Holy Character Design Batman!

As comic books have evolved over the years, their stories and characters have grown as well. Golden age superheroes have been given sleek new looks, and darker storylines as comics move into the modern, or dark age. Out of all of the golden age heroes, it seems as though Batman has undergone the most change, which can be most seen in his film adaptations. Because film is so closely related to the comic book world, it is useful to examine how Batman has been translated onto the big screen, throughout multiple adaptations. 27-2-closeup-300x300 We first begin with the original Batman comic  from 1939. Here, Batman looks fairly similar to the Batman we all know today. He is dark, with a bat mask covering his face, and he wears a cape resembling bat wings. Most people would agree that this  iconic image embodies Batman as a character. His original design however, lacked his famous utility belt. This design would be released soon after the first Batman comic. In 1940, Robin, Batman’s famous sidekick was introduced, giving us the now iconic “Dynamic Duo.” The two went hand in hand for awhile, and were even the prime focus of the 1966 film based on the successful television show starring Adam West and Burt Ward. This film is known for its comedic and downright campy tone, just like its predecessor television series. This was a turning point for Batman’s character because it brought comedy to a previously darker character. Because this was the silver era of comics, and the CCA had regulated the content of these books, the then updated design was translated into the TV and film medium. In addition to the overall ridiculousness of the film, Batman’s character design was also changed to be more exaggerated.  His coloring is lighter, and his face mask contains particularly prominent eyebrows, giving him a more comical appearance than his original, dark look.

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Tim Burton’s 1989 “Batman” marked a return to a more serious titular character, while still keeping some of the cheesy and campy elements. Batman’s design harkens back to its original look, with a sleek suit, and an intimidating air about it. This film also left out Robin’s character, making Batman a solo act again. Robin wouldn’t return until the 1997 flop, “Batman and Robin,” which in some ways, could be seen as a return to camp. However instead of a ridiculous looking outfit, this Batman simply wears all black, right down to the utility belt. batman 3 The final film to look at in Batman’s development is actually a trilogy of films directed by Christopher Nolan. These films are notorious for their darkness, released in the heart of the “dark ages.” They are more based off of Frank Miller’s Dark Knight comic, which is also known for its dark interpretation of Batman. This version is easily the most intimidating of all the Batmans looked at. He, like the 1997 Batman, wears all black, right down to the utility belt and small intricate detailing on his suit. Speaking of detailing, this Batman has the most of any character model all over his mask and armor, already setting him aside from the pack. But it’s his face and expressions that really give him that intimidating air that he’s known for. His already frightening glare is magnified by the design of his mask. So what do all of these models say about Batman? Well for one, he is a character that is always changing. His pattern however goes back and forth between extremely dark, and extremely campy. Perhaps it is because he is such an extreme character, that he cannot rest in the middle. The closest he came to this was Tim Burton’s film, but even Burton ended up making him far darker than not. Whatever Batman is, it is safe to say that he will continue to evolve as a character, whether it be funny o serious.

 

 

 

Disorder Caused By Order: I Read the Book and Now the Movie Sucks!

In American culture we seem to be re-living our original love for the comic book genre. New fans and old fans alike flock to see these movie adaptations of old beloved comic books that have remained in public memory for generations. The movies stand alone, as do the comics, but does their relationship end there? As the two may share the same plot, inhabit the same world, do they not affect each other? In this time of book to movie franchises, viewers are previous readers who claim about the book was so much better, even when the movie may closely follow the book. Even when the movie itself is good, those who have read the book first form a hatred of the movie. This pattern remains true even when one watches the movie first as the book becomes “wrong”.

Movies and comics are two very different mediums of a story, as both have their strengths and weaknesses. Movies may give the viewer a good idea of movement, tone of voice (not to mention the voices themselves), and lighting, but is limited to the amount of information that it may give at any moment in time. Comics, while they lack movement in the technical sense, move through the images and text combined as they complete the action. Comparing the two are difficult due to these differing strengths and weaknesses. Ideas of how things work in the comic may be translated differently in the movie depending on how the reader interpreted certain points. Seeing the movie before reading the comic may trip some people up as things may appear in the novel that weren’t in the movie. Some things may be more violent, some more sexual, others may be just plain weird. But the order in which we see and read things change the overall effect on our view of the story overall.

