Politics

July 21, 2012 | 10:10 a.m.

‘Dark Knight Rises’: Christopher Nolan’s Gotham, back in black

Christian Bale as Batman in "The Dark Knight Rises."
The defining moment in the history of the fictitious city called Gotham is when a trembling young boy in a tuxedo — he’s dressed up for a night at the theater — kneels next to his slain mother and father as a gunman runs off into the night. The gun-metal grimness of that scene in the 2005 film “Batman Begins” echoes in every part of director Christopher Nolan’s bleak and bruising franchise. And now, after the shooting at a midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises” in Aurora, Colo., the record-breaking Hollywood franchise will be remembered in shades of funereal black and lurid tabloid red. Police said the 24-year-old suspect had “painted” hair and told them after the shooting that he was the Joker, the warped murderer played by Heath Ledger in Nolan’s previous Batman film, “The Dark Knight.” According […]
July 20, 2012 | 4:46 p.m.

Christopher Nolan: ‘The movie theater is my home’

Christopher Nolan. (Warner Bros. Pictures)
The dire headlines and unsettling images from Colorado tell us that a dozen moviegoers lost their lives after being gunned down at a screening of “The Dark Knight Rises” — it’s an ugly spasm of deranged violence and everywhere people are trying to make sense of it, whether they reach for tissue, their Twitter accounts or  a sturdy soapbox. In Paris, a red carpet premiere was canceled and Christopher Nolan was in lockdown mode with his cast and crew awaiting further information on the rampage of a 24-year-old gunman who reportedly referred to himself as the Joker when questioned by police. A short time ago the filmmaker released a statement through his Los Angeles publicist. “Speaking on behalf of the cast and crew of ‘The Dark Knight Rises,’ I would like to express our profound sorrow at the senseless tragedy that has […]
July 17, 2012 | 11:27 a.m.

‘Man of Steel’: The Superman we ‘need and deserve’?

Henry Cavill (Kristian Dowling/AP)
Clark Kent writes for the Daily Planet but his new biographer, Larry Tye, filed his own front-page stories for the Boston Globe and Louisville Courier-Journal. Tye, author of “Satchel: The Life and Times of an American Legend,” is fresh from Comic-Con International where he was promoting “Superman: The High-Flying History of America’s Most Enduring Hero,” the 432-page hardcover from Random House that is being billed as the first “full-fledged biography” of the character that is called both Kal-El and Kent. We talked to Tye about the ramping interest in “Man of Steel,” the Warner Bros. film that will put a new version of the hero on the screen just in time for his 75th anniversary next summer. HC: This is an era of haunted anti-heroes like Batman, Wolverine, James Bond. We also have decadent tricksters — Jack Sparrow, Tony Stark, maybe even the new Capt. Kirk — and empowered […]
June 18, 2012 | 6:07 p.m.

‘Annihilator’: China’s next sizzle or another Stan Lee fizzle?

The Mandarin was co-created by Stan Lee in the 1960s. (Marvel Comics)
Have the moviegoers of China been holding out for a hero of their own? If so, then help is on the way — his name is Annihilator and, no surprise, Stan Lee is one of the people trying to get him off the ground. “This is the perfect Chinese hero,” Lee said Monday. “China is a nation that is involved with movies and the industry is growing so it’s as though all the pieces are coming together beautifully.” The financing piece is off to a good start, certainly, with Monday’s news that “The Annihilator” tops the inaugural list of co-productions from National Film Capital, the state-run fund-management company that draws on $422 million raised by the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and other partners. (The slate also included the action-fantasy “Dragon Scroll”; the historical epic “Genghis Khan,” from Los Angeles-based writer and director Peter […]
June 04, 2012 | 7:59 a.m.

Marvel in the Civil Rights era: A noble Panther, a gritty Cage

Luke Cage, 2009
In crime novels such as “The Jook,” “Bangers” and “The Underbelly,” Gary Phillips draws some scary chalk outlines around the City of Angels but in real life the author has nothing but love for his native Southern California. Born in 1955, he grew up amid the tumult of the Civil Rights era, Watts ’65  and the Vietnam War — and he also was in prime position to take in the Marvel Comics revolution. Phillips has gone from comics fan to comics creator (“The Rinse,”about a money laundryman in San Francisco, is now in trade paperback from Boom! Studios), but in the following guest essay he reflects on the Marvel Universe of his youth and one of its major Marvel innovations: The black superhero. PHOTO GALLERY ABOVE: BLACK SUPERHEROES UNMASKED (BE SURE THE “CAPTIONS ON” OPTION IS SELECTED.) I grew up on […]
April 22, 2012 | 4:43 p.m.

