Author Archives: Dylan M

Thor Ups the Game… AGAIN!!

Went to see Thor: Ragnarok last week. Man was that fun. There’s something going on with the superhero genre, if that’s actually a “thing.”  The last Thor movie, The Dark World, was a little bit derivative. It gets a bad rap, but not because it’s a bad movie. Just that there’s a formula and we had seen it a few times already. Since then, Marvel and Fox in particular, have been experimenting with the style of the films. Captain America: The Winter Soldier was a spy thriller.  X-Men First Class was a period piece, Deadpool and Logan were both envelope pushers. They’re making movies in certain genres that are populated with comic book characters. This is why I wonder is “comic book” is a genre at all.

AC944C7C-4435-4733-BC89-9B47366AD1D8

Either way, Thor: Ragnarok was something new and different; wildly different from the previous installments in the Thor series. Obviously, the comedy was paramount, tossed in with a pinch of Guardians of the Galaxy. The result is one of the most refreshing, fun and exciting Marvel entries yet.

How can they keep redefining themselves with every single movie?!? I was talking to a friend after we saw Thor and we both agreed this was one of their best movies. Not only that, but Marvel movies seem to get better and better with each new release. When is the last time there’s been a bad Marvel movie? Could have been Ant-Man. I mean… Ant-Man. That movie had no business being as good as it was. Dr. Strange? Nope. Despite being a bit of a throwback to Phase 1 origin stories, the visual elements and the introduction of magic were enough to separate it from the pack. Age of Ultron may have been the last time a Marvel movie wasn’t refreshing and new. It was just after that when the new releases seemed to each have an angle; something to rest on that made them different. And Ultron wasn’t even a bad movie!! Like Thor: The Dark World, the only real issue with it was it felt a little like walking down a well-tread path.

Can you remember a time – a very recent time – when each movie had one special person with abilities? That’s the old way. Now, after Avengers, there’s some legit question as to why nobody else would show up if there were a world-altering event. Iron Man 3 exposed that flaw. Dr. Strange was able to avoid that pitfall because nobody else in the MCU was a magic user. But now? I can’t even really see Dr. Strange 2 happening without at least Scarlett Witch showing up.

None of this is what I’m thinking about though. I’m concerned. The reason is because Justice League is right around the corner.
This is a movie I’ve been waiting my entire life to see. Was it fun seeing Avengers? Yes. Has it been great seeing C and D-list characters thrive? Sure.
But now, we have lesser characters like Ant-Man, Dr. Strange and yes, even Thor, all enjoying a cultural moment while Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash and Superman are loaded into the back seat of the comic book movie car.
If it were 2011 or 2012, a straight up world threat leading to a team up of superheroes would be novel. And that’s what we got in 2012. But it’s been several years and as discussed, the dynamic has evolved.
It’s no longer enough to have a couple characters in the same movie. My larger worry is that DC seems to have abandoned the thing that separated them: the tone, the color palette, and the deconstruction of what it means to be a hero in today’s world. I really have enjoyed that aspect of those movies. I’m the one who really loves Man of Steel and BvS. Everyone loved Wonder Woman. But that had a “thing”: the 1st female-led superhero movie.
All I’m saying is I’m really hopeful Justice League is good. Not just good, GREAT. Based on trailers and clips, it looks good. However, instead of continuing down their own path, they’ve clearly diverged from the serious tone and integrated some light-hearted banter. I love the Marvel movies, but that’s not what I want to see when I watch Justice League.
It’s a bummer that MoS and BvS were so divisive. I still don’t quite know why. I’ve written about it endlessly in past posts. Mostly it seems like people have an expectation of who these heroes are and if they’re anything but that narrow vision in the movie, people complain. Which is unfortunate.
Hopefully I’m wrong and Steppenwolf’s CGI looks better on the big screen. Hopefully there are still stakes and consequences. Hopefully DC can be what it should be: the world’s best, most famous superheroes saving the world. And not just an Avengers knock off. Hopefully Thor: Ragnarok isn’t the best superhero movie in theaters this holiday season. At this point, that’s a tall order. We’ll know more in a week!!

 

 

 

What I Do is Not Up to You.

That was a line from the Wonder Woman trailer. And it resonated with me then and again in the movie as I watched last night. Watching videos and reading reviews, you’ll hear a lot about how great Wonder Woman was, how well crafted the characters were (except maybe the bad guys) and especially how nuanced and plain wonderful the relationship was between the two leads, Gal Godot and Chris Pine. I took all that away with me too, and more than that, an optimistic sense of what we are capable of.

IMG_3970

So much in our modern world is confusing, contradictory and hard to navigate. What is the right thing to do? Lately expecially, I feel like I’ve fallen into general dissent of my country’s leadership and direction. Instead of being optimistic and taking action, I’m whining and complaining a lot.

I always really appreciate stories that illustrate that  good people are capable of bad deeds. In war, that notion is dialed way up. Not that I have experience with that, but I’ve lived through enough wars that I’ve seen soldiers become Congresspeople and leaders. And there’s always a sense of legitimacy to those who have actually sacrificed and fought for something bigger. Bottom line is to do good, there may be times when you have to do bad things.

Steve Trevor talks about this with Diana throughout Wonder Woman. He’s constantly baffled by her insistence that killing Ares will stop the war, but he allows her to push forward with that plan despite knowing in his own heart that even IF it’s true (which probably seemed kind of possible after encountering Themescara), it’s not necessarily gods that determine the evil that man is capable of.

Of course we don’t know what the next 10 decades hold for Diana, but —SPOILERS —

WW 2017 Poster

defeating Ares at the end certainly didn’t stop WW2 from happening or nuclear weapons from being developed and deployed. The lesson seems to be the same as Bruce Wayne’s lesson toward the end of Batman v Superman: Men (meaning all of humanity) destroy, betray and kill. But we can do better. We will do better.

That’s an optimistic view of the long arc of history and it’s what this movie left me thinking about. How can I be optimistic in the face of the very bad things people do to one another? The things we do to ourselves? There’s a real sense that we ARE capable of so much more. With an open mind and a little space left for the unthinkable, we can be good people working toward a better future. Especially if we’re willing to do what is necessary, vs what we’re told we’re capable of.

In the end, even as politics and leaders change and the pendulum swings socially, we can all be the heroes of our own stories, fighting to do what we need to do – what’s necessary – for ourselves and those around us that we care about. Even in the darkest of times, if our path is true, any one of us can accomplish wonders with nothing but a little belief in ourselves and the bravery to step off the beaten path to take action. Especially when we’re told it’s not possible or that we should put our head down and follow the crowd.

