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His Name Is … Savage! Returns this December

That’s right! Gil Kane’s 1968 creation will be returning to the world of comics with new adventures starting in December through Paper Movies. His Name Is … Savage! for those who are unfamiliar is a short lived noir comic with a story you could picture the likes of James Bond having to endure. After Gil Kane had passed in 2000, few people thought they’d ever see more of this rather obscure creation from the man that brought us characters like Hal Jordan and Iron Fist. 

Writing this reboot of His Name Is … Savage! is veteran comics writer Steven Grant whose known for his work on comics like Punisher and The Avengers. Illustrating this return is up and coming artist Jesus Antonio Hernandez Portaveritas with colorists Falk Haensel and Raul Manriquez. The new logo and lettering was done by multi-Ringo Award nominated letterer Taylor Esposito who also contributed to ComicMIx’s Mine! anthology. 

For a recent interview with Steven Grant about his work on His Name Is … Savage! as well as more information on what Paper Movies will be publishing soon, check out this Deadline article.

Prey Stalks Homes Nov. 5

PREY Synopsis
This horror-thriller Hyde Park Entertainment, ImageNation and Blumhouse Productions with Director Franck Khalfoun (Amityville: The Awakening) follows Toby Burns (Logan Miller), a millennial coldly floating through life and disconnected from his family. After his father is tragically killed in a carjacking, Toby is left stricken with guilt. He is begrudgingly enrolled in a “Lost and Found” program, in which he will spend three days and three nights on a remote jungle island. Toby soon finds that this “uninhabited” island is not so lonely when he meets a mysterious girl named Madeleine (Kristine Froseth). It soon becomes clear that neither of them are safe here and time is running out. Someone or SOMETHING bloodthirsty lurks in the jungle, and Toby must find a way off this island before becoming its PREY…
Type: DVD
Number of discs: 1
Running Time: 85 minutes
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Aspect Ratio: 16×9 2.39 (Letterbox)
Audio: English Dolby 5.1
Subtitles: English CC, SDH
Rated: Rated PG-13 for violence, bloody images, terror, and brief strong language.
Written by: David Coggeshall, Franck Khalfoun
Directed by: Franck Khalfoun
Starring: Logan Miller, Kristine Froseth

DSE’s legal views are so cockeyed, but amici briefers are taking our side!

The appeal still grinds onward, Dr. Seuss hasn’t quit,
’cause they’ve got lots of moolah to indulge their… snit.
But we’re pleased to announce and happy to report
more people are taking our side in the court.
We fight to express, and these people agreed
the expressions created are something we need.
So let it be heard throughout the whole land
that these types of mashups ought not to be banned!

Many have helped us to fight shibboleths
So in no real order, we must thank (deep breaths…)

Philip Malone and his crew at Stanford,
and everyone on OTW’s board.
Hat tip, Dave and Mags! Grazie, Public Knowledge!
Thanks, Francesca Coppa from Muhlenberg College!
And Dogan and Gerhardt and Grinvald and Ramsey,
Tushnet and Litman and Loren and Lemley,
McGerevan, Grynberg, McKenna, and Sibley,
Samuelson, Stallman, and UC at Berkeley,
and the scholars at Harvard Law’s Cyberlaw Clinic…
you all have given advice that’s rabbinic.
Such great assistance just fills us with glee–

And to the appellants: “EFF You, Dee Ess Eee!”

If you’d like to see what amici makes clear,
you can read all their filings here, here, and here.
And while the court ruling is in legal flux,
if you have cash to spare, we could sure use the bucks.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), along with Public Knowledge, the Organization for Transformative Works, Professor Francesca Coppa, comic book writer Magdalene Visaggio, and author David Mack, all ably represented by Harvard Law School’s Cyberlaw Clinic, urged the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on Friday to uphold the decision that ComicMix, author David Gerrold, artist Ty Templeton, and editor Glenn Hauman didn’t infringe copyrights in the Dr. Seuss classic “Oh The Places You’ll Go!” with their work,  “Oh The Places You’ll Boldly Go!”—a mash-up of Dr. Seuss and Star Trek themes.

