Tuesday, April 24, 2012

We're Almost There...

     This has never been done before. I mean this is something different, we have never seen anything like this. Since the release of the first Ironman film in 2008, the geniuses at Marvel studios had been cooking up quite a plan, a plan to join Ironman with the other heroes of the Marvel Universe. After Tony’s first meeting with Nick Fury after the credits of Ironman, every Marvel film afterwards was set in the same world and geared with the same theme, the creation and evolution of “The Avengers Initiative”. Four years in the making, five different films, “earth’s greatest heroes” and we are just two weeks away from superhero history.

     It all began with the birth of Ironman in 2008. After performing several heroic stunts and attracting the media, Tony is approached by Agent Colson, of the Strategic Homeland Interven- you know what I mean. After revealing himself to be the ironclad hero in front of the whole world, Tony is paid a quick visit by the director of SHIELD himself, Nick Fury (who first mentions the Avengers). Later that year The Incredible Hulk was released, which was originally thought to be a sequel to the movie in 2003, but of coarse it wasn’t. The only references made to the Avengers in this film was the use of a serum, resembling the super-solider serum (which Captain America would use later in the Marvel films) and the appearance of Tony Stark, SHIELD’s newest consultant (the events of this Hulk movie were later revealed to have taken place after the events of Ironman 2).

Saturday, April 21, 2012

2002: Spider-man Coming Soon! Ten Years Later...

     Wouldn’t you know, another “Spiderman 1” is set to release in just a couple months, one more reason to look forward to summer, but is it too soon for another “Spiderman 1”? Will it be too much like the 2002 version with just a bit of subplot changes? Will it live up to its incredible hype? I think the biggest question of all is will it be better then the original?

     Sure, a lot has changed in ten years. Writers appear to have writing good superhero movies down pat and with all the advancements in special/ visual effects you can pretty much do anything, well, a hell of a lot more then you could in 2002, but is the emotional excitement there? Will it be as mentally thrilling for a fan to watch? I say no. Lets rotate the clocks back about ten years. There were many great superhero films in the past: the Christopher Reeve Superman films, the Batman films from the 90’s (half of them anyway) and most recently, the first X-men film. Now don’t get me wrong, X-men was the first superhero film of the 21st century and it was great, but there was something about the release of a Spiderman film that got people talking. Maybe it was because Spiderman was a fan-favorite or maybe something entirely different, but the movie’s release didn’t break box office records because of nothing.

     Spiderman, as we all know, is one of the most relatable characters ever created. Just a regular teenager with regular problems. Every fan that watched that first Spidey movie had been a teenager at some point in their lives or would become one and every person has a different set of problems. Not every fan watching the movie was rich, or owned his own company or was an alien from another planet, so I think that’s where most of the appeal came from. The 2002 Spiderman paved way for tones of superhero films that followed, it inspired writers to create and recreate other characters like Batman and Ironman for a new generation of fans and I would put the original Spiderman up there as one of the best superhero movies ever. I just don’t think that The Amazing Spiderman has that power and I don’t think its ready for all the responsibility.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Top 5 Of Batman Beyond

     Batman Beyond was a completely original idea created by the classic team of producers and writers that worked on all of our other DC animated favorites. Set in the future of the Batman: Animated Series universe, we get a unique glimpse at Bruce Wayne, roughly 80 years-old, training the determined teenager, Terry McGinnis, into the role of Batman. Along with a new Batman comes a roster of new villains. In an interview with the show’s creators, they stressed that they wanted to stay away from doing “Two-Face Beyond” or “Riddler Beyond” and use new faces that we haven’t seen before. The series was a fantastic idea that wowed audiences of all ages and quickly became an animated icon. I have pulled together my Top 5 episodes from all three seasons of Batman Beyond.

5. Meltdown
     I know I just mentioned that the creators wanted to stay away from villains of the past, but the return of Mr. Freeze gave this episode the number five spot on my list. To see the character of Mr. Freeze revamped into the world of Batman Beyond was very cool, to say the least. His new suit allowed Mr. Freeze to fire his ice beams from his hands instead of forcing him to rely on his freezing gun. This new installment to his suit made Freeze one of the deadliest villains this new Batman faced in the entire series. But he wasn’t the only villain causing trouble for Batman; Blight (Derek Powers, co-owner of Wayne Industries in the future) who originally helped to rebuild Freeze, betrays him and tries to destroy him. While the ultimate struggle between fire and ice was amazing, the controversy over Victor Fries’ reformed sense of life made for some great arguments between Bruce and Terry. While Terry believed Fries had really changed from his evil ways, Bruce still saw him as a danger to those around him. In the end they were both right.
Favorite Moment: Mr. Freeze traps Powers in a large block of ice, but he soon escapes due to his heat-like abilities and confronts the master of ice as the master of fire, Blight.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Top 5 DC Animated Films

      June 12 marks the DVD release for Super VS. The Elite, the next film in the DC Animated Movies. With the next film on the way, I’ve taken a look at the previous 12 movies (excluding Justice League: Doom due to the fact that I’m still waiting to purchase the 2-disc special edition) and I have chosen my favorite five.

