Posts Tagged ‘Dick Grayson’

It’s no secret that Ben Affleck’s Batman/Bruce Wayne is, along with Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman, one of the brighter aspects of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which is saying something considering the somber and dreary coloring ofbenaffleck the film perpetually existing in the twilight hours of the DC Cinematic Universe. So of course no one was surprised when it was announced that Affleck would be starring in a Batman solo movie. Better yet, Affleck is also co-writing the script with President of DC Entertainment, and DC Comics writer, Geoff Johns as well as directing the film, which again makes sense given Affleck’s rise in Hollywood as a director for critically acclaimed films like Gone Baby Gone, The Town, and the Oscar award-winning Argo.

With Affleck’s deep and unabashed affection for all things Batman, this seems like the perfect fit. The only thing standing in the way of success for the film is what story Affleck and Johns want to tell and how they plan to move the character forward after the still lingering fallout from BvS and whatever happens in Justice League. Recently, Affleck leaked test footage for the Batman solo film featuring Deathstoke, a villain who’s had several run-ins with the Justice League and the Teen Titans in the comics and cartoon. Additionally, there was the series-changing appearance of Manu Bennett’s version of Deathstroke/Slade Wilson during Arrow‘s second season that likely put him in the sites of WB executives. Earlier this month it was announced that Joe Manganiello (True Blood, Magic Mike) would be playing Deathstroke, likely making him at least one of the main villains going up against the Dark Knight, if not a challenging opponent for the burgeoning Justice League.

Bringing Deathstroke into the DC Cinematic Universe is an interesting move considering he was mainly a Teen Titans villain, but his inclusion does open up some possibilities for Batman and the greater DC universe of films. So, using the information provided by rumors, speculation, and actual confirmations, I’m going to walk you lovely readers through how I would approach the Batman solo film. And if someone working on the film happens to read it **cough**Ben Affleck**cough** all I ask is a story credit because that’s how that works, right?

Also, remember that this is the roughest of ideas. Just thoughts that have been rattling around in my brain. So…

Being true to itself, the internet is full of speculation as to which storyline(s) Affleck and Johns could pull from the comics. One theory is an adaptation of Grant Morrison and Dave McKean’s Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth, which would give the film room to include a ton of cameos from Batman’s rogues gallery as the Caped Crusader fights his way through a riot at the questionably effective psychiatric facility. More recently, it’s been rumored that Deathstroke could take the place of Bane as the main antagonist of a Knightfall adaptation. The story by Doug Moench and Jim Aparo is most well-known for the moment Bane breaks an exhausted Batman’s back, leaving the vigilante paralyzed from the waist down and Gotham City without its guardian. You’ll recall The Dark Knight Rises used aspects of the story as well, which could deter the solo film from using it. The third big contender is the Hush storyline by Jeff Loeb and Jim Lee that features a lot of cameos by prominent characters in the DCU. Like, a lot of characters. The story, however, generally follows a noir narrative as Batman tries to uncover a plot by a villain only known as Hush who seems intent on taking the Dark Knight down.

None of these books would be a bad choice for an adaptation. They all require Batman to have been operating for a joe-manganiello-as-deathstrokesignificant amount of time, which the previous films already established with Bruce’s 20-year long crusade, and they feature a large supporting cast of well-known and not-so-well-known allies and villains. What makes the possibility of one or all three stories providing some structure to the movie so exciting is how they could easily tie into the previous films and service the character going forward. Batman may be a loner, but he’s the most sociable recluse in the DCU.

For the sake of argument, I’m going to proceed with the idea that the Knightfall storyline would be the backbone of the movie’s narrative. Deathstroke is either hired to take out the Bat or he takes it upon himself to go up against the Dark Knight based on pure ego. Bane’s original plan was rooted in besting Batman on all fronts, mind and body, so it wouldn’t be too out of left field to say that Deathstroke’s reasons have a similar basis. His tactical prowess, intelligence, and enhanced skills make him a formidable opponent, so pitting him against another man at peak physical condition and extreme intelligence would make for some killer fight scenes.

Okay, moving on!

With Batman’s lengthy timeline of operation in tact the solo film would get a lot of leeway when it comes to bringing new characters into the fold. This works in Batman’s favor because, according to BvS, Bats has been on a bit of cruelty streak in the wake of the destruction in Metropolis and the loss of a building and some people he may have cared about. Possibly. We could also lump in the death of a Robin acting as lingering trauma on top of the ever-present Mommy and Daddy issues Bruce has bouncing around in his head. This all goes to say that by the end of BvS, and most likely after the Justice League two-parter has concluded, Batman’s attitude towards teamwork will have shifted in a more favorable direction. Eager to mend fences and reestablish old connections, a significant chunk of the story could be devoted to building the Bat-Family, or rebuilding it where the characters are concerned.

One of the more frustrating things about being a Batman fan is the lack of Bat-Family within the film adaptations. Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy only made the slightest of nods to Robin in the final moments of the third film and the less that can be said about the Joel Schumcher version of Dick Grayson the better. There’s an aversion to including the extended Bat-Family in the film adaptations, which I can mostly understand but still find aggravating. Yes, a teen sidekick brings up a whole slew of issues – mostly the lack of child protective services in Gotham – but the purpose of Robin, Nightwing, Batgirl, etc. is how they contrast and compliment Batman in his endless war on crime. Just having Alfred around to chastise or wax poetic keeps Bruce in a strangely infantilized state where he’s constantly answering to his surrogate father. By giving him a sidekick, or a partner, Bruce is now the father-figure doling out advice, training his “children,” and making tons of mistakes along the way.bat-fam

And it’s those mistakes, plus his renewed appreciation for teamwork, that lead him towards reconciliation in the solo film. If we make the assumption that the Robin suit featured in BvS belonged to Jason Todd, it would go a long way towards establishing the additional trauma Bruce has experienced in losing a surrogate child. That loss would feed his rage and guilt, which would then cause him to push away anyone else he feels could be harmed because of their association with him.

Enter Nightwing! There have been quite a few retellings of the hows and whys of Dick Grayson’s transition from teen sidekick to standalone hero. Sometimes the split is amicable, a natural progression as Dick matures into a young man, and other times their fighting causes a rift that takes years to repair. In the case of the solo film, why not combine both? Prior to the events of BvS, perhaps Dick decided to become his own man and help Bruce as Nightwing, leaving the position of Robin open to a new recruit, Jason Todd. Jason’s death at the hands of the Joker (sneaking in a Death in the Family reference) would then cause Bruce to take his rage out on Gotham’s criminal underground. Dick being the out-going and sympathetic guy that he is tries to help, but Bruce pushes him away. Instead of sticking around to receive more of the same, Dick leaves Gotham City for the equally corrupt Blüdhaven, barely talking to or seeing Bruce for several years. When Bruce arrives to make amends, it adds a layer of tension to the characters that could be worked out over the course of the film or carryover into the inevitable sequels.

