Cape Fear (1991) Written by Wesley Strick Directed by Martin Scorsese
Cape Fear came to Martin Scorsese on a trade. Scorsese had been working on Schindler’s List after Steven Spielberg had walked away at first. Spielberg was offered Cape Fear but found the story too violent for his personal filmmaking style. In turn, he offered it to Scorsese, who realized he wasn’t the right fit for Schindler’s List. The result of this switch is that we got a gorgeous remake of the 1961 Cape Fear that leans heavily into the filmmaking territory of Alfred Hitchcock.
Goodfellas (1990) Written by Nicholas Pileggi & Martin Scorsese Directed by Martin Scorsese
Goodfellas is without a doubt one of the most influential films of the last 50 years. I would argue this movie has influenced East Coast Italian Americans’ portrayal far more than Francis Ford Coppola’s Godfather films. While Coppola’s work is concerned with the mythic figures at the top, Scorsese explores the regular working class wise guys who have to hustle every day to make money and stay alive. This makes them incredibly relatable. Audiences will always relate to the guy who’s just trying to get by, then the mafia kingpin at the top. I would say Goodfellas is the best gangster film ever made.
With the success of 1989’s Batman and its sequel, Batman Returns, it was clear that Warner Bros. was going to cash on this newfound love for the Dark Knight. One of those ventures was Batman: The Animated Series, which aired on Fox before moving to the WB network for its final season. BTAS exploded on the children’s television scene as nothing else had before. This was not the Superfriends, or the other Hanna Barbara takes on Batman. It also wasn’t exactly a one-to-one match to Tim Burton’s vision of Gotham City. While the series was undoubtedly influenced by the Burton films, it also owed much to the Max Fleischer Superman cartoons of the 1940s. There’s even a strong vein of Hitchcock through the series with its emphasis on the darker aspects of the human heart as well as explorations of the subconscious mind.
JLA by Grant Morrison Omnibus (2020) Reprints JLA #1-17, 22-31, 34, 36-41, One Million, JLA/WildCATs, JLA-Z #1-2, JLA: Classified #1-3, JLA: Earth-2, JLA: Secret Files & Origins #1 , Adventures of Superman One Million, DC One Million #1-4, DC One Million 80-Page Giant, Detective Comics One Million, Green Lantern One Million, Martian Manhunter One Million, Resurrection Man One Million, Starman One Million, Superman: The Man of Tomorrow One Million, New Year’s Evil: Prometheus Written by Grant Morrison (with many contributions) Art by Howard Porter, Val Semekis, Oscar Jimenez, and many more
By 1996 it was clear that the Justice League has lost its luster among D.C. Comics books. This was a shame because it was the premier team title at the company. Keith Giffen & J.M. DeMatteis’s run on the book transitioned to Dan Jurgens, who eventually made way for Dan Vado with Gerard Jones writing the final arc. The roster by that time was made up of interesting but definitely not marquee level superheroes. Blue Devil. Nuklon. Icemaiden. Obsidian. Wonder Woman was there, but she was about the only notable character among the bunch. Sales dwindled, and Scottish writer Grant Morrison saw it as an opportunity to put their idea of a blockbuster movie take on the Justice League out there.
One of my favorite moments: Captain Hook: You bet against me bringing Pan back here, didn’t ya? Pirate: No. Captain Hook: Aw, tell your captain the truth. [pirate starts to cry] Aww, say it. Say it. Pirate: I did. Captain Hook: Yes, you made a boo-boo. Pirate: [nods] I did. I did! Captain Hook: The Boo Box. Pirate: Not that! Not the Boo Box! NOO!! [he is then locked into a chest filled with scorpions.]
(Editor’s note: That pirate locked in the Boo Box was actually played by Glenn Close of all people!)
Hook (1991) Written by Nick Castle, Carrie Fisher, Jim V. Hart & Malia Scotch Marmo Directed by Steven Spielberg
I found that it’s pretty impossible to watch Hook without thinking about the passing of Robin Williams. In December, this film will turn 30 years old. In August, Williams will have been gone for seven years. I can’t say Williams was ever my favorite actor, but I certainly love some of his films with a sense of nostalgia. Pictures like Hook and Jumanji were significant movies for me growing up. I know we recorded Hook off an airing on ABC and rewatched that VHS tape so many times. I think this viewing was tinged less by Steven Spielberg’s trademark maudlin sensibilities and more how the film’s themes sting a little harder when you think about the tragedy of Williams’s death and the circumstances surrounding it.
