Posts Tagged ‘Batman’

30-Day Challenge: Film

May 25, 2020

1 – The First Film you Remember Watching

I am sure I watched many movies before it but the first movie that was an event, that I remember when I saw it was the 1989 version of Batman. At age 7, I was already a big fan of the character and this would be the first time that I got to stay up to watch a movie. I was so excited and the movie definitely lived up to the hype and continues to do so. This movie still has one of the greatest impacts on my creativity and imagination. This was peak Tim Burton, who worked within the framework of the comic books to create something absolutely new and fresh. Michael Keaton does such a good job of playing both Bruce Wayne and Batman which is a difficult balance to pull off. Jack Nicholson is so good as the Joker with so many quotable lines but a sinister edge to it that just works. The production design and the Prince soundtrack should not work but somehow do.

2 – A film that you like that starts with the first letter of your name

This movie absolutely came out of left field for me. I had never heard of the comic book prior to the release of the film but I wish I had. Still, it was really fun going in blind. The movie is delightfully wild and absurd. It is definitely up my alley as it is both a comic book movie and a video game movie (although it is not actually adapting a specific video game). The movie uses video game terminology and tropes to tell a compelling story about figuring out your life. For those who have not seen it, the elevator pitch is that Scott Pilgrim must defeat Ramona’s seven evil exes if he wants to be her boyfriend. However, the movie has way more to offer than just that. The movie is filled with deep moments accompanied by goofy and offbeat humor. It is probably Michael Cera’s best performance to date. On top of that there are a bunch of great comedic roles from Chris Evans, Brandon Routh, Jason Schwartzman, Aubrey Plaza, and Anna Kendrick. We also get Mary Elizabeth Winstead as she was really coming into her own. I once chose this as my birthday movie for the express purpose of messing with and confusing my family.

3 – A film whose title has more than five words

Dr. Strangelove (for short), was a great watch when I first saw it. It is a zany comedy about one of the darkest subjects that you can joke about. Total nuclear annihilation. Set in the middle of the Cold War, a simple mistake threatens the safety of the world. There is a huge cast of characters, all parodying some portion of the Military-Industrial Complex. Three of the major characters are played by comedy legend Peter Sellers. He transforms himself into three very insane characters, the kind of people you hope are not in charge of nuclear weapons but who you fear are. There is also Slim Pickens as exactly what I think of the military. George C. Scott actually plays an over the top comic character which is usually out of his comfort zone. The movie is directed by Stanley Kubrick who is not exactly known for making sunny movies but he was able to inject the story with plenty of dark and zany humor. Additionally, this was my dearly departed friend Joe’s favorite movie so it will always be even more special to me. It is definitely a blueprint for later movies like Death of Stalin which makes the audience laugh as atrocities are performed.

4 – A film with a number in the title

This movie unexpectedly threw me for a loop. This movie is based on a Stephen King short story that I never read. It is one of the simplest adaptations of King’s work and has an astonishingly small cast. The main characters are played by John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson. Cusack plays a writer who has recently experienced great loss and travels around the country debunking the supernatural. Receiving a mysterious challenge, he is in for the fight of his life. The movie is a pure horror movie. It relies mostly on psychological pressure than petty jumpscares. Cusack is great as a skeptic who is suddenly shown the light. The movie thrives on unreality and the special effects that show that are absolutely brilliant and understated. This is also possibly Samuel L. Jackson’s most subtle role and it is so interesting to see. The movie feels way deeper than most adaptations of King’s work and that helps drive the point deeper. It is light on plot and heavy on character moments which actually also helps prevent the usual Stephen King rambling. There is also a devious sense of humor running through which twists the knife even further. This was definitely a predecessor of effective horror storytelling like the legendary PT and so many other surreal horror stories about psychological torture.

5 – A film where a character has a job you want

I was always intensely interested in keeping archives and researching things. Indiana Jones was always a fascinating character and for sure I wanted to be him when I was a little kid. I even had a copy of his famous fedora for a little bit. I also wore a tiny bomber jacket with a map on the inside. I wanted to be an adventurer just like him. However, after growing up a bit I realized that I really did not want that. Indy is a professor and I really do not like talking in front of crowds. I also think the rest of his work is pretty dangerous. However, the people who research and catalog the supernatural things, that seems way more interesting to me. We first see this organization at the end of Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. We next see evidence of them in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. If I read between the frames well enough, those scenes mean somebody is in charge of keeping tabs on magical and highly advanced technology. That definitely sounds like an interesting job.

6 – Your favorite animated film

I have written about it many times before but hands down my favorite animated film is The Nightmare Before Christmas. Henry Selick really brought to life a neat little world full of fun lore and interesting characters. It is a great look at depression, passion, and boundaries. Skellington Jack is such an innocent soul for the King of Halloween and it is hard not to see my own bouts with depression in his. I also definitely see Jack’s passion and sense of fairplay in myself. The portayal of Santa Claus is one of the best in cinema history. I would put him up there with the portrayals from Klaus, Ernest Saves Christmas, and The Christmas Chronicles. Santa is best when he is a rounded character who is not saintly good but good because he earnestly sees good and evil in the world and chooses good. Sally is just such an interesting character and it was not often back in the early nineties where a woman was portrayed as the smartest character. The whole cast of characters are so well designed and the animation and music are superb.

Personality Database

May 18, 2020

I had posted previously about the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. It is an amazing insight into your personality and I absolutely suggest that you take it if you have not already. Myers-Briggs helps people figure out both their strengths and their weaknesses. This past week there has been a thing going around Twitter where people point out which fictional characters share their Myers-Briggs designation. By the way, the resource for looking that up is Personality-Database.com but I would suggest downloading the phone app because the website was blowing up when I was on it. I decided to pick a selection of the requisite five characters and examine how I might be like them. It was another fascinating look at myself.

