Comic Book Adaptations

Avengers Coulson Death

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. There will be a quiz later. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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Superman Death

The next three years in the theater will be inundated with mutants, aliens, sorcerers, gods both good and evil, and sentient machines, all vying for your fandom and dollars. The reign of the comic book film may seem to have already been fully realized, with 2008′s Iron Man generally marked as the poured foundation in the house that Disney and Marvel Studios built, culminating in 2012′s The Avengers. Disney and Marvel’s combined audaciousness in envisioning and executing with unprecedented success the interweaving franchises of Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, and making Hulk work in spite of three films of which none of the original leads transition to the ensemble, is remarkable. It’s a blueprint for success that, oddly, film historians decades from now may mark as the first nail in the coffin of a genre that needlessly accelerated its own demise, and which damaged the success and viability of smaller, less mainstream offerings under its super-powered umbrella at the expense of getting while the getting is good.

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Last week, the utterly shocking news broke that not only was Warner Bros. pursuing a Justice League movie, but it also was in no way at all ever influenced by the unbridled financial success of Marvel’s The Avengers. We can all believe that, can’t we? After all, we read it on the internet. With Man of Steel coming out next year and a no-brainer Batman reboot coming now that Christopher Nolan’s movies are wrapping up this summer, this is an opportunity for Warner Bros. and DC to set a new stage. Plus, with adaptations of The Flash and Lobo, and the potential for a Green Lantern reboot, Warner Bros. and DC have things laid out for them to work out very similar to the pre-Avengers line of films. But this is Hollywood, and so many things can go potentially wrong with a project like this. Here are seven ways Warner Bros. can avoid a potential disaster as they develop this film series.

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They tried to make Wonder Woman happen (but it didn’t because she’s a bizarre character with lame powers), Elektra and Cat Woman just weren’t good enough to count, but after a decade the dearth of female heroes has become apparent. That’s a problem Sony is looking back to the 60s to solve. According to Deadline Riverdale, the studio plans to head back to the time of the sexual revolution to unearth Sabrina the Teenage Witch from the Archie Comics and from 1990s television fame. The project comes from Mark Waters (Mean Girls) who may direct depending on the timing of the whole thing, and screenwriters Andrew Barrer and Gabriel Ferrari. The announcement piece likens it to Spider-Man, most likely because that’s another Sony property and because they share a thematic similarity – a young person learning to live with extraordinary powers. No word on what tone it seeks to strike, but the comic book origins would point to tongue-in-cheek hijinks with a bit of magic tossed in to make good on the name. At any rate, this is a chance for Sony to provide the world with a female hero with mystic powers can lead a franchise. With that in mind, is there any way The Hunger Games didn’t turn the light green for them?

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Jorma Taccone

There’s maybe never been any other film that looked as bad in its advertising and went on to be as deeply loved as MacGruber. People are into that movie big time. Which is impressive, because it manages to get tons of laughs despite being built on a pretty thin premise. You have to chalk a big portion of it’s success up to director Jorma Taccone, who has served as a writer and director on Saturday Night Live since 2005, and is a member of The Lonely Island (you know, those digital shorts guys) alongside Andy Samberg and Akiva Schaffer. He’s a talented fellow, and any future projects he works on should be considered big news.

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Chronicle director Josh Trank is already looking to bring the drooling dark visage of Venom to the big screen, but Deadline Lamar is announcing that he’s officially on board to bring another comic book to life as a movie. He’s been hired by Warners to direct The Red Star – an adaptation of the comic book series of the same name from creator Christian Gossett. It’s a solid fit for the man who got famous with teenage super powers. “The Red Star” is a sprawling story that involves as much wizardry as it does alternate history, telling the story of a mythical Russia (The Lands of the Red Star) who is engaged in a brutal war with its enemy Al’lstaan. It’s an epic told from many different angles with a ton of cool elements (like human energy cannons). It’s an awesome, excellent book and bringing it to life will most likely involve a lot of effects work and a huge filmmaking sensibility. Plus, it would bring us one step closer to Superman: Red Son becoming a possibility. In Soviet Russia, everyone wins.

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There’s something incredible about knowing that a movie exists. Especially now. After years – years! – of speculation, glimmers of set photos and vague comments mined for meaning, there is actually something we can all call The Dark Knight Rises. It’s no longer an idea. It’s a reality. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Christopher Nolan showed his first cut of the movie to Warners, which means that it’s a reality that will undoubtedly go through some more edits and some honing, but it’s a real thing nonetheless. What was just a thought turned into words on a page, and now those words have evolved into something physical and dynamic. It’s nothing short of magic.  

