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RHOADES REVIEW

“Justice League” Movie Challenges “Avengers”

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by Shirrel Rhoades
At The Movies

Saturday, November 18, 2017

As moviegoers, you’ve been following Marvel’s “Avengers,” that teaming of an array of superheroes (Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, etc.). But truth is, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby stole the idea from DC Comics.

DC writer Gardner Fox came up with the idea of the Justice Society of America back in 1940, a group of heroes with no special superpowers. Twenty years later Fox was asked to recreate the concept as the Justice League of America, this time teaming DC’s biggest superheroes (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, etc.).

As Stan Lee told the story: Marvel publisher Martin Goodman “mentioned that he had noticed one of the titles published by National Comics (which became DC) seemed to be selling better than most. It was a book called The Justice League of America and it was composed of a team of superheroes ... ‘If the Justice League is selling,’ spoke he, ‘why don’t we put out a comic book that features a team of superheroes?’”

Thus, the Avengers assembled for the first time.

Now, in turnabout fashion, DC’s Justice League follows Marvel’s Avengers onto the silver screen. “Justice League” will be the fifth installment in the DC Extended Universe -- which competes with the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Directed by Zack Snyder (“Man of Steel,” “Batman vs., Superman”), the new $300-million “Justice League” blockbuster has a script by Chris Terrio and Josh Whedon.

As it happened, Josh Whedon (“The Avengers,” “Avenger: Age of Ultron”) actually finished directing “Justice League” when Snyder dropped out following the death of his daughter.

According to the movie’s storyline, the Justice League is formed by Batman and Wonder Woman following Superman’s death. Their mission is to thwart a supervillain known as Steppenwolf and his army of parademons.

For the team, they recruit The Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg.

Ben Affleck and Gal Gadot reprise their roles as the Caped Crusader and the Amazon Princess. Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, and Ray Fisher are their three teammates.

Henry Cavill returns as Superman, along with Amy Adams as Lois Lane, Diane Lane as Martha Kent, Jeremy Irons as Bruce Wayne’s butler, and J.K. Simmons as Commissioner Gordon. Ciarán Hinds plays the bad god Steppenwolf.

The Warner Bros. film was supposed to be the first of a two-parter, but the second outing got postponed so the studio could do another Batman movie with Ben Affleck.

“The Avengers” was the highest grossing superhero film ever made ($1,519 billion worldwide). And “Avengers: Age of Ultron” did pretty good itself ( $1.405 billion worldwide).

DC fanboys are waiting to see how their team does against the Marvel team.

Julia Roberts makes

“Wonder” a wonder

 

Treacher Collins Syndrome is a genetic disorder characterized by deformities of the ears, eyes, cheekbones, and chin. Not what you’d normally chose as the theme for a feel-good comedy-drama starring Julia Roberts.

But it is.

In a new film titled “Wonder,” the Oscar-winning actress plays the mother of a 10-year-old boy suffering from TCS. Owen Wilson plays the father.

Jacob Tremblay (he played the kid in “Room”) is cast as Auggie Pullman, the boy with the facial deformity.

The story follows the trials of young Auggie when his parents quit homeschooling him and enroll him in Beecher Prep. The idea is to acclimate him to real life and show everyone that he’s just an ordinary kid despite his gargoyle looks.

Needless to say, it’s not a smooth transition.

Noah Jupe plays Nick, the best friend who betrays Auggie. And Bryce Gheisar plays Julien, the school bully who makes Auggie’s life miserable.

We did say this was a comedy-drama, right?

Well, everything turns out okay for Auggie, but you’ll want to see the movie to follow the events that lead to this kinda happy ending.

The movie is based on the same-named book by R.J. Palacio. That’s the pseudonym of Raquel Jaramillo, who said she wrote “Wonder” after an incident where “she and her three-year-old son were waiting in line to buy ice cream. Her son noticed a girl with facial birth defects. Fearing he would react badly, Palacio attempted to remove her son from the situation so as not to upset the girl or her family but ended up worsening the situation.”

After hearing the Natalie Merchant song titled “Wonder,” Jaramillo realized that the incident could teach a valuable lesson, so she sat down and wrote the book.

When Julia Roberts read the book, it affected her so deeply she begged for a part in the film version. “It stopped me in my tracks. I read it with my kids, I loved it, they loved it. I hurled myself on the mercy of the producers and said, ‘Please, let me be in this movie. I wanna be the mom.’”

Roberts goes on to say, “I couldn’t put the book down. It is such a powerful way of telling people how they should behave to others. It reminded me to find moments in every day to choose the nice approach with other people.”

A book (and film) with a simple message: Be nice to other people.

Top Ten team

movie choices

With the release of “Justice League,” a blockbuster movie based on DC Comic’s superhero team, we made a list of our favorite films that feature a team. Sort of like a buddy movie, but with a bigger cast.

Here are our Top Ten favorites:

10. “The A-Team” (2010) -- Inspired by the old TV show, the Action Team rides again. Liam Neeson makes a great stony-faced leader, but we miss the sass of TV’s Mr. T.

9. “The Expendables” (2010) -- Sylvester Stallone had a brilliant idea when he created a movie featuring all those movie action heroes of yore. Sly, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Eric Roberts, even Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger … need we say more?

8. “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” (2003) -- In the Victorian Era, a group of famous characters come together for a secret mission. Sean Connery and company give us Allan Quatermain, Captain Nemo, Dr. Jekyll, and Dorian Gray, among other extraordinary gentlemen.

7. “Starship Troopers” (1997) -- Based on the book by hardliner sci-fi author Robert A. Heinlein, a futuristic military team fights giant alien bugs on a distant planet. Casper Van Dien leads this mindless shoot-‘em-up.

6. “Ocean’s Eleven” (2001) -- Danny Ocean (George Clooney) and his eleven henchmen plan to rob three Las Vegas casinos simultaneously. Even better that the original version with Frank Sinatra and his amiable Rat Pack.

5. “The Italian Job” (2003) -- Charlie Croker (Mark Wahlberg) and his gang of thieves plan an elaborate gold heist. This is the action film that made everyone want to own a Mini Cooper. Jason Statham is a standout as raffish racer Handsome Rob.

4. “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol” (2011) -- Ethan Hawk (Tom Cruise) and his IMF team go rogue to clear the organization’s name. Cruise’s on-the-side-of-a-skyscraper stunts are breathtaking.

3. “X-Men: First Class” (2011) -- A retro look at Professor X’s team of mutants who are out to stop a dictator who wants to start WWIII. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender give us younger versions of Professor X and Magneto.

2. “The Avengers” (2012) -- Marvel’s superheroes team up to stop Loki from enslaving humankind. Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, and Scarlett Johansson reprise their comic-booky roles.

1. “The Incredibles” (2004) -- This animated Pixar takeoff on the superhero genre is nothing short of brilliant. A family of fantastic heroes (Mr. Incredible, Elasticgirl, and their three superpowered kids) are forced to set aside their quiet life to save the world.

Yes, we deliberately excluded “Justice League” since most of you haven’t seen it yet. And no, Gru’s “Despicable Me” minions do not constitute a team per se. Which favorite team movies would you add to the list?

srhoades@aol.com

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