Tag Archives: batman

Holy Decapitation, Batman!

Today’s post is more a Public Service Announcement than an opinion piece.

You’re a parent. You turn on NetFlix looking for something to occupy the young ones for a while. You come across “Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox.”

“The Super Friends!” you think. “That will be perfect for the kids to watch. Such good role models — the Flash and Wonder Woman and Aquaman…”

Don’t do it. DO. NOT. DO. IT. Unless you want to scar your children for life.

If you’ve ever wondered what would happen if Quentin Tarantino made a superhero movie — “The Flashpoint Paradox” is probably as close as you’re going to get.

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But before we get down to the grim and gritty of this DC original animated movie, we should consider the state of the superhero here in the early days of the 21st century.

The recent success of “Deadpool” has raised a lot of chatter about the appropriateness of R-rated superhero movies. Warner Bros. have already announced they plan to release an R-rated version of “Batman v. Superman” for home video. Disney has responded that they will never make an R-rated Marvel movie. (Fox has the rights to Deadpool, even though he’s a Marvel character).

Personally, I think it depends on the character. Deadpool, the Punisher, Wolverine — these guys really don’t belong in a PG world (Don’t you ever wonder why Logan never gets blood on his claws?). And then there’s Superman, Captain America, Spider-Man. These guys should never venture much beyond PG-13.

And then there’s Batman. One of the things that makes Batman great is that you can plug him into anything and he works. Batman appeals to all ages and he works just as well in goofy situations and grim noir works. Take away Batman’s right to go really dark and you lose some of the greatest Batman stories ever told.

Now, two things that really don’t belong on the dark side of the road are The Flash, Fastest Man Alive, and the Justice League, DC’s all-star superteam (The Avengers shouldn’t go dark either. Good on Disney.)

“The Flashpoint Paradox” is a 90-minute animated feature based on a comic book story that I’m told wasn’t nearly as gory as the movie. The story itself is actually pretty good. It’s another one of those alternate universe tales — The Flash messes with the timeline and finds himself in a world where young Bruce Wayne was shot by the mugger and his father becomes Batman; a world on the brink of extinction due to a war between Atlantis and the Amazons; a world where Superman never existed.

Alternate universe stories are pretty overdone in comics but they can often be entertaining. This one fits the bill. This is actually one of the best animated features DC has made. But the violence. Oh my god.

Flashpoint5

Would you like to know how the war between Atlantis and Amazon Island (I can’t be bothered to look up the spelling of Thymescaria) started? Well, Aquaman and Wonder Woman have sex in front of Aquaman’s wife Mera (granted, they didn’t know she was there). Mera shows up later to kill Wonder Woman but instead Diana stabs her in the heart, then CUTS HER HEAD OFF. And holds it up for the audience to see.

Oh, Diana also strangles Steve Trevor to death, and kills young Billy Batson after forcing him to speak the magic word “Shazam!” The movie is chock full of shootings and stabbings and arrows through the head. There’s some language that would make Captain America blush. But the masterpiece of schlock that is “The Flashpoint Paradox” comes when Batman shoots a man in the back of the head. We know Batman did it because we see him standing behind the villain through the HOLE IN THE MAN’S HEAD.

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What’s even more amazing about this movie is that it’s rated PG-13. (And who pays attention to ratings on animated features? I didn’t realize what it was rated until after I watched it and had to find out.)

If “The Flashpoint Paradox” is considered PG-13 fare, I cannot imagine what Batman and Wonder Woman would have to do to get an R.

Well, probably have sex.

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Fun With The Fireplace

I never had a fireplace growing up. Our home was heated by a gas stove in the living room. Rather I should say our living room was heated by a gas stove. It provided some warmth to the dining area, less to the kitchen and bathroom and nothing to the bedrooms.

Laurie visited me one winter when we were first dating and discovered that her bottle of shampoo that she left in her overnight bag had frozen while sitting in the bedroom. She married me anyway.

Upon leaving home I spent the next several years in dorms or apartments, none of which had fireplaces. Our first home also had no fireplace, just a wood stove in the basement.

When we moved into the Fabulous RRoy Palace some 20+ years ago, it had a lovely marble fireplace. Finally, a place where I could hang one of my beloved framed comic book posters and a mantle to set up my favorite action figures and statues. It would be the decorative centerpiece of our home.

The Traditional Art: 'Starry Night,' Vincent Van Gogh; various knickknacks

The Traditional
Art: ‘Starry Night,’ Vincent Van Gogh
various knickknacks

Five minutes after we moved in The Wife had placed a Van Gogh painting, two Waterford candle sticks, a Monet water lilies glass plate, a crystal hurricane lamp and various knicknacks over the fireplace. Once again I was forced to lug all my prized possessions to the basement.

A few weeks ago at the local comic convention I picked up a lovely Hawkeye print. The Wife, who has a gift for such things, took it to Michaels to be framed. If you’ve ever been to an art museum you know that the frame is at least half the importance of the painting and Laurie is very good at selecting frames and mattings and whatnot. The finished product was indeed lovely and it seemed a shame to send such a work of art down to the basement. So, while The Wife was at Curves one night I gently took down Vincent, shoved her knicknacks in a cabinet, hung my Hawkeye print and hauled some statues and action figures up to the mantle.

