In Gotham City, Everyone Has A Batman Story

Millenium Club for B-Side (ERIN KIRKLAND/Daily)

“I’m serious!” Robbie spread his hands wide as he said it, slowly, so as to not spill his fourth beer for the night.

The other two were laughing. Their fourth and fifth beers, respectively, helped to make the laughs a little more loud and freely given. Both the laughs and the alcohol helped with their ruddy glow and the flow of stories.    

“‘Going somewhere, citizen?'” Neil laughed, repeating Robbie’s punchline.

“No way, man! He did *not* say that,” Kevin could barely sit upright.

Robbie took another sip. He was almost done with this glass and probably should leave a bit at the bottom for a while “Hey, it’s Gotham City. Everyone has a Batman story. You mean to tell me you guys don’t have a Batman story?”

The laughter trailed off just a bit, so eyes could narrow and search for memory. Kevin kept on chuckling, “No, man. No.” Softly, as if he was a bit ashamed by that and didn’t want the others to notice.

Neil remembered, though, and was ready. Setting a now-empty glass on the bar top, he got off the stool, slowly, raising his hands and taking the stage. “Huh, a ‘Batman story.’ Well, it’s not a ‘Batman story,’ exactly, I guess. But, damn. Just … damn.    

“OK, you see, I was really into the guy when I was a kid. I think everyone was, you know? You’re in Gotham; you gotta root for the home team. It’s a point of pride. Our city may be shit that’s shit out of other shit, but we got the goddamn Batman, you know?”

Kevin and Robbie clinked their glasses together. Damn straight.

“But I mean I was *really* fucking into it. I even made my own cowl-type thing and cape out of a pillowcase. Like you do. Ya gotta cut them just right, you see, along the sides to make it an actual-to-goodness long cape. And I wore the crap out of that, like, *all* the time. Loved it. Well, except I never liked the way the fabric just sorta hung there. That never seemed right to me somehow. I mean, the news or someone will capture a photo every now and then, and you can see the cape, like, flowing. I swear there’s got to be like wires or some shit in there.”

Robbie couldn’t hold out. He drained the last sip and waved for another. After all, Neil was settling in to the story big time by now.

“OK, so, it gets bad. Like so bad. Before long, I’m wearing this cut-up pillowcase-thing under my shirt to school everyday. I’m making this rope-like thing to try to swing across whatever the hell it was that we called a garden. And, ah dammit. I actually stole Ray Fogle’s ninja stars after that one sleepover.”

“Shit!” Kevin pointed his pinky at Neil. “That was you? Fuck, I loved those damn things.” He turned to Robbie, “‘Cause why the hell else would you hang out with Ray the Gay Fogle?”

Neil went on, “Yeah, but I felt so goddamned worried or maybe guilty or whatever that I put them in a cigar box under the bed and never once tried to throw them. Anyway, the whole thing got so bad that I was actually staying up late, for hours, just hoping to catch a glimpse of him. I would lay down, just so, so I could stare out my bedroom window, and see this open space of sky framed by either side of the apartments. I knew the best I could hope for would be some split-second shadow as he leaped from one roof to the other, just a snapshot really, so I dared myself not to blink. But at some point, I would. And then I’d open them and it would suddenly be morning, time for school.

“Well, that wasn’t working, so naturally I started sneaking out at night. I got away with it for a little while, too. Or maybe my folks knew about it all along, and let me do it, as long as it was all still pretty innocent. Hell, it probably wasn’t even prime time, but to me it was like dead of midnight. And this goes on for like, days. Weeks.”

“No way!” Robbie said.          

“And it starts getting later, and later. I swear by this time I’m probably spending more time out of the house at night than I am anywhere else. Until, after all that, who the hell do you think I run into, halfway around the corner, by the dumpster for the liquor store?”

“You’re fucking kidding me,” Kevin said, “Batman? You’re kidding.”

Neil leans in, his voice low and even. “It’s fucking Batman.”

The other guys pause, unsure. Then reel backward, laughing. “What!” and “Stop dickin’ around.”

