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Film Facts:

Oblivion – Released in 2013, starring Tom Cruise. Directed by Joseph Kosinski and based on the unpublished graphic novel by Kosinski and Arvid Nelson.

oblivion New York City shot

The Apocalypse Scenario:

“Are you an effective team?”

Earth has been devastated by extra-terrestrial war. An alien called “the Scavengers” attacked Earth for its resources, destroying the moon and invading the planet. The loss of the moon caused tsunamis, earthquakes, and other ecological disasters. Humanity defended against invasion with nukes, and the combination left Earth “uninhabitable.” The film takes place in New York City, which is completely buried except for a few iconic locations like the top of the Empire State Building.

Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) explains that the hope for humanity’s future is in sucking up the ocean and emigrating to Saturn’s largest moon, Titan. A huge ship called “the Tet” orbits Earth and oversees the collection of resources and evacuation. The mission is regularly sabotaged by the “Scavs.”

Jack and Tets

The Year:

2077. Earth was attacked 60 years ago. In the opening narration, Jack reveals that he’s been on this assignment for 5 years.

oblivion chase statue of liberty

What They’ve Run Out Of:

Memories.
The film opens with an narration about a mandatory memory-wipe 5 years ago. Jack and Victoria have dreams of their past life which they are instructed to dismiss. Most of the film involves Jack’s reluctance to leave Earth and exploring his mysterious pre-wipe memories. In the-house-that-Jack-built, we see books, record players, a basketball hoop, and other American nostalgia.

Oblivion works on mystery, so if you haven’t seen the film yet I suggest skipping the rest of this review.

***SPOILERS BELOW***

Later, it is revealed that Jack and Victoria are actually clones. The Tet is not a human space station, but an alien ship that captured a team of astronauts (the original Jack and Victoria) and cloned them repeatedly for 60 years in order to invade Earth and steal its resources.

Oblivion sky tower

What this Film Adds to the Post-Apocalyptic Genre:

Shiny.
Oblivion is a beautiful movie. Boasting a sleek design and incredible special effects, its a wonder to behold. There’s some gorgeous, almost Avatar rivaling landscape shots of post-apocalyptic New York City. The Tet’s futuristic design features brilliant whites and steel grays. When most of this genre takes places in the Mad Max wasteland, Oblivion’s Apple-store look is refreshingly cool.

Vika in the Sky Tower

Aliens and Earth.
The concept is fascinating and original: an extra-terrestrial AI invades planets by cloning the best and brightest of the indigenous race for their invasion force. Once they’ve won the war, the clones are then wiped of their memory, given a compelling backstory, and put to work harvesting resources. The result is a hope that humans, even when indoctrinated by evil forces, can be redeemed.
Most post-apocalyptic movies are about nuclear war, greed, and human depravity decimating everything. Oblivion gives us a hopeful look at the connection between people and the Earth. Even though Jack is supposed to leave for Titan, he’s inexplicably drawn to nature. Despite the comforts of the Sky Tower and romance with Vika, he cannot shake the feeling that Earth is where people belong. Jack breaks many rules to grow plants, and even builds a secluded cabin refuge. There is not only something about humanity that needs Earth, but Earth herself flourishes under human care.

Oblivion Jack's plant

Isaac’s Rating:

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2.5 Zipped Lips

Oblivion is a mixed bag. To its credit, its a gorgeous, fast-paced, sci-fi mystery with lots of twists and turns. The design, soundtrack, and special effects (both practical and cgi) are all beautiful. Its weakness is that most of the dramatic moments feel borrowed from other films. The action scenes have cliches we’ve seen countless times before; what is supposed to be suspenseful and climactic feels humdrum by the 3rd act. Even Morgan Freeman’s character (who gets about 5 minutes of screen-time) is mailed in.