I am an INTJ, by the way. That stands for Introverted Intuitive Thinking Judging.

The Heroes


Batman (Most depictions of Batman)

This was a most pleasant surprise to find on the site. In retrospect, I should not have been surprised. I have spent my life sticking to the metaphorical shadows. Instead of being an actor, I chose to be a stage manager and theater designer. I chose to be a paralegal and not a lawyer. In so many ways, I do not really like the spotlight on me as it distracts from having a comfortable life. I also tend to read between the lines when I am remembering facts and draw conclusions based on my experiences rather than just the facts. It really helps me as a researcher and a writer. I also really love signs and symbols like the Batman, he uses them to strike fear or inspire hope but I use mine to leave easter eggs in my writing. See also: Daredevil (Marvel), Dr. Stephen Strange (Marvel), and Black Panther (Marvel).


Rupert Giles (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

This is one I expected going in. While Giles eventually displayed an artistic side (like I do) but he was a very private person who preferred small crowds and the quiet of his library or magic shop. Like Giles, I really love being in a support role rather than the star of the show. Giles spent seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer as the power behind the throne, a man who used wit and wisdom to guide rather than direct. He continued that role in the later comic book seasons as a covert problem solver, something I also like to do. I love fixing problems without anybody realizing there was a problem in the first place. I am sometimes doing my best work when clients do not notice me. I leave the flashy and presentation work to my boss, an attorney. See also: Harrison Wells (The Flash), Merlin (Kingsman), and Zordon (Power Rangers)

Villains


Thanos (The MCU)

Thanos is not your usual Marvel villain. While other villains tend to be just as showy and boisterous as their superhero counterparts, like me Thanos is a somewhat quiet and reserved man. Especially as he is portrayed in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, he is an introvert. He quietly and calmly embarks on a mission of mass murder without being all that showy about it. I think I am most like Thanos in his Thinking Judging part. Like me, Thanos loves order and for things to be decided. Once he makes his decision to kill half of the Universe, he never wavers and works hard against those who would steer him from his path. He also does not let himself play until work is done, as morbid as that is. See also Mewtwo (Pokemon), The Thing (The Thing), Doctor Doom (Marvel), The Wicked Witch (The Wizard of Oz), and Agent Smith (The Matrix).


Simon (A Christmas Prince)

I can see this one. While Simon displays a wish to be in the spotlight as King, he only moves on it once he thinks that the path is absolutely clear. He does not compromise in his mission and does everything in his power to make it happen up to and including being underhanded but he never lies. Later, it is shown that he never really wanted the spotlight and is fine working as a covert fixer. He helps solve the central problems in the two sequels by being uncompromising and sneaky. At the same time, he has an absolute love for rules and order. Whether he is acting for good or for evil, this makes him look two-faced. I have definitely been guilty of the “By Any Means Possible” part of the Thinking Judging. Sometimes I have to rein myself in from taking too much initiative and circling back to the group or those in charge to consult them on my plans. However, when those plans are in place, they absolutely have to happen as planned or I have high anxiety and frustration. It is a part of me that I am working on. I also get so caught up in the details of what I have seen that I find it hard to take in new information after a decision. See also Professor James Moriarty (Sherlock Holmes), Severus Snape (Harry Potter), Magneto (Marvel), and Eobard Thawne (DC Comics).

The In-Between


Wednesday Addams (The Addams Family)

Not a shocker here. I have loved the character since I first saw The Addams Family (199) and have gone back and loved every iteration since. There is a reason that Christina Ricci was my first official celebrity crush and it was not just because she is goth. Wednesday is a person who is not so sure of who she is inside but is very sure of what the world is outside. In both movies, she is the one who first senses something is wrong because she has a solid view of what her family should be and is frustrated when it changes. Of course, this cuts both ways in that I absolutely hate change in my everyday life. In Wednesday, it is shown in the frustration about the disruption that a third sibling causes. At the same time, she is a rabid researcher and gets caught up in topics that interest her to the point of obsession. In the first film, it is shown by her deep research into the Bermuda Triangle. I do this all the time too both in my professional and personal life. See also Collin (What We Do in the Shadows), and Ellie Whedon (Locke and Key).

Brooke Wayne – A DC Comics Elseworlds Story

April 2, 2020

Brooke Wayne would be the first to admit that she had not had the happiest life. Her therapist, Dr. Crane, would confirm that. Everybody knew her story. Her parents had been murdered in front of her outside of a theater in downtown Gotham. She had undergone significant trauma but all of her friends had not taken her seriously. Poor little rich girl. She had disappeared suddenly one day and left her trust behind. That was the part of the story that the public did not know. What came after had been a secret. She traveled the world and trained her body and mind to fight crime. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

When she returned to Gotham, she took up the life of a costumed vigilante. She styled her costume after a bat, a creature she had encountered in deepest Africa. She had looked to battle the criminal element but she ended up in a war with the Gotham City Police Department. Supervillains began to appear in Gotham. Brooke felt like she was losing more ground than she was gaining. Finally, she explained her double life to her therapist, Dr. Tabitha Crane. It was at this point that Dr. Crane revealed that her ex-husband was the supervillain known as The Scarecrow. Together, Brooke and Tabitha put together a plan.

Brooke contacted the GCPD and worked out a deal. The Bat would disappear, here reign of terror would evaporate like shadows in sunlight. In return, she proposed setting up a special task force directly under Commissioner James Gordon. Additionally, Brooke would donate part of her vast family fortune to the police force for better technology and resources. She was already starting numerous social welfare programs to help heal a city broken by crime and corruption. She had other people running those. People more qualified to determine where that money should go. She was bored, she wanted to channel her anger in a more positive way.

