“Gotham” Season 3 – Great Villain Arcs But Story is a Little Cluttered

  This was a cluttered season but also gave some of the best villain moments throughout this entire series. When I was watching it as it was coming out on Fox I eventually got a bit burned out during the first half of the Mad City arc but after it came to Netflix ended up marathoning it and got a much greater appreciation for what the writers were trying to do. This was a season where I think the writers must have thought they might be canceled after, because the ending gives enough of an end that it would have been a good ending to the show. There are character endings and also beginnings for some major events. I’ll save that for the spoilers though, for now this season is worth your time if you’ve been watching the show thus far.

The story involves the recovery of those who broke out of Indian Hill at the end of last season and a re-alignment of powers as Fish Mooney leaves town with Strange, leaving Penguin to fill the power vacuum as he decides to run for mayor, and a new threat arrives on the scene in the form of The Mad Hatter who wants to make the city mad with his sister’s blood. From here the story unfolds as the Court of Owls continues to manipulate events behind the scenes as Alfred, Bruce and Jim must deal with these threats.

SPOILERS ahead

The Madness Arc / Mad Hatter / Tetch Virus Arc  – The Mad Hatter is a creepy and wonderfully scary villain. He is all about mind games and the whole arc with his sister is tragic as his obsession is what destroys any sort of friendship or connection they might have had. This fuels his madness as it her blood that the Court of Owls wants and uses to infect the populace. By the end it is unknown where he is and his arc is eventually defeated by Hugo Strange and the GCPD, but together Jim Gordon gets infection, Commissioner Barnes gets infected (becoming The Executioner), Lee Thompkins and countless others. The Mad Hatter is the core driving threat through the season, even after he is in Arkham.

The Creation of The Riddler – This is the season where we finally see Edward Nygma become the Riddler. Before there was always hints of it and he had been a villain and murderer prior, but this was where he sought an identity that was unique after he shoots Penguin and leaves him to die. It is really cool seeing him at the top of the criminal underworld as his obsession is with quality art, science and the areas of higher learning. He kicks off his killing spree by killing a bunch of professors. This fit the character beautifully and Cory Michael Smith has really grown into this role.

Return of Jerome / The Joker – The weakest Joker in live action thus far is Jared Leto, his Joker is the only one where there isn’t a threat about him and his drive is so weak (money, Harley Quinn). Jerome is the Joker who inhabits the philosophical sociopathy of the character as when he is resurrected the first thing he does is a call for a “Purge” style event where people can do whatever they want, as he attempts to corrupt Bruce Wayne before killing him as they tour the circus. It has elements of “The Killing Joke” in it and when he is defeated by Bruce Wayne, you know he’s coming back. This is where the character truly comes into his own in “Gotham” and the fact that he has a Jokerz cult already gives him even more power than he has in a lot of the different versions of him.

The Rise, Fall and Rise Once More of Penguin – One of the main arcs this season and really of the show is that Penguin will rise fall and rise again. He’s like The Drowned God as each time he comes back he is powerful than before. In this we see his love for Nygma lead to his undoing as he kills Nygma’s love out of jealousy and soon realizes no one liked him, they only respected him out of fear. It is this realization after he is no longer Mayor and Fish forgives him that we see him come into his own. He grows as a person and puts Nygma behind ice as a reminder never to love again as he incorporates Fish’s gang into his own after her death by the hands of Jim Gordon. Robin Lord Taylor’s Penguin continues to be one of the best parts of this show.

The Arrival of Ra’s Al Ghul – Another major arc of this series is the reveal of the League of Shadows who are shown to be the ones pulling the strings behind the Court of Owls and that the past times Gotham has been destroyed is because of them. They are extremely powerful in this and brainwash Bruce to the point that he stabs Alfred and has to save his life. We also see that the Tetch Virus was never that big of a deal to them as Ra’s (played amazingly by Alexander Siddig) reveals that knowing Bruce will be his heir is enough and that he is nothing but patient. Whether he still is in Gotham or was ever in Gotham is unknown as his robes appear empty when Bruce tries to slash him. I really like this version of the character and I really hope the show doesn’t mess up. Siddig is perfect for this role.

Okay: Selena and Bruce’s Lovestory – This was really kind of lame. I’m not putting it as a con because it did develop their trust issues and why they’d never work as a couple, but it went nowhere and was pointless.

The Cons: Cluttered Storytelling – Hugo Strange and his creations, Penguin as Mayor, The Court of Owls, the Mad Hatter, the creation of the Riddler the rise of Barbara, The Executioner’s creation and the League of Shadows. There is so much this season and it clutters the overall execution.

