Episode One: The Enigma
How do you tick off The Joker? Well make a casino in his image. When a business tycoon does that just because the construction of the casino bankrupted him, he gets what he wanted and then some. This episode is mostly told from The Joker’s point of view as he learns about the new casino while in the recreation room in Arkham Asylum. Watching the debut of the casino on television, one which Bruce Wayne is conveniently featured and subsequently irritated after the debut, and becoming incised when someone is clearly using his likeness for profit. So escaping from Arkham and heading straight to the casino to kill the owner and destroy the casino.
The Joker immediately heads to the casino and is able to blend right in considering all the dealers are dressed like him. This leads into an interesting dual between Bruce Wayne (who of course is able to recognize The Joker and his distinguished laugh) and The Joker in a game of poker. The Joker was immediately cheating in the group before but Bruce knows what he is up to and able to best. The dialogue between them is interesting because The Joker claims to recognize him and is hinted that he knows Bruce and Batman are one in the same before conceding that he’s just Bruce Wayne. Bruce is not so subtly insulting The Joker and throwing him off his game. You can widely perceive that this is the first meeting between Bruce Wayne and The Joker.
Of course it does not take long for Bruce to suit up as Batman and discover that the whole casino is a insurance fraud. The casino construction bankrupted the owner and he was counting on The Joker to destroy it to collect the insurance. So it becomes a game of Batman trying to stop The Joker while also trying to stop the casino owner from executing his plan. In fact, Batman even informs The Joker what the owner is up to and while The Joker is upset, he just changes his plan to not blowing up the casino and just kill the owner.
There is nothing really special about the episode. But it is the perfect mix of humor with the serious once again. The humor comes from everyone’s various interactions with the casino. Bruce clearly on edge as his greatest enemy is all in his face at every turn. Also keenly aware that The Joker will strike. Though he doesn’t actually kill anyone in the episode, you always have a hint of unease about The Joker. We see just how smart and resourceful he is when he puts his mind to something. Immediately after seeing the casino, he breaks out and that hints that he could do it at any moment but chooses to stay at Arkham for whatever reason.
We also go to see more of Batman not just punching his way out of a situation. Here we get to see Batman being the detective. Wanting to know the exact reason why the owner made the casino in The Joker’s image. It’s another episode that shows that not all villains come with fancy costumes in gimmicks. Something that ran throughout Batman: The Animated Series was the white collar criminals that Batman has to contend with as well. While the super villains may cause wanton destruction, it is these criminals that keep the city down.
It’s also just a fun one off episode. Sometimes that’s needed.
It is titled, The Enemy Within and features my favorite Batman villain (after The Joker)
If you ask me who my favorite Batman villain is outside of The Joker, it would definitely have to be The Riddler. When I was a kid and they sold VHS tapes (remember those?) of episodes of series, my parents bought me one from Batman: The Animated Series and it was his first and last appearance in the series. His first appearance encapsulates everything great and terrifying about The Riddler. From the beginning, we see Edward Nygma (get it?) finishing a crossword puzzle with relative ease. But after being locked out of his episode and fired by his boss, Daniel Mockridge, for suing the company for royalties on a game he developed, Nygma is furious.
Cut to the present day, Mockridge is brokering a deal with Bruce Wayne when a threat appears on a news ticker outside. Hinting that Nygma has been threatening him for some time now. We later see Bruce suiting up as Batman and skulking around trying to figure out the riddle while Dick Grayson aka Robin is conveniently playing the game that Nygma developed. The two manage to discover where Nygma has his threat laid out where they come face to face with The Riddler…whom Batman immediately knows is Edward Nygma due to reading the company’s history.
Within the episode, we really see the value in Batman and Robin. As smart as Batman is, he needs someone to bounce ideas off and there are just things he doesn’t know. Due to Dick being a young adult, he is familiar with the live action version of the video game that he was playing earlier, which Nygma has managed to weaponize. A musical puzzle later is also something that Batman knows nothing about and it is up to Robin to help solve it. Also being familiar with the maze due to video game, he is the key to Batman figuring out loopholes to stop The Riddler’s plan.
