Don’t Believe Everything You Hear

Without reliable authoritative information and accurate narratives, we are inclined to construct our own.  These false narratives are often misleading or needlessly inflame.  Presenting a few case studies for your consideration.


Warner Brothers nearly cut the “No Man’s Land” scene from Wonder Woman

In a Fandango interview, May 2017, Director Patty Jenkins is quoted regarding the No Man’s Land scene:

“It’s my favorite scene in the movie and it’s the most important scene in the movie.  It’s also the scene that made the least sense to other people going in … When I started to really hunker in on the significance of No Man’s Land, there were a couple people who were deeply confused, wondering, like, ‘well, what is she going to do?  How many bullets can she fight?’ and I kept saying, ‘It’s not about that.  This is a different scene than that.  This is a scene about her becoming Wonder Woman.'”

Clear and direct right?  This is the director herself, quoted on the record.  However countless outlets ran this story after injecting an additional false narrative.  A few are listed purely to corroborate the point with evidence.  No other commentary is being made about these publications or the authors.  In each case, they add a narrative of Jenkins against short-sighted studio executives unable to understand a creative vision:

  • Slashfilm  – “when she laid out the scene to people at the studio before filming” / “in order to convince the higher-ups that it was necessary”
  • Business Insider  – “Jenkins said to convince others at Warner Bros. this would work”
  • CBR  – “the sequence was harder to sell to studio execs than one might imagine”
  • io9  – “someone at Warner Bros. thought at one point it wasn’t worth being part of Wonder Woman’s runtime” / “the scene did not go down well at all with her colleagues at Warner Bros.”
  • Vox – “But it’s also easy to see why a studio might suggest cutting the sequence.” / “What’s interesting about this isn’t that Jenkins had to talk some of her bosses into signing off on the No Man’s Land sequence.”
  • The Mary Sue  – “For some reason, none of this registered with the higher-ups at Warner Bros, who apparently saw this entire sequence as a waste of time”

However, Jenkins had said nothing about the studio, executives, higher-ups, or Warner Brothers.  A director quote is an impeccable source, but still vulnerable to the imposition of false narratives.  At a June 11th DGA event in Los Angeles, Jenkins sat down with Richard Donner for a brief Q&A where she corrected the narrative.

Warner Brothers had not opposed the scene:

“It’s funny, I feel badly about this cause it’s been reported that Warner Bros. was against it, which it was not Warner Bros., it was my own people in England. It was our own crew at points, who were like, ‘Why are you doing this scene? She’s not even fighting anything,’ So Warner Bros. was not unsupportive of the No Man’s Land scene. It was much more in-process that everybody was like, ‘What’s this scene for? There’s no one to fight. We’ve already seen her block a bullet in the alley and then she’s going to go in and save this church tower, why do you need this other scene?'” (transcription via CinemaBlend)

The video of the event is currently down, but audio is available here in the DGA’s podcast, episode 77 at 18m22s.

In other words, Patty was not battling with studio executives but her own creative team.  The fight was not about the soul of the film versus corporate interests, but between like-minded, supportive, creative individuals attempting to collaborate towards the best film.

The objections to the No Man’s Land scene were based in story-beats, presenting novel challenges, and characterization (not logistical, as I claimed in error in my own Wonder Woman episode).

The concern was that Diana had already faced gunfire on the beach, the alley way, and would do so again against the village sniper; How many of their marquee moments did they want to spend on Diana and bullets yet again?  Moreover the enemy is abstract and impersonal: Wonder Woman against machine guns.  Finally, given that they would immediately start the Veld action sequence, was this scene necessary?

These are good questions and good notes, creatively, character, and story driven.  Thankfully, Jenkins had her own creative instincts to insist upon the scene.  But look how different the narrative!  Instead of a David and Goliath struggle between art and suits, this is a collaborative push-and-pull to polish a picture.  Resistance is not the enemy but the assurance that something deserves to be in the film.

Considerably fewer outlets published this correction of the narrative.

Imagine if you only knew and believed the injected false narrative. What kinds of unnecessary anger and judgment you’d bear against the studio who were, in fact, innocent of your accusation?

