“Batman v. Superman” Shows (and Tells) Too Much

Super Stink Face

Super Stink Face

The new and (hopefully last!) trailer for  Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice has dropped and it indicate the first sign of the glaring absence of executive producer Christopher Nolan to tell writer David S. Goyer and director Zack Snyder, “I wouldn’t do that if I were for you”.  In Man of Steel, Nolan resisted their idea for Superman to kill Zod and the Dynamic Duo him it would be cool (it wasn’t).

Now with the adult out of the room, who’s gonna tell the kids they can’t eat pizza for breakfast and to flush after using the john?

Let’s sum up the trailer:

Batman is mad at Superman. Superman doesn’t give a shit about Batman being mad. Bruce and Clark have a snark fest. Lex Zuckerberg does a bad Joker riff. Previous scenes from earlier trailers. Bats and Supes duke it out. IT’S A BRO FIGHT! Mark Luthor unleashes his eeeeeeeevil scheme with Zod’s cold dead body. Doomsday is here looking like a moving pile of puke and poop. Bats and Supes team up to fight the greater menace. Mass destruction and big explosions. Suddenly, Whatta Woman appears! Bats and Supes exchange puzzled looks. “Is she with you, dude?” We Stand As One to Kick Doomsday’s nasty ass!

The trailer GIVES AWAY THE WHOLE FUCKING PLOT OF THE MOVIE FOR CHRISSAKES!

I save $10 bucks! This might be the worst trailer since Castaway in giving away all its big moments way too soon.  I’m certain there are more than a few secrets left to reveal in Batman v. Superman, but Great Scott that trailer was spoileriffic.

And it still looks to me like passing over Bryan Cranston in favor of Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor was a turrrible idea as Charles Barkley might say.   It’s completely out of place and character for a DC flick since they disdain being “jokey” like Marvel movies. I didn’t mind the exchange as much as I agree it’s a little tone-deaf after the laugh riots of Nolan’s Batman trilogy and Man of Steel.
The thing which bugs me most about this trailer isn’t Batman or Superman or Wonder Woman or even Doomsday.  Okay, I’m lying a bit  because  Doomsday looks like shit and he’s never been anything but DC’s knockoff version of Hulk Lite so Superman has someone he can hit that won’t splatter from the punch.

It’s Jesse Eisenberg’s goofy Lex Luthor because nothing screams “BEWARE, MY WRATH!” like an angry Jesse Eisenberg!

Look, no knock on Eisenberg as an actor. Loved him as anti-social, unlikable The Social Network, but his Luther looks like the same smart-ass motormouth he played in Now You See Me. In fact, I’ll go further. Between Gene Hackman, Kevin Spacey and now Eisenberg, the best actor to play Lex Luthor was…Clancy Brown.

My brother tells me I’m being a buzzkill and the trailer doesn’t spoil everything about Batman v. Superman.  We still haven’t seen Aquaman, but that’s a pretty thin branch to perch on.  If you’re depending on Aquaman to save your movie, it’s a lost cause already.

jesse-eisenberg-lex-luthor-not-bryan-cranston-meme2016 is going to be a huge year in super hero films with Batman v. Superman,  Captain America: Civil War, X-Men: Apocalypse, Suicide Squad,  and maybe one film where superheroes aren’t beating up each other, Deadpool.

Every genre reaches a point of saturation and if super hero movies aren’t there yet, they are getting close.   When the heroes are beating up each other it’s a sign they are running out of villains to beat up instead.

It’s going to be a big year, but to make it a good year, something is going to have to grab my interest in a way Avengers: Age of Ultron (saw it once and promptly forgot all about it) and Ant-Man (didn’t bother to see it) did not.   Maybe I’ve aged out of getting excited about seeing comic book characters on the big screen or maybe I’m just waiting for one that actually gives me a reason to get excited.

Who Will Save Us From the Superhero Onslaught?

marvel_vs_dc

Like Superhero fights? You’re got six years worth coming soon.

I like super hero movies as much as the next guy, but there is such a thing as a saturation point.   Not all these movies interest me.  Not all these movies will be good.  Not all these movies deserve to made or even  seen.

