Posts Tagged ‘DC Comics’

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Chris Pine as Steve Trevor and Gal Gadot as Diana Prince in Wonder Woman

Swamp Thing. Supergirl. Steel. Catwoman. Jonah Hex. Green Lantern. Suicide Squad.

DC Comics has an absolutely dreadful track record of films not involving Batman or Superman. With Wonder Woman, they hope to start putting them all in the past. Not coincidentally, Wonder Woman also gives us a hero who is good without reservation. There’s no brooding Superman, no homicidal Batman, and no deconstructing of characters that pop culture fans have known and loved for decades. That’s why this works. It brings us hope amidst suffering, and that’s what elevates this film far above their other recent attempts at entertainment.

The Story

Hooray for stories that actually make sense! Wonder Woman leaves behind the sloppy writing of the previous DCEU films, stops being complex and gives us a straight-forward story of good vs. evil. The simplicity is what makes it shine. Good guy beats up bad guy to stop him from destroying the world.

In fact, one of Ares’ tricks is an attempt to cloud the black and white into grey. Diana’s allies, he claims, are just more men who will do more harm to others. Perhaps they are not the Germans of World War I, but they still have faults, they still kill and cheat and scam. But Wonder Woman sees, in time, that humans still have the capacity for good and heroism, and even if they didn’t, it wouldn’t stop her from trying to save lives, because that’s her mission and her purpose. Life is worth saving, and there’s nothing black and white about that.

Patty Jenkins and company also do a great job of resisting the temptation to depict men as clueless buffoons. This isn’t a female v. male movie. There’s heroism from men and women (though obviously a woman leads that category), and villainy from both as well.

The Characters

There’s not much in the way of stand-out roles here; there’s nothing like Ledger’s Joker or Downey’s Iron Man. Godot plays Diana very well, with just the right amount of innocence and intensity, but Wonder Woman just doesn’t have a ton of depth, and that’s fine. The most complex characters have small roles (Sameer, Charlie, and Chief) and they lend the story some intricacy that the main characters lack.

To be clear, there’s no lack of quality either. Chris Pine, Robin Wright, Connie Nielsen, David Thewlis, and Danny Huston are all very solid in their roles. We just don’t get characters that have much of a history. And this is something that the Wonder Woman mythos just has to deal with. Her gallery of rogues just doesn’t have the depth of other heroes.

The Bells and Whistles

Since this film is essentially a mash-up of Greek mythology and WWI, its closer to Captain America: The First Avenger than it is to Guardians of the Galaxy in terms of make-up, costumes, and special effects. The period costumes are impeccable, and combat in the European theater of war comes to life in a much more realistic way than WWII does in the first Captain America film, where we see more skirmishes, but less of the reality of war.

The Lasso of Truth translates wonderfully to the big screen as both a weapon and a polygraph administrator, and Ares gets his classic look for the big final battle, which is where the special effects really get to shine. It’s fun to see a battle of demi-gods depicted in a reasonable way, especially after boss battles in Suicide Squad and Batman v. Superman were so pitiful.

As for the score, its fine as a whole, but really shines in scenes of battle, especially when Wonder Woman takes center stage.

The Final Verdict

Wonder Woman is a lot of fun. It provides a great female role model who holds high ideals. The only twinge I have when think about this movie is how off Diana’s motivations are in Batman v Superman (again, thank Zach Snyder for his constant need to deconstruct the heroic) when you see where she comes from in this film. But that’s a knock on Batman v Superman, not Wonder Woman.

And while it is a good film, it leans a bit more toward standard (albeit well-made) blockbuster territory than say, something like Logan or The Dark Knight. Even so, it’s a step in the right direction for DC and a film that is a breath of fresh air for those who have been waiting for the return of heroes who act because it is the right thing to do, not because they feel compelled or conflicted. That’s the kind of hero this world needs right now, when its so divided. And that’s the kind of hero Wonder Woman gives us.

Rating: 7/10 stars.

 

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Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman.

Finally. DC Comics has made their first critically acclaimed film not starring Batman since 1978. Yes, its been that long.

Comic book nerd that I am, of course Wonder Woman is going to be my Film to Catch of the week. I’ll review WW next week, but here’s a quick run-through of the rest of this weekend’s releases.

The other wide-release film, Captain Underpants, is surprisingly not awful. If you liked the books, you’ll probably like this, and you can bring the kids to it and not leave the theater feeling like you’ve wasted your life. But you can do better.

In limited release, I, Daniel Blake is the film to see. It’s powerfully acted and a great underdog story. Past Life is a solid indy product that focuses on two Israel girls searching for secrets from their father’s past in WWII Poland. Churchill isn’t anything special, but Brian Cox in the title role gives a grand performance. Finally, Dean is a middle-of-the-road dramedy about life and loss. A standard tale, but well acted.