The Bruce Wayne Clone – This arc didn’t go anywhere. He was there just to give time for Bruce to get brainwashed and was only a plot device. What a lame end to an idea that could have been done decently this season.

The Handling of Lee and Barbara – Lee is the damsel nearly the entire time and can’t be trusted with anything and Barbara is crazy and turns on anyone, even those who are her allies. I hate how women have been handled overall in this show and it is a major factor that kept this season from being great. In the end Barbara dies so that arc went nowhere and Lee once again leaves Gotham, which already happened before, so who knows if she’ll be back again.

Overall this was an extremely solid season, even with how cluttered it became with so many arcs going on. The weakest parts were really the heroes. Jim Gordon was okay and I liked his moral grey that he had early on and kept through the season, but Bruce really didn’t have a great moment until he knocked out Jerome / The Joker and showed that all the setup the past seasons was finally going somewhere. It had some things I really loved, like Alexander Siddig as Ra’s Al Ghul, Nygma coming into his own as the Riddler, Hugo Strange showing up a few times and of course everything with the Penguin and Joker. This was where the series shined and made it a solidly good experience I’d recommend.

Final Score: 8.5 / 10

Batman: Assault on Arkham (2014) – An Underutilized Waller and Suicide Squad

Assault on Arkham

    So many of these DC films have potential. The “Arkham” Games are a great series that manage to explore the Universe in such a way that villains feel respected and like a threat versus in this they feel mostly small time or not wholly their own characters and underutilized, which is shame as this is a Suicide Squad film, one of the most fascinating groups in the DC Universe in one of the greatest Game Universes. This film still manages to be alright, but Amanda Waller and her threat feels like missed potential, you have a problem.

     “Batman: Assault on Arkham” was directed by Jay Oliva and Ethan Spaulding and written by Heath Corson and produced by James Tucker.

    The films involves Amanda Waller (C.C.H. Pounder) bringing together the Suicide Squad to infiltrate Arkham Asylum to get information held in the Riddler’s Staff. The team must deal with the threats of each other and Batman (Kevin Conroy) who is tracking them.

The Pros: The Animation – WB and DC animation do a good job with this. It captures some of the feel of the games, even if the animation is a bit more like that of the other current DC Animated films, but it still has enough character for me to make it a pro.

The Suicide Squad – They are underutilized overall but I like the idea and how some of the characters are handled.

King Shark – This guy is the Killer Croc of the team and is a lot of fun! He’s a cannibal but he falls in love with Killer Frost and she kind of does too, their relationship is adorable as this is the guy who wants to eat any enemies he comes into contact with. His design is funny and threatening too as he has a bit fin on his head and a metal mouth.

Killer Frost – Killer Frost is Waller’s agent who was sent to kill the Riddler since he broke away from Waller’s control. She never stops serving Waller and has good moments with the characters given that none of them can trust her.

Harley Quinn – Harley is very much the Harley of the games and sadly has an identity only as the Joker’s girlfriend in the end. She sleeps with Deadshot and tries to kill the Joker once before becoming old Harley again. I was hoping they’d do something more with her character but since this is a prequel and in the games she’s weak, of course they went this way. She’s still a pro though since it is great seeing Harley even if she isn’t used fully, in action.

The Riddler – Riddler is small character but his conversations with Waller and Killer Frost are great. This is a character who is all about the puzzles and they capture that decently here.

Amanda Waller – Waller should have been so much more badass. She was voiced by the actress whose voiced her in the Justice League (C.C.H. Pounder) and she’s amazing. Sadly here all her plans don’t end up going well and she isn’t shown to be a good villain this is a shame as she starts strong by killing KGBeast and Frost’s betrayal.

Joker – Joker breaks out during the Suicide Squad assault when Harley tries to kill him but it makes it so he can escape. He’s good but doesn’t do anything super memorable. He survives the impossible but his plan isn’t all that deep or funny…so he was good but not great.

Batman – Kevin Conroy voices Batman! To me he’ll always be the best Batman (the one in Season 1 of “Batman: The Animated Series,” and in this we see his detective work as he figures out where Joker’s bomb is and what the Suicide Squad and Waller are up too. He solves everything so it is good Batman, though I wish he’d lost this one.

Okay: Black Spider – Ninja on Suicide Squad who dies fast, at least his clash with Deadshot was interesting but brief.

Deadshot – The guy has a daughter and is presented as a rogue Mercenary. He wins every situation though and is the main character of everything. He was the definition of a Gary Stu/Mary Sue. He had no real weaknesses. He was okay at least, but not good.

