There seems to be a strange type of fanboy backlash going on in the world. The majority of it now stems from the DC Universe. Not the comics, because it seems as if no one is really bothering to put pen to paper about “Rebirth”. The backlash involves their direct home releases and tent pole motion pictures, which brings us to last week’s big DC Comics and Warner Brother releases of Batman: The Killing Joke (home release) and the Suicide Squad (theatrical).
To be fair to the uninitiated, It would be best to give you a quick breakdown of what these two properties are. Batman: The Killing Joke is the long awaited animated adaptation of Alan Moore’s classic story of the Joker crippling Barbara Gordon (aka Batgirl), all in attempt to drive Commissioner Gordon mad. When this attempt fails, Batman is told by Gordon to bring the Joker in by the book. The content of the story, in this 1988 comic, easily earns it an R rating. For years fans of DC’s animated universe wanted this story translated to the small screen. DC finally conceded and cast fan favorites Kevin Conroy (as Batman) and Mark Hamill (as The Joker) in the leads. The Suicide Squad is the third live action film in the new cinematic DC Universe. Forget all about Superman Returns and Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy, everything started with the Man of Steel. The Suicide Squad is a collection of villains brought together to do some good. They are strong-armed into accomplishing this task, all with the hopes of making their prison sentences easier. What makes Suicide Squad unique is that none of these characters have been established yet in this new cinematic universe. These aren’t villains from Man of Steel or Batman v Superman. So a ton of exposition and character development is needed to make who they are actually matter.
Warner Brothers and DC Comics treated both properties equally, despite one being a home release, and got mixed results. Warner Brothers paraded Batman: The Killing Joke at the San Diego Comic-Con. A bold move, but one that assured fans DC had gold on their hands. After all, if you are going to showcase the long awaited Killing Joke to a crowd of 500+ fans, then you had better have gold. The initial reactions were not favorable to DC. In fact, the web lit up with unfavorable reviews and fanboy reactions. Not what you want when you already have a Fathom Event planned to screen this long-awaited adaptation across the US. So after Comic-Con subsided, a whole new batch of reviews started to surface reaffirming the same thing.
Now, in case you noticed, I did not site any reviews above. Why? It seems if as if we are running into an era where critics are in abundance. I’m not saying 1,000 Leonard Maltins are populating the web with reviews of the latest superhero offerings. In fact, it is the regular fan now who has a tirade on his blog, Facebook, and or Twitter trashing a property. I’ll admit that I, too, was hesitant about finally seeing The Killing Joke, but damn it, I wanted to see for myself. I mean, if the same fanboys that loved Batman v Superman hated The Killing Joke, in no way can I respect their opinions.
Was I disappointed in DC’s adaptation of The Killing Joke? No. The first 28 minutes of the film is indeed a huge departure from the source material. I saw it as a reasoning and establishing of the character of Batgirl/ Barbara Gordon. This is further enforced by the new wave of strong female characters in pop culture. I’m not saying she never was, it is just appropriate now to give the character her moment, her backstory, and what’s at stake in relation to the source material that only had her open a door and get brutality paralyzed. This new, longer story, in its animated form, deserved a little bit more exposition of Batgirl. With that being said, one could easily argue, what fan who picks the first R-rated DC Animated feature, doesn’t know what The Killing Joke is about? I saw it as a short story that preceded the original comic’s events. The best of all of it gave us 28 more minutes of Tara Strong and Kevin Conroy returning to their Batman: The Animated Series roles.
A larger issue we all seem to encounter now is the Marvel vs DC battle. Fans of either camp will trash a film solely because it’s from the camp they do not support. In “trashing” I mean they will verbally attack people on reviews, create Memes, and generally forget the first thing in what being a comic book fan was all about, community. We are truly in a golden age where the likes of Rocket Raccoon and Captain Boomerang grace the silver screen. Trashing a film simply because you like Batman more than Captain America is ridiculous. Seriously people, its time to grow up. These characters are to offer an escape, not make you draw weapons and spit hate.
