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Batman Unmasked: The Psychology of The Dark Knight

Batman Unmasked: The Psychology of The Dark Knight 2008

This is the second to last documentary style special that’s available to watch on the DC Universe streaming app, two of them were connected to Superman Returns and this was the second one that was attached to the Dark Knight. One of the interesting things that I noticed about the three that I’ve watched so far, and I believe it continues onto the last one, is how differently they handle their source material. In the Superman special, it embraced all sorts of different variations of Superman across movies and television. But the two Dark Knight specials seemingly prefer to completely ignore Batman’s past outside of the comic books and only show clips from Batman Begins and the Dark Knight. Just like the previous two specials, this has a mix of interviews, clips from the first two Nolan movies, and comic book style graphics as they discuss different aspects of Batman’s personality as well as some of his villains and how they relate to psychology. It’s fun, but similar to Batman Tech, it felt less like a stand alone documentary, and more like just promotion for the Dark Knight.

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The Science of Superman

The Science of Superman 2006

One of the shows that I used to enjoy when I was a kid was the early programming of the Discovery Channel and the Learning Channel back before they became the go-to channel for reality TV freak shows. There were plenty of shows on those two channels that were full of cutting edge technology and the like and in a way, this special follows that format. And while it does remind me of the Batman Tech special that I watched on the DC Universe app a couple weeks ago, where that felt very much like the promotional material for the Dark Knight that it was, while this was released in a similar way as Batman Tech, being shown on the National Geographic channel the day after the theatrical release, it really spread out the clips used between all sorts of Superman shows and cartoons alongside a fair amount of Superman Returns clips. It also helps that it was inspired by an actual book of the same name and they included the author alongside several of those interviewed for the special. Overall, it was a pretty good doc with a lot of interesting information and theories backed up by the shows and comic books of Superman that weren’t just Superman Returns.

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Batman Tech

Batman Tech 2008

I’ve been trying to go through everything in the DC Universe streaming app and while I’ve already seen all of the traditional movies, there’s another category called “Specials” that include the TV specials like the Aquaman Pilot and the Legends of the Superheroes minseries that I’ve already covered here, but there’s also a handful of what appear to be documentaries. And the first one I decided to check out was this one called Batman Tech. While I initially thought it seemed to be more like a DVD special feature for The Dark Knight, it was actually a promotional doc that aired on the History Channel during the Dark Knight’s opening weekend. But all in all, there was just enough there to review it as a short-but-still-feature-length documentary. And while we didn’t get much cinematic Batman, there’s a lot of info from the comics alongside some geeky real world tech stuff.

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Aquaman

Aquaman 2006

As I continue my trial period for DC Universe, I noticed that they had the Aquaman pilot pseudo-spinoff from Smallville available to watch on there. And I also realized that even though it wasn’t a double length pilot movie, it does pass the 40+ minutes for my feature length requirement. And considering I recently watched the new Aquaman, I figured that I’d give it a shot. I was a fan of Smallville and watched it regularly through the first 7 or 8 seasons before dropping off just before the end. I remember hearing about this pilot when it was in the works but I never looked it up until just now. It has a surprisingly good cast in some of the minor roles and it also has someone who seems to be superhero pilot bad luck as Adrianne Palicki was in this failed pilot, the Wonder Woman failed pilot, and the Marvel’s Most Wanted Mockingbird failed pilot spinoff of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. As far as the actual Aquaman pilot goes, it’s a fairly standard origin setup for a monster-of-the-week first season. It doesn’t really do anything special or interesting. It’s just the same old format with an underwater theme to it.