Galaxy Quest (1999) Written by David Howard & Robert Gordon Directed by Dean Parisot
Tim Allen is a real bastard. He’s leaned into his conservatism and allowed his current sitcom and his social media presence to promote people like Trump and some pretty rotten ideologies to go along with that. It doesn’t surprise me, to be honest. His first tv-series Home Improvement, always had a weird regressive feel to it, in my opinion. I watched it growing up, but I can’t ever say I enjoyed it; it was just sort of on because the television was always on. In the late 1990s to mid-2000s, Allen dominated the quasi-family friendly movie shlock business, likely due in part but not exclusively to his role as Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story, a part I suspect that has kept him wealthy ever since. Despite Galaxy Quest having a strong fan base, I just sort of lumped it in with The Santa Clause or Jungle 2 Jungle as something not worth watching. But then I did.
Wonder Woman by John Byrne Volume 3 (2019) Reprints Wonder Woman v2 #125-136, additional material from Wonder Woman Secret Files #1 & Adventure Comics 80-Page Giant #1 Written by John Byrne Art by John Byrne, Phil Winslade, and Tom Palmer
The final act of John Byrne’s run on Wonder Woman did something a little unexpected; it nearly sidelined Wonder Woman until the last issue. Now, you might be wondering, “What would you do in a comic titled Wonder Woman if the main character isn’t around much?” Byrne hands the title over to her supporting characters and Hippolyta and gives the Golden Age Flash Jay Garrick almost more space in the book than Princess Diana herself.
Written by Tracy Wigfield, Josh Siegal, Dylan Morgan, Amy-Jo Perry, Matt Warburton, Aaron Geary, Ben Steiner, Erin Fischer, Shantira Jackson, Beth Coyle, Dashiell Driscoll, and Marcos Gonzalez
Directed by Trent O’Donnell, Katie Locke O’Brien, Kabir Akhtar, Daniella Eisman, Matthew A. Cherry, Angela Tortu, and Claire Scanlon
There was a war on our television on Saturday morning in the 1990s. You see, Fox’s X-Men animated series aired at the same time as NBC’s Saved By The Bell. This led to a high level of tension between myself and my sister. The compromise was using the VCR to tape one while we watched the other. We were a single television household for most of my upbringing. Despite not wanting to watch the students’ antics at Bayside High School, I did and continued watching with my siblings when the made for television Hawaiian Style movie aired, The Colleges Years came and went, and the Las Vegas-centered wedding of Zack and Kelly wrapped things up. We don’t talk about The New Class in this household. When I saw Peacock was putting out a reboot of Saved by the Bell, I’ll admit I balked, just some more dumb nostalgia bait. But then I saw reviews coming in and the bona fides of its showrunners, and I decided to take a look. I am so delighted I did.
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) Written by Caroline Thompson and Michael McDowell Directed by Henry Selick
While the idea and production design were initially conceived by Tim Burton, the actual execution of The Nightmare Before Christmas was done by a bevy of other talented creators. However, the film is associated with Burton, and many mistake him as the director. We love and remember the picture for Danny Elfman’s music, Henry Selick’s direction, and the fantastic script by Thompson and McDowell. Thompson co-wrote Edward Scissorhands, and McDowell also penned the screenplay for Beetlejuice, so they brought all those elements to the table. The result is a gorgeous macabre take on the Christmas spirit that endures because it stands out from the crowd but reminds us of childhood favorites.
Justice League International Omnibus Volume 2 (2020) Reprints Justice League America #31-50, Justice League American Annual #4, Justice League Quarterly #1, Justice League Europe #7-25, Justice League Europe Annual #1, and Justice League International Special #1 Written by Keith Giffen & J.M. DeMatteis Art by Adam Hughes, Mike McKone, Bart Sears, Chris Sprouse, Darick Robertson, and Marshall Rogers
The JLI came across my radar with Justice League America #42, a cover that promised a team’s recruitment drive. I was nine years ago, and my knowledge of the Justice League came mostly from watching Challenge of the Superfriends, so you can understand how shocked I was when I opened up this book and found none of the characters I expected. Where were Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman? Instead, I was given new faces and names like Blue Beetle, Mister Miracle, and Guy Gardener. I didn’t have any idea who these people were. And they didn’t fight anyone; they spent a lot of time talking with a very comedic tone. I was confused as a child but still intrigued. A decade later in college, I would rifle through quarter bins on the floor of comic book shops, slowly but surely assembling a near-complete run of Giffen & DeMatteis landmark controversial run on the League.