SDCC 2016 ‘Batman The Killing Joke’: One. Bad. Day.

by Agent Alicia Glass (a.k.a. Pandora the Punctuation Horror)

So DC and Warner Bros. have finally brought what is arguably the most infamous Batman and Joker story of all time to the screen, in cartoon movie format, no less. And San Diego Comic-Con, being the smart cookies they are, brought a showing of the film to this year’s Con and what is likely the most difficult audience to please, the fan-atics, so let’s get into this!

The Madness of Spoilers lies ahead!

Now, I know back-story has to be established from the outset and that’s more or less fine, but they sure portrayed Batgirl as whiny, at least for the entire first act. Barbara Gordon (Tara Strong) is Batgirl and has been trailing Batman for approximately three years or so when our story begins. Sure, she kicks plenty of butt on her own, but she’s still in need of approval from the Caped Crusader, especially when she finds herself involved with mobster Paris Franz (Maury Sterling). Somehow, this mesmerizing moron manages to completely bump Batgirl off her game, sending her off on scavenger hunts alone and causing rifts between her and Batman (Kevin Conroy) when she realizes, duh, she can’t take on a simple one-man mouthpiece because he’s managed to get inside her head. Forgive me, but, that just didn’t sound like any Batgirl I knew.

And it just gets odder, because it turns out the tension between Batgirl and Batman had very little to do with an idiotic gangster, or their working-behind-masks relationship issues. No, it’s sexual tension, and after a good old-fashioned scream-fight on a rooftop, Batgirl and Batman get naked and bump bat-uglies. (No, the movie doesn’t show it, but you can clearly tell when Batgirl is perched atop Batman and takes her top off, what they’re doing.)

Inevitably, soon after that, Paris Franz gets dealt with and Barbara decides to go back to being boring librarian Barbara and hang up her cowl for good. That is the entirety of the first act and mildly more than half the movie itself, and a rather unfair go at Batgirl in general, in my opinion. True, the extended Bat family always has growing pains (just look at pretty much all the Robins), but somehow, I thought better of Batgirl than that. Barbara Gordon is supposed to be stronger and, let’s face it, more mature than this representation being offered to us. I suppose the idea is to give background to the relationship between her and Bruce, and while the girlfriend troubles being discussed with the cutie-pie gay librarian friend are fun and all, this whole thing is barely touched on when we get to the better half of the movie.

And here we are! It’s later and, once again, Joker (Mark Hamil) has gleefully skipped Arkham and Bats is on the hunt for him. Joker importantly goes to take over this old amusement park, to prepare it for the upcoming massive performance, but hey, first he needs performers! This means a surprise visit to the Gordon household and next thing you know, Babs has taken a bullet to the gut and the Commissioner has been dad-napped for some good old-fashioned torture!

Meanwhile, while all this is going on, we get treated to, let’s all just admit it, what we’re really here for, the Joker background story. In sepia tones, a young, struggling, never-named comedian tries valiantly to make money to get his very-pregnant wife out of a very bad neighborhood. He worked at a boring chemical plant before trying to make it as a comedian and that isn’t working out too well, either, so our unnamed man decides to try for one big score with some mobsters. They want his help breaking into the old chemical plant so they can get into the card business next door, but hey, there’s a catch: They also want him to wear the notorious Red Hood while he does it.

The movie kind of fails to let the audience know that Bats has been chasing the Red Hood and his crime gang for awhile now, so our unnamed man never really stood a damned chance anyway. But even before he can think about donning a scarlet helmet, news comes back that his poor pregnant wife has met a very tragic end, and with nothing to lose, Nameless decides to do the mob job any-damn-way! Rather like the very first Tim Burton Batman film, you can guess what happened next.

