Tag Archives: Batman v Superman

Batman v Superman – 6 Days to Go until Batman Punches Superman in his Smug Face

john sorensen bvs batman tshirt batblog numberonebatfan.jpg

There is only six sexy days to go until Batman v Superman hits cinemas here in Australia.

Wearing this sweet black and white Batman shirt this week reminded me of how close it is.

While I’m super excited to see my main man Batman on the big screen again, I do feel like I’ve already seen a little too much of the film in the trailers. With yet another trailer released showing even more footage of the film, I decided simply not to watch it.

I’d like there to be at least some surprises when I watch BVS for the first time. It feels less like Batman v Superman at this point and more like the launching point for the inevitable JLA / Justice League movie coming down the line.

When BVS was first announced we knew nothing, then it had announcement after announcement, feeding rumors and speculation on the internet in a mad frenzy of anticipation and predictions. Eventually it morphed into the smorgasbord it is now. They threw in Wonder Woman (hooray!) and Lex Luthor (do we really need him?) they announced Aquaman (lame) but then they cast one of the manliest men on the planet – Jason Momoa.

As a fan of Stargate SG-1 and SG-Atlantis, I feel there is nobody better qualified on the planet to play Aquaman than Jason Momoa. I was genuinely excited to see them take traditionally one of the lamest and least liked of the JLA pantheon and actually make him cool.

I’ll keep this post nice and short, as I don’t see the point in talking about a movie until after I have seen it. I guess it’s something that is important to me. You can speculate all day, and sure it’s fun to talk with friends about the flick. But I don’t really want to write a damn word about it until after I have seen it.

And as big as BVS will be, it’s just a drop in the big bucket of Batman.

Batman is bigger than any comic book series, any movie, animation, video game or merchandise.

The focus of my blog always has and always will be on that timeless mythical archetypal Baman that transcends any one genre, that transcends any one medium. I’m happy to cover Batman from any medium, but I like the distance of time that gives us perspective on what is truly great and worth talking about in 70+ years of Batman history.

Some people seem to be giving Zack Snyder shit about BVS for his choices.

“It’s too dark, it’s too cynical, it’s too this, not enough of that”

I say it is important for any director to have a unique vision, and to captivate with their story, and for the two hours of so they have your hostage  in that cinema, they have to make those characters their own and make you want to care about them. And so far, Snyder has impressed the hell out of me with his cinematic action style. Snyder’s style is unique, over the top and great fun. Just what I want from a comic book movie. I’ve been a fan since his Dawn of the Dead remake, and loved 300 so much I had to see it twice on the big screen.

sucker-punch-cast 1 zack snyder movie

I will say Snyder understands characters and motivation, and has a great visual style and flair – but he can’t write for shit. Take a look at Sucker Punch if you don’t believe me. It’s his only film to date where he directed and wrote the story, rather than directing with someone else writing. I wanted to love that film, on paper it was his most superhero comic-book like film so far. And it was an all women super-hero team. It was like a mix of Avengers and the Dirty Dozen. It was like the best bits of Charlie’s Angels and Kill Bill on steroids.

Neither DC nor Marvel has given us anything like that on the big or little screen. The most similar thing is the upcoming Suicide Squad – which is a mostly male cast. So in that way Zack Snyder is kind of visionary and ahead of his time. Sure it was a rubbish movie, but it had some good points, and I believe he put his blood sweat and tears into that movie. With better writers, I believe it would have been something special.

I’m sure we will eventually get another all girl superhero team on the big screen, and it will be good. And whoever makes it will look at Sucker Punch and see the mistakes that were made and learn from them.

flash supergirl tv

Well, if you’ll excuse me I have more articles to write and some cool Batman Podcasts to listen to. I’ve been getting into the DC Superhero shows on TV finally, after not watching any of them. Flash kicks ass, but Supergirl is my current favourite TV show.

Not my favourite comic-book show. Just favourite TV show, period. I believe this new Supergirl show if the definitive version of Supergirl in the best possible way. She’s had some shabby treatment in the comics over the decades, and always plays second fiddle to the JLA and other DC icons. DC killed her off right around the time she had a big movie in the 80’s. Way to build up your female icons DC!

I’m sure fans were  confident they would see more Supergirl movies  after this Crisis on Infinite Earths cover  appeared in the mid eighties.

dc crisis cover death of supergirl 1

Free of the shadow of  Superman and the DC Universe, it is truly Supergirl’s time to shine. The crossover announcement with the Flash TV show had me practically wetting my pants in anticipation.

