Jeff is joined by Jennifer Lovely (http://jengaloves.com) and Michael Montoure (http://www.bloodletters.com) as they continue their discussion about little known of rarely viewed horror films that they think horror fans should be paying attention to.
Midnight Ballad for Ghost Theater is a 2006 Korean film that is very hard to categorize. Let’s call it a musical comedy that utilizes horror themes.
It is hard to find, as it has never had an official American release; however, it is possible to order a copy from Korea.
The plot revolves around Seong Sodan (played by Kkobbi Kim), a teen age girl who lives with her Grandmother. One night her grandmother leaves the house, saying she is going to the theater to watch a movie she starred in when she was Sodan’s age. Sodan tracks down the theater to find her grandmother, but no one has seen her. Interrupting a suicide attempt by the theater manager (played by Chun Ho-jin), she is given a job as ticket seller, where she hopes that eventually her grandmother will show up.
It turns out that the theater is haunted by the ghosts of the rest of the theater troop who made the film with Sodan’s grandmother. They are doomed to haunt the theater until they can see that film, (“Minosoo: The Bull-headed Man”) once again.
At first frightened of the ghosts, Sodan befriends them and they help her come out of her shell. She, in turn, tries to find out what happened to the film, both to help her new friends and hopefully to find her grandmother. All the while, the theater manager tries to dissuade her (between his botched suicide attempts), saying that finding the film will lead to tragedy.
If I had to sum up this movie in one word, it would be charming.
The overall feel of the film has a clear Tim Burton-esque feel to it, mainly of his earlier films like BeetleJuice. There is a sense of “what the hell am I watching”, while still enjoying the ghost’s antics.
The characters of the ghosts themselves are immediately engaging. First we have Elisa (played by Joon-myeon Park), who claims to be a Joseon Dynasty Princess. She is loud, bossy, and often threatens to execute the others.
Next is Hiroshi (played by Jo Hie-Bong), a Japanese solider who was stationed in Korea where he fell in love. All of his dialogue is in Japanese, but he can understand Korean, and still be understood by the other ghosts.
Wanda (played by Ae-Ri Han) is a former Kisaeng (similar to a Geisha), who fell out of favor after giving birth to a client’s child. She is bulimic and obsessively counts her hair.
Finally you have Mosquito (played by Yeong-su Park), who is made-up like a demented Harlequin (or let’s be honest, the Crow). Of all the ghosts, he is the only one who is given no back story.
The theater manager is clearly involved with the ghosts’ story, and as Sodan unravels the mystery of the missing film, she learns more of what that is.
All the back story of the ghosts, the manager, and the film itself are done though song. And those songs can be very catchy, even for someone who does not speak Korean.
If you are looking for deep character analysis, Midnight Ballad for Ghost Theater is not the movie you want. It is a light hearted romp, with no real concern for character development.
I give Midnight Ballad for Ghost Theater a B-. It is appealing, and fans of films like BeetleJuice or The Rocky Horror Picture Show will enjoy it and possibly want to own it. Non-fans will likely be left lukewarm by its surreal nature and lack of character depth.
As the year comes to a close, it has been announced that Disney had broken a box office record. In 2013 its worldwide box office was over 4 billion dollars. This was achieved almost exclusively by the performance of this year’s two releases from Marvel Studios; Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World.
I’m sure every studio took notice. At this stage Marvel seems unbeatable at the box office and I’m sure that there are some very smart people trying to figure out how to duplicate that success.
There are, of course, several factors that have led to this success. But I want to focus on two that I feel other studios are going to have a hard time copying, and the sad thing is that one of those shouldn’t be a problem.
The one that is problematic to copy is the interwoven nature of the Marvel films. As far as most fans are concerned both movies were part of the same series, and they only had to wait months for them, not years. And next year we get two more. I’m sure studios would love to get something like that going, but only Warner Brothers with the DC franchises have a shot, and they seem determined to shoot themselves in the foot with regards to that.
The other, that should be easy to copy but won’t be, is how Marvel handles character arcs. In short, Marvel does not back track on their character development. Whatever changes a character goes through in one movie are still present at the beginning of the next. It seems simple but it is not that common.
To illustrate this point, I want to focus on Thor as he has one of the most dramatic arcs in the series. Warning, there will be some Dark World spoilers in here.
