Film: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Music recommendation:  Their War Here by Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL

Sadly, Hans Zimmer just announced his retirement from scoring superhero motion picture films. 

I’m going to go ahead and tackle on this big one. Normally, I don’t review new films – mostly because it takes me a while to actually get myself interested in all of the new stuff that comes out. But this film, guys – this film is what I have been waiting on for years. Even before it was announced. Sadly, though – I left the theater not knowing how I felt about Batman v Superman. There were just so many things going through my mind and even as I type this, I still don’t know how I truly feel about the movie.

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I didn’t hate it, but there are so many things that are keeping me from saying with out a doubt, I loved it. The goal for this post is to air out all of my feelings and hopefully come to a decision about how I feel about Batman v Superman. The title still makes my cringe, so that can’t be a good start. 

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As an avid DC Comics fan, I have been wanting a live-action Justice League / more than one DC hero collaboration film since I started watching Bruce Timm’s influential DC Comics animated series including Batman: the Animated Series, Superman: the Animated Series, Justice League, and Justice League: Unlimited. Especially those last two.

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Ta-da!

These series are normally what I use as my DC Comics bible and guide. When and if I miss a few comic issues, I feel like the series are the holy grail for the main and most interesting story-lines and transitions throughout DC Comics. In fact, a lot of the animated series and films are great references to know what’s going on in the comics. JL and JLU just seemed to get everything right and keep me entertained and educated in my DC Comics familiarity.

And I understand that the animated series were just another method of telling the stories of our favorite DC Comics heroes – just like the comics, live action-television series, and films. The main reason that I love Smallville is because I like how the series includes plot points and characters from the comics. They aren’t exactly like their comic versions, but the show allows me to see what I have been reading live and in living color, so to speak.

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Confession: Early in my Smallville watching days, I used the animated series as my reference guides while watching the show and became angry during times when I thought the show missed out on capturing stories and characters exactly like the animated versions. I understand now that that was ridiculous and unfair, but at the time it was just how much faith I had in the animated series.  I wasn’t accepting the concept that Smallville was another creative version of these characters and another way to depict the classic stories while bringing in new stories…and characters.

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Hey Chloe!

The founding members of the JLA for me were always Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash (Wally West), Green Lantern (Jon Stewart), Hawkgirl, and Martian Manhunter. They were the league. The core. Seeing an ensemble of superheroes calling themselves the Justice League without ALL or most of these members just never seemed truthful or right to me. I loved Smallville’s version of the JLA with Clark, Green Arrow, Impulse (Bart Allen), Aquaman, and Cyborg – but deep down I felt like it was an off-brand version of the true JLA. Later on, Hawkman, Stargirl, Black Canary, and Martian Manhunter joined the league as well. Even though these characters were actually rightful Justice League members, I wanted my Batman and Wonder Woman.

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Yeah, but where’s Batman?

In JLU, nearly every DC Comics hero is invited into the league, but the founding seven were the head honchos. The decision makers. When I would see the outlier heroes fill in or be spotlighted instead of the seven, I felt like something was missing or that I wasn’t getting the full story. With the exception of The Question, who really brings his A Game. None of the less, it is amazing to see The JLA in live-action form on Smallville. The current DC Comics television series like Arrow and The Flash are also great with their superhero collabs. I still have yet to invest some time in Supergirl and Gotham, but I’m sure they’re doing their share of DC Comics hero assemblies. The Flash just made his way over to Supergirl – a crossover to another series and network. How cool is that!

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With all of this said, let’s talk about Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. The actual purpose of this post. And yes, HUGE spoilers are ahead. 

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The Trinity

Batman…the Demon Knight?

One of the most exciting things for me about the film is that Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman finally meet on the big screen. Warner Bros had to reboot the whole Batman character (again) just to make this happen. Nolan’s Dark Knight franchise is just totally different from the path Zack Snyder is taking these characters and the DC Cinematic Universe. Although Nolan’s darker depiction of the DC Comics world really kicked into gear the tone for future films. His films are more grounded in realism, whereas Snyder doesn’t hold back with showing the super in superhero. Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne and The Bat Vigilante of Gotham is every bit of what I loved about the animated counterpart.

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All the doubt and outrage about Affleck’s casting should be hushed down to a complete silence. I actually never doubted him as I am one of those people who actually loves the Daredevil film. We’re a rare group, apparently. Affleck is brooding as Batman and hell-bent on giving the bad guys their justice. He’s even charming as Bruce Wayne – when he’s not hung over. I am a little iffy on how hungover he is in the film and how vengeful he is towards his regular ol’ street foes. The gun wielding also kind of struck a nerve just like Superman’s last encounter with Zod in Man of Steel. My SEVEN YEAR OLD BROTHER was like…why the fudge does Batman have a gun?

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Batman also seems stupidly blind by his rage and too unreasonable to understand who Superman is and what his beliefs are. He doesn’t even try to look beyond the media’s portrayal of Supe’s and all of the blasphemy about the destruction to the city as a modern God among men. As I watched the film, I really was like ‘Bruce, come on! Wake up and smell the coffee and put down the scotch!’ I realize that he’s been Batman for years, way before Clark came out as the Man of Steel, and he has seen his fair share of misfits and dangerous foes – like The Joker. But there’s just something off about how angry Bruce is at Superman. Bruce Wayne would have the means to arrange a meeting and just hear Superman out. They probably could have skipped the whole fight and became friends sooner rather than the inevitable later.

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I also wanted to see more of the playboy high-roller Bruce Wayne that made his way through the hearts of even the strongest of ladies. Even Lois Lane. Maybe it’s because (and I am almost positive it is) this version of Bruce has been a vigilante for so long and he’s become more Batman than his normal self. He’s ticked off throughout majority of the film and when he finally does crack a smile or quips, it stays with you. Just like in JL.

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I love how cocky he is when he meets Clark Kent for the first time. He throws it in Clark’s face that Metropolis worships Superman, an alien from another planet with the ability to take over the planet if he wanted to. So why so much hate on the Bat vigilante, Clark? In their conversation, Clark becomes less of a boy-scout and stiffens up more like Superman when he basically gets dissed by Bruce, who also turns off the charming act and his rage festers through as Batman.

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It reminds me so much of when Clark and Bruce meet in Superman the animated series. I couldn’t tell here if they realized at that moment who each other really were. Well, Clark probably does due to his super hearing allowing him to overhear Alfred tipping Bruce off about what Lex is hiding. Then again, he may just think that Bruce is some sort of spy or federal agent. I like to think Clark is smarter than that, though. Even Jimmy Kimmel isn’t buying it. 

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Bruce in BvS is kind of how Smallville’s Clark becomes between seasons 7-10. His exterior is harder, colder, and his personality is drier than his younger self. He has seen too many bad guys and has had his heartbroken. His destiny gets in the way of him having a normal life. His best friend, Lex, officially turns evil and his father dies. It’s all enough to turn good men cruel as Alfred says in BvS.

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By the way, I love this version of Alfred. He looks like he has so much swag. No, but seriously he seems to have more of a valued friendship with Bruce rather than just being his older guardian, butler, and confidant. He’s still the one that tries to talk sense into Batman.

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Alfred is tech savvy and makes Bruce’s Batman gear. I do agree that he looks more like Commissioner Gordon here, but Jeremy Irons is fantastic as usual. He’s the cool Alfred for the new generation.

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Let me just add some swag…

Superman…the Man in Question?

I actually really wanted to see more of Clark Kent. Yes, Superman deals with a lot of crap in this film as Lex frames him to be this God-like tyrant. Superman has this very solemn demeanor when he’s saving people and when the government and media blast his name and try to define who he is. He’s just too darn sad and offended.

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On the other hand, Clark Kent had some fight in him, personality-wise. He’s happy with Lois and he pushes Perry White to shed light on Batman rather than settling to write about sports. When he’s Superman, he’s either pissed at his foes or he’s heartbroken to see that the people he’s saving and fighting for can so easily misunderstand who he is and his intentions. There’s no middle ground. I need to see that middle ground, where Clark and Superman meet.

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You tell him Clark!

We’re rushed into this story and we don’t really get a chance to see what happened to Clark after Man of Steel. How has he been dealing with his journey as Superman? He just figures out about his true identity and origins in Man of Steel and his first spat with the bad guys is less than graceful. In BvS, we hear a lot about how Bruce has been affected, but not how Clark is coping. He just shows up to save Lois here and there, saves civilians who worship him like a God, and gets slandered by the government. Then he runs away and I couldn’t help, but slap my knee in anger.  

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 He eventually comes back home, but it bothered me how easily he would just up and leave – giving up on us, I mean, the civilians in the film. With such a big opinion on Batman, I feel like Clark’s perspective on Superman and his ambition should be spelled out for us. What type of hero do you want to be, Clark? Do you even consider yourself a hero? Where do you see yourself in 10 years? 

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Team Leader

It’s also nice to see moments with Martha Kent when Clark feels like the world is against him. She reminds him that he doesn’t owe the world anything and he could just hang up the cape and live his life under the radar. There’s also a dream sequence where the deceased Jonathan Kent appears to Clark and gives him some sage advice. Though, I was too distracted by trying to figure out what was going on to pay enough attention to what he tells Clark.

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What I love about Smallville is that we get the journey of Clark Kent with his parents and friends. We get to see him grow into the hero that he wants to be and make decisions about how separate his ‘human’ identity lifestyle should be from his hero one. Sure, it gets muddied and blended often times, but atleast we have the opportunity to see Clark chose a path rather than just having him thrown into one. The Kents really play a huge part in guiding him.

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With great power, comes great…

There’s just so much Bruce Wayne in BvS, that I feel like Clark Kent gets the short end of the stick. We get Bruce’s motivations, even if his origins and history as Batman is more unknown apart from the tidbits that we get in dream sequences and him mentioning his dealing with clowns. Plus, there’s the graffitied Robin costume hanging up and his parents’ graves that act as sore reminders that he has lost those close to him.

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We need to know what’s going on in Clark’s head. As the future leader of the Justice League, I want to see that leadership role taken seriously. He needs to be the one to keep his conrads focused and motivated to do good for Earth and the intergalactic space. To work with various governments (especially The United States) and to personally form a connection to Earth that grounds them to avoid the team becoming an isolated powerhouse. Those that could flip the switch and start chaos. That were the aliases come in. Or, their assumed true identities.

Lois Lane…the Key?

What makes the Justice League human enough to fit in and appreciate the human race? For Clark, it’s his connection with his adopted family and Lois Lane.

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We get a feel for their relationship in BvS, and how Clark and Lois have have fallen madly in love with each other. Clark is there for Lois when she’s a damsel and when she’s being reckless. I was scratching my head to understand how and when they became so close to the point that they live together and Clark has a ring for Lois by the end of the film. This is that missing time after Man of Steel where Clark makes some big decisions and we aren’t given the opportunity to see them before we get BvS. Sure, it’s lovely to see that Clark and Lois have taken their relationship to the next step, but for Superman to rush in to save her neck even in the most dangerous of situations where he risks his own reputation – I want to see the first date and the whole decision to move in together! I need substance.

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In Smallville (though the whole Lois and Clark relationship gets rushed around season 8 after Lana Lang leaves) we get to see Lois falling for Clark after all the time she lived with him and The Kents. They annoyed each other and Clark found Lois to be reckless and a little over the top. Lois found Clark to be too much of a boy-scout. Little did they know that they were opposites destined to attract.

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I want to see Lois and Clark get on each others’ nerves and pick and prod at each other before realizing how perfect they are for one another. Sure, I absolutely love how sexy Clark/Superman looks when he’s with Lois, but at times it’s a little too mushy – making Lois look a little needy. I love Amy Adams, but she makes me want to smack Lois at times. I feel the same about Erica Durance’s Lois in Smallville during seasons 8 – 10. To me, Lois should be headstrong and not too much dependent on her super hunky man. But to eat my words, I love when Superman sweeps her off of her feet.