Take Watchmen for example. In some ways I have both read the book before the watching the movie and watched the movie before reading the book. I had read about half of the graphic novel before watching the movie. Many things were made more obvious in the movie that I as a reader could not understand in the comic itself. Rorschach as a character remains relatively the same, yet the use of his mask is changed. In the graphic novel, the shapes on his mask do change shape, but my interpretation differed from the fluid movement of the blots that constitute his face in the movie. Each time I saw his character in the comic, I paid close attention to the shapes made in the mask, as they provided a close look to what his inner thoughts may be. As I began watching the movie, I felt wrong as this movie Rorschach was different from my perceived comic Rorschach in small, hard to place ways. This left me stuck in certain parts of the movie as this movie Rorschach could only be a fake, imitating my, the readers, perception of who he was.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that the book did not change on account of my viewing the movie. The Rorschach jail cell scene was especially important, as it is one of the few places that the movie differs from the book. As per usual in movies, all violence is made way more intense than the original as Larry has his hands taken off with a chain saw, all on screen. This level of willingness to sacrifice for vengeance struck me in a deep way as Rorschach was baptized in the blood of a man he didn’t kill. As it sounds sick to say, I was almost looking forward to seeing the scene in the comic. Needless to say the comic was almost a disappointment in regards to what the movie had shown me. The scene overall is very important to the plot as Rorschach changes (at least he does a little in the comic version) as he regains a more human form by being showered not in his mask but his real face. The movie version is what makes the scene pop out, not the comic, but the movie still alerted me to this being a pivotal scene due to the amount of detail.

In short, I found that the order of which comes first in terms of viewing, the book or the movie, has a deep effect on how the story overall is construed. Seeing the movie first may help the reader understand average from pivotal violence, as scenes can really stand out above the rest with the way that movies can do things that pictures cannot physically do. Yet the comic allows the reader to take their time knowing each character, forming their own idea of who the characters are and how (or if) to relate to the characters. As both mediums have their strengths and weaknesses, it is important to understand both as two halves of a whole, making the story complete.

For more blogs about how a movie may cause different emotion than the book (and vis versa), I highly recommend you read “Explosions or Aliens?” by ebaumgardner16 (links will be listed below), “It May Seem Like There’s No Time or Reason” by strudeau, and “Characters and Characterization Across Movie’s and Their Comics” by nicolefindswords.

http://graphicnovel.umwblogs.org/2015/09/25/explosions-or-aliens/ http://graphicnovel.umwblogs.org/2015/09/20/it-may-seem-like-theres-no-time-or-reason/ http://graphicnovel.umwblogs.org/2015/08/30/4034/

 

Watchmen images are the property of Alan Moore, Warner Bros., and Paramount Pictures.

Additional pictures not from the movie are from quotesgram.com

http://quotesgram.com/watchmen-rorschach-quotes/

Business Over Brevity

I feel conflicted. There seems to be a plague sweeping through gaming culture these days, and I don’t know how I feel about it yet so perhaps at the end of this article I will have reached some kind of conclusion. My problem, and the plague that I am referring to is the franchise. If a game is met with enough success nowadays, the company will make a sequel, and if that sequel is met with enough success they make another sequel, and another and another, and more often than not it seems that what started out as a good idea, and what was originally something that many game developers and designers were very passionate about, is now an instance of quantity over quality, the more games they sell, the more games they can make, regardless of whether or not the sequels are matching the standards of their predecessors.

It feels as though people are being exploited, they’ll buy a game because it follows the story line of a series they have become invested in even if it doesn’t live up to their expectations, even if they know it won’t live up to their expectations. I’m a victim of it, Halo, Assassin’s Creed, Call of Duty. Halo made three near flawless games, the third installation had a climactic and satisfying resolution, nothing else had to be added, and yet here I sit 8 years later eagerly awaiting the fifth segment of what would have been a perfectly good trilogy. Assassin’s Creed shares the same problem, the second game in the series was phenomenal, in fact it was met with so much success that they decided to create a trilogy devoted specifically to the main character of the second game, and the trilogy was fine, and they could have quit there, but now the franchise is so wealthy that they are currently in the middle of simultaneously releasing their 8th and 9th games, despite the fact that many of the sequels received poor ratings. Call of Duty might be the best example of this trend,as they are in the middle of releasing their 12th game: Advanced Warfare, despite the fact that their ratings dropped so drastically that they are no longer a competitive franchise.