Go see Wonder Woman!! If not to feel optimistic about anything we can do personally, then to enjoy a kick-ass Amazon blazing her own trail. Because nobody tells Diana Prince what she should be doing. What she does is up to her.

 

HAR_DM_FIRST LOOK RND F04

The ups & (WAY) downs of Justice League

Let’s begin with the tough news. Zach Snyder has left the movie to handle some grueling family business. I’m not going into it, but suffice it to say my thoughts and prayers are with him, his wife/producing partner and their entire family. In a perfect world, nobody would have to go through what they currently are.

That’s the tough news. There is, however, a bright side. Joss Wheden – already on board for re-writes and as part of the DCEU family as writer/director of Batgirl (!!!) – is taking the baton and running with it until this movie is done. I’m never EVER going to make a crack or comment about whether this is good or bad for the franchise because of WHY this is happening. I’ve heard it. Really unworthy people on social media have taken care of that already. (Empathy people. C’mon)

If you haven’t read my Batman v Superman posts, then I’ll tell you now that Batman is my favorite comic character, and though I get why BvS was divisive, especially for those who don’t have a grasp of comic book backstory, I really enjoyed it. Perfect film? No. At least one glaring casting misstep? Yes. Amy Adams is so beautiful I’ll watch her draw stick figures for 2 hours and be entertained? Is that a question? No – It’s a stone cold FACT.

The problem was and is that JL went into production like a week after BvS opened to just TERRIBLE reviews. I’m thinking the studio didn’t expect that kind of response, or they would have gone a different direction. The reality is the style in which BvS was shot is rich and has a lot of depth and is basically really fun to look at. That’s what Snyder brings more than anything – legendary visuals. However, the theatrical release of BvS had 30 minutes removed to make more money, since theaters could have more showings. That was a big mistake. I’ve covered this already, but the reported screening for suits that received a standing ovation can only have been BEFORE the final edit. Because the Extended Edition was a vastly superior movie.

In All Their Glory

In All Their Glory

So, the BvS reception was mixed to poor and Justice League had already begun and people started choosing sides. And Snyder took the brundt of the fans’ ire. I felt for him then, and especially so now. Still, I really loved the film. A lot.

I know because of his track record, JL will look great. I’ve heard the studio – maybe because of the response to the superior Extended edit – was on board for a 3 hour JL run time. I hope that’s still true because even though there will have been 4 movies (Man of Steel, BvS, Suicide Squad and Wonder Woman) leading to it, there is a whole lot of story to tell. Invasion. Superman’s return. Steppenwolf. Darkseid(??). Oh, and assemble a team. All that in 2 hours? God I hope not.

After Avengers and it’s sequel, we know Joss Whedon can do great things with these stories in this medium. He’s been a comic book writer, a tv writer/director and of course a film writer/director. PLUS, he’s been through this already!! So I’ll have absolute faith that anything he adds will be great. Combined with Zach Snyder’s efforts, I have renewed hope for Justice League.

It was only a month or 2 ago that the DCEU seemed to be imploding. Batman and Flash script rewrites, Affleck seeming to have one foot out the door, directors dropping out left and right, and word that Wonder Woman and JL were in bad shape. Now, just a short time later, Wonder Woman reviews are saying GREAT things, Whedon is on board for Batgirl and is taking the reigns to complete JL, images of Aquaman have surfaced and look amazing… As ever,  the pendulum is swinging. This time in a fantastic direction. I’m really glad WB has stuck to its guns and let things play out a little. Because Justice could be on the horizon!!

 

Let’s talk about playing FAVORITES: DC v Marvel

I’m a DC. Unapologetically. I also have many MANY Marvel comics. Wolverine, Daredevil & The Punisher were particular favorites when I was a kid. I used to sketch them in the margins of my school notes. When each of their movies came out in the early 00s, it was a thing where I was excited but unsure if I was enjoying the actual movies, or if it was just that I was seeing the characters on the big screen. (Until the recent Netflix Daredevil season 2, Dolph Lungren reigned as my favorite Punisher)

There are all sorts of versions of Batman

There are all sorts of versions of Batman

Batman, however, has always been my benchmark. When a new hero is introduced – either in movies or television – whether I enjoy it depends on one question: Is the character anywhere near as awesome at Batman?

What I’m getting at is simple. I will NEVER EVER EVER admit that Batman v Superman wasn’t a GREAT and highly ambitious movie. I started thinking about this again earlier in the week when I was scrounging around YouTube for some kind of new content about BvS. “But it’s been over a year!”, you might say. And yes, that’s true. March 24, 2017 was the 1 year anniversary. So I was looking for a “year later” revisiting of the film. Nothing. There wasn’t anything. I decided to watch hours of other people rambling on 8 month old videos about why it was a good movie. Mostly, proponents of the thing seem to say it went over peoples’ heads; that it was too smart for the average moviegoer. That’s a bunch of crap. Seriously.

I would instead argue about its ambitiousness. In other posts about BvS, I’ve talked myself through what I love about it: Incredible Batman/Bruce Wayne portrayal, powerful themes, paralleles with the real world, social context of these (very old) heros in the modern and cynical world. Some big changes were made. Namely, Superman isn’t the hopeful guy he has been and Batman similarly acts very out of character by killing.

It may be that these were bad choices; that we SHOULD have gotten the usual origin stories building to a team-up. Here’s the thing: Marvel already did that. If people weren’t loving how DC went about introducing their Cinematic Universe, would they really have been satisfied with a retread of the same old thing? That would have been safer, for certain. But we JUST saw the whole Batman story in the Dark Knight Trilogy and it was time for something different.

After 25 years of the same old thing in Batman movies, I was impressed with the choice to make Bruce older, more weary and without hope. This way, establishing him as the character we all know required some kind of arc. And know who traditionally brings hope? That’s right… SUPERMAN!!

Man of Steel

I’ll be the first person in line to discuss the “Martha” scene as clunky at best. But, as many people have discussed in those videos on YouTube, it really wasn’t that their mothers share the same name. It was that Batman realized he had become the murderer in the alley that he swore to protect people from. THAT’S what happened in the “Martha” moment. He realized that about himself, in addition to realizing Superman wasn’t the alien threat he feared. Yes, he can still grow to become the Injustice Superman from the Knightmare scene. But heros don’t kill people because of what they *might* do in the future. Rather, they inspire others to become the best possible versions of themselves.

Im not sure where I’m going. I’ve just been thinking about this stuff and realizing about myself that I’m awfully biased about BvS. I LOVE it. More than any of the Marvel movies. Because it’s better? Not really. Because it’s my favorite comic character (Batman, done really well and in a new way) being dropped headfirst into a new Cinematic Universe and having a real (and again, NEW) arc that shows how far he had fallen and what has to happen for him to rise again; to be hopeful and continue the grueling battle against those who would use fear to prey on everyday people.

