Confessions of a Superman Fan

Guys, I have to say that seeing the “blockbuster” film Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice a couple of weeks ago, as well as the lukewarm reception  the aforementioned film has received from both viewers and critics has left me feeling a tad blue.

Sadness

“Hello, darkness, my old friend…”

You see, we here at Twinsanity are Superman fans. We have been for years now, and speaking as a Superman fan, I have to say, it’s really hard these days to be one. There hasn’t been a decent take on Superman in the media since Superman: The Animated Series and if one counts it, Smallville. And Big Blue’s latest venture on the big screen has just been one flop after another. Granted, neither Man of Steel nor Batman V Superman bombed at the box office, but the reception for these films has not been stellar. Many fans (myself included) feel that our hero Supes is just being continually dumped on through both of these movies. And while Batman is enjoying the success of the Arkham Asylum video games, Superman’s most noteworthy game Superman 64 is is infamously known for being one of THE WORST video games of all time. In this current society of “Dark, moody and angsty = AWESOME!!” and most kids preferring the darkness of Batman, it’s especially trying on those of us fans who prefer the light.

One can only imagine what must be going through Supes’ head right now…

The thing of it is, Superman used to be The Man, and he can be that again, but a couple of things need to happen first. For one, writers and directors need to stop getting these two guys mixed up with each other.

superman_vs_batman_by_els3bas

Superman is NOT Batman! The 2 heroes AREN’T the same! They’re at opposite sides of the DC Heroes’ spectrum. Batman is dark, brooding and gritty. Superman is not!  Superman represents hope, light, idealism. Supes is the hero that other super heroes aspire to be like. And while we’re on the subject, Superman’s city Metropolis does NOT look like this:

Darkknightillustration14

This is Gotham City. Gotham is the seedy, crime infested hell hole. Metropolis, by contrast, is a beautiful city.

Metropolis

You see this? Notice the bright colors, the blue sky and how everything here isn’t shades of gray?

My point: Don’t write Superman the way that you would Batman because they AREN’T  the same. Superman averts Armegeddon while Batman deals with the crazies. I’m not denying the awesome-ness of Batman, Wolverine and their ilk, but not every super hero needs to be Batman or Wolverine. Much like how you can’t have a top without a bottom or a front without a back, dark super heroes can’t exist without the light ones. A world in which every single super hero is dark and angst ridden is not a world that I’d want to live in. I can’t put it any better than JustSomeRandomGuy voiced through Spider Man on his YouTube channel:

“The light super heroes compliment the dark super heroes and vice-versa. If every super hero were dark, that would be boring because they’d all be exactly the same.”

There is a ray of hope, though. Reportedly, after the lukewarm reception of BVS,  DC plans to be more “hands on” with the future DCEU films, and there’s even talk of bringing in the likes of Bruce Timm as a consultant for the Justice League movies. It’s too late for Warner Brothers to give Zack Snyder the boot as director (as much as I’d like for that to happen), but word is that while Snyder will still be directing Justice League Part 1, there may be a different director for JL Part 2.

You see, Superman used to be The Man, and he can be again, but Big Blue needs to directed by someone who understands the character and who respects the character’s mythos and just plain gets Superman. I’d like to see another good Superman movie in my lifetime, so it’s time to step your game up, WB.

Wouldn’t you like for things to be like this again?

 

 

Carpin’ & Gripin’

Just so you know, I’m in a mood today.

Anger

I’ve gotta blow off some steam, so today’s entry is going to be a little different. There isn’t going to be one specific subject here, I’ll just be popping off about various things in popular media which have been annoying me lately. Bear with me as I get this off my chest.

bvsquad2

ENOUGH OF THIS! I’m sick of Superman and Batman butting heads all the time. For that matter, I’m tired of heroes fighting heroes in general. It’s been done to death, it’s played out and beyond tired. (Yeah, I’m still planning to see Captain America: Civil War, but I’m still sick of this trope.) I wasn’t crazy about the many cheesy fanfics which came from the Batman/Superman Adventures episode “Girls’ Night Out”…

Girls' Night Out 1

…But one thing I did like about episode was that Barbara (Batgirl) and Kara (Supergirl) hit it off instantly and became fast friends; they didn’t spend half the episode at each others’ throats. There used to be a time where Supes and Bats got along, can we go back to that, please?

