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SDCC: Two More Pieces Of AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON Promo Art Are Released

Posted on 24 July 2014 by William Gatevackes

MarvelStudiosLogoJust like they did several years ago, it looks like Marvel is using a set of mosaic posters to promote its upcoming Avengers film. Today, Captain America and Black Widow join Iron Man and Scarlet Witch in the fight against Ultron to promote Avengers: Age of Ultron.

avengers-age-of-ultron-poster-captain-america avengers-age-of-ultron-black-widow-posterAs you can see in the Black Widow image, Thor’s Hammer is to her right and the Hulk’s arm is is to her left, so they will be getting posters. And we can safely assume that Quicksilver and Hawkeye will be getting a portrait as well. But since they are releasing two of these posters a day, and we have three days of SDCC left, Can we expect two more posters as well? Maybe with Ultron and our first look at the Vision? We shall see.

Mark Seifert over at Bleeding Cool has stitched the posters together so we can see what we have so far.This is what it looks like (Click to make bigger).

avengers-age-of-ultron-giant-poster

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THE SINISTER SIX Gets Release Date, AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 3 Pushed Back

Posted on 23 July 2014 by William Gatevackes

sinister sixThe Hollywood Reporter brings us news from Sony that the studio has set a November 11, 2016 date for its planned The Sinister Six film. This means its other planned 2016 Spideyverse offering, The Amazing Spider-Man 3, will now move to a date sometime in 2018, making it four years between sequels.

This comes after weeks of speculation that Sony would curtail its plans to create a shared universe out of its Spider-Man license after what was viewed as a disappointing grosses for The Amazing Spider-Man 2. The film was expected to break the $1 billion mark worldwide, but ended up being the lowest grossing Spider-Man film that Sony put out and also the worst reviewed one as well.

Of course, this is a “disappointment” that made $704 million worldwide, which even with an estimated budget of $250 million still makes the film a hit. And let’s not forget, Drew Goddard step back from being showrunner for Marvel’s Daredevil Netflix series just so he can focus more attention on The Sinister Six. It was not likely that the other films would never come out.

While this seems to be Sony dialing back a bit from its plan to release a Spider-Man film a year, that might be the best thing if they want to try and bump those critical reviews up. One of the major criticisms of  The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was that it was a disjointed effort as the world-building elements did not jibe with the story the film was trying to tell. A little more time working on the script would have helped immensely.

No word on when the planned Venom film will hit theaters, but Sony also announced that an adaptation of their popular Playstation video game, Uncharted, will be hitting theaters on June 10, 2016.

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Dwayne Johnson Hints At SHAZAM! Role…Again

Posted on 21 July 2014 by William Gatevackes

DwayneJohnsonIt seems like the Internet is all in a tizzy about Dwayne Johnson dropping strong hints that he might be in Warner’s upcoming Shazam! project in an interview with Total Film while promoting his latest film, Hercules. However, Johnson has been dropping hints for a while.

I covered this back in June when discussing the rumored slate of DC Comics films were first leaked. Johnson was hinting back in March that he has signed on with Warners to play a complex DC character that was well known yet never brought to the screen before, one that was on a similar power level to Superman. I connected that with the fact that Shazam! was still in active development at the time, and theorized the role Johnson was talking about was in that film. Johnson reiterates much of the same points in the Total Film interview embedded below. However, this is the first time that Johnson has come close to indicate that the character is in the Shazam universe with the sly way he hinted, “Just say the word.” (Billy Batson turns into Captain Marvel by saying “Shazam!,” and other characters change into their alter egos by saying similar words.)

Up to this point, Johnson has been linked to the role of the villainous Egyptian Black Adam in the film, but this was the first indication that Johnson might be playing the heroic Captain Marvel.

In the video, Johnson says that we will be finding out soon what his involvement really is, which I assume to mean during the DC Entertainment panel at San Diego Comic Con. So we should know before the week is out exactly what Johnson is playing.

