19 January 2008

I Know Why Smallville's Caged Bird Sings

First look at The Black Canary thanks to Kryptonsite.com. The look is ok and they got the fishnets, but the hair... not so much. Sorry Green Arrow, I think you could do better. I prefer the JLU animated version.

The Friends and Foes of Batman - The Joker

Sorry for the break in this feature, I guess I was daunted by the massiveness of el joker. But at long last, here he is.

The Joker has been referred to as the Clown Prince of Crime, the Harlequin of Hate, and the Ace of Knaves. He first appeared in Batman #1 (Spring 1940). In 2006, Wizard magazine rated him the greatest villain of all time. The Joker is a master criminal with a clown-like appearance, including bleached white skin, red lips, and green hair. Initially portrayed as a violent sociopath who murders people and commits crimes for his own amusement, the Joker, later in the 1940s, began to be written as a goofy trickster-thief. That characterization continued through the late 1950s and 1960s before the character became again depicted as a vicious killer. The Joker is widely considered to be Batman's archenemy. He has been responsible for numerous tragedies in Batman's life, including the paralysis of Barbara Gordon (Batgirl/Oracle) and the murders of Jason Todd (the second Robin) and Jim Gordon's second wife Sarah Essen.

In other media, the Joker has been portrayed by Cesar Romero in the 1960s Batman television series; Jack Nicholson in the 1989 film Batman; voice actor Mark Hamill in TV's Batman: The Animated Series; and voice actor Kevin Michael Richardson in the subsequent animated series The Batman. Heath Ledger will portray the Joker for director Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins sequel, The Dark Knight.

Though many have been related, a definitive history of the Joker before the chemical bath has never been established in the comics, and his real name has never been confirmed. He has been portrayed as lying so often about his former life that he himself is confused as to what actually happened. As he says in The Killing Joke: "Sometimes I remember it one way, sometimes another... if I'm going to have a past, I prefer it to be multiple choice!"

The first origin account revealed that the Joker had once been a criminal known as the Red Hood. In the story, a scientist looking to steal from the company that employs him adopts the persona of Red Hood. After committing the theft, Red Hood is dropped into a vat of chemical waste by Batman. He emerges with white skin, green hair, and a bizarre grin.

The most widely cited backstory can be seen in The Killing Joke. It depicts him as originally being an engineer at a chemical plant who quits his job to become a stand-up comedian, only to fail miserably. Desperate to support his pregnant wife, the man agrees to help two criminals break into the plant where he was formerly employed. In this version of the story, the Red Hood persona is given to the inside man of every job (thus it is never the same man twice); this makes the man appear to be the ringleader, allowing the two criminals to escape. During the planning, police contact him and inform him that his wife has died in a household accident.

Stricken with grief, he attempts to back out of the plan, but the criminals strong-arm him into keeping his promise. As soon as they enter the plant, however, they are immediately caught by security and a shoot-out ensues, in which the two criminals are killed. As the engineer tries to escape, he is confronted by Batman, who is investigating the disturbance. Terrified, the engineer leaps over a rail and plummets into a vat of chemicals. When he surfaces in the nearby reservoir, he removes the hood and sees his reflection: bleached chalk-white skin, ruby-red lips, and green hair. These events, coupled with his other misfortunes that day, drive the engineer completely insane, resulting in the birth of the Joker.

The story "Pushback," supports part of this version of the Joker's origin story. In it, a witness (who coincidentally turns out to be Edward Nigma, a.k.a. the Riddler) recounts that the Joker's wife was kidnapped and murdered by the criminals in order to force the engineer into performing the crime. In this version, the pre-accident Joker is called Jack.

The story "Case Study" makes a far different case. This story suggests that the Joker was a sadistic criminal who worked his way up the mobster chain until he was the leader. Still seeking the thrills that dirty work allowed, he created the Red Hood identity for himself so that he could commit small-time crimes. But eventually an accident involving Batman caused him to fall into a vat of chemicals, giving him his Joker appearance. However, the story suggests that the Joker never became insane. He is simply a sadistic, calculating human seeking revenge on Batman, hiding beneath the veneer of a psychopath.

