Screenwriting advice that The Batman script rumour made clear – scripts need good endings.

Some rumours about the film, The Batman, from Warner Bros. and DC entertainment turned up online today in a Forbes article by writer and screenwriter Mark Hughes. The essence of the rumour can be distilled to this: the script for The Batman will be discarded and rewritten. The rumour was later thrown out as completely false. Regardless, the grain of information existing behind all this is screenwriting remains important. This post is a short summary of screenwriting advice from John August and Craig Mazin, from an article by screenwriter Christoper Boone.

Screenwriting is a priority to Super-hero films. The script needs to condense backstory, super abilities, and a supporting cast. Cement these features with witty dialog, and the script might work out. At least, that is how the process looks from the outside.

One of the key reasons to have a script is to show a character moving from one place in their life to (here’s hoping) a better place.

Following the advice of Screenwriters John August and Craig Mazin of the Scriptnotes podcast (reported by Christoper Boone at nofilmschool.com), screenplays must build to a solid ending.

If you think about any movie that you see in the theater, hopefully you’re enjoying how it starts, hopefully you’re enjoying how the ride goes along, but your real impression of the movie was how it ended. – John August, Scriptnotes podcast.

Other Screenwriting advice the pair spoke on:

  • Characters must achieve something important by the end of the film that they wanted, or were not aware that they needed.
  • Endings capture something about the beginning of the film – the structures reflect each other.
  • Reviewing, and re-editing the last pages of the script are just as important as making sure the opening grabs the audience.

You can read the report on the podcast at nofilmschool.com. Mark Hugh’s article is available at Forbes.com.

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Batman #49 Review and Insights

There is a lot to describe here, so I’ve selected some insights into the comic’s artwork and character conflicts, and unpacked a few of them. A spoiler warning for anyone not caught up on the latest story arc.

Batman #49 uses interesting visual metaphors of trauma and darkness to depict Bruce’s journey down into the Batcave, and the potential return of the Dark Knight.

Batman #49 Cover Art

  • A stark Batman shadow fills half the cover
  • Bruce Wayne himself is in pain
  • This shadow is the cause of his pain.
  • The shadow used on the right of the cover balances
    the composition.
  • The amber light, like a fire, draws the eye toward Bruce

With one hand touching his head in anguish, and the other grasping at the air like a claw, Bruce is in pain, struggling with the trauma of becoming The Batman again. This trauma plays out during the issue.

Artwork

  • There is significant anguish on the faces of Alfred, Julie, and Bruce throughout
  • Different and unique versions of Gotham appear
  • White and blue colours appear throughout the comic alongside heavily inked shadows
  • The trauma of becoming The Batman is represented by a huge, fiery red beast attacking a clean and ideal city

This issue marks part nine of the Super Heavy story arc.  On multiple other worlds, Batmen are dying. On one of these worlds, Bruce Wayne protects the city alongside the Council of Owls. This cleaned up and reformed Court of Owls uses an army of Talon’s. Bruce himself has employed teams of engineers and custodians to help run an organised and brightly lit Batcave.

Character Conflicts

  • Alfred deeply desires Bruce stay as he is – kind, unsophisticated, partnered, and happy
  • Bruce wants the truth, and to confront his trauma, descending into the Batcave to activate a memory machine
  • Julie Madison realises she must be the one to terminate the bearded Bruce, and return The Batman to life.
  • There is a shocking revelation about Julie’s parents

The large science fiction item of this story is the memory machine. This item has appeared before – a device that ensures The Batman lives on. It sends electrical surges around the Batcave when it activates.

In this case, Bruce can use the machine to return The Batman to life through him. There is a cost, however. The trauma, the shadow of the Batman, is powerful, and could kill him. Without Julie Madison’s intervention, it almost does exactly that.

Insights

My understanding of the story here, is that the scenes of an ideal Gotham are what Batman imagines he could be if he merged his current calm outlook with the Batman’s shadows. Unfortunately, they are completely incompatible.

The Batman is far to heavy a weight on the mind to bear. That is clear from the character’s stress, the dark cover, and metaphor in the artwork – the ideal Batman suits up with the Bat crew, and tries to save the white and clean Gotham. A red and black beast destroys this city however. A visual representation of Batman’s darkness and shadows.

