Daredevil and Such

MARVEL'S DAREDEVIL

Yes. I’ve joined them. The ranks of those peculiar tele-vegetarians…

I cut cable.

And I don’t mean I’ve taken Rob Lowe’s now off-the-air advice and gotten Direct TV. I mean my television is now provided by Netflix, Hulu and, to a lesser extent, Amazon Prime. I’m not saying it’s been a perfect transition. I find myself aching to catch the final season of Mad Men, paying to see the very last three episodes of The Americans and reconsidering my choice for when Halt and Catch Fire returns.

The only guys who really monopolize their material is HBO, and even that’s primarily because of Game of Thrones. True Detective might join that list of too-good-to-give-away TV, but its anthological nature can make each season independently hit or miss. It’s going to take some serious work for Colin Farrell, Rachel McAdams and Vince Vaughn to pull together something of the caliber of Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson.

I’m not saying they can’t, but nihilist Rust Cohle has some very big shoes to fill as a complex and deep character. I actually look more forward to True Detective than Game of Thrones, in that with the latter I’ll always have the books. The former? Well, there’s plenty of pulp detective fiction out there, but there’s still nothing quite like it.

Oh yes. And then there’s House of Cards season 3. I got delayed in finishing it by a few weeks, and part of me knew that something was strange when the internet wasn’t quite as abuzz about it. Without spoilers, the season just wasn’t as popping as the previous two. Maybe it was because Frank Underwood’s new position as the president put him on the defensive more, and limited the scope of what he can accomplish for himself. I was delighted that a certain character makes a return, and he adds dimension and intrigue of his own. But Frank seems to be missing his bite, and when he tries to reclaim it, circumstances go badly. The ending was somehow lackluster too. I’m sure things will improve next season but we will see.

daredevil-posterWhich brings us to the jewel of the day. Marvel’s Daredevil. Relax. I have no spoilers to give away as I’m only four episodes into it. While I’ve seen enough to raise some talking points, the 13 almost-hour installments are a lot to absorb all at once. And to my surprise (and delight), they were considerably more dark than anything I’ve seen Marvel try on the screen. But be forewarned: Someone once said that although the series is darker, it is still supposed to be family friendly.

Whoever said that lied.

Daredevil has moments of gore, a little cussing, and more strongly eludes to sex. If themes were best described in colors, then Batman: The Animated Series is black and light grey, and Dexter is red. Daredevil as a series tends to blend those colors, but also lacks Dexter Morgan’s deadpan narration to lighten the mood and Batman’s resources. In fact, Batman is an interesting comparison in that topically he and Daredevil sound similar (orphans, willingly choose to fight crime, secret identities) but in every detail the two heroes are so unrelated.

If there’s one truth about superheroes that Marvel has acknowledged very well, it’s that they are not going to always be on the same page in terms of power. A God of Thunder or a billionaire in a flying armored suit are going to handle a very different set of worldly problems. Daredevil, aka Matt Murdock, isn’t on their level. In combat, his powers are useful much more conditionally useful. Murdock struggles with street soldiers, and doesn’t always come out on top of his fights. However, Daredevil’s heightened senses make for greater story telling due to the application of his gifts for investigation. And that’s the true strength of Daredevil as a television series over yet another summer blockbuster.

I have to admire a few things about Daredevil as a character. Matt Murdock, curiously enough, is religious. Roman Catholic. It’s a strong trait of his that sets him apart from almost all the other characters in the Marvel universe. He doesn’t seem to go full The Boondock Saints on us, but it sets strong tones that make him unique. He’s also blind, which effects how people treat and react to him. And at least in the original comics, his disability was an interesting, pitying element that strongly influenced his relationships, particularly with his secretary Karen Paige.

There are two factors that bug me. Again, I’m only four episodes into the series, and I get that this is a kind of slow roast, fragmented origin story so there are still things Murdock is trying to figure out. Daredevil has a hard ass attitude to criminals, I understand. But there is truly a devil-may-care attitude when it comes to the risk he poses on their lives. In the comics, the Punisher eventually challenges his morality, and the results don’t paint a clear picture. Batman has rules, and these rules made for an incredible movie. I don’t know whether this is supposed to be a set detail for Daredevil, or if it’s an issue that Murdock is going wrestle with himself over. Scenes suggest that it is, but we’ll see.

