Ask the Bastards #1: The Birth of Nerd Bastards, Superhero Sidekicks, The Future of Batman and The Inevitable Prequels Question
Welcome to Ask the Bastards, a new weekly feature in which you, the readers, get to ask us, the staff of Nerd Bastards, all the questions you want on our favorite nerdy topics of interest. Why? Well, because we’re nerds, and we love to give lengthy explanations to things. We’ll be here every week sounding off on comics, TV, film, video games, toys, cosplay and everything in between. This week we’re kicking things off by tackling questions on hated comic book characters, Batgirl and Batwoman, Final Fantasy 7, the future of DC Comics on Film and just how Nerd Bastards was born.
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“Who started Nerdbastards? And how did you bastards come to work there?” – Gavin
Pulled the following response off our “about us page”. How’s that for lazy?
After a night of drunken escapades involving cheap hookers and cupcakes, the idea of Nerd Bastards was born. The hookers and cupcakes having nothing to do with the idea of course. Just coincidence. Truth be told, Nerdbastards.com was actually an idea that was long in the making. It all started when I grew tired of visiting countless niche news and entertainment sites. I wanted to spend more time looking at porn than surfing through numerous sites for the latest in geek culture (movies, TV, video games, comics, toys/collectibles…etc.) Offering trending, nerd news and other various nerdy bits was a product of necessity.
One Site to rule them all, One Site to find them, One Site to bring them all and in the darkness bind them. -Luke Gallagher.
Luke won me in a game of sabacc. – jeremy r! hudson
Sleeping with Luke has its advantages – Mrs. Nerd Bastards
I clicked on a pop up ad for a free IPAD. After completing the form, I discovered that I had sold my soul to NerdBastards. Writing articles and posting Facebook pictures are the only currency accepted to buy it back one small piece at a time. HEY, I’m still waiting on that IPAD Luke! – Mark Poynter
I was smuggled into the country from Mexico and started looking for work as a day laborer, but I had to settle for this gig. I’m not bitter. – Adam A. Donaldson
I volunteered. How sad is that? – Matthew Jackson
Wait, where am I? – Jason McAnelly
I ran my last site into the ground and then set my sights on this one…. muhahahaha - Jason Tabrys
“Should the next Batman movie be in the same universe as the one created by Nolan or should WB start fresh? Should JGL be the new Batman/Robin/Nightwing if they do?” – Marc
Wouldn’t it be interesting to see some of the Bat-related heroes come out to fill the void that Batman left? I would love to see JGL as Nightwing, perhaps because he isn’t sure he’s ready to assume the cowl of Batman and doesn’t want to tarnish the image until he feels ready. Throw a Batgirl in the mix, and with a school of orphaned boys living above the Batcave, one might expect a Robin character to emerge.I guess that means that yes, stay in the Nolan-verse. There are great stories to be told there. – Mark Poynter
I’m honestly of two minds about this. On the one hand, I would love to see JGL star in another tortured orphan tale and turn John Blake into Nightwing. I think he’d do it well, and I think with the right director it could launch an entirely new branch of a franchise which Warner Bros. kind of desperately needs at this point. On the other hand, one of the great things about Batman (or any other superhero) is that we get to see a constant stream of re-interpretation. I love the Nolanverse. Love it. But I miss the Batmobile, and some other things about the character that Nolan left out both for the sake of realism and for concentrating his own particular message. Because of that, I’m happy to move on, provided we don’t end up with another Schumacher. – Matthew Jackson
If they want to try to compete with Marvel, they’ll have to be able to keep continuity and connect all their films. That would mean a strong team film, like Justice League. That would mean rebooting Nolan’s world, since the way he ended it wouldn’t lend well to creating a team film. While I’d love to see JGL continue as a Batman contemporary (mostly cause I think he did such an awesome job in Dark Knight Rises), I don’t think WB would stick their neck out that far. – Jason McAnelly
“What is the point of having both a Batwoman AND a Batgirl, especially when they look alike and both suffer from not being Cassandra Cain?” – JanWell
What is the point of having not one, not two, not three, but FOUR Robins all still operating in DC’s New 52 universe, hmm?That’s my initial, angry, knee-jerk response. Here’s my more thoughtful one, which I think you deserve especially since I too commiserate at the loss of Cassandra Cain. Both Batgirl and Batwoman, while deriving their names from Batman, are not sidekicks. They’re allies in the same way as Green Arrow, Zatanna, Huntress, The Question, and even Superman. Barbara Gordon and Kate Kane found themselves with a desire to help and saw the Batman as their inspiration. So, in the same way Bruce Wayne took on the visage of a giant bat to strike fear into the criminals of Gotham, Gordon and Kane took on the symbol of what the underworld fears most, Batman. And, it should be noted, neither one sought Batman’s approval before donning their alter-egos.I think it’s clear I’m not touching on the original Bat-Woman and Bat-Girl from the 1950s. The reasoning for them is obvious, give female counterparts to Batman and Robin and people will stop assuming they’re gay. Of course, it makes the girl duo appear like the biggest beards in comic book history, but I digress.
