Why I Liked Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Batman v Superman

On Wednesday, I went with a friend of mine to see Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Since my viewing, I have had some interesting conversations about the film after telling people that not only did I enjoy it, I think it was a pretty good movie. It has felt like for the past few days, it has become my job to explain over and over again why I liked the movie. The funniest portion of this conversation to me has been that those who have disliked it often respond in a way that indicates they are almost offended by my enjoyment, an inversion of Schadenfreude if you will. This cracks me up a bit; it is as though my like of the film is a direct shot at them instead of a simple differing of opinions. Just as a warning, this will get into Spoiler territory, so if you don’t want to know anything about the film, I suggest you read no further.

I have long been a fan of Zack Snyder films. Not in the same way that I love the Coen brothers, Guillermo Del Toro or Tarantino, but in the “Hey! That flick was a damn good time.” His films have a look to them which is both beautiful and gritty. For many, 300 was a revelation, a movie the likes of which had never been seen before. Then came Watchmen and the beginning of the popular past time of ragging on Zack Snyder films. Granted, his next film Sucker Punch was a bit of a weird jumble of god knows what, yet somewhere in there is a movie worth watching. Then came Man of Steel, a movie which should have been amazing, but stumbled a bit out of the gate and never really regained its footing. Though there were many story problems with his first outing with Superman, the one thing Man of Steel did do well is establish a universe which was well suited for the DC characters. In the end, Batman v Superman was able to expand on and improve that world in many ways. Snyder got excellent performances out of his actors while also creating a movie which was visually appealing. Don’t lie to yourselves, the fight between our two heroes was pretty ridiculously awesome.

Casting was pretty spot on and the actors did a solid job of holding up their ends of the bargain. Ben Affleck has become easily my favorite Batman ever. The dude blew it out of the water. No one in my memory has captured the angst, paranoia and sheer insanity of a character driven to do what he does. I have heard people complain about Bruce Wayne’s response to the presence of Superman pointing to when he says, ” He has the power to wipe out the entire human race and if we believe there is even a one percent chance that he is our enemy, we have to take it as an absolute certainty.” A line which hits really close to home considering our current political climate (but that is neither here nor there). The important thing to remember is that this is Batman. The same exact character who destroyed the entire Justice League in Tower of Babel By Mark Waid. This is a character who has a contingency plan to take down every superhero in the DC universe. The nightmare sequences that Bruce has are intense, but spot on from a man with his level of psychosis. The physicality that Affleck brings to the character is even better. He is the first Batman I have ever seen who looks like the character in the comic. Check out the side by side of Affleck and Bale’s takes and tell me I am wrong.

Batman-V-Batman-F

Then there is our villain, Lex Luthor. I was really hoping that we would see Bryan Cranston as Lex, but that would have been the easy route to take. Since we have a relatively young Superman in Henry Cavill, it makes a fair amount of sense to have a younger Lex Luthor. Jesse Eisenberg has a twitchy take on Lex which makes him seem like he is a bit of a clown at first. I hated this villain in every way and isn’t that the point? Eisenberg’s Luthor seems to be playing the clown; a man who can barely get out a coherent sentence. That is the cleverness of the character, his awkwardness is a cover designed solely to disarm. In the moments there are no other characters in the scene with Eisenberg, he shows the true intensity of his character. The clown fades away, and we are left with a man driven by hate who will stop at nothing to achieve his goals.

As for Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman, I can’t wait to see her solo film.

Many have shot derision toward the story line, upset about the fact that this is not a direct adaptation of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, but there really isn’t enough material in the comic for a two-hour film about this single fight. The Batman vs Superman aspect of that comic only takes up a one issue of the seminal work. David Goyer was incredibly clever with his script by taking the best parts of The Dark Knight Returns and combining it with one of the most controversial and divisive Superman tales, The Death of Superman. Every move the characters took in this movie made total sense.

The tonal quality of the film is dark, there is no hiding that fact. This is actually one of the major complaints of many of the critics. DC is at its best when things are at their darkest. I think that the team for this film really did make this movie for the comic fans, but even some of the fans don’t seem to realize it. Consider for just a moment that many of the best DC comics are some of the darkest comics ever released by the company. The Dark Knight Returns, Crisis on Infinite Earths, Swamp Thing: The Anatomy Lesson, Identity Crises, The Killing Joke and so many more. Even one of the best Superman stories, All Star Superman revolves around the impending death of our hero due to cellular decay. We as viewers have become so accustomed to The Marvel Cinematic Universe and its brand of light action adventure that we have somewhat lost the ability to sit through and enjoy a two and a half hour film which really contemplates the heavier topics of what it means to be a superhero. Maybe this isn’t a superhero movie for the masses, but I feel if core comic fans really consider it, this is indeed a movie designed for them.