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AVENGERS:AGE OF ULTRON Promotional Blitz Begins

Posted on 16 July 2014 by William Gatevackes

AvengersAgeOfUltronLogoOnce upon a time, back in the old days, Hollywood started a big promotional blitz for its upcoming blockbuster fare at San Diego Comic Con. Nowadays, that’s passe. What you need to do is start promoting your film the week BEFORE San Diego Comic Con. Case in point: Marvel has started a major promotional push for Avengers: Age of Ultron this week.

The big push comes from Entertainment Weekly, who is taking its annual one week break from throwing shade on anything comic book film related to publish its Comic-Con issue. And Avengers: Age of Ultron is the cover feature. And that cover gives us our first official look at the film’s titular villain, Ultron.

EW Avengers 2 coverSee that blurb that reads “Iron Man’s Master Plan,” well, the magazine is willing to spoil that for us:

For better or worse (trust us, it’s worse), his Tony Stark has devised a plan that won’t require him to put on the Iron Man suit anymore, and should allow Captain America, Thor, Black Widow, Hawkeye, and the Hulk to get some much needed R&R as well. His solution is Ultron, self-aware, self-teaching, artificial intelligence designed to help assess threats, and direct Stark’s Iron Legion of drones to battle evildoers instead.

The only problem? Ultron (played by James Spader through performance-capture technology) lacks the human touch, and his superior intellect quickly determines that life on Earth would go a lot smoother if he just got rid of Public Enemy No. 1: Human beings. “Ultron sees the big picture and he goes, ‘Okay, we need radical change, which will be violent and appalling, in order to make everything better’; he’s not just going ‘Muhaha, soon I’ll rule!’” Whedon says, rubbing his hands together.

“He’s on a mission,” the filmmaker adds, and smiles thinly. “He wants to save us.”

So we now have confirmation that it’s Tony Stark, not Hank Pym, who creates Ultron. And no Iron Man 4 to explore the repercussions of that actions.

The also has a number of official stills from the film, including the cast’s “wardrobe”:
Avengers 2 wardrobe

Obviously this is a staged photo. But it does tell us that Nick Fury will be making his appearance known.

Next, we have Cap and Thor visiting what looks like a suburban home:
Avengers 2 Cap Thor in Suburbia

Joss Whedon directing Elizabeth Olsen and Jeremy Renner:
Avengers 2 Joss Whedon Directing

Our official first look at Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch in costume and in action:
Avengers 2 quicksilver scarlet witch

The Science Bros (Bruce Banner and Tony Stark) in their lab:
Avengers 2 Bruce and Tony in a lab

The Black Widow sporting yet another new hair-do:
Avengers 2 Black Widow crouching

Hawkeye on the run from some serious attack:
Avengers Hawkeye running

And a picture of the rumored party, with our official confirmation that Don Cheadle will indeed be in the film:
avengers 2 party

In contrast, Kevin Feige’s interview with IGN seems anti-climatic, but in it he does reveal the changes to Stark Tower to make it the Avengers Tower:

Last time we saw Stark Tower, from The Avengers, it had gotten beat up a little bit thanks to Hulk and thanks to Loki and the Chituari, and Pepper and Tony were standing over a table looking at plans. That’s where we pulled out and all the letters had fallen away except the ‘A’ in Stark. So what they were doing was retro-fitting for The Avengers. And that’s what we see in this next film.

S.H.I.E.L.D. is gone – for people who are following along. S.H.I.E.L.D. was disbanded and brought down at the end of The Winter Soldier because it turned out to not be the best organization ever. So Tony’s bank-rolling The Avengers now. And he’s bank-rolling their headquarters. So it’s now Avengers Tower.

Tony designed it so in addition to a hanger for a brand-new Quinjet, laboratories, places where he can build and store his Iron Man suits, there are I believe two bars. Beautiful multiple space living rooms which are perfect for parties and social gatherings. But it’s a primary location in the film this time around.

