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Goodnight Justice League: A superhero bedtime poem

As a father who waves the geek flag proudly, I am always looking to inject anything comic book, sci-fi, or fantasy related into my daughter’s routine. And after having a really hard time finding a proper goodnight book that didn’t annoy me (aside from goodnight moon, which is excellent), I decided to just write one myself. If I could actually draw, I’d even illustrate it.

I call it: “Goodnight Justice League”. She seems to like it. I’m sharing it here, just in case other geek parents find it applicable.

Goodnight Justice League.

In a shining moonbase called the Watchtower,

Sits a green Martian with shapechanging power.

He watches the monitor, vigilant and wise,

But soon falls asleep and closes his eyes.

And soon he is relieved, monitor duty done,

For Green Arrow is here, to have all the fun.

In a world of Luthors and Jokers and Sinestros and Cheetahs,

We can all sleep soundly, for the Justice League watch over us.

Goodnight J’onn, Manhunter from Mars,

Goodnight Batman, and all your bat-cars.

Goodnight Superman and your wife Lois Lane,

Goodnight Wonder Woman, and your invisible plane.

Goodnight Batgirl, in your billowing black cape,

Goodnight Flash, saving the city from a big bad Ape.

Goodnight Aquaman, noble King of the Sea,

Goodnight Green Lantern, with your power battery.

Goodnight Oracle, smart, sassy and geeky,

Goodnight Supergirl and your pet cat Streaky.

Goodnight Robin, Red Robin, and Nightwing as well,

Goodnight Zatanna, casting a backwards spell.

Goodnight Earth,

See you in the new day.

For when Evil attacks,

They fall to the JLA.

Goodnight!

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Top 10: Favourite Comic Book Movies

With the release of so many comic book adaptations coming out this year and next, I figured it was about time I reassessed my top 10 list. Come on, comic fans, you know you guys have a list too.

Now I stress… this is my favourites list, so I won’t be doing any film school analyses of hero’s journey and third act turning points and the like. I won’t be looking at Metacritic scores are Oscar Awards. These are my favourite comic book films. Period.

And for the sake of brevity, and because I’m too damn lazy, no pictures in this post!

10. Iron Man 

This one shocked me. I am far from the world’s biggest Iron Man fan, in fact after Marvel’s Civil War crossover, I downright hated the character. I hated him so much that when he appeared in JMS’ Thor and Neil Gaiman’s Eternals, I got a thrill from seeing the titular characters layeth the smacketh down on Tony Stark’s candy-ass.

And so I went into the Iron Man screening ready to hate the hell out of the damn thing. Nothing could make me like Tony Stark. Nothing.

Except for Robert Downey, jr. apparently.

Not only was the film itself a rousing, fun thrill ride, RDJ gave me a Tony Stark that was vulnerable yet bad-ass, smarmy yet charming, infantile yet heroic. He was a mess of contradictions that made him fun to watch and easy to root for. The plot itself was alright, nothing great, and the villain was a cardboard cutout, but this film makes my list on the strength of RDJ alone.

9. Constantine

Yes, Keanu Reeves was horribly miscast. But if  you look beyond that, and the americanization of John Constantine, then what you’ll find is a smart supernatural thriller that is well worth a look, even if just to see Peter Stormare ham it up as Lucifer.

 

8. Superman Returns

And here’s where I completely lose most of my readers. Yes, Returns is an overlong homage to a better film, yes it recycled too many motifs that we’ve seen before, yes Superman should have had more “super” things to do than just lift things, yes the super-baby story is… unnecessary and kinda creepy, and yes Kate Bosworth is arguably the worst Lois Lane we’ve ever seen.
But goshdarnit, I enjoyed watching it. I am a die hard Superman fan, and have been since I was a kid. Until Returns came out, I had not had a chance to see Big Blue soar across the big screen. This film gave me a chance to do exactly that.

And for all it’s problems, there are many things I REALLY enjoyed. The plane sequence, obviously, was thrilling and worthy of a Superman film. The effects were great, the flights were well done, and Routh is picture perfect for the role. It’s just too bad that we won’t get to see him really let loose in the next film.

7. X2: X-Men United

After getting the origin stuff out of the way, director Bryan Singer gave us the X-Men film we’d all been waiting for. This one had everything: a (slightly) expanded role for Shadowcat, hints of the Dark Phoenix story-line, a greater emphasis on Jackman’s excellent performance of Wolverine, and a dark story that really delved even more into the core differences between Magneto and Xavier’s respective philosophies.

