Episode 113: WSG Mario Francisco Robles

 

Kyle and Justin sit-down with Revenge of The Fans Editor in Chief Mario Francisco Robles, and discuss the ongoing situation with Ben Affleck as Batman. Additionally, the guys chat about the recent passing of Margot Kidder, the upcoming ‘Pennyworth’ television series that will debut on EPIX and the upcoming DC Films slate! Hit the link for that and so much more!

 

 

 

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Batman Ninja: A Beautiful Frustration

By Drew Kiess

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Oh, boy… where to start with this one?

I suppose I will start by admitting that this is a review of the dubbed version of Batman Ninja. I am not an anime fan, so watching the movie with subtitles would have been a chore for me. For some, that may disqualify me altogether from reviewing this. That would be fair. I can only approach this from the standpoint of being a Batman fan, so that is the angle from which this review is written.

There. The qualifier is done.

Batman Ninja is the newest addition in the long line of DC Animated movies, this time from Warner Bros. proper and not from any of its subdivisions, such as Warner Premier. This movie will see a theatrical release in Japan, and I sincerely wish it all the success in the world there. The film was directed by Junpei Mizusaki, with Roger Craig Smith providing the dubbing for Batman, Tara Strong for Harley Quinn, Grey Griffin for Selina Kyle, and Tony Hale for the Joker.

When Gorilla Grodd’s time travelling experiment sends Batman, his allies—Nightwing, Red Robin, Robin, Alfred, Red Hood, and Catwoman—and his greatest foes—Joker, Harley Quinn, Two-Face, Penguin, and Deathstroke—back in time to feudal Japan, Batman must learn the ways of the ninja in order to return everyone back to Gotham. As the movie opens, the CG animation is striking. The movements look fluid and the action is more captivating than anything DC animation has put out in some time.

This quality in the visuals is almost constant throughout and the eyes never get bored watching the movie. The one strike against this is a baffling change in style about midway through the film that seemingly serves no storytelling purpose, but this alone does not sink this movie.

What keeps this movie from being great in my eyes is its over reliance on its own medium. The film sets itself up in ”our Gotham”, and then transports the familiar back in time to feudal Japan, but the rules of feudal Japan are not the rules of “our Gotham”—it exists very much by the rules of anime.

And this would be fine, if the movie set itself up as an anime first, set in an anime world. By trying to its cake and eat it, too, the film loses its punch. If fighting mechanical castles were necessary to the overall arc of the film, perhaps it would have been better to simply establish that the world that this Batman lives in is that kind of world, and not bother with the whole time travel ruse (It’s hard not to feel like Randall from Clerks, here. “I don’t appreciate your ruse, ma’am. Your cunning attempt to trick me).

What saves this movie for me is the characterization of Batman, which never feels false to the character, and the aesthetic. It is also incredibly refreshing to see a DC animated movie that doesn’t feel reliant on sophomoric sexual overtones that have become tiresome in recent entries. The characterization of the other characters, however—save, perhaps, Selina Kyle—is all over the map and not really as true as I would prefer.

Overall, I am lukewarm on Batman Ninja. This very well may be a great movie that simply wasn’t made for me. What I can say is that the film is absolutely gorgeous, and the marketing on just how good this film looks was not overstated. If you are a Batman fan or an anime fan, I would say that Batman Ninja is worth checking out. But if you are not as into anime as you are into Batman, then this may not be for you, either.

 

Final Grade: B-

 

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Suicide Squad: Hell To Pay

By Drew Kiess

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Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay is the latest addition to the DC Animated Universe that began with Justice League: Flashpoint Paradox and is the first to feature the Suicide Squad. The film stars Christian Slater as Deadshot, Vanessa Williams as Amanda Waller, Billy Brown as the Bronze Tiger, Kristen Bauer van Straten as Killer Frost, Gideon Emery as Copperhead, Liam McIntyre as Captain Boomerang, and Tara Strong as Harley Quinn. It was written by Alan Burnett (Batman: Mask of the Phantasm) and was directed by Sam Liu (Batman: The Killing Joke).

Can we be honest about these animated films for a moment? There has been a narrative about DC’s animated projects that has been all the rage that these are the DC movies that are knocking it out of the park. And at one time, that was honestly true. From Wonder Woman, New Frontier, The Dark Knight Returns, and Flashpoint Paradox, there was a strong string of good to great animated features in a short amount of time.

Since then, there has been less consistency. Killing Joke and Batman and Harley Quinn are far removed from the glory days of DC animated films. And for every Gotham by Gaslight, there is the unavoidable realization that the production quality is not what it once was. And I don’t think it’s a problem with the creative team, but there might just be too many projects for not enough people.

