Tag Archives: Batman

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

After work tomorrow I’ll be nestling into a cushioned seat for almost three hours to watch Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

Like all nerds, I’ve been waiting a long time to see these two titans of comic-dom appear together on the big screen in live-action. It’s been an excruciating week, as I’ve tried to remain spoiler-free, but I only have one more day to go! If you can’t get out there to see it this weekend or if you don’t like a numb butt, the Library has plenty of Batman and Superman materials for your enjoyment.

Check out the rest of Zack Snyder’s filmography:
Whether you think he’s a visionary or a slightly-less awful version of Michael Bay, we’ve got all of Zack Snyder’s past films, most of them on glorious Blu-ray. While some of his films have been hit or miss for me (I agree with pretty much everything YouTube user Bored Girlfriend said in her review of 300), there’s no denying that Snyder has an eye for great visuals. Even his first film, Dawn of the Dead, had the bones of his signature stylish flair, and although I’m not as big a fan or Superman as I am of Batman, I didn’t hate Man of Steel as vehemently as some—the Smallville fight is great. After Batman v Superman, Snyder has the two-part Justice League lined up and maybe a remake of The Fountainhead. Seriously.

Check out the other films of the actors portraying these characters:
For a man who waxes philosophically about animal crackers and is the brother of SNL’s Stefon, I can understand why the Internet lost its collective mind when Ben Affleck was cast as Batman. But watching Gone Girl soon after the announcement I realized that, besides having incredible biceps, maybe Affleck was a good actor. As far as Superman, Henry Cavil has only been in about a third as many films as Batfleck, but the Library has most of them. He’s especially charming in last year’s The Man from U.N.C.L.E.  Also appearing in Batman v Superman is Wonder Woman, making her big screen debut. Warner Bros. cast the relative unknown Gal Gadot, most known for the increasingly confusingly titled Fast & Furious franchise

Check out the past iterations of Batman and Superman on film:
With Man of Steel and this film, WB is launching the DC Extended Universe, not unlike the gargantuan Marvel Cinematic Universe. While Richard Donner’s Superman films or Christopher Nolan’s Batman films have no ties to the new DCEU, it’s still interesting to go back and look at the cinematic history of these two iconic characters, like when they appeared together in animation in The Batman Superman Movie: World’s Finest. Many of the comic stories have been adapted into standalone animated movies, too. And speaking of comics …

Check out the comics and graphic novels:
Remember comics, the source material for all these superhero movies? We’ve got them in print as well as on Hoopla. While Batman and Superman first met on a cruise ship in 1952 (for real), pay special attention to Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns as Snyder has said he’s drawing inspiration from it for his version of Batman. I realize I’m in the minority, but I never really cared for TDKR. I know, heresy! I have, however, always liked the idea of a grizzled, veteran Batman, so I’m looking forward to seeing that interpreted on screen. Regardless of how you feel about Miller’s involvement with the Caped Crusader—from his Batman: Year One to the meme-birthing All-Star Batman and Robin—there’s no denying the impact TDKR had on modern Batman. It’s not out of the question to speculate that without Frank Miller paving the way for a darker Batman in the ’80s, we’d have never gotten Burton’s Batman.

Check out some supplemental materials:
Did you know a huge inspiration of Superman was the John Carter of Mars stories by Edgar Rice Burroughs? Did you know that Batman was inspired by the 1920 film The Mark of Zorro and characters like Sherlock Holmes and Dick Tracy? The Library has materials on all those subjects and more. Want to find out the secret history of Wonder Woman or what Batman’s and Superman’s views on philosophy are? Have you ever wanted to visit Metropolis (Illinois) and check out the Supermuseum? We’ve got you covered.

You could also keep watching the second trailer for Suicide Squad, the next entry in the DCEU, based on the series of the same name. It premiers August 5.

Did I leave anything out? Are you excited about the film? Let me know in the comments below!


1 Comment

Filed under Movie, Uncategorized

Snips and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails

A while ago an article appeared on my Facebook feed that was called 11 Things Only Parents of Boys Understand. This type of article drives me crazy; I never agree with the things on the list and usually find that you could cut out the “boys” part and just call the list “Things That Parents of Children Understand.” But a couple of things on this particular list did jump out at me, in particular the point about how a son will form a definite preference about Marvel vs. DC Comics superheroes (I have no idea how my son, who certainly hasn’t gotten this information from his parents, decided he loves DC Comics and doesn’t care much for Marvel!) In some ways, having a son is such a mystery, and not just in how he forms such strong opinions on superheroes. A few books I’ve turned to are:

Masterminds and Wingmen: Helping Our Boys Cope with Schoolyard Power, Locker-Room Tests, Girlfriends, and the New Rules of Boy World: In this book Rosalind Wiseman, the author of Queen Bees and Wannabes (the basis for the movie Mean Girls) turns to boys. After interviewing 200 boys, Wiseman breaks down the various social challenges teenage boys face.