Neil joins the laughs, but his are quiet ones, more sobering. “Yeah, yeah. I’m shitting you. Of course it’s my *dad,* in some pretty cool ass costume I have to say, because, damn. Little-kid-me was convinced that ‘Batman’ had caught me sneaking around my block. He gave me some speech about doing the right thing and staying safe and what the fuck ever. It was all I could do to stop pissing myself because I had *Batman* escorting me back home. Finally, we’re there, and I don’t want to go up those lobby steps. I turn and look back. He gives me one of those finger-pointing things, with his head cocked and one eye squinted, and says in the most cheesy-ass ways possible, ‘Be good, son!’ And then? Ducks and runs.”

Neil stopped the story and turned to the bar and his beer glass, waving so the bartender could see it was empty. Kevin and Robbie were laughing hard now– Robbie not sure whether to dry his eyes or give a slow clap, Kevin not sure whether to use Robbie to hold himself up or to keep slowly punching him in the arm.

Neil let the laughter go on for a while. The story needed some of it. Hell, Neil needed some of it, but could only reach the level of a wry smile.

“Damn!” Robbie kept chuckling. “Damn. Your dad was awesome. Who the hell wears a bat costume in Gotham City?”

“Exactly,” Neil was deadpan now. He received his drink as the laughter died to silence.

“You mean,” Robbie asked. Kevin looked down.

Neil raised a toast. “‘Be good, son.’ You can’t pick your last words better than that.”

A sip.

“Everyone has a Batman story in this city. Can’t all be good ones, though.”

The three friends clinked their glasses one more time, then settled in to wait a while for the time the stories could start flowing again.

by Danny Wall (March 2015) 


Marvel Flipside

Welcome to the FlipSide!

In what could only be described as a grand experiment, a personal hobby of drawing and writing became an nearly three-year weekly project. From 2006 – 2009, I drew and PhotoShopped a “faux-cover” and wrote a “ficlet” featuring characters from Marvel Comics that were inversions of the hero/villain dichotomy.

In other words, I took all of Marvel’s villains and made them heroes, and all of Marvel’s heroes and made them villains. One issue at a time, starting with Marvel’s first, the Fantastic Four #1–  er, 4-Victory, #1, I mean.

I haven’t really done anything with them since then, but as I write this, Marvel is currently publishing an event that ties together nearly all the books in their publishing line-up, in which– yes, you guessed it– the heroes and villains are “inverted.” It’s called “Axis.” DC has done it, too, of course, most recently with their “Forever Evil” event, featuring Earth-3 and the Crime Syndicate, which are “flipped” versions of the Justice League. (That did have its roots in comics from previous decades, to be fair.)

What better opportunity to dust off all my old stuff, re-package them in a new blog layout for anyone to enjoy (or re-enjoy)?

So… here you go. Enjoy.

The four “families” of titles include:



The World’s Greatest Science Heroes, banding together to fight for justice, for life, for VICTORY!

Witness the rise of Mr. Victorious, the love between Fantasti-Girl and the Mole Man, and, of course, the wondrous wingless Wizard! Jump in here to explore the cornerstone of the FlipSide universe.

Green Goblin & the Gremlin


How far would you go to protect your city and your only son? Norman Osborn has taken on the urban legend of the Green Goblin as a force for good, but his driven passion may threaten to turn his son into a version of himself. Can Harry grown into his own man while also keeping the city safe from the likes of the Kingpin of Crime and Spider-Man?


Earth’s Mightiest Heroes are quite the celebrities! From Ricky Jones’ Emerald Heights penthouse or the Avengers Lodge, no crisis is too large, no cast is too large, for our celebrity heroes to save the day! Mythology, science, and time-crossed heroes collide to provide high-octane and high-stakes action!

The Brotherhood


There’s a secret sub-group of humanity whose only means of survival is to keep hidden among the throngs of everyday people. The Brotherhood tells the story of a secret society of mutants determined to unite the disparate underground and to keep the world safe from the evil Mutant X and his X-Men!


4-Victory     ~     Green Goblin & the Gremlin     ~     Avengers
     The Brotherhood     ~     FlipSide Marvel Presents
FlipSide: The End     ~     FlipSide Handbook

Captain Marvel: The Musical, Part 2

Welcome back from the intermission!
(Act One & Two are here.)


ACT THREE— Our big number here is “The City Needs a Hero” with Mr. Tawky Tawny Chorus-ing it up as Captain Marvel performs various acts of do-goodery, mirroring Billy Batson’s opening number from before. There’s even some of that sadness from before, too. His heroic acts are also a search for Dudley and Freddie, and he still feels as lonely as before.

