WHY SO SERIOUS: WARNER BROS. REPORTEDLY ORDERS ‘NO JOKES’ IN NEW DC COMICS MOVIES
Comics fans have become well acquainted with the notion that sometimes, creative people learn the wrong things from successes. It’s why certain comics have been dominated for going on 30 years by a “dark” and “mature” sensibility that often comes off as grim, self-serious and overcooked.
Well, get ready for that way of thinking to make its way to movie theaters very soon. According to a report at Hitfix, Warner Bros. has a strict rule for its upcoming DC Comics movies: “No jokes.”
What’s particularly surprising is that the rule — which itself is kind of a joke, when you think about it — is that it stems from a failure more than it does a success, at least, according to Hitfix writer Drew McWeeny’s thinking.
GOTHAM ACADEMY: BECKY CLOONAN’S SUPER COOL HERO PORTRAITS, CHARACTER BREAKDOWNS AND GUERRILLA MARKETING
By Chris Sims
I don’t think it’s possible for the staff of ComicsAlliance to get more excited for Becky Cloonan, Brenden Fletcher and Karl Kerschl‘s Gotham Academy than we already are, but if there’s one thing that could do it, it’s seeing the characters for the new book in a set of brand-new portraits drawn by Cloonan. This week, that’s exactly what we’ve got, so prepare yourself, because they are fantastic.
In a set of three images, Cloonan has introduced us to the principal characters, Olive Silverlock, Maps Mizoguchi and Kyle Mizoguchi. Check them out along with what the creators of the book had to say in our interview from San Diego Comic-Con. Plus, what we think about how DC is marketing — or not marketing, in a way — this new book.
Brenden Fletcher: Olive Silverlock, our main character.
Becky Cloonan: It’s her second year at Gotham.
BF: Her first year was fairly sunny, fairly bright. She doesn’t come from a really wealthy background so getting to go to this prep school is a wonderful experience for her, was a wonderful experience for her. Her grades are fantastic, loves books, was in the school play, dating the tennis star and then something happened in the summer that changed her world. It’s impacted her relationship with the tennis star in a negative way. It’s impacted the way she feels about the school and it may have had some disastrous change on her life. That’s one of the main arcs of where it’s going. What happened to Olive? What is that going to mean for her future and the future of all the students at Gotham Academy?
THE ARKHAM SESSIONS: HOW PSYCHOLOGICALLY SIMILAR ARE BATMAN AND ROBIN?
The Arkham Sessions, hosted by clinical psychologist Dr. Andrea Letamendi and Brian Ward, is a weekly podcast dedicated to the psychological analysis of Batman: The Animated Series. Nostalgic, humorous, and even a little educational, each episode promises to lend some insight into the heroes, villains, and classic stories of the Dark Knight.
As a special exclusive for ComicsAlliance visitors, new episodes of The Arkham Sessions will stream on CA several days in advance of their syndication to iTunes.
This week, we discuss the highly acclaimed, Emmy-winning episode of Batman: The Animated Series, “Robin’s Reckoning.” We cover Part 1, in which we’re shown Robin’s origin story. We discover who killed Robin’s family and how he joined forces with Batman.
How did Robin cope with the death of his parents?
Like Batman, Robin lost his parents suddenly and tragically. Like Batman, Robin also witnessed the death of his parents, which is considered a psychological trauma. We discuss how well Robin is coping shortly following the event and whether he shows signs of post-traumatic stress symptoms. We also discuss the common responses to childhood trauma, and what “protective” and “risk” factors can lead to different psychological outcomes.
How similar are Batman and Robin?
Robin’s story is a reminder that not all of us respond to trauma in the same way. In fact, important research in the area of developmental psychopathology has demonstrated multiple, diverse “pathways” following stressful events in childhood. Even though Bruce and Robin share a very similar story, they have different outcomes. “Robin’s Reckoning” asks us to contemplate whether Robin will grow up to be like Bruce. If not, does this mean we can gain a deeper understanding of how to prevent childhood trauma from having long-lasting effects in adulthood?
Listen to Part 1 for all of these topics and more, and come back next week for the exciting conclusion.
THE PEN IS TRULY MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD: SCREENWRITER SAM HAMM TALKS BATMAN ’89
Twenty five years ago, in 1989, there was nothing bigger than Tim Burton’s Batman. The movie was a box-office smash, and was accompanied by an unprecedented merchandising blitz. Bat-trading cards, Bat-shirts, Bat-soundtracks, Bat-toys, Bat-meals, Bat-hats, Bat-candy, Bat-books – the logo and likenesses were everywhere you looked. And the film’s impact is still being felt today. It was a big-budget production with proper movie stars that changed the way the world thought about comic book movies evermore.
Earlier this summer, ComicsAlliance published a series of pieces reflecting on the importance of Batman ’89 – and now, as the summer of 2014 winds to a close, we spoke to screenwriter Sam Hamm about his work on the landmark film and his thoughts on its legacy as a perfect postscript to our 25th anniversary Bat-celebration.
