Riddle Me This… Paul Dano To Play Which Bat-Villain?

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The answer, of course, is that Warner Bros have just announced Paul Dano will play The Riddler, in Matt Reeves’ The Batman.

We couldn’t be happier about this at Out of Dave’s Head towers, as Dano is a superb actor and a smart choice.

In a departure from the comic books, Dano’s character will be named Edward Nashton, as opposed to the rather too on-the-nose Edward Nigma, and will be part of a Rogues’ Gallery of villains squaring off against the Caped Crusader, joining (so far) Zoe Kravitz as Catwoman (see here for more).

Jonah Hill was in talks for the film, reportedly to play either The Riddler or The Penguin, but it seems negotiations broke down, swiftly followed by Dano’s announcement.

Created by Bill Finger and Dick Sprang in Detective Comics 140, published in 1948, the Riddler has previously appeared onscreen portrayed by Frank Gorshin and John Astin (in the 1960s Batman film and TV series) and Jim Carrey (in the 1995 film, Batman Forever).

Dano’s credits include Love and MercyPrisoners12 Years a SlaveThere Will Be BloodYouth and Okja, and he was recently nominated for an Emmy for his role in Escape at Dannemora.

Dano and Kravitz join Jeffrey Wright as Comissioner Gordon and Robert Pattinson as Batman. Warner Bros will release The Batman on June 25, 2021.

Photo: Paul Archuleta/WireImage

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Send In The Frowns – Joker Review

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So I’m very late to the game with this one, but much of Joker is, of course, amazing.

I’m sure I don’t need to explain that Joker is a step away from the fairly disastrous DC Extended Universe. It’s a standalone tale, starring Joaquin Phoenix, that explores the background of Batman’s arch-nemesis, containing nods to films from Network (he’s mad as hell and he’s not going to take it anymore, indeed), Taxi Driver (you almost expect Phoenix to snarl “You talkin’ to me?”), The King of Comedy (with both elements of the plot and the perhaps too on-the-nose casting of Robert De Niro) to The French Connection (particularly in one of the shootings that takes place on a subway stairway).

But away from the greatest hits of the Easy Riders, Raging Bull generation, Joker centers around a truly mesmerising, heartbreaking and ultimately repulsive performance from Joaquin Phoenix, who thoroughly deserves every award bound to be thrown at him.

It’s absolutely Phoenix’s movie, as he dominates every inch of the screen, ably abetted by Lawrence Sher’s gorgeous cinematography, and further supported by Mark Friedberg’s bold and beautiful production design, bringing to life Gotham City by way of 1970s New York.

Director Todd Phillips surprises (in fact, shocks) with his ability to allow his lead actor to fully explore the fragility, pain and brutality which punctuates this journey into mental illness. It’s also a surprisingly sharp commentary of the selfish, unfeeling world we’ve allowed to fester around us, resulting in the likes of Trump and Johnson.

However…

I can’t help but feel the film is something of an exercise in futility, as it takes so much care to explain away a character who ultimately doesn’t need to be explained. Heath Ledger’s multiple Joker “origins” in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight were as intriguing and satisfying as everything Phillips and Phoenix put their character through (taking two discomforting hours instead of a few pages of dialogue).

I came away almost wishing they hadn’t hooked their story to Bill Finger, Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson’s character, but instead created their own. Is this too much of a comic book geek’s complaint?

Perhaps, but when as storytellers you attempt to give a voice to the too-often neglected corners of society in such painfully gritty terms, it then feels almost like you want to have your cake and eat it too by connecting this to a psychotic comic book villain. It’s almost as if the film is daring itself to give voice to the toxic parts of our culture likely to hold the four-colour character of the Joker aloft as an anti-hero.

I’m honestly not certain where the film stands on this, but it is undeniably deserving of greater contemplation than an immediate post-screening collection of thoughts such as these, and it’s certainly one I am curious to see again.

Regardless of these caveats, while I don’t think anything in the film (beyond Phoenix’s performance) raises it to the level of genius that’s been heaped upon it, Joker is a powerful and bold, utterly nihilistic, shattered funhouse reflection of the world around us. And that’s no laughing matter.

Meow! Zoe Kravitz Is Your New Catwoman!

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Big Little Lies star Zoe Kravitz has been confirmed as Catwoman for new movie, The Batman.

The actor reportedly pipped the likes of Zazie Beetz, Eiza Gonzalez and Oscar winner Alicia Vikander for the role of Bruce Wayne/Batman’s nemesis/love interest in Matt Reeves’ soon-to-begin filming new take on the Caped Crusader, starring Robert Pattinson in the title role.

Pattinson was chosen by Reeves and Warner Bros when previous Batman, Ben Affleck, departed the role after than the less-than-satisfactory Justice League.

