Now that we’ve talked about the bad films, let’s talk about the good ones. Because nothing is perfect, we will also talk about the problems I have with these films. The good outways the bad, but that doesn’t mean the bad doesn’t exist. …I will admit some of these will be petty. Yes, I’m calling Billy ‘Captain Marvel’. Deal with it.
This is not gonna be as long as the last one. I swear. This is in order of release date. We’ll get to my personal order afterwards.
WARNING: SPOILERS FOR THE GOOD DCEU FILMS
I told you some of these were gonna be petty. I don’t like the whole ‘Diana is a Demigoddess’ thing. It takes away from a cool unique origin of being wholly made by women and goddesses (and Hermes) and, in the George Perez version, the reincarnated soul of an unborn child who’s pregnant mother was reborn as Hippolyta. Making her Zeus’s kid just makes her someone’s kid and that’s why she’s special instead of being special because of how she was raised and because she was blessed by her patron goddesses because she’s the best of the Amazons who are supposed to be the best of humanity. Plus demigods in Ancient Greece were a dime a dozen, especially if they were the children of either Zeus or Poseidon. Not to mention the implied incest thing as, in mythology, Hippolyta is the daughter of Ares who is Zeus’s son thus making him Diana’s great grandfather. Zeus, for all his faults (and there were a lot) usually waited until the third generation before trying any incest stuff with mortals (hence why he tried to seduce Diana in George Perez’s run). More direct incest stuff was more Poseidon’s thing. …Goeff Johns came up with this Zeus thing, didn’t he? Yes, I know Brian Azzerello made the book, but it feels like a studio note and Johns has never understood Wonder Woman. Seriously: raised by a loving community of immortal warrior women, honour, truth, compassion, done. How is this hard to understand? Is her being made from clay too hard to understand? What do you think the biblical Adam was made from? People seem to get that just fine.
Yes, it makes sense in context, it’s built up, and it streamlines the origin (I guess), but the reveal is also part of the weak third act. I honestly didn’t care about Diana and Ares (Probably the 2nd best Pre-Aquaman main villain, though that’s not saying much and the other two villains in this film were far more interesting) fighting. I was more interested by Steve and the rest of the group trying to stop the poison. Yeah, Diana’s revelation of humanity’s worth is good and all, but still. Let’s be honest, a lot of my problems with Wonder Woman (which is pretty much a bunch of its third act) are leftover crap from the Snyderverse that will hopefully get excised out after the Flashpoint movie or if they decide to do anything with their crossover with the Arrowverse. Maybe they’ll even bring General Antiope back to life. Or better, give Hippolyta back her wife, Philippus. Have Diana fight some mythological monsters. That’d be cool.
Okay, some good points: I like the setting change from WW2 to WW1 as it makes the bad guys more ambiguous than just “Of course they’re evil. They’re nazis.”. I like period pieces overall so this was nice. Diana and the Amazons are well done. They got the theme and characterization of Wondy correct. It’s great to see a film about a woman made by a woman for once…didn’t I already make a review of this?…oh yeah, I did. Go read that.
The pacing is pretty weird, but the third act is a big improvement on Wonder Woman’s. I’ve always thought Aquaman’s New 52 origin made more sense than about 90% of everything else they came up with in that era of DC comics so I’m glad that was brought over. Not surprising as it was more streamlined, but also making Arthur’s biggest relationships pre-movie be his parents, and pseudo uncle, as well as parrelling it in his two antagonists was an excellent idea. Sorry, I really just don’t have a lot to say on this film, I really like it and think it’s a perfect Aquaman film. I also already reviewed it.
…You want me to talk about the controversy, don’t you? Look, I’m not sure which side of it I fall on at this point. There’s been too many different versions of events and arguments for and against either party. I will say I liked Heard as Mera and have been interested to see her in the sequel as the new Queen of Atlantis. Okay? Okay.