Before he can be too glum, the song reprises almost immediately, into the “I Need a Hero” torch-song/lounge version, as Lust makes her appearance. Ultimately, however, a sultry dance number like that ends up lost on Captain Marvel, who of course is really a boy at heart, and he transforms back into Billy! His longing is for something more meaningful. He wants a family, and for now, the City will have to do. That sense of security is enough to melt Lust, and Mr. Tawny points out with pride that Billy has found the true way to defeat the Seven Deadly Enemies, by feeling their opposite.

Shazam! Mr. Tawny watches Marvel fly away, and the spirit of the Wizard suddenly appears, whisking Tawny to the Rock of Eternity– the same cave of wonders Billy had found himself in before, but this time, more of the statues are broken/crumbled. The Wizard’s spirit warns Tawny that Billy, like EVERYONE, must be true to their BEST self. Tawny turns mournful, and sings about his time as a true tiger, and about how he once dared to believe he could walk among humans. But it’s hard. He wonders “At What Cost”– is the price to continue furthering himself too much? Maybe it’s cheaper to give it up and return to what he once was.

Back to the Silvanas– where Freddie and Dudley have been captured and hidden away in a lab, guarded by Silvana and his animated robots, while Mary, a prisoner in a different way, cannot escape Beautia and her legion of maids.

Everyone sings “Is It My Turn?”, split in rounds and featuring their own plaintive hopes, or fears– Freddie wonders where Captain Marvel is and why he can’t be the hero; Dudley is ready to give up and doesn’t want to play anymore; Silvana revels in the power of tapped spirits; Beautia is ready to make Mary in her own image, the same she will do for the City as their mayor, and Mary is just … angry! Mary’s anger crashes the song into her own disruptive, tempo-changing number, “Stop Everything!” Beautia sends her maids-in-arms against Mary, but Mary is more than Mary– she’s become Anger itself, and escapes! For perhaps the first time in her life, Beautia wonders, did she do the right thing?

Mary/Anger emotions carry her through the City, alternatively reaching out/lashing out. Luckily, Captain Marvel is there! He tries to calm her/it down, staying on the defensive, but it seems futile. As the last effort, Captain Marvel will show his good faith by transforming into Billy Batson. Shazam! The lightening that restores his form also reveals Anger as Mary! There’s a connection there! He could share his transformative lightning, because she’s his long-lost sister! By sharing their common experiences, they realize “I Finally Found You,” and together, they can heal their loneliness, heal their anger. And together, they can find their way back to Silvana’s lab!

The reprise of “The Seven Deadly Enemies of Man,” with Silvana giddy like a child that he’s discovered the secrets of controlling life itself. Just like Mary, he begins the transformation so that Freddie can give in to his Envy, and Dudley his Sloth. There’s just one Deadly Enemy left….

But before that could happen, Billy and Mary try to sneak in. Mary points out the giant power source to try to unplug the various machines, but it’s too late, as Silvana is determined to bring Pride to life! Beautia wonders if it’s possible. Could Silvana have gone to far?! NEVER!!!

Bang! Crash! Emerging from the smoke and light, Tawky Tawny, the embodiment of Pride, in battle array! It’s true! Pride allowed him to transcend from being a mere jungle cat, and now Silvana has brought forth Tawny’s true power! The “The One True Deadly Enemy of Man!” Silvana demands allegience, and will send all he has animated against Tawny/Pride, even Freddie/Envy and Dudley/Sloth!

Billy knows what will really stop this. And with another Shazam, he shares his power– it’s Captain Marvel and Mary Marvel to the rescue. Captain Marvel and Freddie/Envy half-fight, half-talk through their issues, until SHAZAM! Freddie turns into Captain Marvel Jr.! Mary Marvel and Dudley/Sloth half-fight, half-slapstick, because, eh, it’s Sloth after all. Shazam! Dudley turns into Uncle Marvel!

