Jared Leto's Joker Has Tattoos....SO WHAT!?

By Kevin J. Kessler

We've all seen Jared Leto as The Joker by now. The below image was released to celebrate the character's 75th anniversary in comics, and to say that it caused some controversy would be QUITE the understatement . 

But why did the fandom universe have such a visceral reaction to this never before seen, inked up version of one of the most iconic characters of all time? Let's take a look-see. 

There you have it. Pretty different, huh? No wonder comic book fans reacted as they did. This is a rather extreme departure from the days of Jack Nicholson, or the much beloved Heath Ledger. Different indeed....But to that, I pose the question, is different such a bad thing??? 

There's no denying Nicholson's Joker was iconic. For many of us, he was our first Joker. But I have always held true to the belief that while he's playing an excellent character, he's not playing THE JOKER as the character is classically portrayed in the comic books.

Heeeeeeeeeere's Joker!

Heeeeeeeeeere's Joker!

Jack was a gangster. Albeit a deformed gangster with a penchant for laughter, but he was a gangster none the less. He was a crook, a criminal, a common hood (pun intended for you comic fans!). Did he murder anyone just because it was funny? Nope. Everything had an element of crime to it. 

No let's look at Heath. I'm going to take the unpopular opinion on this one and say that Heath Ledger was not a strong Joker. He was PHENOMENAL at playing the face painted scarred terrorist written for him in this film; but he is not The Joker.

Why so serious? SMILE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!!!!

Why so serious? SMILE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!!!!

He's an anarchist for sure. He's a deranged psycho killer who wants to prove that everyone is just like him under the flesh masks they wear every day. It's a remarkable concept and character. But it isn't The Joker. Heath wasn't Joker because he found nothing FUNNY. That's the whole spirit of the character. He finds EVERYTHING funny. Everything is a joke to him. Murder, blood, death, it all gives him a case of the yuck-yucks.

So, with that being said, no one as of yet has combined that perfect amount of crazy, sadism, and humor. Who is to say that under all of those tattoos, that isn't Jared Leto? But we will get to what lies beneath in a moment. For now, Let's examine some of the physical features everyone seems to hate. 

The Tear Drop: On Joker's cheek, there seems to be a tear drop in the shape of the letter J. In the criminal world, one brands themselves with a tear drop when they've committed a murder. I'm sure Joker has taken MANY lives at this point, so what one death could have been so poignant that it merits this display of body art? Well for that, I give you....

The Robin's Wing: On Joker's right arm, we can see what appears to be a Robin's wing. This can mean one very important thing. This is a Joker who has killed Robin. Specifically, if we're going by comic book lore here, Jason Todd, the second Robin. That's one of The Joker's crowning achievements. Of course he remembers it fondly, and brands it onto his flesh permanently.

Chest Tattoos: Ok, yes, they're a little one the nose. The HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA's drawn all over his left pectoral and the Jester skull on his right are reminiscent of something a fan-boy might have done on himself to show that he is a Joker fan. But to that point I raise, who is a bigger Joker fan than THE JOKER himself!? He's the ultimate narcissist, plastering his face on EVERYTHING from vehicles to weaponry, to his various abandoned lairs throughout the years! He believes his own hype. That being said, how often will you see him with his shirt off? These don't really matter as much. 

"Damaged": Ok, this is the one I'm with you guys on. The cursive "Damaged" written across his forehead is a little odd. First of all, nobody this side of Mike Tyson can really pull off a full out face tattoo anymore. But my main problem stems from the fact that Joker would NEVER see himself as Damaged. To him, he's the normal one and we're all just uptight morons who don't get his humor. So this one, to me, seems a bit out of place. Unless of course it's meant to mock us all. "You think I'm damaged? Let me show you how much your labels mean to me!" Actually, by putting that spin on it, I kinda like it! 

The Grill: This is far and away my favorite aspect of Leto's Joker appearance. People need to chill about this. He doesn't have a grill because he's a thug! He has a grill because BATMAN PUNCHED HIS TEETH OUT OF HIS STUPID FACE IN THE NAME OF JUSTICE! Seriously, one of my favorite shots in any Batman/Joker comic is when Batman beats Justice into his arch enemy's face, usually knocking teeth out. Yet he always has teeth again next time we see him! How is this possible? HE GETS FAKE METAL TEETH! It's perfect. Honestly I'm shocked the comics have never used that concept as a design. It gives his smile (the most important aspect of the Joker, which Ledger never did) a more unnatural and terrifying appearance. I freaking love it. And, If Batman punched out his teeth post Jason Todd murdering, OR even the paralysis of Barbara Gordon, then all the better! 

The Eyes: Ok so there lies the physical, but to me, as I've stated on Geek WatchTower MANY times, the costume or appearance doesn't mean as much to me as the EYES of a character. When I look into Jared Leto's eyes in this photo, I see perfect absolute nothingness. I see a sociopath. I see the mania that has been missing from the eyes of all Jokers who came before him. He gets this role. You can tell. And if you were lucky enough to see the leaked set videos which showcase his conversation with Harleen Quinzell, you'll see he has the mannerisms down perfectly as well. He has a flair for the dramatic. Broad arm gestures are the name of this game!

Ledger's Joker was very quiet and terrifying in his awkwardness. Nicholson chewed the scenery to shreds (which works in that movie!). But the Joker is theatrical. He is LOUD. He is OVERBEARING. And judging by what I see, this may be just that!

Just remember one thing before you all judge. Everyone hated the idea of Downey Junior as Iron Man. Everyone hated Heath Ledger being cast as The Joker. Everyone hated Chris Evans being cast as Captain America. But didn't they all work out fine? 

