Collision Course: Captain America vs. Superman vs. Batman


There are plenty of reviews for Captain America: The Winter Soldier that opened last weekend to kick off the summer movie season (in April?) and pocketed a tidy $93 million dollars even before I sat down in my seat. This isn’t another one of them. It’s just a few thoughts I had that aren’t spoilers, but one might be “spoilerish.”

Saw the fuck out of the flick on Sunday. It’s really good, though I wouldn’t go so far as some to call it “Marvel’s Dark Knight.” Pump ya brakes and slow ya roll.   It is a fun time in the dark, but there’s no Heath Ledger performance anywhere in sight. Certainly not from the Winter Soldier.

If Kevin Feige reads this, it is time for a Black Widow movie. I was surprised by how much screen time Scarlett Johannson had but this was far and away her best turn as Natasha Romanoff. If we wait for DC to finally give Wonder Woman her shot, we’ll be waiting around for another five years or so. I’m convinced the audience will turn out for Black Widow kicking ass in her own movie.

Come on, Kev. Make it happen!

DC/Warner Bros. is in a completely reactive mode where they have squandered their advantages of having a line of iconic super heroes, yet have utterly and completely failed to exploit that edge into successful franchise films without Batman or Superman.

Over the next two years movies featuring Marvel properties include The Amazing Spider-Man 2, X-Men: Days of Future Past and the Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man(?!) and The Avengers: Age of Ultron all up and taking swings at box office supremacy before Superman vs. Batman finally get up to deck in 2016. Two years with nothing to offer is an eternity for a genre of films that has to peak sometime (but hasn’t as of yet).

Oh, and Captain America 3 is already claiming the same 2016 opening week as Supes vs. Bats (does Cap die and Bucky/Winter Soldier pick up the shield as it played out in the comics?). You would think Marvel has to be nuts to go mano a mano against DC’s biggest guns, but they claimed the release date first.

Both of these 500 pound gorillas can’t occupy the same weekend without one being severely wounded by the other. Someone is going to blink and move out of this opening week and I’m willing to bet it will be the one that already moved once already.

Cap ain't afraid of no Superman and his Bat-Buddy either.

Cap ain’t afraid of no Superman and his Bat-Buddy either.

I would expect in a head-to-head competition, Captain America 3 would falter against the joint might of Superman-Batman-Wonder Woman and whomever else the hell DC stuffs into the movie, but if blunts their box office momentum and it doesn’t open to somewhere in the $100 million range, Warner Brothers will need real superheroes to catch all the falling bodies being tossed out of hi-rise office towers.

The trap DC is in is they have bet their entire superhero film future on one movie. This movie can’t underperform or fall short the way Man of Steel did which barely edged out Thor: The Dark World in profitability.    If you’re a Superman fan, how does a Thunder God most people associate with their high school class on mythology give the Last Son of Krypton a run for the money?

It’s because Marvel has followed a plan to build a universe where even it’s “B”list characters can battle DC’s “A” list heroes to a virtual draw.

Marvel has been able to load its gun with several bullets so even if  Thor misses they still have Iron Man, Captain America, and The Avengers locked and loaded with more possibilities for The Hulk, Hawkeye, Black Widow and the Falcon. Marvel mastermind Kevin Feige says they have their movies planned out to 2028! The fact that actors like Sebastian Stan (Bucky/Winter Soldier) are signed to do six to nine pictures makes it clear than when Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans and others “age out” or are done slipping on the spandex, the franchises will go on and on and on…

I don’t see a similar game plan from DC/Warner. They are dealing with a recast Batman, David Goyer and Zack Snyder turned loose without a Christopher Nolan to reign in their worst excesses (and Nolan disagreed with their decision to have Superman kill Zod).

Nolan is gone to pursue his own vision and while the hope is Snyder/Goyer will successfully set up a Justice League franchise it all hinges on Supes/Bats doing billion dollar business.

It could all come together as planned. But if it doesn’t DC isn’t as well-positioned as Marvel to overcome a cinematic setback.

As for Captain America: The Winter Solider, it’s really good. Easily the best superhero movie I’ve seen since The Avengers. Chris Evans has really grown into the role of Steve Rogers/Captain America. Anthony Mackie’s Falcon is good. Samuel Jackson finally gets to do more as Nick Fury than stand around and glower. Scarlett Johannson surprised me in how central her role was in my enjoyment of the flick.

