Tag Archives: Batman

Big News Tuesday!

Good evening! I spent a good chunk of yesterday racking my brain trying to come up with a topic for this week’s post. Nothing came to me. I figured I’d wait and see if anything inspired me. Then, Tuesday came and it came hard! Interesting comic news was plastered all over the place! So, let’s begin with the biggest news:

Batffleck Begins!

Batffleck in the Batflesh

Batffleck in the Batflesh

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It’s been a big week for superheroes on screens. I could talk about The Amazing Spider-Man 2, but I haven’t seen it yet. I could talk about the recently released trailer for Gotham, but it’s less than a minute long. So, despite those biggish events, I’m going to talk about something a little more abstract. (more…)

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Next In Line For Death? Wolverine

Did you know that all Simpsons episodes have titles? Since they don’t show up on screen, most people refer to the episodes by what happens in them instead. Like, the one with Frank Grimes, or the one where Bart gets an elephant. I happen to have an episode guide, so I know some of the titles. My favorite is called, “So it’s Come To This: A Simpsons Clip Show.” I like how it anticipates the reaction of the audience. With that in mind, I feel like the upcoming X-Men event should have been called, “So it’s Come to This: Wolverine Dies.” (more…)

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The Collected Comics Conundrum

I’m a total Marvel zombie so you might want to take that into consideration while reading this week’s Grumble. This isn’t to say that I don’t like DC comics, or any of the other companies. In fact, there are some DC titles in particular that I’ve been very interested in at various times. For instance, I was very interested in the Green Lantern Blackest Night storyline. In fact, I was so interested that I went back and got a bunch of stories leading up to it, including Green Lantern Rebirth and the Sinestro Corps War. While they weren’t my favorite comics, they were certainly entertaining and full of good ideas. (more…)

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“Welcome to Gotham, bitch!”

Last week I bitched and moaned about a popular TV show not living up to expectations. This week, I’m writing about a TV show that is setting up some pretty high expectations without a single frame of it having been shot. Some time ago, it was announced that a TV series about the Gotham City police force was in the works. Basically, a cop procedural show in Batman’s hometown minus Batman. This past weekend, they announced that Benjamin McKenzie from The O.C. and Southland has been cast as the future commissioner of Gotham, James Gordon. And finally, today they announced some of the other characters who will be appearing – The Penguin, Gordon’s fiancé Barbara, and Sarah Essen another police officer who, at least in the comics, is romantically interested in Gordon. (more…)

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Enough With The Wonder Woman Grumbling

When the Guardians of the Galaxy movie was announced, most people there seemed to be an equal mix of excitement and indifference. Those who had heard of the somewhat characters before were stoked that this eclectic group would get the big-screen Avengers treatment. Those who hadn’t heard of them uttered a dismissive “who?” But, somewhere between those two extremes, was another group that could muster only disdain. They were disappointed, not unjustly, that a movie starring a space faring, gun-toting, easily agitated racoon would be made before one starring Wonder Woman.

Like I said, I don’t disagree. But, it’s not like DC hasn’t tried. Joel Silver (producer of the Matrix trilogy, Die Hard, and Lethal Weapon) spent years trying to get a movie off the ground. He hired Joss Whedon to work on a script, and even purchased a World War 2 set story from another writer. None of it took off.

Conspiracy theories on this topic abound. One of the most commonly cited “facts” is that Hollywood producers don’t believe female action heroes lead to blockbusters. And while I’m sure there are some people out there who might think that, I don’t think it’s prevalent enough that it would stop them from making the movie. While Silver had the rights (the fact that tried to get this movie made alone should dispel this theory) there were two Tomb Raider movies, a slew of Resident Evil and Underworld flicks, Kill Bill(s), Catwoman, Aeon Flux, Ultraviolet, Elektra, etc., etc. Clearly, Hollywood has an appetite for making action movies with female leads.

