Category Archives: superman

Rise of the Guardians

Rise of the Guardians ~ This is a fun animated adventure that I actually enjoyed quite a bit. It’s sort of like there’s a Justice League of mythical beings who protect the children of Earth – Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Sandman, and the Tooth Fairy. When the Boogeyman, Pitch Black, rears up to change the status quo for the more evil and nightmarish, these Guardians are called together, but must take in a new member, the reluctant Jack Frost.

There is great voice work here as well as interesting takes and personalities on the different Guardians. Hugh Jackman, being chief among the voicers, is extremely good. Jude Law as the villain, and Alec Baldwin’s Russian Santa Claus are also good. Very entertaining, I wish I’d caught it in theaters so I could have seen it on the big screen.

Guardians strikes me at many levels being similar to the Rankin/Bass holiday specials of my youth. Here are tales of Santa, the Easter Bunny, etc. for a new generation, and just as believable as they were back then. You’ll leave this movie feeling refreshed and filled with hope, and not just a little childlike wonder. This is how a Superman movie should leave you. Maybe we can hijack those writers for the next chapter in that franchise.

Rise of the Guardians was a breath of fresh air and good entertainment for the whole family, recommended.

Man of Steel – My Take

Man of Steel ~ We’ve been on this ride before, a new Superman movie. I remember the thrill and awe of the first two movies with Christopher Reeve, and the disappointment of the following two as well. And then two decades later we got Superman Returns, and while I had huge issues with the ‘super stalker’ and ‘deadbeat dad’ subplots, Brandon Routh wasn’t bad as the man of steel, Kevin Spacey was brilliant as Lex Luthor, and the plane rescue had to have been the single greatest superhero special effects scene filmed up until that point. I enjoyed quite a bit of it. And if I enjoyed it… you know what Hollywood has to do, change it.

I have talked before about how I feel about origin stories, no need to chew on that again. But the fact is they (writer David Goyer and director Zack Snyder) have changed Superman’s origin. If not for the fact that everyone knows Superman’s origin I wouldn’t have a problem with it. It’s the Moses story, the Jesus story, the immigrant story, the perfect origin for a perfect hero, and they had to tamper with it.

In this new version, there is no requisite scene of Jor-El and Lara holding each other as krypton explodes and their son rockets away to safety and his destiny. It reminded me of the latest movie version of Spider-Man where Uncle Ben never says, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Why? If it’s not broke, don’t fix it. Some traditions should stand.

Instead of a tender tragic moment, Man of Steel delivers the Kryptonian Civil War, General Zod murdering Jor-El, and Lara on the stuffy Science Council (although unnamed as such in this flick). At the last minute, almost as an afterthought, they go, oh by the way, Krypton is doomed, and about to go boom. We spend a good twenty minutes or so on Krypton, not a frozen crystalline weirdness that it’s been on film for decades, but almost something resembling the comics Krypton. I loved the wing machine, Kelex, and the jungles and cities. I would have squeeed if we’d gotten the actual Scarlet Jungle or a thought beast.

Zod here is a military leader who attempts a coup on the council, and with his underlings (the also unnamed Black Zero terrorists, a name only learned from movie affiliated toys), is sentenced to do time in a space singularity. Again, we don’t hear the words ‘Phantom Zone’ until much much later. What is Goyer’s resistance to using correct terms for people and things?

We did get a few little tidbits in the flick. No after credits scene or cameos or even mentions of other DC characters really. We did see a LexCorp truck at one point. I was thrilled seeing the names of real Phantom Zone character names in the credits – had I heard them out loud in the film, I would have loved this movie a lot more. Jax-Ur! Dev-Em! Nadira! We’re talking fanboy heaven here. Comics fans like Easter eggs, why not give us a few?

The cast was surprising, both good and bad. Amy Adams as Lois Lane is the plucky reporter from the 1940s Fleischer cartoons, wonderfully updated not to a 2013 standard but to a respectful current version. She won’t seem dated to audiences a few decades from now as Margot Kidder does in her then highly acclaimed tour as Lane. Watching her performances now just scream 1970s so loud. Adams is amazing for the most part, only briefly falling into annoying mode once or twice.

