So… Is It Good?

A blog featuring the various writings of E. H. Lau.

New Website!

Posted by cyberpfalcon on March 27, 2018

I launched my new website today, to collect my writings and other creative work!
Please join me at:
http://www.lotisheroes.ca/

 

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What Makes a Movie a Superhero Movie?

Posted by cyberpfalcon on July 29, 2017

This is a response to Zap That Movie’s article “Why The Matrix is a Superhero Movie”, which I posted in their comments section. But, it was so fun to think about and put into words, that I wanted to repost it here.

The original article and comments can be found:
http://www.zapthatmovie.com/matrix-superhero-movie/

In case that article disappears for whatever reason, the four main points that was argued by that article about why The Matrix is a superhero movie was:

  • The Matrix (1999) is essentially Neo’s Origin Story
  • Neo has a love interest – Trinity
  • “Not only does Neo reach his superhero potential, but he learns to bend the rules of the Matrix.” – a.k.a. – Neo gets superpowers
  • Agent Smith (played by Hugo Weaving) is a great villain.” – a.k.a. – superheroes fight a supervillain

Below is my own response as to why The Matrix isn’t a superhero movie, while other movies (like the MCU catalogue) are.

 

Ooooh, you have me so riled up that if I had stuck with just tweeting at you, it would have taken a few hundred posts. πŸ˜‰

As someone who’s read superhero comics, watched superhero movies and tv shows, played superhero video games, wr- er, okay, let’s just say that as someone who has absorbed a lot of superhero media, I disagree with you.

In my opinion, the four things that you have pointed out are not the essential criteria that make up a superhero story. Even if we were to just stick to movies, just having those four things do not make the movie a superhero movie.

Firstly, I believe that those four points are too generic to be just specific to superhero movies. If those are the only four things that make up a superhero movie, then plently of other movies would also be a superhero film.
For example, Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope is Luke’s origin story; Luke’s love interest is Leia (this was before the reveal that they were brother and sister, and the film itself portrays this relationship as a potentially romantic one, hence, in that film, Leia is a love interest of Luke’s, in my opinion); Luke learns to use the power of the Force and how to use a lightsaber, which normal people of that universe can’t do; and Darth Vader is a great villain.
Another example would be Hercules (the 1997 Disney film): the movie is Hercules’s origin story; Hercules’s love interest is Megara; Hercules has superhuman strength and learns how to use his godly powers; and Hades is a great villain.
One more example is Ghostbusters (the 1984 film): this film is the origin story of the four Ghostbusters; Dana is one of the Ghostbuster’s, Venkman’s, love interest; the Ghostbusters learn how to use their proton packs and various other gadgets to fight against ghosts, which normal people in that universe don’t do; and Gozer (and Stay-Puft XD) is a great villain.
Yet, none of these are considered superhero films (if you want to argue that they are, then just skip the rest of this and we’ll agree to disagree XD).

Next, I believe that a superhero film doesn’t necessarily need an origin story.
All the squels, spin-offs, crossovers, etc. in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (for example: Iron Man 2, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Avengers) are examples of this.
If we are only sticking with films that were released without any pre-existing continuity, a few examples would be The Incredibles, Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.

Also, a superhero film doesn’t need a love interest for the main character(s) for it to be counted as a superhero film (I believe, by that point, you meant that the love interest has to be central to the plotline, and not just a tossed out line with a person saying, “Oh, I have a girlfriend/boyfriend/paramour/significant other/etc., by the way”?), in my opinion.
Some examples are The Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier (in my opinion, the film makes it pretty clear from beginning to end that Natasha and Steve don’t even remotely see each other as love interests, and Sharon Carter’s relationship with Steve did not reach the love interest level in this film), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and X-Men: Days of Future Past.

If I am reading your third point right, meaning that the main character(s) having some sort of ability or power that most people of that world don’t have, then I would agree with you on that one.
Even Batman – who doesn’t have any superpowers – has martial arts abilities, above average detective skills, and the ability to get all those fancy gadgets – things that your normal person in that world doesn’t have.
So, I do agree with your third point.

And I agree with your fourth point as well, a superhero film does need some sort of villain (whether they are great or not is the viewer’s opinion), though I would mend it to say that a superhero film needs someone or/and something to fight against, and that someone/something doesn’t necessarily have to be a villain.

So, then, what makes films like The Incredibles, The Avengers, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier superhero films while films like The Matrix, Hercules, and Ghostbusters are not?
Well, in my opinion, for a film to be a superhero film, the film’s main character(s) (or the majority of the main and supporting characters) has to have extraordinary powers and/or abilities that the vast majority of the people in that setting don’t have, the main characters(s) (or the majority of the main and supporting characters) also need to have costumed identities (whether or not their true identities are known to the public is irrelevant; I am talking about how the identity that they present to the public when performing superhero deeds is separate from their normal everyday identity; for example, Reed Richards’ costumed identity is Mr. Fantastic); the main character(s) needs to have had taken up this costumed identity because they want to protect the innocent/save lives/some heroic thing (or, at least, eventually use their costumed identities for those purposes, as seen in Guardians of the Galaxy) (whether or not the story focuses on their heroics is also irrelevant, as seen in Captain America: Civil War); the story main focus should be on the consequences and the effects caused by a main character (can be more than one) taking up a costumed identity to perform heroic deeds (for example, in Captain America: Civil War, the consequence is… the civil war); and, of course, someone or something to fight against.
Which, of course, is a very versatile definition, allowing for many different genres of work to be counted (Batman is usually crime fiction, Guardians of the Galaxy is usually sci-fi, Dr. Strange is usually fantasy, etc.), and that is partly why I love superheroes so much. πŸ™‚