Your enjoyment of Oblivion will greatly depend on your ability to infer cause-and-effect from little exposition. When the credits rolled, I wasn’t sure what was a glaring plot hole, or is simply an unsupported twist that I’m supposed to figure out on my own. Its too bad that such an original idea was executed in a run-of-the-mill fashion.

Overall, I enjoy and recommend Oblivion for its unique setting and visually sleek, sci-fi contribution to the genre. Don’t forget to check out the rest of our movies in the Post-Apocalyptic Roundup!

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Film Facts:

Waterworld – Released in 1995, starring Kevin Costner and directed by Kevin Reynolds. (11 years before Al Gore’s famous An Inconvenient Truth.)

The Apocalypse Scenario:

Water covers the entire surface of the planet. Pollution and oil drilling caused the polar ice caps to melt and drown the earth in several hundred feet of water. Humanity survived by building small floating villages on bits of scavenged ships and other debris. Most of the characters travel on sailboats, trading food and trinkets of the old world to survive. There are myths of a fabled “dryland,” but no-one has even seen it. A villainous group called “the Smokers” kill and plunder in their endless search for oil (insert anti-capitalist cliches here). A few humans have mutated, developing webbed feet and gills to better survive in the ocean depths.

waterworld spyglass

The Year:

2500. While the movie gives no time reference, the production designer said “the date was 2500.” Enough time has passed since the apocalypse that no-one has ever stepped on dry land. Fishnets, fish-bones, and various maritime gear make up the costumes.

waterworld town

What They’ve Run Out Of:

“Nothing’s free in water world.”

Land.
Despite its infamous faults, Waterworld gives us a unique look at what would happen to civilization if there was no land. Fruit, paper, clean water, a handful of dirt; things we take for granted become priceless commodities in this aquatic wasteland. When someone dies, their body is “recycled” in a vat of muddy goo that eventually biodegrades into dirt. The film opens with Kevin Costner peeing into a cup, which he then pours into a filtering machine and takes another drink. (There’s a fitting metaphor for this film in there somewhere.)

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What this Film Adds to the Post-Apocalyptic Genre:

“Mad Max on water.”
From story, to visuals, to over-the-top insane villains, Waterworld seems to be a cut and paste job of the Mad Max filmsMel Gibson’s lone antihero “Mad Max” becomes Kevin Costner’s bland “The Mariner.” Crazy biker gangs tearing across the desert wasteland in search of gasoline are now jet-ski gangs racing across the ocean in search of gasoline.

Despite borrowing heavily from Mad Max, Waterworld has some unique features and (like it or not) is iconic in its own right. So much of our experience on planet earth is tied to life-giving dirt. Waterworld gives us a glimpse at what our planet would be like without it. The ending is iconic; a green and lush refuge is a welcome relief from the harsh blue and gray of the ocean landscape.

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Isaac’s Rating: “So bad its good.”

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1 out of 5 Zipped Lips.

There’s potential for a great action movie here (especially in its bloated $172 million budget) but the script and acting are painfully bad. Kevin Costner tries to play an unattached, self-serving antihero which results in bored and monotone acting. The villain (Dennis Hopper) is a mad, oil-drilling fanatic so cliched you’ll swear you recognize him from the environmentally themed cartoon, Captain Planet. Between a bland Kevin Costner, an annoying 9yr old girl, a cartoonish villain, and female lead Jeanne Triplehorn hysterically trying to compensate for them, Waterworld completely flops in the character department. The real star of this epic is the Mariner’s 60ft trimaran. The crew built an incredibly complex and unique ship and its a lot of fun to see Costner swinging around on it during the action scenes.

Waterworld is goofy, poorly acted, and hopelessly cliche, but it also boasts some fun, big budget action in a unique setting. I have a blast every time I watch it, and I hope you’ll also find it “so bad its good.”

Waterworld herp derp cast

What do you think, fans? – Don’t forget to check out the other films in our Post-Apocalyptic Roundup!

