Back Issues: Spawn/Batman

BackIssues

I didn’t get to read a lot of comic books as a kid; growing up in the United Kingdom in the mid-nineties, it seemed my access to DC and Marvel Comics was far more restricted than it is these days, when comics are available in almost every corner shop or newsagent. Mostly, I read the odd graphic novel from the library or annual compilations picked up from car boot sales and the like. Nevertheless, I had a fondness for Bruce Wayne/Batman, Peter Parker/Spider-Man, and Clark Kent/Superman; these were the heroes I had the most exposure to growing up, which was lucky considering the movies and television shows these characters had around this time. As my exposure to more comics grew, however, I soon gravitated towards the likes of Eddie Brock/Venom, Frank Castle/The Punisher, and Doctor Bruce Banner/The Hulk, skewing my preference towards the more violent and aggressive comic heroes. In the nineties, there was no superhero that embodied violence, aggression, or edgy angst more than Todd McFarlane’s Spawn. Initially an assassin for a covert arm of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Al Simmons was betrayed by his commander, Jason Wynn, and murdered as part of a pact between Wynn and the ruler of the Eighth Circle of Hell, Malebolgia.

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McFarlane included some cheeky cameos in early Spawn titles.

Simmons returned to the world of the living five years later, with few of his memories, decked out in a living, symbiotic costume and wielding tremendous (if finite) hell powers as Spawn. Constantly plagued by Malebolgia’s chief lieutenant, the Violator (who generally assumed the form of the disgusting Clown), Spawn was torn between wanting to reconnect to his previous life (specifically his wife), rejecting his apparent destiny as the general of Hell’s armies, and using his abilities to protect those in need. Few superheroes had the impact that Spawn had upon his debut; after breaking away from Marvel with a bunch of talented writers and artists, McFarlane founded Image Comics and spearheaded his new company with Spawn. Issue one sold over a million copies and Spawn’s place as a cultural icon has since been secured thanks to a fantastic animated series, an…okay live-action movie, a bunch of surprisingly decent videogames, and a whole host of fantastically-detailed toys and merchandise. While Spawn may not be as prominent a figure in the world of comics as he once was, his impact certainly changed the way the industry viewed independent publications. So great was Spawn’s popularity that he featured in a number crossovers; initially, this was restricted simply to Spawn appearing alongside other Image characters, or other independent characters popping up in Spawn comics, but, after some cheeky, barely legal cameos from some famous faces in issue ten, Spawn officially teamed up with Batman in 1994 for a couple of crossover specials.

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Spawn/Batman saw artist Todd McFarlane join forces with celebrated Batman writer Frank Miller. Being that this was 1994, Miller was still riding high off genre-changing titles like The Dark Knight Returns (Miller, et al, 1986) and Batman: Year One (ibid, 1987) and knee deep into his Sin City (ibid, 1991 to 2000) series. Yet, the signs of Miller’s degradation into self-parody and absurdity still managed to crop up in this one-shot title; while it’s nowhere near as bad as what we got in The Dark Knight Strikes Again (ibid, 2002) or All-Star Batman & Robin, The Boy Wonder (ibid, 2005 to 2008), Miller’s writing and characterisation of Batman is noticeably lacking and questionable, especially compared to what we saw in The Dark Knight Returns or Year One.

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In this story, Batman and Spawn co-exist on the same world.

But we’re jumping ahead a bit. Spawn/Batman is one of those crossovers that, rather than having the DC and Image characters exist in separate universes, acts as though they all co-exist in the same world at the same time. Honestly, I always prefer it when crossovers are handled this way as, while it can be difficult to believe that Superman, Spider-Man, X-Men, and the Teen Titans all co-exist but we never hear about it until they cross paths every once in a blue moon, it’s a lot less messy than dreaming up another reality-shattering Crisis or out of place dimension shift. The story opens with Batman (described as “Protector. Avenger. Detective. Champion”) busting up some thugs transporting high-tech weapons and getting into a throwdown with a massive robot. Slipping on a robotic gauntlet that fills him with superhuman strength, Batman is able to tear the robot apart…only to find that it is a cyborg that is powered by a still-living severed head.

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Alfred’s wit is as dry as ever.

