Just in time for the release of Doctor Strange, DC is touting their wares with new trailers for The Lego Batman Movie and Wonder Woman! The Wonder Woman trailers continue to worry me, but The Lego Batman Movie keeps looking more and more fantastic each time!
The latest trailer sets up more of the story and offers the first real footage of Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson), Joker (Zach Galifianakis), and mask free Bruce Wayne (Will Arnett, mask or no mask). It offers more action, as well as more lonely Batman living the mundane life between acts of heroism.
Check out the trailer now, but stay for the Original Screengrabs I made for you!
I included some notes on the Screengrabs, in case you missed something.
Now that the DC Extended Universe has given us a new version of Batman and Gotham, it’s time to break out some new characters in celebration! It has already been announced that Joe Magliano (True Blood, Magic Mike) will be playing the mercenary Deathstroke in The Batman, Batman’s 1st solo outing in the DCEU, with Ben Affleck writing, directing, and starring as Bruce Wayne/Batman. Deathstroke is a decent choice, but he’s not on my list of wants, as Batman has perhaps the most extensive Rogue’s Gallery of any character (comics or otherwise) and I feel there are plenty of stronger characters that have been ignored by the Batman films up to this point.
Yes, I would love to see better versions of The Riddler, Poison Ivy, and Penguin, and I would welcome new versions of Harvey Dent/Two-Face and Scarecrow, but here are are the 1st two of five Batman villains that we have yet to see on the silver screen that would mesh perfectly with the current DCEU. Though you wouldn’t want to throw more than one of my choices into The Batman, adding just one of these overlooked villains would compliment Deathstroke in interesting ways.
I only have the space to cover two of my five choices this post, as The Court of Owls requires more explanation than the rest; being the only villains on the list that have only been a part of the Rogues Gallery for 5 years.
Speaking of which:
5. The Court Of OwlsThe Court of Owls were introduced as one of the first villains in 2011’s premiere of DC Comics’ “Reboot,” The New 52. Created by writer Scott Snyder (not Zack!) and artist Greg Capullo, the men behind nearly all issues of the incredible New 52 run of ‘Batman,’ The Court of Owls are an organized crime group and secret society the likes of which Batman has never faced. Organized crime is nothing new in Gotham, but the Court has secretly controlled Gotham since Colonial times. Made up of Gotham’s oldest and wealthiest families, they have used money and political power to shape Gotham to their liking, having an even greater influence on the city than the legacy of the Waynes. Completely unknown to Gotham’s great protector Batman and his alter ego Bruce Wayne who seeks to improve his city with his fortune, they have bases and hideouts based all over the city, even in Wayne structures. Their existence is but a fairy tale to even Bruce, living on mainly though a nursery rhyme:
Beware the Court of Owls, that watches all the time, Ruling Gotham from a shadowed perch, behind granite and lime. They watch you at your hearth, they watch you in your bed. Speak not a whispered word about them, or they’ll send the Talon for your head.
Talons are their deadly assassins, basically an army of undead soldiers selected by the Court of Owls over the centuries, kept in a “deep sleep” until needed. When called upon, this army is dangerous indeed, not stopped by bullets, knives, or most of Batman’s tricks, because… well… I did say they were, “basically undead.”
I would want to see the Court of Owls used as a sort of secret cult (which it is), controlling Gotham right below Batman’s nose. When Batman and/or Bruce Wayne push too hard to improve Gotham, the Court would push back, declaring war on both sides of Batman’s psyche. I suggest ditching the Talons all together. After all, with the Court secretly calling all the shots, they could make Hell for Batman and Bruce without an army, and it makes perfect sense for them to hire or trick Deathstroke. Deathstroke could even be revealed as the movie version of a Talon; stripping away the supernatural elements and making him their personal solider.
4. ClayfaceUnlike the Court of Owls, Clayface has been a Batman mainstay for over 50 years. In that span of time, there have been many versions Clayface, but my favorite representation was how he was interpreted for Batman: The Animated Series in the 90’s. Without going into every version of the character, Basil Karlo is a well known actor (often presented as washed up or recently fired) who undergoes an experiment/accident that leaves him in the form of a giant mud monster. The powers that come with such a transformation give him super-strength and the ability to shape-shift to impersonate anyone; Batman’s friends and foes, or even Bruce Wayne himself!
Unlike Joker or Two-Face, Clayface has no real personal vendetta against Batman, aside from being thrown into Arkham by the Caped Crusader (like everyone else). He’s also not pure evil. Though different versions of the character often turn to crime before his transformation, Clayface is involved with pettier crimes like robbing a bank or getting revenge against those who have wronged him in the Movie Business.Clayface could be used a number of different ways with Deathstroke. He could pose as a fake Bruce Wayne after Deathstroke takes Batman out of the picture (for a time, Batman obviously comes back and wins in the end). He could be a secondary villain who torments Batman between Deathsroke attacks, or even serve as the villain Batman fights in the opening act, before Deathstroke is on the scene. He could even be an ally to Batman, like in this year’s run of Detective Comics following the latest “Soft Reboot,” Rebirth, becoming Bruce Wayne or Batman to serve as a false target for Deathstroke. The possibilities are nearly endless when the people Clayface can become are.
Come back soon for my top 3 picks for who should appear in either the DCEU or even The Batman alongside Deathstroke. The best is yet to come!
I’ve seen Batman: The Killing Joke (obviously, that’s why you’re here!), the WB Animation adaptation of the classic graphic novel by masterminds Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons! It’s… a mixed bag. The original story you know and love (or should read so that you know and love it) is there, but it’s surrounded by Batgirl filler… including a really, really, weird choice. This adaption of Killing Joke also lacks the unique visuals from the book or more distinct animation that made adaptations of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns and Batman: Year One so successful.
NO SPOILERS except where noted!
The Killing Joke, originally printed in 1988, has become the defining Joker story. It tells a possible origin of the Joker, that many have taken as gospel. Killing Joke is also incredibly dark and disturbing in subject manner, leading to the first animated DC film that is Rated R! Maybe that expectation is why this adaptation just can’t do the original justice. I wasn’t expecting an animated adaptation as great as the source material: Year One, though accurate, is only good (the comic is great!) while The Dark Knight Returns film feels neutered compared to Frank Miller’s startling original work.
Expectations were heightened still, as Killing Joke has something Year One and Dark Knight Returns lack; the original voice actors that defined Batman: The Animated Series, Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill (who also played Luke Skywalker… du’h!). Hamill is by far my favorite Joker in any medium, while Conroy does bring a fun, unique, almost goofy interpretation of Bruce Wayne, balanced with a great “Bat Voice” (though this movie, like the comic, has no Bruce Wayne). And both actors are still great! It is though, a little silly hearing Conroy’s version of “Swear to me!” after it appeared in Batman Begins. It’s almost a shame when their characters aren’t on screen, and Joke and Batman are missing in action… a lot, due to the Batgirl story-line that was added so it was long enough to become a feature film (though it’s still on the short side).This added story is half the problem with The Killing Joke, as it is mundane, yet surprisingly odd and perhaps questionable. I have nothing against Batgirl (Tara Strong), but watching what is basically a twenty-minute episode of her generic adventure taking down a mobster (it doesn’t always need to be a Super Villain, but it helps) is like an unwelcome opening act for the band you really came to see. Though peppered with Batman, the Joker is no where to be found until after over 20 minutes in to a 76 minute film that is supposed to be about him! Knowing who Batgirl is does add emotional context to the story and that’s why a whole act of Batgirl was added. I don’t believe the original book ever addresses the fact that Barbara Gordon is Batgirl in addition to Commissioner Gordon’s (Ray Wise) daughter. I’m not saying Warner Animation shouldn’t make a Batgirl movie, I’m just saying it takes away from a story that is fundamentally just about Batman and The Joker at each other’s throats.
