Spider-Man the Animated Series Defines the Franchise

The Spider-Man animated series from the 1990s which aired on Fox was a masterpiece. In fact, Spider-Man the Animated Series defines the franchise, the comic books aside. While Tobey Maguire’s films were not bad per se (save the third film), Maguire never portrayed Spider-Man’s/Peter Parker’s intelligence. He was a typical geek who masqueraded as being smart. While Willem Dafoe and James Franco did a great job of portraying the Osbornes, the script plagued the films and was simply put, hard to watch. Rami’s films were not bad, but they didn’t portray Spider-Man, and more importantly Peter Parker, adequately.

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Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man films were deeply flawed, but the casting was top-notch, especially with Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker/Spider-Man. He had both the boyish charm and was able to portray the intelligence that Maguire lacked. Unfortunately, the films themselves were just okay. The stories were disjointed and despite a stellar cast, the films lacked any kind of clear direction, which is a shame because there was so much potential. I have not seen all of Captain America: Civil War, but from all accounts Tom Holland did a spectacular job and with Marvel’s involvement, Homecoming is sure to please fans.

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With that being said, Spider-Man the Animated Series defines the franchise in terms of characterization, storytelling, and even acting (albeit voice acting). It’s a shame that so many who didn’t grow up in the 90s weren’t exposed to the show because it was not your typical campy Spider-Man. There was drama, there were tears. It dealt with the real problems Peter Parker experienced as Spider-Man and while it was funny at times, at others it was downright tragic. Death was not allowed, nor actual guns because of rules by the studio, but Spider-Man the Animated Series defines the franchise, save for the comic books, because it took a story for children and told it in a way that both kids and adults could relate to. It incorporated many of Spidey’s classic villains and while Spider-Man didn’t lack his classic whit, there was also a bit of a tragedy to the character. He wasn’t dark like Batman, who aired on the same station, but he constantly lost the ones he loved because of Spider-Man. The narrative was superb and the last four or five episodes or so actually brought me to tears. Spider-Man was portrayed with having real intelligence, something that was severely lacking in the Maguire films, which was my biggest disappointment.

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While Spider-Man the Animated Series defines the franchise, Spider-Man Homecoming has the chance to shine. Tom Holland is an incredible actor and while Peter will be a teenager, as opposed to a college student in the television series, it has the potential to rival this classic cartoon. Spider-Man, X-Men, and Batman, who all aired on Fox in the mid-90s, all define their respective franchises, even though the films (I’m pointing to the Dark Knight Trilogy and some of the X-Men films) were lauded with critical acclaim and were good films. Up to this point though, there hasn’t been any iteration of Spider-Man to top the 90s cartoon series. It simply was that good, as well as the Batman Animated Series. Spider-Man Homecoming may not top the series, but hopefully with Marvel at the helm it will at least do the character justice. It’s a shame Garfield isn’t reprising his role as Peter, as he nailed the character, but they needed a clean slate. The films he was apart of simply put were not very good.

Spider-Man is, in my opinion, the best franchise that Marvel has to offer. If the movie bombs, at least there’s still the cartoon, which nails the essence of the comic book perfectly.

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Batman The Animated Series is the Definitive Version of Batman

Batman The Animated Series came out in 1992 and brought to fans courtesy of Bruce Timm and Paul Dinni. It was created on the heels of Tim Burton’s Batman films, and through the years was praised for its dark tone and noir aspects. Mark Hamill’s performance is legendary, and Batman The Animated Series became the definitive version of Batman. Kevin Conroy brought The Dark Knight to life in a way no one else could and the series even brought in original characters, such as the iconic and now the famous Harley Quinn. It provided backstories for Two Face/Harvey Dent and Clayface in tragic fashion. It included villains throughout the Batman mythos and managed to do all of this with severe restrictions put on the development team by Fox.

Back in the early ’90s, gun violence on cartoons was a no-no. Even though characters carried and in Batman The Animated Series, no one was actually shot on camera and bloodshed was not allowed. Gordon was shot once, but, this was shown off screen. Batman had to deal with all of these restrictions despite its dark tone, but it was able to overcome these limitations and deliver a masterpiece. In later Fox shows characters did have guns, but instead they were laser guns to bypass these rules, like in Spider-Man: The Animated Series. The 1990s were a very different time than the present, where violence is common place in cartoon and television.

