I didn’t make it to CinemaCon this year in Las Vegas but I just checked with two reporters who attended and both said they were enthused about the footage from The Flash, the Warner Bros adaptation of the DC hero nicknamed the “the fastest man alive.”
The film project certainly hasn’t matched the hero’s pace, not after years of delay. The star of the film is Ezra Miller, who portrayed the character in Justice League and has been essentially running in place ever since then. (The actor has also been featured in the Fantastic Beasts franchise, also for Warner Bros.)
I’m mostly interested to see the performance by Michael Keaton as Batman in The Flash, which is a multiverse story with alternate universe versions of established characters. Ben Affleck is also in Batmode in the film and is hanging up the cowl after four screen performances.
Keaton returning to the role that he last portrayed in 1991 is especially fascinating given the actor’s recent screen history. Keaton won an Oscar for Birdman and then brought true acting menace to the MCU with his great turn as Adrian Toomes, aka the Vulture, the classic Spider-Man villain.
The acting choices that Keaton made for the role are sure to be interesting but it’s hard to get a bead on the extent of his screen presence, as allowed both (initially) by the material and (in the end) by the film’s final cut.
It's interesting that the Marvel Universe is dominant in its popularity and breadth but Gotham City remains the most compelling proving ground for actors and the site of the most “must see” performances. Consider the anticipation leading up to the Gotham debuts of Keaton, Jack Nicholson, Michelle Pfeiffer, Tom Hardy, Affleck, Anne Hathaway, Jared Leto, Joaquim Phoenix, Robert Pattinson, Colin Farrell. Not all have been transcendent, of course, but they have accounted for two Oscars. And that’s the Ultimate Nullifier in any superhero cinema debate about acting credibility.
I don’t imagine we will see any shots of Keaton and Affleck in Batsuits side-by-side in The Flash. The actors represent the opposite ends of the height/weight range for all the actors who have portrayed the Caped Crusader on the big screen in live-action productions. Affleck is 6-foot-3 and about 220, Keaton is 5-foot-9 and a buck fifty.
Jack Sparrow vs Queen Mera
It’s under 40 days now if, like me, you’re eager to watch the return of The Boys (Amazon Prime Video, June 3) and its deliriously lurid tales about hot-mess superhumans behaving badly. In recent days, however, I realized that celebrity news is getting closer and closer to the surreal scandals that envelop the “supes” from The Boys. Here’s a recap of the latest tawdry headlines about our own larger-than-life citizenry but real-world names have been changed to protect the insolent.
Headline: Pirate to Android: Let’s Burn the Sea Queen!
The sordid private lives of Jack Sparrow and Queen Mera have been on public display in a Fairfax, Virginia, courtroom in an ongoing defamation suit.
Testimony has included revelations regarding Sparrow’s suspicions about an affair between his Atlantean wife and the second Green Goblin.
The evidence in the defamation case also includes text messages exchanged by Sparrow (aka the first Gellert Grindelwald of the Wizarding World) and the android Avenger known as The Vision. In one text, the Black Pearl buccaneer encouraged the synthetic superhero to attack Mera with his energy projection powers. “Let’s burn [Mera]!” The Vision’s reply was in the oddly chipper tones that make synthetic people seem eerie and obsequious to the human ear: “I’m not sure we should…She is delightful company and pleasing on the eye. We could of course do the English course of action and perform a drowning test. Thoughts? You have a swimming pool."
Experts say drowning an Atlantean is impossible. Debate has now turned to whether the Vision, formerly known as the A.I. Jarvis, may have been attempting human humor to bond with the trickster pirate. Jarvis was created by Tony Stark.
Revelations that Vision indulged in illegal drug use with the legendary hedonist Sparrow has been a shock to leading android experts and an embarrassment for the Avengers.
Moon Knight has also been in the headlines in recent days for gobbling hallucinogenic mushrooms with Harrow, his current archenemy. The mysterious Moon Knight is new to the hero business and may have forgotten that action figures are a big revenue stream which is why heroes are encouraged by their agents to “keep it PG.”
