On this week’s episode of The World’s Best Podcast, I review the new DC superhero movie SHAZAM! starring Zachary Levi.Shazam may not be well known, but at one time his comic book series was outselling Superman. DC may not be knocking it out of the park with their movies like Marvel, but they’re on the right track. With missteps like Suicide Squad and Justice League out of the way, DC has built up a solid roster of stand alone movies with Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and now Shazam. SPOILERS are discussed in this episode, but I cover the characters history and some other interesting topics before breaking down the movie.
Listen to the episode here or subscribe on Stitcher and iTunes:
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….
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.
Aquaman is the latest entry in the DCEU or “The Worlds of DC” as it’s officially called… but FUCK THAT! They’re stuck with the DCEU as far as I’m concerned! Name your own movie universe or someone else will do it for you, dammit!You don’t get to, all of us sudden, finally give a name to already struggling, shitty Movie Universe after it’s been in existence for five goddamn years! (Ok… deep breat… rant over.)
My father (though I’m still holding out hope that my biological father is the mailman) Paul Sr. and I just came out of the new AQUAMAN film and decided to have a little discussion about it. We do go into some SPOILER territory, so BEWARE.
With movies like this, we usually do a deep dive spoiler filled review, covering the entire film from beginning to end,analyzing the story, as well asthe characters. This time was a little different, because we basically just sat around and had a conversation about the film. What we liked, what we didn’t like, our thoughts and the characters and the action sequences, etc.
So, while we do discuss some spoilers, there aren’t nearly as many as other episodes of The World’s Best Podcast. We discuss Jason Mamoa in the title roll, Amber Heard as Mera, the villains: King Orm AKA Ocean Master & Black Manta, as well as where the films falls in quality among the other DCEU films. All this excitement and so much more on the latest episode of The World’s Best Podcast! Listen here or subscribe on Stitcher and iTunes
Aquaman is fast approaching it’s release date and I am filled with both extreme excitement and dread. Everything I’ve seen from the trailers and promotional material looked fantastic. Despite how unbelievably cool the trailer looks, we all know how, now more than ever, a great trailer doesn’t make a good movie (cough*suicidesquad*cough). It seems like director James Wan could be delivering on some really unique and fun world building. Seeing Atlantis and characters like Black Manta, Ocean Master, and even creatures like The Trench, being brought to life is so thrilling. Just a quick aside, even though we really do get some terrible superhero movies, we should appreciate this golden age of having some of our most wonderful dreams from our favorite comic books brought to life on the big screen and TV. Anyway, I love how Wan even managed to give us the classic Aquaman costume. Which brings me to another point, despite how much I dislike Justice League, I thought Jason Momoa did a great job for what they gave him. So he definitely has the charisma to make Aquaman a memorable hero, if he’s given a good film to showcase the character.
It’s really a shame the way DC chose to go about making these films. As I sit here writing this article, I’m imagining all the cool things that could have been had they just taken their time and done movies like Wonder Woman, Aquaman (God willing), and yes even Man of Steel, from the beginning and then built on that.
I really think the wild card here, that makes this film stand out from other movies from TheWorldsofDC (Yes, that is now the official name for the DC Cinematic Universe) is the director, James Wan. He’s a prolific filmmaker behind some excellent movies in completely different genres (Insidious, The Conjuring 1 & 2, Furious 7). He’s also directing the pilot and executive producing the upcoming new, live action Swamp Thing series on the streaming service DC Universe. I find myself coming out of his films thinking that what I saw wasn’t just a great action movie or a great horror movie, but just a great movie period. I’m cautious optimistic that he’s going to crush this flick.
So, over at EW.com they had a set of new character posters for the upcoming Aquaman film. If this movie ends up being good at all, I think I definitely might have to snag a Black Manta or Aquaman poster (I think those are the 2 coolest ones). I honestly think they all look pretty cool though. Take a look below. Which character posters are your favorite? Are you guys looking forward to Aquaman as much as I am? Or do you think it’s going to be a Suicide Squad level disaster? Please let me know in the comments below and thanks for reading!