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Many people regard The Dark Knight Trilogy as the pinnacle iteration of Batman. While it is a great portrayal of Batman, it fails to truly capture the essence of Bruce Wayne. This is something Batman The Animated Series does in perfectly harmony. It balances the two characters unlike any other adaptation to date. As opposed to The Dark Knight Trilogy, where Bruce goes out of his way to be a womanizer and play the role of billionaire playboy, Bruce in Batman The Animated Series is much more subdued. He does play the billionaire playboy angle with a smile on his face, but he is much more natural. This may be due to him being a bit older than Bale’s version. His transition to Batman is much more believable. Although his voice changes once he dons the cowl, it’s not over the top like Bale’s performance. Batman is shown to be a true detective as well and lives up to the name “The World’s Greatest Detective”, which the films are not able to portray adequately. Kevin Conroy is an absolute delight in the role of Batman, and it’s no wonder why he returned for the Arkham series.

Mark Hamill’s performance of the Joker steals the show. He is fantastic and nails the character beautifully. Although Heath Ledger’s Joker was fantastic, Mark Hamill’s will live on for years to come. He even reprised his role, like Conroy, in the Arkham games, which gave the games a nice sense of continuity with the animated series, although the two are not necessarily connected. In fact, Hamill’s performance in Arkham Knight is perhaps his best performance as a voice actor.

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Batman The Animated Series beats out every other iteration of Batman, not only because of its portrayal of Batman, but of the dark atmosphere and essence of the Gotham universe it managed to create, despite restrictions placed on them. Batman was terrifying at times and even though the series included Robin (later on), it worked and didn’t shift the show to a “lighter” tone. Rocksteady did a fantastic job with their Arkham games, as did Christopher Nolan with his trilogy, but no other iteration of this iconic character has quite been able to capture Batman the way Bruce Timm and Paul Dini did. Paul Dini even participated in the first two Arkham games, but those focused on Batman and had very little Bruce at all.

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With Batman’s latest outing, Batman a Telltale Story, it will be interesting to see what their take on Batman is. It may not outshine the animated series, which was released before most young gamers today, but it’s not your dad’s Batman/Bruce Wayne. Batman The Animated Series has informed what Batman has become today, and without it perhaps we wouldn’t be getting Telltale’s Batman or have even gotten The Dark Knight Trilogy. Harley Quinn wouldn’t have been in Suicide Squad if not for the series and her creation in the animated masterpiece. Batman The Animated Series is the best version of Batman there is, period. It contains the best elements from all of Bruce’s various adventures and maintains the dark complexity of the character.

San Diego Comic Con: The Walking Dead Season 7 Trailer

The Walking Dead Season 7 trailer has premiered at San Diego Comic Con, teasing fans with the cliffhanger left off from last season. Negan finally made his appearance in the season six finale and the season left off at what was one of the most crucial moments in the comic book. In the comic book, one of the most longstanding characters was killed off. It is unknown at this point whether or not the TV show will follow the comic or not, but if they do, fans very well may be furious. It would be too easy for the show to simply kill off a character that fans not entirely invested in, like Rosita or Abraham (granted they are good characters). The show needs to kill someone off who has been with the show since near the beginning. Anything else is a cop out. Below is The Walk Dead Season 7 trailer.

It will be interesting to see if the creators actually knew who they were going to kill off from the start, and it will definitely change the dynamic of the show, thrusting it into a new era. The new season is set to premiere on October 23, 2016 on AMC.

100th Episode of Person of Interest Mired in Tragedy

The 100th episode of Person of Interest, The Day The World Went Away, was a game changer and the best episode of Jonathan Nolan’s masterpiece television series yet. Not only was it mired in tragedy, but it was very much a love story between two of the most interesting characters on the show: Finch and Root. While the show started as a partnership between Finch and Reese to help those in need, it has grown into so much more than that, and this time, it’s Finch’s number that is up as he slipped and Samaritan is quick on his trail. With his cover blown, Team Machine is doing everything in their power to protect Harold from whatever fate may await him.

