Wonder Woman in Man of Steel sequel - what I'm thinking.

OK – it’s official. Wonder Woman is coming to the big screen, played by Gal Gadot of Fast and Furious “fame” (I use the term loosely). I’ve already seen a thread on here that shows people aren’t exactly excited about this announcement. Personally – I’m a bit torn.

On one hand the movie “feels” crowded already. Batman and Superman are massive characters in their own right. Both have previously had successful franchises (the former more so than the latter) and given this is a Man of Steel sequel (at least officially) the expectation is this picks us up to allow character development and maturity and consequences from Man of Steel (especially THAT ending). My expectation was this would play off Batman – being the older, wiser, more seasoned “hero”. I couldn’t see Wonder Woman or any other hero character fitting within this film, at least with my own preconceived notions (which is a mistake on my part – I know). I have been hoping the rumour’s would prove to be false, but alas – it wasn’t meant to be; which now makes the other rumours seem all the more likely (a far scarier thought which I’ll come back to).

It also lends to the idea of “rushing” that people keep mentioning towards a JL film. Do we really need to force the trinity together all at once like this, in what is supposed to be a sequel to a solo character film and form part of that characters franchise? By putting 3 major heroes into a single film, it reduces the ability to develop any of those characters. In this universe, neither Batman nor WW have been established. We have no origins (not always necessary though), we have no character background or development – they’re going to be presented “as is” basically. Can anyone (as an audience member) really develop any kind of affection or connection with such big characters, without really getting the time to develop anything about the characters? I mean, Superman is fine (maybe) as we’ve seen him starting out and have a position to work with. Batman is probably ok too, since he’s big enough and popular enough and has the previous Nolan films to fill in origin and back story and give the audience a starting point (although this is a DIFFERENT Batman). But WW – she hasn’t had any of that. The character, as iconic as she is, isn’t the most “popular” in the comic book medium. There’s dozens of characters who are arguably more popular than she is realistically, and the CB community is a niche community anyway. General audiences are not made up of mostly comic book fans – they’re made up of people who know next to nothing about comic books. And they’re expected to accept WW straight off the bat like this.

On the other hand however – audiences are non-stop in their claims and desires for a WW film. For the last 2 or 3 years I’ve come across constant blogs and vlogs and comments saying “give us a WW film!!!!” I’m one of them – I’ve wanted to see WW on the big screen for years now. Here on CV it’s a very common statement “WB should make a WW film”. It could be viewed or argued that WB are just giving people what they actually want – WW on the big screen. There’s a flip-side to this – this isn’t a WW film – it’s a character in someone else’s film – but it’s a starting point. I guess the “Marvel are bringing a talking raccoon to the big screen and WB are too afraid to bring WW to the big screen” statements can finally be stopped.

There’s also the idea that this gives them the opportunity to introduce the character in a way that doesn’t require her to carry a film all on her own – something many industry critics, insiders and professionals have been unsure of and is the main idea behind why there hasn’t been a WW film before (also there’s genuine questions if the casting choice is capable of this too). If executed well, audiences are more likely to respond to the character in a solo film if they like her as part of a different franchise/film. Hulk is a good example of this – a character who hasn’t managed to get a solo franchise to work – but is easily one of the most popular characters within the Avengers film, which has led to a shift at Marvel that is making them think about how they want to use him in the future. Instead of trying and failing at WW (i.e. Green Lantern) they can bring her into something millions of people are going to watch anyway, get the audience to like and enjoy the character and then give a solo film a better shot at being received well. If she doesn’t work out – then they know and will re-think her moving forward – without the risk of a box office failure (or at least less risk).

This also adds a further boost to the initial reception for the film. I mean now that The Trinity is going to appear together – not just the top 2 – how much more epic does this film potentially become? How many people are going to be like “well… this is interesting – I’m gonna have to check this out”. I already believe Superman/Batman was generating enough interest to make it a massive hit at least in it’s opening weekend – but this move that adds even MORE controversy and interest will pretty much guarantee (at least barring any unforeseen problems) a monumental opening weekend at least. The film may be terrible and get panned which will affect its over-all success – but at least when it initially opens – I can’t see many people not at least being curious.

So I believe there are pro’s and con’s to the move over-all, and that in part (again just what I BELIEVE) is WB moving to cater to the pandering of audiences from the last few years at least. The thing with the second part there though is – that’s what Sony did with Spider-Man 3. They tried to give everyone what they wanted – and it failed. It was a Box Office success – no question – but it was panned by critics and ended up getting the franchise rebooted. There was too much happening in Spider-Man 3 (TASM 2 I will point out has gone to 3 villains as well – so that’s another interesting move – but off topic here). Having 3 of the world’s most well known iconic comic book characters (arguably the 3 most well known and iconic in fact) in one film is a BIG task, and is fraught with risk of not giving any of them enough time to really do anything valuable with them. I mean it’s not fair to the character of WW to relegate her to just another background character – she HAS to take centre stage to an extent – but then how does that allow for Batman and Superman to get the limelight as well?

Now let’s assume the other rumours are also true – and we’re going to see Nightwing and Doomsday. Unless this film is going to be like 4 hours long – how the hell do you fit all that in, in a way that is cohesive and allows for proper character and story development, doesn’t feel like it’s everything just being mashed up together for the sake of it (a la Spider-Man 3) and is entertaining, has good pacing, etc… And where is Luthor – the villain everyone expects and wants to see here?

I admit to having initial concerns when Batman’s inclusion was announced – but I gained perspective and decided to reserve judgement. That isn’t changing. I’m still withholding judgement. However I’m also thinking about this more than a healthy amount and it concerns me that we’ll end up with another Spider-Man 3 as opposed to a TDK.

It’s early days still – official shooting hasn’t quite begun (they’re prepping locations now if some rumours are to be believed, and yes – I know they shot the Metropolis VS Gotham football game not too long ago – but official shooting actually hasn’t begun). We still know next to nothing about the film officially. There’s no posters, no teasers, no trailer to go off. We’ve still got about 18 months before the film actually comes out – at which point all questions will be answered. But that won’t stop us speculating and won’t stop the rumours (remember the rumour Doomsday was in the Man of Steel based on photos from the Smallville fight shoot?) and the discussions.

So there it is – what do you think? Are you happy they’re bringing WW to the big screen finally? Are you annoyed that she isn’t getting a solo film straight away? Do you like the casting choice (I’m really unsure how I feel about this at the moment)? Do you hate this fact because it’s stealing the limelight from Superman in what is supposed to be HIS film? Do you share my concerns or think WB and Snyder and everyone else involved knows exactly what they’re doing?

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Superman Game Play/Design Ideas

Ok so these are my ideas on game play elements to make a good (well IMO AMAZING) Superman game. I believe next gen consoles would be required to pull off most of this, or high-end gaming PC’s because of the sheer processing and rendering power required. NOTE: This is not about the story or specific people/things to fight – that’s another idea all together. These are the game play ideas to make the experience itself.

1. The Environment

standard game play:

So one of the biggest issues everyone seems to point to is that Superman’s “world” is pretty much exactly that – a world. Having a game set in Metropolis for example really limits your ability to experience “being” Superman. One of the things that I believe makes the Arkham games so amazing is the game play is designed with making you feel like you ARE Batman and the environment is a big part of that. The thing is, when you’re a super-powered alien who can fly anywhere in seconds or minutes, the standard sandbox environments of games are a problem – you shouldn’t have a boundary. Sandboxes work for games with characters who are relatively humanoid in abilities because let’s face it – walking or running everywhere means you’re not going to just pick a direction and run in that direction for hours on end doing absolutely nothing as a player – which means the environment can genuinely still be “limited” from the game engines perspective. It can have a constantly fading horizon and just continuously generate that horizon without too many issues. On the other side, Batman’s whole thing as a human is that you’re either in Arkham Asylum or Arkham City only, both of which are inherently enclosed environments and limit where you can and can’t go – can’t speak to Origins as I haven’t played it.

This doesn’t work for Superman. If I’m Superman I want to fly anywhere I want. I want to be able to fly and go from Metropolis to the Fortress in a matter of minutes at super-speed. It’s a part of who the character is. Flying in the games is always crap. You never feel fast enough and you don’t really get anywhere that quickly. They put boundaries in place to stop you from leaving the atmosphere or to keep you in Metropolis. I believe with next-gen consoles that can be changed. Put a map of the world into the game engine and have it generate scenery and buildings etc… based on where you geographically are. If I want to fly to China – I can literally fly to China and see China. I’m not saying this is easy – but it would be amazing. For the most part anywhere you go – there isn’t anything you can do, this limits the need to really put too much thought into it. With Google maps and things, I’m sure they can get it to generate buildings and sizes and everything fairly realistically, just not overly interactive.

This game sucked pretty bad, but it wasn't too bad for shots like this. Basically though let me fly anywhere, with Metropolis divided into sections, (like the slums, the CBD, etc...) and if I fly up like this - it doesn't take 5 minute for me to fly back to the city.

Failing that (and much more feasible) – hitting a boundary automatically transports you to another playable location, or at least lets you choose another location. So anyone played games like the Assassin’s Creed games? They are set usually across multiple cities and when you hit say a boundary or gate to the next location, it cuts and then you’re there. Superman could use a similar premise. You fly up towards space – instead of it suddenly stopping you flying upwards it lets you go into space and you can see the Sun and moon and watchtower in the distance. If you fly towards the sun – suddenly you’re in front of the sun. You fly towards the moon – you go to the moon. You fly towards the Watchtower – you go to the Watchtower. Back in Metropolis, if you fly to a city boundary – you find yourself in the Arctic at the Fortress (which you can enter). See what I mean? Star Labs, Cadmus, etc… can all be locations within Metropolis anyway and are findable on a map if need be and entered and interacted with, no different to the Arkham games. If you’re going with choosing a location, a map tool comes up with say Metropolis, Smallville, The Fortress and maybe one or two other locations on it to choose from. Either way you can go to other locations.

Additional Gameplay:

A screen similar to this where you can rotate the world and see highlights of things for you to do would be awesome

Ok so this is where being “Superman” takes on an even bigger scale. Outside main game play and the story environments a “World” mode should exist where you can see different things happening all over the world, such as terrorist activities or natural disasters that you can respond to. Simply have a map with selectable items on it and you begin the “mission”. This can then allow you to generate other locations and cities and have additional hero achievements and things (which I’ll get to later).

These two things combined will then give the experience a truly global feel and allow the player to feel more immersed as the character, not feeling random limitations, or having pointless boundaries in place that stop you leaving a location when really, Superman shouldn’t be bound. You can still restrict the environments a character can access, but without it feeling like it’s limited.

2. Powers:

Is something like this so hard to develop so you can access all the various powers?

This is another area where it can get tricky. Superman has a pretty vast array of powers. Again – if I’m limited in my powers, I won’t feel like I’m Superman. Batman has gadgets and these get a pretty fair showing in the Arkham games. But not all of them are necessary at all times and some are only functional when they need to be really. I believe his powers should be applied in the same way. Speed, strength and flight are stock standard and always there. Vision powers, super hearing, freeze and super breath (to name a couple) on the other hand aren’t always needed. Have a “powers” wheel (like a gadgets wheel or weapons wheel) where you as the player can mount and switch out powers as you want to. This could even be relevant and vary depending on what “mode” you’re in. Let me explain.

