Saturday, September 29, 2012

Avengers 2: What Can We Expect From A Billion Dollar Movie's Sequel?

Some spoilers follow:
      As everyone whose seen The Avengers and had the good sense to stay a while longer after the initial credits should know, Thanos will be the next villain in the film franchise. Thanos was an alien called The Mad Titan in the comics and sought the destructive power of a mystical device called the Infinity Gauntlet, a weapon briefly seen in the Asgardian weapons chamber in Thor. We will most likely see his power-hungry quest for the Gauntlet as the Avengers try to stop him. Along with Thanos comes the rest of the Shitari, the aliens from the first film, which hints at yet another alien invasion.
     The Ant-Man film has been officially announced and is currently in pre-production. Its expected release is before the Avengers sequel. This assumes the Ant-Man film will introduce its title hero: Hank Pym along with his wife Janet Pym, the Wasp (two of the original team members from the comics). If the movie is a hit there is no doubt the two characters will be integrated into Avengers 2 to join the original cast of heroes and possibly more additions.
     The three main heroes of the Avengers are announced to have sequels of their own and are already in production of some of them. These movies, however, are not meant to continue from the Avengers directly. Each film’s storyline does take place shortly after the events of the Avengers, but will focus solely on the individual hero. This will give a chance for the creators and writers to explore the heroes outside of the team-up atmosphere and frees the films from having continuity between them, something that was needed in their first films.
      In an alternate ending to the first film, viewable in the special features, shows us Maria Hill meeting the council on her own. The scene suggests she has taken the role of acting head of SHIELD away from Nick Fury (a story choice made in recent comics). Seeing as how Hill was not too fond of the Avengers Initiative in the first place, who knows how this change of management with SHIELD will affect their relation with the team in the sequel.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Justice League: Fantasy Roster

      Speculation increases, as time draws us closer to the expected release of the Justice League film in 2015, as to what the exact lineup of heroes will be. Factoring together obvious names, heroes that could co-exist, and characters right for the times, I’ve comprised a short list of heroes who could be featured in the film:

Clark Kent/ Superman:
      The Man Of Steel movie has been announced as the last DC film until 2015. This begs the question as to whether DC will follow the route of the Avengers franchise, by featuring most characters in a solo film first, or jump right into JL in 2015. Rumors aim towards the ladder, which makes me realize that Superman may be the main character out of the team, as he should be. Much like Ironman who received two films while his fellow heroes only received one prior to Avengers, Superman may be the star of the show in JL if he is in fact the only one getting a solo film before it.  The movie may feature some recruiting making Superman the recruiter being the only hero that will “exist” at the beginning of the film.
      While Batman and the Flash have the larger rogue’s galleries, Superman’s are more built for planetary destruction, which could pose a threat to the entire team. Zod is the announced villain for the Man Of Steel leaving some choices like Brainiac, Darkseid and Apokolips or Mongul and War World. If Superman’s villains are used in the movie then he will undoubtedly be the central focus. While the idea of an attack from Apokolips or War World would be a spectacle to behold on the big screen, I think they should stay away from the “invasion” motif (to which the Avengers used) and perhaps create stories more emotional and self-involving (meaning the only alien planet mentioned should be Krypton, and maybe Oa). I’ve always envisioned a battle with Superman and the rest of the JL. Perhaps Superman (under mind control, Poison Ivy dust etc.) becomes an enemy of the JLA and is forced to battle his teammates. The Red Son?! That would be more engaging to fans then just a big alien invasion. We’ll see.

Diana Prince/ Wonderwoman:
      As much as I enjoy the fact they may be skipping the solo films to jump directly into JL, I feel that Wonderwoman’s origin is one of the many that shouldn’t be rushed. A summary should at least be made if that’s the case, but to save a lot of time I thin k she should already “exist” when the movie begins but maybe arrives in the “man’s world” for the first time. The casting for her part will need to be precise. I strong female price is needed considering she is the only female member of the League. So the guys who say, “Megan Fox would be an awesome Wonderwoman” are wrong. Seeing as she is the second strongest character of the team her role in the film’s battles will be pivotal especially if Superman does turn out to be the main adversary. But that is all speculation at this point.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Batman In a State of Flux: Modernization (Part 3 of 3)

“Oh, you. You just couldn't let me go, could you? This is what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. You truly are incorruptible, aren't you? You won't kill me out of some misplaced sense of self-righteousness. And I won't kill you because you're just too much fun… I think you and I are destined to do this forever.”

