Celebrating the Unpopular Arts
Three movies I’ve watched from three mythos

Three movies I’ve watched from three mythos

(Originally the title said “watched recently” but it’s been a while).

I don’t normally think of Barbie (2023) as a mythos, and don’t have much to say other than TYG and I thoroughly enjoyed it (and America Ferrara’s speech about the impossible position of women really struck a chord with her). But there’s enough of a Barbie mythology that I wound up googling quite a bit after it was over.

Why was Michael Cera’s Alan not in multiple duplicates like Barbie and Ken? To reflect that Ken’s buddy doll wasn’t very popular. Was there really a Barbie-related doll with breasts you could enlarge? Yep. I imagine Barbie buffs (I’ve known a few though the main one passed before the film) had even more of a ball with this.

I did not have a ball with the DCEU’s Flash (2023) which proves once again that while DC can do awesome TV, it’s developed a tin ear for movies. I kind of suspected as much when Geoff Johns announced the plot would be a riff on his Flashpoint Big Crossover Event. I never cared for Flashpoint in the comics, a sprawling story in which Flash’s attempt to save his mother’s life resulted in so much time disruption that the entire DCU changed, and not for the better. It has enough of a rep that it’s been adapted into the animated Flashpoint Paradox and the third season of the CW’s Flash; even if I thought the original was good, I don’t see the need for another reworking. Still, I heard good feedback on the film (despite the creepy allegations against star Ezra Miller) so when it showed on HBO …
I’m glad I didn’t pay to see it in theaters.

No sooner does Barry Allen (Ezra Miller) lose his last shot at proving his dad didn’t murder Mrs. Allen than he finds a way to travel through time and prevent the killing (unlike the comic and the TV show, it’s a random murder, not Zoom). Barry succeeds but a mysterious time traveler cuts short his return journey so he materializes in his college years. This changes his own history, forcing him to take desperate steps to make sure Past Barry gets his powers — and in the process, Present Barry loses his. As if that’s not enough, he’s disrupted the timeline by—well, deus ex machina—so that when Zod attacks Earth in Man of Steel there’s no Superman, nor any of the other JLA members except an old, retired Batman (Michael Keaton, the high point of the film). Even with a Supergirl (Sasha Calle) they’ve busted out of a Soviet prison, is that enough to avert a Kryptonian invasion?This is another reason I was unenthused about a Flashpoint movie. The DCU has a massive history and countless characters whose lives Flash can disrupt; even the TV show had enough of a mythos to make things interesting (with little changes like Diggle’s kid switching gender and only Barry knows it). The DCEU has only a handful of movies and a lot of them suck. There’s simply not enough material for me to care that Everything Has Changed. I suspect the creative team was aware of this, hence devoting the opening to reuniting the JLA after six years. Otherwise who’d remember them?

And when your big hook is revisiting the execrable Man of Steel

Quite aside from the Flashpoint plot, too much key stuff has already been done by the TV show. Mysterious time travelers manipulating events. Barry learning not to tamper with destiny. The struggle to clear his father. And it was all done better.

Finally we have Fast X (2023), the most recent film in the Fast and Furious series.  Showing the series’ ability to attract A-list guest stars we have Jason Momoa as the son of the crime-lord the team beat in Fast Five, out to avenge Daddy by destroying Dominic (Vin Diesel) and everyone he loved or who’s ever helped him.

As Shaw (Jason Statharn) already did the same thing in Furious Seven, we suffer the perennial series problems of stakes getting raised to ridiculous levels (in Dark Knight Returns, Gotham In Chaos was shocking; now it’s “Tuesday”). Momoa can’t simply kill the team or burn down their houses: he frames them for a nuclear terrorist attack on Rome, targets Shaw and Hobbes (Dwayne Johnson) and sets the late Mr. Nobody’s agency on their tail despite protests from Nobody’s daughter (Brie Larson). It’s such a big and evil plan it has to end on a cliffhanger!

I like Momoa but this role does not play to his strengths. The role is a deranged Joker-wannabe and it doesn’t fit him at all. However Charlize Theron continues to steal all the scenes she’s in as Cypher (“I met the devil and it was disappointing — I thought it was me.”).  I’ll be back for XI because the completist impulses of my comics collecting youth haven’t completely died. That’s about the only reason.

#SFWApro. Covers by Carmine Infantino.




  1. When Geoff Johns is good, he’s very good. When he’s bad, he obsesses over it and keeps reworking the bad idea to either fix it or prove that it was really good all along. The Green Lantern movie could have been good if it wasn’t built around the “yellow fear monster” contrivance he came up with to excuse Hal Jordan having become a genocidal maniac. Well, that and the bad idea of watching Sinestro turn evil. (Pro tip: when your character is named Sinestro, he needs to already be evil at the start of the story. The audience already knows where you’re going.) I’m glad you spared me sitting through the Flash; I knew it was bad but didn’t know why.

    1. You’re welcome.
      That’s a fair assessment of Johns. I’ve read that part of the problem with the movie was studio interference: it was supposed to hide the Parallax reveal until later and make it look like Hammond was the main villain.
      It also bugged me that after setting up Hal’s fearlessness as a weakness, the character arc isn’t “learn not to be stupid reckless” but the usual crisis of confidence every other hero goes through.
      I often felt Johns preferred Sinestro to Hal, given he wrote the Korugarian as stronger and more decisive.

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