The presence of Deathstroke could even build off the tension between Batman and his fractured family. In the comics, Slade was also the father of three children – Grant, Joseph, and Rose – all of whom could join him in his fight against Batman. It would actually go a long way to show how off his game Batman is if Deathstroke and family (at the very least Rose and Grant who shared the name Ravager) overwhelmed him. A first encounter might send him towards Blüdhaven to recruit Dick and upon returning without any allies in tow, because Dick isn’t going to forgive him or help out immediately, a second encounter would result in Deathstroke delivering a nearly fatal blow. Barely escaping with his life, and probably with the help of some gadgets, Batman is defeated and exhausted in body, mind, and spirit. What can he do now? Who can he trust to help?8e5tqlw

Enter Tim Drake! There was a video going around of actor Ryan Potter (Big Hero 6) “auditioning” for Ben Affleck with a choreographed fight scene. At the end he entreats Affleck to consider him with the closing line of, “Batman needs a Robin.” Potter isn’t wrong and using one of Tim’s lines from the comics works in favor of at least considering the importance of Robin’s place as Batman’s partner-in-crimefighting. Again, using the angle of the fractured family of heroes versus the united family of villains, Tim’s role is elevated by his drive to see Batman and Robin back together. Timeline wise, Tim’s a young man – probably mid to late teens – so he’s grown up with the Dynamic Duo as a constant presence in Gotham. And because Tim is a studious person with plenty of ambition, it would make sense that he’d try to seek his heroes out. An early encounter with Batman could start the film, showing off Tim’s martial arts skills, as well as his talent for technology, but Bats discourages Tim from being like him. Tim counters that he doesn’t want to be Batman, he just wants to work with him. Typical Batman, “I work alone.” Tim fires back, “You didn’t always. And you shouldn’t now.”

Is it subtle? Nope, but it works to establish where Batman is and why Tim becomes a much more important character as the film progresses. By the time Batman has reached his lowest point, Tim returns to help the Bat-Family reunite. Comic book Tim already figured out the secret identities, so movie Tim could as well, seeking out Dick Grayson or communicating with him via the Bat-Computer and filling him in on what’s happening in Gotham. As Bruce prepares to go back out into the fray of Gotham City, now overrun with criminals from Arkham Asylum that Deathstroke released (moving parts of Knightfall around here for my own purposes), Dick shows up to join the fight, standing by Bruce as his ally once again.

Fight, fight, fight. Heroes win, Bruce is as happy as he can get, and Tim is eventually recruited as the new Robin with Dick’s approval and Alfred’s endorsement. Not everything between Bruce and Dick is resolved, nor is it the last they’ll have seen of Deathstroke and family (because superheroes!), but it’s a step in the right direction with plenty of story fodder for the sequel.

You’ll notice I haven’t mentioned Barbara Gordon/Batgirl yet. This is a trickier subject because Babs could be utilized in a couple of ways. In one scenario, she’s still Batgirl. With Batman still playing the loneliest loner type, we could see Batgirl operating solo or introduce the Birds of Prey as a splinter group trying to pick up the slack around Gotham despite Batman constantly telling them stop. Things could come to blows when Batman threatens to tell Barbara’s father, Commissioner Gordon, about her nighttime activities and she in turn threatens to reveal his secret identity to the world. She’s also good with technology, she helped build the latest version of the Bat-Computer, the one that broke into Luthor’s super secret thumb drive in BvS, so it wouldn’t be hard for her to plaster his face all over the internet and the nightly news. She’s not proud of the threat, but again, Bruce is pushing her into a corner. It eventually culminates with the Birds of Prey or, at the very least, Batgirl showing up to help.i-will-end-you

In the second scenario, she’s Oracle. For this to happen, there would have to be some acknowledgement of The Killing Joke, or a new backstory created to explain her forced retirement as Batgirl. Being Oracle has its advantages within the story. It would add another example of the Joker’s mark on the Bat-Family in the wake of Jason’s death and serve as a constant reminder to Bruce that he failed another person he loves. The connection between Babs and Tim in the realm of technology, however, would be useful in giving the supporting cast more interactions with each other. Babs could even be living with Dick in Blüdhaven (Babs and Dick shipper for life!), helping him fight crime as a nascent Oracle, which pits her against Tim as she blocks his attempts to hack the Bat-Computer from afar. What’s important, and necessary, is that Babs is a character in her own right. She fights regardless or her circumstances and she lets everyone know it. Even as Oracle she can get some licks in, so the wheelchair shouldn’t feel like a limitation. Would it be simpler to start her off as Batgirl? Yes, but there would be just as much meat to her character as Oracle if handled correctly.

So those are my lengthy thoughts and ideas about where the Batman solo film could potentially go. Like I said, WB and Ben Affleck, a story credit will suffice. And maybe a set visit…

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In honor of this year’s Batman Day, I thought I’d repurpose an article from my NoiseSharkMedia days, which you can read the original version here. Suffice it to say, my opinions on some things have changes, but my love for Batman remains true.

With that mini-intro out of the way, we begin our journey with Batman’s original medium, comic books. Created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger in 1939 (but let’s be honest, it was mostly Bill Finger) and making his first appearance in Detective Comics #27, Batman is arguably DC Comics most popular character (Batman vs. Superman argument commence!) As such, he has a very long history and a cast of supporting characters that have become as ingrained in pop culture as The Dark Knight himself. And with every new generation of comic book readers, there’s always an attempt to reinvent Batman for the new age despite the fact that there are some things you just can’t change.

It’s said that every comic book writer has a Batman story to tell and with that in mind, let’s take a look at the versatile nature of the Caped Crusader.

 

The Golden Age (1930s-1940s)

 

The Golden Age version of Batman is, at times, radically different from the one we recognize today yet completely similar. Inspired by pulp heroes such as Zorro and Doc Savage, Batman was a powerless hero who donned cape and cowl to scare the ever loving minds out of the criminal element of Gotham City. Without the super-human abilities of his colleague in Metropolis, Batman was shown to be a brilliant mind, Sherlock Holmes being yet another inspiration for the character, with a utility belt of gadgets and a Bat-cave of wonders that allowed him to solve crimes and cruise around Gotham. The pulp influence is especially present in Batman’s attitude towards crime-fighting since he started as a remorseless vigilante whose brand of justice included killing and maiming criminals. Creators since have made various attempts to distinguish the line Batman precariously walks between hero and villain, usually relying on his strict “no killing” policy as his own personal Rubicon. The 30s and 40s, however, were a different time when our heroes had no qualms about letting a guy fall to his death if he didn’t play ball.

Batman’s darker approach to crime-fighting may have had something to do with his even darker origin story, which wasn’t even introduced until Detective Comics #33 wherein we learn of young Bruce Wayne, the victim of a terrible crime as he watches his mother and father gunned down by a petty thief. In comparison to Superman’s story (also technically an orphan), Bruce’s origin is especially brutal, but given the rise of organized crime in the 1930s, making the Waynes victims of such a terrible crime gives us a reason to sympathize and encourage his decision to become Batman. It further articulated the point that not even the rich could escape the reach of criminals. In order to lighten things up a bit and give the kids a character they could vicariously live through and provide Batman with a Watson to his Holmes, Bill Finger created Dick Grayson, a.k.a. Robin, the Boy Wonder, as Batman’s kid sidekick.

 

 

The Silver Age (1950s-1960s)

 

Post World War II was an interesting era that saw the changing dynamics of the household set against the tumultuous political divisions building around the Vietnam War and the burgeoning counter culture movement. This was also the age that gave us the atom bomb, creating a new world of possibilities that were both awe-inspiring and devastatingly horrific. To capitalize on the science-fiction genre, Batman interacted with more aliens and used technology never before seen. This is the age in comics that gave us the more whack-a-doodle storylines, which geeks still have a soft spot for since campiness never really goes away. Sci-fi ultimately proved that even a character like Batman could be adapted to fit the prevailing culture…sort of.