An endless series of Batmen cloned from Bruce is a regimented and well-ordered version of Superman’s Bizzaro.

Bringing a monster to life with a machine and surges of electricity ties back to Frankenstein.

The idea that Bruce must terminate his softer civilian persona to return to the super heroic identity also lines up with The Doctor’s experiences in the Doctor Who episodes Human Nature and The Family of Blood.

http://vignette4.wikia.nocookie.net/marvel_dc/images/a/a3/Batman_Vol_2_49.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20160210183552

Published by DC comics

Earth 2: Society #2

Top 5 Moments in Earth 2: Society #2

  • The unexpected return of Wesley Dodds and the Sandmen, giving their teleporting skills to help protect the survivors of Earth 2 from a new villain.
  • An attack on TSS Overwatch one: Terry Sloan, Sonia Sato, and Wesley Dodds escape the ships own defense systems, which fires bright, burning lasers and tries to self-destruct with the team still inside.
  • The Batman of Earth 2 – Dick Grayson in a yellow and purple batsuit – recruits cyborg bats to help him scan a network of tunnels.
  • The Flash, Huntress, Red Arrow, Mr.Terrific, and Jimmy Olsen, heroes from Earth 2, are back to protect the fledgling society.
  • Artwork of each ship in Earth 2’s flotilla of spaceships landing on their new planet shows off how each hero savrd their people from crashing, guiding the ships from the atmosphere to the surface.

The conflict between Terry Sloan and Batman – Dick Grayson – makes up the core of this comic book.

Terry Sloan versus Batman plays out as the key conflict. Batman believes Sloan crashed the flotilla deliberately. Sloan knows a new metahuman working in secret caused the crash. Without evidence, Batman pursues Sloan. Arresting this man for his crime occupies Batman’s attitude and thoughts completely.  Earth 2: Society #2 revolves around this core storytelling point.

Huntress is motivated to save an item stolen from Wayne Enterprises. She has lost her father – Bruce Wayne – and her old planet. She wants to reclaim her lost home.

Sloan stole a valuable piece of Wayne Enterprises technology. Huntress wants it back. She’s the last living Wayne. It’s a box that has enough power to terraform a planet, but to her, it’s a part of her identity. Any piece of her past is valuable. She left Earth 2 after losing her father when Darkseid launched a final attack. This story was told in Huntress and Power Girl. Her desire to rebuild a life back home is strong and sharp from these repeated losses.

Terry Sloan has good intentions in trying to rebuild Earth 2 instantly. But what about the life that currently lives on the new planet they found? Sloan’s actions brings out this line of questioning: what happens to the current culture of a world once a new culture builds a colony?

Sloan plans to wipe out this new world they have found using the terraforming box. It can copy all life from one planet, and rebuild that copy on a new planet. Instantly, Sloan can rebuild Earth 2. There’s a brief message in all this action. The Earth 2 survivors have come to a new world. Colonization is their goal. What happens to the preexisting life on this new world? The comic poses this question through Sloan’s actions. He modifies J Robert Oppenheimer’s words, saying “I have become life, builder of worlds”.

Earth 2: Society #2 is published by DC Comics. Writer – Daniel H Wilson. Artist – Jorge Jiminez. Colourists – John Rauch and Andrew Dalhouse. Letterer – Travis Lanham. ($2.99 USD) Published July 8 2015.

We are Robin #1 – Comic Review

Duke Thomas and a team of new Robins recruit their skills to help clean Gotham, and bring back some justice in the aftermath of Batman: EndgameWe are Robin #1 offers:

  • Strong lettering and colour choices
  • New and returning characters from Gotham City
  • Themes of clean versus dirty spaces, mortality, and class

Standout colouring and lettering choices are effective in bringing out the voice of We are Robin #1 and creating an immersive Gotham City. The new team of Robins arrive in a dynamic moment.

Lettering and text choices stand out effectively from the background, with black and yellow. The colour choices for the font bring the letters forward. Combined with the short and to-the-point voice of the title character, getting immersed in the comic happens quickly. Gotham City feels tangible and solid in this comic.

