Everything I need to know, I learned from superhero comics. Not just how to infer the meaning of words I don’t know from context (seeing bullets bounce off Superman while someone said he was “invulnerable”), but also how to be a citizen.
The superheroes I loved were, in large part, immigrants and refugees. Superman and Supergirl (refugees from Krypton), Wonder Woman (immigrant, at least in her initial stories), Martian Manhunter (immigrant, or maybe kidnapped slave), Adam Strange (immigrant to Rann), lots and lots of X-Men and Legion of Super-Hero members.
Immigrants and refugees were characters I admired. When I got old enough to study history, I learned that real-life immigrants and refugees were among the most admirable people ever to live in this country. I also learned that not everyone shared my perspective.
There is a long history of demonizing immigrants here. Over the centuries, people have whipped up hysteria over Italians, Irish, Greeks, Chinese, Jews from anywhere, Catholics from anywhere, even Native Americans – who aren’t even immigrants. We fear those who are different from us, and it prevents us from seeing what we have in common.
Many of the people who created my favorite characters were themselves immigrants or the children of immigrants, people who grew up in neighborhoods filled with people who identified themselves as hyphen-Americans. It’s not a surprise that these men (for the most part) created heroes who were outsiders.
Now our so-called “president” wants to restrict immigrants’ access to the American dream, to shut out refugees who face persecution and, sometimes, death if they return to their country of origin. This isn’t only immoral and un-American. It’s also bad for business.
And it’s bad for those of us who love to read, which I assume includes you, Constant Reader, if you’ve made it this far. Immigrants and refugees write some of our most important (and delightful!) books. We need more people with talent in this country whether they are LGBTQ or non-white or non-Christian or foreign-born or whatever.
And, by the way, my family has been in this country longer than our so-called “president’s” family, so if we’re sending anybody back somewhere, he has to go before I do.
Another thing I learned from comics is that change starts with me. No matter how super-powered a character might be, nothing would happen until he or she got involved. I’m delighted to say that comic book creators and cartoonists are putting this plot into our reality and standing up for immigrants and refugees, and those who protect them. According to this, several cartoonists are sending original artwork to people who donate to the American Civil Liberties Union.
Think about doing so, too, even if you don’t get any artwork. You might just get an artist.
So last Friday, in lockstep, we all walked off the edge of the cliff and began what promises to be a long, long plunge. (Maybe you can feel the wind in your hair but I can’t, due to a scarcity of hair.) The big fall may end early and perhaps abruptly. Others will continue to fall until we stop. Don’t know when that’ll be, or how bad the jolt will be. Remember T.S. Eliot’s lines in his poem, The Hollow Men?
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper
Step right up, ladeez an’ gennelmen, and place your bets What’ll it be, bang or whimper?
Hard call, isn’t it? Bang or whimper? Bang is coming on strong – all that carelessness with nuclear weapons and such, (What kid resists setting off the biggest firecracker on the block and what makes us think that all our leaders aren’t kids?) But my money’s on the whimper. We were recently informed last year was the warmest in history, warmer than the year before which was warmer than the year before that. Yep, three years in a row, each hotter than the last. A meteorological hat trick. Yay?
Ah, but Snarko of the Snarky Squad is saying, in between bites of his toenails, “How do you smartasses know what happened what happened before recorded history? How do you know that every year wasn’t warmer than the one before it back then?”
That darn Snarko! Is he a master of the lightning riposte or what? But never mind. Just know that we are allowed to ignore him, and so we shall.
Where were we? Plummeting, that’s where. So we really don’t know where we’re headed, how this journey will end. Maybe we should simply try to keep ourselves amused until the Big Bump? We read comics, don’t we? So a stack of comic books might entertain us – haven’ they always? – and benefit us further by distracting from thoughts we’d rather not be having.
And – final beneft! – it’s not likely that comic book stories will remind us of those nattering thoughts because you don’t find many apocalypses in the comics. A few, yes, but not many. Didn’t J’onn J’onzz, the Martian Manhunter, have a whole planet yanked out from under him? And Superman and his cute cousin, Supergirl, also did hasty emigrations from a planet that was becoming space dust. (I will omit discussion of the host of other Kryptonians who somehow survived, some of them by taking refuge in a bottle.)
Anyway, if you’d like to boycott reality, comics might be your reading of choice. As for the other entertainments…just be careful how you spend your disposable income
We don’t want our amusements disturbing us. That’s real life’s job.