I am very excited to see Captain America: Civil War in about two months as I have loved the MCU since its inception. Now after seeing Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, I am also looking forward to seeing Suicide Squad.       

Advertisements

Hit-Girl In Papa Don’t Preach

hit-girl-comic

Just this last month, Mark Millar ran a contest to seek out some new writers for short comics about his character. I wrote this piece for Hit-Girl, but didn’t win. I figured I would post it here so that all of you lovely people could give it a read. Please keep in mind that this is not for profit and I do not own copyrights to this character. It was my submission to a contest. I hope you enjoy it. Also please keep in mind that this is Hit-Girl, so the language is NSFW.

 

Hit-Girl in Papa Don’t Preach

Script by David Winnick

Page One

1/ Open on a man in his mid-40s’: his name is Elijah Peck. Peck is holding a doctor at gunpoint. He stands behind her, the barrel of his gun pressed against the side of her head, his arm wrapped around her neck tightly. On Peck’s right cheek is a tattoo of a cross. Across his forehead is a tattoo which reads Job 12:10

Hit-Girl Voice Over: This fuck-face is Elijah Peck, but his followers call him The Pope.

Peck: You Murdering bitch, how dare you!

2/ Pan out to show Peck standing in front of a Planned Parenthood office. A gangly group of his followers has surrounded a handful of women some of whom are visibly pregnant. Half of the followers carry anti-abortion signs while the other half carry guns.

Hit-Girl Voice Over: He and his lap dogs have been making their way across the country, posting videos of their spree.

Peck: You are the hand of Satan, guiding these women to the gates of Hell.

3/ Close-up on the doctor’s face. Tears are running down her cheeks. Peck’s eyes are just visible over the top of the gun.

Dr.: Please don’t. This isn’t even an abortion clinic.

Peck: The Devil’s tongue tells only lies.

4/ Peck fires his gun, blowing the doctor’s brains out of the far side of her head.

No dialogue.

 

Page Two

1/ Cut to Hit-Girl. She is pissed off. In her right hand is her sword, and she is ready to use it.

Hit-Girl: Hey, cocksucker! I’m going to give you the throat-fucking of your life.

2/ Peck turns his gun toward Hit-Girl

Peck: Kill her!

3/ Hit-Girl dodges a hail of bullets.

No Dialogue

4/ Hit-Girl slices through the head of one of Peck’s followers.

No Dialogue

5/ Hit-Girl kicks the next of Peck’s followers in the crotch. He lets out a gasp of pain.

Follower: Gah!

 

Page Three

1/ This is a long panel across the top of the page. A woman is fleeing in the background. She is incredibly pregnant, on the verge of birth. A stray bullet is passing through her back. In the foreground, Hit-Girl is proceeding forward, having just dodged the same bullet which has hit the pregnant woman.

Pregnant Woman: Ah!

2/ Hit-Girl lops off the hand Peck is holding his gun in.

No Dialogue

3/ This is the largest panel. Hit-Girl has thrust her sword through Peck’s mouth. The blade is sticking out through the back of his skull. Blood is dripping down the sword.

Hit-Girl: If any of you shit stains are still there when I turn around…

 

Page Four

1/ The pregnant woman is laying on the ground. Blood is dripping from the corner of her mouth

Woman: Help.

Hit-Girl Voice Over: Her lungs are filling with blood. She’s drowning.

2/ Hit-Girl kneels before the pregnant woman.

Woman: Help

Hit-Girl: You’re dying. No one can change that.

Woman: Baby.

3/ Hit-Girl uses her sword to cut a C-section in the woman’s uterus. The woman is screaming.

Woman: AAAAAAAAAAAH!

4/ Hit-Girl pulls out the baby. It is covered in blood and viscera. The child is crying.

Baby: Wa! Wa! Wa!

5/ Hit-Girl is placing the baby on the dead mother’s chest.

Hit-Girl Voice Over: I can hear the sirens a couple blocks away. I can’t be here when the cops show up.

Hit- Girl Voice Over: They’ll know what to do with the kid.

 

 

The Bald Chronicles: Tale 1

I am bald. I began losing my hair in my early twenties for reasons which I will discuss at a later time. Over the past few years I have been reading a lot about body image and how society views people with various body types. With that in mind, I thought I would write some pieces about what it is like to be a bald man. Please keep in mind that these conversations are to the best of my recollection. Here is a quick rundown of what I look like. I am 6’1″ and anywhere between 145 to 150 lbs.

