The Worst DC Animated Sex Scene Ever

TRIGGER WARNING: RAPE.

If you look at my Compare and Contrast tag, you’ll see that I have…issues with the way recent DC animated films have handled sex and sexuality. For the longest time, I thought the sex scene between Batman and Batgirl in The Killing Joke was the worst sex scene in movie history because it came right the fuck out of nowhere, does nothing for Barbara’s character (it actually adds more problems to the overall story) and is the least sexy scene imaginable.

But I was wrong. Oh, I was very wrong. Because I was not prepared for Batman and Harley Quinn.

Just so you know what we’re in for.

Full disclosure: this is a godawful movie. It is sexist, the plot makes no sense, there’s a prolonged farting sequence that adds nothing to the story, the animation is cheap and stiff, the ending is bullshittingly anticlimactic, and there’s a pointless and distasteful post credits scene. But that’s not even the worst part. Oh, no.

At the start of the movie, Nightwing has to find Harley Quinn to get some information on Poison Ivy, who is planning to save the Earth in the worst way possible. In the scene pictured above, Harley has captured Nightwing and tied him to her bed. After ranting to Nightwing about how she can’t get a good job due to her past, she undresses in front of him and looks for something else to wear. The sight of Harley’s half naked body gives Nightwing an implied boner, and when she sees it, she gives him a mischievous grin.

This is how the scene plays out:

N: “Okay now. Don’t be getting any funny ideas” (I don’t want to have sex with you).

HQ: “Too late” *turns off the lights, crawls into bed with him*

N: *visibly uncomfortable in the situation* “Look, Harley, I, uh…”

HQ: *ignores him, makes it clear she wants to have sex with him*

N: *I’m not saying I don’t want to, cuz, that could be nice, all sorts of wrong, but nice…right now, I just really need to find Poison Ivy…” (I do not want to have sex with you right now)

HQ: *makes it clear that she will only give him information about Poison Ivy if he agrees to have sex with her*

N: “The things I do for Gotham”.

HQ: “I’m taking that as a yes”.

Like…this is basically a rape scene. Nighwting is tied up, unable to fight back, and is in a situation where he is forced to consent to sex with someone in the hope she’ll help him. Harley Quinn, a VICTIM OF ABUSE, is manipulating someone to get what she wants.

And what’s worse? The movie completely brushes it aside. The scene is portrayed as sexy and comedic!

This is a very disturbing trend in media. There are tons of movies and shows (mostly comedies) where a man gets raped or forced or tricked into sex by a woman, and it is seen as funny or even sexy. Any implications of trauma or assault get shrugged off like it’s no big deal.

Well, guess what. MALE RAPE IS NOT FUNNY. I can’t believe I have to say it, but it’s not. There’s a serious problem in real life of male rape victims not being believed in or getting the help they need because they were “lucky” for getting laid. And for a Harley Quinn and Nightwing relationship (that absolutely no one wanted) to happen under these circumstances is disgusting.

Like…it would have been very easy to make this a scene of enthusiastic consent. It wouldn’t have been GOOD necessarily, but there was absolutely no way Nightwing couldn’t have said “let’s do it, Harley!” even while tied up. But for some ungodly reason, the writers thought it was okay to write the scene as creepily as possible. That is HORRIBLE.

This is the only DC animated movie so far that I’ve seriously hated. I feel like I’ve wasted an hour and a half of my life that I’ll never get back.

Please do not watch this movie. There are better DC offerings that deserve your support. Male rape and sexual assault victims deserve your support instead of this piece of shit movie.

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Maui Should’ve Been the Hero

Oh, Maui, you deserved so much better.

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Before the movie came out and I had to hype myself up with promotional material, Maui was my fave character. He had an awesome design, he was full of personality, and he had the voice of Dwayne the Rock Johnson. I thought he would be the next Wreck-It Ralph; an older male main character who is a little rough around the edges but ultimately becomes a hero in his own right.

Too bad that didn’t happen.

Instead, Maui is pretty much an asshole. For the majority of the movie he is consistently seen as rude and condescending to Moana with a massive ego. His sympathetic backstory (where he really only is like this because he has abandonment issues and just wants to be loved by humans) is quickly glossed over and he has very little character development. He acts like a complete ass, then his issues are revealed, he snaps at Moana when his hook is cracked…but by the end of the movie he says he doesn’t need his hook to feel whole anymore?