Meanwhile, Kravitz’s credits include the Divergent series and Mad Max: Fury Road, and she will stalk the streets of Gotham alongside Jeffrey Wright as Commissioner Gordon and Jonah Hill, who is in talks for an unspecified villain role.

“It’s very much a point of view-driven, noir Batman tale,” Reeves said of his take, to the Hollywood Reporter earlier this year. “It’s told very squarely on his shoulders, and I hope it’s going to be a story that will be thrilling but also emotional. It’s more Batman in his detective mode than we’ve seen in the films. The comics have a history of that. He’s supposed to be the world’s greatest detective, and that’s not necessarily been a part of what the movies have been.

Pre-production on the Warner Bros./DC Comics pic is expected to start this summer. No official start date has been set, but industry rumours have suggested that filming could start late this year or early in 2020.

The Batman is scheduled to hit cinemas on June 25th, 2021.

Harley Quinn Dominates In Birds Of Prey Trailer

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Warner Bros/DC have just dropped the full trailer for Birds of Prey (And The Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn), so here it is…

I mean, it at least looks pretty and cohesive, in a way that even the trailers for Suicide Squad weren’t, and that cast is certainly to die for: Margot Robbie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Chris Messina, Rosie Perez, Ella Jay Basco, and Ewan McGregor, but I can’t help but feel it all comes across as a little… flat.

Maybe I’m just in a mood, but I was hoping for something a little more off-kilter, a little more dangerous (though a Harley Quinn song and dance number would definitely be a step in the right direction)…

But okay, if Robbie is at the centre of this (and the trailer certainly suggests that,as her Harley Quinn character positively dominates the narrative) then I’m in for the ride, as I think she’s a seriously undervalued actor and might just have the star power to pull this off. And if nothing else, it looks like it will be Jared Leto-free…

Birds of Prey (And The Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) – and that might be the last time I’ll type out that mouthful, directed by Cathy Yan, hits our local screens on February 7th, 2020.

Send In The Joker – New Trailer

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Just ahead of its premiere at the Venice Film Festival, here’s the final trailer for Todd Phillips’ Joker, starring Joaquin Phoenix.

What to make of this? It looks pretty intense and Phoenix is clearly pulling out all the stops, but frankly Phillips’ track record (The Hangover movies… oy!) causes a little pause for breath and despite the clearly well-intentioned decision to basically makes this a riff of Scorsese’s King Of Comedy I’m concerned it all feels a little too familiar, that its narrative arc may be a path already too well-trodden.

Frankly, I hope I’m wrong, I hope this film absolutely knocks it out of the park and I’ll be first in line on opening day, but I can’t help think this might not be a joke funny enough to repeat.

Joker opens on October 4th.

Is There Life On Mars…? Watch The Watchmen Trailer Now!

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Okay, cards on the table, I am fully vibed for Damon Lindelof’s new Watchmen series for HBO. Watch this trailer (just dropped at San Diego Comic Con) and you should be too…

That final shot! Wow! Hands up who’s excited for the return of Dr. Manhattan?

I mean, what’s not to love here? Definitely (and thankfully) not another run through of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon’s iconic comic book series (Zack Snyder already gave us a perfectly good and faithful film in 2009).

Instead, seemingly a direct sequel and highly intriguing take on the world of masks and vigilantes posited in the original story, everything about this screams class: from the cast to the music – provided by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.

Here’s the official synopsis to further whet your appetite:

“Watchmen takes place in an alternative, contemporary reality in the United States, in which masked vigilantes became outlawed due to their violent methods. Despite this, some gather around in order to start a revolution while others are going out to stop it before it is too late, as a greatly wide question levitates above them all; who watches the Watchmen?”

No release date has been given yet, though rumours persist it’ll be before the end of 2019.

I trust you’ll be watching the Watchmen with me…

Robert Pattinson Is Officially Your New Batman

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Warner Bros. have now officially announced that Robert Pattinson will star as the Caped Crusader in Matt Reeves’ forthcoming, The Batman.

Rumours flew out earlier this week that Pattinson and Nicholas Hoult were both duking it out in final negotiations as Reeves and Warner’s final choices, and now it looks like Pattinson punched that bit harder, as Deadline have revealed him as the victor.

Little is known about Reeves’ long-in-gestation movie, except that it will focus on the early days of Bruce Wayne as Batman, highlight more of the detective angle of the character (yay!) and that the central villains could be Penguin and Catwoman (again… boo!).

While many still think of Pattinson as “the Twilight guy,” the actor has steadily been turning out a number of critically-acclaimed roles in the past few years in films such as Good Time, Cosmopolis, High Life and The Lighthouse, and has also been cast in Christopher Nolan’s new movie, Tenet.

And director Reeves certainly did sterling work revitalising Fox’s revamp of the Planet of the Apes saga, so there’s much to be intrigued by here.