The Cons: kGBeast – Waller blows off his head. He is just kind of there.

Boomerang – This guy is annoying, he seems to only exist to clash with Deadshot and is a punk. So surprised this guy wasn’t the one they chose to kill off. He seems to only exist to make Deadshot look good by comparison.

The Ending – Waller doesn’t win and Deadshot is targeting her with his Sniper Rifle…I never wanted to root for Deadshot, i was rooting for Waller and Harley…this was annoying and ruined what could have been a great dark film showing the danger of Waller.

    For a film that features the Suicide Squad I was hoping they’d actually win. It is okay for Batman to lose sometimes but it implies he doesn’t since Deadshot does what Batman can’t and even if he doesn’t kill Amanda Waller, at least defangs her a for a while. This is a shame as even within the games her organization was a perpetual threat behind the scenes, it is hard to take the threat seriously after this, Batman will just solve it on his own. There were some good things in this though…Harley Quinn and the Joker for one as well as C.C.H. Pounder returning to voice Waller, she had some great moments in the beginning even if they failed to have it payoff.

Final Score: 7.6 / 10

Batman & Robin (1997): Bad Puns, Writing, Acting and an all Around Disaster

Batman and Robin

    “Batman & Robin” is the worst movie I have ever watched. Rarely have I ever seen something that had no redeemable aspects to it, as even Michael Bay films have explosions and action when you can actually see the action happening. This…the actors, script, score and characters are all awful. I usually try to look for something positive to say about a film as some bad things have some redeemable traits in the end, this was film where I couldn’t find any. I’m honestly surprised this film didn’t kill more film careers…at the very least Schumacher should have realized that he can’t direct. This film is a travesty.

    The film was directed by Joel Schumacher, written by Akiva Goldsman and produced by Peter MacGregor-Scott.

    The story, if it can be called that…involves Batman (George Clooney) and Robin (Chris O’Donnell) working to stop Mr. Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and the new villain Poison Ivy (Uma Thurman) from destroying Gotham. Batgirl (Alicia Silverstone) arrives in town as well when Alfred falls ill (Michael Gough).

  There is nothing good to say about this film so I won’t even bother listing Pros and Okays, this film sucks all the way through.

The Soundtrack – The soundtrack doesn’t know if it wants to be Burton or Adam West’s “Batman” score. It’s chaotic and unfocused and doesn’t do anything to present our characters and scenes and just blends together in a score of awfulness. Elliot Goldenthal did a horrible job.

The Cinematography – The cinematography is awful…we get close ups of people’s faces and other times we have shots that are just bland and boring. There is no character in any of the scenes and it brings the entire thing down further.

The Writing – Akiva Goldman is an awful writer…maybe this film was just a fluke, but it is a pretty horrendous fluke. None of the characters have clear motivation, the drama is contrived ranging from love venom to contrived family drama…nothing works, it sucks.

The Characters – Related to the writing, the characters are nothing like their comic counterparts…and I would have settled for corny Adam West versions of these characters as that could have worked if that was the story we were given. Instead our characters kill and are supposed to be intense and cool, and just come off looking silly…from the designs of the suits, to the dialogue…nothing works about them.

Bane – Bane is a skinny prisoner who is pumped full of venom to become a big guy. He can just repeat words and is just muscle. There is nothing good about this character and he is easily defeated by the tube on the back of his head getting pulled out. What a waste of a fascinating character from the comics. This one is just muscle and could have been replaced by any goon.

Alfred – Alfred is dying, and I wish I cared but we never see our characters deal with him dying. He looks pained at times but Schumacher can’t give it the weight it deserves so it just becomes a footnote in the script as Alfred is relegated to just another body at Wayne Manor. Also they save him thanks to Mr. Freeze so what drama was there in dealing with mortality just goes away. Poor Michael Gough for being in this…

Barbara Wilson / Batgirl – Batgirl like Robin is presented as a rebel and badass but just comes off as stupid. The way she speaks makes her sound like an airhead and she doesn’t really help her case when random goons she is racing trick her and Robin leading to them almost getting killed. Making her Alfred’ niece was just contrived too. We learn nothing about this character and she contributes nothing to the picture.

Dick Grayson / Robin – Chris O’Donnell, you are an awful Robin. Your character was annoying in “Batman Forever” and here you are even worse. In this his punk tendencies and clashing with Batman are played up as he “loves” Poison Ivy. Seriously, this guy a joke of a character. Everything he does nearly leads to him getting killed and he just ends up getting captured or hurt. Screw this character.

