How to Destroy Superman: The Doctor, Batman, Senility, and the Pandorica

[Note: This post contains spoilers for the DC Comics’ The Death of Superman storyline, and The Dark Knight Returns (among others), and Doctor Who Series 4 and Series 5 including the episode “The Pandorica Opens.” It has not yet aired in the United States. You have been warned.]

I am going to tell you right now that Batman is the greatest superhero of all time, precisely because his only superpowers are a bank account and psychological trauma. He is the superhero that is closest to the reader, even more so than Stan Lee’s everyboy Spiderman, who fulfills all of our empowerment fantasies, but always shows us the best in ourselves. Batman is a triumph of the human will to fight back in the face of unbearable pain in order to inflict that pain on others. He is our darkest fantasies brought to life.

The Ninth Doctor bears a strong resemblance to the pre-Frank Miller era Batman, a man who has found new purpose as a result of losing almost everyone he loves, and he slowly creeps toward the darkness and thirst for vengeance that belongs to both the Tenth Doctor and The Dark Knight we see in The Killing Joke, The Long Halloween, and The Dark Knight Returns.

Dark Knight Returns is an interesting topic to bring up, because it shares so many connections with the Doctor’s current [Eleventh] incarnation. The Dark Knight Returns is set in a futuristic, post-apocalyptic world where a formerly retired, middle-aged Batman dons the cowl once again to bring down Two-Face after the treatment Bruce Wayne funded fails to cure him of his psychopathic tendencies. But the Gotham police force is a little less grateful than usual. They’re not sure Batman’s vigilantism has a place in this world anymore. He’s become outdated. (Remember Eleven’s “I’m stupid.” statement? How often has he been missing things lately, making the wrong calls?)

Batman’s reappearance also pulls the Joker out of a catatonic state in Arkham, suggesting that the hero attracts, even rebuilds his villains unintentionally. (iDaleks anyone?)

“You’re like iPods. One in every color.”

(Dark Knight Returns also sports a female Robin who rivals Amy Pond in terms of quips and needing to be rescued.)

The interesting thing about the Doctor is that he is both Batman and Superman. As of the 2005 revival, he has a dark trauma in his past that gives him the purpose and drive to save the universe again and again (because he failed to save his own people.) Like Superman, he is an orphan of a dead culture, and grew into the individual we know and love as a result of his “adoption” by humans. (I know it’s hard to think of William Hartnell as a baby Clark Kent, but just go with me on this one.) The Doctor’s companions softened him from a persnickety old man to a formidable clown whose cartoonishly long scarf or piece of celery in his lapel hid a dangerous brand of competence. (We are going to ignore Colin Baker’s silly costume.)

Pay no attention to the man in the tacky outfit. 

This paradox of the Doctor as both Batman and Superman was brought to a head with the most recent episode of Moffat’s new series. Continue reading

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The Fifth Stage of Mourning Ten(nant)

Just a little update for everyone on the mourning Ten front. After “The Beast Below,” I think I’ve finally reached acceptance. The episode was remarkably well written, funny, and poignant, and Amy and Eleven are starting to develop a relationship that is different from anything we’ve seen before. (Somehow Amy manages to create more sexual tension than Rose while maintaining the can-do, take no prisoners attitude of Donna. I think I might be in love with her.) Matt Smith’s Eleven ain’t too shabby either. He is at once an old man and a child and manages to pull of the condescending tone we’re used to from Doctors like One and still be unbelievably lovable.

But what really helped me heal was this interview from the AV Club. In it, Matt Smith shows this amazing sensitivity and charm (plus he reveals he was a soccer player, another plus for me). He is humbled by the role, and just intimidated enough to do a good job.

AVC: Based on “The Eleventh Hour,” it seems like if anything is starting to set you apart, it’s that you use a lot more physical movement to your performance as The Doctor. Is it tough to be physical in tweed?

