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Saturday, February 17, 2018 

Geoff Johns was suitably demoted from his position on the DC films

Here's some thankful news: the DC equivalent to Brian Bendis when he worked at Marvel (and who's now going to work at DC too) has been demoted from the higher position he once had on Warner Brothers' adaptations for the silver screen:
About early December 2017, The Wrap gave out the exclusive that Co-President of the DC Films division, Jon Berg had been removed.

Most recently, The Hollywood Reporter revealed the new President overseeing the DCEU under DC Films would be former New Line Cinema production executive, Walter Hamada, a story, which we had also covered on one of our editorials at Bam Smack Pow.

This notably demoted Johns from his position of co-runner and president of DC Films to merely a creative consultant, who will “work closely” with Hamada. The question to be asked: was Johns qualified to steer the ship of the DCEU on the silver screen?
I can provide the answer: NO. Absolutely NOT. This was the man who perverted the Flash and Green Lantern back in the comics with offensive violence, weak characterization, forced, abrupt retcons to several characters that added zip to their stories (at least 2 examples I recall were Cyborg and Golden Glider, yet that was nothing compared to the repellent portrayal of the Turtle as a child molestor in issue 213), and he was part of DC's worst company wide crossovers. He practically took bloodletting and other nasty acts of violence in DC output to a new level, and even if he hadn't put his personal politics into the books he's writing, as he later did with GL, that still wouldn't make them any good. I remember one report stating some crew members on the GL movie blaming Johns for its failure, as he was actively involved in much of the production. And despite the news site's attempts to exonerate Johns from blame, chances are entirely possible he had his share of errors in developing a film drawing from the cast setup he used for his New 52 reboot of Justice League. And I ask again - what's so wrong with Martian Manhunter that he had to be dropped?

Since we're on the subject, I found another site talking about the content of his books, making valid points, though that's just the beginning of what's wrong with his overrated writing styles:
At worst, his dialogue sounds like it’s trying to be more “adult” or just sounds painful.

Case in point in not only Forever Evil but also Blackest Night, the phrase “It makes me hot” is said (in both cases) to make a female character look more sadistic. It seems really “tryhard”, cheap and you know EXACTLY what word he meant to use there instead of “Hot”. Again, it’s not like his dialogue is the worst thing ever but it’s either dull or trying a bit too hard to sound mature (a problem we’ll discuss in a moment) and that’s a big problem. [...]
Hmm, this is telling something. I may not have thought his writing was the most sexist-plagued you could find years before, but he certainly got worse, and now that I think of it, his ill-treatment of Magenta was degrading. More telling though was the hammering of violence involving his one-note Reverse-Flash 2.0's assault on Linda Park West. And the dialogue, if we take his Teen Titans run as an example, contained a few irritating, superfluous words, one of which alluded to child molestation and in another situation, Starfire wound up sounding like a bimbo when she said, "Garfield [Logan] does seem to be acting strange." after he was hypnotized by the young-looking Brother Blood featured in a forced nostalgia story that came second in the run, and when somebody states she meant the bird-calls, she said, "that. And he usually stares at my chest." But this line was so forced, lamebrained and served as little more than a cheap way to have Wonder Girl bump Superboy's side to hint she'd rather he not make comments like that, all at Starfire's expense. It sure wasn't funny, and I didn't laugh. On the topic of violence in Johns' stories, the site says:
I should preface this by saying that I love violence in fiction. My favorite action movies tend to be pretty bloody and I’ve always thought a little blood in fiction never hurt anyone. That said I’ve always felt that Geoff Johns’s use of violence was a little too… desperate. What I mean by this is that unlike, let’s say, a Tarantino movie, Johns’s violence isn’t playful or funny but it seems more like he’s still afraid that people assume Comics are for kids so he plays it up a lot. In some things I think it works, like Blackest Night, which was about zombies so blood and guts naturally played a role, or Forever Evil, which focused on villains who generally aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty.

