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The Friday You Just Go With It

I read our other Greg’s piece about the myriad implausible things in The Dark Knight Rises with great interest, and also the comments where everyone — yes, me too, I admit it– jumped in to add their own “And ANOTHER thing!”

A day or two later, though, it occurred to me that the single most glaring implausibility in the plot was the one that none of us thought to bring up– which is saying something considering that particular piece of Greg’s was at 114 comments the last time I looked, and we were all over the place there, too.

But not one of us thought to mention this, and it’s easily the craziest thing in the whole movie.

The premise is that Bane, the masked terrorist, has amassed an army, blown up the bridges to Gotham City, and established his own little kingdom there. Fortunately, the forces of good have billionaire Bruce Wayne and all his high-tech resources on their side.

And Bruce decides the best, most effective contribution he can make to the rescue of these thousands of innocent Gotham citizens is to dress up like a giant bat and engage a murderous terrorist army (an ARMY! With GUNS!!) in hand-to-hand combat, one or two at a time.

Well duh! What ELSE should the billionaire with the high-tech weapons facility do?

But we all bought that part. That wasn’t a problem.

Once I started thinking about that, all sorts of other things started bothering me too. Why in the world would Bruce Wayne think that Batman’s mask would work as a disguise, especially with the people who’ve actually met him? Has he never been to a Halloween party? Show of hands, anyone who’s gone in costume to a party with only half their face covered and actually fooled any of their friends? What’s more, how stupid is Commissioner Gordon? He’d have to know Batman is a young guy with a huge bankroll and access to state-of-the-art technology, and that guy would be highly motivated. That’s a short list of possible suspects just by itself, but Gordon also met Bruce Wayne the night Bruce’s parents were murdered. Why couldn’t he figure out Bruce Wayne was Batman the first week of Batman’s career, let alone having to wait until Batman himself reminded him of that night? (Although I think Mr. Burgas did mention that one.)

And another thing… why the hell does Bruce Wayne just string a few lights in the Batcave and set up all his computers and lab equipment there, without even putting up a couple of walls…. or a ceiling? The cave that’s wet all the time from the waterfall, and full of bats for Chrissake? If the water doesn’t ruin all those expensive electronics, the bat guano will.

“Well of course we were okay with that stuff, Greg,” a bunch of you are saying. “That’s all canonical Batman lore, the cave, the mask, Commissioner Gordon. You’re missing the point. You can’t have a Batman movie without Batman in it.”

And that’s true. But it leads me to wonder why, then, people are getting annoyed about the lack of realism in other areas of the movie. Or, for that matter, in any superhero story. Because, really, you don’t want to go there. It ruins everything.

For example, have any of us given any thought to the incredible precision machining it would take to create Peter Parker’s web-shooters? Or to the sheer pressure it would take for a stream of viscous, instantly-solidifying web fluid to shoot across a New York City street, from skyscraper to skyscraper? And Peter figured out how to make that work with a modular, wrist-mounted cartridge that’s less than three inches long. At seventeen. With his high-school science know-how. Using his nerd-hobby equipment in his aunt’s basement.

What's more, I think later Peter modified the web-shooters to auto-reload from a revolving wrist-mounted magazine. Why isn't Nick Fury recruiting this kid out of his first science fair? For that matter, why in the world would a kid who can make this kind of device EVER have money problems?

Once you start thinking about this kind of thing you can’t stop. Where does the extra mass come from when Bruce Banner changes to the Hulk? “Transformed in times of stress into seven feet, one thousand pounds of unfettered fury!” So say Bruce is– let’s be charitable– let’s say this “98-pound weakling” is really around, oh, a hundred and sixty pounds. So the extra eight hundred and forty pounds– another five Bruce Banners’ worth of flesh and bone-- just mutates out from what he’s already packing, like an out-of-control tumor?

In fact, he gains MORE mass than just what it would take to expand in size, because the Hulk is dense enough to deflect bullets.

Okay, that’s crazy enough… but then when the Hulk changes back to Bruce, where does all that extra flesh go? It doesn’t shed like a snakeskin, it doesn’t melt off into a puddle, it disappears. Where to?

Speaking of body mass, why doesn’t Reed Richards get pencil-wide and paper-thin when he stretches, and how the hell does he support any weight at all when he does it? We see him not just supporting his own weight and moving around freely, but catching and carrying other people! More than any normal graying-temples middle-aged man should be able to, really; most guys Reed’s age get winded carrying a bag of groceries after a few blocks. And for that matter, if he’s still flesh and blood, when he catches people falling off a building by turning into a trampoline why don’t they just punch a hole through him?

This SOUNDS plausible enough until you realize that no matter how damn flexible you are, if someone fires a steel missile at flesh-and-blood you it's STILL going to punch a goddam hole through you.

Have you ever had anyone fall on you from just four or five feet, let alone hundreds? It hurts.

And Superman. Dear God, the physics of Superman… if you give them any thought at all

–Bullets bounce off his chest. You can’t cut his hair. His fingernails are diamond-hard. He never perspires. How does Lois or Jimmy or, especially, Perry White, not notice these things about Clark Kent after working side-by-side with him for years? When Clark’s only disguise is a pair of horn-rimmed glasses?

Yeah, that's going to work. as long as he never scrapes anyone with his superhard flesh or cuts them with his superhard fingernails when he's shaking hands.

With flesh and nails and hair that hard– “invulnerable” is the word everyone routinely uses– the implied density is worse than the Hulk’s one thousand pounds. How the hell is Clark Kent not leaving footprints half an inch deep all over the Daily Planet building?

As for any possibly romantic interludes with Lois Lane, well, Larry Niven covered the impossible biology of that, here.

Had enough?

The point isn’t how easy it is to snark off at a superhero story. Because, really, you can snark off at Great Literature just as easily.

…Why the hell doesn’t Dorothy just stay in Oz and rule it when she’s offered? The witches are dead and the wizard’s gone. No, go back to Kansas where everbody hates you and they’re going to gas your dog. That makes more sense.

….Wouldn’t it be more helpful for Sherlock Holmes to actually TELL Dr. Watson who the bad guy is in advance once in a while, since Watson’s usually the one that’s ARMED? “Hey, Watson, by the way, the murderer is the brother-in-law, and he’s crazy enough to try and take a hostage. Make sure you’re standing behind him in case he makes a break for it.” No, he never says something sensible like that, it’s always, “All in good time, Watson.”

