It Ain’t Easy Being Green (Green Lantern, 2011)

green-lantern-movie-posterTwo years before the Man of Steel, Warner Brothers had an opportunity to start building their cinematic universe.  In simple ways, they could have started building.  Hints of a bigger universe…start introducing characters who could cross the films.  I have talked about the missed opportunity before.

The film introduces us first to the ancient evil Parallax trapped by the powerful Green Lantern Abin Sur.  When some unfortunate astronauts stumble into his prison, he uses their fear to free himself and pursue Abin Sur.  This results in Sur crash landing on earth and his magic ring seeking a worthy person.  It chooses carefree pilot Hal Jordan.  When he is dragged into space he is trained in the ways of Space Copping by Sinestro, Tomar-Re and Kilowog.  Sinestro is dismissive of Jordan, thinking he is unworthy of being a part of the core.  Tomar-Re and Kilowog are less certain.  Hal returns to earth and tries to patch things up with Carol Ferris, a fellow pilot and daughter of the guy who owns Ferris Industries.  Both are not noticing the changes occurring their friend Hector Hammond, who was infected by Parallax.

There is a final grand battle where Hal Jordan vanquishes Parallax into the sun all by himself.  Note, Sinestro took a squadron of the finest Lanterns with him and they were all destroyed in seconds.  The film also has a voice over from Tomar-Re declaring Hal the best Green Lantern ever!  This is not a particularly good way to end the first film in a franchise.  It clearly was not meant to be the only film in the series based on the end credits scene.

Characters appear that have no place and are used very poorly, such as Amanda Waller, who resembles he namesake not one bit.  Using a universe ending villain in your first story pretty much means you have nowhere left to go.  No other villain is going to feel like such a large threat after that.

Reynolds is rather charming, but ironically, he and Blake Lively have no onscreen chemistry in the film.  The characters are bland, and how Hal uses the ring are not terrible imaginative (He makes a car! A jet plane! A Gatling Gun!).  The effect are decent, but not really memorable.  Maybe I hoped for better from the director of Casino Royal.  But this film missed the mark on many levels and failed to take the opportunity to start building the franchise they wanted.  Which I guess is all the better for Deadpool.

I Watches the Watchmen (Watchmen, 2009)

untitledHonestly, I was feeling slightly hesitant bout seeing this film.  For one, the mini-series has a longstanding reputation as being “UN-filmable”due to it’s dense and complex structure.  Certain “commentators” and critics had me wondering if I was about to see a movie that was setting new standards in levels of sex and gore.

Seventies Italian Giallo filmmakers have nothing to fear. Countless films crossed these lines long before Watchmen, and so as a film, Watchmen covers no new territory there, nor is it a sign of sinking depravity.

Overall, the film was one I really did enjoy.  The visual look of the film is stylish, though not as hyper stylish as, say, Sin City or the Spirit.  But it is a visual feast.  It is interesting, because while the setting is often dark and grimy, the colors still seem vibrant.

The opening ten minutes are flat out brilliant, beginning with the murder that kicks off the mystery the forms the groundwork of the story.  The credits are beautifully framed, they are like living photographs that give us a quick primer for the alternate timeline, from the rise of the masked hero to the present.

From there we jump into character introductions, following the one remaining masked vigilante, Rorschach.    As personified by Jackie Earl Haley, Rorschach comes to life.  Rorschach is admittedly a troublesome character.  He’s a bigoted sociopath, yet, strangely compelling in his black and white view.  The appeal of heroes that see in black and white is easy to understand.  The willingness to step forward and fight a perceived evil without compromise sounds noble.  But Rorschach is the other side of black and white thinking.  People are rarely so easily divisible between all good and all evil (in spite of the right and left’s desire to cast anyone who disagrees with them in the role of great evil).  And Rorschach is a reflection of the path blind devotion to a black and white view of justice can take.  Haley still manages to give him moments where you are compelled to root for him, or even feel sorrow for him.

