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Sexed-Up Superheroes

The fine people at Web Hosting Buzz just released an infographic that I would be remiss not to share. It shows the “love connections” among Marvel’s superheroes.

In other words, it identifies Marvel’s loose ladies and super-pimps… sort of. Enjoy!

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Who hooked up with who in the Marvel Universe? (Web Hosting Buzz/Sploid)

 

Wonder-ful

Wonder Woman makes me feel like being a very bad boy (Warner Brothers)

At the recent Comic-Con convention in San Diego, California, Warner Brothers debuted footage from the upcoming film Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and, for the most part, its reception was quite good.

Yes, there are still people who doubt whether Ben Affleck can play the Dark Knight effectively, but there will always be naysayers.

Of course, one thing that might shut the naysayers up is Wonder Woman, who will be played by Gal Gadot in the 2016 film. Warner Brothers released an image of the Amazonian princess and one thing is for certain: she can tie me up with her invisible lariat anytime she likes! Hubba hubba…

Batman Ben

When I first heard that Ben Affleck had been cast as Batman in the 2016 sequel to Man of Steel, I was as skeptical as the next guy. Batman has always been one of my favorite comic book characters and honestly, Affleck didn’t seem like the best fit. I’m willing to give him a shot, though, and judging from this photo from the set of Batman vs. Superman, it looks as if he could be a good fit after all.

I admit that Ben looks pretty cool as Batman! (Zack Snyder/Twitter)

I admit that Ben looks pretty cool as Batman! (Zack Snyder/Twitter)

Any thoughts?

Sexy Lady Heroes

Just a few of the sexy ladies from the DC Universe (DC Comics)

Female superheroes never get the respect they deserve.

Honestly, their primary purpose has always been as comic book “eye candy,” put there to appeal to the prepubescent teens and random nerds who form the target demographic. Before you start cursing me for referring to people this way, though, please understand that I am a comic book nerd from way back. I have boxes and boxes of them and wait anxiously for the release of every superhero movie, so I feel uniquely qualified to represent this imaginative—and sometimes pimply—population.

But I digress.

Lady heroes deserve to be praised for being more than just pretty faces and gorgeous bodies—which I assure you most all of them possess. Sure, some superheroes have earned their own comic book titles—like She-Hulk and Wonder Woman—but it isn’t the same. Somehow when you read those comics, you can almost feel their intended purpose: to pull in the few female comic book nerds out there and once again to convince horny little geeks to buy comics filled with their favorite sexy lady heroes.

I’m still waiting to see a title featuring a tough, no-nonsense lady hero who won’t take crap from anyone and kicks enough ass to attract readers from both genders. And who knows? A comic like this may already exist. I’ve been out of the comic buying game for a while, so I confess to being rather ignorant of the current trends.

However, I did hear that Marvel Comics recently re-launched Ms. Marvel as a Muslim-American superhero, so at least that’s a start.

Yes, female superheroes deserve much more than what they’ve been given—which is little more than admiration based solely on their physical attributes. And I wish I could say this article was designed to break that pattern and to spark a conversation about gender equality in the comic book business, but sadly, this is not the case.

I am a comic book nerd—to some degree—but I am also a heterosexual male who grew up eyeballing the same female superheroes who struggle for relevance today. I guess you could say this is my own “horny little geek” coming out… so sue me.

Batman vs. Superman?

Coming soon to a theater near you! (Warner Brothers)

Coming soon to a theater near you! (Warner Brothers)

When I was a kid, few things tapped into my imagination more than comic books and their endless supply of colorful and charismatic characters: Green Lantern, Flash, the Punisher, Daredevil, Spider Man, the Hulk, Wolverine, Shang Chi, Black Lightning, Green Arrow… the list goes on forever, believe me. Like most kids, though, there were two superheroes that were always near the top of my favorites list: the Man of Steel and the Dark Knight.

Superman was an obvious choice because, honestly, he’s a badass. A common question among my friends was, “If you could be any superhero, who would it be?” Inevitably, someone always answered Superman since no other hero had the same impressive collection of powers: flight, heat vision, super strength, super speed and even invincibility—unless a villain had Kryptonite, which luckily was pretty hard to come by. And since Superman’s powers came from our yellow sun, there was never any fear of losing them. You could just fly around and fight crime forever as the world’s premier hero, beloved by millions of people and feared by evildoers everywhere.

