MUST WATCH: Gotham: The Final Season (Premiere Review)

Hey Everyone,

Paul here…

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Tonight the final season of Gotham premiered on Fox and honestly I was very excited to watch it. It’s hard to believe that this is the same show that just a few years ago had some of the absolute worst superhero writing on TV.  When Gotham began, it was more or less a shittier Smallville, with proto-versions of Batman’s rogues gallery popping up each week for Ben McKenzie’s Jim Gordon to deal with. It was a shame because the show was very well cast and all the actors were perfect in their roles. Since the very first episode, Ben McKenzie has made a great Jim Gordon (he was also the voice of Batman in the animated film adaptation of Batman: Year One). Many of the great Batman stories are also great Jim Gordon stories, so it was very important for them to get this character right. 

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   We even got to see a part of Bruce Wayne’s life that is very rarely explored, the years immediately following the murder of his parents. David Mazouz is easily one of the most compelling live action versions of Bruce Wayne we’ve seen. He conveys Bruce’s dark, brooding intelligence without ever sounding like a whiny brat. With excellent actors memorably playing classic Batman characters like Alfred, The Penguin, The Riddler, Selina Kyle and more, the series felt like a frustrating waste of great talent. Terrible writing hamstrung what could otherwise have been an excellent take on the Batman mythos.

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  About halfway through Season 3, specifically the mid-season finale, something fundamentally changed about the show for the better. I think there are two big reasons for this and one of them was how the series began to use Bruce Wayne. First of all, David Mazouz had grown up enough that he was just old enough to start becoming more crucial to the action going on in the story. Pretty much from the pilot on, Bruce has slowly been learning important skills that would become crucial on his journey to becoming Batman. Season 3’s mid-season finale saw Bruce being taken hostage at a circus by Jeremiah Valeska. If you’re not familiar with Gotham, Jeremiah (played by Cameron Monaghan) is basically their version of The Joker, and a damn good one too. The episode culminated with a show down in a hall of mirrors between Bruce and Jeremiah, where Bruce comes very close to killing Jeremiah. The whole episode was pretty great and I found myself watching the rest of the season once the show returned from it’s hiatus. You started to see Bruce take a more active role as a vigilante even though he wasn’t dressed like Batman. 

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  The second reason the series changed for the better in my opinion, was because it stopped being a bad prequel series, building up to some day in the future where we get to see Bruce put on the Batman costume in the last 5 minutes of the final episode. In the same way that Smallville was entirely built around the show teasing Clark eventually putting on the Superman costume, that we only see him wear for about three seconds in the series finale. Instead, Gotham became more of an Elseworlds Batman story. I think it’s the smartest thing the show could’ve done because they took the mythology and made it their own. They were no longer slaves to the mythology of the Batman comic books. They allowed their story to be an alternate take on the mythos. This choice gave the show its own identity. It also made it more exciting for the audiences because things weren’t necessarily going to play out exactly as they had in the comic books. As a result the back half of Season 3 was a hell of a lot of fun and frankly I love Season 4. One of the reasons I love the show Krypton on Syfy is that the show isn’t a prequel, it’s more about the DC Universe’s past being changed by time travel. Changing Krypton‘s history, changes the history of the entire Superman story and by extension the entire DC Universe. 

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So coming into this final season, which was going to be drawing from classic Batman stories like No Man’ Land and Zero Year (In fact this episode’s title is “Year Zero”), I was pretty psyched to see what they were going to do. I’m happy to say I wasn’t disappointed.

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  After the events of last season, Gotham has been completely cut off from the outside world. The bridges are down in the city and it’s been 87 days since Gotham was officially declared a No Man’s Land by the US government. Unfortunately, not everyone who wanted to had the means to leave the city before it was cut off from the rest of the world. Children, families, innocent people have been trapped in a city that has become an almost post-apocalyptic dystopia. Gotham’s been carved up into territories, with different factions controlling different neighborhoods. Penguin Control City Hall and the surrounding area. He’s also the only person in the city manufacturing bullets for guns, which are more or less currency in the city. Scarecrow, Firefly, Mr. Freeze, Poison Ivy, and other villains have also carved up their own peace of the city.  Somewhat ominously, Jerimiah Valeska hasn’t been seen since the beginning of No Man’s Land. I have a feeling he’s waiting to make his own suitably dramatic entrance.

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The only part of Gotham City for the average citizen who’d been left behind is the area controlled by the GCPD. Gordon with Bullock and Lucius Fox by his side, are not only leading what’s left of the GCPD, they’re also protecting and feeding hundreds of refugees and supplies are running out. A lot of this is straight out of some iconic Batman storylines, so as a longtime Batman comic book fan this is cool to see. 

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   Fortunately, Bruce Wayne and Alfred decided to stay behind as well and Bruce is doing everything he can to get supplies smuggled in. Not only to the people suffering in the city, but medicine for Selena Kyle as well. She was shot in the stomach at point-blank range by Jeremiah in the season finale last year and unless something drastic is done she could be paralyzed from the waist down for the rest of her life. Of course this heavily weighs on Bruce, who blames himself for her condition.

