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The Dark Knight Returns’ Batman is Really Ra’s al Ghul

Nothing like Ra's al Ghul. At all

Nothing like Ra’s al Ghul. At all

Frank Miller’s Batman is bound to be an asshole. But what struck me when rereading The Dark Knight Returns is why he’s an asshole.

Batman may be dark and menacing, but he protects Gotham because he cares about the people. Miller’s Batman in Dark Knight Returns has nothing but contempt for the people of Gotham.

It’s a theme that develops subtly in the media coverage as the people turn one way and then another, the contemptible mayor who answers to the polls, the storekeeper itching to shoot the Mutant until Batman warns him off and finally the climax in which Batman allies with the former Mutants to fight… among other enemies… the people of Gotham.

It all climaxes in the showdown with Superman who let the people push him into being a weakling by comic book Reagan who is just another feeble minded projection of the petty people of Gotham and the United States.

The Batman of the Dark Knight Returns isn’t a hero because he cares about people, but because he follows some Randian imperative to be heroic. Eventually he leads an army of the ex-Mutants, the same guys who were murdering, raping and bombing Gotham, on a quest to build his own system. This Batman doesn’t fight for people. He fights because he’s a Nietzschean Superman. He’s just made to be superior.

And Superman is just a loser who takes orders from ordinary people. Like the people of Gotham and the media. He let them make him unheroic. That’s why Batman does so well against him. Superman doesn’t think he’s better than anyone. This version of Batman does.

Superman didn’t do his job of imposing the right system on humans. So he got stuck answering to Ronnie, a human leader. Batman is going to go down into the caves and emerge with some kind of new order to replace the pop psychology, push polls and political correctness.

It’s striking how different this Batman is from his usual self and from Frank Miller’s work on Daredevil. This is a Batman who belongs in Moore’s Watchmen more than he does in Gotham. He’s not just a fascist because he’s a crime-fighting vigilante. That’s a common comic critic mistake. He’s a fascist because he believes that society is corrupt and that he has the right to impose his own order on it.

The Dark Knight Returns gives us Batman as a Batman villain. This Batman has more in common with Ra’s al Ghul, right down to his own private army, a home in the caves and contempt for human society.

That contempt is what always separated Batman from Ra’s al Ghul. Batman knew that Gotham was corrupt, but he never completely gave up on it. Miller’s Batman has given up. He views Gotham with a cold eye. He treats its people with disdain. He thinks he’s better than them.

He knows what’s best for them. And he’ll punish them if they don’t obey. He is Ra’s al Ghul.

Red Dawn Dawning – Can North Korea Invade America?

First actual trailer for Red Dawn and it does have that old Wolverines vibe.

The most obvious problem is the superweapon gimmick. Probably some kind of pulse weapon. If you’re going to have an invasion of the United States you have to go pulse. But turning it into a portable weapon just detracts from whatever realism can be sustained.

The second most obvious problem. North Korea. But more suspension of disbelief is required. Here’s how Homefront, a cousin of sorts to Red Dawn, supposedly written by John Millius, though maybe not, handled that same problem.

Could North Korea invade the United States? Homefront’s opening tries to make a case for it with a North Korean takeover of South Korea and Japan while the US implodes in a massive financial crisis and pulls troops out of Asia. Then bird flu hits America followed by a pulse weapon attack that destroys America’s power grid.

I doubt Red Dawn has spent as much time working out a semi-plausible scenario for all this to take place. Homefront wasn’t that great of a game but it seemed to put more thought into this than Red Dawn is likely to have done.

The only way this can work is if America is falling apart while North Korea is getting its Reich on.

The Dawn of Red Dawn

Red Dawn looks okay except for the ridiculous North Korea thing. They would have been better off making it a nameless country than trying to sell something that stupid. North Korea has a population of 24 million which makes it less than tenth the size of the United States. During WW2 Imperial Japan had more than twice the population.

red dawn cast

It’s like the Breakfast Club… with guns

North Korea does have the world’s 4th largest military and if you go by size alone it doesn’t look completely hopeless, but an invasion of millions means that you need to have the capacity to move something like 300,000 troops into the United States. If you think about how tough moving US troops into Europe was during WW2. And unless the defense grid is neglected for twenty years or the whole thing gets taken out by pulse weapons, the tech difference is just too great.

I could say something about the trailer, but it’s not really a trailer and there’s not much to say about it except that it looks like they’re going for a feel more influenced by Iraq and urban warfare. Also I have no idea if this thing is going to be any good, but I’m glad they’re finally getting around to releasing it.

Is there any reason to be optimistic about the Red Dawn remake?