Other than the whole ‘Dear Gods! Why are we still using the New 52 crap for Captain Marvel?!’ thing, I honestly don’t have a lot of negatives for Shazam!. For one thing, it’s an improvement on the New 52 comics in a lot of ways. The most notable being that Billy is no longer Damian Wayne lite. He’s still a good kid. He’s just focused on finding his missing mother and sees foster care as a distraction from finding his only known family, not accepting that maybe she doesn’t want to be found because, well, she’s his mother. Why wouldn’t she?
For another, they, and Aquaman to a lesser extent, focus on something I’ve always thought more DC stuff should focus on more: family. For all DC tends to put groups of heroes into ‘families’ (ie ‘Bat Family’, ‘Super Family’, ‘Flash Family’, etc) not many of them actually explore that, especially in recent years. The closest we’ve really gotten recently is in Flash since both Wallys are the nephews of Barry’s love interest and Wally has his family back, not to mention the stuff in the CW show. (I’d say Superman too, but I’m still pissed about them Chriskenting Jon) Shazam! is ultimately about a boy learning that family doesn’t have to be biological.
While I have a lot of problems with the New 52 comic, I do like that they made a new version of the Marvel Family. It wasn’t always just Billy, Mary, and Freddy. They were just the only ones to crossover into the DC Universe after the first Crisis. There were other members and I’m not talking about characters like Hoppy The Marvel Bunny and Uncle Dudley. There were three Lieutenant Marvels as well: three other boys named Billy Batson who became known as “Fat Marvel”, “Hill Marvel”, and “Tall Marvel”…..yeah I like Darla, Eugene, and Pedro better too…though we need to give them actual hero names.
Also, Freddy’s not blonde. I appreciate that. Blonde Freddy looks like a douche.
Also also: It was fun! You know, something comic book movies should be. The kids are all fun. Being Captain Marvel is fun. A kid who turns into a grown up with the mind of a kid is a hard thing to mess up and I’m so glad they did it so well. The bad guys are literal monsters so there’s no worry about killing them. Great wish fulfillment.
I do wonder how they’re gonna do the next film, considering there’s now a six year gap between filming and half the main cast are children. I mean, Mary they could get away with because her actress is in her 20s, but I don’t think you could do that with the others. Unless they just decide to leave the kids out and have them in hero form the whole time, which I think would be a mistake.
Birds of Prey:
Still not using the full title. It took me a while, but I’ve come around on Cassandra Cain in this film….with one caveat. I’m fine with her talking. It wouldn’t be interesting if she wasn’t. I’m even fine with her not doing martial arts. There’s a lot of bad Asian stereotypes wrapped up in there. What I’m not fine about is the eraser of her disability, specifically her dyslexia. True, it’s probably because there wasn’t time to mention “Oh yeah, she has dyslexia.” and they could probably bring it up if she appears in another movie, but, as someone who is also neurodivergent (though not dyslexic), it still rubs me the wrong way. Still, Ella Jay Basco was adorable and gave a good performance.
UPDATE: ….Oh my Gods they just made her Stephanie Brown….Why the fuck didn’t they just make her Asian Stephanie Brown?! Never mind. I’m pissed again.
This is a Harley Quinn movie. Not that that’s a bad thing, but the rest of the characters really need their own movies, Huntress and Renee especially. I only don’t mention Black Canary because they’re probably gonna wait a bit before giving her her own movie considering Arrow just ended and besides the Birds of Prey the only other well known things about Black Canary are the Justice League (which they are not touching with a ten foot pole until after The Batman/Flashpoint comes out) and her relationship with Green Arrow. So, who knows on that point? Maybe a Black Canary film would be based off that series where she was a rock star? I’d watch that. My point is there needs to be a Birds of Prey 2 without Harley. Though the director wants to make a Harley movie with Ivy in it and I’m all for it. Give us our bi lesbians!