-       The Joker, The Dark Knight

     Critically acclaimed writer Jeph Loeb teams up with artist-legend Jim Lee to create Batman Hush, a two-part story that takes the vigilante on a crusade through Gotham, meeting the majority of his rogue’s gallery along the way. The pace was fast. It seemed as though every page, every panel, was dealing with an entirely different predicament, which would all link up by the end of the book. The first book focused on Batman battling such foes as Poison Ivy and Killer Croc, as well as having some aid from Oracle and Huntress. The book ends with a climactic showdown between Batman and Superman; an obvious nod to Frank Millar’s The Dark Knight Returns. Hush was renowned for having many supporting heroes and villains, but more so for giving each character a specific purpose in the story. Anyone who entered the story had something of importance to contribute to it. 
        Part two is where things started to heat up, as Batman forms an alliance with Catwoman in order to stop the Joker and Harley Quinn. The side-story in the second part showed us quick flashes of Bruce’s childhood with his parents and his childhood friend. After all the excitement and thrills, Batman is left to face his newest villain, the title character, Hush. After the book’s release, fans went crazy over the detail and representation of pretty much everything in the story, but it was Jim Lee’s incredible artwork that really shined and allowed the books to reach their full potential.

      Just eight years after the end of the Tim Burton/Joel Schumacher film franchise, director Christopher Nolan brings the cinematic Batman back from the grave, in good fashion too. With Christian Bale, Liam Neeson and a large lineup of renowned actors, Batman Begins introduced fans to the modern vigilante of Gotham. While still as dark as the Burton films, Begins added a bit of lightness with clever jokes and a lot of heart. We finally got to see Batman’s origins on the big screen and see just what Bruce Wayne had to go through to become Gotham’s protector. The film also stood on its own by using great special and practical effects that only 21st century technology could provide as well as utilizing new villains, not seen in previous films: Scarecrow and Ra’s Al Ghul and the League of Shadows. With a personal look at the Wayne family, an updated Batman for modern audiences and an action-filled, meaningful film, Batman was back on the big screen and would only get better as time went on.

      Batman sales in comics soared as he was featured in epic stories such as Infinite Crisis, which only increased his popularity. The large addition came in DC’s Final Crisis book, written by Grant Morrison, which saw the return of Darkseid, who has recently gained control of the Anti-Life Equation; the source that allows him to control the minds of others. Slowly he began taking control of the world’s most powerful beings. Batman and the rest of the JLA forged a plan to stop the ruler of Apokolips, which sadly ended with The Dark Knight’s death. Batman was burned to a crisp by Darkseid’s Omega beams, which became the cover image (if you haven’t seen it, it’s the website’s background, just to let you know). The death of Batman not only affected Final Crisis, but virtually all DC stories at that time. Superman stories mentioned his death, and his own stories had to cope and adjust to a world without Batman. A “sequel” to Final Crisis was released, also written by Grant Morrison, titled Batman R.I.P, which shut down any assumptions that he may still be alive. Fans weren’t sure what they would do in a world without Batman. Would this be another remake of the Death Of Superman in ‘93, or were they going to permanently kill of Bruce Wayne forever? Only time would tell, but fans quickly forgot about the troubles in the comics, as the greatest superhero movie of all time was released, The Dark Knight.
    With Christopher Nolan returning to direct the sequel to Batman Begins, The Dark Knight starred Christian Bale as Batman, in an even darker and more depressing story then the first, and Heath Ledger as the Joker, a performance that will go down as one of the most creative and visually astonishing in film history. Ledger used strange mannerisms and a certain tone, which was on par with the Joker from the comics, but original, turning the Joker into what could be viewed as a real person. Something that was hard to imagine with Nicholson’s Joker in Burton’s film. 
     It seemed as though Batman Begins established the new, modern and realistic nature of Batman and The Dark Knight perfected it. We really believed that Batman could exist in that world, and the performances from each actor only contributed to the atmosphere of the film. With unbelievable action sequences, praised performances and a storyline so original and so perfect, The Dark Knight is undeniably the best superhero film of all time, and is up there in movie ratings in general. The film grossed a total of $1,003,045,358 at the box office making it one of the best selling movies of all time (take that Avengers!)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Batman In a State of Flux: The Dark Knight Is Born (Part 2 of 3)


“This should be agony. I should be a mass of aching muscle — broken, spent, unable to move. And, were I an older man, I surely would... But I'm a man of 30 — of 20 again. The rain on my chest is a baptism. I'm born again.”