Meanwhile, in the present, Joker as we know him has stripped Gordon naked, dog-collared the poor man, and forced him on a nightmare carnival ride of madness involving naked photographs of his beloved daughter, bleeding and dying from a gut-shot wound. Trying very hard to prove his point, Joker far-too-cheerfully spouts his peculiar brand of madness and explains that anyone could become him, anyone at all, with the now-infamous line, “All it takes to become me is one. Bad. Day.”

This is meant to tie in with the whole Batman and Joker being the light and dark sides of each other, and really, who is to say which is which on that one bad day? Batman gave a heartfelt plea to not do this thing, whatever it is Joker’s planning next, that will likely lead to the death of one or both of them, when he went to see false Joker in Arkham Asylum. It didn’t work then and it doesn’t work now when we have the final showdown between the Dark Knight and the Clown Prince of Crime. Or is it? Batman gives a final, entirely heartfelt plea to let him help Joker, once and for all; it truly doesn’t have to end this way. And, for once in his insane little world, Joker answers him deadpan serious: It’s too late for that. It all comes down to this, the final Killing Joke, where Joker cracks a bad funny and after a heartbeat Batman actually lets out a guffaw right along with him.

And that, dear fans and friends and odds and ends, is the end. Except, of course, the inevitable easter egg after some credits, that is.

The style of animation is Spartan and very similar to the old ’90s Batman cartoon show, where Hamil first began voicing the Joker, and that is in no way a bad thing. Joker being the obvious exception, the show took extra care with his facial expression and drawings because, hey, he needs it for this story especially. Famed DC contributor Bruce Timm, who produced The Killing Joke, stated there would be a 15-minute prologue that would further set up the story, as the one-shot original graphic novel from 1988 simply wasn’t long enough for an entire animated movie; so perhaps therein lies the explanation for the whole Batgirl scenario. It’s actually a fairly good sendoff for a very well-known Batman story, and love it or hate it, every single Batman fan out there will want to see it at least once.

Batman The Killing Joke was released digitally on July 26, 2016, and will enjoy a DVD and Blu-ray release on August 2, 2016!

https://youtu.be/DDj4zGFf4F8

‘Batman Bad Blood’: Beware the Nunja

by Agent Alicia Glass (a.k.a. Pandora the Punctuation Horror)

So Batman, the real Batman (Jason O’Mara) has gone missing. Of course this new chick running around in what looks like Terry McGinnis’ Bat colors — we eventually learn she’s called Batwoman — is trying to both patrol the streets in his absence and look for Batman without arousing suspicion, too. Because well, it’s kind of her fault Batsy went missing in the first place – Katherine (Yvonne Strahovski) tried to take on Killer Moth, Firefly, Electrocutioner, Blockbuster, and some new masked dude who’s a badass, all on her lonesome. Batman had to wing in to save the day and disappeared in the ensuing explosion.

Now, what? Nightwing (Sean Maher) gets a distress call to the Batcave, Damien Wayne (Stuart Allen) ducked out of his temple hideout to come see what’s up, and, of course, Batwoman herself is out and about, looking for Batman and trying to pick up the slack. Dear butler Alfred (James Garrett) is covering for Bruce Wayne as best he can, but people are beginning to take notice, both of the missing millionaire and the lack of his super-secret alter ego. Lucius Fox (Ernie Hudson) and his son Luke (Gaius Charles) are having their suspicions, too. With no other real option, Dick Grayson very reluctantly dons the mantle of the Bat, and, of course, Damien has to take on Dick’s original Robin costume, to go out and prove that, hey man, everything’s fine, really.

This new villainous man that seemed so eerily familiar to Bruce Wayne apparently goes by the name Heretic and, of course, he’s near-impossible to track down, let alone beat to a standstill. Katherine meets with her father Colonel Jacob Kane to ask for some help finding Heretic, revealing her backstory about the time she was saved and redeemed by Batman, leading her to become Batwoman. Meanwhile Luke Fox, a soldier returned from Afghanistan no less, is trying to get his dad to open up about Wayne secrets, when there’s a raid on the Wayne enterprises vault! Heretic and his goons strike again! But why are they assaulting the Wayne vault in particular?

