Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Superhero Media: The Umbrella Academy - Season 1

Back when I first started to get seriously into comics, a friend loaned me the first volume of The Umbrella Academy, along with some other stuff, but I couldn't get into it and never bothered coming back for another look. When The Umbrella Academy Netflix programme started to get good reviews, I decided it couldn't hurt to give it a go, and was pretty pleased with the end result. Much of the driving narrative of The Umbrella Academy is around the family dynamic and the pressures that forced them apart years ago, with the more [super]heroic elements coming later as the situation escalates. Our story begins in October 1989, when 43 women around the world give birth at the same time, not that unusual, except that none of the women were pregnant at the start of the day. Eccentric adventurer, Reginald Hargreeves, adopts seven of these children and forms six of them into a super-team, the Umbrella Academy. Seventeen years later, Reginald dies mysteriously and the scattered, now-adult Academy come back together for the first time.


Much of the first season of The Umbrella Academy revolves around the mystery of Reginald's death and the return of 'Number 5', a family member able to travel through time and space, who has been lost in the post-apocalyptic future for decades, but returns in his younger body. The Academy has drifted apart and formed their own lives, but must come back together to combat the end of the world. I'll admit that it took about half of the season for me to really get engaged with the programme, because the characters have to grow and get over their own issues before they can come together and be heroes again. For a superhero programme, The Umbrella Academy is a little light on the action, but when it does ramp up, the fight scenes are pretty excellent, having a more visceral quality akin to Netflix Daredevil, but the alt-pop heavy soundtrack adds some levity to the proceedings. The pathos can be a bit heavy at times, but some clever casting and good character moments make the programme very engaging. 


Whilst I'm never the kind of person to insist that something is worth watching, but then withhold reasons for fear of "spoilers", I am somewhat inclined that way with The Umbrella Academy; there are some twists and reversals that would be better experienced without warning. That said, the programme is more 'adult' (in real emotional terms, rather than just sex and violence) than most superhero fare, with characters like Klaus and Diego having to undertake devastating personal journeys that change who they are to their cores. As I said above, The Umbrella Academy starts slow, but when it has built to a good level of engagement, it becomes something great. I'm glad that a second season was made, as I want to see where this series goes and what happens to the characters and the narrative now that all of the set-up is done and there are essentially no limits on what can happen. Well worth the watch if you haven't given it a go yet. 

Friday, May 7, 2021

The Pitch: The DC Space Quartet

This one's a little bit different, rather than pitching a specific film, this one's about a few ideas I've had knocking around my head for a little while. For the most part, I continue to be disappointed with the direction of the love-action DC/WB films, even though I actually kind of enjoyed Aquaman and SHAZAM! was genuinely great. Going back and watching more of the DCAU stuff, the feeling that I'm getting is that WB have been neglecting the character of their, well, characters. The Bruce Timm Justice League cartoon series have plenty of room to breathe, and watching it, I really get a good feel for what the characters are like as people. That's the strength of the Marvel films, I can tell you who every character is without having to talk about their powers to identify them, just look; 

Earnest, guilt-driven, wunderkind seeking a father figure
Compassionate, heroic and loyal man out of time 
Shockingly well-rounded, yet acidic, Muppet 

And you can do the same with the DCAU versions of the Justice League, because they're treated as characters rather than icons or archetypes. I know the typical approach to the DC heroes is to treat them as, forgive the pun, "New Gods", but some of the best stories actually don't do this. 52 focuses on Renee Montoya's grief, Booster Gold's feelings of inferiority and Black Adam's attempt to be more human, and it's one of the best series DC has ever done. 
So my idea for WB to break back into the superhero film market as a force to be reckoned with is for them to focus on characters; building interesting characters, making single films about them, then moving on. Build trust in the brand before attempting another Batman or Superman film that no one's really interested in seeing because of how poor the last few were. The great thing about DC comics is that they have so many damn characters to choose from and there's so much potential for great cinema in there. Four films, not linked more than tangentially, with one big nerd drawcard to get that big box office and at least break even. 

Mister Miracle


Beer Mat Pitch:
Mister Miracle and Big Barda have grown up on Apokolips being abused, degraded and trained to kill. The pair fall in love and plan their escape, having to best the Female Furies and break free of the influence of Granny Goodness. Darkseid has a cameo and the New Gods mythos gets introduced briefly, but it's mostly Escape from Alcatraz meets Flash Gordon

The Drawcard: Betty White plays Granny Goodness. The other actors need to be decent and a lot will hinge on the design department, but a lot of people will turn up to see Betty White torture and beat children in a major Hollywood release. 

