Posts Tagged ‘ Superman ’

The Dark Knight Rises Breakdown Review

 

By now I’m sure you’ve all seen it, read the reviews and written your own opinions, but one thing is for sure, The Dark Knight Rises is a game changer for comic book movies. While the movie isn’t perfect, its magnificent cast ensemble and extraordinary set-pieces helps provide an epic conclusion to the best comic book movie trilogy of all time.

The Dark Knight Rises

Positives:

1) Bane

Watching Tom Hardy as Bane quickly erased any fears that the final instalment of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy would suffer from having a villain that didn’t quite match up to Heath Ledger‘s Joker. Despite wearing a mask that covered his facial emotions, Hardy’s Bane was formidable, frightening, and easily the best incarnation of the character in recent memory. Unlike many comic book villains, Bane’s origin was fleshed out and his motives were explored to an extent in which his story was just as interesting as Bruce Wayne‘s. It’s unfair to compare Bane to Joker and it’s questionable as to whether Joker would have even appeared in the third film anyway had Heath Ledger not tragically passed away. Nolan prides himself on selecting villains that serve the story. Bane’s brutality provides the perfect contrast to an aging Bruce, and it’s clear Nolan has taken some inspiration from Frank Millar’s ‘The Dark Knight Returns.

2) Selina Kyle

Managing to almost steal the show is Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle. Until now, Nolan’s Batman films have lacked a dominant female lead. There was Rachel Dawes, but the contrasting personalities of Katie Holmes’ and Maggie Gyllenhaal’s interpretations left a lot to be desired. In a dark and broody Gotham, Selina is a welcome injection of fun, adding many laugh-out-loud moments to the film. My only complaint towards the character is that she wasn’t featured in the movie enough.

3) The Fight Choreography/Editing

I’ve previously criticised Nolan’s Batman films as using poor cut transitions during the fight scenes that pull the viewer away from the scene. An example would be Batman’s first appearance at the shipping dock during Batman Begins where Batman’s assault on Falcone’s men could barely be seen due to the nauseating camera cuts. In contrast, The Dark Knight Rises has the trilogy’s best action scene with a breathtaking fight between Batman and Bane that will live long in the memory of comic book fans. It showcased Bruce’s desperation matched up to Bane’s brutality, and we all know what happens when Batman took on Bane in the comics….

4) John Blake

I was tempted to add John Blake into the things I didn’t like about The Dark Knight Rises. Why? The film’s ending revolves around the revelation that Blake is Nolan’s ‘Robin’, and that with Bruce Wayne “deceased”, Blake rises as the new guardian of Gotham City. With Nolan achieving the impossible by giving us a realistic take on Robin, it disappoints me that Warner Bros are going to reboot the Batman franchise with Bruce Wayne again, leaving Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s ending up to the imagination.

As the new good guy of Gotham City, Blake is one of the most likable character’s Nolan’s ever put on screen. He successfully worked out Batman’s identity, rescued Jim Gordon, fought side by side with Batman and presumably ended up taking on the mantle. Not bad for a rookie…

 

The first issue of Batman: The Dark Knight Ret...

Negatives:

1) Miranda Tate

Miranda Tate being a cover identity for Talia Al Ghul was probably the worst kept secret in Hollywood. Despite actress Marion Cotlillard repeatedly denying she was playing the daughter of Ras Al Ghul, set-pics from the film immediately confirmed otherwise. Regardless, Talia’s story is actually well handled. Her origin from the prison (or metaphorical Lazuras Pit) mirrors Bruce’s story in an interesting way. An intriguing theory I’ve heard is that Bruce Wayne is the Joe Chill to Talia Al Ghul. Chill murdered Bruce’s parents, inspiring him to later become Batman and protect the citizens of Gotham. In Talia’s eyes, Bruce murdered her father Ra’s, robbing her of the opportunity to make peace with her father. For that, Talia’s story is well-crafted, but Cotillard’s screen time robs the character of making a lasting impression. Her cover-up crusade to bring clean energy to the world through Wayne Enterprises’ reactor never feels believable, and despite Talia manipulating Bruce, it was odd to see her jumping into bed with him so soon in the movie as their relationship hadn’t received any real development.

