Comics

Peter Suderman on How Frank Miller Redefined Batman

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The Dark Knight Returns, DC Comics

Did you see Batman v. Superman over the weekend? If so, I'm sorry.

It's a bloated, incoherent mess of a movie, and it totally wastes the potential of both its premise and the comic-book material that helped inspire it, Frank Miller's 1986 comic book The Dark Knight Returns.

No, BvS is not a direct adaptation of Miller's graphic novel, but it draws heavily from his book in terms of both visuals and dialogue, particularly during the big showdown between the two title characters. Miller's version of that battle is one of the great fights in comic book history, and, it's basically structured as an argument about the nature of superheroes. All that is totally lost in Zack Snyder's lumbering, under-developed big-screen adaptation. 

Of course, over the years, Miller also lost the plot when it comes to Batman, turning him into something that plays more like a parody of a Miller character.

All of this the subject of my Vox column this week, which looks at the way that Miller helped create Batman as we know him today, and how he eventually fouled up the character he helped define. Here's a sample: 

Batman v Superman is not even a loose adaptation of Miller's book, but as Snyder said on the Comic-Con stage, "It is the thing that helps tell that story." Imagery and dialogue lifted directly from Miller's graphic novel appear throughout the movie, and were prominent in its advertising as well. It is safe to say that without The Dark Knight ReturnsBatman v Superman wouldn't exist.

The influence of Miller's Dark Knight, however, extends far beyond this one movie. The four-issue comic permanently redefined the character of Batman, and is arguably responsible for making him the pop culture sensation he is today. Today's Batman, from Christopher Nolan's austere Dark Knight to the gothic hero of Scott Snyder's contemporary Batman comics, is inseparable from Miller's vision of Batman and, in some sense, from Miller himself.

But in the years since Dark Knight, Miller has continued to work with both the character and the brooding sensibility, with increasingly unpleasant results. And in the process, he has squandered much of what made the original so great. Miller gave us the best Batman — and the worst one, too.

Read the whole thing here

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236 responses to “Peter Suderman on How Frank Miller Redefined Batman

  1. Which of these three does not belong?

    Batman, Superman, Suderman.

    1. It’s a trick question.

      Vanneman is the answer.

      1. Holy shit he set himself up for that one.

    2. Anal Alan Anus:

      Which one of these three best describes how consistently unfunny you are?

    3. You misspelled Anal.

    4. I’ll give you credit for one thing, Anal. At least you haven’t been around as much lately.

  2. Ummm spoiler alert assface.

  3. Ummm spoiler alert assface.

    1. We who haven’t seen it yet wouldn’t have known it was a spoiler IF YOU HADN’T BLABBED IT ALL OVER CREATION.

  4. So, I’m curious – which superhero does the commentariat view as the least libertarian? While I’d go gay for Batman, I’m afraid that he may be pretty high on the list if not #1.

    1. Batman is an incredibly rich person who kidnaps orphans so that he can train them to help him beat up poor people.

      He’s like libertarianism personified.

      1. /Literally/ kidnaps them, if you go by Frank Miller’s later… interpretations of the character. “All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder”, basically about Batman abducting a kid right after his parents tragically die, throwing him into a pit in a cave, and telling him to eat rats.

        Miller’s Batman was surely redefined… as a crazy hobo.

    2. Umm. Least libertarian. I guess I’d say Tony Stark right. War profiteer off the military industrial complex. He not only sides with the federal government with regards to furthering Super Hero regulation and criminal punishment for failing to comply with those fed, he leads the pro-government regulation forces in the Civil War story line.

      1. That’s the thing, depending on who writes which character, they have different aspects coming to the fore. Stark is also sometimes depicted as being fiercely pro-private enterprise and anti-regulation. Or, he and a bunch of dicks make a Supreme Council of Top Men to run the world because they are so fucking smart.

        Captain America is sometimes died-in-the-wool Roosevelt Democrat, and sometimes old-timey Constitution fan.
        Green Arrow had an honest-to-Bernie Socialist phase.
        Then there’s one-man walking NAP violation that is Deadpool.
        Do we count Judge Dredd as a superhero? Because he was designed to be everything libertarians hate (well, almost anything – he defines ‘incorruptible’ and ‘rule of law’).

        1. Who was it besides Stark and Xavier that made up the brain trust that banished Hulk in the Planet Hulk/World War Hulk series? That was the finest example of Top Men ever.

          1. Mr. Fantastic was there, and I think also Namor and Black Bolt.

            1. That sounds right. Was Doc Strange?

              1. Yes. They called themselves the Illuminati. They broke up after the Skrull secret invasion story line. Because they started the war by hitting the Skrull first then subsequently got duped by the Skrull invasion and their ranks got infiltrated by a Skrull shape-shifted as Black Bolt. In the end they got all pissy at each other and broke it off.

        2. Do we count Judge Dredd as a superhero? Because he was designed to be everything libertarians hate (well, almost anything – he defines ‘incorruptible’ and ‘rule of law’).

