There’s a lot to love about Matt Reeves’ take on The Batman.
The character’s introduction is one of the best onscreen portrayals of him yet, as we see how two years of dwelling in the shadows has bred fear into the criminals of Gotham, with some chilling shots of them staring into dark alleyways, fearful of what will emerge. And there is a fresh arc to the Batman’s role in Gotham, evident by the end of the film, a take on the character we haven’t really seen highlighted for some time. Gratifyingly, it’s an arc earned both plot-wise and emotionally.
His relationship with Jeffrey Wright’s excellent Jim Gordon (though really, when isn’t Wright excellent…!?) is a highlight, though doesn’t pay off as satisfyingly as we might expect. Perhaps they’re saving that for the inevitable (and bluntly teased) sequels.
And finally, after decades of being ignored in the various cinematic versions of Batman, ‘the World’s Greatest Detective’ (as he’s known in comic books) takes to the screen, and very welcome he is (albeit set against a typically convoluted film noir plot).
Noir is a major touchstone here, and Jake Gittes would be at home in Reeves’ Gotham as much as he was in Polanski’s Chinatown (I almost expected someone to pull Gordon aside and say “Forget it, Jim, it’s Gotham”).
The other influences are strong: Scorsese’s Taxi Driver weighs heavily on Pattinson’s Batman/Wayne, and Fincher’s Se7en and Zodiac loom close at hand in numerous ways, while the dynamic between Selina Kyle/Catwoman and Batman here could easily be traced back to Sutherland and Fonda’s in Pakula’s Klute. Meanwhile, comic book series such as Batman: Year One and The Long Halloween also make their presences keenly felt (Zoe Kravitz’s winning take on Kyle/Catwoman has its DNA placed firmly in the former).
These textures make for a far more refreshing version of the character than I was expecting, and while the distinctly non-frenetic pace is to be applauded, a tighter edit could easily have trimmed fifteen to twenty minutes from the bloated three hour running time without any detraction from the overall film.
While Robert Pattinson’s Bruce Wayne occasionally veers a little too close to being a moody emo boy under his floppy locks, he nevertheless brings a fine vulnerability to the role, gifting the character with liberal (*cough*) doses of white guilt and a couple of touching revelatory moments for both of his alter-egos. Happily, the actor/director/studio choice not to make Wayne growl absurdly as Batman pays dividends, as that has been too much of a diversion in recent iterations of the character.
The film’s main villain never feels quite as present or chilling as he should be. Despite some truly grisly crimes he tends to get a little lost in the story’s mass of convolutions, and his final confrontation with Batman ultimately suffers when compared to, and yes, that is an elephant in the room, Ledger’s Joker. Indeed, The Batman is unable to escape from the long shadows cast by the far-too-recent Nolan Dark Knight Trilogy (or, to a far lesser extent, the Snyder Batfleck efforts), and perhaps expects audiences to have moved on too quickly from that cultural juggernaut. It’s a sure bet that Reeves’ outing with the Caped Crusader would have felt fresher with a little more distance from those films.
Having said that, Reeves should be applauded for his almost stoic anti-blockbuster approach, deftly juggling elements of noir, horror, and mystery, for resolutely refusing to spoon fed audiences yet another version of the Batman origin story, and for leaving the character in a place that bodes well for his next outing.
Though maybe next time Reeves could bring some sharper scissors to the edit suite.
Marvel Bounces Back With Phase 4 Releases And Finally… Fantastic Four!
2020 has been the first year in a decade not to see any Marvel theatrical releases. While I’m certain I don’t need to explain why that is, the news from today’s Disney Investors meetings should keep fans of the studio’s output very happy. Buckle up, because this is quite a ride…
A slew of new releases will begin on January 15th, as WandaVision becomes the first Marvel Cinematic Universe TV series, crossing over onto Disney +. Here’s the new trailer for this extremely exciting looking show, starring Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Teyonah Paris and Kat Dennings:
Following that on the same channel, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, starring Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Emily VanCamp and Wyatt Russell, will arrive on March 19th. Marvel dropped a brand new trailer for this:
The first trailer also arrived for the Loki series, starring Tom Hiddleston as the God of Mischief, Owen Wilson and Gugu Mbatha-Raw:
And finally we have a sizzle reel, including the first snippets of footage, for the as-yet undated Ms. Marvel, starring Iman Vellani as Kamala Khan/Ms.Marvel:
Also announced and/or confirmed without release dates, were forthcomng series Hawkeye, seeing Jeremy Renner reprise his role, alongside Hailee Steinfeld as comic book favourite, Kate Bishop, and She-Hulk, with Tatiana Maslany as Jennifer Walters/She-Hulk, Tim Roth returning as the Abomination and an appearance from Hulk himself, Mark Ruffalo.
