DC Weekly: 'Suicide Squad' Budget Revealed and 'Dark Knight III' Issue 1 Review

– by Joseph Medina

Welcome to the DC Weekly, where every week we cover the land of DC comics, TV, and movies. Be it random bits of news, TV show reactions, or miscellaneous reviews or speculation, you can be sure to get your DC fix here!

THIS WEEK I talk a little bit about the recently-revealed budget of “Suicide Squad,” and I give you a mini-review of the recently-released comic, “Dark Knight III: The Master Race.”

NEWS-LET

'Suicide Squad' Budget Revealed?

Things seem to be going a bit crazy over at WB. A while back, we heard that “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” had a budget of around $410 million, tying the film with “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” as most expensive film ever made. From everything we heard in regards to that, WB was looking to knock down the budget significantly for the “Justice League” flicks — with the budget for both films to amount to $500 million total (around $250 million each). That’s a little more than half the budget of “Batman v Superman” for each movie. Sounds reasonable.

Given the pedigree and gravitas for those films, it makes sense that they would cost as much as they did. But what about “Suicide Squad?” Sure it’s a movie that’s chock-full of baddies, but as it’s more of an ensemble piece, the film’s budget wouldn’t match up to that of the aforementioned three, would it? 

In a recent interview on “The Howard Stern Show,” actor and comedian Ike Barinholtz — who plays an undisclosed role in “Suicide Squad — gave an offhand mention of the potential budget of the flick.

“This is the biggest movie I’ve ever done by a factor of 10. I mean, I think the budget was north of 250.”

Of course, like any bit of information dropped from an actor, we have to take this with a grain of salt. Actors aren’t exactly knowledgeable when it comes to the properties they’re acting in, especially when it’s as big a film as “Suicide Squad.” However, if this number Barinholtz threw out is even remotely true, then that’s one heck of a budget, and I find myself both comforted and miffed by the whole thing.

While I appreciate that WB and DC are committing their resources so heavily to the projects, I can’t help but feel like they’re just throwing money at a problem in hopes that it’ll turn up a greater project. Not to make any unnecessary Marvel comparisons, but part of the strength of the early films was the relatively frugal use of funds that allowed them to build up to something like “The Avengers.”

What do you think of this budget reveal? Do you buy it? If so, what do you think of WB spending $250 million on the film? Let us know your thoughts down below!

MINI-REVIEW

“Dark Knight III: The Master Race,” Issue 1

“The Dark Knight Returns” is a bona-fide classic. A crucial piece in comic book history that told the tale of Batman coming out of retirement, and ultimately taking on the Man of Steel. Beloved by fans everywhere for its tone and bold storytelling, it went on to become perhaps one of the most influential comics of all time. Its sequel, “The Dark Knight Strikes Again” — well, let's just say it wasn’t my cup of tea, and I think the less said about that one, the better (though I admittedly wonder how much the atrocious art in that one colors my perspective, no pun intended). 

Though even after “Strikes Again” bombed with fans, any follow-up would still carry a certain amount of anticipation with it. This is exactly the case with “Dark Knight III: The Master Race.” 

Leading this sequel are Frank Miller (who returns from the last two series) and Brian Azzarello as the writers.

I have a love-hate relationship with Frank Miller, and it’s a love-hate relationship that I don’t think a lot of comic book geeks have. No matter what your opinion is of his work in the past 15 years, there’s no denying the man’s talent. All that being said, I appreciate the story of the original “Dark Knight Returns” comic more than I actually enjoy reading it. This applies to a lot of Frank Miller’s work for me — even his classic stuff. Great story, but I don’t have a whole lot of fun reading it.

To me, his work tends to feel distant and cold, and while I like what’s happening on the page, I find it incredibly hard to connect with the actual characters of the piece. I don’t feel for them so much as I infer, “This thing is happening to the character, and therefore the logical response is for me to feel x.”

Summon the pitchforks, folks. I know this sounds like another DC-bashing piece, but I swear it’s not.

While Miller’s name is plastered all over the piece, I think, based on the news that Miller was working on “Dark Knight 4,” that this is pretty much a Brian Azzarello joint, and that’s by no means a bad thing. As I mentioned earlier, I have my own problems with even the best of Frank Miller’s writing, and the style Azzarello brings to the story is a much more enjoyable one for me, personally.

With this first issue of “The Master Race,” the story already feels more personal than “The Dark Knight Returns” to me. Yes, Azzarello pulls the talking heads aspect from the original work, as well as the little bits of social commentary (albeit comparatively weak social commentary) Miller is known for, but apart from that, it didn’t feel nearly as distant as I was expecting. While the original comic bombarded us with an unending number of newscasts, this one only has a single double-page spread of them. Once we’re past that bit in this first issue, we’re mostly treated to actual events, which I prefer. It's more visual, and less talkie, and what little talking we actually get hits a bit harder for me, in a good way. 

As far as the actual events go in the story…well, it’s a bit too early to judge. While both “The Dark Knight Returns” and “The Dark Knight Strikes Again,” had incredibly long, meaty issues, this one felt more like a long cold open to a TV show. Not a whole lot happened, and by the end of the issue, I couldn’t help but feel a bit cheated. There simply wasn’t much content to digest, despite the fact that there wasn’t that much of a difference in page count between this and the older comics. More than anything, it’s worth noting that comic book pages have generally trended towards being more visual. Nowadays, it’s not often that we’re treated to the walls of text that we were in the ‘80s, which definitely contributes to my feeling of being cheated.

That being said, it’s worth mentioning that this is an 8-issue series (as opposed to a 4 or 3-issue series), so we have plenty of issues to get through before the end. But at the end of the day, that approach makes this inaugural entry a difficult one to judge, as it barely has enough meat on the bone to kickstart everything.

The character designs and art are great — though I’m not a huge fan of the color palette (though keep in mind, this comes from someone who prefers the colors from the 1980s). It clashes with the art, in that it makes it come off as plainer to me. I look at the characters and environments and see a lot of potential, but the colors seem to simplify way too much, with some panels looking so simple that it’s as if it were meant to be animated. I do have a caveat, in that I adore the colors they used the Wonder Woman scenes, which looked absolutely perfect to me.

Squabbles aside, when it comes down to it, though, I have to ask myself, “Do I want to keep reading?” And the simple answer yes, “Yes.” This issue ends on an intriguing cliffhanger that I won’t spoil (two cliffhangers, actually, if you count the second half of the comic, which is introduced as “The Atom #1,” but ultimately seems like it connects to the main plot). 

I’ve read this issue a few times now, and each time, I come away more enthralled than the last. The writing, while limited, is a huge step up from “The Dark Knight Strikes Again,” and while few will agree with me on this, I found it to be more personally engaging than “The Dark Knight Returns.” Perhaps it’s the emphasis on visuals I love, or the fact that the characters feel more like people to me, but I’m enjoying this quite a bit. 

Will it manage to stand alongside “The Dark Knight Returns” as a seminal piece of work? Probably not. Let’s face it, that comic was partially so influential because of the era in which it was released. All I ask from this one is that it be a great story, and based on the limited issue one so far, I’d say they at least have a solid opener.

What are your thoughts on issue one of “Dark Knight III: The Master Race?” Let us know in the comments down below?

Also, what did you think of the fact that this was a spoiler-free review? Is it something you’d like to see more of, or would you prefer me to delve into the actual plot? Let us know in the comments down below!
 
SOURCE: The Howard Stern Show (via Batman-News)

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