What? You thought that when Tony destroyed all of his suits at the end of Iron Man 3 that it would be last you’d see of them?

Speaking of Iron Man suits, Feige also confirmed that we would be seeing the Hulkbuster suit of armor we saw in design paintings, and he teases us that we’ll see more:

There are a lot of scenes that you should be getting excited about. That is certainly one of them. I think I said a long time ago when Joss [Whedon] first did his six-page or 10-page outline for Avengers, there was a lot of work and the movie’s adapted quite a bit since then, but there were like six or seven signature things just in that. I said ‘Joss, even if we don’t do anything else. Just do these seven things, that’s enough for the movie. Now let’s get to work and put it all together.’ Those things are in the movie and are amazing, of which that sequence is one.

It seems like Avengers: Age of Ultron is gearing up to be an epic movie in scope. I’m sure there will be more scoop revealed in the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly, which hits better newsstands on Friday and next week at Marvel’s panel at the San Diego Comic Con.

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Kate Mara Apparently Confirms FANTASTIC FOUR Reboot Not True To Source Material

Posted on 15 July 2014 by William Gatevackes

kate mara mexican esquireI’ve devoted a lot of the server space FBOL takes up to hand-wringing over how bad the Fantastic Four reboot was going to be. My main concern was the plot synopsis that appeared on a casting announcement that indicated that the reboot will be almost 100% different than the comic book it takes its name from. Josh Trank went to Twitter to deny that the synopsis was real, but Fox legal still sent out takedown notices to any film site that reported on the casting announcement’s plot blurb, including us.

However, part of me wanted to believe Trank that this was not true, that the powers that be would not be so arrogantly stupid to change what made the Fantastic Four the Fantastic Four. But an interview with Kate Mara by the Mexican edition of Esquire Magazine most likely put the last nail in the coffin of that hope.

Wedged in between pictures of Mara lounging in vintage underwear, the magazine managed to ask Mara about her up coming role in the reboot, specifically dealing with the comics themselves. ComicBookMovie is there to translate:

Q: Do you like comics?

A: I’ve never been a fan of comics, I’ve never actually read one. I was going to for this movie but the director said it wasn’t necessary. Well, actually he told us that we shouldn’t do it because the plot won’t be based on any history of anything already published. So I chose to follow his instructions. The one fact is I am a fan of comic book movies, so it’s very exciting to be part of a movie like this.

Okay, the “looking-on-the-bright-side-of-things” Bill says that maybe this was just an error in translation. Or it could be willful misdirection. Or maybe Mara meant that the film will not be based on any particular story arc from the comics but that the origin will remain…will…ah, who am I trying to kid. The casting plot synopsis was right. Get ready for a loosely-affiliated band of super-powered government mercenaries as your reboot FF. I’m sure it will be kewl.

This of course begs the question of when does a FF film not become an FF film? And why didn’t they just create an original film around the concept instead of  just tacking the FF name on to something that bares little resemblance to the source material? Is the name that much of a draw? If so, why not pay more respect to it?

The trainwreck is set to hit theaters on June 19, 2015. Maybe we’ll find out how many puppies they’ve sacrificed to the Dark Gods next week at San Diego Comic Con.

 

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Roberto Orci On SPIDER-MAN Franchise: “Not Officially Involved In It”

Posted on 13 July 2014 by William Gatevackes

 

roberto_orciBreakups are always hard, especially when there are children involved. You try to work together to provide your kids with what they need to go forth in the world, but that becomes tougher once other things occupy your time. And for Roberto Orci, it has become almost impossible.

Orci recently made an amicable split with writing and producing partner Alex Kurtzman, but the team was expected to stay together on anything that was already in the works. This was thought to include Sony’s planned Venom (which the pair was going to write and Kurtzman was going to direct) and The Amazing Spider-Man 3. Orci has stated in an interview with IGN when asked directly about the latter that he was not officially involved in it.

