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Comic-Con Watch! 6 Brand New Avengers: Age of Ultron Posters And Counting!

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Each day of Comic-Con Marvel have been releasing two brand new, comic-con exclusive posters for Avengers: Age of Ultron.

So far, including those just released today, we’ve gotten six gorgeous posters of Iron Man, Black Widow, Captain America, Hawkeye, Scarlett Witch and Quick Silver. Not to mention a bonus glimpse at The Vision in the most recent poster.

Each of these posters are part of a larger image and when they are all complete they’ll piece together into, what looks to be a massive, awe-inspiring battlefield. A battlefield made up of hundreds, if not thousands of Ultrons!

We cannot wait to see the finished product!

Click on the thumbnails below to see each of the posters released so far.

Comic-Con Watch! Firefly Cast Reunite for Firefly Online Game!

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There’s been some amazing news for fans of Joss Whedon’s Firefly, out of Comic-Con.

It was announced yesterday that every one of the original cast will be reuniting to take on their roles for the online game.

That’s right folks, now you’ll be able to chat with Mal, listen to River’s poetic dialogue and perhaps even get into a bar brawl with Jayne.

It’s been 12 years since a ship called Serenity and its crew found a place our hearts and was quickly wrenched away. We Browncoats have never quite gotten over the loss, even with a movie and some pretty fantastic comics to tide us over.

This news might not quite heal the wound, but any consolation is a welcome one.

We can’t wait until the game is released, so we can immerse ourselves in the Whedonverse once again.

We don’t know what sort of ship we’ll want, or what sort of crew we’ll assemble. But we do know this, we’ll aim to misbehave.

New Hilarious Clip From Guardians Of The Galaxy!

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Oh, this is getting exciting isn’t it?

Only six days to go before Guardians of the Galaxy hits UK cinemas! We’re not sure how much more excited we can be at this stage. The reviews coming in from all corners have been incredibly positive and you only have to look at the trailers to know that it’s going to be something special.

Here we have, for your viewing pleasure, a brand new clip from the movie’s start.

We’ve already seen some of this material; the prison breakout has been well covered. But this seems to be a more uncut section of the movie.

What we love about this clip is the way Groot just wanders off in the background and does his thing.

This is a clip where you really want to be watching him. Not the others in the foreground. Just watch Groot.

It’s also fun how Drax just stands there watching Groot.

 

First Look At Once Upon A Time’s Live Acton Elsa!

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The excitement that surrounded Once Upon A Time’s season finale this year was palpable.

With the revelation of a new Disney Princess hitting the town of Storybrooke, that Princess, or Queen being Elsa from the phenomenally popular Frozen, fans were beside themselves with glee.

The casting for Elsa, Anna and Kristoff were revealed last month. Although some fans were disappointed that the original voice talent from the movie hadn’t been cast, Fringe’s Georgia Haig is sure to do a great job.

Now we have our first official look, courtesy of Time, at Elsa’s live action incarnation.

Here she is, looking less than amused.

SCOTT MICHAEL FOSTER, GEORGINA HAIG

Comic-Con Watch! New Ant-Man Poster!

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Comic-Con is here!

Well, not here. It’s far away, in San Diego. If you’re lucky enough to be there right now then all we have to say to you is this. What are you doing online? Go enjoy Comic-Con!

For the rest of us, left out in the strictly metaphorical cold, we have to be satisfied with the news and cool publicity that’s coming our way.

Ant-Man has been on a tough ride of late, losing its director amid much controversy and confusion has definitely put a damper on the films hype. But not to be discourages, Marvel have released this Comic-Con exclusive poster, featuring some brilliant concept art.

Entertainment Weekly got their hands on a preview of the poster. It shows Ant-Man in full costume, striking a very heroic pose and also riding an ant, as he is want to do.

In the background we see the floating ghostly heads of Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas, who’ll be playing the two generations of Ant-Men in the movie.

Check it out below.

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Hugo Strange To Appear On Gotham!

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I’m sure most of you are aware that today is Batman Day, the 75th anniversary of the Dark Knight. We’ve been celebrating it all week with our run down of tour top 5 Batman Comics and Our Top 5 Batman movies.

75 years is a long time and the popularity of batman shows no signs of stopping. With coutntless comic, movie and TV incarnations, Gotham’s protector never really seems to go out of style.

And now, with Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice on the cards, his stock is climbing even higher. It’s no wonder that Fox are bringing out a show based around Batman’s home city, Gotham.  The TV show will centre on Detective Gordon, who will one day be Batman’s friend and ally Commissioner Gordon.

We’re really looking forward to seeing what this show has in store for us. It’ll be providing background for Gotham’s villains and some insight into where Gotham was before the Bat came along.

We’re going to see new villains, like Jada Pinkett Smith’s Fish Mooney and of course some very recognisable baddies, like The Penguin, Catwoman, The Riddler, etc.

In a recent interview with IGN, the show runner and executive producer of Gotham talked about another name from the Bat-Verse who’ll be showing up in the series:

“Hugo Strange is going to pop up because we’re going to start dealing with how Arkham was created and why Arkham was created in the way that it was so, yeah, absolutely. It’s a Season One thing because in our telling of it the way Arkham was created and the why and how is one of the causes of the particular criminal climate in Gotham that allowed Batman to happen. The revolving door of Arkham is both a brilliant narrative device because it allows you to — you don’t have to kill people off, you can just put them in cold storage — but if you’re telling the story from the start you kind of have to explain, ‘What the f***? Why don’t you make that place a place people don’t escape from?’ We’re going to explain why it is the way it is and Hugo Strange is a big part of that.”

It’s going to be fun to see this particular character in action before Batman came into the picture.

We can’t wait!

Dwayne Johnson Confirms Role In DC film, But As Who?

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In an interview with Total Film, Dwayne Johnson has revealed that he has signed on to appear in an upcoming DC film. He wouldn’t tell exactly what the project was, but did give some strong hints.

The former wrestler has been linked to several different roles over the past few years, including the Green Lantern John Stewart and the Main Man Lobo. While being interview about Hercules, he was asked what character he would most like to play, and revealed that he has made a deal with DC about which character he will be playing.

He was able to confirm that he would not be playing a Green Lantern, but that his character has “the power of Superman”, and can “throw down”. He also took a moment to consider before teasing “Just say the word.”

When we put these hints together, especially with the rumoured DC film schedule leaked last month, all signs point to a Shazam film.

If Dwayne Johnson is in fact going to in a Shazam film, who will he be playing? Black Adam is a part many fans have suggested he play for many years, and it does seem the most likely.

Whether this is correct, and whether he is the right choice for the role remains to be seen.

 

Batman Day! Top 5 Batman Movies: #1 Batman: The Movie

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Directed By Leslie H. Martinson
Written By Lorenzo Semple jR.
Starring Adam West, Burt Ward, Lee Meriwether, Cesar Romero, Burgess Meredith, Frank Gorshin and Alan Napier.