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Film Facts:

The Postman was released in 1997 and is based on the 1985 novel of the same name. Starring and directed by Kevin Costner.

Plot synopsis: In the year 2013, America’s soil has healed from an apocalyptic war but society has not. Reverting to the Wild West lifestyle, American towns are isolated and oppressed by General Bethlehem (Will Patton), a self imposed feudal lord and leader of the hyper-survivalist group called “the Holnists”. When a drifter (Kevin Costner) discovers a US Postman uniform and begins delivering mail under the ruse that the United States has rebuilt, he restores hope and inspires revolution.

The Apocalypse Scenario:

The Postman occurs 16 years after an unspecified war which used weapons of mass destruction (according to the book: nukes, EMPs, and bio-engineered plagues were all released on US soil). The land is lush and green once again but civilization hangs by a thread. Isolated towns are able to farm by hand but most supplies are confiscated by the hyper-survivalist militia. Americans cling to remnants of culture; we witness traveling actors performing Shakespeare and a folk version of “Come and get your Love.”

The Year:

2013. The apocalyptic war ended 16 years earlier (1997).

What They’ve Run Out Of:

Mailmen. (ha).
Okay, to be serious, it’s “Hope.”
Apparently EMPs have wiped out pretty much everything electric; so horses, carts, livestock, and hand-planted crops are all they’ve got. The setting is a remarkably interesting return to the Wild West in both technology and political structure. The Holnist militia that once helped them survive the wasteland has now become their greatest obstacle. So when a lone postman arrives talking about a “restored United States” and delivering long-lost mail from their loved ones, they have reason to hope for a better life once again. This tale is less about struggling to survive in adverse conditions and more about a fractured nation finding hope amidst the oppression of an evil ruler.

What this Film Adds to the Post-Apocalyptic Genre:

“You have a gift, Postman… You’ve given us all back what we’d forgotten. You made Mrs. March feel like she could see again. You made Ford feel like he was part of the world. You give out Hope like it was candy in your pocket.”

Despite its flaws, The Postman has one of the more interesting and unique premises in the genre. Its a return to the Wild West, where being a decent person can actually impact society. Most films in the post-apocalyptic genre focus on the hopelessness of survival (The Road), preserving a remnant of civilization (Book of Eli), or escaping to a ‘safe-haven’ outside the wasteland (Waterworld). But The Postman’s setting is unique; there’s no wasteland, no nuclear fallout, nothing to escape from… except the hyper-survivalist leader General Bethlehem. Reconstruction is possible, it just has to be wanted badly enough by decent human beings. The Postman becomes a symbol of what the United States once stood for and could be again: freedom from tyranny, protecting the innocent, and hope for the future. His code of honor is the Postman’s creed: “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night…” It’s a bit silly that a post-apocalyptic Pony Express is foundational in restoring the United States, but The Postman reminds us of what an important thing hope is.

Isaac’s  Rating:

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3 Zipped Lips. – What is lacks in polish, it (almost) makes up for in heart.
Starring and directing in a 3-hour epic, this is basically Kevin Costner’s attempt at copying Braveheart. The result is a good-hearted but goofy fable. Costner’s final climax is predictable, with too many cheesy, contrived, slow-motion scenes screaming “I just want to be as epic as Braveheart!” (Considering how Waterworld is basically “Mad Max on water,” Kevin Costner must have a serious man-crush on Mel Gibson.)
Anyone who watches this must ask themselves questions about the nature and importance of hope, and its ability to inspire people to rally together. The ruffle in this story, however, is that the truth behind that hope is apparently of secondary consequence.

The book does a better job of showing how if it wasn’t for the Holnists, America would have returned to its unified state and the Postman’s fabrications gave isolated towns the hope they needed to do that. “It was not the electronics-destroying EMPs, the destruction of major cities, nor the release of various bio-engineered plagues that actually destroyed society: rather, it was the hyper-survivalists themselves, those who maintained stockpiles of weapons and ammunition and who preyed on humanitarian workers and other forces of order.”
I was initially put off by how slow and saccharine The Postman is. After doing some reading on the novel and giving it a second watch, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Its inspiring, hopeful, and features a wonderfully patriotic score by James Newton Howard. I recommend giving The Postman a chance because even though its goofy, it has the heart of an epic.