A lot of this might have to do with Sony’s uncertain scheduling. Orci said:

I don’t know what their plans are for that franchise. I don’t ever want to say never, but we have to figure out what their scheduling is in terms of when they want each movie. I’ve read probably as much as anyone else. There’s a love for the Sinister Six, the idea of Venom — there’s an idea of Spider-Man’s going to be one of these characters that’s part of our business. He’s such a popular character. Spider-Man’s not going to go away any time soon. When it all happens and how and all that has yet to be determined.

If Orci is going to to direct Star Trek 3, as is rumored, he simply might not be available for the Spidey films. Whether or not this is another nail in the coffin of Sony’s plans to spin off Spidey into a shared universe remains to be seen. The idea seemed haphazardly thrown together from the get go, and the disappointing grosses and reviews for The Amzing Spider-Man 2 caused many wags to question of a line expansion was a good idea. Now they are going to have to go forward without one of the lynchpins of said expansion.

More on this as it develops.

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New Superman Image From BATMAN V. SUPERMAN Released

Posted on 03 July 2014 by William Gatevackes

superman image smallSince Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice is in production almost two years before it’s set to be released, we are going to have a long era of publicity to come pertaining to the movie. Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing is up to you.

USA Today has an interview with Zack Snyder, complete with an official image of Henry Cavill as Superman. Here’s that image:

superman imageNo word on what fictional city Superman is standing in, Metropolis or Gotham. Before Warner’s mistaken idea that every DC Superhero Film needs to be grim and gritty, you would have been able to tell. Now, the pic of the glowering Kryptonian could realistically be taken in either location.

The interview itself is light on any real information but there are some tidbits of interest to be found:

  • Snyder explains why it’s Batman v. Superman instead of Batman vs, Superman: “to keep it from being a straight ‘versus’ movie, even in the most subtle way.” I take this to mean that it will be a fight of ideologies between the two in the film rather than a round of fisticuffs.
  • Snyder as shot several scenes with the Cavill and Affleck together.
  • However, he has not shot any scenes of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman yet. However, set photos have leaked of her on set, so he has filmed her as Diana Prince. Snyder reassures us that “she’s working out and getting buff and ripped.” Of course, she should already be buff and ripped by this point in shooting, so this reassurance isn’t all that reassuring.
  • The interview ends with this bon mot from Snyder: “You can talk all you want about other superhero movies, but it’s Batman and Superman, let’s just be honest. I don’t know how you get bigger than that.” Well, we’ll see what audiences will be talking about when it opens against Captain America 3 on May 6, 2016.

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Is Outer Space In THE HULK’s Future? (Updated!)

Posted on 01 July 2014 by William Gatevackes

avengers-commercial-hulkThe worst part about this latest information is that it will mean that El Mayimbe was at least partially right. Dagnabbit!

The Latino Review scribe was the one who started the rumor in February of last year that the Hulk would be featured in the upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe and the Planet Hulk/World War Hulk storyline from the comics would be the basis of of the film story. The rumor was almost immediately refuted by Ain’t It Cool News, but was so powerful that it still held enough sway that Mark Ruffalo felt the need to debunk in once again as recently as yesterday.

However, this most recent denial from Ruffalo was too much for HitFix’s Drew McWeeny. See, McWeeny paid a visit to the set of The Avengers: Age of Ultron and what he saw did not exactly jibe with what Ruffalo was saying, and it bothered him so much that, confidentiality agreement be damned, he felt compelled to say something. So, he did.

(See update below for clarification.)

Now, McWeeny felt the need to reveal where the Hulk is at the end of The Avengers: Age of Ultron. Since I am going to be discussing as well, I think it calls for one of these:

DisneyspoilerwarningAnd, since I want to be sure that you know what you are getting into, let me hit you with that again:

DisneyspoilerwarningSo, apparently McWeeny saw  Bruce Banner’s final fate in The Avengers: Age of Ultron during his set visit. And this is what it is:

Without giving away why and how, let’s look at the state of things for Bruce Banner at the end of “Age Of Ultron.” Banner continues to play a key role in things in this movie, and when the final war with Ultron spills onto the battlefield and out of the virtual realm, he has a major part to play. Unfortunately, that ends with him onboard a Quin jet on his way off the planet, with no way to immediately turn things around. He’s going to have to ride out the trip. It’s pre-programmed and he can’t stop it.