Back at the Batcave, he examines the head while his loyal butler and father-figure, Alfred Pennyworth, tries in vain to patch up his injuries and recommend some tea, rest, and relaxation. After running the head’s dental records through the Batcomputer, Batman discovers it belonged to a homeless vagrant from New York City. Batman heads there immediately (and, as you might expect, is immediately reminded of the night his parents were murdered…) and, as he stalks the alleyways and dark corners of the city, overhears “legends” of a bum named Al with magic powers, which he dismisses as “nonsense”. I find this a little out of character for Batman, who rubs shoulders with Atlanteans, Amazons, and aliens on a regular basis and has a long-standing friendship with an actual magician but who am I to question the legendary Frank Miller?

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Batman drastically underestimates Spawn in their first encounter.

Anyway, this leads to a natural segue into Spawn’s introduction to the story. Spawn’s not happy (but then again when is he ever?) because a lot of his friends have suddenly gone missing; after returning from the dead, Spawn found a home amongst the bums of New York City and made it his mission to protect them. This mission (which was more of an obsession, in many ways) leads to him mercilessly burning alive a couple of thugs who want to set alight a sleeping bum. Although this is perfectly in keeping with Spawn’s brand of justice, it catches the attention of Batman who, none-too-pleased with what he sees as cold-blooded murder, leaps in to attack without a second’s hesitation. However, Batman’s confidence (more of an aggravating arrogance under Miller’s pen…) is misplaced against Spawn, who is tough enough to take everything Batman can dish out and repay it in kind without mercy.

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Spawn’s past returns to haunt him…again…

With Batman having made a strategic retreat, Spawn is free to continue his investigation and soon runs into another of the cyborgs that messed up Batman at the start of the story. Spawn is horrified to find that the cyborg was powered by the severed head of a bum he knows, Chuck, and is further disgusted to discover that the cyborgs are the product of Margaret Love, an old acquaintance of his from his days as an assassin. Love fuels Batman’s newfound obsessive vendetta against Spawn and, armed with the robotic gauntlet he picked up in the opening panels, Batman soon engages with Spawn once again. This time, the fight is a bit more even but it suffers from some really out of character “trash talking” from Batman, who criticises Spawn’s lack of discipline and sloppiness as a fighter.

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Batman is killed, forcing Spawn to save his life.

After beating each other senseless, the two are easy pickings for another of Love’s cyborgs, which mortally wounds Batman. Though tempted to leave him to die, Spawn ultimately opts to expend his limited Hell power to obliterate the cyborg and then save Batman’s life. Spawn also uses this opportunity to telepathically communicate with Batman in a bid to find some common ground. You know it’s bad when Spawn, of all people, is trying to be the bigger man and the voice of reason; his efforts are met with extreme resistance by Batman (who calls Spawn a “twit”) but, after being shown what Love is capable of, Bats begrudgingly agrees to postpone his vendetta against Spawn to put a stop of Love’s experiments. Luckily, Love is hosting a fancy fund-raiser on a luxury cruise liner to help raise funds and interests for her almost hypnotic campaign to “heal the world” with a nuclear arsenal capable of destroying the world ten times over.

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Batman takes any excuse to criticise Spawn.

Still in telepathic contact (much to Batman’s chagrin which, again, I find odd considering the Martian Manhunter often enables the Justice League to communicate in very much the same way…), Batman and Spawn crash the party and wreck Love’s cyborgs. The entire time, all Batman does is criticise Spawn for being a “blunt instrument” (even getting a very Miller-esque dig in at Superman while he’s at it) and lacking any finesse…which runs a little contrary to Spawn’s military training and seems to be present only to artificially extend the gulf between their methods when it was sufficient enough to focus on Batman as a practical, mortal man doing the best he can and Spawn as a violent, magic-infused undead man-monster.

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I’m pretty sure Batman would have an answer…

Speaking of which, Batman is unable to come up with a viable reason to spare Love’s life. Again, this is very out of character for Batman who surely would not hesitate to come up with a reason to spare a life; this is the same man who has spared the Joker time and time again but, when it comes to Love, he “has no answer” and does nothing to save her from being skewered. With her dying breath, though, Love launches a nuclear missile directly into the center of New York City, forcing Spawn to further expend his finite magic to teleport himself and Batman to the missile so they can disarm it. Miller gushes over Batman’s genius, his mind, his skilled hands, as he uses his unparalleled abilities to disarm the weapon without any assistance or input from Spawn. Instead, Batman ignores Spawn’s knowledge of the missile and is more concerned with the fact that Spawn dared to touch his cape!