The prologue doesn’t necessarily take away from the film too much, except for one scene that completely baffles and slightly disturbs me as a Batman fan. Here’s the BATGIRLSPOILER AHEAD moment. Batman and Batgirl have sex, on a rooftop, and it creates sexual tension between them as Barabara (sort of) explains to her token Gay co-worker. What was that first part?!?! Batman and Batgirl have sex? Yes! I don’t know if it has ever happened in the comic (there are 76 years of Batman stories) but Batgirl and Batman having sex feels… creepy and wrong. Though he is not a father figure to her like Robin – Jim Gordon, her biological father is still alive and plays prominently into the story – and she is not as young as Robin, it seems really rape-y of Batman to have sex with one of his proteges. Plus, what would Gordon think if he found out?! Uh-Oh! And isn’t she with Nightwing/Dick Grayson at some point in comics… and/or Red Robin/Tim Drake? What will the Robins think?! SPOILERS OVER!Besides the Batgirl story with that controversial choice, the rest of the film is a pretty straight adaptation of the comic with great leads, yet unappealing animation that does not give Dave Gibbon’s artwork justice. While Dark Knight Returns and Batman: Year One imitate the style of the original artwork, Killing Joke is simplified into an update of Bruce Tim’s vision from The Animated Series, with a slightly more modern and higher quality look with just a hint of what the comic’s original art. It’s especially noticeable during the flashbacks to Joker’s origin which were originally in black and white with vivid red items in every panel. The red in the film version is far too muted and it makes a big difference. Also lost are the mirror images that were used to transition between panels set in the past and present. In short, Killing Joke should have looked a lot better!
In Killing Joke‘s defense, the story and themes are timeless, so it’s worth a viewing for someone who appreciates a good Batman story but hasn’t read the comic. Hell, Nolan lifted Joker’s mission to drive a Batman alley mad/drag him down to his level for his 2nd Batman film, The Dark Knight.
If you need a new Batman story to see, give Batman: The Killing Joke a chance. If you love the graphic novel and want to see it done justice… skip it. Either way, that one choice they make is really, really creepy.
Producers Chris Miller and Phil Lord promised The Lego Batman Movie “is chock full of stuff for Batman aficionados. It is just a 90-minute Easter egg.” The trailer certainly confirms this statement as it is full of Batman references of all types, from the ridiculous versions of the character that exist due to action figures and strange comic story lines to every film iteration of the character. Watch the trailer now!
“Bruce Wayne Lives In Batman’s Attic.” Love it. Not just because it’s hilarious, but because that exact idea is key to a strong Batman interpretation. The Batman is real, Bruce Wayne is the mask.
That sort of detail confirms that though in Lego form, this version of a Batman film is still more than welcome, approaching the character in a way we’ve never seen on the big screen; through humor. In an age where Batman is at his darkest in the films (though lightening up a bit in Justice League), I cannot wait to see my favorite comedic actor, Will Arnett, voice Batman/Bruce Wayne in this spin-off from the The Lego Movie. Joining Arnett is his Arrested Development co-star, Michael Cera as Robin, bringing a refreshing combination of more wide-eyed excitement and innocence than the traditional Dick Grayson. Ralph Fiennes is the perfect sarcastic Alfred (though I love what the DCEU has going with Jeremy Irons), and though we have yet to hear dialog, Zach Galifianakis has the Joker laugh down.
Just like Marvel Studios’ Netflix Presentation, DC Entertainment didn’t just bring a trailer for their next movie, Suicide Squad, to San Diego Comic Con, they also brought a teaser and poster for their movie after that, Wonder Woman… AND even a trailer and official image for their own super team team up film, Justice League! The Justice League trailer, unlike Netflix’s The Defenders Series “teaser,” actually has new footage… a lot of it!
There’s defiantly one theme I’ve noticed with all the trailers; each movie going forward is beginning to feel a lot more like Marvel than previous DCEU films, Man of Steel and Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice.Let’s build up to the most exciting trailer shall we? (Justice League, duh!). So we’ll start with Suicide Squad, a movie for which we have many trailers already, though the new one still offers quite a bit of new footage. While not going as far as the Batman V Superman trailer that spoiled Doomsday, the villain is revealed more than before in this latest trailer, and there are a lot of new scenes that will wet your appetite. If you are already at footage overload, don’t feel too bad about skipping the San Diego Comic Con 2016 Suicide Squad trailer. The film may feel fresher on August 5th without it.
New action, extended dialog scenes among the Squad with an emphasis on Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) as well, and more Joker (Jared Leto) and Batman (Ben Affleck). Still a winning combination, though the music is the least inspired of the many trailers.
Up next we have the Poster AND first Teaser Trailer for 2017’s Wonder Woman! That’s the poster, obviously. Now here comes the trailer:
Wonder Woman looks like an interesting mix of Thor, a Jane Austin novel, Captain America: The First Avenger, and a Zack Snyder movie, even though it is being directed by Patty Jenkins. The Amazon scenes and costumes remind me of Thor‘s Asgard. The costumes and non-action scenes remind me of romance films based on Victorian era novels. The World War I elements are painfully First Avenger-esque, especially the emphasis on Wonder Woman’s shield. Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) uses her shield to dispatch a German Solider just like Cap, in a scene involving extreme slow motion action which gives it that Zack Snyder feel, as well as the muted colors in the overall tone of it’s look.
It’s slightly baffling why DC would use their chance to introduce Wonder Woman to make a film that looks so close to Captain America: The First Avenger; both being a World War period piece with a superhuman brandishing a round Shield.Wonder Woman does also get her trademark Lasso, but there’s no invisible jet! (Thank god for that). Chris Pine as Steve Trevor does bring more humor than in either BvS or the Suicide Squad trailer, especially compared to the continued stoic take on Wonder Woman herself. This lightness really does gives the trailer more of a Marvel feel than what DC has given us thus far. Which brings us to the most Marvel-y trailer of all, the 1st teaser for Justice League! The trailer focuses on Batman recruiting the Justice League as Bruce Wayne, always out of the suit, which is a very interesting choice. In fact, because Justice League is still being shot, we’re treated almost entirely to recruitment scenes without costumes or special effects, but it still looks great, despite being handled by Zack Snyder who ruined Batman V Superman.
Though you may recognize them all, the heroes featured above are Flash/Barry Allen (Ezra Miller), Superman/Clark Kent (Henry Cavill), Cyborg/ Victor Stone (Ray Fisher), Wonder Woman/Diana Prince, Batman/Bruce Wayne, and Aquaman/Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa). All appear in the trailer, except Superman, who most be “dead” during recruitment but will obviously return based on the above photo… and the fact that you can’t have the Justice League without Superman (but you can do it without Green Lantern, who has been a member forever)!
Justice League looks surprisingly good thus far, with even more humor than Wonder Woman or Suicide Squad, most of it coming from the Dark Knight himself, traditionally the least jokey character in comics (his nemesis makes up for his lack of humor). I like how the teaser plays with the difficulty of recruiting some, like Aquaman, while others like Barry Allen jump at the chance to join up because he needs friends… and is blown away he is actually meeting Batman! Again, it feels a lot like The Avengers, as it should, with great humor and hints at team dynamics that will likely include a little bit of friction/in-fighting at the beginning.
San Diego Comic Con 2016 is the gift that keeps on giving, worrying me a little with Wonder Woman, but restoring good will towards Justice League.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it’s a good time to be a Geek!
Best: Artistic Take on the Wayne MurderMy initial review was glowing when it came to the style in which Director Zack Snyder filmed the Wayne Murder. I don’t want to rehash my review too much, so let’s keep this brief.
The Wayne Murder has never been presented in such a visually stunning manner, from choices like breaking Martha Wayne’s Pearl Necklace with the hammer of the gun, to the overall color/look of the scene. And featuring Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Comedian in Snyder’s Watchmen) playing Thomas Wayne… well, that’s a slam dunk!
… if you have to show the damn scene again…
Worst: The Wayne Murder Happens Again… Again… AgainThe problem is that this scene never needed to be in the movie! We all know Jesus died on the Cross, Peter Parker let Uncle Ben get shot (basically), and Thomas and Martha Wayne died in Crime Alley following a showing of The Mark of Zorro.
