Astro Boy

Nov. 29, 2009 | 2:38 p.m.

The superheroes of Japan who predated Superman and Batman

Hero Complex contributor Liesl Bradner offers an intriguing look back at a forgotten age of heroics in Japan… Five years before Lee Falk’s masked-man adventures with “The Phantom” began in newspapers, a hero called Golden Bat was saving damsels in distress in the streets of Depression-era Japan (who were, in fact, exhibiting signs of depression). He was first seen in 1931 (seven years before Superman first took flight and eight before that Gotham City fellow who dressed like a bat) and his exploits were told in kamishibai, which was street theater that used painted illustrations. Author Eric P. Nash examines the little-known art form and predecessor to modern-day anime and manga in his recent book “Manga Kamishibai: The Art of Japanese Paper Theater.” I wrote about the book and this long-gone street entertainment for Culture Monster, the arts blog for the Los Angeles Times. Here’s […]
Oct. 23, 2009 | 3:13 p.m.

Nicolas Cage: ‘The sadness of the story … drew me to ‘Astro Boy’’ [UPDATED]

INTERVIEW WITH NICOLAS CAGE AND FREDDIE HIGHMORE It’s been 57 years since Astro Boy first took flight in Japan, but today the rocket-powered robot boy attempts flying to new heights with a feature film that may surprise even loyal fans with its bittersweet tale. “Astro Boy” features Freddie Highmore in the role of the mechanized wonder boy while Nicolas Cage, Kristen Bell, Bill Nighy and Samuel L. Jackson lead the deep supporting cast. The movie is heavy on heroic action and futuristic spectacle, but there are also themes of identity and loss that may remind adult viewers of Steven Spielberg’s “A.I: Artificial Intelligence.” For Cage, it was those themes that set the movie apart from the standard lighter-than-air animated entertainments of today. The 45-year-old father said he was pulled in by the premise of a synthetic boy who believes he is a […]
Jan. 07, 2009 | 3:57 a.m.

Lex Luthor, ‘Jack the Giant Killer,’ Astro Boy, all in Everyday Hero headlines

Welcome to Everyday Hero, your handpicked headlines from across the fanboy universe… NO LEX APPEAL: Quick, what’s Superman’s greatest weakness? Nah, not kryptonite — it’s a stunningly shallow pool of quality villains. At least that’s the problem when it comes to his future life as a film franchise that can keep up with that guy from Gotham. Who are the great Superman villains? Well, you got Lex Luthor but, geez, do we want to see him in another movie? Brainiac and Bizarro are viable but both are somewhat limited as evocative villains and Parasite and Darkseid could work but they don’t exactly energize the broader audience of moviegoers. And none of those four is as memorable as the Joker or even Dr. Octopus. Batman and Spider-Man easily have a half-dozen signature villains but, by that point with Superman, you’re getting […]
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