Author: Josh Wigler

Marvel Heading to ‘1602?’

Marvel Heading to ‘1602?’

Recently, Neil Gaiman told MTV’s Splash Page that a film adaptation of his Marvel limited series 1602 would be an excellent idea.

“I would love it if somebody made a 1602 movie,” Gaiman told the site. “I would love to go and see that. That is something I would just love to sit in the audience and eat my popcorn on the first night and feel proud.”

Apparently, he’s not the only one who feels that way. Marvel Studios President of Production Kevin Feige told MTV News that 1602 would be excellent on screen.

“Something like 1602 I think would be really cool to do at sometime down the line. I love it. It is spectacular,” says Feige.

However, Feige concedes, the timing isn’t quite right for Marvel to travel back in time.

“You need to know those characters very well,” explains Feige. “You need to know each and every one of those characters and who their present day reincarnations are in order to enjoy and understand and appreciate how Neil was able to reinvent them and do that period spin on them for 1602. If you don’t know them yet and if they haven’t had their own stories yet, I don’t think it would be as much fun. If you don’t know them well and you haven’t been introduced to them in a similar medium in their traditional environments, plucking them out of that won’t seem as unique or different.”

Written by Neil Gaiman, 1602 is a "What If?" storyline that focuses on classic Marvel heroes such as Spider-Man, Wolverine and Iron Man as set in an Elizabethan time period. It has spawned sequels such as Marvel 1602: Fantastick Four (written by Peter David) and 1602: New World (written by Greg Pak). Gaiman, who is a proponent of a film version of the comic, also says that he’d rather see a Guillermo Del Toro directed Dr. Strange before any version of 1602. The odds of that are fairly high as Feige recently indicated a Strange film could debut post-Avengers. Gaiman was attached to write the Strange script for del Toro and may still be involved.

Whole Lot of Hollywood

Whole Lot of Hollywood

There’s nothing like reading a butt ton of Hollywood news in the morning. Nothing, that is, save for the smell of napalm. Variety and The Hollywood Reporter had their workshop elves up late last night as a whole slew of news pours in today. Because we love you, we’ve summed up the bigger points to make it easier on you fine folks. Feel free to send us baked goods in return.

  • Steven Soderbergh will direct Cleo, a rock ‘n’ roll musical about the life of Cleopatra. Catherine Zeta Jones and Hugh Jackman are being courted to star as Cleopatra and Marc Antony respectively. Soderbergh and Zeta Jones have teamed up previously on Traffic, but this will be the director’s first pairing with Jackman who will appear in Baz Luhrmann’s upcoming musical epic Australia.
  • An adaptation of Electronic Arts’ videogame Army of Two is setting up at Universal Pictures with Bourne Ultimatum co-writer Scott Z. Burns scripting. Variety mentions in its sub-headline that Peter Berg may direct, though there is no further mention of it in the article. Army of Two would add to his already busy film slate that includes Dune and Radical Studios’ Hercules. Universal, which has already acquired BioShock with Gore Verbinski, is looking at Army as a "buddy film."
  • Believe it or not, Ripley’s Believe It or Not breathes new life this morning. Variety reports that Chris Columbus is in talks to direct the Jim Carrey film about columnist-explorer Robert Ripley. News comes in after Tim Burton’s China-based botched attempt in 2007. That storyline has been dropped in favor of Columbus’ pitch. Once his deal is closed, Paramount will hire a writer for the project with an eye at a 2011 release. It’s hoped that Ripley will spawn a franchise.
  • Looks like The A-Team is in for a bumpy ride, as long attached director John Singleton has pulled away from the project. Originally set for a June 2009 release, Twentieth Century Fox now pegs the film for June 2010. No word on how casting will be affected, though Tyrese, oft rumored as B.A. Baracus, has close ties with Singleton, which could prove hopeful for Ice Cube advocates. Fox has also relocated Dwayne Johnson’s Tooth Fairy from June 2009 to November 2009, while Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakuel (no, we’re not kidding) is on track for Christmas Day 2009.
  • Director McG will direct Dead Spy Running based on the upcoming spy novel by Jon Stock. The novel reportedly "aims to reinvent the spy genre," described as a mix of "The Bourne Identity with the works of John Le Carre." McG would direct at least the first installment in a planned trilogy and produce alongside Jeanne Allgood of Wonderland Sound and Vision. McG is in the midst of post-production work on Terminator Salvation.
  • Crispin Glover will play the Knave of Hearts in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland for Disney. The Knave is put on trial for stealing the Queen of Hearts’ tarts and is is defended by Alice. The actor joins Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway and Helena Bonham Carter on the Lewis Carroll adaptaion. This will be Glover’s second experience with performance-capture technology, the first being Robert Zemeckis’s Beowulf.
  • In HBO news, Gary Cole joins the cast of Entourage as Hollywood agent Andrew Klein, Ari Gold’s (Jeremy Piven) oldest friend. Cole will first appear in a three-episode arc in the currently airing fifth season, then return as a series regular for next summer’s sixth season. Klein could step in as Vinnie Chase’s new agent, as the foul-mouthed Gold was offered a studio executive position in the series’ most recent episode. The news comes one day after Variety announced a seventh season of Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm, also on HBO. Curb is HBO’s longest running series.

