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'Anyone can be Batman' is a bullshit slogan.

Only those who have genes for exceptional physical stamina, physical nimble skill and intelligence, in other words, not many people, can be Batman. Batman is more exceptional than Captain America and Cap had a super serum to make him perfect physically. Batman is olympics level physically talented and trained as well as highly intelligent. Not many people fit that bill. At all. His super power is fate. Exceptional talent `+ exceptional recourses + victim of the worst kinds of crime – genes, inheritance and trauma. What Batman does that we can do is to make the choice not to give in to depression and do something good with our life. We can be incorruptible, like him. That is why we can all be the Batman symbolically. But hardly anyone can actually BE Batman. Such a bullshit slogan.

Thoughts on WB/DC’s Cinematic Universe

Still think DC could make a really awesome bold and refreshing move by making a dual-Wonder Woman/Aquaman origin film taking up cues from Flashpoint Paradox. Whether to make it a somewhat JLA origin film by bringing in the world’s finest to settle the matter, I’m not sure, but I can see both working really well.

In any case, I think Themyscira vs Atlantis would be a fantastic setup for both characters, making a hard statement to the audience just how fantastical DC can actually be. (I was of this opinion since before the announcement of the Superman vs Batman).

Maybe it’s me, but I see so many possibilities for DC to BREAK THROUGH the already formulaic ‘hero origin solo film’. Rebooting Batman within a Superman film was already imo a great move (granted we still need a great execution of said move), I’d be so stoked if DC dared to take it one step further. People who think a champion hero can only get their due if they get a solo origin film are imo unnecessarily narrow minded with regard to how iconic storytelling can be achieved.

I just really hope DC is NOT gonna follow marvel’s formula, because it is exactly that, formulaic. That’s why I’m really happy about Batman popping up in what they still refer to as Man of Steel 2. That actually DOES really setup up a cinematic universe, where the lead in one film can be a supporting cast member in another. That organic feel is so much more cooler imo than the Origin 1, origin 2, origin 3, team film, sequel 1, sequel 2, origin 4, team film, origin 5, sequel 3 etc. It’s so freaking stale to keep thinking in those terms.

I really hope WB/DC is not gonna try to copy that. There are so many great refreshing things to do when you have all these franchises in hand. The source material itself proves it. I really hope they do not think in terms of superman-film, batman-film, wonder woman-film, but just think “film”, what would be a great story for these characters, and do whatever makes for iconic well constructed cinema.

I think introducing themyscira and Atlantis in the same film would work really well.

I think GL would only work now if it’s a relatively late film and it’s an all out space opera. Having a lot of massive DC guys in there, but like Flash took the lead in Flashpoint Paradox, GL would in that film/story.

The DCU is just so rich and MoS really opened my eyes to how well it lends itself to a true cinematic universe: where everything is actually always present, and can pop up in different ways. Films where Batman will call in favors with Lois Lane etc. Films where Superman can’t fight a villain who threatens the earth without getting a call from Aquaman saying “It might be your earth, but it’s my seas god damnit.” Films that actually involve characters beyond the stale boundaries of franchise A, franchise B, franchise C. WB/DC are in a unique position to do this, having all their lore in their own hands.

I guarantee you, if WB gets just a few more directing talents with vision like Snyder and Nolan on board, and they show some guts, they can break through the entire concept into a place where people won’t wonder who the next hero getting a film will be, they’ll wonder what the next story will be, and who’ll be in it! The only franchise will be “DCU”. Sometimes it’ll restrict itself to one character’s surroundings, sometimes not. Maybe we’ll even get to a point where we won’t KNOW in advance what’s gonna be the case. How awesome would that be!? Where one hero will make a bad call, get outnumbered, get beat up and BOOM without anyone knowing it would happen, another one comes to save the day, because that’s the world you get with multiple superheroes (and villains!).

My head explodes when I think of the possibilities for refreshing, surprising turn of events. All WB/DC has to do is stop thinking in terms of franchises, stop believing the dissing marvel fanboys who claim WB is “behind” and actually start thinking in terms of stories set within the same universe. Whoever’s involved is involved. MoS2′s inclusion of Batman gives me hope for this to start happening.

Response to Goyer interview on Man of Steel 2.