If you love those DC shows, and I know you do, well at least some you – then I urge you to read my favourite kick-ass mega blog of awesomeness on the internet Girl on Comic Book World, where Nav talks about the wonderful DC Universe TV shows (and films) in brilliant insightful articles on a regular basis. She’s a big fan of both Batman and Superman and has loads of great articles on those characters and the BVS film. Check them out. You’ll be glad you did.

Girloncomicbookworld.com

girl on comic book world front page 1.jpg

 

 

Batman v Superman vs the JLA vs Captain America Civil War – Let’s Go to the Movies!

Batman_Superman_Wonder_Woman_Trinity Matt Wagner art

There is still around six months to go until the cinematic release of Batman v Superman, and already the hype machine has kicked into overdrive, and anticipation for the film from fans is at a fever pitch.

No matter where I look online, people are hungrily devouring even the slightest scrap of information about the film.

Ben Affleck rumoured to be on a set somewhere? A million hits.

Ben Affleck takes a dump! Two million hits.

Ben Affleck with his shirt off while taking a dump on a movie set that POSSIBLY MIGHT be related to Batman?!!?

A BILLION GA-JILLION hits!

batman battfleck on toilet batman superman

Fans are also predicting which will be the bigger film at the box office…

Batman v Superman or Captain America: Civil War.

Normally it would be a no contest. BVS would be the clear winner at the box office.

batman v superman vs Civil War Captain America Marvel DC 2016

However…

We’ve already seen two Avengers movies, and two Captain America movies. Both of which made good money. Both films now have legions of fan salivating for more. But any way you look at it, it is more of the same.

Except the part where Civil War is about Marvel heroes fighting each other. We have not yet seen that as the main plot of a Marvel film.

Sure every Marvel film has arguments and petty squabbles, but we are talking about fundamental disagreements in core values here. Funnily enough, that is the core of both Civil War and Batman v Superman – philosophical differences that lead to the inevitable punch fest.

Batman v Superman by contrast to Marvel’s films so far is something we have not already seen (except for the Dark Knight Returns comic book of course).

Marvel so far has had a fantastic run of films and its cinematic universe has been a big success.

But BVS is not just about Batman and Superman, we have Wonder Woman as the third main character, and the film is the launching point not only for a new Batman film, but the long anticipated JLA film and the entire DC cinematic Universe.

BVS is the equivalent to Marvel’s Iron Man in that the launching point that DC / WB hopes to launch its cinematic connected universe from.

The difference is that nobody expected Iron Man to be so damn good. Iron Man was a real crowd pleaser that did well with fans, the critics and even your Mom and Dad. In contrast EVERYBODY expects BVS to do well. No, better than that. Some predictions say that BVS will out gross Marvel’s first Avengers flick.

The danger in so much hype, in so much anticipation and expectations for one single film (BVS) is that by the time the official JLA film rolls around, will the non-geek crowd care? Even your grandmother has heard of Batman and Superman,
but how many non comic readers know who the Justice League are? Iron Man was fortunate to not suffer from too many expectations. Hell I didn’t even like Iron Man before Robert Downey steeped into that goofy metal suit.

JLA is a tough sell despite featuring so many iconic DC characters. But the Avengers were not that well
known before Marvel’s film to the general public.

While Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman have been around since the 1940’s, Marvel’s Avengers (and the JLA) have only been around since the 1960’s.

Brave and Bold 28 JLA first appearance

The JLA first appeared in The Brave and the Bold #28 (1960). They are as old as the Avengers, but other
than Flash and Green Lantern, the rest of the JLA is a tough sell to the modern public. Batman and Superman get their own movie, and we all know who they are anyway. The challenge is selling every JLA member who is not Superman, Batman or Wonder Woman. Green Lantern had a crap film, while Flash is on to his second live action TV show in the last 30 years.

incredible hulk tv show thor stan lee daredevil marvel

Avengers had public name recognition for Hulk and Thor, both of whom have been on Hulk television several decades ago, along with Daredevil. Although most people won’t remember or be aware of Thor and Daredevil being part of the Hulk TV show and TV movie.

Captain America has featured in previous movies (laughably bad movies at that) and ancient serials, before the modern Marvel films with Chris Evans arrived on the scene.

Captain America movie serial
“HAVE AT THEE YOU RAPSCALLION!”

The Justice League by contrast are still relatively unknown. The JLA may have featured in numerous cartoons and animated movies, and be mega-superstars to comic fans old and new – but most non-comic reading adults have still never heard of them.

There is no “live action” mainstream TV precedent for the JLA like we had with the Lou Ferrigno Hulk, the Lynda Carter Wonder Woman or the George Reeves Superman. There have been numerous DC JLA cartoons, but mostly only kids watch them, non-comic reading adults don’t know a whole lot about them other than seeing action figures at the toy store etc.