I give it a solid “B+” and I’d take my wife with me for a second viewing.

"Let's tell Disney to give you your own film right now!"

“Let’s tell Disney to give you your own film right now!”




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“I’ll Persuade You” and The Black Widow Does.

“Is it hot in here or is it just all this leather I’m wearing?”

When you make a movie that grosses over a billion dollars and shatters box office records like The Avengers, every little detail of it is going to be picked apart, analyzed, and dissected down to its essence trying to figure out how it became such a category crossing sensation that defies demographics and appeals to teenagers, couples, families, fanboys of all ages, races, shapes and sizes.

It’s a major plus to hire a director who likes his women characters and treats them as important components instead of pretty girls in tight spandex.

The Black Widow can’t fly, doesn’t wear a suit of high-tech armor, doesn’t sport a mystical hammer, unbreakable shield, or get big mean and green, but that doesn’t mean she has no game. Of all the incredible things Joss Whedon put into The Avengers he gave a second-string super heroine major game.

Black Widow 2.0 is a vast improvement over her uselessness in Iron Man 2 she almost seems like a brand new character despite being played by the same actress. In the trailers, the Widow and Hawkeye looked like they were there to fetch coffee for Cap and Iron Man. Whedon was crafty to not give away what he had planned for Natasha Romanoff. . More screen time than Thor, Bruce Banner or Hawkeye and third behind Captain America and Iron Man.

Just don’t believe Scarlett Johansson got the role of Black Widow based upon her immense acting abilities as opposed to how hot she looks in a completely impractical outfit so tight if she you can tell if a coin in her pocket is heads or tails.  There’s plenty of beefcake in The Avengers. Let’s not pretend the Black Widow’s primary power isn’t eye candy, but to Johansson, Whedon and co-screenwriter Zak Penn’s infinite credit, they made Natasha Romanoff so much more than that.

Pretty people get cast as superheroes.  Even if they wear masks, they tend to lose them exposing the actor’s face.  If you’re an incredibly good-looking dude like Chris Evans or Chris Hemsworth, that’s  understandable.  Lucky for Johansson she’s both pretty and plays a character that doesn’t hide her looks behind a mask. Looking pretty and occasionally punching out someone was all she was given to do in Iron Man 2. 

It sure helps to work with a director who likes female characters.

So I wasn’t excited to see the Black Widow was an Avenger until I saw The Avengers.  Whedon is justifiably being lavished with praise for doing the following:

  • Fixing the problem of two previous attempts to present the Hulk as something more than a CGI hot mess.
  • Made a superhero movie fun instead of dark, grim and gritty without making it dumb.
  • Turned a supporting character who was previously little more than sexy wallpaper into a valuable member of a group instead one of their weakest links.  And she’s still sexy.
  • Doubled the expectations that The Dark Knight Rises can’t get away with just being good; now it has to be great.

Sexism has been a part of the comics as long as there have been women in comics. All you have to do is look at how often Wonder Woman is depicted bound and chained. Despite DC’s “New 52” revamp, while Superman got out of his “undies on the outside” look, they put Wonder Woman back in her one-piece bathing suit. The more things change….

That’s why the Black Widow runs around in curve-hugging black leather that is all but useless in a fight, but  looks cool.  Whedon likes to give his actresses interesting things to do and say, but he has to pander to popular tastes too and guys really like women kicking ass in tight clothes.   As least she’s not wearing heels.

One of the last frontiers for the super hero genre is to make a successful one featuring a super heroine.  Wonder Woman seems like a no-brainer, but DC Comics has been inept at making movies featuring characters not named Superman and Batman.  Hollywood is reluctant to put millions into a movie featuring women or minorities as the center of attraction.

The speculation Marvel will greenlight a solo Black Widow film is running rampant on the Internet, but like most things online, doubt everything until the ticket stub is in your hand.  It could happen and it should happen, but whether it does happen is no sure thing.

I’m taking my nephew to see the movie tomorrow.  He won’t care if the Black Widow is a strong hero or an objectified sex object. . All he’ll care about is how much butt she kicks.  He might also take a long look at how her butt looks.

Yeah, you think it’s easy kicking butt in skin-tight leather? Try it sometime.