11 Random Pieces of Joel Schumacher

Joel Schumacher!

Excerpt from the Tigerland extras.

Once upon a time the phrase “director Joel Schumacher” was a handy punchline and/or an unpleasant flashback trigger in many geek circles. Y’know, after what happened with the one (1) film. Never mind that he amassed over three dozen other credits over the course of his career, quite a few of which were eminently watchable and in some cases even respectable. Granted, that most notorious failure derailed a beloved film franchise for several years, hobbled a zillion-dollar merchandising machine for about ten minutes, and was a ludicrous betrayal to those of us who were perhaps a bit too unyielding in our stoic allegiance to Super Serious Super-Heroes.

I let that go years ago. Sooner or later all punchlines gets tired upon incessant repetition, most grudges get pointless as time passes, and some axes don’t need any more grinding.

I was sorry to hear of Schumacher’s passing on June 15th at age 80 after a year-long battle with cancer. Cancer sucks. Much as I’d love to write a definitive summation of his career, that’s best left to professional websites who underpay collaborative teams to compile such listicles from their combined viewing experiences. The following is a personal recollection of my encounters with his works from my teenage years to two months ago. It’s not a long list, or a logically organized or comprehensive one, but it’s mine.

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“Joker”: The Day the Clown Cried and People Died

Joker!

Toys and statues now available on Etsy and eBay! For other versions, check your local comic shops, big-box stores, Barnes & Noble toy sections, or good ol’ Amazon! Buy Joker stuff wherever you shop, work or bank!

Every review of Todd Phillips’ controversial Joker that I’ve read so far — and I’ve read several, none of them by youngsters who love DC Comics unconditionally, but not all of them scathing — has name-checked Martin Scorsese’s The King of Comedy and Taxi Driver because, per their consensus, the homage is so derivative that it’s practically an attempted reboot of both, or possibly the conclusion to the trilogy they never were.

I haven’t watched Taxi Driver in over twenty years, and I’ve yet to see The King of Comedy, which wasn’t available on any of my streaming-service subscriptions as of a week before release. Aside from noting how hard I snickered at an obvious, neutered copycat of the famous “You talkin’ to me?” scene, that means I can’t simply spend 1500 words deriding its Scorsese allusions scene by scene, and will instead have to come up with my own words and thoughts, as opposed to typing a derivative homage to all those other reviews. IF it turns out like that anyway, don’t blame me. It’s everyone else’s fault but mine.

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Adam West 1928-2017

Adam West and Burt Ward!

That time two Dynamic Duos met at Awesome Con Indy 2014.

Saturday morning, Anne and I were at a major event waiting to meet TV’s Dean Cain when news broke that the Adam West had passed away at 88 from leukemia. At first we didn’t believe it. Whether we’re in a small town or a big city, whether we’re among fellow geeks or ordinary folks, that’s the kind of allegation we don’t accept at face value.

“To the phones!” I half-jokingly shouted as we both clicked to our most trusted sources for confirmation. Alas, it was true. The moment was depressing yet sublimely absurd — here we are in line for Superman only to have someone tell us Batman is dead.

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Lego. Batman. Movie. Three Products in One!

Lego Batman Movie!

Sneak preview of Lego Batman arriving on the red carpet at next year’s People’s Choice Awards.

(Na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na)
LEEEGOOO!
(Na na na na na na na na na na na na)
BAAATMAAAN!
(Na na na na na na na na na na na na)
MOOOVIEEE!
(Na na na na na na na na na na na na)
LEGO! BATMAN! MOVIE!
(Na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na)
LEGO! BATMAN! MOVIE!
Da-da-da-da-da-da-da-dada-da-da-da-da!
TOY AAAAAAAAD!

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Old Guy with a PS3: Year 2 Results

Bioshock Infinite!

Pushing the boundaries of dark science fiction gaming: the dramatic Parisian cheese-shopping scene from Bioshock Infinite‘s DLC finale, “Burial at Sea – Episode 2”. Mmmm, brie.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover, this time last year:

As a kid, I frequented video arcades regularly. As a parent, my son and I spent a good decade playing games together on his various systems. When he graduated and moved away to college, he took all his systems with him, leaving me with only my old Nintendo that won’t play cartridges unless you keep the Game Genie firmly inserted, and an Atari Plug-‘n’-Play Controller I got for Christmas a few years ago that interested me for about two weeks. On Black Friday 2014, I decided I wanted back in the 21st century gaming mode and picked up a used PS3.