The Riddler in the episode shows why he is one of Batman’s greatest villains. Pushing his mental limits as he does not just keep to one type of brain teasers but instead mixes it up and almost everything has a secret meaning. Something that goes unsaid but every episode that features The Riddler also has Robin in it to help Batman. From the beginning, we see how smug and narcissistic Nygma is. Almost all his dialogue with other people has him mentioning how great his intellect is while belittling those he is talking to. But as Mockridge even asks, “If you’re so smart, why aren’t you rich?” Nygma claims he is so smart yet he couldn’t comprehend that he signed a work for hire contract and while his lawsuit may be justified somewhat, it still seems like something he should have known before. Mockridge also firing him for suing the company also seems highly illegal yet Nygma does nothing about that and jumps straight to murder.
The ending of the episode is also great as The Riddler manages to get away. While he is a wanted man, he did achieve a variation of his goal. While he did not kill Mockridge, Mockridge is a shell of his former self. Having to sleep with a shotgun in his bed just because of his fear of The Riddler. Even though Batman managed to save him, Batman himself does not seem to give the man much sympathy either. It really makes you think about how you treat people whether you are in the right or wrong or in the middle.
What happens when Batman squares off against an efficiency expert? One of the best episodes from the beloved series. Starting with a flashback to seven years prior where we meet Temple Fugit (get it?) as he sternly waits for a train that is always a few seconds late according to him. Sitting across from a not yet Mayor Hill whom Fugit knows despite their only interactions being their joint commute. Seeing how wound up Fugit is, Hill suggests the man break schedule to appear more relaxed in front of a judge later in the day. Taking the Hill’s advice, everything seemingly goes wrong for Fugit and he ends up being late for the court appointment and thus he and his company ruined. Now years have passed and Fugit has spent all these years holding a grudge against Hill for “ruining” him. It is revealed that Hill, a lawyer, worked at the firm that Fugit’s company had the lawsuit with but Hill legitimately knew nothing about that.
Why does this rank among my favorite episodes of the series? Frankly because of just how perfectly they mix the goofy with the dangerous. The Clock King on paper is one of the goofiest villains you can probably perceive. Here making the villain an efficiency expert who knows everything down to the second. Analyzing hours of Batman fighting makes The Clock King one of the few villains that Batman never lays a solid punch on. He’s so good that he knows Batman is well equipped and the world’s greatest detective that all his traps are mostly to just delay Batman and all according to his plan.
Mayor Hill was always at best a peripheral character. This episode shows that he’s a decent man who probably got swallowed by the system when he became Mayor. He certainly deserves to have his efforts to improve the city tarnished or life threatened all because the genuine advice he gave did not go as planned.
This episode hints at something brought up in later episodes. Does Batman drive villainy to the city or would these people end up where we see them? This episode implies the latter. Temple Fugit was an already tightly wound (and it’s hinted that he was a highly functioning sociopath) man who took something highly personal and dedicated years and resources to enact revenge. It’s hinted that in the intervening years that he was still wealthy with him using $6000 watches and warehouses he legally owns in his plan.
Plus there is something funny about seeing Alfred drive Batman around. Not Bruce Wayne. Batman. (The episode takes place in a single day and Bruce Wayne was on the way to work)
After being a bright spot in The Lego Movie, it was no shock that Batman would be getting his own Lego movie. Whereras that movie had a meta story where the Legos served as an exploration of creativity vs. order, this is more of a straight up Batman story. While it is subtly implied that this is once again the imagination of a young child, it does not serve any major plot significance. Here we have a story about the self inflicted loneliness of Batman and how it affects his relationships with others.
The movie begins with Batman once again saving the day from The Joker and the rest of his rogues gallery. After denying Joker of the satisfaction of admitting their status as greatest enemies, we see Batman return home to a big empty house where his only companion is his computer. Batman’s isolation is so bad that he doesn’t even remove his cowl while being out of uniform. After falling for the new Commissioner Barbara Gordon and half heartedly adopting Dick Grayson, The Joker turns himself and the rest of the villains in leaving Batman with nothing to do.
This is probably the first Batman movie to really delve into his psychological issues. In fact this movie actually puts a light on one of the biggest issues with Batman: he doesn’t really solve crime as much as he beats up on poor and mentally disturbed people. This is reflected when the criminals willingly lock themselves up and it is shown that he has no purpose in life and will go to selfish lengths to once again feel useful.