…Why doesn’t Dracula just go ahead and break Van Helsing’s neck the way he did Renfield’s? For that matter, why is Dracula so evil towards Jonathan Harker in the first place, instead of just bribing him the way he did with the gypsies? Harker was probably bribable– he was a LAWYER, and not a rich one– and since it was Dracula’s treatment of Harker that blew the whole deal, you’d think he could have restrained himself.

…Why do Romeo and Juliet have to fake their deaths before running away, if they’re running away anyway? Was there some sort of Verona version of Dog the Bounty Hunter coming after them? Does anyone outside the city limits really give a damn about the Capulet-Montague thing? Why not just leave town and change their names? People manage to disappear today using that tactic and we have the internet and CSI and satellite photography. I bet Romeo and Juliet could have pulled it off in medieval Italy, especially since their only real crime was being horny teenagers.

And so on. Really, once you’re in that particular headspace, you can pick at any piece of fiction until it unravels, from Shakespeare to Gilligan’s Island. (That one bothered me even when I was a kid… my generation wondered for years why in God’s name the Professor could make a bicycle-powered washer and dryer out of bamboo but he couldn’t patch the hole in the damn boat.)

What I got to wondering about is why we don’t pick at superhero stories most of the time… and what the trigger is when we do. I know there have been times when I’ve been reading a story about the Justice League, or the X-Men, or the Flash, or whoever, and suddenly sat up and said, “No way. I don’t buy it.” I was okay with the guy with the recoil-less force beams coming out of his eyes, the girl who can deflect machine-gun fire with her bracelets, even the guy who flies by flapping his giant wings. But then… something snapped me out of it. Why was that particular plot point impossible to swallow?

Thinking back, for me the common factors are always, “That’s too much,” and “Out of context.”

For example, I can totally buy Batman vs. Darkseid in a Justice League story. I can even buy that of the League, Batman is the guy that ends up actually beating Darkseid and pulling out the win.

I loved this moment in FINAL CRISIS. But this same page in a solo Batman story, I think I'd have problems. I don't think it would work for me.

But in a solo Batman story, in Gotham City… it feels wrong. I can’t suspend my disbelief. Hell, I have a hard time with guys like Azrael when it’s a regular Bat-story set in Gotham. Because of context.

The world-building in a superhero story– more so than even in a science-fiction story or a high-fantasy story– is an incredibly fragile thing. You have to get people to believe not just one impossible thing, but a whole bunch of them, and you generally have to do it in a contemporary urban setting where your audience actually lives and knows things. Most people couldn’t tell you a thing about the economic workings of Middle-Earth or what it would take to put together an expedition to Altair VII; we have to assume the exposition we’re given in those stories is the truth.

But we do know generally what it would take to remodel a cave into a secret headquarters, or how much trouble the hero would be in if the police caught him beating the crap out of a bunch of muggers while he’s in his mask and costume. There has to be some sort of cover for that, even if it’s just doubletalk… and you can’t use too much doubletalk, either, or the audience will get irritated. If you aren’t careful, you can shatter the whole illusion.

The good news is that the audience wants to play along. Really, we do. We will agree never to bring up the Hulk’s extra mass or WayneCorp’s horrible financial records or even Clark Kent’s utterly inadequate disguise. It’s much more fun to “just go with it.”

Especially if we believe in the emotional reality of the characters. We go along with the idea of Batman because we all get why Bruce Wayne would want to be Batman.

Honestly? I think the reason I didn’t enjoy The Dark Knight Rises as much as I did The Dark Knight, and I didn’t enjoy The Dark Knight as much as I did Batman Begins…. It had nothing to do with the story being ridiculously unrealistic, because they ALL had that problem.

No, for me it boiled down to this– if you want me to just go with it for your Batman story, well, it better have Batman in it. One I recognize. Even in Bat-stories that I thought had giant, gaping flaws in them, like No Man’s Land or Knightfall– I was still okay with them, because Batman was recognizably Batman. I could go along.

Honestly, though, I have to own up-- my preferred version of each of these stories are the prose novels, which quietly fix up a lot of the flaws that annoyed me in the comics versions.

And when you get right down to it, well, that’s my yardstick for the movies, too. Adam West is recognizably the sixties Batman, he’s in context, that works for me. Michael Keaton… well, he was okay, moderately close. Kilmer and Clooney, no.

But Christian Bale sold me from the get-go in his first outing. That’s why I like Batman Begins the best. His Batman in that movie was absolutely ‘my’ Batman, and he was in a recognizably Batman story. The Batman in The Dark Knight was… well, he was close enough, at least up to the end. But the Batman in Rises… I didn’t believe in that guy. A Bruce Wayne who quits, who holes up in his mansion like Howard Hughes, who doesn’t bother to vet the woman he’s handing a giant piece of weapons technology…. no. I don’t buy it. That wasn’t Batman.

For us genre fans, when we can’t “just go with it,” that’s usually what it is. Whether it’s James Bond or Tarzan or Wolverine, if you give us the guy we came to see, we can take almost anything. Mess with that internal logic, screw with the character, and suddenly everything becomes unforgivable.

No matter how critically-acclaimed you might be, when you are doing a genre piece, the story’s the star and as a rule the fans will know it better than you do. If you’re not on board with that idea, and you get all caught up in your own ‘vision,’ you’re probably going to flop.

Which is why I'm kind of dreading this one. My inner Bat-fan is only mildly irked at the pretension in DARK KNIGHT RISES, but my inner Ranger fan is really getting outraged at all the pretentious asshole things Johnny Depp has been saying about HIS take on the Lone Ranger.

If you have no sense of what makes a superhero story so much fun that people want to ‘just go with it,’ maybe you should skip doing a genre piece in the first place. Stay on the art-house circuit. We’ll all be better off.

See you next week.

38 Comments

You can’t have a Batman movie without Batman in it.

Although God know Chris Nolan certainly tried. Around the middle of the movie, I thought how odd it was that he took Batman, Alfred AND Commissioner Gordon offstage for an extended period of time so he could instead focus on the other characters. That, to me, was a pretty clear sign that Nolan doesn’t really want to make Batman movies any more.

And you’re absolutely right about suspension of disbelief in genre stories. One of my favorite moviegoing memories is seeing GOLDFINGER a couple of years back in Bryant Park. Five minutes before the end of the movie, it’s revealed that Goldfinger snuck onto the private plane taking James Bond to the White House. The woman next to me cried out, “Unlikely!” I immediately turned to her and said, “Really? You’re choosing NOW to stop suspending your disbelief? You were with it right up UNTIL now?” and we all had a good laugh.

Bravo! Nicely stated.

To be pedantic, wasn’t Peter Parker more like 15 when he invented the web shooters?

And come on, a teenage boy spends hours and hours in his basement and shoots loads and loads of sticky goo? I totally buy that!