  • Must See: Wonder Woman
  • Worth Your Time: I, Daniel Blake
  • Take It or Leave It: Captain Underpants: the First Epic MovieChurchillPast LifeDean
  • Stay Away: None

 

 Where do They Come From?

Only wide release films count towards these numbers.

  • Wonder Woman: Adaptation of the DC Comics comic book series.
  • Captain Underpants: Adaptation of the book series by Dav Pilkey

 

Original: 19

Adaptation: 19

Sequel/Prequel: 13

Remake: 4

Oscarwatch

These ten films are the “Best of the Year,” IF THE YEAR ENDED TODAY.

This weekend’s releases not included.

They are ranked based on likelihood of winning Best Picture at the Oscars, with #1 being most likely. International films are not included until the end of year if Oscar potential exists.

DISCLAIMER: I may not personally recommend (or even like) all films on this list.

1) Get Out ( – )
2) Logan ( – )
3) Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 ( – )
4) John Wick: Chapter 2 ( – )
5) Their Finest ( +2 )
6) Norman ( -1 )
7) The LEGO Batman Movie ( -1 )
8) A United Kingdom (+1)
9) Beauty and the Beast ( -1 )
10) The Lost City of Z ( – )

 

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“I’m not gonna kill you…I’m just gonna hurt you…really, really bad.” – The Joker

That line really encapsulates Suicide Squad. After the Batman v Superman mess, DC/WB delivers us this film, which spares the DC Expanded Universe the bullet to the head, only to riddle it with the pain of knowing that folks in high places don’t know what they are doing.

First of all, Suicide Squad is miles better than Batman v Superman. Not even close. Suicide Squad actually gives us characters we care about, some awesome big screen debuts of iconic comic book characters and clear character motivations (mostly). The acting is also generally solid (like BvS). But that all gets bogged down in issues that come from the top down, namely the directing, editing, and writing. But good before bad, right? SPOILERS AHEAD.

The Good Stuff. 

  • Acting. Will Smith’s Deadshot was the best part of this film. We get some great scenes, including an amazing background flashback and some awesome action sequences. The script really undercuts his performance at times, but that’s not Smith’s fault. Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn is gold at times, and the voice she uses actually works, minus the couple times her British accent gets in the way. Everyone else does their job well, although the jury is still out for me regarding Jared Leto’s performance as Joker. Sometimes it was brilliant, and sometimes not.
  • Easter Eggs. As we all knew, Batman’s around for a little bit of the film, and another hero drops by as well. That hero’s interaction with a particular Suicide Squader is direct from the comics in its feel, look, and atmosphere. Also, seeing Joker dancing with Harley in her red and black harlequin outfit was magical. One of those “This is straight from the comics and I can’t believe how it is on screen!” moments.
  • Effects. Ok, no. Not the SFX used in actual action. Those were cheesy as all get out. The opening montage of sorts kicked off the film just how you want it to, with attention grabbing backstories and flashy letterings. We get to see where some of the Squad came from, and their run-ins with their superhero counterparts. Harley’s origin wasn’t her classic one, which was lame, but that didn’t take away from the film.
  • We Actually Care! In BvS we didn’t care about anyone on screen. Superman is mopey and broody and he dies…for no reason…because Wonder Woman could have been the one to kill Doomsday. Lois is a jerk, Batman wants to kill people, and well…you get the idea. In SS, the story and characters give us enough to care about. Yes, these are bad guys, but we actually can sympathize with their struggles, we care about Deadshot primarily, but also El Diablo, Harley, and even a bit for Flagg and Killer Croc. Its not just a bunch of villains running around that we have no emotional attachment to.

The Bad Stuff. 

  • The Script. I get that Ayer only had six months to write this (for some inexplicable reason), but boy is this screenplay a stinker. You can tell that they tried to shoehorn some comedy in, because almost every one-liner sticks out like a sore thumb. This is unfortunate, especially when Harley Quinn’s character should have made this easy. Robbie’s comedic timing actually seems pretty good, but there are some spots where a poor script and choppy editing render that skill useless. There are several groan-worthy lines that feel like they were written by a 5th-grader, and they are bad enough to take you right out of the film.
  • The Editing. Very jumpy. It chops up the story rather than progresses it.
  • The Pacing. There are several scenes that could have been used for emotional gutpunches and or profound moments, but these scenes were really rushed through way too fast. There was very little time to process things before the next scene was already there.

The other problem, the main problem, is the plot. Though generic, it made sense as it stood. But once again, motivations and decisions made by characters within that plot too often make little to no sense. This causes a real lack of depth that really twists things into nonsense way too much, because there’s nothing beyond the surface activity. This is a carryover from BvS (although it was much more handicapping in that film. Nobody even knows why Lex Luthor was motivated to do anything in that film). So here are some questions this lack of depth caused.