          Yet, if you ask the moronic Brits who created the character or those who read him, they’d say “Mega-City One is what Ayn Rand actually believes!!!!1!!!” (I’m looking at you, Alan Moore.)

          1. Funnily, original creators knew what they were doing and took the piss out of everyone – MC1 is in fact a welfare state. State provides basic housing and food for everyone, hence pretty much vast majority of populace performs no labor (lot of low-level work is done by bots), and crime is how a chunk of them deal with boredom.

            1. MC1 is a rather well-crafted Dystopia. There are so many facets to the big government nightmare of the city, that literally anyone of any political alignment can look at it and identify what, in their own minds, is the cause of the problems with the dystopia.

              Libertarians can view it as a big-government police state.
              Someone on the right can view it as a near-communist dictatorship ruled by a welfare state.
              Someone on the left can view it as a dictatorship who’s populace is cowed into submission by rampant consumerism.
              Neo-Luddites can revel in the horror of robots replacing the human workforce almost completely and the rampant technology-caused problems.
              Even the few pro-absolute dictatorship cop-lovers out there can interpret the rampant crime of MC1 to be the cause of the dystopia.

              No matter who you are, you can find some aspect of the Big Meg that runs horribly counter to your own politics. It’s probably as close to a “perfect dystopia” as anyone can get. Everyone pretty much agrees that the Judge System is a piece of shit that would lead to dystopia.

              1. Almost – I think Games Workshop took a look at MegaCity One, said “fuck, this is way reasonable” and made 40K Universe. Which is my Perfect Dystopia, because even death may not bring you any release.

        3. Totally agree. He was pretty libertarian in Iron Man 2 and has “evolved” since then.

        4. Dreddie is one of my favorites. Mainly because I’m a sucker for dystopian future wastelands and made-up nonsense futurespeak, but I always kind of liked him as a cop. Sure, he’s a completely brutal tyrant who enforces a ridiculous nanny-state upon the citizens and helps the Mega City One state terrorize its subjects into complacency… but he’s a cop who ACTUALLY FOLLOWS THE //LAW// which is ridiculously admirable considering, well, how cops normally are.

      2. According to the infamous Stan Lee, Stark was created specifically to get hippie readers cheering for a businessman.

        1. Yeah, but businessmen are often very unlibertarian.

          Stark’s recent portrayals have erred a bit more towards the libertarian side.

          1. Libertine, definitely. His “I know what’s best for humanity” portrayals are pretty far from libertarian. But it definitely depends on who is authoring the current run.

          2. Which is why I’m kind of confused here. After all, the writers of one of the films basically rips off Hank Rearden’s courtroom scene whole cloth. That’s gotta count for something.

            And if he doesn’t fit the bill there’s always Ditko’s Mr. A to consider.

            1. And The Question, who was explicitly written as an Objectivist when he was created.

            2. Different interpretations. Different needs at different points in the script. Dangerous to read too much into any of it.

      3. Adrian Veidt seemed like quite the crony capitalist / top men type.

        I would say the Comedian too, except he mocked the top men even while doing their errands.

        1. Watchmen should be out of bounds, given that they are deliberate deconstruction of the genre. But yeah, Comedian is a character who looks at NAP and goes “how do I do the exact opposite every breathing moment” and Ozy’s plan is Top Manning taken to its logical conclusion. Then there’s Dr Manhattan, Mr “there is no free will, everything derived from it is an illusion”

          1. And yet, Moore argues the Mr. A based Rorschach is the villain.

            1. Even though I disliked Moore’s Watchmen , his pirate comic-within-a-comic was very entertaining.

              1. I disliked Moore’s Watchmen

                You are like my comic book arch-nemesis.

                1. Watchmen so critically destroyed the superhero genre (and the attitudes that support them) that I was left feeling somewhat depressed by the end of it. Whether that is what Moore intended then or moved positions on now, I don’t care. I came away with exactly what Pan says above. And I loved it for that.

            2. No, I think he knows Ozzy is a villain, whose plans are ultimately undone whether Rosh lives or dies (it’s in the name). Rosh is just a low-level psycho, and if anyone understands the truth of the universe it’s The Comedian.
              Well, canonically it’s Dr Manhattan, but even he may be wrong.

              1. I believe Moore is on record stating that he views Ozzy as the hero.

                1. That’s crazy. I mean I understand the depiction of Rorschach as the villain of the story. He is vigilante justice unbarred, he is a murderer, cop killer, law breaker. He is the only mask that stays active after masked vigilantism is outlawed by the federal government.

                  But to truly believe Ozymandias is the hero. That’s nuts. Just because he has good intentions that motivate him? To truly believe that Ozy is the hero one would have to see heroism in all sorts of unseemly parallels. I mean these might not be spot on analogies but if Ozy is your hero than you believe carpet bombing the middle east out of existence is justifiably good. We kill or cripple the heart of Islam now otherwise they will always be there, the feud will never end. Today’s genocide averts a millennium of more war and blood. Good intention alone cannot suffice for heroism.