I think they’ve come up with one of those “other dimensions” as to where Hulk’s mass comes and goes.

Which gets me thinking — Planetary is one book where some of the “mechanics” of these impossible things gets turned over and played with. There’s that issue with the Superman/WW/GL analogues, the intro story with a Hulk analogue, that issue where a Thor/Mjolnir analogue opens a dimensional portal for weapons storage, and so on and so forth.

I totally want a story where Reed Richards has to play “spare tire” for someone. I would buy the hell outta that!

Holmes never telling Watson what’s up totally works in context, though, because he’s a know it all dick who likes to lord over Watson with his knowledge. You know if Watson was seriously injured, he’d just be all “well, why didn’t YOU figure out that the butler did it and was going to shoot you?” Dick.

That Batman vs Darkseid page is actually from Batman 701 or 702, right? That’s not the Final Crisis version of that moment, I don’t think. But as to FC related, I totally bought that Bruce could fight off the Lump in that 2 parter right after RIP. GMozz’s run made it feel like everything that had ever happened in Batman comics has happened to Bruce, and he’s therefore ready for all you mofos! Like Alfred says in that 2 parter, in that fraction of a second your attention is distracted, that’s when Batman will take you down!!!

In other comics, I’ll bring up Scalped because it just ended, but while almost any real human would be dead from all the abuse that Dash and Red Crow and everyone goes through in the book, you go along with it because for one thing, you root for the characters, and don’t want a simple thing like a hail of bullets to be what takes them down, and for another thing, there were consequences, although not as intense as real life would be.

Burgas brought up with his review of Hawkeye 1 a few weeks back how the injuries Hawkeye sustained in the beginning of the book should have kept him out of commission for much longer, but we go with it because he’s a guy in a costume in a superhero universe. OF COURSE he can sustain GBH.

And I think you put it beautifully in a comment on the other Greg’s column, so I’m cutting & pasting them here. This should be required reading for ANYONE making a comic book movie:

Batman is almost infinitely adaptable as costumed superheroes go… but he’s still a costumed superhero. The more ‘realism’ you try to inject into it, the more you get away from the supercharged adventure, pulp-fiction roots of the thing. That’s why I like Batman Begins the best of the three. It was mostly a straight-up superhero action movie, and the arc it described– going from vengeance to justice– is an actual Batman story. The other two are trying too hard, they come across as the earnest college kid doing his senior thesis on Batman’s underlying psychological themes in order to justify his comics reading habit. Ten-year-old me would be appalled to see the adult me put forth this opinion, but it really is possible for Batman to be done TOO seriously.

The best comics-to-film adaptations are the ones that don’t try to rise above the source material, or try to slyly wink at the audience about the source material, but rather just embrace the source material and do the best they can to put it up on the screen.

I REALLY hope the next set of people who take over the Batman movies embrace the pulp roots a bit more & have fun with it. If nothing else, it’ll clearly differentiate their movie from the Nolan version.

I also walked out of the theater kind of annoyed. I don’t usually find myself picking at superhero movies like I was after Dark Knight Rises. I think after reading this bit, you managed to distill the reason for my distaste. It was the pretension. It was as if Nolan realized by this final installment that he was making a movie about some goofy guy in a cape. So the film went out of its way to try and be about more than that guy in the cape. This is why I liked the Avengers so much. Yes, there were some winks and nods at how silly things were, but at least the film embraced the setting and characters. It didn’t turn in to some pretentious mess.

Holmes never telling Watson what’s up totally works in context, though, because he’s a know it all dick who likes to lord over Watson with his knowledge. You know if Watson was seriously injured, he’d just be all “well, why didn’t YOU figure out that the butler did it and was going to shoot you?” Dick.

Actually, in “The Adventure of the Three Garridebs”, Holmes expresses a great deal of concern when Watson is injured. From the Wikipedia entry on Watson:

Holmes was so attached to his friend that he nearly lost his composure at the thought that Watson had been fatally shot. Watson wrote, “It was worth a wound—it was worth many wounds—to know the depth of loyalty and love which lay behind that cold mask. The clear, hard eyes were dimmed for a moment, and the firm lips were shaking. For the one and only time I caught a glimpse of a great heart as well as of a great brain. All my years of humble but single-minded service culminated in that moment of revelation.” Holmes recovers his balance only when he is sure that Watson’s wound is slight, but a trace of his alarm and worry for Watson is clear in his menacing reproof to the criminal who shot the doctor: “If you had killed Watson, you would not have got out of this room alive.”

I get into a version of this conversation frequently because, in addition to reading comic books, I’ve been known to play Dungeons & Dragons (try to restrain yourselves, ladies) and rare is the D&D rules debate that doesn’t eventually boil to some version of “You’re fine with a world with wizards and dragons but not one where (fill in the blank)” and for me, what it usually boils down to is that it’s easier to accept “impossible” than “implausible.” Or, in other words, it’s easier to accept something that can’t happen in the real world that the author is explicitly putting forth as a way in which his world works differently than the real world than it is to accept something that wouldn’t happen in the real world but happens in the fictional world becahse the author doesn’t realize (or care) that it doesn’t make sense.

For example, if you say Superman can fly faster than the speed of light, I’ll say okay, that’s something Superman can do. And if you say Superman can travel through time, I’ll accept that as something Superman can do. But if you say Superman can travel through time BECAUSE he can fly faster than the speed of light – i.e., that time travel isn’t one of his powers, but, as we all know, ANYthing that moves faster than the speed of light will go backward in time – that’s where you start to lose me. And if you tell me that Superman can’t travel back in time himself, but he can fly around the Earth so fast that it starts to spin backward which, as we all know, will cause recent events on Earth to rewind … there’s just no way.

Most of the problems people bring up with The Dark Knight Rises fall under the same paradigm with me: if I feel that Nolan is saying “this is something Batman can do” or “this is how it works in Gotham” then I can accept it even if it seems impossible; if I feel like Nolan’s saying “this is how this would logically work,” then it better be the way it works in real life (or I better not know that it’s not how it works in real life) if I’m going to accept it.

Regarding the cowl thing, I used to think the same way. But then I put it to a test: I grabbed five or six images of real-world equivalents to Bruce, or the closest I could get anyway – Donald Trump, Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, etc – and used Paint to put a Batman cowl on them. Then I asked me facebook friends to guess who they all were. A couple of them got one or two, but for the most part, people just couldn’t recognize them. I found it a little hard to believe, actually, but that’s what happened.

You’re spot on with everything else, though, especially with the idea that the more realistic a superhero story is, the less enjoyable it tends to be.

