Tag Archives: Batman

Death by Patman (No, that’s not a typo)

You’re probably wondering if I meant to say “Batman” instead of “Patman” and I didn’t. Patman is exactly what I wanted to say. What’s a Patman? It’s Batman combined with my friend, Pat Koelling. Now I imagine this has lead to a couple new questions like why am I combining these elements and how did they almost kill me? Well that’s what I am here to tell you today.

Pat Koelling and I sorta went to school together. He graduated right after I started but we were basically forced into friendship by two factors. The first factor was that our wives were former roommates. This built-in connection forced Pat and I into basic level interactions. The second factor that lead to our friendship was that everyone told us we had to be friends. Pat is a pretty funny dude and sorta began this hierarchy of random-humor guys. It seemed as though there was an invisible crown passed from person to person with the most random (read: stupid) humor. So Pat was the first and when Andy Laugenour joined the program after Pat left, everyone would say things like, “oh, Andy, you’re the new Pat”. Which sorta made it seem like Pat had died even though he was still around.

When I joined the program, everyone would say, “Oh, Travis, you’re the new Andy.” I guess this made Pat my sort of humor grandpa or something. For the record and purpose of linage, after I left, Robbie Rane became the new Travis. Both Robbie and Andy have gone on to successful careers at one of the greatest (if not the single greatest) advertising agency in the world, W+K. Leaving Pat and I to assume that this magic W+K gene must skip a generation.

This great historical linage of Pat, Andy, Robbie and I has forced us into being friends because we were each essentially designed to replace the next one upon their death in the program. So when Amazon was looking into bringing another copywriter onboard, Pat was the first person I thought of. I did submit names of several friends (each of whom would have been great to work with) but Pat had everything Amazon was looking for and so he was brought on board quickly.

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Why playing Batman with Simon is the most frustrating thing in the world

Over the past few months, Simon has really grown up. I mean, he’s constantly growing but lately he’s just been spouting at full speed. Part of this has lead Simon to finally being interested in Batman on his own. For the past three years Simon has been way into different things like a stuffed lion that we named “Lion Friend” (don’t you judge me on my creativity), Thomas the Tank Engine, Pixar Cars, Dinosaurs, Sea Creatures (or Dangers of the Deep as Simon calls him) and now he’s finally into Batman.

I said "Smile" he thought, "growl"

I said “Smile” he thought, “growl”

At long last my prayers have been answered. So a couple months ago Simon and I set up the Batcave that I bought for him four years before he was born and we began to play and immediately I realized it. I was in Batfan hell. Why? Because playing Batman with Simon is the most frustrating thing in the world for fans of Batman. Let me explain.

1) He doesn’t respect character’s dynamics. 

Look, I am well aware that I am playing toys with a three year old but would it kill Simon to learn that the Joker is bad, Batman is good and Catwoman treads the line. Batman and Joker will be in the middle of an intense hostage situation and all of the sudden Joker starts asking Batman if they can be friends. No Simon, they can’t. Batman is a symbol of justice while Joker represents the chaos within all of us. Also he is holding Robin over a vat of lava (bowl of beans) and I think Batman would be a pretty bad superhero if he just ignored that. But that is playing with Simon. Characters constantly change sides and apparently everyone knows where the Batcave is because there is a constant parade of visitors to the cave (most convicted felons and murderers) and Batman just watches them come and go.

2) So much punching.

When Simon isn’t busy upsetting the entire Batman universe he is using his characters to punch other characters. The Riddler will have taken over Gotham Jail and right in the middle of broadcasting his riddle to the world he is punched in the face by Commissioner Gordon. Or Mr. Freeze. Or a cat (more on that later). The point being that anytime I try to give these characters any kind of story or character development they get punched in the face. Anytime Batman tries to explain to Robin the values of following the rules of the road, Batman gets punched in face. So much punching. Simon, Batman is more than just about using his fists. He’s about solving mysteries, being a detective.

