Monday, April 25, 2016


It's finally happening! After years of saying, "Well . . . Maybe . . ." Warner Bros Animation is adapting Alan Moore's classic story, Batman: the Killing Joke. Given the controversial source material, this was definitely tricky to pull off. However, its popularity won out. Not only are we getting the Killing Joke but we're getting the original voice actors with Kevin Conroy as Batman and Mark Hamill as the Joker. Basically, all of us that were little kids growing up on Batman: the Animated Series are being treated to a very adult, R-rated take on Batman vs the Joker.

Like this only they can say swear words now!

The Killing Joke is one of my all time favorite Batman v Joker stories. There's a really touching moment at the end of the story where Batman reaches out to the Joker, offering to rehabilitate him. Joker considers it, then declines. "It's too late for me," he says. Personally, I can't wait to hear that played out between Conroy and Hamill. The movie's going to be amazing! 

Most of the DC animated films nowadays follow their own continuity loosely based on the New 52. Most actors play the same characters in the Justice League and Batman films. Usually there are three films a year, a Batman film, a Justice League film, and some sort of random out of continuity film such as The Killing Joke. Those ones tend to be the best in my opinion because they're based on existing comics and graphic novels or in the case of Justice League: Gods and Monsters they're totally original, really cool ideas.

The gang's all here! Mike, Sylvia, Chop Chop . . .

Everyone has a wish list for what comic should be adapted, and like any fan, I've given it a lot of thought. I'd like to share with you not only the comics I'd love to see adapted or perhaps ideas that would be fun, but the casts I'd love to see. Hold on to your hats!


STORY - The basic idea behind the story was, "What would happen in the last ever Superman adventure?" The comic was written as a kind of farewell to the Silver Age of DC Comics. Crisis on Infinite Earths was right around the corner and DC was going to go through a soft reboot, before anyone really knew what that word meant. So this is Superman's last stand against his greatest enemies. Given that it's a farewell to the more "outlandish" stuff in Superman's past, it's a pretty dark story. But there is a somewhat happy ending. 

CAST - I've always had it in my head that I'd love to see the cast of Smallville reunite. Since it's been a few years since the show went off the air, I think this would be a cool reunion type thing. And since it's animated, their salaries obviously would be a lot less than they were paid when the show ended. The story could actually be rewritten slightly to fit the events of the show into the story. Granted it wouldn't have to be rewritten by much, but just enough. But then again, maybe this is just my nerd brain wanting a Smallville reunion very, very badly . . . Oh well . . . 


STORY - Despite having the same title, this story is actually quite different from the Man of Tomorrow. In this story, all of Batman's rogues and allies gather together at his funeral and tell vastly different stories of the way he died. What they all don't realize is that the ghost of Bruce Wayne and his mother are watching. Bruce is confused as to why they are all telling such different stories until he realizes that each character has their own idea of Batman and the legend he spawned. It's a really interesting, very different kind of Batman book. I'd love to see this and the Man of Tomorrow adapted into a short film collection. We could call it Whatever Happened to the World's Finest! Darn, I'm good! 

CAST - The cast for this is simple - since this features a who's who of Batman rogues and allies, let's bring back the film cast! I'd love to see Michael Keaton as Batman again, even if it was just in a voiceover. Plus let's get Michelle Pfieffer, Danny DeVito, Chris O'Donnell, and whoever else would be willing to lend a voice from the original films. I know it would be a long shot for a lot of them, especially Jack Nicholson and Jim Carrey, but come on! How awesome would that be? Again . . . I know I'm just dreaming . . . 


STORY - Given that nostalgia is on the rise nowadays, it's actually kind of strange that a Batman Beyond film hasn't been mentioned as even a possibility! Those same little kids I mentioned that loved Batman: the Animated Series also grew up with Batman Beyond as a worthy successor. I have very fond memories of watching this show with my sisters growing up. It always seemed like a great addition to the Batman legend. Terry McGinnis is officially a DC Comics character now too, with his own series (even though I think he was killed off . . . But I think he's coming back with Rebirth . . . who can tell?). I'm not sure what type of story they could do, but something that would continue the series or possibly adapt one of the Batman Beyond 2.0 comic book arcs. I'd pay to see those!

CAST - Well obviously it would have to include Will Friedle as Terry and Kevin Conroy as Bruce Wayne! Unless they went with a "reboot" type of film and recast. Then my vote would be for David Mazouz (Bruce Wayne on Gotham) to play Terry. Because come on . . . wouldn't that be amazing? Oh and Conroy should still play Wayne. Cuz . . . who else could do it? No one! That's who!