I didn’t sense an ounce of pretension in Rises. In fact, I felt like it was the film in his trilogy that most embraced the elements of the source material. I definitely felt like it was a comic booky film, which worked to both its benefit and detriment at times. And I know we all have our interpretations of what the “true” version of a character is but I feel like Nolan’s Batman was consistent from film to film and didn’t contradict the core of who I know the character to be. I mean I would’ve preferred him to be more of a detective and a MUCH better fighter. But I feel overall Nolan wrote his Bruce Wayne/Batman well and Bale did a great job bringing said characterization to life.

@Chad: haha, now I’m imagining what it would be like if Donald Trump or Steve Jobs as Batman, that’s nuts.

…Why the hell doesn’t Dorothy just stay in Oz and rule it when she’s offered? The witches are dead and the wizard’s gone. No, go back to Kansas where everbody hates you and they’re going to gas your dog. That makes more sense.

In the sixth Oz book by Baum, The Emerald City of Oz (1910), when Uncle Henry and Aunt Em are unable to pay the mortgage on the new farmhouse built at the end of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Dorothy brings them to live in Oz; the bulk of their appearance in the book dealing with her and her aunt and uncle is their tour of Oz, showing them the marvelous, Utopian land in which they have escaped the troubles of Kansas.[4]

http://www.enotes.com/topic/Dorothy_Gale#Book_series

http://www.enotes.com/topic/The_Emerald_City_of_Oz

I regret having to bring up this bit on children’s literature, but then the property this posting deals with largely targeted and pandered to young children for decades (child sidekick with pixie shoes and shaved legs for decades). Also, most of the highly prominent film franchises of the last forty years or so derive from children’s literature (Star Wars, Harry Potter, Pirates of the Carribean, etc.). Also, many of the adult adventure novels of the 1800’s and early 1900’s have stayed somewhat inert in recent decades (e.g. Hopalong Cassidy, Craig Kennedy, Max Carrados, perhaps Rocambole, etc.)
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“Stay on the arthouse circuit”.

Bill Mesce pointed out that, when comparing Insomnia to Memento, both directed by Nolan, the latter’s film, an independent film, had a more accomodating budgetary situation, even though neither film had huge explosions, etc.The large studios have problems trying to keep budgets down to about 10 to 20 million dollars. Since Rashida Jones has pointed out that medium budget films have started to disappear while the large studios focus on properties with toy line and other merchandise possibilities (I still see Green Lantern greeting cards in convenience stores despite the backlash against that film), Nolan may want to stay independent. While Nolan probably would have preferred to have done a hard-boiled private eye story or something along the lines of L.A. Confidential, private eye films and such have largely faded away from theaters. In fact, adaptations of adult thriller literature have generally underperformed in recent years (e.g. Gone, Baby, Gone, The Girl With the Dragon Tatoo, L.A. Confidential, Black Dahlia, etc.).

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This posting of course, prompted me to bring up Max Allan Collins and Count Karnstein:

http://newimprovedgorman.blogspot.com/2012/07/max-allan-collins-movie-reveiwer.html#c1672888083201708501

In Amazing Heroes#119 in 1987, Max Allan Collins had an interview. He said the following about how he wrote for DC:

“I’m afraid what I’m running smack up into is the old Batman TV show controversy: the old business about, Gee that was a TV show that made fun of Batman and made fun of comic books, so we have to show people that Batman and comic books are serious and they’re adult and accordingly all the fun goes out of it. There was a reason why that TV show was played for laughs and that is when you put actual human beings in those costumes and act out those stories, it looks stupid. They betray their juvenile roots”.

http://www.undermountain.org/monsterfans/viewtopic.php?p=228&sid=68f9d52600588f16981169e0475385a2ight

A poster named Count Karnstein once commented on the 1960’s show.

It did not stray that far from the feel of the comic books from 1944-to-1964. As the poster Count Karnstein pointed out, those comic books:
http://monsterkidclassichorrorforum.yuku.com/search/topic/topic/14587
“had giant pennies and stuffed dinosaurs, was wearing caveman, zebra, and rainbow costumes, teamed up with Bat-Mite, split in two, melded with Superman, fought a living #2 pencil, drowned in giant gravy boats and menaced by giant sized water pistols, tennis rackets, [had a boy sidekick with shaved legs and pixie shoes] and all sorts of insane absurdities long before the Batman movie or tv show were released….Dozier was bringing the characters to the screen in the manner in which they had been portrayed in the comics. Was there ever a silly, absurd, ridiculous Green Hornet comic book? If so, it’s escaped my attention for the better part of 40 years. Did we ever see a Caveman Green Hornet or a Green Hornet in a rainbox/zebra/dayglo red suit? Did we ever see Green Hornet being drowned in a giant gravy boat or being chased by aliens and dinosaurs? Was there ever an Ace the Green Hornet Dog? How about a Hornet-Mite?

No? I didn’t think so. There’s your answer. It’s literally that simple. Dozier was taking characters and putting them on the screen. Green Hornet was always played straight and serious in the comics/strips/radio, so he was done that way for tv. Batman was as absurd, silly, goofy, and ridiculous as anything else that has ever appeared in comics, and so that’s how he appeared on-screen”.

(On the radio and elsewhere, the Green Hornet’s adventures largely remained conventional crime thrillers.)

“…….Batman 1966 is the single most accurate comic book movie ever made. If you look at all the changes other movies made to the characters’ origins, powers, costumes, etc, only the 1966 Batman comes close to a literal translation on screen. Every other movie is merely derivative.

“To be totally clear, the last truly great, truly faithful superhero movie was Batman (1966)”.

http://monsterkidclassichorrorforum.yuku.com/search/topic/topic/14587

Batman 1966 did not:

Change the characters’ names to “avoid alliteration”
Change the characters’ costumes to be more “realistic”
Change the characters’ origins to be more “sophisticated”
Change the characters’ powers to be more “realistic”
Change the characters’ natures in order to fit some……director’s “vision”

So yeah, there can be no denying it. Batman 1966 was by far the most faithful and most literal comic book adaptation ever put on film.

It amazes me when people make that claim while the proof is undeniable and un-contestable. Batman the movie and the tv show was totally faithful to the comics of the day and to the comics as they were for a decade before and after. That’s historical fact that only a pathological denier could refuse to believe. Compare the dates on the comics with the tv show. It is beyond question that I am right on that. [The TV show adapted stories published in 1965, the year before.]

After recent events in Aurora, CO, I anticipate that the pendulum will swing towards something closer to Adam West. (Warner Bros. Consumer Products had already contacted West months earler about some toy deals.)

