Tag Archives: Batman

But The Joker Doesn’t Have An Origin!

I actually meant to write this one a few weeks ago… but the Red Dead Redemption II release kind of took over my blog for a while and all I’d been doing was RDR related articles. Still, semi-normal service has now resumed.

So anyway, there’s a new film telling the origin story of The Joker being filmed right now called Joker as shown in that above early/test footage. Set to be released next year and starring Joaquin Phoenix as the titular Clown Prince of Crime. the film will be a stand alone picture not connected to the existing D.C. movie universe (thankfully). Yet some people are getting all annoyed with the fact that in the comics, The Joker has never had a definitive origin so a film version should not exist. Even the man himself either does not know or refuses to remember the person he was before he became Batman’s arch-nemesis. I suppose this article could be thrown in with my Comic Book Fans Have Short Memories article from a while back. I mean, It’s not as if Joker hasn’t already had an origin story on film is it?

How about Batman: Mask of the Phantasm? It was an animated film from 1993, a continuation of the very awesome animated T.V. show. This film shows one possible origin of The Joker. the fact the movie is also pretty damn amazing and a huge fan favourite helps… oh and it was nominated for an Annie (animation equivalent to the Oscars), sadly it lost out to The Lion King – but still goes to show just how respected the film really was and still is. People love this flick and it has an origin for The Joker.

Batman Mask of the Phantasm Joker.jpg

2016’s The Killing Joke also offered a possible origin for The Joker. Based on the graphic novel of the same name. When a struggling stand up comedian finds it hard to support his pregnant wife, he turns to crime and that lays down the basis for becoming The Joker. Oh and let’s not forget this…

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Still my favourite Batman movie and yes, The Joker is given an origin. Tim Burton’s Batman from 1989 was a pretty bold movie in that regard as (correct me if I’m wrong)  The Joker had never been given an origin before, at least not on screen. I really loved the origin here too as it was Batman who created The Joker… but it was The Joker who created Batman first. They are two sides of the same coin.

Batman 89 Joker

Besides, we don’t really know all the details for this new Joker film as the plot is being kept tip-top secret. All we know is that Joaquin Phoenix is playing Arthur Fleck before becoming The Joker. But here are a couple of ideas off the top of my head of how the film could handle the origin story.

He’s lying. The film being made is just a lie told by The Joker. Kind of how Heath Ledger’s Joker from The Dark Knight told a different story about how he got those scars. This film really could be The Joker just telling a fable of who he once was.

Or the film could be an anthology telling more than one origin story within one film. Look at the comics, they have a similar idea as The Joker has had multiple origin stories and none of them are definitive, they are just possibilities. Maybe that’s the plan to tell different origin stories in one film or even make multiple Joker films all telling a different origin and this is just the first one?

Joker 2019.jpg

Either way, point is. I don’t understand why some people are against this new Joker movie telling his origin… or at least one of his origins. It has been done before in the comics and movies several times over and this is just another version. This is a flick I’m looking forward to… so far at least. I have been stung by D.C. films in recent years so I’m very concerned about whether that can deliver a worthy movie or not. But at this early stage, I really like Joaquin Phoenix and think he could be a perfect bit of casting. It’s all very hush, hush right now with no one really knowing what the film will be about other then it being an origin story. The early test footage shows very little but I’m sure we will see more of the flick over the next few weeks and months.

Anyway, calm down folks. All these fans getting upset because its an origin and The Joker doesn’t have one. It’s been done before, pretty damn well too. This could be the start of something great… or it could be another D.C. movie disaster.

 

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The Michael Keaton Revival

Now – I love me some Michael Keaton, he’s one of my favourite actors and has been for years. Sadly he has often been overlooked and underused particularly in the late 90s and early 2000s, but recently Keaton has been having a bit of a resurgence in his career – and I for one love it. So right here, I want to take a quick look at Keaton’s career so far and celebrate the return of one of cinema’s overlooked greats.

His real name is Michael Douglas, but he had to change it when he became an actor because of that other Michael Douglas fella. Exactly where Keaton took his stage name from – I’m not 100% sure as I’ve read two different sources. One stating he used the name after reading an article about Diane Keaton and another saying he took the name from Buster Keaton.

Keaton’s acting career began in the mid 70s on TV in shows like  Mister Rogers’ Neighbourhood, Maude and The Mary Tyler Moore Hour. In 1982 he secured his first co-starring credit appearing alongside Henry ‘The Fonz’ Winkler in the comedy flick Night Shift. This role kick-started his early film career and Keaton became known as a comic actor when he starred in Mr. MomJohnny Dangerously and Gung Ho.

