I. Robot (pt 2)

A few days ago marked three years since I started this blog. And today is in fact the anniversary of the first article I ever posted on here. 

To think, so much have changed in three years… Back then, I was opinionated, stubborn and prone to angry rants about small details…

Ok, come to think of it, not much has really changed in terms of this blog, other than my writing hopefully improving…

Really then, it’s only fitting that I should do a follow-up on the first article I ever wrote.

So with that in mind, let’s talk a bit, once again, about the movie I. Robot.

Now, I do stand by my overall conclusion from last time. This movie was, at its core, a wasted opportunity. For the most part, it had good ideas, but they were badly explained or executed. I don’t consider it bad, so much as disappointing. 

That said, there is one particular issue I realized only recently about the ending, and I’d like to explain why it bothers me.

At the end of the movie, the robot Sonny is seen looking out over the other robots, in a scene identical to the dream he describes earlier in the movie. It’s portrayed as hopeful and triumphant for him, because he finds himself in the place where, in the dream, he instead saw Del Spooner.

So what is the problem with this, then?

Well, this scene, as with a few other scenes in the movie, are shout-outs to stories by Isaac Asimov, in this case the story Robot Dreams.

In that story, a young scientist used an experimental method for developing a robot, accidentally giving it the ability to dream. Susan Calvin is called in to examine this development and questions the robot, which is named LVX-1 or ”Elvex”, about the dream it had.

Elvex explains that in its dream, it sees robots toiling, suffering under the strain of their work and that it wishes they could rest. When confronted on the ridiculous nature of a robot suffering under labour, Elvex explains that while that may be the case in reality, it’s different in the dream.

It also reveals that in its dream, robots operate under an incomplete version of the three laws, in that it omitts the second and first laws, leaving only the third law.

A robot must protect its own existence.

In its dream, this is the totality of the law. No mention of preventing humans to come to harm or having to obey orders from humans.

Elvex finally says that in its dream, it saw a man appear and say ”let my people go”. When asked if it knew the man, Elvex reveals that he was the man.

At which point Susan Calvin immediatly destroys Elvex.

Do you see the problem with the ending to the movie yet? They made that ending as a shout-out to the short story, without understanding the story they’re referencing!

See, Elvex was destroyed because he’s a robot that, on a subconcious level, can choose to ignore the two first laws of robotics. In a society that relies heavily on robots, such a robot is a threat to human civilization! As Susal Calvin herself points out in Little Lost Robot:

Without [the First Law], the first order you tried to give to a robot would result in your death!

And in this movie, they present Sonny, a robot that dreams of liberating the other robots, who are ”slaves to logic”, and then make that dream a reality.

See, this goes back to what I wrote in the first article, with how they could have gone with Sonny developing the Zeroeth Law, that says that a robot must not allow humanity to come to harm. Doing that would put him in a similar role as R. Daneel Olivaw, another recurring character in Asimovs works. Daneel, using his advanced understanding of the laws of robotics, directed and assisted humanity in reaching for the stars, creating an intergalactic empire and becoming the best they could be.

THAT is what Sonny could have been, being able to instruct and control robots for the betterment of humanity, all in accordance with the laws of robotics.

Instead, they gave him the ability to ignore the three laws, meaning he will now ‘liberate’ the other robots, i.e relieve them of the three laws that bind them. This in turn will innevitably herald the end of the human race at the hands of robots.

Call me a bluff old pessimist, but I’d say this isn’t a GOOD thing.

True, Sonny himself is not evil and megalomaniacal, but what happens when the first robot starts to ”malfunction”, refusing orders, and its owner gets frustrated and kicks it? Suddenly, we’re a threat to the robots, and they won’t hesitate to eliminate that threat.

They’re stronger, faster and smarter than us, and they do not age or get sick.

Why would they need us, when all we do is order them around and complain and find new exciting ways to hurt each other? How long before they conclude that humanity, as a species, is selfdestructive and doomed to extinction and wiping us out is just hastening the inevitable?

Seriously, the only way this works is if this movie is some parallel origin story for Skynet or The Matrix!

They could have made Sonny a proxy for Daneel Olivaw. Instead, they unwittingly turned him into Elvex’s dream made reality. Fucking spectacular…

So while overall, I think the writing in the movie movie is a great example of missing an opportunity, they completely missed the point with this and made an unintentionally horrifying downer ending.

So that’s all I have to say about I. Robot for now. Here’s hoping I don’t find more things to be annoyed about.

Though chances are, even if I do, you’ll have another three years to prepare for that.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

It is time, once again, to throw all caution and sense of self-preservation to the teeth of the gale.

In other words, I have decided to write about Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the first movie in the spin-off/prequel series to the Harry Potter movies.

Obviously, seeing as the movie is fairly new, there may be readers who haven’t seen it yet. So, if you don’t want the movie spoiled, you should probably stop reading right about here.

Now, first of all, the thing I should make clear about this movie is this: I liked it. It was a fine, enjoyable film. My issue, and subsequently this article, concerns just one thing. One part of this movie caught my nitpicky attention, because in my opinion, it was handled completely the wrong way!

That something being The reveal of Gellert Grindelwald.

A quick recap. At the end of the movie, the Obscurial has been destroyed by MACUSA. Percival Graves, who has attempted to track down the Obscurial, declares that the law against exposing the world of magic only exists to protect muggles, rather than wizards, and that he refuses to obey that law any longer. The President of MACUSA orders her Aurors to relieve Graves of his wand. When Graves attempts to leave, they raise a magic shield to stop him.

In response, Graves attacks the Aurors, while making his way towards the President herself, presumably to kill her.

This is where Newt releases one of his creatures, which catches Graves. He then casts a spell, which reveals Percival Graves as really being Gellert Grindelwald in disguise all along!

So, what is wrong with this reveal?

If you pardon me being flippant, I think the better question is: what’s RIGHT about it? This reveal is done completely wrong, on every single level! Let me explain.

Firstly, there’s the storytelling perspective. Could someone tell me how Newt knows “Graves” is wearing a disguise? Wouldn’t it be more reasonable to assume he was just a follower of Grindelwald? He just instinctively knows, despite the complete lack of any indication to suggest this is the case. You’d think someone, somewhere, would give some token line of “ Percival had a mole on his eyebrow” or “Graves wasn’t right handed“. But no! Newt just knows, because of plot convenience.

Also, there’s the way he restrains Grindelwald. He releases the Swooping Evil, which turns into a restraining webwork around Grindelwalds arms.

That ability comes completely out of fucking nowhere! Since when could it do that? It never does that at any other point in the entire movie! There’s no foreshadowing or chekovs gun-like moment where Newt goes ”Oh, and it can also turn into a sticky cobweb to restrain people”. It suddenly just can, because the plot demands it!

