Tag Archives: justice league

The Best Batman Ever

11 Jun

As the third and final installment of the Christopher Nolan-helmed Batman films, The Dark Knight Rises, is released the week of 19 July, already fans are speculating about the future of Batman in film and what direction the franchise may take.

The Batman character is among a handful of “super-heroes” that have transcended from popular culture into myth, joining the ranks of characters now forever linked to human culture. These mythic figures include the likes of Sherlock Holmes, Dracula, Robin Hood, King Arthur and Hercules. It’s no surprise that since the Batman’s debut in Detective Comics #27 in 1939, he has been interpreted by hundreds of writers, artists and filmmakers.

For my favorite versions the Batman in any medium, click here for the story published in Yahoo!

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Top 5 Most Improved Superhero Franchises

5 May

Can you imagine David Hasselhoff as Nick Fury? Yes, it really happened. Be happy Samuel L. Jackson replaced him for the Marvel movie francises.

Super hero franchises don’t always get it right the first time. A number of comic book franchises today flopped miserably in their first forays into television and film. Through some trial and error (Captain America with a plastic shield? A Batman suit with nipples?) , various comic-book movies and television shows have gotten their acts together and delivered incarnations that audiences have finally come to embrace.

See the full list published in Yahoo!

 

Here are clips from the Captain America TV movies:

 

Here’s a clip from that awful Justice League live action pilot:

 

And finally, here’s “The Hoff” as Nick Fury:

Green Lantern: the Grumpy Fanboy review

27 Jun

Green Lantern, like many film disappointments of the past – Spider-Man 3, every Highlander sequel, every Alien sequel after the second and, most recently, Green Hornet – has left my fanboy psyche so scarred, I’m going to try to forget I ever saw it.

I really wanted to enjoy Green Lantern. I really did. Not only is Hal Jordan one of my favorite childhood heroes of all time, I also love the lore developed over the years behind the Green Lantern Corps itself. With today’s special effects and the success rate of recent comic book adaptations – Iron Man, the Dark Knight, Thor and X-Men: First Class in particular – this film had every reason to be great.

The film has since been universally reviled by critics. It’s not hard to sum up why: The film never takes itself seriously enough for you to relate to the lead character or feel any emotion at all. (Unless you count the gag reflex an emotion.) You never get a sense of the Green Lantern Corps’ importance or who exactly they guard the universe against. Hal Jordan (played by Ryan Reynolds) is passed on the most powerful weapon in the universe by the dying Green Lantern Abin Sur so that he can … well, we’re not sure exactly. Later we see him beat up three thugs and stop a helicopter crash. Could that be it?

For a super-hero film, too much of the story in conveyed through words rather than genuine story-telling. We hear other Green Lanterns saying over and over again what an honor and how rare it is for one to be chosen. But once on the Green Lantern home planet of Oa, his training lasts for all of 15 minutes, after which he says, “I quit” and the rest of the Lanterns appear to reply, “Okay”.

You never get a sense of dread about the looming danger. We hear that an entity called Parallax has destroyed two inhabited worlds and killed four Green Lanterns (including its “greatest warrior, Abin Sur”). Yet when he arrives on earth, Parallax appears little more than a black cloud that breaks windows and flips over a few cars. In the end he is all-too-easily beaten by the rookie Green Lantern. Why a bunch of more seasoned Lanterns were unable to accomplish the same feat is never made clear.

There is no credible transformation for Hal from failure to hero. Green Lanterns become great by overcoming fear, we understand. But since we know from the opening scene that Hal is a test pilot willing to risk stalling the jet engine on his own aircraft in order to achieve victory, conquering fear never appears to be his problem. In the end, what finally allows him to become the courageous hero is a pep talk from his girlfriend, who tells him, “You’re courageous.” Problem solved!

Green Lantern never quite takes off. Its characters are unlikable and its emotional dilemmas are contrived and superficial. The script seemed more preoccupied stringing together wise cracks and satisfying female audiences by showing Ryan Reynolds shirtless. Most unforgivable of all – at least for us grumpy fanboys – are the missed opportunities to provide nods to the source material. Of all the Lanterns in the Corps, only Sinestro, Tomar-Re and Kilowog appear. A few more familiar faces would have been welcome. It’s an adaptation that never gives its  loyal fans any respect nor provides enough opportunities to hook new ones.

Grumpy Fanboy rating: 2/5

Green Lantern is still one of my all-time favorite characters. Fortunately, if you’re looking for more satisfying on-screen incarnations of DC Comics’ emerald guardian, you can always turn to their animated features:

Green Lantern: First Flight (2009)

DC’s first full-length feature film for DVD provides a decent origin story for Hal Jordan. This is what the live-action film should have based its story on.

Green Lantern: Emerald Knights (2011)

A collection of six stories about the Green Lantern Corps give you a better understanding of the legacy of the universe’s self-appointed police force.

 Justice League TV series (2001-2006)

Although featuring Jon Stewart and not Hal Jordan, this series best portrayed the Green Lantern Corps in all its glory. In particular, check out episodes “Blackest Night (Parts 1 & 2)”, “Hearts & Minds (Parts 1 &2)” and “The Once and Future Thing (Part 2)”, in which Hal makes a cameo appearance.

