The DCU Begins

“The future of the DCEU is about to change”. These are the now immortal words spoken by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, prior to the release of his passion project Black Adam – part of the DC Extended Universe of films. He meant that his character was so integral to the ongoing story that it would be a character introduction as major as Thanos to the MCU but this isn’t exactly how it panned out. The film was a box office bomb but it doesn’t mean that the statement itself would end up being false…because cancellation is a form of change. Not long after the release of Black Adam, it was announced that the DCEU, a franchise started by 2013’s Man of Steel and featuring 12 films of questionable canonicity, would no longer be continuing in its current form. Director James Gunn and Producer Peter Safran were being brought in as co-heads of DC Studios, the replacement for DC Film, with the first part of their grand vision for the series finally being unveiled this past week.

This slate of releases, titled Gods and Monsters, includes 5 films (Superman: Legacy, The Authority, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow, and Swamp Thing), 4 live-action TV series’ (Waller, Lanterns, Paradise Lost, and Booster Gold), and an animated series (Creature Commandos). It’s a really interesting mix of properties, with some being ones that many people may never have heard of, and there are reasons to be excited. Swamp Thing is a particular favourite while Supergirl will notably be the first attempt to portray the character on the big screen (in live-action) since 1984’s Supergirl. However, it doesn’t end there. Much like the MCU currently does, all of these projects will exist within one shared universe and will notably share the exact same actors. This will also apply to the animated shows as well, which is something that the MCU has not yet managed but that Star Wars has been doing for quite some time. 

As iterated, there are plenty of reasons to be excited. Some of these are fan-favourite characters, it’s promising a grand story and the pairing of Gunn/Safran is a safe bet however there are reasons to be anxious too. Primarily, there is the current state of Warner Brothers which currently owns DC. Since taking over as CEO in April 2022, David Zaslav has seemingly made it his mission to destroy the company. Content is being pulled from the streaming service HBOMax with reckless abandon while projects that were near completion are being written off for tax purposes. This is on top of the already notorious history of Warner Brother executives meddling heavily in the production of their films – particularly the DCEU. Man of Steel and Batman Vs Superman may not have been popular with the masses but it was executive backpedaling that really killed any of the cohesion in the so-called Snyderverse. Of course, this isn’t a new thing, they famously threw director Joel Schumacher under the bus for Batman and Robin – a film that turned out exactly how they wanted. It seems fair to have faith in Gunn and Safran, who have earned it over their illustrious careers, but at the end of the day, they are still reporting to Zaslav.

Despite unveiling a large number of properties (10 in total), no indication was given as to how quickly their production was to begin. Whilst this may bother some, it actually demonstrates that, despite ideas of grandeur, they likely won’t be rushed. This is often the primary issue with companies attempting to build cinematic universes – too much, too fast – and there is plenty here to keep audiences entertained over at least a few years. The only given date was for Superman: Legacy, which Gunn is already writing and will be released on July 11th, 2025. At one film and one series per year (which is the bare minimum and unlikely to be the final schedule), this is 5 years of content which gives plenty of time to adapt future plans where necessary and to begin production of further installments. It’s also worth noting that the DCU is not the only thing in store with the releases of Joker: Folie A Deux and The Batman Part II still scheduled for October 4th, 2024 and October 3rd, 2025 respectively. There’s also the next couple of series of Teen Titans Go! And Superman and Louis, all of which will keep that DC bone itched until their major franchising can begin.

There’s this notion that something can be too big to fail and it’s one that’s been applied more and more to franchises like Star Wars or the MCU. The DCU currently does not have that luxury because they are, in essence, starting from scratch. DC/WB have spent the past two decades building a portfolio of separate film and television releases with arguably the biggest achievement being the CW Network’s Arrowverse, composed of Green Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow, Black Lightning, and Batwoman. It is through these shows that the iconic storyline Crisis on Infinite Earths was brought to the screen, which featured cameos from the likes of Burt Ward (Batman: The TV Series) and Robert Wuhl (Batman 1989). It’s one of the company’s crowning achievements. This Arrowverse isn’t dead as such, it just seems to have run its course, although there has been no confirmation of its fate either way. It seems like it won’t be a part of the DCU and that, even if it does continue, it is likely destined for the Elseworlds label like The Batman Part II and Teen Titans Go!. Until now, DC/WB has very much been throwing ideas at the wall to see what sticks but with a shared universe across all visual mediums, they’re placing all their eggs in one very risky basket. 

