Tagged: Captain America

Marvel Movie Round-Up UPDATED

As this summer season winds down, Sony is looking three years ahead. According to Deadline, they have already staked out May 2, 2014 for the sequel to 2012’s Amazing Spider-Man. James Vanderbilt, who penned the first script, has already been tapped for the sequel although it’s way too soon to know anything about the content. The first film continues production although footage shown at Comic-Con International wowed skeptical audiences. Additionally, fans were stunned when star Andrew Garfield took the mike, dressed in a store-bought Spidey suit and read from notes about what the character means to him, apparently truly heartfelt words.

UPDATE:  The Hollywood Reporter says that Marvel has staked out two weekends in 2014 for two unnamed films. Two weeks after the Spider-Man sequel, May will see Marvel To Come #1. The second Marvel movie will open June 27, and since that’s around July 4 we’re willing to bet this will be eventually be called Captain America 2 .

Meanwhile, Naturi Naughton, about to be seen weekly in NBC’s The Playboy Club, has been signed to portray Cecilia Reyes in 20th Century-Fox’s The Wolverine. The sequel, starring Hugh Jackman, is in production for a 2012 release. Directed by James Mangold, the story is largely based on the classic Wolverine miniseries written by Chris Claremont and illustrated by Frank Miller and is set in Japan. Reyes was not a character in that story, introduced decades later.

In the Marvel Film Universe proper, 2013’s Thor 2 may see Brian Kirk in the director’s chair. Kirk, who gained acclaim for his work on HBO’s Game of Thrones, would replace Kenneth Branagh, who bowed out recently.

In a decision seeming out of left field, Twitchfilm reports that Marvel Studios has placed the futuristic Guardians of the Galaxy into active development. First introduced in Marvel Super-Heroes #18, released in 1969, the quartet of freedom fighters from the 27th Century. The team has grown and evolved through the years with more than a few ties to the modern day Marvel Universe. Whether those connections would remain on screen is unknown. It joins Black Panther, Ant-Man, Doctor Strange, and Iron Fist in the second tier of characters being readied.

While an early announcement, Amazing Spider-Man 2 is not the first major property to stake out 2014 dates. Already on the schedule are DreamWorks’ Mr. Peabody & Sherman, due out March 21 and their How to Train Your Dragon 2 is expected June 20. In the same THR report, Pixar has claimed Memorial Day weekend for an untilted film as well.

As for Marvel’s rival, DC Entertainment has announced no super-heroics beyond 2013’s Supeman: Man of Steel although The Flash, Green Lantern 2, and Justice League of America were all recently mentioned by Wanrer Bros. President Jeff Robinov as being developed


LET THERE BE PULP- Examining where Pulp Classics Start- by Frank Schildiner

Millions, including your humble narrator, await the opening of the new CAPTAIN AMERICA feature film, one that promises to bring the character back to his Simon and Kirby roots. But old Cap has a troubled history with Hollywood that has this writer shuddering at the thought of a return to the bad old days of horrific Captain America films.

Captain America first hit the big screen as a 1944 Republic Pictures serial and has the distinction of being that studio’s last superhero film. But the studio that created such incredible hero serials as THE ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN MARVEL, a film renown for some of the best stunts in history, and the spectacular cliffhangers of SPY SMASHER, seriously dropped the ball on this film. To call this film a disaster for all Captain America fans is a mild statement, this serial is just painful.

Let’s start with some basics about Captain America, the very basis of the character. Every fan knows Captain America is Steve Rogers, a weakling turned into the perfect man through the legendary super-soldier formula. Throughout World War Two he fought evil Nazis in the frontline of battle, dressed in star spangled chain mail and carrying a red, white and blue shield. Sounds like an easy setup for a film shot during WWII, right?

Not so for Republic Pictures! No, suddenly Captain America is District Attorney Grant Gardner who fights crime with his fists and a pistol. Steve Rogers does not exist in this world and this hero is an unimpressive type who appeared slightly overweight. This was not a mere perception of a disgruntled fan, the actor who played the part, Dick Purcell, died of a heart attack prior to release. The cause of death being the stunts weas too much of a strain on the poor miscast actor’s heart. And yes, Cap’s signature weapon is replaced by a pistol. Oh and his costume was transformed from chain mail to cloth with the signature eagle wings on his mask also removed. Any connection to the Captain America created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby appears accidental by the time this film in completed. 