Justice League: The New Frontier (2008)

Apart from being an adaptation of Darwyn Cooke’s excellent comic book series, it also offers one of the most compelling Hal Jordan origin stories ever made.

Green Lantern: the Animated Series (scheduled for release in 2013)

Creatively led by Bruce Timm, best known for his work on Justice League, Batman and the Superman animated series), this upcoming series shows a lot of promise. Plus it’s the first among DC’s animated projects to go full CGI. Check out the trailer:

Green Lantern: Emerald Knights trailer

27 Feb

Take a look at the trailer for the upcoming DC Universe animated film, Green Lantern: Emerald Knights. The format appears to be similar to Batman: Gotham Knight, in the sense that it’s made up of inter-connected stories following six “legendary” Green Lanterns. Fans will finally get to see (or at least hearNathan Fillion — a fan favorite for the lead in the upcoming Green Lantern live-action movie before Ryan Reynolds was awarded the role — play the role of Hal Jordan. Also joining the cast are Kelly Hu (X2), Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men) and Jason Isaacs (Harry Potter series).

Green Lantern: Emerald Knights will be out on DVD & BluRay on 7 June 2011, 10 days before the theatrical release of the Green Lantern feature film.

10 Future Scenarios Worse than a Sarah Palin Presidency

5 Nov

Does the prospect of Sarah Palin in the White House scare you? Comic books show us it could be much, much worse.

Following gains by the Republicans in the US House of Representatives during the recent mid-term elections, there is renewed speculation that Sarah Palin will emerge as the GOP’s presidential candidate in 2012. While there are many who are elated by this prospect, the possibility of a Palin presidency is causing concern both from within the Democratic Party and the GOP itself.

Relax, people! Let’s put this possible future into perspective. Those of us who have read comic books all our lives are no strangers to disastrous futures. Here’s a list of my favorite future scenarios … all of which are far worse than having a self-described “Mama Grizzly” as leader of the world’s most powerful nation:

10. The Kamandi future

Sometime in the future, most of the human race is wiped out in a calamity known only as the “Great Disaster”. Intelligent animals (who now walk upright like humans) become the dominant life forms, including gorilla, tiger, lion, rat and dog men. Humans regress into a more primitive state and are used mainly as slave labor by their animal masters.

This is the world of Kamandi, the last boy on Earth, first published in 1972 (DC Comics).

9. The Judge Dredd future


Following nuclear holocaust, mankind is forced to live in over-crowded “Mega-Cities” because what’s left of the US is an irradiated wasteland called the “Cursed Earth”. Crime is rampant and the cities are policed only by “Street Judges” (like the hero) who have the power to arrest, sentence and even execute those they deem criminals on the spot.

Judge Dredd first appeared in the British science fiction anthology 2000 AD in 1977.

8. Days of Future Past

A group of mutants assassinate a US Senator, prompting the government to activate the Sentinels, deadly giant robots, who then decide that the only way to eradicate the mutant threat is to take over the government. Thousands of mutants, super-powered humans and ordinary humans alike are slaughtered in the process. The survivors are herded into concentration camps.

We saw a glimpse of this future in “Days of Future Past”, X-Men #141-142, published in 1981 (Marvel Comics).

7. The Hellboy Apocalypse 

The elder gods known as the Ogdru Jahad invade the earth from their hellish dimension and sweep over the planet, killing everyone. Hellboy fulfills his role as the Anung Un Rama (the Beast of the Apocalypse), ushering in the End of the World.

Hellboy’s role in the Apocalypse was first foretold (though not actually played out) in the first miniseries Hellboy: Seed of Destruction in 1994 (Dark Horse Comics). We also got a glimpse of these scenes in the first Hellboy movie.

6. The Dark Knight Returns future

The Cold War never ends, criminal gangs run wild in the cities and the US government is a fascist state with Ronald Reagan as President. All super-hero activity has been declared illegal, except for a certain blue and red-clad Kryptonian who operates in secret on the orders of the government.

This future was seen through the eyes of an elderly Bruce Wayne, forced out of retirement in The Dark Knight Returns, published in 1986 (DC Comics).

5. The Kingdom Come future

Super-human activity reaches its apex. Battles between meta-humans spill out daily onto the streets of America’s cities, without heed to property damage or civilian casualties. The conflict erupts into full civil war, prompting the United Nations to order a nuclear bomb dropped on American soil.

These events were chronicled in the miniseries Kingdom Come, published in 1996 (DC Comics).

4. The Y: The Last Man future

A mysterious plague wipes out every living mammal possessing a Y chromosome — including embryos, fertilized eggs, and even sperm. The only survivors are a male New York resident and his pet monkey. The survivors (all women) must deal with what remains of the world, including humanity’s impending extinction.

This future was depicted in Y: The Last Man, published in 2002 (Vertigo / DC Comics).

3. The OMAC future


Sometime in the future, a catastrophe puts an end to civilization as we know it. Cities lie in ruin and zombie-like monsters roam the subways. The world is policed by the Global Peace Agency and its single super-human operative, code name: One Man Army Corps (OMAC).