The DCU is an exciting prospect. If it works, it could one day make DC the powerhouse of media that they want to be. However, it’s going to take time, patience, and no shortage of good faith from viewers. The final installments of the DCEU are still to come with Shazam: Fury of the Gods and The Flash, before what James Gunn described as a Universal Reset followed by the release of Blue Beetle and Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom. All four of those are due for release this year and in that order. When this new vision finally begins, let’s hope that this week’s general buzz of excitement from fans hasn’t worn off.

Good luck DCU, you might need it.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2

With the success of 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy, it was only a matter of time before a sequel was greenlit and this was done before the film had even been released. It was a risk, but clearly one that the Studio Execs felt was going to pay off. It wouldn’t be until a year later (2015) that the sequel received its official title – Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2 – which was a perfect fit with the story being told and the lived experience of main character Peter Quill. During the course of Guardians of the Galaxy, Peter (and by extension, us) is listening to a mixtape created for him by his mother Meredith titled The Awesome Mix before finally opening a long un-opened gift containing The Awesome Mix: Volume 2. Before media was released in “parts” (looking at you Quiet Place Part 2) it was released in “volumes” so not only does the title serve as a nod to Meredith but it also helps to immortalise an era of history.

The plot of Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2 picks up a few months after the events of the original, with The Guardians on a mission for the Sovereign race, whom Rocket ends up betraying by stealing the very items they were hired to protect. Whilst on the run, the crew are saved by Peters long-lost father Ego, and his assistant Mantis, who take the crew – minus Rocket, Groot, and a captive Nebula – to his planet, where they learn some very dark secrets. Meanwhile, Rocket, Groot, and Nebula are taken prisoner by the Ravagers who have been hired to hunt them down by the Sovereigns, before a mutiny breaks out amongst the crew when Yondu refuses to deliver them. A friendship quickly forms between the former Ravager captain and Rocket, forming one of the 3 core relationships on which the film stands.

The emotional/familial throughlines here aren’t just confined to Yondu and Rocket, although I find theirs to be the most interesting. They are both snarky and aggressive characters who feel alone in the universe, despite having teams around them. Watching them cut through each others’ tough exterior to the emotional vulnerability beneath provides an explosive conflict different from any of the other relationships in this film. We witness the formation of a lifelong friendship where they feel like they can only be honest with each other, and seeing this friendship ended so quickly is truly heart breaking. Yondu is at the core of another relationship with Peter, where they have a father/son bond, although this is mainly explored through Peter’s new relationship with Ego. He can’t understand why his father would abandon his mother, but desperately feels the need to have him in his, life while Ego clearly abandoned her for for selfish reasons and hates himself for ever falling in love. They both want something that they feel they deserve, but neither is willing to give in to the others’ requests. Eventually, Peter learns that he has had a father figure in his life in the form of Yondu, who makes the ultimate sacrifice so that Peter can survive. This death is a massive gut punch, because Peter is losing a father and Rocket is losing a friend. Lastly is the relationship between the adopted daughters of Thanos: Nebula and Gamora, who were pitted against each other and tortured their entire lives. Those feelings finally come to a head, and they explore them the only way they know how… through violence. This is never depicted as abnormal, and feels like the way in which this family would resolve its issues because every family will deal with issues differently and that is okay. The original Guardians of the Galaxy had heart and writer/director James Gunn doubles down on it here.