Johnny Dangerously

By the way, I recommend Johnny Dangerously if you want a stupidly funny parody flick in the same vein as Airplane! and The Naked Gun. Its a brilliant spoof of gangster films and often overlooked. ‘You fargin’ icehole!’

It was in 1988 when Keaton got his major breakthrough role. Tim Burton cast him in the horror/comedy picture Beetlejuice. Probably one of my favourite Tim Burton films and one of my favourite Keaton films too, even though he appears in less than 20% of the movie, Keaton stole the entire flick and cemented Betelgeuse (correct spelling of his name) as one of the most memorable film characters of the 80s. The much rumoured sequel is still – supposedly in the works.

Beetlejiuce

It was the following year in 1989 when Keaton would team up with Burton once more in one of the most controversial pieces of casting ever…

Batman Logo

Oh my goodness, the backlash both Burton and Keaton got for Batman is legendary. There were over 50,000 letters of complaint sent to the studio when it was announced that Keaton would be playing Batman in the (then) new movie… and this was the late 80s, pre-internet days too. Years later, Keaton spoke out about the outrage his casing caused.

“It baffled me that anyone was thinking about that. I heard about the outrage, and I couldn’t get it. I didn’t understand why it was such a big deal. It made me feel bad that it was even in question.”

All this backlash steamed from the simple fact that Keaton was known for his comedic roles and the fans just refused to believe that this comedy actor could play a serious Batman. Of course both Burton and especially Keaton would prove their doubters wrong. In my humble opinion, I still feel that Keaton was the best live action Batman and Bruce Wayne.

Keaton Batman

The success of Batman catapulted Keaton into the limelight and he became a superstar. The film also began the more ‘adult’ superhero movie and a trend that still continues today where every other flick released now is a superhero one. This was followed by the sequel Batman Returns in 1992 where Burton and Keaton teamed up once more. This sequel was much darker and violent than the first. There was even a third Batman film in the pre-production stages, but when Burton left the project – so did Keaton and the franchise took a massive nosedive as it continued without either of the two people who made it the success it became.

Keaton was riding high in the late 80s and early 90s as he starred in more films including; Pacific HeightsMy Life, The Paper and Multiplicity – a return to his more comedic roots written and directed by the great Harold Ramis where Keaton’s character clones himself.

Multiplicity

After re-watching the film recently, I was pleasantly surprised to find it still holds up well and you get four times the Keaton too.

In the late 90s, he played the same character twice in two different movies based on novels from the same writer. He appeared as Agent Ray Nicolette in Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown from 1997 and then again in Out of Sight from 1998. Both films based on the work of author Elmore Leonard. But by the time the 2000s rolled around, Keaton career was drying up. He still acted but never managed to reach the same success as the late 80s/early 90s and those heady Batman years. The 2000s were a very mixed bag for the actor and appearing in movies like Herbie: Fully Loaded hardly helped either. But here’s the thing about a bad Keaton film, the movie may be bad – but it still had Michael Keaton in it and he was always a joy to watch.

The big major starring roles were just not coming his way and I couldn’t understand why – he was still a damn good actor, he just wasn’t getting the job offers he deserved. In 2014 he was cast as the antagonist in the terrible remake of Robocop… and you know how I said before how a bad Keaton film is still worth watching just for him? Well this Robocop remake is a perfect example of exactly that. Despite the lacklustre career Keaton was experiencing by 2014, it was this very same year he starred in the movie that changed everything.

Birdman Poster

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) is a brilliant film that sees Keaton cast as a struggling actor who was once famous for playing a superhero decades ago… does any of this sound familiar? I really do not want to say too much about this one as going into it blind is the best way to experience this flick. But any and every Michael Keaton fan should watch Birdman. Keaton is on top form as actor Riggan Thomson who tries to put on a Broadway play in an attempt to reinvigorate his failing career all while being haunted by his iconic, titular superhero alter-ego Birdman… or is he?

Keaton even won a Golden Globe Award as well as earning a Best Actor Oscar nomination for his role in Birdman. At last, he was back where he belonged and was getting the recognition he deserved as an actor. On the 28th of July, 2016 – Keaton was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and about damn time too.

Also in 2016, he starred as Ray Kroc in the movie The Founder which tells the true story of the man who created the McDonald’s fast food empire… all be it not very harmoniously.