Henry Cavill, in my opinion, and I know many friends who disagree, is only just adequate. He is suitable alien, and distant, and anti-social. Superman is an alien, yes, but he’s not any of those other things. He is sensitive, and caring. Remember in Superman II when the three Phantom Zone villains discover his true weakness? He cares. Cavill’s Superman never gives me that impression ever. In Man of Steel, when Zod demands that Kal-El be delivered to him, if it was Christopher Reeve, or even Brandon Routh, the Superman/Zod confrontation would have happened in the next few seconds, or however long it would take super speed to get our hero to the villain’s lair. Goyer’s Cavill takes his damned time.

Henry Cavill as Superman lacks heart, he lacks love. Superman loves the human race, he believes in the human race, and he wants to make them better, to inspire them to greatness. I never believed Cavill in the role except for one or two brief moments. Let’s face it, and I’m not saying this to be old school – put Christopher Reeve in this exact film, in this same role, with the same dialogue and direction, and I would believe him, Cavill I would not, and do not.

Kevin Costner will hopefully be remembered come Oscar time because he deserves it for his performance as Jonathan Kent. That said, I hated the character of Pa Kent in this movie. Just the concept that he would tell his son maybe he should have let people die rather than reveal his powers just aggravates the hell out of me, and is so against his character. And his death, his sacrifice that forces young Clark not to save him when he easily could have… I wanted to scream at the screen. Who is this man? Because it sure as hell isn’t Jonathan Kent.

Speaking of fathers, Russell Crowe’s Jor-El leaves the movie early, as I mentioned, a victim of General Zod. He returns later in a method similar to the earlier Superman films, as a hologram, or more accurately an interactive artificial intelligence. What boggled my mind is the fact that Crowe as Jor-El had more chemistry with Adams as Lois than Cavill’s Superman did.

I was a bit iffy about Michael Shannon’s Zod at first. He can be brilliant but sometimes he’s a one note actor. If we’re judging Shannon as if he was playing Terrence Stamp’s general Zod, he fails miserably, but the thing is he’s not. This is a different Zod. He is almost a heroic figure. He is commissioned with the responsibility of continuing the Kryptonian race, and Kal-El actually stands in his way, a war criminal of sorts, the one keeping krypton from flourishing again. Really, how can we root against a man with that new MO and motivation? Despite his methods, this is one of the good guys, right? Shannon’s portrayal is good, only falling into cartoon mode once or twice.

As long as we’re talking about Zod, we come to two of my biggest problems with Man of Steel. Here be spoilers, be warned. Superman has to murder Zod to stop him. At the climax of the film, Zod gets desperate and starts to heat vision a family so Superman breaks his neck. The powers that be behind this flick, Goyer and Snyder, among others, have defended this move, saying that Superman has to learn not to kill by having experienced it.

Hello? Bullshit. I call shenanigans, as they say on “South Park.” I don’t have to kill someone to know it’s wrong. You don’t have to kill someone to know it’s wrong. Why does Superman, the pinnacle of all that is good and right in the world, not already know this like you and me? Superman, the real Superman, would have found a way to stop Zod without killing him. That’s what makes him freaking Superman!

Yes, something similar happened in the comics. John Byrne had Superman execute Zod and two other Phantom Zone villains in the post-Crisis continuity, and I hated it then as I hate it now. With over seventy-five years of source material it hurts me deeply that the hero’s darkest hour is what some people think should be brought to the screen. There are much better stories, people, probably hundreds, if not more.

One thing that superhero movies have brought to the screen recently, especially the billion dollar blockbuster, Marvel’s The Avengers, is the level of destruction. Well, super powers, the wrath of gods, can bring wholesale destruction down on us all, and now with the special effects available and the popularity of superheroes, we can now show combat on a scale similar to what is sometimes shown in comics.

Listen to me carefully. It does not translate to the big screen. I want to see these big smash-ups and slugfests as much as the next guy, but when it happens in ‘real life’ in a movie, it just does not work. We live in a post-9/11 world, and even over a decade later, those images have a blood curdling effect. To borrow the words of comics writer Mark Waid, it’s disaster porn, plain and simple, and I don’t wait to see it. I want to leave a Superman film inspired, uplifted, wanting to make the world a better place – not mourning the dead.

