Tag Archives: Batman

If I Made GOTHAM

For a little while now, I’ve been unexcited about the concept behind FOX’s upcoming Batman prequel, GOTHAM. I don’t know if it’s because Smallville teased me for a decade or because I was more excited for Heroes than I have ever beenabout any other show. Ever.

You should note that these criticisms have nothing to do with what we’ve seen of GOTHAM at all. And that’s fair. The cast looks great. The trailer actually looks pretty amazing.

But I guess I just don’t see the point. I wouldn’t be shocked if some of the show had been inspired by Gotham Central, which I quite enjoyed. The premise being what super crime in Gotham looks like from the street view the cops have.

But the takeaway of these stories for me is that there need to be superheroes. Which I totally agree with, but why would I want to watch a show that doesn’t have any?

A Different Kind of Show

So if I were doing GOTHAM, I think the first thing I would do is get rid of Gotham City. It’s too well-known and the idea of Batman is so provocative you risk creating a Batman babies program with kid Catwoman and young Joker. I say forget that noise. Instead, I would do a completely generic police procedural like you see on TNT. There would be dramatic scenes, compelling music, and beautiful, brooding protagonists staring directly at the screen a la Rizzoli and Iles or Cold Case.

And I would keep it completely mundane for the entire first season. Just the typical one-shot criminals and police drama. And then in the second season, a few episodes in, I would hit the protagonists with their first supervillain. No one knows where he or she came from or why they do it. All the cops know is they’re darn near unstoppable and they barely run them out of town.

At this point, careful observers might have noticed the tiniest hints of weirdness around the edges of the first season that foreshadowed something else going on. And then the show would go back to normal for a little bit while everyone wondered what the #$?! was going on.

And the show would carry on like that for a while. Normal police procedural that occasionally sees a supervillain pop in a do something crazy. It would be a subtle escalation that tests the limits of our heroes and gives a true view of what everyday life looks like when you have to live in a world with superpowers.

And then around season 4 the first superhero would show up. Just out of the blue, after the cops are getting used to just barely winning and seeing friends die at the hands of super crazies, a masked vigilante shows up and changes the game.

And this is where it gets really interesting. The show turns out to have been a hero origin story the whole time, but from the perspective of our dynamic police force. And like the cops, the show doesn’t reveal who the hero is or how they became what they are. Instead we’re left guessing if it’s one of the supporting cast or some bit criminal from season 1. Could just be some guy no one knows.

Maybe eventually the police even form an alliance, if they ever figure out he’s not just another nut job and stop trying to arrest him.

GothamAnd I would have the story arcs for each season pre-written, so we could lay down clues and foreshadow events years out.

At least that’s how I would do it, with nods to sources like Gotham Central, Irredeemable, and Nemesis –works I’m stealing from in spirit if not directly.

It would be a long con for sure, and I expect no basic cable station would want anything to do with it in the age of instant gratification television. And if it did get a first season, there would be the constant threat of cancellation. But imagine audience reaction once it started to get real. And maybe this kind of show is too conceptual for modern television. Hard to say, but I do think we live in an embarrassment of superhero riches. As the genre’s creative boundaries stretch further and further, maybe some enterprising, young artists will read this and steal it.

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What Batman Means to Me.

In honor of the 75th Anniversary of Batman, I’ve decided to write about my favorite hero of all time, The Caped Crusader.

"You ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?" [image prop. of Warner Bros.]

“You ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?” [image prop. of Warner Bros.]

One my fondest childhood nerd memories was when I went to see Tim Burton’s 1989 classic (and I legitimately mean that), Batman, starring Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson. I was only six or seven at the time, but for me it was a life-changing experience. The moment when he was holding the purse-snatching thug over the side of the building and the thug frantically asks, “What are you?”, and Gotham’s Dark Knight replied in his fearsome, non-just-gargled-glass tone, “I’m Batman.” He then tossed the terrified scumbag back to the roof and leaped off into the shadows of the city. I had goosebumps when I first experienced that scene and have every time since then. That was the moment when I knew Batman was my superhero, the hero that would forever be the paramount of all heroes. None would ever compare to him and none have, save for The Doctor, who could ever only tie with him.

Just in case you need your memory jogged, this is the moment:

Growing up, I was a Batman fanatic. I had toys, I had t-shirts, I had comic books and anything else I could get my hands on. I was obsessed. I used to run around the yard or the playground pretending to be Batman. I would sit and watch reruns of the ’60s Batman television series with Adam West and Burt Ward. When I received an original Game Boy for Christmas one year, one of the first games I got was Batman: Return of the Joker. I almost wore out the cartridge playing from playing it so much. I lost count of how many times that I beat the Joker. I could not get enough of Batman.

He was the best kind of hero: incredibly intelligent and clever, strong, agile, trained in many styles of martial arts, and resourceful. He was rich, which when I was a kid, was freaking sweet. He was a detective, using his brains to solve crimes instead of running around beating the confessions out criminals. He had the best costume in comic books. And he didn’t kill, which I tend to disagree with every now and then, but it’s an admirable gesture. My favorite thing about him was that he was human. He wasn’t a super-powered alien or a robot or a god, nor was he given powers by some sort freak accident. He was just a regular guy using his brain and the gadgets he made to clean up the streets of Gotham.

Batman: The Animated Series [image prop. of Warner Bros.]

Batman: The Animated Series [image prop. of Warner Bros.]

Throughout the years, my admiration has never wavered, never faltered. Even with some less than desirable mishaps in the adaptations of the character (Batman & Robin), I’ve always stayed true. Thankfully, there have been more good than bad when it comes to Batman on the big and small screens.

For example, Batman: The Animated Series, which is widely regarded as the best adaptation of the Dark Knight ever to be created. I wholeheartedly agree. The superior writing, the phenomenal animation work by Bruce Timm, and the outstanding voice acting from Kevin Conroy (Batman) and Mark Hamill (Joker) that will forever be ingrained into the memory banks of every fan of the show. If you haven’t watched every episode of that entire series at least once, you haven’t truly lived. I mean seriously…what have you been doing with your life?!

Here’s one of my favorite episode’s, Joker’s Favor:

Batman TAS – 1×22 – Joker’s Favor

Most, if not all, of the other animated version have been exceptionally entertaining but none so much as Batman: TAS. It’s quite difficult to live up to its perfection. The Batman, Batman Beyond, The Dark Knight Returns Parts 1 & 2, and pretty much any other animated version that came out were all done remarkably well, especially Batman Beyond. It was essentially a sequel to TAS, but its story took place in a future Gotham where Batman had become to old and broken to continue on. He had hung up his cape and cowl and chose to retire until a young man by the name of Terry McGinnis came along and took up the mantle. Once again, the series was blessed with excellent writers, stories, characters, and voice actors, which makes this series a close second to the greatness of TAS. Will Friedle (Eric Matthews from Boy Meets World) was a fantastic choice to voice Terry. Beyond is another series that needs to be viewed multiple times just because it’s that good. Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, an animated movie continuation of the series, is a top notch choice for multiple viewings. For a children’s animated film, it was actually somewhat disturbing, but not in a bad way.

The movies were another story though. They started off really well and then descended on a downward spiral with each sequel. Tim Burton brought Batman to life in 1989 with the first of two films (Batman Returns being the second), starring Michael Keaton as the Dark Knight. Keaton’s Batman is my absolute favorite version of the character. To me, he was the perfect Bruce Wayne and Batman. He was dark and menacing, charming and aloof, heroic and fearless, all when needed to be. The films were dark in their tone, just as they should’ve been, and the villains were amazing: Jack Nicholson as The Joker, Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman, and Danny DeVito as the Penguin created three of the best villains ever to grace the screen.

Then 1995 came along, Tim Burton and Michael Keaton didn’t want to continue doing the films, so Joel Schumacher and Val Kilmer took over as director and star, respectively. Things changed rather quickly with Batman Forever. The scenery was dark but not as dreary, everything turned neon and bright, and the villains became a little more over the top. They introduced an older Robin, changed Harvey Dent from black to white, and cast Jim Carrey as the Riddler. Actually, Carrey’s version of the Riddler was one of my favorites. Yes it was a bit over the top, but if you pay close attention, it’s not hard to tell that it’s a homage to Frank Gorshin’s version from ’60s series. I don’t hate this film, I rather enjoy it.

Now as for 1997’s Batman & Robin, that’s a whole ‘nother story. I despise this poorly-written, over-acted, over-the-top, campy, cartoonish piece of trash with all of my being. George Clooney became Batman, Alicia Silverstone became Batgirl (and also Alfred’s niece, not the Commissioner’s daughter), Uma Thurman hammed it up as Poison Ivy, Bane became a mindless henchman, and Arnold Schwarzenegger took a huge dump on my favorite Batman villain, Mr. Freeze. HUGE DUMP. I have never been so appalled by a film in all my life, and it’s mostly because of his performance. It makes me sick just thinking about it.  This film is such a blemish on the film history of Batman that most fans, including myself, completely disregard it as part of the series. It makes Phantom Menace look like Citizen Kane.

Awful. Just awful. [image prop. of Warner Bros.]

Awful. Just awful. [image prop. of Warner Bros.]

Luckily, eight years later, Christopher Nolan came along and rebooted the films with Batman Begins. In doing so, he also restored my faith in cinema as well as humanity. This film essentially brought Batman out of the comic book and into the real world. Nolan gave the Batman mythos depth and grounded it in reality, making viewers feel as Batman was flesh and blood and not some cartoon character. Begins was the start of one the best film trilogies ever, followed by The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises. Christian Bale did a remarkable job with the characters of Batman and Bruce Wayne, although his Batman voice did need a bit of work. He was able to capture the character in a way that rivaled what Keaton had done before. And with TDK, we were graced with the greatest interpretation of The Joker that we may ever see, thanks to the late Heath Ledger. Such a sadistic and homicidal, yet still hilarious, version that even Jack Nicholson’s version pales in comparison. And I will fight anyone who says differently (not really though). It was a sad day when Nolan declared that he would not be continuing with the series after the third film, after he had done such amazing things with it already. An even sadder day came when it was announced that Ben Affleck would be taking over as Batman, but that’s a rant for another time.