What really offends me about me this (besides the fact that this is ANOTHER character with mental health concerns that is written terribly) is that he’s not an original character from Disney, he’s an actual GOD that people STILL WORSHIP and has a rich mythology…and is reduced to a hollow jerk with a heart of gold to make the Disney Princess look like the better character and person. Ugh.

The fact that he doesn’t even get to correct his own mistake or get a proper resolution to his abandonment issues (a simple scene of Moana’s village accepting him as one of their own would’ve sufficed) makes it even worse. Like you cannot set up this character’s role in the plot and not resolve it or expand on it. It would’ve made more sense to just have Maui in the prologue and have Moana do it alone (have you noticed that in the last few princess movies there ALWAYS has to be a man going on the journey with the main heroine?).

The reason I’m bitter about this is that there’s a very poignant scene at the climax (before Moana gives the heart back to Te Ka) where Maui does the haka in front of the lava goddess, fully ready and prepared to die if it means protecting Moana and saving the world. That is SUCH a good scene, but that’s all we get for Maui’s character from that point on.

Apparently Maui WAS going to be the main character at some point, but they switched it to Moana, and it kind of shows. Maui is a MUCH more interesting character and has a bigger role in the story. They should not have changed it. This should’ve been HIS story of how his trickster habits has consequences and he needs to make up for it.

That’s not to say you don’t have to include Moana at all (or that they couldn’t have included Maui’s wife from the original lore). She could’ve still played an important part. In Wreck-It Ralph, both Ralph and Vanellope are fully developed characters that have an equal part in the story. I don’t understand why they couldn’t have done something like that here.

This is what I was expecting from Moana. Not a generic Disney Princess film. A Disney film that actually honours Polynesian stories and their gods first, THEN markets their characters. But I guess I just hyped this movie too much.

And with that, I think I’m done talking about this movie. I let out every problem I have and now I’m finished. I think next time I hear about a movie I’m excited for, I’m not going to hype myself up for it too much or assume it’s going to be a masterpiece. Because I’m just going to set myself up for disappointment.

My Love/Hate Relationship With the Disney Revival Films

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When John Lasseter and Ed Catmull took the reigns of Walt Disney Animation Studios in the late 2000’s after almost a decade of bombs, they ushered in a new age, known as the Disney Revival. Not only are these films huge critical and commercial hits, they are also beloved by many. The films that are officially considered part of the Disney Revival are The Princess and the Frog, Tangled, Winnie the Pooh, Wreck-It Ralph, Frozen, Big Hero 6, Zootopia, and Moana, with sequels to Frozen and Wreck-It Ralph on the way. (There’s another film called Gigantic which is constantly being pushed back, so who knows if it will actually see the light of day.) I have seen all these films in theatres and am probably not going to break the habit for the foreseeable future.

I have a weird relationship with this new era. Whereas I love pretty much every film from the Disney Renaissance era, I have mixed feelings for the Revival. If I could put them into tiers of fave, I’d make high tier (Big Hero 6 and Wreck-It Ralph, my faves), mid tier (Zootopia and Winnie the Pooh, the films I’m mostly neutral towards) and low tier (Frozen, The Princess and the Frog, and Moana, the films that I seriously dislike). (Tangled would fit somewhere between high and mid tier.) I think it’s because they are all extremely relevant to my life right now in terms of character and theme, and how they are handled can either make or break the movie for me.

Big Hero 6, Frozen, and Wreck-It Ralph all came out at very crucial points in my life, when I was deeply depressed. (I’m going to skip over The Princess and the Frog because I think I’ve already said everything I wanted to about it before, and I don’t have much to say for Tangled or Winnie the Pooh at the moment.) Wreck-It Ralph helped me a lot because, in addition to being a damn good movie, the characters of Ralph and Vanellope resonated with me very strongly. They were both shunned by the people around them, and I could definitely see it as because they were coded to have a disability or disorder (in my view, autism). I cheered for Vanellope when she became a champion racer, and I cried for Ralph when he became accepted for who he was.

A similar situation happened with Big Hero 6. At that point I was neck deep in my depression and the movie’s message that people will love you and you can get better when you are in a bad mental state meant a lot. The film never fails to make me happy due to the frenetic action, amazing directing, beautiful animation, and lovable characters.

By contrast, when Frozen came out (I was in the midst of my depression) I was…really offended by it to be honest. Okay, you have Elsa, a character who is severely mentally ill and clearly the much more interesting character than Anna, and you don’t even focus on her? You don’t let her be the hero? You constantly show her fucking up and sinking deeper into her misery? And then suddenly she’s better with one act of love (but not really, as the shorts reveal she’s constantly blaming herself and trying to make Anna happy)? And she only gets to use her powers for the most mundane things? Yeah, that wasn’t the kind of message I wanted at that point in my life. That, and the film was the definition of overhyped.

