Category Archives: Extras

Disney Tarot: The Magician

I had a hard time deciding which Disney character I should pick for the magician. There are after all a number of characters with magic abilities. Originally though, the Magician was less the mythological figure it is now, instead he was a stage magician, a Trickster so to speak. This in mind I felt that Doctor Facilier, while technically not being a magician, would be the best fit, because he presents the connection to higher powers which is inherent in the card as well as the more “slight of hand” aspect of the original design. The end-result looked like this:



As you can see I took care to incorporate all the four suits of the Tarot, the cup, the coin, the sword and the wand, here shown as a magic staff. Usually the staff is raised to the heavens, but I felt having it touch the ground is more fitting anyway, since Facilier goes deep (pun intended) for his otherworldly power. I even went a step further by having him hold a deck of cards. I considered to change the deck to the one of this game, but I decided to refrain in favour of keeping the pattern which vaguely alludes to the infinity symbol which is central to the magician card.

Facilier is also a good character to present the notion of power, skills and resourcefulness as well as the reverse reading of the card, which includes manipulation and poor planning. I underlined the last aspect in my interpretation of the card a little bit more by adding his “friends from the other side” as well as a shadow-figure to present the hidden duality of the card. The Magician might be the number 1, the ego so to speak, but even we on our own are not truly “one”, instead there are always different desires fighting within us. At the end of the day, we can’t deny our darker desires, but we also shouldn’t succumb to it.

I hope my extension of the card wasn’t too off-putting. Next week I will go even further, in that I will rename a card. I felt that the High Priestess is a little bit too religious for a disneyfied Tarot (as it the Hierophant). Hence we will discuss “The Spirits” next time.


Disney Tarot: The Fool

The Fool is maybe the most capricious of all Tarot cards. It is sometimes numbered as 0, making it the first of the Major Arkana, sometimes as the XXII, making it the last. In a common playing deck the card is unnumbered and can be the lowest or the highest card in a game. Basically its meaning and worth changes depending on context.

The look of the card has changed, too. In the earliest Tarot decks, he was represented by a beggar or vagabond.  In other versions he is more of a court jester. But the more modern deck depict a young man in expensive clothing with a travelling bag on his shoulder about to walk off a cliff in the mountains, while a little dog is jumping around beside him. My disneyfied interpretation of the image looks like this:



As you can see, there is still the young man in the expensive clothes being carefree about everything in the world. There is still the luggage which indicates the traveller. The jumping dog is replaced with an overworked servant, but the role is pretty much the same. Just like the dog the servant is a steady companion, but one which might give the fool the last push down the cliff-edge, too.  Though instead of the cliff-edge, there is a hand reaching in the direction of the young traveller, maybe luring him towards doom.

I knew from the get go that Naveen would be my best candidate to take the role of the fool, because him at the start of the movie encompasses exactly the notion of spontaneity and being a free spirit the card symbolizes, while he also portrays the naivety, foolishness and recklessness which are the reverse reading of the card. As you can see I picked the number 0, since it portrays the unlimited potential in this card as well as its lack of a specific place. That is pretty much Naveen at the start of the movie, too, thrown out from home and without a proper goal in live, just drifting through the world. There is unlimited potential both in the card and in Naveen who is just wasting his numerous talents. He hasn’t opened the bag yet, so to speak, but as one can see, there are plenty of them, showing how many talents he actually has. The path before him is obscured and potentially dangerous, but it will be mostly careless behaviour which will lead him down a dangerous path.

Hopefully this made sense to you. If you want to know more about the card or my train of thoughts when I created my version of it, just ask. Next week I’ll discuss the magician, which is frankly a way more difficult card to get right.


Disney Tarot: Introduction

Well, a few years ago when I still had time and really liked to play around with Photoshop, I started to create a Disney Princess based Tarot. A lot of work and thought went into it, but I never really got around to share the full deck. I think I will do it now in a weekly series, offering a new card (or more) every…well, let’s call it Tarot Tuesday. And I am not just talking about the Major Arkana, I did the Minor ones too, 78 cards overall featuring more or less every single relevant character from every Disney Princess movie up to Rapunzel.

And yes, this means that in the original version, Merida was missing. Well, I kind of corrected it and added her, but, well, let’s just say it was difficult to find room for her and her movie. Still, she is featured now. I also played around with the Minor Arcana a little bit, to hit the original meaning of the cards a little bit better than I originally did. (If someone wonders about Frozen and Moana, so far they haven’t been officially added to the line-up and even if they were, there is no room whatsoever for more, I had to just skip a few characters already).

As a general rule, ensured that all Princesses and their respective Princes are featured in the Major Arkana, since it made sense to me that the strongest characters are also representing the strongest cards. I ensured that the respective court cards (I kept to the traditional four) are presented by characters from the same movie for the respective suit. The rest or the cards I filled up with characters and situation I felt reflected the meaning of the card rather than going for a literal take on them. I am well aware that interpretations for those cards sometimes differ, though, so you’ll have to do with whatever interpretation I picked…and I did a few tweaks, too. To be frank, there are a few cards with which I am still not completely satisfied with.

