Tag Archives: bane

Warner Bros Animation Does the DC Universe Right

While misguided attempts at putting the Justice League in theaters and a Superman reboot cautiously on the way, Warner Bros. Animation has been producing classing stories from DC Comics time and time again. If the trailer is any indication, The Dark Knight Returns – Part 1 won’t be any different. If nothing else it has Peter “Robocop” Weller as Batman! Your move creep! Check it out:

Looks amazing right? This is nothing new for Warner Bros. Animation as they have been doing this for decades now (if you count Batman: The Animated Series). They have succeeded in all of the areas they have failed with their big budget action movies (except Batman of course because anything Batman is good). They take chances and stretch their wings. Different animation styles, different voices to fit those styles, and most importantly they tell the stories we want to see.

How many origin stories can there be? Instead of taking up and entire film introducing every single DC character, they are getting straight into the good stuff with the comics that we love. Doomsday, Red Hood, Tower of Babel, they’ve all been done and done mostly well in these movies. WB tapped into a market of real comic book fans and knows that they are the main audience of these animated features. It’s not like the major films that have to pander to everyone. Marvel took a gamble on giving everyone an origin story and if they didn’t luck out with Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark I’m not sure any of the last few years of success actually happen. Green Lantern tried to do the same thing, but Ryan Reynolds can only take you so far and unfortunately their were so many plot holes and other story issues that the most realistic looking live action take on the Green Lantern and Oa that I could have asked for got completely wasted.

Green Lantern done right

I have seen the Green Lantern movie that works though. Check out Green Lantern: First Flight, the animated feature that came to Blu-ray and DVD two years before the failure in theaters. It’s very similar in theme and hits a lot of the same notes. Hal Jordan gets the ring from a fallen Lantern and has to learn how to be a better man while the universe is in jeopardy and so on. Yet it does it so much better. First of all thanks to it being animated, most of it takes place in space, which is where he belongs. Second, Hal gets his training on the job throughout the entire movie instead of a five minute sequence followed by a bunch of crap. Third, instead of pacing it so poorly because they want to save Sinestro for a sequel, they throw the kitchen sink out there at once. The lack of limitations and big names make it so that there are just some things you can do with animation that you can’t attempt with a blockbuster movie. Want to see how a Wonder Woman movie should be made?  Go to WB Animation again. Don’t even get me started on Jonah Hex. The characters we know less about get their due, while the ones we already know (Superman/Batman) get spared of introductions and instead we get their best stories shown as we know and love them.

As far as films go this is the one area that DC clearly trumps Marvel. Marvel Animation does what they can, but it just isn’t on the same level as DC. They do a fair job, specifically with Hulk vs, but the overall quality and quantity just isn’t there. Eight films in six years, along with some poorly received anime just aren’t going to cut it. Not when DC has almost doubled their production and done so with such high quality. All this while making Justice League and Young Justice TV series that have critical acclaim as well.

DC has plenty of very good movies aside from the Dark Knight trilogy. They are just being shown on the wrong screen. Hell they even nailed it with The Flaming C!

“The Dark Knight Rises” Review

Christopher Nolan’s epic Batman trilogy comes to a close with The Dark Knight Rises, and while it may not surpass the masterpiece that was The Dark Knight, it is still a pretty fantastic movie and a fitting end to a memorable saga.

Set eight years after the events of The Dark Knight, Gotham is enjoying a state of peace due to the Dent Act as we find Bruce Wayne staying out of the public eye, retired as Batman and watching Wayne Industries endure money struggles. All of this begins to change of course as Bane comes in to restore his brand of order to Gotham, as well as break the Batman in both body and soul.

It’s that last part that sets the movie apart. Where Joker and Scarecrow and Two Face either wanted to kill Batman or drive him crazy, Bane is out to break his spirit. He is Batman’s physical superior and can not be taken down with any of the old tricks we’ve seen. At the same time he is cold and ruthless and most importantly smart, making Batman seem as weak as he has ever looked before. We get a very desperate Batman. Tom Hardy does a fantastic job making Bane every bit the badass he is supposed to be (once they fixed the voice issue) and makes it believable and emotional watching him strip Bruce Wayne of everything he knows and loves, which is where the “Rise” part of the movie kicks in. It is the theme of the movie and is taken both literally and figuratively, as each character has their own demons and challenges the must rise above. They lay this theme on very thick. Almost too much so.