Nolan’s film reminds me of a 1988 Time article:

Time notes in a 1988 article:

http://www.time.com/time/…le/0,9171,148856,00.html

There is in this a deplorable element that might be called adultification, in which a figure created for children is subjected to adult concerns, much as though Tom Sawyer or Alice in Wonderland were updated by being made to confront sexual problems.

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,148856,00.html#ixzz1rUiTHFiq

In a similar vein, Alvin Schwartz in a 1993 interview for the Wizard Superman Special objected to a 1992 published Superman story involving a neighbor beating his spouse. (Of course, Siegel and Shuster had done spouse beating in the 1930?s and in fact that aforementioned 1992 published story featured a flashback to that Siegel and Shuster tale. Later on in the 1940’s, the writers moved away from this to copying plot point by plot point Doc Savage novels.

http://www.supermanhomepage.com/comics/comics.php?topic=special-reports/dan-jurgens

)

My problems with the film are neither genre problems nor plot point nitpicks. They’re just narrative problems. It is poorly paced, in that months go by in-story like days, but there’s no real sense that the passage of time was eventful for much of anyone. Unimportant plot events are reiterated, while important plot events happen in the blink of an eye with minimal setup or follow-through.

It often forgets what to do with many of its established characters for long stretches of time; Michael Caine, for example, could virtually have been left out entirely and the stinger set up by his painfully earnest dialogue could have simply been portrayed as Bruce figuring things out himself. Morgan Freeman, used as one of the moral centers of the previous film in the series, here becomes little more than James Bond’s Q drained of both wit and gravity, as he is called on to deliver increasingly preposterous exposition about the improbable device that drives the plot.

And how sad that this movie relies on not one, but two improbably silly gadgets — the “Clean Slate” and the fusion generator — to motivate its characters. Begins had the microwave gadget, yes, but that was at least a single-purpose gadget and one that didn’t define the motive of any of the characters. That was a McGuffin; the fusion generator here wants to be two McGuffins at once, and a symbol on top of that, and appropriately it sinks out of sight in the end like the ungainly contrivance it is.

It uses its new characters poorly, relegating most of them — Bane as the occasional exception — to conveying plot twists and character information through information-heavy dialogue. Talia suffers for this, as her character development occurs so late in the movie that it amounts to her abruptly swerving from a generic love interest to an equally generic vengeance-driven maniac. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is little more than a plot device, a character who sometimes seems to lack the clumsy flaws assigned to Gordon, Batman, et al. because he is virtually without features.

And, as most people now seem to agree, it is thematically incoherent where The Dark Knight and Batman Begins, however heavy-handed they could be at times, were comparatively thematically unified. This is a film that wants to hint at political topicality, but not at the price of taking a political position; a film that wants to depict war and terrorism, but not at the price of making them either horrific or glamorous; and a film that wants to tell a story about the grave sacrifice and noble achievements that define heroism, while also nodding sagely at times that the desire for heroism is silly and unserious and self-destructive.

Forget Harvey Dent — if you want to see something self-destruct because it’s of two minds about everything, this movie is it.

I would just like to say that when you started picking apart the physics of superheroes, it’s like you were reading my mind and writing about the stuff that I think about.

In the Incredible Hulk the movie, there’s a scene where Bruce Banner hulks out while he’s strapped down to a metal chair (or was it a bed). Anyway it’s starts to buckle under his increased mass. Weirdly, that was the only scene that took me out of the movie. I wasn’t bothered by him ripping up tanks with his bare hands, but seeing direct evidence of his mass increase snapped me out of the movie for a moment.

I agree that no work of fiction can withstand a determined nitpicker. But you have to go with it or you’ll never have any fun. Even, when I was a kid I knew that faster than light travel was impossible, but I still loved Star Trek.

And how sad that this movie relies on not one, but two improbably silly gadgets — the “Clean Slate” and the fusion generator — to motivate its characters. Begins had the microwave gadget, yes, but that was at least a single-purpose gadget and one that didn’t define the motive of any of the characters.
———————————————————————————————————————————-

What about that scene where he summoned vermin by pressing a button on his boot? As much of a hat pull as Adam West’s gadgets if one wanted to make that criticism.

Batman uses a sonic device from his boot to call the bats for distraction. This comes from Year One
————-Did Frank Miller find that odd in a tale featuring prostitutes and pimps? Had any similar device appeared in earlier tales?

Agree strongly with Omar about the problems with Rises. Though I think the film took a clear political position– albeit against the Occupy movement.

Nope, sorry, still loved it. Did it make sense for Bruce Wayne to have quit at the end of the previous film and holed up as a hermit, especially since the whole emotional arc of the last movie was to explicitly show why he’d never stop being Batman? Sure. But Nolan more or less starts over in tone and theme with each film. The guy who overcomes a broken spine, climbs out of an inescapable prison, and sneaks back into a closed-off city in order to kick a lot of asses? That’s my Batman. And this one borrowed a lot from the source material– Knightfall, No Man’s Land, Dark Knight Returns, etc. (If only we got Batman on horseback.)

I also really liked Avengers, which was big, colorful, and bombastic, just like the comics– but I’m pretty sure I liked Dark Knight Rises more, because that movie was actually about something. More than one something, even.

I also just saw the John Carter of Mars movie– and I found it a slog. So I think it’s just diff’rent strokes for diff’rent folks.

Omar’s points are all well-taken, but I can think of a bunch of superhero/adventure movies that are just as structurally screwed up that I (and many other fans) didn’t mind, because they got the superhero and adventure parts right. The first couple of Christopher Reeve Superman movies, just to take one example; the original Star Wars films, for another.

I’m not defending bad storytelling. (I’m not trying to beat up on Star Wars or Christopher Reeve, either, so I hope legions of angry fans don’t show up to yell at me.) But as has been pointed out many, many times to me by sneering non-fans, a great many of our most beloved genre classics really don’t hold up well at all against plot criticisms, and I got to wondering why some get a pass from us and others don’t. That’s where the column came from.

My personal feeling about Dark Knight Rises (not necessarily shared by the universe) is that all of the things Omar and others have pointed out are true, but I’d have probably shrugged them off if there had been more Batman stuff in there… that is to say, the Batman I recognize. Not necessarily the ideal one I see in my head, I’d have been happy even with the one we saw in Batman Begins. The guy who’s heroic, teachable, and ready to embark on the actual mission at the end of the movie.

Just to take one example off the top of my head, I think my whole feeling about Rises would have changed and I’d have forgiven everything if, in the last few minutes….

