Monday, 28 May 2012

Episode 28. THE DARK KNIGHT (2008)

Is there anything left to say about Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight? Dru and Dave think so. And with The Dark Knight Rises on the immediate horizon, 24 Panels Per Second is definitely the podcast you deserve, and the one you need right now. (Does that line make any more sense here than it does in the movie? I doubt it.) Andrew Kannegiesser is truly a "white knight" for sitting in with us once again.

Episode breakdown:
0:00 - 6:16: Intro banter (Facebook problems)
6:16 - 6:49: The Dark Knight trailer
6:49 - 1:44:07: Main discussion: The Dark Knight
1:44:07 - 1:47:34: Closing remarks

Send all feedback to Stay up to date with our blogs at and Follow Dave on Twitter @24panels and Dru @violetbooth. Like us on Facebook. And don't forget to subscribe (and review us) in iTunes!

Next time on 24 Panels: Men in Black I and II...

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Preview Post - THE DARK KNIGHT

Andrew Kannegiesser returns to 24 Panels Per Second this week to join Dru and Dave on another road trip to Gotham City! This time out, the trio will be taking a look at Christopher Nolan’s 2008 effort The Dark Knight, the smash hit which dominated the box office.

Like in the preview post for Batman Returns, we’ll skip by the history of Batman himself to look at the villains and overall stories which directly influenced the film. To this end, there is no better place to start than the Joker! The character first appeared in the first issue of Batman’s own monthly title in 1940, and is the creation of Jerry Robinson, Bill Finger and Bob Kane. As originally devised, the Joker was a serial killer and thief, though due to his popularity, his continued appearances in the comic resulted in the character’s murderous instincts being toned down.

Unlike most comic super villains, the Joker has never had a definitive origin, with various possibilities having been suggested over time by different creative teams. The only point upon which they all agree is that the Joker had a confrontation with Batman in a chemical factory, and fell into a vat of chemicals during this confrontation, bleaching his skin and turning his hair green. Beyond this, the Joker’s life prior to becoming the clown prince of crime differs wildly, from one origin suggesting that he was a violent mob hitman, to another which suggests the character was a tragic everyman. Just as these accounts of the Joker’s origins differ, so too has the character’s behaviour over the decades, moving from being a serial killer to a prankster figure, only to move back to his violent ways in the late 1960s.

As one of Batman’s earliest villains, the Joker has made perhaps the most frequent jump from the comics to other media, being famously portrayed in the 1960s television series by Cesar Romero…

…and by Jack Nicholson in Tim Burton’s 1989 film Batman

…and Mark Hamill in the famous Batman: The Animated Series.

Of course, the Joker isn’t the only villain in The Dark Knight, with Harvey Dent, aka Two-Face, also figuring into the film (though his status as villain here is a bit questionable). The character first appeared in 1942 in Detective Comics  #66, and was originally named Harvey Kent, a name that would eventually be changed due to Clark Kent sharing the same last name. Gotham’s district attorney, Dent is hideously scarred by sulfuric acid during the trial of Gotham’s major mob boss Sal Maroni, which coupled with prior psychological issues results in Dent becoming Two-Face, a villain obsessed with duality who can only make a decision based on the flip of a coin.

While one of the earliest villains in Batman’s history, the character did not really appear in other media until the 1980s, making his debut in Tim Burton’s 1989 film Batman, though only as Harvey Dent. Here, the character is played by Billy Dee Williams, and is Gotham’s newly elected District Attorney.

Reportedly, Williams was under contract to reprise his role as Dent in a sequel, but the role was scrapped from appearing in Batman Returns. The character would next appear in Batman Forever, this time played by Tommy Lee Jones in a slightly more, um, camp performance.

Thankfully, for those who did not enjoy Jones’ take on the character, Richard Moll voiced a serious performance in the role in Batman: The Animated Series. Here, Dent is Bruce Wayne’s friend who is dealing with issues of repressed anger, which are coming to the surface due to the stress from campaigning for his job while also targeting mob boss Rupert Thorne. The famous scarring of his face does not happen in court, but results from an explosion during a backroom meeting where the mob trying to blackmail Harvey over the state of his mental health:

But what stories directly influenced The Dark Knight? As with Batman Begins, the film draws upon several different sources for its narrative, although unlike that film, The Dark Knight draws more upon ideas from the comics and less upon direct images and plots.

At the smallest possible level, the film addresses the destruction of the Bat-Cave and Wayne Manor in the prior film by looking to the late 1960s and early 1970s comics. In particular, the film draws upon Batman #217, in which Batman decides he needs to be closer to his city and shuts down both Wayne Manor and the Bat-Cave, moving into a penthouse apartment at the heart of the city.

