JOKER, the highly anticipated new film from director Todd Phillips and starring Joaquin Phoenix has hit theaters! The movie is already receiving rave reviews, with many critics declaring the movie a shoe in for Academy Award nominations for Best Picture and Best Actor for Joaquin Phoenix. The early buzz has praised Phoenix’s tour de force performance as a broken man’s decent into madness and his transformation into the legendary Clown Prince Of Crime! But does it live up to the hype? That’s exactly what Ryan and I discuss in the latest episode of The World’s Best Podcast! The Joker is one of the best characters in all of fiction and the film asks provocative questions about society, mental health, and morality. Does the film live up to its lofty ambitions? Where does this Joker rank among the other classic performances of the character? Can you tell a Joker story without Batman? We answer all these questions and more! Listen and enjoy!
Thanks for listening! Follow me on Twitter @PJWrightWBM or type Worlds Best Media into the search bar, you can also like and follow us on our Facebook page; World’s Best Media. Those likes and follows, as well as iTunes reviews, go a long way to supporting World’s Best Media. We really appreciate the loyalty and support shown to us by our fans, so thanks again!
On this episode of “The World’s Best Podcast”, I have a minor mental breakdown as I freak out while discussing the cataclysmic, APOCALYPTIC changes in store for mankind as a result of climate change. Don’t judge me, this is scary shit! With The Bahamas suffering from the devastation of last weeks storm, I thought it might be a good time to talk about how we should all pay more attention to the negative consequence of climate change before it’s too late.
Oh, and I also review the Season 2 premiere of TITANS. even if you don’t have the DC UNIVERSE app where TITANS is available for streaming, you can also check it out on Blu-ray and iTunes. Once the season has been on DC UNIVERSE for a little while, they usually make the series available on Netflix for awhile.
TITANS isn’t without its flaws, but it’s a really cool superhero show that deserves more attention than it’s getting. With appearances by Bruce Wayne, Deathstroke, Superboy, and more classic DC characters, TITANS Season 2 is shaping up to be pretty entertaining.
During my review for the Season 2 premiere of TITANS on DC UNIVERSE, I discuss how extensive and impressive their comic book library is. Pretty much any great DC Comics story you would want to read is available on the app right now. With more being added all the time. So below I made a list of the 10 best comic book stories that are currently available on DC UNIVERSE, check it out…
The Top Ten Best Comic Books Available On DC UNIVERSE
The Dark Knight Returns (Writer: Frank Miller, Artist: Frank Miller/ Klaus Janson)
All Star Superman (Writer: Grant Morrison, Artist: Frank Quietly)
Batman: The Long Halloween (Writer: Jeph Loeb, Artist: Tim Sale)
Superman: Red Son (Writer: Mark Millar, Artist: Dave Johnson)
Batman: The Court of Owls (Writer: Scott Snyder, Artist: Greg Capullo)
Wonder Woman: Year One (Writer: Greg Rucka, Artist: Nicola Scott)
Swamp Thing (The New 52, Issue #1-40) (Writer: Scott Snyder/Charles Soule, Artist: Yanick Paquette/Jesus Saiz)
Justice League: The Darkseid War (Writer: Geoff Johns, Artist: Jason Fabok)
Green Lantern: Rebirth (Writer: Geoff Johns, Artist: Ethan Van Sciver)
Batman: Year One (Writer: Frank Miller, Artist: David Mazzucchelli)
These stories are just the tip of the iceberg. I honestly could’ve listed at least 20 more phenomenal, classic DC tales you can download and read, completely for free, as a DC UNIVERSE subscriber.
Thanks for listening! Follow me on Twitter @PJWrightWBM or type Worlds Best Media into the search bar, you can also like and follow us on our Facebook page; World’s Best Media. Those likes and follows, as well as iTunes reviews, go a long way to supporting the show. We really appreciate the loyalty shown to us by World’s Best Media fans, so thanks again!
*Editors Note (correction)- In this episode of the podcast, I mentioned Iceland’s melting glaciers. While there are glaciers in Iceland, experiencing melting due to Man made climate chang , some of the world’s most dangerous and major glacier melting is largely taking place in Greenland. I misspoke, sorry for the confusion. As a bonus, I’ve posted a brief, but informative video about Greenland’s melting glaciers you should definitely check out. Watch it right here:
I noticed a pretty cool trend that DC Comics has started, they’re putting out trailers promoting the release of some of their high profile graphic novels. Scott Snyder, current writer of the DC Comics series Justice League, is not only one of the best writers in the comic book industry, he’ also cemented his status as the definitive Batman the writer of the 21st century so far. His Batman run with artist Greg Capullo (2011-2016) is among the best work ever done with the character. Snyder and Capullo’s collaboration on stories like The Court of Owls, Death of The Family, and Dark Nights: Metal are modern day classics. It was out of Dark Nights: Metal that one of Snyder and Capullo’s most terrifying creations was born… The Batman Who Laughs.