The Justice League of America (or more often just “Justice League”) had predecessors in the superhero team of the JSA.

The Justice Society of America are DC Golden Age Royalty. You had Wonder Woman, the original Green Lantern (Alan Scott) the original Flash (Jay Garrick), there was Wildcat, Hourman, Sandman, Black Canary, Atom, Doctor Mid-Nite, The Spectre, Hawkman, Dr. Fate and more. These characters formed DC’s first premier super-team.

Later versions of some of these JSA characters would go on to be in various incarnations of the Justice League such as Hawkman and Wonder Woman. While the JSA were mostly forgotten for a number of years, they made a come back in the modern era thanks to fan favourite uber-writer Geoff Johns (known for his fantastic Green Lantern run, among other things).

If the JLA movie is a hit, we may yet see a Justice Society film, it only makes sense. Whether it would be it’s own brand, or simply have more of the JSA characters incorporated into the JLA #2 and JLA#3 is anybodies guess.

Justice_Society_of_America_group pic expanded roster
Sadly more people want to see more of “Full House” than the JSA.

The JLA as a film I.P. have been in development hell for around 20 years, and now finally they have passed “GO”. They pulled a “get out of jail free” card from their collective asses, the actors are lined up to star in the JLA and spin-off films.

However we have yet to see whether JLA will truly be DC’s cinematic equivalent of the Avengers at the box office in dollars and cultural impact, and whether the general public connect with the characters like they did with Marvel’s family of characters.

Marvel has its “grand vision” and plays their movies more for fun, while DC has the “we’re super serious so don’t fuck with us” attitude and grim tone that Nolan and Snyder have established.

Avengers as a film does not pretend to be art or cinema, it just promises you a fun day out at the movies on a Saturday. DC films want to be taken seriously as “cinema” something the buying public does not give two shakes of a dead sidekick about.

Justice League 1 NEW 52 Geoff Johns Jim Lee
We’re on the road to nowhere (…come on inside)

It makes sense for the next Batman Battfleck film and Batman v Superman to be grim films, as it suits the character of Batman.

But what will the tone of the JLA film be?

Will it super serious and relentlessly grim, all flash and style, but little substance? Will it be another pseudo-existentialist film as Man of Steel attempted, but ultimately failed to be?

If there are two lessons that the DC can learn from Marvel (or that WB studios can learn from Marvel Studios) they are:

1: Create an awesome shared universe that people love and want to talk about, that you can launch other I.P from.
2: Have fun along the way.

Avengers_Vol_1_1
AVENGERS = F.U.N.

I go to the movies to have fun, not to be depressed.

So while I am super-eyes-bulging-out-of-my-head-psyched for Batman v Superman next year, I hope that DC / WB does not make all their films the same tone, I feel that would be a big mistake.

I look forward to the first DC superhero comedy down the line.

Maybe it will be Plastic Man or Justice League International era Booster Gold and Blue Beetle in an 80’s set movie.

How good would that be? I don’t even LIKE those characters. But in the right hands it would could be a fun day out at the movies. Give it to Edgar Wright or another director/writer who can write hilarious dialogue.

My favourite version of Justice League International also sometimes had Batman as their leader. JLI was a laugh out loud funny comic that was closer in tone Marvel’s Avengers or Guardians of the Galaxy movies and it would make a FANTASTIC film if you ask me.

I hope the JLA movies do gangbusters at the box office, and I hope we see many more DCU live action films of exceptional high quality, that spin-off the likely success of JLA and BVS.

But please don’t let them ALL be super serious and grim!

**This is my 50th post here on this “Batfan on Batman” Batman Blog which has been around for over a year now  – so take a second to put your hands in the air like you just don’t care!**

Justice-League.v1.1 giffen DeMatties
Yes… Yes I do you loser Guy Gardner, I can’t wait till that bit where Batman punchess in your smug face….. it’s coming soon.

‘Batfleck’ Ben and Star Wars

One thing I like about Marvels Avengers movie is the lack of cynicism.

Both Man of Steel and The Dark Knight while enjoyable films have a hard edged cynical feel to them, that don’t exactly scream “fun” or “comic book” to an audience.

It is fair to say that Man of Steel and The Dark Knight and the forthcoming Batman v Superman are films that while taking inspiration from comic books, want to be taken seriously as grim realistic movies, or at least as realistic and depressing as cartoonish movies can be with a man who dresses up like a bat and an alien space Jesus in tights.

In contrast Marvels Avengers and Iron Man films are not afraid be what they are – big bombastic fun comic book movies.  Emphasis on fun. Most people don’t go to the cinema to feel miserable, they want to feel good and have fun at the movies as a respite from their daily lives.