Bruce Wayne / Batman – George Clooney is the worst Batman. His dialogue feels stilted and unnatural, he doesn’t feel disconnected like Bruce Wayne should and the only defining trait he has is that he is protective of Robin. His suit is also awful too as it has nipples and a cod piece. Clooney looks the part but he can’t act it at all, and he’s a great actor and this crappy script ruined him too.

Dr. Pamela Isley / Poison Ivy – Uma Thurman is a good actress but she is awful in this. Her character is a walking sex object and she has no character but a strange crush on Mr. Freeze and wanting to kill humanity. Her motivations are never fully explored and she’s all the worst aspects of what Hollywood does to their female villains. She only fights using sex and she is the only villain who gets punished in the end. Seriously, this script and this presentation of her character are awful. Poison Ivy is an interesting character (like Bane) but this script clearly didn’t know how to write her at all.

Mr. Freeze – Arnold makes bad puns, he loves his wife who is frozen but it’s unbelievable because his performance feels completely phoned in. It doesn’t help that he changes immediate at the end after learning about Poison Ivy’s betrayal…the tragedy of Mr. Freeze is one of the best stories to come out of animation and the comics but all of that is turned to crap as Mr. Feeze is just a gigantic buffoon whose plans change on a whim and is easily manipulated by clearly untrustworthy people (Poison Ivy). Also his costume looks awful and his goons fight with hockey sticks…really. Screw this movie for ruining another great character who may never see good live action film because of the film.

The Jokes – This film has so many bad puns, and they are one liners. It is just awful as there is no charm to any of it and all the puns feel forced. I am huge fan of puns as anyone who knows me can attest, but it is possible to do them wrong and this movie is a shining example.

The Ending – The power of friendship beats the baddies and Freeze implies he’s going to torture or do worse to Poison Ivy, you know a kids movie.

     How could so many things go wrong? Shumacher’s “Batman Forever” was at least mediocre, this doesn’t even strive for that. I can see why Tim Burton didn’t want to produce this crap and feel bad for everyone connected to this film. The acting, writing, filming and soundtrack are all just awful and there is nothing redeemable in this. The film even tries to kill Alfred but we care so little about the characters around him it doesn’t matter. Even with that, they just bring him back to life. This is a movie that could have done camp well, instead it didn’t know what it wanted to be and became an atrocity of a picture. This is a film that is only worth watching to take down as all the things not to do in film making are on display here. Seriously, Schumacher showed just how bad of a director he could be in this and Akiva Goldsman’s script is just a travesty. Let this film be a cautionary tale that it doesn’t matter how great your characters are in the comics (all the characters in this film) they can still be ruined on screen if their stories are put into the wrong hands.

Final Score: 0 / 10. Worst film I’ve ever watched.

“Batman” in Film – Upcoming Reviews

Batman Symbol

     After the “Disney Marvel Franchise Adventure” I figured it was time to return back to DC and to visit the area of DC Comics where the greatest amount of live action films have been good…so Batman, which seems to be the only thing that DC live action can seem to get right some of the time versus their other heroes which have either not been tackled beyond television (Flash, Green Arrow) or have even more bad films to their name (Green Lantern, Superman). Batman is the only one has enough live action films to really show a range in quality that can give a full illustration of what keeps bringing us back to this amazing character.

     I’ll be staring with the Adam West “Batman” from 1966, going through Burton’s “Batman” and “Batman Returns,” as well as doing “Batman Forever” and “Batman and Robin” before I get to Nolan’s “Dark Knight Trilogy.” I’ve already reviewed “Batman v. Superman” but will include it when I get to rating the different takes on Batman and rating all of the Batman films as a whole from Worst to Best.

    This is going to be quite an adventure and also a change of pace, which should be good. Batman is one of my favorite parts of the DC Universe and I can’t wait to see the Affleck’s solo flick if it comes together. This is a character who speaks to human vulnerability and strength better than nearly any hero in comics, which is why there has been so many films made about him.

   Many of these films are my favorite and some are some of the worst to come out of cinema. Suffice to say this is going to be a fun reviewing adventure and I look forward to hearing your own thoughts on the films that are reviewed and the final ratings at the end.

“Gotham” Season 1 – Establishing the Crazy City, The Moral Grey and Characters

Gotham Season 1

     “Gotham” was a series that I didn’t expect to like. Part of the reason is it does start out slow and the child actors are the weakest part of the series…but once the Gang Drama starts up it gets really fascinating. I grew to care about the different fighting Crime Lords  and wanted to see what they would do to rise and how they would fight one another. This is a show that is a Noir and as someone who has always enjoyed Noir style films the city of “Gotham” is the perfect location to tell a Noir Drama which over time pulled me and from there I grew to care about the series.

