Several days ago, on Monday September 16th, I waited in line twice to pick up my pre-ordered copy of GRAND THEFT AUTO V from Gamestop. First, I had to stand in line to get my group number at 6pm. Then, I had to wait in line from 11:00pm to the 12:01am Tuesday release date of the game.
I’m not complaining, bitching, or moaning; I could have (and should have) just picked up the game Tuesday morning and avoided the crowds. After all, I did preorder the game months ago; there would be a copy there waiting for me in the morning.
Though I wish to avoid all lines these days; I’ve waited in my fair share that require arrival hours in advance, whether I am waiting for a hot game system or the latest blockbuster. Each and every time I have found myself in such a line, I come across the same five geek archetypes. Without fail. Continue reading “‘Waiting for GTA V’ or ‘Types of Line Geeks’”→
“chameleon29” has some awesome artwork on deviantArt of favorite heroes and villains from both DC and Marvel comics. Some are even available as prints (and/or magnets and mugs)!
Too bad I have no money…. Damn you, comic addiction!
My personal favorite it Batman, not to say the rest aren’t great. I simply love the interpretation with the extra sharp ridges and lines of the mask, especially around Batman’s eyes.
I do apologize for the deviantArt watermark, but I thought these pieces were so damn cool I’d share them with my fellow geeks anyway. The art may be fairly familiar in pose (especially Iron Man), but the style really grabs me, you know?
(Gross, not in that way! Get your mind out of the gutter, buddy!)
All appear to be the “movie versions” of their character. Bane is obvious, though Spider-Man and Iron Man also sport masks closer to their big-screen design. In Spidey’s case, I think we’re looking at the original Sam Raimi version played by Tobey Maguire.
Check out the two purely comic inspired characters by clicking READ MORE below.
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.