A Superman Video Game That Wouldn’t Suck

A few days ago, a member of the Toonzone Forums created a thread asking the question “Should Rocksteady make a Superman video game?”

“How about it, Rocksteady? Where’s my game? There are, like, 20 Batman games and only, like, 3 Superman games! What’s the deal? Do you have to wear a long pointy eared cowl and drive a cool car to star in a Rocksteady game?”

Without a doubt, the most common statement that I’ve heard from people saying why a Superman video game wouldn’t work is this one:
“The problem with Superman is that he’s almost invincible and all of the foes he would have to fight would need to be at boss-level since regular henchmen would be nearly useless against the man of steel.”
“Superman is boring and lame because he has a ton of super powers and he can beat anybody, but Batman is awesome because he has no powers and he can beat everybody!”
Sense no make. Sense no make.
Seriously? Superman boring and lame because he has powers? Son Goku (from Dragon Ball/Dragon Ball Z) is very similar to Superman in terms of powers and abilities, and yet I never hear anyone saying that Goku is too powerful to star in a video game. Heck, there are literally dozens of DBZ games out there currently. Samus Aran from Metroid has powers, but no one says that those games suffer because of that. Having super powers is part of what makes Superman cool. Come on! Supes can friggin’ fly! Flying is cool! That alone is reason why Rocksteady should make a Superman video game. Thus begins my proposal. I believe that a Superman video can work, and that Big Blue is capable of doing more than just flying through floating golden rings and beating up a tornado.
These “issues” with Superman are minor and could easily be dealt with with a certain degree of thought and creativity. For example, Superman can be hurt by someone in his strength class and is vulnerable to magic. The issue of Superman’s powers can easily be rectified in any one of the following ways:
1. Have Superman start out with only a limited amount of strength and powers, so that he would gain more abilities and become stronger as the game progresses.
2. Emphasize Superman’s other abilities besides fighting. Give Superman a series of missions, such as stopping a speeding locomotive from falling off of a damaged bridge or finding several bombs hidden in various parts of Metropolis or saving several citizens from an erupting volcano. Also, the missions could be timed so that Supes only has a limited amount of time to succeed in the missions or else he loses a life or something. Every level of the game doesn’t have to have Supes going a few rounds with a villain.
3. Have the game focus on a younger Superman who is relatively new to the super hero scene and as such, Clark’s powers wouldn’t be fully developed yet. Again, Supes’ strength could increase and he could gain more super powers as he progresses through the game.
4. Have Superman’s more devastating powers, such as heat vision and ice breath, reserved as special moves which can be used, but using them would lower his life bar, so the player won’t be able to just use them all of the time, and should mostly save them for extreme situations.
5. Give Superman a Super Meter, which would gradually build up whenever Supes punches or kicks an opponent. Once the Super Meter if full, Supes would be able to unleash a devastating super power, but the Super Meter would empty as he’s doing it. Also, Supes would have to start each new level with an empty Super Meter.

I’d play a game like that. How about you?

Bringing Action Back, Part 3: Some Possible Solutions

As you can guess by the title, this is a follow-up to “Bringing Action Back”.

By now we all know the situation: action cartoons are in a bad way right now. The recent 2-month hiatus of Beware the Batman (which has already been covered by Jason in “Beware the Backlash”) is just the latest blow to action toons. We’ve already been over why action cartoons are having such a tough time presently, but the question remains: what can be done to restore action cartoons to their former glory, aside from securing them a toy line? Here are some possible solutions:

1. Simplify the designs. One of the chief reasons that action cartoons take such a hard hit when they fail is because they’re more expensive to produce than comedy cartoons. Yeah, it’s great how so many action cartoons are drawn and animated in such amazing detail, from the more complex character designs to the intricate cityscapes, but let’s face it, that jazz costs a lot of money. One way to help make action cartoons gain profits is to make them cheaper to produce, and one way that can be done by avoiding realistic character designs. The less detailed and more cartoony the designs, the cheaper and easier the show is to animate. Every action cartoon doesn’t have to look like Princess Mononoke. No, I’m not suggesting that action cartoons should be reduced to fighting stick figures, but the less detailed the characters and designs are, the less expensive they are to produce. Shows such as Samurai Jack have proven that you can make a decent action toon with sparse, stylized designs and without having to draw and animate every wrinkle and pore on the faces and every drop of dew on every blade of grass.

