Category Archives: Fantasy

Pick Up Your Sickle Sword, Follow Me…

I’m the Bronze Age infantry.

Tribal shock troops

Patch on my shoulder…

Free for the Amazon Kindle right now: the new epic fantasy novel Gods & Proxies.

This is not yet another Tolkien wannabe book. And, like other Virtual Pulp titles, it eschews the “strong female character” and all the accompanying feminist tropes which are obligatory across seemingly all entertainment media, ESPECIALLY fantasy novels.

If I were going to try to emulate some famous fantasy author (which I’m not), it would be Robert E. Howard.

What you have here, kind of, is opposing gods fighting a proxy war via Bronze Age nations. One nation is human, and its enemies are mostly Nephilim (giants, or Titans).

For the small price of zero dollars and no cents, you can indulge in high adventure…for the next few days.

Justice League – A Review

Last year I reviewed Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice and opined on the possibility that the next DC team-up blockbuster might be a formulaic clone of the other superhero movies (of which, the Marvel flicks have rather defined the cookie-cutter).

Well, it happened. Some god-like supervillain wants to control/destroy Earth (domination and destruction are interchangeable in these movies), but first he needs to collect some ancient mystical object with cosmic power…blah blah blah. (In this case it’s three boxes–one guarded by the Amazons, one by the Atlantians, and one by the humans.)

This age-old baddie (“Steppenwolf”) captures two of the boxes, bringing Aquaman and Wonder Woman onto the Batman’s bandwagon to form a super-team and stop him from obtaining the third, or Steppenwolf will achieve total…villainhood…or something.

I rather like Steppenwolf. I also like Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane and the Lovin’ Spoonful. Wonder if one of them will be the next all-powerful supervillain. But I digress.

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So, Superman is still dead from the last blockbuster, which is one reason why the Batman thinks this team is necessary. If you don’t know much about the source material (comic books), then you probably aren’t aware of the characters and team dynamics that get trashed in all the virtue-signaling revamps by screen-adapting creative teams. Batman and Superman were “honorary members” of the Justice League. Obviously Batman had no super powers, but he was the superior tactician of the bunch and therefore the de facto leader of the team when he was there. But now it’s the current year (you mysogonistic bigots!) and Wonder Woman has to be the leader…because vagina. That’s one of the sub-plots of the film–Batman trying to push her into her rightful supreme role.

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Since the main plot is nothing new, I guess I’ll just give you the down-low on the characters, as they are in this depiction.

SUPERMAN: (spoiler alert!…not) He comes back. And he’s got possibly one of the best lines in the movie. At first, after his ressurection, he’s a vengeful anti-hero willing to kill his allies…until Lois Lane gives him a hug. Then he is restored to his Boy Scout super-Samaritan god-dom as fast as you can say “applause-inducing plot device.” Because vagina.

BATMAN: He’s the old, over-the-hill version from Dark Knight Returns in this movie. Some good lines. Same pros and cons from the last movie. At least the writer/director is consistent in this case.

WONDER WOMAN: She’s not just attractive, she’s likeable. Unlike women in real life who think they ARE her.

CYBORG: I don’t remember much about him in the comics–he seemed little more than a token minority character. Here they’ve done a fairly good job fleshing him out and giving him some useful abilities that help the team. Not a marquis character yet, but OK.

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AQUAMAN: He’s basically Wolverine in a different costume, but more effeminate. Oh yeah–he doesn’t have to swim; he sort of flies underwater.

THE FLASH: The character in the TV show is whiny, but bearable. This Flash is the worst incarnation of him I’ve ever seen. Kind of like what the film makers did to Spiderman in Homecoming, only much worse. He’s pathetic. By the time his character arc brings him some backbone, I’m too irritated by the goofy appearance of his costume to pay full attention. They should have just borrowed the one from the Netflix series. This costume looks like something that would be worn to a Gay Pride Bicycle Race.

Nice visuals, of course. Some good dialog. The Batmobile was badass for about 30 seconds, before it (like every other cool multi-million dollar asset in these movies) met its obligatory destruction.

Not a must-see in the theaters. Wait ’till you can stream it at home.

Sword & Supernatural

…That’s what I’m calling this foray into epic fantasy.

I meant to reveal the cover prior to the release of the book. Oops. But here it is now.
I meant to reveal the cover prior to the release of the book. Oops. But here it is now.

