Category: Comics

Capes and superpowers, grit and cultural shifts…

Marvel: That Extra Limb… Where did it all go wrong for the Amazing Spider-Man?

What went wrong with the Amazing Spiderman?

What went wrong with the Amazing Spiderman?

Was it the adjective? A bit over the top? It worked on paper…

With a not inconsiderable haul of over $1 billion across two films, another of Spider-Man’s cinematic personas bit the dust earlier this year, without even getting in Kraven the Hunter’s sights … And it was all going so well, wasn’t it?

On the day Hollywood lost the great James Horner, composer of first film’s sublime score, it also gained a new Spider-Man in Tom Holland. So, just what happened to that famous spidey-sense? First, building up the Amazing Spider-Man.

NOT RENOWNED FOR HIS RETICENCE, SPIDER-MAN HAD LITTLE SAY IN THE MATTER AS INTANGIBLE CLOUDS FORMED ROUND HIM THAT HE COULDN’T PUNCH OR CATAPULT. Sony’s well publicised struggles combined with box office below the Sam Raimi Spidey films of last decade cast the web slinger in a colder light than ever before. Along with Fox’s X-Men and Fantastic Four, he was isolated against the growing dominance of the Disney run Marvel Cinematic Universe. In the year The Amazing Spider-Man (TAS) debuted the brand new Spider-Man, The Avengers ended Marvels’ Phase One and elevated the series to billion dollar blockbusters. It was a whole different universe to the one Raimi’s Spider-Man emerged to 10 years before. So, it was all the bolder that Sony attempted such a rapid re-origin.

Origin Issues

Cause for disappointment in what could be otherwise considered a major success.

There wasn’t really a precedent for a reboot of that speed, not with those figures involved, so the industry couldn’t help but squint a little. Batman Begins came closest in 2005, bringing a legitimate reboot to the Bat for the first time in 16 years. But then, Batman had two huge advantages: it came three years before Marvel’s plans kicked into gear and; the Dark Knight’s origins had never been fully explored on screen. Still, as subdued as that first film’s $374 million was, its two sequels more than evenly matched the Marvel machine. In comparison, TAS took $750 million, a clear $70 million less than the first of Raimi’s trilogy a decade before. That was cause for disappointment in what could be otherwise considered a major success. In part, it was unlucky too surface at the same time as The Dark Knight trilogy concluded with just over a billion dollars – and become the second best film about New York that summer.

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Batman at 75: The Joker – Anonymous Clown

The Joker from his first appearance

The Joker from his first appearance

The man who laughs, the man without an origin, the man with hundreds of origins. The final part of the Batman at 75 articles can’t look at anyone else but the Clown Prince of Crime and try to touch on his roots…

THIS FINAL BIRTHDAY POST FOR BATS MAY BE A LITTLE LATE…. BUT THAT DOESN’T MEAN IT ISN’T PERFECT. WHILE LAST YEAR WAS BATMAN’S ANNIVERSARY, THIS YEAR IS THE JOKER’S 75TH BIRTHDAY.

Yes, the Joker. The Harlequin of Hate. The Clown Prince of Crime. The villain with a hundred nicknames. And quite possibly the greatest fictional nemesis ever devised. He’s a villain, though not one restricted by his matching hero. He’s famous in his own right, a symbol and a sign, a definite statement of something… So, it’s a welcome luxury that the Joker has surpassed mere origins for his 75 years of existence. When it comes to his nocturnal and ultimate foe, retcons may alter facets of his origin story – the role his butler took or perhaps the ‘rediscovery’ childhood friends – but up to the bat and the window he’s very much defined by the strict facts of his origin. The Joker isn’t. The Harlequin of Hate is Batman’s opposite after all, despite classic stories that have drawn out the similarities as much as those polar difference.

And of those stories, some of the greatest stored in the Bat Computer have given, or at least hinted at origins for the laughing rogue. But one was never afraid to contradict another, or pick and embellish them as they wanted. It’s absolute freedom (within editorial reason); it’s continuity chaos.

Off page it’s a similar story. Various influences have been cited as an influence by a number of comic legends, including the father of the Dark Knight Bob Kane.  Add to that the vast number who have filled in to expand and explore it since. Of course, as this is the Joker we’re talking about nothing’s straightforward. And just like his villain’s own autobiography, neither any writer’s attempt nor Jokerside’s dip into the acid can be exhaustive.

