Published: June 16th, 2015 Written by: Chuck Dixon Art by: Scott McDaniel
DC Comics, 292 Pages
This volume in Chuck Dixon’s lengthy Nightwing run kicks off right where the previous one left off and builds off of those stories.
We also get to see appearances from more well-known villains in this chapter but a lot of them are just glorified cameos. However, the stories involving Scarecrow and Man Bat were really damn enjoyable.
Beyond that, I like how this also features other villains that are developed more for Nightwing and the city he protects, Blüdhaven.
We get more of Blockbuster, who essentially serves as Blüdhaven’s Wilson Fisk-type crime lord. We also get more of female villain Lady Vic, as well as some others thrown into the mix.
I also didn’t mind the romantic subplot that Dixon developed for this story between Nightwing and his new building’s female superintendent. Add in his sometimes romantic partner Barbara Gordon and you don’t really know how things will play out.
Ultimately, this is a story about Nightwing breaking out on his own and trying to be his own version of a street level vigilante. This is the culmination of the lessons he’s learned from Batman and it shows how he’s applying all of that to making his own life in a different city that also deserves a hero.
Rating: 7.25/10 Pairs well with: other ’90s Nightwing and Batman comics.
Release Date: March 18th, 2021 Directed by: Zack Snyder Written by: Chris Terrio, Zack Snyder, Will Beall Based on: Characters from DC Comics Music by: Tom Holkenborg Cast: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, Amy Adams, Diane Lane, Jeremy Irons, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher, Connie Nielsen, J.K. Simmons, Jesse Eisenberg, Joe Manganiello (uncredited), Willem Dafoe, Amber Heard, Joe Morton, Jared Leto, Robin Wright, David Thewlis, Russell Crowe, Marc McClure, Carla Gugino (voice), Billy Crudup (uncredited)
DC Entertainment, The Stone Quarry, Atlas Entertainment, Warner Bros., HBO Max, 242 Minutes
“How do you know your team’s strong enough? If you can’t bring down the charging bull, then don’t wave the red cape at it.” – Alfred Pennyworth
For years, fans of Zack Snyder demanded that Warner Bros. release The Snyder Cut of 2017’s Justice League movie. For those who have read my review of it, you already know about how much I disliked that terrible film, which was taken over and finished by Joss Whedon after Snyder left the production due to a family emergency.
Needless to say, I never wanted this movie. However, it’s release seems like a real victory for fans in a time when they’re being labeled “toxic” by Hollywood and the media outlets that suck the shit straight out of the big studios’ assholes. So despite my feelings on the theatrical version of this movie, I am happy for the fans that demanded this version of it.
That being said, this is, indeed, a much better version of the film. Granted, it’s four fucking hours long, which is way too long. This probably should’ve been cut into two parts or released as an episodic miniseries. There’s just so much material but honestly, a lot of what’s here is also unnecessary. There are so many slow motion scenes that those parts really put an exclamation point on how dragged out this movie is.
It’s also got its fair share of cringe.
The biggest instance of cringe that pops into my mind is the scene that introduces Wonder Woman. She fights some terrorists with hostages but they do this weird thing where they speed up and slow down the film for dramatic effect. It’s weird, hokey and shitty. Also, she blocks every bullet fired from a machine gun with her bracelets like she has the speed and accuracy of the Flash. They’ve basically made her a female Superman with bracelets and a lasso and it’s just sort of confusing. I get that she fits this mold in the comics but in this already established film canon, it’s like her powers have increased to that of a literal god in a very short span of time compared to the length of her life. But I can also look beyond it and sort of accept it within the framework of this movie, which wasn’t supposed to exist.
Regarding other cringe, there’s the dialogue, which often times is horrendous.
There’s also Ezra Miller, who brings down the entire production every time he shows up on screen and tries to be cute and funny but just comes off like that asshole millennial barista that thinks he’s smarter than you but you can see the cat food stains on his shirt from last night’s dinner. Ezra Miller as The Flash may be the worst casting decision in the history of mainstream superhero films.
