1. Iron Man 3 (Disney, 4,253 Theaters, 130 Minutes, Rated PG-13): So, the awesome task of following The Avengers begins, and Phase II startss just like Phase I one did–with Iron Man.
But Iron Man 3 doesn’t just have to rise out of the shadow of The Avengers, it also has to overcome the spectre of Iron Man 2, which has taken on the patina among some fans as being completely awful (I didn’t think it was that bad, but what do I know?)
There’s a new writer and director this time around in Shane Black, and this installment finally brings Tony Stark’s comic book arch nemesis The Mandarin to the big screen. It looks like it might be the biggest Iron Man film yet. I doubt it has a snowball’s chance in South Beach of beating The Avengers (although it has made 150% of its budget Internationally already), but it should be a fitting start to Phase II and the summer movie season.
1. Oz the Great and Powerful (Disney, 3,912 Theaters, 130 Monutes, Rated PG): Way back in June of 2010, FilmBuffOnline Head Honcho ran down the nine Wizard of Oz themed films in production. It turns out that this film was second behind Witches of Oz/Dorothy and the Witches of Oz in making it to screen, which had life as a TV miniseries and was recut limited release feature film. Later this year, it will be followed the computer animated Dorothy of Oz. The status of the six remaining projects is still up in the air.
Why all the attention for the Emerald City? Why , because it is the perfect mix of being almost universally known from the yearly television airings of the 1939 The Wizard of Oz and also having the original novel–and the character’s and concepts held within–being in the public domain.No rights to pay for a property everyone on the planet has heard of makes and new adaptation of the story that much safer to make. (Note: Any elements introduced in that 1939 film, ranging from the ruby slippers to the Wicked Witch’s skin color is copyright protected. So, expect some changes from that film to this one).
This story follows Oz (James Franco, following Robert Downey Jr and Johnny Depp as the third actor attached to the role in this film), a magician who is transported to a magical land where he finds an assortment of strange and unusual creatures and a number of quite attractive women, one of who will become quite wicked. The magician becomes a wizard, one so great that they presumably will name the world after him.
Rich has already seen the film, and you can find his review right here.
2. Dead Man Down (FilmDistrict, 2,188 Theaters, 110 Minutes, Rated R): In case travelling to the fantasy world of Oz isn’t your thing, here’s a dual-layered revenge flick for you.
Victor (Colin Farrell) has infiltrated the crime empire of Alphonse (Terrence Howard) in order to get his revenge on the gangster. His revenge is complicated when his neighbor Beatrice (Noomi Rapace, reuniting with her The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo director Neils Arden Opley) witnesses him kill a man. She blackmails Victor to get some revenge for her as well. However, it might just turn out that he might be able to get his revenge and hers at the same time.
One fascinating fact about this film is that this film was partly produced by WWE Studios (formerly WWE Films). That’s WWE as in World Wrestling Entertainment. The company used to be nothing more than a means to an end to get some of their wrestlers feature films while still getting some money from the deal. It appears that they are branching out with this film and next week’s The Call, which do have WWE wrestlers in the cast, but in supporting roles and not as the headliners.
I’m also intrigued by Terrence Howard using the promotional tour for this film as a way to snipe about his experience with Marvel over the Iron Man franchise. I guess it’s only natural considering Iron Man 3 will be out in two months, although Howard really has no need to complain because this film will be out of theaters way before then.
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’ll talk about superhero films not adapted from any comic book.
Not every movie starring a superhero is adapted from a comic book but each has been inspired by or in turn inspired comic books. Many of these non-comic book comic book films have sprung up in recent years but they have been appearing in movie theaters for over thirty years. We will dedicate the next few installments to these movies. We’ll try to talk about all of them here, but odds are one or two will slip our notice. Let us know what you think we’ve missed and maybe we’ll include them in a future installment.
One of my most fondly remembered superhero movies was 1980’s Hero At Large.