Spoilers winging at you!

Everyone knows who Talia al Ghul is, right? League of Assassins, daughter of Ra’s al Ghul and inheritor of that whole Lazarus Pit problem, mother of Damien Wayne and all-around problem psychopath, Talia al Ghul (Morena Baccarin) has never shied from thinking big and using every last bit of League resources to accomplish her goals. This time, they’re astronomical: build a rapidly-grown clone from Damien’s DNA, but the Jarvis Tetch version of the brain program left him with those pesky things like consciousness and free will. Because that never caused problems in similar situations, noooo. This inevitably leads to Heretic (Travis Willingham) wanting to kidnap Bruce Wayne and empty his head of all memories and experiences for his own, which makes an insane kind of sense, like a masochistic Pinnochio. Make me a real boy, Daddy, or I’ll take it from you.

All of what happens in the final confrontation isn’t exactly what you might expect, given the insanity that has a tendency to run in the al Ghul family. Hell, Bruce Wayne and all the rest of his chosen “Bat-family” aren’t the most stable, mentally speaking. And it looks like the family gets a new “brother,” when Luke decides the others need his help and has his fathers machine makers design a whole new bat suit for fighting, dubbing himself the highly original moniker “Batwing.” Despite Heretic’s avowed hatred and Talia’s everlasting ambition, neither can escape the ties of bad blood that bind them to each-other, reminding all of us why you should never do business with family.

There are lots of enjoyable nods to the ongoing history of the Bat family and Batman in the DC comics-verse in general. The nuns armed with katanas and AK-47s guarding the place where Talia has Bruce locked up – hence the “nunjas” as Nightwing points out – are hilarious, and right up the League’s alley for over-the-top-ness. Luke Fox becoming Batwing was interesting, we just knew it was inevitable that someone from the Fox line would eventually join the Bat family in an actual costume. And I still think it’s awesome that Talia would hire the Mad Hatter as a brain doctor for her rapidly-grown cloned super-soldier’s mind control!

Score your very own nunja fighting bats at Amazon!

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CosLosseum 2016: Enter the Cosplay Arena

by Agent Alicia Glass (a.k.a. Pandora the Punctuation Horror) 

Welcome to San Diego’s very first CosLosseum event, where we honor every last cosplayer, from the obscure obsessions of the anime folk to the well-known lightsaber and sonic screwdriver crowds, and everything in between!

So, the first official event of the day was “The Video Games,” put on by the good peoples of MB Stage. A parody of The Hunger Games, in which all the tributes are characters from some of your favorite video games, all battling it out live for the coveted title of Player One! The audience is said to alter the outcome of the battle, by live and Twitter voting, which changes the game storyline throughout the performance.

Tyrant Queen Zelda commanded the Games to begin and put Mario (yes that Mario) and Jigglypuff in charge, and it turns out a Renegade version of Commander Shepard is the video game designer. Then we got treated to the likes of Scorpion (Mortal Kombat), MasterChief (HALO), Princess Peach (Super Mario Bros.), Paragon Commander Shepard (Mass Effect), Donkey Kong, Pikachu (Pokemon), Link (Zelda), Lady Yuna (Final Fantasy), Samu Aran (Metroid), and even Lara Croft running around trying to kill each other!

This was a live action performance, full of props and audience participation and carefully scripted fight scenes that were truly a joy to watch. All the players tried, within their various character modes, to up the audience participation, and threw their hearts mightily into those roles. You can just tell, the performers at MB Stage Productions really do care about their stagecraft. Every character got at least a few minutes of personal stage time and some fight scenes, most of which were screamingly funny and completely character-appropriate.