Enabling super-vision would be similar to this idea here - although with WAAAYYYYY more things to chose from to see

If you’re in normal mode – you can select heat vision, super breathe or freeze breath for arguments sake. But then you have a separate “mode” which is “super vision” mode. In this you can then see the world through x-ray vision, or select other aspects of the electromagnetic spectrum, such as infrared. I envisage this being like enabling eagle vision in Assassin’s creed, or detective mode in the Arkham games. So the “powers wheel” switches your options from being super-breath to a different vision type. To get even more full-on – you could also combine “modes” in certain situations when it’s relevant, by say combining x-ray (part of being in super-vision mode) and microscopic vision and heat vision (not part of super-vision mode itself) to perform a really precise bit of heat vision to something (like what he does to Manchester Black for example). Some power combinations will work – others won’t based on what they require and their relevance to each other. So while heat vision can be applied with microscopic precision, freeze breath can’t.

Let's see the ability to do both of these and everything in-between and then some...

Also, while thinking about heat vision – have different “modes” or techniques in which it can be applied. Everything from a pinpoint beam to a widespread, all encompassing ray. This can be done a couple of different ways in my mind, either having pre-set types of heat vision that can be selected on the power-wheel and swapped out and around as wanted, or by using button combinations between the analogue sticks, triggers and the actual attack button – whatever is easiest during game-play.

Notice the blurring and warping of other things in the surroundings... THAT

Another power that needs to be done properly is the application of super-speed. Here I would have 3 (well technically 4) speed types. You can walk or run at a normal speed just by moving the analogue stick in any direction. When a “sprint” button is pressed at the same time – his speed increases to a super speed – which visually I envisage having an effect like in the Need For Speed Underground games when you used your nitro boost. Suddenly the world around you starts to look weird and stretched out to give that visual effect of moving fast. You then have an additional option of “light speed”, by pressing a trigger (for the time being). This one can’t be used excessively due to it draining power, BUT once in this mode everything around you basically freezes. The sprint mode can be used to move between locations quickly, the “light-speed” serves a different function – battles and rescues.

With Super-hearing this can be like sorting through frequencies ranges in the Arkham games with that hacking tool. Basically the camera position changes and you could say zoom into his ear or something and then fine-tune through massive amounts of sound to pick up specific things, such as someone crying out for help, gunshots, etc… which would add locations to your map, or if it’s necessary within mission will point you to the location of what you need to do next, or reveal details of a conversation you need to spy on. I also imagine at least one fighting scenario where someone is trying to use stealth and surprise attacks, whereby some indicator comes up on screen to warn you about enemy location or something.

3. Fighting:

Ok so while I’m not going to put any ideas about what type of enemies he should fight – when he is fighting one thing I think should be there is the ability to target and run combos on them. Think of Faora when she takes out like a bunch of military guys by speed blitzing between them and you’ll have an idea of what I mean here. You use a multiple target locking system and by pressing the buttons at the right timing he starts a chain linked attack from one to the next. You miss a button, it breaks the attack and leaves you open. You get it right you take down like 6 enemies one after the other. So the light speed movement thing sort of comes into play but combined with a reverse sprint too. Imagine this there’s 4 bad guys sort of arranged around the character – you get the target locks and press whatever button is necessary to begin the sequence – he blitzes immediately to the first target (like Faora does in MoS) then suddenly everything goes slow-mo so you can see the actual hit – in this time a button flashes on screen which you have to hit – if you hit the wrong button or miss the timing, his attack misses and the combo is broken and you’re open to a counter attack. However if you get it right – he hits the opponent with a bone-crunching hit (you could even get close-ups of it with the camera quickly zooming in, showing a partial x-ray vision of a bone snapping/shattering etc… then going back to normal) and then time speeds up and he quickly blitzes across to the next opponent, and it repeats this until the chain is complete or you stuff up.

Get some close-ups happening like this sort of stuff from Mortal Kombat - although not with the same level of violence - this is Superman after-all.

I also think the fight engine should include some decent level of martial arts hits – not just basic “left hook, upper-cut” punches. I’m not saying have him fight like Batman – but something that at least looks good and interesting and cool. Depending on where the enemies are position wise, he might spin around and connect with a backward elbow to one guy, then follow up straight away by continuing around and a straight jab, grab him and throw him into another enemy and move onto a third enemy – I’m guessing you know what I mean. All I’m saying is – make it look interesting and more skillfull than they normally would.

Of course, just like Batarangs – you can also unleash heat vision or freeze breath or super-breath from the power-wheel against your opponents.

4. Side Missions:

Ok so while you’re going around doing your thing, other things can pop up at different times. These may be due to you seeing something on screen, or hearing something – which you can then choose to complete as a side mission, probably something I’d call “Acts of Heroism”. These can be all sorts of things such as putting out a fire, stopping a robbery, catching a thief, etc… To add to the importance of these, I would also add in a Karma effect, whereby the more of these you accomplish, the more the Metropolis citizens accept you. If you ignore everyone in need of help however, they turn on you and don’t trust you anymore, and will actually get in your way at times, yelling at you, throwing things at you etc… These can be where light-speed gets useful as well, as you can basically freeze time to ensure you can swoop in and save that person from getting hit by a car or stopping a bullet mid-flight from hitting someone. As I said though the light-speed thing is a burst thing and can’t be used continuously. And the more you use it, the faster it drains your energy levels (in my way of doing this, you don’t have a health bar – you have an energy bar, which if depleted, causes you to lose consciousness – you can’t actually “die” though, at least not most of the time).

On top of these are the “world” missions I mentioned earlier. These would replace the typical “time trial” stuff these games tend to include (fly through the markers in the time-limit crap for example). Instead of doing useless things, you go to different locations and save people from natural disasters or other calamities different to what’s happening in the core locations like Metropolis. These can be used as a way of improving your skills with certain power types (as some abilities will be more useful in different situations) and the more you do them, the more powerful you become with the targeted ability or skill. These can initially even be how you unlock certain skills (such as combining vision types). So for example, in order to stop a hurricane, you need to first navigate your way into the eye of the storm and then create an opposing vortex or something. By doing this you save a coastal city in Japan. In doing so it tests your flying skills (making you as the player better at controlling him in flight so you don’t crash into stuff) and adds an ability to create a vortex, usable later in the game or can be added to the power wheel.

5. Interactions:

InFamous's Karmic meter - a similar concept to what I think could be implemented here - could be tied to the story as well, possibly.

Basically you should be able to interact with all aspects of the environment. If it’s an object – you can pick it up, even if that means ripping it out of the ground. If it’s a big heavy thing like a car – you can throw it. If it’s something like a lamp post – you can hit things with it. If something is falling – you can catch it. You can pick up people or catch them when they’re falling. Also – if you fly INTO something – you don’t stop or get knocked about – IT gets broken or smashed or bent – you basically go through it. This includes smashing through building walls and roofs too. Now – this is dependent on the speed you’re moving to an extent. If you’re just normally walking, then no – but if you’re in a super-speed yeah – you fly into that building by accident – you literally fly INTO that building, making a mess as you do. This also has impacts on the karma aspect from earlier – if you basically just go around destroying everything regardless of anything – then there’s consequences for that. People won’t like you. Now in-story-main-mission fights (like boss battles basically) are more forgiving in this aspect, without Karma consequences. The basic premise is that the area you’re fighting in will be evacuated most of the time and so you can cut-loose when it’s called for. But just during standard gameplay or free roaming – no. You need to be careful and not just ruin the city. When it comes to people you can talk to anyone – although not always get any real discussion or information out of it (I used to be an adventurer like you, but then I took an arrow to the knee), but key characters will allow proper discussion. And here’s the thing – sometimes you’re NOT Superman. Sometimes you’re Clark Kent. Also – the world around you should be somewhat realistic in its interactions too. People don’t just randomly walk in and out of closed doors. If someone enters a building – they open a door and walk through and close it. Day and night happen, time is relative to what’s happening in game however. So for example if you’re free roaming it will transition from day to night. If you’re in a mission, especially one with a time limit – it won’t. And some things can only be accessed or missions occur during the day and some only at night.

6. Online/Multiplayer:

Yep – I envisage a multiplayer aspect to the game – but it’s NOT as Superman. Instead this would be titled “War of Krypton” and would see you and other players being soldieries in the Kryptonian military fighting for Krypton against some sort of enemy force. This then isn’t a super-powered based thing BUT instead is more combat based incorporating guns and hand-to-hand skills etc… in set map locations. You get mission objectives depending on the map (some have players against each other, some are working together as a team against AI) under the command of General Zod. You can add a story element to it but mostly it’s just so you and friends can join up and play together online doing something different. This increases the games longevity for obvious reasons. Think of something like a mini COD game basically (or any other online-multiplayer war type game).

7. Challenge Mode:

So these are challenges such as survival challenges (fight increasing waves of enemies until you run out of energy), or locate challenges (find hidden objects/bombs in a certain time limit) and the like with a 1, 2, or 3 shield rating depending on how well you do. Relevant locations could include the Watchtower or Fortress and could take place in training simulators for example – all depending on what it is. They’re purely there for achievement purposes and just add another aspect of game-play and re-playability, and much like the ones in the Arkham games, the better you are in these, generally the better you are as an in-game player anyway.

8. Achievements & Unlockables:

Ok so with the scope of game I’m talking about, LOTS of achievements could be attainable. There’s the obvious things like completing certain amounts of Acts of Heroism and rescuing a certain number of citizens. You could chuck it ones like beating X amount of enemies or completing certain missions in a certain time-limit. The world wide side-missions as well would have relevant achievements and the challenge modes would provide certain achievements. In addition to these you could also have things hidden around the in-game environments that unlock things – like finding the Riddler symbols in Arkham. Instead of Riddler symbols – have them be pieces of some Kryptonian artefacts, which once fully collected unlock something like the ability to build a phantom zone projector, or to re-build your ship from when you were a baby, etc… Artefacts and things you collect are stored in a museum in the Fortress too – so at any time you can go to them and find out about them etc… building up the Fortress as you go and expanding knowledge of the character’s background and history. Also achievements unlock things like artwork, video clips and animations etc… These are also able to be posted online, shared over social networks and rankings can exist for various scores and achievements you’ve managed to complete between the main game modes, the challenge modes and the multiplayer stuff.

9. Controls, Camera & everything else:

I envisage this as a 3rd person view, with the ability at times to jump to 1st person, when it’s needed. The left analogue stick controls movement, the d-pad is the power wheel. Pressing start gives you the pause menu and select could do something too, not sure what yet (probably bring up a map). The right analogue stick controls the camera by default. The four buttons would do actions. 1 for attack, one for jump (long press to start/finish flying), one to interact (talk, open, push, pick-up) and the other to switch view modes (transition between normal vision and sup-vision). The triggers would then allow further functionality. Thinking in terms of a L1, L2, and R1, R2 set up: L1 – print/super-speed. L2- brings up the power wheel/s so you can move and swap out what’s available for quick-selection via the d-pad. R1 could be to do a power combine action, R2 could be the way to start a combo. L3 could be to do something and R3 could be something else. To be honest This is a really long post and I can’t think straight any more. Maybe one is the transition between camera angles and the other could be how to control the heat vision precision/modes if it’s not done via pre-sets in the power-wheel.