Avengers movie illustration

Personally, I love to see fresh new interpretations of Batman.

Each time Batman has a great new creator team making some enjoyable comic book stories I get excited.  I get super jump out-of-your-skin excited when any new Batman project is announced.  A comic, a game, a new film or animated series, I love it all.  No matter how many projects DC do, each time I still get excited.

And yet, as an adult I am far more critical of any Batman adaptation than when I was a kid and indiscriminately consumed whatever media was thrown my way with joyful glee.

Becoming more discriminating in the media I choose to consume and enjoy can be a sign of maturity, but it can also be a sign of a world weary soul who complains about every new project BEFORE it is even completed.

When I ask myself what is the point of getting emotionally invested in some new movie or cartoon I have not seen, and so really can have no accurate view on, well what is the point?  It is pointless.  Most films, cartoons and video games I like to know a fair bit about before investing my time in them.

Batfleck Ben and Jen

But with Batman, I don’t want to know too much and have my view coloured by other people to the point that it prevents me from enjoying something.  I will watch any Batman film, period.  Even if it is shit.  I want to like any Batman film that comes along.  I will give any animated show a fair shot before writing it off.

Take for example the Batman: Brave and the Bold cartoon.  I watched a clip when it first aired and found the show to be camp, silly, annoying and childish. It was too much like Adam West Batman for my tastes.  Imagine my surprise years later when I took another look at the show to discover it is absolutely brilliant, and one of best animated shows DC has ever created.  Brave and the Bold even manages to have some of the most emotionally affecting Batman stories ever told in any medium, and it is a cartoon intended for children that just happened to sneak in great stories and nods to fifties DC Comics.

There is a real danger (well danger is too strong a word, but you get my drift) that as fans we become world weary and cynical and overly opinionated about our favourite fictional characters and worlds.  Some fans start to even have too strong a voice thanks to the internet, even potentially interfering with the creative process by making a hullabaloo about not very much at all.

I personally feel that any artist in any medium is only accountable to themselves to create the vision they had intended

Whenever I read a criticism of say a film that “didn’t do this, and didn’t do that”, I pause and reflect, thinking, well, did the writer/director intend for the film to be what YOU wanted it to be, or did they intend for it be what THEY wanted it to be.

It seems sometimes we are willfully ignorant.  If we don’t like a particular artist, writer, director or whatever, we the audience of loud mouthed reactionary idiots (a.k.a. fans) can choose not to interact with whatever media they create.  Nobody is forcing us to consume their intellectual product!

If you don’t the vision a certain director or writer has in an adaptation of something you like, well then don’t bloody well watch it.  Don’t watch something you hate just so you can go online and bitch about it like a whiny little spoilt kid.  That is giving in to the dark side of the force my friend!  Not in a cool Darth Vader way, just a really pathetic and sad waste of life energy that COULD have been used to do something worthwhile.

Times likes these, I ask myself, WWBD?  What Would Batman Do?  Go online and whinge like a little baby, or go out into the world and do something, however big or small to make a difference.  Would Batman spend his efforts complaining about how the world is, or invest his efforts in creating a better word?

drunk superman ben affleck as george reeves vs Batfleck Batman
Superman flies better when he is drunk

It boggles my mind why any fan would mindlessly watch a film or play a video game purely because it is based on something that at one point in their life they enjoyed, but now seem to get a perverse kind of joy out of vocally hating and being miserable about every new incarnation of their favourite character or fictional world. (Wait, didn’t I just say something earlier like I would watch ANY Batman film…..)

Two examples that come to mind are Star Wars and Ben Affleck.

Did you groan at the mere mention of those words?

Affleck is NOT who I would pick for being Batman. But hey I don’t run a film studio, and nobody is asking me.

Ben Affleck being announced as Batman was not something I was enthusiastic about

However, I don’t have anything against the guy, I give him the benefit of the doubt that I will watch the film then form an opinion about it.  The vocal minority who skew the perspective of geeks world wide with their endless ranting, bitching, pissing and moaning and spewing copious amounts of nonsensical bile and venom is a really UGLY phenomenon that I want nothing to do with.

When I hear someone mention the word “geek” I think of people who are passionate about their pop-culture or whatever they are in to.  The ugly side of geeks it is when the fans think they own the Intellectual Property and try and dictate to the film studios and character creators and writers how they feel it “should be”.

Love or hate Ben Affleck, it makes no difference to my life whatsoever.  If you enjoy the Batman v Superman film– great. If not, there is always another Batman film right around the corner, we are in no danger of running out of Batman films in the next one hundred years, chances are you will like at least one of them.  And whether B v S is brilliant or a right load of old cobblers, what difference will it make ten years from now?  Life will go on.