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Batman sure made an impression on Spawn…

With the threat ended, Batman takes his final moments to berate everything about Spawn: his motives, his discipline, his moral compass. Literally everything. He vows to one day find the means and power to put an end to Spawn for good but Spawn, again acting massively out of character, instead pleas for Batman to recognise all the good they did together and asks that they bury the hatchet. Batman responds by lobbing a Batarang right into Spawn’s face, which would leave a wound that Spawn would, eventually, seal up with a shoe lace rather than waste his precious magic.

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McFarlane’s art is the highlight of the story.

If there’s one thing that Spawn/Batman has going for it, it’s Todd McFarlane’s absolutely gorgeous artwork. McFarlane is truly without peer in the comic’s world and he doesn’t get enough praise for his distinctive art style. Spawn is featured in his original, far more heroic and less complicated costume in this story as it takes place not long after his debut; while I prefer his later tattered look, McFarlane obviously makes his signature character look great whenever he puts pen to paper. Similarly, his Batman is a dark, gritty avenger constantly swamped in deep shadow, with pointed tips to his cape and often appearing more as a wraith-like silhouette than a man. The story is full of violent action as the two exchange blows on more than one occasion but what really lets this down is Miller’s writing. His narration is repetitive and almost embarrassing to read at times; it’s clear that Miller is only interested in praising Batman as the be-all and end-all of superheroes as the narrative boxes (and Batman’s “dialogue”) are all geared towards explicitly stated how amazing and well-disciplined and unbeatable Batman is even as he’s bleeding to death at Spawn’s feet.

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Are they meant to sound like squabbling kids? Is that the point?

Spawn, for the most part, reads quite well but his characterisation falls off a cliff during the rematch between the two, where both characters simply sound like children having a punch up. Maybe that is the point? Maybe Miller is making some kind of commentary on childish “tradition” of superheroes always fighting each other before teaming up and I could appreciate that…if it didn’t come at the detriment of both characters, who just come off as foolish. Batman should be smarter than that, for one thing; you would think that Miller, of all people, would know that too, especially given the lengths Batman went to battle Superman in Miller’s seminal work. Instead, Batman slips on a robotic gauntlet and thinks that’ll be enough to stop a guy who can literally reassemble himself with his magic. Batman then spends the remainder of the story chastising Spawn at every opportunity despite the fact that, without Spawn’s help and his powers, they would both have died.

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Batman’s characterisation is grating, to say the least.

I get that Miller’s Batman is this gritty, unrepentant hard-ass who doesn’t need help from anybody but this emphasis on him being some ultra-disciplined “soldier” who knows better than anyone else just comes across as supremely arrogant. Again, maybe that’s the point, but it’s an extreme, ill-fitting characterisation of Batman I don’t like at the best of times, to say nothing of when he’s teaming with an actual soldier! Given how protective Todd McFarlane is of Spawn as a brand and a character, it seems weird to me that Miller was given such free reign to, effectively, bury Spawn every chance he got in this story. Sure, it’s probably to make explicit the differences between the two but I think that could have been handled better with about forty percent less “stupid punk!” being sent Spawn’s way.

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This wouldn’t be the last time these two crossed paths.

Nevertheless, Spawn/Batman is a pretty decent read, mainly for the artwork and for the thrill of seeing Spawn side-by-side with Batman. This wouldn’t be the last time these two teamed up either, as DC and Image released Batman-Spawn: War Devil (Moench, et al, 1994) that same year; while that’s a slightly more cohesively-written tale, its artwork is nowhere near as good as in Spawn/Batman. These crossovers were even referenced in Mortal Kombat 11 (NetherRealm Studios, 2019), in which Spawn appears as a playable guest character, though, since Image Comics isn’t quite the trend-setting powerhouse it used to be, I wouldn’t expect to see these two teaming up again any time soon.

My Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Great Stuff

What did you think of Spawn/Batman? Were you a big fan of Spawn’s or did you, perhaps, find him over-rated? What are your thoughts on Frank Miller, specifically his Batman? Which comic book crossover is your favourite, or which characters would you like to see cross paths and butt heads? Whatever you think, good or bad, drop a comment below.

Game Corner: Mortal Kombat 11 Guest Characters

GameCorner
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I’m a bit late with this but NetherRealm Studios’ Mortal Kombat 11 will be coming later this year and, as with every Mortal Kombat, fans have immediately started asking several questions: What characters will be returning? What new characters will be included? What will the story be? What new, or returning, gameplay mechanics can we expect? Just how brutal will the Fatalities be?

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Guest fighters are now commonplace in Mortal Kombat titles.

And, of course, the question of guest characters. After the inclusion of Freddy Krueger in Mortal Kombat (ibid, 2011), Mortal Kombat X (ibid, 2015) featured four guest characters from outside the franchise: Jason Voorhees, Leatherface, Alien, and Predator. This may have been a bit of overkill; I would argue that it would have been enough to just have Alien and Predator and that the other two DLC spots could have gone to some classic Mortal Kombat characters but it does set a tone for what we can potentially expect from Mortal Kombat 11.

The question of guest characters has been brought up to me in conversations about the videogame so I figured I would talk about a couple of characters I’d really like to see turn up as DLC in Mortal Kombat 11.

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Pennywise would be my first choice.

The first is Bob Gray, better known as Pennywise the Dancing Clown, the eponymous “It” from Stephen King’s classic 1986 novel. Honestly, I would argue that it’s extremely likely that we could see Pennywise in Mortal Kombat 11 as NetherRealm Studios is a subsidiary of Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, which is itself a subsidiary of Warner Bros., the studio behind It: Chapter One (Muschietti, 2017), It: Chapter Two (ibid, 2019), and Stephen King’s It (Wallace, 1990). As a result, the rights shouldn’t be any more of an issue than they were to get Freddy or Jason into the game. While it’d be nice to bring in Bill Skarsgård to voice the character, NetherRealm Studios would most likely do what they did with Freddy and simply have It chuckle, roar, and growl as It attacks. Given that Mortal Kombat 11 is set to bring back character variations, which allows each character to have three slightly different playstyles, each one associated with a different costume, I would hope to see NetherRealm Studios continue what they did with Leatherface when it comes to Pennywise’s variants.

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Seeing It’s different looks would be an essential inclusion.

Each of Leatherface’s variants was modelled on a different outfit from one of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre (various, 1974-2017) movies. Since DLC characters tend not to have the same amount of additional costumes as regular fighters, I’d do the same for Pennywise; have one variation be modelled after Pennywise’s 2017 look, one after his 1990 look, and one more closer to his depiction in the books (a shiny, silver suit with big orange pompoms and a bow tie, as illustrated above by Mikael Quites).

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Make use of Pennywise’s warped sense of humour.

Next, for Pennywise’s general moveset and depiction, I see Pennywise as a very grounded all-rounder. It would have an average jump height, speed, and recovery and could clash at opponents with claws, fangs, and tentacles. I would look back to what NetherRealm Studios did with Shang Tsung in Mortal Kombat and the Joker in their Injustice titles (NetherRealm Studios, 2013; 2017), specifically in Injustice 2, where the Joker was depicted as a nightmarish clown. Just imagine seeing Pennywise morph through some different forms or holding a balloon (or a bunch of balloons) in front of Its face while taunting Its opponent, perhaps while munching on a child’s arm. Pennywise’s special moves could be as varied as you want; I remember being really disappointed with how limited, boring, and weak Freddy’s special moves were in Mortal Kombat and NetherRealm Studios really made up for this with Mortal Kombat X’s guest characters.

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Mesmerise a foe or just chew on their flesh!

Pennywise could warp from one side of the screen to another in a cloud of orange smoke or a burst of orange light, stun or screw up an opponent’s controls with a Deadlight Gaze similar to Quan Chi’s Trance from MKX, and chomp away at the opponent’s face and neck with those big old vampire teeth like Mileena’s Pounce from MKX or Reptile’s Fatality from Mortal Kombat 4 (Midway Games, 1997).