Girls' Night Out 2

Super Best Friends Forever!

While we’re on the subject, isn’t it high time we stopped using Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns as the default template for how to write Batman and Superman? Let me clue you in on something: Frank Miller is an overrated hack! DC needs to drop his style ASAP. And please, please, take Zack Snyder of off Justice League and any future DC movies. Lose David S. Goyer too. Why would you hire a guy who hates superheroes to write your superhero movie?

Angry Joe

“You done f***ed it up!”

-I’m sick of the X-Men stories. They all follow the same bleak, dark pattern: if they’re not about mutants being persecuted, they’re about some Big Evil threatening to destroy everything. “There’s a war coming.” Is there ever NOT a war coming?? Learn a new tune already!

 

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By the way, Quicksilver and Mystique were never X-Men, and Cyclops is Havok’s older brother, not his younger brother. As long as you’re retconning stuff, Fox, fix that. And I hate the Mohawk on Storm.

-Speaking of,  I can’t stand how we only have Quicksilver in the X-Men movies and not Scarlet Witch. I get that it’s likely a contractual/legal rights things, but Pietro without Wanda is like Sonny without Cher; it’s just wrong. And I’m still pissed over Quicksilver dying in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Not only was it unnecessary (it mainly happened because Joss Whedon has a boner for killing off main characters), but Pietro went out like a punk and it made no sense. A guy who can run faster than the image can register on a person’s eyes should be able to dodge a few bullets. Why didn’t he just go into that hyper-speed mode where he’s moving so fast that everything around him appears frozen and just flick the bullets out of the way? Logically no one had to die there. (Yeah, I know that was a different movie and a different version of the character. You know what else? I don’t care! That scene still ticked me off.) You don’t have one twin without the other. You just don’t.

Angry Joe

“You done…well, you know!”

-I have just one thing to say to The Simpsons: Just end already! You’ve made yourselves an American TV institution, now bow out before you become any less relevant. We can’t miss you if you don’t go away.

-Audience Network, can you please acquire some comedy series which aren’t romcoms about  white peoples’ sexcapades? Surely there are other things to make shows about besides just attractive Caucasian people trying to find love in New York or put the zing back in their marriage? Also, can we get something else on TV besides critically-acclaimed dramas? I have nothing against those, but they’re not my thing. What happened to zany, alternative comedies? Why can’t we get a new show like Mr. Show or Stupidface or The Kids in the Hall or Mystery Science Theater 3000 or The Captain and Casey Show? I mean, Togetherness? Seriously? Do we really need a TV-MA version of thirtysomething??

-African-American actor/comedians, knock it off. Enough taking some popular genre film and inserting stereotypical black people in the lead roles. It’s like that fortune cookie game ‘In Bed’, just instert ‘…With Black People’. The Haunted House movies? Just Paranormal Activity…with Black People. Fifty Shades of Black? Just Fifty Shades of Gray…with Black People. (Speaking of which, the whole “You wanna argue? Like white people? I prefer the black way” routine? Really, Marlon Wayans? It’s the 21st century and we’re still doing “white people be acting like this and black people be acting like that” routines? Haven’t we evolved beyond this minstrel show crap by now? I personally feel that constantly pointing out the difference between the races only widens the chasm between them.) Meet the Blacks? Just The Purge..with Black People. Stop this. For that matter, can we stop with shows like black-ish and slave movies as well? I long for the day when we can get TV shows and movies starring African-Americans where their being African-American isn’t the premise or the gimmick.

Whew. There. I feel better now.

 

One to Grow Up On

You know what I find funny?

Fozzie2

WAKA-WAKA-WAKA!

When I’m discussing animation with people, and whenever the topic shifts to shows such as Sofia the First, Miles from Tomorrowland, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Littlest Pet Shop, Looney Tunes, Uncle Grandpa, Scooby-Doo or Hanna-Barbera, someone pipes in with….

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“Pfft! I don’t watch that kiddie crap! Those shows are for babies! I only watch mature, grown-up cartoons like Batman, Yu-Gi-Oh! and Beyblade!”

