I’ve talked a lot about comic book properties, whether they’re DC, Marvel or something else entirely. What I have never done however is discussed the comic books themselves. Over the years I’ve read so many comic books and compiling a list of my favourites was hard. Whilst I have always been more inclined to DC with regards to the comics (and television, and pretty much anything that AREN’T films) there are equally good and iconic stories from Marvel. I need to read more from outside the Big Two and am working on it but for now, here are a list of my favourites. I’m not ranking them but will specify favourites from certain companies or characters. With that said, let’s get going-
The Dark Knight Returns
Before Frank Miller went mad he wrote some of the best and most acclaimed comic book stories of all time. 1986 was a landmark year for comic books, in part due to Miller’s defining work on Batman, The Dark Knight Returns. Picturing a post-apocalyptic version of Gotham, where Superman is used as a weapon for the military, an ageing Batman goes out of retirement to bring back law to what has become a lawless city. This story needs no introduction- it’s arguably the most well regarded story in Batman’s mythology. The old Bruce Wayne is a fascinating character, trying to escape his past but also trying to uphold the legend of the Dark Knight. Carrie Kelly is my favourite Robin, the commentary on the Cold War and American media is on point and still relevant today and the final battle is iconic and timeless. Packed with powerful imagery and themes, this comic is a must read for any DC fan.
It’s beginning to get quite difficult to track down how many streaming services are flying about, but one, HBO Max, is finally getting my attention due to an announcement made today. JJ Abrams will be bringing the Justice League Dark to life. This DC comic book team is my favourite comic book team. Forget the Avengers, X-Men and who needs that “proper” Justice League when we have a team of occult sorcerers, demons, ghosts and all manner of weird characters from obscure corners of DC Comics?
It’s Bonfire Night so fine, let’s do this, let’s talk about the only good Bonfire Night related media that exists. First published in 1982, Alan Moore and David Lloyd’s seminal comic book V For Vendetta depicts a totalitarian Britain run by the sinister Norsefire. A teenage girl named Evey is roped into working for a mysterious masked vigilante simply known as V, who wears a Guy Fawkes mask and plans to overthrow the government, planning to blow up the Houses of Parliament on the 5th of November. But is V right? Is he a lone figure battling fascism? Does he have good intentions with bad methods? Or is he simply insane? These questions, and more, form the basis of the story.
OK, before we do anything, let’s discuss the elephant in the room- Todd Phillips’ Joker film has had quite possibly the most ridiculous and stupid controversies, nonsense and general negativity attached to it. As a result, I’m probably not going to watch the film this weekend, instead I’ll be waiting until the student cinema at my university shows it so discussing the film will be a lot easier to discuss without a lot of the baggage attached (also it’ll be free for me if I volunteer so…). BUT, I’m still doing this post because a few stupid people on the Internet isn’t going to stop me from discussing one of the greatest villains in all of fiction and the various actors who have portrayed him. So let’s get going.
Let’s talk about Disney. I’ve never, ever, ever, liked them. As a company that is. The stuff they pinch and slap their name on I love. I love Marvel (not theirs to begin with though), Star Wars (also not theirs), Pixar (again, not theirs) and several other franchises they “make” and/or steal. But as a company, I heavily dislike them. As a child this dislike came from simply finding their animated films dull and uninteresting, but as I’ve grown older I’ve found this dislike to be deeper than just finding the musical animated films to be the epitome of cringe (barring The Nightmare Before Christmas of course). As a company, Disney are legitimately terrifying, as their devouring of Fox shows. No, I’m not going to call any Fox film a Disney film. They’re Fox films. And with the release of their streaming service Disney+ coming soon Disney seems like they want to monopolise entertainment as a whole. And that’s… not good. Let’s dive into why Disney’s control over entertainment is really, really, really, really bad.