Detective Comics 590 cover
I like my Batman dark, brooding and Gothic thank you

The Star Wars prequel issue had a bit more teeth to it.  At least people actually WATCHED the films, then started ranting, raving and foaming at the mouth about the things they didn’t like in Episode 1.  To be fair, Jar Jar Binks was a stupid and irritating character that most of us want to forget ever existed.

I am not a Star Wars fan, (I like it, I know it well, just not enough to be a fan will all the cool toys etc) but frankly I would happily pay for a version with Jar Jar Binks edited out of Episode 1: The Phantom Menace or at least have him him be relatively mute for the majority of the film.  For me, that character does ruin a food portion of an otherwise enjoyable film.  But the rest of the insane over reactions that George Lucas was somehow ruining people’s childhood by making the Star Wars prequel films was childish lunacy.

There is a danger once any art or intellectual property that reaches a mass audience, that the I.P. starts to be dictated to by the audience that consumes it in a serpent eating its own tail fashion.  A film studio or a comic book writer can do target market research and get good input back from fans, that sort of thing makes sense.

In a healthy creative cycle the creator has some awareness of the audiences expectations, reactions and what they love and hate about a particular intellectual property. But the moment that fans start dictating to the creators what they should be creating, the whole creative process falls apart.

When a company or publisher (or fans) dictates to the artist / writer what they should be doing, the creative process falls apart

The only thing an artist in any field whatsoever owes is to follow their unique creative vision, and be true to that vision.  If they are doing work for hire, there may be an outline and rules to follow, that is a given.

And if fans feel so strongly that they don’t like what a particular artist is doing, rather than wasting energy in a pointless endeavor to be little dictators intent on changing what the artist creates, instead they could take that same energy and passion, and go create something themselves.

They could go and create something and start their own conversation in the arena of public consumable entertainment.  That is at least part of the real reason I feel that some fans get so foamed up at the mouth like rabid dogs, they are jealous of those who create and contribute something (however meaningful or trivial) to the world.

Young kid anakin skywalker

I want to say to anyone in any medium, good on you for creating something, ANYTHING.  Congratulations on living the dream and getting off your ass and doing something.  Whether it is writing a movie script, drawing an awesome piece or art, writing books or fan blogs, contributing to a pop culture website or building dioramas or whatever the hell you are into. Paid or unpaid, career or hobby – it doesn’t matter, when you do what you love time just melts away and like minded people will enjoy your work.

Let those creative juices flow, the more you create, the more satisfied you are.  Creating something, sticking with a project through all the difficulties and seeing it through to the end takes real concentration, passion and a little Barry White style staying power.

I have zero wisdom to impart in this post.  It is just a random brain fart / rant that I felt like sharing.  I like to bitch and moan as much as the next dude about shit that I care about and want to see done right. But what is “right” is just my opinion, and I may be wrong.  Don’t expect to see too much of this sort of thing on my Batman Blog, as I prefer to spend 90% of my attention and efforts concentrating on what is right with the world, and what I love (and who I love) in life.  I just feel better that way.

It is easy to be a moaner and complainer and be really cynical, I did it for years.  But it is also a really in-authentic way to live.  Batman is the most honest and authentic guy around (excusing the whole dual identity thing of course), so if I am REALLY a fan of Batman, then I am going to live the most authentic life I know how.  That means facing up to problems in life rather than running away from them, and like our man Gandhi, being the change you want to see in the world, rather than sitting on the fence telling other people what they “should” be doing or not doing.

Lord_Darth_Vader_674x600

Well… if there is a lesson to be learned perhaps it is don’t give into hate, hate leads to fear, fear leads to hate and the dark side of the force or some such nonsense Yoda said in the Star Wars prequels.  I watched the Star Wars prequels last week with my girlfriend (who had never seen them).

Moments in the first two prequel films are pretty cringe-worthy, but that third film, wow!  Also, my girlfriend is obsessed with Ben Affleck, so I guess that is why I ended up mixing these two topics together in my mind.

The final transformation of young Anakin into ultimate bad ass dark side of the force chokes his own subordinates Darth Vader was hell impressive.  Beautiful little free spirited and inventive Anakin Skywalker turning into the cold remorseless unfeeling all time no good son of a gun Darth Vader is nothing less than genuinely heart breaking.
I still really enjoy that third film, but episodes IV, V an VI still kick the ass of the prequel films, they are like bottled lightning, destined to never be repeated.

Well, as Stan Lee was fond of proclaiming…

‘Nuff said.