This is how you recover your energy levels when they're almost depleted basically - then shoot back to Earth

As I said I don’t think there should be a health bar – you should basically be invincible. However you do have an energy bar, which is depleted based on attacks (as it uses power to heal damage and to resist attacks) and how you’re using your powers (such as heat vision and super-speed). If you go too full-on with heat vision for example you’ll burn through your available energy faster. In times of doing nothing (such as just walking or running around normally, not getting hit by anything etc…) your energy bar replenishes itself, unless there’s a reason it can’t relevant to the story/mission (maybe you've been poisoned by green K or you’re fighting a magic user) and this happens much faster in sun-light. If you “lose” this basically comes off as you getting too weak to continue fighting and you shoot off immediately and re-charge in front of the sun – this obviously replenishes you immediately and gives you a slight over-boost when you resume game-play (kind of like sun-dipping). As you progress through the game your available energy increases, and the amount of energy depleted decreases as you improve your skills with your powers. Basic actions however such as running and jumping and punching don’t deplete energy. I can’t decide if flight should or not to be honest – I think it would be too annoying if it did, so I’d go with normal flight, no it doesn’t – but if you’re flying at super-speed or light-speed, it does as per their requirements when you’re on the ground too. Special attack movements do as well, such as let’s say grabbing someone and speed blitzing them up to space and then punching them back down (a la Injustice) would use energy. It’s a special attack. Basic fighting combos however won’t as that would make challenge modes and survival fights near impossible. I’d also say that some controls and buttons functions adjust depending on what is happening. For example in the middle of a fight you don’t want to randomly start flying and lose track of your opponents – so this would adjust its accessibility, similarly when you’re not fighting you don’t want to be randomly targeting things, so whatever button (let’s say R2) acts as a target lock during a fight, is instead how you enable super-hearing to locate things when not in a combat scenario. So the buttons I listed earlier would adjust depending on what is happening in game right then.

Other than story and villain ideas, and actual game design – I think that covers everything…. Damn it this is way longer than I thought it would be when I started typing.

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Thor: The Dark World Review (minor spoiler alert, kind of)

Ok, I’ll do my best to keep spoilers to a minimum and at the end – that way anyone who doesn’t want anything spoiled can still get an idea of my thoughts, and anyone who has seen it or doesn’t care can see what I thought in full… And just in case I’ll use spoiler block things too…

If that makes any sense… Either way, I’m gonna start with the “bad” for the film.

I’m a fan of the MCU so far – maybe not as much as some – but I do thoroughly enjoy it. The first Thor film I thought was great and was pretty excited about the sequel. I thought it had a great trailer and considering how good Avengers was, I had high hopes. And perhaps that was a problem. You see, while I still enjoyed the movie – it fell a little flat in a few areas for me. First off it faced the same problem as many sequels do – it’s not as good as the first film. This isn’t always the case, but more often than not a sequel just never seems to be as good as the previous movie, and sadly Thor: The Dark World was no exception to this.

Maybe it’s because there’s nothing “new” to be seen with regard to the main cast or hero. Maybe it’s because the 1st film was so mind-blowingly amazing, nothing could live up to it. The reasons can vary depending on the film – and in this case I think it might have been a combination of the films the preceded it (namely Thor and The Avengers) and the fact it doesn’t feature any new developments or growth for the main characters.

Without giving anything away we see the return of the primary cast of the 1st film, minus any frost giants. Odin, Sif, Volstagg, Heimdall, Fandrall return from the Asgardian’s; while Mitgard again provides Jane Foster, Darcy and Dr Erik Selvig. There’ s a couple of new faces for some support purposes, but largely if they were in the 1st one, they’re here again without any real change. This thankfully includes Tom Hiddleston as Loki (I’ll get to him later). Basically this equates to – “been there, done that”. There’s nothing new to see here and the few new characters they do introduce do nothing more than either provide room for an extra gag or two (because you know, everyone is a cynical smartass or wise guy in the face of world wide destruction or even weird paranormal phenomena), or serve a plot point for a moment then are gone again (one in particular is painfully obvious in this sense).

What makes it even more of a let down on this front is they don’t even use this as an opportunity to try and develop any of these characters further. They literally do the exact same things and probably share similar screen time to their original iterations from Thor. There’s absolutely no attempt to make these characters more involved in any way. We also see a display of the Asgardian military seemingly completely unable to win any battle without the almighty Thor, which begs the question – how good are they really? This happened at the beginning of Thor and is basically repeated in a similar way this time around. They make a very minor and subtle attempt to push Sif into the film more, by providing an opening for a love interest between the two – which personally I would be fine with – however it never goes anywhere and seems to be completely forgotten by about half-way through the movie, Sif once again being pushed to the back of the film and getting no screen time.

poor Sif....

The film also starts with a fair bit of narrated exposition from Odin, which is necessary because without it – you’d have absolutely no idea what is going on….. except for when they re-explain it all again later in the film for the benefit of Thor and Jane Foster. So yeah – this was a bit of a miss in my book too. It’s not horrible and doesn’t really come off badly done – but it does give the entire film a quality as if it’s a story being told after the fact. Except that it isn’t. This is the most recent events. Perhaps with a different voice, or just leaving it out entirely it would have worked better. Still show the scenes and include in-scene exposition so the audience can follow – but having it narrated, and by Odin especially, sets a tone for the film which doesn’t make sense – if you let yourself focus on it anyway. It also potentially provides contradiction later in the film – but again, I don’t want to spoil anything yet.

Another area where I felt really let down was in the CGI. I may just be fussy, but considering what some studios are capable of – I have pretty high expectations. I don’t believe the production budget has been made public as yet, but I’ll be surprised if this wasn’t in the $220+ million arena. Now obviously the film will have heavy CGI, thanks to the need to literally create an entire world, and similar to the 1st film it looks awesome in the right scenes. Scenery is difficult to make look “real” when it’s a completely other world look, so I have no real complaints here. Instead it’s minor things. For example – Mjolnir. Obviously a real prop when being handled, at different times it’s replaced out for obvious reasons with a CGI hammer. The thing is – you can pretty much tell when that happens. Now, I know logically that a hammer can’t be shot flying through the air into someone or thing or changing direction mid flight and return to the thrower. But I don’t want it to be so plainly obvious either. I don’t want it to be so visible to my eyes. But that’s what this gave me. In some instances the CGI looks almost cartoony. Then there is just a really bad green scene towards the end of the film which I found really distracting – which was made worse by the fact it’s supposed to be a strong emotional scene between Thor and Odin. Instead I’m staring at the screen in disbelief thinking “how in 2013 on a movie this big, does it look like Superman IV: A Quest for Peace?” Yes, that scene is that bad and ALL of you will spot it. The cartoony affect happens with Thor himself too – when he gets hit and is sent flying through the air for example – the movement is just not right and comes off as plainly animated. It reminded me of the 1st Harry Potter movie, where Neville or Harry or whoever it was is trying to fly and ends up crashing all over the roof of Hogwarts? It looks somewhat cheap – which when considering how big the film is, and the size of the over-archiving franchise it’s a part of – it just shouldn’t.

Now – I know this is a review of Thor, but Man of Steel has to be brought up – as there is some obvious influences. Firstly – they make a point of trying to show a more power based fighting element with big hits and Thor and others being sent flying and crashing into hills and things, much like the fight sequence between Superman and Zod (although without the level of destruction to buildings and potential citizens). This to me seemed like a direct response to some of the criticisms I’ve seen around here on CV, basically saying that movie Thor just isn’t portrayed powerfully enough. In addition to that keep a close eye on some of the villain equipment – it has a Kryptonian vibe to it I felt, which again, just came off badly. It’s not badly done, it just detracted from the film for me – coming off like it was trying to match up to Superman since you know – they’re both kind of god-like heroes in competing franchises/studios/universes. Also considering how applauded MoS was for its visual effects, this isn’t surprising that they might want to lend some of those elements to give similar feel to the power we’re talking about in this movie. It’s not a bad thing, but IMO, if you’re going to do it – do it right. Don’t attempt and then not quite get there – which is how this came off. It just never looked “as good” and so it then works against the film in my mind.

Ok – minor spoiler alert here. Speaking of power – the villain raises a whole different problem for the film/s. I’m pretty sure everyone knows the villain is Malekith. He is basically portrayed as the bad of the bad and as powerful as he appears at the start of the film – he gets way more powerful by the end. I mean – Avenger’s level powerful. That is literally how strong and dangerous the situation seems by the films climax – and yet Thor handles it, without any Avengers assists in any way. What makes it even more confusing in terms of how powerful Thor is supposed to be – earlier in the film he is shown fighting an enemy who is clearly not supposed to be as powerful or strong as the primary villain – yet he gets his a@@ handed to him in an unbelievable fashion. I mean – down-right pummelled into the ground. Barely puts up a fight in fact.

And while I’m talking about this – the final battle takes an army of beings that are supposed to be almost impossible to beat – a threat so great that the entire Asgardian army wouldn’t be able handle them, and turns them into a walking punchline. I mean, I’m all for adding some humour to these films (in fact it’s an absolute necessity to make them enjoyable), but it totally removes the level of menace and threat from the end of the film. At no point while I was watching the end battle sequence did I think anything bad was going to happen. To anyone. At all. They even make a strong point of showing that no bystanders get hurt during all this. It came off as an over the top reaction to go “see! No disaster porn here! No innocent bystanders getting hurt in this alien-invasion-cross-9-realm-universe-wide-apocalypse.” I mean these villains are supposed to be threatening every realm in existence, and throughout the film are shown to be a worthy adversary for the Asgardians – a genuine threat. But during the end, a few humans are able to turn it into something of a Benny Hill chase sequence. There was one spot where literally they are being chased around and around this one area by these aliens, who for some reason don’t attempt to shoot them, and when they have the opportunity to cut them off with a separate group of aliens – they end up running around behind them as well.

Back to Thor – he’s fighting the big bad, and even though he was getting pummelled in the previous scene (literally it’s like 5 minutes earlier) he’s now going toe-to-toe with a guy who I’m asked to believe is powerful enough to bring darkness to all 9 realms and totally destroy everything as we know it? Really? Internal logic people – has no one at Marvel heard of this?

Ok – that’s the bad. Now the good.

The performances were top notch. Chris Hemsworth is a brilliant Thor and really shows some great emotion in this film thanks to some certain scenes. He looks the part, has totally gotten the character, and while none of the support cast really get to develop – you really feel like Thor has grown and matured, especially by the end of the film. He’s a true hero, worthy of Mjolnir and even ruling Asgard.

Then there is Tom Hiddleston. I realised while watching this movie that he completely makes these films work. Without him and his portrayal of Loki – Thor, Avengers and The Dark World here would have been so much worse. After the film my girlfriend even commented she think she likes him even more than Chris Hemsworth – which trust me, is a big deal. The two of them together are great and show the sibling aspect brilliantly. Paired up they make this film way better than it actually was, and one scene in particular almost moved me to tears – which again is a big deal. I simply can NOT fault their performances.

Everyone plays their respective characters well though – which is good to see. While I may have had issue with some of the characters roles – this is no fault of the actors, and the job they were hired to do – they all do an excellent job of.

These guys really do make these films worth while. And I know all film is subjective, yadda, yadda - but anyone who doesn't love Tom Hiddleston is an idiot.

With the exception to the ending of the film – the actual plot is also great. Even the ending is good (although not well executed) in terms of how they resolve the issue from a plot perspective – but it does rely a bit on some PIS – but hey – it’s a CBM. You can’t make a CBM without PIS.

I loved the villain and found him to be satisfyingly bad and powerful over-all – especially as someone who has no idea who he is, which I would suggest is going to be the majority of the audience. It proves you can make a great villain without knowing who he is at all.

Analytically, the pacing was good, I never got bored as such or felt like the film lost momentum; the score suited well and the humour (while a bit over-played and to the detriment of the finale) was genuinely funny, and felt more natural than, say, IM3. And while I had gripes with some of the SFX, the Asgard scenes are once again breath-taking. I also enjoyed the fact this film was set more on Asgard and the other realms than Earth.

There was one scene that over-all saved the film for me and allows it to be a film I will recommend to everyone. Again minor spoiler stuff here. Thor and Loki interact in such an amazing way when it comes down to the crunch between the two as far as being brothers go. I don’t want to give anything away – but basically, thanks to events and Loki stepping up as a good guy, the actions he takes kind of adds some finality for the two of them – basically put up or shut up as far as being brothers goes. In doing this they show a brotherly bond and really pull at your heart strings. Without this scene , the movie would be passable, but thanks to this scene I left feeling very satisfied, despite all the earlier issues I had with the film.