The Founder

In fact the very reason I decided to write this article was because I just watched The Founder and thoroughly enjoyed it, highly recommended. Its just so great to see Michael Keaton not just getting acting jobs, but getting great ones and doing them justice too.

Most recently Keaton has returned to his superhero movie roles, only this time on the other side of the the coin when he played super-villain The Vulture in Spider-Man: Homecoming. No, I’ve not yet seen it as I’ve been a bit busy getting ready to welcome our first baby due in just a couple of days as of writing this. But I have heard great things about the flick and in particular Keaton himself. Plus you’ll also be seeing him soon-ish in Disney’s live action version of Dumbo, set to be directed by his old sparring partner Tim Burton in 2019… maybe Beetlejuice 2 after that?

Well it seems like Michael Keaton is back and I for one love it. I miss him when he’s not acting or acting in bad films and I always enjoy it whenever he is on screen (yes even in bad movies). His career, right now is going from strength to strength – I hope it continues for many years to come. If you know any film fans that are not aware of this man’s work – then, I want you to do me a favour. I want you to tell all your friends about him… He’s Keaton.’

Micheal Keaton 2

I’m just shocked and thankful that I’ve gotten away with everything – experimenting here, trying at this, failing at that, being good in some things, not so good in others. It’s kind of amazing that people are still sticking by me. When they come up to me in the street, I just want to write them all cheques. – Michael Keaton

Batman: The Killing Joke

MASSIVE SPOILERS!

I’ve been looking forward to this one for a while, the animated version of one of the greatest Batman stories ever… but is it any good?

poster

The graphic novel by Alan Moore from 1988 this film is based on is infamous for being one of the most brutal and graphic Batman stories ever. It went on to change Batman lore forever and is often cited as THE defining Joker story, its impact is still talked about today and fans still theorise on the ambiguous ending almost 30 years later.

But is this animated adaption any good?
Well, to be fair, its a bit of a mixed bag for me. Before I get to that, first the plot.
At this point I want to just say that if you have not read The Killing Joke graphic novel then go do that now as I’m about to spoil the entire story here and its a great story you don’t want spoiling if you don’t already know it.

Batgirl

So the film starts with Batgirl (AKA Barbara Gordon, daughter of Commissioner Jim Gordon) out trying to stop a robbery which she fails. But she does manage to stop one of the criminals with the help of Batman. It turns out the leader of the gang is somebody called Paris Franz (yes you read that right) who is the nephew of a major Gotham City crime lord; Francesco. Paris starts to develop a strange obsession over Batgirl and Batman becomes more and more concerned about her safety and worries she is not taking this situation seriously at all.
Paris eventually tricks Batgirl into finding his uncle’s dead body and this leads to Batman taking Batgirl off the case. The two argue and (controversially) have sex which creates a rift between them. The following night, Batman is ambushed by Paris and his men and Batgirl goes to help, she defeats Paris and on reflection she realises Batman was right and she is not taking this whole crime fighting thing as seriously as she should. So she decides to retire.

Sometime after all of this, Batman is called to take a look at a strange multiple murder scene and works out that The Joker who is locked up in Arkham Asylum could be behind the murders. Batman heads to Arkham to confront The Joker only to find an impostor taking his place and the real Joker has escaped.
Meanwhile, The Joker acquires an abandoned carnival park and begins to set up his most vicious attack ever. Joker eventually turns up at Barbara Gordon’s apartment while her father, Jim is visiting. Joker shoots Barbara while Jim looks on helpless. Jim is kidnapped and taken to The Joker’s carnival park while Barbara is left for dead.

Barbra shot

Jim is stripped naked and subjected to all sorts of torture at the hands of The Joker, like showing him pictures of his dying daughter who has also been stripped naked. Joker hopes to make Jim snap and become as unbalanced and insane as he is himself. Back at Barbara’s apartment, she is found and taken to hospital where it is revealed she is permanently paralysed. The story is inter-cut with flashbacks telling of a possible origin story for who the Joker was before he became what/who he became and how Batman may have had a hand in creating the Joker after all.

Batman eventually finds where Jim is being held after The Joker sends him a clue. Batman rescues Jim as the Joker flees into a fun house. Despite The Joker’s best efforts, Jim doesn’t crack and remains perfectly sane and Jim demands that Batman bring in The joker “by the book”. So Batman goes after Joker following him into the fun house. Joker continually tries to get under Batman’s skin by taunting him and trying to point out that they are not so different, that just one bad day is enough to turn anyone insane, he even mocks Batman by suggesting it was one bad bay that drove him into becoming Batman in the first place.

