Coffee Talk #654: Excited and Scared For Big Trouble in Little China Starring The Rock

Big Trouble in Little China is one of my all-time favorite movies (I’m talking top three). As a lifelong fan of pro-wrestling, I vowed to support any movie Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is involved with. When the rumor of The Rock starring in a remake of Big Trouble in Little China broke, I was immensely excited…and more than a little bit scared. On paper, it should be a movie that I love, but John Carpenter’s 1986 classic has elements that I expect a 2015 movie studio to completely miss.

You see, I have no doubt that The Rock would be brilliant as a modern day Jack Burton. Kurt Russell was fantastic in that role, playing the overconfident (wannabe) hero that thinks way too highly of his abilities and completely overestimates his prowess with the ladies. While I don’t think The Rock would be able to achieve the mesmerizingly charming dopiness that Russell pulled off, he’d be able to bring more physicality to the role, allowing the movie’s action to reach new heights (for the Jack Burton character, anyway).

The reason why Jack Burton is such a wonderful character is that he absolutely thinks he’s the hero, but is most certainly not. The true hero of Big Trouble in Little China is Wang Chi, subtly and expertly played by Dennis Dun. Dun’s Wang Chi has a quiet confidence; he’s much more capable than Jack Burton could ever be, but you’ll never hear him brag about that fact.

Should the Big Trouble in Little China remake happen, I completely expect Hollywood to fail in the casting of Wang Chi. I expect the studio to cast someone that’s too pretty and too willing to take a back seat to The Rock. With the way Hollywood has been casting Asian-Americans lately, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Wang Chi rewritten as 1/8th Chinese so that some caucasian pretty boy can play the role. As much as Jack Burton’s character made the original Big Trouble in Little China, Wang Chi was equally vital to the mix. The two characters and two actors complemented each other perfectly, in a way that few pairs in other buddy movies ever have.

So while I’m terribly excited for a Big Trouble in Little China remake starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, I’m going to temper my expectations. I fully expect The Rock to make a kick-ass Jack Burton, but I’m worried about what Hollywood will do with Wang Chi. I fear that the new version of the character will lack the strength the original had and I fear that he won’t be the true hero of the story.

What do you guys and gals think? Are you amped for a Big Trouble in Little China remake? Any casting ideas for Wang Chi? Kindly share all your thoughts in the comments section, lest you be doomed to the hell of the upside down sinners. (The Chinese have a lot of hells.)

Coffee Talk #653: Ignorant Pacquiao Fans Dismiss Mayweather’s Victory

Last night’s boxing match (hard to call it a “fight”) between Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and Manny Pacquiao was disappointing. The most lucrative bout in the sport’s history, it was pugilistic clinic by Mayweather that didn’t exactly electrify the crowd. While Manny had a few moments of flashy offense and stunned Mayweather a few times, “Money” dominated the fight. For various reasons, many Pacquiao fans aren’t giving Mayweather the credit he deserves. As a hardcore boxing fan, I find all the talk of “all Mayweather did was run” and “Mayweather was holding all night” incredibly annoying; it shows that many Filipino boxing fans — especially the ones that only watch Pacquiao fights — don’t understand the sport at all. Before I rant more about that, let’s get to the official particulars.

Judge Dave Moretti scored it 118-110, while judges Glenn Feldman and Burt Clements had it 116-112. I was scoring the fight and gave Pacquiao two rounds, matching Moretti’s score. I also put an asterisk next to two rounds, noting that they were tough to score, so the 116-112 scores seem reasonable to me.

According to CompuBox, Mayweather landed 148 of 435 punches (34 percent), while Pacquiao landed 81 of 429 punches (19 percent). With those numbers in mind, I find it hilarious that ignorant fans have accused Mayweather of “only” holding and running. While he certainly held more than ever before and fought backwards for the majority of the fight, he also landed 67 more punches than Pacquiao and was the more accurate fighter.

It appears that several Pacquiao fans don’t understand how boxing is judged. The Association of Boxing Commissions uses three criteria to score a fight. I’ll list all three and discuss them in the context of Mayweather vs. Pacquiao.

