31 December 2009

Evolution of the Batman (and Robin) - Batman: Sub Zero

After a delay resulting from Batman and Robin fallout, Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero was released direct to video in early 1998. There were a number of parallels between this and Batman and Robin, but this animated and short (67 minutes) movie is vastly superior. Set in the continuity and style of Batman: The Animated Series, the story focused more on Robin and Batgirl and involved Mr. Freeze's great lengths taken to save his dying wife from a rare disease. Definitely worth checking out, even if its not quite as good as the Mask of the Phantasm.

Up Next: Batman Beyond

30 December 2009

Retrospective 2009 - Part 3

We have reached the culmination of our look back on 2009. If you missed them, check out Parts 1 and 2.

Green Lantern: First Flight

July brought one of the years best efforts in the form of the animated Green Lantern: First Flight DVD. It was about time that Green Lantern got his own movie and this origin story will hopefully pave the way for future entries.

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra

You pretty much know what to expect from a GI Joe movie. This movie is basically what you expect, though pleasantly better. Somehow with tempered expectations GI Joe ends up a more enjoyable movie than Transformers 2, even though it made a lot less. Its $150 million may not be enough to greenlight a sequel, unless of course there were ample toy sales- which there very well may have been.

Zartan, Snake Eyes, Destro, Stormshadow. They are all here.

Super Hero Squad

Marvel's Super Hero Squad debuted in September and has been a big hit. I for one can't get past the high pitched voices and manic stories, but some people love it. I think the idea is cool- throwing in pretty much the whole Marvel Universe sans Spidey- but it just a little too juvenile for me (and I still watch Super Friends).

Superman Batman: Public Enemies

Near the end of September, DC released their third DTV of the year featuring everyone's favorite team-up. This movie was a pretty straight forward adaptation of the Superman Batman comic book issues #1-6. Though not as good as Wonder Woman or the Green Lantern movies, this was still a solid entry, providing one more take on Power Suit Luthor.

Much like Hulk VS, this movie was made up of a bunch of showdowns. Batman and Superman took on Hawkman, Captain Marvel, DC's ice-themed villains, Major Force, Black Lightning, Captain Atom, Solomon Grundy, and a bunch of other costumed "supers."

Of course, during the year a number of other superhero TV series continued to air.

On Smallville, Clark Kent took on Doomsday in the season 8 finale. In season 9, Major Zod and Metallo have become new threats. In the meantime, Clark has teamed up with the Wonder Twins and will meet the JLA early next year.

Highlights of the team-up series Batman: The Brave and the Bold, saw Batman teaming with the Boy Wonder, The Joker, Bat-Mite, and Aquaman to take on such epic threats as Owl Man, Crazy Quilt, and of course the Music Meister.

The fantastic series Spectacular Spider-Man ended its second season (which sadly due to business related decisions may be the final season) with the identity of the Green Goblin being revealed. Hopefully there will eventually be a season 3 since this is pretty much the definitive Spider-Man series with so many stories yet to tell.

On other channels... Heroes continued to air, writing plenty of new twists for Sylar and killing characters on screen months before they were revealed to be dead. It seems Heroes days are numbered in spite of an overall improvement in the quality of season 4. Wolverine and the X-Men also continued to air on the elusive Nicktoons channel, though I will be waiting to catch the show on DVD.

And that my friends was 2009 in a nutshell. Superheroes continued to be prolific and 2010 doesn't look to slow down.

29 December 2009

X-Men: Beyond Good and Evil (1995) - Film Capsule

Heroes: The X-Men (including with Cable and Bishop)

Villains: Apocalypse, Magneto, and Mr. Sinister

Diabolical Scheme: Apocalypse wanted to simultaneously kill a bunch of psychics to reshape time for his own purposes.

Coolest Moment(s): The Magneto Wolverine team-up at the end was nice. It was also good to see Angel and Psylocke in on the action.

Worst Moment: Cables son was a major wuss and the time stream custodian / inventor AKA Bender AKA Immortus in disguise was one of the most annoying characters ever and a major detractor from the story.

