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Holy Hollywood, Batman!

So…Ben Affleck is the new Batman. My brain has been whirring with thoughts on this ever since I found out yesterday morning, but I thought it would be safe to sleep on it before I made any comments. Sleep achieved. Here we go, kids…

Let me first bring out the disclaimer that I really like Ben Affleck. I think he’s an excellent filmmaker and a pretty good actor. Argo  was my favorite movie from last year, so I was overjoyed when it won the Oscar for Best Picture. Despite what I’m calling a “rough patch” of acting choices in the early 2000’s, Affleck’s work of late has been pretty remarkable. 

All that said, I’m having a really tough time wrapping my head around the idea that he’s going to be donning the pointy cowl. Some of you regular readers are already aware of my undying love for the Batman. I think part of the problem here is that I just can’t picture Affleck in the suit. I can see him as a Bruce Wayne type, but that’s as far as I can mentally go at this early stage.

Maybe we’ve been ruined by the perfect casting of Christian Bale as the previous incarnation of our hero. That Christopher Nolan storyline (and the 3 movies) lived in its own separate universe as opposed to the previous Batman films which all sort of latched on to one another. Bale was Batman! 

I think we’re so embedded in Nolan’s universe, that it’s hard to see the other potential Bat universes that are out there. I love the Nolan universe! I really don’t want to leave. But I know that I have to in order to move on.

 I’ve decided that I’m probably underestimating Affleck. After all, when Michael Keaton was cast as the Bat for the 1989 Tim Burton production, people freaked out. Mr. Mom / Beetlejuice was going to be Bruce Wayne??!! It didn’t even compute. And guess who is my favorite Batman after Christian Bale? Yep, Keaton. Maybe we are in the same boat here with Affleck. So, after much thought, I’ve decided that I won’t be one of the naysayers. I’ll lend my meagre support to Mr. Affleck. Good luck to you, sir!

 Besides, this casting decision isn’t for a stand-alone Batman flick. It’s a Batman and Superman movie that will act as the sequel to this summer’s Man of Steel. I confess that I have yet to see MoS. It’s on my Netflix queue. That counts for something, right? I digress.

If Batman and Superman team up in the movie, then okay, cool. That will be interesting to see how the smartest man in the world works with the strongest. However, if they clash…if they find themselves at odds with one another, oh boy! I’ll be the girl cheering for Batman. If Affleck’s the one in the suit, I’ve still got his back.

On a Serious Note

I’ll get to a new review very soon, but first…

In the early hours of this morning a guy (for reasons known only to him) walked into a movie theater in Colorado and opened fire on an unsuspecting crowd of moviegoers. Those innocent people were seeing a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises. From the most recent report, 12 people were killed with many, many more injured and shaken up from the ordeal.

Why someone would do something like this is beyond me. It was a truly horrible thing to do, and I have thought about those people in the theater for most of today. I don’t write this entry to rehash the details of the shooting. I write this because of a question a friend asked me earlier this afternoon:

Are you still planning to go see Batman this weekend?

Answer: YES, of course. 

I’m not letting the actions of one deranged person change my behavior and ruin my movie-going experience. I won’t let the fear of something out of my control dictate my actions. As said in Frank Herbert’s Dune (a book everyone should read)  “I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer.”  And yes, it’s from a work of fiction, but I find it useful. 

Any time something bad happens, we most easily go on the defensive. We batten down the hatches and hide. And that’s a natural reaction, I guess. Tell me you weren’t a teensy bit nervous the first time you boarded a plane after the events of 9/11. It might have lasted 3 seconds, or maybe the entire flight. It was there—that doubt, that tiny fear that it could happen again, and this time to you. The first time I was in the driver’s seat of my car after I had been in a bad wreck, I was a pile of nerves. It took a few times in the car before I could drive without flinching any time someone pulled up behind me.

I predict something similar will happen when folks go into a movie theater. Maybe it’ll be a second-long thought or maybe it will be the whole film, but folks will understandably be a little nervous. Again, normal. A movie theater should be a place of escape—a safe zone, and now that feeling of security is fractured. But I’m not going to let the fear of an idea that another shooting stop me from going. Something like that could happen at any time any day in any place. We can’t hide at home. If we stop our lives, the crazy people win.

I’ve heard that theaters across the country are beefing up security, and I appreciate that.  I think that will be a comfort.  So yeah… I’ll be heading to the movies as planned this weekend. I hope you will too.

Wolverines and Spiders and Bats—Oh My!