To get an idea what I mean, here is a little taste: The pattern I decided on for the back of the cards


0 Back

As you can see I decided on concept art of the magic mirror. It is a little bit unusual, because it is common practice to have a pattern which doesn’t reveal if the card is upside or not, but I didn’t feel that hiding the fact was that important. After all, once the card is put on the table, it will only be moved by revealing the picture behind it, and if anything knowing beforehand if the card has to be interpreted in its reverse meaning or not might be helpful to approach it from the correct mind-set from the get go.

I knew from the get go that I wanted the magic mirror on the back because he is the truthsayer in the Disney canon. He doesn’t predict the future, and I think that this is the right approach to Tarot, too. To be frank, I mostly see it as a fun game anyway (though one I spend considerable time exploring), but if you want to take it more seriously, one should stop short before thinking that it can in any way serve as a basis for important decisions. It can’t tell you anything about what will happen in the future, none of the “someone will enter your life and change it” nonsense. But it can be a tool for self-reflection and hence lead you to a truth about yourself by encouraging you to reconsider your current live and the people in them. It is still dangerous to put too much faith into the cards – hell, that might lead you straight off a cliff after struck by lightening and then being hit by a giant rock for good measures – but sometimes a visual aid can help you to figure out what you already know deep down.

So, all this in mind I felt that the magic mirror is the perfect symbol for what this deck of cards is about. I went for a concept art because I wanted the style on the back to be obviously different from the other pictures, so that there would be no confusing the magic mirror with the actual suits. I also liked the colour of the paper on which this concept art was drawn, because it gives it an old and used feeling to it which just feels right for a set of tarot cards. For the same reason I refrained from adding some sort of frame, it just didn’t feel right, and I want simplicity in the back so that the front will pop more.

And how exactly the front looks like, well, you’ll have until next week to see. If you are even interested. If you are, don’t be shy and drop a line. Maybe share your thoughts about “The Fool” now…I might incorporate them into my analysis of the card and my disneyfied interpretation of it.

Batman V Superman under watch

I don’t like Man of Steel. I could launch into a long explanation why, but it basically boils down to me not liking Snyder’s work as a director. He is all about visuals, and while I enjoy something impressive to look at, I still need a cohesive story to enjoy a movie – unless it is something along the line of Fantasia or Yellow Submarine. I couldn’t relate to the characters in Man of Steel and since Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was mostly made by the same team, my hopes that I would like the result were not that high. I thought the trailers looked bad (safe for the scene with Affleck watching the buildings crumble) and already spoiled most of the movie. But I honestly didn’t expect that the reaction to the movie would be that negative.

Anyway, I didn’t watch it in theatres. Call me a sheep for listening to critics, but I would rather take the opinions of people with knowledge into consideration than watching a film simply because it is sold as an “event movie”. I also didn’t bother to try keeping away from spoilers. I knew that it wouldn’t be possible to keep myself in the dark until the movie is available anyway.

So, now I do have the opportunity to watch the movie and considering that a lot of people claim that this is for comic book movies, I will do the following: During this first watch I will pause the movie and jot down notes roughly every ten minutes. Then I will watch it again for an overall impression. And then I will watch the uncut version. Let’s see how this movie holds up, and how it relates to the stuff I already heard about it.


This was both better and worse than I expected. Better because some reviewers said that the dying scene of Bruce parents is incredible stupid staged. I don’t think that it is. It works fine (aside from the fact that real pearls are not connected on a string and would therefore never fall apart like that, but that’s really a nitpick). But what is the deal with young Bruce floating in the bats? They could get away with it if they cut after this to Bruce waking from a nightmare, but they go to what happened in Metropolis. Which, imho, should have been how they started the movie, with the first time Batman saw Superman, to set the tone of this movie. By starting with Batman, they made it from the get go a Barman movie in which Superman happened to be in it. I already know that the scene with the parents dying will become important later on, but this could certainly have been put as a dream sequence of flashback later on in the movie (preferable parallel to a defining moment Clark remembers from his childhood, to show the differences between the two characters). The scene in Metropolis itself, well, I still liked the bits and pieces we saw in the trailer, but more or less everything else is so much worse than I imagined. So the employees of Wayne industries are too stupid to leave the building when the world is falling apart around them? I also can’t get behind Bruce driving like a maniac through the city, it is a wonder that he didn’t kill any of the people trying to flee from the destruction.


Oooookay, the ten minutes are not over yet, but let the record show that I am confused. Why are we suddenly 18 months later? Why is this alien stuff somewhere in the ocean and not recovered by some government or Superman himself? Who is this guy looking happy because of the green stuff? Is this supposed to be Kryptonite? If yes, how does this guy know that it is important? And what is the deal with Lois and the terrorist? First the CIA is involved, and then suddenly another group starts to shoot, and the Superman rescues Lois and apparently something went really wrong because some sort of committee holds him responsible for…whatever. We are barely 15 minutes into this movie and I already feel totally lost. It’s like I have seen pieces of at least five different movies so far.


