Why The Peter Capaldi Era Failed

Image result for Peter Capaldi

Okay I’ll admit this is more of a subjective title as after all I’m sure that the Capaldi era has its fans. Also the Capaldi era technically is not over yet as it still has one season to go.

However I think overall its fair to say that the Capaldi era has been a failure. Its viewing figures have dropped every year, fan reaction has been mostly negative, its been snubbed by major awards ceremonies that the show used to win big at. Also personally I think that the quality of its stories is overall lower than any previous era in the shows history.

Thus even if series 10 is the greatest series in DW’s history (which given its two predecessors is unlikely) Then sadly  most of the Capaldi era has still been a big let down for me and it seems most fans and mainstream viewers too.

In this article I am going to explore why I feel this era didn’t work, what mistakes were made, and how they can hopefully be rectified for the New Doctors era.

Note: Nothing in this article is a dig against Capadi’s performance as the Doctor. I think Capaldi has been the only good thing about his era. He was an inspired choice for the Doctor, and his dedication to the role was as great as any of the previous 11 leading actors.

Much like Colin Baker before him, poor old Peter I think was just the Doctor at the wrong time, wrong place. Hopefully like Colin he’ll get better material on Big Finish later (though even then I still wouldn’t say anything in Colin’s time approaches the worst in Peters era)

1/ His Companion

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Now I do not dislike Clara as a character overall or Jenna Coleman as an actress. I loved her with Matt Smith, but sadly I feel she just didn’t click with Capaldi.

I tried to find a way to appreciate Clara and 12. Before I looked at it from a point of view of “maybe they were going for an odd couple vibe with them?” but ultimately in hindsight now that Clara’s story is over I just feel that she and 12 were a mess.

To start with Clara and 12 had 0 chemistry with each other. I’m sure Jenna and Peter got on well with each other in real life, but on screen they didn’t gel.

They weren’t a natural fit for one another. They had nothing in common with each other, and came from totally different backgrounds. Jenna’s a 20 something millenial who comes from a middle class English background, she also was famous when she was a teenager. Peter meanwhile is pushing 60, and comes from a poor, working class Scots background.

Peter’s acting style is also always quite intense and angry, Jenna’s meanwhile is very laid back, humorous, and bubbly.

Thus as a Doctor and companion who were just friends, then they didn’t mesh because they were too different. This was made all the more apparent by how well Jenna and Matt gelled with each other. Matt did come from a similar background to Jenna, had a similar acting style of being more light, silly, cheery, (Steven Moff even said that he cast Jenna because she was the only actress who could speak as quickly as Matt) and he was ages with her too. They were a perfect fit in every way, as friends, love interests etc.

Not only did Jenna and Peter not work as friends like 11 and Jenna or Sarah and 4, but they also obviously couldn’t go down the romance route like they did with other companions such as Rose and 9, or 10 and Martha either.

At the same time they also couldn’t have the Doctor being a father figure to Jenna either, like 2 and Zoe,  Jo and 3, 7 and Ace, as it had been established that the Doctor wanted to shag Clara in 11’s era.

Thus their only option was to make their relationship strained, but there were several problems with this. First of all it didn’t really fit Clara’s character to be so nasty to the Doctor.

What had made the 11 and Clara relationship so wonderful was the way Clara and the Doctor genuinely loved each other. It was always such an affectionate, warm relationship whether that was Clara throwing herself into the Doctors timeline to save his life, or even just little moments like Clara helping an elderly Doctor pull the cracker.

To suddenly rewrite Clara into being a bossy, aggressive, controlling narcissist who would violently smack the Doctor, or threaten to hit him so hard he would regenerate just didn’t feel like the same character at all.

Also Clara suddenly having a problem with the Doctor looking old felt a bit odd too. Not only did Clara have experience of all the previous Doctors but there was also a scene in The Day of the Doctor where she meets the War Doctor and says that she can tell he looks younger than her Doctor. Now whilst this might seem a bit of a daft thing to say at first, I actually quite liked this line as again to me it showed how well Clara knows and loves the Doctor. Regardless of whatever face he is wearing, Clara can see who he really is underneath.

Even if he’s wearing the face of a 70 plus year old man, Clara can still tell he’s younger as he doesn’t have the look of weariness and guilt on his face that the 11th Doctor with the face of a 20 something had.

However once again this was tossed out of the window when 12 showed up and Clara had a problem with him looking old. In fact Clara was ready to abandon the 12th Doctor until 11 had to phone her and convince her he was the same man!

To be fair they did try and soften the relationship between Clara and the Doctor in season 9 which I think was a brilliant idea, but even then I don’t think it really worked.

Suddenly Clara and the Doctor loved each other so much the Doctor was willing to destroy all of reality to save her? Now obviously Clara and the Doctor care about each other, but really I don’t see any reason he would care about her more than every other companion he has ever had.

And he does. He never went back to change history when Adric was blown to pieces, or when he believed Peri had died a slow, agonising death, or when Amy and Rory were taken from him, or when Jack was shot by a Dalek, or even when he believed Rose was vaporised in Bad Wolf!

So Clara it seems outranks all of these people? Why? Again what build up was there to this? Its not even like 12 was meant to have romantic feelings for her?

Its a shame as it might have been interesting in series 9 to see Clara and 12 after their rough patch in series 8 become a lot more genuinely close, but sadly I think they jumped a bit too far in the finale with the silly hybrid storyline which left the whole arc feeling like a mess.

Added to that I feel that Clara began to take over the show far too much, with many of the stories revolving around her, her place of work, her boyfriend, her influence on the Doctor etc.

I think it would have been better if Jenna had left at the end of series 8. I understand why they kept her to ease the transition from Doctor to Doctor, but really after series 8, Capaldi should have gotten his own companion.

Ultimately he was saddled with a companion who was really cast and written for 11 throughout almost the entirety of his era which was a shame.

2/ Weak Enemies

The 12th Doctor had relatively weak enemies. There were certainly no strong new foes introduced during his era like Davros, Sil, The Weeping Angels, or even the Silence.

Added to that many of the one off enemies were boring, one note or ineffective like the Lion man, or the clockwork droid.

Worse than that however all of the Doctors classic rogues were weak during this era too.

The Master, the Doctors archenemy lost all menace during 12’s era. Leaving aside the controversial and pandering gender change, Missy is the worst version of the Master anyway.

To be honest I actually think that if Missy were played by a man then more people would view her as the worst incarnation of the Master. As it is I think most people are scared to say that out of fear of being called sexist. Don’t get me wrong Michelle Gomez is a great actress and she does play the role well, and I am not saying that there are no genuine fans of Missy, but consider the following factors.

Missy in her first appearance actually hands victory over to the Doctor. She has an army of unbeatable Cybermen who can convert those they kill and she hands it over to her mortal enemy with no way of taking it back?

Imagine if Lex Luthor devised a weapon that would allow him to take over the entire world and just when he was on the cusp of victory he handed it over to Superman in the hopes that Superman of all people would go evil and use it to rule the world?

You’d think he was a pretty lame supervillain. Added to that it is revealed that Missy brought the Doctor and Clara together because she hoped the Doctor would love Clara so much he would destroy the universe for her.

Leaving aside how ridiculous that is. How could Missy know that the Doctor would even like Clara? It also not only doesn’t work, but ironically is responsible for the creation of the universes greatest heroes.

Think about it, its Clara who not only saved the Doctor in every story, but who also helped the Doctor conquer his fear as a boy which ultimately resulted in him becoming the hero he was.

Thus no Clara, no Doctor. This technically makes Missy responsible for all of the past Master defeats at the Doctors hands too. On top of that it was also obviously only because of the Doctor that other heroes such as Jack, and River Song came into being. Finally Clara ends up becoming arguably a greater hero than the Doctor himself. Not only does she get a TARDIS, but she also becomes completely indestructable and has a sidekick who has lived throughout most of the universes history.

So Missy in her attempt to make one hero go bad, created at least 4 great heroes, one of whom can’t be killed and can travel to any point in history and another who thwarted her at every turn.

Finally in her second appearance what does Missy actually do? Seriously? She just bums about a bit on Skaro and is mean to Clara. What’s her villain plan? What does she actually accomplish in either of her appearances.

Its true that the old Masters didn’t always have the most well thought out plans, but at least they were proper villains who tried to conquer the universe and who the Doctor actually had to battle against.

Compare Missy with even just her immediate predecessor.

Simm’s Master’s plan is to create a new time lord empire in his first story, and to free his people from the time war and then enslave them in his second.

In his first story he manages to trick the Doctors companions family into betraying him, dupes the UK into voting for him as Prime Minister, outfoxes UNIT, Torchwood and the Doctor for many months, as he hides in plain sight from all of them. He also conquers the entire earth, slaughters billions, and captures the Doctor and Jack and tortures them for a whole year, before nearly successfully waging war on the rest of the universe and changing the entire history of the Universe.

Its takes the Doctor an entire year of torture, as well as Martha wandering the earth for a year to take the Master down. In his second story meanwhile technically the Doctor doesn’t beat him. Its Rassilon that reverses the Master race.

The only villainous thing Missy does of any note is kill Osgood but that’s it in 4 episodes. Imagine if she didn’t do that. What menace would she have posed in Dark Water/Death in Heaven? She would have shown up, kissed the Doctor, created Cybermen and then handed them over to the Doctor, where he could have just ordered them to blow up. And then in her second episode she would have actually done nothing but help Clara find the Doctor, and save the Doctor and Clara from the Daleks! I suppose she does kill one more UNIT lackey and one of her own minions, but again that’s not really much for one of the Doctors greatest foes. Osgood’s death is the only major moment of villainy for Missy.

You can’t say that John Simm’s Masters villainy rests entirely on one scene. If he didn’t say kill the President then he would still have have his conquest of the earth (both times), his manipulation of the British people, his attempt to free the time lords etc.

And all of this is before we get into the fact that she lusts after the Doctor which only further demeans the Master by turning him into more of a jealous ex of the Doctor than his archenemy.

Sadly the Cybermen didn’t fair much better in Capaldi’s time either. They were reduced to being nothing more than Missy’s mooks before being vanquished by the power of love. Also much like Missy the Cybermen do bugger all in their big two part finale.

They just stand about get some people taking selfies with them and then fly away, before clomping about in a graveyard. We do see them briefly attack an airplane. Again though that’s not really much for one of the shows greatest monsters. Take a look at Doomsday for instance. By no means the Cybermen’s greatest appearance, they still slaughter millions of people on earth and destroy Torchwood 1.

The Daleks meanwhile fared slightly better. Their first story Into the Dalek was brilliant and really treated the monsters as a legitimate menace. However sadly their season 9 appearance was I think the weakest Dalek story in New Who.

I enjoyed it at the time sure as it was nice to see the different Dalek variants and Skaro again. Still much like with the Cybermen and the Master the problem is what do the Daleks actually do in that story? They just hobble about a bit in their main room, fail to kill two people, get compared to dodgems and then are beaten by a clogged pipe.

Added to that there was also some bad rewriting of Dalek lore and history. In Genesis of the Daleks it was established that the Daleks have no concept of pity as Davros removed it from them.

In this story however in a direct contradiction of that defining moment in Genesis here we discover that actually no they do, and have always done thanks to something 12 did when Davros was just a boy.

Finally Rassilon, a major character from Classic Who, who was practically portrayed as the God of all time lords, who when he previously appeared, threatened all of reality, and vaporized people just for peaking up against him. Is portrayed as a helpless old man who the Doctor beats practically by staring.

During 12’s era Moffat didn’t treat the Classic era villains with any kind of respect. He just rolled them out for commercial value, but didn’t bother to try and do anything with them. They were often just there, and he even took the piss out of them at various points too and changed key aspects of their characters such as making the Master in love with the Doctor, or revealing that Daleks suddenly have pity after all.

Too Much Focus On Continuity

There were far too many references to previous Doctors and even archive footage of them in 12’s era. I felt this was a mistake for many reasons.

One, it alienated new viewers who were unfamiliar with the shows past. Two, Moffat often rewrote the continuity he revelled in which naturally displeased the fans.

Also finally I think that focusing too much on a long running shows history it kind of looks like you don’t have faith in the current set up. You have to keep telling people “its the same show, its the same show” rather than trust people will still watch it.

Too Much SJW Pandering

Okay I know I have gone on about this before but it is true. Steven Moffat I feel started to pander the feminist fans who slandered him unfairly as a sexist, racist etc and personally I think the show suffered for it.

Clara was given for too important a role for what is ultimately a side character, Michelle Gomez was only cast as the Master because she was a woman (and Steven Moffat wanted to lay the groundwork for a female Doctor.

Gomez was not in the role of the Master on merit. She could have been the Rani,a female archenemy of the Doctor that she would have been perfect for, and had Moffat been casting actors based on who is right for the role, rather than box ticking then Gomez would have been the Rani and a male actor would have been the Master.

Added to that there have also been more anti men jokes in the show. I don’t mind them in principle, but its just that it feels like a double standard when its all one way, and on top of the fact that the show is replacing all of its male roles with women essentially, the Master, UNIT, possibly the Doctor himself makes it clear which audience its going after.

Identity politics is divisive and takes over whatever franchise it latches itself onto. Look at the recent flop of a Ghostbusters movie for another fine example of how identity politics can sink a major franchise. Personally I think this has been one of the biggest problems of the 12th Doctors era.

Conclusion

Peter Capaldi was a damn fine Doctor, but sadly his era was hampered by many other factors.

I think the lessons that can be learned here are as follows. 1/ For the next Doctor find a companion that fits them and their personality. 2/ Don’t let the companion overshadow the Doctor. 3/ Don’t re use classic era villains unless you have a great idea for them. 4/ When you use them, make sure that they are treated with respect. No jokes, let them cause lots of damage, don’t undermine them for other villains, and write them in character. 5/ No more continuity porn. I don’t mind the odd reference, but keep it in moderation. 6/ No more pandering to feminist fans or identity politics. Keep that divisive bullshit that only a tiny section of the audience appreciates out and cast actors on merit rather than because you feel you need more women or black actors in the show.

If Chibnall does all of these things for 13’s era there is a chance that Doctor Who might be able to crawl back from the abyss its been dragged too.

I said I wasn’t going to do any more articles about the problems of New Who, but I felt I had become too focused on the identity politics side of it. There were other problems to be fair and so that’s why I decided to talk about these here, though obviously I couldn’t not mention the identity politics side of it either.

Let me know what you think about my points, if you agree with them, or if the 12th Doctors era is a favourite of yours in the comments below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Flash 1990’s vs The Flash 2010’s

To date there have been two live action adaptations of the famous scarlet speedster on the small screen. The short lived 90’s series starring John Wesley Shipp as the Flash and the ongoing (as of the writing of this article) Arrow spin off starring Grant Gustin.

Whilst the modern version has obviously had a longer run (3 seasons and counting). The 90’s series still nevertheless has a strong and devoted cult following and even had something of an influence on the 21st century Flash and other Superhero adaptations.

Both I feel have earned their place among the all time greatest superhero television series, but as to which I find to be better? Well that’s a hard question to answer as both offered up a very different take on the Flash, and thus both succeed and fail in different ways.

Still in this article I am going to run through the ways in which I feel the 90’s show was superior and ways in which I feel the 2010’s series was better before deciding which one is the stronger version overall.

Let me know what you think in the comments.

Ways in which the 90’s version was stronger

The Flash Himself

The main Flash in both series is Barry Allen (though both Jay Garrick and Wally West have appeared as supporting characters in the 2010 series).

In the 90’s show he was played by John Wesley Shipp and was an older, more mature character, whilst in the 2010’s version he is a much younger, more sensitive, vulnerable character played by Grant Gustin.

I think both men have been excellent as the characters they played. In terms of performances they are probably about equal. Also in all fairness, in terms of writing I wouldn’t say there is a definitive best either. Both characters have been successful in what they set out to do, but I personally prefer the 90’s version in a number of ways.

To start with the 90’s Flash to me felt somewhat stronger and less vulnerable.

I must admit I am sick of the way most heroes nowadays have to be sensitive, emotional, and geeky. I’m not saying I dislike heroes like that completely, but it can get a little bit frustrating the way that so many heroes have to be rewritten that way. I think its because a lot of writers feel that they need to make their heroes someone the viewers can relate to.

Its understandable, but it can get a bit frustrating the way that so many heroes even if they weren’t that originally have to be reinterpreted that way. The Doctor from Doctor Who is another example of this. In the original he was a cold, distant, mysterious, alien character, but in the 21st century revival in order to be someone the people could relate to he was made into a more sensitive, emotional, love struck hero.