BvJ

Batman eventually subdues Joker and tells him that Jim is perfectly sane, that he failed in his attempt to turn him, proving that Joker is alone in his insanity. Batman then offers to help rehabilitate The Joker and put an end to their constant fighting which Batman feels will end it either one or both of their deaths. Joker refuses the help as he believes its too late for help now. The Joker then says how this whole situation reminds him of a (killing) joke, which he proceeds to tell Batman. The two begin to laugh and Batman places his hands on The Joker’s shoulders as the camera pans down so we can not see either of them. The Joker’s laughter stops and yet Batman continues to laugh as the credits begin to roll.

The end.

There is also a mid credit scene where Barbara returns to her apartment now in a wheelchair and reveals she will continue to help Batman as The Oracle.

So what about this whole “mixed bag” thing then?
First the bad…

The whole opening involving Batgirl, Batman, Paris, etc was not in the original graphic novel. The whole thing was added on just to pad out the story as the source material is a short and quick read. Its really quite pointless and feels disjointed.

Batgirl and Batman having sex… just NO! This is Barbara Gordon, Jim Gordon’s daughter. Batman/Bruce Wayne is metaphorically Barbara’s uncle. The whole sex thing is just ‘uncomfortable’ and does not sit right.

Its been given an R rating, which is the hardest rating you can give a mainstream film in America. Yet the film really doesn’t seem to be that ‘hard’ a film to warrant it. Yeah it gets a little bloody and some very mild swearing but its nothing major and if this was live action, it certainly wouldn’t have got an R rating at all. It has a 15 rating here in the UK and that still seems a little too high for me, PG-13 at the most. To be honest, it just doesn’t get as dark or disturbing as its source material.

That’s about it for the bad, now the good…

The animation is amazing and very much reminded me of the great Batman animated series from the 90s.

The voice acting is top notch with my favourite Joker actor ever, Mark Hamill being the stand out performance. Kevin Conroy is back as Batman and is just as good as he ever was. With Tara Strong as Barbara Gordon/Batgirl and Ray Wise as Commissioner Jim Gordon filling out the rest of the main cast really well too.

The art style is dark, brooding. Some very strong images and artwork. Plus there are some really great and disturbing images of The Joker that will stick in your head…

joker
See?

Its a fast moving film and never seems to drag on. It only has a run time of 1 hour 16 minutes and that is with the added on opening. I watched it twice, I just skipped the opening the second time.

Overall, I recommend it even if you have not read of the original graphic novel. Its a great story and this film does it justice… but that whole Batgirl opening is utterly pointless, especially if you have read and are a fan of the source material. If so, then just skip the first 28 minutes to get to the good stuff.
The ending is handled well as is just as ambiguous as the comic… does Batman kill The Joker or not?

Though this really should have just been a harder edged 45 minute short without all the Batgirl stuff, I still think what they have done is worth watching and recommend this. But I also highly recommend the graphic novel over the film. So go an buy yourself a copy.

Joker 2

The Joker:Sometimes I remember it one way, sometimes a another. If I’m going to have a past, I prefer it to be multiple choice. My point is… I went crazy.

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Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

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So I just watched Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice a couple of hours ago, may as well offer my views.
But before I get to that, I just want to address the bad reviews the film is getting right now.

After the premiere earlier this week, the film was receiving huge praise…if you believe the press that Warner Bros ‘selectively’ put out. I mean, am I the only person that found it strange that Warner Bros put a review embargo on the film so no reviews allowed until they say so…but they also then let all the positive comments (and ONLY positive comments) about the film out hours after its first showing, so much so it even became a trending topic on social media?
Make of that what you will.

After the dust settled and a little digging around, one could easily find what a lot of people really thought of the film without the selective comments allowed by Warner Bros. With only as 30% positivity rating on Rotten Tomatoes (as of writing) and notable reviewers saying such things as:

Michael Phillips Chicago Tribune:A near-total drag, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice plays like a loose, unofficial quarter-billion-dollar remake of The Odd Couple.

Stephanie Zacharek TIME Magazine:As superhero spectacles go, Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is a grand one, with a mondo-operatic climax and a final shot infused with quivering, exhilarating molecules of grace. It’s also not much fun.

Adam Graham Detroit News:The heavyweight title bout between Batman and Superman is a smash to the senses, the same way being tossed around in a rollover car accident would jolt one’s system.