On an alternate Earth in The Dark Multiverse, The Joker finally does something so terrible that Batman snaps and kills him. Unbeknownst to Bruce, Joker had created a toxin that would be released from his body at the moment of his death, infecting the person who killed him and turning them into the next Joker. As he succumbs to the toxin, he systematically kills his friends and family, wiping out The Bat-Family and The Justice League with cruel, brutal efficiency. Eventually he destroyed his world and moved on to others, preying on The Multiverse. Superman once described Batman as “The most dangerous man on Earth”, the Batman we know and love can take on someone as powerful as Superman, but he’s still holding back, there are lines he won’t cross. Now imagine someone with all of Bruce’s skills, abilities, and genius, completely devoid of any kind of morality, who is willing to cross any line to achieve his goals. That tactical mind, but with none of Bruce’s compassion and empathy. He would be the ultimate enemy. The apex predator of The Multiverse. Because a Batman who laughs… is a Batman who always wins.
Our Bruce Wayne first encountered The Batman Who Laughs during the crossover event Dark Nights: Metal. It took Batman teaming up with The Joker just to stand a chance in a fight against The Batman Who Laughs. His fate was left somewhat ambiguous at the end of Metal, until it was revealed in Justice League #8 that Lex Luthor had The Batman Who Laughs locked up below the Legion of Doom’s headquarters (Lex frees him at the end of the issue, now free to pursue his own agenda, this leads directly into the BATMAN WHO LAUGHS miniseries).
I read each issue of this series as they came out, now that it’s collected in this nice, hardcover graphic novel, I can’t recommend it enough. With art by Jock who worked with Snyder on the excellent Batman: The Black Mirror, this is a must read for Batman fans. I’d also say that this works very well as a standalone story. So if even you haven’t been following any of the other books I’ve mentioned in this article, you can pick up the graphic novel and still understand and enjoy the story. Not only is this an excellent Batman story, it’s also one of my favorite comics of the year. BATMAN WHO LAUGHS gets my highest recommendation. BATMAN WHO LAUGHS is now available at your local comic book store, Barnes & Noble, ComiXology, and wherever comics are sold. Check out this cool promo:
After the surprisingly solid Batman: Hush, it looks like we’ll be getting one more DC Animated Movie before the end of 2019: Wonder Woman: Bloodlines. You can check out the first trailer posted below. I am more excited for this one than I thought I would be. I really like seeing how the film is using many of the classic Wonder Woman villains that we don’t often get to see in projects like this. DC has been putting out some strong animated films lately after a few years of some mediocre entries, hopefully Wonder Woman: Bloodlines continues the trend of increasingly good DC Animated Movies. The movie will be released digitally on 10/5 and on Blu-Ray and 4K on 10/22. One of the bonus features included with the movie will be a short film about the character Death, one of The Endless from Neil Gaiman‘s The Sandman comic book series. Watch the trailer here:
The Justice League has battled a lot of cool, iconic foes over the years, but one of my favorites has to to be The Crime Syndicate. The Crime Syndicate hail from a parallel world dubbed Earth-3, where it’s occupants really subscribe to the philosophy of “survival of the fittest”. Each member of The Crime Syndicate is an evil doppelgänger of a member of the Justice League and they rule their Earth with an iron fist. So, instead of Batman, you get Owlman, instead of Wonder Woman there’s Superwoman, and instead of Superman you get Ultraman.
Ultraman is probably the biggest piece of shit of them all (actually Owlman probably takes the cake there). When he’s not bust freebasing Kryptonite to get his powers, he’s terrorizing the citizens of his planet.
The Crime Syndicate are most prominently featured as the villains in classic Justice League stories like, JLA: Earth-2 written by Grant Morrison with art by Frank Quietly.
As well as, Forever Evil by Geoff Johns and David Finch, which features Lex Luthor defeating Ultraman by using his addiction to Kryptonite AGAINST him. The message here: drug addiction makes you lose super villain battles. A valuable lesson for us all.
The live action DC movies may have gotten off to a rocky start, but I’m a big fan of movies like Man of Steel and even Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. I think Henry Cavill made a fantastic Superman and it’s a shame we probably won’t get to see him in the role again. Much like we won’t get to see Ben Affleck as Batman again. It would’ve been pretty cool to see these characters go up against a group of villains like The Crime Syndicate down the line had the Justice League film been any good. Sadly that movie was a big pile of shit, so we can only wonder what might’ve been. Which is why I thought it was really cool when I found two different artist renditions of Henry Cavill as Ultraman popping up online. Check it out here:
The first piece was done by an artist who goes by the handle HouseofMat. This is the first time I’ve see HouseofMat’s work, but I thought it was pretty cool and I wanted to share it with you guys. The second piece (which is my favorite of the two) was created by Barrett Digital, you can find them on Twitter @BARRETTDIGITAL_. There are some fantastic online artists out there like BossLogic, whose work I’ve posted on the site before. So I’m always on the lookout for cool stuff like this. What do you think of his rendition of Henry Cavill as Ultraman? Is The Crime Syndicate a group of villains you’d like to see pop up in a DC movie in the future? Please let me know what you think in the comments below. As always, thanks for reading!
