A Look At DC’s New Film JOKER


Hey Everyone,

Paul here…

The Red Hood. The Pale Man. The Clown Prince of Crime… THE JOKER. Without a doubt the best villain in comic book history and one of the best characters in all of fiction. 

  Batman is the best superhero in comics, so his arch nemesis should reflect his greatness. All of Batman’s villains, the best rogues gallery in superhero fiction, reflect Batman in some way, some aspect of his psyche. Harvey Dent represents Batman’s struggle with duality, Ra’s Al Ghul represents Batman’s temptation to take his mission too far and commit to a darker way of trying to save society, The Penguin represents the idea of the wealth and privilege he was born with turning into something ugly, greedy, and gluttonous, and so on…

    Then, there’s The Joker. Batman’s true, broken reflection. To paraphrase better writers than me, Batman is an engine of meaning. He turns tragedy into purpose. As The Dark Knight Detective himself once famously said “My parents taught me a different lesson, dying in the gutter for not reason at all. They taught me that the world only makes sense… when you force it to.” Everything Batman does is built upon the foundation of that idea. That his actions and his mission have meaning.

     That’s why The Joker is Batman’s greatest antagonist. The Joker’s point to Batman is that nothing we do has meaning. It’s all pointless. The Joker is trying to prove to Batman that his mission, his ideology, is pathetic. It’s a joke. There is no greater meaning to life. Nothing you do matters. He’s inviting Batman to abandon his beliefs, to come with him and embrace how The Joker sees the world. In doing so, he’ll become truly transcendent and immortal, but most of all, free.

    Which brings me to the upcoming film JOKER starring Joaquin Phoenix….

Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur Fleck the man who’ll become The Joker

Over the past several years DC has announced literally dozens of films. Many of which will never see the light of day. Remember that Flash movie that came out back in March 2018? Yeah, me neither, because they didn’t fucking make it. They’ve announced so many movies at this point it’s hard to take them seriously when they do. So when a stand alone film focusing on The Joker was announced I really thought it would never be made. DC seemed to be trying to build a coherent movie universe like Marvel and I didn’t see them realistically making a movie focusing on Jared Leto’s Joker, who was divisive at best. 

   Then I started to here that they were going in a different direction. That Martin Scorsese and Robert DeNiro were involved and my skepticism grew. No way was Martin Scorsese directing a DC film. Finally, it became clear that this was a stand alone movie existing OUTSIDE the established DC movie universe that Aquaman, Wonder Woman, and SHAZAM! exist in. Todd Phillips would be directing, whose credits include Road Trip, Old School, The Hangover Trilogy, and War Dogs. Martin Scorsese would produce the film, co-staring DeNiro, with Joaquin Phoenix as The Joker in an origin movie telling the story of the man who becomes The Clown Prince of Crime. This is the movie hitting theatres this October and you can check out the trailer below:

Looks pretty good, right? However, at no point have I had any interest in this project. Despite the fact that the trailer seems to show a genuinely good movie with what could be a great performance from Joaquin Phoenix, the only reaction I can have to this movie is ambivalence. The reason being that I think telling a straight up origin story for The Joker is kind of missing the point of a large part of the character. If this were “officially part of the DC movie universe”, I’d be genuinely pissed this movie is being made. However, because the movie is it’s own thing, a one off crime story that doesn’t involve Batman (even though we do see a young Bruce Wayne and Thomas Wayne is a major character) I can live with them telling their fucking Joker origin movie.

  Oh, I almost forgot! Here’s a real fucking shocker the movie is drawing inspiration from comic book stories like… wait for it… THE KILLING JOKE! Brav-fucking-vo! How original! 

  Don’t give me wrong, the comics have hinted at possible origins for The Joker in the past. But that’s what they were: HINTS, possibilities, not a concrete origin. That was one of the reasons The Dark Knight was so brilliant, the story of how The Joker got his scars was different every time he told it, one of my favorite aspects of the film. They had no fucking idea who this guy was. He had no past, he came out of nowhere, he was like the fucking bogeyman. I’ve always said that The Joker is to the normal citizens of Gotham, what Batman is to it’s criminals: a terrifying, unexplainable nightmare.

  The only reason DC is choosing to tell an origin story for The Joker is because everyone and their fucking grandmother knows who The Joker is. Even if you fucking hate comic books or comic book movies you know who The Joker is. 

   I think it’s kind of a shame that Joaquin Phoenix looks like he may be giving an excellent performance as The Joker. Wouldn’t it be so much more entertaining to see that performance in a real Batman film? 

   If he knocks it out of the park in the role, it would be kind of a shitty scenario because we always want to see Batman go up against a great Joker. As I wrote earlier in the article, Batman and The Joker have this very complex relationship that spans years. Yet we’ve only ever seen them face off against one another in one film in their different incarnations. In Tim Burton‘s Batman they killed the character off and the tragic death of Heath Ledger meant we wouldn’t see that character in Nolan’s Batman universe beyond The Dark Knight. One thing we genuinely haven’t seen from the Batman and Joker dynamic on film, is how that relationship plays out over years of twisted, violent confrontations. 

   Well, that’s my two cents anyway. I’m sure there’s a lot of you out there who will disagree with me and that’s fine. For now, I just needed to comment on this project, but this is not a film I’ll be rushing out to the theater to see.

JOKER hits theaters October 4th

As always thanks for reading!

-Paul

MUST WATCH: Supergirl “The House Of L” or Holy S#$t We Actually Have A Good Live Action Lex Luthor!

Hey Everyone,

Paul here…

I wanted to take a minute to talk about Supergirl on the CW. Before I get into the show, I want to put something in context first. Lex Luthor is by far one of my favorite comic book characters. I think different generations have their own definitive superman. To many people of a certain age Richard Donner’s Superman with Christopher Reeves as the Man of Steel, is the standard by which all other portrayals of the character are judged. 