MS: [Laughs.] I don’t know, man. I think tweed lends itself to being physical, because it looks just a bit odd. I do hope he’s quite a physical Doctor, because I think that’s quite an interesting way to play the comedy of it, actually. I’ve always been interested in physical actors like Peter Sellers. I’ve always been interested in the body. There’s a French [performer and acting instructor] called Jacques Lecoq who’s always interested me, his theories and stuff. So I hope I continue to explore his mad physical side, because it’s this alien inhabiting a human body. It’s quite an odd concept.

AVC: You were an athlete before you were an actor, right?

MS: Yeah, I was a footballer.

AVC: Do you draw on that at all?

MS: Yeah, definitely. I think there are definite parallels between sport and art. There’s a real sense of sacrifice. There’s a real sense of dedication that is needed in sport that I think you can attribute to art. I think so much of it is about bravery and courage, being an actor. I think similarly, these things can be applied in artistic roles. It’s about having the courage to follow your instincts, and also having the discipline and dedication to sacrifice the things in your life that you need to sacrifice to get the best out of yourself artistically. So I learned a lot of valuable lessons as a sportsman.

AVC: The series can be any genre from week to week. Have you found, at this early stage, a preference for a certain type of episode?

MS: No. I guess one of the great liberations as an actor is that the show can go anywhere and do anything and be anyone. It’s ever-changing, and the worlds are completely ever-changing. There’s never any world that you can’t inhabit. I like the fact that it’s always changing. Once every 12 days, you’re in the future, then in the past. We filmed an episode called “Vampires In Venice.” We filmed it in Croatia, and that was rather wonderful. But then, of course, we went way into the future, and the sets are just mad.

AVC: Doctor Who has always been more of a cult sensation here in the U.S. than in Britain. How would you describe the series to someone here who has never seen it before? What would you say it’s like?

MS: I’d say it’s about a 900-year-old alien who travels around time and space in a blue police box, which is called the TARDIS, having adventures, saving the world, and defeating evil. It’s not bound by space or time or logic or genre, and therefore creatively it can go anywhere and do anything. You can be in the past with dinosaurs one week and in the future the next week, as the world is about to explode. I think it’s full of heart and humor and wit and invention. I think Doctor Who improves your life. And I mean that. It’s not just, like, my mission statement. I do, as a man who’s come to it late on, as well. It’s never too late to get into it. I think we’ve got a new team and a new show, and I think now is the time to start watching.

I totally agree, Matt. I totally agree.

………………………

Don’t get me wrong. It still hurts a little. I still tear up when I watch this,

but I’m getting more used to our new Time Lord.

I mean, how could you say no to that devilish glint in his eye?

The Five Stages of Mourning the Tenth Doctor

So’s you know, (and frankly, if you’re reading this blog, I have a feeling you do), David Tennant is no longer the star of Doctor Who. As a fan, this is really depressing for me. As someone who has had a crush that verges on obsession on David Tennant ever since I recognized the new face of Christopher Eccleston’s Ninth Doctor as the simultaneously magnetic and repulsive Barty Crouch, Jr. in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, it is devastating. I had also seen a random episode of Taking Over the Asylum at that point, but couldn’t reconcile the wild-eyed cockatoo that was the Tenth Doctor and Barty Crouch

See what I mean. Wild eyes.

with the sleek haired manic-depressive kid from the obscure British TV show.

Oh 1994. You make even David Tennant look awkward.

The point is, David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor was one of the most powerful characters on television, mostly thanks to the combination of Tennant’s comprehensive RSC training and his good-natured love of all things geek. D10 is tragic, witty, charismatic, and terrifying. Mercurial in the truest sense.

I’ll admit my crush is stupid, a combination of my love for anyone who can handle Shakespeare well and my love for sci-fi, but there’s a real sense of loss here, and I’m not the only one feeling it.

As evidenced by the current trends in this poll in The Guardian, as much as io9 wants to say that we’ve forgotten D10, a lot of us are still recovering. So, without further ado, here are the Five Stages of Grief for Doctor Who.

Continue reading