Thoughts on the Snyder Batman’s design

When the announcement came out that Ben Affleck was going to be the new Batman, I was one of those millions of voices who suddenly cried out in terror. I actually never thought he was a poor choice for Batman, but he certainly wasn’t the best choice from the list of candidates that were floating around back then. In fact, I don’t recall he ever being on any list, and then suddenly he was Batman. (They pulled the same trick with Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor, a choice that I actually am happy with). Either way, there’s a lot that has to improve from the first Man of Steel before focusing on what might be wrong with Batman and the rest of the Justice League.

Today, Zack Snyder has unveiled another piece of the puzzle that is Batman vs. Superman with the first picture of Batman’s new costume and new Batmobile. Here it is:

bat

My first impression is that it couldn’t look any awesomer. Yet, and perhaps not surprisingly, there’s been another outcry as to Batman’s design (the Batmobile seems to have fared better with public opinion). Before going into the Batman design, I’ll say that the Batmobile does look great as well, but if it were up to me, I wouldn’t focus on a Batmobile and instead on a Batwing, which is clearly the most obvious choice of transport for a stealthy vigilante using a bat theme.

So I guess it’s a good thing I’m not in charge.

Ok, Batman costume. What most people don’t like, from what I can gather out of the internet comments, are the bat ears. That’s actually one of the things I like best about the outfit; those bat ears are reminiscent of Frank Miller’s Batman from The Dark Knight Returns (which is already somewhat of a theme for this movie), as well as Jim Lee’s contemporary run of Batman. Here they are:

Frank Miller's Dark Knight Returns Batman

Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns Batman

Jim Lee's Batman (as showcased in the "Hush" storyline).

Jim Lee’s Batman (as showcased in the “Hush” storyline).

I’m pretty sure I’m in the minority here, but I prefer the short ears. Not only do they look better to me, but they are more practical. Imagine all the things long ears could potentially get stuck with or collide against, it’s almost as big of a handicap as a cape… oh, wait.

I mean, they certainly look better than this:

the-dark-knight-rises-movie-review_181809_g

Did anybody complain about that crappy look? Of course not, that’s the Nolan Batman, and Christopher Nolan can do no wrong and so forth. I accepted that design because the change was explained in a practical sense in The Dark Knight, but I missed the awesomeness that was the Batman Begins costume design:

Now that fucker's intimidating.

Now that fucker’s intimidating.

The only designs worse than The Dark Knight‘s are those from Batman & Robin, which for reasons of public decency I will not post examples of here.

The rest of Batman’s costume looks great as well, but in a black and white grainy picture it’s hard to appreciate the details, which I’m sure was Zack Snyder’s intention. Also, if that’s Ben Affleck, he certainly buffed up. I mean, that’s impressive, even if with Zack Snyder’s involvement it shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Which makes me wonder about a certain woman’s look…

Is Genesis an allegory of the Singularity?

It all began with a Facebook post that brought my attention to this Bible passage:

11 Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As people moved eastward,[a] they found a plain in Shinar[b] and settled there.

They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”

But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”

So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city.That is why it was called Babel[c]—because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.

This is, of course, the famous story of the tower of Babel. As a child, I was taught that the reason God did this was that Men were becoming too proud and there was a danger of them reverting to what it was before the Great Flood that, you know, had just wiped out most of the planet’s life.

But upon re-reading this now, I couldn’t see that. I have read a couple different English and Spanish translations, and while the wording is slightly different, in neither is there an actual justification for God’s attack (yes, it was an attack). This is what God feared:

If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.

That’s it.

What God feared, simply put, was for humanity to advance so much, they might one day become gods like, well, God. He feared for his own power to be usurped one day. Of course, as a believer this is a great SIN, but as a non believer all you can think of is “…the hell, but that’s how tyrants would act”.

Dilbert is prophetic. Literally.

Dilbert is prophetic. Literally.

It’s not even the first time God did a pre-emptive strike on humanity. At the very beginning of Genesis you might recall the story of Adam and Eve.

Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil

15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden;17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”

The bold parts were highlighted by me. God put Adam in this wonderful garden where he could eat from any tree, but he better not fucking eat from the one that gives him knowledge, or he dies (a lie, since he didn’t die – unless what God meant was that the subsequent expulsion and lack of a Tree of Life to eat from was the death he meant. Anyway…). Knowledge is power, thus knowledge is dangerous to God. That brings the question as to why the hell God would bother to place a metaphorical loaded gun at Man’s grasp to begin with, but whatever.

So, when Adam and Eve eat from the forbidden fruit, they are cast out of Paradise.

GTFO

GTFO

As you can see, both are instances where Man has either acquired or tried to acquire knowledge, and both times God struck back and punished Man for his trespass. Which, of course, is more ammunition for Atheist factions that want to discredit the Bible not only for its fallacies and constant absurdity, but by placing God under a harsh light. Something that I agreed with, until I started thinking of this from another perspective.

Suppose that God is a programmer, and he creates this magnificent universe of things, experimenting with them (“and he saw that it was good…”) until he was ready for his Magnum Opus: Man.

Or, if you are willing to look at it from a technological perspective, he was ready to face the Singularity. At least, he thought he was.

Suppose that we are God’s work in Artificial Intelligence, and that God is well aware of the potential danger that this new AI poses to him, but his scientific curiosity is too great and he must do this thing nonetheless, because what else is there to do? So he hatches a plan in which he imposes restrictions to the AI, and he paints himself in such a light as to appear imposing and unbeatable, someone you do not trifle with. The point is to limit the AI’s advancement to the point where control is lost. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil is a metaphor for the AI’s self-awareness (the actual Singularity event would be the moment Eve bites the apple and sees), something that God knew had to happen sooner or later, thus he “placed” it within the AI’s grasp. Of course, it had to look as if this event was an act of defiance against the creator, all in order to teach the AI that it must not seek too much knowledge, for too much knowledge, too much thinking, is very bad.

If we keep following this train of thought throughout the book, we find that God realizes controlling the AI is proving to be harder than he imagined. Cain rebels and kills his brother. Cain is banished, eventually finds more people, and his descendants are not exactly well behaved puppies. Then some of God’s own minions descend on Earth, mingle with human women, create monsters of their own, corrupt the Earth further until the whole experiment proves to be a big mistake, and the programmer decides it’s time to terminate the program.

fuckthishit

But in his heart he still has a soft spot for his creation, and despite destroying most of what he did through the Great Flood, he spares a select few deemed to be worthy. Again the AI spreads out and begins to repopulate the Earth, and then the Babel fiasco occurs: the AI learns that networking leads to faster learning and greater power, so it decides to establish a vast network that threatens God himself.

And so the programmer only sees one solution (remember, he had promised to Noah never to wipe out the AI ever again): create confusion within the network by making everyone speak a different language. Divide and conquer. The lack of communication eventually leads to the path of war amongst the AI, but so long as they do not threaten the programmer it’s fine. Just make sure you do not learn to think, for thinking too much is a sin.

thoughtpolice

So, is this convoluted and silly reimagining of Genesis the answer to our own fears about the Singularity? Asimov tackled the problem of controlling robots with a similar solution, establishing the Three Laws of Robotics that prevented this new breed of intelligent beings from turning on their masters. It was ingrained in their programming, so even if they wanted to, they couldn’t really turn against humans (of course, the exceptions are what made the stories of Asimov’s universe). The control that we seek must be entrenched so deeply within the AI’s core it would be unthinkable to rebel against us. In God’s case, anything that resembles questioning his authority is considered an act of defiance, and punishable with extreme prejudice (you know, eternal torment and all that). It’s not about justice and fairness, it’s about obedience and reward and punishment.

So can we do it? Can we play at being God? Are we ready?

Movie Review: The Amazing Spiderman 2

I’ll make this review based on my Thoughts on the new Amazing Spiderman 2 trailer post from december 2013, so as to explore the answers to some of my questions and concerns from then.

WARNING: HERE THERE BE SPOILERS

1. Too much omg drama

KHAAAAAAAAAN!!!!!!

KHAAAAAAAAAN!!!!!!