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Let’s get those spider legs in there!

I’d also like to see Pennywise dart towards the opponent with spider legs like in the 2017 movie and similar to D’Vorah’s attacks, maybe summon a bunch of drowned dead kids to hold the opponent in place, and grab the opponent whilst spewing toxic bile over them in Its Leper form. I would avoid using balloons in any of Pennywise’s moves and save them for the intro and outro animations but I guess It could use them as explosive traps to propel the opponent into the air.

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As for the X-Ray moves, I’d like to see Pennywise morph into a gruesome variant of the Frankenstein Monster and the Mummy and perform a move similar to Jason’s Back Breaker/Tight Squeeze and have It crush the ribcage of the opponent, and use those razor-sharp fangs to crush the opponent’s shoulder blade.

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You can’t have Pennywise and not do the Spider…right?

For Pennywise’s Fatalities, you have to go back to the Spider-It; take inspiration from the 1990 version, yes, but I would also either incorporate anything used in It: Chapter Two (if this form even appears) and both the Alien’s Killer Queen Fatality and Scorpion’s transformation from Mortal Kombat 4. Have Pennywise contort and twist into a giant, crazed spider; have It impale the opponent through the chest/stomach, tear their upper body off, and then drop their still screaming form into its salivating jaws.

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The Deadlights could melt foes to their bones!

It’s other Fatality could be based on the depiction of the Deadlights in It: Chapter One; have Pennywise grab the opponent and Its head split open, mesmerising the opponent so they float up to the Deadlights that then melt the flesh off their bones similar to Nightwolf’s Ascension Fatality from Mortal Kombat.

Brutalities are generally quite standard but you could have Pennywise rip the opponent’s head or limbs off and start gnawing away, slice the opponent’s legs off at the knees with Its spider legs, maybe toss a balloon at the opponent’s face that explodes in a burst of Deadlights and has the opponent’s head explode.

As for Pennywise’s story and ending…well, these are never that strong or defined for Mortal Kombat’s DLC fighters; Pennywise’s status as a transdimensional being means that It could easily be sucked into the Mortal Kombat universe and want to compete for chance to dine on new fears and new flesh. Its ending would simply be to accumulate the power necessary to spread Itself over the multiverse and feast for all eternity, or perhaps even eat Itself to death, or, maybe, some kind of hint towards King’s interconnected multiverse.

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I’ll take Spawn any time!

The other guest character I think is perfectly suited to Mortal Kombat is, of course, Spawn. If he hadn’t already appeared in Injustice 2, I would have also suggested Hellboy but Spawn also has a high probability of appearing as Todd McFarlane, the character’s creator, has all-but-guaranteed that his violent anti-hero will make the cut later this year.

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Spawn’s no stranger to being a guest fighter.

While McFarlane is known for blowing a lot of smoke when it comes to his most popular creation, it cannot be denied that Spawn would be a great fit for Mortal Kombat; Spawn was also previously a guest fighter in the Xbox version of SoulCalibur II (Project Soul/Namco, 2002) so a lot of his moveset could be drawn from that title. His story would also be just as simple as him being transported across dimensions and fighting to get back home, though I’d have his ending be suitably dire and angst-ridden, like he ends up displacing Malebolgia and becoming an evil despot intent on conquering the multiverse.

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Safe to say that Spawn’s look has changed a lot over the years.

Spawn also has a few distinctive looks that could be used for his variations; the classic Spawn look is a must, as is his tattered-and-torn look, and maybe Medieval Spawn, Angel Spawn, the Redeemer, or some other look could be incorporated into his last variant. Spawn could emerge through a hellfire portal like Freddy, or simply teleport himself in a burst of Necroplasm, and you could even bring in the legendary Keith David to reprise his much-lauded role as the character’s voice artist.

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Spawn’s brute strength and magic could pummel foes.

Spawn is a great opportunity to carry over some of the superhero-stylings of Injustice 2 thanks to his vast and varied moveset; Spawn could do variants of Superman’s Flying Punch, Lockdown Launch, and/or Rising Grab while teleporting in a manner similar to Scorpion, use his cape to float over the battlefield and launch himself down at opponents, and blast out energy bolts or beams (similar to Doctor Fate) that could set the opponent on fire.

