Axel-In-Charge: Navigating the "Civil War II" Landscape, Bringing DMC to Marvel
Perhaps no comic book setting provokes as much thought, or as much reinterpretation, as Gotham, which not only gave birth to Batman and his incomparable rogues gallery, but also numerous musings on the ever-changing nature of the fictional city.
The latest is Nerdwriter’s wonderful video essay “The Evolution of Batman’s Gotham City,” which traces the setting’s many interpretations over the past 75 years, from its earliest appearances in DC Comics titles and its redefining interpretation in Tim Burton’s Batman films to its near-destruction in “No Man’s Land” and its more grounded depiction in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy.
When a client in the posh Melbourne, Australia, suburb of Toorak wanted to renovate to make room for a car collection without marring the architecture of the stately manor, design firm Molecule knew where to turn for inspiration: Christopher Nolan’s 2008 film The Dark Knight.
Using Bruce Wayne’s striking subterranean garage as “a totem of the design approach,” the studio set to work on “the Wayne Residence,” whose beautifully landscaped lawn and well-appointed tennis court conceal the very modern Batcave nestled beneath.
Filmmaker Christopher Nolan has collaborated with artist Sean Gordon Murphy on a short story to address one of the mysteries of Interstellar: What happened to Matt Damon’s Dr. Mann and his robot SKIPP on the other side of the wormhole?
If everything had gone as planned, sometime Wednesday a street-legal replica of Batman’s Tumblr from Christopher Nolan’s movie trilogy would be crossing the finish line in Ibiza in a triumphant conclusion to the Gumball 3000.
Unfortunately, those plans went awry before the annual 3,000-mile motor rally even got under way last week in Miami Beach, Florida.
If Hammacher Schlemmer‘s $200,000 licensed, street-legal 1966 Batmobile is a little too cheap, or a little too dated, for your tastes, allow us to this roadworthy replica on the Tumbler from Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. Listed on the James Edition luxury goods website, the vehicle will only set you back … $1 million.
But, hey, it’s worth it: This concept car — it’s “inspired by the movie Batman Begins” — comes equipped with an eight-cylinder LS1 engine, four 44-inch super swamper tires with custom rims, five driver-assist cameras and a stereo with blue tooth, CD/DVD and iPod integration. Plus, it’s a limited edition; there are just five of these in the world.
OK, so that $200,000 street-legal Batmobile replica is a little bit out of your price range. It’s understandable: After all, the economy is soft and crime-fighting doesn’t pay as much as it used to. Then maybe you’d have been better suited for a “one-of-a-kind” Batman Tumbler Golf Cart.
Alas, someone just snapped it up for a Buy It Now price of $17,500, ending the eBay auction a few days early. Sure, it isn’t Warner Bros.-approved, and it doesn’t have a blinking Batphone, it does look like an adorably squat version of the vehicle from the Christopher Nolan movies. Plus, hey, four cupholders!
The other former superheroes at Gotham Acres Retirement Community will definitely be jealous when they see the Can’t-Drive-After-Dark Knight cruising around in this baby.
Devotees of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy — particularly those who hoped a follow-up might center on Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s John Blake — may find a lot to enjoy in The Dark Knight Legacy, a seven-minute fan film that debuted this morning on Machinima.
Directed by Brett Register from a script by Woody Tondorf and Chris Landa, the short picks up a year after the events of The Dark Knight Rises, as Blake (as Nightwing) tries to “protect the symbol of Batman from the lethal, relentless attacks of a masked vigilante known only as the Red Hood.” (Fan-favorite character Stephanie Brown also makes an appearance.)
The producers hope to transform The Dark Knight Legacy into an actual series, and to that end they’ve turned to Indiegogo in an effort to raise $30,000. Watch the video below.
One big potential problem with any Superman incarnation is his relationship with the audience. Even if the story centers around a credible moral dilemma, it risks having him make a choice with which the audience disagrees. Put another way, you can start with a Superman with a definite code of ethics, who always tries to do the right thing, and who puts others’ welfare above his own, and you might still end up with the Injustice comic, the pure-Straczynski issues of “Grounded,” or Superman Returns. For a significant group of fans, these are cautionary examples of How Not To Do Superman (although apparently those Injustice comics sell reasonably well…).
Accordingly, it helps if the audience trusts the particular Superman writer, which is where Scott Snyder, David Goyer, and Christopher Nolan come in. Snyder is already a big deal at DC thanks to his Batman work. Likewise, last year Goyer (screenwriter) and Nolan (producer/director) wrapped up a wildly successful Batman film trilogy.
Still, it’s easy to do Batman. For one thing, Batman doesn’t need to be a nice guy. Like James Bond or Don Draper, his main focus is the work, and the style with which he gets the particular job done. If Bats gets to make a hard moral choice, as he did at the conclusion of The Dark Knight, that’s just gravy.
With that in mind, we turn to the week’s two newest Superman vehicles, one an ongoing comic book, and the other a new film incarnation, to see what choices they present to our hero.
Butcher Billy, the Brazilian artist sometimes known as Bily Mariano da Luz, is turning into something of a Robot 6 favorite. His latest project posted at Behance is “Batman: The Nolan X Burton Experiment,” smashing together Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman and Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy to sometimes humorous, often illuminating, effect. By placing their differing elements in proximity, these images reveal both what was good and what failed from these two adaptations. (Such as, hey Tim, you cast Lando Calrissian as Harvey Dent, then do absolutely nothing of consequence with the character in either of your films? What was that all about?)
As Bily writes: “But are they really that different? How much of all that is really classic and timeless and how much is pure recycling to modern times? Are those elements cool enough to stand even if taken from their own environments? How those concepts would work if they were mixed into one another?”