Watch this first:
http://batman-news.com/2013/09/26/writer-david-goyer-teases-batman-vs-superman-video/

I watched the video of Goyer actually saying this and it’s interesting he explicitly mentions the problem behind Batman being strategic, but Superman being so overpower compared to him. I really hope we’ll get to see a lot of psychological battles in MoS2, because it seems to me MoS and the Superman they presented was very much about trust and I think that’s a trust Batman will not share. At all.

This film could be so awesome if it really delves into one method versus the other – one outlook on life versus the other. In that sense, the title ‘Superman versus Batman’ actually has some cool layers to it. Because it’s one ideal stacked up against another. I can so see this work and the film being about them having not just come together because of a common threat, but actually have to find a way to live in the same world together and having to find away to let their different ideals and methods co-exist, or somehow fuse or whatever.

Think about it. These two heroes, people, are so vastly different. They’re almost opposites in every way except their end goal of protecting the innocent. If you think about it it’s actually hard to see how it wouldn’t clash (at first).

Aug 8

My JLA casting:
Superman – Henry Cavill 
Batman (younger) – Wes Bentley (Anson Mount as older)
Wonder Woman – Gina Carano
Green Lantern (Jon Stewart) – Jamie Foxx
Flash – Ryan Gosling
Aquaman – Alexander Skarsgard
Martian Manhunter – Peter Mensah

Lex Luthor - Leonardo DiCaprio
Joker - Bradley Cooper

My response to criticism on Man of Steel.

WARNING: FULL SPOILERS

In short, I think Man of Steel is bordering on being underrated already. The way criticism has been delivered is, if done out of a sense objective allegation, for the most part in the wrong, I think. No, the film isn’t perfect, but it’s a hell of a lot better than many people seem to be willing to see, had they only agreed to think about it a bit more. In that sense, Man of Steel really is a Nolanesque film in that it requires the viewer to explain a few things on their own, but they are validly explainable to an extent where I’m convinced the filmmakers thought about it and made conscious choices. I’ve seen the film twice now and the second time I’ve really gone out of my way to think through every god damn criticism I’ve heard or could think of. Not that many remain.

1) Why didn’t Zod use more of his forces during the end sequences when the battle for earth occurs, via the use of the World Engine?

I asked myself this question too, but others also pointed me towards it. This particular one is tricky, but it is explainable. I didn’t get why they didn’t use mediocre Kryptonians as guards for the World Engine, instead of tentacles, from a writers’ perspective, but I think Zod thinks the tentacles are way stronger. And in fact, they are. Superman does get beaten and gets hurled into the beam. Whereas it seems he eventually would’ve won against Faora and that Hulking guy because as soon as their suit breaks, they’re neutralised. This extreme weakness goes for every soldier Zod can throw at Superman, and being himself the only one to, barely, be able to master this weakness, it’s logical he wouldn’t expect this from his subjects, against a very determined Superman (who, again, already almost beat two of his soldiers, one of which the second in command).

Zod was kind of correct initially the World Engine defences were too much to handle. But obviously, this is Superman, and he manage to blast right through the beam bypassing the defences altogether. Superman never wins out on the World Engine’s defences - he BYPASSES them.

Obviously, Zod underestimated Superman. But that’s almost always the way a strong villain goes down in these films. There was little reason for him to send men to the World Engine, and equally, as he was himself present in Metropolis, little to no use for his men there, as basically Superman arrives, destroys his ship and the bomb gets hurled into the other phantom drive (and off everyone goes). This moment actually proceeds quite quickly and catches Zod by surprise.

2) Why did Zod choose to Terraform if earth makes him super powered like Superman?

Zod is a General and sees it as his duty to protect the Kryptonian civilisation (or whatever’s left of it). Would you opt to rebuild a society where not only everyone needs to adapt, but also eventually becomes godlike? How in the hell would you maintain order? Zod has no idea what kind of consequences this would have. What if one of his lower ranking soldiers rebels? I’m sure they’d have no trouble keeping a normal soldier in line, but a super powered one? Even if they’re super powered too, it’s still extremely threatening. What if reproduction doesn’t work in earthly atmosphere? Going about their traditional and known ways is easily his best bet. Would you take risks with the few lives you have left? Did Krypton ever need super-powered people before? Clearly they were aptly hegemonic already without them.

