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  1. #61
    Extraordinary Member Revolutionary_Jack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Agent Z View Post
    Good video.

    But if I am being honest, I think there needs to be a backlash to the backlash to the grimdark era.

    Rightly or wrongly, the grim dark era and the deconstruction of superhero genre provided the newest and most defining ideas that the superhero genre had back in the '80s, and nothing since then has succeeded in proportion and reaction to what came before. There has never been an anti-Watchmen as good as Watchmen.

    Everyone is shadowboxing Alan Moore because there's never been another writer of the same measure who came in and made the genre his since then. Sure there have been top selling superhero stories and so on. But not much.

    I don't think there's anything truly harmful or wrong at taking a politically critical and satirical look at the superhero genre, and to my mind, it would be far worse to see less of it.

  2. #62
    Incredible Member OopsIdiditagain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zelena View Post
    The current China political regime, communist? In name only, then… rather State capitalism.

    It’s true that the lack of freedom and invasion of privacy is rather well accepted. So maybe they feel free.
    China is a socialist country.
    december 21st has passed where are my superpowers?

  3. #63
    Astonishing Member JackDaw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OopsIdiditagain View Post
    China is a socialist country.
    It’s a really strange mix...but certainly the profit motive is incredibly strong, but equally much more emphasis is put on societies overall good than individual freedom.

    I think it’s misleading to try to understand it by putting a single tag on it whether “state capitalism”, “socialist”, or anything else.

  4. #64
    Astonishing Member The Kid's Avatar
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    That quote in the OP really makes me want to watch The Boys
    DC, hurry up and make your own version of Marvel Unlimited!

  5. #65
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    Quote Originally Posted by Revolutionary_Jack View Post
    Care to elaborate on this? This does sound interesting and at the very least, new. There have been leftists who have made cases for superheroes like the writer Alan Grant is an anarchist-leaning writer who saw Batman as representing an essentially anarchist perspective.
    Generally speaking, superheroes tend to use their talents and skills for helping people without being compensated for it (Superman being the best example of this since he is the prototypical superhero). It's a similar role in society to the one that socialists advocate for, which is a world where everyone does what they are good at/what they love and that way we all benefit from one another, or "From each according to their ability, to each according to his need" as the saying goes.

    There are some that would argue that superheroes are treated inherently "better" than other people, but that argument is flawed. Again, it depends on the story and superhero (especially since "superhero" is becoming more and more of a vague word - there are people now who consider Zorro, Conan, etc. to be superheroes), but generally speaking that's not the case. Clark Kent and Peter Parker generally aren't treated as "better" than their wives or supporting cast because they're superheroes. The stories might often treat them as better at one or two specific things (science, kicking ass, etc.) but that's a far cry from arguing that they're inherently better/superior people. It is a myth that socialists don't believe in "greatness" or in people being superior at certain things - socialists just don't think anyone is inherently better overall and deserves to oppress others.

    Even in the case of a more egotistical superhero like Iron Man...first of all, Iron Man and (sometimes) Batman aren't good examples of why superheroes are inherently fascist because they were both imagined as deviations from the "norm" of what it means to be a superhero. Your average superhero doesn't have the wealth or authoritatian streaks those characters often have. But more importantly...even Iron Man's stories a lot of the time are about the opposite of fascism. Iron Man's entire 11-year MCU character arc is about him overcoming his superiority complex, which is what ultimately separated him from Thanos and why he won. A long story-arc like that flies in the face of superhero messages being inherently fascist.

    I recommend Grant Morrison's talks on superheroes for a good alternative view to Moore's. Morrison is an anarchist like Moore but has a much more positive view of superheroes. I don't agree with everything he about certain characters, but I think he understands the appeal of superheroes better than any other current writer working.

    I agree that there's consequences ceding ground to fascism in genre culture wars. If we keep insisting the superhero genre is fascist, the side effect is that fascists can appropriate superhero imagery and other concepts for their own ends...and it would give them powerful tools. So on that respect I agree.