John Ritter stars as Steve Nichols, an underemployed actor who is hired to portray the character Captain Avenger at the opening of a film based on the character. A job that entailed just signing autographs for fans becomes something more when Nichols breaks up a robbery while in costume. The media grabs hold of it, and his life becomes much more complicated. Nichols is compelled to keep fighting crime as Captain Avenger while political interests want to use Nichols for their own interests.
I haven’t seen the film in a while, but it was one of my favorites as a youth. It wasn’t Hamlet, but it wasn’t awful either. Anne Archer, passed over several years prior for Lois Lane in Superman, gets to play a similar part here as Nichols’ neighbor/love interest. Kevin Bacon has a small part in the film as well.
The film made $15,934,737 at the box office that year. That might seem paltry by today’s standards, but it out grossed other, better well known films from that year such as Prom Night, Used Cars, Stardust Memories and Mad Max.
A year later, Disney came out with its take on the superhero, Condorman.
Hero At Large might have been cheesy, but it was nothing compared to this film. Condorman couldn’t have been cheesier if it was paired with a beef stick and sold at a Hickory Farms kiosk over the holidays. The film has been all but consigned to the dustbin of history by most (the above trailer was put together by a fan), those that do remember it recall it fondly in a “so-bad-it’s-good” sort of way. Michael Crawford, five years before he would take the stage as the Phantom in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s production of Phantom of the Opera, stars as Woody Wilkins, a comic book writer of a character called “Condorman” who is pulled into a spy exchange in Europe. Wilkins adopts the Condorman identity, becomes a spy for the CIA, and rescues a Russian double agent played by Barbara Carrera.
In all fairness, the film is more a Disneyfied version of the James Bond-esque spy thriller than an actual comic book, although Crawford does appear in costume as Condorman and uses many Batman-esque gizmos and gadgets. It goes without saying that the film was a critical and commercial flop.
While Condorman probably began with the noblest intentions and wound up at cheesiness accidentally, The Toxic Avenger wallowed in its inherent cheesiness to the fullest extent from the very first day of production, as is the trademark of the studio that released it, Troma Entertainment.
Whether it was intended to be or not, 1984’s The Toxic Avenger was like all of the Marvel Comics from the 1960s brought to the big screen all wrapped up in one. Toxie, as he is lovingly referred to, starts the film as a nerdy janitor bullied by his peers (much like Peter Parker was before he became Spider-Man). One day, he has an accidental exposure to radioactive materials (like, well, take your pick: Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, The Hulk, Daredevil, any number of other heroes and villains from Marvel at that time) which causes the nebbish to grow into a superhumanly strong creature (like The Hulk). He uses his new power to fight crime in Tromaville, finding love along the way with a blind woman who loves him for who he is and not what he looks like (mimicking a plot point featuring the Fantastic Four’s Thing and blind sculptress Alicia Masters).
What separated the film from the Marvel Comics of the 1960s was the schlocky, off-center and off-color humor, the violence that was so graphic that it became absurd, and the copious amounts of sex and nudity that is the trademark of the Troma film. But the first film was a success and that spawned a sequel, 1989’s The Toxic Avenger Part II:
When Troma found they shot enough footage for two films, they released another sequel in 1989, The Toxic Avenger Part III: The Last Temptation of Toxie:
And yet another sequel, 2000’s Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger IV:
That last film pulled out all the stops when it came to celebrity cameos, featuring Ron Jeremy, Corey Feldman, Hugh Hefner, and Julie Strain, with Stan Lee serving as narrator.
The Toxic Avenger was also adapted into a short-lived Marvel comic book in 1991 and a stage musical in 2008. A rumored fourth sequel was planned, but might have made way for a PG-13 remake produced by Akiva Goldsman and directed by Hot Tub Time Machine’s Steve Pink.
The next film we are going to discuss was made with noble intentions but became a box office failure. Hollywood Shuffle’s Robert Townsend wanted to make a film that was a counter-point to the popular “gangsta” films such as New Jack City and Juice that dominated cineplexes at the time. So, in 1993, he came up with a film idea that presented a positive black role model that would work to stop black-on-black violence instead of glorify it. That film was The Meteor Man.