Aaaaaaaand I’m sorry, I’m not proud of it, but I had to include this picture…
This weekend was the New York Comic-Con. Probably the second largest Comic-Con in the world after the San Diego Comic-Con. Much like SDCC, this Con premiered some very cool trailers. Though there were a few interesting movie trailers, most of the big trailers for NYCC were for shows on TV or streaming services. Below I’ve rounded up all of my favorites so you don’t have to go looking yourself! It’s your best stop for all the coolest trailers! Enjoy!
Good Omens (Amazon Prime)
This one caught me by surprise and is probably my favorite trailer of the Con. Good Omens was a fantasy/comedy novel written by Neil Gaiman (American Gods, The Sandman) and Terry Pratchett and published in 1990. For years people have tried turning the novel into a movie, most notably director Terry Gilliam. Television being what it is now, where it’s able to bring big screen production values, casting, and talent to long form story telling, Amazon Prime seems perfect for Good Omens. With a cast that includes Michael Sheen, David Tennant, and Jon Hamm, Good Omens has just become one of my most anticipated television projects in 2019.
American Gods Season 2 (Starz)
Speaking of Neil Gaiman, we also got our first look at Season 2 of American Gods. Season 1 was pretty damn great, but by no means perfect. I’m a little concerned about some behind the scenes issues the show has had. They changed Showrunners between seasons, for example. However, a lot of shows go through growing pains and this trailer looks like they’ve kicked things up a notch for Season 2. I definitely recommend checking out Season 1 if you haven’t already.
Daredevil Season 3 (Netflix)
Now we’re talking! We have two trailers here. There have already been a few trailers for Daredevil Season 3, but this is the first real story trailer we’ve seen for this season. It looks to be largely borrowing from the graphic novels “Born Again” and “Guardian Devil”. However, the Showrunner has said that the season is its own unique tale while still borrowing elements from those classic stories.
This is a quick character trailer focusing on Bullseye! I’ve been waiting since Season 1 for them to introduce this villain. Bullseye is probably Matt Murdock’s greatest rival besides Wilson Fisk. I can’t wait to see The Devil of Hell’s Kitchen face off against the Assassin Who Never Misses. October 19th can’t come soon enough.
TheBoys (Amazon Prime)
The Boys is based on a comic book by writer Garth Ennis (the creator of Preacher) and artist Darick Robertson. It’s an extremely fucked up, but fantastic story about a group of CIA black ops psychos who “deal” with out of control superheroes. And when is say “deal” I mean brutally fucking kill. The cast is certainly good and it looks like Amazon Prime is really upping their game.
Finally, we have an extended look at Aquaman. I think this looks fantastic and I hope they knock it out of the park. I LOVE Black Manta’s costume and Aquaman’s more classic look that we see in the comics. James Wan is a spectacular and versatile director. This definitely has the potential to be something truly unique in the genre. Aquaman opens on 12/21.
It was announced today, that Henry Cavill is no longer going to be the live action Superman in the DCEU. It was recently confirmed (and long rumored) that Ben Affleck was not going to be Batman in the DCEU. So, the DCEU is down 2 of their three most iconic characters, and many people are speculating a ‘soft reboot’ of the DCEU in general. Of their 5 films so far, the only success across the board (critics/fans/box office) has been Wonder Woman, and so this might make sense to do. Especially since Wonder Woman and the upcoming sequel take place before the events of the other 4 films released so far.
Has Aquaman ever looked cooler?
Now, I personally think this reboot idea will likely take some of its cues from what happens with December’s Aquaman film. We already saw Jason Mamoa as the character in Justice League, and I’ve heard virtually no complaints about him, but an Aquaman stand-alone will be a completely different thing, and so we really won’t know until it comes out.
There is also the forthcoming Shazam, scheduled for next April. Now, Shazam hasn’t appeared in the DCEU previously, so if Aquaman tanks and they go full steam ahead on the reboot, Shazam could be part of the ‘new’ universe, or if Aquaman is a success, it could be tailored into the ‘newish/soft reboot/whatever they’re going to call it.’
I knew nothing about this character, and the trailer sold me.
So let’s make the assumption that some kind of reboot is going to happen, and I will tell you what I want to see with that. Ok?
I want to see this reboot build characters individually. I’m not saying not to put Easter eggs, or slight references to each other, but let’s not get to the second movie before we have a full blown cross over. If in Wonder Woman ’84 we see some story about a ‘meteorological event’ which implies Kal El’s (Superman) arrival, that’s fine, but I don’t want Jason Mamoa or Shazam or anyone else to show up. Get several stand alone films under your belts, like you should have done the first time around.