Likewise, the film’s plot point about Batman inspiring gun-carrying copycats is taken from Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns

However, in terms of the Joker’s methods of operation and behaviour, the primary influence upon the film is Batman #1 from 1940. In the comic, the Joker announces his murders before they happen, and sets about killing his targets through trickery despite the police presence protecting the victims. Among the victims is the chief of police and a judge, the latter of which is killed while the Joker pretends to be a police officer. Furthermore, the Joker’s actions (briefly) whip up public panic. Those who have seen The Dark Knight will likely recognize all of these plot points and concepts as appearing in the film in one form or another.

Additionally, major plot elements are taken from the limited series Batman: The Long Halloween. While the series is ostensibly a murder mystery, the comic also traces the fall of the traditional organized crime families in Gotham and the rise of costumed maniacs, including the mob turning to some of these villains as they become increasingly desperate. Again, these plot elements make it into the film in a highly modified form.

So does The Dark Knight live up to its reputation? Tune in next episode at the same Bat-place, and same Bat-blog to find out!

Friday, 25 May 2012

DISPATCHES FROM SECTOR 2814: Breaching the Source Wall

24 Panels is mega jazzed to introduce a new column by Andrew Kannegiesser, who you may remember from our Green Lantern episode (or premember from our upcoming The Dark Knight episode). In the first instalment of Dispatches from Sector 2814, Andrew explores the complicated issue of continuity and fidelity in comic book movies. Enjoy the full article, after the jump!

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Episode 27. DAREDEVIL (2003)

Are Dru and Dave men without fear? Certainly not, which is why they're recruited guest host James Hrivnak to join them in their trip to Hell's Kitchen, NYC to discuss Mark Steven Johnson's Daredevil. Even though it represents a serious improvment from the theatrical cut, we can all agree that Matt Murdock deserves a better film. Don't blame us, we're not the bad guys! Blame Mark Steven Johnson!

Episode breakdown:
0:00 - 15:00: Intro banter (Peter Weller as Batman in The Dark Knight Returns)
15:00 - 15:44: Daredevil trailer
15:44 - 1:39:39: Main discussion: Daredevil (with James Hrivnak)

Send all feedback to Stay up to date with our blogs at and Follow Dave on Twitter @24panels and Dru @violetbooth. Like us on Facebook. And don't forget to subscribe (and review us) in iTunes!

Next time on 24 Panels: The Dark Knight...

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Preview Post: DAREDEVIL

Are Dru and Dave men without fear? Nope. That’s why James Hrivnak is once again joining the 24 Panels duo as they confront the director’s cut of Mark Steven Johnson’s fearsome 2003 film, Daredevil!

Created by Stan Lee and Bill Everett in 1964, Daredevil first appeared in Daredevil # 1. Daredevil is Matt Murdock, a man born and raised in the Hell’s Kitchen area of Manhattan, who is blinded by a radioactive substance when he saves a blind man who is about to be hit by a truck. While the substance takes Matt’s sight, it also enhances the rest of his senses, including boosting his hearing to the point where he can “see” in a radar-like manner. 

When Matt’s father, boxer Jack “the Devil” Murdock, refuses to throw a fight, he is killed. The young Matt swears to avenge his father, and when he grows up becomes Daredevil, basing his costume on his father’s old boxing robes. By day, Matt is a defence lawyer sticking up for those who cannot defend themselves in Hell’s Kitchen; by night, he prowls the streets as Daredevil, defending his neighbourhood and the people within it.

While a creation of Lee and Everett, throughout the character’s first decade and a half, the creative teams running his title were rather erratic and changed frequently. However, in the early 1980s, comic legend and current madman Frank Miller became the title’s writer and artist, reinventing the book into a darker, noir-influenced title defined by moral ambiguity, backdoor politics, femme fatales and Greek tragedy. During this period, long time Spider-Man villain Wilson Fisk, AKA the Kingpin, was transformed into Daredevil’s primary foe, while increasing amounts of attention were spent on the psychological aspects of the titular hero.

Perhaps most famously, Miller introduced the character of Elektra in issue 168. A former love of Matt’s from his university years, the murder of her father from around that period led to her transformation into a master assassin, a position which puts her at direct odds with Matt. Becoming involved in the increasingly complex battle between Matt and the Kingpin, Elektra is perhaps most famous for her brutal death at the hands of long-time Daredevil villain Bullseye, who murders her in an effort to restore his place as the Kingpin’s number one assassin. Arguably one of the most famous deaths in comics, the scene is also notorious for the sexual undertones of the murder.

While the character has not been the most prolific of Marvel’s characters outside of comics, Daredevil has made it onto television a few times, appearing in several different cartoons, including Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends, the 1990s Fantastic Four series, and the 1990s Spider-Man series:


In 1989, the character made his live action debut in the backdoor pilot for a Daredevil series in The Trial of the Incredible Hulk. In the film, Matt Murdock (played by actor Rex Smith) becomes the defense lawyer for David Banner for a crime he didn’t commit. Involved in the frame up is the Kingpin, Wilson Fisk (John Rhys-Davies), Matt’s arch-nemesis. Surprisingly faithful to the comics with only a few alternations, the film is somewhat notorious for the change made to Daredevil’s costume, which shifts from its classic all red appearance to a pure black outfit which hues closer to ninja garb rather than a superhero costume.

