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New Escapist Column! On “1899” and the Problems of Abstraction…

I published a new piece at The Escapist over the weekend. Last week saw the release of Netflix’s 1899, a surreal mystery thriller from the creative minds behind Dark.

1899 is an impressive show in many ways, a multilingual series with a diverse cast, that is also the most expensive television show ever made in Germany. It is packed with big ideas, and grapples with heady themes, without ever stopping to apologise for itself or condescend to its audience. There’s undoubtedly something appealing in that. However, there’s a strange coldness to the show, a detachment that makes it very hard to emotionally invest in the series as anything more than an intellectual exercise.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

New Escapist Video! On the Myth of a Grim and Gritty Batman…

So, as I have mentioned before, I am launching a new video series as a companion piece to In the Frame at The Escapist. The video will typically launch with every second Monday’s article, and be released on the magazine’s YouTube channel the following week. This is kinda cool, because we’re helping relaunch the magazine’s film content – so if you can throw a subscription our way, it would mean a lot.

With the release of the latest trailer for The Batman, it seemed like a good time to delve into a recurring debate among Batman fans, the argument over whether portrayals of the character are too dark and gritty. It’s a strange argument, given that the only solo Batman movie in the past decade has been The LEGO Batman Movie, so it’s worth unpacking.

The Batman/Superman Dilemma

It began simply enough. “You like Batman better than Superman,” my girlfriend asserted over dinner a few weeks ago. I couldn’t dipute the claim, but mounted a fairly swift defense of the character as “misunderstood”. That prompted an incredulous response which suggested that I “like Batman better because he’s darker”. That’s an interesting assertion. I don’t believe it’s true – certainly not in my case at any rate. I think the public’s perception of Batman as a more enduring, more fascinating and all round ‘cooler’ pop culture icon that the Man of Steel stems from a whole host of factors, that can’t be succinctly summed up with an observation that one is dark and gritty and the other is light and fluffy. So, why are we fonder of the Caped Crusader that the big blue boy scout?

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Notice how Superman is trying to look half as badass as Batman...

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