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Liar, Liar


From an early age, we are taught that lying is wrong.  That we should be truthful and honest, even if it makes us look bad.  But we also learn quickly that lying will sometimes get us out of trouble, or prevent some sort of punishment.  At least for a little while.  Saying “it wasn’t me” means that there’s a chance that the authority figure doesn’t yell at us, make us feel shame.

But we continue to have this false logic that lying is bad, that it’s wrong.

I’m not saying lying is good, far from it.  But lying has taken on a very odd face.

At one time in the United States, there was a broadcasting law which ensured that news programs could not lie.  They could not falsely report something without some repercussion.  That law was repealed.  The idea was that surely news outlets are made up of honest, trust worthy folks who would never try to deceive the public.  That statement itself is a lie.

We’ve got such a law in Canada, and the present government has toyed with removing it from the books.  Because, news agencies are made up of honest folks.

But let’s face facts.  News agencies are not made up of honest folks.  They’re made up of liars who only care about ratings, or in the cases of right wing media, advancing a political view by spreading bold face lies and half truths.  They aren’t being honest at all.

The biggest culprit is Fox News (for the record, Sun Media in Canada is the biggest sort of culprit, at least if they could get away with it).  The recent Ferguson protests are an example, where it was reported that the officer who shot and killed Michael Brown was said to have received an injury during a struggle with Brown.  Fox and several other right wing news outlets posted an image of an MRI that showed the injury.  Which later turned out to be a bold faced lie.  The scan, as it turns out, was from 2008.  And not even from a hospital near Ferguson.  But the date and location were removed from the scan in photoshop.

I’m sure that Fox News will say, should they be confronted with this information and its proven, that they were victims of a hoax.  That they were put on by liars and they will vow to never use that source again.  Except, even then they’d be lying.  They lie so much that they can’t even decipher a lie from the truth.  They’ve told so many lies, they believe the lies, and even the lies about the lies.  They don’t have an honest bone in their bodies.

So who holds them responsible for lying?  Will they tell the truth even if it makes them look bad (and with their track record, it’s incredibly bad)?  Will they face shame and guilt in order to make reparations and beg forgiveness for the lies they’ve told?

The answer to that one is easy.  They won’t.  Because they are too invested in continuing the lie.

 
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Posted by on August 28, 2014 in Life, randomness

 

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Sometimes you just feel like giving up


The past three weeks have been difficult.  Not for me personally, but for an aspect of progression in the world where we attempt to have a civil discourse regarding everything from race to gender to religion to science.

Last week, and the week before, Ferguson, Missouri became akin to a war zone that you see in some foreign country.  Some wind swept place in a distant land with names that you can’t pronounce but over time they become common place because they’re on the new cycle 24/7.  Ferguson became that, and so did Michael Brown and the scores of other unarmed, black youth who were executed by police.

And the right wing news extremists have been doing their level best attempting to lie and defraud and twist the truth to make it look like Michael Brown was a thug, and not a victim.  Let’s be clear, whether or not Michael Brown was involved in a robbery (which he wasn’t) or whether or not Michael Brown was engaged in a struggle for a police officer’s gun (which he wasn’t), he did not deserve to be shot.  He was killed with a shot through his skull, an executioners tactic, no more, and no less.

Michael Brown isn’t alone.

Yet, the right wing news extremists would have us pay more attention to the black on black crime, saying that’s far more problematic.  Anything involving a death, a murder, is a problem.  A youth being shot and killed by a police officer is no less worthy of attention and scrutiny than one black youth killing another.  It’s actually very much worse, because the police are supposed to be above that.

By the end of last week, Ferguson Police were dressed better and more protected than many of the military personnel who were sent to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan.  And then there’s the obvious racists who are supporting a fund to help the poor officer who shot and killed Brown.  Let’s set the record straight.  That “poor officer” committed a murder.  A movie style gangland murder, no less.

And as that conversation continues, as that action still happens across the States, and as we Canadians watch through the walls of the glass house on the outside looking in, there was something else equally troubling.