The real problem, I think, is that DC hasn’t been in control of its filmmaking destiny until recently. They’ve been owned by Time-Warner for many years, but that company tended to keep it’s comic division and movie division pretty separate. Marvel, on the other hand, has been able to be intimately involved in their most successful franchise. DC has consistently brought in outsiders to write and direct their movies, Marvel has kept their creative people in the loop on all of their productions. I mean, who better than the people who have guided the characters in their native format for years to help bring them to the big screen? If DC asked Greg Rucka, Gail Simone, Brian Azzarello and Phil Jimenez to brainstorm Wonder Woman movie ideas I don’t think you’d get just one great movie idea – you’d get an entire franchise.

Last week, Warner Bros. made a surprise announcement. Not only did they reveal that Wonder Woman will be in the Superman Vs. Batman movie, they also revealed who would be playing her – Gal Gadot from the Fast and the Furious movies. While there was the typical Internet backlash as there always seems to be when someone is cast as a famous character (see Daniel Craig as James Bond, Heath Ledger as The Joker, and most recently Ben Affleck as Batfleck) there was another group that was ticked off for a much stupider reason. The very first tweet that I read about this casting announcement was from someone who was complaining that Wonder Woman’s first big screen appearance won’t be in her own movie. There’s just no pleasing some people!

First, they’re unhappy that Wonder Woman hasn’t appeared in a movie, now they’re unhappy that she isn’t the star of the movie, next I’m sure they’ll be complaining that she doesn’t immediately kill Batman and Superman and take over the world. Wonder Woman, as I’ve discussed before, is a really hard character to nail down. Everyone knows what makes a great Batman movie – he’s a dark knight. Superman is a big, blue boyscout. Wonder Woman is… well… Wonder Woman. She’s gone through more character changes than any other superhero that I can think of. Within a few years, she went from an ambassador, to the Goddess of Truth, to a secret agent. With that in mind, I think it makes a lot of sense that DC film people want to test the waters with their version of the character before they throw a ton of money at a feature-length Wonder Woman story.

Graham Becksted is eagerly waiting for Gadot. He is also the author of Graham’s Grumbles, the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 94th follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.

 

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Mo Staches

It’s the next instalment of my continuing series on comic book moustaches in honor of Movember! This week, it happens to be all DC again.

Commissioner Gordon

Commissioner Gordon (by Tim Sale)

Commissioner Gordon (by Tim Sale)

The greatest crime fighter in Gotham City who doesn’t wear a cape and/or mask. He’s been in comics as long as Batman has, and he has a trusty sidekick too – His luscious moustache. It commands respect from all who see it, and he used it’s thick bristles to help him sweep the corrupt police force clean. It’s also one of many Mos that have helped the caped crusader. Alfred is also best known with a pencil thin stache, and Bruce Wayne’s own father is often seen with a thick soup strainer.

Old Bruce Wayne

Bruce Wayne from The Dark Knight Returns

Bruce Wayne from The Dark Knight Returns (by Frank Miller)

Speaking of Master Bruce, in the classic mini-series The Dark Knight Returns he grew his own food catcher. Obviously inspired by all the great moustaches around him, he wore one with pride at the beginning of the series. Unfortunately, it served as a bushy symbol of his cozy retirement. It was just too comfortable. So, when he decided to get back into the cape and cowl, he tragically shaved off his Just-For-Men-ed facial hair. And, sure, he went on some more adventures. Yeah, he beat up Superman. But, he never looked as smooth again.

The Comedian

The Comedian (by J.G. Jones... I think)

The Comedian (by J.G. Jones… I think)

Finally, this gentleman does not help the mustachioed cause. His death is the opening scene of the classic comic book series Watchmen. As his surprised, mouth browed face plummets to the pavement below, you can’t help but feel sorry for him. However, the more you learn about him, the more you realize he might just deserve the fate he gets. Pre-Stache, he tries to rape one of his teammates. Post-Stache, he revels in burning people alive in Vietnam, he kills a woman who is pregnant with his child, and is just generally a big dick. But, this is arguably the greatest comic series ever written, by arguably the greatest writer the medium has ever known, felt the need to include a moustache as the only example of facial hair we see. Thus, the stache is arguably the greatest piece of facial hair the world has ever known. I rest my case.