The villain of the piece was legendary Universal Films horror star, Lionel Atwill as a villain called The Scarab. Atwill adds an eerie menace to the role and was considered one of the bright lights in this production.

The reason for these bizarre changes to the character was, in the opinion of writer/film historian Don Glut, this film was originally a script meant as a sequel to THE MYSTERIOUS DOCTOR SATAN. That famed serial had a hero named Copperhead who did use a pistol and fought crime. This appears to be as good an explanation as any about this terrible serial, though it did keep Cap from appearing in any feature films until an unauthorized appearance in a Turkish action film called 3 DEV ADAM. Should you wish a truly bizarre film experience, view this one…one hint, the villain is a potbellied Spider-Man with huge green eyebrows who regenerates himself once being killed…poor Cap…


PULP-FEST 2011-Convention Coverage by Ron Fortier

There’s an old adage that says the more fun you are having, the faster time flies. And that could not be truer of last week-ends rocket train ride through the third convening of Pulp Fest in Columbus, Ohio. And before I go rambling on about my experiences and thoughts, let me tip my pulp fedora to promoters Jack Cullers, Mike Chomko & Ed Hulse for once again putting on a truly fun and exciting program with a little of something for all pulp enthusiast. The pulp community is expanding yearly thanks to efforts of men like these and the emerging of the New Pulp Fiction movement that is sweeping the literary world. More on that in a second.

Thursday Night July 28.

Captain Ron Fortier & Rob Davis of Airship 27 Productions.

I landed at the airport in Indianapolis where my partner and pal in Airship 27 Productions, Rob Davis, was waiting for me. In the past I’d flown from Denver to Chicago and then transferred to another plane for Columbus, but this year Rob explained that on his eight hour drive up from his home in Missouri, he actually drove right past the Indy airport. It would be no trouble to stop and pick me up. The idea of only doing one flight and not having to make another hop was all the prodding I needed. Beside this way, I could spend three hours coming and going with Rob and that would afford us a wonderful opportunity to get caught up on what we were doing with Airship 27, where our various books were in development and make plans for the future.

Writers Michael Croteau & Win Scott Eckert

Which is exactly how it all worked out. By the time we registered into the Con’s hotel it was just after 11 p.m. and we met several familiar pulp pals in the lobby. They told us the courtesy room was opened up on the sixth floor and after getting squared away in our own room on the third, we went up to see what was going on. Much to our pleasure, we found writer Win Scott Eckert holding court with other pulp friends talking about this year’s bumper crop of hero movies, the good, the bad…and the ugly. (Can anyone say Green Hornet movie..without gagging?) And this is as good a place as any to related one of the truly special features of this year’s Pulp Fest; the fact that they incorporated the Annual Farmer Con, a meeting of fans devoted to the many works of the late science fiction and fantasy writer, Philip Jose Farmer. Win is one of the leading members of this group and he and his Farmer colleagues had set up various panels etc. to focus on the popular author and his works during the weekend. One of the things all of us wondered, and hoped, was that by including this other facet of pulp fandom, the number of attendees would swell and sure enough, that’s exactly what did happen to everyone’s benefit.
Having had a great chat with Win and his pals about the new Captain America movie, Rob and I finally called it a day and went back to our room with really high hopes this was going to be a really fun show.

Friday July 29

Pulp Amigos (left to right) Jim Beard, Duane Spurlock,
Captain Ron, Frank Schildiner & John Bruening.

Up early, we had breakfast in the hotel restaurant then went out to Rob’s rental car to start unpacking our books, comics and other items to fill our table with. The main hucksters room of the con was on the first level and they had the doors open when we arrived. We registered, got our packages and went in to find our table. Happily the con crew had given us the same exact wall table as we’d anchored last year, so soon Rob was unpacking his half dozen boxes, setting up his magazine racks and tacking up our huge, colorful Airship 27 banner on that wall behind us. Only to have it promptly peel off the second we sat down. Seemed the humidity wasn’t helping the adhesive tape at all and it just wouldn’t adhere to the wall. Of course, as always happens at these shows, a lady at a table across from the aisle from us, witnessed our dilemma and promptly came over and gave us her role of “duck” tape. Which worked perfectly. That banner never bothered us again, ah, the miracle properties of “duck” tape.

