Tag Archives: Green Lantern

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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Origin of Hate 2: Green Lantern

When I was a boy, I had Superman pajamas, but only because there were no Green Lantern ones. The DC merchandising machine did not take the George Lucasian approach in the 80s; instead, they only produced merch pertaining to the heaviest of hitters–unlike today when one can find nearly any character emblazoned upon garments meant for a grown man. Seriously 1980s, no GL Underoos? I digress. Even though I haven’t read a comic book in years, if I were to pick one up it would no doubt star my favorite Silver Age Emerald Knight.

So years after I had moved on grown a bit and admittedly developed a “make mine Marvel” attitude about my costumed heroes, I was pretty excited when a Green Lantern film was announced. When the film debuted in 2011, I was very excited to see it. I planned several times to head out to my local theater and for whatever reason kept putting it off. Then I started reading the huge pile of negative reviews, most of which called it a huge pile, and resolved to just pretend it didn’t exist. 3 years later, the Blu-ray was just laying there at the top of a bin filled with budget priced titles, and I decided to give it a shot. It isn’t as bad as described, but very little could be.

For those of you who are unfamiliar:

Image property of Warner Bros.

Image property of Warner Bros.

A test pilot named Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds)  is granted an alien ring that bestows him with otherworldly powers, as well as membership into an intergalactic squadron tasked with keeping peace within the universe.

Firstly let’s talk origin. Hal Jordan is the original Green Lantern. (Well unless you count the “Golden Age” which took place on Earth-2 which I don’t.) There is some confusion on this point created by the inclusion of John Stewart as the main Lantern in the Justice League cartoons.

Ryan Reynolds was not ideal as Jordan,with mostly comedic credits to his name and questionable Marvel pedigree in support of X-Men Origins: Wolverine. The humor seems to overtake the story at times. Reynolds’ fast talking and wise cracking is better suited to The Flash as portrayed in the previously mentioned cartoon outing. It is hard to believe that anyone would let this guy fly their plane–let alone wield a ring with unfathomable power. Reynolds does, however, come across as likeable, which is important to the character.

CGI and effects for 3D seem to be placed in such a way to disguise the lack luster script. Even the iconic Green Lantern uniform, which I have always wanted in PJ form, is constructed of pure effects. I prefer to view CGI through the lens of history. Think about the effects featured in the video for Dire Straits “Money for Nothin.” At the time this was the most advanced and exciting revolution in special effects. The video cost about a billion dollars to make and when viewed today looks like the most dated piece of garbage ever produced. Our children will feel the same way about this movie and many others like it (I’m looking at you Speed Racer).

Image property of Warner Bros. The villain’s motivation is confusing and seems to come out of nowhere. To tell you the truth I knew he was going to be the villain going in, but was surprised when he turned. The true motivation seems to be an after thought to the pointless CGI pile mentioned above. This is symptomatic of the attempt to cram too many Lantern stories into one film. It’s like they already knew they wouldn’t rate a sequel, so they give us 80yrs of story in 2hrs. The one standout is Marc Strong as Sinestro. His acting is explosive and my attention was perfectly held each and every time he appeared onscreen. Oddly, we learn very little about Sinestro despite The Matrix derivative approach to his mentoring role Strong still shines through. Also (though a tad unrelated to this point) the training scenes were straight out of The Matrix.

Any comments beyond these would just be petty. This is still an ok superhero picture. Honestly, it would have been a revolution had it come out before the game changing X-men franchise or even before Iron Man further raised the bar for the genre. Pouring a rich character history into a single film is difficult to manage.  Mediocre casting and poor writing = lackluster expensive looking movie.

 

 
Image property of Warner Bros.
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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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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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A Life With Superpowers

With the upcoming Man Of Steel scant months away, it seems the WB’s theoretical Justice League film is closely hitched to the success of its latest superhero venture.

