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Posts Tagged ‘Batman’

The Worst Jobs In The Multiverse #3: Gotham City Store Clerk

March 20th, 2013 No comments

Life is rough for those who work retail in Gotham City. One moment you’re waiting on a customer, the next moment you’re pinned to the ceiling by a giant umbrella while trained puffins steal the day’s receipts.

Things are even worse if your establishment happens to fit into the theme of one of Gotham’s many colorful crooks. Hands down, the absolute worst place to work is the Laughing Catfish Puzzle Store, 222 Iceberg Road, located between the Gotham Arboretum and the abandoned Wonderland Hat Factory. Turn left at the Arkham Asylum exit, you can’t miss it.

Needs More Batman

January 15th, 2013 No comments

I was in no rush to watch The Dark Knight Rises, the allegedly final film in director Christopher Nolan’s triptych about everyone’s favorite rodent-themed superhero, Mighty Mouse Batman. I was already predisposed against it; I had begun to resent the overrated previous installment, Dark Knight: The Jokering. Then the shootings in Aurora–sadly, only the second most horrific mass killing in America last year–dulled whatever remaining interest I’d had.

However, as I’ve previously stated, I prefer to bitch about things with authority. So last Saturday I spun a Blu-Ray of Rises. And…

I kinda liked it. It wasn’t the best Batman movie ever, but it didn’t actively annoy me either.

The main beef I had with it was its relative lack of Batman. There are thousands of movies I can watch that don’t have Batman in them, so I prefer my Batman films to feature frequent appearances by Batman. Instead, there were long, Batman-free stretches which found Bruce Wayne too mopey to Batman it up.

The previous installment ended with Batman taking the rap for the death of Harvey Dent, the crime-busting district attorney who, unbeknownst to Gotham City, had been transformed into the villainous Two-Face. This deception was deemed necessary to prevent undoing the progress Dent had made against organized crime.

Rises begins eight years later, with the gangs brought low under draconian sentencing laws and Batman fading into legend. Gotham is by no means crime-free, but people seem content with the current state of low-level thuggery.

While Bruce Wayne’s sacrifice made a certain amount of sense as I was watching the film, something nagged at me afterward. Okay, I can see that Batman would see great value in eliminating organized crime. Yet the mobs had nothing to do with the traumatic event that spurred his lifelong crusade: his parents’ murder at the hands of a garden-variety mugger. It struck me as out-of-character for Bruce to allow street-level crime to continue in his self-imposed exile.

Rises piles on the villains. As with The Dark Knight, there are three* of them: Catwoman, Bane and a third whose reveal is meant to be a surprise but is pretty easy to guess if you’re more than passingly familiar with Batman’s comic book history.

Of them, Catwoman was the one I enjoyed the most, and not only because Anne Hathaway in skin-tight leather trips at least a couple of my triggers. She was the only one who seemed to be having fun being bad. Happily, Rises expunges the “licked back to life by cats” backstory from Catwoman’s last two movie appearances, and gets back to the original idea of a cat burglar who shares a mutual attraction with Batman.

Bane is a character I’ve greatly disliked since his first appearance. He was everything that I hated about ’90s comics: an impossibly-muscled, ‘roid-raging brute with a badass name. (Also an inexplicable resemblance to a Mexican wrestler. Not that I have anything against luchadores.) He improbably managed to defeat Batman despite a glaringly obvious vulnerable spot that the World’s Greatest Detective failed to notice for the editorially-mandated reason that the “Knightfall” storyline had another forty-skillion issues to run.

Anyhow, the Rises version of Bane does away with the super-steroid tube and the wrestling get-up. Which, honestly, are the only visually interesting things about the character. Instead, he gets a weird breath mask that (somehow) helps him manage his constant pain…and also makes him difficult to understand. (I didn’t have as much trouble with this as did theatergoers; watching it at home without background noise helped.) Bane also gets a fur coat, so there’s that. Overall, he’s effective enough as a generic terrorist baddie, as well as a bait-and-switch for the actual mastermind.

I was confused by the part in which Bane left the broken Bruce Wayne in prison–ostensibly to rot while Gotham burns–but in the care of two guys who made it their personal mission to rehabilitate him and motivate him to climb out of the pit. Did they not get the memo? I was waiting for one of them to turn out to be a disguised Michael Caine, but it was not to be.