Im as excited as anyone for Avengers 3, Thor 3 and Guardians 2. I see Guardians next Thursday night and if it’s good, you can bet I’ll write something. None of the Marvel movies have inspired me though. Not like BvS did and continues to do.

Thanks for reading. Check back for updates and thoughts. I can be found on YouTube at BatMadd and on Twitter @DylanMadd

 

 

 

 

Suicide Squad is DOPE!!

download

—SPOILERS AHEAD—

I’ve said this before and I’m repeating it now: Any time Batman is in a movie and he’s awesome, I’m happy.
Most – not all, but most – of his scenes show up in the trailers. And of course, we saw images of Batman riding on top of the purple Lambourghini about a year ago. There’s even more than that stuff in the movie, and its GREAT! Much more Batman than I was expecting.

The same story goes for the Joker. Heath Ledger was incredible almost a decade ago. There’s no disputing that. I’d argue Batman Begins was a better Batman movie, but The Dark Knight comes in a close second for me. They’re both so different than Batman v Superman that it’s almost not fair to compare them. And I’d argue that 5 minute scene in BvS where Batman saves Martha Kent is the best 5 minutes of action in ANY Batman film ever. …That’s all a different topic though. Joker was far and away the best part of The Dark Knight and it’s not even close. Did Jared Leto’s Joker do for Suicide Squad what Ledger’s did for TDK? No. He wasn’t in enough of the movie – nor was he central enough to the plot – to make that much difference. Still, it was pretty awesome seeing Joker on the big screen again. There are stories surrounding Leto’s method during filming that make for almost as much entertainment as his scenes in the actual movie. It showed. He was scary, but in a very different way than any other Joker-in-film we’ve been given before. He was mostly there chasing after “His Harley” while the Squad was on their mission. Though the sample size was small – maybe 5 scenes – I can’t wait to see more.

Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn. I think this is what will knock the movie out of the park for most fans. How do you turn a cartoon character into a real person audiences will believe in?
Like THIS:

images (1)

 

And THIS:
harley-quinn-suicide-squadI’m not even going to touch the psychology of WHY she’s so attractive, but trust me… you have to be dead inside to not appreciate her. Moreover, she wasn’t just some one-dimensional nutcase who does whatever the Joker says. I’m sure there are plenty of people who won’t love some of the suggested mysogeny inherent in HOW Dr. Harleen Quinzel became Harley Quinn. What the movie did to update the character was to make her at least AS CRAZY as the Joker, even showing us that she CHOSE to throw herself into the chemicals that turned the Joker years before. Like the Joker character, I’m in. I want MORE!!

Will Smith/Deadshot. I’m a Will Smith fan. When has he ever been bad? I mean, EVER?!? Even if the movies he’s in aren’t great, he’s great in them. No different here. Besides Harley, and maybe Amanda Waller, this is the character that gets the most play out of the movie. Probably because Smith’s a huge movie star, and also maybe because he’s really good, his character is onscreen a lot and get’s some good back story about how he came to be in prison. It’s my 2nd favorite part of the movie (The BEST being when Batman chased & rescued Harley from drowning)

So, ok. The movie DOES have some problems. The plot was weird. And Good Lord, the bad guy was TERRIBLE. That’s really nothing new for a comicbook movie. What’s weird is there are TONS of great villans. This is a WHOLE MOVIE starring JUST villans. And not only did they choose Enchatress to be the baddy, but the actress… um… This is hard. I mean, can I sit here in my apartment and blame the actress? Pretty much every scene she was in had her in full ‘special effects’ mode. And it’s certainly not her fault how she was written or what scenes the editors wound up using. But man, she was terrible. I’d say if you’re going to make a movie that isn’t quite finished being written when you start filming, and you’re not entirely sure how you want the story to go from A to B to C, maybe you really need a great, experienced actress who can pump out a believable performance without much guidance. Here, it seemed this poor girl was thrown out there and told to “be seductive” or something, which for a 20 year old, may not be enough. And they built up the effects around her, again, not quite knowing what they would be when they filmed her. That’s me imagining what could have happened there. All that said, there was one specific moment when she said to Col. Flagg, “Help Me” that I genuinely believed her. It was when he found her in the scene in this picture:

images (5)

She was great in that moment so she’s definitely capable. Seems she was thrown into the storm and I just don’t think she has the experience to handle that on her own.

images (2)

The thing is, THEY HAD THE JOKER!!! I mean, why not just make him the villan? Or ar least make him more central. I say that because 1) there already wasn’t enough of him in the movie, and 2) I’m pretty unimpressed with what we got. First of all, we were shown in The Enchantress’ introduction just how powerful she is, but then a couple people without powers took her down in a knife fight. Second, isn’t there anything else besides ‘take over the world’ or ‘faceless henchmen’ that villans can be doing? ANYTHING??

In the end, I really liked Suicide Squad. I saw it twice during opening weekend and I’m sure I’ll see it again before it leaves theaters. It’s always strange, isn’t it, when scenes and lines from the trailers aren’t in the movie? That plus talk about reshoots and competing edits of the movie make me think we’ll be getting a BvS-type DVD release with either a whole OTHER cut of the film, or MASSIVE amounts of deleted scenes. So I’m looking forward to that. And more than the DVD, I CONTINUE to be very VERY excited for what’s next in the DCEU.

GO SEE THIS MOVIE!!
4 out of 5 Stars. Rated PG-13 (unfortunately) for gun violence and (i guess?) disturbing psychological sexiness.

BvS: Ultimate Edition is FINALLY HERE!!

Ok. Alright. So now it’s all making sense. I’ve posted 2 articles about this movie already, both times essentially apologizing for the thing. Now I don’t have to do that anymore. Here are the biggest and best changes/enhancements given to us by the REAL version of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice:

–SPOILERS AHEAD–

images (4)

1) Lex Luthor’s grand plan.

The Lex character has been a hotbed of controversy since the trailers for BvS surfaced a couple years ago. He’s younger, he’s weirder and now he’s the Doomsday creator. That’s all still in the movie. However, the desert sequence / Superman incident in Africa is now fully realized as one of a many-pronged attack against Superman. The mercenaries, instead of shooting all the soldiers and motorcycling away, burn the bodies. And at the same time, it’s revealed the CIA has an entire mission – and 2 full teams – focused on these “terrorists,” which Lex uses to his advantage. His mercenaries kill every witness, then when the CIA shows up in the aftermath, all they know is that everything is on fire and that Superman was there. That’s it!
There’s no question as to WHY they think Superman was involved. In the theatrical release, the soldiers were shot by Lex’s mercenaries. So it was a whole weird thing where Congressional hearings were taking place… I guess because everyone thought Superman shot the soldiers and flew away. It didn’t make sense. Obviously, right? Superman has no need for a gun.
It becomes clear throughout the film that Lex has manipulated absolutely everything around this event. I believe he was responsible for getting Lois Lane her media credentials, that the CIA then piggybacked on. Why? Because Lex knew Superman would arrive to save Lois. And that’s exactly what happened.