Opening this door to speculation raises other questions. Why can’t Warner Brothers put together a successful, non-Batman movie while Marvel is making money off relative unknowns like Thor and Iron Man? How has Superman, the most recognizable comic book character on Earth, not had a successful film since 1980? What was up with Green Lantern?

For a lot of reasons, I think Warner Brothers doesn’t know how to cultivate a loyal fan base and remain profitable, as demonstrated by the recent cancellation of Young Justice and Green Lantern. I don’t think Warner has found a single director not named Nolan that knows how to make a superhero movie look and feel like something the modern audience will pay to see. I think Warner has shown that it doesn’t have the  organization to put together more than one superhero franchise at a time – much less balance multiple franchises across production teams while organizing a single thematically consistent universe. And I don’t think they understand the true size of Marvel’s accomplishment.

And I don’t think Warner Brothers understands the modern superhero. Stoic protagonists face overwhelming odds, risking it all to save the girl/friends/people/world every day. It’s the only thing the CW does shows about now. What we crave are heroes touched by their own power. Marvel gets it.

Superpowers are like a gun. The only superhero stories we care about are the ones where that power is used on other people.

Imagine for a moment that you are in a fist fight about something people get into a tumble about. Maybe a parking ticket outside a bar or a Packers’ fan at a tailgate. It’s your fight, dreamer; make it whatever you want. And like most unexpected fights, the experience is different from the movies. Everything is hyper real and happening too fast. The adrenaline is screaming in your ears, and you’re trying to figure out how to end this thing. Now imagine a random spectator throws a gun between you and your opponent while you’re having it out. I know, it’s a dick move. Probably a crime. Certainly rude. What do you do? Do you grab the gun? Do you let it sit and see what your Packers’ fan does? If you get it first, do you point it at them? Are you willing to pull the trigger? How much do you think that gun has increased the odds someone is going to die now?

That’s what having a superpower is like all the time. You carry a gun that touches every part of you and ensures that the stakes are life and death even in the most trivial circumstances. We get so caught up in the absolute morality of using power to fight evil that we forget that the power is there all the time. It changes the face of all interactions because, even without its use, the threat of power remains ever-present. It’s the reason we don’t tell our teachers they spit when they talk or tell our boss he creeps our secretary. Power.

Misfits is a an excellent example of what I’m talking about. The show, more than four seasons deep, takes place on a community center estate where a bunch of at-risk youths are doing community service for their various transgressions. During their first day of service the youths and their probation worker are caught in a freak storm that gives them superpowers. What I love about this show is the deep consideration given to a life with power. None of our offenders become “superheroes” to save the world, though they do accidentally pull it off a couple times. Instead it’s about the complex human interactions are made more complicated and more dangerous by power.

Can travel through time but still can't escape his boring life.

Can travel through time but still can’t escape his boring life.

Because, again, that power is a gun that you can use at anytime. And unlike comic books, the “real” world if full of people with power just trying to figure out the best way to live. Consider any political argument you’ve ever heard. We don’t think about most of those arguments in the dichotomous of good or evil, especially when you haven’t taken a side. We think about it in terms of different people with different interests trying to get what they want. And, in those terms, all interactions are political. Misfits demonstrate a world where sex, relationships, and mundane tasks are all complicated adventures in themselves because of superpowers.

There was a guy in the first season who’s power was to move dairy products with his mind – a shitty Magneto. Totally stupid, right? He was laughable and his ridiculous power built a murderous resentment in him when other better powers were discovered. As it turns out, he killed everyone. He beat an immortal, a psychic and a guy who could turn invisible simply by moving cheese. A power, I might add, that changed him. That’s the thing about power; the specifics aren’t as important as what they do to the person who has them. And no matter how far you go with power, you’re still human with all the associated flaws and desires.

And the fact that the characters have incredible powers and can’t seem to get out of their community service is poignant.

The misfits are touched by their power. It’s a constant temptation that changes them. Instead of costumed strong-men flying about fighting masked marvels, we find a world populated by monsters in the form of desire and the very human inclination to use an advantage to get what’s wanted. Power has always been a part of our history. That’s a quality Marvel’s recent films have had. No matter how remote or alien the venue, the problems concerning power are always very human.