Death threats drive Anita Sarkeesian from her home

If you aren’t familiar with Anita Sarkeesian, then you should be.  She makes excellent comments on social situations faced in video games, movies and even television and books.  Anita focuses on women and their treatment in video games, and has sometimes shifted the focus onto women of colour.  She runs a blog and has a video series at Feminist Frequency, and currently has a mini series called Tropes versus Women in Video Games.

Sarkeesian has received a huge amount of hate from a large portion of the (male) video game audience.  This hate has even gone to rape and death threats.  Which only goes to prove Sarkeesian correct.  Now, she’s been threatened so badly, that she’s had to retreat from the world and hide.  Her address and the address of her family was posted in a very public place, with continued threats of rape, death, arson of her home and her family’s home, and other rather disturbing things.

It would be something if this was an isolated incident, but it’s not.  Women who work in the video game industry face this kind of thing every day.  Women began making huge strides in the industry, only to quit after facing a wall of threats and death from the male gamers.  Many of these women are writers of games like Mass Effect or Bio Shock.  They wrote games which aren’t some small time indie game.  They were working the Triple A circuit.

Even the women journalists who report on gaming face it.  Elizabeth Sampat wrote about this just yesterday in her Truth About Zoe Quinn article.  Journalists and game devs and game writers and game artists who happen to be women face the largest portion of harassment in the industry.  And yes, men do face some.  Critics like Jim Sterling of the Escapist Magazine’s Jimquisition gets it all the time.  But even he’s admitted to never receiving threats of death or rape.  A lot of times women receive this not because they critiqued a game, but just because they happen to be women.

At one time, rape was considered the lowest of the low for a person to commit.  That there was a special place in hell reserved for those who committed or thought about acts of rape or child molestation.  But now, it seems like the go to defense for (male) gamers or anyone in the industry that is in the area of the “geek” whenever a women says something that rails against “what has come before”.

Ferguson, Missouri

Anita Sarkeesian

Sometimes I just feel like giving up, that anything that I’ve tried supporting that would make improvements for the world that we live in just isn’t worth it anymore.  But I can’t (even in the minimal way that I do just by writing a column only from my point of view).  If I did that, there might be someone out there who I might let down.  Then it’s like a house of cards.  We need each other in times like these.  And there was a hundred other news stories that took place which I could focus on.  And we need to.  The slaughter in Palestine.  The events in Syria.  The horribly oppressive anti-gay legislation that many countries are pushing through their systems.  Sometimes it’s hard, and sometimes you do feel like giving up because there is so much that’s happening in the world which is trying to throw things back into some repressive regime.  Where rights and freedoms are permanently stripped from anyone who isn’t a member of the 1%, or even those who might be in the bracket underneath them.

We don’t have to do it all, we can pick our battles.  We just have to ensure that we do so in an intelligent and meaningful way.  We don’t have to be superheroes.  Sometimes we just need to be willing to understand the situation and assist in any way that we can.  And keep in mind that while you or someone you know may be fighting to raise awareness against one problem, there’s someone else fighting against another.

We can’t give up.

 
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Posted by on August 28, 2014 in Life, randomness

 

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Are comic books homophobic/transphobic? | Turn the Page


Are comic books homophobic/transphobic? | Turn the Page.

I got some further information today from tumblr user ealperin regarding another transgender person.  Click this link and read about Masquerade, a Milestone comics character created by Dwayne McDuffy.

Masquerade

Also, go back and read the full article.  If there`s any character you can think of who is a transgender person that has appeared in the past, hit me up with a message.

 
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Posted by on August 24, 2014 in Fun, Life, randomness

 

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Are comic books homophobic/transphobic?


That’s a pretty wild stab, I know.  To ask that question, you may as well ask, are comics a little racist as well.  And why don’t we lump all of that together.

Now, let me be clear on this.  Comic book writers and artists themselves are not necessarily homophobic/transphobic/racist/sexist (though, in that last one, there’s been some questionable things that artists have done with female characters, example the latest Spider-woman cover).