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The play location.

3) Commissioner Gordon can’t get into his car

This is just me being a nitpicker but Simon really struggles getting Commissioner Gordon in and out of his car. I offer to help but he says he can do it. This really clogs the flow of the story. Let me paint you a picture. Bane and Two-Face are robbing the bank. They stand side-by-side threatening the city with their power. Batman arrives on the scene quickly followed by Commissioner Gordon in his patrol car. Tension runs high as everyone waits for Commissioner to get out and give directions. Commissioner is stuck in the car. He seems to have tipped over on his seat. Tensions slowly fall as the car magically floats to it’s side and tries to shake the commissioner out. Frustrated, the car drives off leaving Batman to handle the situation alone. Two-Face suddenly punches Bane. Batman rides a dinosaur.

Simon's world

Simon’s world

4) Universe crossovers galore

Speaking of Dinosaurs, apparently they are prevalent in the world of Gotham and no one cares. Also no one seems phased by the talking cars that are half the size of the citizens and the random sea creatures and cats (more on that in a second, I promise) that roam the streets. At first when Simon brought in multiple Batmen I handled it by suggesting that we were living in a multverse and each Batman was from a different universe and it worked. All the Batmen looked different so it fit that one was from the 60’s, one is the globetrotting 70’s Batman, etc. Then came the dinos. Now just about anyone can come into this universe with no consequences. I mean, I am all for crossovers but even I can’t justify what Lightening McQueen is doing in Gotham.

5) Every problem is solved by a cat 

The cat. I’ve alluded to him before and now you can finally learn all about, Mittens. Mittens (name given by Simon) was the spare cat that came with Catwoman. Yet Mittens as gone far beyond her owner in fame. Mittens the cat, for whatever reason, has become Simon’s go-to toy.

That's Mittens there in the front.

That’s Mittens there in the front… being a camera hog just like always. You don’t have a motorcycle Mittens! 

 

Mittens drives the Batmobile, she can defeat anyone, if kidnapped by Clayface (Dad) she will immediately escape any deathtrap. There is nothing Mittens can’t do and it drives me crazy. In Batman’s world Batman is the greatest there is but in this world he has been usurped by Mittens. In fact Batman was kicked out of the Batcave the other day after he refused to hug Mittens. Speaking of…

6) Batman doesn’t hug

After every play session Simon wants most characters to hug it out. I can understand that but I try to tell him that Batman doesn’t hug. He is vengeance. He is the night. His parents were brutally taken from him in a dark alley and he doesn’t have time to hug it out with Two-Face. Then Simon looks at me, with his big, sweet eyes and says, “But Dad, Batman loves his friends.” And maybe my heart melts. Maybe it’s okay if Batman (Dad) opens up, accepts these changes so that a little boy can have his own type of Batman. Maybe just the fact that a father and a son can play Batman together is enough. Maybe it’s all…

Catwoman just punched Batman in the face and threw Robin into the lava (beans). Oh it is on Simon, it is on. Let’s play again.

Best friends

Just a couple of dudes playing superheroes before bed. 

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The top ten scenes from superhero movies

I found a pretty good deal at Target the other day. I wasn’t even looking for it. I just stumbled across it in the movie section. It was a Superman 3-pack on Blu-ray for thirteen dollars.

Thirteen dollars! That’s less than five dollars per movie. And we’re not talking Superman IV: Quest for Peace kind of Superman, we’re talking Superman I, Superman II: The Richard Donner cut and Superman Returns. I mean “technically” that is the complete story (at least as perceived in the mind of Bryan Singer).

I was pretty thrilled with my find and decided to do a Superman marathon that weekend. Superman I and II we’re quite enjoyable. I’ve never seen the Richard Donner cut but had heard that most people believe (and I now agree) that it is the preferred version.