So, uhm, yeah… it’s this one.

We get it, this isn’t going to get a universal nod of approval. Not everyone likes their Caped Crusader with a liberal helping of camp. Indeed, most Bat-fans at some stage in their lives will find themselves beyond frustrated at the lingering impression this Batman left on the public consciousness.  Nobody wants their favourite hero to be laughed at.

For too long, many have felt embarrassed by Adam West and Burt Ward as the Dynamic Duo. All those lazy mainstream media headlines with Biff and Pow in them grate, there’s no denying it. But it’s beyond time that we look back at this long since shunned part of Bat-history and realise the truth. It’s not laughing at Batman.

It’s laughing with him.

The year of 1966 saw both the first series of Batman aired on TV screens and then the release of this, feature length version. Originally, the plan was to start with the film, but 20th Century Fox felt this was a risky strategy. They worried about a financial flop, so wanted the TV show to debut first and test the waters.

Boy were those financial fears unfounded.

Bat-Mania was born. Never before and never since has Batman been so popular. His status today as the most popular superhero in the world owes pretty much everything to the overwhelming response this Batman got in the mid-sixties. Batman comics were in the doldrums, with plummeting sales figures. The Dark Knight was circling the drain. Then Executive Producer William Dozier pitched the Batman TV show and movie and, well, Holy History Batman!

Were it not for this iteration of Bruce Wayne, we wouldn’t be celebrating a Batman day and you wouldn’t be reading our articles (no, that’s not a reasonable price to pay).

When we drew up plans for this undertaking of ours, debate raged about what would be in, what would be left out and what the order would be. Ultimately, we decided that this film, Batman: The Movie, would be number one. It’s our favourite of the five. Put them down in front of us and we’ll pick this one more often than the others.

It’s the Batman film we most enjoy watching.

When it came time to watch back Batman: The Movie, following on directly from the other four, we noticed something. Something startling. Something unexpected. Something that proved we were right all along.

Batman: The Movie is better written than the other four.

And then some.

We’ll come back to how uproariously funny it is. We’ll not forget to mention the performances, the villains, the set-pieces and the stunts. We’ll get to all that. But what you don’t expect going in, even avowed fans of the TV show, is just how staggeringly well written this film is.

It opens at a million miles an hour and never takes it foot off the gas, rollicking along with a ferocious drive. It all feels so simple, the way it launches you into the story and carries you along each twist and every turn the plot takes. And it takes plenty. It’s a twisty turny thing, the narrative of this film, as scheme within scheme within counter scheme is hatched by The Dynamic Duo and their villains. To recount the plot in any significant way is nigh-impossible, such is the intricacy with which their attempts to arrest or kill the other weave in and out and all around.

You’d be staggered by just how much plot has unfolded within the first 20 minutes of this 105 minute movie. Not once, despite the break-neck speed, amongst all the myriad plot strands and narrative developments, does the audience lost track, feel overwhelmed or struggle to keep up. It carries you along effortlessly, a testament to the skill of writer Lorenzo Semple Jr. the writer of classic movies such as Pretty Poison, Three Days Of The Condor, The Parallax View, The Drowning Pool and of course Flash Gordon felt it was the best thing he’d ever written. It’s not hard to see why.

His control over such a wild ride is never less than total. The ease with which he moulds the component parts into one cohesive whole demonstrates exactly why in 2008 the Writers Guild of America hailed him as a Living Legend. The elements he had to incorporate where so myriad and yet it feels completely natural, so organic to the story. Nothing is superfluous; studio mandated or not, everything is made to work and everything has its place.

It’s a film of a thousand ideas, none of which are out of place, none of which are rushed through. It’s not too quick at all. It’s just remarkably, unbelievably well-judged.

With an enlarged run-time, inflated budget and much larger scale, Batman: The Movie wisely ups the ante with an expanse on everything the beloved TV show offered. Never-mind one special guest villain, here’s four. Cesar Remero’s Joker, Frank Gorshin’s Riddler, Burgess Meredith’s Penguin and Catwoman, played for the first time by Lee Meriwether, in the same story. Their goals are expanded, too. Here, it’s not some robbery, some theft or some plot to take over Gotham. Under the banner of the United Underworld, they have global aspirations.

It’s not just the number of super-criminals that is upped. We get not only the iconic Batmobile in this film, but a Bat-Copter, Bat-cycle and Bat-Boat, all of which are used to great effect. We get more set-pieces, more death traps and daring escapes, more trips to and from the Bat-Cave, more Bat-gadgets and more ambition.

Batman can be many things. He can be in many types of story. Here, it’s comedy. And what a comedy it is. The jokes are plentiful and every one of them hits the target. The variety of humour they’ve crafted into this film is astonishing. The amount of sight-gags alone is enough to reward every single re-watch.

The dialogue is, as you’d expect, delightfully funny. It’s so ridiculous that it’s sublime, with the most absurd lines being delivered with the most deadpan sincerity from the master straight-man, Adam West. He’s nothing short of brilliant as Bruce Wayne/Batman, playing the role of boy-scout, establishment man to perfection. He knows exactly what he’s doing, elevating the already brilliant writing to rarely matched levels of hilarity. Burt Ward, as Dick Grayson/Robin, is a whirlwind of enthusiasm, energy and gee-golly greatness. His innocence and exuberance make Robin a standout in every scene he’s in, with Ward’s commitment making you almost believe that he means every word.

 

Gordon, Alfred, Chief O’Hara, they all get ridiculously great lines. Indeed, Alfred’s exclamation of surprise, “Bless my dust-pan!” is one of the best you’ll ever hear in any comedy ever.

 

They all perform admirably, too. Indeed, it’s a fine performance from the ensemble cast as a whole.

As good as the rest are though, it’s the villains that really shine. Meredith, Meriwether, Romero and Gorshin are all absolutely electrifying. We’ve covered how sticking them together was genius writing. Yet as well written as they are, as well directed as they were, it’s the performances that take it to another level. They bounce around the room, but there’s method in that madness, craft in that chaos. Quite simply, it’s a joy to behold.

We get a wonderfully joyous, terrifically wild Joker who can’t seem to help being overcome with hilarity. His flailing, flapping antics are so closely controlled by Romero that it’s impossible not to laugh with him. You can’t take your eyes off the former heartthrob. What it must have been like, to see the face of so many Hollywood romance flicks careening around like a lunatic, a prank-pulling sophisticate. Burgess Meredith gives us a pompous, fierce, Machiavellian Penguin, one whose temper frays at a moment’s notice, his squawks more like roars. He chews the scenery as viciously as he chews those cigarette holders.