Don’t forget to check out our other movies in the Post-Apocalyptic Roundup!

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Film Facts:

Mad Max: Fury Road – released in 2015. Starring Tom Hardy as ‘Mad’ Max and Charlize Theron as Furiosa. Directed by George Miller. (Spoilers to follow.)

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The Apocalypse Scenario:

“As the world fell, each of us in our own way was broken. It was hard to know who was more crazy… Me, or everyone else.”

Set some time after the events of the original trilogyFury Road continues the bleak image of a nuclear wasteland. This time, however, civilization has begun to rebuild under the tyrannical rule of Immortan Joe. Joe lives in a rocky citadel filled with amenities like water, milk, gardens, and a harem. His empire is a cult, with an army of War Boys who believe Immoran Joe has the power to deliver their souls to Valhalla. We witness a stark contrast between the famished hordes below and the decrepit elite above.

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The Year:

Unknown. If the previous films were an alternate 1970’s and following, we can assume that the timeline is somewhat contemporary.

mad max fury road Immortan joe closeup

What They’ve Run Out Of:

Babies.
The Mad Max tagline has always been “water, bullets, gas.” Immortan Joe’s empire impressively has all these bases covered… except for healthy people. Miller conceived of a story where “violent marauders were fighting, not for oil or for material goods, but for human beings.” Mutation-free women for breeding and Max’s O-negative blood have become the most precious of commodities. Many characters from the citadel, especially Joe’s previous sons, have tumors or various defects and deformities. Immortan Joe needs a healthy child to continue his legacy and most of the film involves Joe’s attempt to reclaim “what is his.” The bride’s protest is “we are not things” and “our children will not be warlords.”

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What this Film Adds to the Post-Apocalyptic Genre:

Redemption of the wasteland.
Almost every post-apocalyptic story involves the search for an oasis, preserve, or “safe-place” away from the wasteland (Waterworld, The Road, Walking Dead, etc.) Fury Road turns this trope on its head when the long-sought “Green Place” is desolate, and the only hope is in freeing the citadel from Immortan Joe. The result is a unique and hopeful note; even the corrupt and violent wasteland can be redeemed. Hope is not in escaping the world, but taking a stand against evil.

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Feminism.
In a genre seriously lacking in compelling female characters, Fury Road gives us the terrific, one-armed Furiosa (Charlize Theron) on a mission to save women from sex slavery. Even Max takes on a supporting role to Furiosa’s mission (instead of the “white man saves the day” trope). There are only a handful of explicit “feminist lines” (“We are not things”), preferring character interaction over heavy-handed cliches.The simplicity is brilliant here; there is no dialogue defending Furiosa’s identity as a woman warrior, or how she learned how to shoot so well, she simply does it. She is as self-sufficient and resourceful as Max is, and their redemption is in learning to trust one another. There is much that could be said on this topic and I highly recommend this article on ways Fury Road subverts movie sexism, and this article on heroic masculinity.

If I may emphasize anything here, its that the beauty of Fury Road is in its simplicity. To see Immortan Joe and his war boys as an elaborate personification of the white male patriarchy who must be overthrown and replaced with a matriarchy (because men are always evil and women are always benevolent) is grossly misreading the film. There are themes and real world parallels here, but we should remember that Miller’s words, and consultant Eve Ensler’s expertise, explicitly state that Fury Road is exploring how women are subjugated and abused in contexts like sex slavery and war zones. Perhaps a better analogy than first-world America is the very real sex slavery, harems, and torture of women by radical Islam and the religious justification of Jihad.