And we don’t just see the scene at the beginning of BvS, oh no! Snyder cuts back to the retread of a retread of a retread of the scene later in the film to drive home a point (“Martha…”).
Warner Brothers, please don’t show us the death of the Lego Waynes in next year’s The Lego Batman Movie!
Best:Batman Superman (Finally) FightThe title promises one thing; Batman (Ben Affleck) will fight Superman (Henry Cavill), as ridiculous a premise as that sounds (A Man Vs a “God?”… okay… maybe the trailers and have covered that issue already).
Surprisingly, in a movie called Batman V Superman, the title players only physically fight once… and it’s not until the 3 rd act. While it was wise to save the climatic fight for what should have been the end of the movie (more on that later), I’m surprised there wasn’t a 2nd, less climatic clash earlier in the movie like every other superhero movie (likely even Captain America: Civil War). There was Batman’s “Knightmare” which doesn’t count because it was a dream(vision?) with Batman only fighting Superman’s Soldiers… before Superman ripped out his heart. The only other in costume encounter was the stern warning from Superman to Batman not to go to the Bat Signal when it was next turned on. The two heroes didn’t fight in that scene either. Sure, Superman crashed the Batmobile, but he did it by just standing there…By the time we do get to the long awaited fight it is as glorious as the trailer teased. In fact, it’s one of the more wonderful scenes in an otherwise surprisingly action-lite two and a half hour film. The visuals are still astounding (that Frank Miller inspired “Iron” Batsuit sure looks pretty in the rain) and the strategies The Dark Knight employs against The Man of Steel are entertaining; making you believe Batman really could beat Superman as a brilliant strategist… and with some weaponized Kryptonite gas… and spear!
It’s an extremely entertaining scene from the moment Superman lands to the final moment: “Martha.”
Worst: Why Batman and Superman FightBatman and Superman fighting over ideologies is enough! Writers Zack Snyder and Chris Terrio go overboard with unnecessary pressure pushing DC’s two biggest characters to brawl.
Bruce Wayne doesn’t trust Superman because the latter is all powerful. Clark Kent does not approve of the (murderous) Batman’s methods and “reign of terror.” Superman even warns Batman midway through the film that next time the Bat Signal is turned on he should stay home. So, when Batman prepares for battle and shines the Bat Signal in the sky to attract Superman’s attention, that should be enough!
Why does Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) have to kidnap Martha Kent and order Superman to kill the Bat?
Answer: He doesn’t. But none of Luthor’s plans make sense in Batman V Superman. His characters complete lack of logic is one of the most frustrating parts of the film.
Best: Battle of Metropolis I (Zod)Everyone’s least favorite part about Man of Steel has become my favorite scene in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. I also covered this scene in my initial review, so I will again be brief.
For the first time ever, we’re given Bruce Wayne: True Action Hero. He drives a Jeep between collapsing buildings, witnesses Wayne Finances collapse with his “family” inside, and runs into the 9/11-esque all-encompassing ash to help the surviving victims.
The destruction is on a whole new scale from Bruce Wayne’s point of view, both in the amount of destruction we witness and the bigger focus on loss of life. It’s really cool to see odd Spaceships without needing any sort of exposition as to why they are there and what each one does; Man of Steel covered that. Most importantly, this event is all Bruce Wayne really needed to decide to declare war on Superman.
Worst: Battle of Metropolis II (Doomsday)Just as boring and overblown as the Battle of Metropolis was at the end of Man of Steel (not to be confused with the Bruce Wayne’s POV version in BvS), the finale to Batman V Superman is so bad it is mostly responsible for making what could have been a great Batman film into a measly 6 out of 10.
Everything is wrong with this scene. Even the visuals take a massive dip from what is otherwise a beautiful film. Really, the movie is a 0 out of 10 following the actual fight between Batman and Superman, with the notable exception of the amazing Bat Combat we see in the Warehouse scene when Batman rescues Martha Kent.
Doomsday looks like an Orc. The landscape is simply fire… burning rubble everywhere with no discernible landmarks. Yet we’re assured multiple times by cutaways to the military that everywhere Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) fight Doomsday is uninhabited; a severe overreaction to the destructive finale of Man of Steel.Gone is the “realism” (as much as could be expected at least) present in Batman and Superman’s fight and other action scenes. Instead, we have characters like Wonder Woman launching themselves across the battlefield (it’s hard to tell how far when everything is on fire…) in what looks like a video game… or a half-assed scene tacked on an otherwise polished movie.
One of the scene’s biggest crimes? Not giving Batman anything to do but distract Doomsday and run, unlike the Avengers films which give even mortals like Hawkeye and Black Widow something to contribute. Sure, there’s the obligatory final moment when all three heroes must work in unison to kill Doomsday, not unlike the first Fantastic Four film (a comparison you do not want). Wonder Woman on the lasso, Superman with the Kryptonite Spear, and Batman’s last Kryptonite Gas bomb! VICTORY (Sort of…)
Awful final fight. Really ruins an otherwise decent film.
I can write about Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice for days. And I just might do so!
While I didn’t hate Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, I didn’t exactly love it, giving it a measly 6 out of 10 in my review (which is more generous than most). I did, however, love elements of the film, so I thought I’d cover the best of BvS, countering with the film’s worst elements for a nice and balanced 2nd look at the film.
Warning!Unlike my review, this post will contain SPOILERS!
In this edition I’ll cover the cast, from the title characters down to Alfred Pennyworth and other supporting characters.
Best: Batffleck & Bruce WayneWhile every review for Batman V Superman loves Gal Gadot’s take on Wonder Woman, nearly as many praise Ben Affleck for presenting what most are calling the best Batman we’ve ever seen on the silver screen. I would agree 100%; it is possible to have the best Batman in what is far from the best Batman movie.
Actors in the past have been great at Batman but less stellar at Bruce Wayne and vice versa. Ben Affleck didn’t just deliver the best Batman, but also the best Bruce Wayne (which is probably the more difficult of the two roles). This Batman may kill… and kill… and kill… but what else is new? Batman on the big screen has been a downright serial killer, from 1989’s Batman to even the Nolan films. The latter tried to make his “One Rule” a thematic element… while allowing Bats to kill all the same. BvS never apologizes for this choice; the version of Batman that Snyder and co-writer Chris Terrio choose to use is a grizzled vet who has fought crime in Gotham for over twenty years, destroying his patience and reducing his faith that “Men Are Good” in the process. If man is not good, why not murder baddies? (I do someday want a Batman movie where he doesn’t kill… for real).Batffleck is imposing in every way, from his stature (Affleck was partially picked because he was taller than Henry Cavill’s Superman) to his terrifying voice that uses a modulator in order to avoid Christian Bale’s worst Batman trait: The Bat Voice. He’s gigantic, with Thor/Captain America sized muscles that make every Batman actor before look scrawny, even Bale. This Batman’s fighting style is smooth, fast, yet brutal in a way that seems to emulate the amazing combat of the Arkham video games and capture the feel of the comics in a way that Batman movies never have. His training sequence looked mind-boggling difficult. And his aforementioned dark(er) outlook on life completes the package: one badass, brutal Bat. Meanwhile, Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne has more depth than any before. He’s not awkward like Michael Keaton or a half assed-cover story for his true Bat Identity like Christian Bale’s version. He’s charming when he needs to be, brooding like any good Bruce Wayne (but not too brooding, another poor choice made by Bale) and… a hero. Even when he’s not in the Batsuit, hidden under the curtain of night, Bruce Wayne is just as much an action hero as his alter-ego, from his heroics at the opening Battle of Metropolis to perusing the criminal underground to steal data from Luthor’s lead henchmen (you know, that Russian Dude).Long story short: Ben Affleck is the first actor to rock the roles of Batman AND Bruce Wayne.