The movie looses points for unnecessary nudity. Otherwise…I think I might have liked the discussion between Lois and Clark if I had known what the f… happened in Africa. And why do we keep discussing an event we didn’t even see but during which apparently a few people died through unintended consequences and not the big event we actually did see during which countless people died because Superman was carelessly crushing into buildings? Also, the editing in this movie is awful! The cut to Batman being a vigilante which is so brutal that even the victims he rescues are terrified of him came out of nowhere.


Hallelujah, two cuts in a row which made sense. But you know what would have made even more sense? If Clark watching the news about the Batman would transition into a proper scene instead of just a moment of him seeing that Batman exists (because apparently that is news to him after all this years? I don’t get it). After all those self-important dialogues between Bruce and Alfred, it would have made sense to contrast Clark’s point of view immediately after. This would have  been the right place for the “I don’t care about the effect of my actions as long as you are safe” talk.
Also we get our first scene with Lex Luther. I am not sure if we actually get his motivation in this scene, but the argument that humans should be prepared just in case that the “gods among us” act out is actually a good one (especially since it is basically Batman’s reasoning). It become apparent though that the scene with the kryptonite earlier was pointless. Back then it didn’t have any meaning (even less if you are not comic book nerd enough to know that green stuff in a superman movie usually means kryptonite), and we get the important explanations now. But why does Lex need an import licence? Nobody knows what this stuff is, so shouldn’t he be able to import it as much as he wants? And what is the Metahuman thesis?


Okay, I have to pause again…what was this with the wall of crazy? Whose work was this? Also, what is the deal with the Daily Planet? You don’t just give one reporter “sports” for a day, journalists are usually specialized on specific topics they have a broad background knowledge about. I also don’t see how some graffiti on a statue (really, that was the priority of the city after all the destruction?) is a bigger end of the “love affair” with Superman than him actually being accused by a committee of being responsible for countless deaths.


I now understand what some critics meant by the overblown soundtrack. The score when Lex walks to the alien ship (without safety suit for some reason) is positive obnoxious, which becomes even more evident since it is multiple times interrupted to show the talk with the white-haired guy – whoever that is. Why do we need to see this? Why can’t we simply shown that Lex has access to the stuff and be done with it? Why is it so important who gave him access?


Can this movie stick with one story-arc for more than a minute? It has been barely more than 4 minutes and in this time we saw Bruce conducting his terrorist investigation (I don’t care about), Clark acting like a douche by telling Perry White what the paper he is working for a just a little bit more than a year is standing for as well as Lois’ bullet investigation (I also don’t care about) and finally the import discussion between Lex and the Senator (which is equally boring). Can we perhaps go back to either Batman v Superman or the question of accountability for Superman? Please?


Thank god there is actually something like coherent storytelling for a few minutes. More or less. The cuts make sense for a change and the movie stops jumping around like a bunny on a sugar rush for at least a few minutes during the party. But next to nothing in this works. If Wayne Manor is destroyed, where is Bruce actually living? Does Lex know who Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne are in their spare time? It seems that way. And why Clark attacking a random millionaire whose name he didn’t even know a few minutes earlier (worst reporter ever) over batman? I am also not into the montage which follows. It looks beautiful, but the idea of a family which is about to drown taking the time to write the superman symbol on their roof and he is hovering dramatically over them instead of starting to rescue all those people before it is too late ruins it for me. It’s just…so stupid. Beautiful, but stupid. (and yes, I am aware of the underlying symbolism…I like the Jesus imaginary even less here than I did in Man of Steel. And there I already felt that it was too on the nose).


I feel lost again. I guess that Lex would use leg-less guy to make trouble for Superman makes sense, but what is this whole thing about mysterious woman (well, Wonder Woman I guess, but that hasn’t been revealed yet) stealing the hard-drive just to give it immediately back? That is kind of a pointless detour, isn’t it?


WTF was that? I mean I dislike dream sequences on principle, but this was one of the most confusing things I have ever seen. The Mad Max part apparently only exists because someone realized that it has been already too long since the last action beat, but what really threw me off is the moment in the end. Who is this guy screaming at Bruce? Is that the Flash cameo everyone is talking about? But Bruce doesn’t know the Flash yet, does he? So how can he dream about him? Or alternative futures? I don’t get it.


Finally the whole things with Bruce’s investigation makes sense. But the editing has gotten even worse. What is the point of Perry asking where Clark is (and why he hasn’t fired him yet is beyond me, it is one thing to insist on a story but another thing not to do the work which was assigned to you), only to cut then to Lois who is apparently working on uncovering what the audience already knows, that there is a weapon which would hurt Superman.