Sadly whilst its not quite as big a deviation to make the Flash like that, at times I do feel like I am watching Peter Parker rather than Barry Allen when I look at Grant Gustin’s version.

The thing that annoys me the most about the 2010’s version however is the way he is well kind of stupid.

Again I feel this is a trend with modern heroes to make them more fallable. Nobody wants a boring Mr or Mrs Perfect who succeeds at everything, but sadly I think that some modern heroes are made too weak and mess up too often.

Barry it could be argued at times has caused more problems than he has fixed. At the end of series 1 for instance its his decision to travel backwards in time which ultimately creates the rip between universes, nearly destroys Central City and causes the death of Ronnie Raymond. His stupid decision to trust Leonard Snart of all people is also what allows the Metahumans to escape leading to more chaos in season 2.

Worst of all though is when he gives up his speed to Zoom in season 2. I am sorry but this scene really pissed me off.

Why did he give up his power? Zoom at that point is slower than Barry, and Zoom has given up his prisoner Wally West! What possible reason could he have for giving up his speed? He should have just clobbered Zoom there and then which he could as he was faster. He later managed to pummel Zoom when he was slower than him later in the finale remember. Here it should have been no problem.

The Flash really is too stupid to live at times. All the shit that happens afterwards including the Metapocalypse and the death of Henry Allen can be traced to what Barry does here.

Also though this is a more minor complaint I do wish that Barry would stop calling himself the fastest man alive at the start of every episode. He’s not! Every season he meets someone that can literally run rings around him.

The 90’s Flash made mistakes too. He was captured twice by his insane archenemy The Trickster, but he never felt stupid to me. There’s a difference between making honest mistakes, being caught off guard, being tricked by the villain (whose whole thing is tricking people) and actually giving a psychopath godlike powers because?

We also did get to see a more vulnerable and human side to the 90’s Flash as well, such as in his relationship with Doctor McGee. Its quite sweet when we see how he doesn’t want her to leave because he would miss her too much, and later when he is given the chance to leave Central City he stays because of her. The 90’s Flash wasn’t just some boring Mr Perfect who succeeded at everything. He was a very human character, capable of making big mistakes just like anyone else, but the point was unlike the modern Flash he never felt genuinely weak or incompetent.

Overall I felt the original 90’s Flash was a much stronger heroic figure all around and though he made mistakes he never outright frustrated me with his stupidity like the 21st century version.

Music

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The score to the 90’s theme is probably the best there has ever been for any superhero television series.

Its main theme was supplied by Danny Elfman, whilst the incidental music of the series was supplied by the late Shirley Walker.

Both of them have supplied iconic music to various other superhero films and television series such as Tim Burton’s Batman whilst Shirley Walker supplied the music for Batman the animated series.

The Flash’s theme is somewhat reminiscent of the Burton Batman’s to be fair, but its still a brilliant piece of music nonetheless.

The music for the 2010’s series whilst not bad is generally speaking quite generic and bland, certainly in comparison to the 90’s version.

Fanmade opening for the new series using the 90’s shows theme. A part of me wishes they had just reused the old theme for this series, though I can understand why they didn’t as it is still very 90’s.

More Straight Forward Stories

Now this is not say the writing of the 2010’s series is bad. In some ways its better the way its more ambitious. However I think the fact that the 90’s series was a bit more grounded at times meant its writing was less muddled.

A lot of the time travel and alternate universe stories can sometimes be too overly complicated for the sake of it in the new series. Also I find that whenever a character is killed off in the new Flash because it does deal with time travel and alternate universes its hard to feel as though they won’t be back. Take a look at Henry Allen for instance. He is killed off and its a very dramatic moment, but then he’s back an episode later via Jay Garrick.

Sometimes less is more and whilst the 90’s Flash may not have had as wild stories as say an army of Gorilla’s attacking Central City, at the same time its stories were less tangled up, it didn’t feel like nothing really mattered, as anything could be reset and any character could come back via a doppelganger.

I also feel that the writing of the 2010 series can get a bit repetitive at times. For instance the series 1 and series 2 story arcs both revolve around a speedster villain who wants to steal the Flash’s speed, kills one of his parents, and poses as a friend of the team for months on end (with Caitlin being the one who gets closest to him in both cases)

Ways in which the 2010’s series is better

Better Villains

Any rogues gallery that manages to bring together the leading men from Prison Break, Spartacus, and Star Wars as supervillains has got to be brilliant.

There’s really no contest between the two shows rogues galleries.

The 90’s Flash was limited by its budget and therefore couldn’t bring in characters like Gorilla Grodd. It did have a few of the Flash’s enemies such as Captain Cold and most notably the Trickster played by Mark Hamill, but still overall most of the Flash’s enemies were villains of the week or simple crooks.

Mark Hamill’s version of the Trickster is an excellent villain, easily one of the greatest comic book supervillains on either the big or the small screen. In the comics the Trickster was more of a lovable rogue who made sure his schemes never truly hurt anyone and actually liked the Flash as a person.

In the 90’s series however he was re-imagined as being a sadistic, Joker style psychopathic mass murderer. At the same time however whilst the Hamill Trickster may have owed a lot to the Joker, his love interest Prank may have inspired Harley Quinn, the Joker’s sidekick.

Prank like Harley Quinn is a bubbly, blonde, psychopath who is completely devoted to the Trickster, despite his constant physical and verbal abuse of her.

Mark Hamill doing what he does best. Torturing superheroes and charming sexy, blonde, psycho babes.

Still despite this the 2010’s series has much better villains overall.

To start with Mark Hamill returned as the Trickster for the 2010’s series, so the best villain from the 90’s show is in this one too. The Trickster was not presented as the Flash’s archenemy in the modern Flash like he was in the 90’s series, but he was every bit as insane and twisted and evil as the 90’s version.

He has also so far been in more episodes too. Sadly however no mention has been made of Prank in the 21st century Flash, but hopefully she will be in a later episode.

The Flash’s actual archenemy in the series meanwhile Eobard Thawne is a brilliant character. Both of the actors who have brought him to life, Tom Cavannagh and Matt Letscher have managed to create a villain along with the writers who is at times, charming, likable, even seemingly a good person (such as when he helps to save Firestorm.) Yet at other points is a cold, pitiless, arrogant, vicious, petty character.

Eobard’s story arc is truly fascinating from start to finish. Its obvious from the beginning that he is up to something dodgy, but there is still a possibility until we find out he is the man in yellow that he could be working towards a greater good. I remember the first time I watched the series really hoping that he would turn out to be a good guy because I liked him so much I didn’t want him to leave the series.

Of course when he was revealed as the villain I wasn’t angry as he was such an effective nemesis for the Flash. He was so powerful it took the combined might of the Arrow, Firestorm and the Flash (and to some extent the Atom who created a new weapon for the Arrow to use) to bring him down.

Despite this however incredibly enough what actually made him so scary was how manipulative he was. As Barry himself later says, he isn’t just one step ahead of our heroes, he’s a thousand! This is a man who is able to change all of time itself for his own ends. Even when held prisoner and Barry knows that he had killed his mother, Cisco knows that Thawne had murdered him in an alternate timeline, and Caitlin knows that he sacrificed her fiance for his own ends. Thawne still managed to manipulate all 3 of them into doing everything he wanted and almost let him go home!

That’s a truly magnificent bastard. There was also at the same time a certain tragic element to Thawne. Thawne was a scientific genius, someone who was able to replicate the scientific experiment that created the Flash, and master time travel! He had hoped to use his great gifts to help mankind and be remembered as a hero, but when he found out after travelling in time that he was destined to become an evil villain. Ironically it drove him mad.

A part of me wonders if Thawne wanted to erase the Flash from existence more because he felt that by doing so he could be something great, rather than simply because he hated the Flash. It was after all knowledge of being the Flash’s archenemy in the future that pushed him down a dark path. Thus with no Flash maybe he could actually be a hero.

His relationship with Barry is also complicated. In the future the two are archenemies, but when Thawne meets Barry as a young man and mentors him, he does genuinely come to care about him. He later even tells Barry much to his disgust that he loves him like a son.

Whilst Thawne offers Barry a chance to change time and save his mother for his own ends, at the same time I also feel that a part of Thawne wanted to genuinely undo the pain he had inflicted on Barry.

Zoom, Barry’s other archenemy was a more straight forward villain. He didn’t have the complex personality of Thawne. He was really just a psychopath. Still at the same time he was far more terrifying than Thawne.

With Thawne as pitiless as he was, everything he did had a purpose. Even the murder of Noira was to not only punish the Flash, but also to try and erase the hero too by traumatising him at a young age. Zoom however kills and tortures people because he enjoys it!

Zoom’s costume alone was more intimidating and his voice, which was supplied by legendary villain actor Tony Todd made him sound like a Demon.

Teddy Sears who plays the character in his civilian identity, Hunter Solomon was also brilliant. When Solomon disguised himself as Jay Garrick he genuinely was the last person you would have ever thought was evil. Unlike Harrison Wells the previous year who it was obvious was at least equivocal and ruthless from the start. Sears version of Jay couldn’t seem like a more honest, decent, likable guy which just make it all the more horrifying when his true identity is discovered. Sears was later every bit as convincing at making Solomon seem like a cold, vicious sociopath.

This series version of Captain Cold meanwhile played by Wentworth Miller is far superior to the 90’s version. The 90’s version was in all fairness more genuinely sinister, but Miller’s Cold is a far more engaging character.

Miller really makes the role his own as much as Cavannagh did with Thawne or Hamill did with the Trickster.

He brings a real arrogance to Captain Cold or Leonard Snart that just makes you want to watch the Flash take him down a peg or two. At the same time however both Miller and the writers never go to far and are able to add a lot of redeeming qualities to Captain Cold too.

He does genuinely love his sister, and has risked his own life to save her time and time again. He also has his limits in how far he is willing to go. Even flat out refusing to work with a psychopathic mass murderer like the Trickster. Also though he has stabbed Barry Allen in the back at certain points; he has also genuinely helped him out a few times too such as when he warned him of the Trickster and the Weather Wizard’s plan, and he even kept Barry’s secret identity to the end too. Hell he did a better job of keeping his secret identity than Felicity who blabbed it to Merlyn!

Leonard’s a character that you can go from thinking “he’s not so bad” to hating in the blink of an eye, such as when he tells Cisco how much he respects him before torturing his brother right in front of him!

His complex personality also allowed the writers to develop a more interesting relationship between Snart and Barry that wasn’t just the usual villain/hero dynamic. Above all else Snart never truly hated Barry and whilst they never truly become friends, its obvious that Snart does consider Barry the closest thing he could have to a friend on the right side of the law. He even hesitates to shoot Barry when his father threatens his sisters life.

Snarts Rogues, Rory (Heatwave) and his sister Lisa meanwhile were also great villains. Rory had a more simple characterisation. A thick headed arsonist who just loves to fight, but Dominic Purcell (Miller’s co-star from Prison Break) brought a lot of humour to the character that not only made him more enjoyable to watch, but also more endearing at times too.

Lisa meanwhile much like her brother has a more complex personality and walks a fine line. I particularly liked her relationship with Cisco. At first she ruthlessly uses Cisco for her own ends and betrays him, but as time goes on she does actually develop feelings for him. I think she had better chemistry with Cisco than any of his other love interests and I hope they return to their relationship at a later point.

Even many of the lesser villains of the series such as Peek A Boo, General Eiling and Weather Wizard I feel are more interesting than many of the villains of the week in the 90’s show. Peek A Boo is a genuinely tragic character who is stabbed in the back by the person she loves more than anything else, whilst the Weather Wizard is given a strong personal link to the Flash’s love interest Patty Spivot, having murdered her father, which leads to a brilliant showdown between the two.

Eiling meanwhile is an utterly ruthless villain, not above using cold blooded torture to get what he wants, yet at the same time he does believe his evil is for a greater good. So much so he doesn’t expose the identity of the Flash or even make any real attempts on his life as he actually thinks they are on the same side. The fact that Eiling is played by another legendary villain actor, Clancy Brown, also doesn’t hurt in making him a brilliant villain either.

Any show that has Mark Hamill, Tony Todd, and Clancy Brown as the villains has got to be worth a look. All 3 actors are in their elements too. Todd plays a villain who might as well be a horror movie character. An almost Demonic killer that slaughters people without remorse like the Candyman. Hamill meanwhile plays a cackling, devilishly clever, yet funny in a twisted way psycho looney. And finally Brown’s character is almost a combination of Lex Luthor (corrupt, ruthless, amoral mastermind who often manipulates metahumans for his own ends) and Byron Hadley (thuggish, sadistic figure of authority).

Finally due to its bigger budget this show was also able to incorporate some of the larger than life villains from the comics, such as Grodd and King Shark.

The series hasn’t held back in any respect to Grodd’s character. Not only is he a talking Gorilla, but he also desires world domination, and even takes over Gorilla City too.

Overall I’d say the modern Flash series has the 4th best rogues gallery of any Superhero tv show, live action or animated.

The top three would probably be Batman TAS, the Adam West series and Spider-Man TAS, but the Flash 2010’s is definitely the next after them.

Supporting Characters

The 90’s show had a relatively small cast. Just Barry himself, Doctor McGee played by Amanda Hays and Alex Desert as Julio Mendez.

Doctor McGee was a brilliant foil for Barry and Amanda Hays who played her was not only great, but also had a fantastic chemistry with John Wesley Shipp too. Its a shame we never got to see their relationship properly develop. Throughout the series they only ever remain good friends, but there are obviously strong hints that they have romantic feelings for one another too.

Sadly however whilst McGee was a good character, Julio was a bit dull. I didn’t hate him, but he was just a kind of straight forward jokey, ladies man who brought nothing to the show but comic relief.

The only other major supporting character that I really cared about was private detective Megan Lockheart played by Joyce Hyser. Megan was the only other person who figured out the Flash’s secret identity. She was a strong, capable woman, and also a brief love interest of the Flash too.

I enjoyed her character very much. Particularly in the episodes with the Trickster (who fell hopelessly in love with her much to her horror.)  Had the show gone to a second season I would have loved to have seen her become a regular. Sadly however she wasn’t in the show that much to make a major impression.

The 2010’s series meanwhile has I feel one of the strongest casts of any tv show. There’s really not a single character I dislike, which is quite rare for a show with such a large cast.

I’d say my favourite character is Harrison Wells, though I vastly prefer his season 2 incarnation to the season 3 one. Still Tom Cavannagh was excellent as the character, and has demonstrated an extremely wide range across the different incarnations of Wells. He’s been everything from an insufferable genius, to a scheming nemesis, to a sarcastic, dry, cynical outsider to the group, to a tormented, conflicted, loving father, to the useless, jokey member of the gang.

Cisco meanwhile is at times a much lighter character. He can help to alleviate some of the darker moments of the show, such as when he gets into an argument over who would win in a fight, The Flash or Arrow, whilst the two are fighting to the death!

However unlike Julio, I feel that he isn’t just the comic relief. He has more of a direct role in the stories. He actually helps Barry out by supplying him with weapons and tech when his speed doesn’t always work.

Caitlin similarly is a useful member of the team, and she has her own story arcs,  such as the tragic death of her fiance (who she loses three times) and then her second love interest, “Jay Garrick” turns out to be a serial killer. Caitlin really brings a tragic element to the series, outside of Barry himself. Also the knowledge that she one day may become Killer Frost helps to keep the viewers on edge, as at first glance Caitlin is so sweet and caring it seems impossible that she could ever hurt anyone. However with all of the tragedies and betrayals she has endured, you start to wonder if one day she might just get pushed over the edge.

Iris meanwhile though more of a standard love interest is still an all around likable character. I also love her chemistry and relationship with Barry too. What’s great though is that it hasn’t taken over the show the way that other superhero romances do. Indeed Barry has even had other love interests such as Patty in the meantime. Thus it hasn’t been as intrusive, but it still has formed the basis for many stories.

Even Barry and Iris’s decoy love interests Patty and Eddie have been very likable too. Normally the decoy love interests is a character nobody can stand as they are meant to just get in the way of the couple we want to get together.

Here however it kind of backfired for me at least as Eddie and Patty were so likable I wouldn’t have minded them being in the show for good.

Eddie was a pretty cool guy all around. He was an extremely loyal friend to Barry, helping him out whenever he could, protecting his secret even when it threatened to end his relationship with Iris (who he genuinely loved) and he later sacrificed his life to save Barry and everyone else in the end too.