As for the setting…for now, all I’m going to say is that it’s not unlike what Robert E. Howard did with his “Hyborian Age.”

I’ll share more on this later, but if you don’t want to wait, you can always buy the kindle version now. The paperback should be out by Christmas, and E-books for non-Kindle readers should be available in February,

Keep Watch for Alt★Hero!

We’ve blogged at length here about the culture war, and we’ve worked (as time and opportunity have permitted) to provide alternatives to The Narrative being rammed down our throats in every medium of pop culture. Comic books have been so blatantly cultural Marxist for so long, many people have given up on them completely, in disgust.

An alternative to the Leftist Hive Mind’s monopoly is long overdue. Maybe, just maybe, it is almost here.

 After reaching its initial funding goal in only four hours, a new right-wing comics series, Alt★Hero, concluded its historic crowdfunding campaign by reaching the $245,000 mark. 2,190 backers signed on to help the alternative superhero series wage cultural war on the social justice-converged comic duopoly of Marvel and DC Comics.

Alt★Hero is being written by prolific Marvel and DC Comics veteran writer Chuck Dixon and six-time Hugo Award Finalist Vox Day. It will be published by Castalia House, Finland’s leading independent publisher.

The series is the creation of game designer Day, who is best known for being a member of GamerGate and publishing the political philosophy bestsellers SJWs Always Lie and SJWs Always Double Down. Alt★Hero features unconventional villains such as Captain Europa of the Global Justice Initiative and controversial heroes such as Michael Martel, a vigilante who drops off criminal undocumented immigrants at the local Immigration and Customs Enforcement office, and Rebel, a Southern girl whose superhero outfit incorporates the Confederate battle flag.

The breakout star of the campaign, however, has been Dynamique, a chain-smoking French model whose indifference to current events is only surpassed by her pragmatism.

“This is only the beginning,” said Alt★Hero creator Vox Day, who is writing six volumes of the series as well as co-designing the role-playing game. “Fans and retailers alike despise how Marvel and DC are trashing characters they have cherished for generations. That is why it’s not going to be too long before you’re going to start seeing Alt★Hero games, and eventually, movies.”

“I have an entire year’s worth of continuity funded to build a cast of characters in a brand new universe. Very inspiring, Very exciting,” said industry legend Chuck Dixon, the longtime Batman writer and co-creator of Bane, who is writing the first six volumes of the Alt★Hero series Avalon as well as a standalone novel entitled Avalon: Vendetta. “The city of Avalon is already a very real place in my mind. I think readers are going to enjoy visiting.”

“Astonishing demand,” added journalist Mike Cernovich on Twitter in response to the news that Alt★Hero had shattered the previous record for a new comic being crowdfunded.

In reaching 978 percent of its original $25,000 goal, the Alt★Hero crowdfunding campaign was the most successful in history for a new comics launch, and is the 22nd most-funded of the 10,553 historic comics-related crowdfunding campaigns.

What I hope is that Alt★Hero doesn’t descend into the poo-slinging, purity signaling “muh white nationalism” circlejerk that consumes so much of the “Alt-Right.” With writer Chuck Dixon involved at such a high level, I tend to doubt it, but we’ll see. I’m at least going to give Alt★Hero a chance. I continued to waste my hard-earned cash on irritating drivel from Marvel and DC  even after being sucker-punched multiple times, so it’s only fair I give Alt★Hero the same chance(s). I’m a backer of the Alt★Hero crowd sourcing campaign, so I should get to see the first several comics, digitally, once they’re released.

I hope it is a truly right-wing comic, but actually, I’d be happy with an apolitical endeavor that just concentrates on good storytelling, without contriving all the obligatory sodomiphilia and Grrrrrl Power tropes tripe which usually causes me to stop reading /watching something, never to finish.

The Last Kingdom (Seasons 1, 2) – a Review

I almost didn’t even give this series a chance. Hollywood and television have me so gunshy, I doubted they could produce anything that won’t nauseate me. And the BBC, from what little I know, is brimming over with cultural Marxixts just like every other long-established media/entertainment organization. To trust them with anything even remotely historical? Forget it.

Then I found out it was based on Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon Tales. I’ve read some of Cornwell’s fiction (Agincourt and a few of the Sharpe novels). He’s a competent storyteller and he doesn’t butcher historical flow or details enough for me to take exception. So, “Once more into the breach,” sez I.

I guess you could say I semi-binge-watched the first two seasons on Netflix–finishing them in about a week or so.