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Go back to Kratos for an idea of Spawn’s moveset.

Spawn also has the added bonus of being well-known for his cape and chains; he could incorporate a Cape Parry similar to Batman’s, or wrap his opponents up in it like Sindel used to with her hair, and whip his chains around in a flurry like Takeda in MKX, Kratos in Mortal Kombat, and Scarecrow in Injustice 2. Spawn is also known for using heavy-duty firearms so could bust out a machine gun or rocket launcher like Jax did in MKX, or these could possibly be saved for his grabs and throws.

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Spawn should definately send his foes to Hell!

For his X-Rays, Spawn could grab his opponent’s head in both hands and crush their skull, or use his chains to draw them in close and snap their joints. I did have an idea for one Fatality that, similar to the Killer Queen, would see Spawn summon Malebolgia but, rather than repeat myself, I think it might be better to do something like the stage transition from Injustice: Gods Among Us and Cyborg’s Super Move from Injustice 2, which sees the opponent launched to Apokolips and assaulted by Darkseid and Parademons, respectively, only replace Apokolips with hell similar to that seen in Scorpion’s Fatalities/outros and Darkseid and the Parademons with Malebolgia, the Violator, and other Hellspawn.

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Spawn’s powers would allow for some gruesome Fatalities.

As for his second Fatality, Spawn could wrap his cape around the opponent’s head and suffocate them, or crush it, but that’s a bit lame; perhaps something similar to Reptile’s Weight Loss Fatality from Mortal Kombat or Scorpion’s Super Move from Injustice: Gods Among Us would be better and a good way to reincorporate some brutal moves previously used by other characters in other games. I’d also look back to Kratos, Takeda, maybe even Kabal for inspiration for Spawn’s Brutalities, which could be anything from detonating a grenade or energy blast in an opponent’s mouth to tearing their limbs off with his chains.

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Scorpion is eager for some fresh faces to set on fire!

In the end, Mortal Kombat 11 is sure to have its fair share of guest characters; for me, drawing from horror movies and violent superheroes/comics is a great starting point as certain characters just fit the franchise. NetherRealm Studios might seek to incorporate faces more familiar to their franchise, which I wouldn’t be adverse to (I’m looking at you, Rain!), or to other franchises (perhaps Chucky or Michael Myers, maybe even someone really obscure like Pumpkinhead!) but, for me, using Pennywise makes sense as It is a natural inclusion, is basically owned by the studio already, and has a big movie coming out this year so it all ties together as a marketing move, and Spawn is as natural an inclusion as someone like Hellboy or Kratos. You’d be hard pressed to find a more violent anti-hero, who still retains a lot of the popularity he had in the mid-nineties, without alienating the kids who might force their parents to buy them this super-gory game just because Batman has been included.

Time will tell who will make the cut but let me know in the comments what you think of these picks, who you would like to see show up, and your opinion of guest characters and Mortal Kombat in general.

10 FTW: Films That Need Remakes

10FTW

It seems blasphemous to say it but, sometimes, films do deserve a modern remake. The stigma that remakes are “bad” or “unnecessary” is one that I have already contested before, as some of the best films in cinema history are actually remakes. However, whether because they haven’t aged too well, or sequels ruined the original concept or expanded upon it in ways that actually affect the original negatively, or there is the potential that some films could just be done better, I put it to you that there are some movies that totally are in need of a remake and here are just some of them.

10 X-Men

I’ve already discussed, at length, my ideas for the surely-inevitable X-Men reboot that will come once Marvel Studios decides to integrate Mutants into the Marvel Cinematic Universe but it needs repeating here: the X-Men franchise is a mess! 20th Century Fox could have rebooted the franchise with X-Men: First Class (Vaughn, 2011) but, instead, they chose to produce a sloppy mish-mash of sequel, reboot, and retcon because God forbid that they lose the revenue produced every time Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine pops his claws. Similarly, X-Men: Days of Future Past (Singer, 2014) could have straightened things out using time travel but that clearly was asking too much; the focus was on powering through with a nonsensical, confusing timeline, not on any sense of continuity or logic. Therefore, X-Men really needs to have the plug pulled and a whole new retelling to help bring some kind of order and logic to one of Marvel’s biggest and most profitable franchises.