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The Greatest American Heroine

The Greatest American Heroine 1986

I often go back and forth on what I decide to include on my site as to what is a superhero movie and what isn’t. The question on this one is whether or not it should be considered a movie or an episode of television. It’s technically the final episode of the TV series The Greatest American Hero which ran for three seasons, but it didn’t air in its original run, instead it was only included later when it went into syndication and on later DVD releases. But it also did get its own separate DVD release under its own title. I was aware of the concept of the Greatest American Hero, but I had never actually seen any episodes before now. It felt a little on the campy side and I could tell that I was missing some things even though they included some recaps.
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Justice League of America

Justice League of America 1997

While I’ve delved through the entire depths of the Marvel film catalogue including their awful TV movie roots, I have yet to do the same for DC. I have seen nearly all of their films, but there are a handful of early animated movies from the 90’s and a couple TV movies including this one that was initially intended to be the pilot of a new TV series coming hot off the heels of Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. But they also took a page out of the popularity of MTV’s the Real World which would have been on season 4 or 5 when this went into production and also would be near the height of the show’s popularity. So this show combines the superheroics with the daily life of the heroes alongside several “confessional” segments where the heroes talk directly to the TV audience. It’s bizarre how this managed to even make it to the pilot movie stage, the costumes and effects were lackluster, the characters were unlikable and barely resembled their comic book counterparts, and overall it feels roughly five years behind even 1997.
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The Spirit

The Spirit 1987

To go along with the other cult movies that other bloggers have picked out for me, I thought I’d follow along with some cult films of my own choosing. I have no idea whether or not this really counts as much of a cult film, though I have heard from at least two people who have seen this and thought it was much better than the theatrical Frank Miller version. This was made in the mid-Eighties with Sam J. Jones as the lead, better known as Flash Gordon himself. It also had Nana Visitor as his love interest who I was familiar with as Major Kira on Star Trek: Deep Space 9. But most of all, this pilot movie was extremely 80’s. From the music to the cheap sets to the power suits and cassette walkmen, it was very much steeped in the 80’s and for that reason alone, I had a lot of fun watching this. Most of it is even set up to have much more of a comedy feel than an action/detective vibe. It was as close to Adam West’s Batman with a bit more 80’s sensibilities than you could ever get.
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Model By Day

Model By Day 1993

Every once in a while I run across a movie that I don’t really know anything about aside from the title, the year it came out, and the fact that it’s related to superheroes or based on a comic book. That’s all I knew about this film, and after watching it, I suddenly wanted to know a lot more about it, but couldn’t find anything else. All I know is that it’s supposedly a TV movie and the only air date I could find was on the Fox channel March 21, 1994, as well as vague (USA) release date of October 11, 1993 via IMDB. But the kicker is that this is very much an R rated film with a not-insignificant amount of nudity, some swearing, and noted Cinemax queen Shannon Tweed in a minor role. This would lead me to believe that it originally aired on Cinemax or a similar station, but I can’t find confirmation of that anywhere. This film is also noteworthy as the lead is an early role for Famke Janssen who would later go on to play Jean Grey in the X-Men films. I went in expecting a pretty bad film, and it was actually a lot more enjoyable than I expected. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a cheezy, slightly sleazy, made-for-TV movie made in the 90’s, but I had a lot of fun watching it, and Famke Janssen had a lot of charisma even back then.
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The Death of the Incredible Hulk

The Death of the Incredible Hulk 1990

As is usually the case, life tends to get in the way of plans. And while I was planning on moving on into some comic book adaptations that weren’t superhero movies, I have yet to watch any of those. And instead, I ended up watching this made for TV pseudo series finale for the old Incredible Hulk TV show with Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno for the return of Filmwhys here in a week or two. This film falls in a really weird space in time. It came out the year after Tim Burton’s Batman, but since it was still tied into the television series it retained all of the 70’s and 80’s style of special effects which make it look a lot more dated than a 1990 movie should look. And even though I haven’t watched the original episodes of the show, it really felt like just an extended episode with a tacked on ending to give it some finality.
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Filmwhys Extra #24 Constantine Season 1

Filmwhys Extra #24 discussing the first season of NBC’s Constantine with web author Stefan Gagne from StefanGagne.com. We talk a little bit about the comic book origins, the Keanu Reeves movie, and the possibility for a season 2. Also, a quick note that the Filmwhys archives have been updated with all of the older episodes through #40, and split up into multiple pages as well so you don’t have to scroll through 40+ poster images to find the episode you’re looking for. The Extra episodes will be updated probably next weekend.
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