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The cover is reminiscent of a Catwoman cover that was all boobs and butt.  Also, see Mary Jane’s famous pose that was imitated (with hilarious results).  Needless to say, comic book artists and editors have a lot of work still ahead of them in not pulling the sexist card.  A reminder, a pose that appears sexy doesn’t necessarily mean powerful and empowering.  If you think to yourself “yeah, this pose is gonna be hot” then there’s a good chance that you shouldn’t do it.

Regarding the other aspects of phobias and racism, comics also still have a long way to go.  There has been same sex marriages in Marvel Comics, but DC Comics is lagging behind.  Image Comics seems to be further ahead in this regard.  DC almost had one, but thanks to editorial, superheroes obviously can’t have happy lives (unless they’re Superman and they’re boning Wonder Woman… gah, that’s so stupid).

Case in point, fans of Batwoman have been waiting for Maggie and Kate to get married, but the idea of that happening was tossed out the window thanks to editorial.

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There is an explanation for the lack of same sex marriages in books, and comics.  Many publishers will make sure the content of the book is a good push for world wide publication.  And often times, thanks to certain countries laws (I’m looking at you, Russia) same sex marriage is illegal and any publication, whether it’s factual or fictional, that seems to shed a positive light on gay and lesbian relationships, is seen as propaganda.

For books, like the Harry Potter series, that can be a problem.  It was never revealed openly in the books that Dumbldore was gay, but it was something that J. K. Rowling knew was a part of the character.  Still, writing it into the book may have had it banned outright in certain countries and even jurisdictions in Canada and the United States (possibly not Canada, but you never know).  It would have given homophobic bigots something else to complain about instead of magic.

For comic books, it might be a little different.  Comics don’t have the sales push that a best selling novel would have.  Comic book companies aren’t worried about breaking ground in a nation (or continent) that they don’t have a chance of selling a book in.  So they often don’t have to worry about countries and their laws about same sex marriage or same sex relationships.  If you sell 50,000 copies of an issue in it’s first two months of release, then you did good.  And between Canada and the United States, there’s way more than 50,000 comic book readers out there.

Still, comics aren’t doing that well with showcasing a transgender person in their pages.  Gail Simone, former writer of Batgirl and current scribe for Tomb Raider and Red Sonya, did give us a trans-woman in the pages of Batgirl.  And from what’s been said, that character will stay in those pages under a new creative team.

Alysia

I’ve read through a list of other transgender characters who have appeared over the years, but as far as I can tell, Alysia Yeoh is the only one I can find that doesn’t have a magical transformation, is reincarnated as a man/woman, or is taking a fictitious drug to help her remain a woman (though Shvaughn Erin from the 1970s Legion of Superheroes run can count as she is the one taking the fictitious drug, also honourable mention to Comet during Peter David’s run on Supergirl).  Sadly, none of these characters mentioned are the title character.  There was only one I could find, Lord Fanny from the Invisibles, who was born male but becomes female in order to gain inheritance to her family’s witch abilities.  That, however, was a Vertigo comic, and Vertigo had a lot more risk taking to it.

So, as of yet, there is no comic which has a main character or title character, currently running who happens to be a trans-woman or trans-man.  At least not that I know of (if you know of one, let me know in the comments, or reblog this and add to it, or just hit me up with a message).

Now, onto the last one.  Comics really aren’t racist.  Or are they.  Comic titles will come out with people of colour, but often the title dies out quickly.  When that happens, a lot of fanboys will cry out that there’s no market for PoC in comics (or women, if the title is one for a woman).  Never, however, do they say anything of the sort if a title staring a straight, white, male fails.  In that case it was due to poor writing, poor artwork, lack of availability at comic shops.  And all of those can be true.  They’re also true for titles staring women, and titles staring PoC that end up being cut well before their time.  (I’ll do another write up on that double standard later)

But there’s also another reason why.  Sadly, comics have an advertising budget, and they’ll lump a vast majority of their advertising dollars in their sure things.  For DC, that’s Superman, Batman, Justice League, Green Lantern and Wonder Woman.  For Marvel, that’s any X-Title or any Avengers tie in title (Captain America, Iron Man, Thor) or Spider-man titles.  Now, you just can’t have a company say “We’re doing a Batman title, you should buy it” and expect it to become a hit.  Consumers need a reason to buy said thing.  Of course, most consumers will be interested it someone says there’s a new Batman title.  But if DC pushes for a Black Lightning title, for example, they’d have to back it up with some advertising if they want it to sell.  Marvel, on the other hand, really seems to be pouring their advertising budget into their new titles, such as recent ad campaigns with Miss Marvel.  Marvel’s been taking a lot of risks and it shows that it’s paying off.

