Gotham: Why is There Always Someone Who Brings Eggs & Tomatoes To a Speech? (The Pros)

One of the big pros of Gotham?  The Penguin.  I really had never thought an origin of the Penguin.  It seemed, in a way, of little consequence.

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And yet, on Gotham, they have made him so very interesting.  Whereas Burton cast him as a despicable little monster in appearance, Gotham takes a different rout.

Oswald Cobblepot seems to have come from a family that may have been rich once, but their power and influence has deteriorated with Gotham.  And so Oswald had to crawl up the mob rungs and fight to survive.  He will betray, lie, steal…anything to achieve the power he so badly wants.

Robin Lord Taylor portrays the Penguin as both incredibly pathetic and frighteningly dangerous.  It is, in fact the pathetic aspect that seems to drive his vicious win-at-any-cost behavior.  He first loathes the nickname of the Penguin, but ultimately seems to embrace it.  He knows he is not physically threatening…but no matter how many times people attempt to take him out, he shows himself to be one step ahead.  This could very well prove to be the downfall of those who think they hold power over him.

His mother (played with a creepy presence by Carol Kane) seems fully oblivious to her son’s activities, and seems fixated almost romantically on her son.  She is constantly fearful that a woman will take him away from her.  And Oswald does nothing to change this.  Whether it is attention he enjoys, or is so used to it he has no idea it is creepy, I do not know.

What I do know, is watching the Penguin storyline is a very satisfying aspect of Gotham, and I find the portrayal of the character to be terrific.

You Fool!

So, I started watching Arrow.  The thing that has annoyed me most in the show is that every time Laurel Lance goes off on Ollie for how selfish he is and how shallow he is and so on… you can hear the writers laughing.  Like the amusing thing is how wrong she is.  The things she says may be accurate, but since she does not know it is all an act?  We are expected to wag our fingers and say, if you only knew The Truth!

It is painfully unfunny…because the person we are laughing at (or supposed to be) is being kept in the dark, and the only information they are given bolsters their concerns.  It is the troubling nature of the secret identity going back to Superman.  No matter how competent and smart the individual (especially in the case of a love interest) is, they are the butt of a joke they have no power in.  It is problematic in the best of cases.  But it usually just ends up allowing the viewer to feel superior to the person who is “unfairly badgering” the hero.

Also, what is it with DC shows and the mundane nicknames the heroes get dubbed with?  The Hood? The Blur? the Streak?  How long before Constantine is referred to as “The Trenchcoat”?

The Johns-ification of the DCU

I was thinking what it would be like if Geoff Johns had sole control of DC’s Publishing.  I imagine the titles would look like this:

Green Lantern (Starring Hal Jordan)

Green Lantern/Superman

Green Lantern/Batman

Green Lantern/Wonder Woman

Batman and Robin Starring Hal Jordan, featuring Batman and Robin

Superman starring Hal Jordan with appearances by Superman

Hal Jordan and his Justice Pals

The Hal Jordan Corp

Constantine Starring Hal Jordan

Gotham: Don’t Think About the Future! (The Cons)

So, I sunk my teeth into Gotham a week or so back.  After a bit of a shaky start, the show seems to have found it’s footing.  I am liking the show, but I figured for me first post on the topic, I would express my concerns.

First, the show needs more Fish Mooneys.  I do not mean clones.  But simply, important characters, new to the world of Gotham.  It needs characters we can be uncertain about.  Characters who might die unexpectedly, turn on people unexpectedly.  The fact that this is a story about Batman’s world and city before Batman means the big names  cannot give us to much of a surprise.  Harvey Dent cannot die.  Nor can Jim Gordon or Harvey Bullock.  Not without a major change to the mythos.  If all your new characters are one offs or low, low level thugs (basically Red Shirts) it is hard to provide a sense of the danger in Gotham.

The show needs to focus less on the hints of…the future.  The entire cast cannot, and should not be comprised of Batman’s rogue gallery.  The Penguin works.  Having young Riddler work in a crime lab works.  Introducing Leslie Thompson and Harvey Dent?  These make sense.  The idea that they populate the landscape of Gotham before Batman enters the picture is a pretty solid idea.  I am sure it is tempting to put hints and references all over the place.  The showrunners and their team need to fight this desire.  Use what works.  Hold back on what does not.

This means…never, ever introduce the Joker.

This was, of course, the problem of Smallville.  And trust me, when you are bringing in Doomsday, you are going overboard in your comic book references.  Smallville had Superman meeting everyone he would ever deal with before he adopted the name of Superman.  It got downright silly at some points.  And since they were introducing characters imortant to the future, when they tried to be dramatic?  It ended up becoming stupid.  If there is one thing I do not want to see happen on Gotham?  It is the death of Penguin…followed by the audience secretly meeting the previously never mentioned little brother Ozzie Cobblepot, who will someday grow up to be the REAL Penguin.