                  I reckon Nite Owl would have to be the moral hero of the story.

                  1. But to truly believe Ozymandias is the hero. That’s nuts. Just because he has good intentions that motivate him?

                    The opposite. If I remember correctly, Moore contrasted Veidt’s pragmatism to Ror’s inflexibility. Veidt wasn’t afraid to break a few omelettes to achieve the “greater good” of world peace; whereas, Ror would “never compromise” his principles in order to achieve a long-term good.

    3. Depends on who you ask. Hal Jordan, for example, works for both the US military-industrial complex and an unaccountable galactic police agency. So he’s either the archetypal fascist superhero, or to some, the most libertarian superhero evar.

      1. unaccountable galactic police agency.

        Are we still talking about comic books here?

    4. Captain Planet.

      1. Holy shit, yes.

      2. I’m not so sure, Captain Planet may exemplify certain non-libertarian agendas in the real world but understood within the confines of the story Captain Planet doesn’t have to regulate or spend others resources to achieve, I guess, his goals of a greener, more sustainable, planet. He is capable of doing it off the sweat of his own brow, not off the labor or resources of others. It’s a sense of free individualism and choice that motivates him to act of his own volition. Isn’t that somewhat libertarian? To act on one’s own free will to achieve their set goals? The problem with Captain Planet obviously is that his agenda, in the real world, is only pursued by authoritarian government and interest groups that impose regulations, criminal punishments, expanded bureaucracy, etc. on all the non-believers and undecided. But you can’t hold that against CP!

      1. I though you said “most libertarian.

        1. Booster Gold. He makes money off his own merchandising.

        2. Most libertarian: Neil Gaiman’s Sandman/Dream.

          Rarely(if ever. Somewhat open to debate) enters the physical realm to influence the outcome of the storylines. Instead relies on using the dream world to engage the protagonists and antagonists with conversation/revelations in the attempt to make them see the stark naked truth of their character in order to force self reflection and purity of motive. The only thing Dream ever forces a character to do against their Will is to ‘Know Thy Self’.

      2. I though you said “most libertarian.

      3. I had never heard of him. But according to Wikipedia:

        “In the real world, the Maxx is a vagrant, a “homeless man living in a box”, while in the Outback, he is the powerful protector of the Jungle Queen. The Jungle Queen exists in the real world as Julie Winters, a freelance social worker who often bails the Maxx out of jail.”

        Sounds about right.

      4. The Maxx.

        Kinda obscure. Along these lines, I’d have to go with Savage Dragon; from oppressive nomadic space tyrant to Chicago Police Officer. Certainly no less oppressive and arguably, just traded a lot of jurisdiction for a more secure pension.

          1. I still have that on VHS – classic.

          2. So the Savage Dragon is kind of a gray area?

          3. Considering all the graphic novels/anime that isn’t even in English and is far more widely enjoyed by exclusive English speakers, I’m going to describe a one-season animated short on MTV sometime between Midnight and 1 a.m. (Used to watch when I could) as obscure, yeah.

            Or were you being sarcastic?

            1. Yes, I just looked it up. “Obscure” means something you never heard of. I concede.

        1. The Maxx is another one, though, that is deliberately deconstructive of the genre – it is not at all clear that Maxx is a “hero” and not just some crazy homeless guy with delusions of grandeur and a violent streak.

    5. Professor Xavier always seems ready to cowtow to whoever’s in charge.

      1. But he runs a private school!

        1. A private school where he stockpiles weapons and trains a paramilitary group.

          Libertarian credentials secure.

          1. A private school, built with family money, that is staffed and attended almost exclusively by minorities mutants. The same school where he stockpiles weapons and trains orphans and otherwise undesirable/gifted children for battle in resistance to the government. That, combined with the power to make any and all humans and mutants on Earth do his bidding and a reluctance to even use that power except to fuck with Top Men should be a pretty good indicator. Even in the more recent movies, there’s plenty of evidence that his youth was decidedly… socially liberal as well.

            The only thing that even slightly indicates that he’s maybe not a solid gold libertarian is, just like Superman, he’ll send/allow people to die in combat rather than just use his superpower to alter someone’s perception of their own free will. And, that’s a bit of a moral quandry that libertarianism itself hasn’t fully resolved. Barring some sort of liberatrian awakening, the only way his libertarian creds could get more secure is if the family money came from the salt mines and instead of being forced to use a wheelchair, he were forced to wear a monocle.

    6. While I’d go gay for Batman, I’m afraid that he may be pretty high on the list if not #1.

      Sticking with the theme, I assume Superman would be the most likely. Virtually every interaction between Superman and the government involves him wasting infinite amounts of power to extract the last bit of virtue out of horrible situations so as not to violate some statist asshat’s power trip if not acquiescing outright.

      I wouldn’t go gay for Superman but then, I don’t really have a choice in the matter do I?

  5. I saw the movie, it was meh. Batffleck was a pretty good. Gal Gadot is super hot. Jessie Eisenberg annoyed me as per usual. I really don’t understand why people hated it so much, it wasn’t good but it wasn’t nearly as bad as some people seem to be making it out to be.