Worst: Superman & Clark KentSuperman continues to disappoint, maintaining the weaknesses that made his character feel “off” in Man of Steel. In fact, Henry Cavill seems to have gotten worse at the role, making decisions that seem completely off the mark for the character, especially considering Superman is supposed to be less brooding and have more faith in humanity than Batman.Cavill’s worst offense? Clark Kent is downright cocky. While Cavill said in interviews that he felt that Christopher Reeve’s portrayal of Clark Kent was so downright clumsy that he would draw more attention to himself than is smart when you are a superhero by night (correction: in Goddamn daylight) who doesn’t bother to wear a mask. In an effort to fix what he sees as a problem the character has had, Cavill over compensates and completely misses the mark, making Clark Kent waaaay too cocky and not the humble man he should be when he’s not wearing (dull) red and blue.
It’s as though Cavill forgot to leave the cockiness of Napoleon Solo on the set of 2015’s The Man From U.N.C.L.E.
Best: The New Supporting Cast – Jeremy Irons, Jesse Eisenberg, Gal GadotBatman V Superman must have had a different casting director than Man of Steel because the difference in casts are night and day, day and night (Thanks, Lex luthor, for that).
Let’s start with the Batman Universe’s 2nd most featured character, Alfred Pennyworth, played by Jeremy Irons this go around. With an older Bruce Wayne/Batman than ever before, and the 1st big screen Alfred without White Hair, the age gap between the damaged boy and his butler (now, more of a guardian, mechanic, and even sidekick) has never been slimmer. And while Michael Caine made a fantastic Alfred who was far less conventional/clichéd than Micheal Gough in the two Tim Burton and two Joel Schumacher films, Jeremy Irons does it even better. He’s more hands on from designing/fixing up the helmet under Batman’s cowl (complete with voice modulator that even makes Alfred sound terrifying) to piloting the Batwing remotely during the warehouse fight.Again, while Michael Cane’s Alfred and Christian Bale’s Bruce Wayne had great chemistry, it doesn’t hold a candle to the relationship of Jeremy Iron’s Alfred and Affleck’s Bruce. They really feel like an old married couple who have been doing this crime fighting thing for 20 years, with Alfred no longer trying to talk Batman out of being Batman. But do not fear, he but is just as sarcastic about the whole situation as Caine. Though most people would disagree, I also found Jesse Eisenberg’s younger, unconventional Lex Luthor just as enjoyable as Skyfall/SPECTRE’s twenty-something Q; a real breath of fresh air. I love how he played the character, cocky at moments (like his introductory shot where he makes a basket 1st try), condescending (feeding a Military General a cherry Jolly Rancher or addressing Holly Hunter’s Senator Finch), awkward (stumbling through that speech at his Gala), and downright psychotic (Lois Lane was right!). Unlike the usual Genius-Billionaire-Rea- Estate-Mogul we are accustomed to, Eisenberg’s Luthor is not a stable man… at all. And it works!
It’s not Jesse Eisenberg’s fault that the script makes Luthor’s plans unfollowable. Finally, while I wasn’t as gaga for Gal Gadot’s Diana Prince/Wonder Woman as most, the character was a welcome addition to the film. Though I know little about the character, it seems like Gadot nailed it.
Worst: The Man of Steel Returning Cast – Amy Adams, Henry Lennix, Lawrence Fishburne, Kevin CostnerI hate to speak in absolutes, but NONE of the returning cast from Man of Steel brings anything interesting to the Batman V Superman. Maybe the reason isn’t a different casting director, but character fatigue (already) as we’ve seen all these cats in Man of Steel. Of course, it’s also possible (and very likely) that Luthor, Alfred, and Wonder Woman are just more complex characters than the following two dimensional place holders. Amy Adams may have been the victim of a bad script, but she didn’t save the role of Lois Lane like Jesse Eisenberg did with Lex Luthor. She’s the victim most the film (Superman saves her 3 times!) and her lack of investigative reporting skills make you wonder how she figured out Superman’s identity in the first film! How long does it take to track a bullet back to Lex Luthor and LexCorp, really? Worst of all, her performance doesn’t add any weight to Superman’s death at the end of the film. Somber Bruce Wayne and Diana Prince lingering the background carry more emotion than Clark Kent’s girl.Everyone else is also just so “Meh.” Henry Lennix is great on NBC’s The Blacklist, but is the world’s most boring Military General in Batman V Superman. Lawrence Fishburne plays Daily Planet Editor Perry White as though he has never read a Superman Comic, but once watched J.K. Simmons as Daily Bugle Editor J. Jonah Jameson in Spider-Man nearly 15 years ago and said, “I’ll do that!”
Worst of all is Kevin Costner who gets to appear as the figment a dream (in a movie full of them). A farmer telling a story about a farm incident that has little to do with the plot, unexplainably on the top of a mountain? This does seem to be a theme as there are a lot of stories/metaphors that don’t make any sense in BvS. The role is certainly a stretch (not) for Costner , who often plays farmers and doesn’t seem to realize he’s in a move in which someone invested $250 million dollars.Michael Shannon as Zod is actually the best cast member to return…and he’s just a corpse!
But that’s not all the Best and the Worst of Batman V Superman! Yes, we all know there is a lot to cover in the “Worst” department, but there is actually more in the “Best” column as well, I swear!
Note: This is a Spoiler Free! Review of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. If it wasn’t in the trailer (a disappointingly large amount was) or the 1st act, I won’t reference anything too directly. There are so many universe building moments and DC Easter Eggs for a Geek to pour over that I will likely cover in a follow up discussion full of spoilers in the coming days.
How many reviews have you read for Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice that were written by someone who has seen it twice? How many reviewers are self proclaimed amateur Batman Scholars? And yet, not so blindly obsessed with the Caped Crusader that he proclaims a ridiculous “20 out of 10! Best Movie Ever!” Well, soon you will have read one such review!
Batman V Superman is not the best superhero movie ever made, in fact, it doesn’t come close, not even cracking my top 10… or likely even top 20 Comic Book based films. Yet, it’s also far from the worse. Neither should be a surprise in today’s world where we have received 2-6 Superhero Films a year since 2002’s Spider-Man.
BvS is both better than I expected, yet still a bit of a visually beautiful mess. After all, Zack Snyder is at the helm; the controversial Director behind a horrible film (Sucker Punch), a fan favorite I hate (300), an incredibly average comic book film (Man of Steel), and another beautiful mess that I have a soft spot for (Watchman). Snyder continues to showcase the same weaknesses (plot, story pacing) and strengths (incredibly rich CGI visuals that truly brings comics to life). Luckily, Snyder has help from writer Chris Terrio who has written Academy Award nominated films like The Town, saving BvS from being the complete train-wreck it could have been.
The opening credits scene is a perfect sampling/representation of the film as a whole.
The movie opens with Martha and Thomas Wayne’s funeral (yes, we’ve seen this before), which flashes back to the Wayne Murder in Crime Alley (something we’ve more than any other Comic Book scene). I went to Batman V Superman with my best friend, a self proclaimed Superman fan, who has watched everything Batman with me from The Dark Knight films, to animated features like Batman: Year One and The Dark Knight Returns, and even TV’s Gotham, in addition to having read countless comics. More than most, this friend has a hatred for the Wayne Murder that pops up in all these stories, especially the once artistically genius choice to showcase Martha’s pearls crashing to the ground; that by this point has become just as repetitive a image as as young Bruce Wayne screaming under the spotlight of a street lamp.When we saw the funeral, and then the flashback to a family walking out of a Zorro film, yet again, we both sighed. Then something amazing happened… Zach Snyder actually presented the scene in a way we’ve never seen it before with an very creative and bold choice. Instead of Joe Chill (the man who murder’s Bruce Wayne’s parents) ripping the necklace off Martha’s neck, he slips his gun against her throat so that the gun’s hammer holds the necklace tight between her neck and the gun. When the gun fires, the hammer recoils, splitting the pearl necklace and dropping the pearls in a very visual pleasing, surprising, and brutal way.