Connections: As the first in the "Quartet", Mister Miracle will not have a great deal of connection to the other films (which don't yet exist), but there is room for some fun references to the broader DC universe. Darkseid should appear, but not be a major character and Highfather et al. need to be mentioned, but perhaps a line about the Green Lantern corps or Guardians of the Universe? We'll be coming back to this well though, so keep the New Gods in mind.


Lobo


I know that WB has a Lobo film "in development", but it's been "in development" since the late 1990s, so let's be adults and realise that it's never going to come out. 

Beer Mat Pitch: A mysterious figure hires legendary bounty hunter Lobo to track down Devilance the Pursuer, a renegade from Apokolips who has been attacking and killing Green Lanterns. Lobo travels across the DC universe, briefly encountering people and places like Rand, Daxam, less famous Lanterns and maybe even Mongul. Lobo fights a bunch of guys, maybe the film is rated R and then captures Devilance at the close of the 2nd act. The shadowy figure from the first act turns out to be Lady Styx (or someone in her employ) and there's one more big fight to round out the film. 

The Drawcard: Danny Trejo plays Lobo. Yeah, he's getting on a bit, but "Machete in Space" would get butts in seats and (technically) give us a Latino superhero in a major film. As mentioned above, maybe make it an R film? I'm not sold on the idea that more blood and swearing makes for a better film, but if you don't the fanboys will complain. 

Connections: As Lobo will spend most of the film running around space, there will be plenty of opportunities for cameos and references. Maybe Tomar Re or Kilowog are also tracking Devilance? We should see Rand at some point though, as well as a scene where Lobo talks to Mister Miracle and Big Barda about Apokolips.


Adam Strange


Beer Mat Pitch:
Adam Strange is a lonely scientist with dreams of adventure when he is unexpectedly transported to the distant planet of Rand. On Rand, Strange finds that he has increased strength and agility and is far braver than the timid Randians. Strange starts to defend the planet from a series of "threats" that he can easily overcome thanks to his scientific knowledge and the people begin to worship him. Word gets out and soon Lobo turns up to collect on the bounty now on Strange's head and Strange has an actual fight on his hands for the first time. Forced into a corner, Strange finds his inner strength, overcomes Lobo with the help of the Randians, revealing his deception. The Randians forgive Strange for his actions and ask him to remain their hero. 

The Drawcard: Nathan Fillion is Adam Strange. Ok, so I'm about to make some enemies here, but give me a minute of your time. Fillion is not a good actor. No, really. He's a *competent* actor, especially in the pulpy television programmes he tends to be cast in, but he has never had a Hollywood career because he can't carry a full film, as Serenity demonstrated. I'll admit, I don't care for either Castle or Firefly, but Fillion has not had a stellar career, even if considered generously. What Fillion does well, is play people that you like in spite of yourself, and that's what the role needs. Adam Strange is a bit of a prick when you get down to it, and Fillion would be good in this kind of part. 

Connections: As well as the fight with Lobo, it would be cool for Strange to name-drop other DC heroes from Earth, like Superman and so on. We don't see any other heroes, but if they do exist in this setting, they would be obvious points of comparison for Strange.


Space Ghost


Yeah, if you didn't know, Space Ghost is now owned by WB and is canonical in the DC universe, pretty cool, huh? 

Beer Mat Pitch: This film will be a meta-textual examination of nostalgia, comic continuity, the history of superhero cinema and fanboy culture. Not even kidding. While investigating a mysterious portal in space, Space Ghost is sucked into the "Paradise Dimension" where he is met by Alex Luthor. Alex becomes Space Ghost's guide through the multiverse, touching on the original Hanna-Barbera programme, Coast-to-Coast, the Donner Superman films, the Fleischer cartoon, Bruce Timm DCAU, Adam West Batman, Teen Titans cartoons, the Nolan films, Michael Keaton, the Snyder DCU, Comicon and internet comics communities. Space Ghost tries to rationalise what he is seeing, but eventually accepts that every universe [incarnation] has it's own merits and flaws and travels home. 

The Drawcard: The film is kind of just batshit insane and the trailer will need to reflect this. The vibe will be Mystery Science Theater 3000, but with DC multimedia and Space Ghost and Alex Luthor as the hosts. Clips of all of these films and television programmes, as well as specifically-written crossover segments (I can see Kevin Conroy and Ben Affleck being up for this) will attract not only a fanboy audience, but also regular film-goers who want to see what the fuck is going on. 