    1. it really should have been two movies.

    2. Batman v. Superman was very good, almost great.

      Not a fan of Frank Miller, at all, so the farther it went from whatever his source material was, the better.

    3. In a world where people think the force awakens was some great masterpiece I find myself unconcerned with other people’s opinion.

  6. Uh, unless Batman has brass knuckles made of Kryptonite, I don’t see how he puts a dent in Superman. SUPERMAN ONCE THREW A CHAIN AROUND A PLANET AND DRAGGED IT AROUND LIKE HIS BITCH.

    1. Yeah – I never got how batman could even inconvenience superman without becoming a super villain, I suppose I might find out when that movie makes it to HBO.

      1. The Bat-Man v. Superman thing is wrong on so many levels.

        Superman reversed the earth’s axis recall.

    2. Batman has brass knuckles made of Kryptonite

      That’s pretty much what he does have.

      Oh, Spoiler Alert.

    3. Because, at least according to some, Batman has two superpowers. Both are relatively “low key.”

      One, Batman always has a “plan.” And as long as he and the other stick to his plan, everything will work. He ALWAYS has a plan. For every member of the JL going bad, or any combination of them, at any time. He even (if I remember correctly) has a plan that will be set in motion to stop himself if he ever goes evil.

      Two, Batman has the super power “Always wins.” Which sounds kinda lame, but it isn’t too much when you compare it to Manhunter’s world-spanning telepathy, Flash’s faster-than-anything speed, and WonderWoman’s really really amazing set of tits. Batman always wins, by definition, all the time. At least, that is how I have understood it in the past.

      1. What about when Bane broke his spine? Which super power was that?

        1. Bat-Man can’t break Superman’s spine.

          And I love Bat-Man.

  7. Maybe I’m just an idiot, but I didn’t see all these supposed plot holes and bloat and incoherentness.

    1. it was definitely stupid at parts. But the visuals were pretty good. And Gal Gadot nullifies all arguments that claim it’s unwatchable.

    2. I haven’t seen it, but from what I’ve read, it sounds like the worst part is someone’s (Snyder? Goyer? Terrio?) complete lack of understanding and/or respect for what makes the characters who they are.

      1. I felt like both Man of Steel and this did a good job of showing Superman starting off in his superhero career. The whole point of both movies is he’s trying to find his place on this planet. If you come at him with that in mind, his actions and portrayal are pretty good.

        Same goes for Batman. He’s grizzled and been doing the vigilante thing for 20 years with no appreciable wins and an ass load of losses. Anyone would be a little over emotional by the time we meet him in the movie. Especially after seeing possibly thousands of people die as his building collapsed.

        I guess I can see where someone would see bloat, but they are also trying to universe build. It’s a tall order for any movie really.

        1. The 2.5 hours flew by. No bloat at all, except maybe one too many Bat nightmares.

  8. Every single thing that is wrong with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

    Spoilers

    At this point, you may have asked yourself why Superman flew out to this barren wasteland. You may have also asked what that pile of rocks was? Maybe you thought it was the place where Clark Kent’s dad is buried, but I’m fairly certain it’s been established that he was buried on the Kent farm. So why the hell is Superman having visions of his dead dad in the middle of nowhere? As with everything, there is a simple answer. Nothing reminds me more of Kevin Costner’s acting than a pile of rocks, bricks and twigs in the snow. So, it’s natural that when one sees a pile of inanimate objects, one would pause to consider Kevin Costner. This movie makes perfect sense.

    1. Is this fucking serious? The man was in Bull Durham!

  9. They quit fighting and became friends because, wait for it……

    They discovered that their moms had the same first name!

    Seriously.

    1. that wasn’t even the dumbest part. The dumbest part was louis lane throwing the spear in the giant puddle.

      1. SHE’S HELPING, SHITLORD.

      2. louis lane

        Take your SJW culture war elsewhere, pal.

        1. Woo-hoo!

      3. I’ve only seen the trailer… Doesn’t Batman have a grudge against Superman because part of a city got trashed – while Superman was SAVING THE WORLD?

        So – he gears up with weapons and decided to fight Superman – in a fucking city?

        Did I misinterpret the trailer? Because it looked like industrial grade Stupid.

        1. that and he sees how powerful he is and thinks he should kill him to preserve humanity on the off chance he decides to kill us all.

          1. it kind of vacillates between the two motives.

            1. So Batman really wanted to murder him? What if that just made Superman mad enough to destroy the Earth?

              1. Go read the Injustice comics. What happens when Supes goes bad? Batman is no dummy — he knows what can happen.

        2. He lost his building and most of his employees. While the blame might not rightly fall on superman, he’s definitely part of the blame.

        3. The final battle is at some abandoned factory or church or something. Batman had at least some forethought in that regard.

  10. NEEEEERRRRRRDS

  11. Anyone else think it’s kind of shocking that they cast Ben Affleck and not offer him the director’s chair?

    1. Shocking? No, because it’s Hollywood.

      But you really have to almost try to screw-up Batman and Superman fighting.