So dotting through the life, times and media of the Clown, here are some select glances at Joker’s many zero years. Of course, the joke’s on everyone. For a character all about obscurity he sure has a lot of people trying to redefine him. And for every fact you think you learn, by the end you find that he hasn’t given a quarter. No matter how many times he seems to come last.

1940 – Cold-blooded murderer

“The Joker has spoken!”

Last September, Jokerside’s hot off the press review of Batman #1 caught the arrival of the villain who was to quickly rise above the greatest rogues’ gallery in comicdom:

“First and foremost is the debut of that deadly clown, a grim jester known only as the Joker whose statement of intent is immediately made clear when he makes a sinister ‘return’ before the book is even done.” Continue reading “Batman at 75: The Joker – Anonymous Clown”

Batman at 75: The Ultimate Festive Favourite – Batman Returns

The Penguin - Batman's Santa Claus

The Penguin - Batman's Santa Claus

 

From a comic universe ice-packed with cold foes, and a franchise often shovelling snow and ice, Batman Returns sits at the top of the tree as the most festive of the Batman films. One of Tim Burton’s finest hours, and the one that pissed off McDonalds.

BATMAN RETURNS PUTS ANOTHER TYPE OF BIRD INTO THE CHRISTMAS STUFFING MIX.  THE “YULETIDE CONTEXT” AS CHRISTOPHER WALKEN’S MAX SHRECK CALLS IT, IS UNAVOIDABLE IN A FILM WITH MANY A CHRISTMAS TREE POPPING UP, BUT IT’S HARDLY AN OVERRIDING MESSAGE.  The Penguin may have been born on Christmas Day (unconfirmed, but he’s certainly a Capricorn), he may be ascending at the meaningful age of 33, but most of the Biblical strands woven through Returns are stridently Old Testament.  The Book of Exodus is the most prominent.  The Penguins origin echoes Moses’ – exchanging cyperaceae for sphenisciformes – And it’s the feathery fiend who later enacts his own variation of the Plague of the Firstborn in vengeance.

Packed alongside are more Christmas elements than you could shake a cute umbrella at.  There are the pantomime villains, Dickensian grotesques (much to Alfred’s constant disdain) and even a morally flawed business man with the shock of white hair who obviously has little time for festivities beyond his annual Maxquerade ball. “Hard and sharp as flint” especially when protesting that he’s no monster. There’s also time for the type of remote controlled car that the Penguin might place under your tree (“I don’t like surprises”) and the anthropomorphic animals that still grace many a Disney film. And then there’s the omnipresent snow. Amid a high murder rate and constant explosions, there’s perpetual snow.

All of these elements and more combine to create an irresistibly stylised fairy tale tone and picture that could comfortably, and lazily, be termed Burtonesque. Even 22 years later.
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Constantine: The Original Sins of Adaptation

John Constantine on screen

 

Vanquisher of demons, careless of friends, it’s the irresistible pull of film and television that’s posed John Constantine’s biggest challenge. Three episodes into his televisions series, a look at the celluloid past, present and future.

CONSTANTINE. JOHN CONSTANTINE. IT’S BEEN WELL DOCUMENTED ON JOKERSIDE THAT HE’S ONE OF THE GREATEST FICTIONAL CREATIONS OF THE 20TH CENTURY. FACT. Inspired by Sting, hailing from Liverpool. So compelling, so real, that he appeared to his creator twice, seized the crown as Vertigo comic’s greatest son before making a fully formed attack on the House of Batman and Superman…

As he nears his 30th birthday, Constantine’s profile is stronger than ever. Now a cornerstone of the main DC Comic universe, he’s a major reason that Justice League Dark is one of the publisher’s New 52 revelations, let alone his own title Constantine. Hellblazer was the cost, an incredible 300 issue run over 25 years, from an incredible roster of writers. But while the age-rating may have dropped as he literally hit the mainstream, that’s surely an indication that it’s time he made a successful leap to new media. Like uttering a spell with a demon’s fingers around your neck: Easier said than done. He’s already been there before of course. And now, following the moderately successful 2005 film, could the mage’s brightest future lie with the NBC’s new Constantine series or Guillermo del Toro’s long gestating Justice League Dark adaptation?

Hellblazer stakes a claim

Director Francis Lawrence is currently enjoying the glow of ending the Hunger Games saga on the big screen. But in 2005, following a string of high-profile music videos, his film debut was the much anticipated adaptation of Constantine’s comic adventures. And who was that Constantine?  Well to quote Jokerside, “John Constantine, the Liverpudlian wizard, working class chain smoker and all round sarcastic bastard”.

Continue reading “Constantine: The Original Sins of Adaptation”

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