The Comedian, whose death is the catalyst of the story, is a heartless bastard, who has looked deep into the heart of the world and walked away without hope and full of cynicism and depravity.  He likes hurting people and takes joy in cruelty.  A nationalist with no soul, he ultimately becomes undone emotionally by own lack of compassion.  He is the man stricken be a broken heart he did not think he had.  And Jeffrey Dean Morgan brings the character to life.  It’s a near perfect performance, successfully bringing Moore’s creation to life.

I was unsure of Patrick Wilson as Dan Dreiberg, the Nite Owl.  Early pictures had him looking a tad too fit.  But the instant I saw Dan, I knew this was the guy I remembered.  Wilson brings the character a certain melancholy  that I thought might be lost in translation.  But this is a guy who regrets having given up, but has gotten soft over the years.  He is truly the closes thing to a hero in the film.

Malin Ackerman was a bit more disappointing, at times her delivery is a bit stiff.  However, there are times where she embodies the insecurity that riddles Laurie (Silk Spectre II).  It just stands out against so many of the other performances.  I also worried about Matthew Goode as he seemed… too fragile, but once on screen, I felt he carried the presence that was required by a character hailed as the smartest man on earth.  Billy Crudup also provides a nice, distant feel with Dr. Manhattan.  Manhattan is the most powerful, and only truly super powered hero in the story.  But his powers are so immense, that he has lost touch with humanity, unable to connect to us any longer.

The story unfolds slowly, but certainly not at a boring pace, and Snyder has managed to keep it feel like it is moving along, even when watching talking heads.  It’s a challenge to the traditional super-hero story in which might makes right and heroes are noble people.  Instead, the heroes are driven by a myriad of goals.  And even the film’s villain is seeking to save humanity from itself.

The film is visually stunning, and the costumed heroes do not look like silly tights.  The sets (unlike Snyder’s 300, which was filmed in front of a blue screen, much of the streets of the collapsing 1985 cities were built) are carefully created and convincing.  And the film really plays in to Snyder’s strengths as a filmmaker.

My two main criticisms are semi related.  One is the music.  The song choices are all so on the nose, Snyder shows little flair in this film for original song choices (unfortunate as his Dawn of the Dead remake had the single best use of a Johnny Cash song in a film ever, as well as other inspired choices).  Really? The Sounds of Silence for a funeral scene?  And then there is the absurdly explicit sex scene.  People were laughing, suggesting it was having the opposite effect.  It did not help that it was set to the Leonard Cohen classic Hallelujah.  But in the overall scheme of things?  These are minor quibbles, the film is largely a success and compelling in it’s own right.

Snyder did good.  The cast did great (overall).  The gory moment are not the point of the film, and while some are there, they are ultimately serving the story.  Most of the condemnation I have seen for the film could be just as applicable to the source material.

It’s not for kids, and I would never recommend a parent take their child to this movie.  But what do I know?  I thought the Dark Knight was inappropriate for children and tons of people tell me their kids loved it.

On a random ending note…I saw one question that seems so, “Wait a minute”.  On Veit’s TVs Rambo is playing on one screen.  In a world where we won the Vietnam War… why would Rambo get made?  I suppose in the world of Watchmen, it’s an alternate universe tale… “What if we didn’t win?” 😉

You’re Super, Supergirl (Supergirl, 1984)

supergirl-movie-posterWarner Brothers was seeking to expand the Superman franchise.  Bringing on the director of Jaws 2 (Jeannot Szwarc) and the writer of the Dark Crystal and the Masters of the Universe (David Odell) to craft a tale of the Maid of Might.

The movie opens in Argo City which is floating in some kind of alternate dimension populated by Kryptonians stuck inside a crystal city.  We are introduced to Kara Zor-El who is friends with the artist Zaltar (Peter O’Toole).  He has stolen, pardon, borrowed an Omegahedron.  This is a power source that keeps the city alive.  It is lost and Kara pursues it.  Wouldn’t you know it, the Omegahedron lands in the picnic of of a witch named Selena (Faye Dunaway).  I do not mean witch metaphorically.  She actually a witch.  And she plans to use the Omegahedron to take over the world.