    At the same time, it can be argued that it's problematic that the superhero genre and its codes have become so dominant culturally and financially, that they have taken this level of importance over other forms of genre more suited. The superhero genre as a whole are wrapped in capitalism, with the IP held by big corporations, outliving its original form (comic books the least lucrative vertical for these characters) but expanding outwards into other mediums like TV, Movies, Internet, Social Media and so on...and kind of dominating that at the expense of alternatives. On the level of being a hypercapitalist entity, superheroes can be said to take on authoritarian and fascist leanings, especially given how important China is to the global Marvel output and how MCU tailors its products to avoid offending Chinese censorship. (Plus doing a Spider-Man comic where Parker Industries does business in China).
    I think the same can be said of all IPs under capitalism. I don't think this would be a problem if superheroes were public domain (or at least the problem would be significantly reduced).

    I also don't think it's a coincidence the best selling Hollywood IPs are superheroes, Star Wars, and Star Trek. Their ridiculous BO numbers always give me a bit of hope as it shows most people are interested in IPs with left-leaning messages than the more problematic stuff Hollywood puts out.
    Last edited by Kaitou D. Kid; 11-29-2020 at 01:50 PM.

  6. #66
    Extraordinary Member Revolutionary_Jack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kaitou D. Kid View Post
    Generally speaking, superheroes tend to use their talents and skills for helping people without being compensated for it (Superman being the best example of this since he is the prototypical superhero). It's a similar role in society to the one that socialists advocate for, which is a world where everyone does what they are good at/what they love and that way we all benefit from one another, or "From each according to their ability, to each according to his need" as the saying goes.

    There are some that would argue that superheroes are treated inherently "better" than other people, but that argument is flawed. Again, it depends on the story and superhero (especially since "superhero" is becoming more and more of a vague word - there are people now who consider Zorro, Conan, etc. to be superheroes), but generally speaking that's not the case. Clark Kent and Peter Parker generally aren't treated as "better" than their wives or supporting cast because they're superheroes. The stories might often treat them as better at one or two specific things (science, kicking ass, etc.) but that's a far cry from arguing that they're inherently better/superior people. It is a myth that socialists don't believe in "greatness" or in people being superior at certain things - socialists just don't think anyone is inherently better overall and deserves to oppress others.
    That's a pretty interesting argument. It's certainly true that Spider-Man and some of the more traditional Superman stories tend to have fewer issues and baggage than other stuff. Spider-Man is definitely the one hero who doesn't really have authoritarian stuff.

    I think the same can be said of all IPs under capitalism. I don't think this would be a problem if superheroes were public domain (or at least the problem would be significantly reduced).
    Agreed about the latter. Thanks to the Mickey Mouse Copyright Extension put forth by corporations, the scope of the latter happening any time soon is reduced, all to further corporate control. We'll see if Disney manages to get another extension come 2024, at which time Mickey Mouse is supposed to enter public domain.

    I also don't think it's a coincidence the best selling Hollywood IPs are superheroes, Star Wars, and Star Trek. Their ridiculous BO numbers always give me a bit of hope as it shows most people are interested in IPs with left-leaning messages than the more problematic stuff Hollywood puts out.
    I am skeptical about that, because a lot of these stuff are at best left-of-center but not really radical. The Batman movies by Chris Nolan, especially the third part is an anti-Occupy movie.

    It's important to remember that Capitalism has never been a real opponent to fascism. Mussolini and Hitler were pals with big industrialists. IBM and Ford had factories and subsidiaries operating in Nazi Germany even after US declared war on them. German corporations that collaborated with the Holocaust such as Siemens, Volkswagen, Adidas, and many many other iconic sports, electronics and automobile brands still have their corporate logo and prestige weathered through all that. If tomorrow, say Vladimir Putin's Russia takes over USA (really improbable but hear me out), and Putin installs the same kind of regime in USA that he has in Russia, do you truly believe that the Walt Disney Corporation or any other corporation will take a stance against the new Russian overlords. You can bet that you will have Spider-Man comics where say Kraven and Chameleon are now Ukrainian rather than Russian, you can have positive and even hagiographic portrayals of the Russian regime and so on. No American corporation has true loyalty to democracy or the US constitution, they are loyal to the bottom line and expanding their profits and maximizing it to the hilt.