Patty meanwhile I felt brought a similar dynamic that Megan Lockheart did to the original show. She was a bit harder, more gun ho than the other women in Barry’s life and even perhaps a bit more ruthless than Barry himself. Its a shame we didn’t get a chance to see their relationship pan out more.

I must admit I am unsure who I actually want Barry to end up with. His chemistry with Caitlin and Iris and Patty is so perfect I would be happy to see any of those three relationships play out, which again is quite rare. Normally I like everyone else have one character I want the hero to end up with, but in Iris, Patty and Caitlin’s case I’d be just as happy if Barry ended up with any of them.

Don’t you just love the Tricksters “Aww that was beautiful”

Finally Joe also is a great character too. He has an important role in the series as the insider on the law who helps to cover up some of team Flash’s more dodgy and illegal dealings. He’s the more normal character in a team filled with metahumans, genius scientists, and people from alternate universes which can help to ground the show in reality more.

All of the characters in the series have an important reason to be in the show, and they all play off of the main character and each other brilliantly. I think the cast always help to elevate even the poorest episodes, and keep my interest in the show.

Whilst Tina McGee was a good character, she ultimately can’t compete with the 2010’s cast. Also she is a supporting character played by the same actress in the 2010’s show anyway.

Crossovers with other superhero television series

Now obviously this isn’t that fair a comparison as the 90’s show didn’t have any other superhero series to cross over with.

The 2010’s Flash however is part of the Arrowverse, a shared continuity of series based on DC comics characters.

Still it is one thing that I love about the 2010’s series that ultimately was not present in the original 90’s show.

I love the relationship between Oliver Queen (the Arrow) and Barry Allen. Its a classic Batman/Superman dynamic. In fact I think it captures the relationship between the two heroes better than the actual Batman vs Superman film did.

Batman and Superman have always been a great two heroes to put together as you have one who is an ordinary man, who fights evil and corrupt human beings, who lives in a miserable, gritty, crime ridden city, and who has to rely on gadgets to take down his enemies. The other is a superhuman, who lives in a brighter, happier, more advanced city that actually, supervillains aside; looks like a nice place to live. His enemies also naturally tend to be superhumans too, and he deals with more outlandish problems like alien invasions, trips to alternate universes etc.

Now you might think, well why bother trying to replicate the Batman/Superman relationship for Barry and Oliver since they are two different characters? Ultimately however I don’t really see any other type of dynamic they could have had?

Oliver has always been inspired closely by Batman. Both vigilante’s with no powers who are motivated to fight crime by tragic events in their pasts. The Flash meanwhile would obviously fill the role of Superman in this universe as he is the super powered hero who is beloved by the people of the city he works in and faces larger than life enemies, like talking, telepathic Gorilla’s, time travellers, evil superhumans from alternate universes, giant Sharks etc.

So really there was no other way the two heroes could have worked together, and the show takes advantage of what always made those Batman/Superman team ups so fascinating to watch.

On the one hand Oliver is more experienced. His lack of super powers also mean that he never gets caught off guard because he can’t afford to. Added to that the fact that Oliver is more ruthless also means that ironically his enemies are more genuinely scared of him than they are of Barry who they know would never cross the line unless he absolutely had to.

At the same time however, Barry’s super powers obviously make him more useful in certain situations than Oliver. If a building was about to collapse, Oliver would be completely and utterly useless.

Thus its interesting watching these two men interact. On the one hand, Oliver can view the Flash as a rookie and a bit reckless, whilst the Flash at the same time can view Oliver as being out of his league in his city. What’s great is that there is a bit of truth in both instances.

All kinds of tensions can arise when the two work together. Is Barry able to cope with Oliver’s more extreme methods? Does Oliver perhaps feel a bit uncomfortable, being vulnerable for the first time against the metahumans that Barry deals with every day?

Its a fascinating combo and the writers take advantage of the heroes differences on both Arrow and the Flash, but above all else they create a genuine and enduring friendship between Oliver and Barry. At the end of the day they are two men who are devoted to protecting their cities and that unites them in spite of their differences.

There are a lot of little moments between the two that are rather touching, such as Oliver telling a brainwashed and out of control Barry that he still believes in him, or even just Oliver telling Barry that he will always be there for him.

The show gets the balance right of developing a deep friendship between the two heroes, but having there be conflict when necessary. And we also get a cool Flash/Arrow fight in the first season which incredibly enough doesn’t undermine either of them. As Cisco says “its a draw”.

Aside from Arrow there have also been crossovers with Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow. None of these characters have developed quite the rapport with Barry that Oliver has, but still its always enjoyable to watch heroes team up, and in Supergirls case what’s interesting is that she actually comes from another universe to Barry.

Ultimately the 90’s show due to the time it was made, was sadly unable to have its Flash work with other heroes.

Its closer to the comics

Image result for Wally West

Overall I feel that the 2010’s show tries to be as close to the source material as much as it possibly can.

It hasn’t really tried to hold anything back from the comic books, from time travel, to alternate universes, to Ape cities.

Its also managed to include all 3 incarnations of the Flash, Jay Garrick, Barry Allen and Wally West.

Obviously Barry is the main protagonist, and like the previous series it would have been easy for them just to make Barry the only Flash that appeared. To be fair the original series did name Barry’s brother Jay, but again that isn’t really the same thing.

This series however not only included Garrick but actually had him be from another universe just like his comic book counterpart too. Wally West meanwhile joins much later than Barry Allen and will most likely in the Arrowverse take over in 10 years time.

In the first series it is established that there is a crisis involving red skies in the year 2024 which will see the Flash vanish.

This is a reference to the massive crossover event, “Crisis on Infinite Earth’s” where the evil Anti Monitor tried and very nearly succeeded in destroying every universe. The red skies were the first sign of the Anti Monitor coming. Barry Allen meanwhile was killed off during this adventure which led to Wally West taking over as the new Flash.

Now obviously at some point in the Arrowverse’s future there will be a similar battle. Fortunately Barry won’t die in the battle. Instead he will simply be thrown backwards in time along with Thawne, but still in his absence which could be several years for all we know, then Wally most likely will emerge as the Flash in his place. Eventually however Barry will return and become the Flash, which again happened in the comics too.

Wally already has super speed powers and has gone under the name of Kid Flash (just as he did in the comics). However by 2024 he will be old enough to take on the mantle of the adult Flash.

Thus it all flows together quite nicely like in the comic books. Again most other adaptations will often just feature one of the three Flash’s and ignore the other two. The 90’s series just had Barry Allen, whilst the DCAU series had only Wally West. This series meanwhile has had all 3 in just 2 years.

Its not always easy to incorporate the storylines from the comics for various reasons. Obviously for budgetary reasons its hard to do stories about things like Gorilla City, but it can also be difficult to do stories with a large cast of iconic characters as chances are unless its a big massive film franchise then they won’t have the rights to all of the characters involved.

The Flash series ran into this problem when trying to adapt the stories around Earth 3. In the comics Earth 3 was a backwards universe where the Justice League where evil villains, the Crime Syndicate, and villains such as Lex Luthor and the Joker were heroes, Alexander Luthor JR and the Jester respectively.

Now in this series obviously the makers couldn’t gain access to characters like Lex Luthor or the Joker, but they managed to get round that little problem quite well.

In season 1 the main villain, Eobard Thawne disguised himself as Harrison Wells ( a scientist he killed) whilst in season 2 we are introduced to Well’s heroic counterpart from Earth 2 who ends up becoming a close ally and friend of the Flash.

Now its not quite the same as technically the Harrison Wells the Flash knew in season 1, wasn’t the real Wells, it was just Eobard in disguise. Still ultimately we do have Tom Cavannagh play the evil arch villain in season 1, and then play a character who is virtually identical, but is now one of the main heroes of season 2. Thus Harrison Wells is quite a nice stand in for Alexander Luthor JR in the show. Also though he does not make an appearance we find out that Leonard Snart is a good guy on Earth 2 as he is the Mayor of Central City.

At the same time on Earth 2 in the Flash virtually all of the heroic characters on the show apart from Barry, Iris and Joe are all villains. Caitlin is Killer Frost, Cisco is the evil villain Reverb (his brother is also a villain on Earth 2), Firestorm is evil too, whilst Black Canary is Black Siren, a sadistic psychopath that loves using her powers to bring down buildings full of innocent people!

Finally Zoom, though not a counterpart to Barry himself is still that universe’s version of the Flash and is an utter monster that all of Central City lives in fear of. Thus whilst they can’t use Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and Lex Luthor they are still able to capture the essence of these stories by showing our heroes as villains, and villains as heroes.

Zoom’s masterplan to destroy every universe by detonating a weapon on the original Earth which is at the centre of every Universe is similar to Owlman, an evil counterpart of Batman’s plan to destroy every universe by detonating a weapon on Earth Prime the original Earth from the animated movie Crisis on Two Earth’s.

There are two things that the Flash and Batman have in common. One, they both have fought an evil cackling version of Mark Hamill for over 20 years. Two, they both saved every single universe from an evil version of themselves from another universe.

There are many homages not only to comic books, but to other adaptations of the Flash and DC comics superheroes in general.

For instance there are many homages to the 90’s Flash series. Mark Hamill and Amanda Hays both reprise their roles as the Trickster and Doctor McGee, whilst John Wesley Shipp plays both Henry Allen, father of Barry Allen and the real Jay Garrick.

Both the 90’s show and the 2010’s show are actually linked in universe too. In the second season it is shown that the 90’s Flash takes place in an alternate universe to the 2010’s version.

Thus Henry Allen in the 2010’s series is an alternate universe version of the 90’s Flash.

It goes like this.

Earth 90: (universe where the 90’s series takes place) 

Henry Allen SR names his sons Barry Allen and Jay Allen. Both go into the police force and Barry in the early 90’s is later struck by lightening and becomes the Flash. In the early 90’s he works with Tina McGee and fights his archenemy the Trickster, stopping him in the middle of a massive rampage.

Earth 1 (universe where the 2010’s series takes place) 

Henry Allen SR names his son Henry Allen JR instead of Barry. Henry later drops the JR bit. Henry JR for some reason does not go into the police force and becomes a doctor. Thus he never becomes the Flash in the 90’s, and nobody is around to stop the Tricksters 90’s rampage which claims more lives before the Trickster is imprisoned. The Trickster has a son Axel (presumably with Prank) that he may not have had in the 90’s universe.

Henry JR later marries a woman named Noira. They have a son that Henry calls Barry.He calls him Barry as he knows that was one of the names he was going to be called (which he was in Earth 90). Henry’s son Barry later is mutated in a totally different accident in the year 2014 and becomes the Flash of this universe.

A different Barry Allen, the son of the Earth 90’s counterpart (whose called Henry) is the Flash of Earth 1.

Earth 3 (In the original comic books, Jay Garrick’s earth was earth 2 and earth 3 was the universe of the evil Flash. However as we were introduced to the universe of the evil Flash first in this series, it was christened Earth 2 and Earth 3 became Jay’s earth instead.)

In this universe Henry SR and his wife split up before his only son was born. Thus not only does he take her maiden name, but she names him Jay. Jay Allen from Earth 90 was never born in this universe, but obviously his mother liked that name. Thus Henry Allen JR is called Jay Garrick instead.

Jay in the 90’s is later through an accident mutated into becoming the Flash of that universe who would go on to battle various super villains including his archenemy, that universe’s version of the Trickster. Presumably like his counterpart, Barry Allen on Earth 90, he went into the police force and was struck by lightening.  Jay is later captured by Zoom from Earth 2 who steals his identity before he is rescued by Barry from Earth 1 (ironically just after Zoom murdered Henry Allen of Earth 1)

Thus the 2010’s show not only paid tribute to the 90’s show it linked them together in a brilliant way with the 2010’s version really being a what if version of the original 90’s show.

Once again its not an entirely fair comparison as the 90’s show didn’t have the budget or the run to really adapt as many stories from the comics, but still ultimately I do think the 90’s show captures the spirit of the comic books more and I love the homages to previous versions of the Flash and the comic books filtered throughout the 2010’s show.

Conclusion

As you can see I obviously prefer the 2010’s show. It was close, and there were things the 90’s show did better (such as the main hero himself!) Still I think that the 2010’s show is better because it has a stronger supporting cast and rogues gallery, and the fact that it is part of a shared universe, the Arrowverse, as well its more advanced special effects mean that it is able to incorporate more of the comics mythology.

Still both shows are classics and are definitely worth checking out. Its also worth mentioning that without the 90’s show the modern one wouldn’t exist either.

Thanks for reading.

Film review: The Lego Batman Movie

Richard's Blog

lego-batman

“Does Batman live in Bruce Wayne’s basement?”
“No, Bruce Wayne lives in Batman’s attic.”

I have to admit, I thought the original Lego Movie was only okay. I really liked how it brought together so many different characters and how it utilised its Lego foundations, but I didn’t take to the main characters all that much. However, I’ve been really looking forward to The Lego Batman Movie for a while, both for the really great comedy which was on display in the trailers, and – as with the first movie – the mass of characters it was going to use. Plus I love Batman, and a new story built around this more satiric version of him, and the Gotham City he inhabits, looked like it would be worth watching. As it turned out, I wasn’t disappointed.

This particular incarnation of Batman (Will Arnett) revels in how awesome he is, and…

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Why Women in Refrigerators is Nonsense

Image result for women in refrigerators

Women in Refrigerators is a term coined by comic book writer Gail Simone to describe a supposed tendency in comic books for female characters to be killed, tortured or maimed in order to further a male characters story.

The term comes from a notorious issue of Green Lantern where the characters love interest is literally stuffed into a fridge by his archenemy.

Whilst originally meant to simply highlight the trend of female characters being expendable in comic books, women in refrigerators has since become used to refer to other similar examples in film, television and even video games.

Anita Sarkeesian has accused many video games of being guilty of the women in refrigerators trope, whilst Whovian Feminism accused the death of supporting character Osgood in Doctor Who as being yet another example of a female character being “fridged”

Osgood the fangirl

I used to think the women in refrigerators trope was reasonable. I even agreed with Whovian Feminism that Osgood had been fridged, but in recent months I have come to see it as another example of people looking at things one way with male characters and another more negative way for female characters.

In this article I am going to debunk this old trope. I don’t think it is entirely without merit, but by and large I think this criticism is hollow and a double standard that needs to die.

Why Its Bogus

The Women in Refrigerators trope has often been accused of promoting harmful and even violent attitudes towards women in young male readers

Personally I do not agree that any forms of entertainment can influence someone to be a killer. Whilst I can’t say that for sure, its worth noting that there is absolutely no evidence for people like Sarkeesian’s claims that video games (and for that matter other forms of entertainment) influence people towards violence or even racist or sexist thoughts.

Studies Find No Link Between Video Game and Real World Violence

So personally I don’t think violent comic books are in any danger of producing a generation of woman hating psychopaths!

On top of that I also feel that women in refrigerators is a double standard.

When you look at female dominated series such as Xena, Charmed and Nikita you can see many examples of male characters being killed, tortured and maimed in order to further the main female characters story.

In Xena 9 supporting male characters are killed off in 6 seasons. Compare that to Spider-Man that has killed off two female characters in 50 plus years. Male characters that are killed off in Xena to further her and Gabrielle’s stories are, her brother whose murder helped to drive Xena down a dark path. Her father whose murder also put a strain on her relationship with her mother. Her one true love Marcus (who dies twice), her first husband who sacrifices himself, her lover from her dark days Borias, Joxer her bumbling sidekick, her son Solon, her son Solon’s adopted Centaur father and Gabrielle’s husband, Perdicus.

In Once Upon A Time the three main female characters all have male loved ones who were killed off to further their story. Regina the evil queen who was driven down a dark path when her one true love was killed off. He is in a later episode brought back to life as a Frankenstein’s monster, only to be killed off again!

Snow White’s father meanwhile was murdered by the Evil Queen which marked the beginning of their feud. Similarly Emma, the main female protagonists love interest Bae is killed off in the shows third season too.

In Nikita a supporting male character Birkhof is brutally tortured by her nemesis Amanda, who also cripples him by smashing his thumbs. Her love interest Michael meanwhile also loses his hand too.

In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Xander Harris gets his eye gouged out by the deranged priest Caleb too, which is comparable to Barbara Gordon as Batgirl as both characters were crippled, disfigured.

In Charmed meanwhile Pru’s love interest throughout the first season Andy is killed off in the season 1 finale, whilst Phoebe’s love interest in season 3 Cole is similarly later killed off in season 5.