There is some good with this picture, though.
For one, every time I see Ben Affleck as Batman, he grows on me. Affleck deserves his own Batman movie but he never got one and was instead wasted in multiple shitty DCEU movies. He could be three solo Batman pictures deep now but we’ve got to see him parade around with Ezra Miller and other superheroes that appear lame in his really cool orbit.
I also thought that Steppenwolf, the film’s primary villain was much, much better in this. He feels like a real character with a real story arc. In the theatrical version, he came across as some generic miniboss whose dungeon you could skip in Skyrim. Plus, he looks so much fucking cooler in this version.
Additionally, this film gives me what I’ve always wanted to see and that’s Darkseid on the big screen. Granted, this wasn’t released in theaters so the “big screen” was a combination of a 50 inch television and my tablet screen.
There are also some great new action sequences. I kind of liked the big battle between Steppenwolf and the Amazons, as well as the big war between Darkseid, his minions and the armies of Greek gods, Amazons and Atlanteans. It was a flashback scene but it was still damn cool. Especially, the Green Lantern stuff they added in. In a lot of ways, it reminded me of the intro to The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
I also liked that Cyborg was much more developed and didn’t just seem like a last minute addition added in to pad out the team.
The first act of the film is the worst and I felt like it moved too slow and didn’t really make me care about the movie too much. The second act, however, switched into high gear and that’s where it grabbed me as well as it could and I started to feel like I was finally getting a better, more fleshed out and worthwhile movie.
I also generally liked the third act but I thought a lot of the epilogue was unnecessary and didn’t need to be in the film. It also spends a lot of time establishing future storylines but it’s very damn likely that this will never get a sequel, as Warner Bros. were really determined not to allow this version of the film to be completed in the first place, as they want Zack Snyder to just go away now.
For those who don’t know, it was their parent company, AT&T, that forced their hand, as they needed something huge to help drive potential subscribers to their new HBO Max streaming service. This is also why this probably didn’t get a proper theatrical release.
In the end, this was still far from great and it was too damn long. However, I’d say that it’s the best DC Comics related film that Snyder has done apart from Watchmen.
Rating: 6.5/10 Pairs well with: Zack Snyder’s other DCEU films.
When I was growing up in the ’80s, this was my introduction to Batman. It was the first version I really got to know because I discovered it a few years before the 1989 movie came out. That movie then blew my tiny little mind but it also never diminished or replaced my love for the ’60s television series.
In fact, I loved that series so much that I bought this book with my miniscule allowance money and read through it in its entirety at least a dozen times. The big reason for that was because we didn’t have streaming services, DVDs or even VHS tapes of this show. I could only catch it when it was on sporadically and therefore, didn’t get to see all of the episodes until a friend of my mum’s made me bootleg copies of the entire series in the early ’90s.
This book was special because it gave a synopsis and extra details on every single episode. I’d read through them like a novelization (or a modern Wikipedia article), envisioning the scenes playing out for myself. It made me love many of the villains and characters before I even got to see them onscreen. This also helped generate a lifelong obsession with all things Vincent Price.
At some point in the ’90s, after moving around multiple times, this book was lost. It wasn’t until recently that I came across another copy and had to buy it and revisit it.
Sure, this is probably nostalgia speaking but this was a solid book and once again, all these years later, I couldn’t put it down.
This is great because it gives you so much information on the show and if you’re a fan of it and have never read this, you probably should.
While I don’t think this is even in print, you can find copies on eBay and periodically on Amazon. There is a version with a different cover but nothing pops quite like the original.
Rating: 9/10 Pairs well with: if you want more about the ’60s Batman television series, check out the Batman ’66 comic books. I’ve reviewed many of them already.