Review in 50 Words or Less: Apocalypse finally got his big story in an event that probably could have been told in fewer episodes. Even still, it was jam packed with X-Men and villains and plenty of smack downs. Too bad Bishop was so poorly used; his stories are usually my favorites.

24 December 2009

Deck the Halls with Batman

Although Batman has always seemed a better fit with Halloween, in 1992 the grand tradition of presenting Batman with a backdrop of Christmas began in the Tim Burton Nightmare before Christmasesque prototype Batman Returns. You may not remember it being a Christmas movie after all these years of unwatchabilitiy, but you may remember some talk of eating mistletoe and of the tree lighting girl being thrown off of a roof. Definitely at Christmas.

Later in the same year, The Animated Series would get in on the game with Christmas with the Joker.

Not the best episode of the series by any stretch but the Joker does sing the classic, "Jingle Bells, Batman Smells."

The New Batman Adventures would keep tradition alive with an episode titled, Holiday Knights in 1997.

This effort was a lot better than the earlier Joker one, combining three vignettes into a delightful little episode.

Although Batman himself pulled Watchtower duty, his teammates enjoyed Christmas together in the Justice League episode, Comfort and Joy.

In 2008, Batman: The Brave and the Bold rekindled the Christmas tradition when Batman teamed with the android Red Tornado to teach the true spirit of Christmas while destroying an evil army of Fun Haus' Santas and reindeer.

Invasion of the Secret Santas however wasn't the last time that Batman would be punching Santa Claus on Brave and the Bold. In Legends of the Dark Mite, Batman would have to face off against a slew of holiday themed baddies including hog riding Santas, pumpkin heads and deranged Easter Bunnies.

So just because its Christmas Batman wants to remind criminals everywhere (even those dressed like Santa) crime doesn't pay. Oh, and Merry Christmas to all and to all a dark night.

EDIT: See Comments, there was also this jolly cameo in 1966.

Up Next: Sub-Zero

22 December 2009

Retrospective 2009 - Part 2

Continuing from Part 1, the mid part of 2009 ushered in the year's most mediocre efforts.

Super Capers

In March, the Superhero parody Super Capers made is video debut.

Currently standing at a 3.8 on imdb.com, its safe to say it didn't make much of a splash.


On the opposite end of the spectrum, March also delivered one of the most serious superhero films of all time adapting the acclaimed Watchmen graphic novel. The movie received a decent reception, but I don't think it would be any easier to please everyone with Bible: The Movie than it was with Watchmen. The movie topped out at $107 million and just may have convinced studios that in spite of the Dark Knights huge success, darker is not necessarily the way to go with this genre.

Iron Man: Armored Adventures

To be fair, I haven't really given the series a shot, but there were a lot of things that turned me off to April's new Iron Man animated series. The series features CGI similar to that used in the off-putting MTV Spider-Man series of a few years back. Also, Armored Adventures went the teen route of X-Men Evo and Batman Beyond- which to me, doesn't make a lot of sense with this particular character. Why not a teen Wolverine? or a teen Hulk?

Nevertheless, I have heard the series is pretty enjoyable and offers some decent portrayals of the underexposed Iron Man rogue's gallery.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine

On April Fool's Day the world wide web got its first glimpse of the X-Men Origins: Wolverine rough cut and was not impressed. The final version of the film released in May wasn't as different as some had promised, but in spite of mediocre reviews the movie went on to make $180 million by fleshing out the flashback sequences from the first 3 X-Movies and throwing in fan favorite mutants that hadn't yet gotten their 5 minutes of screen time. The movie ended with promises of not one, but 3 possible sequels / X-Men Prequels (Wolverine 2, Deadpool, X-Men: First Class). Which will they tackle first?

Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen

In June, The Fallen failed to get his revenge in the Transformers sequel. If you think there was a grammatical error in the previous statement you must not have seen the movie. The Fallen is actually an individual rather than a group and therefore receives the singular possessive pronoun "his." You may also be wondering which of the characters in the movie are the superheroes. Well, that's a good question. I guess it would be the Autobots who are sentient life forms with shape shifting abilities. Besides, Transformers used to be a Marvel comic book, so the franchise is more or less part of the superhero genre.