Meanwhile, What If…? and I Am Groot will see animated adventures on the channel, and just announced at the last minute: James Gunn will write and direct The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, for an unannounced date in 2022, and the same year will see Don Cheadle in his own series as James Rhodes, in an adaptation of a famous Iron Man comic book storyline, Armor Wars.
Looking further ahead to shows in development, Moon Knight will get his own series (apparently with Oscar Issac in the title role, as a bizarre and complex vigilante), Samuel L Jackon’s Nick Fury and Ben Mendelsohn’s Skrull, Talos from Captain Marvel, team for Secret Invasion (another comic book series, which saw the shape-shifting Skrulls infiltrate the Marvel heroes on Earth), and finally, Dominique Thorne will play genius inventor Riri Williams in Ironheart, a series about the creator of the most advanced suit of armor since Iron Man.
The long-delayed Black Widow movie will finally be released, to cinemas according to Marvel Studios’ head honcho, Kevin Feige, on November 6th, 2021. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings has now completed production and will be in theaters July 9th, 2021.
Christian Bale is confirmed to be joining the cast of Taika Waititi’s Thor: Love and Thunder, released May 6th, 2022.
Meanwhile, Brie Larson returns as Carol Danvers in Captain Marvel 2 on November 11th, 2022, directed by Nia DaCosta. Joining the cast are recently announced Ms. Marvel, Iman Vellani, and Monica Rambeau played by WandaVision’s Teyonah Parris.
Peyton Reed is back to direct the third Ant-Man film, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Douglas, and Michelle Pfeiffer all return. Kathryn Newton joins the cast as Cassie Lang and Jonathan Majors as Kang the Conqueror. No release date was given for this yet.
Although news on Black Panther 2 was somewhat understandably slim, Feige confirmed that T’Challa, as played by the late Chadwick Boseman, will not be recast.
And, as if all this wasn’t breathtaking enough for Marvel fans, Feige announced that Jon Watts (director of the MCU Spider-Man films) will bring Marvel’s First Family (created by Stan Lee, and Jack Kirby, in 1961), Fantastic Four to the screen at last, thanks to the all-powerful Disney returning the characters to their rightful home in the recent acquisition of 21st Century Fox. There have been two previous screen versions of these characters through Fox (including a rights grabbing abomination, infamously directed by Josh Trank in 2015), but fans of the Four have longed to see them integrated into the MCU, and now that will happen.
2020 may have been a quiet period for Marvel fans, but it’s safe to say the studio will be back with a bang in 2021.
Marvel Cast Iman Vellani As Ms. Marvel For Disney Plus
Deadline just dropped the news that Marvel have found their Kamala Khan, AKA Ms. Marvel. Newcomer Iman Vellani will play the character in a new series for Disney Plus.
Created by editors Sana Amanat and Stephen Wacker, writer G. Willow Wilson, and artists Adrian Alphona and Jamie McKelvie, Khan is Marvel’s first Muslim character to headline her own comic book.
The new series for the streaming channel will be written by Bisha K. Ali and centers on Khan, a Pakistani-American teen based in New Jersey. It will mark Vellani’s first big role in the film and television industry.
The news follows on swiftly from the recent announcement that Tatiana Maslany has been cast in the title role of a She-Hulk series, and this week’s announcement that the studio is developing a Nick Fury series, to star Samuel L. Jackson.
We’ll bring you more word on Ms. Marvel as the show moves into production, but this is exciting news for fans of the character.
The MCU Gets Weird With WandaVision Trailer
The trailer for WandaVision, the first Marvel Cinematic Universe series to hit Disney Plus dropped last night, and it looks like things are about to get mighty strange…
Not much is known about the plot for WandaVision, but it does apparently take place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe after the events of Avengers: Endgame, which saw The Vision meet his synthetic maker (that can’t possibly be a spoiler for anyone now, right!?). That in itself makes this show intriguing, to say the least.
Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany reprise their roles from the Marvel movies, joined by Teyonah Parris, Kat Dennings, Randall Park, and Kathryn Hahn, while the six episodes have been written by Jac Schaeffer and directed by Matt Shakman.
No date was given for the release of the series, just a generic ‘Coming Soon,’ though since the series was originally supposed to drop in December, following Falcon And the Winter Soldier (which has been delayed in production due to that all-encompassing Covid-19), it now looks like WandaVision will kick off the Disney Plus Marvel bandwagon.
We’ll just have to wait and see when exactly this slice of Marvel weirdness will arrive on our screens, but this trailer certainly has me looking forward to it…
Here’s Your First Look At Robert Pattinson As The Batman
Director of Warner Bros.’ forthcoming reboot of The Batman, Matt Reeves has revealed the first look at incoming Bruce Wayne, Robert Pattinson, in costume as the Dark Knight…
The short, atmospheric video is part of a camera test for the film, so this may not be the final costume, but there’s no doubt that Pattinson looks good in the cape and cowl.