In the first Thor movie he is brash, headstrong, and hungry for glory. He nearly provokes a war needlessly and is punished by being stripped of his powers and exiled. During this exile he learns humility and, after seeing destruction from a human level, is more tempered in his approach, throughout this process he learns to care for people.
In the Avengers, he is no longer seeking glory and regrets the destruction he can cause, but he is still headstrong as shown in his first meeting with Iron Man and Captain America. Over the course of this film, he learns to not just rush in and be a team player.
At the beginning of Dark World we see Thor no longer rushes in, and even gives his enemies a chance to surrender. When the rest of the warriors are celebrating their victory, he is sitting quietly, no longer concerned with glory. By the end, he embraces his destiny as guardian of the nine realms, and chooses to live on Earth.
At no point does he lose any of the lessons he learned between movies and his character is constantly moving forward.
Let’s compare this to the rebooted Star Trek movies. In the first movie Kirk has to learn to not be bull headed and work with his crew, especially Spock, to save the day. In the end, he is awarded command of the Enterprise.
In the sequel, he starts off making a bull headed move that has him lose his command and he needs to find a way to work with his crew, especially Spock, to save the day, eventually getting his command back. Basically, in the second movie things were reset to how they were in the first movie in an effort to give the audience something familiar.
Of the two, which do you prefer?
For me, the big test of this is going to be when Captain America: The Winter Soldier comes out. This is because it will feature the Black Widow, who is a character that has been moving around the Marvel Cinematic Universe rather than attached to one specific franchise. It will be interesting to see where she is after the events of The Avengers and how that has changed her.
Of course they could just give us a Black Widow centric movie.
Anyway, I look forward to where the Marvel movies are going, and can only hope that other studios learn this lesson.
Much like Dark Knight Riseslast year, rather than just review of Man of Steel, I want to look at how it represents the characters in relation to their counterparts in both comic books and pop culture in general.
Fair warning, this article is going to have spoilers for Man of Steel, consider yourself warned.
Since Man of Steel is a reboot of the Superman movie franchise, we find ourselves with yet another telling of Superman’s origin.
The first part of the movie I like because it gives one of the best takes on why Krypton is doomed; the planet’s core was drained to provide energy, and lead to the planet imploding. This is of course topical, but also has a feeling of realism, compared to what is normally just a hand wave.
Of course this part also has some downfalls. The first is that amidst the end of the world, the military decides to stage a coup. I know this was done to provide an introduction for Zod and set up him for later, but it just comes off as odd.
You also have a bit with the genetic codex of Krypton. This I am more forgiving of. It harkens back to the post-crisis relaunch of Superman with Krypton being dependent on clone technology, and gives added motivation for Zod to come after Superman. Other than that, it is basically a McGuffin to drive the plot.
As for the characters, it is an interesting mix.
Or course we have to start with Henry Cavills’ performance as Clark. Right off the bat, you’ll notice that I called him Clark instead of Superman on purpose. While they do call him Superman in the film, it is treated initially as a nickname. The character is treated as a man on a journey to find himself and his place in the world. A lot of people complain that he is not the Superman they grew up with, and that is a fair but incomplete take on the character. This is Clark Kent figuring out who he is and where he fits in the world; so no, he is not the Superman you know, at least not yet. If this film is about anything, it is the events that shape Clark into Superman. He already has the instincts to do the right thing, but is not necessarily sure how to go about it.
Amy Adams as Lois Lane is on a completely different front. This is one of the best representations of Lois outside of the comics ever. She is smart, competent, brave, and a bit of a daredevil. There are two factors that put this Lois above the rest. One is that they show her investigating the mysterious figure that is Clark, and she figures out who he is. I think this is a first in any version of Superman, in which Lois knows Clark’s secret even before the public at large knows about him. The benefit is that there is never a need for her to be played as clueless in not being able to figure out that Clark is Superman. She knows from the onset and is an active partner. This leads to the other factor – Lois is as important to the resolution of the story as Clark. She has information he needs in order to defeat the bad guys. Trusting that she knows what she is doing, he never once tells her to go to safety. And of course Adams’s performance is perhaps the best in the entire film.