    The series was created by Bruno Heller who was also one of the producers along with Danny Cannon, John Stephens and Ben Edlund.

      The story is about Jim Gordon’s (Ben McKenzie) return to London and him facing the corruption of the city with his partner Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) as the drama between the Crime Lords tear the city apart as Gordon tries to establish order and solve the mystery behind the Wayne Murders.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros: The World of Gotham – Gotham is a fascinating world..and as a fan of Batman I really enjoyed this interpretation. What kind of world would it take for Batman to be a good thing? A pretty broken and crazy world and that is the world of Gotham, where the good are few and become corrupted and a new bad will always rise.

Law and Order  – The Law and Order side of Gotham is fascinating and we get to see some of Batman’s rogues and allies here and see what motivates them.

Edward Nygma – Nyma is fascinating as the awkward riddle man who is drawn to one of his coworkers who gets into a lot of abusive relationships. It is from him being the outsider and obsessive that we see him become corrupt when he kills his crushes abusive boyfriend, hides it and from there he breaks. Cory Michael Smith gives a tenderness to the character that isn’t often seen.

Sarah Essen – Sarah Essen is in charge of the Station and we see her advocate for Jim and Bullock, including risking her life when Zsasz comes for Gordon’s head on orders from Falcone. From here we see her walking the very thin line between her job and corruption as she does all she can to help. Zabryna Guevera is good.

Harvey Dent – Harvey is shown to be the driven and idealistic lawyer willing to take the fight to the Mob, until Loeb comes in and cuts out his feat from under him and we learn he will fight but he toes the line because he does have ambition. He doesn’t stop being Gordon’s ally though, even through it all. Nicholas D’Agosto is wonderful.

Leslie Tompkins – Leslie starts out as a Doctor in Arkham, but after her and Gordon hunt down one of the escapies she joins GPD and becomes their doctor as the past was fired for corruption. She is really cool and it’s great seeing Morena Baccerin (Inara from “Firefly”) again.

Harvey Bullock – Harvey is one of my favorite characters on the show. He’s the corrupt cop in so deep with the mob but because he is he knows how to keep peace on the streets and cut deals. It is the idealistic Gordon who changes him as we see him risk for more than himself and put himself out there helping Gordon reform Gotham and the GPD. Donal Logue is fantastic.

The Thugs and Crime Lords – These guys are the best part of the show, not the crazies…but the crime lords who use Gotham as their chessboard. Each of them has such fascinating motivations and it is a joy to see how those unfold.

Victor Zsasz – Zsasz is wonderful in this as the brutal thug and enforcer who has no fear. It is he who breaks Fish’s number 2, Butch and turns him into Falcone’s puppet. He also survives the gang war and upheavel at the end showing that he’s a survivor. He’s also really creepy too as he puts a cut on his body for every hit he does.

Butch – Butch is Fish’s number 2 who is broken by Falcone. He is the guy who turns on his friend because he believes in Fish only to lose it all when Zsasz breaks him and turns him into Penguin’s pet. He tries to rebel against it but fails in the end when Penguin reigns triumphant.

Carmine Falcone – Falcone is  an old world crime boss who keeps all his deals and shows that he can play the long game. When Fish plots rebellion he uses Penguin to reveal her as well as to reveal his rival Sal Maroni. In the end he is done with it all though as he goes into retirement away from it all as the fight is out of him and he’s tired of people and betrayal. Falcone’s primary drive is power and order and when order is lost all he wants is safety where he can keep his own power and order away from the chaos of Gotham.

Sal Maroni – David Zayas is awesome as Sal Maroni. After seeing him play a stupid and kind character in “Dexter” he is amazing as the smooth criminal who plays his cards really well right until the end when his insulting Fish Mooney leads to her head shotting him. His drive is respect and family and we see how his old friendships are what put him at risk, as well as his need for revenge and to be the leader of his world.

Fish Mooney – Jada Pinkett Smith is awesome as Fish Mooney! Her character loses everything at one point when she is in the Dollmaker’s prison, yet we see her insight and lead a prison rebellion, escape and in the she is the one who kills Sal Maroni. My money is on her being alive even though Penguin pushed her into the river in the final fight. Her first name is Fish afterall, and she’s survived more than that. Her character like Penguin is a survivor who is absolutely ruthless against her enemies. Her drive is to protect her own and to rule and from that respect.