Do We Need a Superman? 

As for his reputation, Superman is really in a bad place with the media and government. All of the mass destruction from Man of Steel divided the people into two factions: those that believe in Superman and those that distrust him. Some people clearly see that he tried to save the planet from Zod and his Kryptonian followers, but some see only the destruction caused by the battle. Bruce is one of those people and so is a good portion of the government. Senator Finch tries to find justified sense in all of the chaos.  

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She believes that power corrupts individuals (Lex Luthor is a prime example) and wants to exercise her strong belief in democracy. She invites Superman to defend his actions before the people who judge him. Finch believes in fairness and doesn’t want to jump to the conclusion that Superman is too powerful to be trusted. Lex Luthor tries to manipulate her, but she doesn’t sip the tea he is serving. Literally.

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The hearing doesn’t go well and Lex sets Superman up to appear a part of a conspiracy that leads the entire Senate building and those in it (including Senator Finch) in crumbles. Superman is obviously left standing looking hella heartbroken that again he’s going to be blamed for another catastrophe. I honestly feel for Superman in this moment. He’s obviously going to be the last man standing simply due to what he is. Him standing there in the middle of it all makes others believe that he had something to do with the explosion or that he caused the explosion. All he wanted to do was air out the truth, which could have saved Bruce a lot of time and effort planning his battle with the Man of Steel and allowed the people all over the world to know that Superman means well. He’s genuinely a good guy. Roll the credits! Skip to Justice League!

JLA Divided we fall

The situation reminds me so much of JL when the league is criticized for having too much power. Sure, the government (creating Project Cadmus) is right to be wary of such a large number of super-powered beings. They could, if they wanted to, take over the planet. Case in point, The Justice Lords.

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They dubbed themselves divine beings, with the power, audacity, and authority to have control over the world. The thing is, the Justice League are the good guys. They constantly prove themselves when they save the world from evil and destruction. However, even Batman begins to recognize that forming an unlimited league accrues too much power and humans wouldn’t be able to do much if the team decided to go rogue. Superman and the rest of the core seven reach out to the government and form an alliance. But who says the government isn’t corrupt?

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Look at Amanda Waller. She and Batman both believe that The Justice League are far too powerful, but their different tactics to keep things under control make them butt heads on many occasions. I can’t wait to see Viola Davis’s portrayal of Waller in Suicide Squad.

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I’ve always been torn on Waller’s beliefs and motivations. On one hand, she wants to keep super-powered beings from taking over the world, but on the other hand, she uses corrupt methods to do so. Creating a team of super-villains to do good just lends itself to allowing them more access an opportunity to do more evil. And her definition of ‘good’ is relative. She gives the government too much power. It’s like a lose-lose situation. No one side should have more power than the other nor have all of the power. Like Senator Finch says, “absolute power corrupts absolutely.” 

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I do have to admit that Amanda Waller is an amazing character and her dialogue on JL really makes me think critically about government and power and philosophically about what a government is. Waller is a bold woman with strong beliefs. She acts on them without a lick of fear from those physically more power than she is. And that really says something, because she can kick some butt.

Lex Luthor?

Sometimes Waller’s associations are more corrupt than the superheroes that she comes head to head with. Lex Luthor, for example. Now, Lex Luthor is my favorite villain in DC Comics. He’s intelligent, cunning, obsessive, rich, and good old-fashioned evil. His motivations vary, but they are usually along the lines of him wanting to take over the world and have control over super-beings or metahumans to do his own evil bidding.

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In JLU, he’s the most enduring villain. Ever. He plants seeds to give himself power in the government for access to totally classified research and documentation of metahuman and super-human existence. He even runs and gets elected to the presidency in an alternative reality. This really sends Superman off the deep end.

His obsession with power and knowledge is also referenced in Smallville, where Lex’s character is probably the most well-written version that I’ve ever seen or read. Here, he becomes so obsessed with Clark’s and metahumans (re: meteor freaks) abilities that he spirals into a cold-hearted killer and unforgiving foe. We get to see his journey into the nemesis of Superman as he gets sick and tired of all of the lies and deceit from Clark and those around him. He takes matters into his own hands and answers his own questions.

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When he succumbs to his darkness, it’s a beautiful thing to watch. Michael Rosenbaum totally nails Lex Luthor and you can’t help but root for the bad guy. Clark tries to cover up so much and in return, Lex becomes outraged with how naive Clark thinks he is. There’s often humor in Lex’s reproach to Clark, other essential characters, and the many scientists and researchers he often has doing his dirty work.

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Bye, Felicia.

You can’t help but laugh as Lex one-ups everyone. There’s a very Shakespearian and poetic relationship between him and Clark, as he initially just wants Clark to trust and love him like a brother. His own father doesn’t show much approval or affection towards him, so he seeks out love and acceptance from the Kents. Of course, they never trust him enough to let him all in. Jonathan, especially.

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As much as I can go on about Smallville and Bruce Timm’s animated version of Lex Luthor, I have to talk about Snyder’s version, played by Jesse Eisenberg.

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Sigh…

I’ll start by saying that yes, he made me laugh, but I absolutely did not take him seriously as Lex Luthor. His mumbling about gods, demons, and power came off as unhinged and annoyingly snarky. Basically, he was his The Social Network Mark Zuckerberg character in a Zack Snyder world. Actually, he was just Jesse Eisenberg in a Zack Snyder world. And that wig! It would be more tolerable if the wig was acknowledged as a wig on Lex’s bald head. But to pretend that it was Lex’s actual hair just makes the character appear more ridiculous and clownish.

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I want to see someone with a more authoritative and strong demeanor play Lex Luthor. I can throw out a ton of actors’ names like Ralph Fiennes, Michael Fassbender (who’s busy playing Magneto in the Marvel/Fox cinematic universe), Thomas Jane, Julian McMahon, Luke Evans, Mark Strong, hell even Michael Rosenbaum could reprise the role and take it to new heights on the big screen. But no, we get Jesse Eisenberg. It would be nice to have someone stand toe to toe with Superman and Batman in stature and strike the fear in those around him. Jesse Eisenberg is more annoying than anything else. I had a hard time trying to figure out what he was saying (or why he was saying it) and what his motivations are besides the fact that he’s Lex Luthor, so he has to be the bad guy.

Here’s what Zack Snyder said about his version of Lex in Entertainment Weekly –

“He’s not any of the Lexes that you’ve seen, that’s for sure, other than him being a captain of industry and one person to the world and another person to himself. And bald, of course. Our Lex is disarming and he’s not fake. He says what he believes and he says what’s on his mind. If you can unravel the string and decipher what he means, it’s all there.”

Since this is a revamped live-action Lex Luthor apart from the Smallville and Superman Returns Lex (played by Kevin Spacey who is acceptable as the old fashioned Lex Luthor), I imagined that he would be a closer version to his animated counterpart. Proving to be undoubtedly evil, funny, strong-willed, and even kind of dashing – in that bad boy sort of way. These previous versions of Lex were just as adamant about their desire to be in control, and we didn’t have to solve a ton of riddles to figure that out.

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Wait, I’m getting to the best part…

When he kidnaps Lois in the film, I wanted her to throw a punch or shove him. I’m 100% sure that he couldn’t take her. He would probably frail on the ground. She just calls him “psychotic” and he feels like he has just been complimented. When Superman shows up, I just shook my head in disbelief that he didn’t just throw Lex off of the building (onto something that wouldn’t actually kill him during landing) or quickly and easily knock him unconscious. But no, the little twerp spews out his dangerous plan and runs the show.

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I guess you didn’t like my evil plan.

Now, what would I do to have seen Superman and Lex actually go at it. That would have been more satisfying than seeing Batman and Supes fight. The battle suit that Batman has could just as easily have been the green kryptonite suit that Lex builds in the animated universe.

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Really?

Wonder Wonder…Is She With You?

We finally get to see Wonder Woman on the big screen…with Superman and Batman! It’s really a huge milestone and something that DC Comics fans have been waiting for since forever. I mentioned how much of a pleasure it is to see the Justice League in live-action, but to finally see Wonder Woman in a live-action film is something that I really cannot put into words. Sure, there were a ton of expectations. From what you’ve read so far, you can tell that I put a lot of faith and respect in the Bruce Timm animated versions of these characters. So yeah, I was looking forward to seeing that type of Wonder Woman in BvS.

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The animated versions of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman are self-assured and forthright. In BvS, they seem to be holding back or second guessing or slightly less confident in themselves (with Bruce Wayne / Batman as an exception). Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman is confident (cocky) and she definitely kicks butt, but her Diana is more blah than the version in JL. She kind of just appears and disappears and takes her time getting to the Doomsday (and I’ll get to him momentarily) fight. Of course, she shows up just in time before Batman becomes a shish kabob.

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I want to see more of Diana Prince and what she is up to throughout the film – other than just going to lavish parties, riding in jets, and chilling in her hotel room checking email. There’s also something a little off about Gal Gadot’s acting. Don’t get me wrong, she does an amazing job, but she seems a little detached. I get that the character is this Amazonian warrior princess, but Gadot’s ‘dead eyes’ made me feel like she wasn’t really Diana / Wonder Woman, but just an actress doing what she thought the character would do. Saying the lines. Going through the motions. Maybe we’ll get more from her in the Wonder Woman solo film. I’m excited to see Diana’s origins story and I’m rooting and ‘waiting for Gadot’ to show more expression in her damn eyes.

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I would also like to add, once again, that it was fantastic to see Wonder Woman on the big screen. However, I feel like when she finally shows up to the battle, the CGI becomes a little over the top-top and I couldn’t really enjoy the fact that Wonder Woman was freaking battling Doomsday on the big screen. I do love that Snyder allowed Diana and Bruce to flirt like in the animated series.

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There’s a great chemistry between Batman and Wonder Woman in JL. It’s along the lines of yeah, Bruce is a ninja, but Diana is something of a god and she falls for this brooding guy that dresses like a bat.

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Then, she always seems to be the one to save him when he falls short to hang in there with his super-powered conrads. We even see this in BvS where Batman kind of hangs out while Wonder Woman and Superman fight off Doomsday. When Doomsday targets him, his best strategy is to run away as fast as he can. I think this is where some of the humor seeps in.

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Wonder Woman kind of just shows up dressed in her warrior gear and Batman and Superman have to ask each other if she’s with either of them. Now, this confuses me, because I can understand Superman’s confusion as he hadn’t interacted with her before this point, but Bruce has and has seen her photo from the early 1900s in Lex’s metahuman files. Why was he asking who she was with? Maybe he just thinks all of the super-powered folks must roll together. He is just now on good terms to work with Superman. For all he knows, Clark and Diana could have been working together this whole time. He doesn’t know either of their origins.

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Hello…it’s ME!

I won’t even talk about the actual battle between Batman and Superman, because I was wincing the whole time watching it. It was just ridiculous (and predictable) and the reason Batman lets up is even more ridiculous.

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Gotta go save Martha!

The Rest of the League

And speaking of metahuman files, my favorite part of the whole film is seeing The Flash, Cyborg, and Aquaman make their cameos. Even though the setup is a little bizarre: Bruce shares the files via email to Diana. I think that Snyder could have structured the appearances in a less clunky and more believable fashion. And why the hell did Lex have the ‘cinematic logos’ on the files? Is he making the films? I feel like the clips were honestly just rough footage from the upcoming Justice League film. But nonetheless, I am pleased that their existence is included in BvS. The DC Comics super-powered team is actually happening on the big screen and I can’t stop smiling about it.

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I’m excited to see what the group accomplishes together and how they layout roots for other members to join in the future. I want to see similar versions of the JL animated characters portrayed in live-action.