My friend Brian Skelley recently e-mailed me a question that gave me some pause: what is the difference between an anti-hero and a villain? Having trafficked in anti-heroes for some time, you’d think I know but I had to parse it out.
As I postulated it to Brian the basic answer was that the anti-hero is the protagonist of a given story; the villain is often the antagonist which makes him a support character. The main purpose of any supporting character is to bring out some side or aspect of the main character, the protagonist. A villain can be the protagonist; I’ve written stories where the Joker is the main character, for example, or with Captain Boomerang, neither of whom could be called a hero in the conventional sense.
The anti-hero doesn’t display the usual heroic attributes such as courage, empathy, decency, integrity and so on. They don’t care about the common good; they care about #1. Some, like John Gaunt (GrimJack) may have their own code but one of the questions I put to myself when I began writing GrimJack was “how do you make a moral choice in an amoral world?” I once had Gaunt shoot a guy in the back and that alienated some readers. My response, then and now, was that Gaunt was never intended to be a role-model.
Whatever the anti-hero’s deficiencies, he or she are usually better than those surrounding him/her. Why are we rooting for the anti-hero to succeed? If we feel nothing for them, what is the point? At the very least, we need to be rooting for them to get away with whatever it is they are doing. We want Danny Ocean’s plan to rip off the casino to work, in part because (in the later movies) he’s played by George Clooney at his most charming.
For myself, I like working with anti-heroes more than the conventional heroes. I don’t know what it says about me to say that they seem to resonate more within me. I can more easily find something to identify with in the anti-hero than with the conventional hero. Writing Martian Manhunter was far more difficult for me than writing The Spectre. J’Onn J’Onzz was a far more decent being than Jim Corrigan. No doubt it points to some deficiency in me.
I guess I like my heroes more morally ambiguous. Certainly none of them have been more morally ambiguous than Amanda Waller not to mention the Squad as a concept. However, I’ve never considered Amanda to be an outright villain. Some folks who have written her took that tack, but I think she’s more interesting as an anti-hero. She has a conscience; she knows the difference between right and wrong. It doesn’t stop her from doing the bad things but she knows what she’s doing and does what she does deliberately. She hocks her soul for an ostensible greater good. What she does marks her as a villain; the reason she does it makes her a hero.
And then, of course, there’s Wasteland. Chock full of anti-heroes. We have a father who dissects his son’s biology teacher for traumatizing the boy. (Actually, by the end it’s a heart-warming tale… in a way.) I asked the reader to step inside the mind of a serial killer and, however briefly, identify with him. There have been occasions when I almost told a person, “You don’t want to mess with me. I wrote Wasteland.” That should scare most people.
Here we are, like orphans with our noses flattened against the candy store window, gazing at the tasty wonders just inches from our faces, but destined never, never to taste them.
Astronomers have identified 3,422 exoplanets – planets that orbit stars other than our own. Of these, they estimate that about a thousand might support something that we’d identify as life. That’s what they think. But barring some unforeseeable, game-changing Something, they’ll never know for sure. Because they haven’t really seen these worlds apart, these star-gazers, even through their most impressive telescopes. The doggone things are just too far away!
So they see stuff like spots crossing the far-away star and do spectroscopic analyses of light and apply esoteric disciplines that I’ve probably never heard of and then… I don’t know – make a best guess or two?
Frustrating, isn’t it? We have a wired-in appetite for Other and a good thing, too, because that appetite enables us to propagate the species, especially on warm spring nights scented with blossoms and that person over there, basking in the soft moonlight, is breathtakingly lovely… Whoa! We’re not in the smut-peddling game here and anyway, you get the idea. We Want Other.
And generally, we can’t have it. But we have another wired-in trait that can serve as a substitute. Beginning in infancy, we create cause and effect narratives. I cry, I get picked up kinds of things. That narrative-building trait evolves, along with the rest of us, and eventually we’re using it to create poems and jokes and plays and religions and comic books and who-knows-what-all, including extraterrestrials. Imaginary extraterrestrials, to be sure, but we take what we can get.
It’s an old, old trick. As early as 5000 years ago the Sumerians were making figurine of creatures from Planet X, and there may have been earlier mythic aliens that didn’t manage to get written down. The early gods were first cousins to these aliens and they go way back.