There are many more examples from other female dominated series, yet no one ever comments on these works being anti men. Not that they should of course. There is noting anti men about killing off a fictional male character for the purpose of advancing a story, but still you can see what I mean about how this is a double standard as apparently killing off fictional female characters for the purposes of advancing a story is misogynistic.

When you look at the following two famous examples of a supporting male character being killed off in a female dominated series, Xena the Warrior Princess, and a supporting female character being killed off in a male dominated comic, Batman. You can see more clearly how there is a real double standard in common “Women in Refrigerators” complaints.

These two adventures follow the same basic story, yet one is routinely derided as a piece of sexist trash, whilst the other is not controversial at all.

In the Xena episode, Return of Callisto, Xena’s archenemy slaughters Gabrielle, Xena’s best friend’s husband right in front of her. Callisto hopes that this will drive Gabrielle insane just as Callisto was by the death of her family at Xena’s hands. Callisto’s family were burned to death in front of her when as a child Xena’s army attacked her village and accidentally caused a fire that burned the village to the ground.

Though Gabrielle comes close to murdering Callisto in her sleep, ultimately she can’t go through with it, showing Callisto that perhaps its not all Xena’s fault that she became a monster. Gabrielle endured a similar loss yet remained the same decent person she always was.

In the classic Batman comic, The Killing Joke; the Joker wants to prove that one bad day is all it takes to drive the sanest man alive to lunacy. We discover through flashbacks that the Joker was originally a failed comedian, who planned to help two criminals rob a chemical plant he worked at in order to provide for his pregnant wife, Jeannie.

Sadly however not only was Jeannie killed in a freak accident before the robbery, but when robbing the plant, the un named comedian was accidentally knocked by Batman into a vat of chemicals that bleached his skin white, finally pushing him over the edge and driving him insane.

In the present the Joker shoots Barbara Gordon through the stomach in front of her father Commissioner Gordon and strips her, takes pictures of her naked body, and later shows them to a captive Gordon whilst torturing him to drive him mad.

Gordon however remains sane, ultimately proving to the Joker that normal people don’t become monsters because of one bad day. Perhaps the darkness was always there lurking inside him somewhere waiting to come out.

Now whilst I would personally regard both stories as classics and both are very highly regarded by most fans of their respective franchises, The Killing Joke has also been highly criticised for being sexist because of how it treats Batgirl.

Question is why? How is it any different to the Return of Callisto? In fact ironically it seems very likely that it inspired the Return of Callisto as obviously the makers of Xena were big comic book fans.

Both stories revolve around a psychotic, giggling arch villain that was driven insane because of one bad day, that involved the death’s of their family. Both villains were also in a way created by the hero too. In both stories the psychotic villain wants to prove that anyone could be a monster like them and so they attack someone close to one of the main characters to make them snap. In both cases however the person, Gabrielle and Gordon don’t crack and the Joker and Callisto are forced to come to the conclusion that they are more responsible for their actions than they thought.

Yet apparently when the cackling villain, supporting character who loses a loved one, and main hero roles, are all occupied by men, and the victim role is occupied by a woman then its sexist, but not the other way around?

These articles even argue that The Killing Joke should not have been adapted as an animated movie as its inherently sexist, (the author of one of the articles, a lifelong Batman fan claims he even refused to buy any DC Comics in protest over the animated Killing Joke being made)

Its Time To Kill The Killing Joke

Batmans Killing Joke Story Is Not A Comeback I Want To See

In the second article the author claims that the only critics of his opinions about The Killing Joke were men. Well for the record the person who helped me run the “Petition to Get Mark Hamill To Play The Joker In An Animated Killing Joke” was a woman!

In addition to this a recent cover that featured the Joker terrorising Batgirl (that was meant to celebrate the Jokers 75th anniversary and was therefore an homage to the Killing Joker) was even pulled because of feminist complaints

DC Comics Pulls Batgirl Cover Over Sexist Complaints

Now if the team behind the Xena remake decide to do their own version of The Return of Callisto (which they should as that is an amazing storyline), will they have to put up with constant complaints that this story encourages violence towards men?  Will they have to deal with people boycotting all Xena related products for promoting a supposed dated, misandristic story? Will they even have to pull certain aspects of the story, so as not to offend any whiny MRA’s?

No of course not. It would be utterly ridiculous if they did, so why then does The Killing Joke get such treatment?

Its a double standard plain and simple. Why should the writers of male led series not be allowed to use a particular trope, but the writers of female led series are because of the main gender of the hero?

I freely admit I have been guilty of this attitude in the past when I criticised Steven Moffat for using a supposedly “sexist trope” in killing off Osgood, but praised the makers of Xena for creating a powerful drama in killing off Perdicus. It never occurred to me that it was a double standard but it was.

Its an old trope that in order to sell a villain as a threat, or to raise the stakes you have the villain kill someone close to the main hero. Gender doesn’t really enter into it at all. In something starring a straight male hero, chances are the most important person to them will be a woman. Their wife, their daughter etc. In something starring a straight female hero meanwhile chances are the most important person in their life will be a man, their husband, boyfriend.

Of course that’s not always the case. In many male led franchises there have been just as many supporting male characters killed of as women, in some cases more.

In Angel, Spider-Man and Supernatural there have been just as many major male supporting characters killed off. Spider-Man’s Uncle Ben and the father of his first love Gwen Stacey both famously met tragic ends. You could also count Harry Osborne in the films. I wouldn’t count him in the comics as he was a villain in them, but in the films he redeems himself and still dies.

In Angel meanwhile two main female and two main male cast members are killed off over the course of its 5 year run, Fred and Cordelia, and Doyle and Wesley. In Supernatural meanwhile there has been an equally large amount of male and female supporting characters killed off over the course of its run too.

In Firefly, a male led franchise  more male supporting characters are killed off, Derrial Book and Wash. In the original Star Trek if you include the films, the only two recurring or main characters to be killed, were two men Spock (who got better to be fair) and David, Kirk’s son. In Smallville meanwhile 4 main male cast members were killed off over the course of its 10 year run, whilst only one female main cast member died.

In Buffy on the other hand, a female led series, ironically more female supporting characters were killed off than male. Jenny, Giles love interest, Tara, Willow’s one true love and Anya, Xanders former fiance.

But that’s the point gender doesn’t matter. The trope exists as seen with Willow and Tara, Gabrielle and Perdicus, and Peter Parker and Gwen Stacey regardless of gender or sexuality. Now whether you think its lazy story telling, or a waste of good characters like Osgood, Tara and Batgirl is another matter. Personally at the time before she was brought back I did feel that Osgood’s death was a waste of a good character, but again that doesn’t mean it was sexist in the slightest.

Many feminist critics have argued however that we see more female supporting characters killed off than male overall and thus its not specific examples that need to be scrutinised but rather the trend as a whole.

This is a more fair point, and I certainly wouldn’t disagree that there are more male heroes. Though I think by and large including all one off’s, villains and supporting characters, more men are actually killed than women in all forms of entertainment, though more on that later.

Still yes at one point it was true, particularly in comic books that main female characters would be more likely to be the love interest or sidekick and thus more likely to be “fridged” and that was bad.

Times move on however. In the last 20 years alone we have had dozens of female heroes emerge in various forms of media, film, television, video games, comic books to massive acclaim.

Arguably the most successful original characters in the fantasy genre of the past 20 or so years have all been women.

Buffy, without doubt one of the greatest ever icons, easily on a par with the Doctor or Captain Kirk. Xena another global icon, so popular they named a planet after her. The Charmed ones were until just last year (when Supernatural surpassed them) the stars of the longest running fantasy series in American history!

Now in all fairness Marvel and DC are still feature predominantly male heroes. The reason for that however is because most of their characters were created in the 30’s, 40’s, 50’s or 60’s and have stuck around since then. Characters like the Joker, Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, Captain American etc are deeply set in popular culture and are naturally going to get more exposure than any new female heroes or male heroes for that matter.

Obviously sometimes a new hero can end up becoming as iconic as the classics, like Wolverine who was created much later than many of the rest of the X-Men, but is now the most popular, or Ra’s Al Ghul a major Batman villain who was created in the 70’s.

However generally speaking most of the main DC and Marvel roster were created decades ago and thus naturally most of them are male.

Overall however I don’t think it can be said that female heroes are a rarity in the sci fi and fantasy genre in the modern age.

As time goes on we will see more and more female heroes. Yes the old established heroes from the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s  etc are mostly male, but that doesn’t matter. Keep those heroes, but just move on and create new female ones. I think that nowadays too many feminist critics are focused on attacking male dominated franchises rather than encouraging people to not only create more female dominated ones, but pay attention to the existing female led classics such as Xena and Charmed.

Why bother attacking The Killing Joke for being sexist instead of reviewing and trying to bring attention to The Return of Callisto?

Many feminist critics have argued that more male supporting characters who are killed off, or maimed and tortured are often brought back to normal. A famously cited example is Jason Todd, the second Robin and Barbara Gordon. Jason Todd was beaten to death by the Joker. 10 or so years later however, Jason returned from the grave, whilst Barbara remained in a wheel chair for over 20 years. This is often referred to as Dead Men Defrosting. However I find this to be a bit of a myth too.

What a lot of people fail to mention about Jason is that yes, he did return from the grave but he became a psychopath, and killed people. Okay Barbara remained in a wheelchair, but she was still herself. If anything she became even more of a hero after her accident as Oracle and certainly lived a much happier life than poor old Jason. Its ironic that so many progressives apparently see being a disabled hero as worse than being a psycho killer!

Other famous supporting male characters like Captain Stacey, Uncle Ben and Thomas Wayne, bar the odd time travelling mistake or visit to an alternate universe have stayed dead too.

Also many other examples of Dead Men Defrosting such as Barry Allen are different as those are main characters. Barry isn’t just somebody’s father or love interest. He was the Flash, arguably the most iconic version and so its natural that he would return more than say Gwen Stacey.

Many feminists have argued that female lives are seen as more expendable and that their deaths or even torture scenes are often more explicit and gorier than male ones which again is not true.

If anything I’d argue that male lives are generally seen as more expendable in both male led and female led series

Its male villains that Batman will often be more likely to violently assault than female ones. Who were the three villains he violently killed in the original film series? Joker, Penguin and Two Face all guys. Even just the mooks he kills in the films were all men, and it will almost always be male mobsters that he beats up, tortures for information or even just terrorises in other versions of Batman.

Similarly most of the Vampires and Demons Angel slays will be male, most of the Doctors rogues gallery that he slaughters en mass will at the very least be more masculine (played by men, sound like men, eg Sontarans, Daleks and Cybermen)

Also on top of that men make up by far more, get killed on the planet guys, victims of the week, and red shirts than women do.

In the original Star Trek series there is only one female red shirt in the entire series. The rest are all without exception men! Similarly in the original series of Doctor Who, there was only one female UNIT soldier killed in the entirety of the classic series. It was in the story Battlefield and I might add was given a lot more focus than the majority of male UNIT soldiers deaths are.

The actress who played the soldiers killer, Jean Marsh even said she found the scene distasteful (though necessary to establish how evil her character was) and didn’t enjoy doing it.

No women are killed by the Daleks onscreen (the most evil of all the Doctors enemies) until their 6th story, the Power of the Daleks. In The Dalek Invasion of Earth we briefly see a woman being struck by a Roboman, but other than that all of the Daleks victims are guys. I might add that there are major female characters in every single Dalek story bar Mission to the Unknown before The Power of the Daleks.

After The Power of the Daleks it wouldn’t be for another 13 years until we saw the Daleks kill another woman onscreen and there are major women characters in every Dalek story in between too. The Daleks only kill women in 4 stories in Classic Who. The Cybermen, the Doctors other longest running adversaries only kill 2 women on screen in the entirety of Classic Who. The Sontarans meanwhile kill no women on screen in Classic Who.

In the Spider-Man film series, only two women are killed on screen in the original Sam Raimi trilogy. 18 men meanwhile are killed onscreen throughout the trilogy.

In the original Batman film series, only 4 women are killed on screen (not including scenes where the whole crowd is gassed and hundreds of people are killed at once or the two models the Joker killed offscreen). In contrast 19 men by my count are killed on screen across all 4 films. Almost 5 times as many.

In the X-Men film series meanwhile, far more women are killed on screen than in other film series. However that’s to be expected as not only does it have more female characters, but the darker “everybody” dies tone of the films such as in Days of Future Past (before its reset) means that more women are likely to be killed.

Even then however more men are killed on screen by far. Take a look at this scene alone More men are killed in this one sequence than women are in the entire film series.

Male deaths are not only more common on screen in male led series such as Batman, but also female led ones such as Xena.

Not only are far more male supporting characters killed off in Xena, but far more major villains, and indeed almost all of the mooks she slaughters are male. Similarly in Buffy the majority of the Vampires and Demons she stakes, the majority of the victims of the week and her major enemies, are male. In Charmed almost all of the three sisters enemies are male too, and again so are a good percentage of the victims of the week.

Far more men are killed across all major franchises in all mediums on screen. A female characters death is often treated more seriously and never usually just as a grunt or red shirt.

Finally I don’t think that female characters deaths are any more gruesome than their male counterparts.

Take for instance this scene from Nikita of Berkhoff being tortured by a female villain. I don’t think you can say he gets off easy in this scene because he is a man!

Birkhoff is benefiting from white male privilege it seems. 

Why Does This Myth Persist?

 

I think the women in refrigerators myth continues to perpetuate ironically due to ignorance of female led series.

I’ve noticed that many feminists ironically have 0 interest in female led series such as Charmed, Xena, Nikita, Once Upon A Time, Alien, Earth 2, Dollhouse, Ghost Whisperer, Alien etc.

So many feminists instead seem to focus their attention on male led series such as Batman, Doctor Who, Merlin etc, such as Claudia Boleyn. Claudia Boleyn is a lovely person all around. On twitter and on youtube she is always polite to people she disagrees with, and never tries to censor other people’s opinions. I also do find her videos interesting (even if politically she is on the opposite side to me in some respects. Its nice to hear the other persons perspective).

Yet still I’ve noticed that the majority of the shows she talks about are male led. Now again I am obviously not saying that means she hates female led shows, but I find it odd at the same time that someone who claims that she cares so much about seeing people like her on television, has never even mentioned Xena, a show that stars two bisexual women!

Of course Claudia is not alone. Whovian Feminism is similarly another feminist who focuses all of her efforts on a male led series, obviously as her name would suggest. Ditto Paul Cornell, a feminist who claims he cares passionately about female representation, yet never even mentions the likes of Charmed, Buffy, Xena, Nikita etc.

Instead all of these people are focusing their efforts on trying to prove that male led series are sexist, again seemingly for starring men!

In my opinion if these feminist and progressive fans want to actually help bring about representation to women then they should do the following things.

1/ Create new female characters. I honestly do not believe there are any barriers to that in the modern world. Charmed alone was at that point the longest running fantasy series in American history.

2/ At least try and draw more attention to series like Xena, Charmed, Buffy, Earth 2, Ghost Whisperer and others by reviewing them instead of just finding new ways to attack male led series for doing the same things that female series do, like killing off supporting characters to further the main characters story.

Thanks for reading. Let me know what you think in the comments below. I appreciate that this might be seen as a rather controversial stance to take on this issue, but I stand by my points and I would like to hear other people’s perspectives on this.

Cult Actors 11 Mark Hamill

Mark Hamill is easily one of sci fi’s greatest leading men as well as one of its most versatile talents.

Whilst most famous for playing Luke Skywalker, the main hero from the original Star Wars trilogy. Hamill has brought a wide variety of colourful characters to life in his decades long career, from psychotic supervillains (such as most famously Batman’s nemesis, the Joker), to Hanukkah Zombies, to Paranormal detectives to ancient biblical figures. He has also enjoyed both a successful career in live action and become one of the most acclaimed and in demand voice actors of his generation. All of this of course makes him the perfect candidate for this weeks edition of Cult Actors.

We will examine Hamill’s most famous genre roles, as well as some of my own personal favourites, and see how he went from being  the most noble of heroes for one generation, to the vilest of villains for another.

Early Career

Mark Hamill’s career began in the early 70’s with among his first prominent roles being recurring character Kent Murray on General Hospital and the leading role of Doobie in the short lived sitcom The Texas Wheelers. He also guest starred on television series such as The Partridge Family and One Day At A Time.

He also did some voice acting in the 70’s too including supplying the voice of Corey Anders in the animated series Jeannie. Corey was the love interest of the title character voiced by Julie McWhirter. He later voiced the same character in a special crossover episode of Scooby Doo, “The Mystery in Persia” in 1973.