And they get how dangerous superpowers really are. If you’ve ever seen Smallville, Supernatural, The Vampire Diaries or pretty much any superhero movie you’ve watched one of those fights where someone with super strength is fighting someone without it. They’re always throwing people against things and knocking them out when, in reality, they would just crush any part of that person or punch through them and the fight would be over. Really, even throwing someone through a wall or a window would probably put them in the hospital if not kill them outright.

Every super fight should be over that quickly whether it’s strength, flight or any other power. Superpower fights are like gun battles at close range; they don’t last long unless everyone’s immortal.

But I’m a little far from my point, which is that Marvel’s production studios gets it while DC is still putting together superhero movies with the structure and forethought of Steel. Which makes no damn sense. How the hell does Warner Brothers do eight successful Harry Potter films while failing to pull off one Superman movie?

In short, they need to get their heads in the game.

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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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Saturday Morning Cartoons

My son loves cartoons. His current favorites include Jake & The Never Land Pirates, The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, and Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. He tends to watch them while playing with his trains or monster trucks and loves to sing along with the songs. While these shows are a bit simplistic (hey, he’s three! And, really Jake and Daniel Tiger are really well done), they definitely provide a welcome distraction when I need a break from him for a little bit.

I love cartoons; well, I like certain kinds of cartoons. Animation is often the best medium for science-fiction and comic book shows, so when Saturday morning rolls around, my son and I settle in for a block of animation goodness: Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Green Lantern: The Animated Series, Young Justice, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

The Clone Wars is a show I can take or leave. I’ve only gotten back into it after a couple of years hiatus, so I’m not fully understanding everything that is going on. However, the show is much better than ANY of the prequel movies, and it actually focuses on good writing and plot. I recommend it for any Star Wars fan.

Green Lantern is nothing like the movie, and thank goodness for that. It’s just starting a second season, but things are already shaping up to be pretty great. Last season dealt with the Green Lanterns fighting an invasion by the Red Lantern Corps. The Red Lanterns were upset over sins that the Guardians of the Universe had committed many years ago. The season was full of action, political intrigue, and it introduced a ton of plot points and characters from the comics (even my personal favorite, Mogo!).  If you’re a Green Lantern fan at all, check it out. And if you have a budding comic book fan in your life, let them watch. My son really loves it.

Young Justice is my favorite part of our Saturday morning cartoon block. The show deals with a group of sidekicks that form their own team to work in the shadows… kind of like the Justice League’s black ops team. Since that premise, the show has evolved from being solely about the sidekicks and more about the entire DC pantheon of characters. The cast of characters is vast, but most of the heroes are thematically consistent with their DC Comics counterparts. Young Justice is episodic storytelling at its best. Given enough time, it might even be better that Justice League Unlimited. In my opinion, anyway.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles started just last week, and I had my doubts leading up to the debut episode. TMNT was one of my favorite TV shows when I was a kid, but its ’90s cheesiness hasn’t aged all that well. Newer shows have gone waaaay too far into the seriousness route (the comic was pretty gritty and dark) and kind of lost the joy of the goofy premise.

The pilot episode of this new TMNT walks the line perfectly. It’s goofy but not off-putting. You can tell that the storylines are going to get into some dark territory, but the characters are instantly recognizable. Leonardo leads. Donatello does science. Raphael wants to crack some skulls. Michelangelo is a lovable idiot. This show’s version of Splinter is my favorite yet, and Shredder was only in the pilot episode for about 30 seconds (however, since he’s voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson, he’ll probably be awesome.) Even Krang showed up, albeit in a new twist; the Krang are an alien race invading the Earth in creepy, dead-eyed robot bodies. All-in-all, I’m looking forward to watching it weekly with my son.

Cartoons are awesome. If you’re looking for a good story on TV, don’t overlook animation. You’d be missing something really special.