SPOILERS

….instead of the lame “Robin”/next-generation thing we got, they’d made one minor change. It plays almost the same way– except that when Jospeh Gordon-Leavitt reaches the Batcave, Bruce and Alfred are waiting for him. And Bruce asks him if he’s ready.

There are just as many ludicrous plot problems there as with what we got, yes, yes. I know. But think about how that changes the character narrative. In that scenario, Batman is still Batman– the guy who was always ahead, the world’s greatest crimefighter, who looked at how Talia and the League were coming after him and used it to outflank EVERYONE. And Alfred is still Alfred, the one true confidante and friend. And now we have (implied) Robin, though I’d have just let it hang there, I wouldn’t have used the name in the movie at all. End on THAT note and it’s much more satisfying, it feels like the ride was worth it. (It also echoes Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Falls ending, yes.)

That’s the kind of thing I mean. I know that sounds like “I’d have liked it better if I’d gotten to write it,” but what I’m trying to say is that there are lines you don’t cross in a Batman story or it stops being Batman, and I think Dark Knight Rises crossed them. If it hadn’t, we’d feel much more forgiving towards the rest of it. I don’t think it was on purpose, the way so many other critics and fans do– I don’t think Nolan was trying to subvert the myth or make a big statement or anything. My feeling is that his fundamental understanding of this kind of genre story is hopelessly flawed and that’s why the seams show more with each succeeding Batman movie he made. That’s my point.

@Chad: If you just posted the pictures and said “who are these people” then I don’t think it’s an accurate analogy. How many people could really be Batman who live in Gotham? They have to be right gender, height, build, skin color, age, etc. with a motivation to do that and the monetary resources. It couldn’t possibly be more than a couple of people with the right build, age, and money. So you’re not looking at Batman and saying “who is this?” You’re looking at him and saying “Is this Bruce Wayne?” If you only see a picture, even then you might not be sure. But anyone who’s spent any time with him to see how he carries himself, etc and who’s seen Bruce disappear when there’s danger and reappear after danger has ended would have to know that it’s him.

Oh, and Greg, my reaction was basically the same as yours. My date asked me what I thought when we got out, and I said something along the lines of “I liked it okay, but I wanted more Batman in my Batman movie.”

My take on Batman quitting was that he was no longer needed. When Gotham was corrupt, he needed to go outside the law to change things. Once they got the Dent Act and Batman takes the blame for the murders the police can function normally, and Batman would be more of a hindrance than a help to them because Gordon would be forced to waste resources chasing him. Only when another supervillain appears 8 years later does Batman need to come out of retirement because as any 5 year old will tell you need superheroes to fight supervillains. I know that it doesn’t fit with Batman of the comics, but it seems reasonable for the Batman of the Nolan movies.

I imagine that if Heath Ledger hadn’t died, this movie would have been more like the Dark Knight Returns with Batman returning from retirement for a final battle with his nemesis.

PB210 said: What about that scene where he summoned vermin by pressing a button on his boot? As much of a hat pull as Adam West’s gadgets if one wanted to make that criticism.

It’s a hat pull, but the movie’s not building huge plot points on top of it or making Batman’s sonic gadget a centerpiece of the themes and the narrative. I agree that comics are going to have unrealistic gimmicks in them, and movies based on them will follow suit, but the gimmick should be used carefully. If the themes are serious, they shouldn’t manifest in the narrative as an unwieldy gimmick; and certainly, that gimmick shouldn’t be endlessly discussed and detailed and defined.

Imagine the 1950s and 1960s-era comics if they’d not only said that Clayface’s mystic pool of protoplasm gave him his powers, but also set it up as a metaphor for the basically deceptive nature of humanity, oh, and also tied it into incipient DNA research, and also it’s going to blow up Gotham if Clayface isn’t stopped. That’s what DKRises does with the fusion generator, narratively and thematically, and that’s the problem. it’s not the tone, it’s the serious tonal mismatch and the repeated attention to plot magic rather than plot motion.

To add a terrible analogy, magic tricks don’t work when you forget to distract the audience from the real location of the switcheroo…let alone when you wave the switcheroo at them and shout about it. There are narratological reasons some 1960s superhero genre plot gimmicks, like, say, the Top’s world-destroying atomic grenade top, have gotten less charity from later readers than other bits of gimmickry like, say, Weather Wizard’s wand.

Nitz the bloody said: Agree strongly with Omar about the problems with Rises. Though I think the film took a clear political position– albeit against the Occupy movement.

I think it’s incoherent there, too. Daggett is the archetypal “corrupt 1%er,” and Bruce’s happy ending has him running off with Selina and outgrowing his love of conspicuous consumption…as well as abandoning his role as a Jerb Creator in Gotham. The movie is inconsistent from act to act in terms of where it wants audience sympathies to rest. It doesn’t ever seem to figure out whether or not Gordon’s lie was forgivable or not, for example, and that’s on the level of text rather than subtext. The subtext about Occupy and stock market-manipulating insiders like Dagget and the War on Terror is even less coherent to me. At a stretch, maybe it’s about the dangers of both aristocracy and Jacobinism, since it uses so much French revolutionary imagery…but that turns it into little more than a romantic piece whose values vacillate between classical liberalism and classical conservatism.

Bill Reed said: Nope, sorry, still loved it. Did it make sense for Bruce Wayne to have quit at the end of the previous film and holed up as a hermit, especially since the whole emotional arc of the last movie was to explicitly show why he’d never stop being Batman?

Well, sure, plenty of things are likable for some of us despite serious critical and structural problems, as Greg also points out. that’s the difference between personal taste and critical judgement.

But I think that means we should separate our opinions into taste and judgement. (Well, okay, Immanuel Kant thinks that, and while I don’t always agree with him on everything, his aesthetic theory provides a useful framework for this sort of discussion.) I totally understand someone saying that the film was structurally screwy but enjoyable, in the same way that some films are structurally brilliant but arid or distasteful to some viewers.

I wouldn’t say I forgive clumsy movies their structural deficits, I’d say I enjoy them personally despite those deficits. I’d hate to have to critically defend some of what I enjoy, and I’d hate for someone to demand that I enjoy some things I’d have to call brilliant by the standards of aesthetic criticism. (i’m not always successful separating these two levels of response, but I always, always try hard at it.)

DKRises definitely flatters the taste, if not the judgement, of Bat-fans. Many people like it when a genre film tips its hat to them, winking that, yes, they are in the know about NML and Bane’s comics debut and so forth? It takes our trivial knowledge of the comics and turns it into special knowledge that sets us apart from a general audience. We get to play the expert and nod knowingly and explain, oh, how we get to explain!