Well. We have Superman and Supergirl and Hawkman and Hawkwoman and ET and J’onn J’onzz, The Martian Manhunter (that J’onn J’onzz) and Yoda and pulpy Bug Eyed Monsters and whole lot of fictional Others and…
Maybe we’re not satisfied. Maybe we look into the night sky and wonder if we’re alone in the universe and if we are, what that might mean.
I’d sure like a taste of that candy. But maybe it should remain behind the glass. Might not be good for me.
(SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! Spoiler spoiler spoil spoil spoilery spoilers.I’m chatting this week about the events on some of the superhero TV shows last week. If you recorded them and intend to watch them later, give this a pass. Here endeth the warning.)
It was an interesting week in superhero TVland – specifically, DC superhero TVland. At least for me. I had a personal connection to some of them.
Arrow had a few events, some minor, one major. The character Felicity who is their computer geek expert recently got shot and it appears she has nerve damage to the spine and now has resumed her place with the team in a wheelchair. Sound like anyone we know? Yup – Oracle, whom my late wife and writing partner Kim Yale and I created from the remains of Barbara Gordon. Oh, they’re not calling her that but that’s who she is, wink wink, nudge nudge, say no more.
They also had Felicity dealing with a hallucination of her younger self, perhaps brought on by pain medication or even an aftereffect of anesthesia. What’s interesting is that younger Felciity is the spitting image of Death from the Sandman series – pale skin, raven dark hair, dressed in black, with an ankh necklace. However, they don‘t reference Death at all. They just grab her look. Guess Felicity was really into the Goth scene back then.
The major event was – they killed off their version of Amanda Waller. Bad guy just suddenly shot her in the head without warning. That was startling, I will admit, as it was no doubt intended to be. Since I get a little bit of money every time Amanda shows up on Arrow (or anywhere), her death was not a terribly pleasant surprise.
OTOH, this was a young, pretty, skinny Waller which is not how I saw the character. When I created the Wall, I saw her as a certain age and a certain heft for a variety of reasons. The bulk made her more physically intimidating. Also, I wanted a character who was unlike other comic book characters. Being black, middle aged, and plus-sized did that. I understood that this was the CW and that’s what the CW does – young and gorgeous is the rule of the day, every day. I did nott and do not object to their interpretation. And we have Viola Davis playing Amanda in the upcoming Suicide Squad movie and I’m looking forward to that. (The second trailer came out for the Squad movie as well recently and it’s looking real hot, IMO.)
There was another unexpected death in DC superhero TV-land this week and it was in the second episode of the new DC’s Legends Of Tomorrow. On the team is the CW version of Hawkman and Hawkgirl (you couldn’t call her Hawkwoman, CW?) and, lo and behold, they offed Hawkman this week. Well, boy howdee, that was a stunner.
I didn’t create Hawkman but I’d written him for a while (although it was alien Katar Hol rather than Carter Hall) so I did have a personal attachment to him. I’ll continue watching for now just to see where they go with all this but I’m not sure of its longevity.
The last event happened for me on Supergirl over on CBS rather than the CW. The main character is alright but, for me, the real draw is the Martian Manhunter, J’onn J’onzz. Tom Mandrake and I did a series on JJ in which we explored more of his society and culture. For example, it had been long established that, on Mars, J’onn had a wife and daughter who died. No one, however, had ever given them names, so I did. The daughter I named K’ym as a tribute to my late wife. On last week’s Supergirl episode, J’onn went into some of his past. He mentioned two daughters, one of whom was named K’ym.
That pleased me a lot. It was just a small thing but I know Kim would have been very pleased. I can almost hear her giggling and see her bouncing up and down with glee. Most pleasant.
So that was my week in Superhero TVland. How was yours?
Cat Grant: One time at a party, Paul McCartney swore to me that he and Yoko were the closest of friends. He was more convincing.
Cat Grant not accepting Kara Danvers’ statement that she (Kara) is not Supergirl
Rey: There are stories about what happened.
Han Solo: It’s true. All of it. The Dark Side. The Jedi. They’re real.
Listen Up! Spoilers Abound, So If You Don’t Want To Know, Don’t Read This Column.
A few weeks ago, four days before Christmas to be exact, I said that I loved Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and had problems with Supergirl. While I still love Episode VI of a saga that took place a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, there are two things that bother me. Silly things, to be sure, but just enough to pick at my enjoyment a teensy bit:
I miss the 20th Century Fox fanfare that opened all the other Star Wars movies.