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You’re familiar with Tim Miller‘s work if you’ve seen The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo‘s ingenious title sequence (and if you haven’t, you can see it below). His visual effects company Blur has also done work for video games like “Batman: Arkham City” and “Resident Evil: Raccoon City.” The point is – he’s a stellar artist and he’s making comic book-laden moves into the world of feature film directing. He’s attached to The Goon (if it ever gets off the ground) and Deadpool (ditto), but now Deadline Danbury is reporting that he’s been hired to helm Gravel for Legendary Pictures. The project is based on the Warren Ellis and Mike Wolfer comic book that sees agent William Gravel, an S.A.S. agent who uses magic to earn money on the side by battling all sorts of creatures and beasties. It’s unconfirmed, but likely, that Ellis wrote it while drinking Scotch. It feels like lately there have been a heavy handful of very cool announcements, and this just adds to that pile. And then smothers that pile in thick, black goo. (Check out the Tim Miller-crafted Dragon Tattoo title sequence below.)

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While Monster director Patty Jenkins would have been a fascinating choice to direct the upcoming Thor 2, she dropped out after some creative disagreements with Marvel. C’est la vie. Now, after a brief search, the job falls to Alan Taylor. According to Deadline Marienville, the Game of Thrones director will be telling Chris Hemsworth where to point his hammer. What else is there to be said here? The first film had a classically trained Irish talent better known for his Shakespearean work (and for his ridiculous mustache-beard combination in Wild Wild West). The sequel now has an extensive television resume in the driver’s seat – work that spans from the action drama of Game of Thrones to the sassy whatever of Sex and the City to the dry wit of Bored to Death. If Taylor’s previous work is any indication, the second film might become something of a true adult drama. Of course, his feature film work to date includes the historical comedy (that was actually pretty damned funny) The Emperor’s New Clothes. Otherwise, it’s mostly dramatic work at play here. The film is scheduled for release in November of 2013, so they’ve got some breathing room. Plus, Thor will be seen next in The Avengers next summer, meaning we can’t go a year without seeing that cape. We just can’t get away from it. It’s also funny how much the feel of this article would change if the headline had been “‘Sex and the City’ Director tapped for ‘Thor […]

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We live in a movie-making world where performance doesn’t matter nearly as much as it used to. The audience as judge and jury is an outdated concept, and if you’re movie doesn’t earn its money back, that doesn’t mean the funeral pyre needs to be erected. Green Lantern wasn’t exactly dead as a doornail when it hit the box office – it just didn’t shoot up through the stratosphere the way Warners undoubtedly hoped it would. Now, The Hollywood Reporter is reporting that the studio wants to move forward with the franchise even while admitting their disappointment.

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Brimming with bleak melodrama, the new X-Men: First Class trailer has hit, showing off the glowering characters and huge action that will hopefully add up to a hell of a movie. It builds on the previous trailer by adding in a little more character detail and the reason why they fight. Check it out for yourself:

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With shooting under way for The Avengers, the world is one step closer to seeing Marvel’s ultimate plan come to fruition. To celebrate the occasion, Marvel shot out a press release featuring the first official photo from the set as well as an incredibly long synopsis that nonetheless doesn’t really say anything at all about the picture. However, it does confirm casting suspicions that have been floating around as common knowledge, and it highlights the creative staff in a great way. Plus, chairs!

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Boiling Point

The Green Lantern movie has an uphill battle from the start. Why? Because it’s not starring Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, the X-Men, or anyone remotely near that level of recognition to the average viewer. The first question many may ask when hearing there is a Green Lantern movie is “Why?” The second is probably “What?” or possibly “Who?” I’m willing to give The Green Lantern the benefit of the doubt and not just because I have a huge man-crush on Ryan Reynolds. Well okay, yeah, mostly because of that. And so far, much of what we’ve seen looks pretty good. The trailer was fun. And the costume is… Well… Uh…

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Anyone, including me, that wrote about the downfall of the comic book trend was just proven dead wrong. Warners president  Jeff Robinov just took anyone curious about the future of comic book movies, asked them where the drugs were, and then shoved them face down into the gutter as rain water poured over their nose and mouth. Announcing a Batman reboot before cameras even start to roll on the current Batman film is a bold move. I’m still trying to wrap my cowl-less head around what it fully means, but there are at least four major shifts that just occurred, and they all affect movie goers.

