Archive for April, 2018

Batman Redemption – Creating a brand new Tim Burton Batman sequel

Posted in Batman, movies with tags , , , on April 30, 2018 by Paxton

Back in January, the SequelQuest Podcast did a whole show where they brainstormed ideas for a third Tim Burton Batman movie.  It’s a good idea for an episode that led to some interesting discussions and went in a few places I didn’t expect.  It got me to think.  And think some more.  I started to have my own ideas of what a third Burton Batman film would look like so I organized my thoughts in order to write them down.

I started talking with CT about this a while ago and we decided to sort of do this together.  I would put my ideas up here and he’d put his over on Nerd Lunch.  I don’t know a lot about his idea, I’ve only gotten small bits and pieces so I’m excited to hear what he has to say, but before you head on over there, let’s take a look at my ideas.

Before crafting a new Burton Batman movie, there are things to consider.  Do you ignore the Schumacher films and create your new Burton film back in the mid 90s?  Or do you have Burton create the film now revisiting his characters from the 80s-90s?  I think CT went with the former.  I’m going with the latter.

For my story idea, this movie would be released in modern day.  The events in this movie would be a sequel to Batman Returns and ignore both Batman Forever and Batman & Robin.  I’d love to get most of the crew from the 1989 movie to return with Burton.  Michael Keaton would return to the role of Bruce Wayne/Batman.  Danny Elfman would score.  Obviously I’d love to go back to Anton Furst to redesign his “Hell on Earth” Gotham City but unfortunately he died back in 1991.  No slight to Sam Hamm or Warren Skaaren (who died back in 1991), but I think I’d like to get newer, more modern writers to translate my ideas to the silver screen.  Maybe the Duffer Brothers (Stranger Things) would be a good nostalgically modern choice for writers. 

All that being said, let’s talk about my story idea.  The title of my project is Batman Redemption.

Like I said, the story takes place modern day.  Keaton is an older Batman.  He is wrestling with the fact that he doesn’t want to be Batman anymore.  He finds he’s losing interest in the constant fight and bandaging old wounds.  Alfred is dead.  Selina Kyle has either died, or she dies in the cold open of the movie.  Bruce is essentially alone being Batman and living in Wayne Manor.  He decides that it may be time to retire.  He’s just not sure how to do that.  He’s rudderless.  He goes through the motions of running patrols in the evenings.  He doesn’t know what Gotham looks like, or Bruce Wayne, for that matter, post Batman.  

Suddenly, a rash of violent crimes start occurring.  Unexplained crimes.  Crimes that have a familiar look and feel.  Clown based crimes.  It sort of shocks Bruce out of his melancholy.  He suddenly has a purpose.  Is the Joker back?  Is there a copycat?  Bruce obsessively studies the crimes looking for clues.  Without Alfred there to rein him in Bruce pushes himself to the limit trying to figure out if this is the real Joker or not.  It couldn’t be possible though, right?  The Joker died.  He fell from the top of Gotham Cathedral.

Joker death

We get to see a lot of Bruce Wayne in a scarf and trench coat, walking the streets of Gotham like we saw him do so many times in the 1989 Batman movie.  He’ll go to Gotham Library and start looking at old newspaper headlines on a bunch of microfiche film.  Then back to walking the wet streets of Gotham.  While all of this is going on the clown crimes continue.  On one of Bruce’s sojourns he comes face to face with Nicholson’s Joker.  He’s back.  Bruce is caught flat footed. “Jack? You’re dead!”  The Joker maniacally answers, “Sorry, Batsy, the man who laughs lives and I’m back to put a bee in that little bat bonnet of yours! HAHAHAHAHA!”  Bruce is swarmed by creepy clown mimes and starts to fight back until he realizes he’s Bruce, not Batman, and out in broad daylight, so he stops fighting. The clown mimes clear out and Bruce is again alone on the streets.  