Michael Shannon as General Zod is another interesting study. I have been a fan of Shannon for a while and was happy to hear he was cast in the movie. I was also happy to hear that he was in no way even going to attempt to copy anything from Terrance Stamp’s performance from Superman II. The role of Zod in the movie is very consistent with his recent portrayal in comics. He is devoted to Krypton above all else, and if he must destroy Earth to recreate Krypton, so be it. I like the inference in the film that this is a result of how Krypton bred and raised children to fill a specific role in their society, and so Zod had no idea how to do anything else, but it could have been done better if this was made clearer earlier as I mentioned with the issues with the prologue.
My biggest issue with the film is the portrayal of Jonathan Kent. I think this is one of Kevin Costner’s better performances in the last few years, but I do not like how he was written. In the comics, it is Jonathan that instills the values into Clark that will lead him to be Superman. The movie tries to say this is what happened, but it is not what they showed us. Every time we see Jonathan mentor Clark, he is more concerned with keeping the secret than he is with doing what is right.
Russell Crowe as Jor-El is pretty straight forward. He is playing Jor-El just as he has been portrayed in the comics since 1985. Honestly, it is a solid performance and does more to move Clark towards Superman than Jonathan does.
For the rest of the performances, they are generally well done, but brief. Laurence Fishburne as Perry White is good casting, because he provides a shorthand to the character, which is needed as there is not much on the page.
Diane Lane gets about the same as Martha Kent. She doesn’t have much to do in the flashback scenes with Costner, and in the present, she is the tough widow who believes in her son and isn’t going to let an alien invasion phase her.
Real quick I want to call back to an earlier article and talk about the character Jenny, played by Rebecca Buller. It is never made clear if she is supposed to be a female version of Jimmy Olsen, or just a Planet staffer who Perry looks out for. Either way the character is too minor for it to make much difference.
So let’s talk about the scene that has all the fans in an uproar. Again, spoilers ahead.
After all the destruction that has been visited on Metropolis by the Kryptonian invaders, after said invasion force has been destroyed, after Superman and Zod have had a battle that has caused untold damage, the final show down occurs.
With Zod threatening to just keep killing humans and actively trying to kill a family, Clark breaks his neck, killing him.
This rubs most fans the wrong way as one of Superman’s big rules is that he does not kill.
Except in the comics he has, and it was Zod he killed.
In 1988 John Byrne wrote a story where Superman faced a Zod from another universe. In his universe, Zod had destroyed Earth, even with our Superman trying to save it. Superman defeats Zod, who then claims he will find a way to the main DC universe and destroy that Earth. Superman believes him and finds the only way to make sure this does not happen is to kill him.
But that is not the end of the story. The next years’ worth of stories are based around Superman struggling with that decision and ultimately declaring that he will always find a better way in the future.
In the movie, immediately after killing Zod, Clark is overcome with grief over having done it, and is comforted by Lois. Clearly this was not a light decision and weighs on him. If we do get a sequel, my hope is the writers build on this just as the comics did.
In the end I did enjoy Man of Steel, but I also think it was not a perfect film. I think it made the mistake of being too much of a disaster film to be a completely satisfying superhero film.
Hopefully Warner Bros. can learn from this film and any sequel can be the Superman film that all fans can get behind.
As I stated in my review of Dracula, a common practice in Hollywood during the early days of talking pictures was to film a second version of a movie using the same sets and shooting script in a foreign language. At the time, dubbing was not a very refined art, and many considered it cheating anyway. Sadly, most of these films have been lost as they were considered secondary to the English language version and less effort was made to preserve them.
Fortunately, one of the few to survive was the Spanish language version of Dracula.
There is no real reason to go over a synopsis of the film’s plot. It is identical to the English language version that I reviewed last week. Go back and reread that if needed, I’ll wait.
A lot of interest has been given to this version over the years, as many people feel it is in fact superior to the Bela Lugosi classic. Are they right? Let’s find out.
The film was directed by George Melford who was already famous for having directed Rudolph Valentino’s silent classic The Sheik. Working for Universal, Melford directed four Spanish language films. Melford did not speak a word of Spanish and had to use a translator.
Melford also had a competitive streak, at least when it came to Tod Browning and Dracula. Melford and his crew would come in at night after Browning’s crew had wrapped for the day. He would get to look at the dailies with the idea that he would mimic what was shot. Instead Melford decided he could do better and chose to try and improve on what Browning had shot.
Watching this version can be jarring if you are familiar with the English version. Many scenes are identical in look and feel. However, as the movie progresses differences start to become more apparent.
