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In this new documentary film, the malevolent, sometimes charismatic figures from DC Comics' hallowed rogues' gallery will be explored in depth, featuring interviews with the famed creators, storytellers and those who have crafted the personalities and profiles of many of the most notorious villains in comic book history. Written by
Evil has many faces. A man who laughs. The master of Metropolis. The Guardian of fear. A conqueror of worlds. Many faces, but just one name: The supervillain. Powerful, charismatic, intelligent, ruthless. The supervillain reflects our fears and frustrations, the danger and perils of everyday life. They commit the heinous crimes we will not. And in a world where right and wrong are not absolute, where shades of gray exist in life as well as as the comic page evil ins't just unavoidable, it's ...
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Decent documentary for casual and new fans of the DC Universe
I'm not sure who "Necessary Evil: The Villains of DC Comics" is aimed towards but it's an enjoyable documentary nonetheless. As you might expect, the film discusses in length the notable villains of the DC Universe. It covers old favorites like The Joker and Lex Luthor, famous villainesses like Catwoman and Poison Ivy and new villains like Wonder Woman's half-brother The First Born. Guest speakers like Guillermo Del Toro, Wrestling stars and psychologists talk about the need of a good villain to contrast a hero. Recurring elements in characters like The Penguin, General Zod, Sinestro and Ocean Master are discussed at length. We also learn why these characters are so important when building a rich mythology and the different interpretations of other iconic super villains like the Flash's Rogues Gallery or the Legion of Doom. We get clips from films, video games, TV shows, comic book panels and more to make this more than just a collection of interviews and talking heads.
A flaw in this documentary is that it often feels more like a bonus feature than an actual film. Not to say at all that it's bad, but if you're a hardcore DC Comics fan, there's a lot here that you already know and you'll be surprised to see that some characters are not mentioned at all in the documentary. There are no clips of Heath Ledger as the Joker and not even a sentence about Superman's foe Mr. Mxyzptlk. No Christopher Nolan Joker? Isn't it strange that one of the most iconic villains brought to film is barely addressed in a documentary all about iconic DC Comics characters? As for that imp from the 4th Dimension that's constantly trying to meddle in the Man of Steel's life, he and other more comedic villains are never mentioned at all and to me, it felt like it was as if the people making this documentary had an agenda to not truly address the question, but to give credibility to comic books instead of pleasing the already existing fan base. This is why the movie felt very much like it was targeted not to people that are unfamiliar with the characters of DC Comics but to the casual fans. I felt like the whole thing was aimed towards the guys who had some toys as kids and who have been watching the movies or playing the video games but haven't read a comic in several years. It really leaves you wanting more if you're a hardcore fan (which you might guess I am).
I felt like there is a lot of missing information because of my familiarity with the subject matter. For example, there is a whole segment about female villains and Catwoman in particular is highlighted but her multiple film roles or the fact that she even starred in her own spin-off film are never really addressed. Granted, that movie is universally reviled but it does speak volumes about the character's popularity that a studio was willing to make a movie solely to bank on the Catwoman name. If you're not at all familiar with any of the characters, I'm not sure what you would be doing watching the movie in the first place but I often found that it went through a lot of characters' back stories very quickly so I can easily see someone getting lost when it comes to all of the different colorful criminals, magical beings and aliens shown off. I was also hoping to see more of the outsider's view on the characters (from the psychologists or people not involved directly in the publication of the graphic novels).
It sounds like I'm really coming down hard on the movie but I'm not. It's very professionally done and for the immense amount of things there are to talk about when it comes to the foes of Batman, Green Lantern, Superman and Wonder Woman, it does a pretty good job covering a lot of ground. Even as someone very familiar with the characters I did learn new things, I enjoyed seeing the excitement and enthusiasm that everyone involved has for the fiction and Christopher Lee does a fine job narrating the whole thing. I'm not sure if he heard this was a movie about bad guys so he amped up the sinister-ness of his voice or the people in charge kept telling "Needs more Saruman!" but either way it was a lot of fun to listen to. It would be really exciting to see a follow up on these, one focusing solely on one of the chapters, like an hour and a half discussion on "polar opposite villains", "movie interpretations" or "female villains". I doubt we'll ever see these, but like any well made documentary, it will certainly generate a lot of interesting conversations between those who have seen.
I do recommend "Necessary Evil: The VIllains of DC Comics" for casual fans of the comics but there's something here for anyone that's remotely interested in the characters. My copy came included with the new "Batman: Arkham Origins" game and for me, it was a very nice, entertaining bonus I can see myself watching again with some friends so that we can discuss some of our favorite characters. (On Blu-ray, October 29, 2013)
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