#1) Why send the SS into an American city under a blatant super-human attack?

The main concept behind Task Force X is using super-villains instead of soldiers so that other countries will believe the U.S. government when they say “we had nothing to do with this action that would be usually interpreted as an act of war.” Basically, they are black ops mission runners who are expendable. So why send the SS into an American city under a blatant super-human attack, when none of the Suicide Squad members actually have powers that would be better than ordinary soldiers? Deadshot, Katana, Captain Boomerang, yeah, they are good with their weapons, but are they really any better than just sending in more soldiers. The only one that actually has superpowers is the only one that refuses to use them. I know Waller wants to hide her connection to the Enchantress, but she already sends in ground troops with the SS! Its no secret that there’s tons of debris floating above one of the biggest cities in the U.S. No reason to choose volatile criminals in this case.

#2) Why didn’t Waller destroy the Enchantress’ heart?

She specifically finds and keeps the heart to control the Enchantress. The understanding is that if the Enchantress steps out of line, the heart gets destroyed. So why does Waller just stab the heart instead of destroying it.

#3) Why did Waller kill all her “co-workers.”

The obvious reason is that it would make her look more like cold, cruel, BA woman. The reason Waller gives is that they have seen too much. But Waller brought those very same people in. The room is militarily labeled in the building. This all goes back to the fact that if all Waller wanted was an extraction, why send in Task Force X? And there are plenty of folks that work for top secret military functions. They all don’t get shot.

#4) Why didn’t Enchantress notice that the only weapon that could cut her heart out was sitting right in Harley Quinn’s reach?

#5) Why does the Joker get jealous of the guy he “gives” Harley to when he’s the one who “gave” Harley too in the first place?

Yeah, I dunno the answer to either of those either. Basically, this films could have been great, but suffers from way too much dumb decision making. The actors did their best with what they could, but it wasn’t enough to make a flawed film great.

Verdict: 2 out of 5 stars.

(The remainder of this post is the usual weekly TWIC features.)

Where do They Come From?

Only wide release films count towards these numbers.

  • Suicide Squad: Adaptation of the DC Comics comic book series.
  • Nine Lives: Original film written by Dan Antoniazzi and Ben Shiffrin.

Original: 34

Adaptation: 22

Sequel/Prequel: 23

Remake: 1

Oscarwatch

These ten films are the “Best of the Year,” IF THE YEAR ENDED TODAY.

This weekend’s releases not included.

They are ranked based on likelihood of winning Best Picture at the Oscars, with #1 being most likely. International films are not included until the end of year if Oscar potential exists.

DISCLAIMER: I may not personally recommend (or even like) all films on this list.

1) Zootopia ( +2 )
2) Sing Street ( – )
3) Love and Friendship ( –2 )
4) Hunt for the Wilderpeople ( – )
5) Captain America: Civil War ( – )
6) Finding Dory ( – )
7) The Jungle Book ( – )
8) Indignation (NEW)
9) Eye in the Sky ( -1 )
10) Don’t Think Twice ( -1 )

 

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Usually when a major comic book character gets replaced, its a difficult challenge for a writer to come up with something that doesn’t seem like a ploy to sell more comics. Superheavy isn’t in the “usual” category.

In the previous collection of Batman, the Joker’s endgame leads to Bruce Wayne vacating his role as the Caped Crusader. His successor is none other than Jim Gordon. The twist here is that Gordon is actually working for the city, officially, rather than partaking in the usual shadowy comings and goings Gotham is used to dealing with.

Gordon’s Batman is a mechanical behemoth operating much like a Starkian suit of armor rather than just a man in a cape and cowl, and this Batman actually has a boss.

In this volume, we see a Gotham where Batman is an employee, with supervisors and responsibilities to folks ranking higher than he. This makes for a very interesting dynamic, because Jim Gordon is still classic Jim Gordon, a good detective with a nose for catching the bad guys. So when his Batman is removed from a case, how will he respond when he’s not in agreement with his supervisor?

I try to keep things mostly spoiler free, so you’ll have to find out that answer for yourself. But regarding the actual composition of the books, you’ll find that this is not just your standard “replacement superhero” story. Scott Snyder continues his great work on the Batman title and delivers a creepy new villain (Mr. Bloom), along with a solid plot. It deals with some heavy issues, and lays the groundwork for a good conclusion and for Bruce Wayne’s return.

Final Grade: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars.

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For the first time since being replaced in the Justice League by Cyborg (a decision obviously based more in politics rather than artistic choice), J’onn J’onzz, the Martian Manhunter, finally gets his due in a brand new DC title that actually bears his name. Sure, he had appeared as a member of Stormwatch and the JLA, but he finally takes center stage here. And while his origin story gets tweaked a bit, the issues presented in Volume 1 – “Epiphany” deliver a story that gets a lot right, especially the loyal, caring nature of the “last” Martian. And the artwork is amazing too!