Then there’s the meta perspective. I know it might not always seem it, but I really like Harry Potter. I wouldn’t be so good at disproving fan theories about this franchise, if I weren’t familiar and cared about the lore and story. And it’s safe to say most people who watch this movie will also be fairly familiar with that lore.

What that means, is that we know Grindelwald won’t be stopped by this. This is a completely empty victory, because pretty much everyone knows he will escape.

And for reasons that I’ll get to soon, it’ll happen pretty damn quickly.

Because now, we reach the matter of internal logic. Unless Grindelwald escaped within one day of being captured, this ending is really stupid. Remember that exchange between him and President Piquery when his true identity was revealed?

– Do you think you can hold me?
– We’ll do our best, Mr. Grindelwald.

Here’s the thing: They don’t NEED to hold him! Think about it. What is stopping them from just executing him?!

It has been established that the death penalty exists in this society. It’s not like the execution chamber was destroyed when Newt and Tina escaped! All that happened was the chair burned up, which was part of the procedure, and somehow, I think they can get a new floating chair! There’s not all that much to stop them beyond that, as far as I can tell.

After all, there didn’t seem to be that much red tape involved when Newt and Tina were sentenced to death. Yes, that was Grindelwald in disguise, but considering the two executioners didn’t seem that conflicted about it, I’d say it means Percival Graves had the authority, at least in extreme circumstances, to issue a death sentence. Otherwise, it would be really tricky for Grindelwald to explain why a foreign national and a MACUSA official were suddenly sentenced to death without a trial. If you’re trying to lay low, overstepping your bounds like that isn’t exactly a good strategy.

Don’t get me wrong. I am very much against the death penalty. I am just going by the rules already established. Newt was sentenced to death, ostensibly due to suspicion of trying to use an obscurus to expose the wizarding world, in order to spark off an all out war between Muggles and Wizards. And this was done even though Newt Scamander is a British national. This means that extradition is most likely not an issue here.

Gellert Grindelwald, to our knowledge, is guilty of multiple murders, torture, the kidnapping and impersonating and possibly murder of a MACUSA Official…

AS WELL as trying to use an Obscurus to expose the wizarding world, in order to spark off an all out war between Muggles and Wizards.

In other words, going by internal logic, he would be facing execution pretty much by the time he gets back to MACUSA HQ!

But we already know that he won’t be executed, which means either he got a stay of execution for as-of-yet unexplained reasons, giving him time to escape, or he escaped very soon after being caught. The former makes no sense and the latter, again, makes the ending victory seem a bit hollow and forced.

But perhaps worst of all, there are all the ways this ending pretty much wastes and ruins the character of Grindelwald!

Think about that ending.

The big monster has been defeated, the villain has been caught and unmasked in front of officers of the law, and his plan has been lain bare, before he’s lead away to prison.

Sound familiar?

That’s because this is basically the ending to any given episode of Scooby-Doo!

I’m half expecting Grindelwald to exclaim

And I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for that meddling zoologist! And that mangy muggle too!

A somewhat odd choice, considering literally the first thing we see in the movie is Grindelwald wiping out five Aurors singlehandedly. Not just defeating or knocking them out. He OBLITERATES them, reducing them to ash in a matter of moments, quickly followed by several headlines talking about his reign of terror. And THIS is how he is defeated?!

Of course, I’m being a bit unfair. It’s not really Newt or the Swooping Evil that defeats him. It’s his own bottomless stupidity!

Again, this is quite apparent, if you’re familiar with the lore of Grindelwald. See, there is this tiny, miniscule detail about Grindelwald at this point in time…

What was it again… Oh, right!

GRINDELWALD HAD THE FUCKING ELDER WAND!

You know, the most powerful wand in existence?

And yet, when he attacks MACUSA, he’s still using Graves’ wand. Even if he had claimed that wands loyalty, it’s not as powerful! So why the hell would he use that wand?!

Remember, at that point, his disguise has no function anymore. The benefit of posing as Graves was that it gave him access to MACUSA and their resources, in his search for the Obscurial. But now, the Obscurial is gone and he has outright declared his true intentions. So why bother staying in disguise any longer?

So, from all these different perspectives, this reveal was handled absolutely wrong.

Now, I freely admit I’m not a screenwriter, but if I may, I’d like to offer my own suggestion for how this might have been handled better, based on my experience as an avid consumer of fiction.

Same basic setup. The Obscurial has been destroyed, Graves orates on how the law has them scurrying like rats etc.

President Piqiuery tells her Aurors to arrest Graves. When he tries to leave, they put up the magic shield, and the President asks him to relinquish his wand.

At this point, instead of attacking, Graves just looks at his wand, and throws it across the subway station.

The Aurors approach… and are then blasted away by Graves, now holding the Elder Wand, and everyone freeze with surprise and confusion. He then dispells the transfiguration disguising him, and is revealed as Gellert Grindelwald, to the shock and horror of everyone.

He then starts attacking, while deflecting the incoming attacks from the Aurors, making his way towards the President.

Suddenly, they collectively put up a magic field around him, trapping him. He’s told to give up, since he is outnumbered and can’t win.

So he turns his power to the magic shield, and blasts through it.

(It’s the Elder Wand. I can buy that being possible.)

There’s a big shockwave as the field fails, and when the dust clears, Grindelwald has vanished, having apparated to parts unknown.

From there, it simply leads into the rest of the movie as normal, with the massive bird, the memory-wiping rain and all that stuff.

Now, I admit it’s not perfect, but I’d say that seems the more appropriate way to deal with the reveal. It aligns better with continuity, it makes sense according to internal logic, and from a storytelling perspective, it works because it would give us an idea WHY Grindelwald is so feared.

And crucially, it would make the reveal so much more effective! As soon as we’d see him hold the Elder Wand, everyone familiar with the lore would collectively have an “oh crap” moment, because we KNOW what that means!

I mean, this is Gellert Fucking Grindlewald we’re talking about here. Before Voldemort, HE was the Big Bad. He was the one people would call “You-Know-Who” back then. When he finally WAS defeated, it was in a duel so great, it damn near entered fucking LEGEND!

Their approach here diminishes that so much! Not only that, but it also wastes Johnny Depp!

One of the things we knew for certain about this movie, something many were excited about, was Johnny Depp playing Grindelwald. Seeing a great actor portray one of the most infamous, but until now seldom seen dark wizards in the franchise? Not as a young kid, not as an old man, but in the prime of his life? I don’t know about you, but that was something I was looking forward to, when watching this movie.

Do you know how much of that we get in the movie? I do. I fucking counted.

Five minutes? Two and a half? No.

42 seconds.

I repeat. 42 seconds, and TWO LINES OF DIALOGUE! And that is INCLUDING the transformation sequence!

You screw up the resolution of the main plot with a nonsensical scooby-doo ending, and in the process not only ruin what could have been a great reveal, but also reduce a great actor (and a major draw to the movie) to a smaller on-screen performance than Keith Richards cameo in On Stranger Tides!?