Mad Max and Furiosa

Isaac’s Rating:

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5 Zipped Lips – The quintessential action movie.

Fury Road’s success is in its unadorned plot, iconic imagery, strong characters, attention to detail, and relentless action. The trailer alone is a work of art. George Miller describes Fury Road as “a very simple allegory, almost a western on wheels.” Almost the entire movie is an extended car chase and an astonishing amount of the special effects are practical rather than cgi (about 90% according to Miller). Each vehicle is a moving set piece with real roadsters racing, crashing, and exploding. The tension begins in the opening credits and never stops. The result is a nail-biting, stomach wrenching, edge-of-your-seat experience. Fury Road stands as one of the best in the post-apocalyptic genre.

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There you have it, fans, Mad Max: Fury Road. Do you agree, disagree? Comment below! Don’t forget to check out our other movies in our Post-Apocalyptic Roundup!

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Film Facts:

Starring Mel Gibson as ‘Mad’ Max Rockatansky in the first three films, and Tom Hardy in Fury Road. Directed by George Miller (although George Ogilvie took over directing much of Thunderdome).

All of the Mad Max films have received ‘cult classic’ status and the sequel The Road Warrior is truly the best, most iconic, and post-apocalyptic of original three. This article will focus mostly on Road Warrior and I covered Fury Road in a separate review.

The Apocalypse Scenario:

Global nuclear holocaust set in the Australian Outback. Cold War tensions and a global energy crisis paved the way for the dystopian and near-anarchistic setting seen in the original Mad Max, and the ensuing nuclear war creates the wasteland seen in Road Warrior and Beyond Thunderdome.

The first Mad Max features the Outback’s descent into chaos and anarchy as wild biker gangs take over the open road, torturing and murdering anyone they encounter. The Road Warrior, its sequel, depicts a world totally destroyed. The wasteland lacks any semblance of order or civilization and is at the mercy of insane marauders.

The Year:

Unknown. While Road Warrior and Thunderdome clearly follow a nuclear war, they are purposefully vague on the details and dates of these events. It’s safe to say that the ‘Mad Max Universe’ takes place in an alternate 1970’s and following.

What They’ve Run Out Of:

-Gas. Inspired by car-wrecks and violent reactions during the 1973 oil crisis, George Miller wrote the script “on the thesis that people would do almost anything to keep vehicles moving and the assumption that nations would not consider the huge costs of providing infrastructure for alternative energy until it was too late.”

The entire plot of The Road Warrior rides on the premise that gasoline is now a rare and precious commodity. (You run out of fuel, you’re dead.) Max cruises through the wasteland in his supercharged V-8 Pursuit Special, clashing with marauders and running on fumes. Later, he happens upon some semblance of civilization, a small oil refinery besieged by the marauders. Max offers to help them escape by driving a battering ram equipped fuel tanker, hauling the precious gasoline and fighting off the pursuers. The ensuing chase is one of the most iconic action sequences in film history (and regularly tops “Top 10 Car Chase” lists).
Food, water, and ammunition are also scarce. Firearms are rare, and most resort to using bows and crossbows. Max bluffs with an empty sawed-off shotgun and eats a can of dog food for supper.

What this Film Adds to the Post-Apocalyptic Genre:

Everything. You can’t talk ‘Post-Apocalyptic’ without covering Mad Max because it defined the film genre. Everything from the Western style ‘man with no name’ hero to the beat up roadsters tearing across the wasteland have become infamous tropes. Road Warrior’s ‘comic-book, post-apocalyptic/punk style’ popularized the genre and jetted Mel Gibson to superstar status.
Mad Max is all about crazy car chases with crazier badguys. These villains are flat out insane. Their punk Mohawks, leather studded costumes, ragtag vehicles, unrelenting pursuit and psychotic battle cries make unforgettable villains.
The car chase sequences are action packed, tightly edited, fast-paced (by 80’s standards) and full of tremendous crashes. These pre-CGI films all feature an amazing amount of stunt work that leaves the viewer wondering what safety laws, if any, there are in Australia.