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Comic Book Movies: Marvel’s Future Looks Bright, DC’s Looks Dim

Pardon me whilst I rant for a moment.

So what does DC have now that Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy is done? Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel? A Justice League movie? That seems to be about it. What does Marvel have? Sequels to Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Avengers, plus a Guardians of the Galaxy movie. Advantage: Marvel.

Even though I’m hopeful for the new Superman film (due to Snyder directing, Nolan producing, and the amazing cast it has), I’m still quite fearful for DC. Their Wonder Woman show didn’t even make it off the ground, their Flash movie is constantly stuck in limbo, and Green Arrow: Escape from Super Max is never going to happen. And let’s not forget the bomb that was Green Lantern. Yeah, they’re not exactly knocking ’em outta the park. They have plans for Hawkman and Aquaman movies, and there are even rumors that they may even reboot Batman AGAIN, but they probably won’t happen until the Justice League movie gets released, which may or may not ever happen. Other than Man of Steel, the only thing they really have going for them is Arrow on the CW, and honestly that’s only there to fill the void that Smallville left when it ended its 10-season run. Not that I think it will or anything.

DC has really got to step-up their game in order to catch up with Marvel. Now, I know that Nolan’s Batman trilogy has made billions of dollars, and those movies are pretty much three of the greatest comic book adaptations ever made, but seriously, that’s only one character. Marvel is having major success with multiple characters. The Avengers (in solo and joint films) are kicking ass and taking names in the box office and there’s only more success to come. As I mentioned, all the sequels, as well as an Ant-Man film, and a Daredevil reboot should be in the works sometime soon thanks to film rights reverting back to Marvel from FOX. There’s even a new Hulk television series in the works, as well as AKA Jessica Jones, Mockingbird, Cloak and Dagger, and The Punisher. Advantage: Marvel.

I know some of you reading this are gonna say, “Well Marvel has made some crappy films! Ever heard of Ghost Rider?” Yes I have. But Ghost Rider, as well as its sequel, came from FOX. As did X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men: Wolverine Origins. Spider-man 3 came from Sony and I believe Blade: The Series came from New Line. See what I’m saying here. Marvel Studios makes the good stuff, that’s who I’m talking about. The actual crap-tastic films have come from other studios. Once Marvel decided to go into the film production business for themselves, things got better. And it didn’t hurt that they were bought by Disney and now have their backing. But I’m not saying DC should step away from Warner Bros. and start producing their own stuff, although it is an idea.

What I’m saying (and I realize that I haven’t actually pointed this out yet) is that DC needs to stop trying to do things the Marvel way. They don’t need to make a Justice League film right now, they just need to make better movies. Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, and The Dark Knight Rises were all steps in the right direction. Man of Steel might be as well. And a few solid steps are all you need to get off and running, but don’t rush and trip up. Start working with better directors and writers, cast your characters properly, keep things smart and realistic (or as realistic as you possibly can),  and stay true to the comics (solid stories have already been written, you just have to look for them). This is all DC has to do and [most] fans will be happy. [Editor’s note: Die-hard fans can never be pleased. NEVER.] Get to work on The Flash, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman movies. Don’t worry about rebooting Batman for a long time. And if Christian Bale won’t play him in the Justice League movie, get someone else who will do him justice [pun intended]. But don’t worry about his backstory, I think by now we’ve got that part figured out.

I mean c’mon, who wouldn’t want to see a movie about these two? [image property: DC Comics]

Stop worrying about quantity and start worrying about quality, DC. Once you do that, the money will just roll in. Sure Marvel has a good lead on you, but that’ll happen when your only opposition is sitting with their heads up their butts, waiting for a miracle to happen. Well your miracle happened, his name is Christopher Nolan. Follow his example, make better comic book movies, and stop screwing around.

And would it kill you to make a Booster Gold/Blue Beetle flick?

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DC Comics Reviews — Red Hood and The Outlaws

Alright boys and girls, it’s time for another DC comic review. I’m still playing catch up, so let’s get straight to my ratings on the number 2 issues.