The Red Dawn script was written by John Milius as in the guy who inspired The Big Leboswki’s… nah just kidding. Despite reports, Milius did not write the script for this or Homefront. The actual Red Dawn script comes from the writer of The Cleaner and the writer of Disturbia, the Last House on the Left remake and Red Eye. It’s probably not the worst resume ever, but meh. (In an unrelated story, what is it with so many Xena writers going on to have major careers?)

So feel free to ignore everything in this post but check out the subversive Breakfast Club style poster of the cast of the original Red Dawn.

The Blob vs Body Snatchers

Horror is rooted in the fear of the unknown. With the transition of the United States along the road of a technological society through the 20th century, the locus of the unknown shifted increasingly moving from gothic themes, from demons, legendary monsters of superstition and curses to scientific experiments gone mad. technological monsters and creatures from beyond the solar system.

Horror had always resided in the fear of the unknown. As the world became known, its forests mapped, its cities lit by electric light, its deserts and jungles photographed and each corner of the globe surveyed by satellites from space, the unknown had to come from the mysteries of scientific laboratories, radiation and of course outer space. Science replaced myth as the wellspring of terror and is doing so its discoveries, methods and processes became terrifying.

Read the rest here The Blob vs Body Snatchers � Jelly or pods?

Star Trek Enterprise Season 1 Review – Fight or Flight

Summary: Hoshi adjusts to life on a Starship and Captain Archer struggles with the nature of the mission of the first Starship to explore deep space.

fight or flight star trek enterpriseIn a way, Fight or Flight may be one of the best demonstrations of the paradigm shift that is Enterprise. It is not the kind of episode that any prior Star Trek series could have done, because ultimately every Star Trek series has viewed its characters as semi-mythological creatures beginning with TOS’s perfect trio. Fight or Flight instead spins the viewer around and looks at its crew as being simply biological organisms in an artificial environment.

From the moment the episodes begins with a worm taken from its native home and dying in its glass cage, even as Hoshi Sato struggles with her adjustment to life on a starship; it is a study of the crew as biological organisms in a foreign environment. The first human starship serving as a test tube and the first real thrust of the human race into the foreign environment of space. Fight or Flight uses Dr. Phlox and T’Pol as the resident aliens to drive the point home over and over again to the humans.

Phlox views Enterprise itself as a laboratory with the crew as his subjects, as his mealtime chatter demonstrates. From his messy and strange sickbay to his views on the crew, Phlox’s perspective is experimental and advocates exploration for the sake of the new things that will result and what the encounters will reveal about the real nature of the subjects and their capabilities. T’Pol on the other hand has nothing but distaste for the biological and prefers a Vulcans sense of order. From that perspective humans simply don’t belong in space. They’re a foreign substance coloring outside the lines. We know who will win this argument, but that doesn’t make watching it any less compelling.

Fight or Flight’s title, a reference to a biological impulse, ultimately refers also to this test of the human presence in space. Unlike every previous series, what is at stake, really is the future. Captain Archer’s role is to pave a way for the human presence in deep space, but it is also to define it, by doing so. Every single decision, every single act and the entire nature of Starfleet itself does not yet truly exist, but must be defined by the decisions the first explorers have made. Much as the standards and practices of the United States of America were born often out of necessity and by men working more for the present, than the future, Archer’s actions are creating precedents that will resonate through the future yet unborn.

In Fight or Flight, Archer’s key decision will define that human presence in space as a positive one, as a means of bringing a human-centered moral order to the stars. And though Fight or Flight is a biological term, Archer’s decision is ultimately a moral one. It is a third choice, not flight but not to fight merely for the sake of fighting, but to define space through the moral imperatives of human character, rather than letting space define them as biological organisms would. And Starfleet and the Federation, those characters of future shows who seem more mythical than real, are defined by that third choice and their world is created out of it.

Hoshi’s trouble adapting to life on a starship is cast as a biological struggle, by identifying her with a worm, perishing out of its natural habitat. But that aspect of biology which is shown as a weakness, by the end of the episode is revealed as a strength; the ability to transcend the native environment. And what holds true for Hoshi, also holds true for the Enterprise and the human race. With Broken Bow, the human race has broken out of the test tube and with Fight or Flight, it has begun to reshape the external environment according to its own innate nature.

Star Trek has often been criticized for appearing as an unreal utopia with no connection to real life and Enterprise has made its mission to provide that connection. Where Star Trek has shown us strange new worlds, Enterprise has shown us the microscopic mechanisms that go into the act and practice of exploration itself. It is the equivalent of a medical show set in a busy and bloody emergency room, to one that shows us the first years of medical school, the first incision on that first cadaver. In Fight or Flight, this connection is viewed at the biological level and the way our moral nature provides the mechanism to transcend that biology and our world into the distant world of the Federation.

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