    2. Not really. The Ffleck is a deft director of low-key thrillers, but Zack Snyder has proven himself as a bankable director of godawful bloated CGI shitshows.

      1. Well I think Affleck is directing the solo Batman movie. But this was Snyder’s movie before Affleck came on board, and while Warner Bros should have ditched Snyder the first chance they got, they were not going to.

      2. I don’t completely understand the Zack Snyder hatred. He’s had a couple of stinkers, sure, but I found Dawn of the Dead, Watchmen, 300, Sucker Punch and Man of Steel all enjoyable.

        It sounds like BvS is shit on toast but when I read a movie critic (not Suderman) say his biggest problem is that “you would think that Snyder’s message is that there is something inherently wrong with superheroes” I want to scream “UMMMM…YOU’RE GODDAMN RIGHT THERE IS SOMETHING WRONG WITH A BUNCH OF ELITIST TWATS IN PAJAMAS THINKING THEY KNOW HOW I SHOULD LIVE MY LIFE AND USING VIOLENCE TO ENFORCE THEIR WISHES.”

        1. Snyder has a great eye for visuals. Granted, for two of his movies he just lifted the visuals off the page, but he did it well. I just don’t think he is very good at story. He wants to be, but it seems to usually fall short.

          1. Yeah, I went back and reread 300 last year and honestly thought that if I flicked the pages with my thumb fast enough it would essentially turn into the movie.

            1. It’s basically the same for Watchmen. Originality isn’t Snyder’s strong suit.

    3. I thought it was shocking that the junior senator from Kentucky was a Democrat.

      1. You were expecting realism in this movie??? 😉

  12. All of this the subject of my Vox column this week,

    Cosmo $hill confirmed!

    1. Did Corning finally go completely insane? Where has he been lately?

      1. Ha, I was just wondering that the other day. I believe his last post was sometime in November. He went insane over Suderman and stroked out at his computer.

      2. He finally made it through The Gamer Gate, and is resting comfortably in Nerd Heaven.

        1. Nerd Heaven? You mean this thread?

          1. If you people are here, it’s not heaven.

            1. I resent that statement! I prefer the term fallen angel.

  13. Also, why didn’t they cast Vin Disel as Lex Luthor and have Clancy Brown dub over his lines? Another missed opportunity.

  14. At this point I’m probably going to end up mildly enjoying BvS simply because my expectations are so low and the movie cannot possibly live down to them.

    I watched Man of Steel just last night, and I can’t for the life of me figure out what coked-up baboon at Warner Bros. watched that movie and thought it would be a great idea to give Snyder a bunch of money to make more. I have a soft-spot for schlock, but Snyder’s obvious conceit that he’s tackling the big questions or making some huge philosophical point just makes everything so dreary when you’re not laughing at how insipid it is.

    1. I can’t for the life of me figure out what coked-up baboon at Warner Bros. watched that movie and thought it would be a great idea to give Snyder a bunch of money to make more.

      yeah your probably not going to enjoy BvS.

    2. Your mistake is the assumption that studio execs watch movies. They watch the box office receipts, and Man of Steel came out ahead.

      1. While that is true, at some point people will stop going to see these movies even if they have Batman or Superman in them. And they sure as hell aren’t going to flock to see more obscure or ‘diverse’ characters. So, Snyder has coasted for two movies now that even a lot of fans didn’t enjoy.

        At some point, if they want to spawn a large universe that just banks every time like Marvel, they need to reevaluate Snyder’s role.

  15. The four-issue comic permanently redefined the character of Batman, and is arguably responsible for making him the pop culture sensation he is today

    Batman The Animated Series was a bigger influence on me and I suspect my generation. And it remains the best vision of Batman ever made.

      1. So I can safely ignore everything you ever have to say from this point onward. Duly noted.

        1. Ah, another Val Kilmer fan.

          1. I have yet to see a live-action portrayal that can hold a candle to Kevin Conroy’s voice acting.

            1. Michael Keaton?

      2. Calm down, old man.

    1. I loved the animated series.

      1. mark hamill is the only Joker

        1. Considering the look of Ledger’s Joker was shamelessly lifted from Beetlejuice and Keaton was the original cinematic version of Miller’s Batman, I believe a golden opportunity to cast Crazy Eyes Keaton as the Joker in the Dark Knight was squandered.

    2. I think Suderman is confusing influence on other writers (was it Miller or Moore who said something along the lines that DKR and Watchman did more damage to comics than Comics Code?) with influence on general public.
      I wish it was B:TAS version that was most influential (he’s the best, and Conroy is the only actor to imbue both Batman and Wayne with distinct yet believable personalities), but Batman Begins version is probably the definitive one in general culture, and that was certainly inspired by Miller.

      1. It would have to be Moore because Miller doubled down on everything he did in DKR until he became a ridiculous parody of himself.

        Moore’s run pretty far from Watchmen in his work since then, to the point that he spent a few years writing porn based on Alice in Wonderland, Wendy from Peter Pan, and Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz fingering each other during WWII.

