How do you watch a movie through fresh perspective when the character has been bogged down by seventy-five years of constant narrative publication? Although many moviegoers like to let a film stand isolated, I prefer to acknowledge the movies’ context as a frame of reference within which the story, acting, directing, etc., take their place in the broader picture. That being said, here are ten Superman texts that can enhance your experience watching Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel, in theaters Friday:
1. The Movies: Watch Richard Donner’s Superman: The Movie (1978), Superman II: The Donner Cut, and Superman Returns (2006) as a trilogy, and it provides support as to why Bryan Singer made the kind of film that he did with ‘Returns’; he was trying to finish the nearly thirty-year-old story begun by one of his hero directors. Even though many viewer’s reactions, at the time, were lukewarm to Superman Returns, people now discuss it with a more extreme reaction than the critics and box office reflect. ‘Returns’ misplayed many of the key ingredients that Marvel films like Iron Man (2008) and The Avengers (2012) get right. That being said, there are a lot beautiful elements to director Bryan Singer’s Superman film, and both the pros and cons of the previous big-screen interpretations will give us an interesting point of comparison.
2. The Comic Book Origin Stories: Over the decades, Superman’s beginnings have been told in different styles with different details by a variety of top talent. Each book offers a unique interpretation of the core myth of the pure-hearted hero from the stars. Get your hands on John Byrne’s Superman: Man of Steel (1987), Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale’s Superman For All Seasons (2000), Superman: Birthright by Mark Waid and Lenil Francis Yu (2002), or Superman: Secret Origin by current DC creative writing overlord Geoff Johns and artist Gary Frank (2010).
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‘Batman fanatic’? That would suggest that if a product contains Batman, I’m a fan. Far from it, in fact. I’m more like… um… a ‘Batmanologist’.
Too long had he tried to restrain himself within the shackles of apathy and alcohol. Too long had the people been without their hero. After a ten-year exile, Batman finally burst through the smog and filth, defeating the gang that ruled Gotham, and humiliating their leader. Now that the city is reclaimed, all that stands in his way are his deadliest enemy and his most powerful ally.
Today, the culmination of the dreams of countless Batman fans comes to fruition with the release of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part 2 on DVD, BluRay and digital download. The first of two instalments impressed fans last fall (see review here), leaving most excited about the emotional and action-packed conclusion. This direct to video animated feature is based on the highly acclaimed and much beloved limited series turned graphic novel, The Dark Knight Returns (1986), by writer/penciler Frank Miller (Sin City, 300, Batman: Year One), inker Klaus Janson, and painter Lynn Varley.
Ten years after the last sighting of the famous crime-fighter/vigilante known as The Batman, the rise of a violent gang forces his return to Gotham City. TDKR Part 2 follows the media’s heated debate, the return of a rejuvenated Joker, and the inevitable confrontation with Superman, who now quietly acts on behalf of the United States government. The story is filled with Batman staples, like Robin, Alfred, Gordon, colourful villains, the cave, the car, cool equipment, cool fights, and a cool climax.
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BBP contributor and Batman fanatic Jason Lapidus (aka ohthree) was kind enough to drop by with an exclusive early review of The Dark Knight Returns: Part 1. Take it away, Jason!
“This should be agony. I should be a mass of aching muscle — broken, spent, unable to move. And were I an older man, I surely would… But I’m a man of thirty — of twenty again. The rain on my chest is a baptism — I’m born again… I smell their fear — and it is sweet.”
Twenty again? More like fourteen, actually. I first read those words the night my parents took me to see Batman in 1989. I stopped by the merchandise stand before the movie started and bought my first copy of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. I was introduced to the most influential interpretation of the character since his inception in 1939, and I was so lost in those words and images that I didn’t want to put the book down once the lights dimmed. Since then, I have wanted to see an animated adaptation of the story more than any other before it or since.
There are few people I know who love Batman more than my old friend and original Biff Bam Pop writer Jason “Oh Three” Lapidus. In anticipation of The Dark Knight Rises’ release this Friday, today Jason returns to BBP with his advice on how you can get ready for Batman and his return to the big screen!
1. Read The Vengeance of Bane pt. 1, by Chuck Dixon and Graham Nolan (no relation to director Christopher Nolan), published by DC Comics in 1993. This single issue chronicles the character’s origin and places Bane as the protagonist. You will be rooting for him when you’ve finished reading. You can find it as a single issue or in a collected volume.
Find out what else you can do after the jump!