Connections: As mentioned above, get Kevin Conroy in a do an animated segment where Space Ghost meets Batman, then a live-action one where he meets Batfleck. Have him meet Mister Miracle, Lobo and Adam Strange. Do a insert shot of Space Ghost flying alongside Christopher Reeve. This is a love-letter and deconstruction of the DC multimedia brands, so anything goes, throw it at the wall and see if it sticks.


Well there we go, those are my outsider pitches for the DC film series. Each is intended as a standalone picture, rather than part of an ongoing series, but it does leave room to do more if needs be. Hope you enjoyed it, and let's all hope that the next lot of DC films are better than the last lot. 

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Superhero Media: Batman - Bad Blood

Following on in the "New 52" animated Batman film series (of which I've reviewed a few) Bad Blood is something of a mess, trying to do far too much world-building for the DCU without really telling a compelling story. Now, I haven't read much New 52 Batman, so maybe I'm missing some context, but there's a lot going on here that really failed to excite me? First of all, Batwoman uses guns now? I know that she's a former Marine Cadet, but if she's inspired by Batman, the guns are an odd choice; I found the character through 52, where she's already in full "no guns" Batman-mode, so this was a little jarring. Though it is good to see Kate in a film and getting to be Batwoman in the end without Bruce having to approve of her. The main narrative involves the League of Shadows attempting to steal a Wayne Industries space station (set to become the JLA Watchtower) so that they can broadcast a mind-control signal with help from Mad Hatter and Hugo Strange. All-in that's not a bad plot, but everything around it is just kind of silly. 


To achieve their ends, the League of Shadows are using adult clones of Damien Wayne who have been hypnotized into greater obedience. Why not use their army of ninja, or the many supervillains working for them? Who knows? But the Damien clone is gone by halfway through the film, because the League has captured Batman and will just hypnotize him to do their dirty work. To investigate, Dick Grayson puts on the mantle of the Bat and is joined by Damien Wayne, Batwoman and, later, Batwing, the son of Lucius Fox in a stolen Batman jetpack suit prototype. Because apparently the Bat Family isn't big enough already. There are a couple of decent fights and a raid on a Cloister that has Nightwing and Batwoman fighting nuns with Samurai swords and M60s (which I may have to run as a scenario if I can find the models), but overall Bad Blood fails to engage when needed. 



I really have no idea what the Batman writers are doing if this is the kind of story they keep coming back to, like, is there that much money in the edgelord fanboy demographic that the comics can just keep going on like this? Batman being the be-all and end-all of the DCU is tiresome and silly, especially when members of his own team are more compelling characters. I know I'm a broken record on this, but the more grounded Batman of The Animated Series or the Adam West programme are more interesting to watch and read, because they are human, not simply a power fantasy. I'm having the same problem with the Batman Miniatures Game right now, with a group of people trying to get me to play and me just so damn tired of egdelord Batman and company. I need to take a break from Batman, not that I'll get it. 

Friday, April 30, 2021

Miniatures Finished: Skrull Heroes

As regular readers of this blog will know, I have something of a love of Skrulls. I keep having to tell myself that I'm not building a Skrull army, I just happen to be collecting, painting and organising them into squads for no particular reason. Along those lines, here are some Heroclix I've repainted.


Skull incarnations of Jarvis and Captain Marvel.

 Spider-Woman, Elektra and Miss Marvel Skrulls are less shiny in real life. 

Given that Skrull clix are really cheap and there are so many permutations, I've also been working on some head-swaps to have more Skrull heroes and infiltrators. A Skrulltastic Four are planned as well as some Secret Invasion Super Skrulls. I can stop any time I want, really. 