The continuity of the larger MCU is more present here than in the previous instalment and, whilst rare, is incredibly important. Chronologically this is Marvel’s 10th film but it was released 15th which means that there were originally 4 Earth-based films between the volumes of Guardians of the Galaxy. It flows much better one after the other. Avengers Assemble introduces us to the dangers present in space, and it feels like the following films (Thor 2, Guardians 1 & 2) explore that theme. Possibly the largest piece of continuity comes in the form of the Stan Lee cameo, which is something that I have so far neglected to mention in any of my MCU reviews. He has had a cameo role in every single Marvel property which, by 2017, had led to a very popular fan theory. In the comics, there are a group of supernatural beings known as The Watchers, who simply exist to observe the universe, and it was theorised that Stan Lee was playing the role of a Watcher every single time he appeared. Word of the the theory reached Marvel and it appears that they were also a fan of the theory because, whilst he isn’t a Watcher, he is a Watcher informant, and is shown telling The Watchers of his adventures on Earth. He is specifically telling them of the time he was a FedEx delivery man, which isn’t a cameo we have yet seen chronologically as it appears in Captain America: Civil War. I suppose time works differently across the universe. The most important aspect of this role is the part it plays in immortalising the man himself, who clearly cared very deeply about the characters he had created and the fans who had helped make them a success, as an eternal being in the MCU. The second cameo comes curtesy of Howard the Duck, who was previously only glimpsed in the post-credits scene of the original Guardians of the Galaxy. There he was hidden away, almost ignorable, but here he is given an entire panning shot and line of dialogue as if to say “try ignoring this”. I spoke of his legacy in the previous review but that legacy is truly cemented here.

Whilst on the topic of post-credit scenes, I think Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2 has the most of any MCU property:

The first shows Kraglin, Yondu’s 2nd favourite Ravager, as he attempts to master Yondu’s whistle-controlled arrow with a head fin. The character has not yet returned but I can’t wait to see how far he has come when he finally does.

The second shows a crew of Yondu’s old Ravager teammates, who had previously ousted him for breaking the Ravager Code, reuniting after his funeral. I doubt we’ll ever see them again but it’s almost comforting to know that their out there, fighting the fight that Yondu would have wanted them to.

The third shows that Groot has grown into a teenager which acts as a nice piece of fluff after a film with some fairly heavy themes.

The fourth shows the leader of the Sovereigns, Ayesha, creating an artificial being to destroy The Guardians once for all, who she calls Adam. This has since been confirmed by James Gunn to be Adam Warlock who, in the comics, became a member of The Guardians himself, and will presumably play a part in Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 3, though this is still unconfirmed.

The fifth and final scene returns to Stan Lee, who is being abandoned by The Watchers although he states that he has so many stories left to tell. This hits a lot harder, having lost the legendary creator in 2018, and I can’t help but imagine the stories that will now go untold or the joy left un-given.

There remains one small Easter egg hidden inside the credits themselves, with the appearance of an as-yet-unintroduced character played by Jeff Goldblum. We will come to meet this man – The Grandmaster of Sakaar – in Thor: Ragnarok, which happened to be in production at the same time as Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2, and was released several months after. Given his role as an eternal being akin to Ego, this is a nice little nod and I’ll never turn down a surprise appearance by Goldblum, who always provides entertainment to any project he touches.

Personally, I prefer Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2 over Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 1. I think that the emotional core is deeper, and I’m a bigger fan of the country-centric soundtrack, which opens with the ever wonderful Mr Blue Sky. The film resonates with me on an emotional level, but still manages to pack in plenty of action. The visuals are also stunning, from Ego’s Planet to the Hyper-Jumps to the display at Yondu’s funeral. The whole MCU falls under the action/adventure umbrella, but the moments when it shines the brightest are in the moments of character growth, which this film has in spades. I think this is one of the franchise’s crowning achievements, and I’m delighted that Disney finally re-hired James Gunn for Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 3 after unjustly firing him.


