Monthly Archives: June 2006

The Joker Will Kill Katie Holmes

According to Clint Morris at Moviehole.net:

Katie will indeed be reprising her role as Rachel Dawes for the “Batman” sequel – as brief as her turn may be. Can’t say anymore without being pummelled by David S. Goyer.

Nice. I have doubts whether we’ll be fortunate enough to see a grisly on-screen death for Kirsten Dunst in Spider-Man 3 (you’d think the least Harry Osborne could do would be to accidentally kill her and blame Spidey for it) but the next best thing is to see Katie Holmes bite the big one, probably courtesy of the Joker. All in order to provide Bruce with some additional motivation, of course, and give him an opportunity to kill the Joker, then decide not to indulge his vengeance.

In general, I’m a fan of characters returning even if it’s just to be killed off (Cyclops) rather than just being ignored (Nightcrawler). HT: Cinematical.

Nobody’s Guide to the Spider-Man 3 Teaser

(Best viewable in Mozilla Firefox.)

After revealing Spider-Man perched like a gargoyle in his new costume, the sequence of action shots begins with a classic pose of Spidey, jumping off of what looks like Saruman’s tower of Isengard:

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Then returning cast members appear, such as Kirsten Dunst looking just as much like a drowned rat as she did in the last one. Face it, tiger, you just hit the jackpot — NOT!

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Now here’s the alien symbiote syrup-titiously attaching itself to Spidey, which shows Raimi tapping into his low-budget horror expertise:

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It’s evident from the next shot as well as on-set photos that Spidey’s traditional costume in this movie has actually been modified a bit, in particular the blue portion which is more gray than navy:

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This is actually more consistent with the costume’s original depiction. Steve Ditko intended the Spider-Man costume to be red and black, with blue used only to highlight it, to make it look three-dimensional. (It’s the reason Superman’s hair always has blue in it — his hair is really black, and blue is a conventional color-code for “shiny black.”) This can be seen in the first comic book featuring Spider-Man:

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On May 4th . . .

THE MUMMY RETURNS:

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It’s not just Spidey who’s looking more formal this season; everybody is dressing up. Black is the new Kimono:

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Hopefully that kiss happens right before the alien symbiote crawls out of Peter’s sleeve and strangles Mary Jane in a fit of jealous rage. Or better yet, pours itself down her throat and drowns her in sentient tar!

Sorry, daydreaming there. Moving on, James Franco ditches his father’s Power Rangers suit for a more modest . . . Green Hornet mask? Well, I suppose it’s an improvement:

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In a controversial divergence from comic book continuity, Peter Parker begins to eschew his skinny nerd reputation in favor of a more Pillsbury Doughboy look:

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And finally, we end where we began, with the tyrannizing influence of Lord of the Rings showing through yet again:

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Stay Tuned

Unfortunately for the blogosphere, I've been travelling recently and visiting lots of friends who are surprisingly more interesting than my widescreen laptop screen.

But in the pipeline are overdue reviews of several movies and comics, including The Devil and Daniel Johnston, X-Men 3 (a unique interpretation I believe), All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder #4, and anything else I read or see in the meantime.

I also read Superman: Red Son tonight for the first time. Definitely clever throughout, but my favorite twist was the sci-fi turn it suddenly took in the last five pages. Admittedly it's a common genre plot convention but it was a brilliant application to a familiar story and made it completely new, yet seemed so natural once done. Why didn't I think of that?

Angel of the Bat

Superman as surrogate Jesus is fine with Hollywood, but a Bible-believing Batgirl is evidentally too controversial for DC. (Too bad they didn't consider the money — an influx of churchgoing-parent-approved middle-class disposable income could have resurrected the comics market!)

Gail Simone (writer extraordinaire of Birds of Prey, Villains United, and Secret Six) came up with a revolutionary new direction for Batgirl that was ultimately rejected in favor of Cassandra becoming the new leader of the League of Assassins, as currently depicted in the Robin title. But Simone's concept was rather the opposite (HT to the Fortress):

I was asked to come up with a direction for Batgirl, something new that would give her a fresh platform. I gave it a ton of thought, and the direction I came up with was this (obviously this is the abridged version):

Batgirl saves this minister, a guy who preaches to the homeless of Gotham City, a real get-down-into-it guy, from a vicious robbery. He's beaten badly, and Batgirl lashes out at the gang viciously, until he begs her to stop. He's forgiven them, let the police handle it, he says.