Captain Marvel knows the only thing that can stop Tawny — a sacrifice. He changes into Billy Batson and pleads below the figure of Tawny/Pride, which actually pauses to regard this little hero. He would do this… for him? Silvana is horrified– he would not want to see such power destroyed; it is HIS to control! He rushes toward Billy with a power-sparking conduit, taunting him to shazam his way out of THIS. Captain Marvel Jr. manages to tackle Silvana aside, and Mary Marvel/Uncle Marvel pull the power like her original plan. Billy’s form is lifeless. Tawny/Pride shrinks, mourning the true sacrifice. Tawny has tried hard to avoid the pride that consumes him, and maybe, just maybe, Billy will let him do so again! COME…

Tawny has brought all to the Rock of Eternity, the statues of the enemies, except Pride, have all be restored. Tawny explains Billy’s selflessness has allowed Tawny to once again take up his OTHER self, as one of the Seven Great Angels of Man — Servanthood. With a touch, Tawny gives up his Pride-power so Billy can be healed! Happy reunions are cut off by the sudden blazing of braziers, and the spirit of the Wizard of Shazam appears! He affirms Tawny’s choice, and remarks how never before has the earth been guarded by FOUR Marvels. Truly, Billy Batson is the hero Earth has been waiting for. As for Silvana, he will indeed take the power of Pride, but will remain trapped here, taking the place of Tawny as the embodiment of Pride and transformed into a statue in his stead, with Beautia exiled to the Rock of Eternity to care for the statues as a price for her vanity.

The City rejoices. It’s the joyous final number, a rousing version of “The City Needs(Has) a Hero,” with Captain Marvel, Mary Marvel, Captain Marvel Jr., and yes, even Uncle Marvel over there. And at the end, Mr. Tawky Tawny invites the audience, too, to find the Marvel inside of each of them. Wink!

and.. CURTAIN!


Captain Marvel: The Musical

The ORIGINAL Captain Marvel



Whenever you see that word, doesn’t it just make you want to say it with “jazz hands!” like it’s the title of some Broadway production?

Wait a minute… a 1940s cultural icon, featuring a young but plucky orphan, a talking tiger, and larger-than-life fantastical plots? Why the CC Beck has this NOT been turned into a theatrical musical?

In might go, something like this … Overture, maestro!


PROLOGUE– Wandering on stage, a Tiger in a Suit. Mr. Tawky Tawny introduces himself– he is our Chorus, after all, and he hints at a world of wonder and spirit just beyond what we can see. And how it doesn’t take a special person to cut through the noise of life. It could be anyone at all…


ACT ONE- … like little Billy Batson in Fawcett City.As the City unfolds with its many citizens, Billy sings how “The City is My Playground!” He’s an orphan, living on his own, but he’s also strangely responsible for these people– his presence brings happiness to others and, yes, even inspiration. But it ends on a note of sadness, too, because as much as Billy tries to create a family from the various citizens in interacts with, it will always fall short of his ideal of family.

Other citizens aren’t quite as nice. There’s Dr. Silvana and his daughter, Beautia. Beatuia isn’t convinced that Fawcett City is the crown jewel of the East, but Silvana says it’s perfect for her needs, her drive to become Mayor, maybe even, Governor! Her “Best Foot Forward!” is a perfectly constructed vision of herself– complete with recently adopted daughter, Mary! Too bad Mary is such a petulant brat.

There’s also “Uncle” Dudley H. Dudley and young Freddie Freeman, a couple of con artists who try to run a scam on the Silvanas, you know, the one where the kid pretends to have a lame leg? Well, don’t run a con on supervillains! Silvana flies into a rage, displaying his latest invention, Animatorium, which brings parts of the city to life! With amazing feats of puppetry, costume, and dance, Dudley and Freddie are at Silvana’s mercy, and while Dudley flees, Freddie is hurt– this time for real! It’s up to Mary to save the day, as she convinces Beautia, and thus Silvana, that showing compassion will be good for her upcoming political career. Freddie is thankful, and maybe a bit smitten, but in fact Mary’s just as selfish as any of them– after all, if there is nowhere else for her to go, she is determined to hitch a ride along with Silvanas, who are “On The Way Up!”

Mr. Tawny ‘guides’ Dudley into finding Billy, the hero of the neighborhood. Billy’s heard all about Unca Dud’s kind of shenanigans, though, and is reluctant to help him. As Tawny’s refrain echoes, Billy reaffirms “Help is Where the Heart Is” and tries to make a plan.

sivana BeautiaSivana

At the site of Beautia’s upcoming press conference/stadium, Freddie tries (unsuccessfully) to get close Mary, but she does reveal a bit about the mysterious night she was left as an orphan. He at least convinces them to spy on Silvana and Beautia, and Silvana gets to reveal his own purpose for Fawcett City, in a villainous version of “The City is My Playground!” After all, he gets his own city-wide petri dish for his own experiments, such as using the Animatorium to control people’s minds! Well, isn’t that an unfortunate time to catch Freddie and Mary sneaking around!

