Mid-Week Musings: The DCEU reset button!

One announcement caught my attention at SDCC, that the upcoming (and much troubled) ‘Flash’ movie will be an adaptation of the ‘Flashpoint’ storyline. With this decision, DC have essentially built a reset switch into their extended universe.

All I know of the ‘Flashpoint’ storyline is really taken from the way ‘The Flash’ TV show used it last season, though I know it was adapted considerably to fit the ‘Arrowverse’. Essentially, Barry Allen can run so fast he time travels, but his actions in the past cause an alternate timeline to form, so when he returns to what should be his present, things are considerably different.

This plot device will open the way for so much change in the DCEU, essentially giving them the ability to change things radically with the one-word explanation ‘flashpoint’ being all that’s needed to justify it. There could be new casting, probably in favour of younger actors who are up to the challenges of a decade worth of film commitments. Possibly even undoing story arcs that have gone down badly with audiences, an odd wiping their own sullied slate clean. Maybe even bringing back characters from the dead.

It’s a fascinating move that DC have set this film for release in the next couple of years, though it was originally intended to be released March 2018, planning in advance a film that will have to be used to cause at least some considerable changes or else be wasted and criticised for not really being ‘Flashpoint’. I feel like this suggests a distinct lack of confidence in their unfolding universe. Maybe saving this for a second Flash film in a few more years would have been a better move, a tool to pull out when things have been otherwise exhausted to usher in a new set of characters and younger casting as contracts end or actors move on to more varied projects.

I wonder if this was one of the reasons that they couldn’t keep directors linked to the film, as they were likely being told to pencil things in, or leave wiggle-room for big adjustments so that their film could be used in any way required to soft-reboot the franchise. Hopefully, they will manage to get the ink dried on a deal with Lord and Miller to direct, as for my tastes their tone would be very welcome in the DCEU.

It’s not that I don’t want to see a big-screen ‘Flashpoint’ adaptation, it sounds fascinating and potentially very exciting as audiences will have no end to the possibilities of what could come next. Still, I can’t get over the feeling that it’s preempting failure and possibly self-fulfilling low-expectations.

With Joss Whedon reportedly working hard on extensive re-shoots for ‘Justice League’ with only a few months to go before release, Matt Reeves restarting writing ‘The Batman’ as rumours persist that Ben Affleck won’t stay around for many more films, as well as Geoff Johns and Patty Jenkins already working apace on ‘Wonder Woman 2’ as the most anticipated of the coming DCEU films, all these filmmakers (and associated casting choices) will have to raise their game if they want their versions of these characters to stick around beyond the Flash’s solo movie.

Mid-Week Musings: Wonder Woman and her Enduring Love (Spoilers)

Would you look at that! ‘Wonder Woman‘ has done far better than anyone expected. After the DCEU’s preceding films ‘Batman v. Superman‘ and ‘Suicide Squad’ were such disappointments and widely derided as soon as the initial fervour waned, expectations for Diana’s solo opener were considerably lowered, something I felt the effect of. It’s weirdly pleasing then to see how it has broken records weekly, probably becoming the most successful film of the new DCEU and still going strong at the box office in many places, as well as being the highest-grossing film ever by a female director.

It’s no surprise then to see that ‘Wonder Woman 2’ has already been confirmed, potentially able to overtake the production of another ‘Man of Steel’ movie, likely the troubled ‘The Flash’ solo movie, maybe even ‘The Batman’ if that continues to have issues. One reason I and others want to see another film with this character and by the same creative team is the vastly-improved tone, as ‘Wonder Woman’ brings a sense of fun and joy to the DCEU that has been missing for years, including a romance that’s actually believable. For more extensive thoughts on this read my spoiler-free review here.

There will be spoilers for ‘Wonder Woman’ from this point on, so if you haven’t yet seen the film and don’t want key points spoilt maybe read the rest of this after you’ve seen it. 

As discussion began on the sequel, rumours surfaced that Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) may be set to return in the second movie. This may surprise you as 1) he ostensibly died at the end, you can’t have missed that, it was big! And 2) the second film is (possibly) being set in the 80’s so if living he would be pretty old. Not blessed with her magical genes, he won’t age as gracefully as Diana, so theoretically he would be a nonagenarian beset by all the human ails that go along with such advanced years.

So, how could his return work?

I have a few interesting thoughts that are not ‘spoilers’ per-se as I have not based them on any comic book basis (that I know of as I haven’t read any of them). Well, in my full review of the film I tried very hard to avoid drawing comparisons with ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’ as many had already done, but I think there may be some ways the writers could resolve this issue by drawing upon (read ‘copying’) ways that franchise has kept characters alive despite all attempts to kill them and the large jump in time.

Firstly, the Wonder Woman TV show in the 70s had Steve Trevor Jr. so that’s a possible option to give Pine a way in. It would be weird, weirder than Captain America dating Peggy’s great-niece, yet completely possible. However, the film offered no real solid reason to think Steve had a child. There are a few comments about him never marrying (at least not successfully), maybe hinting he had a past love, though I’d say it’s a real stretch to take these few lines and see an underlying sub-text suggesting he has a son.

The second most likely way we might see Chris Pine’s Steve Trevor is with a flashback scene of some sort. I have no idea what this would be about or how it would fit into the story, maybe something to explain the existence of a son so that Jr. can be introduced.

For me, there’s a more interesting option, one that the film does leave just enough room for in the narrative and editing of Steve’s death (we don’t see him engulfed in flames up close, possibly as it would change the rating). Dr Moreau and Ludendorff filled that plane (we believe) with their deadly gas, though we know she also had another concoction, the strength-enhancing vials she gives her mentor. What if, the plane had the deadly gas and/or that completely different substance?

Imagine these scenarios for a moment. If Steve had even just some of the good stuff and made use of it before being engulfed in a fireball, maybe it would be just enough to give him the resilience to survive the flames and fall. True, that would then raise the question why he didn’t make his way back to Diana by the end of the historical part of the film, or the actual end of the film (which is decades later and plenty time even on foot to find her).

However, let’s go even more into the ‘Captain America’ comparison with an unlikely extensive ripping off of the ‘Winter Soldier’. Imagine the plane was being filled with the strength-enhancer instead of the deadly gas. In which case, when it exploded, Steve would have been engulfed in an intense extreme overdose, in comic book and superhero tropes (just think of any heroes created by a chemical spillage) enough to make him invincible, near immortal, likely even slowing the effects of ageing. However, I’ve learnt in my extensive study of the genre that these powers can take a little time to have an effect, sometimes making their recipient unwell or even unconscious for a time. Therefore it would incapacitate Steve, making him vulnerable to amnesia, capture, brainwashing, all the usual features that allow for massive plot twists many years in the future.

Surely they won’t do this with ‘Wonder Woman 2’, after the many and clear similarities to ‘Captain America’ it would just be asking for more unfavourable comparisons, and pretty unoriginal. Though we must remember, in this world of comics almost anything is possible and beloved characters almost never truly die. If they want to repeat the much-prasied chemistry, the writers will find a way!