Keaton returns to the Batcave! 5 Suits Keaton May Wear

by Drew Kiess

In 1992, Tim Burton’ts Batman Returns hit theaters. It may have upset parent groups and McDonald’s who hoped the superhero film would be more family and Happy Meal friendly, but it has become something of a classic since. It is also the last time we saw Michael Keaton as Batman. Keaton would exit the role as Warner Brothers would move on from Burton’s world for a lighter take with the late Joel Schumacher’s Batman Forever, and Val Kilmer would take over the role in a less than memorable performance.

Kilmer would only star in the one film before being replaced by George Clooney to disastrous effects in Batman and Robin, followed by Christian Bale in the beloved Batman trilogy from Christopher Nolan. The character would be rebooted again by Zack Snyder in Batman v Superman, Suicide Squad, and the upcoming Zack Snyder’s Justice League next year. Robert Pattinson is also preparing to resume filming on Matt Reeves’ film currently titled The Batman, which appears set to be more of a Black Label film like Joker that won’t influence the main film continuity, also set for release next year. The fact that we are getting two Batman movies next year is due to Affleck’s struggles during the filming of Justice League– an infamously troubled production following the departure of director Zack Snyder due to a family tragedy which was almost entirely reworked and reshot by Joss Whedon mere months before release. That experience during a time when the actor was dealing with a host f his own personal demons, led Affleck to drop out of Reeves’ film, which then evolved into being something entirely different from the already established DCEU. While Affleck will get to have his original performance seen for the first time next year, his time as Bruce Wayne on the bigscreen is over.

With a continuity in crisis, DC and Warner Brothers, now under the steady leadership of Walter Hamada, are taking a page out of a comic book editor’s playbook- reset the timeline, keep what works and discard the rest. Enter Flashpoint. The 2022 film, directed by It director Andy Muschietti, and seemingly starring Ezra Miller as Barry Allen/The Flash, will introduced the concept of the multiverse to the DC films. This concept is not new to fans of DC, and was also explored to great success in Sony/Marvel’s Into the Spiderverse. In a world where there are beloved movies, serials, and television shows in different continuities spanning nearly 80 years, this is an amazing way of officially saying that everything matters.

To prove that point, Flashpoint is bringing back Michael Keaton. Reports are even suggesting that Keaton will not only appear in Flashpoint as a touchstone to a previous movie universe, but will somehow be included into the DCEU going forward as the new Bruce Wayne, effectively replacing the void left behind by Ben Affleck.

This is all exciting news, and as a Batman nerd, I immediately begin thinking about seeing and older Bruce Wayne kicking thugs around. After some rumblings that Keaton would only be playing old man Wayne, The Hollywood Reporter seemingly put that to rest by confirming that the plan is for him to indeed don a batsuit. The question remains, however, what will that suit look like? To celebrate this momentous Batman news, here’s five suits that I think would make sense for the return of Keaton’s Batman:

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Remembering Denny O’Neil: 10 Accomplishments of the Legend

by Drew Kiess

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In 1969, Dennis “Denny” O’Neil took over writing Detective Comics, who’s leading character was a fledgling relic from a comic book era that was on its last legs. That character, of course, was none other than Batman. Following the cancellation of the television series two years earlier, comics featuring Batman were not in high demand and the books were, as they were before the TV series, on the verge of going the way of the dodo. O’Neil, with artist Neal Adams, changed that. Detective Comics #395 was published in November of ’69 and the groundwork was laid for the birth of the Bronze Age of comics, an era in which O’Neil left a lasting mark on not just one, but both of the major publishing houses.

As both editor and writer, O’Neil has made an indelible mark on characters such as Professor Xavier, Daredevil, Green Arrow, and Superman, as well as the Caped Crusader. There would be no way to fully appreciate how O’Neil defined the Silver Age, but below you will find 10 highlights in no particular order that merely scratch the surface.

10. Hiring Frank Miller to write Daredevil

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O’Neil took over as editor for Marvel in 1980. One of the books he oversaw was another fledgling comic, Daredevil, which was being written by Roger McKenzie and drawn by Frank Miller. O’Neil fired McKenzie and made Miller the sole role of writer, after having worked with Miller during a brief stint on The Amazing Spider-Man. During Miller’s hiatus from Daredevil, where he wrote, among other projects, The Dark Knight Returns, O’Neil took over and created Lady Deathstrike.

9. Creation of the League of Assassins

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Wanting to add a more cerebral villain, perhaps in part to combat the colorfulness of the still fresh TV series, editor Julius Schwartz developed a concept for a villain and named him Ra’s al Ghul. From his rough concept, O’Neil expanded the world and created a DC Comics staple in The League of Assassins, which has played a multimedia role in the Batman legacy. From Grant Morrison to Christopher Nolan, this organization has become fodder from some of Batman’s greatest stories.

