An Exceptional Article On Comic Fiction

One that can be expanded to fiction in general:

One of the reasons I truly despise the discussions of ‘outfits’ in fiction is that they forget that speculative fiction is meant to be idealized. “Realism” is, quite frankly, what most of our audience is trying to get AWAY from. Now, in a movie setting, I understand more of it. Because they are real people having to look like they can do real things. The fantastic elements also end up toned down as a result. But even then, I’ve said before: It made sense in the Batman movies. Because he’s clearly a ‘normal’ person going against ‘normal’ enemies. His superpower is being all-prepared with Bruce Wayne’s almost infinite resources. This did not carry over well to Man of Steel, as Superman is quite clearly other than human.

But this has, in some sense, what has always been the problem with Superman in all his incarnations. The greatest threat Superman ever faces is himself. His rogues’ gallery is weak. And the only way to threaten him is to find unobtainium. I also laugh at the ‘realistic’ Wonder Woman suit. As Larsen’s counter makes clear, her attire clearly recalls her origin story. And it is not her outfit that makes her look ‘weak.’ I laugh at how the movie costume is running away from her iconic look as fast as it can, and the critics STILL body shame her.

With a certain segment of the population, there will *always* be body shaming, unless no one beautiful is seen in public. I would never Suggest Just Who that might be, however.

I Have to Admit, I May Have Been Wrong About Gotham

When I first saw the premise, I was convinced it would be just like the listless 1st half of Agents of SHIELD’s 1st season. A ‘superhero’ universe with no superheroes, and a monster-of-the-week premise that was done to death by Smallville over a decade ago. At best, I thought it would be another of the overdone Police Procedurals, and God Help Me if I know whether we’ll see NCIS or CSI reach Little Rock 1st.

But instead, it’s gone a fascinating direction. Without utterly overthrowing the classic Batman mythology, it’s exploring two taut psychological plotlines.

1) How could a city become so dysfunctional that not only would the city embrace a masked vigilante righting its wrongs in the night? But how could it fall so far that it could be beset by supervillians that would DRIVE someone to become that superhero?

2) The eternal question, “How did Bruce Wayne learn to channel everything he was into becoming the Crazy-Prepared Determinator known as Batman.”

Now the problem the series is going to have is point 2 is going to be a long, slow burn. No matter how much tragedy Bruce saw, and the knowledge we have of where he’s going, can we really stay interested long enough in him to see him become the Batman? Related to this, we known James Gordan isn’t going to have a lot of wins on the way. What can we see on the way to make us want to walk through the slime with him?

Are they willing to do a time jump at some point to bring us closer to the day Bats arrives? Or are they really hoping to have a self-contained pre-superhero series fans will follow? I have to believe that it’s going to be a struggle to maintain the myth-arc without bringing us to the origin. So I still have my concern that in the end, this will degenerate into a police procedural, with perhaps some corruption and mob angles thrown in.

But I’ll be happy to be proven wrong. Because Bruce Wayne is still my favorite superhero, and seeing an origin of him well done is not a bad thing.

Funny, Wouldn’t You Know

I find Gotham about as fascinating a concept as watching paint dry. Without Batman, it’s another crime procedural in a not-quite made-up city. And if the 1st half of Agents of SHIELD showed anything, it’s that most of a TV audience doesn’t really care for monster-of-the-week stories in a world with established lore. They want to explore that world with the heroes. Not doing that here, move along. 

On the other hand, Hieroglyph  sounds outright fascinating. Ancient Egypt always intrigues. And there is definitely more room for sword-and-sandal epics. 

Says the guy writing a sword-and-sandal. 😉


Because Everyone’s Talking About It

And it would be irresponsible for me not to talk about the biggest news in the Entertainment Industry.  Pull up a chair and let’s talk about Ben Affleck donning the cowl.

I could go with Larry Correia’s mic-drop worthy Tweet: “Hey, you know who would make a great Batman? That guy who killed the Tom Clancy movies!”

On the Other Hand, for the sake of Devil’s Advocate, there have been a couple good defenses of the choice: is one.

Let me say this: I saw The Town, and liked Affleck in the movie. Similarly Argo. He’s developed as an actor, and has range. And yes, he can do somewhat dark and brooding. He might even be able to do a decent Daredevil now. My problem with this is not that it’s him.

It’s that it’s all too very soon. We’ve seen one dose of Harry Cavill as Superman, and so far the best anyone can say is, “We’ll see.” It did OK. It wasn’t a winner. As I said here: the entire idea is too soon. There’s no reason to believe in THIS Superman yet. He doesn’t have his own place on the block to take away from him. How can you possibly think this is a Frank Miller confrontation-worthy moment.

Maybe if Christian Bale had agreed to return, as was rumored, then you might have a Batman who can bring Superman up to his heroic stature (as the 5 reasons article suggests). Or alternately, if we’d seen Affleck play the Dark Knight effectively on his own. As I said, I could be persuaded. He has the physical presence, persona, and chops. In that, I’m in agreement with the defenders. As funny as Larry’s quote is, this isn’t the Affleck who was a walking punchline.

But in order for me to buy the premise, they need to be built up to that point. I don’t give Affleck the history of Bale’s Batman just because he’s the next guy to don the cowl. I don’t believe he can just step on the screen and make me believe he’s Bruce Wayne, back from Florence with Selena Kyle. He needs his own identity as Batman/Bruce Wayne. And that to me, has to happen before a confrontation with Clark Kent.

So I stand by what I said before: It’s all too early in their relationship for Batman and Superman to become best frenemies. I’m not ready to say it’s a disaster. But I’m not optimistic.

Though I have to admit, I wasn’t optimistic about Heath Ledger as The Joker either. No, this is not the same. But I’ve been wrong before.

Really, This is Starting to Get Old

Really, This is Starting to Get Old

OK folks. My cards on the table, I thought Nolan’s Batman Trilogy was as good as any three films in modern cinema history. Better than Star Wars, probably as good as The Lord of the Rings. Better than The Godfather. The 1st and third on that list because in both cases, the final installment weakened the whole. Star Wars dies for me with the appearance of the Ewoks, and Godfather Part III is a collection of iconic moments. Not a great movie with iconic moments in it. Even LOTR struggles with moments in The Two Towers (Elves in Helm’s Deep? Theoden SHOULDN’T have gone to Helm’s Deep? The hobbits in Osgiliath? Really)

The Dark Knight Trilogy has no killer flaw. Not that every moment is perfect, but it is not betrayed by them. It’s a great movie series, where each part is excellent and combines to make a better whole.

BUT, it’s done. And you can’t expect a new Batman to inherit the mantle of Bale’s Batman just because Nolan is in the project’s background. And let’s be honest, the ‘gritty’ Superman hasn’t sold anyone yet. Moreover, THIS Superman and Batman don’t know each other. So why should they fight? Or frankly why should they care about each other? Superman has no history, and they’re going to have to reboot Batman’s as well.

The iconic moments work because of the tension that’s built up to arrive at them. And as this article illustrates well, if you don’t have the build-up, you can’t buy into the payoff.

So all this talk about “Yay! Batman in Man of Steel 2?!” Has me responding with a shrug and ‘meh.’ Make a storyline. Prove this ‘gritty’ Superman actually has value on his own first. And develop a plotline that shows us why Batman has to come out of retirement while you’re at it.

It’s like Warner Brothers is careening from one past DC moment to the next. But they haven’t EARNED any of those. Come back when you have.