Artwork for Gotham’s streets, alleys, fire escapes, and sewers is typically coloured brown and asphalt grey. Bright and selective costume choices stand out from these dreary shades. Colour choices are consistent with the other depictions of Gotham City in other Batman related comic books.

Another strong moment in the artwork has a team of Robin’s arrive to help Duke Thomas – the viewpoint character.

They are ragtag, and are dressed in various street clothes and sports equipment coloured in red, yellow, and green to match the colours of Robin’s costume. Similar to The Movement, also from DC comics, the youth of Gotham with the skills to make a difference take a stand. Dynamic action marks their first appearance here in We are Robin #1.

Duke Thomas and Doctor Leslie Thompkins think about mortality and responsibility. In the aftermath of Batman: Endgame, several new characters form a team of Robins, and consider Duke Thomas for recruitment.

To the characters of We are Robin #1, mortality and responsibility are at the front of their minds. Duke Thomas has a shifting view of mortality. It changes based on the situation. In a fight at school, addiction to the adrenaline, and how close that pushes him to mortal danger is at the front of his mind. Heights are a fear of his. He makes another comment about mortality when faced with jumping down a fire escape. What he fears more is loss of identity, and the threat that his missing parents might forget who they are, and what they value.

Doctor Leslie Thompkins speaks across to Duke. Despite an age difference, she does not talk down to him. Doctor Thompkins asks Duke to take responsibility for himself, and stop alternatively fighting while searching for his parents. Duke regrets going against her plans. Clearly, she inspired some respect by being
forthright with him, and not patronising.

Ultimately, Duke takes responsibility in hunting for his parents. He comments on how The Batman has bailed on Gotham. Another loss from the aftermath of Batman: Endgame was the disappearance of The Batman and Bruce Wayne.

A range of themes are brought up overall: mortality, class, and clean versus dirty spaces. Cleaning up Gotham seems to be a priority for the Robins. If Duke joined them, he would find a way to act on his values and motivations.

The comic addresses mortality through Duke Thompson, and class from the villain of the comic, who arrives later in the story, and talks about how the attacking symbols of Gotham’s opulence. Clean versus dirty spaces and behaviour is also brought up by Duke Thomas: there is some inconsistency to Duke’s character. A gap between the values he wants to live up to, and the actions that support those values. In this instance, he respects his mothers values of clean speaking, eating, and living. Despite this, he refuses to clean a bathroom, and begins to use slang, what he calls imprecise language. It’s something we all strive for – to step up and take action on the values we uphold.

Robin is an identity Duke Thomas can use to take action. The Robins use precise language. Duke would be on his way to living his values if he joined them.

We are Robin #1 is published by DC Entertainment ($3.99 USD) Lee Bermejo (Story). Jorge Corona and Khary Randolph (Art.) Rob Haynes (Breakdowns). Trish Mulvihill and Emilio Lopez (Colours). Jared K Fletcher (Lettering). Cover artwork by Lee Bermejo.

Gotham Academy #7 – Comic Review

Maps Mizoguchi swings over Gotham Academy campus, and sorts through tough gothic literature and dark magic.Gotham Academy #7 tells a mystery story about magical artefacts and scientific acumen.

Gotham Academy #7 offers:

  • Expressive, bright, and vibrant artwork that balances light and shade
  • A mystery with high stakes to solve
  • Themes of magic versus science

The comic builds a gothic world with expressive and vibrant characters, and a strong sense of light and shade that highlights or mutes characters and actions. Artwork also creates some humorous scenes involving a grappling gun.

Quotes from Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven build a suitable gothic setting, alongside artwork depicting The Batman standing on the parapets of a Gothic castle – specifically a Scottish castle in a place called Inishtree.

Characters who inhabit the gothic setting of Gotham Academy have highly expressive and vibrant faces. The artwork has a strong sense of light and shade, which it recruits to mute or highlight actions and objects.