That’s not to say Batman was without his share of controversy at the time. Thanks to that feel-good piece Seduction of the Innocent by Fredric Wertham, Batman and Robin were basically called out as homosexuals since they didn’t interact with girls enough for Mr. Wertham’s liking. Like Wonder Woman’s lesbian fetishisms and the schadenfreude caused by violence within comics, Batman and Robin were warping the fragile little minds of the youths. In response, DC Comics introduced Batwoman (Kathy Kane) and Bat-girl (Bette Kane) to counteract the accusations. Later on, Batwoman would go on to become one of the most prominent lesbian characters in comics, so go figure!

 

 

The Bronze Age (1970’s to 1980’s)

 

This is where the eras start to get a little murky, but I’ll stick with it as it kinda helps with the organization. Dennis “Denny” O’Neil did for Batman in the 70s what Frank Miller did for Batman in the late 80s, which is make him relevant and badass. O’Neil especially wanted to put some distance between the comic book character and the campy tv show. He envisioned bringing Batman back to the dark roots that had made him so popular to begin with and he did so along with artist Neal Adams. They sought to make Batman the brooding detective, a man tortured by the death of his parents whose only solace was in dedicating his life to fighting crime so that no one else should suffer the same fate. During his run, O’Neil made the call to give Batman an aversion to guns that’s been a part of Batman’s psyche ever since. O’Neil also returned the Joker to his more primal and psychotic state, making him a less predictable foil and greater challenge for the Dark Knight to combat. If you want more proof of O’Neil’s contributions to the Batman mythos, then look no further than Ra’s al-Ghul and his daughter, Talia, both created by O’Neil with assists from Neal Adams on Ra’s and Bob Brown on Talia. The introductory storyline involves international puzzles, forbidden romance, the Lazarus Pit, and Batman and Ra’s sword fighting in the desert! Of course, O’Neil is also the guy who introduced and subsequently killed Robin II, Jason Todd, so it’s not all rainbows and gumdrops.

Despite attempts to revitalize the character, it wasn’t until Frank Miller’s two groundbreaking works, Batman: Year One (1987) and The Dark Knight Returns (1986), that interest in the character skyrocketed. DKR told the story of an older Bruce Wayne, a man forced into retirement by old age yet drawn back into fighting crime as the moral fabric of Gotham declines further and further. This is where the truly obsessed Batman emerges, a man forever driven by his mission no matter what the cost. In contrast, what’s amazing about Year One is that, though it did redefine the Batman origin story (think Martha Wayne’s pearls), it’s not really as much about Batman as it is about the rise of Jim Gordon. Written in the noir style that Miller loves so much, Year One juxtaposes Batman’s attempt to fight crime and corruption outside the law with Gordon as he tries to make change from the inside by refusing to give in to the rampant corruption infecting the GCPD. But Gordon isn’t without his own foibles as the obsession to change Gotham ultimately leads him down a rocky path that makes him question his own moral compass.

The unfortunate aftermath of Miller’s relationship with comic books and the industry as a whole lead him to create two very cynical and almost hateful depictions of not only Batman, but superheroes in general with The Dark Knight Strikes Again (2002) and All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder (2005). Though All-Star is beautifully drawn by Jim Lee and Scott Williams, that’s about all you can say for the book, except that it originates the very popular line, “I’m the Goddam Batman!”

Then we have Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke (1989). Though the story is ostensibly about Joker’s attempt to drive Jim Gordon insane, the overall narrative is about the fall of decent men. Though it’s Gordon that The Joker torments, his idea that even the most pure of heart and purpose can be corrupted because of “one bad day” equally applies to Batman. The very crime that created Batman could be argued as proof of Joker’s point, which Joker makes reference to at the story’s climax. It’s a fascinating psychological piece as it poses the question, “Is Batman as crazy as his foes?”

 

The Modern Era (1990’s to 2000’s)

 

 

Aren’t labels fun? Anyway, the 90s, though defined by outrageous artwork and a sudden freedom to do whatever the fuck-all you wanted story-wise, saw some notable turns for Batman in the form of Knightfall and The Long Halloween. A brilliant idea that ended on a kind of eh? note, Knightfall (1993) was the book that introduced us to Bane, the South American venom addict who’s most famous for breaking the Bat’s back. With an entire team of writers including Denny O’Neil and Chuck Dixon, Knightfall was as much a character piece for Bruce Wayne as a story asking questions such as, “What makes Batman Batman?” and “Does being Batman mean to be forever alone?” Paralyzed by Bane, Bruce must rebuild his broken body, submitting himself to rigorous physical therapy in order to overcome the psychological damage of being broken and exhausted in his mission as Batman. Whilst recovering, he asks Jean-Paul Valley, a.k.a. Azrael, to take over as Batman, but the overly zealous and increasingly paranoid young man takes his duties to the extreme, tarnishing Batman’s relationship with Gotham and the GCPD. Once recovered through a supernatural deus ex machina, Bruce returns to his duties as Batman and begins to rebuild the relationships sorely neglected by his drive and obsession: his family.

The Long Halloween (1996-97) was written by Jeff Loeb as a follow-up to Miller’s Year One. Utilizing that same noir style, Loeb crafted a thrilling mystery surrounding a villain nicknamed “The Holiday Killer” who, you guessed it, only kills on holidays. The deaths, however, all appear to be specific attacks on the Falcone crime family, with all signs pointing to Bruce Wayne as the killer. The book brilliantly built upon Miller’s foundation, bringing Batman’s rogues gallery in for quick introductions while setting up the fall of Harvey Dent and the rise of Two-Face. The resolution is a disturbing look at the lengths people will go to for what they believe, so it’s no surprise that Christopher Nolan drew heavily from this story when crafting The Dark Knight.

The New Millenia at DC Comics brought about some of the most engaging and somewhat controversial works published prior to the 2011 reboot. One of my all-time favorites was Hush (2003), written by Jeff Loeb with the gorgeous art of Jim Lee. Like all great Batman stories, there’s a mystery to be solved, and this one revolves around Gotham’s latest villain, Hush. The book also explores the themes of family and trust as Bruce willfully reveals his secret identity to Selina Kyle (Catwoman) and comes to terms with the possible return of Jason Todd from the dead. The resolution is brilliant and I dare not spoil it for you. A follow-up that deserves some mention is Under The Hood by Judd Winnick that takes the supposed return of Jason Todd and makes it a reality – because reality got punched in the FACE!!! (For reals, go check out Infinite Crisis) The death of Jason has always been one of Batman’s greatest failures and a huge source of guilt, which Jason exploits through most of the book as he takes revenge upon the Joker for killing him and Batman for not saving him. One could argue that it’s just Jason continuing to be a whiny shit even after his resurrection, but it’s still an interesting concept.

Closing out the pre-52 era is the magnum opus that is the work of Grant Morrison. Starting with the introduction of everybody’s favorite homicidal ten-year-old, Damian Wayne, Morrison embarked on an epic exploration of the Batman mythos culminating in his “death” in Final Crisis (2005-06). A self-proclaimed scholar of myth, legend, and probably made of magic, Morrison took Batman to new levels of ridiculous awesomeness that invited you to journey down the rabbit hole. Whether or not you agree with his treatment of the character, Morrison strongly tied the origins of Bruce Wayne, Gotham, and Batman into a Gordion Knot of mythological and symbolic history. The foundations of Gotham and the foundations of Batman are one and the same, permeating the very buildings that pierce the skyline. Morrison also established through his run on Batman and Robin that Batman and Gotham share yet another connection, that of legacy. Though Gotham is a city that appears to stand alone, it is built upon the legacies of the families who gave birth to her in concept and design. And though we often depict Batman as a solitary hero, he is the progenitor of a powerful legacy of heroes, which results in his desire to “share the wealth” as it were in Batman, Inc.