Superman’s Pal Bruce Wayne Confesses: Why I Love to Wear My Underwear on the Outside…

Deep down, Clark is essentially a good person… and deep down, I’m not – Bruce Wayne/Batman

 Worlds Finest 27

Batman has been connected to Superman from the very beginning.

Batman’s  origins began with the loss of his parents while Superman’s origins began with the gain of his new adoptive parents.

Superman too lost his birth parents, but he was a baby then and never truly knew them.

Growing up with Ma and Pa Kent from Kansas, Superman was loved and adored.

Batman too was loved by his parents Thomas and Martha Wayne.

Somewhere between the ages of 8-10 years old (depending on who is restarting the DC universe this week) his parents were cruelly gunned down in an alleyway outside a theater.  Bruce Wayne knows the pain of loss deeper than Clark can through direct experience.

Alfred looked after Bruce after he lost his parents, so Bruce was never truly alone.  But the loss of any loved one, especially our parents can leave psychological scars that last a lifetime.  Bruce led a privileged life, and while technically an orphan, he was never without a primary caregiver, and lead a pampered life of privilege.

Clark lost his entire planet, Kryptonian civilization and race of people, but his pain was more of an existential angst than deep personal suffering.  Superman grew up in Kansas and later moved to Metropolis – the city of light where he would become a god among men under earth’s yellow sun, and yet struggle to relate to the every day man and woman.

Worlds-Best-Comics-1-1941 (2)

Batman was created as a direct response to the gosh darn swell sales of the Big Red and Blue Cheese, and has been linked to his spiritual brother ever since his inception.

While Superman is the sun god from Smallville in a brightly coloured heroic costume that recalls the american flag and protective roles like policemen (and women), Batman is the grim avenger, the antithesis of Superman.  The original Batman was depicted in black, or black and grey.  Black being the colour traditionally worn by villains in Hollywood films and pulp fiction.

Both characters in their original incarnations wore the old “underwear on the outside”, a definite fashion faux pas in DC’s post-52 brave new world of heroes and villains, where they have been retrofitted with long pants/tights minus the overshorts or “man bloomers”.

Batman Eternal_1 Cropped_226x240Superman Unchained_Cropped_180x240

In the 1940s, superheroes such as Batman and Superman and their Justice Society Contemporaries Hawkman, The Spectre, and Dr. Fate wore their underwear on the outside for a different reason.  The connotation in that era was not bad fashion sense but related to old time strongmen, wrestlers and acrobats, many of whom were well known for putting on shows for the public.

Rather what was implied in the visual iconography of the underoos on the outside was pure physical strength and athleticism above the average mortal.

Saxon Detectice Comics Batman Origin Weight Lift Single Panel

Old time strongmen such as Eugen Sandow or Arthur Saxon [Saxon pictured above next to Bruce Wayne] would often wear their undersized briefs to show off their muscularity during public displays of strength.  They also might wear the underzised underoos for publicity photos or photos in mail order courses teaching their methods of strength training.

Old time wrestlers, particularly the show wrestlers that preceded the modern day spectacle of the NWA, WWF, WWE, WCW, ECW, TNA and other similar leagues would often wear tight shorts or briefs over top of their stockings, as the stockings tended to be see through and would slip around as they wrestled.  The tight little shorts they wore were not really underwear, but closer to modern day swimwear, it just looked like underwear because it was so tight and form fitting.

In the modern era UFC fighters often wear very form fitting tight shorts that don’t hinder their movements, particularly kicks and arm bars among other common techniques.  Loose fitting shorts would only hinder their techniques, or get caught on things, causing the fight to be stopped so somebody could fix their shorts, which is not only time wasting, but pretty embarrassing for the fighter.  Whatever the profession, a male character wearing small shorts implies a man of action and athleticism.

Worlds Finest 18_431x600

Circus performers such as strongmen, acrobats and flying trapeze artists were also known to wear the old underoos on outside.  The crossover of this visual iconography is probably most relatable through Batman’s apprentice Robin, who was formerly a trapeze artist before swearing an oath to war on criminals alongside Batman.  Robin’s superhero costume is not far removed from his trapeze artist costume.

So whether wrestlers, weight lifters, strongmen or circus performers the connotation of the little shorts over top of tights on Superman and Batman immediately suggests a figure of above average strength, power and grace.  The addition of the chest logo “S” or chevron on Superman was a further indicator of a person of good moral character.  A champion of the people, a modern era Hercules in the case of Superman.  The bright primary colours, chest insignia and acrobatic outfit came to symbolise the Superhero quite literally as well as symbolically.  In Peter Coogan’s book Superhero: The Secret Origin of a Genre he delves into the often confusing distinctions of what defines a SUPER-hero as opposed to pulp characters, science heroes, dual identity characters and masked adventurers.