STORY - This is definitely one of my favorite comic book arcs. One of the reasons I loved it so much was because it always surprised me and I never knew what was going to happen next. Superman has become a minion of Darkseid and is terrorizing Earth with the minions of Apokalips. Batman is Thomas Wayne, hooked on Miraclo, a drug that gives you super strength, Lois Lane is the Red Tornado, another Kryptonian has been found but he wants to be a pacifist and remain out of the fight, Green Lantern is one with the Earth, Dr. Fate has been beaten into insanity by Superman (called Brutaal by Darkseid), and the Flash and Hawkgirl are overwhelmed with trying to save the world. Needless to say, a lot is going on. Earth 2 was one of my favorite comics. The original trinity of Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman were killed in the first fight against Apokalips so it's up to the new heroes of Flash, Green Lantern, and Hawkgirl to defend the Earth. That could easily be told in a flashback or prologue and then cut to the Earth being over run by Apokalips and the new heroes struggling to fight back. Yeah . . . this movie needs to get made . . . 

CAST - This could be a very exciting cast! I'd love to have Kevin McKidd from Justice League: the Flashpoint Paradox return as Thomas Wayne/Batman, then get Matthew Gray Gubler (Criminal Minds) to play Jay Garrick/the Flash, Paget Brewster (Justice League: Gods and Monsters) as Lois Lane/Red Tornado, B.J. Britt (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) as Val-Zod, and Adam Campbell (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) as Alan Scott/Green Lantern. Those are my picks anyway, cuz I love those actors and if this story was every adapted they would all fit their roles perfectly. 


STORY - Much like the Batman: Assault on Arkham film before it, I would love to see a film within the universe of Injustice. Granted, all that would really have to happen is for the comic book series to be adapted to film. The series, particularly the first volume, was some of the absolute best comic book stories I have ever read. I constantly find myself rereading those issues because they are so well crafted. Like with Earth 2, since it took place out of the main continuity, the story could go in any direction and never ceased to surprise and amaze me. The story goes that the Joker tricks Superman into killing Lois Lane and their unborn child. Superman, in a state of grief-rage, murders the Joker in cold blood. From there it's a downward spiral as he takes it upon himself to rule over the Earth with an iron fist while Batman and a few insurgents try to stop his Regime. Simply. Wonderful.

CAST - Well, the video game featured the return of George Newbern as Superman, Kevin Conroy as Batman, and Adam Baldwin as Green Lantern (in the game as the Yellow Lantern). Let's not reinvent the wheel here. Bring them back to voice their characters including anyone else from the Justice League animated series that wants to join in. Because nostalgia always wins!


STORY - Yes, yes I know. I know. I've made similar suggestions to this many, many times in the past. Many times. But you know what . . . It's worth repeating, that's how adamant about this particular project I am. How cool would it be to see a Justice League animated film starring Supergirl, Green Arrow, Flash, Firestorm, the Atom, Hawkgirl, Rip Hunter, White Canary, Martian Manhunter, etc, etc?? The way I would do it is as a team up film where they already know each other. That way, it's the best of both worlds. We don't have to explain the Multiverse or anything like that. These characters are in their own continuity fighting some crazy evil thing like their version of the Injustice League! How cool would that be? You'd have Captain Cold, Malcolm Merlyn, Bizarro Supergirl, Vandal Savage and others teaming up to take down our heroes! This is assuming of course that we decide to make Captain Cold and Heatwave villains again instead of heroes like they are (trying to be) on Legends of Tomorrow

CAST - Bring them all in! Grant Gustin, Melissa Benoist, Stephen Amell, Brandon Routh, Caity Lotz, Victor Garber, and the rest of the crew! This would be so much fun! Like the animated Vixen series on the CW Seed app but way better because it features so many more characters! And it's not like 5 minutes long.


STORY - Another amazing story. And this one was written by none other than the amazing Geoff Johns! And to be fair, this is the first of his work I've included on this list. Score one for me! Thinking outside the box! Haha! Ahem . . . Anyway . . . The story begins with the Crime Syndicate from Earth 3 having trapped the Justice League in the Firestorm matrix. They've taken over the world! It's up to Lex Luthor, his failed Superman clone B-Zero. Captain Cold, Deathstroke, Sinestro, Black Adam, Black Manta, and *gasp* Batman and Catwoman to save the world and rescue the Justice League. The Crime Syndicate are evil versions of the Justice League from a parallel Earth. They are ruthless, nasty, vicious killers. They are the polar opposites of the heroes and great characters. 