  7. #67
    Astonishing Member PwrdOn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kaitou D. Kid View Post
    I think the same can be said of all IPs under capitalism. I don't think this would be a problem if superheroes were public domain (or at least the problem would be significantly reduced).

    I also don't think it's a coincidence the best selling Hollywood IPs are superheroes, Star Wars, and Star Trek. Their ridiculous BO numbers always give me a bit of hope as it shows most people are interested in IPs with left-leaning messages than the more problematic stuff Hollywood puts out.
    I don't think the success of superhero movies really has all that much to do with the political messaging though. They are mostly just successful because they have a broad enough appeal so that if you get a group of friends together, you're more likely to agree on watching the latest Marvel movie than on anything else. And really the subject matter isn't really political at all aside from trying to promote diverse casting, which has more to do with Disney wanting to expand their audience than any social agenda. The Dark Knight trilogy had the same kind of wide appeal and critical acclaim, all while pushing a pretty strongly pro-authoritarian message, something that most viewers barely picked up on in favor of just enjoying the action.

  8. #68
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    Quote Originally Posted by Revolutionary_Jack View Post
    I am skeptical about that, because a lot of these stuff are at best left-of-center but not really radical. The Batman movies by Chris Nolan, especially the third part is an anti-Occupy movie.

    It's important to remember that Capitalism has never been a real opponent to fascism. Mussolini and Hitler were pals with big industrialists. IBM and Ford had factories and subsidiaries operating in Nazi Germany even after US declared war on them. German corporations that collaborated with the Holocaust such as Siemens, Volkswagen, Adidas, and many many other iconic sports, electronics and automobile brands still have their corporate logo and prestige weathered through all that. If tomorrow, say Vladimir Putin's Russia takes over USA (really improbable but hear me out), and Putin installs the same kind of regime in USA that he has in Russia, do you truly believe that the Walt Disney Corporation or any other corporation will take a stance against the new Russian overlords. You can bet that you will have Spider-Man comics where say Kraven and Chameleon are now Ukrainian rather than Russian, you can have positive and even hagiographic portrayals of the Russian regime and so on. No American corporation has true loyalty to democracy or the US constitution, they are loyal to the bottom line and expanding their profits and maximizing it to the hilt.
    I have mixed feelings on the Nolan films. Rises especially is a lot more Conservative than people may have thought when it came out, and the surveillance scene in TDK hasn't aged well at all (it also doesn't fit - Batman is represents an idea just like the Joker does and isn't exactly the best analogy for the government or for the Bush Administration). But there are also a lot of leftist messages in BB and TDK that I think get overlooked. Nolan's Gotham in the first two films was essentially the Frank Miller Year One Gotham brought to life, where the mob runs the city like an Establishment and where corruption is just as big of a problem as the crime. I feel like that is something that even comic writers will forget a lot, that the problem in Gotham isn't just crime but also corruption. The Gotham in Year One is my favorite portrayal of the city for that reason. Frank Miller attacked the "Why doesn't Bruce Wayne just use his money to end crime?" question head on and made it clear why Gotham needs Batman. BB and TDK managed to bring all of that to life (IMO).

    As for IPs like superheroes and Star Wars being left of center, I think you're right but I don't think that matters as much as some may think. I mean, I'm always happy if my favorite IPs include more radical themes and messages in them, but ultimately the spirit is what counts. I don't view the spirit of an IP like Superman or Star Wars any different than, say, the spirit of the Bernie Sanders campaign even if it's technically left-of-center (I hope this analogy makes sense). Bottom line is that a lot of these characters (and their creators by extension) share a lot of the values I agree with because things like compassion and standing up to the powerful are so innate in most of us, even if most people don't immediately realize it.

    I also think it's a bit of a double standard when something gets dismissed just because it's not explicitly left-wing, but something being implicitly right-wing is considered problematic. For example, a lot of lefties consider James Bond problematic because of its implicit pro-imperialist themes (obvious things...the MI6 is treated as a force of good in the world, James Bond can do no wrong, etc.). Ok, that's a fair argument. But why does Star Wars then "not count" just because it's only implicitly anti-imperialist? Even though George Lucas was clear that he modelled the Rebels after the Viet Cong and the Empire after the US Army, and the themes there are implicit but obvious, some on the Left will both dismiss Bond and Star Wars. The problem with that is that if a negative implicit message is enough to count something as problematic, a positive implicit message is enough to count something as a force for good.
    Last edited by Kaitou D. Kid; 11-29-2020 at 08:03 PM.