The film told the story of Jefferson Reed, a Washington, DC teacher who is struck by a meteor and given superpowers. He uses these powers to clean up his neighborhood—stopping gang violence, demolishing crack houses, and stopping robberies. While the Toxic Avenger was a mix of a bunch of Marvel superheroes, the Meteor Man seemed to borrow from a number of DC Comics heroes, most notably Superman (who shares most of the same powers and the “mom-made costume” bit) and Black Lightning (DC’s first major black superhero, who was also a teacher named Jefferson Pierce).
The film featured a veritable who’s who of the best African-American actors America had to offer, including Bill Cosby, James Earl Jones, and Robert Guillaume and did earnestly try to present a more positive African-American role model. But the film was rather simplistic and the naive (the two gangs in the film, the Bloods and the Crips, put aside their differences to support Meteor Man in his fight against the white drug lord) script led to box-office disappointment.
Next time, we cover three popular movies that might stretch the definition of the superhero, but that had an effect on comic books for years to come.
We are months away from Marvel’s Phase 2 officially beginning and talk has already turned to Phase 3. Could a certain Sorcerer Supreme be joining Ant-Man in Marvel’s post-Avengers 2 plans? MTV seems to think so.
MTV’s Splash Page blog has posted an article detailing their recent conversation with Marvel’s Kevin Feige and interviewer Josh Wigler is making it out like he got a big scoop–that Phase 3 will definitely contain films built around Ant-Man and Doctor Strange.
Unfortunately, some times scoop really isn’t scoop. Ant-Man has been confirmed as Marvel’s first film in their third phase back in October when Disney announced its future release schedule and the film appeared on it. Feige was only confirming what the world already knew.
Doctor Strange, well, that would be a scoop–if a film was actually confirmed. This is what appears on the blog:
“… ‘Ant-Man’ is the only one officially announced, but you probably don’t have to look too far to guess at the next list of characters we’re toying with and beginning to develop.”
Could the oft-rumored “Doctor Strange” be a part of those plans?
“‘Doctor Strange,’ which I’ve been talking about for years, is definitely one of them,” he confirmed. “He’s a great, original character, and he checks the box off this criteria that I have: he’s totally different from anything else we have, just like ‘Guardians of the Galaxy.’ He’s totally different from anything we’ve done before, as is ‘Ant-Man,’ which keeps us excited.”
Please make note of the wording. Doctor Strange is a property that they are “toying with and beginning to develop.” Once again, this is old news. Marvel reportedly put Doctor Strange film on the fast track back in 2011 and writers were attached to the project all the way back in 2010. So “development” on the film has been underway for going on three years, and toying with probably since a script was delivered–assuming one was.
Feige did not confirm that Doctor Strange was definitely part of Phase 3 or even close to going into production. I mean, I love if it was, I think the concept would be a great fit for the big screen. But Marvel has a number of other projects–Black Panther, Inhumans, Runaways, and surely a bevy of more sequels– that will compete with the two film spots a year Marvel is allotted. If Wigler asked the same question about any of those films, he’d probably get the same answer.
So, Doctor Strange in anything but a done deal yet. Unless Wigler comes back with a solid release date, it the same old same old for Doctor Strange. No scoop here.
After Edgar Wright showed test footage of proposed special effects from Ant-Man at San Diego Comic Con 2012, the world underwent months of speculation as to whether or not might sneak the film in before Avengers 2. Unfortunately, Deadline‘s review of an updated Disney release slate announced today put an end to the guessing. No, Ant-Man will not be part of Phase II, it will be the first part of Marvel’s Phase III, with a release date of November 6, 2015, a little over six months after Avengers 2′s release date of May 1, 2015.
Rumor had it that production on Ant-Man would begin after Wright wrapped up The World’s End, perhaps as soon as early next year. The release date might put this rumor in doubt, as typically even the most effect heavy films don’t take over two years to make.