I’m a massive comic books fan. Every week I read my Must Read comics on my tablet and I go to my favorite comic book store, The Hall of Comics In Southborough, MA, to get all of my graphic novels (More on The Hall of Comics below). There are a lot of great comics being published right now, but my favorite writer by far is Scott Snyder. His 50 plus issue run on Batman with Artist Greg Capullo is without question the best Batman run of this generation. Anytime Snyder and Capullo come together, they make magic. Stories like The Court Of Owls, The Death of The Family, Zero Year, and Dark Nights: Metal are all modern classics. Of course, there’s also Snyder’s incredible introduction to the world of The Dark Knight, The Black Mirror (as fantastic as that story is, it wasn’t with Artist Greg Capullo). Now, after putting their stamp on Batman’s origin in the excellent story Zero Year, they’re closing the circle by telling their version of the final Batman story: Batman: Last Knight on Earth. The miniseries is a 3-issue prestige format book, shipping bi-monthly under DC’s Black Label, with Issue #1 coming out on 5/29/19. DC’s Black Label was created for their best writers and artists to tell stories that are the best of the best. If Zero Year was their Batman: Year One, Batman: Last Knight on Earth is their The Dark Knight Returns. Below is the official synopsis from DC Comics:
Bruce Wayne wakes up in Arkham Asylum. Young. Sane.
And…he was never Batman.
So begins this sprawling tale of the Dark Knight as he embarks on a quest through a devastated DC landscape featuring a massive cast of familiar faces from the DC Universe. As he tries to piece together the mystery of his past, he must unravel the cause of this terrible future and track down the unspeakable force that destroyed the world as he knew it…
From the powerhouse creative team of writer Scott Snyder and artist Greg Capullo, the team that reinvented Batman from the emotional depths of “Court of Owls” to the bombastic power of DARK NIGHTS: METAL, DC Black Label is proud to present the bimonthly, three-issue miniseries BATMAN: LAST KNIGHT ON EARTH, published at DC’s standard comic trim size.
This could be the last Batman story ever told…
Snyder and Capullo NEVER fail to deliver a spectacular Batman story and this one doesn’t look like it will disappoint. With the book’s 5/29 release date right around the corner, DC put out a trailer for Batman: Last Knight on Earth#1, to get people hyped for the event miniseries. Check it out below:
We also have some great interior art from the book, released by DC Comics. These pages are from Issue #1:
Below we have the cover for issue #2 of the 3-issue miniseries, which hits stands on 7/31/19.
You have to give Snyder and Capullo credit because they’re certainly swinging for the fences on this one. I love how this series looks batshit insane. This book looks nuts in the best possible way and it is this month’s pick for Must Read Comic Book!!!!!!
Earlier in the article I mention the comic book store The Hall of Comics in Southborough, MA. I just wanted to take a minuet to sing their praises and why you should check them out if you’re in the Boston area. Whether you’re a long time comic book reader, a lapsed fan who wants to get back into comics, or someone who’s never picked up a comic before, but you love superhero films and don’t know where to start, the guys at The Hall of Comics will hook you up with anything you need. Not only do you feel welcome when you walk in the door, but they also have awesome special events like Midnight Release Parties, INCREDIBLE Cosplay appearances, and their coolest events are when they frequently have some of the best comic book writers and artists in the business come by for signings and meet and greet with the fans. As I mentioned in one of my recent podcasts, I had the chance to meet and chat with iconic comic book artist Bob Layton and it was a wonder full experience. So, if you want to check out Batman: Last Knight On Earth (you’d be crazy not to) and you’re in the area, The Hall of Comics is the place to go! You can check out their website right here: https://thehallofcomics.com
Batman: Last Knight on Earth #1 (of 3) hits stands on 5/29/2019
Even though they haven’t knocked one out of the park in a while, I love the DC Animated Movies that are released digitally and on Blu-ray every year. A few of these movies are even in my top 25 favorite films of all time. I’d consider more than a few to be among some of the best superhero movies ever made (I’ll probably make a list below, cataloging the best of the best). Today, DC released the first trailer for their next DCAU film, Batman: Hush.
For a while now, it seemed like the DC Animated Movies were adapting all of the classic Batman stories as animated films, one by one. Which is fine with me! Batman: Year One and The Dark Knight Returns both received excellent movie adaptations. Unfortunately, Batman: The Killing Joke didn’t work as well when it received the DCAU treatment. After TDKR and Year One, The Killing Joke fills out the trifecta of the best and most revered Batman stories ever told. All 3 graphic novels came out of the “dark and gritty” comic book renaissance of the 80’s (for better or for worse). Batman: The Killing Joke received a controversial release a few years ago with a mixed response at best. I don’t think it’s the disaster that a lot of people make it out to be, but I understand the issues people have with the film.
If DC is going to continue down this path of adapting all of the most famous and revered Batman graphic novels, the story I’d love to see them tackle is Batman: The Long Halloween. If you’re going to adapt the most iconic Batman graphic novels of all time, after The Dark Knight Returns, Year One, and The Killing Joke, the story that makes the most sense to give the fans next, is The Long Halloween. Especially if they released it in two parts, like they did with The Dark Knight Returns. It could be something really spectacular. It’s a sprawling, epic mystery taking place early in Batman‘s career. The Dark Knight faces off against a serial killer, whose murders coincide with holidays. It’s The Godfather meets Seven with Batman in it, how is that NOT fucking awesome?! The Christopher Nolan films heavily borrowed from this story with Jim Gordon and Harvey Dent being key characters. I think they’ll probably get around to it eventually, but when they do, I hope they give it the same incredible treatment they have for movies like Under The Red Hood and The Dark Knight Returns.