When Zootopia came out, I had mixed feelings for it. I thought it told a fun mystery story with great chemistry between the two leads, but it wasn’t really that great at portraying the message of prejudice and tolerance. I think for me it was because predators and prey are too broad to neatly symbolize as white people and people of colour; there are legit reasons for prey to not want to always trust predators, and you can be both a predator AND a prey in nature. When it first came out I was still a bit of a social justice warrior, so I was hypercritical of it at first, but now that I’ve moved on from that movement my feelings towards the film have calmed down a lot. I think the film got a little overrated, but it’s still enjoyable enough, even if I don’t go out of my way to see it.

Moana on the other hand, is not enjoyable for me. Full disclosure: I was SO hyped for this film, I thought it was going to be a masterpiece and an ultimate fave, that it would be the greatest Disney movie ever, and when I finally got to see it, I was left with a feeling of great disappointment. And I think I finally know why: it’s the only Disney Revival movie to come out (aside from Frozen) that feels like it was aimed SQUARELY at little girls. Everything just feels really dumbed down. There’s a lot of TELLING rather than showing, the story and conflict is really simplistic and stupid (Moana thinks something’s wrong with her because she wants to go sailing?), there’s a lot of comic relief and some cliches (of COURSE Moana and Maui are going to fight at a crucial point in the movie but he’ll come back at the climax), and Moana is so devoid of flaws or interesting development that she’s clearly meant to be a shallow Girl Power TM mascot than an actual character. The whole film just feels more juvenile than the others. I guess most of this praise the movie gets is from nostalgia value, which I can definitely appreciate, plus it’s a movie that takes a look at non-white/non Western culture with some truly gorgeous visuals (although, I think some people ONLY like this film and Princess and the Frog because the main characters aren’t white). But for me, that is not enough.

I guess overall I can say that whereas the non-Princess films are trying to take risks and be more interesting, the Princess films are just there to make a lot of money from little girls and nostalgic millennials. This bothers me because previous Disney films were meant to enjoyed by the WHOLE family. Beauty and the Beast isn’t just a film for little girls, it’s a work of art that people of all ages and genders can enjoy. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was a movie that got EVERYONE into animation. But now it seems that Disney feels that the princesses are just meant to be safe, marketable, and deliver shallow girl power messages. As an adult Disney fan who wants to see these films as actual films and not just cartoons for kids, that’s disappointing–but also why I latch onto Big Hero 6 and Wreck-It Ralph so easily.

So you’ll understand why I’m so excited for Wreck-It Ralph 2 and not excited for Frozen 2, and won’t be excited for any more princess films either. I don’t know what kind of film Gigantic will be like so we’ll see.

And with that, these are my final thoughts/explanations on why I like some of the new Disney films better than others. You don’t have to agree, but I’m not going to change my mind. This is my current stance on the matter.

Beyond that, I am definitely going to be excited and curious for other movies in store for us in this era and how they’ll have an impact on my life.

Voltron Is Back With A Vengeance

Spoiler warning!

When I last talked about Voltron (here) I pointed out how a lot of fans were starting to lose their patience with the show. Mainly, people were suspicious on how Allura, who’s supposed to represent a black teenage girl, looks and barely acts anything like a black person or a teenager. There’s also some frustration on how a Keith/Allura romance might end up being shoehorned in.

And, to be fair, I don’t think the second season was really that good. The first season was enjoyable, but the second season was kind of boring at parts because there was a lot of filler, and the plot could be a little hard to follow. I ended up skipping or skimming through most of the episodes. I know a lot of people complained about the lack of character development for Lance and Hunk, so there’s that.

But now that the third season has arrived, the fandom’s faith in the show seems to be fully restored. And I can definitely say I liked this season the best.

It’s only seven episodes long, which means that there’s less filler and better plot development and world building. The characters of Lance, Keith, and Allura all got more character development (from what I’ve seen online Pidge will be getting an arc next season) and we got some cool new characters as well.

Lotor is a great addition to the show. Suave, intelligent, and devious, he makes a competent and engaging new villain. I especially love his four female lieutenants. It definitely helps ease the show’s problems with a lack of female characters because now we have four new interesting ones who aren’t just stereotypes. My fave is definitely Narti, a blind (and possibly mute) female warrior that is allowed to actually look monstrous and uses a cat as a telepathic tool. I’m definitely looking forward to the new villains.