Meriwether fills Julie Newmar’s catsuit wonderfully, the original Catwoman unable to take part due to an injury. She adds a ruthless core to the character, a nasty manipulation in place of Newmar’s flirtation and occasional vulnerability. She’s some piece of work, the Catwoman of this film, given plenty to do when disguised as Miss Kitka. It’s here that some of the films funniest moments occur, her absurdly heavy Russian accent inexplicably fooling everyone.

Frank Gorshin’s Riddler, though? He tops even his fellow baddies. The manic energy bubbling away underneath and erupting in torrents of giggling, shrieking joy. Gorshin is the reason The Riddler is in the upper echelons of the Batman Rogues gallery at all. He never was before Gorshin catapulted the character’s popularity via the TV show. He’s never really been as well handled since. Frank Gorshin and Lorenzo Semple Jr invented the character as we know him today; a man whose joy comes from matching wits with Batman.

This film has so much to offer. There’s the satire; Cold War tensions, Pentagon incompetency, Presidential glory seeking and international relations are all targeted for knowing barbs. There’s the parody of 60s culture and old school Hollywood serials. There’s the surrealist and absurdist humour sprinkled in amongst the broader comedy beats. There’s the brief foray into romance for Bruce Wayne, who suffers clouded judgement, wild emotional responses and a broken heart. We also learn that when he goes out for drinks with a lady friend, he opts for milk from a brandy glass. There’s the small matter of the toughest, most competent live-action Batman in history. He’s the smartest, most adept human being of all time, whose physical endurance borders on the supernatural. There are the intentionally po-faced messages, poking fun at Hollywood pontification. There’s the action, the have-a-go fighting and the overwhelming sense of adventure that delights those a little too young to catch all the jokes.

There’s the inherent fun of the thing, which makes watching this movie such a treat. Only those with no fun in their soul, who take themselves far, far too seriously, would fail to enjoy watching this incredibly entertaining romp. It’s infectiously fun and, above all else, absolutely hilarious.

If your Batman needs to be the absolutely serious absolutely all the time, you’ll force yourself not to enjoy this. If your Batman is the grim, gritty avenger that stinks of adolescence, you’ll be furious that Batman could ever be described as fun. This isn’t how we’d write Batman, not what we want him to be all the time, nor even in main continuity.

But come on, the guy is 75 years old. He’s had some laughs over the years, and why not? There was a time, not too long ago, where he was absolutely hilarious. Adam West’s Batman was more Knight than Dark, his world bright and garish and absolutely mental. But it was also brilliantly written, brilliantly acted and brilliantly fun.

With a Biff! Pow! And Thwack! Batman: The Movie wins the battle for our top spot.

Holy milestone, Batman! Atomic batteries to power. Turbines to speed. Here’s to the next 75.

By Andrew D and Peter James Duffy

Batman Day! Top 5 Batman Comics #1: Grant Morrison’s Batman Run

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What if we told you every Batman story happened?

 Maybe they didn’t quite happen how it was presented originally, perhaps they didn’t quite happen how you remember them, but somehow, some way, they all happened.

That’s the idea upon which Glasgow’s very own Grant Morrison built his mega-run on Batman, a run which spanned seven years and seventy-two issues. It incorporated the work of a diverse range of artists including Andy Kubert, Tony S. Daniel, Frank Quitely, Frazer Irving and Chris Burnham, amongst others.

This is one of the biggest writers in the history of comics making the biggest statement about the biggest character. It’s a dense, multi-tiered, multi-faceted, multi-stranded work of art.

Okay, this is sort of a cheat. We could have broken it down for the purposes of this list, but then, the top five would all have been from this run. And we’d never have agreed on a top five. Instead, we’ve fudged the lines, but only a little. It is all one story. Each part progresses the story Morrison started in September 2006 and finished in September 2013.

We’d love to write a mammoth, sprawling academic paper on it. We’d love to analyse the myriad themes, go in depth on the plot, the characters, the techniques, the connotations and the meanings. But that’s not what we’re here for. Besides, it’d be ridiculously long and we’re guilty enough of that already.

This is our favourite Batman story ever, comics or not. Quite simply, it’s the most fun we’ve ever had reading comics.

 It’s not just that. Every time we re-read this run, it’s still the most fun we’ve ever had reading comics.

It’s still the best written, most exciting, most engrossing, moving, thoughtful, inspirational, entertaining, bold, innovative Batman story ever.

It started in Batman #655, the first of four issues that comprise Batman and Son. It moves things forward massively from the status quo. All of a sudden, Bruce Wayne meets his son, Damian. Raised by Talia Al Ghul and The League of Assassins, Damian had been groomed to rule the world, fulfilling the destiny Ra’s envisioned for his daughter and The World’s Greatest Detective.

We could try to summarise the plot of Morrison’s magnum opus. If fact, we did. It just wasn’t feasible. I mean, it was well written, rest assured. It was just way, way too long and we can’t do it justice. We’re talking about seven years of comics here. Comics that have far, far more ideas and developments and strands than any others. The sheer weight of the ideas in this run would be overwhelming, were it not for the frankly astonishing skill of the writer. He gives us pretty much every kind of story there is.

unnamed (6)There’s the globe-trotting adventure story of Batman and Son. There’s the twisted horror story of The Clown At Midnight, an experimental prose issue that deals in the disturbing psychological nightmare that is The Joker. The Three Ghosts of Batman is a street level mystery story, a detective story and a ghost story all at once. Bethlehem is a glimpse into a dystopian future.

The Island of Mister Mayhew is the tightest written, best executed murder mystery story you’re likely to read and The Third Ghost is an edge of the seat conspiracy thriller.

Then there’s Batman: R.I.P. It has all the hallmarks of a classic Batman tale. We’ve got the master-fiend and his master-plan. We’ve got the hero brought down to his nadir, his mind shattered, his home invaded and his cave destroyed. We’ve got the death-trap, the city under siege and the lunatics running the asylum. We’ve got the damsel in distress, the arch-enemy, the rallying of the allies and the hero’s glorious victory, just in the nick of time.

Batman and Robin contains element of all of these, but is primarily the purest form of superhero adventure. It’s also got the moving gradual development of Damian Wayne from spoiled, homicidal aristocrat to selfless superhero via his touching relationship with Dick Grayson.

The Return of Bruce Wayne literalises this multi-genre approach, with each issue in the six-part miniseries being a perfect distillation. Be it Pre-historic adventure, 17th century supernatural story, pirate treasure hunt, Western, hard-boiled private eye noir or sci-fi futurism, the writer and his specifically chosen artists nail it. It also includes the over-arching styles of science fiction and myth making.

unnamed (5)Batman, Incorporated also touches on several of the genres already mentioned, but at its heart it’s a tragic romance, doomed to fail and with horrific, operatic consequences.

This run is full of would be Batmen.