The Boy Who Loved Batman: A Memoir: The author of this book, Michael E. Uslan, grew up to produce all the Batman feature films. Before that though, he was a kid growing up in 1950’s New Jersey who just really, really liked Batman. As someone who didn’t find comics until I was an adult, and not really the superhero ones, this book is a fascinating look at someone who grew up on superhero comics.

Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys: As a society, we’re no longer as entrenched in the belief that boys are somehow less emotional creatures than girls, but ideas of masculinity and femininity still influence how we expect boys or girls to react emotionally. This book addresses the stereotypical masculine “ideal” and looks at ways parents can provide their sons with “emotional literacy.”

It’s a Boy! Understanding Your Son’s Development From Birth to Age 18: This is a pretty basic book on child development, but focused solely on boys.

The Secret History of Wonder Woman: Wonder Woman has always been my favorite superhero, and fortunately my son loves her too (not quite as much as Batman, but she’s a close second!). This book explores the recently discovered papers of William Moulton Marsten, the creator of Wonder Woman (and the lie detector test!). Feminism, biography, superheroes…this book has it all!


1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Hollywood of the East: A Top Ten List of Pittsburgh-filmed Movies

With Josh Boone’s adaptation of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars opening in theaters across the country today, the long history that Pittsburgh has with film continues to grow. In case you didn’t know, the movie was filmed around here last year in places like Oakmont, Bellevue and a soundstage in the Strip, just to name a few spots. Sadly, this isn’t a review of that film. I guess I’m not a prolific enough reviewer yet for theaters around here to give me advanced screening tickets and whatnot.

Anyway, I’ve previously mentioned Pittsburgh’s history with film and how much I love seeing our city on film. It seems like every week a new project is green lit for Pittsburgh and I couldn’t be more excited about all of it. The city is becoming so well known for its films that bus tours of filming locations throughout the city started on May 31.

And with good reason. Seriously, our city is beautiful.


All the talk of tours, Foxcatcher gaining early Oscar buzz and great reviews at Cannes and Aaron Paul and Amanda Seyfried chilling at Jack’s on the South Side got me thinking about all the Pittsburgh-filmed movies I’ve seen. So if you didn’t get any advanced screening tickets like me or can’t get out to the theater this weekend to see the latest addition to Pittsburgh’s filmography, maybe you can check out one of the following.

This is my list of the top ten films filmed in and around the Pittsburgh region.


Filed under Uncategorized

Watching More Books

A while back, I featured some books that would making their way to the small screen with adaptations (That was in August? Holy smokes!). Well, now that the networks are announcing their choices for the next TV season, it’s clear that more folks jumping on board the comic book party train for their source material.  Let’s check out a few of the books that I can’t wait to watch in a few months.

Thanks to the fantastic Arrow series on right now (Scott was not wrong about that show), we’ll get to see The Flash this fall. Arrow has done some legwork in building this spin-off in the past few months, with characters popping up and even setting the stage for Barry Allen’s transformation from skinny nerd to The Fastest Man Alive. I really hope these series work together in the BuffyAngel mold, in that they support two strong, separate plots, but allow for movement between shows in a seamless way.

I’m beside myself over Gotham. I love the idea of a show living in the world of Batman, but focusing on the people around Bruce Wayne in the years leading up to him putting on the cape and cowl. This hasn’t been explored much in the comics, but I think Gotham Central might be the closest match, in that it revolves around the work Jim Gordon and other members of the Gotham PD are doing to solve crimes in their city.

I knew Rob Thomas (this one, not that one) was working on a new show and there would be zombies, but I had no idea that it was based on a comic series. iZombie follows a young woman who happens to be a zombie – as she consumes new brains, the memories of the dead person take over and she works to fulfill their last request. The show is moving away from the graveyard of the comics to a coroner’s office for a more defined detective story angle. Slightly gory Veronica Mars? Sign me up.

Are there any comics/graphic novels that you’d love to see turned into a TV show?

– Jess, who is still holding out hope for a Y: The Last Man series


Filed under Uncategorized

Batman: Dark Knight Looming

We’re really just less than four days away from the release of Dark Knight Rises, the thrilling conclusion to Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy.  The first installment, Batman Begins, breathed new life into the moribund film franchise, and the second installment, The Dark Knight transformed the late Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker (Why so serious, indeed?) into a cultural meme.