Blockbuster Buster

“Really??”

OK, confession time: I lied when I said that I find statements like these to be funny, at least partially. The truth is that I would find attitudes like this funny…if they weren’t so pathetic.

When people say to us about shows such as My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and Uncle Grandpa “That’s for kids!” Our response is usually “Yeah, so are Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Batman Unlimited, Adventure Time and Gravity Falls. I don’t see your flipping point!”

nerd

“I do not watch cartoons! The shows I watch are grown-up, mature, dark edgy fare! Anime and action shows like Justice League are NOT cartoons! They are ANIMATED SERIES!”

Sure they are. And G.I. Joe isn’t a doll, it’s an action figure. The difference between a cartoon and an ‘animated series’ is the exact same difference, that is, none at all, save for a fancy name change which was only concocted in a boardroom to pacify fragile egos. Most of the people who try to claim that shows like Beyblade, Bakugan and Justice League are somehow something other than mere cartoons usually tend to be insecure teenagers and young adults who are too embarrassed to admit publicly that they watch cartoons, so they try to invent this delusion that the shows they watch are in fact something different. Well, you might want to sit down for this one: if something is drawn and animated, then it’s a CARTOON, so you’re watching and enjoying CARTOONS. Deal with it.

Folks, here’s the skinny on super hero cartoons: We’re talking about athletically fit dudes and chicks who don brightly colored pajamas and capes and then use their magical powers to run around beating up mad scientists and would-be world conquerors. Am I saying that these shows aren’t cool? No. Am I saying that these shows aren’t enjoyable? No. But at the same time, I fail to see how these shows have any more depth to them than 5 teenagers and a talking dog who travel around the world in a psychedelic van unmasking fake ghosts, or a one-eyed sailor man with enormous forearms who clobbers bad guys by eating raw spinach straight from the can, or buff dudes giving passionate speeches about the Heart of the Cards,  before screaming at the top of their lungs in order to summon enough ki energy to wipe out a town square. Batman: TAS, Superman: TAS and Justice League are still kids’ shows, awesome kids shows, but kids’ shows nonetheless.

And I’m really failing to see how a show about battling spinning tops is somehow more mature than a show about a goofy magical shape shifting guy who’s the uncle and grandfather of everyone in the world who lives in a magic RV with a deadpan dinosaur and a slice of pizza wearing shades. Like it or not, we are all fans of cartoons, and ALL cartoons are equally inherently childish. If you’re ashamed of that fact, then you’re demonstrating the very thing you’re opposed to. Refusing to watch Friendship is Magic because it has colorful, magical talking Ponies in it, refusing to watch Looney Tunes because it has shameless slapstick, refusing to watch Uncle Grandpa because it has silly nonsense,…refusing these things doesn’t make a person mature, nor do they make one appear to be an adult.

Are we saying ALL cartoons are for kiddies? No, of course not.  But the ones made for corporate children’s networks like Cartoon Network, Disney Channel and Nickelodeon?….

Rowan & Martin

You bet your sweet bippy they are.

I instinctively sneer whenever I hear or read statements such as:

Little Lord Fauntleroy

“Every time I tune in to Cartoon Network nowadays, the shows on it get more and more juvenile and infantile.”

-Wow, juvenile and infantile shows airing on a CHILDREN’S network. Who’d-a thunk it?

dr-frank-n-furter-low-res

“Well. How about that??”

If you seriously think that focusing on humor equals “dumbed down for kids”, then you might need to develop a sense of humor yourself.

Or:

Gor-don

“Disney needs to grow up and start making movies for adults like Saw and Friday the 13th!”

Um, no, they do not actually. Not at all. That’s just something you’d personally like to see happen; it doesn’t need to happen by any stretch of the imagination. Let’s not confuse your wants for the studio’s needs. The Mouse House has forged a boo-billion dollar empire by making family-friendly movies, TV shows and theme park attractions, they’re not about to toss all that aside and topple said empire just because Xxxevilemodood666xxX wants to see Disney release a Zombie Apocalypse movie. FTR, Disney does make more mature films, just when they do it’s under one of their psuedonyms. If you’re honestly expecting to see some Saw ripoff about a homicidal Satanic traveling dentist who gets off on torture porn preceded by that animation of Mickey Mouse whistling in Steamboat Willie, you need to put down that bong and come down from that high, ’cause that’s never gonna happen.