OMAC: One Man Army Corps was first published in 1974 (DC Comics).

2. A Better World

Lex Luthor is elected President of the United States and then assassinated by none other than Superman. The Justice League then decides to take over the United States government, running the country as a police state. They then change their name to the Justice Lords.

This alternate future was shown in the two-part “A Better World” from the Justice League cartoon TV series in 2003.

1. The Old Man Logan future

In the not-too-distant future, the United States is taken over and divided between a number of super-villains, namely Doctor Doom, Magneto, the Red Skull and the Abomination. (The latter’s territory is then seized by the Hulk.) Most of the population, including the super-heroes, is dead and most of the US is now a barren wasteland.

We saw this future through the eyes of an elderly Logan (aka Wolverine) in the miniseries Wolverine: Old Man Logan, published in 2008 (Marvel Comics).


Grumpy Fanboy’s Top Legion of Super-Heroes On-screen Appearances

5 Sep

Toyfare #158 announced that DC Direct will soon be launching 12 new action figures from Superboy & the Legion of Super-Heroes. I’ve always had a soft spot for teenagers with super-powers – Captain Marvel, the Teen Titans, the X-Men – but I love the Legion most of all.

Since they first appeared in Adventure Comics #247 (April 1958), the Legion of Super-Heroes has rarely had more than cult-status success, never quite achieving the popularity levels of other comic book teams like the Justice League, the Avengers or the Fantastic Four.

So if you’re a long-time Legion fan like myself, you’ve waited breathlessly for any appearance of the Legion outside the pages of the comic books. Here’s a quick look at all their on-screen appearances so far:

“New Kids in Town”, Superman the Animated Series

Aired in 1998, Cosmic Boy, Chameleon Boy and Saturn Girl travel back in time and team with young Clark Kent. Although these three get the most air time, other Legionnaires make cameo appearances, too.

You get no more than a glimpse of the Legion but seeing these familiar characters for the first time in animation was a real treat. To my knowledge, this is the first time the Legion appeared in a story outside of the printed page.

“Far From Home”, Justice League Unlimited

Aired in 2006, Brainiac 5 and Bouncing Boy travel back in time and bring Supergirl, Green Arrow and Green Lantern to the 31st century to rescue the rest of the Legion from the Fatal Five. You also get to see Blok, Chameleon Boy, Colossal Boy, Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad, Phantom Girl, Saturn Girl, Shadow Lass, Timber Wolf, Ultra Boy and Wildfire in action. At the end of the episode, Supergirl decides to stay behind and fulfill her destiny as a full time Legionnaire.

Overall, a satisfying story though I wish it had focused on more of my favorite Legionnaires. (I mean, why Bouncing Boy???) I also particularly enjoyed the emphasis on  Kara, who appears in her more familiar blue & red outfit for the first time in the series.

Legion of Super-Heroes animated series

Aired in September 2006, the Legion with a core team of Bouncing Boy, Brainiac 5, Lightning Lad, Phantom Girl, Saturn Girl, Superman and Timber Wolf were introduced with its own full series. Other Legionnaires such as Chameleon Boy, Cosmic Boy, Colossal Boy, Ferro Lad, Matter-Eater Lad, and Triplicate Girl would also appear in later episodes. The series lasted two seasons, the longest ever on-screen run of the LSH.

The extended exposure was terrific and the series even revisited familiar events in Legion lore, such as the death of Ferro Lad at the hands of the Sun-Eater. I did not like that Brainiac 5 was turned into a machine and that (again) Bouncing Boy was selected to be a central character. The introduction in the second season of Superman X, a clone of the original, to fight side-by-side with the original Superman was a strange choice. What were they thinking???

“Legion”, Smallville

Aired in January 2009, the Legion of Super-Heroes appeared in live action for the first time ever.  Reprising their first appearance in the comics, the original Legionnaires Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl travel back in time to rescue Clark from a time-displaced menace.

As much as I hate Smallville for its low production value, lousy acting and – most of all – its penchant for shitting all over DC Universe continuity, I couldn’t help but download this episode. Seeing the original three Legionnaires raise their flight rings and say “Long Live the Legion!” still makes this appearance worth seeing.

Check out my Youtube channel for more appearances of the Legion of Super-Heroes in my Virtual Action Figure Collection. LLL!

Grumpy Fanboy’s DC Comics Secret Identities Quiz

3 Sep

DC Comics recently revealed that, following Bruce Wayne’s return from the dead, Dick Grayson will hang on to the cape & cowl. That means that two characters will get to call themselves the Batman. (The last time this happened was during the aftermath of the Knightfall story arc, when Wayne forcibly reclaimed the Batman mantle from Jean-Paul Valley by beating him to a pulp. This time, it seems the sharing of the Batman name will be on decidedly friendlier terms.)

DC Comics has had a long career of characters sharing hero names. Over the years, names like Green Lantern, the Flash, Green Arrow, Doctor Mid-Nite, Doctor Fate, Wildcat and Starman have been passed down to a younger generation of heroes (usually family members or former sidekicks).

Think you know a lot about the secret identities of DC Comics characters? Take this quiz and find out.