Graham Becksted is a big fan of moustaches. He is also the author of Graham’s Grumbles, the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 94th follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.

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What’s the Deal with the Man of Steel?

As mentioned in a previous column of mine, this weekend saw the release of one of the bigger blockbusters of the year – Man of Steel. Ultimately, I can’t say I didn’t enjoy it. But, there were definitely some serious flaws in it. Before I get into those, here’s your obligatory SPOILER warning. I’m going to be covering some big plot points from here on out, so stop now if you want to stay pure.

A lot has been made of Superman’s lack of interest in preventing the destruction of Smallville and Metropolis. He warns people to stay inside, and then proceeds to punch bad guys through buildings. He flies off to stop a machine in the middle of an ocean, while its sister machine is destroying a big city filled with people. And then, he does the thing that Superman is never supposed to do, he kills the bad guy. I think we can all agree that these are not the actions of the 75 year old comic book character Superman. But, these things have already been dissected by tons of other bloggers most of whom are way smarter than me.

I’m going to focus on two things that bugged me through the entire movie, but I haven’t seen discussed as much. First off, the early scenes on Krypton seem like something out of a live action Heavy Metal movie. (Heavy Metal being the adult comic book anthology magazine.) Everyone’s dialogue is stilted and self-serious. Superman’s dad, Jor-El, has a pet dragon that he flies home on even though everyone else is zooming around in hover cars and spaceships. And, when Zod and his buddies are caught, they are sent to the phantom zone in weird penis pods.

Okay, so that bugged me, but it was a different take that doesn’t mess with what makes Superman who he is.  All you really need from Krypton is that it blows up and baby Superman is sent to Earth. Anything beyond that is generally up to the teller as far as I’m concerned. But, one of the things you don’t mess with is the Lois/Superman dynamic. It’s part of what makes the character appealing.

Up until 1994, one of the defining characteristics of Superman was the odd love triangle he was in. Clark Kent loves Lois Lane, Lois doesn’t give him the time of day because she’s pining over Superman, and Superman is Clark Kent but can’t reveal his identity to her. Man of Steel throws all of that out without a second glance. It’s done so offhandedly that I didn’t believe it was actually happening.

The second time Lois and Clark actually interact, he saves her life and she sees his face. I kept thinking ‘how are they going to wipe her memory?’ But it never happened. For the rest of the movie she is fully aware of who he is. I don’t get it. Why get rid of that perfect bit of romantic tension without even touching it?

I think in trying to make Superman as gritty as Batman they forgot that gritty doesn’t work with Superman. When you get right down to it, not many people would actually want to be Batman. Sure he’s a billionaire, but he’s an orphan who runs around at night beating up escaped mental patients. (They’re not in Arkham Asylum for nothing.) Grit works with Batman because he’s all about suffering. Superman, on the other hand, who wouldn’t want to be him? He’s a pretty regular guy, who also happens to be able to do anything. He’s all about hope. He represents the best in everyone. Grit doesn’t work with him, because it just doesn’t stick. The main difference between the two characters comes down to this: Batman feels like he has to be a superhero to stop what happened to him from happening to anyone else; Superman chooses to be a superhero because he wants to help people and bring them hope and joy.

Man of Steel was distinctly lacking in both hope and joy.

Graham Becksted is more of a Man of Stool. He is also the author of Graham’s Grumbles, the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 81st follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.

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The Amazing Spider-Man: 2 Many Villains

Supervillains are almost as important to superhero books as the superheroes.  Writers and artists have to spend nearly as much time making the bad guys interesting as they do the heroes.  The best villains elevate the heroes to new highs and lows. Think of Green Goblin, The Joker, Magneto, and Lex Luthor. In many ways, they’re more interesting than the do-gooders who fight them.  The best villains cause enough havoc on their own, so why do filmmakers feel the need to continually pair them up?