   For a lot of people in my generation, Superman The Animated Series is THEIR Superman in the same way Christopher Reeves was for previous generations. Superman The Animated Series ( or STAS or brevity’s sake) is by far my favorite interpretation of the Superman mythos. However, the show doesn’t only have what is, in my opinion, the best on screen Superman that we’ve had it also has the best Lex Luthor. Anytime a new Superman film is being made I’m always hoping to see the filmmakers will portray Lex Luthor as the incredibly interesting and complex character that he is. Unfortunately, my hopes are never realized. When Lex inevitably gets fucked up, I always find myself saying why the fuck don’t they just do the Lex Luthor from the animated series? Clancy Brown, who did the voice of Lex are on STAS  is my iconic Luthor. 

     I’ve said this many times, but Lex Luthor for at least the last 30 years has been portrayed in the comic books as what I describe as a slightly more amoral Tony Stark. In fact, the argument could be made that Tony Stark is more dangerous than Lex Luthor in many ways. Yet I keep seeing these goofy, stupid portrayals of Lex on the big screen. Have these people even bothered to pick up a Superman comic book from the past three decades besides The Death of Superman? 

     Kevin Spacey was just playing Gene Hackman as Lex. In Superman Returns, Lex has what is without a doubt the stupidest master plan from a super villain in a comic book movie. The master plan involving real estate is another example of a generation that is so overly reverent towards the Christopher Reeves Superman that it actually hurts the film. Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor was an abortion for the eyes (I REFUSE to even include a photograph of him as the character in this article). It’s was a fucking disgrace and everyone involved in the decisions that resulted that version of ”Lex”. * A quick side note: I’ve heard a few people insist that Jesse Eisenberg‘s Lex Luthor is actually supposed to be the son of the real, more traditional Lex Luthor, that would’ve been introduced down the line. I never took that from BvS at any point. I could be wrong, but I’m almost 100% sure that this was supposed to be straight up Lex Luthor, not Lex Jr. I’m not sure of people where people are getting that one from and if anyone could clarify in the comments, I’d love to hear your thoughts. The only live action take on the character that I thought was done well, was Michael Rosenbaum on Smallville. Smallville was a silly and sometimes campy show, but Lex was always one of the show’s strongest aspects. 

     To my surprise, it was announced that this season of Supergirl would be introducing Lex Luthor for the first time. It was it wasn’t going to be a one off either, he was going to be on the show for a good while. For some reason Warner Bros. and DC have had this weird rule for a long time, that they seem to be bending now for some reason, that prohibits character’s like Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and some other big characters like Lex Luthor from appearing in a live action television show and a film at the same time. The reasoning that they seem to give is that the audience will just be baffled at the idea of two different people portraying this character, which tells you everything you really need to know about how the creative intelligence off Hollywood executives.

In Supergirl’s second season, the two part premiere episodes introduced Tyler Hoechlin as Superman. He did a fantastic job and there’s an argument to be made that he’s the best live-action Superman right now. I like this version of the character so much that I’d like to see more of him, but I’m happy they didn’t make his appearance a one off.  He appeared on Supergirl later in season two and has popped up a few more times on the series in the last couple of years. Even cooler was when Superman was a big part of this year‘s excellent Arrowverse Crossover Elseworlds, where they also introduced Lois Lane for the first time. Like I said, it always seems like those characters were off-limits, so I was pleasantly surprised that we’ve seen as much of Superman as we have.

    The same thing happened when they announced Lex was going to be on Supergirl. Then they announced Jon cryer would be playing Lex Luthor. At first glance this would seem like a terrible idea because he seem like just another skinny geek and that’s the last thing we want to see after Jesse Eisenberg‘s portrayal. But I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. I figured this guy is so incredibly loaded from his years on Two and a Half Men that he does not have to do any project he doesn’t want to do. So there must’ve been something he saw in this character that would allow him to stretch his acting muscles in a completely different way. He just spent over a decade doing comedy, I figured maybe he’s up for a darker role. 

    We are now two episodes in to Lex’s stint on Supergirl and goddamnit if he is not fantastic in this role. So far he’s been pretty close to what I’ve been looking for with this character. He’s a genius, manipulative, he has his cool battle armor. It’s much more in line with the Lex Luthor we see in modern comics. 

His second episode really impressed me because we saw how he had been behind (in one way or another) much what has happened on the show in the last few years. It was established early on in the series that Lex Luthor was in prison when Supergirl began. Using flashbacks, this weeks episode showed what Lex has been up to since he’d been convicted of Crimes Against Humanity. It was fantastic it showcase for John Cryer is in this role.

 I’ve always been a huge Arrowverse fan, even though it’s best days are behind it in many ways. Despite my love of the Arrowverse, I’ve never really been that big of a fan of Supergirl (the series not the character). I think the series has done an excellent job with their portrayal of the character. Mellissa Benoist is great as The Girl of Steel, for some reason I find her at her most charming and entertaining in the crossover episodes. She’s a very interesting contrast to Barry Allen and especially Oliver Queen.

   However, in my opinion the show really excels at using characters and stories from Superman‘s mythology. For example, they did an episode that was an adaptation for the classic Alan Moore Superman story For The Man Who Has Everything. This season also saw the introduction of Manchester Black and The Elite who were first introduced in another iconic Superman story What’s So Funny About Truth, Justice, And The American Way?. Even in the first season, they reveal about halfway through that one of the main characters was actually J’onn J’onnz; The Martian Manhunter. That blew my fucking mind. He’s been a fixture in the Arrowverse ever since and I love seeing him shape shift into his classic Martian form. Most of the time he appears as a human man because he’s a shape shifter and it would be way too expensive for the show to have him in full Martian Manhunter mode all the time.

I even loved how they’ve used classic Superman villains like Metallo, Parasite, White Martians and the Kryptonian villain Non, one of the general Zod’s right hand men. He is usually portrayed as muscle for General Zod, just a big, dumb, strong antagonist for Superman to fight. But he actually has a pretty tragic backstory. He was lobotomized by The Kryptonian Council as punishment for crimes he committed. There was a time that he was a mentor to Jor-El, one of Krypton‘s most brilliant scientists. 