I am immediately willing to discount this whole thing just because McWeeny doesn’t know that “Quinjet” is one word.

As any savvy comic fan knows, that is pretty much how the Planet Hulk storyline begins in the comics. I bet El Mayimbe is happy!

And look, he is!

However, McWeeny is quick to burst that particular bubble, by giving his own, non-Planet Hulk theory on how Banner’s exile will work out.

Here’s where I’d wager his spaceship is headed: wherever the Guardians of the Galaxy are located. If I was a betting man, I’d say there will be no Hulk solo film as part of Phase Three. Instead, Banner’s ship will take him to another planet, where he will end up meeting the Guardians and having an adventure with them. Hulk will definitely come out to play a few times. I suspect we’ll see some sequences that very much feel like they’re part of the Planet Hulk story, but that the larger story will be about the Guardians finding a way to get Banner home, only to end up going with him. That would move a big piece of the puzzle into place to get Thanos looking back at the Earth in time for the third “Avengers” film.

McWeeny’s theory does makes sense. Ruffalo has a lot of films to burn through and him being in GotG 2 will add another film. It will also add star power to the sequel, and provide a bridge between Marvel’s Earthbound heroes. But while Marvel supposedly has a plan until 2028, they typically don’t announce a sequel until they get a box office from the current film. I don’t think GotG2 is a done deal quite as of yet.

And, of course, there are could be other ways Marvel can go from here, everything from a pure Planet Hulk adaptation to a way to introduce the Inhumans into the Cinematic Universe. Also, just throwing this out there, this scene could have been a fake scene shot for McWeeny’s benefit as a test by Marvel if he would say anything. And, of course, now that this scene is out there, Marvel might decide to scrap it and go elsewhere since the surprise is gone. The possibilities are endless.

However, if either El Mayimbe’s or McWeeny’s theories are correct, it might be another sign that we are entering a dark period of creativity for Marvel Studios. You get the feeling that Marvel doesn’t believe that the “Hulk being a hunted man” storyline will no longer bear any fruit, even though The Incredible Hulk TV series ran for years on that very premise. But the Hulk is still one of Marvel’s most recognizable properties. Having to wait for an Avengers flick to see the character is bad enough. Having the next time we see him after that be once again as an ensemble player or the lead in a gladiatorial epic seems to be at best very risky or at worse, deadly for the character.

More should be clear as the weeks and months progress.

UPDATE:

Drew McWeeny sent us an e-mail to clarify some confusion I had pertaining to his post:

The information I revealed about the fate of the Hulk in “Avengers: Age Of  Ultron” was not something I learned during my set visit, nor did I say “confidentiality agreement be damned.” I did not discuss anything I saw during my trip to London. My own sources supplied me with my information about the end of the film, and I am 100% confident of its accuracy.

Please take this into account when considering my post above.

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Scoot McNairy Is Cast In BATMAN V. SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE

Posted on 26 June 2014 by William Gatevackes

scoot mcnairyAn already crowded cast gets a little bit more crowded.

Deadline is reporting that actor Scoot McNairy (12 Years a Slave, Killing Them Softly) has been cast in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. The casting has not been officially announced, so no word on who McNairy will be playing is available.

McNairy is a chameleon-like actor, so any speculation as to who he might be playing could very well end in madness. He could play anything from a street level criminal to a LexCorp scientist to a cop to a member of the Justice League.

This marks a reunion of sorts for McNairy, who acted with and was directed by Ben Affleck in Argo. I wonder if that played a role in the casting.