Signed: Your friendly neighbourhood queer

Guardians of the Galaxy

2012’s Avengers Assemble was a success. It was a massive risk for Marvel Studios, but they had proved that a ‘cinematic universe’ could make millions of dollars at the Box Office, and that superhero movies could do the same. Of course, the shift in opinion towards superhero films wasn’t just thanks to Marvel, as DC had recently gained massive popularity with Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy and even in the early 2000s films like X-Men and Spider-Man were laying the groundwork. There have certainly always been fans for this kind of film but from 2008 onwards there was a real shift into mainstream pop culture so that, by 2014, they were really hitting their stride. All this is to say that with the release of Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel were taking yet another risk on a group that was not a household name and was, arguably, weirder than The Avengers.

Our core group of characters are a half human/half eternal being (Peter Quill), the cybernetically enhanced daughter of a madman (Gamora), a buff grey alien who takes everything literally (Drax), a cybernetically enhanced talking racoon (Rocket) and a talking tree (Groot). As bizarre as The Avengers were, at least they were all human(oid). Enter writer/director James Gunn- who you may remember as the man behind the legendary live-action Scooby Doo movies. He took each of The Guardians and boiled them down to their most human components, providing a heartfelt story in the process which is also soaked in action and humour. At the beginning of the film’s 3rd act, Quill notes that each of The Guardians have ‘lost stuff’ and the plot never shies away from that. At this point in the timeline, it might actually be the darkest that the MCU has gotten, with genocide and experimentation on living beings. The film opens with Quill’s mother dying of cancer, which in any other film might set the tone, yet Guardians of the Galaxy manages to be one of the most entertaining instalments in this entire franchise. The plot is juggling a mass of themes, characters, and moods but it never falters as a story. If I seem shocked, it’s because I am. Releasing a film like this at the time and having it be successful was only slightly shocking at the time, but in retrospect it seems like a miracle. Over the past decade, several movie studios have attempted to launch their own cinematic universes via team-up movies and, when compared to the MCU, it is very clear that none of them have any idea what they are doing. They all attempted to replicate Avengers Assemble, but realistically they should have been looking at Guardians of the Galaxy. The first was the culmination of several films of build up, but the latter built an entire team from the ground up in one film, which is part of what these other studios are trying and failing to accomplish.

The plot follows an adult Peter Quill, taken from Earth as a child by a group called The Ravagers, as he meets with his fellow Guardians and unwittingly ends up attempting to save the planet Xander from Ronan the Accuser. Quill’s love interest, Gamora, is the daughter of Thanos who is attempting to free herself from his clutches as well as the judgement of her murderous sister Nebula. I’m really not a fan of their romance, because Quill pesters her into it after she initially shows zero interest. It sends the message that if you ask somebody enough, they will give in to your demands, and I think that is really harmful especially in a film aimed at young teens. As relationships go, I much prefer the friendship of Rocket and Groot. Due to Groot’s limited vocabulary (I, am, and Groot), Rocket does all of the talking, which gives us a similar dynamic to Han Solo and Chewbacca or Shaggy and Scooby Doo, although its much more the former. Despite being motion captured/CGI characters, they have a very believable chemistry which leads to one of the saddest sacrifices in the MCU. I know it’s become a bit of a meme, but many of us really did cry when he said “WE are Groot” and despite living on as Baby Groot, the sacrifice is still meaningful. It’s a little like regeneration in Doctor Who in that it’s the same character but it also sort of isn’t. Then we have Drax, whose wife and daughter were murdered by Ronan, along with the rest of his village, and has sworn vengeance. He’s got a really simple arc but it’s built on the foundation of pure agony and I love him. Finally, there’s Yondu, leader of The Ravagers, who serves as Quill’s father figure and clearly loves him despite feeling that he can’t show it. Their relationship gets a solid introduction here, before being developed in the sequel, leading to yet another upsetting sacrifice.