-       Batman, The Dark Knight Returns

      The Dark Knight Returns, written by Frank Millar was released in a series of issues in 1986, and became one of the best-selling comics of all time. Known for his innovative perspectives of stories and tendency to go beyond the proverbial “norm” of society, Millar had used all of his creative talents and then some to create what is said to be the greatest Batman story ever. The Dark Knight Returns focuses on a 55 year-old Bruce Wayne, forced to come out of retirement to protect Gotham once again, this time from a group of visually altered humans called mutants. Equipped with a new, tank-like Batmobile, a new female Robin and a brand new arsenal of weapons, Batman returns to prove that Gotham will survive as long as he lives.
       Millar’s writing for the piece gave us a view of both Bruce and Batman as old, depressed individuals living with incredible amounts of guilt, unable to move on. While the writing helped fans realize the dark story and serious dialogue, the original penciling, again done by Millar, introduced us to a new looking city and a Batman unlike we’ve ever seen before. The great inking by Klaus Janson and coloring by Lynn Varley helped convey the overall tone. With heavy black ink featured in every page and faded colors it indicated this was no fun place to be.
      As well as battling an army of mutant followers, Batman evaded the police force as well as Superman, both hunting down The Dark Knight for his arrest. Batman also confronted his oldest nemesis the Joker, which added a nice, needed flare to the story that only the Clown Prince of Crime could provide. Comic fans around the world owe Frank Millar a debt of gratitude for providing us with superhero content that ultimately changed the way fans viewed the character of Batman. He wasn’t seen as Batman, the Caped Crusader anymore, he was now known as Batman, The Dark Knight.

       After the success of Frank Millar’s initial take on Batman, people requested more from the writer, so he gave it to them. In the following year Millar wrote Batman: Year One, which dived into the characters origins, adding some subplots and updating the story, as well as providing young fans with a detailed look at his origins who may not have read the original story in Detective Comics. The book was very successful, being written by the biggest writer in comics at that point, it was hard for fans to resist the temptation to read more of Frank Millar’s Batman. The book is most famous for centering on James Gordon, rather then the conventional superhero origin story. Batman’s tale was still used quite well, but most of the situations in the book came from the point of view of Gordon, something that was quite unique in superhero stories.
       Millar’s success with his two books sparked other writers to create a “dark” Batman story of their own. The first, and probably most shocking of the long list of innovations following Millar was The Killing Joke, written by Alan Moore, another successful new writer in that year. Released in 1988, The Killing Joke saw the Joker commit a series of unspeakable, evil deeds, all directed at Commissioner Gordon and his family. The story ultimately ended with the torturing of Gordon and the crippling of Barbara after a gunshot to the stomach. This story inadvertently created a new character for the future DC universe, Oracle: Barbara Gordon, retired from her role of Batgirl and aiding the Dark Knight via com-link.
       By the end of 1988, it was Jim Starlin’s turn to write the next, shocking Batman story. By this point, the role of Robin was assumed by Jason Todd, an older, and more lethal and rebellious teenager who didn’t sit well with some fans. Dennis O’Neil, now an editor at DC realized this about the character and gave the fate of Jason’s future to the fans. They were given the chance to vote as to whether Jason would live or die, and as we all know, A Death In The Family was created and Robin was dead. While it was a triumphant release, some fans were a little heartbroken over the loss of Robin, which would be short lived. Just a year after Jason’s death, Tim Drake was introduced into the Bat-Universe, solved the identity of Batman single-handedly, putting all previous villains to shame, and quickly became the new Robin. On the plus side, Tim was much more well liked then Jason, but just because the guy was a little short-tempered, didn’t mean we had to kill him off, right?

Friday, September 14, 2012

Batman In a State of Flux: Inconsistency (Part 1 of 3)

"Without warning, it comes... crashing through the window of your study, and mine... I have seen it before... somewhere. It frightened me as a boy... frightened me. Yes, father. I shall become a bat."