The book combines elements found in Dr. Seuss children’s books, like the look of certain characters and landscapes, with themes and characters from the science fiction series Star Trek, to create a new, transformative work of creative expression, the amici curiae said in a brief filed Friday.

Dr. Seuss Enterprises, which licenses Seuss material, sued the book’s creators for copyright infringement. A lower court correctly concluded that the way in which the “Boldly” book borrows and builds upon copyrighted material in the Dr. Seuss book constitutes fair use under U.S. copyright law.

“The fair use doctrine recognizes that artists and creators must have the freedom to build upon existing culture to create new works that enrich, entertain, and amuse the public,” said EFF Legal Director Corynne McSherry. “Fair use is the safety valve that ensures creators like the authors of ‘Oh The Places You’ll Boldly Go!’ don’t have to beg permission from a copyright holder in order to make works that express new and unique ideas.”

“Oh The Places You’ll Boldly Go!” takes characters and images from five Dr. Seuss books and remakes them into comedic depictions of Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, and various Star Trek creatures. The book’s visual puns—the multi-color saucer from the cover of “Oh The Places You’ll Go!” is used to create a new kind of starship Enterprise, while a Dr. Seuss character referred to as a “fix-it-up-chappie” is reimagined as Scotty, the ship’s chief engineer—are a form of commentary on the Seuss and Star Trek worlds.

“‘Boldly’s’ creative adaptation of Dr. Seuss works is an example of artistic expression that would be stifled by overly restrictive application of copyright law,” said McSherry.

via EFF’s Deep Links Blog

Universal Soldier Reports for 4K Duty

Two iconic action stars join forces when Universal Soldier arrives on 4K Ultra HD™ Combo Pack (plus Blu-ray™ and Digital) and Digital 4K November 5 from Lionsgate. Just in time for Roland Emmerich’s (Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow, 2012) World War II action epic Midway to hit theaters, Universal Soldier stars Jean-Claude Van and Dolph Lundgren, alongside Ally Walker, Ed O’Ross. Experience four times the resolution of full HD with the 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack, bringing entertainment to life through ultra-vivid picture quality. Available for the very first time in this absolutely stunning format, the Universal Soldier 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack will include audio commentaries, an alternate ending, multiple featurettes, and will be available for the suggested retail price of $22.99.
Soldiers Luc Deveraux (Jean-Claude Van Damme) and Sgt. Andrew Scott (Dolph Lundgren) killed each other in Vietnam. But their demise proves to be just the beginning for the U.S. government, which brings both men back to life decades later for a secret anti-terrorism program.

  • Audio commentary by Roland Emmerich, Dean Devlin, Jean-Claude Van Damme, and Dolph Lundgren
  • Audio commentary by Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin
  • “A Tale of Two Titans” Featurette
  • “Guns, Genes, and Fighting Machines” Featurette
  • Alternate Ending
  • “Behind the Scenes” Featurette
  • Trailer

Jean-Claude Van Damme      Double Impact, Hard Target, Bloodsport
Dolph Lundgren                      Rocky IV, Johnny Mnemonic, The Expendables 2
Ally Walker                              While You Were Sleeping, Kazaam, Profiler
Ed O’Ross                              Dick Tracy, Red Heat, Lethal Weapon
Jerry Orbach                          Law & Order, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Dirty                                                            Dancing
Year of Production: 1992
Title Copyright: © 1992 STUDIOCANAL. All Rights Reserved.
Type: Theatrical Release
Rating: R for strong graphic violence, and for strong language.
Genre: Action, Adventure, Science Fiction
Closed Captioned: NA
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Feature Running Time: 103 Minutes
4K Ultra HD™ Format: 2160p Ultra High Definition 16×9 (2.40:1) Presentation, Dolby Vision
Blu-ray Format: 1080p High Definition 16×9 (2.40:1) Presentation 
4K Audio Status: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master AudioTM, Spanish Stereo DTS-HD Master AudioTM
Blu-ray Audio Status: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master AudioTM, Spanish Stereo DTS-HD Master AudioTM

Angel has Fallen Coming to Disc in Nov.