Suicide Squad: Hell To Pay may be one of the better productions from this universe in a while, but the story as a whole feels somewhat lacking. The Squad is sent to retrieve a get out of hell card for Waller, but they have some competition from various baddies across the DC Universe, including Blockbuster, Vandal and Scandal Savage, and Professor Zoom. A grindhouse road trip ensues to find the card.

Where this movie thrives is with the villains—that is, the bad bad-guys. The connections to the greater universe that is weaved into this film may be the best use of this connected universe to date. If this were the focal point of the movie (you know, telling an interesting story within a larger comic book universe) it would have been one of my favorites. That’s not what we got.

What we got was a movie that promised a sexy, violent action movie that could not separate itself from past attempts by these animated movies to be more “adult”, succeeding only in fulfilling the most juvenile of expectations on both fronts. Fetishizing strippers and lesbians is not something I associate with “edgy” and it, unsurprisingly, falls incredibly short here.

I have said it before with these movies and apparently it needs repeating: not everything needs to push the boundaries. Cool stories that exploit what makes these characters interesting will forever be preferable than using these characters to prove some point that comic book stories can be “grown up”. It’s a trend that is in desperate need of ending and I seriously hope it finds its demise before Death of Superman.

Here’s hoping.

 

 

The Reconstruction of the Superhero, Part Three: Doomsday Clock #4

By Drew Kiess

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The following contains spoilers for Doomsday Clock #4: “Walk On Water”

I See What I Want To See

Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ “The Abyss Gazes Also”, the sixth issue in Watchmen is, in this writer’s opinion, among the most important issues in comic book history. Showing the effects of witnessing tragedy on a once idealistic vigilante in such a brutal  way changed Watchmen from being an angry rebuttal of comic book culture into a true deconstruction of the building blocks of the mythos.

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“The Abyss Gazes Also” features Walter Kovacs, the first man to don the moniker Rorschach in prison, being interviewed by Dr. Malcolm Long.

Dr. Long is a mixture of good intentions and star struck, as he sees Kovacs as his chance to make an impression in psychological literature. His relationship with Kovacs is rocky, as Kovacs refuses to reveal much of what is going on in his mind. But as the issue continues, Kovacs’ story comes out.

Dark As It Gets

Kovacs retells a story of an investigation into the kidnapping of a young girl. Upon finding her kidnapper, he discovers that she was murdered, and possibly molested, her bones in the mouth of the monster’s dogs. Kovacs, in anger, brutally murders the man responsible.

“It is not God who kills the children. Not fate that butchers them or destiny that feeds them to  the dogs,” Kovacs tells Dr. Long. “It’s us. Only us.” Dr. Long sits on his bed that night, his marriage in ruins and his career in question after a lengthy and emotional effort to discover something of meaning in Rorschach, looks at an inkblot. Nothing but “meaningless blackness,” he thinks. The horror broke him.

There was nothing to solve.

What Do You See, Mr. Long?

Dr. Matthew Mason walks into the room where the mysterious Rorschach II sits, strapped to a chair, unmasked. Although Mason does not know his new patient’s identity, the inner monologue reveals Rorschach II to be Reggie Long, the son of Dr. Malcolm Long, driven to obsession when Veidt’s plan caused the death of his parents.

Reggie’s views of Dr. Mason, often comparable to Kovacs’ views of Dr. Long, are filtered through Reggie’s views of his father. Dr. Mason is nothing like his father, to him, although his view of Dr. Mason is how Kovacs saw Dr. Long.

Our heroes are how we choose to see them. In this way, the broken mirror image of Bruce Wayne deconstructs how the trauma of a young man views his parents’ relationship and death despite what we know is reality, and how tragedy informed his obsession and mission.

You Need To See Them At Their Best

Reggie had to be institutionalized after the death of his parents. While in asylum, he met Byron Lewis—Moth Man—former member of the Minute Men. Byron trains Reggie to be a one-man Minute Man, teaching him all the tricks the Minute Men had up their sleeves. In this time, Reggie’s view of reality is changed through the encouragement of Byron—instead of seeing them for how they died, he began viewing them at their happiest. He regained an idealized view of his parents, and his hatred for Adrian Veidt grew.

When Reggie’s opportunity to end Veidt’s life and avenge the death of his parents came, Reggie saw the remorse in Veidt’s eyes and couldn’t kill him. This conflicted with his simple view of good and evil. It broke him again.

I Have Someone To Blame

A fascinating element to the character of Bruce Wayne is that his crusade as Batman was never really about Joe Chill, the man who killed his parents. No, Wayne’s mission was to ensure that no child in his city should ever suffer the way he did. In contrast, Reggie Long wishes to avenge his suffering, and finds he has no place to send it. So it is interesting that, when it is revealed that Dr. Mason is, in fact, Bruce Wayne in disguise, that Bruce cannot penetrate through the inkblot.

Of course, Bruce is wearing his own kind of meaningless blackness. Two men attempting to understand each other through misperceptions and disguises are never going to achieve the understanding that they are after.