When Suicide Squad releases, I will be there opening night with BELLS on! (not literally) And once we see what Mr. Leto has in store for us as the new clown prince of crime, I will be there to say it. "I informed you, thusly!" 

The Booth Window - 'Tomorrowland' Review


By Chris Pribilski

I’ve been a movie theatre manager for a while now, and one of the perks is the early screenings.  Studios don’t do it for all features, but for most they’ll offer an early screening of a movie for booking agents to attend.  The process has gone through many changes over the years, but I still get the invites, and I’ve never had to sign a disclosure agreement, so let me tell you what I thought without spoiling anything!

Screening time!  Let’s look at Disney’s Tomorrowland!

**Any plot points that I allude to or flat out tell you can be gotten from the Tomorrowland trailers.  NO SPOILERS!!**

Pre-2003:  “A movie based on an attraction at a Disney theme park?  That’ll never work.”

Then comes along a little movie called “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.”  Yeah, it kinda did work; enough so that the fifth installment of the series is slated for a July 4th weekend release in 2017.  Now we have to ask can they do the same thing based on a Disney theme park “land.”  Well, I think they can.

It’s not just because of the “PG” rating widening the potential viewing audience either.  While “Tomorrowland” is geared more towards kids than “Pirates” was it has just as much if not more family appeal.  The movie stars Britt Robertson as high-school girl Casey Newton, an imaginative young lady who “knows how stuff works.”  Co-starring is George Clooney as Frank Walker, a “kid-genius-now-grumpy-old-guy.”  Brad Bird directs and co-writes with “Lost” writer/co-creator Damon Lindelof, both of whom I think are fun, imaginative storytellers. 

Will “Tomorrowland” be the huge phenomenon that “Pirates” was?  Probably not.  I thought it was a great flick, a really fun movie, but I don’t see how it could be made into a film franchise.  As a theatre manager I walked away from “Pirates” thinking “Wow, this is definitely going to get a sequel and make us some money!”  With “Tomorrowland” I’m thinking “That’s going to make us some money over Memorial Day weekend.”  I’m not saying it can’t be done, and heaven knows if the movie does well at the box office they’ll make a sequel, but if they do I see a sequel being more like “Return from Witch Mountain” was to “Escape to Witch Mountain.”

YouTube has some wonderful shorts from the 2014 New York Comic Con in which Brad Bird and company speak about the movie.  While Clooney got most of the attention due to it being his first Con, you can tell that the cast got along very well and seemed happy to be back together to talk about the movie.  All cast members talk about how everyone took the project seriously and put their best into the movie.

As the movie started I was immediately skeptical; we start with Clooney as the narrator, a film writing tactic that can be done well (Fight Club, Shawshank Redemption), but also can be a sign of poor editing or a distrust of an audience to let the narrative play out in the story.  Thankfully my concerns were unfounded and the use of opening narration worked; it actually ended up demonstrating within the first few minutes the essential qualities of our two main protagonists.  No worries, it’s not “Iron Man 3.”

When we start it is indeed a great big beautiful tomorrow as a young Frank Walker attempts to submit an invention at the 1964 World’s Fair.  I remember images of 1964 Disneyland circling around the internet a few months ago (of course now I can’t find them), and now I know why.  This brought about my next worry: will this be just a giant commercial for the Disney Parks?  As much as I’ve developed into a Disney nerd since having kids, I like my movies to tell a story, not sell a product. Thankfully my worries were again unfounded and I got to geek out a little bit seeing Space Mountain and other Disney landmarks.  I also loved how Disney technology was used in the film; in fact, it plays a crucial part.  And while I’m avoiding spoilers I will say this: no one seeing this movie will ever ride the “Small World” attraction the same way again. 

It’s at this time we meet another very important protagonist, played by the very talented Raffey Cassidy; however, I’m hesitant to tell you anything about her involvement in the story.  After re-watching the trailers it’s clear that Disney is intentionally leaving the character out of promotion.  Why?  I think it’s because her character changes the promotional focus of the movie.  Disney is relying heavily on Clooney to draw people to this movie and is centering your expectations of the film on his character.  Don’t get me wrong, he is an essential part of the plot, but after the intro he’s not in the first third of the movie.  They even added Clooney dialogue to the trailers that wasn’t in the final cut; in fact, I think the actual lines come from Cassidy’s character.  It’s a shame; she has a crucial part to play.  She drives the story throughout the entire movie and the acting job is wonderful.  I wish Disney would have had more confidence in the movie to forgo these changes, but I guess when you’re dealing with a multi-million dollar investment you want to put your strongest player in the spotlight.

After this flashback introduction we cut to the present day.  We’re introduced to Casey Newton’s world.  Important to her story is the constant bombardment from school and the media regarding the dire situation the world is in.  It is through this negative media attention that we discover a critical trait to Casey’s character: her need and desire to solve the problem, any problem, no matter what its scope.  She truly believes that any action, no matter how small, can make a difference.  It is this trait, this hope and confidence in herself and humanity in general that attracts Walker and company to her, ultimately leading to Walker aiding Casey in her attempt to get to Tomorrowland.

The journey to Walker is perilous, with unseen dangers and wonderful cameos by Keegan-Michael Key and Kathryn Hahn, along with some heavy Star Wars and other memorable sci-fi influences.  Once Casey’s goal is in sight nothing will sway her from it, and when Walker joins the cause things just get more and more dangerous.  Eventually through some washing-machine-type of transportation and the aid of some of Tomorrowland’s founders (I immediately thought of the classic “Timekeeper” attraction; after you see the flick watch it on YouTube and you’ll get what I’m talking about), we get to Tomorrowland and adventure ensues.