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The Premise:

In the late 9th Century, a Saxon noble and his heir are slain by a band of Danes a’viking through Bebbanburg in Northumbria. The lone surviving son was baptized and named Uhtred before being captured by the Danes.

Earl Ragnar spares the boy’s life, respecting his courage and truculence, and raises him as a Dane along with a Saxon girl named Brita. After growing into a man, and losing his adopted family (via treachery from other Danes), he becomes a vassal of Alfred, king of Wessex…”the last kingdom.” (Vikings have run roughshod over all other kingdoms in the British isles.)

Relevance:

With all the current brouhaha by the “alt-right” about race, immigration/invasion and “Magic Dirt” vs. “Magic DNA,” this series couldn’t be more timely. Genetically, Uhtred is a Saxon; yet his attitude, disposition, customs, etc. are decidedly Danish. This duality makes him an outsider in both worlds (not because everyone on both sides reject him out-of-hand, but because his ambition to rule Beddanburg causes him to side against the invaders; while his Danish weltanshuang motivates a contemptuous disdain for the Saxons and their ways.) Though he wields completely different weapons for a completely different type of warfare, Uhtred during the viking expeditions is not unlike Thomas Sowell during the USA’s present Cold Civil War, in that they are both slogging through similar conundrums–their demographic profile contradicting their deeply-rooted belief system.

The Religious Aspect:

Although Islam and other religions get a pass, Christianity is universally hated by the string-pullers with the monopoly on resources in the entertainment industry. It would be foolish to assume Christianity would get a fair shake in this series–especially given the behavior of the Roman Catholic Church through history. And, the historical backdrop for Last Kingdom smacks of religious conflict. The peoples of present-day Great Britain were Catholic during the period depicted, while the Northmen were still unmitigated pagans. How could you tell a story in this setting that ignored the religious aspect?

So of course the series takes cheap shots at Christianity, through the nominally Christian characters. But it is usually understated enough to ignore.

Historical Accuracy:

Alfred of Wessex and some other characters are real historical figures, while Uhtred and many others are fictional. Historians know a lot about Alfred because his life is very well-documented for the time. But as for the rest…well, it was the Dark Ages, folks. We are familiar with some generalities of the period…that the Vikings were raising hell in western Europe, for instance (and allegedly are the culprits who made London Bridge fall down); that the Catholic Church was growing in power; that the traditions of Roman civilization had given way to the early stages of feudalism…but there are just too many big, gaping holes in the historical record to ascertain specifics about much of what went on.

It wasn’t a question of if, but when the creative team would unleash their arsenal of ludicrous Grrrl Power tropes in the series. Surprisingly, the obligatory butt-kicking Womyn Warriors didn’t rear their preposterous heads until late in the First Season. Even more surprising: this revisionist hogwash was dialed down quickly enough to prevent me from giving up on the series. I truly am curious what caused the correction, but relieved nonetheless.

The series creators brought a technique to the screen I consider ingenious: When revealing geographic locations via subtitles, the ancient name is displayed first, then it transforms into the name it is known by today. As someone fascinated by the evolution of language, I really appreciate this gimmick.

lastkingdom2

Other Stuff:

I’m not an expert on Dark Ages melee techniques, but it seems to me when you have a shield and your enemy is swinging a sword or axe at you, you would use the shield to block or deflect the blow. Evidently, though, the shield is just an ornament, and you block a swinging sword with your own sword. Nevermind that banging two metal blades together repeatedly converts both of them to crude, dull saws–this is what BBC fight correographers have decided is the logical tactic.

It’s easy to identify the important characters on this show, because they don’t wear helmets, even in combat. I’ve remarked before about the wisdom of refusing to protect your head when weapons will be streaking toward it, so I won’t completely rehash it here.

Suffice it to say that Uhtred’s brain usually operates like somebody’s who has fought in many a melee without a helmet. Watching him navigate the ethno-political waters of 9th Century Britain is like watching the Johnson Administration navigate through the Vietnam conflict…in slow motion. For the entire first season, it’s a safe bet that in any given situation, Uhtred will choose the most  idiotic course of action possible, then follow-up with a rash decision to make matters even worse. In the second season he seems to have learned a little self-discipline, thankfully, and dramatic conflict is generated in other ways.