The Joker begins establishing himself as the new crime boss of Gotham.  We see him pulling off murderous pranks, killing city officials. All the kooky antics we remember from 1989.  We see his hideout in the old abandoned Axis Chemicals building. We make sure to focus a lot on the Joker and his thugs as they run rampant through the Gotham criminal underworld.  We see Joker joy buzzer electrocuting and whoopie cushion exploding all the crime bosses in Gotham who refuse to follow him.  Lots of kooky kills for Joker, including killing his own crew when he feels they’re “cooling off his casserole”.  There will be lots of random, weird metaphors by Joker.

Meanwhile Bruce is baffled how Jack could be back.  Bruce has to go out as Batman and track down the cops who worked the morgue that night the Joker died, trying to pin down what exactly happened after he fell off the tall, gothic church.  Bruce discovers that Joker’s body actually disappeared sometime after it had been taken to the Gotham City Morgue but the disappearance was kept silent.  Batman confronts Gordon about it, but discovers he didn’t know either.  All the while, Batman is constantly mocked by Joker at every turn.  Bruce continues to be one step behind him.

Bruce pieces together some things but remains unsure of the whole story of Joker’s return.  He has a few more run ins with the Joker and eventually finds himself captured by the Clown Prince of Crime and awakes inside his headquarters.  It’s here, through an elaborate flashback, we learn what actually transpired that night as Joker can finally “reveal it all” to Batman.  We see the final minute or so of the original Batman 1989 climax scene, Joker’s fall, then the pan out of the “dead” Joker with the laugh machine.  Then, the camera, stops, and pans back down closing in on Joker as we see mysterious men enter the frame and drag the Joker’s body away.  These mysterious men keep him alive as they take him to a secluded building on the outskirts of Gotham where he is prepped for travel.  

Back in Gotham PD headquarters, officials in the morgue on Joker’s new benefactor’s payroll place a body double in the drawer with paperwork saying it’s the Joker.  There is so much going on that no one is able to double check.  Then later, the appearance of Penguin and Catwoman would further obscure the body switch from the proper authorities. 

Meanwhile, Joker’s actual body is again transported, this time to a secluded temple in the middle of nowhere.  At this point Joker is still alive, but only barely.  He meets a very beautiful but severe looking woman surrounded by a bunch of scary looking thugs.  The woman introduces herself as Talia (played by Eva Green). 

She has a proposition for Joker.  He’s dying.  Quickly.  But she can save him, if and only if, he helps her with a little problem she’s having.  Joker agrees because he’s got nothing else to lose at this point, so Talia’s men carry Joker over to what looks like a hot spring filled with a softly glowing sludge.  He at first is scared, worried they are throwing him into radioactive waste, but once submerged in the glowing sludge, the “pit” begins reviving him.  Joker comes out of the pit whole, and possibly even a little crazier than he was going in.  Talia explains that her father has plans for him.  Joker asks, “Do they involve a certain 6 foot Bat in Gotham City?” Talia just smiles. Cut to a shot of Joker laughing maniacally.

Ultimately, the climax is Batman fighting Joker and Talia.  Batman learns during the climax that it was Talia who ordered Selina’s death and it was Joker who killed her.  The climax may even take place in the aforementioned secluded temple with the Lazarus Pit, which I don’t plan on even mentioning by name.  It’ll be just “the pit”.  I imagine at some point, while fighting Talia, that Batman will be flung into the pit.  Batman doesn’t know what it is either, so he quickly climbs out.  The quick submersion, though, winds up reviving him and helping him to win the climatic battle.  The submersion in the pit would also renew his passion for being Batman and continuing the fight against evil. 

Ra’s al Ghul is a presence, but will essentially be the Darth Sideous of this movie.  We may not even see him.  At the most, we would get a quick scene of him talking to his daughter.  Maybe.  At the end of the movie Joker is defeated and more than likely killed.  Again.  Talia will escape to possibly return in another sequel.

