13 July 2015 1939 Views


by James Murphy





Well, that WAS some festival! SAN DIEGO COMIC CON 2015: WE LOVE YOU!

It just KEEPS getting better and better. Each day gave us new revelations and with it, echoes of discussion across the communities. It’s great to see such passionate unity in the love of movies, comic books and their increasingly strong covalent bonds of connection.

And even if one were not a fan of comics, the fact is that the equivalent film genre is attracting some of the greatest talents out there. One can therefore take an interest in and derive enjoyment from a so called ‘comic book movie’ despite perhaps feeling awkward initially in some viewings / post movie opinion shares.

Whatever your position, the genre IS here to stay and is on top of the world. Yes, these are blockbusters and ready-made to be so: corporate processed and packaged. But they’re being created with independent spirit and vision and genuine engagements with the fan community. THAT is really what makes the Comic-Con so special: that sense of shared appreciation between the fans and the artists.

You’ll no doubt already have seen /heard the major details. But we cannot help giving you what we feel to be a taste of the highlights from the event, as well as some comment. No doubt certain readers will disagree and passionately, even. But that’s what it’s all about, really: we may be divided by our specific opinions and responses. We are united, however, in our common love for and interest in the material.

So, in no particular order..ladies and gentlemen: here we go!





A second trailer was revealed for this hotly anticipated 2016 release. It’s visually stunning. This truly IS a comic book brought to life whilst avoiding any hint of ‘camp’ in its stylings. There’s clearly a dense story here and equal attention given to both Batman and Superman in parallel storylines. All the heroes really look the part, including Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot): it’s like panels of pop art personified.

Beautiful to look at. There’s a great sense of scope and variety of locations, clearly. The dialogue is clear and crisp and advances the story with what seems to be a simply linear logic. It’s just such a joy to see these characters finally inhabiting the same universe. Not before time!

Drawbacks? It’s been just four years since Chris Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy closed. This could and arguably should still be the Bale Batman, especially given Nolan’s role as one of the nominal architects of the Man of Steel movie that launched this new DC movie universe.

Ben Affleck looks great and yet one wonders what he can offer that’s new? Remember the man is a GREAT Director (and will soon helm his own Batman movie; also announced) but it’s been a while since anyone regarded him as a movie star in the sense of that magical charisma. He was good in Gone Girl; but that’s a film in which he plays a petulant pup. Batman /Bruce Wayne require charm, even when they are broody /miserable. It’s equally difficult to ‘buy’ Jeremy Irons playing it all nice and paternal as Alfred the Butler. Irons would have been a better Lex Luthor.


It’s also clearly a rushed response to DC/Warners’ previous lack of a shared universe on film and the references to the consequences of the destruction in Man of Steel feels forced and a bit ‘meta’. Like some in joke reference to real life fan debates, worked in as plot device. A Senate hearing is NOT the same as a plot premise. WHEN will comic book movies ‘get’ that? And it’s excessively dark. Remember that this is a SUPERMAN film, too! So SOME hint of light and optimism would be nice.

That said: GREAT trailer. Epic fun. Watchable as an event in itself and certainly excites one for the final product next year. BRING IT ON!




This was an awkward one in so far as a trailer was shown specifically for the fans at the convention alone. Inevitably, the footage was leaked online from phone videos and the like. The problem was that people were ‘seeing’ the clips online but without a real sense of the film’s visual quality. There was therefore a risk that the brand could be damaged prematurely. Warners had to act and they have quite sensibly released a trailer.

The premise is certainly interesting. You take a gang of villains and you send them on a mission for the Government, with plausible deniability should they fail. It’s like the Dirty Dozen in the comic book universe.

We get to see Will Smith in action as Deadshot and Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn. There’s some good action here and a real sense of scope and depth of field in the shots. It feels 3-d, even without the glasses! Something about the lighting and sound etc: you FEEL these scenes.

Jared Leto is unveiled as the Joker as the trailer concludes. It’s a good voice and look and it feels like hearing and seeing the comic book Joker brought to life. I suspect the fans will accept this incarnation. Of course, the late, great Heath Ledger is a tough act to follow but this is a separate continuity, so it’s not as though Leto is actually ‘replacing’ his predecessor in the role.

Drawbacks? Yet again, this is DARK. And that’d be fine, except it’s still unclear precisely which demographic this will appeal to. It’s naturally not a ‘family’ film, but it goes without saying that kids WILL be drawn to this. It’ll be marketed as a ‘summer blockbuster’ no doubt?