Angel has Fallen Coming to Disc in Nov.

SANTA MONICA, CA (October 9, 2019) – The latest stand-alone installment of the full-throttle Has Fallen action series comes home when Angel Has Fallen arrives on Digital November 12 and on 4K Ultra HD™ Combo Pack (plus Blu-ray and Digital), Blu-ray™ Combo Pack (plus DVD and Digital), DVD, and On Demand November 26 from Lionsgate. Filled with edge-of-your-seat action set pieces, explosive moments, and jaw-dropping hand-to-hand combat, the franchise is “bigger and badder than ever” (Andrew Freund, Dish Nation – FOX TV). The film stars Gerard Butler (300, Law Abiding Citizen, The Bounty Hunter), Oscar® winner Morgan Freeman (2005, Million Dollar Baby, Best Supporting Actor), Jada Pinkett Smith (Collateral, The Matrix Revolutions, Gotham), Lance Reddick (John Wick franchise, White House Down, Jonah Hex), Tim Blake Nelson (Leaves of Grass, Fantastic Four, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs), Oscar® nominee Nick Nolte (1992, The Prince of Tides, Best Actor; 1999, Affliction, Best Actor; 2012, Warrior, Best Supporting Actor), and Danny Huston (The Constant Gardner, Yellowstone). Story by Creighton Rothenberger & Katrin Benedikt, written for the screen by Robert Mark Kamen and Matt Cook & Ric Roman Waugh, and directed by Ric Roman Waugh.
When there is an assassination attempt on U.S. President Allan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman), his trusted confidant, Secret Service Agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler), is wrongfully accused and taken into custody. After escaping from capture, he becomes a man on the run and must evade his own agency and outsmart the FBI in order to find the real threat to the president. Desperate to uncover the truth, Banning turns to unlikely allies to help clear his name, keep his family from harm, and save the country from imminent danger.
Take home Angel Has Fallen and immerse yourself in the action-packed world with exclusive special features, including six never-before-seen making-of featurettes, which breakdown what it took to make this explosive film. Experience four times the resolution of full HD with the 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack, which includes Dolby Vision, bringing entertainment to life through ultra-vivid picture quality. When compared to a standard picture, Dolby Vision can deliver spectacular colors never before seen on a screen, highlights that are up to 40 times brighter, and blacks that are 10 times darker. Additionally, the 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack features Dolby Atmos, which will transport viewers from an ordinary moment into an extraordinary experience with moving audio that flows all around them. Fans will feel like they’re inside the action as the sounds of people, places, things, and music come alive with breathtaking realism and move throughout the space.
 The Angel Has Fallen 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack, Blu-ray Combo Pack, and DVD will be available for the suggested retail price of $42.99, $39.99, and $29.95, respectively.

  • “Even Angels Fall: The Story” Featurette
  • “Someone to Watch Over Me: New Blood” Featurette
  • “Calling All Angels: Casting” Featurette
  • “True Faith: Authenticity” Featurette
  • “Fight for You: Stunts and Action” Featurette
  • “Earth Angel: Recreating DC” Featurette

“Angel Declassified” 3-Part Audio Commentary with Director Ric Roman Waugh

Program Information:

Year of Production: 2019
Title Copyright: Angel Has Fallen © 2019 Fallen Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Artwork & Supplementary Materials © 2019 Lions Gate Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Type: Theatrical Release
Rating: R for violence and language throughout.
Genre: Action, Thriller
Closed-Captioned: N/A
Subtitles: Spanish, English SDH
Feature Run Time: 121 Minutes
4K Ultra HD Format: 2160p Ultra High Definition 16×9 (2.39:1) Presentation with Dolby Vision
BD Format: 1080p High Definition 16×9 (2.39:1) Presentation
DVD Format: 16×9 (2.39:1) Presentation
4K Audio: English Dolby Atmos, Spanish and French 5.1 Dolby Audio™, English Descriptive Audio, English 2.0 Dolby Audio Optimized for Late-Night Listening
BD Audio: English Dolby Atmos, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Audio, English Descriptive Audio, English 2.0 Dolby Audio Optimized for Late-Night Listening
DVD Audio: English 5.1 Dolby Audio, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Audio, English Descriptive Audio

Krypton: The Complete Second & Final Season Rockets Home in Jan.