I almost titled this post Mascara Kingdom because, for a few episodes, several of the male actors were painted with black eye shadow. It stuck out like a mosh pit at a royal ball. Seems like one character in Game of Thrones was made up that way too, if I remember correctly. Don’t know what the purpose is, but I’m glad they seem to have given up on that effort–it looked pretty stupid.

I might watch a third season of Daredevil if it comes to Netflix, but no other TV show has proven worth my time in several years. This show I plan to watch more of–and might even read the books it was based on, if that tells you anything.

 

Marvel Comics Regains its Senses?

Probably not. This is more likely economic reality putting the temporary kibosh on their agenda.

Comic book fans are among the most loyal fans. Few things run them off of their favorite books. For some reason, Marvel decided to do three of the most likely things to cost them fans: remove their favorite characters, tarnish the histories of those characters, and insult the fans who complained. The latter proved most insidious because the insults accused fans of racism, sexism, homophobia, and bizarrely resorted to stereotypes about comic book fans.

As Marvel did this, their new politically correct fan base proved not to be fans at all. As Marvel published book after pandering book, the books enjoyed initial high or good sales only to drop most of their audience within the first quarter. The prime example of this is the recent Black Panther book, which lost 70% of its audience in one month.

As far as I’m concerned, they have permanently lost me as a reader. Both DC and Marvel have gone too far off the deep end to ever get me back. They may dial it down a little bit for a while but I don’t believe for a second that they’re going to abandon trying to push The Narrative.

High Couch of Silistra by Janet Morris

Guest Post by Jim Morris

High Couch is a classic. It is also, so far as I know, sui generis. In a long life of writing and editing in which I have written nine books, edited more than two hundred and read thousands I do not know of another book like it, not even remotely. On one level it is an exciting sci-fi adventure. On another it is a sword and sorcery epic, and on yet a third it answers Freud’s famous question, “What do women want?”

A brilliant woman has decided to give the game away, and guess what? Feminists have attacked her for it.

The writing style is heroic, but readable and fun. The characters are recognizable, the plot is satisfying, and the world it creates is like nothing you have seen before, but is still believable. It also contains what I consider the most erotic single sentence in all the thousands of books I have read:

“Flesh toy, come here!”

If that doesn’t set up a scene in your mind then you have no business reading fiction.

I’m not going to give the plot away. I’m just going to recommend it. Highly.

Janet Morris began writing in 1976 and has since published more than 30 novels, many co-authored with her husband Chris or others. She has contributed short fiction to the shared universe fantasy series Thieves World, in which she created the Sacred Band of Stepsons, a mythical unit of ancient fighters modeled on the Sacred Band of Thebes. She created, orchestrated, and edited the fantasy series Heroes in Hell, writing stories for the series as well as co-writing the related novel, The Little Helliad, with Chris Morris. She wrote the bestselling Silistra Quartet in the 1970s, including High Couch of Silistra, The Golden Sword, Wind from the Abyss, and The Carnelian Throne.

This quartet had more than four million copies in Bantam print alone, and was translated into German, French, Italian, Russian and other languages.

In the 1980s, Baen Books released a second edition. The third edition is the Author’s Cut edition, newly revised by the author for Perseid Press.

Captain America: Civil War is More Than a Slugfest

In the Silver Age of comics, when Marvel became a serious competitor for DC, there was a distinct contrast in the storytelling styles of the two publishers, especially in the team titles (DC’s Justice League of America and Marvel’s Avengers, primarily). While DC spent most of its comic panels on plotting, Marvel’s approach was something more like: “Forget this silly script treatment–let’s have somebody fight!”

The “Marvel Misunderstanding” subplot became an inside joke with comic book readers–when there were no supervillains handy, excuses were dreamed up to have Marvel’s heroes duke it out with each other.

CAIM

The difference between Marvel’s characters on the silver screen and in comic book pages is almost as drastic as the spy novels of Ian Fleming compared to the cinematic James Bond in the Roger Moore days. Still, we got a little “Marvel Misunderstanding” throwback in the first Avengers flick.

As the title of this movie (“Civil War”) suggests, most of the screen time is dedicated to fraternal conflict among Marvel’s big screen pantheon. But not due to a misunderstanding–because of a fundamental disagreement about “oversight.”

Collateral damage caused in the previous Marvel movies has caused various globalist interests to call for “hero control” (my term, thank-you).