    All of this has just been a very long winded way of saying how great it is to see a fantastic live action Lex Luthor. The season in general has been strong even though I have problems with some of their heavy handed attempts at making the story a real world to allegory. Despite that big flaw, there have been some very cool and exciting stories and characters being used on Supergirl that make a fan like me pay attention. I would definitely recommend going to iTunes or on-demand and checking out the last two episodes of Supergirl, the first one with Lex Luthor’s appearance is O’ Brother Where Art Thou. Cryer had a great start in that installment, but I was even more impressed with how good he is in this role in his second episode. I wouldn’t say I’m that big enough fan of Supergirl to recommend diving into the series as a whole, but I definitely think if you’re a big DC fan and you finally want to see a solid Lex Luthor,  check out these episodes. I’d also recommend checking out any of the episodes where Superman makes an appearance and this year’s crossover with Arrow and The Flash: Elseworlds. While I’m on the subject of crossovers, with the most ambitious and thrilling crossover the Arrowverse has ever attempted, Crisis on Infinite Earths, debuting this fall, Lex being a major player in the Arrowverse now makes that already exciting crossover even more interesting.

With Lex seemingly not going anywhere for the rest of the season, I cannot wait to see what else the show’s writers and John Cryer do with this extremely interesting take on Lex Luthor. As always thank you for reading!

-Paul

MUST WATCH: The Flash “Time Bomb”

Hey Everyone,

Paul here…

For the first two Seasons of The Flash, it was one of my top shows. I loved The Flash and The Arrowverse in general as much as shows like Game of Thrones or Netflix’s Daredevil (before you freak out, I’m not saying that The Flash, at its best, was as good as those shows. I’m just saying I enjoyed The Flash almost as much as those series). The first two Seasons are among the best live action superhero stories brought to any screen. Things started to get dicey in the 3rd Season, it wasn’t reaching the heights of what had come before. However, because the way the story in Season 3 is told, the audience doesn’t have the full picture of what’s been going on until much later in the season. Giving Season 3 a rewatch reveals a flawed, but very good/great season. Sadly, after the Season 3 finale, the show had it’s best days behind it. Season 4 sucked and Season 5 (the current season) has me barely interested in the show anymore. However, despite my waning interest, I was really looking forward to Tuesday night’s episode, “Time Bomb”, for reasons I’ll explain below. Imagine my surprise when The Flash put out it’s best episode (non-crossover) episode in a few years with this heartbreaking installment.

   The over arcing story of the season revolves around, Nora Allen, Barry and Iris’s speedster daughter from roughly 30 years in the future, who has come back in time to correct a mistake she made by messing with the timeline. According to Nora, basically Team Flash has to stop a super villain called Cicada, which will somehow correct the timeline, and Nora will return to her own time period. I feel like this show doesn’t do a good job of explaining why Nora needs to fix the timeline in the first place. I get that a dangerous villain called Cicada has become even more dangerous due to the change in the timeline, but beyond that the plans for Nora’s return home are unclear. To me, with time travel being so dangerous in this universe the longer she stays in the past the more damage she would be doing. By hanging around with her parents decades before she was born, seems far more dangerous than stopping any villain. So I haven’t been that invested in the show until the mid season finale when they reveal that 30 years in the future Nora‘s mentor, the person who is giving her instructions on how to properly manipulate the timeline and use the Speed Force is none other than Eobard Thawne! He’s being held in a Supermax version of Iron Heights Prison In 2049 and he seems to genuinely want to help Nora. As we learn from the very first episode of the series, in Thawne’s Timevault there’s a futuristic front page hologram newspapers from the year 2024 that reads “THE FLASH VANISHES IN CRISIS“. So, Nora was a little girl who grew up without her legendary, hero father and then develops the superspeed she inherited from him. She needed a mentor to instructor her in how to use the Speed Force. In Nora’s defense, it’s clear that she didn’t understand just how much damage The Reverse-Flash had done to Barry and his life. Even though I am certain Thawne has an ulterior motive that benefits himself, he seems to truly care about Nora and almost views her as a surrogate daughter. 

       But time has run out, the shit has hit the fan, their plan has fallen apart. A desperate Nora runs into the future to find a despondent Thawne who says there’s nothing else they can do. Thawne tells Nora to do something that terrifies her: tell her father everything. Tell him about working with Thawne, Tell him about their attempts to change the timeline, and tell him the painful reality that she has been lying to him about working with his greatest enemy 

    What really fucked up the timeline was that Dwyer’s niece, Grace, all grown up, has come to the present from the future, using the Time Sphere the team built in Season 1. To continue what she saw as her now “meta-cured” Uncle’s “Mission” to kill all meta humans. She remarks that in her time, about 30 years from now, that meta humans have has grown at an exponential rate. Which makes sense because there are a shitload of other super heroes and super villains in the future. She has become the new Cicada.

Grace, all grown up and a complete fucking psychopath. The new Cicada from 30 years in the future

    Dwyer killed Metas as Cicada to protect and avenge his niece. He wanted to make the world a safer for a place for her when she comes out of her coma. He just wanted her to have a happy life. He is somewhat horrified that his beloved niece is so filled with the same hate and anger that led to him down his path to being Cicada. Grace becoming Cicada is the last thing he wants for her. So during her battle with Team Flash. Dwyer shows up, without his powers because he’s been cured, and tries to talk her down. He tells her that she needs to let go of her anger and move on. I saw this coming a mile away, but just as it looks like he might be getting through to her, she kills him with the meta dampening dagger that now belongs to her. This is where we really see just how much more of a psychopath she is compared to her uncle. As her dies in The Flash’s arms, Dwyer’s touching last words to Barry are “Save my Grace.” Even though she just murdered him, she’s the only thing he’s truly loved. Even if he’s dying all he really cares about is his niece Grace. When he asks Barry to save her I think he means save her from the path to Cicada. From one father to another, Dwyer asks Barry to save his child’s soul.

    Team flash manages to track down Cicada’s next target, a woman named Vickie Bolen. Several years ago, without quite understanding how her powers worked, she accidentally blew up an ATM, seemingly killing Grace’s parents. Because at the time of the explosion meta-humans were being kept under wraps in Central City, so Bolen remarks that she takes blame for the ATM explosion but “Thanks  God that no one was hurt”. She was blissfully ignorant to the fact that she’s probably the person who killed Grace’s parents. I say “probably” because who the fuck knows on a show like this sometimes. CCPD/Team Flash, which is essentially the same thing for all intents and purposes on this mission because everyone involved works for CCPD and Team Flash, realize the incident wasn’t her fault and the team insist on protecting her and her family from this very dangerous new Cicada. Bolen’s daughter was slightly injured, so they wait for the attack at Central City Hospital.