Equally unfortunate that Dudley and Billy show up, too, posing as reporters for Whiz Radio. They almost convince Beautia, but Silvana soon sees through their ruse. He promises no happy ending. After all, “The World Is a Bad, Bad Place”, using his Animatorium to bring to life literal embodiments of Dudley’s greatest enemies– Greed and Gluttony. Silvana is just playing around because he can, while Beautia sees it as a warning for others. They leave them all to the destruction that Greed and Gluttony brings to the scene.

Billy awakens in a darkened scene, the abandoned subway tunnels he has fallen into. Mr. Tawky Tawny is there to offer “Help (is) Where the Hero Is,” and the two meet. Tawny guides him past the statues of the Seven Deadly Enemies of Man, some of which are broken– namely, Greed, Gluttony, and Pride. He leads him to the Wizard of Shazam, who explains Billy has been saved to bring his hope to the city above. He blesses Billy with the powers of Shazam, transforming him into Earth’s mightiest mortal, but another earthquake, thanks to the havoc above, causes the other statues to break, and a rock to fall on the Wizard! Billy is left only with a sacred charge– and, now Captain Marvel, he flies off!

In the City, Greed & Gluttony are twisting the people into a strange Thriller-like dance to “The Seven Deadly Enemies of Man.” It’s a huge showstopper as Captain Marvel descends, fighting off enemy-controlled goons and finally taking out the Big Bad Enemies themselves.

Silvana and Beautia are both intrigued and inspired — inspired to crush this hero before it’s too late!



To be continued, here in Part 2! 

Story Meeting — Captain Marvel: The Movie

Captain Marvel #2, Cover by Ed McGuiness

From Captain Marvel #2, Cover by Ed McGuinness, 2012

Ladies and Gentlemen, LOOK at Captain Marvel.

And take a moment to realize what a tremendous opportunity we have here.

Here is our chance to get in the forefront of the public consciousness– a strong, confident and capable woman with the power, flash, and style to capture the imagination of moviegoers everywhere. I’m talking nothing less than the next heroic icon! But… how? What’s her story, exactly?

What’s that? An Avenger in Space. No? It’s more complicated than that? Well, explain it to me like I’m, I dunno, eight.


Well, it’s a fact, and perhaps a sad one, that comicbook movies and comicbook comics are, yes, quite different, and we’ll have to make a slightly different story than … whatever you call THAT explanation.

But, hey, one thing the Marvel Cinematic Universe does well is take a superhero genre and blend it with another convention. Captain America as a period piece? Done. As a 70s political conspiracy film? Done. And I think I’m not alone here when I say it’s obvious what will be the best blend with Captain Marvel’s story…

Suspense. An alien invasion story. Start with X-Files, end up with Captain Marvel. “Our Hero Is Out There.”

from Captain Marvel #10, cover by Filipe Andrade (2012)

from Captain Marvel #10, cover by Filipe Andrade (2012)

To start with– Carol Danvers is already a hero, thanks to a high-octane Air Force adventure where Carol led her squad, the Warbirds, to save the world from terrorists. Roll credits, complete with press junket, fan reactions.

But all doesn’t sit well with Carol. Her reward is to be shunted to a largely ceremonial desk job, and what’s worse, there are some things about her previous adventure that doesn’t add up. She starts to investigate, running into dead ends, and worse. She finds a fellow solider is running down leads, too, but Walter Lawson seems to have his own agenda. All things add up to “It Came From Outer Space” (50s style) and come crashing together, forcing Carol and Lawson to escape from super-secret Air Force base, and in the ultimate battle over something called a Psyche-Magnetron, Lawson is revealed to be the alien Mar-Vell, he dies a spectacular but mysterious death, and Carol’s body is changed, charged with alien energy and capable of absorbing the power of stars!

And that’s just the second act! Realizing the need for both secrecy and exposing the conspiracy, she fashions a mask and dons the identity of Captain Marvel!