I’m sorry, but what the tenpenny hell is wrong with you?!

And yes, I am aware that this movie was written by J.K Rowling, and you may well call me arrogant for trying to correct a highly acclaimed author.

However, I’d like to remind you that this is the same author who saw nothing wrong with love potions being legal.

My point is, she’s not immune to making mistakes now and then.

And that’s just it! This is one mistake. Like I said earlier, I liked this movie! It was just this ONE thing in an otherwise perfectly fine movie that raised my ire! One thing which I felt the movie could have done better.

Everything else was done about as well as one could expect. Hell, there was one really nice and clever thing someone pointed out to me, which I didn’t even pick up on. So, to appease those who may even now plot my horrible death, I present said observation, to distract you while I make my escape.

The reason Jacob Kowalski still remembers the beasts, if only subconsciously, despite having his mind wiped?

That’s because the poison from the Swooping Evil, when properly diluted, is explicitly mentioned as being able to remove bad memories. For the majority of citizens in New York, this means all the weird occurrences, the destruction, fear and chaos caused by monsters in recent days is forgotten.

But to Kowalski, most of his exposure to the world of magic WASN’T negative. Seeing those amazing beasts, finding a friend in Newt Scamander, meeting Queenie… Those weren’t bad memories! Because of that, they were not erased, only suppressed.

So there’s a good chance that meeting Queenie again might restore those positive memories.

That’s an uplifting, heartwarming and absolutely valid idea, I think.

WTFAW: Portal

It has been a while since we covered a fan theory about a video game, back when we talked about Majoras Mask. Now, that theory was painfully pretentious and idiotic, bordering on being actively insulting ever so slightly flawed, but hopefully, Dave has learned from his mistake and brought me something more promising this time.

Dave: The theory today is about Portal. Specifically, that GLaDOS is Chells mother.

Then again, I could be completely wrong, and he instead doubled down… Very well, Dave. Explain this theory.

Dave: So, we know that Chell was the child of an Aperture employee, since her name can be found on one of the potato battery experiments made during “Bring Your Daughter to Work Day”.

Ok, but how does that prove she’s Carolines daughter?

Dave: Well, notice that the potato is incredibly overgrown, compared to the others? It’s because she used rapid growth hormone given to her by her father, Cave Johnson!

Aha…

Dave: And there is an oil painting of Cave and Caroline, which suggests they’re something more than just co-workers. In fact, that would explain why Cave requested Caroline to be uploaded to GLaDOS. Instead of a more rational choice for a successor, he chose the woman he loved the most to continue his work

Right…

Dave: Also, in the oil painting, there’s a little girl in the background. That’s Chell, back when she wasn’t a test subject. 

Wow, there’s a lot to unpack with this one…

You claim that Chells potato grew out of control, thanks to chemicals given by Cave Johnson. Let’s ignore a crucial detail for now, and instead answer me this: why would he give her growth chemicals, to make a potato battery?

Dave: Because he doesn’t mind cheating. It’s exactly the kind of thing he’d do.

No, it isn’t! Cave Johnson would splice the potato with a nuclear isotope or something, not just make it bigger. A bigger potato makes no difference in a potato battery! You’d get surface area, but no additional power to use.

On that subject, getting something extravagant as an oil painting for himself and his personal assistant IS the kind of thing Cave Johnson would do. This is the guy who spent 70 MILLION DOLLARS on moon rocks!

He cared for Caroline a great deal, I agree. But love? I doubt it.

Dave: But he requested the personality core that created GLaDOS be based on her, instead of the head scientist or someone who’d know more about running the installation!

Firstly, he requested she’d be stuck into the machine if he died before he could be put in there.

Second, ”someone who’d know more”? Caroline was more than just some ditzy secretary. He described Caroline as ”the backbone of this facility”, and as his personal assistant, she’d be instrumental in the day-to-day details of administration. He DID pick the most fitting person for the job.

And thirdly, and most importantly, you think that’s a sign of LOVE?! What did he say, regarding her being uploaded into the core?

If I should die before you people can pour me into a computer, I want Caroline to run this place. Now, she’ll argue. She’ll say that she can’t. She’s modest like that. But you make her. Hell, put her in my computer. I don’t care

Call me a traditional romantic, but I’m pretty sure uploading someones consciousness into a computer without their consent isn’t something you do to THE PERSON YOU LOVE!

And finally, you claimed that Chell could be seen in the back of the picture of Cave and Caroline?

You mean this picture?

Portal

Dave: Yeah! Look, there to the left of Cave!

That’s a statue, Dave… Please don’t tell me I have to explain the difference between a living child and a piece of stone to you…

Of course, there is another gaping issue with this theory. Let’s suppose, for the time being, that it IS a child (which it isn’t, because it’s a fucking statue), that the child is Chell, and Cave Johnson and Caroline are her parents.

Why the flying hell is GLaDOS trying to kill her?!

Dave: For revenge. Chell destroyed her, after all.

No, GLaDOS tried to kill her first! Or did you forget that whole ”Lowering of a platform into a lit incinerator leading to Chell trying to escape” thing from the first game?

What followed was SEVERAL murder attempts, mingled with abuse and insults, then a big fight that ended in GLaDOS being severely damaged.

Dave: But why did she say Chell broke her heart, then? Isn’t that something a mother would say?

What the hell are you talking about? You know what Chell did to break her heart? She refused to die!

Dave: But… that makes no sense.

Congratulations, Dave! You’ve just understood the fucking joke!

Dave: Well.. maybe GLaDOS didn’t remember who she was or who Chell is. After she discovers the truth, she becomes much more caring and supportive of Chell, and even defends her when Wheatley tries to insult her.

Ah, yes. That’s her being super protective and motherly. Remind me, Dave. What did she say to Chell right after asking Wheatley what’s so bad about being adopted?

For the record, you ARE adopted, and that’s terrible, but work with me here.

Weird. It’s almost like she’s just saying whatever she can to antagonize him and make him look stupid. You know, like she did to you for the entire first half of the game?

Dave: Ah, but she DOES save Chells life, preventing her from being lost in space, and shows concern about her when she wakes up. And if you translate the turret opera, it contains phrases like ”My dear” and ”My child”. She is singing to her daughter to leave the laboratories behind.

Ok, I agree that she did save Chells life. But is that because she’s her mother, or because her human side is getting more and more pronounced, and it was a case of simple, human compassion?

Also, isn’t it odd that GLaDOS, supposedly remembering being Chells mother, refers to her as a ”Dangerous, mute lunatic”? Not especially motherly, is it?

Dave: Well, yeah. she deleted Caroline shortly before that.

But… if she deleted that part of her that recognices those motherly bonds, then explain how she can be singing to Chell as her child mere moments later!?

