26 March 2010

Spotlight on Amanda Waller

It looks like DC is hoping to establish a larger movie continuity centered around a large organization akin to S.H.I.E.L.D. introduced in Iron Man. It was just announced that Angela Basset has been cast as Amanda Waller in the upcoming Green Lantern movie. Just who is Ms. Waller? Lets take a look. Dr. Amanda Waller AKA "The Wall" first appeared in 1986 in Legends #1. She served as the head of Task Force X AKA the Suicide Squad, a semi-secret government-run group of former supervillains working in return for amnesty. She was also the former leader (code rank: White Queen) of the covert-ops organization, Checkmate.

Wally the Whaler Waller made her onscreen debut in 2004's Justice League Unlimited where she led the secret government organzization Project Cadmus, in developing checks and balances against potential threats such as a rogue Superman. She filled quite a significant role during a two season story arc.

The portly princess was next seen in 2009's Superman Batman: Public Enemies. In this movie, Waller served as an adviser on superhuman affairs to President Lex Luthor. She also resisted his romantic advances.

Most recently, Mandy and Checkmate appeared in the Absolute Justice Smallville movie event where she played the puppetmaster in coaxing the JSA out of retirement by playing their old foes Icicle. She also seems to have issues with the Justice League and Watchtower which will continue to play out during the close of season 9.

More appearances of Amanda are welcome as they will only give us more to love. Not quite sure how she will fit into Green Lantern, but that development is at least intriguing.

25 March 2010

Evolution of the Batman (and Robin) - The Batman

Debuting in 2004, The Batman had the difficult job of succeeding the much revered Batman: The Animated Series. The series lasted for 65 episodes over 5 seasons and helped to sell a lot of toys, but overall it never won over the more die-hard fans of the Dark Knight. The series found itself not sure if it wanted to be serious or not, juxtaposing a nacho loving Bruce Wayne with a gritty Gotham full of psychopathic villains.

In particular, season 1 received a lot of criticism from fans due to odd redesigns and over reliance on the Joker and the Penguin. Other characters like Mr. Freeze were reimagined from their complex origins in the previous animated series into two-bit thugs (always in search of shaves and haircuts). Batman spent most of the first season at odds with Gotham Police in spite of a personal friendship with one of the detectives who eventually became this series' Clayface.

Season two was an improvement over the first though criticism continued of strange designs such as the one for the seemingly Marilyn Manson inspired Riddler. Batman began a partnership with Clayface's former partner, Detective Yin, who after season two inexplicably vanished.

In as much as season two was a step in the right direction, season three was a big step back. Though Batgirl was added to the lineup with relative success, her origin tale was followed-up with a lackluster season of forgettable and silly episodes like one with a "hulked out on Bane venom" Joker. The onslaught of Joker and Penguin was still in full force.

In season four, Robin joined the Bat-Family and thus began a run of pretty good episodes. Season four was easily the series strongest, creating new villains such as Everywhere Man and some time rewinding dude and introducing Batman villains Harley Quinn and Black Mask.

One of the fourth season's stand out episodes set in the future revealed a Dark Knight Returns inspired Batman fighting side by side with Nightwing against Mr. Freeze. The season culminated with an alien invasion story teaming The Detective with Detective John Jones AKA the Martian Manhunter. This set the stage for the final season, the Justice League season.

In retrospect, The Batman season five was sort of a test for Batman: The Brave and the Bold as a large number of the episodes featured Batman team-ups. Batman and Green Lantern took on Sinestro. Bats and Supes fought Metallo and Luthor. Batman and Flash fought the Mirror Master. Unfortunately, the pacing and story quality during the final season declined a bit from season four and some of these team-ups just came off as dull. Rather than pulling out a new and intimidating villain for the finale, the final story arc featured the whole Justice League, including Batgirl and Robin, fighting off once again an alien invasion. It was a bit of a letdown, so basically it was the icing on the cake for an underwhelming series.

By the way, the series had two theme songs, the second began running in season three:

Up Next: Special Batmans That Never Were Edition

24 March 2010

Whiplash Takes Center Stage in the Iron Man Poster

Here is a new poster for Iron Man 2. Whip it good. I like it and I also find it quite in line with the tone and design of the Iron Man I poster (below).

Retrospective 1987

Superman IV: The Quest for Peace

I wouldn't believe if I didn't see it. Superman IV: The Quest for Peace killed the Superman film franchise for nearly 20 years, and it still hasn't really been resurrected. Its hard to believe that just a few years earlier Superman I and II had been monumental hits. In my opinion, Superman 4 is even less redeemable than Batman and Robin because B&R can at least be laughed at; it brought in new cast member like Clooney and Ah'nold that had not been part of the series' past. This just made me want to cry. Both Reeve and Hackman had starred in earlier movies and their inclusion in this movie made it apparent how far the franchise had fallen. I mean, when did Superman have bricklaying vision?