Kick Ass Hawkeye Shrine Art: 'Hawkeye,'  Carlo Pagulayan Various Hawkeye statues and action figures

Kick-Ass Hawkeye Shrine
Art: ‘Hawkeye,’
Carlo Pagulayan
various Hawkeye statues and action figures

I knew I wouldn’t be able to get away with this on my own, so I quickly snapped some photos, put them on Facebook, and asked our loyal friends and family to vote for the best fireplace decor. The final vote was 19 for Hawkeye, 12 for Van Gogh and 166 people with the good sense not to get involved. Despite a clear mandate for change, it was equally clear that continued happiness in the house meant a return to the status quo.

As I carried my Hawkeye treasures down the stairs I thought of other combinations of items and decided, hey, since she’s not around, let’s play with this some more. My next design was Avengers-centric, with a set of small Disney figurines bookended by Black Widow and Thor statues. I liked the art but the figures didn’t quite cut it. The Hawkeye art was too small for the space but this piece worked fine.

Fireplace Assemble! Art: 'The Avengers,' Alex Ross Various Avengers figures

Fireplace Assemble!
Art: ‘The Avengers,’ Alex Ross
various Avengers figures

My final — and if I do say so myself — masterpiece was the Batman design. I thought about doing an X-Men one but by this time I was really tired of hauling shit up and down the basement stairs.

Longtime readers of The Report know of my long struggle to acquire a copy of Alex Ross’ classic “Knight Over Gotham” so you can imagine how exciting it was to finally see it in a place of honor. I carefully selected the items from my collection that would complement it. The finished product is, as you can see for yourself, glorious. (Although you should really see it in person. Photography is not my skill).

It was so perfect I almost cried. And I may yet cry tonight as I take it down and return things to normal in time for Mother’s Day. It’s the least I can do.

Dark Knight Over Fireplace 'Knight Over Gotham' Alex Ross Various Batman memorabilia

Dark Knight Over Fireplace
‘Knight Over Gotham,’ Alex Ross
various Batman memorabilia

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Have Yourself A Hawkeye Little Christmas

MARVELTREASURYED13BCPretty much everyone in the entertainment business tries to cash in — I mean celebrate — the holiday season. There are Christmas movies, Christmas albums and most TV shows air holiday themed episodes this month. So it will come as no surprise to learn that comic book publishers also engage in the practice.

The first Christmas-related comic I remember was “The Man Who Murdered Santa Claus” (cheery title, right?) from a 1974 issue of Justice League. I don’t remember anything about the story and I no longer have my copy. I’m sure the League brought the murderer to justice (that is their job after all). It probably wasn’t the real Santa anyway. At least I hope it wasn’t.

Marvel Treasury Edition 13The oldest Christmas comic in my collection is the Marvel Treasury Edition Giant Superhero Holiday Grab-Bag from 1976. It cost a whopping $1.50 and I can’t believe my parents let me buy it. I suspect my dad had nothing to do with it and mom was always a softie. Besides, it was Christmas.

The book reprinted four comics that had nothing to do with Christmas, but there was a framing sequence tying them together that followed the holiday theme. I think I bought it primarily for the Avengers story.

You wouldn’t think Batman would be the subject of many holiday stories — what with him being all dark knighty — but there have probably been more Christmas Batman stories than any other superhero.

Perhaps the best known of the bunch is “Silent Night of the Batman,” another 70s-era story in which the Caped Crusader spends the night singing carols with the night shift at the Gotham City Police Department (yes, Batman used to be in good with the GCPD. Simpler times.) while waiting for emergency calls to come in. But none do because there’s no crime on Christmas Eve — not even in Gotham City! 

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Yes, it’s ridiculously corny, but aren’t all Christmas specials?

This week a new comic was added to my holiday reading list. It’s always a good thing when new things come along that are worthy of being added to one’s Christmas traditions.

2727071-hawkeye_6_coverI’m referring to the sixth issue of hawkeye, the ridiculously good comic by Matt Fraction and David Aja. As has been the case throughout its short run, the book tells a simple story about Clint Barton’s life outside The Avengers.

This month it looks at six days in a life during mid-December. Over the course of the week Clint beats up some bad guys with Wolverine and Spider-Man; calls on Tony Stark to help set up his DVR; watches Christmas specials with some kids in his apartment building; and faces off against some thugs who threaten his neighborhood. It’s funny and clever and poignant and moving and, yes, corny. And the art is so pretty.

hawkeye 6 is available in any self-respecting comic shop now. It’s the perfect stocking stuffer — although you really shouldn’t bend a comic book to stick in a stocking.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a joyous-ass Kwanzaa, bro.

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It’s Always Darkest

The first — and I believe only — midnight movie premiere I ever attended was in 1989. The movie: “Batman.”

If you think the batmania surrounding the latest Batman movie is something, it’s nothing compared to what it was like in 1989. This was the first Batman movie. The first serious one, anyway. Sure, we all had reservations about Michael Keaton in the title role, but Jack Nicholson as The Joker? Genius.