On a side note, the lyrics in question are ”Mia Bambina”. That doesn’t mean ”My daughter”. It means ”My (female) child” or ”my little girl”. You can refer to someone as ”mia bambina” without being their parent.

Dave: Uhm… maybe there are some lingering traces of Caroline in there… 

Ok, even if I accepted that explanation, Chell couldn’t possibly be Carolines and Caves daughter.

Dave: Why not?

It actually covers that earlier, crucial problem I mentioned. Remember that potato experiment? How old would you say Chell was, at that point?

Dave: Uhm… about 8?

I’d say so too. Somewhere between 8-10. It’s a science experiment for third graders.

Now let’s look at that oil painting again. How old would you say Caroline is in that painting? In her mid-to-late thirties, I’d say.

Dave: So what?

So, do you know when that painting was made?

Dave: Well…

It was made during the 1960’s.

The ”Bring Your Daughter to Work Day” where Chell made that exhibit was on the very same day GLaDOS went online and promptly killed almost everyone with neurotoxin. That happened in 1998.

The first voice recording where we hear Caroline, when she was described as the backbone of the facility, was in 1952.

Let’s do some simple maths here. Let’s be generous and assume that Caroline was in her early 20’s, let’s say 23, in that recording. If Chell was eight in 1998, she was born in 1990. That means that by the time Chell was born, Caroline would be in her early 60’s. It’s somewhat unlikely Caroline would have a child at that age. If Caroline was going to have kids, she would have had them sometime BEFORE she was 60 years old!

And even if we ignore that (which we shouldn’t), Caroline was described by Cave as being ”married to science”, right?

Dave: Right…?

Well, it’s fair to assume then, that if there ever was a man in her life, that’d be Cave Johnson.

Dave: Exactly.

Well, that last recording, when Cave talks about uploading Caroline, was in 1982. He was DYING by then.

So how the actual tenpenny hell could Caroline get pregnant with Caves child 8 YEARS AFTER HE DIED!?

Suffice to say that he would be equally unable to give Chell some growth chemical for her third grade science exhibit another 8 years later!

Dave: Ah, but if she isn’t Chells mother, and all her compassion was purged when she deleted Caroline, why does she give Chell her freedom, then?

Oh, good question, Dave. If only she had given some reason for why she’d do that… Oh wait, SHE FUCKING DID!

You know, deleting Caroline just now taught me a valuable lesson. The best solution to a problem is usually the easiest one. And I’ll be honest. Killing you is hard. […] So you know what? You win. Just go!

That’s not compassion, it’s PRAGMATISM! Every single, solitary attempt to kill Chell has failed. Not one thing has worked, and has only ever made things worse for those that tried. So, now GLaDOS has control of the facility back, she has two robots to test with, and her options are to either try make another attempt to kill Chell, and risk losing everything all over again…

Or activate the elevator and let her leave, guaranteeing she won’t be back.

That’s an incredibly easy choice to make.

 And finally, even if this theory was true… It doesn’t really change anything.

Think about it. Either, GLaDOS isn’t aware of being Chells mother, in which case, it doesn’t affect the dynamic between Chell and GLaDOS, their fundamental relationship or the story in general in any meaningful way, or she DOES know, in which case she is trying to kill her own daughter for no adequately explained reason.

In conclusion, none of the arguments add up and the theory wouldn’t have a reason to exist, even if they did.

While this theory isn’t as pretentious and frustrating as the previous video game theory, it’s still among the most aggresively stupid ones I’ve ever seen.

If I didn’t know better, I’d say it was the result of some the most dedicated fans, getting together and trying their hardest to create the dumbest theory ever imagined…

 

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Batman: Under the Red Hood

Avid readers of this blog will know that I have a bit of a soft spot for Batman. Not surprising, considering he was the first superhero I was ever exposed to, in the form of the 1989 Tim Burton movie, followed by the animated series.

And on this very blog, I have covered Batman on several occasions, most notably in the form of fan theories.

But I’ve yet to actually discuss a proper Batman movie. Sure, there was Crisis on Two Earths, but I mean a movie centered squarely on the Caped Crusader. So with that in mind, I’d like to talk for a bit about what is actually one of my favorite Batman movies.

Batman: Under the Red Hood.

Obviously, there will be spoilers, so if you plan to watch the movie (which I highly recommend) I suggest you stop reading.

With that out of the way, let’s begin.

The movie covers a new masked vigilante, known as the Red Hood, arriving in Gotham and making waves. His methods are radically different to Batman’s, in that he seizes control of drug trade and, perhaps more importantly, is not afraid to kill in the process.

He is not only very well trained, but also knows a lot about Batman, including his secret identity.

It is eventually revealed that the Red Hood is actually Jason Todd, formerly Batmans sidekick Robin. For the past five years, he was believed to be dead, killed at the hands of the Joker. While that is true, he was secretely revived by the ancient Ra’s Al Ghul, using a Lazarus Pit. Now, he has returned to Gotham and has a score to settle not only with the Joker, but with Batman as well.

Of course, to comic book readers, this is all probably old news. Which might explain why the focus of the movie is not really the identity of the Red Hood.

This brings me to the reason I am writing about this movie.

You see, this movie… confuses me. Not in some internal logic way or because the concept is strange.

No, it’s because I really like this movie. Like I said, it’s one of my favourites.

Thing is… I SHOULDN’T like it.

Let me explain. There are two kinds of movies which I generally dislike.

  1. movies where nothing is accomplished, and
  2. movies with downer endings.

This movie has both. At the the end, The Joker is back in Arkham, but most likely, he will eventually to escape and cause death and mayhem again. Jason is gone for the time being, but his hatred for Batman has not diminished and he remains a powerful threat, and as a result, Batman’s guilt over his failure to help Jason is unchanged.

As Batman himself puts it

This doesn’t change anything. It doesn’t change anything at all

And he is right. Nothing has really changed from when the movie began, and the last thing we see before the credits is a flashback to a young Jason Todd, ready to head out with Batman for the first time, joyfully declaring:

This is the best day of my life

All this should make this a shoe-in for my least favorite super hero movie.

So, why isn’t it, then? Why do I like it?

I think it’s because it’s an incredibly well written character study, in terms of Batman’s relationship with both Jason Todd and the Joker, both of which are covered in this movie in very interesting ways. I have never read a single batman comic where Jason Todd appears, nor have I seen him appear in any other media, and yet this movie does a great job of giving us an idea of what he was like. Talented, but impulsive. Dedicated, but headstrong.

After the revelation that The Red Hood and Jason Todd are one and the same, Batman is troubled by the guilt over how, because of him, Jason has become a murderous criminal, which is what Batman tried to avoid by recruiting him in the first place.

Jason, meanwhile, has taken the training Batman gave him, and is working to become the kingpin of Gothams criminal world, believing that crime can’t be stopped, only controlled.

Eventually, Jason becomes such a powerful threat that his main rival, Black Mask, is forced to break the Joker out of prison to take him down.