What this onslaught of super heroes flicks reminds me is how in comics DC and Marvel will push more and more Batman/Spider-Man/Wolverine/X-Men/Superman/Avengers titles (there are about 10 or so monthly Avengers titles alone, not counting the solo superhero titles) and glut the market.   That’s great for a short-term bounce because who doesn’t like Wolvie and Bats?  It’s terrible for comic in general because other titles. better titles, less high-profile titles end up with receiving no attention.  This practically guarantee the only comics we’ll be seeing in the summer is the same old spandex same old.

Captain Marvel (DC Comics)

Hi, I’m Shazam! I used to be Captain Marvel but now I’m not. My new name is as lame as my costume.

A “wait-and-see” approach to the capes and costumes tsunami we are about to be hit with may be the smart move here.  Clearly Disney, Fox, Sony and Warner Brothers are fully invested and confident the ticket buyers are still hungry for more spectacle and special effects.   But I have my doubts.  The more comic movies made increases the odds many of them will tank and tank hard.

Something’s gotta give.  Or maybe it won’t.  Maybe there are enough comic geeks and casual fans out there willing and able to support 32 superhero flicks over the next six years response to DC’s announced slate of films saying I wouldn’t be that way about Marvel movies, but it’s not a fanboy bias for one company over the other to say a good movie is a good movie no matter who makes it and Marvel’s certainly made more than their share of really terrible super-hero crap fests.   For every Green Lantern  and Jonah Hex by DC, Marvel has stunk up the joint with Iron Man 2,  Elektra, Ghost Rider, Spider-Man 3, Daredevil, and I haven’t watched Thor: The Dark World yet).

After The Avengers made a billion bucks every studio went in search for super heroes they could rush into theaters.   Be honest. Was anyone really hoping for a Suicide Squad, Inhumans and Lego Batman movie?   Not only are we getting a Captain Marvel movie from Marvel we’re getting a Shazam! movie from DC featuring a hero that used to go by the handle, Captain Marvel.  If this is confusing for people who read comics, there’s no hope for a civilian to understand what’s coming down the pike.

While I’ll see my share of these upcoming movies,  there’s no way I see all of them.   Don’t let this get around, but while I  enjoy a good superhero movie,  I’m an adult and adults enjoy filmed entertainment that has nothing to do with wall-crawling, dark knighting or shield-slinging.   I like James Bond movies too, but if Hollywood were making 32 spy movies just like James Bond that might be a few too many.

Nobody’s crystal ball is so clear they can predict what’s going to hit and what’s going to die a horrible death at the box office,  but there’s going to be a lot of opportunities for successes and failures.

Or as they say in comic books, to be continued…

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Collision Course: Captain America vs. Superman vs. Batman

superheroes

There are plenty of reviews for Captain America: The Winter Soldier that opened last weekend to kick off the summer movie season (in April?) and pocketed a tidy $93 million dollars even before I sat down in my seat. This isn’t another one of them. It’s just a few thoughts I had that aren’t spoilers, but one might be “spoilerish.”

Saw the fuck out of the flick on Sunday. It’s really good, though I wouldn’t go so far as some to call it “Marvel’s Dark Knight.” Pump ya brakes and slow ya roll.   It is a fun time in the dark, but there’s no Heath Ledger performance anywhere in sight. Certainly not from the Winter Soldier.

If Kevin Feige reads this, it is time for a Black Widow movie. I was surprised by how much screen time Scarlett Johannson had but this was far and away her best turn as Natasha Romanoff. If we wait for DC to finally give Wonder Woman her shot, we’ll be waiting around for another five years or so. I’m convinced the audience will turn out for Black Widow kicking ass in her own movie.

Come on, Kev. Make it happen!

DC/Warner Bros. is in a completely reactive mode where they have squandered their advantages of having a line of iconic super heroes, yet have utterly and completely failed to exploit that edge into successful franchise films without Batman or Superman.

Over the next two years movies featuring Marvel properties include The Amazing Spider-Man 2, X-Men: Days of Future Past and the Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man(?!) and The Avengers: Age of Ultron all up and taking swings at box office supremacy before Superman vs. Batman finally get up to deck in 2016. Two years with nothing to offer is an eternity for a genre of films that has to peak sometime (but hasn’t as of yet).