Whilst Hamill enjoyed a consistent career on television throughout the 70’s, it would ultimately be his starring role in Star Wars as Luke Skywalker that would make him a household name.

Star Wars Film Series/ Luke Skywalker

The main hero of the original Star Wars trilogy, Hamill has to date played this character on and off for almost 40 years!

Its funny thinking that Hamill only landed the role thanks to his friend Robert Englund (best known for playing the evil Freddy Krueger in A Nightmare on Elm Street film series) who whilst auditioning for a role in Apocalypse Now noticed that there were auditions going on down the hall for Star Wars and suggested to Hamill that he try out for the role of Luke.

Luke was something of a bland character on paper. A straight forward good guy with no real faults, but I think Mark brought a certain energetic quality to the character that made him more engaging to watch as well as a certain vulnerability in his relationship with Obi Wan that helped to make him seem more three dimensional. Though many fans and critics alike have accused Luke of being too whiny and I can understand why, but it has to be remembered that Luke at this point is meant to be a whiny teenager who we see gradually grow over the course of the original 3 films into the hero of the galaxy.

Over the years Luke despite being the main protagonist of the original trilogy has been somewhat overshadowed by the roguish Han Solo in popular culture. It is to be expected as after all Luke is the goody two shoes, whilst Han Solo was the cool guy who got all the best lines.

Still I think its fair to say that many of the most iconic moments in the series still tend to be centered around Luke such as his final showdown with the Death Star and of course the famous revelation that Darth Vader is his father.

Personally I always preferred Luke anyway. I’m not saying I disliked Han Solo, but sometimes he could be a bit too smug for my liking. Luke I always found to be likable and his story I always found to be more interesting. When we first meet him we couldn’t imagine anyone less likely to bring down the fearsome Empire. A whiny brat who wants to shirk all responsibility to go hang out with his friends, but as time goes on we see him mature and slowly become a great and noble warrior capable of besting even Darth Vader.

Though Luke was perhaps a bit too idealistic at times, I don’t think this worked against the character as again he was much younger than Solo, and when you are young you do tend to see things in more simplistic ways.

Whilst the success of Star Wars made Hamill a star around the world, his career would somewhat suffer on both the big and the small screen throughout the 80’s.

He found himself typecast as the hero for many years and though he did get starring roles in other successful films such as the comedy Corvette Summer opposite Annie Potts (in her film debut), the epic war film The Big Red One opposite Lee Marvin and the Musical The Night the Lights Went Out opposite Dennis Quaid. Ultimately he found it hard to escape the young Jedi’s shadow.

Hamill poking fun at his typecasting problem in a later episode of The Simpsons, Mayored to the Mob.

Apparently he was turned down for the role of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in the film adaptation of the famous play about his life ( a role that he had played to great acclaim on stage years earlier in 1983) because the studio executives did not want Luke Skywalker in the film.

It would not be until the 90’s through his roles as The Trickster and The Joker that his career would be revitalised.

Still despite this Hamill never shied away from talking about his star making role as Luke and regularly spoofed it on television in series such as Family Guy, The Simpsons and Third Rock From the Sun.

He most recently reprised the role in Star Wars Episode 7 The Force Awakens, though his appearance in this film was a tiny cameo, it has been conformed that he will be be appearing in a larger role in Star Wars Episode 8 The Last Jedi.

With the character of Luke alone, Hamill secured himself a place as one of popular Sci Fi’s greatest icons. Whilst he has since gone on to play many more famous characters, Luke still endures and has secured Hamill a place alongside Sci Fi’s other great leading men.

Body Bags/ Brent Matthews

Hamill appeared in this classic anthology horror telemovie, in the final segment as a man who is taken over by the spirit of a serial killer.

Hamill’s character is a successful baseball player whose life is turned upside down when he suffers an accident that costs him his right eye. He subsequently undergoes an experimental operational procedure to replace it, but unfortunately the eye he gets belonged to a serial killer and a necrophilliac whose soul starts to take him over and try and re enact his killings.

The premise for the story is completely absurd. It was later parodied in an episode of the Simpsons called Hell Toupee where Homer Simpson gets a hair transplant and is taken over by the spirit of criminal Snake.

Still despite this the film works because it takes its absurd premise completely seriously and Mark Hamill is able to deliver quite a nuanced performance as he switches between the loving husband Brent and the monster that tries to take him over.

Village of the Damned/ Reverend George

A more minor role, Hamill appeared in this remake of the 1960’s cult classic. Though it was poorly received at the time of release it has since developed a huge cult following.

The most notable thing about Hamill’s character is the way he is killed when the demonic children force him to shoot himself. Its not the goriest death in the film but its still quite disturbing nonetheless.

Whilst not as strong the original 60’s classic overall its a decent remake and it was quite nice at this point in his career to see Hamill return to playing a more toned down character after the string of cackling villains he had played.

The Trickster/ The Flash (1990’s), Justice League Unlimited, Lego DC Comics Superheroes: Attack of the Legion of Doom, The Flash (2014), Justice League Action

The Trickster is probably the character people associate with Hamill the most after Luke and the Joker. Not only did his performance as this character prove to be very popular, but he has also returned to the role many times over the past almost 30 years like the Joker and Luke.

Hamill first played the Trickster in the classic 1990’s live action version of the Flash. Whilst highly regarded now, sadly the show was not that successful when it first aired. It only lasted one season before being cancelled.

I think the series had real potential. It treated the source material seriously and it had a strong cast too. Clearly the show was both inspired by and also trying to cash in on the success of the Burton Batman films. The Flash was re-imagined as a darker, more brooding, angsty hero who was motivated by the death of a loved one at the hands of criminals like Batman. His costume is also reminiscent of Michael Keatons as Batman too, with the same sculpted latex muscles.

The show also had a dark and gritty tone like the Burton movies and took place in similar gloomy, Gothic settings. Finally its theme was also provided by Danny Elfman who also provided the theme for the Burton Batman films.

Mark Hamill’s version of the Trickster can be seen as yet another example of the Burton Batman’s influence on the series. In many ways he owes more to Jack Nicholson’s show stealing performance as the Joker than he does the Trickster of the comics.

In the comics the Trickster was really more of a lovable rogue than a villain. He was a crook, but he made sure that his crimes never killed anyone. He enjoyed his rivalry with the Flash, but he still had immense respect for him as a hero, and even liked him personally. In later issues the Trickster even became a fully fledged anti hero.

For this series however the Trickster is re-imagined as a sadistic, murdering psychopath like the Joker. Clearly the producers wanted the Flash to have a similar flamboyant, crazy archfoe like Nicholson’s Joker. A further parallel between the two villains can be found in the Tricksters first episode where he falls in love with the Flash’s love interest Megan Lockheart.

This is similar to the first Burton Batman film where the Joker falls in love with Batman’s love interest Vicki Vale. In both instances rather humorously the Joker and the Trickster think they have two love rivals in the form of Bruce Wayne and Batman, and Barry Allen and the Flash and try to murder the more harmless one, Bruce and Barry, being completely unaware that they are really the secret identity of their other ” love rival” Batman and the Flash.

If only the Trickster and the Joker knew that they were getting rid of the other guy too I think they’d have tried a bit harder.

In both cases the Joker and Tricksters crush’s led to some hilarious moments as the two villains are even crazier when in love (as indeed are we all).

The two whilst always psycho loonies become completely divorced from any kind of objective reality when pursuing the object of their affections. When the Joker first meets Vicki, he introduces himself by killing everyone else in the cafe, showing her pictures of his previous victims, and his girlfriend whose face he has burned off with acid, after which he tries to burn Vicki’s face off with acid before Batman rescues her. He later sees this as him “doing well with a beautiful woman before she ran off with Batman.”

With the Trickster meanwhile he and Megan first meet when she is chasing him for a series of grisly murders he carried out. The Trickster however corners Megan and captures her, after which he tries to slice her in half with a chainsaw. The Flash manages to save her in time, but the Trickster suddenly as he is being carted off falls in love with Megan and actually comes to believe that he saved her from the Flash and that she has been put under the Flash’s evil spell. Furthermore he also comes to believe that she was his loyal sidekick Prank, even though he never at any point had a sidekick called Prank.

When the Trickster first tells Megan that he has fallen in love with her, mere minutes after having tried to slice her in half you think he is joking. You think its just a taunt as the police take him away, but later when he is in the car talking about his beloved you realise “fuck he’s actually serious!

Whilst this version of the Trickster may have borrowed a lot from the Joker, in a nice irony he also may have inspired later versions of the Clown Prince of Crime too.

In his second appearance the Trickster is shown to be assisted by a young blonde woman named Zoey Clarke. Clarke begins as a groupie of the Trickster, sending him love letters in prison and yelling at Megan Lockheart that she didn’t deserve him, but eventually she helps him to escape and actually becomes his fantasy sidekick Prank.

Prank is utterly devoted to the Trickster even though he is relentlessly cruel to her. He ignores her at the best of times. He threatens to kill her, ties her up and puts a bag over her head that says “NAG NAG NAG” when she annoys him and regularly betrays her, sometimes even just because it amuses him rather than because he’s a dirty coward.

Yet despite this she always remains loyal to him. Zoey/Prank bares many similarities to Harley Quinn, the Jokers lover/sidekick who debuted many years later in Batman the Animated series. Harley like Zoey/Prank is utterly devoted to the Joker in spite the extreme physical and mental abuse he inflicts on her. Even on a superficial level they are both blonde, bubbly and sweet on the surface, but underneath they are vicious, sadistic and in their own way just as twisted and mad as the Joker and the Trickster themselves. Both even dress in similar bright, clown colours too.

There is even a scene where Zoey/Prank attempts to remove the Flash’s mask only to be threatened with death by the Trickster for trying to interfere in his rivalry with the hero. This is similar to the classic comic Mad Love, and its animated adaptation where Harley, foolishly believing that Batman is getting in the way of her and the Jokers courtship, captures Batman and tries to kill him only for the Joker to throw her through a 5 storey window for trying to interfere in his fun with Batman!

You can see from these clips how the Trickster/Prank dynamic was a complete precursor to the Joker/Harley relationship. You could replace all 3 characters in the second video with the Joker, Harley and Batman and I don’t think you’d have to change anything but the names.

I have no idea if Prank was an influence on Harley. I must admit I have never seen her be mentioned as such, but she was definitely still her spiritual predecessor nonetheless. A blonde, childlike, sweet, but crazy murderer who was inexplicably devoted to a giggling, vicious psychopath who constantly mistreated her in the most appalling way’s played by Mark Hamill!

Whilst the Trickster was depicted as being the Flash’s archenemy, he was only in 2 episodes of the series. To be fair though the show only lasted for one year. Had it gone on longer then I’m sure he would have been in many more episodes.

The two episodes featuring the Trickster are in my opinion the best in the entire show. I think this series suffered from the fact that it was unable to use a lot of the Flash’s colourful rogues gallery. This was due to practical reasons as they simply couldn’t have brought characters like Gorilla Grodd to life realistically on their budget.

They did still have a few of the Flash’s other enemies such as Captain Cold and Mirror Master, as well as an evil version of The Flash based on the numerous Reverse Flash’s over the years.

However the Trickster was the real standout rogue of the series. He almost made up for the fact that they couldn’t have more famous enemies of the Flash. I’d rate Hamill’s Trickster as one of the greatest comic book villains adapted to film or television.

Like Nicholson’s Joker he simply steals any scene he is in and he is really what people remember the most from the 90’s series. That’s not to do down John Wesley Shipp who was a brilliant Flash, but I think that Hamill’s Trickster was really a stand out villain in every respect.

I’d say that the best episode with the Trickster was his second appearance. Here the Trickster captures and brainwashes the Flash, turning him into his partner in crime.

The scenes of the Trickster and the Flash going on a crime spree together and later putting Central City on trial are hilarious. They go completely Adam West in terms of how absurd they make it. I can kind of understand why the Trickster abandoned Prank for the Flash as he and the evil Flash are way more fun together.

You can tell Hamill and Shipp loved doing these scenes together. 

Hamill would go on to reprise the role of the Trickster over 10 years later in the animated series Justice League Unlimited.

The character only appeared in one episode “Flash and Substance.” Though drawn to resemble the version from the 90’s live action series, this interpretation of the character is actually closer to the comic book version. This Trickster though still insane is not a murderer. He is also a friend of the Flash and indeed the Flash later convinces him to not only tell him of a plot by the rogues to kill the Flash, but even turn himself in without a fight.

Whilst not as wild as his 90’s version, it was nice to see Mark get a chance to play a Trickster that was actually closer to the original version for once rather than a Joker copy.

Hamill next played the character in the animated movie “Lego DC Comics Superheroes: Attack of the Legion of Doom” (he also voiced Green Lantern’s archenemy Sinestro in this film too.) A joke is made about his resemblance to the Joker in other media, with someone even mistaking him for Batman’s archenemy.

Hamill later went on to reprise the role in live action in The Flash 2014 series. This series which is currently on its third season is a spin off of Arrow, with it, Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow all making up a shared continuity.

I think this series has been a worthy successor to the original 90’s show. It has a strong cast, great characters, and it is faithful to the source material. Unlike the 90’s series it has been able to feature even the most over the top villains from the comics such as the Shark King.

The makers of this series are big fans of the 90’s series too and have filled it full of many references, tributes and Easter eggs to the 90’s series.

To start with many cast members of the 90’s version have made appearances in the modern Flash. Mark Hamill obviously reprises his role as the Trickster, whilst Amanda Pays also reprises her role as Tina McGee from the original too. John Wesley Shipp meanwhile plays Barry Allen’s father, Henry Allen.

The connections between the 90’s show and the 10’s show run deeper than that however. Its not a sequel but they are actually connected in universe. In its second season the modern Flash show explores the concept of alternate universes. When the Flash travels through the multiverse to Earth 2 we get a glimpse of other alternate universes. One of them is the universe the CW television series Supergirl takes place on (which is conformed when the Flash ends up travelling to her universe in Supergirl’s first season). Whilst another is shown to be the universe of the 90’s Flash.

This therefore means that not only do both series take place in the same multiverse, but the modern show is really an alternate version of the events of the 90’s show and that Hamill, Pays and Shipp are all playing alternate versions of their characters from the 90’s series. So in a way they are reprising their roles.

Though one discrepancy does exist in the fact that Shipp’s character is called Henry in the 10’s show and Barry in the 90’s show when they are supposed to be counterparts to each other, it can be explained this way.

In the 90’s show’s universe which we will just call Earth 90 for practicality sake, Henry Allen was named Barry instead. Maybe his parents had settled on either Henry or Barry as their child’s name and in Earth 90 they went for Barry, whilst on Earth 1 (the name of the universe the 2010’s series takes place on) they went for Henry. Barry Allen on Earth 90 went into the police force and through an accident became the Flash of that universe who went on to battle criminals such as his archenemy the Trickster.

On Earth 1 meanwhile Henry Allen his counterpart for some reason became a Doctor instead. He therefore never became the Flash, never met Doctor McGee and married a woman named Noira and had a child who he named Barry (perhaps because he knew that was what his parents were going to call him). Henry’s son through an entirely different accident later ended up becoming the Flash of that universe.

Incidentally later episodes show another universe, called Earth 3 where Henry Allen also became the Flash.

In this universe Henry was called Jay Garrick however (the name of the original Flash from the comic books) as in this universe his parents divorced before his birth, so he took his mothers maiden name of Garrick. She meanwhile named him Jay, which was the name of his brother in Earth 90. Presumably his brother was never born and she named him Jay instead. Thus in two universes Henry is the Flash, but in one he is the father of the Flash.

The idea of the 2010’s series being an alternate series of events to the 90’s one is further explored in the Trickster episodes.

In the 2010’s series it is said that the Trickster 20 years before the events of the series went on a massive rampage throughout Central City where he killed over a dozen people and destroyed whole buildings before being apprehended. Not only does this coincide with the date of his rampage from the 90’s show, but when we are shown pictures of his previous crime spree, pictures of Hamill from the 90’s show are used.

On Earth 1 since Henry never became the Flash in the 90’s, then there was no one to stop the Trickster and his rampage claimed even more lives in this universe. Sadly no mention has been made of Prank in this universe and the Earth 1 Trickster is instead served by his equally insane son Axel (who was the Trickster’s successor in the comics.)