Composed in 1933 by Alfred Newman, head of the studio’s music department, the extended version – which is the one that became so integral to the films – debuted with The Robe, the first film to be shown in Cinemascope. But it had been phased out by the late ‘70s by the then-struggling-to-survive studio when its savior, George Lucas – who had always loved the logo, the sweeping spotlights, and the fanfare – insisted on its use in his “little space opera fantasy.” Then, when John Williams developed the theme to Star Wars, he used the same key as the fanfare, and has said that it was meant to be an extension of Alfred Newman’s work.
And so, ever since May 25, 1977, all of us have felt their heartbeats quicken, felt goose bumps prickle their skin, and felt the hairs on the back of our necks stand up in anticipation and salute as those drums, those trumpets, those sweeping spotlights acted as a clarion call to that galaxy so far, far way where an epic adventure happened such a long time ago. It became such an intrinsic part of the Star Wars universe that it’s now part and parcel of the soundtracks of the first six movies
Seeing a Star Wars movie introduced by Sleeping Beauty’s castle – a “side effect” of Disney’s ownership of the franchise – just ain’t the same, folks.
The only pilot I want to see flying the Millennium Falcon is Han Solo – with Chewie at his side, of course.
Seeing the Falcon in action again after 30+ years, soaring and doing loop-de-loops and evading TIE fighters, was almost like a religious experience, except for one thing – it wasn’t Han and Chewie at the controls. I can’t really explain it, I know it’s kind of dumb: after all, Lando Calrissian flew the “fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy” in Return of the Jedi – but I’ll tell you a secret: I always objected to that, too.
Just to get the bad taste out of my mouth, I’ll tell you what I did absolutely love in The Force Awakens:
The climatic scene between Han Solo and his son, Ben, now known as Kylo Renn, on a catwalk stretching across a seemingly bottomless abyss inside a technological marvel.
A perfect callback to the climatic scene in The Empire Strikes Back, as another father – Darth Vader, once known as Annakin Skywalker – confronted his son, Luke, and revealed truth to him as they faced off on another catwalk high above a seemingly endless abyss inside another technological marvel.
Also a few weeks ago, in the same column (four days before Christmas to be exact), I listed some of my complaints about Supergirl. Well, with the advantage of having watched new episodes of the series, I take back much of what I said:
“We met Aunt Astra and we know right away that she’s evil. She might as well have had a mustache to twirl. We shouldn’t even have known who she was – tease us, fool us. Mix us up. Maybe sometimes she’s good, sometimes she’s bad, maybe she’s somewhere in the middle. What’s her relationship with Kara? And since we’re supposed to be identifying with Kara, that should have been her deal as well.”
It’s almost as if the writers read my column, although of course that’s incredibly egotistical of me, and besides, I’m pretty sure that Astra’s back story and relationship to Kara was already in the show’s “bible.” It turns out that Astra is a villain depending on what side of the argument you hold to – is she an “eco-terrorist,” or an “eco-hero?” Some argue – as Astra does – that desperate times call for desperate measures, that the needs of the many outweigh needs of the few, or the one. And her relationship with her niece, Kara, is becoming way more complicated as truths about Kara’s mother are being revealed.
“Kara was stuck in the Phantom Zone for years. And this hasn’t had any lasting affects? No emotional or psychological hang-ups? No anger issues at her cousin for dumping her in some strangers’ laps and flying off? No PTSD from seeing her parents, her civilization, her planet from being blown to kingdom come? Did the Danvers even attempt some sort of therapy? She should have trouble forming relationships, she should have trust issues, jeez, let’s see some anger.”
Confrontations with her Aunt, with her sister, Alex, with Cat Grant, with James and with Winn, with Maxwell Lord, with General Lane, and even her hologram mother…
The perky girl is still perky and kind and bubbly, but she’s letting the spunk and anger out, too. You go, SuperGRRRL!
“How many times and in how many ways can Kara talk about proving herself? This fast became a one-trick pony that quickly wore out its welcome and became a whine that is repeated in each and every episode as expository statements to her sister, to Jimmy, to Winn, to Hank…hey, Kara, take a tip from Yoda: “Did not you see Strikes Back the Empire Does? Do, or do not. There is no try.” Seriously, I’m waiting for somebody to tell her to just shut the fuck up already.”
She ain’t whining no more. Well, no so much, anyway. She’s absorbing Nike’s words of wisdom. Just Do It.