And let’s not forget about the games, mainly just the Arkham series, because pretty much every other Batman game has sucked. Except for Batman: Return of the Joker for the original Gameboy, of course. If you want to experience what it’s like to be Batman but don’t have billions of dollars to buy all the gear and don’t feel like getting the crap kicked out of you, then play the Arkham series. Well written, well designed, and they brought back Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill! Truly some of the best games ever made and worth every minute you’ll spend completely engrossed in them.

But I think I may have gotten off topic… What Batman means to me. For me, and I know this may sound corny, Batman has always been a hero. He’s a sign of hope in even the most grim of situations. A light in the darkness, if you will, even though he dwells in the darkness. He’s justice when there is none, courage in a city that is drowning in fear, strength even when the world breaks your back and leaves you for dead. As a kid, when I was afraid, pretending to be him or asking myself “What would Batman Do?” helped me to overcome a great deal of fear. Some might say there are other real heroes to look up to, but to me, he was real. He was the hero I needed in the worst of times. He was a mortal human who fought a great deal of injustice and super-powered villains and never faltered. He just kept fighting. He’d keep going if it killed him. He was and always will be a great protector. And in my opinion will always be a greater and more powerful hero than Superman ever could be. The fact that he could die at any moment, be killed by any foe he faces, and yet he continues fighting and protecting and making sure justice is served, without killing, is what makes him so incredible. Out of his greatest tragedy (the murder of his parents), he has gathered the courage and strength to become the greatest hero that Gotham, and the world, has ever seen. And because of that he has become the one of the greatest heroes many in the real world, including myself, have ever seen.

To me, Batman is courage, strength, hope, determination, intelligence, kindness, justice, and so many other wonderful things that have helped make me the person I am today. And I will continue to use what I have learned for the rest of my days. I will pass this knowledge on to my children and I will teach them about the greatness of Batman and how truly spectacular he is and what they can learn from him. He will forever be a part of who I am.

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NanaNanaNanaNana BAT-NEWS!

Just when you thought it couldn’t get better than Batman: Arkham Origins, this happened:

That’s right, Rocksteady is back with Batman: Arkham Knight. Everyone thought they were done with the franchise and Warner Bros. Games Montreal would be taking over the series, but while you were busy with Origins, they were secretly creating the grand finale that is Arkham Knight.

I want to drive it SOOOOOOOO bad!

I want to drive it SOOOOOOOO bad!

From the trailer, you can see that Two-Face and the Penguin have returned to wreak more havoc and carnage on the city of Gotham. It has also been announced that the legendary Kevin Conroy has returned to voice Batman, as it should be. And it appears that Batman is more armored than he has ever been, so I’m gonna say that there will be a MASSIVE amount of fighting in this game. Best bit of news that I’ve heard is that the Batmobile will be drivable! ARE YOU FREAKIN’ KIDDING ME?!?! The beastly-looking, Tumbler-style Batmobile is drivable. Thank you very much, Rocksteady. If you were real, I would hug you.

Unfortunately for me, this game will only be for Xbox One, Playstation 4, and Windows. I do not currently have either of the two systems and my computer is not powerful enough to run a game as incredible as this will be. If anyone would like to donate either a Xbox One, a Playstation 4, and/or a powerful gaming computer to me before this game comes out, I’ll be waiting a while to play it. Sad face.

In other Batman-related news, Gotham has cast its Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle. Fox has cast David Mazouz as the preteen Bruce Wayne and Camren Bicondova as teenage Selina Kyle before she became Catwoman. Bicondova is a newcomer, while Mazouz recently co-starred with Kiefer Sutherland on Fox’s Touch. Along with following Gordon’s pre-Batman years with Gotham P.D., the show will also follow Selina’s early days as a thief and pickpocket. However, the show will also follow a young Bruce Wayne after his parents were killed and before he becomes Batman, which means we may be looking at a lot of crying and whining and tantrums about how unfair it is that his parents were taken away from him. I’m sure we’re in for some rebellious acting out and more things of the like. The first season might get annoying for Bruce’s story, at least until he starts training. Hopefully it’ll be more of a background story to Gordon’s tale.

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The Road to Gotham is Paved With Good Intentions

If it’s not one thing, it’s another. If someone’s not remaking or rebooting something, they’ve gotta make a prequel or an origin story. Granted, it’s more satisfying to watch the latter two (except for the Star Wars prequels). In most cases it can be quite interesting to see how your favorite character(s) came to be.

I'm just wondering how Ben McKenzie is going to look with that sweet Jim Gordon mustache.

I’m just wondering how Ben McKenzie is going to look with that sweet Jim Gordon mustache.

This is definitely the case for Fox’s upcoming series, Gotham. Based in Batman’s hometown, the series follows everyone’s favorite Batman ally, Jim Gordon, as he begins his career with Gotham P.D. Long before he was Commissioner Gordon, he was just a rookie cop trying to keep Gotham City safe. Not the easiest thing to do in such a broken city, where the city officials and police officers are just as corrupt as the criminals, if not more.

Hopefully they'll focus less on Bruce going through puberty and more on him going through training.

Hopefully they’ll focus less on Bruce going through puberty and more on him going through training.

The show will also be focusing on an adolescent Bruce Wayne after the tragic death of his parents, following him throughout his youth and teenage years, as he gains all the worldly knowledge that he’ll need to become the Caped Crusader. Honestly, I’m not quite sure how entertaining all of that is going to be. The later years should be more interesting than the earlier but the writers are bound to find a way to make it all exciting. Something about Bruce Wayne attending private school and sitting through classes just makes me yawn. Might have to fast-forward through those scenes. Once he gets into his training and preparation, that’s where the fun will start.

A plus side to the show is that you’ll get to see how some of Batman’s greatest foes came to be. The Joker, the Penguin, Catwoman, and many others will have their origins told but instead of fighting the Dark Knight, they’ll have to contend with the tough-as-nails Jim Gordon. It’ll be interesting to see if they use the “Red Hood” origin story to introduce the Joker or if they’ll find a brand new way. If they keep with the proper timeline of things, we probably won’t get to see Two-Face, Mr. Freeze, the Riddler, or Scarecrow, but you never know. We may get to see their pre-villainous forms, which could still be intriguing.

Can he be the tough, honest cop that Gotham needs?

Can he be the tough, honest cop that Gotham needs?

So far, there is a basic cast list for the show, just some of the main characters so far. Ben McKenzie as Jim Gordon, which I’m all for because he’s actually a really good actor and can totally make it work. If you want proof, watch Southland. Donal Logue as Gordon’s partner, Harvey Bullock, is another solid casting choice. He’s one of my favorite actors and will pull off the rough-around-the-edges cop role nicely. Sean Pertwee, son of the Third Doctor, Jon Pertwee, will play the role of Alfred Pennyworth, Bruce Wayne’s caregiver and protector. He’s got the “middle-aged, ex-marine Alfred” look to him. So far, only two villains have been cast: Robin Lord Taylor as Oswald Cobblepot (aka The Penguin) and Jada Pinkett Smith as Fish Mooney, a sadistic crime gangster and nightclub owner, as well as Oswald’s boss. Both very interesting choices and I’m excited to see what they do with the roles.

From the first announcement of it, I’ve gone back and forth with this show. I was okay with it when they said it was going to focus on Gordon and the Gotham P.D. Then there was a rumor that the show was going to be more like Smallville, with Bruce and the villains being in high school together, which I was completely against because it’s a ridiculous idea. But now with the confirmation of the way the show is actually going to be, I’m more excited than ever about Gotham. I shall remain skeptical however, as I have been let down before by comic-book-to-television adaptations (Birds of Prey). As I grow older, I learn with every new adaptation to reserve judgement until the final product is revealed. So until it premieres, I’ll will remain excited, yet reserved.

What are your thoughts on Gotham? Post your comments in the comments section.

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MoS2 is to The Avengers, as GoBots are to Transformers

You could also say “Man of Steel 2 is to The Avengers, as Mega Bloks are to Legos.” Either way, it works. Now I shall explain what I mean.

The Avengers was well made, well assembled, and everyone wanted it, just like Transformers and Legos (I’m referring to the toys in this instance). From the moment Marvel started piecing their gigantic, kick-ass puzzle, all the pieces fell together so nicely and at no point did I worry about their casting choices. Even when Chris Evans went from being the Human Torch to Captain America, I thought it was a good choice. The whole damn thing just felt right. Not to mention, they started off on a damn good foot with Iron Man. From there, they built up to something absolutely spectacular, as they should have.

The same cannot be said for DC and whatever it is they’re doing with Man of Steel 2 (aka the Batman vs Superman movie). To me, the only solid casting choice they’ve made so far is Henry Cavill as Clark Kent/Superman. Actually, their casting choices for characters in the first film was actually pretty damn solid, my favorite being Michael Shannon as General Zod. However, casting for the sequel has left me question the mental stability at Warner Bros.

The new Batman. How ya like dem apples?

The new Batman. How ya like dem apples?

First, there’s Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne/Batman. I have not been a fan of this decision from the very beginning… but I’m willing to give him a chance. He’s shown in recent years that he has matured as an actor and is an excellent writer and director. But does he have what it takes to be Batman? I’m still very iffy about that. He could be awesome and rank up there with Keaton and Bale or he could suck like Clooney did and be forever shunned. I have a strong feeling that he’s not taking this task lightly and he’s really going to dedicate himself to the role. As a Batman fan himself, I believe he knows this is not a role one can just phone in. The fanatics will eat him alive. My doubts will remain until the film is released, so I guess only time will tell if this was a good choice or not.