Anyways, that’s why, in my opinion, The Matrix isn’t a superhero film. Neo, Trinity, and Morpheus don’t really have costumed identities. And the story is more focused on science-fiction elements of The Matrix, the world after the humans lost the war to the machines, and the human rebellion against their machine overlords.
Yes, you could argue that the trenchcoats, sunglasses, and hacker names are their costumed identities (which I would disagree with, because the movie presents the hacker names more as if they’ve changed the names and shed their old identities, instead of a separate costumed identity while still keeping their normal identities intact; and also because the trenchcoat and sunglasses aren’t presented as a core part of their identity, whereas things like Iron Man’s armour, Batman’s Batsuit, etc. are integral to the costumed identities of those characters, but not part of Tony Stark and Bruce Wayne’s norma identities).
And yes, you could also argue that the human rebellion is a consequence of the humans gaining superpowers (which, I would argue that, while true, the film’s main focus isn’t on the rebellion as a consequence and effect of the powers, and more focused on the powers being used as part of the rebellion).
Then, if so, I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree. πŸ™‚

Anyways, sorry about the long reply.
You’re probably going to toss it into the trash, call it the rantings of a fanboy, ban me, or something.
But, hey, we all have our passions. πŸ˜‰

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5 Batman VS Superman Stories Better Than Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Posted by cyberpfalcon on March 20, 2017

Another article I did for the company newletter.

***

A lot of us looked forward to last year’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and a lot of us left the theatre after seeing it feeling disappointed by, what we felt, was a movie marred by a disjointed and messily-put-together plot (though it did have Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne, some great action scenes, and a cool Batmobile).

So, to give us all some hope for the next installments in the DCEU, Wonder Woman and Justice League, I’m going to list 5 Batman VS Superman stories that are better than Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

And for those of you that did enjoy Batman v Superman, now you can explore more Batman VS Superman stories that you might not have known about before!

Now, before we begin, let’s be honest, it’s practically standard now that when two superheroes crossover and fight each other, they’ll usually end up resolving their differences and then fighting some other threat together (heck, even Batman v Superman did this). So, my criteria for inclusion on this list was, basically, that if, at some point, a Batman and a Superman are fighting each other somehow (directly or indirectly), then it counts.

So, with that out of the way, here’s the list!

 

The Dark Knight Returns

Warning: Parental Guidance Suggested

Seen by many as THE Batman VS Superman story, this story has influenced many other stories that came after it (including Batman v Superman).

The story opens with Bruce Wayne, who has retired as Batman for many years now. However, as Gotham dives deeper and deeper in decadence, a gang called ‘The Mutants’ begins to terrorize the city, leading to Bruce Wayne going back into action as Batman again. However, Batman’s reemergence and his more violent methods draw the attention of Superman.

The Dark Knight Returns is available as a trade paperback comic, and as an animated adaptation (which features Peter Weller [Robocop!] as Batman and Mark Valley as Superman).

 

Injustice: Gods Among Us

Warning: Parental Guidance Suggested

Superman is tricked by the Joker into killing Lois Lane, his wife, which triggers the detonation of a nuclear weapon, destroying Metropolis and killing millions. Although Batman manages to capture the Joker, he is not able to stop a devastated Superman from murdering the Joker in revenge. In the aftermath, Superman dedicates himself to eliminating crime by establishing an authoritarian regime across the world that he rules as its High Councillor. To oppose Superman’s regime, Batman forms his own insurgency, and the two factions gather allies, leading to a war.

AND THEN, five years later, Batman transports more superheroes from an alternate universe, where Joker’s plan failed, to help the insurgency.

Injustice: Gods Among Us is available as a video game on PC, PS3, PS4, PS Vita, Wii U, Xbox360, and Xbox One. There are prequel comics as well that focuses on the five year gap.

 

World’s Finest

World’s Finest is a three part story, which is composed of episodes 29, 30, and 31 of Superman: The Animated Series.

Batman has come to Metropolis, trying to capture the Joker. The Joker has teamed up with Lex Luthor, offering to kill Superman if Luthor provides him with resources and payment. In the middle of trying to stop this plan, Batman meets Superman for the first time.

 

A Better World

A Better World is a two part story, which is composed of episodes 37 and 38 of Justice League.

In an alternate universe, Earth is ruled by Superman and the Justice Lords (a renamed Justice League) – they took over after stopping President Lex Luthor’s plans, during which Superman had resorted to killing Lex Luthor. In the name of peace, the Justice Lords have taken over governments, and have ruled the world with an iron fist.