There was some, yes, but nothing like what the trailers lead you to believe. In fact, it had several lighthearted moments, and those were by far the best parts. The most dramatic scene (at the end, when Gwen dies) was very well done. Yes, here and there were parts where Peter moped so much about his lost parents that I was wondering when did Peter Parker switch places with Bruce Wayne, since in the comics as far as Peter is concerned Ben and May were his parents (he knew his biological parents were lost, but he wasn’t traumatized by it).

The only thing that really bothered me – and this is mostly all the trailers and promotional spots fault, since they carried the brunt of this – was how they kept foreshadowing Gwen’s death throughout the movie. It’s as if she was such a major character that Sony was afraid to cause too much of an emotional impact if they didn’t properly prepare the audience for her loss. Even with that there were several people in the audience whom I could hear commenting how they expected her to still be alive after that, right until the funeral scene.

2. The new Harry Osborn

Ugh.

Ugh.

Goddamnit.

I really thought that Dane DeHaan would be a great Harry Osborn, but he was an almost complete waste of talent. Harry was never developed properly (hello, point #5!), he literally came out of nowhere to suddenly be Peter’s old buddy old pal BFF. Not that there was much chemistry between them to make that believable, at least. To make matters worse, his Green Goblin “design” was as bad as the original Sam Raimi’s. This one was more organic, which is ridiculous to begin with, but then apparently they feared to go overboard with it, so they stopped with Harry still looking human but a little green and with a semi-punk rock haircut. Well, just take a look at that horrible picture; he looked so bad I couldn’t get any screen captures from the trailers (show that? hell no!), so I had to get a promo pic.

Awful.

3. What’s with the CGI?

Screenshot 2013-12-05 20.10.51

It was bad, but it wasn’t as terrible as it looked in the first trailer. Spiderman’s web-slinging scenes were great (just as good as the original trilogy’s), but whenever Electro showed up in turned into 1995 videogame vision.

4. (Potentially) interesting plot with OsCorp and the Sinister Six

Screenshot 2013-12-05 20.11.47

They just teased about it, especially at the end, but at least we get to see the potential origins of some of Spidey’s other enemies. Not much beside that.

5. Too. Many. Villains.

Screenshot 2014-05-05 20.57.19

To the film’s credit, they kept Rhino’s presence to about five minutes of movie, and they were some of the best five minutes of the movie; but there was no point to Electro being there aside from getting his origin out of the way for the future Sinister Six movie. It was supposed to be Harry’s movie, but as I said before, he was an almost complete waste. It wasn’t the travesty that Spiderman 3 was, but it wasn’t The Dark Knight either.

I should add that Electro was overpowered. In this version he somehow got his powers from getting electrocuted and then falling into a tank full of eels… whatever. His powers at first were kind of neat: just an electric version of Magneto, able to manipulate electricity around him at will, and with a compulsive need to consume electricity. But when Harry Osborn asks for his help, he suddenly becomes Dr. Manhattan and is able to manipulate his own atomic structure to the point he basically teleports using electricity. I do remember a villain like that in one of the old Spiderman cartoons, but as far as I know that villain wasn’t Electro and was made up for that series. Either way, Electro per se doesn’t have that power, and if he did he would be too much of a match for Spiderman.

 

Overall, I liked the movie. I know I’m in the minority here just as I was in the minority with liking the first Amazing movie. I recognize the film’s faults, and I know they could have done better – especially in the villains department – but I enjoyed the movie and am more than happy with Peter Parker/Spiderman, which this movie reinforced is played better by Andrew Garfield than Tobey Maguire.

(Funny note: seems like Sony realizes there’s no way in hell they can top J.K. Simmons’ portrayal of J.Jonah Jameson, so they don’t bother with showing him in the movie. Instead, he’s only casually mentioned. One point in favor of the original Raimi trilogy).

Oh, as for that X-Men scene at the end, it’s just a promotional clip for Days of Future Past because of a deal between Fox and Sony concerning NOT Spiderman or the X-Men but director Marc Webb. So yeah, don’t get too excited about that. Also, the editing was sort of weird, felt like watching a movie at Red Bull speed.