Amazingly, Commissioner Gordon had conferred with the Mayor and had agreed. Brooke was sent to the police academy to learn protocol and pay her dues. She was sent along with several other vigilantes who were offered a similar deal. Now, Wayne had been on the force for years and she was really good at it. She was working things out with her therapist and the squad was having real success cleaning up the city. Things were looking up with crime and corruption on the decline. This left Brooke’s squad to tackle the real threats, the real dangers to the community.

“Good morning, Captain Wayne,” Olivia said. “How are we doing today?”

“Your Royal Highness,” Brooke said. “So nice that you could grace us with your presence.”

“Queen by name and Queen by reputation,” Olivia said. “Thank you for continuing to get the good word out there.” She set her gear bag down and hung up her bow. She had a special dispensation to carry a compound bow instead of a rifle. She had crusaded as the Green Arrow, inspired by The Bat. Brooke had eventually used that reputation to convince Olivia to partner with Brooke to fund the new GCPD squad.

“Whatever Queen,” Brooke said with a laugh. “You’re late. We’re joining everybody in the briefing room after I stop by to see the new tech from Holt.”

“I’ve got all the tech I need right here,” Olivia said and patted her bow. “What’s on the docket today? Spill.”

“You could just wait until the briefing,” Brooke said. “Sage, Dodds, Grant, and Tyler are already in there.”

“You have never been fun,” Olivia said. “Not once.”

Brooke sighed. “Fine,” she said. “We’re following a lead. Harley contacted me last night with some juicy stuff.”

“That whackjob?” Olivia asked. “I don’t trust her.”

“She’s given us good intel before,” Brooke said. “You have to learn to trust people, Queen. I can give you the number of my therapist.”

“Don’t get me started,” Olivia said. “She used to date the Joker.”

“I used to date Catwoman,” Brooke said. “Nobody’s perfect. She’s reformed. Well, she’s mostly reformed now that she’s with Ivy.”

“Well,” Olivia said. “I do believe in redemption. I guess you do too.”

“I’m starting to,” Brooke said. “One night at a time.”

(DC Comics was suggested by my friend Liz on Twitter)

Interview Questions 18

May 13, 2019


Pick a superpower: Flight or Invisibility?

This question was recently asked in the movie Shazam. Basically, I have read that it is an indicator of whether somebody wants to be in the background or in the spotlight. I can see why that is but I feel like the question is flawed. I often prefer to be in a support role and therefore in the background. Every job I have ever had has put me safely in that role while allowing me to stand out when I want to stand out. Invisibility would offer a guaranteed shot at that kind of thing but physically. I could appear and disappear at will and choose when people see me. That would be great but I cannot think of many uses for it. Now that I am no longer in theater, I have no reason to sneak around. I do not wish to use a superpower for crime either. Flight, on the other hand, would allow me to travel faster than walking or even driving. That seems of more use to me. I could lower my carbon footprint and travel would not be as much of an issue anymore. However, if we are talking about crimefighting, I would choose invisibility. It would allow me to catch criminals unawares and hide my face so that nobody could figure out my identity.


Batman vs. Spiderman: Who Would Win?

I have been a fan of both of these heroes since I was little so it is hard to choose between them on the basis of popularity. Interestingly enough, both characters’ paths to becoming heroes started with the death of a loved one. Batman went on a long journey around the world, training from masters on how to be good at basically everything. He learned martial arts, escapism, and how to be a brilliant detective among other things. Spider-Man was a young high school kid who got bitten by a radioactive spider and he gained superpowers. Spidey had to learn a lot of skills on the job and slowly cobbled together the skills to save the day. Over the years, both got really good at being superheroes. Initially, I thought that Spidey would win. He has a scientific mind and has super strength and agility. Basically, his trump card in a fight like this is his spider-sense which is basically a warning signal that goes off in his head that alerts him to imminent danger. I thought that would be the deal breaker but Batman has a history of creating plans that account for everything. He would simply set off that alert over and over in several fake-outs until Spidey did not know which way was up. Either that or he would come up with something that jammed spider-sense and take Spidey out when he was clueless. In any version of the characters, Batman has the edge on experience and forethought. Spidey usually relies on having fast reflexes but acting often beats reacting.


If you had to be shipwrecked on a deserted island, but all your human needs—such as food and water—were taken care of, what two items would you want to have with you?

This is actually a difficult question because the question is left vague when it comes to the rules. If I could bring a laptop and a device for an Internet connection, I would definitely bring that. I could still connect to the world and I could easily do research while writing. Though, that probably is not within the intended purpose of the question. Besides, the Internet connection would probably end up being more than one item. Also, there’s the whole power issue for the laptop. Unless it’s all magical. But, if we are bringing magic into the equation, I would simply bring a portal back to my house in Baltimore and a magic wand capable of telekinesis. That way I would have an island getaway and the wand would help me build a structure. Again, this does not seem to be the intention of the question. The real-life answer ends up being a bit boring but practical. I would bring a pencil and a ream of paper. I would write and write until the pencil ran out and then I would hope to burn some wood for charcoal and write some more. Boring yes but I can entertain myself for hours through writing and dreaming. The rest of the time on the island would be spent building a structure the old-fashioned way.

Interview Questions 17

March 25, 2019

What do you like to wear when you go to work?