I like the characters. They actually used my favourite superhero instead a mix of her and her mother like in the current comics. I need more of her, Huntress, and Renee. Make Renee the Question, please and thank you. Keeping the characters’ canon sexualities: good. Keep that up. I know some people have problems with Black Mask because he didn’t actually have a black skull face, but I thought Ewen McGreggor did a great job and he’s easily in my Top 3 favourite DCEU villains. Just, perfect hate sink scumbag, like Umbridge or Count Olaf. Zsasz, also a good villain. Good second in command. Not sure if they wanted to make him and Black Mask a couple or make Zsasz be pining for him, but that’s what it looks like and I kinda dig it. The design of the movie is fantastic. I like colours in my superhero movies. Go figure. One reviewer described it as “Deadpool with glitter bombs” and that is really a perfect description and is another reason I really like this movie. I like Deadpool. I like Harley. Harley Quinn was one of the only comics I read from the New 52, where she’s basically Deadpool. Big shocker: I like a Harley movie that plays like a Deadpool film. Make another one.
Wonder Woman 1984:
This movie is a mess, but it’s still significantly better than Justice League so it goes on here.
Diana sleeping with Steve while he’s in some rando’s body is skeevy as hell. I can maybe forgive her because she didn’t know it was temporary or she thought Steve was reincarnated and got his memories back so it really was his body, but it still seems like something that should have been mentioned instead of ignored. The body guy doesn’t even get a name. There’s also the whole, Diana is hung up on this guy she met like seventy years ago for like a week and hasn’t moved on thing. Yeah. I get why people don’t like that. Fair. I think it might’ve been a holdover from the Snyderverse since it was in Justice League, but I have no proof of that so…yeah. And OH LOOK! Geoff Johns co-wrote this. Why am I not surprised!
While I like what they did with Max Lord, even if the McGuffen is a bit weird, Cheetah should have been done better. This is Wonder Woman’s big bad. Above Ares, above Circe, above Giganta. This is Diana’s archnemesis. I like that they did away with the more racist and sexist parts of her backstory (the stuff with the African tribe, their god, and his need for a virgin) and that they kept some of the retconned one from the recent comics: she’s a friend gone bad. The whole becoming outwardly beautiful and powerful at the cost of her inner beauty (goodness, compassion, ie the stuff that she and Diana had in common) is good and Cheetah’s motive of jealousy in the comics was the original idea of making her a foil to Wonder Woman (good love vs bad love). But she has so little screen time compared to Lord. Honestly, she should have been the main villain instead of just being Lord’s sidekick. Maxwell Lord is a Wonder Woman villain only because she’s the one who killed him in the comics about twenty years ago. He’s more of a Justice League villain. Like I said, I like Lord here, he’s sympathetic and has good intentions. The problem is that CHEETAH IS WONDER WOMAN’S ARCHNEMESIS!! Why is she playing second fiddle??!!
That being said, I like her full Cheetah appearance but it and her needed more screentime. Unless they want to say the powers she got from Diana and never gave up kept her from aging, we’re probably not gonna see her again. Making this even worse. Wigg and Pascal were great though.
That being said. I like the 80s design of the film and I like Diana and Steve as a battle couple and also just doing couple things. Steve being the fish out of water this time was adorable. It’s good romance, it makes for nice melodrama, and if it were in a better movie it probably would have done better….Look I like this hot mess okay. …The McGuffen Monkey’s Paw was kinda dumb though. Honestly, I didn’t mind it so much. It was still fun.
Also, flying, invisible jet, the Amazon scene which didn’t need to exist but who cares it was nice to see them again. Do better for Wondy 3. I recommend Doctor Psycho for the villain.
In case anyone’s wondering:
- 4. Wonder Woman 1984
- 3. Wonder Woman / Aquaman (I genuinely couldn’t decide which one I liked better. I like the time period and pacing of one better, but I like the third act and backstory of the other better too. So, tie.)
- 2. Birds of Prey
- 1. Shazam!
There’s the list. Gosh, another thing that took me a year to make. Okay, next week….something else. Maybe. Assuming I don’t just let this thing sit for another year.
….You know I was gonna do a review of Birds of Prey at one point. Wrote a whole paragraph about how Harley is better than Joker to open it too. Oh well, guess I’m saving it for Birds 2.