Kara lands on earth in full Supergirl gear.  She is in her blue and red outfit.  Because all Kryptonians dress like this.  There is a bit where she learns to use her powers.  This is actually kind of cute sequence, and Helen Slater actually shows a lot of gracefulness in her approach to flying.

Kara discovers a school (Midvale) and sneaks in as a new student.  She becomes Linda Lee and instead of glasses, uses brown hair to disguise herself.  She is roomed with Lucy Lane.  The movie is full of References to the Superman.  Lucy is related to Lois.  Kara asked about her cousin.  News reports mention Superman.  The single definitive connection is the arrival of Jimmy Olson (Marc McClure). Jimmy is kind of selfish jerk, telling Kara/Linda not to help a guy in trouble.  Superman’s pal saying “don’t help people”.

Both Selena sets her sights on hunky dope Ethan (Hart Bochner).  Selena seduces him with a spell planning to make him fall in love.  Except he wakes up under the spell Selena cast…but the first woman he sees is Linda Lee.

Supergirl must defeat Selena in the climactic battle, or course.  Yhis involves thing like the shortest visit to the Phantom Zone ever and magic fireballs.  One thing that stands out here is that the film has no concept of time.  When Selena creates a mountain top fortress and sends Supergirl into the Phantom Zone, she soon is driving around town and faces Lucy Lane in the streets, Lucy claims Linda disappeared the day the mountain appeared.  But it seems like it was the same day, but based on the comment, it could be days or weeks.  Who knows, the movie apparently doesn’t.  And then there is a moment in the fight where Supergirl seems to forget she can fly and stumbles around a breaking floor.

The design sense is a pretty straight forward “small town” aesthetic.  Except for Selena’s hideout.  Selena’s lair is total comic book evil lair.  She lives in a run down carnival fun house.  Cause that is totally where witches live.  The crystal city of Argo is kind of boring, but then so was Krypton as imagined in the Reeve Superman films.  And part of the design includes rotating lights from a football stadium.

The positives?  Supergirl is smart and resourceful.  Yeah, they play her as naive, but this is pretty understandable.  When she is doing her heroics, she is quite clever.  Lucy Lane is quite heroic and willing to risk her life to help people.

The visual effects are decent enough for it’s time and focus primarily on heat vision and flight.  Instances where she throws punches, the punchee is painfully obviously being pulled by wires.  And went a monster is conjured by Selena, it’s damage is clearly happening to miniatures.  Supergirl fighting an invisible monster is also pretty unexciting.  We only get a glimpse of the creature as it is defeated and blinks out of existence.

The whole subplot  with Ethan being in love with Linda Lee is absolutely creepy, considering Linda is an underage school girl.  There is a scene where Supergirl flies Ethan through the air with him in a bumper car that feels like it is meant to recall the Superman and Lois flight from Superman the Movie.

While Slater plays the innocent and noble hero pretty well, but a lot of the adults seem to be going through the motions, the except being Brenda Vaccaro as Selena’s right hand woman Bianca.   She seems to be having a lot of fun in her role.  And honestly, the sleepwalking through the role actually kind of favors O’Toole’s performance as Zaltar.   Jerry Goldsmith’s score mimics John Williams, but is different enough to avoid plagiarism…yet this ends up making this feel like a lesser imitation, rather than a fresh addition to the franchise.The story is just not interesting and the film has long stretches that are very boring.  The film never spawned the franchise I suspect the filmmakers hoped it would, and it is pretty obvious why, in spite of a star-studded cast, the film just never comes together in an entertaining way.

Rage Against the Machine (The Dark Knight Rises,2012)

Batman_dark_knight_rises_posterIt was becoming clear that Nolan was planning to form a trilogy.  The Dark Knight ended with Batman on the run, taking the blame for Harvey Dent’s death.  It suggested Batman would be hiding in the shadows in his fight against crime. There were no real casting controversies this time.  Generally, people seemed okay with announcements of Tom Hardy and Anne Hathaway.