I used to wear whatever I wanted to work. I would wear t-shirts and jeans and when it was cold, I would throw on a hooded sweatshirt. I wore sneakers until they would be falling apart and then I would keep wearing them. My clothes often had holes in them. When I first got an office job, I was frustrated that I would have to wear button up shirts and ties. I had never really been a tie guy. As soon as I felt I was able to get away with it, I stopped wearing a tie to work. I was not very invested in that job as it was just something to do to pay the bills. When I went back to school to become a paralegal, a change came over me. When I got my first job after school, I gladly put on a tie. Throwing on a buttoned shirt, slacks, nice shoes, and a tie puts me into work mode. When I don that combo, I feel professional and I think that is reflected in my work ethic. Besides, it is expected by clients and other professionals that I appear dressed like a proper assistant. Sure, there are some days I would rather not wear a tie but most days it is easy enough to wear one. Part of that is that I have shirts that fit my neck size and I learned that you do not have to cinch a tie to the hilt. It is not that hard to be comfortable and well-dressed.

If you could be Batman or Robin, which one would you be?

I have been a huge fan of Batman in many forms since I can remember. Batman was way better than Superman or any other hero out there because he was more or less an ordinary guy who did ordinary things. He used intelligence more than he used actual power to save the day. I truly fell in love with Batman in 1989 which was arguably Batman’s second movie outing but the first in theaters. Through all of the stories through all of the years, the comics have stressed how much pressure Batman is under. He has to make the tough choices and he has to make the plan. Honestly, I always liked being in a support role. Every job I have ever had has been in a support role. Robin is right there by Batman’s side, helping him save the day but following his mentor’s lead. Robin also makes Batman better by occasionally challenging him when Batman goes off the rails a bit or when Batman is otherwise incapacitated. Actually, although it was not a choice, I would love to be Oracle. Oracle was the former Batgirl who became Oracle after an injury left her wheelchair-bound. She used a vast network of computers and contacts to help Batman, his allies, and other heroes around the world. That seems like it is right up my alley.

Do you prefer cats or dogs?

I would have to say that I prefer cats. Dogs are great, though. Dogs are big bundles of energy and all of that seems to be focused into love and excitement. They are always happy to see you and happy to see everyone they ever see. In my experience, most dogs immediately run and jump all over everyone who comes in the door even if it is their owner who they have seen thousands of times. As a natural introvert and somebody who likes to actually do stuff in their house, this sounds tiring to me. I would kind of like to watch television without having to deal with the barking. I know that means that I am missing out on the love and affection of a lot of good boys and girls but I just cannot deal with it. Also, people with dogs never seem to be able to go anywhere. They always have to be back to walk the dog. By the way, walking the dog is the one part I did not have a problem with. Cats, on the other hand, are largely low maintenance. They handle a lot of their business on their own and only bother you when it is time to eat (which is all the time but that can be managed). Cats seem to know when you want to be alone and when you want company. They are more like roommates than pets sometimes.

Top 11 Favorite 90s Characters

February 17, 2018

Top 11


11. Bob (ReBoot)

When I played my first video game on the Atari, I was hooked. Even though the games of my youth were next to impossible, I loved trying each and every game I could get my hands on. Computers were also becoming more and more of a thing as I entered my teen years. I spent a lot of time playing computer games and video games with my friends and we bonded over them. So when Reboot first premiered, I was instantly in love. The show is about the programs that live inside a computer city called Mainframe. The show’s main hero is Bob who is a guardian. Being a guardian means that Bob would enter the games the user played and would “reboot” himself as an enemy character and try to beat the user at the game. If he succeeded, he protected Mainframe and if he failed, that section of Mainframe was destroyed. So it set up most gamers as unintentional villains opposed by guardians like Bob. Bob was always level-headed and did not let fear override his thoughts as he could not afford to get distracted. Bob also had a multitool that could transform into a lot of gadgets he might need to save the day both in the games and out of them. Even with the danger, I envied Bob’s life of basically living in video games.


10. Freakazoid

As I was growing up, my sense of humor started to evolve and animation started to move beyond the laugh track humor of past cartoons. Instead of corny humor of shows like The Flintstones or He-Man, family shows started to really figure out humor. Just because you are putting out a PG product, does not mean that your humor has to insult even its youngest audience members. The makers of Freakazoid obviously embraced a lot of different types of humor. Most of all, they seemed to embrace smarter forms of humor like Monty Python or Bugs Bunny. Combining the silly and the surreal was what that sort of humor was about. Dexter Douglas is a young nerdy teen (like I was!) who got zapped by his home computer and was transported into the Internet. Let’s pause there because I would have loved to be able to be zapped into the Internet. That would have been a geek’s dream. The experience turned Dexter into Freakazoid, a manic but enthusiastic superhero. Freakazoid is always out for a good time but, like Bugs Bunny, he often has to take care of villains just to get back to the fun. Freakazoid was also the defender of Washington, DC which is close enough to my hometown for me to get a little excited. This show had the same humor as The Animaniacs (more on that later) with low humor blended with high humor. Freakazoid was impossible not to root for too.


9. Mega Man

I was an early adopter when it came to video games even though I have always been kind of in the middle of the pack when it comes to skill. Still, I have always loved the aesthetics that video game developers come up with. Even a lot of the worst games at least look interesting. When I was young, I immediately glommed onto Mega Man 2. It was an incredibly difficult game but I loved the franchise’s idea of having elemental-themed enemies with a high degree of character. The show combines the concepts from the video games with anime. Rock is a robot who gets redesigned for battle and uses an energy blaster to fight evil robots. He also had an onboard computer feature that could copy his enemy’s abilities when he touched them which was similar enough to the games. I just remember Mega Man being so cool and confident and I liked the idea of not being stuck with one power but being able to use your enemies’ powers against them. The cartoon was short lived but it included a lot of stuff from the franchise and Mega Man eventually teamed up with his future counterpart Mega Man X as well. What kid didn’t want to be a robot with a robot dog?