 

The New 52 – Present

 

Though this was prior to the 2011 “reboot,” when Scott Snyder took over writing duties on the main Batman title post-Morrison, he carried over the concept of Gotham as its own living, breathing entity, a reflective surface prepared to bring out the ugly darkness from within, no matter the hero who calls him or herself a protector of the city. As a lover of comics I recommend that you pick up The Black Mirror as fast as you can. It is, by far, one of the best Batman stories written prior to The Court of Owls storyline. Through the eyes of Dick Grayson as the new Batman in Bruce’s absence, Snyder turned the tables on Gotham’s most reluctantly heroic son, showing Dick that, though he’s always tried to run away from the legacy of his adopted family, his roots are as much a part of the city as Bruce’s. For Dick, Gotham may bring out the worst aspects of the human soul, but that only makes him strive to fight the good fight more.

Carried over, post-reboot, The Court of Owls arc takes Batman and Gotham’s intertwining legacies and turns it into an all out brawl for the soul of the city. Batman once again, Bruce is pushed to his absolute breaking point by the Court of Owls, a secret society ensconced in Gotham society’s upper echelons. Working behind the scenes, the Court manipulates and murders in order to retain power, using the immortal assassins, the Talons, to do their bidding. As he investigates them further, Bruce finds that one of his most trusted companions may be connected to the Court and their deadly machinations. The crux of the story continues to be that of family and legacy. Pulling in the entire Bat Family, Snyder cracks the foundations in order to make them stronger than ever before. Of course, this was before we knew what he and artist Greg Capullo had in store for the Batman and the Bat-Family in Death of the Family, Zero Year, Endgame, and the current arc. The final issue of Court of Owls, however, features a beautiful scene between Bruce and Dick that gives the original dynamic duo a quiet moment of repose and reflection before Gotham inevitably needs them again. As the arc ends, we the readers understand that Snyder is himself a part of a long legacy of Batman creators, molding his own vision of the Dark Knight and the world he inhabits. And if you need a reminder of just how much Batman and Gotham are tied together go read Batman #44 by Snyder, co-writer Brian Azzarello, and artist Jock and prepare to be amazed.

 

James Rowe of Roman on the Rocks joins Sam for a session mostly dedicated to all things DC Comics and their properties including Batman: Arkham Knight, Batman v Superman, Arrow, The Flash, and Batgirl.

 

Batgirl

With shooting due to start sometime this year, we’re finally getting some news regarding who will fill the roster for TNT’s foray into the superhero genre with Titans. Based on the Teen Titans from DC Comics as well as New Teen Titans, and just simply Titans if you’ve followed the team up until the New 52 reboot, Titans, according to the leaked script, will feature Dick Grayson/Nightwing, Barbara Gordon/Oracle?, Hank Hall/Hawk, Dawn Granger/Dove, with Titansappearances towards the end of the pilot by Rachel Roth/Raven and Koriand’r/Starfire. The late appearance of the final two is most likely due to not wanting viewers overwhelmed by so many characters, or the pilot is a two-parter so as to give the characters room to breathe. Fingers crossed.

It’s definitely an interesting mishmash and not a lineup I was expecting at all. It’s essentially a combination of Teen Titans and Birds of Prey since Barbara will be in a wheelchair and acting as Oracle, though her hacker identity isn’t featured in the script. The exclusion of Cyborg and Beast Boy, based on the popular lineup for the Teen Titans cartoon, is probably because Beast Boy’s ability to change into any animal would be too costly for the show’s budget and Cyborg has been deemed hands off because of the up-coming Justice League movies and his solo film. If that’s the case with Cyborg, it’s still odd considering he’s so well-known for being in the Titans and Warner Bros. doesn’t seem to have a problem with two guys playing the Flash in the movie and television universes. Of course, that doesn’t mean the characters won’t birdsofprey12658appear in the show, but it may be in the form of supporting cast or guest appearances. However, with the exclusion of Starfire, the cast could use a person of color because it’s not looking all that diverse; the exception being the 4:2 ratio of female to male cast members.

Believe me, it’s very rare for a superhero cast to have more women on the team than men unless the book or show is specifically an all-female team. If you were to take a look at the casts currently on television, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has the most balanced cast of about 4 female regular leads and 5 male regular leads; Arrow comes in next with 3:4, The Flash with 2:5, Agent Carter with 2:5, and Constantine with 1:3. Gotham would be the equivalent of Agents of SHIELD with the addition of Morena Baccarin putting the cast at 6:8, but the ensemble usually favors the male regulars since the cases revolve around Jim Gordon, meaning characters like Selina Kyle, Ivy Pepper (sigh), or Renee Montoya end up taking a backseat for several episodes. So it’s worth noting that Gotham has more female characters than any of the other shows but doesn’t use them as often. tumblr_nezyn6sS9v1t7nmyno1_500

My biggest worry about the inclusion of Barbara Gordon is the love triangle that seems inevitable between her, Nightwing, and Starfire. In the comics, Babs was never part of the Teen Titans. After getting shot by the Joker and ending up paralyzed from the waist down, she created the Oracle persona in order to continue fighting crime by being the eyes and ears of practically the entire DC Universe. Eventually this led to becoming leader of the Birds of Prey, an all-female team that occasionally had some men on the roster. In lieu of Cyborg’s usual role as tech expert on the team, Barbara makes sense to replace him, but if the intention is to have her there so the show can tease will-they-or-won’t-they between her and Dick or Dick and Starfire, then that’s gonna get old real quick. Babs, Dick, and Kori are all great characters in their own right and they deserve good writing and character development. I’m not saying there can’t be tension – the comics have been teasing both couples for so long it’s not out Nightwing-and-Starfire-dc-comics-14486473-300-455of the question – but it has to be more than Babs and Kori fighting for Dick’s affections or Dick waffling between the two. There’s history between all of them, which can make for great stories that don’t have to have a romantic bent. But this is only speculation based on cast lineup, so the show could very well prove me wrong.

Also worth noting is Titans will be the first live action debuts for Nightwing and Oracle. Granted, this will be true for all of the Titans, but Nightwing and Oracle are fairly special cases because of the fanbase and the characters’ history in media. Because of the longevity of the character, more people associate Dick Grayson with being Robin because they read the Golden and Silver Age comics or watched the Batman TV show from the 60s. The cartoons often default to Dick as Robin too, utilizing the contrasting personalities of Dick and Bruce to form the Dynamic Duo. It wasn’t until Batman: The Animated Series was revamped as The New Batman Adventures in the late 90s that we saw the first appearance of an animated Nightwing. Since then, almost every cartoon with Dick Grayson features either a glimpse of Nightwing or a progression from sidekick to solo hero. The movies, thus far…oh there’s not much to talk about.

Oracle has been featured even less. As far as iconography goes, Babs has always been Batgirl outside of the comics and any chance of her going through the violent circumstances that make her Oracle are either sidestepped or Nightwing-Titans-Togethermissing entirely. Aside from the Birds of Prey TV show from 2002, only The Batman in the episode “Artifacts” has featured Barbara as Oracle. It’s a step in the right direction to feature a handicapped superhero because, right now, representation and visibility are paramount. DC Comics got a lot of flack for making Barbara Batgirl again, so perhaps Titans can offer us a kickass Babs who just happens to be in a wheelchair.