  1. Clean Punching — Mayweather landed more shots and cleaner shots. He was accurate with his jab, straight counter-right, and check hook. Even when Manny managed to land combinations, many of his punches were partially blocked.
  2. Effective Aggression — Many Pacquiao supporters claim that Manny should have gotten more credit for being the aggressor. While it’s obvious to anyone that Pacquiao was pushing the pace, he wasn’t aggressive in an effective manner. His low connect percentage reflects his ineffective aggression.
  3. Ring Generalship — This is where Mayweather excelled and this is what’s lost on many Pacquiao fans. For the majority of the fight, Mayweather controlled the pace and distance. Again, the numbers support this. This was Pacquiao’s lowest and least accurate output for a 12-round fight; it had everything to do with Mayweather’s fantastic ability to control other fighters.

 

Keep in mind that I’m not a fan of Mayweather’s personality at all. I was rooting for Pacquiao and hoped that the God he prays to would bless him with a miracle. Even though I think Mayweather is a woman-beating piece-of-crap, his boxing ability is undeniably spectacular. The fight went pretty much how I thought it would — a dominant but unexciting boxing clinic by Floyd Mayweather, Jr.

Many fans are denying Mayweather’s dominance of Pacquiao due to ignorance. They simply don’t understand the sport of boxing and their whining is irritating me. It makes it look like Filipinos are homers that have no idea what boxing is about — they just complain about holding and running, while ignoring punch output and ring generalship. If you judged the fight logically and objectively, the only reasonable conclusion is that Mayweather thoroughly outboxed Pacquiao.

Anyway, that’s my take on the Mayweather vs. Pacquiao boxing match and how some stupid fans have reacted to it. What did you think of the fight? Yeah, it was a snoozer, but I don’t see how anyone could deny Mayweather’s performance. If you watched the fight, please share your thoughts on it in the comments section.

Coffee Talk #652: Random Thoughts on Daredevil (Netflix)

After a trio of binge-watching sessions, I finally got around to finishing Daredevil on Netflix. The first of several direct-to-Netflix series of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), all 13 episodes of Daredevil were released on the streaming service on April 10, 2015. A few of you RPadholics and many of my friends binge-watched the show over the release weekend, but I spaced out my viewing sessions (partially to savor it and partially due to other commitments). After finishing Daredevil and thinking about it for a day, I’ve come to the conclusion that I really, really enjoyed the series, but absolutely love what it does for the MCU. I’ll break down my likes and dislikes below, but first a bit on why I love what Daredevil means for the future of the MCU.

As I mentioned, Daredevil is the first of several Marvel series coming to Netflix. For various reasons, the company chose Netflix to highlight its “street level” superheroes. Following Daredevil, Netflix will have shows starring Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron First. While the Avengers combat alien invasions, Captain America battles giant Nazi organizations, and Thor faces off against demigods, the street level heroes fight everyday crime. Daredevil beats on muggers, Luke Cage fights gangs, Jessica Jones has a private investigation firm, and Iron First has girly yellow slippers. I love that this facet of Marvel is being explored. While these heroes aren’t as powerful as a Norse god or a man in billion-dollar armor, they’re easier to relate to and arguably more interesting because of their vulnerabilities. The street level heroes are a brilliant contrast to the Avengers and help diversify the MCU.

I also love that all 13 episodes were released at once on Netflix. Yeah, you don’t have the weekly water-cooler chats about the show, but I love that I can watch as much Daredevil as I please whenever I please. People love to binge-watch these days and being able to binge-watch a brand new show is very, very cool.

Now let’s move on to some random thoughts (binary style!) about Daredevil. I know that many of you have finished the show already and I’d love to hear your thoughts on it. Please share them in the comments section. Now activating binary mode. (Activate your spoiler shields!)

Daredevil Netflix red costume

Good: I’m sure some parents’ and/or Christian groups will be appalled that I’m celebrating Daredevil’s violence, but that aspect of the show was unique compared to the violence in the MCU movies. Sure, Cap, Thor, and the gang take their fair share of punches, but the violence in Daredevil is far more bone-crunching. There are several episodes where you think the hero’s powers aren’t enhanced senses, but the ability to absorb a decade’s worth of ass-kicking in 30 minutes or less. Daredevil takes several beatings throughout the 13 episodes and unlike a Norse god getting smacked by a frost giant, you can imagine what those beatings were like.