Furthermore, superhero movies weren’t as commonplace then as they are today. And midnight screenings were unheard of, unless you were “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” Especially in Springfield, Mo., a city not known for its night life.

This was special.

I was working the copy desk at the News-Leader at the time. My shift ended at 11:30 p.m. which gave me just enough time to hook up with The Wife and drive to Battlefield Mall. We were able to get good seats despite not camping out hours or days before the show. It was a simpler time. The movie opened two days before our first wedding anniversary. We went back for a matinée two days later.

But that night was the real celebration. There was a real sense of community waiting in line and sitting in the dark listening to that ominous score and watching that odd credits sequence that slowly pulls back to reveal the bat emblem… And then those poor tourists get lost in a bad part of town…And then the muggers show up…And then he does.

Don’t kill me, man!
I’m not going to kill you. I want you to do me a favor. I want you to tell all your friends about me.
What are you?
I’m Batman.

And just like that, all fears that Tim Burton would blow it were gone. All doubts about Michael Keaton were dismissed. And Jack hadn’t even shown up yet.

Two hours later as the camera swoops up tall buildings into the Gotham night to reveal one last shot of Batman standing in front of the batsignal I came to realize — and I really hate this tired cliché — that life doesn’t get any better than this.

 

There were many ways that I could’ve ended Batman Week. I was planning on doing a Read More About It segment, like I usually do. Then I thought about doing a Batman vs. Batman vs. Batman vs. Batman vs. Batman post comparing the various actors who’ve played the role (because my recent Spider-Man vs. Spider-Man post generated a lot of hits).

But then some idiot shot up a theater in Colorado.

Now all that foolishness seems, well, foolish. I don’t have anything profound to say about current events. I don’t have any clever analysis. There are plenty of blowhards out there who will take care of that.

Burton’s “Batman” has taken a backseat in recent years to Christopher Nolan’s more grim-and-gritty version of the story. Nolan’s trilogy is the better effort in many respects, but I’ll always have a soft spot for that late night with my young wife and the Dark Knight.

The Pointless, Worthless List for 07.19.12

Batman Movies In Order Of Greatness

1. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm

2. Batman (1989)

3. Batman Begins

4. The Dark Knight

5. The Dark Knight Rises

6. Batman Returns

7. Batman (1966)

8. Batman Forever

9. Batman and Robin

The Pointless, Worthless List for 07.18.12

Top 10 Bat-Villains

1. The Riddler

2. Catwoman

3. The Joker

4. The Penguin

5. Two-Face

6. Ra’s Al Ghul

7. Mr. Freeze

8. Poison Ivy

9. Harley Quinn

10. Killer Croc

The Bat-Answers

Put down your bat-pencils. Let’s check your work.

1. What is NOT a nickname for Batman

(e) The Man in Black

2. Bob Kane is credited as the creator of Batman. Who is generally considered the character’s uncredited co-creator?

(a) Bill Finger

3. Some days you just can’t get rid of

(b) a bomb

4. Whom of the following has NOT been Robin

(c) Rick Jones

5. List these bat-villains in order of their debut appearance

(a) Joker and Catwoman (both debut in Batman 1, 1940) (d) Penguin (1941) (e) Two-Face (1942) (c) Riddler (1948) (f) Mr. Freeze (1959) (g) Poison Ivy (1966) (h) Bane (1993)

6. False: While “Batman never uses a gun” has been his motto for decades, Batman carried a gun in his first few appearances.

7. Riddle Me This: There are three men in a boat with four cigarettes but no matches. How do they manage to smoke?

They threw one cigarette overboard to make the boat a cigarette lighter.

8. Ra’s al Ghul’s criminal organization is known as

(c) The League of Assassins, called The League of Shadows in Batman Begins

9. Damian Wayne is the son of Bruce Wayne and

(a) Talia Al Ghul, daughter of Ra’s

10. Which actress has NOT played Catwoman

(f) Jessica Alba

11. Which actor has NOT played Batman

(b) Phillip Seymour Hoffman

12. The Joker put Batgirl in a wheelchair for several years (she recently got better) in the story

(a) The Killing Joke

13. The Joker’s girlfriend (at least in her mind) is

(c) Harley Quinn

14. True/False: Batman is a member of The Avengers

False. Batman is in the Justice League. How many times must we go through this?

15. Riddle me this, riddle me that…

(d) Who’s afraid of the big, bad bat?

16. The Penguin owns a nightclub called

(b) The Iceberg Lounge

17. True. The first superhero crossover between Marvel and DC was Superman/Spider-Man. The second was Batman/HULK.

18. What is the name of Batman’s dog?

(b) Ace-The Bat Hound

19. What is the name of Batman’s cat?

(d) Batman doesn’t have a cat. He does have a thing for Catwoman.

20. Who has NOT adopted the identity of Batman

(d) Damian Wayne

Score

20-16: You may borrow the keys to the Batmobile

15-10: Hardly worthy of the World’s Greatest Detective

9-5: You are no threat to The Riddler

4-0: If you were a bat-villain, you’d be Tweedledum