Another thing to consider is that if Marvel sticks to it’s strict two movies per year development plan, this means 2015 is all sewn up with Avengers 2 and Ant-Man. If we are going to see a Black Panther film, a Hawkeye/Black Widow spin-off, or a solo Mark Ruffalo Hulk film, the earliest we’d see any of these would be 2016. Probably later, because sequels from existing film franchises will also need to be put into the mix.
1. Taken 2 (Fox, 3,661 Theaters, 91 Minutes, Rated PG-13): You can’t say he didn’t warn them. “ I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don’t have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my daughter go now, that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you.”
They took his daughter anyway and, well, Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) looked for them, found them and killed them (in Taken). But the parents of the original kidnappers Mills killed don’t really care that their son was warned, they’re out for vengeance. When the Mills’ take a family vacation in Istanbul (Really? Who vacations in Istanbul? And why would you go back to Europe after what happened in the first film?), it Mills and his ex-wife who are taken. Big Mistake.
2. Frankenweenie (Disney, 3,005 Theaters, 87 Minutes, Rated PG): It’s not often that I direct has the opportunity to go back and remake a film that got him fired. But that’s what is happening this week.
Way back in 1984, Tim Burton made a live-action short about a boy who brings his dog back to life for Disney. In a classic case of a director’s style not meshing with a studio’s public image, Disney fired Burton for wasting their money and buried the film. Well, buried it until Burton made a name for himself with Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, Beetlejuice and Batman. Then Disney decided to release it on home video.
Now, Burton and Disney have mended their fences and the director is is revisiting that short via stop motion animation.
1. Resident Evil: Retribution (Sony/Screen Gems, 3,012 Theaters, 95 Minutes, Rated R): Most films based on video games die a quick death at the box office. Not this one. This is the fifth installment of the franchise and is the main reason why Milla Jovovich doesn’t have to become a full-time participant of the comic-con circuit for the foreseeable future.
Doing a plot description for this film is kinda superfluous. If you are a fan of the franchise, you already know what it’s going to be about and you’re already there. If you haven’t seen one of these films, coming in at this stage of the game might not be worth the trouble.
But, since I have column space to fill, here it goes. Alice (Jovovich) fights zombies and the company that created them, while finding out more about her personal history.
2.Finding Nemo 3D (Disney, 2,904 Theaters, 100 Minutes, Rated G): I’m torn about this film. What it boils down to is this: I love Pixar (and like this film a lot) but hate the 3D trend with a passion. Love the fact the film is hitting theaters almost a decade (really!) after it was first released, sad that it is being released in a blatant cash grab.
The film is a classic and I recommend that if your kids (or you yourself) haven’t seen it, then by all means do so. If you’re lucky, then a theater near you might be showing it in non-3D, so you can save yourself THAT headache.
3. Last Ounce of Courage (Veritas/Rocky Mountain Pictures, 1,407 Theaters, 101 Minutes, Rated PG): Finally, we have this mystery entry for a film I have never heard of. This is what the synopsis on IMDB says about the film:
Last Ounce of Courage is the story of an American hero standing up for his beliefs in a time of cynicism and fear. Inspired by his grandson, a grieving father and courageous youth will rally their community to conserve the freedoms we the people hold dear. Bob Revere is a small town Mayor and combat decorated veteran. He faces a root of bitterness from his past filled with heartbreaking loss. His grandson comes back into his life after many years to ask the most important question, What are we doing with our life to make a difference? Bob had grown apathetic along with an entire town. Now with the help of children, a group of people all band together to inspire hope, take back the freedoms that are being lost and take a stand for truth.
Kinda vague, right? So I research further, and watch the trailer below, and find out that noble fight for freedom the soldier’s death inspires his son and father to fight is the fight to restore Christmas to his bucolic Red State-ish town. Yes, I live in a suburb of hyperliberal New York City and there are more Christmas decorations decorating the streets come November than you can choke a reindeer with, but in the redneck paradise Bob Revere (get it?) lives in, you can’t do so much as have a Christmas Parade without the ACLU getting involved.
