Superman: Modern Day Socrates

In Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill vol.2, Bill has a very interesting monologue. Perhaps the most famous monologue in the entire two-part saga.

The essence: he slices through the very nature of Superman, and argues for the idea that Clark Kent is the image Superman perceives of us, as a species, as the human race.

Here’s the speech:

(edited to remove spoilers)

As you know, l’m quite keen on comic books. Especially the ones about superheroes. I find the whole mythology surrounding superheroes fascinating. Take my favorite superhero, Superman. Not a great comic book. Not particularly well-drawn. But the mythology… The mythology is not only great, it’s unique.

[…]

Now, a staple of the superhero mythology is, there’s the superhero and there’s the alter ego. Batman is actually Bruce Wayne, Spider-Man is actually Peter Parker. When that character wakes up in the morning, he’s Peter Parker. He has to put on a costume to become Spider-Man. And it is in that characteristic Superman stands alone. Superman didn’t become Superman. Superman was born Superman. When Superman wakes up in the morning, he’s Superman. His alter ego is Clark Kent. His outfit with the big red “S”, that’s the blanket he was wrapped in as a baby when the Kents found him. Those are his clothes. What Kent wears – the glasses, the business suit – that’s the costume. That’s the costume Superman wears to blend in with us. Clark Kent is how Superman views us. And what are the characteristics of Clark Kent. He’s weak… he’s unsure of himself… he’s a coward. Clark Kent is Superman’s critique on the whole human race.

–Bill, from “Kill Bill vol.2” (2004)

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David S. Goyer on Screenwriting

David S. Goyer is one of the most influential writers in film and television today. He’s responsible, along with Christopher Nolan, for reinvigorating the comic-book film adaptation scene with Batman Begins, and is the creator and writer for Da Vinci’s Demons (one of my favourite series on at the moment).

Goyer is a brilliant screenwriter. His stories are compelling, action-packed and filled with enough gravitas to ensure dramatic tension befitting the nature of his iconic characters, whether it’s Batman, Leonardo da Vinci or Superman.

In this lecture and interview with the British Academy of Film and Television, he talks about the craft, about his start as a young screenwriter, and his process on the Batman films, Man of Steel, Blade (for which he got his big break as a writer in Hollywood), Da Vinci’s Demons (and why writing for television is becoming more attractive for writers over films), and writing for video games.

It’s an excellent video, very informative and entertaining. A must watch for anyone interested in the craft of screenwriting, films, comic books and television.

The Next Cinematic Universe: Batman, Comic-Con and Beyond

superman-vs-batman-movie-2016

Comic-Con San Diego is next month, and even though I’m not attending (since I live on the other side of the world…) the inner nerd in me is going mental with excitement. Warner Bros. and DC are expected to make the biggest announcement in superhero cinema history since the reveal of the Avengers film.

Shooting for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is currently underway, and there are rumors abound of a possible clip from what’s been shot that might be shown at the Warner Bros. panel. This would be the first time we see Superman, Ben Affleck’s Batman, and possibly Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman sharing screen space.

The other major rumoured reveal will be a staggering three-film-a-year announcement, stretching from 2016-2018, including the fabled Justice League ensemble film, as DC plays catch-up to Marvel’s spectacularly successful cinematic universe.

For us cinema fans, this is welcome news. It means we’ll get more superhero movies released, and a wider variety of heroes, settings and story lines. For Marvel, it will finally be serious competition, and they will be forced to up their game as we enter Phase 3 of their Cinematic Universe, helmed by Lord of the Nerds Mr Joss Whedon.

DC’s possible cinematic universe will not be the first time that a studio other than Marvel attempts to craft a successful, shared-story arc that binds multiple films, characters and creative talent. Fox has attempted this with the X-Men franchise to a large degree of success, and there’s talk of Sony expanding the Spider-Man world. However, whilst Marvel has split licensing agreements across various studios, only being able to craft their Cinematic Universe with Avengers heroes (and why we won’t see any X-Men or even Spidey show up in a MCU film), DC has the advantage of owning some heavyweight titles – Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman – that, if put together thoughtfully in a shared story world could be potentially amazing.

What’s remarkable, if the rumour is true, is the incredibly tight time frame that DC plans to unleash this plethora of films chronicling the adventures of some beloved heroes and villains. They’re not doing a slow-burn build-up to an ensemble film. Batman v Superman, the next outing with our new Henry Cavill Superman, already has the three heavyweights sharing screen space. Dawn of Justice will undoubtedly build to the next possible film, Justice League. This is unlike Marvel’s process with Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America preceding Avengers. I guess Warner Bros. is feeling the heat, and needs to get their “DCCU” up to speed as soon as possible. I just hope they don’t rush things – the last thing we want is for the highly-anticipated Justice League to be a total let down.

It will also be intriguing to see whether they choose to integrate their existing television shows into the new universe. Arrow and Flash will be sharing a common universe next season, and there’s the premiere of Gotham that could provide a back story to the events of the DCCU.

Other rumoured films to round-out this other Cinematic Universe will be a standalone Aquaman film… and the film many have been waiting for for a long time: Wonder Woman. It is said that the Dawn of Justice release date was pushed back to 2016 to allow for script adjustments to accommodate a proper cinematic universe that would see this Wonder Woman film delve deeper into Diana Prince’s backstory and build-up to her famous super-guise. This, along with the Justice League ensemble feature are what I’m looking forward to most in the new DC Cinematic Universe.

We’ll have to wait until San Diego Comic Con next month to truly find out what Warner Brothers and DC Comics have up their sleeves. One thing’s for sure: it will be super.

An interesting perspective on Superman

Bill: As you know, l’m quite keen on comic books. Especially the ones about superheroes. I find the whole mythology surrounding superheroes fascinating. Take my favorite superhero, Superman. Not a great comic book. Not particularly well-drawn. But the mythology… The mythology is not only great, it’s unique.
The Bride: [who still has a needle in her leg] How long does this shit take to go into effect?
Bill: About two minutes, just long enough for me to finish my point. Now, a staple of the superhero mythology is, there’s the superhero and there’s the alter ego. Batman is actually Bruce Wayne, Spider-Man is actually Peter Parker. When that character wakes up in the morning, he’s Peter Parker. He has to put on a costume to become Spider-Man. And it is in that characteristic Superman stands alone. Superman didn’t become Superman. Superman was born Superman. When Superman wakes up in the morning, he’s Superman. His alter ego is Clark Kent. His outfit with the big red “S”, that’s the blanket he was wrapped in as a baby when the Kents found him. Those are his clothes. What Kent wears – the glasses, the business suit – that’s the costume. That’s the costume Superman wears to blend in with us. Clark Kent is how Superman views us. And what are the characteristics of Clark Kent. He’s weak… he’s unsure of himself… he’s a coward. Clark Kent is Superman’s critique on the whole human race. Sorta like Beatrix Kiddo and Mrs. Tommy Plimpton.

Superman is arguably the most recognizable hero. This is one of my favourite monologues from Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill movies. It challenges the conventional notion that the superhero is a kind of apotheosis of mankind. It suggests that the mask is a facade that represents humanity’s cowardice, contrasting it with Superman’s alienness that distinguishes him from the rest of his super-brethren. Superman is inherently alien, yet his upbringing by humans instills in him a strong moral focus that guides his later adventures as guardian of our species. Here, we explore an idea of how the Man of Steel perceives the human race, contrary to what preconceived notions are of his übermensch-like conception.

I’m curious to see how Zack Snyder and co. will continue to represent him in the ever-expanding DC Cinematic Universe.