It is here that I’ll stop and let you discover the rest of the plot for yourself.  Hugh Laurie does a great job with his monologue and we see his character as a “shade of grey,” a man that meant well but in the end did not have within him the same hope that Casey does.  While I think some will argue or complain this is a certain “type” of film that got “preachy,” I think everything made sense and was built up within the story.  I didn’t feel there were any curve-balls here that changed the voice of the story.  It was a fun ride.

I thought the acting was strong and that the cast had good chemistry.  Clooney’s grumpy and Robertson’s ever-the-optimist characters never got to the point where they were annoying.  While there were obvious “blockbuster-cliché” moments, our director and writers got you wrapped up in the story and made you care enough about the characters that whatever flaws I found I forgave pretty easily.  The movie was not “Clooney-heavy;” Brad Bird and company balance their talent well, using all to advance the story more than anyone’s career.  Stardom was not milked here, the story remained the focus. 

This is definitely an effects movie and it certainly does not disappoint.  There are less CG “hiccups” than in “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” and the practical effects blended seamlessly.  Cinematography was great, though it was probably almost completely digital; pretty easy to get a great shot when you can make it look however you want in post.  While I’m sure the same comparison to the Apple Store can be made as was made in the “Star Trek” reboot, the locations and set design perfectly matched my expectations.  What was really nice was that unlike the Star Wars prequels in which Lucas used the movie to show off the technology, this film used the technology to tell the story.  I was honestly surprised that this wasn’t made to be a 3D movie.  IMAX was nice, but I never feel is worth the extra price tag.  Just sit closer to the screen in a normal theatre.

I have to tell you, as I watched this movie there were several times I caught myself smiling thinking “wow, they pulled it off, this is a good movie.”  I’m really excited to take my daughter to see it and to try to catch new things that I missed the first time around.  I think you’ll like “Tomorrowland;” even people not into sci-fi movies should at least like the action scenes and awesome visuals.  Do yourself a favor, don’t wait to rent, see it on the big screen!

Incidentally, in my research I found that Brad Bird put out a link on his Twitter feed of a teaser trailer for “Tomorrowland” called “The Origins of Plus Ultra.”  It’s an unlisted video on YouTube, so you’ll have to go to his Twitter feed to get the link.  It’s a four-minute short that gives some backstory on the movie of “Tomorrowland.”  It doesn’t ruin anything and gives some perspective into the movie; however, it technically is a spoiler, so I leave it up to you to decide whether you want to watch it or not.

** As you will forever hear me say, please, please watch the movie at an independent/local movie chain if you can, and be sure to buy SOMETHING from the concessions.  I know concessions are expensive, but the building doesn’t make much money off the tickets.  If you like the theatre you go to, support them by buying at least a small popcorn, that alone will be a huge help.  Sneak the rest of your stuff in ;).**

The Booth Window - Mad Max Review


By Chris Pribilski

I’ve been a movie theatre manager for a while now, and one of the perks is the early screenings.  Studios don’t do it for all features, but for most they’ll offer an early screening of a movie for booking agents to attend.  The process has gone through many changes over the years, but I still get the invites, and I’ve never had to sign a disclosure agreement, so let me tell you what I thought without spoiling anything!

Screening time!  Watching Mad Max: Fury Road!

**Any plot points that I allude to or flat out tell you can be gotten from the previous Mad Max movies, shorts, and the various trailers.  NO SPOILERS!!**

Back in the 80s TV was VERY different than it is now.  Our neighborhood was one of the last to get cable, so we were limited to three or four channels; more if we could ornately attach enough metal to the TV antenna.  Our TV remote was the youngest sibling, and that old tube TV also functioned as a space heater. 

Our grandfather’s neighborhood was the first to get cable, so we saw all kinds of new television there that we couldn’t get at home.  While we got our share of the USA Cartoon Express and Fraggle Rock, Grandpa preferred the dusty westerns of John Wayne and Clint Eastwood. It was in those days that I had last seen a Mad Max movie.  I had memories of a post-apocalyptic world full of shoulder pads, Mohawks, and car chases.  I had NO idea what I was watching, but it was filled with fast-paced action and some mean, mean people.  The fact that I still remembered iconic scenes and characters from the franchise says something about the successful storytelling of George Miller, the writer, director, and producer of those movies. 

When I heard about this screening I was pretty excited.  This was the type of movie that needed to be rebooted!  Think of how cool the visuals could be with new computer and practical effect techniques!  We’re going back to an “R” rating, not the PG13 that “Beyond Thunderdome” was?  On top of that George Miller is at the helm?  SHWEET!  

I’m happy to say that this film will not disappoint.  This was the first time I’ve been to a screening that played a disclaimer at the front of it, so technically I’m not allowed to discuss the movie.  

They’re even waiting until Thursday, May 14th to have the world premiere.  That’s only hours before theatres are permitted to start early screenings, the official release being the following day.  You’ll notice there are no official reviews on Rotten Tomatoes.  Warner Bros. is also very quiet about potential sequels, but according to an Esquire interview last March, Hardy is attached to do three more Mad Max films.  Still, as is with all franchises, subsequent Mad Max films will depend on the success of “Mad Max: Fury Road.”  Since I also try to be a spoiler-free as possible, I will once again limit my review to what can be gleamed from trailers and those plot-lines that have already been released.

Who knew Lizards were so tasty?

Who knew Lizards were so tasty?

