Tag Archives: DC

Rant Alert: Superman/Batman Movie

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So SDCC is over for another year and there was a lot of great stuff announced that has me really excited: Amazing Spider-Man 2 is looking great, Black Canary will be in season two of Arrow, all of Marvel’s movie stuff- Cap 2, Guardians of the Galaxy, Age of Ultron. It was a great weekend. By far, however, for me the biggest announcement was that Man of Steel 2 will actually be Superman/Batman (I’m betting they’ll title it World’s Finest before it’s over).

Yep, that happened. Now I’m going to tell you why I think it’s a brilliant move on their part. It’s not quite how Marvel did it. Marvel built their world up by giving the major players all their own solo movies and then bringing them together for Avengers, and I still think that’s the best way to do it. However, in this case I think doing a Superman/Batman movie first is the right way to go.

First, we don’t need another Batman origin movie. Everyone knows that story. Everyone is familiar with who Batman is. No matter what interpretation of the character you look at, be it the comics, the Bruce Timm animated series (or any of the other 3-4 since), or the Burton or Nolan films that is the one consistent thing- Bruce was a rich kid who watched his parents get gunned down in front of him and he dedicates his life and fortune to making sure that doesn’t happen to anyone else. By introducing Batman in a Superman film it allows them to do a few things that we haven’t really seen before in a Batman movie- Batman as the criminals see him, the urban legend. If the movie, at least the first half, is from Clark’s perspective then we get to be introduced to this version of Batman in the same way that Clark is, and I think that’s a pretty cool way to do it.

Second, if a Justice League movie is going to work, it’s going to have to be built on a foundation and that foundation is Superman and Batman (and Wonder Woman). If you can’t get a Supes/Bats film to work, then Justice League isn’t going to happen. If it does work, then they could do a “Trinity” movie as a follow up to introduce Wonder Woman, and from there do a Justice League. I don’t know if that’s how they’re planning it, I’m just throwing it out there.

Third, it allows them to establish/address a few things that need to be addressed. This version of Batman needs to be the worlds greatest detective. He needs to be the guy that has a plan for everything, and then a back up plan if that plan doesn’t work, and then a backup for the backup. That’s who the Justice League Batman is and it’s the reason why he works as a “normal” man surrounded by a bunch of gods. He’s the smartest guy in the room. He’s the tactician. He’s the guy that found out a way to neutralize not just Superman, but every single member of the Justice League “just in case”. It’s the reason why the Nolan/Bale version of Batman just wouldn’t work. I love those films and I loved Bale as Batman, but that version of the character just wasn’t “that guy”.  Also, they’ve already said they’re going to address *spoilers, but if you haven’t seen the movie by now and you’re reading this you probably already know because it’s been harped on so much all over the internet for a month* Superman killing Zod. Who better than to throw that in Superman’s face than Batman? Superman comes down on him about how he operates, how he uses fear and intimidation, and Batman responds with “But I don’t kill.” That needs to happen.

The version of Batman that they really should be looking to for inspiration is the Bruce Timm version of the character from Batman: The Animated Series, Batman Beyond, Justice League, and Justice League Unlimited. For me, that is the very best interpretation of the character from any medium, comics included. That is Batman, and he works solo and as a part of the Justice League. In fact, if I could get everyone involved for this movie and the future ones to just sit down in a room I’d force them to watch Batman/Superman: World’s Finest and the entire Justice League/JLU series and then simply say: “Do that.” Seriously, Timm, Dini, McDuffy, etc. already did all the heavy lifting. They’ve already adapted the comics into a damn near perfect interpretation of the characters that works for all ages. JLU in  particular struck the perfect balance between light/dark, kid-friendly and mature storytelling. If DC really wants to have a franchise that can stand toe to toe with what Marvel has been doing they need to use what Timm  and company did on those animated series as their guiding star. Of course this is jut my opinion. Feel free to share what you think in the comments below.

J.R. Broadwater is the author of the non-fiction book Down with the Thickness: Viewing the World From a Fat Guy’s Perspective, the sci-fi detective novel You Only Die Twice, the fantasy novel The Chosen: Rebirthing Part 1 & 2, and the superhero tale Just Super, all available now in digital and paperback formats. Sample chapters and more information about these books can be found here. Kindle editions are all available for $0.99.