2) Plot Errors

It feels like a crime to accuse writer, screenwriter, producer and director Christopher Nolan of being lazy, but wouldn’t a nuclear bomb explosion outside of a large city at some point cause severe radiation poisoning? Granted the bomb exploding mid-air certainly wouldn’t have caused a tsunami as the water would have absorbed most of the blast impact before it reaches the city, but it certainly would have created some lasting radiation. Perhaps I’m wrong, but electing to ignore this repercussion certainly took me out of the movie. A side note though is that there is some movie potential to stem from it. Frank Millar’s epic masterpiece ‘The Dark Knight Returns’ explores a gang of ‘mutants’ rising up and taking control of Gotham. There’s no chance of it happening, but wouldn’t it be awesome to see Warner Bros create a continuation of Nolan’s films set even further in the future where Batman’s actions have doomed the city to radiation poisoning and an uprising of mutant gangs?

Another disappointing aspect was the inconsistency of Batman’s physical and mental state. Christian Bale’s performance was his finest yet, as he really showcased Bruce’s emotional struggle leaving the cape and cowl behind.  How Bruce jumps from a retired hermit state straight back into the dark knight is a different matter altogether, as Bruce defies numerous injuries through the film that would leave most men dead or crippled. If the exoskeleton Bruce wore helped his limp, why wasn’t Wayne Enterprises marketing this groundbreaking exoskeleton technology more efficiently?

3) Jim Gordon’s Screen Time.

In a movie that provides so many new characters, some of the older one’s were undoubtedly going to get shifted and it turns out to be Gary Oldman’s Commissioner Gordon. When the film opens, we are shown Gordon’s grief with having to lie about the man that held up a gun to him and his family. The city treats the fallen Harvey Dent as a hero, while Gordon’s inner struggle to contain the lie is never really given the development it deserves. We only learn that his family have left him and moved away through a brief comment from one of the police officers. Oldman’s absence is further felt when Gordon is injured at the hands of Bane’s mercenaries.

Now the one thing I can’t decide on. The ending. Some argue Alfred seeing Bruce and Selina Kyle in Italy was all in his head. After all, how could Bruce survive a nuclear explosion? An opposing theory is that how could it be in Alfred’s head when he barely new Selina Kyle. I commend Nolan for giving us an Inception-like ambiguity to the film, but if I had to choose, I’d say Bruce was alive. The disappointing thing is that we’re unlikely to ever see Blake’s story as the new protector of Gotham City. At least in the film medium anyway. For now though, The Dark Knight Rises is a fantastic piece of cinema, defying the trend of disappointing threequels. Nolan, Bale, Cain, Freeman and Oldman did the impossible.

They brought Batman back from oblivion.

4.5/5

 

 

Will Batman Die in The Dark Knight Rises?

The Dark Knight Rises

The Dark Knight Rises (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Since the release of the latest trailer, fans have been speculating that Bruce Wayne will meet his end in The Dark Knight Rises. We all know this is both Christopher Nolan’s and Christian Bale‘s last time spent on the Batman franchise. While Nolan is known for constantly trying to mislead audiences, Batman’s death is certainly something that seems likely in third and final Dark Knight film.

When we last saw the Caped Crusader he was on the run from the law after taking the fall for crimes committed by District Attorney Harvey Dent. Set forward to this film eight years later, we find Bruce in retirement after temporarily hanging up the mantle. From what the trailers and TV spots have shown us is that Bruce is old and weakened in this film. Is this perhaps a sign of things to come for the Dark Knight?

Since this is the last film in Nolan’s trilogy, it’s fitting that he would want to wrap up Bruce’s story full circle. Blockbuster trilogies rarely get fitting conclusions anymore. Comic book movies such as Spider-Man 3 and X-Men 3 ended either too softly or with unresolved cliffhangers while other franchises such as Pirates of the Caribbean 3 simply conclude by trying to set up sequels. It’s a money-focused market where filmmakers don’t have to power to do anything drastic to their films or characters that belong to high-grossing franchises. However, Nolan is not your usual director and it’s likely that DC might let him conclude his story by having Bruce Wayne die while preventing future filmmakers from butchering his franchise with bad sequels.