The story seems to take place after the first “Mad Max” film and sometime before “Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior.”  Max still has the "last of the V8 interceptors,” and [20+ year spoiler] that vehicle was destroyed in the second movie.  So this movie isn’t a prequel as much as a “re-booting sequel,” bridging the gap between the first two films.  Max’s voice-over work in the trailer is indicative of the internal struggle he’s having after the events in the first movie and his external struggle to survive.  In a way, this is one of the weaknesses of the film.  The degradation of the social landscape is so intense that is seems like the world’s been like this for a long, long time.  Still, this is a “speed bump” in the film’s storytelling and only raises an eyebrow when trying to incorporate it in the series.  The rewards of a long established apocalyptic landscape make for a wonderfully detailed and imaginative environment with a host of exciting yet disturbing characters.  

You don’t need to watch the previous movies to enjoy this one.  If you’re new to the series Max’s internal struggles may be a bit confusing (they kinda are even if you’ve seen the previous movie), but they don’t take away from the narrative of the story.  If anything they seem justified in this chaotic landscape.  This movie stands on its own very well.  If you enjoy this movie you’ll simply want to watch “Mad Max” to get Max’s backstory.  If you like action movies set in a post-apocalyptic landscape filled with crazy characters, you’ll love this flick. 

In this world it’s all about survival.  Your basic needs have been broken down into an easy three: water, fuel, and ammo.  Those that have these three have control and power among the populace.  Just like in the previous films, Max gets caught up in the chaos around him.  In “The Road Warrior” it was through necessity.  In “Beyond Thunderdome” it was from theft.  In “Fury Road” the stakes are higher and much more dire.  Right out the gate we are thrust into a perilous world with our protagonist and left to wonder just how long our hero will be in this movie.

Not Bane

Not Bane

The trailer sets up the story pretty well.  You got the main bad-dude, Immortan Joe (played by Hugh Keays-Byrne, same guy who played main villain Toecutter in “Mad Max,” how cool is that!?!), a pretty sickly dude with a bad-ass mask (don’t worry, no whiney Bane-voice).  We can see in the trailer that he controls the water in the area, thereby controlling the populace.  Imperator Furiosa, played by a robo-armed Charlize Theron, has stolen something from him, something that based on the images of the five babes in white and the removal of a chastity belt we can determine as being pretty important to big ol’ pasty Joe. 

There’s a bit more backstory provided, showing us the social structure of Immortan Joe’s domain and establishing his place in the Australian wasteland.  All this just serves to show us why, just like in the trailer, the rest of the movie is one long, violent chase scene.  

It’s a really fun movie, the “R” rating earned not so much from gore or language as much as just the sheer intensity and duration of the violence.  As gross as some of it is, there are no scenes of intense gore, no “if you’re gonna to spew, spew into this” moments.  I really appreciated that Miller used as much practical effects as possible, but man that had to have been dangerous.  And let’s face it, any chase movie that incorporates a giant PA system vehicle fronted by a dude with a flaming guitar so that the main villain can have his own chase music is gonna be pretty fun. 

This is meant to be a fun summer popcorn movie with a hint of social commentary.  Treat it as such, for there are a few flaws.  Like I said earlier, the timeline feels a bit skewed.  Not only is it hard to determine where in the timeline Max exactly is, but at times he feels like an inexperienced noob in this world and at others a wily badass.  Maybe that’s supposed to be linked to his conflict with his inner demons; hmm, that warrants a second viewing.

The inner-dialogue-haunting stuff (also shown in the trailer, again, no spoilers) doesn’t feel like it’s resolved very well.  If this movie is indeed meant to link “Mad Max” and “The Road Warrior” together, then we expect that by the end of “Fury Road” Max will get his shit together.  In a way the conflict was resolved, but it felt rather anti-climactic; the build-up was a bit more than the payoff.  Still, at least it was there.

The pacing was O.K.  You can tell Miller took a lot of time with all the action scenes; they flowed very well, but by 10 minutes to go I was starting to get the ol’ porcupine ass.  Story resolution felt a little bit rushed, and there where definitely one or two “C’mon” or “No way” moments, but again, this is a fun summer popcorn movie. Miller’s not making “Midnight Cowboy” here. 

The effects were top notch and the cinematography was beautiful.  You felt like you were there. If you aren’t thirsty by the end of this movie and peeling out of the parking lot on your way home then you were on your phone the whole time and not paying attention to this movie.

See the movie in 3D if you can.  This movie is action, action, action, and the 3D does a good job of enhancing that.  Warner Bros. has a bad track record with 3D, but they keep getting better at it and this is probably their best so far.  There are a few cheese 3D moments, but they are in “appropriate” places.

I hope you have fun!  Sorry I couldn’t tell you more, but really you have all you need to go on, just sit back and enjoy!

** As you will forever hear me say, please, please watch the movie at an independent/local movie chain if you can, and be sure to buy SOMETHING from the concessions.  I know concessions are expensive, but the building doesn’t make much money off the tickets.  If you like the theatre you go to, support them by buying at least a small popcorn, that alone will be a huge help.  Sneak the rest of your stuff in ;).**



By Chris Pribilski

I’ve been a movie theatre manager for a while now, and one of the perks is the early screenings.  Studios don’t do it for all features, but for most they’ll offer an early screening of a movie for booking agents to attend.  The process has gone through many changes over the years, but I still get the invites, and I’ve never had to sign a disclosure agreement, so let me tell you what I thought without spoiling anything!

It’s my first review, and it’s a big one!  Let me tell you about Disney’s AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON!

**Any plot points that I allude to or flat out tell you can be gotten from the previous Marvel movies, TV shows, and the various trailers.  NO SPOILERS!!**

If you’re one or two minutes late to the movie, you’re going to wonder if you got directed to the right auditorium.  Don’t sweat it, you’re where you need to be and you didn’t miss anything. We start right in the middle of an intense action sequence that shows our heroes doing what they do best: kicking butt.  