Daredevil gives as good as he gets too (otherwise, he’d be dead after two episodes). The beatings Daredevil doles out are straight-up nasty and Kingpin’s use of a car door makes me a little bit scared of my Ford Focus Electric. Appropriately, the street level heroes face street level violence.

Bad: Television shows have a certain rhythm, usually planned around commercial breaks. Since direct-to-Netflix shows don’t have such annoyances, the directors are liberated. In some cases, the unusual pacing can be pleasantly surprising. In others, there are dull stretches. While I liked Daredevil’s lack of predictable beats, there were several episodes that could have been better with more traditional pacing. Sometimes giving directors and editors freedom isn’t the best.

Good: Kingpin absolutely ruled. Between Vincent D’Onofrio’s performance and the material he had to work with, this version of Kingpin is my favorite live-action portrayal of a comic-book villain ever. I’ve never watched a villain so nuanced and layered. D’Onofrio’s Kingpin was powerful, gentle, ruthless, caring, maniacal, child like, romantic, and sadistic. Sure, he had 13 episodes to develop the character, but his performance was flat-out impressive no matter how you slice it. It’s awesome how you can find be terrified of Kingpin in one scene and feel sorry him in a scene where he’s on an awkward date.

Daredevil Netflix Kingpin

Bad: While Kingpin owned and the supporting cast was strong, I found Charlie Cox a little bland. In the comics, I enjoy reading as much about Matt Murdock as I do his alter ego. In the show, I couldn’t wait for Murdock to put on his costume and kick some ass. Part of it has to do with Cox’s stupid grin, which is just asking to be smacked. It’s not that he was bad; I just found the rest of the cast more entertaining.

Good: As I mentioned in the last paragraph, the supporting cast was strong. My favorite episode was probably the seventh, which featured Daredevil’s trainer Stick. I love this character in the comics and was thrilled to see him on television. Scott Glenn’s interpretation of stick was lots of fun.

A close second was the tenth episode, “Nelson vs. Murdock.” In the previous episodes, I enjoyed Elden Henson’s version of Foggy Nelson, but he killed it in this one. It would have been easy and lazy to rely on Foggy purely as comic relief. Having him challenge Matt — questioning his existence as Daredevil and their decades-long friendship — made for a powerful episode.

Good: There were lots of cute nods to fans of the comics. I loved the crack about Vanessa dating a guy that wore white suits with purple cravats (Kingpin’s traditional outfit in the comics). Mentions of the Greek girl Matt dated in college set the ground for a future appearance by Elektra. While Karen Page was victimized throughout the series, the use of heroin in the show made me worry that the writers will follow the books and make her an addict in the future. While they were forgettable asides for people new to Daredevil, they were also nice bits for longtime fans of the character to hear.

Daredevil Netflix Matt Karen

Bad: As expected, Daredevil took a few episodes to come together. The first few episodes ranged from decent to good. It wasn’t until the fifth episode that Daredevil really took off.

Good: Rosario Dawson is amazingly sexy.

Bad: Poor Ben Urich. I was hoping to see him in the upcoming Spider-Man reboot, but his MCU version is no more. (Note to RPadholic Smartguy: Why aren’t you complaining about Daredevil Ben Urich being black?!? :p)

Good: I loved the way that the first season ended. Ultimately, it was about Wilson Fisk throwing away his altruistic (though misguided) side and truly becoming the Kingpin, just as much as it was about Matt Murdock finding his way (and an honest tailor) and fully becoming Daredevil. It was a great build that left me wanting more. On a side note, I’ve always wondered why other superheroes never messed with Daredevil on April 1, replacing his red costume with a turquoise and fuchsia getup…but perhaps that’s just me.

Good: While I wouldn’t go as far as saying that Daredevil is the best part of the MCU (which some others have proclaimed), I very much enjoyed the show and love that it laid the groundwork for future street level exploits. Bring on Jewel Jessica Jones!