The Justice Lords discovers our Justice League, still playing a reactive role in stopping crime, rather than their proactive role. Deciding that the League’s world needs the same law and order that the Lords have enforced on their own world, the Justice Lords cross over into the Justice League’s world.

 

The Call

The Call is a two part story, which is composed of episodes 46 and 47 of Batman Beyond.

In the future of Batman Beyond, Terry McGinnis is now Batman, with an elder Bruce Wayne as his mentor and support. Impressed by his work, Superman (still Clark Kent) offers the young Batman membership in Justice League Unlimited. However, things are not as they seem, and Superman confides to Terry (and Bruce) that he suspects that one of the members of the JLU is a traitor.

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Spooooooky Comics

Posted by cyberpfalcon on October 20, 2016

An article I did for the company newsletter for their upcoming Halloween Edition.

***

Well, it’s near that time of the year, where spoooooooooky things happen.

Okay, not really, but, in keeping with the theme, here are some comics to go along with the Halloween spirit.

I’ve decided to list series, instead of one off stories, so that you can carry the spookiness with you throughout the year, if you find something that you like.

 

The Walking Dead

Alright, let’s just get it out of the way. Pretty much all of you have heard of The Walking Dead. It’s good, it’s written by the great Robert Kirkman, and they made a TV series out of it that’s currently on its 8th season. How could I not recommend it?

For those of you that haven’t heard of it, The Walking Dead follows Rick Grimes, a deputy who awakens from a coma, only to find himself in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. What follows is Rick’s quest to find his missing family, and the drama that ensues as he meets other survivors.

 

Outcast

New on the scene is a comic called Outcast. It’s good, it’s written by the great Robert Kirkman, and they made a TV series out of it that’s currently on its 1st season. Yes, that’s right, Kirkman now has two ongoing horror comic books adapted for TV. Told you he’s great, didn’t I?

While The Walking Dead focuses more on drama, Outcast focuses more on horror. This one’s about Kyle Barnes, a man who, with the help of a local clergyman, fights the demons that possess his fellow townsfolk.

 

Locke & Key

About the three Locke children, who move into the Locke family home called Keyhouse after the murder of their father. However, this house is full of keys that grant magical powers…

 

John Constantine, Hellblazer

To be clear, I’m talking about the series originally known as Hellblazer, which is currently being reprinted as John Constantine, Hellblazer. Not any of the new ones.

This series follows occult detective John Constantine as his cons his way through a world of magic, demons, and more.

 

Hellboy

For those of you who like your spooky comics with a bit of superhero flavouring, we have Hellboy, of course. A demon raised by humans since the end of World War II (he was summoned by Nazi, but was taken by the USA, long story…), Hellboy works with the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense to battle occult threats to humanity.

 

Justice League Dark

For those of you who REALLY like your spooky comics with LOTS of superhero flavouring, we have Justice League Dark. Basically, the supernatural version of the Justice League, bringing together popular DC characters such as Constantine, Deadman, Zatanna, and others, to fight against supernatural threats that the normal Justice League can’t handle.

 

Ghostbusters

And, last, but not least, for those of you that like your spookiness with a dash of humour and fun, we have the Ghostbusters series, the one published by IDW.

Follows the Ghostbusters from the first two movies and deals with their continuing adventures, busting ghosts!

 

Honourable Mentions

Because I always run out of room for these things, here are some honourable mentions: Revival, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Spawn, American Vampire, Coffin Hill, Ghosted, and All-New Ghost Rider.

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A Look at Other Comic Book Publishers Besides DC and Marvel

Posted by cyberpfalcon on October 20, 2016

Another article that I wrote for my company newsletter.

***

For the past two articles, I’ve mostly talked about DC and Marvel. And it’s no surprise, since they’re currently the two biggest North American comic book publishers.

For this article, however, I’d like to introduce you to some other comic publishers that I think are worth taking a look at as well (we’ll be sticking to North American publishers for this article).

 

Image Comics

Image Comics was founded in 1992 by eight creators who were frustrated with Marvel’s work for hire policies, and wanted ownership and creative control over their work. Although their line-up was initially mostly dominated by the typical 90’s superhero comics, Image Comics has made a name for itself for being the publisher of many critically acclaimed creator-owned works, offering quality as well as variety.

Recommended Titles:

  • The Walking Dead – the original comic written by Robert Kirkman that the well-known zombie TV show is based off
  • Chew – set in a world where all bird meat is banned after a catastrophic outbreak of the bird flu, Chew follows Tony Chu, a detective who is also a Cibopath (one who can see what has happened to an object by taking a bite out of it)

Other Recommendations: Invincible, Spawn, Savage Dragon, Revival, Saga, Morning Glories, Thief of Thieves, The Wicked + The Divine

 

Valiant Entertainment

Founded in 1989, but went on a long break until 2012, when they brought back their superhero universe, revamped for the new era. One of the rising stars of the comics industry; they’re preparing to launch the “Valiant Cinematic Universe” as well, with movies based on Harbinger and Bloodshot.