The film as a whole (with one giant exception) offers great visual takes on heroes and action set pieces we’ve seen before (in one case, literally, but that in a later…), much like his Watchman film flawlessly captured what looked like actual panels from a comic book. It’s not just perfect CGI, it’s great choices including a visual tone that doesn’t just feel richer than Man of Steel‘s faded look, but also more true to a comic than Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy (visuals and a certain actor being the ONLY way the film tops the now sacred trilogy). The characters, costumes, settings, and action look fantastic from this new take on the “Pearl Scene” to the rained out battle between Superman with a fantastic rendering of the Batman “Battle” suit that’s even better than how Frank Miller was drew it in The Dark Knight Returns.Visually, things do fall apart in the grand finale, where you have a boring flaming backdrop (EVERYTHING is on fire!) and messily animated Heroes literally lunging/flying at each other over football stadium length for epic punches, even when said characters are not known for flying.
Back to the opening scene: though presented in a brand new brilliance, we’ve seen it all before… many, many times. So follows the rest of Batman V Superman; though we’ve never watched Batman fight Superman in live action, we’ve seen all the pieces before. Superman’s scenes don’t feel fresh, which isn’t a terrible crime as this film is direct sequel to Man of Steel. Though he’s never looked so good, we’ve seen Batman in a ridiculous amount of movies. Marvel has already stolen the magic of bringing multiple titans to the same battlefield, and the destruction of the finale may be over red burning ground instead of Man of Steel‘s grey rubble, but really, what’s the difference (besides the not subtle at all lines about how everywhere anyone fights in Gotham or Metropolis is “uninhabited”)?
The 2nd scene, though one of the best in the film (if not the best), is not just a repeated image like the death of the Waynes and the ever present Pearls, but a literal repeat of the Battle of Metropolis from Man of Steel, this time from Bruce Wayne’s (Ben Affleck) perspective. The scene is visceral and real with painful yet effective 9/11 imagery, from Bruce’s race to the Wayne Fiances skyscraper to the building’s collapse and the remaining, living victims. The destruction is more real and seems to be on an even larger scale when we are watching the laser vision of Zod and Superman (Henry Cavill) rip Wayne Fiances to pieces from a far, with the two “Gods” (really Aliens) just specks in a sky flying around giant ships exploding, destroying nearly everything.
It’s not just the visuals that make this stand-out scene so emotional, for the film’s other greatest strength is also essential in saving what could have been boring Batman/Bruce Wayne scenes in any other Batman actor’s hands. I’m of course referring to Ben Affleck, who is indeed the Batman AND Bruce Wayne we have always deserved (no actor has pulled off both sides of the coin so evenly). His brooding and anger are the only real thing in this film (because all those visuals I’ve been praising were manufactured in a computer).Quick props to Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor and Jeremy Irons as the latest Alfred Pennyworth for both not playing their roles conventionally, yet still delivering satisfying versions (especially Jesse Eisenberg!).
Back to the opening of the film: it’s a dream! And this film has an overabundance of dreams/possible visions, from Bruce’s apocalyptic “Knightmare” (get it?) of a world run by a heartless Superman, to Clark Kent seeing Pa Kent (Kevin Costner) in the mountains. These kind of scenes drive the story forward (and even begin to set up the greater universe including the Justice League) in a movie that feels surprisingly slow with so many characters packed in.
A great fear of mine going in was that, not unlike Watchmen (which also had soooo many characters and events to cover) or overstuffed semi-messes like Spider-Man or even Avengers: Age of Ultron, this film would feel rushed, trying to get to the big battle referenced in the title as quickly as possible with little thought and space given to the connective plot tissue.Quite the opposite is true, in fact. The movie is almost too slow, allowing the themes of what it means to be just a man in a God’s world and absolute power corrupting to breath for the 1st two acts. That is, before any theme or reason from earlier in the film is quickly forgotten in favor of “Smashy, Smashy, Punch Time” in the 3rd act.
Are there plot holes? God, yes, but I don’t want to go in so far as to spoil any plot points, nor am I trying to be “Honest Trailers” or “How It Should Have Ended.” Some plot holes and choices do make more sense as a comic fan as they are less of a stretch for someone who has read variations of these stories in the comics. Others are just dumbfounding, but even the Marvel films are guilty of that sin.
One thing The Avengers did pull off that BvS fails at, is giving Batman something to do when fighting a villain meant for the likes of the more powerful Superman and Wonder Woman. While armies of aliens or robots in the two Avengers films gave heroes with no powers (Hawkeye and Black Widow) or limited ones (Captain America) something to fight, Batman runs and stands around more than he fights in the grand finale, waiting for Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot, who is okay, but doesn’t shine) and Superman to do all the real fighting.
So, there you go! A review written by someone who had the chance to put the thoughts generated by not one, but two viewings of Batman V Superman down on (digital) paper.
Is this a Batman V Superman that rivals The Avengers? No. Is it a watchable film that actually makes you excited for the prospect of Justice League: Part One? Absolutely!
Last night during Fox’s Batman (Villains)-Centric TV show, Gotham, we were “treated” to the 1st Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice footage for the since the official trailer and the more expansive Comic-Con sizzle reel.Rather than an actual trailer, which will follow tomorrow on Jimmy Kimmel Live (as the trailer for Captain America: Civil War did last week) this Wednesday the 2nd of December, Gotham fans were offered an odd clip that gives some hope that Ben Affleck will crush it as Batman / Bruce Wayne, but also raises serious issues about Superman… and whether or not Batffleck wears black eye makeup of not.
First, the “TV Spot” (It’s really a clip…):
Both actors, Affleck as The Dark Knight and Henry Cavill as The Man of Steel are both looking pretty intense in this short teaser; some may use the clip as evidence that Superman has gotten too dark and intense, not at all resembling the Superman of Action Comics. I’ve always been a fan of his casting, and Affleck still seems perfect as The Caped Crusader and Gotham’s #1 Playboy Billionaire, bringing an intense rage with nuances cementing him as the incredible actor he can be. I almost feel sorry for Cavill having to try to out act the very seasoned Affleck, especially caught in a scene that is sooo not Superman.Superman’s anger and apparent army are one riddle this trailer offers… Is Supes under Lex Luthor’s (Jesse Eisenberg) control (we get that same look of anger as he looks up at Luthor after Lex rests his hand over him in the Comic-Con trailer)? Did Batman accidentally lead to the death of a loved one like Lois Lane (Amy Adams)? Or is Superman just really, really, angry?Screengabs from the Comic-Con Trailer. He looks angry there too!
Whatever the case may be, Superman removes Batman’s mask, leading to an even larger question… where’d that classic Batman black eye makeup dissipate to in seconds?
In order to reproduce the look of the Iris-less white eyes of Batman as he is drawn, all the big screen Batmans have worn black eye makeup under their cowl from Michael Keaton to Christian Bale. It looks like Ben Affleck has it one too… but OOPS! Then it’s gone.Definitely some black eye makeup above…Ta-Da! It’s…. Gone! Just super intense… and pissed… Ben Affleck!
Maybe it’s a trick of the mask!
Hopefully tomorrow’s new trailer puts a few things into perspective… including this puzzling scene. Why would Superman have a prison and soldiers? Why unmask Bruce Wayne when he can see through his mask?
Check back later when I post the Jimmy Kimmel LiveBatman V Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer! Here just in time for placement on Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
I just realized I’ve been calling Batman V Superman, “Justice Begins,”not ‘Dawn of Justice” in past posts. Whoops. It’s a lame subtitle anyway…
But what’s not lame? At all? The Batman heavy trailer for Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice!
Watch it now!
I’m just gonna say it… Batman and all his wonderful toys have me so excited for this movie! Though we have no dialog in his own voice, Ben Affleck has at least nailed the haunted look of damaged Bruce Wayne. And I love, Love, LOVE the fact he is using a high tech voice modulator. He sounds scary, but not ridiculous.
I wonder if Kevin Smith is creaming his shorts… he proposed such a way to disguise Bruce Wayne’s voice before the film started shooting. Good call, Mr. Smith.
Superman is certainty vilified in this trailer, yet also held up like a God in several places.
Says Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor:
“We know better now, don’t we? Devils don’t come from Hell beneath us. No, they come from the sky.”