Yes, this is the worst kind of ham-fisted propaganda–one that is poorly written, poorly acted, and poorly thought out. Instead of spending your money on this, put it in an envelope and send it off to the Romney campaign. It will probably be better spent that way.
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’ll look at the comic book film that failed upward—The Rocketeer—and the comic artist that created the original source material—Dave Stevens.
Some comic book creators are incredibly prolific with the amount of characters they create, say, like Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Others are primarily known more for their artistry than the characters they create, like George Pérez. But in Dave Stevens’ case, he was known for his artistry and the one character he created. That character is the Rocketeer.
Stevens got his start in the mid-1970s as an assistant to the legendary Russ Manning while Manning was doing the art for the Tarzan and Star Wars comics strips. He then went on to work for Hanna Barbera under the tutelage of Jonny Quest creator Doug Wildey and also worked some as a storyboard artist.
At the 1981 San Diego Comic Con, Pacific Comics owners, the Schanes brothers, came to Stevens for help because they knew he was an artist. They needed two, six-page stories to act as filler in issues #2 & #3 for Mike Grell’s creator-owned book, Starslayer. Stevens bounced around some ideas and came up with one that he could do on the fly.
Even though the Rocketeer was thrown together on the spot, it didn’t mean that it was amateurish or awful. On the contrary, it is one of the best works to come out of comic books in the 1980s.
The series was a bouillabaisse of Stevens’ likes and influence. He used himself as a model for the hero, Cliff Secord. His mentor Wildey became the model for Secord’s mentor, Peevy. Stevens’ muse Bettie Page became the model for Cliff’s girlfriend, Betty. Nods to everything from Doc Savage (Doc’s assistants Ham and Monk appear anonymously in the first Rocketeer installment), The Shadow (who helps Cliff in the second), Rondo Hatton (who is the basis for the villain of the second installment), the film Freaks, the aviation trend of the depression era, film serials, the kitchy architecture of pre-war Los Angeles and the glamour of 1930s Hollywood and New York City.
Stevens gets the reputation of being a “good girl” artist for his skill at drawing gorgeous women in seductive poses, but his artistry goes way beyond that. Certainly, his art was beautiful when he was illustrating buxom babes, but it was just as beautiful when he was drawing an airplane, a supper club, or the folds on a dinner jacket. His art was lush and detailed and seemed to have a glow all of its own.
And his writing was also ahead of its time. Cliff Secord could have been a precursor to the “anti-hero” trend that Alan Moore and Frank Miller would exploit several years later. Secord was stubborn and self-centered. He was jealous and had a quick temper. He wasn’t the prototypical superhero, all virtuous and noble. He was human, like us.
The Rocketeer saga was presented in two installments in eight separate issues of four different series (Starslayer, Pacific Presents, The Rocketeer Special Edition, and The Rocketeer Adventure Magazine) from four different publishers (Pacific, Eclipse, Comico, and Dark Horse) over the span of 13 years (1982-1995). The protracted publishing schedule was due mainly to the fact that two of the four comic companies went out of business while he was working with them, his own meticulous drawing speed, and various legal entanglements (for instance, the rights for The Rocketeer were mistakenly listed as an asset of Comico when they went bankrupt, so Stevens had to wait six years after issue #2 of The Rocketeer Adventure Magazine, which was published by Comico in 1989, before he could publish the final issue of the series at Dark Horse in 1995 after the new holder of Comico’s rights itself went out of business as to avoid a legal battle over the disputed rights.)
In 1991, before the final issue of the series was published, The Rocketeer was released in theaters.
The Rocketeer really has no business being on the list of the best comic book adaptations ever made. The film was first optioned in 1983 by Steve Miner in an aborted attempt to bring it to the screen, but differences in the direction the film property should go caused the film rights to revert back to Stevens. The artist found a more comparable match with Danny Bilson and Paul DeMeo, who were on the same page as Stevens as to subject matter and setting of the film.