Krypton: The Complete Second & Final Season Rockets Home in Jan.

BURBANK, CA (October 9, 2019) – Watch as the battle to free Krypton from Zod begins! Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release the action-adventure hit series Krypton: The Complete Second & Final Season on Blu-ray and DVD on January 14, 2020. From executive producers David S. Goyer (Man of Steel, The Dark Knight Trilogy) and Cameron Welsh (Constantine, The Last Ship), Krypton tells an entirely new story in the mythology of DC’s iconic Superman universe! Fans can purchase the sets with all 10 exhilarating episodes from season two plus two bonus featurettes including, “The Fate of Superman” and “Villains: Modes of Persuasion.” Krypton: The Complete Second & Final Season is priced to own at $24.98 SRP ($30.99 in Canada) for the DVD and $29.98 SRP ($39.99 in Canada) for the Blu-ray which includes a Digital Copy (US Only). Krypton: The Complete Second & Final Season is also available to own on Digital via purchase from all major digital retailers.

Krypton: The Complete Series, which includes both seasons of Krypton will also be available for fans to own on Blu-ray and DVD for $54.97 / 44.98 SRP ($63.99 / $52.99 in Canada).

Season two brings us back to a changed Kandor, locked in a battle over its freedom and its future. With Zod now in control, he’s on a ruthless mission to rebuild Krypton according to his ideals and to secure its future by conquering the universe. Faced with a bleak outlook, Superman’s ancestor, Seg-El, attempts to unite a dispersed group of resisters in an effort to defeat Zod and restore hope to their beloved planet.

Krypton has captivated audiences through its incredible action, talented actors, and impressive special effects,” said Rosemary Markson, WBHE Senior Vice President, Television Marketing. “We are excited to reveal Season two’s secrets, villains and plot twists, which will keep you glued to the screen, and wishing for more Krypton!”

With Blu-ray’s unsurpassed picture and sound, the Blu-ray release of Krypton: The Complete Second & Final Season will include 1080p Full HD Video with DTS-HD Master Audio for English 5.1. The 2-disc Blu-ray will feature a high-definition Blu-ray and a Digital Copy of all 10 episodes from season two.

Krypton stars Cameron Cuffe (New Year’s Eve), Georgina Campbell (One Night, Black Mirror), Shaun Sipos (Final Destination 2), Colin Salmon (Arrow), Ann Ogbomo (Wonder Woman, Justice League), Aaron Pierre (Britannia, The A Word), Rasmus Hardiker (Your Highness), Wallis Day (The Royals, Will), Hannah Waddingham (Game of Thrones) with Blake Ritson (Da Vinci’s Demons, Indian Summers) and Ian McElhinney (Game of Thrones). Based on the DC characters created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, Krypton is from Phantom Four Films in association with Warner Horizon Scripted Television and is executive produced by David S. Goyer and Cameron Welsh.


• The Fate of Superman

•  Villains: Modes of Persuasion


1. Light Years From Home

6. In Zod We Trust

2. Ghost in the Fire

7. Zods and Monsters

3. Will to Power

8. Mercy

4. Danger Close

9. Blood Moo

5. A Better Yesterday

10. The Alpha and the Omega


The second season of Krypton will be available to own on Digital. Digital purchase allows consumers to instantly stream and download to watch anywhere and anytime on their favorite devices. Digital movies and TV shows are available from various digital retailers including Amazon Video, iTunes, Google Play, Vudu and others. A Digital Copy is also included with the purchase of specially marked Blu-ray discs for redemption and cloud storage.