8. Xena: Warrior Princess

Before I discovered the Evil Dead franchise, I discovered something else that Sam Raimi and his gang produced. That something was Hercules: The Legendary Journeys but, while it was a good show, Hercules was kind of a bland show compared to its spinoff. Xena was supposed to be a one-off character on Hercules, a brutal female villain for Hercules to contend with. At the end of her turn on Hercules, the audiences loved her so the decision was made for her to reform and to start her own legendary journey to right wrongs. Basically, she was fighting the patriarchy before most people were even using that term. She was also one of the first lesbian characters on television and even gawky preteen me understood that subtext. Xena was a total badass and she never met a situation she couldn’t fight, intimidate, or trick her way out of. She was also funny in the same way that Batman was funny which is funny without trying to be. She also fought a lot of the mythology that I had fallen in love with after reading The Oddysey, The Iliad, and other Greek/Roman tales. She also is one of three characters to get stuck in a Groundhog Day-esque scenario that ended up funny and interesting. (The other two are Sam Winchester and Phil Connors himself, of course). I also often have a soft spot for tough people who secretly have a heart of gold.


7. The Blue Ranger (Billy Cranston)

Power Rangers was a show that I was a huge fan of. I had no idea at all that it was edited from footage from a similar Japanese show. However, Saban was able to turn that into an unstoppable franchise that became its own animal. For me, Power Rangers was something I watched before leaving for school at one point. I remember being really interested in the idea of normal teenage kids becoming superheroes. It also scratched the same itch that magical girl shows would later also scratch. Billy, in particular, was my favorite because he had abilities beyond being a Power Ranger. He was yet another example of blue characters being the smart ones. He was an inventor who came up with a lot of the extra gadgets the original Rangers used and a lot of those gadgets continued into later series. He was also the awkward one, a little insecure about being among other people. When it came to actual Power Ranger powers, he was on par with everybody else. Episodes focusing on him often dealt with more real issues like rescuing a new girlfriend, phobias, or science.


6. Gambit (Remy Lebeau)

When I was a kid, I hated the Boy Scouts of America. I was briefly part of the Indian Guides (now thankfully called Y-Guides) and the Scouts were our rivals. Even today, I do not put much faith in the organization. But when I was a kid, I was kind of averse to “boy scout” characters like Superman and especially Cyclops. I much preferred to see more subversive characters like Wolverine, Rogue, and especially Gambit. Gambit was a thief from New Orleans who had the mutant power to replace an object’s kinetic energy with explosive energy. Anything he touched basically turned into a grenade. He did not wear a team uniform and instead wore a custom costume with a big trench coat. This was at a time when I was very tired of wearing uniforms for sports. While Gambit did not get nearly enough time on the animated series during the nineties, they meted out just enough of him to keep people wanting more. On top of that, I always wished I had his confidence growing up.


5. Darkwing Duck

This was officially my first experience with the combination of Disney and superheroes which would end up often being a very satisfying combination. Drake Mallard is a duck living in the DuckTales universe and he dresses up and fights crime as Darkwing Duck. He is basically Batman, James Bond, and The Green Hornet combined into one hero. He is a serious hero but the show was both a serious superhero show and a parody superhero show. The character of Darkwing Duck is a superhero who fell in love with being a detective and fighting crime. However, he also had a huge ego and tended to be rather clumsy at times. He often only saved the day when he managed to get serious and get out of his own way. He fought alongside Disney-fied versions of popular superheroes and fought Disney-fied versions of popular comic book villains and James Bond-esque villains. Unlike annoying heroes like Inspector Gadget, the humor did not come from him being incompetent but from Darkwing’s quips and physical humor. The character was also a good father to a little girl he had adopted who often helped to fight crime along with DW and his sidekick Launchpad (from DuckTales). As the show continued, Darkwing’s history was added to and there was a lot of great world-building.


4. Yakko Warner

The Animaniacs was a cartoon variety show that focused on a whole cast of zany Warner Brothers style characters updated for the nineties. The main focus of the show was the Warner Brothers and their sister Dot. They were cartoons deemed too zany and disruptive and were sealed in the water tower on the Warner Brothers lot. At the beginning of the series, they finally made their escape and the studio spent the entire series trying to acclimate them to polite society with no success. The kids were not evil, though. They were rambunctious and sarcastic but, like Bugs Bunny, they really only caused malicious chaos when somebody crossed the line and upset them. Their revenge was out of proportion but justified. Out of the three, Yakko Warner was my favorite. His form of comedy was mostly wordplay. He employed puns, sarcasm, and just good old-fashioned tricks with words. He was basically a cartoon form of Groucho Marx. He always seemed to be the smartest guy in the room and he leveraged that to make mean or rude people pay for their behavior. He also sang quite a few of the show’s most memorable songs including the highly educational Yakko’s World and Yakko’s Universe. Like Groucho, he usually ended up as the leader of his siblings and their spokesman. Inside my head, the words always flowed like Yakko but outside, especially as a kid, I was never as glib.


3. Sailor Mercury (Ami)

When I was sitting on my bed, watching episodes of Sailor Moon from Cartoon Network’s line up, I always loved Sailor Mercury the most. She never had the coolest power but in retrospect, her abilities usually gave the Scouts a tactical advantage such as fog or freezing the enemy. I mean, Sailor Jupiter obviously had the coolest powers. However, Ami was present from the fifth episode and it is a good thing that she was. She is by far the smartest of all of the Scouts and was the only Scout to be granted a magical supercomputer. There is only one episode of the original anime when she pulls out her Mercury Goggles which was basically a VR overlay visor for scanning things. That blew my mind because the combination of technology and magic was amazing. I identified with Ami because she was the “smart one” and my teachers kept claiming I was intelligent. I was also interested in the emerging technology of computers just as Ami was. Also, I was probably drawn to Ami because she was the shy and timid one and that was how I felt as well.


