On this episode of The World’s Best Podcast, I review the new movie BRIGHTBURN, described by the filmmakers as a new genre: “Superhero Horror”. Brightburn was produced by director James Gunn, the man behind Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.1 & Vol.2 . The concept of Brightburn has a very simple, but effective premise. Basically it’s a “What If?”-kind of story, about a character named Brandon Breyer who’s very similar to Superman. His rocket crash to Earth, growing up on a farm, even the same power set as The Man Of Steel. The difference in this story is how, around puberty, Brandon becomes a homicidal sociopath as a kid growing up in a town very much like Smallville. Plus, Paul goes off on some interesting and crazy tangents that are sure to entertain! Enjoy! Listen here or subscribe on Stitcher, Spotify, and iTunes: https://www.spreaker.com/episode/18097818
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!
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.
All of the Arrowverse crossovers have been really fun, but compared to something like last year’s epic CrisisonEarth–X, Elseworlds feels more exuberant and joyful. Don’t get me wrong, CrisisonEarth–X 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Last year the 4-part CrisisonEarth–X 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.
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.