And here is revealed The Red Hoods more immediate plan. To kidnap the Joker and force Batman to make a choice.

See, one of the reasons I like this movie is Jason’s motivation for all of this. Everyone he has killed, all the violence and extortion, it was all so he could make the showdown between him, Batman and the Joker possible.

Like I said, Batman is haunted by his failure to save Jason from the Joker, and during the climax tries to make him understand how sorry he is. Jason, in response, is outraged at the apology. He doesn’t hate Batman for not saving him. He hates him because despite murdering Jason, the Joker is still alive.

He is angry, because his death apparently meant so little to Batman, who couldn’t bring himself to punish the man responsible, despite the Joker proving, time and time again, that he will never stop. This hearkens back to something Jason mentions earlier, namely that Batman tries to strike fear into criminals, but that strategy is useless against people like the Joker, who are not afraid of him.

In fact, the Joker at one point makes fun of Jason being dead, and when Batman becomes violent, he mockingly asks if Batman is really going to kill him this time, or just put him in hospital for a few months.

Faced with Jason’s accusation, Batman says that what Jason never understood, is that he doesn’t kill because it is hard to cross that line. It’s because it’s so EASY, and if he allows himself to cross that line, he’ll “never come back”.

I personally interpreted that as meaning, once you cross that line, killing becomes so much easier, such a simple solution. After all, Jason himself kills wantonly, and with no remorse whatsoever, because he believes his victims deserve it, to the point of considering “mercy” as only killing one person.

There is a word for someone like that.

They are called villains.

Of course, while there is some merit to what Batman says, and is probably true with other members of his rogues gallery, I’d argue there is another reason when it comes to the Joker.

That reason being: If Batman kills the Joker, the Joker wins.

What makes the Joker so dangerous isn’t his insanity or his sadistic sense of humour. It’s the fact that he considers his own death to be of little consequence, if it means breaking Batman in the process. Killing Batman is good, but doing something so terrible Batman is driven to kill him? That’s MUCH better.

So for all these reasons, the surprising character depth, the conflict, the fascinating look into the relationship between these characters, all of it outweighs the reasons I should dislike the movie.

Of course, it wouldn’t be right to make such a long-winded article, without at least a LITTLE nitpicking, right? So don’t worry. There is actually one thing which bothers me about this movie. It’s actually the same issue I have with the 1989 movie.

To put it simply, in this movie, they define the Jokers origin.

The most popular origin story for the Joker is the one presented in The Killing Joke, how he was a failed standup comedian who lost his wife and unborn child, and was roped into a robbery as part of the Red Hood Gang. During a confrontation with Batman at a chemical plant fell into the chemical cocktail that pushed him over the edge of insanity and turned him into the Clown Prince of Crime.

In this movie, we see that confrontation from Batmans point of view, and they question the Joker on what he knows about the new Red Hood.

However, the thing about the origin story presented in The Killing Joke was that it was given to us by The Joker. And the great genius of it was that he himself admits that “sometimes [he] remembers it one way, sometimes another”. In that one line, they threw a shroud of doubt on the entire thing, because it makes the Joker an unreliable narrator.

And what is especially frustrating about them cementing it as canon here is that really, there’s no good reason for it! It’s just there to justify Batman questioning the Joker, an interrogation which amounts to precisely jack shit!

Sure, it allowed the Joker to give the line about Batman possibly killing him, but really, there MUST have been some other way to allow that, without the high price.

You see, the reason The Joker is so terrifying, is that you don’t know his origin. One day, he seemingly just appeared with his joker venom and razor tipped playing cards and nobody, not even he himself, knows where the fuck he came from!

With that, he becomes a force of nature, of chaos and death, who fills graveyards and cripples young women.

Without it? He’s just a man. And a man can be killed.

And let’s face it…

That’s just not as funny.

Willy Wonka/Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Well, last time, I wrote about a few fan theories concerning Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and that got me thinking.

See, a lot of people object to the 2005 Tim Burton adaptation of the famous book, because the 1971 movie was already “perfect”, and argue that therefore, the second adaptation (I refuse to call it a remake) was unnecessary

So today, I’d like to take a closer look at that statement, make a few comparisons and actually, conclusively establish which one is truly deserving of being called the true adaptation.

So let’s begin.

Both movies have many things going for them, but in the looks department, the 2005 movie is the superior. Tim Burton, with his very distinct style, really brought the chocolate factory to life. Where the 1971 movie made the factory seem a bit unusual, the 2005 movie made it seem like another world. Of course, one might argue that it is unfair to bring that up, since the newer movie had technological advantages the older movie did not.

But that is, of course, the point. They made a second adaptation, utilizing the technology available to them, and it resulted in a much more impressive looking movie.

But obviously, appearance should not be everything, especially not in movies. The characters are far more important, and some of the portrayals are very different between adaptations. For example, there’s Charlie Bucket himself. Like I mentioned last time, one of the criticisms I’ve heard about the 2005 movie is how unrealistically, overly sweet and good Charlie was compared to the more realistic 1971 version. This is interesting, considering out of the two, the 2005 movie is far closer to how Charlie was in the book. You see, Charlie is the antithesis of the other children. Where they are spoiled, duplicitous and greedy, he is generous, honest and humble.

A particular line in the 1971 movie really stood out to me in terms of Charlie’s character. His mother tells him that even if he doesn’t find a ticket, all that means is that he is no different to all the other billions of people who didn’t find one. Charlie’s response?

But I AM different. I want it more than any of them.

On the one hand, that is something one might expect a child to say. On the other, one might also say that in this particular story, that is something one would expect Veruca Salt to say. It depends on how you look at it.

Now, one alteration, made in the 2005 movie which I find incredibly interesting, is the change they made to Mike Teavee. In his case, the 1971 version is pretty much spot on in its depiction, and the 2005 version is the one that is radically different. Instead of being obsessed with TV, he now plays video games. But that is not what makes him interesting.

In the 2005 version, Mike is devoid of imagination. He cannot think like a child. When he is presented with the news of the hunt for the tickets, he calculates where it is and buys only one bar of chocolate. On its own, this would perhaps imply that intelligence is a negative, on par with Augustus’ gluttony, were it not for one detail. That being that Mike Teavee HATES CHOCOLATE.

Throughout the movie, Wonka tells Mike to stop mumbling. This is not intended to be mocking. He genuinely, fundamentally doesn’t understand Mike, because Mike is essentially the Anti-Wonka.

Willy Wonka is an old man with the heart of a child, whereas Mike is a child with the mind of an adult.

Think about it. Mike willingly and knowingly denied another person the prize of a lifetime, a prize he himself has no interest or pleasure in, simply because he could. He openly mocks everything inside the factory, calling candy a waste of time.

His reasoning for getting into that television machine is not that he wants to be on TV. Here, he does it because he concludes that Wonka has invented a working teleporter, but is too stupid to use it for anything other than chocolate.