Apparently over the past few months the team’s been hunting down Baron Strucker, a Hydra villain we saw after the closing credits of “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.”  They’ve been trying to recover the lost object Strucker acquired in that final scene (an object you’ll recognize from the first Avengers flick that also makes an appearance in a trailer) and apparently we’re in the middle of a raid on the Baron’s last stronghold.

This opening film sequence shows off Whedon doing one of the things he does best: balancing individual character screen time in an ensemble film.  We get to see each hero doing their part.  There are one or two occurrences during the battle that seem strange to our heroes, mainly caused by two characters we’ve been anticipating since their appearance in the first teaser trailer.  Since it’s the beginning of the film I don’t think I’m spoiling anything by saying that the Avengers win the battle, acquiring the item they’ve been trying to recover.  Thinking that the war on Hydra is over, all agree a celebration is in order.

Just a head’s up: Stan ‘The Man’ Lee’s cameo is during the Avengers’ celebration, and it’s probably one of my favorites!

As we all know from watching any popcorn action movie, when our heroes are celebrating, that’s when the crap’s about to hit the fan.  If you’ve been following the buzz on this film at all, you know what’s going to happen to lead up to this moment.  If you haven’t been keeping up, let’s just say we’re introduced to our villain: Ultron, an artificial intelligence housed in the body of one of Stark’s “puppets.”  

He makes his presence known to the Avengers, and after breaking a bunch of their stuff, he escapes with the recovered relic to begin his master plan. The rest of the film has Whedon taking us through a standard ensemble hero story; however, he does such a good job with the pacing you’ll never notice the 145 minute run time.  Whedon throws plenty of surprises our way that make us forget for a moment we’re watching a very familiar story.  All the characters are balanced, and each has a significant role to play.  If you still haven’t learned your lesson about canon in these movies, I’ll just tell you to shut up now.  It all works within the universe and is all fun; we really don’t want to listen to your complaining.  It’s not like Greedo is shooting first or anything.

I also liked how Whedon doesn’t treat you like a child when telling this story.  He establishes and references events that have occurred between the two films without adding a ton of unnecessary exposition. Unlike other writer/directors, Whedon does so without making it feel like he’s just throwing information in to make his story work.  Whedon’s just expecting you to pay attention; each second is precious in a movie of this scope and he doesn’t want to waste a moment.  He’s a great storyteller, and everything flows with few hiccups.  Just like with the first Avengers movie, there are points where Whedon pokes fun at the insanity of it all (most notably in a scene between Hawkeye and one of our new characters), but he does so without completely pulling back the curtain.  He’s having fun, and inviting you along for the ride.

The highly anticipated Hulkbuster scene lives up to the hype, and the introduction and inclusion of The Vision, while brief, works within the story (the immediate trust the Avengers have in Vision is handled BRILLIANTLY).  Even though we meet several new characters and have a number of fun cameos, the focus remains on our principal players.  Most of the additions feel like they contribute and aren’t just crammed in to set them up for the next movie (though Marvel die-hards will notice several scenes that serve to set up future movies, all well incorporated).  We also get the first recognition from our characters that there is a much larger threat on the horizon.

Now let’s be real, it’s not a perfect movie.  There are one or two CG scenes that don’t work (riding a Hulk bareback for one).  Unlike the first movie the humor is clunky at times.  Some of the exposition scenes were a little rough or felt forced.  Still, these occurrences are few and far between, and considering how much story is crammed into this movie without losing pacing, action, or character development, the job Whedon did is pretty impressive.  The movie is just fun, plain and simple.  If you like the superhero genre, or even just a good popcorn flick, you’ll like this movie.

Watching the standard 2D version is fine, but I thought the 3D was great and worth the extra price tag.  

IMAX is fun, but not worth the price bump, save your money. You want that experience, just sit closer.

There were a lot of awesome moments and observations I’m dying to share with you (I didn’t see Raphael in the bathtub), but I really don’t want to spoil anything!  I hope you enjoy this movie as much as I did! 

** As you will forever hear me say, please, please watch the movie at an independent/local movie chain if you can, and be sure to buy SOMETHING from the concessions.  I know concessions are expensive, but the building doesn’t make much money off the tickets.  If you like the theatre you go to, support them by buying at least a small popcorn, that alone will be a huge help.  Sneak the rest of your stuff in ;).**

Spider-Man To Officially Enter the Marvel Cinematic Universe!

By Kevin J. Kessler

Well folks, it's officially official! Everyone's favorite web head will be gracing the silver screen once more, but this time, he won't be alone! Yes, the deal has finally been struck, and Peter Parker, the Amazing Spider-Man, will return to movies as a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe!

According to a news article listen on SuperHeroHype.com, listed at http://www.superherohype.com/news/329465-its-official-spider-man-enters-the-marvel-cinematic-universe:

"Under a new deal, a new Spider-Man will first appear in a currently-unspecified Marvel film within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Sony Pictures will thereafter release the next installment of its $4 billion Spider-Man franchise, on July 28, 2017, in a film that will be co-produced by Kevin Feige and his expert team at Marvel and Amy Pascal, who oversaw the franchise launch for the studio 13 years ago. Together, they will collaborate on a new creative direction for the web slinger. Sony Pictures will continue to finance, distribute, own and have final creative control of the Spider-Man films."

I can't even begin to emphasize what a "get" this is for the MCU. As recently reported by my friend and co-host Spider-Denny on a recent episode of WDPN's BatSquad Radio, Spider-Man is the highest grossing super hero in the world today, surpassing his closest rival, Batman, by Spider Strength sized leaps and bounds! 