“We’re just gonna paint a happy sun, and some happy grass, and some happy robot ninjas beating up a giant mutant scorpion…”

2. The networks that run action cartoons should promote and support them. On one of the message boards that I’m on, a fellow poster implied that actions should expand its’ viewer base towards a broader audience (in other words, adults) to keep the shows going. We’ve already gone over why most networks aren’t going to start gearing their action toons towards adults in parts 1 and 2, so no need to repeat that. Action cartoons don’t necessarily need to be marketed towards adults in order to secure them loyal viewers, all that really needs to happen is for their network to support them. Let’s use the recent Beware the Batman debacle as an example: it got next to zero promotion by Cartoon Network, and the few ads it did air began airing about a week before the show’s debut with no follow-up advertising afterward and were only shown during the hour when DC Nation was on. Really, when was the last time you saw an ad for a DC Nation show outside of the DC Nation block? Teen Titans GO! doesn’t count, because it gets to air its’ premiere episodes on a different night than the block and it gets encores throughout the week. Any good advertiser knows that you have to make the public want your product; how are kids going to want to see a show when the network it runs on barely talks about it? 

Why doesn’t CN promote the DC Nation shows? Run ads for them, give them at least 1 encore, ensure that they get to premiere alongside other premiere shows, since kids are more prone to stick around to watch a show when there are other new episodes airing before and after them to check out. If CN promoted their DC action toons half as much as the promotional blitzes they gave TTGO!, Uncle Grandpa and Steven Universe, then maybe the DC Nation shows wouldn’t be in the pickle they’re in right now. Say what you will about Disney, but they at least promote their shows, even the action cartoons, and given them plenty of encores. 
“Hey, Warner Bros. We own Marvel, and our superhero movies make money and don’t suck. So take a wild guess what YOU can suck! Ha-Ha!”
Don’t get cocky; you’re latest Marvel action cartoon offerings haven’t been that great, and last I heard, you were moving Marvel Universe to 8 AM on Sunday mornings, not a good sign. Moving on…
3. Make action cartoons more accessible to a mass audience, not just hardcore action fans.  Another reason action toons are having such a tough time right now is because many of them follow extensive and ongoing story arcs, which not only forces a newbie just coming in to them to play catch-up in order to keep from getting lost in the overall plot with but also shortens their lifespan in reruns, since only the most devoted fans are willing to revisit an arc once it’s over. Perhaps making more stand-alone stories is the way to go, since that way the episodes can be rerun in any given order without viewers feeling lost. I think that action cartoons should try to have more self contained stories rather than having so many season long story arcs, as self contained stories have greater replay value because the episodes don’t have to be shown in any particular order and ongoing sagas tend to not do well in reruns. Networks aren’t going to run these shows in a straight, linear, coherent order after their initial airings anyway. Back in the ancient 1980’s, plenty of the action cartoons from that era such as He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, G.I. Joe and even the 1987 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles did mostly stand-alone episodes, save for the occasional 2 or 3-parter. There’s no reason today’s action toons can’t do the same.
4. Schedule them at a time when people will actually be around to see them. Going back to Beware the Batman for a moment (geez, people are talking more about BtB now then when it was on the air), one reason that show failed to find an audience was because there weren’t any other premiere shows running alongside of it; Ben 10: Omniverse was already in reruns by the time BtB debuted, and the Teen Titans GO! episodes which air on DC Nation are just encores of the eps which premiere on Monday nights. It doesn’t take a genius to see that a single new first-run show isn’t going to get as many viewers when it’s sandwiched between 2 reruns, especially when the network running said show does next to squat to remind its’ viewer that the bloody show is even on. One reason the Hub’s Puppy/Pony/Pet combo works so well is because those shows usually air their premiere episodes at more or less the same time; a kid is more wont to stick around where there’s a good hour or 2 of premiere goodness in store for them. Which brings me to a point raised by Jason during a recent conversation, which I’ll quote here:

Why don’t cable/satellite channels run action cartoons on weekday afternoons anymore? Toonami in it’s hey day did well in the ratings on weekday afternoons for years. Miguzi (which was like a scaled down Toonami geared toward a slightly younger audience) wasn’t as successful as Toonami was, but the block at least did well enough to stay on for a couple of years. That formula worked once, why can’t it work again?

Yeah, how about it, CN? Really what else are you doing during that time? More encores? That joke of a block you laughingly call Cartoon Planet? Why not try running action toons on weekday afternoons to early evenings again? It couldn’t hurt to try.