The Captain now begins to root out the influence of alien Kree among us, battling dangers as real as Sentry robots and Kree Purifiers, and as intangible as panic and xenophobia. Which, of course, was the Supreme Intelligence’s plan all along, since it wants to use Earth as its case study in emotions and petri dish of human experiments. Still, Cap’n M has accelerated the timetable. It is time to use the Psyche-Magnetron to destroy humanity, and only Captain Marvel, with help of her Warbirds, can expose and take down the Kree threat once and for all.

End credits? This caption: “Captain Marvel will return in Avengers 3: The Kang Dynatsy”

And thousands of little girls want to dress as Captain Marvel for Halloween that year.

From Digital Baubles, Tumblr from Kelly Sue DeConnick, writer of Captain Marvel (2012-present)

Movie Review– X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)


X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014) Directed byBryan Singer, Produced by Lauren Shuler Donner, Bryan Singer, Simon Kinberg, Hutch Parker; Screenplay by Simon Kinberg; Story by Simon Kinberg Matthew Vaughn Jane Goldman Based onDays of Future Past  by Chris Claremont John Byrne

X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014) Directed by Bryan Singer, Produced by
Lauren Shuler Donner, Bryan Singer, Simon Kinberg, Hutch Parker;
Screenplay by Simon Kinberg; Story by Simon Kinberg, Matthew Vaughn, Jane Goldman;
Based on Days of Future Past by Chris Claremont and John Byrne

Good news! If you liked X-Men: First Class, then you will really like X-Men: Days of Future Past.

The same things that a lot of people love about X:FC show up again in X:DoFP. For example, having the movie largely a period piece, in 1973, rather than the present day or some vague “not too distant future.” For another, having the focus on a core group of conflicted characters, namely Xavier/the Professor (James McAvoy and Patrick Stewart) and Erik/Magneto (Michael Fassbender and Ian McKellen) and Raven/Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence).

In fact, I appreciate the last one the most, as it creates a very personal drama that is balanced by a very epic scale. The setting ranges from both past and future, and all over the globe – Russia, China, New York, Paris, Washington DC. The stakes are quite high, too – nothing less than the destruction of life on earth, after all, and the conflict of human/mutant is not left to some abstract reference; we actually get to see this very-real conflict in a framing device as Sentinel robots battle older-Professor and older-Magneto and other familiar X-Men.

And what a battle it is. There is a creative use of powers, here, as characters use their powers in genuine teamwork for the most effective moves. Watch for Blink’s (Fan Bingbing) portals to play around with physics, a visualization of power that is more effective on film than on a comic’s page. And I never knew I was so excited to see Warpath on the big screen, here played by Booboo Stewart, along with Storm, Iceman, Sunspot, the Professor, Magneto, Colossus, and Wolverine. The oppressive and hopeless tone is exaggerated here. Heck, their final stand takes place inside a tomb! But thematically, they hold their own because of their teamwork, best expressed with Bishop (Omar Sy) who can absorb and redirect others’ energies, and, of course, Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) whose out-of-phase powers can also send others’ spirits back in time.

If you are hoping to see more of these characters, however, you will be disappointed. Because the key to their teamwork is in the past, when there wasn’t a team at all. So Wolverine gets sent back in time (his spirit is sent into his past-self’s body) in order to make sure younger-Xavier and younger-Magneto can play well together and stop Mystique from making a big mistake.

Let me just say BEFORE THE SPOILERS that it’s a good thing you’re smiling so much at the look and casting and costuming and sets and CGI/animation and everything. Because these smiles are enough to distract you from squinting a bit at the plot. Don’t look to too hard, or annoying things like QUESTIONS will come to your mind.

SPOILERS! Now in Question Form!

So… in the future, why do the X-Men try to send someone’s spirit back AT THAT POINT? Surely they would have had this conversation prior to their, uhm, Really-The-Last-Stand-This-Time. They’ve been using Kitty Pryde’s power for a while, right? so maybe I missed the point where suddenly it seemed like a good idea to use it THIS way.

Also, WHY does Magneto say they need his past-self when clearly they don’t “need” him since they reach Mystique in the moments she first tries to shoot Trask? I suppose past-Xavier needs him since he won’t know where Mystique is, but older-Magneto wouldn’t have known that, right?

Are we REALLY supposed to expect that Mystique has NEVER killed anyone prior to her confrontation with Trask? That’s a LOT of action for her to have seen to have “never” killed anyone.

Why is Trask in some random meeting with the President’s cabinet to be “glad he asked that question” about the Sentinels? Isn’t he just a businessman?