Early on in this graphic novel collection, J’onn makes a startling discovery while assisting NASA on the moon. As memories of his past come flooding back, J’onn heads back to Earth to try to head off an alien invasion that would leave Earth lifeless. As the Earth descends into chaos, J’onn splits his personality into different forms across the globe in an attempt to keep the invaders’ greatest weapon from being unleashed. This all might sound a bit similar to Man of Steel, but that’s only thanks to the spoiler-free nature of this review. It gets a lot weirder!

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Mr. Biscuits arrives on the scene.

As the different aspects of J’onn’s personalities try to halt Earth’s invasion, we meet Mr. Biscuits, a spindly fellow with an ever present sweet tooth. He’s basically J’onn’s subconsciousness, is about 8 feet tall, and somehow enjoys Paul Blart films. Oh, and his cane naturally doubles as nunchakus. Through Mr. Biscuits we see the compassion of the Martian Manhunter, and a willingness to sacrifice at all costs. This is what has always made J’onn Jonzz a compelling character. He’s more powerful than Superman, but is more often seen as the soul, rather than the muscle, of the Justice League, and writer Rob Williams has brought this soul back where it belongs.

We also get a rare real cliffhanger at the end of this book. So often while reading comics, there’s no sense of peril, because the good guys always win in some sort of way that is at least semi-foreseeable. That’s not the case here!

If you’re a fan of Martian Manhunter, read this book. If you don’t know anything about him, this is a great jumping on point. You’ll really get the essence of the character and what makes him one of DC’s greatest, albeit under-appreciated, characters.

4 out of 5 stars.

 

I’m always careful to separate “favorite” from “best” when evaluating films. I really enjoyed The Lone Ranger this year, but that doesn’t mean it was one of the best made movies of the year. You’ve already seen what I believe are the top 10 movies from a simply artistic point of view, as they are the films I listed in predicting Best Picture nominations. Side note: I don’t necessarily recommend all those films, as Wolf of Wall StreetAmerican Hustle, and Dallas Buyers Club have some really unneeded and unnecessary scenes. On this final 2013 edition of This Year in Cinema, you’ll find my favorite films of 2013 (regardless of their shortcomings), and my ten most anticipated films for 2014. 

Looking Back…My 10 Favorite Films of 2013

10) Much Ado About Nothing

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Joss Whedon’s take on Shakespeare’s play was hilarious and heartfelt. Who would have thought Nathan Fillion would be such a great comic relief? Or that Joss Whedon’s estate could be the setting for such a great film? The original Shakespearean dialog is used throughout, which is hilarious when matched with the modern setting. A fun film that is a romp for anyone, whether you’re a fan of the Bard or not.

9) Man of Steel

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I’ve seen this a lot higher on other lists. Don’t get me wrong, this was a great film, but some people are willing to crown it a masterpiece. Not quite, but Cavill as Superman gives the WB/DC Universe a solid leg to stand on. Let’s hope they don’t mess everything up (again).

8) The Way Way Back

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A bunch of under the radar films are on this list, but they are generally available at Redbox so get ’em while you can. It seems like every summer there is a “coming of age” story that is praised left and right. The Way Way Back is one of those, and rightly so. Sam Rockwell rules the roost as he plays a lazy but compassionate manager of a water park smack dab in the middle of beach country. He meets Duncan, played by Liam James, and gives him a new confidence he never knew. Steve Carrell turns in one of his best serious roles to date as well.

7) What Maisie Knew

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A modern retelling of the Henry James story, this one is full of heartbreak, and yet it churns out a happy ending that doesn’t fall into cliche. The viewer sees everything as Maisie sees it, caught in a war between mother and father, neither of whom really want her as more than a bargaining piece. The saddest part is that this stuff happens in real life.

6) Iron Man 3

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Unlike some people, I can take the “Mandarin Twist” for what it is, a genius bait and switch that played a huge prank on everyone. Yeah, I’d like to see the “real” Mandarin later, but there was still plenty here to like. Robert Downey was great again, and be brought the new wrinkles of paranoia along with him. Plus he studies more crime scenes in one film than Batman did in an entire trilogy.

5) Blue Jasmine

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Woody Allen’s latest is a look into a train wreck of a life. Cate Blanchett should bring in a Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of Jasmine, and a Best Original Screenplay nomination for Allen is likely as well. This Jasmine is an anti-princess, a woman whose supposedly great life is now completely off the rails. Some quick twists along the way that bring the unexpected to light provide a movie experience that isn’t that far off what some of us experience every day.

