Tag Archives: Batman

Batman: Under the Red Hood (2010)

Was a time, in the mid-90s, when I never thought I'd see this image in anything other than trade paperback collections. Progress?
Was a time, in the mid-90s, when I never thought I’d see this image in anything other than trade paperback collections.

Robin, the Boy Wonder, is one of the most controversial characters in superhero comics. First debuting in 1940 as a transparent attempt to (what else?) attract new readers, he immediately became a popular and enduring staple of the Batman mythos despite inspiring decade’s worth of Gay Panic, humorous or otherwise. The general populous conceives Robin as an eternal twelve year-old, jumping around rooftops when he should be doing his homework. But who can concentrate on algebra when Killer Croc’s out killing mobsters in a bid to take over Gotham City’s underworld? What kid wouldn’t want to live over the Batcave?

Thankfully, comic book Robin’s been allowed to grow up. By the late 70s, his civilian identity, Dick Grayson, had graduated high school and moved off to college. As Robin, he’d assumed command of the Justice League’s youth brigade, the Teen Titans, and helped save the world on numerous occasions. By 1983, he’d all but disappeared from Gotham, necessitating a new youngster fill his little green boots.

Enter Jason “Oh my God” Todd. As in “Oh my God, Bruce, I can not believe you took this kid under your wing.” First conceived as a transparent replacement for Dick Grayson (how transparent? Well, Jason was also a second generation circus acrobat whose parents also happened to catch their death from Crime), Jason suffered a lot in the great continuity rewrite of 1986, Crisis on Infinite Earths. When the multiverse finally stabilized, Jason was reborn as a street urchin, orphaned by Crime and taken in by Batman after Bruce caught him trying to steal tires…off the Batmobile…yeah… Continue reading Batman: Under the Red Hood (2010)

Batman Forever (1995)

And is that...Bat-lipstick?
And is that…Bat-lipstick?

This is where I fell off the boat. I was twelve in 1995, when the Batman blitz began again, and from the start, things felt different. For one thing, I’d started paying attention to the news. This new thing called “the internet” was suddenly driving up everyone’s phone bills, an instantaneous worldwide communication network that quickly became the ultimate gossip and pornography distribution system. And the gossip surrounding Batman Forever set all my Red Alerts ringing.

Everyone learned all the wrong lessons from Batman Returns. And I mean everyone. America’s Moral Guardians learned that Tim Burton was a demented genius, something any of Burton fan could’ve told them a decade before, had the assholes bothered to ask. They complained his film was “too dark,” that it had stained the eyes of their precious Children with twisted sexuality and Danny Devito’s idiotic one-liners. Economics compelled Warner Brothers to Think of the Children and consign Burton to a Producer-in-name-only-credit (he was off making Mars Attacks).

Replacing him, Warner Brothers hired the director of 1993s Falling Down and 1994’s smash hit, The Client: Joel…God help us all…Schumacher. And, true to his reputation as an all-around nice guy, not at all deserving of the jokes I’m about to make at his expense, Joel brought along The Client‘s writer: Akiva…fuck me running…Goldsman. Continue reading Batman Forever (1995)

Batman Returns (1992)

What you mean? What so strange about two people in rubber costumes making out on a rooftop?
Nope. Nothing creepy going on here.

As with its prequel, I have a long history with Batman Returns. It was Friday, June 19, and my cousins and I were suffering through the annual summer visit to the grandparent’s house…in Alabama. My southeastern U.S. readers know what that means. Everyone else: imagine being trapped inside a fat man’s wet towel. Now imagine that fat man is obsessed with wearing pine-scented cologne and rolling around in fire ants. Welcome to Alabama in the summer time.

I saw a lot of movies during those summer vacations. Batman Returns was everything a nine-year-old could want and more. It terrified our grandparents for the same reason it entranced we children of Batman. The two villains on the poster tell you everything you need to know. Batman Returns was a doubling-down for everyone, from the top brass at Warner Brothers to the runner who spiked Tim Burton’s coffee with acid every morning. The marketing for this film promised twice the everything. More action. More Gotham. More goddamn Batman. Continue reading Batman Returns (1992)

Batman (1989)

So it’s 1989 and I’m six years old. For my birthday I’m allowed the fifty-mile car ride down to the nearest theater to see one film. Like every other kid in 1989, I chose Batman and one of the results of that choice is the website you see today.

It’s impossible to underestimate the historical importance of this film. We have to remember that, before 1989, the only superhero to achieve real success in the only true mass medium was Superman. And before 1989, Superman was a fluke: a one in a million shot, barely duplicated thanks to the decision to split the first movie into two. A creation of the go-go Regan years that was already on its last legs in 1987, when Christopher Reeve’s ego and Cannon films horrible habit of embezzlement brought Superman IV: The Quest for Peace down upon us all.

Before this film, Batman’s only real cultural cache came from Adam West’s notorious TV show, which remained popular enough to justify continuous re-runs on at least one channel per year since is original cancellation. Burton changed all that, and in one film he rescued the Golden Age of American superhero movies from history’s dustbin. Shame about the film, eh? Continue reading Batman (1989)

Superman/Batman: Apocalypse (2010)

"We've got to help her. She's the only one around with a head bigger than her arms."
"We've got to help her. She's the only one around here with a head bigger than her shoulder muscles."