It’s also true that we, the consumer, also have to help support new titles.  That can be difficult, thanks in part to an old stigma about comic book shops.  Many comic book shops are changing and being more open and welcome to all genders and people of colour, but there’s still the stigma about how uninviting they can be.  And there are shops that are like that, who scoff at women, don’t understand why a person of colour would be buying a comic, or being outright rude to someone who they may feel isn’t a comic’s demographic.

The onus of change isn’t on the consumer.  It’s at both the retail level, and at the publishing level.  Make it more accessible and inviting to go into a comic shop.  And as far as publishers go, try to make your creative teams have more diversity.  More women and more people of colour working on your titles.  You are not losing out by doing this, you are in fact bringing new ideas along with new talent.

I will admit, comic publishers have taken some massive steps regarding inclusion for LGBT, and people of colour, but they’ve still got a long way to go.

 
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Posted by on August 23, 2014 in Fun, Life, randomness

 

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A Marvel movie that should be made


Marvel Studios (as previously mentioned) is on a massive role with their movie properties.  They’ve hammered out several movies, all within the same universe, all leading up to one massive story line.  Why not get ready for a new set of heroes to come to the forefront.

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Captain Marvel and Spider-woman.

You could even go so far as to just call the movie Captain Marvel, and have Spider-woman as the added hero as seems to be the trend in the Marvel movie franchise.  So far it’s been a series of dudes as side kicks or appearances in the main movies (War Machine, Hawkeye, Bucky, Falcon), with even minor characters who play a very important role not even taking the center stage in the title.  I mean, do you think we’re ever going to have a Nick Fury movie?

But Captain Marvel could set the stage for something new and different.  Adding to the already new and different Ant-Man & Wasp I suggested earlier.  This could be the Marvel movie that turns things on it’s head.  In the comics, Captain Marvel becomes leader of the Avengers, so it’s a natural stepping point.  Spider-woman could even be an agent of Hydra that Carol manages to convince to quit and join her in destroying a Hydra cell.  Carol could even be a fighter pilot (as she’s depicted in the comics), could have gotten her powers at some point through the attack on New York in Avengers.  Carol could see potential in Jessica Drew and instead of fighting to put Spider-woman behind bars, fights to free her from Hydra.  All of this would fit neatly into the existing Marvel Studios movie series.  It would also set it up nicely for a new cast of Avengers (Chris Evans has mentioned he doesn’t want to act for much longer).

Just think of it; a New Avengers team with Black Widow, Captain Marvel, Spider-woman, the aforementioned Wasp, and….

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She-Hulk was created not to be the porn version of the Hulk (as Stan Lee himself pointed out by smashing David Goyer’s statement).  She was Bruce Banner’s cousin, and received her powers from an emergency blood transfusion from Banner.  So far, so good.  Jennifer Walters also remains in her green skinned, kick ass self ALL THE TIME!  The difference between the Hulk and She-Hulk is that Bruce is scared about his ability and it’s destructive nature, whereas She-Hulk finds it empowering.  She loves it and accepts it.  It also helps that she retains her mental capabilities while in She-Hulk form.  So yes, she can revert back to her normal looking Jennifer Walters look.  BUT SHE DOESN’T WANT TO!

This would be a good premise for a second (third) Hulk movie.  Jennifer could be the secondary hero, who eventually joins the ranks of the Avengers, using her cousin as a role model in a way (and Jennifer could conversely be a role model for Bruce, as she’s able to coexist with the big green rage monster within her).

So there you go, Marvel.  Two movie ideas to swing into a third Avengers movie.  Now go do it.