Fortunately, Jenkins quickly clarified and does so again in our second case. read more

Don’t Be As Gullible As Kevin Smith

Kevin Smith Can Be Quite Lovable

It is for that reason he was the co-host for the Dawn of the Justice League, network television event advertising DC’s coming slate and included on every BvS disc.  He hosted the Yahoo! Movies release of Man of Steel.  I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve referenced him on my show either for his Jon Peters story or Suicide Squad or more!  He is a comic book store owner, host of Fat Man on Batman, and his transparent Everyman quality gives him substantial geek cred.

As an Everyman he’s as susceptible to falsehoods and clickbait as everyone.

On November 29th, Kevin Smith published the following Fat Man on Batman episode (skip to 1h56m):

Upset at the alterations to Justice League, Kevin pulls up a website and shares 22 alleged alterations to Zack’s original vision.

The only problem?  They’re not real.  Not exactly.

Kevin is not affirming any of this to be true.  He doesn’t know.  He just bookmarked a wordpress post that merely parrots (with minor alterations, editorial, and without attribution) a /r/DCEULeaks post published November 18, which was promptly discredited and deleted.  Unfortunately, not before obtaining traction online being republished on other clickbait outlets like Nerdist, etc. (com’on guys, do better!)

History Lesson

The redditor’s post history is telling.  It’s filled with inaccuracies, inconsistencies, and the same kind of vague attempts at teasing and disclosures which get used in cold readings for fraud psychics and spiritualists who prey on the hopes and pain of others… only a lot less deftly and readily apparent.  Nonetheless, the timing is telling, let’s break it down:

  • October 19, 2017 – ViewerAnon’s 54-point plot breakdown.
  • November 13, 2017 – US Fan Screenings of Justice League.
  • November 17, 2017 – US Justice League release date.
  • November 17, 2017 – Ultracal31’s 2,138-word leak (“changed, deleted and Snyder vs Whedon”).
  • November 17, 2017 – Ultracal31’s leak is corroborated by ViewerAnon.
  • November 18, 2017 – Original 21-point “Differences” and immediately debunked.
  • November 18, 2017 – Ultracal31 debunks “Differences”.
  • November 19, 2017 – TheAscendedAncient leaks footage debunking “Differences”.
  • November 19, 2017 – The wordpress site that Kevin reads posts “Differences”.
  • November 22, 2017 – The Nerdist publishes a video based on “Differences”.
  • November 24, 2017 – LDN_Film is moderator verified and does an AMA debunking “Differences”.
  • November 24, 2017 – The wordpress site edits “Differences” to remove debunked parts and add LDN_Film points.
  • November 29, 2017 – Kevin reads wordpress version of “Differences” on Fat Man on Batman.

What am I getting at?  “Differences” is illegitimate.  It comes after theatrical release and is based entirely on information already known or fabricated guesses.  It sources ViewerAnon’s breakdown, Ultracal31’s two-thousand-word leak, the litany of pre-release press and promo materials, and general (largely wrong) assumptions about Zack Snyder’s inclinations, intentions, proclivities, and style (with a sprinkling of studio or fan mandated “fixes”).  Except to the extent it draws from accurate sources, none of the original material is real, true, or truthful.  It is a guess.

Outside of its elaboration on information we already knew before November 18, it provides no insight, nothing verified, nothing corroborated, and is- frankly- a lie.

Confirmation

This shouldn’t have to be said, but just because a celebrity reads a website aloud doesn’t “confirm”, verify, substantiate, or corroborate the content.  Kevin didn’t fact check.  He has no source.  He doesn’t know.  He just took a wordpress post to be true and gave it 60,000+ more eyes than the 80,000 views Nerdist gave it one week earlier.

Alleged Audience Confirmation

What about the audience member allegedly breaking NDA to affirm what Kevin was reading off?  To us, she is faceless, nameless, and impossible to verify or authenticate in any meaningful way.  If you have an ounce of skepticism you have cause to doubt some random person alleging inside knowledge.  Nonetheless, even taking her at face value, what did she really say?

  • 2h5m31s – “I promised them I wouldn’t talk today, but um, yeah.  Most of that stuff was in there.”
  • 2h5m37s – “That’s the version that you saw?” / “I saw that and I saw the other version too.”
  • 2h5m45s – “In terms of seeing them both, what did you think?” / “Um, I like the first one better.”
  • 2h6m21s – “You saw Darkseid?” / “Yes, there was a Darkseid in there.  Kind of like the finished, but not really.”
  • 2h6m28s – “Not fully finished?” / “No, dressed in a suit kinda.”
  • 2h6m35s – “Steppenwolf is killed by Darkseid on Apokolips.” / “That, I did not see.”
  • 2h7m15s – “Did Cyborg die in your version?” / “No.”