One of the key planks of Morrison’s approach was to bring a whole host of forgotten Batman stories back into continuity. The 1950s saw Batman comics awash with alien visitors, psychedelic tales and supernatural adventures. For the best part of 50 years, everyone ignored them.

Not Morrison. He cited them as the inspiration for this seven year saga. The Three Ghosts of Batman sees the introduction of The Black Casebook, the file in which Bruce recorded “all the things we’d seen, that didn’t fit and couldn’t be explained”.

All of a sudden, swathes of unexplored comics were back on the table. Things from the Black Casebook seemed to be coming back out of the woodwork, including these three ghosts of Batman, dark visions of what could have been.

A considerable amount of Morrison’s run has Dick Grayson taking Bruce’s place, with Damian as his Robin. It’s a remarkably clever inversion of the original Batman and Robin dynamic, with The Dark Knight the one cracking the jokes and a Boy Wonder who’s all business. It stands as one of the most celebrated parts of the entire Bat-epic, a real highlight of the seven year uber-story. We get a glimpse at a possible future where Damian has become Batman in a Gotham gone to hell. Having sold his soul to a Devil-figure, he has had to give up everything just to keep the city’s head above the sludge and sewage in which it swims.

In The Black Glove chapters, we meet the International Club of Heroes. Another obscure 50s story element, the Club of Heroes was made up of heroes from around the world inspired by Batman’s example. The Club of Heroes are one of the true master-strokes of Morrison’s run. He takes this throw-away bunch of glorified Batman tribute acts, “The Batmen of Many Nations” and turns them into something special. El Gaucho, Chief Man-Of-Bats, Knight and Squire and Dark Ranger end up becoming some of the most interesting characters you’ll find in any comic anywhere. This bunch of would-be Batmen don’t measure up to the real thing, yet stand as an example of the universal strength of the concept.

During Batman, Incorporated, we get an expansion of this idea, with more “Batmen” spread out even wider throughout the world. We also get the terrifying, daunting Heretic, Leviathan’s own villainous Batman, custom made via genetic engineering and artificial ageing.

During Batman and Robin, we see Jason Todd react to Bruce Wayne’s apparent death in Final Crisis (also by Morrison). Todd aims to replace Batman in his own way. Of course, his extreme, deadly method of fighting crime makes things worse, not better.

What Morrison does throughout the run is make clear that Batman needs Bruce Wayne. Bruce is integral in successfully creating a legacy, through his sidekicks, his extended family of crime-fighters and the example he sets for the likes of The Club of Heroes. Ditto the members of Batman, Incorporated. There are several good Batmen in Morrison’s story, from Dick Grayson to Terry McGinnis to other, unnamed future Batmen featured in the one shot Batman #700, Time and The Batman.

unnamed (2)The Batmen who adhere to the principles as instigated by Bruce Wayne are the ones who successfully wear the Cape and Cowl. Todd rejects the core principles out of hand and so fails. The three ghosts have been manipulated into doing the bidding of a monstrously evil villain. The Heretic is an inversion, a bastardisation of the very idea of Batman, bred by his ultimate foe to destroy the symbol he created and replace it with something twisted, sick and hellish. Possible Future Damian, for all his good intentions, sells his soul and thus the very soul of the Batman idea.

Morrison’s Batman run makes Bruce Wayne very relevant for the 21st Century. It does this by positioning him as the good capitalist. Bruce Wayne is the model businessman, Donald Trump but with Superman’s morals.

Here, Bruce Wayne is the ultimate man. He really is at the peak of human physical fitness, intelligence and knowledge. That’s not to say he’s infallible. Nor does he come off as cold. Morrison’s Bruce is flawed, but his strengths outweigh his weaknesses. He’s an aspirational figure, a man whose example we should follow just as much as the other characters should.

That he inspires us is not because of his strength, his intellect, his will-power or his oodles and oodles of money. It’s not that he’ll always beat the bad guy, or protect his city. It’s not that he always finds a way.

It’s that Bruce Wayne converts trauma to motivation. He turns defeat into victory, sorrow into joy and anger into compassion. Batman represents the human spirit, the drive to turn the bad into the good. He is our ultimate metaphor for perseverance. He is our ability to endure, to bounce back. No matter what trap you put him in, no matter the blows you deal him or the pain you inflict, he keeps going. He meets a son he can’t connect with. His mind is broken. He is sent back through time. His city is besieged. His heart is broken. His son is murdered, in one of the most bitter-sweet issues ever written. He keeps going.

No matter how dark or deep the hole, he’ll pull himself out.

And if he can do it? Maybe we can, too.

Morrison delivers this message as eloquently as one would expect. The end of Last Rites sees Alfred reflecting on his charge.

“… but when I saw what he meant, when I watched how he surrendered himself to an ideal… how he used each ordeal, each heartache and failure, to become a better man, in the service others… what could I do but stand in humble awe? And keep his wounds clean and his uniform tidy. And send him safely on his way… The whereabouts of The Batman remain unknown. And yet… I can see him now, in the grip of implacable forces, innumerable foes. Somewhere without hope. In a place where all seems lost. And I know this… the enemy will look away, for just a moment, underestimating him for that single fraction of a second too long. And no matter how dark the night…

There will be no hiding place for evil.”

We’re given the story of a man and his family. Morrison’s characterisation is so strong, creating moments that are note perfect. Several times over, he and his artists craft scenes that pull on the heart-strings. Touching moments between Bruce and Alfred, Bruce and Dick Grayson, Bruce and Damian, Dick Grayson and Alfred, Dick Grayson and Damian, Damian and Talia, Knight and Squire, Knight and Dark Ranger, Raven Red and Chief-Man-Of-Bats, Bruce and Jason, Jason and Scarlett, Bruce and Talia, Damian and his cat, Damian and Bat-Cow… yeah, there’s lots of touching moments.

unnamed (3)Special mention on this front has to go the sensationally expressive art of Chris Burnham. Of all the new things Morrison gives Batman comics throughout this run, Chris Burnham might just be the best.

Morrison captures the voice of the characters better than any writer before or since. Many times you’ll read a Batman comic and think “nah, that’s not how Bruce/Alfred/Gordon/Joker etc talk”.

With Morrison, that’s exactly how Batman would talk. That’s precisely the way Gordon would phrase something. That’s a spot-on Alfred, that’s The Joker to a tee, that’s just such a Dick Grayson thing to say and that’s definitely how Damian would speak.

Morrison ends his run by bringing things full circle. The narrative structure is full of circles, oroborous, the snake eating its own tail. It’s in part a comment on the nature of Batman comics. No matter what you do, at some point the status quo is going to return and Batman will return to the classic set-up.

Alas, even Morrison’s own story suffers from the freshening up of continuity. The New 52 came in right before the last volume of Batman, Incorporated. The first fifty-eight issues took place in one DCU, the last fourteen in another. It’s hard to say how different things would have been had the very history on which the run was built not been largely ripped up and compartmentalised by The New 52. Nonetheless, Morrison acknowledges that this is always the way.