    This leads to an excellent action sequence that relied on special FX, when Grace shows up to kill this woman Team Flash is protecting. Standing outside the hospital, Grace unleashes the Dagger with Barry realizing a split second before anybody that the dagger is coming, which will take away their powers and it’s headed right at the woman they’re trying to protect. In a really cool piece of special FX, everything slows way down to flash time the dagger crashes through the window of the hospital. Nora’s powers start to drain away in the presence of the dagger as she and Barry take off in the other direction to try to save Bolen. However, Barry is a little bit ahead of Nora and he’s able to get around the corner, get his Flash suit on as it blows out of his ring, and get to Bolen just before she’s about to be killed by the dagger. Nora super speeds Bolen out of there with the dagger flying behind them like a heat seeking missile close behind. Meanwhile Barry goes to face off with Grace. It was a really cool scene and I liked seeing Nora try to out run this weapon and save this woman, while Team Flash comes up with a plan to save them. It seems that lately the special Fx haven’t lived up to the amazing standard set by the show’s first three seasons. Their FX is usually great, especially for a network show. Even though I think the FX has dipped a little recently, this was a very cool action sequence.

   And then we come to the end of things…. The team has saved the day, for now, and are looking to head out to grab a well deserved drink together. This is when Cecile picks up on the fact that Nora wants to tell them all something and everything from this moment on in the episode is pretty brutal.

Grant Gustin, Jessica Parker Kennedy, and Tom Cavanuogh each give Excellent performances in this episode. Stand outs include: Barry’s look of utter betrayal and horror when he finds out his daughter was working with Thawne. Nora’s opening scene with Thawne; everything they’ve risked, everything they’ve been working towards has been completely fucked. Nora’s panic and terror that the plan failed and Thawne’s crushed acceptance made for a memorable scene. Jessica Parker Kennedy knocked it out of the park throughout the entire episode; portraying the utter terror and desperation Nora feels at the prospect of her secret coming to light. Especially in the first scene with Thawne and the final scene with Sherloque, (two very different men with the same face,  intense scenes that bookend the episode) she wanted to to tell her family the truth about working with Thawne, she even tried to confess to Barry a few times only to be interrupted. But she waited to long and Sherloque had finally put all the pieces together, which leads to Sherloque’s big speech telling the team how he followed the trail and solved this mystery (It’s a classic troupe of great detective stories, where the brilliant detective like Sherlock Holmes or Hercule Poirot lays out all the facts in front of the characters in the story. Sherloque is definitely more Poirot than Holmes, especially in this scene. I LOVE the “Detective Solved The Mystery And Gives His Speech About What’s Really Going On” scene in any story with a master detective. Tom Cavanough does a great job in this scene.

   There were a couple of times that almost got me a little misty in this episode. Like the wires dying words and the look of a hot air but trail on Barry‘s face when he realizes that Nora and Sean are working together. The final few seconds of nor is it breaking down in one of the pipeline cells was one of the most downbeat endings to a flash episode ever. Like I said before, I don’t think the Flash has had such a strong episode in a few seasons. I look forward to watching the next episode which won’t be airing again until April where we find out the back story of how Nora and Thawne got together in the first place, but this does not mean I’m back on The Flash bandwagon. This was just one excellent episode in a sea of mediocrity over the last several years. If you’re like me and you’ve liked The Flash in the past and maybe have given up on it a little bit, watch this episode. However, It’s so well done that the episode deserved appreciation on its own merits. 

   Anyway, thank you so much for reading as always I appreciate it! I’d love to hear your thoughts about this episode or about The Flash in general, you can leave your comments below or send me a message on Facebook or Twitter.

The Flash (S5, Ep17) “Time Bomb”: 9/10

-Paul

TRAILER: Justice League VS The Fatal Five!

SHey Everyone,

Paul here…

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The Fatal Five. This movie’s Big Bads.

You all know how much I love the MCU, but I think my favorite cinematic universe could be the what I’m going to call The Batman The Animated Series/Bruce Timm Universe. This Universe includes all time classics like Batman The Animated Series, Superman TheAnimated series, Batman Beyond, Justice League, and Justice League Unlimited. Bruce Timm having essentially created this shared universe, is the reason his name is a part of the universe’s title. I love both of these universes so much, it would be really hard to pick which of them I hold more dear.

FE5347A8-9147-4EFF-9B67-565B7D699C66   Honestly you’d have to have a gun to my head and a gun to gun my balls, with the gunman screaming in my face, “CHOOSE! NOW! PICK ONE! CHOOSE! I’M NOT FUCKING AROUND! DECIDE! YOU HAVE TO THE COUNT OF 3! THEN I’M GOING TO SHOOT YOU IN THE BALLS AND SHORTLY AFTER THAT, SHOOT YOU IN THE HEAD!CHOOSE! 3… ,2… ,1..!” Then I guess we’d have our answer. But until that day comes, I guess I’ll just have to keepthem both very special in my heart.

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 Which is why I wanted to share this trailer with you guys today. I’m a big fan of the animated movies that DC releases directly to Blu-ray and digital three or four times every year. Some of them are fucking spectacular and are probably some of my favorite comic book movies of all time. The movie I was most looking forward to this year is their adaptation of Batman: Hush, hitting later this year, in early or mid summer. However, while Hush is still my most anticipated DC animated film this year, after watching the trailer below, (which debuted on ign.com) Justice League VS The Fatal Five has my attention in a big, bad way. Check out the trailer below:

It appears, from the animation style, to the voice cast, to the people working on the film behind the scenes, that the movie takes place in The Batman The Animated Series/Bruce Timm Universe.  Last year they released a film called Batman & Harley Quinn that also seemed to take place in what I call the Batman The Animated Series/Bruce Timm Universe, but that movie was pretty shitty. While this one looks really great. It’s awesome to hear the original voice cast from these classic TV shows (I love hearing Kevin Conroy as Batman and George Newbern as Superman), in what looks like an extension of this classic universe, but with some new faces as well. New heroes including Ms. Martian, Mr. Terrific (2 of my personal favorites), Jessica Cruz Green Lantern, and Starman. I love see DC’s Trinity (Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman), alongside new and unique heroes.