But which one is the hero? And which one is truly putting the future in jeopardy? Well, the only real answer to that is “we see what we want to see.”

Turned Them Toward Light

Issues like this separate great comic book stories and good ones. This was a game changer, even if the story feels like the story does not advance (it very much does, whether we see it or not). Not only is this the best issue of Doomsday Clock so far, this may go down as one of Geoff Johns and Gary Frank’s greatest accomplishment: Examining trauma and not losing heroism. Now, the reconstruction of the superhero can begin.

 

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Shanlian On Batman: Episode 111 wsg Sean Gerber

 

Justin and Kyle discuss the recently revealed logo for Shazam! and speculate about Matt Reeve’s “The Batman” as production for it has been set for a start date in 2019! Special guest Sean Gerber joins us part way through to also give his two cents on the Fallout from “Justice League” the ongoing situation with the DCEU and chats some Matt Reeves “The Batman.”

Shanlian On Batman: Episode 110 wsg Mario F. Robles

 

Justin and Kyle are back at it with special guest Mario F. Robles the Editor in Chief Revenge of the Fans. You can listen to Mario on his own the El Fanboy Podcast where you can hear him chat about the nerd culture and all things superheroes! We sit down with Mario and chat with him about the DCEU going forward, those leaked Shazam! pictures and the whether or not Matt Reeves is the guy for The Batman!

Fandom At War, But Fans Are Still Good

by Drew Kiess

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It’s gotten to the point where I dread a big superhero movie opening. Don’t get me wrong, when I’m in the theater watching them, I’m having the time of my life, mostly. I enjoyed Black Panther, even if I had a few nitpicks.

But we don’t live in a world where we just enjoy things. It has to be accompanied by so much baggage. From behind-the-scenes drama, corporate finances, and social movements now dominate the discussion of the golden era of superheroes on the silver screen.

This last week, a film pundit (who shall remain nameless here) took to his platform to proclaim that something bad was coming down the pipe regarding DC on film but that he wasn’t go to share. Of course, with the internets being what they are, this blew up with speculation that resulted in Matt Reeves responding on Twitter that he was, indeed, not leaving as director of The Batman, which was a rumor spawned out of the whole mess.

This is where fandom is, and I want no part of it. I know I freelance for a fansite, but I strive to be better than the rumor-mill style of writing that has become so pervasive in this corner of the internet. Any trip onto Twitter seeing more fevered arguments about whether or not we should have the “who would win in a fight…” argument about female comic book characters from people who are outside of comic book culture is enough to make me, for a split second, think that, perhaps, fandom is toxic after all.

But there are moments, when talking with my friends who love these characters like I do, that I find a joy in my fandom again. The noise of online fandom fades into the background as we talk about Frank Miller vs Scott Snyder, or whether Aquaman could take down Namor (he could, by the way. Just call in a whale and have it sit on top of him. TKO).

The noise fades when every time I crack open an issue of Action Comics and see Booster Gold reference Marvel Comics. Or Superman and see Clark and Jon talking about the nature of hope and faith. Or The Mighty Thor and see decades of amazing Thor stories coming to a head during Jane Foster’s final days.

I don’t think fandom is toxic. I think we’ve just lost our way the past few years, and I’m hopeful we’ll find it again. I don’t recall every having a time more rich with great superhero content between comics, movies, television, and video games, and I’m choosing to enjoy every second of it. And even if I don’t like something, I’ll happily move along. Life’s too short to linger there.

I’ll also try to avoid Twitter. That might help, too.

 

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Shanlian On Batman: Episode 109 wsg Jay Oliva

 

 

Justin and Kyle sit down to have another discussion with our special guest Jay Oliva. Jay has directed many animated films and his extensive work as a storyboard artist has been featured in many great superhero films. Jay has worked on Man Of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Wonder Woman and Justice League.

When he isn’t working on those films he worked as a director at Warner Bros. Animation and has directed classics like The Dark Knight Returns, Batman vs Robin and Batman: Assault on Arkham.

Tonight, we chat with Jay about all his recent storyboard work on Man of Steel, BvS, Wonder Woman and Justice League. We finish the episode discussing the amazing film he directed Batman: Assault on Arkham and everything he did to make that film so incredible!

Episode 108 ft. Daniel Alter

 

 

Justin and Kyle are joined by honored guest Daniel Alter. Dan is a movie producer and lover of Superhero Films and Nerd Culture, and we are so honored for him to come on the podcast for a second time!! On this episode we chat with Dan about the lack of Superhero Film Representation at this year’s Academy Awards, the Wonder Woman Snub, Logan and The Lego Batman movie.

Additionally, the guys chat about the future of The DCEU, the ongoing situation with #Batfleck and thoughts on if Jake Gyllenhaal would make a great live action Batman!

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