Oh, and Captain America 3 is already claiming the same 2016 opening week as Supes vs. Bats (does Cap die and Bucky/Winter Soldier pick up the shield as it played out in the comics?). You would think Marvel has to be nuts to go mano a mano against DC’s biggest guns, but they claimed the release date first.

Both of these 500 pound gorillas can’t occupy the same weekend without one being severely wounded by the other. Someone is going to blink and move out of this opening week and I’m willing to bet it will be the one that already moved once already.

Cap ain't afraid of no Superman and his Bat-Buddy either.

Cap ain’t afraid of no Superman and his Bat-Buddy either.

I would expect in a head-to-head competition, Captain America 3 would falter against the joint might of Superman-Batman-Wonder Woman and whomever else the hell DC stuffs into the movie, but if blunts their box office momentum and it doesn’t open to somewhere in the $100 million range, Warner Brothers will need real superheroes to catch all the falling bodies being tossed out of hi-rise office towers.

The trap DC is in is they have bet their entire superhero film future on one movie. This movie can’t underperform or fall short the way Man of Steel did which barely edged out Thor: The Dark World in profitability.    If you’re a Superman fan, how does a Thunder God most people associate with their high school class on mythology give the Last Son of Krypton a run for the money?

It’s because Marvel has followed a plan to build a universe where even it’s “B”list characters can battle DC’s “A” list heroes to a virtual draw.

Marvel has been able to load its gun with several bullets so even if  Thor misses they still have Iron Man, Captain America, and The Avengers locked and loaded with more possibilities for The Hulk, Hawkeye, Black Widow and the Falcon. Marvel mastermind Kevin Feige says they have their movies planned out to 2028! The fact that actors like Sebastian Stan (Bucky/Winter Soldier) are signed to do six to nine pictures makes it clear than when Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans and others “age out” or are done slipping on the spandex, the franchises will go on and on and on…

I don’t see a similar game plan from DC/Warner. They are dealing with a recast Batman, David Goyer and Zack Snyder turned loose without a Christopher Nolan to reign in their worst excesses (and Nolan disagreed with their decision to have Superman kill Zod).

Nolan is gone to pursue his own vision and while the hope is Snyder/Goyer will successfully set up a Justice League franchise it all hinges on Supes/Bats doing billion dollar business.

It could all come together as planned. But if it doesn’t DC isn’t as well-positioned as Marvel to overcome a cinematic setback.

As for Captain America: The Winter Solider, it’s really good. Easily the best superhero movie I’ve seen since The Avengers. Chris Evans has really grown into the role of Steve Rogers/Captain America. Anthony Mackie’s Falcon is good. Samuel Jackson finally gets to do more as Nick Fury than stand around and glower. Scarlett Johannson surprised me in how central her role was in my enjoyment of the flick.

I give it a solid “B+” and I’d take my wife with me for a second viewing.

"Let's tell Disney to give you your own film right now!"

“Let’s tell Disney to give you your own film right now!”

 

 

 

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Bat Affleck? The Internet Does Not Approve.

And a million nerds wailed in rage and impotent fury!

Ben Affleck is your new Batman.   In the summer of  2015, Superman will throw down with the multiple Academy Award winner.   This may not be the hero Gotham wanted but it is the hero it is going to get now and the Internet handled the news in its usual calm,  mature and reasoned way.

NERD RAGE!  BEN AFFLECK?   NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

Their wrath took shape as a petition on Change.org declaring:   His acting skill is not even close to being believable as Bruce Wayne and he won’t do the role justice. He’s not built, nor is he intimidating enough for the role of Batman. His portrayal of Daredevil was atrocious and he’s not remotely close to an action star. Please find someone else.

The petition has close to 50,000 signatures and that is close to 50,000 people who seriously need to get a life.

Twitter started trending as soon as the news broke and the best comment I read was in reaction to the irrational hateration, “There is no one who could have played Batman that the internet would have liked. The internet hates things. It’s what the internet does.”

Which isn’t completely true.  If Warner Brothers had been able to get Christian Bale to put back on the Bat-suit for another turn or been able to get Joseph Gordon-Levett to put it on at all, The internet would be VERY happy.

If I were an executive at Warner Brothers, I would be high-fiving every hand in sight over the Internet losing its collective SHIT about the Affleck-as-Batman “controversy.”