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Green Arrow: I think you guys forgot someone…

Smallville set the tone for ambition along with the current DC Comics live-action series.  We got to meet, AquamanImpulse (The Flash)Cyborg , and The Green ArrowI really want to see what can be done with these characters in the cinematic universe. There was so much expectation for Ben Affleck’s Batman and I really feel like Snyder can really make this Batman stick. Now, here’s to hope that Suicide Squad’s The Joker will be above amazing to counter Batman. Jared Leto has big shoes to fill after Heath Ledger’s stunning portrayal of the character. His Joker is big enough to last a lifetime. Pretty excited to see Harley Quinn on the big screen too.

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Doom and Doomsday

While we’re talking about DC Comics villains, Doomsday is the big foe that comes in to deliver well, doom. Can I just say that I wasn’t surprised nor was I amazed to see this character. The trailers and promos actually made me numb during majority of the film. I knew pretty much everything that was going to happen – well the major plot points. I knew Wonder Woman was coming (she would have been a huge surprise if Warner Bros would have kept her appearance under wraps), I knew that Doomsday would show up and be created by Lex Luthor (I’ll get to this in a bit), and I knew that Superman and Batman would stop fighting and work together in the end to stop Doomsday. ALL of this was in the trailers.

The trailers took a lot of the fun out of the film for me. Sure, I had the choice to watch them or not, but I look to trailers to be made aware of upcoming films not to have them spoiled. And every time I watch a trailer, I smack myself for falling for it. For being lured in and having majority of the film spelled out. I’m really going to take this to heart and avoid any other trailers for Suicide Squad, Captain America: Civil War, and X-Men: Apocalypse. I may actually avoid movie trailers and promos entirely. I can almost bank on how much more satisfying the moving-going experience will be for me.

What I am glad that wasn’t in the film is Superman’s fate at the end of the film. It could have been executed more gracefully, but it still came as something of a surprise. Though, I read comics so it wasn’t that surprising to the point that I jumped out of my seat screaming. I just nodded in approval that it was depicted in this cinematic universe. I can’t wait to see how Justice League takes off from here. Seeing Diana and Bruce at Clark’s funeral was great, but not that believable considering Bruce campaigns to take out Superman throughout majority of the film. Diana still hadn’t shared an actual conversation with Clark. So, how? It’s mostly because Snyder is just setting up Justice League and the audience needs to see that oh, they’re an actual team and believe in each other. They’re friends.

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Bruce’s line about not letting Clark down is the nail in the coffin. I literally looked around the theater to see if anyone else was in as much disbelief as I was. It took all my might to not blurt out…WHAT? The whole patriotic funeral for Superman was enough to make me want to walk out of the theater. Wasn’t the government at odds with Superman and now he’s being honored at his funeral? We never actually got to see Superman and the government officials come to some sort of mutual understanding. Maybe in Man of Steel with the military, but not in BvS. We just get a montage of Superman saving folks in the early part of the film. Cry me a river.

And Clark leaves a ring for Lois? Again, I still want to see where their relationship develops into that level of commitment. Who’s name is on the lease at that apartment they’re living in? Then, there’s the very last scene…inevitable. No surprise. Superman might as well have punched through the coffin. I had to stifle my anger and try to hold on to the love I have for DC Comics and these characters. But, they were pushing it.

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Just to clarify, I’m not mentioning all of this to support that I hated the film, because I honestly didn’t hate it. I was just not surprised and I was too distracted by plot-holes and unanswered questions. Was the film beautifully shot? You bet. Zack Snyder has a way with his camerawork and an eye for special effects. I loved seeing Superman’s flight and Wonder Woman moved like art. 

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I just had too many expectations for the film. It isn’t exactly a sequel to Man of Steel nor is it an origins story for the new Batman. It is kind of something to just tie us over between Man of Steel and Justice League. Snyder lays out the groundwork, but things were hard to decipher at points and motivations were unclear (Lex) while others were formed under false pretenses (Batman).

Why did we need Batman and Superman to be at odds? The film could have been about several future Justice League members (Batman and Wonder Woman) called together to support or defend Superman and allow his side to be aired after the chaos of Man of Steel. They could reflect on their own origins using anecdotes (flashbacks) of how they accepted their abilities to be able to save the world. A stronger Lex could have easily been the foe (with him obsessed with Zod) or a better drawn out creation of Doomsday and his rage on the city (and world) could have been the tie to have them all work together.

Bruce interacting more with Clark and the both of them meeting Diana then strategizing to stop Lex from gaining too much power within the government as he’s inspired by Zod – would have made much more sense, plot wise. Then, the Flash could zoom in from the future to warn them about Darkseid. Something that is actually great in BvS, is Bruce’s dream sequence of a Darkseid infested society with Superman clearly gone bad.

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The Flash warning Bruce about [a rogue/dark] Superman and Lois being the key [to Superman regaining his humanity] is one of my favorite scenes in the film. I was only annoyed that these sequences were dreams and how Bruce just shrugs them off.  Does he always have nightmares? Maybe they’re a result of seeing his parents killed right in front of him? Was The Flash’s warning not a dream, but something else?

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Also, let me backtrack. I still have yet to see a satisfying version of a live-action Doomsday. I really wish that he could talk as that would make him more menacing. Also, wasn’t he just Zod, but deformed? Did Zod still have his memories? And how the fudge did Lex have such an easy access to Kryptonian tech and science? Seriously, if Clark could sense when Lois is near a fate close to death in her many hostage and reckless situations – how come he couldn’t sense when his planet’s tech is being used? Why the fudge hadn’t he known about it still being in the hands of the government after the whole Zod showdown? Shouldn’t he have been on a mission to keep Zod’s body and that ship away from prying human hands?

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If Superman was to ever exercise a stance against the government, it should be to guard anything and everything Kryptonian from humans. He killed Zod, so wouldn’t he have had some sort of Kryptonian burial for him after how bad he felt when he snapped his neck?

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Where was Jor-El’s corporeal memory to warn Clark about what could be created from Zod with the tech and science on the ship? Actually, what kind of tech and science was on that ship to even allow Lex to use his own blood to create a deformed Kryptonian beast as a weapon of destruction? I just have so many questions.

And honestly, Doomsday was more frightening in the animated series. The CGI in BvS just made him off to be another fake thing in the movie. Not believable and not effective. The Abomination in The Incredible Hulk was more exciting and scary. All Doomsday did was blow stuff up. The heated eyes didn’t phase me and his quick exit was just as much unsatisfying. Doomsday is a big and important foe in the DC Comics universe. He should have been shot up into space or weakened and locked up in a heavily armed and secured government facility with the ability to come back in future films. This would make him more incredible and more frightening. It’s basically what JL the animated series does and it works.

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I really am excited for The Justice League live-action film, and I seriously hope that it answers a lot of questions and has far better writing and execution of events and plot. If Darkseid is the main foe, he should be larger than life. I also want to see Granny Goodness make an appearance too with her eerily manly voice that always creeps me the heck out. Since Superman is for sure coming back to life, his fight with Darkseid needs to be epic, again like in JLU. Superman gives an incredible speech during their battle. It’s absolutely epic.

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She was even on Smallville.

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So, my final verdict is that Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (such a bloated title, by the way) is a great way to tie us die-hard fans over until Justice League premieres. The long wait and excessive promotion of the film created huge expectations, especially with what we know is possible with superhero assembly films like The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, and X-Men. There was just so much material that could have been used from JLU, a series that I feel is an exceptional depiction of some of the best storylines in DC Comics.

Again, I realize that Zack Snyder and Warner Bros have their plans to recreate or reimagine these characters and their stories. Maybe we need a Kevin Feige type figure to step in, or maybe WB has everything under control. I just hope that they aren’t too concerned with catching up with Marvel and Fox and in the process delivering a bloated mess rather than a careful planned out DC Comics cinematic universe. We’ll see. The film didn’t turn me away, so I will be looking forward to what’s to come. 

Critic Rebecca Cusey from The Federalist describes the film perfectly –

Too competent to be universally panned, too disjointed to be universally praised, too anticipated to be a new revelation, too beloved in subject to be easily dismissed, the film will be one people either passionately love or passionately hate.

Despite critics overall panning of the film, it continues to flourish and be successful according to the the numbers at the box-office.

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Plus, if I had to give only one reason to stick around, it would be to see Ezra Miller as The Flash.

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P.S. Though it was under unfortunate circumstances, I loved seeing Jeffrey Dean Morgan in the film. Glad to see him and Zack Snyder collabing again. He is amazing in The Watchmen.

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What did you think of the film?

‘Til next time.

 

TV: Supernatural

Music Recommendation: “Space Oddity” by David Bowie

I’ve watched this show since day one. I still remember the premiere night on The WB. All of the advertisement / promos (2:38) had me at Two Brothers, Saving People, Hunting Things. I was even more sold when I noticed that the two brothers were Jared Padalecki (Dean from Gilmore Girls) and Jensen Ackles (Jason from Smallville). It was like fulfilling a The WB fan’s ultimate wish of having actors from two of their favorite shows team up for a whole new show. I was ready to see some references to the other shows (and Gilmore Girls was actually mentioned as an early meta-moment on the series) and I was just excited to see the actors become two new characters.

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You guys don’t know it yet, but there’s a long road ahead of you.

So, I don’t watch horror movies. I get the most intense nightmares and my body physically and mentally start to shut down if I see a horror movie character that’s utterly frightening and nightmarish. However, I grew up with family members that love horror movies. So unfortunately due to this – I’ve actually seen a few of them. Who wants to sit in a room by themselves when everyone else is in the living room watching scary movies?

The volume is turned up and the walls seem to close in on you. I decided I’d rather sit in the living room with them. At least they were there to protect me. Sometimes I would just cover my eyes while still hearing everything. Other times I would just watch the movie and pray that I wouldn’t dream about Leprechaun, Freddy, or Pennywise (I only lasted through the first 2-5 minutes of ‘It’, before I was like hell no). This was basically me.

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That was scary!

Fortunately, there were some movies that were less horror and more supernatural like The Craft, Blade (trilogy)The FacultyUnderworld (all of them)Interview With A Vampire, The Mummy (first two), and many others that I found intriguing and fascinating. I was drawn to the mythical worlds and ‘other-worldly’ phenomena. The supernatural. Witches and vampires were my favorite to watch. There was just something about magic and (and even science) that has always kept me glued to the screen and buried in the books.

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With that, I was attracted to seeing a TV series about urban legends, dark fairytales, magic, and other-worldly stories. The premise of Supernatural seemed to keep all of the ‘supernatural stuff’ somewhat grounded in reality. When it came to all of the religious tropes, legends, and characters, I was fully invested. I felt like the show was truly teaching me something. I’m not even all that religious, just more so spiritual. I like to think I am as rational as they come, but uniquely open-minded at the same time. I’d say something like, maybe witches do exist – but they certainly don’t fly on brooms or have talking black cats. Or, if there are fairies in this world, they certainly don’t have wings.

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I think that’s why these types of films and television series (Charmed, Smallville, Angel, Buffy, Roswell, etc.) have always had a special place in my heart. Clearly, I don’t see this type of stuff everyday, so my eyes are wide open to seeing what types of paranormal things can happen on screen. Maybe some things hit closer to reality than others, like practicing voodoo (and witchcraft) and biblical protests and outcry. But other things like  vampires, werewolves, leprechauns, fairies, The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and angels and demons are all far out there. Though, I enjoy each incarnation of the stories as I can take from literature, cinema and television.

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Must be that evil spirit broad that we’re gunning for.

It really helps that Sam and Dean are human (at least for the most part during the earlier seasons) and they walk into these situations ready to kick some butt. I like to think that I view all of this madness through them instead of all of the victims in the series, because Sam and Dean know what to do and how to make these creepy things go away. And the victims – well, they’re victims. I don’t want to be them.

So, let’s talk Supernatural.

Dean Winchester

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You can’t be a SPN (Supernatural) fan without loving Dean Winchester. He is just a damn good character. I was partially excited about seeing Jensen in this role because of watching him on Smallville. So I was already invested in what he could bring to this new series. And there’s so much depth to Dean that I don’t even know where to start.