So the new Spider-Man movie releases this week. If you’ve read any of the coverage on this film, you’d know that folks are a bit divided on it. Is it a wise move in rebooting a bankable franchise so soon? What does this say about our Batman prospects since the last installment of that franchise releases this summer?

Bruce is so cool.

I’m a little bit unsure about seeing The Amazing Spider-Man. I sort of feel it is too soon. But then again, the last movie was so bad that I haven’t seen it since that initial ill-fated trip to the theater. Not even Bruce Campbell’s shining beacon of a comedic cameo could save this film. While I enjoyed that scene, along with Topher Grace’s jangly teeth as Venom, and James Franco’s character development as Harry Osborn/ New Goblin, the rest of the movie was pretty much worthy of being in one of my reviews.

First of all, there were too many villains. What allowed the first two Spider-Man movies to work was the concentration on one villain. That’s what went wrong, in my opinion, with the Batman franchise once Joel Schumacher took over. His first foray, Batman Forever, introduced both The Riddler AND Two-Face. We could have done without Two-Face completely. I think it was more of a “how many Bat-villains can we fit into this movie” type thing. Schumacher did the same thing again with Batman & Robin. This time, we had to deal with Poison Ivy and Mr. Freeze. The movies began to feel more like the Adam West TV-show, and a lot less than the darker storyline that Tim Burton had brought to the screen. I know there are a lot of Burton version naysayers out that, and that’s their opinion. But I think Burton saw the darkness in Batman and put his own spin on that.

Christopher Nolan has also seen the dark side of the Bat, and his versions while not phantasmagorical like Burton’s, are certainly not campy like Schumacher’s. Thank goodness. His movies have been gritty and dark, full of stressful situations and tough decisions. In his movies Batman never has it easy. Every obstacle is a test, and there are no correct answers. But more to that later. Back to the spider issue.

I love Sam Raimi. He’s just awesome. I love the Evil Dead movies, and so I was eagerly on board when the first Spider-Man was released back in 2002. The movie was really cool, and when Spider-Man 2  came out a couple years later, I was happy to go see it. I liked that one as well. But something happened around the time of the third film. I don’t know if it was the studio thinking “Bigger = Better= $$$$$$$$$” or issues with the script or what. But aside from the multiple villain mistake, this movie was all over the place. There was a musical dance number in the movie for Pete’s sake!!! I still cannot get over this. Also, Peter Parker had emo-hair and I swear I saw eyeliner on the boy.

And I’ll be honest here. I like Tobey Maguire, but I’ve never been a big fan of him as a superhero. He just seemed too docile. Now, I know Peter Parker is an every-guy and that’s part of the appeal to the character, but I never saw that drive in him. I never saw that need for revenge coupled with the need to defend people from criminals and ne’er-do-wells. This should have sprouted after the death of his uncle at the hands of a man Peter would have caught much earlier and giving us the whole “with great power comes great responsibility” thing. I know it was there, but maybe it was just too subtle. I just didn’t see it.

And that’s sort of why I’m onboard with Andrew Garfield as Peter/Spidey in the new version. Garfield looks gentle but at the same time, I can see a little edge to him. Did you see him in The Social Network? Most folks did. Now go rent the first Red Riding movie. Edge. Not super-sharp and dangerous, but edge nonetheless. I feel the drive might be there in this movie, with this Peter Parker.

I plan to rent The Amazing Spider-Man. I hope the movie does well, but Spider-Man isn’t my guy. My guy is Batman.

Maybe something isn’t wired quite right in my brain, but I love that man. Spider-Man is, above all else, a do-gooder. Superman, while really cool, is a boy scout. Batman….Batman is vengeance and Sherlock Holmes and obsession and all sorts of mysterious emotional baggage. He’s like a shadowy spy. He’s James Bond without the fanfare. He fights evil without having any kind of superhuman/alien powers. His superpower is his mind. That’s just Andrea-candy, that is.

What about the bad-boy thing? Could it be that? Maybe a little, but really who out there doesn’t find Wolverine to be the #1 pick over Cyclops? I dare you to bring that person to me, and when you do, I’ll call them a liar.

I’ve sort of digressed from my opening bit about the new Spider-Man movie. I’m not sure what point I was making. Oh yeah–is it a gamble? A little bit, but I think to the legions of Spider-Man fans, it’s a no-brainer. Like with me and my Bat, they’ll be in line for any incarnation of their hero. Me? I’m waiting for later this month when I can watch my hero. In the meantime, I’ve got Batman: The Animated Series on my Netflix queue. I hope my next disc gets here soon.