It is a bad idea to make any decisions based upon what the Internet does or does not like.  The Internet liked Snakes On A Plane and you see how well that turned out.   Heeding the advice of someone who knows what is in every compartment of Batman’s utility belt and Aunt Harriet’s last name but has never produced, written, directed or raised one dime to make a summer tent pole film is probably not the smart move to make.

The same fanboys who are bitching relentlessly today are the same ones whom in 2015 will have their moms drive them to the multiplex on the opening night of “Superman vs. Batman” where they will buy a giant tub of popcorn, soak it in faux butter, buy a 40 oz Coke and plant their asses in the first row so they can bitch relentlessly how bad Affleck is as Batman.

Just remember this:  As Gawker points out, the Internet hated the announcement of Heath Ledger as the Joker too.

Seems to me that turned out pretty much okay.

I’m sure Affleck will be fine.   All he has to do is be better than Daredevil.

How hard could that be?   Bat… Ben Affleck addressed the angry hordes amassed against him.

You’ll hunt me. You’ll condemn me. Set the dogs on me. Because that’s what needs to happen.  You have nothing, nothing to threaten me with. Nothing to do with all your strength. I like this job – I like it!  And… here… we… go!

Superman Had To Destroy Metropolis To Save It

“You talkin’ to me?”

As far as summer blockbusters go, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked the relaunching of the Superman movie franchise by the Zack Snyder directed and Christopher Nolan produced Man of Steel.   Among the movies of the summer it falls only slightly behind Iron Man 3, but leaps with a single bound over the bloated and soulless Star Trek: Enter Darkness.

For a 75-year old hero, Henry Cavill’s Superman doesn’t quite charm the way Christopher Reeve did when he slipped on the red-and-blue uniform, but Cavill will definitely get a second and probably more chances to slip on the suit (sans the red undies) in future sequels.   Warner Brothers and DC Comics desperately needed a big hit to get them back in the game against the multitude of Marvel movies and with Nolan done with his Batman trilogy,  Man of Steel gets them back in the game.    The trick will be to have as much luck in getting other DC comic book heroes onto the screen, but with the big box office grosses of Man of Steel it should be up, up and away for future franchises.

Between the men of steel and iron, once again comic book movies dominate at the box office.   There are a lot of things I love about Man of Steel,  but boy does it take itself seriously.  That’s the Nolan touch at work because the Dark Knight flicks didn’t have much of a sense of humor either.   If Superman Returns was ripped for being boring as hell, Man of Steel goes for jaw-dropping spectacle and an extended showdown between Superman and his nemesis, General Zod (a glowering Michael Shannon)  that ups the ante for sheer devastation that The Avengers‘ trashing of New York City can’t begin to touch.   That’s where my big problem with Man of Steel begins and be warned that there are major SPOILERS from this point on, so if you haven’t seen the movie, bail out here.

Even fantasy flicks have to follow logic, if not necessarily realism and logic says if two superhumans go to war in the heart of a city and wreak massive devastation and destruction in the process, there will be a body count and you would run out of toe tags and body bags once  you pulling them out of the ruins of Metropolis.

“You like prison movies, Zod?” “NOOOOOOOOOOOOO….”

Merely because we are discussing/debating a fantasy character in a summer popcorn flick, it doesn’t mean we can totally suspend disbelief.  Tom Clancy said it true when he observed, “The difference between truth and fiction? Fiction has to make sense.”  The bloodless catastrophe that befalls Metropolis in Man of Steel makes no damn sense.

Rather than referencing Man of Steel a much more relevant comparison would be Superman II when Zod gets ready to throw down in the middle of Metropolis, Superman retreats rather than tear up the city.

That’s Superman making the smart move instead of being a dickhead with blood in his eyes and dead bodies everywhere.   I am not the target demographic for this film.  It was made for teenage boys who either do not know of Superman’s moral code against killing or could care less about it.  Youth must be served and because technology has come so far in 33 years when the tagline for Superman was “you will believe a man can fly.”  There are all new ways to make shit blow up real good and maybe that’s good enough for those with no sense of history.  Yet even these movies are designed not only to attract kids, but the parents of the kids as well and they are the ones most likely to be familiar with the original source material and still respect it.