2. Spider-Man

In the middle of the decade, Marvel finally got its crap together and started to put out really good animation. Spider-Man is a character who I have always loved. His origins are as a nerdy and shy high schooler who got to magically transform into a superhero after being bitten by a radioactive spider. As a kid, I dreamed of finding my own radioactive spider (figuratively, of course). He also got to work for a newspaper in a sort of creative job all while studying cool science in college. That cool science enhanced his gear with gadgets but his main deal was his brain, his strength, and his speed. The cartoon in the 90s was great. It really captured a lot of what I loved about reading Spider-Man comics and it included pretty much his entire rogue’s gallery. They really captured both Peter’s internal monologue and the quips that Spider-man uses to disarm his foes mid-battle. The show also explored a lot of the angst that a young superhero felt while also trying to juggle a career, school, and a girlfriend. The show and the comics made me feel at the time that I could be Spider-Man which is one of the main strengths of the character. Anybody can be under that mask as long as they have radioactive spider blood too.


1. Batman

When I was a little kid, reruns of the 1966 Batman show came on and, while I enjoyed it, I never really engaged with it. It was better than I Dream of Jeannie reruns because it had superheroes even though Adam West was never really super. My relationship with Batman drastically improved when Bruce Timm and Warner Brothers released Batman: The Animated Series. B:TAS was everything that I wanted Batman to be and it became the bar by which I measured future Batman stories. The Animated Series was an amazing mix of both light and dark. I welcomed the darkness which was so sorely lacking from the campy Adam West series. I realized that Adam West was never really Batman. This was Batman. Kevin Conroy’s strong voice matched the shadowy, adventurous character on screen. His voice could be scary, brave, warm, vulnerable, and even funny at times without losing the character of Batman. The writing made it clear that Batman was not perfect but he lived in a world that believed he was. He put the weight of the world on his shoulders and then still saved the day the best way he knew how.

Media Update 5/11/2017

May 11, 2017


Lego Batman

I am a huge fan of Batman and, with the exception of Batman v. Superman, I have seen pretty much every iteration of Batman that has been released. This movie is a spin off of The Lego Movie which was a surprise hit. The Lego Movie being a hit was a surprise to me as well because I was expecting crass commercialization but instead we got a really good story with fun characters. So, when they announced this movie, I knew it would probably be pretty good. Will Arnett’s Batman is a different animal from other Batman versions. He is flashy, brutally honest and a blowhard who is jealous of anyone who becomes more popular than him. We get Zach Galifianakis as the Joker and he is a perfect foil for Lego Batman because he is silly, cartoony and strangely sweet. This movie is the cure for the way the DC Cinematic universe has gone lately. It is not afraid to take chances and get silly. It is also one of the best Batman movies that I have seen. It references a lot of Batman and DC Comics history and acknowledges the past with reverence but too much reverence. It strikes the delicate balance of poking fun at its source material while also celebrating it. It also has the baddest woman on the planet Rosario Dawson as Barbara Gordon/Batgirl. I definitely recommend it but especially for fellow Batman fans.


Trolls

Dreamworks is a studio that is kind of hit or miss so I often let their movies pass by unless I hear some buzz. The first trailer I saw of this movie was a music video for the big original song and I was like ‘this song is good… oh it’s the Trolls movie’. This was a mistake. After watching two animated films, I decided to give this movie a shot. I remembered the trailer having good art and animation. I also found out that one of the movie’s stars is Justin Timberlake. While I was extremely anti-boy band in the nineties, I have become a fan of Timberlake in these times. He also executive produced the soundtrack which is a mix of covers of popular music and original music. Arguably the real star of the movie is Anna Kendrick whose movies I have never really seen (except Into the Woods) but she was great in this one. She and JT have great chemistry together and she is a obviously a great singer as well. There is a great supporting cast as well including Jeffery Tambor, Christine Baranski, Zooey Deschanel and Christopher Mintz-Plasse along with a great group of comedians and musicians. If you do not like pop music, then this one might not be for you but I love upbeat music so I might have to download the soundtrack at some point actually. The message of the movie was simple and some of the points were predictable but sometimes that is just the movie I want to watch. I definitely recommend it for those who love good animation, good dialogue and fun music.


Sing

I was never one for singing competitions. I love music but I never really got into declaring winners or losers because skill is not the only thing that makes a good musician. Sometimes a singer with a lot of heart beats a singer with impeccable talent. Which is kind of the message of this movie although they never really come out and say it. The movie follows a dying theater which puts on a singing competition in order to draw interest from the community and sell tickets. Of course, the movie being what it is, there are about eighty popular songs in it. For me, it becomes a bit much. Often, there is no rhyme or reason for what songs are bein sung. Somebody just looked up the last forty years or so of the Billboard listings and just had random animals singing them. There are also truly unlikable characters in the movie, chief among them is played by Seth McFarlane (of course). All that aside, there is actually a pretty sweet movie in there. Mostly because most of the main cast learns important lessons about life and show business. I was completely blown away by Taron Egerton’s musical skill but a lot of the main cast had really great performances. I recommend this one but you could probably fast forward through the Mike scenes and just be patient for the third act which is where the movie really shines.

