OP-ED: The ‘DC Universe’ on film

'Batman v Superman'

OP-ED: The ‘DC Universe’ on film

'Batman v Superman'
‘Batman v Superman’

Unless you have been living under a rock since the 2013 San Diego Comic Con, you will have heard that summer 2015 will be the season of ‘Batman Vs. Superman’ or is that ‘Superman vs. Batman’?

The news was broken to a packed hall by director Zack Snyder and ‘Man of Steel’ co-star Harry Lennix with the news immediately going world-wide and the sounds of elated fan boys being heard across the state.

We’re a year away from this film going into production and two years from it’s potential release but already the blogosphere is alive with the casting rumours, plot ideas and logo mash-ups.

The easiest place to look for potential story ideas is Frank Miller’s seminal story of ‘The Dark Knight Returns’ that was also recently adapted into a two-part DTV movie to massive acclaim. Snyder chose to introduce his future plans (via Lennix) with a quote from this very story but chances are that these are not the versions of Batman and Superman that you will be seeing on your local IMAX in 2015.

‘Returns’ paints a brilliant picture of an aging Bruce and Clark and one of the reasons that the story has become such a cult favourite is the brilliant interplay between the two but I don’t think that fans should expect to see any of the story directly adapted for the screen here.

The news has broken this week that Snyder is looking to Frank Miller for inspiration in crafting the story – take this with a pinch of salt though – which I think is a clever move because his stories have influenced the friendship between these characters for every writer that has written for them since. However if this film is to exist as a sequel to ‘Man of Steel’, a re-introduction to Batman and an introduction to Snyder’s Justice League universe, then the characters we need to see have to exude far less maturity than those depicted in ‘Returns’.

The DC film universe is still only in its infancy. Christopher Nolan’s ‘Dark Knight’ franchise may still be in the zeitgeist but if the universe of ‘Man of Steel’ is to officially be separate then we have to date only spent 143 minutes in this world and I don’t think Snyder or Warner Bros. are going to be prepared to make that kind of creative leap right now.

The purpose of this film is going to cement to the viewing public that Snyder’s (not to forget David Goyer) incarnation of Superman is able to hold his own on screen against a juggernaut like Batman. Yes Batman has had his dark days on screen (around 1997 perhaps?) but he is riding the wave of Christopher Nolan and is currently considered box office gold. Superman has been absent from the big screen for much of the last few decades barring the minor box office success of Bryan Singer’s ‘Superman Returns’ and Warner Bros. are feeling the pressure to bring these two characters to a level pegging.

Looking to the future there’s undoubtedly a huge amount of pressure on both DC Comics and Warner Bros. to repeat the success that Marvel have had with Disney in launching ‘The Avengers’ via their ‘Phase 1’ movies.  Not only is ‘Avengers’ (I’m not calling it ‘Avengers Assemble’) one of the most successful movies ever at the worldwide box office, but Warner can’t be seen to follow the exact same path leading up to the big group movie.

Marvel cleverly gave each character their own movie as an introduction whilst placing threads that would eventually pull together to form the first ‘Avengers’ movie.

What DC now needs to do is find it’s own spin on this setup and this is why I think we are seeing a team up movie rather than a Superman franchise followed by a new Batman franchise etc.

DC are also reaping the massive benefits of Arrow becoming a hit series on The CW network. As Marvel attempt to conquer the TV platform with their ‘Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D’ series this season, DC already have a proven track record in this field. With the inclusion of The Flash in season 2 at some point there is hopefully going to be a merging of the platforms.

DC/Warner Bros. have found a creative partner in Synder who, with Goyer at his side, is setting himself up to finally be the man to bring the Justice League to the big screen in a credible and significant fashion.

‘Batman ’66′ #5

COMIC REIVEW: ‘Batman ’66’ #5

The conclusion of Penguin’s first new comic book saga…

‘Batman ’66′ #5
‘Batman ’66′ #5

Cover by Mike Allred

Written by Jeff Parker

Art by Tye Templeton

Coloured by Wes Hartman

Purchase your digital copy @ Comixology now

Beware of spoilers!

After an issue that left me feeling like something was missing last week this weeks conclusion to the ‘Emperor Penguin’ lights a rocket under the pace and blasts this shorter story through to a baffling conclusion.

The Riddler arc which came before this lasted for three issues whereas this story is split in to two parts much like an episode of the old TV series. I’m not sure if this had been published but either way it came as a slight surprise to me; especially as part one felt like it had very similar pacing to the previous arc. Going in to this issue I had assumed we would get some exposition and then an exciting cliffhanger to take us in to a thrilling final part next week.