You wouldn't think that writers would matter so much to a movie like this, but that writers strike a couple years back really seemed to take its toll because there are any number of movie elements that just didn't add up. Of course, thanks to plenty of "sick effects" the movie still made a killing earning even more than the first and topping $400 million to become the years biggest movie. You know what that means? Transformers 3 is gonna be even more SICK! or is it SICKER?

Stay tuned for part 3 of the year that was 2009.

17 December 2009

War Machine Declared in Iron Man 2 Trailer

Sure looks shiny.

Evolution of the Batman (and Robin) - Boo Wonder

I ain't gonna lie. This entry is pretty weak. Back in the 90's the Animaniacs show featured a character named Chicken Boo who donned various disguises (secret agent, doctor, secret agent) he would fool almost everyone, but one naysayer would argue, "what are you talking about, he's a chicken!"

In one episode, "Boo Wonder" Chicken Boo was disguised as Boo Wonder sidekick to the Caped Crusader exposed by the supervillian Punchline.

Up Next: Deck the Halls with a Very Special Batman Christmas Edition

16 December 2009

Retrospective 2009 - Part 1

As the year / decade runs its course, its time for RETROSPECTIVE 2009 (part 1). The year has been fair to good for the superhero genre. Live action films were lacking, but the genre received a boost from solid animated entries.

Hulk Vs.

The year started strong with Marvel's DTV released in January. The movie was essentially two short slug fests with some plot thrown in- the first focused on Wolverine and the second Thor.

I would go as far as to say this is the best of Marvel's recent animated movies, finally delivering some PG-13 content with blood and all. The movie was well received as well, selling nearly as many copies and Ultimate Avengers and way more than the more recent Next Avengers and Doctor Strange. A sequel with Hulk Vs Thing and Hulk Vs Iron Man should be a no-brainer but with Marvel's sale to Disney, we may be more likely to get Hulk Vs Elastigirl.

Wolverine and the X-Men

Aside from Batman, the X-Men are the only superheroes to have been given three animated series in the past 20 years. The 90's X-Men adapted stories from the comics, X-Men Evolution gave teen versions of most of the main cast. Wolverine and the X-Men took the ambitious approach of crafting a 26 episode story arc that made Wolverine not only the central focus ( as he had been in previous series) but the team leader in the wake of Professor X becoming comatose. A parallel future story followed the Professor in the future and his New X-Men.

Many of the classic tales such as Weapon X and Archangel were given new twists and the Hulk Vs Wolverine story even got a sequel in the episode Wolverine vs the Hulk. The series earned a second 26 episode season which will adapt the Age of Apocalypse storyline.


February's Push threw out yet another take on "ordinary people with extraordinary abilities." The look of the film and named types of psychics (i.e. pushers, watchers, sniffs, bleeders) establish a fresh take on a stale X-Men / Heroes premise of real-world superheroes. But while the film looked odd with an interesting Hong Kong setting, I (no one's dummy) had an awfully hard time following the story or lack thereof. The film only made $32 million, hurting chances for the seemingly built in sequel.

Wonder Woman

In March, DC released the first of three DTV's for the year delivering a modern take on the most recognizable female superheroine.

The movie was fairly short and sweet and makes you wonder why making a live-action Wonder Woman movie is so darned hard.

Come back next week for Part 2.

15 December 2009

Iron Man Whip's It Good

So, as much as I liked Iron Man, I am still on the fence about IM2. The Shell-Head's main drawback, in my mind, has always been his lack of interesting villains. This poster does not convince me that Whiplash is going to be the next Joker, the next General Zod, or even the next Dock Ock. More along the lines of the next Venom. Besides, it seems like this guy could be taken down with just a well aimed B.B. to the eye. How can he stand up to Iron Man?

10 December 2009

Evolution of the Batman (and Robin) - The New Batman Adventures

In 1997, Warner Brothers commissioned an additional 24 episodes of Batman: The Animated Series (BTAS) to be paired with episodes of Superman: The Animated Series to create the Batman Superman Hour.