4) Thor: The Dark World

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Ah, yes, the comic book nerd in me surfaces! Hemsworth and Hiddleston are back for more adventures as Thor and Loki. Thor used to be my least favorite Avenger, but with Marvel Studios taking him to alien world after alien world, his films are among my favorite. The “fighting with portals” finale between Thor and Malekith was fan-flipping-tastic.

3) Captain Phillips

Tom Hanks in 'Captain Phillips'

Tom Hanks in ‘Captain Phillips’

How do I tend to forget how great an actor Tom Hanks is? Regardless of what the actual true story is behind these events (the real life captain and his crew differ in their accounts), the story told here is a modern day tale of piracy that leaves you on the edge of your seat. A great ensemble cast is what makes this film really great, and Barkhad Abdi came out of nowhere to deliver in a remarkable supporting role.

2) The World’s End

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Watched this again this week and loved it again. Love the cast again here, everyone is in sync, everyone has their moment to shine, and the result is the funniest film of 2013. To think I was originally excited to see it only because Edgar Wright had been announced as the director of Ant-Man.

1) Gravity

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I had the pleasure of seeing this in IMAX 3D at the Screen Actors Guild in L.A. After the screening, director Alfonso Cuaron and his son Jonas (the screenwriters of the film) were on hand for Q & A. Hearing them talk about the details and planning that went into this film just made me appreciate it that much more as a work of art. If you missed out on seeing this in theaters…too bad for you. This is a must see.

Looking Forward…My 10 Most Anticipated Films of 2013

This list is a bit more simple. Its also a bit heavy on the “summer blockbuster” side of things, which usually changes a bit when more under the radar films come to light.

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  1. Guardians of the Galaxy
  2. Captain America: Winter Soldier
  3. Godzilla
  4. The Grand Budapest Hotel
  5. Transcendence
  6. The LEGO Movie
  7. Interstellar
  8. The Monuments Men
  9. Unbroken
  10. Muppets Most Wanted

News is rolling out this week that the “special edition” of the DC fighting game Injustice: Gods Among Us will be out later this year, which is a sure sign that there will be no more DLC, which is unfortunate. Its a great game made even better by the added content. However, whenever I play it, I wonder one thing. Why Scorpion? In a DC Comics fighting game, why waste a DLC character on someone who isn’t from the DC Universe? As best I can tell, it was just the developers trying to get one of their Mortal Kombat characters into another game. But there were plenty of fantastic DC characters that would have been amazing to play as. Here are 10 of them, in alphabetical order, accompanied by a potential super move (you’ll know what this is if you’ve played the game).

1) Darkseid

Darkseid does appear in the game, but only as a non-playable character in one of the stage transitions. He is an unlockable character in Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, but it would have been great to see him in Injustice. With power and strength that parallels or exceeds characters like Superman, Doomsday, and Shazam, he’d be a great brawler, but thanks to his other powers, he’d have great range attacks as well.  

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Darkseid’s main claim to fame is the Omega Beam, shot from his eyes with concussive or disintegrating results. He can teleport, shoot energy blasts from his hands, is extremely fast, and can manipulate matter with his mind. Plenty to work with here.

Supermove: Darkseid plunges his opponent into the Omega Sanction, a succession of painful alternate realities, each getting progressively worse.

2) Etrigan

If you know anything about Scorpion, it’s that he uses lots of fire attacks, and he’s pretty much a demon in ninja garb. Well, how about using an actual demon from DC?  

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Etrigan was fused to his human “host” Jason Blood by Merlin (yes, that Merlin), and they share a life. It’s similar to the Hulk, but the transformation is made willingly, and the two entities aren’t the same person, or even different personalities. Etrigan is a savage fighter who breathes and commands mystical fire. He’s been known to use a sword on occasion, and aside from his fangs and claws, his mastery of magic, superstrength, and enhanced agility make him more than a match for anyone (and he’s much more powerful than Scorpion).

Supermove: Etrigan impales his opponent on a flaming sword, opens a portal to hell and throws him in a lake of fire.

3) Gorilla Grodd

There is nobody from Flash’s rogue’s gallery in the game, and who wouldn’t want to play as a talking, mind-controlling gorilla? Grodd is a conqueror, raising up apes from Gorilla City in numerous attempts at world conquest. It might sound corny, but there have been some great story arcs featuring Grodd, and if you look close at the Stryker’s Island battle stage, you’ll see him in the background.

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Grodd can fire off telekinetic force beams from his helmet, and he is known as a genius, building a variety of weapons to use in combat. His favorites are laser guns and knives. He also is able to create illusions in his opponents minds, tricking them into attacking something that isn’t there. Grodd is much stronger than a normal gorilla, although his thought processing speed is about the same as a human.

Supermove: Grodd grabs his opponent by the arm and flings him high in the air. This is followed by a bevy of blows, culminating in a huge laser to the face.