In conclusion, Man of Steel was a good movie, but it wasn’t a good Superman movie. I look more forward to Batman Vs. Superman, or maybe the much anticipated Justice League film, than I do ever seeing this one again.

For other perspectives, including my own, below is the Biff Bam Popcast featuring Andy Burns, JP Fallavollita, Jason Shayer, and special guest, Michael Moreci of the Hoax Hunters comic series, done at the time of the film’s theatrical release:


And then there’s also JP Fallavollita’s review of the film at Biff Bam Pop! here for a very different view.

Arrow S02 E05: "League of Assassins"

We open on a Queen’s Gambit flashback, this one surprisingly from Sarah’s point of view, and turns out to be a nightmare. Girl has more PTSD and origin flashbacks in ten minutes than Oliver had all last season. Good thing an assassin in Dark Archer garb attacked to break the tension. Turns out he’s a member of the League of Assassins, yeah, Ras al Ghul’s League of Assassins, and in a fit of fashion faux pas, they all dress like John Barrowman in costume.

After the attack, in the Arrowcave with Diggle and Felicity, we get the lowdown. After the boat went down, Sarah was rescued and trained by the League of Assassins. The guy who attacked was called The First (who trained Merlyn), and was sent to take out Sarah. And, da da dum, the outfit of The Hood was first worn by Shado. I wonder where that little tidbit will go.

On the soap opera side of things, Moira is still coming up to trial, with Laurel prosecuting. It’s life with possibility of parole or the death penalty. Wow. It sounds like Starling City has the same corrupt and ridiculous legal system as Gotham City. Is Moira Queen worse than the Joker? Everyone is suitably whiny about this.

To protect her father, Sara reveals herself. She brings him to her watchtower and tells him she took the name Canary. There Sarah, her dad, and Oliver, just a little bit take down the assassins come to kill them. Good fight, but really it’s Sarah’s fight, and Quentin’s. Oliver just kinda watches, then shoots an arrow or two, like, “Hey, I thought this was my show.”

As if that’s not enough, Sarah’s flashback reveals she was rescued by Professor Anthony Ivo on his ship, the Amazo, and he’s going to save the human race. Oh boy. Time for a comics lesson. For the uninitiated, Ivo is a mad scientist, capital M mad with an immortality obsession. That’s not his claim to fame however. That would be Amazo, and it’s not a boat.

Amazo is a giant eight-foot tall android that Ivo created, super strong, near invulnerable, and a sociopath. As if that wasn’t good enough, he has these energy absorption powers, which allowed him to gain the powers of the Justice League, all of them, even Superman. Armed with a replica of Green Lantern’s power ring and Wonder Woman’s golden lasso, and all those powers, Amazo has terrorized the Justice League for decades. Yeah, that’s the legacy of Professor Ivo.

This kind of makes me wonder… how many big bads will we have this season? We have Brother Blood, possibly Ras al Ghul, possibly Suicide Squad coming, maybe Metamorpho, hell, maybe Trigon. And who knows what things will be like once the Flash shows up. One wonders how big this could be, will the rumored “Amazon” show, and the just announced “Hourman” series tie in as well?

I didn’t know what to think of the special mini-adventure “Blood Rush” with Felicity and Roy. In the space I took to explain it, it’s over, so at this point, it seemed a waste of time. Perhaps it would be better as a webseries?

Next week: The return of Deadshot, Amanda Waller, and maybe… the Suicide Squad??

RIP Lou Scheimer

Lou Scheimer, the father of Filmation, and the king of American television animation for many of our childhoods, has passed away at the age of 84.

Filmation was a small animation studio, one of the few still doing animation in the United States, rather than shipping it overseas. Founded by Scheimer, Hal Sutherland, and Norm Prescott in 1962, they did some little known cartoons like “Rod Rocket.” They really caught fire when they licensed the DC Comics characters in 1966.