Maps reacts romantically to using a grappling gun. Damian Wayne carries the abseiling and climibing device with him. The pair make use of Batman Inc. technology to make an escape across the academy campus. When she sees the grappling gun, the panel changes dramatically. Maps is a prince, and the grapple gun draped in a wedding veil and pearls. It’s an overly exaggerated, romantic reaction to the technology. Soft, pink colours contrast with the black, mechanical shape of the gun. An unusual and hilarious scene.

There’s a mystery to solve, which has high stakes, and helpful and unhelpful teachers. Damian Wayne adds weight to the comic, while Maps leads the way.

Damian Wayne and Maps Mizoguchi become attached to each other. Literally, their hands become bound together by some unseen, magical force. Solving the mystery of why their hands are tied becomes the narrative force. There’s a lot at stake here. What cold be worse than magically holding hands with the new boy at high school?

While they recruit the help of the experienced teacher, Professor Macpherson, a less helpful teacher named “Mr.Scarlet” enjoys having power over students. He is smug and delighted to have found a student not paying attention. For a man who says that “books are very delicate creatures”, it’s unusual for him to slam a copy of Edgar Allan Poe’s poetry onto Maps’ desk with such force.

The character clearly has no problems in being inauthentic and lying if it means he can control or take advantage of others. Damian Wayne comments that the inauthentic “Mr.Scarlet” is teaching useless drivel to the class. An indictment from Robin holds weight.

Science and magic themes appear here, and different explanations – both scientific and magical – are brought up to explain what the Inishtree Quill is, and how it affects reality off the page.

There is a constant back and forth between scientific information and magical lore. The comic plays out a science and magic theme, similar to how other DC comics have explored a sorcery versus technology theme.

The big discussion involves the use of a specific quill – the Inishtree quill. The feather seems to come from an enchanted bird. Writing with the quill casts spells, causing the writers thoughts to become somewhat real. Another explanation is that the quill contains a specific train of avian flu native to the British isles, and the quill has infected several students of Gotham Academy.

The large question remains afterward – is the quill magic?

The reason that Maps’ and Damian are magically tied to together appears to be Maps writing “Maps Mizoguchi + Damian Wayne” in her notebook with the Inishtree Quill. When the note Maps wrote is crossed out, their hands are untied. This resembles the magical item Deathnote from the anime and manga of the same name, where writing names in the Deathnote itself could affect reality, and prove fatal. Mr. Scarlet says that Maps made a choice, and clung to Damian like a limpet on a rock. We know, however, that Mr.Scarlet is not credible.

Maps may have more challenges approaching, as a message from Professor Macpherson ends the comic book on a cliffhanger.


Gotham Academy #7 is published by DC Entertainment ($2.99USD). Becky Cloonan and Brenden Fletcher (W.) Mingjue Helen Chen (A.) Steve Wands (L.) Cover artwork by Becky Cloonan.

Wallflyer Blog Roll – Writing for March 25, 2015

This week, under a growing tide of work events, and a training course in Linux – combined with my comic book store not receiving their weekly shipment of comics, manga, and graphic novels – I don’t have a review on a recently published comic this week.

In the future, if circumstances get prevent writing a weekly post, I have plans to publish a different article, that dives into a popular culture franchise or character for analysis. At the moment, I have incomplete drafts that I don’t think are ready to publish on Wallflyer.

While this is unfortunate, the time available today is a good opportunity to promote other blogger’s work – their writing about comics and popular culture this week. A blog roll of popular culture reviews and writing for the week of March 25, 2015:

Jaythreadbear has collected together thoughts and ideas on comics published, and television episodes aired, this week. In particular, the insight into television airing this week were great to see: iZombie, Walking Dead, and The Flash is great to see.

At the The Good Kind of Geek, there’s a good collection of short form reviews for a series of popular comics released this week. They include the long-running manga series One Piece in their review collection for this week.

GothamRogue has captured a strong series of cosplay photography. Cosplay runway features cosplay of comic book characters each week. This week, the cosplay covered are Poison Ivy, Gambit & Rogue, Phoenix, Ronan, and Spider-Gwen.

Sci-Fi Jubilee has written a great review of Batman Eternal #51, which is the second last instalment in the year long series starring The Batman. It’s great to read the character exploration, particularly in Bluebird, Spoiler, and Catwoman.