4) Larfleeze

One of my personal favorites. I know we have two colors of Lantern already in the game, but Larfleeze is different. Plus, he’s a bit of a comic relief, something the game doesn’t have (aside from Joker).

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Larfleeze is an Orange Lantern (the only true Orange Lantern). He controls the orange light of avarice, which has completely consumed him to the point where he kills anyone who tries to get close to his lantern or ring. He then creates a hard light construct of his victim, and adds it to his growing army. He’s a pretty pitiful character, saying “Mine!” a la Daffy Duck quite frequently, but he is super powerful and hilarious, plus another alien in the game can’t hurt anything.

He has very similar powers to Green Lantern and Sinestro, except he has an entire army of constructs to himself. All of these constructs retain the powers they had while alive, meaning that Larfleeze has a variety of attacks at his disposal.

Supermove: Larfleeze teleports his enemy to his cave, where an army of orange constructs converge to attack. Afterwards, Larfleeze dumps his opponent into the orange power battery.

5) Mirror Master

Yes, he’s not much in the way of achievements, but think of the cool stuff you could pull off with this guy!

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Mirror Master has access to an alternate dimension that he can access by passing through any type of mirror. Once in this dimension, he can return to Earth through any mirror anywhere. He also possesses a “mirror gun” that can turn any surface into a mirror, making getaways easy. He can also bring people along with him into the mirror world.

Mirror Master would make for some great fighting moves. Along with teleporting, imagine range attacks that are actually punches, with Mirror Master using a mirror to get his fist close to his opponent. Attacks from below become super powerful as Mirror Master dives through one mirror and up through one just in front of his opponent.

Supermove: Mirror Master opens a mirror below his opponent and tackles him into it. His opponents head bangs around on mirrors in the mirror zone, and Mirror Master keeps him falling until letting him drop, at a high speed, onto the ground.

6) Mr. Miracle

Aside from the brief Darkseid cameo, we don’t hear from any of the citizens of New Genesis and Apokolips. Mr. Miracle was one of these residents, who now is a hero on earth. His real name being Scott Free, he is the greatest escape artist in the universe. But that’s not what makes him fun to fight with.

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Being a New God, Mr. Miracle has enhanced strength, agility, and speed. But what makes him stand out are his gadgets. Sure we’ve got Batman for that, but Mr. Miracle is different. He has access to a Mother Box, a sentient computer from Apokolips. Mother Box can open Boom Tubes (wormhole like tunnels used for fast travel or attack), and run quick scans on any situation. Aero discs are Scott’s favorite mode of transportation, but they can be used for attacks as well, his gloves are able to shoot lasers and produce sonic waves, while his boots are equipped with laser jets and knives.

Supermove: Mr. Miracle opens a boom tube, which sucks his opponent through to Apokolips, where he is attacked by Darkseid’s minions before getting boomed back to Earth.

7) Mr. Mxyzpylk

Mxy is an imp from the 5th Dimension. Most people know him as the trickster who frustrates Superman/Clark Kent until Clark can get him to spell or say his own name backwards (Klypzyxm).

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As crazy as he looks, Mxy is extremely powerful. He can control the laws of physics and transform matter with a thought. He could make himself as big or small as he’d like, and his only limit is his imagination. He’s not really evil, he just enjoys tormenting Superman. In fact, Mxy will protect Superman when he can, because he wants to make sure Superman will still be alive to tease.

Supermove: Well…anything you could think of…literally. How about he turns himself into a baseball bat and his opponent into a baseball and smacks them into deep space.

8) Nekron

The unliving entity behind the events of Blackest Night and master of the zombie Black Lanterns. Nekron is the embodiment of Death in the DC Universe and is the most powerful dark force in DC lore. So basically, you’re playing as Death itself? Yeah, sweet.

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Nekron’s powers are nearly limitless. He can warp reality, raise the dead, kill with a touch and fire black lighting from his hands. His Black Lantern Scythe is a formidable force in hand-to-hand combat and can also fire blasts of dark energy.

Supermove: Nekron rips a hole in reality and knocks his opponent through it. His opponent is beset by dead souls until Nekron impales him with his scythe, dragging him back into the land of the living.

9) The Sandman

Really either version would be fine, but Sandy Hawkins (the most recent Sandman) would be best. Both Hawkins and his mentor Westley Dodd, were members of the Justice Society of America. Donning a gas mask and a noir suit, Sandman uses his street smarts and skills to bring criminals to justice.

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Besides being an excellent hand-to-hand combatant, Sandy uses gas guns, a harpoon/grapple gun (called the Wirepoon), and other gadgets in his crusade against crime. He also can control the earth in a limited way, using seismic waves to create small quakes and manipulate the ground. Sandy has a psychic connection of sorts with Morpheus, the real “mythical” Sandman, and he can use this connection to utilize a certain deal of precognition.