Look folks, you’re entitled to prefer whichever genre you prefer, but don’t hand us this BS that your favorite genre of kids’ cartoons is innately more mature or substantial than any other genre, ’cause BS is precisely what it is. Young Justice, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Bleach and Beware the Batman are no more substantial than Regular Show, Tiny Toon Adventures, Animaniacs and Uncle Grandpa.

Sometimes when I point out that these shows are in fact, for kids, some smart-ass will occasionally hit back with:

nerd

“Ahem, one should never bring ‘It’s a kids’ show’ as an argument to support what a show or channel does.”

No, I should, because that’s exactly the point. Adults on message boards or social media sites tend to present the erroneous argument that the “majority” hates the shows that networks like Nick and CN specialize in when reality the “majority” they speak of are people whom these networks don’t care one whit about and who by all statistical evidence, haven’t done much of diddly-doo-squahoo to hurt said shows’/channels’ success. It’s like a vegan complaining about the opening of a new steak house: of course you’re not going to like something that was specifically made to appeal to a demographic other than yours and whose popularity is already helped by other factors.

I can’t sum things up better than one of Toon Zone’s senior staff members, Mr. Edward Liu, who said this:

“I find it ironic in the extreme that a self-selected audience that believes cartoons are worth watching and discussing as adults is also more than happy to relegate everything in the kids’ block as juvenile and not worthy of their attention, even though that’s the same attitude that the overwhelming majority of adults still have for ALL cartoons.”

To clarify, it’s perfectly fine with us if adults want to watch TV shows and channels that are tailored for kids. We’d look like jerks if we said otherwise since we do that ourselves, but at the same time, we don’t get where these same adults get off expecting channels that are tailored for children to be responsive to their particular tastes and desires. Adults complaining about kids’ shows on a personal level is pointless and absurd. If you’re old enough to complain about a children’s show, then you’ve already outgrown it. Your favorite cartoons don’t have to grow up just because you did. The true mark of maturity is just watching and enjoying whatever the frell you like and not caring what others think.

There is no ‘kid stuff’. If you like something, you like it. It doesn’t matter how old you are.

Here’s a thought: instead of expecting shows like Looney Tunes and Phineas and Ferb to “grow up”, why don’t YOU grow up and watch something that was actually made for you?

And that’s One to Grow Up On.

Raise Your Voice (As Long As It’s Not New)!

The following is old news, I realize, but do indulge me.

So undoubtedly many of you have heard or read that Cartoon Network is going to produce a reboot of The Powerpuff Girls…without the series’ creator Craig McCracken.

New PPGs

These new character designs are OK. I’m not feeling the cowlick on Buttercup, but whatever.

Last June, it was announced that the new PPG series is going to have new actresses voicing the title characters. See below:

 

 

powerpuff-girls-reboot-voice-cast

Hmm..looks more like a casting call for High School Musical or Glee.

 

Ah, to be young and cute…Oh, I guess I’m supposed to be upset and mad and start ranting and raving up and down about how CN hired new voice actresses as the Powerpuff Girls instead of hiring the original VAs. Let me think about it…

Bored Emoticon

Nope. Still don’t care.

I mean, I don’t really understand why Cartoon Network decided to bring in new voice actresses or why Cathy Cavadini (Blossom), Tara Strong (Bubbles) nor E.G. Daily (Buttercup) weren’t considered or even contacted for the new series, but I’m not mad that they did it. Fans of the original PPG series consider CN’s hiring new and different actresses to voice the Girls for this reboot to be a huge slap in the face to the original VAs, but I just don’t see it that way. I find this action to be curious, sure, but I’m not infuriated by it. I suppose that it’s partially because I don’t much care about the new series being a reboot. I’m admittedly not a nostalgic person and am more interested in seeing new and original shows as opposed to rebooting shows from 20 or 30 years ago. Plus, it’s their show, CN can do whatever they want with it.

