Rocksteady Games and Warner Bros. Games, in their Batman Arkham series, have taken iconic characters and translated them into a rich, playable universe. Drawing on the graphic novels The Killing Joke and Arkham Asylum, the game designers took a snapshot of the long-standing and multifaceted characters as inspiration for their in-game traits and stories.
Yet this framing of the characters in dated stories leaves something to be desired. Specifically, the presentation of desire.
The world’s greatest detective is anti-intellectual.
The world of Batman celebrates technology. Batman constantly relies on ingenious gadgets, computer algorithms, and tools to scan scenes, track criminals, and solve mysteries. The presence of Bat-gadgetry is one of the more frequently lampooned aspects of the franchise. Yet, his appreciation of scientific advancement is purely applied. Characters like Oracle and Mr. Fox make improvements and refinements, but they are not scientists. Their dedication is to Batman’s cause, not to the pursuit of knowledge.
Despite the actor playing the role or the upgrades to his suit, we always recognize any version of Batman. The supervillains, too, are clearly identifiable by their appearance. But what about Gotham City? Gotham has become a recognizable staple of the Batman franchise. It is what made Bruce into Batman and what is known as the comfortable stomping grounds for all of Batman’s foes. But each creator’s version of Gotham is so different from the others. Do we recognize the city simply because it contains the Bat? Or are there other features that remain consistent? Gotham’s skyline is certainly recognizable when it features the bat signal. Beyond that, though, Gotham has been visually depicted in so many different ways that the cityscape always is unique, even though each version maintains a geography suitable to Batman and the supervillains. Because Gotham is often depicted as dark, tall, and labyrinthine, evil may lurk in any corner. And the average man cannot navigate the city as successfully as Batman. His technology and resources equip him with the means to scale any building or negotiate any sewer system. Gotham City may be defined, then, as a space that always embodies the struggle between good and evil. Even though Batman may be triumphant, since supervillains always threaten the city, there is never any permanent relief. Batman tries to give hope to a city under constant threat, but Gotham will never be free from danger. Gotham is Gotham because it is perpetually at risk of complete devastation. So, perhaps Gotham may be recognizable as a space for the villain/hero cycle of activity. We can always count on Batman to save his city but must accept that this is temporary, as a new villain will be arriving soon.
For the past seventy-five years, comic book fans have come to know and love the Batman. Since his introduction in Detective Comics #27 in 1939, the lore of the Caped Crusader has grown into a full legend, a mythos so vast and generation-spanning that even going on a century later, he's one of the most popular characters to exist in mainstream culture. With dozens of films (including animated titles), several series, and his place in the holy triumvirate of the Justice League, Batman is as ingrained in pop culture as anyone which begs the question: What about the man behind the mask, Bruce Wayne?
Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.
It was 50 years ago today in a voice-over in the opening credits of Star Trek that Captain James T. Kirk of the USS Enterprise introduced audiences to the captain’s mission. The series had a rocky start: creator Gene Roddenberry's original pilot, “The Cage” (filmed in 1964), was turned down, but surprisingly, a second pilot was requested, “Where No Man Has Gone Before.” It was produced in 1965 and featured an all-new cast, except Leonard Nimoy, who was the only returning cast member from the original pilot. Interestingly, it was “The Man Trap” that premiered on September 8, 1966, with the famous voice-over narrative that has become one of the most recognizable popular culture phrases.
Star Trek: Voyager was groundbreaking in ways unimaginable. A few months ago, I binged a few episodes at the subliminal encouragement of one of my best friends and fell in love. The sass, the turbolift lizards, the First Officer face tattoos, did I mention the sass? With a female at the helm and smarts abounding, the science and humanity of the show, as well as exceptional acting on all fronts, made me a fan of this seriously underrated series. How does one show respect to such an esteemed show? Throw a party, of course.
There’s a great moment in Blazing Saddles that a lot of people will miss if they aren’t careful. One of my all-time favorite comedy scenes is the closing stretch of that film, as the big fight in Rock Ridge spills off the set and invades other stages and locations on the Warner Bros. backlot (“You’ll be surprised you're doing the French Mistake, Voila!”) It’s a brilliant sequence of comic anarchy, culminating with Bart and The Waco Kid gunning down Hedley Lamarr in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theater. It’s meta before meta was invented.
The little, round eye faded to black, and the familiar chirps and beeps went silent as the Star Wars franchise mourned the passing of one of their family members; Kenny Baker, who donned the R2-D2 robotic shell for the first six episodic films, passed away on Saturday, August 13, 2016. Warwick Davis, who acted alongside Baker in Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi and Labyrinth, tweeted, “Sad to say goodbye to a small man with a huge heart and personality. He paved the way for short actors for a generation.”
It’s been a rumor for quite some time, but it was finally made official this past weekend at Comic-Con: The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney California Adventure will close this winter and be re-themed as a ride based on Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. The ride will close in January and then re-open next summer, in time to capitalize on the release of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 in May. Because Marvel signed a licensing deal with Universal Orlando prior to being purchased by Disney in 2009, Disney can’t use the Marvel characters in its east coast theme parks; however, Disney (who paid $4 billion for them) has been working to prominently feature the Marvel characters in the west coast theme parks, and the rebranding of the Tower of Terror is the first step in adding more rides and attractions in California that are based on Marvel's House of Ideas.
You’ve likely heard of the little phenomenon that is Pokemon GO by now. (I’m going with Pokenomenon.) Whether you’re out walking to catch just one more Clefairy before heading back home or just amazed by the amount of people walking about parks, it’s unlikely that you’ve missed this unprecedented moment in gaming and social media history.