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Paul Dini Not Writing Next Batman Game

Posted by Billy Lane On August - 13 - 2012ADD COMMENTS

We talk a good deal about superheroes in video games and right now Batman sets the gold standard.  Arkham Asylum remains one of my favorite games of all time and its sequel expanded the gameplay and setting in exciting ways. I’ve been anxiously awaiting a third installment to explore some of the plot threads (deliberately) left hanging, hoping to see everything wrapped up as a perfect little Batman trilogy. 

We have been kind of spoiled that way.

Then we started hearing rumors. Evil rumors. The new Batman game would be a prequel with a Silver Age vibe that chronicles Bruce’s first meeting with the Joker. The Justice League was also expected to factor in heavily. This is unfair, but whenever I think Silver Age Batman, I think Adam West. Batman is a darker hero, and the recent video games nailed that balance of comic-bookyness and grit. It wasn’t overly mature, so even younger gamers could have in on the fun. Why Warner Bros would want to make a campier installment after having the formula ready to go is beyond me.

This wasn’t confirmed, but now we have official news that writer Paul Dini will not return to scripting duties for the game. Clearly Rocksteady is trying something new, and they’re willing to get rid of grade-A talent like Dini to do it. A cynical answer being given out is that Warners wants to raise awareness of the Justice League to strengthen the property. I have no problem with them moving in this direction, but there are other ways to go about it rather than jeopardizing a superb gaming franchise. I would rather see a Superman game first, or some exploration of other DC heroes to flesh out the team.

Having this scene in the game is the only way to get me excited for 60’s Batman.

Will this game be bad? Maybe, maybe not. Rocksteady has done a fine job with the material so far. The problem is that I don’t find this Silver Age prequel intrinsically interesting, as opposed to a flat out Arkham sequel, which would be a guaranteed home run in my book.

Joss Whedon Returns For the Avengers 2

Posted by Billy Lane On August - 13 - 2012ADD COMMENTS

It’s official. Joss Whedon will return to write and direct the Avengers 2! Tis a glorious day, because not only will he continue to mold the Marvel Universe on film, but will also expand the continuity to television in an unrevealed show.

Does anybody else hope it is a dating show starring Mysterio?

Joss being confirmed is nothing but good news. His excellent script and ability to bring out the best in each character elevated the movie from an explosion-fest to something with heart. I was a little concerned that Joss might not come back, since he clearly was clearly worn down by the intensive process. That being said, I don’t think this is as big a deal as, say, Nolan returning to direct Batman 3. While all of the Batman movies had Nolan’s unique style, Joss isn’t as unique a director as much as he is a writer. Regardless, our hero has plans for the future, and I have full faith in them.

There’s definitely not a lack of roster options.

What about the TV series being developed? The easy answer is that he will help work on the Hulk. Guillermo del Toro, who is developing the show, recently said that they’re waiting for a specific writer to be locked in. That could easily be referring to Joss, and the Hulk is definitely the character most discussed when it comes to TV. Then again, we might see something more unusual, like the Runaways. Time will tell, but this sounds like great news to me.


Daredevil Returning to Marvel?

Posted by Billy Lane On August - 10 - 2012ADD COMMENTS

Ever since Iron Man stormed theaters, fans have been eager for Marvel to reacquire more of its previously developed properties. To their eternal dismay, most of these contracts are airtight, so it will be years before we could ever hope to see Spider-Man and Wolverine team up with Captain America. But what about the smaller properties, the ones that have been sitting around at Fox? Daredevil and the Fantastic Four have long had rumored reboots, with directors being attached to both projects. This summer though, things have gotten interesting. The Daredevil project has taken a big step backwards with the loss of its director and the rights set to revert to Marvel later this year. Does this mean Marvel would finally recover an old property?

A Daredevil Spider-Man team-up in New York!

This is where things get fun. Marvel apparently has offered Fox extra time to get a Daredevil movie together in return for rights to certain Fantastic Four villains, presumably Galactus and the Silver Surfer. This might also include fun characters like the Skrulls or Annihilus. This would seem like a smart move for Marvel. Losing Daredevil isn’t a huge blow with their already jam-packed schedule, while many of the Fantastic Four villains would make excellent additions to their more cosmic based storylines. For the relatively superhero starved Fox this could result in theory benefit them if A) they don’t plan on using these characters anyway and B) they plan on moving forward with Daredevil.