Stuff blowing up real good is not enough for me. Superman not only does not kill, he does not willingly permit innocents to die, but this one does both.  Zod is the one who considers massive expenditures of human life to be “collateral damage,” not Kal-El. If neither of them care then there are no good guys and bad guys here. It’s just bad guy and worse guy.

This is supposed to be a more “realistic” Superman who has no choice but to kill in the absence of any better option, but that’s because Snyder and David Goyer’s screenplay didn’t give him any.

After he snaps Zod’s neck, Supes lets out a “NOOOOOO!!!” but he gets over it real quick.    There’s no consequences to trashing a major city and no remorse for killing his enemy.   Batman tells Ra’s Al Ghul, “I’m not going to kill you, but I don’t have to save you” in Batman Begins.    Superman says,  “Guess I have to kill you since I can’t figure out any way to stop you.”

Superman’s philosophy used to be “truth, justice and the American way” when it was Christopher Reeve with the “S” on his chest. When did it become “I had to destroy Metropolis to save it?”

Superman is a super hero and super heroes find another way. He can do what takes some imagination or say “ain’t nobody got time for that” and just snap the bastard’s neck. Problem solved, right?

Except I don’t want Superman killing Lex Luthor, Doomsday, Bizarro, Brainiac or anybody else that decides to mess with the “S” because it’s the quick and easy fix and Superman just really digs snapping necks.  Wolverine and The Punisher already exist to put bad guys to sleep permanently, but neither are “heroes” in the classic sense.  Superman is and he is a hero who does what others can not do or will not do, not just what is expedient.

When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I thought as a child and I read comic books that appealed to me as a child. When I became a young man I put away childish things including Superman, Batman, Spider-Man and superheroes like that because it stopped making sense to me why someone like Batman would do this endless, repetitive dance with The Joker where the guy escapes from Arkham Asylum (again), kills a ton of innocent people (again), Batman beats him up and throws his ass back into Arkham (again) and six months later we start the whole damn thing all over again.

It was an endless cycle of stupid that made no sense. Garth Ennis’ character of Tommy Monaghan, the Hitman took on a contract to kill the Joker and blamed Batman for enabling the Joker’s murderous sprees because he wouldn’t kill the Clown Prince of Crime saying, “A sensible man would have done it years ago.”.

Superman is blessed with enough powers and abilities that he doesn’t have to kill his enemies. He finds another way because that’s what he does.

That has worked for 75 years. One movie with a revisionist streak doesn’t mean what always worked before doesn’t work anymore.

“Bring me The Avengers and I’ll kick all their asses!”

The Dark Knight Rises But Falls Short of Greatness

Batman vs. Bane: whose voice is harder to understand?

Some spoiler-free thoughts about The Dark Knight Rises

1.  It makes me want to watch The Dark Knight again.
2.  Christopher Nolan makes some long-ass movies.
3.  It ties up Nolan’s Batman trilogy in a big bow.
4.  Epic length does not make an epic movie.
5.  It’s no Avengers.

It was awfully generous of Christian Bale as the hero to defer to Heath Ledger’s Oscar-winning performance as The Joker in the last movie.  He’s not as charitable with Tom Hardy’s Bane.  It’s unfair to compare Bane with The Joker, but I will anyway.  The Joker’s plan (and lack of one) in The Dark Knight makes far more sense than Bane’s scheme, which makes no damn sense.

This was a superhero summer what with the The Avengers which finished off what five previous Marvel movies began, the “ready or not and like it or not, we’re rebooting The Amazing Spider-Man and The Dark Knight Rises.

I’m just like Catwoman, but don’t call me Catwoman.

Now I’m out super-heroed OUT.  I am not looking forward with breathless anticipation for Iron Man 3,  Thor 2,   Captain America 2 and I definitely do not even a little bit about Man of Steel because Superman sucks ass.   Zack Snyder shot his creative wad with Dawn of the Dead.  Everything after that?  300, Watchmen, and Sucker Punch have their fans, but include me out.  I’ve had quite enough of CGI and bombast, thank you.  Now I’d like something simple like Beasts of the Southern Wild, thank you very much.