Unless you weren’t in town last summer, or just weren’t paying much attention, a great deal of Dark Knight Rises uses Pittsburgh as a stand-in for Gotham City.  Half the fun of watching this movie will rest in recognizing those familiar landmarks and landscapes transformed by Mr. Nolan’s unique vision and the special effects wizardry of the talented artists in his employ.

If you want to bone up on your Batman before the movie, I would point you to my list from last year containing what one humble reader considers essential Dark Knight reading.  I’d like to take this moment to plug seeing the movie at the Carnegie Science Center.  You’ll not only get the movie in its full, Omnimax glory, but the Science Center might just be one of the coolest places to visit in the city.

No matter where you see it, this last Nolan Batman movie should provide us with quite a sendoff!


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Dangerous Lives of Batman

Even as the filming of Batman: Dark Knight Rises unfolds in the streets of Pittsburgh, and DC Comics and their legions of tired fans gird themselves for yet another continuity re-boot, I have to remind myself that there are always folks coming to this stuff for the first time.  With that in mind, here’s one longtime Bat-fan’s quick and dirty primer on what makes “essential” (YMMV*) Bat-reading.

If you ask it of them,  most comic book fans worth their weight in mylar bags will tell you  the most important Bat-stories are one or both of the following titles (and they’d be right):

Batman. Year One / Frank Miller, writer ; David Mazzucchelli

Batman. The Dark Knight Returns / Frank Miller, with Klaus Janson and Lynn Varley

Frank Miller wrote both of these seminal Bat-stories in the 1980s.  Although Dark Knight Returns came first and helped to re-define a much grimmer and grittier Batman, Year One takes place at the beginning of Bruce Wayne’s career as the Caped Crusader, while DKR presents him at the twilight of his run, battling for meaning in a dystopian America where a crytpo-fascist government reigns, crime and violence make the streets a living hell, and the Cold War never ended.   You can read these two collections in whatever order you choose, and you will find that both deliver the goods.  I personally prefer Year One because the story possesses a bit more coherency, and David Mazzucchelli’s amazing artwork really complements Mr. Miller’s stark script.

Beyond this pair of looming comic giants things can get a bit fuzzy.  A lot of really tremendous Batman stories have been published amidst a sea of Bat-drek, but few of them rise to the level of the preceding two stories.  Let’s have a quick look at some other “high points” in the character’s long run. Here they are in no particular order:

Batman : the dailies, 1943-46

These classic tales from the old newspapers will give you insight into the origins of Bob Kane’s Batman–the original Caped Crusader.  Kane’s artistry and command of his craft make these old tales a delight to read, and they hold up remarkably well considering their age.

Batman. The Killing Joke / Alan Moore, writer ; Brian Bolland, art and colors

You simply will not find a more moving or disturbing Batman story than this one.  Writer Alan Moore and artist Brian Bolland raise the Joker to the absolute pinnacle of Batman villains in this chilling tale of how one contends with the evil of madness.  Without this story, Heath Ledger’s amazing performance in The Dark Knight would not have been possible.

Batman. The Long Halloween / Jeph Loeb, writer ; Tim Sale, artist ; Gregory Wright, colors

This amazing story possesses the look and feel of Year One, and artist Tim Sale’s bruising style and simple line-work accentuate Mr. Loeb’s thirteen part tale.  In it Batman and district attorney Harvey Dent try to stop the killer Holiday, who times his crimes with the various holidays that occur throughout the course of the year.  The story also expertly re-envisions Harvey Dent’s tragic transformation into the villainous Two-Face.

Showcase Presents Batman And The Outsiders. Volume One / written by Mike W. Barr ; illustrated by Jim Aparo

This one might not rank that highly on a lot of Bat-fans lists, but it does on mine for a number of reasons.  Before Miller’s ultra-gritty re-imagining of Batman he was largely a team player and a mainstream hero.  This Showcase volume details his first break with the Justice League, and to my knowledge this is where the character first gives voice to his preference for being feared over being respected.  In keeping with this he leaves the “Super Friends” and forms his own team of “Outsider” heroes.  This sets the table for what Mr. Miller does three years later with his DKR. It also features amazing artwork from long-time Batman artist Jim Aparo, a man who many current artists could learn a lot from when it comes to layout and storytelling.

Gotham By Gaslight : A Tale Of The Batman / Brain Augustyn, Michael Mignola, P. Craig Russell, David Hornung ; introduction by Robert Bloch

Ever wonder how Batman might do solving the mystery of Jack the Ripper?  This “Elseworlds” chronicle from Bryan Augustyn and Hellboy creator Mike Mignola pits a Victorian-era Batman against the Ripper himself!   This story created an entire sub-genre of comics that placed modern characters in historical settings.