Now, the MCU, already a titan in the film industry, has this powerhouse hero on its side, in a move that I don't think DC will ever be able to match. In terms of fan impact, I'd dare say this announcement resounds more loudly even than the announcement of Batman vs. Superman. The difference? Fans knew we'd eventually see Batman and Superman together on the big screen. But I know, personally, I never EVER thought we'd see Spidey cross the studio line. 

And the deal holds amazing rewards for EVERYONE. Marvel gets a major pad onto the Avengers, adding into this team the single most popular hero in the world, making an appearance I'd liken to a cinematic miracle. Sony will now clean up, producing Spider-Man stand alone films set in the MCU. When even unknown properties like Guardians of the Galaxy are pulling 700k at the worldwide box office due to its MCU association, what will freaking SPIDER-MAN bring in!? It's an amazing move on both ends, and kudos to both parties for allowing their egos to take a back seat to good business!

I say bravo to both SONY and Disney, and wish them well on this new partnership and endeavor. As a fan, I cannot wait! 

Expect discussion on this exciting topic this week on Geek WatchTower (www.whitedragonpodcastnetwork/com/geekwatchtower) and BatSquad Radio (www.whitedragonpodcastnetwork.com/batsquadradio) 

What are your thoughts on this? How can DC counter? Respond below and let me know!



It Sucks to Be The Batman

By Kevin J. Kessler

The desire to be a super hero is inherent in us all. We daydream of power and promises of justice and a noble cause for which to dedicate our lives. As I sit here trying to drown out the sound of my wife watching Downton Abby, I find my mind pulled back to those school yard arguments over who gets to be which super hero. What always struck me as odd, even at such a young age, was the desire most people have to be Batman. 

Don't get me wrong, Batman is the coolest super hero on the planet, and likely my second favorite, after Superman. The suit, the gadgets, the vehicles, persona, and unparalleled ninja skills make him a truly compelling character, but to actually say "I want to BE Batman" is a curious statement that I believe most people don't actually think through. While Batman, in an of himself, is cool, to actually be him, to live the solitary life of the bat, would be a nightmarish living hell of an existence. 

Batman does not want to be Batman. What he wants, more than anything, is to be Bruce Wayne. If you were Batman, for shy of a decade you lived a carefree life of childlike innocence and exuberance, raised by a loving couple, in the closest thing the United States has to a palace. Anything you wanted was there at your fingertips, but in almost every incarnation of the character, Bruce is never portrayed as a spoiled brat. You are the very definition of youthful joy, with the principles of two good people, who showered you with unconditional love. This paradisiac existence always exists in the back of your mind. It is the life left behind, the life you wish to return to.

Then, once fateful night, that life is ripped from you, suddenly and violently. In one universe defining moment, a shadowy figure steps out, deposited there by the darkness itself, and with two loud bangs, the light and happiness lovingly fostered over a decade is torn from your heart. Now, whenever you close your eyes, you will see the blood and pearls dropping to the pavement, the smell of stale blood and cordite forever stuck in the back of your nose. This dark rebirth ushers in the end of your life, and you begin anew, determined to spare anyone else that gut wrenching pain. But in the back of your head there's always that tug of conscience and self doubt. Is this the avenging actions of a defender of justice? Or is this simply a prolonged tantrum from a demented rich boy, trying to strike back against the world in a fit of revenge?

You spend years enduring the worst torments the darkest corners of Asia can throw at you, honing your body into a living weapon, learning to turn fear against those who pray on the fearful. You return to Gotham, no longer your home, now it is your hunting ground. You spend your evenings hunting down the rapists, murderers, and thieves, every smack of your fist against their faces drudging up the same pain you felt in that alley so many years ago. But still you champion on, fueled by so much anger and pain hidden behind a mask of grim stoicism. 

Then, a new kind of criminal arises from the hellish muck of Gotham's underbelly. Demented cannibalistic monsters, masked menaces that match you, psychotic geniuses....and him...the one who matches you more than any other. The clown, the harlequin of hate, the most demented mad man who has ever walked the face of the Earth.

The clown who calls you "friend" treats murder as a game; a game your continued presence just seems to encourage. And in your deepest darkest moments, you realize that were you to to just stop, just hang up the cowl and live, the clown would vanish, unchallenged by the fun you represent in his life. But you cannot do this, because your own demented obsession keeps you trudging onward night after night, knowing your own presence breeds these animals as a reactionary throw of preservation by Gotham's underground. By simply existing and carrying on, you creates more death, unwittingly fostering more orphaned children, like you. But surely the ends must justify the means...right? This is the eternal conundrum of the Batman. One that undoubtedly plagues you every single night of your lonely life.

 Sure, there are those that love you. There's the eternal companion, the butler. The man who has been a father figure to you far longer than your own father had. The man who loves you unconditionally. Your ally. Your enabler. Your own actions do as much to keep this man glued to your side as push him away. But you know that this man will be with you until one of you leaves this world permanently. He is your sole companion against the dark. 

Then there are the children. The first, the one who is everything you've ever wanted to be. Your ward who represents that same childhood exuberance that once defined you. This child who underwent the same tragedy as you, but who came out whole on the other side. How is that possible? What does he posses that you don't? And then, one day, the boy leaves you. The boy became a man and made a name for himself without you, and continues to live two lives, embracing joy and companionship while continuing to persevere in your war on the night. 

Then there was the failure. The second boy. One who had a bit of your own darkness within. So you sought to foster him the way you had the first boy. But it ended in tragedy. The clown took the second boy away. Brutally and with finality. Your greatest loss since that night in the alley. Then, he returned to you, but this one who had once been like you, now represents everything you have always stood against. A murderer. 

The third child, your shining light. He came to you born not out of tragedy, but a simple desire to uphold justice. There's no vendetta, no darkness in him whatsoever. He is simply good. Pure. Perhaps the only one who can take your place, one day. But you know, deep down, you'll push him away long before that ever has a chance to happen. 