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It looks like this is the next DC animated movie that’s coming out this year and they usually release their second film around March or April, with the summer release reserved for the third film. However this year they are releasing a fourth films, one of which will focus on Wonder Woman, so we may end up seeing Justice League VS The Fatal Five sooner than we think. I’m sure a release date will be announced soon. I wasn’t super interested in this project  at first, but after watching the trailer, I’m psyched.  I thought it looked great and I wanted to share it with all of you. Please let me know what you think in the comments below and thank you for reading!

 UPDATE: Justice League VS The Fatal Five will be available for Digital Download on 3/30/19 and Blu-Ray 4/16/19! I

-Paul

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MOVIE REVIEW: Reign of The Supermen

Hey Everyone,

Paul here… 

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  This month DC Animation is releasing the second movie in their two part Death of Superman saga, Reign of The Supermen. Reign of The Supermen begins roughly 6 months after The Death of Superman. The world is still in morning, but none more so than Lois Lane. Shortly before his death, due to his injuries sustained saving the city from Doomsday in the previous film, Clark and Lois’ relationship had reached the point where they were deeply in love with each other. Which makes Clark’s death all the more tragic, but more on that in a moment.

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    Even with the fantastic action sequences we come to expect, I’ve really enjoyed the small character moments in both of these movies that give the films some heart. For example, the developing friendship between Lois Lane and Wonder Woman added a nice layer to the film. Superhero comics are often so male focused, we don’t get to see enough positive female friendships. Even though it’s Clark’s death that brings them together in this film, it’s great to see their bond develop throughout the film. Even though they are very different people in many ways, it makes a lot of sense that they would like each other, that they’d hit it off. 

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Lois and Diana just chillin’

   A problem DC characters face that most Marvel characters don’t, is the fact that the Justice League are almost a modern day pantheon of gods. Which can make them seem distant, inhuman and unrelatable. Seeing Lois and Diana together in civilian attire bonding at a local pub is a great scene that humanizes these larger than life characters. It’s a small moment, but I hope the writers take the opportunity to grow this relationship. There’s great dramatic and comedic potential in pairing Lois and Diana in this and future films.

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   As, I touched upon earlier, when that film began, Lois and Clark have been dating long enough that they both knew some serious choices needed to be made in their relationship. Was this just a fun office romance? Or is it something real? They love one another, but Clark struggles with how and if he should tell Lois that he is Superman. Their love story is a key story aspect of that film.

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   I think the decision to make this story into two films really works and you see that decision pay off here. Considering the ambition of the story they were telling, this does feel like one film, cut in two, instead of two separate movies. I hope they put out a deluxe edition with both films together like they did with The Dark Knight Returns Part One and Two. There are so many callbacks and little moments connected to the first film, that if you haven’t seen The Death of Superman, you may not understand the emotional impact of certain moments.

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   Following Superman’s death, four new “Superman themed” heroes appear. The question to some is, if somehow one of them could be the real deal. First there’s Steel, a scientist named John Henry Irons we’d met in a few previous DCAU films. Irons has essentially built Superman-themed Iron Man armor. He has a particularly cool mechanized hammer, almost like a high tech version of Thor’s new ax/hammer in Infinity War. With his flowing red cape and the S on his armor, he cant quite reach the power level of the original Man of Steel, but he certainly holds his own.

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  Then there’s the teenage Superboy, a LexCorp sponsored hero reveling in his celebrity and all too eager to prove himself to be the hero that Superman was and so much more. Unfortunately, he finds out the hard way that a cocky attitude and bravado can’t compete with the years of experience the original Superman had under his belt. His origin is pretty dark and I won’t spoil it here, if you don’t know it already. Some may find his character to be a little bit annoying, but I found there to be an underlying tragedy to the character and I thought his relationship with Lex Luthor was particularly interesting.

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Superboy and his complicated relationship with Lex Luthor

  I don’t want to go into full spoilers, but there are 2 other contenders for the title of the new Man of Steel: The dangerous Eradicator and Cyborg-Superman. Both are much darker figures than Steel and Superboy. Strangely, it seems that if any of these new “heroes” are Kal-El of Krypton reborn, Cyborg-Superman seems like the best bet, but like all of the new Superman figures there is more to him than meets the eye.

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The Eradicator

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Cyborg-Superman

  When the shit really starts to hit the fan, the movie finds a particularly clever way to take of the Justice League out of the equation for the big final battle at the end of the film. Had the Justice League been present, it definitely would’ve created major story problems, so it was nice to see that was handled well. The absence of the Justice League forces some unpredictable and surprising figures to step up and act more heroically than you may expect, including Lex Luthor.

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     Rainn Wilson returns to the role of Lex Luthor in this film after first playing him in The Death of Superman. I really like how Lex is portrayed in both of these movies. He is undoubtably self-serving, amoral, and even a flat out piece of shit at times. However, he doesn’t want to see mankind destroyed or brought low. He genuinely wants to help the human race and at times, under the right circumstances, he can even act heroically. The film leaves him in a particularly interesting place in this regard and I‘m very much looking forward to see where they take the character from here.

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Lex Luthor himself

In my review for last year’s The Death of Superman (Read it here:  https://best-media-world.com/2018/07/29/movie-review-the-death-of-superman/   ), I mention how the film feels very much like a story about Clark Kent “the man” first and foremost. Not Superman, just Clark Kent. The Death of Superman is about the young man who grew up on a Kansas farm raised by wonderful parents. 