The cast for The Batman also includes Zoe Kravitz as Catwoman, Paul Dano as Riddler, Colin Farrell as the Penguin, John Turturro as crime boss Carmine Falcone, Jeffrey Wright as Commissioner Gordon, Andy Serkis as Alfred, and Peter Sarsgaard in an as-yet unrevealed role.
The Batman hits our screens on June 25, 2021.
UPDATE: Apparently that IS the Bat Suit and also the music is from Michael Giacchino, who’s scoring the film. That makes this clip a whole lot more intriguing.
WandaVision, Loki and Falcon and the Winter Soldier Teasers: You WILL Subcribe To Disney +
Those of you who unsubscribed to Disney + at the end of The Mandalorian: get ready to re-subscribe:
There are your Super Bowl teasers for forthcoming Marvel TV shows: WandaVision, Loki, and Falcon And The Winter Soldier. Well, Disney +, you have my attention.
All featuring the actors from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany, Tom Hiddleston, and Anthony Mackie & Sebastian Stan), joined by the likes of Kat Denning and Owen Wilson, these look set to be intriguing expansions of the first ten years of Marvel, ready to lead us into the next phase.
The first show up will be Falcon And The Winter Soldier (autumn 2020), which looks like it will deal head on with the space left by Steve Rogers (oh, the whole world has seen Avengers: Endgame by now, right!?).
WandaVision (following soon after) looks especially bizarre, seemingly taking visual cues from the likes of I Love Lucy and Roseanne. It’s great to see these shows might take some creative risks.
And I feel sure Mr Hiddleston will bring a fan or two into the Disney streaming service with Loki, in 2021. Also expect this show to tie-in heavily with cinema sequel, Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, sadly without director, Scott Derrickson, who recently departed the production due to those pesky “creative differences.”.
Now, where’s that TV remote? I have some planning to do…
Somewhat Surprisingly, The New Mutants Gets A New Trailer…
Whatever has occurred in the twists and turns taken to bring Fox’s The New Mutants to the screen remains somewhat of a mystery, but we finally have a new trailer and a new (new) release date.
Though I’m generally not a huge fan of Marvel’s mutant teams, I’ve always had a soft spot for The New Mutants, encouraged mainly by the Chris Claremont/Bill Sienkiewicz ‘Demon Bear‘ storyline that elevated a bunch of second string characters into a must read comic book!
I also rather liked the first trailer for Josh Boone’s The New Mutants film for Fox, released two years ago, followed by… well, officially, nothing.
Behind the scenes, however, everything seemed to be going on, from the Fox/Disney merger (would Disney want to see Marvel characters in a straightforward horror movie, albeit released under the Fox banner?), to delayed release dates, rumoured reshoots involving X-Men writer/producer Simon Kinsberg and further rumours that the film would be shelved as it now longer fitted in with the Mouse House’s overall plans for Marvel.
But just recently, director Boone tweeted that a new trailer would be released and a final release date set, and here we are.
I’m more than intrigued by this, the cast is full of great young actors (honestly, I’d watch Anya Taylor-Joy in anything, and I’m dying to see her take on Illyana Rasputin / Magik, but Maisie Williams, Maisie Williams, Henry Zaga, Blu Hunt, and Charlie Heaton are all of great interest too), and the thought of a superhero/horror mash-up ticks all of my boxes.
The New Mutants is released (finally) on April 3rd. Here’s hoping I won’t regret spending so much time writing about it.
Riddle Me This… Paul Dano To Play Which Bat-Villain?
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 Mercy, Prisoners, 12 Years a Slave, There Will Be Blood, Youth 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
Send In The Frowns – Joker Review
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.
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.
Marvel Finds Its Kate Bishop For Hawkeye TV Show – Hailee Steinfeld!
Variety are reporting that Marvel are close to signing Hailee Steinfeld to play Kate Bishop, in their new Disney Plus limited series, Hawkeye.
Jeremy Renner will move across from the movies to play Hawkeye, and Steinfeld will play Kate Bishop, a character who took on the mantle of the Hawkeye name, while Clint Barton was off doing dark deeds as Ronin (as seen in Avengers: Endgame).
We’re big fans of Steinfeld, here at Out Of Dave’s Head Towers, from her breakthrough role in the Cohen Brothers’ 2010 remake of True Grit, through to her superb turns in films including The Edge of Seventeen and the Transformers film it’s okay to like, Bumblebee.
Since these series on Disney Plus will be more directly linked to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (unlike the ABC and Netflix shows, which drifted further away from the MCU over time), it will be intriguing to see whether Steinfeld as Bishop will eventually cross over into future films.
Hawkeye will string his bow on Disney Plus in autumn 2021.