I got hit by the Flu. Hit hard. On Christmas. The doctor put me in quarantine, so I sent my lovely better half to stay with relatives and forbid anyone from coming to my domicile to check on me. I’ve been all on my own, and have whiled away the hours, when not puking, shivering with fever, hacking my lungs up, and praying for a speedy death, watching old movies. And TV shows. I binged my way through at least half of the original run of THE INCREDIBLE HULK.

I was in the first grade when the show debuted on CBS. For the next several years, each Friday night found me transfixed in front of the screen, watching the exploits of the jade juggernaut. As a kid, I watched it exclusively for the Hulk, of course. As a grown-up, looking at it now, I still appreciate just how GOOD the show is, overall. Yes, it was limited by the technology of the day. They didn’t have CGI. They had to render the Hulk’s superhuman actions via slow-motion, sound effects, and careful camera work. Yes, watching the DVDs, you can sometimes see the ropes pulling the stuntmen into the air when they are supposed to be “thrown” by the Hulk. You can sometimes see that Lou Ferrigno is wearing the equivalent of green pantyhose (so he wouldn’t have to run around the set barefoot, one assumes) and see the patches where the green greasepaint has sometimes smeared away. Some of the episodes are played a little too much for laughs. But overall the writing is excellent and the acting is on par. In particular leading man Bill Bixby is superb. The Hulk is the star, and Lou Ferrigno both looks great in green and manages to lend the character the necessary humanity to make him relatable and make you root for him, but it is leading man David* Banner who must anchor the whole thing, serve as the foundation for the entire series, and Bixby is more than capable.

*The changing of the name was stupid. Show producer Kenneth Johnson has said that he just didn’t like the alliteration of “Bruce Banner,” but Stan Lee stated that Johnson, or someone at the “studio,” was afraid people would think the character was homosexual if his name was “Bruce.” Who is telling the truth? That’s easy. Why would Stan make that up? And the name change sounds like exactly the kind of lamebrain move a TV exec would pull. It confused the hell out of me as a kid. I couldn’t understand why the character I watched on TV had a different name than the character I read about in the comic books.

There were reports that Gal Gadot would refuse to do WONDER WOMAN 2 unless Warner Brothers severed ties with Brett Ratner. (Ratner, like Kevin Spacey, Harvey Weinstein, and other prominent actors, directors, and producers, has been accused of sexual misconduct. That’s just a polite way of saying the guy’s a pervert.) Then Warner Brothers said Gadot DIDN’T make such a demand. I tend to believe the latter report. Why? Because it would have been unnecessary. Any contractual deal WB has with Ratner’s company will have expired by the time WONDER WOMAN 2 gets underway.

Is this another case of the media exaggerating, if not outright fabricating, headlines and stories to garner ratings? While the person currently occupying the Oval Office uses claims of “fake news” to cover every misstep and underhanded move he pulls–and 99.9% of the charges made against him by the major news agencies are legitimate, by the way–it is true that some reporters have the unfortunate habit of sensationalizing. This is more a problem with entertainment news than with “real” news. Is that what happened here? I expect Gadot did say something along the lines of “I’ll never work with that _____ (add pejorative of your choice here) again!” and someone took from that a threat that she would leave the movie–which wouldn’t be necessary, as WB has ALREADY cut ties with Ratner and, as stated above, the contract of projects already in development with his company will run out before WW2 goes into production. So did she or didn’t she? Probably a bit of both, but worry not. She’s not leaving Wonder Woman behind.

Man, everything’s happening all at once. Reports are coming in today that Ben Affleck definitely WILL be replaced as Batman in the new trilogy from Matt Reeves. This is a part of the bigger behind-the-scenes shakeup at Warner Brothers in the wake of JUSTICE LEAGUE failing to perform up to expectations. (If they’d just listened to me in the first place, I could’ve saved them all that money.) The only way I can conceive of for the DC cinematic universe to remain remotely coherent is if they use the upcoming FLASH movie, which is supposed to chronicle the “Flashpoint” storyline, as a way to reboot everything, as it did in the comics, leaving some things unchanged and some radically altered. New Batman, same Wonder Woman, in other words. If–and that’s a BIG if–the WB is smart enough to take advantage of the opportunity.

Even bigger comics/movie news this week is that, at long, long last, Marvel is getting the X-Men back! A deal between Marvel and Sony will allow what fans have long dreamed of. It means Marvel will get the Fantastic Four back, too, but I suspect they’ll wait a while before rebooting that franchise, to let the odor of the previous two dissipate. If any of us were a little doubtful about where Marvel could go in the future with its cinematic juggernaut, we aren’t anymore! Secret Wars! Avengers vs. X-Men! The possibilities are endless!

That’s what this article highlights. DC screwed the pooch with JUSTICE LEAGUE by tampering. Studio tampering NEVER results in a better movie.

My review of JUSTICE LEAGUE is available at our sister site, vampires.com, but I’ll encapsulate for you here. I thoroughly enjoyed it, because of my love for these characters, even while acknowledging its one big, glaring, impossible-to-miss flaw: its villain. Steppenwolf has no personality, no motivation other than being “evil.” All the references to Darkseid lead to nowhere. We now know that the original ending had Steppenwolf’s origin fleshed-out and led to the REAL threat showing up at the end of the film: Darkseid. But for whatever reason, DC chose to truncate that subplot and that ending. Unfortunately, that subplot and ending are necessary for the film to float. To succeed, the movie NEEDS Darkseid. But the studio wouldn’t leave Zack Snyder’s original version alone, instead thinking they could “fix” it. They failed miserably. They thought Joss Whedon could “fix” it. He only hamstringed it.

What there is of JUSTICE LEAGUE I loved. But it’s incomplete. There’s a part missing from it. A big, important part. A vital part.

Stupid studio. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

 

How about a smart move for a change? How about releasing Zack Snyder’s original version of the movie? It’s what you should have done in the first place.