First of all is the pacing. The Spanish version is much better paced, shrugging off the theatrical roots of the material. While the camera work is not as fluid at times as the English version, it makes up for it with grander sweeps and faster movement. There are two scenes in the Browning version that go on a bit long, a battle of wills between Dracula and Van Helsing, and a vampiric seduction of Harker by Mina. Melford improves the pacing by having them happen simultaneously and cutting between them.
Another very clear change is on the close ups of Dracula. In the Browning version, it is always a tight shot of his face with a band of light across his eyes. In Melford’s version, it is a tight close up of just the eyes, or a tight close up of the face and then a jump cut to the close up of the eyes.
Of course we also have to look at the performances by the actors as this is the chief difference between the two.
Carlos Villarias plays Dracula. Of the cast he was the only one allowed to look at the dailies, as the studio wanted him to mimic Lugosi. While there are similarities between the two performances, they are still very different. Villarias plays Dracula more energetically than Lugosi did, and due to less stringent standards for the Spanish audience was able to make the seductive elements of the character more overt. In many ways this is a better performance than Lugosi’s. However, the difference is that Villarias did not have the same commanding presence as Lugosi. So while it might be a better performance technically, it was in no way matching the iconic one given by Lugosi.
Pablo Alvarez Rubio played Renfield. Here I feel that while his performance was equal to Dwight Frye’s, it was different. Manic Frye was menacing, where Rubio was just over-the-top raving. Calm Frye was sympathetic where Rubio became sinister.
Eduardo Arozamena played Van Helsing. Here I feel the performance was flatter compared to the one given by Edward Von Sloan.
The biggest difference was in the female lead. When I reviewed the other version I glossed over the performance of Helen Chandler as Mina. I felt it was just serviceable and did not really stand out. In the Spanish version, Lupita Tovar played the renamed Eva. Her performance was much more dynamic, especially when under Dracula’s thrall. It should be noted that Chandler’s career did not extend beyond the 1930s, whereas Tovar was working through the mid-1940s.
So in the end, I can say that yes, the Spanish version of Dracula is the superior film. Its biggest down fall is that it lacks the iconic performance of Lugosi.
I give it a grade of B-
Hopefully it will not take a year to get back to the Universal Horror movies again. When we do return, we will look at the final member of the Horror trinity, the Wolf Man.
Since we are now into the Halloween season, what better way to kick it off then with Tim Burton’s new film Frankenweenie? This is the full length stop-motion remake of Burton’s 1984 live action short about a boy who brings his dead dog back to life.
I’m not going to cover the differences between the two here. I’m going to focus on the new film as it is its own entity and there are enough differences between the two.
The film is a parody and homage to the horror film genre that Burton so clearly loves. It obviously references old Universal Horror, but also touches on Hammer Horror, Japanese kaiju, and a smart nod to Gremlins. There is also tribute to horror stars with characters based on Vincent Price, Boris Karloff, Peter Lorrie, and a clip of Christopher Lee as Dracula.
At the heart of the film however is the simple tale of a boy and his dog. The main character Victor Frankenstein (Yes there is a lot of naming like that in the film) is a boy who doesn’t go out and make friends, but rather spends his time with his dog Sparky making homemade movies. When his father’s efforts to get Victor involved in sports inadvertently leads to Sparky’s death, Victor is inspired to bring him back based on a lesson from the schools eccentric science teacher.
After his success several of his classmates learn what Victor has done, leading them to try themselves. Chaos ensues.
Burton has taken some heat in recent years over some not so great films, like Alice in Wonderland or Dark Shadows. With Frankenweenie Burton is clearly back on form. The large part of that is that this is a movie with heart. Victor is a character you can relate to, especially if you have ever had a pet that you loved.
One of the things I really liked about Frankenweenie was that the movie avoids a lot of clichés that normally plague a story like this. Victor is a loner, but not because the other children shun him or bully him. I was bracing myself early in the film for a scene showing Victor being bullied that never happened. From all appearances Victor could make friends but was just content being a loner. I like that the film showed that basically this was alright, even if it did worry his father.
From a technical side I was amazed at how well the stop-motion figures were able to convey the characters emotions. I watched The Nightmare Before Christmas right before seeing Frankenweenie and I could see how much the craft has evolved in the last two decades.