Despite some of the misgivings I have, I’m definitely looking forward to seeing Titans when it premieres. There are a lot of heroes and heroines in the DCU that need some time and attention and hopefully this show will do right by a few more. And with this particular roster, there’s room for a lot of characters to show up.

Also, was this the role Steven R. McQueen was hinting at?

Another week and another batch of comics to recommend for your reading pleasure. Let’s not waste any time and get to the list!

 

Peter Panzerfaust #21 – Image Comics

peter_21_CVR_AWritten by Kurtis Wiebe with Art by Tyler Jenkins and colorist Kelly Fitzpatrick, this is the beginning of the final arc of Peter Panzerfaust and the team behind the book aren’t pulling any punches, figuratively and literally as the issue features two intense fist fights between the twins, Maurice and Claude, and the remaining Lost Boys when Tootles essentially decides that they need to hold a memorial for Peter, Lily, and Julien after which the rest of the group can get right the fuck out. Framed within the elderly Maurice’s recollection, the group, back in Paris, has tried to stay together in the wake of their flight from the Sticks and Peter’s capture, but their own personal vendettas and underlying feelings of guilt, responsibility, and bitterness seem to be driving them farther and farther apart. Tootles tries to keep Wendy, Michael, and John safe, with Wendy still taking on the motherly role. Felix has taken to executing Nazis as he sees fit. And the twins…they’re both dealing with things in their own way. It’s part and parcel of what older Maurice tells John Parsons, their story is no different from the stories of hundreds of other people during the war. Survival was the least difficult part, the hard part was figuring out what to do in the aftermath. The crumbling of the Lost Boys, however, gets a bit of a reprieve with a last minute reveal that still manages to get upstaged by an even bigger reveal.

 

Rat Queens #8 – Image Comics

RatQueens_08-1Also written by Kurtis Wiebe with Art by Roc Upchurch, we get a lot more background on Violet as we get to see almost exactly what led Violet to make the decision to leave her dwarven home, shave her beard, and join the Rat Queens. In the first volume, Sass and Sorcery, we were introduced to Violet’s brother, Barry Blackforge, who, like many of the familial relations to the first ladies of kickassery, didn’t approve of Violet’s decision to go off and become part of a quest-group-for-hire. Now we get to see that, like Dee, Violet’s home was built on the foundations of tradition, ones that still pigeonhole Violet into a model for her father’s new brand of armor instead of a competitor representing her family among the other noble dwarf clans during an annual tournament. It isn’t until she sees the shaven face of Morgan Meldhammer, an older woman fighting in place of another who chooses to buck the system and forge her own path by wearing the symbol she finds empowering, a rat, instead of the symbols of her clan. It’s her example and the supportive and steady hands of her mother with a straight razor that give us the Violet we know and love. And the way this issue ties into the overall narrative is not to be missed at the end.

 

Nailbiter #6 – Image Comics

Nailbiter 6Dear God can the town of Buckaroo, Oregon get any creepier? According to writer Joshua Williamson and artist Mike Henderson, yes, yes it can. Case in point, Alice, one of the town locals, waxes poetic about her home town from an insider’s perspective. The ongoing mystery is whether the myriad serial killers originating from the town, the Buckaroo Butchers, are some fluke of nature or if there’s something about the town itself that turns its citizens into killers. Determined to find her own answers, and by sheer happenstance, Alice becomes entangled in a woman named Mallory’s desire to have her baby born in Buckaroo so he’ll grow up to be a serial killer and she’ll become famous as the mother of said serial killer; doing the talk show circuit and eventually starting a foundation to help others. Basically a form of Münchausen syndrome where fame is the ultimate goal through the attention of the media. It’s a strong issue to start the next arc despite the exclusion of one of the book’s main characters. Finch sits this one out, presumably because he’s arguing with the FBI over his pending murder trial, while Alice and Sheriff Shannon Crane take the center stage for good reason. Both of these women were born in Buckaroo and both have had to grow up with the stigma of living in the town and the possibility that anyone they know is a potential serial killer. In Shannon’s case, the guy she went to prom with ended up becoming the Nailbiter. Alice, however, is still struggling with how to deal with growing up in Buckaroo, thoughts made far more relevant by the issue’s end.

 

Grayson #3 – DC Comics

grayson-3-coverWritten by Tom King and Tim Seeley with Art by Mikel Janin. Coming off of the phenomenal Future’s End tie-in that could have easily derailed the momentum of the new book, Grayson wastes no time getting us back into the story proper as Dick and Helena are tasked with taking down The Old Gun, a man who literally sees through the barrels of his guns, after he kills a man and steals his enhanced eyes in a desperate attempt to return his vision to normal. Dick and Helena are backed up by Agents 1 and 8 and it’s through Agent 8 that we get the inevitable conflict between the world of espionage and the world of superheroes. Dick was raised by a man who fell victim to the power of a gun, a man who spent his life attempting to bring an end to crime in Gotham without resorting to the easy route of using the very weapon that ruined his life. Dick isn’t unfamiliar with guns, but as he says to Agent 8, it’s not how he fights. For all of Agent 8’s proselytizing about how quick and easy relying on a gun can be as opposed to the credo of most superheroes and their “no kill” philosophy, Dick sees it as too simplistic of an answer when the missions they’re involved with are much more complicated. The objective may be to get the eyes, but the Old Gun brings a greater emotional weight to the situation once Dick learns the truth. It’s also an intriguing issue that delves into Dick’s own form of identity crisis. For all intents and purposes, Dick Grayson/Nightwing is dead in the eyes of the world, but within the confines of Spyral, the former superhero is now a spy, Agent 37, which comes with its own set of rules and regulations. Agent 8’s repeated botching of the Nightwing moniker as a means of getting under Dick’s skin, and reinforcing the fact that he’s a spy, not a hero, serve only to push Dick’s resolve in holding true to the teachings of his mentor and staying true to himself.

 

Spotlight On: Gotham Academy #1 – DC Comics

Goth-Acad-1Yes, I know everyone’s been hyping this book as the greatest thing to come out of DC in a long time, but it’s for good reason. Writers Becky Cloonan and Brenden Fletcher and Artist Karl Kerschl bring about a new side of Gotham City through the students and faculty of one of its most prestigious schools. There’s definitely a DC Comics meets Harry Potter vibe, in a good way, as we’re introduced to second-year student Olive Silverlock and first-year student Maps Mizoguchi. Told from Olive’s point-of-view, we know that she’s technically in a relationship with Maps’ older brother Kyle, but there may already be drama involving another student. Olive has become distant and moody as a result of some unknown event that took place during the summer; something so significant that even a visiting Bruce Wayne is aware of her even if she’s not aware of him. But really what the book boils down to is an intriguing, engaging, colorful, and, most importantly, fun, start to the next wave of Bat-books. Olive and Maps, both women of color, are delightful characters to watch. For all her moping, Olive’s problems are that of the typical teenager. She doesn’t quite fit in with her classmates, but much of that is largely tied to her attitude as evidenced through her interactions with her roommate Lucy and Maps. Of course, there’s always a bully and Olive’s Draco Malfoy equivalent is Pomeline Fritch. Seriously, the names alone are a mashup between comic books and Harry Potter naming conventions. But when push comes to shove, Olive is there for the people who need her and that says more about her character than the majority of her teen angst. Maps, however, is joy on legs, which makes her the most entertaining character of the bunch. I was definitely on board when she had the one-sided conversation with Olive about the school’s Headmaster, but later when the girls are climbing the bell tower to see the supposed ghost haunting the North Hall and Maps rambles on and on about her Dungeons and Dragons/LARPing escapades as if they parallel the situation, that’s when I think I fully fell in love with the book. I’m definitely looking forward to solving the mysteries of Gotham Academy and attending classes with such new and fantastically realized characters.

