

Zatanna Zatara, first appearing in Hawkman #4 (November 1964), is known in the DC Universe as both a stage illusionist/magician, as well as a sorceress.  Daughter of Giovanni Zatara, another magician, Zatanna is of the fictitious “Homo Magi” species, along with all of her relatives.  Zatanna is most commonly associated with Justice League Dark, a team of heroes and vigilantes alike, all of whom possess magical or mystical powers, and had a brief relationship with John Constantine, a fellow member of Justice League Dark.

Some of Zatanna’s abilities include:

  • Flight
  • Telepathy
  • Chronokinesis
  • Telekinesis
  • Teleportation
  • Spell casting and incantations

 

Zatanna’s Stats:

Image result for zatanna dc

Real name: Zatanna Zatara

Occupation: Magician, Hero

Base: New York

Foes: Enchantress, Klarion the Witch Boy

The Surprising First Appearance of Harley Quinn

As many know, Harley Quinn will go down as a fan favorite of DC’s, having appeared on the big screen before many other iconic characters, even Wonder Woman.  Since she has been in fans’ hearts for so long, people usually assume that she has been in comics for even longer, however, Harley Quinn actually made her debut in “The Joker’s Favor”, an episode of the Emmy winning cartoon, Batman: The Animated Series.  That’s right, she was a cartoon before she was a comic.  In fact, Harley Quinn was originally just supposed to be an add in for that particular episode, but the immense response to her personality made her develop into one of Batman’s main villains in the series.

As previously mentioned, Quinn became a main character later on in the show’s run.  So, originally, she was just created for the show, and that was supposed to be it.  However, a year after her first appearance in the show, she made her comic debut in Batman Adventures #12.

Today, Harley Quinn was a main character in not only the Suicide Squad live action film, but also stars in the upcoming Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn.

Birds of Prey Official Movie

Over the past few years of writing on this blog, I’ve posted a few things about a possible Birds of Prey movie, as they are one of my favorite teams within the DC Universe.  As mentioned then, the movie would follow the vigilantes and heroes that form the Birds of Prey, such as Batgirl, Black Canary, and the Huntress.  Well, now, the movie rumors have been confirmed, the first teaser having come out in the early summer and the official trailer being released in this past October.  While news of the movie made me excited at first, after watching the trailer, in my opinion, the movie seems to focus too much on Harley Quinn, and the movie’s title was even changed to: Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn.  In fact, the whole movie seems to be about Harley Quinn’s newfound independence, which follows the Suicide Squad movie’s story line, as opposed to the comics.  Personally, I feel that despite Harley Quinn being a good character in the DC Universe, she gets almost too much recognition, and even seems to be made to outshine the Birds of Prey in the Birds of Prey movie.

On a different note, the other characters from the movies seem to match up to their comic counterparts from what I’ve seen so far (which ins’t much).  Other characters confirmed for the movie are the following:

  • Black Canary
  • Huntress
  • Renee Montoya (The Question)
  • Cassandra Cain
  • Black Mask
  • Victor Zsasz

Below is the official trailer

Black Hand and Bill Finger

Many fans of DC Comics will recognize the name Black Hand, even if it belongs to one of Green Lantern’s lesser known foes.  For those who do, know that Black Hand will go down as one of Green Lantern’s first and most powerful villains, but even die hard fans of the super villain might not know that his character was based off of DC’s most influential comic authors, Bill Finger.

First appearing in Green Lantern (vol. 2) #29 (June 1964), William Hand is a genius inventor, who later uses his smarts to become a criminal that no one seems to be able to catch.  He obtains the name “Black Hand” since he was always called the “black sheep of the Hand family”, which is partially what drove him to leave his normal life behind.  After his years as a mastermind, he decided that he needed more power.  He needed to amp up his crime sprees; he believed that he could do more with it.  So, he created a device that would change anything for him.  This device could absorb the same amount of energy that a Green Lantern ring harnesses, but he could absorb it from anything.  Thus creating a new era of super powered crime, and ultimately landing himself on the top of Hal Jordan’s rogue list, along with infamous characters such as Sinestro and Parallax.

Bill Finger is now known as one of DC’s most famous comic creators, but that is an extremely new development.  This is due to the sad, yet true fact that despite his assistance in the creation of Batman, along with many other characters, he didn’t actually get much credit until the 2000s.  Although he was inducted into Jack Kirby and William Eisner’s Hall of Fames in the 90s, his name wasn’t featured on his own works until 2015, almost forty-five years after his death.  While the general public not knowing of his influence of comics today, his co-workers did because they saw it first hand.  So, that’s why two of them, John Broome and Gil Kane, created Black Hand.

Now, Black Hand’s “origin story” is pretty average considering how many super villains there are in comic books, and one might wonder how this ties into an actual comic author; the same author who created Green Lantern.   Well, Black Hand was actually created to honor Bill Finger by representing him in super villain form. The relation between the two is solely based on irony.  For example, Black Hand’s real name is William Hand, which is a play on the name Bill Finger, since Bill can be short for William and there is a finger on a hand.  The next similarity is their personality in general.  While Bill Finger was obviously not a villain, he does have the same exact traits that Black Hand does.  An example of this would be the fact that Black Hand carries around a “gimmick book” in which he writes his ideas for new crimes, while Bill Finger used to carry around the same, only his was filled with comic ideas.