Fans of comic book films will recognize McNairy from his role as Jackson Norris, the reporter who interviews Ben Kingsley’s Trevor Slattery in the Marvel One-Shot, All Hail the King.

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HISTORY OF THE COMIC BOOK FILM: Rise Of The Imprints

Posted on 20 June 2014 by William Gatevackes

In a multi-part series, Comic Book Film Editor William Gatevackes will be tracing the history of comic book movies from the earliest days of the film serials to today’s big blockbusters and beyond. Along with the history lesson, Bill will be covering some of the most prominent comic book films over the years and why they were so special. This time, we look at the success DC Comics had with its sub-imprints.

imprintsWhen the layman thinks of DC Comics, they typically JUST think of DC Comics, the home to Superman, Batman,  Wonder Woman and countless others. But, for a time, DC Comics was an umbrella corporation for a number of other imprints showcasing comic book works that didn’t fit into the world of the parent DC. You had the sci-fi focused Helix. You had manga reprints at CMX. Minx was aimed at the young  female demographic. Piranha Press was an esoteric publishing arm which eventually became the equally esoteric Paradox Press. And Johnny DC was the company’s arm for its more kid-friendly fare.

imprint logosBut the two most successful DC Imprints were Vertigo and WildStorm. Vertigo was a home-grown imprint, created as a banner for writers such as Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, and Grant Morrison to allow these creators and more room to write their more mature, literate fare without being held to the standards and practices at DC. WildStorm was originally part of Image Comics, a studio made up of Jim Lee and his discoveries and associates. Lee broke away from Image and eventually entered into a partnership with DC.

In the 2000s, while films based on DC Comics properties were wallowing in development hell, films based on properties from these two imprints were having some success at the box office.

john constatine first appearanceThe first was 2005′s Constantine, which, going into it, seemed like it was going to be a complete disaster. It was based on the character of John Constantine, who was created in the pages of Saga of the Swamp Thing,created by Alan Moore, Steve Bissette, and John Totleben, and was the star of a long running comic book named Hellblazer. He was a former punk rocker from working-class Liverpool who just happened to be a master of the occult based out of London. He was also based physically on the musician Sting, and his trademark outfit was a dark suit under a rumpled tan trench coat.

To move the character from England to Los Angeles, have him lose the tan trench coat and make him a brunette was enough to get fans of the character angry. Having Keanu Reeves play him was enough to send them into an apoplectic fit of rage. But the film managed be a pretty good film despite all of this.

Constantine_posterIn the film, Constantine plays an exorcist who notices that a stronger breed of demon are possessing people. This eventually leads him to discover a conspiracy to overthrow Lucifer and create a Hell on Earth, a takeover that Constantine might not be powerful of pure enough to stop. That, and he might not be around to stop it, as he is dying of lung cancer.

Instead of trying to force the English John Constantine where he doesn’t belong, director Francis Lawrence and writers Kevin Brodbin and Frank A. Capello create a uniquely American Constantine. Much like how the comic book Constantine is a product of the anger and the apathy of the post-colonial, Thatcherite England that spawned the British punk movement, the film Constantine seems bathed in the seedy side of Los Angeles, a town where dreams are made but also stepped on and ground into dust. It’s a Los Angeles where most opportunities, real or imagined, come with a casting couch attached. It is a Los Angels whose streets are filled with bus tours of grisly murder sites and where the Manson Family and the Night Stalker once preyed.

15Yes, they made a major change from the source material, but they put effort into it so it wasn’t an arbitrary change. This wasn’t how John Constantine would work in Los Angeles, this was how Los Angeles worked for John Constantine. That went a long way towards my enjoyment of the film.

It also helped that Reeves gave a little more than he typically does in his film. The setting does play into his typical, laconic style of acting, but Reeves brings an edge to his performance that befits the character. It also helped that Reeves is working with two future Oscar Winners (Rachel Weisz and Tilda Swinton) and a once and future Oscar nominee (Djimon Hounsou, who had a nod coming into the film and got another after it). Even pre-Transformers Shia LeBeouf was adequate in his job.