And that’s my Tim Burton Batman sequel. Talia seemed like the perfect “Burton babe” to use in this sequel. Plus I wanted to bring back Joker and the Lazarus Pit is the perfect way to do that. Hope you enjoyed this pitch, remember, head on over to Nerd Lunch to check out CT’s pitch called Batman Continues.

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Countdown to Avengers 3: Thor Ragnarok review

Posted in comic books, movies with tags , , , on April 19, 2018 by Paxton

It’s hard to believe it’s been ten years since the Marvel Cinematic Universe began. And here we are, along with Robert from To the Escape Hatch and CT on Nerd Lunch doing a third “Countdown to Avengers” series. AND, we are joined by a new blogger, Jay from Life vs. Film. You can check out the start of this series with Robert’s post about Avengers: Age of Ultron.  Robert, Jay, CT and I are all splitting the films up in anticipation of May’s Avengers: Infinity War. With this film and next year’s Avengers 4, the expectation is that we will be done on some level with this iteration of the MCU.  But I doubt it’ll go away completely. If you want to check out my last review in this series, it was for Captain America: Civil War. Now, let’s turn to my next review, Thor Ragnarok.

Like last time, let’s start off with my quick takes on the first two Thor movies.  First off, I read comics in the 80s and 90s.  I never really liked Thor as a character.  He just never honestly seemed to click with me.  That being said, I really like that first movie.  There’s not really a lot going on, but Hemsworth is great as Thor.  Hiddlesworth is good as Loki (he doesn’t become *great* until Avengers).  Portman is good as Jane and Kat Dennings is almost a show stealer as Darcy.  It’s fun to see Hemsworth playing “fish out of water” on Earth but we get precious little of Asgard.  The movie is mostly enjoyable and a good intro to MCU Thor.  If nothing else, the movie got me reading the Thor comics right about the time Jason Aaron started writing them and *that* has made me a huge fan of Thor.  Check out my full review of Thor for the very first Countdown to Avengers back in 2012.

thor_movies

Thor: The Dark World has its flaws.  It tries to do too much and in the process squanders one of Thor’s best villains, Malekith the Accursed.  Hemsworth is still great as Thor.  We see Hiddleston in his post-Avengers awesomeness.  Portman is a problem and obviously doesn’t really even want to be there.  Kat Dennings brings more Darcy and she’s a delight.  There’s a lot more humor in this movie than I remember whenever I see it, but ultimately the movie is cluttered, hard to follow and doesn’t really seem to go anywhere.  So while I was okay with the Thor movies they had put out so far, I was ready for them to try something new.  This Thor has lots of potential as he’s great in the team up movies, but his solo efforts have been only okay.

When announcements started coming out about Thor Raganarok it was clear they were going in a different direction.  A New Zealand director, Cate Blanchett as the villain, a bright color palate and a humorous tone that seemed to have been clearly inspired by the success of the Guardians of the Galaxy movies.  I was okay with all of this.  Chris Hemsworth has proven he can be funny.  He has the timing.  And Thor can be funny.  The aforementioned Jason Aaron’s run on Thor is infused with lots of humor and takes Thor in a more cosmic direction which it looks like this movie wants to do.  So I was all on board with what they were trying to do.  And that first trailer just ROCKED.

thor-ragnarok-3

The movie 100% delivers.  They *nailed* the tone perfectly for me.  I know many people said there was too much humor, but I don’t agree.  The humor was great and *everyone* got to have their moments.  Not just Thor.  Hulk was funny, Valkyrie, Loki, hell, a brand new character, Korg, practically stole the movie.  I loved every bit of this lightened up Thor.

Loki returns and is awesome once again.  We even get some really nice scenes between on screen brothers, Thor and Loki.  Hemsworth and Hiddleston really work well together.  I’ll be sad if/when this particular pairing ends.