Over-all it’s a solid film as far as sequels go. It’s not amazing or brilliant by any standards, but it is a good time and worth watching, especially if you are fan of the franchise, character or MCU in general. It’s far from perfect, and certainly doesn’t live up to The Avengers – but I’m guessing the box office will see a nice boost thanks to Avengers fame and linking to the over-all MCU. Also look out for a cool cameo appearance, and in case you hadn’t heard – there is 2 end credit scenes…. Again (which kind of makes me want to tell Marvel to go screw themselves- I hate sitting though all those credits for something that’s barely important….stupid Schwarma scene). Also, just as an FYI – I saw it in IMAX 3D, and basically didn’t think it was worth it. The 3D for me didn’t add anything, so you can skip that extra charge unless you like to waste money for no good reason.

If I had to give it a rating, I’d say it’s a 3-3.5 stars out of 5. Out of 10 – I guess I’d go 6.5, considering Thor sits at a 7-7.5 and Avengers for me is an 8-8.5.

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A World Without Superman

Well, here I am again prattling on about my favourite character. As sure as I am everyone is sick and tired of hearing me talk about the big blue boy scout, I simply just can’t help myself. Simply, if you don’t care what I have to say, you can always choose not to read it. Thankfully we all have that choice.

This time I got thinking about what would have happened if Superman had never existed. Imagine a world WITHOUT Superman…

For some of us, this would simply be an unacceptable existence (certainly for myself). But many probably wouldn’t care, right? Then again…

I’ve been guilty of levelling the statement that the Superhero genre as we know it wouldn’t exist without Superman. I recognise Superman as the first, the original and undisputed champion of Superheroes, influencing all who came after in one way or another.

Recently I’ve come across a couple of forum discussions (usually a bit dated) about whether or not Superman was indeed the 1st Superhero. Surely there is nothing new under the sun and Superman is not the exception right?

Well, indeed there were heroes and vigilante crime-fighters in advance of Superman – even within comic strips – well prior to 1938. Some of the names that get thrown around by the more historically minded are The Shadow, The Phantom, Dr Occult and a few others. While it is true they pre-date Superman’s creation, they were considered “crime-fighters”, or detectives in pre-existing genre’s of fiction and comics. In fact one of the only ones with a potential claim is Doctor Occult (created interestingly enough by Shuster and Siegel as well) since he had some psychic powers.

Some of the older, more original heroes that pre-date the Man of Steel. Shadow is credited as having powers, however it was only in his TV/Radio incarnations, never int he comics. Doctor Occult fit an existing mold of characters that utilised magic or hypnosis type powers - mystics and magicians were quite popular.

At the time, as is my understanding (since I wasn’t to be alive for another half century at least), magic and supernatural characters were something of the rage. However at no time were they considered “super human”. They were ordinary men. All of them. They solved mysteries and fought crime, often in the shadows, sometimes wearing some type of mask, and sometimes not.

So let’s get one thing clear – Superman was indeed the FIRST genuine, true-blue Superhero as we know them. He defined the term in every way and led to the creation of similar traits and introductions for many years to come. Modern writers and creators may not cite Superman as an influence, but as with many forms of artistic expression, more than likely the creations and creators that influenced them, were influenced by Superman.

He was an alien, gifted with super human abilities, such as speed, strength, invulnerability, and at the time, the ability to leap tall buildings in a single bound. And make no mistake, they certainly knew what tall buildings looked like. By that stage they had the Empire State building, so the idea of a “tall building” for Siegel and Shuster was not overly different to what we would consider today (granted they may not have envisioned heights like the Burj Khalifa – but who would have until recent years?!?!). They borrowed from novelised characters such as John Carter, and myth and legend from history with characters like Hercules. They incorporated many pieces of legend, lore and history, including their own personal upbringing and life – being the children of Jewish immigrants – being outsiders, strangers, outcasts etc… but fighting for the everyman was what they wanted their hero to be.

Up till this time comics didn’t exist about super powered aliens come to save humanity, or even comic book versions of characters from myth and legend. At the time it could be argued the idea of story-telling about super human beings completing insane feats of strength, speed, endurance and the like had faded into history – something for the ancient civilisations that imagined Hercules, Thor, Ares and the like. But in 1938 Action Comics #1 was published with this man on the cover, lifting a car above his head and smashing it into a rock and suddenly the entire concept was re-born. What follows is history to us now, but at the time was very, very exciting. This character became renowned across America, selling record numbers and it wasn’t long before other publishers caught the idea and wanted their writers to do something similar.

...and to think, this comics book that cost 10 cents back in 1938, could now sell for over $1 million! (although probably not in this condition)

An entire genre was born as a result. Over the next couple of decades heroes like Captain America, Shazam (Captain Marvel for those not willing to let go), Thor, Silver Surfer and literally thousands more came into being. Why? Because Action Comics and any story featuring Superman was selling in numbers exceeding 1 million issues, that’s why. Prior to this a comic publication that was considered successful would sell somewhere around 400 000 copies. National Publications (later known as DC) had hit the mark with a character that had been rejected a few years earlier (originally conceived as a bald-headed villain O.o and re-pitched more as we knew him in 1933 – it took 5 years for them to actually publish the character they pitched).

This is the Superman we ALMOST had....

To give you an idea of just HOW big a deal this character was, it was reported in 1941 that the pair were being paid $75K each per year. Not sure about you, but in 1941 as far as I know, $75K was an absolute ton of money – and this is considered to be only a tiny fraction of the money being made off the character. In fact, personally, I’d be happy to be paid $75K a year right NOW – in the modern world!

So yeah – everyone else wanted to get in on the act. Suddenly there was origin stories and gods of old being turned into costumed heroes. Aliens that weren’t a threat to humanity, but were here to protect us. Even the normal crime fighting, mystery solving vigilante was transformed into something new – Batman setting a new standard for an archetype that was leading the industry prior to the introduction of the boy in blue and red (at the time, characters like Batman, such as Zorro, or The Phantom were referred to as ‘mystery men’ to differentiate them from the super-powered counterparts springing up everywhere). Everyone was racing to catch up and cash in on this phenomenon. Comics weren’t just for kids all of a sudden. People, young and old all over the country were buying these books, or tuning in to the radio to hear about this Superman. Captain Marvel, Namor The Submariner, Captain America.... the world was starting to become full of these "super powered" heroes...

I especially love Hitler getting a punch in the face. Also, does Captain Marvel's cover seem reminiscent of another heroes we all know?

Merchandising started as early as 1939, and in 1940 Superman joined Macy’s annual parade. 1942 saw the US Navy determine that Superman comics were to be considered part of “essential supplies” for the Marine garrison at Midway Islands (at least this is what happened according to Time magazine). He had a serialized radio show 1940 following suit of some of his predecessors such as The Shadow (during this time Superman actually took on the real life Ku Klux Klan). In 1941 theatres started showing the Fleischer cartoons, and Kirk Alyn donned the tights and cape in 1948, marking the first on-screen appearance of the character that wasn’t animated. George Reeves then became known as Superman through the creation of a TV serial in 1951 (the FIRST Superhero TV show), and in 1966 a Broadway musical was devised (the first musical based on a Superhero also).

Then, in 1978 something magical happened yet again – Richard Donner teamed up with Gene Hackman, Marlon Brando and an as yet unknown named Christopher Reeve to bring Superman to the big screen for the very first time as a true cinema movie. While Superman was no stranger to theatres and cinemas, never had he featured in his own blockbuster feature film (previously he had just been in serials, with a minor exception coming up). This marked the first big budget Comic Book Movie (Batman had made a film based on the TV shows prior, Superman was the first to just be its own cinematic movie, and technically Superman & The Mole-Men featured a cinematic release in 1951 – so he even wins this round as the first). Telling the story of Superman’s origin, his home planet, his trip to Earth, his discovery of his powers and his ultimate donning of the cape and becoming the hero the world would know as Superman – this film set the scene for all to come after it. The film made $300 million in its original theatrical run and spawned 3 sequels, and suddenly a new competition begun, with comic book characters getting the full theatrical treatment in the following decades, from Batman to the more recent Avengers, seeing Superman as having paved the way for heroes to provide big budgets and bigger profits.

The word itself – “super hero” existed prior to Superman. Credited with its first use 1912, it was used with a very different context however. The first similar usage is attributed to “The Guardian” many years later, but became synonymous in the 60’s as what we know it to mean today. Prior to this, other than mystery men, Superman’s own name was often used to describe similar characters who fit the “super hero” archetype. Obviously this could cause confusion (and lawsuits) so could never have lasted anyway, and was basically swapped out with the word “Super Hero”, considered in its current meaning to have existed in direct response to the creation of Superman (certainly within the minds of people).

This concept of two Jewish immigrants changed the world of comic strips and “the funnies” forever, sparking a race to create and replicate the success unknown by comic publishers before 1938. Movies, radio, even Broadway felt the impacts of this character, paving way in almost all mediums for similar characters to be considered profitable (sometimes even more profitable than Superman himself). So what would the world look like without Superman?

Without a random decision made in a hurry by an editor, Superman may have continued to sit in a drawer, unseen by the rest of the world. If that happened, National Publications would never have experienced amazing sales figures. They would never have started paying massive amounts of money to Siegel and Shuster, and thus Bob Kane would never have been inspired to create Batman either. Marvel (as it eventually became known) wouldn’t have bothered making some of their heroes. Captain Marvel would never have existed either so the god-like character to resurrect ancient myths would never have come about, probably seeing Thor never resurrected as a character in modern times.

Someone may have come up with characters like these in the future. Then again – maybe not. Creators and publishers had been doing this for some time before Superman came about – and until that time no one had found the perfect formula. The timing was perfect, with WWI still in the minds of the American consciousness, and the eventual eruption of WWII, these heroes inspired by Superman, and Superman himself, became an image for the American people – their strength, resolve and courage. It was a medium to communicate ideas and help with the war efforts.

He's riding a godd@$n bomb!

All of this led to comics becoming big business, and an integral part of the American and eventually western culture, and without the first step being taken by Superman, paving the way for hundreds and thousands of others; it may very well never have happened. It may have been years before a character of his type graced a comic book, if ever. If the timing wasn’t right, who’s to say anyone would have cared? That same editor who decided to use Superman for Action Comics #1 was even reported to remark at the time that it was “ridiculous”. Not long after that National Publications had a manager walk down to one of the local stands and ask a kid why he was buying one of their comic books. “Because it’s got Superman in it mister” was the kids response.

So while he may not be everyone’s cup of tea, he may be old fashioned, he may be “overpowered” or “boring” to some – all things, characters, characteristics fans DO enjoy may never have come about if it weren’t for him. Think about the next time you feel like saying that you don’t like the character or maybe even hate the character – if it wasn’t for him you may not have the ones you DO like. You may not like him, but I think everyone should at least respect him.

It’s hard for someone to change an industry – it only happens on rare, special occasions. In 1938 comic books were changed and for the last three quarters of a cnetury it’s been a glorious change for all of us, with that same character paving the way not just in comics - but musicals, TV, and movies.

So a world without Superman? No thank you.

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Was Avengers truly a great movie?

I’m about to become one of the least popular people on ComicVine.

As much as I enjoyed The Avengers – I don’t consider it one of the best or greatest movies of all time. In fact I think it’s pretty poor in that regard.

There – I said it!

Now, if you’ll indulge me, I’ll explain exactly what I mean. Just bare with me for a few minutes and remain open minded and maybe we can get through this without everyone hating me.

