Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Happy 75th Birthday, Batman: Geek Update

It‘s the 75th anniversary today of the first appearance of Batman, by far the most popular superhero despite any claims you may have heard to the contrary. Like many highly popular works of art, Batman is open to interpretation and reinterpretation. For starters, he’s (A) the crazed vigilante who (B) hates guns. Make of him what you will.

Meanwhile, Marvel is doing little documentaries that make explicit the connections between its stories and real-world politics. Here’s a trailer (h/t Ariana Pritchard) for one about their “Civil War” storyline -- a storyline about superheroes having to register with the government, and a storyline about which I organized a debate at Lolita Bar back in the day between Robert A. George and Ken Silber.

This week also brings the fourth film I’ll see this year with Scarlett Johansson as a superhuman of some sort: Her, Under the Skin, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and this Friday Lucy, which Gerard Perry and I mentioned in this recent entry in our series of YouTube chats.

This Lucy is not to be confused with Lucy Steigerwald, for whose blog I wrote about X-Men semi-prophetically.

Other superheroic prophecies that have become easier to make in recent weeks included:

(1) the October-debuting Flash TV show including not only his Rogues Gallery of foes but supporting characters who sound destined to become Vibe, Firestorm, Killer Frost, and even the multiverse-destroying (and inadvertently Flash-killing) Pariah

(2) DC Comics dividing the Justice League roughly in half, with some characters slated only for movies and some only for TV, it appears (if rumors hold, it seems Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Shazam, and Sandman are destined for the big screen, while Green Arrow, Black Canary, Flash, Vibe, Atom, Firestorm, Green Lantern, Constantine, and Doctor Fate probably stick to the small one, but we shall see)

(3) Disney slotting its Marvel film release dates until 2019, with three (up from the usual two) slated for 2017, intriguingly (and these are in addition to whatever X-Men films Fox does and whatever crappy Spider-Man movies Sony continues to crank out), several of them most likely including cameos by the evil Thanos as he collects the six “Infinity Stones” to wield in Avengers 3 (I think, given the Stones we’ve glimpsed already, we can safely assume he’ll collect at least one each in Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Thor 3).

And these same next few years will bring new Star Wars movies and the computer-animated Rebels TV show (technically following the only other thing still considered in-continuity for Star Wars, the Clone Wars computer animated series). I admit Disney has collected good (not super-brilliant, maybe, but solid) directors for the planned films, so far reportedly including J.J. Abrams and Rian Johnson, plus Josh Trank and Gareth Edwards for solo-character (no pun intended) spinoff films.

My biggest fear is that thanks to Rian Johnson, Episodes VIII and IX will make as little psychological sense as the mobsters’ oddly limited and needlessly rule-bound use of time travel in his film Looper. But he’s got style. We shall see. 

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