Quick note on Jimmy Olson. I realize some people are annoyed, angry even, that Jimmy was a throwaway character added for the sake of shock value. But, didn’t they gender swap that character in Man of Steel? Isn’t the Jenny Olson character at the Daily Planet the same character? It’s what I thought when I saw Man of Steel and it’s what I continue to think now. She’s still there, evidently not an intern anymore, but rather some kind of copywriter, or editor. Perry White yells out headlines to her at least once. I’m no newspaper man, but from what I think I know, the articles are written by reporters, but the editing and headlines are done by the editors prior to publishing. I’m happy to be corrected on that belief if I’m wrong. Point is, the Jimmy Olson character still exists at the Planet as a young lady named Jenny Olson. That makes Jimmy Olson, CIA agent’s death much much more palatable to me. Not that I was that undone by it to begin with.

Back to the plan. So, the desert sequence was there to frame Superman, and the Congressional Hearings happen. Lex recruits Scoot McNairy – victim during the Zod attack and crumbling of Wayne Financial’s building – to testify. Unbeknownst to Scoot though, is that Lex built his shiny new wheelchair around a lead-lined bomb. Get that!?! LEAD-LINED. Superman couldn’t see the bomb!! So it’s no longer that Superman is Super-crappy at his job, but that everywhere he goes, Lex orchastrates death in his wake.
There’s a running theme in BvS about consequence. Doing good has side effects, the same as doing bad. And no matter how powerful you might be, you just can’t control every outcome in every direction. I discussed this in my last defense of the movie. Batman seems to know this already and has taken it upon himself to bear the consequenses of his actions. As a result, people die. And rather than let them live to kill more people in the future, Batman doesn’t focus on saving every punk who shoots a mini-gun or missile at him. Superman, on the other hand, is just now realizing that there are sometimes bad results, even from doing the right thing. It’s part of his arc.
After the bomb goes off in the Congressional Hearing, Superman also no longer flies away. He helps save some survivors before going off to the mountains to think about what “doing the right thing” really means. Especially when he has a PR war being waged against him by a guy willing to kill massive numbers of people for no other reason than to make it LOOK like death follows Superman like a shadow, it’s not always clear to the public what “good” he’s doing. In such a cynical world, can Superman stand for good? It’s a relavant question and one that I don’t know the answer to.
But wait, there’s MORE!! Lex is also setting Batman up. He knows Batman & Bruce Wayne are the same person, just as he knows Superman’s secret identity. So Lex has also been intercepting Scoot McNairy’s victim’s fund checks (from the Wayne Foundation) and is returning them to Bruce with notes about how he “Let his family die.” It happens that Bruce opens that one just as the bomb goes off in Congress. Little does Lex know that the Flash has recently time-travelled back from a possible future to warn Bruce that he’s “right about Him. Fear Him.” So really, it doesn’t matter to Bruce/Batman if Superman is doing good now, today. 20 years down the road, people can change, mostly by compromising their beliefs. He’s apparently witnessed this several times over since first dawning the cape & cowl, and for Batman, Lex’s manipulations are only a part of the big picture of what Superman stands for and the danger he could pose to humanity.
Lex then orchestrates bringing in kryptonite to Metropolis, specifically so Batman can steal it and take down Superman. It’s all part of the plan.
Meanwhile, Lex is having the Russian mercenary, KGBeast, arrange for the Bat-Branded prisoners to be killed while in jail. Again, in the theatrical release, it seems this is some kind of throw-away about how it’s a death sentence to have the brand, but we’re never really told why. In the Ultimate Edition, it’s made clear this is just another of Lex’s machinations; an effort to paint Batman as a killer with no concern for the law or what’s right. Clark sees this while he’s investigating the “Gotham Bat-thing” but has no way to know it’s anything but Batman breaking in and killing them himself. One of the deceased’s baby-mamas tells Clark straight up, “The only thing (Batman) understands is a fist.”
The plan continues, but unfortunately goes a bit off the rails by the last act. The creation of Doomsday…. This is one part of Lex’s schemes that I’m not totally clear on. And I’ve been watching this version and trying like hell to understand. So, if the set-up is ‘Batman uses kryptonite to take down Superman, and Doomsday is the back-up plan’, why cut it so close? Would he have been able to stop the monster from being born if Batman had succeeded? Was it only because Batman failed that Doomsday was completed? Further, if Lex was learning from the crashed Kryptonian ship about the larger cosmic threats out there, why eliminate the only guy on Earth that could possibly defend the planet? What was the end-game there? I’m thinking that Lex using a bit of his own blood in the genesis chamber that birthed Doomsday, maybe he thought that would protect him somehow? It sure didn’t seem like it, since the very first thing Doomsday did was hurl a massive punch right at Luthor. Thankfully for him, Superman was there to stop it.
I guess ultimately, it worked. Superman died killing Doomsday. It’s just, how could he have known that would happen? If not for Wonder Woman and Batman, Doomsday surely would have won that fight, no?
The Lex Luthor character is much more fleshed out in the Ultimate Edition. His plan takes time to coalesce. And man, is it thorough. Lex tells Superman, “I don’t know how to lose.” And before Doomsday meets his… well.. doom, it almost works. Just what the plan was if Doomsday HAD won? That’s not clear. Nor is if Lex actually communicated with Steppenwolf or Darkseid, or was simply being taught of their existence by the Kryptonian archive. We’ll see if that comes to light in future movies.

bvscoldstonecreamery1header-172606

2) Sentor Finch is no longer a boneheaded puppet.
This is all tied to the “Superman incident” in the desert. In the theatrical cut, she is holding hearings about whether Superman should have oversight or should answer to some government entity, seemingly believing that Superman had, in fact, gone to the desert, shot everyone with a gun and flown off. When the bomb went off, it had no other apparent point than to look like Superman was involved somehow. But, in the Ultimate Edition, she’s not a blind fool. She wants a “conversation” about this stuff – having heard a testimony from one of the women from the village in Africa. Of course, that villager turned out to be just another of Luthor’s schemes. Sen. Finch learns about that and is ready to expose Lex Luthor for having set the whole affair up. More than that, she personally tells Lex she won’t be played and won’t be allowing him to import the kryptonite rock from the Indian Ocean. Her death – and the jar of pee – hold much more weight when it’s clear she isn’t some moron who can’t parse fact from fiction. The hearings themselves seem more relavant; all the disparate plot threads converge as that bomb (that Superman COULDN’T SEE) goes off and Superman looks to be somehow at fault, even though we can see that it’s all been a set up from the very start.