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Hmm…

First off, who doesn’t love a guy that can kick some demon a**, eat a whole pie, polish up his whip (um, his car), play some sweet classic rock tunes, battle with himself about how he could do better at saving his brother from the dark side, bromance with his favorite angelic amigo, woo the ladies, bicker with his little bro, bicker at imminent victims when they’re just asking for it or at guys that actually go chasing after the paranormal (Ghost Facers, vampire fans, etc.), and can eat a greasy burger and fries from the nearest whole-in-the-wall diner joint before the day’s over with? And there’s actually so much more to all of this.

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Dean is just so relatable and believable in terms of all of the crap that he, Sam, and co. have to put up with. He’s the macho guy that will definitely scope out the ladies in the room during an interrogation. He spends most of his time of the road – with his brother – so there’s no shame. He’s just so rock ‘n roll. And if scoring a few phone numbers doesn’t pan out, there’s always the menu.

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In all seriousness though, Dean has been through a lot on SPN. Literally going to hell and back in the past decade and some change. He’s hit those points where he’s like why do I even keep trying? Sure, he kicks some butt, but there seems to always be something bigger, badder, or just more annoying and cunning around the corner to screw with him!

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Really? I just saved the damn world!

So when it’s all said and done and you can’t catch air with your bare hands (because that’s how I see Sam and Dean’s plight to saving the world) you have to think about all of the good in the world and all the better things that you could be doing or eating like…

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Then you have all of the classic hits rock out to, because what’s better to listen to on the road than some Queen, Zeppelin, KISS, and even some Asia. Demons, you may be taking over the world. And angels, you may be as corrupt as the demons, but damnit I still have my Bon Jovi.

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Even when Sam is busy losing his soul (oh, and I haven’t forgotten that Dean becomes Dean-mon [get it] in season 10 – I’m just using my selective memory here) or sleeping with a demon or being possessed by a rogue angel, Dean fights for those moments where he can just be with Sammy, his little…

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Sam Winchester

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Alright, alright. So I came to this show for this face. For Jared Padalecki. For that innocent grin / moody-brooding lovable face. I loved him in Gilmore Girls and I was ticked that he was leaving the show, but I was stoked that he had his own show coming with another The WB star. I was also excited that Jared was playing the younger brother and the studious type, because Gilmore Girls basically had him as an average Joe. Smart, but not the genius and studious type like Rory. Anyway, this was a whole new show giving Jared a whole new attitude. I couldn’t be more ready to watch.

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While I’m discussing Sam, I loved pre-season four Sam with his short shaggy hair and his lanky physique. I don’t know if his physical appearance coincided with his character’s demeanor and personality, but he was just so adorable during the earlier seasons. And he also really emphasized how much he struggled to be in the family business vs. rather being in law school and having a normal life. The thing is, when you live in the world of SPN, and you’re 100% aware of all that goes bump in the night, there’s no way that you can just go to law school and be normal. Because law school isn’t normal.

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No more Mr. Nice guy.

So, Sam had to buckle down and hop on the bandwagon with Dean and poppa Winchester, because there’s no point in wanting a normal life when there are so many forces making sure that you can’t. You have to fight for the life that you want and fight for those that are oblivious to all of the evil in the world (or at least in Midwest America).

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And In terms of his family, yeah, Sam had some issues with John and the fact that Dean was kind of following in John’s footsteps. Sam was the sensitive one, thinking about how the forces of evil robbed his opportunity to ever be a normal guy. To spend time with his family during a normal holiday or bring home his girlfriend to meet them. Demons had a way of taking away the women in Sam’s life (his mom and Jess) so if anything, he just regretted that this was the life for him. Being a hunter. He foresaw beautiful things in life that he could never have. Or, he would have to spend a long time fighting to have.

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Does it ever stop?

I felt for Sam. I really did. He loved his big brother and wanted his dad to be safe, but he hated that he had to give up so much more. A life. The irony is, Sam was the good son, but somehow was destined to be evil or to go dark (first). His story in the first few seasons seemed to come full circle. Finding out that he had demon blood and was chosen to lead a demon army, splitting up the two Winchester brothers and choosing the least suspected one. Even I didn’t see that coming. I also didn’t see this coming…

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Because wow, Jared Padalecki was filling out and he was definitely not skipping arm, leg, chest, or back day. Sam had become a beefcake. Like, I couldn’t take him seriously as the little brother anymore and was (still am) torn on how I felt about that. He could throw Dean around a few times without breaking a sweat (and did when they were pitted against each other). Sam could also handle his own now. If he wanted to go rogue – he could and I wouldn’t worry about him easily dying (or not coming back). But, I would worry about him coming back evil, because an evil version of this fitted guy – whoa. Trouble. I just miss the times where he was sweet and adorable and calling Dean a…

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The Family Business

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The show begins with Sam and Dean following in their father’s, John, footsteps to solve some of the supernatural cases across the (mostly Mid-West) country. As boys, John prepared them to be aware and cautious of things that go bump in the night, especially since their mother was killed by a supernatural force. Some time down the line, John decided to go solo on a “hunting trip”. It had been years since all three of them went on a case, with Sam leaving the family business and going off to Stanford University. Dean shows up and warns Sam that John is missing and it’s time to get back into action. The first season centers around Sam and Dean looking for John while using his journal to solve cases that aren’t suited for regular investigators or FBI agents.

And did I forget to mention that [older] John Winchester was played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan? Guys, I have the biggest screen crush on JDM. Even before I started watching Grey’s Anatomy, I was in love with his mug. His eyes. His smile. His charm. He just exudes charm. Even on Supernatural as the gritty, broody John Winchester, I found him absolutely dashing. He’s got that whole kill ’em with kindness appeal. It’s also amazing how much he and Jensen Ackles favor each other. Great casting.

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The whole find John storyline in season one was fantastic. The boys were following in his footsteps and using his clues to all of the evil crap out there and the ways that they could fight said evil crap. The human element to all of this was that their dad was missing and possibly dead. But, he was kind of like a Mufasa (in theory) to the boys. Guiding them to their destiny. Or, leading them to where he was waiting for them. Because John had all of the answers.

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Finding him didn’t necessarily mean that they could just hug it out and slap backs telling funny stories about their journey along the way. No. Hell no. The boys were pissed, because John was actually alive and well. Oh and he was on a hot trail to the thing that killed their mother, Mary. He could have let them know that he was alive or that he was on a trail or that he didn’t want them in the line of fire. But, weren’t they always going to be in the line of fire?

The fact of the matter is that they pretty much thought  that John was dead. That they were orphans. So, they were pissed that they had to believe and feel this. Then, poof, no just kidding. Then, you know they were ready and willing enough to face the thing that killed Mary. It’s a family matter and they should all go down swinging in their mom’s honor. How dare John go at it alone? It’s the FAMILY business. Yeah, I’m not completely irrational. I understand that John had his reasons. He just seemed a little too suicidal for my liking. Even if he was doing it for Mary.

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I really do appreciate the time traveling / alternative realities where we get to see what was and what could have been – in terms of the Winchester family. It’s a powerful thing to start a series off with a loving parent and having that parent die during the first few minutes of the first episode. Guess that’s why I love super hero legends as most of the time, the super heroes begin their quest after the catalyst of losing parents / family.

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Flashbacks and Throwbacks.

I love that Sam and Dean were given opportunities to see their family when they were around their own ages. Young, fresh – beginning this good vs. evil fight. Sam and Dean were given the time to spend with their folks after losing the both of them in their actual reality. There’s something about being able to see so little of John and Mary as their older selves (even less of Mary) and then getting to go back in time and see them in another time, being oblivious to the future and to the fact that the two grown men in front of them are their children. And that their children have been through a whole lot. Though, the look on young Mary’s face in the above picture just hints at her actual awareness that something is not right and of her hunter capabilities. She doesn’t trust so easily as the hunter life has hardened her. I love the twist that her family was the hunter side and that she became a hunter long before John did.

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Idjits!

Bobby. Dear ol’ Bobby. I really miss having him around. He was definitely the father figure that the boys needed after John passed. He took care of the more below the line necessities in the hunter life. Like making sure that everyone had fake identities to fly under the radar as well as having an adequate amount of books and lore on the evils and whatnot. He also represented history and proof that a hunter could live at least until their 50s. Not bad?  Bobby had been around the block a few times and could pick up on cues to what evil was making a return or what felt familiar and how it could be stopped. Things were less of a surprise to him and more of an opportunity to teach the next generation. I definitely saw Bobby as the parent-type, figuratively (and literally?) paying bills and keeping up shop while the kiddos went off and did their work…hunting. Bobby taught them a thing or two and kept them together, as a family. Because the hunter life is hard-knock life.

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Squad.

And Bobby was just one pivotal part of the extended Winchester family. Ellen and Jo fulfilled the strong women roles in the boys life, because you got to have that woman’s touch. I’ll say more on that in a bit. But just looking at the image above, I think Sam and Dean were at their happiest and most whole when they had their makeshift family: an actual angel as a close friend, two hunter ladies that understood the lifestyle – one being a mother figure and the other a possible romantic figure for Dean – and of course, Bobby. Good times.

Bros Over Demons

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Ever since they were boys, Sam and Dean have had to stick together no matter what. Their blood always pulled them back together despite situations that would easily tear any other relationship apart: like going to hell, losing a soul, etc. A brilliant aspect of the show is the emphasis on family and brotherhood through thick and thin. These guys literally went to hell and back and the #1 thing that they care about and hold dear is saving one another. Keeping their family alive. Keeping them out of harms way.

As the older brother, Dean had to look out for Sam and for the most part, he wanted Sam to stay pure. To somehow not let the darkness consume or eat away at him. The business is a hard life and though we see that Sam is capable of kicking some butt and taking some names, his heart was never fully into being a hunter. Dean’s destiny seemed to be following and becoming John. But, with Dean desiring to keep Sam and hunting at arms length, he also needed him to have his back. He needed Sam to want to find John. He needed Sam to save him. So, they were bound to bump heads on a number of occasions.

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And something that I find ironic, and you probably do too if you’ve been keeping up with the series, is that Dean seems to be the most pure from the evil that tries to change and corrupt them. Sure, he keeps his feelings bottled up until he just can’t anymore. Sure, he’s the macho one that tends to easily get pissed off. Sure, he’s the oldest with the most responsibility. But with all that said and done, his mission has always been clear: Keep Sammy alive. Keep his family together. Fight the good fight.

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As the series progressed, Sam seemed to be the easy target and the easiest to be swayed or corrupted. He never really seemed to have Dean’s back as much as Dean had his. I think I lost faith in Sam after he came back from hell without his soul in season six. From then, I just didn’t trust him. No matter how much Dean ‘forgave’ or trusted him when he got his soul back. Sam just wasn’t the kid brother / innocent one anymore. Not in my eyes. I missed when he had his little shaggy hairdo and served as the shy/research wiz.

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Just look how cute Sam was.

The show tried a ton of things to re-humanize Sam and put the brothers back on track, but I just didn’t see the same relationship that the boys had in the beginning. Too much had happened. Too much had changed the both of them. They continued to love and save each other, but there seemed to be a thick glass wall between them. It doesn’t help that they’re constantly pulled apart due to different alliances.

I Think I'm Gonna Like it Here

And speaking of brothers, will we ever see or hear about this guy again?

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They left me in hell. How rude!

Castiel 

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The angels have landed. Season four was quite the surprise for me. I spent the end of season three basically holding my breathe as the concept of hell was being more and more depicted and the boys, at least one of them, would be heading there fairly soon. We’ve seen the possessions and black eyed demons consume a number of victims, but hell being an actual place and destination – kind of twisted my stomach into knots.

For me, the scariest seasons will always be seasons 1-2, with season 3 still being one of my favorite in terms of when it was just Sam and Dean being the main characters. There’s just that core premise that I cherish of the story being about two brothers. Nevertheless, season four was dope! I mean come on, angels? Really? In this dark world of SPN? I was excited just to see how they would be depicted based on what we’ve seen as the evil in the SPN universe. And the fact that they even existed in the SPN universe after having seen all for the crappy things that had happened to Sam and Dean. Like seriously, we could have used an angel or five back in seasons one, two, and three.

