REVIEW: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

I don’t know what movie the critics saw but it wasn’t the one I saw. Batman V Superman (BVS) was a very solid film. Is it perfect? No, but it seems the 3-hour version when it’s released my fix that. I may be wrong but a lot of the negative stuff I heard before I saw the movie seems to be less about its merits and more about expectations and the climax, which offends some people because a major character “dies”. Rest assured, that character is not dead. But people expecting a wall to wall action movie were also disappointed because most of the action is in the last third of the film. That does not make it a bad film. It built up its story very well, and did it with a level of seriousness, which was another complaint, but it was a justified tone if you followed the narrative.

The story is centered around Batman/Bruce Wayne. He narrates the story and is basically the eyes that we see all the spectacle with. Being mortal, he is grounded and this film is mainly from his perspective. The story is about how he was traumatized as a kid by the death of his parents and then horrified by the battle of Metropolis seen in Man of Steel. Many of his employees died or were crippled in that event. So he is driven to make sure it doesn’t happen again, but in doing so falls prey to the antagonist of the story, Lex Luthor.

Superman is a supporting character, not the lead. He is the target of Lex Luthor who wants to destroy him because he hates the very idea of him. He doesn’t believe he could be noble. He sees the world with corrupt and jaded eyes, so he wants Superman ruined. As a result he puts together a series of events designed to make people fear and distrust him. He seeks any means to wipe him out, including government intervention.

Lois Lane and Superman are clearly in love. Lois seeks to find answers on an event where she was almost killed. This event leads her to discover things that parallel a ibvestigation of Bruce Waynes. I won’t reveal much more than that, but it all holds together for the most part.

Diana Prince is another character who shows up investigating Luthor and her path crosses Wayne’s. It all comes together in the big battle which is something Luthor sets up, pushing Batman and Superman against each other. Luthor is far from stupid. This is a prettyu smart and clever version of him. His mannerisms reveal he is a little touched in the head, but he knows what ghe is doing.

All of this is a set up for a Justice League movie. So what happens in the climax is in service of justifying that, and it really doesn’t detract from it. It gives it more urgency. But people who don’t like what happens blame the film. When people have more time to chew on this film I believe it will be considered more of a classic. I watched a ton of reviews on Youtube by fan critics and even the ones who liked it got a lot wrong. They weren’t paying attention. That’s probably because there was a lot to take in and digest. On repeat viewings I think people will be more favorable to it.

It’s kind of the opposite of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which was universally loved despite many faults and absurd coincidences. That film was very derivative. This film was very fresh from a comics film perspective, The story is taken from several major comics but it was put together well. It didn’t feel like they were trying to be like something else, say the Avengers, whereas TFA was basically trying to be like classic Star Wars a little too much.

I wouldn’t be surprised if TFA gets viewed less favorably over time and BvS gets more favorably. Both were reviewed based on expectations rather than merit. To my mind BvS is a better film.

Why Capitalism Rules and Often Fails

The School of Life makes great videos about a lot of subjects, especially philosophy. I don’t always agree with their conclusions, but I wanted to talk about their history of Capitalism which is mostly great. Here’s the video ad then my response.

Where I disagree is their analogy of Jesus being anti-business which is not quite true and then comparing him to modern age anti-globalists who are often incoherant Marxists who don’t even understand what they are really angry about.

The fault is in ourselves, not Capitalism. Humans are creatures of desire. Human nature rules all human endeavor. Why capitalism is a success is it best anticipates human nature and works with it. Anything that is against human nature leads to failure and disaster. Your mention of East Germany is a perfect example. You could throw in Cuba, North Korea, Lybia, Venezuela, Zimbabwe, Syria, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, all socialist experiments that turned to horror shows. They were all critics of capitalism and they were or are hells of their own making where human rights are squashed while they blather on about their free education (aka indoctrination and propaganda). A free society offers education also, and often the choice of schools. A much better deal.

It isn’t capitalism’s fault that there are poor people. Capitalism has lifted more people out of poverty than any other system. The problem is the wealth capitalism produces makes rich countries magnets for people from poor countries, who flock there and sap the economies by sucking their social programs dry. Government regulation in those countries also limits the growth of companies, thus hindering opportunities. Crony capitalism, where corporations buddy up with government, block smaller companies for succeeding. The government, working with corporate lobbyists get laws passed to hold smaller business back, which in turn hurts the economy over time by limiting growth and employment options.

Human nature is the enemy. Capitalism is the best system we have to date, but yes, it can be improved. It will not be improved by trying to end it. It will only be improved by letting it breathe more while working on ways to enrich our culture. Right now the world culture is rotting. Until we work on making society better, it won’t matter what kind of economic system there is. But capitalism, at least, offers a way out of poverty.

In a way their video about Saint Augustine drives this point home. Society is the fault. A greater empathy is needed if we are to truly advance.

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We All Live in A Cave

The first superstar philosopher was a man named Plato who lived in Ancient Greece. He remains a huge influence in the world today even though most people don’t realize it. If you believe that government can lead us to a kind of utopia, then you believe in Plato’s ideas. Plato also coined the term utopia.

In his book the Republic where he outlined the concept of utopia, there’s an allegory called the cave. It happens to be one of the most insightful things ever written. The video below explains it well. Plato explained how people view reality in a distorted way, they don’t see things as they really are. And if a person who is more insightful tries to enlighten them, that person will be attacked. It’s as true now as it was 2,500 years ago.

The lesson of this story is that people who think they’ve learned the truth need to be patient with people who are ignorant. But also, they only have more information but that doesn’t mean they have all the answers. Being more knowledgeable about a subject does not mean you know the “truth”.