One thing that does piss me off big time!:
J’inn J’onzz, the Martian Manhunter, a.k.a. Hank Henshaw, used his morphing ability to impersonate Supergirl and paid Cat Grant a visit as Supergirl just as the real Kara walks into her boss’ office, thus convincing Cat Grant that Kara Danvers isn’t the Kryptonian Maid of Steel.
No! No! No!
The sad and hackneyed use of a friend of the superhero impersonating said superhero so that said superhero could be seen at the same time and in the same place as said superhero’s secret identity – Batman impersonating Superman to throw Lois Lane off the scent, for instance – oh, come on! That went out back in the 1960s, for cryin’ out loud!
I’m holding on to the hope that Cat Grant is only playing dumb.
Okay, I saw the Suicide Squad trailer that was “leaked” from SDCC and then the HD version a day or so later. I loved what I saw – particularly Amanda Waller. Viola Davis has the look, the sound, and most important, the attitude. Much of what she says at the start of the trailer sounds like it was taken from my proposal or one of my scripts. Yeah, I’m very happy.
As for the rest of the Squad, I can’t really say yet but if the whole thing mirrors their use of Waller, I think we’re going to get as close to the comic version of the Squad as a movie can get.
Mind you, I’m anticipating there will be changes. Comics and movies are different media with different needs and demands and so they will interpret the material differently. My main question for the Squad and any other comic book movie is will they get the essentials right?
When I say “essentials,” what do I mean? It’s not necessarily the costume or even the powers. It’s what defines them, what makes them different from other characters. When Tom Mandrake and I took on DC’s Martian Manhunter, we had to determine what made him different from Superman. They shared many of the same powers; in fact J’onn J’onnz had a few that Kal-El was missing. What was the essential difference? Tom and I determined it was that Kal-El came to earth as a baby and was raised in Kansas; he was raised human. J’onn was raised among his own kind on Mars and came to Earth as an adult. He is an alien from an alien culture. That was a fundamental difference in the two characters; something that was essential.
And something unique.
Stan Lee was recently asked about whether or not Peter Parker could be gay or if some minority could become Spider-Man. “There’s no reason not to,” he replied. “The only thing I don’t like doing is changing the characters we already have. For example, I’d like Spider-Man to stay as he is, but I have no problem creating a superhero who’s homosexual.” That, I think, is a reasonable answer. When Static was created, Milestone had their own Peter Parker who was not at all Peter Parker. Just as good but different, yet in the same mold.
What about the Green Lantern Corps? How are they unique? Everyone has the same ring, roughly the same uniform, and all take orders from the same little blue men. Again, it’s not the weapon or the uniform that makes someone unique. It is essentially who they are. It’s like a good war movie; they are all soldiers but each member of the squad is different. That’s their essence.
We’ve seen a lot of shuffled identities lately. Sam Wilson is now Captain America and not Steve Rogers. Before that, Bucky Barnes was Captain America instead of Steve Rogers. I think that’s a mistake. It’s not the uniform and the shield that define Captain America; it’s who Steve Rogers is. It’s who he is that makes Captain America and that’s what the films have gotten. Steve Rogers is the essence of Captain America.
I’m not saying never create new versions of old characters. I’ve done it. But the characters were moribund or dead. When Tom and I created a new version of Mister Terrific, we kept very close to the origin of he first Mister Terrific. We were true to the myth.
As Tom and I work on Kros: Hallowed Ground, we’re dealing with vampires and what we are exploring is what is essential to a good vampire story. Our basic take – they’re monsters. Not misunderstood gothic romantic figures or a different species just trying to co-exist on the planet. They’re monsters. So also might be our protagonist – Kros.
Sometimes you have to strip away the barnacles and crap that’s built up and get back to the essence of a character or a concept. That’s my approach when I’m given a character to write – what is their essence, why do we want to read about this character as opposed to another?
If you don’t know the name, Goyer is a big time heavy hitter writer. He’s done some comic books but mostly is known for screenplays, including Man of Steel and the upcoming Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice and the subsequent Justice League film as well as a score of others. This suggests he knows what he’s doing.
His comments this week might suggest differently. On the Scriptnotes podcast (which has now disappeared), he said the She-Hulk “… is the chick that you could f–k if you were Hulk… She-Hulk was the extension of the male power fantasy. So it’s like if I’m going to be this geek who becomes the Hulk then let’s create a giant green porn star that only the Hulk could f–k.”