Then the fourth, your own child. You wish you could bestow upon him that same love your sainted parents once gave to you. To fill him with what you once felt yourself. But you can't. It doesn't exist within you. And the son of the bat will never be the son of Bruce Wayne, because a dead man has no child. 

The girl. She came to you with hope in her heart. She was the bright shining light for your entire "family" and the Clown took her from you as well. Trapped her within the remains of a shattered lifeless body. Extinguished that light and hardened her into a reclusive genius who dedicates her life fully to your war. She rebounded, finding her legs once more, miraculously, but threw herself back into your crusade on the front lines. How long before this second chance is squandered? How long before the wheel chair is replaced with a casket? 

Deep down you know you care for these people. But you can't love them. You have no capacity for the emotion anymore. Perhaps the clown is right, as he often is. Perhaps the ones you're truly meant to be with are not your "Bat-Family" but your rogues, who continue to give you purpose and meaning. They are the closest thing you have to loved ones. They fuel your obsession, and without them you are without meaning. 

Maybe you hold onto hope that one day you'll stop this endless battle. One day you'll be Bruce again. One day you'll hang up the cowl one final time and join those that love you, and finally truly be with them, as a person and not simply a general. But you know this is a pipe dream. You'll die alone. Either at the hands of some villain or punk who happened to have a lucky night, or in your cave, old and withered, still endlessly keeping your now silent vigil. Alone. Forgotten. As miserable as the day those pearls struck the pavement. 

Before you say how cool it would be to be the Batman, think about this. Think about his inner struggle. Think about his lonely vigil and eternal sadness, and realize that It Sucks to be Batman.

A Fond Farewell to the Disney's Hollywood Studios Sorcerer Hat

By Kevin J. Kessler

These skeletal remains represent the passing of an icon. Like most icons, its passing is mourned by many, while there are also those who celebrate its death, citing distaste for its storied legacy. Of course I'm referring to the former icon of Disney's Hollywood Studios, the giant Sorcerer's Hat!

All Disney Parks are defined by one massive landmark. Walt Disney referred to them as "weenies" (stop snickering!) They were meant to be a pull for the eye, a solitary structure with the purpose of providing definition to an already legendary theme park. To inspire such a sense of awe, a structure must truly capture the inner essence of its particular home. In EPCOT, we have Spaceship Earth (many times, infuriatingly, referred to as The EPCOT ball, or simply the Big Golf Ball) At Disney's Animal Kingdom, we have the Tree of Life, and in The Magic Kingdom, we're greeted every trip by the majestic high reaching beauty of Cinderella Castle. 

So what did the third Disney Park, then known as Disney's MGM Studios have to offer? It was a Hollywood studio style water tower known as The Earful Tower...



While it's an impressive site, The Earful Tower failed to inspire that same sense of awe and reverence found in other Disney parks. I think the general public's reaction to this structure was best defined on an episode of the pro wrestling television show WCW Monday Nitro, which was taped at the Studios, when commentator Tony Schiavone (on what was undoubtedly the greatest night in the history of this sport) pointed out the Earful Tower in the distance. His commentary partner, former wrestler The Living Legend Larry Zbysko, scoffed and said, "the EARful tower!?" on live television. 

So what was the answer? The park needed SOMETHING to pull in that attention. What it needed was an infusion of DIsney MAGIC, and that's exactly what it got! 



The Sorcerer Hat was constructed at the end of DHS's main road, Hollywood Boulevard and was instantly met with hostility from the Disney faithful, enraged that this new "eye-sore" was blocking their view of The Chinese Theater, which houses popular attraction, The Great Movie Ride. There was an immediate outcry that never really subsided. Since that time, you either loved the hat, or you despised it with every fiber of your Disney heart! I happen to be the former. 

The first time I laid eyes upon the hat in person, it was 2009. I was newly engaged, loving life, and excited to return to what was once my favorite theme park when I was a teenager. (It has the Muppets!) When I saw the hat waiting for me at the end of Hollywood Boulevard I was overcome with the scope, scale, and magic that it represented. While I've always enjoyed the Chinese Theater, I feel as though that's more of a Hollywood icon, while the hat in question was a true DISNEY icon, and that appealed to me, most of all!

I'm a guy who loves Disney theming. I cried out in delight at 18 when my room at the Polynesian Resort had a photo of Mickey on the wall. I gasped with glee at age 24 when I saw the picture of Captain Jack Sparrow adorning the wall of my room at Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort. I love that Mickey Mouse is carved into the small bars of soap I always steal....erm....hold on to at the end of every trip. This hat was pure DISNEY, and that was all that mattered to me. 

When I heard that demolition of the hat was forthcoming, I was saddened by the news. But, whenever something vanishes in Walt Disney World, though we may miss it in the short term, we should always remember that something wonderful is most assuredly on the way! Walt Disney World is like the mythical Hydra. Cut off one head, two more shall take its place!

Gah! Not THAT Hydra!

Gah! Not THAT Hydra!

 Disney will never do something to purposely cripple itself. If they're removing something as important as the icon of a major theme park, then they definitely have something up their sleeves! So, to that end, I'm eagerly looking forward to the inevitable announcement, but there is still a large part of my heart that will always have a place in it for the Sorcerer Hat. 

As I've watched the photos adorning Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter of the hat's rapid deconstruction  I've felt a pang of loss. It hit me this week that these eyes will never again fill with wonder and magic at the sight of it. I'll never again hum the broom theme from The Sorcerer's Apprentice as I stroll past it, and I'll never again take that silly photopass photo utilizing perspective tricks to look like I'm wearing the hat. 