  9. #69
    Astonishing Member PwrdOn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kaitou D. Kid View Post
    I also think it's a bit of a double standard when something gets dismissed just because it's not explicitly left-wing, but something being implicitly right-wing is considered problematic. For example, a lot of lefties consider James Bond problematic because of its implicitly pro-imperialist themes (obvious things...the MI6 is treated as a force of good in the world, James Bond can do no wrong, etc.). Ok, that's a fair argument. But why does Star Wars then "not count" just because it's only implicitly anti-imperialist? Even though George Lucas was clear that he modelled the Rebels after the Viet Cong and the Empire after the US Army, and the themes there are implicit but obvious, some on the Left will both dismiss Bond and Star Wars. The problem with that is that if a negative implicit message is enough to count something as problematic, a positive implicit message is enough to count something as a force for good.
    With Star Wars though, most people will watch it and equate the Empire with the Nazis or the British, and the Rebels with Americans, and whatever Lucas' intentions, he knew better than to explicitly code the bad guys as "us" and the good guys as the people we had just gotten done fighting. In fact, most Star Wars fans even now will fail to make the connection between the Rebels and the Vietcong, particularly as the series itself has become such a flashpoint in the modern "culture wars" and the most diehard fans seem decidedly on the wrong side of that.

  10. #70
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    Quote Originally Posted by PwrdOn View Post
    With Star Wars though, most people will watch it and equate the Empire with the Nazis or the British, and the Rebels with Americans, and whatever Lucas' intentions, he knew better than to explicitly code the bad guys as "us" and the good guys as the people we had just gotten done fighting. In fact, most Star Wars fans even now will fail to make the connection between the Rebels and the Vietcong, particularly as the series itself has become such a flashpoint in the modern "culture wars" and the most diehard fans seem decidedly on the wrong side of that.
    Most people probably don't associate any side with either. The idea of a group of rebels standing up to an empire is universal, and that is what appeals to them.

    I'm not sure how the Rebels and the Empire can even directly be compared to the Vietcong and the Americans since it takes place in an alternate universe. You can't do the space-opera element with Vietnam and the US. But the MU and DCU which take place in "our world" do direct comparisons like that all the time.
    Last edited by Kaitou D. Kid; 11-29-2020 at 08:30 PM.

  11. #71
    Ultimate Member Tendrin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kaitou D. Kid View Post
    Most people probably don't associate any side with either. The idea of a group of rebels standing up to an empire is universal, and that is what appeals to them.

    I'm not sure how the Rebels and the Empire can even directly be compared to the Vietcong and the Americans since it takes place in an alternate universe. You can't do the space-opera element with Vietnam and the US. But the MU and DCU which take place in "our world" do direct comparisons like that all the time.
    https://www.google.com/amp/s/nextsha...esistance/amp/

    It was during this interview when Lucas likened America to “the Empire” and the Việt Cộng to “the Resistance” in reference to the events during the Vietnam War.

    “The irony is that, in both of those, the little guys won. The highly technical empire — the English Empire, the American Empire — lost. That was the whole point,” Lucas says.

    Meanwhile, in an audio commentary on the 2004 re-release of “Return of the Jedi,” Lucas said that the Việt Cộng also served as his inspiration for the Ewoks, who used their primitive weapons to defeat invaders, according to History.
    I mean, Lucas has been really open about his iRL inspirations for Star Wars and what he drew from.