Have you ever seen a movie where you watched it, you loved it and thought it was great, but then the more you watched it and thought about it – the more you realised it actually wasn’t all that special? Well, The Avengers was one of those movies for me. When I first watched it – I laughed and got excited and fist pumped certain moments in the film. I adored the film and it was easily one of the best films (at the time) I had seen for the year. I loved it. I love Joss Whedon’s work usually and was not let down by The Avengers and any Joss Whedon fan could see his hallmarks all over it.

But time went on and I saw it a few more times (both at the cinema and at home) and with each viewing – I was left feeling a little flatter. Inevitably comparisons are made between it and other popular and successful CBM films such as The Dark Knight, Man of Steel and The Amazing Spider-man. Here at CV it happens A LOT. In reading these threads it allowed me to get some perspective on why I didn’t have the same love for it after several viewings as I did on the first (in contrast a film like The Dark Knight or the original Superman movie fills me with joy or excitement or some other positive feeling each time I see it or think about it – I might come back to that point later).

This shot alone shows how ridiculous this film was...

You see in considering other films comparatively, I realised that The Avengers lacked substance (for want of a better word). This does not make it a “bad movie”. I want to be clear about that. Not every film I see has to be some deep and meaningful experience. Sometimes I just want to see stuff get blown up. Sometimes I want mindless fighting and shooting and explosions. Sometimes I don’t even care if the dialogue is all that entertaining, as long as the action is great, or the special effects are good, or it makes me laugh despite it having a terrible story line (Dumb & Dumber anyone?). However the films that cater to these desires are generally not considered any type of cinematic masterpiece. Take The Expendables 2 for example. It was a ludicrous movie full of cheesy one-liners, bad puns, bad dialogue, worse acting, but LOTS OF EXPLOSIONS!!!!!! It accomplished (what I hope was) its goal of being a cheesy action flick to parody and pay homage to the big action movies of the 80’s and early 90’s. While the film as a cinematic experience was terrible – it was enjoyable and fun. The Fast & Furious movies are another example of this in my mind. Stupid, ridiculous films that stretch the realm of disbelief to its limits – but they’re fun and entertaining still. I rarely hear anyone however saying how Fast & Furious 6 was one of the best movies they’ve ever seen, or rating it among their favourite films. It made a stack of money – meaning it was popular and people liked it enough – but it’s not going down in the annals of cinematic history as a great film.

This is where I find the Avengers however. It made an absolute ton of money – pointing to its popularity. There are endless debates about it being the best CBM of all time, and I’m sure many people on here have it in their top 5 films of all time (CBM or not). But for me – I can’t justify this.

Once I take away the humour and the special effects action sequences – I find there’s nothing left to the film. The dialogue itself isn’t special in any way. The acting isn’t brilliant, Oscar worthy stuff (not that I expect such from a CBM mind you). Chris Evans, RDJ, Chris Hemsworth, Jeremy Renner, Samuel L. Jackson… all good enough actors but none of them did anything that plenty of other actors couldn’t have achieved as well. The plot and story were – well, not really there. It’s a simple alien invasion story basically at its core. I don’t find any underlying themes, or commentary of anything. There are plot holes left, right, and centre. The visual effects while good aren’t overly stellar or ground breaking in any way. This film hasn’t defined or created a genre or style (if anything it just lends from all various films that came before it, with typical Joss Whedon tropes that can be seen in Buffy, Angel, Dollhouse, and Firefly to name a few). I’ve seen several people complain on here that the humour is injected far too frequently, basically as a way to pad the dialogue or to hide the films failings.

Now, none of this stops it being an enjoyable experience – but as I said, I also find the Fast & Furious films (well, except for Tokyo Drift) enjoyable as well – but they’re nothing to rant and rave about and I certainly don’t consider them among my favourite films – they’re just a bit of mindless entertainment.

On the other side of the coin are films like Man of Steel and The Dark Knight. Nolan, Goyer and Snyder did something with their respective films that few (if any) CBM’s have approached – being serious, proper movies. These aren’t just mindless entertainment. These are serious movies that happen to be about comic book characters. They could just as easily be about a real life person or event or topic in their approach (obviously not their story). They explore themes and ideas and issues that are present in the real world. They reflect society, present concepts such as fear, choice, what it means to be a leader, how we as species act and interact with each other and our world and our place in it. A concept like free will and what that can mean and look like is portrayed in Man of Steel. How a man can over-come fear and become a driving force behind change in the world is reflected in the Nolan Batman films.

How is he hanging out the back window?

Heath Ledger, in my opinion, portrayed the Joker in such a way it was completely worthy of an Oscar – even if it wasn’t true to some people’s perception of the source material. Within the context of the film and the cinematic experience itself, he was true evil, he represented everything that is dark and chaotic and twisted in us. He tapped into something that each of us has within us and brought it out in full, making that his entire character. The part of us that hates others, and wants to see them falter. The part of us that doesn't trust anyone. The part of us that makes us laugh at someone else’s failures and misfortunes. Nolan’s Joker was that in a pure, homicidal, totally chaotic form. He reflected the darkest parts of humanity and what we are capable of – for no rhyme or reason than simply because we can.

And Ledger nailed the performance in such a way that to watch him, to listen to him, to hear that laugh can give people chills up their spine. Comparatively, Loki was just a punch-line. A means to an end for a plot. He’s charming and cool and hip – but he really is (as someone described Zod and Faora in another thread), that moustache twirling villain that ties someone to train tracks and laughs because he’s the bad guy. This is only scratching the surface of reasons why I personally consider this an amazing and brilliant movie (I will point out a lot of this doesn’t follow into its sequel Dark Knight Rises – this was a major let down for me).

Superman The Movie, despite its age and faults (especially when compared to current films), for me is an integral part of cinematic history. It attempted something that had never been done before. It created the CBM genre and laid the foundation of pretty much every CBM to come after it. Kevin Smith talked about this on his podcast once and stated it perfectly. The construction or layout of Superman The Movie was the blueprint for every CBM that came after it (with the exception of Nolan/Snyder that is). At the time it was a bold and risky move to create this movie. It had massive expenses and production costs. They literally created new special effects methods for the flying scenes to make them look better and more realistic than anything that had been done before it. Christopher Reeve’s portrayal became the image of the character for a large majority of people (not just comic book fans) for decades and is still the measuring stick today for how the character is portrayed for many people. Hell, he was the poster-boy for “how to be a super-hero” – about how to try and encapsulate the character in the comics on the big screen. He held the throne of being the “true Superman” for almost 4 decades, and only now is their considered to be possible genuine contender. On a personal level the feelings of nostalgia and boyish pleasure it brings out in me isn’t replicated by any other film and never will be. I watched many movies and have loved many – but nothing compares to Superman The Movie (and Superman II as a close second) in that sense for me. I realise not everyone has this same emotional attachment, and they probably have that with other films, but this is a genuine part of a truly great cinematic experience. Man of Steel however brought all that back for me, which is one of many reasons why I love that film.

Stare at his eyes.... just stare at them....

When I think of truly great and amazing films throughout history, films like Superman The Movie and The Dark Knight for me, rank up there with others like some of the (now) classics such as Silence of the Lambs, Scarface, the original Matrix film, or even more recent films like Gladiator or Blood Diamond, 300, The Kings Speech, or Argo. Each of these films brought something to the table that others tried and failed at, or had never thought to bring before, or was just so brilliantly done it really did become iconic. Silence of the Lambs has one of the most iconic and chilling performances by a truly amazing actor in the history of cinema. The Matrix introduced revolutionary special effects techniques and an intricate and mind-bending story that people talked about for days, weeks and months after seeing the film. Scarface is one of the cinematic worlds masterpieces, thanks in no small part to Al Pacino’s amazing acting. Others might consider films like The Godfather, the original Star Wars (usually specifically Return of the Jedi), Jaws and a massive list of others to up here as well.

I just can’t consider The Avengers in the same league of cinematic history as these types of movies. I enjoyed The Avengers. I thought that within the CBM genre it was great work and is thoroughly entertaining – but at the end of the day for me it will fade into memory as just one of a million other movies that I saw, enjoyed, and then largely forgot about, and it doesn't stand out as any better than a vast majority of CBM's - it's just like the majority of them.

I realise I may be mostly alone in this view, that many of you will disagree with me in every possible thing I’ve said here. And that’s fine – each person has their own perceptions and opinions. While I may not have gleamed anything from The Avengers, some of you may have, and I would honestly be keen to hear those things - perhaps it will open my mind up to once again enjoy The Avengers in a similar way to my first viewing of it. Maybe it won’t.

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Superman Vs Batman - How it Would Really Work

Ok – for the next few minutes I’m crossing over to the dark-side of the forum and am talking about a battle between the two – not the upcoming movie. I know, I know – it’s been done to death. Batgod blah, blah, blah. SUPERMANPWNSALLLL, blah, blah, blah… Trust me – I know. But since this is my personal blog – please entertain me for bit. Actually... it's more than a few minutes, I'll admit... this is easily the longest blog I've ever had. I apologise in advance, and offer a sincere congratulations to anyone who actually reads the whole thing.

There’s another great series of threads on here titled “Does Batman Always Win”, where one of the CV writers (@k4tzm4n I believe is responsible for it) analyses a battle between Batman and another hero to see if Batman really does always win. It’s a satirical response to the touted “Batman wins because he’s Batman” argument used (usually in jest) in many of the discussions. I’m even sure this post will gain that response from at least someone here. But I want to use a similar discussion method. So no this is not about looking at their actual battles in comic or animated form (a la the now infamous Superman Vs Batman thread by @citizenbane). This isn’t discussing the movie or even whinging about one fanbase over the other.

I admit, I kind of just wanted to post this and be done with it...

Instead I’m going to break the various characters down, look at their respective qualities and do comparisons in multiple areas. I’ll look at pros and cons for both and be as objective as humanly possible. I’m also going to look at the various arguments usually presented by both sides and attempt to deconstruct them. Others may have done this before – kudos to them. This is my blog and I shall do with it as I please (or until CV ban me – not that I expect that to happen).

Some precursor information – these two characters sit at the top of the comic book foodchain in my eyes. They are my number 1 and number 2 favourite characters. They’re the only two who’s titles I consistently read and have current subscriptions to. In my opinion they are basically responsible for the comic book genre as we know and understand it today and deserve infinite amounts of respect for the characters and for the roles they have each played in forming something that we obviously all love. And so it is with all this in mind I’m approaching this oh so volatile subject that has resulted in countless flame wars and trolling on internet forums since the internet pretty much became the internet.

Ok first let’s do some character information and bios. I’ll kick it off with the one who started it all:

Superman

New 52 style smackdown....

Ok – we all pretty much know the story here. Rocketed from a dying planet, raised by childless farmers, etc… The one known as the ‘Big Blue Boy scout’ he’s basically been around as long as superheroes have existed and has had a very rich, textured and sometimes controversial history. He’s been represented in all forms of media and expressions, from comics, novels, musical theater, radio, animation, TV and the big screen – more often than not being the 1st to reach these mediums when compared to other comic book characters and superheroes.