The other problem I have is proportion. The directors could seriously cut 60 seconds of action and instead use that minute to let the emotions of some moments sink in a little bit, and the show would be perfect. Most of the series’ violence occurs via fistfights that take a while, and seem to go over some allotment of time of being interesting. It’s Marvel, so there is an expectation of pulpy violence. But a good fight on television should reveal something or change the story in some regard.

There’s quite a bit more I could discuss, particularly Vincent D’Onofrio’s incredible performance as the Kingpin. But I think it’s all something to return to later once I’ve finished the series.

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The Guilt of Mr. Freeze

Mr. Wayne? Mr. Wayne, are you awake?

There you go. I apologize. I know your need for secrets, but we are alone here. You needn’t worry.

In case you’re wondering, I did not remove your mask, even though I could have. Truth be told, I figured you were Batman the night of my attack on Wayne Enterprises’ Science Exhibit. I apologize for that as well. I needed that cryogenic module for my research. There isn’t another like it on this side of the planet.

Anyway, during the Exhibit, I had taken some of the footage from the security cameras, and ran it over and over again. And I realized that it was when Mr. Wayne seemed to disappear that Batman sprung out of nowhere. The height, the build. I could still be wrong even now. But I just… I just had that feeling. A notion, irrational as it sounds coming from a man of science like myself.

It’s dangerous for me to suppose that’s who you are, to be so illogical.

But I’m counting on it.

Because I respect you.

There is… no one, in this city, that I respect more than you. Perhaps no one still alive on this Earth, that I respect more. I know you remember me. Dr. Victor Fries. It was your backing that allowed me and my wife to make advances in our research. Your generous grants helped our research jump light years ahead. You never rushed us but never ignored us either. You were patient. You took the time to read and understand our papers, investing more than just money into it.

Even the day I told you that we were moving to Gothcorp, you understood and held no malice. You smiled that winning smile, shook my hand and promised that if we ever wanted to come back, just call. “I trust you to always do the right thing,” you told me.

I let you down and I’m… I’m so-s-sorry for that.

I know by now, you know what happened to Nora. My wife. And since then… since then it only made me respect you more.

We’ve both lost… or are losing, our families. And I understand you in a way few people ever will. I know that you fight crime so that no one suffers like you did. That no one loses their parents like you did yours.

So I know that you understand me. Maybe there’s a side of you that cannot help but classify me as yet another piece of filth like the mafia enforcers or thugs you thrash. And to lose the respect you had for me cuts in a way almost as bad as the thought of losing Nora.

I will not hurt you, Mr. Wayne. I will never kill you, nor will I ever speak of your secret. But I can’t let you stop me either. And if you were in my shoes, I know you’d do the same. You’d do anything to save your father and mother.

Nora is waiting. I trust you can get out on your own…

Morally Nihilist (part I)

An agent of chaos.

Yesterday, I was having a debate with a few people about the concept of morality. It’s amazing how a debate about politics can quickly descend into ad hominem attacks and sny, subtle insults, but philosophy and moralty can be discussed with a rational calmness that I find enlightening.

During the conversation, I clarified my morally absolutist position against a more relative position. But the intrigue came from user ‘Mossy Toes’ whose claimed to support relativism but whose arguments sounded more in line to nihilism. I ended my point teasing, “Easy there, Joker.”
 
“Why so serious?” Mossy replied back. I turned down his offer to discuss it on the debate lounge for the time being. But I gave the manner some thought throughout the night and in the morning. Moral nihilism is difficult to discern. A kind of catch-22 of reason that is tricky to define or at least prove.
 
Why is nihilism so tricky? When you deny the concept of morality in general, there is still a cold assertion of logic that can serve as a basis of morality. Mossy Toe’s view was built around the biological juxtaposition of humans as animals, which is true. He cited a few examples of moral absolutism being undone by circumstances which challenge such values and find its believers wanting, such as a starving civilization finding the sacrifice of its children as noble, or even a moral duty.
 
You may live in the jungle and adhere to no “delusions of morality” as Ian Holm‘s character put it in the movie Alien. But that still creates a fundamental paradox, an acceptance of the survival of the fittest. Hence you have that ah ha moment, where in denying morality, you inherently accept a much simpler code of it instead.
 