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  Part of the fun of this season is seeing how close Bruce is to becoming Batman, even though he isn’t ready yet. There’s an early scene where Bruce takes down a bunch of thugs trying to steal medical supplies. The power has gone out, so he uses night vision goggles courtesy of the Lucius Fox to take them out one by one, in very Batman fashion. However, just when it looks like he’s saved the day, the lights come back on, the night vision goggles blind him, and the thieves get away. This is an important scene because it shows us that while Bruce is well on his way to becoming The Batman that we know, who could’ve easily taken down a group of bad guys in a situation like this, but he’s not quite there yet. He’s still making crucial mistakes and he still has much to learn. It’s important the series didn’t just suddenly turn him into Batman over night. Bruce’s journey throughout the series has felt earned. Based on his training it makes perfect sense for him to be exactly at the level he’s at now.

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   The episode largely sets up the status quo for the season and puts the pieces in play for things to come. We know things are going to get a lot worse before they get better because the episode opens with a flash forward to No Mans Land Day 391 and shows Gordon, Bullock, The Penguin, The Riddler, and the rest of the GCPD fending off a full blown siege by… someone. For Penguin and The Riddler to be teaming up with Gordon, it must be a pretty serious common enemy.

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All in all I really enjoyed this episode and considering that it was mostly set up, I have a feeling once the story really gets going this has the potential to be a fantastic final season for Gotham. I couldn’t help but love the scene when Gordon and Bruce were standing on the roof of the GCPD together. With Gordon shining a spotlight on the sky to give people hope, foreshadowing so many of their interactions in the years to come. As Bruce walks away at the end of the scene, Gordon ask him if he regrets staying behind in Gotham, Bruce replies “No. You?”. Jim Gordons smiles and says “Hell no”. Am I looking forward to the rest of Gotham’s Final Season? Hell, yes.

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Gotham (Season 5) “Year Zero” – 8.5/10

Thanks for reading!

-Paul

PODCAST: The X-Men In The MCU!

Hey Everyone,

Paul here…

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In this Episode, guest co-host Mike Cole and I discuss the X-Men joining the MCU. We talk about the direction we’d like to see the franchise take. Should they somehow incorporate the existing X-Men movies into the MCU or just start fresh? What kind of stories and characters do we want to see? Finally, what casting ideas might we have about the X-Men? Oh, and where does Deadpool fit into all this? This and so much more on The World’s Best Podcast! Listen here or subscribe on Stitcher and iTunes:

https://www.spreaker.com/episode/15874864

iTunes 

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-worlds-best-podcast/id1246038441?mt=2#episodeGuid=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.spreaker.com%2Fepisode%2F15874864

Below are Amazon links to the excellent X-Men comics I mentioned at the end of the podcast, in case you’d like to read them for your self which I highly recommend.

New X-Men (Grant Morrison)

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https://www.amazon.com/New-X-Men-Vol-Grant-Morrison/dp/0785132511/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1538621565&sr=1-1&keywords=new+x-men+morrison&dpID=512Xw6m4MaL&preST=_SY344_BO1,204,203,200_QL70_&dpSrc=srch

 

Astonishing X-Men (Joss Whedon)

Ultimate X-Men (Mark Millar)

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https://www.amazon.com/Ultimate-X-Men-Collection-Vol/dp/0785121870/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1538621885&sr=1-3&keywords=Ultimate+X-men+Mark+Millar

Thanks for listening!

-Paul

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Why Disney Buying 20th Century Fox Is A Bad Idea (Especially For Genre Fans)

 

For the past few weeks rumors have bounced around Hollywood that Disney was in serious talks to buy the film and television divisions of 20th Century Fox. Now, it seems that after weeks of negotiation, this deal will become a reality.

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If you’re sharp and pay attention to this kind of thing (and World’s Best Media) you may have already put 2 and 2 together and realized why I might be pretty happy about this news. After all Disney owns Marvel Studios which gives us the Marvel Cinematic Universe and from the beginning, the MCU didn’t have access to key Marvel characters like the X-MEN, Fantastic Four, and until recently, Spider-Man. The film rights to X-Men and FF are held by 20th Century Fox. On paper this would mean everyone is coming home to Marvel. However, I’m not as enthusiastic about this deal as you may think…

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After the utter shit show that was Amazing Spider-Man 2, Sony who still owns the film rights to Spider-Man, made the very smart move of making their current deal with Marvel Studios, Which means that Marvel Studios has our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man swinging around with The Avengers (at least for a few more films, but something tells me that will be extended) as well as creative control of the Spider-Man movies they’re making.