After the Dark Knight, people seemed to trust the team making these films.  So there was much anticipation when the Dark Knight Rises arrived four years later.

And right from the start?  The film kicks off with a nice little plane hijacking by the villain Bane.  This Bane appears to be a pretty brilliant criminal and Occupy Terrorist.  And yet?  The terrific setup from the Dark Knight is not used at all.  The film picks up eight years later with Bruce Wayne having retired Batman.  The police did their job, so Bruce retired the persona shortly after the events of the Dark Knight.  Apparently, no weird bad guys appeared after the Joker.  Wayne is in rough shape, physically speaking.   The years as Batman took a real toll.  He catches Selina Kyle busting into his safe during a party,  Kyle is a morally ambiguous character.  She is a thief of course, but she is not entirely without conscience.

Commissioner Gordon is deemed a hero, but this is eating away at him…and he keeps a letter on himself at all times confessing what really happened to Harvey Dent.  This certainly could have been a real damning situation.  Admittedly, I felt it would have been better to bring Two Face back as the central villain, out to humiliate and expose (and destroy) Gordon and the Batman.

Bane starts to wreak havoc on Gotham’s social and financial districts.  Forcing Batman out of retirement and into a confrontation, Bane breaks Batman’s back and  tosses him in  hole.  Ultimately Bruce Wayne must climb to the top to get free.  The film is a bit on the nose.

It turns out that Bane is teamed up with another villain, who is revealed to have ties from the first film.  And their plan just makes no sense.  They trap the entire police force underground and plan to blow up a bomb.

What makes the Dark Knight Rises so disappointing as a followup is that it is incredibly sloppy in it’s storytelling.  How and why things occur are not fully thought out.  The film is full of exciting sequences…but they don’t bring the film together.  The film is heavily focused on being a “last Bruce Wayne” story for the Nolan version.  But the villains activities don’t really have a satisfying connecting moment.  There is, technically, an “Ah HA!” moment.  But it still leaves a lot of Bane’s overly elaborate scheming kind of pointless.

As a follow up to the Dark Knight (and Batman Begins) this is a well cast movie full of plot-holes to the point of Swiss Cheese.  Catwoman is a fun character, and Hathaway’s performance is great, without drawing on earlier film versions.  Freeman, Cain and Oldman are great in their roles, vital to the enjoyment of this film.  As a fan of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, he is always welcome, and his tenacious cop  Blake (in spite of a “groaner” of a name reveal at the end) is likable…he is also pretty obvious the out of they wanted to make a fourth film without Bale, as the Bale Batman seems to have run it’s course.  That Bat Voice starts to grate on a viewer, especially after three movies.

I wish Nolan’s series could have ended on a higher note, but that was not meant to be.  We have a movie with some fine performances, some good action scenes and a rather hard to buy into massive plan by villains even taking into account this is a movie about a guy dressed as a bat.

It Was a Dark and Stormy Knight (the Dark Knight, 2008)

batman-the-dark-knight-posterThe recasting of Rachel Dawes with Maggie Gyllenhaal might have been the biggest casting controversy if not for the announcement of Heath Ledger as the Joker.  Oh, the internet exploded.  And then the movie came out and made a lot of people eat crow.  The late Heath Ledger gave one of the best takes on the Joker.  An anarchist who just wants to watch the world burn, The Joker starts out appearing like he is trying to take over the mob, only for them to be shocked as he proves he does not care about their goals at all.

The Dark Knight improves on the action scenes, showing how much Nolan learned.  The story is mostly quite strong.  They introduce the heroic Harvey Dent, a new DA with no fear of the mob…causing Bruce Wayne to question if Batman will be necessary any more.  Of course, Dent is doomed to be twisted into a brutal caricature of justice.

