Tag Archives: Batman
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
This was back when cartoons were badass. No teens/tweens being “cool”. No moralizing lessons. I like my cartoons dark and violent ok? So check out the opening to Batman TAS… it’s one of the best intros of all time.
Gotta start somewhere (inspired by THIS article).
I know I just did a piece on comic book TV shows but today I got a great idea for a show. It’s so perfect that I think I can fill a whole column with it. It’s such a great idea that I feel like I should probably charge for it. In fact, I just thought of another! I need to get a job with a TV network. Seriously.
There seems to be a few types of shows that always survive no matter how many copycats are on the air. Doctors, lawyers, and police officers always seem to have a place on TV unless they’re singing. Daytime talk shows too, but those are harder to combine with comic books. Powers is already being turned into a TV show, so that takes that off the board. But, there’s another Police/Superheroes comic book that I think could make for a great TV show.
Gotham Central (GC). This was a series by two of the best writers working in comics today – Greg Rucka and Ed Brubaker. It was about cops working the beat in Gotham City. While Powers is about cops, who may or may not have powers themselves, working in a city where superpowers are illegal, GC is about regular joe cops solving crimes in the wake of the Batman. The comic lasted for 40 issues, but introduced and developed quite a few non-powered police officers. It could have done in one crime stories and arcs that follow the detectives as they track down supervillains. Batman and Robin could make cameos and Commissioner Gordon could star.
No brainer, right? I think if they made it gritty like NYPD Blue, and not campy like Birds Of Prey, it could seriously last for a long time. I think that’s the real secret. Treat it seriously, and the audience will treat it seriously. If the creators don’t respect it, how can it last?
Secondly – Daredevil. A superhero who’s secret identity is a blind lawyer. Oh my God, it’s like the perfect superhero TV show. Every week there would be a new case. Matt Murdock would defend the sceptical defendant in court while Daredevil would prowl the streets looking for proof that his client was innocent. Throughout the seasons he could find more and more links between organized crime and respected citizen Wilson Fisk. Eventually he would discover that Fisk was also the Kingpin of crime and he would keep trying to find ways to bring him down.
For comic relief add Foggy Nelson, Matt’s bumbling attorney sidekick. For moral support there’s Ben Urich, a reporter at the local newspaper. And for a love interest, the somewhat unstable firm secretary – Karen Page. It seems like the perfect combination of typical law drama and superhero action. Argh! I would pay to see this.
How could those shows not last!? I think you should really start a petition to make me the show runner of one or more of these fine programs. I would certainly not stand in your way.
Graham Becksted is an idea machine for comic book to TV show ideas. He is 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 52nd follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.
It was recently announced that there’s going to be a pilot for a Green Arrow live-action TV series. In all likelihood, it’ll probably end up like that much maligned Wonder Woman pilot – relegated to the bootleg stalls of comic conventions. But why?
Superhero comics would seem to be just about the perfect source material for TV shows. They’re already serialized and they all end on a cliff hanger. There’s a built-in audience, and a whole bunch of marketing tie-ins. Now, don’t get me wrong. There are some very successful examples – three immediately spring to mind the Adam West Batman, the Lynda Carter Wonder Woman, and Smallville. But the first two were unabashedly campy and probably would not fly on network TV today. I haven’t seen much Smallville, but I know they steered away from the tried and true parts of the comic book continuity for years and years. And, when superheroes did start showing up on the show they’re costumes were pretty ridiculous.
Also, there were many many years between these successes. Batman ended in 1969 and Wonder Woman started in 1975. Smallville started in 2001, almost thirty years later. (I can’t think of any other successful live action superhero shows, but if you can let me know.) There have been other attempts, but none that I would call a success.
Green Hornet – 1 season, 26 episodes. The Flash – 1 season, 22 episodes. Birds of Prey – 1 season, 14 episodes. Justice League – 1 pilot.