Aaaaaand we’re spent.

Jack Ryan Returning to Film

Jack Ryan Returning to Film

As reported yesterday, Sam Raimi has abandoned beloved Tom Clancy icon Jack Ryan. The director was attached to reboot the Ryan franchise, but had to bow out to focus on his upcoming Spider-Man sequels.

"Because I’m committed to Spider-Man and making that picture," said Raimi, "I think it’s going to knock me out of the running for the Jack Ryan picture."

Luckily for the spy thriller hero, Raimi’s departure doesn’t necessitate a bullet in the back of Ryan’s brain. According to Moviehole, there are still active plans to launch a reboot. In fact, with Raimi officially off the project, it looks like Ryan will grace the big screen sooner than expected.

"Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Mace Neufeld have been rehired by Paramount as producers on the franchise, with a mandate to come up with a Jack Ryan original ASAP," a source close to Paramount tells the Web site. By Any Means Necessary, the film Raimi planned to reboot the Jack Ryan character, "has been abandoned."

di Bonaventura (Transformers) was previously involved with By Any Means Necessary. Neufeld, meanwhile, has produced every Ryan installment to date from The Hunt for Red October to The Sum of All Fears. He’s overseen three different actors portray the role of Jack Ryan: Alec Baldwin (The Hunt for Red October), Harrison Ford (Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger) and Ben Affleck (The Sum of All Fears). Moviehole wants Harrison Ford to return to the franchise, which is a possibility as the film "may feature an ‘older’ Ryan as opposed to a younger version." It’d be cool to have Ford back in the series, but that would leave Liev Schrieber, who played a younger version of Ryan’s CIA operative pall John Clark in Sum of All Fears. Schrieber was one of the few excellent elements of that film. Willem Dafoe played the role in Clear and Present Danger.

Jack Ryan first appeared in Tom Clancy’s novel The Hunt for Red October in 1984. Since then, he’s elevated from lowly CIA operative to National Security Advisor. In Debt of Honor, Ryan is tapped for the Office of Vice President and is later elevated to the Presidency after his predecessor is assassinated. In the Clancy universe, Ryan is currently retired.

The Hulk: Is He or Isn’t He?

The Hulk: Is He or Isn’t He?

Rule number one of The Hulk: do not make Hulk angry. Rule number two: do not make Hulk angry.

You’d think that the bigwigs at Marvel Studios would’ve gotten that memo, but the way they’ve been playing with Bruce Banner’s bigger half says otherwise. After Ang Lee’s widely panned Hulk, Marvel re-rolled the dice with The Incredible Hulk. The film, starring Edward Norton as the Jade Giant, didn’t do nearly as well as Iron Man but still managed to stomp on its 2003 predecessor in terms of critical acclaim. The DVD of the film was released this past Tuesday.

Still, Hulk’s on-screen future is uncertain. Recent reports pegged the character as the villain for the upcoming Avengers film, with Marvel Studios’ own president of production Kevin Feige echoing the idea. Feige later said that a direct Hulk sequel was up in the air.

"The truth is that Hulk has had two films in the past five years, and it’s time to give some of the other guys a turn," Feige recently said in an MTV interview. "I would expect that people may see the Hulk again soon [possibly in The Avengers] before he is again carrying his own film."

That was the official scoop as of Monday, October 20. Now comes a conflicting report from Gale Anne Hurd, producer on both Ang Lee’s Hulk and Louis Leterrier’s The Incredible Hulk. Hurd says that she has every intention of bringing the Green Meanie back to theaters.


Amritraj Talks New ‘Street Fighter’ Film

Amritraj Talks New ‘Street Fighter’ Film

It’s not easy being green, but it’s even less easy being a movie based on a video game. Such films have a notoriously bad track record, with very few getting passing grades. (Silent Hill comes to mind, and even then, just barely.) Certainly, the Jean-Claude Van Damme starring Street Fighter didn’t wow anybody. If it did, it was more of a "Wow, I can’t believe this is Raul Julia’s last film. Poor guy."