The dial is reset, the snake eats its own tail and the character always reverts back.

unnamedThat’s not always a bad thing, though. It’s because of this that RIP can open with a splash page of The Dark Knight defiantly roaring “You’re wrong! Batman and Robin will never die!” The reason Damian could never grow up and replace his father, that Dick can’t ever inherit the mantle permanently, is the same reason Batman, Morrison’s ultimate survivor, endures.

 The entire run, and Bruce’s entire life, is spent trying to fill “the hole in things”. It crops up over and over, recurring again and again. It’s to this idea that Morrison returns again, at the close of his story. Bruce Wayne tells Gordon that he looked “into that hole in things over and over again, until it hurt, Jim… and you know what I found in there? Nothing…”

Many have read this as a negative, downbeat note on which to end a run marked for its enthusiastic celebration of Batman. They must have forgotten Bruce’s next, crucial, words.

“… and a space big enough to hold everything”.

It’s the everything that matters here, not the nothing. The everything is all the stories that have been told, are being told and will be told about Batman. The everything is all the various developments, changes and interpretations Batman has, can and will go through. It’s infinite, everlasting.

As Gordon attests in the final few pages of this wonderful run, all we really need to know is this; “Batman always comes back, bigger and better, shiny and new. Batman never dies. It never ends. It probably never will.”

Grant Morrison’s Batman run did the impossible; it made us love Batman even more. Grant Morrison’s Batman run gave us our favourite Batman in his greatest story. It did this whilst paying tribute to every Batman and all of their stories.

Truly, it’s a celebration of everything that Batman was, is and can be.

It’s how we’ll be celebrating Batman Day, because that’s exactly what it is; a celebration.

Here’s to the next seventy five. No doubt the best is yet to come.

By Andrew D and Peter James Duffy

UGC Review: Armorhunters: Bloodshot #1

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Written by Joe Harris
Art By Trevor Hairsine
Published by Valiant Comics

By Dominic Kelly

The 90′s were an interesting time for comics.

Back in the days of big belts and unnecessarily large guns, heroes were a different breed. None more so than the heroes of Valiant Comics. Boasting heroes like X-O Manowar and Ninjak, the heroes of Valiant helped set the tone of comics in the 90′s. Now, Valiant are back with one of their biggest heroes in tow for a new storyline; the super soldier Blood Shot. Does this call back to the heyday of the nineties succeed though? Or does it fall into the trappings that plagued so many comics from the time?

After the decimation of Mexico in previous issues, the international organization of M.E.R.O is trying it’s best to deal with an alien threat. Unable to handle the situation on their own, they are forced to call in outside forces to help deal with this new enemy. Enter Blood Shot who, after a prolonged absence, is not keen on the idea of working with the organisation. Forces move against Blood shot, and before long, he is forced to put past difference aside for the good of the planet.

Armorhunters is chock full of 90′s clichés, something which ends up making the comic a interesting read to start with. Expecting to hear the word radical at any point, I found myself enjoying the story of Armorhunters for the most part. Provided by Joe Harris, the story is cheesy in the right places, and action packed in others. As a result the story moves amongst its beats with ease. The comic is not without its problems though.

With these 90′s clichés, also come some of the less than desirable elements that were present at the time. With a macho tone throughout, it’s hard to become too invested as a result. This tone becomes tedious quickly, as the action escalates further and further into insanity.

Art wise, this comic is about as 90′s as you can get. Provided here by Trevor Hairsine, the art of this comic is quite a call back. With characters hitting overly manly poses throughout, and with guns so big that they defy logic, one can’t help but laugh. In this silliness though, there is a sense of nostalgia that cannot be denied. It’s only a shame that the story isn’t able to keep up with the art.

Armorhunters is a fun, if slightly bland look back at the 90′s. Joe Harris and Trevor Hairsine’s efforts for the most part hit their marks, offering some nice nostalgia throughout. When they miss, it’s quite noticeable. What could have been a great call back turns out to be a rather tame and middle of the road effort.

The severe lack of belts and pouches is also quite disappointing.

Who Wants To See The New X-Wing For Star Wars Episode 7?

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I do, I do!

Yesterday J.J. Abrams posted another video encouraging everyone to get involved with Star Wars: Force for Change. The charity drive supports UNICEF and will allow one lucky entrant to win a trip to the set, be in the film and get a private screening in their hometown.

As with the last time, he filmed on location with a little tid-bit for us to geek out over in the background. In the previous video it was a gorgeous, Henson-esque alien creature wandering around in the background.

This time we got to see something altogether more spectacular. As Abrams talks, the camera pulls out to reveal that behind him is the new redesign of the X-Wing.

If there’s one thing Star Wars did well it was iconic ship designs. The Death Star and Millennium Falcon are instantly recognisable, as is this.

Click to see full size.

New X-Wing

If you want to see the full video check it out here. 

And you can enter the competition, as well as supporting this amazing charity, right here.

5 Minute Guardians Of The Galaxy Extended Clip!

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With just over one week before Guardians of the Galaxy hits cinemas in the UK, this five minute clip will get your heart pumping and make the wait unbearable.

While we’re on the subject of the release, why does it appear that there are no midnight screenings for Guardians of the Galaxy in Glasgow, or anywhere that we can see? How dare we be made to wait an extra ten hours to see this movie!

If you find a midnight screening that we’ve missed, be sure to let us know.

Now, back to this extended clip.

It gives us a much more extensive look at the opening of the movie, how the Guardians meet and their initial breakout from The Kyln. Plus we get to see Rocket react to being called a Raccoon, I promise it’s not the reaction you’re expecting.

We also get some insight into where Yondu will be fitting in to the overall story. Although he’s not seen for more than a fleeting moment, it seems that he is a father figure, of sorts, to Peter Quill. However, going by the dialogue, they appear not to be on the best of terms at the moment.

This clip is unlike the others in that it gives us a genuine feel for what the movie is going to be like, better than any mere trailer. We get to see prolonged conversations and set pieces.

It’s brilliant and we can’t wait to see the real deal in cinemas next week.

 

Batman Day Run-Up! Top 5 Batman Movies #2- The Dark Knight

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Directed by Christopher Nolan
Story by Christopher Nolan and David Goyer

Written by Christopher Nolan and Jonathan Nolan
Starring Christian Bale, Heath Leadger, Aaron Eckhart, Gary Oldman, Michael Caine, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Morgan Freeman

No surprises here, apart perhaps that this didn’t quite clinch the top spot.

The Dark Knight deserves credit for more than just its interpretation of Batman’s greatest foe and one of fiction’s greatest villains. Yet it is impossible to understate Heath Ledger’s performance as The Clown Prince of Crime. Put out of mind the howls of derision that greeted his casting. Forget for a moment the staggering transformation that made the Australian actor so unrecognisable. Focus on the performance itself, which elevated already brilliant writing.