. David

Yep, that is me in all of my heavy metal, horror movie, comic book loving glory. I took this picture for a project I was working on a few years back; I don’t always make that face. Today’s tale takes us back about nine years. At that time, I was busy earning on a couple of masters degrees and working at Chick’s Sporting Goods. I was 23 years old and selling shoes to make some spending money. It wasn’t a particularly eventful day for any reason, but it was busy enough.

A man and a woman walked into the shoe department and immediately started staring at me and whispering. I wasn’t exactly sure what was going on but this continued for a while. One of the other sales people was busily assisting them as they attempted to purchase a pair of running shoes. It was beginning to get a bit on the uncomfortable side. As they continued to whisper every time their salesman walked into the back to get shoes. At long last, they started to point at me.

By that time, I  had about enough of the strange behavior. After all, who in their right mind would like being whispered about and pointed at. I finished up with my customer and walked over to the couple. In the least annoyed tone I could muster after half an hour of this, I asked, “May I help you?”

“Are you an actor?” The woman asked.

“No” I said,

“Are you sure, you aren’t an actor?” she continued.

“If I were an actor, what would I be doing here selling shoes?” This was getting bizarre.

“Are you sure?” Said the man, “you look just like him. And I have heard he does that method acting stuff.”

“I am definitely not whoever you think I am.”

“That is so weird, you look just like him.”

“Who?”

“You know,” said the woman, “that actor, from that movie…American History X.”

Edward_norton

“No, I am not Edward Norton. And if I were, I sure wouldn’t be working here.”

We all had a good laugh and I went back to my job. Don’t get me wrong, Ed Norton is a great actor. I thought he was amazing in American History X, but  I was never able to fully shake the fact that I was told I looked like a Neo-Nazi. The thing that makes it even stranger, I’m Jewish.

Why I Don’t Unfriend

The title of this piece is a bit misleading. I have in my time on social media unfriended one person. That is right, only one person. I will get back to this incident in a little bit. As a general rule, I do not unfriend people on social media. Almost every day, I turn on my Facebook and I see comments and posts which I disagree with. I have friends who post things which spit in the face of my general belief system, yet every day, I read their posts.

I do not hide peoples feeds. With the swipe of my mouse and the click of a finger, I could never be bothered by the feeds of people who I don’t agree with ever again. Yet I don’t make my life easier by simply making it so that I never see the opinions and ideas I don’t agree with.

I do not moderate as a general rule. The only time I ever step in on a feed or conversation is when the discussion has turned to personal attacks. Other than that, I do not moderate disagreements. When I was a child, my mom would often tell my sister and me, “He who seeks the war, shall not complain of the wounds.”

One might wonder why it is that I take such a hands off approach to my Facebook. Is it that I am apathetic? Is it that I find it to be too much trouble? No, it is not those things. It is that I believe whole heatedly in our First Amendment rights. I may not agree with what you have to say, but you have the right to say it.

Hear no evil

So, why then did I unfriend that one person? It is a simple reason, he become flat out threatening. This was a person I had never met in my life but was associated with many people I know. I will not state his name, but we had a huge cross section of common friends from multiple spheres whom I trusted. When he asked to be a part of my Facebook feed, I figured I would give him a shot.

What changed was the way he interacted with people. At first he seemed a reasonable sort of fellow. He would post his opinions and thoughts and I was fine with that. What pushed his unfriending was that he told a book reviewer to kill herself and sent her a link  to the best ways to commit suicide. This was his egregious error. Urging another to commit suicide, or threatening to kill them is simply unacceptable. Thus I banished him forever from my feed.

I have noticed an interesting trend in my feed over the last two years which I refer to as the unfriend post. It generally reads something like this, “I have unfriended X number of friends this week. I just couldn’t take their views on (fill in the blank) any longer.” The unfriending is, of course, the individual’s prerogative. You can unfriend anyone you like.

In this, the information age, we are becoming less and less informed. It is so simple to block out the things we do not agree with. To cut down our feeds to the point where we only see what we want is so simple. We can cut down the incoming information to a narrow view of what is really happening in the world, creating a sense of sameness. I refuse to do that to myself. It is my mission to take in as much information as possible and sift through it to create my own truth.

My list of Facebook friend’s consists of a myriad of different people from a variety of different backgrounds. I am not saying that I have covered every possible demographic, but I have a good representative group. This is the way I like it. If we are going to speak of diversity, shouldn’t we allow everyone in. The moment we start limiting the people involved in the conversation, we create an artificial diversity which is actually completely homogenous.