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If The Death of Superman was about Clark Kent, Reign of The Supermen is all about Lois Lane.  She’s the lead in this film. Sure, we have four new Superman “replacements/Wannabes/psychos” running around that are crucial to the story, But make no mistake this is Lois’s film. We get to see you Lois in action playing the hero on a level I don’t think we’ve ever seen her before outside of the comics. Even without the costume and the powers she almost feels like the superhero of the film. I mentioned before that at some point in the film the Justice League are taken out of the equation and there are people seriously fighting out of their weight class. Lois Lane is of course one of these people. She manages to hold her own in against one of the most dangerous super villains in the DC Universe and the movie makes it work. Almost like Batman, Lois uses her cunning and what weapons she has at her disposal to take on some real heavy hitters. Lois and Lex Luthor, as characters are probably some of the strongest parts of this film

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  I don’t really want to get into the method in which a Superman is resurrected. I mean, c’mon! We all knew he was coming back. No one thought he going to stay dead. But the events surrounding his resurrection, put Superman at a slight disadvantage. Which was another creative way to up the stakes for the characters, especially when Superman is often labeled as being too powerful in his stories.

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He’s got the black suit! And the beard! AND THE MULLET!! FUCK YEAH!!!

  There are some really great action sequences in the climax. Some of the animation in particular is very dynamic, fluid, almost anime  . That turns some people off, but I think it looks really cool and I thought it especially worked for this film. 

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SOME SPOILERS IN THE FOLLOWING PARAGRAPH 

Beware…

 

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     The Death Of Superman strongly hinted at the mastermind behind the events in both of these films. It won’t be too hard to guess the individual’s identity. SLIGHT SPOILERS FOR FUTURE POSSIBLE FILMS: I really like how the story leaves  Superman and the rest of the Justice League contemplating how to deal with the threat of Darkseid. This was his revenge for his failed invasion of Earth in Justice League: War (Though it seems he blames Superman for that defeat more than the other heroes for some reason). The JL knows that Darkseid is going to keep coming and they’re going to have to do something about him. I’m really excited for the story possibilities this set up for future movies. I hope the folks at DC animation take full advantage of the storytelling potential. Oh, and stay for the post-credits scene! Not only is it important to some potential future films but it’s also just really fun and funny. Don’t  miss it

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It looks like we may be getting an adaptation of The Darkseid War

 

 

END SPOILERS 

 All in all, I loved The Death of Superman, I don’t think Reign of The Supermen quite reached the heights of the previous film. However, it still has a lot going for it that makes it absolutely worth a watch. For a fun and exciting superhero movie with some above average character work and thrilling action sequences, you can’t go wrong with Reign of The Supermen. I definitely recommend you check it out.

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Reign of The Supermen: B-

Thanks for reading!

Review by Paul J. Wright

New Trailer & Poster For SHAZAM!

Hey Everyone,

Paul here…

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  The folks over at DC and Warner Bros. must be feeling pretty damn good right about now. After years of attempting and failing to copy Marvel’s shared universe format, it finally seems like their superhero movies are on the right track. Wonder Woman was their first huge step in the right direction. Unfortunately, by the time Warner Bros realized Wonder Woman was a hit, production on the craptacular Justice League film was in full swing. I’m not quite sure what they could’ve done, but if production on Justice league had begun following the critical and commercial success of Wonder Woman, I think Warner Bros. probably would’ve tried to write the ship a little bit on JL. 

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  Anyway, you can’t change the past (Or can you?… Well… No, um, no. I don’t think you can… Actually, who’s to say?), so they went from the success of Wonder Woman, to the unavoidable speedbump of Justice League, and now they have another bona fide hit on their hands with Aquaman. A film which was both financially successful and generally well received by fans and audiences in general. However, the DCEU (I REFUSE to call it The Worlds of DC!) has another very big test coming up, their next movie: SHAZAM! (Yes, the exclamation point IS part of the title, not just for emphasis).

   DC just released the second trailer for SHAZAM!, which I have posted below. As well as a few pretty cool posters (one at the top of the article and one below) and some stills and pictures from the film. 

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This movie has the potential to make or break DC at this point. This is really their do or die film. Yes, Aquaman absolutely had a lot riding on it as well. Had that movie been a failure, it would’ve been disastrous for the DCEU. However, if they’re able to pull off SHAZAM! after the success of Aquaman, it demonstrates that Aquaman wasn’t a fluke (No, that’s not a lame pun). It shows that DC can consistently and reliably put out solid superhero films.

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If they somehow manage to pull another rabbit out of their ass and make SHAZAM! a success, it’s almost even more impressive because on the paper, both Aquaman and SHAZAM! are pretty fucking weird characters. Also, neither of them are very well known in mainstream pop culture. Based on this trailer, which is nothing mind blowing and that’s OK, I think they really need to nail the tone of this movie for it to work. If it’s too comedic and goofy it won’t work is a serious movie that has any real stakes. At the same time you want that sense of youthful fun and exuberance which comes with telling the Shazam story. It’s basically the superhero version of “Big”. Kid says the magic word “SHAZAM!” and he’s transformed into an adult superhero at will. His powers a magic based and they’re very similar to Superman’s, he can turn back into a kid at any time by repeating the magic word “SHAZAM!”. There’s no time limit. So they’re walking a really fine line here. 

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    Like I said, based on the trailer, it’s hard to see if they’re pulling it off. But I know I’m rooting for this movie because I like the character, I like the cast, and I just want to see good DC movies. Hopefully this will be another solid film after last months very good Aquaman and we’ll start to get some consistently great DC movies. There are so many amazing character occupying this Universe, it would be such a shame to miss out on all the possibilities. Anyway check out the trailer below and let me know what you think. Id love to hear your thoughts in the comments section or on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for reading have a great day!

-Paul

Superman: Afternoon Delight

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Superman is mostly portrayed as such a wholesome, pure character. A lot of people mentally associate him with classic Americana, like apple pie and Norman Rockwell. However, the best writers understand that the key to writing Superman is to highlight his humanity. Take the recent Superman #7 written by Brian Michael Bendis and drawn by Ivan Reis, for example. Something I’ve enjoyed in some of the recent Superman comics, especially Bendis’ Superman comics is, without being gratuitous, it’s clear that Clark and Lois have a healthy sex life. Yet Clark is still a big old Kansas farm boy, raised to be a respectful and decent son. 