Reasonable Skepticism

I have to say, I don’t find this audience member credible.  It’s an old cross-examination standby but we use it because it works: “Ma’am, were you being truthful and honest when you signed your NDA?  Were you being truthful and honest when you promised you wouldn’t talk last week?  So now that you’re talking we see that your word, integrity, and honesty mean nothing.  So all you need is attention to break a contract, to break your word, to break a promise… so how much attention do you need to bend the truth if not outright lie?”  She lacks the integrity to keep a contract and is willing to break it for attention… who is to say she’s not willing to lie for attention too?

The real sticking point is the Darkseid stuff where she says, “a Darkseid”, “kind of like the finished”, and “dressed in a suit.”  There aren’t multiple Darkseids so it would never be “a Darkseid”, there isn’t a finished or final Darkseid in the theatrical cut so how could she compare her alleged version to the non-existent “kind of like the finished” version?  And I’m not going to elaborate on how Darkseid would be represented in unfinished VFX but it would be… unusual… to describe it as “dressed in a suit” whilst knowing it was “a” Darkseid.  She was rather unconvincing.

Remember, this is November 29th.  “Differences” has been disseminated since November 18th and what if the audience member was one of the 80,000 people who watched it on Nerdist or other outlets already, believed it to be legitimate, and simply parroted it here pretending to be an authentic insider?  In theory, nothing she says proves she is someone who saw a screening (that even the author of “Differences” claims was WB Executive exclusive contradicting her!) versus an attention-desperate person who read a rumor they believed and claimed as their own inside knowledge.  It is impossible to tell if she is repeating an earlier rumor or her own actual experience from what little she shared.  Nothing new, original, specific, or testable.

Even If True She Debunks “Differences”

All that said, pretend she’s absolutely 100% honest to the best of her ability.  She’s confirmed nothing from “Differences”, not a single specific point or element or enumerated thing is corroborated by her answers.  Only vague, broad, sweeping incomplete generalizations!  “Most of that stuff was in there” not “Everything you said is exactly how it was.”  That makes it impossible to verify any individual list item because we don’t know if it is included in “most of that stuff” or not, rending the list worthless.

If she’s being truthful and if “Differences” is based off of legitimate leaks prior to November 18th, I should hope that some of the stuff was in there!  We should expect it!  That doesn’t legitimize or confirm Differences, only the reliable sources it drew upon, it doesn’t make the list itself reliable.

Instead, when confronted with specific, enumerated, explicitly listed items from “Differences”, she denies seeing them!  If she’s reliable and truthful, she says Steppenwolf isn’t killed on Apokolips and Cyborg didn’t die, in direct contradiction to “Differences”.  How desperate do you have to be to start pushing “Differences” as Zack’s vision given it is completely uncorroborated and the sole source of authority explicitly debunks the only two explicitly unique points related to it?  Why would you push “Differences” when it has been contradicted and debunked by verified insiders, our own eyes, the author’s lack of credibility, etc. when we have a wealth of legitimate information to draw from?

What’s the Harm?

Well, even if it isn’t true what’s the harm in promoting it, sharing it, and insisting upon it?  So what if an unsubstantiated rumor gets passed around?  Why can’t we have our fantasy or ignite outrage and action over a fantasy?

Integrity and Values

If you’re asking these questions, we part ways on a fundamental level in terms of values.  Yes, in some sense fantasy is harmless.  However, irresponsible dissemination of misinformation, the failure to fact-check, the valuing of sensation over integrity, honesty, and truth… getting in the habit of this over leisure leaks into how you live your real life.   One of the reason we love comics, mythology, and stories is because they provide the narratives we use to frame and order our lives.  But if we don’t value truth, journalistic integrity, honesty, critical thinking, and empathy, we will fail to recognize falsehoods and get swept up in illegitimate narratives all too easily.

What If It’s False?

But setting aside your own integrity and character, let’s do a balancing test or Pascal’s Wager.  Let’s imagine that I’m right and “Differences” does not accurately reflect Zack Snyder’s version of the film.  If you respond to, fight for, promote, insist upon, and get outraged over “Differences” and it isn’t Zack’s film then what are you fighting for, getting upset over, and what message are you sending?