 
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Posted by on August 22, 2014 in Fun, randomness

 

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How Marvel Studios can an Ant-Man movie better


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We all know that the juggernaut that is Marvel Studios is releasing an Ant-Man film.  Who’s Ant-Man?  Well…

Ant-Man is the name of several fictional characters appearing in books published by Marvel Comics. Ant-Man was originally the superhero persona of Henry Pym, a brilliant scientist who invented a substance that allowed him to change his size. Henry Pym was created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber and Jack Kirby and first appeared in Tales to Astonish #27 (Jan. 1962); his first appearance as Ant-Man was in Tales to Astonish #35 (Sept. 1962).

After Pym retired his Ant-Man identity, successors Scott Lang and Eric O’Grady have used Pym’s technology to take on the role of Ant-Man.

The film is slated to have Michael Douglas as Henry Pym with Paul Rudd playing the role of Scott Lang.  Already even before it gets out the gate, Ant-Man has had some problems.  Edgar Wright wrote the script along with Joe Cornish and was slated to direct but left in May of this year siting creative differences.

There was a way to save the film, though I don’t know if that could be done now.  The first is merely with the title.  Ant-Man is pretty meh.  He’s a scientist who can shrink to the size of an ant.

Now, in the comics, Ant-Man, or Hank Pym, is married.  He’s got a girlfriend.  Janet Van Dyne.  This can eliminate all of the romance aspects that Hollywood seems to like to inject into films.  Hank and Janet are dating (or hell, even have them married).  For those who don’t know, Janet Van Dyne is a superhero who is called the Wasp.  Wasp is much more fierce sounding than “ant” (because, let’s face it, wasps are vindictive assholes).  I know, in the comics Janet Van Dyne was killed (there was some comic where it showed a cannibalistic Blob eating her intestines, which was horrible and not really needed) but here’s where you can shelve all of that bullshit and set things right.

Call the movie Ant-Man & Wasp, because how many Marvel movies have a female character in the title?  I’ll wait.  You can list them off.  And I’m talking the current Marvel franchise of movies.  You can’t, can you.  None.  There is not one.  And Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy don’t count.

Okay, so we’ve set up a duo instead of a singular individual (Iron Man, Captain America, Thor), and while the previous movies did have other heroes in the plot (War Machine, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Falcon) none of those characters shared title time with the main character (it was Captain America: Winter Soldier, not Captain America & Falcon: Winter Soldier, after all).  This could be a small, positive change, and it would be a progressive step.  Plus, married couple!  That’s different thus far.

Oh, but there’s more differences!

Make them a black couple!

Comics continuity be damned!  Nick Fury was made black, so why not make Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne black, too.  And for the record, a black woman could totally have a Dutch last name.  It’s called fucking marriage!  Her parents could very well have been mixed.  Or her grand parents.  Use your fucking imagination!  You could even take it a step further and have a Latina actress play the role.  And even mention that she’s Latina!  But don’t carry over the stereotypical baggage!  A black, Latina-Dutch woman.  It’s fucking possible!

“Oh, but there’s just not enough black actors to play the role.”

Shut up whiney fanboys.  First, take a step into the 21st Century, you useless douchenozzles!  There is literally over 1000 black actors in Hollywood.  And thousands more world wide.  And they are not all named Will Smith or Denzel Washington!  We’ve had black actors portrayed thus far in the Marvel movie franchises, War Machine, Falcon, Nick Fury, but they’ve all been the secondary characters to the lives of the main character.  And hold the phone!  What’s this?  Not a single female character has been portrayed as a woman of colour!  And I’m not counting Zoe Saldana because she’s portrayed as a green skinned alien.

There has been a lot of kick ass female characters that have come up in the Marvel movie universe.  Peggy Carter, Pepper Potts, Jane Foster, Black Widow, Maria Hill, Lady Siff, and a few others (that I can’t name at the moment).  Add Janet Van Dyne to that list, and make her a woman of colour.  We’re already looking at the next Avengers movie adding Scarlet Witch to the fold, so that’s another woman.  And there’s two more dudes (well, okay one dude and a robot).