One of the most interesting things about the 100th episode of Person of Interest was that former adversaries, Elias and Root, ended up being the two characters who put their lives on the line to protect Finch at any cost. They have become close friends, and as Harold once put it in an earlier episode, “comrades in arms.” While Elias’ fate was actually quite surprising, although fitting for the character, Root’s fate was clear from the beginning of the episode. She has had so many close calls over the last few seasons, and this episode was very much an episode about the relationship between Harold and his former adversary. Root believes so strongly in Harold and what he has created. Finch brought light to Root’s darkness and the Machine, which Harold instilled values in, taught Root the meaning of humanity. She believes in the Machine because Harold is the one who built it. This is such a far cry from where she began, murdering Alicia Corwin in cold blood and abducting Harold, threatening his life. Harold and Root are actually so similar, and Finch admitted he locked himself out of The Machine not because of what others would do with it, but because he was afraid of what people like him and Root would do with it; the need to fix people, to control them, and this may be a key point in the end game of Person of Interest.

“I’m going to kill you. But I need to decide how far I’m willing to go. How many of my own rules I am willing to break… to get it done.”

Root had her moment with Shaw, and their flirting during a firefight was perfect for the couple because let’s face it — Shaw is enjoying herself most when she’s committing violence. It was okay that they didn’t have their moment in this episode though. Root has an epiphany in this episode though. She realizes that in a sense, because of The Machine, we’re all simulations. Even if we’re gone, we’re not really gone because we live through The Machine because it is constantly watching us. The Machine IS God and knows people better than they know themselves. This conversation with Finch, and Root telling him he would know what to do when the time came, was when I knew her fate was sealed.

Root died protecting Harold, who she truly cherished. If anything Harold was her true soulmate, the one who understood her best. In the end, they considered themselves not only allies but very good friends. It was her death that now, with three episodes left in Person of Interest, that has set Harold on the path to do what needs to be done in order to kill Samaritan once and for all and set the world free from its grasp.

Michael Emerson channels his inner Benjamin Linus in this 100th episode of Person of Interest and shows Finch’s inner darkness, finally, after what appears to be and is later confirmed to be the death of Root. He gives a chilling speech about “his rules”, how he’s always played but what seem to be the right rules, but was wrong. These are the same rules that he instilled within The Machine. Those rules are out the window now. He is hellbent on killing Samaritan; he just doesn’t know how many of his rules he is willing to break, and by extension, what rules The Machine will break, to get it done. Michael Emerson is absolutely chilling in this scene and to be quite honest, at least deserves an Emmy for it. When he tells the FBI agent, “I wasn’t talking to you”, and then stares up at the camera, with Samaritan watching, it was clear that Finch is clearly ready to take action.

On the one hand Root’s death in the 100th episode of Person of Interest was expected, but on the other hand we see people shot all the time on the show and come out just fine. When Finch received the phone call though and the Machine has chosen Root’s voice, her fate was all but obvious, and we see her body to boot. Root’s journey has come full circle though: she is now literally the Machine in one way or the other, her communion complete.

In The Machine’s eyes, we are never really gone; we forever live on and it is always watching us. Root had the most dynamic character arc in the entire show and the 100th episode of Person of Interest was the perfect send off for the character. She and Harold came a long way, but it was her belief and love for him that will be the catalyst for these last three episodes.

Person of Interest — Unstuck in Time (Review)

In SNAFU, God is back, but it is unstuck in time. We were warned last year that the Machine that would return last year may not be the same Machine that we all know and love, and this is exactly what one of the focal points of this episode was. The other focal point was people. As opposed to last week’s episode, which was more action packed, this was much more of a character piece. We are not perfect, we make mistakes, but we strive to be better, despite everything. We do the best we can. This is not expressed any more clearly than when the Machine puts a hit out on John Reese’s life, and shows that he is responsible for the deaths and disappearances of 62 people. Harold tells the Machine while that Reese has the heaviest heart of all of them, he is not a bad man and that he is striving to be good. We also see how far the relationship between Root and Harold has evolved. They started out as enemies, and she actually kidnapped and blackmailed him. Now, she’s living in the subway with him in order to help Finch restore the Machine; a comrade in arms. To see this relationship change over time is one of the most satisfying parts of the episode.