What about the big bad, Hela?  She is as awesome as I wanted her to be.  Cate is the best anyway, so to see her really chew up the scenery here I loved it.  Actually, I could have done with *more* Hela.  Like, this movie maybe could have been split into two movies, with the Grandmaster/Hulk parts in one movie and the Hela parts in another.  But that’s a minor quibble.  We get so much awesomeness throughout this movie….The Grandmaster!  What can I say about how awesomely weird Jeff Goldblum is as Grandmaster?  So good.  And I like *this* Hulk.  He can talk and have a bit of a conversation.  And he’s funny.  I can’t say enough how on point I think the tone of this movie was.  I think I liked it better than the Guardians movies.

Wrapping up the movie, we see the Asgardians leaving to start New Asgard.  Thor is king and ready to lead his people, sans hammer.  I’m hoping we get to see Thor wield his battle axe, Jarnbjorn, in Infinity War.  Even if only for a little bit.  Loki has made off with the cosmic cube again and it looks like Thor may be the first hero to actually have an interaction with Thanos, or Thanos’ people.  I can’t wait to see this Thor meet up with the Guardians.  So much fun potential coming up in Infinity War.  I can’t wait.

But I’m not the only one who had thoughts on this movie. Here are some quick thoughts from CT:

This movie was for Thor and Hulk what Civil War was for the rest of the MCU characters (sans GotG). It further alters the status quo and makes big shocking changes for Thor that will have to affect him in some way moving forward.

If this movie did anything wrong, it was how it wiped out the Warriors Three so effortlessly. It would have been nice to see them get a few more moments to shine. Hopefully Lady Sif’s absence means she’s still out there able to play a role in a future MCU installment someday.

Hulk finally advances to a level I’ve always wanted to see on screen–that of the talking brute who doesn’t want to become Banner. The TV show and previous movies have made a point of playing up that Banner doesn’t want to be the Hulk, but until now, we’ve really not seen that Hulk doesn’t want to be Banner.

Loki promises to be a big player in Infinity War having clearly saved the Cosmic Cube. This movie ends with a clear set up for an early encounter between Thanos and New Asgard. Hopefully these refugees don’t have worse luck after this meeting with the Mad Titan.

Movie Novelizations that should exist Part II: The Canon Ninja Trilogy

Posted in Uncategorized on April 17, 2018 by Paxton

So, as you know, I love movie novelizations.  I read them. I collect them.  I review them.  I talk about them on a podcast.  I love reading and talking about novelizations with people.  It gives me joy.  Being so steeped in novelization lore, there are times I’ll be digging through book stacks at a used store looking for novelizations and see something that makes me say, “THAT got a novelization?!”  Then I stare at this oddball movie novelization and wonder why *that* got a novelization but not some other cult movie I’m very fond of.  It happens more than you think.

It’s at these times that I lament these missing novelizations and so I decide that they *have* to exist so I need to create them myself.  Well, I need to create the cover, I don’t actually go out and write the novelization.  However, I won’t lie, the thought of actually writing a novelization *has* crossed my mind.  Shawn Robare and I have talked about it several times.  I’d totally do it for something like Young Guns or Krush Groove.

Anyway, back to the covers.  One of the very first novelization covers I created myself was for Young Guns II.  I did it with the aforementioned Shawn Robare who created the novelization for the first Young Guns movie.  We had so much fun planning out those covers and also creating vintage Young Guns trading cards that I wanted to do more.

Then I created the cover to a Krush Groove novelization which was pretty dope.

Then, in the official first installment of this “Should Exist” series, I created Mario Puzo Superman novelizations as well as Breakin’ novelizations.  These continue to be really fun to do, guys.  I want to make more.

I actually made a bunch of these covers but I’ve been lax about putting them out there.  Well, a few days ago, a few of us over on Twitter were bandying about as we are want to do and we created a bunch of faux novelization covers on the fly.  CT over at Nerd Lunch created a pretty awesome Xanadu cover.  And someone requested that we do a Ninja III novelization.  Funnily enough, I already had plans to do that one so I cobbled it together.  Here it is.