Alfred has some words of wisdom himself, though it sounds like it is more about Bruce than Superman, me thinks. Or even Lex Luthor.
“That’s how it starts. The fever. The rage. The feeling of powerlessness. That turns good men… cruel.”
And finally, synthesized Batman has a few words for the Man of Steel.
“Tell me, do you bleed? You will!”
The trailer draws heavily from the beloved Frank Miller graphic novel, The Dark Knight Returns, which probably offers the best showdown between the two heroes in all of comic-dom.
And there are plenty of Easter Eggs to find! I saw a classy “?” gratified somewhere in that trailer…and let’s not forget we get looks at the Batwing and Batmobile!
March 2016 can’t come fast enough! I want to see Batman somehow kick Superman’s ass!
Batfleck Vs. Superman (also known by the silly title ‘Batman V. Superman: Justice Begins’) is still over a year away with a scheduled release date of March 25th, 2016. In the meantime, I think we should all take a step back to admire the greatest comic book movie of all time; Christopher Nolan’s 2008 film ‘The Dark Knight.’
I wanted to do the top 5 scenes of the entire ‘Dark Knight Trilogy,’ but that was too limiting as there are too many fantastic scenes in my ‘The Dark Knight Trilogy’ to cover here. I couldn’t even narrow just ‘The Dark Knight’ down to 5 favorite scenes. I need 6 to do the job!
Without further ado, here are the top 6 scenes from ‘The Dark Knight’ in the order they happen in the film’s narrative.
1. The Heist
The Bank Heist is quite the little scene to open and therefore establish the tone of the 2nd movie in Nolan’s Batman Saga. Inspired heavily by the Michael Mann film ‘Heat,’ the scene twists a classic heist into the Joker’s (Heath Ledger) plot, all while setting you on complete edge using the heights of IMAX and the sharp cords of the Joker’s theme… all screaming “Chaos.”
2. Decent Men In An Indecent Time
The Joker’s heist may kick off the movie, but it is a decision made by three men that really set events in motion.
To defeat Gotham’s biggest recognized problem, the mob, Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), Lieutenant James Gordon (Gary Oldman), and Batman (Christian Bale) make a pact that will dictate the fate of all three involved, as well as collateral damage of Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal).
“We’re going after the mob’s life savings. Things will get ugly.”
“I knew the risk when I took this job, lieutenant.”
Dent accepts the risk willingly, as do Batman and James Gordon.
It is this pact that will determine the destiny of all three men; destroying them all by the end of the film.
3. Dent’s Dark Side
‘The Dark Knight,’ specifically the scene just covered, is largely based on my favorite graphic novel ‘The Long Halloween’ by Jeph Loeb and by Tim Sale.
In the comic, Dent’s dark side is hinted at early in the story; long before the accident that scars him. Let’s just say he may may have done more than take a henchmen down an alley and flipped a coin to decide his life. But we’ll get to that now.
Dent spends half the movie as Gotham’s “White Knight,” the honest and law-fairing District Attorney bringing hope to Gotham. I would argue that Dent’s dark side is introduced too late in the movie; around the hour mark. Even here, the film form is not as severe as his comic version. Hell, ‘Gotham’ showed Dent’s short fuse in the first episode introducing the young assistant D.A.
The 1st sign something is amiss with Gotham’s White Knight is when he interrogates Joker’s henchmen Shiff Thomas; the man wearing the name tag pegging “Rachel Dawes” as the Joker’s next victim.
Thomas gets the ‘ole coin flip multiple times, gun held to his head, until Batman stops Dent. The Dark Knight warns the D.A. that if anyone saw what Dent was doing, faith in the White Knight and Gotham would fail.
Even going off the cuff, Dent left the fate of Shift Thomas to his double-sided coin. He (likely) meant Shift Thomas no terminal harm.
Still, that Dent darkness has to appear somehow.
4. Batman Interrogates The Joker
Batman’s one rule comes back to bite him in the ass. By a rabid dog chasing cars.
It’s really hard not to love this scene. Though Batman has the Joker in his gauntlets, Joker has all the power.
“You have NOTHING! Nothing to threaten me with. Nothing to do with your strength.”
It really is powerful to watch Batman wail on Joker to no avail. His “one rule” that prevents him from killing leads to the deaths of others in the film. This same number was over 600 by the time the pair face off for the final time in Frank Miller’s ‘The Dark Knight Returns.’
In this case, his one rule kills Rachel and blows Dent halfway to hell. But it is this rule that separates Batman from the masked villains. Even though he may lose to the Joker this scheme, I think he may get him in the end…
5. An Unmovable Object and An Unstoppable Force
‘The Dark Knight’ breaks the superhero’s genre one rule, established in classic films like 1989’s ‘Batman’ and carried on to nearly-modern day ‘Spider-Man’ (2002) and ‘Batman Begins’ (2005): kill off your villain so the end is nice and tidy.
The Caped Crusader does toss the Clown Prince of Crime off the Pruitt building… only to catch him with his grappling hook, much to the Joker’s disappointment.
“Oh, you. You just couldn’t let me go, could you? This is what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. You truly are incorruptible, aren’t you? You won’t kill me out of some misplaced sense of self-righteousness. And I won’t kill you because you’re just too much fun. I think you and I are destined to do this forever.”
Boom! That’s comics in a nutshell.
Spider-Man doesn’t kill the Green Goblin in the comics (well he does, several, but some come back… and, you know, crazy Marvel stuff); they clash again and again and again. And there are very few foes that have been clashing longer in the comics than Batman and the Joker.
6. The White Knight Vs. The Dark Knight
The real finale. The one we were promised when Gordon, Dent, and Batman meet on that rooftop in the first act.
Things got dirty. And all three of these decent men in an indecent time were torn to shreds by the joker, but none more than tragic Harvey Dent.
“What happened to Rachel wasn’t chance. We decided to act! We three!”
Batman knows what’s up! Cause he’s the world’s greatest detective.
But Harvey Dent is the apparent loser in the room, having lost his fiance (and scared his face), with no knowledge that Bruce carried similar feelings for Rachel.
In the comics, Bruce Wayne blames himself for not revealing to Harvey Dent who he was. For not showing Dent who fought alongside him for the soul of Gotham. For remaining anonymous and letting Gordon and Dent take the brunt of mob vengeance.
In the movie, even in this immense time of crisis, Batman is able to vocalize the importance of Harvey Dent to Gotham; why he was chosen.
“Because you were the best of us! He wanted to prove that even someone as good as you could fall.”
So rests the soul of Gotham in these three-warriors-torn-asunder’s final moments together. Harvey “Two-Face” Dent deciding each of their fates with a flip of the coin.
This scene completes the movie. Three young men with rose-color glasses are wrung through the shredder as a promise they made destroyed their partnership and their lives. Classic Nolan/Batman tragedy.
EXTREME SPOILERS AHEAD FOR AVENGERS, DARK KNIGHT RISES, AND SKYFALL.
Possible SPOILERS for any other films referenced.
We’ve finally reached 2012, a year full of great villains! Perhaps the best year for antagonists in this modern age!
All of 2012’s “Terrible 3” fit the mold I discussed in previous posts of “A Better Class of Criminal” (Part II, Part III). All 3 deserve to be on the list of 100 greatest villains ever; any other year, each would be the highlight due to less steep competition from the other 2.
Loki (Tom Hiddleson), THE AVENGERS
Loki is the weakest of the 2012 “Terrible 3,” yet he is still fan-diddily-tastic and miles above most antagonists on the silver screen (technically, billions of miles above, since he is from Asgard…).
Let’s tick the boxes off for the traits we’ve already covered ad nauseum…
1) Loki has a mastermind of a plan. The demi-God is always on step ahead of S.H.I.E.L.D., the Avengers, and even his own brother, Thor. More specific, like great villains past (think the Joker), his plan involves being captured in order to destroy the Avengers from the inside. In his case, he wants a shot at the monster S.H.I.E.L.D. brought on their own Hellicarrier, Bruce Banner aka the Hulk.