Before, when the desert sequence made no sense, and the hearings didn’t seem necessary, it felt like this whole bit could have been eliminated and it wouldn’t have made a bit of difference in the story of BvS. Now, not only does it seem VERY necessary, but Senator Finch losing her life – and the ability to expose Lex Luthor – make for a great first half of a complicated movie.

3) Clark Kent
images (5)
Clark gets more time to investigate Batman, thereby giving the audience some notion that he has a problem with Batman operating the way he does. It’s no longer one quick talk with Perry White about “Nobody cares about Clark Kent taking on the Batman!” Clark learns that Batman has recently become more active, he’s become more brutal, and he seems to be branding dudes then killing them once they’re imprisoned. We get a sense that wasn’t part of the theatrical release that Clark isn’t ok with Batman’s methods. Like Lex Luthor’s meticulous plan, we get fed, bit by bit, reasons why Superman will need to fight Batman during their penultimate battle instead of struggle to simply talk. That, in turn, helps reconcile the vs fight in the last act. We also see Luthor sending photo messages to Clark at the Planet, much the same way Bruce was receiving those checks; with little notes on them painting Batman as a bad guy. And finally, we get more context for the event where Clark and Bruce meet for the first time. We find out Lex had arranged for Clark Kent to be assigned to the event. It’s why I think Lex arranged for Lois lane’s media credentials at the beginning and it’s all those little things that add up. When the audience cares more about Superman, and we spend more time with the character, his sacrfice at the end means a WHOLE LOT more.

4) Lois Lane
images (3)

She still tosses the kryptonite spear down a stairwell, then inexplicably realizes she needs to get it back. But how would she know that? This is nit-picky, but it doesn’t make sense being that she doesn’t know exactly what the monster is that the Trinity are fighting. One could argue that because of the activity at the crashed Kryptonian ship, she ASSUMES it’s kryptonian. That’s about the best possible explaination I can produce. I was watching a group’s video (Superhero News on youTube) just after the Ultimate release and they posited that much of the movie seemed reverse-engineered. Like this: We know we want Doomsday. What if Lex creates him? We need to get the kryptonite spear back into the fight after Batman & Superman make up. What if Lois gets it? And that sounds pretty plausible – Make Lois continue to matter at this point in the story. Whether that’s completely successful or not, much the same way we care more about Clark Kent, when we see Lois’ dogged determination to uncover Luthor’s grand plan, I would argue she becomes much more relavant to the story, as she is one of the very few who really understand that Superman is a good person trying to do good things. We need that for 2 reasons: 1) So we can find out how deep the Luthor rabbit hole goes and 2) because the notion that Lois is Superman’s #1 connection to humanity and love really shines. Again, making his ultimate sacrafice at the end that much more powerful.

4) Zack Snyder.
Boy was this guy raked over the coles after the release of the theatrical BvS. There wasn’t a whole lot of real news around the movie before release. Mostly specuation. But one thing we heard was there was a screening at WB for execs that received a standing ovation. That was about 6 months before release, and got many of us fans very excited. Then came whispers a few weeks before release that there was concern. Nobody knew what was true and what was pure speculation. The studio & everyone involved were all utterly silent. And of course the film was met with just HORRIBLE reviews and reaction almost across the board. I personally don’t know a soul who liked it the way I did. And it all came down to one thing: Zack Snyder is all style, no substance. He needs to be FIRED!! He RUINED Superman already and now, Batman is ruined!! Get him AWAY from our favorite characters before Justice League becomes the new Sucker Punch!!
images (6)
Well, now we can say with some authority that those execs must have seen the Ultimate Edition during that mysterious screening. Because this movie was GREAT.

I’ve been a person who believes in thinking positively and hoping for the best in people, even when the odds are stacked against them. I happen to really like the visual style in Snyder movies and think they work wonderfully for this type of heightened reality where costumed heroes roam among us. The CGI is generally seamless (Doomsday notwithstanding) and the Ultimate Edition is a meticuously crafted story that really needed the extra context provided by the restored 30 minutes.

This isn’t a perfecct movie. I’m not sure combining the Death of Superman with The Dark Knight Returns makes sense. And based on some of the reactions I’ve seen and discussed with people, it may have been wise to release a couple solo movies – MoS 2 & Batman – before BvS. That’s not the way it is though. The makers of BvS put together a very comic-centric story and blended it with some real-world-like events and in a way, it just seems like audiences weren’t quite ready to be thrown in head-first into the deep end of a brand new cinematic universe. I LOVE it. But really, the truth is much of BvS didn’t make sense to a large portion of the viewers. Do we need to have it explained WHY Batman is so brutal? Do we need to have Superman exist in such a cynical world? I say YES. Give me MORE!

images

If you saw BvS and it didn’t make sense, give it one more shot with a fresh, open mind. If you skipped it because you heard it kind of sucked, watch the Ultimate Edition. It’s definitely not your parents’ Superman or Batman. But boy is it gutsy.

Get your Bat-belts fastened and turbines to speed because this DC Extended Universe is suddenly looking great! By the end of 2017, we’ll have Wonder Woman and the Justice League movie in all their glory. Im psyched!

 

Dylan can be found online @DylanMadd and at MaddKingdom on YouTube.

More Time Passed… More Comic Movies

So Captain America: Civil War and X-Men: Apocalypse are out. Summer is upon us. May Grey is gone. The heat is on. And I’ve had a lot of time to think.

Despite #AllTheHate I’ve endured in the aftermath of Batman v Superman, the main thing I keep coming back to is this: I wil never EVER admit BvS was a bad movie. Won’t happen. If you read my immediate reaction to the film, you may think I didn’t like it. I was slightly undone by the wide separation of what I wanted vs what we got. And you can read that whole entry if you want me to expand on that. But having seen the supposed “superior” movie in Cap 3, I have to say all it did was make me think on BvS more.

Was Cap 3 good? Sure. It fit the characters together well, had a coherent and interesting story and did what every Marvel movie does, which is entertain us with an outsized ad for the next movie. The one glaring thing Cap 3 clearly did much better than BvS was show us (not tell but SHOW) the different perspectives Cap and Iron Man had and why that led to a battle between them. That’s big, and it was the single largest issue I had with BvS.

I have some thoughts about Civil War and how Iron Man and his constant fuck ups are the driving force for everything that has gone wrong in that world. Man does Stark screw up a lot; in gigantic ways. But that’s another post.