Ninja 3 - The Domination movie novelization 2

I love this movie and I really wanted to do it justice. I picked Norma Fox Mazer as the author because she had written the Supergirl novelization the same year as Ninja III was released, 1984.  I figured, strong female protagonist in both, Mazer would be great.  If Mazur is too busy my second choice would be Leonore Fleischer, the queen of the movie novelizations.

Now, as I finished this I realized, I’m going to have to do the entire Canon Ninja Trilogy, right?  There’s no getting around it.  So my wheels started turning.  I started thinking that I wanted all three covers to…somewhat…match.  But does that make sense?  The previous movies came out in 1981 and 1983, so how could they really look similar?  Then I started thinking about Friday the 13th.

Back in 1986, Simon Hawke novelized Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives.  That novelization was popular enough that the studio commissioned him to go back and novelize the first three movies in the franchise.  So Parts I and II were novelized for the first time in 1987 and Hawke re-novelized Part III as well (it was the only film that had been novelized previously).  So, using this model, I decided that Canon was very happy with the novelization that Mazur turned in for Ninja III, so they commissioned her to go back and novelize the first two movies as well; Enter the Ninja and Revenge of the Ninja.  And here they are.  Click to see either of these bigger.

Ninja 1 - Enter the Ninja movie novelization Ninja 2 - Revenge of the Ninja movie novelization

And the plan is that they’d all be released around the same time which would mean they all get matchy-matchy covers and this would also publicize the older movies a bit as well.  And as you see, I wanted to play up the fact that these are all part of a “series”, so I added the Ninja I and II titles.

And here is the full set of Canon Ninja Trilogy movie novelizations in all of their glory.  Click it to see it BIGGER!

CanonNinjaTrilogy01-black

I have more of these to come. So stay tuned.

Countdown to Avengers 3: Captain America: Civil War review

Posted in movies with tags , , , , on April 6, 2018 by Paxton

It’s hard to believe it’s been ten years since the Marvel Cinematic Universe began. And here we are, along with Robert from To the Escape Hatch and CT on Nerd Lunch doing a third “Countdown to Avengers” series. AND, we are joined by a new blogger, Jay from Life vs. Film. You can check out the start of this series with Robert’s post about Avengers: Age of Ultron.  Robert, Jay, CT and I are all splitting the films up in anticipation of May’s Avengers: Infinity War. With this film and next year’s Avengers 4, the expectation is that we will be done on some level with this iteration of the MCU.  But I doubt it’ll go away completely.

For now, let’s talk about what I came here to talk about…Captain America: Civil War.

Quickly, before we start, my hot take on the first two Captain America movies. The first one is a good, but not outstanding origin movie with lots of great performances including Evans, Atwell, and Weaving. I liked the movie more than I expected and I liked Chris Evans as Cap a *lot* more than I expected. Winter Soldier was a game changer not only for the MCU but for this version of Cap as well. We see Cap in a modern movie kicking all kinds of ass and being awesome. We also get the introduction of two more awesome characters in the Winter Soldier and Sam Wilson, aka Falcon. And while the movie is a great action movie, the political intrigue subplot is well played out as well. The Winter Soldier movie was an eye opener and made Chris Evans’ Cap my new favorite MCU hero over Iron Man.

Fast forward to Civil War. Some may even call it Avengers 2.5. The Avengers taking sides over the fate of Winter Soldier. The first appearance of several new characters. I was pretty excited to see it going into it. And it more than delivers. As these movies have gone on, especially the Avengers movies, I think one of my favorite parts are the cold openings. Usually we see the group in the middle of some mission, working together, bantering, being “The Avengers”. The teamwork and dialogue in these scenes are so fun and I love it. Civil War doesn’t disappoint. It opens with the current Avengers, plus Wanda and minus Tony, in Lagos trying to stop Brock Rumlow from stealing a biological weapon. We get to see everyone in action, Falcon has Red Wing who gets to shine in battle. Lots of really fun stuff here. Then the drama starts with the thrust of the plot and the entrance (and return!) of General Thunderbolt Ross (shout out to The Incredible Hulk movie!).