Next is Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. Honestly, I really know nothing of the woman, other than what I’ve read since she was cast. A model/actress who’s big break came from the recent Fast and Furious films. Doesn’t really give much assurance. I mean, it’s not like I’m really in an uproar about this one. I was never a huge Wonder Woman fan anyway. She may surprise the hell outta all of us and be the best damn WW they could’ve cast. She might also be completely awful and end up making Warner Bros regret not casting someone else. But still, don’t care too much on this one.

I just don't see it.

I just don’t see it.

This most recent bit of casting really boggles my mind: Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor and Jeremy Irons as Alfred Pennyworth. What the actual eff?! I don’t see it, I just don’t. When Eisenberg was cast, the must have misheard the request for Heisenberg (Bryan Cranston) and cast Jesse instead. That’s the only thing I can figure. I’ve come to terms with the notion of Bryan Cranston being Lex Luthor but I don’t think I’ll ever come to terms with Jesse Eisenberg in the role. There is nothing about him that makes me think he can play the character well. Nothing about the way he looks or acts or anything. He’s gonna need to pull a serious hat trick for this one. For me, he’d be better suited to play the character of Lenny from Superman 4, if they decided to bring him back.

And as for Jeremy Irons, I’ve always seen him as more suited for the villain role. He’s played heroes before but he makes a much better villain. I mean, have you seen Die Hard with a Vengeance?! He’s better suited for Alfred than Eisenberg is for Luthor but I would’ve cast him as Mr. Freeze or Ra’s al Ghul before I cast him as Alfred. He would make an incredible Mr. Freeze, without a doubt. I could even see him as The Riddler. But I guess, his casting is a bit more palatable than Jesse’s.

Like I said before, my doubts will remain until the film is released before I make my final judgement but it would be nice to have the confidence in this film like I did with The Avengers.

One last thought: I want Stephen Amell’s Green Arrow to be part of the DC Cinematic Universe. No one else should play the part. Back off, Justin Hartley.

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Geeky Updates Galore!

So, a lot is going on in the world of Geek Cinema, as I like to call it. I thought now would be a good time for a round-up.

The Sorcerer Supreme

The Sorcerer Supreme

1. Marvel courting Johnny Depp for the role of Doctor Strange?!

-Let’s hope not. Don’t get me wrong, I think Depp is an incredible actor but I’m sick of seeing him in EVERYTHING and I think there are other equally talented actors out there that would be better suited for the role. Jim Caviezel, Justin Theroux, Viggo Mortensen, Oded Fehr, Joseph Fiennes, and Karl Urban, just to name a few. Thankfully, the rumors of him being courted for the role are just that, rumors. And let’s hope they stay that way.

 

 

I hope there's some excellent special features on this.

I hope there’s some excellent special features on this.

2. THE ADAM WEST BATMAN TV SERIES FROM ’66 IS FINALLY COMING TO DVD (AND HOPEFULLY BLU-RAY)!!!

-You heard me right. After years and years and years of waiting, the series is finally being officially released. Thank you, Warner Bros! I’ve waited too long for this. TOO LONG.

 

 

Could this be Aquaman?

Could this be Aquaman?

3. Man of Steel 2/Batman vs. Superman just keeps turning into Justice League more and more every day.

– Henry Cavill and Ben Affleck as Superman and Batman, respectively. Then came Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. Then there were rumors of Denzel Washington and Dwayne Johnson for the role of Green Lantern. And there was also the rumor of Jason Momoa being eyed for the role of Martian Manhunter (but I’d prefer Lobo). Well now we have Josh Holloway being sought for the role of Aquaman. Seriously? I really hope Warner Bros doesn’t end up turning the film into another Spider-man 3. We all remember Spider-man 3, don’t we? Hopefully all of these roles, if actually cast, will just be small cameos at the end of the film to set-up a JLA film. Hopefully.

 

Soak in all that douchebag-y goodness.

Soak in all that douchebag-y goodness.

 

4. Michael Douglas is Hank Pym in Ant-Man.

-Yep. Gordon Gekko is Hank Pym, which I guess makes sense because they were both major A-holes. So maybe this will work. I’m still on the fence about this because I think he’s overrated as an actor. I think Paul Rudd was a great choice, Michael Douglas…not so much. But I guess I’ll just wait and see.

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Superheroes and the Small Screen

With Marvel and Netflix inking a deal to bring “Marvel’s Flawed Heroes of Hell’s Kitchen” to the small screen (Netflix being an internet version of television), there is the potential for even more heroes to follow the same path.

"The Man Without Fear"  [image property of Marvel Comics]

“The Man Without Fear”
[image property of Marvel Comics]

After regaining the rights to Punisher, Ghost Rider, Daredevil, and Blade, fans have been wondering what plans Marvel had for their darker properties. Now we (sort of) have an answer. Starting in 2015, Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and Jessica Jones will each have their own 13-episode runs on Netflix, culminating in a “The Defenders” mini-series. Depending on how successful this deal ends up being, it could open a lot of doors for other Marvel characters. And maybe even characters from other comic publishers.

For starters, an unrated Punisher series, made in the same vein of the Marvel MAX imprint, would be phenomenal. An unrelenting, bloody, violent, carnage-filled series showcase how truly badass the Punisher is, is exactly what Marvel needs. The same goes for Blade. It needs to be uncensored, violent and bloody. It’s a story about a half human/half vampire that hunts and kills other vampires. But it should definitely not star Kirk “Sticky Fingaz” Jones. I don’t think Wesley Snipes should reprise the role either. We need a fresh perspective for both Blade and The Punisher.

Marc Spector/Moon Knight [image property of Marvel Comics]

Marc Spector/Moon Knight
[image property of Marvel Comics]

From there they could venture into the realm of a character like Moon Knight. He’s essentially Marvel’s version of Batman but with a few differences. He believes he’s the avatar for the Egyptian god of vengeance, so he might be just a tad bit crazy. Where Batman fights crime to avenge the murder of his parents, Moon Knight will kick the crap out of anyone he thinks deserves a butt-kicking because it makes him feel better about all the people he killed as a mercenary. He’s rich and uses gadgets like Batman, but he fights with a different code of ethics, so that could make for some interesting story arcs. After that they could even branch out to Cloak and Dagger, Black Panther, or Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier.

Other comic publishers could take notes from this and bring characters from Hellblazer, The Sandman, B.P.R.D., Preacher, 100 Bullets, Y the Last Man, and so on to life. DC Comics might have some success with this venture, even though they’ve had some recent success with Arrow and possibly even more success with a Flash spin-off, they still had shows for Aquaman and Wonder Woman that never made it past their pilot episodes. This might be the perfect way to set up their Justice League movie. Characters like Aquaman, The Flash, Green Arrow, Wonder Woman, Hawkman, Green Lantern, and Martian Manhunter might not have what it takes to hold their own on the big screen like Batman (and to a lesser extent, Superman) but they would probably do very well (if written, acted, and directed properly) on the small screen. They shouldn’t be discourage by their previous failures, but be encouraged by the success of Smallville and Arrow.

The big screen has been good for Marvel, and I think the small screen will too. They have been able to dominate the competition quite easily and, from the looks of things, will continue to do so. But in order to stay in the game, the other comic book companies need to step up their game and start trying to make things happen in new outlets. Netflix, HULU Plus, iTunes, Amazon Video…something. The fans want to see their favorite characters brought to life, as long as it’s done well. A season or more of one-hour episodes gives you more time to fully develop a characters story than a few two-hour films would.  A leap to the small screen could be just the way to give them what they want.

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Randomness from Rob’s Random Mind: Chapter One

1. Ben Affleck as Batman

I’m still not a fan of him being Batman, but he is pretty damn funny. I’ll give him credit for taking all the crap he’s getting in stride. Taking it like a champ. But it comes with the territory, I guess.

Fluid Man, Coil Man, Multi-Man

Fluid Man, Coil Man, Multi-Man

 

 

2. The Impossibles

I’m probably one of four people that remember this cartoon, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be revived with a live action movie. A trio of rock and roll musicians who become superheroes when there’s danger…the story practically writes itself. Superhero movie are all the craze now, so this could be a huge success.

RALLY HO!

3. Josh Homme vs. Jay Z

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Take that, Jigga Man!

Apparently, Jay Z is a bit of a douchebag. At his Made In America Fest, he had his security search everyone that performed. Josh Homme from Queens of the Stone Age wasn’t a fan of that idea at all. Jay Z also wanted them to take pictures with the champagne that he gave them, another thing that struck a nerve with Homme. “And I thought that’s not a gift that is a marketing tool. So I destroyed it. Because I thought it was rude overall. And you shouldn’t frisk my guys, you should f–k off.” [source]

Job well done, Josh Homme.

4. Arrow Season 2

I’m pretty stoked for season two. Black Canary, more Deathstroke, and The Flash. Bring it on! Who knows what other heroes and villains will be introduced this season. There were a few references to Bludhaven, so maybe they’ll bring in Nightwing. Crossing my fingers for that one. Also hoping they find a way to tie the Arrow universe to the Man of Steel cinematic universe.

5. Supernatural Season 9

Just try to watch the new promo trailer and not get excited for the new season. No more angels?! Holy crap! What are the Winchesters gonna do without the assistance of Castiel. I mean, he’ll still be around but without any powers. All hell is gonna break loose! (No pun intended)

Plus, Death is back! Huzzah!

6. NaNoWriMo

National Novel Writing Month is about a month and a half away. I’m definitely going to try my hardest to participate in it this year. I need to avoid procrastinating with it like I do every year. I need the motivation, something that’ll kick me in the butt and get me to write on a regular basis.

7. PUMPKIN FLAVORED EVERYTHING!

*drool*

*drool*

My favorite part of Fall, other than Halloween, is that pumpkin flavored food and drink is available in abundance. So much deliciousness for me to enjoy! There’s also Peppermint flavored items but those are more of a Winter/Christmas thing. More on that later. Recommendations: Edy’s Pumpkin Ice Cream, Ben & Jerry’s Pumpkin Cheesecake Ice Cream, Pumpkin Cheesecake, Pumpkin rolls, Pumpkin pie, Pumpkin Cappuccino, and Pumpkin fudge. YUM!