Where this article comes in, though, is with Superman Returns. Superman Returns is a sad movie, not because the plot itself is sad but because this movie should have been awesome. Brandon Routh is a great cast for Superman, Bryan Singer had a great track record for genre movies, with X-men and X2 but somehow the movie fell apart. It got lost in a mopey Superman, a miscast Lois, and a failed attempt to keep in continuity with Richard Donner’s cuts. But I digress.

What caught my attention in this movie is one scene. One scene, that when considered alone, is probably the best Superman scene to date: the airplane rescue. In fact, you could say that this scene is one of the reasons Superman Returns is so bad because this scene occurs so early in the film and the rest of the movie never gets close to being that good again. It’s like if someone gave you a great piece of cake and then immediately started feeding you pigeon poop.

So watching this scene again got me wondering: what are the best scenes in superhero movies? Not what is the best superhero movie, but what are the best scenes? The ones that stick with us long after the credits roll? So after careful study and research including a marathon of Spider-Man, X-Men, Batman, and many more including (gasp!) Fantastic Four, I’ve come up with this list. Unsurprisingly, Fantastic Four didn’t make the cut.

Now one thing to note is I am looking at superhero movies, not movies based on comic books. I realize that for the majority of this list those two ideas will be one in the same but there is one scene here that wasn’t based on a comic book. But because we’re looking at superhero movies you won’t see anything like A History of Violence or Road to Perdition on this list, though those are both excellent movies with many great scenes.

I did try to get clips of the scenes but in some cases, I couldn’t find the clip or the quality was really poor, so you’re stuck with a trailer. I am sorry for that but my suggestion would be to go watch the scenes in their full glory anyway.

Also, spoilers abound from this point forward. So if you haven’t seen a movie, just skip it on this list or you know, go out and see it and then come back.

Finally there are so many great superhero movies that many classic scenes didn’t make the cut. I would love to have included the hostage scene from Kick Ass, the helicopter rescue in Superman or final scene from Unbreakable and many more but there was only room for ten and something had to go. So here are my top ten scenes from superhero movies:

10. Chronicle: The Talent show

Every kid knows that being able to fly or shoot lasers from your eyes would take even the nerdiest comic book kid and turn them into class president in under three minutes. It’s a dream we’ve all had and many movies have shown the joy of a kid gaining powers but I have never seen it portrayed better and with so much fun than the Talent show scene in Chronicle. Using their newfound telekinesis, Steve and Andrew go into the school talent show and skyrocket Andrew’s school status from loser to winner in a heartbeat. While the notion of fake friends who don’t really appreciate you is all over this scene it’s still so much fun to see Andrew get the confidence to be the top dog for one night.

9. Captain America: The final talk with Peggy

Captain America: The First Avenger is full of great moments including one of the best introductions to a hero’s costume I’ve ever seen when Captain America tours for war bonds. But the moment in the movie that feels most like the Captain America we know and love is the heartbreaking final talk between Captain America and Peggy. As he bravely steers Red Skull’s ship into the ocean, saving millions of lives, Capt. talks over the radio to Peggy promising her a date to go dancing. Sadly it is a promise that he and the audience know he’ll never be able to keep.

8. V for Vendetta: The Old Bailey Blows Up

V may not be a superhero in the traditional sense but his quest for vengeance and justice isn’t far off from someone like Batman. His methods on the other hand are a bit more extreme, as portrayed in his bombing of the Old Bailey. Happening at the beginning of the movie, we are shown that V is more than willing to use people’s emotions, such as fear, guilt or duty to complete his mission of revenge. This scene leaves his unwilling partner Evey, and the viewer, questioning if this man is someone they should get behind or if his actions against a fascist government may be less heroic and more of a fanatical terrorist.