In terms of continuity, there is a surprising amount for a film set lightyears away from Earth, and The Avengers. We get the return of Ronan the Accuser, having last seen him during the finale of Captain Marvel, 8 films ago. It would appear that his loss to Carol Danvers was the start of a destructive path that ended in genocide. We also get a proper introduction to The Collector (Taneleer Tivan if you want to use his actual name) having previously met him at the end of Thor: The Dark World. There’s something almost funny to me about him already having one Infinity Stone safely in storage but this one blows up his house. Probably the most important is the introduction of the mad Titan Thanos, who we previously glimpsed at the end of Avengers Assemble. He’s had a noticeable redesign since then, and even gets a few lines of dialogue. His aide also returns although he is swiftly killed by Ronan, which is oddly cathartic, and Thanos’ lack of reaction is a perfect demonstration of his strong, determined will. We also see how ruthless he can be through the cybernetic experimentation on his adopted daughters Gamora and Nebula, as well as his affinity for sitting down and letting other people do all the legwork for him. These points will all become relevant in time.

I couldn’t discuss Guardians of the Galaxy without mentioning the excellent soundtrack. A mixtape of music that Quill’s mother used to listen to, it has a narrative purpose but it’s also fun to listen to on its own. It’s so good that it was the first vinyl record I ever bought. It mixes brilliantly with the original score composed by Tyler Bates, which is itself filled with heart, soul and whimsy.

I want to round off this review by talking about legacy. By 2014, it was becoming clear that the MCU was here to stay, and that its films were going to range from okay to great. It’s a far cry from the Marvel Studios of 1986 who nearly toppled their house with Howard the Duck. Flash forward to the Guardians of the Galaxy post-credits scene 28 years later, and there sits the duck himself sipping a martini in the ruins of The Collectors home. Fully CGI, voiced by Seth Green, and the spitting image of his original comic book self. It was a shock to say the least, but I really think it exemplifies how far Marvel Studios has come and how aware of that progress they are. 1986 Howard isn’t their legacy anymore, this is, and that brings me a small sense of pride on their behalf. Guardians of the Galaxy is pure MCU. It’s bizarre, humorous and filled with darker themes but it’s also a shift from those early films into the MCU that followed. This isn’t just Kevin Fiege’s test project anymore, it’s his legacy.


Signed: Your friendly neighbourhood queer

Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed

I was a very sensitive child. When it came to animation, I could handle anything that wasn’t blood and gore but when it came to live-action entertainment, I was way in over my head. My mother tells me that she used to vet episodes of Doctor Who for me and I know for a fact that I couldn’t handle people getting stabbed, even Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. I tell you this so that you know what kind of head-space I was in when Scooby Doo 2 was released in the summer of 2004. Despite all this, it still managed to become one of my favourite childhood movies.

We follow Mystery Incorporated as they attempt to uncover the identity of a mysterious masked figure who is bringing ghoulish costumes to life in an attempt to unmask the meddling kids for the buffoons they really are. Not only is this film a direct sequel to 2002’s Scooby Doo but it also acts as a pseudo-sequel to the television series. Whilst this films predecessor seemed to be about moving in a new direction, this film revels in the glory days of yore by making it central to the plot. Having only ever seen animated costumes for every foiled villain, it’s rewarding to see them brought to life by the costume department. They also seem to have paid particular attention to detail when it comes to the Mystery Machine which is brought to life here by a 1984 Ford Transit Mk2. When it comes to adapting books or television shows into films, fans prefer for it to be done as faithfully as possible. I feel like Scooby Doo 2 has done this beautifully in terms of the creature costumes, set dressing and overall tone. The haunted mansion, Velma losing her glasses and over-abundance of ascots are all represented here as cheesy as ever.

The heart of the story, as before, is Shaggy and Scooby who are tired of always screwing things up for the team instead of being genuinely helpful. Whilst this theme was mildly present in the first film, it is thrust into the spotlight for this one. It could have easily come across as gimmicky but Matthew Lillards performance of Shaggy is tremendously heart-warming. His line delivery is so honest and pure that it’s no surprise he voiced the character until 2020’s Scoob!. Meanwhile Fred is teaching us that it’s ok for males to be emotional, Daphne is teaching us that you can be pretty and clever and Velma is teaching us that you are fine just as you are. Scooby Doo 2 is not just highly entertaining but it is also full of really positive messages for the younger audience. This is carried across brilliantly by the cast who have done a terrific job of portraying their characters throughout both films. I didn’t praise them in my previous piece but I want to rectify that here. They are all amazing and deserved a third movie.