I see no flaw in Zod’s choice, whatsoever, from his narrow-minded and also information lacking perspective. He choses the most effective and immediately risk-free way for his people - a method he knows well and has probably executed before. Alas, Jor-El’s blasted kid got in the way.


3) A Superman who kills isn’t Superman.

I can simply retype David Guyer’s own words here. In a podcast interview with Empire, he explains that he and Snyder had to convince Chris Nolan to let Superman kill Zod. The reason for this was actually to make Superman become Superman - to show WHY he has such an indomitably strong aversion to killing - because he had to kill the last member of his own species. I think this is a ballsy move and a very good way of humanising Superman and showing that in order to become Superman, he fights battles that he can’t always get the best outcome from. Zod truly didn’t leave Superman any choice, and there was no way to think of actually neutralising Zod at that point, other then by killing him. Zod had acclimatised and clearly stated he was out to kill everyone. Zod had basically become a living super weapon turned on, and such can’t get away. In one move, literally, the story of Superman’s origin takes a turn where it explains he will set out to do everything he can to never have to do this a second time. Let’s not forget that if Bruce Wayne, in Batman Begins, hadn’t been as slow as he was, Bruce Wayne too would’ve killed (his parents’ murderer Joe Chill). The fact that Bruce doesn’t, and Superman does, has nothing to do with a difference in being heroic, but solely in circumstances they find themselves in. In fact, arguably, Superman is more heroic, as he already doesn’t want to kill Zod (who’s just destroyed half a city). Whereas Batman Begisn showed a very young Bruce who tried to go on the path of a villain, but through circumstances out of his control, was shown the light. Joe Chill got shot before Bruce could kill him (bested by a few seconds), which showed him there was a larger whole at work and gave him a direct motivation to fight that criminal whole. In turn, Superman is actually forced to dispatch Zod, and from what I understand from Goyer, this will in fact motivate him to become the Superman we know and love - a perfected hero, one who never has to make the choice between the lesser of two evils, because he is powerful enough to never have to. To be perfect, you need relentless motivation and such comes from tragic experiences. Again, this plays into humanising Superman, and in my opinion, it’s pretty great. Just like Batman Begins was.

What Man of Steel does is it shows Superman has a learning curve. If you can’t deal with that you dismiss the character of Superman into an arc-less character (which, with all due respect, he usually is). Superman clearly mourns his decision and if anything can motivate him to do everything in his power to never have to kill again, it’s this feeling of tragedy. Superman, to me, has never before been this interesting as a character. I think this was a great and gutsy choice the writers made to bring a character arc to Superman, and I very much applaud this specific turn of events.

4) Too much action versus too little story.

The only way I can experience this as valid, is if one rephrases it to: action scenes could’ve been shortened to give more scenes of Clarke’s youth. Because that’s my only real criticism with this film: Jon Kent isn’t established enough as a character. Kevin Costner simply gets too little screen time in my opinion. So I agree with this, only if it means Jon Kent would’ve gotten more scenes out of the action scenes that would be cut.

To say this film simply has too much action scenes is absurd to me, when you consider this character originated from a comic book title called Action Comics. This character is for a large part about action and we’ve never seen a Superman action film with today’s technology. It’s about time they went all out with it. Unless they cut great character scenes for Clarke’s youth in favour of action, this criticism is unfathomable to me. If somebody makes three hours of nothing but Superman having fantastically produced battles, I’d watch it. People play battle games with these characters that’s nothing but punching. So long as it didn’t shove out quality character development (which we don’t know as of yet, we know 75% of the original script made it into the film as Goyer revealed this), I can’t see how you’d perceive this as a fault. It’s not like the action lacks a climax or has a weak build-up.

In fact, if the action were to have been cut down in time, I think it’s role as a climax would’ve been undermined. The World Engine fight needed a build-up to earn it’s epic triumph, and so does the scene in which Superman beats Zod. I actually don’t see that much time that could’ve been cut, but I admit, that the bit that which could’ve, should’ve gone to extending character development, preferably of Jon Kent. Ergo, I don’t agree there’s too much action, insomuch as I critique the film for being perhaps a little imbalanced.

5) Superman is careless and is the cause of unnecessary collateral damage.