Earth Day’s dark vision: ‘The Massive’ sets sail with calamity

massive
It’s Earth Day and Dark Horse Comics is marking the day by giving away free digital copies of “The Massive,” the new near-future sci-fi tale about life after global calamity from writer Brian Wood (“Northlanders,” “DMZ”) and artist Kristian Donaldson (“Supermarket”). We caught up with Wood, who said this new saga was motivated by something far more insistent than political beliefs — he says it was driven by the searing fear he feels as he sizes up the future awaiting his children. HC: Constructing the calamity scenario and finding the textures of this changed world must have been a key challenge for you — can you talk about approaching that challenge? BW: Coming up with the high concept was easy, essentially just asking myself, “What if everything went to hell all of a sudden?” It was easy to think those thoughts back in 2009 and it […]
Feb. 18, 2012 | 4:35 a.m.

Abraham Lincoln, America’s first superhero?

Captain-America-Spiderman-Abraham-Lincoln
This Presidents Day, almost 150 years after his assassination, Abraham Lincoln is poised to become the breakout star of 2012. In June, he will fight the undead in a movie adaptation of Seth Grahame-Smith’s bestselling novel, “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.” Later this year, Steven Spielberg will offer a more historically accurate – if disappointingly vampire-free – biography of Lincoln starring Daniel Day-Lewis. And (ahem) in my own upcoming novel, “Red, White, and Blood,” Lincoln gives advice from beyond the grave in order to save the current president’s life. But these are, honestly, just the latest additions on Lincoln’s post-mortal resume. Long before Paul Bunyan swung his axe or Superman battled Lex Luthor, Lincoln was America’s first superhuman. He’s partied with Keanu Reeves in “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure” and fought alongside Captain James T. Kirk of the U.S.S. Enterprise. He […]
Oct. 10, 2011 | 9:36 a.m.

‘Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths’: A graphic novel of war’s rage

Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths (featured image)
In the thinly fictionalized “Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths,” manga artist Shigeru Mizuki recounts the brutality with which the officers of the Imperial Army treated their own men, a story that has received less attention than their savage abuse of the Chinese and other conquered people. Mizuki drew on his painful experiences as a draftee during World War II, when he was sent to the island of New Britain off the northwest coast of New Guinea. He lost his left arm in battle and caught malaria — which kept him from certain death in a suicide charge ordered by his superiors. Private Maruyama serves as Mizuki’s stand-in: a grunt with a talent for drawing, struggling to survive short rations, miserable weather, tropical diseases and American attacks on the island. Like Willie and Joe, the dogface American privates in Bill Mauldin’s […]
Sept. 09, 2011 | 3:18 p.m.

9/11 anniversary: Comic strips remember the heroes, victims

An image from Sunday's "Hi and Lois." (Brian Walker / King Features Syndicate)
Sept. 11 seems an unlikely topic for the newspaper funny pages, but cartoonist Brian Walker might be considered an expert in finding the positive. Walker, who writes the syndicated strip “Hi and Lois,” was one of nearly 100 cartoonists challenged with dedicating Sunday’s comics to the victims and heroes of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, in honor of the tragedy’s 10th anniversary. “We’re reductionists,” Walker said. “We take something that’s big to the point of almost being overwhelming. Like, you think about 9/11 and everything it’s meant, and everything that’s happened since then, and it’s just too much to deal with, really. How do you take that and put it into four panels or six panels?” “Blondie,” Wizard of Id” and “Doonesbury” are among 93 strips from King Features Syndicate, Creators Syndicate, Tribune Media Services, Universal Press Syndicate and Washington […]
July 30, 2011 | 4:44 p.m.

‘Captain America’ writers: Cap would be on a watch list today

Captain America (Marvel)
“Captain America: The First Avenger” had a heroic opening weekend and overcame all the skepticism about period-piece patriotism in a contemporary movie marketplace. The film was directed by Joe Johnston, and Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige played a major role in stitching the film into the widening Marvel Universe on the silver screen, but the story began with a script by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, the duo who also wrote the “Chronicles of Narnia” screenplays. Our Geoff Boucher sat down with them to talk about the film’s success, the choices made and a bit about their daydreams for Cap’s film future (Peter Dinklage as MODOK? Sign us up now…) GB: You have a character with a name, a costume and a sensibility that are very much of another time. This is a Roosevelt superhero. Going in with all of that, what choices needed to […]
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