CAST - This could actually fit in the regular animated continuity so keeping the same actors like Jason O'Mara as Batman, Harry Lennix as Black Manta, although I would want to replace Steve Blum as Lex Luthor with Clancy Brown. Why? Well . . . See previous answer about nostalgia winning. As for the Crime Syndicate I think it would be fun to cast the Justice League animated series actors. How much fun would that be for Michael Rosenbaum to be Johnny Quick (the evil Flash), Kevin Conroy as Owlman (evil Batman), George Newbern as Ultraman (evil Superman), and so on and so forth. Since Catwoman has not yet been cast, as of this writing, in any of the recent animated Bat-films I'd vote for Eliza Dushku to reprise the role of Catwoman from Batman: Year One. I mean, wasn't she great? And why hasn't she been cast as the live action Catwoman? She'd be great! 


STORY - This particular story actually just finished up, as of this writing. This was one of the more bizarre but totally fun runs on Batman. Batman is presumed dead and Powers International decides to create a new Batman. Jim Gordon is recruited and he tries to keep the city safe as a (somewhat) police sanctioned Batman. But when a mysterious new foe named Mr. Bloom begins wreaking havoc on Gotham City, Jim realizes he's in over his head and what it really means to be Batman. <------- Did ya see that? I could write these plot synopses for or something! HA! Ahem . . . Anyway, it's a really cool story where Jim gets a robot Bat-suit as well as a Batsuit designed for him to wear for "stealthier" operations. The story also features a Bruce Wayne with no memory of his life as Batman. He's working with the city's under-privileged kids and is happy with his girlfriend Julie Madison. During the story he starts to kind of remember who he is and by the end realizes he needs to get his memories back and help save Gotham City. Because Bruce Wayne must always be Batman!

CAST - Even though this is part of the New 52 and if it was adapted it would probably fall under the current Batman films starring Jason O'Mara. However, given that this story predominantly features Jim Gordon as Batman I would actually cast my vote in a different direction. Let it be a stand alone film and bring back Bryan Cranston as Jim Gordon!  Then we could use Ben McKenzie as Bruce Wayne! Yes, technically that would make this a sequel to the animated Batman: Year One. But come on! Who wouldn't want to hear Cranston as Batman? Even as a Jim Gordon version of Batman. Still . . . It's too good to pass up! 


STORY - In this particular story, Superman and Batman's histories are altered by Saturn Queen, Lightning Lord, and Cosmic King, evil versions of the Legion of Superheroes from the future (cuz comics!). Superman and Batman are the rulers of the Earth and the only rule is obey or die! Throughout the story, Superman and Batman are flung around through time and space while history tries to correct itself. Many strange and exciting versions of the DCU are seen as they travel around trying to fix the timeline. It's a pretty exciting and strange story. Honestly, I'm surprised it hasn't been adapted yet. It's the third story following Public Enemies and Apocalypse (but in the comics was the Supergirl arc). I would have thought that this one would have been produced by now but for whatever reason it was not. Granted, it could still happen and I think it should. Like Gods and Monsters and Flashpoint Paradox it's so much fun to see alternate realities for the heroes. It makes us miss the real world as well more curious about this crazy alternate place. At least, that's what I think!

CAST - This one is easy enough to start with! Since it's a continuation from the other stories we just get Kevin Conroy as Batman and Tim Daly as Superman! As for the main villains, that's a little trickier! But I'd cast my vote for Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Walking Dead) as Cosmic King, cuz he has just enough charm in his voice to hide his menace, Diane Neal (Law and Order: SVU) as Saturn Queen because she has a soft, soothing voice but can turn into a bitch in a heartbeat, and Ryan Eggold (the Blacklist) as Lightning Lord because he can be a real friend or a real enemy depending on what side he's on (or you're on!). 


STORY - Ok so it's another Geoff Johns one! So sue me! Anyway, this is a re imagining of Batman's origin. Gotham City is corrupt, dangerous, and a nightmare to live in. Bruce Wayne creates the Batman to try and inspire the city out of darkness as well as solve the murder of his parents. The story features very different, and awesome, takes on Jim Gordon, Harvey Bullock, Harvey Dent, Alfred, Bruce Wayne, the Penguin, and a new character named Jessica Dent, twin sister of Harvey. As far as Batman stories go, this one is one of my all time favorites. The first volume is really great but the second one definitely kicks it up to 11. If you are a fan of Batman or just great crime stories I highly recommend the series. It has the same "realistic" feel that the Nolan movies had as well as a dash of comic book craziness. But not too much. The stories are pretty grounded actually. And that's what makes them so compelling to me. I almost feel like I'm reading non-fiction. Gosh, I could go on all day!