Personally however I believe that Prank is Axel’s mother in this universe. Hopefully we’ll see Prank in a future episode. I’d love to see a family of Tricksters rampage their way across Central City. Also they could have Prank be in the Arrowverse version of Suicide Squad as a replacement for Harley Quinn who they can’t use. Ironically I’m sure most people would accuse Prank of just being a rip off of Harley Quinn, but us fans of the 90’s Flash series would know that Prank came first.

The Earth 1 Trickster is every bit as twisted, evil, sadistic and insane as the Earth 90 version so Hamill once again is really playing the Joker more than the Trickster of the comics.

The Earth 1 Trickster is not the Flash’s archenemy however like his 90’s counterpart was. That position is filled instead by Eobart Thwaine and Zoom in the 21st century series. The Trickster has in fact only appeared in two episodes of the series so far due to Hamill’s busy schedule.

Still despite this the Earth 1 Trickster is still presented as one of the Flash’s most dangerous enemies. He comes closer to killing him than most of his other foes. Even more impressive when you consider that he is one of the few in this series that doesn’t have powers. In his first battle with the Flash, the scarlet speedster is forced to discover another power in order to defeat him (the power to phase through solid objects in order to get a bomb off his arm)

I am not sure which of the two Trickster episodes is my favourite. They have both been very strong. I loved his twisted relationship with his son in his first appearance (there was even a nice homage to Star Wars when the Trickster says “I am your father” to Axel) However I also felt the Trickster and Weather Wizard made a great team in the second episode. I particularly liked the Tricksters delusional rant about how after he kills the Flash, the hero of the city who everyone looks up to in a horrible way in public, then everyone will think he saved the city. Even though he is a lunatic you still wonder how he came to that conclusion?

Whilst the Earth 1 Trickster has not appeared in series 3 so far, Mark Hamill did go on to play the Earth 3 version of the character in a small cameo.

This version of the Trickster physically resembles the Joker. He has white skin, a large grin and greenish hair. The Earth 3 Trickster is also even more insane than either of his two counterparts as he is willing to blow himself up at the drop of a hat. The Earth 1 Trickster at least is still shown to value his own safety, but this guy it seems was going to blow himself to pieces even before the Flash showed up.

The Earth 3 Trickster is shown to battle the Jay Garrick Flash who is played by John Wesley Shipp. This marks the second time the two actors were reunited in the modern Flash series. In the Tricksters first appearance in the 2014 series, the villain captures Henry Allen. I liked the scenes with Henry and the Trickster, not only because they were nice homages to the 90’s series, but its also funny thinking that the Trickster and Henry in another universe (two in fact including Earth 3) were sworn archenemies with one another, but in this universe they barely know each other. Its the same with Henry and Doctor McGee who in another universe were practically soul mates, but on Earth 1 they only meet twice.

Mark Hamill and John Wesley Shipp have been fighting with each other for 20 years across 3 different universes, and finally when Mark’s about to kill John, John’s son from another universe bursts in and saves him!

Finally Hamill also recently voiced the Trickster in the animated series Justice League Action (where he also voiced both the Joker and Swamp Thing) Sadly I have not had a chance to watch this series yet so I can’t comment on Hamill’s performance, but I’d imagine that it will probably be closer to the actual Trickster so as to not clash with Hamill’s Joker.

Not many actors have 3 characters that everyone, audiences, directors, writers want to see them keep returning to for over 20 years. Most actors are lucky if they have one character like that, like Arnold Schwarzanegger with the Terminator.  Some have 2 such as Stallone with Rocky and Rambo but its quite rare to have 3. The only other actor I can think of off the top of my head that had 3 characters they kept returning to over several decades is Peter Cushing.

Cushing played Victor Frankenstein, Van Helsing and Sherlock Holmes from when he was a young man to when he was an old man. Whilst other actors played those roles in between, audiences clearly were always wanting to see more of Cushing in these roles. With Hamill its the same. Yes other actors have played the Joker to great acclaim, and even the Trickster too, but still clearly people haven’t got tired of his versions of those great characters and obviously there will only be one Luke. Also much like Cushing with Van Helsing and Holmes, you almost don’t even notice that they are older. Cushing was still able to thrash Vampires in his old age as much as he could as a young Van Helsing, whilst Hamill’s Trickster is still as dynamic and engaging on the screen as he ever was.

No one can terrorise a room full of people and make you laugh at the same time quite like Hamill.

What’s even more incredible is that all 3 of Hamill’s performances as these characters in some ways are being brought to larger audiences than ever before after many decades. His version of the Trickster certainly is. Though well received from the start the original Flash series was for many years overlooked, whilst the recent series has not only proven to be a massive hit, but has also helped more people discover the original too. His version of the Joker meanwhile has similarly been arguably brought to larger audiences through the Arkham games (one of which saw him win a BAFTA for his performance) Though the original Batman animated series was always very popular, at the very least even if the Arkham games are not a wider audience they are still very high profile.

Finally the modern Star Wars films again though not more popular than the original are still massively successful.

Its doubtless that Hamill will go on to play all 3 characters for many more years to come. Personally I’ll always be happy to watch his Trickster terrorise the Flash and Central City either in live action or animation.

Ferris Boyle/ Batman the Animated Series

Hamill voiced this villain in what is regarded by fans and critics alike as one of, if not the greatest episode of Batman the Animated Series, Heart of Ice.

Boyle in contrast to the Joker and the Trickster was more of a straight, mundane villain. A slimy, crooked, weasly business man who doesn’t care who he hurts.

Still Boyle has the honour of creating one of Batman’s most dangerous rogues, Mr Freeze.

Victor Fries originally worked for Boyle. He was working on an experiment to try and cure his terminally ill wife Nora. He had placed her in suspended animation until a treatment could be found for her condition. Unfortunately Boyle decided to pull the plug feeling that it wasn’t profitable.

Victor pleaded with Ferris not to interrupt the experiment as it would kill Nora,  but Ferris didn’t listen and in the resulting scuffle where Victor pulled a gun on Ferris there was an explosion which seemingly killed both Nora and Victor.

This scene is easily one of the most powerful in any Batman adaptation. Michael Ansara who voices Victor and Mark Hamill play off of one another brilliantly. Fries is so emotional, begging with Boyle who in contrast is utterly pitiless. At no point does Boyle show even the slightest bit of compassion towards Victor and Nora. Then of course there is the weasly way he gets the better of Victor which helps to make Boyle one of the most utterly loathsome characters in the whole series.

Of course this later comes back to bite Boyle when it is revealed that Victor survived the accident and returns to get revenge on Boyle.

The final showdown between the two is another thrilling moment as Boyle pitifully begs Freeze to spare him, only for Freeze to be just as pitiless as he once was in return.

“You beg? In my nightmares I see my Nora behind the glass, begging me with frozen eyes. How I have longed to see that look frozen on you!”

You are actually annoyed for the only time in the series when Batman stops a villain from killing someone.

Hamill and Kevin Conroy who voices Batman also play off of one another brilliantly too. Hamill would later go on to play the Joker opposite Conroy as Batman, but even here you can see how well the two actors work opposite each other.

From the start its obvious that Bruce dislikes Boyle immensely. Even before he knows what he has done, Bruce can tell what a phoney Boyle is, and later though Batman stops Freeze from killing Boyle, he also doesn’t both to free his legs from the ice. Earlier when Freeze accidentally shot one of his own men with his ice gun, Batman went to great lengths to help Freeze’s lackey. He even took him back to the Batcave to treat him. Here however he seems to enjoy watching Boyle squirm in the ice and even taunts him at one point.

Whilst not as dynamic a character as the Joker or the Trickster, Boyle was still an effective villain in his own right. He is a classic example of the banality of evil. A selfish, greedy coward who always thinks he will be able to walk away from the harm he causes other people unscathed. Hamill really captured the characters sneering arrogance and wretched cowardice perfectly.

The Joker/ DC Animated Universe, Arkham Game series, Batman the Killing Joke, Justice League Action, Birds of Prey, Batman New Times

Mark’s greatest role in my opinion. To so many of us who grew up in the 90’s, Mark is THE Joker.

Mark first played the Joker in the classic Batman the Animated Series in 1992. This series would be the first in what has become known as the DC Animated Universe, a group of tv shows and films all of which share the same continuity. The DCAU as its more commonly known would last for over 10 years until Justice League Unlimited in 2006. Most of Mark’s performances as the Joker are within the DCAU, though he has played the character in a couple of high profile non DCAU productions too such as most notably the Arkham games.

Many talented actors have brought the most famous of Batman’s adversaries to life over the decades, but I’d say the 4 most iconic interpretations are Cesar Romero’s in the 60’s television series, Jack Nicholson’s in the 1989 movie, Heath Ledgers in the 2008 movie The Dark Knight and obviously Mark Hamill’s incarnation in the DCAU.

All 4 performances were brilliant, but I think Mark was the best. Of course that’s just my opinion, but I think that Mark’s Joker had the widest range.

The other 3 actors I think all managed to define a different aspect of the Jokers personality from the comics. The Joker much like his nemesis Batman has changed dramatically over the years and Jack, Cesar and Heath I feel all drew from one particular era for inspiration.

Romero’s performance captured the lighter qualities of the character. Throughout the 50’s and the 60’s the Joker was depicted as a silly prankster as befitting the campier tone of the comics at that time. Romero’s Joker who was also a total buffoon was clearly meant to embody that era of Batman and in that respect I think he was 100 percent successful.

Nicholson’s performance meanwhile I think captured the darker humour of the character. The Joker has always been able to get us to laugh at the most horrible things he does to people even when we know we shouldn’t. Jack’s Joker similarly was always able to make us laugh when he stabbed people in the throat with sharpened feathers, killed news reporters with Smilex, or shot his “number 1 guy” Bob for no reason at all. Jack’s Joker I think also really drew from the 70’s when the Joker was re-imagined as a vicious killer again, but also still portrayed as a somewhat over the top campy character in classic stories like “The Jokers Five Way Revenge”.

Finally Ledgers Joker I think drew from the characters earliest appearances. In the beginning the Joker was a truly monstrous villain. He looked terrifying, he was genuinely mysterious. We knew nothing about his origins and where he came from (and wouldn’t for another 20 years), and he was always two steps ahead of Batman. He was also a devastating hand to hand fighter, capable of even besting the Batman himself! Ledgers Joker captured all of these qualities, with his Joker similarly being mysterious. We never did find out where he came from or who he was.  He also is two steps ahead of Batman and the police throughout the film (and in many ways wins completely!) And physically he is much more of a threat to Batman being able to defeat him in their final confrontation and never shows any fear, even when falling to his death, unlike Jack and Romero who much like the 60’s and 70’s versions of the Joker were both cowardly.

Mark Hamill meanwhile I feel was able to make the character both frightening and comical and thus didn’t just seem like one version of the character from a particular era, but the Joker overall..

In certain episodes of Batman the Animated Series the Joker is a Romero style comical villain, such as Make Em Laugh where his plan is to brainwash three comedians in order to win a comedy trophy. At the end of the episode the Joker is humiliated by having the comedy trophy he wanted to steal knocked onto his head and his trousers pulled down in public. Such a scene would not look out of place in a classic campy Batman comic from the 60’s or indeed the Adam West series.

Hamill is every bit as good as Romero in showing a lighter side to the Joker in episodes like this, but at the same time he was also just as frightening as Ledger or Nicholson ever were in the darker episodes of Batman the Animated Series.

In the episode called Harlequinade the Joker plans to destroy all of Gotham with a nuclear bomb. Even when Batman disables the bomb the Joker still fires at it with a machine gun declaring “that bomb’s going off even if I go with it”! Here Hamill captures the “just want to watch the world burn” persona and psychotic fanaticism of the character as well as Ledger ever did. You genuinely believe that his Joker is prepared to kill himself, and millions of innocent people just to get Batman and the police.

In the episode The Laughing Fish meanwhile (which is based on the comic of the same name) the Joker tries to copyright fish that he infects with his Joker gas (which gives them the same hideous grin he has). When he is told he can’t copyright fish, a natural resource he starts murdering people one by one until he gets his wish. Just like the Dark Knight he announces who he is going to kill before he does it. I was always terrified of this episode when I was young. The Joker is more like a horror movie villain stalking his victims in the night, preying on the most vulnerable and weak.

Another example of how frightening Hamill’s Joker could be can be seen in Jokers Favour where the Joker torments the lowly Charlie Collins for two years. Charlie angers the Joker when after a long day at work, he screams at the Joker on the road for cutting him off. Once he realises however that its the Joker and not just a rude driver, Charlie panics and drives away. Unfortunately the Joker starts following him.

Again I was always scared of this scene as a child. Imagine being in Charlies situation here. You shout and scream at someone you think is just an arrogant jerk, but then you see that its the most wanted man in the country! Then you hope he’ll just forget it. Surely he has other fish to fry. Indeed the Joker is being chased by both Batman and the police at that point. Yet he still devotes his attention to Charlie, following him, taunting him just simply by waving his hand out of the car. Later as Charlie panics he becomes lost in the woods and soon to his horror sees the Joker is still following him and now there is no one else around. When the Joker corners Charlie he agrees to spare him as long as Charlie helps the Joker at a later date.

Charlie goes to the effort of moving and changing his name to avoid the Joker, but two years on the Joker reveals that he has been following Charlie the whole time before he asks him for a favour (which would have killed Charlie had it not been for Batman).

Perversely the Joker describes this torture of Charlie and ruining his entire life as his hobby!

“For two years he watched me like a bug in a jar, watched and laughed and threatened my family!

Its a brilliant example of how chaotic the Joker truly is the way no one is safe from his inhuman cruelty. One minute he could be targeting the Mayor such as in the episode Be A Clown, the next he could abandon those plans to target the most lowly, harmless citizen like Charlie Collins all because it amuses him. Once again Hamill is every bit as terrifying in this episode as any of the most famous darker Jokers are in their worst moments.

Finally in addition to this Hamill also I feel was able to portray the characters darker humour as effectively as any other actor too. Like Nicholson he was often able to get us to laugh at the villains vilest actions, like torturing Commissioner Gordon and killing his own men on a whim.

I have seen many people say that whenever they read a Joker comic they instinctively have Mark’s voice in their head for the Joker. I do too, and I think the reason for that is that unlike the other Joker performances you can imagine Mark’s voice fitting the villain in any type of story, from any era.

If its the camp, silly Joker from the 60’s Mark’s voice fits, if its the terrifying Joker that cripples Barbara Gordon from the 80’s then Hamill’s voice still fits.

Obviously you couldn’t imagine Ledger in a camp Adam West style story, and similarly you couldn’t imagine Romero in a darker Batman.

Thus again whilst the other actors managed to successfully portray the Joker from a particular era, Mark Hamill to me was the only one who was the Joker all around.

Another aspect of the Jokers personality that the 90’s animated series captured perfectly was his relationship with Batman. In this series the Joker wanted to kill Batman, but he was determined that he was the only one who would kill him.

Whilst this was something of a cliched premise, the shows writers and Hamill I think were able to do something new with it.

In the episode The Man Who Killed Batman the caped crusader is seemingly killed when he accidentally falls of a building during a confrontation with small time crook “Sid the Squid”. Sid becomes known as the man who killed Batman by the underworld and its not long before he meets the Joker.

The Joker pretends to be delighted with his foes demise at first. Even claiming he wants to shake Sid’s hand, but it’s apparent from the beginning that underneath he is unhappy with the whole situation. He later stages a robbery to draw the Batman out and when it doesn’t work he believes that Batman is gone and later not only tries to kill Sid, but even holds a funeral for the Dark Knight.

The Joker even cries at Batman’s death. At first it seems like a totally surreal situation. The Joker of all people is devastated at Batman’s death? He’s almost mourning him like a friend! When he says “without Batman crime has no punchline” you almost forget what their relationship really was and feel sorry for the Joker losing the one person who gave his life meaning. Its insane!

However you later realise that it actually makes perfect sense. For the past 7 years the Joker has been determined to get back at Batman so much he has devoted his entire existence to it. He actually has had nothing else in his life for so long but his feud with Batman, and now he finds out that it was all for nothing. All those years were completely wasted.

The fact that Batman was also disposed of by such a small time crook hurts his ego tremendously. Now in people’s eyes if Batman is so easy to dispose of, maybe he wasn’t that powerful after all? Maybe it was just that the likes of the Joker, the Penguin and Two Face were so incompetent? Thus he is killing Sid almost to save face more than anything else.

Mark Hamil has listed this scene as being his all time favourite performance as the Joker and has even performed it at conventions.