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9 Street Fighter

What’s that, you say? “Street Fighter already had a reboot; Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li (Bartkowiak, 2009)!” Really? You’re happy for that atrocity to stand as your Street Fighter adaptation? Jeez, at least Street Fighter (de Souza, 1994) was fun; dumb, yes, but fun. The only things Legend of Chun-Li had going for it were higher production values, Robin Shou, and the use of chi; literally everything else was a slap in the face to any fan of the videogames or action movies in general. Now, you might also be wondering why I didn’t pick Mortal Kombat (Anderson, 1995) and the answer is simple: it is a fantastic film; fun, witty, with some great fight scenes and decent effects. Street Fighter, however, is still waiting for a halfway decent adaptation; go old-school with it, make it a gritty, Kickboxer (DiSalle and Worth, 1989)/Bloodsport (Arnold, 1988)-style action movie; maybe throw in some inspiration from Warrior (O’Connor, 2011). In today’s climate, where MMA and UFC are mainstream and popular, Street Fighter has the potential to be a pretty solid action film if handled correctly.

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8 The Mask

Our first remake where my overriding advice is simple: “Go back to the source material!” Don’t get me wrong, I love The Mask (Russell, 1994); it’s a great vehicle for Jim Carrey’s talents and looks fantastic as a live-action cartoon but it’s not really a great adaptation of Mike Richardson’s original comic book. In the comics, “Big-Head” was a complete and utter psychopath and the titular Mask was anything but a force for wacky comedy. Therefore, rather than simply trying to ape Carrey’s performance, do a complete 1800 and make a super-stylised, hyper-violent action/horror movie. Honestly, given how successful Deadpool (Miller, 2016) and its sequel were, I am surprised that we haven’t heard rumblings of a new Mask movie as it’s basically the same premise but even more over the top, if you can believe that!

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7 Resident Evil

Easily the most inevitable of all of these films given recent news that a director has already been picked, I once again would advise revisiting the source material this time around (or, you know, actually bother to look at the source material at all) as the movies churned out by Paul W. S. Anderson have little to no resemblance to Capcom’s survival-horror series. Seriously, stop trying to copy Aliens (Cameron, 1986) and concentrate on making a dark (literally and figuratively), tense, atmospheric movie where two characters have to survival against some gory, fucked up zombies and gristly, practically-created (CGI just for enhancement, please!) monsters. It’s a bad sign when Doom (Bartkowiak, 2005) is a better Resident Evil movie than any of the actual Resident Evil movies so, come on, bring back the splatter-gore zombies movies of old and make a real Resident Evil adaptation for once!

(Side note: I actually love Doom. Fight me).

6 The Crow

Here’s one that’s been in and out of development hell for decades now; we have come so close to getting a new Crow movie so many times, with names like Bradley Cooper and Jason Mamoa both attached at one point, only to have it snatched away at the last second. Honestly, I am fine with this as The Crow (Proyas, 1994) remains one of the most haunting and beautiful movies (and adaptations) of all time. However, while I am in no hurry to see a remake, if we do ever get one I again urge those behind it to look a little closer at James O’Barr’s original 1989 comic book, if only to differentiate the new film from the original. Go for a moody, stylised, neo-noir piece, taking inspiration from Sin City (Miller and Rodriguez, 2005), and craft a dark, sombre film that has little to do with heroism and more to do with cold, uncompromising vengeance.

5LXG
5 The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

Ah, yes, the film that notoriously caused Sean Connery to retire from Hollywood altogether. Again, I am actually a bit of a fan of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (Norrington, 2003); it’s not perfect but I liked seeing all these literary characters come together and the steampunk aesthetic of the movie. However, I would not be against Hollywood giving this one another go as it could definitely be done better. Keep the steampunk aesthetic but really emphasise the gritty, world-weary nature of these characters; you’re bringing together some of the most beloved, nuanced, and interesting fictional characters ever created so don’t belittle them with goofy antics. Go back to Alan Moore’s comic books, maybe take some inspiration from the second volume in which Moore has the League participate in the War of the Worlds (Wells, 1897) and for God’s sake do not promote the movie as “LXG”!