Why not take this step, Marvel?  Why not do this?  Be bold!  Be different!  Right now, you are at a place where you can do no wrong.  Yeah, you had a throng of sniveling fanboys bitching about Idris Elba as Heimdahl, but you gave them the (figurative) middle finger and stayed the course.  Do this with Ant-Man, and you could have something amazing, just by taking a big risk.  A big risk in a positive direction.

 
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Posted by on August 22, 2014 in Fun, randomness

 

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The Batman movie series that could have been


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In 1989 the world saw one of the first comic book movies to hit screens that sort of changed the world of comic books (and movies).  Sure, we had Superman, and that was awesome, but Tim Burton’s Batman was a huge leap forward.  At the time, DC Comics could do no wrong (as opposed to now, which it seems to do wrong on a consistent basis) and they were backed by Warner Bros.  They still are, but they still seem to have absolutely no grasp of their own characters.

Batman came out in 1989 to really good reviews and acceptance.  It appeared that comic books might translate very well into movies and for many fanboys, their medium would gain main stream acceptance (double edged sword because those same fanboys would later bitch and moan that “fake fans”, ie; “fake geek girls”, would “steal their stuff”).

But this isn’t about fanboy cry babies (another post for another time).  This is about the Tim Burton Batman franchise that could have been.

Don’t change the first one, Batman and Joker was well done.  I’d change Batman Returns.  Ditch the Penguin, focus everything on Batman and Catwoman.  But set things up so that Batman and Catwoman would end up having a relationship (this set up comes in the third movie).  It’ll be a cat and mouse (flying mouse) chase with Catwoman always be one step ahead of Batman.  In the end, Catwoman eventually lets Batman catch her, but she reminds him always that she let him catch her.

Set up the third movie.  Batman and Catwoman go up against the Riddler.  Ditch the Tommy Lee Jones Two-Face.  Keep Billy Dee Williams as Harvey Dent, but the Two Face set up comes later.  Keep Jim Carey as the Riddler (he was actually really good in that role).  By the end of the third movie, Batman and Catwoman get married.

Fourth movie, time has moved on.  Bruce and Selina have a daughter.  They manage to juggle being superheroes and raising their daughter Helena.  But now they have to deal with a villain who has learned their secret and kidnaps Helena.  The Penguin.  The Penguin learns their identities from someone who he was a cellmate with in Arkham.  Edward Nigma.  Lots of chase scenes, lots of fights, eventually Helena is rescued, Penguin is put behind bars.  Something tragic happens at the end, in order to set up the fifth movie.  The movie ends with Harvey Dent flipping a coin in a court room.  End credits.

A few years pass, Helena has grown to a teenager, and with some reluctance, Bruce and Selina agree that Helena can join them in their nightly rounds of Gotham.  Helena takes the moniker of Robin.  But now, they have to go up against a new villain who also was an old friend; Harvey Dent.  Two Face has decided to put all of Gotham on trail, with only a flip of the coin to determine the city’s fate.  In the ensuing fight, Batman and Catwoman rescue an orphaned boy, and by the end of the movie, they take him in.  His name is Dick Grayson.  Helena will also play a huge role showcasing her smarts and her skills with what she’s learned by watching her parents.  Robin makes a name for herself.

Dick Grayson in the sixth movie learns of the secret of Bruce and Selina, and even trains to assist the superhero family.  Avoid any romance between Dick and Helena.  They’d see themselves as siblings, not lovers.  Dick takes on the moniker of Nightwing to help out the other three.  This time, though, they face Mr. Freeze.  Use the tragic backstory of Mr. Freeze, and make him somewhat sympathetic.  At the end of the movie, make it known that Freeze was just as much a victim as anything.

That’s six movies, using one villain per movie (save for the second because there’s no real villain, it could be almost classes as a romance adventure).  Keep Tim Burton on the helm, introduce a Robin and a Nightwing.  Make it a step forward for progressiveness by making Robin a girl.

 
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Posted by on August 21, 2014 in Fun, randomness

 

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