Beginning with “The New Adventures of Superman,” they began to expand to shorts that featured other characters like Superboy, Aquaman, Batman and Robin, and later the Justice League of America and the Teen Titans, as well as those groups’ individual members. These cartoons were, along with the 1966 “Batman” TV series on ABC, my gateway drug into comic books. My love of Aquaman, Superboy, and others sprang from early viewings.

The DC deal brought another comics company to Filmation’s offices, and Archie came to Saturday morning animation for years under their guidance. Later in the 1970s, Filmation became a major player in the animation game, producing cartoons of “The Brady Kids,” “Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids,” and “Star Trek: The Animated Series” among many others.

Filmation delved into live-action with shows like “Isis,” “Space Academy” and Shazam.” While the studio began to get a reputation for repeating backgrounds, limited animation, recycling designs, rapid jump cuts, and using the same music over again, they had also produced some real quality programming as well.

In the 1980s Filmation produced some of its most well known shows like “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe,” which featured, like many of the previous shows, a lesson at the end of every episode. Before closing up shop in 1989, Filmation also produced over the years some very cool versions of Flash Gordon, Tarzan, and the Lone Ranger, using then fairly new rotoscoping techniques.

With the loss of Lou Scheimer on Friday, we have lost one the legends of animation, and for me, a big chunk of my childhood. He’ll be missed.

Lego Batman: The Movie – DC Super Heroes Unite

Lego Batman: The Movie – DC Super Heroes Unite ~ I am always wary of movies, books, and even potato chips that have long titles and subtitles, and this one is a doozy. I shouldn’t have worried though, because it’s Lego, and Lego is always cool, even when I can’t play their video games.

From the get-go, this was good. The opening is a Lego take off on the opening credit sequence of Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman, and even uses Danny Elfman’s great score (and later John Williams’ Superman music). And if that’s not cool enough, it has Clancy Brown wonderfully reprising his role as the animated Lex Luthor. What’s not to like?

The story is simple enough, and accessible to new viewers perhaps not savvy to the DC Universe continuity. Luthor joins up with the Joker to defeat Superman, Batman and Robin, destroy Gotham City, and win the Presidential election. Throw in guest stars from the Justice League and Batman’s Rogues Gallery, along with that clever Lego sense of humor, and you’ve got a very entertaining flick for all ages.

Of course it has all the charm and wonder of the animated Lego stuff, that coolness of hey-I-could-build-that and a wink-wink slyness that the characters know they and their world are made of Legos. The cityscapes and sets of Gotham and Metropolis are stunning. The best part is Luthor’s weapon, which is a gun that literally takes Legos apart.

Watching this I can’t help thinking that this could probably not only be better than Warner Bros’ upcoming Batman/Superman movie, but quite possibly could serve as an excellent script or template. If only…

Ben Affleck Is Batman!

So Ben Affleck will play Batman in the upcoming sequel to Man of Steel, likely to be called Batman Vs. Superman.

The announcement came late last night while my friend Ray and I were recording this week’s GAR! Podcast. Had we known, we surely would have been discussing it. Instead you get the usual Prince, Dave Sim, Avengers, and French fries mix of goodness, lucky you. You can hear it here, shameless plug.

After the recording I got on Facebook and Twitter to watch the internet explode. Seemed like no one was happy with the casting.

Well, he’s no Michael Keaton. I mean, it could be worse. He could be Michael Keaton.

What’s that you say? Michael Keaton was one of the best Batmen, he was Batman. Yeah, right. Y’all got selective memories. I remember it quite differently.

I remember people screaming and whining that Mr. Mom/Beetlejuice was the worst choice for a serious version of Batman. The balding no-chinned comedian was no Batman. In the pre-internet world of 1988, this was a horrible mistake, and the angry fanboy letters burning the pages of the Comics Buyer’s Guide were proof of it.

And now, over two decades and two movies later, Keaton is considered one of the best Batmen. So why are people so riled up about Ben Affleck? Because Daredevil was a dud in the theaters? Hell, I liked Daredevil, and liked the director’s cut even more. I even liked Elektra.