While the film did not make enough domestically to cover it’s $100 million budget, it made over $230 million worldwide, which typically is enough to earn a sequel. But talk of a sequel subsided as the character was rumored to make an appearance in Guillermo del Toro’s Justice League Dark project and pretty much ended when a more-comic-book-faithful Constantine TV series was picked up for Fall 2014.

220px-TheLosers2010PosterAnother Vertigo series that made it to the big screen was The Losers. As was typical of Vertigo, The Losers was a decades old DC Comics concept reworked for the present day. It originally was a team of DC’s solo World War II heroes who joined together in a sort of a supergroup renown for their bad luck. In the hands of Andy Diggle and Jock, they became a team of blackballed CIA Agents looking to clear their name and take down the man who framed them. The book was part spy thriller, part commentary on the dark dealings of the American intelligence community.

The film was directed by Sylvan White and featured a great cast of comic book movie regulars such as Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Idris Elba, Zoe Saldana and Chris Evans. I thought it was fairly faithful to the original text, although in talking with Andy Diggle at Special Edition NYC on Sunday, he expressed regrets that the studio cut the political commentary from the book out of the final movie. Personally, I didn’t think that hurt the film one bit. I like the film especially for the chemistry between the stars.

What did hurt the film was being released so close to the similarly themed A-Team (which opened two months after The Losers). The conventional wisdom is that fans of humorous action films featuring rogue government operatives fighting the men who framed them couldn’t decided which film to see, so they didn’t see either. The Losers made under $30 million at the box office against a $20 million budget.

Red_ver7If you think Hollywood took liberties with the previous two adaptations, get ready for this one. Red was created by Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner for the WildStorm sub-imprint, Homage. The comic told the fairly straightforward tale of Frank Moses, a retired black-ops CIA operative whose only contact with the outside world is through his female handler, Sally. He is content to live his life in peace, but unfortunately a new CIA director takes over. The new guy find out what Frank has done while on the job. and is so repulsed by Frank’s actions that he orders a hit on him. Naturally, Frank doesn’t take this too well and goes on a one-man rampage that culminates with him assassinating the CIA director and the next in command.

Like I said, pretty straightforward. And like many movies you might have already seen. However, the film adaptation made a number of changes.

The film did focus on a retired Frank Moses (Bruce Willis), only his sole outside contact is now a customer service rep named Sarah at the place that cuts his pension checks  (Mary-Louise Parker). A hit squad is still sent, albeit this time to liquidate Frank due to involvement in a secret mission in Guatemala years ago. Instead of getting vengeance alone, Frank joins up with his mentor Joe (Morgan Freeman), an old cohort Marvin(John Malkovich), a British agent Victoria (Helen Mirren) and his favorite customer service rep to get the CIA call off the dogs and find the reason why he is being hunted. Oh, and instead of a grim action film, it was essentially a comedy.

Strangely enough, Warner Brothers, parent company of DC Comics, passed on making the film, allowing Summit Entertainment to step in. Turns out, this was a mistake for Warners because Red was a hit, making over $199 million worldwide against a budget of $58 million. This time, a sequel was made.

RED_2_posterRed 2 swapped out Oscar winner Morgan Freeman with two new ones in Anthony Hopkins and Catherine Zeta-Jones but kept the plot the same. Frank, Sarah and Marvin are once again on the run due to a mission the boys supposedly made during the Cold War, a mission to sneak a nuclear weapon into Russia piece by piece. The group once again must keep one step ahead of all those that are after them while trying to get to the bottom of the mystery, avoiding betrayals all along the line.

The sequel did make money, just not as much as its predecessor. It grossed $148 million worldwide against a $84 million dollar budget. Plans for a Red 3 were being made even before Red 2 hit theaters, but it remains to be seen if a second sequel will be made in lieu of such disappointing grosses.

Next time, we’ll look at the rise and fall of one of the most interesting men in comics and film: Frank Miller.

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