In the 1990's Batman: The Animated Series, the Joker's origin is only hinted at in the Batman: Mask of the Phantasm movie. In a flashback, the Joker is seen before whatever turned him into the Joker(i.e. with normal skin and hair) as a driver/enforcer for Sal Valestra, one of Gotham City's crime lords. However, in the episode "Dreams In Darkness", an Arkham Asylum doctor says that the Joker's name is Jack Napier, the same name used in the Tim Burton's movie.

The 2007 story arc "Lovers & Madmen" offers a very different take on the Joker's origins. We meet the Joker, pre-transformation, and he gives his name as "Jack." He is a depressed, suicidal career criminal, who so excels at theft and murder that they no longer provide any thrill for him. In the course of a particular theft, he encounters Batman. The encounter jolts him out of his depression; he is inspired and amused by Batman's ludicrousness. Revitalized, Jack launches into a crime spree to toy with Batman. The conflict between Jack and Batman becomes so heated that Batman chooses to hand him over to the mob, who wants him dead. Grateful, the mob abducts Jack and takes him to a chemical plant to torture and murder him. Despite Batman's efforts to rescue him (having regretted his decision), an accident occurs and Jack is swept away with chemicals.

In Batman: The Killing Joke, the Joker shoots Barbara Gordon (then known as Batgirl and in later comics as The Oracle), paralyzing her. He then kidnaps Commissioner Gordon and taunts him with enlarged photographs of his wounded daughter being undressed, in an attempt to prove that any emotionally and morally stable man can become insane after having "one really bad day." The Joker ridicules him as an example of "the average man," a naïve weakling doomed to insanity; but fails in his attempts to drive Gordon insane as Batman saves the commissioner and even though distressed, Gordon keeps a sound mind. After this Batman tries one final time to reach the Joker, offering to rehabilitate him. The Joker refuses, but shows his appreciation by sharing a joke with Batman and allowing himself to be taken back to Arkham.

The Joker murders Jason Todd, the second Robin, in the story "A Death in the Family." Jason Todd discovers that a woman who may be his birth mother is being blackmailed by the Joker. She betrays her son to keep from having her medical supply thefts exposed, leading to Jason's brutal beating by the Joker with a crowbar. The Joker locks Jason and his mother in the warehouse where the assault took place and blows it up just as Batman arrives. Readers could vote on whether they wanted Jason Todd to survive the blast. They voted for him to die, hence Batman finds Jason's lifeless body. Jason's death has haunted Batman ever since and has intensified his obsession with his archenemy.

In the one-shot comic Mad Love, Arkham psychiatrist Harleen Quinzel ponders whether the Joker may in fact be faking insanity so as to avoid the death penalty. As she tries to treat the Joker, he recounts a tale of an abusive father and runaway mother to gain her sympathy. She falls hopelessly in love with him and allows him to escape Arkham several times before she is eventually exposed. Driven over the edge with obsession, she becomes Harley Quinn, Joker's accomplice and on-and-off girlfriend.

In "Last Laugh," the Joker believes himself to be dying and plans one last historic crime spree, infecting the inmates of 'The Slab,' a prison for super criminals, with Joker venom to escape. With plans to infect the entire world, he sets the super-powered inmates loose to cause mass chaos in their 'jokerized' forms. Meanwhile, he tries to ensure his "legacy" by defacing statues in his image. The entire United States declares war on the Joker under the orders of President Lex Luthor; in response, Joker sends his minions to kill the President. Black Canary discovers that Joker's doctor modified his CAT scan to make it appear that he had a fatal tumor in an attempt to subdue him with the threat of death. Harley Quinn, angry at the Joker's attempt to get her pregnant without marrying her, helps the heroes create an antidote to the Joker poison and return the super villains to their normal state. Believing Robin had been eaten by Killer Croc in the ensuing madness, Nightwing eventually catches up with the Joker and beats him to death. To keep Nightwing from having blood on his hands, Batman resuscitates the Joker.