Street Date: January 14, 2020
Order Due Date: December 10, 2019
BD and DVD Presented in 16×9 widescreen format
Running Time: Feature: Approx. 420 min
Enhanced Content: Approx. 41 min


Price: $24.98 SRP ($30.99 in Canada)

2 DVD-9s

Audio – English (5.1)

Subtitles – English, French


Price: $29.98 SRP ($39.99 in Canada)

2 BD-50s

Audio – DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 – English

BD Subtitles – English, French



Price: $44.98 SRP ($52.99 in Canada)

4 DVD-9s

Audio – English (5.1)

Subtitles – English, French


Price: $54.97 SRP ($63.99 in Canada)

4 BD-50s

Audio – DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 – English

Subtitles – English, French

Mmm, Box Sets. The Simpsons S1-20 Coming in Dec.

Mmm, Box Sets. The Simpsons S1-20 Coming in Dec.

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment has announced THE SIMPSONS: THE COMPLETE SEASONS 1-20 LIMITED EDITION. The collection, containing every episode from the series’ first twenty seasons, will be available on December 3, 2019.
Journey to Springfield to witness the adventures of Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie from their humble and heartwarming beginnings in “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire” and through all of the wild adventures of their first twenty seasons, featuring iconic episodes such as “Marge vs. The Monorail,” “Bart the General,” “You Only Move Twice” and the legendary two-parter, “Who Shot Mr. Burns?” The beloved series won 34 Emmys® and introduced the world to several celebrated guest appearances by fan favorites including Kelsey Grammer as the criminal mastermind, Sideshow Bob, Glenn Close who brilliantly played Homer’s loving and sweet mother, Mona Simpson and Albert Brooks as the evil genius, Hank Scorpio.
In total, 1,000 copies of THE SIMPSONS: THE COMPLETE SEASONS 1-20 LIMITED EDITION will be created, with 500 available at Best Buy, and another 500 available at The collection is currently available for pre-order and will be available on December 3, 2019.
Street Date:                  December 3, 2019
Screen Format:            Widescreen 1.33:1
Audio:                           English Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (only available on seasons 3-20), and French Dolby Digital 2.0
Subtitles:                       English SDH / Spanish
Total Run Time:          Approximately 9914 minutes
Discs:                             79 total discs (441 episodes)
Closed Captioned:       Yes

REVIEW: Toy Story 4

REVIEW: Toy Story 4

Toy Story 4 Comes Home in Oct.

There was a lot of sturm and drang at Pixar before they committed to making Toy Story 2, afraid their golden child might be ruined by a lackluster sequel. Not to worry, it was charming and a box office hit. They wisely waited until they had the exact story to tell for Toy Story 3, a film who’s ending never fails to elicit a tear or two for my long-ago childhood.

At first, we were dealing with Woody (Tom Hanks) coming to grips with his human, Andy, seeming to prefer the new, shiny Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen). Then there was a little matter of Andy aging out and what that meant for the toys. They’re meant to be cherished, not neglected, so the passing of them to Bonnie (Madeleine McGraw) was a perfect touch.

But Bonnie is not Andy and her tastes are her own. She’s younger, of almost an entirely different generation, and Woody is left to wonder what is his role today? These existential issues are nicely played from beginning to end in the charming Toy Story 4, out now on disc from Disney Home Entertainment.

Bonnie is ready for school and Woody, always looking after the toys and his human, feels a responsibility to be there for her. No need, it turns out, as her kindergarten orientation gave her the opportunity to create her own toy, turning an ordinary spork into her new playmate, Forky (Tony Hale). Its problem is that Forky believes it was meant to be used once and disposed of, not loved. Once again, Woody feels responsible for keeping Forky from suicide and ruining Bonnie’s budding school career.

When the family goes on a road trip, things get complicated as a visit to an antique store introduces Woody to Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks), a girl’s doll created with a defective voice box and relegated to a shelf. She and her Jerry Mahoney-like dummies sweet-talk and entrap Woody, in order to obtain the thing she feels would make her desirable. Forky winds up a hostage so it’s Woody to the rescue, aided by Bo Peep (Annie Potts), who vanished years before and wound up in the store, a toughened go-it-alone figure.

