‘Gotham City Sirens’, ‘Deadshot’ and the Future of the DC Extended Universe

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Just today, Borys Kit over at the The Hollywood Reporter broke the news that Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment will reunite director David Ayer and star Margot Robbie for the all-female DC villain film, Gotham City Sirens. Robbie will headline the film as well as serve as executive producer, while Ayer is back in the director’s chair. But what does this all mean?

For starters, this could be good thing that Ayer is back. Warner Bros. definitely heard the outcry from critics and fans for giving up his version of Suicide Squad for one created by a trailer company. And while they could have very easily dumped him and looked for someone else to helm this spinoff of a spinoff, Suicide Squad made the studio a ton of cash. Enough so that it’s one of the biggest superhero films of all time, almost surpassing Batman v Superman earlier this year. That, along with the fact that Warner Bros. likes to think of themselves as a “filmmaker-driven studio”, might show that Warner Bros. feels obligated to give Ayer another chance, given the success he gave them (and because they basically took his film from him).

But what does this mean for the DC Extended Universe, which is looking less and less like a coherent universe, but rather one based off reactionary choices? Again, WB isn’t in the wrong for reacting to the response for BvS (if you know me, I think the response that film got was severely underserved, but I digress). However, the way they are trying to “correct” themselves afterwards hasn’t done them any favors either. Suicide Squad was direct result of said “course-correcting”, and that ending up backfiring on them critically. Not only that, but Justice League and The Flash have both been affected as well, the latter even losing it’s second director as a result.

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Now, we have Patty Jenkins‘s Wonder Woman and James Wan‘s Aquaman which seem to be doing fine, but the future of the DCEU beyond those two is a bit cloudy. Like I said earlier, The Flash is having the most BTS issues (funny enough, given he’s appeared in more DC films than any of the other Justice League members at this point), which will most likely move from it’s 2018 date (DC has an untitled release set for July 27, 2018, which many assumed was for the film). And with the news of Warner Bros. trying to fast-track Gotham City Sirens, it seems like they’re eyeing a 2018 for this film, possibly even that July slot.

Personally, I don’t think (and hope) that Ayer and company will get placed in that July date. The last thing we need is to see Ayer get rushed for a deadline again (as he was for Suicide Squad). However, if they do want this spinoff out sooner than later, I think Warner Bros. will move Aquaman, which is looking to start production early this next year.

Let’s say The Flash vacates from it’s March slot. That leaves Aquaman as it’s only release that year, which will certainly not be the case. That also leaves Ben Affleck‘s The Batman, which could possibly take that March slot if Warner Bros. gets things going as fast as some cast members have been hinting at. However, Affleck doesn’t sound too sure about the film being ready to just yet, so WB might hold it off until he’s ready. It could be ready for that October slot if Aquaman moves, but I don’t see a film as high-profile as a Batman film landing in the middle of the fall school year. It has been said that Zack Snyder‘s Justice League has been pushed back in favor of getting The Batman released beforehand, but I think the former won’t be ready until 2020 (at least).

As I see it, The Flash and The Batman will be 2019 releases, while this fast-tracked Gotham City Sirens will be taking the October release that Aquaman has used as a placeholder. If that is the case, it was a smart move to reserve that early October slot in an age where conventional summer releases for big-blockbusters is fading away. WB will make Aquaman it’s summer film alone with Ocean’s 8 (another female ensemble), while reserving the empty month of October with it’s “risky” superhero film. It’d be a similar tactic to the one Disney used when releasing Guardians of the Galaxy at the tail-end of the summer season and being the main money-maker for the whole month.

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Again, this is all speculation at this point, but these “villain” films are clearly more of a priority (and easier to make) than their heavy-hitter DC characters. This is also cemented by the fact that WB also said a Deadshot film with Will Smith is currently in the works. It’s a more interesting sell (villains as leads) while also being bankable enough to work (Batman will most certainly be involved these films). It’s a smart business move, but for the collective “universe” their inclusions feel odd. On one hand, it helps DC feel different from Disney and Fox’s shared universes, but like many have said post BvS, it all feels very reactionary. At least this Gotham City Sirens film will have a great cast and (hopefully) more of Ayer’s vision.