Helen OHara GQ Magazine:It just wears you down and wears you out, making you wonder if there was ever such a thing as a hero anyway. Let them pummel each other if they must; just leave us out of it.

Robbie Collin Daily Telegraph:No major blockbuster in years has been this incoherently structured, this seemingly uninterested in telling a story with clarity and purpose.

Now there has been a lot of DC fans claiming the bad reviews found on Rotten Tomatoes are from overtly bias Marvel fans in an attempt to ridicule the film. I just want to point something out, Rotten Tomatoes is owned by Warner Bros…the same company behind this film.
Yeah I’m sure there is some mass worldwide conspiracy to try and belittle a film by Marvel fans and not just a simple fact that the bad reviews are because the film isn’t very good.

In fact, to be honest. Its kind of hard to find any of this high praise the film was getting that Warner Bros was claiming a few days ago. Not there there are no positive reviews out there, there are. It just seems they are rather thin on the ground and by people that enjoy style over substance.
I am finding many more 2/5 and 4/10 review scores than any 4/5 and 8/10 scores for example.

Trio

Still, I am not here to talk about what others think about the film. I am here to get my opinion of the film across. So lets get started. There will be major spoilers…you have been warned.

I was not the biggest fan of Man of Steel, in fact I found it to be rather asinine overall and full of horrible writing with horrendous and boring action sequences. But saying that, I held a lot of hope for this sequel that they would learn from previous mistakes.

I recall the negative feedback that was around when it was announced that Ben Affleck is playing Bruce Wayne/Batman. So I’ll start there.

Batman

I personally found Affleck to be a great piece of casting. He nails the Bruce Wayne persona just as well as Batman and my favourite since Michael Keaton.
Bruce/Batman in this film is aged and not in really in his prime as he used to be. This element is taken from Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns comic book mini series. In fact, quite a lot of this film is heavily inspired by Miller’s story.
Batman in this is FAR more brutal than we have ever seen him previously. He breaks bones, smashes faces into the floor, stabs people with knives and even outright kills.
For me, the best thing about this film was Affleck and this new take on a much loved and established character.
This Batman is harder edged and raw…and I loved it.

Sadly, Affleck is the only thing about this film that is memorable.
Seriously, I watched the film a couple of hours ago and hardly rememberer any of it because its so drawn out and dull. The film is around 2 hours 30 minutes and it feels so, so much longer. I honestly think there is only about 40 minutes worth of story here and they dragged it out needlessly.
So many inane, pointless and forgettable scenes.

There is so much you can cut from this film and it would have made zero difference to the plot.
Lois Lane is completely irrelevant here. She is in the film so Superman can save her…and that’s about it. Wonder Woman is also largely pointless and really only shows up 10 minutes from the end because the script says so. Yeah sure, Diana Prince appears a few times throughout the film…for no real reason at all. She is thrown in because the need to set the framework for the Justice League and not because its a good idea or makes plot sense.

Even the big fight, you know the main title of the film is pretty much a let down. Batman and Superman scrap for a bit…then make up and become friends because their mothers both have the same first name….seriously, I’m not joking here. They stop fighting each other because their mothers shared the same first name.
There are a few good action scenes though, but the main title fight is not one of them.

Oh something I just remembered that needs addressing.
Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor. He is fucking awful, the role is played as if Lex is a 14 year old child that has had too much sugar. I think he was supposed to be a bit of comic relief but the trouble is that he is not funny. Badly written and badly acted.

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I really don’t have much to say here as the film didn’t provide anything to really talk about.
Its a film that exists.
Its a strange film really as it has so much going on, even too much going on at times. But at the same time its an almost empty plot. There are too many characters trying to be introduced as they want to rush into a Justice League film and this results in bland, uninteresting characterization.

I think if they had kept this concentrated as it just being Batman and Superman, it could have been decent. But its just a mess of a film with no real direction or clear goal.
Its trying to be a sequel to Man of Steel and also trying to be a set up to a Justice League film, and also trying to be Batman v Superman and it does none of these three ideas well at all. Its a mess.

I will say that I think some of the critics and other reviewers (including those up there ^^^) have been overtly harsh with their views, but I still can’t find myself disagreeing with them either.
Its not a good film at all, but its not terrible either. Its “better” than Man of Steel…but not by very much and only because of this new, harder Batman.

If this is the best they can do, I really don’t hold out much hope for the Justice League film(s) at all.
I can’t recommend going to to the cinema see this flick at all, just wait for home release instead.

Just bring on the Affleck starring Batman film.

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Just remembered, Superman dies…except he doesn’t…spoiler?