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Now, if Sony had handled Spider-Man pretty poorly before their Marvel Studios deal, then Fox has handled the Fantastic Four like a deliberate train wreck. Fantastic Four and it’s sequel Fantastic Four: Rise of The Silver Surfer aren’t going to be on anyone’s list of the all time great superhero films. But last years attempted reboot, FF, made those films look like The Dark Knight. For studio’s to retain the rights to these characters they need to keep making movies within a certain period of time before the rights revert back to Marvel. I don’t think anyone thought Fox was going to throw away hundreds of millions of dollars on another sad attempt to develop a film from a property that they clearly don’t understand. My point is that eventually, something similar to the Spider-Man deal would have been worked out with Marvel, if not the rights reverting back to Marvel Studios outright.

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(My God, seriously, these movies are SO, SOOOOO bad. Just… What the fuck?!)

When Bryan Singer was making the the 1st X-men film, it was clear FOX that didn’t understand what they had. The movie had a a pretty small budget compared to the Superhero juggernauts we see today. So (even though it was released in July, the heart of tent pole, summer block busters) they didn’t have much faith in the movie. Ryan McDonald (World’s Best Media contributor) once said to me that the first X-MEN film is a science fiction movie and not really a superhero film. I always thought that was a great observation and if you rewatch X-MEN as a sci-fi movie, it works a little better than superhero film. X2 on the other hand felt much more like a superhero film, as well as feeling much more like the X-MEN Comics.

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The first X-Men film doesn’t get nearly enough credit for creating the Golden Age of comic book movies that exists today. As the superhero movie making process began to drastically change after X-MEN was released in 2000, The X-MEN films have always been there chugging along. In the 17 years since X-MEN was released there have been 10 X-MEN movies counting Deadpool. This is a series that has had major highs and lows. But lately something really great has been happening to the X-MEN franchise, which brings to my main point: I don’t want the X-MEN part of The MCU (for a couple of reasons).

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First, in a time when every damn studio is looking to emulate Marvel’s golden model of a “shared universe”, The X-MEN movies have been doing the “shared universe”-thing without even trying. Anyone who reads comics knows that The X-MEN have so many decades of characters, storylines, spin-offs, crossovers, and events that they’re a universe unto themselves in Marvel Comics. My point is that though they are very much Marvel characters, there’s so damn much going on in the comics to cherry pick from for the movies, The X-MEN films don’t need the MCU to be successful. The X-MEN are a never ending stream of characters and stories. Think about everything that’s happened in The X-MEN film franchise and imagine if that was part of the MCU. It would be a goddamn mess.The X-MEN mythology is too big and unwieldy to dump into the MCU. It would just be too much. Yes, it would be cool to see Wolverine and Beast, two classic Avengers members, on the team. And yeah, sure it’d be cool to have the Avengers face off against Magneto and a cool version of The Brotherhood. In the end, it wouldn’t be worth it though. Even in the comics, The X-MEN are kind of off in their own little corner right now.

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(Look at all this! It’s madness!!!)

Second, Fox is doing so many interesting things with The X-MEN in film and TV it would be a shame to stifle and censor the creativity that we’ve seen in the franchise lately. Legion on FX was on of the years best shows and one if the most wildly unique comic book adaptations that I’ve ever seen. Logan could be nominated for or even win an Academy Award with incredible performances from Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart (Seriously, it would be a crime if Hugh Jackman doesn’t get awards attention for this unforgettable movie). Then of course we have Deadpool which would NEVER, EVER, EVER be made if it was in the MCU at the time. Legion, Logan, and Deadpool are some of the best superhero stories ever made. Fox is taking bold risks with their X-MEN properties. With projects like the upcoming New Mutants movie being a straight up horror film with X-Men characters in it, it seem like this studio is willing to do the type of out of the box super hero stories that will keep comic book adaptations alive. Comic Books aren’t a genre, they’re a storytelling medium and the projects I listed above are proof of that. Hell, Logan might as well be a straight up western.

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I will admit that the silver lining for me is that Marvel Studios will have access to the Fantastic Four which I desperately want to be part of The MCU. Seeing Tony Stark and Reed Richards, two of the comic book world’s biggest pieces of shit, finally on screen together recklessly causing more problems than they solve would be a delight. Of course, seeing The Avengers fight Doctor Dom would be fucking amazing. But The X-Men and The MCU don’t need each other right now. Maybe someday, but not now.

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I will say that I think it’s a good thing that Marvel never had access to their A-list characters like the X-Men and Spider-Man when they first started the MCU. Instead they had to use lesser-known characters like Captain America and Iron Man, which forced them to be more creative and pull more deeply from the rich roster of characters that Marvel has. Which would’ve meant we’d most likely never have gotten something like the wonderful Guardians of the Galaxy on the big screen.

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Obviously this is out of my hands, I don’t know if they’re going to somehow make an attempt to put the existing X-Men universe into the MCU or if they’re going to treat the X-Men as brand new characters that we’ve never seen before in this universe. I think if they do decide to make the X-Men part of the MCU, the smartest way to go would be to recast and go in a complete different direction than what’s been done before. It’s going to happen anyway one way or another. At the end of the day I’ll be happy if they finally get fucking Doctor Doom right at the very least.

Thanks for reading !
-Paul