Powered Exoskeletons in Cinema – Batman and Robin

For reasons I no longer understand, I pre-ordered a copy of Fallout 4. More specifically, I ordered it from a warehouse separated from my home by several large oceans.

“I’m in no hurry,” I said.

“Not even that excited.”

Needless to say, the hype train proceeded to hit me like a… train, and I’ve spent the past week gnawing at my fingernails, watching the trailers over and over again with a hand covering the comments section, and just generally getting very little done. I was hoping to get this post done, actually, but I didn’t. And now…

Now it’s sitting on my desk. It’s just… it’s right there.

And the foil’s not coming off until we’re done talking about Batman. Let’s do this!

 

Exo-Skelluloid #6 – Batman and Robin (1997)

good ivy ds

Right! Okay. I’ve read some really sniffy reviews for this movie. No, that’s wrong. People seem angry about it. I’m inclined to think it was just ahead of its time, you know? Comic book movies used to be an embarrassing joke, and fans probably weren’t prepared for a film that embraced that fact quite so heartily. Here in Post-Nolan 2015, it’s a lot easier to laugh along with Joel Schumacher’s camp, pun-flooded adventures.

In that sense I guess you could say this film is kind of like the Fallout: New Vegas to Dark Knight‘s Fallou- No, no, I got this.

For those who haven’t seen it, the film features George Clooney and Chris O’Donnell as Batman and Robin, going up against Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Mr. Freeze and Uma Thurman’s Poison Ivy. Alicia Silverstone turns up halfway through and becomes Batgirl.

The plot’s very basic, but for me it’s the little moments of madness that make it fun. This is a film about glow-stick biker gangs, henchmen sing-a-longs, and Poison Ivy walking on a bridge of glitter-slathered hunks. There’s so much fun wedged in between the boring bits.

Okay. Summarised. Let’s talk exoskeletons!

THE CRYO-SUIT:

blueteeth DS

Gosh it’s pretty. I get the impression it was designed to be made into a toy, but I don’t even mind because the results are beautiful. It’s so opulent. So blue. If it were a DLC paint job I’d pay for it. Shit.

Mr. Freeze’s Cryo-Suit marks a number of firsts in the history of exoskeletal cinema. It’s the first exosuit designed to regulate temperature – keeping Freeze at zero degrees so he doesn’t die – and it’s the first one to be powered by “diamond-enhanced lasers.”

Why aren’t they all powered by diamond-enhanced lasers?

It’s also the first exosuit we’ve seen that can fly.

GIANT MOTH WINGS:

ice moth DS

Or, you know, glide. Still pretty good. The wings are only used once, towards the start of the film, and they don’t really gel with the rest of Freeze’s theme. What’s he supposed to be, some kind of Ice Beetle? Maybe an Articuno?

We don’t get a great look at the wings, but it seems they unfold from a small box on Freeze’s back. Later on in the scene, Batman manages to press a button that detaches the wings from the Cryo-Suit; suggesting that they’re not built into the suit itself but are instead some kind of auxiliary attachment. I wonder how far Mr. Freeze had to upgrade the armour-crafting perk in order to unlo – I mean uhh…

DIAMOND APERTURE:

diamond intake DS

The Cryo-Suit is covered in little details like this, and the camera seems to love zooming in on them. Freeze has a diamond intake in his elbow, a satellite-activator in his wrist, and a hidden compartment in his left arm containing the cure for his frozen wife’s terminal illness. To carry all this stuff around with him all the time his Endurance must be unbeliev–

SKELETAL DESIGN INFLUENCES:

ATTEMPT 2

Maybe this is a stretch, but as someone watching these films through an exoskeletal lens… There’s a lot of skeleton imagery in this movie. The front of the Cryo-Suit (left) seems to be sporting a sternum and some vestigial ribs, while Freeze’s henchmen (right) appear to be wearing custom skull-shaped codpieces.

That last bit seems really baffling, right? Mr. Freeze isn’t in any way skull themed. He’s not even death-themed, or pirate-themed, or any other theme that could possibly justify decking out your team with skull crotches.

Okay, maybe having some protective bits over the heart is just sensible exosuit design, and maybe the codpieces are there purely to intimidate the enemy, but… I dunno. I like to think the phrase ‘powered exoskeleton’ might just have passed through one of the costume designers’ minds. That maybe this is the point where exoskeletal cinema becomes self-aware.

WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED?

Don’t let your budget control the duration of the film. Batman and Robin contains a genuinely good 80 minute movie, a movie I would wholeheartedly recommend, but that movie is smothered in pointless motorbike races and shots that linger just a couple of seconds too long.

Although I suppose you could argue this obsession with run-times and ‘value for money’ may have sparked the creation of a genre that could offer hundreds of hours of content through some form of vast, open-world format.

whats happening ds

And finally: we’ve learned to ALWAYS buy from a physical games store with your HANDS. GOODBYE!

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