Oh, great the movie has finally remembered that it is called Batman v Superman, and not Lex Luther v the Senator or Lois Lane, investigative reporter. Took only one freaking hour! And now we got a confrontation with next to no built-up. It is odd, I have at this point a pretty good idea what the public thinks about Superman, but not why he is so obsessed with Batman’s action. On the other hand I have no idea what the public thinks about Batman, but I know exactly why he is so obsessed over Superman.


I know I repeat myself, but I don’t get it. How could anyone know that Superman would come to rescue Lois? Did leg-less guy send the messages, or did Lex ensure that he never got his money and send those himself? What is the point of those messages anyway? And how does one conclude from a jar of piss that something terrible might happen in the next moments? But you know what, the biggest problem I have in all this is that Superman finally had the chance to declare himself – and the movie didn’t let him. What a waste! And what was the point of the whole Committee story then if it leads to nowhere? I mean we already have what happened in Metropolis to make humanity angry with Superman. Than we have this mysterious Africa incident. But no, we need to set-up a third incident to justify…whatever. Can’t we just get to the fight? Please?


So…I guess Batman stole the Kryptonite off-screen? And Superman now believes that he can’t be a hero because he didn’t notice the bomb? I think this was the gist of his speech, but I am not sure if I follow the logic there. The training montage is useless filler which could have worked if parallel to it we would have seen Superman preparing himself for his battle with Batman but, well, at this point Superman doesn’t even worry about Batman any longer, does he? And what is Lex doing now? Making strange experiences? Why? I thought his plan was to pit Batman against Superman in the hope that Batman is somehow strong enough to destroy him? Wouldn’t it have been way easier to plant a kryptonite bomb instead of a regular one?


I really hate to interrupt again, but the movie is jumping around yet again. So apparently he population is totally okay with Superman destroying a city by fighting people from his planet, but when a bomb goes off beside him he is somehow responsible, even though everyone thinks that wheelchair guy did it? On the upside, the movie finally does what it should have done all along, parallel Superman and Batman to each other by showing both of them having a talk with their father figure (at this point I don’t even worry why Superman sees dead people…I just roll with it). I guess Superman was raised by farmers and Batman by hunters? This is a thought which is certainly worth exploring. Too bad that nothing in the movie beforehand built up this distinction between the characters, and muddles it by throwing in some strange story which seems to boil down to “if someone dies because of Superman’s actions it is never his fault”.  And why we go from that to Superman’s mother getting kidnapped, I have no idea.


I just realized that Lex knows more than he should. Not only did he apparently know the true identities of Batman and Superman all along, he also knew that it was time to kidnap Martha before the bat signal turned up in the sky. And he somehow knows that Superman will be there to rescue Lois no matter where she is, but is unable to realize that his mother is in danger.


Okay, those are the infamous Justice League tie-ins. And let me tell you: Nothing about this works. For one, the nature of the scene. Having a character look at footage is the laziest thing I have ever seen. Two, the placement. It’s like those TV shows when the big fight starts, but no, we go on an advertising break first. It’s ruining all the tension. And three, the snippets itself might make sense for the comic book fans, but for the general audience? I was barely able to piece together what the first two are about, but the third one, which I guess is about Cyborg, means nothing to me. And if I didn’t know that a Cyborg movie is scheduled, it would mean even less. Because I know nothing about this character, I had never heard that he even existed before DC made their announcements. So, after this useless detour, can we finally go to the fight? Which will be pretty one-sided if Superman only wants to ask for help, because…Batman is somehow better suited to find Martha?


Is it just me or is the fight somewhat disappointing? I am not sure what I expected, but certainly not Batman dicking around the whole time, throwing literally a kitchen sink at Superman, instead of simply grabbing the spear and doing what he came to do.
The solution of the fight has already become a meme. I think I am not quite as down on the idea in itself as everyone else seems to be. Granted, it is strange that Superman would call his mother “Martha” instead of “mom” but let’s imagine that the scene was set up in a way that it looks more similar to the scenes of the murder of Bruce’s parents. Than the use of the world “Martha” might cause him flashing back to the moment and realizing that he now has taken the position of their killer in the scenario. But the way it actually is set-up, it’s really very stupid.
Batman freeing Martha (and I am still not sure why Batman and Superman don’t work together on this one. It would be a great bonding exercise), looks somewhat cool. Over-the-top violent but it is at least a better action scene than the title fight.


I liked the fight in space. I would have loved to see more of this. I am not sure, though, what to think about humanity literally nuking their messiah-figure. Also, this should be a very emotional moment, having to make a decision like this. But no one in this control room actually knows Superman and last time I checked the world was on a “we hate Superman”-trip.


Wait a minute…how do Batman and Lois both know that they would need the spear? Neither of them were present when Superman discovered what Lex had done. And even if I assume that they have both incredible good deduction abilities, how does Superman know that Lois threw the spear into the water for no reason?
Speaking of the spear, wouldn’t it have been a better plan for Batman to leave the monster on the thankfully abandoned island and fetch the spear instead of leading it closer to the city? I question his strategy there.
And speaking of strategy, shouldn’t Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman agree on one? They are standing together, but they aren’t really fighting together. They just happen to fight the same monster at the same time.