To truly understand the enormity of the problem Warner Bros themselves face post Dark Knight Rises, is to look at what Nolan has achieved with his work on the Batman films.  To take a product that was considered dead in the water after back-to-back critical flops and turning it into a billion dollar franchise is an undisputed achievement which DC aren’t likely to achieve again. Warner Bros have finished with Harry Potter and finishing with Batman and now left needing a new blockbuster hero. Will that be Superman? I doubt it.

Warner Bros don’t have another big time superhero to turn to. Man of Steel faces an uphill battle to win over sceptics that find Superman unrelatable, while 2011’s Green Lantern killed off any potential for a Flash movie. They need a superhero property that keeps their presence felt in a market where rivals Marvel are currently dominating. Once Nolan’s Batman trilogy wraps up, DC only has Superman left to compete. Even then, Man of Steel finds itself up against Iron Man 3 and Thor 2 in the same year.

I don’t think Batman is going to die in The Dark Knight Rises. While studio factors are definitely a part of the reason, I just feel Nolan simply doesn’t have to have Bruce Wayne die in order to complete his story. I think Gotham will realise Batman is their true white knight, and the film will end with Bruce Wayne going in to hiding akin to the ending of Frank Miller’s masterpiece, The Dark Knight Returns.

As a side note, one of the best Batman comic books of the modern age contains Bruce’s former sidekick Dick Grayson as the Caped Crusader. Batman doesn’t need Bruce Wayne anymore. As said by Bruce Wayne in Batman Begins , “as a symbol I can be everlasting”. A new face behind the mask means Warner Bros won’t need to reboot the Batman franchise while leaving Nolan’s trilogy intact.

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Why Marvel Should Give The Sentry A Movie

 

The Sentry rips Carnage in half. Interior pane...

Image via Wikipedia

The Sentry has to be one of the most controversial comic book characters of this millennium. It was writer Brian Michael Bendis who brought Robert Reynolds back into the centre of the Marvel Universe by including him in The New Avengers. Since then, fans have ruthlessly criticised the character so often, Marvel had no choice but to respond and they decided to kill the Sentry off in 2010, and the character has not been seen since.

That’s quite a lot of hate. First and foremost, why do people hate the Sentry? Was it because he created continuity problems? Is it his overpowered skills set? Or is it his constant crying and running from battles? More often than not, people seem to dislike the Sentry because he was constantly used as a plot device for high-octane battles, as seen in World War Hulk, New Avengers and Siege. His split personality of Robert Reynolds and the destructive Void persona seemed like an interesting idea. After all, the Sentry is the deconstruction of the Superman archetype. A man with such an extreme set of powers, but burdened by his dark side. If he was handled better, the Sentry could have been Marvel’s answer to Superman and then some. But I guess they figured that’s what Thor is for.

Is Sentry just a Superman rip-off? No, but Marvel have hung the Sentry very close to that label in previous years. His dark side was never truly explored, and more often than not if he wasn’t used as a plot device for action sequences, he would simply run away from a battle in fear. If you need an example, look no further than Secret Invasion. He had potential for some great stories, but he spent too much time lost amongst various Avengers teams.

So what am I doing here wishing for a Sentry movie? We are arguably at an age where Superman is becoming obsolete. People no longer care for immortal characters. When a character is incredibly powerful there’s only so far you can go with them. The Sentry is the ultimate deconstruction of the Superman image. The Sentry is a character so powerful, yet ultimately flawed. If Marvel decided to release a movie on the character surely they would attract a Superman audience, but unlike the DC superhero, the Sentry could offer more providing his flaws were developed on screen. Rob Reynolds would be a more relatable figure than Clark Kent, but would still offer the same amount of thrills.

If X-Men: First Class proved anything last year, it was that you shouldn’t judge a movie before it’s released. Fox’s latest mutant adventure faced worldwide threats of boycott, all because it didn’t stick true enough to the source material. Yet, nearly a year later, and I would say X-Men: First Class was the best comic book movie of 2011 (it’s a pity it didn’t box-office records, but that’s a marketing issue). If a Sentry movie headed into production it would generate quite a media storm. Some people would love the idea of a Sentry movie, and others would ultimately hate it. There’s noting worse than no one caring about the movie (I’m looking at you Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance).