The franchise will take a shot at redemption with the upcoming Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li. The film, starring Kristen Kreuk (Smallville) as Chun Li, is poised to be the one to finally break tradition as a successful video game adaptation. That is, of course, if producer Ashok Amritraj is to be believed.

"Video games are not easy to translate into movies obviously," Armritraj tells Collider in an exclusive interview. "But it’s a double-edged sword.  On the one-hand you have a wonderful awareness and built-in audience, which is very important these days with the crowded market place.  On the other hand, you have to make sure you please your core audience and it’s not always easy to do."

But there’s confidence that Chun Li will be the film to finally get it right.

"I really think we have a good film," he says. "[Kristin Kreuk’s] absolutely terrific in the film … and we feel it works."


Does ‘Heroes’ Need Saving?

Does ‘Heroes’ Need Saving?

Entertainment Weekly’s latest issue features an op/ed on the current affairs of NBC’s number two drama Heroes. The article, written by Lost aficionado Jeff "Doc" Jensen, points out that this season averages 9.4 million viewers per episode, down from last season’s average of 11.6 million. This season, the series reached its lowest number ever at 8.2 million viewers. Though Heroes is still a top performer for NBC, it’s no longer the powerhouse it used to be. Jensen offers up five reasons for the show’s failure and recommendations on how to fix the problems.

1) Too Many Heroes
Characters like Greg Grunberg’s telepathic cop Matt Parkman and Sendhil Ramamurthy’s scientist-turned-monster Mohinder Suresh have gotten stale. While Suresh has a newly invigorated story, it’s more or less a glorified version of Spider-Man nemesis The Lizard. Parkman, as EW points out, spent an entire three episodes in the desert learning the yawn inducing details of his future. Jensen suggests killing off some top tier heroes in order to restore the life and death stakes of the show.

2) Absurd Plot Twists
Several plotlines, such as Nathan Petrelli’s (Adrian Pasdar) born again faith in God, Hiro’s (Masi Oka) boredom-inspired "save the world" adventure and the aforementioned Suresh transformation are too far fetched even for Heroes, says Jensen. In order to reinvigorate the show, Heroes needs to break way from such lazy writing by making their characters smarter.


New ‘Watchmen’ and ‘Spirit’ Footage

New ‘Watchmen’ and ‘Spirit’ Footage

At the Spike TV 2008 Scream Awards last night, Watchmen director Zack Snyder and actors Malin Akerman, Carla Gugino and Jeffrey Dean Morgan introduced a never before seen extended trailer for the film. Highlights of the trailer include:

– Dr. Manhattan with Silk Spectre on Mars
– Rorschach investigating The Comedian’s apartment after his death
– A glimpse of Adrian Veidt’s arctic lair
– Manhattan blowing up a tank, a Vietnamese soldier, and sticking his hand in the middle of Ozymandias’s base
– The dream sequence where Nite Owl and Silk Spectre kiss against an atomic backdrop
– An extended look at The Comedian’s death, including a good look at the bloodied smiley face button.

To check out the trailer for yourself, as well as a rundown of new scenes featured in the trailer, head over to Watchmen Comic Movie.

Additionally, Yahoo! has premiered a featurette for Frank Miller’s upcoming The Spirit. The video offers a behind-the-scenes look at the history behind the character and the making of the movie. Highlights include:

– Samuel L. Jackson as the Octopus, wearing a never-before-seen samurai garb
– The Octopus beating down on the Spirit while shouting, "There’s nothing I like better than kicking your ass all night long!"
– Frank Miller’s insight into the character: "He can’t fly, he’s not super strong, but he can take an awful lot of punishment."
– Beautiful women, including Scarlett Johansson’s Silken Floss, Eva Mendes’ Sand Saref and Paz Vega’s Plaster of Paris
– Frank Miller’s claim that "this film is not a tribute to Will Eisner, it’s a tribute to The Spirit."

Check out the featurette by clicking here.

War Machine Storms the Internet

War Machine Storms the Internet

Slash Film has unearthed a largely overlooked cache of concept artwork from this past summer’s Iron Man movie. Artist Phil Saunders was commissioned to create official designs of for three separate armors originally slated to appear in the film.

According to Saunders, the designs were "three images I did at the very end of production as alternate suit designs that would have been in a Hall of Armor coda at the end of the film."