Ok, so I thought of a couple more successes. The Incredible Hulk and Lois and Clark. So, that puts us at about one success a decade. I mean, considering the source material, it shouldn’t be this hard. Allow me to present some easy, totally, like, nothing-but-net ideas.
Batman, but in a smallville-ish way. Have a young (early twenties) Bruce Wayne learning to be Batman in Gotham. Very Batman: Year One. Not too many supervillains, at least not at first. Concentrate on drug dealers, and gangsters. The supporting cast could be Alfred, Lieutenant Jim Gordon, and D.A. Harvey Dent. Follow in the realistic style of the Christopher Nolan movies, and your set! I would watch that every week! I mean, A-Plots would be Batman kicking ass, and the B-Plots could be Bruce navigating the Wayne corporation.
Punisher. I really don’t think I even need to say more. Again, it would be kind of gritty, but have more War Journal style narration. Again, more gangsters than supervillains, but I think it would be cool. Every episode, he should get his ass kicked and then come back and win in the last ten minutes. I’m cheating a little with this one since Marvel actually is producing a Punisher TV series. I just hope they have learned their lesson from the three Punisher movies.
Finally, how about something a little lighter. Captain Marvel (although, I guess they’d have to call it Shazam or something ‘cause of the copyright issues.) A little boy turns into a Superman-eque superhero, but retains his boyish mind and personality. It would be like Super Big! He also has a fantastic assortment of bizarre supervillains – like a super intelligent caterpillar and a weird bald doctor
Maybe I’m crazy, but I think those are some pretty solid ideas for TV shows. And, I don’t think they’d be too expensive or difficult to make either. (Okay, maybe Captain Marvel could be a little expensive but I think it would be worth it.) What do you think? Do I have something here?
Graham Becksted’s a future TV executive so you should be nice to him. He is 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 51st follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.
Marvel recently announced that the next in a long line of Spider-Man cartoons. In the last ten years there have been three different series, and Ultimate Spider-Man will be the next. Based on the Brian Michael Bendis modern retelling of the character’s history, it will begin airing on Disney XD in the summer. I’m really looking forward to watching this if only for the crew attached. First of all, Bendis is heavily involved. Second, most of the other main writers/producers are best known for comic book work (Joe Casey, Joe Kelly, Steven Seagle and Duncan Rouleau). And finally, the other big brain on the show was one of the creators of the Batman Animated Series – Paul Dini.
That Batman show was part of a great superhero cartoon renaissance of the 90s. Animation standards went up, and so did writing quality. Batman, Spider-Man, and The X-Men cartoons all started within a few years of each other were all cartoons that could be enjoyed by kids and grown-ups alike. The Marvel ones in particular introduced storylines that would run through multiple episodes and even season long arcs. The X-Men cartoon was can’t miss TV for me as I had to know what was going to happen next.
Following in Batman’s footsteps, DC launched a whole line of cartoons in the same style. First there was Superman, then Superman and Batman, and finally the Justice League. The Justice League cartoon is the only Saturday morning cartoon I watched with any regularity since defeating the horrors of puberty. It has multi-episode arcs, complicated character relationships, and consequences that last beyond the closing credits. The third and fourth seasons took the show to a new level with a rotating cast of more obscure characters. When kids start hunting for action figures of Vixen (a member of the crappy as they sound Detroit Justice League) and The Question (Steve Ditko’s Ayn Rand inspired faceless detective) you know a show’s doing something right.
Marvel recently followed in a similar path with Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. I haven’t followed that show quite as closely, but I really enjoyed what I saw. It had the same vibe of “absolutely anyone can turn up in any episode”, and it definitely had running plot lines keeping a sense of consistency. A second season has been announced but has yet to air. Hopefully it can keep the good times rolling for Marvel’s cartoons.
The potential for great cartoons is one of the best things to come from the Disney purchase of Marvel. DC has had Warner Bros backing for their cartoons for years and their cartoons have really thrived with that connection. I think that’s a pretty good sign, as Marvel has had trouble making consistently good cartoons in the last decade or so.