Iron Man, at one point a free market capitalist hero, is now more of a corporatist bleeding heart who believes the answer is for the Avengers to be leashed by the United Nations. Now there is a brilliant quantum leap in logic: collateral damage caused by saving the planet from despotic monsters must be curbed by putting the good guys under the direct control of an organization with a horrific track record, run exclusively by unelected bureaucrats who don’t believe in representative government and are not accountable to any people anywhere in any way.

Introducing, in the red, white & blue corner: the Title Character! With him are Scarlet Witch, Hawkeye, Falcon and Ant Man,
Introducing, in the red, white & blue corner: the Title Character! With him are Scarlet Witch, Bucky (AKA the Winter Soldier), Hawkeye, Falcon and Ant Man,

On the other side is Captain America. He doesn’t spell it out like I did, but amazingly, he senses the danger in such an arrangement, that would make the problem they’re trying to solve even worse (which is pretty much the de facto purpose of the United Nations).

Interesting analyses can be drawn from this scenario. It can be a metaphor for the whole “gun control” struggle or, more broadly, the march toward police statehood, and the belated reaction to it by Americans who prefer to be free men, partly represented in the Trumpening. Again, it’s amazing how accurately Tony Stark and Steve Rogers represent their respective sides, considering Hollywood’s blatant myopic axe-grinding in every other movie touching on the subject.

Marvel’s done a great job with characterization and humor in their movies, and that continues here, even though this might be their most somber one yet. Suddenly there is a whole subplot regarding Stark’s parents which affects his frame of mind in this movie. Robert Downey Jr. pulls it off with his usual panache.

...And, in this corner...the Invincible Shellhead, with a record of one knockout, one not-so-bad sequel, and one idiotic swan song! Backing him up is Black Widow, Black Panther, the Vision...
…And, in this corner…the Invincible Iron Man, with a record of one knockout, one not-so-bad sequel, and one idiotic swan song! Backing him up is Black Widow, Black Panther, the Vision, and War Machine.

There’s a lot of character tweaking I found annoying, as a one-time comic afficionado. Of course, I quit reading comics as they became 100% SJW converged, so a lot has probably changed since then. Black Widow is about 20X more badass than in the comics I read, but she has been that way in all the movies, because vagina. It was cool to see Black Panther on the big screen, but he punches way above his weight here, too. But the most annoying is Spiderman.

Apparently the webslinger is getting yet another reboot. This time Peter Parker has a younger, attractive Aunt May, and is given his costume by Tony Stark who, somehow, has discovered his secret identity without ever having met him. Normally Spiderman would be the heavy hitter of all the heroes in this story (when the character was introduced by Stan Lee originally, only Thor, the Thing and the Hulk were stronger), but he is reduced mostly to comedy relief. The way he was brought in, and dismissed, makes him seem like just an afterthought in the script. Too bad, because the actor played him better than any other has, IMO.

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…With special guest cameo by Spiderman 3.1! Or is it Spiderman XP? Spiderman Vista?

Physical prowess is treated inconsistently in every superhero adaptation for big and small screen. Of course part of this is necessary to conform to the feminist aspect of The Narrative. Much of it is no doubt contrived to make scenes more dramatic. Then there is the star clout of Downey Jr., who frankly got more attention in this film than the title character did. Spiderman and Captain America are not played by actors worshipped to the degree he is; therefore the characters must be depicted as inferior to his, one way or the other.

In any case, most moviegoers don’t know much about the source material anyway, so this should be a fun diversion for a couple hours.

The Latest Wonder Woman

Character reboots are commonplace these days. In a pop culture spectrum so bankrupt of creativity that the only movies produced anymore are remakes, sequels, adaptations (often of old TV shows that weren’t so good to begin with), thinly-disguised ripoffs of other movies (the Fast & Furious franchise started with a Point Break knockoff set in a fantasy streetracing scene; Avatar was Dances With Wolves in outer space, etc.) or an attempted fusion of previous successful movies; and the bulk of TV programming is some sort of lame “reality show” because the industry lacks the imagination to conceive anything more interesting, re-forming an established character in one’s own image is lauded as some sort of seminal breakthrough. Seems like comic book characters (one of the ores constantly mined by Hollywood) are revamped, and their histories revised, every 3-5 years.

The Social Justice League of America celebrates diversity. The blond-haired Aquaman just wasn't inclusive enough.
The Social Justice League of America celebrates diversity. The blond-haired Aquaman just wasn’t inclusive enough.