Wild Cat Books own Bill Carney (designer)
& Ron Hanna, Managing Editor.

All too soon it was 10 a.m. and the doors were officially opened to the public and our con experience was off and running. Although I don’t have the exact numbers, Ed Hulse mentioned in a podcast interview two weeks before the show, that they expected to have a minimum of a hundred vendor tables, to include several New Pulp publishers like Airship 27 Productions. Some of those we immediately recognized were Altus Press and Wild Cat books, both terrific outfits, even if they are our “friendly” competitors. One of the truly cool things about pulp fandom is that camaraderie among all the participants and even if there is some rivalry, it’s all honestly friendly. All these fellows produce great books and the same can be said for new reprint outfits that have sprung up over the past few years to rescue stories being lost in yellow, dog-eared magazines, ala Black Dog Press, Ace of Adventures, Haffner Press and several others represented at the show.

Looking for video oldies from Cultural Historian
Martin Gram Jr.’s table of goodies.

Of course the original pulp collectors and sellers do make up the majority of dealers and some of the rare books they had on display were simply amazing. Talk about paper treasures. Then there were the related dealers like the poster and toy folks, and as ever, our buddy Martin Gram Jr. with his vast DVD offerings of long lost film classics and my favorites, the serial cliffhangers. Martin is a cultural historian and this year was giving a night time presentation on the history of the Shadow in radio, where he first originated before being transported to the world of the pulps.

Author Wayne Reinagel giving Victory sign.
Having a great time.

By mid-morning, our sales were surprisingly brisk and it was all too easy to see there were lots more people at the show this year. Normally Fridays are a bit slow as it is still a working day for locals and if we sell even a few books, we’re happy. But by afternoon we’d sold nearly half our stock of titles. Just amazing. And lots of old amigos had stopped by to say hi, many of them fellow pulp creators. Writers Duane Spurlock, Jim Beard and comics pro Tony Isabella all stopped by our table to say hello and it was, as ever great to get caught up with this friends. During the course of the afternoon, there were three readings in the adjoining conference hall followed by questions and answers with the writers. These included Duane, Wayne Reinagel and Win Scott Eckert. These sessions are great for pulp fans to meet the best and brightest of the new pulp creators in a very one on one setting. Pulp Fest started them with their first show three years ago and they’ve become a welcome staple.

Pulp Historian/columnist, Mark Halegua
 with cool pulp tees.

Soon the day was waning down and it was time to close up shop for the day. It has become a tradition with me and Rob, to hit up the Spaghetti Warehouse for dinner on the first night of the show and tagging along with us were Wayne, Mark Halegua and writer Greg Gick. As usual the food was excellent. Mark returned to the con hotel as he wanted to catch some of the evening events such as Martin Gram’s history of the Shadow on radio and such panels as Wild American Pulp Artists hosted by David Saunders, the son of legendary pulp artist Norm Saunders. There was also an amazing presentation by the Farmer crew on The Shadow and the Wold Neuton, which featured Michael Croteau, Win Eckert, Mary Turzillo, Rick Lai, Will Murray and Art Sippo.
Whereas Rob and Greg had not seen the Captain America movie yet, I opted to go with him to find a local theater and see it a second time. Happily we arrived at a local cinema ten minutes before an 8 PM showing. Captain America –The First Avenger is my favorite movie of the year, hands down and seeing it a second time with fellow comic fans was twice as much fun. By the time we returned to our room, the feeling was Friday had been a huge success and we had high expectations for Saturday, traditionally the big “sales” day at any show.

Saturday, July 30

Writers Rick Lai & Frank Schildiner with Lisa Eckert.