The front entrance hall to the ballroom where the con was held was lined with vendors and there was a whole other section of ballroom for yet more vendors. One wall had celebrity tables, where you could walk right up and talk with the likes of Rashaad Santiago and Anthony Reyes, or Sandi Sellner, Moses Moseley and others. The merchant booths themselves were great little corners of all manner of fandom – Wired Redhead Jewelry sold fantasy wire pointy-eared jewelry; the Elder Gods and their alcohol on t-shirts made an appearance with Wyngd Lyon Creations; Leelo Jewelry had flasks and coasters and earrings, oh my; a mad scientist sold geek-favorite pocket watches at insane prices. There were all sorts of Steampunk accessories available at several booths, original art prints and kawaii things and even comic books, and all that barely scratches the surface. No matter how fandom-specific a booth and its merchandise might have been, I saw plenty of money changing hands and smiles all around. Because nothing says ultimate fandom like a flask emblazoned with, ‘THE DARK SIDE MADE ME DO IT”!

Also in the front hall was an entire table set up for emergency cosplay repairs, put on by the brilliant folks at International Cosplay Corps, as they now do at many cons. There were actual freaking sewing machines set up on that table, along with helpful mobile Sergeants who carried cosplay repair kits upon their persons like the best support troops to us wacky cosplayers ever. Far from running repairs with nothing but duct tape and a prayer, these ICC Sergeants and their troopers are a walking blessing at any con that has cosplayers.

The Research for Lupus Fundraiser event was quite small but heartfelt. Dan Posey, leader of this intrepid new con in his Punisher pride costume and chains, gamely took the mic and introduced Hollaine Hopkins of the Lupus Foundation, and former Power Ranger Sandi Sellner, also a Lupus sufferer. The ladies spoke of how Lupus is becoming far too common these days, newer treatment options becoming available with research, and the ever-present need for more research to find a cure. Audience members were encouraged to speak out of their own issues with Lupus, and then the auction, benefitting Lupus research, was held. And Dan Posey proudly announced that, despite it being a small con and on the first day, they had taken in, from ticket sales alone, just slightly over $1,000 to forward towards Lupus Research for a Cure. If you want to donate to research for a cure for Lupus, go here.

A bit more wandering, money-spending and picture-taking later, it’s time for the inevitable Cosplay Costume Contest! With only a dozen or so actual entrants and six categories of prizes to win, the contest was an interesting little do-si-do of coordination. Cosplay entries included characters from The Evil Within, League of Legends, The Strain tv show, Ragnarok Online 2, Final Fantasy, and the anime Black Butler. Winners were as follows –

Group Cosplay – Black Butler trio (Sebastian, Ciel Phantomhive, Undertaker)

Best Makeup – Jack Skellington (The Nightmare Before Christmas)

Best Craftsmanship – The Evil Within

Best Performance – Master Vampire (The Strain)

Best in Show – Ragnarok Online 2

Con Favorite – Tenjo (Final Fantasy)

And that was the end of my very first CosLosseum experience. Yes, the venue was small and without the crushing crowds of the likes of Comic-Con – given some of the costumes people were sporting, trying to do SDCC in them seems like a good way to inadvertently commit homicide. The atmosphere was open and loving and genuinely heartfelt, and I bet you my favorite TARDIS dress that not only will CosLosseum be back next year, it will be bigger, more together, and always full of that adorkable Cosplay insanity fandom!

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Second Trailer For ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’

by Agent Nur Hussein (a.k.a. The Robot Whisperer)

A new trailer for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was revealed on Jimmy Kimmel’s talk show late last night, and its tense superhero rivalry heats up as we see another glimpse of DC’s two biggest stars preparing to meet on the big screen for the first time, next year. This also feels like a case of a trailer that reveals too much, as a major new villain is spotted at the end. Stop reading and avoid the trailer if you don’t want to know more (good luck though, the internet is going to talk endlessly about it).