Published: October 8th, 2013 Written by: Grant Morrison Art by: Tony S. Daniel, Lee Garbett
DC Comics, 213 Pages
I’m pretty sure I liked this when I read it back when it was current, about a decade and a half ago. However, I found it just weird and wonky this time around. But I’ve also aged quite a bit and in that time, read some truly incredible comics.
I was probably really into this, as it came out at the height of my Grant Morrison love. Plus, back then, I was more into weird shit and experimental storytelling. However, I don’t feel like any of that necessarily benefits the most mainstream of all mainstream comic book titles.
Having now recently read a good amount of Grant Morrison’s Batman run, my opinion on it has soured quite a bit. It’s stuck in this weird limbo where it’s too weird to feel like it fits within the top Batman title and it isn’t weird enough to truly feel like Grant Morrison, unrestrained.
This feels like watered down Morrison and by trying to sit on the fence between mainstream acceptance and Morrison’s typical narrative style, it’s really just a boring, baffling dud of a comic.
The art is good, damn good. However, that’s not enough to save it from how disappointing it is, overall. Besides, this is a story from the pages of the most popular comic book in the medium and if the art isn’t up to snuff, DC Comics should close up shop.
This kind of wore me ragged, honestly. I don’t want to read anymore of Morrison’s Batman work and I consider it to be overrated, at this point. I also say that as someone that once liked it.
In the end, Morrison shouldn’t have his hands creatively tied but he also shouldn’t be allowed to go into Batman with reckless abandon. That’s what DC’s Elseworld Tales are for and frankly, that’s where Morrison’s Batman work should be.
Rating: 5/10 Pairs well with: the rest of Grant Morrison’s Batman run.
Published: November 3rd, 2009 Written by: Grant Morrison Art by: Andy Kubert, J.H. Williams III
DC Comics, 350 Pages
The Deluxe Edition of Batman and Son features all of Grant Morrison’s Batman run up to Batman R.I.P., although it excludes The Resurrection of Ra’s al Ghul, which I will also review shortly.
It’s a hefty but surprisingly quick read, as it has a good, quick pace and is mostly pretty good. I actually read it in one sitting and found it kind of refreshing, as I haven’t liked many Batman stories within the regular continuity since Morrison’s era. Granted, I did enjoy some of Scott Snyder’s work.
I also loved Andy Kubert’s artwork and I feel like he doesn’t get enough credit as one of the premiere Batman artists. It was this era of Batman that got me reading the comic again after a several year hiatus and Kubert’s art had a lot to do with that.
This edition features a couple of story arcs. I liked the first one the best, as it is the debut of Damian Wayne, Batman’s son. It had been a long time since I read these issues but it was fun to revisit.
All in all, this was the start of one of the best runs in the last few decades and it didn’t disappoint. While it might not be as strong as my memories of it, it was still much better than most of the stuff that came after it.
Rating: 7.5/10 Pairs well with: the other stories in the Grant Morrison Batman run.
Published: May 5th, 2015 Written by: Tony Bernard, Peter Calloway Art by: Andres Guinaldo, Jeremy Haun
DC Comics, 288 Pages
Well, losing Paul Dini as the series’ writer was a bit of a blow to Gotham City Sirens, as this second book doesn’t live up to the pretty solid first one.
Still, this is mostly a decent read and it carries on the story Dini started. Although, it does feel like it knew it was going to be wrapping up, as the bond between these three women seems to dissolve just as fast as it gelled.
I guess the most interesting parts within this are the ones dealing with Harley Quinn and how she’s processing her issues with The Joker and their very abusive, one-sided relationship.
But I’m glad that this presents Harley well unlike the more modern comics with her that have turned her into a one-dimensional joke character that has evolved into DC’s half-assed attempt at trying to make their own Deadpool.
Compared to the first book, this is almost forgettable other than the Harley stuff.
The art is really good, however, and it helps carry this series as it quickly loses steam and sort of just whimpers away because DC Comics had to reboot their universe for the umpteenth time.