Of course, I always answered the superhero question a little differently, a fact that confused friends who thought I might be selling myself short. Instead of picking someone like Superman, the Hulk or another freakishly powerful character, I opted for someone less flashy but just as awesome: Batman. Despite having no super powers to speak of—unless you count unlimited wealth and serious personal motivation (the result of his parents being gunned down by the criminal Joe Chill when he was a child)—Batman could hold his own against anyone. He didn’t need super strength, a power ring or some magical hammer to kick ass. Instead, he relied on his wits, intelligence, extensive training, nearly endless gadgets and deep-seeded hatred of crime to defeat some of the worst villains the comic book world had to offer.

I love almost everything with Batman (Pin It)

I love almost everything with Batman (Pin It)

What also attracted me to “The Caped Crusader” was the fact that theoretically, anyone could be Batman. Sure, you would need an almost bottomless bank account, a mansion and headquarters—preferably a cave—years and years of training and exercise and, most importantly, the will to devote your life to crime fighting, but at least it was possible. While my friends dreamed of being bitten by radioactive spiders, struck by lightning, exposed to cosmic energy or endowed with powers from some dying alien warrior—none of which were ever likely to happen, of course—I knew that given the right circumstances, I could become Batman in reality.

Laziness and a lack of financial resources obviously prevented this from happening later in life, but back then, anything was possible. And while my friends’ favorite superheroes constantly changed—based on popularity, toy availability and other factors—I always stuck with Batman. Not even a pathetic string of films—most notably that sorry 1989 debut featuring Michael Keaton as the pointy-eared crime fighter (as if Mr. Mom could ever do him justice)—could ruin Batman for me. They came close, but thankfully I stood by long enough to see Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale do right by my all-time favorite comic hero. And I’m sorry, but there is no better Batman film than 2008’s The Dark Knight—and no better Joker than the one created by the late Heath Ledger.

Sorry, Jack Nicholson, but it’s true. Heath set the standard and, consequently, I doubt we will ever see the Joker on-screen again, at least in my lifetime. No one will ever top his performance, so why even try, right?

Batman and Superman go way back (DC Comics)

Batman and Superman go way back (DC Comics)

Comic book films have certainly come a long way in the last twenty or thirty years, thanks in no small part to computers and the amazingly seamless effects they can produce. And The Dark Knight isn’t the only film that reignited my love for comics and superheroes. Movies like X-Men, X-Men First Class, Spider Man, Thor, Iron Man, The Avengers and the other two installments of the Nolan-Batman trilogyBatman Begins and The Dark Knight Rises—make me feel like a kid again. And that childhood dream of watching a film that truly honored the comic has finally been realized.

The other day, my son asked me why no one has made a crossover film yet—like a collaboration between comic book giants Marvel and DC. It was a pretty intelligent question coming from a six-year-old, believe me. Prior to this, his only exposure to crossovers came when we were thumbing through the comic book collection my brother and I put together as kids. I have two oversized comics that feature such crossovers: Batman vs. The Hulk and Spider Man vs. Superman. Both would make great films, we agreed, but then we started to brainstorm a few of our own: Batman and Wolverine, Superman and Thor, Spider Man and Batman, Spider Man and Wolverine—I actually have a comic that features these two characters, which is pretty cool—or even Batman and Superman.

This last combination would not be a true crossover between comic book companies—both come from the DC stable of heroes—but it would be something to see. And it would certainly rival Marvel’s first crossover film, The Avengers. What’s more, these characters used to partner all the time in the comic book universe. I have old Batman and Detective Comics issues from the 1950s and 1960s full of Batman-Superman team-ups, occasionally with Robin joining in the fun.

We should also remember the outstanding work of Frank Miller, who produced a true classic in 1986 called Batman: The Dark Knight. This limited series comic tells the story of a 55-year-old Batman who returns from retirement to face a new breed of vicious criminal, not to mention opposition from the police and federal government. He even faces off against one of his oldest friends—the Man of Steel—sent by the American president to stop the Caped Crusader. A ferocious battle ensues, of course, but I won’t spoil the ending. You may want to see it for yourself sometime soon.