It’s not just the titular characters though; in this trailer we get the first shot of DC’s power trio standing together in a single frame. Superman (Henry Cavill), Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) and Batman (Ben Affleck) stand together with an explosive fire raging behind them (cool heroes don’t look at explosions). I have to admit, this is a pretty awesome shot, and you can say what you like about Zack Snyder’s storytelling skills, but the man sure has a knack for visual flair. The muted palettes that Snyder loves work for this shot, and while it feels like the wrong tone for a Superman movie, it does strike a right kind of balance for a Justice League movie.

The trailer hints at the initial enmity between Batman and Superman, played out as an awkwardly tense interaction between their civilian alter egos during as they are introduced to each other by a youthful, slightly deranged-looking Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg). We also see a snippet of Superman unmasking a trapped Batman, which was a scene also seen in the sneak preview clip released a few days ago.

Eisenberg is perhaps trying not to channel the cold, calculating businessman that we’ve been accustomed to seeing since the 90s (and played by Eisenberg, perhaps that interpretation would be too similar to his Mark Zuckerberg). Instead we see a glimpse of mad scientist Luthor, as the trailer implies that he will create the supervillain Doomsday, somehow, using the corspe of the General Zod from the previous film.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice opens on March 25, 2016 in the United States.

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Op-Ed: The Case for ‘Watchmen,’ Years Later

by Agent Alicia Glass (a.k.a. Pandora the Punctuation Horror) 

Welcome back to the end of the world! Our resident Horror Villain, Pandora, takes a candid look at the movie Watchmen, six years after its initial 2009 release. Re-watching Watchmen these days, when all sorts of uncomfortable topics are raging and factions are forming throughout the geek world, reminds us to band together to prevent our world from going to hell.

There are some cons to the movie, yes, but they mostly center around the hype that was supposed to have come out when the movie first dropped. The popularity of the comic book source material had reached legendary proportions in the geeky underground, but the response when the film broke wide wasn’t nearly as epic as geekdom thought it should have been. We are, after all, talking about Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons and, yes, Zack Snyder too, here. This makes all of geekdom look snobbish, and since geekery now rules about half the world, give or take, we are due for taking another look at the film for just what it is and not what it was “supposed to be.” And what Watchmen is, it turns out, once you get past the hype, is a pretty damned good movie.

We begin with the performances pulled from the actors. This is arguably one of Jackie Earl Hayley’s finest performances ever, as tortured hero Rorschach, that gravel voice could cut glass, and Rorschach cut straight into our hearts. Billy Crudup delivers a performance that virtually guarantees at least a sniffle or two, nevermind the whole “omg they showed his blue junk!” controversy, as the azure and awesome Dr. Manhattan. Matthew Goode as Ozymandius is a right Lex Luthor kind of terror, and actually manages to pull it off quite well. Patrick Wilson is quite possibly the hero for nerd-dom, being a huge nerd himself and yet at some point he dons the Nite Owl II costume and oh boy does he kick so much ass and be totally freaking badass! What nerd, man or woman, out there wouldn’t want to be that? Indeed, every single last performance, from lead actors to the random extra, is given care and thought rarely shown this side of Kubrick. Snyder really went to bat for this movie, legend has it because he loved the comic book source material that much, and it shows in every single frame.

The case for “being as true as possible to the source material” can be made both For, and Against, for Watchmen, based entirely on how “high-brow geek” you want to be. If you think the original legendary comic book was great, and the film is marvelous for sticking to that extra-meaning-filled collection of storylines, as much as director Snyder possibly could, is excellent – then, potentially, you are a geek snob, a relatively new creation of geekdom that no true nerd would ever want to be labelled. If you think some deviation from the source material is allowable, for any reason, mind you, you are potentially a sellout to your own fandom.