Supermove: Sandy blasts a shot from his gas gun into his opponent’s face, causing a deep sleep in a dreamworld where he is battered around by the Endless as Morpheus looks on.

10) The Shade

With this list, I’ve tried to pick out characters with powers different than those featured in the game already. Mirror Master and Sandman are the best examples of this, along with this final character, the anti-hero The Shade. The Shade (AKA Richard Swift) is over 100 years old. Trapped in the middle of an unexplained magical phenomena in England, Swift became immortal and found himself able to control the forces of the Darklands, a world of shadows and semi-sentient darkness.

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The Shade uses the Darklands to create constructs of darkness, much like Green Lantern would. He can also use the Darkness to create corridors in time and space, making transportation a breeze. He wields a old walking cane that he can use for combat or to direct his forces of the Dark.

Supermove: The Shade plunges the fighting arena into darkness, confusing his opponent, who is then raised high above the stage, along with the Shade, on pillars of darkness. The Shade knocks his opponent off with a leap, and batters him on the way down with his cane.

The Blockbuster Report

This weekend, Superman returns (get it? ha!) to the big screen in Man of Steel. Directed by Zack Snyder, and produced by Christopher Nolan, this is supposed to be the start of a DC movie world that will lead up to a Justice League film. I really only have one question. Has DC/Warner Brothers finally managed to make a critically acclaimed film about someone besides Batman? We shall see.  I, being a comic book nerd, am picking it as my Film to See this weekend.

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Man of Steel’s only real box office competition is the widely released This is the End. It’s a comedy written by and starring Seth Rogen (man, I’m getting tired of him), and also starring James Franco, Jonah Hill, and Craig Robinson. I’ll be waiting until The World’s End comes out later this year to get my apocalypse fix.

Appearing in limited release is The Bling Ring, a drama about a group of teenage friends that head down a road of trouble when they start a life of crime. Emma Watson stars in this one. Vehicle 19, starring Paul Walker looks like nothing special, and the atrocious Hatchet III is also out this weekend.

Where Do They Come From?

Man of Steel is an adaptation of the DC Comics character, obviously. No, it isn’t a sequel. This is the End is an original, story by Evan Goldberg, and Jason Stone, with the script written by Goldberg and Rogen.

Original: 23

Adaptation: 17

Sequel/Prequel: 8

Remake: 2

Re-release: 2

Oscarwatch (Not including this weekend’s films)

1) Before Midnight

2) Mud

3) What Maisie Knew

4) Much Ado About Nothing

5) Frances Ha

6) Upstream Color

7) The Place Beyond the Pines

8) 42

9) Iron Man 3

10) Star Trek Into Darkness

New arrivals: Much Ado About Nothing (#4)

Departures: Side Effects (#10)

Admittedly, I am a completest. I typically need to start at the start, and do things in order. I won’t skip things, even if they aren’t so great. I still haven’t seen any of The Walking Dead because I want to read all the comics/graphic novels AND start at episode one of the show.  So, all that being said, after DC Comics started out on their New 52, I was ready to start with #1 (or #0, I guess) and read ALL of it. Naturally, it took awhile, as I have neither the money or interest to buy every issue, and needed to resort to library availability, but I’m enough through Volume 1 at this point to make a judgement (the only ones I haven’t read are VoodooCaptain Atom, and The Shade miniseries). Before I do that, here’s my breakdown of the titles.

The Best – Titles I really liked

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Justice League
Aquaman
Batman
Batman and Robin
Action Comics
Green Lantern
Green Lantern: New Guardians
DC Universe Presents

The Good – Titles I liked, but not as much

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Batman: The Dark Knight
Detective Comics
Batgirl
Batwing
Green Arrow
Green Lantern Corps
Blue Beetle
Blackhawks
Men of War
Animal Man
Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E.
Birds of Prey
Huntress
(miniseries)

The OK – Titles that have some good things, but are mostly nothing special.

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Justice League International
The Savage Hawkman
Batwoman
Nightwing
Superboy
Supergirl
Red Lanterns
Hawk and Dove
Legion Lost
Deathstroke
Stormwatch
Grifter
Justice League Dark
Swamp Thing
Demon Knights
Resurrection Man
The Fury of Firestorm
Teen Titans
Penguin: Pain and Prejudice 
(miniseries)
Legion: Secret Origin 
(miniseries)

The Ugly – Avoid at all costs

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Wonder Woman
The Flash
Mr. Terrific
Catwoman
Red Hood and the Outlaws
Superman
Static Shock
Legion of Superheroes
Suicide Squad
OMAC
All-Star Western
I, Vampire

The Verdict

The New 52 was DC’s big plan to revitalize their universe, it came along with a new logo and everything. And at some level, it was a good idea. A massive ret-con chance to line things up and make them smoother. But as I was reading through all of volume one, things were generally stale.

