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    1. The Sandman comic series has probably been the strongest influence on my life in recent times. Does this resonate?

      Written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by various brilliant artists, The Sandman series has definitely had an enlightening and positive influence on my life. Much like Dream will say, it feels...

      Written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by various brilliant artists, The Sandman series has definitely had an enlightening and positive influence on my life. Much like Dream will say, it feels like the comic speaks true words.
      For me — and I struggle with having had no role model — this comic series provides exactly that, in a way.

      I wonder, whether people here have read it, or bits of it, and what their opinions are.

      16 votes
    2. What's in a name? Patience Phillips' Catwoman

      For anyone who doesn't recognize Patience Phillips, she was Halle Berry's Catwoman in the most terrible superhero film - Catwoman (2004)...that I really enjoyed it. Probably because it wasn't...

      For anyone who doesn't recognize Patience Phillips, she was Halle Berry's Catwoman in the most terrible superhero film - Catwoman (2004)...that I really enjoyed it. Probably because it wasn't well-received, it's often overlooked when talking about things like "the first female hero on screen" or "the first black hero..." sort of things. And technically, Catwoman's not a superhero.

      Spoilers ahead. I'm also going to keep my points to the story and characters themselves. I honestly had no issues with any of the actors.

      The good

      • The theme and social commentary on make-up, beauty products, self-harm/addiction and image issues woman do face. The added layer of cooperate greed. The idea of what you see in the mirror vs. what others see (and if they're right), alongside what you want to present to the world or to specific people - honestly this movie has probably one of the best takes on "the cost of beauty" that I've seen in a while, and since.
      • The scene where Tom thinks he's saving a jumper, but Patience is actually trying to save a cat. This random scene turns out to be a great storytelling scene when brought up again after Tom arrests Patience for murder and she asks him what he first saw the first time they met.
      • Laurel is probably the most interesting character in this movie. There's a really well-framed shot of her photos being removed from her company lobby in favour of a younger model. I think it's one of the best scenes in the movie. Laurel is capable, powerful, rich and very accomplished, but somehow her relevance still fades as her beauty does. (I can honestly say I generally can't stand the evil step-mother wrestling with her fading beauty and taking out her bitterness on some young snow white-y girl, but this one worked for me.)
      • I loved that Batman wasn't in it (but didn't really like that a love interest still had to be introduced).

      The bad

      • That she's call Patience Phillips...but honestly this is the warning to divorce this from any Catwoman or female superheros (or anti-heros) you know.
      • Patience doesn't earn her "powers" - Selina Kyle (Catwoman in basically all other versions) works obsessively to perfect all her abilities. She's an insanely good cat burglar, not a magic cat.
      • Patience doesn't earn or drive her own growth. There is basically no growth as a character. A magic cat ghost could have simply possessed Patience's body and the story would be the same.
      • Oversexualization of Catwoman...which I didn't even know could be a thing until this movie. Black leather for a sexy Catwoman - awesome. Whatever the belt thing was - grossly missed the point while trying to copy Pfeiffer's patched up catsuit.
      • I'm also not the biggest fan of make-over tropes in general.

      The ugly

      • The basketball scene - just everything about it.
      • The hate that surrounded the movie because Catwoman wasn't blonde (or Michelle Pfeiffer), and that Batman's not in it.
      • The physical punch-them-out fight scene between Laurel and Catwoman in the end - just why? This isn't a movie at all about physical strength, and having a "face like marble" isn't a real power. (To be fair, I don't like this showdown in really any superhero movie, with the exception of The Death of Superman.)

      The cheesy

      • The crazy cat-lady Patience goes too, and her tossing a cat toy at her
      • The sushi eating scene
      • The in case of date emergency kit her friends gave her.
      • Laurel seeing her cracked beauty in the moment of a showdown fight
      • The cat scratches on Tom
      • Her best friend hooking up with her doctor
      • The comparing signatures on the coffee cups
      • Her Marvel-like comic book name

      Final thoughts

      So yeah...I would recommend this movie, and really hope that when they do make another Catwoman film that it might share some themes. Have you seen this movie? Did you hate it? Who's your favourite Catwoman? What would you like to see in a Catwoman movie?

      10 votes
    3. The issue with modernizing stories: representation in The Killing Joke (book vs. movie)

      Warning: this post may contain spoilers

      I've very loosely applying the title I used in yesterday's post because quite honestly, I can't even call what they did with the movie a modernization.

      Intro

      Old stories are always being updated for lots of reasons, ranging from trying to appeal to new audiences to correcting toxic depictions to fitting better to the current social or political climate and more. There's nothing new there. However, one thing I find a bit odd lately, as in the last five years or so, is that a lot of this modernization is actually done pretty poorly in main stream media. We see more forced diversity, queerbaiting, and generally bad storytelling.

      There will be spoilers for both.

      Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore (1988)

      This is probably my least liked batman comic that I still recommend fans read.
      It's one of the few Joker origin stories and have impacted the tone of Batman since. It's honestly the story I think of whenever I'm thinking of Batman and the Joker's relationship, and makes Joker the all-time greatest DC villain.

      And of course, through the paralysis of Barbara Gordon (Batgirl), we get one of the strongest female heros in DC - Oracle.

      The Killing Joke is infamous for adding Batgirl to the list of Women in Refrigerators. The treatment of women, specifically Batgirl, is probably the most easily agreed upon aspect to modernize. She was pulled into this story without much thought on the effects of the character before or after.

      Batman: The Killing Joke (2016)

      When details about this movie was in the works, it was hinted (and then confirmed) that about half an hour will be added to the beginning of the movie and better flesh out Barbara Gordon. This was exciting. The end result was disappointing almost to the point of offense.

      The additional time was devoted to Barbara debating with her "gay best friend" (who is every stereotype that phrase can embody) how her "boss" (Batman) doesn't respect her and that she should just quit. Also comes with a scene where she insists on being heard, is aggressive and then has sex with Batman. Yeah...I can't even truly describe how bad it was... (I'm just glad tickets were sold out at the theater so I didn't have to pay money to see it. I borrowed it from the library for anyone wondering.)

      The quitting thing in particular really bothered me. Barbara is one of the few heros in the DC universe that does not have a tragic back story. She chose to be Batgirl for the same reason someone chooses to be a cop in a corrupt city like Gotham. In the animated series and in Adam West's Batman, Barbara became Batgirl independently. She wasn't seeking approval or permission.

      Enough of the rant...why it didn't work? Ultimately, it was a lack of respect in general. There was a feeling all around that the team was asked to modernize, but they themselves weren't convinced. The end result was what you would expect a bunch of closed minded straight guys to write. Obviously no research was done to better understand gay men or women. They were ultimately not treated as real people. There was no research on Batgirl herself, and this includes watching Adam West's Batman, or reading any comics with Batgirl or Oracle.

      Final thoughts

      The sad thing is, they had a chance to really add to the original story. I would have love to see Batgirl in her prime. Show how strong and capable of a hero she was before she was paralysis and emphasize the loss Batman and Gotham will feel from loosing Batgirl. Show Barbara's determination in perhaps a little Oracle origin story. She's very smart, let's see some of that. Show her dealing with her own loss while still carrying a duty.

      Edit to add: I would also drop the gay best friend. In the new 52, Barbara's roommate is trans and they build a real friendship before she's comfortable enough to tell Barbara. Steal directly from that!

      What are your thoughts? Any other comic adaptations that stood out for you? (There are so many!)

      9 votes