Oswald Cobblepot / The Penguin – Robin Lord Taylor is wonderful as this manipulative, rat punk who rises through the ranks betraying Fish, Falcone and Maroni to become the King of Gotham…and in the end he succeeds. He proves in this world ruthlessness and being without morality will get you what you want. Gordon also owes him a favor so he has control over GPD in his own way too, plus Gordon doesn’t kill so there is that. One of his primary motivations is caring for his somewhat insane mother and giving her the illusion that he is an honorable man. He goes full crazy and ruthless when Maroni tells her the truth of who he is.

Main – The main cast who isn’t GPD isn’t as strong at this point and I’ll get into why further on. Alfred, Barbara and Jim Gordon are great though.

Barbara Kean – This show is Barbara breaking as we see her isolated and living with Selina Kyle and Poison Ivy and eventually being chosen and broken by the Ogre turning her into a mad murder stuck in Gotham after she kills her parents and tries to kill Leslie.

Alfred Pennyworth – Sean Pertwee (son of Jon Pertwee the 3rd Doctor from “Doctor Who”) does a great job as Alfred. He’s an ex-marine still bearing the weight of the things he was made to do (one reason he doesn’t believe it in anymore) and it is that guilt that leads to an old friend almost killing him. He is the moral center for Bruce Wayne who is angry and broken and he is the one who supports and trains Bruce as best he can.

Jim Gordon –  Ben McKenzie is actually a pretty good actor. In this we see a man driven by his job and code forced to make compromises for the greater good and from it slowly grow corrupt in his own way while his actions lead to the rise of the Penguin as the new King of Gotham. His story is a tragedy as his ex Barbara goes insane from a serial killer and Loeb does all he can to hurt Gordon so the GPD will not change.

Okay: Selina Kyle – She is just a punk and we don’t know why she does the things she does. She’s a blank slate and it is only the actresses performance that elevates her above a con.

Bruce Wayne – Bruce has the same problem as Selina. He is a blank slate though he does have a little bit more development. He is obsessed and a bit of a savant and may be autistic which lends some depth to Bruce that isn’t often seen or explored in regards to his character. It is that helped me get through the okay performance by the child actor.

Arkham – There is nothing unique about Arkham Asylum. I cared so much more about GPD Headquarters and the Penguin’s and Fish’s Lounge than this place…which is sad is this location is so central to the mythos.

Cons: Poison Ivy – She is just a mean kid from an abusive household. No depth, nothing interesting…a waste.

Commissioner Loeb – He’s a one-dimensional corrupt man trying to protect his insane daughter. Really wanted more from this character as Falcone, Maroni, Fish and Penguin all have more development.

   This is a show I’d recommend for sure! The weakest parts are when there are child actors and the first third of the series isn’t all that strong, but when the betrayals begin happening and Gordon’s desire to reform kicks into full gear the story really takes off. If you like Batman and that universe you will probably like this show. It is a fascinating and twisted Noir that enjoys it’s place in the Batman mythos. I’m looking forward to Season 2 and where the story will go.

Final Score: 8.8 / 10

Batman: The Animated Series – Season 1, Episode 56 – Harley and Ivy – Power to Women

Harley and Ivy

 

“Harley and Ivy,” is one of the more poignant episodes in “Batman: The Animated Series,” though it’s execution isn’t the best. The premise is Joker is being his usual abusive self to Harley Quinn. He kicks her out and she begins to go on a stealing spree to impress him that changes into a stealing spree for herself when Poison Ivy takes her under her wing and the two team up to be quite a crime duo. From here the story unfolds.

Here is the assessment of the episode:

Pros: The Joker – The Joker’s abusive sociopathicness is captured really well in this episode. You see how he never recognizes how much Harley helps and how Harley is his punching bag and that he sees Harley Quinn as property. If you already didn’t have reason to hate the Joker, this one is it. In this episode he represents every abusive partner or spouse. You see how much he depends on her to keep his life running since his fort goes to hell in regards to how the Hyenas’ view him and how disorganized it is once she is gone.

Batman – Batman is just kind of there, but it is great to see him fall to Harley and Ivy when teamed up but beat the Joker. He is also the one to find out where Ivy’s hideout is through detective work verses the Joker tracking the call.

Renee – Is meant to be the counter to Harley and Ivy since she is the woman who takes them both down after they’ve taken down Batman. She does it in a Batmanesque way too by booby trapping the street to stop their car.

Harley Quinn – Is the co-dependent partner and “Spouse” of the Joker. After every abuse she comes back and keeps thinking they can work it out. It is powerful how she is a character that was inspired by a real person and that real people like her exist who can’t get out of those types of situations. When she’s going through empowerment via the tutorship if Poison Ivy she is on top of her game…stealing, overturning Old Boys Clubs and even managing to nearly destroy Batman. It is a shame that she never comes out from under the Joker’s shadow until much later in life in the cannon.

