Superheroes are cool. See, it’s a common misconception that comic books and adults in capes and spandex is in some way strange or unusual and should therefore be shunned or avoided at all costs. All you need to do these days is take a trip to the cinema to see how many of the upcoming blockbusters happen to star a super solider or a wall crawler to get conclusive proof that: Superheroes are cool.
So, with that in mind (and considering the fact that I haven’t written a post since before Christmas) here is a list of what I consider to be the tip of the top of superhero video games. It won’t be too hard, because a lot of them are absolute piles of crap *cough* Superman 64 *cough*.
(Oh, just to be clear, you won’t be seeing Arkham City or Asylum on this list because frankly, they’ve been praised enough and it seems an obvious choice)
LEGO Marvel Superheroes (Wii U, Xbox One, PS4)
I’ve always loved LEGO games. Seriously, it appeals to the obsessive compulsive desires in me to collect and 100% every game I play. LEGO games feels so much rewarding because they tend to have a hefty stack of secrets and collectibles.
LEGO Marvel is no exception. The biggest LEGO game yet does not skimp on the fan service, letting you fly or drive or web swing through a fully realized New York as one of around 200 Marvel characters ranging from Spider Man and Iron Man to the more obscure, like Howard the Duck.
Essentially, what any fan wants from a superhero game is to feel connected to that world that they love so much. LEGO Marvel comes remarkably close, from taking down Sentinels in Central Park to just jumping of the top of the Empire State Building for laughs, it’s sense of immersion and fun is unparalleled for any other Marvel game so far.
Batman Vengeance (PS2, Gamecube)
I have a feeling most people who’ve played this will disagree with me. I’ll admit that Vengeance has some glaring flaws; combat is absolutely atrocious, cycling through gadgets can become fiddly and confusing and simple jumps can become needlessly difficult.
However, this game was based on the world of Batman: The Animated Series. You know the one. The best cartoon ever to have existed in this or any other universe. It had a genuinely engaging and exciting story and made an effort to change up game play by having sequences in the Bat mobile and the Batplane.
It also featured the voice work of the inimitable Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill as Batman and The Joker, long before Arkham reared its head. That’s worth the ticket price alone.
Spider Man 2 (Gamecube, Xbox, PS2)
I doubt there are many people who can say a bad word about this one. Pretty much the first open world superhero game and it nailed it on the first time out.
Spider Man fan or not, swinging through a fully working New York (gobby pedestrians and all) at top speeds and taking out bad guys or jumping into car chases was all kinds of awesome.
Sure, it had some shitty indoor levels, but the combat was cool, dodging bullets with your Spider sense made you feel like a PRINCE among men and most importantly, you could tie thugs to lamp posts upside down and beat on ’em for as long as you wanted. God bless you, Spider Man 2.
Spider Man (PS1, N64)
The first video game I remember absolutely loving. I have nothing but awesome memories of this video game. It was funny, it was challenging, it was packed full of secrets, cameos (Daredevil, bitches) power ups (FLAME WEBBING) collectibles, alternate costumes (Scarlet Spider was awesome) and cool references (On one level, you could find the Baxter Building and prompt a cutscene with the Human Torch) and it was stuffed to the brim with everyone’s favorite villains.
The boss fights were always interesting and always had a twist. The level designs always provided an ample mix of platform, puzzle combat and stealth. Above all though, the game was funny. It just felt like a Spider Man adventure, just absolutely over the top and batshit crazy, but it knew it was stupid and reveled in that stupidity.
It’s also important to remember that the last boss was the Carnage symbiote merged with Doc Ock, and when you’re seven years old that is literally the coolest shit ever (even if it did used to scare the bejeebus out of me).
Also; FLAME WEBBING.
Yeah, I’m still burned by Daredevil too. Some nights, I’m still haunted by images of the shockingly misjudged red S&M outfit and I lay awake trying to justify the piss soup mess that was the plot. I haven’t watched it in years but I’m fairly certain towards the start Daredevil kills a guy? I’m foggy on that so I won’t get into it, but everything else about that film sticks out in my mind like a sore thumb with a leather fetish.
It seems to me (now forgive my presumptions) that most of us are nervous about Affleck donning the iconic cape and cowell in Snyder’s sequel to The Man of Steel because of ill fated turn in Daredevil. At the very least I would say the majority of the negative reactions are because of Daredevil. While I’ve always found Affleck to be a matter of taste, I have often practiced a method of getting over not agreeing with a casting choice that actually works every time. 100% success rate.
Suck it up and don’t judge the actor until you’ve seen him play the part you’re so upset about. His stint as the man without fear was a long time ago and one would hope that he has learnt from his folly. As long as he doesn’t rock the patented Bale gravel gargling bat growl, I think we’re safe. More to the point, if he really fucks up in Man of Steel 2 I am certain Warner Bros. will yank him out and replace him with someone else in time for The Justice League so that we don’t have to suffer more than one film’s worth of indignity.
Of course no one is even prepared for what might happen; Ben Affleck might own the part in a way no one thought possible. He could be to Batman what Tom Baker is to The Doctor or Connery is to Bond. Look at what everyone said about Heath Ledger as The Joker. Look what people are saying about Peter Capaldi as the 12th Doctor when anyone with more than half a brain cell will know he is going to rock that part harder than a rocky rock that’s hard and rocks.