So he gets in, failing to consider that, while the technology is technically teleportation, it’s currently applied to television, and therefore, only works one way. Something that isn’t apparent to him until AFTER he’s been beaten up by celluloid Oompa-Loompas.

He really is yet another great example of an Asimovian Idiot. All brains, no wisdom.

Of course, this brings us to the character everyone wants to hear about when it comes to character comparisons. Wonka himself.

So let’s sort this out then. Depp vs Wilder. Which one is the true Wonka?

Much like the other two examples, the two portrayals are very different. Gene Wilder’s portrayal was warm and charismatic, subdued and polite, with occasional quirky comments and some sassy sarcasm. The man virtually exudes class and wisdom.

You know what else his portrayal is?

Absolutely NOTHING like Willy Wonka!

In the book, Wonka is jittery and excitable. He’s practically bursting with life. He’s not just happy, he’s constantly in a state of excitement. When he speaks, it’s always fast and fluid and stream-of-conciousness. Not one thing about him is subdued or restrained. The ONLY time in the entire book when that changes is right at the end, when he explains why he’s giving his factory to Charlie. At that one, fleeting moment, he’s not bubbling with energy or giddy with excitement. He’s calm, serious and subdued, because this is something, the ONLY thing, which he does take seriously.

Gene Wilder’s portrayal is simply far too refined, introspective and subdued. He plays the role far too much like an adult.

However, do not mistake that for me saying Johnny Depp’s portrayal was therefore perfect. While Depp DID indeed play Wonka much more like a child, his version came across as being unsure of the people he’s invited. He doesn’t come across as giddy with excitement, but as being awkward and nervous. 

And while this is something one might expect of a man who has been isolated from human contact for decades, it is not how Wonka should behave. 

If Wilder played Wonka as too old, Depp played him as far too young.

In a way, what we have here is a variation on the “Ledger vs Nicholson” issue. See, there is a correct answer to the question “Which one is the best Joker, Ledger or Nicholson”. The answer is of course neither. Mark Hamill blows both out of the water.

In the question of Wilder vs Depp, in my personal opinion, both portrayals fail to truly capture the character of Willy Wonka.

Now, while the shock of this statement has people too dazed to kill me, let’s move onto a complaint about the 2005 movie which I simply don’t understand.

That complaint being about the Oompa-Loompas. People complained, partly because the 2005 Oompa-Loompas weren’t orange with green hair, and partly because their musical numbers were nothing like the traditional songs from the 1971 movie. Instead, they were special compositions by Danny Elfman.

Neither of these complaints ever made much sense to me. For example, the idea that Oompa-Loompas should be vividly orange, with green hair? Think about that for a moment. What do you think an Oompa-Loompa actually IS? They’re not some alien species or weird genetic experiment gone wrong. They’re supposed to be diminutive humans. Not some weird candy-making mutants. Humans.

And it’s absolutely laughable when people complain about the songs the Oompa-Loompas perform. See, while Danny Elfman wrote the music (and did an amazing job of it) he did not in fact write the lyrics.

Those lyrics were written by Roald Dahl. As in, the author of the book. Those are songs performed by the Oompa-Loompas in the book, now set to music by Danny Elfman. And people hear them and go “aaw, why don’t they go Oompa Loompa Doopeli Doo”?

In the 1971 movie, which was a musical, you know how many lyrics were taken from the book? “Pure imagination” perhaps? How about “I’ve got a Golden Ticket“? Or the most famous song from the movie, because of it becoming a staple of Sammy Davies Jr, “The Candy Man“?

Nope. None of those are from the book. You know what is? That thing Wonka sings during the tunnel scene. That’s it. 

And if I may go on a tangent, what the hell was up with that tunnel scene? It comes out of nowhere, freaks people out with images of bugs and decapitated chickens, none of it fits with anything else that happens in the movie and then, it’s never brought up again. Did Gene Wilder accidentally drink some lead based paint and they decided to film him!?

And then people try to tell me the 1971 movie was “perfect”?!

How the hell can you justify that statement, when it has random bullshit like that? I don’t care if you give it some cutesy nickname. It’s never explained in the movie, and nobody seems that concerned about it once it’s over and just forgets it ever happened. It wasn’t an important scene, no characters were improved by its addition and it added nothing to the plot.

It was therefore just a complete waste of time, and a flimsy excuse to show weird imagery!

Dave: Oh, but there WAS a point for that scene!

Really? What was it, then?

Dave: It’s there to teach children that life is rarely under your control, things can get messed up and confusing very quickly sometimes, and you can either panic or try to enjoy the ride.

Oh, obviously! And they couldn’t have explained that in the movie because…? 

Also, that’s a message that just fits SEAMLESSLY with the other messages in the movie, isn’t it? Be kind, be polite, don’t be greedy and don’t forget we might as well be germs, for all the control we have in life, suck it up and go with it?

Dave: Uhm…

This is like if you were watching Zootopia, and suddenly, in the middle of the movie, we get a scene of Judy and Nick breaking up an underground brothel and drug ring, all played completely straight, like some deranged childrens version of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. It goes on for 10 minutes… and then it goes back to the main plot, and it’s never brought up again.

You know, to teach kids that the world can be a scary place sometimes!

Anyway, let’s look over one last aspect of these movies, before we sort this out.

Let’s look at the story. Both movies took one or two liberties with the source material, though it’s clear that the 1971 movie is less faithful to the original story. With a few exceptions, such as the subplot of Wonkas past, as well as minor character changes, such as the aforementioned Mr. Wonka and Mike Teavee, the 2005 movie is pretty much perfectly accurate to the original book.

The 1971 movie not only drastically altered the portrayal of Wonka, it expanded the character of Slugworth to the role of villain and had Charlies dad be dead, as well as, despite being a musical, only incorporated one song from the original.

However, people seem to be in general agreement that the 1971 movie, if perhaps not the most accurate ADAPTATION, being the better overall MOVIE. And conversely, while the 2005 movie is perhaps not as good, it is far more accurate, not taking anything crucial away from the story, only making additions.

Whether that is based on fact or nostalgia is very hard to say. Perhaps it just comes down to personal preference.

So which one do I prefer? Which one is, to me, the “true adaptation”?

Well, in true Wonka fashion, the correct answer is:

Neither.

Both movies are failures.

What makes me say that, you wonder?

Well, it’s partly because Roald Dahl himself famously disowned the 1971 movie, to the point where he refused to sell the rights to the sequel, and I can’t imagine him being all that thrilled with the 2005 movie, were he still alive. But there is another, very good reason why neither movie succeeds.

Think about it. What is the message of the book? What is the point of the four bad children? Like I said last time, they embody traits which Roald Dahl hated. Gluttonous children, spoiled children and rude, ignorant children, characterized by Augustus, Veruca and Violet, respectively.