Worlds Finest 36

“The difference between Superman and earlier figures such as the Shadow or Doc Savage lies in the element of identity central to the superhero, the costume. Although Superman was not the first costumed hero, his costume marks a clear and striking departure from those of the pulp heroes. A pulp hero’s costume does not emblematize the character’s identity. The slouch hat, black cloak, and red scarf of the Shadow or the mask and fangs of the Spider disguise their faces but do not proclaim their identities. Superman’s costume does, particularly through his “S” chevron.  Similarly, Batman’s costume proclaims him a bat man, just as Spider-Man’s webbed costume proclaims him a spider man. These costumes are iconic representations of the superhero identity.

Color plays an important role in the iconicity of the superhero costume. In his chapter on color, [in Scott McCloud’s ‘Understanding Comics’] McCloud shows the way the bright, primary colors of superhero comics are “less than expressionistic,”

but therefore more iconic, due to their simplicity. Specifically with reference to costumes, McCloud says, “Because costume colors remained exactly the same, panel after panel, they came to symbolize the characters in the mind of the reader”

-Peter Coogan, Superhero: The Secret Origin of a Genre, page 33

Worlds Finest 45

Another common trait amongst old time strongmen, physical culturists and lifters in the Iron Game like Eugen Sandow, George Hackenschmidt, Arthur Saxon and friends was that the strongmen were known for their well developed intellects, IRON WILL and mental discipline.  These traits would become synonymous with superheroes, most notably Batman.  The Superhero costume then would symbolise not only a physical dynamo of sound moral character, but a character of intelligence, internal will power and discipline.

Those silly little shorts on the outside and bright tights seem just a little bit less ridiculous when viewed in that context.  The Superhero costume became symbolic not just of Champions, Physical Marvels and Titans of the people, but symbolic of an entire genre.  The cape, mask and costume crowd has thrilled readers for over three quarters of a century.  The superhero ideal is one that is strong in our culture, not just in North America where the superhero was born and conceived, but around the globe people of all ages look to superheroes for entertainment, inspiration and sound moral values in uncertain times.

Batman appeared around a year after Superman, and Wonder Woman a couple of years later – bringing some much needed feminine energy to balance out DC’s testosterone laden Titans.  In the modern era DC’s holy trinity of superheroes would frequently be featured together in the Justice League comics, annual company ‘event’ stories, as well as their own various monthly comic books and occasional  graphic novels.  But in the early years Wonder Woman, Superman and Batman would only appear together on promotional ads, merchandise or the odd comic book cover.

Worlds Fair Comics_1_Superman Batman Robin

Superman and Batman first appeared together on the cover of the promotional anthology title New York World’s Fair Comics #1 in 1939.  They also appeared together on the cover of World’s Best Comics #1,1941 the title that would lead to the ongoing World’s Finest Comics.  While Batman and Superman appeared on various comic book covers together, inside the various anthology books were solo tales of Batman, Superman and other Golden Age characters, including non-superhero characters.

AllStar Comics 7_446x600

The World’s Greatest Superheroes finally shared some brief panels together in All Star Comics #7, 1941 but not until Superman #76, 1952 did the two officially meet in a full length story in The Mightiest Team in the World.

Superman 76,1952

Soon afterward Superman and Batman would be teaming up in a regular ongoing book – World’s Finest Comics #71, 1954.  The previous issues while regularly showing Batman, Superman and often Robin together on the cover in comical fun loving situations were mostly solo stories and reprints of earlier Batman or Superman stories.  With World’s Finest Comics #71, the foundation stones of the Superman/Batman friendship that would last through the next thirty years were laid down.

Worlds Finest 71 COVER

Hey kids, is Batman bullet-proof?  Let’s hope so, otherwise this issue is bound to end in tears for little Billy and Jimmy.

Worlds Finest 71 _456x600

Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne switch super-identities in a gimmicky, totally non-nonsensical story.  Guess that explains the bullets bouncing off of Batman’s chest then.  Despite its eccentricities (like the backwards step for feminism where Lois Lane is portrayed as a complete idiot) the story is still great fun to read.

Worlds Finest 323_396x600

Happy trails pard’ner!  I’ll just step blindly off this building without looking, while you go catch whoever put that graffiti on the sun.

World’s Finest Comics came to an end with issue #323, 1986.  While Batman and Superman would appear in each other’s books now and then, they would not be teaming up again on a regular basis until the revival of the JLA in Grant Morrison’s JLA #1, 1997 which ran for 125 issues.  This book was followed by the fan favourite Superman / Batman #1, 2003 ongoing title by Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness, their six issue story arc kicked off an ongoing six-issue story arc format by various popular writers and artists paired together for each story arc.  The book was surprisingly successful and ran for 87 issues.  The follow up to this book was Batman / Superman in 2013, a confusing book of varying quality set in DC’s post-52 continuity.