Batgirl is utterly baffled. She doesn't get it. Forgiveness for those who kill and injure innocents isn't part of the batcode. She starts visiting the minister in the hospital. He talks to her, not to convert her, but the belief he has in God is so moving and unshakable, that she comes to think of him as incredibly strong. Everything about him is the opposite of Batman–he's at peace, he doesn't believe in violence, and above all, he's got the joy of God in him, in every part of him. He tells her he used to be a bad, violent man, and the book changed him. The idea appeals to and terrifies her.

So, even though she can barely, barely read, she buys a bible, and at first, she's afraid to even open it. It must be a dangerous and powerful book to change men's hearts so. Each sentence is a struggle at first, and she has to call Oracle and Robin and Alfred to have words explained to her. But one day, bam, she gets it.

From then on, she is truly devout, truly converted. She wears a white bat outfit and starts looking out for the most vulnerable of Gotham's residents, runaways, immigrants, homeless people, mentally ill people, etc, because that's what she understands the minister would do. She still issues righteous beatings because she's a little bit old testament, but she talks scripture with both the minister and the gang members. She believes.

And after a while, she gets a new nickname…many people don't call her Batgirl anymore, she becomes to them, the Angel of the Bat. And for the first time, she's genuinely happy.

That's the pitch. Now here's Simone description of the editorial reaction and why she thinks it didn't happen: 

Okay, here's the thing. I am not religious. In fact, I am an atheist, and you guys know I'm liberal as all hell. But I too believe Conservatives and religious people have been represented cheaply and unfairly (sometimes stupidly) in comics. When I turned in my pitch/outline (and I wasn't pitching for the book, just being asked what direction I might see for it), the editor instantly thought I meant it in a condescending way…like she would be religious, but would be shown to be naive, or that it would be just a fad, from an intellectual standpoint.

But that's not what I meant at all. I meant that she REALLY believes, and isn't stupid OR ashamed. Is in fact proud of it. Quotes the bible. Asks questions about matters of faith and scripture. And that she would be using her very dark knowledge in a redemptive way. I felt, and feel, that religious readers are often spoken down to in comics, and this would be a character change that would be fascinating for non-believers as well. But no cheating. No smirking. No trying to put in a knowing wink to the parts of the audience who aren't themselves religious.

The weird thing is, the idea actually seemed sort of radical, apparently, as I don't believe they thought it could be carried off sincerely. I don't see why not…it's a character. Her belief system doesn't have to match the writer's, or I couldn't write Dr. Psycho and Chuck couldn't write, say, anyone who isn't a gun nut (I'm kidding!!! Love ya, Chuck!).

Anyway, that was my idea, Angel of the Bat. For whatever reason, that idea seems a thousand times more controversial than having her be the head of the League of Assassins.

I'm not bitter about it, and hopefully I can revisit the idea somewhere, but with all the grim, hopeless characters in the bat-verse, I thought it would be delightful and seditious to do the exact opposite and present a sincere, hopeful and positive version of the character. Batman's reaction alone would be priceless.

So, I did try, anyway!

Gail 

I think it would've been very interesting to see how this developed. A superhero who quotes the Bible would probably become tedious, with the danger of seeming preachy, but a character who actually struggles with forgiveness vs retaliation would make for some undoubtedly fascinating stories, and provide a ton of moral dilemmas in terms of decided how to handle any number of ethical or life-endangering situations in a manneer consistent with her faith.

But it's never too late for this direction. Considering her fans' nearly universal outrage over Cassandra's current direction, wouldn't Batgirl: Born Again be the ideal solution? If anything, the depth to which she has recently fallen is a perfect set-up for an Angel of the Bat.