Its such a delicious irony that if someone else ever kills Batman, the Joker, his greatest ever adversary will be the only person to avenge him (as the likes of Robin and Gordon would never kill anyone)

Another example of the Jokers obsession with killing Batman can be found in the episode Joker’s Favour. Here the Joker is cornered by Charlie after his attempt on his life. Charlie finally fights back and reveals that he found one of the Jokers old bombs. Charlie tells the Joker that he has had enough of him tormenting him and his family and so he is going to blow them both up.

The Joker becomes absolutely terrified to the point where he ends up calling out to Batman for help. When Batman shows up, the Joker even cowers behind the caped crusader until it is revealed that the bomb is a dud leaving the Joker utterly humiliated.

Probably the low point of the Jokers career.

The great thing about this scene however is that in many ways it is the reverse of the Jokers Eulogy to Batman. The Joker does not fear death in this series. We saw that when he was happy to blow himself up to destroy Gotham. Here however he is terrified at the thought of being killed by a “miserable little nobody” like Charlie Collins.

The Joker would love to be killed by Batman when he finally drives him over the edge, or in a blaze of glory that takes down Gotham. But he can’t bare the thought of suffering such an ignoble end at the hands of someone so (in his eyes) insignificant. Charlie knows this of course and rubs it in.

“You miserable little nobody. If I get caught again. Your wife and son are history!”

“You’re not getting caught. Not this time. I found this blown out of the van. This is how it ends Joker, no grand schemes, no final duel with the Dark Knight. Tomorrow all the papers will read is that the great Joker was found blown to pieces in an alley alongside a miserable little nobody. Kind of funny. You see I can destroy a man’s dreams too, and that’s really the only dream you’ve got. Isn’t it?”

I think Hamill is just as brilliant in this scene as he is in the famous Joker Eulogy moment as he really does make the Joker seem pitiful and desperate the way he tries to reason with Charlie, calls out to Batman for help in his absolute shame, and even hilariously at one point tells Charlie he’s crazy!

You’d have never thought at the start of the episode when the Joker terrorised Charlie that Charlie would later bring the villain to his knees. That was the great thing about Mark’s Joker though. He was such an utterly unpredictable character all around. You’d always hope he would show up, but at the same time you could never guess what type of story it would be or what would happen when he did.

You could to some extent with Batman’s other rogues. With villains like Mr Freeze or Clayface or Two Face for instance you would expect a darker episode, whilst with the Riddler you’d know it would be more campy. You could also guess what their motives would be too to some extent. Mr Freeze wants to help his wife, or its to do with his wife in some way, Clayface wants to be normal, Poison Ivy cares about plants.

With Mark’s Joker however you have no idea what way it could go. Would it be a silly comedy episode where the Joker was a total clown? Or would it be a dark frightening episode that takes us deep into what a relentless sadist he really is? Or would it be both?

What would the Joker want? Would his plans be a threat to all of Gotham or would he focus on something stupid like a comedy contest? Would the Joker be a deranged madman not caring if he blew himself up to get the Batman, or a miserable coward calling to him for help? Would he try and smash Batman’s skull in with a wrench or cry over his death? Would he casually toss the woman who loves him more than anything out of a window because she didn’t get his joke or embrace her after she tried to blow his brains out and foiled his scheme? Would he toss one of his own henchman to his man eating mutant hyena’s because he asked a stupid question, or would he grieve when Batman destroyed his stupid robot, Captain Clown as though it were his son!

All of this made the Hamill Joker a character that you never got bored of watching.

Of all the Batman’s main enemies the Joker appeared by far the most frequently in the animated series which is not surprising. The animated Joker was an absolute tour de force in terms of his characterisation and Hamill’s performance. You can see why the producers of the series wanted to use him as often as possible.

After Batman the Animated Series finished Hamill would reprise the role of the Joker in the feature length film Batman Mask of the Phantasm.

A sequel to the Animated Series, this film was actually originally intended to be the finale to the series overall.

Here the origins of the Joker were explored. Originally the Joker (before he fell into a vat of chemicals that bleached his skin white and drove him insane) was a sadistic hitman working for the mob (much like Jack Nicholson’s version) He was responsible for the murder of Batman’s one true love Andrea Bueamont’s father.

Andrea returns many years later as the masked Phantasm and begins murdering all the members of the mob responsible for her fathers death, saving the Joker for last.

There are some brilliant Batman/Joker fights in this film but the greatest moment is Andrea’s final confrontation with the Joker. Here the villain is broken, beaten, and bloodied. He has no way of defending himself and she wants him dead more than anyone else on the planet. She is also already a killer. On top of that the Jokers base of operations for years is exploding. All of his life’s work is going up in flames and what does he do? He rolls his head back and laughs as though it were his greatest moment.

Again this is yet another example of how Mark’s Joker is just completely unpredictable. Still as mad as it is, much like the Joker shedding a tear at Batman’s death, it does makes sense from the Jokers twisted perspective.

Whilst the Joker does hate the idea of his death being a low key event, and not a final duel with his archenemy, at the same time you can see how he would laugh at the irony of it all. Batman made the Joker. He was a no name crook who was driven insane when Batman accidentally knocked him into a vat of chemicals. For years he has loved tormenting Batman with this knowledge, but now he is facing a monster that he created the Phantasm who is going to finally be the one to kill him. Added to that the fact that Batman cares for her means that in death the Joker will taint Batman’s life in a way he never managed to in life, as killing the Joker will finally put Andrea beyond a point of no return. Thus he can’t help but laugh at it all.

This scene also demonstrates another defining aspect of Hamill’s performance as the clown prince of crime. His dynamic use of the villains laughter. Hamill would apparently practice his laugh on the way to the recording studio in his car. He joked that it was odd that no one seemed to think his behaviour was odd.

Whilst Batman Mask of the Phantasm was intended to be the end of that version of Batman, ultimately a sequel series set many years later called The New Batman Adventures would soon follow. Hamill once again reprised his role as the Joker.

Much like the original series, the Joker was the most recurring villain. Of his many appearances in this series, his best was undoubtedly Mad Love, which was based on an old comic written by the creators of the series.

Here we discover the origins of the Jokers sidekick Harley Quinn, a character original to the Animated Series that proved to be so popular she was later incorporated into the comics and even subsequent live action adaptations of Batman such as Birds of Prey and the recent blockbuster Suicide Squad.

Harley began as the Joker’s psychiatrist Doctor Harleen Quinzell but she eventually fell in love with him after he spun false stories about an abusive past that she foolishly believed. She came to see the Joker as a poor lost soul that she needed to protect.

I quite like the way that the introduction of a love interest will almost always show a softer side to even the vilest villain like Alfred Bester in Babylon 5, but in the Mark Hamill Jokers case however it just shows a whole new twisted side to him.

Harley Quinn is a woman who loves the Joker more than anything else in the world. She gives up everything to be with him, and there is nothing she wouldn’t do for him.

He however treats her in the most appalling way. He regularly beats her, even comes close to killing her on many occasions. He also never shows her any real affection  and generally just uses her for his own ends and abandons her, even outright betrays her when it suits him.

A new low even for him!

Mark Hamill would go on to play the Joker in three episodes of Superman the animated series called “Worlds Finest”. This crossover episode established both of the Batman and the Superman cartoons existing in the same universe, effectively creating the DC Animated Universe.

In Worlds Finest the Joker travels to Metropolis after stealing a Kryptonite statue to make a deal with Lex Luthor to kill Superman for a billion dollars.

A meeting of two great, but twisted minds.

The Joker actually comes closer to killing Superman than any of his foes apart from Darkseid. Pretty impressive when you consider he doesn’t have any super powers. Had it not been for Batman then Superman would have been well and truly dead. Lois Lane too.

Some fans have criticised the fact that the Joker was able to dispatch Superman, and in the later Justice League series heroes like Wonder Woman and the Flash relatively easily whilst he still always struggles with Batman who has no super powers at all.

However I don’t see this as a contradiction. To start with Superman has a key weakness that the Joker can exploit. Remember that Lex Luthor, Supes archenemy has no powers either, and he not only fights the Man of Steel but the entire Justice League on a regular basis.

Also many of the more powerful heroes such as Superman and Wonder Woman greatly underestimate the Joker. They think due to his somewhat comical appearance that he is not a real threat. Superman doesn’t even take the Joker seriously when he has a Kryptonite statue until its too late.

Batman meanwhile through experience knows to never underestimate the Joker for a second and to always expect the unexpected with the Joker.

World’s Finest is a truly excellent story. Hamill is on top form and watching him interact with Clancy Brown’s version of Lex Luthor is also brilliant. Clancy Brown is for me and many others the definitive Lex. He is to that character what Hamill is to the Joker.

Watching the Joker and Lex work together is always interesting because you are never sure which one is worse. On the one hand the Joker is more senselessly cruel. You could never imagine Lex doing something as heinous as crippling Barbara Gordon just for the hell of it like the Joker. Everything Lex does has a purpose even if its just to get back at Superman. At the same time however the Joker at the very least has the excuse of being completely insane, where as Lex Luthor is completely responsible for his actions.

Sadly the only downside of having the Joker and Lex together is that whenever they fight one has to naturally get undermined as a villain. As the Joker is the most popular supervillain of all time, poor old Lex is always the one that gets undermined. I say that even as someone who prefers the Joker to Lex.

World’s Finest proves to be no different as at the end of the three part story, the Joker captures Lex and uses his own Lex Wing to bombard all of Metropolis with bombs killing thousands of people, before Batman and Superman manage to stop the Joker and save Lex.

Its sad that even in the animated universe the Joker still beats Lex but its nothing new.

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In animation or in comics Lex is always the Jokers little bitch.

Whilst its sad to see Lex get undermined, the combo of Brown and Hamill together is brilliant and not surprisingly this wouldn’t be the last time the these two versions of the famous villains would meet. In fact the DCAU Joker is ironically in more episodes with Lex Luthor than he is with any other Batman villain, apart from Harley Quinn of course.

Hamill would also voice the Joker in an episode of an animated series called Static Shock. This episode called “The Big Leagues” sees the Joker travel to the main hero of the show, Virgil Hawkins city to recruit a metahuman gang. Batman and Robin follow him there and working with Virgil they are able to foil the Clown Prince of Crimes plans.

Sadly this episode is not quite as strong as World’s Finest. Its not bad by any means but it is kind of just a standard crossover episode, though at least it did establish Static Shock as part of the DCAU.

Following the conclusion of The New Batman Adventures and Superman, Hamill would next play the Joker in the feature length film Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker.

This movie served as the finale to the Batman Beyond series. Batman Beyond was set 50 years after the New Batman Adventures and Superman. It sees an elderly Bruce Wayne train a new Batman, Terry McGuinness to protect the Gotham of the future.

This film naturally not only features the return of the Joker, but also shows us how the villains feud with the original Batman came to an end.

At some point after the New Batman Adventures (and Justice League and Justice League Unlimited) the Joker captured the second Robin, Tim Drake and tortured him for weeks on end.

Robin eventually broke and told the Joker all of Batman’s secrets. The Joker continued to torture the boy even after he told him all he wanted to know, until eventually Tim was driven completely insane. The Joker then dressed Robin as a tiny versions of himself and dubbed him “Little J”. He even came to see Robin as his son!

In this scene Mark’s Joker is every bit as terrifying and evil as either Jack Nicholson or Heath Ledgers Jokers ever were. Its hard to believe he was the same villain from Make Em Laugh with the trophy on his head and his pants by his ankles.

Ultimately the Jokers plan to use Robin or Little J to kill Batman backfires on him literally as Robin ultimately shoots the Joker through the heart.

It took a year for Robin to be nursed back to sanity after his ordeal. Bruce Wayne meanwhile forbade Tim from ever being Robin again.

50 years later the Joker mysteriously returns from the grave to torment Bruce Wayne and the new Batman Terry McGuinness  It is later revealed that the Joker survived by embedding his DNA and mind on a microchip which he then implanted into Robin’s neck in the weeks he held him hostage.

Though it took decades the chip was eventually able to physically turn Robin into a copy of the Joker and allow his mind to take over Tim’s body. The physical and mental changes only last for a short while however after which Tim has no memory of what happened, though the Joker says at the end that soon he will be able to live in Tim’s body permanently.

At the end of the film Terry McGuinness finally puts an end to the Joker when he uses his own electric joy buzzer to destroy the chip.

Personally I’d rate Return of the Joker as my favourite Batman movie in either live action or animation. I’d also say its Mark’s finest hour as the Joker and the most effective take on the villain I’ve ever seen.

In this film the Joker is an absolute monster through and through. Mark somewhat underplays the villain at certain points which gives the impression that the Joker’s sadism comes from who he is rather than his lunacy.

This idea was previously explored in Mask of the Phantasm when we saw that prior to becoming the Joker, he was already a sadistic criminal who murdered Andrea’s father in cold blood.

In Return of the Joker they continue the idea that all of the silly aspects of his personality, the clown costumes, gag guns, stem from his madness, whilst all of his cruelty comes entirely from who he is. When he talks about torturing Robin and “peeling back the layers” of the boy’s mind and taunts Batman over the death of his parents, there is an eerie calmness to him right before he bursts into a fit of his trademark diabolical laughter, which suggests that actually he knows exactly what he is doing. He isn’t just some madman killing because he is divorced from reality. Sane or insane he’d always enjoy hurting people.

This is by far my favourite Batman/Joker confrontation in any medium. The Joker has never seemed more monstrous the way he not only relentlessly tortures Robin, a teenage boy, but also tries to drag him down to his level too by forcing him to shoot Batman..

After Return of the Joker, Hamill would next go on to play the villain in the Justice League animated series. This series was released after Batman Beyond Return of the Joker, but it was set many years before it, though it was also set after the earlier Batman, the New Batman Adventures and Superman animated series.

The Joker first appeared in the two parter Injustice for All. This story as its name would suggest revolves around the Injustice Gang, the evil counterpart to the Justice League.

The Joker is not asked by Lex Luthor who formed the gang to join. Understandably Lex isn’t too happy with the Joker after their last alliance. The Joker however manages to prove himself by capturing Batman and ironically is the last member of the gang to be captured, managing to knock out Wonder Woman with an exploding doll and the Flash with exploding marbles!

Its great seeing the Joker and Lex together again and thankfully this time they don’t undermine either of them. Both get their chance to shine and have brilliant scenes with their archenemies Batman and Superman.

The Joker would next appear in two cameo’s in the episodes Only A Dream part 1 (again opposite Lex Luthor) A Better World part 2 before going on to appear as the main villain in the two parter Wild Cards.

In Wild Cards the Joker takes control of the Vegas strip. He plants bombs all over it and issues a challenge to the League to disarm them. However he also sends a new group of Metahumans (whom he freed from captivity and dubbed the Royal Flush Gan) out to try and stop the League

The Joker broadcasts the Leagues battle with the Royal Flush Gang on television to millions of people all over the world. After the League disarm the bombs it is revealed that the Joker’s real plan was to use Ace, the final member of the gang who has telepathic powers to drive everyone watching insane.

Wild Cards was a brilliant send off for the DCAU Joker. It saw him become a global threat as he tried to drag the entire world into his own lunacy. In a way it made sense. The Joker was always kind of a response to Batman. Originally the Joker was just an average crook, but then he became the Joker as a result of Batman becoming a more elaborate crime fighter. Now similarly Batman has upped his game with the Justice League, a team of super powered heroes who regularly save the world, and so the Joker has put together his own team of super powered psychopaths, the Royal Flush Gang and has come up with a scheme that will allow him to threaten not just Gotham but the whole world!

Whilst Wild Card’s marked Hamill’s final performance as the Joker in the DCAU, he would go on to play the villain in many non DCAU productions.

Hamill appeared opposite Adam West as Batman in the animated short film Batman New Times. He also provided the voice for the Joker in the short lived live action series Birds of Prey. Here his voice was dubbed over actor Roger Stoneburner who the producers felt resembled the character more. The Joker only appeared in one scene where he cripples Batgirl.

Hamill also voiced the Joker in a special feature included on the special edition DVD release of Batman 1989 which depicts the origin of Robin. This scene was originally to have been included in the Burton film, but was left out at the last minute.

In 2009 Hamill voiced the Joker in the video game Batman Arkham Asylum and returned to voice the character in the 2011 sequel Batman Arkham City. Both games were massive successes critically and commercially with Hamill even winning a Video Game BAFTA for his performance in Arkham City.

Whilst Hamill stated that his performance in Arkham City would be his last, he has since returned to the role twice. First in an animated adaptation of Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke.

Here Hamill was reunited with Kevin Conroy as Batman yet again. Conroy had voiced Batman throughout the entire DCAU, and also in the Arkham games opposite Hamill.