This is not to say that I have all the same people on my Facebook page as I had from the beginning. I have been unfriended on more than one occasion for saying things about my belief in universal health care or my desire for more strict gun control policy. My favorite ever unfriending was by a computer programer friend who disagreed with me on the proper use of the subjunctive. He was wrong, by the way. If a were a different person, I would have unfriended him in the first three minutes of the conversation, but I am not.

So, the next time you prepare yourself to click on the unfriend button, consider for a moment why you are getting ready to eliminate that person. Often I sit reading something I disagree with and wonder to myself, why I will not unfriend the posting person. Then I think about who they are and why I have them on me feed in the first place. I hope that I survive your unfriending spree, as you will likely never be unfriended by me.

Nux: The Engine of Change

Nux

If you haven’t seen Mad Max, this post is about specific plot points. Read at your own risk.

A lot has been made about Mad Max: Fury Road in the past couple of weeks. There has been a considerable amount of discussion concerning the film as it relates to feminist discourse. Many people are lauding or deriding George Miller for the story he has put on the screen. Furiosa (Charlize Theron) is an amazing character and has garnered a fair amount of attention from the viewing public. The thing that is most interesting, however, is that while the world focuses on the relationship between Furiosa and Max, it has failed to pay attention to the character who is the true heart of the film, Nux (Nicholas Hoult).

It is imperative that in all fiction characters must change from the beginning to the end of the story. Without any changes, the character becomes flat and the whole tale becomes about as dull as watching paint dry. Mad Max: Fury Road is an excellent example of a film full of sound and fury, signifying almost nothing. If we pay close attention to the plot, Max and Furiosa race against Immortan Joe to get to The Green Place. Once they get to the desired location and find it to be a barren wasteland, they race back to their starting point. In the long run, neither of these characters change much. Both Max and Furiosa are protectors of the innocent and by the end of the film, they are still fulfilling their roles. Nux, on the other hand, is so much more.

When we first meet Nux, he is a member of the War Boys, a group of juvenile delinquents Immortan Joe has duped into fighting for him. Nux is incredibly ill from radiation poisoning and knows full well that he is going to die. His only desire is to, “die historic on a fury road!” Nux does not wish to die a wasting death while his friends are going out in a blaze of glory. Miller presents Nux as no more than a child when he fights with his best friend and lancer, Slit, over the wheel to his car. Nux doesn’t even have any really idea why he is going out to battle Furiosa, only knowing that she has stolen Immortan Joe’s property.

Now, let us consider that the only reason Max is in the film at all is because he is attached to Nux by a length of chain and tubing as an infusion bag. Nux actually brings Max along for the ride, and therefore is the impetus for the title character’s story.

Throughout the whole first half of the film, we see Nux doing everything in his power to please Immortan Joe, a man he seems to worship to the level of a god. Yet, he cannot seem to do anything other than fail. Time and time again, Nux is given the opportunity to win glory in the eyes of his would be god, but he can never seem to make the leap from War Boy to legend. It is only when he fails at his task in front of Immortan Joe that Nux begins to truly become a man.

The next time we see Nux, he is busy pounding his head on the floor of Furiosas truck, lamenting how he has failed the great Immortan Joe. He has lost all value in his mind, as he knows he has been abandoned by his god. He is found by Capable (Riley Keough) who manages to talk him off of his ledge. It is in that moment where Nux realizes both the value of life and the level of evil Immortan Joe is capable of. This change of heart is what makes Nux the true center of the film.

As the story continues, the audience is given glimpses of Nux doing anything within his power to preserve the lives of his traveling companions. More than once, he risks life and limb to make sure that everyone else makes it to their final destination. He has abandoned his worship of Immortan Joe and become a man who thinks for himself. From this point forward, Nux spends most of the film making sure that the truck, which is so integral to survival, keeps running at peak levels. He is the one who gets it out of the mud, he is the one who properly stokes the fire, he is the one who fixes the engine when Max blows it out.

As if all of this were not enough, Nux is the member of the traveling group to make the ultimate sacrifice, overturning the truck and saving the rest of the characters. We know from the outset of the film that Nux is going to die in a spectacular blaze of glory on The Fury Road, but what we do not know is how. At the beginning of the film, it is easy to root his death. He is a fool, incapable of independent thought. He functions only as comic relief, an idiot who sees no value in human life. By the time of his death however, he has become so much more. Miller has designed Nux’s story line perfectly so that the audience feels sadness at the loss of a young man who is finally coming into his own.

The brilliance of all of this is that George Miller even telegraphs the change in the character design. The War Boy’s as a whole are a relatively indistinguishable mass of bald, pale skinned cannon fodder. Not Nux though. Nux has one very defining feature, his scarification. Raised on his chest, as though carved with a jagged knife, is an engine block. As we all know, the engine is the heart and soul of a car. It burns the gasoline, and keeps the parts moving. Without the engine, a car is nothing more than a shell of itself, a few thousand pounds of worthless metal.