Outright Geekery has a thorough and well curated collection of cover artwork for published this week – March 26, 2015. The cover for Wayward #6 in particular has some impressive art choices with forced perspective and a dark turn on a lively setting.

Batman Eternal #42 – Comic Review

Bluebird arrives in the latest, weekly instalment of the epic Batman Eternal story arc.Batman Eternal #42 offers:

  • Artwork with good use of body language and perspective
  • Contrast between two character to raise themes of control and Agency
  • References to Alice in Wonderland, a classic story featuring a female protagonist

This review contains minor character spoilers for Batman Eternal #42

The moment where the story shifts gear is captured when Harper Row dons a new hat. Body language and perspective contrast Harper Row and Stephanie Brown.

A powerful moment in the artwork takes place at a key turning point in the narrative. Harper Row dons the Mad Hatter’s green hat, taking his power away, and taking control of the army of slaves that he has under his thrall. A full page is devoted to Harper Row – now using the identity BlueBird – striking a pose, while tipping her newly own hat. She faces the reader,
tipping her hat, probably as a greeting gesture, since this is the first time she is using her new identity.

The artwork also contrasts Harper Row and Stephanie Brown. Row leaps onto the rooftop of the Mad Hatters Headquarters. Brown wakes up in a pristine bedroom.

Stephanie Brown’s house is eerily clean. The washed out peach light spread across the panels adds an unnerving tone to all the scenes where she interacts with her mother.

The body language drawn into the comic establishes themes of control. Harper row is confident, and snatches control from the Mad Hatter. Stephanie is drawn with forced perspective to appear smaller than the other characters around her.

Harper Row as Bluebird, and Selina Kyle as the new Kingpin – Queen – of crime both
have strong moments. Bluebird informs Red Robin it’s laughable that he could influence her: she choses when to act, and when not to.

Harper Row debut’s her new identity: Bluebird. This debut marks a turning point for the character, and ties into a plot point woven into the New 52 Batman storytelling back in Batman #28, which contained a small flash forward into the storyline of Batman Eternal. With this issue, the storytelling connects and catches up with those events.

The comic also explains how the Catwoman captured Stephanie Brown, and held her hostage. Selina Kyle appears in this issue to take Brown prisoner.

Red Robin also has a discussion with Bluebird about how much influence he had on her decision to act against the Mad Hatter’s plans. She says it is laughable that he influenced her: she chose to act, and makes her own decisions. Again, Harper Row takes control, and shows agency.

Themes of control are brought out in The Mad Hatter’s plan, and through contrasting
Row and Brown. With reference to Alice in Wonderland, the comic explores female protagonists with agency. It is likely Stephanie Brown will follow Harper Row, and similar build her own identity to reclaim control.

There’s a theme of control here. Including the Mad Hatter as the villain also adds an over-arching Alice in Wonderland theme to the storytelling.

Considering Brown is literally smothered by Catwoman‘s knockout chemical (soaked into a rag), and Harper Row takes the Hatter’s hat, and wears it herself, the contrast highlights the power of decision making, agency, and taking control. These two characters are opposites in this issue: one is empowered by her actions, and breaks out into a new identity. The other is controlled, and held down.

Catwoman’s role in the comic adds somewhat to the Alice in Wonderland theme. The super thief recently became a kingpin of crime – a queen of crime. It’s fits the theme that a Queen-like character would feature prominently. Particularly as an obstacle for Stephanie Brown to eventually overcome as a character who resembles Alice.

Harper Row seizes control, while Stephanie Brown is controlled by others. Further, adding a references to Alice in Wonderland explores storytelling with female protagonists.

It is likely that by contrasting Brown and Row, that Stephanie Brown will soon follow Harper Row in breaking out into her own new identity where she can retake control and agency.

Batman Eternal #42 is published by DC comics ($2.99 USD). Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV (Story.) Kyle Higgins (Script.)
Ray Fawkes and Tim Seely (C.W.) Jed Dougherty, Goran Sudzuka, Roger Robinson (A.) Lee Loughridge (C.) Steve Wands (L.)
Cover artwork by Reis, Prado, and Moon.