Recommended Titles:

  • Harbinger – teenaged Peter Stanchek discovers his psychic powers and set out with a bunch of newly powered teenagers to make the world a better place; but they come across Toyo Harada, the most powerful psionic in the world, whose definition of “better” mean taking over the world as dictator…
  • Bloodshot – a near invincible soldier with the power of regeneration thanks to nanites in his stream, kept under control with constant memory wipes; until he breaks free, of course, and sets out to discover who was responsible for his condition

Other Recommendations: Quantum and Woody, Archer and Armstrong, X-O Manowar, The Death-Defying Dr. Mirage

 

Dark Horse Comics

Used to have its own superhero universe, but that faded away. Now known for publishing both creator-owned comics and comics based on licensed properties.

Recommended Creator-Owned Titles: Hellboy, Sin City, Usagi Yojimbo, The Umbrella Academy

Recommended Licensed Titles: Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Season Eight and Nine), Conan

 

IDW Publishing

Best known for their many comic series based on licensed properties, IDW has taken many universes and have expanded them to great acclaim.

Recommended Titles: Transformers, G.I. Joes, Ghostbusters (with the cast from the first two movies!), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

 

Dynamite Entertainment

Also known for their comic adaptations, but their more well-known titles take older superheroes and revamp them for the modern reader.

Recommended Titles: Kevin Smith’s Green Hornet, Project Superpowers, Red Sonja (particularly Gail Simone’s run), The Shadow, The Lone Ranger

 

Oh, no, I’m running out of room! Uh…, quick honorable mentions with recommended titles in brackets!

Top Cow Productions (Witchblade, Switch), Archie Comics (Archie [the reboot], Sonic the Hedgehog), Oni Press (Scott Pilgrim, The Sixth Gun), Udon Entertainment (Street Fighter), Chapterhouse Comics (Captain Canuck)

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Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Review

Posted by cyberpfalcon on April 26, 2016

Alright, I’ll admit that after Man of Steel, which I hated (yes, yes, in an earlier review, I gave it a 7/10 and said that it was “good”, but over time, the negatives of that movie overthrew the positives of the movie for me until it became HATE [who knows, maybe on another watch, I may have to correct this statement too…]), I wasn’t too excited by this movie. In fact, I had no hope for it.
But, to my surprise, I actually walked out of the theatre having enjoyed the film.

Really though, I didn’t enjoy the film as a “Superman and Batman movie”, I enjoyed it as one of those alternate “what ifs”, and this is the “What if Clark becomes Superman way later than Bruce becomes Batman? What if Bruce Wayne had to go through years of being Batman before Clark Kent showed up as Superman?”
I say this because the movie’s portrayal of the Superman and Batman relationship in this movie is so different from the traditional portrayal, and that relationship in this movie is so affected by this change in premise that it feels like some of those alternate universe stories that DC has released over the years (e.g.: Superman: Red Son – what if Superman’s rocket landed in Russia instead? Justice League: Gods and Monsters – what if it was ZOD’s “son” that was put into the rocket instead?)

Which brings up the biggest problem with this movie, the same problem that plagues most of these alternate universe stories – the viewer needs to already be invested in the mythos for it to be enjoyable.

It’s hard though, to explain what I completely mean without spoilers. So, the first part of this review will be a spoiler-free, general overview of my thoughts. After that, I’ll have a noticable break, and then begin a more detailed, spoiler-FILLED explanation on my thoughts on my the movie.

So, in general then.
I felt that this was a good movie, but… only if you have watched Man of Steel and remember it, and have a good enough understanding about the Batman mythos to infer his entire backstory from the clues that the movie drops.
It has great action, great visuals, and some interesting themes (such as how the world would react if an alien with insurmountable power showed up, the personal responsibilities of such an alien if he chose to be a vigilante, and, of course, man versus such a being). Ben Affleck as Batman/Bruce Wayne was great (called it πŸ˜‰ ), and I would even go on to say that he did a better job than Christian Bale.
However, there are way too many scenes that were crammed there for the sole purpose of promoting the so-called “DC Extended Universe”, when time could have been spent fleshing out Batman’s backstory and the rest of the movie’s plot. It made the movie feel very rushed and disjointed, even though it ran for two and half hours. The movie felt like there was a missing Batman movie that should have came out before this one.
Also, some of those themes mentioned actually just… gets dropped partway through the movie.
But, for those of us that know way too much about the DC mythos, it was a very interesting and enjoyable take on “What if Bruce Wayne became Batman 20 years before Clark Kent became Superman?”

So, to sum up the spoiler-free review, it’s worth a watch for the great action, the visuals, Ben Affleck as Batman, and if you are invested in the Batman mythos. For the casual viewer though, it’ll feel disjointed and just… average, at best. I’d recommend The Dark Knight Returns for those that want to watch a better Batman vs Superman film.

Oh, and this movie just made me angrier that the next movie is a Suicide Squad movie, and not a Batman prequel movie! πŸ˜‰

Alright, after the break will be a spoiler-filled (and complaint-filled) review. So stop reading if you don’t want any spoilers!

***

 

 

 

 

***

Okay, everyone here understands that I’m about to spew out a ton of spoilers?

Okay, good, here we go.