So those are my picks for the week. What about you? What did you read this week and what would you recommend?

It’s been over a year since the team from IsmaHAWK got their kickstarter for Nightwing: The Series fully funded. Based on the positive reaction to a fan film devoted to Danny Shepherd and Jeremy Le‘s favorite superhero, Nightwing, the duo took their love of Batman’s former sidekick to the people, offering them a sleeker, more dynamic vision of their previous outing with the DC Comics Universe. The result is Episode 1: Deathstroke, which sees Dick Grayson/Nightwing (played by Shepherd) tracking down the mercenary in the wake of a mass murder at a political function.Nightwing

The bigger budget allowed the IsmaHAWK team to make improvements in costuming (that’s a pretty sweet Deathstroke mask), fight choreography, and special effects without letting Nightwing get lost in the shuffle. Though he only shows up at about the episode’s midpoint, there are plenty of character idiosyncrasies present that will have fans of Dick Grayson frothing at the mouth for more. The interrogation of Wintergreen is definitely spot on for how Dick would approach questioning criminals.

Overall, it looks like money well spent and if the trailer is any indication of what’s to come, we can expect a lot more Bat-Family members to show up!

Look for the next episode to premiere Oct. 6th!

We’ve all been waiting patiently and the day is finally here when we can see our Kickstarter dollars made real in the form of the Nightwing: The Series trailer from IsmaHAWK:

Passionate people making passionate art! For those unaware, IsmaHAWK is the production team of Danny Shepherd and Jeremy Le who are as much fanboys of filmmaking as they are about a certain DC Comics character. In case it wasn’t clear, they’re big fans of Dick Grayson/Nightwing, former sidekick to the Dark Knight. And being the fans that they are, it didn’t take them long to realize that Nightwing has never really been given his due. Sure, Dick Grayson as the first Robin has been given plenty of attention, but outside of the comics and a few cartoon appearances, the guardian of Blüdhaven hasn’t exactly made a name for himself. IsmaHAWK, set out to rectify that.

Prior to the creation of Nightwing: The Series, the team created a five-minute short, Batman: Nightwing in which Nightwing faces off against Red Hood, a.k.a. Jason Todd. The video garnered enough attention and positive feedback that IsmaHAWK decided to take their love of Nightwing to the next level with a Kickstarter campaign for Nightwing: The Series, which was fully funded in February of last year. Over at Word of the Nerd I was fortunate enough to interview Danny, Jeremy, and fellow writer Mortimer Black on DC Confidential before the Kickstarter was fully funded and I’d encourage you to go back and listen to the episode since the trio were a blast to talk to and every bit as enthusiastic and excited about not just Nightwing but comics, movies, and geek culture in general.nightwing

Nightwing: The Series, as described by IsmaHAWK :

follows the adventures of Batman’s ex-sidekick, Robin. After a falling out with his former mentor, Dick Grayson aka Robin leaves Gotham City in order to create his own identity in the city of Blüdhaven . The series will delve a bit into Nightwing’s origins and flesh out the character. We hope to pull in new fans as well as appease and excite existing fans.

I can safely say that, based on the description of the series, the trailer doesn’t disappoint as we get glimpses of Dick Grayson/Nightwing (Danny Shepherd) possibly visiting his parents’ graves, the corrupt culture of Blüdhaven , a little weapons fabrication a la Batman Begins, Barbara Gordon, and from the look of it we’re going to get Nightwing vs. Red Hood Round 2!

Responses to the teaser trailer have been nothing but positive and the guys from IsmaHAWK couldn’t be happier. When I reached out to them for comment, they had this to say:

[We] just want to thank the supporters who believed in the project even when we really didn’t have anything to show for it at the time. We just hope that everyone enjoys watching it when it’s released as much as we enjoyed making it. We won’t let you down!

I don’t doubt it! Now that we’ve gotten a taste of what Nightwing: The Series will look like, all I can ask is where’s the first episode?!

If you want to keep up-to-date on the goings on for Nightwing: The Series, you can subscribe to IsmaHAWK’s YouTube Channel, follow Danny Shepherd and Jeremy Le, and like them on Facebook.

So I’m gonna play a little game here mostly because I haven’t written anything for this blog that isn’t some sort of In Memorium or a previous review. I apologize and there’s a perfectly good explanation for it…which I will probably be able to talk about in roughly two weeks. So stay tuned!Nightwing-Dead

Anyway, I thought I’d expand on an idea that came to me while recording DC Confidential over at Word of the Nerd. I don’t know when the episode will drop, but it’ll be linked here once it does. Suffice it to say, mid conversation about one of my favorite topics, Nightwing, I started speculating on one of the possible outcomes that could befall the former Robin in the wake of the Forever Evil crossover at DC Comics where Dick Grayson was unmasked to the world. DC isn’t shy about amping up the “Will Dick Grayson Die?” vibes that are coming off of this event either. It doesn’t help that Nightwing’s solo book was canceled and all advertisements concerning the Bat-family have suspiciously left him out…as far as we know.

So I thought I’d take a page out of DC’s old book and form an Elseworlds Tale of my own. For those who don’t know, the Elseworlds books were DC’s way of telling alternate reality stories about their characters without interfering with continuity. For example, Superman: Red Son is a really great Elseworlds book that I highly recommend. In the spirit of that, I thought I’d take a crack at how I think the aftermath of Forever Evil should play out for Nightwing.

For my money’s worth, I don’t think Dick’s gonna kick the bucket. The most recent issue of Forever Evil that came out today seems to confirm my suspicions, but I’ll leave that to you fine people to read the book. This article is all about the “What if?” scenario and fulfilling my own fangirlish notions of how a story could play out. Cool? Cool.

Nightwing_arrestedWith this in mind, where could Nightwing possibly end up? Let’s just say, for the purposes of this article, that in the wake of Forever Evil and Dick’s unmasking, he’d more than likely be arrested for vigilantism. He’s been breaking the law since he was 16, so he’d definitely be an easy scapegoat for those looking to reestablish law and order in a world that’s just been overrun with chaos. This would, more than likely, mean Dick gets thrown in Arkham Asylum, one of the many prisons in the DC Universe, or a newly constructed prison created due to how friggin’ easy it seemed to break everyone out of their respective facilities the last time. You could even make it an entire arc, “The Trial of Dick Grayson”, which could expand on justice, heroism, vigilantes, etc.

It would also be a way of diving further into the character of Dick Grayson. He’s always been a performer, going from the Flying Graysons to Robin to Nightwing (and briefly Batman, though don’t ask me where that falls in the five year timeline). Now that the world knows who he is and his alter ego, could he continue fighting crime? Should he continue fighting crime or has he earned a spot in prison alongside the people he put away? And if he’s no longer Nightwing the hero, but Dick Grayson, prisoner of Blackgate or Belle Reve or Arkham Asylum, then what does this mean regarding how he views himself?