The film originally landed at the Walt Disney shingle, Touchstone Pictures and had a tone similar to the original comic book story. However, Disney executive Jeffrey Katzenberg, knowing that the kid-friendly Disney studios needed a live-action hit and seeing the potential in the film as a toy generating property, moved the film over to the main studio. As a result, nude model Bettie Page became aspiring starlet Jenny Blake, and Cliff Secord went from being an irascible rogue to an all-American kid with just a hint of the rebel in him.
Usually, when this big of a change is made in the translation to the screen, the film suffers. But while the concept was lightened to make it more family-friendly, it still kept the spirit of the original comic alive. It helped that Dave Stevens kept a hands-on role all through production. He provided his clip files to production designers to properly capture the look of the time. Stevens has a cameo as the German test pilot for their version of the rocket pack.
The film was a tribute to depression-era Los Angeles and a love-letter to the culture of the barnstorming pilot. It still paid homage to the age of the film serial, but added nods to the B-movie gangster, espionage and crime genres. And as much attention as Stevens’ paid to the look, the architecture and the illustration style of the era, director Joe Johnson paid as much attention to the visual style of the films of the 30s.
Some plot points still made the translation over from the book to the film. The origin is still pretty much the same as the book, as is Secord’s first appearance as the Rocketeer (although he is rescuing a pilot in the film who has lost control of his plane, not a pilot who has passed out behind the yoke because he was drunk, as in the book. Thank you Disney!). The Rondo Hatton look-a-like Lothar, the main villain from Stevens’ second arc, is in the film, but as a henchman for the main villain, Neville Sinclair, a new addition as “the number three box office star in America” who is a Nazi spy. Yes, the Nazis are still after the rocket in the film, but in a less straightforward way than in the book. They try to get the rocket through Sinclair who tries to get it through some local gangsters.
While the film does not follow the book exactly, if you buy into the goofy homage to the entertainment of the past, the film becomes an entertaining ride. I still cheer at the jingoistic way the mobsters, who were trying to kill Secord and the feds throughout the whole movie, switch allegiances to fight the Nazis at the end.
The film is as good as it is due to two actors in particular, and not the ones who would later go on to win Oscars either. Alan Arkin, who would win Best Supporting Actor in 2007 for Little Miss Sunshine, is miscast in the role of Peevy. Arkin is too laid back in the role of the grumpy genius from the comic. And, although this might not be his fault, he is cursed with one of the worse hairpieces ever to appear on recorded film. I kept expecting birds to use it as a nest.
Jennifer Connolly, who would win Best Supporting Actress for A Beautiful Mind in 2002, was still relatively early in her film career. She had not at that point gained the acting chops that would later win her the Oscar. You get the feeling that Jenny was written as a glamorous yet down to earth girl with a lot of moxie. Connolly played her as a glamorous yet down to earth girl with very little moxie to her.
However, Billy Campbell and Timothy Dalton are what make this movie great. Campbell looks almost exactly like the comic book Cliff Secord, and the relative newcomer brought a Jimmy Stewart-like charisma to the role. And Dalton, who was just coming off a stint of playing James Bond, excels as the Errol Flynn-inspired Neville Sinclair. He puts so much life into the villain that it becomes a truly complex character. Dalton’s Sinclair is charming one minute, dangerous the next, and funny the minute after that, with just the right amount of scenery chewing thrown in for good measure.
The film was originally planned to be the first in a trilogy, but when the $35-40 million dollar film only made $46+ million at the box office, that plan was scrapped. Although it wasn’t a financial success, it was a charming film. And while it wasn’t 100% faithful to the comic book, it showed a comic book movie is best when they capture the spirit of the original source material.
While many, including myself, think this version is pretty much close to perfect, there are people in Hollywood who still think “pretty close” isn’t close enough. As we reported here, rumor has it that Disney is are thinking of remaking the film. Personally, I hope the make a more adult version of the property, more in line with Stevens’ excellent original comic book.
Next, we cover another great comic book adaptation whose behind-the-scenes tragedy raises it above your standard comic book film.