This is partly true, and I will defend it by saying this is a very young Superman, who’s inexperienced with using his powers and clearly has a lot to learn. That is not invalid story-writing. In fact, it is story-writing. If you dislike that, sorry, apparently you’re one of those people who can only deal with Superman as nothing but walking perfection. Man of Steel doesn’t provide that, and nor did it ever aim to in any way. You can dislike that, but it’s not bad filmmaking, it’s not a flaw of the film itself in any objectifying way.

More importantly, this critique is also extremely exaggerated. Yes many, many people die, but only in Smallville could Superman have done something about it. At the end scene he was either on the other part of the world, or trying to knock out a bloodthirsty Zod. (“Oh, oh hey Zod, before you punch me in the face because you feel like I destroyed your soul and seek to exact revenge on every living being around me, would you mind stepping outside the city?” “Oh..oh yeah sure Kal, no problem, I can kill everyone on the planet later.” Yeah right, gimme a break.) In fact, in Smallville, he actually does look out for people on multiple occasions. The main point where he is in fact really careless, is during the fight’s opening. BUT, referring to the former paragraph, Superman is inexperienced and never got to land a punch in his life before Zod brutally threatens his mother. Keep in mind he let his father die because he had to restrain himself. It’s completely relatable he’d be absolutely enraged over Zod’s actions and finally, finally in his whole damn life he has a target to fully exert his power on. I’d like to see ANY of the people criticising his actions doing something more controlled if they were in his shoes. His ability to control himself is displayed very clearly throughout the film, but also indicates he’s never had a chance to let himself go. This is the first and only point where he basically just loses it and yes it’s careless, but it’s relatable and explainable. Again, I say, this isn’t bad filmmaking. It fits entirely well and validly into the film’s framework, story, and character development up to that point. There’s no reason to assume Superman will not outgrow this, but this is again a pivotal point where Man of Steel presents a Superman just starting out.


6) Man of Steel glorifies a guiding Jor-El at the expense of a fearful Jonathan Kent, which isn’t true to the comc book character Jon Kent.

Another critique that in my opinion isn’t a valid point with which to accuse Man of Steel of being a bad (Superman) film. Man of Steel wants to realistically portray the consequences of having super-human powers. As an adoptive parent who knows nothing about why his son has these powers, it’s very, VERY responsible to realise these powers can affect WAY more then just their little surroundings some day. What Kent does, and what he does to the point of sacrificing himself for it, is to show Superman the most essential thing a super powered hero must have: restraint. Superman might have godlike powers, but he walks among non-god people. And there’s no telling what they will do, or what he could do to them. It’s better not to take risks with this. And although Superman himself does actually take some risks at points, that’s only all the more display of his inexperience, and it shows he has not fully made the wisdom of Jon Kent’s cautiousness his own (a very archetypical thing of growing up). Some say Jon Kent isn’t shown to teach Superman the American way, buy I’d say this is very American rural-like cautiousness. I don’t see why people say this Jon Kent doesn’t stand for American family upbringing. It seems to me, he does so perfectly. He tries to show his son how to deal with the world he’s living in.

I hope (and expect) Man of Steel 2 to include more youth scenes of Clarke and Jon Kent and develop his character more, because I do agree, if any criticism on Man of Steel can be defended, it’s that Jon Kent had very little room to establish his character’s reasons for bringing Clarke up the way he does. And why that is in fact a great incarnation of Jon Kent.

Basically, they’ve made Jon Kent Superman’s Uncle Ben (“With great power, comes great responsibility.”). It’s a brilliant, modern choice in my opinion. And yes, it is done partly to globalise Superman. But does it go against anything American? No. In fact, looking at America’s history of isolationism and the critique on it’s more recent display as a super power acting as ‘world-police’, it’s nothing if not fitting for a new Superman.



So far the six major criticisms I’ve heard people use to bash this film in a way completely uncalled for in my opinion. If any other Important ones pop up I will add them to this post.

Although I’d say there are a few things keeping Man of Steel from being a masterpiece, like Jon Kent’s low screen time and also the way they forced to escalate Superman’s relationship with Lois (why do that, when you’ve got future films in which to develop this?), I think Man of Steel is a fantastic film and a completely worthy, intriguing, progressive and awesome start for a rebooted Superman, akin to what Batman Begins was for Batman.


