Archive for the ‘Batman’ Category

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It’s very hard to really appreciate what a momentous film Batman was without actually living through it. In 1989, I was in kindergarten and was completely caught up in the Batmania that was gripping the world. For the first time in my life, I could go to the store and find an entire row of toys based on Batman (and Joker and…Bob the goon?) and every kind of tie-in and cash-grab imaginable. These days, that sort of thing is common place, it’s even strange if a comic book movie doesn’t have a bunch of advertising. In that way, Batman was very ahead of its time. In many, many other ways it’s still a product of the late 80’s. That’s not a bad thing, but it’s fairly dated and not nearly as beholden to the character as modern interpretations. As such, it’s kind of fun to look at it from a historical perspective and see just how much the character has changed over the course of two and a half decades. With that, enjoy Brian and I talking through Batman. Also, don’t forget the trivia question! Or do…I’d rather not have to come up with a prize.

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Superheroes are defined by their villains, be it directly or indirectly. This is a fundamental fact of the conflict that lies at the core of stories featuring masked men and the people who oppose them. For example, many point to the duality of Batman and Joker. It’s been said that one cannot exist without the other. When it comes to villains, the Dark Knight’s collection of foes is widely regarded as one of the best in the medium. However, there’s one other DC hero, The Flash, whose enemies are almost as well regarded.

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In part one of this look back at Justice League: Mortal, I addressed the plot without getting into a whole lot of detail. Now that you’ve had time to track down the script, I’ll be looking a bit deeper in regards to the characters and the overall story. Each section will focus on an actor and the part they were to play. Some of the casting seemed spot on while other actors seemed…less suited for their roles. Let’s begin!

DJ Cotrona as Superman

At the time, Cotrona had done very little of note. He had a few bit-parts here and there, but this would have definitely been his highest-profile role. Since then, he’s gone on to play Flint in G.I. Joe: Retaliation and star in the From Dusk Till Dawn television series. He definitely has the physique of Superman, but his youthful demeanor and look doesn’t quite fit the script’s older, more established take on the character. Overall, the character is portrayed how he should be: selfless, noble and pretty much untouchably “super”. The third act takes a page from Infinite Crisis and pits Superman against the league thanks to some mind-control. I really like this story beat, but feel that the movie screws it up a bit. It hinges on the idea that Supes thinks Lois has been killed. However, she’s not a character and has no presence in the film. It relies too much on the public’s knowledge of their relationship and history. That’s not a bad thing in some cases, but since it’s so important for the finale, she really needs to be seen and (more importantly) felt within the context of the story. She doesn’t have to be a major character, just the same level as Iris Allen or maybe a little smaller. Since her “death” is so important at the end, we need to SEE her and understand what she means to Big Blue.
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It’s been a damn good year for comic book media. Perhaps the biggest advances have been in the realm of television. Once the black sheep of the entertainment industry, TV is now the go-to for intricately plotted, nuanced and serialized drama. Add to that the continuing dominance of comic book movies and it’s no surprise that countless properties continue to be optioned and adapted.
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The League’s core, circa 2006.

Back in 2007 DC had absolutely no idea what they were doing with their film properties. Nearly all of their characters were stuck in development hell and they had a serious lack of overall vision for any of their franchises. The sole exception was Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy. So, with no idea how to sell any of their singular characters, DC decided to start at the top and work down in creating their cinematic universe. They’d start with the Justice League property and then spin-off individual films based on the heroes from there. All things considered, it’s not a terrible approach. They would know what worked and what didn’t before hundreds of millions were spent on a character that no one cared about (just think, they could have avoided Green Lantern had they taken this path). So, in 2007 they commissioned a script, hired George Miller as a director and assembled a cast for Justice League: Mortal, the film that almost was. This will be an in-depth, two-part look at the plot, cast, characters and circumstances around this film’s inception and destruction. Also, I feel I need to add a spoiler warning…I guess. I dunno? Do you need spoiler warnings for unproduced screenplays?

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This year sees an unprecedented amount of comic book characters being adapted to the small screen. When you add new shows to returning series like Arrow, Walking Dead and Agents of SHIELD, it sure looks like comics are primed to dominate this medium in the same way they have movie screens for the last decade or so. As such, now seems like the perfect time to launch a new column that takes a look at comic-book-based pilots. I’ve reviewed a couple so far, but they have been for shows that weren’t picked up or were never actually aired. With this column, I want to focus on shows that did go to series and see how well they establish their tone, characters and future storylines.

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This is a new column where I’ll look at how a single comic book character or team has been adapted throughout the years. Think of this as the opposite of The Unadapted (The Un-Unadapted, if you will) in that this will be chronicling characters who have made multiple appearances in expanded media. My first subject will be everyone’s favorite gun-for-hire: Deadshot!

Daniel LuVisi’s beautiful cover to
Secret Six, issue 15

Deadshot (AKA Floyd Lawton) first appeared in Batman’s comic way back in 1950. He was a gimmick villain who posed as a hero trying to abdicate the Dark Knight’s throne as the top crime fighter in Gotham. He was eventually found out and sent to prison. At the time, he wore a costume consisting of a top hat and domino mask. Upon being released from prison, he was rebranded as a marksman for the highest bidder. Along with the change came a new costume consisting of a targeting reticle over his right eye which has become an iconic part of the character’s attire.

Since his early days, the character has evolved into more than a run-of-the-mill villain. He is a father who is devoted to making a better life for his daughter, a nihilist who isn’t afraid to die when the time comes and a good friend to those he deems worthy. He’s also become a fixture in DC’s Suicide Squad, surviving more missions than just about anyone else. He even made the transition to the New 52 version of the team. With his devil-may-care attitude, it’s no wonder he’s been so popular outside of the printed page.

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Beginning as a video game that was loosely based on a Grant Morrison comic, the Batman: Arkham series has become a force all its own. The series has sold millions of copies and remains a healthy outlier in an industry that is notoriously poor to comic books. When it was announced that an animated film was in the works and was to be set in this universe, there was a palpable level of excitement from most fans of the series. When it was announced that the film would star The Suicide Squad, my personal level of excitement grew to insane levels.

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*NOTE*: To keep up with demand, I am institituing a new feature of this blog: guest columns! The following was written by friend and contributer J.R. Shartzer. Enjoy!

Batman & Robin was the first movie that offended me.

Kids think that everything is AWESOME. If it’s loud and shiny, kids will buy it. That’s what I attribute the success of those Transformers movies to. Anyway, I remember exiting the movie theater in June of 1997. I was eleven, about to turn twelve, and the stupidest thing was eating at me. See, I will accept that Batgirl is not Barbara Gordon and is Alfred’s niece. I will accept that Batman has a personalized credit card. I will even accept that Bane is a mindless goon. But there was one quick moment that stuck with me. (more…)

If Superman was the Alpha of comic book movies, Batman & Robin was very nearly the Omega. It was an expensive, garish, day-glo nightmare of a film.
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