I did enjoy the excesses of Bane’s inverted version of Gotham, particularly the kangaroo court presided over by Jonathan Crane (aka the Scarecrow) perched atop an enormous, improvised judge’s bench.

The film’s conclusion puts a coda on the Caped Crusader’s career. In the context of the trilogy’s overall story arc, this works well enough. It does, however, strike a note of dissonance in that it suggests that Batman’s eternal quest for justice is something he can take or leave.

In the end, I generally enjoyed The Dark Knight Rises, yet it’s just not what I’m looking for in a Batman film. As a longtime fan of DC Comics’ stable of characters, I find it repeatedly frustrating that I have to look to the Marvel Comics adaptations for the fun and adventure I want when I plunk down my money for a superhero flick.

*Or five, if you count the out-of-costume cameo by the Scarecrow and the surprisingly knowledgeable hallucination of Ra’s Al Ghul. Seriously, if Bruce is imagining Ra’s, how is it that he knows things that Bruce doesn’t?

Categories: Movies Tags: ,

Jaded And Confused

July 19th, 2012 No comments

As 48 comes rushing up at me, I find myself pondering who I’ve become. What happened to the geeky film fan who hungrily devoured every sci-fi confection? Who rarely met a fantasy flick he couldn’t give the benefit of the doubt? I mean, I bought a ticket to Gremlins 2. Tomb Raider. Atlantis: The Lost Empire. Escape from L.A. For crap’s sake, I willingly paid to see Wing Commander. Wing Commander.

Now it’s 2012, a full 13 years A.W.C. (After Wing Commander). A new Spider-Man movie has been out for two full weeks. I haven’t seen it. A Batman joint premieres tonight at midnight. I could barely care less.

I know that it’s not because I’ve matured. I spent much of last weekend playing Lego Batman 2. A videogame based on a toy based on a comic book.

Three guesses which Batman I prefer.

How is it that I’ve become so blasé about these big-budget popcorn flicks? Have I really become…discerning?

Granted that I’m pretty sick of hearing about The Dark Knight Rises. I thought the previous film was vastly overrated, an ugly, preposterous bagatelle masquerading as a Important Treatise on Post-9/11 America. I truly don’t understand why it is that we expect or even desire that a story about a billionaire who buys mammal-themed crimebusting gear and punches evil clowns in the face should be serious and socially relevant.

And as much as I want to see Anne Hathaway slink around in a Julie Newmar catsuit, her fellow in villainy Bane is my least favorite member of Batman’s rogues roster. He’s everything that sucked about ’90s comic books in one ‘roid raging luchador.

I can’t say that I won’t go at some point. If nothing else, I do at least like to be able to complain with authority. But I do wonder about the guy who paid good money for Superman IV and Batman & Robin. What ever happened to him?

Categories: Movies Tags:

So You Think You Can Dance, Batman?

June 16th, 2010 No comments

Categories: Weird Tags: , ,

Ask A Batman

April 26th, 2009 No comments

He IS the night. Recently I had the chance to sit down with a very special guest. You may know him as the Caped Crusader, the Darknight Detective, or even That Guy With The Rubber Nipples.

Under his watchful eye, Gotham City has seen a 14% decrease in crime and a 82% increase in giant, working props.

I met with him in his underground, guano-filled lair. I present to you The Batman.

Me: So, The Batman–

Batman: It’s just Batman. Does anyone call you The David?

Me: Well, my wife…

Batman: Anyhow, it’s a pleasure to talk to you, blah, blah, blah.

Me: Okay. First question. Why a bat?

Batman: Ah, I get asked that a lot. You see, it’s all about striking fear into the hearts of the underworld.

Me: Criminals can be a superstitious and cowardly lot.

Batman: Mostly they’re afraid that I’ll get caught in their hair.

Me: Can you respond to the charge that your presence in Gotham has only encouraged crooks to correspondingly ramp up their own outsized personas? I mean, you’ve got Alice in Wonderland-themed villains, even a guy who commits signal-based crimes. I mean, really, signals?

Batman: I can’t explain that one myself. I’m like, “Oooo, don’t hit me with that stop sign!”