Director of the upcoming new stand-alone Batman film, Matt Reeves has repeatedly said his film will go back to an earlier time in Batman’s career and feature a cavalcade of Batman’s unique and fascinating villains. Reeves has also said the film will be a mystery, that will lean heavily into and play up Batman’s title as “The World’s Greatest Detective”. This is huge part of the character in the comic books, but it’s barely been touched on in the live action Batman film’s. In all of literature, Batman is a detective on par with Sherlock Holmes, but none of the live action Batman films ever give us the sense that he’s a brilliant detective. Everything Reeves said about his film fits perfectly in line with The Long Halloween. A live action adaptation of Batman: The Long Halloween would make my decade. However, there are a lot of great stories that fit Reeves’ description his new Batman film, so we’ll just have to wait and see what he comes up with. The movie is still several years away and things haven’t been exactly smooth sailing on the Batman front over at DC and things can change at the drop of a hat.
Considering that this article is supposed to be about Batman: Hush, it’s probably a good idea that I actually start talking about Batman: Hush now. The classic, Batman story is heading to the small screen this summer as the next DC Animated Movie to be released this year. The tale is an adaptation the mega-hit Batman mystery saga: Batman: Hush written by Jeph Loeb with art by the legendary Jim Lee. Hush is definitely not one of my favorite Batman stories. I’ve always had some serious problems with certain writing choices made throughout the story. Which is ironic because Hush was written by Jeph Loeb, the same man who wrote one of my favorite Batman mysteries ever; The Long Halloween (As much as I have my problems with Loeb as a writer, I think The Long Halloween is one of the coolest titles ever for a dark Batman mystery). Even though Hush isn’t one of my go to Batman stories, I have to admit, I am very, very excited to see this movie. For every issue I have with the story, there are just as many fantastic and cool moments in the graphic novel that any Batman or DC fan would love to see. The people behind the DC Animated Movies have made magic in the past while adapting huge comic book stories like this. If they’re able to do for Hush, what they did for a story like Flashpoint for example, we could be in for something really special. Check out the trailer right here to see for yourself:
This story has some absolutely classic moments that, based on the trailer, the movie seems to embracing: Batman’s first in continuity fight with Superman, Batman and Catwoman’s attraction to each other blossoming into a real romantic relationship, a showcase of the best of Batman’s rogues gallery, and much more.
The film is available on Blu-Ray on August 13th, a digital release date hasn’t been announced yet, but expect the movie to be available digitally at least a few weeks before the Blu-Ray. I’d say late July is the most likely time for it to premiere on iTunes and other digital platforms. It may not be getting a theatrical release with a massive worldwide marketing campaign, but Batman: Hush is definitely one of my most anticipated movies of the summer.
For those interested in checking out some of the other DC Animated Movies, below is a list of my favorites. The top 4 or 5 are among my all time favorite comic books movies, but all of the films listed here get my personal recommendation:
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Deluxe Edition *(This film was initially released in 2 parts. The Deluxe Edition allows you to watch both parts as one movie, but they can be watched separately as Parts 1&2)
Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox
Batman: Under The Red Hood
Batman: Year One
Justice League: New Frontier
Justice League Doom
All Star Superman
Green Lantern: First Flight
Batman: Gotham by Gaslight
Justice League: War
Justice League Dark
The Death Of Superman
Anyone interested in reading Batman: The Long Halloween or Batman: Hush can find them at your local comic book store, on the ComiXology app, or Amazon. I’ve included the Amazon links to purchase each book below.
The Red Hood. The Pale Man. The Clown Prince of Crime… THE JOKER. Without a doubt the best villain in comic book history and one of the best characters in all of fiction.
Batman is the best superhero in comics, so his arch nemesis should reflect his greatness. All of Batman’s villains, the best rogues gallery in superhero fiction, reflect Batman in some way, some aspect of his psyche. Harvey Dent represents Batman’s struggle with duality, Ra’s Al Ghul represents Batman’s temptation to take his mission too far and commit to a darker way of trying to save society, The Penguin represents the idea of the wealth and privilege he was born with turning into something ugly, greedy, and gluttonous, and so on…
Then, there’s The Joker. Batman’s true, broken reflection. To paraphrase better writers than me, Batman is an engine of meaning. He turns tragedy into purpose. As The Dark Knight Detective himself once famously said “My parents taught me a different lesson, dying in the gutter for not reason at all. They taught me that the world only makes sense… when you force it to.” Everything Batman does is built upon the foundation of that idea. That his actions and his mission have meaning.
That’s why The Joker is Batman’s greatest antagonist. The Joker’s point to Batman is that nothing we do has meaning. It’s all pointless. The Joker is trying to prove to Batman that his mission, his ideology, is pathetic. It’s a joke. There is no greater meaning to life. Nothing you do matters. He’s inviting Batman to abandon his beliefs, to come with him and embrace how The Joker sees the world. In doing so, he’ll become truly transcendent and immortal, but most of all, free.