During the events of the No Man's Land storyline, the Joker murders Sarah Essen Gordon, Commissioner Gordon's second wife, by shooting her in the head as she tries to protect the infants that he has kidnapped. He surrenders to Batman, but continues to taunt Gordon, provoking the Commissioner to shoot him in the kneecap. The Joker laments that he may be paralyzed, and then collapses with laughter as he "gets the joke" that Gordon has just avenged his daughter's paralysis.

In "Emperor Joker", a multipart story throughout the Superman titles, the Joker steals Mister Mxyzptlk's reality altering power, remaking the entire world into a twisted caricature, with everyone in it stuck in a loop, repeating the same patterns over and over. The conflict focuses on the fate of Batman in this world, with the Joker torturing and killing his adversary every day, only to bring him back to life and do it over and over again. Superman's powerful will allows him to fight off the Joker's influence enough to make contact with the weakened Mxyzptlk, who along with a less-powerful Spectre, encourages Superman to work out the Joker's weakness before reality is destroyed by the Joker's misuse of Mxyzptlk's power. As time runs out, Superman realizes that the Joker still cannot erase Batman from existence, as the Joker totally defines himself by his opposition to the Dark Knight; if the Joker can't even erase one man, how can he destroy the universe? The Joker's control shattered, Mxyzptlk and the Spectre manage to reconstruct reality from the moment the Joker disrupted everything, but Batman is left broken from experiencing multiple deaths. Superman has to steal Batman's memories so that he can go on, apparently transferring them to the Joker.

In the "Under The Hood" arc, Jason Todd returns to life. Angry at Batman for failing to kill the Joker in revenge, he takes over his killer's old Red Hood identity, abducts the Joker and attempts to force Batman to shoot him.

I could go on and on, but really that would just involve lots more cutting and pasting from wikipedia, so for more, head there.

The Dark Knight returns in 181 days!

18 January 2008

Trek Trailer Beams onto Youtube

A bit of a letdown, but I guess it is just a "teaser"

17 January 2008

NCC 1701 Unveiled

Looks like the Enterprise, nothing to write home about though really.

Trek Teaser Poster - Trailer Coming Soon

Keep your eyes on the Chips. A teaser trailer is coming to theaters tomorrow with Cloverfield. It won't be long until you tube brings it to the world. Until then, enjoy the new poster from the official site.

X-Files 2 Movie, Is the Interest Still Out There?

The Truth is out There, but after who knows how many years, do I still care about X-Files. I stopped watching when Scully got a new partner. Whatever happened to him? Maybe he should get a movie. Anyways, here is the first photo from the new film. Like the Harry Potter 6 photo, it doesn't give much away.

15 January 2008

Wonder Woman Movie Eminent

Though I should mention this will be in the DC DtV line along with the previously released Superman:Doomsday, and the superb looking Justice League: The New Frontier. In the case of Diana Prince, animation may be the way to go. The live-action movie has been in development hell, and this may be our best chance to see the gold bikini in any form.

Oh, and Keri Russell will be voicing the amazon... not sure about that choice yet.

A Princess & a Frog to Usher in a 4th Golden Age?

What do Snow White, Cinderella, and the Little Mermaid have in common? All three films began golden periods for Disney animation studios. All three where also "princess" movies. All three were musicals. Oh yeah, and all three of those princesses were Caucasians (brunette, blonde, and redhead). 2009's The Princess and the Frog promises to bring Disney back to it strength. Musical princess movies, this time breaking from tradition with an African American princess named Maddy in New Orleans. The movie has a singing croc, voodoo, and the sounds of Randy Newman. I have a lot of faith that Disney is finally getting back to what it does well (as opposed to pirates in space, or chicken little). Here is a first look at the film.