The mutant battles were better staged, there was no real standout horrible line of dialogue (ala Storm’s “You know what happens when a toad gets struck by lightning?” line from the first film), and Brian Cox (no, not the physicist) was exceptional as William Stryker.

This, for me, was the pinnacle of the X-Men films, and is the highest ranked Marvel film you’ll find on my list. So stop looking for Spider-Man 2.

6. Batman Begins

Yes, I enjoyed the Burton films, Batman Returns more than the other, but the Nolan pictures are better in almost every aspect. Well… except for Bale’s Batman voice.

Explaining why Batman Begins is such a great film would take up an entire post, so I’m going to limit myself to saying: This is how an origin film should be made. And the casting is spot on.

And Kevin Conroy should re-dub this movie. Just saying.

5. The Rocketeer

This is one of my favourite childhood movies. There’s a sense of whiz-bang fun pulpy adventure that permeates every scene in this thing, and that makes it impossible not to like. The flight scenes are amazing, the characters are well drawn, and the acting is superb.

But you know what my favourite thing about this is? The score. Composer James Horner has provided some amazing genre film soundtracks over the years (Aliens, Star Trek II, The Abyss, etc.), but the main theme he concocted for The Rocketeer is definitely one of his best. Lyrical and melodic, it captures the joy and wonder, and indeed the romance, of flight so perfectly, that when I dream of flying, this is the soundtrack I hear. John Williams’ Superman theme may be my favourite Superhero music, but this comes a close second.

4. Superman

And speaking of John Williams, his score for Superman was so perfect, that to this day, it is one of the defining elements of the Superman character for an entire generation.

The other defining element has to be Christopher Reeve. What was interesting about Reeve’s Superman is that his interpretation of the iconic character is not that of a muscle-bound strong man. Instead, Reeve’s Superman is lean, noble, kind, and oozing with humility. He’s a gentleman in a world of cynics. Would that we all were so…

3. The Dark Knight

Much like Bryan Singer did with X2, Nolan followed up his origin movie with a film that solidified everything people liked about the first. TDK is a masterful crime epic, Heat with capes as some people would say, and it gave us one of the single greatest villains to grace our modern screens.

Heath Ledger’s Joker is nothing like we’ve seen before, definitely not the mugging, campy Joker that Jack Nicholson gave us. It’s a shame that we won’t get to see where Nolan and Ledger could have taken us in succeeding films.

2. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind

Most people don’t know this, but Hayao Miyazaki’s wonderful post apocalyptic sci-fi epic did not start out as a film that then got turned into a manga series. In fact, the Japanese legend had to produce the comic book first, just to prove that the concept he came up with was a viable one.

And, boy, is it.

Nausicaa, which follows the adventures of our titular heroine as she strives to bring peace and life back to a barren future, is a timeless classic, as relevant in our fossil-fuel driven culture today as it was in the 80’s, which was when this film came out. It is a message film, yes, but its message is wrapped in a wonderful coming of age story about a young girl accepting her destiny in a world determined to destroy itself.

Beautiful, poignant, gloriously animated, and with a haunting soundtrack, Nausicaa is not only one of my favourite comic book films… it’s one of my favourite films, period.

Aaaaannnndddd…..

1. Road to Perdition

Until Nolan took over the Batman franchise, this was the film I pointed to when people said that there were no quality films to come out of DC after Tim Burton took off. The original graphic novel was a competent crime drama, a standard Max Allan Collins story about a boy’s road trip with his gangster dad.

But when Oscar winning director Sam Mendes teamed up with Oscar winning cinematographer Conrad Hall, Oscar winning actors Tom Hanks and Paul Newman, and Grammy award winning composer Thomas Newman (I lied when I said I wouldn’t talk awards pedigree), Road to Perdition becomes an elegaic masterpiece.

This is a beautiful film; beautifully written, beautifully shot, beautifully acted, and beautifully scored. I’m going to devote a whole post to this film eventually, so I’ll keep my praise here short.

There are a handful of films that, when I watch them, make me feel lucky enough that I was alive to see them. They are life-affirming films that I go back to whenever I feel that the world is dark, or the pressures of my life are starting to get to me. They re-affirm that there is beauty in life, that there is magic and soul. The Shawshank Redemption is one. Road to Perdition is another.

Not only is this my favourite comic book film of all time, it is in my top five favourite films of all time. Period.