DC’s “New 52” Issue 2

Green Lantern – 4/5
Green Lantern Corps -4/5
Green Lantern: The New Guardians -4/5
Red Lantern -4/5
Batman -4/5
Batman And Robin -5/5
Batman: The Dark Knight- 3/5
Detective Comics – 4/5
Superman – 4/5
Action Comics -5/5
Wonder Woman -2/5
The Flash – 4/5
Aquaman -5/5
Justice League -5/5
Nightwing – 4/5
Suicide Squad -5/5
Red Hood And The Outlaws -4/5

Now that the ratings are out of the way, I’m going to do something different and review a comic that has not gotten my “Best Of” criteria.  It’s one of the brand new titles, Red Hood And The Outlaws.

Image courtesy of ing.com

Sidekicks going anti-heros…how cool is that?  I say it’s pretty amazing.  Since the release of the animated film Batman: Under The Red Hood, Jason Todd has been gaining a following of fans.  That’s kind of surprising for a guy that was voted by the fans to be killed a few years ago.  But thanks to a retconned DC universe, the former Robin is back, armed to the teeth with a take-no-prisoner attitude and a few deadly weapons.

He’s not alone. Joining him are two former teen heroes: Arsenal(Formally Speedy/ Red Arrow) and Starfire.

The whole first issue is introduction and serves to establish each character’s personality; Jason is the detached brooding protagonist, Arsenal is the clingy wannabe best friend/ comic relief, and Starfire is the alien that views us from an outside perspective.  All in all, a fun team.

This issue focuses on their relationships with each other.  But, of course, it shows how The Outlaws fight crime. They make sure that when crime goes down, it stays down…with a few bullet holes…and maybe an arrow through the throat for good measure.

I love this team.

You have two former sidekicks who had a hard past: one with heroin and the other with…you know, death. You also have
an alien princess who has no idea about human morality.

I wasn’t around when Arsenal was addicted to drugs or when DC set up a 1-800 number to vote whether or not Jason Todd would die, but I’m with them now and loving the anti-hero perspective.  And yes they all live up to their anti-hero label. There has not been an issue when a “bad guy” hasn’t died.

Also, I’m going to say that this is a title for a more mature audience.  First, you have the violence that is in each issue. Then, you have Starfire, who basically stays half naked throughout both issues.

Adult.

The second issue sets up the story arc, following Jason Todd as he retraces his steps from the beginning to figure out why he was resurrected. A few witty remarks and a flashback later, the team is surrounded by zombie warrior monks. Violent showdown time, with Red Hood chopping through people like they were butter alongside Arsenal shooting arrows and Starfire blasting…I guess…fire.

Violence sells and I’m buying.

Maybe it’s because I really don’t know much of the backstories of all these characters, but I have no idea where the current story is going. That excites me.  It’s been too long since I’ve read a story that I haven’t been able to predict the ending.  I’m usually pretty good about guessing what is going to happen, but with Red Hood I have no idea.  All I can say is that this is shaping up to be one of my new favorite comic books.  Sex, violence and adventure: what more do you
need out of an anti-hero type comic?

My favorite thing is the artwork.  It has a roughness about it that I absolutely adore.  It’s mostly in the gritty inkwork of Kenneth Rocafort that makes this book stand out amongst the rest of your average super-team book.  It makes it look like the world is dirty and pockmarked.  And something about Arsenal wearing a domino mask and a truckers hat just tickles me pink.

Nothing makes me happier than new material and not the same regurgitated stories that we all know.  I know I’m beating a dead horse since I’m rooting for the underdog, but old sidekicks getting their own book? Fantastic. Characters that were thrown to the wayside by their former audience have a chance to shine in this new series.

Plus, if you’re a Batman reader, I suggest buying this book because it deals heavily in the Batman/Gotham story.  That  should be expected with a former Robin leading the way.

Do you think that these sidekicks turned vigilantes deserve their own book?  Do those of you that have read it have any predictions?

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