Naturally I started off a generation behind the rest of the civilized world, but I didn’t care. After fifteen months without, holding a controller felt abnormal and rusty for the first few weeks. Once I got used to it again and figured out how to disable the “Digital Clear Motion Plus” feature on my TV, I could shake the dust off my trigger fingers, choose the games I wanted to play, sprint or meander through them at whatever pace I saw fit, and try some different universes beyond Final Fantasy and our other longtime mainstays. The following is a rundown of my first year’s worth of solo PS3 adventures…

So this was my 2016 in retro gaming, in two or three short sessions per week, in the order played and with my trophy percentages included to reinforce the fact that I’m neither a gaming wizard nor a helpless grandpa:

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Indiana Comic Con 2016 Photos #2: Batman v. Deadpool: Dawn of Cosplay

Batwoman!

Maybe Batwoman could take Deadpool alone, but if Wonder Woman wants to cameo, no one’s gonna tell her no.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: Friday and Saturday, my wife and I attended the third annual Indiana Comic Con at the Indiana Convention Center in scenic downtown Indianapolis. In Part One you saw every viable costume photo we took on Friday. We caught so many cosplayers in action today that the Saturday results will be split into two (maybe three) entries.

In tonight’s gallery: another batch of Deadpool variants, which we suspect will be a thing for years to come, and heroes and villains from the Batman family, which kept catching our eye more than usual this time around. Enjoy!

Right this way for more fun with Gotham’s most wanted and the Merc with a Mouth!

The One With “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” In It

Batman v. Superman!

Which grim-‘n’-gritty breakfast mascot’s product do you think should win: Batman Chocolate Strawberry cereal or Superman Caramel Crunch cereal? Both are real things now in stores, and they’re banking on this movie to sell them somehow.

Look, everyone else online had a turn venting about Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice the past few days, so I want my turn now. The TL;DR version:

* Not the worst Zack Snyder film ever
* Definitely not the worst super-hero film ever
* It had good things in it
* The good things were outnumbered
* I don’t actively root against DC’s films to fail, but I’m not gonna mollycoddle them with blind adulation, because superheroes are not my religion
* Filmmakers still don’t get Superman
* This movie is more about superpowers than about superheroes
* I’ve been collecting comics for 37 years and I’m 98% certain I’m not this film’s target audience
* If Monday night’s Supergirl/The Flash crossover was an Earth-1 team-up, BvS is its Earth-3 doppelgänger

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C2E2 2015 Photos, Part 5 of 9: More Comics Costumes

Guardian of the Universe!

A lot of folks think guarding a single galaxy is an impressive feat. Try being a Guardian of the Universe for a day.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: my wife and I went to C2E2 and took photos! Other chapters in the series:

Part 1: Costume Contest Winners
Part 2: The Rest of the Costume Contest
Part 3: Edge of Deadpoolverse
Part 4: Mighty Marvel Costumes
Part 6: Mystery Science Costume Theater 3000
Part 7: Last Call for Costumes
Part 8: Stars of Comics and Screens
Part 9: Random Acts of C2E2ing

Today’s feature: costumes from comics besides Marvel — their Distinguished Competition as well as a few other popular print sources.

Right this way for comics folks!

Awesome Con 2014 Photos, Part 1 of 3: Marvel and DC Costumes

Surf Joker!

Best Joker of the Year. Not just a fan creation, this getup was from a specific episode of the ’66 series that my wife remembers in detail. When the DVD boxed set comes out in November, her pain can be yours, too!

This weekend my wife and I attended the inaugural Awesome Con Indianapolis, the latest attempt to bring the geek convention life to our fair-sized city. The great and powerful Gen Con has had an established presence for years, but cons for other interests besides gaming have had mixed results. In March, the first Indiana Comic Con brought in actors from Game of Thrones and drew in a crowd of thousands that they were ill-equipped to handle, resulting in hundreds (at least) of angry citizens being locked out and turned away. At the end of May, the first Indy PopCon brought in a healthy mix of actors and comics creators, but attendance fell short of expectations. Awesome Con is our newest contestant, an expansion of a company whose previous efforts were in Washington, DC.

Like Indy PopCon, Awesome Con had no specific focus, mixing guests and dealers from the worlds of comics, gaming, TV, animation, and so on. We tried to keep our expectations modest after our previous experiences, but when the local news media kept boasting attendance expectations of 30,000+, particularly in light of the con’s numerous TV ads and interviews, we wondered if perhaps things would go differently this time.

