Posts Tagged ‘Crossovers’

Lego Batman is a spinoff from the 2014 Lego movie (which featured Batman), and has a surprising level of introspection into the Batman character.

It’s a very meta film, with Batman’s voice talking over the opening credits, remarking how cool movies start in black with ominous music, going on to comment on the Warner Brother’s and DC logos. The opening scene offers more self-awareness as its remarked that a plane with a ton of explosives is flying over a city (Gotham) with an extremely high crime rate. Naturally the Joker hijacks the plane, but the pilot is not scared of the Joker at all, as he remarks all the times Batman has stopped him (actually referencing the Dark Knight film as well as Tim Burton’s first Batman film). When asked what to do, Commissioner Gordon says out loud that they’ll do the only thing they ever do, which is turn on the Bat-signal. Naturally Batman saves the day. Joker gets away, but Batman is greeted with his usual hero’s welcome. Batman soon returns to his Bat-cave, as a journalists comments that Batman will probably go home and have a big party with all his friends.

This leads to some surprisingly quiet and mundane moments. Batman goes home to his mansion, puts some lobster in the microwave, and eats by himself. Watching the “You complete me” scene from Jerry McGuire he cracks up laughing, he finds it hilarious. His butler Alfred eventually shows up, and we immediately get the surrogate father/son relationship between the two. Batman acts like a spoiled child, while Alfred tells him that he needs friends.

Lego Batman’s central theme is Batman learning that he needs other people, and also explores what Batman fears the most, along with the concept of a sidekick, his relationship with the law, and Batman’s relationship with the Joker. In fact, it is a breakthrough in that relationship that leads to the resolution at the film’s climax.

Without giving major spoilers, early on in the movie, Joker outsmarts Batman by actually surrendering. Joker knows being locked up at Arkham won’t be enough for Batman, and this knowledge moves the plot. Along the way Joker teams up with villains from various media, including Lord Voldemort from Harry Potter, King Kong, the Kraken, Dracula, Sauron from Lord of the Rings, the Gremlins, and the Daleks from Dr. Who, which are referred to as British robots. I wonder if they weren’t allowed to use the name Daleks or something.

Batman villains aren’t lacking however, we get the traditional rogues gallery of Catwoman, the Riddler, etc, but also a bunch of obscure ones. The Joker breaks the fourth wall telling us that all these characters, no matter how ridiculous (Condiment Man) are real characters, and actually encourages us to Google them.

Lego Batman is the kind of movie you’ll want to get on DVD and pause a million times to get all the Easter eggs. I doubt any movie ever had more Easter eggs than this. I believe there are references to every live action Batman appearance (including the 1940’s serials), as well as nods to the animated series of the 90’s and Batman Beyond, and nods to various comic books like The Dark Knight Returns. There’s a ton of references to the Batman Adam West TV show of the 1960’s. Actual villains from the show like King Tut and Egg Head appear, there’s more than one reference to the Bat-Shark Repellent, and there’s even actual footage of the series shown.

Given the plot, I was hoping Batman would team up with heroes from other media. This didn’t happen, but there is an appearance by Superman and the Justice League. In their segment we get both musical and visual nods to the first two Christopher Reeve Superman movies, and we see a bunch of obscure characters from the old Super Friends cartoon.

Personally, one of my big nerd fantasies is a story/a world with characters from  various media, comics, TV, film, video games, etc. all together. The Lego film series may be the closest I come to seeing this. It’s nice to have various references to things in film, but things like that don’t matter unless the movie is good. Given it’s a kids movie, Lego Batman is infinitely better than it needed to be. It is a very poignant examination of the Batman character and the tropes that surround it. Honestly, Lego Batman may be the best Batman movie there is.

 

 

 

 

 

The Lego movie is a CGI film from Warner Brothers based on the toy building blocks of the same name. The story is about a Lego builder man named Emmet who lives a completely ordinary life as a construction worker. He follows his daily instructions on how to live a happy life. His favorite song is the pop hit “Everything is Awesome,” and his favorite TV show is the popular “Where’s my pants?” He works as a construction worker demolishing buildings that aren’t built according to instructions/that are weird, and rebuilding them the right way.

One day he meets a woman named Wyldstyle, and accidentally finds a mythical piece of resistance.The piece of resistance is said to be able to stop President Business, who rules the world they live in. President Business believes in order and everything being in it’s proper place, and secretly has a plan to keep things in permanent order. Wyldstyle and Emmet join the Master Builders, a group of characters that can build anything without needing instructions, and try to stop President Business.

