Archive | Comics And Film

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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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THE BATMAN Might Be On For 2019 With Affleck Directing

Posted on 19 June 2014 by William Gatevackes

batman-vs-superman-ben-affleck-batmobileI think I have El Mayimbe figured out. He sees a geek film issue that needs addressing, like, say, why wasn’t there a Batman film in the list of DC Comics films leaked weeks ago, goes to his “sources,” and comes back with an “exclusive.” Other news outlets pick up the story, Latino Review gets site hits, and everyone is happy. Well, everyone except the fans who believe El Mayimbe, and are disappointed when the rumors eventually turn out to be false, because, well, El Mayimbe doesn’t have that good of  a track record.

El Mayimbe is quoting sources saying that Ben Affleck will be starring as the Caped Crusader in The Batman, which is set to arrive in theaters in 2019. Affleck might also direct.

Of course, on the one hand, this seems entirely plausible. After all, Warners isn’t going to let one of their most successful comic book franchises sit idle when they create a DC Comics shared universe, are they?

But if this is true, why didn’t DC add it to the list we got a week or so back? This would have been pretty big news and would certainly be a good addition to that list. Also, Affleck will be 46 or 47 (depending on when the film comes out) in 2019, which, with the exception of Robert Downey Jr., is a bit long in the tooth to be playing a superhero.  Add to the fact that the films that he directed and acted in up to this point were more ensemble pieces where his role wasn’t really the showiest in the films. That wouldn’t be the case here.

El Mayimbe realizes the weakness of the rumor, or perhaps his less than stellar track record, because he couches the news with him saying that this “is what I’m hearing the studio’s plan is, which is of course subject to change.” So, remember kids. If this rumor doesn’t pan out, El Mayimbe wasn’t wrong. The studio simply changed its plans.

Developing.

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International GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY Trailer Shows A Film You Might Actually Want To See

Posted on 17 June 2014 by William Gatevackes

GuardiansoftheGalaxyLogoHumor has always been a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but always in measured doses and not in such a way that it takes away from the story. Guardians of the Galaxy appeared to change that trend, as every bit of promotional material they gave us seem to indicate that we’d be getting a film that more resembled Welcome Back, Kotter than The Avengers.

Thankfully, Marvel has released an international trailer for GotG, and this version seems more in line with their previous output:

Brendon Connolly over at Bleeding Cool thinks this trailer has a Firefly feel to it, which I can see.  And I also agree with him that this is a good thing.

I’m also tickled by there being more Rocket Raccoon in this version. It seems like Marvel realizes that Rocket is going to be the biggest thing to come out of this movie, and is playing that up.

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SABRINA, THE TEEN AGE WITCH Still In Development At Sony

Posted on 16 June 2014 by Rich Drees

SabrinaThis past weekend’s NYC: Special Edition comic show at Manhattan’s Javitt’s Center was organized by the folks who run the New York Comic Con every fall in response to complaints that the big show was starting to focus too much on pop culture and that comics were getting pushed off to the side. And while the show did indeed focus on comics books, their publishers and creators, it was inevitable that a little news related to film would slip through.

At the panel held by Archie Comics, the company’s CEO Jonathan Goldwater confirmed that a film based on their popular Sabrina, The Teenage Witch comic is in active development at Sony Pictures with a first draft screenplay due to be turned in within two weeks. Screenwriters Andrew Barrer and Gabriel Ferrari are reportedly the ones working on the project with Mean Girls director Mark Waters overseeing things.

The film rights to Sabrina and her associated characters were optioned by Sony in April 2013. Sony

Now while it isn’t necessarily pointed out in the reportage on the panel from Bleeding Cool, I would feel confident that this new film project is not a continuation of the late 1990s TV series starring Melissa Joan Hart, but will be an entirely new live action iteration of the character.

I would suspect too that it is not going in the direction of the upcoming Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina series, which looks to be a more moody and adult-oriented horror series in a similar vein to Archie’s current critical hit Afterlife With Archie which tells of a zombie outbreak in Riverdale. Don’t worry, that series was optioned by Warner Brothers last year with Afterlife comics writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa working on the screenplay and Pitch Perfect‘s Jason Moore set to direct.