Jul 8

(Source: Scarfacekiller)

I’m often asked by parents what advice can I give them to help get kids interested in science? And I have only one bit of advice. Get out of their way. Kids are born curious. Period. I don’t care about your economic background. I don’t care what town you’re born in, what city, what country. If you’re a child, you are curious about your environment. You’re overturning rocks. You’re plucking leaves off of trees and petals off of flowers, looking inside, and you’re doing things that create disorder in the lives of the adults around you.

And so then so what do adults do? They say, “Don’t pluck the petals off the flowers. I just spent money on that. Don’t play with the egg. It might break. Don’t….” Everything is a don’t. We spend the first year teaching them to walk and talk and the rest of their lives telling them to shut up and sit down.

So you get out of their way. And you know what you do? You put things in their midst that help them explore. Help ‘em explore. Why don’t you get a pair of binoculars, just leave it there one day? Watch ‘em pick it up. And watch ‘em look around. They’ll do all kinds of things with it.

- Neil deGrasse Tyson (via senoranelson)

This, so much this.

(Source: anarchisthousewife)

Do we need Captain International?

The Epic Super Hero Summer Blockbuster Action Film, that’s where the money is for Hollywood these days. While superhero films might not be the typical night out for most students of philosophy, there is no denying the level of audience numbers these films reach – in and outside of America. That fact alone makes this cinema from the City of Angels culturally relevant to all of us, not just Americans.

The film that rocked the financial boat in 2012’s cinema was undoubtedly The Avengers – the first ever true-to-the-source-material super hero team-up on the big screen and now the third highest grossing film ever made. The weird thing about this film is its popularity outside of America. It is set in New York City, America (as usual), but the heroes after whom the movie is named are saving the entire world of potential alien enslavement. Who led and executed the defense against this world threat? The heroic men from the Land of the Brave themselves: Americans (and a guy from an alien world resembling Norse mythology, who acts like a Viking, but speaks with a wannabe Shakespearean accent, yet has an American girlfriend and therefore counts. As does the Russian agent who does not even remotely signal anything Russian accept her name).

To boot, the entire operation to keep the earth from being enslaved by an alien race spear-headed (almost literally) by a self-proclaimed God – stepbrother to that Alien Viking with an American girlfriend – is under the authority of… of who? The United Nations? No? NATO then? No…? The G8!? No!? Friggin’ Doctors Without Borders…? Anything even remotely international!? Nope, the answer is four dudes on holographic screens. Yes, these four people – clearly American government to some extent – are the superiors to the boss of the S.H.I.E.L.D. organization (who cares what the acronym means, seriously?). This boss (a black guy; racial diversity: check) in turn gives orders to The Avengers and he feels quite free to deviate from the orders he’s been given by those four TV people as well. Thus, The Avengers, basically the self-proclaimed guardians of Earth, follow orders from four unknown Americans (hold it! One is a woman! Gender diversity: check) who barely have any real control over them.

The most peculiar thing about this is not even the fact that the super hero army of Earth only has to answer to four unspecified, probably undemocratically appointed people in suits whose faces are barely visible. The typical thing here is that a film based on this premise performs exceedingly well in non-American countries, to the point where even internationally it’s exceptionally popular among a very diverse age group (definitely those up to thirty at least).
Statistically speaking, what markets well to Americans cinematically, markets well to pretty much everyone from the developed countries (including South America and many Asian countries). What does the fact that a blatantly American-minded movie is so successful with non-American audiences say about said moviegoers?

These Avengers are explicitly created in defense of “our” Earth. Yet they’re basically Team America, by America, there to protect America. Oh and coincidentally other people too… so long as they like America. (By the way, the leader of the bunch? Captain America.) It’s striking to see how many non-American audiences can so easily identify with a film that basically states America equals The World. Not once is it considered to speak to NATO allies or other world powers, which could clearly make a difference in protecting the Earth from this extraterrestrial threat. One Avenger, an archer (!), is effective in battling the Alien invasion. How about we put that new Joint Strike Fighter to some use!?
Equally baffling is children here in Holland will grow up playing with Captain America toys. Does this signal the fact that, in some cultural way we all can relate to some aspects of American culture by nature? Or does it mean we simply make do with what we get offered? Do Hollywood filmmakers serve our taste, or determine it just like in the fashion industry?

