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Messages - The Laughing Fish

Another fascinating video analysing BTAS's film noir and pulp influences.
I saw this post by a concept artist who worked on BvS.

Quote from: Jared PurringtonI have so much film work no one's ever seen.

Here are my first pass storyboards for the birth of Doomsday sequence for Batman V. Superman.

Initially, the fight took them to a bridge and had a bald Lex Luthor. Fun to compare/contrast with the final film.

Also, my Doomsday was CHONK.

(Video embedded in the post)

I really like the details in this compilation video. The fear shown in Lex's face as his Doomsday creation immediately turned on him made him vulnerable, a mad scientist who realised who got too overconfident after playing God. I don't necessarily mind how Eisenberg reacted in the scene, but I would've liked to see him cower before Superman saved him.

It's too bad that the bit with Superman saving the pilots whose helicopter got destroyed and the bridge sequence never got filmed. My guess is those stupid execs got too sensitive over the overblown backlash to collateral damage in MOS.
Here is another interview, this time with Dana Delaney aka Lois Lane. These are some of my favourite answers from her:

Quote from: Dana DelanyWhen Superman: The Animated Series first aired, strong female characters weren't the norm in any genre, never mind animation, so how did you feel when you were approached with this layered version of Lois Lane?

It's funny because I grew up reading Lois Lane comic books. When I was a kid, she actually had her own comic book. I had also watched the TV series when it was on, if you can believe it, in the 1950s [Laughs]. So, my image of Lois Lane was always a strong career woman and that's how I found her. I was really happy when I saw the writing as that matched my image of her and when I auditioned for it, I was just thrilled. Lois had been an icon for me my whole childhood and my whole life and I saw that they had a period feel to it. I immediately pictured Rosalind Russell in His Girl Friday. In the movies from that time and when Superman was introduced, women were really strong. They've just backslid since then.

You've been able to return as Lois since the conclusion of the series on multiple occasions; what has it meant to you to have this character follow you throughout your acting career?

I'm a fan of Superman and that world myself. Like I said, I grew up reading those comics, so that makes sense to me. Also, I feel like what Superman represents - not in a cheesy way - but the original people who drew him, Shuster and Siegel, were doing it in response to Nazis, World War II, and Anti-Semitism. It's always been a world with a political statement rather than just, 'Rah, rah, America!' I was really happy that those guys continued that in our series.

What interested and excited you most about exploring Lois' dynamic in the series both with Clark Kent and Superman?

It's funny because I watched some of the episodes in preparation and I was laughing out loud because I forget about some of the great dialogue in it. I'd forgotten that Lois was the one that names him Superman [Laughs]. What a great honour to have, you know? I think it was the triple episode where Lois was dating Batman and we had the crossover. That was so much fun to make Superman jealous and have Clark not be able to say anything. It makes me laugh when Lois finally realises Batman is Bruce Wayne and says, 'So, when were you going to tell me? The honeymoon?' [Laughs] It was such a great line to say and she really got to say some great stuff. Another thing that I noticed was, yes, Superman saved her a lot, but not until she'd kicked ass herself. They'd let Lois go as far as she could in defending herself until it was a matter of life and death and she was falling out of a building and he had to swoop in and catch her. They really let her fight her own fights that I really appreciated.
I betrayed my lack of enthusiasm and gave NWH a go recently. Here is where it ranks.

  • Spider-Man 2 (2004)
  • Spider-Man (2002)
  • Spider-Man 3 (2007)
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)
  • Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (2023)
  • The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)
  • The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)
  • Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

NWH is nothing more than fan-service. Still, I found it more entertaining than Homecoming, and the returning characters from Raimi and Webb's universes made it bearable. The thing is the plot is just not worth dissecting because there are obvious contrivances going on here; it's just exploiting the multiverse but certain moments in the history of the other two Spider-Verses. Only Electro getting lost into Holland's made some sense here.

I do need to give credit to Tom Holland's acting in the third act though. As soon as Aunt May died, his Peter Parker showed some emotional range and broke away from the usual tiresome antics. Maybe if his previous appearances weren't so obsessed with trying to make everything as quippy as possible, I might've warmed up to his character much better.

I still say NWH is not on par with the Spider-Verse stuff. I find myself much more engaged in Miles Morales than Holland's Peter, and the whole multiverse setting feels much larger and more at stake despite NWH bringing Garfield, Maguire and co back.
Finished Runs / Re: Batman in the '70s
Wed, 10 Apr 2024, 08:51
I'm reading this pretty cool interview with Steve Englehart as he discusses his run on Batman back in the Bronze Age. One of the snippets that caught my attention was he expressed his annoyance growing up while reading how Superman would resist any sexual attraction from Lana Lang or Lois Lane due to some contrived excuse thanks to comics censorship, and as soon as he got his chance to write Batman, he wanted to shape him as an adult with a realistic sex life. At least as far as comics would go, hence his tense relationship with Silver St. Cloud.