Which brings me to the upcoming film JOKER starring Joaquin Phoenix….
Over the past several years DC has announced literally dozens of films. Many of which will never see the light of day. Remember that Flash movie that came out back in March 2018? Yeah, me neither, because they didn’t fucking make it. They’ve announced so many movies at this point it’s hard to take them seriously when they do. So when a stand alone film focusing on The Joker was announced I really thought it would never be made. DC seemed to be trying to build a coherent movie universe like Marvel and I didn’t see them realistically making a movie focusing on Jared Leto’s Joker, who was divisive at best.
Then I started to here that they were going in a different direction. That Martin Scorsese and Robert DeNiro were involved and my skepticism grew. No way was Martin Scorsese directing a DC film. Finally, it became clear that this was a stand alone movie existing OUTSIDE the established DC movie universe that Aquaman, Wonder Woman, and SHAZAM! exist in. Todd Phillips would be directing, whose credits include Road Trip, Old School, The Hangover Trilogy, and War Dogs. Martin Scorsese would produce the film, co-staring DeNiro, with Joaquin Phoenix as The Joker in an origin movie telling the story of the man who becomes The Clown Prince of Crime. This is the movie hitting theatres this October and you can check out the trailer below:
Looks pretty good, right? However, at no point have I had any interest in this project. Despite the fact that the trailer seems to show a genuinely good movie with what could be a great performance from Joaquin Phoenix, the only reaction I can have to this movie is ambivalence. The reason being that I think telling a straight up origin story for The Joker is kind of missing the point of a large part of the character. If this were “officially part of the DC movie universe”, I’d be genuinely pissed this movie is being made. However, because the movie is it’s own thing, a one off crime story that doesn’t involve Batman (even though we do see a young Bruce Wayne and Thomas Wayne is a major character) I can live with them telling their fucking Joker origin movie.
Oh, I almost forgot! Here’s a real fucking shocker the movie is drawing inspiration from comic book stories like… wait for it… THE KILLING JOKE! Brav-fucking-vo! How original!
Don’t give me wrong, the comics have hinted at possible origins for The Joker in the past. But that’s what they were: HINTS, possibilities, not a concrete origin. That was one of the reasons The Dark Knight was so brilliant, the story of how The Joker got his scars was different every time he told it, one of my favorite aspects of the film. They had no fucking idea who this guy was. He had no past, he came out of nowhere, he was like the fucking bogeyman. I’ve always said that The Joker is to the normal citizens of Gotham, what Batman is to it’s criminals: a terrifying, unexplainable nightmare.
The only reason DC is choosing to tell an origin story for The Joker is because everyone and their fucking grandmother knows who The Joker is. Even if you fucking hate comic books or comic book movies you know who The Joker is.
I think it’s kind of a shame that Joaquin Phoenix looks like he may be giving an excellent performance as The Joker. Wouldn’t it be so much more entertaining to see that performance in a real Batman film?
If he knocks it out of the park in the role, it would be kind of a shitty scenario because we always want to see Batman go up against a great Joker. As I wrote earlier in the article, Batman and The Joker have this very complex relationship that spans years. Yet we’ve only ever seen them face off against one another in one film in their different incarnations. In Tim Burton‘s Batman they killed the character off and the tragic death of Heath Ledger meant we wouldn’t see that character in Nolan’s Batman universe beyond The Dark Knight. One thing we genuinely haven’t seen from the Batman and Joker dynamic on film, is how that relationship plays out over years of twisted, violent confrontations.
Well, that’s my two cents anyway. I’m sure there’s a lot of you out there who will disagree with me and that’s fine. For now, I just needed to comment on this project, but this is not a film I’ll be rushing out to the theater to see.
I wanted to take a minute to talk about Supergirl on the CW. Before I get into the show, I want to put something in context first. Lex Luthor is by far one of my favorite comic book characters. I think different generations have their own definitive superman. To many people of a certain age Richard Donner’s Superman with Christopher Reeves as the Man of Steel, is the standard by which all other portrayals of the character are judged.
For a lot of people in my generation, Superman The Animated Series is THEIR Superman in the same way Christopher Reeves was for previous generations. Superman The Animated Series ( or STAS or brevity’s sake) is by far my favorite interpretation of the Superman mythos. However, the show doesn’t only have what is, in my opinion, the best on screen Superman that we’ve had it also has the best Lex Luthor. Anytime a new Superman film is being made I’m always hoping to see the filmmakers will portray Lex Luthor as the incredibly interesting and complex character that he is. Unfortunately, my hopes are never realized. When Lex inevitably gets fucked up, I always find myself saying why the fuck don’t they just do the Lex Luthor from the animated series? Clancy Brown, who did the voice of Lex are on STAS is my iconic Luthor.
I’ve said this many times, but Lex Luthor for at least the last 30 years has been portrayed in the comic books as what I describe as a slightly more amoral Tony Stark. In fact, the argument could be made that Tony Stark is more dangerous than Lex Luthor in many ways. Yet I keep seeing these goofy, stupid portrayals of Lex on the big screen. Have these people even bothered to pick up a Superman comic book from the past three decades besides The Death of Superman?