The CGI has definitely improved in the two years between instalments, however there is still a huge emphasis on practical effects. The Black Knight Ghost, Captain Cuttler, Miner Forty-Niner and the Zombie are all costumes and prosthetics touched up with a hint of CGI. They look fantastic. Meanwhile the 10,000 Volt Ghost, Pterodactyl Ghost, Skeleton Men and Tar Monster are fully CGI. They also look fantastic…to an extent. Of course it hasn’t held up to the standards of today but as I discussed in my Scooby Doo review, they don’t need to. They can look slightly cartoonish and it still fits the overall tone/ characteristics of the movie. The designs are more detailed than the monsters in the previous entry but they also have individual character. The Black Knight Ghost is a macho brawler and the 10,000 Volt Ghost is kind of sassy but my favourite remains the Skeleton Men. Their sole purpose seems to be slap-stick and I am all here for that. It really hearkens back to the comedy of old cartoons and I love it.

Sadly, Scooby Doo 2 would be the last outing for this live-action squad. The film was panned upon release and, as far as I can find, this appears to be because it was considered too childish. one New York Times reviewer went so far as to claim that it was too similar to Saturday morning cartoons. Forgive me if I sound slightly pretentious but that seems like a really odd criticism for a children’s film. In the years that followed, the film would eventually pick up a following and would even be released on Blu-Ray alongside its predecessor in 2010. Sadly it means that we will never see a three-quel featuring this cast though, thanks to writer James Gunn, we do know what the plot would have entailed. It would have seen Mystery Inc summoned to a town in Scotland where monsters have been terrorising the locals. However we soon learn that it is the monsters who are the real victims and so the gang must come to grips with their own prejudices. Instead the series would get a reboot with a younger cast in 2009 with subsequent films being released directly to DVD. Now with 2020’s Scoob! returning to the teams animated routes, it seems like the era of live-action may be over but it should never be forgotten.

Until Next Time…

Signed: Your friendly neighbourhood queer

Scooby Doo (2002)

On the 13th of September 1969, a new children’s show about mystery-solving youths and their dog premiered on CBS. Created by Joseph Barbera and William Hana, Scooby Doo, Where Are You! ran for a mere 41 episodes, but would be the launching pad for an entire phantasmic franchise spanning 14 TV shows and 39 films. The majority of this media would be, and continues to be, animated, but one motion picture in 2002 dared to challenge that, leading to what has now been dubbed the live-action Scooby Doo movie.

We follow Mystery Incorporated as they reunite after 2 years apart to solve a case of unusual behaviour on the aptly named Spooky Island. However they get more than they bargained for when the monsters, for once, end up being the genuine article, and they must now prevent the ‘darkpocolypse’. Scooby Doo opens with the team in the middle of a caper, yet to disband, foiling the destruction of the Wow-O Toy factory by The Luna Ghost. It plays out like you would expect it to, with Velma concocting a plan, Daphne getting kidnapped, Fred taking charge and Scooby and Shaggy accidentally capturing the villain. It demonstrates a real understanding of the source material and gets us up to speed on the cartoonish reality of this universe, but the real story comes after the villain’s downfall, where the credits would usually roll. Velma, Daphne and Fred, in that order, decide that they’ve had enough of playing the same roles time and time again, leading them to go their separate ways and leaving the Mystery Machine with Shaggy and Scooby. It provides a solid emotional through-line to the story and results in a satisfying payoff though of course, it works better if you, like me, are already a fan of the franchise. When we catch up with everyone, two years have passed and they have all been individually invited to the Amusement Park getaway on Spooky Island. Fred has succumbed to his self-absorption, Velma has been on a journey of self discovery and Daphne has earned her black belt in karate, while Shaggy and Scooby have simply continued to live their best lives. With a story so centred on change, the friendship between Norville Rogers and Soobert Doobert Doo remains our one constant.