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Man Of Steel, Part I

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With Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice relased in a few days and the fact I did a multi part retrospective look back at Batman in gaming last year. Starting with the very first official Batman game right up to the release of Batman: Arkham Knight.
I think now would be a good time to give Superman the same treatment and take a look at The Last Son Of Krypton in gaming over the years.

Now, I said in my Batman retrospective that The Dark Knight has been pretty well represented in gaming. Yeah he has been in some terrible games, but he has also had some good and even amazing games too.
Has Superman been as well represented as his DC brother in games?

Same rules as the Batman retrospective. I’ll not cover every Superman game and only the ones I have played and remember. Plus I am sticking to games where Superman is the star and main character and not ones where he is featured in a cameo or secondary character.

Lets start at the very beginning with the first ever Superman game and the first one I ever played.

Superman Atari cover

Superman: Released in 1979 for the Atari 2600. This was the very first ever official Superman game relased. The game has you playing as Clark Kent/Superman trying to repair a bridge destroyed by Lex Luthor…we had very simple plots for games back then.

Playing as Clark, you would have to find a telephone box to change into Superman. Then you could use Superman’s flying power to explore the small and very simple play area. While trying to round up Lex Luthor and his henchmen and having to take them to jail. Kryptonite could be found is some areas and you would have to avoid it, it you did come in contact with any Kryptonite then Superman would lose flying powers and you would have to find Lois Lane who you could kiss and get your powers back.

The aim of the game was to find all pieces of the destroyed bridge, capture Lex and his minions and return to the Daily Planet in the fastest time possible. In fact, the game could be “completed” in just over 1 minute…

And people complain games are too short today?

Interesting tit bit. This game was one of the first (if not the first) games to feature a pause option. Something we take for granted nowadays but unheard of back then. However the pause option had a bug as you could pause the game and the game could be completed without having to fix the bridge or capture Lex and his men.
Using this bug, you could finish the game in literal seconds.
It also featured a strange two player co-op where one person would control Superman with one controller and able to move Superman left and right, while the second player would move him up and down with another controller.

Superman Atari screen

Superman was a very well received game back then and praised for its unique gameplay and (at the time) great graphics.
I have many fond memories of me and my brothers playing this one a lot back then. It was one of the first games to feature and actual goal and and end as most games back then were just about getting a high score.

Next up, Kal-El makes an appearance on one of the most popular computers of the 80s.

Supman C46 cover

Superman: The Game: Developed by First Star Software in 1985 for the Commodore 64 and later ported to the Acorn Electron, Amstrad CPC, Atari 400/800/XL/XE, BBC Micro, Commodore 16/Plus/4 and ZX Spectrum.
This game was designed for 2 players at the same time or 1 player and 1 computer controlled. One player would control Superman and the other (or computer) would play as Darkseid.

The game was set over six sections, three in Metropolis and three set underground. The aim of the game was to collect diamonds and rescue/kidnap citizens all while fighting off either Superman or Darkseid, depending on who you were playing as. There were barriers on each of the levels that could be adjusted to change the direction the citizens would walk in as well as effect the direction Superman’s heat vision or Darkseid’s omega ray. When hit, Superman/Darkseid would lose energy. Lose all your energy and it was game over.
Superman could pick up and carry the citizens while Darkseid could teleport them. One you saved/kidnapped the citizens and collected the diamond, you could move onto the next section. Between each section there were what were called “combat zones”. These areas were kind of mini games. If the player who chose to leave the previous section wins one of these combat zones, the game moves on to their chosen section. If they lose, play returns to the previous section.

The game is completed when there are no more citizens left to save/kidnap or when Superman/Darkseid have no more energy left and the winner is whoever saved/kidnapped the most citizens.

Supman C46 screen

Superman: The Game was an interesting concept as you could play as a villain against another human player in a competitive game mode. The game play itself however was a little dull and repetitive overall and really didn’t offer too much to keep you playing. The six different sections were not that different and the same task of rescuing/kidnapping people became tiresome. The combat zone mini games offered a lot more variety however from simply exchanging hits until one loses, to Superman having to use his super breath to blow projectiles back at Darkseid. Then there was a side scrolling one where Superman would have to activate various traps to harm Darkseid while being shot at and one where Darkseid would try to bomb Metropolis while Superman had to defend it.

Now, Superman makes his début on the NES/Famicom.