Cosmic Odyssey / Jim Starlin, writer ; Mike Mignola, penciller ; Carlos Garzon, inker

Not strictly a Batman story, but featuring the Caped Crusader as part of a truly eclectic ensemble cast, this tale manages to work in some truly gritty and scary scenes amidst its cosmic trappings.  The Mike Mignola/Carlos Garzon art team shines, and Jim Starlin expertly blends Jack Kirby’s Fourth World characters with DC Comics icons Batman, Superman, and Green Lantern.

Batman & Robin. Batman Reborn / written by Grant Morrison ; art by Frank Quitely, Philip Tan with Jonathan Glapion

What if Bruce Wayne “died” and an adult Dick Grayson (Robin) took over the mantle of the Caped Crusader?  Quirky British scribe Grant Morrison answers the question in his own inimitably strange and zany style, and Frank Quitely’s amazing artwork highlights this six-issue collection.  Again, not what you might consider classic Batman tales, but it’s Grant Morrison and it’s good.  Say no more.

Two other stories I’d like to mention are currently not in print and therefore not readily available at the CLP libraries.  Batman: A Death In The Family details the brutal slaying of Jason Todd, the second Robin, at the hands of the Joker.  Mike W. Barr and Jim Aparo turn in some excellent work on this gripping tale, but its most notable attribute came from the fans.  When given the opportunity to vote via telephone on whether Robin lived or died, they chose to send the second Boy Wonder to an early grave.  The second tale I want to highlight is Batman: The Cult.  Pairing the talents of writer Jim Starlin and noted horror artist Berni Wrightson, this chilling tale is actually available at one of the suburban libraries, so go ahead and request it–it will be worth the wait!

Of course, more awesome Batman stories exist than I have time to discuss in this post, but I would invite comments on your favorite tales.  Remember, the only thing better than reading comic books is talking about comic books!


* YMMV = Your Mileage May Vary

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Dark Knight

“I dont want to kill you.  You complete me.” -Heath Ledger’s the Joker, The Dark Knight

This quote was perhaps my favorite from the movie.  It stuck in my head for hours after I watched the thrilling Dark Knight in July.  Hearing someone say that ‘you complete them,’ you imagine it coming from a lover.  Lovers complement each other in every way, bringing about a continuity of bliss.   Batman and the Joker in the newly released film The Dark Knight  are far from a pair of bright-eyed lovers, and yet the Joker, in all his insanity, speaks an interesting truth.  Batman and the Joker, though not lovers, have a relationship that would not exist without either one of them.

The strong sense of order and chaos is blatant in Christopher Nolan’s latest Batman film.  Batman, our penitent hero, represents the good and orderly in Gotham.   Our caped crusader, despite his own tortured nature, continues to do good and struggles within himself to not stray from that mindset and become the exact opposite of himself, his own personal demon, brought to life through the Joker. 

The Joker, on the other hand, is a sadistic, pleasant and cheerful little bugger.  He has no moral qualms, or any qualms really, about any action that he undertakes.  The chase is most appealling to him, and the chaotic nature of it all (that may in fact make no sense to anyone else) always finds a place in his own demented world.

This is, of course, but a taste of the many philosophical ideas that come from the world of the Batman.   Undoubtedly you’ll want to learn more.  Who wouldn’t?? In that case allow us, your friendly neighborhood library, to point you in the right direction.

First I recommend, for the academic at heart, Batman and Philosophy: The Dark Knight of the Soul, which is a wonderful collection of essays written by modern-day philosophers.  The essays center around the world presented through the comics, and not just the movies.

If that doesn’t quench your thirst and you’re dying to know more, I recommend some of my personal favorites:

  • The Essential Batman Encyclopediaprovides an excellent reference for any reader who lacks the time to read the large collection of Batman graphic novels available at CLP.
  • The DC Comics Encyclopedia is also an excellent reference book for those of us whose lives run on the New York minute.
  • Showcase Presents Batmanis a collection of Batman comics, and we have it at CLP in two volumes!  If you don’t have the time or the money to hunt down all the old comics, this is the book for you!
  • Batman: The Killing Joke is a newer graphic novel that I found by chance in the library.  It has some of the best artwork that I’ve seen to date!
  • Batman Cover to Cover This one isn’t a graphic novel, but it is an excellent collection of the best comic covers throughout the ages.

Finally, to truly understand the troubled and tormented relationship between Batman and the Joker, I suggest you check out my personal favorite, Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns.

On top of all this we have dozens of Batman graphic novels at the library.  Simply search our network, or come on in for a nice cup of joe while you meander our graphic novels section.

In the meantime, enjoy the release of the latest Batman feature in the comfort of your own home with a delicious bowl of popcorn!!!


Marianne, a/k/a MA, is the newest member of the Eleventh Stack blog team.  This is her first post.


Filed under Uncategorized