The people who know- I mean really, actually, truly know what Zack’s film would have been compared to “Differences”- now know you don’t actually care about Zack’s film which is something else entirely.  They have no reason to admit, disclose, or release something that doesn’t match what the ill-informed are clamoring for.  It ends up being an insult to the people who worked on the earlier vision because people keep saying “Man, we should have got Differences!” while the filmmakers hang their heads and think, “But our film wasn’t that Differences nonsense!”  It’s an open declaration there’s no market for the actual and authentic thing.  People would rather have the fantasy they’ve conjured.

What If It’s True?

Conversely, let’s say I’m wrong.  What is so different about Differences that you can’t simply promote all the authenticated, established, verified, corroborated, proven, known, and seen differences between the advertising, promotional, leaked, mentioned in print / press / interviews / junkets, social media hints, etc. omissions and changes that we know and can prove that it’s indispensable?

Is it Cyborg’s death debunked by Kevin’s audience member?  Is it Darkseid debunked by LDN_Film?  Is it Perry debunked by Laurence Fishburne?  Is it because the author of Differences lacks the imagination to make the first scene of the film anything but the first scene in the trailers?  Are we really losing anything discarding the discredited Differences and instead relying upon all the other authenticated information even if Differences magically turns out to be true?  No.  Seeking to rely on more credible facts because you value truth, honesty, and integrity is never a mistake.

Think critically.

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“I Walked Away From Mankind” Explained

Thesis

Diana is not saying, “I rejected humanity and condemn them for their division.”
She’s saying, “I spared them my divinity because it doesn’t work with their division.”

Defining The Controversy

I continue to see confusion about the sequence of events and statements, so to make it explicitly clear: Diana defeats Ares, then [by her own timeline] she walks away from mankind, she fights Doomsday, and she tells Bruce she walked away, Bruce sends her the original photo, and it is then that Wonder Woman says, “So I stay, I fight, and I give for the world I know can be.  This is my mission now.  Forever.”  Before leaping into the light in our time.

We have no explicit indication that she has been doing this between defeating Ares and defeating Doomsday other than her statement that she’s killed “things”- plural- from other “worlds”- again plural- before.  So Diana’s last lines in Wonder Woman come after Dawn of Justice and are not in contradiction with BvS.  Anything based on the last lines is a comprehension error and not a contradiction.

However, contradiction can still be alleged based on the explicit statement that Diana believes in love… and the general idea or attitude that she is an irrepressible activist.

Concisely, “If you love, you can’t walk away.” and/or “Heroes can’t walk away.”

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Lex Luthor Explained

Lex Luthor leaves many confused.  What follows is an explanation of Lex’s motives and machinations, then exploded and examined with in-story support.  Inspired by episode 42 of MOSAIC.

We’ll largely stick to in-story sources, although everything discussed is supported by second-tier continuity like the Forbes feature, Wired interview, World of Batman v. Superman promotional comics, TimeOut travel guides, etc.  For example, it’s fun trivia that Clark and Lex share the middle-name Joseph, but not vital for any deduction or conclusion.

First we’ll outline everything in the affirmative, Lex’s motive, machinations, and moves:

Motive

  • Expose “power can be innocent” as a lie.

That’s it.  Everything essentially comes from this multi-layered motive.  Lex means to enact this motive through several big-picture plans.

Machinations

  • Demonize Superman
  • Manipulate Batman to Beat Superman
  • Gain Exclusive Entrance to Ship
  • Develop Doomsday

The first plan is the main plan.  The second plan arises after it is clear Senator Finch won’t publicly legitimize his position.  The third plan ties everything together and creates the fourth plan.  The first three big-picture plans encompass the Lex’s moves until he learns from the ship, when he calls the fourth as an audible.  The final plan covers his moves in the second half of the film.

Moves

  • Preparation & Planning
  • Africa
  • Import License
  • Fundraiser
  • Bombing
  • Entering Ship
  • Develop Doomsday
  • Distract Superman

These big events encompass the main moves Lex makes in order to accomplish his machinations for his motive.  Let’s break it down as a sequence of events expressed in the affirmative for Lex. read more

Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice – Spoiler-Free Reaction

Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice is an incredible follow-up to Man of Steel and lead into Justice League.  The title characters are honored and rendered in a sincere and sophisticated way like never before on film. The underlying inspirations are respected and taken seriously with genuine affection and artistry.  An emotional, suspenseful, and dramatic journey.  Smart characters and plotting, stunning visuals and action.