In 2003, the character finally was adapted into a feature film. The film is written and directed by Mark Steven Johnson, whose career began as the writer of the comedy Grumpy Old Men in 1993:

In 1998, Johnson made his directorial debut on the film Simon Birch, an adaptation of John Irving’s famous novel A Prayer for Owen Meany:

Daredevil was Johnson’s second directorial effort. Following the film, Johnson worked on another Marvel character, Ghost Rider, in 2007. It is a film which we have previously looked at on the program:

While Daredevil was critically slammed upon release, the film was financially successful enough in its theatrical release that a follow-up film was produced. Instead of a sequel however, 2005 saw the release of Elektra, a spin-off film starring Jennifer Garner. Directed by one-time X-Files director Rob Bowman, Elektra was a a more modestly budgeted production than Daredevil, but was both a critical and financial failure, earning a mere $56 million dollars against an estimated $43 million dollar budget.

While no further follow-ups to the 2003 film have since followed, a reboot of the property is currently in the works, with 30 Days of Night director David Slade guiding the proposed film.

But how does the extended director’s cut, with approximately forty minutes of footage not included in the theatrical cut of the film, hold up? Join James, Dru and David to find out!

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Episode 26. THE CROW (1994)

To kick off the "Dark Avengers" series, Dru and Dave bring guest William Hart back from the dead to discuss the 1994 film adaptation of James O'Barr's The Crow. Unfortunately, Will was only interested in taking bloody revenge on the 24 Panels hosts (having last appeared on the show to discuss Ghost Rider), wearing white facepaint, and playing ripping guitar solos in the rain.

Episode breakdown:
0:00 - 12:58: Intro banter (The Avengers, "The Scottish Film")
12:58 - 13:40: The Crow trailer
13:40 - 1:25:03: Main discussion: The Crow (with William Hart)
1:25:03 - 1:27:24: Closing remarks

Send all feedback to Stay up to date with our blogs at and Follow Dave on Twitter @24panels and Dru @violetbooth. Like us on Facebook. And don't forget to subscribe (and review us) in iTunes!

Next time on 24 Panels: Daredevil...

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Preview Post: THE CROW

This week, William Hart returns to 24 Panels Per Second to lend Dru and Dave a hand as they look at the 1994 cult action/revenge film The Crow.

Created by writer and artist James O’Barr, The Crow was published in 1989. The comic is the tale of Eric, a young man who is resurrected from the dead by some supernatural force to seek vengeance upon those who killed him and, more significantly, raped and murdered his fiancĂ©e. As O’Barr has frequently noted, the comic was written to help him deal with his grief and guilt over the death of his girlfriend, who was killed by a drunk driver.

A hit on the indie comics scene, the film rights to The Crow were quickly picked up and resulted in the 1994 film, directed by Alex Proyas, who would go on to direct another beloved cult classic in Dark City a few years later.

While a beloved cult hit, The Crow is perhaps more famous for the tragedy that occurred during the film’s production. During a scene involving gun play, an improperly prepared prop gun was fired which resulted in the death of star Brandon Lee, son of famous martial arts film star Bruce Lee. While possessing only a few credits to his name prior to The Crow, Brandon Lee had attained a dedicated fan base from his work in early 1990 action romps Showdown in Little Tokyo

…and Rapid Fire.

A financial success, the film’s producers attempted to transform the property into a franchise, following the film with the theatrical sequel The Crow: City of Angels (1996)…

…which itself was followed up with the straight-to-video The Crow: Salvation (2000)…

…before the film series came to an end with The Crow: Wicked Prayer (2005).

A reboot is currently in the planning stages.

Prior to the DTV films, there was a short lived attempt to turn The Crow into a television series in 1998. Titled The Crow: Stairway to Heaven, the series stars Mark Dacascos as Eric, who returns from the dead in order to seek vengeance for his love’s murder, and to find redemption in order to be reunited with her. Running for one season, the show was a hit with fans, but low ratings led to its cancellation.

So, has time been kind to this gothic 1990s film? Tune in this week to find out what our trio thinks!

Friday, 11 May 2012

DRU v. DAVE: To Reboot or Not to Reboot?

In a recent interview, Marvel Studios' president Kevin Feige announced his intention to recast and continue the Iron Man series when Robert Downey Jr. decides that he's had enough. In Feige's words: "I think Bond is a good example. Let's put it this way: I hope Downey makes a lot of movies for us as Stark. If and when he doesn't, and I'm still here making these movies, we don't take him to Afganistan and have him wounded again. I think we James Bond it." In other words, he would continue the series from where they left off with Downey, rather than starting anew with the new actor. Is this a good idea? Dru and Dave disagree. Read the full debate after the jump!