The voice cast is top notch here. Will Arnett reprises his role as Batman from The Lego Movie. We see different sides of him in this movie and see Arnett flex his voice acting skills. Michael Cera as Dick Grayson/Robin steals the show with his energetic and optimistic, with a hint of loneliness, performance. Ralph Fiennes does his thing as Alfred as well as Rosario Dawson as Barbara Gordon. Zach Galifianakis as The Joker brings a strange vulnerability to the character.
You don’t really come to a Lego movie for the animation since these are supposed to be toys. But there are highlights especially when things go absolutely crazy on screen. But there are great subtle animations here and there to perfectly convey emotions. Since this is a Lego movie, always keep one eye on the background as you can guarantee something will be going on.
As much as The Lego Batman Movie is a satirical poke at the ridiculous elements of Batman, it is also a celebration. From the most obscure villains to admitting that almost everything in the 80 years in Batman mythos is canon, more or less. This is arguably the best Batman movie since 2008’s The Dark Knight. The only thing that really that bugged me about the movie is all the rapping that Batman does throughout.
With all the recent news coming out about the DC Extended Universe, I’m no longer in “wait and see” mode. I’m now officially worried about this cinematic universe. I loved Man of Steel and more ambivalent towards Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and have grown to really dislike Suicide Squad. So I am more about where this universe is going. But The Flash movie has now lost two directors and getting a page one rewrite. Ben Affleck has left directorial duties on the upcoming Batman movie. Suicide Squad was such a mess because of the studio being reactionary about the reception of Batman v. Superman. The DCEU is a ship that is moving but there is no singular voice and thus it doesn’t know where it’s going.
I’ve already made my opinions about Ben Affleck stepping down as director known. The Flash losing another director and getting a page one rewrite raises some eyebrows. I can applaud the execs at Warner Bros. not rushing something as they tend to have been doing ever since the announcement of Batman v. Superman. But a complete rewrite of the script? Then there is the Shazam (aka Captain Marvel) splitting into two movies with Black Adam starring Dwaynr Johnson.
Warner Bros. is in the business to make money. Makes total sense. But their biggest problem is rushing to a billion. Man of Steel didn’t make a billion so let’s scrap a pure sequel and instead let’s introduce a new Batman, introduce Wonder Woman and lay the foundations for Justice League while also paying homage to The Dark Knight Returns and The Death of Superman. That’s a lot and probably the film’s biggest shortcoming.
It has been said time and time again that there needs to be a central figure in charge of these movies. Too many cooks in the kitchen is what’s making these discombobulated. Is there hope for the DCEU? Of course. These are some of the most beloved heroes and villains in superhero fiction. But there needs to be action done and quickly to help right thr ship.
So earlier this week it was announced that Ben Affleck would not be directing the solo Batman for the DC Extended Universe. It really was not that much of a surprise considering his recent flip flopping statements about the film. How the film might not be made if the script wasn’t good enough and then how he was definitely making the film. So it was all very cluttered and just flat out confusing. But when announcing that he would not be directing the film, it was said that he would be involved as a producer and presumably his script will be used. But there are various reasons why he probably did not direct.
- Directing and starring in a film is a daunting task. Many filmmakers can and have done it before to various results. But I haven’t seen a director star in a $150 million plus action film. That has to be rough.
- Clashing with the studio. All you have to look at is Affleck’s comments about the status of the film and there is something off there.
- Live by Night was a failure. Commercially unsuccessful and critically just meh. Another big budget movie starring Affleck. This may have shook his confidence.
- Personal issues. All you have to do is read a tabloid.
So is it a shame that Ben Affleck is not directing the solo Batman movie? Who’s to say? Presumably but these things are a crap shoot. All there is to do now is focus on getting a director that can bring a unique vision to the film and also gel well with Affleck. Fingers crossed.
2017 is upon us and that means it is time for more information about blockbusters to be revealed. Other than a set visit and certain images, not much has been revealed about the upcoming Justice League. We know the lineup, we know the villain and the basic plot. But with what is known, there are still a lot of questions especially concerning Superman himself.
We see in this image that the team is leaving some sort of ship and are staring into a field. Well where was Clark Kent/Superman buried? In a field. Is this a subtle way yet not actually showing the team going to see the body of the Man of Steel? We know that Superman isn’t dead per se but his role in the movie is being kept under wraps. This is similar to the Luke Skywalker situation in The Force Awakens.
Either way it is a nice image of the team before the one key member returns. Justice League will be released in November.