 

 

 

The Princess Bride. Excellent film.

The Princess Bride. Excellent film.

8. Mawwiage

“Mawwiage. Mawwiage is what bwings us togethew today. Mawwiage, that bwessed awwangement, that dweam within a dweam. And wove, twue wove, wiww fowwow you fowevah and evah… So tweasuwe youw wove”

I’m getting married on the 28th of September, and I couldn’t be more excited. Just wanted to throw that out there. Love is a wonderful, wonderful thing, folks.

*happy face*

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Superman Doesn’t Kill

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Who the hell is this guy?

Last week I engaged in a Facebook melee about whether or not Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel is a fair representation of Superman. As someone who believes Superman would be on the slippery slope to total f***ing bonkers, I find myself not at all enjoying the dark, brooding Superman.

Honestly, it’s not that big a deal. I like Superman, but I’m not too invested in his movie franchise. So, for the most part, the fact that Zack Snyder’s vision of the Man of Steel is joyless doesn’t faze me much. Whatever sense of wonder the movie elicits is completely subdued by the dark, broody fighting and collateral damage.

And that’s fine. What I can’t get past is Superman killing, especially so soon in the new franchise. Superman doesn’t kill. Period. And instead of voicing the reasons why I feel that way on Facebook, it makes more sense to do it here.

Superman Is The First

Superman is the first superhero. Ever. That’s a huge deal. He is the originator of the comic book golden age and I believe because of that he, more than any other hero, has largely maintained his sense of innocence. While golden age comics were for kids and the audience now is quite a bit older, Superman remains the standard for iconic superheroes. Some heroes have reinvented themselves or have been retconned, but Superman remains largely the same. Some of the details have changed, but standing for justice hasn’t.

In the golden age, heroes didn’t kill. Generally speaking, villains didn’t kill either. Through the silver age and the iron age into modern comics, I’ve only found one instance where Superman purposefully took a life. Any Superman fan worth their salt might, at this moment, point at Doomsday and say “he killed that thing!” And that is true, but I’m not convinced that was his intention. Like a punch-drunk brawler, a delirious Superman was just trying to end that fight.

There have been a few accidents here and there and we’ve seen some collateral damage and reprisals, but Superman has only ever chosen to kill once. In Superman #22 he poisoned an alternate universe version of Zod and two of his lieutenants.

And it destroyed him.

Superman realized that he had become something he didn’t recognize and left Earth. He had to do all this soul searching and come to terms with what he understood was a completely wrong act. Being the first hero and an avatar for what we think of as truth, justice and the American way, he’s special. Superman is different than all other superheroes because of that history.

Which is why when he does choose to kill, as he did in Superman #22, he stops being Superman. He becomes something else.

Superman Isn’t A Villain

Sometimes people suggest that Superman or another hero should just kill their villains and save the thousands of lives that are otherwise lost by entrusting them to the criminal justice system. I’ve even argued that Batman probably should just kill the Joker. And I stand by that because I would argue it’s just as heroic for a man to sacrifice his own values to save the world as it is to sacrifice his life.

Killing is just too easy for a man that can shoot lasers at you from space. Batman doesn’t believe in guns and would have to get close in many circumstances–not to mention all the planning and critical thinking about how to take that life. Superman, meanwhile, can snuff out thousands of lives by knocking over a building. Killing shouldn’t be that easy. Justice and democratic principles have always been against one man being judge, jury and executioner.

Inviting Superman to kill without consequences (unless you call the minute of sobbing he did after de-lifing Zod a consequence) is inviting a police state through fear where criminals and potential transgressors are subdued by the thought of Superman rather than a government by the people for the people. And since Superman can see and hear everything at all times, that fear would be so much worse.

And it’s about free will. Doing good or evil is dependent upon having a choice. If I make all the right decisions because I know Superman will erase me if I don’t, it’s not really my choice. And since he can be anywhere at any moment, I wouldn’t have a reason not to be on my best behavior out of fear. Which really leads into my next point.

Super Murder Signifies Something Is Wrong

You could write entire books about who the real Superman is. Is it the original imagining by Siegel and Shuster? Is it the carefully cultivated image maintained by DC Comics? Are they all real?

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Is this Superman?

I’m not a purist, but I would argue that most movies, television shows, video games and books outside the main DC titles can be considered re-imaginings. These things are new stories told by different people based on the icon blueprint of the character’s history.

You would be hard-pressed to find a version of Superman that kills and is still Superman. The recent Injustice: Gods Among title includes a Superman that kills and is basically a despot. Clark Kent killed on Smallville, but that was to drive home the point that he wasn’t Superman yet. Cartoon Network’s Justice League included a “Justice Lord” Superman that killed President Lex Luthor… and and also became a despot. Oh, and don’t forget DC’s own Superman Prime who, in an effort to return home, sparks a space war and becomes one of DC’s most dangerous villains.

The bottom line is that when Superman kills, it always indicates there’s something wrong with his character. Which makes perfect sense because of how central to the Superman mythos not killing is. A mythos, I might add, that’s meant to do more than illicit awe for his power.

Superman Is Supposed To Inspire

The point of Superman is not just to do stuff for us. As several iterations of Lex Luthor have argued, that idea of Superman makes the rest of humanity obsolete. What would the point of any of us be if we settled for letting our resident god-like entity worry about everything on our behalf? What’s great about the Man of Steel is that he is supposed to inspire us. He is supposed to represent an ideal that we can never achieve, but constantly work at.

Glorifying killing isn’t in his character; he shouldn’t make us think having to take a life is ok. Instead he inspires us to to better. His example can save us from ourselves.

For all the junk people say about Superman Returns, this is something Bryan Singer got right.

Superman couldn’t save us all in the sense that even if he spent 24 hours a day doing super things, some of us would still have bad things happen to us. That’s the calculus of one Superman and 7,000,000 people.

No, even when Superman fails to save individual people, his example can save us from the worst parts of human nature. Given a choice between a world full of hope and a world where Superman kills, I know which one would bring out the best in me.

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Prepare for the Zombie Apocalypse and Earn College Credit at the Same Time!

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What better place for a zombie to eat brains than college?

The AMC Network and the University of California, Irvine, have decided that the best way to prepare for a hypothetical zombie apocalypse is with a free online course. The eight-week course, titled “Society, Science, Survival: Lessons from AMC’s ‘The Walking Dead,'” will cover a little bit of everything pertaining to the zombie apocalypse. According to The Wrap, the course “will explore concepts as varied as post-disaster nutrition, the foundations of human survival and stereotypes in a Darwinian environment.”

I wish something like this would’ve been offered when I was in college. I probably would’ve taken it every time it was offered, just for the hell of it. But this got me thinking…what other television shows could be used for college courses?

Here’s some ideas:

  1. Batman: The Animated Series – Learn how to fight crime, solve intricate riddles, and deal with a variety of lunatics. Hone your skills to become a master detective. Construct gadgets such as batarangs, smoke bombs, grappling hooks, etc. Train in several forms of martial arts. Become the ultimate vigilante. For extra credit, take on your own ward/sidekick.
  2. Supernatural – Learn about all of the creatures that go bump in the night. Demons, angels, vampires, ghosts, goblins, and everything else. Become a trained hunter, learning now to dispatch your unearthly foes. Learn the do’s and don’ts of dealing with crossroads demons. Become fluent in speaking and reading Latin, for incantations and expelling demons.
  3. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Students learn the importance of overcoming adversity by learning how the Turtles face each day as outcasts to the human world. Train to become a master of ninjitsu and learn how to use weapons like katanas, sais, bo staffs, and nunchuks. Understand the highs and lows of the effects of mutation. Experiment with a variety of pizza toppings and preparation techniques.

Those are my top three at the moment but I’m sure I’ll think up some more later on.

What are some ideas do you have for television shows turned college courses? Leave your comments in the comments section.

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Miley, Ben, & Bryan: It’s Not a Sitcom, Just Rob Ranting

There have been three popular subjects circulating the interwebz recently, pertaining to the Entertainment industry that I’d like to share my thoughts on. Feel free to agree or disagree with me on any or all of them in the comments section. I encourage it.

Subject One: Miley Cyrus’ “performance” at the MTV Video Music Awards

Don't care.

Don’t care.

I have yet to view this spectacle and don’t ever plan to. I’m treating this like Titanic – I don’t see the point in wasting my time watching this disaster. I know it happened, I’ve heard about it from everyone, and I’m just not interested. Another former Disney star with less-than-mediocre talent makes a spectacle of herself to gain media attention by doing something shocking and/or appalling.

Big freaking deal! This has happened before, it will happen again. And as long as people continue to make a big deal about it, things like this will continue to happen. The only reason I’m writing about it is in hopes to get hits from Google searches on the topic. It’s shameless, I know, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I think we should all make a pact to just ignore these little trollops like Miley and their antics and let them fade away into obscurity until they overdose by themselves in some seedy motel room a few years down the road. A bit bleak but necessary.

Honestly, I’m more shocked that people are in an uproar by something the daughter of Billy Ray Cyrus did than anything. She was raised by Billy Ray Cyrus and the Disney Channel for crying out loud! Two of the worst parents ever. The man exploited his minimally-talented daughter for fame and profit. Don’t give me that crap about how she wanted to be a star like daddy and he wanted to help her realize her dream. He wanted back in the spotlight and this was his way to do it.

Subject Two: Ben Affleck cast as Batman in Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel sequel  

This may have actually been the face I made when I read the Kevin Smith quote.

This may have actually been the face I made when I read the Kevin Smith quote.

I’ve already expressed my disdain for this casting choice – Ahem. But that was before I heard what Kevin Smith had to say on the subject,

“This dude has loved Batman going as far back as I can remember. He only did f***ing Daredevil because he loved Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns. He’s like, ‘They’re never going to make another Batman,’ because this was after Batman had nipples and s*** like that. So he was like, ‘Daredevil’s cool, and Miller wrote him as well.’ So he liked the character, but it was always rooted in Batman.” [via: comicbookmovie.com].