The soundtrack does have to be mentioned, too. Jimi Hendrix, Philip Glass, Janis Joplin, Billie Holiday, and yet other greats as well, give stellar tunes that provide a gorgeous background to epic heroics and nasty deeds alike. Many of the songs are familiar from other artists, but done in a completely different manner, or sung by a different gender perhaps, and it is a treat throughout the movie to be able to go, “Hey, I know that song!” while Nite Owl II and Silk Spectre II mow down the bad guys!

The storyline may be a tad convoluted, yes, and occasionally hard to follow, but this can also speak well for the movie, from the right perspective. A lot of what they’re saying is aimed at the more intelligent of geekdom, and not all of us are astrophysicists. That’s why the scenes interspersed with Rorschach’s gravelly voice and violent ways, like Batman flitting among the shadows while working with the Justice League, works like a champ stringing together a little something for everyone who is any kind of nerd throughout the film. We get the world-taking-over-villain epic speeches with Adrian, the grimy crime streets with Rorschach, the movement of time with Daniel and Laurie, even the horrors of war and the great unknown with blue god-boy Manhattan over there. Director Snyder managed to impart a timeless made-for-geekdom quality to the film, something that makes it appreciable years later, and I think, for many years to come.

The Geekvolution is Coming!

by Special Agent Laura Davis (a.k.a. Hex Quillion)

The Super Villain Network is proud to welcome the Geekvolution Radio Hour, with producer Jaymes Logan and co-host Vince Haskins, to our radio cabal! Together, Logan and Haskins investigate, analyze, and discuss geek pop culture in a way that’s as intelligent as it is entertaining. Though the show’s primary focus is on comic books and graphic novels, superhero film and TV, science fiction, and most especially Star Trek, they cover an impressive range of topics and genres, from horror to video games to fantasy. “We did one show about nothing but blood,” said Logan. “How blood is used in film, when to show it: What is the point of gore in film?”

Logan and Haskins met in a college playwriting class, and started producing content for the Geekvolution YouTube channel within the year. The Geekvolution channel includes a variety of audio and video content, like the Geeks not Nerds podcast (which features Logan and Haskins debating over a variety of geek topics); The Comic Vault (comic book reviews); and Superhero Rewind, in which Logan makes in-depth studies of superhero movies that are at least two years old. Logan describes Superhero Rewind as, “a fan perspective but objective, level-headed, and something that digs a little deeper than your average YouTube review … It’s academic, focused on characterization and story, but conversational and fun.” The Geekvolution Radio Hour has its roots in Superhero Rewind, though it offers more variety in each episode, and, of course, the interplay between the hosts.

The geek-bonding between Logan and Haskins is definitely part of the magic behind Geekvolution. Logan explains, “We’ve got this brotherly camaraderie, though we’re very different people … We’ve been arguing about the Watchmen movie for six years now … Sometimes, we bring it up just because we know the audience loves to hear us arguing about it.”

But it’s not just a bunch of random rants on Geekvolution. Oh, no. When you take a pair of hard-core geeks with English degrees, and turn them loose on geekdom, what you get is a more literary kind of analysis, focused on fiction as a craft. Then again, they are geeks, so it’s a rapid-fire discussion filled with cross-references and the humor of our people, yet they avoid getting pedantic about their various fandoms. Logan mused, “I think people come to us because we’re a little more open-minded; we really try to stay away from the fan-boy mentality.”

Haskins is particularly into movies and horror. Logan is a huge Trekkie, and a sci-fi fan in general. Both Logan and Haskins are comic book geeks, though it’s likely that Logan wins the uber-geek award on that score: He’s in process of remodeling his office into a comic book room with custom shelving for long-boxes, and floor-to-ceiling bookcases on an entire wall to hold his collection of graphics novels and trades. Since the room will double as the new set for The Comic Vault, Logan also designed it with display space for figures and memorabilia. Whatever they’re talking about on their programs, they approach the topic with zeal, intelligence, and wit. Logan adds, “Vince is really funny. He’s a comedian, and he’s really good off the cuff.”