Even past his capture and escape, Loki is a step ahead of Captain America and team, setting up at Stark Tower before even Tony Stark realizes it.
2) Loki loves his work. He smiles so often, with such evil and glee, even when things look there worst for him. My personal favorite is the smile Loki pops off while “removing” a man’s eyeball before he first encounters Captain America in Germany.
He smiles when he arrives on our planet, as Thor threatens him, as he watches Thor, Iron Man, and Captain America clash, as he passes Banner’s lab in cuffs, as he threatens Black Widow, and even when Tony Stark taunts him in the third act. Loki’s having so much fun he can’t contain himself.
As a result, so do we! A lot of credit has to go to the actor, Tom Hiddleson, on this one. As written, Loki could be played more seriously, but Hiddleson nails Loki’s playfulness.
3) Speech! Speech! – Loki may not have a unique voice like his predecessor, The Joker, or his successor, Bane, but he can still deliver quite the evil speech.
To the people of Germany:
“Is not this simpler? Is this not your natural state? It’s the unspoken truth of humanity, that you crave subjugation. The bright lure of freedom diminishes your life’s joy in a mad scramble for power, for identity. You were made to be ruled. In the end, you will always kneel.”
To Black Widow:
“I won’t touch Barton. Not until I make him kill you! Slowly, intimately, in every way he knows you fear! And then he’ll wake just long enough to see his good work, and when he screams, I’ll split his skull! This is my bargain, you mewling quim!”
“Enough! You are, all of you are beneath me! I am a god, you dull creature, and I shall not be bullied by…”
4) Loki is unique. Sure, we’ve seen many super-villains over the years, but Loki is a God/Alien. He considers himself a fallen king, driven mad by the power of the Tesseract and envy of Thor. He sees the human race as ants, something very few to no villains mentioned previously feel. After all, even those like Norman Osbourne aka the Green Goblin, who sees himself as above regular people, was human himself before experimentation.
5) Loki makes it personal. He attacks the Avengers “where they live” (according to Tony Stark), killing friend of the team Agent Phil Coulson.
Bane (Tom Hardy) , THE DARK KNIGHT RISES
I argue that Bane is an even stronger Nolan Batman baddie than Joker… and most people call me a fool.
Joker may have tested Batman’s one rule… and corrupted Gotham’s White Knight, Harvey Dent… but BANE BROKE THE BAT! And held Gotham hostage for months, keeping the entire US government at bay.
My favorite scene in Nolan’s entire DARK KNIGHT TRILOGY is Bane and Batman’s initial fight in the sewers. Not only is the action perfectly brutal, leading to the destruction of Batman – the final moment true to the exact panel from the comic – but every line Bane utters during the fight is gold; instantly classic. Both the writing, and the all important delivery by the extraordinary Tom Hardy make the scene the best of the comic-book-movie crop:
“Not as serious as [your mistake], I fear…
Let’s not stand on ceremony here, Mr. Wayne.
Peace has cost you your strength. Victory has defeated you!
Theatricality and deception. Powerful agents to the uninitiated. But we are initiated, aren’t we Bruce? Members of the League of Shadows. And you betrayed us!…
I am the League of Shadows! I’m here to fulfill Ra’s al Ghul’s destiny!
You fight like a younger man with nothing held back. Admirable, but mistaken.
Oh, you think the darkness is your ally. But you merely adopted the dark. I was born in it, molded by it. I didn’t see the light until I was already a man. By then it was nothing to me but blinding!
The shadows betray you, because they belong to me!
I will show you where I have made my home whilst preparing to bring justice to Gotham… Then I will break you.
Your precious armory, gratefully accepted. We will need it.
Ah yes, I was wondering what would break first… your spirit… or your body?!?!”
CLICK “READ MORE” BELOW FOR MORE BANE GOODNESS! NOW WITH SILVA FROM SKYFALL!
The key to any version of Batman, from the 90s animated show to Shumacher’s two disasters, is Police Commissioner James Gordon.
While Gordon is often painted as a bumbling cop who can’t get anything done without Batman, Batman: Year One, The Long Halloween, and Nolan’s two films present a very realistic Gordon who is as essential to Bruce Wayne’s fight against corruption as Batman himself.
As mentioned in Part 1 of this blog, Frank Miller’s Year One is just as much about James Gordon as it is about Batman/Bruce Wayne, if not more. After all, we do open and close the story with Gordon, not Bruce.
In The Dark Knight, Gordon shares the screen nearly as much as Bruce and Dent, but Begins is primarily Batman’s story, so when we do see Gordon, it is within the context of Wayne’s story.
In Batman Begins, we first meet Gordon as he comforts a young Bruce Wayne, still in shock that his parents have been murdered. In Year One, Gordon and Bruce arrive in Gotham on January 4th, both intent on making Gotham a less corrupt city.
In Year One, Gordon doesn’t know whether Batman is friend or foe for a good portion of the story. At one point, Gordon suspects the city’s young District Attorney, Harvey Dent to be Batman (a theme Nolan plays with in Dark Knight). After all, Dent seems to be the only other man in Gotham not on Falcone’s payroll. In fact, he appears to be the only other man trying to do anything about Gotham’s corruption problem.
Dent is already in contact with Batman at this point in Year One, actually hiding the Caped Crusader behind his desk when Gordon comes in looking for answers. This differs from both Long Halloween and Nolan’s The Dark Knight where Gordon makes the introduction between the two crimefighters.
Back to Year One, Gordon admires what Batman has done to confront corruption, but sees him not as much the possible alley as a dangerous vigilante. After all, though Batman has made a dramatic appearance in front of the Falcones, Leob, and the Mayor of Gotham, he is still a vigilante wearing a mask, breaking the law.
The two first come into contact when Gordon attempts to stop an out of control truck from running down a homeless woman. Gordon fails to stop the truck, but Batman successfully pushes the woman out of harm’s way at the last minute.
Following which, Gordon has a gun on Batman, but won’t shoot. His cop peers aren’t so understanding, shooting Batman as he escapes down an alley, even as Gordon says “Batman– went down that alley — there he is — saved that old woman… He…”
Batman is shot, escaping into a condemned building. Gordon tries to protect him, covering the building but telling GCPD “No one fires without my order –” unfortunately corrupt Commissioner Leob has already been burned by the Bat, and hence orders the building demolished, as it is due for demolition and nobody will get hurt, “except for a derelict or two.”
Much to Gordon’s horror, the building is bombed. Batman survives (Du’h) and is able to fight off the first group of officers sent in after him.
Not only does Batman evade the GCPD, he also happens to save one of Selina Kyle’s cats (Selina Kyle being a prostitute who is inspired by Batman to put on a mask and prance around Gothman at night). We have yet to see Selina Kyle (aka Catwoman) in a Nolan film, though she will be in The Dark Knight Rises. I will discuss her character in Year One and Long Halloween later, as her on screen version is likely to be a combination of the two, seeing Nolan and David S. Goyer’s love for incorporating elements of those two particular graphic novels.
Batman is only able to escape using the same device Nolan has him using in Batman Begins to evade the cops at Arkham Asylum; that is a device in his shoe that attracts thousands upon thousands of bats.
By the similar scene in Begins, Gordon and Batman are already acquainted, following Batman’s visit to his office and the capture of Carmine “The Roman” Falcone at the docks.
In Batman Begins, Wayne throws together a makeshift outfit with a ski mask and sneaks into Gordon’s office, sticking a stapler to the back of Gordon’s neck like a gun. (Also an homage to Batman’s first outing in Year One, before he was come to the symbol of the Bat.)
“Don’t turn around, you’re a good cop, one of the few,” leads Bruce. He wants to know what it will take to finally put Falcone behind bars. Gordon tells he he’ll need an honest judge and an honest D.A.
Of course, since this is before the introduction of Harvey Dent in Nolan’s films, the D.A. in question is Rachel Dawes, Bruce Wayne’s childhood friend and possible love interest.
“You’re just one man?” questions Gordon as Batman takes off.
“Now we’re two,” replies the Dark Knight.