The characters, including Batman were redesigned giving this season / series a sleek look. Batman would lose the blue hues and go for a simple black and gray guise. This group of episodes would be referred to as The New Batman Adventures, though the characters and stories were continuations of those begun in the BTAS. These episodes would also focus a bit less on the solo Batman and more on the "Bat family."

A new younger Robin, Tim Drake (the comic book Robin at the time), was introduced with a "redder" look.

The BTAS Robin, Dick Grayson, would continue to appear as Nightwing after having a falling out with and punching the Bat.

The villains also were redesigned (though mostly for the worse).

This set of episodes featured some surprisingly dark episodes like "Over the Edge" featuring the death of Batgirl.

Another classic episode, "Legends of the Dark Knight" featured three kids telling stories about Batman. One features a 50's style animated silly Batman and Joker complete with giant killer piano and short shorts Robin.

The same episode delivered a fairly true adaptation of a scene from The Dark Knight Returns.

In all, The New Batman Adventures was a nice way to tie up the Batman series, while retrofitting Gotham city to fit in a little better with the growing DC animated universe.

Up Next: Boo Wonder

08 December 2009

Spotlight on Vulture

The classic Spider-Villain Vulture made his debut in the pages of The Amazing Spider-Man #2 in 1963.

Just a few years later, the vulture made his on screen debut in the 1967 Spider-Man animated series.

The flying menace returned in the 1981 Spider-Man animated series, looking as wussy as ever.

The 1990's Spider-Man series at least tried to make the character a little more intimidating. Like in other incarnations, the Vulture started off as an old bald dude, but was youthified and wore a costume that wouldn't be mistaken for pajamas.

This Vulture actually ended up being transformed into the Man-Spider, in a weird twist of fate.

The 1999 Spider-Man Unlimited series featured an "X-treme" Vulture from another dimension.

Finally, the 2008 Spectacular Spider-Man gave the Vulture a more traditional presentation, though giving him a new red and black color scheme after years of adorning pea green.

Although Vulture has not yet made his first live-action appearance, he is widely rumored to be one of the main foes in Spider-Man 4. My thoughts. I hope not. What a lame villain. While I admit, some aerial fights could be cool, I just have zero interest in seeing Spidey beat up on an old bald dude. I fear that the rumors are founded though as Vulture was originally going to be in Spider-Man 3 with Sandman until pressure was placed to use Venom instead. Time will tell, but there are plenty of other classic villains more deserving of their chance to tangle with Spidey.

04 December 2009

Onscreen History of War Machine

James Rupert Rhodes AKA Rhodey is the character most associated with the War Machine armor. Rhodey filled in for Iron Man when Tony Stark was off drinking, but when Tony returned, Rhodey assumed the War Machine identity.

Rhodey and the War Machine armor first appeared on screen in the 1994 animated Iron Man series.

During the '90's War Machine made the rounds on the animated circuit also appearing in a cameo as a member of SHIELD in an episode of the X-Men animated series.

Next up, War Machine and Spidey teamed up against Venom and Carnage on the Spider-Man animated series.

Then of course, Iron Man and War Machine made a stop on the Incredible Hulk animated series.

After his 90's whistle stop tour, War Machine took a hiatus, with the armor making a quick appearance in 2006 on the Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Superheroes series.

Also in 2006, Tony Stark would don the War Machine armor when his traditional suit got busted up in the Ultimate Avengers 2: Rise of the Panther direct to video movie.

The 2009 Iron Man Armored Adventures featured a young take on Iron Man and his friend Rhodey, and as you could expect, the story eventually led Rhodey back into the War Machine suit.

War Machine is slated to appear sometime in 2010 on the animated Super Hero Squad series.

Though War Machine did not appear in 2007's Iron Man movie, Rhodey sure did, even going as far as to say that some time he would like to try on the Iron Man suit.

Though, Rhodey was recast for 2010's Iron Man 2, it is now confirmed that he will be getting his wish.

And in 2010, War Machine will be making his big screen, live action debut.