We’re proud and excited to have this dynamic team joining us, and we can’t wait for you, our audience, to be part of the Geekvolution! It sounds like they’re a little enthused about the move, too. Logan concluded, “I think SVN is a good fit for Geekvolution because the super villain theme fits our comic book/superhero interests and our quirky sensibilities. The folks at the station are easy to work with, they get our content, and allow us to be ourselves. I’m also excited to be on the ground floor of something with a ton of real potential. SVN is doing a lot to help us expand and reinforce our brand, and we hope to do the same for SVN.”

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Official ‘Batman v. Superman’ Trailer out

by Agent Nur Hussein (a.k.a. The Robot Whisperer)

After a blurry, pirated copy of the Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer leaked onto the internet yesterday, Warner has released an official version and we can now watch it as it was meant to be seen. The trailer has already picked up a ton of negative reactions from the internet, especially in the wake of a new Star Wars trailer that had fandom giddy with anticipatory joy. There was no way DC could possibly compete with Harrison Ford and his Wookiee buddy, so it was unfortunate timing combined with the leak that’s worked against this trailer so far.

However, I don’t judge a book by its cover, nor a film by its trailer, so I’m not going to be hating on the film (at least until I see it). I am not a fan of Zack Snyder’s take on Superman though, and Man of Steel was one of the worst superhero movies I’ve seen in recent years. Snyder’s style is all flash and no substance, and spectacle for its own sake leaves you tired and empty. On top of that, Superman’s apparent callous disregard for the death and destruction caused by his super-powered urban brawl is completely at odds with his character. I found Man of Steel a tonally rebarbative film, and while I am willing to give Snyder another chance, I do not expect the sequel to be any better.

To his credit, Snyder does seem to have picked up on at least some of the criticisms leveled at his characterization of Superman, as the trailer for the new movie implies the world is distrustful of this overpowered alien menace. The trailer opens with voiceovers from various people expressing their concerns over Superman, while the camera pans slowly to reveal a vandalized statue of the Man of Steel in Chicago (or perhaps that’s supposed to be Metropolis, it just looks suspiciously like Chicago). We see shots of Superman, and a bunch of helmeted individuals kneeling before him. Then we get our first look at Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne, and in another shot, his empty batsuit. After some action clips of a plane firing onto the ground (and a glimpse of the new Batmobile racing away), we are treated to some shots of Batman, until at last we get a scene with him facing Superman in a robot-like suit.

Since this is a teaser trailer, we don’t get a sense of what the story might be. We do, however, see that the tone of the film continues the dark and angsty trend set by Man of Steel. We know this is a film to set up the Justice League, but we don’t see any of the other heroes yet. While there’s nothing wrong with a dark and brooding superhero film, it remains to be seen if that’s the right way to go for a Justice League movie. It works wonders for Batman, but that’s the nature of the character. If the internet is to be believed, superhero films that are dark for the sake of being dark are causing serious audience fatigue.

Will I be watching this film? Quite possibly, if only to see what Ben Affleck is like as Batman (for the record, I don’t hate the idea, but I am probably in the minority). Am I excited about the movie? Nope. DC has made wonderful TV shows and cartoons based on their properties, but the films still seem to be a case of hit and miss.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice hits theaters March 25, 2016.

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Wondercon 2015: ‘Batman vs. Robin’ Flies in the Court of Owls

by Agent Alicia Glass (a.k.a. Pandora the Punctuation Horror)

Warning! All kinds of spoilerific horror abounds within!

So, Batman vs. Robin takes up only a few months after where Son of Batman left off, with the devastating news that Damien is the son of Talia al Ghul and Bruce Wayne. This means that mad immortal bastard, Ra’s al Ghul, is Damien’s grandfather and his whole family tree is screwed beyond belief! When we catch up to Bats and the newly-mantled, next-generation Robin, Damien is of course already chafing under the restrictive yoke both Batman and Bruce Wayne are attempting to place upon him. Already trained under his admittedly sociopathic grandfather, Damien also resents the fact that Batman refuses to kill the criminals they catch, leading to yet more confrontations.