Kevin Spacey was just playing Gene Hackman as Lex. In Superman Returns, Lex has what is without a doubt the stupidest master plan from a super villain in a comic book movie. The master plan involving real estate is another example of a generation that is so overly reverent towards the Christopher Reeves Superman that it actually hurts the film. Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor was an abortion for the eyes (I REFUSE to even include a photograph of him as the character in this article). It’s was a fucking disgrace and everyone involved in the decisions that resulted that version of ”Lex”. * A quick side note: I’ve heard a few people insist that Jesse Eisenberg‘s Lex Luthor is actually supposed to be the son of the real, more traditional Lex Luthor, that would’ve been introduced down the line. I never took that from BvS at any point. I could be wrong, but I’m almost 100% sure that this was supposed to be straight up Lex Luthor, not Lex Jr. I’m not sure of people where people are getting that one from and if anyone could clarify in the comments, I’d love to hear your thoughts. The only live action take on the character that I thought was done well, was Michael Rosenbaum on Smallville. Smallville was a silly and sometimes campy show, but Lex was always one of the show’s strongest aspects.
To my surprise, it was announced that this season of Supergirl would be introducing Lex Luthor for the first time. It was it wasn’t going to be a one off either, he was going to be on the show for a good while. For some reason Warner Bros. and DC have had this weird rule for a long time, that they seem to be bending now for some reason, that prohibits character’s like Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and some other big characters like Lex Luthor from appearing in a live action television show and a film at the same time. The reasoning that they seem to give is that the audience will just be baffled at the idea of two different people portraying this character, which tells you everything you really need to know about how the creative intelligence off Hollywood executives.
In Supergirl’s second season, the two part premiere episodes introduced Tyler Hoechlin as Superman. He did a fantastic job and there’s an argument to be made that he’s the best live-action Superman right now. I like this version of the character so much that I’d like to see more of him, but I’m happy they didn’t make his appearance a one off. He appeared on Supergirl later in season two and has popped up a few more times on the series in the last couple of years. Even cooler was when Superman was a big part of this year‘s excellent Arrowverse Crossover Elseworlds, where they also introduced Lois Lane for the first time. Like I said, it always seems like those characters were off-limits, so I was pleasantly surprised that we’ve seen as much of Superman as we have.
The same thing happened when they announced Lex was going to be on Supergirl. Then they announced Jon cryer would be playing Lex Luthor. At first glance this would seem like a terrible idea because he seem like just another skinny geek and that’s the last thing we want to see after Jesse Eisenberg‘s portrayal. But I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. I figured this guy is so incredibly loaded from his years on Two and a Half Men that he does not have to do any project he doesn’t want to do. So there must’ve been something he saw in this character that would allow him to stretch his acting muscles in a completely different way. He just spent over a decade doing comedy, I figured maybe he’s up for a darker role.
We are now two episodes in to Lex’s stint on Supergirl and goddamnit if he is not fantastic in this role. So far he’s been pretty close to what I’ve been looking for with this character. He’s a genius, manipulative, he has his cool battle armor. It’s much more in line with the Lex Luthor we see in modern comics.
His second episode really impressed me because we saw how he had been behind (in one way or another) much what has happened on the show in the last few years. It was established early on in the series that Lex Luthor was in prison when Supergirl began. Using flashbacks, this weeks episode showed what Lex has been up to since he’d been convicted of Crimes Against Humanity. It was fantastic it showcase for John Cryer is in this role.
I’ve always been a huge Arrowverse fan, even though it’s best days are behind it in many ways. Despite my love of the Arrowverse, I’ve never really been that big of a fan of Supergirl (the series not the character). I think the series has done an excellent job with their portrayal of the character. Mellissa Benoist is great as The Girl of Steel, for some reason I find her at her most charming and entertaining in the crossover episodes. She’s a very interesting contrast to Barry Allen and especially Oliver Queen.
However, in my opinion the show really excels at using characters and stories from Superman‘s mythology. For example, they did an episode that was an adaptation for the classic Alan Moore Superman story For The Man Who Has Everything. This season also saw the introduction of Manchester Black and The Elite who were first introduced in another iconic Superman story What’s So Funny About Truth, Justice, And The American Way?. Even in the first season, they reveal about halfway through that one of the main characters was actually J’onn J’onnz; The Martian Manhunter. That blew my fucking mind. He’s been a fixture in the Arrowverse ever since and I love seeing him shape shift into his classic Martian form. Most of the time he appears as a human man because he’s a shape shifter and it would be way too expensive for the show to have him in full Martian Manhunter mode all the time.
I even loved how they’ve used classic Superman villains like Metallo, Parasite, White Martians and the Kryptonian villain Non, one of the general Zod’s right hand men. He is usually portrayed as muscle for General Zod, just a big, dumb, strong antagonist for Superman to fight. But he actually has a pretty tragic backstory. He was lobotomized by The Kryptonian Council as punishment for crimes he committed. There was a time that he was a mentor to Jor-El, one of Krypton‘s most brilliant scientists.