 

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Rant Alert: Why DC & Marvel Are Royally Screwing Up and How They Could Easily Fix It

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I love comics. I’m a huge fan of both Marvel and DC characters, as they fill different storytelling needs I may crave at any given moment. If I want more character-driven drama I look to Marvel. When I feel like just watching super people beat the snot out of each other while looking badass, I go to DC.

Except for lately. Both companies have been really hit or miss for a while now, particularly in the past few years.

Marvel

With Marvel, we have event after event that just ends up not meaning much or having any lasting consequences in the long run. Often they’re not even finished with one event before they’re already hyping the next. That’s not even counting the deaths, which mean absolutely nothing at this point because everyone knows it’s not going to last more than a few months at most (DC does this too). It’s exhausting, pointless, and by Fear Itself I’d completely lost interest and stopped bothering to follow much of anything… except for Amazing Spidey, but then they went and did it there too. Don’t get me wrong, they do have some solid books. I love Waid’s Daredevil. I was totally on board for Slott’s ASM until this whole Superior thing happened, and while I read the first few issues and understand where Slott was going with it, I just didn’t care much.

The movies are awesome. All of the MCU movies have been just pure joy for me, even the ones that didn’t execute as well as they could have. *cough*IronMan2*cough*. I’m thrilled that Whedon pulled off Avengers as well as he did and that it became a redonkulous success.  They deserved a big win. It was an amazing accomplishment. The problem, now, is that Marvel is trying so hard to bank on that that it’s affecting, in my opinion, all their books. How many Avengers teams are there now? How many members? Why is being an Avenger special if EVERYONE is an Avenger?

Now they’re doing their Marvel Now! thing, which they insist isn’t a reboot, and that’s fine. But let’s be honest: it really is only going to be same crap, different day in the end. There’ll be big events back to back to back. People will die, only to be brought back in a few months. Nothing will really change.

DC

Yep, New 52. Pretty much says it all for most fans. I have to admit when they first announced it I was completely on board. I loved the concept and I was ready for them to make a change and make things fresh again. I bought just about all 52 first issues, and followed at least a majority of them for their first story arcs. Wonder Woman was great. Batman was amazing. Green Lantern was virtually the same as it’s always been. But something became apparent very early: they, as a company, had no freaking idea what they were doing. They had no long term plan. They didn’t think things through. A reboot like they were talking about is something that has to be meticulously planned, mapped out, and then replanned. You need to know EXACTLY how the timeline works for everyone. Especially with the half-assed way they cherry picked continuity because they were too afraid to pull the trigger on a full reboot. As a result we got an even bigger mess than what we started with, and books like Batman and Green Lantern (whose continuity was basically untouched) adopted problems because now 40+ years worth of stories were expected to be fit into 5 years of continuity. That means Bruce was running through Robins faster than a fat kid goes through gummy bears. Then there’s Superman, who needed a solid reboot more than anyone else. They can’t get a decent foundation for that character for anything, which is sad because Superman is THE superhero. But everything they’ve done with him solo has just been a hot mess. I’m really hoping that Snyder/Lee can pull off a good book because Superman deserves one, and I desperately want one.

Ultimate Multiverse

This is entirely subjective. It’s just my opinion. But this is so freaking obvious to me, and it has been for years, that I’m amazed that the “big two” hasn’t realized it yet. Marvel has already set the stage for how they can fix a lot of this mess, but even there I don’t think they fully grasp just what they have.

I’m referring to the Ultimate line of books.

I love the Ultimate Universe. That’s not to say that I think it’s solid gold all the time or that I’ve loved everything they’ve done. Far from it. I love it because everything matters. They have fresh takes on the characters and storylines we all love. Some work. Some don’t. But everything matters. Everything they’ve done, regardless in what book, has a lasting consequence for everything else. It is very much a shared universe. Peter Parker dies (in a very beautifully written way, I might add). Two years later and he’s still dead. There’s a new Spidey and I love reading him as much as I did Peter. It’s just a well written story. Reed Richards….well I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t been following, but they do a complete 180 with his character. It was unexpected, creative, and I loved it.

There are no reboots. Events actually have weight and consequence. Deaths stick and have meaning. This is they way comics should be, because I actually care. Even when the story itself is utter crap *cough*Ultimatum*cough* I still care because what happens will have lasting repercussions, and ten years worth of continuity without a ton of reboots is a hell of a lot easier to get into and follow than 40+ years of whacked out resetting.