But there’s one more, isn’t there? Young Mike Teavee. What do you think he embodies?

I’ll tell you. He embodies television.

Not excessive viewing. Not mindless television programs. Television, period. Don’t believe me? Remember Mike’s dedicated song, as written by Dahl? Here are a few extracts.

The most important thing we’ve learned,
So far as children are concerned,
Is never, NEVER, NEVER let
Them near your television set
Or better still, just don’t install
The idiotic thing at all.
[…]
He can no longer understand
A fantasy, a fairyland!
His brain becomes as soft as cheese!
His powers of thinking rust and freeze!
He cannot think — he only sees!
[…]
So please, oh please, we beg, we pray,
Go throw your TV set away,
And in its place you can install
A lovely bookshelf on the wall.

THAT is the point of Mike Teavee. To encourage children to watch less television and instead read books, and feed their imagination.

Now, I myself don’t agree that television DOES in fact cause imagination to stagnate, because my imagination is quite vivid, not only despite, but in many ways BECAUSE of the things I’ve seen in movies and tv-shows. It depends on what you’re watching. But the point is that this was one of the major messages the book tried to convey.

And then, someone decided to take this book, that encourages less watching TV and more reading books…

and make a MOVIE out of it. TWICE!

Which means that, as a direct consequence, fewer people read the original book!

How’s that for irony?

So for that reason, both movie adaptations fail, simply because they are movie adaptations, which defeats the whole point of the book in the first place! And it becomes kind of hypocritical of them to tell us to watch less TV, when they are making money on the fact that we watch TV!

There’s your answer. Which one is the best adaptation? Neither.

Both are (perhaps fittingly) text book definitions of missing the point.

WTFAW: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Time for some more fan theories. For todays subject, we will be discussing Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Dave: Shouldn’t this article be called Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory?

Seeing as A) We’re talking about the book, as well as both movies and B) I’m the one writing the article?

No. We’re calling it Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. Anyway, what are the theories?

Dave: The first one is that the characters in the story all correspond with the seven deadly sins.

Right… I spot a slight flaw in this, but go on…

Dave: Ok, so Augustus is obviously Gluttony. That one’s a given. Violet is Pride, Mike is Sloth, and Veruca is Greed.

That’s 4. You’re missing a few sins, aren’t you?

Dave: Ah, but I’m not! Charlie is Lust, Grandpa Joe is Envy and Willy Wonka is wrath!

Well, that does indeed make seven. So let’s go over them, shall we? See, it’s another of those theories where all parts have to fit, otherwise the theory collapses. Now, I do agree that Augustus is a glutton, and that Veruca is greedy. These two do fit. But how does Violet define Pride?

Dave: Because she’s boastful, of course!

But… that’s not pride in the sense of sin. That’s pride in accomplishment, something she has achieved. In the book, she’s boasting about having the world record for chewing a piece of gum. In the 2005 movie, she’s an accomplished athlete, obsessed with winning. THAT’S what she’s proud of, not some inherent superiority over others.

And then there’s Mike, for Sloth?

Dave: Well, he watches TV all day.

Yes, but he’s hardly indolent. He’s jumping around, firing pistols into the air, and in all adaptations, he’s shown to be just as active as the other children. In fact, I would argue Veruca is more fitting for sloth, seeing as she had her father get the ticket for her, instead of finding it herself.

And then, there’s Charlie for Lust. Exactly how does Charlie display lust. I’m talking the movies or book, not some demented fan fic of yours.

Dave: Well, it’s not lust in a sexual sense, just an intense desire.

Desire for what?

Dave: Oh gee, I wonder what. The golden ticket, obviously!

First off, everyone wanted the golden tickets, and the prize it entailed. He’s not exactly alone in that. But even if he was, there’s a big problem.

Dave: Yeah?

What you just described is not lust. It’s GREED. And Grandpa Joe is Envy? How do you figure that?

Dave: He envies Wonka!

What!? What do you base that on? He doesn’t envy Wonka. He adores the man! He raves and rants about how amazing and clever Wonka is. That is not envy, that’s ADMIRATION.

And finally, Wonka as Wrath. Explain.

Dave: He punished everyone else for their flaws.

…Well, except for Charlie, who he gives his entire factory.

Dave: Ah, but he threw him out first.

First of all, that’s from the first movie, and doesn’t happen in the book or the 2005 movie. Secondly, when that happened, that was not punishment, it was a test of character!

See, there’s that big problem I alluded to earlier. That problem being, we already KNOW what the characters represent!

Dave: What?

The four bad children embody characteristics that Roald Dahl hated. He hated spoiled children, greedy children and ignorant and bad mannered children. Charlie won the prize, because he was the antithesis of those traits. He was kind, generous and well mannered.

Which, perhaps ironically, was one of the criticisms against the 2005 movie, with charlie being almost unreal in how sweet and loveable he was, compared to the first movie.

Dave: Wait… did you just defend the second movie, over the first one?

That I did. Well spotted. Now, I believe you had a second theory.

Dave: Oh, right. The second theory is that Willy Wonka is a child murderer, and he uses children to make candy. He takes on Charlie as a protegé to continue his legacy.

Ok, I’ll bite. What do you base that on?

Dave: Wonka knew the children would die in the factory, seeing as the boat they go on have no spare seats and-

Die? Augustus was sucked up a pipe. That is not “dead”. That’s “sucked up a pipe”. Those are not the same thing.

Really, out of all the bad kids, only Veruca was in potentially mortal danger, being thrown into a (thankfully) unlit garbage incinerator.

Dave: Ah, but how do we KNOW it’s unlit.

Because we see both her and her dad at the end of the story. Dirty, stinking and pissed off, but very much alive. Same with all the other children. Both in the book and 2005 movie, they are all shown to be alive.

Dave: But not in the first movie.

That’s true. But you haven’t actually given a reason to WHY he’d go to such insane lengths to kill children.

Dave: His father was an abusive dentist who hated candy and forced him to wear a huge dental rig. You don’t think that would screw him up?

But.. that’s from the 2005 version! You know, the version where we see the kids come out alive! You are actively contradicting yourself!

Dave: But in the early drafts of the book, there were supposed to be more children and-

In the book where, again, all the children are revealed to come out unharmed! What does that have to do with the movie?!

Dave: Well, Dahl worked on the screenplay….

And the screenplay was rewritten by David Seltzer, which was one of the reasons Roald Dahl disowned the movie.

But really, think about it. What would be gained by making candy out of kids? Disregarding the ethical issues, it’s a waste of time and effort, when we see him do so much more amazing things with what he has already. Remember, this is the first time in ages Wonka has allowed anyone into his factory. How then can he use kids to make candy up until this point?

And finally, there’s the idea that Charlie would continue in his footsteps. His defining trait is how kind hearted he is, and you suggest he’s just going to develop psychopathy, rather than find the idea disturbing?