5. Give the viewers some original ideas, characters and concepts. Yes, I understand that action cartoons are a risky and costly investment, and as such most networks prefer to play it safe with known properties, but that may be part of the problem. People might be getting sick of nonstop reboots of Batman, Spider-Man, the Transformers and the Avengers. Maybe it wouldn’t hurt to give them heroes, villains, premises and settings which they haven’t already seen 100 times already. I know you’d risk losing money on a new action idea if it tanks, but you’re losing money on the established properties right now, so what more harm could experimentation do?
-As always, we’re not saying that these ideas are guaranteed to work, but they’re at least ideas. They’re better than just continuing to let action toons languish, I think. It wouldn’t kill The Powers That Be to give 1 or 2 of these suggestions a try at least. After all, you can’t hope to succeed if you don’t dare to fail.

Fixing Hub Nights

As regular readers of this blog know by now, I’m not a huge fan of The Hub’s nighttime schedule, and would really like to see it revised. I’m not saying get rid of the 1980’s family sitcoms, especially since they seem to be working, I just don’t feel that The Hub should rely solely on 80’s family sitcoms for their PM lineup. I get that The Hub is a family network and all that good stuff, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but even to be family-friendly, Hub’s PM lineup is sorely lacking. Come on, people in the 80’s didn’t just watch domestic sitcoms and nothing else. Family-friendly doesn’t mean that The Hub can or should only run one genre of programming and no others, variety is the spice of life, and I as well as others would like to see something else on there at night.

Here’s my suggestion: keep the canceled family sitcoms (Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, Mork & Mindy,The Facts of Life, ALF, Who’s the Boss?, Step by Step, et al) running on The Hub (so don’t worry, retro fans, I’m not suggesting that the domcoms leave the channel; their fans can have them), but place them on a block, call it The 80’s Rock or Family Time or Kickin’ It Old School or Hangin’ with the Family or something similar. Said block would run weeknights from 7 PM to 10 PM. From 10 PM to 6 AM, The Hub could run a late-night adults’ block (I don’t have a name for it yet; let’s call it Hub Nights for now), similar to Adult Swim but less stoner-y and more politically correct, consisting of both reruns of other genres besides domestic comedies as well as some original programs, both made exclusively for the channel and acquired. Some examples of what to expect on this block:

  • Retro Action Shows: Sliders, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Lois & Clark, The A-Team, The Greatest American Hero, Riptide, Knight Rider, Baywatch, Baywatch Nights, The Powers of Matthew Star, RoboCop: The Series, Mutant X, Farscape, etc.
  • Retro Comedy/Sketch/Variety: Carol Burnett and Friends, The Best of Saturday Night Live, SCTV, Carson’s Comedy Classics, Fernwood/America 2-Night, The Red Green Show, The Muppet Show/MuppeTelevision/Muppets Tonight, etc.
  • Retro Camp Teencoms: The Monkees, Saved by the Bell, Parker Lewis Can’t Lose, Weird Science, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, etc.
  • Riff Shows: Mystery Science Theater 3000, Mad Movies with the LA Connection, On the Television, Cheap Seats, etc.
  • Hidden Camera Prank Shows: Candid Camera, TV’s Bloopers and Practical Jokes, etc.
  • Crimefighter/Superhero/Spy Spoofs: Batman (the 60’s Adam West version), Get Smart!, Police Squad!, The Tick, Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp, The New Adventures of Beans Baxter, etc.
  • Campy Retro Cartoons and Kids’ Shows: 1980’s Transformers, G.I. Joe, Fonz and the Happy Days Gang, Laverne & Shirley in the Army, Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, The Kids from C.A.P.E.R., Going Bananas!, Krofft shows such as H..R. Pufenstuf, The Bugaloos, Sigmund and the Sea Monsters, Land of the Lost, Far Out Space Nuts, Filmation shows such as The Ghost Busters, The Groovie Ghoulies, The New Adventures of Gilligan, Star Trek Animated, etc.
Toss in some original productions and you’ve got yourself a pretty decent late night block. None of these shows are too dark, edgy or provocative, so I could see them running on The Hub (licenses and ownership rights permitting, of course) without tarnishing their family-friendly image, especially since this block would air after 10 PM, and the family sitcoms are still around and air early enough for their fans to enjoy them without interference. I’d watch a block like this, how about you?