The necessity of Batgirl and Batwoman is the same as the necessity of any number of super heroes. We, the readers, deserve to see ourselves represented in the comics we love. If that weren’t the case we’d all be content with the first handful of super heroes – y’know, all those straight, white guys – and that would be the end of it. Again, the loss of Cass Cain is disheartening for another reason because there were already so few Asian super heroes.
Kate Kane was dishonourably discharged from a U.S. Military Academy for her homosexuality. Still a soldier at heart, she becomes a vigilante in order to continue fighting and helping those she could. After encountering Batman one evening she’s inspired to become more, to be a symbol, and therefore takes on the mantle of Batwoman. She is also a symbol of her time, a lesbian needing to prove her worth as a soldier in defiance of her country’s military that discarded solely because of her sexual orientation. Some might see her as a hasty inclusion to diversify the DC universe, but that’s exactly why we do need her. Plus, have you read any Batwoman? I would highly suggest anything written by Greg Rucka as well as the current Batwoman title. She’s a badass.
Barbara Gordon became Batgirl on a lark. She was looking for something fun to do and crime-fighting seemed the perfect fit. High-spirited, brilliant, exceedingly agile and athletic, Babs was born to be a costumed vigilante. She donned the cowl in defiance of Batman and became a symbol of women’s liberation. Batgirl went on to become one of DC’s most popular heroes, surviving crisis after crisis, something even Supergirl couldn’t do. Babs as Batgirl is so popular that when DC decided it was time to revamp their universe she was returned to her original role, and became what the company keeps referring to as the “iconic” Batgirl.
But, like I mentioned earlier, I too am sad to no longer see Cass Cain operating the DCnU. And if you’ve read the recent news we may not be seeing her anytime soon. I’m still frustrated and confused as to why there is room for four Robins, but only one Batgirl. No matter how much I might enjoy Babs in tights again, losing Oracle was tough. Not only was Oracle a marvelous character, she was a inspiration to disabled persons, and she represented the often unseen progression and evolution of a comic book character. Without Cass Cain or Stephanie Brown the role of Batgirl has regressed. What was becoming a lineage of kick-ass, crime-fighting women has been reduced to the crusade of one, and the DC Universe is poorer for it. -Sarah Moran
I lament the loss of Cassandra, and of Stephanie Brown, but I’m actually a fan of both Batwoman and Batgirl in DC’s current continuity (though I miss Oracle like crazy). Gail Simone and J. H. Williams have created two very different books that set the characters apart even as they’re inevitably tied to one another. The practical reason for why we have both is that the Batman family of books is a perpetual moneymaker for DC, and until one or both of these characters get stale, I’m OK with that. – Matthew Jackson
“If you could side-kick for any superhero, which one would it be?” – Jason
The more I thought about this the greater my belief that I would rather “Hench” than “Sidekick” if given the opportunity. Sidekicks get the crap kicked out of them and often end up crippled or dead. The majority of Superheroes follow a “Don’t Kill” policy. For the most part henchmen just get a beating and are left alone/locked up after they give up. I’ll just fall over when ever a punch or kick gets close, then slip out with the stolen goods while they go after the Boss. What villain would I hench for? M.O.D.O.K. of course! – Mark Poynter
I’m a classicist, my dream sidekick job would be Robin. But not just any Robin, the Tim Drake Robin. The kid that was able to figure out Batman’s identity and volunteer himself for the role of Robin. When Drake first appeared in the Batman comics he was a little older than I was, so he was someone to look up to. He was the first Robin to wear the more modern costume, which was so much cooler than the previous costumes worn by Dick Grayson and Jason Todd. And Chuck Dixon and Tom Grummett’s run on the ongoing Robin series was some of the finest work ever done for a teen character in comics. Despite everything you think you know about Robin, this Robin was cool. -Adam A. Donaldson