And even if I’m wrong about that, what about Affleck’s Oscar and other awards and nominations for acting, writing, and directing? He even has comic book cred beyond Daredevil as an actor in the Kevin Smith films and playing George (Superman) Reeves in Hollywoodland. Talk Gigli and Pearl Harbor all you want, you can’t take Argo or The Town away from him. Everyone has hits and misses.

I think Ben Affleck can pull off Batman and Bruce Wayne like a pro. I dare say he might be a better Batman than anyone else we’ve seen. And yeah, I’m saying that based on his Daredevil performance. I stand behind Ben as Batman. If Michael Keaton could do it…

The Lone Ranger 2013

The Lone Ranger ~ When the film was over I turned to The Bride and said that if Walt Disney was alive and found out his company had obtained the rights to make a Lone Ranger movie he would be so happy, and if he’d seen what his company had done with it – it would kill him.

I have a long association with the Lone Ranger, although I can’t remember where it began. I recall the cartoons of the 1960s by Format Films. The Ranger wasn’t quite a superhero, but the bizarre Ralph Bakshi meets “The Wild Wild West” style of these shorts mesmerized me. I also remember being introduced to the radio show at an early age, and seeing Clayton Moore in reruns of the 1950s series. And when I learned that he was related to the Green Hornet, to me, that just made the Lone Ranger even cooler.

In the superhero movie boom (a firecracker compared to recent decades) of the 1970s, they tried badly to put the masked man up on the big screen, but that ended horrifically with the mess known as The Legend of the Lone Ranger. That dud, along with the bad publicity of not allowing Clayton Moore to wear the mask in public, was enough to bury the character for years to come.

This 2013 movie production, starring Johnny Depp as a mentally ill, delusional Tonto, along with Jerry Bruckheimer and Gore Verbinski, his behind the scenes pals from the Pirates of the Caribbean films, just seems like a bunch of guys got drunk, had money to burn, and decided to ‘play’ Lone Ranger. And the kid who had all the toys wanted to play Tonto as an idiot.

I’m sorry. I just can’t abide this rape and mutilation of beloved childhood characters. First, we are meant to sit through another longwinded origin story. Let’s get this straight, if an origin story can be told in two sentences or less – we don’t need to see it. Just say it, and get on with the movie’s story. This is one of my biggest pet peeves with superhero films. Stop wasting time with origin stories. Superman’s origin was told in seconds at the beginning of every episode of the George Reeves TV series. DC Comics of the 1970s featured a one paragraph origin of the title hero on the first page of every issue. Let’s go back to that.

I can’t understand the premise of making this movie honestly. Was the point to destroy a lot of trains and ruin childhood heroes? Poor Armie Hammer is given very little to do, hardly any of it heroic, as the title character. What he does do is kill, which is something the real Lone Ranger would never do. The writers made Butch Cavendish into a cannibal, and not subtly either. I personally thought this should have had an R rating, just for that.

The only thing worse than Butch’s cannibalism would be the way Johnny Depp chews up scenes and spits them out like steaming vomit. Taking his character cues from Kirby Sattler’s painting, “I Am Crow” rather than the character Tonto, Depp is unforgivable. From his halting stereotypical speech to the dead bird on his head, his Tonto is an absolute disgrace.

I hated this movie, and I hated even more that my childhood heroes were destroyed in the making of it. I will get through it. There are still the movies, TV series, cartoons, and especially the radio shows to preserve the legacy. I will survive this travesty, but will the Lone Ranger?

The All Things Fun! New Comics Vidcast for June 2013

The All Things Fun! New Comics Vidcast features co-hosts Ed (X-Wing Pilot) Evans, Allison (Get Off My Lawn) Eckel, and Glenn (Blue Lantern) Walker, as they discuss the new comics, trends, games, and toys out this month! You can see the show here, or check it out below.

Discussion featured in the special June 2013 episode includes: The Movement by Gail Simone, Green Team, Batman/Superman, Superman Unchained by Scott Snyder and Jim Lee, Larfleeze by Keith Giffen, Trinity War, Age of Ultron, Avengers/Captain Marvel by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Hawkeye, Star Trek comics and games, the original Battlestar Galactica, Ten Grand by JMS and Ben Templesmith, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Free RPG Day, Star Wars from Fantasy Flight, Cherry Hill Comic-Con, and the Legendary Marvel deck-building game.