Some of the action sequences in first-time director Josh Cooley’s hands are overdone at the expense of the menagerie of toys having anything useful to do. Instead, the thematic focus is entirely on Woody and his place in this strange new world. He does what he does and along the way, recognizes its time for the next chapter of his life. The ending makes sense and works emotionally even if we take our sweet time getting there.

The film has been released in a variety of formats including a Blu-ray/DVD/Digital HD code combo pack. The 1080p high definition transfer captures the colors nicely and we can marvel at how far the CGI animation has come since the first film (1995). The Blu-ray defaults to the DTS-HD HR 5.1 audio track although you can easily upgrade to the DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1. Both sound just fine, if not perfect.

The combo pack comes with two Blu-ray discs with Special Features on both. The first, with the film, also offers up Bo Rebooted (6:21); Toy Stories (5:38) as cast and crew reminisce; and Audio Commentary with Cooley and Producer Mark Nielsen. The second disc contains Let’s Ride with Ally Maki (5:41), the voice of Giggle McDimples, goes in the recording process; Woody & Buzz (3:35); Anatomy of a Scene: Playground (9:31); Carnival Run (1:00); View from the Roof (0:29); Toy Box (13:00), introducing Gabby Gabby, the Vincent dummies, Forky, Duke Caboom, Ducky & Bunny, and Giggle McDimples; Deleted Scenes (28:00), Introduction, Scamming Playtime, Bo Knows Hippos, Desperate Toys, Knock-Offs, Recruit Duke, and She’s the One.

REVIEW: The Death and Return of Superman

REVIEW: The Death and Return of Superman

The Death and Return of Superman Complete Film Collection Gift Set Announced

The Doomsday Saga sprawled across the four monthly Superman titles for the better part of a year, clearly too long to successfully adapt as part of the DC Animated Universe series of films. When The Death of Superman was announced, everyone knew a second film would follow and sure enough, viewers were treated to The Reign of the Superman. The 1992-93 storyline was streamlined and revised to be fit into the animated continuity, so characters who weren’t around at the time, are here now.

Warner Home Entertainment has edited the two films together into a 2:46 and has released it as The Death and Return of Superman released in a variety of formats including the nifty 4K Ultra HD Limited Edition Gift Set (4K, Blu-ray, Digital HD, and a Steel action figure). The 4K gift set comes with Superman: Doomsday as a bonus 4K disc.

As noted in reviews of the two films, it does a reasonable, but not perfect, job of taking the serialized story and putting it all together. Lex Luthor gets played up more than he deserves and the Justice League’s core heroes have a far more prominent role. The “replacement” heroes – Steel, Superboy, Cyborg Superman, and the Eradicator – are all here for good or ill, adding new players for future films.

As one would expect, the excellent voice cast is back including Jerry O’Connell’s Superman, Rebecca Romjin’s Lois, and Rainn Wilson’s Luthor, supported by Jason O’Mara (Batman), Rosario Dawson (Wonder Woman), Shemar Moore (Cyborg), Nathan Fillion (Green Lantern), Matt Lanter (Aquaman), Christopher Gorham (The Flash), and Nyambi Nyambi (Martian Manhunter). They are joined by Cress Williams (Steel), Cameron (Superboy), Patrick Fabian (Hank Henshaw), and Charles Halford (Eradicator).

In the edit, some dropped sequences are back, helping seamlessly meld the two into one, despite an unavoidable shift in tone given the Man of Steel’s prominence only in the first half and the void he left subduing the second.

It’s faithful enough and satisfying enough to own. As for which version to buy (or give, after all, the release is timed for holiday giving), the Blu-ray 1080p is just fine both visually and aurally. The 4K is nicer but not enough to justify the cost, unless you really want the Steel figure or find a good sale..

Thankfully, there’s a nice new special feature, Long Live Superman (45:57), with co-publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee joined by creators Denny O’Neil, Jerry Ordway, Jon Bogdanove, Brett Breeding, Neal Adams, and Danny Fingeroth discussing his history and enduring appeal. The celebration includes commentary on Action Comics #1000 and footage from the Fleischer cartoons, George Reeves television series, first Chris Reeve film, and various DCAU films.