        (The fact that this happened isn’t going to help my case with John that comics are serious art…)

  16. I find the interminable preposterous computer assisted stunts in “modern” movies to be tedious and boring.

    So there. Sue me.

    1. I tend to agree with you.

      1. It has destroyed all sense of timing in movies. Half the excitement of a scene is the set up and the contrast of the violence and motion to the quiet that came before. Back when they had to actually do stunts and create special effects, movie makers were limited in the number they could do and were forced to build a movie around them. Now they can do as many as they want and since building a movie is hard and CGI violence and stunts easy, they is all they do. And the movies have become one long assault on the senses.

        1. I agree with this. Thanks be to Michael Bay.

  17. Its a fucking comic book. Sorry, I just had to say it.

    1. beat me by three minutes….argh!!!

      1. But you said it better.

  18. I hope you all understand, 1) it’s a fucking movie about fucking comic book characters, 2) there is nothing important or even worth talking about going on inside the movie or the comic book 3) your mother was right to throw them away when she found them and finally it’s a fucking movie about comic book characters…

    1. ^^THIS^^

      You only have so much time on this earth and you will only read a set number of words before you die. Why you would spend any of them on a comic book knowing that they necessarily come at the expense of actual good books is beyond me.

      1. Ahem, THe Dark Knight Returns was a Graphic Novel.

        1. well I’ll give props for WWs tits, but that’s it and the reviewer should be required to perform at least 20 hours of real physical labor for every ass-wipe movie review he wants to write…

      2. So elitist.

        1. Yes. Yes I am. I am a horrible elitist about some things. This is one of them. The fact that I am such an elitist is why I find elitism from others so unbearable.

          1. At least you can admit it.

            1. For sure. Everyone is an elitist in some way. It is human nature. I find it hysterical that someone who is as elitist Suderman is in other ways reads comic books like they are serious literature.

              1. They aren’t serious literature. And very few people think that they are. But neither is Tolkein, or Heinlein, or Lewis, Card, or Clark, or dozens of other Sci-Fi or fantasy writers. It isn’t “serious literature” that the academics and and phds TELL YOU are good because they are good for you. But they can say interesting things, they can be enjoyable, and they certainly can say interesting things about humans and politics.

                1. I’ve never heard of Tolkein, so I’ll take your word that he’s not serious.

                  I myself am a fan of Tolkien.

          2. The quality of a work is based on how well the artist exploits a medium, the medium itself is irrelevant.

            Drawings are art. Literature is art. But for some reason if you stick words and pictures together, some people think it magically becomes worthless. Vertigo Comics in particular has produced stupendous work. Unfortunately, they’re owned by DC and DC is run by morons who have decided to make yet another Superman movie instead of doing something cool with Sandman or Y: The Last Man.

            1. Hasn’t Sandman labored in development hell for years? Maybe HBO or AMC will turn it into a miniseries.

            2. Y: The Last Man could get a teeny bit preachy at times but generally the way it lampooned some of those messages and the overall witty writing were incredible.

              Locke & Key by Rodriguez and Hill was very well done too. Unlike Horns and to a lesser extent Heart Shaped Box, Hill really hits the Lovecraftian feeling out of the park instead of being a derivative of his father’s tone.

              1. I haven’t read that. I read Heart Shaped Box and thought it was pretty mediocre, but I read Hill’s 20th Century Ghosts and it was very good. His short stories are more creative than his longer books.

                I don’t really like him all that much though because he’s too ‘mainstream horror.’ I prefer stuff like Thomas Ligotti to the Stephen King/Joe Hill type of horror writing.

                1. I really wonder if I would enjoy Hill more if King hadn’t existed (setting aside the biological difficulty). I found parts of HSB (and Horns) good but then I come across a character that might as well have been lifted right out of Needful Things or Salem’s Lot.

                  I haven’t read any Ligotti. I’ll have to give that a go.

            3. That is a fair statement. The problem is when it involves men in tights and such. You are right, the problem is not so much a graphic novel. You are right, there is nothing that says that can’t be good. The problem is when the graphic novel involves a rich guy who runs around fighting mythical super villains.

              1. I’m going to go out on a limb here but, John, you might actually really enjoy Y: The Last Man.

                1. Perhaps. If it is in fact a well written novel, why bother with the cartoons? And doesn’t the existence of the cartoons limit the language and the descriptiveness of ti? How much interesting stuff can you really put into a thought cloud?

                  1. Y isn’t what I would call great art. It creates a basic setting and allows the strength of the series, the dialogue, to carry it.

                  2. If it is in fact a well written novel, why bother with the cartoons?

                    Maybe real novels would be even better with cartoons.

              2. I’m really confused about why men in tights kills any ability to tell a good story in your opinion.

                1. Because he can’t stop staring at the bulges.

                  /lame gay joke at John’s expense

            4. Yes, this exactly. I am not interested in comics or graphic novels at all. I’ve read probably 3 of them through in my life. So I’m not some comics dork defending his nerdy pastime.
              That said, I see no reason why comics can’t be just as serious and interesting an art form as the novel or fine art painting.