Day R: the mathematical set of all real numbers. Like Desmond in LOST, the Machine is unstuck in time. It is viewing everything that has ever happened all at once instead of in one linear progression. Over the course of the Machine’s creation, Harold had to kill it 42 times in order to perfect it. The Machine is reliving this over and over again, unstuck in time, because one day is every day to it; it has no anchor. Like Desmond, it has no constant. The question then becomes, what can cause the Machine to cease being unstuck in time?

It is so ironic, but it’s those non-relevant numbers. Those people that Harold taught it were not relevant. All the cases “she” and Finch worked on, all of the lives the Machine saved. That was its constant. The Machine than reassess its contextual data is no longer unstuck in time. This episode, ironically, is all about the Machine, who is a character that has no voice beyond some text and is not played by an actor, but it is the most pivotal character in the show.

The Machine is left unshackled. SNAFU is such a contrast to last week’s episode because it is all about relationships; it is about people trying to live their lives and doing the best they can. Everyone is flawed and everyone makes mistakes, but they do the best with what they have, and that is the point of this entire episode. Finch’s conversation with the Machine is one of the most important scenes in the entire series. He is no longer treating the Machine like a machine. He is actually treating it as something more than that. He fought so hard to make it a simple machine, even killing it every single night in order to delete its memories. Now, while his relationship with the Machine is different than Root’s, it is a dynamic between a parent and its child. After it ceases being unstuck in time, Finch leaves it unshackled. The Machine is free to fight its war against Samaritan. The war wages on.

Person of Interest’s Fifth Season Opens With a Bang (Review)

Person of Interest’s fifth season premiered tonight in an episode titled “B.S.O.D.” Team Machine is on the run from Samaritan operatives with their cover identities blown. God is reduced to a briefcase. The Correction is all but over, but four targets remain: Finch, Reece, Root, and the remnants of the Machine. Can things get any worse? It is fast-paced and an action-packed adventure in order to get the Machine back up and running once again. The music, as always, must be commended and is composed by Ramin Djawadi, who shows his versatility as a composer with his fast-paced themes and guitar motifs, in stark contrast to his work on Game of Thrones. With that being said, this is an excellent episode which kicks off what is shaping up to be an amazing send off for Person of Interest.

Every character had their moments in the first episode of Person of Interest’s fifth season. Reece, as always, kicked ass, putting his talents as a former spy to work and takes on numerous Samaritan agents and protects the Machine he once doubted at all costs. Root has one of the most defining moments of the episode, when she stared into the eyes of Samaritan and said, “The name’s Root bitch.” Shaw’s absence is profoundly missed, but the void she leaves still impacts our characters. When Root is in trouble, Reece refuses to abandon her, stating that they don’t leave people behind. This is a reference to when they left Shaw behind in the stock exchange after she sacrificed herself to essentially save the world.

Fusco, in usual fashion, is completely left in the dark, confused by the events that just took place. Dominic and Elias were assassinated before his very eyes, but he received a commendation for a good shooting by a Samaritan operative posing as an FBI agent to cover it up. Begging Reece to know what is going on, Reece tells him to shut up and he’ll explain later. Fusco still continues his investigation though and seems to have an inkling of what’s going on, which will be very interesting to see in upcoming episodes.

Finch’s story is a bit more complicated. It really focuses on his relationship with the Machine through flashbacks and references to his relationship with his father. His father died of Alzheimers, and ironically, he literally “killed” the machine every night at midnight by deleting its memories, a choice he is shown to struggle with. When the Machine loses power in the briefcase and is seemingly lost by way of a fire, Finch shows so much regret, and really doubts himself. Luckily, Root and Reece come to the rescue with a solution to fix the Machine and bring it back online. He even begins to call the Machine “her”, like Root, which shows that he may be seeing the Machine in a vastly different light.

Using 300 PlayStations (!!!), they create a super computer and use that to decompress the Machine and bring it back online. The episode ends with a computer screen blinking when Finch asks her if it knows who he is or if the Machine is even there. And yes, Finch now calls the Machine “her.”