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But I’ll never forget the experience of seeing Castiel introduced on the show. His entrance is one of the best of the new characters (after Lucifer’s). There were just so many feelings happening as I was seeing the portrayal of an angel on this show. Sure, I had seen angels before on screen – I’m a huge fan of Nicholas Cage’s City of Angels.

It was just that angels existed in the SPN world. It seemed like the show was steeping into new territory and the boys only slightly alluded to actually believing that angels existed in the previous seasons. I guess it all made sense seeing as Dean was dragged to hell at the end of season three. The show was getting more into religious lore / myth and I couldn’t help but be excited to learn what ‘characters’ would be introduced that I could reference back into biblical study. To see a future portrayal of God or Lucifer actually frightened me, but I was more curious than anything else.

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After a an exceeding amount of [corrupt] angels (no, seriously, most of the time the angels were causing more harm than the demons) and I couldn’t help but sigh and roll my eyes every time they showed up with their questionable and dry antics to stop the other side or teach Sam and Dean a lesson. I mean, at least the demons were humorous at times and rightfully made a mess of things. I understood that they were the bad guys and that they understood their place as well. But the angels were becoming too self-righteous and I absolutely did not understand how they were supposedly the good guys. How were they even angels? But you know, it’s television and if the angels came to save the day, what would Sam and Dean have to do?

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With my whole lack of faith (pun intended) in the angels on the show though, I enjoyed seeing Castiel constantly getting stripped of his powers and his character becoming more humanized. His dry arrogance become more of a gag to have him learn how to ‘come down to earth’ and be a regular guy and learn the basic nuances of us human folk.

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What better way to humanize Cas than to have him tweeting and being really excited about indulging in social media? Because yeah, we live in those times. Season six’s The French Mistake episode really caught me off guard (in a good way) and I saw the show through this new lens of the characters actually being characters and the actors should be given so much credit for their portrayals of them. Misha Collins exceeded my expectations in his portrayal of…Misha Collins. I don’t think I ever laughed so hard watching the series.

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Also, the beauty of having Castiel on the show alleviated some of that need to see Dean trust and bond with someone other than Sam – as their relationship was changing. Castiel being the one to pull Dean out of hell and give him further purpose to fight the good fight all the more sealed his pivotal presence in Dean’s life. Someone else besides Sam was important enough to fight and sacrifice for. And don’t get me wrong, I love Sammy, but sometimes I just don’t believe in his efforts.

I enjoy seeing the bromance between the guys, but Castiel and Dean can really tug at my heart strings. I personally love seeing Dean’s emotional and vulnerable side, so the fact that Castiel can push him to that level makes him a no-brainer choice addition to the cast.

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Even though Castiel is the powerful divine-being of the trio, he constantly puts his own faith in the Winchester brothers. He believes that they are more than just two humans throwing punches – but two of God’s sons that are equally in this world for the right reasons. It’s also nice to have him around when demons decide to pay a visit. I love seeing Cas’s nonchalant smiting.

The Ladies

chicks

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Excuse us?

So, being a chick and watching this show as a teenager – I couldn’t help but desire to see some tough women on the series. Like, sure I loved the eye-candy and seeing all of the macho-macho manly creature butt-kicking, but I was about ready for the show to represent my own gender. No, I didn’t need the show to turn Sam and Dean into boyfriends and have their girlfriends become the focus of their motivations and our attention. But, I did want to see some femininity and see the lifestyle of female hunters. Because – they existed. They had to.

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Indeed, I was really happy to meet hunter Ellen and her daughter Jo. Two kicka** ladies with some history with John Winchester. Not only did they exceed at challenging the boys, but they added depth to Sam and Dean’s characters and to the series in general. I touched on their family-oriented relationship with the boys, but that’s just the surface. With their association with John and the hunter community, I was really hoping that Ellen and Jo wouldn’t be revealed as John’s mistress (Ellen) and illegitimate daughter (Jo). I just didn’t want their characters to go in that direction, because sure I loved Ellen’s mother figure role – and even though Jo was like a sister to the boys, I held out hope that Jo and Dean would fall in love.

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I know, I know, I’m chasing my tail here as I just said that I didn’t want the boys to have girlfriends. But, Jo genuinely brought something out of Dean. To have Dean be a protective boyfriend and have him be attracted to Jo, but at the same time enjoying their old married couple bickering that he would be too embarrassed to let her know that he thought she was hot. Did that make sense? Basically, Jo was much more than a damsel and more of an equal to Dean. She kept him on his toes and biting his tongue.

They battled with each other, because there was some realness to their budding romance. I was heartbroken when Ellen and Jo didn’t make it and we had to see Dean’s heart broken. I don’t think he ever honestly cared about any other romantic partner the way he could’ve loved Jo (Not even that one chick he shacked up with when Sam went to hell). I also loved how Sam would be in the background, trying to stay out of the way of the heated bickering. Like, sorry Dean, you’re on your own. Jo’s just that scary. Maybe the scariest thing Dean has/will ever encounter. True love.

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Speaking of Sam and love – this guy made some questionable choices in the ladies department. But he and Jess seemed like the cutest and most comfortable couple. Just look at how nice the two paired off. Totally hate that we lose Jessica at the very beginning, but I think Sam’s loss jump started his tainted decisions in romance. He basically cuts off his humanity toward the next few ladies that he gets with, because Jess holds a special place in his heart and no other seemed to replace her.

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Off of the top of my head, Sam ends up hooking up with a werewolf, being swayed by a demon (Meg), becoming buddies with another demon (Ruby) and later hooking up with said demon (but played by a different actress). I’ll call her Ruby 2.0. There are other ladies also in the mix, including that one chick who’s husband returned. I wasn’t interested or invested in watching that ordeal. And yes, I do remember that Dean hooked up with a fallen angel and an Amazon that got pregnant with an rapid-aging daughter. Both Sam and Dean permanently scarred me with their romantic decisions.

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I’m the other Ruby.

And I hated Sam’s relationship with Rudy 2.0, because it just seemed so uncharacteristic (well, actually not because Sam and Dean don’t know how to choose the right ladies) of a Winchester. But, I thought Sam was suppose to be a the smart one. The fact that he was knowingly sleeping with the enemy just kind of upset me and made me more distrustful of him. He definitely wasn’t the Sam from the previous seasons. I thought that he was becoming a little twisted and basically gave up on caring to be the good guy. Plus, Ruby 2.0 bored me to tears. She just didn’t command my attention like the Ruby played by Katie Cassidy (thankfully we can now see her kicking butt on Arrow).

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Yawn.

I could talk about all of the other ladies on the show, most of them being redheads. Seriously, is there something about redheads that the show runners find symbolic to the show, or is it just a coincidence? In any case, after Ellen and Jo died, I lost interest in the female dynamic of the series.

Going Undercover 

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I have so many questions about the boys’ FBI / pastor / health coach / gym coach / whatever else disguise necessary for the case. First off, why is it so easy for the guys to just assume federal identities when there are sometimes other cops and officials casing out the scene? And in the earlier seasons, the guys just flashed a badge and weren’t even in ‘costume’. Like, who’s going to believe that they are FBI? They could’ve be in on the crime as far as the official investigation goes. I mean, they do know a lot about some of the incriminating details – wouldn’t they be able to help out some of the cops who are just doing their job to save the day? Maybe?

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And then it starts to get ridiculous with the quick flashes of the badge and their interrogations to know more details about the strange cases. Wouldn’t victims and witnesses be just a little more on their toes about talking to just anybody? Badge or no badge. I guess that’s where Bobby came in with all of the phone lines and whatnot. But seriously, when Cas gets in on the disguises it’s just even more unbelievable.

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Am I doing this right?

I do love when the guys dress in their suits though. Dean is good at interrogating while Sam is the sympathetic one. Basically – bad cop and good cop, respectively. I don’t even know what I would call Cas. If he isn’t appearing to be absent-minded or stand-offish, he’s just plain ol’ goofy. Back in seasons two and three, the guys were made and their identities were no longer so secret. The show really let them have it in terms of what could happen when the real cops could lock you up for impersonating cops, or for withholding information on cases, being too close to the case that you actually appear guilty, or for just getting involved in places where ‘normal’ people shouldn’t be sticking their noses. Like, who gave them special permission to solve the gruesome murders and unusual activity? After all, being a hunter is unofficial business.

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Another question that I have is, why don’t the guys let the cops know who they are and what they do? Let them in on the supernatural world with some proof. Maybe they could become liaisons with all of the official crime investigators. I think that would save them a lot of trouble with the cops arresting them or having to have fake phone lines and get cheap suits. Maybe the guys could earn some extra dough and be official. Not having to scramble up news clippings or do all of that extra research. With funding from the government, hunters could have top-notch research equipment at their fingertips. Though, that path could go sideways in so many ways. I guess you can’t put a price on saving the world, huh? *But who pays for all of their weapons and their clothes? Food?

Seriously, what if the FBI had a demon-specialist division or protocol on what to do when Lucifer ascends? Hospitals could be on stand-by waiting for all of the victims stabbed after possessions. If I was a normal human in the world of SPN, I would want to be informed that demons, angels and the paranormal walked among us. There could be special training in exorcisms and how-to-guides on what to do when you come across a Wendigo. Sam and Dean and hunters in general could make a fortune. They could also reduce the amount of lives taken. Just give them clearance at the FBI and special forces. Because they specialize in supernatural forces.

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But we would miss out on seeing this.

Diners and Motels

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If we’re talking earlier seasons before Sam and Dean had the Men of Letters fortress, which is basically an actual place to call their own, we could relish on the goodness of having the guys utilize diners and motels as their places of business and residence. Some of my favorite situations took place where Sam and Dean were getting a meal and going over the case. It’s the sense of travel and being on the road that I found uniquely interesting about Supernatural. Even though they seem to choose the same types of places to go over pivotal information, they are constantly moving and allowing us to see them surrounded by normal people going about a realistic routine like eating…

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Cas and his awkwardness / Sam and his salads

…and sleeping. They guys may be super heroes in their own rights, but they are firstly people and they need their cups of coffee, a daily shower, some food, and a bed to lay their head at the end of the day. A lot of other shows have their central and recurring meetup places like Central Perk (Friends), P3 (Charmed), The Peach Pit (Beverly Hills, 90210), The Crashdown (Roswell), etc. Supernatural uniquely has recurring places, but at the same time the guys are always somewhere different. Even in later seasons, the guys still move around and travel to cases rather than only sticking around situations that are conveniently close to their Men of Letters fortress.

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The guys are regular rolling stones.

The Music

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And speaking of rolling stones, the music in SPN cannot go unnoticed. I wonder how much the show-runners pay just for the rights to use most of the music. The music isn’t just the Top 40 “hits” like many other shows use, but some of the best classic rock tunes from the 70s, 80s, and even early 90s. The soundtrack adds to the authenticity to the characters and geography. To their family’s history and life occupation. Their lives are gritty and poetic. Very much rock and roll. You can’t help but turn up the volume when something largely exciting is moving the story forward and Bon Jovi is playing or when Dean is dancing to Eye of the Tiger in his impala. I’ve discovered so much good music on this series. Music that I knew, but just didn’t have saved in my iTunes library. Best believe I have my own Supernatural playlist now. Here’s one of my favorite music moments.

Dean and His Baby (Impala)

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Also supporting this story and making the nature and characters of the guys more believable is Dean’s 1967 Chevy Impala. Because, what other type of vehicle would be used to drive the story forward? Dean loves his car, nicknamed ‘Baby’, and he gets seriously butt hurt when something happens to it – which is basically all of the time.

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And Dean likes to be the one in charge of all things Baby, including driving her and choosing what music to listen to. He drives Baby as if he’s Batman driving the Batmobile. She gives him major demon hunting street cred.