7. Spider-Man 2: Doc Octopus and the train

Spider-Man 2 is the golden medium of the Sam Rami trilogy. Sandwiched between Spider-Man, which was good, but doesn’t hold up and Spider-Man 3, which went so far off the rails that it is hated and ignored by everyone this movie is still the best of the bunch* and that is reflected best in the epic train fight with Doc. Octopus. This felt like the first real Spider-Man fight and thankfully the often hostage Mary Jane was nowhere in sight, giving us the real threat of an out of control train. An unmasked Spider-man was able to stop the train only before passing out from exhaustion. He was then moved to the back of the train in a Christ-like fashion and is promised from the people of the train that they won’t reveal his secret. The scene is cut short when Doc Octopus returns but it’s a save that’s hard to forget.

6. Batman Mask of the Phantasm: I didn’t count on being happy

 Our first and only animated movie on this list spun out of the classic Batman: The Animated Series. While most Batman movies feature at least one great Bruce Wayne moment, it is surprising and fitting that it’s in the animated movie that we get the best one. Flashing back to the days just before Batman’s creation Bruce finds he is falling in love with a girl named Andrea Beaumont. Realizing he can’t be with her and keep the promise he made to his parents Bruce travels in the rain to beg at his parents grave for their permission to break his promise to avenge them. Few lines give chills quite as much as this: “It just doesn’t hurt so bad anymore… I know I made a promise but I didn’t see this coming, I didn’t count on being happy. Please, tell me that it’s okay.” Even years later our hearts break knowing that is one promise not meant to be broken.

5. Watchmen: Opening credits

“Watchmen” is a live-action motion comic. Zach Snyder lifts the majority of the scenes straight out of the famed comic book by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. This method works great in some scenes, such as Dr. Manhattan’s transformation and some not as well but the best of the best in this movie occurs during the opening credits. We are given a history of this alternate universe set to the tune of Bob Dylan’s “The times they are a-changing”. There are so many little easter eggs and treats in these scenes that you feel like you’ve watched an entire movie. In fact who knows, maybe DC will decide to reedit these scenes for a “Before Watchmen” movie.

4. Marvel’s Avengers: Assemble in NY

“Avengers Assemble!” might not have been said in the movie but that doesn’t mean that it didn’t happen. Taking five years and five movies worth of information, Joss Whedon assembled the biggest movie obstacle of past few years by bringing several big characters and actors onto one screen. The movie is full of many parts that will put a smile on your face but there’s really nothing else like that big battle in New York. From Hulk smashing Loki to Iron Man’s sacrifice, it’s a great battle scene that spotlights each character and gives them a logical reason to… well, assemble.

3. Superman Returns: Airplane rescue

As stated above, this scene is one of the most Superman-like scenes you could hope to see. From the beginning ditch of Jimmy at the bar to the heroic ending with a cheering crowd, this is what it feels like to have a Superman comic brought to life. Contrary to Lois’s article she wrote while Superman was missing, “Why the world doesn’t need Superman,” this scene reminds us why the world does need Superman: to do the big and powerful things that other heroes can’t.

2. X2: X-Men United: Nightcrawler takes the White House

You could debate this one with me and I would probably lose because the opening scene in X-Men is one of the most famous of the genre but I’ve always had a special place for the sequel’s opening scene when Nightcrawler takes the White House. This scene turns the first movie on its head as you get a really good example of why regular folk are afraid of mutants. Nightcrawler takes down the entire secret service without breaking a sweat. This sets the stakes for the movie and shows what a dangerous mutant could really be capable of. You believe in the X-Men but you can also relate to the fears of regular people. On top of everything else this scene is so much fun as you get a real sense of what Nightcrawler can do with his powers. You may wonder what teleportation would really allow you to do and this scene shows you over and over again that there is a valid reason for Nightcrawler being one of the main X-Men over the past 30 years.

