A.K.A. Marvel/Lucasfilm take the piss.
What we have here is Marvel and Lucasfilm exploiting their readership. Whilst the body of work that Marvel has put out since regaining the Star Wars licence from Dark Horse in 2015 has continued to remain high and they have avoided saturating the marketplace, by limiting themselves to at most 4 titles being released in any given month, there is however something amiss with this release.
In keeping the quality high they have ensured that an always devoted fanbase will buy everything, putting out 95 variant issues of Star Wars issue 1 and although that is a novelty factor that will attract only the most hardened collector with the deepest pockets, Marvel have seen fit to release this ‘gem’.
With Unplugged, the loyal fanbase get three droid-centric stories packaged together that have been previously found as back-up/bonus content in the back pages of other titles. There is nothing wrong with the stories, they are cutesy and perfect for a younger audience. In fact I hope that with titles like this or something like My Little Pony they are able to draw in a new generation of readers whether in print or digital. My issue is that this is a cynical repackaging of previously released material with no mention of this anywhere within the issue showing a deep lack of respect for the readers.
Chris Eliopoulos’ artwork is lovely, whimsical and whilst simplistic is a perfect fit for the stories, would I read an entire issue or run in this style probably not but would I give this to a younger reader certainly. However repackaging and charging about £4.00 ($4.99) for stories I’ve already got in other issues* just leaves a bad taste in the mouth as the novelty quality wears off.
* Poe Dameron #1 (BB-8 story), Star Wars #25 (R2-D2 story), Star Wars: Darth Maul #1 (Probe Droid story).
What’s the difference between DC and Marvel films right now?
Well unless you really go at it and I mean really at it, most Marvel films tend to hold up pretty well under the microscope, even Iron Man 3 and the Thor’s.
DC on the other hand seem to be a cluster fuck of ideas thrown at the wall with no thought about how they are all going to fit together in the long run to tell a cohesive story that builds over a series of films.
Marvel have steadily crafted their films, whereas DC seem desperate to put a universe together and have ultimately missed the potential of the characters they have in their catalogue. Marvel were working with D-list characters, you know the ones that no one would buy when the company enteredbankruptcyin 1996/97, and have somehow become a media juggernaut on the back of them whilst the companies that own characters such as the Fantastic Four and Spider-Man just can’t seem to get it right.
So what’s the difference between DC and Marvel fans?
Marvel fans don’t give a shit about extended cuts, the bonus scenes on the retail releases are just bonus cuts. With or without them the films get to the same place even if there might have been some behind the scenes issues. Mickey Rourke states that much of his performance from Iron Man 2 ended up on thecutting room floor, and Thor: The Dark World’s director Alan Taylor stated that the film changed in post production. Whatever the issues the films tell there story without the need for extended cuts.
DC fans on the other hand seem to rely upon extended cuts to make sense of the film they have just watched, Batman V Superman being the obvious choice, if you can’t tell a coherent story over 2 hours then your clearly doing something very, very wrong. Fans are also apparently clamouring for an extended cut of Suicide Squad due to the amount of footage that featured in the trailers but was no where to be seen in the cinema release.
As it stands at the moment Marvel are literally taking a crowbar to DC at the cinema and there seems to be no end in sight to the blood in the water, Marvel are sitting pretty on the beach as the sharks circle DC’s punctured raft.
So the Inhumans MCU film was originally announced as having a November 2018 release date, placing it in Phase 3, then as new titles were announced, Ant-Man and The Wasp and Captain Marvel, the Inhumans was then pushed back to July 2019 before finally being pulled from Marvel Studios upcoming slate altogether in April 2016. This effectively rules the film out of Phase 3 which will end in April 2019 when the fourth (Untitled) Avengers film, previously Infinity War: Part 2 is released.
It seems a strange move for Marvel to remove the Inhumans from the roster as they have been heavily involved in the plot-arcs for Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. during seasons 2 and 3 of the show with Daisy “Skye” Johnson a.k.a.Quake (Chloe Bennet) eventually revealed to be an Inhuman. Although there has not been a massive amount of crossover between the TV shows and the films beyond references to events from the film and the occasional cameo, Lady Sif (Jamie Alexander), Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Marie Hill (Cobie Smulders) there was a definite feeling that the show was laying the basis for introducing the Inhumans into the cinematic series.
With the various rights to characters and titles tied up in more red tape than a villain in Spidermans web the Inhumans were a great way around the MCU not being able to feature mutants but still being able to feature super-powered characters outside of the cinematic releases and in doing so it also meant that the term, Inhumans, would not be so alien to the wider public. After all its the casual fans, the non-diehards, those who are only really familiar with the cinematic versions of the characters who are helping to push the films B.O. over the $1Billion mark on various occasions.
Marvel publishing are also featuring the Inhumans quite heavily in their periodicals with three ongoing titles, Uncanny Inhumans, All-New Inhumans and a solo series for Karnak even if the releases for the solo series has been a bit erratic. At the time of writing only 4 issues have been published between December 2015 and August 2016, a pretty poor release rate considering it is both Marvel and Warren Ellis. So it seems a very strange move on Marvel Studios part to suddenly pull Inhumans from its release schedule with no future release date planned.
There may be some light at the end of the tunnel, Marvel Studios have announced that they plan on releasing three titles in 2020, May, July and November, it would also seem that these films will mark the beginning of Phase 4 for the studio and at present Marvel have made no announcements as to what those films will be. Following the disaster that Fantastic Four was for Fox Studios in 2016 there may some hope that one of those three dates may be reserved for the first family of comics and hopefully the Inhumans with sequels to possibly Guardians Of The Galaxy 3 or Spider-Man 2 taking up the remaining spot.