The CV wiki lists the following powers and abilities:

  • Agility
  • Attractive Male
  • Berserker Strength
  • Blast Power
  • Energy Absorption
  • Flight
  • Healing
  • Heat Vision
  • Ice Breath
  • Intellect
  • Invulnerability
  • Leadership
  • Longevity
  • Stamina
  • Super Hearing
  • Super Sight
  • Super Speed
  • Super Strength
  • Unarmed Combat
  • Wind Bursts

Pretty impressive huh? Not sure how “attractive male” is a power or ability though… But I digress… There are many threads regarding his feats and powers around on CV. Arguments about him being over-powered etc… Basically I don’t think a whole lot needs to be said. Just for fun I’m going to add in a few things here by inferring powers/abilities based on other information. Based on the H’el arc and character, Kryptonians are essentially sponges for various forms of radiation. Some don’t affect them, others do and in different ways, usually expressing themselves in various powers and abilities. In H’el’s case these even included telekinetic, mind control, teleportation and chronal abilities. Others like Kryptonite (irradiate fragments of Krypton) can be potentially lethal. So Superman has the same potential for these powers as well and at different times in his history seems to have displayed some form of them (along with others like shooting rainbows out of his fingers – beat that!). However he doesn't at present and none of these would generally be considered a part of his power set. So don’t worry – none of that will enter the equation, I just wanted to comment on it.

If you've never seen this comic - check it out at jl8comic.tumblr.com

I don’t really feel the need to go too in-depth here as we’ll study majority of his features and powers (and weaknesses) throughout the article. So moving on….

Batman

Gotta love the Adam West style "BAM"

Again – it’s safe to say we’re pretty familiar with his story as well. Murdered parents… massive wealth… protector of Gotham… etc.. Similarly to the demi-god above he has also had a massive and rich history, undergoing multiple re-writes and revisions for varying reasons and has also been immortalised in pretty much every medium known to man. I’m sure someone has even done rice based art around Batman. In direct contrast however he’s no boyscout, often reverting to dirty tactics and a “means to an end” mentality. He’s an agent of the night, using stealth and psychology against his opponents. It’s not unthinkable for him to be seen to be putting others in danger (not really but initially on the surface it may appear that way) or manipulating even his closest friends and allies if he believes it will provide the best outcome. A darker, moodier and more cynical hero than Superman, he still however has a strict code – so while not a boyscout, he can be trusted as if he was. He’s inspired many, often at the ire of the Gotham P.D. and despite being just a human has been an integral and consistent member of the Justice League in its many forms, surrounded by super powered aliens and god-like beings and enemies.

Again the CV wiki lists the following powers/abilities:

  • Adaptive
  • Agility
  • Attractive Male
  • Escape Artist
  • Gadgets
  • Insanely Rich
  • Intellect
  • Leadership
  • Marksmanship
  • Power Suit
  • Stamina
  • Stealth
  • Swordsmanship
  • Tracking
  • Unarmed Combat
  • Weapon Master

Not quite as extensive as the higher list but still impressive in its own right (again with the attractive male – when exactly does that assist with a villain? He smiles them into submission? Also not sure if “insanely rich” qualifies either). Also in a similar vain to Superman there are numerous threads on CV regarding his feats and abilities and arguments etc… so I’m not going to do any more here. I don’t think there is anything else to add although I notice “strategist” isn't listed specifically – I’m going to guess this is included under intellect. Comparing the two here will be interesting…

THIS^ is why you need to check out that comic... go now jl8comic.tumblr.com

OK, with that out of the way let’s start breaking them down and comparing them in different areas that are relevant to a battle.

Comparisons

Strength:

Ok – this is a bit of a no contest – I admit. If we’re comparing the two I mean – this is a little bit unfair in this department. Regardless of which version or era of Superman is being referred to, he outclasses Batman in orders of magnitude in this particular area. Superman is operating on a cosmic scale, with varying feats ranging from lifting mountains and whole buildings, to moving moons and planets. His most recent high-showing was a 5 day bench-pressing orgy in an underground location with weight equivalent to the entire planet Earth (I believe around the 6 sextillion tons range?).

Don’t be misled – Batman is no slouch in his own right here. Considered to have ‘peak human’ strength in the DCU, he’s been seen to smash through solid walls, and even is considered capable of bench pressing 1 ton – something no ordinary man is capable of. But in the grand scheme of things – he’s no matchup on raw strength alone. I can’t even recall a battle suite or anything that’s boosted his strength to Superman’s level (although for the time being that wouldn't count – those things are coming later).

So in this field Superman has it hands down, no argument, I think from any reasonable person.

Stamina:

Ok again it’s a no contest (this may be something of a theme for a while actually). Again Batman has ‘peak human’ stamina and has some impressive feats. A recent one included him engaged in mortal combat (MORTAL KOMBAAAAAT! Dunuh dunuh dunuh dunuh-duh… Ahem…. sorry, got sidetracked) for 28 hours I believe. While there may be some differing opinions on what this actually meant – it’s still a very, very impressive feat. But it can’t match up to the Kryptonian.

Running on essentially the sun itself, Superman doesn't tire easily (especially when he has constant exposure to the sun) and an advanced healing rate will quickly keep him going when any mortal man would be at the end of his abilities. Even without constant sun exposure his seemingly near endless stores of solar energy can keep him going for superhuman lengths of time without sleep, food, water and all while engaged in strenuous physical activity. Plus he can always fly up and expose himself to the sun if he feels the need anyway.

So again, Superman takes this department.

Durability:

I know I’m going to be accused of being bias – but I honestly am just being realistic here – once more this is a no contest. While Batman can survive more than any ordinary man has any right to, a well placed bullet, fire or even a falling object would actually end it all for him. Superman on the other hand has survived all sorts of things including nuclear explosions and radiation, supernova explosions and even Superman IV: A Quest for Peace (and to keep going after that is more impressive than anything!). Silver Age Superman even survived the Big Bang! Batman has some very good feats and showings, powering through all sorts of physical injuries and torturous pain to keep fighting the good fight but in the end Superman is capable of inflicting far too much physical damage for any level of mental toughness to be at all relevant.

3rd time straight here – Superman

This isn't going to end well....

Other Powers:

In case you’re wondering – this will make it 4 in a row. Batman doesn't really have “powers”

as such anyway, where-as Superman has heat vision, freeze breath, super-speed comparable to the Flash, flight, super-hearing… I think you get the point. Yes Batman is Superman’s superior in combat skill, but in majority of cases this won’t make any difference if every time he hits or kicks him he breaks his own hands and feet. No point flogging this one – it’s definitely dead. Superman.

This is all sorts of win... in oh so many ways....

Gadgets:

Finally somewhere for Batman to start fighting back! While Superman has various toys and gadgets at his disposal as well, Batman has a seemingly endless supply of all manner of toys to use against an opponent – and he seems to always have exactly what he needs with him when he needs it too (are we sure his utility belt doesn’t have a pocket dimension in it?). Superman has at different times had robots, armour and protective suits and once had a pretty awesome sword too. But at the end of the day Batman has the superior arsenal.

I say pocket dimension.... and if you haven't done it yet - go to jl8comic.tumblr.com

The one thing I will point out though is that while it’s safe to say Batman has the superior array of gadgets at his disposal the vast majority (all?) are useless against Superman. Batarangs, gas grenades, tasers, cryo pellets, explosives – at best these will be a mere annoyance to the man of steel. So while Batman wins this particular time, it’s with the mindset that it doesn't actually do him much good anyway.

Intellect:

Probably one of the greatest equalisers between Batman and his opponents is his mind. With extremely thorough understandings of psychology, human behaviour and analytical thinking he has solved anything anyone has thrown at him. He may not have the highest I.Q. in the DCU but there are few that can plan and plot to the exact ability he has been capable of. If someone wants to consider this a Super power when it comes to Batman, you’ll have no argument from me. He’s managed to plot out contingency plans against the most powerful heroes on Earth and has outsmarted some of the most powerful beings in the DCU. He understands battle strategy as well as anyone in history and is probably only matched by Martian Manhunter, Vandal Savage and Ra’s Al Ghul in this regard (and two of those guys have been around waaaaaaaaaaay longer than Batman).

On the other hand Superman is no dummy. Despite a perception by some that he is about brawn, not brains – he has time and again shown an advanced intellect above what any human is capable of. His arch-nemesis, Lex Luthor, considers him his only equal in terms of intellect – which is saying something as Lex actually does have the highest I.Q. on Earth and really only is outsmarted by the likes of Brainiac. Anyone who’s trolled a Superman/Batman battle thread will have also been pointed to newer issues where he managed to read and absorb all medical information in about 5 minutes and then perform a dangerous and complicated operation to save a life. Officially his brain is considered to be far advanced beyond that of humans and is capable of processing information faster than any human (except for those linked to the speed force) can ever hope to achieve – essentially he can think faster than us – which is saying something because a human minds thoughts are pretty damn quick (microseconds in fact).

So where does this leave us? In a bit of a pickle actually. On one hand we have a master strategist and intellectual genius by anyone’s standards with few equals. On the other hand we have someone who can actually see process and react to any stimulus faster than a human (including Batman) could ever hope to, as well as retain and perfectly recall any information. A so inclined Superman could theoretically read all strategic information, books etc… and have that information at his disposal the same way Batman could. “But why does the speed of his thoughts matter here” you might ask? Well, I’m preempting something that will come later as I deconstruct the various arguments used. So what’s the verdict here?

One of the fanboys in me demands it be Superman because of his advanced over-all intellect. Another fanboy dwelling inside me demands it be Batman due to his obvious advanced strategic mind and understanding of emotions, psychology and the like. Since I consider both to be valid arguments – I call this a draw.

ok - not quite a tie here... the moon is a much more impressive canvas for this....

Mindset:

“What?” – Simply put a characters mindset or “personality” comes into play. Who is more driven? More motivated? Who has more to lose? Is one easily manipulated? These aren't questions of intelligence, or even necessarily mental toughness (although that falls into this category) but they should play an important role – and it is here that Batman claws back a bit. Now in terms of mental toughness – I consider them equals. Neither one will ever just give up and both will fight to their own deaths if it means protecting those around them. Each will mentally over-come even the most severe of physical obstacles and both have been through their own personal hell's at different times in their history. But where they diverge I think Batman gains an advantage – and it’s the fundamental difference between the two characters in terms of their places in the world of comic books and superhero history.

Superman has recently been shown in a brash, hit first – ask questions later – type of light, however he still retains that element of being the big blue boy scout. He doesn’t look for the dark, he doesn’t expect someone to be willing to go down the sick twisted path he would never even consider. At the same time he can be a little arrogant at times, trusting in his powers more than might be wise and having an assumption he will always over-power and win against an opponent.

because everyone knows... he's just that kind of guy... especially over at jl8comic.tumblr.com

Batman on the other hand recognises his weaknesses and knows his short comings. As such he accounts for it and doesn’t take anything for granted. He uses caution until he’s had a chance to know what he’s up against. He also isn’t afraid to look into the dark places and account for what twisted and depraved minds are capable of, even sometimes venturing down them himself if he feels it will be necessary. Like it or not, he will do almost anything to achieve his goal, even if it means betraying those who love him. Short term pain for long term gain is within his psyche. Basically Batman will go to lengths that wouldn’t even occur to Superman – for all his intellect, Superman lacks some of the imagination that Batman has (it’s not his fault – they have different enemies that force this on them). Where Batman has a contingency plan for even his best friend, such a thing generally doesn’t occur to Superman – until it’s too late.

this doesn't need a caption... except this one of course... O.o

I give this one to Batman.

Weaknesses:

Ok – this can’t be avoided – we have to get this out of the way. On one hand, Superman has some pretty effective weaknesses. Kryptonite (for the sake of simplicity we’ll just stick with green) is his main achilles heel, and he is also known to have no special invulnerability to magic, like he does to say, bullets. He can also be attacked mentally, although he can offer some resistance here if you truly know your Superman history. Then there is red-sunlight – basically negating his powers and making him no different to any human. On the other hand we have Batman who is as vulnerable to anything as any other human – no additives (green, red or otherwise) required. What can hurt or kill you and I will have the same affect on Batman. He can be blinded, broken, crushed, burned, deafened and simply destroyed in all manner of ways.