Coffee Talk #651: Cutting the Cord With HBO Now

Last week, I made the decision to cut the cord and cancel my AT&T U-Verse TV service. The recent launch of HBO Now and the fairly recent launch of Sling TV precipitated the change. With those two streaming television services, I have access to Game of ThronesLast Week Tonight with John OliverESPN, and the first few rounds of the NBA playoffs — vital parts of my TV consumption. My existing Netflix (comp account) and Amazon Prime subscriptions already provide a great selection of movie and television content. HBO Now and Sling TV give me even more to choose from — certainly more than I need. When you add up all the subs, it’s still cheaper than my monthly U-Verse TV package.

One week in and I’m a happy camper. The Game of Thrones premiere streamed without a hitch, I’ve got my weekly dose of John Oliver, my lunchtime break of Around the Horn and Pardon the Interruption continues, and I get to watch NBA games. While people had problems with Sling TV during March Madness and some people had issues with Game of Thrones on HBO Now last night, those services have been working flawlessly for me. I’m getting almost all the content I want and saving money!

Of course there are things that I’ll miss. Chief among them is live boxing. Unfortunately, HBO Now doesn’t feature the network’s live sports broadcasts. Showtime also has a bunch of live fights that I’d like to see. Since I’m no longer a U-Verse subscriber, I won’t have access to boxing pay-per-view events. Hopefully a solution will present itself in the future. For now, I’ll just have to go to bars or make drop-in visits to friends with cable in order to enjoy boxing. Keep in mind that all of this was expected. Being a hardcore boxing fan is really expensive. You need a cable or satellite subscription, premium networks, and pay-per-view to follow the sport live.

Cutting the cord has been liberating. It’s cheaper and (for the way I like to watch television) better. Yeah, I’ll be lumped in with those Silver Lake hipsters that love to brag about how they cut the cord years ago, but it only made sense for me now. Game of Thrones has been my favorite TV show for the last four years and there’s a bunch of other HBO content that I love (despite the presence of the wretched Olivia Munn). HBO Now gives me all of that. With baseball kicking off and the NBA playoffs starting, this is my favorite time of the year for sports. Sling TV has me covered. Watching TV solely through streaming services is less expensive and kind of cool in that “Hey, look at me! I’m a futurist!” way. For my television habits, Netflix and Amazon Prime were a great start, but HBO Now and Sling TV sealed the deal.

I know that RPadholic Smartguy has cut the cord. Care to give an update on how your experience is going? For you other guys and dolls, what would it take for you to cancel your traditional cable service and go full streaming? Leave a comment and let me know (please)!

Coffee Talk #650: The Best Nerd Movies of 2014

2014 was a busy year for nerd movies. Some were excellent (Captain America: The Winter Soldier), some were uneven (X-Men: Days of Future Past), and some were crap (The Amazing Spider-Man 2). Out of all the nerd movies released this year, one surprised and delighted me more than any other — Guardians of the Galaxy.

The surprise was on a couple of levels. While I’m a fan of the recent Guardians of the Galaxy comics (Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, Brian Michael Bendis), I didn’t think these characters were mainstream enough for a mass hit. Despite the monosyllabic talking tree and the haughty talking raccoon, that’s exactly what happened. Guardians slaughtered the box office and was generally well reviewed by mainstream media outlets.

The other surprise was Dave Bautista. As a longtime pro-wrestling fan that prefers skilled technicians over musclebound oafs, I’ve loathed Bautista for more than a decade. He sucked in the ring and on the mic for the WWE. I was certain that he’d suck in Guardians of the Galaxy. His performance was…shocking. Obviously Big Dave was made for action scenes, but I was astounded by his comedic timing. He delivered some great lines in the movie and I’m still astounded that his acting was entertaining.

As I’ve written a few times in the past, I believe that Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a superior movie from technical and writing standpoints. That said, Guardians is way more fun and re-watchable. Since their digital releases, I’ve seen Captain America: The Winter Soldier twice and…you know, I’m not actually sure how many times I’ve watched Guardians, but it’s definitely more than 10.

With its fantastic special effects, outstanding use of music, and fun performances, Guardians of the Galaxy gets my pick as nerd movie of the year.

LEGO Movie

Honorable Mentions

The LEGO Movie — This one was a surprise. I was expecting a saccharine movie for kids, but got a clever and heartfelt film. LEGO Batman ruled. “Everything is Awesome” ruled. The LEGO Movie was a smart and funny movie that’s great for children of all ages, and one of the most charming movies I’ve seen in years.