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   So I loved a small moment in Issue #7, during a scene involving Clark and Lois’ adolescent son Jonathan. Jon who’s about 12 or 13, has been out traveling the cosmos with his grandfather, in what I guess is the Kryptonian version of backpacking through Europe. An unexpected problem presents itself When Clark quickly realizes that his son who is only been gone for a month or so has aged at least three years. At first he thinks this has something to do with one of those weird colored Kryptonites. You know, the yellow Kryptonite or the pink Kryptonite or … something like that. What was supposed to be a summer vacation has turned, through the weirdness of space travel (think the movie Interstellar) into Clark and Lois missing a pretty large portion of their sons life and development. It comes as no surprise that it’s quite a shock. 

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   After Clark’s emotional, but joyous reunion with his son, they of course go to see his mother, Lois whose been living out of a hotel in Metropolis for awhile now as she puts the finishing touches on her latest book. It’s implied that it is not uncommon for Clark to fly on by for a little afternoon delight semi-frequently, which is where the fun begins. 

 

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Clark flies up to her balcony and Lois is at her computer, writing, in nothing but a fluffy white hotel bathrobe and black underwear. Lois sees Clark before she realizes Jonathan is there, she begins to undo her bathrobe with a sultry little smirk, just as their son peaks around from behind Clark. It’s such a perfect moment seeing the absolute embarrassment on Clark’s face is he quickly shoots his arm up to cover his sons eyes and Lois’ mortified expression as she attempts to cover up and make herself look a bit more modest in front of her son. The small scene is a good example of how you can take a god and tell a story about a man.

What’s more human then those million little moments that make up life? Some good, some bad, and some, like this one, hilariously embarrassing. Writers often complain that Superman is a difficult character to write, I just think many of them don’t understand him. Like I said at the beginning, the key to any great Superman story is his humanity and this small scene illustrates that perfectly.

FIRST LOOK: DOOM PATROL TV Series On DC Universe!

Hey Everyone,

Paul…

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Last week, the DC UNIVERSE Streaming Service wrapped up the first season of it’s flagship original program, Titans. Considering that, initially, there was some negative buzz about the project, Titans turned out to be a damn good superhero show with a unique take on the DCU and a killer teaser for Season 2. There really isn’t a superhero show quite like Titans airing at the moment.

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One of the coolest parts of the season was how the show alternated episodes by focusing on the overarching, season-long story in one episode. While the next showcased great, but more obscure characters from DC lore and giving them time to shine. We met characters like Jason Todd (the new, borderline psychotic Robin), Hawk & Dove, Donna Troy aka Wonder Girl, and Doom Patrol.

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Doom Patrol popped up around the 4th episode of Titans and was a early highlight in Season 1. Raven is rescued by Garfield Logan aka Gar aka Beast Boy in his tiger form and then takes her to see the rest of his “family”, The Doom Patrol. The Doom Patrol lives in a mansion under the eye of The Chief whose real name is Dr. Niles Caulder. Each member of the Doom Patrol had been in some kind of sever accident and Dr. Caulder’s very bizarre methods saved their lives. However, though his strange methods saved their lives, the side effects of his treatments gave them special abilities. Some are so extreme that that they see themselves as freaks and become more or less shut ins. When Raven is ready to leave, Beast Boy decides to strikes out on his own with the Titans. The Doom Patrol will always be his family, but he needs to start his own journey. As happy as the rest of the Doom Patrol are for him, there’s a sense of tragedy because none of the rest can ever do that themselves. Gar’s the only one of them who can remotely pass as human. They want Gar to have what they can’t: Freedom to live his own life. Basically Doom Patrol is really, really, fucking weird.

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I can’t say I was much of Doom Patrol fan or knew that much about them besides Grant Morrison’s acclaimed Doom Patrol run from the comics years ago. Seeing an episode with those characters front and center made me kind of like them. They’re kind of goofy, but if you don’t take it too seriously the Doom Patrol characters are a lot of fun.

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For the moment, the plan for DC UNIVERSE is to make at least one episode of an original series available on the app each week. Of course, all of the the content the app provides, like free comic book downloads from DC’s library, DC films, and more.

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Young Justice: Outsiders (Part 1) will be available on DC UNIVERSE January 4, with 3 episode blocks coming out each week. Young Justice returns for Part 2 of the season  this summer.

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Shorty after Part 1 of Young Justice: Outsiders finishes up, the Doom Patrol series will premiere on February 15th. Even though these are the same characters, in the same universe, there are 2 big differences from the Doom Patrol series and the Doom Patrol episode of Titans. The Chief, the somewhat menacing Dr. Caulder, will be payed by Timothy Dalton.  While Cyborg has been added to the team in Beast Boy’s absence. Out of the many comic book series premiering in 2019, this has the potential to be a very fun and weird superhero show, so make sure to keep an eye out for this one.

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“Remember when I was in The Mummy?! (Sigh) Better days…”

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“I’m Timothy Dalton For Christ’s Sake! What the FUCK am I doing in this thing?!”

Check out the teaser below and these cool character posters in our first official look at the series. I’ll sat this it looks weird as hell and I really dig that.

What do you guys think of Doom Patrol? Are you going to give it a try? I’d love to hear your comments below.

-Paul

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PODCAST: Interview with comic book artist Craig Rousseau!

Hey Everyone,

Paul here…

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Batman Beyond by Craig Rousseau

I had the opportunity to sit down my with comic book artist Craig Rousseau and interview him about his work for Marvel, DC, and his creator owned projects! Craig has worked on characters like Impulse, Batman, Captain America, and The Avengers and has done excellent work with his creator owned projects such as PERHAPANAUTS and KYRRA published at Image and Darkhorse.  When I met with Craig during an event at The Hall of Comics in Southborough, MA, we had a great discussion about his career in the comic book industry and I thank him for taking the time to answer my questions. Please enjoy my interview with Craig Rousseau! Listen here or subscribe on Stitcher and iTunes:

https://www.spreaker.com/episode/16491752

iTunes:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-worlds-best-podcast/id1246038441?mt=2#episodeGuid=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.spreaker.com%2Fepisode%2F16491752

Special thanks to The Hall of Comics in Southborough, MA for making this interview happen! Check them out at https://thehallofcomics.com

 

Find out more about Craig at craigrousseau.com

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The team from Perhapanauts 

Thanks for listening!