Good things about The Dark Knight Rises:  Christian Bale suffers well.  Anne Hardaway and Marion Cotilliard are major assets as much as Maggie Gyllenhaal and Katie Holmes were major whiffs.  Gary Oldman is the underrated link between all three pictures.   The big set pieces (and the third act is nothing but big set pieces) work great.  Nolan is on top of his game here.   The movie is ambitious and it delivers on most of its ambitions.

Bad things about The Dark Knight Rises:  Tom Hardy had the thankless task of following Ledger’s performance and while he bulked up physically to play Bane, he can’t make him an interesting character or foe.   Hans Zimmer’s score got on my nerves.   Nolan still hasn’t figured out how to choreograph a convincing fight scenes.  Almost all the “surprises” aren’t surprising at all.   There are too many scenes that “tell” instead of “show” and raise questions of “Wait…how did that happen?”   There is just too much going on in a movie that goes on too long at two hours and 45 minutes.

I have some problems with The Dark Knight Rises.  I liked it, but I don’t love it.  It’s better than Batman Begins but it can’t touch The Dark Knight (no shock there).   It’s deep, but it’s not much fun.   Batman inhabits a much different (and uglier) world than The Avengers.   Nolan doesn’t play scenes for laughs the way Joss Whedon does.   This is a movie with far more serious things on its mind than alien invasions and scheming demi-gods getting their ass kicked by green-skinned gamma monsters.

 Gotham City is a bleak, grim and unhappy place and its hero is every bit as bleak, grim and unhappy and I don’t think Nolan gives a crap if his movie is more “entertaining” or not.  He’s a serious man making a serious movie.   This is a hero who wants to feared, not cheered.  He prefers to suffer the hatred and suspicion of those he’s sworn to protect.  Batman wouldn’t know what to do with crowds cheering him for saving the day.  Nolan has elevated what a comic book movie can be.  Under his vision of Batman he has shown how you can take an utterly ridiculous concept and make audiences not only lose themselves in the world of the Dark Knight, but not even question its probability.

Nolan avoided doing a Spider-Man 3 and making a jumbled movie with tons of money and no coherent story.   The Dark Knight Rises is a labor of love and it shows.   But not all those labors work successfully and that shows as well.

Is Coming Out Gay Just Another Comic Book Stunt?

Astonishing Gay X-Men?

To be a man in your fifth decade and still reading comics is slightly embarrassing and that was reinforced when sitting next to my 13-year-old nephew at The Avengers and realizing I’ve forgotten more about every major character in the movie than he will ever know (or care) about.

I gave up comics this year.  I didn’t give up buying them every so often.  Old habits do die-hard.  I just took myself out of the never-ending cycle of 52 Wednesdays a year burning up gas and spending money to bring home another $20 to $40 worth of four-color funny books that after being read once or twice end up in filling storage bins in my basement.    Throw in the ridiculous cost ($3.99 for something that used to cost 12 cents) and giving comics up wasn’t a tough call.

I still read comic books.  Most of them are my brother’s “New 52” line from DC Comics.   Last year, fueled by desperation as much as inspiration, DC zeroed out its existing universe and rebooted their line with  brand new Number One issues, new costumes for Superman and his other super-friends and in doing so generated a buzz that garnered a ton of favorable coverage from the mainstream media and the interest and excitement of fans.

That’s how you create a buzz about comics.  You come up with a stunt.  Kill Superman and bring him back.  Kill Captain America and bring him back.  Kill Batman and…are you starting to see a pattern here?

Anyway,  The New 52 worked great.   DC knocked industry leader Marvel on its backside and out of the top spot, which for as minimal comic books have on pop culture is like being the tallest pygmy.   Movies based on comic books are big business.  Comic books themselves struggle to sell 75,000 copies a month, but DC is owned by TimeWarner and Marvel by Disney and they could give a shit if Superman sells in the thousands or in the dozens.  What their comic book companies contribute to ledger sheets of  their corporate masters wouldn’t pay for a week’s worth of office supplies.

What Disney and TimeWarner care about are the comic book properties.  You think they give a toot in a tornado about a damn comic book when one Friday evening of The Avengers puts more cash in The Mouse House’s pocket than 40 years Avengers comic books.

“Dick, have you ever been in a Turkish prison?”