Englehart acknowledges The Joker's Five Way Revenge of making the Joker a killer again after being toned down as a harmless character for decades, but claims his version is much crazier. I think they're both insane in their own right, but Englehart's Joker is more ridiculous and over-the-top with his desire to trademark fish. Whereas the Joker that O'Neil and Adams did in that other story was more straightforward by going on a vengeful killing spree.

It's a bit long, but it's worth reading.
Keaton did a short career retrospective on GQ's YouTube channel, and spoke about his experience and approach to playing the titular character. It's the time I've heard of Keaton mentioning Frank Miller's name as an influence on the film. I guess he must've skimmed through Dark Knight Returns as an idea of what the tone that Burton and co should be aiming for.
I know this is a long post, but I honestly don't care. It's good to look back and not forget what has happened.

Normally I don't use the term DCEU because I felt that the idea of a DC shared universe ceased to exist as soon as Josstice League came out, and everything else that came out since had tenuous continuity, at best. And I'm being generous by saying that. But I'll use the term for the sake of getting the message across.

It's amazing how badly managed the vast majority of DC films became over the years. Little did we know the studio meddling that happened during the Snyder and Ayer era was only the beginning.

The Snyder cut saga was the most infamous, but Suicide Squad 2016 was when all hell began to break loose. Initially, David Ayer denied that his film was reshot and the studio cut was exactly what he intended until he started giving hints that Geoff Johns was responsible for doing a lot of damage behind the scenes in 2019. When ZSJL was announced a year later, that's when he became very outspoken about his cut.

I want to make it clear by saying I don't blame Ayer for going along with the narrative back in 2016. His film was still financially successful despite the negative reviews, and if he had told the truth the studio would've done everything to damage his career permanently. I can sympathise why he went along with the narrative back then. But as time went by and WB continued to burn bridges with not only fans but with the talent they hired, his support for the studio and trying to take a diplomatic approach became rather obnoxious, even going so far liking tweets by trolls who attacked the Ayer cut fans. Whether he meant it or not, it's just a bad look, and sadly to say, I didn't have much sympathy when he realised at the beginning of this year that WBD have no intention of ever releasing his cut. If a harsh lesson is to be learned here, you can't be diplomatic with a rotten studio like Warners.

Justice League...need I say more? Anyone who still blames Zack Snyder for this ordeal is an idiot who suffers from Snyder Derangement Syndrome. Even if you couldn't stand Snyder's direction, I don't know how anyone couldn't have blamed the studio for this PR debacle. It got even worse when Joss Whedon was exposed for bullying behind the scenes, on top of sabotaging the original vision for a vastly inferior Avengers knockoff.

Five years later, Batgirl with Michael Keaton co-starring as Batman in a post-Flash timeline where he replaces Batfleck was produced, then shelved, because of the excuse that it would've damaged the DC brand. I know I was never at all enthusiastic about this film to begin with, but from an objective point of view, its cancellation remains a massive PR black eye for WBD. The fact that WBD didn't have the guts to notify the filmmakers and producers - these people had to find the news out for themselves - is unprofessional beyond belief. Sometimes I think Batgirl might've gained greater support online if it was set in the Burtonverse. But then again now that we know James Gunn hates Burton's Batman, any support for a Burtonverse Batgirl would've been just as futile.

Batgirl is the first out of three films that got shelved by WBD, following Scoob! Holiday Haunt and Coyote vs Acme. Although according to one of the screenwriters, the Looney Tunes movie still has a chance to come out. I doubt it because if the egotistical dickheads at Warners are taking the chance to say they regret releasing ZSJL, there's no way they want to hurt their egos even further by releasing ANOTHER film they tried to hide from the public. Anwyay, moving on...

Then there's The Flash. Initially, this was supposed to reboot the DC universe with Keaton replacing Affleck and Sasha Calle's Supergirl replacing Henry Cavill's Superman, hence Batgirl was originally made to follow the new timeline. When Batgirl was scrapped, reshoots were filmed to keep Keaton and Calle, but this time they'd be united with Cavill and Gal Gadot, and Batfleck had appeared in a post-credit scene, allegedly calling Barry out for help in a similar fashion when Flash called out to Bruce in BvS. As soon as Gunn took over as co-CEO of DC Studios, all of these reshot scenes were scrapped. After pulling the rug off of Cavill's announced return as Superman by announcing a reboot, Cavill - along with  Keaton, Calle, Affleck and Gadot - got kicked out of The Flash's ending, and reshoots for the third time had all of those people replaced by George Clooney's Bruce Wayne meeting Barry, for a cheap laugh. The reported Batfleck post-credit scene was scrapped in favour of Barry and a drunken Arthur Curry walking out of a bar, for another cheap laugh.