But being based on, even faithful to source material is not an aesthetic good. There’s bad source material, for instance, and there’s also the impact of slavish literalism in adaptation upon works separated by different media. Erich von Stroheim’s 9-hour film Greed is said to have included “every word, every comma” of Frank Norris’s novel McTeague, but Louis B. Mayer was probably right that no audience could sit through a 9-hou film the way they could read through a full novel. (He was wrong to punch von Stroheim and later destroy the excess footage, but that’s another debate.)

Bill Reed also said: I’m pretty sure I liked Dark Knight Rises more, because that movie was actually about something. More than one something, even.

But here, see, you’re making a critical aesthetic claim, one I’d want you to argue for and support with some details and ideas. Does your sense of the “somethings” it’s about make the film thematically coherent? Does it address any of the film’s less pleased critics and their critical assessments? Or is this a statement of taste — “i’m glad it made an effort to be topical AND i enjoyed spotting the real-life references” — dressed up as critical judgement — “The film is intelligently and cleverly topical, and makes a coherent statement about something”?

Hey Greg!

Re: Giligan’s Island & the boat, IIRC, the boat actually sinks as they try to repair it due to some Giligan snafu. The Professor couldn’t repair the hole, as the boat was actually destroyed.

At least i think that’s what i remember. Could have all be a fever induced hallucination for all i know.

” I think it’s incoherent there, too. Daggett is the archetypal “corrupt 1%er,” and Bruce’s happy ending has him running off with Selina and outgrowing his love of conspicuous consumption…as well as abandoning his role as a Jerb Creator in Gotham. The movie is inconsistent from act to act in terms of where it wants audience sympathies to rest. It doesn’t ever seem to figure out whether or not Gordon’s lie was forgivable or not, for example, and that’s on the level of text rather than subtext. The subtext about Occupy and stock market-manipulating insiders like Dagget and the War on Terror is even less coherent to me. At a stretch, maybe it’s about the dangers of both aristocracy and Jacobinism, since it uses so much French revolutionary imagery…but that turns it into little more than a romantic piece whose values vacillate between classical liberalism and classical conservatism. ”

Unfortunately, since Dagget hires Bane to do his dirty work (and gets away with it up until Bane turns on him), it makes him just another super-villain, so it’s hard to see him as an example of the corrupt 1%. It’s just like with Obadiah Stane in the first Iron Man movie, minus going on a scenery-chewing robot suit rampage. The issue in those movies is with one corrupt corporate guy, thus side-stepping the larger systemic issues behind class inequality. Meanwhile, Bane has a whole army of huddled masses going to the streets taking down the banks in the most terroristic and depraved ways possible; at least the terrorists in Iron Man, armed by singular corrupt corporate guy Obadiah Stane, represented a real-world faction that actually IS evil.

And while the Avengers allowed us to draw our own conclusions about Nick Fury’s position, the morality in Dark Knight Rises is completely black and white. Even the more complex characters end up just taking sides and totally reforming (in the case of Catwoman).

Another thing that tends to bug me in the “just go with it” stuff is when someone gains strength, or speed, or some odd power, and is able to utilize that ability almost instantly. If I got to be really strong, I’d still be a crap fighter because I never learned how to make a fist, really. Just because you’re really strong, doesn’t mean you’d be a really good fighter.

Carry on with the Bat movie conversation.

My favorite thing about this blog is that there are always guys way smarter than me capable of putting in to words what I cannot. Perhaps my wording was a bit strong in my previous post. I don’t know. The film still irks me. It was trying to be more than Batman and it sort of shot itself in the foot.

Spider-Man 3 comes to mind here. The movie tried to shoehorn in all sorts of crazy crap and failed pretty badly. It didn’t bother me as much as Dark Knight Rises, though. I think that’s because there was still a recognizable Spider-Man at the center of it. So…yeah.

nice opinion for that is the one thing about fiction and comics things like why is it that batman can build the batcave with out it getting wrecked by water and gueno and where the extra hulk mass goes when he changes back to bruce. does not need to even be addressed at all and readers really do not care for the answeres. espically when the extra mass of the hulk should really break banners bones and shatter his blood vessels. not to mention reid being elastic should really rip if some one bounces on him. plus the fact that all those characters seem to be able to not get arrested for being vigilanties

But being based on, even faithful to source material is not an aesthetic good. There’s bad source material, for instance, and there’s also the impact of slavish literalism in adaptation upon works separated by different media.

———————————————–Sterling example; pixie shoes and shaved legs on a sidekick.

at least the terrorists in Iron Man, armed by singular corrupt corporate guy Obadiah Stane, represented a real-world faction that actually IS evil.

—————————————————Of course, the sequel may reveal them as agent of the Mandarin, a derivative of Doctor Fu Manchu and Ming the Merciless.

But being based on, even faithful to source material is not an aesthetic good.

I don’t care if it’s faithful — look at how Watchmen: The Motion Picture still managed to suck– but Greg seems to, so I’m coming at this from his direction.

In Batman Begins, the protagonist was Bruce Wayne, and the story was how he chose to become the Batman. In The Dark Knight, the protagonist was Harvey Dent, and it was a tragedy of how even the best of us can be destroyed. In Dark Knight Rises, the protagonist was Batman– this is distinctive from it being Bruce Wayne. The third movie is about Batman as an idea, as a symbol, one that can turn men into heroes or create armies out of disparate forces. A symbol that is greater than a man, that overtakes him even in retirement, until he learns to pass it on.

The movie’s also the best horror movie of the 21st century, a real nightmare with a villain who uses society as a weapon. I don’t care if something is topical, per se, but I liked the way in which the movie commented on our modern fear of terrorism, our current economic depression, hell, it even through in some stuff with the Chilean miners. It all ties into the “Hope vs Fear”/”Why do we fall” thematic arc of the trilogy.

The script wasn’t quite as strong as Inception, which might be the best-structured movie ever made, but I think it gave the audience a lot to chew on. Also: explosions.

RE: SUPERMAN’S GLASSES – there once was (pre-Crisis) an in-story explanation that I tought made perfect sense. He didn’t just pop down to Lenscrafters for these babies, they were made with Kryptonian glass that could withstand his various vision-based powers. One of these powers was Super-Hypnotism (and yes, just go with it, you already accept that he can shoot laser beams out of his eyes) and the Kryptonian glasses helped to focus this ability, making Superman able to hypnotize those closest to him , his nearest and dearest – Jimmy, Lois, Perry, even Luthor – into rejecting the fact that Clark Kent and Superman looked incredibly alike. Once he became a broadcaster for Morgan Edge’s GBS News, the effect was magnified a thousand-fold, so that every viewer was thusly hypnotized into thinking that the one person Superman could definitely NO be was Clark Kent. I’ll refrain from making any inflammatory comments about DC Comics and their short-sighted mistakes over the 75 years of their history.