Well bisect me with a light saber. Here I am, ready and willing to take a break from hating everything and review another superhero cartoon before the October Horror Movie season and DC Animation, in their infinite (sarcastic airquotes) “wisdom,” gave me this one. I really couldn’t be happier. Because its exactly half-bad.

Apocalypse is the direct sequel to last year’s Public Enemies, as you’ll hear from the Gotham City talk radio DJ in the precredit sequence. “A rash of meteor showers has lit up the country from coast to coast this week following the destruction of a giant Kryptonite asteroid by our own Dark Knight.” {More}

Superman/Batman: Public Enemies (2009)

Hey, a cowboy actor made it. Why not Ol' Bald n' Evil?As you’ve no doubt guessed by now, my personal political views fall somewhere to the left of Mikhail Bakunin. So, as you’d expect, I experienced quite the nerdgasam back in the year 2000 when (through a convoluted story line tonight’s film rightly jettisons without the slightest nod) Lex Luthor became President of the D.C. Universe’s United States. Finally, I said to no one in particular, given that at the time I had no friends, someone in comics understands the f-ed up mess we’re in.

But all good things must come to an end, and since this is D.C. Comics, that “end” must engulf the entire world in some form of world-engulfing peril, preferably one stolen from the plot of a popular summer sci-fi/action movie. Because you can’t throw D.C.’s most insanely-powerful superheroes at just any-old idiotic inhabitant of the White House.

Or can you…? Here again, the Justice League TV series captured my heart by daring to actually ask this question several times to continually ass-kicking effect, only chickening out when it looked like their show might be canceled, necessitating the Climactic Battle restore the status quo. I’ve waited three years for a cartoon that dares to look into the actual nuts and bolts of superheroing during the Luthor Administration. All I can say is, I’m still waiting. In the meantime, at least we’ve got Public Enemies. {More}

Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths (2010)

He's a saa-aad Batman...The day I discovered NOVA’s The Elegant Universe was a grand day at around this old Batcave o’ mine. I rejoiced that physicists had finally figured out what we comic book nerds have known for over fifty years: our world is but one of an infinity of universes, operating on parallel levels of what we so blithely call reality. Bully for you, Science. Welcome to the party.

As with so much else, superheroes had a large part in popularizing what was once the esoteric pipe dream of clever sci-fi authors. The Justice League first met their “evil” dopplegangers, the Crime Syndicate of America, back in 1964. And while those original Silver Age comics have…shall we say…mellowed…in their old age, I still respect the CSA’s original motivation for jumping dimensions: sheer boredom at the ease with which they’d conquered their own world. (with the exception of one Alexander “Lex” Luthor). The Justice League cartoon series updated and expanded up this plot to great effect in its second season two-parter “A Better World.” And while this Justice League cartoon was originally meant to be a transition into the series’ third season, life, and a tight production schedule, intervened. It still works as such, but feels oddly out of place coming so far down stream, after I (for one) thought Warner’s Animation department had run this idea into the ground. {More}

Batman Begins (2005)

Batman Begins initially disappointed me. All cinematic legends of the Dark Knight inevitably do, save those told by Paul Dini and Co.. I can remember leaving the theater in late 2005 with my Ambassador on my arm. She turned to me and said, “Somebody forgot to tell them they weren’t making Spider-Man.”

Our Hero, in jail.

Looking back now (after the abysmal failure of Spider-Man 3, the X-Men and Hulk sequels, and the endless parade of second rate cartoons Marvel’s churned out over the years) I realize how unfair this was to director Christopher (Memento) Noland, writer David S. (Blade) Goyer, and even Our Hero, Christian Bale. All did the best they could, and a much better job than anyone had any right to expect given the Bat’s long, largely-depressing, big screen history. This movie went through all eight levels of Development Hell, its makers fighting wars and rumors of wars that no doubt weighted on my mind as I stepped into the the theater, clouding judgment already hustled by my twenty years of comic-reading. I would’ve found fault with the best Bat-picture in the world and Batman Begins is far from that. It is, however, the second best Batman film in thirty years, easily surpassing Tim Burton’s efforts. {More}

Justice League (2001)

Strike a pose.The Justice League of America, in its most rarefied form, represents a powerhouse of D.C. comics heaviest hitters, originally created as a marketing gimmick in 1960 by that great creator of gimmicks and Godhead of the silver age, the comics writer Gardner Fox. But you already knew that, didn’t you?

With the success The Batman/Superman Adventures in the late ’90s, and the continued dumbing down of Batman Beyond, the production team of Rich Fogel, Bruce Timm, and Paul Dini set to do the Next Logical Thing: get the fuck off the WB (sure didn’t do Buffy any harm) and throw wide the golden gates of their superhero universe. After all, if two heroes could make such a splash in the admittedly-small pond of American-produced superhero animation, think of what seven might do for the network lucky enough to carry it? {More}