Miller's Batman puts down the Man of Steel (DC Comics)

Miller’s Batman puts down the Man of Steel (DC Comics)

That’s right, ladies and gentlemen. The news I have been waiting for all these years has finally come: a Batman-Superman crossover film is currently in the works.

The official announcement from Warner Brothers came at Comic-Con on Saturday and production is expected to begin next year. From what I understand, Man of Steel director Zack Snyder and current Superman star Henry Cavill are already onboard, as are Amy Adams, Laurence Fishburne and Diane Lane. No word yet on who will play Batman, but it will not be Christian Bale, who recently told Entertainment Weekly he was out. Christopher Nolan will likely serve as an executive producer—which gets me even more excited since he saved the Batman films—but the lead role is still in question.

I suspect the new Batman will be Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who played Detective John Blake in The Dark Knight Rises. There is a scene at the end of that film where someone references his full name—Robin John Blake—which is an obvious nod to Batman’s sidekick in the comic books. Of course, the original Robin—Dick Grayson—never took up his mentor’s mantle, opting instead to become his own hero, Nightwing. That doesn’t mean the story can’t be changed for the movies, though. A new Batman will be needed once those films start being developed again—and given its financial power, someone is sure to start making them. Why not Gordon-Levitt? He’s bulking up, does a pretty good job on-screen and likely comes a lot cheaper than Christian Bale. I certainly hope they give him a shot.

Could Gordon-Levitt be the next Caped Crusader? Or Nightwing? (gamekyo)

Could Gordon-Levitt be the next Caped Crusader? Or Nightwing? (gamekyo)

This summer’s Man of Steel proved that a new face could carry an old franchise to glory—and Cavill was the second new face for Superman in the last seven years (Brandon Routh played the last son of Krypton in 2006’s Superman Returns, which was pretty forgettable). Snyder’s reimagining broke the record for the biggest June opening—raking in more than $125 million the first weekend—and has since topped $630 million worldwide. Drop Batman into the mix and there is no telling how much more can be made!

According to Snyder, Superman and Batman will be rivals in the new film, much as they were in Miller’s 1986 comic. In fact, Harry Lennix took the stage at Comic-Con and read a line from the classic Batman tale: “I want you to remember, Clark. In all the years to come, in all your private moments, I want you to remember my hand at your throat. I want you to remember the one who beat you.”

I don’t know about you, but to me it sounds like one hell of a flick!

7 Super Hero Movies I’d Love to See

Thanks to the swarm of comic book films in the last fifteen years, we are all too familiar with characters like Batman, Spider-Man, Thor, Superman, Captain America, Iron Man, the X-Men and most recently, The Avengers. And there are plans being made to expand on many of these franchises in the near future—Batman being the only one on the list likely to take a break. Of course, there are also discussions about where the next big hero will come from, and I have a few suggestions.

Some of these heroes and super teams may be familiar to you, while others may be slightly more obscure. My brother and I collected comic books when we were kids, so I have a working knowledge of both Marvel and DC characters. Marvel seems to be doing fine, so I’ll focus on DC characters here. A few may still pop up in comics from time to time, and at least one has been tossed around Hollywood for years and may soon be in development. Nevertheless, I believe all of them could be translated to the big screen with some degree of success. People love super hero movies, and I’m confident they would love these, too.

DC Comics' Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman

Okay. The film that I mentioned that might be in development soon is, of course, “Wonder Woman.” In a recent development, “Green Lantern” co-writer Michael Goldberg was hired to pen the new script, but that’s no guarantee the movie will be made. A number of different writers and directors have tried and failed to get the world’s most popular Amazon princess into theaters. So I won’t believe it until I see it.

But come on. Wonder Woman? Who wouldn’t go to see this film? She’s tough, smart and sexy at the same time; has an invisible plane and a lariat that forces you to tell the truth; and she uses metal bracelets to deflect bullets with lightning-fast reflexes. She is the total package! Men would drool over her, women would admire her, and teenage boys everywhere would… well, you know… to her. And forget about overseas revenue because it would be off the charts. There are men in every country of the world who would love to see Diana Prince kick some ass. Even America’s enemies couldn’t resist those star-spangled tight pants and striped corset.