So the central conflict is between structure and spontaneity, however it’s not cut and dry. The disadvantages of 100% spontaneity are hinted at, and Emmet realizes that victory can only come about through a balance between the two. Some interesting philosophy from a movie one can dismiss as a mere toy commercial.

At the end of the movie you find out what’s really going on and it’s very meta. The animation is great and it’s a highly enjoyable movie.

One of the coolest things about the Lego movie is all the licensed characters that appear. Warner Brothers’ DC comics characters appear, Batman having a supporting role. One of the funniest and surprising moments came with the arrival of Star Wars characters Han Solo and Chewbacca in the Millennium Falcon. We see Star Wars characters on screen with DC comics characters, and the crossover potential for future installments is huge. The characters that appear are as follows;

DC comics characters Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern.

Michelangelo from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Gandalf from Lord of the Rings

Dumbledore from Harry Potter

Milhouse from the Simpsons

From history Abraham Lincoln and William Shakespeare

Pop culture, Shaq, the Statue of Liberty

Then there’s more generic characters like Mermaids, Knights, and Cowboys.

Here’s to future installments.

Planetary/Batman: Night of Earth, is a meta-fictional examination of the Batman mythos. The concept of Planetary is these three people investigate the mysteries of the 20th century which involve characters from various pop culture/comic books. (The villains of the main series are basically the Fantastic Four.) With the tag line “Archaeologists of the Impossible,” it was one of my favorite series.

Apparently in the world of Planetary there is a Gotham city, but no Batman. Dick Grayson is head of the Planetary office in Gotham, and has an assistant named Jasper, which is basically the Joker. The crew is called in to find a fugitive whose powers involved being able to cross different realities.

In a nice nod to DC’s Crisis on Infinite Earth’s, the leader Elijah recalls a “partial multiversal collapse” in 1986 where several universes folded into each other. It’s also theorized that Gotham city itself is some sort of focal point in the multiverse.

As the three find the fugitive they end up hopping realities and encountering different versions of Batman, including the original version of Batman who carries guns and is willing to kill. In a much more humorous moment, female agent Jakita run afoul of the Adam West Batman, who takes her out with his Bat-Female Villain Repellent. Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns Batman makes an appearance before the story comes to a close.

It’s a clever idea for a crossover to have the concept of different versions of a character be part of the actual story. It’s also a well-made crossover in the sense that there’s no reason it can’t be considered canon for the Planetary series. Recommended for a good quick read.

When Disney bought Lucasfilm last year, many people speculated when and if there would be a crossover between Star Wars and Marvel Comics, which Disney also bought a few years ago. If you ask me I think that will happen eventually, either in comic book form (the easiest route) or on screen. It got me thinking of what other Disney properties Marvel could incorporate into their world. One Lucasfilm property immediately jumped to mind. I think the following properties could easily be incorporated into the Marvel 616 Universe.

1. Garygoyles.

With New York City being a prominent location in the Marvel Universe, this 90s Disney cartoon about Gargoyles in the big apple is a natural fit. The cartoon features Gargoyles from 10th century Scotland perched atop buildings in the modern day big apple. During the day they are just stone statues but at night they come alive and have adventures involving fighting against their version of the Illuminati. They are also aided by a New York cop.  Gargoyles could easily bump into other New York based characters such as Spiderman, Daredevil, Punisher, etc, as well as more magic/horror based characters such as Dr. Strange and Ghost Rider.

2. Tron:

This 80s Franchise about a virtual video game like world to date has had one sequel as well as various video game and comic book tie ins. Tron blends well with science based heroes like the Fantastic Four and Iron Man. It also could be incorporated into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, filling in some of the pre-Iron Man history of that world, perhaps with the Stark company having dealings with Encom, a company in the Tron universe. Iron Man and/or the Avengers exploring the digital world of Tron would at least make a good video game.

3. Indiana Jones

When Disney bought Lucasfilm one of the first things I thought of was I hope Indy gets in the Marvel Universe. The adventures of a World War II era archaeologist preventing Nazis from gaining powerful ancient artifacts fits perfectly into the Golden Age of the Marvel Universe. An Indy/Captain America story practically writes itself, as do stories involving Atlantis, Wakanda, the Savage Land, Marvel’s take on ancient Egypt, and countless other possibilities.