Avengers: Age of Ultron and The Failure of the Modern Discourse

Quirk Avengers

I have watched the internet eat itself over the last week. No doubt some of you are expecting me to weigh in on the various aspects of Avengers: Age of Ultron, which have been so hotly debated over the last seven days. Well, get ready to be shocked. No! I refuse to give an opinion about the film other than the fact that I found it enjoyable. The reason I refuse, is because I do not believe that the current modern discourse has the ability to take anything I say and not turn me into a villain. I am not here to discuss the movie; I am here to discuss the discussion of the movie, and the greater discourse at play.

I do not believe that there is much of value in the modern technological discussions being had. It has been a simple task not to weigh in because, I have seen both sides of the argument and it really just boils down to painting everything with a wide brush. It is incredibly easy to throw out a series of labels. Words that end in the suffixes ism and ist are bandied about with little regard to their true meaning. I have seen people threatened. I have seen people cowed into not speaking. I have seen the word Nazi attached to the back of words ending in ism and ist. Which, as we all know, is an excellent way to get people to believe what you are saying.

The modern discourse is simply nothing more than inflammatory. It has become its most base. This is not just the problem with Avengers, this is a problem around the internet as a whole. Every issue presented these days is boiled down to the most simple response. After all, what can we say of any value in 140 characters. I have watched people I know well, tear each other apart over the internet. These are people on both sides of the argument who I respect. People who do not know each other, yet over a short series of words passed back and forth over a piece of entertainment, they have become mortal enemies.

The modern discourse does not consider context. It does not consider facts, or statistics. It does not consider history. It is driven purely by emotion. It is reactionary and intentionally inflammatory. No longer do we turn to the three rhetorical styles of ethos, pathos and logos to make our points. Instead, we hurl insults and tear at each other like rabid animals focused only on the kill.

We have created a narrative which consists of an “Us” vs “Them” mentality. The problem with this course, is that these discussions are so much more complex and nuanced than we have allowed them to be. So, the second we disagree, even in the slightest with “Us” we immediately become one of “Them.” The problem here of course is that we don’t believe one hundred percent with “Them” either. Therefore, we are neither “Us” nor “Them”, we become “I”; and “I” will never come out on top of an argument with “Them.” The fact of the matter though, is that none of that matters because the ubiquitous “They” are bad and we (read I) are good. Therefore, we are right and deserve to laud our rightness over “Them.” Isn’t that what the modern discourse is all about? Being right.

I promise that I can argue any side of the arguments revolving around Avengers. I can argue any side of any argument. I learned the requisite skill sets in college as an undergrad and grad student. This does not just apply to interpretations of films, it applies to the world at large. I have seen good things and bad things from people on all sides of every argument. The problem of course, is that the modern discourse only sees one thing at a time. We all have traits which are desirable and traits which are less so; but once we begin the internet arguments, we spend our time pointing out each others’ perceived follies. Since we do not really know each other, only the internet personas we see, we will never see the whole person. We will only see the horrible monster we have built up in our heads.

The thing that is the most interesting, is that many of the people I have seen arguing over the internet over the last week are more alike than they are different. They are closer to being grouped together in the same “Us” than separate as two very different versions “Them.” So the end result is a snake busy eating its own tail because he simply doesn’t realize that the tail is part of the larger whole.

Excitment of the day.

VERT_SFX_cvr1_54b95134ea8867.48025842

I have been writing small essays of recent on this blog, but I have some exciting news for the day. I got home from work and found a package waiting for me. Contained within said package was five copies of the Vertigo Quarterly SFX Pop! As many of you know, my short comic Pop-Up is contained within the pages of this awesome book.

This has been one of the best experiences of my life. Most of you know that I have built my life, to a great extent, around comic books. I started reading them when I was nine, and haven’t stopped since. So for me to actually be able to say that I have had the opportunity to write comics professionally is far and away one of the coolest things ever.

I would like to use today’s piece to thank some awesome people. David Hahn, your art is awesome. You did an amazing job of interpreting what I wrote and translating it to the page. Thanks to Andrew Dalhouse, whose color work really made the book pop. Rowena Yow, thank you for your awesome editing skills. You really pushed me to think hard about what I was putting on the page. Shelly Bond, Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this fantastic book.

To all of the creators who contributed to the anthology; I have read your pieces and they all rocked. Keep doing your art.

To anyone who wants a copy, they will be available at your local comic shop on Wednesday the 29th.

Now, I am off to re-read all of those fantastic stories.