Graham Becksted knows more about cartoons than most 26 year olds should. He is 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 51st follower, he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.
Superhero origins are funny things. They define how a character will be portrayed for the rest of their run. When done well, they can set up a character for hundreds of great stories, but if they’re done poorly they can be an anchor that drags the whole series down. The best origin story is probably that of Batman. A boy watches his parents get gunned down and vows to never let that happen to anyone else again. He uses his vast wealth to train his body and mind to become the perfect crime fighting machine. Everything you need to know about the character is right there in the origin. He’s got a dark past, he’s a perfectionist, and he’ll do whatever it takes to stop criminals. Over the years some details have changed, like who killed his parents and how he trained, but the basic details stay the same. Even when he got all campy in the 60s, they stayed true to the basics.
Wonder Woman is a different story. Her origins have always been a bit more vague. Initially, she was just the best of the amazons and she won the right to take Steve Trevor back to America and help fight the Nazis. So, from that we know that she’s tough and likes adventure. It doesn’t give us much to go on. Eventually, they changed it so that she was imbued with the powers of some of the Greek gods. Then, she was the daughter of the original Wonder Woman who fought with America in World War 2. Then she was an ambassador from the Amazons to bring peace to the outside world. The problem is that when you get right down to it, she’s a hard character to pin down. Every writer who takes over the book seems to have a different idea of who the character is and what her motivations are. With the launch of DC’s “New 52” they’ve altered her origin yet again. Now she is the daughter of Zeus and Hippolyta (the leader of the Amazons).
After the origin, there comes a period of setting the basic framework for what the character’s life is like. Batman runs Wayne Enterprises, but mainly spends his time fighting crime. He’s rich, has a butler, and a propensity for picking up young boys. Superman was raised on a farm, is modest, works as a reporter, and feels it’s his duty to help out. Wonder Woman, on the other hand, has had a million different jobs, and lifestyles. She’s worked for the army, she’s been an ambassador, she lost her powers and learned kung-fu, and she’s been a secret agent. Currently, her stories are taking on more of a horror twist, but we’ll see how long that lasts.
What the character needs is for a writer and artist team to take over the character and define her. Set her origin in stone. Take the most iconic aspects of her (lasso, tiara, invisible jet) and make them integral to who she is. Properly set out exactly what her powers are and what their limits are. I mean, if she can fly on her own why does she need a jet? Once details like that get hammered out she can finally have a chance at becoming as famous as the other big two at DC.
This week, I bring you part two of my Movember tribute to great Moustaches in comics!
This week, the Distinguished Competition:
The first moustache that comes to mind when I think of DC is a sinister little number. It’s something of a cross between Dali and John Waters and it’s worn by Hal Jordan’s (Green Lantern to the uninitiated) greatest foe!
Hardly thick enough to catch crumbs, it’s been with the wearer through good times and bad. Sinestro turned his back on the Green Lantern Corps, and started to use his stylish ‘stache to strike fear in the hearts of all. Now he has his own Corps, The Sinestro Corps, and he uses said ‘stache like antenna to hunt down new members.
Batman has had many sidekicks through the years. Several Robins from Dick Grayson to Tim Drake. His own son. Three or four Batgirls. But, his most stalwart companion is his butler’s moustache.
It’s not terribly well known that Alfred was quite different in his initial appearances. He was a chubby fellow, with a propensity for bumbling into the Caped Crusader’s crime fighting pursuits. In those days, he was more likely to cause a problem than to help solve it. But, one day, in an effort to improve himself, he went to a spa and cleaned himself up. When he returned, he was trim, capable, and moustachioed. This Alfred, thanks to his handy little ‘stache, could fix anything from a broken bone to a nice cup of tea. A vast improvement and the sole constant in Batman’s hectic life!
Finally, a character who would appear to not even have a ‘stache. But this is the most devious lip toupee yet.