Justice League, The Movie, The Dream Casting

One reason why I’m pumped for the premiere of the new Superman movie Man of Steel on June 14th, aside from the fact that I’m a major Superman fan, is that if Man of Steel does well at the box office, then it will kick open the door for the long awaited and long speculated Justice League movie, which has been talked about as early as 2000 and it’s production has been pushed back until (???).


Many fans have different ideas about what the JL film should be like, who should be in it, what the plot will be, who the movie’s big-bad will be etc., and here at Twinsanity, it’s no exception. Since it’s going to be a little while before the JL movie comes out, I thought that I would share some of my choices for the casting of the JL movie. But first, a disclaimer:

The following is nothing more than my own choices and speculations. None of this is canon, nor is it a given that any of my choices will end up in the film. As far as I know, there isn’t even a written script for the movie as of this writing.

Now that that’s out of the way, on to the dream casting. To get the ball rolling, as it were, Let’s start with the lineup. As far as the team roster goes, I’m guessing that the JL movie will deal with the League first being formed, so then there will be about 6 or 7 main characters initially. There can’t and shouldn’t be a Justice League Army in the 1st movie. The Avengers‘ producers had a hard enough time trying to juggle screen time between 6 central characters (8 if one counts Loki and Nick Fury). Keep in mind that there’s only 90 minutes to 2 hours and you still need to have a story, an establishment of the main characters, a reason why they’re brought together and some sort of of conflict/crisis for them to resolve. To have to deal with all of those actors and egos and try to keep everyone’s parts equal would be a writing and directing nightmare, so the main group should be kept relatively small. I think that it’s a given that The Trinity will be featured in the film. No one wants to see a JL movie without Superman, Batman or Wonder Woman. No one. If people who’ve been waiting for over a decade to see a big budget movie about the Justice League and when it finally happened, what we got was this:

Fans would justifiably be ticked. If I have to wait 13 years for a Justice League movie, it had better not end up being about a bunch of “jobbers”. So yeah, you need Supes, Bats and Wondy. So that’s 3 slots taken right there.
It’s also likely that the movie will feature The Flash and a Green Lantern, who’ll most likely be Hal Jordan (but probably not one who’s played by Ryan Reynolds, who said that he’s not interested in reprising the role). The only reason to cast John Stewart over Hal Jordan would be for racial balance, but there other solutions to that, which I’ll address in a little bit. So anyway, that’s 2 more slots taken. Who else should be cast as part of the team?
Aquaman: I’m actually kind of iffy on this character’s inclusion, but the reason isn’t because I think that Aquaman is lame. Aquaman is NOT lame. The character was only shown as being impotent due to his being massively toned down on Hanna-Barbera’s Super Friends TV show, and that was over 30 years ago. It’s time to let that joke die once and for all. Aquaman is King of the Sea, and the Earth is 71% water, which would mean that Aquaman is King of 71% of the planet. Arthur is also half wizard, so it would be easy to give his abilities a little boost, such as giving the character some kick-ass hydrokinetic powers. No, the reason why I’d be reluctant to use Aquaman is because he has an entire undersea kingdom to rule over, so it would present a challenge to the movie’s writers to try have the main plot revolve around the ocean in order to accommodate him.
Black Canary: No. I have nothing against Dinah Drake, but in the wake of The Avengers, using her probably wouldn’t be a good idea, since people unfamiliar with the DC comics would likely just consider her to be a ripoff of Black Widow. If BC appears at all, it should be in one of the sequels.
Green Arrow: Again, no. I mean no offense to any fans of Ollie Queen, but here it is: I’ve never been down with the idea of Green Arrow and Batman being on the same team. The Justice League doesn’t need 2 rich guys with high tech toys in place of super powers. And again, fans unfamiliar with the comics would just see GA as a Hawkeye ripoff, so it’s probably best if GA sits this one out.
Hawkman and Hawkgirl/Hawkwoman: No. I have nothing against these characters, but since the movie isn’t going to be a continuation of the WBA cartoon, we’re not going to see Shayera romancing John Stewart, and I don’t want to see Hawkwoman in the movie without her husband Hawkman, so it’s best to just avoid using both characters, as this would just be excess baggage.
We still need an ethnic, as we don’t want the JL roster to be nothing but Caucasians. As I said earlier the GL featured will most likely be Hal Jordan, so no John Stewart, but there are other choices for non-white Justice League members:
  • Use Cyborg. In the most recent reboot of the DC universe, Victor Stone is one of the founding members of the League, so why not go with him?
  • Use Martian Manhunter. Yeah, I know that J’onn J’onzz is a Martian, and that in the DC universe, Martians are green, but they’re also shapeshifters, so then J’onn could just spend much of the movie in his morphed human alias John Jones. I envision Martian Manhunter as being a CGI creation while in his Martian form while being played by an actor while in human form. Make J’onn’s human form that of a black man and that’ll solve this problem.
  • Years ago, someone on the internet suggested that singer/actress Jennifer Hudson could play Wonder Woman. Now, I’d be perfectly OK with an African American Diana Prince. I know that some hardcore comic fans would have a nerd rage over such a decision, but I’ve read that an African American actor is being considered for the role of the Human Torch in the upcoming Fantastic Four reboot, so why not have a black Wonder Woman? Let’s briefly review Wondy’s origin, shall we: Diana is an Amazon from the far off island of Themescara. She was sculpted out of clay by her mother Hippolyta, the queen of the Amazons, and was magically brought to life by the Greek goddess Hera. Nowhere in that bio does it specify that Wondy has to be white, so if someone wants to cast a black actress as Wonder Woman, it’s perfectly OK with me.