All of this has just been a very long winded way of saying how great it is to see a fantastic live action Lex Luthor. The season in general has been strong even though I have problems with some of their heavy handed attempts at making the story a real world to allegory. Despite that big flaw, there have been some very cool and exciting stories and characters being used on Supergirl that make a fan like me pay attention. I would definitely recommend going to iTunes or on-demand and checking out the last two episodes of Supergirl, the first one with Lex Luthor’s appearance is O’ Brother Where Art Thou. Cryer had a great start in that installment, but I was even more impressed with how good he is in this role in his second episode. I wouldn’t say I’m that big enough fan of Supergirl to recommend diving into the series as a whole, but I definitely think if you’re a big DC fan and you finally want to see a solid Lex Luthor, check out these episodes. I’d also recommend checking out any of the episodes where Superman makes an appearance and this year’s crossover with Arrow and The Flash: Elseworlds. While I’m on the subject of crossovers, with the most ambitious and thrilling crossover the Arrowverse has ever attempted, Crisis on Infinite Earths, debuting this fall, Lex being a major player in the Arrowverse now makes that already exciting crossover even more interesting.
With Lex seemingly not going anywhere for the rest of the season, I cannot wait to see what else the show’s writers and John Cryer do with this extremely interesting take on Lex Luthor. As always thank you for reading!
For the first two Seasons of The Flash, it was one of my top shows. I loved The Flash and The Arrowverse in general as much as shows like Game of Thrones or Netflix’s Daredevil (before you freak out, I’m not saying that The Flash, at its best, was as good as those shows. I’m just saying I enjoyed The Flash almost as much as those series). The first two Seasons are among the best live action superhero stories brought to any screen. Things started to get dicey in the 3rd Season, it wasn’t reaching the heights of what had come before. However, because the way the story in Season 3 is told, the audience doesn’t have the full picture of what’s been going on until much later in the season. Giving Season 3 a rewatch reveals a flawed, but very good/great season. Sadly, after the Season 3 finale, the show had it’s best days behind it. Season 4 sucked and Season 5 (the current season) has me barely interested in the show anymore. However, despite my waning interest, I was really looking forward to Tuesday night’s episode, “Time Bomb”, for reasons I’ll explain below. Imagine my surprise when The Flash put out it’s best episode (non-crossover) episode in a few years with this heartbreaking installment.
The over arcing story of the season revolves around, Nora Allen, Barry and Iris’s speedster daughter from roughly 30 years in the future, who has come back in time to correct a mistake she made by messing with the timeline. According to Nora, basically Team Flash has to stop a super villain called Cicada (a very dangerous man named Orlin Dwyer), which will somehow correct the timeline, and Nora will return to her own time period. I feel like this show doesn’t do a good job of explaining why Nora needs to fix the timeline in the first place. I get that a dangerous villain called Cicada has become even more dangerous due to the change in the timeline, but beyond that the plans for Nora’s return home are unclear. To me, with time travel being so dangerous in this universe the longer she stays in the past the more damage she would be doing. By hanging around with her parents decades before she was born, seems far more dangerous than stopping any villain. So I haven’t been that invested in the show until the mid season finale when they reveal that 30 years in the future Nora‘s mentor, the person who is giving her instructions on how to properly manipulate the timeline and use the Speed Force is none other than Eobard Thawne! He’s being held in a Supermax version of Iron Heights Prison In 2049 and he seems to genuinely want to help Nora. As we learn from the very first episode of the series, in Thawne’s Timevault there’s a futuristic front page hologram newspapers from the year 2024 that reads “THE FLASH VANISHES IN CRISIS“. So, Nora was a little girl who grew up without her legendary, hero father and then develops the superspeed she inherited from him. She needed a mentor to instructor her in how to use the Speed Force. In Nora’s defense, it’s clear that she didn’t understand just how much damage The Reverse-Flash had done to Barry and his life. Even though I am certain Thawne has an ulterior motive that benefits himself, he seems to truly care about Nora and almost views her as a surrogate daughter.
But time has run out, the shit has hit the fan, their plan has fallen apart. A desperate Nora runs into the future to find a despondent Thawne who says there’s nothing else they can do. Thawne tells Nora to do something that terrifies her: tell her father everything. Tell him about working with Thawne, Tell him about their attempts to change the timeline, and tell him the painful reality that she has been lying to him about working with his greatest enemy.
What really fucked up the timeline was that Dwyer’s niece, Grace, who is comatose young girl in the present. Grace, all grown up and from the future, has come back in time using the Time Sphere the Team Flash built in Season 1. Grace has become the new Cicada in her time and she plans to continue, what she saw as, her Uncle’s “Mission” to kill all meta humans. In many ways, she’s even more psychotic and dangerous than her uncle. She remarks that in her time, about 30 years from now, that meta humans have has grown at an exponential rate. Which makes sense because there are a shitload of other super heroes and super villains in the future.