The plot is a lot of fun and that is certainly helped by the casting of Rowan Atkinson, of Mr Bean fame, as the island’s owner which sees him bring his unique sense of aloof-ness to a not-so-aloof film. Scooby Doo feels almost sinister in many places, but the talent of the cast and the slightly exaggerated decor of the island help it to maintain a camp edge. This universe has a certain amount of cartoon physics, with fall damage not being a real issue, but the gravity and weight of items, especially in collision with people, feels very real. The film may be rated PG but it very much feels like there is a 12 rating hiding just beneath the surface- and this is for good reason. Script writer James Gunn, now known for The Guardians of the Galaxy, has clarified that this was to be a more cynical take on the classic tales before Warner Brothers decided on a more family friendly approach. Language, jokes, sexual tension, and a kiss between Velma and Daphne were all cut, but hints at all of these things remain. There is a major focus on providing almost every member of the team with a love interest and I can’t help but wonder if Velma’s was added to distract from her obvious admiration for Daphne. Had the studio carried through on Gunn’s original plan, this would most likely have been one of the most important films of its age. Queer characters in a prominently children’s franchise would have meant so much the the community, especially its younger members, and I really admire Gunn for trying. While this element may be mostly missing, there is only a certain amount of skimpy clothing that can be ignored and Scooby Doo has plenty. There is only so much cleavage that you can cover with 2000’s CGI and I’d imagine that it helped the film keep that PG rating as well as keeping teenage eyes occupied.. Sadly, only one version of the film was made, so we will never see Gunn’s original script brought to life through a #ReleasetheGunnCut movement.

While the emotional and plot elements have sustained the test of time, the same cannot be said of the film’s CGI. Scooby himself is actually fairly decent, especially as far as his fur is concerned, and all these years later I find myself so thankful that they didn’t go down the photo-realistic route. Don’t get me wrong, I’m for photo-realism to an extent, but only in minimal amounts and only when required, because I think that it really won’t hold up to scrutiny. At best, it is slightly off-putting, but at worst you find yourself entering the uncanny valley and that is why I think Scooby’s design holds up. It’s CGI, but it isn’t ashamed to be, and allows him to remain closer to his 2D animated counterpart whilst sustaining all the cartoonish possibilities that entails. On the other hand, we have the island’s monsters which come out sort of rubbery. They don’t posses much detail and are probably supposed to be kind of scaly, but that does not translate well. With that said, none of the CGI, be it Scooby, the monsters or the floating spirit heads, are especially off-putting. In fact, it almost fits the cartoonish nature of the film and the very 2002 aesthetic that it has.

There are movies that feel dated, movies that feel timeless, and movies that feel exactly like the year in which they were made. Scooby Doo feels like 2002. The soundtrack is comprised of music from that year, which was designed to emulate the pop rock of the 1990s but doesn’t. There’s even a cameo from long-forgotten boyband Sugar Ray. Perhaps the most glaring demonstration of 2002 is the fashion. Liberty hair spikes, bedazzled jean pockets and denim-centric attire- you’re faves are all here! I feel like somebody should apologise for early 2000s fashion, not because it was offensive, but because it’s just really weird. Scooby Doo is a perfect encapsulation of how the world was upon its release and as such should be preserved as a historic artefact.

It’s become one of those “meme-able movies” but, if I’m honest, I think Scooby Doo is worth more than that. The characterisations are spot-on and the camp tone is perfectly Hana-Barbera. I appreciate it for being this fun little moment in the ever expanding history of the franchise, and I adore it for the sequel it gave us. Somehow this film remains the best attempt at a Mystery Inc motion picture, and includes so much of the joy and heart that the franchise is built on. I’m sad that we only ever got the two and now, thanks to Scoob!, I’m a little sad that they never spun this off into a whole Hana-Barbera Cinematic Universe. After all, that was kind of their thing.

Until Next Time…

Signed: Your friendly neighbourhood queer