The voice work was also top notch. Defying expectations this is the first Burton movie since Big Fish to feature neither Johnny Depp nor Helena Bonham Carter. Other past Burton collaborators do make an appearance though. Catherine O’Hara and Martin Short both voice multiple characters including Victor’s parents. Winona Ryder voices Elsa van Helsing, Victor’s neighbor and love interest. Martin Landau steals the show as Victor’s science teacher Mr Rzykruski who is clearly based on Burton’s childhood hero Vincent Price. Charlie Tahan is the voice of Victor and his voice helps carry the emotional core of the film. Special notice also needs to go to Atticus Shaffer as Victor’s classmate Edgar “E” Gore, who is of course based on the classic Igor character.
Frankenweenie is a Burton getting back to what he does best, telling a heartwarming story as filter through an Addams Family sensibility.
The summer superhero movie season has come to an end. We have seen the release of the Avengers, The Amazing Spider-Man, and The Dark Knight Rises. So how do these movies stack up against each other?
Let’s take a look.
First off, how do I, as a long time comic book and movie fan feel about each one and compare them?
Cutting to the chase here is how I personally rank them
The Dark Knight Rises
The Amazing Spider-man
When thinking about this ranking I used a simple model of rewatchablity (which I think we can agree should be a word.). This should be true of any Superhero movie ranking, how often do I want to watch it. I saw both Iron Man and The Dark Knight twice in theaters and have watched the DVDs repeatedly. I saw Green Lantern once but have not unwrapped the DVD my wife bought on sale.
With The Amazing Spider-Man I saw it once in the theater, and I do not think I will be buying it when the home release comes out. For the Dark Knight Rises, I saw it once, and I will be buying it when it is released. I saw the Avengers twice at the theater, would go again if they release the extended cut next month as they have hinted at and will buy it and watch it on September 25th. So from a “do I want to watch it again point of view” the ranking is really clear.
But the big question is why do I feel that way? What makes one Superhero movie better than another?
With Avengers it is simple enough. That movie spoke to the little boy in me whose imagination was set free by reading the comic books he bought at the corner drug store. It was a close to the four color experience as I have ever seen in live action, and the anticipation was built up over 5 previous movies. I fully plan to set aside a day in the near future, start with Iron Man at breakfast and watch all 6 Marvel films in one day. I still smile when I see pictures from the Avengers on-line.
The Dark Knight Rises works on a more mature level. It is a satisfying wrap up to the Nolen Dark Knight trilogy. But in the end it is not as good a movie as the Dark Knight. The Joker raised that movie from being simply very good, to being great. I doubt I will do a marathon of this series however. I also think that The Dark Knight Rises works extremely well as an intelligent action movie, but not as well as a superhero movie.
So what left the Amazing Spider-man holding the short straw? I certainly enjoyed watching it. I even felt it did some things better than the Raimi series, such as the more complex relationship Peter Parker has with Flash Thompson. The problem is that it doesn’t feel fresh. Spider-Man 3 came out five years ago. I know that Sony has to make a new Spider-Man film every so often to retain the film rights, but I doubt that time frame is five years (I looked but could not find the exact time frame). So when I was watching the origin portion of the film I was comparing it in my head to how the original Spider-man handled it.
But even without that I felt that in the end it was a good superhero movie, but not a great one. I smiled during it, but I never clapped or cheered like I did during the other two movies. So I can recommend seeing it, but I have no desire to go out and do so again myself.
So there is how I see it. Next year we get Iron Man 3, Thor: the Dark World, Man of Steel, and The Wolverine. It will be interesting to see how they stack up.
Like just about every geek in the nation I saw The Dark Knight Rises this weekend. In fact I was at a midnight screening on Thursday. I am not going to get into the tragedy that was happening at the same time, it is being covered enough elsewhere.
I am also not going to give a review of the movie itself other than to say I loved it.
What I want to do instead is look at it in how it represented the characters in it.
The story of The Dark Knight Rises is a mash-up of the comic book storylines Knightfall and No Man’s Land. This was a good choice for the final part of the trilogy. Both storylines represented loss and Batman being brought to his lowest and still prevailing. They gave Christopher Nolan the chance to up the odds from the previous movies and end the series on a high note.
The Batman in this movie could well have been the Batman from Dark Knight Returns. He is beaten down both mentally and physically. It takes a massive threat to bring him out of retirement.
