The Joker Examined – Jared Leto and Suicide Squad (2016)

Happy Halloween everyone!!  As the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead weakens (thanks Samhain…), we’ll spend the night with lighted jack-o-lanters to ward off nefarious spirits and decked out in all sorts of ghoulish garb to blend in with the dead who will traverse the land of the living.  Or, you know, we may do all those things in the name of free candy (yay for Reese’s Cups!!!).  Either way, today’s Halloween and that means I’ve only one Joker left to examine in this series.  Yay!  So let’s say hello to Mr. Jared Leto. Continue reading

The Joker Examined – Jack Nicholson and Batman (1989)

Last week I wrote about Cesar Romero’s madcap 1960’s take on the Clown Prince of Crime as an introduction to a Halloween series about two things that terrify me – clowns (gah!) and the struggle to understand the very real evil in our world.  The Joker, a character I feel personifies evil incarnate, will continue to be the star as we jump from 1966 to 1989.  It’s time to explore Tim Burton’s Batman, a film that succeeded in putting the “gothic” in Gotham and making Jack Nicholson even more unnerving.  Look at how the menace glints in his eyes with that smile!  Aaaagghh! Continue reading

The Joker Examined – Cesar Romero and Batman (1966)

Alright, so it’s officially October now right?  That means our thoughts turn towards things spooky and scary.  In the spirit of the season, I thought it would be interesting to use a character I’ve always found particularly terrifying to muse on the philosophical nature of evil.  In so doing, I can jump from fictional frights to the true terror that exists in the world around us.  Nothing says “holiday/seasonal fun” like wrestling with the darkness that can grow in the heart of the human soul right?  Haha, nope!  Sounds fun!  This, of course, naturally brings us to the Joker. Continue reading

Suicide Squad and the Nature of Evil

Alright, so after all the wedding excitement this weekend (Congrats again to Jeff and Jen!  It was such a beautiful day!!) Kalie and I finally got to the theatre to see Suicide Squad this afternoon.  In fact, we just left the movies and have settled down in our favorite coffee shop to enjoy a snack and do some writing.  While there’s a surprising amount that can be explored and deconstructed in the film, I’m not quite ready to do that yet having only seen it once.  Rather, I’d like to discuss my thoughts on the film in the same light I explored Batman: Arkham Asylum and shared those articles from Kalie and Jeff last week.  I want to talk about how the film presents the nature of evil in its cast of super villains.  If you haven’t seen it yet, don’t fret.  The post will be free of any real plot spoilers. Continue reading

Batman and the Nature of Evil – Arkham Asylum

Grant Morrison, who has become one of Batman’s most celebrated authors, would write the character for the first time in 1989’s haunting graphic novel Batman: Arkham Asylum.  Paired with Dave McKean’s wild, boundless paintings of the characters, the book’s visual feel matched and fueled the horror of the narrative.  If we’re looking at how the Batman’s enemies illustrate evil, this is one of the definitive texts. And, as we ready ourselves for Suicide Squad this weekend, this seems a natural book to consider as well.  The Suicide Squad is comprised of some of Batman’s most intriguing villains.  But what exactly makes a Batman villain?  And how do they reflect and relate to our understanding of evil? Continue reading

Top Five Wednesday – My Greatest Hits

Top Five LogoThe Goodreads Top Five Wednesday post for this week was an interesting one.  Essentially you’re to compile a list of five of your favorite posts.  So basically I’m putting together my (still very young) blog’s Greatest Hits.  Now I just have to hope that this list is like Bruce Springsteen’s 1995 Greatest Hits album where he went on to make (and continues to make!) some of the best music of his career after he released it and not something like Poison’s Greatest Hits 1986-1996 where it was an awesome album…but then not so much great new material afterwards.  (Although, giving credit where credit is due, they did a wonderfully fun cover of “SexyBack” in 2007.)  I’ve also included little (new) summaries of the posts and why they made the cut.  So there’s new material here too.  Anyway, let’s see which posts made the cut! Continue reading

The Dark Knight Returns…with Misogyny, Violence, and Emotional Abuse

This may be an unexpected admission for someone who teaches a course on popular culture, but there are certain cultural phenomena that I just don’t get.  I’ve never liked a single Quentin Tarantino film…not even a little.  I never saw what was so revolutionary or brilliant about the 2011 return-to-silent-films homage The Artist.  I can’t get into any reality singing or dating competition.  I’ve tried all of the above but I just don’t like them.  The exact same can be said of my relationship with Frank Miller’s 1986 seminal classic The Dark Knight Returns.  But, before fandom begins the crucifixion, let me try and explain why – and it’s not just because I’m not a DC guy. Continue reading