Boom! There's your cast! Granted, David Mazouz might be a tad too young to play a 20something Bruce Wayne, but I'd let it slide if it meant we got these other actors playing the characters. Cory Michael Smith would kill it as the Riddler just like he does on the series. And let's face it, we all want more Robin Lord Taylor as the Penguin! Gotham is modeled a little bit after Earth One so this casting and design would make perfect sense! Let's do this!!

You might have noticed I didn't mention any of the more popular choices like Batman: Hush, Kingdom Come, Superman: For All Seasons, etc. Well, I stayed away from those for two reasons - 1 because they are on everybody's list and 2 I'd like to keep a more open mind to the more obscure choices because I believe they could also make for compelling films. Also, in some cases you'll notice I was going for a great cast over an existing story. But that's only because I'm so in love with these properties! I want to see more and more in any way I can! Can ya blame me? If it ain't broke, don't fix it! 

Till Next Time!

JJ - The Comic Junkie! 

Monday, April 18, 2016


If you were a kid growing up in the 90s, like I was, odds are you were a fan of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. I loved it. It was so much fun to watch. You could easily get sucked in and just enjoy the kick ass action. Granted, Power Rangers has not aged well. It's very cheesy, cliché, and corny. The three C's! Haha! Ahem . . . anyway . . . I remember going to the movie theater and seeing the original film with my mom. I was so happy. It was so much fun. I watch it now and still smile a little bit. Yeah it's cheesy but it's still fun. I mean when you're a kid the Power Rangers are so cool. They represent pure good and they always defeat evil. It was pretty inspiring.

These days, whenever you go to some sort of Comic Con, whether it's big or small you'll see people dressed as the Power Rangers or at least wearing Power Ranger T-shirts.

That's my friends and I from this past weekend at Steel City Con in Pittsburgh, PA. We actually got a lot of compliments and people wanted to take our picture. Even with just the T-shirts! That says a lot about the impact that Power Rangers has had on so many people over the years. When it was announced that a reboot was in the works, I became very excited. Like many fans, I'm very skeptical. However, I still have high hopes. But if I have any say in these things, and I don't, I'd like to offer my opinion on what I think could make the new Power Rangers film successful.