Birdman — I need to watch this movie again…several times. The writing and performances were great, but the camerawork was mesmerizing. The way the movie was filmed, it looks like a couple of really long tracking shots. Some have argued that it appears to be one tracking shot. Birdman is strange, powerful, and dazzling…but I’m still not sure what I saw. This movie definitely needs repeat viewings.

Birdman

Your Turn — As always, I want to hear about your favorite movies of 2014. Fire away in the comments section (please!).

Coffee Talk #649: Shreds Revisited (Pop Edition!)

As many of you know, I’m a big fan of “shreds” videos. A well done shreds video totally cracks me up. The best clips are musically accurate enough to be recognizable, with the right amount of horrible playing/singing to make you laugh. The last time I wrote about shreds, I focused on heavy metal acts like Metallica and Ozzy Osbourne. The genre lends itself  marvelously to shreds; it’s fun to butcher virtuoso guitar playing and bang heavy drums off-rhythm. Today, I give you a trio of my favorite pop music shreds. Today’s lineup is Hall & Oates, Backstreet Boys, and Miley Cyrus.

This live performance of Hall & Oates “Maneater” is a fantastic example of a superior shreds video. The composer did an exemplary job of mixing different musical instruments and vocals, syncing them perfectly with the performance. Small touches, like the hollow sound that occurs when Hall hits the microphone stand, really help bring this video to life. Plus, John Oates is just a funny looking dude. It’s a scientific fact that videos that feature a white man with an afro and a pr0n-stache are exponentially funnier than ones without a white man with an afro and a pr0n-stache.

This clip of the Backstreet Boys singing “I Want it That Way” shows that a capella shreds can work too. It helps that it was performed on Oprah, as cutaways to the live crowd and Ms. Winfrey herself lead to some funny moments. The ridiculous faces made by the Backstreet Boys are even funnier. Lastly, middle-aged men singing a boy band song is always a good laugh. On a technical level, the composer did a great job crafting horrid harmonies.

Last, but not least, is Miley Cyrus performing “Wrecking Ball” on Ellen. Similar to the Backstreet Boys performance, the talk-show setting helps. Miley’s edge is that she’s singing a ridiculously dramatic song; a rich white girl whining about problems just begs to be made fun of. The composer did a fine job with the instruments, particularly the wretched guitar playing. On its own, “Wrecking Ball” is easy enough to laugh at. Give it the shreds treatment and the song hits a whole new level of comedy.

Naturally, I want to watch any shreds videos that you recommend. If you come across some great ones, please post them in the comments section.

Coffee Talk #648: Your Black Friday/Cyber Monday Wish/Get List

The ludicrous sensations known as Black Friday and Cyber Monday are nearly here! For the next week or so, I’d love to hear all about your wishes and wants for this year’s shopping spectacular. As the deals pile up, please use the comments section to post any sweet deals you’ve snagged or that you recommend to your fellow RPadholics. If you’d be so kind as to keep an eye on Amazon’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals page, picking something up would really help out RPadTV (if you hit the link in this sentence before buying).

Sadly, I’m way too poor to buy much of anything this year. So I’m going to live vicariously through you guys and gals. Hopefully a bunch of you will enjoy some stellar deals so that I can feel a bit of joy and possibly bust out the following saying:

Ha! So let’s have it (please)! Share your Black Friday and Cyber Monday wishes and gets below (again, please).


Welcome to Coffee Talk! Let’s start off the day by discussing whatever is on your (nerd chic) mind. Every morning I’ll kick off a discussion and I’m counting on you to participate in it. If you’re not feelin’ my topic, feel free to start a chat with your fellow readers and see where it takes you. Whether you’re talking about the rocky career of RGKnee, Derrick Rose’s endless aches, or the extremely unfortunate breakup of Demi Lovato and Miley Cyrus, Coffee Talk is the place to do it.