Of the War Machine armor pictured right, Saunders says: "I spent a lot of time on developing this suit, which was of course cut from the script about half way through pre-production. Originally it was going to be called the MK IV armor and would have been weaponized swap-out parts that would be worn over the original MK III armor. Earlier versions were red and gold, and would have ben worn by Tony Stark in the final battle sequence."

Saunders is quick to note that if War Machine appears in Iron Man 2, "it’s unlikely to be this one." As many fans are now aware, the man who would wear the War Machine armor is also different than the man in Iron Man. Terrence Howard, who portrayed Jim Rhodes in the first film, will be replaced by Don Cheadle in the sequel.

In addition to the War Machine armor, Saunders presents two other armors: an aquatic suit and a stealth suit. The stealth suit design attempts at "suggesting ‘stealth’ technology in the surface treatment of the suit, [and was] ultimately abandoned as not being classic enough." The aquatic armor design represents an underwater suit requested by Avi Arad for licensing and merchandising purposes.

"Needless to say," says Saunders, "the underwater suit never saw the light of days, but in homage to Avi, I drew this one up as a possible addition to [Tony’s] hall of armor."

Head over to Slash Film to check out the unused stealth and aquatic armor designs.

‘Dexter’ Claims Two More Seasons

‘Dexter’ Claims Two More Seasons

If you thought becoming a family man would soften the Bay Harbor Butcher’s resolve, guess again.

The trades have announced that Showtime has picked up Dexter for an additional two seasons. Currently in its third year, Dexter is Showtime’s top-rated drama series. The show averages 2.5 million viewers per week, and is likely to exceed three million viewers when DVR and on-demand numbers roll in.

"I thought at best we would attract a devoted cult audience but soon realized that, ironically, this show is so thematically rich and layered with humanity that audiences of all kinds have flocked to it," says Showtime president of entertainment Robert Greenblatt of Dexter‘s success.

Executive producer Clyde Phillips tells E! Online that he’s elated by the news, especially considering that he and his co-workers were not convinced that this season would enjoy the success of previous years.

"We were concerned because we were creating the show this year out of a whole cloth, whereas the first two years we had Jeff Lindsay’s book," says Phillips. "[In the second season, we] had Dexter in danger, and is he going to get caught … [this] year, we didn’t have any of that. So we’re really proud that we were able to put together a well thought out, well nuanced and exciting storyline for this year."

That’s in no small thanks to the newly arrived Jimmy Smits, who plays Miami Assistant District Attorney Miguel Prado in the new season.

"I have to tell you, when Jimmy and Michael [C. Hall] do a scene, we all go down and watch just because it’s like watching two amazing actors on a stage," says Phillips. "As far as we’re concerned, when we’re sitting in the editing room, those guys are winning Emmys everyday. "

This year, Dexter received five Emmy nominations, including ones for best lead actor (Michael C. Hall) and best drama series. It has won several other awards, including Satellite Awards for Best Drama Series, Best Actor, and Best Supporting Actor to David Zayas for his role as Angel Batista.

Dexter‘s fourth season will go into production this spring in Los Angeles. The fourth and fifth seasons will consist of 12 episodes each.

In related television news, ABC has picked up the back nine for Private Practice, assuring a full season.  Maybe Dexter could pay them a visit and put the tortured medics out of their self-involved misery.

‘Dr. Strange’ Makes Movie Magic?

‘Dr. Strange’ Makes Movie Magic?

Marvel Studios President of Production Kevin Feige tells MTV News that he wants to bring Dr. Stephen Strange to the big screen in the not too distant future.

When asked if he thinks the Master of the Mystic Arts would translate well on film, Feige answers, "Very much so."

"I’d say in the next year, year and a half, as we start putting together our film slate for 2012 and 2013, I would not be shocked if we saw Dr. Strange on those lists. I love the idea of tapping into the magical realm of the Marvel Universe, which is fairly significant and hasn’t yet seen life on screen. It’s something I’m very, very interested in."

For the detractors who say Strange is too, er, strange and obscure for a mainstream audience, Feige points out that it wasn’t long ago that Tony Stark was an obscure character himself.

"I remember two years ago at Comic Con, the cover of the ‘LA Times Calendar Section,’ red ‘Marvel calls out the B team’ and there was a picture of Iron Man," says Feige. "We don’t look at [these characters] as ‘B team.’ Dr. Strange? This is one of the best characters we have."

The good doctor is no stranger to appearances away from the page.  He has been seen in numerous animated series starting with Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends and at one point was being voiced by John Vernon (Animal House) who was the very first vocie artist for Iron Man back in the 1960s.