Batman. Make all the gay jokes you want, but it’s always Batman. Anyone who regularly reads what I write here will know that. But just to make it interesting, I’ll also tell you my second choice. I’d also love to work with Iron Man, because you don’t have the pain-in-the-ass secret identity thing to worry about, and Tony Stark is perpetually surrounded by cool gadgets and awesome parties filled with hot women. Also, I’d have access to the Avengers’ gear, and I’d totally joyride the hell out of the Quinjet. - Matthew Jackson
Hands down, Iron Man. First, in order to keep up, you’d need a kick-ass suit of armor like his. So instantly you’d be cooler than most side-kicks. Second, he’s rich and knows how to party. Non-super hero life would be awesome. – Jason McAnelly
“Which is the most despised comic book character ever? Which is the most popular comic book character ever? How many Superheroes are there in comic books today, the grand total?” –Michael
There’s no actual answer to any of these questions but the last one, and I doubt anyone on Earth would be able to tell you a real figure, mostly because there are a number of characters who are on the fence depending on your particular definition of ”superhero.” There are hundreds, of course. A quick Wikipedia browse will tell you that. As far as who’s the most despised, that depends on which comic book nerd you ask on which day. Some would tell you Jason Todd (Robin II), others would say the X-Men villain Sugar Man, and others would say MODOK (Sorry, Mark). There are even some severely mentally ill people who claim to hate Batman (though that might be an urban legend). Most popular? Well, if you talk in terms of cultural ubiquity, it’s either Superman, Batman or Spider-Man. Superman’s been around the longest, Batman’s had the most movies, Spider-Man’s probably the most popular with kids. But again, it depends on who you ask. – Matthew Jackson
“Is The Big Bang Theory offensive to nerds?” – Andrew
It’s an interesting question, Andrew. I was of that very opinion in 2007 when The Big Bang Theory premiered. I gave it a couple of episodes and decided to dump the show because, as a nerd, I did not get lockjaw when talking to a girl, I did not obsess over the one pretty girl I was acquainted with purely by proximity, and I didn’t spend all my time with the same three people playing online games, talking about nerdy stuff and hanging out at the comic book shop. I had other interests, like politics. I play sports occasionally. I know more than one good looking woman. And so on.
But this past Easter I found myself bored and lethargic, so I watched a season 4 marathon of Big Bang on Canada’s Comedy Network, and to my surprise, I enjoyed it. So what happened? The characters, I think, have become less a caricature than in those first episodes. The fact of them being nerds is less connected to their social stunting, and they now seem just socially awkward people that happen to be nerds. They’ve grown more complex in other words, which is the inevitable result of competent writing over many TV seasons. Sheldon is a fussy, rigid, borderline malcontent constantly confounded by a world trying to make him change. Howard, the self-delusioned ladies man and self-hating momma’s boy, has become the first of the gang to achieve both exceptional career success (going to space) and settling down with a good woman (Bernadette). Leonard’s the dreamer, and the voice of reason; he’s the go-between for the group’s insular world and the “real world.” It still bothers me Raj’s stupid inability to talk to a woman, but at least they found an interesting (and hilarious) work around vis-à-vis liquid courage (AKA: alcohol). One of my favorite Big Bangs is when Howard and Raj have a falling out, so Raj hangs out at Penny’s but has to get blotto every night in order to cope.