I think I would have loved those scenes, if they were part of another movie. One in which Superman is such a compelling character that I actually care if he dies or not. But Wonder Woman, Batman and Lois standing around Superman’s fallen body, this is some really beautiful imaginary (lifted from religious paintings, but in this case, I can ignore this fact).


And they ruined it by cutting from a perfectly staged scene to Lex getting his head shaved. Who the f.. cares? Why not go directly to the two funerals. Which, at the very least, work for me in a sense that they pay tribute to Superman’s dual existence – only that we never really saw him being either Clark Kent or Superman all that much and let’s be honest here, Perry White just lost the worst reporter he ever had on payroll.
Also, Batman waxing poetically about how he failed him feels false considering that he is talking about a guy he hated for nearly two years to a woman who never even talked to him.
And finally, what is the whole scene in prison about? Is that another dream? Is everyone in this movie a pre-cog? I just don’t get it.



Honestly, this was exhausting. But I am glad that I decided to watch the movie piece by piece, because I have the feeling that without pausing in-between in order to put the puzzle pieces  together, I would have been even more lost than I already was. Also, it was a good thing that I spoiled myself, because I don’t think that I would have recognized the Flash otherwise.

I originally wanted to watch the movie without interruptions immediately after, but I think it is better to let this sink in and rewatch the movie tomorrow, with a clear mind. Supposedly it is better the second time around.



So, I rewatched it. It is better? Well, kind of. It is less confusing if you actually know what is going on, that Lex knows the whole time who Batman and Superman really are, and the second time around I realized that Clark maybe heard Bruce talking with Alfred over the intercom during the party and confronted him because of that. But this is not a “I understand this movie now better because I see new connections” experience. It is a combination of not expecting the characters to behave in any logical manner and filling the gaps in the movie through a lot of research. I shouldn’t need to research anything to understand a movie. And if I had trouble with what the movie expected me to know, I honestly have no idea how someone who has no idea what “The Killing Joke” or “Under the Red Hood” is about is supposed to deal. Apparently the Chinese audience was confused about Wonder Woman, and I can certainly imagine this. If you don’t know about her, her whole subplot makes no sense whatsoever. I would have most likely thought initially that she is supposed to be cat woman.

But before I go into plot points, I want to discuss the technical side of the movie. The editing is atrocious. I can’t think of another movie which does such a bad job stringing scenes together. There are three aspects to it which combined make for a very unpleasant viewing experience: The lack of establishing shots, the length of the scenes and the sudden transition between them.

See, usually a movie is edited in a way that there is some kind of connection between the scenes. There are a lot of way to do this, but the most basic methods are either visual or verbal cues. For example, a character does an upward motion and then the next scene, even though it is set elsewhere, this motion is either continued or mirrored. There is nothing of this kind in this movie. It just jumps from one scene to the next and to add to the confusion, it sometimes gives verbal cues which makes you expect a cut to a certain character which then doesn’t turn up (the Perry White scene I mentioned is an example of that). Since there is neither a proper transition nor an establishing shot, I always needed a few seconds to figure out where the movie went and what is going on in the scene in question, but due to the scenes being so short, I got pulled out of the movie again just when I settled into a situation. One of the reasons why Batman works so much better than the other characters in the movie is because he gets more scenes which have a proper length (he also tends to get better dialogue in general). I think you could have done the movie a lot of good by simply rearranging some scenes. The scene with Wonder Woman looking at all those files should have been the end of the second act and not somewhere in the middle of the third, Lex Luther in prison shouldn’t cut into the funeral scenes, those scenes belong to the very end of the movie (or even better into a mid-credit scene).

Then there is the sound design. Now, I don’t have an issue with the score itself, but I hate the way it is used. In some scenes it is so overbearingly loud and obnoxious that it comes off more like a laughing track. Yes, a score should influence our emotions, but it shouldn’t practically scream at the audience “see how badass this character is! Be impressed!”. Especially not if said character is simply walking down a hallway!

And finally the action scenes. When they are good, they are really good, but at times they feel more like they were lifted from a computer game. I can’t exactly pin down why, but it makes it hard to be invested in them. And what is with all the lens flares during the chase scene? I was barely able to figure out what was happening on screen.

Well, I guess this is enough about the technical aspect (and really, those are film making 101 problems), let’s talk about structure and narrative. I am pretty much a “plot and character” kind of gal. That doesn’t mean that I nitpick every detail in a movie, there is always room for suspension of disbelief. But I need to like the people on screen, I need to know why they do what they do and the narration should work towards a specific point. This movie, though, has no less than five different story-lines which barely connects with each other.