I’m not saying my opinion has changed, I still think Josh Brolin should’ve been cast – Ahem, but I have a little sliver of hope now. A little. I’m gonna give the guy a chance, even more so after Kevin Smith’s reassuring words, but he’s still gonna have to have to impress the hell out of a lot of people.

 

Subject Three: The possibility of Bryan Cranston playing Lex Luthor in Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel sequel

It could work.

It could work.

I’m at odds with this rumor. On one hand, I really like the idea. Cranston is a phenomenal actor with incredible range and I think he would make an amazing Lex Luthor. As proven from his starring role on Breaking Bad, he play the super-intelligent, menacing, conniving villain quite well. On the other hand, he’s 57. He’s a bit too old for the part if WB is planning on signing him to a six to ten picture deal. Someone younger and equally talented (Billy Zane) might be a better casting option. Not Mark Strong though. I like him, but he’s Sinestro. I’m torn.

Hopefully WB will announce something soon so we can all stop wondering and start ranting and raving about how good or bad of a choice they made. However, if they decided not to cast him as Luthor and cast him as Commissioner Gordon instead, I wouldn’t complain.

What are your thoughts on any or all of these three subjects? Leave your responses in the comments section.

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Not Bad, Not Good, Not Brolin – Ben Affleck is the New Batman.

Seriously, Warner Bros? What the actual f#©k?!

This is our new Batman, wearing the Superman costume. Let that soak in.

This is our new Batman, wearing the Superman costume. Let that soak in.

Did you guys even look into your other options or did you just look out onto the studio lot, see Ben Affleck strolling around and think “Hey, Ben owes us a favor, so let’s have him do it”?

You could’ve picked any other, much more talented actor, and yet you went with Affleck. I remember Josh Brolin being an option, what happened there? Was he not good enough for you?! Was Ben cheaper?! Technically, this guy’s already played Superman. Don’t you think it’s a little unfair to let him play both Bats and Supes?! ANSWER ME, DAMMIT!!

Sorry. Had a moment there.

I’m getting a tad bit worked up over this and some might think it’s really not worth it, but Batman is important to me. Batman has been my number one hero throughout my entire life. So yeah, I’m gonna get worked up over a decision like this. I don’t want Batman to ever be “Clooney-ied” again. I want any actor that wears the cowl to wear it with pride and honor it and know that if he screws up the role and the image, we (and by we, I mean the Bat-fandom) will have his head. You’ve been warned, Affleck.

There’s only one Batman I have ever hated and that was George Clooney. He did a phenomenal job of tarnishing the image for me, and I will never forgive him. Him, Schumacher, and Batman & Robin. I spit on you, Joel Schumacher. Ptooey! That film was an abomination.

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Now don’t get me wrong, I think Ben is a fine actor. He has made some great films (The Town, Dogma). He was the bomb in Phantoms, yo! He’s also made some shitty films (Reindeer Games, Pearl Harbor, Gigli), but who hasn’t? It took me a few years to like him as Daredevil but I finally warmed up to him. I’m just not a fan of him putting on the Batsuit. Of course, I wasn’t a fan of Heath Ledger (R.I.P) playing the Joker and now I can’t see anyone else playing the Clown Prince of Crime. So I’ll give Affleck a shot, but he’s gonna have to wow the hell outta me, along with millions of others. Not to mention, he’s gonna have some big boots to fill, following after Christian Bale. But if he can manage a better Batman voice, he’ll have one-up on him. I just don’t want to have to wait a few years to like him as Bats.

Can Affleck beat down Cavill?

Can Affleck beat down Cavill?

My largest fear of this decision comes from the notion that Zack Snyder is partly basing this film off of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. In it, an older, grizzled Batman dons an armored suit and fights Superman one-on-one. It’s a legendary battle that should not be taken lightly, and I’m worried that Affleck won’t be able to pull it off. I think Cavill can because he’s an exceptional Superman. The best, in my opinion. But I’m a little worried that I won’t be able to take Affleck seriously during the fight. I don’t want to laugh at Batman, I want to cheer him on as he pummels Superman.

Oh, and he has to quote this line: “I want you to remember Clark. In all the years to come. In your most private moments. I want you to remember my hand at your throat. I want you to remember the one man who beat you.”

He has to say it and say it epically or the film will be for naught.

As with most things of this nature, I’ll give it a chance. Reluctantly, but still. However, Ben Affleck will have a much slimmer chance than others. Impress me, Ben. Impress the hell outta me.

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Man of Steel 2: Batman, Superman, & the Who and What I Want to See

Over the past few weeks, after DC/WB’s announcement of the MOS sequel, I’ve been thinking about who I would like to see in the film (characters and cast) and what should happen.

I’ve been wondering a lot about how this story is going to go. Are Bats and Supes going to be friends or enemies or enemies then friends once they realize they have a common goal? Who will the villain or villains be? Where will it take place? Metropolis or Gotham City or both? And this film is supposed to be a lead-in to the Justice League film, so will there be any guest appearances or clever references to other DC characters or places in the DC Universe?  There has also been talks of crossing the DC television universe into the cinematic universe, so is there a chance of “The Hood” making an appearance?

The World's Finest playing nice? (image source: WB & DC)

The World’s Finest playing nice? (image source: WB & DC)

First, for the story, I think they should do a combination of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns and the animated feature The Batman Superman Movie: World’s Finest. The Joker (or The Riddler) shows up in Metropolis wreaking havoc, teams up with Lex Luthor for some sinister plot, and Superman has to ask Batman for help since he’s dealt with The Joker before and somewhat knows how he works. When Supes shows up in Gotham, Batman isn’t pleased after seeing the destruction he caused in Metropolis some time back, so at first they’re at odds. There’s a big epic fight but then they realize that they should be working together to thwart a greater threat, so they team up. Which means the film will spend a small amount of time in Gotham but will mostly take place in Metropolis.

Obviously, that means the villains of the film will be Lex Luthor and The Joker, the heroes of course being Batman and Superman. Recasting the Joker after Heath Ledger’s phenomenal performance in The Dark Knight will be difficult and Lex Luthor is never an easy task. There’s also the highly-likely chance that Batman/Bruce Wayne will be recast. However, I thought I’d take a crack at it.

1 – All recurring characters from Man of Steel should be played by the same actors because that was perfect casting.

A perfect choice, I think. (image created by Javier de Mairena)

A perfect choice, I think. (image created by Javier de Mairena)

2 – Batman/Bruce Wayne: Josh Brolin. He’s an incredible actor with great range, he can handle the physicality of the role, and he has the look. Strong jawline, gruff-looking, older, that’s what WB is looking for with this recast. Now I would love to have Christian Bale back, but on the chance that he doesn’t come back, Brolin is my top choice to put on the cowl.

3 – Lex Luthor: Billy Zane. I know many people don’t think much of Mr. Zane, but I find him to be an exceptional actor. He can play smart and sophisticated, as well as cold, calculated, and maniacal. Not to mention, he can pull off the bald look nicely.

4.1 – The Joker: Adrian Brody, Crispin Glover, Damian Lewis, or Robert Carlyle. One of these four actors would make a superb Joker. It’d be difficult for them to top Ledger’s performance but I’m positive they would give it their best, knowing that they have big shoes to fill. Honestly, Crispin Glover has always been a top choice for me but I believe Damian Lewis might actually be a better choice.

Tennant's Riddler.

Tennant’s Riddler.

4.2 – The Riddler: David Tennant or Matthew Gray Gubler. I’m partial to Tennant because he’s my favorite Doctor, a brilliant actor, and can play the conniving genius quite well. Gubler is also an incredible actor and would do well in the part but Tennant is my first choice.

5 – Commissioner Jim Gordon: Gary Oldman. If they bring Gordon into the film, there is no other actor that should play him than Oldman.

As for crossovers and references, I don’t think any crossovers should take place other than Bats and Supes, of course. It would be nice to see Stephen Amell make an appearance as Oliver Queen at least, but not “The Hood” (of course by the time this film is being made, they may actually be referring to him as “Arrow” or “Green Arrow” though). But WB could get by with just making references to other heroes and their respective cities without actually including them in the film. They don’t wanna blunder and pull a Spiderman 3 move and have too many characters in one film. Just stick with the two heavy-hitters and their main arches and don’t overdo it. I’d also like to make a point that Robin should not be involved in this film at all, neither the comic book character or Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character from The Dark Knight Rises.

The way I see it, this film could be the perfect stepping stone for DC/WB to lead them into the Justice League film and helping them to making the DC Cinematic Universe as successful as Marvel’s has become. On the other hand, this film could be a complete disaster and be a huge setback for DC/WB. Either way, I’m willing to give it a chance and see what happens.

Are you? What are your thoughts and predictions for Man of Steel 2?

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Coming To Terms With Change: Arkham Origins

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Me celebrating THE BAT.

I am hella excited for the next installment of the Batman: Arkham Whatever series. I love these games because you actually get to be the g#* d$@~ Batman, and it’s amazing. While they are not always perfect games, they’re certainly close, and I enjoy them more than Far Cry 3 style adventures or a Bioshock Infinite mindf*&%s.

Man, I sure am profaning a lot. Is that excitement?

Part of it has to do with my love of Batman. A love that, when you consider the character, shouldn’t make a lot of sense. I mean, do you ever think about how ridiculous it is that Batman seems normal? Aside from the dressed-as-a-giant-version-of-an-animal angle, there’s also the totem itself. Bats aren’t actually that scary; though, something about those ears do make his costume pop. Snakes are scary. Tigers, though a bit obvious, are scary. Spiders are scary. That last one is kind of weird because Spider-Man is not scary.

My point is the character is kind of goofy. He refuses to use guns even though, realistically, he would probably get shot to death on his first outing. I’ve already said quite a bit about Batman and more than a fare share of words on Superman, but within the continuity of the DC Universe, Superman actually makes more sense. The cannon clearly states he’s a bulletproof alien god. So when he doesn’t die it’s pretty believable. Batman is just a rich, crazy guy.