Cesar Romero, the original TV joker refused to shave to play the baldfaced Joker. He said that he owed his entire career to his hairy sneezeguard. So, they just painted white makeup over it, thus creating a secret-stache. He was the most consistent thorn in Adam West’s side during the three years that the show was on the air, and probably the most memorable. And to think, none of it would be possible without that moustache.
So, if you’re as thankful for moustaches as Mr. Cesar Romero was, please make a donation to help men’s health at: www.mobro.co/GrahamBecksted
And, if you’d like, you can follow me on twitter @GrahamBecksted .
Superheroes have come a long way over the course of their over 70 years of existence. The physical quality of the comic has improved, from the paper stock to the colouring. A greater diversity of races and genders has been introduced. The writing and art in general have improved. Even within the worlds depicted in the comics there have been some big changes for these characters. None bigger, perhaps, than their powers.
As with all things superheroes, it’s best to start with the original. Superman was created in 1938 by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. In his earliest appearances he could jump real high, he was pretty strong, he was pretty fast, and he could see pretty far. Oh, and he could also control his face muscles so well that he could make himself look like someone else. That’s it. Over the years, his powers grew. Instead of jumping, he gained the ability to fly. He went from being able to survive an artillery shell, to being able to survive a nuclear explosion. And, his powers didn’t just increase in strength, but in number. He gained the ability to see through walls, and shoot lasers out of his eyes. His memory became infallible. He could blow hurricanes. Oh, and he had super-ventriloquism whatever the hell that means.
The next big time superhero created was Batman by Bob Kane and Bill Finger in 1939. He was the opposite in many ways to Superman. No powers, just lots and lots of money. But, like Superman, his abilities increased over the years. He started off as a guy with a cape and a gun who killed people who broke the law. He had a Batmobile, but it was basically just a car. Over the time he has gone from a millionaire to a billionaire. He’s gained a Batplane, Batcycle, Batboat, Batcopter, and pretty much any other vehicle you can slap a bat on. He has also gone from being a detective to the World’s Greatest Detective. Whenever two kids argue who would win in a fight between superheroes, Batman always wins because he’s supposedly smart enough to find anyone’s weakness.
Every other superhero created is some combination of these two. They’re the fathers of the genre. And their children definitely take after them. Take Iceman from the X-Men for example. He starts out as a young guy who looks like a snowman. He can make simple things out of snow, and he can ride around on an ice platform. Now he is an omega-level mutant who can freeze the water in a person’s body. He can alter the temperature his environment. In some versions, he can even turn his body into a thin layer of ice and move across surfaces in that form.
Another example from the world of the X-Men are the Summers brothers. Scott Summers, Cyclops, has the ability to shoot blasts of energy out of his eyes. Alex Summers, Havok, was created a few years later and has powers that are a bit more difficult to describe. He can shoot these sort of ray things that heat stuff up to the point that they instantly explode or melt. It involves absorbing cosmic rays, or something. Gabriel Summers, or Lord Vulcan, was introduced a few years ago and can basically do anything. He can manipulate all forms of energy, including those of other mutants. So, if he needs telepathic powers, he manipulates the powers of a nearby telepath. His power basically lets him do anything.
Okay, so, back to Superman. In the eighties, the bosses at DC realized that he was way too powerful. They were having a hard time coming up with anything that could threaten him. So, he was rebooted and made a little less super. His strength was toned down, and he lost some of his more ludicrous “powers” like super-ventriloquism, and his genius level intellect. It made for some more interesting stories, because there was actually a chance that he would be defeated. I think that’s something that more superheroes need to have done to them.
When you have a character like Iceman who went from being able to create some snow, to being able to freeze a person at the molecular level you have to go even further with his villains. Because of that, Iceman rarely appears in X-Men comics anymore. A much less powerful version of him appears pretty consistently in Ultimate Spider-Man and Ultimate X-Men, though. If a character has powers that you need a degree in chemistry to understand, it’s going to be pretty hard to come up with stories for them to be involved in.
To sum up: powers – good! Infinite power – bad!