8. Snowbirds Don’t Fly

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With the neutering of the Comics Code Authority in 1971 following a Stan Lee story with a subtle anti-drug message, O’Neil and Adams decided to take it a step further. Snowbirds Don’t Fly featured Green Arrow’s sidekick Speedy struggling with a heroin addiction, which as even displayed on the cover. It was a major step forward in ending the heavy censorship of comic books.

7. No Evil Shall Escape My Sight!

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One year earlier in the same book, O’Neil had the hard travelling heroes take a road trip in which Green Arrow taught Green Lantern about racial unrest and disparity in American culture. The themes discussed in this book in 1970 seem disappointingly familiar today.

6. Azrael

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Denny O’Neil created Azrael in 1992 as part of the lead-up to Knightfall. O’Neil oversaw the Knightfall event as editor, which saw Azrael take over as Batman for the broken Bruce Wayne.

5. John Stewart Green Lantern

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In 1972, O’Neil created John Stewart, who became the third Green Lantern of Earth and DC’s first black superhero. Stewart would later go on to become most well known as Green Lantern through the Justice League animated series, and is still widely considered the fan favorite Green Lantern. O’Neil also fought back against Schwartz’s attempts to give him a more “black sounding” name.

4. Transformers

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In the early 80’s, O’Neil was brought in by Hasbro as part of a team to create a new line of transforming toys. His most notable contribution to this venture was the naming of Optimus Prime.

3. Teaching

O’Neil taught in the late 90s at the School of Visuals Arts. Gerard Way (yes, that Gerard Way), who would later run Young Animal DC, was among the many alumni of that era. O’Neil however was an all-time great mentor, ushering in talents such as Frank Miller, Dan Jurgens, and Chuck Dixon.

2. Superman vs Muhammed Ali

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Perhaps it’s simply a time capsule of a lost era, but this 1978 issue written by O’Neil is easily one of the most recognizable events in the Man of Steel’s history. For the record, Ali won, but threw Clark a bone anyways by telling him in the closing panel “WE are the greatest!”

1. Death in the Family

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As Batman editor, O’Neil came up for the concept behind Jim Starlin’s A Death in the Family. Inspired by an SNL segment featuring Eddie Murphy asking viewers to call in to determine the fate of a lobster, O’Neil allowed readers to call in to determine whether or not Jason Todd would survive an attack from the Joker. Todd was far from a fan favorite, but the vote came down to the wire. By a margin of only 72, it was determined that Todd would not survive, a decision which still has implications on Batman’s stories to this day.

Justice League Dark: Apokolips War Review

by Drew Kiess

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In 2013, DC animation took on a new style and tone when they released Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox. From there, they built a continuity with 15 more films starring several characters from the four corners of the DC Universe. It’s sequel, Justice League: War saw Darkseid launch an invasion of Earth, and established the tone and design of this new continuity as steeped in the New 52.

For the most part, with a few bumps and bruises along the way, this universe provided quality films and has been a major part of this writer’s anticipated films lists yearly. With the ending of Reign of the Supermen promising that the Justice League would take the war to Darkseid, fans of this series were eagerly anticipating the announcement of the next film.

What follows may be considered spoilers, but with the major twist of the movie occurring in the first five minutes, what else can I do?

Surprisingly, it wasn’t another Justice League sequel, but the sequel to 2017’s Justice League Dark that would take us to Apokolips. Turns out, for the story they wanted to tell, it was the right call. Justice League Dark: Apokolips War, directed by Matt Peters and Christina Sotta and written by Mairghread Scott and Ernie Altbacker, focuses on John Constantine, who is battling his demons regarding the failed mission to overtake Darkseid. War survivors Clark Kent and Raven seek him out to launch a desperate mission to free Earth from the oppression of Apokolips.

And that’s just the set up.

I truly cannot say much more about the film without fully going into spoilers, but what this creative team managed to accomplish with Apokolips War is something that should be experienced. The script manages to tie up loose threads from 15 films and brings finality to a universe in a way that a big budget universe feature never could. By the time the credits roll, there is no doubt of the finality of the events.

The bleakness may prevent this from being in regular rotation for me, but it is one of the best efforts from this universe. The film captures everything I love about “end of continuity” stories, because there’s no such thing as an unbreakable toy. The whole box is smashed without hesitation, and it is done in a way that reminds you that these films are love letters to comic books. But just like the comics, continuity wears thin and needs an update from time to time. It’s time for something new from these DC animated movies. I hope this isn’t the last time we see DC construct an animated movie continuity (Superman: Man of Tomorrow releases in August, but there’s no word on if it is a launchpad for a new continuity or if it is a standalone picture), but I will undoubtedly be looking forward to the next story.

 

Final Grade: A