This predisposition we have for judging an actor before we see them deliver the goods is unhealthy. That fans are passionate and enthusiastic and get excited is brilliant and what being a fan of something is about it. Then we get certain news and it all turns sour. Insults and strops and essentially throwing our toys out of the pram before we have any clue or any right to judge. I don’t even like Affleck that much and I was surprised and maybe even a little let down at the news but any one can tell you that if you go into something like this expecting to find something to hate, you are going to. And where is the fun in going to see Batman throwing down with Superman on the big screen, something we have waited decades to see, if we’re just looking for things to complain about?
Suck it up kids. It’ll be fine.
Forgive the burgeoning bat bias that’s been creeping into this blog as of late, but I’ve just finished playing the brilliant Arkham City (finally) and I have to indulge my reignited love for Batman in any way possible.
Batman: The Animated Series is the greatest superhero cartoon ever. This is fact. This is scientifically proven. To even call it a cartoon does it a disservice. It was a dark, intelligent and brooding show that had just as much for grown ups as it did for kids (at least that’s what I tell myself since I still watch it every now and again).
Not only did the show pick up a boat load of awards and recognition, but it refined and even created characters that have gone on to be fan favorites within the actual comics continuity. Harley Quinn, the Joker’s main squeeze originated in TAS and the hugely popular Batman Beyond was an original idea spinning off from TAS.
The casting was always spot on. To my mind, Kevin Conroy will always be Batman and Mark Hamill will always be the definitive Joker (all due respect to Heath Ledger). If any proof were needed of this, the two were asked to reprise their roles for the Arkham games, years after TAS wound to a close.
It was a beautifully written show that never shied away from the fact that The Joker kills people, or even that Batman is in fact actually a bit of a mental case himself. Previously one dimensional characters like Mr Freeze were given deep and fairly tragic back stories that again got picked up in the comic books.
While a cartoon can have all these factors, it’s nothing if it doesn’t look good. Thankfully, TAS had a gorgeous, 1950s art deco style that made Gotham feel like it had a personality all of it’s own. The character designs were simple yet effective and the action sequences were always engaging and well executed.
If you’re the sort of person that doesn’t feel embarrassed to watch old cartoons from back in t’day, (and why should you?) you could do a lot worse than Batman: TAS. It’s the purest and most enjoyable form of Batman you’re ever likely to find. And I haven’t even mentioned that glorious motherfucking theme tune.
It’s sad, but we all know that the Batman movie franchise is gonna get rebooted faster than you can say “Christopher Nolan”. Following the Man of Steel and the recent news of a Batman/Superman movie as the inevitable build up to a Justice League, it makes sense that DC and Warner will be looking to revive their biggest cash cow in his own franchise as quickly as possible.
But since the Dark Knight trilogy literally just hung up its cape and the next Superman film will (presumably) feature the Batman we all know and love, DC should be taking the Batman film franchise in a new, unexpected direction.
Cue Batman Beyond. A late 90s cartoon set in a futuristic, Orwellian Gotham City. Without going into too much detail, a young juvenile called Terry McGinnis stumbles across a long deserted batcave and a long since retired Bruce Wayne. Needless to say, Wayne ends up mentoring McGinnis and they fight all manner of futuristic nasties and corporate corruption.
It was fucking brilliant.
So as if the synopsis alone wasn’t enough to justify a movie, here are five reasons why DC and Warner should make it so.
Old Bruce Wayne
An embittered old man who was forced to give up his war on crime but is still an absolute don who does not take shit from anyone. On top of that, he has a cool bat hound called Ace. Just think of some of the old badasses of film that could own that role. Chuck Norris taking out gang members with a walking cane? Worth the ticket price alone.
Like I said, if they reboot the franchise this soon, it needs to be as different as can be and Terry McGinnis is no Bruce Wayne. For a start he’s still in high school and has a family and girlfriend so right away there’s a new dynamic to work with. But even on an emotional level, McGinnis is a wisecracking, cocky Batman unlike Wayne’s calculated and silent Dark Knight.
Beyond rarely fell back on classic Batman villains and usually opted for original creations, most of which were awesome. There’s an entire gang of “Jokers”, an evil CEO with a skin condition (which is cooler than it sounds, I swear) and some weird Venom like lady. Of course, if they wanted it to tie in more with Wayne and his past they could give an old villain some futuristic twist.
Why Batman Quit
Because Bruce doesn’t just stop being Batman, he completely turns his back on everything he ever had to do with it. It would be interesting to see the events leading up to his retirement unfold (in the series he relied on a gun after having a senior moment, and was so disgusted with himself he quit). But maybe there could be something more on top of that, some great trauma or loss that was the catalyst for him giving up.
One of the coolest costumes ever. Seriously. They’d barely need to change a thing to make this look viable in a live action movie. Please, God make it happen.
Or… just give us another series of Batman Beyond. Such a great show.
Yep. Director Zack Snyder confirmed that Man of Steel 2 will feature the Dark Knight in a team up comic book fans have been waiting to see take to the big screen since there was a big screen.
We can assume that this will be a different Batman to Nolan and Bale’s brooding trilogy and it makes perfect sense to reintroduce Bats in a different franchise. Given Rises only just rounded things off, it’s way too soon to bring back Batman in his own franchise.
Of course, what’s most exciting is that this is inevitably the beginning of DC’s build up to The Justice League. Given that I always preferred the DC super team, I say bring it on.