As many times as Sam and Dean have died and come back, Baby herself has been resurrected quite a bit. She looks the same as the first time we saw her and we’re on season eleven. After she’s been wrecked or totaled, Dean makes it his mission to restore and bring her back to life. She’s basically a symbol for his own life and she represents this timeless connection to the Winchester family.

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The best moments with Baby are when the boys are driving down long roads and trying to figure out where they stand – with each other and with the season’s big bad. Baby keeps the boys moving and is just as much of a hero herself. She stands in for comedic moments as well, because the bad guys know that to get to Dean, all they have to do is mess with his Baby.

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SON OF A…

The Things That Go Bump in the Night

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I think the moments when Sam and Dean hunt down the baddie of the episode and figure out how to take it down are some of the most interesting segments in this series. We get to know how the baddie operates by way of the carnage from the victims and then we have Sam and Dean (and Cas) swoop in to case out the place where the baddie was last seen. As someone who doesn’t like scary movies, I sure did allow myself to be scared early on watching this show. It’s mostly due to Sam and Dean being there to explain what was causing all of the havoc and how they were going to stop it.

I have to give props (pun definitely intended) to the costume, special effects, and writing and research teams during the early seasons. I found comfort seeing Sam and Dean recite exorcisms, use rock salt to create barriers and use other charms and spells to attack and take down the creatures and baddies. Sometimes they would be so nonchalant about their job that the episodes were funny.

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For me, the scariest and coolest of the baddies include:

  • Reaper (season one’s Faith)
  • Bloody Mary (season one)
  • Hookman (season one)
  • Scarecrow (season one)
  • Djinn (season two’s What Is and What Should Never Be)
  • The Clown / Rakshasa (season two’s Everybody Loves a Clown)
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“Look mommy, another clown.”
  • Throat slashed spirit/ghost (season two’s The Usual Suspects)
  • Vampires (especially season two’s Bloodlust)
  • Werewolves (especially season two’s Heart)
  • Wendigo (season one)
  • Evil Santa and Mrs. Clause / pagan gods (season three’s A Very Supernatural Christmas)

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And the boys usually have a black and white sort of perspective in terms of what should and should not be killed. A perfect example is spirits, because no matter who they were when they were alive and how much they meant to you – they should stay dead. Bringing them back would not be bringing them back, but something hollow and virtually evil.

Also, the creatures that look human and that claim to be ‘good’ or promise to find an alternative way to live (no eating humans, drinking blood, etc.) sometimes make the boys debate on their perspective of good and evil. Because, if we’re getting philosophical – some humans are actually bad. Does being born or created into something inhuman (werewolf, vampire, whatever the heck Jewel Staite’s character was) automatically mean that you’re evil? Think about vampire Benny and werewolf Garth. Plus, what about all of the time the guys allowed Crowley to tag along. He’s the freaking King of Hell.

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The Comedy and (Meta-Situations)

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With Supernatural being a show about creatures and demons and the endless battle between good and evil, the show certainly knows how to poke fun at itself on multiple occasions. The show gives us a break from the blood and gore (to an extinct) every once in a while with an episode being meta-aware of the characters and actors in the series (Jensen being in a soap opera, Jared being in House of Wax and Gilmore Girls), making fun of the series itself with the Ghost Facers, exploiting Sam and Dean’s life with fan fiction and graphic novels written by a prophet, or having commentary on horror and supernatural films like The Exorcist and Twilight.

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I particularly love the moment at the end of The Usual Suspects (season two), when Dean asks Sam if the female detective looked familiar to him. The detective was played by Linda Blair, the star of the original The Exorcist. Dean then jokes that he’s in the mood for pea soup. Very funny.

And Supernatural didn’t shy away from dissing Twilight, which was much appreciated. I still don’t understand how millions of people were persuaded to obsess over a series with vampires that sparkled. I unfortunately got caught up in it myself, mostly because Harry Potter was ending and I wanted to continue to fangirl with the lot. Now, I would like to blackout that entire portion of my life. Like a bad dream.

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Vampires don’t sparkle!

The most notable episode that is hyper meta is season six’s The French Mistake where Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles play Sam and Dean pretending to be Jared and Jensen playing Sam and Dean. Yeah, I know. It’s the most hilarious situation ever.

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Sam pretending to be Jared acting as “Sam”.
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Dean pretending to be Jensen acting as “Dean”.

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There you go, folks. That’s about all my head can take when trying to think about my love for Supernatural. And I have to admit, while typing this post, I’ve noticed that I have no patience for the later seasons. Particularly seasons seven – eleven. Things and plot points just don’t stand out the way they did in the earlier seasons. But, I’m a loyal fan so I’ll stick around.

I’ve even been to two Supernatural conventions and got to see the cast really engage with their fans, most of them being really young or new to the series. I’ve been with the guys since day one and I am just in awe that they’re still on the air and the oldest show on The CW. They’re also the only show left from The WB. Amazing. Check out the series if you haven’t. It’s got the drama, and the horror, and the comedy, and just great chemistry between the cast and characters. I’m going to stick with it to the end.

Here’s one of my favorite season promo trailers.

 

‘Til next time.

TV: Smallville

Music Recommendation: “Weapon” by Matthew Good Band

Smallville is my favorite show. Hands down, without question. Many come close, but nothing competes with the memories spent watching this show (several times). I love Superman. He honestly gives me this [un]realistic hope that this world isn’t totally screwed up and doomed to destroy itself. There are actual writers out there who have created the ultimate hero. He believes in truth and justice. He fights for our safety. He’s from a world beyond ours, sent to correct our wrongs. He’s courageous and charismatic. He’s strong, but not a macho jerk – too difficult to connect with. He doesn’t let us get pushed around by bullies – including the government (#ARGUS #Checkmate #Cadmus). He’s some guy, to say the least. Plus, his cover is a journalist. Out of all things. He likes to be in the know and have a voice within this world that he’s saving on a reg. Did I mention that he’s easy on the eyes, too?

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Well, hey there good looking.
Ok, ok. Let’s talk Smallville.

I started watching Smallville during it’s fourth season. Flipping through the channels, I caught the episode, Devoted (on The WB), and I was hooked. Like I said, I love Superman and comics in general so automatically I was baited into being a fan of this show. To jump in on this episode was quite the experience. I had no idea who most of the characters were – but it was set in high school. From my previous posts, you know how much I love high school / teen dramas. Then, there was this guy with super strength saving his friends from being pummeled to death by jocks affected by a super gatorade-esque drink spiked with love potion from cheerleaders – WHAT!? Then, I realized the super strong guy’s name was Clark. Clark Kent. And one of the girls’ name was Lois.

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Hold the phone. As in Superman ‘Clark and Lois’?? Let me just read up on the show… It’s called SMALLVILLE. Surely enough this was a show about the teen life of Superman and his journey to becoming Superman. I hurried up and found out what channels were airing the first few seasons and never looked back! Thanks ABC Family.

The show is what got me into my other favorite sci-fi dramas including Charmed, Buffy, Angel, Roswell, Supernatural, Heroes, and Firefly. The list certainly goes on. More than just a high school drama, the show was an interesting interpretation on the story that I thought I already I knew. A funny thing about my experience with this show is that I couldn’t exactly binge watch it like I can do now a days (except for ABC Family’s marathons). I watched a few episodes out of order, because I had to catch it when it was being syndicated on ABC Family. The first episode I watched after Devoted was Zero, from season one. I was also watching season four as it aired on The WB (0:26). Basically, I was all over the place with this show and when I finally circled back to the pilot episode – I wouldn’t let anything or anyone disturb me from catching on to every name, every Superman reference, every romantic moment between Clark and Lana, because I was trying to figure out what had happened with those two while watching the current fourth season. Because you know, Lois was there.

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Clark’s default ‘playing dumb’ face.
Then, after experiencing (watching) the rocky relationship between Clark and Lana during the three seasons, Lois’s entrance to the show was a breathe of fresh air. I mean, I love Clark and Lana’s drama and romance, but after a few seasons of Clark’s lies and Lana’s demands – Lois’s quirkiness and kick-ass attitude coupled with Clark’s awkwardness was amazing to watch.

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Their chemistry was undeniable!
Now that I have watched the entire series (several times over) and own all of the seasons on DVD – I am pretty much something of an expert on all things Smallville. Here are some of the things that I absolutely love about the show, along with things that annoy me as well. There were a few things that I thought I was entitled to seeing on the show and at times (later seasons) the show didn’t live up to my expectations in terms of character interpretations and connections to the comics (and the animated Superman and Justice League series). I mean it’s my favorite show, and I am not shy to talk about some of the crap that I had to put up with while watching it as the writers were really testing me in the later seasons. So, here we go…

Clark Kent

My first impression of Clark was: Wow, he’s pretty. Seriously, Tom Welling is absolutely beautiful and back in 2001, he played the heck out of the high school freshman Clark Kent. From the comics, I expected the stereotypical terribly awkward and clumsy kind of a guy (even though Clark was faking it to mask his totally poised nature). And sure, Tom did ‘justice’ to Clark’s awkward and clumsy nature (see what I did there), but the stereotypical high school (outsider) was NOT an impression that Tom could even try to fake. I mean, the guy looked like a modern day prince charming. Gorgeous.

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His eyes alone could pierce right through you (even without the heat vision)! Now, enough with my semi-objectifying of Tom Welling. His portrayal of how lonely Clark was and how strongly he just wanted to fit in and be a normal teenager in high school was believable, especially scenes where he would tower over everyone as they moved out and about their lives without him.

Due to his burgeoning super powers, early on in the series he had to miss out on being a part of sports (football), being totally honest about this whereabouts (when he was saving people), and dating. He actually only wanted to date one girl in particular, Lana Lang, but she wore a meteor rock (kryptonite) necklace – so she literally made Clark weak to his knees when she was around him. But, he couldn’t take his eyes off of her and I loved seeing their longing stares.

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Other than his love for Lana, Clark had to deal with obeying his father’s wishes (Jonathan Kent) to just blend in and try his best not to get caught using his powers, while at the same time accepting that he is different from everyone else.

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A lot to put on a teenager’s shoulders, huh? Since Clark had the superhero mentality from the beginning, he couldn’t just sit and watch when danger loomed over his town. He was always at the right place at the wrong time or the wrong place at the right time – depending on how you look at it. So when the time came for questions to be asked, Clark had to lie about his whereabouts or his connection to anything beyond the normal. Most of the time he tried to prove his innocence to his best friend (soon-to-be-arch-nenemis)…

Lex Luthor

Some of the best scenes in Smallville come from Clark trying to convince Lex that he’s totally a normal teen and the fact that he was always at the scene of something out of the normal happening was totally a coincidence. I got to give it to Lex, he does try his best to believe Clark in the beginning and just wants a normal friendship. Clark was like the brother that he didn’t get the chance to have (re: Julian and all of the other bros/siblings (Tess) that popped up later on). He even protects Clark on a number occasions when his money could do the talking.

But, Lex always had something dark inside of him and I think all of the lies and deceit (coming from his end too) just caught up with him and blurred the lines between good and evil. His distrust of Clark after he knew for sure that Clark was lying to his face (Lex’s got resources, so it was only a matter of time when he could buy the truth) ate away at his soul and he couldn’t and wouldn’t take it any more. The same with Clark. Season five’s Mortal allowed both Clark and Lex to punch it out on an even playing field when Clark became mortal.

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Mortal 3

Clark knew that Lex was losing his soul (figuratively and literally) and there would be times when he knew Lex was definitely lying to his face. All of the back and forth – I’m your best friend – I would never lie to you – You can trust me – pretty much crumbled their friendship and Clark made it his mission to catch Lex in his wrong doings and Lex wanted to reveal Clark’s true powers (and take advantage of them).