Okay, so, first, I’m going to assume that the movie was made as a sequel to Man of Steel. So I’m going to review it as such, and not as a standalone movie. That means that I’m not going to complain about Clark’s story not being fleshed out, like I’m going to do with Bruce’s, because the audience is supposed to have seen Man of Steel first.

So, my biggest complaint is that the movie leave the viewers to infer all of Batman’s backstory in this movie instead of having it fleshed out properly.
Even though I know a lot about the Batman mythos, it still left those scenes feeling disjointed and… kinda random.
For example, the beginning of the movie that goes through Bruce Wayne’s parents funeral, leading to a flashback to their murder, then ending with young Bruce… being lifted out of the hole by bats?
That whole sequence then just cuts to an older Bruce Wayne getting out of the helicopter at Metropolis during Zod’s attack on Metropolis from Man of Steel.
If the viewer had no idea about Batman’s origins (and these people exist, and it’s not even remotely their fault, so don’t be an ass about it), that whole beginning doesn’t connect properly because the movie doesn’t bother explaining that that was Ben Affleck’s character’s past, and it doesn’t bother explaining that that’s what lead him to becoming Batman. A viewer that doesn’t know Batman’s origin and that Ben Affleck plays Batman before going into the movie would never connect that whole beginning with Ben Affleck’s character, at least, not until it was very late in the movie, and I’d argue that most of them wouldn’t connect it without some external source.
For those of us that do know about the Batman mythos, I’d argue that the beginning sequence still serves no actual purpose, because it’s still not properly connected properly to the rest of the movie. If this was all just to remind us that Bruce’s mother’s name was Martha (and I have plenty to say on that later), then a shorter scene with Bruce standing in front of his parents’ graves would have sufficed and been more impactful.
Heck, I’d argue that just that scene would have worked better for both the casual viewer and the in-the-know viewer, because the audience would have had a chance to see Ben Affleck mourning at his parents’ graves, and then seeing him go into Metropolis, rather than just a boy who’s parents get killed… and then a random Ben Affleck landing in Metropolis.

Which leads into my second complaint about the film. The movie introduces Ben Affleck… and just assumes that the audience knows that they’re playing Bruce Wayne/Batman.
For Bruce Wayne/Batman, until about maybe a quarter of the film, the movie never actually states that Bruce Wayne is Batman, and then Ben Affleck is playing him. It just kinda… assumes that you read the cast list. They show scenes of Ben Affleck’s character, they show scenes of Batman, and then, very disjointedly, finally show that Ben Affleck is Bruce Wayne is Batman, as if the audience was supposed to know that all along. If you didn’t know that Ben Affleck was playing Bruce Wayne, and that Bruce Wayne is Batman, you wouldn’t know until that “reveal”. This would be okay if it was supposed to be a “reveal”, but it’s not supposed to be, and it just makes it harder for a casual viewer to get into.

Now, here’s something that’ll bother even the viewer who DO know the Batman mythos: having to infer all of this Batman’s backstory.
Sure, sometimes having a character with a mysterious backstory is great, but this is not the case here. Here, the movie keeps making it felt that there’s a huge chunk of Batman’s backstory that the audience SHOULD know about, but don’t.
For example, the whole Wayne’s death scene and that Bruce became Batman because of it (stop using that scene if you’re not going to bother explaining it!).
For example, why is this Batman so much more angry, cruel, and brutal than his traditional portrayals? (He even lets people die now, as long as it was indirectly.)
For example, how did this Batman become so poisoned against trusting other vigilantes?
And, of course, the whole Joker’s spray-painted message on Robin’s suit thing. Which Robin was it? Did Robin actually die? What happened? (I actually couldn’t tell that it was Robin’s suit during my viewing, and thought that it was a Batsuit. Considering that the movie never bothers explaining it properly, hasn’t even established a Robin at that point, and that suit was mostly covered by spray paint and way to dark to properly distinguish when the scene only lasts seconds, you’ll forgive me for the mixup.)
Having the movie constantly refer to all this missing backstory leaves the mythos-invested viewer with a feeling that the film is missing story bits, and leaves casual viewers feeling confused.

Next, I guess I should address all the Justice League stuff… Ugh.
In my opinion, I felt that they were pretty much a waste of time.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the DC Universe, and I had a kick out of seeing them, but all that time could have been used to flesh out the plot a lot better.
I mean, the whole dream sequence with the alternate future and then Flash coming back to warn Bruce ultimately leads to nowhere in THIS film, and probably would have been better in another film, if it is supposed to be foreshadowing.
All the videos of Flash, Cyborg, and Aquaman were cool, but they were unnecessary, and could have just been mentioned at the end, if they wanted to tie it in so desperately.

So, after all the complaining about unnecessary scenes, what do I think the time should have been spent on?
Weeeeeell…, some things like:
– Batman’s backstory, at least enough so that a casual viewer could see that Bruce Wayne was Batman, and that he was a hardened vigilante who had gone through years of pain and suffering that made him so brutal
– Lex finding out about Bruce and Clark’s secret identities. What? Are we just supposed to assume that he’s so smart that he figured it out offscreen?
– Bruce and Clark figuring out either other’s secret identities. What? Are we just supposed to assume that Superman used his X-Ray vision and Bruce used his detectives skills (WHICH HAVE NOT BEEN ESTABLISHED IN THIS FILM)?
– Better characterization for why Bruce hates Superman. The movie’s reasoning is… filmsy, at best.
– Better characterization for why Clark hates Batman. Especially when the movie’s stated reason is that Clark hates Batman because Batman is a vigilante… which even Bruce points out as filmsy because Superman is doing same thing.