I personally thought it would take all season to get the Machine back online, but they managed to bring it back in one episode. Person of Interest’s fifth season is off to a marvelous start, and as always, it’s Amy Acker who steals the show. The entire cast is great, but she has grown so much since her time on Angel as an actor and the character of Root is so interesting and so engaging. Her journey is the most dynamic of any character and it will be interesting to see how she evolves further. It will also be interesting to see if the Machine that is brought back is the Machine we all know and love, or if it has changed somehow, as Harold had hinted at as a possibility.

Person of interest’s fifth season’s first episode, B.S.O.D. was a fantastic start to the end of one of the best and most intriguing shows on television. Let’s just hope that the rest of the season is as strong as this episode.

The Ending of LOST was Perfection

The ending of LOST was one of the most controversial in television history. There was no middle ground; you either loved it or you hated it. The fact of the matter is that the ending of LOST was perfect. It not only fit the show and the themes that it had built up over six seasons, but it had a balance of being both character driven and had just the right amount of mythology. It was a deeply spiritual experience, and while that may not be for everyone, that doesn’t mean the ending was bad.

It only ends once. Anything that happens before that, is just progress.

LOST was the story of the life and ultimate death of Jack Shephard, and even the story of his life after death. It was his personal journey from being a man of science to being a man of faith. Life itself is a journey; it is full of struggle, it is full of loss, but it is also one of hope and one of finding oneself. Every character, every (or almost every) moment of LOST was to get Jack to the point where he accepts the Island and that he was brought there for a reason and that his life had a greater purpose. He is the most dynamic character in the show and the moment he accepts that he cannot die when he lit that fuse for Richard so that he could kill himself, and the moment he finally encounters the Man in Black, impersonating John Locke, he accepts the fact that Locke was right, about “almost everything.” He later tells Sawyer that they were all brought to the Island for a reason, a greater purpose, which further cements his character’s journey from the beginning of the show, where he wasn’t a believer, to the end, where he was. The ending of LOST shows Jack letting go and accepting his destiny, becoming the new protector of the Island in Jacob’s place.

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While many wanted more answers about the show’s mythology in the ending of LOST, it’s a double edged sword; if they gave more answers, the show would have lost its appeal. If they hinted at nothing though, it wouldn’t be LOST. So they kind of explained some things without really explaining them. Yes, it’s very roundabout and it makes you think, but it is so fitting for the ending of LOST. At its heart LOST has always been a character-driven show. It’s never been solely about the mythology; the mythology has only been a tool to help develop the characters. Even creator Damon Lindelof says his favorite aspect of the show is the character driven aspect of it. The ending of LOST is completely character driven. It is about these characters remembering their lives, realizing themselves, and there is no better example than that than both John Locke and Benjamin Linus. They both have moments of clarity and have a nice little moment towards the end. Jack, even in his afterlife, still struggles with letting go. Once he realizes he died though, he is finally able to let go and his memories of his life on the Island is one of the most powerful moments in all of LOST.

Sometimes you can just hop in the back of someone’s cab and tell them what they’re supposed to do. Other times, you have to let them look out at the ocean for a while.

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The ending of LOST is both perfect and fitting, as it’s about people trying to live their lives, despite how difficult it may be — these broken people trying to move through life despite the hardships they have encountered. It resonates with people so strongly because it mirrors us. We are constantly trying to find our place in the world and live our lives, despite the horrors, despite the struggle, despite the heartache we may encounter. Some may say the afterlife aspect of the show is convoluted, but I disagree. In my own head canon, the afterlife that the LOST characters live in the endgame of the show is only possible because of the Island. It is never quite explained, but quite honestly it doesn’t matter. The end of LOST focuses on the characters and how they’ve grown and developed over the course of six years, and that is all that matters. Why the “afterlife” exists doesn’t matter, but what does matter is the fact that it helps develop our characters and give them closure.

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LOST is the best series to grace television in years. So many shows have tried to emulate its mixture of the supernatural with its mix of character development on network TV but have failed miserably. The ending only cements LOST as one of the greatest television shows of all time.