An absolute must-see for superhero fans.

Buy your tickets, mark your calendars to prepare for repeat viewings, it’s satisfying on a visceral level but loaded with nods, homages, citations, references, and ideas which warrant noticing and discussion.

I had the privilege of attending the IMAX event last year which ended in the generous surprise of seeing the film on March 21st in IMAX, which opens with Zack imploring the audience to respect the viewing experience of those yet to see the film.  So I’m trying to keep this short.  I’m seeing the film again in 70mm opening night and again Easter Weekend, so more in-depth discussion to come.  For now, please allow this to act as a reassurance of quality along metrics of concern for longtime fans. read more

MOSAIC Episode Index

coverblackWelcome to Man of Steel Answers!  If this is your first time on the site, it mainly hosts the Man of Steel Answer Insight Commentary (MOSAIC) podcast which is an exhaustive look at 2013’s Man of Steel, the Superman mythos, and surrounding DC cinematic universe topics.

MOSAIC has commentary on Man of Steel‘s Act One in the following episodes:

Certain episodes are focused on answering questions revolving around a central theme:

Finally, several episodes are dedicated to reacting to news or answering mailbag questions:

Index of selected videos:

American Alien and Man of Steel Parallels

I’ve been looking forwards to Superman American Alien for some time now.  The nature of monthly serial storytelling and the demands of the current market make it tough to do character studies.  In the regular books, fans have trouble delaying gratification or having reasonable expectations, and seem to judge every scant 22-pages against cherry-picked memories spanning decades.  That’s a pretty high bar to clear when the vast majority of comic books are- by definition- average or below average (or else you need to recalibrate your normalizations).

Yet, the structure and approach of American Alien allows it to mitigate these concerns.  Divorced from continuity, the reader should immediately approach this with an open mind rather than preparing to drop the gavel of judgment for some continuity flub or heretical addition, subtraction, or modification.  As an anthology series (which is, perhaps, one of my favorite forms of storytelling), each issue does deliver on a complete story.  With different artists for each story, deadlines can be met, tone and topic can turn on a dime, and again the audience is challenged to open their mind rather than expect the same thing again and again.

They don’t have to like every artist or story equally, but the format immediately implies different approaches and angles which broadens the mind, because some comic fans and Superman fans can be fairly narrow-minded and very particular in their tastes.  The approach means that even they can just pick and choose what resonates with them without having to throw out the entire anthology series.  While each issue needs to relate an entire story, understanding that you’re getting vignettes allows you to skip and cut and breath more than in a standard format, which means Max Landis gets to get into character more than your typical issue.

MLXQmBYThe canonical shifting of core identity from Superman to Clark Kent Post-Crisis has always made sense to me and is, at this point, probably the more enduring interpretation of the character (with shades of nuance and variance in-between).  For that reason, I’ve always loved Clark Kent and wanted to see more of him in the comics.  So when Max Landis describes the series as “this is what made him Clark Kent” I’m excited, irrespective of any disagreements I may have with him on Superman otherwise.  As long as he’s telling an emotionally truthful story, I don’t care if it’s “not my Superman” it’s still something that adds to the tapestry of the mythos for future fans and creators to pick and pull from.

Issue #1 is entitled “Dove” and I think it’s pretty clear that it’s not meant in the ornithological sense, beyond being a bird of flight, but more the Western symbolic tradition of doves representing love and especially peace (particularly given that the second issue is entitled “Hawk”).  In that sense, this story is Clark in the peaceful womb of childhood, Smallville, and his parents’ love.  It’s sweet and mostly sincere.  I enjoyed it greatly and am looking forwards to the “brutal” issue two,  “sexy” issue three, thoughtful issue four, and so on.

Given Regarding Clark, the comparisons between American Alien and Man of Steel are somewhat unavoidable and easy to take some parts as slights or indictments against Man of Steel, whether real or imagined, intentional or not.  Nonetheless, despite the differences, I see way more similarities than Landis probably even realizes and shows these aren’t as far apart or as in conflict as some might like you to believe.  Rather, there are some elements that show both storytellers looked to modernize and update their respective takes in a grounded, human, and relevant fashion.

