Entertainmental: It’s Time to Get Nerdy

Entertainmental2_7_16_15Superman vs. Batman vs. That Bulge in My Pants
Comic-Con, which was in full nerd rage all week in San Diego, has wrought trailers upon us for upcoming nerd-bait projects like the upcoming Superman/Batman crossover. I watched them all so you don’t have to.

Superman v Batman: Dawn of Justice
Not since Roe vs. Wade has there been a grudge match as hotly anticipated as this one. We finally got a taste of the film every young and young-at-heart fan of the source material has been waiting for. So what did we see? We got our first taste of Ben Affleck as a salt-and-pepper Bruce Wayne, which is in itself pretty cool. This is the first of many iterations (of course not counting George Clooney) to show Bruce Wayne a bit older, as he was in many of the greatest Batman comics, including The Dark Knight Returns, from which this movie is heavily drawing inspiration.

This movie is supposed to be as much a sequel to Man of Steel as it is a jumping-off point for both the new Batman franchise and the Justice League series (DC Comics’ answer to The Avengers).

We also got a brief glimpse of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, Jeremy Irons as Bruce Wayne’s ever-suffering butler Alfred, Holly Hunter as a senator who will take on the “Rowwr! Superheroes are bad!” role that literally every single superhero movie has, and a whole mess of a*s-kicking. There’s pathos out the yang, big explosions, buildings being leveled, and a sweet little stare-down between the masked detective and the big, blue Boy Scout. I am sufficiently intrigued.

Suicide Squad
Speaking of DC Comics’ answer to The Avengers, here’s their answer to Guardians of the Galaxy. Starring Will Smith, Viola Davis, Jared Leto, Margot Robbie, Jai Courtney, Joel Kinnaman, and Common, this story is a hard-edged and violent-looking adaptation of a beloved title. The Suicide Squad is a team of B- and C-list villains who are let out of prison by a shadowy government organization to do its dirty work. As with Guardians, though a lot of these characters will only be recognizable to fans of the comics, there are a couple of really big names floating in the mix, including Batman and the Joker.

There’s been a lot of speculation surrounding Leto’s turn as Mr. J, and whether it would hold a candle to Heath Ledger’s now legendary turn in The Dark Knight.

The jury’s still out, but we did get to see a lot in this trailer, including our first live action iterations of Harley Quinn, Killer Croc, and Deadshot. It all looks pretty dark and amazing, and I’m very excited. Though I do think the trailer erred in its tone, opting for a creepy and disturbing angle instead of the obvious built-in comedy of the source material.

Director David Ayer’s last two films, Fury (2015) and Sabotage (2014), were both pretty decent, and I have high hopes for this property. It also guarantees that 2016 will be a make-or-break year for Marvel Comics’ biggest competitor.

X-Men: Apocalypse
Marvel Studios presence was somewhat understated in San Diego this year, but Fox’s wing of the Marvel properties was very active. They unveiled the trailer for the newest installment in the most successful Marvel property to get a big screen treatment yet, X-Men.

X-Men: Apocalypse will pick up the story where the younger team of X-Men left things in Days of Future Past, 2014’s wildly popular fifth installment of the series. The now traditional post-credits scene on that film gave us a shadowy hint at the super villain we would encounter in the next film, the aptly named Apocalypse. Fans of the comic, as well as fans of the early 90s cartoon adaptation, will no doubt recognize the muscular, blue-skinned megalomaniac as one of the fiercest and most powerful villains in all of comics. Bringing him to the big screen is a risky proposition to say the least.

The trailer, which elicited audible gasps and cheering when it premiered at Comic-Con, gives us a direct look at Apocalypse, not to mention a young punk-haired Storm, a much younger Nightcrawler than the one we saw (played by Alan Cumming) in X2: X-Men United, and a more involved Quicksilver than the one we saw in either Days of Future Past or Avengers 2.

Most importantly we got a good eyeful of Michael Fassbender’s brilliant take on Magneto, which will once again take center stage, and we got a quick glimpse of a newly bald Professor X (a moment that got the crowd really revved).

In addition to Fassbender, who has yet to disappoint in almost any film so far, the new film will bring Oscar Isaac, the wildly talented actor who is blowing up across multiple franchises (including Star Wars) on playing Apocalypse. Obviously it’s still way too early to tell if this movie will be as big as its trailer reveal suggested, but early returns are indeed promising.

One of Marvel’s most “cult” properties is Deadpool, aka Wade Wilson, the fast-talking, fourth wall-breaking, frequently firing but rarely reloading anti-hero killer. We got a brief look at both the promise and the potential disaster of a Deadpool movie with X-Men Origins: Wolverine, a terrible movie that featured a brief bit of inspired Wade Wilson (played by Ryan Reynolds) before turning him into a mute and boring cyborg Deadpool. The movie was so bad, and the imagining of Deadpool so lazy, it almost killed the property for the big screen. But nearly 10 years later, after years of wrangling, Ryan Reynolds returns to give us what we’ve been told is a much more faithful adaptation of the character.

Despite the “raves” coming out of San Diego, this was the only really disappointing trailer in the bunch. Reynolds looks comically ridiculous (I know it’s based on a comic, but that’s still not good) in the suit. The bits of comedy all fell flat (save for a funny bit with the hilarious comedian TJ Miller), the action looked boring, and other than the fact that this one looks like it’ll have an R rating and perhaps some laughs, it doesn’t look promising.

There was one great moment. When lamenting how dumb his suit might look, Reynolds begs them not to make it “glowing green… or animated,” a clear reference to his somewhat unfairly maligned bomb the Green Lantern. Other than that, this one looked like the lone miss in the bunch.

And You’ll Know Us by the Trailer of the Dead
The trepidation and fear of nostalgia-murdering failure has followed the Starz Evil Dead TV show, Ash vs. The Evil Dead, since it was announced last year. As a die-hard fan, I was not above the speculation, and certainly not above the nervousness.

The trilogy of films that serve as the basis for the show occupy a strange realm of fanboy preciousness. On one hand, we all love the unpretentious blue collar air that permeates the series. But on the other hand we’re all sick to death of the bastardization of the source material and adaptation of it by newer generations, culminating in last year’s Evil Dead reboot on the big screen which was slick but ultimately hollow.

All of this is to say, we loved being part of the Army of Darkness cult, just so long as the boat wasn’t too overcrowded by Johnny Comelately douches who weren’t in on the jokes. Which is why when Starz announced they were bringing the films to the small screen for a TV show, we all reacted with… anxiousness.

But then the good news started trickling out. First that the show would actually follow the original Ash, and not some bevy of handsome and sexy teen stars. Then that the inimitable king of the cult fans, Bruce Campbell, would be reprising his greatest role and returning as Ash, and finally the cherry on top: legendary horror/comedy pioneer Sam Raimi would be back producing and directing the madness.

This past weekend, in time to land with all the Comic-Con leaks, we have our first trailer for Ash vs. The Evil Dead. And I have tears in my eyes as I write this. The trailer, which is available online wherever you google the words “Evil Dead,” is nothing short of transcendent. We get to see Ash, now in his 50s and working at a convenience store, we get to see the chainsaw gauntlet, the boom stick, that wry smile, the blood, the chin, some faces from the past, the Necronomicon, and of course, waves of the Evil Dead.

It warmed the cockles of my heart. This Halloween, better buckle up, ‘cause the king is back!

 Hail to the king, baby.

By Ygal Kaufman