It really is hard to believe just how bad this was. Audiences agreed and this movie earned just $15 million.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

On the bright side, '87 gave yield to the uber successful Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series. Over 10 seasons, running through 1996 the series delivered 193 episodes showing who knows how many pizza's being consumed by the sewer dwelling amphibians.

Once a Hero

Less successful was the live action series, Once a Hero which lasted only three episodes. The series was about a down on his luck comic book illustrator whose life is turned upside down when his creation, Captain Justice came to life. How creative...

The Spirit

Before The Spirit was made into a steaming pile of box office disappointment in 2008, it was made into a TV movie. Its tough to say which was more devastating to the properties image.

Spider-Man Wedding

This last entry is a bit of a stretch, but in 1987 Spider-Man and Mary Jane's wedding in Shea Stadium was televised to build up publicity for comic book storyline. "I thee web," indeed.

23 March 2010

Captain America (1990) - Film Capsule

Heroes: Captain America

Villains: Red Skull

Diabolical Scheme: Something to do with kidnapping the President and blowing up a piano.

Coolest Moment(s): Cap did do some damage, including an off screen decapitation with his Frisbee boomerang shield.

Worst Moment: There are a couple. Captain America faked car sickness in order to lure the driver out of the car so he could steal it... TWICE! I guess if it works. Also, at one point Captain America was strapped to a rocket heading to the White House. He kicked the wing and diverted it to Alaska narrowly missing a kid (who ended up being the President); trust me the scene was terrible.

Review in 50 Words or Less:
Cap spent most of the movie getting beat up or hiding and managed to get in one lucky shield throw at the end. Red Skull was just as incompetent. After defeating Cap in WWII he waited around for his return to strike. T'was no Catwoman, but neither was it good.


Watch it:

22 March 2010

Flame On - Johnny Storm is Captain America

Chris Evans AKA Johnny Storm AKA The Human Torch from The Fantastic Four movies AKA the "mover" from Push has landed yet another Superhero role - Captain America. Thanks to comicbookmovie.com for the artist rendering. Marvel must really like this guy.

Red Hood Cover Art

Behold the DVD cover art for Batman: Under the Red Hood courtesy of Legions of Gotham. Note Jonah Hex's smiling face in the lower corner as well.

DC Averts Crisis with Rising Animated DVD Sales

(click to read)

In spite of a lower price per DVD sale, February's superhero showdown crown went to Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths. Planet Hulk arrived first, on February 2, selling 131,000 units for just under $2 million (revised down from a previous estimate of $2.3 million). By contrast, the League's February 23rd debut sold an estimated 205,000 units for roughly $2.6 million. While these are just estimates, this earns Crisis on Two Earths the best debut in the DC animated movie line for a film without "Superman" or "Batman" in the title (don't you just love qualified records), even besting the sales of the prior Justice League: The New Frontier.

To be fair, this number was a decline from the number set by DC's previous release Superman Batman: Public Enemies, so all may not be gumdrops and roses. Still, even with two of these animated superhero films released in near proximity, Crisis performed well hopefully encouraging DC to press on with their increased schedule of 3 animated films per year (The next being Summer's Batman: Under the Red Hood then possibly Fall's rumored Superman Batman sequel) as the market may not yet have quite reached saturation.

One last note, Thanks to the push from Crisis, the Superman Batman DVD sales got a boost, pushing them to $6.6 million in revenue finally eking past Hulk Vs. sales figure of $5.8 million.

Green Lantern's Brightest Days #19

#19 Batman Beyond: The Call

Set 40 years in the future, Batman Beyond offered a peek at the future of the DC universe, particularly when the future Justice League was featured in The Call. Of course no League would be complete without a representative from the Green Lantern Corp, and this episode assured us that even in the future a power ring wielder would be present. Kai-Ro was created for the episode named after Green Lantern's Venusian sidekick from the 1960's Filmation DC Heroes series. We never learned too much about this kid Lantern other than he seemed to lean toward peaceful solutions than forceful ones. Kai-Ro would appear again as an adult in the Justice League Unlimited episode Epilogue, but it was The Call that promised that after Hal Jordan, John Stewart, Guy Gardner, and Kyle Rayner, the Lanterns legacy would continue on.

#25 - Justice League Unlimited: Initiation - John Stewart's new look
#24 - Batman: The Brave and the Bold: Death Race to Oblivion! - Guy Gardner's Lanternmobile
#23 - Justice League of America: Pilot - Doesn't air
#22 - Justice League Unlimited: The Once and Future Thing: Time Warped - Hal Jordan joins the league
#21 - Legends of the Superheroes - Lantern goes live-action
#20 - Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths - Darker shade of green
#19 - Batman Beyond: The Call - Lantern of the future