Second?  It was a mistake to open with the death of the Waynes.  I get why they did.  It is an iconic moment.  But truthfully?  I think it was a wasted opportunity.  We should have gotten to see the Waynes in action.  The Waynes, the most powerful and rich family in Gotham.  The one family hated by their peers, loved by the common man.  The Mafia hates the Waynes because Thomas and Martha run the risk of bringing hope and courage to the poor of Gotham.  They are unafraid of Falcone or any other Gotham Mob Bosses.  The Elite in Gotham want to stay in the good graces of the Wayne Money, but despise their generosity and unwillingness to play the social elite games.  The Gotham PD don’t care for them because they feel the Waynes interfere to much.  Nobody likes the Waynes, but they want the opportunity to have access to the things the Waynes have.

We could see a few meetings between Gordon and the Waynes, where it is clear they like this Gordon guy and the heroism he represents.  He sees them as key to healing the poisoned Gotham.  And then?  They are brutally murdered.  I think this would have been best served as either a mid season or season finale moment.  Gordon’s hunt for their killer and the blockades he hits challenge his morale.  It is a perfect setup for a second season.  But enough with the could have beens.

Finally?  Alfred is kind of off.  The actor seems right, so I am not challenging casting.  But the dialog…there are moments where I feel like he is to impatient with Bruce.  That he has a tough side is unquestioned, but it is always tempered by compassion and patience.  That said…I did like the moment in last week’s episode where he looks at Bruce’s classmate and says, “Remember that I let him.”  That is all the context I will give.

The Donner Illusion

Some segments of the film and comic community are being extraordinarily tough on Man of Steel.  And some are, bizarrely, appealing to the Superman given to us by Richard Donner, Richard Lester and Bryan Singer.

I am not addressing the folks who are equally critical of those films. But the people appealing to The Donner/Lester/Singer version either have poor memories or are willfully ignoring celluloid history.  I am about to really blow it if you have not seen the movie.

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A Foundation of Steel

Dave Poland, among others, have harped on the fact that the Man of Steel never really addresses “What do you think will happen when people find out there are people like Clark Kent out there.” It really doesn’t. There is just to much action to get around to it. But it seems likely it is a setup for another film. People seem to be forgetting in their criticism that this is the start for a franchise. Man of Steel is not meant to be a “done in one tale”. It is a setup for more films. And that matters. You cannot ignore that.

A franchise film should tell a story, but it also will leave some questions unaddressed. Batman Begins did not tell us anything about the Joker other than his calling card. X-Men introduced all sorts of questions about Wolverine answering pretty much none of them.

The film shows a Lexcorp truck, which suggests we will see a businessman Lex Luthor in the sequel. In the comics, Lex has, in more than one incarnation, been driven by a fear of aliens. And Man of Steel certainly sets that up. I can easily see a subplot where Lex is ranting against Superman and trying to get people to his side, while the Daily Planet is championing Superman.

The funny thing is we DO see how people react. There are civilians thankful Superman saved them. The soldiers accept him. Lois and the scientist accept him. We get our answer. Jonathan Kent was wrong.

You just cannot force a Franchise starting film to follow the rules of a one off film. You cannot hold them to that standard. There are a lot of problems with Man of Steel, but not answering every question is not one of them.

What MoS Was Missing Was Grim Lead

You know…I did like the Man of Steel, but I found plenty to be critical of. One of the problems is we never got much of Clark building relationships with people. Now, instead of a sequel, we are getting a team up movie. Warner Brothers is desperately trying to catch up with Marvel’s cinematic success. The Nolan Bat trilogy was not made to open that door to a shared cinematic universe. Green Lantern could have been made to acknowledge the growing Super-hero universe. Man of Steel was the first film made with a larger universe in mind. But Marvel really committed to the shared Universe concept. And they planned for it to lead up to the Avengers. They started laying their groundwork in the First Iron Man through Captain America three years later, they built up characters that appeared throughout various films, and lead into the Avengers. And they managed to bring all their actors back with one exception (replacing the terrific Ed Norton with the talented Mark Ruffalo). DC has one movie and the next film they announce is a sequel to Man of Steel starring…Batman? Then a Flash movie? Because, apparently Wonder Woman is a really hard concept for DC. Then A Justice League movie. But while DC wants the successes of Marvel’s films, they want to do it without the commitment or effort of setting it all up. They are rushing it and it shows. I cannot imagine this will improve the problems of Man of Steel, it might even make them worse.