Isaac’s Rating:

The Mad Max series, especially The Road Warrior, is foundational to the Post-Apocalyptic genre. With that said, these movies are far from perfect. Unpolished and slow paced (it was the 70’and 80’s, after all) can make the Mad Max films rather laborious if you’re unprepared for its style.

Mad Max (1979). 2 Zipped-Lips. A classic ‘cop gets revenge for the death of his family’ story featuring car chases across the Australian Outback. In my opinion: Doesn’t stand the test of time. It is slow paced with lots of driving filler, minimal budget, unpolished, and ultimately skippable. (The Road Warrior recaps the events of this film in its opening sequence).

Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981). 4.5 Zipped-Lips. Clearly the superior film of the series. Gritty, relentless, iconic, but clearly dated by today’s standards. Max is a fantastic protagonist, sustaining realistic and permanent injury (he continues to walk with a limp and a leg brace after being shot in the first film). Road Warrior is a must-see for anyone interested in the Post-Apocalyptic genre.

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985). 3 Zipped-Lips. This PG-13 sequel should have been called “Max Max and the Lost Boys from Peter Pan.” The gritty action was swapped out for a cheesier approach where badguys are subdued with frying pans and vats of pig poo. This humorous, slapstick action works wonderfully in movies like Hook but feels childishly out of place in Mad Max. The Thunderdome match against Master Blaster is a highlight (“Two men enter! One man leaves!”) but everything is downhill after that. Some fans argue that the film’s lighter tone was meant to reflect Max’s return to humanity, but in the end, its just disappointing.

There you have it, fans! The Mad Max series. Don’t forget to comment below!

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poster From The Walking Dead to Mad Max: Fury Road, the post-apocalypse is hot. Fluctuating between action, adventure, drama, and science fiction, its one of the most captivating genres out there. The post-apocalypse presents a new frontier, a landscape for ethical questions, warnings for the present, and a place to explore what makes humanity, well, human. (I will explore these ideas in future posts.) Stuck somewhere between fatalism and optimism, the genre is one caught in a very human tension. Are we a necessary part of this world, or a parasite that leads to its destruction? Is humanity truly “The beauty of the world! The paragon of animals!” as Hamlet wonders? Or merely “this quintessence of dust”? My belief is that the endless wastelands serve as a foil, highlighting the courage it takes to be a virtuous person in a ghastly world.

We’re excited to take you on a tour through the good, bad, and ugly of the post-apocalyptic genre. And whatever you do, please, don’t forget to shut up and watch the movie. P.S. A special thanks to Dalton from Sickle and Efrit for making our poster. – Check out his stuff!

Films:

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Its no secret that DC Entertainment and Warner Bros have been looking for an opportunity to compete with Marvel Studios. Marvel has consistently produced one blockbuster after another and most have been well received by critics and fans alike. With Avengers 2 this May and a Civil War film in the near future, things are looking dark for DC’s iconic Super Friends. Despite Marvel’s success, however, there is one category they haven’t performed well in: the awards.

Looking to get some recognition, DC sets their sights on the Oscars and wants to beat Marvel to a Best Picture win. Here’s an interview with Chris Terrio, writer for the upcoming Superman v. Batman: Dawn of Justice (2016).

I: …The superhero genre is mocked at these awards shows, not celebrated. What makes you and Zack [Snyder] think you’ve got a shot at the Oscars?

Terrio: (laughs) I’ll admit, its ambitious. A lot of people see superheroes as nothing more than your typical popcorn, blockbuster movie. That’s why we did a lot of research before we wrote the script. We looked at current events. We studied films like Silver Linings Playbook, 12 Years a Slave, and a number of other dramas that did really well. Then we asked ourselves “what is it in these films that people are responding to? How can we tailor our superheroes around that?”