If the trailer for Batgirl: Spoiled wasn’t enough to whet your fan-film appetite, there’s now Batman: Puppet Master, a short set in the aftermath of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight as the Gotham City Police Department calls in an expert to help bring Batman to justice: FBI Special Agent Edward Nigma.
However, Nigma doesn’t merely want to catch the Dark Knight; he wants to deduce his secret identity, proving that he’s the world’s greatest detective. To that end, he enlists the assistance of some of Arkham Asylum’s inmates — Arnold Weskler and Peyton Riley (aka the first and second Ventriloquist), and Victor Zsasz.
Directed by Bryan Nest from a script by Chris Wiltz, Batman: Puppet Master is described as “a film created by fans for fans and it delivers an exciting storyline that will introduce fans to new versions of Mr. Zsasz, The Ventriloquist, and Edward Nigma (aka The Riddler), who fans were expecting to appear in Nolan’s third Batman film.”
An uncomfortable familiarity hangs over much of The Dark Knight Rises, the final film in the Christopher Nolan-directed Batman trilogy. Some of it comes from the disquiet of watching familiar characters and settings suffer. However, some of it comes from the use of overly familiar movie tropes. For example, one of the early “Batman must come back” scenes feels lifted from a style guide. Another scene, much later, echoes Luke and Han’s join-us-no-join-me exchange just before the Death Star attack. Oh, and William Devane shows up in a very William Devane-esque role.
Accordingly, The Dark Knight Rises is not a perfect movie. It doesn’t have the intricate plotting of its predecessor (2008’s The Dark Knight, like you didn’t know). Any socially conscious message about “the 99% vs. the 1%” is lost in Bane’s repurposed sloganeering and Selina Kyle’s disillusionment. In one spot, the movie seems to skip dusk entirely, going from twilight to pitch-black night in less than eight minutes.* Furthermore, although I hate to disagree with Sean, at times Bane sounds like Darrell Hammond’s Sean Connery (and apparently — beware of spoilers past the link — I am not the only one who thinks so).
Nevertheless, its epic ambitions are mostly realized, and it exists mainly to give its principals (i.e., just about every major character still left from 2005’s Batman Begins) closure. This, I want to emphasize, it does exceptionally well. Four years ago I compared The Dark Knight to David Fincher’s serial-killer meditation Zodiac, but this time I’m going with Doctor Zhivago by way of James Bond. A macro-level exploration of Begins’ “why do we fall?”, it builds to a thrilling, triumphal, bittersweet final shot. I’m looking forward to seeing it again, and eventually to examining the trilogy as a whole.
Before a shocked country, let alone investigators, can begin to get a grasp on what led 24-year-old James Holmes to open fire during a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises, killing at least 12 and wounding dozens more, at least one newspaper writer is willing to take a wild guess: a comic book. Specifically, Frank Miller’s landmark 1986 miniseries The Dark Knight Returns.
Under the headline, “Was the Batman shooting movie shooting imitated from scene in 1986 comic?,” The Washington Examiner’s Sean Higgins claims the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado, “bears eerie similarities” to the scene in which “a crazed, gun-toting loner walks into a movie theater and begins shooting it up, killing three in the process.”
In an effort to bolster his shaky, if not downright groundless hypothesis, Higgins points out that The Dark Knight Returns served “a key inspiration” for director Christopher Nolan’s big-screen trilogy. (Why stop there, though? Coupled with Miller and David Mazzucchelli’s “Year One,” the miniseries has influenced virtually every depiction of Batman over the past quarter-century.)
The filming of The Dark Knight Rises in Pittsburgh is expected to pump millions of dollars into the economy, giving a boost to hotels, restaurants, lumber yards and more. So, hey, why shouldn’t the criminal community get a little benefit?
WPXI reports that on Saturday evening, Pittsburgh police Det. Robert DiGiacomo was in an unmarked vehicle looking for the suspect in an assault. Suddenly a man matching the suspect’s description opened the car door, sat down and told the detective to get out. When the officer drew his gun and ordered 21-year-old Micah Calamosca to exit the car, the suspect reportedly responded that he was part of the cast of the Christopher Nolan film … and that stealing the vehicle was just part of the script.
As you may have guessed, DiGiacomo didn’t buy the explanation. Calamosca was subsequently arrested, and faces a charge of robbery of a motor vehicle. A police vehicle. I’d have at least gone for Batman’s Tumbler. Heck, he has three, so he may not have missed one.
Leave it to Next Media Animation, the Taiwanese studio last seen on Robot 6 explaining the history of the danger-fraught Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, to view the trailer for The Dark Knight Rises through a fractured prism that makes Grant Morrison’s wildest of storylines seem humdrum by comparison. Judging from this video, the conclusion of Christopher Nolan’s movie trilogy has something to do with the bankruptcy of Wayne Enterprises, rising food prices at Wal-Mart, a lovesick Batman, and the return of Halle Berry as a whip-cracking Catwoman.
Warner Bros. has released an online comic prequel to Inception, the highly anticipated sci-fill thriller from The Dark Knight director Christopher Nolan. Called “The Cobol Job,” the prequel is written by the film’s co-producer Jordan Goldberg (Batman: Gotham Knight) and illustrated by UDON Entertainment‘s Long Vo, Joe Ng and Crystal Reid.
Although it’s called a prequel, I’ve seen warnings that the comic is somewhat spoiler-ish, and will make more sense after a viewing of the movie. So, you may want to wait until you’ve returned from Inception‘s midnight debut to give “The Cobol Job” a read.