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Today in Nerd History | June 20

Today we’re diving into a mix of thrilling, comical, and groundbreaking moments that span decades of entertainment history. From the chilling waters of Amity Island to the streets of Gotham, the musical antics of the Blues Brothers, and into the immersive world of modern video gaming, June 20 has been a landmark date for fans across multiple genres. Let’s unpack some “Nerdy Facts” about the debut of iconic characters, films, and games.

Inclusion on this list does not imply that the entry is family friendly, only that is was a nerd culture milestone. Parents should, of course, use discernment.

© DC Comics

1942: Two-Face (Detective Comics Vol. 1 #66)

The villainous Two-Face made his first appearance in DC Comics, introducing the world to Harvey Dent, Gotham City’s former District Attorney who turns to crime after a tragic accident disfigures half of his face.

 

Nerdy Facts:

  • Coin-Tossing Chaos: Two-Face’s decision-making process involves flipping a coin, with each side representing the duality of his psyche – one scarred and evil, the other unmarked and good.
  • Creator Credits: Two-Face was created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger, the same team that created Batman, adding depth to Gotham’s gallery of rogues with a character embodying both law and chaos.
  • Character Evolution: Over the decades, Two-Face has become one of Batman’s most enduring foes, appearing in numerous comics, films, and animated series, each portrayal exploring his struggle with dual identities.

© Universal Pictures

1975: Jaws (Theaters)

Steven Spielberg’s “Jaws,” a film about a man-eating great white shark, terrorized moviegoers and changed the summer blockbuster landscape forever.

 

Nerdy Facts:

  • Box Office Breakthrough: “Jaws” was the first film ever to earn over $100 million in box office receipts, essentially creating the concept of the ‘summer blockbuster.’
  • Mechanical Shark: The production famously used a mechanical shark named “Bruce,” which was prone to malfunctioning, yet this inadvertently enhanced the film’s suspense, as Spielberg was forced to suggest the shark’s presence rather than show it.
  • Musical Motif: The simple yet terrifying two-note motif composed by John Williams became one of the most iconic scores in cinema history, heightening the tension and foreboding in every shark scene.

© Universal Pictures

1980: The Blues Brothers (Theaters)

“The Blues Brothers,” starring Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi, combined comedy, music, and high-speed chases, making it a cult classic.

 

Nerdy Facts:

  • Celebrity Cameos: The film featured performances by music legends such as Aretha Franklin, James Brown, and Ray Charles, adding authentic soul and blues to its soundtrack.
  • Car Chase Craziness: “The Blues Brothers” holds the record for the most cars crashed in a film—a title it proudly claimed until its own sequel attempted to top it.
  • Origin Story: Originally developed from a “Saturday Night Live” sketch, the film expanded the backstory of Jake and Elwood Blues, brothers on a “mission from God” to save their childhood orphanage.

© Warner Bros.

1997: Batman & Robin (Theaters)

“Batman & Robin,” known for its campy tone and over-the-top villains, is often remembered as one of the less critically acclaimed entries in the Batman film saga.

 

Nerdy Facts:

  • Frosty Reception: Despite its star-studded cast including George Clooney as Batman and Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze, the film was widely panned for its pun-heavy dialogue and neon-drenched aesthetic.
  • Marketing Overload: The film featured a heavy emphasis on toy merchandising, influencing its design and character portrayals, which many critics felt undermined its quality.
  • Legacy of Lessons: Director Joel Schumacher later apologized to fans who were disappointed by the film, acknowledging its role in the evolving history of Batman in cinema.

© Warner Bros.

2008: Get Smart (Theaters)

Based on the 1960s television series of the same name, “Get Smart” starred Steve Carell and Anne Hathaway, bringing the classic spy comedy to a new generation.

 

Nerdy Facts:

  • Modern Twist: The film updated the Cold War setting of the original series to a more contemporary landscape while maintaining the classic humor and bumbling antics of Maxwell Smart.
  • Gadget Galore: True to the original show’s style, the film featured a range of quirky gadgets and gizmos, which were both a nod to the past and a hit with modern audiences.
  • Box Office Success: “Get Smart” was well-received by audiences, proving that a blend of nostalgia and modern comedy could resonate with both fans of the original series and new viewers.

© Eureka Productions

2019: Holey Moley (ABC)

“Holey Moley,” an extreme mini-golf competition series produced by NBA superstar Stephen Curry, took the fun of mini-golf to epic proportions with its over-the-top obstacle courses.

 

Nerdy Facts:

  • Celebrity Involvement: Apart from producing, Stephen Curry occasionally appeared on the show, sharing his love of golf and participating in mini-games.
  • Humorous Commentary: The show is known for its comedic commentary provided by Rob Riggle and Joe Tessitore, adding a layer of humor that appeals to a broad audience.
  • Creative Courses: The courses on “Holey Moley” are not only challenging but also creatively themed, ranging from giant windmills to fire-breathing dragons, making each episode visually entertaining and unpredictable.

© Naughty Dog

2020: The Last of Us Part II (PlayStation 4)

“The Last of Us Part II,” developed by Naughty Dog, pushed the boundaries of video game storytelling, exploring complex themes of revenge and redemption in a post-apocalyptic world.

 

Nerdy Facts:

  • Narrative Depth: The game’s narrative is known for its emotional depth and moral complexity, challenging players with its portrayal of the dual perspectives of its protagonists, Ellie and Abby.
  • Technical Excellence: Praised for its stunning graphics and attention to detail, the game sets a high standard for realism in video gaming.
  • Critical Acclaim and Controversy: While critically acclaimed and winning numerous awards, “The Last of Us Part II” also sparked debate among players for its dark themes and character developments, showcasing the growing impact of video games as a medium for serious storytelling.

June 20 is a day to appreciate the broad spectrum of creativity and innovation, from thrilling shark attacks and superhero antics to groundbreaking video games and whimsical golf challenges. Happy Nerd History Day to all who cherish these moments of cinematic and interactive achievement!

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Station Manager of LTN Radio and co-host of the "Nerd History Podcast" & the "Two Words Podcast". Matt is a third-generation radio station manager who has done pretty much every job in the radio industry. Matt is the father of two boys and a little girl. It's probably the best thing about him.

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