Poison Ivy – Is the mentor to Harley. She misses that women can be bad too but nails the abusiveness prevalent among men as represented by the Joker. She is always presenting the alternative view and doing all she can to help Harley move on. Sadly she doesn’t succeed, but it isn’t from lack of trying.

The Friendship and Romance – It is played up in the comic of the same name but Harley and Poison Ivy are implied to be Bisexual. This is the first time we really see this too. Though in this episode Harley does play as more of a friendship because of her obsession with the Joker. There are romantic moments and tension though, which is great! It is a shame it isn’t more common in comics. These two are a great paring due to how well they compliment each other like Batman and Robin.

The Message – The message has a great intent. Don’t put up with abuse and embrace freedom of the self. The main issue I’d say is it being through the eyes of villains which may hurt the argument…The theme of the empowerment of women is pulled off pretty well in this episode though.

Okay: Show Don’t Tell – Poison Ivy’s quips end up taking away from the message of the episode. We see them being powerful and doing acts to upset the patriarchy. It doesn’t really need to be announced every time, it would have been more powerful without that actually. This is the one reason I can’t give it full points. Showing not telling is the best way to tell any story.

I definitly recommend this episode. The message is great even if the execution of it could be better and Harley and Ivy are great characters who I wish could have teamed up more.

Final score the episode is 9.5 / 10. It is a favorite.

 

 

Batman: The Animated Series – Season 1, Episode 46 – Almost Got ‘Im – A Meeting of the Rogues or So Close to Victory

Almost Got Im

“Almost Got ‘Im,” is one of the best exploration of Batman’s rogues gallery. We get to see their moments of near triumph and see that they have a working relationships and a near comradery that almost borders on friendship…all because of Batman. It begins with them all meeting and playing cards as they share their stories…from their the story unfolds.

Here is my assessment of the episode:

Pros: The Dynamic –  The Dynamic between the villains is extremely well done. Past history is referenced (Poison Ivy saying that her and Harvey Dent were in a relationship…which they were). There is a playfulness, especially in how Killer Croc is ignored as the dolt and Joker owns the arena.

Poison Ivy – Her plan was actually pretty cool. Poisoned pumpkins on Halloween that explode when Batman arrives. She nearly wins except the Batmobile attacks her and gets Batman his mask. This story reveals why Poison Ivy is one of the greatest of the rogues. She shuts down Two-Face pretty thoroughly too. She is captured though at the end of her story.

Two-Face – Two-Face manages to capture Batman with the Two Ton Gang and luckily has his coin end on death which leads to Batman being flipped on a giant coin that he only manages to escape from by using Two-Face’s coin against him to cut the ropes. He is captured by Batman in the end though and is given back his coin.

Killer Croc – Killer Croc throws a rock at Batman and the silence he receives from the other rogues is perfect. He is ignored after that and becomes sad. He is the thug of Batman’s rogues and only really functions as muscle not planner in relation to the others in the room (which becomes a good ploy later for this episode).

Penguin – Penguin manages to be better than all before him in that he poisons Batman, injures Batman and even escapes. His plan is elaborate with poison tipped hummingbirds and a Cassowary (one of my favorite birds). He is the intellectual of the group and Joker asks him to use smaller words. Penguin is also the most polite and respectful.

Joker – Joker’s plan is the best. In his him and Harley Quinn hijack Gotham Live and have Batman trapped in a laugh machine that sends electric currents through his body the more the audience laughs. He nearly succeeds except for the arrival of Catwoman who Harley Quinn manages to capture in the end for Joker to use against Batman in the final plot. He is the best of them all in regards to how close he gets to killing Batman and is by far the greatest threat of the group.

Harley Quinn – Captures Catwoman and saves Joker. This episode is great at establishing her as more than Joker’s flunky. She is threat to be reckoned with by anyone she sets her sight on…especially in regards to the Joker.

Catwoman – She saves Batman and even dreams of a normal life for her and Batman and is saved by Batman in turn. The equal exchange between them rescuing each other was part of what the characters so interesting in the first place. She ends the episode with it’s name saying she, “Almost Got ‘Im.”

Batman – Batman was playing as Killer Croc the entire time. He went undercover to capture the group and find out where Catwoman was. The group gets captured by him and Gordon and after he manages to stop Harley from killing Catwoman.

This is a fantastic story that has a unique narrative style and a great exploration of every character who gets to speak. I highly recommend it. It is one of my favorites and part of the reason the rogues from this show are so memorable and unforgettable.

10 / 10 The perfect episode.