1. Dark Knight: Joker interrogation scene. 

The Dark Knight changed the way the world sees superhero movies forever. There is no denying that the influence from this movie has seeped into every superhero movie since it’s debut in 2008. You could create a list of the 10 best scenes in the movie and still have several difficult choices to make. But if you could only pick one scene to show everyone what this movie was all about it would have to be the Joker interrogation scene at GCPD. This scene shows Batman and Joker’s relationship in an intense mental battle and physical battle. If you want to extend this scene out it also shows the creation of Two-Face, as well as Batman’s biggest failure, the death of Rachel Dawes. Everything from the music, to the cuts, to the lighting and shots; there is not better representation of Batman and his world than this scene. Should the Joker ever appear in a later film this scene will be what that entire movie would be judged against.

So there you have it, my top ten superhero scenes. Do you agree? Did I forget something? Leave a comment below with your own list.

*It should be noted that the Amazing Spider-Man and the Dark Knight Rises could change this list up a little bit. I will go through at the end of the summer and revamp the list based on what these two movies bring. Perhaps this will be a top twelve list depending on how those two movies shake things up.

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Joker toy

I love Heath Ledger as Joker. His performance is top notch. But it’s hard to deny the greatness that was Jack Nicholson. Heath Ledger’s Joker changed Joker in the comics. More and more comics started having a Joker that looked like Heath but Jack brought the comics to life. He became the living embodiment of the Joker we all had been reading.

So I am very excited to see Jack get the super 1:6 scale toy treatment from Hot Toys. This figure is fantastic. Looks spooky real.

So if you need a last minute present for old Travis, well my cubicle could always use a little more Joker.

Check out more pictures here at Modern Myth Media.

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My gift to Simon

So around the time that Simon was born, I really wanted to get him a “birthday” present. Something nice. Well, I stumbled across this fantastic artist who was selling this amazing Batman print.

It was a limited run of 250 and was never going to be printed again. So I snatched one up.

The print tells the story of a villain invasion at Wayne Manor and a little Batman works his way through the mansion fighting evil doers left and right. The print is full of tributes to just about every Batman show/movie/comic you can imagine. It is really something to behold.

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The artist is Les McClaine and you can find the print in full computer size here.

Well, I just got it back from the framer and it looks fantastic. It is perfect for a little boys/mans room. So it will be going up in Simons room soon.

Below are more pictures of the lovely print and frame work.

So happy Birth Day Simon! Dad loves you!

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THE DARK KNIGHT RISES TRAILER

OH MY WORD. I COULDN’T BE MORE EXCITED. SERIOUSLY.

 

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Cartoon Wars. Vote today.

At the suggestion of a close friends, I watched a couple of episodes of South Park titled “Cartoon Wars”. Fans of South Park might know this two-parter as the one where the creators threatened to show Muhammad and the one that made fun of Family Guy. It’s the latter element that drove me in. I am not much of South Park fan, not for any particular reason, it’s just never really crossed my radar, but my friend recommended it because of it’s mockery of Family Guy.

Family Guy used to be a really good show, but since is resurrection from beyond the grave, and maybe even before that, the show got incredibly bad. Falling prey to terrible writing and unattached, bizarre, jokes, it’s became something of a joke itself. Yet it thrives. Several of my family members love the show and quote it often. This seems to be the way of the world. For everyone like me, who hates the show, there are a hundred others who love it and watch it regularly.

Even within the world of South Park the cast was divided with those who love it and those who don’t, including Fox’s own Bart Simpson. The reason this episode seemed so prevalent and fitting was a recent survey happening by Entertainment Weekly. The survey asks what is the 25 greatest animated shows of all time?

I voted for The Simpsons, though that wasn’t easy. Many of my favorite animated shows were up there including Batman: The Animated Series, Futurama, Robot Chicken (animated? maybe, still love it.), Scooby-Doo, and Animaniacs. But for me, when it came to what has most influenced the world of animation, it’s the Simpsons. Because without the Simpsons, I don’t think we’d have a Family Guy to make fun of or a South Park to do it.

So whether you agree with me or not, doesn’t matter. Go vote. Lets see what wins.

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