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)
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)
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)
Want to know how to make a bad movie? Take a character who’s basically every cliche in his genre rolled into one portable unit, plug him into a script picked over by the proverbial thousand monkeys, and give the whole project to a director who’s spent the last ten years slaving away on the Pixar plantation.
Sometimes you can just see the train coming. As if that weren’t enough, the whole package comes to us from one of my ancient enemies: Akiva Goldsman, the man who made a mess called I Am Legend…and even bigger mess called Batman and Robin…and whose production company, Weed Road Pictures, put up the money for this mess. So Jonah Hex has finally limped its way onto video, branded one of the Worst Films of Summer 2010 by the little subconscious voice that makes all my snap judgments. Was it correct? Is this the new Wild Wild West? Continue reading Jonah Hex (2010)
In 1993, the death of Superman caused an entire generation who’d grown weary of the character’s cinematic incarnations to perk up and start paying attention to comics. It’s the sad fact of our sad age that cynical marketing ploys (like killing off your flagship character just so you can bring him back to life) work more often than they fail. It certainly got me on board, and by the time Superman’s reappearence was all-but-upon-us I was loyally begging my parents for all four (at the time) of DC Comics’ Superman titles.
In an even more cynical ploy to hook we ignorant readers, the creatives behind Superman’s books trotted out four super powered pretenders to the throne, each of whom attempted to carry on the Man of Steel’s Never Ending Battle in their own, inept way. Steel was my favorite of the bunch because, unlike those three other sad sacks, he never pretended to be Back from the Great Beyond. We first met him as an anonymous construction worker whom Superman saved from a thirty-story fall. By way of a thank you, Big Blue instructed him to “live a life worth saving.” The rest is confusing comic book history. Continue reading Steel (1997)
I’ve always liked Green Lantern in theory, but I’m one of those annoying bastards who only started paying attention to the title after annoying bastard de jure Kyle Rayner began leaving a trail of dead and depowered girlfriends across the DC Universe. For the longest time I only knew Hal Jordan, the Silver Age Green Lantern of the 1960s and still (apparently) a fan favorite to this day, in his Darth Vader persona, Parallax.
Then Hal died and came back to life again, as popular characters are so wont to do, and by 2005 he’d returned to his former role and his own book with nary a “Sorry about that little attempted genocide.” Gotta love those Cosmic Reset Buttons. Couldn’t have happened at a better time. Back in 1994, when Hal first went power-mad, superhero movies were a punch line…especially if they stared Alec Baldwin. The year after Hal died (that first time) Joel Schumacher killed Hope itself with a little atrocity called Batman and Robin. Ah…but today… Continue reading Green Lantern: First Flight (2009)