How many days was Wolverine in the past, and why doesn’t it take the same amount of “time” in the future?

And, of course, it’s best not to think about the whole time travel thing anyway, as it leads to questions like: how does Old-Wolverine return to his body which will become New-Wolverine the moment the timeline is “fixed” into it’s new version of history? It’s a neat idea, like your time travel is all a dream and doesn’t become “real” until the moment you wake up, but there are some philosophical implications to physics and identity and paradox which I guess you just have to accept in a superhero movie.

And which I guess pretty sums up the answers to any of my questions above, which is: “just because, OK?!”

Kind of like the answer to why Wolverine doesn’t “lose it” every time he doesn’t “think calm thoughts.” There’s only one time when it would be dramatically important for him to do, and so that’s when he does, despite clearly many other opportunities to do so. The film takes these moments as it needs them to keep the plot and characterization flowing. It’s quite impressive that it gives the audience an important emotional or expositional beat just at the right time, so thank you screenwriter Simon Kinberg and director Bryan Singer, although it’s not glowing praise as I’d appreciate a bit more logic to the flow as well.

News Flash! Professor X Is a Jerk! (But Gets Better)

Clearly, this film is really all about Professor X/Charles Xavier, as played by McAvoy. Despite this film’s billing as an ensemble cast filled “with the most X-Men characters ev-ah!!”, it really all comes down to Xavier’s heroic journey. His is the character arc that starts him off in the lowest place for him to be: crippled emotionally but not physically, a man who once helped mutants is now one who has no mutant powers. He must receive help from his fairy godmother, here played by Wolverine, and must go on a series of quests to return him to his rightful place.

To be clear, yes, this means that Wolverine is actually more of supporting character in terms of plot, despite his placement on a movie poster. The guy has good lines, helps move the plot forward, and is recognizable/ marketable, but in fact he doesn’t have any sincere motivation, character growth, or internal struggle. He does what he needs to do so the plot can advance, which again is pretty much like all those “Just Because” things I talked about.

Thematically, it’s interesting that Xavier’s turning point is in a big speech about how “good” pain and suffering is. Turns out, it has something to do with hope, or at least that what he says out loud, but I think the film overall makes a better case that it’s about teamwork. Magneto “loses” for example, because he breaks from the group to take matters into his own hands. Mystique “wins” because she joins Xavier’s side, if only for that moment.

And both antagonists have a warped idea on what teamwork/community really is. Magneto’s ideas is more about blindly lashing out, uniting as a force for war and vengeance, the best defense a good offense. Trask’s ideas is about how humans will need to come together with mutants as their enemies so each side will make the other strong. Or something. His big villain speech was one of those “oh cool! … oh wait” don’t-squint-too-hard-or-it-won’t-look-right kind of moments.

BUT WAIT! There’s More!

Usually, movies like these have some pretty definitive endings– namely, the antagonists die. In this case, however, Magneto flies away after his battle is lost, and it’s more of a philosophical battle, to boot. Trask, also, is spared– obviously, of course, or since that’s pretty much the nature of the quest in the first place. Certainly, that can only mean one thing– sequels!

In a very intriguing move, the nature of this time-travel story means that any sequel we get next, however, will be pretty much a brand-new movie. If you didn’t like any of the previous movies in this X-Men film series by 20th Century Fox, then don’t worry. All of that has been erased, for all intents and purposes. Even that woman who Wolverine was so angsty about in over four films spanning nearly 15 years is back– Jean Grey, with a cameo by her original actor, Famke Janssen.

I’ve Run Out of Room…

and maybe you didn’t get this far anyway. I didn’t get to talk about the acting in general (very good,) the effects (ranging from good to OK), and the score (also good.) I didn’t get to talk about Quicksilver stealing the show (which I found fun) and becoming an audience favorite, judging from the theater I saw it in. I didn’t get to talk about the somewhat “choppy” feel of the film (which I didn’t like), as if each sequence of the film felt like it’s own mini-movie or series of related vignettes. But overall, I enjoyed the film and it’s balance between the epic scale and personal struggles. I think it’s even better than its predecessor, X-Men: First Class, which I rank among the X-Franchise’s best.

On the scale of Yes to No, I recommend X-M:DoFP with a hearty “Heck Yeah!”

By Danny Wall