I: Interesting…

Terrio: We found that the Justice League could stand for a lot more than fighting bad guys. They could also speak into modern issues that people struggle with every day. They could stand for justice on more levels than just one. If you look hard enough, its already there in the characters.

I: How are you changing the Justice League characters to do that?

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 “Superman is the privileged white American male who has a crisis when he realizes that traditional American values won’t solve today’s problems.”

Terrio: We’re not changing them,we’re looking at the root of the character and seeing it fulfilled in the 21st century. Take Superman, for example. Superman is the privileged white american male who has a crisis when he realizes that traditional American values won’t solve today’s problems.

I: Wait, what?

Terrio: Think about it. Superman is the big blue boyscout, right? The small town, farmboy, conservative values… all that stuff. When we get to the Justice League movie, he has to face the real world now. Its complicated. His idealistic ideals of black and white, right and wrong, just won’t cut it today. We already saw that character arc begin in Man of Steel. Superman has this psuedo-pacifist code of “no-killing,” but he had to break that code in order to stop Zod. Superman’s coming to terms with the real world is at the heart of these films.

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“Batman is living out a little boys’ fantasy of creating a world where no child’s parents have to be murdered. He’s completely OCD…”

I: If that’s Superman, what about Batman?

Terrio: Bruce Wayne is an orphan who never recovered from the trauma of seeing his parents murdered. He’s still a spoiled little rich kid in a lot of ways. By becoming Batman, he’s living out a little boys’ fantasy of creating a world where no child’s parents have to be murdered. And that’s why he’s so obsessive. This guy has a contingency plan for everything, I mean everything. He’s completely OCD.

I: So your plan is to give the Dark Knight an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?

Terrio: (laughs) Maybe not so specifically. Mental illness is a big topic that people are interested in connecting with. When we took a look at the Justice League, we definitely see Batman in that same boat.

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“Wonder Woman is a lesbian who brings an ancient Greek message of acceptance and tolerance to the judgmental, fundamentalist America.”

I: Interesting. What are you doing with the other characters?

Terrio: Wonder Woman has always stood for freedom, particularly women’s rights. We looked at our culture today and I think Wonder Woman is relevant now more than ever. She’s a lesbian who brings an ancient Greek message of acceptance and tolerance to the judgmental, fundamentalist America. She stands for the oppressed, especially women’s rights and LGBT rights. Her opening scene is stabbing the entire Instagram board of executives.

I: Um, how is stabbing innocent people “tolerant”?

Terrio: Innocent? I’d hardly call the rich white men who maintain the oppressive regime of social media “innocent.”

I: Well, I guess so… But stabbing them? Are you really going to trade villains like Brainiac and Darkseid for some corporate executives?

Terrio: Its not about stabbing, its about being relevant to modern issues.

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“Green Lantern is a space-cop who has become disenchanted with a harsh and oppressive police state.”

Terrio: …Take the enforcer, Green Lantern. In our film, John Stewart is a space-cop who has become disenchanted with a harsh and oppressive police state. The Guardians and their Green Lanterns have become tyrannical, militant, unjust, and racist. Green Lantern comes to a place where he can’t wear the uniform because it doesn’t stand for “serve and protect” anymore.

I: It sounds like you’re drawing some influence from Ferguson.

Terrio: Absolutely. People are questioning the justice system, and what better way to have that conversation than with Green Lantern?

I: What about Captain America? Winter Soldier addressed a lot of those same themes.

Terrio: Well… Yeah. But our movie will be better because our hero will be played by Chiwetelu Ejiofor. I’m looking forward to the scene where he uses his Power Ring to smash Mall of America.

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I: What else should we expect from the new Justice League? Is Aquaman gay?

Terrio: What? No… He’s obviously a Buddhist environmentalist who is concerned about the oceans and global warming. Why would he be gay?

I: You know… The skin-tight water suits? The constant beach boy, model look? The fish-scales speedo? The years of fan-fiction?