The New 52 was a great hook, but it wasn’t a revolutionary concept.  Many of the same artists and writers whose lousy stories ran the company into a ditch were now being tapped to pull it out.  Zeroing out their universe and starting from scratch liberated DC from decades of confusing and convoluted comic continuity .   Continuity is important to the educated in comics lore fan base, but their numbers are too small and the demographic too old for Hollywood to give a shit if a geek gets upset because Superman no longer wears his underwear on the outside.  The purpose of comic books are to provide concepts that can be mined by movie studios and turned into movie franchises. DC has failed to successfully follow Marvel in making the transition from comic book company to feeder system for million-dollar movies.

It no longer matters what happens in comics.  Not that it really ever did, but particularly not now.  Spider-Man, Batman and Iron Man generate millions in ticket sales and that second life on the silver screen means whatever happens to them in their paper and staples form don’t mean a thing.

What’s left for comic books?  Stunts.  Tricks.  Big cataclysmic events that shake up the status quo, shatter worlds, and change everything as we know.  Then six months later someone comes along and changes it all back.

The newest stunt:  Make someone gay everyone thought was straight or take a second or third-string hero and marry him off.   To his boyfriend.   HEY KIDS! GAY COMICS!

Marvel is allowing Northstar, their French-Canadian mutant speedster to marry his Black boyfriend.  Gay and interracial marriage?  Two taboos broken for the price of one.

DC’s response?  Follow the leader and announce a “major” character will come out the closet as a gay man.

Gay supporting characters and even gay heroes aren’t new.  Northstar has been out for years.  DC’s Wildstorm imprint featured a openly gay couple named Apollo and The Midnighter who were overt Superman/Batman stand-ins.   But their love affair ended when they were incorporated into the DC mainstream.  Odd that there weren’t many protests from the continuity-obsessed fans about that reboot.

Not Superman and Batman, but just like them.

Who will come out of the comic book closet?  It could be Batman.  It should be Batman.  But because it’s both so obvious and so perfect it won’t be Batman.  Batman is now on his third or fourth Robin.  He just keeps picking up young boys to be his “partner.”  What would you call a billionaire who’s never married, only uses women as props, enjoys dressing up head to toe in leather and prefers the company of athletic youths?

One of Bats current writers, Grant Morrison, fessed up in Playboy  the Dark Knight”s antenna isn’t picking up the wavelength of the opposite sex.

“He’s very plutonian in the sense that he’s wealthy and also in the sense that he’s sexually deviant,” Morrison said. “Gayness is built into Batman. I’m not using gay in the pejorative sense, but Batman is very, very gay. There’s just no denying it. Obviously as a fictional character he’s intended to be heterosexual, but the basis of the whole concept is utterly gay.”

“I think that’s why people like it. All these women fancy him and they all wear fetish clothes and jump around rooftops to get to him. He doesn’t care — he’s more interested in hanging out with the old guy and the kid.”

As someone with no skin in the game, I’m all for gay fans of comics being represented with gay characters they can relate to   An openly homosexual hero isn’t going to corrupt a kid’s mind anymore than most of the other crap DC and Marvel poop out every Wednesday.

Just don’t stop there.  Let’s see what happens when a gay superhero faces discrimination from a straight superhero who doesn’t want to team up with him.  Instead of fighting alien invaders, let’s have the Justice League or Avengers take on a homophobic hate group.

There have always been gay themes in comics as long as there have been comics.  It was just nodded and winked at and never spoken of in a serious way.   This feels like the latest in a long line of contrived stunts the major companies engage in passing it off as being socially conscious.   We’ll see if DC and Marvel are as seriously committed to their “evolution” as gay couples are to getting married.

Don’t look for the happy couple in the next X-Men movie.

Frank Miller’s Unholy Mess

That's right comic book geeks. I get the ladies!

I have to say I haven’t given Frank Miller much more than a passing thought in 17 years.  I read most of tAll-Star Batman & Robin which seemed to be written as a twisted parody of his own The Dark Knight Returns and seemed to ask, “What if the Caped Crusader were crazier than any bad guy he fought?”    I liked Robert Rodriguez’s take on Miller’s Sin City as perhaps the most faithful adaptation of a comic book ever put on film.  Yet to say I’ve actually given any serious thought about Miller, I’d have to say I haven’t I reviewed the craven cash-grab that was Spawn/Batman for The Comics Journal in 1994.