Wonder Woman is a character whose essence needs no revamping to fit the current Narrative being rammed down our throats incessantly. She fit that Narrative from her very debut in the 1940s. She was probably the very first Amazon Superninja to appear in American pop culture, and from the very beginning was intended to be a social conditioning propaganda tool. But despite all this, her inclusion in Dawn of Justice doesn’t bother me much.

Wonder Woman has been a member of DC’s superteam the Justice League going way back; and was a founding member of the “Justice Society of America” before that. She was good-to-go for the leftist pop-culture svengalis already, so they didn’t have to feminize an established male character or otherwise ruin the work of earlier creators.

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Perhaps it is fitting that an exotic beauty was cast to play the Amazon. After all, she comes from “Paradise Island,” an all-female society closed off from the rest of the world since ancient times. So it’s appropriate that her accent sounds different from ours, and that she doesn’t look like a WASP. (However, it appears that DC/Hollywood also intends to ethnicize the Flash and Aquaman, which is getting annoying.)

Do you imagine it's an accident that the female is shown on point when physical combat is imminent; or that the males are merely guarding her flanks?
Do you imagine it’s an accident that the female is shown on point when physical combat is imminent; or that the males are merely guarding her flanks?

At some point after I quit reading comics, I guess Wonder Woman took to carrying a Bronze Age sword and shield, in addition to her golden lasso. This only makes sense, if she’s going to be fighting gargantuan baddies like Doomsday. What doesn’t make sense is that her ancient bronze shield can withstand a Kryptonian’s heat vision without a scratch, when heat vision slices through every other form of matter except other Kryptonians. Because vagina, I guess.

WWLindaCarterAnother development is that her red, white and blue colors have been replaced by some muddy red-brown metal flake scheme. This also makes sense. First of all, those colors represent oppression (college girls being forced to pay for their own birth control, for instance). Remember: WW was never an American in the first place. And all the big screen superheroes wear costumes with drab color schemes. Even Superman, who has never needed camouflage or to avoid attracting attention, wears a costume that looks like it’s gone a few months without being washed.

Might be hard to see here, but the dude just to the right of her looks a lot like a Native American. Explain THAT one.

I don’t know if this ties in with comic book revisionism, or is original to this screenplay, but Wonder Woman is apparently a WWI veteran now. Bruce Wayne/Batman finds an old photograph from 1918 that shows her with an odd assortment of guerillas (in Belgium, if memory serves).

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Diana Prince looks even better in the red dress when Bruce Wayne first meets her…but I couldn’t find an image of that.

Maybe the most interesting thing about Wonder Woman in this movie is how Gal Gadot’s performance fits into a red pill socio-sexual understanding. Gadot is far more attractive as Diana Prince than as the Amazon heroine. Upon reflection, it’s obvious why: she is very feminine when incognito in the secret identity, as opposed to her super-identity as an extremely masculine brawler with tits.

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“I just don’t understand why I can’t get dates!”

Only fetishists, white knights and sexual deviants find such a gender-bent individual even remotely attractive; no matter how much skin she shows or how well she fills out a skimpy costume.

Batman Vs. Superman is a Mixed-Bag Epic

And I do mean “epic” in the classic sense. The Lex Luthor character (more on him later) can’t stop reminding us that Superman is a god; that he must battle against man; and Lex makes repeated references to Greek mythology that must have also been on the minds of Siegel and Schuster when they dreamed up their “super-man” some 80 years ago.

By the end of the movie, the last son of Krypton does prove himself to be a Messiah figure of sorts…again.

Mythology was certainly on Frank Miller’s mind some 30 years ago when he set about changing the Batman mythos forever. Big-screen Batman adaptations have paid homage to The Dark Knight Returns since 1989. But none more than this one. The showdown between the Man of Steel and the Caped Crusader was ripped almost directly from Miller’s mini-series. Both the catalyst and the result were different, and the Batman was determined to win this time (rather than intentionally taking a dive and faking his own death as in Miller’s yarn).

Retro Batman costume on the left; powered armor on the right which he wore to battle Superman in this movie and in Dark Knight Returns.
Retro Batman costume on the left; powered armor on the right which he wore to battle Superman in this movie and in Dark Knight Returns.

Also, having been something of a superhero afficionado up until the time of Dark Knight Returns, I am pretty confident that Miller was the first one to overtly depict Superman as an earth-bound god.