More about that later. The important thing for now is, there were costumes! And photos of same!

Standard caveat for newcomers to MCC: This is something my wife and I enjoy doing, to show our appreciation and awe for those with the flair for this particular aspect of the scene. We apologize in advance for the costumes we missed, and for the non-professional results. Comments and especially corrections are always welcome and appreciated. She and I aren’t plugged directly into every single geek scene out there, so if you notice any wanton acts of mislabeling, please don’t hesitate to call me out. I enjoy learning about new worlds and universes, giving credit where it’s due, and dispelling my old man’s ignorance.

Right this way for round one!

MCC 2014 Pilot Binge #7: “Gotham”

Penguin!Sorry to join the party so late! Everyone else already watched the premiere of Gotham days ago on Fox and blogged, tweeted, Tumblr’d, or tin-can-on-a-stringed about it to all their circles, right? If everyone else is already over it, that means I can write whatever I want without fear of anyone reading it, right? Okay, cool. The way my week has gone, I’m considering using this space to update our grocery list and gauge its effect on site traffic.

For those who spent this week focusing on other things, or who don’t care about shows based on comics: Gotham tells the story of a young, stringy, ineffective toady named Oswald Cobblepot who spends his life groveling for a notorious crime lord and wishing people would stop bullying him. The ending has already been spoiled because fans of comics or old TV know Cobblepot will someday outgrow his ineptitude and mature into the formidable businessman known as the Penguin. Gotham, then, is his origin story, plus a half-dozen irrelevant subplots about far less interesting people.

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My Labor Day Weekend 2014 TV Marathon Report

Peter Dinklage!

Tyrion Lannister wishes you would go away.

I’m grateful every day to have a job that observes the largely superfluous privilege of Labor Day. I spent most of the weekend recovering from “con crud” and saving up energy and money for future chores and exploits. It was nice to have the time and excuse to make headway into my infinite viewing pile — with my wife’s blessing, no less. I’ll make a point of mowing the lawn some other week, just for her.

The weekend’s results, in no particular order:

* The Station Agent (Netflix): Before Game of Thrones, and slightly before his winning scene in Elf, Peter Dinklage starred in this 2003 indie, a low-key character piece about a railroad enthusiast who retreats to small-town New Jersey after his best friend dies and his model-train hobby shop is sold off. His attempts at hermitage are thwarted daily as life pushes other people into his path — a happy-go-lucky food-truck runner (Bobby Cannavale), a separated wife and grieving mother (Patricia Clarkson), a teen librarian with a secret (frequent Oscar nominee Michelle Williams), an unassuming young black girl, the backwater citizens who mock his stature, and Mad Men‘s John Slattery in a bit part as a disgruntled husband. Dinklage barely talks, letting his doleful gaze speak or deflect for him, but he slowly emerges from inner captivity as the tracks are laid for new connections to new friends, each overlooking the others’ outward differences and recognizing their inner wounds.

Right this way for the rest of the viewing schedule…

Wizard World Chicago 2014 Photos, Part 2: DC Comics Costumes!

Batman!

…BECAUSE I’M BATMAN!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

This weekend was that time again: our annual excursion to Rosemont, IL, for Wizard World Chicago. My wife and I took plenty of photos as usual, many of them usable. We’ll be sharing those over the next several entries, but I’m still too fatigued from the experience to figure out how many entries these will take.

Part two, then: the amazing world of DC Comics. Enjoy!

Right this way for heroes and villains from the Distinguished Competition…

MCC Request Line: Live-Tweeting “Batman & Robin”

Batman and Robin

That time when Batman, Robin, and Batgirl started wearing black…black like the studio executives’ hearts.

Fish in a barrel? Sure. But sometimes it’s nice to relax for one evening with some frivolous writing that breaks no new ground, fails to expand the creative boundaries of the internet, but relieves the typical tensions that dogpile on you in adulthood.

Wednesdays are one-man movie nights for me, a chance to spend time watching whatever while my wife busies herself with her own pursuits. This week I decided on an unusual direction. Anyone who follows me on Twitter (@RandallGolden) was given a short window of opportunity to stage an intervention:

Batman and Robin has been on my shelf for months. It was part of a four-pack, and geek completism forbade me from giving it to Goodwill and leaving the set 25% incomplete. I haven’t relived it in its entirety since the original, degrading theatrical experience. My plan was merely to see if I could watch it a second time without suffering a breakdown. Then a longtime friend asked me to live-tweet it, and a different kind of survival game was afoot.