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There’s nothing like seeing a super hero fire a gun. It breaks all the rules but still makes sense, especially if that hero is firing a weapon against Nazi(-like) scum. There are a few things that stand out in this first trailer for Captain America: The First Avenger, but you should watch it for yourself first:

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In all fairness, Daredevil is not a bad movie to take a mulligan on. Plus, if the rumor is true, they’ve got a solid talent at the wheel. According to Variety, David Slade will be directing a new entry into the Daredevil world for Fox. Call it a reboot, a sequel, a redo, a second shot or whatever you want, but the film won’t feature Ben Affleck or make mention of the previous film. So, it’s a reboot. Just for fun, if we consider the Spider-Man retooling going on and this new announcement, the timeline for when we’ll see other reboots becomes clear. The 2002 Spider-Man is now a 2012 version. The 2003 Daredevil will now probably be 2012 as well, meaning that we might see reboots of 2004′s Hellboy at some point, followed next by 2005′s Sin City, and 2006′s V For Vendetta. The new Superman puts a dent in that imaginary timeline, but the point is clear: the cycle must start over. We’ve run out of comic books to make. That’s just a best guess as to what order they’ll come around again in. Hopefully we’ll hear word of the Batman rebooting no more than ten minutes after The Dark Knight Rises premieres.

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Since the most recent character posters for X-Men: First Class were so abominably bad, we decided to sponsor a little contest to see which of our design-minded readers could do better. The bar was low, but everyone went far above and beyond the call of duty, and the result was a squad of really great posters. Some went with Saul Bass inspiration, others played off the comic books, one found inspiration in The Social Network, one changed the director (see above), and still others chose to go their own way entirely. Sadly, no one chose to improve on the floating head in crotch concept. That’ll be a new contest entirely, but without further ado, here’s the winner (who will receive a 1999 lithograph recreation of the first “X-Men” cover done by comic artist/legend Alex Ross) and a gallery of some especially great runners up:

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When I was in 3rd grade, I discovered the magic of the merry-go-round at a local park. Shortly after that, I discovered the magic of throwing up after going around one too many times. I can’t help but remember heaving behind my elementary school when hearing the news that Ray Stevenson has spoken to Marvel about taking another go-round on The Punisher. It’s not that Stevenson was bad as Frank Castle, it’s that the Punisher films have been so terrible so far. Like the Keaton/Bale debate, Tom Jane brought the acting to the pain of Frank Castle while Stevenson brought the bad ass, but overall, both movies were lacking for other reason. War Zone especially. It all felt like a badly drawn cartoon from a meth addict. In a way, it feels like they already took “another shot” at The Punisher and they ended up with a worse movie, so why hop on the ride again? We all know that’s not true, though. The truth is that Columbia and Lionsgate already took a second shot at it, but Marvel hasn’t even been up to bat. That’s the real news here. With The Avengers somehow already on the horizon, Marvel is looking to branch out, and they’ve snagged the rights to Frank Castle’s story back from Lionsgate. Seeing The Punisher in house at Marvel might be the key to success. It has been for other characters so far. Now if they could only splice Jane and Stevenson together, they’ll have the […]

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Culture Warrior

Somewhere hidden away in the mid-1990s, there’s a young man reading a “Star Log” in his bedroom foaming at the mouth at the words on the glossy magazine page. There they are. The words “Watchmen” and “Terry Gilliam” right next to each other like a pair of star cross’d lovers finally exchanging vows. The iconic comic books that he grew up reading are finally going to be seen on the living, breathing, bloody brilliant big screen. Then it doesn’t happen. There are a lot of reasons why it doesn’t happen (too many to dive into right now), but that young man is eternally disappointed when those words he once reveled in start to fade away. With the announcement that Universal has passed on Guillermo Del Toro’s At The Mountains of Madness, a lot of fans might be finding themselves in a similar position, and it’s not just Lovecraft devotees. It’s movie fans of all stripes who see this as another defeat of the auteur in service of the bottom line. Is it Universal’s fault? Sure. Much in the same way that everyone shares a little blame. It does, however, shine its silver lining as a spotlight on the disease of the studio system that’s been picked at and mulled over and puzzled for the past few years. Luckily, it also exposes the solution: Failure.

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Iron Man 2 wasn’t a mess. It was a Jenga tower that had already been played with for too long. Scenes and motivations didn’t quite fit together, but the real problem was the lack of fun. If you’re going to go all Empire on a sequel and dig your character deeper, it needs to be done with less alienation. If you’re going to keep the tone light, more power to you. Either way, watching that flick felt like carrying an elephant up a steep cliff without rocket boosters. The failure should be spread out amongst Marvel, Jon Favreau and Robert Downey Jr (in measures that only they personally know), but all of that is in the past, and we all look forward to a bright future where Tony Stark can come back with the energy of the first movie. Choosing Shane Black to write and direct was a massively good first move for Marvel, and he’s already saying all the right things.

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