Thanos’ snap was more powerful than we all realized.
The second thing that I want to see happen, is I don’t want Superman and Batman to show up for a while. It might sound dumb, and I’m sure people hate hearing about the MCU as a model, but Marvel didn’t have access to their A listers when they started, and it forced them to build characters and not assume we knew who they were, it forced them to get creative and be better story tellers. I think Batman and Superman are too iconic to start. Let’s deal with Shazam, and Cyborg, and other characters that the general film going audience that aren’t comic book readers aren’t familiar with, and start world building through them. There is some brand recognition with characters like Flash and Green Lantern, but use those characters to bridge the gap between the audience who know nothing, and the audience who totally get it. Then once you’re several successes deep, you can start introducing Superman and Batman. This exercise, will also help you to understand how to create those characters more memorably, to not be coming at them as the icons they are to the general public, but to fill in and establish all of the layers that have comic book fans hooked.
I wanted to touch on a casting rumor that’s been going around recently: Jensen Ackles playing The Red Hood in one of the upcoming Batman film projects. Regardless of what you think of the final film, the inclusion of the suit of a dead Robin in The Batcave caught everyone’s attention in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. As soon as the image was shown in the trailer for BvS, fans immediately speculated what this meant in the larger context of the DCEU.
As a weird side note that I think is indicative of the state of DC’s cinematic universe, the DCEU (or the DC Extended Universe) didn’t originate with Warner Bros. or DC. They never actually had a name for this cinematic universe they were creating. Apparently, it the name came from a writer at Entertainment Weekly and it just stuck. So, the powers that be finally got around to naming this shit show of a universe, with the official title now being: The Worlds of DC. Wow, there really is no one flying the fucking plane here…
Anyway, when fans saw the Robin suit displayed in The Batcave with “HA HA HA JOKE’S ON YOU BATMAN” spray painted on it, it was assumed that this was the former suit of Jason Todd. Jason Todd was the second Robin after Dick Grayson got tired of Bruce’s bullshit and went off to follow his own path as Nightwing. In the comics, after Jason died, Bruce eventually took in Tim Drake who became the new Robin. What do you get for the billionaire who has everything? Young boys to put in mortal danger every night!
In one of The Joker’s many acts of horrific violence, he brutally beat Jason with a crowbar in a warehouse and then left him for dead as the warehouse exploded with Jason inside. Arguably, Jason’s death was as much of a defining traumatic loss for Bruce Wayne as the death of his parents. Bruce (very rightly) felt responsible for Jason’s death and blamed himself for not being able to save him. But that didn’t stop Bruce from continuing to churn out Robin’s! No, sir! At least 3 or 4 of these poor little bastards have bit the dust since Jason. What’s that? Another Robin is dead? Must be Wednesday!
In comics, no one stays dead forever. So, after several years and an insanely convoluted series of events, but for the sake of this article lets just keep it simple and say Ra’s Al Ghul’s Lazarus Pit was involved, Jason was resurrected. (if you want, you can look up the whole story of EXACTLY how Jason came back to life, good luck and God be with you). The point is that Jason Todd was back.
So the story of Jason’s return to Gotham and taking on the persona of The Red Hood, was told in Judd Winnick’s excellent Batman: Under The Red Hood. I highly recommend you check it out, it’s a great read and I put the Amazon link below if you want to pick up the graphic novel. https://www.amazon.com/Batman-Under-Hood-Judd-Winick/dp/1401231454/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1535344301&sr=8-3&keywords=batman+under+the+red+hood
At this point, you guys probably know that I’m a big fan of the direct to Blu Ray and Digital DC Animated Movies, like The Death of Superman (you can read my review for that film right here: https://best-media-world.com/2018/07/29/movie-review-the-death-of-superman/ )
One of the best DC Animated movies is Batman: Under The Red Hood, based on the graphic novel of the same name. Again, I highly recommend this one so here’s the Amazon link to the Blu Ray: https://www.amazon.com/Batman-Under-Red-Hood-Blu-ray/dp/B003ITZBVI/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1535344301&sr=8-2&keywords=batman+under+the+red+hood
From here on in I’m going to be specifically referring to the Animated Movie version of Batman: Under The Red Hood, which combines story elements from A Death In The Family into the narrative. A new and brutal vigilante going by The Red Hood shows up in Gotham and starts killing criminals and crime bosses left and right. Batman can’t have this shit going on in his town, so he confronts the very well trained Red Hood and is horrified to find out that The Red Hood is his formally dead ward, Jason Todd.