The writers give us a Joker who comes out of nowhere, wreaking havoc as he cuts through the film. They give us a terrifying, funny, mesmerising Joker. They present us with a character so manipulative and clever that much of the audience buy into his lies, never mind the characters. An agent of chaos, with no plan? A man who’ll “just do things”? Not really. That’s the lie, but the reality is that this trickster is a master-planner. A character who is all the more frightening for being a mystery, for having no reason other than to do evil for evil’s sake. He knows exactly what he’s doing and as he says himself, he’s not crazy.

The scene in the hospital between The Joker and Harvey Dent is so well written, so cleverly devised that it convinces not only Dent himself but many of the audience members who have come away thinking that The Joker really is “a dog chasing cars”.

Yet there is more to The Dark Knight’s Mephistopheles of Mirth than a good script. The script makes him fascinating, Ledger makes him mesmerising. The script makes him scary, Ledger makes him horrifying. The script makes him memorable, but Ledger? Ledger makes him unforgettable.

The little looks, the walk, the fidgeting and swerving and mouth of perpetual motion add so much life to the creation. The eyes, darting but always focused. The voice, sing-songy yet terrifying. The laugh, nasty and vindictive and wild and cruel. To borrow the parlance of our time, Ledger nails it. You’re watching The Joker. Aside from the make-up instead of bleached skin bit, what we’re given is The Joker, pure and not at all simple. That’s how he talks, acts, manipulates. That’s the kind of monster he is.

The high-calibre writing extends beyond just The Joker. Bruce Wayne, Jim Gordon, Harvey Dent, Rachel Dawes, Alfred Pennyworth, Sal Maroni; all these characters benefit from being well written, all the actors given opportunities to impress. It’s a massively ambitious film, a story full of ideas. It’s a story about society and its fragility. It’s a story that asks how well society endures when it is under attack physically, philosophically and from its foundations. It’s a story about panic and perseverance and the consequences of choices, even the right ones. It’s a story about our time, the here and now, yet it’s a story which is also timeless.

That’s quite the feat for a summer blockbuster.

And hey, it busts blocks left right and centre, too. The bank heist that opens the film is tense, exciting stuff. Batman’s first appearance in the film as he busts a drug meet and handles some well-intentioned vigilantes feels very much like Batman: The Animated Series. Batman going to Hong Kong to take down Mr. Lau is part Bond set-piece, part comic book actioner. The sprawling, high octane chase scene is some of the most fun you’ll have watching a movie, as stunt follows stunt and big moment follows big moment.

With all the well-developed themes, poetic sentiments and emotionally engaging characterisation, it’s easy to forget juts how good the Nolan’s are at writing impressive, show-stopping action sequences. The attack on The Joker’s tower, with Batman fighting through levels of goons and SWAT teams whilst saving hostages, is pure Batman. Anyone who throws around the critique that it’s “a good film, just not a good Batman film” must have skipped this scene. It’s just… essence of Batman.

The Dark Knight isn’t just a great comic-book film. It’s a comic book film that throws out all the rules. The hero fails to save their romantic interest from the villain. Superman saves Lois a couple times a movie. Spider-man does the same for Mary Jane, ditto Gwen Stacey. Iron Man saves Pepper Potts, Thor saves, uhm, whoever Natalie Portman plays. Batman has been in on the act repeatedly, too. Indeed, Bale saved Rachel Dawes in Batman Begins.

He saves Dawes in this film at one point but the second time around? The Joker blows her up.

That was against the rules. The movie tagline, Welcome To A World Without Rules, takes on added meaning here. This was no killing off a woman to motivate the male lead, either. Batman was sufficiently motivated already. Besides, it’s the symbolic and literal destruction of Harvey Dent that pushes forward Bruce’s particular emotional arc. Simply put, The Joker attacks the social order of Gotham, particularly those on the side of good. The curmudgeonly but well intentioned Police Commissioner is killed. The passionate Judge, too. The crusading DA is targeted first for death then for corruption and the Mayor is almost assassinated.

As such, Assistant DA Rachel Dawes is well within The Joker’s sights, regardless of how Batman feels about her. She is killed because she is incorruptibly good, something that has been clear since we first met the grown up character in Begins. She can’t be brought down like Dent can, won’t fight in the way Batman does, so she’s neither a weapon nor a fascination. She’s smart and brave and good and resistant to all else.

So The Joker kills her.

Sometimes, your principles mean you pay the ultimate price. The movie addresses this head on, illustrating that this is no reason to abandon them. It is instead exactly why we need to stand by them resolutely.

The best example of The Dark Knight’s willingness to throw out the rules is the structure of the film itself. Generally speaking, most films are made of up of three acts. First they establish the status quo and add a new element to it. Next, the new element disrupts the status quo and turns it on its head. Then, you get the final act, where the disruptive element is addressed and dealt with, allowing the establishment of a new status quo. Roughly, films tend to follow this arc. Particularly superhero films.

The Dark Knight? Well, act one serves that same function. There’s a traditional act two, as well. Then we get act three, where Batman takes on The Joker, the villain is defeated and carted off to jail. See, thing is?

That third act happens half way through the movie.

Any other film-makers would have the sprawling chase scene as the finale. Gordon and Batman take down The Joker in what strictly speaking is the finale of the third act of this story. Anyone else would have added in a wrap up scene and ended on a cliff-hanger reveal that Harvey Dent had been abducted. End of movie, cue the third film.

Not this time. Not the Nolan’s.

Instead, we get six acts. Or, we get two three act narratives in the one movie. That scene, with Gordon interviewing The Joker before Batman interrogates him? Could easily be the opening scene of the next film, had they drawn out the first three acts to make up the running time. Instead, they skilfully weave it all into one motion picture.

The ambition is praise-worthy enough, but the fact that they pulled it off with such panache? There’s really nothing amongst its peers like it. Two three-act narratives, with multiple strands being resolved at various times throughout the film, could easily be an unwieldy mess, a structural disaster. Such wanton disregard for the formula! They pull it off with style.

The ending leaves us with a beaten Batman, on the verge of death, running for his life from the Gotham Police. He’s a wanted fugitive, having taken the blame for several murders including that of Harvey Dent. That’s the status quo we are left with. Yet it’s still one of the most inspiring, stirring endings in comic book film history. It’s a testament to the endurance of the character, to his heroism and self-sacrifice.

It gives us so much. It gives us an examination of Batman’s impact. It gives us a sensational take on The Joker. It gives us a thorough, fascinating take on Batman Vs The Joker. It gives us the joy of Batman, Gordon and Dent working together to take down the mob. It gives us the tragedy of Two-Face. It does this in a finale that is as unbearably tense as it desperately sad and beautifully poetic. It gives us outstanding performances pretty much across the board, none more so than Gary Oldman’s peerless, wonderful Jim Gordon. It’s his performance that we would rank highest of them all.