1. The Odd Life of Timothy Green (Disney, 2,551 Theaters, 100 Minutes, Rated PG): This marks a return of sorts to the type of films Disney used to make. I recall a lot of their output from when I was a kid was family friendly fare with a hint of sci-fi or fantasy to it (i.e. The Computer Who Wore Tennis Shoes, Escape From Witch Mountain, The Shaggy D.A.)
This film focuses on a childless couple (Joel Edgerton & Jennifer Garner) who write down everything they want in a child into a box and bury the box in their backyard. Not long after, a 10-year-old boy (CJ Adams), covered in dirt and with leaves growing on his legs, knocks at their door claiming to be their son.
The film was co-written by Ahmet Zappa, of all people. That explains the esoteric concept.
Okay, do you want the good news first, or the bad news? Bad news? Okay, then.
The bad news is that Variety is reporting that Marvel is negotiating with Fox to extend the studios rights on Daredevil, which are set to expire if Fox doesn’t start a Daredevil film by October 10 of this year.
The good news is that in exchange for the rights being extended, the Marvel will get the right to use some Fantastic Four characters, which Fox owns the rights to for the foreseeable future, in order to use said characters in the cosmic themed Phase II of the Marvel film franchises.
Don’t get your hopes up too high. Variety suggests that the FF themselves aren’t the characters Marvel wants, so we won’t be able to see Chris Evans play Captain America and Human Torch in the same film (darn it!). The industry journal states that Marvel wants Galactus and Silver Surfer from Fox to use in the new “cosmic” path the Marvel films are taking.
While the space-faring Silver Surfer and the planet-eating Galactus would definitely fit in with the intergalactic films Marvel will be making, they don’t seem to be that great of a fit with the direction the films are taking. Galactus is as, if not more, powerful than Thanos, so including him and Thanos in The Guardians of the Galaxy or Avengers 2 might be a bit of overkill. And having the character simply make a cameo probably wouldn’t be worth this much effort. However, there are two other Fantastic Four supporting characters that Marvel might have their eye on that would be a better fit.
Annihilus is a villain who first appeared in Fantastic Four Annual #6 and fought the team numerous times over the years. He is an alien being who lives in an antimatter universe called the Negative Zone. Fanatical about staying alive, he is fixated with killing anything that he considers a threat to his life. Unfortunately, this means just about every other living thing.
Annihilus was the main villain in the Annihilation miniseries, the series where members the current version of the Guardians of the Galaxy united to stave off his invasion of our universe. Since he played a part in the origin of the team in the comic books, it seems natural that Marvel might want him to serve the same role in The Guardians of the Galaxy film as well, considering many of the same characters have been carried over.
The next character might not be part of the Fantastic Four characters that Fox owns, but his not being included in the plans for Phase II leads me to believe his rights are owned by someone other than Marvel, and if not Fox, then who?
Adam Warlock made his first appearance in Fantastic Four #66 as “Him,” a genetic creation of a cadre of mad scientist called The Enclave, who were endeavoring to create the ultimate humanoid life form that they could clone into an army and use to conquer the Earth. Unfortunately for them, their creation was imbued with immeasurable cosmic power and was too powerful control. “Him” eventually left Earth for the stars, took the name Adam Warlock, and fought to make the galaxy safe.
If Thanos has an arch-nemesis, it would be Adam Warlock. Many a legendary comic book arc feature those two going at it, often times with one of both characters dying (or being brought back). Having Thanos in the the films without Warlock is like having a movie with Laurel but not Hardy. Just doesn’t seem right. By the way, Warlock was also a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy.
Of course, Deadline is reporting that their sources at Fox are denying the talks of the trade, and that they are really excited about the Josh Trank take on the Fantastic Four characters and that the talks are about Fox and Disney co-financing the Daredevil film, yada yada yada. I wonder if they are the same sources that told Deadline that Jessica Biel was a lock for Viper in The Wolverine, a fact that I’ll repeat with every Deadline news item because it was totally wrong.
I guess we’ll have to see which news organization’s sources are more connected. As they say, the story is developing.