The crux of the plot makes sense.  Honestly, even the split of the heroes makes sense to me, each hero going where their natural proclivities lie.  I love the return of Clint.  I know his character gets a lot of crap from fans, but you know what, I like Renner and I like his portrayal of Hawkeye.  How we haven’t gotten a Black Widow/Hawkeye team up movie is beyond me.  We also get the appearance of Scott Lang from Ant-Man (which CT reviewed a little while ago) and he’s great in several *almost* show stealing scenes (Giant Man!).  They continue to build out Winter Soldier’s character.  He gets better and more interesting every single movie he’s in.  And if I don’t get a Winter Soldier/Falcon buddy movie at some point, we will have words, Marvel.

There’s so much to unpack I’m not sure where I want to go next. How about the debut of Black Panther? I’ve read comics since the mid-80s, I’ve never really read Black Panther but this particular iteration of him made me a fan and the Black Panther solo movie further cemented that. The debut of the new Spider-Man? Amazing (pun intended). Tom Holland *nails* Peter Parker. And he *nails* Spider-Man in the suit. Again, the Spider-Man solo movie cemented *that* even further. There’s not much I don’t really like about this movie. The action set pieces are drop dead gorgeous. When Cap goes to confront Bucky while special forces are busting down the door to his apartment…fantastic. Perfectly staged. And the Berlin airport sequence? I don’t need to expend any more words describing how awesome that whole sequence is.

So I said there isn’t really anything I don’t like about this movie.  Let me amend that a bit.  I feel like, and this has been a progression since Iron Man 2, Tony Stark is more and more becoming a crazy asshole.  I mean, I know he was always an asshole but his heart was in the right place and he was still lovable.  Continuing that progression here, he seems to go off the deep end a bit with these Sekovia Accords.  He acts like if the team had been under oversight from the beginning, then the people who died in New York, Sekovia and Lagos would have been saved.  Like, if the UN had oversight over the Avengers, then that kid building sustainable housing in Sekovia (Alfre Woodard’s son) during the Ultron incident wouldn’t have died.  I posit that if the UN had been involved that not only would he most likely still have died, probably millions more would have died as well.  But I also get this progression as ever since New York, Tony has been on edge with PTSD, then he created Ultron, causing all that death and destruction.  I totally get why he’s overcorrecting here.  But it just makes me love it more when he goes to Russia to bury the hatchet with Cap, and then it completely breaks my heart when he sees the video of his parents getting killed and it starts all over.  Such a powerful ending to this movie that I really hope when we get to the next Avengers movie that these issues are addressed in some form.  I don’t want these things to be brushed aside easily.  They really need to address the ending of this movie HARD (they don’t at all in Spider-Man: Homecoming or Black Panther).

So, as it stands, this is very nearly my favorite MCU movie to date.  And that’s a loaded statement because this movie lives on the backs of almost the entire 10 years of history of the MCU to date.  But that’s what makes it so special.

But I wasn’t the only one with thoughts on this movie, here are some final thoughts by CT:

That 14 minute airport fight was something I had waited my entire life to see. Super heroes are notorious for fighting amongst themselves in the comics. And we got a few seconds of an Iron vs. Thor battle in the first Avengers, but here we have two teams, each at “Avengers-level,” facing off. Not only that, to see Giant-Man make his debut here was a nice added touch.
 
While I’m “Team Cap,” if it were real life, I think I’d be Team Stark. The beauty of this movie is the debate between the two is one worth having. The downfall is that the discourse breaks down quickly and devolves into fighting. Hey! Just like the internet!
 
It was also great to see William Hurt’s Ross again which again confirms the Ed Norton movie is a part of this. A fact that some Marvel fans need to be reminded of. Yes, it would have been great to have Ruffalo retroactively in that film, but recasting is a part of life (see also War Machine).
 
This is an MCU-changing film drastically affecting the status quo and leaving things in an interesting place for Infinity War. The family has been shattered. Now they have to work past everything again to take on Thanos.