Special thanks goes to the instigator, Nanci over at Tosche Station, a highly commendable site for anyone who’s a fan of Star Wars in general and the SW Expanded Universe in particular, and they’re your new best friends if you think JJ Abrams’ Star Wars Episode VII should star Mara Jade as the main character. (For the record, I would not oppose this.)

And then it began. Right this way…

“The LEGO Movie”: If You Build It…You’re Awesome!

Batman, The Lego Movie

Arguably the best Batman film since The Dark Knight.

Because sometimes you need a break from Oscar season.

I had sky-high expectations for The Lego Movie as a veteran player of their first several video games — both Lego Star Wars, both Lego Indiana Jones, both of Lego Harry Potter, the first Lego Batman, Lego Pirates of the Caribbean, and the most epic of them all, Lego Lord of the Rings. They’re inventive, unpredictable, witty beyond all expectations with a keen self-awareness that frequently lampoons the very intellectual properties they paid good money to license. And those were just the cutscenes.

Walk this way for a few more blocks…

Ben Affleck IS Batman IN “Batman Presents Man of Steel 2”

Ben Affleck, Batman

Who wants a copy of my audition reel? Show of hands? (photo credit: GabboT via photopin cc)

It is written! Hollywood Reporter and other official sources have confirmed the Bat-hunt is over: Academy Award Winner Ben Affleck will be following in the footsteps of Christian Bale as the new Batman in the still-untitled DC film, allegedly a Man of Steel sequel even though Batman has more box-office clout, sells more comics, and inspires funnier memes.

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“Batman ’66”: My New Favorite DC Comic

Jeff Parker, Jonathan Case, Batman '66, DC Comics

When I was a kid, Adam West and Burt Ward were the first super-heroes I remember following on TV. Less wooden than the Super-Friends, beset by better villains than Marvel’s 1970s live-action TV offerings, and a few years ahead of Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, syndicated reruns of the 1966-1968 Batman TV show were a staple of my afternoon viewing.

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“Superman/Batman” vs. “Batman/Superman”: Can This Odd Couple Be Saved?

Batman, Superman

They’ve worked well together before, but never in live-action. Can two super-heroes share a tentpole film without driving each other crazy?

Despite my previously expressed skepticism, I wouldn’t say the announced Superman sequel with Batman in it — or vice versa — is guaranteed to fail. I’m sure much deliberation and debate will occur behind the scenes as the filmmakers work together for the common goal of creating the best possible superhero moneymaking machine. If it’s bearable to watch more than once, then hey, bonus points.

What could possibly happen? I can imagine several outcomes, not all of them great.

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San Diego Comic Con 2013: the Best and Least-Best News as Seen from the Cheap Seats

Godzilla movie teaser poster, America, 2014Anyone who followed the entertainment news as it flooded out of 2013’s San Diego Comic Con found themselves shocked and surprised by two or more bombshells dropped from above, as the movie and comic book companies kept trying to top each other with the Greatest Announcement of All.

My general impressions follow of what stood out to me most, whether good, bad, or both.

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C2E2 2013 Photos, Part 2 of 6: Costumes from Screens Big and Small

Continuing our coverage of C2E2 costumes and other notable sights. Disclaimers are same as before. Corrections are welcome.

Many of this year’s superhuman costumes were based on their filmic counterparts rather than the print versions. I wasn’t surprised to see Bane number among this year’s popular choices. If nothing else, the Dark Knight Rises version is warmer and less revealing than his original luchador ensemble.

Bane, Dark Knight Rises, C2E2

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Another Major Super-Hero Death Now on Sale for Readers Who Buy Three Comics Per Decade

Batman Inc. 8, Grant Morrison, Chris BurnhamMuch as churches have constituents who only attend twice yearly on Easter and Christmas, thus do comic books have buyers only seen in stores whenever mainstream media headlines alert all of Earth to the death of a major character. Such casual super-hero fans are doubtlessly well aware of this week’s main event, courtesy of DC Comics and Batman Inc. #8.

If you’re somehow not aware of the heavily publicized ending and were hoping to read it for yourself this weekend or during spring break, you may wish to stop reading now, and possibly unplug your Internet this instant. You’ll also need to see if someone can sell you a coverless copy of the issue, because the cover broadcasts the ending with no attempt at subtlety or surprise. I trust this is sufficient spoiler alert for the two comic-collecting hermits out there unaware of the character’s fate in question. Now’s your chance to flee and save yourselves.

Onward, then:

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