Here we are in Year Ten of the Marvel Cinematic Era, and not one piece of music has emerged from any of the two dozen films based on Marvel characters (released by Marvel Studios and others) that can rival John Williams’ mighty score for Superman: The Movie or even Danny Elfman’s brooding Batman theme.
For years I’ve wondered why this is. But only two days ago did I at last get to ask someone who might know. On today’s All Things Considered, I speak with Rupert Gregson-Williams, who composed the score for director Patty Jenkins’ fine Wonder Woman. You might even hear a cameo by one of the most venerable heroes of the National Public Radio universe, the great Bob Mondello.
Posted in movies, radio, super-heroes, Uncategorized
Tagged All Things Considered, Andrew Limbong, Batman, Bob Mondello, Chris Pine, Danny Elfman, Gal Gadot, John Williams, Joss Whedon, movies, Nina Gregory, NPR, soundtracks, Superman
I was happy as always to join Linda Holmes, Stephen Thompson, and my Pal-for-Life Glen Weldon on this week’s Pop Culture Happy Hour, wherein we perform an autopsy on the rotten corpse of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Based on my defense of Man of Steel on this show three years ago I was, I think, expected to stick up for BvS. I could not.
Since none of us liked this film — in fact we all disliked it so much that the controversial issue of Henry Cavill’s height never even came up — we decided to broaden the topic to try to pin down the elements that make a would-be action blockbuster work or not work. I forgot to say so on the show, but I wrote about this for Linda two summers ago after helping the staff of The Dissolve, may it rest in peace, to determine the 50 Greatest Summer Blockbusters. Continue reading
It was a true pleasure to be on Filmspotting again, this time in a World’s Finest-style team-up with my Pal-for-Life Glen Weldon. Glen is “unauthor” (his joke, people) of Superman: The Unauthorized Biography and author the just-published, even-better The Caped Crusade: Batman and the Rise of Nerd Culture. Host Adam Kempenaar invited the two of us to join him for this episode’s Top Five segment, Superman/Batman Movie Moments. Adam and Chicago Tribune film critic Michael Phillips reviewed Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice in the show’s first segment. They didn’t like it any more than I did.
There’s always at least one thing in my notes that I forget to say when I’m on a podcast/radio show, and this time it was a big one: In my No. 1 Superman/Batman scene, the Lois Lane/Superman patio interview from Superman ’78, the big guy actually volunteers to the Daily Planet reporter that he can’t see through lead. Hey world! I know I seem invulnerable, but I do have a few exploitable weaknesses which I shall now reveal!
There’s lots of stuff I didn’t have room for in my NPR review of this enervating zeppelin-crash of a superhero flick, but first things first: Gotham City and Metropolis are just across the bay from one another? So close that a person who doesn’t have Super-eyesight can see the Bat-signal lighting up the sky over Gotham… from Metropolis? Continue reading
“Most men know less about their own bodies than they do about their automobiles.”
John Ford, who made Stagecoach and The Searchers and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance and who won the Academy Award for Best Director four times – not for any of the first-rate pictures I’ve just named – also made a sex-ed film for G.I.s in 1942, the same year he collected his third Best Director Oscar for How Green Was My Valley.
Okay, maybe that’s only funny to me. Anyway, if you think it’s worth 26 minutes of your life to learn how not to catch syphilis from – in the charming patois of Sex Hygiene – “a contaminated woman,” you can watch this not-so-casually misogynistic but highly informative short. Even if you’re already fully briefed on how to protect yourself from the predatory vaginas of dirty, dirty whores, this film has at least two other things to recommend it.
1) It features the greatest reaction shots ever captured on film.
2) Eisenhower-era TV Superman George Reeves and Robert Lowery, who played Batman in the 1949 serial Batman and Robin, appear together briefly in an early scene. So if you want a preview of what next year’s Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice will be like, well… it will probably be like this, at least in hair-gel terms.
“I think it made its point and helped a lot of young kids,” Ford told Peter Bogdanovich, reflecting on Sex Hygiene years later. “I looked at it and threw up.”
To wrap up The Dissolve‘s Movie of the Week examination of Joe Dante’s Gremlins, Keith Phipps asked me to write a reflection on the PG-13, the lukewarm rating introduced in the summer of 1984 in response to the outcry that greeted the PG-rated Gremlins’ violence and darkness, as well as that of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, released two weeks earlier. I was honored to oblige. Continue reading
“…but brother, there are days when I wish I was Plastic Man or the Flash or one of those happy-go-lucky bozos.”
I wrote about Gwydion Suilebhan
‘s new superhero play REALS
this week, taking his provocation that “Superhero films are bad for you” as a jumping off point for talking about, well, superhero films.
Not quite 10 years ago, I spent the better part of a year trying to write one. It was called Hero Complex, and it was about a guy who becomes convinced he’s the illegitimate son of The Gryphon, the mightiest hero around. I was aiming for a bittersweet comedy with touches of doomed romance and magical realism. I pitched it to my professor and fellow students in my screenwriting program as “a Wes Anderson superhero movie.”
I wrote two full drafts and many more first acts. I had a version where my hero was in his early 20s and unattached, and a version where he was 40 and married with kids. Neither was very good, but there was a scene here, a line there, that I thought might be worth saving.
Then The Incredibles came out. That’s not a film that bears much resemblance to my description of the one I was trying to sweat into existence, but at the time it felt close enough to make me throw up my hands. I loved The Incredibles. I felt certain my screenplay would never get to be that good, no matter how many night and weekends I sacrificed to it on the altar of my crumb-covered, coffee-stained keyboard. Continue reading