              A lot of comic books probably are childish shit. The majority of novels are as well.

      3. Check out Woodring’s Jim . No reading necessary — just look at the pitchers.

      4. Because some of the best modern narrative story telling occurs in comic books and it’s ridiculous to write off an entire medium by acting like comics are the same as they were in the 1960s when they were mostly for children.

        Unless you think Persepolis doesn’t count as a work of art because it features pictures

        1. Because some of the best modern narrative story telling occurs in comic books

          I don’t doubt that. That however says everything you need to know about modern narrative. I don’t read crap novels either.

          1. So why pick on comics? (I’m going to guess that it’s mostly because you enjoy needling the nerds). Most of what is produced in any creative medium is not worth the time.

            1. There is that zeb. And there is also the fact that they are not deep. And people who pretend they are deserve to be needled.

              1. I honestly have no idea whether comics are deep. A lot of people seem to think they are.

      5. “I would only read the novels that people classify as ‘beach books’ if I were being held prisoner and the only alternative was the ‘Book of Mormon.'”

        1. I am not sure what beach novels are but I don’t read those either.

        2. I find it’s quite possible to read anything on a beach.

      6. Did we really have a 20-odd comment sub-thread where we took a troll’s Alpha-Male posturing seriously?

        1. John is having his fun, HM, and the nerds (and me) are obliging him.

          1. I was talking more Radioactive than John. And John is a nerd, he reads Camus.

            1. Yes sir, but the philosophy nerd is having his fun flaming the comic nerds. which is why there are sub-threads. Gosh!

            2. Yeah, pretty much Crusty. The only thing more fun than kicking around comic books on here, is insulting Rush.

            3. He claims to read Camus. Because John is a pretentious Trump-sucking dick. *cut to John googling Camus for a stupid quote.*

          2. Absolutely I am having my fun. You guys kick around people for being rubes and hicks all of the time. And then you are going to wax philosophical about comic books and think I am going to let that pass unremarked? No way.

            1. Read Frank Thorne’s Moonshine McJuggs . Plenty of cornpone pig-wrasslin’ and halter top bustin’ going on in that comic.

      7. Not all of us read as slowly as you.

      8. I enjoyed most of the comic books I read a lot more than the supposedly important works of literature.

      9. Do you play video games, John?

        Seems like at least as much of a pointless, childinsh waste of time as reading comics.

        I neither read comics nor play video games, so I am the only true. serious adult here. Suck it.

    2. Some people are interested in things that you are not interested in? I am outraged.

      1. It’s more a case that grown men who are so invested in something as childish as fantasy superhumans who wear tights and capes are difficult to fathom.

        1. They wear tights and capes while blowing shit up and getting in brawls.

        2. I agree, this Cult of Heracles has got to end!

        3. Yeah, why would a bunch of libertarians who see the world in a pretty reality based way, and note how fucked everything is on a consistent basis, look for something that could bring some escapism and entertainment to their lives?

      2. There is nothing outrageous about it. It is just a fun excuse to look down your nose at someone. Snobbery is man’s favorite indoor outdoor sport. Some people get their virtue signal on by hating on Donald Trump, others by hating on NASCAR, others hating on hipsters and people like radioactive and I get our virtue signal on by laughing at people over the age of ten who read comic books. Everyone needs a hobby.

        1. You are such a sad, little man.

          1. You are such a humorless dumb man. You read comic books dude.

            1. I read everything.

    3. A few comix are quite subversive and thought-provoking .

      Not the Marvel/DC/Image shitfactories though.

      1. I really need to read Sandman

          1. Should I just start with volume 1?

            1. Yes. Sandman’s first book isn’t great though because he didn’t know exactly where he was going yet. It picks up very quickly though. You need to read the main series straight through because there are a lot of callbacks to earlier events.

    4. There is a place for dumb entertainment. I don’t read comix but I do enjoy the old, campy Superman movies. All the new stuff takes itself way too seriously.

      1. There is. It is just that it shouldn’t be taken very seriously and it is fun to tweak those who do.

    5. Do you think that fiction has nothing to teach? That nothing is gained by story telling?

      I posit that the difference between — a work of fiction and a history book on any given dead person or society — is nothing more than a blurred distinction of this was real, and that is not. Outside of that distinction the reader absorbs the material in the same manner, to the same effect. Lastly, every fictional character was penned by somewhere by a real man. Most would hold that we can gain or learn from others, the medium in which the lesson is conveyed matters little or not at all.

      1. For the most part, yes. I very rarely read fiction. Mostly I read history books.

  19. Superhero dreck has always been authoritarian and jingoistic.

    The Dark Knight was fascist (I read that garbage back when it first came out). I think it was the NY Times critic who called it out for what it was….

    Boy scout with muscles: “You better not break the Law or I’ll beat you up!”

    1. or fuck your puppy?