Speaking of Captain America, like Tron, the Indiana Jones films could easily be retro-actively included into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In fact, Captain America, The First Avenger even has a backhanded reference to Raiders of the Lost Ark. When the Red Skull finds the Tesseract, he says “And Der Fuehrer searches for trinkets in the desert.” Of course at the time this line was just kind of a joke, but now Disney owns Lucas-film. Unfortunately we’ll probably never see a Captain America/Indiana Jones movie, but an in canon video game with the voice of Harrison Ford would be nice, or at the very least a comic book mini-series.

If nothing else it would add just under 2 billion dollars to the MCU gross, putting it just behind Harry Potter as the #2 highest grossing franchise at 6.9 billion dollars.

What do you think? What other properties could fit?

Century 2009 concludes the century trilogy, where Mina Murray, Alan Quatermain, and Orlando find the Moonchild/Anti-Christ that we’ve heard about in the last two installments. The climax of this story leaves us with interesting questions about the nature of the world of LXG, this world’s potential, and Moore’s own view on contemporary culture as well as creative issues in the comic book community.

Before that I want to mention a few pop culture references. We see a grown Jack Nemo threatening to start WWIII. We also get a 90 year old James Bond (a despicable man we met in the Black Dossier) now suffering from cirrhosis, emphysema, and syphilis. He’s kept alive to suffer as punishment to those he’s wronged before. We also get a glimpse of J3, and J6, basically the Bond’s of Roger Moore and Daniel Craig.

Back to the main story. The gang finds out that the Anti-Christ, for all intents and purposes, is Harry Potter. They go to what is essentially Hogwarts where it’s revealed that Harry Potter’s adventures were all arranged to get him ready for his destiny. Potter is not at the school now, the final battle takes place at his home.

The gang fights off Potter but it’s not going so well when, a character who is basically Jesus Christ shows up to save the day. So we get Harry Potter vs. Jesus Christ.

From a Christian perspective, could this be considered blasphemy? This brings to question the dynamics of the world of LXG. In the closing monologue of Black Dossier I believe it is suggested that some of the characters know they’re in a world of fiction. When Mina and Orlando arrive at Hogwarts the land is in ruins, and the two characters speculate that this area is like London’s dream-time  and that there could be a symbiotic relationship between the worlds of fiction and the real world. Mina says “maybe this magical landscape mirrors the real world.”

Orlando supposes it could also be the opposite. Saying “If our magical landscape, our art and fairy-tales and fictions… if that goes bad, maybe the material world follows suit.”

Back to Jesus, during the battle the Jesus character says “I have many great responsibilities,, foremost amongst these , however, is my concern for children. I am concerned regarding their wellbeing, and the healthy development of their imaginations.” Could it be that Jesus entered the world of fiction to save it from a pop culture Anti-Christ?

Another notion I would like to address, something I saw coming, was the view Alan seems to have of modern culture. Part of this is covered in a previous blog here https://jemurr.wordpress.com/2009/04/26/death-of-the-imagination-not/

Years ago Alan was quoted as saying (the full quote is in the link above) that this LXG story would be about the decay of the imagination. Mina in this story says “It’s not just the poverty, people were desperately poor in 1910. But at least they felt things had a purpose. How did culture fall apart in barely a hundred years.”

Orlando answers, “By becoming irrelevant, same as always.”

The irony is Alan Moore openly admits to knowing very little of contemporary culture. In this article linked below, which I also quoted in the above blog

http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=20812.

he says.

“I know absolutely nothing about contemporary culture. I am cut off from most inputs. I’m not connected to the internet in any way, I watch very little television.”

It is interesting to consider that Victorian England and England of 1969 in the world of LXG were both so vibrant, rich, and lively, and Moore’s world of 2009 is bleak and depressing. Yet he admits knowing little to nothing of today’s culture. You could make the argument that the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is the height of Baby Boomer arrogance, that it proclaims 1969 as the epitome of Western Popular Culture, and following that everything fell into oblivion.

On a less serious note, the saga of LXG is basically the story of British popular culture. There’s nothing wrong with Moore writing what he knows, and he certainly knows this. However I would have liked to have seen this world incorporate other popular culture as well, such as that of Asia, and naturally America. Planetery did a great job of this. Also, after Watchmen, Moore grew tired of writing super heroes. Caped adventurers did exist in the world of LXG, but they were more of an annoying fad. It would have been fun to see a good superhero adventure set in this world.

Finally, Harry Potter is the Anti-Christ and fights Jesus Christ, but no one should be allowed to touch Watchmen….