Creeper (comics)

Creeper

This character is a little out there, but he has a certain maniacal, edgy charm that I just can’t resist. And I know he’ll look terrifying on the screen. It’s the Creeper, a DC comics’ character dating back to the late 1960s. His yellow skin, green hair and furry red cloak make him look like some kind of Rastafarian, reggae demon, but that’s a plus. I love reggae music.

Some background: Jack Ryder is an outspoken—and rather annoying—talk show host in Gotham City who gets fired for being an ass and becomes a security guard. He learns that mobsters have kidnapped a prominent scientist, Dr. Yatz, and dons a weird costume before attempting to rescue him. The mobsters shoot Ryder, so Yatz injects him with a special serum and places a strange device in his wound, which quickly heals over it.

It turns out this serum gives Ryder enhanced agility and strength, while the device allows him to switch back into costume. The catch is that every time he puts on the suit, he activates the serum, which in turn causes him to behave more and more irrationally. When the suit comes off, his psychosis disappears, but soon it’s like Ryder is two different people: himself and the half-demon, crime-fighting Creeper.

Tim Burton could make this film work very well, I think.

DC Hero Minifigs - Wave 10: Teen Titans

Teen Titans (Photo credit: levork)

The New Teen Titans

If you want to appeal to a youthful demographic, why not feature a super team of teenage heroes? And who better than the Teen Titans? What began as a small group of sidekicks in the 1960s—most notably Robin, Kid Flash, Aqualad and Wonder Girl, the younger sister of Wonder Woman—grew to include young heroes like Speedy (Green Arrow’s former sidekick), Starfire (an extraterrestrial and very sexy lady), Changeling (a shape shifter once known as Beast Boy) and Raven (a mysterious empathy).

When I first read the New Teen Titans comics, I found myself drawn to the controversial issues they addressed, including drug use, violent crime, alcoholism and teen suicide. The dramatic possibilities are endless. Throw in some new talent, a love triangle, an alien threat and a Justin Bieber theme song and you have all the makings of a blockbuster. I know I’d pay to see it, at least once the teenybopper crowd thinned out a bit.

The return of Nightwing. Dick in his fourth co...

Nightwing

Christopher Nolan, the award-winning director of the latest and greatest Batman films—“Batman Begins,” “The Dark Knight” and most recently “The Dark Knight Rises”—has already said he won’t make any more Batman movies. The way I see it, this leaves the door wide open for another dark night detective, Nightwing.

Batman’s original sidekick was Dick Grayson, a boy he adopted after criminals murdered his circus-performing parents. Dick adopted the mantle of Robin and fought alongside the Dark Knight until his teenage years, when he rebelled against his mentor and went out on his own. Robin spent time with the Teen Titans and eventually created a new persona, Nightwing. He and Batman are so similar that the transition could be seamless. Hell, Christian Bale could even do a cameo or two.

Plastic Man's shapeshifting abilities have oft...

Plastic Man

Although a great deal of CGI would be needed to pull this off, I would love to see a movie—likely a comedy—about the stretchiest hero of all time, Plastic Man. This guy could fight crime, of course, but the scenes of his character in normal, everyday situations could be hilarious. Plastic Man can stretch every inch of his body to great lengths, including some parts we dare not mention. Can you imagine him on a date or even being intimate with a woman? There are tons of laughs there, I assure you.

Deathstroke the Terminator

If it’s raw action you’re looking for, then look no further than Slade Wilson, a.k.a. Deathstroke the Terminator. This soldier turned mercenary isn’t your usual butt kicker. He’s taken on super heroes of unlimited power and always holds his own, even against super teams like the New Teen Titans. Of course, some of his strength comes from a super soldier serum he received during a secret army experiment, but that’s not important. What is important is that he is suave, debonair and, most of all, deadly. Deathstroke also has great crossover appeal, and we all know how important that can be these days. Last time I checked, The Avengers was doing quite well.

Black Lighting, cover details, Justice League ...

Black Lightning

A list like this deserves a little flavor, so I would suggest Black Lightning enter the mix. As one of the first African American heroes in DC comics, Jefferson Pierce—his “real” self and secret identity—paved the way for a multitude of diverse characters to come.

Pierce was a gold-medal Olympic athlete who returned to Suicide Slum—on the south side of Metropolis, Superman’s turf—as principal of Garfield High School. When a promising student named Earl Clifford is murdered by a criminal gang known as the 100, Pierce becomes Black Lightning and unleashes the metahuman abilities hidden inside him, in this case the power to absorb and manipulate electricity.