What does bother me, however, is how shamefully petty and small the fans of the 90s PPG show reacted to the news that the PPG reboot would have new VAs. Normally one would have to visit a preschool to see such immaturity, selfishness and temper tantrums, but at least preschoolers have an excuse for being immature and believing that the entire world revolves around them.

stewie-griffin

“You! Big person! I’m bored! Do something about it!!”

Seriously, though, I found how the fans of the 90s PPG series reacted to the news of the VAs to be a truly shameful and disgusting display of disrespect, rudeness and ridiculousness. There were insults hurled at the new VAs and threats of boycotts to the reboot.

Fanboy

“We’ll protest! We’ll boycott the new PPG! We’ll start a whiny petition until Cartoon Network decides to give the original voice actresses the job!”

To which, I imagine that Cartoon Network’s reaction was something along these lines:

Seriously, you guys and gals are no longer part of Cartoon Network’s target demographic. You’ve grown up and they’ve moved on. Who cares what you do? What these 90s brats need to understand is that this PPG reboot wasn’t made for them. Actually no reboot is made for them! They’re meant for a new generation of today’s kids. It’s supposed to attract a new generation of fans. That’s the whole point of a reboot. If you don’t like the new VAs, then fine. Don’t watch the reboot, but don’t hate on the new voice actresses just because they auditioned and got the job. Cathy Cavadini, Tara Strong and E.G. Daily are all still very much active in the voice over business. None of them are hurting for work, so it’s not like CN is taking food out of their kids’ mouths.

Having the original voice actors present alone isn’t a guarantee that a new show will be good. Have we forgotten about this already?

Teen_titans_go_team_photo_by_imperial96-d6839mr

Teen Titans GO! has the same voice actors as Teen Titans: The Animated Series, and that show sucks noodles!

Here’s the thing: Amanda Lighton (Blossom), Natalie Palamides (Buttercup) and Kristen Li (Bubbles) are just like Cathy Cavadini, E.G. Daily and Tara Strong were 30 years ago; a bunch of actresses looking for a break. Don’t ruin their chance to shine just because you yourself can’t let go of the past. That’s your issue, not theirs nor the network’s. They have a job to do, so just let them do it. No one’s forcing you to watch this (or any) reboot. If you prefer the old VAs , then just watch the old episodes. it’s not like the original PPG series disappeared and there are no traces of it left anywhere.  The original episodes are still out there for you to enjoy. The entire series is on DVD now. Buy it, binge watch it and shut the frag up! Let their kids have their fun. Instead of protesting and threatening to boycott the PPG reboot, perhaps you should work on moving out of your parents’ basements and getting a life?

Fanboy 2

“Hey, rent’s high, man. Rent’s high.”

 

Funny is Not a 4-Letter Word

Let’s talk for a bit about Genre Busters, shall we?

“Who ya gonna call?”

Now that we’ve gotten that obligatory joke out of the way, GENRE BUSTERS. I’m talking about cartoons like Avatar: The Last Airbender, Adventure Time, Steven Universe, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and Over the Garden Wall, shows which operate on several levels, incorporating comedy with drama, action, adventure and mystery, pushing the envelope and offering something beyond what many have come to expect from your typical ‘cartoony’ cartoons.

Now while shows of this ilk aren’t my particular cup of tea, as a lifelong devotee of art and animation I can’t help but applaud these genre busting shows for showing us all what animation is truly capable of in the hands of skillful and talented people when given the chance.

However, the success of these shows, while noteworthy and commendable, is also a…..

DOUBLE-EDGED SWORD.

On the one hand, it’s good that shows like these manage to get on the air, but on the other hand, the successes of these genre-busting cartoons has created a new subculture of animation snobs who now turn their collective noses up at straight-up ‘funny cartoons’ and deride them as somehow being “inferior” and “insulting the medium”. “Bah!” They’ll snort. “That show’s just a comedy!” As though there’s something wrong with a show being a comedy. Not too long ago, a message board poster actually laid out these words of wisdom upon viewing a brief preview clip of the upcoming Wabbit: A Looney Tunes Production:

“I am wondering who exactly is WB catering too (yeah, that’s really how he spelled it). they did an amazing job with stuff like Tiny Toons and Animaniacs but The Looney Tunes Show had little to no emotional moments or depth to their characters, they act as though literally no human being alive liked Loonatics Unleashed and this seems like a return to the shorts that were nothing but animated puppets making jokes.”