Stan Lee, who created the She-Hulk, replied: “Only a nut would even think of that.” ‘Nuff said.
Goyer also had some choice words for J’Onn J’onzz, a.k.a. the Martian Manhunter/Manhunter from Mars. Let’s use his words, shaaaaall we?
“How many people in the audience have heard of Martian Manhunter?” Following a healthy smattering of applause, Goyer joked, “How many people that raised their hands have ever been laid?”
Goyer continued: “Well, he can’t be fucking called ‘The Martian Manhunter’ because that’s goofy. He could be called “Manhunter.” … The whole deal with Martian Manhunter is he’s an alien living amongst us, that’s the deal. He came out in the ‘50s, and he had basically all the powers of Superman, except he didn’t like fire, and he could read your mind. So here’s the best part: So he comes down to Earth and decides, unlike Superman who already exists in the world now, that he’s just going to be a homicide detective, and pretend to be a human homicide guy. … So instead of using superpowers and mind-reading and like, “Oh, I could figure out if the President’s lying or whatever,” he just decides to disguise himself as a human homicide detective. Dare to dream.
“I would set it up like The Day After Tomorrow. We discover one of those Earth-like planets… So maybe like… we get the DNA code from that planet and then grow him in a petri dish here… He’s like in Area 51 or something and we’re just basically… doing biopsies on him.”
I have some passing knowledge of the Martian Manhunter, having done (with Tom Mandrake) a series starting back in 1998 so I have a thought or two on this subject. Last week I explained some of my thinking in creating Amanda Waller so this seems a good point to explain some of my thinking on working with J’Onn J’Onzz.
Goyer and I are in small agreement: I also felt that in many ways the Martian Manhunter was a green clone of Superman. He had most of the same powers and, instead of Kryptonite, his weakness was fire. When Tom and I did our series, we wanted to focus on what made him and Superman different. The principal one was that, while born an alien, Kal-El came to earth as an infant and was raised as a human. His values are Midwestern values. J’Onn came to earth as an adult; he was raised in a Martian culture. He’s not American; he is fundamentally alien – a Martian.
Tom and I decided we would investigate and explore Martian culture in our version. He was telepathic; his race was telepathic. What did that mean? What were the societal rules? Rape, for example, would not only be physical; it could be emotional and mental. On the flip side of the coin, sex would involve a melding of minds as well as a melding of bodies. With his race dead, J’Onn would be forever denied that. He could never again experience physical love on so deep a level.
Martians could fly, levitate, and pass through walls; their houses would have no doors or windows or stairs.
J’Onn can turn invisible; we had it that, on arriving on Earth, he saw and experienced how violent and paranoid humans can be. He chose a persona that allowed him to act like a human in order to better understand who and what we were. We had him having several other human identities as well (credit where credit is due: Grant Morrison first brought up that concept).
The idea that he would be grown from a Petri dish is not an uninteresting idea for a character; it’s just not J’Onn J’Onzz. I talked last week about being true to the fundamental aspects of a character and, to my mind, Goyer’s take on the Manhunter from Mars isn’t it. (Sidenote: why is he the Martian Manhunter? Because there are already plenty of other Manhunters in the DCU.)
This might not matter but Goyer is right now the go-to writer for DC cinematic stories. If he has this little fundamental understanding of a mainstay DC character, how much will he have for other DC characters? It’s not that hard to check on what has been done; the Martian Manhunter entry on Wikipedia takes only a few minutes to read and its pretty accurate.
I also don’t understand the underlying contempt not only for J’Onn and the She-Hulk but for readers and fans of the characters. “How many who raised their hands have ever been laid?” Why did Goyer feel the need to get all William Shatner on folks? Why the snark… and sexist snark at that?
Maybe he just doesn’t like the color green. Let’s not ask him what he thinks about Kermit the Frog. I’m not sure I need his observations about Kermit and Miss Piggy.
If you’ve been a fan of Warner Bros.’ direct-to-DVD DC Universe movies, you are no doubt eagerly awaiting the February 28th release of Justice League: Doom.ComicMix’s ownGlenn Hauman and Mike Gold attended a press screening of the movie, along with the mandatory press conferences and post-game roundtable discussion. We decided to take a conversational approach to our preview – not quite a review, as we’re avoiding spoilers. Still, if you’re extraordinarily anal retentive (the fanboy/fangirl affliction), you might want to just look at the pictures.