There’s a perfect example in season four’s Transference. How could Clark explain this situation? Other than the fact that his body was possessed by the evil Lionel Luthor and Lionel was using Clark’s powers against Lex…

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Of course, when Clark approached Lex again (having returned to his own body), Lex was prepared for some answers. Like right now!

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I’ll just play dumb and hopefully he buys it.
Clark always had to play dumb and convince Lex to believe some story of how he “wasn’t himself” and that the strength was “adrenaline”or something. Slap to the forehead! Really? That wasn’t the only time this type of situation and even crazier situations have happened to prove that Clark and Lex’s relationship would be the stuff of legends. I think Lex’s final descent into darkness came in season four’s Onyx, when Lex is literally split into his two selves – good and evil.

Face / Off, I mean Transference

Season four’s Transference is one of my favorite episodes as it reminds me of one of one of my favorite films, Face / Off, starring John Travolta and Nicholas Cage. Basically, good guy’s identity is held hostage by his nemesis via face swapping. Hmm, I wonder if the writers knew what they were doing here. In any case, it’s a great episode, especially the prison fight scene with Jimmy Eat World’s Pain playing as the soundtrack. But look, am I wrong…

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I’d like to take his face…off.
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And then…

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Come at me, bro.
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Did you catch that reference?
Chloe, The Wall of Weird, and Meteor Freaks

Back at Smallville High School, home of the Smallville Crows…Clark has this genius and adorable bestie named Chloe Sullivan. Chloe was one of the names I didn’t recognized when I first watched Devoted, so I didn’t catch on quick enough that I was watching a show about Superman. Chloe is a character made up specifically for the show as a “Lois Lane proto-type.” She’s the editor and chief at The Torch (high school paper) and the pioneer of the Wall of Weird.

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She’s collected clippings and articles about the paranormal and ‘weirdness’ in Smallville after the first meteor shower (Clark’s plight to Earth from the planet Krypton). A mere notebook couldn’t contain all of the strange and questionable happenings, so she used a wall. Of course, she showed the wall to Clark to impress him, but little did she know that Clark is the sole reason that her wall even exists. The wall jumpstarts Clark’s mission to help those that he affected by coming to Earth and allowing people to be transformed by the infected meteors and thus becoming monsters of themselves and wreaking havoc in Smallville. Thanks, Chloe.

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And the monster of the week is…
The infected persons are dubbed ‘Meteor Freaks’ (basically meta-humans or mutants). The kryptonite-laced meteor fragments from the meteor shower somehow mixed into their system during some extraordinary event, like getting caught in frozen water littered with kryptonite meteor rocks for an extended period of time (Ice Man-type freak), or having a flock of insects attack you after crashing your car full of kryptonite infected insects (Bug Boy-type freak). After the freaks set their sights on destroying those who’ve wronged them while they were relatively normal teens – Clark comes in to save the day! With a little help from his friends…

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Chloe (along with Pete Ross [who annoys me, so I’m not going to bother writing about him]) is unknowingly and knowingly Clark’s sidekick – filling him in on the freaks and giving him a head start on how to stop them from causing more damage. Once again, thanks Chloe. But of course, Clark has to lie about how and why he can even go toe to toe with the freaks to stop them.

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I’ll just play dumb and hopefully she buys it.
Before long, it’s revealed that Chloe is in love with Clark (how could she not be) and just being his sidekick and best friend was not always enough. Clark did love Chloe (how could he not), albeit only as a friend.

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How could you not love this smile?
Their bond grows deeper after she finds out that she was right all along about Clark being extraordinary. All of the lies and dumb excuses start to make sense and Clark can just tell Chloe that he’s going to save the day and she’s like, ‘I got your back’ and gladly embraces her sidekick status! THANKS. CHLOE.

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Clark’s Loves

I mentioned earlier that the early seasons of Smallville centered around Clark’s love for Lana Lang. And I admit, I rooted for them until I realized that Lois Lane would soon be gracing Smallville with her presence and SHE was Clark’s soulmate. But I was torn (still am) by which girl is rightfully Clark’s true love. I sometimes argue that Chloe is Clark’s true love by her wit and heroism from the earlier seasons – before the writers turned her into some sort of ‘computer wiz’ and living ‘brainiac’ in the later seasons. Seriously, after she leaves The Daily Planet, she loses her Chloe-ness that I grew to love over the years. I mean, she rightfully deserved to be at the Daily Planet and that’s more than I can say for Lois Lane (later on).

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But Lois’s first few seasons (seasons four – five and some of six) were when I loved her the most. She was strong and quippy. Most of all, she ticked Clark off. Before Lois, Clark tried his best to get along with everyone and was always Mr. Likable until Lois came around to shake things up. There was actually someone to annoy Clark and to get him into ‘normal’ trouble with his folks like in season four’s Gone.

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Didn’t know Clark had it in him, huh Mrs. K?
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Lois drove Clark crazy…in an adorable way. The more she spoke up for herself and got herself into hot water, the more Clark had to step in and be HER sidekick. I think he liked that about her.

Lois and Clark usual

However, in later seasons, Lois becomes this whiney damsel, pining after The Blur (Clark’s first attempt of a Superhero name). I got so sick of her meeting in the telephone booth, calling after this mysterious shadow vigilante. I honestly think, their relationship was rushed into a romantic one anyway. Especially since the writers kind of weakened her character after she already dated two other superheroes in previous seasons (Aquaman and Green Arrow). I struggled taking her and Clark seriously. I never saw the romantic-chemistry between the two of them like I saw between Clark and Lana.

25 Clark

25 Lana

I feel like the writers were shoving Lois and Clark down our throats after Lana left the show. The earlier seasons took the time to show Clark falling in love with Lana, and she with him. Clark put Lana through so much crap, because she knew that he loved her and she let him pull her in. But he wasn’t honest with her and all of the lies pushed her away. The fact that she loved him made her forgive him on many occasions and Clark constantly had to try his best to be the best for her while at the same time keeping his responsibilities in check. His true identity could put her in more trouble than he already had by being close to him (re: season three’s Exile). When he did hurt her, it took him time to forgive himself to be close with her again. He had to push her away to keep her safe, but Lana didn’t understand that.

11 Lana

11 Clark

Even at some of Clark’s most vulnerable moments like in season five’s Reckoning, when Jonathan Kent dies. Lana tried to hold on to the threads of her love for Clark, even though he was hardening up and closing himself off. If she knew what he was really going through (Clark going back in time to save her from dying and instead Jonathan’s life is switched for hers), she probably wouldn’t have been so hard on him about the faults in their relationships.

JK funeral Lana

JK funeral Clark

Which is why Lana started to tick me off in later seasons. She treated Clark like he was this horrible person (mainly because he sometimes had to be to keep her safe) who lied and willingly hurt her feelings. I hated the both of them for treating each other terribly (especially Lana marrying Lex in season six’s Promise). I think Clark could have just told her the truth though instead of stringing her along all of those years. She found out eventually, though, and it’s excellent. But, being honest from the start would have saved them both a lot of heartache. However, Reckoning was a gift of an episode where Clark actually told Lana everything and proposed to her.

14 Clark

14 Lana

Their blissfulness led them down a dangerous path, though, as Lana (now knowing Clark’s secret) became a target to Lex’s crazed demand to be in on the truth as well…resulting in Lana dying. Clark (not having that) changes the past and this time around he doesn’t tell her the truth, thus further pushing Lana away, losing her anyway. She’s now the reason Jonathan is gone, Clark unintentionally weighing her life over his own father’s. The episode is beautiful though, especially the ending soundtracked with Peter Gabriel’s I Grieve. The episode is what I had been waiting to see happen between Clark and Lana FOR YEARS, but I also got to see how (why) Lana knowing Clark’s secret was a dangerous idea.

No matter how much in love Clark was with Lana, I don’t think Clark trusted her enough to be strong enough to handle whatever bad could happen to her if she knew his secret. At least, not in the beginning. It could be that he loved her too much to burden her with the task of keeping his secret. Though she found out eventually and we see how well that worked out (Clark ends up with Lois). All of their ups and downs made a relationship worth watching on television, though.

playing dumb lana
I’ll just play dumb and hopefully…

playing dumb lana 2
Not this time, Clark!
When the Comics Invade Smallville

I think Smallville finally became Superman’s story, when more other DC superheroes and villains made their way to town. Season four introduced a few comic characters like Myxlplyx in Jinx, Bart Allen (“Impulse” / The Flash) in Runand of course Lois Lane in Crusade. Also, Clark (as Kal-El) actually flies in this episode and it’s amazing!

clark flies

Season five introduces fan favorites like Brainiac (played by Buffy alum James Masters), Aquaman, and Cyborg. I think season six is where the series and comics smash-collide in a great way. Green Arrow becomes a re-occurring character, later to become a series regular, played by Justin Hartley.

His presence pushes Clark to finally see that he can’t do this whole saving the world thing alone and needs a little help from others like him – superheroes. You gotta love season six’s Justice. Seeing so many of DC’s finest in live action was something Smallville fans (DC fans in general) had been waiting on for a long time. Can you imagine how stoked I am for Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad next year?

justice league smallville

We get a full view of Martian Manhunter in season six’s Phantom (he’s introduced in season six’s Static). Season seven introduces Kara Kent (Supergirl) who’s a series regular that season. Clark basically gets to train her to get used to her abilities just as he had to do in earlier seasons. He became something of a big brother figure. His relationship with Kara was strong, because he had to protect her from those willing to exploit her (cough, Lex) and teach her about the importance of having a secret identity. The thing was, Kara wasn’t raised by humans and she didn’t like to think of her powers as a secret or burden. Well, until she meets Jimmy Olsen (introduced in season six). Then, she wants to be a relatively normal girl. Overall, Kara and Clark’s relationship on the show is a great nod to the comics.

kara smallville

In the case of other characters like Davis Bloome, Tess Mercer, and ‘Major’ Zod – I could have lived without on the show. Surely they tried to fill the void of the villain / anti-hero after Lex Luthor left in season seven. I mean, maybe if they had more time to develop and they started their origins in earlier seasons, I would have taken them more seriously. But honestly, after seeing Lex from season one to his last episode (not including his return in season ten’s series finale) and him developing as the villain, any other bad guy was just filler. Tess Mercer was forced on us and I grew annoyed by how she was supposedly bad, but also good. What made Lex’s villain status so amazing was his chemistry with Clark. Something the later villains lacked.

Characters like Hawkman, Black Canary, and Dr. Fate’s time on the show was just so rushed and I didn’t care about their characters other than the fact they were from the comics. That’s what pains me the most about the series – rushed storylines and empty-important characters. Yeah, sure it’s great to see the Justice League coming into fruition, but what about filling out the characters more? Major props to the costume department though. At least the characters looked great!

canary and flash
…before they were on The Flash

Hanging with my favorite Martian.
Hanging with my favorite Martian.

Anyway, I love the show and I’m sure that if I watch the series again (for the hundredth time), I’ll spot even more things that I love and hate about it. I grew with the show as a teen and now that I am an adult, my perspective of certain characters could possibly change. Maybe. In any case, I hold the show dear and there’s so much more that I could say about it. I mean season eight through ten deserve their own blog (Post-Lex Smallville). Then there’s my love/hate view of what the series did with The Daily Planet and how Lois and Clark somehow became journalists without finishing college. Or even, community college. Then I could rant about Chloe’s character evolution.

Plus, there’s all of the actors that started on Smallville and went into their own series or starred in other DC related films: Jensen Ackles (Supernatural), Adam Brody (The OC), Amy Adams (Man of Steel), Ian Somerhalder (The Vampire Diaries), and Paul Wesley (The Vampire Diaries). Then, there’s appearance from Brian Austin Green and Tori Spelling (Beverly Hills, 90210), Christopher Reeve (Superman), Lynda Carter (Wonder Woman series), Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher (Lois & Clark), Carrie Fisher (Star Wars), and so on! Also, Smallville set the tone for new DC comic-centric shows on The CW like Arrow, The Flash, and even Gotham (on Fox). So much to discuss, and maybe I’ll do a part two. Maybe. Watch the series if you have enough time for ten seasons!