Aside from “the best” and some of “the good,” they told the same old story. New villain, need to fight, the hero learns something new about himself, etc. It was boring. The books that broke that mold were the ones that were the best, but they also had previously established supporting casts to use (Green Lantern: New Guardians and Batman for example). Aquaman was really the only character that came “out of the blue” to have a great story. The Batman, Action Comics and Green Lantern titles leaned heavily on past history, and DC Universe Presents did as well, with a great expansion of Deadman’s story, and a fun new origin to the Challengers of the Unknown.

The really sad thing here is the awful comics. DC has virtually no clue how to write a strong female character. If Barbara Gordon was around (BatgirlBirds of Prey) it was alright, everything else was bad, bad, bad. Wonder Woman was boring, stupid, and uninteresting, Catwoman was completely devoid of everything that made Ed Brubaker and Will Pfeifer’s run on the character so great: a Selina Kyle that was not one dimensional, that was struggling with her conscience, with protecting her friends and her child, and with starting a new life. OMAC, Static Shockand Mr. Terrific tried really hard, but were just boring attempts at sci-fi. The Flash and All Star Western promised much, but delivered recycled plots and thin characterization, and Legion of Superheroes threw literally, a legion of characters at you and expected you to know all of them. I was lost, and I don’t get lost easily.

At the end of the day, even with a new idea like this, things do stay pretty much the same. There are good stories, there are bad stories. Once they get out from under the “reboot” umbrella, which they are already starting to do, things will be better. We won’t have the need for new introductions to characters we may already know, and we’ll get some freedom to see some new things (I just finished the new Dial H volume, part of Wave 2 of the New 52, and it was great). But for the first wave, stick to the classics and you’ll be rewarded. DC will get back on track, and even though I’m a Marvel guy, I’m excited to see what folks like Geoff Johns and Grant Morrison have in store.

When The Dark Knight Rises hits theaters this weekend, we will be seeing the end of a amazing movie trilogy. Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale have confirmed that this will be the last time they will be filming a Batman movie or anything related (Justice League for example). So what’s next for the Caped Crusader? Here are some things I’d like to see.

#1) The Riddler. After the debacle of Jim Carrey in this role, it needed some time off. Some people don’t seem to get that the Riddler is actually not really similar to Joker at all. What would a good version of the Riddler entail? A fall from grace for one. Let’s say Eddie Nashton discovers his employer’s dirty laundry, get’s axed, and changes his name to Nygma. You’ve got to really play the OCD card, as that is Riddler’s malady. He has to leave riddles, and he has to show he is smarter than everyone, and let’s face it, he is REALLY smart. This is Holmes/Moriarty stuff we’re dealing with.

2) Robin. This needs to be set up very carefully. It can’t be a joke, it does need to be Dick Grayson, and it does need to be circus related. Bruce Wayne needs to see something after Dick’s parents are killed that motivates Bruce to save Dick from the downward spiral and darkness he has subjected himself to from his own parents death.

3) The Long Halloween. A perfect Batman mystery. Holiday is a serial killer who kills once a month, on the holiday from that month. Suspects abound and for help, Batman turns to Julian Day, the Calendar Man, who also had a crime theme with days of the month. Day doesn’t want to be forgotten, so he helps Batman track down the Holiday Killer. Very Lecteresque.

4) Hush. You can’t just bring in Hush on his own story, it needs to be set up. And that means you need Killer Croc, Joker, Riddler, Two-face, Clayface, and Catwoman. This is a huge, wonderful story to build up to.

5) Gotham as a ‘Mecca for the Insane.’ It’s reference in the comics and animated shows numerous times, the idea that the presence of the Batman attracts the crazies to Gotham. In order to maintain a realistic film world, you probably need a reason that all the crazy people are in Gotham.

6) New gang wars. Going along with idea #5, a new breed of gang needs to show up in Gotham, one more extreme and a little more unbalanced. I’m thinking Penguin and Black Mask here, with maybe some help from the Great White Shark and Scarface. Also, this could lead to the chance to throw the rogue’s gallery wide open as the gang leaders stage a huge prison break at Arkham and recruit the former inmates, outfitting them with special equipment and suits to fight the Batman and match their neurosis. Possibilities: Firefly, Killer Croc, Dr. Death, Professor Pyg, Crazy Quilt, Eraser, Headhunter, Jane Doe, Tiger Shark, Onomatopoeia.

7) A live action Sub-zero. A great animated film that showed what makes Mr. Freeze tick. Change some things and bring it to the big screen.

I could go on and on all day, but I’ll say this instead: enjoy the new Batman film this week. With DC Comics recent ‘success’ with movies, I don’t know how soon another good Batman flick will come our way.