No sidekicks: Sorry, fans, but if the JL movie is going to be about the formation of the League, teen sidekicks would just be in the way. No sidekicks should show up until at least the 2nd or 3rd movie in the franchise.

Here’s my ideal scheduling of the DC films leading up to Justice League:

  • Man of Steel
  • Wonder Woman
  • Man of Steel sequel
  • The Flash
  • Superman/Batman Team-Up
  • Justice League
Only thing is this would likely push the release of Justice League back to 2016 or 2017, but if the preceding movies were good, it would be worth the wait.
Finally, there’s the question of who the movie’s villain should be. Initially, I was going to suggest Darksied, but he’s kind of a big deal. You may not want to launch the JL film with the League going up against Darkseid. It might be better to lead up to him over 2 or 3 films. Instead, the 1st JL movie could have the League squaring off against someone like Starro the Conqueror of Dr. Destiny. Perhaps the villain should be Lex Luthor or the Joker, or perhaps the 2 of them forming a temporary alliance. Or possibly a team-up of Lex and Brainiac or something similar. Or perhaps an invasion of the White Martians. I know that I’ve mostly been suggesting Superman villains here, but that’s mainly because aside from the Joker or Ra’s Al Ghoul, most of the Batman villains are freaks and weirdos with a gimmick who’d get their butts handed to them by the Justice League. The movie would go much better if evil at least stood a chance.
OK, that’s enough geek rambling from me.

What’s WB to Do with H-B?

This is in response to a thread topic that was started on the Toon Zone General Animation Forum. I’ll have to post my response here, for now.

Why doesn’t Warner Bros reboot The Flintstones? The Flintstones is a timeless classic Hanna-Barbera series and is still iconic 50 years later. They still make Fruity Pebbles cereal and vitamins in the 2010’s. If they make the series as good as the original, and don’t do it to make cash off the characters, I don’t see the problem.

Well, Seth MacFarlane was going to produce a reboot of The Flintstones, but the project has been delayed until ????? since Seth had too much on his plate already. I’ve already elaborated on a hypothetical new Flintstones series last year with my article entitled “The All New Something, Something Whatever Show”, so there’s no need to repeat myself.
Honestly, one could pose this question about any Hanna Barbera franchise that isn’t Scooby Doo or Tom & Jerry. The Yogi Bear movie was supposed to be getting a sequel, but I haven’t heard any follow up to it. Likewise, I read somewhere that the producers of Yogi Bear the movie were planning to make a movie starring Huckleberry Hound, but again, I’ve since heard no follow up to that. There was supposed to be a live action Jetsons movie, but the last time that I’ve heard anything about that was years ago.
I can’t say that I’m the biggest H-B fan myself, though. One problem that I’ve always had with H-B is that whatever seemed to be a passable formula would be repeated several times. If one series was a success, then H-B would produce several other series that were just like it with only some slight differences. Just about every H-B cartoon franchise from the 1960s to the 2000s can be traced back to either Yogi Bear, The Flintstones or Scooby Doo.
The other thing that puzzles me about this post is the statement “If they (WBA) make the (Flintstones reboot series) as good as the original and don’t do it to make cash off of the characters, I don’t see the problem”; How is using the characters to shill breakfast cereals and children’s vitamins for over 3 decades not making cash off of them? I don’t get it.