Superman NES

Superman: Released of the Famicom in 1987 and then on the NES in 1988. Developed by Kotobuki Systems. This one was loosely…very loosely based on the first two Superman movies.
Using a side scrolling platform concept and even a few puzzle elements thrown in too. Interesting to note that the US/European version featured all new music where as the Japanese version used a synthesized rendition of the classic John Williams Superman theme tune.

Playing as Clark Kent/Superman you are tasked with saving Metropolis from Lex Luthor as well as Zod and his gang. Superman was armed with various powers including; x-ray vision, flight, super spin, heat vision and super breath.
You start out as Clark Kent and have to build your super power before you can change into Superman via a phone booth. If you took too much damage from enemies as Superman, you would turn back into Clark Kent.
The main game play revolved around you taking out various henchmen and helping people that would need it which you could see via the map screen.
The game was split into different chapters with each chapter ending with a boss fight against Lex Luthor and even the exiled criminals from Krypton; Ursa, Non and General Zod himself.

Superman NES screen

This one met with very mixed reviews and nothing really praising the game at all. It was rather bland to be honest with a lot of back tracking and exploring pointless areas just to have people say mundane and inane things to you. There is even a part where Superman has to get a ticket to ride the subway…why would Superman even need to use the subway when he can fly and even more so, who would charge Superman to use the subway to begin with?
Superman for the NES was not very good at all and just bogged down with loads of filler to pad out a rather dull game, especially the bit where you get to talk to someone about the stock exchange…in a Superman game.

Well that just about does it for part I and Superman’s early appearances in gaming has been pretty poor so far, but there is more from The Kryptonian coming in part II and maybe we will see Superman in a worthy game…but I wouldn’t count on it.

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Batman V Superman

The 26th of this month sees one of the biggest movie releases of this year. The teaming up of two giant comic book legends. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice will be the first live action big screen outing of these two titans of the comic book world sharing the same screen.

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But I have no interest in talking about that film, I want to talk about the other Batman v Superman film.
What other Batman v Superman film I hear you ask, well…

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First, a little back story I think.
Back in 2002 it has been said that a script for a Batman v Superman movie was written with every intent on it being filmed for a 2004 release. The script was simply called; Asylum.
Written by Andrew Kevin Walker who also wrote the screenplays for Seven, 8MM, Sleepy Hollow as well as others. He is well known for his dark scripts. With revisions and updates written by Akiva Goldsman known for Batman Forever, Batman & Robin, I Am Legend as well as other screenplays and scripts.

So where is this rumoured script then eh? Well its right here.

It is a rough script, but you can see the direction they intended to take these two characters. It was going to be a much darker tone then the previous Batman films and they even had director Wolfgang Petersen all set to direct the film too.
Christian Bale was rumoured to play Batman (as if that would ever happen) with Jude Law for Superman.
Wolfgang Petersen even gave an interview on his vision for the film too.

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So what was the plot of the story then?

Well, The Joker is assumed dead after falling from the cathedral from Tim Burton’s Batman (1989). We learn that both Bruce and Clark are having a bit of a mid life crisis after everything they have been through up to this point.
Bruce has retired as Batman for five years now while Lois Lane is divorcing Clark as his life as Superman is getting in the way of their relationship. Clark enters a depressive state and even thinks he is wasting his time on this planet protecting these petty humans.

Bruce gets married to a Elizabeth Miller, an intelligent and beautiful woman, Clark even ends up being Bruce’s best man. During the honeymoon, Elizabeth is killed by The Joker who has been brought back from the dead by Lex Luthor…with science!
It also transpires that some crazy terrorist Superman stopped an angry mob from killing a while back was in fact The Joker. So Bruce blames Clark for saving The Joker’s life which allowed The Joker to kill his new wife. Batman wants The Joker dead, but Superman will not allow that to happen. This is where the start of the friction between the two titans begins.

They begin to fight even though they both realise the fighting is pointless and that they are being manipulated by Lex Luthor. Batman even comes very close to killing Superman via some kryptonite.
Batman eventually confronts The Joker and learns that his dead wife was really a creation of The Joker all along. The Joker even gave Elizabeth a ring which she in turn gave to Bruce with a Joker face engraved on the inside. This was The Joker making fun of “the world’s greatest detective” by placing a clue right under his nose.

Batman and Superman (who has recovered form his near kryptonite death) team up and to take down The Joker and Lex Luthor.

That is a quick run down of the plot, the script itself goes into more detail if you wanted to give it a read.