The Importance of Flight (and Super Speed)

SMAA_1_01_600The power of flight is central to both stories and not to be taken for granted.  Without flight, Clark’s ability to intervene and interact with the world is severely limited.  However, with flight, the possibilities seem endless to 12 year old Clark in American Alien by the end of the issue and they can’t help but make Clark beam in Man of Steel.  We’ve talked on show how flight was transformative and allowed Clark to be who he wanted to be, see family, avoid detection, and broaden his horizons, MOS gets to present it in a visual montage where we see him circle the globe, gain incredible speed, ally with Lois, and come home to Martha.  In AA, Clark excitedly lists off all the possibilities.

As a general rule of thumb, the later in life Clark gains the power of flight (and/or super speed) the more grounded- no pun intended- the take on Superman will be.  When Clark is flying around the crib, we can expect a more playful rendition.  If Clark doesn’t discover flight until working as a Hollywood stuntman long after leaving the dust bowl, we’re reading the more serious It’s Superman by Tom DeHaven.  Many of the traits people would like to take for granted develop in different ways depending on when Clark discovers his ability to fly.  At least for the purposes of this first issue, a younger Clark suits the tone and characterization.

The joy of flight mastered is evident in both.

Out Of Control

In both stories, Clark’s inability to control his powers leaves him confused, exposed, and potentially dangerous.  The same fear and lack of control is evident in being unable to command himself to land as Clark suffered in experiencing sensory overload while in class.  While angry, Clark breaks a bathroom door, mirror, and wall in AA; and in MOS, Clark crushes a fence post and turns a truck into a pretzel.  In both, the unintended consequences is others getting hurt, Jon cutting his foot or Clark’s teacher burning her hand.  Clark is moved to tears in both because of how frightened they are.

Protective Parents

In both, the Kents are protective and come to the rescue, even at their own expense.  Mars risks life and limb climbing into the sky with Clark, Jon finds himself hanging out of a biplane.  Martha rushes to school and stands defiant against Zod, while Jonathan faces a tornado and gives his life so that Clark can have a few more years of normalcy.

Flashbacks As Thoughts

Both storytellers use flashbacks as a cinematic way to inform the audience of the characters’ contemporaneous thoughts.  In MOS, the flashbacks served to show what Clark was thinking, feeling, or experiencing in the present.  In AA, the flashback serves to show what Jon is dreaming that evening.

Allowed to Grow Up

Both sets of Kents do not subject Clark to a battery of scientific tests and recognize that as inhuman to do so.  Mars says, “We’d never [get him looked at by some real scientists], Jack.  Never.  He’s our son.  Right, Jon?”  Jonathan never goes any further than to have the Command Key tested.  Both are aware of the import and consequences of involving “real scientists” into Clark’s development.  Instead, both sets of Kents impress upon Clark the necessity of keeping his secret, simultaneously with the desire to allow him to grow up before seriously using his gifts.  “No, duh, people would see me!  I’m just kidding.  But maybe I could later… when I’m older?”

Driven By Necessity

It may be easy to romantically cast Jon as more readily embracing Clark’s nature than Jonathan, but both fathers were driven by the necessity of keeping Clark’s secret.  Jon didn’t explore Clark’s ability to fly until he was 12.  Clark says, “I mainly happens when I’m sleeping.”  That means that this has happened more than once and enough times to create a pattern for Clark to observe.  That means that Jon and Mars knew Clark had ascended into the sky, terrified and uncontrolled, on multiple occasions before involving Dr. Jack.  It would be unkind to call that negligent parenting considering the otherworldly circumstances without precedent, but note that even after visiting Dr. Jack, there was still no change in parenting.

It isn’t until Clark uncontrollably floats in public that Jon is forced to take a different approach.  This wasn’t some kind and romantic embrace and endorsement of Clark being alien.  It was a necessary approach after Jon was at the end of his rope of suppression, expert examination, and neglect.  When the power manifested publicly, Jon had no other choice but to embrace Clark learning to fly.  Arguably the emphasis changed from “don’t fly” to “learn to fly” but the impetus and the goal remains (learning to fly is also how not to fly).  Clark flying meant preserving his secret, his safety, and all the blessings of flight.  It made logical sense for Jon to push Clark to learn.  However, don’t forget that even though Jon and Mars knew Clark was nigh invulnerable, they put up with Clark floating multiple times and didn’t train until Clark’s power went public.  Jon did not embrace flying the moment Clark discovered he could float.