Kevin Conroy is really Mark Hamill’s greatest on screen adversary. His second would be the Empire who has fought for a longer period of time, but not as often, whilst his third would be John Wesley Shipp who he has also fought over the course of 20 years.

He and Conroy have as good a dynamic as Batman and the Joker as Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing had as Dracula and Van Helsing.

The Killing Joke was easily one of Hamill’s best performances. It gave him a chance to portray a more sympathetic version of the Joker. In the DCAU we knew that the Joker had always been evil, but the origin story presented in the Killing Joke depicts the Joker as a pitiful failed comedian who is driven to the brink of sanity when his beloved wife perishes in a tragic accident. He is later pushed over the edge when he falls into the vat of chemicals that transforms him into a chalk faced ghoul.

With this version of the character Hamill gets a chance to add a tragic edge to the villain, not only in the flashbacks, but even when the Joker tortures Gordon in an attempt to drive him insane. You can tell buried underneath the madness is a trace of the decent man he once was and ironically it is that that drives him to do such horrible things in this story. The Joker knows he is a monster and still somewhere feels guilt for it. Thus the only way he can ease that guilt is to prove to himself that anyone could be as crazy as he is given the right tragic circumstances. He therefore inflicts the worst tragedy possible on Gordon to try and make him snap.

When Gordon doesn’t snap the Joker can’t take it as it makes him realise that maybe its not just the tragic circumstances the befell him. Maybe there was always a monster lurking under the surface of the seemingly harmless failed comedian and loving husband just waiting to be unleashed.

Following the Killing Joke Hamill would voice the Joker in the current Justice League animated series Justice League Action, though sadly I haven’t had a chance to see this series yet.

Hamill will always for me and so many others be the definitive Joker. Whilst he has played many great villains over the years the Joker is the one that I think he really threw himself into the most. Hamill himself has even referred to the character as his favourite role.

I hope he continues to play the role for many more years to come, but even if he doesn’t I think it can be agreed he has already had a hell of a run as the character.

The Hobgoblin/ Spider-Man The Animated Series

No one has made more puns about killing superheroes than Hamill.

Mark Hamill voiced this villain in the classic 90’s Spider-Man the animated series. The Hobgoblin was one of the shows most recurring villains overall. Whilst John Semper the producer of the series hated the Hobgoblin character from the comics, ironically he kept using him more than most other villains because he loved Hamill’s performance and working with him.

The Hobgoblin first appears in a two parter in the first season. Here the character actually manages to temporarily dethrone the Kingpin, the main villain of the series and take his place. Spider-Man is forced to go into an alliance with Norman Osborne and the Kingpin (albeit loosely) to bring the Hobgoblin down.

At first glance the Hobgoblin is somewhat similar to the Joker. He is another cackling, sadistic, flamboyant villain, but underneath he is actually a completely different character.

The Hobgoblin is not insane. He is just a money grubbing crook. All he wants is wealth and power and there is nothing he won’t do to get it. He’ll stab anyone in the back. In fact in his first appearance he manages to achieve not just a double cross, but a quadruple cross!

The fact that the Hobgoblin was merely someone with no scruples rather than an active psychopathic monster who wanted to make people suffer like the Joker, or even a power mad megolomaniac like Lex Luthor helped him stand out as quite an interesting and unique supervillain in his own right.

He didn’t always have to be the main threat in every episode he appeared in. He still could be such as in his first appearance, but in other episodes such as his season two appearance (which was also a crossover with the X-Men animated series) the Hobgoblin has merely taken advantage of the actual main villain, Doctor Landon’s scheme for his own ends.

Doctor Landon plans to exterminate all of Mutant kind with a new form of plague. No one of course knows this and to the general public at large, Landon is a benevolent scientist who wants to help Mutants. Even Beast initially believes he is a good man. Only the Hobgoblin knows what he is really doing however and blackmails him for money. The Hobgoblin is perfectly happy for Landon to commit genocide just so long as he can make a bit of money out of it!

Ironically however its the Hobgoblin that alerts Spider-Man and Wolverine to what Landon is really doing, as after Landon double crosses him, the Hobgoblin attempts to terrorise Landon in revenge which naturally draws the wallcrawlers suspicions.

Still again you can see how its interesting that on the one hand the Hobgoblin is one of the most reprehensible characters in the series as he is happy for millions of innocent men, women and children to die, on the other again he is not actively wanting to bring it about either. He is literally just indifferent to all forms of human suffering if it benefits him.

In the end the Hobgoblin ends up ironically saving mutankind (though not on purpose). He steals all of Landon’s work in a further effort to blackmail him for its safe return, but when Landon tries to take it back (and dispose of the Hobgoblin) the Hobgoblin ends up accidentally throwing Landon into a vat of chemicals in the resulting fight, which ironically mutates Landon into a 100 foot tall near unstoppable monster.

I always loved the way that the Hobgoblin fucked off after turning Landon into a monster that nearly ravaged all of New York, and took the combined efforts of the X-Men and Spider-Man to stop (even then had it not been for Landon’s assistant who was also a mutant the mutant Landon would have killed them all).

Again you can see how he just doesn’t care about the carnage he causes as along as he can make a profit on it. It doesn’t bother him one bit that Landon will kill thousands of people, he just flies away and leaves the X-Men and Spider-Man to clean up his mess even saying dryly.

“The chance for profit has gone and therefore so am I. So long suckers be seeing ya”

The Hobgoblins insatiable greed however proves to be his undoing in the third season. The Hobgoblin discovers a device which can open up portals and allow him to travel anywhere he wants. Naturally this proves to be useful for carrying out thefts, but when the machine begins to run out of power, the Hobgoblin is forced to go to the Kingpin for help, as only he has the resources to fix it. It was his company that built it in the first place.

The Hobgoblin thinks he can manipulate the Kingpin, but the Kingpin goes behind his back and tries to strong arm Norman Osborne into revealing the identity of the Hobgoblin. Unfortunately this ends up bringing back memories of Norman’s brief stint as the Green Goblin, causing that persona to re-emerge.

The Green Goblin subsequently attempts to kill the Hobgoblin and ends up exposing his identity to the world in the process resulting in the Hobgoblins arrest.

The Hobgoblin ironically did not need the Kingpin’s device at that point anyway. His past crimes had already given him tremendous wealth. He could have lived the rest of his life comfortably with no one, not even Spider-Man or the Kingpin coming close to discovering who he really was, but he was just so greedy he had to have more and ultimately that brought him down, and the fact that it was Norman Osborne, someone he had stabbed in the back twice because of his greed just makes it all the better.

An alternate version of the Hobgoblin would appear in the second last episode of the series. Here ironically the Hobgoblin and the Green Goblin of this universe were shown to be best friends and even worked for an evil alternate version of Spider-Man bonded to the Carnage symbiote called Spider-Carnage (how’s that for a backwards reality!).

Its kind of sad in a way as you can see from this episode how, if the Green Goblin had not been so petty in insisting that he be the only Goblin themed villain, the two Goblins could have been an unstoppable team. In this universe the two villains manage to destroy all of New York and kill everyone in the city, bar J Jonah Jameson and Robbie Robertson, who they only spare because they need them. They also managed to hold their own against a whole army of Spider-Men from alternate universes (including one who has Doc Ock’s tentacles).

Had our Hobgoblin and Green Goblin teamed up, then our Spider-Man would not have stood a chance.

Whilst Hamill’s Hobgoblin may not have been quite as sensational a character as his Joker, it was still a brilliant performance all around and its not hard to see why John Semper kept bringing him back.

Solomon Grundy/ Justice League

Hamill voiced this villain in the DCAU Justice League animated series. Grundy was never a main villain. He was a large, super powered, idiotic, almost child like cursed Zombie who was often nothing more than a villain for hire.

Though Grundy was an enemy of Green Lantern in the comics here he was more of a foe of Superman, as he was one of the few enemies who could pummel the man of steel.

Grundy despite being a brute, would still nevertheless manage to redeem himself in his final story which sees him not only develop an unlikely friendship with Hawkgirl, but also sacrifice himself to save the Justice League.

Grundy’s death is a somewhat touching moment as Hawkgirl comforts her former enemy in his last moments assuring him that he will finally be allowed to rest and gain his “reward”.

Wolverine/ Wolverine’s Revenge

Hamill voiced this famous Marvel superhero in this video game that was released as a tie in to X-Men 2.

The game not only depicted Wolverine’s origins but also came up with its own original story that saw the clawed mutant go up against the likes of Sabretooth, Magneto and Lady Deathstrike.

I’d say the game was definitely above average. Not an all time classic but it had a reasonably engaging story and it was fun to slice up badguys as Wolverine.

I wouldn’t say Mark was the best Wolverine. Hugh Jackman’s performance as the character has to rank as one of the all time greatest on screen heroes, whilst the definitive voice for the character is probably Cathal J Todd from the 90’s animated series.

Still Hamill’s performance has the right gruff qualities for the character and its nice to see him play a different type of hero to Luke. Wolverine and Luke, though both heroes are almost polar opposites. One a young, noble, idealistic hero, the other an older, rough looking, angry anti hero.

One final thing to mention about Mark’s Wolverine is that he is the only one who has beaten Magneto without help. Pretty incredible when you consider the fact that Magneto always curb stomps Wolverine.

To be fair its to be expected as Magneto can control metal whilst Wolverine’s entire skeleton is coated in metal! Still as we saw in Days of Future Past (which is set before the metal was laced to Wolvies bones) Even without the adamantium skeleton, Magneto is still able to curb stomp Wolverine with virtually no effort at all!

Whilst he may not be as iconic, at least Hamill’s Wolverine isn’t always Magneto’s little bitch like the Hugh Jackman version.

Gargoyle/ Hulk Animated Series

Hamill voiced this villain in the short lived 90’s Hulk animated series. Gargoyle from the start of the show was presented as being more of a bumbling, oafish character in some respects and thus it wasn’t too surprising when he ended up becoming more of a comic relief in the shows second season.

Whilst not the most memorable villain I think Mark did what he could with the relatively  minor part and brought a lot of humour and personality to the character.

Christopher Blair/ Wing Commander

One of the most popular video game heroes of the 1990’s, Hamill voiced this character in all but the second instalment of the Wing Commander video game series as well as the short lived 90’s animated series. He also played him in live action cutscenes too.

Some critics have compared Blair to Luke Skywalker. Both are space adventurers and straight forward, noble heroes, but I feel that Blair was a more mature, experienced character as opposed to the whiny teenager Luke was.

Sadly Hamill would not be asked to reprise the role for the 1999 Wing Commander live action film where Blair was played by Freddie Prinze Jr, though he did have a voice over cameo. To be fair though the film wasn’t a patch on the games so Hamill will really always be the definitive Christopher Blair.

Skips/ Regular Show

One of Hamill’s most popular roles, Skips is an immortal Yeti with a mysterious backstory and powers. Though he often has a more depressing and dour persona he does still have a strong sense of humour.

Skips often serves as the exposition guy. He knows almost everything about the supernatural.

Regular Show has proven to be one of the most successful animated series of recent years. Running for 8 seasons of 261 episodes, ironically this Yeti is the character that Hamill has played more times than any other.

He is set to reprise he role in the upcoming Skips movie.

John Curtis/ Criminal Minds

The main antagonist of the 8th season of Criminal Mind’s. Curtis is a serial killer who is driven to lunacy by his own petty jealousy and failures.

By far one of the most dangerous and twisted villains in the entire series Curtis only appears in full in the two part season 8 finale.

Its undoubtedly one of Hamill’s best performances. The character isn’t just a retread of the Joker and Trickster. In some ways he is a much darker character, as he lacks the theatrical qualities those two villains had which made them somewhat likable. Curtis is a repulsive, vicious and petty character through and through.

Other Roles

Among Hamill’s other genre roles include the villainous Maximus in the 90’s Fantastic Four Animated series,  the Hannukah Zombie in Futurama and Captain America’s archenemy the Red Skull in The Superhero Squad Show.

Hamill also voiced the main antagonist Fire Lord Ozai in The Last Airbender franchise. Whilst this character proved to be one of Hamill’s most popular roles, sadly I have not seen this series so I couldn’t comment on it.

Hamill has also supplied voices for many video games too including as characters in the Kingdom of Hearts and Call of Duty series,  and as Detective Mosely, sidekick to Gabriel Knight (voiced by Tim Curry) in Gabriel Knight Sins of the Fathers.

In live action he has also guest starred on television series such as Chuck, Third Rock from the Sun, the remake of The Outer Limits and SeaQuest DSV.

On stage meanwhile he has played roles as diverse as The Elephant Man and Mozart to great acclaim.

A truly versatile performer, Hamill has managed to earn a special place in genre stars both as one of its greatest heroes and villains.

Thanks for reading.

 

 

Tribute to John Hurt

Its hard to believe he’s gone. He’s been such a constant presence on both the big and the small screen for the past 50 plus years that it almost felt like he would be here forever.

John Vincent Hurt was truly one of Britain’s greatest actors. He was a man who truly loved his craft and his passion and creativity always shone through in every role he played right until the end.

His body of work spread out across 6 decades was truly remarkable. Its impossible to pin Hurt down to one type of role. Its not easy for even the most successful of actors to avoid being typecast. So many of the greats such as Christopher Lee or Sean Connery for instance were somewhat typecast, in Lee’s case often as villains, in Connery’s often as heroes.

With Hurt however right the way through he was never known for only playing one type of character.

He was the vilest, most loathsome villains, such as the evil, psychotic, baby eating Roman Emperor Caligula, or the depraved rapist Tom in the Ghoul, or the Demonic Horned King.

Yet at the same time he was also the tragic, persecuted victim such as Quentin Crisp, John Merrick and Kane from Alien.

He was also the noble hero too such as Winston Smith, Hazel from Watership Down, and Aragorn.

At times he even deliberately played the opposite of some of his most famous earlier roles, such as when he played General Woundwort, the main villain in the Watership Down animated series, after playing the main hero Hazel in the original animated movie. He also played the fascist dictator Sutler in V for Vendetta after playing the victim of a fascist society Winston Smith in 1984.

His career was every bit as varied in his final years as it had been in his youth. He was still able to play the villain in the form of Sutler in the later years of his career, but he could also still play the victim in the form of Mr Olivander. And he was even the hero in his final years too in the shape of the War Doctor.

He also was never restricted to one medium either, appearing just as regularly on the stage, television, radio, and film. He also was in everything from political thrillers, to crime drama’s, to sci fi classics, to fantasy flicks, to horror movies, to historical epics.

Very few actors can boast such a varied body of work. Obviously with every actor it all really is down to luck in terms of the great roles they get, but still with Hurt I think that he was always someone who even at the height of his fame was willing to appear in more offbeat and low key productions. He could be in a big multi billion dollar film franchise one minute, and then in a play on BBC Radio 4 the next.

I first became a fan of Hurt’s after seeing him in I Claudius. Prior to this I had seen him in both The Ghoul and Alien. I had been impressed by his performances in both of those films, but it was really his performance as Caligula that made me desperate to track everything he had ever been in down.

He was utterly captivating as the villain. At certain points he was absolutely terrifying such as when he murders a young boy because his cough irritates him, or when he tortures Livia on her death bed, and worst of all when he devours his own child from his sisters stomach (that’s a fucked up sentence!)

At other moments though he was pitiful such as when the drumming sound in his head torments him, or when he wonders if he truly is a god to Claudius, and then there are his final undignified moments.

There were even scenes where he managed to make me laugh, such as when he made his horse a senator and the notorious dance scene.

I’d rank his Caligula as one of the greatest tv villains of all time. Even if he had never done anything else, Caligula alone would be enough to make Hurt a legend in my eyes.

Of course he later went on to become more famous for other performances that could not be more different. When I later saw him in The Elephant Man running through the streets with a bag over his head, weeping pitifully “I am not an animal. I am a human being” I couldn’t even imagine him as Caligula.

He never stopped surprising me in the diversity of roles he’d play right until the end. One minute he’d be the cruel leader of a fascist state, then the next he’d be a fire breathing Dragon smashing Camelot to pieces, then he’d be the bloody Doctor!

Whilst I am sad that there will be no more new creative and powerful performances from the great man, at the same time I am glad that we have such a long and fascinating body of work to look back on.

Whether its by Harry Potter fans, Doctor Who fans, Alien fans, Merlin fans, fans of classic television like I Claudius and classic films like The Elephant Man, John Hurt will always be remembered.

RIP John Hurt 1940-2017