Batman: The Animated Series – Season 1, Episode 29 – Eternal Youth – The Dangers of Vanity

Eternal_Youth-Title_Card

“Eternal Youth,” is the return of Poison Ivy the scene. The premise is she is posing as a scientist hosting a spa to keep people young but targeting Industrialists to go to it. Once there she gives them a substance that they become addicted too that allows her to turn them into trees.

Here is the assessment:

The Pros: Poison Ivy – Is amazing! She manages to capture a whole bunch of industrialists and even manages to capture Alfred and his partner? Maggie. She is a good threat to Batman throughout the episode and it gives a good glimpse into her psyche…she see’s herself as a Batman who kills.

Alfred and Maggie – Are adorable and a fun couple to watch.

Alfred – Is great in this and we get to see more than just his dry humor and wit. It is nice to see him care about someone outside of Batman in regards to love. He has some great puns thrown in too.

The premise – Poison Ivy’s plan has one that has nothing to do with her sex appeal and it is awesome! By appearing to others vanity she uses it to destroy them. It is a great premise and executed well in this episode.

Okay: The music – Once more it isn’t great like last episode.

Maggie – She seems to be there for mostly comedic purposes and to develop Alfred, she herself doesn’t have much characterization.

This was a good episode that I definitely recommend. Poison Ivy is once more seen as a worthy rogue.

My score for it is 8.7 / 10.

 

Batman: the Animated Series – Season 1, Episode 5 – Pretty Poison – Poison Ivy and the Problem of Femme Fatales

Pretty Poison

“Pretty Poison” is the story that introduces the antagonist Poison Ivy, and also Harvey Dent’s friendship to Bruce Wayne. Poison Ivy is first introduced in a flashback when the last of a species of plant is being destroyed for new development by the Mayor and Harvey Dent (paid for by the Wayne Foundation). We see a mysterious woman watching before we flash to the future where Harvey Dent is poisoned and Batman must solve who did it.

Here is the assessment:

Pros: Poison Ivy – Poison Ivy is the first Femme Fatale we meet who is a Batman antagonist, this trope is later overused but the first time we see it it is done well. She is a full character and person and is one of the biggest threat (as seen by her later appearance in “Almost Got ‘Im,” with “Two- Face, Penguin and the Joker (Killer Croc is there for comedic relief). She almost kills Harvey Dent and Batman and isn’t defeated until what she values most (plants) are put at risk. Her ending in Arkham with the promise to survive and grow back is wonderful too…there is a reason in the animatedverse she is one of the biggest bads.

Harvey Dent – We get to see the character and who he was before he was Two-Face. He is an interesting guy, laid back, kind and a bit naive and wanting companionship more than anything else (his planning to marry Pam (Poison Ivy)). The reasons behind this are expanded on later which I will describe when we get to the “Two-Face” two parter. He is great in this episode and his friendship to Bruce Wayne feels real.

Batman – Being Batman…his investigation leads to him finding Poison Ivy and his resourcefulness and beating Poison Ivy. Good Batman episode, even though he isn’t the main focus.

The Cons: The Wider Problem of Femme Fatales – This problem is partially related to the episode…but is related to the Batmanverse and the Comics as a whole. Femme Fatales are usually villains who depend mostly on their sexuality to achieve their agenda, poison kisses (see episode), sexually presented (Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn, Talia al Ghul, Black Widow, Power Girl, etc.). We don’t get her motivations on why she cares so much about plants because the point is what she does…not the why in behind she is a protector. All the characters I listed are defined by their sexuality in how they use it against the heroes that it becomes a detrement to their story…Harley will always stay with the Joker, Poison Ivy will always be tied to using toxins for love in this series, Catwoman in seducing Batman…Talia gets a bit more fleshed out thankfully as does Black Widow in the marvelverse but the problem of defining them almost purely by how the main male heroes may be attracted to them (there are more ways to use a person which most of the other baddies seem to understand more fully) than sex. This is an issue I hope the comics have gotten better on, since using it sometimes isn’t bad but when you have entire plots and arcs where that is the deal…what does it say about women? (can’t be trusted, only sexual for men, etc.) It doesn’t leave a good impression or do anything for them. It also becomes poor storytelling like any trope that writers become overdependent on expressing. More on this later though, I could write many posts on this subject but will wait until more movies and episodes have been reviewed. This trope will get an article on here though.

The episode was good at establishing the threat of Poison Ivy, Harvey Dent as a person and character we should care about, Bruce Wayne’s life outside of Batman and negatively this trope within the animatedverse. Regardless I recommend this episode, Poison Ivy is a great baddie.

I give this episode an 8 / 10.