Let’s take it from the top. There is Batman. And I certainly know why so many consider him the best part of the movie. Because he is the only one who has a storyline which actually has something to do with the advertised title fight. He has a reason to be angry with Superman, and most of his activities are about obtaining a weapon against him. There are only four issues with his storyline: For one it is never really addressed how the public sees him opposed to Superman, two, I am not sure if he was retired and now returned or had been around all the time but got harder all the time (in general the movie assumes that the audience will reach the right conclusions over his past just from a destroyed suit, but the only thing we have are fan theories) three, he is a hypocrite because he actually does exactly what he accuses Superman of and fourth his arc is unnecessarily complicated and isolated. Wouldn’t it have more sense if he had worked with Lex in order to find a weapon, instead of tracking the work of someone else? How did he even know that Lex had discovered said weapon?

Then there is Superman. Who is just there. I guess he has a hang-up about Batman’s brutality, but this is hard to buy when he himself is smashing humans through walls. Nothing about Superman really worked. I hate to rag on actors when they are trapped in such a clearly ill-advised movie, but Superman looks constantly constipated. He is a horrible reporter, a questionable saviour, but what it is even worse, none of the stuff which was set up in Man of Steel was picked up again in this movie. The killing of Zod isn’t even mentioned, the destruction of Metropolis serves as a motivator for Batman, but in order for the public to question Superman, the movie (or Lex) feels the need to set up not one but two unrelated incidents (because people totally care about the death of some terrorist on the other side of the world more than the fact that their city got destroyed in a 9/11 event). Shouldn’t it be the other way around, that Superman has to sway the opinion of those people who hold him responsible? But then it is perhaps a good thing that Snyder blew up congress before Superman could declare himself, because he apparently never understood why so many people had issues with the destruction in Man of Steel. It was never the fact that there was a perceived death toll, but that it felt like destruction for the sake of destruction, with no deeper meaning behind it, caused by a Superman who didn’t seem to care. I don’t need a “there are no people around” disclaimer, it is frankly insulting. What I needed was an exploration what the destruction of Metropolis meant for Superman. Even the one person who has a good reason to accuse Superman isn’t allowed to act in their own volition, but is manipulated by a villain. But you know what, Superman is a dick in this one. The only time he actually voices some sort of opinion is when he says that he doesn’t care how many people die as long as Lois is safe. He freaking should care!

Speaking of Lois, her arc is the most coherent one, but also the most useless one. Her motivations are clear, her actions make mostly sense, but what is the point in her looking into those bullets when what she discovers has no impact on the plot whatsoever? For all the screen-time she gets, the only time she is relevant is when Superman has to rescue her. Which he has to do no less than three times, the third time being a totally useless detour which does nothing but add running time to an already way too long movie. As a general rule, the movie treats female characters terrible. They are only there to look sexy, be in danger or getting killed off. Even Wonder Woman doesn’t escape unscathed.

Don’t get me wrong, there are moments in which I genuinely liked Wonder Wonder. I am one of those who doubted Gal Gadot’s casting, not because of some nonsense like her built, but because I wasn’t sure if she is a good enough actress to carry a movie and able to sell the confidence I expect of the character. Well, I am still not sure about her line-delivery, but in the battle scenes, she shined. And I don’t mean her looking impressive while holding a shield, this moment was actually very corny. No, I mean the way she smiles before attacking Doomsday even harder, and the moment at the very end, when she is standing beside Superman’s body and looks toward the sky. There is something about it which worked really well, even though I like Wonder Woman better as ambassador of peace than as warrior. But she somehow managed to sell her actions as “I enjoy this, but I don’t necessarily like it”, if that makes any sense. Thus said, her arc in the movie is terrible. She seems to be only there to set up the Justice League and nothing of this makes sense. If she wants the photo, she needs more than just a copy, she has to destroy every exemplar available of it. Why should she first steal the data from Batman and then give it back to him because she…couldn’t crack the encryption? Honestly, that’s just stupid.

But the actual main plot of the movie is neither of those arcs. At the end of the day this movie is not Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, it is Lex v Holly Hunter: Dawn of Doomsday. There is way more time spend on Lex’s shenanigans than on anything else. I count no less that six different plots he has going on: He sets up Superman getting blamed for Africa, the bomb at the congress, is sending both Superman and Batman letters, imports the Kryptonite, kidnaps the people who are closest to Superman in order to force him to fight and is experimenting with alien technology. All this his needlessly complicated and his main opponent in all this is neither Batman or Superman, not even Lois Lane by investigating him, no, it is a random Senator who gets blown up halfway through the movie.

None of those arcs I just mentioned  work on their own all that way. But they also barely connect with each other. If we assume that Batman and Superman are the heroes of this piece (yeah, I have to assume this, I don’t think that this is obvious) and Lex is the villain, I would expect one of two things: Either that the heroes spend a lot of screen-time with each other, so that the movie can built up to the conflict between them escalating (or them teaming up, whatever the movie in question is going for), or that they spend a lot of screen-time with the villain, so that we can see two opponents seizing each other up. But instead those characters share exactly one scene before the third act, two if you count the brief encounter between Batman and Superman. That’s it. The first time you watch the movie, it is as if you are watching three different ones which got shoehorned together somehow (with some tie-ins for future movies thrown in). During the second watch you at least know that a lot of what happens is orchestrated by Lex somehow off-screen, but that makes the experience barely better.