But I’m lost in the weeds. Getting back on track, I like Batman not because of his inherent awesomeness (in spite of the poor choice of animal totem) but because he’s so connected to my childhood. Batman: The Animated Series was on when I was seven years old, and barring Might Morphin’ Power Rangers, was probably my first love. And the same guy who voiced him then still voiced him up to the previous game, Batman: Arkham City.

I love Batman and the Arkham franchise, and this is why I’m wary of the upcoming changes. Abrams changed Star Trek from remake to sequel, and I didn’t like it. Community changed show-runners, and it wasn’t as good. Chris Nolan changed from someone who meets my expectations to someone who doesn’t. I changed into business attire, and it made me uncomfortable. Change is not always bad, but it opens up the risk of disappointment or even horror.

And changes there be. The studio that made the first two games in the series has been replaced by an in-house WB setup from Canada and the voice cast no longer includes any Batman: The Animated Series alums. And, I assume to bring the games in line with the current comic incarnation of the character, Batman isn’t wearing underwear on the outside anymore and now prefers body armor that actually looks like body armor.

Arkham City (Left) and Arkham Origins (Right) side by side. Both look grittier and more realistic in their respective games.

Arkham City (Left) and Arkham Origins (Right) side by side. Both look grittier and more realistic in their respective games.

Not to mention this is a prequel, which means all of the crazy shit that happened in the previous game, where like every character died, hasn’t happened yet, while at the same time locking all those same characters into a status quo to maintain the franchises continuity.

My first instinct is to express my trepidation in the form of complaint or frustrage. And then I start to think about what change actually means.

And this is the thing about change.

The Joker was right about “plans.” Not that they should be turned on their heads and we should just be crazy, but that we’re comforted by a sense of tradition or normalcy, even when the those things are kind of messed up. Case in point, consider Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s cover on Rolling Stone this week. Going way outside the original point of this article, the cover photo was a interesting decision. And without trying to solicit whether that was right or wrong, it’s sparked a conversation that I keep hearing.

First Person: I’m so offended that Rolling Stone is making this bomber look like a rock star.

Second Person: Well, there’s some historical precedent. Charles Manson and OJ Simpson have both graced the cover.

First Person: Really? *Googles controversial magazine covers* I guess it’s been done before. Huh.

There are some provisos: This is not every conversation that’s happening, but it’s one I’ve witnessed multiple times this week. I should also mention that I have not read the actual article the cover photo is featured as part of. Finally, and this one is important, none of the people in these conversations have been bombed. Apply salt as needed.

Once again in the weeds, I want to point out that the First Person is no longer deeply offended (slightly offended?) because there’s precedent. That strikes me as a strange reason not to be offended. Ubiquity doesn’t make something moral, but because we’ve experienced it before it’s less scary. And it really is about fear.

Aside from the literary faux pas of using an ultra serious, crazy-controversial example to explain why I hate the way a video game is changing, I think dealing with the future requires a little faith. Maybe not faith that everything will be all right, because sometimes it’s not, but faith in ourselves. Bad things happen and we have to work through them.

Some perspective wouldn’t hurt either. Sometimes just looking at what other people have to deal with makes us realize whatever we’re flame warring about isn’t that bad.

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Reading Flashpoint: Three Lessons Learned From A Brand-Wide Comic Event

Most people probably know that DC cancelled all of its titles in September of 2011 and launched 52 #1 issues of their “New 52” brand. I say most people because it was a pretty big deal at the time. While some of their books like Detective Comics retained their number since the first issue was released in 1939, no company had ever done something so drastic as this  before.

What is less well-known is that the relaunch is actually an in-continuity timeline change that followed the company-wide “Flashpoint” event before the New 52 launched. Which means that while DC reset their book numbers they, technically, are working off the same kind of continuity reset that they did during Crisis On Infinite Earths. For the layman, that means we should think of the New 52 like a sequel to what came before instead of a reboot. All the old stuff that was canon before can still be considered so… but as part of an alternate timeline. It’s a subtle difference, but important for a couple reasons.

Continuity Is An Excuse 

My biggest complaint about modern comics is how ridiculous the continuity is. Since 1985 DC has had four universe-altering events that changed the history of their characters. That doesn’t include all of the ridiculous crossovers (Crisis On Two Earths), cameos and smaller events (Death Of Superman). That minor distinction was important considering that the New 52 came with five years of history. Most of what had happened to the characters in the previous timeline still occurred in one form or another.

So despite the reset there’s still continuity.

And after reading Flashpoint, continuity feels like an excuse to make you pay for pieces of a story. The Flashpoint event consists of 5 main titles of the same name, but it also has more than 50 tie-in comics. All together, there are 60 books in the entire event:

  • Abin Sur (3 issues)
  • Batman: Knight Of Vengeance (3 Issues)
  • Booster Gold (4 Issues)
  • Citizen Cold (3 Issues)
  • Deadman & the Flying Graysons (3 Issues)
  • Deathstroke & the Curse Of The Ravager (3 Issues)
  • Emperor Aquaman (3 Issues)
  • Flashpoint (5 Issues)
  • Frankenstein & the Creatures of the Unknown (3 Issues)
  • Green Arrow Industries (1 Issue)
  • Grodd of War (1 Issue)
  • Hal Jordan (3 Issues)
  • Kid Flash Lost (3 Issues)
  • Legion of Doom (3 Issues)
  • Lois Lane & the Resistance (3 Issues)
  • Project Superman (3 Issues)
  • Reverse Flash (1 Issue)
  • Secret 7 (3 Issues)
  • Canterbury Cricket (1 Issue)
  • The Outsider (3 Issues)
  • The World of Flashpoint (3 Issues)
  • Wonder Woman & the Furies (3 Issues)

Sometimes you need to see it all written out. Many books of varying quality. And I will grant you, a lot of this stuff isn’t central to the main story. Comics like Hal Jordan, a what if to demonstrate how much things have changed, are pretty optional. There’s really only one key plot point in the book while the rest is context. And others, like Frankenstein & the Creatures of the Unknown and Canterbury Cricket are wholly unnecessarily and pretty poorly written to boot.

But a lot of these are essential and read as if they are missing chapters from the main story.

ToBeContinued

Here Wonder Woman discovered a plot between her aunt and Aquaman’s half brother that caused their two peoples to go to war. Now she’s running off to do something, but as you can see, you need to read the third issue of another book to find out what. This isn’t a small plot point. It’s not a throwaway moment. It’s a good example of why it’s so hard for amateurs to get into the big titles. Even if you only like one book, eventually there will be a crossover or event that forces you to read a bunch of different books or miss what’s happening.

Reading all of these makes it feel like you are paying for the story by chapter, which I suppose you are since that is the nature of comics. But it’s so self-referential and complicated to get one story from all these books at a combined cost of between $100-$300.

Even ignoring the cost, just figuring out what goes where is a total b****. Last spring I tried to read Countdown to Final Crisis, which was a prequel company-wide event to a forthcoming company-wide event, with over 100 books of various numbers. I actually had to research it beforehand and, I s*** you not, draw a flow chart to understand what to read. Once you figure it out, a lot of these could have most of their pages put in a sequential order that would work as a single, mass tome, but even the graphic novels have to be organized by kind.

Quality Control Is A Absent

Some of these books are absolute garbage. Obviously the main title, Flashpoint, is pretty solid and the art for Wonder Woman & The Furies #1 is absolutely gorgeous. Superman and Batman’s books are excellent, but the rest is so too inconsistent from a premier comic book business.

As an example, Booster Gold features a women named Alex. In issue #47 she and Booster Gold are captured by the army and in the span of 3 pages she experiences a seemingly random costume change.

 

LongSleeves

First she has long sleeves.

 

NoSleeves

Then she has no sleeves.

 

ShortSleeves

It’s cool though. She alternates a couple times and then settles on short sleeves.

What the hell? This is within 5 pages of each other in the same book. I get when different books doing the same scene have different art, but the same art team on the same book? Why? And this happens ALL OVER.

The Dialogue Is Awful

Something that really bugs me is that the dialogue feels hokey and out of place. Granted, this is a subjective area, but look at some of these and tell me I’m wrong.

Brain drain? That was your best insult? brain drain?

Brain drain? Your go to insult is brain drain?

 

Ugh, can we go back to brain drain?

Ugh, can we go back to brain drain?

 

 Ozzyreference

Aside from using “thrashing” to describe listening to music and the flippant use of “old farts”, I’m pretty sure that’s an Ozzy Osbourne reference more than two decades out of date. The writer, Scott Kolins, is 44. It’s cool that he was a child of the 70’s, but was it too hard to ask his kids for a contemporary artist? Yes, it’s possible that this guy, who’s name escapes me, may just be an Ozzy fan, but it’s not believable and I’m assuming most kids that read these books won’t know who he is. Actually, do kids still read comics?

Whatever. Moving on.

PlaneSpeed

That is Hal Jordan asking someone how fast his plane goes. I’m not an aircraft expert, but I expect a pilot to have some idea how fast his own plane can go before he gets into it. And the “gigahertz and nanoseconds” comment makes him sound like he’s trying not to be smart. If you can fly a supersonic jet you can, hopefully, do some math too. I fully expect him to ask “where are the brakes on this thing?” after reading this. No wonder he crashes his plane in everything I’ve ever seen him in.

Lessons

Yes, there’s some wiggle room here since comic books are the first pay-as-you-go form of entertainment, but it’s not about the observed problems as much as what we learn about DC. First, I have no idea how much money it costs to organize, create, produce and distribute a company-wide event, but it feels like a lot of money that’s going into a very niche form of entertainment. It doesn’t have to be niche, but the interconnected nature of the titles, ridiculous continuity and prohibitive cost make it so.