DC has set the stage for the same damn thing with the Multiverse but they haven’t utilized it the way they could/should probably out of some stupid schoolyard bullcrap of not wanting to follow suit on what the other company is doing that works. They do the same thing with the movies and it’s shot them in the foot. I find all of this hilarious since both companies have been blatantly ripping off each other’s character ideas since the beginning, but now when it matters, they refuse. Instead of doing a half-assed not-quite-reboot with the New 52, they could have trimmed off 4-5 of the 15 Bat books, books that aren’t selling well, etc. and just started doing their own “Ultimate” DC universe set in one of the other 52 Earths. New versions of the characters. New Stories. Fresh takes. Relevant issues. No reboot required.

But they didn’t. Instead they made a bad situation much worse.

My Answer

This is going to be controversial, and many fans, particularly old-school comic fans, will probably call me a moron. But this is my answer to the constant rebooting, meaningless deaths, and pointless events- A 30 year continuity for each “generation”. Period.

15 years in you introduce an “alternate” universe (think Marvel’s Ultimate Universe, for example). At the end of the 30 year time frame you phase out the “main” universe, the former “alternate” universe becomes the main, and a new alternate universe is introduced.

This accomplishes a few things:

  • Each generation gets a fresh take on the characters. They become “their” versions of the character. This allows both companies to make sure their characters, stories, etc. all remain relevant and tailored to new audiences each generation without having to do silly reboots or death/resurrections. They’d still have the archives of past “generations” or Earths, or whatever that readers could go back and read to get alternate takes.
  • Everything matters. Deaths are permanent. Events have consequence. There’s no rebooting or backtracking two months later. Readers will be invested in the characters and stories being told.
  • Good storytelling and creativity becomes the focus. When everything matters quality control will have to be much more stringent. Crap that gets through now does so because if it doesn’t work it doesn’t matter. They’ll just retcon it or whatever later. In this way editors, writers, artists, etc. will have to be much more conscious of what they’re doing. That’s not to hinder the storytelling, it just means they actually have to think before they act and it cuts down on doing the money grab crappy stories just to go along with the flavor of the month. It also fosters trying new things with the characters, because there’s no reason to retread on something that’s already been done, unless you can do it differently/better (Ultimate accomplished this with the Clone Saga, for instance).
  • The universe doesn’t have to end, but there can be resolution to characters and stories. More to the point, there can now be a beginning, middle, and end for that version of a character’s story without destroying a franchise. Phasing out doesn’t have to mean nuking, however. The companies would still have the option to go back and visit past universes with new stories through miniseries, specials, events, etc.  But they can try new things with this system without having to throw the baby out with the bathwater and utterly mucking up continuity.
  • More choice. As the cycle progresses readers will have an abundance of choice. They can go back and follow an entire generation’s worth of stories without having to worry about confusing continuity. Don’t like this current version of Spider-Man? You’ll have several other versions to choose from that you might identify with more.

It certainly not a perfect solution, but it’s a solution that I think makes the most sense. it’s certainly better than the constant rebooting and retconning that’s currently going on. But that’s just my opinion. Feel free to sound off in the comments and discuss.

J.R. Broadwater is the author of the non-fiction book Down with the Thickness: Viewing the World From a Fat Guy’s Perspective,  the sci-fi detective novel You Only Die Twice, the fantasy novel The Chosen: Rebirthing Part 1-, and the superhero tale Just Super, all available now in digital and paperback formats. Sample chapters and more information about these books can be found here.

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Rant Alert- Arrow

The CW doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to quality programming (the exception being Supernatural, which is awesome), especially when it deals with comic book characters. I admit I followed Smallville all ten years it was on the air, hoping with the rest of the fans that the payoff would be worth it. Smallville flirted with being a genuinely good Superman show a few times, especially in the last few seasons as they started adding more characters from the comics and got away from the teen angst drama crap. A big reason why the show never quite made it is because of their budget. When you read interviews with the show runners it was apparent that they loved the character and really wanted to give fans what they wanted, but a lot of times lack of funds was the biggest issue. However, the final episode, after ten years of waiting, gave us a CGI Superman in the horrible Returns outfit for a whole 5 seconds. It was lame.