‘Til Next Time.

P.S. I do not own any of the photos (or videos) and I do not claim any credit for any of their edits. 🙂

TV: One Tree Hill

Music Recommendation(s): “Scream” by Chris Cornell  / “Ride” by Cary Brothers

Cue Gavin Degraw’s “I Don’t Want to Be” and let’s head back over to the fictional town of Tree Hill, North Carolina.

I’m a huge fan of One Tree Hill. The show is inspirational. I mean, some of the things that it touched on would hit my core and I would either be in tears, start thinking about how short life can be (while feeling ever ending at times). Thinking about how PEOPLE walk into our lives, and back out again. How we’re stuck with memories or regrets based on their momentary impacts.

pal

FAMILY can shape us and sometimes break us if we let them. FRIENDS are a gift to us. Think about it: With family, we can’t pick and choose, but friends are these people that we connect with and they essentially become our family. I think the idea of friendship can be taken for granted, because these people voluntarily love us and choose to be around us. And I am not talking about normal acquaintances – I mean the people that know us better than we know ourselves and will do anything for us (and vise versa). The next time you see your friends, hug it out – just because. Then again, this too can be said for family.

Here’s a little background: One Tree Hill begins about the story of Lucas and Nathan Scott, half brothers fathered by Dan Scott (the funniest and most hated guy on the show). Lucas is the rejected son, but grew up with a supportive mother, Karen, and loving uncle, Keith Scott. Nathan is the spoiled rich brother who had a dad growing up, but was subject to the mental abuse of Dan. You see, Dan always wanted to win and be the best. When he didn’t go all the way in his basketball career, he pushed Nathan to be the best. And oh yeah, basketball is the common thread in the show – along with music, literature, and art. Both brothers have talent, but their different upbringings make them competitive and the game becomes more than a just a sport.

basketball

One Tree Hill is essentially about life, family, friendship, love, and loyalty. The show really allows the audience to grow with the characters and over time, you can look back at the spectrum of the characters’ growth and it is a beautiful thing.

growth

Here’s what I love about the show: 

Family 

I mentioned earlier that Lucas, the protagonist of the show, grew up without a father. However, I should rephrase that by saying that he grew up without his biological father, Dan. But, the thing is that he was better off without the SOB. Lucas had Karen and Keith, two people that raised him to have character and to be the best version of himself – no matter what life threw at him (and it threw some mean curve balls). When Lucas decided to go for his dreams (basketball and later writing), the lessons that Karen and Keith taught him shaped him to be a person that would inspire his friends and family.

karen lucas

lucas keith karen

Though Brooke Davis virtually grew up without any sort of parental support, she managed to allow her friends to teach her valuable lessons and to let her own mistakes shape her to be and do better. Her parents financially supported her, but love was the missing factor for a while. Until she became a successful fashion designer, her parents were no where to be found. Her mother, Victoria, became her MANAGER and their relationship was vile until Brooke had the strength to rise up and teach her own mother what it meant to love.

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As a teen, Nathan was the most grown up in his household (and that’s saying a lot). His parents couldn’t seem to grow up and rise up. Dan was probably the worse person to be raised by and Deb (Nathan’s mom) was too strung out on prescription pills (because she was married to Dan) to be coherent enough to be a mom to Nathan. Nathan’s love came from Haley and their support of each other lead him to teach his parents a thing or two about being a family. Through all of the crap that Nathan had to put up with (including Dan’s “betrayal” of his own brother), Nathan had enough love from Haley and their own family to forgive the broken one that he was raised by.

nathanhaley jamie

dan dies

Off camera, Haley grew up with a large and supportive family, but Lucas and Karen were her surrogate family while hers travelled and led their own lives. It seemed that she was the most adept to “staying” (until she left) among her parents and many sisters. Her parents idea of parenting was teaching their children valuable lessons, and once they were adults – they were on their own to use those lessons to be whoever they wanted to become. A very loose way of parenting, I think. They were free spirits, though and Haley was mature for her age. Haley and Lucas’s close friendship kept her grounded until she fell in love with Nathan (and later music) and was starting to find her own way. One of the saddest moments in the show is when her mother, Lydia, returns to Tree Hill only to spend one last moment with her daughters.

hmomq

Adopted, Peyton also grew up with a limited amount of parenting. You know something, all of the (teen) characters basically had a fractured family. I don’t know if that can be said about ‘real life’, but jeez, this is kind of sad the more I think about it. Anyway, Peyton lost her adoptive mother when she was young and her adoptive father travelled a lot for work and was hardly ever present. But, Peyton was truly loved by the both of them and this made her kind of a downer (but very artistic). Eventually, a handful of Peyton’s ‘real’ family walked back into her life and she struggled with not having them growing up and allowing them to affect her present life. Again, another sad moment is when Peyton’s biological mother, Ellie, comes back – and (you guessed it) leaves again.

ellie peyton

Music, Art, and Literature 

The lives of the characters are very much affected and shaped by their natural talents. Peyton is the artist and music enthusiast, Lucas is the writer (he too is very skilled at b-ball, but it’s not his first gift if you ask me), Brooke is the fashion designer, Haley is the brain and musician, and Nathan is the athlete. These talents connect the characters to one another and ‘save’ them in their darkest moments – but as well as produce some of their happiest moments.

Lucas’s love of literature and his first published work, An Unkindness of Ravens, lends to some of the show’s most inspirational quotes and narration.

lucasandpeyton2

Haley’s gift of music nearly destroyed her relationship with Nathan, but it also made them closer than ever. She was her truest self when she was able to sing and be surrounded by music. This also taught Nathan to value his gift of playing basketball and to become even greater at it. Music played a huge part in the show (the show has one of my favorite soundtracks ever). Artists such as Gavin Degraw, Fall Out Boy, Explosions in the Sky, Elvis Costello, Jimmy Eat World, Sheryl Crow, Michelle Branch and The Wreckers, Tyler Hilton, and many were featured. New artists debuted on the show and Bethany Joy Lenz’s (Haley) real life musical ability was spotlighted. 

haley singing

p.sawyer
DJ. P. Sawyer

“The boy saw the comet, and suddenly his life had meaning”

Lucas and Peyton’s relationship was the stuff of legend. In the beginning, the two of them were connected by their mutual brooding, but their connection exceeded that throughout the show. Again, because they were both artists in their own rights, they found a connection that out-phased everything else.

comet lucas

When Peyton was too afraid to let someone love her, Lucas moved on to Brooke, which I think was genuine, but not true love. Brooke was merely a substitution and Lucas was someone that made Brooke feel insecure about herself. He never truly let her in as he was subconsciously (and consciously) waiting for Peyton to realize the truth. Of course with all love triangles – things got very messy, especially since Brooke and Peyton were best friends.

lucas brooke peyton
Torn between two lovers

number 3 heart

When the three of them were honest with themselves and each other, Lucas and Peyton finally got together. But with love, the road is filled with many obstacles and detours. For years, these two continued to fight for each other (even when others were in their places – cough Lindsay, cough Julian). Both of Lucas’s novels were about Peyton, even when he thought they weren’t. The Comet He subconsciously wrote to her to let her know – “It’s you, Peyton.”

peyton happy lucas

lucas peyton wedding

“Always and Forever”

Nathan and Haley had one of the most surprising, but beautiful relationships. They started on the opposite ends of the high school totem pole – the jock and the brainiac. Yeah I know, stereotypes, but they come from somewhere right? Anyway, while Nathan was getting tutored by Haley, he fell in love with her and she with him. Kind of a Cinderella story.

Haley Nathan s1

But again, love is not this smooth sailing thing. They got married in high school –  so they still had a lot of growing up to do on their own ends. They had yet to realize what they wanted for themselves and from each other. Indeed it was a bumpy ride, but this couple seemed to be the one that the others admired and aspired to be. For the most part, they were together through the length of the series. Always and…

nathanhaley100

“Brooke Davis is going to change the world someday, and I’m not sure she even knows it”

Brooke is my favorite character in the show. She began as the stereotypical cheerleader – boy crazy and kind of ditzy. She ‘slutted’ herself around during the first few years of high school, until she had her heart-broken by Lucas. Actually, she still kind of ‘worked her magic’ after both big splits with Lucas. Brooke fell so hard for him that somewhere in the process, she lost herself, but eventually found someone that she didn’t even know that she could be. For a while, she put all of her energy into partying and dating, because the alternative – the big picture- was something that she didn’t want to think about.

brooke2

After being the third wheel in Lucas and Peyton’s love story for far too long, Brooke made a name for herself by creating her own fashion line and grew up to be a responsible and tough as nails chick.

Clothes Over Bros, yo!

Eventually though, she wanted more than just work and money, and sought after forming her own family – because hers sucked. After fighting with her mother and dating the wrong guys, she wanted a family that was truly her own.

Brooke1

Eventually though, she got everything that she could ever want – literally taking a few cuts and bruises to get there.

brooke babies

“Every good story needs a villain, I’m sorry but I’m yours”

Dan Scott. The most hated guy in Tree Hill. Like the quote says above, every good story needs a good villain, and this guy takes the cake. I’ll try to list some of the crap Dan did in the series and you try to figure out how he continued to worm his way into his family’s lives. First and foremost, he truly was a self-righteous guy.

Dan and Nathan

The next thing (and creating the premise of the show) he left Karen while she was pregnant with Lucas. He then knocked up Deb and stayed with her all in a matter of months. Then, he pit Nathan against Lucas, making Nathan feel more superior. He chastised Keith for sticking around and supporting Lucas, when he was too proud to do so himself. Few years later, after all of the pushing to be the best, he alienated Nathan and Deb – making them two more people to hate him. There’s also a bunch of crap that he pulled with Whitey – the basketball coach and voice of reason in the show’s the show’s early seasons. Their feud made up for some great moments.

dan and whitey

I can skip all of the bullying that he continued to do, including paying someone to fall in love with and break Keith’s heart. I mean, the guy was truly an ass, but there’s one thing that he did that sent the characters and the show on a painful path – shooting and killing Keith – his own brother. Yep, he took away the person that everyone loved, because he envied him. Pretty Shakespearian, huh?

dan and keith

As you can imagine, the characters would never be the same again and Dan could never truly be a part of his family. Though honestly, Nathan was someone that he truly loved and in some way, he tried to make him a better man than he ever was or could be. When Nathan became a NBA player and had a family of his own, the thing Dan regretted the most was not being a part of it. Hey, he even regretted not being a part of Lucas’s family. Their hatred didn’t stop him from trying though, because –

dan scott kill

An Unkindness of Ravens 

As mentioned before, basketball is a huge part of One Tree Hill. In the beginning, it was used to pit Lucas and Nathan against each other, but before long, it was the game that brought ALL of the characters together. Though I enjoyed all of the competitiveness and how the feud made for comedic moments – it was when the game fostered moments of joy that made it special.

nathan lucas

bond brothers

For a while, Lucas and Nathan fought over the game and kept score of who was the best, but it was indeed Nathan that was the most gifted at it. From being someone raised to be competitive and have little character, the game was something that he truly loved. Before we knew it, Nathan was training to be the best – not just at the game – at being a husband, a brother, a father, and a son (to Deb). He rose above Dan, but became all that Dan wanted him to be and more.

nathan scott

Lucas also loved the game, but his role exceeded being just a player. Inspired by Keith and Whitey, Lucas became a coach to share with the next generation all that he learned from the game. He even helped Nathan get back on track after his accident.

lucas coach

I’ll end this, because my caffeine high is coming to a halt. There’s so much more to talk about, but the best way to appreciate the show is to watch it. So yeah, pop some popcorn and binge watch. Don’t forget to take in all of the inspiring moments. Dance to the music. Cry when the ones you start to love – leave. And laugh at all of Dan’s belittling and Nathan and Whitey’s incredible comebacks.

dan whitey 2

‘Til next time.