Given the fact that Superman only has weaknesses when there is some special element involved, I give Superman the upper hand here – since Batman is always vulnerable and weak to any of Superman’s abilities (except for attractive male of course – they stalemate each other here).

it's funny because it's true....

Ok – so there we have it. Superman has 5 categories, Batman takes 2 and there’s 1 draw to try and appease my inner conflict. Superman wins right? Well…not exactly. In the above sense of just doing a character comparison, if we were to take the standard battle thread approach then yes, Superman wins, let’s say 6, maybe 7 out of 10 (based on the 8 categories and Superman’s dominance in 5 this gives him a 60% advantage). However, there’s actually one more factor that essentially trumps all the rest and makes the previous 8 categories I’ve looked at null and void – “the story”.

The Story...

Since this is fiction the author of any story controls the outcome. Why are they fighting to begin with? Is one of them rogue and the other is trying to stop them? Is it an alternate universe story where they hate each other? Is one of them “bloodlusted” and willing to kill the other? Are both of them willing to kill? Does the fight take place in Batman’s cave or in a space station? Has Superman been sun-dipping? Does Batman have near unlimited prep-time to launch a surprise attack on an unwitting Superman?

Since we don’t have any pre-defined set of rules for this particular battle discussion (the idea is it’s a general discussion), instead what I’ll do is look at the various arguments I’ve seen and weigh up the pros and cons for both sides; or at least try to. I’ll then give them a +1 or -1 score for how valid the argument actually is. It may result in a 0 if the point has an equally valid counter argument.

Arguments

I’ll start with ones in favour of Superman

"Superman Can Speed Blitz Batman into oblivion"

This one is very true, there’s no denying it. Superman is capable of moving faster than Batman could even hope to see, let alone process the movement and react, so a surprise attack would leave Batman dead in the water before he even got started. However, Superman rarely speed blitzes an opponent. There’s no reason to think he suddenly would when he fights Batman, especially from the outset. That would be very out of character for him. If he ever does speed blitz someone it’s because it’s been dragging on or he sees no other way to end the conflict. If he waits, Batman has time to put in plan some sort of action which could turn the battle. However, mildly out of character or not, it still remains a valid and legitimate possibility as it does occur enough for me to consider it genuine. It’s only one particular usage (straight up before the fight even starts) that is really “out of character”. It’s also a valid tactic which would end any fight. So +1 based on that. However it gets a -1 considering that Superman is more likely to wait and in doing so provides ample opportunity for Batman to counter/defend in some way nullifying the opportunity (especially if he utilises Kryptonite effectively). So… 0 I guess.

"Superman can use his heat vision from space – no matter where Batman is he would be dead"

Again – also true – but very out of character. Ignoring the fact this would result in Superman killing Batman (and maybe thousands or millions of others), or that if Batman was hiding somewhere Superman may struggle to actually find him to fry him (that rhymes…lol), I can only recall one time Superman has rained down fire like this – meaning it’s not something he’s prone to do. He may have done it more, but it’s certainly a rare event, and in fact he will usually get up in Batman’s face to fight him. But similar to above – rare event or not, depending on an individual circumstance, it’s still possible so +1, but given the over-all rarity and out of character requirements (so basically the fight has a very strict requirement) it earns a -1. Final answer 0

"Superman is far too powerful"

This argument in and of itself is more an observation than anything and only has relevance when the conditions of the fight don’t include Batman utilising one of Superman’s weaknesses – which is unlikely to occur. On the other hand, Superman simply is that powerful and unless Batman is trying to kill Superman, eventually Superman will probably over-power Batman in some way or fashion. The argument about Superman always holding back comes into play here too. On one hand he always holds back not to cause too much collateral damage or accidentally kill his opponent, thus providing Batman some ability to fight back. However this also suggests he has a very established amount of precision and control, so could actually hit Batman just hard enough to knock him out in a single punch without the fight dragging on… hmm.. Also, even if Batman IS trying to kill Superman, he’s not a certainty considering Superman’s vast powers and any opportunity that arises he will simply use enough force to achieve his goal. +1 based on all that, but -1 given that it’s a far too specific circumstance where Batman won’t have utilised weaknesses of Superman sufficiently, and the higher likelihood that Superman would be holding back too much allowing Batman the ability to fight back. Final result..yep, 0.

I want to know why he's shouting "SHAZAM!"

"Superman can simply crush Batman"

Yeah – there’s no denying this either. He can do it himself with his bare hands, or simply drop some large heavy object on him. Barring any type of PIS, Batman loses here. As durable as Batman may be, I don’t think he could survive having Wayne Tower dropped on his head, or being smashed into a mountain at near light-speed velocities. I can’t even mount much of a counter argument here since Superman is prone to doing this sort of stuff to enemies (meaning it’s not out of character), and Batman has succumbed to similar attacks previously (although not usually with so much strength or speed behind them). +1 (first legitimate +1 too) Although, on the other hand (and after some more thought on the matter), for Superman to resort to a very intense attack type that would render Batman unconscious or dead would be a special type of circumstance… I guess this allows for a -1, giving it a 0 result overall.

"Superman can fly him into space"

As valid an argument as this may be – it results in Superman killing Batman again. It’s a +1 if that is the context of the battle, but more often than not it’d be a -1 since he doesn’t usually want to kill him. I’ll allow the +1 under the idea in some scenarios it’s a valid argument., but I also apply a -1 given the absolute strictness required for said scenarios. 0.

This is going to be the official title of Man of Steel 2 according to HISHE. I think it has a certain ring to it...

Now, arguments for Batman

"He’s a master strategist – he already has contingency plans to take down Superman"

Yep – no denying this one. Given Batman’s mindset and paranoia (well founded on some occasions) he has already considered the idea he has to take out Superman in a fight someday and has planned for it. His plans are usually pretty good too as he creates them with a full understanding of the opponent and what they may or may not do. Do they involve PIS? Usually. Do they ignore the above arguments in favour of Superman? Definitely. But – doesn’t make it less valid +1. The amount of required PIS however, IMO, equally earns it a -1, resulting in a final outcome of 0.

"Batman has Kryptonite – Clark even gave it to him"

Specifically, it’s a kryptonite ring. With 1 or 2 low showings as exceptions, this amount of Kryptonite is mostly useless though. It’ll allow Batman to land some punches without destroying his hand (a la Hush) but ultimately it’s not the leveller it’s usually considered in these arguments. In one sense this is a +1 however as he does indeed have the ring. In another sense however it is a -1 because I won’t simply ignore rare low showings. 0

"Wimp" is probably a bit harsh....

"Batman will use red sunlamps (a la Red Son) and simply beat the crap out of him, since he’s a much better fighter"

This is for me a very valid argument. IF Batman uses red sun lamps in the context of the fight scenario he can take a fairly easy victory due to his superior combat skills. However, more often than not this would require a fair amount of stupidity on Superman’s behalf, which he simply isn’t. I mean just like in Red Son, it takes a pretty specific scenario for this to become valid and feasible, and has never been used by Batman EXCEPT in Red Son. It’s single use earns it a +1, but the far too specific conditions for it to come about earn it a -1 as well, so 0.

"Batman can use prep to defeat anyone – he is the master of prep"

I’m going to give this one the first -1 result simply because it actually just repeats an earlier argument. I’ve seen it used as a separate argument but really it just encapsulates the 3 above it in some way and isn’t really its own argument. Besides, Superman can prep as well as anyone else as well – especially given his genius level intellect, access to Kryptonian and other alien technology, and his ability to learn anything in only minutes…. -1

"Because he’s Batman"

…….. I’m not even gonna……. Just…. No.

Everytime someone says "Because he's Batman" - this is what happens...

"Batman would prep and use a surprise attack on Superman, so Superman wouldn’t even see it coming."

It combines earlier aspects – but I’ll allow it as it has a new element to it – the element of surprise – which used correctly, would negate some of Superman’s advantages. An unsuspecting Superman won’t be on guard or on the lookout for red sunlamps or explosive kryptonite containers. This means that if Batman can lure Superman to a pre-determined and prepared location with whatever tools, gadgets and allies Batman has enlisted – he can take it to Superman quite effectively. On the other hand, as I mentioned earlier Superman’s brain works much faster than Batman’s – or anyone’s for that matter. Realistically, he could perceive the attack coming and react to it in the exact moment of its launch. Also, given his super senses it’s not illogical to assume he would still detect some traces of something suspicious either through an errant sound or smell or something that he is able to pick up on. The genuine ability for Batman to launch a surprise attack earns it a +1, but I also kind of want to give a -1 because baring PIS/CIS, Superman should be able to react easily enough to evade/escape/counter/etc… So I guess 0.

"Batman knows and understands Superman so he will beat him psychologically more than anything first THEN beat him physically"

Batman’s understanding of tactics, his enemy, psychology etc… are valid in any fight and he definitely is at or near the top of the food chain in this regard. This argument is even used when looking at the Hush issue and is, in my opinion – very legitimate. If we’re talking about a mind controlled Superman and Batman trying to break it – this is the method he will use. If we’re talking about a sadistic Batman who just wants to destroy and torment Superman – this is the tactic he would use; and he would use it well. HOWEVER – Superman knows Batman just as well. The two are the best of friends in almost all incarnations, and have a mutual level of understanding and respect for one another that is pretty rare. Superman has the exact same ability and opportunity here to manipulate Batman as the reverse of the above scenarios. Ok – maybe he won’t go sadistic in nature, but he will do things to attack Batman mentally, to try and get through to him… My point being this argument ends up working both ways depending on the scenario so, while Batman gets a +1 here, Superman equally provides a -1 resulting in 0

See? Mindgames.....

"Batman can use some sort of suit or maybe Venom or a similar toxin to get on the same level as Superman"

Since it’s comics, I’ll entertain the notion that there are metals and materials that are strong enough NOT to be demolished by Superman in half a second, rendering any robot or suit useless in nanoseconds. This is basically a part of the Lex Luthor approach, using advanced weaponry and robotics, so on that front it has some validity. However I would also counter by saying that all suits eventually are destroyed by Superman when they are used. Also as to using some sort of boosting drug – not only is this WAAAAAAAY out of character for Batman, there is yet to be a drug or toxin suitable enough to grant powers or even strength at the level of Superman’s. I’ll point to the New 52 example where Batman was hyped up on Venom – he still wasn’t strong enough. For a large part this just gets a -1, however I’ll grant a +1 as correctly utilised robotics and weaponry SHOULD provide the opportunity for Batman to take a win, so 0… again.

So where does that leave us? With a whole bunch of zeros – that’s where. There was almost a couple of legitimate +1’s and even a -1, but over-all for every argument there is a valid counter argument.

Final Conclusion

My conclusion is the same as others I’ve seen on CV that manage to remove themselves from fanboy bias – it’s all dependant on the author and their story. In any given circumstance a writer can achieve any outcome they wish. We could argue the merits of each position to the end of days, but ultimately it will come down to the story someone wants to write. If for the purpose of the story, Batman needs to win – he will. It might be done in a really stupid way, but it will happen anyway. On the other hand if the story demands a Superman victory – that’s what will happen. Batman will have his plans thwarted or no access to Kryptonite and Superman will take an obvious victory.

In a battle sense, the expectation should be for Superman to take the win in more cases than not, and this is reflected in the comics themselves – however at the end of the day, in just a single scenario the victory will always go to the authors intended winner – no matter what, and THAT is how it REALLY works. Abd after all that it's pointless... because we all know the they would never truly fight because of our pettiness.... they're too big for that...

One more time - go to jl8comic.tumblr.com

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Comic Book Prisons - Worst. Prisons. Ever.

A classic.....

Well, it’s time for my weekly blog entry (in case no one knew – I’m doing a blog every week), and this time I wanna look at something that applies to all comic books – their prisons.