Jason had always been a more violent Robin, but getting killed playing by Bruce’s rules seriously changed his perspective on dealing with criminals. Basically he subscribes to the “see bad guy, kill bad guy” philosophy of crime fighting. More than anything Jason isn’t angry at Bruce because he was killed. He forgives him for that, what he can’t forgive is: Why the fuck didn’t Bruce kill The Joker? Jason doesn’t think Bruce should go all Charles Bronson on the Gotham Rogues gallery, but if ever there was an exception to Bruce’s (bullshit) “No Killing” rule, it’s The Joker. As you can imagine Jason is pretty fucking pissed. I don’t want to go into too much more of the story in case you want to watch the movie or read the graphic novel.
I should probably point out that one of the reasons this movie is great is the voice performances. Bruce Greenwood is probably the second best actor behind Kevin Conroy to voice Batman. He plays him in the soon to be returning Young Justice animated series as well. Aaaaaaand finally we come to the point: Jason Todd is perfectly played by Jensen Ackles who plays Dean Winchester on one of my favorite TV shows, Supernatural.
If any of you listen to my podcast, The World’s Best Podcast, you may find this funny because my love of the show Supernatural is sort of a running joke on the show. But, like I said, the whole point of this article is that Jensen Ackels would make a fucking great live action Jason Todd. About a week ago a picture went viral of Ackles standing next to a Red Hood statue or costume or something.
Now this might mean nothing, but sometimes pictures like this are posted when actors are in talks with a studio to take a role. Or sometimes actors will post pictures like these to get conversations exactly like this one started, so they get on filmmakers radar. Regardless, this photo prompted a lot of fans to jockey for Ackles to be cast as The Red Hood in an upcoming Worlds of DC film. Rumor has it, Matt Reeve’s Batman film may contain elements of the Under The Red Hood story. With multiple Joker movies, a Nightwing film, and Gotham City Sirens all in different points of development, there are plenty of places The Red Hood could pop up. The flames of fandom were fanned when this fucking spectacular piece of artwork, featuring Ackles as The Red Hood, made the rounds online. The very cool piece was done by artist BossLogic, who’s done some incredible artwork over the years.
Supernatural is going into it’s 14th season this fall and there’s a reason a show like that has such staying power. Especially the last few season have been among the best in the show’s run. Jensen Ackles is a huge part of that. He’s an incredibly underrated actor who’s given some amazing performances on the show.
This isn’t the first time he’s been associated with a superhero project either. He was one of the front runners for Captain America before Chris Evans ultimately took up the shield. He was offered the role of Hawkeye in the MCU, but turned it down (I love Supernatural, but I bet he regrets that move a little bit). Personally, I always thought he would make a great Hal Jordan. Bottom line is, anyone familiar with Supernatural knows he would crush it as The Red Hood. He has the physicality for the role and he’s a great fucking actor. He has a raw edge to him that would work great for a character like Jason as opposed to say, Nightwing. Not to mention He already knows the character of The Red Hood well. He’s the appropriate age, because we’re dealing with an older Batman. Interestingly, Supernatural is producing 20 episodes this season instead of it’s usual 23. They gave a very plausible reason for this, basically that it’s easier on the cast. The main actors have families and they shoot the show in Vancouver, but they live in Texas. Or perhaps one of the two leads needed a few extra months off to shoot a high profile film project? Hmmm..
Nothing official has come from Warner Bros or DC about this potential casting, but DC fans seem to have really gotten behind it. The World’s of DC need solid, talented actors to fill out their universe. Whatever form the new Batman movie takes, I’ve always wanted to see more of the Bat Family in a Batman film. I don’t think Under The Red Hood would be the Batman story I’d like to see DC make, but that doesn’t mean Jason Todd couldn’t be a part of the film. Jensen Ackles would be a fucking awesome Red Hood. As always, thanks for reading!