Jeff Parker’s story is still the shining light of this series. With ‘Emperor Penguin’ he has crammed the same amount of story as can be found in the previous arc but in two-thirds of the space. This issue suffers slightly from too much story when you think that there are only 23 pages and we have to rescue Batman; solve the crime, have the big fight and save the day.

I loved the introduction of a Bat-vehicle never before seen in the TV series. It was a perfect fit for the story and didn’t feel out of the ordinary for the universe in which the story exists and this is something that I know I keep saying but Parker deserves so much credit for inventing credible stories that feel like they could have been episodes of the series had the budget been available to them.

I do still have to nitpick some of the artwork but as I said in my review of issue #4 I am not criticising Tye Templeton’s artwork for being poor, This issue is again consistent, it’s that the lack of strong representations of West and Ward are still present here. There are such details panels of Burgess Meredith throughout both chapters of this story yet a recognisable image of Burt Ward is not present at all here and after five issues I’m longing to see a great portrait of the Dynamic Duo together.

It’s not enough to put me off reading further issues but it is becoming a bugbear of mine.

Batman ‘66 is definitely a fun read, there’s absolutely no doubt about that but it could be a brilliant read. It’s never going to be a hard hitting; gritty representation of Batman and Robin but it could take the pair and put them in settings that feel like they have been translated from comics of the 60s and 70s to really up the fun factor.

I mentioned this quite a bit in relation to the last issue but the missing DC²  really has definitely impacted my enjoyment. It’s such a fun addition that fits the atmosphere of the tv series. The brilliant fight sequence in #3 is here followed up by a 2 panel page… a 2 panel page for a fight based in the world of TV Batman?! It’s just not enough.

5/10

Next week: Chandell’s Chanteuse!

‘Lois & Clark’ Season 1 DVD

CLASSIC REVIEW: ‘Lois & Clark’ Season 1 DVD

Up, up and away with season 1 of the classic 90s TV series on DVD for our first classic review.

‘Lois & Clark’ Season 1 DVD
‘Lois & Clark’ Season 1 DVD

Directed by various

Written by various

Purchase your copy @ Amazon.co.uk now

Beware of spoilers… if that’s still possible 20 years later!It’s Friday; it’s the end of the week so why not dive in to the vault and review a good old blast-from-the-past TV show that was a big part of my childhood.

It’s hard to believe that this show first premiered 20 years ago – September 12th 1993 to be exact – and still holds up well against modern day shows. This DVD set was released in 2006 and contains the first 21 episodes (click here for a complete list) across 6 discs and includes a small amount of bonus features:

  • Commentary on the pilot by Dean Cain, executive producer Deborah Joy LeVine, and director Robert Butler
  • From Rivals to Romance: series retrospective documentary
  • “Taking Flight: The Visual Effects of Lois & Clark
  • Original pilot presentation introducted by Deborah Joy LeVine
  • Interviews with Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher

The premise of the show is to skip the years that Clark (Dean Cain) lived in Smallville and pickup the story as he arrives to start a new life in Metropolis. The usual cast of characters are present: Lois Lane (Terri Hatcher), Jimmy Olsen (here played by Michael Landes) and of course Perry White (Lane Smith). Also present is Martha Kent (K Callan) and in a change to the Superman mythos also Jonathan Kent (Eddie Jones).

It doesn’t take a genius to work out who the big-bad for the first season of the show is: Lex Luthor (John Shea).

The arc of the season follows the growing reputation of Superman and the burgeoning love triangle between Clark/Superman, Lois and Luthor. Thrown in for good measure are a whole load of brilliant villain of the week characters including: cyborgs, evil clones and Federal Agents working for the shady Bureau 39.

I’ve recently been re-watching this series and even upscaled through a blu-ray player the image holds up well. The special effects, as expected look pretty crude in places but are now just part of the charm of this little series. Much in the way that we look back at old episodes of Star Trek and fondly remember how the effects were at the forefront of technology available at the time.

The chemistry between Cain and Hatcher is the crux of the show but actually the relationships between all the characters function brilliantly thanks to the diligent work by the various writers who passed through the series during its run.

The show feeds off the will-they-wont-they which was such a draw for ‘Moonlighting’ before it and most recently ‘Bones’ which much like ‘Lois & Clark’ continued to be a success after the will-they-wont-they is resolved.