 

This issue isn’t localized to the gaming world either, movies are especially guilty of opting for sequels to make more money in favor of making stand-alones or trilogies: Marvel, Star Wars, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Hobbit, Terminator, Alien, Fast and Furious the list goes on. There is something to be said for brevity, for conciseness, an idea can be just as good if not better as a solo installation than if it is expanded into a tangled and drawn out series that exists more for the purposes of making money than because the idea needed to be added to.

Unfortunately, I can’t make myself immune to this disease just because I have a problem with the principle. I’m still going to play Halo 5, I’m absolutely going to go see the next Marvel and Star Wars films, I’m still going to buy the games and pay for the movies even if I know I’m about to get something of lesser quality, which begs the question then, is continuation necessarily bad? If I know I’m paying for something that’s not going to be as good as its predecessor, and I do it anyways, does that make it my fault that these games and movies are being extended past what their expiration date should have been? Also, are there certain cases where continuing a series is a good thing? I realize that this post asks more than it answers, I still haven’t decided whether or not I think franchises are a bad thing, but I’m curious to know what other people think. Do they share my opinion, or is there merit to a 12 game franchise, am I making a big deal out of something that shouldn’t really matter since I don’t have to buy the games and I don’t have to see the movies anyways?

The White Mage: Great Ally or Useless Party Member

In any game where you have to build a team, there are always different classes that you put together to make the perfect team. These classes range from close combat heavy hitting tanks, to long ranged magic using wizards. There are a multitude of different class but that one that no one ever seems to want to use it the white mage. The white mage, or sometimes know as a healer class, is viewed by some as a useless class because their powers mostly consist of healing other team members. Some do not like this because normally a white mage as lower attack power and therefor, cannot do a significant amount of damage to enemies. Although this class is not a powerhouse, it does have its strengths. In most games, white mages have very high defense, this is in case they do see combat. They might not be able to dish out a lot of damage but they can take a hit and stand back up afterwards. White mages almost always have abilities that help them dodge attacks. Even if a white mage gets cornered, their abilities help make sure they will not take damage. In this article I will be focusing on the white mage classes from Final Fantasy X and Fire Emblem Awakening.

In Final Fantasy X every playable character has the potential to learn white mage abilities. Although anyone in your party can become a healer, there is only one character that starts out on the white mage track. The farther she progresses down this track, the higher her defense and evasion becomes. Even though her character cannot deal out more than forty points of damage when she is at her strongest, which is a small amount compared to the rest of the team, I use her in almost every fight. She has to ability to nullify any elemental power with her nul-element spell and can even raise the defense of the whole team with protect or shell. Whenever I get into any boss fight I use the white mage character to bolster my team and make sure they do not lose all their health. This is an example of a really useful white mage class.

In Fire Emblem Awakening there are three types of healers. The first is the normal cleric class. The cleric has the ability to heal its allies. The cleric’s best attribute is its evasion skill. Although the cleric can sometimes dodge attacks, they have poor defense. This is an example of a poor white mage because all they can do is heal. They cannot take a hit without being knocked out and when they encounter an enemy, they are not likely to dodge the on coming attack.

The second white mage class in Fire Emblem Awakening is a cleric that rides a horse. This form of cleric is a little bit better then the normal cleric, because for some reason the horse gives the cleric extra evasion. This greatly increases the ability and likelihood the cleric will dodge an oncoming attack, which it severely lacked this ability before. The mounted cleric class is quite useful because they are fantastic healers as well as having the ability to dodge an attack. This makes them less likely to be knocked out for the rest of the battle.  

The final and most useful form of the cleric is the war cleric. In this form the cleric losses the horse but again the ability to use an axe. Although this cleric becomes able to fight off enemies, it is a difficult class to use. You get used to having your healers never engage in combat and now they can fight back. It takes a while to get the strength and defense but once the healer is ready to fight they become a powerhouse. War clerics are strong white mages but they are also not just white mages. This type of white mage is hard to use because some people are not sure wither to use them as healers or use them as a warrior.

White mage can be a hassle or they can be the most useful members on your team.