The Dark Knight is full of twists and turns, as well as challenging questions in regards to spying and information gathering.  How far do you go to stop someone?  Admittedly, the film tries to have it both ways, allowing Batman to go to far, but for it to be a one time deal.

The film also struggles a bit with exactly what it wants to do with Two Face…and it really squanders an opportunity that could have played into the next film.  While the Joker story line seems so carefully plotted, the Two Face story line just feels rushed.  But in the end, the overall film ties together nicely.

As noted, Ledger’s Joker borders on brilliant.  The performance is downright unnerving, helped by musical queues that make it feel all the more disturbing.  The returning cast are all excellent, and Gyllenhaal holds her own (as pretty much the only woman of consequence in the film) with heavyweights like Oldman, Freeman and Caine.

Nolan has shown Great vision for Batman, and only improved on Batman Begins.  It is an intense and  exhilarating ride of a film.

When I Was a Kid (Batman Begins, 2005)

Batman-Begins-posterIt took until 2005 for Batman to return to the big screen.  From the start, we knew this was going to be a more serious take on the character than the previous films.  They were starting over and taking their inspiration from Batman: Year One.  Warner Brothers brought in Christopher Nolan (director of Following and Memento) to craft a Batman for the modern movie age.  They started to announce their cast and people started to get excited.  Christian Bale. Gary Oldman.  Liam Neeson.  Literally the most controversial casting choice was Katie Holmes…and that was more after the film was released.

Batman Begins is a refreshing take on the character.  It followed closely the stories such as Year One.  And instead of going with villains we had already seen, they opted for two that had not been used in film before.  Ra’s Al Ghul was a longstanding comic book Bat Nemesis who ruled over the elite league of assassins.

Young Bruce Wayne struggles to come to terms with the death of his parents at the hands of low level thug Joe Chill.  He plots to kill Chill, but is convinced by Rachel Dawes (Holmes) to not give into the revenge.  So Bruce drops off the grid and wanders the planet  getting into scrapes and apparently lots of prisons…until he meet Ducard, the mysterious emissary to Ra’s Al Ghul.  After training with the league of assassins, Bruce discovers that the League has plans to erase Gotham off the map, believing it is beyond saving.

When Bruce returns to Gotham, he decides that he needs to use his training to combat the decay of the mob and other criminal activity.  The film also focuses on Detective Jim Gordon and his attempts to deal with corruption inside and outside his force.  As Batman, Bruce Wayne realizes he has an ally.  Of course, the League of Assassins has no intention of giving up their plan.

Nolan was not known for being an action film director prior to this, and it shows.  Sometimes things are to tightly framed making the action hard to follow.  There are great action sequences, but there are times where they are not as easy to follow.

The story is not hard to follow, and unlike previous Batman films, the multiple villains  does not ruin the pacing.  And how the villains are tied together makes sense.  Nolan and his time understand how to intertwine the elements of a tale.

The film is also nearly perfectly cast.  Bale sells the notion of a man with a singular purpose.  Michael Caine’s Alfred is a new and unique take on the character in film and television.  He is a bit rougher and has a military background.  You can see he was hired as much for his strength as his support.  He can be tough, wise and gentle when it is called for.

And then there is Gary Oldman’s Detective Gordon.  He is struggling to try and keep things together, but not out of incompetence, but simply because Gotham is falling apart and the seems, and at times, he seems alone in trying to stem the tide.  It is great to see the movies finally elevate his presence.  He is a far more important to the Bat Mythos than Burton or Schumacher ever seemed to realize.

As Ducard, Neeson brings an self righteous arrogance that sees him in a role of dangerous judge and jury.  Lucius Fox is played by Morgan Freeman in one of those Freeman roles where he is wise and underestimated.   Cillian Murphy’s psychiatrist Dr. Jonathan Crane is creepy, even before he dons his Scarecrow mask.  Holmes is the weakest link.  It is not that she is terrible, but she is out of her depth with the rest of the cast.