Now extrapolate that. Since 2006 I’m pretty sure DC has had somewhere between 4-6 company-wide events depending on how you count the Green Lantern craziness that ended in Brightest Day. Who can keep track of all those stories? The funny thing is that it’s so complicated it’s kind of brilliant. All these stories do come together by the end which is a real accomplishment. A very exclusive accomplishment.

Second, I’m not surprised DC properties haven’t been able to tie together a unified movie universe. Launching a brand-wide comic event is way smaller and it’s not a great experience unless your a die-hard fan. Actually, that’s a guess. Maybe die-hard fans didn’t have so much fun with this either.

There has to be a better way, right? Or am I just complaining about the necessary evils of the comic book industry?

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Censorship and the Nature Of Batman’s Madness

Today we are going to talk about madness.

In our entertainment, heroism tends to come with a certain amount of notoriety. Heroes are, if not famous, then certainly recognized and generally loved for their deeds. And many of those heroes, like Batman, refuse to kill – the idea being that human institutions enforcing human laws need to determine right and wrong. It’s very democratic.

Are you dense or something? He doesn't give a f***.

Are you dense or something? He doesn’t give a f***.

But, as TJ pointed out, heroes like Batman uphold that principle at the cost of thousands of human lives because the same villains keep escaping. He absolutely refuses to kill.

If not effective, is that moral high ground good? Is it right?

As I mentioned before, sending criminals to courts and prisons is part of a democratically constructed process. The second Batman acts as the state he’s basically saying that he, not the people, knows what’s best for society.

But isn’t that what he does all the time? It’s illegal for private citizens to detain, intimidate and torture people they suspect of crimes: all things Batman does. Not to mention the trespassing, destruction of property, vigilantism, disorderly conduct, assault and illegal weapons. This establishes that Batman is not afraid to break the law. Batman doesn’t give a f***.

And Batman is crazy. He obsessively tortures himself to fight crime all the time without actually seeing a difference in super villain activity. If repeating the same act while expecting different results is the definition of insanity, Batman has been insane for more than 70 years.

Imagine that you’ve lost someone in your life. It could be an especially harsh breakup or a death in the family. It’s the kind of loss that takes you months or years to move on from. Not get over, but move on from. And the duration of that suffering causes you to do crazy things to yourself and other people. Spontaneous crying. Destructive drinking. High-risk drag racing. Whatever. At the core of it, there is a compulsive need to do those things. Everyone goes through it at some point in their life.

Now imagine living in that state for your entire life. You don’t eat, sleep, or breath without remembering what you lost and the only time you don’t feel it is when you’re beating someone bloody. That is what I imagine Batman’s life is like. All the time. Every day.

Batman is a certain kind of insane, but for some reason he’s the kind of insane that we find comfort in. The kind of compulsive that hurts so badly for so long that he never finds any measure of relief. Anyone that’s experienced prolonged emotional suffering may see a little of themselves in the Batman.

But make no mistake that it is a form of mental impairment, if not an outright disorder. Personal trauma isn’t supposed to dominate all parts of your life. And it’s not supposed to hurt that much for the rest of your life. Sooner or later that anguish is supposed to cool.

It’s a purely selfish state of existence. Batman doesn’t do it because it’s right so much as because he needs to. He just happens to save peoples lives while obeying his compulsive urges. If his trauma was a little different, he could be like The Joker, who hurts people in the pursuit of compulsive desires. It is the opposite of heroism in that heroes put what’s best for others over themselves.

A true hero is someone that can do what needs to be done at the expense of their own values. It’s one thing to risk life and limb and another thing to risk life, limb and your very soul. A true hero would hate themselves for what they’ve done while bearing that weight. In short, Batman should kill every repeat murderer he comes across. Probably the rapists too.

And Batman used to agree. At the beginning of his career he used guns and, occasionally, killed.batman-gun

It’s not fair to put all the blame on Batman though. A lot of this is a result of the Comics Code Authority of the 1950s. While killing criminals isn’t explicitly prohibited, it’s clear what kind of moral standard was in place. Here are some of the highlights:

Crimes shall never be presented in such a way as to create sympathy for the criminal, to promote distrust of the forces of law and justice, or to inspire others with a desire to imitate criminals.

In every instance good shall triumph over evil and the criminal punished for his misdeeds.

All scenes of horror, excessive bloodshed, gory or gruesome crimes, depravity, lust, sadism, masochism shall not be permitted.

Inclusion of stories dealing with evil shall be used or shall be published only where the intent is to illustrate a moral issue and in no case shall evil be presented alluringly nor so as to injure the sensibilities of the reader.

 You can read the entire thing here

It’s a real eye-opener if you’re unfamiliar with the comic industry’s history of censorship. And the Comics Code Authority had a profound influence on comic books well into the 80s and beyond. And if you go back even farther you can see Batman’s disarmament was part of a much larger argument about the propriety of guns in popular entertainment and the limits of the second amendment. It’s oddly poignant to discover there was a very similar conversation about gun control and the exposure of impressionable minds to gun violence not unlike the one we’re seeing today. Jill Lepore for the New Yorker had a fascinating article on the disarmament of Batman right after Aurora, Colorado, shooting.

So did Batman, who started out with a gun—until he got rid of it. The nineteen-thirties, the golden age of comic-book superheroes, was a time of landmark gun legislation. In 1934, the National Rifle Association supported the National Firearms Act—the first federal gun-control legislation—and, four years later, the 1938 Federal Firearms Act. A great many gun-safety measures on the books today date to those two pieces of legislation, which together mandated licensing for handgun dealers, introduced waiting periods for handgun buyers, required permits for anyone wishing to carry a concealed weapon, and effectively prohibited the sale of the only gun banned in the United States today: the automatic weapon (or “machine gun”).

In 1939, the constitutionality of the National Firearms Act was brought before the U.S. Supreme Court, in U.S. v. Miller. A ruling issued on May 15, 1939, upheld the law, unanimously, and uncontroversially.

In a story published in October of 1939, Batman used a handgun to shoot a vampire—silver bullets to the heart. He used a gun again in the next episode, to fire some shots at two evil henchmen. At the time, Detective Comics had just hired a new editorial director, a guy from Brooklyn named Whitney Ellsworth. (Not long after hiring Ellsworth, Detective Comics established an editorial advisory board, consisting of people like psychologists and English professors.) When Kane [Creator of Batman] submitted his next story, Batman was shooting again. “Ellsworth said to take the gun out,” Kane remembered. 

Read more here

What I’m getting at is that Batman’s world has been defined by 50 years of censorship which is the real reason he doesn’t kill his villains. He wasn’t allowed to kill in the comics, so he didn’t kill in his cartoons or television shows either (excluding the 1989 Batman). That history of censorship has become a cultural component of our understand of the character.

So why doesn’t Batman kill them now? DC did a massive relaunch of all their Batman properties, of which he is featured in more than four titles, and he still turns criminals over to the police. That legacy of censorship has stunted Batman’s evolution as a hero; stretching the general notion of what’s reasonable. Instead of a man that enacts long-lasting change we have a man that serves his own fetish.

Case in point, during the last big event before the New 52, an alternate universe Batman killed Reverse Flash and pretty much ended the big problem of the event. After that it was easy for everyone to save the world and launch the new line of comics. And that’s how it should go. In most alternate timelines Batman will kill criminals. DC just needs to give up the ghost.

Batman getting it done.

Batman getting it done.

I submit that this is the hero we need and the hero we deserve.

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What Makes a Hero?

I’ve been thinking about heroes and heroism a lot recently. Maybe it’s because I’ve finally gotten back into reading more fiction (my day job requires a lot of reading, and reading “for fun” quit being fun for a little while), or maybe it’s because I’m also reading about the American Revolution, but it recently struck me that the virtue of heroism has captivated the human race since we first started telling tales of gods, monsters, and their offspring.

The first heroes were demigods, and the Greeks often revered them in their worship. I’m sure we’re all familiar with Heracles, Achilles, and Perseus. The original heroes were masters of all things martial. If something needed killing, they could do it. Their prowess with weapons and war were far beyond the skills of any mortal warrior.

Things starting changing, though, and the term “hero” began to apply to those of high moral virtue. St. Augustine first began calling Christian martyrs heroes over 1,600 years ago.

In my opinion, a hero is closer to a martyr than a man of martial prowess. Instead, a hero has a sense of altruism. Sure, there can be martial prowess there, but I think a hero is someone who is willing to sacrifice all in order to benefit others.

Batman and Robin

Note: Robin wouldn’t have died if Batman had offed the Joker the first dozen or so times he escaped. The Joker has killed over a THOUSAND people.

Take the Batman, for instance. By all accounts, he reminds us of the classical hero. No one can match his fighting prowess. He can out think and, more importantly, out fight all of his enemies.

But, where is his sacrifice? Sure, he’s lost a few friends along the way, but they probably didn’t have to die. Have you noticed how many people that the Joker has murdered? Have you also noticed that the Joker always gets out of Arkham Asylum to kill again? Honestly, I think Batman would be more heroic if he was willing to sacrifice his own morals in order to save countless lives. But, he isn’t.

Besides, you could argue that the Dark Knight is absolutely terrible for Gotham City. He works outside the law to catch criminals, but then relies on the corrupt system that he eschews while capturing the bad guys in order to prosecute the criminal. I’ve actually never had the sense that Bruce Wayne really cared about the people he was protecting. Instead, he fights crime to make himself feel better. I find him living in a perpetual martyr fantasy.

And don’t even get me started on Superman.

So, which fictional character do I consider a hero? Frodo Baggins.

Though Frodo begins as the unwitting hero, by the time of the encounter on Weathertop and his healing in Rivendell, we find Frodo to be a hobbit of great courage.

From the council where they were trying to figure out what to do with the Ring:

“I will take the Ring,” he said, “though I do not know the way.”

Frodo shows courage, even in the face of the unknown. His mission is to save the Shire, but as he works to complete his mission, he begins to change. By the time he reaches Mordor, he has already gone through so much tribulation that he can barely walk on his own. His reasoning is certainly off, for he abandons Sam in favor of Gollum. By the time he succumbs to the Ring and Gollum falls into Mount Doom, he is basically a shadow of his former self (tragically ironic, since he has a Morgul blade piece embedded in his body).

