Hey, who’s up for some bits of news and quick takes? I hope it’s you, because that’s what I have for you today. Yes, at least some of it will be Batman-adjacent because I literally don’t know how to not bring Batman into things. Specifically, let’s talk Humans and the Justice League trailer.
–It seems like the networks have been slow to announce renewals this year. By last year at this time, we had a pretty good idea of what was going to be back. This year, only CBS and the CW have made any kind of mass announcements. And I’d get so much more done during the day if I had some confirmation on Gotham. If any cast member would just promise to call me as soon as there’s news, it would open up a lot of free time for me.
Regardless, cable renewals come out all year round and this week I was delighted to find out that Humans was renewed for a third season. I know the U.S. ratings have not been great and assumed that AMC double-pumped the last four episodes just to get through them. But the world is better than I believed it was and we’re set to get more. And if you followed Season Two, holy smokes, you know we need more.
In a weird parallel to the Westword finale, the season ended with all of the Synths gaining consciousness. But unlike Westworld‘s big splashy action movie take, Humans was quieter and wider. After all, the AI isn’t confined to a theme park that may or may not be on another planet. Humans has Synths completely integrated in society. I think they’ve said there are 1.5 million, but it’s not clear whether that’s in the United Kingdom or worldwide. (And I may have the number wrong. There is not nearly as much Internet chatter about Humans as there should be.) So all over the world, these Synths who clean houses or drive buses or handle dangerous materials are suddenly conscious and sentient. Season Two showed that London wasn’t ready to handle one conscious Synth, let alone all of them. So while I’m not sure what Season Two of Westworld could be about, since it seems like people could just not come to the theme park anymore, Season Three of Humans almost has to be about a world that fundamentally changed in an instant.
And some of the Synths have proven to be monsters. Hester turned out to be a sociopath, casually hurting or killing people to make a point (in the last episodes, she killed Detective Pete and maybe Leo Elster). Niska, bless her heart, is dangerous but not psychotic. (And having her put Hester out of her misery was a supremely gratifying moment.) But with all those Synths clicking into place with fully formed personalities out of the gate, people are going to die. They’re not all going to be Mia or Max. I’m really excited to see how the show presents what is basically a brand new world.
–Gonna be honest with you. That Justice League trailer that’s making the rounds is not very good. After BvS and Suicide Squad, they’re going to have to do a lot to bring me back, and this just looks like more of the same. It’s all gray and grim and you can complete every line of dialogue as soon as it starts. Flash and Cyborg look terrible in different ways. Flash is hilarious overdesigned with a terrible armored costume that does not convey the concept of speed. Cyborg is also much too busy, but he looks like a bad special effect. His body is weirdly blurry and it almost looks like it’s still buffering. And it’s all frowny portent. The Spider-Man trailer that hit this week doesn’t give away much about the plot, but it gives you a sense of what the conflict is and why you should care about this kid. There’s more emotion in the shot of him trying to hold a cruise ship together than in the entire JL trailer, which is mostly people who I’m told are superheroes I like hitting Parademons. Doesn’t it look like the whole movie is going to be the last twenty minutes of Avengers? Also, check out one of the early Avengers trailers. There’s character and emotion in there, while League looks like an angry kid throwing his action figures together and seeing what breaks.
I always get people accusing me of hating DC, but I love DC. The pre-2011 DC Universe is my favorite fictional world. Dark Knight is in the running as my favorite movie. I just got the Justice League of America Bronze Age Omnibus, which is nearly 800 pages of Seventies JLA comics, including the Seven Soldiers of Victory three-party that blew my mind when I was a kid and cemented me as a DC fan, and I am going to read the hell out of that book this weekend. I want to be so excited about DC movies. I want to take a day off from work to see Justice League, but it just looks so bad.
And here’s why I can’t even let myself believe it’ll get better. The nominal plot of Batman v. Superman has Batman deciding that Superman needs to pay for losing sight of the innocent people who died when he fought Zod. Fine. It’s a bad starting point for a superhero universe (especially when Marvel emphasizes that superheroes save people), but it’s a plot. But after they stop fighting because their moms have the same name, Doomsday shows up. Batman decided to lead the unstoppable monster back to Gotham City because he has Kryptonite there. Now, putting Gotham in danger is the second least Batman thing that you can do. (The first would be having him murder people with guns, which the movie also covered.) And it’s pointless because Doomsday brings down his jet right after that line. So Batman could have said, “We can’t bring this thing to Gotham. We make our stand here” and gotten to the same point. But he didn’t. That means Batman’s character arc for the movie is that he goes from protecting the innocent to deciding that it’s OK to endanger people if it makes it easier to kill the thing he’s fighting. And that takes BvS from being a dark slab of teenage anger to being something morally repellent. I have no reason to believe that Zack Snyder understands or believes in the concept of heroism (see his assertions that Superman had to kill in order to decide not to kill again), so I’d rather not watch him bring his nihilism to my favorite characters in all of fiction. I’ve got a lot of Justice League comics and 91 episodes of a really good animated series. I’m tapping out on this one.
On the other hand, the new Wonder Woman trailer is actually quite good. I could do without the slo-mo action scenes, but that seems to be the DC house style. Other than that, it really looks fun. And as I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a huge Wonder Woman fan. But I have friends who are, and they really deserve a good movie.
That’s all for this time. I got wound up at the end there and now I have to watch some Review to calm down. And in all fairness, the Justice League trailer does include a shot of Amy Adams and another of J.K. Simmons’ awesome mustache. That’s something at least.