Even bringing in the original Robin, Dick Grayson, now a young man proudly busting criminals as Nightwing, doesn’t help, and sadly notches Damien’s resentment even further. When the mysterious representative of the secret underbelly society of Gotham known as the Court of Owls comes to offer Damien the vigilante freedom that is supposedly his birthright, what will the resentful son of the Dark Knight do now?

We were fortunate to be treated to a screening of Batman vs. Robin in the Arena section of the Anaheim convention center, and boy, was it worth the crowded seating. The fight scenes of the film, and there were many, were given incredible detail and could be easily thought of as real-life instead of cartoons. The struggle of Bruce Wayne trying to discipline a young man who is very much like him is approached with grace, even when it finally comes down to fisticuffs between Wayne and Wayne Jr., Damien’s own grapplings with the ideas of fate and blood-inheritance versus what he himself truly wants is something that, at its core, we can all appreciate.

After the movie was over and the cheering died down, creators James Tucker, Jay Oliva, J.M. Dematheis, Phil Bourassa and Andrea Romano came out to talk to the audience, along with cast members Sean Maher (Dick Grayson/Nightwing), Stuart Allen (Damien Wayne/Robin), and Jason O’Mara (Bruce Wayne/Batman).

The creators waxed poetic about their finally being able to introduce the beloved Court of Owls storyline into the Batman film universe. The film is based heavily on the Night of the Owls comic book storyline by Scott Snyder. Oliva mentioned that he specifically chose panels from the comics that Greg Capullo had illustrated, using a mythology that had already spanned several different comic books in the Batman world.

Bourassa happily agreed, “It was quite fun to delve into new characters that already had a long backstory that had, so far, not made it to the screen.” Bourassa went on to tell a brief story about how the Dollmaker, one of the villains of Batman vs. Robin, was based on a make-everything-and-the-kitchen-sink-into-a-weapon character he had dreamed up when he was in the fourth grade.

The returning voice cast of BvR expressed their gratitude to be part of the Batman-verse again. This was Jason O’Mara’s fourth time as the voice of Bruce Wayne and Batman, yet he still manages to remain charmingly humble, saying when he was asked by a fan if he thinks Batman is his character now, “Batman is shared by many great actors.” O’Mara went on to say that for this latest Batman film, he felt he spent more time as Bruce Wayne instead of Batman, and getting to know the man under the mask was vital for this particular film.

As an Easter egg for fans who notice that sort of thing, it was pointed out that Kevin Conroy, who had previously voiced Batman in no less than 11 series and features, was the voice of Thomas Wayne for Batman vs. Robin flashbacks. O’Mara related a story of nervously meeting Conroy for the first time, where Conroy jokingly choked the other actor for taking his place as Batman’s voice! O’Mara said he wouldn’t dare attempt to do his version of Batman’s voice in Conroy’s presence, since Conroy’s Batman and O’Mara’s Batman are two entirely different takes on the same beloved character.

Young Stuart Allen, voice of Damien Wayne and next-gen Robin, seemed at ease and enjoying his newfound fame in the Batman-verse. He spoke of schoolkids teasing him with, “How you doin’, Son of Batman?” only in terms of geeky admiration, and grinned about it.

Sean Maher, the voice of Nightwing, formerly the first-generation Robin under Batman’s tutelage, talked about the messed up father-son relationships between most of the characters sprinkled throughout Batman vs. Robin, and how most societies can appreciate such a thing. From Alfred taking the mantle of father figure to young Bruce Wayne, to struck-dumb adult Bruce Wayne trying to love his wayward son into obedience, in the end, as Oliva closed, “Everyone just needs a hug!”

Batman vs. Robin is out on Digital HD April 7, 2015, and DVD/Bluray April 14, 2015!

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