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Superhero Media: Blade II

Before I get too much into this film, I kind of have to do a bit more waffling about how the Blade series relates to Vampire: The Masquerade, especially the Bloodpack, a team of Vampire special forces soldiers trained to take out Blade. The comparison to a VtM "Archon" Coterie is pretty hard to ignore, to the point where I can identify which Clan each character belongs to; watch me nerd, nerds. Asad (Danny John-Jules) is a Camarilla (Ivory Tower) Assamite. Chupa, the guy in the chain shirt, is a Ganrel (hairy, more obvious fangs and anachronistic gear). Lighthammer (carries a big hammer) is probably a Brujha, what with his incredible strength. Priest (bad hair and sunglasses) is clearly a Ventrue because of his rant about "Purebloods", plus his arrogance gets him killed. Reinhardt (Hellboy) is likely another Brujha, because his anger gets him killed and he seems to be using the Presence ability "Awe" in a couple of scenes. Snowman (did you realise that this is Donnie Yen? I sure didn't!) is Toreador whose "art" is all about traditional swordplay. Verlaine (readhead) is likely another Brujha due to her relationship with Lighthammer, but because of that relationship, I get an Anarch vibe from them. Rant over, back to the review.


Following on several years from the previous film, Blade is in Prague, looking for Whistler and hunting vampires with the help of the less coherent brother from Boondock Saints. Shortly after rescuing the best character in the franchise, the team are confronted by the Bloodpack and asked to help find Nomak, a recently-discovered "Super-Vampire" who feeds only on other Vampires. Blade teams up with the Bloodpack, an "enemy of my enemy" situation, and they take on a pack of Super-Vampires that attack a Vampire nightclub. After losing several team members, they discover that silver and garlic have no effect and they have to resort to sunlight (in the form of UV torches), which makes the Vampires not terribly happy. Whistler is acting strange, the Boondock Saint doesn't trust him and everyone is seconds away from killing each other, but after a nasty autopsy scene, they realise the Super-Vampires are capable of reproducing exponentially and will overwhelm the planet within a year. 


Turns out Boondock Saint is the traitor and that Blade and Whistler have been playing everyone. Nomak was created by the Vampire Nation as an attempt to duplicate Blade, then Blade drinks some blood and wins the day by killing every Vampire in the place. Where Blade is shockingly grounded and real-looking, Blade II has a lot more style and over-the-top design that goes with a del Toro production. Although they're ridiculous, the Bloodpack have great individual looks, probably being close to how every VtM player pictures their character (though my most successful character wore a polo shirt and khaki slacks). The Blade/Nomak fight is one off my all-time favourite superhero fights, it's brutal, with bones breaking as two super-strong foes beat each other senseless. A bone-crunching moment where Nomak regenerates a broken arm gives me a good cringe every time, and it's followed up with a monster "people's elbow" from the roof.


There are more fantasy elements in Blade II when compared to the original, but it feels like a natural progression, with Blade having defeated a literal god in the conclusion of the original, where else was there to go? If I had to choose, I'd say I prefer Blade II, but the Bloodpack and Whistler arguing with a Boondock Saint are a big selling point of that, rather than an overall 'quality' of any measure. It's fun and I like that it's fun and that's enough sometimes. I do think that the Blade series doesn't get better from here, Blade II was about as far as the concept could really go, even introducing Dracula in Blade Trinity wouldn't work (as we'll see shortly) and it was the only thing left, because folding Blade into a Marvel Shared Universe really wasn't an option at the time. We owe the Blade series a lot, and I think it doesn't get much appreciation, but there is a reason it's been forgotten and is more closely linked with the Underworld series than it is with X-Men or Spider-Man. Bring back Blade for a Marvel Studios MI-13 I say! 

Friday, April 23, 2021

The Pitch: Flash Gordon

When I started this Defenders of the Earth idea, I had now idea just how hard it would be to do even this much, I only had a good concept for Mandrake and Defenders of the Earth, which is part of the reason I actually began with Thunderbolts and Batman; I wasn't dedicating myself to writing four of these out of the gate. If it wasn't for my girlfriend's encyclopedic knowledge of actors, I'd have been sunk ages ago and I really hate giving up on a project once it's started, so here we are. A couple of things that need to be pointed out about my idea for this film, this is not a remake or a sequel to the 1980 film, but it will pay tribute at certain points, one of which will be the use of some of the Queen soundtrack and a couple of actors returning for cameos, but this will all be covered below.


Death to Ming! 

Flash Gordon 
In the distant Mongo planetary system, Sky City is oppressed by the foul Ming the Merciless, it's rightful king, Vultan is imprisoned and the evil computer intelligence, the Octobrain mines the floating island for it's precious Carvorite Ore. As the island dips closer and closer to the acidic sea with the Carvorite being removed, an unexpected trio arrives in an experimental spacecraft, Dale Arden, Hans Zarkov and Flash Gordon! 