Hear me out, hear me out. I don’t have a problem with a female Thor for those reasons. I’ve had this issue for years but with the recent news at San Diego Comic Con it’s time to finally address it. Marvel Studios announced their Phase 4 plans and I’m very very excited. Marhershala Ali as Blade? Yes. The Eternals coming to the big screen? Yes yes yes. A Black Widow film with David Harbour involved? Perfect. And whilst I am very excited to see Thor 4 (or Thor: Love and Thunder, which is a bit silly even by Waititi standards) one piece of news has left me apprehensive. Natalie Portman is set to return as Jane Foster and take on the role of Thor, just like her character in the comics. But here’s my problem- Thor. Is. A. Character. Not. A. Title.
July will be Ben’s Month of Reviews. Whilst I am currently on holiday (in York en route to Edinburgh to be precise), thanks to the magic of the Internet I am still able to write a whole bunch of reviews for recent fandom properties I’ve seen recently. First up, the latest Marvel Cinematic Universe film, Spider-Man: Far From Home, the second solo Tom Holland film and a film that features the big screen debut of one of Marvel’s coolest villains, Mysterio. How does it stack up? One of the best sequel’s Marvel’s ever done.
It’s been a few months since the Infinity Saga came to an end with Endgame. Whilst it isn’t the end of Marvel Studios, it is the end of what we know so far and the film has set up lots of exciting possible futures for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With the Fox acquisition and other heroes being established, I’m going to guess where Marvel may take their universe now that the primary heroes are dead. And with Far From Home just around the corner, let’s look to the future of Marvel. Unlike my Endgame review this will be spoiler filled as I think enough time has passed now for everyone to have seen Endgame. With that said, let’s look to the future. For this list, I will be looking at properties that either already exist in the MCU or have been announced/heavily speculated to happen-
The Dark Knight has been around for over 80 years and many great actors have worn the cape and cowl. Today saw a new Batman potentially be announced- Robert Pattinson. Whilst the Internet has of course been moaning and whinging, a look back at all the main actors to don the mantle proves that left field, unconventional choices often result in great results. Nobody thought Heath Ledger could play a good Joker. Nobody thought an unknown Australian could become Wolverine. No one thought Beetlejuice could be Batman. But the fan community has been proven wrong time and time again and just because Robert Pattinson was in that franchise doesn’t mean he doesn’t deserve a shot at DC. I haven’t seen anything he’s in outside of Goblet of Fire (you will never, ever, ever catch me watching one of those films. Ever) but a brief look at his filmography proves his capability as an actor. If he gets the role, I’ll be up for it. As long as the writing is strong I know we’ll get a great Batman. With that said, let’s look at the other iterations of Batman, in an article I have been waiting ages to write. For this article, I’m only going to discuss the six “main” actors who have played Batman. These are actors who have either played the Caped Crusader in multiple films or have been linked to the franchise in other ways through television or video games. With this criteria, I count six, soon to be seven actors who are considered to be the “primary” Batmen. Let’s start with the legendary-
I didn’t just watch that film (you know the one) this month. I made good use of my Easter holiday to check out some famous, and not so famous, films.
The Silence of the Lambs
Had I seen it before? No.
How did I watch it? Netflix
Famous for being the only horror film to ever win Best Picture, The Silence of the Lambs is an iconic film for so many reasons, chiefly the spine-tingling performance of Anthony Hopkins as the immortal Hannibal Lecter. And no, I will not say he is the lead actor, he is a supporting actor. A well deserved Oscar in the wrong category. The lead character is Jodie Foster’s Clarice Starling, an phenomenal film hero who stands up to the most disturbed minds on the planet and still survives. The film is a masterpiece of pacing, writing,acting and directing and nearly thirty years on it still has such a strong impact and effect. The film is primarily a psychological battle of wits between Lecter and Starling, with the two trying to one-up each other at every turn, resulting in riveting viewing. Even though I know a lot of the twists and turns the film still gripped me, which is a credit to the talents of Jonathan Demme. His use of close ups and shot composition have gone down in film history and he masterfully directs the extended sequences of Lecter and Starling talking to each other to create some of the most intense dialogue scenes of all time. This film deserves every award it ever got and more. It’s truly spectacular.