To be honest, judging from what I saw of The Flash, I don't think the second reshoot ending would've saved the film from getting bombed. The film itself had a lot against going for it, poor special effects, Ezra Miller's notoriety, negative fan reaction online ever since the plot was leaked, recreating the likeness of dead actors for cheap nostalgiabait. In a way, everybody else who was removed from the ending was spared from further embarrassment, and Gunn and Zaslav rightly had eggs on their face after calling the Flash "one of the best superhero films of all time".

Finally, there's Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom. This was another film that was planned to follow the original post-Flash timeline, and Keaton would reprise his role in a cameo. When Batgirl got scrapped, his cameo in Aquaman 2 got scrapped, and was replaced by Affleck. Momoa excitedly posted on social media celebrating Affleck's return...only for Affleck's appearance was confirmed to have been scrapped a few months later once Gunn stupidly announced his own DCU soft-reboot agenda. Ultimately, Affleck AND Keaton got screwed over by the studio.

There is a good argument that BvS was the first DCEU film that got screwed up when they chopped half an hour of the film in theaters, but at least the Ultimate Edition came out months later. There was even a rumour that Affleck recorded a voice cameo for Blue Beetle before Gunn took over, which Gunn denies. Again, with his track record of lying, who knows?

It's easy to say the DCEU, or whatever the hell one prefers to call it, is a missed opportunity. But I don't see DC on film getting any better in  the future. 2023 was a disastrous year for the brand cinematically, but they're still wasting more money to produce even more crap. If they want to lose more money and allow Gunn to have his ego trip to hijack the brand, so be it. We'll see how much of this announced DCU stuff actually gets released. Whatever happens, I'm having no part in their nonsense. I'm only thankful that ZSJL got released, because it would've been impossible if we were still waiting for it right now.
Superman: Doomsday - Lois is dating Superman, but doesn't know his secret identity is Clark Kent until he tells her the truth at the end of the film.

Death of Superman - Lois is dating Clark Kent, but she doesn't know he's Superman until he tells her halfway through the film.

Two very basic differences, but it's because of this I've come to appreciate DOS much more. The story is much better fleshed out between that and Reign of the Supermen, whereas the compact nature of Doomsday feels too fast and skips any screentime with Clark and Martha altogether. Doomsday has good character moments when Martha comforts a grieving Lois, but DOS has much more to be invested in because the Kents become involved in Lois and Clark's relationship. If only DOS had James Marsters's voice as Lex Luthor instead of Rainn Wilson's...
I'm reading this Arleen Sorkin interview that Batman-Online published from another site, and she gave this insightful answer why Harley Quinn stays loyal to the Joker despite everything he puts her through:

QuoteGiven that the Joker is such a murderous psychopath, one wonders why Harley stays with someone who abuses her and could, potentially, kill her!

In the book Batman: Animated, Arleen shared her thoughts, stating, "Everyone else sees the Joker laugh, only Harley has ever seen him cry. It's the only reason she stays with him."

To add to that, Arleen said, "Harleen, having once been a therapist, has touched onto his vulnerability. She knows who he is underneath. That's what keeps her there."

Such a profound analysis on the character. A far cry from the emancipating, Deadpool wannabe we see of Harley Quinn nowadays.
There has been a lot of dispute online over whether or not X-Men has always been woke ever since the new X-Men '97 show came out. Some people even go so far to say X-Men - as a concept - was never woke to begin with. I don't know how anyone could say that with a straight face to begin with, because God Loves, Man Kills begins with black mutant children shot to death and hung up from the playground swings; a blatantly not-very-subtle metaphor for lynching. Kitty Pryde says the N-word to make a point about how "Mutie" is just as offensive as an ethnic slur; the stuff I've already mentioned is highly political. The comic is so on-the-nose that you'd have poor media literacy skills to not pick them up.

And that's just God Loves, Man Kills. The X-Men '90s animated show had plenty of real-life allegories to racism, civil rights, AIDs even. I remember the one episode where Graydon Creed, the prominent member of the Friends of Humanity movement, was freaking out when he was exposed as Sabretooth's son. This moment could easily be an allegory to racist Klansmen for self-hatred and ashamed of their non-white ethnic heritage, or even a metaphor for homophobia. In fact, the reason why I don't often get into X-Men too much is because the allegories are too obvious and hit too close to home for my liking. So when some commentators say X-Men aren't as progressive as people as people make them out to be, I don't know what the hell they're talking about.

Even Stan Lee takes credit for constructing the X-Men mythos by basing it on bigotry.