Yet the film doesn’t feel laboured. Never is the script too thinly spread. Everything is interwoven. It’s a remarkable achievement.

The Dark Knight is the best straight-faced Batman film so far.

Yet it’s number two on our list. You’ll see why tomorrow.

Batman Day Run Up! Top 5 Comics #2: Whatever Happened To The Caped Crusader?

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Written By Neil Gaiman
Pencils By Andy Kubert
Inks By Scott Williams
Colours By Alex Sinclair

The death of an important character must always be treated carefully. The death of an icon, however? That needs to be perfect.

Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader was written, not to kill off Batman, but as a story that could serve as the last ever tale of The World’s Greatest Detective. If Batman comics were to cease publication, this could act as the final word on Bruce Wayne, the End of Batman.

But crafting a perfect ending to Batman is an almost impossible task. There are millions of fans all over the world, all ages, in all walks of life, each with their own idea of who Batman is. From dark avenger to camp crusader, grim and gritty vigilante to brightly clad superhero, the range of Batmen that have built up over his seventy-five year history is nothing short of astounding. So when a character is this varied, no version can ever be taken as definitive, nor can any version of his death. Each fan has their own vision of how the story ends, their own perfect take on that last adventure, but I doubt any of them are exactly alike. They couldn’t be. No story can encapsulate everything that Batman was, is, and will be. It’s impossible.

 Well, almost.

unnamed (1)In Whatever Happened To The Caped Crusader, writer Neil Gaiman is well aware of the folly of killing Batman. Instead of focusing on the death, he skips right ahead to his funeral, as all of his greatest friends and foes gather to say farewell. One by one, they tell a different story of how Batman died, each with a different Batman in a different world, dying a different death. Gaiman pays homage to the versatility of the character, and the many great writers who have gone before him. This is accomplished by displaying a great range of Batmen, who, despite many vast differences, all retain that key essence that makes him Batman.

This is mirrored by the art, as the magnificent Andy Kubert mimics with astounding accuracy the styles of some of the most iconic artists who have ever drawn the World’s Greatest Detective. The likeness of the work of Bob Kane, Dick Sprang, Neal Adams, David Mazzucchelli, David McKean and Bruce Timm are clearly depicted along with many others. This is something that hammers home the idea that this comic transcends any one version of the character, and instead focuses on the very idea of The Batman. The artwork of this comic, like Batman himself, is all of these versions, and none of them.

Batman watches his own funeral as a phantom; unsure what’s going on, accompanied by a mysterious presence, who insists Bruce is here so he can learn something, a lesson about what it means to be Batman. Hearing testimony from those closest to him, Batman learns the most important truth about himself:

“I’ve learned… That it doesn’t matter what the story is, some things never change.

Because even when they aren’t talking about me, they are.

Because they’re talking about Batman.

The Batman doesn’t compromise.

I keep this city safe…

Even if it’s safer by just one person…

And I do not

Ever

Give in

Or give up.”

This a truth all fans can surely agree on. Whether he dies saving the world from an alien invasion, or is gunned down by a mugger in an ally, whether your Batman is a grimacing guilt-ridden avenger, or a gee-whiz duly-deputised public servant, do you believe that he would ever surrender his fight? Do you believe he could ever stand down, and resign himself to defeat? No. The Batman will always struggle to the last; always stand between evil and the city of Gotham.

unnamed (2)It is an inherently emotional subject. Batman means so much to so many people that contemplating his death is always going tug on some heartstrings. Neil Gaiman said “I loved, and still love Batman, unshakably, unquestioningly, as one loves a parent.” and it shows. This book is incredibly heartfelt; it feels like the grandest, most inspiring eulogy at the biggest, saddest funeral. This is a book that could make grown men cry. Not us of course, we’re far too manly for that, but other men.

Whatever Happened is a glorious piece of meta-fiction. In typical Gaiman style it’s a story about stories, in this particular case a Batman story about Batman stories. Each tale the mourners tell teaches us something about Batman; who he is, his symbolic role, and why Batman stories matter.

Catwoman’s story shows us that he would never retire to a normal life, not even for love, when he could be out helping people; “You’re going to stop the bad people doing bad things if it kills you.” It focuses on the fact that Bruce Wayne could never have a normal life, never raise an ordinary family with someone he loves.

 Alfred’s story shows us that even after discovering he has been betrayed by the person closest to him and that the cause he devoted his life to has been a lie, he does not break his resolve.

 “Even if there never was a Batman, I’m still Batman. Even if all the evil I fought was a lie… I don’t have a choice. I keep fighting.” We are given a tragic Batman who suffers total humiliation, yet refuses to yield.

 Batgirl’s story shows us no situation is impossible, that Batman never gives up; “There’s always something you can do”. We are reminded that there is always hope, even when things seem bleakest.

Clayface’s story shows us the depth of Batman’s compassion “He sssaved the city yes… but he died ssssaving me. I ssssaid “I’m not worth it”. He said “Everyone’s worth it” “. This is where those more emotionally inclined would feel lump in their throat, knowing just how much Batman cares about each and every person, and the sacrifice he’s willing to make for others.

Robin and Bullock remind us that acts of heroism inspire heroism in others, “So I learned to do the impossible as well. I carried on”, “And people said to me, “how did I keep going?” I said “Because he kept going” “. This is the moment where those men (not us though, we’re too tough) would start sobbing. This is what Batman does; he inspires us to carry on, to keep going, no matter what.

 unnamed (3)These are just some of the points the book makes, messages some writers could spend multiple issues on, yet fail to explain with as much clarity and resonance as Gaiman does here.

The final lesson of the story is told as the Batman witnessing the funeral goes to his rest, and we pan to a newly born Bruce Wayne in a maternity ward. While one individual Batman may die, or one version of Batman falls from popularity, the idea survives. A new version will emerge and despite some minor cosmetic and atmospheric alterations, the core will remain the same.  A never ending cycle of death and rebirth, each life different from the last; new friends, new foes, new adventures, but always there is The Batman.

“I don’t ever give up.

 I can’t give up.

 I’m the Batman. I protect the city. I rescue people. I investigate crimes. I guard the innocent. I correct the guilty.”

And I get it.

I mean I really get it

The end of the story of Batman is, he’s dead.

I fight until I drop, and one day I will drop.

But until then, I fight.”

There is no definitive death of Batman, what matters is that he went down fighting, that he ran into battle despite overwhelming odds and that he never stopped trying to find a way out of this week’s death-trap. Of course Batman dies, but his determination to do what is right never will.