What I want to solidify here and now is why I LOVE BvS and why I’ll defend it until the end of the line (to borrow from Steve Rogers).

images
#1) Batman kills. This is a biggie and I’ve heard and read a lot of criticism about it. Here’s the deal: BvS drops us into the middle of the story. It’s not an 8 year build up where we all understand that Bruce Wayne created the ultimate weapon, made everyone believe nobody else could possibly replicate it, got that wrong, then built sentient androids that could kill us all, then blamed the only people on Earth that could stop his creation. No, this was something else. Batman had already been doing his thing for 20 years. He had lost most, if not all of his allies, including a young partner. This is an old argument in Batman comics. If he lets the Joker live, then the Joker goes and kills a bunch of people, who is responsible? What if it happens over and over? Then, what happens when its not a bunch of random citizens, but Batman’s own teenage partner? Isn’t it possible that Bruce would feel responsible for Robin’s death? Isn’t it possible, likely even, that Bruce (or anybody) would stop letting others help him and start making more dramatic choices? We have to remember that this isn’t a cartoon where the status quo returns to neutral at the end of every story. They’re building a world where there are consequenses to every action. For God’s sake, before Man of Steel, we would never have seen so much destruction and death resulting from a Superman fight. Of course he would draw the bad guy away from the city. Of course he would find a way to save everyone from everything. But that’s the point exactly – that one man can’t do it all and there are consequenses. So when Batman, a guy who has lost every friend and watched good people compromise, goes on a mission, he’s not taking chances. If dudes are actively trying to kill him, sure he’ll try not to kill them back. But sometimes, he can’t do it all!! He’s just a man. I’d say that applies to Superman too. In saving the entire world, a few thousand people died. Sorry. What should he have done instead? Let Zod live and allow him to continue terrorizing Earth? He made a choice and Zod died. Just like Batman has to choose every time he goes out there. And sometimes people die. Happens in real life every day.

#2) Martha. This is another sticky point for a lot of people. I have to believe even the harshest critics understand the fight didn’t end just because their Mothers were both named Martha. I mean, right? What I gleaned from that moment was Batman didn’t understand Superman actually IS a child of Earth. He HAS a mother and people who love him. There are people he loves. Moreover, in his very last moments, with his very last breath, Superman was still trying to save someone else. That’s pretty damn heroic if you ask me.  Was it strange that he didn’t say something like, “Lex Luthor captured my mother”? YES!! I get that and I agree. It was awkward and man, that’s part of the frustration I feel and why I’m even still thinking about BvS. Again, I WANTED certain things and I WANTED them to be perfect. As I’ve said before, that’s pretty unrealistic.

#3) Dream Sequenses. Ok. This one is rough. This is where I go into self-protective mode. See, I really liked the future sequence. Is it how this timeline plays out? Is it an alternate possible future? I DON’T KNOW!! And the friend that went with me on opening night certainly had no freaking clue what was happening. The Flash showing up in weird future armor AFTER the “dream” sure didn’t clarify anything. This is where the movie becomes not just more enjoyable for people who are aware of comic storylines, but may actually REQUIRE some loose knowledge of some storylines and events. I happen to have that. My friend did not. As a result, I was able to think, “Oh so Flash has come back in time from a horrible future where Superman has become a dictator to warn Bruce how to avoid such a series of events.” Was Bruce actually seeing that future or was he busy dreaming about his parents death? Not sure. It’s really not clear. So if you have no context, I can understand not getting it. I have some questions myself. This is what they are now able to play with in future movies. And I’m excited to see where it goes!

#4) Lex Luthor. Of all the defense I’m putting up here, this may be the hardest. I really didn’t like the character. He was annoying. Steve Sanders was also my least favorite 90210 character. Their look seems similar to me. There’s that. But ok. It’s done and this is our new Lex. Fine. I’ll accept it. And hope is a thing I continue to have. Clearly the guy had some power issues and maybe even some mild mental problems (beyond, you know, being homicidal). From what I understand, that high-level businessman version of Lex from 1978-2006 was a construct for the movies. That bled to the comics, and now that’s an entire generation’s definitive Lex Luthor. Things change. It’s a good thing. Maybe this wasn’t MY favorite interpretation, but I’ve heard quite a few “He was the only good character in the movie” arguments. Someone out there likes this version. Fans don’t seem to, but know who does? Lots of the gereral movie-going public that are like my friend and don’t have the comicbook foundation seem to be the ones that appreciated him the most. Say what you will about Eisenberg’s performance, the reality is he is a popular and talented actor. Millenials in particular seem to relate to him. Maybe because of The Social Network. Maybe because he’s different than most leading men out there. Maybe all the Michael Sara fans out there need their fix. Who knows? I am holding off my final judgement until I see the Ultimate Edition, where hopefully we will see that when Lex learns about the big cosmic threats out there, he goes off the deep end. Why that means he would want to kill the only guy who could possibly combat enemies so powerful remains unclear.  Seems like – if only to protect Earth so he can kill Superman another day – he would want to make a deal… Just this once? We’ll have to wait and see. In the end, Jesse Eisenberg is clearly a very talented actor. And though I’m one of the people that didn’t love this character, it’s not his fault. He did his thing and I respect that.

#5) Amy Adams. She can be in every movie as far as I’m concerned. Got a problem with her in this movie? Was it the bathtub scene? Because that was like, one of my favorite parts. I don’t mean to objectify … one of the hottest women on the planet. Or do I? Either way, as long as she’s on screen, I’m watching and not complaining. images (3)

That’s as good a place to stop as any. You’ll notice I didn’t touch Doomsday. Maybe another time becaue this could go on forever. I’m likely to make a video about this too. If you want to look for that, check out my YouTube channel, MaddKingdom. You can also find me on Twitter @DylanMadd if you want to message me about any of this. Thanks for reading.

Batman v Superman. Promises v Reality.