Coffee Talk #647: Aunt May, Dr. Doom, and Pissing Off Comics Fans

While Marvel Studios has been serving up comic book movies that entertain both fanboys and mainstream moviegoers, other studios continue to find ways to piss off comics fans. You’d think that Fox and Sony would learn from Marvel Studios productions like Iron ManCaptain America, and The Avengers, no? Instead, the studios that (unfortunately) hold movie licenses for the Fantastic Four and Spider-Man seem to be going out of their way to irk comic book readers, if the rumors are to be believed. As a lifelong comics nerd, the recent rumors are bugging the hell out of me. Today’s Coffee Talk is all about therapeutic venting.

Let’s start with the upcoming Fantastic Four movie. In a recent interview with Collider, actor Tony Kebbell revealed how his version of Dr. Doom will differ from the comic book version. Kebbell said, “He’s Victor Domashev, not Victor Von Doom in our story. The Doom in ours — I’m a programmer. Very anti-social programmer.” That’s…terrible. Dr. Doom is one of the most interesting and complex villains in comics. He’s a cool mix of science and sorcery. His harshness is offset by a genuine love for the people he rules in Latveria. One of the worst parts of the last pair of Fantastic Four movies was that they made Dr. Doom an evil businessman instead of an awesome scientist/sorcerer. The next Dr. Doom is an evil programmer. I’m not sure if that’s better or worse than an evil businessman, but I know that it still sucks.

Already expanding the Spider-Man franchise with upcoming Sinister Six and Venom movies, Sony is rumored to be pursuing a movie based on — get this — Aunt May. When I read the rumor on Latino Review, my (NSFW) reaction was something like this:

The Aunt May movie (I can’t believe I just typed that) is supposedly a spy film. The good news is that the rumor is so completely ridiculous that part of me believes that a Sony PR flak leaked it just to mess with the press. The bad news is that there’s a good chance I’ll be forced to jump off the Golden Gate Bridge if I wake up in a world where an Aunt May movie is a real thing.

Anyway, that’s enough venting for now. What do you guys and dolls think about the latest Fantastic Four and Spider-Man Aunt May rumors? How do you feel about a Fantastic Four movie where Dr. Doom isn’t an awesome scientist/sorcerer named Victor Von Doom, but is instead an angry programmer named Victor Domashev? Do you think an Aunt May spy movie is too nuts to be true? Kindly share your thoughts in the comments section.

Coffee Talk #646: Net Neutrality is Screwed

President Barack Obama recently made a bold statement on the issue of net neutrality. He urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to keep the Internet “free and open.” The President believes that “free and open” should apply to both wired and wireless Internet connectivity, and millions of American consumers agree with him.

Unfortunately, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler doesn’t appear to be playing ball, despite being an Obama appointee. Prior to chairing the FCC, Wheeler served as a lobbyist for the cable and wireless industries. The Washington Post reported Wheeler as saying, “What I’ve got to figure out is how to split the baby.” It doesn’t work that way. You can’t have a version of net neutrality that serves both consumer and telecom interests. Similar to how a woman can’t be “almost” pregnant, you can’t almost have net neutrality. The FCC is either going to keep the Internet free and open or allow Internet providers to prioritize content.

For those of you unfamiliar with the issue, telecom companies like Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Verizon, etc. want the right to throttle Internet connections and grant priority access to certain content providers. This would destroy the Internet as we know it, heavily favoring companies that can afford to pay off Internet providers for priority access and making things prohibitive for startups with limited budgets. For the most entertaining explanation of the issue ever, check out the Last Week Tonight with John Oliver clip below.

On related a note, senator Ted Cruz idiotically tweeted that net neutrality is Obamacare for the Internet. That’s just moronic. Meanwhile, AT&T has announced that it will halt the deployment of fiber-based high-speed Internet until the net neutrality issues is resolved, which is the telecom equivalent of a bratty kid taking his ball and going home because he’s losing the game.

Personally, I have zero faith in net neutrality being upheld — zero. Even though net neutrality is being backed by heavy hitters like Google and Yahoo!, the telecom companies have better lobbyists. AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, etc. have been crooking the government better and longer than their relatively young opponents in technology. I’m pretty disillusioned with the government; I don’t expect it to get important issues right and fully expect most politicians to serve businesses over consumers. Perhaps I’m being cynical, but I can’t imagine a positive outcome for this issue.

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the recent net neutrality developments. Do you think the Internet will remain free and open? Or will it become a walled garden controlled by your ISP? Share your thoughts in the comments section (please!)