As I considered that, I found myself thinking about the man who has been on everyone’s mind since 2008. Heath Ledger‘s version of the Joker was a triumph of moral nihilistic thinking, at least in his ability to challenge everyone else’s moral standings.
 
That was his raison d’être.
 
For anyone who has seen the film, which drew inspiration from Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke, the Joker’s real goal was to render away everyone’s morality. His approach was simply to create the extreme circumstances of which test our sense of what is right or wrong. Kill this man or he’ll blow up a hospital. Blow up the other boat and he’ll let you live. Take off your mask or he’ll kill someone.
 
Perhaps the Joker did bow to the “survival of the fittest” concept, but his application of nihilism was to scrub away the veneer of morality that people apply to maintain some order in their lives.
 
Moral relativists can be harder to break for that reason: They would often have an easier time accepting that the circumstances were dire and justify normally abhorrent actions. What works, works, as pragmatists would say. But sooner or later, they will get backed into a corner where they find, at the base of the flexible set of acceptable standards, a morally absolute bedrock that they will not cross. The line in the sand.
 
I would imagine that most, though not all, moral absolutists are like eggs. They might have some loftier views of ethics, but in the face of a moral test, they crack quickly. And are left with a hypocrite’s shame of being unable to live up to their own expectations.
 
But then there are those moral absolutists who hold on. Batman, with the exception of when he almost turned himself in, could be described as morally absolute. The kind of grounds we usually think of when we devise heroes and protagonists. We often mock people who publically declare their values, because we’re so used to being let down. It takes action, not words, to define one’s position. Conviction must be proven.
 
I’ve often found that people tend to have the highest respect for moral absolutism whenever we can legitimately hold onto it. When we don’t bow to the pressure compromise with our integrity.
 
And that, of course, is the hard part. 

Rise

If you fear plot spoilers for The Dark Knight Rises, and yes there is quite a plot to spoil, begone.

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Anne Hathaway as Catwoman

Click to see more. Of the suit, you pervert.

Click to see more. Of the suit, you pervert.

Daily Mail has recently posted pictures of Anne Hathaway in what appears to be a much more complete Catwoman costume. Not bad, but how the hell she plans to run in those heels is beyond me.

Oh, also among the pictures are a few of Christian Bale’s Batman and some of the vehicles that will be in the movie. Including a strange contraption they claim will be the Batwing. I’m guessing CG will provide the actual wings.

In other news, several of my compatriots have recently updated their blogs. Sarah Cawkwell posted about Games Day. Good ol’ Raziel4707 talked up a raunchy storm at his blog, while MisterEd discussed Batman in his comic book form. Check them out.

On the writing side of things, still chugging away at updating pieces to submit. I want to get at least one piece finished this week and ready to send into a publisher.

Happy Monday everyone.

Costumes

POW! WHAM! BIFF! Biff?

POW! WHAM! BIFF! Biff?

So Halloween this year could seriously be a four day event. It falls on a Monday, and since Halloween is so popular, people will be celebrated it as early as Friday. Maybe even at Thursday’s happy hours.

Because of this, it would be a shame to make a single costume that I wear for three or four nights. So, I’m going to put together at least two costumes, possibly three.

I’ve taken to brain storming which costumes I’ll go as. I’m thinking one super hero and one funny, and the third as part of the group.

The superhero is going to be either Batman or Captain America. Either way, it’s going to take time to assemble. I can probably pull it off for less than $20 to $30.

How? First, I already have black combat boots which can work for either costume, although they may need some tweeking for Captain America. For Batman’s armor, I can cut shapes using cardboard, wrap them in duct tape which not only keeps them in place but also imparts a “roughness” to them. Then spray paint them in black.

Using this method, doing the arms and chest and shoulders will be easy. Doing the pants will be a challenge, but I’ll figure something out. A black sheet will take care of the cape, and finding a cheap belt to spray paint in gold will handle the utility belt.

Only problem is the face. The ears, no problem. If I really want to go crazy with this, I can probably make a mask out of paiper-mâché. It maybe best to do a combination, using cardboard to handle the ears and the straight portion of the nose, and then paiper-mâché to handle the curves of the face.

If it looks good I’ll write a how-to guide so people who like to put effort into their costumes. It’s going to be a great year. I think for my funny costume, I’ll be going as the Bitch Hunter. Mom would be so proud, and Will Ferrell is probably going to sue me.