Carried over from the previous editions are The Death of Superman: The Brawl That Topped Them All, Lex Luthor: The Greatest Nemesis, and six episodes from various series: Legion of Superheroes, “Dark Victory: Part 1-2”; Superman: The Animated Series, “Heavy Metal”, Justice League Unlimited, “Panic in the Sky”.

Wayne D. Chang: Judging “Joker” on Its Merits

Wayne D. Chang: Judging “Joker” on Its Merits

There are several ways to look at Todd Phillips’ 2019 movie Joker. It is obviously grounded in DC Comics’ vast history, however it is not what most comic book aficionados would consider a “comic book” movie. Yes, it is set in Gotham City. Yes, there are references to Arkham Asylum as well as characters like Thomas Wayne, Alfred Pennyworth, and even a young Bruce Wayne. However it would be grossly unfair to judge this movie as a Batman movie or even consider it in the same frame of mind as the introduction of the Joker in Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman or Christopher Nolan’s 2008 The Dark Knight (and hinted at the end of Christopher Nolan’s 2005 Batman Begins). Both movies featured The Joker as the villain, and there was a clear relationship between him and Batman, but as I suggested, this does not appear to be a typical comic book movie.

For the record, I have not actually seen “Joker” yet. I am basing this op-ed piece on what news is currently available, video clips, trailers, etc. This piece may be flawed, but it is my opinion, and you are welcome to take exception with it if you choose to do so.

We see Arthur Fleck as someone akin to Arthur Miller’s “Willy Loman” in Death of a Salesman – a man of little perceived significance and yet to come to terms with who he is. Arthur Fleck is the kind of guy who gets the crap beat out of him in viral videos. He is a stand-up comedian who has had more bombs than Dresden. From what we see of him, there is a slow progression into madness or at the very least, we see him come to terms with his madness and rebirth as the Joker, something more than a stage persona. Arthur Fleck has accepted this as who he is as he becomes visible to a wider audience thanks to an appearance on “Live with Murray Franklin.” The fact that “Murray Franklin” is played by no less than Robert De Niro lends a gravity to what could have been a simple comic book movie, but even saying that is doing a gross disservice to Joker. The movie is a love note to Martin Scorsese’s 1982 masterpiece The King of Comedy.

Joker is as Warner Bros Publicity has stated, “a cautionary tale.”

So far Joker has enjoyed unprecedented critical acclaim and response from international film festivals, however it has also endured pre-judgment from comic book fans who are quick to dismiss it as NOT a comic book movie. A friend of mine was excited to see this when the teaser first hit social media, however recently he said he wouldn’t bother seeing it as it was not in his estimation a legitimate telling of the origins of the Joker as generations of comic books, TV shows, cartoons, and movies have portrayed it. There was Alan Moore & Brian Bolland’s timeless Batman: The Killing Joke (from which Joker seems to draw inspiration). There is also the older story element of Batman chasing a man in a red hood who falls in a vat of chemicals. Being immersed in chemicals apparently rendered this man’s hair green, his face white, and his lips red giving Gotham City the Clown Prince of Crime, The Joker. While the red hood was not integral to the Joker’s origin in some cases, Batman was, and in the case of  The Dark Knight, the Joker existed as a response to Batman establishing a symbiotic relationship.

A lot of dissatisfaction from comic book aficionados seems to come from the basic question of “Where’s Batman?” It is bad enough that adaptations of stories sometimes play fast and loose with established mythology, and some fans seem quick to voice that they’re not going to see Joker. I confess that I was one of these fans, however after deeper consideration, dismissing Joker as not a Batman movie would be just the same as what happens to Arthur Fleck in the movie – dismissing him as insignificant. Joker appears to be a frighteningly intimate portrayal of a man’s descent into madness and embracing it as others have not accepted him or his true nature. As such, I could easily see how this could and should receive massive amounts of critical success, however it is not what I would consider or accept as a comic book movie or a Batman story. Perhaps this version of the Joker would appear in an adaptation of DC Comics’ Crisis on Infinite Earths, and that certainly would be interesting, but I have reservations about that. It would be better to judge this as a character study.