Moving on, the whole reason why Batman and Superman fight then…, ends up, not being because of a difference of ideology, but because… Lex Luthor kidnapped Superman’s mother and forced Superman to go fight Batman. A Batman who hates Superman for… being part of the destruction of Metropolis, leading to the bomb in Capitol Hill, and not being a good enough superhero? That’s as best as I could make it out to be.
Then, to rub salt on the wound, the whole Martha thing that ended the fight felt forced. Yes, their names are the same, but it sounded very unnatural, to me, at least. Superman could have said something more natural like, “At least, save my mother!” and it would have had the same effect of humanizing Superman for Batman.

Oh, and to FURTHER drop the themes of the movie, we can go on to Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman teaming up to fight Doomsday.
A monster that Lex made to defeat Superman because he was afraid of Superman destroying the world… So he made a monster that he couldn’t control, which could also destroy the world… What?

That’s… most of the major complaints I have about the movie.
Now, on to the good stuff!

Love the action scenes, in particular:
– Batman’s fight against Luthor’s mercenaries
– the actual Batman VS Superman fight
– the Trinity (Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman) fight against Doomsday

And, as I’ve mentioned before, the themes (before they were dropped) presented in the movie was pretty good.

Loved Affleck as Batman and Bruce Wayne.

The Wonder Woman thing, while a little forced and could have been handled better, was still enjoyable overall for me.

I enjoyed this movie’s version of Lex Luthor, but he was so different from the traditional Lex Luthors that I’m going to call him not-Lex (like not-Catwoman, not-Bane, not-Talia, etc. from The Dark Knight Rises, which I did like).

And yes, I do think that Superman’s death was a bit too soon in the series, and definitely cheapened by the hint at the end of the movie, and how he’s due to appear in Justice League; but I felt that, otherwise, it was done well.

And, again, like I said, I enjoyed it as a look into a universe where Superman becomes a superhero twenty years after Batman.

So, overall, I enjoyed the movie, and would recommend it to anyone who understands the Batman mythos enough to enjoy it. For the casual viewers though, I highly doubt that they would enjoy it, as it would feel to disjointed and confusing.
Word is, there will be an extended edition that will hopefully flesh out the plot some more, and hopefully that’s true, but we’ll have to see.

Now, go watch The Dark Knight Returns!

***

P.S.: When Doomsday was doing his energy thing, I wanted to yell “SUPER SAIYAN!” so badly.

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A DC Universe Animated Original Movies Introduction

Posted by cyberpfalcon on March 23, 2016

I wrote another superheroes related article for my newsletter at work (I’m quite sure that no one actually reads these now πŸ˜‰ ), so I thought I’d share it here as well.

 

Most of us already know about and have seen most of the Marvel superheroes movies.

Compared to Marvel, DC has certainly lagged behind in translating their characters for the silver screen. After watching the recent Man of Steel (which I did not like), and from what I have heard and seen of the upcoming Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad movies, I don’t have much hope in DC being able to successfully open up their universe for the live-action film audience.

Luckily for us, DC has already made a ton of great animated movies, under the DC Universe Animated Original Movies line. Below are some of my favourites, most of which should be available on Netflix.

 

Justice League: War

A great introduction to the DC Universe, this movie depicts the formation of the Justice League and their fight against Darkseid, tyrant and warlord of another planet. Featuring Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash, Cyborg, and Shazam.

 

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns

As of the time of writing, I have no idea if the upcoming Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice will be any good. But, I know that this movie adaptation of The Dark Knight Returns, which Batman v Superman takes inspiration from, is awesome. Mentioned already in my article in the previous newsletter, this movie tells the story of a retired Batman, who is forced out of retirement to fight against a Gotham that is even more decadent than the one that he left.

 

All-Star Superman

As mentioned in my last article, All-Star Superman is considered one of the best Superman stories ever told, and this adaptation does a faithful and superb job at translating it into an animated movie. When Superman is hit by a lethal overdose of solar radiation that will eventually kill him, he sets out to put his life’s affairs in order before his death. (Additional note: This movie is, in my opinion, way better than the recent Man of Steel.)

 

Son of Batman, Batman vs. Robin, Batman: Bad Blood

If you already have some idea as to who Batman is, then check out these three movies, which deal with Batman’s discovery of his son, who was raised by the League of Assassins.

 

Green Lantern: First Flight

Let’s be honest, pretty much nobody liked the Ryan Reynolds live-action Green Lantern movie (they even made fun of it in the Ryan Reynolds live-action Deadpool movie!). Luckily, we have Green Lantern: First Flight, a movie about Hal Jordan’s training as a member of the Green Lantern Corps (basically space cops) and his relationship with his mentor, Sinestro.