Glenn: The story, and the universe, felt familiar – not just because we’ve known these characters forever, but because it was Dwayne McDuffie’s take on them, his POV from Justice League and from Justice League Unlimited. One of those “you don’t realize how much you miss it until it’s gone” things.
Mike: DC’s animated universe came about organically, from the original Fox Batman Adventures through Doom… with major exceptions like that Teen Titans and that unnecessary and initially unwatchable TheBatman series a couple years ago. Dwayne played a major part in that Justice League animated universe to be sure, but those Batman and Superman series created the foundation of this universe, as well as the bouncing off point for many of the actors.
Glenn: Speaking of the DC animated universe: one thing that was weird for me, throwing a new bit of unexpected unfamiliarity, was meeting Kevin Conroy, the voice of Batman for two decades, because he just doesn’t quite look the part in real life – he looks more like the Scarecrow. I found myself mentally covering up his face from his nose up, superimposing a cowl on him. Or am I just that weird?
Mike: Yeah, Conroy is pretty skinny and he’s got a great face. But I think he’d be perfect as Jason Blood or Orion of the New Gods.
Glenn: Conroy as Jason Blood, live action? Oh, that works really well.
Easily recognizable to sitcom viewers as the hilariously slimy lawyer Jackie Chiles on Seinfeld, and renowned throughout the fanboy realm as J’onn J’onzz/Martian Manhunter on Smallville, Morris is splitting his time this February celebrating his latest triumphs.
Morris is a NAACP Image Award nominee in the category of Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series for Love That Girl! While he prepares for the awards ceremony and all of its requisite celebrity gatherings, Morris is also making time to attend both the New York (2/13) and Los Angeles (2/16) premieres of Justice League: Doom.
The consummate nice guy, Morris shifts to a darker, villainous approach for Justice League: Doom as he reprises his Justice League animated television series role as the immortal Vandal Savage. Morris is one of nine actors returning to the booth to record their original roles.
Produced by Warner Premiere, DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Animation, the all-new, PG-13 rated Justice League: Doom arrives February 28, 2012 from Warner Home Video as a Blu-ray™ Combo Pack and DVD, On Demand and for Download. Both the Blu-Ray™ Combo Pack and DVD will include an UltraViiolet™ Digital Copy.
Justice League: Doom finds Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, Cyborg and Batman on their heels when a team of super villains – orchestrated by Vandal Savage – discover and implement the Dark Knight’s “contingency plans” for stopping any rogue Justice League member. The story is inspired by Mark Waid and Howard Porter’s much-heralded “JLA: Tower of Babel,” and scripted by the late Dwayne McDuffie.
Morris is more than just an actor with a tendency to perform in fanboy-centric productions – he is a devout fan of the genre and its comic book origins. His comics collection exceeds 20,000 and includes gems like a 1948 “Captain America,” issues 1-18 of “Silver Surfer,” the first 20 Barry Windsor-Smith issues of “Conan,” and many of the original run of the “Fantastic Four.” “It goes back pretty far,” Morris says. “I collect to this day.”
Prepping for the onslaught of reporters’ queries on the red carpets on both coasts prior to the premieres of Justice League: Doom, Morris welcomed the opportunity to answer a few questions about Vandal Savage, comics collecting, and the possibility of someday voicing his Smallville character Martian Manhunter in an animated form.
QUESTION: What’s the mindset of Vandal Savage, and what’s been the joy of playing this role?
PHIL MORRIS: Vandal Savage is an immortal who has been around the human species for all time. He’s extremely intelligent – he’s incredibly evolved because of contact with a meteor that landed in his village. And he’s always trying to overthrow the world. His vision is that the world should be his, as many of these despots feel. But he feels that because he’s lived so long, he’s entitled.
I love Vandal. I played Vandal for the Justice League series a few times, but this is a little bit of a different take on Vandal. Back on the series, he was more of a smooth criminal – he was more nuanced, he had more style. Now, I guess, he’s just had it. He’s kind of approaching things as if to say “I don’t have time to play with you.” He has no more guile left in him. He’s straight, no chaser, which makes him much more dangerous, much more evil, and much harder edged, especially in my vocal performance.
And I love this script. Dwayne (McDuffie) really made it a walloping good romp for the Justice League players. And then Vandal is a bit like the Lex Luthor of the show – it’s his mastermind, his ideas, his design that almost or does bring the world to its doom. You’ll have to watch to see. Vandal is very much the thrust of the evil of this show. That’s fun to play. (more…)