JLA 4 Grant Morrison_396x600

Over the years the various Superman / Batman team up comic books have traditionally handled spectacular over the top stories, gimmick covers, gimmick stories and anything that gets the reader hooked and wanting to turn the page or buy the book.  Overall, the books are pretty fun to read from the earliest World’s Finest Comics with Superman, Batman and Robin enjoying leisurely pursuits and athletic activities on the covers to the later less frivolous covers focusing on one nightmarish scenario after another, that were conveniently wrapped up in an issue or two.

The JLA books from the various eras are great fun, particularly Grant Morrison’s run but we don’t see a whole lot of Superman and Batman together.  They are typically the leaders of the team, who usually divide into smaller teams or squads as they face each new crisis month to month.

Seeing DC’s big two icons in a regular ongoing book just makes sense.  Allowing the focus to shift away from the monthly soap opera like stories in the various Batman and Superman ongoing titles – to larger then life adventures in the team up books makes for a refreshing change.

Whether Worlds Finest, Brave and the Bold (DC’s other team-up book, often featuring Batman with various DC heroes) or Superman/Batman – the team-up style books were usually not limited by the continuity of the monthly character books.  It makes them far easier to get into, you can pick up a fun story, read the whole thing in a short time and walk away without having to buy ten or more monthly books.

The Loeb / McGuinness Superman/Batman book in particular was a great read, and a real return to form of the earlier over the top gimmick stories that had you frantically turning the page to find out what happens next.  Darkseid brainwashes Supergirl, Batman punches the president in the face!  You get the idea.

Superman Batman 4_Cover_Loeb_McGinnis

So in the early stories of Batman and Superman, the two were good friends who teamed up often on increasingly bizarre adventures.  Before they started teaming up from World’s Finest Comics issue#71 onwards, the previous issues were solo stories featuring Superman or Batman and Robin, who only appeared together on the covers.

They finally met in person in short tales in All Star Comics #7, and Superman #76, before moving on to be featured in their ongoing team ups from Worlds Finest Comics from#71.  Later they had ongoing team-up stories in the fan favourite Morrison/Porter JLA and the Loeb/McGuinness Superman/Batman titles.

The early years of their super-relationship were coloured by fantastical tales, science fiction stories and imaginary stories, often involving alternate worlds and more and more ridiculous scenarios to fill out the gimmick covers. The gimmick covers were often throw away gags that the writer had to fill as best they could in any given issue.  The idea was to get young readers to pick up the book, turn the page and inquire into what madness awaited them in this months senses-shattering issue of adventure!

Worlds Finest 323 405x600

In later years while still friends, Superman and Batman’s relationship would take on an adversarial role when DC realised how much fans liked seeing Batman and Superman fighting each other – no matter how contrived the situation.  While the contest of champions served a narrative purpose in Miller’s seminal alternate world Dark Knight Returns other tales of the clash of DCs most popular titans were of varying quality.

In John Bryne’s 1986 Man of Steel mini-series relaunch of Superman, he encounters Batman as a stranger.  Later in Grant Morrison’s JLA and the Loeb / McGuinness Superman/Batman book, the two are old friends once again, seemingly with their rivalry behind them, until the next sales slump or gimmick book around the corner.

Superman - Batman 087 back page_end_313x480

Ultimately, a cool image of two popular heroes fighting each other on the cover, or in the book helps sell comics.  Even if it makes little sense for two good friends to be at each others throats a couple times a year, then go back to normal for the duration of their relationship with selective amnesia.  Supes and The Bat at times are like bickering brothers or an old married couple.  They respect each other, but often have very different views on issues, and that can lead to them falling out.  But no matter how many times that happens, they eventually reconcile and their bonds only grow deeper and stronger.

Gimmick covers, gimmick stories and events are  the bread and butter of traditional superhero comics, and while gimmicks get old very fast, there is something genuinely thrilling in seeing the philosophical differences between Superman and Batman leading up to an uneven slug-fest that has rabid fans foaming at the mouth.

But ultimately, whatever differences they may have, Batman and Superman are lifelong friends.  No amount of ret-conning, revamping, relaunching, new universes or alternate universes can break the bonds of true friendship.  While the next live action version of the World’s Finest will likely seem them at each other’s throats, we all know the Batman v Superman film can only end in the beginning of Superman and Batman’s lifelong friendship.

Batman Superman handshake