    2. So protecting others from the aggressions of the less scrupulous is fascist?

      1. Isn’t there a court system in these fuck in universes??

        1. I think the idea is that the courts are corrupt and the only alternative left is vigilantism. I don’t read these things but I did watch the Dark Knight movie. It had its good points. Heath Ledger was very good and a lot of the dialog written for him was also good. It did a great job explaining how evil rationalizes itself and uses false moral equivalency to seduce people.

          That being said, the guy who played batman was awful. Every scene he was in that involved him speaking was painful. And the plot was ridiculous. It never really bothered to explain where the courts were or why the police were so incompetent or just where in the hell Gothom City exists such that the national government allows it to decay into complete chaos without intervening. The whole thing was one long excuse to give Batman an excuse to kick people’s ass.

          There certainly are worse movies out there but why people take that movie seriously is beyond me.

          1. Never heard of Detroit?

            1. Detroit is not Gothom City. And that actually brings up another point; no one ever seems to move from Gothom City. The idea of moving to a more peaceful and well run city never seems to occur to anyone.

              1. no one ever seems to move from Gothom City

                Umm…Nightwing?

              2. I don’t care what Chicago thinks, both Metropolis and Gotham are stand-ins for New York. And everyone stereo-typically acknowledges that purebred New Yorkers never leave the city. Why would they? They already live in the most powerful, influential, greatest city in the world…………..

                I fuckin’ hate the Yankees.

                1. I, too, am pissed off that CC Sabathia can’t get his act together.

        2. Isn’t there a court system in these fuck in universes??

          Wait, you “read” the comic but you didn’t get the whole Harvey Dent thing?

  20. The energy expended by grown men in arguments over comic books has always left me bemused. Maybe it’s because I was never into them as a kid. For that matter, I didn’t know anyone who was – friends, kids I hated, nerds, whatever, none of them were into comic books that I can remember. Maybe the late ’80s were a fallow period for that sort of thing, I don’t know.

    1. For me it was the wave of 90s cartoons.

      1. Justice League was good as a kid.

      2. Same. The 90’s was when geekdom turned the corner into the dominant force of cool in America. You either get that or you get the fuck out.

    2. You did it better; what a waste of time.

  21. “Peter Suderman on How Frank Miller Redefined Batman”

    How about a scholarly presentation on the character development of, oh, Donald Duck?
    FFS, Reason wastes bandwidth on cartoon characters?

    1. Go unwrap yourself Werthers Original, old man!

      1. In the theater, while you watch Batman vs Superman.

  22. I wuz sad there wuz no Wonder Twinz.

    1. You have to suffer through Wendy, Marvin, and Wonder Dog before you can have your Wonder Twins and Gleep.

  23. I’ve never really been into comics or graphic novels, but I purchased and read Miller’s Dark Knight when it came out. I liked it.

  24. Not slagging Miller completely with my above posts: I absolutely loved Hard-Boiled and Sin City .

  25. I’m a long-time Batman fan (first picked up an issue in the 70s at about age 7), and I must be one of the few who doesn’t much care for Frank Miller’s Dark Knight.

    His idea of making Batman an old man has some merit, and I kinda liked the female Robin he introduced. The book was ill-served however, by Miller’s pencils. He just doesn’t have the drawing ability to carry the story. I recently re-read it, and there were numerous panels where I was trying to figure out what the hell was going on in the drawing. Strangely enough, Miller’s artwork is mostly acceptable to me in 300, or Sin City. With Batman, however, he blew it.

    Also, the Superman as Reagan’s henchman and government flunkie plot line annoyed even the pre-Libertarian me back then, and it hasn’t improved with age.

    Maybe it’s my 1970s comic nostalgia talking, but for me the very best iteration of the character came with the return to his dark roots that started in the early 70s, with writers like Denny O’Neil and artists like Neal Adams, Marshall Rogers, and Jim Aparo.

    As for the new movie, I’m waiting to see it free on Netflix. Doesn’t seem worth even a rental fee, I’m afraid.

    1. The 70s Batman had some *GREAT* comics! Unfortunately, it was also back when Batman and Detective Comics were at a low ebb and not selling very well. Heck, DC almost cancelled their namesake title, Detective comics. And as much as like Adams, Rogers, and Aparo, there are others who also do a good job on Batman, like Walt Simonson, and especially Michael Golden.

    2. Maybe it’s my 1970s comic nostalgia talking, but for me the very best iteration of the character came with the return to his dark roots that started in the early 70s, with writers like Denny O’Neil and artists like Neal Adams, Marshall Rogers, and Jim Aparo.

      You’re NOT the only one. Include Dick Giordano in the artist list.

  26. He went insane over Suderman and stroked out at his computer.

    Is this some sort of thinly veiled reference to masturbation?

    1. Isn’t everything?

  27. Oh God halp. Listening to two sales guys and the field buyer spout conservative talking points and butcher the names of books and quotations. Its like somebody pulled the string on a talking doll.

    1. Hopefully it’s not the Hamlet talking doll. You’ll be there for a while.

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