Then they announced that they would be doing a series based on Green Arrow, and not as a spinoff of the character in Smallville. I was not enthused. Then ComiCon came around and footage of the show was released. The trailer did a lot to pique my interest, as it had a very “Begins” vibe to it, and they seemed to be taking the material seriously. The fact that they were basing the show around the very VERY good Year One comic made me even more excited that they just might pull it off, despite the doomsaying that was going around the internet from fellow comic nerds. The night the pilot aired I was genuinely surprised with how much I liked it. It wasn’t perfect, but it was certainly entertaining. I was willing to give it a chance. We’re now three episodes into the season and I’m happy to report that so far Arrow is actually a decent show- enough so that I find myself going out of my way to watch it when it airs (the fact that it’s paired with Supernatural certainly helps). It still has it’s problems, such as the lame voice-overs and characters being willfully ignorant, but they’re relatively minor annoyances in what is otherwise an entertaining show. Most good shows always need a few episodes to get into their groove, and Arrow is already off to a better start than most in that regard. The acting, overall, is solid. There’s some cheesy dialogue here and there, and the sister could get annoying very quickly, but it seems to be improving as they go. The fact that they’re incorporating elements from the comics, and trying to actually keep them close to their comic counterparts is a plus. They also throw in little Easter eggs for comic nerds like me, like the mention of Bludhaven in the trailer for next week, which is fun. Overall I’m really happy with the direction they’re going, and I’m glad that they just got a full season order. I’m hoping it continues to get better.

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Rant Alert- Marvel & DC

I’ve always been interested in comics and comic characters. Like any little boy who grew up in the 80’s I used to run around with towels tied around my neck and pretend to be Superman or Batman. I watched the Chris Reeve Superman movies; I begged my parents to take me to see Burton’s Batman. My room was covered with posters. I had all the toys and would act out my own stories with them. I waited with baited anticipation every time a new episode of Batman: The Animated Series would come on. I loved the idea of superheroes.

I never got the chance to really read many comics, because it was a habit that was just too expensive. I’d occasionally be able to read piles of my friend’s comics whenever I went over to their house, but it wasn’t until my first year of college that I got the chance to really start a collection of my own. When I worked for a bookstore as a summer job I was able to pick up with my store discount Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore and the incredibly awesome Kingdom Come by Mark Waid and Alex Ross. Like everyone else, I loved the Killing Joke, but it was Kingdom Come that really had an impact on me. I was a pastoral ministry major at the time, with the intent on going into the ministry after I graduated (which I did). The way that Waid and Ross weaved the book of Revelation from the Bible into the story about DC’s biggest heroes mesmerized me. I didn’t even know who half the characters were, and I had to constantly refer to the beautiful double spread character pages in the back of the book to know who was who, but that didn’t matter- I was in love.

A year later me and my two best friends were living together and running a summer camp for a local church in Chattanooga, a church I’d later go on to work for full time as a licensed minister. Matt was a huge comics nerd and had brought a large part of his comics collection with him from Memphis, so every night after work I’d spend a majority of my time (when I wasn’t playing Knights of the Old Republic) reading comics. Daredevil, Ultimate Spider-Man, Batman, Superman, I devoured them all. At the end of the summer I spent nearly my entire paycheck on starting my own collection. Three years later and my library of trade paperbacks rivaled Matt’s.

Comics have been a passion of mine ever since, and it’s been a dream of both myself and Shawn to create comics for a living. I have a huge amount of respect for many of the creators working today, but I, like many fans, have grown increasingly concerned with the direction that both of the “Big Two” have been going the past few years. While the movie side of things, especially for Marvel, has become brilliant, the comics side feels more like it’s about short-termed planning rather than ensuring a legacy of quality for the long-term. I understand completely that it is a business. As an indie writer I know all too well how difficult it is to market and sell your creations.

I didn’t have a problem with the New 52 sorta-reboot of the DC universe. I was actually excited because I felt like it was something that has been needed for a long time. The problem is the relaunch, while financially successful, has felt incredibly “short sighted”. It’s become obvious over the past year that the reboot wasn’t completely thought through as much as it should have been. A reboot meant to correct continuity problems and start fresh caused more problems than it solved in many areas, mostly because DC failed to fully commit. The bat-family’s history is “mostly intact” but is instead crammed into 5 years, where some things have happened, some haven’t, and some just wasn’t thought through and has changed several times over the course of the last year *cough*Tim Drake*cough*. The same could be said for Green Lantern, though the problems there have been less substantial given that much of the GL universe has been pretty self contained away from Earth. Still, it leaves the long-time reader feeling as though the whole thing was more a short-term money grab than the long-term quality enhancer it was originally sold as. That’s not to say that good things haven’t come out of the reboot: Snyder and Capullo’s Batman run has been nothing short of amazing. Wonder Woman got a much needed shot in the arm. Animal Man and Swamp Thing were both surprisingly engaging, and they actually made Aquaman a legit hero again rather than a joke. But overall, the line-wide quality, constant shuffling of creative teams, inconsistent storytelling, continuity confusion, and creators very publicly breaking down have all tarnished the initiative.