For it to work, I think a Sentry movie would need to exist outside the Marvel cinematic universe, meaning under studio such as Fox or Sony. I feel this would be best, in order for the character’s darker psychological problems to be explored. It’s no secret Marvel Studios aim their movies at a young audience, one I don’t think would appreciate a super powered being ripping his enemies apart.

For all my wishing, I don’t think we’ll ever see a Sentry movie. I think Marvel just lost their way with the character at a crucial time, so I’m not even sure if we’ll see him in the pages of the Marvel universe in the near future. I’ve said time and time again however, there comes a time when Batman and X-Men get boring and it’s time for something new once in a while. Iron Man proved that. If a former b-list hero played by a washed out actor looking for a comeback can hit big, there’s no reason why there couldn’t one day be a Sentry movie.

 

 

What Characters Won’t Benefit From The DC Comics Reboot?

Damian Wayne as Robin. Promotional art for Bat...

Image via Wikipedia

As I mentioned yesterday, the DC comics reboot is creating a large buzz in the comics industry right now. With 52 titles hitting stores next month, DC is going full out in their attempts to bring in new readers. The relaunch will surely benefit characters such as Superman and Green Arrow, who have long needed an overhaul. However, there are sure to be some characters that don’t benefit from the relaunch, and just who do I think they will be?

1) Damian Wayne (Robin)

The Batman and Robin series is one of the lucky few titles able to escape total relaunch. Instead, the title will be given a sense of restricted continuity, where old readers will be able to follow the new books fine, whilst the revamped title will also serve as an entry point for new readers. With Bruce Wayne back as Batman, he is set to battle evil alongside his son Damian. Having Damian as Robin in the relaunch might not be DC’s greatest idea. For many readers, Damian is a marmite character. Some say he’s a badass assassin who adds a whole new dynamic on the Robin character, whilst others say he’s nothing more than a bratty ten-year old. I enjoyed his dynamic with Dick Grayson as Batman, but with Bruce back as The Caped Crusader, it’s definitely going to have a father/son theme, and unlike the interesting reverse dynamic between Dick and Damian, it’s fairly easy to see where Damian and Bruce’s relationship is heading. Only time will tell if Damian gains more or less popularity after the reboot.

2) Green Lantern (Hal Jordan)

The Green Lantern books are in no danger. Writer Geoff Johns constantly delivers one of the best comic book series on the shelves. Older fans aren’t going anywhere, now that fan-favourite Sinestro is back in the picture. The only problem is, Hal probably isn’t going to benefit from the reboot at all. The likely hood is any potential new readers for Green Lantern would have already seen this year’s disastrous movie on the character. Whilst I’ll admit, the Green Lantern movie did not do justice for such a great character, but it’s likely left a stink in any one’s mouths looking to know more about Hal and Corps. Some say movies don’t really influence comic book sales massively, but I have a feeling the Green Lantern series won’t benefit from a massive influx of new readers.

3) BatGirl (Barbara Gordon)

Barbara Gordon is back as Batgirl in a series that see’s her facing old secrets and new villains. Regarded by many as the definitive Batgirl, the decision is to put her back in the role has likely pleased many fans. I personally feel it’s a shame we won’t be seeing her as her wheel chair bound Oracle character anymore. I mean this in the sense that, Barbara represented a minority that rarely gets any treatment in comics. Her story of coming from being shot by the Joker, to becoming one of Batman’s most valuable allies, giving him crucial support from the Bat-Cave was a welcome break. Having Barbara back fighting crime (no matter how DC explain her recovery) seems a little cheap, and it’s personally thrown away any interest I had in her character. The new Batwoman series starring Kate Kane looks far more appealing, and it’s a horror/espionage tale that will likely make Kate the preferred female Bat character on the shelves.

So there you have it. These are the top three characters I feel won’t benefit from the DC comics reboot. Their books won’t crash and burn by any means, but with such high expectations on the first two I mentioned, if new readers didn’t flock in, I wouldn’t be surprised to see another shake-up in the future.

What Characters Will Benefit From The DC Reboot The Most?

Grant Morrison at San Diego Comic-Con 2008 day 1.

