Tuesday, September 1, 2015

What Happened to the Justice League?

The story of what happened to the Justice League of America is only hinted at in The Dark Knight Returns. Frank Miller always wanted to tell that story, and perhaps one day he will finish it. But the careful reader can discern most of the details from Superman's soliloquy in The Dark Knight Returns.

From Superman's inner dialogue, we can begin to piece together what happened. As the JLA grew more prominent, a backlash grew in the court of public opinion. First, there were parents' groups - presumably opposed to the 'bad influence' of vigilantes, and the endangerment of child-superheroes like Robin. Then, the JLA was called in for questioning by a Congressional subcommittee.

As pressure mounted, Batman - brash, arrogant, and uncompromisingly idealist - refused to back down. Instead, he laughs. Sure we're criminals. We've always been criminals. Cracks began to form in the leadership structure of the JLA.

Jason Todd died. Batman retired. Things escalated. The government formed a PBI - a Paranormal Bureau of Investigation - to 'hunt down' superhumans. And there was that trouble with Oliver. Green Arrow went rogue, refusing to get with the program. And Superman had to make a choice. Compromise with the public, or go to war with them.

He chose to compromise.

Clark took down Oliver, and retired from public view. And the rest was history. Without Batman, Clark, or Green Arrow - and bad blood between all three - the rest of the Justice League members disbanded quietly. Diana [Wonder Woman] went back to her people. Hal [Green Lantern] went to the stars. Superman continued to operate behind the scenes, as a government agent.

And there you have it - the sad story of what happened to the Justice League of America in The Dark Knight Returns. It is a tale of greatness lost, heroes fallen, and friendship destroyed. The story is told against the backdrop of Superman massacring a Soviet army, and Batman endangering a child while flouting public opinion. Neither man has changed very much, and the two are once again on a collision course.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Batman v. Superman Comic-Con Trailer

Trailers are this weird art form where they take clips from the movie, shuffle them around in a weird order, and create a little mini-movie with lines that are sometimes better than the actual movie. For the Batman v. Superman trailer, alas, this is not the case. The trailer stumbles about, offering occasional glimpses of something interesting, but mostly rather uninspired voiceover. I can feel Frank Miller rolling around in his comic-y grave.

So, what have we got here. A 9/11-esque crashing of the "Wayne Tower," right in front of Batman's eyes, inspiring him to take action against Supes. Seems pretty corny to me. As for Superman, some folks love him, some folks hate him. Is he a God or a man? God or a man? OK, we get the picture.

Since accidentally knocking down Wayne Tower would not be enough to set Batman flying, my guess is that Superman is framed. The obvious culprit here is the Loki-esque Lex Luthor, played here by Jessie Eisenberg, reprising his role from The Social Network. Maybe after Bats and Supes figure it out they can go after Lex together, World's Finest-style.

Superman being a dick.
To me, the trailer feels like a Superman movie with a little Batman rolled in. Clark goes through his typical identity crisis, does he feel like saving humans, does he feel like flying back to Krypton, does he feel like eating a hot dog today, that kind of thing. Which maybe is OK for a 21 page comic - maybe - but is probably not going to carry another 2+ hour movie. Especially with Batman as the villain. I mean, you know the guy isn't going to die.

My words of wisdom? Put the focus back on Batman, AVOID CORNINESS, copy the final chapter of The Dark Knight Returns, keep it simple, and go with the flow. Less talking, more action. Make Superman a bit of a putz, and make sure he gets his lily-white Kryptonian ass handed to him from a few different corners. That will be a lesson most of the audience will not soon forget.

Who can forget an image like this?

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Beefy Bat-Signal

A friend of mine pointed me to this boston.com article, which points out that the 'new' bat-signal in the upcoming Batman v. Superman movie appears chubbier than 'lithe' former incarnations.

As several of the commenters have pointed out, there's nothing 'new' about this bat-signal. It's pretty much identical to one Frank Miller drew in 1986 in The Dark Knight Returns, on which Batman v. Superman is based.

Yeah, there's a Robin, too.
It's looking more and more like Batman v. Superman is basically pulled from the fourth chapter of The Dark Knight Returns. Which is probably wise, because there's way too much stuff in the whole graphic novel to make it all into a movie. Who knows, maybe they'll work backwards.