Miller oozed back into my consciousness a few months ago with the release of his long-delayed Holy Terror, where The Fixer, a Batman stand-in (who was Batman before DC Comics decided they didn’t want one of their signature characters torturing and murdering Al Qaeda terrorists) takes bloody revenge against the perpetrators of 9/11.  I haven’t read Holy Terror and at a whopping $30 for the hardcover have no intentions of doing so and particularly not when it’s been on the receiving end of some of the worst reviews of Miller’s career.

Other comic writers couldn’t resist piling on as Grant Morrison did when he said, “Batman vs. Al Qaeda! It might as well be Bin Laden vs. King Kong! Or how about the sinister Al Qaeda mastermind up against a hungry Hannibal Lecter! For all the good it’s likely to do. Cheering on a fictional character as he beats up fictionalized terrorists seems like a decadent indulgence when real terrorists are killing real people in the real world. I’d be so much more impressed if Frank Miller gave up all this graphic novel nonsense, joined the Army and, with a howl of undying hate, rushed headlong onto the front lines with the young soldiers who are actually risking life and limb ‘vs’ Al Qaeda.”

One sure-fire way to stand up for your Islamic bitch slap of a book is to pick a fight and that’s what Miller did.  He took to his blog and ripped into the Occupy Wall Street protestors calling them “losers,” “pond scum” and “nothing but a pack of louts, thieves and rapists.”

The “Occupy” movement, whether displaying itself on Wall Street or in the streets of Oakland (which has, with unspeakable cowardice, embraced it) is anything but an exercise of our blessed First Amendment. “Occupy” is nothing but a pack of louts, thieves, and rapists, an unruly mob, fed by Woodstock-era nostalgia and putrid false righteousness. These clowns can do nothing but harm America.

Batman needs his dirty mouth washed out with Bat-soap.

“Occupy” is nothing short of a clumsy, poorly-expressed attempt at anarchy, to the extent that the “movement” — HAH! Some “movement”, except if the word “bowel” is attached – is anything more than an ugly fashion statement by a bunch of iPhone, iPad wielding spoiled brats who should stop getting in the way of working people and find jobs for themselves.

This is no popular uprising. This is garbage. And goodness knows they’re spewing their garbage — both politically and physically — every which way they can find. 

Wake up, pond scum. America is at war against a ruthless enemy.

Maybe, between bouts of self-pity and all the other tasty tidbits of narcissism you’ve been served up in your sheltered, comfy little worlds, you’ve heard terms like al-Qaeda and Islamicism.

And this enemy of mine — not of yours, apparently – must be getting a dark chuckle, if not an outright horselaugh – out of your vain, childish, self-destructive spectacle.

In the name of decency, go home to your parents, you losers. Go back to your mommas’ basements and play with your Lords Of Warcraft. [sic]

Or better yet, enlist for the real thing. Maybe our military could whip some of you into shape.

When did the guy who wrote 300 start sounding like Pamela Geller?   When did he become an ardent Islamophobe?

What are you?  Retarded?  He’s the goddamn Frank Miller!

Anyone who’s never heard of Miller has no reason to care what he has to say about Occupy Wall Street but it’s just another step in Miller’s devolution from a gifted artist and writer into a demented loon telling those darn kids to get off his yawn.

Miller is behind great stuff like his first run on Daredevil, his terrific return with Born Again,
The Dark Knight Returns, Hard Boiled with Geoff Darrow’s elaborate art and Batman: Year One.  On any short list of the greatest talents ever to work in the comic medium,  Miller’s name must be in the Top Ten.

Wonder what happened to that guy?  Seems like he crawled into a bottle of gin and crawled back out as “Mickey Spillane’s Frank Miller” and started babbling about dames, booze and punks.

If Miller hates and fears Muslim Jihadists he’s entitled to be as paranoid as he wants.  You have to divorce his body of work from his repellent personality and bigoted beliefs.  Otherwise you’re going to find it difficult to support a talented, but otherwise awful human being.

Miller once wrote about living in New York City, “You gotta take the good with the bad and sometimes there’s an awful lot of bad.”

Did he know he was talking about himself as well?

Holy Terror? More like an ungodly mess.