Catwoman in this movie is hands down the best representation I have seen of the character outside of the comics. She is a thief, end of story. Not out for revenge, not a campaigning environmentalist, not a hooker looking for redemption. She is a master thief looking for a big score, who finds she might actually care for something.
Bane is a little trickier. This is a better portrayal than he got in “Batman and Robin” where he was a mindless brute. Here they remember that he is a brilliant strategist and deadly fighter. In the comics his whole goal is to show he is better than Batman and take over Gotham’s underworld. Here they give a more idealistic motivation. It works but it is a deviation for the character.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character of John Blake is an interesting take as he is really an amalgam of several characters. He is filling roles in this story that in the comics were filled by Dick Grayson, Tim Drake, Jean-Paul Valley and Mackenzie “Hardback” Bock. On one hand it is a good move to have all that action condensed down to one character as the storylines themselves are condensed and Joseph Gordon-Levitt does a great job with the role. I understand why they made him a new character, but I feel it was a missed opportunity to make him a known character. Spoiler here in Invisotext: it would have been best to have just made him Dick Grayson.
Commissioner Gordon has done well through the whole series. He is taken directly from his comic book counterpart as a man of action.
In the end what I will say about The Dark Knight Rises is this. It is a great movie, but really the entire trilogy is best if you look at it as one whole story told in three parts.
This week DC entertainment announced that they have hired Will Beall to write a script for a Justice League movie. There are also rumblings of trying to get a new Wonder Woman movie going again, as well as Lobo and Suicide Squad movies. This really isn’t surprising. I imagine that with the Avengers currently sitting as the third highest grossing movie of all time that there is a lot of pressure to get the DC properties steaming along.
I can only imagine what DC entertainment president Diane Nelson has to deal with right now. The success of not just the Avengers, but the entire Marvel Cinema Universe highlights how much the DC properties not about Batman have struggled. The DC characters are very powerful and prominent intellectual properties, yet they have not be able to gain any traction.
I think the problem isn’t a hard one to figure out. It’s DC entertainment’s parent company, Warner Brothers.
Last August I looked at the Green Lantern movie in comparison to Captain America. Captain America was a movie that reveled in its comic book roots and yet remembered that it had to be an enthralling action movie for the general audience. Rather than dumb down the character for mass consumption Marvel made sure to build up Steve Rogers so that the movie going public would love him as much as the longtime fans.
Green Lantern by comparison was a stock summer block buster that had a generic action movie plot and Ryan Reynolds playing a character much like he has in most movies he has been in. In other words Warner Brothers was playing it safe. I have a feeling that the production of the movie was very influenced by focus groups.
The end result was a hit of Marvel and an underperformer for DC.
The point I am getting at is that Warner Brothers isn’t playing to the strengths of the DC properties. Marvel has made six movies that know full well they are action hero fantasies and instead of trying to bring their heroes into the real world they are trying to create a believable version of their superhero universe. Disney bought Marvel part way through this and made the wise decision to leave them alone as the plan is working.
Warner Brothers on the other hand does not seem to trust that the audience will embrace a theatric version of the DC universe. The words that keep getting thrown around are “Dark”, “Gritty”, and “Mature”. That works great for Batman as Christopher Nolan has shown, but not so much for Superman, or Wonder Woman.
If you don’t believe me on that point I suggest track down a copy of the recent Wonder Woman pilot. Instead of the strong but compassionate hero she was created to be, Wonder Woman was portrayed as a grim badass who would torture a bed ridden mook for information and straight up kill a security guard who got in her way. Basically she was unsympathetic and the show was terrible.
Not to say that this approach won’t work for all heroes, for example Green Arrow. There is a new Green Arrow series coming this fall that looks pretty good. It is going the darker route, but Green Arrow being a non-powered hero like Batman can make that work. But even this one seems to be victim to focus group shenanigans. The show and the hero in it are just being called Arrow. Apparently due to the failure of Green Lantern the word green is now taboo in a superhero name.
I have an idea that I would like to suggest to Warner Brothers. Bring on Bruce Timm for your film efforts. Timm was the driving force behind the DC animated universe that gave us Batman the animated series, Superman the animated series and Justice League unlimited. These were great and comic and non-comic fans alike loved them. Let Bruce write up some script treatments and whatever you do WB, do not let a focus group anywhere near them.