Thursday, 10 May 2012

24 Panels: The Tumblr

24 Panels Per Second co-host Dru Jeffries is undertaking a new, ongoing project, compiling the "based on" title cards in the credits of comic book movies. You can follow the photo-blog (which should be called "phogs," really) at And if you have any to high-quality screen captures to submit, please do so to, our regular email address!

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

BETWEEN PANELS: Avengers Assemble! (Part Two)

We saw it, and based on the boffo box office (this is one of those rare times when a word like "boffo" is truly appropriate), you did too! On this bonus episode of 24 Panels Per Second, we discuss The Avengers: what it does right, where it's lacking, and what it means both for the future of Marvel Studios and the future of the superhero genre in film. It takes us almost 100 minutes.

Send all feedback to Stay up to date with our blog at Follow Dave on Twitter @24panels and Dru @violetbooth. Like us on Facebook. And don't forget to subscribe (and review us) in iTunes!

Next time on 24 Panels: The Crow...

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

THE DARK KNIGHT RISES: Analysis of the Third Trailer

OK, before we get started, let us all watch the trailer for The Dark Knight Rises one more time, shall we?

OK, have we managed to get all the giddiness out of our systems? Excellent.

As Dru noted on our Facebook page, this trailer is best described as quiet and apocalyptic. And really, what could be more fitting for the final film in Christopher Nolan’s series? Over the past two films, Nolan has examined the themes of faith, fear, and heroism, and everything about this trailer, from the “hope is lost / faith is broken” taglines to the nightmarish imagery of Gotham having gone to hell points to a film which is likely going to go to some fairly bleak places. Hell, I'd almost say biblical, with Bane seemingly intent of punishing Gotham as if it were Sodom and Gomorrah.

But what can comic book fans learn from the trailer about the upcoming film? Glad you asked. 

1. Yeah, the film is drawing on the Knightfall story arc.

Not that anyone has doubted it ever since Bane was announced as the villain, or since the imagery of the broken bat-mask started popping up in in the ad campaign, but this trailer clearly indicates that the idea of Batman being "broken" by Bane will play a major part in the new film.

What is likely more interesting is the way in which Bane’s motives for taking down Batman have changed. In the comics, Batman was something of a personal goal, the man he had to take down in order to prove his greatness. Here, Bane seems to declare that he is punishing Batman for…something. This is in keeping with Nolan’s approach of reinventing Batman’s villains as a collection of terrorists rather than super villains, and Bane might be the most overt change we’ve seen yet.  

           2. Turns out there is a bit of Knightquest in this film as well.

      Well, one narrative strand from Knightquest at any rate. In a nutshell, by the end of Knightquest, Bruce Wayne was healed of the spinal damage Bane gave him in their last battle, and was ready and willing to head on back to Gotham. Unfortunately, he had to do so minus Alfred, his faithful butler, who was fed up with Wayne putting himself in mortal danger every night, particularly after the events of Knightfall. Alfred would eventually return to the Batman family of titles, but it was years later before than happened.

      A similar storyline seems to be playing out in The Dark Knight Rises, with Alfred seemingly having enough of Bruce Wayne’s quest to save Gotham at the expense of his health.
      3. Is that a bit of No Man’s Land I see in there?


      Unlike Knightfall, No Man’s Land is a storyline likely unknown to most non-comic fans of Batman. A year long Batman epic which played throughout every Batman book in 1999, No Man’s Land tells the story of Gotham City after it has been devastated by a massive earthquake. Deciding that the city is unsalvageable, the government of the United States evacuates all who want to leave the city, and then blow the bridges, declaring the area a "No Man's Land." What’s left of Gotham’s population is terrorised by the city's long list of homegrown maniacs, while the crime lords set themselves up as the rulers of Gotham. Standing in their way is what is left of the Gotham Police Department, led by Jim Gordon, and Batman.

From the looks of the latest trailer, it seems that Bane is setting up Gotham as a No Man’s Land type era himself, taking out the bridges and forcing the citizens of Gotham to deal with his chaotic rule. Standing in his way will be Gordon, whoever Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s John Blake is, Batman, and Selina Kyle.

If Nolan is indeed drawing upon all of these sources, then his approach seems to have been to take three memorable-but-flawed stories, and from each take their best elements:  the core concept of Knightfall, the emotional strain of Knightquest, and the imagery of No Man’s Land. Mixed with Nolan’s seeming ability to hit the cultural zeitgeist at the right moment, it looks like we might just finally have a third film in a series which delivers on audience expectations.

But what do you all think? Let us know in the comments below!