Batman Day Run Up! Top 5 Batman Movies #3 The Dark Knight Rises

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Directed By Christopher Nolan
Story By Christopher Nolan and David Goyer
Written By Christopher Nolan and Jonathan Nolan
Starring Christian Bale, Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Joesph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard and Michael Caine

Why does he dress like a Bat?

Most fans would answer “Because criminals are a superstitious and cowardly lot”, and that he does it to strike fear into their hearts. This is true, but it isn’t quite the whole story. The Batman is a symbol, not just of fear, but of hope. For every crook he scares straight, there is an honest citizen reassured by his presence. Batman’s role as a symbol and the underused theme of hope are central to Christopher Nolan’s third and final Batman film.

Set eight years after The Dark Knight, Bruce Wayne has retired the mantle of Batman, taking the fall for Harvey Dent’s crimes and allowing the late DA to act as a role model for Gotham City. Organised crime has been all but wiped out, and so feeling his war has been won, Bruce becomes a recluse. It takes the return of The League of Shadows, now headed by Bane, to force Batman back into action.

Nolan’s Bane has little in common with his comic book counterpart; his origin, his motives and his methods are all completely different. What remains the same, however, is his role in the Batman mythos, the reason he was created; he is the man who broke the bat. As with all great supervillains, his purpose is to give the hero a particular challenge, to allow them to over-come an obstacle. For Bane, that purpose is to shatter not only Bruce’s body, but his mind, destroying his confidence, making him unable to act. Beyond this role, the character is free to interpretation, allowing Tom Hardy to play a completely new Bane. This Bane hates Bruce Wayne for personal reasons, because he is jealous of him. Bane, poor and disfigured, was desperate for the approval of Ra’s Al Ghul, but was rejected in favour of the handsome rich Wayne. Bane wanted to be Ra’s’ heir but was cast out, while Bruce was offered a place at Ra’s side and rejected it.

This personal hatred of Bruce is shared by the films other villain, Talia Al Ghul, who seeks vengeance for her father and it is this focus on Bruce Wayne that proves to be her downfall. Like so many villains, Talia and Bane have obsessed over Batman, and instead of achieving their goal, they waste time and resources attempting to prove their superiority or trying to make him suffer. They had beaten Batman, and had a nuclear weapon that could destroy the city, but first they wanted to gloat, leaving Bruce imprisoned and taking control of Gotham. They were caught up in Batman’s game, trying to undo his work and destroy his symbol. Bruce himself explains that Batman is a demonstration of what one person can do, a role model for the city; “The idea was to be a symbol. Batman could be anybody. That was the point.”

Bane also uses myths and theatricality to inspire and intimidate; “Nobody cared who I was until I put on the mask”. He masquerades as a revolutionary, providing false hope to Gotham he organises its destruction, claiming he has ideological motivations so as to better control the people. For all his talk of equality, Bane’s only goal is to make Bruce suffer, by ruining Gotham before he destroys it. “So, as I terrorize Gotham, I will feed its people hope to poison their souls.”

The evidence of Batman’s inspirational power can found in Selina Kyle, a cat-burglar whose priorities change through the film. Anne Hathaway delivers a startling portrayal of a character who is Catwoman in everything but name, stealing scenes as a magnificently competent and thoroughly manipulative con-woman and thief. Her desire to see society turned on its head, for the poor to take power from the rich, is brought to life when the League of Shadows take control of Gotham. The reality, however, isn’t quite as she imagined. Seeing the pain and suffering of a world without order makes her question her philosophies, and she herself starts acting to protect those in need. Eventually, she is converted from selfish criminal to self-sacrificing superheroine, proving that people can be redeemed, and that dramatic examples such as Batman can inspire others to take a stand against injustice.

Selina Kyle isn’t alone in proving this point. Joesph Gordon-Levitt plays John Blake, a policeman who has always looked up to Batman. While not understanding his methods, Blake recognised the difference Batman made to the city, and having deduced his identity, directly petitions Bruce to come out of retirement to combat Bane. Blake’s belief is vital in Bruce finally returning to the cape and cowl. Bruce explains to Blake why he created Batman, the protection of the mask and the power of the symbol, teaching him why Batman was so effective. During the occupation of Gotham, Blake learns the limitations of working within the law, and how working outside it is sometimes the only option. Eventually it is left to him to carry on the mantle of Batman, should he ever be needed again.

Once again, Gordon has a critical role, and once again, he is a character who demonstrates Batman’s influence. He begins the film disheartened, weary from seven years of lying about Harvey Dent and Batman. Perhaps at his lowest point, he has been cut off from his family and believes he should resign as Police Commissioner.  After being caught by the League of Shadows, and injured in his escape, Gordon is the one who finally convinces Bruce to come out of retirement. With the Batman’s return, Gordon starts to regain his resolve. He believes in hope again, and leads Gotham’s resistance against Bane.

What elevates The Dark Knight Rises to a cinematic triumph isn’t just the intelligent story, captivating characters and terrific action scenes, although obviously they were important. The true power of the film is it’s skill in convincing the viewer to become emotionally attached to story. Beautiful writing, acting and cinematography combine to create several moments of near perfection. The first fight between Batman and Bane is so tense, brutal and heart-breaking that one feels traumatized after viewing it. There is a sense of pure elation and excitement when Bruce frees himself from the pit, overcoming his demons in an instantly mythic scene. When Talia reveals her true nature, literally stabbing Bruce in the back, we feel just as betrayed as he does; the sudden twist just as Batman has defeated Bane was as horrifying as it was unexpected. And of course, the finale, after drawing tears from Batman fans everywhere with his apparent death, a noble self-sacrificing death which no one would argue was unworthy of The Batman, the film twists again. It starts with a hint, slowly building, as key characters one by one discover the truth that the audience is desperate to know. Few moments in any story are as satisfying as that last shot of Bruce and his happily ever after. One of the most vital components of these scenes, like so many others in Nolan’s trilogy, is the soundtrack. Hans Zimmer created a score that resonates with audiences, and perfectly matches the film at each and every moment.

The ending is one we wouldn’t generally agree with. We struggle to believe that Bruce would ever retire from being Batman, but this film manages to pull it off convincingly. We can believe that he would stop being Batman so that the idea of Batman can survive. By letting the world believe the Batman died saving Gotham, he is immortalised as an icon, forever remembered as the ultimate role model, doing more good for Gotham than Bruce Wayne ever could by physically fighting crime.

The Dark Knight Rises looks back at Batman Begins, bringing a defeated foe back for revenge, forcing Bruce to confront and conquer the demons of his past. He regains his desire to live, and reignites Gotham’s hope. Though he gives up the cape and cowl, he does not leave his city unprotected, as we are finally given the Nolan take on Robin. While it isn’t our preferred ending to Batman’s story, it is undoubtedly the right ending to Nolan’s trilogy, a fitting farewell to one of the greatest interpretations of The Caped Crusader.