We all know someone like Quentin Tarantino would have a field day with this one.

These are definitely the “Big Seven” super hero movies I would love to see, but there are others I should save for a follow-up post someday. Like the Flash, or maybe Shazam. The point is that we don’t always have to settle for the so-called “big names” in comic books. There are smaller, equally rich characters in the DC, Marvel, Dark Horse and other comic universes. I guess what I’m proposing is an indie system within super hero movies. It’s a place where the little guys and gals can get their due.

They can’t all be Batman, after all.

I am Batman

Batman by Myles Gaythwaite, circa 1987

My good friend Myles—who I’ve always considered to be an artistic genius—scribbled this picture of Batman for me in the late 1980s. Like most of my other friends and family, he knew I absolutely loved Batman and had for quite a long time. Was he truly aware of my obsession?

I think not.

From a very early age, Batman was one of my idols as well as the subject of most of the comic books my brother and I purchased together. We loved all sorts of comic heroes, but the Dark Knight was always at the top of this list. The most obvious reason was that unlike other heroes, Batman relied on no super powers to fight notorious criminals like The Joker, Clayface and Bane. He wasn’t bitten by a radioactive spider, wasn’t sent here from a dying planet by his parents and certainly never got exposed to gamma radiation. Instead, he depended on his wits, his impeccable training and physique, and a multitude of different gadgets and equipment financed by his family fortune.

Okay. I had no family fortune and certainly wasn’t planning to travel the world to train with the masters of every fighting art, but somewhere inside I always felt like I could be Batman. I just didn’t have the bling or the willpower.

This didn’t stop my brother and me from pretending to be Batman. Back then, you couldn’t really find superhero costumes, at least not costumes kids could afford with their meager allowances. Instead, we convinced our parents to buy Batman underoos. For those of you who never heard of them, underoos were children’s underwear that included briefs and a shirt fashioned after heroes like The Flash, Superman and, of course, Batman. I think they had designs for girls, too, but criminals obviously wouldn’t be frightened to see Barbie or Strawberry Shortcake coming after them.

We played endlessly and took turns switching between Batman and his sidekick, Robin. I don’t know about my brother, but I only tolerated Robin because I knew eventually I would get the chance to be Batman again. And when we weren’t playing Batman, we were either reading comics—gathering ideas for our next adventure—or designing elaborate bat caves and utility belts, presumably to build later once we had the fortune to afford them.

As I got older, Batman maintained his solid grip on my imagination, even though I stopped spending money on comics and started spending it on beer, girls and the usual suspects. I attended a high school where students were required to wear collared shirts, but I got around it by sporting my favorite Batman t-shirts and wearing a long trench coat everywhere I went. And yes, it had a collar. Hell, I think Batman even ended up on my yearbook page—my graduating class consisted of only twenty students, so we all had our own spread.

Finally, I heard that a Batman movie was going to be released. To this point, my fix had to come from cartoons or that campy and seriously crappy series with Adam West and Burt Ward. At least Julie Newmar was hot as the Catwoman, which made some of the episodes bearable.

Julie Newmar as Catwoman

Then I heard some disturbing news: Michael Keaton was slated to play the title role. I was floored! Granted, Mike was outstanding in films like Clean and Sober, Johnny Dangerously, Mr. Mom and of course Beetlejuice, but Batman? I couldn’t see it.

And once I actually saw the movie, I wished that I hadn’t.

People will say that the movie wasn’t that bad, that Michael Keaton did a decent job and that Jack Nicholson’s Joker made it all worth it.

I disagree.

Eventually, Christopher Nolan came around and did things the way they should have been done in Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. And I’m sorry, but Michael and Jack simply cannot touch Christian and Heath in the Batman/Joker roles. Alas, Heath is gone, but now I have The Dark Knight Rises to look forward to.

I’m sure by now you have figured out that I am not Batman. And I’m sure I will never be, at least not until Batman becomes a middle-aged man with a beer belly and more affordable weapons and equipment, not to mention a pick-up truck instead of the Batmobile. But I tell you this:

I will be ready if that day ever comes.

Just don’t expect to see me in blue and gray tights. I simply don’t have the legs for it.

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