Thus we arrive at Suicide Squad. It appears as if DC Comics fans are rallying behind their film, despite critics panning it. Marvel fanboys are laughing because, again, it appears as if DC is rushing to play catch up. Where I fall on Suicide Squad won’t matter to you. Run out and see it, if that is what you find entertaining. There lies the point, people. What you find entertaining is not what others find entertaining. Each one of us is cut from a different cloth and our exposure to things like comics, movies, and TV shows is all different. You might have loved Batman v Superman and hated Captain America: Civil War. Why? You loved Man of Steel and thought Ben Affleck’s Batman was far superior to Christian Bale’s. Captain America: Civil War might have been disappointing because you were expecting a movie version of the comic book only to learn that it was more of its own thing than a direct translation (much like Batman: The Killing Joke). The point is, get out there and experience it for yourself. If money is tight and you can’t afford a bad night out (movie-wise), in less than 4 months the Suicide Squad will be out on DVD and Blu-ray (it will also probably be longer and rated R).
Be objective and don’t worry about what the critics say. I’m a critic and I can’t believe I just wrote that. We offer you an opinion. That opinion is like asking a bookie what the odds are on a race. You still have to put your money down and make that bet. The bookie only tells you what your odds are. Yes, I have probably seen more movies than you, but does that make me a movie expert? No, but it supplies me with enough knowledge to guide you on whether or not to make the bet.
So, what are my odds on Batman: The Killing Joke? If you loved the comic on which it was based, there is some additional story that is not really needed. If you are a fan of Batman: The Animated Series, you will love to hear Tara Strong return as Batgirl and witness her struggle in coming to terms with how she feels about Batman. Conroy and Hamill nail the source material, which you already knew they would. They are forever Batman and The Joker, and this solidifies the fanboy’s point: why cast anyone else in these roles?
My odds on the Suicide Squad? It’s a lot of great characters and acting with a sub-par script. The villain is weak, the plot is weak, and the insertion of more Batman-to-move-the-Justice League-plot-along is redundant. DC should stop copying Marvel and just go out on a limb and do their own thing. My suggestion, stop pussyfooting around and release the longer R-rated cuts. This just makes you look bad. Especially, when that extra material is essential to the plot.
The R-rated BATMAN: THE KILLING JOKE is now available on Blu-ray™ Deluxe Edition, Blu-ray™ Combo Pack and DVD. The Blu-ray™ Deluxe Edition includes an exclusive figurine of The Joker in a numbered, limited edition gift set.
Blu-ray and DVD Releases for August 9th, 2016
Action / Adventure / Mystery / Western
Canadian Pacific (1949)
The Cariboo Trail (1950)
Female Prisoner Scorpion: The Complete Collection (1972)
The Yakuza Papers: Hiroshima Death Match (1973)
The Yakuza Papers: Battles Without Honor and Humanity (1973)
The Yakuza Papers: Police Tactics (1974)
The Yakuza Papers: Final Episode (1974)
Absolute Duo: The Complete Series
Barakamon: The Complete Series
Garo the Animation: Season One Part Two
Gunslinger Girl Gunslinger Girl II Teatrino: Ssn 1
Wake Up Girls TV
DCU: Batman: Gotham Knight/DCU Batman Year One – MFV
DCU: Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox/DCU: Justice League: Crisis On Two Earths
Scooby- Doo and WWE: Curse of the Speed
Basket Case 2 (1990)
Basket Case 3: The Progeny (1991)
Microwave Massacre (1983)
Stephen King’s It
Violent Shit – The Movie
Whoever Slew Auntie Roo? (1971)
Science Fiction / Fantasy / Superhero
Lucy – 4K
Oblivion – 4K
Supergirl: Season 1
Twin Peaks: The Original Series, Fire Walk With Me & The Missing Pieces