Rating: 7/10 Pairs well with: the first book in the Gotham City Sirens series.
Published: 1989 Written by: Marv Wolfman, George Perez Art by: Jim Aparo, Tom Grummett
DC Comics, 116 Pages
This story arc came out not too long after A Death In the Family and it serves as a sort of resolution to it, as it shows how Batman has been much harsher in the streets and how the possibility of a new Robin starts to help him overcome his grief after losing the second Robin, Jason Todd.
While this isn’t the first appearance of Tim Drake, that happened in the previous arc – Year 3, this is where he enters the lives of Bruce Wayne, Alfred Pennyworth and Dick Grayson.
This story also crossed over with The New Teen Titans and involved some of those characters as a minor supporting cast for Dick Grayson/Nightwing’s part in the story.
We also see Batman, Nightwing and Tim Drake unofficially playing Robin try to take down Two-Face, a villain with major ties to the deceased Jason Todd. We even get to see a brief appearance of The Joker, the person who murdered Jason, and how he’s involved with this story’s plot.
The action and the crime solving in this aren’t anything great but they serve as a good framework to tell the more important story here, which is pulling Batman out of the darkness and allowing him to love those around him once again. It also serves to establish who Tim Drake is and why he might be better suited for the Robin role than Jason Todd was.
The writing was solid and I also loved the art by Jim Aparo, who will always be one of my favorite Batman artists because he was one of the top guys drawing these books when I first started buying them regularly.
Rating: 8/10 Pairs well with:Batman: A Death In the Family and Batman: Year 3.
Published: 1988 Written by: Jim Starlin Art by: Jim Aparo, Mike DeCarlo, Adrienne Roy
DC Comics, 142 Pages
A Death In the Family was one of the biggest Batman stories to happen around the time that I was getting into comics as a serious reader and not just a casual one, who just occasionally picked up stuff other than G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero.
When I was in elementary school, this is a story that all the kids talked about and I remember trading my hardcover copy of Arkham Asylum for this and The Killing Joke. I felt like I definitely won in that trade and it’s mainly because of this story.
I was the rare Jason Todd fan. Sure, nowadays other people like him because of how he came back as the Red Hood and carved out his own legacy. Before that, however, people pretty much hated Jason. I think I mainly liked him because he was Robin when I started paying attention and I saw through him being a prickish pain in the ass and knew that there was something deeper inside him that was needing to come out. The problems Jason presented Bruce/Batman with were different than Dick Grayson’s, the original Robin. He simply made things more interesting, as you knew his attitude and temperament would somehow come to a head in a big way.
While I love this story and I really liked how it altered the Batman series going forward, I always thought that Jason died too early and that they missed out on exploring him more. I guess that’s why I really gravitated towards his stories when he finally did return, nearly two decades later.
In regards to this story, it’s exceptionally well written and presented with great care and a respect for the character, even though the fans called a hotline and actually voted for Jason Todd to die.
This is still one of the best, all-time classic Batman stories ever written. It also has great art by Jim Aparo.
I liked that this takes things out of Gotham City and that the story is kicked off by Jason Todd discovering that his biological mother is out there, somewhere. He goes in search of her and while that’s happening, The Joker is off selling a missile to a Middle Eastern tyrant, which brings his story and Jason’s crashing together in a tragic and emotional way.
Jason does find his mother but what he finds with that costs him his life and turns Batman into someone that wants vengeance against The Joker for what he did to the child that Batman was supposed to raise and protect.
This is a pretty heartbreaking story that has stood the test of time and is still emotional, even if you are aware of what actually happens to Jason Todd after his death.
If you are a fan of the Caped Crusader and haven’t read this, you probably should.
Rating: 9.5/10 Pairs well with: other Batman comics of the late ’80s/early ’90s, as well as the early Red Hood stories from the ’00s.