Be sure to check out the All Things Fun! website, and the newly revamped All Things Fun! Blogs, written by Allison and Glenn, featuring The Vidcast Drinking Game so you can play along at home, and watch ATF! on YouTube (don’t forget to subscribe to the channel while you’re there, and leave a comment or two on the Vidcast as well!).

The All Things Fun! New Comics Vidcast is shot live at All Things Fun! – the South Jersey/Philadelphia area’s best comics, toys and gaming store – located on Route 73 in West Berlin, NJ.

And don’t forget to visit us at Facebook!

The All Things Fun! Vidcast FCBD Edition 2013

Superman came back from the dead, Captain America came back from the dead, Wolverine will come back from the dead once he dies, as rumored, later this year… and now, The All Things Fun! New Comics Vidcast is back!

The All Things Fun! New Comics Vidcast features co-hosts Ed Evans, Allison Eckel, and Glenn Walker, as they discuss the comic book related topics in every episode! You can see the show here or on All Things Fun!’s YouTube Channel.

It’s that time of year again, Free Comic Book Day, always the first Saturday in May, when comic shops the world over offer a plethora of comics for free, all introductory issues designed for readers old and new to get a glimpse into what the hobby is about and what it has to offer. At All Things Fun!, as always, there are events and sales galore, so come on out, get your free comics, and get in on the fun!

Discussion featured in this Free Comic Book Day Preview Episode includes: Cagematch draft, Free Comic Book Day 2013, Marvel’s Infinity, cartoons for kids of all ages, Plop!, Catfishtress, Spoon!, real authors, NFL Superpro, Ryan Reynolds’ bulge, Valiant, Grimm, ‘for kids,’ The Walking Dead, Captain Midnight!, Superman, Allison’s kids comics, steampunk in Oz, Absolution, Graphic India, Buck Rogers! and Damsels for the guys.

Be sure to check out the All Things Fun! website, and the newly revamped All Things Fun! Blogs, written by Allison and Glenn, featuring The Vidcast Drinking Game so you can play along at home, and watch ATF! on YouTube (don’t forget to subscribe to the channel while you’re there, and leave a comment or two on the Vidcast as well!).

The All Things Fun! New Comics Vidcast is shot live at All Things Fun! – the South Jersey/Philadelphia area’s best comics, toys and gaming store, located on Route 73 in West Berlin, NJ. Come on down, check out the store, and say hi to Ed and Dina!

Don’t forget to visit us at Facebook!

And hope to see you all on Saturday, May 4th, Free Comic Book Day!

Injustice on iPhone

So while waiting to see who has the best deal to buy Injustice (cuz $60 is just not cool), I happened to notice there was an iPhone app called Injustice Gods Among Us. I thought, could it be? It was. Much smaller, but at least it had more characters to use.

Now warning up front, my phone informed me right away that the fame was not built for iPhone and there might be some technical difficulties. That’s all right, a funky game I want to play is better than no game at all, right?

The graphics are pretty intense for the phone. I was very impressed. It’s not my Justice League, mind you, in this fancy-schmancy armor, as more than a few toy lines have ruined the JLA with extra armors, but these animatics looked very good.

The iPhone version had a swell tutorial, however unrealistic, allowing the player, as Green Arrow, to wallop Superman something fierce. GA beats Supes so hard he probably went home to foster momma for a new pair of shorts (which he is sadly lacking here – the real Superman wears his undies outside his pants, period).

Once the tutorial ends, I got to play for real, and was introduced to the true reality of the game. Nobody, absolutely nobody, just stands there like tutorial Superman and let’s you hit them. I learned this very very quickly as first Sinestro, and then a very nasty version of Solomon Grundy, took turns taking my ass to school.

The game is similar to Avengers Initiative, also on the iPhone, but with more fun characters and backgrounds, has more characters than the Injustice demo for PS3, and should sate most of our appetites ’til the real thing comes out. I dug this.