  12. #72
    Extraordinary Member Revolutionary_Jack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kaitou D. Kid View Post
    I have mixed feelings on the Nolan films. Rises especially is a lot more Conservative than people may have thought when it came out, and the surveillance scene in TDK hasn't aged well at all (it also doesn't fit - Batman is represents an idea just like the Joker does and isn't exactly the best analogy for the government or for the Bush Administration). But there are also a lot of leftist messages in BB and TDK that I think get overlooked. Nolan's Gotham in the first two films was essentially the Frank Miller Year One Gotham brought to life, where the mob runs the city like an Establishment and where corruption is just as big of a problem as the crime. I feel like that is something that even comic writers will forget a lot, that the problem in Gotham isn't just crime but also corruption. The Gotham in Year One is my favorite portrayal of the city for that reason. Frank Miller attacked the "Why doesn't Bruce Wayne just use his money to end crime?" question head on and made it clear why Gotham needs Batman. BB and TDK managed to bring all of that to life (IMO).
    In my view, there's one Batman movie with a radical and subversive spirit and that's BATMAN RETURNS where Michelle Pfeiffer's Selina Kyle offers a bold feminist interpretation and the film presents a critical view of Batman by refusing to center him. Catwoman has more screentime than Batman in that movie. It's the most anarchic, mean-spirited, and vicious take on the Batman mythos and Tim Burton had a level of freedom on that movie that no director before or since has had on a superhero movie. Well intentionally vicious (as opposed to Snyder's movies).

    Batman only ever works as anti-establishment when the story is centered around the villains. THE DARK KNIGHT is compelling whenever Ledger is on-screen. That speech he gives to Harvey in that hospital "That's part of the plan" was genuinely terrific as dialogue and as acting because in that moment, Ledger gets you to agree with Joker. The fact that Batman's villains are so interesting, entertaining, and at times more tragic and relatable than Batman himself is the saving grace, because that doesn't work with Iron Man either comics or movies well. LOGAN is also an interesting superhero film, politically. When that movie came out in 2017, it really evoked the Trump era...you know the bright future we all thought didn't happen. That found a mirror with the movie going with "mutants didn't inherit the earth after all" and it's a movie that really gets at the essence of capitalism in its drive to acquire and control and bottle nature and put all its resources on tap.

    I don't view the spirit of an IP like Superman or Star Wars any different than, say, the spirit of the Bernie Sanders campaign even if it's technically left-of-center (I hope this analogy makes sense).
    It sorta does. I get what you mean.

    I also think it's a bit of a double standard when something gets dismissed just because it's not explicitly left-wing, but something being implicitly right-wing is considered problematic.
    True enough. It's just that...well look back in the day we used to have real leftists who were popular artists. Charlie Chaplin was an anarcho-syndicalist who made really radical movies and his politics were way, way to the left and he was open about it. Sergei Eisenstein's The Battleship Potemkin, huge popular movie with a big global audience. In comics, back in the '50s before superheroes took over for good, you had EC Comics which were popular and did trailblazing stories critical of racism in America and so on. In the 1970s you had mainstream movies like The Godfather, Taxi Driver, Nashville, Apocalypse Now, Straw Dogs among many others.

    Now all we can hope for in mainstream media for radical voices is some scraps tossed here and there.

    The big alternative to superheroes is YA fantasies like Hunger Games and Harry Potter. The latter especially flirts with a lot of anti-establishment stuff but the hero is still a trust-fund rich kid who ends the series owning a slave, and is presented as some kind of good guy despite that.

    For example, a lot of lefties consider James Bond problematic because of its implicit pro-imperialist themes (obvious things...the MI6 is treated as a force of good in the world, James Bond can do no wrong, etc.). Ok, that's a fair argument.
    The other big problem with those movies is misogyny. The original books were basically MRA screeds dressed as action and the movies believe it or not toned it down but even then it still continues going forward.

    But why does Star Wars then "not count" just because it's only implicitly anti-imperialist? Even though George Lucas was clear that he modelled the Rebels after the Viet Cong and the Empire after the US Army, and the themes there are implicit but obvious, some on the Left will both dismiss Bond and Star Wars. The problem with that is that if a negative implicit message is enough to count something as problematic, a positive implicit message is enough to count something as a force for good.
    With Star Wars, the politics is always wonky because we never get a sense of real class dynamics in that world. There's a bunch of interesting posts about the politics (mostly focusing on the prequels but also the OT) on tumblr (https://julianlapostat.tumblr.com/po...-wars-prequels) that talks about it. Like take A NEW HOPE, the good guys are Luke, Han, Leia and the bad guys are Tarkin and Vader. The Empire is vaguely Nazi-esque...and yet the most explicit allusion to Nazism is the medal scene at the end, where Lucas essentially uses Hitler imagery for the good guys...which is a testament to the sometimes bold lateral moves that's there in the movies (the OT and the PT...the ST have none of this).