Similarly, despite people casting Jonathan as unnecessarily restricting Clark’s nature and powers, the challenges faced by Jonathan and Martha were also driven by necessity and love.  Their Clark was in pain from a young age and capable of inflicting harm on others.  By necessity, Jonathan and Martha had to train Clark to focus, restrain, and suppress his powers for his own sake and for those around him.  In AA, if Clark gets hit by a car or accidentally floats, no one gets hurt.  In MOS, a young Clark would experience the same agony that caused a war-hardened adult Zod and Faora to crumple unless he could learn to focus; if Clark didn’t restrain and suppress his powers, people could die on the other end of his heat-vision.

So Jonathan and Martha intervened and trained Clark far earlier and Clark mastered his abilities far sooner; such that he wasn’t experiencing the same uncontrolled powers at 13 that AA Clark had at 12.  The danger and the necessity pushed Jonathan and Martha to be better teachers which meant Clark could live a normal childhood longer and not have the same terror or public incidents AA Clark did.  In AA, Jon had every incentive to push Clark to master a known power, floating, in order to keep his secret and for all the benefits of flight.  In MOS, the Kents already did that job years prior; Clark mastered his known powers and could keep his secret and keep himself and others safe from them.  There was no incentive or logical necessity in pushing MOS Clark to test his limits or crazily assume he might fly.  In AA, Jon knew what he’d be getting if Clark mastered flight, moreover he needed to for Clark’s safety and secret.  In MOS, Jonathan would have no idea what would happen if they pushed Clark to test his limits or powers and didn’t need to.

Both stories approach the parenting from parents who love their sons but raise them differently based on need, not because of some romantic meta-narrative about embracing Clark’s identity.  Neither shies away from understanding that Clark is an alien with powers but also, “You are my son.”

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Supergirl and Man of Steel Parallels

I finally got to watch the pilot episode of Supergirl and can’t wait for the rest of the season.  Supergirl allows people to indulge in their preconceptions about Superman but also have those tested or turned on their side by Supergirl.

If you missed Monday night’s premiere and aren’t faced with region issues, you can watch or rewatch the first episode of Supergirl for free at CBS, Amazon, Google Play (with coupon), iTunes, and other streaming services.  Or watch the episode with commentary by Executive Producers Ali Adler and Sarah Schechter along with Director Glen Winter here[I haven’t watched the commentary yet.]

As someone with a broad palate for all things within the Superman family (even Krypto) I was really pleased with Supergirl especially from the character drama and soapy relationship angle.  Basically anytime Kara was emoting, I was engaged, and there’s some adventurous action that does its job.

Of course, as someone who loves Man of Steel, I couldn’t help but admire some of the parallels that show these two takes on Kryptonian cousins aren’t as far apart or as in conflict as some might like you to believe.  Rather, there are some elements that show both storytellers looked to modernize and update their respective supers in a grounded, human, and relevant.

Starting on Krypton

Both open on Krypton to establish these are beings from another world.  Very different yet also very human, with families who love them, mourn their loss, who feel fear and passion, experience tragedy, and hold hopes and dreams.  Both mothers, Lara and Alura send off their children with tearful goodbyes.

Sent With A Mission

Both Kal-El and Kara are sent to Earth with a mission.  Kal-El carries Jor-El and Lara’s hopes and dreams for a better world, one without the mistakes of Krypton.  Alura wants Kara to survive and from the outset to act as a protector.

Not According To Plan

Yet, both suffer frustrations with the plans of their parents as well was unexpected complications.  Clark isn’t a “god” growing up.  Kara doesn’t protect or look over Kal-El.  Zod’s survival was not a part of Jor-El’s plan.  Kara’s 24-year detour with Fort Rozz trailing behind was not a part of Alura’s plan.

Life Changed At Age 13

Both experience a life-changing moment at that critical age of 13.  Clark saves a bus full of children using his powers, his alien origins are revealed to him, and he agrees to have a normal childhood.  Kara is ripped from her home planet and family, then arrives on a new planet without her mission, and adopted by a new family.