ComicsAlliance: Were there any cut sequences that you wish had made it into the finished film?
1) I had a highly ingenious third-act introduction for the Bat-signal that I still miss.
2) I had originally handled the murder of Bruce’s parents as a dream Vicki has after being spirited off to the Batcave and recognizing Bruce behind his cowl. The plotline of Vicki accidentally discovering Batman’s identity by digging into Bruce’s past was mostly lost in the finished picture.
3) The studio insisted on having Robin in the picture, and Tim and I couldn’t figure out how or where to squeeze him in. We spent a whole weekend pacing around in a sweat, but we couldn’t get anywhere, and we finally decided that we would have to call the WB brass and tell them there would be no Robin. Then, moments away from picking up the phone, we started spitballing again, and miraculously, we came up with a really cool Robin sequence. So a couple of years later, when production is underway, and the picture is running over budget, what does the studio decide to cut? You guessed it – Robin! And in the end, nobody missed him.
DON’T DRAW THE DARKNESS: SCOTT SNYDER ON ‘ZERO YEAR: SAVAGE CITY,’ PART TWO [INTERVIEW]
By Chris Sims
If there’s one thing we’ve learned from our series of in-depth reviews and interviews about Batman: Zero Year, it’s that the creative team of Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, Danny Miki and FCO Plascencia set out to do a lot more than just re-tell Batman’s origin for a modern audience. That might’ve been the stated goal, but along the way, it became clear that the team wanted to use that bombastic superhero background to tell a story that was incredibly personal, using the trauma that made Bruce Wayne a hero to explore feelings of isolation, fear and, eventually, triumph.
In our final Zero Year interview, Snyder tells us about the interactions with other Batman creators while it was coming out, how he identifies with both Batman and the Riddler, and how much of the story was inspired by his own very personal experiences with overcoming panic and despair.
I’LL NEVER GO THAT BIG AGAIN: SCOTT SNYDER ON ‘ZERO YEAR: SAVAGE CITY,’ PART ONE [INTERVIEW]
By Chris Sims
For the past year, I’ve spoken to Scott Snyder for a series of in-depth interviews about Batman: Zero Year, the new origin story that he, Greg Capullo, Danny Miki and FCO Plascencia have produced for DC Comics. In the final act, “Savage City,” Batman was confronted with a Gotham City that had been destroyed by a super-storm, was overrun by plants that had grown out of control, and was being held in the iron grip of the Riddler, all while confronting the trauma that inspired him to become a hero.
With the full story completed, I spoke to Snyder for the first part of a two-part interview about how he felt he’d achieved his goals with the bestselling story, the inspiration for the dynamic visuals, and his meeting with Frank Miller, possibly the most definitive Batman author, who had one very specific note about the story.
THE ARKHAM SESSIONS: THE PSYCHOLOGY OF THE JOKER & HARLEY, ELECTROSHOCK, AND SUICIDE SQUADDING
The Arkham Sessions is dedicated to the psychology of Batman, so it seems almost like an ethical duty to cover a movie about Arkham Asylum, Gotham City’s mental health facility for the “criminally insane.” In the newly released direct-to-video animated film Batman: Assault on Arkham, a highly-skilled group of assassins and outlaws are called together by Amanda Waller to take part in a risky — possibly life-threatening — mission to infiltrate Arkham Asylum.
Does it help or hurt that members have a history of incarceration, criminal activity, and psychiatric treatment related to lack of moral sense? Perhaps Waller is brilliant to devise a plan that can only succeed via the knowledge and insight of persons who have been through the system.
In this episode of The Arkham Sessions, we gently put aside the VHS and screen a contemporary work from DC Universe Animated. Use the player above to listen to our spoiler-free analysis of Harley Quinn, Deadshot, Captain Boomerang, King Shark, Black Spider, Killer Frost, KB Beast, and, of course the Joker.
NEW ‘BATMAN: ARKHAM KNIGHT’ SCREENS CONFIRM PUNCHING, BATMOBILE GUNS, RAIN
There’s a brand new demo of Batman: Arkham Knight on display at Gamescom in Germany, and from the sound of it, the game–Rocksteady Games’ return to the franchise after a one-game break–will be a pretty fun time.
After a fight sequence at Ace Chemical and the introduction of some new gadgets, there’s a fairly sequence involving the Batman popping out of the moving Batmobile (!) and onto rooftops. Unfortunately, you have to be at Gamescom to play that demo at the moment, but GamesRadar has nabbed a few screenshots to whet your whistle.
AFFLECK ON FAN REACTION TO HIS BATMAN CASTING: ‘IT’S GREAT THAT PEOPLE DO CARE THAT MUCH’
As much as a good many vocal fans absolutely hate that he’ll be playing Batman in the upcoming Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, Ben Affleck seems like a pretty OK guy. He’s even, according to a new interview with Entertainment Weekly, taking the hatred more or less in stride.