Plot 
The film opens with Gordon and co crashing down on an outlying floating island of the Hawkmen planet, being taken prisoner and interrogated for information. In this sequence, they are implanted with translation devices, the basics of Mongo and the surrounding planets are explained and the heroes reveal how they got there. Rather than having Zarkov kidnap Flash and Dale, this adventure beings with Dale reporting on a new experimental spacecraft, with Flash there for the publicity. Mysterious waves from space cause the ship to launch prematurely with Dale, Flash and Zarkov inside. 
In the dungeons of Sky City, our heroes meet Vultan, who has been overthrown by factions within the Hawkmen loyal to Ming and imprisoned. In flashback, Vultan describes the arrival of Octobrain, how his people started falling under it's control and the fall of his government. As Vultan suspected that his people were being brainwashed, he could not fight back to a level where he may hurt his own kind. After his story, our heroes agree to help Vultan wrest back control and a daring escape is enacted. 
On their way to destroy the Octobrain, our heroes encounter Kala and a platoon of Ming's Soldiers, it is through her influence that the Hawkmen have revolted against their rightful King. A battle ensues, Kala is defeated, the Octobrain blasts off for Mongo and Flash, Dale and Zarkov are lauded as heroes. When it's discovered that a Mongo battle fleet is headed to Earth, Vultan agrees to return with Flash and Dale to stop the invasion. 




Tone 
As mentioned above, we're not going for the high camp of the 1980 version, but taking Flash Gordon too seriously would be a big mistake. The film that I keep going back to on this is Captain America - The First Avenger; there's enough pulp action to fit the source material, but with a decent broad appeal. There will ideally be moments of genuine drama among the the action, comedy and high-concept Science Fantasy 

Cast 

I struggled a bit with an idea as to who could play a convincing Flash Gordon, the role is much trickier than many would give it credit for. The character needs to be classically handsome, able to put on Grid Iron player level muscles and deliver inane dialogue whilst being utterly convincing. After seeing a recent entry in my Superhero Media however, I found Aaron Taylor-Johnson.

Yes, he's already been in Kick-Ass, Age of Ultron and Godzilla, but that's because he really does have the looks and acting chops for this kind of role. Taylor-Johnson is probably never going to be a major talent in his own right, but he's made for playing big, all-American heroes, even if he's British.

In most interpretations of Flash Gordon, Dale Arden tends to be heavily a damsel in distress, which kind of doesn't fly too well in this day and age. Still, I think someone who looks the part would be good, especially if the script lets them be more than pretty set-dressing. To keep in the tone of the film, I'm thinking a sassy, girl-Friday type with a withering sneer for all the masculine posturing in the film. Naturally, my mind turned to Anna Kendrik.

I really like Anna Kendrik, I watch everything with her in it I can, including her sketch comedy and the Pitch Perfect films. She's a capable actor with a fantastically sarcastic edge to her and great comedic timing, I can't think of anyone better to be the female lead in a franchise like Flash Gordon.

I mentioned bringing back some actors from the 1980 film, and I mostly had the one man in mind when I wrote that. The man. The Legend. Brian Motherfucking Blessed!

Did you know that Brian Blessed is not a man? He's a machine genetically engineered for shouting! Ok, seriously, if all you know of Blessed is his roles as Prince Vultan in Flash Gordon or the Space King in Doctor Who, go straight to YouTube and watch clips of his King Lear. Blessed is still acting, when not exploring, climbing Everest, saving lives, hunting Yetis and possibly sleeping with wolves; having him return as Vultan would be both a great fan moment, but also a really good cast. I reckon he'd do it too.

Kala works best when she's that unique combination of aloof, dangerous, sexy and absolutely terrifying. When I think of those qualities, one actor comes to mind, Tilda Swinton.

Not much I really add to this one, Swinton is a magnificent actor and brings it to every role she's in. The picture here is from Snowpiercer, a film I didn't enjoy, but which she was brilliant in.

Not wanting to sound like a YouTube animation reviewer, I still have to mention that voice actors, even the greats, never seem to get the credit they deserve. So if we're going to have a big robot computer thing that becomes a recurring villain for the franchise, we may as well use the opportunity to prop up a major talent. A talent like Billy West.

Again, what can I say about this guy that people haven't before? He's the second coming of Mel Blank and deserves praise from more than Futurama fans. Giving him a role as an evil computer instead of a screen actor would hopefully boost his profile and get him more major roles. Other fun options include Seth MacFarlane as the voice, dropping into Ted and Family Guy characters during a malfunction, or Timothy Dalton doing the role.