  13. #73
    Extraordinary Member Lightning Rider's Avatar
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    Some great analysis in here.

    One thing I can maybe contribute is that the notion of whether superheroes are righteous vs oppressive is whether the social order that surrounds them is seen as legitimate and just or not.

    If Gotham's police force is corrupt, then Batman's vigilantism is justified. If the police force is corrupt (or the reader interprets police to be inherently problematic), then Batman's cooperation with them becomes oppressive. But on the flip side, if the police are interpreted as democratically accountable, then Batman's vigilantism has no popular mandate.

  14. #74
    Mighty Member Frobisher's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tendrin View Post
    https://www.google.com/amp/s/nextsha...esistance/amp/

    I mean, Lucas has been really open about his iRL inspirations for Star Wars and what he drew from.
    Lucas really letting the Scottish off the hook for their complicity in the British Empire there.

  15. #75
    Extraordinary Member Revolutionary_Jack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lightning Rider View Post
    Some great analysis in here.

    One thing I can maybe contribute is that the notion of whether superheroes are righteous vs oppressive is whether the social order that surrounds them is seen as legitimate and just or not.

    If Gotham's police force is corrupt, then Batman's vigilantism is justified. If the police force is corrupt (or the reader interprets police to be inherently problematic), then Batman's cooperation with them becomes oppressive. But on the flip side, if the police are interpreted as democratically accountable, then Batman's vigilantism has no popular mandate.
    One big problem with "the Gotham police force is corrupt and so Batman's vigilantism is justified" is that he's best friends with Jim Gordon, Police Commissioner. Sure stories have presented Gordon as a reformist trying to fix a broken system but as time passes, the more corrupt cops on beat there are, the harder it gets to ignore the fact that Gordon is just not doing anything right. There's also the fact that the Batman franchise orbits around ARKHAM ASYLUM, which is essentially the poster-child for the idea that "mentally ill are violent malingering psychos and shrinks are morons and self-destructive fools". So a good part of Batman is tied to a certain authoritarianism, a certain old fashioned idea of mental health and reform.

    On a basic genre sense, I don't really need complicated questions justifying Batman's vigilantism. I get that it's more interesting to see a scary dude in a boss costume beat up a bunch of guys using gadgets and fists than guns and riot gear. The other thing is also aesthetic...the thing about Batman is that while yes there's authoritarianism and other stuff there, it's also a fact that the Batman series' popularity rests largely on its rogues gallery. People read Batman to see the rogues in action as much as they do to see Batman doing his thing. The most recent JOKER 2019 movie made far more money than the Snyder Batman movies after all. The BTAS series ran on the idea of Batman villains being someone he relates to or sees as a cautionary tale for himself. Stuff like the Mr. Freeze "Heart of Ice" episode. More recently you have Harley Quinn becoming this anarchic breakout character.

    So ultimately it's the villains who come to the rescue of Batman from being authoritarian and problematic. And historically...go back to the Adam West Batman Show. All the rogues were played by prominent celebrities of their day and were grand camp performances and cooler than square old Batman and Robin. The Batman'66 show ran on the popularity of the villains and not the heroes. The Dark Knight (the last Batman movie that's embraced across the board as an excellent movie) rests entirely on Ledger's performance.

    Quote Originally Posted by Frobisher View Post
    Lucas really letting the Scottish off the hook for their complicity in the British Empire there.
    Isn't the complicity of the English in the British Empire more concerning? After all when the British Empire was at its height, there weren't any significant voices in England going "Are we the baddies?" Even liberals like John Stuart Mill outright defended the East India Company and said that despoiling India was somehow to the benefit of the Indian people and so on. There were a few people like Ernest Charles Jones, Charles Bradlaugh and others but not many, and certainly on the very fringe. for most of the time in that period.

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