Bleats

Surprise! People Are Already Hating On The New Batwoman Series With Brutal Reviews

“What a waste of my time.”

A little earlier this week, CW’s newest series, Batwoman, dropped.

The show, which stars Aussie actor Ruby Rose, has made history by featuring the first openly lesbian and gender-fluid superhero lead. Rose plays Batwoman (or Kate Kane) who is also out in the series, and kicks off her story by returning to Gotham to save her ex-girlfriend.

While there is a lot to be excited about when it comes to this show – representation is always a huge plus in entertainment – it appears as though it may not be getting the reaction creators hoped for.

At the time of writing this piece, Rotten Tomatoes had 1,263 audience reviews. The overall score currently sits at an abysmal 10 per cent.

Audiences have written into the review website calling the show “cheap”, “a waste of time”, “terrible” and made up of “lazy writing”.

Yikes.
Credit: Netflix

Interestingly, critics have a different view of the series. The average rating from 39 professional reviews currently sits at 72 per cent.

Linda Maleh of Forbes wrote:

“The show still has much to prove, and could get much better or worse from here, but as far as pilots go, this is a decent beginning.”

Daniel Feinberg of the Hollywood Reporter also appears hopeful:

“The series has multiple lairs dedicated to eccentric comic characters and multiple attempted large-scale action sequences, and there isn’t a “Man, that’s cool!” moment in either episode I’ve seen.

“It’s easy enough to watch that I’ll stick around to see if it blossoms into something more.”

Vulture, however, had a less-than-positive view. The outlet chastised the show for its “wasted potential” stating that “cheap-looking costuming, haphazard choreography, and unconvincing potboiler dialogue” lead to a less than impressive result.  

So, we suppose the series gets an A+ for making history and more of an F for audience satisfaction at this point. However, it is early days! Maybe things will turn around as the season progresses.

Comic Book Films Are Losing Their Edge Because Of Their Success

“We can't afford to just make cookie-cutter comic book movies”

Unless you’ve been avoiding movie theatres for the last, I don’t know, ten plus years, chances are you’re aware that comic book movies are having a (very long) moment.

For the most part, this has been a seriously enjoyable ride for nerdy superhero fans like yours truly. The industry has brought us epic productions like Thor: Ragnarok and Black Panther and Wonder Woman.

But it has also delivered some duds. Not naming any names (cough, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, cough).

Back in 2016, SYFY theorised that perhaps the colossal success of many comic films (even the not so great ones) was allowing for production houses to push out movie after movie, a little too fast and a little undercooked.

And at this year’s New York Comic-Con, this same theme appeared to pop up in a couple of panels.

During the ‘It’s the Big “Batman” 1989 Movie 30th Anniversary!’ panel, Michael Uslan – the originator and executive producer of the Batman movie franchise – pointed out that the success of the Tim Burton film was partly due to how different it was.

Bullseye, baby.
Credit: Warner Bros.

Prior to this dark representation of Gotham, Batman on-screen had only ever been a light, cheesy take on the comic. And although it took ten years to get his vision made into a film, Uslan stressed that it “was a game-changer” once it came out.

“We changed the world’s perception of comic books,” he said.

Uslan then went on to highlight that sometimes, the money-making machine that is the movie industry influences certain productions, hinting that this can take away from the authenticity of the film (though he didn’t point out specific examples).

“We can’t afford to just make cookie-cutter comic book movies,” he said.

“We need to have filmmakers with that passion and with the vision who are bold and daring and willing to push an envelope. Look what Marvel did with Deadpool. Look what they did with Guardians of the Galaxy. You’ve gotta take some chances and believe that the fans will be there to appreciate it if you’re coming from the heart, and if you really believe in all of this.”

“Hey, positive reviews.”
Credit: Disney

This sentiment was echoed during the Rotten Tomatoes panel, ‘Rotten Movies We Love’. Critic Monica Castillo highlighted that a lot of superhero films receive bad reviews on the website because, well… they’re unoriginal.

“I think when critics approach these kinds of movies they might be looking for something that’s a little bit more out of the box and sometimes these movies because they are, there’s such big-budget stuff now that studios tend to keep them like, kind of formula. They’re safe. They don’t usually colour outside the lines, or really include something that would break the norm. Like, I would love to see a Marvel movie that featured a queer character that was on screen for longer than two seconds.