Image via Wikipedia

With the DC comic revamp just around the corner, I’ve decided to look at what characters might benefit mostly from the shake-up. With a huge 52 titles set to be released in September, DC is showing that they are serious about their characters, and I for one can’t wait.

1- Superman

Superman is the character most affected by the upcoming reboot. With a new origin, and a new costume, DC attempts to modernize Superman for the 21st century. Starring in three different series, (Action ComicsGrant Morrison, Superman- George Pérez, Justice League– Geoff Johns) Superman is DC’s top priority heading into September. With a new movie on the way, The Man of Steel needs to quickly establish a new fan base, and writer Grant Morrison describes Action Comics 1# as an action comic that recreates Superman in lots of different ways. After years of fans arguing Superman is too overpowered and incorruptible, DC have promised to show us, just who Superman is, and what motivates him to don a costume and fight against evil. Anything Superman with Grant Morrison involved is sure to be a hit (just see his work on All-Star Superman), and it’s about time The Man of Steel gets back to top spot as the world’s top superhero.

2-The Flash (Barry Allen)

To decision to put Barry Allen back as The Flash in 2008 angered a lot of people. Fans thought Barry’s nephew, Wally West had come so far in character development, and taking away the Flash mantle from him was a bad move. In my opinion, apart from some stand out moments in Blackest NightBarry has yet to make the Flash his own again. Well, now’s the time for Barry to justify why he’s the definitive Flash, and what better way for him to do it then when a close friend becomes a an all new villain who can be everywhere at once.

3- Green Arrow

With Marvel’s archer Hawkeye currently getting all of the attention, now couldn’t be a better time for Oliver Queen to get himself a new series. “Armed with cutting edge technology and illegal gained Intel, Green Arrow is shooting first and asking questions later.” What I love about Green Arrow is that he’s morally ambiguous. He is a fairly right-wing hero, who isn’t afraid to put villains down for good in certain circumstances. With the new reboot putting Oliver Queen back to basics, hopefully new readers will realise just how interesting Green Arrow is as a character and that a Robin Hood look alike beats a guy in purple spandex any day. DC just needs to avoid making Green Arrow too similar to Tony Stark, and I’m sure this series will do wonders for the character. Did I mention the fact that his bow now has blades at both ends?

4-Nightwing

When Haley’s Circus (the circus where Dick once performed) returns to Gotham, along with murder and mystery, Nightwing must confront his past and face new and old enemies. Dick Grayson never really fitted the persona of Batman. His acrobatic fighting style, and his upbeat personality didn’t exactly install great fear. With Bruce back as the Caped Crusader, Dick returns once more as Nightwing. The reboot has given Grayson a new black and red colour scheme for his suit, which indicates DC intend on making Nightwing the coolest character in comic books again. Hopefully his new series will have plenty of action, and a hook up with Barbara Gordon not too far down the line. Marvel have proven former sidekicks such as Bucky Barnes can be just as popular if not more so than their respective heroes, so hopefully DC will have the same success with Nightwing.

So there you have it. These are the top 4 characters I think will benefit most from the DC comics revamp. With a whopping 52 titles set to be released, there are sure to be some stinkers, but as far as these four characters go things are about to get big. Other names such as Wonder Woman and Aquaman also have a shot at finding glory, but only time will tell. Bring on September!

A Fanboy’s Tribute: Batman Is The Best Comic Book Character Ever Created

Batman: Dark Victory #1

Some people argue superheroes are no longer relevant in today’s world. Golden Age characters such as Superman have struggled in a modern context due to their limited flaws and storylines. One character that has flourished in a modern setting is Batman. The Caped Crusader is probably the most socially and culturally relevant comic book character in existence. He lives and fights against a world governed by fear and evil. Based on what we’ve seen this week, is that any different from the world today?

We live in dark times. Just this week, the city of London was thrown into chaos by a bunch of rioting youths. With no political will, these were just mindless acts of violence by gangs wishing to install fear and violence across the capital. What started as a small isolated incident, quickly escalated into nationwide pandemic of violence. It was then I realised just how relevant the Batman character is to our modern society.