From Filmento’s YouTube description: Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight still remains one of the strongest superhero movies to date and overall features a lot of great stuff, from the Joker to the physicality of the practical action. But one aspect to learn from it especially is how to begin a movie — more specifically, how it handles the “day in the life” section its beginning consists of. And since we’ve had some Filmento haters argue in my Kristen Stewart Underwater 2020 movie video that The Dark Knight doesn’t have a day in the life section, let’s dig deeper into the film’s opening to see why that argument is dangerously false — what that term means and how to do it effectively. Here’s how to begin a movie.
Also known as: Batman Begins 2 (working title), Rory’s First Kiss, Winter Green (fake working titles) Release Date: July 14th, 2008 (Buenos Aires & New York City premieres) Directed by: Christopher Nolan Written by: Jonathan Nolan, Christopher Nolan, David S. Goyer Based on: characters by DC Comics Music by: Hans Zimmer, James Newton Howard Cast: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Cillian Murphy, Nestor Carbonell, Eric Roberts, Anthony Michael Hall, Ritchie Coster, Michael Jai White, Colin McFarlane, Tom “Tiny” Lister, William Fichtner, David Dastmalchian
DC Comics, Syncopy, Legendary Entertainment, Warner Bros., 152 Minutes
“Don’t talk like one of them. You’re not! Even if you’d like to be. To them, you’re just a freak, like me! They need you right now, but when they don’t, they’ll cast you out, like a leper! You see, their morals, their code, it’s a bad joke. Dropped at the first sign of trouble. They’re only as good as the world allows them to be. I’ll show you. When the chips are down, these… these civilized people, they’ll eat each other. See, I’m not a monster. I’m just ahead of the curve.” – The Joker
I was a bit apprehensive about revisiting this for the first time in a long time. The reason being, is that I remembered it as being perfect and it was the movie I saw in the theater more times than any other. But with so much time passing, I had worried that my take on it now could have soured a bit.
I’m glad to say that it didn’t, as this is still a masterpiece of crime fiction and social commentary.
As far as superhero films go, I still think that this is the greatest one ever made. I think a lot of that has to do with the realistic approach of the film and just how real and plausible it comes across even though it features a man in a bat costume and a criminal in clown makeup. Not to mention a guy with half his face burnt off and some wonky sci-fi gadgets like the incredibly high-tech sonar surveillance computer.
This is a film where just about everything went right. It was a perfect storm of great writing, great direction, great acting, stellar cinematography and an incredible musical score.
It was well balanced between action and drama and even with its somewhat lengthy running time, there isn’t a wasted moment in the film. Every scene has meaning and every scene does exactly what it needs to without dilly dallying and slowing the pacing down. At the same time, the timing is impeccable and this film perfectly creates tension when it needs to. The whole film is about escalation and the final product is a perfectly curated example of that.
It’s sad and tragic that Heath Ledger died before this was released. It would’ve been cool for him to have seen the final product and to have enjoyed the fanfare and praise his performance as The Joker got. It’s hands down one of the best performances of that decade and even though his death gave the role an added level of mystique and importance, it stands on its own as one of the greatest villain portrayals in motion picture history.
Additionally, I also really liked Ledger’s version of The Joker, as he kind of did his own thing with the character and it forced Nolan to kind of portray the character differently than what was originally intended. And while it might not be a perfect adaptation of the comic book Joker, which no film has done thus far, it kind of exists as its own, great thing and it added so much to this already stellar trilogy.
My only real complaint about the film was how growl-y Bale’s Batman voice was. I much preferred his voice in Batman Begins and I think most people did, as well. I’m not the only person to point this out and in fact, it sort of became a social meme after the movie’s release.
That being said, the Batman voice doesn’t wreck the film and I still think it’s a damn near perfect movie that transcended the superhero genre, forever changed it and hasn’t yet been eclipsed regardless of some of the superb comic book movies that have been released since.
Rating: 10/10 Pairs well with: the other two films in The Dark Knight Trilogy.