Yet as rumors have it, Fox has declined the offer. Josh Trank is an up and coming director, and it appears that his take on the Fantastic Four is a high priority. Losing such classic villains might inevitably doom the franchise in the long run. I’m fine with the Fantastic Four at Fox, since the two teams are fairly independent of each other. And the tone of a FF movie should be different from Marvel’s current fare, so they might better there anyway. End result for Marvel? Matt Murdock, welcome back to the family.

Ben Affleck will continue to be the red headed stepchild.

Check in tomorrow for my nefarious plans on what Marvel should do with Daredevil. Believe me, it’s not what you expect!

X-Men: First Class was awesome, surprisingly so. Most people, myself included, believed that a rushed production schedule would doom this movie. It turned out to be so good that it held its own against blockbusters like Thor and Captain America. With that kind of success there had to be a sequel, and director Bryan Singer just revealed that it will be X-Men: Days of Future Past to IGN. I haven’t yet decided how I feel about this.

Hugh Jackman better wear that exact jacket the entire movie.

My initial reaction to this news is excitement. The Days of Future Past story line is a great one. The basic breakdown involves a future where mutants are rounded up and put into camps while Sentinels wander around tracking down all the rebel mutants that have not been caught yet. Also, Wolverine wears a badass leather coat all the time in it. The time travel element is cool as it gives Singer a lot of options in what to do. It could also complicate things, especially considering that Singer has implied that he would like to connect the X-Men movies together a little more:

“I think there’s a strong desire to broaden out the universe,” Singer says. “The X-Men universe is every bit on its own as strong as the Marvel universe, and I think it’s time to reach out and explore it, and perhaps even bring some connectivity between the films, as Marvel has done so well. You may see some of that.”

There a metric crap load of continuity errors between X-Men: First Class and the previous X-Men trilogy, so I am really not sure how they could fit those two together. I suppose they could be different realities or something, or maybe we will get a scene where Professor X wakes up and reveals that the first 3 X-Men movies were all a dream. A major possibility is that those movies will be ignored and a connection will be made to the solo Wolverine movies. My money would be on that happening, which I am okay with because that could be fit into a Days of Future Past story pretty easily since Wolverine plays such a big part in it. I’m going to go on record as saying the time travel could get a bit cluttered though, mainly because I want Bryan Singer to prove me wrong once again and create an awesome X-Men movie once again.

All I know is if January Jones is in the sequel, I will watch it.

Thor: The Dark World to Introduce Malekith

Posted by Jordan On August - 5 - 2012ADD COMMENTS

The latest casting announcement for Thor: The Dark World has Christopher Eccleston playing the ruler of the dark elves, Malekith the Accursed. While Malekith isn’t the best known of Thor characters, the whole dark elf and having accursed be a part of his official title is enough to tip off that he will indeed be a villain. In fact, Malekith could turn out to be a pretty fun villain to watch duke it out with Thor. On the other hand, many of Malekith’s powers and traits are fairly similar to Loki’s, so hopefully we don’t end up seeing something too close to what we have already watched in Thor and The Avengers.

It’s okay if we’ve seen it on Disney before.

First off, let’s cover the awesome stuff about Malekith. I fully expect Christopher Eccleston to look great as Malekith, because how can you not make the leader of dark elves not look completely badass?  Malekith also has powers that seem tailor-made to piss of our favorite God of Thunder. Malekith is super smart, allowing him to plot his evil machinations and give him an advantage over Thor and his below genius level intellect. To further confuse his burly opponent, Malekith can also mind control people, and once actually managed to take over the minds of all the humans on earth. This could lead to some serious problems for Thor, as he wouldn’t enjoy having to punch his friends in their faces. Finally, Malekith is also pretty fast and pretty strong, which could allow him to be at least a minor physical nuisance for Thor. Perhaps most annoying of all, Malekith can turn into mist. I fully expect to see this happen right before a Thor hammer swing at his body. With all these powers and the complicated evil schemes that he can come up with, I am actually looking forward to see what kind of problems Malekith can give Thor in this anticipated sequel.

Just checking to see if we can tell the difference between Loki and Malekith.

