Nerdspectives: Batman The Killing Joke & Star Trek Beyond
Batman: The Killing Joke
Written by Matt McCloud
Batman: The Killing Joke has quickly become one of the summer’s most divisive movies, as DC Animation’s first R-rated movie stepped on some toes—intentional or not, time will tell. If you are a fan of animation, go here. The movie’s latter half delves into the actual story that Alan Moore wrote—and deliciously portrays the insanity of the Joker—but the first half is a story about Batgirl, Batman, and some decisions that has comic fans on edge.
The first half has to do with Batgirl trying to take down a mob boss’ son, a wretch of a person that is sickly sadistic and physically a match for Batgirl. Batman warns her off him several times during the show but Batgirl is determined to stop him, and her growing anger at Batman seems to inflame her infatuation with him. Yes, I said it. Batgirl was infatuated with Batman. A lot of people have been blowing up about how this movie ruined their father-daughter dynamic. I’m here to tell you, and listen up: Barbara Gordon had a perfectly fine father-daughter relationship with her real dad, James Gordon. She became Batgirl because she was crushing on Batman—hard. Anyone watching the 60s shows or any of the Batman Family comics in the 80s and 90s, especially the holy bible, Untold Legend of The Batman (1980), will tell you, Batgirl was Batgirl because she had the biggest college kid age crush on the Dark Knight. The growing anger at Batman over the course of the story culminates in an explosive sexual situation on a rooftop. Was this a good decision by either side? Probably not. I try not to look at the movie as objectifying Barbara, rather I see this as a rather stark look on how even heroes can make choices that aren’t the best. Because deep down they are still human.
Thankfully, the last half of the movie actually deals with Alan Moore’s story. Yes, right at the beginning, the Joker gets the drop on Barbara and cripples her with a gunshot. It happened. It happens to a lot of heroes. Supes was killed. Batman was killed. Cap got old. Plastic Man is clinically insane. The Joker also takes a lot of nude pictures of her while she is crippled and shows them to a stripped naked Gordon led around in a Carnival of Hell designed to make him insane. This was Joker’s plan: to drive Gordon nuts by showing him that he can’t protect even the people he loves, and the one person Gordon embraced in his fight on crime was the one he should be arresting, the vigilante Batman. The Joker didn’t even know Barbara was Batgirl, she was chosen because she was Gordon’s daughter.
I loved this movie for three reasons: Kevin Conroy back as Batman, Mark Hamill back as the Joker (perhaps his best performance to date!) and the stark way in which the last half of the movie stayed true to Moore’s story. Let’s also not forget that in the end Barbara didn’t play into the helpless dame trope, but instead continued to fight crime as the computer genius Oracle. That’s a good enough morality play for me.
Star Trek: Beyond
Written by Matt McCloud
In this “New Era” of Star Trek movies, especially celebrating 50 years of Trek, Justin Lin and crew really hit it out of the galaxy with this one. Set at the end of their third year of a 5-year deep space mission, Kirk and crew find themselves up against a new and overwhelming alien force which echoes and expounds upon the failures of Starfleet’s past.
In looking back, they also give a fond farewell to Ambassador Spock, Leonard Nimoy. Zachary Quinto’s scenes in dealing with the loss of the Spock the First are heartwarming and endearing to watch. Less so is the scene where the John Cho, Sulu, greets his family as the Enterprise gets a little R and R. Not because his partner is also male, but because of George Takei’s not-so-quiet argument about leaving Sulu heterosexual as he played him, per the wishes of Gene Roddenberry himself.
The movie itself is quite an adventure romp, proving once again Roddenberry’s vision of exploration is full of excitement, thrills and a little bit of terror. Yes, we lose yet another Enterprise, but at least this one has been through three movies and most of it’s mission before it bit it, showing the dangers of exploring the unknown. The aliens are strange and scary, embodied by the curiousness of Jaylah (Sofia Boutella) to Idris Elba’s brilliantly fearsome portrayal of Krall (ok, he’s not really an Alien, but whatever). As in all great Star Trek movies, it’s not just the tech that’s the solution but how it is utilized (hardly done better than by Simon Pegg’s Scotty) that saves the day.
All in all, Star Trek: Beyond is a fantastic “popcorn” Summer movie and a remarkable chapter in the Star Trek legacy. Gene would be proud.
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