On Marvel’s side they’re entering their own not-reboot, and many of the decisions thus far have left fans wondering if that same short-sighted decision making is in effect there as well. In my personal opinion the 616 Marvel universe as a whole has been in trouble for a couple of years now (with the exception of a few select titles like Waid’s run on Daredevil and Slott’s run on Amazing Spider-Man). Marvel’s done one “Event” after another to the point where in some cases they’re already promoting the next “big event” while the current one is still going on. Readers often haven’t had a chance to see the consequences of the larger story in the stand-alone titles before another “big thing” happens which often renders the previous stuff moot. Then the Avengers scored HUGE at the box office, and now we have 40 Avengers titles in the lineup of the new Now! initiative. Tell me, what’s so special about being an Avenger when EVERYONE is an Avenger? Do we need the same 3 characters in 15 different books? I’m exaggerating here, obviously, but it still feels like decisions are being made that are more about selling comics than about quality storytelling. Again, I understand it’s a business, but it doesn’t make sense to me to cater to supposed “new” fans that might pick up an issue or two because they like the movies only to alienate the long-time loyal readers that regularly buy multiple comics each week. Is there no real balance point there?

Then there’s digital comics. I’m a HUGE fan of digital. I love having direct, instant access to stuff. I’ve gone largely digital for both my comics and my novel collections. I still like having hard copy trades for my collection, but for singles digital is great for me. I’m very glad that the comics industry has finally embraced digital content in a big way. Where I have the problem is it is utterly ridiculous for us to have to pay full price for a digital copy of something that we, as a consumer, don’t even technically own.  Again, I understand the reasoning behind it: they don’t want to scare retailers who are afraid that digital is going to put brick and mortar store out of business. I get it. Still, it’s incredibly unfair to the consumer at the prices we’re currently being charged. $4 for something that takes 5 minutes to read and we don’t even have a physical copy that we can claim ownership of? Horsecrap. Both DC and Marvel would find that those new readers they’re so interested in finding and keeping might be much more apt to check stuff out if they didn’t have to sell their children to be able to afford it. Hell, especially if those new readers are kids. How many parents can afford dropping $20+ a week in comics? I know MANY fans that would gladly buy dozens of titles a month for a cheaper price in digital and then would still buy the trade for their collections. You’d get them twice. Dolla dolla billz ya’ll.

Casual fans, parents buying for their kids, or fans of the movies who are interested in checking out the books are much more apt to make purchases digitally, even on a whim, than they are to actually hunt down a brick and mortar comic shop. Even ignoring that, it’s still a pile of crap for publishers to charge consumers the same price for a digital object they don’t own as they do for a hard copy of the same product- and that’s for ANY publisher, be it comics or traditional novels. It’s the reason why Shawn and I agreed that our digital products would ALWAYS be cheaper than the physical copies. In fact, the digital copies of the two books we currently have for sale are the lowest price point we could charge for our system of distribution, and it’ll continue to be that way for everything we do, be it a novel or a comic. Period.

I love the comic industry. I want to see it flourish, especially now that the movies have made comics less a “kids thing” or a “nerd thing”. Now is the time where the comic’s industry could really shine as a medium, but it feels like the two biggest companies are squandering away the opportunity with short-sighted cash grabs, rather than focusing on telling quality, engaging stories that will keep the new readers they may gain wanting to come back. There’s a balance there between quality and need. I really hope that they can find it, especially now that more and more creators have been jumping ship mostly due to frustration with many of the things I’ve been talking about. Fans can be jackasses and whiny b*tches. We can be very fickle, and  they’ll never be able to please everyone. In the end, however, most of that passion, no matter how misdirected or inappropriately expressed it may be, is only because they love these characters. I love these characters, and I love many of the creative teams that are working on them. I’d just like to see things be more about the quality, and less about the quantity. When the quality is there I truly believe the rest will take care of itself eventually. I think the movies are proving that now- like with the Nolan Batman films and Avengers. I just hope that the people in charge of both companies will realize that soon. /endrant

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