The Cave remains one of the greatest lessons of all time.

Nuclear Energy is the Answer

The three videos I’m posting here are excellent summaries of the nature of nuclear power, pro and con. I’ve always been pro-nuclear power for the simple reason that it produces the most energy besides fossil fuels, for the least ecological impact. So-called clean energy like solar and wind have massive problems, aside from the wildlife they kill, the cost to make them far exceeds their energy production. In other words, they are largely boondoggles that take tax dollars that could be used for other things and largely wastes it. Better technology will be produced and would be produced sooner if that money had been spent on R and D.

Nuclear. however, has the best safety record in all of energy. The reactors last for a long time. And the most famous accidents mostly occurred in communist countries with poor safety standards and designs. The other big one being in Japan which is geologically unstable. The Fukushima reactor disaster was caused by the double whammy of an earthquake and tsunami. It’s difficult for anything to avoid acts of god.

This first video explains nuclear power in a nutshell.

Now for the con argument. The biggest ones are the few nuclear accidents that which were 30 years apart. And the fact that nuclear waste has to be buried deep in the ground. The second and can be answered with policy. The first with better safety and design. They also bring up the fact that necular power plants can be used to produce fuel used in weapons. What they don’t say is how hard it is to be created. And the fact that advances in design could eliminate that problem. This will be explained in the third part.

A lot of scare tactics are used to suppress nuclear power development. But any environmentalists are coming around to the notion that nuclear power really is a green energy. It ;s the least environmentally toxic when you consider that if properly dealt with, the waste can be safely contained. The French, who are the most nuclear friendly nation per capita (80% of their electricity comes from nuclear power plants) and a large exporter of energy to the rest of Europe, have developed an excellent container for waste disposal that works. The science of processing nuclear waste will continue to advance until there is no issue anymore. So here’s the pro-nuclear argument in a nutshell.

In the final analysis, it’s a better solution in these times to many other sources of energy. As technology advances, it will be eclipsed by things like nuclear fusion and others. But in the meantime, it’s something we know that works andf can take care of our needs. The only thing holding us up is politics and ignorance.

The Robots are Coming

So, if the election has you worried about the future, here’s a little video to cheer you up. It’s a very well-produced explanation of how robots will soon take everyone’s job. We’re looking at maybe fifteen to twenty years before it’s really serious, but this is likely to happen.

I grew up reading a lot of science fiction and it was a common theme in a lot of novels. In those books they imagined that robots would make the world easier and do all the hard work. And that is likely still going to be the case. Where the problem arises is how do people survive in this economy if there are no more jobs to speak of. Certainly a problem to consider. The good news is we may live in a post-scarcity society where things are so cheap to produce, there is plenty of abundance and new ways to make a living.

Certainly people who want some kind of socialist utopia might see this as a boon, but the truth is, there is a lot that has to be figured out. We have more people than we need already. Society has been hell bent on growth for so long, but demographic decline need not be a bad thing. We could have less people and a healthy society. The hard part is figuring out how we get through the transition period.

Agenda!

When I was in the hospital last year losing my right leg, I amused myself coming up with characters that would be fun to write. Once I had a bunch I started piecing together a comic to go with then and hence, Agenda! was born.

Agenda! is a superhero series without the conventions of the genre. It’s not about good guys fighting bad guys. It’s about people who have some kind of power and they decide to use it to further their goals. To make the world a better place as they see it. However, each of them finds the world is not a place that’s receptive to radical change. When someone wants to upset the apple cart, they will be resisted. In the case of Agenda! the characters are not all in agreement on what needs to be done. Conflict will arise. But I’ll leave it up to the audience to decide who they want to root for.

At the beginning, the characters don’t know each other but they will soon find themselves having to deal with each other in some fashion or another. I don’t intend to play it safe. This will be my idea of how superheroes might deal with the world, and there will be consequences. I’m very excited about working on it.

The art will be done by Matt Cossin who is a very talented young artist who also happens to be local to me, which is great. Matt has been working with me on the character designs. We’ve got a bunch to go, but I thought I’d reveal the first couple characters. The story will be told online at first and then collected.

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Frank McCarthy

The other artist I love from the sixties is Frank McCarthy who often tag teamed with Robert McGinnis on a lot of James Bond movie posters. he also did many amazing movie posters and book covers in his career and now does fantastic western paintings. Here’s a sample. Click to enlarge.

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Robert McGinnis

One of my all time favorite painters is Robert McGinnis who did a lot of movie posters when I was a kid. His most famous are the Sean Connery and Roger Moore James Bond posters, but he also did many more classics. His style has a fantastic use of color and his representation of action scenes is really top tier. Here are a few of his from the sixties that I love. Click to enlarge.

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Robert McGinnis Thunderball 4

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Comics Fest 2016

I’ll be at the San Diego Comics Fest in Mission Valley, at the Town and Country hotel Saturday and Sunday, I’ll be on a bunch of panel’s Sunday but will be wandering around the rest of the time. Feel free to say hi. I’ll be in my wheel chair as I haven’t mastered the leg yet. But I am getting there.

Remembering Steve Gerber

Today is the anniversary of the passing of my friend Steve Gerber. We worked together on the Ultraverse for Malibu. We shared lots of lunches together when we met for our writers group in Las Vegas. I met Steve in 1984, when he was living in Las Vegas and I went there with cat yronwode and Deal Mullaney for a distributor’s convention. We became friends over the years. He was a very smart and decent human being. (Art by Val Mayerik)

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