While I am looking forward to this, I am also pretty worried that Malekith is too similar a villain to Loki. They both rely heavily on magic, come up with complicated schemes, and neither match up very well with Thor physically. Loki gets people to swing at illusions of himself, Malekith turns to mist before they connect. Malekith controls minds, Loki already did so in The Avengers. Neither one of these guys could beat Thor in arm wrestling. They both enjoy classic Italian poetry. The list goes on and on. I was kind of hoping to see somebody in this sequel that was a bit more of a physical challenge for Thor. We really haven’t seen any single character that could go head to head with Thor in knock down drag out fight since he got his powers back at the end of the first movie. Iron Man doesn’t count, that fight was just a skirmish. Thor is either overwhelmed with numbers or tricked in fights. Hopefully Malekith can mind control a big bruiser who can give Thor a run for his money, or maybe get the Executioner on board. I don’t want to see Thor go down from getting swarmed by elves or else I’ll just start calling them the fantasy Chitauri.

Ranking the Nolan-Era Batman Villains

Posted by Billy Lane On August - 3 - 20121 COMMENT

After a three movies, Batman has battled his fair share of nutjobs. We are now going to rank those nutjobs. We count down the best of the worst, and examine who exactly is Batman’s greatest foe. Quick note, I didn’t include Selina Kyle. She may have stolen Bruce Wayne’s possessions, but she also stole my heart.

6. Miranda Tate/Talia Al Ghul

Of all the Batman movie villains, Talia was easily the weakest. The character was seriously underdeveloped, and although the reveal of her identity is a stunning twist, it had little emotional impact. Bruce had known her for all of five minutes before hooking up with her and leaving in the middle of the night. Had an actual relationship developed between the two, it would have been tragic and painful. Instead, it’s just a story beat.

5. Scarecrow

The Scarecrow has always been a bit of a one trick pony, but damn does he do that trick well. And if you’re going to make a movie about fear, then look no further than Dr. Crane. His appearences in all three movies makes for a fun sense of continuity, and every second of Cillian Murphy’s performance is enjoyable.

Scarecrow is low on this list because he had a rather weak relationship with Batman. The two had very little interaction, and Crane was not much more than a pawn in a larger plot. That’s not a bad thing, it just means he has some stiff competition.

4. Two-Face

The Dark Knight is arguably a movie about Harvey Dent. His tragic character arc defines the movie, and it is Harvey that goes through the most development.

Aaron Eckhart does a great job with the material, and my only complaint is that his turn to the dark side is a bit too sudden. A little more understanding of his days in Internal Affairs would have helped lay a stronger foundation for the “Two-Face” moniker.

3. Ra’s Al Ghul

Nolan redefined the Batman universe by making steeping it in realism. How then do you portray an immortal terrorist? In a truly inspired move, Ra’s’ immortality is nothing more than a reliance on decoys and theatricality.

What made Ra’s such a powerful villain was his strong relationship with Bruce Wayne. After all, Ra’s spends the first third of Batman Begins as a mentor. The two share a common bond in their hatred of the criminal underworld and painful pasts. Ra’s just takes the campaign against evil one step further, hoping to destroy it entirely. Unlike the other villains, Ra’s had no costume or gimmick. He just had an iron will and a complex relationship with our hero.

2. Bane

Of all of the villains on this list, few could honestly expect take on Batman physically and expect anything other than a severe concussion and a cell in Blackgate. Not only can Bane withstand Batman’s assaults, he can dish out a severe amount of punishment. What’s worse is that he knows just how to break your spirit, using hope to cause the truest suffering.

Being physically imposing only goes so far though. Bane was fun to watch on screen with a dynamic presence and magnetic personality. What stops Bane from taking the top spot? His character motivations are somewhat murky. He wants to destroy Gotham to fulfill the legacy of Ra’s Al Ghul, but why? The man expelled him from the League. Is he basically trying to win the approval of a disapproving parent? How did he fall so far to annihilate an entire city? I never understand why he hates crime considering his capacity for cruelty. Ultimately, the reveal of the true mastermind downplays Bane as the greatest henchmen of all time, and his death shows that.

When push comes to shove though, rule of cool. Bane might just have highest awesome quotient of any villain on this list, and he truly earns the number two spot on this list.

1. The Joker

Could it ever be anyone else? Heath Ledger’s praises have been sung by Bat fans ever since his first reveal, and for good reason. Ledger gave an electric performance that stole every scene. Impossible to forget, the Joker remains the greatest villain Batman has ever faced.