Terrio: Those things don’t make someone gay.

I: Well, sure, but it seems like you’re looking for any reason to make a connection to social justice issues…

Terrio: I find that really offensive.

I: Okay, sorry, um… What about Flash?

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“Flash is addicted to the “fast-pace” modern world… He’s going to be a social media and technology addict.”

Terrio: Flash is my favorite. We looked at what’s trending, and how to fit Flash’s “fast-pace” into the modern world. He’s going to be a social media and technology addict.

I: Like… Facebook?

Terrio: Not just Facebook. Twitter, Instagram, Clash of Clans, everything. He’s so fast that he tries to keep up with everything that’s being posted to the internet. He’s running like crazy from one thing to the next, just like people today. Flash is punching out badguys with one hand and checking his notifications with the other. Addiction is a hot topic at the Oscars, and we’re excited to be the first to tackle social media addiction.

I: It sounds like you have a contingency plan for everything. Well, except for maybe the Holocaust.

Terrio: Oh, we’re covering that, too.

I: Wait, seriously?

Terrio: Absolutely. The Holocaust always wins big at the Oscars. Its pretty much a guaranteed win.

I: How are you going to get to the Holocaust in a Justice League movie?

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“Martian Manhunter will have flashbacks that compare the Holocaust to the persecution people experience today.”

Terrio: Martian Manhunter. Although, we’re not going to use that name. It’ll be simply, “J’onn” or “the Martian.” J’onn is an alien who came here from Mars in the early 20th century. He wound up in Germany, was arrested and taken to a concentration camp. There will be flashbacks that compare the prejudice of the Nazi’s to the persecution people experience today.

I: I love that idea. Are you going to talk about the innocent people being executed by ISIS?

Terrio: No, that’s the wrong kind of controversy for the Academy Awards. We’re going to talk about American laws that discriminate against certain groups. The Martian comes from a genderless society. Everyone is a shape-shifter, so they can appear as male, female, or anything they want to be. He’s not a cis male like in the comics. In fact, the labels “male and female” aren’t even in the Martian vocabulary.

wonder-woman-vs-manhunter

I: It seems like you’re saying that the real villain is society itself. That evil is only a result of oppression, and not something every person struggles with.

Terrio: Yes. If something such as evil exists, it is the result of systemic oppression. If we get rid of oppression, we get rid of evil.

I: But doesn’t that defeat the entire point of superheroes? The inner struggle of good vs. evil? Our heroes make good choices even when it means sacrifice, that’s why they are heroes. And then the villains do the opposite, choosing to use their powers for selfish gain. It has nothing to do with society. What makes superheroes timeless is the struggle of good and evil in the human heart, not tailoring them to hot-button topics of the day.

Terrio: Zack and I really don’t see it that way. And that’s why we picked the villain that we did.

new-52-vandal-savage_0

“Vandal Savage is the ultimate oppressor… He has both Lex Luthor’s wealth and brilliance, and Ra’s Ah Ghul’s historical conspiracy factor.”

I: So, who is the villain for this film?

Terrio: I’m really excited about the villain we picked, Vandal Savage. He’s the ultimate oppressor. He’s got both Lex Luthor’s wealth and brilliance, and Ra’s Ah Ghul’s historical conspiracy factor. Savage is a power-hungry immortal who has been around since the beginnings of the human race. He’s the one working behind the scenes of history to cause tyranny and social inequality. The opening scene is of Savage talking with the first humans and tricking them into creating an oppressive and selfish society. Evil begins with him.

vandal savage time

I: Interesting. So you’re saying that the question, “what’s wrong with the human race” can be traced back to an initial deception by an evil character? That sounds like a Christian allegory.

Terrio: Does it? Hmm… I never thought of it that way. Do you think that hurts or helps our chance at winning Best Picture?

I: It hurts it. Definitely.

[end transcript.]

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