HOWEVER, Christopher Nolan’s Batman fims were terrible and were not Batman, as I know the character. In Batman Begins, he refuses to kill the bandit, starts a fight that engulfs the mountain strong-hold in flames and barely escapes with his life. The principled stand of a hero who won’t cross a moral line? No, the actions of a fool who condemned all the other prisoners (not to mention his enemies) to a horrible fiery death. In the Dark Knight, he cripples Carmine Falcone (who heals very quickly) by throwing him off a building. Fair enough – but Falcone is hale and hearty the very next time you see him. He doesn’t even have a limp, though both legs were shattered after a two or three story drop. THEN he spies on everyone in Gotham in an effort to find the Joker, in some bizarre “The Patriot Act saves lives, dammit!” bit of Deus Ex Machina. All the while, through the entire film, whining and questioning himself, “SHOULD I be Batman? Do we really NEED a Batman? Does it have to be me?” That’s not Batman. That’s Spider-Man. Nolan’s Batman was James Bond in a leather dress. Don’t even get me started on the Bat-Voice. (Lemme guess – that was Christian Bale’s idea, right?)

I haven’t seen the third film, as I absolutely hated the first two and out of respect for those who lost their lives because they wanted to enjoy some “mindless” fun. Also, I wouldn’t give DC Comics a nickel if you told me I could shoot it at Dan Didio’s eyeball.

If they get the emotional truth of the character right, I could care less about niggling pedantic detals. (Plot holes areanother matter entirely.)

One last thought – Captain America, Living Legend of WWII, went on a grand total of ONE MISSION. Batman fought exactly THREE menaces. For the purposes of story-telling in a Hollywood tent-pole picture, I can see why this is so. This is also why Easter eggs exist so that we can see, on a computer screen or tracking as they walk down a hallway, the names of other characters important to the mythos (Nigma, Cobblepot, Isley, Zsasz, etc). Nolan cherry-picked whatever he liked from thirty years of Batman comics (ONLY the “grim, dark grimdark” material apparently) and ignored the rest. And he said he’d never put Robin in one of his films. Go reboot James Bond, Mr. Nolan. And this time, no leather dress.

Sorry, I don’t accept “just go with it.” Yes, there are always things you have to accept as given in super-hero or science fiction stories. That makes it much more important to get the everyday details right. You’ve already asked the audience to accept certain implausibilites, and they’ve said yes. If you keep compounding those with other obvious plot holes and gaps in logic, eventually they will object, and you lose them.

Or to take it from another angle, somebody got paid a lot of money for this script. A little bit of research and some minor tweaking could have fixed the vast majority of the problems without changing the script too terribly much and could arguably have made it stronger. The fact that no one bothered to do that is, frankly, annoying. I feel the same way about any writing, whether movies, comics, or television. You’re getting paid to do a job, you should deliver your best effort. I didn’t see a lot of effort here.

I’m still waiting for someone to make a Batman movie with the real Batman. (The real Batman is a genius and a detective, not a super-hero or a psychopathic Dark Knight. The real Batman does not drive tanks across roof tops.)

The real Batman may never appear in a movie, because now even the comics no longer have the real Batman.

I don’t accept Daniel Craig as the real James Bond, either. Roger Moore was too goofy to be James Bond, and Daniel Craig is at the other extreme. But Sean Connery and Pierce Brosnan nailed the role, as did the underrated Timothy Dalton.

Greg, I absolutely agree, except that I’m a fan of the movie.

But it comes down to precisely what you mentioned. The basic character arc worked for me, so I forgive/overlook most of the flaws. (Two exceptions irrelevant for present purposes)

But I was with the movie when it needed me to be. When Bruce crawled out of the cave. When Alfred gave sentimental speeches. “I wanted more for you than that.” When Batman and Catwoman have melodramatic exchanges. “You don’t owe these people any more. You’ve already given them everything.”

Enough of the movie reminded me perfectly of what I love about superhero comics that everything else is secondary.

The movies that underwhelm or annoy me from the airplane’s view of the character arc are those where the details reinforce that.

Jake Earlewine

August 26, 2012 at 5:22 am

I’m still waiting for someone to make a Batman movie with the real Batman.

====================================================================================

Check upthread. Such a film came out in 1966. It starred Adam West.

Two things came to mind as I read your excellent piece, first: the line from the Mystery Science Theater theme when contemplating some of the more rational problems inherit in the show’s premise, “You should really just relax..and watch…”
The other thing is about the Hulk’s mass. About the only thing I retain from the Ang Lee Hulk film is the scene where Hulk returns to Banner form near the end. A pool of water flows away as he shrinks in size, which I saw as a nicely-understated way to show the lost mass. There’s no real reference to it in the movie but I thought it was a nice touch.

“Gilligan’s Island. (That one bothered me even when I was a kid… my generation wondered for years why in God’s name the Professor could make a bicycle-powered washer and dryer out of bamboo but he couldn’t patch the hole in the damn boat.)”

–Obviously, the Professor was secretly keeping them on the island in order to study it as a psychological experiment.

The Captain America comment, there was a whole montgage where Cap was on a bunch of missions, with the Howling Commandos.

The 90s Cap movie only had one mission and it was a huge failure. But I really liked how the current Cap was an actual hero of WWII.

DKR related, really suprised with all of the attorneys Warner Brothers have, they did not let a bankruptcy lawyer read over the finer details or even a stock market expert.

I’m still waiting for someone to make a Batman movie with the real Batman. (The real Batman is a genius and a detective, not a super-hero or a psychopathic Dark Knight.

Not a superhero?!

This is a meme that seems to come up a lot since post-2000, and it’s ridiculous. “The X-Men aren’t superheroes, they’re a mutant volunteer rescue team.” [Morrison’s New X-Men] “The Fantastic Four aren’t superheroes, they’re imaginauts.” [Waid’s FF].

Let’s quit this. They’re superheroes, and so is Batman. No need to make “superhero” into a dirty word.

A Horde of Evil Hipsters

August 28, 2012 at 1:06 am

Once again I’m just reacting to one aside in one comment, but…

Someone complained Daniel Craig just “isn’t Bond”. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard this, and always it baffles me. Craig (and Connery in his first two movies) are the only Bond actors who are playing the character James Bond _as he is in the novels_. If you aren’t using the original texts as your comparision point…well, might as well complain about Christian Bale not dancing the Batusi.

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