Tag Archives: Mark Hamill

Coming To Terms With Change: Arkham Origins

MeBat

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 The studio that made the first two games in the series has been replaced by an in-house WB setup from Canada and the voice cast no longer includes any Batman: The Animated Series alums.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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Why Star Wars Still Needs Mark Hamill

What’s the difference between the light and dark side of the Force? It feels like a dumb question at first, but it’s a little more nuanced than it looks.

The Force is power. Jedi and Sith use it to be stronger, faster, have precognition, and do the things that allow them to beat other people in fights. Basically the only one who can kill a Force-user (in the films) is another Force-user. Occasionally, Obi or Anakin lose their lightsabers, but they never actually lose a fight. They stall until they use their force power to win.

So what’s the difference between the light and dark side? At the end of the day, the Jedi and Sith are probably both going to cut their opponent into pieces. Does it matter if they got there with a Force push or a lightning bolt? I used to think so. Generally speaking, bad guys use force lightning, and I thought that’s what made them all messed up and deteriorated like most dark Jedi are.

But that’s not really right. There ought not to be dark powers, just dark intentions because both the Jedi and the Sith kill and maim. Mace Windu cuts a guys head off and doesn’t look back because killing isn’t the point.

Holy s***! How is this possible?

Holy s***! How is this possible?

For the Jedi, how you kill doesn’t make you good or evil. Why you kill doesn’t either. What matters is what you’re feeling when you kill.

That’s it.

Bringing it back to why we’re here: Mark Hamill isn’t a young guy. At 61, he’s right where Obi-Wan was in the original Star Wars. My point is he probably isn’t good as an action hero, but he would make a great Yoda.

The reason this is relevant now is that Harrison Ford may reprise his role as Han Solo in some unspecified capacity in the next Star Wars film. Which is too bad, because elderly action heroes have a mixed record in the box office. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s The Last Stand just completely failed in theaters. Sylvester Stallone’s Bullet To The Head did even worse. Granted, Expendables 2 and A Good Day To Die Hard had better showings, but it’s a dicey time to be an aging action star, especially outside the neo-80’s action movie revival we’re experiencing.

I’m not saying there’s no room for folks of advancing years in Star Wars (or movies in general), but this is an opportunity to play to the franchise’s core strength: mysticism.

Coming back to my first question, I’ve seen both trilogies multiple times, and I still have no idea what the Force is or why people who use it do what they do. I mean, it seems to be the gate to superpowers, but that’s about it. Why does killing someone in anger make you evil, but killing someone peacefully does not? What is the actual difference between the light and dark side?

I want the movies to be able to tell me without having to Google through the expanded universe.

This is important. The Force is THE defining trait of the franchise. We see two diametrically opposed groups use superpowers to fight each other all the time. Off the top of my head Beautiful Creatures comes to mind. We’ve seen wars in space.

The Force and, by extension, the Jedi are what make Star Wars what it is.

So, how the hell is it we still don’t know why it works the way it does? And please don’t say midichloreans, because that was a techno babble way to tell us more about the Force without actually telling us more about the Force. But, even if you do accept the midichloreans, that’s still explaining a “how,” not a “why.”

Which brings me back around to Mark Hamill. Unlike Han Solo, Luke Skywalker can add more to the movie than laser fights and high-speed chases. He can bring essential plot elements to the film while dovetailing pretty much any plot nicely.

Star Wars 7 will probably take place after Return Of The Jedi, which means some old guy will have to train the new class of Jedi. Instead of getting any old guy, why not get Luke Skywalker? He can add legitimacy while also addressing some of these questions Star Wars ought to get around to answering.

I’m of the mind that Star Wars has the opportunity to really expand outside of the expected. For a long time, it was a closed franchise. We’d get new books and comics, but it was generally understood that there wouldn’t be any more movies. This is a big part of the reason everyone loses their mind when they hear about a new Star Wars film. When it was reported Lucas was pulling together Episode I, it was like everyone suddenly realized it was their birthday at the same time, because no one actually thought there would ever be another Star Wars movie.

That excitement means the next few movies bearing the Star Wars title will be profitable regardless of the content, which could mean a free pass for lazy film-making. My hope is that J.J. Abrams and the house of mouse have an understanding of how big this could be.

Random Trivia

Twins

Did you know that Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVio are doing a sequel to Twins where they discover there’s a third brother? And, if the casting credits are correct, that third brother will probably be Eddie Murphy?

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