Dwyer killed Metas as Cicada to protect and avenge his niece. He wanted to make the world a safer for a place for her when she comes out of her coma. He just wanted her to have a happy life. He is somewhat horrified that his beloved niece is so filled with the same hate and anger that led to him down his path to being Cicada. Grace becoming Cicada is the last thing he wants for her. So during her battle with Team Flash. Dwyer shows up, without his powers because he’s been cured, and tries to talk her down. He tells her that she needs to let go of her anger and move on. I saw this coming a mile away, but just as it looks like he might be getting through to her, she kills him with the meta dampening dagger that now belongs to her. This is where we really see just how much more of a psychopath she is compared to her uncle. As her dies in The Flash’s arms, Dwyer’s touching last words to Barry are “Save my Grace.” Even though she just murdered him, she’s the only thing he’s truly loved. Even if he’s dying all he really cares about is his niece Grace. When he asks Barry to save her I think he means save her from the path to Cicada. From one father to another, Dwyer asks Barry to save his child’s soul.
Team flash manages to track down Cicada’s next target, a woman named Vickie Bolen. Several years ago, without quite understanding how her powers worked, she accidentally blew up an ATM, seemingly killing Grace’s parents. Because at the time of the explosion meta-humans were being kept under wraps in Central City, so Bolen remarks that she takes blame for the ATM explosion but “Thanks God that no one was hurt”. She was blissfully ignorant to the fact that she’s probably the person who killed Grace’s parents. I say “probably” because who the fuck knows on a show like this sometimes. CCPD/Team Flash, which is essentially the same thing for all intents and purposes on this mission because everyone involved works for CCPD and Team Flash, realize the incident wasn’t her fault and the team insist on protecting her and her family from this very dangerous new Cicada. Bolen’s daughter was slightly injured, so they wait for the attack at Central City Hospital.
This leads to an excellent action sequence that relied on special FX, when Grace shows up to kill this woman Team Flash is protecting. Standing outside the hospital, Grace unleashes the Dagger with Barry realizing a split second before anybody that the dagger is coming, which will take away their powers and it’s headed right at the woman they’re trying to protect. In a really cool piece of special FX, everything slows way down to flash time the dagger crashes through the window of the hospital. Nora’s powers start to drain away in the presence of the dagger as she and Barry take off in the other direction to try to save Bolen. However, Barry is a little bit ahead of Nora and he’s able to get around the corner, get his Flash suit on as it blows out of his ring, and get to Bolen just before she’s about to be killed by the dagger. Nora super speeds Bolen out of there with the dagger flying behind them like a heat seeking missile close behind. Meanwhile Barry goes to face off with Grace. It was a really cool scene and I liked seeing Nora try to out run this weapon and save this woman, while Team Flash comes up with a plan to save them. It seems that lately the special Fx haven’t lived up to the amazing standard set by the show’s first three seasons. Their FX is usually great, especially for a network show. Even though I think the FX has dipped a little recently, this was a very cool action sequence.
And then we come to the end of things…. The team has saved the day, for now, and are looking to head out to grab a well deserved drink together. This is when Cecile picks up on the fact that Nora wants to tell them all something and everything from this moment on in the episode is pretty brutal.
Grant Gustin, Jessica Parker Kennedy, and Tom Cavanuogh each give Excellent performances in this episode. Stand outs include: Barry’s look of utter betrayal and horror when he finds out his daughter was working with Thawne. Nora’s opening scene with Thawne; everything they’ve risked, everything they’ve been working towards has been completely fucked. Nora’s panic and terror that the plan failed and Thawne’s crushed acceptance made for a memorable scene. Jessica Parker Kennedy knocked it out of the park throughout the entire episode; portraying the utter terror and desperation Nora feels at the prospect of her secret coming to light. Especially in the first scene with Thawne and the final scene with Sherloque, (two very different men with the same face, intense scenes that bookend the episode) she wanted to to tell her family the truth about working with Thawne, she even tried to confess to Barry a few times only to be interrupted. But she waited to long and Sherloque had finally put all the pieces together, which leads to Sherloque’s big speech telling the team how he followed the trail and solved this mystery (It’s a classic troupe of great detective stories, where the brilliant detective like Sherlock Holmes or Hercule Poirot lays out all the facts in front of the characters in the story. Sherloque is definitely more Poirot than Holmes, especially in this scene. I LOVE the “Detective Solved The Mystery And Gives His Speech About What’s Really Going On” scene in any story with a master detective. Tom Cavanough does a great job in this scene.
There were a couple of times that almost got me a little misty in this episode. Like the wires dying words and the look of a hot air but trail on Barry‘s face when he realizes that Nora and Sean are working together. The final few seconds of nor is it breaking down in one of the pipeline cells was one of the most downbeat endings to a flash episode ever. Like I said before, I don’t think the Flash has had such a strong episode in a few seasons. I look forward to watching the next episode which won’t be airing again until April where we find out the back story of how Nora and Thawne got together in the first place, but this does not mean I’m back on The Flash bandwagon. This was just one excellent episode in a sea of mediocrity over the last several years. If you’re like me and you’ve liked The Flash in the past and maybe have given up on it a little bit, watch this episode. However, It’s so well done that the episode deserved appreciation on its own merits.
Anyway, thank you so much for reading as always I appreciate it! I’d love to hear your thoughts about this episode or about The Flash in general, you can leave your comments below or send me a message on Facebook or Twitter.