Media finally notice Superman allegory 28 years late

Three weeks after my post on the Christology of Superman, CNN comes up with a non-story suggesting (or saying others have suggested) that Warner Bros. is incorporating a Christian allegory into the plot of Superman Returns — basically amounting to He's Gone But Now He's Back — in order to tap into the megabucks that fuelled the box office successes of The Passion and Narnia. (HT to the Jawa Report.)

Speculation was originally prompted by the first teaser trailer which featured Marlon Brando's voice talking about sending his only son to the earth to be its savior. Fair enough. But the article never observes that this stuff was all in the original movie (the origin of the Brando recording, after all!), and Singer is just trying to make his sequel consistent with the Donner films.

JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS (2001)

Most movies would be disappointing after the It-Job but I needed to see Josie and the Pussycats because my girlfriend Rosario Dawson has been pestering me to complete her back catalogue. However I was pleasantly surprised to find it a satirical version of Zoolander, with the recording-industrial complex as the center of a mind-controlling conspiracy instead of modelling agencies. Since Josie was released a few months before Zoolander, however, I guess it has the prior claim.

Parker Posey plays the Mugatu/Will Ferrell character who reveals secrets such as VH1’s Behind the Music being a way to exploit the demises of bands which they cause in the first place when performers get suspicious. I never thought a movie’s most memorable moments could be cameos by Carson Daly and the disembodied voice of Mr. Moviefone, but it’s hard to see either one of them the same from now on. Furthermore, watching it five years later makes simple jokes like “Heath Ledger is the new Matt Damon” eerily prescient after Brothers Grimm, and the logos all over the Target-sponsored Lear Jet make it look more like U2’s Vertigo tour plane.

Given that it sends up the cutthroat world of teenage commerce, it’s unsurprisingly the most product-placed movie you’ll ever see and half the fun is seeing how tacky it gets, such as a McDonalds shower complete with a french fries sponge. But admittedly, there are so many levels of self-conscious irony you begin to second guess whether the movie is itself just a cleverly pre-emptive innoculation against a real conspiracy.

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Alan Cumming as Manager of the Boy Band Du Jour. (No, “Du Jour” is the band’s name.)

THE ITALIAN JOB (1969)

I've been intending to see the original Italian Job for a long time, and it helpfully appeared on TV this afternoon. It was better than I expected. I'd heard it was good, but Michael Caine was cooler than cool and the final chase surprised me. I was expecting a traditional Bourne Identity style chase through the streets but it was quite original.

Mike Caine also has one of the best-ever last lines that you don't realise is a last line until the credits come up. I was on the edge of my seat (actually I was laying on the couch, but I was on the mental edge of my mental seat) and couldn't believe it when the cast scroll started. Movies should do that more often because it puts a smile on everyone's face as the movie ends, and it's better for people to wish the movie kept going than for it go too far.

I love Mark Wahlberg, and Charlize Theron, and Ed Norton, and Jason Statham… but their version can't possibly be better than the orginal gangstas so I don't think I'll bother looking it up. And if no one sings "we're the self preservation society" then what point is there, really?

Superman for Seasons Past

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The concept of Batman Confidential admittedly doesn't sound any different than Legends of the Dark Knight, but I'm very excited about Superman Confidential because the first story arc will be written by Darwyn Cooke and drawn by Tim Sale.

I think we've seen enough of Sale's version of Batman (I count 32 full-length issues plus 6 of Catwoman, not to mention covers for Detective and Batgirl) but only four issues of his interpretation of Superman — arguably his best work — so I'm glad DC decided not to give Sale his "default" assignment.

Yet the new piece won't be a simple rehash of his Superman for All Seasons material. According to an interview at Newsarama, Sale says:

The art style I'm using is different, but the innocence that my Superman has is the same. There is more variety in his expressions perhaps, in this version than the one I drew in For All Seasons.

I wanted very much to have a different look than For All Seasons, both because I want that look to be special for the stories I do with Jeph, and because I felt this story deserved its own look. I do think I have matured as an artist since then also, and there will be some difference from that, too.

Even Better Than the Real Thing

What happened when the Emperor took a collect call from Darth Vader. Palpatine voiced by Sith MacFarlane.

Naughty words bleeped out poorly, so possibly NSFW audio depending on where you work, but the video is squeakly clean. HT: Photon Torpedoes.