-Paul

TV REVIEW: Elseworlds (Part 1)!

Hey Everyone,

Paul here…

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Tonight, Part 1 of the 3-part DC superhero crossover event Elseworlds aired on The CW. As I’ve often said, these annual crossovers are always a delight for me to watch. They’re always wildly entertaining and they seem to get more ambitious year after year. After watching the first episode of Elseworlds, I came away from the episode thinking of one word: Fun. This episode was fun as all hell.

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 All of the Arrowverse crossovers have been really fun, but compared to something like last year’s epic Crisis on EarthX, Elseworlds feels more exuberant and joyful. Don’t get me wrong, Crisis on EarthX was an absolute blast. However, watching Elseworlds, I don’t think I’ve ever seen this cast looking like they’re having more fun and It’s easy to see why.

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  Barry and Oliver are very different characters and the episode gets a lot of entertainment mileage and comedy out of them switching lives and abilities. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed more watching an episode of an Arrowverse show. It’s really funny seeing Oliver’s bewilderment at suddenly waking up with superspeed and the world believing that he is Barry Allen. While Oliver immediately feels out of his element, Barry seems to be getting much more of a kick out of suddenly having all of Green Arrow’s skills and fighting ability. 

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  For the purposes of this review, I’m not really going to touch on the overarching threat and the circumstances that altered reality. This episode focuses more on the “What do we do now?” than “How did this happen?”. Though we briefly see how this was set in motion, it’s a very minor part of the episode. I’m sure they’ll be covering much more of that territory in the next 2 installments.

Elseworlds, Part 1

 

   I only have one real criticism of the episode. Considering all of the insane things that Team Flash have seen and been through over the years, I found their reluctance to believe that Barry and Oliver had somehow switched powers and identities a little odd and out of character for the team. It really only exists in the story to give Barry and Oliver an excuse to go to Supergirl’s Earth and seek out Kara’s help. They figure that if something is wrong with their reality, another universe like Supergirl’s may not be affected. Of course they’re right and Supergirl recognizes them for who they are right away.

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  To my utter delight, Kara just so happens to be visiting her cousin, Clark Kent and his wife Lois Lane, on The Kent Family Farm when Barry and Oliver pop up in her universe. In a nice Easter Egg that will make many long time superhero TV show fans happy, The Kent Farm where they filmed this episode is the same Kent Farm that was used on the TV series Smallville. When we see the farm for the first time “Save Me” by Remy Zero, the them song to Smallville, kicks in and I’ll admit that had me grinning ear to ear. It was a hot mess at times, but I’ll always have a soft spot for Smallville.

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  As a long time DC Comics fan, it was so much fun seeing Barry, Oliver, and Kara interacting with Clark Kent and Lois Lane on The Kent Family Farm. In what I think was my favorite moment of the episode, as soon as Oliver meets Clark, he immediately starts puffing up his chest and Barry instantly calls him out on it. It’s great. 

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  Though we’ve seen relatively little of him over the last few years, Tyler Hoechlin is probably my favorite the live action Superman right now. Anytime he shows up in the Arrowverse is cause for celebration and his inclusion here does not disappoint. While it seems like he may be out of the picture at the end of the episode, I know for a fact we’ll be seeing him again throughout the crossover. I was equally impressed with Elizabeth Tulloch as Lois Lane. In what little screen time she has, she instantly embodies Lois Lane. She’s tough, funny, smart, and likable. As much as I like Amy Adams’ Lois Lane, Tulloch seemed really dialed in to the character and I can’t wait to see more of her as the crossover progresses.

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  Another very pleasant surprise was the inclusion of an iconic DC villain that’s the perfect enemy to have a Superman, Supergirl, The Flash, and Green Arrow go up against. Apparently in this new altered reality, Professor Ivo, the psychopathic scientist responsible for torturing Oliver and his fellow castaways on Lian Yu, killing Shado, and indirectly creating Deathstroke in Arrow Season 2, somehow got off the island alive. He opened his own lab in Central City and created the iconic, ultra powerful android A.M.A.Z.O. using advanced robotics, computer programming, and the Mirakuru super soldier serum that was such an intricate plot point in Arrow Season 2. A.M.A.Z.O. has the ability to immediately replicate the powers of any meta-human it comes into contact with. In the comics, it’s so powerful that even the Justice League have a difficult time handling this thing. So this was the perfect bad guy for the heroes to go up against in the climax of the episode.

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  Elseworlds only has three episodes, unlike last year which had four episodes and a much bigger cast. Legends of Tomorrow isn’t officially part of the crossover this year (part of me thinks that’s a shame because I would have loved seeing someone like John Constantine interact with the characters featured in Elseworlds ). This year has a much tighter focus so far on Barry, Oliver, and Kara. As a result more money went into these 3 episodes and it really shows on screen. More money means better special effects. You can really see how well that money was spent because A.M.A.Z.O. looks incredible and his final fight with our heroes is really, really fucking cool. The Arrowverse in general and The Flash In particular, has always had excellent special effects considering they’re on The CW. Which makes the fight with A.M.A.Z.O. all the more impressive.

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Last year the 4-part Crisis on EarthX aired over two night, with each night featuring two episodes of the crossover. This year we’re getting 3 episodes spread out over 3 nights. So it definitely felt like the whole thing was over way too fast. Which is really a testament to how well Part 1 of Elseworlds was executed, because it leaves the audience wanting to see the next installment immediately. I know I certainly did.

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  Part 1 leaves you with one hell of a set up for Part 2. The episode wraps up with our heroes heading off to the legendary Gotham City in search for answers. We catch a glimpse of Wayne Tower and a quick glance at Batwoman looking out over the Gotham City skyline. After seeing how good this episode was and how so many amazing characters and pieces of DC lore show up, the promise of seeing iconic places like Arkham Asylum and Gotham City leaves me incredibly excited for the next installment of Elseworlds. I don’t want to speak too soon, but at the rate Elseworlds is going it’s shaping up to possibly be the best Arrowverse crossover yet.

Elseworlds (Part 1):  9/10

Thanks for reading!

-Paul