Music of the Week:
Elton John – I’m Still Standing

Logic – Everybody

Megadeth – Sweating Bullets

Rebel and a Basketcase – Oh Yeah

My Life as Eva – Literally My Life

Weekly Update:
– This Week’s Theme is “Teamwork Makes the Dream Work”
– I watched more of Don’t Trust the B in Apt 23 Season 2
– I watched more Fairy Tail
– I watched a lot more Legends of Tomorrow Season 2
– I finished Season 1 of MST3K: The Return
– I started Better Call Saul Season 2

Media Update 1/5/2017

January 5, 2017


Justice League vs. Teen Titans

I have to admit that I have not really read much of the New 52 (some of which is currently getting half-rebooted?). In fact, it has been a while since I have read any DC Comics because of Man of Steel and the loss of a lot of characters that I really liked. The new grim and gritty direction turned me off but the animated features seem to be based on the New 52 but seem lighter. Maybe it’s the vocal performances. This movie is done in the same animation style as Young Justice and it is really pretty even if the colors seem a bit muted. I had already seen the new 52 Justice League (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash and Cyborg) but I had not seen the Teen Titans yet. This movie surprised me as it was centered around Damian Wayne as Robin. The other big star of the movie is Raven dealing with her father which is a threat big enough to draw in both teams. Most Teen Titans groups have been centered around Dick Grayson or Tim Drake. I am always happy to see Beast Boy, Blue Beetle and Raven but I was happiest to see a grown up and not-so-naive Starfire. There was a bit of comedy here and there to lighten the mood which is always needed. The story is a great introduction to the Teen Titans while continuing the Justice League and Damian’s stories from earlier animated features I have seen. There are a lot of moments I did not expect and it was a movie well worth watching. It was like a blend of Young Justice, Teen Titans, Justice League Unlimited and the New 52. I recommend watching it as it is a pretty good look at some older characters made new again.


Birds of Prey

This has been on my list for quite some time. The Birds of Prey series was a way to make the best of a bad situation with Barbara Gordon. While The Killing Joke had good artwork and a good story, it discarded Barbara Gordon like a cheap bit of tissue which was unfair to her character. Better writers picked up her character and gave her a new direction, using her mind instead of her body. It still did not really make sense but it was better than letting her die or gather dust. This show is about Barbara Gordon (as Oracle) mentoring Helena Wayne, the daughter of Batman and Catwoman. Along for the ride is Dinah, the daughter of the Black Canary who has psychic powers. They are up against Harleen Quinzel (still a psychiatrist somehow) and a cavalcade of superpowered lackeys. The show has a bit of an interesting feel to it. Since it is an alternate history that deviated from the comics early on, I had little idea what to expect. It has a bit of a Riot Grrrl feel mixed with early 2000 electronica slickness but it is extremely dated. The show was created by the same company that created Smallville but it did not survive after its first season. I can see why as it is a bit clumsy and lacks an iconic character like Superman or Batman but the show had heart. The actors and actresses are really trying their best with less than stellar scripts and there were actually a lot of actors who I love. Shemar Moore (Criminal Minds), Rachel Skarsten (Lost Girl), Mia Sara (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off) and Dina Meyer (Starship Troopers) are all solid. Aaron Paul even makes a cameo in the first episode. It’s a shame this never really got off the ground but it’s worth a look if you think you might like a combination of Charmed and Smallville.


Batman Unlimited: Mech vs. Mutants

This movie was based on a toy line that is available for purchase in toy stores everywhere. Therefore, it has a specific look it is going for which ends up being a pinch of Young Justice mixed in with a bit of Bruce Timm’s Batman the Animated Series and a lot of The Batman. Once again, I was surprised to see Damian Wayne again but he is definitely an interesting Robin. Let us not bury the lead, though. This movie is about Batman using a giant mech to fight giant monsters. As such, it does not pretend to be anything else for even a moment and does not take itself too seriously. It is a story that definitely lends itself to wackiness and a campier tone. It is also definitely a toy commercial, not that this is necessarily bad. I watched both GI Joe and Transformers when I was a kid and that is all those shows really were. We also get appearances by great characters like The Flash, Green Arrow and Nightwing as part of Batman’s team. For villains, we have Mr. Freeze, Penguin, Killer Croc, Bane, Chemo and Clayface. One of the most interesting elements to me, is that Damian is now a teenager (or older?) and has shed a lot of his arrogance. I think my favorite part is The Penguin, voiced by Dana Snyder who plays Master Shake on Aqua Teen Hunger Force. The heroes are kind of white meat but the villains really shine in this as snarky weirdos who made me laugh more than once. It is probably not a series that I will pursue but I did not hate it and I was amused throughout. I would definitely recommend it for younger Batman fans.

Music of the Week:
Jet Black Stare – Ready to Roll

The Soft Moon – Black

Butts Band – Be With Me

The Birthday Massacre – Superstition

Bad Meets Evil – Fast Lane

Weekly Updates:
– I watched more of The Magicians and it’s great
– I started watching Dusk Till Dawn Season 2
– I’m almost done Season 3 of Arrested Development
– I am on Season 5 of The Office
– I am on Season 3 of Parks and Recreation
– I can watch RAW and Smackdown again since my schedule changed!
– This week’s theme is “The Wayne Family Does it Again”

Riddle Corner:

Which was the first planet discovered?

Media Update 1/7/2016

January 7, 2016


The Hateful Eight

 

I got up early (for a Saturday) and checked this one out with some friends down at the Columbia Mall. It’s one of those movie theaters with very little character but at least I was among friends to check out a Quentin Tarantino movie. I really, really don’t want to spoil this movie because I encourage you to go see it. The run time was long but none of it felt like too much and the movie never dragged. From shot one this movie was absolutely beautiful. It sucked you in and made you feel like you were right there in the room. The dialogue is colorful, to say the least, so don’t go in and get shocked. It is Tarantino after all. The dialogue is so good because the characters are so good. Every single one of them is exactly what they needed to be. Do yourself a favor and check this one out.