Same Safe Human-Type Childhood

Despite this trials and changes, both Clark and Kara have commitments towards having “safe human-type childhoods.”  Clark didn’t become Superboy or act out adventures from Smallville.  Kara followed the advice of her Superman and grew up a normal well-adjusted person. read more

Zod Fight Analysis: Oil Tanker Objections – Novice v. Veteran Expectations – Collateral Damage Assessment


Some critics seem really hung-up on Superman prioritizing 7.2 billion people over one side of a car park.  It seems ridiculous to have to get that granular and justify a single, instinctual heat-of-the-moment choice by a first-time combatant (just hours earlier a life-long pacifist) against a veteran soldier… but this keeps coming up! read more

Rambling: Directorial Impact

The Chair

Chris Moore was a co-producer on Good Will Hunting when several filmmakers were originally in consideration to direct, including: Kevin Smith, Mel Gibson, Michael Mann, and Steven Soderbergh. Ever since then, Moore was fascinated with the possibility of seeing those different visions with the same script. Moore, Affleck, and Damon would go on to produce Project Greenlight, a television series focusing on first-time filmmakers being given the chance to direct a feature film.

After three seasons, Moore would take that experience and finally crystallize his experiment into the reality competition television show, The Chair, which gave YouTuber Shane Dawson and NYU film school graduate Anna Martemucci each the opportunity to create movies based on same script by Dan Schoffer.

Consider and compare these two films based off the same initial script:

Project Greenlight

After a 10-year hiatus, Season 4 of Project Greenlight premiered this past Sunday and repeated this experiment with 13 different directors for 3-minute short films all with the same control- the identical script by the Farrlley Brothers (Dumb and Dumber, There’s Something About Mary, etc).  All 13 submissions are available in this playlist. However, if you only have time to watch a few, just in terms of sheer contrast, consider these:


A baseline similar to the writers’ sensibilities.

A starkly different approach.

A completely cartoonish take.

There’s nothing radical about the idea that “the director is important” but rarely do we get so explicit an illustration.

The many hats a director has to wear all come together into something completely different: The casting, the vision, the style, the technology, the interpretation, the cinematography, the edit, the  collaborators, the performances, the budget, the execution, etc.  allow productions to diverge dramatically before our eyes. Even having read the script, we can be completely surprised by the ultimate outcome! An actor, an editor, a composer’s score, etc. can all make something work beyond the four-corners of the page.

Consider that the next time you’re concerned about an allegation arising from only the script.

Really, this whole rambling is so I could write that line… but let me meander around in the hopes of finding a second point.

Diversity

I enjoy Snyder’s style and am encouraged that we will have his films to provide the universe with a spine, it’s great that he’s so invested he wants to do this again and again, and fantastic that a director that everyone praises as collaborative is at the center of it… but I can’t wait to see the visions the other directors bring to the cinematic universe too.  They each have their own voice and contributions which make for a richer and more diverse whole.

I think it’s interesting that Snyder’s assisting with a Dorito’s Superbowl campaign that democratizes direction… commercials are essentially short films and Snyder and Jenkins got their start in commercials… and Ben Affleck’s passion project is a show which gives a young filmmaker an opportunity to make their first feature.  They’re actively giving back, understanding they’re in a position of uncommon privilege (Jenkins once said something like she had been given a brass ring to make any movie she wanted but never wanted or expected fame; and has consciously been selective… electing to do Wonder Woman suggests she’s willing to put up with fame and a big film to say something) inviting more into a world where there’s no clear path.

While our directors are incredibly diverse in their personal lives, filmmaking origins, career paths, politics, religion, family life, age, etc.- meaning our Justice League of directors reflect that same kind of diverse-individuals working towards a common goal found in our fictional Justice League- I think we’ll get the best of both worlds: unique executions of their individual visions but also a coherent universe (you know, like the comic books!).  Why?  The filmography of our known directors share a certain intensity (one which George Miller’s Fury Road would align with nicely).

Intensity

These are passionate, serious, intense filmmakers… from the plots of their films to their process. Snyder’s participation in the now-famous “300 Workout” is legendary and his films tend towards a dark irony without happy endings. Ayer wrangled the mad and method LaBeouf and reportedly looked after the mental health of his Suicide Squad actors by providing a psychotherapist, not to mention his earlier films. Jenkins found herself diving deep into the minds of convicts and killers and Wan is responsible for a modern horror renaissance. Affleck’s thillers are routinely praised as tense and gripping. This is nothing new or surprising, we already knew this was the direction Warner Brothers was aiming for, but we can see that intention in the selection of those directors. The films will vary in subject matter, the fantastic, their humor, the role of magic, the period and setting, and more… but they’ll be unified by the intensity of their filmmakers and the common shared universe.