Gotham is no longer a hyper stylized city with crazy architecture.  Instead, it is a rundown city, with a recognizable look that could be the streets of a large metropolis.  It is very effective.

Batman Begin’s is a solid start to a new series of films.  It is the path I wish Bryan Singer had followed with Superman.  We are introduced to an exciting world with much potential (as hinted in the final moments of the film).

Gotham Crumbles (Batman & Robin, 1997)

Batman_&_Robin_PosterRemember how I said Schumacher hoped to make Batman Year one by giving the studio what they wanted?  Well, Batman Forever was actually a hit.  It made a ton of money.  And guess what the studio wanted?  If you said, “A gritty look at Batman’s first year”?  Slap yourself.  They said “Give us more toys and product placement.  Which led to a seen where Batman uses his BatCredit Card.

In addition, Kilmer was the George Lazenby of the franchise.  He was out…in was ER heart throb George Clooney.  Clooney got the luck of putting the nails into the coffin of the original Bat-Franchise.

Batman & Robin is bloated, as it has introduced Robin and now Batgirl (who is Alfred’s niece, rather than Commissioner Gordon’s daughter).  The villains are Poison Ivy and Mr. Freeze.  Freeze is almost wonderfully miscast with Arnold Schwarzenegger in the role.  The character has always been a thin and lanky dude.  So casting a muscled action star only makes the most sense. In addition to the two villains, the film includes Bane as one of the henchmen of Poison Ivy.

Batman and Robin try and stop Freeze and Ivy who team up for reasons…even though their reasons are kind of in conflict.  Alfred is sick (and Freeze may hold the cure) and Commissioner Gordon is still around because people expect to see him in a Batman movie.

Like the last film, this one contains a big deal soundtrack, part of a thing in the 90’s where soundtracks featuring bands was a sign of a cool and with it movie.  Scores were for suckers in the 90’s.  The soundtrack help more to date the film than make it truly memorable.

Clooney is not terrible in the role…I mean, he is clearly trying to be a good Batman.  But the problem is, he is in a toy-centric movie, where his role is only as important in as much as it can sell toys to kids.  O’Donnell already feels to old to be playing a whiny entitled brat…but there he is.  Alicia Silverstone was a very 90’s choice.  She faced a brutal and unfair onslaught of abuse over fluctuating weight that simply did not belong in coverage of the film.  Uma Thurman’s Poison Ivy is okay in performance, but her hairstyles are pretty terrible.  My favorite performance is actually John Glover…his Jason Woodrue is manically entertaining.

Bane is portrayed as a mindless drone under Ivy’s control.  Which shows how they just treated characters a something to be cherry picked with little regard for the original visions of these characters.  Visually the lush color schemes of Schumacher’s previous film.

The entire film is a crazy mess of an art department cut loose in concert with a demand for product tie-in to the point of almost beautiful obnoxiousness.  It never comes together in the end…but if it does not give you a seizure? You probably got out okay.

Batman Will Go On (Batman Forever, 1995)

Batman_Forever_PosterBatman Forever had some big shakeups.  Tim Burton and Michael Keaton were out.  Joel Schumacher and Val Kilmer were in.  But the real shakeup was…Warner Brothers wanted to sell more toys.  Schumacher had read Batman: Year One.  He really wanted to tell that story.  The studio was not interested.  Schumacher thought that if he gave them the movie they wanted, he might be able to persuade them on the next film to do the film he really wanted to do.

For the Riddler, the film hired Jim Carrey (fresh off Ace Ventura:Pet Detective, the Mask and Dumb & Dumber) and for Two Face?  Tommy Lee Jones (their established actor choice-no doubt selected for his uncanny resemblance to Billy Dee Williams) was their choice.

The casting of Kilmer was treated like this was a James Bond casting choice. We can replace anybody.  Anyways, The story also introduced Robin (played by Chris O’Donnell).  Batman’s love interest is sexy psychiatrist Chase Meridian.  Really.  Adding more characters means more action figures…and vehicles…Super-heroes gotta have a lot of rides…as do their arch enemies.  Well, unless you are Chase Meridian…you do not get to be an action figure.