For the sake of argument, let’s say Dick is still found guilty and sentenced to prison. Bruce tries to get him a lighter sentence, say house arrest, but the judge isn’t lenient. Remember, law and order, chaos, yadda, yadda, yadda. Dick’s sent to jail and finds himself amongst some familiar faces, but this is Nightwing, so he can adjust, right? Well, even someone as easygoing as Dick Grayson can have his bouts of depression and one could see him having a case of this and just when it really looks bleak, maybe after yet another fight in the cafeteria or the prison yard, someone comes to his cell for a visit.

Amanda Waller.amanda-waller-feat-image

Let’s be honest, if Dick Grayson was unmasked you’d have to be a complete idiot or extremely dense not to realize that Bruce Wayne is Batman. The fact that Lex Luthor of all people, who looked up who Dick Grayson was after he was unmasked, didn’t put two and two together either means he’s playing dumb or he really thinks 2+Z = chair. Anyway, Waller, armed with this information, offers Dick a deal. She keeps the information buried and promises no one will find out the identities of the rest of the Bat-family if Dick agrees to join Suicide Squad. She could use a guy with his skills to participate, or lead, the new team she’s formed. He gets the same deal as everyone else, one year of missions or whatever arbitrary number of missions Waller decides, then he’s released back into the world a free man. Lacking any real choice, but also seeing an opportunity to protect his family, Dick accepts. Knowing that Bruce would never accept his choice, Dick and Waller agree that the only way this will work is if they stage his “death” in prison. Bruce being Bruce, he’d also investigate the death of his oldest “son”, but Waller promises to keep him busy enough. Or, Bruce is in on it the whole time, but keeps it a secret from the rest of the Bat-Family.

red_x_by_jehuty23-d4ruq3bOnce the “death” has been staged, Dick takes on a new mantle in Suicide Squad. In fact, part of the story could be that he’s only referenced by this new identity so that the other villains don’t know it’s him. Dick being Dick, he eventually assumes a leadership role and even comes to sympathize and begrudgingly respect some of his other teammates. Or his animosity for some of them could run deeper. All the while, he’s using Waller to keep tabs on Bruce, Barbara, Tim, Jason…possibly Damian when he returns. There would probably be a mission or two that puts him at odds with his family and he has to fight them without hurting them while also not giving away that it’s him, which would mean changing his fighting style completely. It would be yet another opportunity to explore Dick Grayson’s character through the new identity. He’d essentially be trapped behind a new mask, unable to take it off unless he felt safe, which would be difficult considering he doesn’t trust anyone he’s working with. Amanda Waller would be the only person he could talk to who knows the truth and if we went with the angle of Bruce knowing, it would still be dangerous to contact him. But what if Dick starts to like being on Suicide Squad? Then he’d have to deal with the consequences of those feelings contrasting with everything he’s learned as Batman’s former partner and as a hero in his own right.

Like I said, just my version of how things could play out. It probably won’t happen that way, but I like to think a girl can dream…or write fan fiction.

But I’m curious to hear what others think? What do you think will be the fallout of Forever Evil for Nightwing? Will he live, die, or something else?

nightwing

robin_batgirl_batman

In honor of the 5th anniversary of the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, a friend of mine at the National Archives Motion Picture Preservation Lab, Heide Holstrom, did a write-up about the significance of the Fair Pay Act:

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 was the first piece of legislation signed by President Barack Obama. It updated the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which had made it illegal for employers to discriminate on the basis of sex when determining pay for employees doing the same work.

The 2009 Act resets the 180-day statute of limitations for filing an equal pay lawsuit each time a paycheck reflecting a discriminatory pay decision is issued. It was named for Lilly Ledbetter, whose equal-pay suit against her employer was dismissed by the Supreme Court because she had not filed it within 180 days of the discriminatory pay decision. Ledbetter says she was not aware of the pay discrepancy during that window of time.

To emphasize the importance and significance of this piece of legislation, the post included the 1973 Public Service Announcement (PSA) from the US Department of Labor Wage & Hour Division featuring Yvonne Craig reprising her role as Batgirl from the 1966 Batman television series to inform Batman and Robin that her job as a sidekick to Batman, the same job as Robin (Burt Ward reprising his role as well), meant she deserved equal pay. As Heidi later points out, even in 1973, ten years after Congress had passed the Equal Pay Act, women were still being paid less than their male counterparts. I mean, how else is a girl gonna pay for a rotating wall in a well-furnished apartment and keep up maintainance on a purple motorcycle on a librarian’s salary alone? Also, for shame millionaire Bruce Wayne! You’re a millionaire and your other sidekick lives with you! I think you could afford to pay Babs just as much, if not more than Dick. Now I know why Catwoman turned to a life of crime. It actually pays better.

So when you go out to buy your DVD/Blu-ray of the complete 1960’s Batman TV Series, or read DC Comics’ ongoing Batman ’66 digital-first book, remember that Batgirl ain’t getting paid as much as Robin. Kinda makes you wonder where Barbara was actually getting the money to support her crimefighting career.

Oh, and as a bonus because the ’73 PSA was clearly sans Mr. West, Heidi also included a 1966 PSA from the real Batman, Adam West, encouraging kids to buy war bonds for the Vietnam War.

Obviously it’s not the first time superheroes have been utilized to encourage patriotism in kids through purchasing war bonds, but I’ll be damned if West doesn’t sell the hell out it with his sincerity. Also gotta love the poster taped to the Bat-cave wall!

If you want to see more of what’s at the National Archives Special Media Archives Services Division, and I know you do, check out their blog. You never know when something special can turn up in the Archives.

Yes, I know, shameless plug, but I make no apologies. Until then, kids, same Bat-time, same Bat-channel!

batman_superman_logo_by_balsavor-d3lkxihSince the announcement of Superman/Batman or Superman vs. Batman, or whatever you want to call it for now, at San Diego Comic-Con in July, the movie has been hounded by rumors and speculation from the moment two of the most iconic symbols in comic book history joined on screen. Following the buzz and excitement of SDCC, Warner Bros. announced, and director Zack Snyder confirmed, that Ben Affleck would be playing a world-weary and more experienced Dark Knight in contrast to Henry Cavill’s newly minted Superman. While the “World’s Finest” pairing seemed to be enough to get us excited at the prospects of an actual DC Cinematic Universe coming together, the rumor mill continues to be in full swing with the ongoing speculation that the Superman/Batman movie, slated to be released in 2015, will also feature the third member of the DC Comics Trinity, Wonder Woman.

WB has yet to confirm the rumors, but a casting call plus a variety of actresses reading for the filmmakers who fit the description of said casting call, continue to fuel the idea that Wonder Woman will appear in the movie. There’s also a separate casting call for “Bruce Wayne’s love interest” that overlaps description-wise, leading many to believe that they’re one and the same. We could very well see Batman and Wonder Woman dating. Yay? But, again, all of this is simply rumor and speculation. Nothing’s been confirmed. Selina Kyle could be the “love interest” for all we know or it could be a made up character like Rachel Dawes in The Dark Knight Trilogy. The Wonder Woman rumors persist, however, because 1) fans have been clamoring for a Wonder Woman movie since the idea of a shared cinematic universe entered our collective lexicon and 2) because Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara stated very clearly that Wonder Woman needed to be “on the big screen or TV.” All of these rumors and news pieces have coalesced into a shared reality in which the announcement is all but inevitable that Wonder Woman will stand alongside Superman and Batman.