The hero getting the most troubling legal attention in recent weeks is the fastest man alive, the Flash, who may need to slow his roll after multiple arrests, a restraining order, and a karaoke confrontation all took place in Hawaii in less than a week.
A spokesman for one of the superhero guilds shared a social media message imploring the public to forgive the heroes who tumble from their elevated altitudes. “Try not to judge them harshly. Remember, just because someone can fly it doesn’t mean they walk on water."
I heard back from a dozen readers about my newsletter on Leonard Nimoy and the 1952 photograph that I gave him when we first met in 2009. Some asked if I ever got in trouble at the Los Angeles Times for pinching the vintage black-and-white print from the paper's archives (I did not) and a few asked whether the picture of Nimoy arranging my hand into a Vulcan salute was taken at his Bel Air home (it was). If its Nimoy’s home then why is my last name emblazoned on the wall? That isn’t my name, it’s Dutch artist M.C. Escher’s name, if memory serves me well.
A few readers also expressed surprise that Nimoy had three Emmy nominations for portraying Spock on the original series. To secure a nomination for all three seasons that Star Trek aired on NBC (1966, 1967, 1968) was certainly an impressive feat, especially given the Academy’s historical reputation for disregarding science fiction programming. Nimoy’s nominations weren’t the only acknowledgement for the groundbreaking NBC show. The first two seasons of Star Trek were both nominated for Emmys in the marquee category recognizing the outstanding dramatic series.
Why did Star Trek get canceled if it was getting awards attention as well as decent ratings? Thousands of fans posed similar questions to NBC in the late 1960s with an avalanche of cards and letters imploring the network to let the USS Enterprise continue on toward its promised five-year mission. The plug was pulled on the show anyway. Show creators pointed to the production costs and resources gobbled up by an hourlong interstellar adventure series that requires new worlds and new civilizations on a weekly basis. In total, only 79 episodes of Star Trek aired during the original run.
Here’s a curious broadcasting footnote about the series finale. Star Trek premiered in September 1966 and, after the cancellation decision, the series finale was scheduled to air on March 28, 1969. On that fateful date, however, NBC preempted their planned programming to report the death of former President Eisenhower. That left the final episode, Turnaround Intruder, in limbo until the summer when it was shuffled in with the Season 3 reruns.
That episode, by the way, is the one where Captain Kirk swaps bodies with a malicious woman from his past, Dr. Janice Lester, providing William Shatner with an opportunity to portray a histrionic woman with a grudge. I can say without a doubt that, to my mind, it’s the absolute worst episode of the original series. Numerous publications and websites have ranked every episode of the classic show and they’ve reached much the same conclusion.
All the talk about the three Emmy nominations for Nimoy made me realize that I didn’t know who actually went home with the trophy in the end each year. Here’s what I found. These results, again, are all for the same category: Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series
1967 Eli Wallach won for The Poppy Is Also a Flower. Nimoy and Leo G Carroll (The Man from U.N.C.L.E.) were the other nominees.
1968 Milburn Stone won for portraying “Doc” Adams on Gunsmoke. Nimoy, Lawrence Dobkin (CBS Playhouse) and Joseph Campanella (Mannix) were the other nominees.
1969 Werner Klemperer won for portraying Col. Klink on Hogan’s Heroes.
The Poppy is also a Flower was Xerox-funded program made in conjunction with the United Nations. It was part of the series of television movies that began in 1964 with A Carol for Another Christmas, the eerie yuletide fantasy tale that team Rod Serling and Peter Sellers. If you’re curious to read more, check out my newsletter on that unsettling television artifact.
If you’re curious about the unlikely confluence between the Man from U.N.C.L.E. and hip-hop icon Dr Dre, then check out my newsletter on that very topic.
And if you want to know how Col. Klink could ever edge out Mr. Spock in any competition, you’re asking the wrong guy. I know nothing, Col. Hogan, I know nothing…