Who knows, hopefully we’ll get an Inhumans feature in the next few years, especially as various actors, Chris’s Hemsworth and Evans and Robert Downey Jr’s contracted appearances will soon be up, especially in light of two Avengers titles in 2018 fulfilling those obligations and RDJ’s paycheque increasing with each successive feature.
2020 may be the year for the Inhumans, audiences took to Guardians in a surprising way and there is definite hope that the same will happen for Doctor Strange (2016) and Black Panther (2018), Marvel Studios over the past decade have proven adapt at producing smart and intelligent features with up and coming talent both in front and behind the camera and the Inhumans mix of high fantasy and science fiction could attract an eclectic cast.
Boy can Zack Snyder construct a scene, visually this film is an absolute treat to look at. Much like Sucker Punch or Legend Of The Guardians: The Owls Of Ga’Hoole but like those films style over substance does not a great film make.
I’ve seen the film twice now, my first reaction was that the film is a mess, a glorious mess, but still a mess none the less. Second time around I enjoyed the film far more, watching it in 2D as opposed to 3D doesn’t influence my decision. If anything the 3D added nothing to the experience nor the film, though this probably wasn’t helped by Snyder and his editor David Brenner’s desire to induce epileptic fits in their audience during the action sequences.
So what was it I enjoyed more the second time around?
If I’m being honest, nothing.
Second time around I was able to sit back and be swept along by the film. It wasn’t that the film was or is difficult to follow first time around it was more that there was so much to follow that you couldn’t enjoy the experience.
The biggest issue and this could be levelled at most of Snyders work is that it’s a collection of scenes and moments in search of a narrative to hold it all together. It’s hardly surprising that his two best films 300 (2007) and Watchmen (2009) are based upon pre-existing material so it would have been near impossible for the man to screw them up.
Personally I think Snyder has taken more flack than maybe he deserves, no one seems to be questioning David Goyer or Chris Terrio’s screenplay. And that is probably the films biggest weakness because at its heart this should be a story about Lex Luthor manipulating both sides against each other. Drawing upon Supermans lightness and mistrust of Batmans methods whilst simultaneously drawing upon Batmans strategic thinking and forward planning SHOULD Superman become a threat.
Much like in the 2000 Justice League storyline Tower of Babel, which in turn was also the basis for the DCAU feature Justice League: Doom. Batman would never allow for a 1% margin of error, it’s 100% or not at all.
Instead what we get is Clark investigating ‘The Batman’, Bruce deciding that 1% is all he needs for justification to take out Superman and Lex sort of doing this, then that for no really clear reason and no end game really in place.
The whole film is setting up the rest of Warner Bros. and DC’s slate of 9 films over the next 4 years so what we end up with here is a 2 1/2 hour trailer, with trailers in the middle of it! Another thing that further hinders the film is that the majority of the film is covered one way or another in the marketing and promotion of the film. Personally the marketing guys dropped the ball on this, the film’s big reveals should have been nowhere near the promotion of this film.
Snyder’s handling of Superman has faced criticism since Man Of Steel (2013), and it hasn’t improved much in the intervening 3 years. In fact it feels as though there is a whole film missing between the events of Man of … and BvS even if it weren’t another world threatening event it still feels as though there is a huge chunk in the Big Boy Scouts story, his relationship with Lois being one thing, missing from the narrative.
Batman is handled a little better, in fact there is nothing wrong with Ben Afflecks performance and portrayal of The Dark Knight, whilst it’s nice to not have to go through the whole origin story again it’s still massively unclear how long he has been active and if he was semi-retired before the events of Man Of Steel brought him back into action. Batman’s fighting style was probably the best portrayal to date, with Affleck utilising multiple techniques in the various action scenes. In fact I wasn’t too bothered that Batman used a gun, particularly during the flash-forward/dream sequence that hints at possible events in the Justice League films, for me it felt like a necessary step (dependent upon what has happened in the intervening years) especially with Para-Demons being present.
Wonder Woman/Diana Prince however, should have been the films secret weapon. Given that for the first two hours of the films running time when she is featured on screen she is never mentioned by name nor gives herself a name until she decides to leave the Turkish Airlines flight she is on, with wonderful product placement. When the flight attendant calls after her, THAT should have been the moment fanboys and girls the world over knew that the Holy Trinity of the DC universe were about to lay waste to evil doers. Gal Gadot is superb in the role and I’m looking forward to June 2017 when her solo film hits, especially as she has a kick ass theme something which none of the other characters have. Just a shame the bloody track is called Is She With You? on the soundtrack from Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL.
As previously stated Lex Luthor’s motivations seem a little under cooked making for a somewhat weak villain with Jesse Eisenberg giving a very odd turn. Doomsday as well serves only one purpose and continues a worrying trend in comic book movies to have the final act look like a computer game as CGI figures better the crap out of each other and there surroundings. I was also left a little confused about the geography, I always put Gotham and Metropolis as being on opposites coasts or different states rather than being just across the bay from each other. The ‘trailers’ that Diana watches on her laptop of well edited security/surveillance footage of Cyborg, Flash and Aquaman also feels oddly placed and forced.
EDIT: And what the hell was that crap with Jimmy Olsen, if your gonna kill off a major character from Superman’s extended family at least have the nerve to name the character on screen.
As it stands the film is a missed opportunity to build towards an expanded universe, where as Marvel slowly built up to a universe that crossed over and referenced previous events, films and characters Warner Bros. and DC seem to be rushing things. I’m not as excited for DCs upcoming slate as I am for Marvels, I do hope that in the long run DC proves me wrong and that it does its characters justice on the big screen.
EDIT: I also hope that the extended, R rating, cut helps some moments during the film flow a little better particularly the ‘Martha’ moment as well as the action scenes and the completely excised character.