“Animated puppets making jokes??”

“Exsqueeze me? Baking powder??”

“You got a problem with puppets making jokes, pal? That happens to be our bread and butter, man!”

OK, where to begin? First, Tiny Toon Adventures and Animaniacs were zany shows which were occasionally sentimental, not sentimental shows which were occasionally zany. Selective memory much? It’s also worth mentioning that those so-called “deep and emotional” segments such as “Puttin’ on the Blitz”, “Smitten with Kittens”, “Homeward Bound”, “Whale’s Tales” and “One Flew Over the Cuckoo Clock” were not only few and far and between and the exception, not the norm, of those shows’ usual fare, but they were also largely HATED by the general fanbases of said shows. Second, why the flaming heck are you watching a clip of a show called “Wabbit: A Looney Tunes Production” expecting depth and emotional moments anyway? It’s the freaking LOONEY TUNES. The Looney Tunes are FUNNY. They’ve always been funny. If you’re expecting something akin to Sophie’s Choice from a Looney Tunes cartoon, you’re living on a different planet than the rest of us and only setting yourself up for disappointment.

This same towering intellect of our time was also displeased by the recent Sonic Boom cartoon, as it commits the heinous crime of not being the 1990’s Sonic the Hedgehog cartoon from 1993-1994. he opines:

“This show is an insult to Sonic fans. Sonic SatAM should be revived, because it had drama and sadness, like My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic which is the super-duper bestest show of all time and will one day replace oxygen as the thing we need to breathe in order to stay alive. Sonic Boom has no moments of drama, sadness, tragedy or angst, so it turns Sonic into a bland character on a show for babies.”

Unfortunately, I’ve encountered attitudes like this far too often recently. I find it’s common among teens and in teen media to mistake angst for depth. They seem to think that if a character is depressed all the time, then they must have really deep thoughts about the world. It’s what we call Emo Disease.

In regards to the Sonic point (aside from the one on this guy’s head): I really get tired of this whole “characters who don’t cry or suffer a ton of angst and drama = bland and childish” rhetoric that genre-buster snobs now hold so dear. Yes, in some cases emotion and poignancy can do a lot of good, but just piling on cheap tragedies one after the other is an empty way of compensating for proper character development. There are other ways to develop characters and make your audience care about them besides just putting them through some contrived emotional wringer.

“If sadness equals character development, then I must be the deepest character ever conceived. Lucky me.”

All too often in this day and age, it seems that the wacky cartoons like Looney Tunes, Sonic Boom and Uncle Grandpa are looked down upon because they don’t meet these animation snobs’ standards of the supposed “right way” to make a cartoon, as if now every single cartoon now has to be Avatar: the Last Airbender or My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. What these chinless wonders fail to realize is that there is no one right way to make a cartoon. It genuinely angers me how people constantly want everything to be the same, and bash something simply because it doesn’t fit their narrow definitions. Cartoon creators typically make what they want to see and what they think is entertaining, which is how it should be. If you don’t like it, fine, but don’t act like every cartoon needs to follow some arbitrary checklist of your very specific desires. Seriously, get over it and yourself.

Right now I’m collaborating on a new cartoon show that I hope can get made one day, but it’s not going to be the next Avatar: the Last Airbender, Adventure Time, Sonic SatAM or Steven Universe. Quite frankly I’m just not interested in making that kind of show. Depth, pathos, drama and heart are fine if that’s what you’re into, but we can’t all be Miyazaki. Someone’s gotta just provide the belly-laughs, and that’s what I plan to do. Some people are going to like the kind of cartoons I plan to produce and some aren’t. I know not everyone out there is gonna share our tastes, and that’s ultimately going to be what we build our show around: OUR tastes, not those of a perceived majority. You can’t please everyone, and you never need to.

I can’t think of better words of wisdom than those of J.G. Quintel, creator of Regular Show, who said this:

“Make the things you want to see, not what you think other people want to see. It’s way too much work to be making something that you’re not even into.”

Well said, man.