The DVD itself is a slip cover containing three small cases, each containing two discs and brief episode details on the slipcover. The artwork here isn’t outstanding but it never is for shows of this magnitude.

The special features are brief but it’s nice for me as a viewer who was too young to be interested in following behind the scenes of the show have a little insight in to the hysteria that surrounded the show.

For younger audiences who are perhaps more familiar with the ‘Smallville’ series or even just the ‘Superman Returns’ and ‘Man of Steel’ movies this would be a great insight in to Superman history as well being an all round enjoyable 90s TV drama.

I suggest you run out and pick this up if you haven’t already.

7/10

'Thor: The Dark World' Poster Artwork

FILM NEWS: This Thursday is THORSDAY!

So today Entertainment Weekly revealed a new poster for the upcoming Thor sequel from Marvel, Thor: The Dark World, due for release this winter.

I don’t know about you, but it certainly reminds me of the old Star Wars posters – which in my opinion is not a bad thing – although they do seem to have included the ENTIRE cast; even the extras seem to get a look in! I’m not sure how I feel about this poster’s portrayal of Natalie Portman’s character Jane, as she seems more of a damsel-in-distress than the previous film made her out to be; maybe we can put that down to the appearance of Malekith, and the fact that she isn’t the one with Godly powers, holding a giant hammer…

'Thor: The Dark World' Poster Artwork
‘Thor: The Dark World’ Poster Artwork

It certainly has me more than a little excited, I might just have to go and re-watch Thor in anticipation!

Let us know what you think of the new poster, are you excited for the next instalment in Marvel’s Thor franchise?

-DW

‘Beware the Batman’ S01E03 ‘Tests’

TV REVIEW: ‘Beware the Batman’ S01E03 ‘Tests’

Anarchy arrives in Gotham City.

‘Beware the Batman’ S01E03 ‘Tests’
‘Beware the Batman’ S01E03 ‘Tests’

Directed by Curt Geda

Written by Jim Krieg

Watch it on Cartoon Network USA @ 10:00 Saturdays!

Beware of spoilers!


This week on ‘Beware the Batman’ Anarky arrives in Gotham City and to cause… well… anarchy.

Here is another character with whom I am not familiar however he has recently been on my radar due to his inclusion in the upcoming Batman: Arkham Origins game to be released in October. My knowledge of him still only extends to knowing that he’s not too dissimilar to the Riddler.

After featuring Pyg & Toad in episode one this show has stuck to characters who put the viewer in mind of other (or is that more famous) villains from within the Batman mythos. I can’t decide if this is to help the viewer settle in to the idea of avoiding the a-list rogues gallery or purely coincidental because there are just so many villains out there that it is inevitable that characteristics will overlap.

Anarky sadly doesn’t quite carry the weight that I had hoped he would. Looking at his costume from the comics I’m not sure why the productions designers on this show have decided to go with an all-white look for him other than to allow references to Batman – dressed in full black – being his total opposite.

I’ve read in the press that producers are touting Anarky as being a major villain in this series and if this is to be true then I am disappointed that they have chosen to introduce him in an episode that feels rushed.

Much of Anarky’s plan is carried out by hired henchmen – albeit ones who appeared in the last episode in a moment of continued great continuity – which takes away from his ability to be a lone threat and as such his character feels weak in comparison to last week’s Magpie. This also affects the story which doesn’t feel as strong as the mystery of ‘Secrets’ but that’s not to say there isn’t a lot to take in and enjoy here.

I can’t fault the continuing storylines that a running throughout each episode in addition to the villain of the week. The story of Tatsu and her mistrust of Bruce is a highlight to the show and it’s a welcome change to have her still unaware that Bruce is Batman after three episodes although I don’t think it will be much longer before she learns the truth.

Alfred is still wearing the cast on his leg so the injury sustained in ‘Hunted’ is still lingering which although painful for him is just brilliant for continuity. I’m impressed with the attention to detail on this show which great for helping me forget that I’m watching a style of animation that I am not fond of in a 30min format.

One character that has been sadly lacking in this series is the city of Gotham itself. In episodes one and two it felt somewhat sterile which many of the scenes focussing on abandoned buildings and unpopulated areas but this week Anarchy has at least taken some of the action to Gotham’s citizens and this allows the show to widen its soundscape whilst providing a more realistic image on screen. It would be great to be introduced to further supporting players in this Gotham universe: perhaps Lucius Fox/Wayne Enterprises or even the Mayor of Gotham.

Overall this episode is a slightly bump in the road for a series which is still only in it early infancy on our screens.

5/10