But at some points you have to ask yourself: Did Aquaman REALLY need a scene where horrible fish creatures slaughter some sailors on a boat? Did we really need to see a man shoved in a shark’s mouth in Green Lantern Issue 4? Was it truly necessary for us to see a kryptonian getting stabbed through the head on the first page of Superman: Brainiac? How was the story benefited by seeing Bart Allen’s knee being shot to bits, then learning he would have to be operated without anesthesia and watching said operation happen with his pained face front and center?
The violence in his stories may not be depicted humourously, but still carries a feeling of cheap sensationalism and fetishism. And I'd be careful about saying Blackest Night and Forever Evil are workable stories. Especially if they only served to depict notable characters as zombies for trolling the audience, which, from what I can tell, is exactly what they intended.
Hell, that’s best case scenario. At worst it’s right down detrimental to the story. Infinite Crisis tries to judge other comics for being too dark and violent, while partaking in as much violence as it can. Oh yes, I totally got the idea that comics should lighten up between all the scenes of people getting swords through the chest, arms being ripped off, heads being punched off and, the crowning achievement, a man getting his eyes PUSHED THROUGH HIS HEAD!
By Black Adam, no less. No wonder I swore off of Johns' take on the Justice Society. Just because BA is a villain, does that make it okay? Of course not.

I also found a sugarcoated interview in the Comics Journal where he brought up one of DC's most notorious employees while talking about whom he works with:
WILSON: Do you find that you keep up an ongoing communication with the artists or do you just work through your editor?

JOHNS: Yeah, I talk with my artist. I mean I work with my editors, who are great too. I work mostly with Eddie Berganza and Adam Schlagman at DC, but no, I’m constantly talking to them and with the artist. With Francis, because he is so expressive and he has such a clean style, it calls for a clean writing style, so that less is more in that case. So I don’t want to do narration when I work with Francis. I want him to be nice and open and just let the story flow, and don’t have captions interrupt the story. I only want to do dialogue, action and heart with that book [The Flash].
Remember: if Johns had a high enough, influential position after a while, he could surely have pressed for Berganza's dismissal. But he didn't, and so it was only after the Buzzfeed coverage that the creep left. And how could he write the Flash with heart when it was so joyless? There's more here I may as well scrutinize:
WILSON: Would you say then that focusing so closely on fear, were you making a concerted effort to contextualize what was going on in the larger society at the time as people look back on the last 10 years and there’s anxiety and fear in American culture because of what has been transpiring domestically and abroad? Would you say that it affected you, that here’s fear as a viable thematic concept?

JOHNS: Absolutely. I mean look at American society in the 1940s. There was World War II but then in the 1950s everything got really nice and kind of everyone sees the 1950s as a quaint, suburban soda shop society because everybody experienced that fear in the 40s. But then you had a whole generation growing up in the 1950s who didn’t experience the fear in the 40s and they rebelled in the 60s, so it’s almost a cycle. Sure. Rebirth came out in 2004 and I’d begun working on it in 2002 and that was at the height of anthrax being sent around to news reporters and it was crazy. So, I’m sure, absolutely, that it was influential. I think also that you have a generation now that’s grown up with that anxiety, but soon we’ll get to a generation and it’ll be interesting to see what they gravitate towards or what the next decade or two is like when you have that generation that grew up not remembering 9/11. What’s that going to be like?

WILSON: That’s a good point.

JOHNS: Yeah, what are they going to rebel against, because they didn’t have that fear and anxiety that threw society upside down?
And what's this supposed to be? A minimization of 9-11, and the elements involved? It strikes me as a tasteless thing to say, and while he may be holding his cards close to his chest, Johns has still pretty much confirmed why I don't consider him a good writer. And if he has any responsibility for botching the Justice League movie, that's why his demotion is richly deserved. Besides, if the movie doesn't involve the kind of excess his comics do, that only means he's not interested in appealing to the masses through comics, because his style in comicdom doesn't have commercial appeal.

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  • From Jerusalem, Israel
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