 

Wonder Woman

A great Wonder Woman film about Diana’s journey from the Amazonian island paradise of Themyscira into ‘man’s world’ and how she became Wonder Woman. An adaptation of the famous “Gods and Mortals” story by George PΓ©rez.

 

Batman: Assault on Arkham

I know the title has “Batman” in it, but this is really a Suicide Squad film. Basically, a group of supervillains (the Suicide Squad) are blackmailed by the government into breaking into Arkham Asylum, a high security psychiatric hospital for supervillains, to recover highly valuable intel.

 

Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths

One of my favourite movies from this line, this movie depicts the Justice League having to deal with the Crime Syndicate, an evil, alternate version of the themselves.

 

And those were some of my favourite movies from the DC Universe Animated Original Movies line. If you liked those, I recommend checking out more movies from that line. Also, if you have more time on your hands, check out the DC Animated Universe (which includes Batman: The Animated Series, Justice League, and more), Batman: The Brave and the Bold, and Teen Titans.

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A Superheroes Comic Book Buying Guide

Posted by cyberpfalcon on December 14, 2015

I wrote a little superheroes comic book buying guide for work (hence, the references to work), and I thought that I’d share it here.
It started off as a joke, and probably won’t get accepted. XD

 
 
So, you decided, that maybe for 2016 (this newsletter is coming out way too late for holiday buying), you would give superheroes comics a try. Or maybe you just want to buy for someone else. Well, here’s a handy dandy guide for you to start with!

I assume that most of you are going to skip this (I mean, c’mon, a comic book buying guide in a work newsletter?), but if you do decide to read this, the following message is very important:

Pay attention to the age ratings given.

Yes, it was so important that I had to make the font bigger and bold. Seriously, if any of you give a copy of The Killing Joke or Watchmen to a little kid, and then complain to me about it when the aftermath happens, I’m going to laugh at you, and then be very cross with you, and then point you to the big, bold words above.

So, with that out of the way, let’s get started with…

Perennial Classics
This is it. The classics. The ones that have withstood the test of time. The ones that are pretty much ALWAYS in print.
Obviously, I can’t name ALL the classics, or this would go on for several thousands pages, but here are a few.

Batman: Year One (written by Frank Miller, art by David Mazzucchelli)
Batman: The Long Halloween (written by Jeph Loeb, art by Tim Sale)
Batman: Dark Victory (written by Jeph Loeb, art by Tim Sale)
Age Rating: All 12+ Only
These three comics are three of the most influential Batman stories ever written. They make their mark in nearly every adaptation of Batman, and have had a profound effect on the Batman mythos.
Year One takes a look at Batman’s… first year as Batman; The Long Halloween focuses on the relationship between Batman, Jim Gordon, and Harvey Dent; while Dark Victory introduces Robin.

Batman: The Killing Joke (written by Alan Moore, art by Brian Bolland)
Age Rating: 15+ Only
Oh boy. This is probably one of the most brutal stories about the Joker ever printed, and probably one of the best. A personal favourite of mine, this story depicts an attempt by the Joker to drive Jim Gordon to insanity, and Batman’s desperate quest to stop this.
I know it says 15+, but I’m taking these from comiXology… Word of advice, this story is not for the faint of heart.

All-Star Superman (written by Grant Morrison, art by Frank Quitely)
Age Rating: 12+ Only
Widely considered to be one of the best Superman stories of all time. It all starts off with a plot by Lex Luthor and… saying any more would just be spoiling it!

Spider-Man: Death of the Stacys (written by Stan Lee and Gerry Conway, art by Gil Kane and John Romita Jr.)
Age Rating: 12+ Only
I… honestly wished this book had a less indicitive title, but yes, this book is about the death of the Stacys. This is one of the best, and most tragic, Spider-Man stories ever told.

Secret Wars (written by Jim Shooter, art by Bob Layton and Mike Zeck)
Age Rating: 12+ Only
Note that this is not the 2015 series with the same name. Whether or not that one will become a classic remains to be seen.
This one, however, is a great, fun crossover with a ton of Marvel Superheroes! A being known as the Beyonder places a bunch of heroes and villians on Battleworld, and the winner gets a wish!

Watchmen (written by Alan Moore, art by Dave Gibbons)
Age Rating: 17+ Only
This is probably the most well known title from one of the greatest comic book writers ever, Alan Moore. The story focuses on the investigation of a government sponsored superhero, which pulls several other superheroes out of retirement, as well as the personal and moral struggles of said superheroes.

Recent Recommendations

The Dark Knight Returns (written by Frank Miller, art by Frank Miller)
Age Rating: 15+ Only
The classic Batman vs. Superman movie, this one sees a retired Batman coming out of retirement to face an even more decadent Gotham after a decade of his absence. If you want to get hyped up about the upcoming Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, get this one!

Justice League Vol. 1: Origins (written by Geoff Johns, art by Jim Lee and Scott Williams)
Avengers Vol. 1: Avengers World (written by Jonathan Hickman, art by Adam Kupert and Jerome OpeΓ±a
Age Rating: 12+ Only
Two great starting points for the two premier teams of DC and Marvel respectively!