But, to answer your question, I think it helps keep them occupied. All that time spent sewing costumes and building huge, papier-mâché birds is less time spent robbing and murdering.

Me: Fair enough. Switching gears, you are regularly seen in the company of a young boy–

Batman: Don’t. Even. Go. There.

Me: No, no, no. I’m just referring to the suggestion that the reason you dress that child in a bright, primary-colored leotard is to draw gunfire away from yourself.

Batman: Look, the kid’s a professional. He’s a natural athlete. That “leotard” is a carbon-fiber and Kevlar armored suit, augmented by my own Bat-technology.

Me: But aren’t you on your third or fourth Robin?

Batman: Hrm. Next question.

The Batmug.Me: Okay. Harley Quinn or Poison Ivy?

Batman: What do–

Me: You know what I mean.

Batman: Easy choice. Crazy clown girl or kill-you-with-her-poisoned-touch girl? Big Top every time, baby.

Besides, I’m more of a Catwoman man. There was this one time; she had me lashed down with that double-length cat-o’-nine-tails she carries–

Me: Too much information.

Batman: Sorry. Time for one final question.

Me: Boxers or briefs?

Batman: Are you kidding me? Dude, you’re looking at them right now.

Geek Round-Up

February 4th, 2009 No comments

Once again, I have to give props to the producers of CBS’ The Big Bang Theory. Not only did Monday’s episode feature Sheldon sporting a nifty t-shirt festooned with silhouettes of Godzilla, Rodan, Mothra and King Ghidorah, but a later scene had the whole gang sitting down over a game of Talisman. I don’t think that they ever mentioned it by name, but the board was recognizable and the dialogue even made reference to specific elements of the game. It would’ve been easy to have them playing D&D (or a generic D&D knock-off), but it’s clear that someone there really knows their geeks.

I’m totally loving the version of Aquaman that appears on The Brave and the Bold. In recent years, Aquaman’s often been portrayed as a pissed-off, surface-dweller-hating Sub-Mariner clone, but the new cartoon series casts him as a hilarious braggart who loves to give exciting names to his many daring adventures. Last Friday’s episode involved him and the Atom shrinking down to enter Batman’s bloodstream and combat a virus. Never mind that they simply swam around without so much as a rebreather. (As my friend Dave Lartigue points out, blood cells carry OXYGEN, duh.) At one point, Aquaman decided to use his telepathic fish-summoning power, and sure enough, a cell answered the call. It was vaguely horse-shaped. It even whinnied. And Aquaman promptly dubbed his new steed “Platelet,” much to the Atom’s chagrin, as it was clearly a lymphocyte. It’s funny stuff, and it’s still online.

Another news item: this morning a guy in Colorado Spring held up two convenience stores. With a Klingon bat’leth.

Batman Digs This Day

January 5th, 2009 No comments

It’s a good time to be a fan of old-school DC superheroes. In addition to the torrent of Showcase Presents reprint volumes, there’s also this:

Bat-Manga is a collection of Batman ephemera produced when the ’60s live-action series was introduced to Japan. While it includes many arresting candy and toy package illustrations–including some curiously ugly depictions of Robin the Boy Wonder–the real prize is the assortment of rare comics. I’m by no means a manga fan, but the chance to read Batman filtered through the insane lens of Speed Racer-era Japanese pop culture was too much for me for pass up. Forget about the Joker and Two-Face, this book features villains such as Professor Gorilla and Lord Death Man, and that’s at least three flavors of awesome.

“Three flavors of awesome” also describes Batman: The Brave and the Bold, which clocked in with another new episode last Friday, “The Day of the Dark Knight.” It wasn’t enough to feature the Silver Age versions of Bats and Green Arrow squaring off against Jack Kirby’s Etrigan the Demon, no sir. The teaser sequence had the Caped Crusader on Oa, the home planet of the Guardians of the Universe, and included cameo appearances from pretty much every Silver and Bronze Age alien Green Lantern…including Ch’p, the squirrel Green Lantern! But even that’s not the reason this episode maxed out the Awesometer.