4 Fantastic Four

Another pick that is surely inevitable given Disney’s purchase of 20th Century Fox, I could go into a lot of detail about how the first family of Marvel Comics should be introduced into the Marvel Cinematic Universe (and hey, maybe I still will!) but, suffice it to say, the Fantastic Four really need a movie deserving of their longevity and popularity. There were things I liked about both of Tim Story’s movies, and even the much-maligned reboot by Josh Trank, but all three films failed to capture the essence of the Fantastic Four and really do them justice. This is a chance for Marvel Studios to make a film with actual responsible adults in it; bring in an older cast for Reed Richards and Susan Storm (Bruce Campbell is a great choice for Reed but may be a bit too old; I’d suggest Pierce Brosnan, if he isn’t used for Magneto), get a popular, utterly handsome guy in his mid-twenties-to-late-thirties for Johnny Storm (Zac Efron?), and use that patented Marvel CGI wizardry (preferably in conjunction with practical effects) to create a truly lifelike Thing (voiced by, I dunno, Danny DeVito?). Whatever they do, though, it is crucial (and I mean absolutely crucial) that they get Doctor Doom right (and I mean pitch perfect); Doom should be a premier villain in the MCU and they shouldn’t shy away from his mystical origins. Get someone who isn’t afraid to wear a mask the entire time and who has the presence and gravitas to pull off such an enigmatic role (again, I would go the older route, maybe try and bring in Arnold Vosloo?)

3Spawn
3 Spawn

Oh, Spawn, you’re so very nineties! A Spawn remake/reboot has also been kicking around for decades, with creator Todd McFarlane constantly banging on about how it’s being scripted, in production, coming soon, won’t feature Spawn much (which is insanity!), will be super dark, super scary, and loads of other talk but, until we see a poster, a trailer, and the film in cinemas it’s just that: talk. Spawn (Dippé, 1997) is not a great film; you could argue that it’s not even a good film. It’s rushed, sloppy, disjointed, and some of the effects have aged terribly. This is the reason we need a new movie, one that isn’t afraid to go dark, be super violent, and really do justice to the character and his original run. Take the effects work from Venom (Fleischer, 2018), go balls-deep with the violence and surreal nature of the concept, take notes from the excellent animated series, and bring in Denzel Washington to play the titular hellspawn and you could have a winning formula.

2Hellraiser
2 Hellraiser

Here’s another remake that’s been doing the rounds for a while; despite all the talk and anticipation of a remake, however, it seems we’re doomed to getting ashcan sequels and direct-to-DVD releases that keep this franchise limping along on life support (would you believe that there are ten films in this series!?) Hellraiser makes the list because the original 1987 movie and its immediate sequels have not aged well; in fact, they have aged terribly. I applaud them for using practical effects and making the most of their obviously limited budget but it’s clear to see that this movie could be made so much better with modern filmmaking techniques. Indeed, one of the few good points of the later sequels is how much better the effects are and, done right, a Hellraiser remake could really surprise at the box office. So, I say to you: Go back to Hellraiser and Clive Barker’s original novel, look at the lore and legacy of the series, and put some time, effort, and money into making a truly nightmarish, surreal, and atmospheric horror movie. And if you’re not going to cast Doug Bradley as Pinhead, at least have him dub the lines or something.

1Highlander
1 Highlander

Oooh, boy, this film. Similar to Hellraiser, Highlander (Mulcahy, 1986) makes the list because it just doesn’t hold up; the effects are bad, the fight sequences are shit, and, thanks to all of the nonsense introduced in the sequels, the original movie is a laborious chore to sit through. Yet, the concept is a good one; the franchise clearly had some staying power as well, if the television series is anything to go by. However, we really need to look at the lore and iron out some specifics: what is the Prize? How many Immortals are there and will we address where they come from? What is the exact nature of the Quickening? Seriously, these concepts are so ill-defined in the original and bogged down with retcons and illogical additions in the sequels that I have no idea what’s going on. Either get a clear picture and make a decent fantasy film based on that or ignore some of the sequels and bring back Christopher Lambert in the mentor role; either way, you absolutely must cast Thomas Jane in the title role…and maybe Dave Bautista as the Kurrgan.