It’s not just the performance that makes the Joker such a brilliant villain. He’s a complex character who has the most fascinating relationship with Batman. The Joker turned Bruce’s world upside down, murdering his loved ones, testing his wits and challenging his moral compass in a way no other villain could. Nolan perfectly presented a relationship that has lasted in comics for over 70 years, explaining that in a twisted way the two can co-exist. Both are outcasts of society, but they truly are polar opposites.

Separately, Batman and Joker are two great characters. Together? They complete each other.

Spoiler Free Review: The Dark Knight Rises

Posted by Jordan On July - 30 - 2012ADD COMMENTS

One of the best movies I have ever seen.

We have been waiting since 2008 to see if Christopher Nolan would be able to top his own work on The Dark Knight, arguably the greatest comic book movie of all time. After having seen The Dark Knight Rises more times than my wallet would like, I am ready to make a definitive statement about the conclusion to Nolan’s Batman trilogy. The simple answer is that The Dark Knight Rises is a great movie. I thoroughly enjoyed watching it and can’t wait to get it on DVD. Possibly even Blu-Ray. With that said, The Dark Knight still stands as the greatest film in the Batman franchise.

That mask did look really badass though.

The main thing that set The Dark Knight apart from The Dark Knight Rises is the main villain. Tom Hardy’s Bane was awesome, but he can’t match up with Heath Ledger’s Joker. This would be a lot to ask considering the near mythical status fans have given to Ledger’s performance. Tom Hardy was also hamstrung by the mask he had to wear as Bane. There have been many complaints that Bane is often difficult to understand, and I have to admit that there were a couple lines that I might have missed due to the augmentation to his voice. The hardest part was matching up gestures to the voice. Ledger had amazing body language as the Joker that seemed very fluid and natural. In contrast, many of Hardy’s movements as Bane looked just a little bit off or peculiar, which I blame on the fact we couldn’t see his mouth moving as he was talking. It’s a little detail, but one that is very important because we are so used to seeing it. This isn’t to say Bane wasn’t a great villain, as Hardy did give a great performance throughout the film. These limitations just made it impossible for him to reach the same status as the Joker.

He was awesome, but he could have been so much better.

Another character I was a little disappointed with was Detective John Blake, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. The problem with this was actually that JGL was too darn good for the part. He put on such a great performance that I was actually disappointed that his character hadn’t been written better. I was expecting a lot more development in his character considering the considerable screen time JGL got in previews and during the movie itself. John Blake seemed rushed into the movie to fill in some plot points and he never had the type of development that I wanted to see from him. There was also a throwaway reference to his name at the end of the movie that I absolutely hated.

One part of the movie that people I have talked to can’t seem to agree on is the pacing. The movie certainly isn’t short, with a run-time of 165 minutes, and I expected that any complaints about pacing would be that it was too long. The exact opposite was true, as I have heard people complain that not enough time was spent setting up scenarios and explaining the situations. This was a surprise to me, but it makes sense. I am very familiar with Batman’s history and mythos, which led to me having a pretty good idea of what to expect from the movie. Many parts of the movie could be a little confusing for people who haven’t been reading Batman comics for years, which makes up for a fair chunk of the ticket sales. For those who went into the movie with a little better understanding of the Batman universe, the pacing was great though.

I agree with Billy. I am also seriously in love with Anne Hathaway now.

That’s enough talk about the negative aspects of the movie, because I don’t want people to think this was a bad movie. That is far from the case. I have been nitpicking these parts of the movie just because the previous installments have been so great. As I said earlier, I am very familiar with Batman’s history, especially when it comes to Bane. My main worry going into The Dark Knight Rises was that it would be too predictable. This was a completely unnecessary worry. Nolan does a great job of taking parts from the comics and changing details to make them into his own story. There were some twists and turns that I really didn’t see coming. I was intrigued from the beginning of the movie right until the very end and that’s exactly what I want from a Batman movie. A big part of this was due to the great performances of the cast. Christian Bale was his usual amazing self as Batman/Bruce Wayne, Tom Hardy was a great Bane despite the earlier criticisms, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt could have stolen the show if his character was written a little bit better. The biggest surprise was Anne Hathaway. I was skeptical about her as Catwoman, but she killed it. I have learned to never question Christopher Nolan’s casting choices. Anne Hathaway did such a great job that she has made my list of celebrity crushes.