Nope, that was the scene that I screen-capped above, in which Batman and Green Arrow foiled a mass prison break of what appeared to be just about every villain from the ’60s live-action Batman series. You can see the Mad Hatter (a comics villain that was featured prominently on the TV show) getting clocked by a Batarang above, but right behind him is the Minstrel, the Bookworm and Clock King. Other recognizable faces in the scene were Egghead, King Tut, False Face, the Siren, and Louis the Lilac!

The entire episode is available online for a few days. Check it out!

No, Seriously…Kite-Man

December 15th, 2008 No comments

I have been remiss in failing to mention Batman: The Brave and the Bold, an animated series airing Friday evenings on Cartoon Network. I’ve been enjoying the heck out of it.

The original Brave and the Bold comic book started as one of DC’s generic titles, a catch-all that featured everyone from the Viking Prince to the Suicide Squad. Eventually, it became a Batman team-up book, and that’s the inspiration for its cartoon namesake.

It emulates the ’60s comics in other ways as well. Gone is the grim avenger of the night that’s become the default setting for Batman. Here, Bats is quick with a quip, and prone to adventures involving gorillas and dinosaurs.

It’s just fun, with a jazzy score, a light tone and a love for the odder denizens of the DC Universe. Each episode opens with a teaser sequence unconnected with the main story, in which Batman and a guest hero tackle obscure villains such as Clock King, Gentleman Ghost and the Sportsmaster.

My favorite villainous cameo so far occurred during Batman’s team-up with Plastic Man. In a flashback dealing with Plas’ early days as a petty crook, they recast him as a henchman of Kite-Man. I mean, really, Kite-Man? The criminal whose exploits involve strapping himself to a kite? I get the feeling the show’s writers are having a contest to see which of them can include the silliest old-school bad guy. Who’s next? The Ten-Eyed Man? Doctor Double X? Cary Bates?

Next On The CW…Snapper Carr: The Early Years

October 1st, 2008 No comments

Smallville is a show that I’ve watched more or less religiously for the past seven years, even though I know it’s only so-so at best. While Emo Clark Kent (“Waaah, I have the powers of a god! I’m so sad!”) and the bottomless well of self-involvement that was Lana Lang have gotten on my nerves, the many nods to Superman and DC Comics lore have been enough to keep me around. (The actresses who play Chloe Sullivan and Lois Lane are also an inducement, I’ll admit.)

The producers of Smallville have attempted a couple of other superhero-inspired shows. One was an “Aquaman” pilot that failed, even though it was alleged to be pretty good. The other was Birds of Prey, a deservedly short-lived series which somehow managed to squander the concept of three sexy female superheroes fighting crime in Gotham City.

Today, it was announced that they’ve got a new idea in the hopper: The Graysons, a show which would, no joke, chronicle the life of Dick Grayson before he became Batman’s partner Robin.

Oooookay.

Smallville exhibits some dramatic deficiencies, yet it largely works because Superman has such a rich mythology. While the story of “Superman when he was a boy” was officially expunged from DC Comics back in the ’80s as part of the infamous Crisis on Infinite Earths, bits of it are still floating around in the public’s pop culture consciousness.

But there is no “Robin when he was a boy” story. Or rather, the story of Robin as a boy is the story of Robin, the Boy Wonder. Before Batman, Dick Grayson wasn’t a superhero in training. He wasn’t coming to grips with his powers, because he doesn’t have any. He was a happy circus acrobat whose circus acrobat parents just happened to get on the bad side of some gangsters. His tale doesn’t begin until Batman enters the frame.

Sure, I realize that the creators of The Graysons will take a lot of liberties with the character, just as they have with Superman. My contention is that there’s very little on which to build. I suspect that what they really wanted to do was “The Young Bruce Wayne Adventures,” but the success of the Batman films scotched that idea. They see Robin, the boy Boy Wonder as the next best thing. Me, I’d rather see their take on Batgirl. Better yet, how about Ace the Bat-Hound?

Don’t Be Too Proud Of This Technological Terror You’ve Constructed

September 23rd, 2008 No comments

“Doctor, I’m quite certain this isn’t my mum’s flat.”
“Welllll…perhaps she’s gotten herself a new boyfriend.”

Coming in 2011 from Lucasfilm: Indiana Jones and the Star of Death!

“Today Gotham City, tomorrow…Mos Eisley!”

“Smeagol, are you sure this is the path into Mordor?”