Promises. We make them every day. When we tell someone we’ll do something, when we tell ourselves we’ll do something, when others tell us they’ll do something; in each instance, we are saying we will be responsible for making something happen. It can be a small thing like “I’ll make you a cup of coffee” or something large like, “I’ll take care of you.” No matter what, when we say we’ll do something, most of us try to actually do it. Does it always happen? No. Should we always expect it to happen? No. But there are different kinds of promises. Some are important, others less so. When a doctor says they will try to help us, that’s important. When a writer or director says they are going to give us a movie we have all been waiting to see, that is a kind of promise, but it may not ultimately be a very big deal when it doesn’t come to pass.

bvsquad1First of all, there is creative license to consider. If I were given the gift of a huge budget and studio backing to bring some of my favorite comic books to life, I’m positive my vision would not please everyone. And most comic book movies are in that boat. Fans want perfection and there are just too many potential stories to please everyone. So the way to go is to make something original, commit to it and do it well. We know this is possible not only because commercial art has pleased people throughout history. But also because great comic movies have been made and released before, mostly very recently.
In fact, Daredevil has been adapted to film and more recently (and spectacularly) to TV. I bring that example up because it came out about a week before Batman v Superman and dealt with many of the issues I ASSUMED would be dealt with in BvS. Assumptions are fodder for disappointment and probably should be avoided, but I’ll come back to that. Daredevil Season 2 on Netflix featured The Punisher and the title character, Daredevil, on a collision course becuse they viewed their roles in fighting crime very differently. For one, Daredevil has superhuman ability because of a childhood accident involving toxic chemicals. He can tell if people are lying, he can see in the dark, and he has had very special training to hone his abilities, including training as a Ninja (among many other fighting styles he’s mastered). In his other life, however, Daredevil is a blind lawyer named Matt Murdock who uses the legal system to fight the same battles by day he wages at night. Ultimately he believes in the law and that belief extends into his quest as a masked “hero.”
The Punisher is a regular man who has lived through some radical punishment himself. A war hero, he witnessed his family gunned down in front of him before taking a bullet to the head, apparently on his first full day back from war. Of course, he miraculously lived and now has a vendetta against those who took his family that will be applied to anyone and everyone he deems worthy of punishment. More than that, he will not only choose who deserves punishment, but he will be the one to give it to them.
That set up clearly defines the world view of the two characters before we see them collide, and those of us who are familiar with the two men from comic books, know these differing views will be the REAL battle between them; not that they need to fight because they are costumed heros but because Daredevil believes The Punisher goes way too far and The Punisher believes Daredevil is an ineffectual half-measure. Pretty good set up.

When we were told Batman v Superman was (FINALLY) being made, many of us were looking forward to a similar philisophical battle coming to the big screen featuring our favorite DC Comics heros, rather than some of Marvel’s coolest but frankly B-list characters. It’s not some notion a collective of fan-nerds invented in our heads. It’s a fight that has been taking place in comics since at least 1986 when Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns was released and featured a future world where Batman had to unretire to brutally dethrone a group of bad guys. In that world, there was only one real superhero left – Superman – and he had become little more than a government sanctioned lackey. Batman felt that defeated the purpose of fighting crime his way, which is to literally BE a punishing nightmare to criminals. So when Superman was tasked by the President to take Batman down, they fought about ideals, not just for the sake of fighting.
Especially considering the visual cues taken from this specific comic book, this is the promise that was made to us: Batman and Superman would battle because they both felt the other needed to be checked. In the wake of an alien battle that leveled Metropolis, Batman fears an overpowered, God-like being with no oversight. And Superman feels Batman goes way too far in his brutal vendetta against Gotham’s criminals. Pretty good set-up.

Every trailer, every clip, every interview given in the lead-up to release, reinforced this idea that we were getting more than just a battle between costumed heros. We would have to choose sides and in the end, there would be a real debate as to who was right. It would be the most amazing movie ever, and one we’ve been waiting our entire lives to see.

Then the movie was released. Turns out Batman’s motivation is pretty spot on: an alien war had been brought to Earth and even though Superman fought them off and saved Earth, the reality is that “if he wanted to, (he) could burn the whole place down.” And guess what? Batman’s right!! And though we were teased with some early scenes where Clark Kent reports on some of the Batman vigilante’s brutal ways, trampling on civil liberties, that idea seemed to stop cold about a third of the way into the movie as the villan, Lex Luthor, enters the landscape.
Once Luthor’s mechanations start to take shape – a PR battle against Superman and a desire to craft an anti-Kryptonian weapon made from wreckage of the downed World Engine from Man of Steel – the entire central fight goes off the rails. Lex captures Clark/Superman’s mother and with her hidden, demands Superman kill Batman. So they fight. And that’s it.

The fight is fine. Great even. And it goes down much the way I anticipated it would. Until the end. This is what I envisioned: Batman has traps set up to bother Superman, then uses the kryptonite gas to weaken him. But he doesn’t kill. He tells Superman, “I didn’t have to go easy on you (meaning, he could have killed him with the kryptonite). I want you to remember, in your most private moments, the one man who beat you.” See, the point isn’t to kill him. It’s to educate him that men are capable of and WILL take him down if he ever crosses the line. That he’s not all powerful and he’s not a god.
Instead, the fight happens and just when my storyline should have taken place, Superman – from under Batman’s boot – says something like, “He’s going to kill Martha. You have to stop him.” …Because both Superman and Batman’s mothers share the same name. Sigh.

All the peripheral story points notwithstanding, that gladiator match between the two heros should have been more than a Lex Luthor plot point. It’s the title of the movie for Superman’s sake!

I stated before that I had made some assumptions about what should happen and how. And of course, that’s not fair. After all, I didn’t make this movie. I had nothing at all to do with it. So for me to sit here and tell WB or Zach Snyder or Chris Terrio that what they did was wrong is crazy. It’s their movie, their vision.
What I feel isn’t disappointment exactly. It’s more than that. See, what I felt was a promise had been made to me. And, again, every ingredient we were given in the lead up seemed to buffer my idea that the two were going to collide because they both felt the other needed some kind of check on their power, since neither was subject to the structure of law and order the rest of us live by.
Examples:
1) The official plot outline: “Fearing the actions of a god-like superhero with unchecked power, Gotham’s own formidable, forceful vigilante takes on Metropolis’s most revered, modern-day savior, while the world wrestles with what sort of hero it really needs.”
2) The Comic-Con trailer opens with a Congressional hearing, seemingly in the aftermath of the destruction in Man of Steel. Then it shows Bruce Wayne was there in Metropolis during the battle between Superman and Zod, where one of his buildings is destroyed. Then it shows an exchange between Clark Kent and Perry White where Kent is clearly concerned about Batman’s brutality.
3) The famous Doomsday trailer opens at an event where reporter Clark Kent ambushes Bruce Wayne and begins questioning him about his “position on the Batman vigilante in Gotham.” And Wayne responding about how the Daily Planet isn’t concerned with Superman’s vast power. Do they know each other’s secret identities?!? Very intriguing.

All of these examples reinforce that there is a real reason these two need to straighten their differences out, and of course being a comic book movie, there’s only one way that can happen. It all seemed so great! And their differences so clear. Choose a side and watch what happens, right? I mean… RIGHT?!?!?

Is it fair to have assumptions about what should happen in a movie? Making assumptions and then being disappointed that other people don’t share my assumpitons, especially when it’s their movie to make, is horribly unfair. But that’s what I did. And I was so sure I was right that its taken me 2 viewings and 3 days to reason this out in my head. Was a promise made to me or did I simply think on my own what the movie should be? Since I have to admit that I had certain expectations that weren’t fulfilled, but that those film makers are not beholdent to what I want in my movie experience, I can’t call it disappointment. And really, upon seeing the movie a second time without the weight of expectation and assumption, I had a much more enjoyable time.