The David Ayer-directed Gotham City Sirens will star and be executive produced by Margot Robbie and currently does not have release date, but like I said earlier, is being fast-tracked by Warner Bros.

“300: Rise of an Empire” Review

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“You fight much harder than you fuck.”

When I first heard about this 300 “sequel”, I was pretty excited. I was a massive fan of the first film and I couldn’t wait to see how they would continue the story with Sparta’s revenge on Xerxes. What I wasn’t expecting was a sequel (and I use that term lightly) that makes absolutely no progress in the overall scheme of things. Nothing that you’ve seen in the first 300 is continued here and instead we get this undeniably ambitious, but confused follow-up that’s too worried about filling in the blanks about what happened before and during the first movie than to actually give the audience what it truly wanted: a sequel.

The opening to the film was where we find our first glimmers of hope, but also some of the films more glaring flaws. The look of this film compared to the first installment is much more muddled and gloomy, giving it a somewhat ugly look. Don’t get me wrong, there are some nice shots, but shooting most of the film during the nighttime was a bad move to begin with. Add to the fact that director Noam Murro (Smart People) doesn’t have anywhere near the visual eye that Zach Snyder did, and you end up with a film that sometimes looks like a direct-to-DVD sequel. Not something I should be saying about a big-budget blockbuster.

The opening, however, showed off the films more stylized and fluid combat scenes, leading to some impressive single-takes of carnage. Sadly, most of the film strays away from hand-to-hand combat in favor of battles at sea. This had the potential to be cool, but the way Murro presents it is in one of the most boring and uninteresting ways imaginable. The music isn’t nearly as powerful here as it was in the first film, and all the set-pieces at sea feel the exact same, leaving us with no tension whatsoever.

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And this wouldn’t be a 300 movie if it wasn’t for some graphic sex scene. And despite the fact that the film is very light of sexuality in general, one scene stood out not only to me, but others who have seen this as well. This scene is between Eva Green (Casino Royale) and Sullivan Stapleton (Animal Kingdom) and it has to be one of the most unnecessary and vulgar sex scenes I’ve seen in a long time. Clearly meant to show who has more power, the two of them throw each other around the room, slapping and strangling each other while having sex. The scene came off not only as unintentionally hilarious, but also quite uncomfortable.

But, quite possibly the biggest flaw of the movie is the point that I made earlier: this isn’t a sequel. Yeah, the last twenty minutes do take place after 300. but it doesn’t continue anything from the first film. The film tries to be a prequel, a midquel, and a sequel all at the same time. This was a very ambitious thing to do, but it seems like the filmmakers didn’t even try. Like I said earlier, the action sequences all look the same, but also the Greek soldiers are practically the same as the Spartan soldiers in the first film. Also, Xerxes’ “rebirth” scene was very poorly done, and I feel could have been focused on much more. But, thanks to the short runtime, the film has no time to stop and develop anything, skimming over seemingly pointless events that happened around the events of the first film.

The only saving grace here is Eva Green, playing the role of the antagonist, Artemisia. Not only does she have a reason to hate the Greeks, but she’s also a total badass and had a great screen presence throughout. I, like many others, agree that she was by far the best thing this movie had to offer.

300: Rise of an Empire had an interesting and daring setup, but instead takes the easy way out and glosses over all of its material. Not only did this hurt the story of the film, but it also makes this film’s presence feel unnecessary all together. Did they really have to make this instead of an actual 300 sequel? Hell, I’m almost positive that Xerxes has the same, if not less screen time than he did in the first film, and this movie at one time was titled Xerxes. Obviously, this was a confused project that should never have seen the light of day. At least not in this fashion.

“Let it be shown that we chose to die on our feet, rather than live on our knees!”

2 out of 5