Much of the film is given to Jim Carrey to do his typical over the top goofiness that he was known for.  This was three years before he started playing roles that required him to tone it down.  It can become obnoxious, and Tommy Lee Jones tries to keep up, going over the top himself.  Kilmer just fills his tuxedo and walks through the film.  Multiple villains make for a bloated plot.  Add to that the introduction of Robin?  This is not O’Donnell’s finest moment.  He is just not convincing as a skilled martial artist or acrobat.  Chase Meridian is a very boring character.  She seems to be a character existing solely because they felt there should be a love interest.  You know…for the girls.

Again, there is little meat for characters like Commissioner Gordon…and the films make him feel like an old man who is ever so ineffective…and knows it, so he waits on Batman to save the day.

Visually, Schumacher goes more Art Deco with his Gotham City.  He plays with vibrant colors and visual queues.  This is certainly an interesting change…except it also becomes highly implausible that such a city would be built this way.

This was the Bat Franchise teetering on collapse.  But there were no lessons learned.

Mary Jane Watson May Have a Tan

So, Nerd Rage is beginning for the upcoming Spider-Man movie.  Why?

Well, it appears that a character known for her model level good looks:


Will be played by a person with model good looks:


So, Mary Jane Watson will be played by Zendaya.  Truth be told, I know little about her.  I actually did not know who she was at all until earlier this year, style folks at the Oscars condemned her choice of hairstyle.  She was cast back in March, but even though Entertainment Weekly claimed it was for the Mary Jane role, it appeared to go under the radar.

While some fan reaction has been very “DON’T TOUCH MY TOYS!”  Creators have reacted a bit differently.  Long Time Spider-scribe offered this after one angry tweet that came his way:


First, no, it does not spit in the face of the source material.  That is a ridiculous assertion on it’s face.  Some have tried to paint Slott as a hypocrite, because he dismissed the the idea of making Luke Cage white as racist.  But there is a large canyon between making a white character black, Asian, Indian, etc and making a minority ethnicity white.  There is no shortage of solid roles for white actors.  There is no shortage of white characters in movies or comics.  Race-bending a character like Luke Cage when there are still so few black characters damages what we see.  And of course white people do not understand the power of seeing “yourself” on TV.  We are the overwhelming majority of what people saw when growing up.  We have always seen “ourselves” in film and television and books.  Heck, the Hunger Games had a character who was explicitly black, and people still were upset when a black actress was cast.

But Guardians of the Galaxy director put it best:


Back In Gotham (Batman Returns, 1992)

batman_returns-posterJack Nicholson kind of established the villains would always be played by big names.  Danny DiVito was brought in to play the Penguin.  But this was not the traditional Penguin from the comics.  Not merely a short round guy is a top hat, Burton envisioned an origin in which Oswald Cobblepot is born to an affluent family who are repulsed by his grotesque appearance. His father (played by Paul Reubens, who would play Penguin’s father on Gotham decades later) and mother (Diane Salinger) dump him over a bridge where he is found by penguins.

Batman Returns is a rather odd duck.  Selina Kyle is a meek secretary who discovers the evil plans of her boss Max Shreck (Christopher Walken).  She is thrown out a window and barely survives…but wakes after being found by cats.  She flips out and apparently has the nine lives of cats and a really sexy persona.

While the film still  has the gothic visuals, it really feels all over the place.  Adding the secondary “villain” of Catwoman means there is that much more story to address.  On top of that you have a villain in the name of Max Shreck.  Add to that a few moments of implications of Penguin being a bit of a sexual creep (for instance, he is running for mayor and he puts a button on a young woman, groping her breast as he does it).

The film has a more interesting plan than the first film, but still, the sheer goofiness makes it almost to campy.  You have penguins fitted with rocket launchers, weird carnival henchmen, evil businessmen, latex covered secretaries…It never really comes together, and falters repeatedly.

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