DID YOU READ

The top 5 Batman villains

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In The Dark Knight Rises, Batman faces an incredibly brutal villain named Bane, a behemoth well known to readers of the graphic novel. “He’s a big dude who’s incredibly clinical, in the fact that he has a result-based and -oriented fighting style,” actor Tom Hardy said of Bane, the character he plays, in Empire. “It’s not about fighting. It’s about carnage. The style is heavy-handed, heavy-footed; it’s nasty. Anything from small-joint manipulation to crushing skulls, crushing rib cages, stamping on shins and knees and necks and collarbones and snapping heads off and tearing his fists through chests, ripping out spinal columns. He is a terrorist in mentality as well as brutal action.”

We’re so there. But all this talk of bone-crunching got me to wondering about Batman’s enemies. Some, quite frankly, are ridiculous (Riddler?), unbecoming of the world’s greatest detective. Almost all of Batman’s villains from that campy 60s TV show – Egghead, King Tut – were jokes. But as the times have gone darker, so has Batman. Batman in the 21st century, within the context of our “War on Terror” is far darker than he has ever been, even in the gritty 70s. His enemies, clearly, have also shifted towards the darker end of the spectrum. Here are five of Batman’s greatest villains:


5. Zsasz

Gotham is an impossibly creepy urban zone, the dark mirror of any glistening metropolis. So the fictional “Gotham City” needs a Batman to patrol the night, mediating the Darwinian chaos. The Bat, who rules the night in Gotham, seems to attract a larger than average share of the planet’s psychopaths, each one creepier than the last. Serial killer Victor Zsasz is definitely one of the creepiest of Batman’s enemies.

Zsasz, who keeps a running tally of all of his victims in the form of self-inflicted knife scars all over his body, has a theory about the Batman. Being something of a connoisseur of all-things-predatory himself, Zsasz believes that Batman is a super-predator, a predator that preys only on other predators a la Dexter. Zsasz believes that there is only a thin line that separates Batman from criminals like himself, namely the sanction of the police and, of course, the choice of one’s “victims.” Bradley Cooper, with those reptilian eyes, would make an excellent “Zsasz (it is not too late!).”


4. Killer Croc

The luckless Waylon Jones has a taste for supple human flesh. He is one of the many cannibals inhabiting Gotham City. A skin mutation has left Waylon, a former gator wrestler, with a reptilian appearance as well as superhuman strength and a near bulletproof hide. Jones went mad early in life (can you blame him?), turning to criminal pursuits and the art of serial killing with a ferocious zeal. It is unfortunate that we will never see what Christopher Nolan makes of Killer Croc, who would work perfectly in a tentpole feature as a nocturnal sewer inhabiting man-reptile.


3. The Joker

Joker’s fictional body count is easily in the high five figures. Batman’s arch-enemy, the Clown Prince of Crime, has taken a terrible personal toll on Batman, killing – or so we thought, at least — the second Robin, Jason Todd, and crippling Batgirl, Barbara Gordon, in front of her father, Commissioner Gordon.

Heath Ledger’s portrayal of the Joker was as close to the comic book character as has ever been done. Heath represented anarchy, mindless violence, cruelty for the sake of cruelty, a real force in today’s world. It was once posited that the Joker might be some sort of biological mutation, a Darwinian glimpse into a possible future of mankind should he manage to thrive. Let’s hope not.


2. Ra’s Al Ghul

If the Joker represents mindless anarchy, Ra’s Al Ghul is cold, calculating efficiency. Because he is an immortal who has lived for thousands of generations with the alchemy of his Lazarus Pit, Ra’s Al Ghul – the Demon’s head – plans his capers years, sometimes decades, in advance. His plans usually involve mega deaths, the thinning of the world’s population in order to achieve some sort of self-perceived ecological balance. Ra’s is something of an eco-terrorist, a radical leftist zealot who has killed probably tens of thousands in pursuit of what he thinks is right. He is a rare treat for Batman readers, coming out from under the rocks every few years or so with another apocalyptic plan – only to be thwarted by the Bat. Al-Ghul is also internationally based, a global threat from outside of Gotham. It takes Batman and his allies all their skills to defeat al Ghul – and always only with the slimmest of margins.


1. Bane

Who else could be Batman’s top enemy? A single-minded superhuman military strategist weighing over 300 pounds – most of it in his neck and arms — Bane is one of the ferocious comic book villains of all time. Joel Schumacher’s mindless, semi-campy Bane was such a profound disappointment to batfans. Christopher Nolan, it would appear from the trailers, knows precisely what to do with Bane, portraying him as something of a military strategist on par with the Duke of Wellington and Alexander the Great. Bane is the only supervillain who defeated Batman cleanly, in Wayne Manor, breaking him – quite literally – over his knee during the Knightfall story arc. After wearing him out by freeing all of his twisted psychopathic enemies out of the dark Arkham Asylum, Bane stalked Batman, ultimately fighting a man at the end of his rope. Cracking Bruce Wayne’s back, Bane then took control of Gotham City.

Who are your favorite Batman villains? Comment below or on Facebook or Twitter.

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. 

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number! 

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time. 

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by. 

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo. 

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim. 

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t? 

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?” 

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud. 

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.

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Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.

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Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.

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Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!

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Inter-not

Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.

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Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.

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If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.