So, I have discussed the technical aspects and the plot, but what is with the actual themes? After all, a movie so stuffed with Jesus references and quotes should have something to say, right? Well, not really. I think that Dawn of Justice tries to say something, but whatever it is, it gets lost because most of the references are just that, meaningless imaginary which don’t really figure into a large theme, and the little bit the movie has to offer in this direction is undercut by the movie itself.

One example: Lex “reasoning” for creating doomsday is that if man (meaning Batman) can’t win against god (meaning Superman), the devil has to do it. Well, for one this goes against something he says earlier about the devil coming from the sky, but the bigger problem in this is that the very first thing the movie does is lifting Batman into the air, making him more than man.

Another example: As I said, I am not as down on the Martha scene as other people are, but I don’t think it works. What I think the writers is going for is that Batman suddenly realizes that Superman has a human element to it, that he does have a family he cares about and that he himself shouldn’t be the judge, jury and executioner for someone else. This whole idea is undercut twice, first by Batman making a sarcastic remark about Superman’s parents before the word Martha is uttered and then by Batman going to safe Martha by acting as judge, jury and executioner for a bunch of people. I guess he has learned his lesson about killing just as well as Superman did when he killed Zod, meaning not at all.

If this movie has a theme at all, then that fascism is a great thing. Now, all Superhero stories have a fascist element to it. After all, they tend to be about people with special abilities who use the power they have in order to enforce their will on other people, and they do so outside of any written law, but following their own set of rules. This context is not escapable, and the only way to deal with it, is to question the actions of the hero once in a while. The Senator actually has a point that Superman flying around the world doing whatever he wants is a problem. But this is a point of view which gets literally blown up in the movie and is replaced by Pa Kent’s not so uplifting story about rescuing the own farm on the expense of another one. Sure, actions often have unintended consequences. But that doesn’t mean that one should dismiss said consequences. But that is exactly what the movie ask the audience to do. Dismiss this guy in the wheelchair. Dismiss the question what a Superhero should be allowed to get away with. Dismiss all those people Batman killed or endangered. All this isn’t important, as long we can watch a long, manly brawl.


You might have noticed that I didn’t really address the “should Batman kill” question so far aside from pointing out that him doing so by the end of the movie undercuts the arc he kind of is supposed to have. Because that isn’t really important. Now, if I would write those movies, neither Batman nor Superman would kill. Superman wouldn’t smash people through two walls, he would show his superiority by solving problems like this without hurting anyone. And Batman would be the last person I would pick to assemble the Justice League, because I consider him a loner who is not keen of working with anyone, unless it is an impressionable teenager he can form after his own ideals. But all this is not really important for the question if this is a good movie or not. It would be important if the question were if this is a good adaptation, but since everything about it already fails on the most basic level, it is not a question I even have to consider. But then, perhaps the extended cut improves on the movie.

Later:  Well, it does in some regards, but not in others. The editing is a little bit more fluid, which makes this way less of a headache to watch, and I actually like Clark a little bit more in this version because he has some scenes which explain why he is so zoomed in on Batman. Him staying after the explosion makes a big difference in how I see his character. It is also helpful to know that the wheelchair had lead in it, even though this is yet another instance of the movie assuming that the audience is aware of a Superman weakness which never got established in this particular movie-verse.

On the other hand, though, Lex schemes just multiplied, because he is apparently also paying people in prison to kill criminals with the bat brand, and he sets up the home of wheelchair guy to make him look more guilty (though why he should go through all this effort makes no sense to me, isn’t the idea to frame Superman?).

Also, this cut officially kills of Jimmy Olsen. Why? It is a pointless event which does nothing but prevent any other writer from ever using one of the most important characters of the Superman stories.

All in all the extended cut makes the movie more watchable, but that’s it. It is still a horrible movie. I might even go so far to say that this is the worst Superhero movie of all time along with last years Fantfourstic and Catwoman. Oh, there are a lot of other movies with a lower production value, worse acting and more problems overall. But you know what those movies didn’t do? They didn’t try to lie to the audience. They didn’t pretend to have anything to say just to waste the time of the viewer with meaningless references. They didn’t advertise for the sequel in the middle of the third act. They didn’t spend an insane amount of money conning the audience into the belief that they will see a big event movie. And they are bad on a very simple level. I can easily sum up the problems with those movies in a few sentences. With Dawn of Justice I just wrote a long article, and I haven’t even touched some of the aspects I hate about it, like the toxic masculinity it idealises or the way Snyder rips off the work of famous artists for his praised cinematography. Dawn of Justice got a lot of attention, but the only attention it deserves is imho as an example how not to construct a script and put together a movie.