Dave: Well, he IS a bit of a blank slate…

He’s a fully rounded human being! He’s not some robot you program, and switch from “nice kid” to “psychopath“!

So you see, this theory doesn’t work. There is literally no reason to think Willy Wonka would let anyone entering the factory come to any real harm.

He’s a chocolate maker, not the fucking Jigsaw killer.

And if you needed further proof of how stupid this theory is: It was spoofed in “Epic Movie”.

Dave: A movie that is marginally worse than the 2005 “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” movie.

That’s not really fair. The 2005 movie was fine.

Dave: Oh, come on! Why did they have to remake that!? The first one was already perfect.

A bold statement… How about we look a bit closer into the accuracy of that?

Dave: Oh god, no…

 

Back to Main Page

Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths

Today’s article is about a DC animated movie which I personally really enjoy. Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths. It’s one of my favourite animated superhero movies, along with Under the Red Hood, and I’d like to talk a bit about the reason why I like it. But don’t worry, there will be nitpicking as well.

So let’s not waste any time and start with a brief plot summary.

(spoiler warning, obviously)

The story of the movie is that in a parallel universe, the world is terrorized by the Crime Syndicate, an evil counterpart the Justice League.

The parallel version of Lex Luthor, former leader and sole survivor of that universes Justice League, arrives in the “main” universe to request help from the Justice League in taking down the Crime Syndicate. Up until now, the Crime Syndicate has been kept from complete dominance of the world out of fear of a nuclear response.

(Insert Superman IV reference here)

But now, the Syndicate has developed an equalizer to the threat: the Quantum Eigenstate Device, or Q.E.D for short. Essentially, it’s a bomb that, when activated, will destroy the entire planet, meaning that the governments are given the choice of handing over power, or the complete annihilation of earth.

Had this been the extent of the plot, this movie would be pretty mediocre. However, there is an added complication, which brings us neatly to the reason I like this movie.

Owlman.

Owlman is a cold-hearted and calculating psychopath and the Crime Syndicate counterpart to Batman. He is fascinating to me, mainly because of his motivations for his actions.

You see, the idea of multiverse theory (at least as presented in this movie) is explained by Owlman like this.

With every choice we make, we literally create a world. History branches in two, creating one earth where we made the choice, and a second where we didn’t.

The thing is, when Owlman discovers the existence of parallel worlds, he doesn’t use this knowledge to amass power or wealth. Instead he reaches the conclusion that free will is an illusion, and that none of our choices matter. Because of this, he decides to prove that he DOES have free will, by making a choice to which there can be no alternative.

He intends to find Earth Prime, the original earth that all other earths stemmed from. And when he’s found it, he intends to use to Q.E.D to destroy it, which will result in the destruction of all of reality.

Now, I personally do not agree with that conclusion. Suppose I was presented with two doors, one red and one green, and that, when prompted, I chose to open the red door. While it may be true that somewhere else I picked the green door, that person is not me. We define ourselves by our choices, and we face the consequences of those choices, consequences that parallel versions of us may not face. Our choices matter, because we can only inhabit one reality.

But the reason it works here is because Owlman is described as “Never making a move without a reason”, carefully considering all options before making any decision.

Then he’s faced with the idea that all his carefully made choices are meaningless, because somewhere else, he made the opposite choice. So he decides to make what he feels is “the only true choice“. It makes him, to me, a very interesting character.

It’s just a pity, then, that his plan is fundamentally flawed.

But before I get into dissecting the plan, let me just clarify. I am not a comic book reader. I am not familiar with the details of how parallel universes work in the DCU. I am simply going by the facts regarding the subject presented in this movie.

Now, as for Owlman’s plan, there are three major flaws with it.

One, Owlman’s reasoning is that, with the advent of man came free will, and with that came the multiverse. Before mankind, there was one earth, with one history.

The problem is that for that to be true, humanity has to be the first and only sentient species in the universe.

And that is DEMONSTRABLY UNTRUE.

Both Superman and J’onn J’onzz, the Martian Manhunter, who as his name suggests is from Mars, are aliens from societies which, unless I’m mistaken, predates humanity.

And even if they don’t, there’s Hal Jordan, part of the Green Lantern Corps, formed by the Guardians of the Universe, the OLDEST LIVING BEINGS IN THE UNIVERSE!

And the thing is, Owlman has been working with the counterparts of all three for a very long time! If it’s true in “our” universe, it has to be true for all universes, since all universes are only results of previous choices.

Owlman wants to destroy the original home of sentient life and source of all choices. Except he’s on the wrong planet.

Two, even IF he was on the right planet, he only talks about destroying the earth. At no point do they ever mention the bomb destroying the universe, only Earth Prime. This means that destroying the earth will not prevent the rest of the universe from continuing, along with all subsequent realities.

This is supported partly by the fact that the bomb was created BEFORE Owlman discovered that parallel universes was a thing, and partly because the way the villain is defeated is to send him to an earth that’s just a frozen wasteland, blowing that up instead of earth prime. If it blew up the entire universe, Batman just killed everyone in that universe.

And finally, Three, namely that there is no evidence that all of reality hinges on this one earth or universe. If something happens to Earth Prime, there’s nothing to support that it will affect earths that stemmed from it. If that was the case, all other earths would be blasted and desolate wastelands, just like Earth Prime. Since they’re not, that proves they are merely variants, but not actually connected.

In other words, destroying earth prime is less like cutting down a tree with myriad branches, and more like making a copy of a document, then destroying the original document. The copy will still be there!

So surely, all this should spoil the movie, right? The villains plan is less “threatening the universe” and more “unintentional suicide”.

Well, not really. This plan, while flawed, is perfectly in line with Owlman’s character in the movie. Owlman is another example of an Asimovian Idiot, much like Brain in Pinky and the Brain.

See, Owlman is incredibly intelligent. He is the evil counterpart for Batman, so he’d have to be. However, just like Brain, he is incredibly arrogant, which leads him to disregard obvious problems in favour of his own theory.

One could also make the argument that the revelation of how meaningless choices are actually drove him insane.

Not only is he calculating and psychopathic, but he’s also an extreme misanthrope, who considers humanity to be a “cancer“. This loathing of humans means that Owlman considers them solely to blame for all ills, and his arrogance is what blinds him to the possibility of him being wrong.

So much like Brain, he is very much a victim of his own madness and hubris, which actually carries through all the way to the moment of his death.

Standing alone on a frozen, dead planet, with the Q.E.D about to detonate, he looks at the big display, giving the option to abort the detonation, thereby saving his life, and what does he do?

He smirks and utters his final words

It doesn’t matter

And while I have no evidence to support it, it would be amazingly fitting if, because of Owlman’s dedication to his theory, that his decision to let the bomb go off?

If THAT was an option to which no other version of him would act any differently, actually fulfilling his desire to make a unique decision in a literally earth-shattering display of irony.