I'm saddened, but cautiously optimistic as I look forward to the NEW hat-less DHS. But, something HAS to be coming in its place. The park needs an icon, and The Chinese Theater, Earfull Tower, and Tower of Terror are NOT viable options. I don't know about you folks, but I will be eagerly looking forward to D23 this August for any kind of announcement, or....dare I imagine....Star Wars Celebration in April????

Farewell, old friend! I lift my Rapid Refillable Mug in your memory! You will be missed! Thank you for the Magic!

WDPN One Year Later

By Kevin J. Kessler

This won't be a long one, folks. This is just me wanting to reflect a bit on one solid year of the ultimate labor of love ever undertaken in my life. One year and one day ago, the White Dragon Podcast Network was born, and as I sit here tonight, I'm overwhelmed at how this simple idea has grown thanks to the support of the wonderful amazing folks who listen to WDPN shows each and every week.

I'm a big believer in following your dreams (unless you dream is to wear the flesh of infants or something equally horrifying). I've tried to follow every dream I've ever had. I've been on television, in a feature film, and in the pro wrestling ring, but when I discovered the medium of podcasting, I knew a passion was instantly born in my heart. 

I think that throughout my life, my passions often revolved around portraying a character in fiction. Podcasting represented a medium where I could share my own personality and thoughts with people, and most fulfilling was the opportunity it presented me to get to know myself a little better. I no longer imagined myself as a pro wrestling character, or playing the lead role in Jekyll and Hyde, I just saw me; a late 20's child of the 90's with a geeky sense of humor and a big mouth. And for the first time ever, I started to like that person!

When WDPN launched on February 3, 2014 we released 3 shows, none of which still exist today. I tend to dream big and immediately bit off far more than I could chew. When those shows proved too difficult to produce on a consistent basis, I turned to another passion in the world of Disney, and one of the most interesting people I've ever known in Peter Mandle, and a match made in heaven was born. 

Instantly, 2 Men and The Mouse felt different from any other show I had done up to that point. It felt genuine and real and passionate and above all else FUN! 51 weeks later we haven't missed a single week, and I am beyond proud of that. I think what fueled our combined passion was the amount of support we received from the Disney community. You guys opened your arms and accepted two geeky Jersey boys into your ear buds every single Tuesday and changed my life forever. 

After 2 Men debuted, I considered folding the network, and just continuing with that one show, as it was well received and fun. However my passion for creating a network was further fueled when I reconnected with two former co-workers who have become two of my very best friends, BatDave and Spider-Denny, who dubbed me Kev-El, and suddenly BatSquad Radio was born into my life. BSR makes me laugh every time I hear it. I look forward to it constantly, and it reinvigorated my desire to expand this network. 

The network has also afforded me the opportunity to discover hidden talents in those closest to me. Who knew my amazing beautiful wife was such a natural on the air?!? Hearing Jackie develop as an on air personality, turning from a girl with extreme stage fright to the confident strong broadcaster she's become has filled me with so much pride. To share something you love with the one person in the world you truly love is a gift, and I wish everyone could experience that.

To anyone who enjoys or has ever listened to WDPN on any level, I want to send a strong heartfelt thank you, your way! You've given me much more happiness then I can ever repay, and I have so much more to put out there in the coming year! The addition of this Web site is a true boon to the cause, and coming in the next few weeks will be the return of Geek WatchTower and Boss Fight, and the debut of Walker Talkers, Once Upod a Time and Mousellaneous DIScussions!

Thank you all, from the very bottom of my heart. Thank you so much!

New game starts right now! Year 2 is going to be even bigger!

Why Did You Like This Fantastic Four Trailer???

By Kevin J. Kessler

The teaser trailer for Fox's "bold" re-imagining of Marvel's first family of super heroes, the Fantastic Four, has been met with nothing but contempt and anger from fans since the first details of its story were revealed to the public. 

I mean, come on, Johnny and Sue Storm are two different colors? Reed Richards looks like he's 12, and Dr. Doom is a BLOGGER? Seemingly all forward motion on this project turned everyone into this guy...



So when Fox released the first teaser trailer for this film, I watched with no expectations whatsoever, and was met with a completely underwhelming science fiction teaser that looked nothing like the Fantastic Four. Exactly what I expected. While the Fantastic Four, in any incarnation, has never particularly entertained me, one thing I can never get enough of is Nerd Rage. So, I flew to my lap top eager to see the outcry, and what I found was...the exact opposite!

Facebook was flooded with scores of folks writing encouraging posts regarding this potential turd. I saw a slew of "Wow, this might not be so bad," and "I can't wait!" I'm sorry but ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?

First off, Reed Richards is played by the douchey kid from Divergent (which I also hated) who has a baby face. Dude looks like he's 13. And he's playing the patriarch of Marvel's First Family??? Now, I'm no Reed Richards lover. In fact, he's probably my least favorite character in all of comics. But even a fantastic hater such as myself believed this to be rather poor casting.

My next point is, WAS THE THING NAKED!? 

Are we going to see The Thing's thing!?

Are we going to see The Thing's thing!?

I mean look at that! It's his rocky rear end! Did Fox just really want to answer the age old question first posed in Mallrats? Does The Thing have an orange dork? And those costumes look terrible. Maybe Ben Grimm agrees with me, and that's why he's choosing to strut about all natural. 

So tell me, internet, what was it you liked? In all of the comments I saw, there were no specifics. Just generalizations. Am I getting punked here? Did I miss something? Or am I just creating my own Nerd Rage in the absence of the rage of strangers, which so delights me?

Gah, I digress. This is what I'm doing instead of watching the Super Bowl.