The good news is that I haven’t quite given up on the DCEU yet. I still hope that I might at least get a decent Wonder Woman movie out of this, if nothing else. Those movies which have different screenwriters and directors than Man of Steel and Dawn of Justice might end up being worth the watch. Hopefully.














Music in the Marvel Cinematic Universe

I spend the last months discussing female Comic book character, specifically the ones from the MCU in my main blog, Honoring the Heroine. And watching those movies I noticed something: The strong connection a lot of those movies establish between the character as a certain kind of music. I am not speaking about main themes here. For some reason none of the characters has his own “theme” which carries through all the movie. There is The Avengers-theme, but not isolated themes for the characters. That’s not necessarily a weakness, just something I noticed.

The movies of the MCU often get criticized for their supposedly weak soundtracks. I can’t agree there. I think it is the kind of snap judgement which doesn’t really do the isolated movies justice. Yes, most of them have very understated soundtracks, but like with everything, some composers do better than others.  Personally, I am particularly a fan of the Captain America soundtracks. But that’s not what I want to write about today, but about the music taste of the different characters.

It already started with Iron Man. I got the feeling that when the movie was developed, the first thought on everyone’s mind was: We have to make it modern! So they got rid of the butler, added a lot of futuristic gadgeds and a modern sound. Though I think the main reason they ended up with Heavy Metal was that there already was a song called “Iron man” (even though it had originally nothing to do with the actual) character and the pun. Naturally Iron Man would like heavy metal. But it also fits Tony’s loud and attention-seeking character. Through the first two movies and The Avengers, the writers are really consistent about the connection, Tony is even wearing AC/DC shirts. The only movie which for some reason ignores this is Iron Man 3. And I really don’t get it. The first song in the movie makes sense. After all in this one, it is not Tony who picked the music for the Silverster party, and Mambo Nr. 5 was a big hit in 1999. But when Tony is in the workshop? Yeah, I get that they want to establish that it’s christmas, but there are Heavy Metal versions of christmas songs. If they really wanted Jingle Bells in the movie, why not playing the Charlie Parra’s version?

The Incredible Hulk lacks something along this line. They do play the “lonely man” theme from the TV show at one point, but Bruce himself doesn’t listen to music. This does change in “Age of Ultron” though. Here Bruce is listening to opera music from Bellini. And Bellini just happens to be a musician which is notable for his melancholic themes, and for connecting the romantic with the tragic in his work. That is basically Bruce to a T. He is a tragic figure. While his actions are usually motivated by doing something good, making the world better, he is doomed from the get go. And he acts rarely optimistic about anything. If he were a Winnie-the-Pooh character, he would be Eeyore.

The concept of connecting characters with a special style of music is very strong in the Captain America franchise. Less with the first movie. “Star Spangled Man” is clearly inspired by the original Captain America title song, but that’s the “sound of patriotism”, it is a musical expression of his public persona, but not of himself (I, btw, love the song, but then, I had always a soft spot for Alan Menken). Steve himself doesn’t really listen to music. In The Winter Soldier, though, it is shown that he has a collection of old Jazz. Jazz is also what is mostly used in Agent Carter, which is certainly a good fit for the period, but  not the only choice possible. Apparently Peggy and Steve are connected through their taste in music, too. And in Steve’s case the music is a gentle reminder that he is very much a guy out of his own time.

One of the first things we learn about Falcon is that he is a Marvin Gaye fan. And why am I not surprised that the guy who spends his time helping Veterans to sort out their psychological problems likes Soul? It’s a good fit on so many levels, even though the main reason might have been to have a reason to play a fitting song over the montage at the end. Just knowing that this is the kind of music he likes suggests to the audience that he is a very laid back character.

Do I really have to say what the predominating music in Guardians of the Galaxy is? Peter Quill  and by extension his team is obviously connected to 1970s music. Loud and sometimes silly, but always fun.

Thor is so far lacking a theme song, though he does tend to get connected to triumphant and bombastic scores played on fanfares. Clint and Natasha are, not surprisingly, lack something in the direction, too. But there are enough characters overall which do have such a connection that it is worth noting.

Why do I bother pointing all this out then? Because it is an interesting way to tell the audience something about the characters without spelling it out. That even works with Ultron, who is immediately connected to Pinocchio. There are no strings on him indeed, but he is also constantly trying to become more human during Age of Ultron. It is not unusual for a movie to add a certain song to a specific scene in order to give it more layers. But giving a character layers by connecting him to a specific style of music or a song in-story is way more rare, and usually done in a very predictable and therefore boring way. I mean, how many villains or Nazi’s are there which are totally into German classical music, preferable Wagner? Marvel is guilty of that cliché, too, they used it for Red Skull. But they also did it in a very clever way. So the soundtracks might or might not memorable. But someone certainly put some thought into the music nevertheless.