Frodo saves the Shire, but he is forever different. The Shire begins to shun him in favor of his hobbit buddies. Merry and Pippin leave the Shire a little bit immature, but come back as powerful, confident adults. Sam also comes back with some worldly wisdom and a sense of confidence (demonstrated by his asking Rosie Cotton to marry him).

But, Frodo is basically shunned into seclusion. He spends his time working on his book while his friends get a lot of the glory for saving the Shire. Frodo doesn’t feel like he can ever belong. And he can’t. He’s fundamentally changed. Perhaps he has the fantasy novel form of PTSD. The battle of wills with the Ring (which he lost, by the way) has broken him.

This will make me cry every time. Even when I read the books.

This will make me cry every time. Even when I read the books.

And that’s what makes him heroic.

He had an easy life. He was rich, cared for, and lived in an Englishman’s paradise. And because he loved that life so much, he saved it, and realized he could never again be a part of it. Then, he leaves Middle-earth forever.

As it turns out, Frodo wasn’t up to the challenge, and that’s what makes him such a great hero.

As I reflect on that, I think of the ending of Harry Potter. Did you ever notice that Harry is virtually unchanged by the events of the Harry Potter books? At the end, we see him married, with children, and probably a wizard celebrity. How does one die and not remain unchanged? How is one so closely connected with the greatest evil of his generation and not be fundamentally changed by it? I find that Harry’s magical journey is actually diminished by the fact that a happy ending was required.

So what makes a hero? In my mind, courage, will, and altruism are what is needed. As my son’s favorite show Jake and the Neverland Pirates would say, “the strength to be a friend.”

 

So, what do you think makes a hero?

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The Fate of the Justice League Movie

According to some online sources [here and here], the fate of the upcoming Justice League film (and by upcoming, I mean a few years from now) depends on the success of the new Superman film, Man of Steel. So any DC fans out there who have been eagerly anticipating a Justice League film to compete with Marvel’s The Avengers, whether you believe in a god or not, should probably start praying. Not to mention, plan on seeing Man of Steel whether it sucks or not.

Superman himself doesn't look too sure about the WB's decision.

Superman himself doesn’t look too sure about the WB’s decision.

Now as I’ve said before that I’m looking forward to the new Superman flick. I think it will be phenomenal. Excellent cast, director, producer, and Hans Zimmer. I’m gonna enjoy the hell out of it, but that’s just me. It’s gonna take a lot more than just me for this this to be successful enough to convince Warner Bros to greenlight a JLA film, as well as any other DC superhero films to follow (ahem…Aquaman!). And given the success of past Superman films, the JLA film’s fate seems a bit shaky. I don’t think there’s been a successful one since maybe Superman II. Even Smallville was a bit rocky at times. That whole season with “Doomsday” made me want the CW to cancel the series. So banking on Superman to save the day might be a longshot.

I haven’t really had much faith in a Justice League movie happening in a while anyway. The only successful character on the big screen has been Batman (obviously), no one else can touch him. Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns bombed, Green Lantern flopped, and no one can get a Flash movie going. Wonder Woman can’t even get a pilot on TV, let alone a movie. Green Arrow’s doing alright on the small screen, but the Oliver Queen/Super Max movie is pretty much canned. And Aquaman gets no respect whatsoever in any media, except for maybe the New 52. So yeah, I haven’t really had much hope or anything to give me any hope in a JLA film in a while. Plus, DC and Warner Bros seem to be scrambling to get this film made just because the Avengers and all the other Marvel films did so well and they wanna make money too.

Wait….didn’t Warner have the Harry Potter movies, The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies, and The Dark Knight Trilogy? Those were all done well and time was taken with each of them, so why rush JLA? Geeks and nerds aren’t going anywhere and superheroes aren’t a passing fad. They’ll be around. But if you piss them off by making their heroes look like crap, they won’t be as dedicated and won’t be as will to fork over their money. Think about that.

Could/should JGL be the right Batman for the JLA movie?

Could/should JGL be the right Batman for the JLA movie?

Take the time and build the back-stories on some of the characters that people don’t know as much about. You’ve done enough with Batman for now, let him rest. You can’t have Bale, but you’ve got Joseph Gordon-Levitt and he’ll do pretty damn well, even though I really want him to be Nightwing or Batman Beyond. Fix Green Lantern – recast, let Ryan Reynolds be Deadpool and find someone else. Give Aquaman and Flash their due and find someone that can make Green Arrow, Wonder Woman, and Martian Manhunter work on the big screen. Honestly, I’d save Wonder Woman and Martian Manhunter’s films for after the JLA movie.

Again, I have faith that Man of Steel will be huge. Zack Snyder and Christopher Nolan have never let me down, and I’m really hoping for a super-sweet Superman/General Zod fight. I’m sure they’ll deliver it. But banking everything on a Superman film is like shooting fish in a barrel. Batman did do well because it’s easier for people to connect with Batman. Yes, he’s a millionaire, but underneath it all, he’s still human. Superman just acts human. Deep down, he’s essentially a god and people have a tough time connecting with that…unless you’re egotistical like Kanye West.

I may have said the majority of this before, but it needs to be reiterated as Warner Bros gets closer to making the final decision. Pull your heads from your collective asses and things properly. It’ll pay off more in the end.

But anyway, here’s the Man of Steel trailer. You should go see it. Not to up the chances of JLA being made but because it looks frickin’ awesome!

 

[featured image source: Alex Ross]

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Justice League: Doom

Image property of Warner Bros

Image property of Warner Bros

I am not a traditional geek. I do not game, have little interest in comics and my choices in fiction tend to skew more realistic. While I enjoy a nice piece of science-fiction, I am far more drawn to a historical work, crime, or political thriller.

The blockbuster superhero films certainly ring my bell– though, often as an outsider. In discussing my geek status with a friend last week I received a challenge. My friend suggested that I come off of my high horse and watch a Justice League cartoon; I enjoy the occasional animated sitcom. I have logged many hours on the creations of Matt Groening; both The Simpsons and Futurama are programs I have enjoyed. My enjoyment of the animated superhero story started somewhere around Superfriends and ended just after Fox’s  X-Men series.

After accepting the challenge I logged onto Netflix to find a suitable feature. I selected Justice League: Doom. The story centers on a villain named Vandal Savage. Savage wishes to wipe out most of the human population and enslave the remainder. He hires some lesser known players from the rogues gallery of DC Comics to each take out their opposite member of the Justice League.

The hired guns are equipped with what appears to be the perfect plan for executing or incapacitating the heroes. Where did the plans come from? That is the interesting part– Batman! I have heard my geek friends say on many occasions that if he were given enough time for preparation Batman win any contest. Here Batman has made a contingency plan for dealing with every member of the Justice League and somehow their enemies have this information and use it in an attempt to destroy the heroes. This will make way for the new world order of Vandal Savage.

I must say that for an animated feature, this film had a great deal of depth. The inner struggle, trust and distrust of one’s fellows and impending feelings of betrayal are on full display. The animation is fantastic, and the voice talent is superb. The guy from Wings (Tim Daly) does a great job as the last son of Krypton, while Castle provides the voice of The Green Lantern.

So in answer to my friends challenge, Cartoons aren’t just for children anymore, and I apparently am not too cool for them.

 

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I’m Anti-Superman, and Even I Want to See Man Of Steel

Well, I’m not completely Anti-Superman.

When it comes to comic book films, I typically want to give the film a chance even if it looks like it might be completely horrible. But, right from the beginning, I knew Man Of Steel was going to be extremely epic. That’s saying a lot, because I don’t like Superman. I mean, I mostly don’t like the character himself.

Generally, the incarnations of Superman on film I’m all for. The first three films with Christopher Reeve, Smallville, and the newer animated features and series are some really entertaining and definitely worth viewing. I even slightly enjoyed Superman Returns, even though he was kinda stalkerish and somehow, by the sheer force of will, I’m guessing, moved an island of Kryptonite. I call BS on that one, but whatever. I also enjoy Superman in print (Red Son was fantastic!), but I just enjoy seeing him come to life on screen more.

I’m a Batman fan, however. Always have been, always will be. I enjoy his human side, the fact that he’s not essentially a god. I also like the fact that almost anything can kill him, but he still keeps being a badass.

Superman has a limited number of vulnerabilities. Kryptonite…that’s it. Once you have Kryptonite, anything can kill him. But if you don’t have it, forget it. You can be stronger than him, but that probably isn’t going to work.

Characters like Superman have always been on the bottom of my favorites list.

However, after watching the trailer for Man Of Steel, I think I may grow to like Superman a little bit more.

[Image source: Warner Bros.]

I knew from the beginning, this film was going to be pretty solid. Zack Snyder is directing, Christopher Nolan is producing, and Henry Cavill is in the lead role. Damn fine start. (If you haven’t watched Immortalsby now, you should check it out.)

Then, the cast started growing and so did my excitement. Kevin Costner and Diane Lane as Ma and Pa Kent, Russell Crowe as Jor-El, Michael Shannon as General Zod, Laurence Fishburne as Perry White, and Amy Adams as Lois Lane. You could not have a better cast than this. I’m probably gonna catch hate for saying this, but the Man of Steel cast rivals the casting for Nolan’s Batman series. It’s a close call. And then to top it off, they get Hans Zimmer to score the film. Done. This film is solid freakin’ gold!

The newest trailer for the film has me more excited than ever, and it’s primarily because it looks like Snyder and Nolan are attempting to show more of Superman’s human side and not just the god-like superhero side that we’re all accustomed to.

I think this might be the most excited I’ve been for a Superman film, maybe even a comic book film in a while…at least since The Dark Knight, anyway.

Here’s the trailer:

Pretty phenomenal, right? Tell me what you think in the comments.

Man Of Steel opens June 14, 2013

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