This all stems from the recent rumors that Paul Giamatti is going to play Rhino in Amazing Spider-Man 2.  This comes after it was announced that Jaime Foxx will be playing Electro. Now, in the comics there have been entire story-arcs built around each of these characters individually. When done well, they can provide Spider-Man with more than enough to do in a 2 hour movie.  At least as much as the Lizard did, anyway.

Also, these are two fantastic actors. Why waste their talents by giving them each half a movie to work with? How about one movie where Jaime Foxx is the villain and one movie where Paul Giamatti is the villain? Is that really so much to ask?

Let’s look at the precedent set by the previous Spider-Man films. In the first one, we have a somewhat subpar Green Goblin. An interesting performance by Willem Dafoe is marred by an awful costume. They learn from this and present a stripped down take on Doctor Octopus for the second one. That’s right, one villain is still enough to keep Peter Parker busy. Deciding to go out with a bang, Sam Raimi gives us three villains for his last and, without a doubt worst, Spider-Man movie. Venom, Sandman and another Green Goblin give the movie a distinct flavour of ADD and none of them are given the attention that they deserve.  An entire trilogy could be devoted to the Venom story on its own, but instead we get Topher Grace moping his way through a third of a movie.

The Nolan Batman run provides an interesting case counterpoint to this theory. With their first outing, Batman Begins, Scarecrow is introduced as the main villain, but is quickly revealed to be just a warmup for Ra’s Al Ghul. They’re both just interested in money, so I don’t see why one would be a greater threat than the other. Anyway, The Dark Knight features The Joker and Two-Face, another double bill of villainy, but Two-Face really only shows up in the last half-hour and he’s just a pawn of The Joker. The Dark Knight Rises has Bane, Catwoman, and (spoiler alert!) Talia Al Ghul. Bane is great until he’s revealed to be little more than a henchman for Talia, and Catwoman becomes Batman’s ally before you can blink. So, all have multiple villains, but none are equal threat levels to divide The Caped Crusader’s attention.

This is an interesting take that Amazing Spider-Man 2 might take, but I have a hard time imagining Electro or Rhino being a warm up for the other.  They’re both mainly interested in money, and have never shown much interest in being a big threat to the city or beyond. Neither are random murderers, or psychos. In fact, they’re both kind of dumb. Which makes me worried that there will be a third villain who’s masterminding the whole thing. And, we all know what happened the last time we had a Spider-Man movie with three bad guys.

Graham Becksted is open to any other examples where multiple villains in a superhero movie worked. He is also the author of Graham’s Grumbles, the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 72nd follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.

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The Dark Knight Rises

The third Batman film by Christopher Nolan is simply… more awesomeness.  There’s so much awesomeness that it’s almost 3 hours long and your bladder may not be able to handle it.

A storm is coming... or something.

Catwoman in this film is badass.  Anne Hathaway plays a femme fatale who can handle her own business but at the same time is sometimes conflicted about her choices.  She kicks a lot of people in the face and blows stuff up (there is a lot of both in this film).  Bane is the central villain and is more of a terrorist/revolutionary/mastermind than a beefy muscle dude.  And then the cast of Inception shows up.   Marion Cotillard plays Miranda Tate, a rich chick.  Bruce Wayne’s butler suggests that he move on from his dead ex-lover and get himself a piece of that billionaire philanthropist booty.  (Ok so I’m describing the plot very loosely here.)  Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Blake, one of the good guy cops.  Here’s a picture of him with a gun making a pouty face.

Blake holding a gun and making a pouty face.

To summarize:

  • Lots of action sequences
  • Lots of stuff blowing up
  • Crazy plot twists
  • Batman gets new toys
  • Lots of thematic elements.  Is it right to create heroes out of false idols (Harvey Dent)?  Does Bruce Wayne need to get out of the house more?
  • Lots of eye shadow whenever Batman has his mask on

So go watch it!  But go to the bathroom first.

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