What I find most appealing about Batman is his origin. After witnessing his parents being gunned down at the age of eight, Bruce Wayne could have gone off the rails and grown up to be a revenge driven psychopath. An interesting idea was raised in Alan Moore‘s The Killing Joke. The idea is that Batman and Joker are two opposite parallels. Both were victims to what Moore describes as “one bad day” that sent them on the path to insanity. The suggested origin of the Joker is that the loss of his wife and baby, followed by his disfigurement sent him insane. It’s the decisions of Batman and Joker that keep them apart. Batman chose to harness his inner demons and use them to seek fair justice and fight crime. Despite his horrific experience, Batman essentially remains ‘a good guy’. This is further conveyed by his decision to seek justice under fair means. Whilst beating criminals to a pulp pushes ethical boundaries, his decision to capture criminals and let the justice system decide their fate keeps the Dark Knight’s ethics in the right place. Shooting them down, or murdering his victims, makes Batman no different from enemies. At the risk of sounding delusional, how many people can say that they don’t take satisfactions in the idea of a hero praying on the type of criminals we saw in the UK last week?

Another great aspect of the Batman character is that he can fit into any storyline/subtext. He can be used in storylines with political subtexts such a Frank Millar‘s amazing ‘The Dark Knight Returns‘ or fantasy subtexts as seen in some of Grant Morrison‘s recent work. As long as the key mythos is the same, and that Batman is an ordinary man seeking to fight crime and evil, Batman works in any storyline. His mission is endless. As seen in the Nolan films, Batman fights for a day where he is no longer needed. He sees himself as a means to an end. A clever theme explored in ‘The Dark Knight’ is that a day won’t come where either Bruce or Gotham do not need the Batman. Frank Millar’s ‘The Dark Knight Returns’ also explores the notion that Batman had become crucial to society. Without him, crime will eventually take hold of Gotham. You won’t find many heroes that carry as much gravitas as the Caped Crusader.

Despite the rise of Marvel’s heroes on screen, Batman will always remain the most compelling comic book character ever created. Batman is relevant to the screwed up world we live in. His choice to fight crime is something many people can relate to. He carries more emotional weight than any other comic book character and his storyline potential is endless.

Great Superhero TV= My Hero

My Hero (TV series)

Image via Wikipedia

Whilst popular TV shows like Smallville and Heroes have come and gone, they were missing a crucial element to the superhero formula. Fun. Sometimes comic book movies and TV shows fail to showcase that having super powers can actually be fun. Spider-Man was overburdened, Superman became lonely and Green Lantern struggled to overcome fear. Before all the live action comic book genre really took in the 21st Century, came one delightful English superhero sitcom, My Hero.

My Hero was created by Paul Mendelson and aired on BBC One in 2000 lasting for six series until concluding in 2006. Ardal O’Hanlon played the role of the multi-powered alien superhero Thermoman, who creates a human alter ego George Sunday. The series follows the lives of George and his family, including his human wife Janet (Emily Joyce) and their two super powered infants. The show focused on how George struggles to fit into society, due to his un-familiarity with life on Earth, he finds himself being misunderstood often.

What made My Hero so successful was that it actually included all of the common conventions of a superhero show, but lampooned the superhero mythos to make the product humorous. The show explored how the hero struggled to fit into society, which provided tons of comedy material. George’s awkward relationship with Janet’s parents made you laugh, but also made you sympathize with him, as he could not reveal that he was really a multi-powered superhero.

What stood out for me with the show is that it took a superhero with set powers similar to Superman, and brought him down to Earth in a way comic book movies have always struggled to do. Due to George’s quest to be accepted by his Wife’s parents, whilst saving the world as Thermoman, audiences connected with him and actually supported him throughout the series. That’s how you humanize a character that’s invincible, something DC has long struggled with for Superman.

As Ardal O’Hanlon was the heart of the show, the product’s quality ultimately diminished when he left in 2006 to be replace by actor James Dreyfus. (Gimme Gimme Gimme) Gone was the lovable superhero, replaced by a camp archetypal character that single headedly, despite the best efforts of the show’s amazing supporting cast, destroyed the show. Despite the show’s poor ending, I can’t help but wish the BBC would convince O’Hanlon to return so that My Hero can grace our screens one more time. There are so many sitcoms they have in need of cancellation (My Family mainly) and it’s only fitting Britain shows America how to properly handle a superhero sitcom.