Ra’s al Ghul’s words put into practice, Bruce is no longer just a lone masked vigilante. Unlike other iterations of Batman where Gordon has been less essential and intelligent, Nolan and Miller’s versions of Batman do not work in a void, they need honest people on the right side of the law to get the job done.
Gordon of course chases Batman from the building, not quite trusting the random man who held a “gun” to the back of his head. But, after Batman takes down Carmine Falcone at the docks, only then Gordon better trusts the Bat.
Gordon even lets the masked man show up at his personal residence, without too much worry.
In Year One, Gordon doesn’t truly trust Batman until Batman saves his own son. In the graphic novel, Arnold Flass and commissioner Leob don’t take kindly to Gordon’s loyalty to the law, setting it up so The Roman kidnaps Gordon’s baby son, James. (They’ve also had Gordon beaten several times by this point in the story.)
Batman, again without costume because it is the middle of the afternoon, is able to help Gordon save his son. Gordon shoots the tire of the getaway vehicle, struggles with Falcone’s goon, only to have himself, his baby, and the henchmen fall off the bridge and into the river.
Wayne is able to catch baby James, saving his life, much as Nolan has him saving the life of Gordon’s son later The Dark Knight.
From this point on, Batman is never alone, Gordon and he are indeed “two.” Their story is intertwined until the end of both men, an end that is hinted at in the original teaser for Dark Knight Rises.
Year One ends with Gordon on the roof, thinking about his new alley:
“As for me — well, there’s a real panic on. Somebody’s threatened to poison the Gotham reservoir. Calls himself the Joker. I’ve got a friend coming who might be able to help. Should be here any minute.”
A very similar ending to that of Batman Begins, were Gordon unveils his new Bat Symbol and mentions a new villain with “a taste for the theatrical” like Batman.
Now I’m that much closer to discussing my favorite part of the Batman myth, Harvey Dent. And of course we still have to examine the themes of Batman Begins as they carry through Dark Knight and lead us right into Dark Knight Rises.
As I sit here, watching Batman Begins for the third time this week, I am amazed.
I’m not amazed that I can watch a movie three times in the same week, as I’m sure I’ve done the same with Fight Club and Raiders of the Lost Ark at some point in my development. I’m not even amazed that I actually enjoy a Batman movie after Batman & Robin mangled the brand.
I’m amazed that a comic book movie… hell… any mainstream Hollywood movie can be so well crafted, with such care and depth given to the film’s many themes and characters.
There have been plenty of great comic book adaptations over the years from Spider-Man to Iron Man, Captain America to Kick-Ass, but as good as those movies are, they don’t come anywhere near the caliber of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight.
Sure, Spider-Man nailed the superhero movie formula, and Iron Man duplicated it nicely, but Christopher Nolan’s Batman films aren’t just entertainment for the masses, they’re socially important films dealing with some lofty themes including fear, corruption, justice, and legend.
Though The Dark Knight is infamous for Heath Ledger’s performance and the sheer scope of the epic tragedy of Harvey Dent, Batman Begins is actually, in my opinion, the better written film of the two. For that reason and because it does come first chronologically, I will start with the 2005 film.
Having recently read Batman: Year One by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli and Batman: The Long Halloween and its followup Batman: Dark Victory by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale, I have an entirely new appreciation for Nolan’s masterpieces (yes, I consider them even better than Inception or Memento).
Begins is also all the more interesting to watch after seeing the first two trailers for The Dark Knight Rises, as director/writer Christopher Nolan assures us that film will take the trilogy full circle back to Begins.
In Year One, Miller has Bruce Wayne returning to Gotham after twelve years, the same day that Police Lieutenant James Gordon arrives after being reassigned to the most corrupt city in the world. In Nolan’s movie, Gotham is also referred to, by Ra’s al Ghul, as the world’s “greatest city,” so I guess the best way to describe Batman’s hometown is New York meets Chicago.
From the beginning, Wayne and Gordon’s differences are apparent. Gordon arrives on a crowded train whilst Bruce flies in 1st class, met at the terminal by reporters. Gordon is met by his new, very corrupt partner, Arnold Flass.
Now, Nolan’s first Batman film is a sort of hybrid of Year One and Long Halloween with some of his own magic mixed in. In the film, Bruce meets Gordon when he is a child, after his parents are murdered in front of him. Gordon is the police officer who comforts Bruce, draping his father’s coat over his shoulders and telling him “it’s okay” as Commissioner Loeb tells them the good news, “we got him, son.” That is, they have apprehended, Joe Chill (I still think that name sounds like he’s a mascot who sells cigarettes to children). “Justice” has been done.
Likewise, Flass has been transformed from Miller’s all-american Green Beret trained giant of a man to a fat slob in Nolan’s film. Still, his role remains the same; he is Gordon’s corrupt partner, on Falcone’s payroll, one of the many cops on the take that cloud Gotham’s justice system.
Year One doesn’t go into Wayne’s preparation much, only showing him training on the grounds of Wayne manner, commenting how he’s waited eighteen years, but he’s still “not ready.”
“I’m not ready. I have the means, the skill — but not the method… No. That’s not true. I have hundreds of methods. But something’s missing, something isn’t right. I have to wait. I have to wait.”
The most valuable addition Nolan brings to Batman’s universe is tying all sorts of loose ends together. In Begins, we see where Wayne spent the years between the hit on Joe Chill and his return to Gotham. He has lived among the criminals, studied their methods. He was then trained by the Henri Ducard from the League of Shadows to be fight, be invisible, and to conquer his own fear.
Wayne returns to Gotham, in Begins on a private plane, aware will not simply be a vigilante, but something more.
As Ducard says to him when they first meet in Wayne’s jail cell:
“A vigilante is just a man lost in a scramble for his own gratification. He can be destroyed or locked up. But, if you make yourself more than just a man, if you devote yourself to an ideal, and if they can’t stop you, then you become something else entirely… Legend, Mr. Wayne.”
Fear is a theme in Year One, but Nolan brings it even more front and center in Batman Begins, making it the film’s most foremost theme.
In Year One, Bruce picks the bat as a symbol because he recalls it frightening him as a child.
“Without warning, it comes… crashing through the window of your study and mine… I have seen it before… somewhere… it frightened me… as a boy… frightened me… yes father. I shall become a bat.”
We see the incident in question in Begins, with young Bruce falling through a covered up well and into the batcave where he encounters hundreds of the creatures, tramatizing him for life… until the League helps him conquer such fear. The image is repeated throughout the first act of Begins from the play he sees with his parents to the bats that fly out of the chest during the League’s final test.
Just as the bat crashes through a window in Year One, bringing Bruce to his epiphany of the symbol he will use to put fear in the hearts of his enemies, in Begins a Bat gets into Bruce’s study as he researches which cops he can trust. Again, epiphany: the villains of Gotham will share his fear of bats.
Of course, by this point in the graphic novel, Bruce has already attempted to fight crime once, with a fake scar instead of a mask. It doesn’t go that well with Bruce barely making it home alive to see that bat crash through his father’s study.
He was right, he was not ready. Without the symbol of the Bat, without the fear he strikes in others, Bruce Wayne was not ready.
Now, one of the most striking differences between Year One and Batman Begins, is that the former is told from the point of view of Gordon and Bruce Wayne, whereas the movie mostly sticks us in Batman’s shoes. We see a scene or two from Gordon’s perspective, but it is generally Bruce Wayne’s film.
In future posts, I will go on to discuss The Dark Knight, where Nolan and co-story-writer David S. Goyer make James Gordon and Harvey Dent nearly as prominent as Batman.
In fact, by the time we get to Dark Knight, I would argue that the movie isn’t the story of the Batman vs. the Joker at all, but rather the tragedy of District Attorney Harvey Dent and the events he, Gordon, and Batman set in motion.
But, that is for another post, another night. I have much more to say about Nolan’s films, Year One, Long Halloween, and The Dark Knight Rises, so I hope you’ll return to Breaking Geek to delve into Batman with me.