“…it is very risk-averse. So then we as critics, we see you know 20, 30 of these and then we’re like, ‘Okay, so this is another origin story. We’ve seen this movie already”. So that’s why it’s really fun to see something like Black Panther or Thor: Ragnarok and it’s like, ‘Oh, this is exciting, this is something we haven’t seen before’.”

Taika’s take of Thor was electric, kids.
Credit: Disney

So, long story, short: The Comic film universe is responsible for some pretty incredible movies. They just need to be a little more careful about pushing out the same safe story and prioritize fresh takes (preferably involving Taika Waititi) instead.

There’s A Problem With The Way Films Depict Mental Illness In Women

Let's talk about the difference between Harley Quinn and the Joker, shall we?

When you think about Comic-Con, images of superheroes, fantasy film series and video games tend to come to mind. And while that is certainly what sits at the heart of the event, there’s actually a lot more depth to it than you might assume.

New York’s 2019 Comic-Con has held a number of panels discussing social issues and how the industry treats them within popular productions. One such topic is mental health and the manner in which it’s depicted within the world of sci-fi and fantasy (SFF).

For the panel ‘Putting It All Out There: SFF and Mental Health’, writers Shaun Hamill, Lauren Shippen and Stephen Graham Jones spoke with Assistant Editor of The Mary Sue, Princess Weekes, about the treatment of mental health within the genre. In the process, they highlighted an important point.

“The depictions of women with mental illness to me is always interesting because there’s this element of hyper-sexualisation with it,” Weekes started.

“…thinking of like, Basic Instinct, and thinking of even the idea that you have to ‘save a woman by killing her’ – rest in peace Daenerys Targaryen…

“how to you think that, or what would you think that gender plays into depictions of mental illness?”

The panel went on to discuss the all too common conflation of beauty or sex with mental illness for female characters, and the (fairly obvious) problems with that as a trend. If you look at examples like the Bunny Boiler, Harley Quinn (holding out for Birds of Prey) and Nina of Black Swan, they’re each connected with a prominent sexual theme. And the story doesn’t end too well for many of them…

Cases like Daenerys Targaryen and Dr Jean Grey (X-Men The Last Stand) differ slightly, but they remain beautiful women whose mental health stories are linked to their romantic interests. Both of these characters lose control, forcing the men they love to ‘save’ them from themselves.

Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Comparatively, men are more likely to be shown to be dark, tormented souls like, say, the Joker. He is not an alluring puzzle to be figured out… just a violent monster. Depictions of mental illness being synonymous with violence have traditionally been another problematic reoccurrence in the SFF world, I should point out. But that’s another discussion.

While this isn’t every film, and there are exceptions in Hollywood’s illustration of mental illness, it is clear that historically, certain tropes regularly pop up.   

Credit: Warner Bros.

Responding to Weekes’ comments at Comic-Con, Hamill added:

“I have seen the irresponsible depiction, Harley Quinn of course being the most iconic one for most of us in this room, probably. And you still see it – the Manic Pixie Dream Girl; I feel like that trope is tied up in there, as well.”

“…I don’t know if anybody remembers the TV show Six Feet Under, where there’s the brother and sister. …They’re both mentally ill but Brenda is this incredible sex pot and Billy is allowed to be this play for laughs… or joke, walking around the house in this Christmas sweater crying. Really ugly crying. And she doesn’t really get to do that. When she starts to break it’s sexy; she starts giving hand jobs to clients, or whatever… hopefully we’re moving away from that.”

He pointed out that truthful writing is the best way forward from here:

“Let it be ugly, let it be drab. Let it really feel like what it feels like. Let it weigh.”

Graham Jones added that he’d “be interested in a statistical analysis of whether men or women writers do this more often of rendering women with mental health issues…”.

“If it is more men, which I suspect is the case… then I guess it’s one of two things,” he continued.

“…the Pygmalion thing where, ‘this woman is clay, I can mould her into something useful.’ Or how do I make this woman interesting? They know that they shouldn’t have her raped, which is like, the go-to thing in fiction. And so, they give her a mental health issue. ”

In any case, while Hollywood’s relationship with mental health is far from perfect, it is improving. And discussions like this one at Comic-Con’s mental health panel are a great way to push forward.

If you are experiencing depression or anxiety, it’s always a good time to seek some support. beyondblue can offer you personalised support.

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