Jessica Jones: Alias Vol. 1 (written by Brian Michael Bendis, art by Michael Gaydos and Bill Sienkiewicz)
Age Rating: 17+ Only
The original comic that the new Marvel TV series, Jessica Jones, is based on. This comic focuses on a retired superheroine who is now working as a private investigator. Volumes 2 and 3 are already in reprints, with 4 coming out early next year!

Not Recommended

Civil War (written by Mark Millar, art by Steve McNiven)
Age Rating: 12+ Only
To be honest, I actually like this comic.
However, I can’t recommend it to you, even though the upcoming Captain America: Civil War is based on it. It requires a lot of background knowledge leading up to the event to enjoy, and, while the idea of a Superhero Registration Act dividing the Marvel Superheroes into two sides is great, it is marred by a somewhat flawed execution. Not to mention that this story does not properly end, since Marvel was using it as a big “status quo change” for their universe.
Here’s to hoping that the upcoming Captain America: Civil War doesn’t mess it up as well!

Signing Off
Well, I hope you enjoyed that list.
I wanted to include more, but, unfortunately, I could only pull from DC and Marvel this time.
If I get to do this again, expect to see more from other publishers, and probably more recent recommendations over the classics. And it would be nice to not stick to only superheroes as well…
Until then, read more comics!

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Article On Writing Articles

Posted by cyberpfalcon on November 1, 2014

So, I read an article a while ago, and as I was reading it, I thought of the essay writing format that I was taught in high school. The Summary/Introduction, Body, and Conclusion format, I mean. The reason that I thought of it, was because the article strayed so far away from it that I actually gave up on the article several times, and only actually finished reading it the fifth or so time that I tried. With that in mind, I’m going to explain the essay format that I was talking about, and then discuss why I think it applies to article writing as well.

The Summary/Introduction, Body, and Conclusion essay writing format is… exactly what it sounds like. First you have an introduction paragraph which introduces the readers to your essay, and then you neatly summarize what it’s about. Then, you get down to the nitty gritty, and you have your body. This can be as many paragraphs as you like, and you usually dedicated a paragraph to each point that you want to make. At the end, you have your conclusion, wherein you summarize your essay again, and you draw whatever conclusion you want.

So, how does this apply to writing articles?

Well, first, let’s this out of the way, the Body section of articles are usually way more flexible than a point per paragraph. So feel free to structure your article’s body in whatever way you see fit (like I’m doing right now). However, do make sure that the Body of your article isn’t a complete mess, that it does have some structure, and that most paragraphs actually tie back into the thesis of the article. Otherwise, you will lose readers in the middle of your article.

What really does applies though, are the Summary/Introduction and the Conclusion sections.

It is vital to have a Summary/Introduction paragraph at the very beginning of your article. Especially in this day and age, when we have nine million things to read/watch/do/whatever. Doubly important if your article is going to be on some blog-like site. The article that I was reading (and it’s not the only one, of course), didn’t make it’s point until around seven paragraphs in. Since it was being posted on a blog-like site, only the beginning fluff was shown on the main website – the readers would have to click on “Read More” to actually see what the article was about. Most people would have given up after trying to decipher the point of the article from what they could only see on the blog’s preview of the post. The only reason why I bothered was because I was a long time reader of the site, and my gut told me that the article PROBABLY had a good point.

Furthermore, the Summary/Introduction section helps you hook the reader in. An article isn’t a speech or a story, where the readers going in generally have some idea about the content because of the blurb, the speaker, or the event. An article rarely has such a luxury, so, in order to hook the readers in, the article needs to tell the readers what it’s purpose is right away. There’s no time for fluff, save that for the Body. The first paragraph is for you to introduce the viewers to your subject and for you to state your thesis – it is for you to tell them what the whole point of the article is.

Now, after giving a Summary/Introduction and making your points in the Body, make sure to tie up everything in the Conclusion section. I’ve read many articles that left the reader unsatisfied. An article can’t simply make its points and leave. It needs to tie in all the points together and draw a conclusion. Whether the reader agrees with you or not is a different story, but at least the reader sees the concrete conclusion that you were going towards, and that the last eight paragraphs weren’t just aimless fluff.

So, there you have it, folks – my article on how the Summary/Introduction, Body, and Conclusion format can help articles be better. Being able to draw readers in with the Summary/Introduction, making sure that the Body has points to make, and then tying everything up in the Conclusion should give your article a sense of structure and make it easier for your readers to understand you. Now, of course, not every article needs to be in this format, but if you’re writing an article and you find yourself stuck, trying to communicate your thesis to you readers, maybe give this structure a go and hopefully it’ll help you out.

Oh, and in case you were wondering (yes, the Conclusion is over, but this is an article, so I’m allowed to have a postscript πŸ˜‰ ), the article that I was reading did turn out to have a few good points (which is why I tried to read it that many times), but it just took so long to get to it and it was such a mess, that I feel that a lot of readers would have given up way before the first actual, concrete point came up.

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Hiatus On Justice Knight Continues

Posted by cyberpfalcon on October 14, 2014

I’m in the middle of a lot of things in my personal life right now, so, unfortunately, the hiatus on Justice Knight will continue for longer than expected.

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