There are plentiful non-Americans at work in Hollywood, and not just British or Australian people. Why then don’t they advocate more internationally enabled heroes? Why don’t more Europeans, or other non-English speakers, advocate these larger-than-life productions from their point of view? Clearly our kids, and my generation who grew up during the nineties, can relate to all these fantastical things coming from America, even if we offer our own cultural identity as well. Does this make us part American, culturally? Should we care if popular heroic icons have specific nationalities differing from ours? Why are we fine with American icons as the Avatars of Good in pop culture…? Captain International, the Hero we deserve. But not the one we need right now?

Mar 8

My Star Wars prequels fan-cut – Rise of the Sith

In short, I’ve edited all three Star Wars prequels down to one massive film.  The highest priority was plot consistency and so I went in not sure whether I would finish it (because I wasn’t sure whether it was possible considering the limited amount of footage). I’ve revised it over the course of a year and am now at what I call revision 7, which clocks in at three and a half hours. I’m a little disappointed with the running time, my aim was about the theatrical running time of Return of the King, to keep some sense of validity in it being one film. However, in keeping to my highest priority, the story simply becomes to incoherent if I cut more. At this point, cutting a few scenes, means cutting the meaning out of entire massive blocks of story and sequences, which makes the point of this project redundant in my opinion (if you want that, just watch a part of the existing films).

Ergo I have, for the moment, accepted this running time, and the upside is that I now have one film that is fully understandable, even for people who know nothing of this franchise. Oddly enough the film feels a tad bit ‘Nolanified’ in that dialogue becomes increasingly more important to follow to receive all necessary information for the plot. Most footage of characters repeating themselves is cut out, and so the density of important scenes plot-wise increases dramatically. This density is somewhat reminiscent of Nolan films, at least, that’s how I feel. (Note that this was never intended, but nevertheless an enjoyable outcome to me personally.)

I’ve edited the continuity in minor aspects, especially within the plot of Episode II. For example, the Genosha battle is quite heavily revised and some major characters aren’t even involved in that part now, where they originally were granted a major role. All of these choices were made to amplify the pacing, plot consistency and or overall story. Although some of these choices are definitely interpretations of the story and characters from my hand, I do aim to respect the initial intentions behind the characters of Lucas. 

To summarise: the film consists of about 45 minutes of episode I footage, about an hour of episode II, and about 1,5 hour of Episode III (easily the least revised footage, as Revenge of the Sith caries the most amount of necessary scenes for the overall story arc). Right now the story is lineair, but I’m toying with the notion of making all the episode I footage non-linearly flashbacks throughout the combined arc of II and III. I’m note sure whether non-lineair, or non-chronological approaches to this material could work over making a simple lineair story arc (the way the films, and this re-cut, both are now). However, I’m open to this hypothetical Revision 8.

My goal has been to make a fun re-cut of the existing films, and to increase the appeal to adult viewers, who feel quite untouched by the more lighthearted elements of the existing prequels. Therefore, my film is not a critique on the existing prequels, it is simply a different form, based on a different intention and target audience. Namely, those who  were solely expecting the grim story of the fall of the Republic, and the rise of the Sith…

I feel that, to at least a basic extent, I’ve succeeded in doing this, and have to my surprise gained a new found respect for many of the performances and work that was put into these prequels.

Lastly, no, unfortunately, the quality of the film is not HD. At the time my hardware wasn’t up to this, and I will not have enough time on my hands to make an entirely new HD version. At least, not soon anyway. It is well viewable however, probably best on an averagely sized TV…

I’m still working on solutions to be able to show it to other people. If you have tips regarding this, or any interest in seeing this re-cut in any way, shape or form, let me know! 


Mar 2

My Film Ratings for 2012 releases

(In no particular order.)

Argo - 7.0

Life of Pi - 8.5

The Dark Knight Rises - 8.6

Cloud Atlas - 9.5

Lincoln - 7.8

Skyfall - 7.0

Chronicle - 7.5

Silver Linings Playbook - 8.2

Django Unchained - 9.0

Zero Dark Thirty - 7.5

Moonrise Kingdom - 8.3

Amazing Spider-man - 7.5

Avengers - 7.3

The Hobbit - 6.6

Dredd - 7.4

Haywire - 7.9

Magic Mike - 7.9

Looper - 6.4

The Perks of Being a Wall Flower - 5.5