Shooting is rumoured to take place in the UK this autumn but no release date has been announced for The Batman, so I’ll be sure to light the Bat-Signal as soon as Warner Bros. give the word.


Photo by Paul Archuleta

NIN’s Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross Will Score HBO’s Watchmen

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So, I get it, we’re all pretty sceptical about HBO’s forthcoming Watchmen series. Showrunner Damon Lindelof has a somewhat mixed score card, plus it’s… well… it’s Watchmen.

Still, the cast has been shaping up nicely (including Jeremy Irons, Don Johnson, Regina King, Tim Blake Nelson, Louis Gossett Jr., Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, and Adelaide Clemens) and now the series has added ace musos Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross from Nine Inch Nails (currently on tour with new album, The Perfect Drug) to provide the soundtrack.

The pair have scored several movies (together and separately, and nabbed an Academy Award for their work on David Fincher’s The Social Network.

Whatever happens with HBO’s Watchmen, at least now we’re sure it’ll sound good!

Your Dream Or Nightmare Just Came True: HBO Make Watchmen TV Series

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Prepare to scream with delight or grind your teeth in furious indignation: HBO announced today that their Watchmen TV series is a go, following recent production of a pilot episode.

To further find your bliss/fuel your anger, writer/producer Damon Lindelof has warned not to expect another direct adaptation likeZack Snyder’s incredibly faithful 2009 movie. Lindelof wrote on Instagram that his version is the “New Testament” to the original’s “Old Testament”. HBO also released the following logline via Indiewire:

“Set in an alternate history where “superheroes” are treated as outlaws, “Watchmen” embraces the nostalgia of the original groundbreaking graphic novel while attempting to break new ground of its own.”

Lindelof has also said of the show:

“This story will be set in the world its creators painstakingly built…but in the tradition of the work that inspired it, this new story must be original. It has to vibrate with the seismic unpredictability of its own tectonic plates. It must ask new questions and explore the world through a fresh lens. Most importantly, it must be contemporary. The Old Testament was specific to the Eighties of Reagan and Thatcher and Gorbachev. Ours needs to resonate with the frequency of Trump and May and Putin and the horse that he rides around on, shirtless. And speaking of Horsemen, The End of the World is off the table…which means the heroes and villains–as if the two are distinguishable–are playing for different stakes entirely. Some of the characters will be unknown. New faces. New masks to cover them. We also intend to revisit the past century of Costumed Adventuring through a surprising yet familiar set of eyes…and it is here we will be taking our greatest risks.”

The show is sure to raise the ire of many fans of Watchmen, who think the Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons’ story should not be continued (both for moral reasons – as Moore notoriously has disowned anything produced by DC or Warner Bros beyond their original work – and creative reasons – seeing the graphic novel’s story as sacrosanct), and Lindelof’s CV is also filled with divisive productions (Prometheus and Lost among them).

Personally I’m cautiously intrigued by this and with a cast headed up by Tom Mison, Jeremy Irons, Regina King, Don Johnson, Tim Blake Nelson, Dylan Schombing, Lily Rose Smith, Adelynn Spoon, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Louis Gossett Jr., Adelaide Clemens, Frances Fisher, Jacob Ming-Trent and Andrew Howard, this promises to be, if nothing else, a major talking point when it hits HBO in 2019.

Ruby Rose Is Batwoman – DC’s First Onscreen Gay Hero

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In a very welcome piece of news, Orange Is The New Black star, Ruby Rose, has been cast as Batwoman in the CW’s annual crossover event and for her own series next season.

In recent years Batwoman has been at the forefront of LGBTQ+ representation in comics. Originally created in 1956, as a love interest for Batman in order to combat the allegations of Batman’s homosexuality arising from the controversial book Seduction of the Innocent (1954), the character disappeared from comics in the mid-1960s but was reintroduced to the DC comic universe in 2006, when she was established as a Jewish lesbian, becoming the first-ever lesbian superhero title DC character.

The CW’s series, written by Caroline Dries based on the DC characters, sees Batwoman armed with a passion for social justice and a flair for speaking her mind. Rose will star as Kate Kane, soaring onto the streets of Gotham as Batwoman, an out lesbian and highly trained street fighter primed to snuff out the failing city’s criminal resurgence.

Rose’s casting comes on the heels of Monday’s statement from The CW that the network anticipates a pilot for the Batwoman series as early as midseason, but we will get our first glimpse of the character in the big Arrowverse crossover event this December (teaming up The Flash, Arrow and Supergirl, but not Legends of Tomorrow).

Rose, who identifies as gender fluid, has already starred in Pitch Perfect 3, XXX: The Return of Xander Cage and John Wick: Chapter 2, and will soon be seen punching giant sharks alongside Jason Statham, in The Meg.

This sounds very exciting to me, taking a very important step towards more inclusive characters in media, and since Rose has already shown herself to be an intriguing actor, Batwoman would appear to be in safe hands.