-       Bruce Wayne, Batman: Year One

National Allied Publications has had great success with their newly created Superman character in Action Comics that they turn to their writers in Detective Comics to create a new superhero. They wanted him to be similar to Superman, yet different. In May of that year Detective Comics #27 hit the stands, with a familiar character on the cover; swinging through the air with an assumed criminal under his arm as two others watch helplessly from a rooftop nearby. The image instantly struck a nerve in any young reader viewing it. They knew that this would be something special.
        Orphaned at a young age, Bruce Wayne watched his parents get gunned down in Crime Alley right before his eyes. One would wonder what kind of impression this would have on an eight year-old. Using his parents’ large amount of funds, Bruce Wayne traveled the world “seeking the means to fight injustice, and turn fear on those who prey on the fearful” and learning all the skills necessary for his future war on crime. It was only after his all-to-familiar encounter with a bat did he adopt a symbol to ensure his status as Gotham’s protector, as the Batman.

        It became increasing evident that Batman needed a companion of sorts. Yes, there was Alfred, but some felt he should have someone to communicate to in the field, so to speak. A partner. Detective Comics #38, released in April of 1940 saw the emergence of Robin the Boy Wonder, creating a new “dynamic” to Batman’s character, and ultimately creating a new wave of superhero sidekicks in the many years to come. Many would say the addition of the teenage hero was unnecessary, and I would agree, along with hundreds, if not thousands, of disappointed fans in the 40’s seeing how the Robin add-on made Batman’s universe just a little too happy then it ought to be. Nevertheless, the character survived, grew in the hearts of fans and is still relevant and a much needed addition to the Bat-universe.
      The Caped Crusader also received his very own solo title, much like Superman before him. Now he was in two monthly comics. The first issue of “Batman” will be remembered fondly, not just because it was the first, but more so because of its launch of the Joker and Catwoman, two pivotal characters in Batman’s history.
The writer’s at “DC” were sipping on champagne, relaxing back in their lawn chairs, laughing at the wildly unexpected success at their two franchise characters. It was only when they apparently sobered up that they realized putting these two heroes in one story would create an unstoppable force. In fall of 1940, Superman and Batman were now featured in a monthly story together in World’s Finest Comics, forming a partnership and friendship that still exists in comics today. Batman and Robin were now seen as respectable citizens in the eyes of comic book readers and the citizens within the stories. Having now teamed up with Superman on a monthly basis, people just came to except that Batman was just as friendly and trustworthy as the Man of Steel, but that’s not who Batman is, right? Well, it’s who he was then.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

WOW: DC's Crisis

       Some of the most critically acclaimed DC Comics stories involve the word "crisis" in the title. Crisis On Infinite Earth's, Infinite Crisis, Identity Crisis, Final Crisis and so much more. All completed with the highest level of professionalism and standards. Stories, whose art and story have become so much larger and more renown then even their creator's could have foreseen. This is DC Crisis and these are the some of the best Crisis wallpapers released so far. Enjoy!

DC's "Final Crisis" written by Grant Morrison.
DC's "Infinite Crisis" written by Geoff Johns.
DC's "Crisis On Infinite Earths" written by Marv Wolfman.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Flash In 2015: He Can Only Get Here So Fast...

    Faster than a speeding bullet and not nearing as powerful as a locomotive: no its not Superman but it is the Flash. The original version was a member of the Justice Society back in the Golden Age of comics and has been a mainstream superhero for many, many decades. Ever since the recreation of the character in Barry Allen for the Silver Age the Flash has pretty much been a fan favorite and featured in some of the greatest comic book stories and television cartoons in the companies history. One thing the character hasn't been featured in however is a feature length, big budget film. Mathematically speaking it is almost unheard of that this character has not been made into a film, especially the way that technology has advanced and the fact that DC movies of late (excluding TDK trilogy of course) have generally been negatively received by audiences. The Flash has pretty much been announced to co-star with a large group of superheroes in the upcoming Justice League movie in 2015, but a hero this complex and well-loved should have the well deserved privilege to star in his own adventure, at least before joining his fellow heroes. 

      Looking back on the hero's rich history of villains, one would easily be able to select an appropriate opponent for the Flash. Whether Captain Cold and his ice powers could 
be an amazing spectacle with special effects, or the Mirror Master as an intelligent, deceptive villain. One nemesis that comes to mind, who would also pose the biggest threat to our hero would be Zoom. Having the exact powers of the Flash, and in some cases being faster, he could represent a perfect detection of the "anti-hero" being almost the opposite of the Flash.