Welcome to Coffee Talk! Let’s start off the day by discussing whatever is on your (nerd chic) mind. Every morning I’ll kick off a discussion and I’m counting on you to participate in it. If you’re not feelin’ my topic, feel free to start a chat with your fellow readers and see where it takes you. Whether you’re talking about videogames, the return of “full dinosaur” Chris Bosh, $2,000 coffee machines, or naked Kim Kardashian, Coffee Talk is the place to do it.

Coffee Talk #645: The Young Adult-ing of Batgirl and Nightwing

There’s an unusual trend going on with the DC Comics’ Bat Family. Longtime supporting characters Batgirl (Barbara Gordon) and Nightwing (the original Robin, Dick Grayson) are getting the “young adult” treatment. While DC’s New 52 started everyone off with grim and gritty tones, Batgirl and Nightwing have…evolved into young adult comics. As a huge fan of both characters, I’m not sure what to make of their new directions, so today’s column is me thinking out loud about the young adult-ing of Batgirl and Nightwing.

Let’s kick things off with Babs. In addition to getting a major costume overhaul, Batgirl is moving out of Gotham and into the trendy neighborhood of Burnside. If Gotham is the big city then Burnside is the Bat equivalent of Williamsburg or Park Slope. AV Club has a preview of the new Batgirl book and it reads like a superhero version of HBO’s Girls. Barbara has a new boy toy that she can’t remember hooking up with, she’s fetching obnoxious coffee drinks at a hip cafe, she has other young female characters to exchange banter with, and — oh yeah! — she still fights crime.

I’m going to give the book a fair chance, but it seems like a big step back for Batgirl. After getting shot and crippled by the Joker, Barbara became Oracle and served as central intelligence for many DC heroes. She was more powerful in a wheelchair than she ever was in spandex. The New 52 reboot mysteriously cured her paralysis, but made Batgirl a more kick-ass character than she was in the past. The tone of the upcoming Batgirl book seems more appropriate for Stephanie Brown than it does Barabara Gordon. My fear is that she’ll be portrayed as too much of a girly girl than the strong and capable hero she has been in the past.

Grayson 003 Batgirl

Then there’s Dick Grayson. The former Robin and Nightwing has been starring in a new book titled Grayson. Most of the world thinks he’s dead, so he — under Batman’s instructions — is infiltrating a covert organization in a James Bond-like role. And like James Bond, Dick Grayson gets a lot of action. The last two issues of Grayson were fun romps that contained a heavy amount of romance. Grayson: Future’s End #1 — one of my favorite books all year — was a love story sprinkled with action. Grayson #3 borrowed heavily from Bond and had Dick sleep with a woman early in the book, only to see her die later.

Nightwing has always been one of the biggest man-whores in comics, but the heavy emphasis on romance in Grayson is a bit strange. As many of you know, Nightwing is one of my favorite comic-book characters and I’m not sure what to make of his new book. It’s still early, but it feels like a step back. Yeah, I understand that DC Comics wants to experiment and try new things in order to get new readers. And yeah, I understand that Nightwing is the perfect character to experiment with — he’s known, but not iconic like Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, etc. Having said that, I wish Dick Grayson would drop the spy schtick and go back to being a proper superhero.

In both cases, DC Comics has the potential to broaden its audience with the young adult direction of Batgirl and Grayson. In one case, I’m not really digging it, but will keep reading because I’m such a Nightwing fanboy. In the other case, I worry that the new Batgirl book will make the character a joke. Again, I understand the need to experiment with characters and reinvent them. The young adult book and movie markets are tremendous, so it makes sense to try to use that approach with comics. I just wish DC used it on two characters that I didn’t like as much as Batgirl and Nightwing.


Welcome to Coffee Talk! Let’s start off the day by discussing whatever is on your (nerd chic) mind. Every morning I’ll kick off a discussion and I’m counting on you to participate in it. If you’re not feelin’ my topic, feel free to start a chat with your fellow readers and see where it takes you. Whether you’re talking about videogames, the NBA’s ridiculously lucrative new television deal, your favorite new SNL cast member, or Bill Murray singing Bob Dylan, Coffee Talk is the place to do it.