Buoyed by the previous day’s sales, Rob and I were eager to get Saturday rolling. And several of our pulp amigos who were coming to the show for only this one day soon started arriving. These included John Bruening, one of our Airship 27 proof-readers who has been with us since the start. Writer Frank Schildiner had come in during the wee hours of the morning, his plane from New Jersey having been repeatedly delayed by severe thunderstorms on the East Coast. Frank would be spending only one day at the show and flying home early the next morning. You can well imagine how exhausted he looked when he appeared in the hucksters room, and yet there was a huge smile on his face as he set about enjoying his first ever pulp con. Another one day traveler was writer Bill Craig, who brought along his precocious six year old son, Jack. Bill’s a single dad and he’s doing a great job raising Jack to appreciate the cool things in this life, like comics and pulps.

Captain Ron & Comic Related guru Chuck Moore. 

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the visit from Comic Related’s own Big Kahuna himself, my dear amigo, Chuck Moore. Chuck is truly one of the finest souls I know in this world and his coming up to spend the day with us meant so much to both me and Rob. The last time Chuck and I had seen each other was at last year’s super Champion City Con in Springfield, Ohio. So I absolutely loved being able to catch up with him, if only for a short little while. Trust me, things were always hopping.
All too soon it was 1 p.m. and time for me to don my Captain Ron persona and head out to the conference room where I would moderate a one hour panel on New Pulp Fiction.

Captain Ron moderating panel
on New Pulp Fiction.

New Pulp Fiction has become a major force in the current Pulp Renaissance sweeping American literature and other media such as TV shows and movies. It has revitalized the entire pulp fandom, which was on the verge of going extinct only a few years ago. Now it is stronger and healthier than ever with lots of new, young fans discovering this amazing literature for the very first time thanks to today’s crop of super talented pulp authors. On my panel were six of the finest; Win Scott Eckert, Dr.Art Sippo, Wayne Reinagel, Greg Gick, Bill Craig and Duane Spurlock.

Writers Dr.Art Sippo, Greg Gick and Rick Lai.

Once every one was settled in their seats, we got the discussion going, with my asking these creative folks why they had chosen to write pulp over other better known and popular genres. Their insightful answers propelled the next forty minutes beautifully, giving our audience of thirty five or so lots things to think about. We went onto to a ten minute question and answer period then I offered each of the writers a few minutes to promote their latest projects. It was one of the most enjoyable hours I’ve ever had and our audience was most appreciative. Enough so that several have asked us to do this panel on a regular basis from now on. In fact several writers in our audience later approached me about sitting in on the panel next time we do one. Sounds like a plan to me. And again my thanks to the Pulp Fest promoters for welcoming this New Pulp movement and supporting as much as they do.
Back at the table, Rob somehow managed to survive, using his i-Pad to keep little Jack entertained with cartoons while his dad sat on our panel. In the end, Bill was thrilled to have been able to come to the show and enjoy it as much as he did thanks to Rob’s looking after his son. We’ve since tagged Rob as the Sitinator, it’s like the Terminator, only much tougher. Ha.

Eventually as the day once again came to a speedy finale, we were having to say good-bye to our pals, ala Jim Beard, John Bruening, Frank Schildiner and of course Chuck. That’s the part of shows I do hate, having to say so-long, until next time. Before leaving the hall, Rob and I did a quick tally and it appeared we’d sold nearly 80% of our stock. Our best seller at this year was clearly DAMABALLA by Charles Saunders, the premier of the first ever African American 1930s pulp hero. We sold out our entire stock. Both on Saunder’s already established reputation and on the book’s ground breaking conceit. Our second top seller was SHERLOCK HOLMES – CONSULTING DETECTIVE Vol III which came as no real surprise. The previous two volumes remain big sellers for us and its obvious Holmes & Watson fans just can’t get enough of their adventures. Expect to see this series continue for a long time with us.

Long time pulp fan Anthony Tollin
accepting the Munsey Award.