The Keith/Lance relationship has blossomed from constantly arguing and petty rivalry to true friendship. You can tell how much these two really care for another now; I especially love how Lance has become Keith’s right hand man. I don’t know if the Klance ship is going to become canon, but it’s nice to know that they genuinely respect each other now.

I got to say, though, the best episode is definitely the season finale. In it we go into Zarkon’s backstory and find out he was never truly pure evil so much as corrupted. When he was a young king, you could tell that he was a happy, friendly person who wanted what was best for his people and his wife, who happened to be Altean. But after prolonged exposure to Quintessence, their bodies and minds became twisted, leading to their downfall. It was ultimately love that spelled Zarkon’s doom, as the effort to save his wife led to him dying and coming back as a hollow shell of his former self that has lost all his virtues.

Unlike a certain other show, which has tyrannical, genocidal dictators but tries to make us like them because they happen to cry, this show actually succeeds in having us sympathize with the villain but still understand what he did was wrong and needs to be stopped. It’s hard to know what will ultimately happen, but I can definitely see and actually WANT to find a way for him to be redeemed in some way (either he dies doing the right thing or he atones for his crimes; at any rate, you want to see him restored to his old self).

I still have some problems with this show (Hunk is still mostly used as a comic relief character and something about how Allura is written rubs me the wrong way, it’s hard to explain it), but I can definitely say I’m gravitating towards it better now than I did before. I’m looking forward to what’s going to happen next.

In a Heartbeat vs Bad Animation Oversaturation

The 2010’s feels like the best and worst decade for western animation. While (CG) animation is more profitable and prolific than ever before and more people are finally realizing animation can be honestly amazing, it seems that the only people taking the craft seriously are Disney, Pixar, and, to an extent, Warner Bros. with their LEGO movies. DreamWorks, in the light of their falling revenue, has started to dumb down their projects to make a profit, and studios like Sony Pictures Animation and Illumination seem to see the medium as a way of making cheap entertainment squarely for children and nothing else.

This year, in particular, has not been very good, with films like The Boss Baby’s memery encapsulating why so many people don’t take animation seriously and The Emoji Movie becoming quite possibly the worst animated film of all time. Anything else this year has been met with a resounding “ho hum”. Unless Coco turns out to be a surprise hit, the only animated movie that seems to have had any positive impact is The Lego Batman Movie, and that came out much earlier.

But, despite animation not doing well in theatrical full length films this year, there has been one animated short that has captured the hearts of people all over the world.

That short is In a Heartbeat.

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When I first heard about the short as it was in development, I didn’t think much of it, but when it was released recently, I decided to give it a watch. And boy, am I glad I did. It tells a sweet, simple, but VERY powerful story.

In the short, Sherwin (the red haired boy in the picture above) is in love with Jonathan (the brown haired boy), but is in the closet about it. He prevents himself from pursuing his love, but his anthropomorphic heart decides to take matters into its own hands. What follows is something that will make you cry, but also warm your heart.

The short has amassed over 18 million views (and counting) on YouTube and, with the exception of hardcore religious and conservative groups, has gotten almost universal acclaim and an overwhelmingly positive reception. And it deserves it. The animation is very good (especially considering it’s a low budget college film), the music is excellent, and it tells an innocent but effective story that doesn’t rely on dialogue.

The makers of the film, Esteban Bravo and Beth David, are considering making this into a full length movie, and I hope it happens. Again, considering how there are so many animated films but only a fraction of them are really that great, we could use a film like this. One that doesn’t rely on low brow humour and cheap gimmicks and tells an emotional story about the love between two boys.

Please support this short any way you can. You can start by watching it below.

 

Big Hero 6 and Fred’s Private Pain

In Big Hero 6, the titular team is united over Tadashi (and his subsequent death). We know that they all mourned his loss, and that Hiro took it the hardest. But I have a suspicion that one of the characters who also took it very hard but didn’t show it was Fred.

Out of the adult teammates (Fred, Gogo, Wasabi, and Honey Lemon), Fred is the one who has the most backstory. We know that he is filthy stinking rich (but not spoiled and is actually very discreet about his wealth), that his father is Stan Lee (who also happens to be a superhero), has a loyal butler, is a huge comic book enthusiast and very genre savvy, and is the main benefactor of the team.