I guess what I’m saying Andrew is that, in my opinion, you can enjoy The Big Bang Theory with out feeling like you’re betraying your nerd credentials. Enjoy it with my compliments. – Adam A. Donaldson
There are elements of the show that can certainly seem that way if you get the impression that it’s attempting to lump all nerds into one group, but as Adam pointed out, as the show has grown the characters have grown with it, and they’re actually rather distinct people. I never found it offensive because the point it always made, to me, was not just that incredibly smart people can be incredibly stupid when it comes to matters outside of their respective fields, but that they can grow and change and make their lives better (even Sheldon, though he is moving at a frustratingly slow pace). Also, I think it’s worth pointing out that though we’re all here talking about these matters, there is no real definition of “nerd.” We have similar interests, but none of us are carbon copies. Therefore I think the better question is “Is The Big Bang Theory offensive to YOU?” If it is, change the channel (Community‘s on around the same time, if that helps.). If not, sit back and enjoy the show. – Matthew Jackson
“Why is it that Warner/DC can only do good Batman movies?” – Nikolai
Thank you for this question. Really, it is always a thrill to open those wounds and shine a light on the rusted bucket of shit that was the Joel Schumacher Batman films. Have you seen them? All purple and garish and nipple-filled. Schumacher camped out, took comic book movies beyond what was or could ever be palatable to mainstream movie goers and nearly broke the Batman property. DC and Warner Bros. have the capacity for bad bad things, and without Chris Nolan to keep us safe, a storm may indeed be coming. -Jason Tabrys
Damn, it definitely seems that way lately, doesn’t it? But I don’t think it’s true in the long run. After all, long before they introduced Batman to the big screen they made a couple of very entertaining Superman flicks. Writing about the present state of Warner Brothers’ treatment of DC’s properties could take forever, but I think the first thing that’s worth noting is that DC seems to have very little real influence right now. It’s not like it is at Marvel. There’s no cohesive plan (that we know of), there’s no attempt to package everything into a tentpole. I don’t necessarily want Warners to do that, but a little cohesion would go a long way. At this point Warners is looking at their track record, and they’re seeing a monumentally successful (and redemptive) Batman franchise along with a Superman movie that fell flat (though I think Superman Returns is actually a solid film, it’s just not what we needed to kick off a new leg of a franchise) and a Green Lantern movie that seemed lazy and half-baked. They’re trying to find a way to jumpstart all this again, and at this point it looks like their hopes are resting on Zack Snyder. If Man of Steel hits (and I have mixed feelings about that trailer), they can leverage that into a new chapter in their cinematic history. If not, they have to start all over again. Right now it looks like the Christopher Nolan formula might be something they attempt to apply across the board, and that worries me. Nolan’s sensibility worked extremely well for Batman, but Superman isn’t supposed to be that dark or that raw. Neither, for me, is any other member of the Justice League. This is all just a really long way of saying that I think they actually can do more than just make good Batman movies, but they need to embrace the uniqueness of each character first. You know how Iron Man and Thor and Captain America were all really different movies, but they were all really solid? That’s what we need here. Embrace each property individually, find the right talent for them, then fit everything together. I know there’s a lot of pressure to rush out and copy Marvel, but they’re never going to hit that mark, so they shouldn’t try. The Harry Potter franchise was middling (creatively) by its fourth film, but then David Yates came on board and changed everything. Those movies were guaranteed moneymakers, but they still found a great filmmaker to shepherd them to more than just box office. Warners needs to be patient and find that spark again, then go for it. Stop thinking like a movie studio that needs a certain number of releases per year and starting thinking like storytellers, damn it. It’s not that hard, and if you have gaps to fill in your release schedule, apparently Peter Jackson is ready to make about 17 Hobbit movies for you. – Matthew Jackson
“Why the hell is Final Fantasy 7 just so damn good?” – Joe
Thanks Joe for a really sweet question, and being a huge gaming nerd I feel obliged to answer this one. With all the games I’ve played Final Fantasy 7 continues to be the one I manage to come back to and continue to enjoy at least once a year. It’s re-playability is almost endless. With various combinations of gameplay styles and strategies, you can have a different gaming experience every time you play. The story is deep and moving, making you feel for the characters you interact with. Final Fantasy 7 is unforgettable as not only a stand-alone game, but a standout title for the entire franchise.
And Final Fantasy 7 is one of the few games where you can say “Yeah, I cried when Aries died too” and not look like a giant baby. -Nick Bungay
“Why didn’t the Jedi keep any extra members hidden, to help rebuild the Jedi Temple and save the teachings after the balance to the force was achieved?” – Bayne
“So, Bayne, now you see that evil will always triumph because good is dumb.” Lord Helmet spelled it all out with that one line. – Mark Poynter
Yeah…we try not to get into extended discussions attempting to reconcile the logic of the prequels. It just inflates George Lucas’ ego. – Matthew Jackson
In my interpretation of the “first” three films, the Jedi didn’t figure that returning the balance was going to trash them. They had no need for extra precautions and what-not. Also, if you read the (many, many) novels in the Star Wars universe, survivors of the Jedi purge pop up every now and again. – Jason McAnelly