The major complaint I have about the Power Rangers is that it's way too cheesy. I'm not necessarily talking about the special effects.  I mean it's a low budget TV show, it's allowed to look a little cheesy. I'm talking about the dialogue. It's a whole other level of cheese. I can't take the situations that they are all in seriously because of it. I don't mind some witty banter during a fight scene, I mean I'm a comic book fan after all, but Power Rangers lays it on super thick. I love comedy during action scenes, I mean it helps to make the destruction and death light, especially in a kids' show, but for real . . . just chill with it this time. Having said that . . .
Watching Power Rangers now on Netflix, I can't help but notice how optimistic the show is. Although the city is constantly in danger and the Rangers are fighting evil every week, there is this overwhelming feeling of optimism. Good will always triumph over evil. Recent superhero TV shows like Supergirl and the Flash follow this formula. Even though there is a lot of danger every episode, the characters are happy, healthy, and willing to have fun. That's important to show kids. It's important that they remain optimistic even though life can be very cruel. The Rangers are constantly smiling and having a good time. They are all genuinely good friends and help each other out in every crisis, big or small. That's important to keep that in the new film. It doesn't have to be cheesy, it just needs to be real. They can all be great friends, full of optimism without being cheesy. Oh that reminds me . . .
Another issue I have with the TV series is that the Power Rangers are pretty much interchangeable. They don't really have distinct personalities. Billy is supposed to be the brainiac, Zack is the cool kid, Jason is a jock (kinda), and Kimberly is the valley girl but for the most part, you could give their dialogue to another character and no one would be able to tell the difference. I saw an interview with the writers/producers of Buffy the Vampire Slayer where one writer confessed to giving a line of dialogue to another character and Joss Whedon found it immediately and knew what he did. I think that's something that needs to happen with Power Rangers. We should be able to tell the difference between each character, not because they're color coded but because they are all different people. They can all be very different and still be friends, that's realistic. It's more realistic than all of them being exactly the same and being instant best friends. I'd rather they learn to become best friends. That's how my friends and I are. We're all similar but have very different personalities. It helps add an element of realism to the craziness of what they're doing.
After rewatching the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers movie I have to say that the fight scenes are really cool. I'm sure that this will not be an issue in the new film. Given that nowadays superhero films are known for including really incredible fight scenes, I'm hoping that tradition will continue with Power Rangers. The show was really good about showcasing the Rangers fighting the Putties or whatever monster individually and as a group. In keeping with my last request, let's see each Ranger fight a little differently. Each Ranger fights pretty much the same in the series with a few exceptions like Kimberly fights a bit more like a gymnast and Tommy does more, for lack of a better term, more aerial fighting techniques. It makes them look a little different from the others. I think, to enhance the fighting scenes, the characters should fight well individually but together they all look really cool and exciting. It would make the film look visually different compared to other superhero movies.
I never quite understood how Zedd and Rita could never get one up on the Rangers. The closest Rita ever came was when she had the Green Ranger (more on that later). The closest Zedd ever came was the first time he faced the Power Rangers. When they joined forces it looked bleak for a second then the Power Rangers won again. And again. And again. It was just a teensy bit ridiculous. When I would watch Batman: the Animated Series, it seemed like there was genuine conflict. There were times where I believed that Batman may not win against the villain. However, I never thought that with the Power Ranger villains. Maybe it's because it was always Rita, Zedd, King Mondo, or whatever that was attacking them, but it lost its appeal. Elizabeth Banks has been cast as Rita Repulsa in the new Power Rangers film. I think that's great casting because she's great, but let's make sure that she's a believable threat to the Rangers. It would help to make the story much more exciting and the heroes' triumph all the more satisfying.
Ok so not so much a suggestion as it is a question. In my opinion, the Power Rangers were always at their best when there was a sixth ranger. While the Green Ranger always felt like a bit of an outsider, probably because he started off evil and tried to kill everyone, the White Ranger always felt like part of the team. It's probably because of how the show was set up where Tommy lost his powers and then came back more powerful than ever, but that's how I always felt. The cast list for the new film only included the original five rangers. That's disappointing but understandable. Perhaps the Green Ranger story is being saved for the sequel. However,  I hope that they don't wait to do the White Ranger. I'm hoping that the Green Ranger and the White Ranger battle in the next film. That happened in the series and still remains one of my favorite episodes. I'd like to see an updated, awesome version of that in the new films.
I would argue that the best villain on the original series was Goldar. He loved torturing the Rangers, fighting the Rangers, and just being the villain. In the later seasons he became less threatening and more annoying. But the early episodes he was always front and center, beating up and torturing the Rangers. I'll never forget the Green With Evil episodes where Jason was trapped in a duel to the death with Goldar, without his powers. Goldar took a lot of pleasure in torturing Jason as well as beating the crap out of him. In my opinion, that's what made him so scary. He knew he was evil and loved it. He had no problems just tormenting the Rangers mentally and physically. I'd love to see him in the new film just rip the Rangers apart. If any of the original villains stand a chance of destroying the Power Rangers, it's him. 
Over the past 20ish years, there have been many different interpretations of the Power Rangers. My personal favorite was the Power Rangers in Space. However, I did always love Power Rangers Zeo. The costumes looked so cool and the Zords were pretty bad ass. The Gold Ranger was so awesome looking. Between characters like Trey of Triforia (the Gold Zeo Ranger) and Andros (the Red Space Ranger) it always seemed to me like there were Power Rangers all over the galaxy. I'd like to see mention of them in the new film in some way. It could be a nod to the sixth ranger, which is very important to me, or just a way to give the Power Rangers a more universal feel. I like the idea that there are Power Rangers everywhere and maybe they're the only survivors of their respective crews. It's a way to make it realistic, tragic, but ultimately exciting when they embrace new team members. Plus, who wouldn't want to see a team up with multiple different Rangers? The Gold Zeo Ranger teaming up with the original Blue Ranger? Ummm . . . yes please! I mean they've kind of done stuff like that, but it would still be fun to see in live action and for real. Instead of just me playing with the toys . . . I MEAN . . . Uhh . . . anyway . . .
These are my ideas on what would make for a successful reboot of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers in 2016 (or 2017) when the film is released. I grew up on Power Rangers. They're very near and dear to my heart. I recognize how cheesy/corny it is now, but it doesn't change the fact that I still love it. When my friends and I talked about wearing the shirts to Steel City Con I got so excited. It was something we all loved as kids and everyone took notice while we were there. I can't wait to see a trailer and pictures from the new film. I'm hoping for the best with it. After all, with Bat in the Sun making a really cool new Green Ranger suit, Kyle Higgins writing a bad ass new comic, and superheroes at an all time high, it seems logical that a new Power Rangers film will capture all our imaginations all over again . . .
Till Next Time! and may the Power protect you!
JJ - the Comic Junkie