Dawn of Justice is a symphony of spectacular destruction with a lot going for it. First of all, as desperate as they must be to duplicate the success of their rival, DC did not cut-and-paste the Marvel Studios formula and insert their own characters. I was a little worried that a Justice League flick might be a thinly-veiled Avengers clone (and the next one might very well prove to be), so kudos to DC for telling their own story about their three all-time most stalwart characters.

Second, although there were smatterings of action along the way, the director opted for a slow, tense build toward the epic finale. It reminds me somewhat of how Akira Kurosawa paced some of my favorite samurai films, driving viewers to the edge of their seats, begging for an explosive, violent extravaganza to settle the conflict. (And boy, this movie delivers, with the stunning visuals and rip-snorting special effects comic book fans want in a film adaptation, but were simply not possible technologically until relatively recently.)

galgadotMy reaction to the casting leans positive. Superman/Clark Kent was portrayed well–it’s a darker, edgier Superman than the historical model, but the actor pulls it off adequately. His physical movements do seem a bit stiff, however. The actress who plays Wonder Woman/Diana Prince also did quite well, though she is such exquisite eye candy that her acting is something of an afterthought to a red-blooded heterosexual male. I have a lot to say about her (the character, more than the actress) that I’ll probably reserve for a seperate post. And the hot topic ever since casting was first announced, of course, is Batman/Bruce Wayne. It’s really not as bad as some might fear. I would have preferred someone other than Michael Keaton in 1989; and I would have preferred someone other than Ben Affleck in 2016. However, Affleck did OK. He was much less situationally aware (especially during fight scenes) than the Batman of comic book canon…but really, all the screen versions of the character have been.

I already mentioned that the tension builds quite nicely to the climax; but the plot is not without its weaknesses. The whole thing seems like a forced contrivance if you examine it too closely. And the flashbacks/dreams/visions were a touch overdone–with the Batman, particularly. Superman does undertake a successful vision quest in the midst of the film, which I would have appreciated more, had I not already been overexposed to the unnecessary (and at one point, confusing) visions/nightmares/flashbacks of Bruce Wayne.batmanvssuperman

There were some impediments to the suspension of disbelief. For instance: if nuclear weapons work differently in this alternate universe (where masked vigilantes and “meta-humans” exist) than they do in our universe, then that should really be established beforehand.

Every director wants to put his/her “own stamp” on the material s/he’s adapting, and this movie was no exception. This is unfortunate with regards to two characters in particular.

ALFRED: Certainly the character has evolved. Again, the first and biggest step may have been in Miller’s mini-series when he revealed that the Wayne’s butler was a “combat medic” who apparently was a Wayne household staple all Bruce’s life, instead of coming on the scene after the war on crime began and discovering Bruce’s nocturnal activities later. The Gotham TV show took it another step by making Alfred a former British Commando who teaches young Bruce how to fight. And this movie picks up from there, basically turning Alfred into Batman’s command center, and at times the brains of the operation. Yawn. Maybe the transformation of Alfred into Jarvis will be completed in the next character reboot and he’ll simply be an artificial intelligence in the Batcomputer with a British accent. Neither comic book writers nor Hollywood directors ever tire of fixing what’s not broken.

MARK ZUCKERBERG I mean LEX LUTHOR: I’m not sure if the actor was trying to channel Heath Ledger’s Joker performance or Jim Carey’s abysmal Riddler interpretation. Whatever he was going for, it was lame. Luthor has historically been an evil genius, and that is how the character works best. Some left-wing “visionary” in the 1980s turned him into an evil capitalist caraciture from Karl Marx’s dystopian fantasies, and over time the criminal genius aspect of the character has been forgotten. With this movie the next step has been forced in his devolution, so that now he is an evil capitalist LUNATIC with an abusive father, tortured childhood, blah blah blah. Certainly there are supervillains which this cliche fits. Lex Luthor is not one of them.

Oh yeah: there’s also another bad choice in this category.

SOME SENATOR WITH A WEIRD VOICE: A character made necessary only by an unnecessary subplot that was tacked on and is redundant of the Batman’s motive for opposing Superman. She’s a Democrat who is the opposite of any real-life Democrat (she’s concerned about individual rights, Constitutional limitations on power, etc.) but exactly the image Democrats attempt to portray to the gullible electorate. And the masquerade usually succeeds, with the abettment of the press, academia and pop culture (including/especially Hollywood).

There’s a lot more I could say about Dawn of Justice, but this should be enough information for you to decide whether it’s worth the time and ticket price. Wonder Woman will get her own post.