It was also reported that Goldwater stated that there would be more live action Archie news being announced soon. Perhaps it will be something from Warners about Afterlife With Archie? I dare say whatever it is, we’ll hear about it next month at San Diego Comic Con.

Chilling-Adventures-of-Sabrina

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Is Bryan Singer Being Removed From X-MEN: APOCALYPSE?

Posted on 09 June 2014 by William Gatevackes

BryanSingerBryan Singer has just directed the incredibly successful X-Men: Days of Future Past, a film that has returned to franchise to greatness, not only in terms of grosses but also reviews.

Bryan Singer is also the focus of a scandalous lawsuit where he is accused of coercing a male minor into have sex with him using his Hollywood connections vis a vis the victim’s desire to become an actor as leverage.

The former should lock Singer in as director of X-Films for the rest of his life if he so chooses. The latter should have him dropped as a hot potato for any future, big budget project. The question became, which direction world Fox go?

A new rumor has it that Fox is choosing option number two.

Radar Online is reporting that the studio wants Singer to step down from directing X-Men Apocalype because of his impending court case. The reason Radar gives isn’t necessarily because the studio thinks Singer is guilty or the nature of the crime he is accused of.  The reason sources gave Radar is that the court case might cause costly delays during production of the film as Singer would have to take time off to defend himself from the charges. And it is believed that Singer would do just that because there is evidence that he might have been shooting the first X-Men film at the time the alleged abuses took place.

Fox appears to want Singer to step down willingly, offering him the chance to handpick his successor and stay on as a producer, but all attempts at negotiating a graceful exit for Singer has not been well received by the director.

This is a messy situation and if these rumors are true it’s bound to get a whole lot messier.

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Peyton Reed Is Your New ANT-MAN Director

Posted on 07 June 2014 by William Gatevackes

Peyton ReedHis name was rumored to be in the running starting only yesterday, but apparently Peyton Reed wasn’t going to let another Marvel film slip through his fingers.

Entertainment Weekly is saying that Reed has signed on to direct the problematic Ant-Man, and that Marvel has brought on former directorial candidate Adam McKay to rewrite the script. Yes, the man whose best lines as a writer have come from the improvisations of his actors is reworking Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish’s script. Oh, joy!

While numerous news reports state that Reeds last two films made over $200 million at the box office, that was six and eight years ago and $200 million is often the budget for a Marvel. But the one thing we can say for absolute certainty is that considering both men’s resumes are almost exclusively made up of comedies, Ant-Man will be Marvel’s first full fledged comedy.

Since production was supposed to begin on June 2, even if McKay delivers a script on Monday, the production will be at least a week behind.  However that seems unlikely and odds are that McKay will not be writing the film on the fly as production goes on (which seems almost more labor and time  intensive than if he directed the film himself). This means either the July 17, 2015 release date will be bumped back, corners will be cut in post production, or the filming would be rushed. None of this lends itself to a quality film.

Welcome to Marvel, Peyton. I hope you survive the experience.

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Cumberbatch, Hardy Being Considered For DOCTOR STRANGE

Posted on 06 June 2014 by William Gatevackes

cumberbarch hardy dr, strangeWhile Ant-Man flounders in the wake of losing its director, Doctor Strange is pressing full steam ahead, even though it hasn’t been officially announced yet.

One had to expect that after Scott Derrickson was named director of the film, the casting rumors would stat coming fast and furious. And they have.

Deadline is reporting that Marvel has started a wish list of actors they’d like to play Stephen Strange and on the top of that list is Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hardy.

Now would be the time to mention that we at that “apple-pie-in-the-sky” period of casting rumors, where the actors named might actually be the ones Marvel wants, they might not actually be the actors Marvel gets.

That being said, if Marvel does cast Cumberbatch as Strange, they can just take my money now. I’ll camp out in the theater and wait for the film to arrive. However, Cumberbatch has been mentioned before in geek cred properties and not signed on (namely Star Wars). So, I’m not holding my breath.

Hardy is an interesting choice. Most people might only know him as the barely-audible Bane in The Dark Knight Rises, but he is definitely a skilled actor. I wouldn’t mind seeing him in the role.

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