I have some reservations about that and especially the overt sadism of the Joker. I’m not saying he needs to be stealing mud-pies on a beach or something but even so: prolonged exposure to this sort of casual violence must surely need some punctuation in tone and zeitgeist eventually?

The call-out of the title is delivered obviously and awkwardly. It’s not really the best vehicle for Will Smith, either (he’d have been better served by playing the President in Independence Day 2?).  There’s also an inconsistency in the look to the piece; the odd moment looks a bit like a fan film on youtube, in contrast to the otherwise great production values.

But for its visuals + atmospherics, shared universe potential and Leto / Robbie alone..I’m curious to see this and no doubt you will be, too.







OK, so I was wrong about a trailer being released. But I was not wrong about the power of the brand’s presence. We did get the ‘big three’ (Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher) on stage and JJ Abrams, too. The sense of raw emotion, of lifelong love for this cherished series and its ongoing legacy: it was all palpable and pervasive.

Harrison Ford won a much deserved standing ovation. Fans were thrilled to have him there and especially after his plane crash earlier this year risked putting him out of action. JJ Abrams also announced that there would be a concert put on. And it was a real treat for all: once again confirming the sense of community and joy that surround Star Wars.


Although there was no trailer, there was a new featurette unveiled. It consisted of lots of behind the scenes footage but intercut with glimpses of actual footage from the Force Awakens. Biggest reveal of all was probably Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), as well as assorted creatures, monsters and vehicles in action.

There’s still much to be revealed. But it just keeps getting better and better with every revelation. This truly will be an epic hit and could even break 2 billion dollars. It looks as though they have pulled off the impossible and harnessed the look and spirit of the original trilogy, whilst offering something genuinely new and fresh and energetic. Combined with the forthcoming ANTHOLOGY movies (Rogue One and Han Solo to name but two), the force has never been stronger with STAR WARS!


han solo



Tough call here in terms of what to reveal. There WAS some footage of X Men: Apocalypse, c/o Bryan Singer and team. But that is NOT the same as a full trailer reveal. So I’d better not reveal TOO much information yet!

What I will say is that it is clearly marketed as a close to a trilogy that started with 2011’s First Class. Bit of a cheat, frankly, as 2014’s Days of Future Past (lovely and great though that was) was more about bridging together the Singer and Vaughan visions of the series than it was a self-contained episode for one particular cast / universe.

Apocalypse certainly looks like an epic story and its visuals are familiar and yet surprising all at once. There’s at least one big laugh; a nostalgic reveal and prominent presence for Michael Fassbender and Jennifer Lawrence (the real stars of the franchise in this version?). I repeat: JENNIFER LAWRENCE is in this film. Ergo it will be excellent and a massive hit. The movie arrives in 2016 so expect more on this very soon.




Ryan Reynolds and Channing Tatum also gave some interesting details about their forthcoming solo X Men spin off movies: Deadpool and Gambit, respectively. These are highly talented actors, with versatile skills. So it bodes well for the launch of both series that they have attracted such a strong calibre of leading man. Of course, Reynolds had a trial run at Deadpool before, c/o X Men Origins: Wolverine (the one everyone hates and yet you can watch it it’s really not that bad in a disposable 1970s revenge thriller kind of way).

Speaking of which..OLD MAN LOGAN. THAT’S the pitch for Hugh Jackman’s final turn as Wolverine, as he gets a third solo outing as one of the coolest X Men. It’s all in the attitude: those claws and that big hair!

Actually, no. It isn’t. Whilst Wolverine was always cool among comic book fans, it was Jackman that gave him life and charm onscreen. But for that performance, we’d probably not be getting any of these X Men spin offs?

So it’s sad that Jackman has decided to wind down his involvement and somewhat prematurely. Sure, he’s played the part on and off for 16 years. But there have been BIG gaps in that and it was largely a supporting role too, within an ensemble.

At the same time, HOW does ANY actor SHED that role, having adopted it for so long and fostered / nurtured the inseparable association? Frankly, he could have got another decade at least out of the part, easily. And OLD MAN LOGAN (adapting the comic series directly?) arguably tells a similar story to 2013’s THE WOLVERINE but simply ages the character up. No doubt they’ll tweak the premise.




In any event, Jackman is charming, talented and works hard. He also engages with the fans and respects the mythology of the comic book hero he has played so well for so long. So we wish him well with the project. Who knows? If it’s a REALLY big hit, he MIGHT even have a change of heart and be persuaded to return to the role once more?







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