I was watching Ultimate Spiderman the other day when this occurred to me. The Trapster was featuring at the opening of the episode for the 4th time in a single season (this one I think only 2 episodes since his last appearance) and I thought – “How the hell does he keep getting out? Especially since he’s portrayed as a pretty terrible criminal”

Which then led to the question, “How do any of them keep getting out?”

Which then culminated in, “S.H.I.E.L.D. has the worst prisons on Earth”.

I then started thinking about it more and realised this is true of almost (if not) all comic books. Spiderman (thanks to the current animated series) and Batman ones jumped to my mind immediately, Batman in particular due to the frequent escapes of the likes of Joker . I mean if these are really the worlds (or universes) most dangerous and powerful villains – wouldn’t you have some sort of way of keeping them under wraps?

I also remember (again from the animated stuff) with the Avengers that Pym had that prison with the Ultron guards (which resulted in Ultron going evil) which seemed a fairly good idea – yet at the same time, not so much. But this brings up the point – why aren’t there more specialised prison settings? How are they not tailoring every cell, every guard and their weapons to the specific villains they are capturing?

The Big House from Avengers:Earth's Mightiest Heroes - seemed pretty effective to me?

Comic books usually take things that we have in real life and blow them out of proportion. Now, statistically speaking in the US based on the most recent figures I could find, around .5% of prisoners are able to escape (many of which are re-caught anyway). In comic books this seems to be closer to 100%. I mean there’s always your average street thugs in the prisons as background fodder, but generally if you see a villain go to prison, he/she will escape. It’s certain.

The bigger question is – how is that possible since there seems to be an abundant amount of technology that should prevent this. Worse is the idea that someone escapes without anyone finding out about it – e.g. The Joker. Would a criminal so insane and dangerous really not be checked constantly? If Batman is so amazing, wouldn’t he have done something by now to ensure if the Joker so much as sneezed, he would know about it, even (especially) if the incompetent guards at Arkham didn’t? In one very big sense, Batman’s inability to keep the Joker locked up is actually out of character (he is a master of prep and strategy; surely he would keep tabs on his biggest nemesis).

As a primarily Superman reader and fan, recently they kind of addressed this with Lex having designed his own prison – one that even he (with his superior intellect) could not escape from (despite having designed it himself). And it seems to have worked. He never escaped while he was locked up (I’m assuming we’re going to see what led to this take place in Action Comics at some stage). Why isn’t there more of that happening?

If a villain has a particular vulnerability, wouldn’t their cell ALWAYS be designed with that in mind? If the government has meta-humans and such in their employ, wouldn’t they be guards to help stop breakouts?

I’m not sure about you guys, but personally, living in the world of comic books would be very disturbing, given everyone’s complete inability to control and effectively contain the criminal element.

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The 'real' problem with Superman Vs Batman

OK first off I want to preface this by stating the following:

1. I love both characters

2. This is a BLOG meaning it contains something called 'personal opinion'

3. This is actually about the up-coming movie, not about the usual "Superman can kill Batgod...." blah blah based on the comics and battles they have (or haven't) had.

Ok, now that is out of the way - "SUPERMAN TOTALLY PWNS ALL IN PICOSECONDZ BECAUSE HE'S THE MOST POWERFULS OF ALL TIMEZ!!!!!!" ;P

Sorry - not sure where that came from. Ahem...

Seriously though this is about the movie. I know it's early days and hardly anyone knows anything about the film at the time of writing and it's all conjecture etc... In a thread on here I voiced my concerns over the film, so I'm not going to repeat any of that here. This is what I think is the biggest problem the movie has - which is that it's set up in a movie itself, and what Nolan, Goyer and Snyder have done with these movies.

Let me explain.

When we read comic books - we suspend a certain level of disbelief. We have to. It comes with the territory of comic books and especially Superheroes. I mean let's look at Superman comics for example. In the real world, with real world science and physics in play IF someone existed who was capable of those feats, a single punch would turn someone (or something) into quark-gluon plasma. That is literally what existed straight after the big bang. His punch would break something apart at a sub-atomic level. The surrounding damage due to the exerted force and energy expulsion would cause damage on a scale equivalent to the largest nuclear explosion we can imagine. Buildings, tress, all life for miles around would literally be wiped foorm existence. A crater 2 KM in diameter and over 250 M deep would be formed.

Punches like they're depicted here should pretty much wipe out the arctic.

From one punch.

How... how the hell are you doing that? Is that another super-power?

If he really ran past someone going several times the speed of sound (or closer to the speed of light) the sonic booms would decimate windows, cars, flip things over etc... it wouldn't be like a gust of wind that blows up a girls skirt on the sidewalk and blow some newspapers (or in extreme cases, set off car alarms - does everyone in America have this type of alarm installed on their car?)

If he was in space he couldn't have a conversation - there's no air to intake and expel to form sounds.

So I think we can all agree that real world physics, real world science doesn't apply in comics. Similarly we suspend our disbelief for a movie about Superheroes. No one believes that Batman can take the fall he does in The Dark Knight for example, crushing a taxi and walking away from it without so much as a limp (not to mention Jake.. I mean Maggie Gyllenhaal's survival without any type of protection - a sudden stop like that should have broken her neck)

We all realise it's fantasy. It's fiction. However the movies get less lee-way than the comics. In the comics we accept way more than we do from a movie. Which brings me to what I think is the biggest problem they are facing. Snyder, Nolan and Goyer have made a point - ESPECIALLY with Man of Steel - in trying to make it feel "real". The whole idea was to give the world a Superman that feels like he's part of this world. This world - the one around us. The one where the above scenarios just aren't possible (or are with massive amounts of collateral damage).

The thing is - in the "real" world - Batman isn't even a speck to someone of Superman's immense power. Take away the comic book Batman, take away the 'Batgod' we've all come to know and make him a real man. The level of meticulous planning and technology just isn't feasible in a "real world". Hell, we don't even have a "weakness" to be exploited so far. The ONLY way for this to come together is to break the foundation they have set up - that's supposed to be real.

This isn't a movie bashing thread. This isn't a thread or blog to say how Batgod can plan his way out of the Big Bang if had to. This isn't a thread about Superjesus being infallible. There's plenty of those threads and battles and flaming, troll discussions. This is something that stands out to me as a problem for this movie. The thing Marvel did right with Iron Man, Thor, The Avengers etc... is they never set out to make it seem "real".They were always over the top comic book movies. It meant they could introduce an invading alien army and have it not look ridiculous. Kudos to Snyder and Goyer for making Superman seem like he fits within the real world. They hit the nail on the head with that goal IMHO with Man of Steel - but this undermines the action they're taking now. And THAT I think is the movies biggest problem.

This serves no purpose - I just love the picture.

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Why I Love Superman

Wow… an entire site of devoted comic fans who can share their thoughts, feelings, wondering, musings…. This is why I love the internet. As my first official blog post, I just wanted to get that out there. I’m considering it highly unlikely this will ever be read (ever… by anyone), but I’m going to persist anyway.

Considering my username (and despite its minor miss-spelling which I can’t change now), I thought my first post should be WHY Superman, above all others, has the pride of being my favourite character, and why exactly “I wish I was Superman”.

Let me start with pointing out the level of my obsession. There are photos around of me, as a small child (I’m thinking around the 4 or 5 year old mark) wearing a red cape, while playing with my sister. I’m also sure there are photos where in my mind I was being Superman, wearing said red cape, some red undies (on top of my clothes, of course!), and for some unknown reason yellow gumboots and yellow goggles (they were Batman goggles of all things). This wasn't uncommon attire for me as a child, according to stories by my family. Don’t ask me why I had the goggles on. The logic of small children doesn't always make sense upon reflection.

OK - here's the proof I used to play with dolls.... but at least I was Superman when I did it... (BTW, I'm the one on the left)

Now many people grow out of this type of behaviour – I didn't (OK, I admit I eventually stopped dressing that way). Throughout my life Superman has been a constant thing – an obsession, if you will – that has been with me for the entirety of my life as near as I can tell. Every time I would find myself in a news-agency I would hunting to see if there was a Superman comic I could convince my mum to buy. When I had my own money you can be sure it was spent on a Superman comic when I could actually locate one. Unfortunately it wasn't easy to come by comics (especially Superman ones) when I was younger. As I grew older and things like the internet made it easier to obtain material, I finally started to grow my Superman memorabilia and comic collection. Now it in no-way is very exhaustive (like many, I do have limited funds to dedicate to this), but it is steadily growing and I hope to one day have my own “Fortress of Solitude” where I can display and catalogue all my various Superman paraphernalia.

So the question is – why? Why Superman? Why not Batman, or Spiderman, or any other of the thousands of comic book characters and superheros out there? Well I’m going to try and explain that as best I can in 3 points.

1. It all starts with Superman – Like it or not, love him or hate him – Superman was the 1st. If Stan Lee is the father of modern comic books – Superman is God. He started it all. Everyone who has come along since then has been in some way a direct (or indirect) response to him. I know there was comic books before Superman and even heroes, but the quintessential “Superhero” that we all look at today began with the creation of the world sgreatest hero thanks to Jerry Siegal and Joe Shuster. And for me, I’m one of those guys that thinks you just can’t get past the original.

2. THE POWER!!!!! – Throughout his time, this has changed considerably – up and down, leaping tall buildings to inter-galactic flight… the list goes on how he’s been powered up (and down) throughout the ages. But again, the amount of power (and number of powers) he wields is something anyone would be impressed by. There are those stronger, those who “out power” him due to the nature of their powers, and there is even gods. But the power to accomplish almost anything, the power to protect yourself and friends and family, to help others in an almost unlimited way always appealed to me.

THIS!

3. What Superman represents – We all know the saying – “Truth, Justice and the American way”. Now I’m not American, so that never meant much to me. But his morals, his strength of character always, ALWAYS stood out to me. I always saw Spiderman as a bit of a bully – insulting his enemies while he fights them. Yes, it’s funny – but how is he any better than say Flash Thompson picking on him then? He isn't “rising above” the bullies of the world – he becomes one of them. Batman’s “do whatever it takes” approach never sat right with me. Where do you draw the line? Batman for me always represented the worst side of what a hero can be – yeah, he fights the good fight and protects people – but in a way that plays to fear, intimidation, and the worst parts of humanity. Plus, he’s a sociopath. Not exactly a role model IMHO. Out of them all I always saw Superman as the ultimate good. The light. The beacon. No matter how desperate it might be, he always found a way to win. He always stood his ground. He overcomes whatever obstacle it is, sometimes through sheer force of will, and always, ALWAYS maintained his integrity while doing it. That was what I wanted more than anything. That was his “power” that I gravitated to the most. He was a loner, an outcast in every way – and yet somehow he never let that stop him. Never let it dictate him. Never let it control or define him. He stood up and rose above his circumstances, and showed the world what it meant to be a “hero”.

Now, I’m not saying he doesn't have his faults and inner demons. I'm not saying every Superman comic is a work of literary genius. Yes, I’m aware of some of his shady antics in the past, and the recent Man of Steel movie’s ending was initially a great concern for me (it’s still my favourite movie of all time though, even if it isn't perfect). But these are my opinions and thoughts and feelings. He reflected to me as a child, all the things I wasn't, or the things I wanted to be when I grew up. He was my dream – he was what I wanted to be like, but never could be. I identified with some aspects of him, and others were the fantasy, the day dream, the “if only I could…” As I grew up, I found those reflections and desires never went away and my inner nerd has been constantly fueled by him.

Everyone has a favourite hero for different reasons. And these are mine. I'd be interested to know what everyone else's favourite hero is, and why too (assuming someone else reads this of course).

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