Better than Batman and Robin

In this age of cinema you can’t increase the stakes and the scope (and the budget) without  increasing the number of characters too, and Nolan obliges with a number of additional characters. At the forefront is Anne Hathaway’s Selina Kyle, who is never referred to as Catwoman (good move), and does well in playing the anti-hero. She has good chemistry with Bale and is played very close to the Year One version of the character. Her acrobatics are sometimes a little too flashy and once you start getting her, Batman and Bane on screen at the same time it’s starts to get very comic book-ey. Not to ruin the final act for you, but it’s kind of like this. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it does counter what Nolan had been working toward this whole time by grounding Batman into reality. This also applies to the heavily promoted “Bat” flying vehicle which, while it is awesome to see in action, takes reality to the limits.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Marion Cotillard also do well as John Blake and Miranda Tate respectively, but the talk about their roles was never about how they would perform, but who they’re characters were supposed to be. ***SPOILER ALERT: To put it mildly all of the rumors we heard about them and the how the movie ends turn out to be true and if you know they are coming you see it from a mile away. However they wait as long as possible to actually confirm everything and do it in such a way that it doesn’t really matter that you know in the first place. A great job in dealing with such a difficult task.***

Make no mistake about it, this is definitely the end of the Bale/Nolan Batman saga and they tie a nice and neat bow on everything to make sure there is nowhere else to take it. Everything that is promised through the trailers and throughout the movie is delivered and done so in spectacular fashion. The movie takes the trilogy full circle, taking you through very similar progressions and set pieces as Batman Begins. The difference is that it does all of these much bigger, and in some cases better. No, this isn’t as good as The Dark Knight, but it is an intense movie with huge set pieces that keeps you on your toes from beginning to end and puts a fine cap on the mother of all blockbuster comic book trilogies.

Free Comic Book Day Q&A with Joe Field

Christmas is great, but if you’re looking for a present now know this: Free Comic Book Day is just days upon us. The annual event is exactly what it sounds like. Comic book stores around the world give away comics to anyone that walks in. This year it is this Saturday, May 5th. Yes, that’s the day after The Avengers hits theaters. In honor of the best idea since pizza Fridays at school, I spoke to Joe Field, the founder of Free Comic Book Day, about the comic book industry.

-What inspired you to come up with Free Comic Book Day?
The business of comics had come through a tumultuous time in the late ’90s. When things started turning around, I saw a need for a massive invitation for everyone to check out what’s going on weekly in their local comic shop. I wrote a column for a trade magazine, outlining Free Comic Book Day and suggesting it be modeled after other “free” events. The column was met with enthusiasm!

-What went into getting all of the other comic book stores involved?
I knew that I couldn’t coordinate the event, so I turned to the dominant distributor of comics in the English-speaking world, Diamond Comic Distributors. Their team has regular contact with all comic book stores on a regular basis, so I was confident they could do the job— and they’ve done it exceedingly well for these last 11 years.

-Was there any suggestion by the comic book industry to have The Avengers movie come out on the same weekend as Free Comic Book Day?
Free Comic Book Day  has been the “first Saturday in May” for 10 of its 11 years. In most cases, there has been a comics-related movie attached to the same weekend. I choose to look at it as Hollywood coming to comics, rather than comics being a barnacle on the Good-Ship Hollywood.

-Do you think the industry is taking enough advantage of the comic book movie franchises and their popularity?
Movies are passive entertainment. You pay for your ticket, then sit in your seat and watch. The reading of comics and graphic novels is a much more involved experience. There’s reading the words, interpreting the art, filling in the time between panels ans scenes. In short, there’s more required of a comic book reader than there is of a movie watcher.

Really, I think the movies have been a great calling card for comic books. I honestly hope that more movie-goers will want to check out the source material for all these comics-based movies!

-What do you think of the current state of comic book stores?
With some 2500 comic shops in the U.S. and Canada, I don’t think there is one “current state.” Many retailers are thriving and some are having a tough time paying the bills. That’s just like any other business segment these days.

As the current president of ComicsPRO, the only retailer trade association of comic book specialty retailers, the trends look good right now. More people are reading comics, other media are getting some of their biggest ideas from comics and comic retailers seem to be better prepared and more professionally adept than at any time since I got into the business 25 years ago.

-Are digital comics helping or hurting business?
I have seen no indication that digital comics are putting a dent into print comics. Every other print media would love to have the conditions that are current in comics— handling growth rather than managing a slow steep decline, new ideas, formats and ways of doing business, rather than the same old reliance on advertising to drive the editorial.

Make no mistake, digital comics are a growing segment of the overall comics business, but so are print comics.

-How difficult is it to maintain a store these days?
Owning any small business has a multitude of challenges.  I discovered a long time ago that I had a difficult time have anyone as my boss. Now that I am my own boss, I find the pressure much more significant, but also much more satisfying.