Recently, people have developed a theory that Fred had an unhappy childhood. His parents were always away and he was often alone, with only Healthcliff for company. That could be true (even if I hope it isn’t, I hate the idea of Stan Lee being a neglectful parent), but I think Fred does have his own personal grief: he is also reeling over the death of Tadashi.

While the gang all loves each other, Fred has been seen by the others as sometimes weird and gross. But not Tadashi, who complemented Fred’s laundry habit as being “both disgusting AND awesome”. They also seem to be the most physically close:

For the first act he is very expressive and frenetic and happy, but extremely subdued at the funeral:

For the rest of the movie, Fred is cheerful and positive, but there are definite moments when he looks really upset, more so than the others.

Note how this is when Honey Lemon says “no, don’t push us away Hiro, we’re here for you”.

Fred perks up considerably when Baymax suggests that they talk about their feelings. Fred is the first to volunteer, saying that is has been thirty days since his last…something before the villain appears. That line is funny, but when you think about how Tadashi was probably dead for that amount of time (in the Cinemastory comic, apparently Tadashi had been dead for three months) suddenly that line might suggest he had a serious drinking or drug binge to deal with his grief (it is implied that Fred is a stoner).

Later, this is his face when Tadashi’s killer is revealed to be none other than their trusted professor:

Fred’s reaction is not quite the same shock as the others.

And then there’s this face Fred makes in the aftermath of Callaghan’s escape and Hiro’s rage:

That is a face of pure and utter distress.

When the team reunites with Hiro, he has a sort of calm but sad look, like he just calmed down from crying:

And then there’s the part where Baymax is lost in the portal. We get shots of Wasabi’s, Gogo’s, and Honey Lemon’s reactions, but interestingly, not Fred’s. Perhaps because he was absolutely devastated to hear that the last thing his friend made is gone.

Given how much detail went into this movie, I’m pretty sure this is intentional and is telling a secret story within the main one. You can tell that Fred does have a hidden pain that only reveals himself at the mention of Tadashi. Considering how he leapt at the opportunity to talk about his feelings, it’s very likely that, given how he comes from a rich and upper-class environment, he had been encouraged to be discreet and private in his affairs. That would explain why, even though he looks visibly distraught at several points, he doesn’t get to cry like Hiro does.

Seeing as how he likely closest to Tadashi and has the biggest role after Hiro and Baymax, I think this is setting up his own major character arc that will be shown in either a sequel or the series. I think we’re going to find out how he real feels about Tadashi and how badly his death affected him. And how Hiro and Baymax will help him recover from it. I certainly hope so.

 

The New Planet of the Apes is a Modern Exodus Story

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Spoilers!

The new Planet of the Apes prequels are some of the most intelligent, thrilling, and emotional blockbusters I have seen in recent years. While I can never see the original 1968 film a second time (the first viewing just disturbed me too much), I can enjoy the new movies thanks in large part to the character of Caesar. He is one of the most compelling characters of all time, brought beautifully to life by the great Andy Serkis. And one thing I couldn’t help but notice immediate after watching War for the Planet of the Apes is that Caesar’s life has a lot of parallels to that of the Biblical Moses.

The first movie, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, parallels the origins of Moses. Both he and Caesar have tragic beginnings: they were born into slavery and would face certain death if it had not been for their mothers’ love. They are raised by their captors and live a very happy life for a long time. But then, the protagonists commit a crime to protect another, and are both exiled for it. It is during their exile that they discover their destiny to free their respective peoples, unleashing a plague upon their captors in the process.

The second movie, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, references the Hebrew’s newly found freedom. They escape to greener pastures and build their own communities, with the law of ‘do not kill’. But conflict within the community rises (in this movie and in some film versions of the the Exodus story, it is stirred by a specific opponent) and the teachings of Caesar and Moses are rejected, and blood must ultimately be shed. The quest for true freedom for the apes and Hebrews are thus prolonged.

War for the Planet of the Apes has the most direct parallels. You see the apes being whipped and imprisoned and forced to work hard for their captors, building a stone monument. Caesar routinely begs for his people’s freedom, but the Colonel (Pharaoh) refuses, mocking him, instead increasing the workload of the slaves. The apes escape and the captors and would-be captors are wiped out by an avalanche, which echoes the scene of the Egyptian soldiers being wiped out by the Red Sea. Freed, the Hebrews and Apes both cross a desert to safety, to a Promised Land. In the end, both Caesar and Moses die atop a high place overlooking their people, knowing they are free. It all makes for a very intense story that kept me glued to the screen from start to finish.

Do you think this was intentional or just a coincidence? Did you spot any more parallels? Feel free to let me know!