Birdman (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Once again, I’ll mention that Batman (1989) was a major waypoint in my development as a kid. So when I heard that there was going to be a movie that starred Michael Keaton that touched upon his past as the first big screen Batman I was excited. I never saw it in theaters because it was a hard sell as most people I know didn’t seem to want to go see it. So, like many of these movies, I let it slip out of the theaters. Finally I saw it on DVD and I’m still reeling. The movie was absolutely not what I was expecting but that ended up being OK. The movie is a drama about an actor trying to prove to the world that he’s not just a fluke. He starred in several superhero movies but now he’s trying to direct and star in a play on Broadway. Two of the biggest waypoints in my pop culture development collding: Theater and Batman. The cast is phenomenal with Michael Keaton, Ed Norton and Emma Stone especially killing it. It was compelling and I was left struggling, searching for more afterward. Great movie but I think I was definitely part of the target audience.

The Shannara Chronicles

Wait, did I just watch a new fantasy television series on MTV? Yes I did. I haven’t watched MTV for at least a decade mostly because it stopped showing neat cartoons. I was a little shocked when they started a huge marketing campaign for a new series full of elves, demons and the world of man. I watched the first two episodes and it is very, very interesting. I had not realized that the series is a post-apocalyptic one but, unless I missed something, It is not clear whether it is Earth. Magic was a thing then it was gone and now it’s back again with a vengeance. I got the same feeling from watching the pilot that I got from the Defiance pilot. I hope that it can be on part with that show because then we’re in for a good ride. There are a lot of interesting characters and beautiful imagery. I’m going to keep checking it out.
Links of the Week:
Ben Klein – Voodoo Child (Slight Return)
The Electric Mayhem – Kodachrome
Giant Squid Footage
L7 – Pretend That We’re Dead
Nathan Barnatt – Dr. Robotnik Dance
Weekly Update:
– Flash Season 2 is really great
– I like Arrow Season 4 so far
– The season finale of Ash vs. Evil Dead was perfection
– Pretty Deadly (comic) is so beautiful and awesome
– Mythbusters is over. That’s so sad.
– Started listening to Welcome to Nightvale again

Media Update 9/24/2015

September 24, 2015


A Night at the Museum 2

At one point Ben Stiller was certainly a big thing in Hollywood. His star has cooled as of late but I remember a time when it felt like he was in everything. A lot of it sucked but some of it was decent. He also helped introduce us to a lot of quality actors and comedy writers. I remember seeing A Night at the Museum and being charmed by it. It mostly involved Ben Stiller being exasperated and sarcastic while dealing with exhibits coming to life after dark in a museum in New York City. It allowed them to cast big name actors as historical figures. The movie was funny enough where a guy rises to the occasion and saves the day against seemingly impossible odds. In the sequel, they up the ante by having the whole Smithsonian come alive. From ten minutes in until the end, the movie races along to solve a conflict. However, the pacing is really weird. At multiple points in the movie there is a deadline and the characters treat this as urgent until they need to stop and do a comedy bit. As the movie goes on, the stops and starts get a little annoying. However, most of it is pretty good and anything that includes Amy Adams and Robin Williams can’t be too bad. Although, points off for another cartoonish Hank Azaria villain. If you’ve got a lazy Sunday afternoon, give it a try but otherwise you can give it a pass.

 


The Muppets (2015 ABC Show)

I was a huge fan of reruns of the Muppet Show and I loved a lot of the old Muppets movies and liked some of the others. I actually loved Muppets Tonight, especially the appearances of Garth Brooks and Penn and Teller. When The Muppets (2011) came out, I loved it instantly. It felt like they had taken the old, zany joy of the show and brought it into the new century. It was what stuff like Muppet Wizard of Oz failed to do. Muppets Most Wanted was good but not as good as The Muppets but still definitely good. Then I heard that people were boycotting the new show because it was “lewd”. It was time to definitely check it out. The show follows the Muppets backstage at a fictional show and in their personal lives. It’s shot documentary style which I guess is similar to The Office even though I never really watched that show. It feels more like 30 Rock actually. The show is good. It made me laugh out loud which is exactly what I wanted from it. I’m also interested to see the Muppets have a plot beyond the running time of a movie too. I got oddly invested in these puppets social lives mostly because the people behind the Muppets have always been really good at imbuing the characters with life. I’d recommend you check it out.

 


Gotham

I can’t remember if I’ve spoken about Gotham before or not. I know I have spoken about how I saw Batman (1989) at age 7 and it most likely altered what I liked for the rest of my life. I will be a lifetime fan of Batman even if they stop producing Batman stuff at some point. I’ve spoken about all the great Batman stuff I’ve seen and consumed. With all that said, it was a no-brainer that I would check out Gotham. I have to admit I was a little skeptical of a Batman show set before Batman. The show primarily follows Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock trying to solve crimes in Gotham City. The show also follows Bruce Wayne trying to find out who killed his parents as he didn’t get a good look at them in that alleyway. There is a third storyline that follows organized crime in Gotham. The breakout character is that of The Penguin, a young man who is slowly climbing up in the city. The acting is really good. Donal Logue (Bullock) and Robin Lord Taylor (Penguin) are definitely the standout actors but kudos to every single person I’ve seen on the show. The writers sprinkle a lot of fun stuff for the die hard fans while also taking it in a new direction that pretty much everyone can enjoy. Check it out.

 

Awesome Links:
You Made A Dinosaur, Morty!
Bananacres
Dredd Savage: Igcognito
Tupperware Remix Party – Take On Me
Dokken – Dream Warriors

 

Updates:
– More Halloween is in place. I must consume more Halloween.
– I saw the new Crimson Peak trailer. I will consume this also.
– I’m saddened that both Silent Hills and Pacific Rim 2 are canceled. Poor Guillermo.
– Youtube’s new Gaming section is brilliant and providing great new livestreams
– Batman v. Superman will probably be the first Batman thing I don’t see


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