But in what capacity?

I am Wonder WomanThe rumors of how substantial Wonder Woman’s appearance in Superman/Batman could be range from cameo to quasi-supporting role, none of which is set in stone because we know absolutely nothing at this point. With nothing confirmed, we’re all at liberty to speculate on what an appearance by Wonder Woman in the movie means for the character and the DC Cinematic Universe. Personally, if it’s only a cameo, I’d rather they left her out.

Put the pitch forks down and quell your cries of, “But, Sam, you’re the one who’s been screaming the loudest about Wonder Woman! Isn’t this what you want?” Do I want Wonder Woman featured in a movie? Yes, but I want her featured in her own movie or, at the very least, as a major player in an ensemble cast. One of the biggest problems with the way in which Warner Bros. has been approaching their DC properties is they’ve been trying to play catch-up to Marvel Studios. Prior to the release of Man of Steel, Warner Bros. had all but sealed the deal on making Justice League immediately after so they’d have a contender for Avengers 2: Age of Ultron. Wisely, they nixed the idea in favor of a gradual approach, taking half a page from Marvel’s book by confirming Superman/Batman with The Flash possibly coming to the big screen in 2016 followed by Justice League in 2017. We being the fan base that we are immediately noticed the absence of a Wonder Woman movie despite her being the third most recognizable character of the Justice League and, again, one-third of DC’s Trinity. So the rumors of her “appearing” in Superman/Batman are slightly problematic given the purpose of cameos in superhero movies.

Allow me to explain.Hawkeye2-avengers

Marvel has become famous, or infamous, for their end credit stingers either acting as the lead-in to the next Marvel Studio film or to give the audience a brief teaser of what’s to come. Nick Fury showing up at the end of Iron Man is an example of the former, Thanos appearing at the end of The Avengers is the latter. Then there are the in-film cameos used as a way to connect the films within the same universe or establish a character for the briefest of moments in order to justify their presence in an up-coming film. Nick Fury at the end of Captain America, Tony Stark in The Incredible Hulk, and Clint Barton/Hawkeye in Thor being the best examples. Notice that these cameos are short. Only a scene before the plot of the movie resumes or, in Nick Fury’s case in Captain America, ends. It’s a shout-out, but it isn’t substantial. Is this really what we want for Wonder Woman? What does a cameo in Superman/Batman serve except for us to go, “Hey, that’s Wonder Woman!” before the plot of the movie moves along without her?

Now I know what you’re going to say next, “But, Sam, they’re probably just trying to establish her in the universe. It’s a set-up for her movie.” If that was confirmed on any level, then I would be right there with you. I would be okay with a cameo from Wonder Woman in Superman/Batman if that meant the next movie was Wonder Woman. I want to be very clear on that. Unfortunately, Warner Bros. has been dragging their feet for so long about the very notion of Wonder Woman having a tv show or movie that I’m not holding out any hope for such a gift. Unless I see a statement issued from Warner Bros. along the lines of, “Oh, yeah, Wonder Woman is totes getting her own movie after Bats vs. Supes!” (and I want it worded just like that), I’m not giving them the benefit of the doubt. A Wonder Woman cameo has to mean something because, unlike Hawkeye at Marvel, Wonder Woman is a bigger deal in terms of DC’s pantheon.

Nightwing-1There’s also been a rumor circulating that Dick Grayson/Nightwing will have a cameo in Superman/Batman, complete with an actor already rumored to be up for the role, which, I’m not gonna lie, actually makes more sense. Considering we’ll now have a 40-something Batman in operation, it’s not out of the question that he’d have taken on a sidekick at some point who’s, as of the movie’s timeline, in his early twenties operating on his own. In this case, Dick Grayson is the equivalent of Hawkeye. By including him (if he’s even in the movie), it only serves to set him up for the inevitable Batman solo movie Affleck will helm in the future. It establishes a character that will require minimal explanation later on. Nightwing is an A-lister by comic book standards, but he isn’t integral to the initial foundation of the DC Cinematic Universe. Wonder Woman is essential to the DC Cinematic Universe. I very much see Nightwing going the way of Hawkeye, though probably with a more favorable outcome. Hawkeye appeared briefly in Thor, got a slightly bigger supporting role (though not by much) in The Avengers, but he’s all but disappeared from Marvel’s Phase II except for his role in Avengers 2. Nightwing will, at best, reach a featured supporting status as the movies progress, but he may be a long way off from a movie of his own.

I see you’re all pointing to Black Widow, Agent Coulson, and Nick Fury. Okay, let’s look at how Marvel has treated these characters who’ve gotten larger roles in the context of Marvel’s Phase I movies. Natasha Romanov/Black Widow was shoehorned into Iron Man 2 in a quasi-supporting role to justify her existence in The Avengers. She’s now playing second fiddle to Captain America in Captain America 2: The Winter Solider but there are no plans in place, as of yet, for a Black Widow movie. Agent Phil Coulson has always been a supporting player in the grand scheme of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but his role has only grown by small jumps due to the need for a consistent presence representing S.H.I.E.L.D. and the character’s popularity. Now he’s the leader of an ensemble cast on a network television show. Make of that what you will. Nick Fury, like Coulson, has always been a supporting role. He’s a catalyst and antagonistic presence for many of the heroes, certainly, but the closest we’re getting to a Nick Fury movie is the one made for television starring David Hasselhoff from 1998. For now, at least.

To be fair, this is how Marvel has been going about treating their supporting characters. It is in no way a sign that Warner Bros. will go the same route, but it serves as a reminder that even supporting characters with larger roles don’t necessarily get their due. If Wonder Woman gets a cameo, then the next time she’ll most likely appear is in The Justice League, meaning she’ll have to fight for screen time with at least four other heroes and a villain. We can only hope that she’d get a movie after that, but does that do the character any favors? Why would you needlessly have to build up interest in a character people are already interested in? You know who didn’t have to get cameos or supporting roles in order to get their own movie? Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Iron Man, The Hulk, Thor, and Captain America.Trinity of DC

Let’s say, though, for the sake of argument, that Wonder Woman is not only in Superman/Batman, but she also plays a supporting role in the movie. I would hope it’s not just as “Batman’s girlfriend”, but that’s a whole other issue for another day. Why not go ahead and slap the Wonder Woman symbol on top of Superman and Batman? We know who Superman is because of Man of Steel and there isn’t a goddamm person on the planet who doesn’t know who the goddamm Batman is by now. All Ben Affleck has to do is show up. This clears up a lot of room to bring Wonder Woman into the fold without shortchanging anyone. She’s sharing the spotlight with Superman and Batman, but she’s also a major player, making The Justice League movie less about introducing the leftover heroes and more about diving into the plot. It also gives Wonder Woman enough screen time with other heroes that audiences would be chomping at the bit to see her in a solo film.

This is all speculation and, if I’m honest, wishful thinking. I was of two minds about writing this article mostly because even to me it feels like I’m either contradicting myself or coming across as someone who’ll never be satisfied with anything Warner Bros. does with the character. I want the DC Cinematic Universe to flourish like Marvel. I want a Justice League movie and a Justice League Dark movie, hell I’ve been pushing for a Fourth World movie since they put Justice League and Darkseid back on the table. But there needs to be a solid foundation and Wonder Woman is a part of that. For me, a cameo just isn’t going to do her justice.