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Why did this film never happen though?
Well there are plenty of rumours and speculation from script problems to director disagreements. However, the most common reason I have found simply boils down to money. Apparently, Warner Bros. (WB) thought they could make more money if they relased two separate films, one Batman film and one Superman film instead which were aslo being written around the same time.
WB’s Studio President at the time, Alan Horn wanted to get J.J. Abrams’ Superman: Flyby as well as Darren Aronofsky’s Batman: Year One made into films instead…both of which never happened either. It is believed that WB felt they could make more money from the two separate films as well as all the merchandise they would bring over a single film with the two characters.

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Its a bit of a shame that greed lead to the death of Asylum. Even more so that we were robbed of a Batman origin story from Darren Aronofsky or a new Superman film from J.J. Abrams too.
The script for Asylum is rough and definitely needed some work, but there are also some really interesting ideas in there too.
But to think we almost got a Batman v Superman film in 2004…

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“I’m Batman”, Part IV

…And we’re back.
Here at the final part of the Batman gaming retrospective. Let’s dive right into the next few Batman games, but I’m going to be tackling them slightly differently.
As we have 2 separate series coming up but both series with 3 games each. I’m going to do each series as a trilogy this time around.

First up we get a Batman game series from an unusual source.

Lego Batman

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Lego Batman: The Videogame, Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes and Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham: Released 2008, 2012 and 2014 respectively. Developed by Traveller’s Tales and Published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. Available for iOS, Windows, Nintendo 3DS, OS X, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Xbox 360m Xbox One and Wii U.

Who would have thought some of the best and most fun Batman games would come from LEGO? Well it’s true.
The LEGO games had already been around for a while with LEGO Star Wars and LEGO Indiana Jones, etc. So why not Batman too?

These games are infamous for their huge roster of characters, both heroes, villains and even vehicles each with their own special abilities. Explorable levels, humor, puzzles and overall just plain old fun gameplay.
Each one of the trilogy has been highly praised with favourable reviews for all 3 titles.

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Seriously, if you’ve never played any of these games…go and do it now. Get all 3 as they are great fun.
With some very funny cutscenes and dialogue, plenty of replay value, 100’s of collectables and a great Co-Op mode. There’s so much crammed into each of these games it’s amazing. From 100’s of characters, to hidden extras and missions…including bringing back Adam West as Batman in a 1960’s Batman inspired mission.
They just remind me of old timey games when gaming used to be fun.

From the silliness and fun of LEGO we go into the next trilogy with a much more serious and darker tone.

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Batman: Arkham Asylum, Batman: Arkham City and Batman: Arkham Origins: With Asylum and City being developed by Rocksteady Studios while Origins was developed by Warner Bros. Games Montréal. All three games were published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and released in 2009, 2011 and 2013 respectively. Covering multiple formats including; Windows, PlayStation 3, Wii U and Xbox 360.

Said to be the defining Batman games and the one series that really makes you feel like you are Batman. Multi award winning, and selling millions upon millions of copies around the world. The Arkham series was actually a surprise hit when the first game was released.
No one was really expecting too much when Batman: Arkham Asylum was first announced and shown. But it became the big hit game of 2009 making Game Of The Year and winning various other gaming awards.

The Arkham series has gone on to massive critical acclaim from both gaming press and gamers. With rich and varied gameplay, a roster of great characters, unbelievably awesome combat that is easy to do but hard to master, collectables galore, in jokes and references to some of Batman’s illustrious life in the comics.

This series really is the pinnacle of the Batman games so far, and even though Origins is often thought of as being the bastard son of the franchise…it’s still a damn fine Batman game overall.

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The series has always treated the comic book source and it’s fans with respect…yes even Origins.
The developers are clearly big Batman fans and stuff the games with plenty of references and things to find. As well as hiring comic book talent like veteran Batman writer, Paul Dini. Along with Batman voice actors from various projects like; Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill and Arleen Sorkin.

These games just ooze atmosphere and gameplay, as well as compelling and well told stories. Using Batman to the best of his abilities from free flowing combat, detective work and even stealth elements.
The Arkham series is highly praised and rightly so too. Again, just with the LEGO series, if you have not played these games yet, go get them now.

That just about wraps up my retrospective look at Batman in gaming. From the simplicity of the ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64 days, right up to modern day with the Playstation 4 and Xbox One.
Batman has been a part of gaming for almost as long as gaming has been around itself.

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I know I didn’t cover every game and there are quite a few I missed out. But please, feel free to add some of your Batman gaming memories in the comments below.

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Batman: Arkham Knight hits stores June 23rd 2015…be the Batman.

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