The Wonder Woman Movie

Like most people, I had an imaginary friend when I was little. Her name was Wonder Woman. We had many adventures together fighting crime in my backyard or down the street with the neighbor kids.

 Wonder Woman was awesome. She held her own against Superman, Batman, and all the other dudes who worked within the Hall of Justice on Super Friends. She flew an invisible jet. She had good hair, and wore insane red boots. Thanks to my 80s childhood, I got to watch WW in two different formats: animated on Super Friends and then the live-action form of Lynda Carter on Wonder Woman.  I used to spin and spin hoping to activate my own super powers. Instead, I activated some dizziness.

So you would think that when I read in this week’s issue of Entertainment Weekly that a Wonder Woman movie had finally been greenlit, I’d be doing the Dance of Joy. That’s not the case. Instead, I was filled with nothing but dread.

I’ve seen what Hollywood has done to any female superhero/comic book character who gets her own movie. They ruin her. Let’s look at a few examples:

  1.  Super Girl:  This is the end-all, be-all horrible movie for female superheroes. I remember seeing this when I was a kid and having high hopes. I also remember being disappointed. Helen Slater plays the titular character, and she tries. She really does. But the story played out too much, and it just was BAD.  Peter O’Toole and Faye Dunaway couldn’t help this stinker. I’d really just love to banish the whole film to the Phantom Zone. I think that would help.

    Supergirl hanging out at Popeyes

  2.  Elektra:  This movie was a spin-off from Dare Devil starring Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner. DD did very well in theaters, and folks really liked Garner. She was on Alias at the time where she was happily working as a kick-ass spy with an endless supply of wigs and disguises. The movie was supposed to be an origin story for her Elektra character that we met in DD. The movie came across as really flat, and I’ll mention here that I’ve never been able to watch it all the way through.
  3.  Catwoman: Oh Halle Berry! Catwoman was just awful. Horrible! Bad, bad bad. [*using my water gun* Bad kitty!!]

Now, if a female superhero is part of an ensemble, it’s a whole different scenario:

  1.  Black Widow: The only chick in The Avengers movie this summer (well, the only superhero chick) and she holds her own just fine. She also kicked some ass in Iron Man 2.
  2.  Rogue/Jean Grey/Mystique/Storm:  The X-Menmovies were fun, and even though I really only had eyes for Wolverine, the aforementioned characters were noticed. My favorite is Rogue even though by the third movie, she’s a bit of a whiner.
  3.  Catwoman: What, again? Yes, only this is Michelle Pfeiffer in Batman Returns. She was insanein this movie. Awesome.

    Michelle Pfeiffer in Batman Returns

I’m not sure why it works out only when the lady is part of an ensemble cast, but based on the evidence, that’s what we’ve got.

A number of months ago, there was talk of a Wonder Woman tv series. It would be the long-awaited return to the small screen. I think a pilot was shot, there were some promo pics of our heroine. The photos were of some chick in a Wonder Woman costume. She had the hair, and she had the outfit. Yay-rah. But she didn’t stand out as WW.  She just looked like a chick in a costume. I quietly celebrated when the plug was pulled on that one. It just felt wrong.

I’ve read a number of times that Joss Whedon had been very interested in doing a WW movie or tv project. I was all on board for his rendition. So far he hasn’t let me down.  However, for some reason or another, he’s not our man for the proposed WW project. Nope. Instead, we have Michael Goldenberg writing the movie. He was co-writer for last summer’s The Green Lantern. Man…oh man. That movie was, in my opinion, not very good. I remember enjoying it while watching, but I wasn’t blown away. I was kind of bored. I even (and this is a huge insult as far as I’m concerned) forgot I saw it about a week after I saw it.  So I worry.

I hear word that the DC Comics folks are working on a possible Justice League flick. They’ve seen the success of the Marvel characters, and now they want to try it out with their own folks. That’s cool.  And like the Marvel folks, they probably want to set up individual movies first to get the public interested. Man of Steel with Henry Cavill will be out next summer. We’ve already seen The Green Lantern, and I’m very interested to see if DC tries to work Batman into the mix. They can’t leave him out, can they?

It makes sense that DC wants to do a Wonder Woman flick at this time. I’m just so worried that if this film falls into the same spot as the previous solo heroine films, a childhood icon will be forever tainted. I’d almost rather no movie be made. If a WW movie was done right, however, I would be first in line for tickets. Maybe Joss Whedon can write one just for me?