5. Batman: Under The Red Hood
     The intro is based on the Death In The Family storyline with the death of Jason Todd at the hands of the Joker. The plot was incredible with a lot of different action scenes and , like every good Batman story, a mystery, which was who the Red Hood was and what his real intentions were. It had a lot of depth with villains like Joker, Ra’s Al Ghul, Black Mask and the Red Hood, all with their own intentions to either control Gotham City’s criminal underworld or destroy Batman. But the Caped Crusader would not have to fight them alone, at least for the most part. Nightwing assists in Batman’s defeat of the machine called Amazo and helps track down and chase the Red Hood until he accidentally breaks his ankle and pretty much disappears for the remainder of the film. Under The Red Hood gathered a good group of characters that worked well together, took a classic Batman story and reworked it a bit and ended up with a great animated movie.
Favorite Moment: Batman recalls the moment when he met Jason Todd in crime alley. The scene right before his rooftop battle with the Red Hood.

4. Superman: Doomsday
     Almost every single one of these DC animated movies is based on a popular DC comic series or graphic novel, and for this first film in the series, that is completely true. Superman: Doomsday takes the highlights from “The Death Of Superman” storyline from the early 1990’s. The killing machine known as Doomsday has made it’s way to Earth’s surface and battles the Man Of Steel. Superman is eventually able to defeat the monster, but only by sacrificing himself. A funeral is held in his honor and several months pass before his “return”. Unlike the comic book, which featured the arrival of four different Supermen, the movie only features one Superman clone. The Death Of Superman is the best-selling Superman comic book ever, so it was an excellent choice for the writers of the animated film to recreate that for their first movie.
Favorite Moment: Superman sacrifices his own life to put an end to Doomsday’s destruction by plummeting them both to Earth’s surface, creating a large crater with the monster at its center.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Batman's History In Animation

      In wake of recent news of Batman receiving yet another animated series, I thought I would pay tribute to the Caped Crusader’s history in cartoon television.

The Superfriends
         In the early 1970’s, Hanna Barbara created the widely popular superhero show, which featured many heroes from the DC Universe including the Dynamic Duo. The Superfriends had a large variety of incarnations over the years, with different names such as “Challenge Of The Superfriends”, “The Superfriends Hour”, “Galactic Guardians” and many more. The show was a huge success and attracted a lot of young audience members due to its upbeat and somewhat corny portrayal of the heroes. The Superfriends is still considered today to be a classic series in DC’s television history.

The New Adventures Of Batman
         Created several years after the Superfriends run, this series lasted only one season, but was unique for having the voice talents of Adam West and Burt Ward to play the Dynamic Duo (they also played those roles in the live-action 1966 Batman show). This series saw the introduction of Bat-Mite as a main member of the Bat-Family, confrontations with classic foes like the Joker, Penguin and Mr. Freeze and Batgirl even guest-starred in a few episodes. At the end of each episode, the Caped Crusaders would give a “Bat-Message” about respect or morals, which always related to the theme of that particular episode.

Batman: The Animated Series
         I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this is the best animated series of all time. Created just after Tim Burton’s second Batman film, the show’s creators had a lot of references to choose from when they made their darker, serious, more detective skilled Batman. The series had great animation and retold a lot of the villains’ origins including Two-Face and Mr. Freeze, changing them and making their back stories more realistic. Robin (Dick Grayson), Alfred and Commissioner Gordon were three key supporting characters, each bringing a unique set of skills to aid the Dark Knight in his war on crime. By the third season characters like Batgirl, Ra’s Al Ghul and Bane were introduced and by the fourth season the creators had revamped the look of the show, matching the style with Superman: The Animated Series, which aired at the same time. In the fourth and final season Dick Grayson became Nightwing and Tim Drake took over the role as Robin and Batgirl was informed of all their secret identities. Overall, it was an iconic part of Batman’s history, not just cartoons, but everything (for more info on Batman: The Animated Series, check out my top 5 episodes of each season in earlier articles).