Go see this movie and take it for what it is. Like Man of Steel, where many MANY people were horribly put off by all the killing and death wrought by the Zod/Superman battle, it may be that in time, the collective anger, the disappointment I keep reading about will subside and even comic book fans like me will be able to see that this movie is just like another comic with a new creative team, telling a new story. Just because it’s a movie and one that lifts plenty of visuals from some very specific storylines, doesn’t mean it’s meant to be a direct adaptation of said storylines. Even in The Dark Knight Returns, there are story points that aren’t that great.

Do I wish the main fight in BvS held more weight? Yes. Do I think there are other, better battles between Batman and Superman told in comics? Yes. But, to it’s credit, Batman v Superman is bold in that it tells a completely new story. It makes tough choices and will be it’s own creation when it’s all said and done. For me, that was tough to swallow the first time through. Now, I think I’ll wait to see it play out and continue to hope that the people making the decisions don’t screw up.

Rating (out of 5): 4
A completely new take on Batman & Superman as their worlds collide. Different than what was expected, given all the promotional material, but new and unique, with BOLD choices made. Not for children because of violence.

The BEST Toys

image Batman toys are normally what I run to. I went specifically to a GREAT comic store in LA called Meltdown. Boy is that an awesome place. Right on Sunset across from the Guitar Center, and it’s big. Really big. Big enough that it’s not just comics. It’s not even just comics and toys. It’s comics, toys, games, events, and maybe best of all, classic toys and action figures displayed behind glass, but still for sale. This was where I picked up the Batman from the Son of Batman animated movie. Is it the best toy ever? Is it even as cool as the Old West Batman it’s next to in the picture? No. But I wanted a toy, so I bought it. And for a while, I was really excited. Who knew what I would learn just a week or two later?imageSo yeah. This guy. I’m not even a big Hulk fan. But I was visiting with some friends and their year old baby. He was restless so someone suggested the “kids section” of Barnes and Noble.

Am I the ONLY PERSON ON EARTH that didn’t know B&N has the BEST toy section EVER!?! Awesome action figures, tons of games, and it’s not just the quality; it’s the straight dope quantity of quality!!

There was a Batman figure, but oddly I didn’t like it very much. Then I saw Hulk. And I bought him. And I love him. And I can’t wait to go back!!

What Do I Care How Equity Members Vote? (#iLove99 #NotThisChange)

Today is the first day of voting for Actor’s Equity’s new 99-Seat agreement, wherein actors would FINALLY be valued and paid what they’re worth…. um… minimum wage.

Boy, and I thought I was beginning to UNDERVALUE myself. I was thinking I was worth $8 an hour. But wow, to dream of $9 an hour…? For a part time gig? That would almost (but not quite) cover the expense of driving all the way to rehearsal. Plus, all that time spent performing and rehearsing instead of wasting my life at some minimum wage job will finally be worthwhile. Thank God the union can see the big picture and make clear that all they want is for me to VALUE MY CRAFT.

Here’s the deal people: I’m not in Equity. I’m in SAG-AFTRA. The difference is one is for stage and the other for film/tv/radio. This affects me only in as much as my union will demand reciprocity, which is a very real; no, a very expected possibility. I don’t do 99 seat theatre to get paid. Would I LIKE to be paid to do theatre? OF COURSE!! Would I like to be paid minimum wage at the expense of my theatre company’s ability to take chances and produce the kind of theatre I want to be a part of? HELL NO!!

What I mean by that is 2-fold:
1) My Theatre Co is a Non-profit 501(c)3. That means it is eligible for grants and govt money, it can fund raise without tax penalty, and there are various other benefits. Because of that, shows don’t need to be chosen because of the profit they promise to bring in. Another of the benefits is that we can volunteer our time to productions, in whatever capacity is required. As an actor, I sometimes run the soundboard for a show I’m not performing in. Other times, I help backstage. Still other times, I am a PRODUCER. In the new world order (after Equity makes this happen in spite of the wishes of literally everyone I know in Los Angeles theatre), I – as a “Producer” – will be on the hook for either budgeting for Equity actors (and CA taxes, their EDD expenses, medicare, all of that), or finding another way to provide money when the show itself is already not going to make a profit. Look into it: NO THEATRE IN AMERICA PAYS ITS EXPENSES WITH TICKET SALES ALONE.

What does that mean? It means we, as a company, won’t be able to afford to use union actors. Good job Equity! You’ve succeeded in eliminating the best way your members have to practice their work!! It’s ok though. Equity actors can just join a class. Will that prepare them for actually performing in an actual show in front of a real, paid audience? Perhaps. Of course, its a little like how a writing class makes you ready to write for the LA Times. Thing is, would the LA Times hire a beat writer based on classwork? Or do you suppose they’d want to see some kind of real-world experience? I don’t know the answer to that, but I can guess.

Bottom line: The company can become a for-profit entity, which is unrealistic. Or it can use non-union talent, which is more likely.

2) It’s only because I already belong to my Company that I would even be allowed (under the new proposal) to remain in the way I have been for the past 10 years. Because I belong to SAG-AFTRA and they’d demand I follow their sister-union’s rules – Equity’s rules – if my status changes with Equity, say if I were to join, new rules dictate my status as a company member would be lost. My company, who I have worked with and gained valuable experience and exposure in the process, would suddenly have to pay me minimum wage. Remember when I said they can’t afford that? Well, guess what? They still CAN’T AFFORD TO DO THAT!!

Bottom line: I will not be joining Equity, short of being offered a job at a large theatre with an Equity contract (3 of these exist in Los Angeles). You know, someplace where I would be able to make actual livable money. Not the couple bucks Equity seems to think actors are worth.

This whole thing is so sad. It’s clear to me that the union is only doing this because they have huge membership numbers here in Los Angeles because of the film/tv industry and they think they can squeeze some more dues money out of them. Instead of supporting their membership’s efforts to be more professional and prepared when the larger theatres (Or, God forbid, a movie or tv show) come calling, they are effectively telling them, “Go back to class. That’s the only place you’re allowed to improve your skills. When you aren’t getting paid, you’re not really a professional. Further, you must not respect your talents or craft since you don’t agree you should be paid the very bottom, minimum dollar amount possible.”

Thanks for that Equity. I was having trouble valuing myself before. Now that I know I am worth minimum wage, I feel so much better.
I guess it turns out, i DO care. Please, if you have a vote today, VOTE NO. #ILove99 #NotThisChange