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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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.

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

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
Die Hard wedding

Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
Die Hard restroom

Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
Die Hard thank you

Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines

Shopping

The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.

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Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.

Booger

A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.

Ogre

Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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