-Do you see this event growing more in the upcoming years?
Free Comic Book Day has been growing for the last ten years and it sure looks like there’s a lot of life in it! This year, events will take place in 2000 stores in nearly 50 countries, with more than 3.5 million comics available to be given away.

-Are there any changes you think should be made with stores or the industry itself?
The most significant thing to come out of the success of Free Comic Book Day , in my estimation, is that it has led to many retailers working much more effectively on reaching outside of their stores to find new customers, to do more events, to really integrate their comics’ businesses in with the overall business of entertainment.

-Anything else you would like to add?
Comics are a lot more than just being about whatever the latest super-hero movie is. If you like to read, if you enjoy reading novels or you enjoy going to art galleries, if you enjoy any of the visual arts, then I maintain that regularly visiting a well-stocked comic book specialty store is definitely worth outing on your “to do” list. Comic books and graphic novels are the white-hot core of visual entertainment!

Every Batman Comic is the Same – Why Doesn’t It Matter?

I just finished reading the newest of “Batman” and like the previous 5 issues before it, is top notch. The entire story arc has shown Batman at his most vulnerable, most insane and most beaten, yet somehow he fights through and wins anyway just because he can’t allow himself to ever fail at anything.

That is all fine and good, however isn’t that like almost every other Batman story (and most other comics while we’re at it)?  Batman had his back broken by Bane. Came back and beat him. He’s been drugged an left for dead by the Black Glove. Nothing a mind trip to bring out the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh can’t fix. He’s even come back from the past after being blown away by Darkseid. I recently reread an old comic that I had found. “Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight” #34 from 1992. It’s the concluding issue to a story where Batman has become increasingly ill and weak while in pursuit of a criminal. Alfred tries to get him to rest. Batman’s mind keeps moving as he dreams about his parents being killed and he is eventually able to overcome his physical issues to defeat the bad guy. Sound familiar? Check out this except from that now 20 year old issue:

I'm so defeated right now

“Can’t think about how I feel. Focus…my vision doubling…blurring…can’t let it — Can’t think about — Have to move. Move”

Now here is a section from “Batman” #6 that came out Wednesday:

“No…no strength left. Blood f-filling the wrong…all the wrong places. Whole body…every bone…saying let go. Let go…and let them take you. Let it end. The pain. The fight. Become a ghost, a face behind the glass. A face…his face…Alan Wayne. His face…so scared. Begging…calling out for someone. Someone to help him…to help him stop…them. Enough. ENOUGH!”

While the writing is certainly a bit more detailed, the theme remains the same. Somewhere in every Batman comic you will find something to the extent of “So much pain…can’t breath…can’t move. Have to move. Good, I’m moving” followed by Batman then beating the tar out of whoever pummeled him in the first place. It’s the comic book version of Hulk Hogan “Hulking up” and no selling at the end of every match to win. Now I’m not trying to pick out a flaw with Batman here. Like I said before, pretty much every comic book, and when you think about it every action movie as well, hits the same point. Hero gets damaged seemingly beyond repair, yet fights the odds to succeed anyway. Heard it a million times. What I am asking though is why doesn’t it matter with Batman? Other comics go through similar motions yet the quality waivers. Daredevil and Spider-Man for example go through periods of pour reviews only to return to our good graces without changing too much of the general tone. Every Batman issue isn’t considered a masterpiece, but they do seem to be held above anyone else.

Sweet! I can totally move again!

You could say the writing and production is just better. It would certainly make sense that the biggest brand would get the best staff to work on it so naturally the final product is better. If that is it then DC must really hate Superman. You can also argue that since he has no powers he is more relatable to the readers. Wouldn’t that make Punisher more popular too? A case could also be made that Batman’s rogues gallery add something different than any other book. Each villain attacks him from a different angle. Sure they all attack him physically, but Joker goes after his sanity, Scarecrow goes after his fears, Two-Face on his own duality and so on. The Court of Owls now moves in on what he thought he knew about his family and city, taking away his security. It’s never a question of can Batman beat someone in a fight. It’s usually more about dealing with the stress each battle puts on his mind. Is there a villain Wolverine has faced that doesn’t want to just punch him in the face?

I like to think that that’s the reason Batman is different. But at this point it could just be because he’s Batman, and we know him. By now we’ve had 8 movies, a ton of TV shows, and countless epic comic book adventures. We know what Batman is about. As long as the new books continue with the formula of him being smarter, tougher and better than everyone else at everything, will any of us complain? Maybe Batman gets away with repeating same formula because he did it first, and he did it best. It may not be much of an answer, but maybe we keep buying the same stories over an over just because he’s the goddamn Batman.