Crew 
I hinted at it above, but I really think the only director with a demonstrated track record for this kind of film is Joe Johnston.

With Captain America - The First Avenger and The Rocketeer under his belt, Johnston has a history of getting the tone of pulply films and still producing a quality product.

Other Stuff 
I mentioned music above, and here's where we're going to talk about it. Say what you want about the 1980 Flash Gordon, the Queen soundtrack is pretty magnificent. I'm proposing that the Queen tracks are still used, but only sparingly. Do modern orchestral scores for most of the film, drop some of the ambient Queen tracks in the background, but hold off on the main theme. In the big finale fight, Flash will be going up against Kala, he probably has a sword and she has a high-tech whip. As Flash is getting whipped and Kala is berating him for being weak, we hear the bass line from "Flash" slowly building. When Flash stands up to fight back, the song proper starts and the Queen is pumped up for the heroic comeback. That's a musical cue that will get the audience cheering all the way home.


After the credits roll, the camera fades in on an elaborate control panel and a screen showing the planet Earth. A hand in a velvet glove and elaborate rings glides across a series of buttons labelled "Earthquake", "Tornado", "Tidal Wave" etc, before setting over one marked "Hot Hail". An evil laugh fills the air and the screen fades to black. 

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Superhero Media: Batman (1989)

This is my favourite live-action Batman film, hands down, warts and all. I know fans of The Dark Knight will be raging at their keyboards right now, but I already covered that one a while back, so go check it out. Yes, Batman is flawed and more than a little camp, but keep in mind it is this version of Batman that spawned Batman the Animated Series, the very best version of the character. No, I don't care that Batman can't move his neck, he couldn't do that in Batman Begins either. No, I don't care that Jack Nicholson is fat, or that they gave The Joker an origin or any of that nit-pick stuff, Batman is brilliant and transcends just about every complaint you can level at it. Yes, I don't like that Batman kills people or that the Batwing and Batmobile have guns, or that Joker is killed in the climax, but superhero films are still making those kinds of error, so why would I hold it against a film more than 30 years old? Michael Keaton is good as both Bruce Wayne and a Batman who doesn't take himself too seriously and the soundtrack is done by Prince! Sure, you probably only remember the, passable, Danny Elfman theme, but I actually own the soundtrack CD and keep it in my car, it's that good. 


Oh man, I could do an entire "Superhero Media" on the soundtrack and the alternate version of the narrative it presents, but do yourself a favour and at least check out "Batdance"; I honestly think it may be one of Prince's most underappreciated tracks. Anyway, back to the film. Can I say that I don't mind the tying of Jack Napier/Joker into Batman's origins by having him kill Thomas and Martha Wayne? Perhaps it lacks the gravitas of the Red Hood "one bad day can turn anyone into a monster" narrative, but the "You made me" confrontation is brilliant in the climax of the film. Want to talk about the Joker? Ok. How about, instead of telling everyone that he doesn't have a plan while managing a lot of people performing intricate tasks, The Joker is so unpredictable that he gives away free money, makes art and shoots his 2IC for no real reason. I'm not saying that one portrayal is "better" than the other, merely that I really enjoy this version of The Joker, with its near-perfect blend of camp and sinister. Keaton is a solid Batman, and probably the best Bruce Wayne since Adam West, acting like a member of the idle rich more so than a 1%er d-bag with too much money. This Bruce Wayne throws fundraisers, donates to charity and doesn't go in for drinking and gambling just because he can. Class act. 


As Batman, Keaton delivers a competent and intimidating presence, but keeps close to his comic book roots by cracking jokes and tripping enemies up, rather than brooding and breaking bones. We all know where this series ended up, but I still find Batman a great watch and a film I keep going back to. Yes, it's flawed and somewhat dated (Batman uses Betamax tapes in the Batcave), but there is a genuine charm that draws me in every time, even beyond the Prince soundtrack and brilliant Joker one-liners. In a world where Batman is still composed of equal parts Arkham Knight and The Dark Knight, this version of the character is actually refreshing, with his genuine humor and more stable mental state, fighting crime out of obligation, rather than compulsion borne from trauma. Much as with the Adam West and Bruce Timm incarnations of the character, I feel like the new live action films, as well as the comics, could really learn a lot from this kind of approach. And these reasons, plus a few more I didn't have the space to get into, is why Batman is my favourite Batman live-action film.