Alright, let’s wrap things up. Go see The Dark Knight Rises. It didn’t dethrone The Dark Knight as the best Batman movie ever, but it was still an amazing movie. The ending fits Nolan’s franchise well, but it is definitely bittersweet. We might have to wait quite a while before we see another superhero franchise of this quality.

A Tale of Two Cities and One Batman (Spoilers)

Posted by Billy Lane On July - 24 - 2012ADD COMMENTS

If you saw The Dark Knight Rises, you might have heard a familiar line of dialogue pop up. If you’re wondering where it came from, it’s actually the final line of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities. Though the book might be remembered more for its classic opening, the closing is not only the greatest part of the story, but one my favorite moments in literature. Nolan’s conclusion to the saga is actually chock full of references to the classic tale, with huge inspirations from the story, as evidenced by this quote during a pretty pivotal moment in the film.  Next time you’re talking about the movie, bring up these points and look super-smart in front of your friends!

Use this knowledge to seduce Anne Hathaway!

  1. Bane as Madame Defarge. Remember how Bane was sitting in the back of the mock court, playing around with some kind of string?  This is a reference to Madame Defarge, the villain of the novel. While aristocrats are driven to the guillotine, Defarge watched and knitted in the background.
  2. The storming of Blackgate Prison. One of the most famous parts of the book (and the French Revolution for that matter) is the storming of the Bastille, one of France’s most infamous prisons of the time. Not only is the event identical in nature, but Bane specifically asks to “storm” the prison.
  3. Catwoman is Sydney Carton. Okay, I’m stretching this one. A lot. Sydney is a ne’er do well drunk of sorts, who constantly claims that he will never be a decent person. Sydney redeems himself, ultimately emerging as a hero. Much of Selina Kyle’s dialogue feels right out of the novel, with her claiming again and again that she is up to no good.
  4. The Fire Rises. “The Fire Rises” is a huge line in the movie and promotional posters. Spoken by Bane’s loyal henchmen, it’s also the title of a chapter in A Tale of Two Cities. All of the scenes of civil unrest are directly inspired by the French Revolution, even though they feel highly contemporary.
  5. Coming back to life. One of the greatest themes of A Tale of Two Cities is of redemption and resurrection. Characters are brought back to the world of the living in a variety of senses, and are redeemed for higher purposes. It’s clear how this is an influence, with Batman rejoining the world as a hero after his time as a hermit and Catwoman’s eventual redemption.

There you go. Your chance to look like a fancy film critic. Enjoy!

Superman Teaser Released!

Posted by Billy Lane On July - 23 - 2012ADD COMMENTS

We finally have our first look at Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel. It’s only a teaser, with no real content, but it’s an interesting snap of the movie. Behold!

I really like what I’m seeing here. I can’t predict the substance of the movie or the quality of the acting without seeing a scene lasting more than two seconds. In terms of visual style and tone it looks very distinct. The voice-overs give us some pretty generic dialogue from Clark’s father figures. They do raise some big themes though, that if executed well would make for perfect Superman material. It also helps that they’re using music from the Lord of the Rings here.

The teaser doesn’t give us clues as to how good the movie will be as much as it shows us what the movies aspires to do. I’m happy to say that the movie aspires to follow Nolan’s legacy. The trailer takes itself very seriously, and wants to appear important. We’ll see if Snyder delivers, but it’s good to see that the movie has ambitions.

I didn’t think I’d actually be looking forward to this movie.

Tragedy at The Dark Knight Rises

Posted by Jordan On July - 20 - 2012ADD COMMENTS

As you may have heard this morning, the midnight premier of The Dark Knight Rises was met with tragedy in Aurora, CO. A man broke into one of the theaters about 20 minutes into the movie and began shooting moviegoers, leaving 12 dead and many more injured. This act is shocking, appalling, and many more adjectives which I can’t write here. It is terrible that this has become the main news on the night that so many have been excited for for years. I fully expected to sit down and write a review of The Dark Knight Rises this morning, but news of this nature takes precedence. We fully plan on putting up a review of The Dark Knight Rises, but felt it was best to address this troubling event first. We won’t be covering any other details of the shooting. It is getting plenty of attention on major news outlets if you would like to follow what is happening with investigations, and we would prefer to focus on what we know best.

While Hero District is first and foremost a site to geek out about comic books on, even we recognize that sometimes there are things more important than that. Today has reminded us of that very clearly. We here at Hero District send our thoughts and prayers to all those affected by this senseless tragedy and request that all our readers do the same.