Dinner Sat. night was at a Round Robin, where Janet & Elie Harriet joined us, along with Wayne Reinagel and Mark Halegua. It was time for a good old fashion American burger. After we’d eaten, we returned to the con to catch up on the evening’s activities. These included the presentation of the Munsey Awards to that individual who has done much to promote and support pulps and their fandom. This year’s recipient was former DC Colorist, Anthony Tollin, currently reprinting the entire run of the Shadow and Doc Savage in new deluxe editions. A well deserved win. Rob and I attended a presentation called, Steampunk in the Days of Dime Novels and the Pulps, wherein Prof. Garyn Roberts gave us a short slide show history of this rapidly growing sub-genre of sci-fi fiction. Although considering its true pulp roots, I believe the name Steampunk is not accurate and fandom should be adopting the phrase coined by writer Wayne Reinagel, Steampulp!! And nobody writes it better than Wayne.
The evening concluded with the yearly auction where lots of great old pulps and other paper treasures were sold to some very happy pulp attendees. Once again, another great day at Pulp Fest came to a successful ending.

Sunday, July 31

Posters Galore!

A quick walk around the parking lot to stretch our legs before going back into the all for the final hours of the show. Sunday mornings are generally slow as molasses, though you do still get a few people trickling in. Thing is, most shows generally drop the admission fees for these last-minute visitors as was the case here. Rob and I chatted a bit with our remaining con neighbors and pals then around 11 a.m., it was time to start packing up our remaining stock.
Lo and behold, we’re almost done when I see my Comic Related amigos, Dustin Carson & Chad Strohl come walking through the main door. I was both happy to see them and saddened that we couldn’t get to visit all that much. Rob was kind enough to let me talk with them for about a half hour, as he was more than capable of packing up the car by himself. Dustin & Chad had remembered the show was on and decided to drive up from Springfield to see me. Pals like that are all too rare and I can’t ever thank them enough. Hopefully next year they can come up on Sat. and really get the full fun of the show.

Ron Fortier and
Comic Writer/Historian Tony Isabella

Then it was time to head out for the three hour drive back to Indianapolis, which once again, allowed Rob and me to reflect on this year’s show, what a huge hit it had been and what our plans for the next year will be. Pulp fandom is growing rapidly and now there are three terrific shows lined for 2012, starting with Pulp Ark in April, Windy City in May and once again, Pulp Fest in late Sept. Airship 27 Productions will be at all three, raring to go with lots more new titles, only too eager to spend time with some of the nicest, most creative people on the planet. We hope next year, lots of you reading these words will make the effort to join us. You will not be sorry you did.

Marvel Partners with Williams-Sonoma

In the what won’t thiey think of next department, we just received this release about Kitchen ware. Yes, when you’re ready to get back to baking as the summer heat fades, you can decorate your fall cupcakes for school with Marvel heroes. Interestingly, as seen in the graphic, classic Marvel Age artwork is being used, clearly appealing to an older demographic.

New York, NY, August 3, 2011 – Marvel Entertainment, LLC, a global character-based entertainment licensing company, and Williams-Sonoma, a member of the Williams-Sonoma, Inc. portfolio of brands, today announced the launch of an exclusive collection of Super Hero kitchen and bakeware merchandise exclusively sold at Williams-Sonoma. Designed exclusively for the retailer, the products include renowned Super Heroes from the Marvel Universe including Spider-Man, Hulk, Captain America and Iron Man.  Featuring retro character art and graphics, the Williams-Sonoma collection captures the charm and artistry of the original Marvel Comics.

The program launches with an array of bakeware and kitchen essentials including Cookie Cutters, Pancake Molds, Adult and Child Aprons, Spatulas and Iced Cookies.  Product will be available at all Williams-Sonoma stores in the U.S. and Canada, and also via catalog and online at www.williams-sonoma.com/.

“Building upon our incredibly successful relationship with Williams-Sonoma Inc., we are excited to launch a great new line of merchandise at Williams-Sonoma stores, bringing the Marvel brand to another audience and product segment,” said Paul Gitter, President of Consumer Products for North America, Marvel Entertainment. “We are working with Williams-Sonoma on helping kids and adults spend time together in the kitchen.

Derrick Ferguson Ducks The Mighty Shield of CAPTAIN AMERICA

Marvel Studios/Paramount Pictures
Directed by Joe Johnston
Produced by Kevin Feige
Screenplay by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely
Based on “Captain America” created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby
Before we get into the review, please indulge me for a minute…hit it:

I had hopes that when Jon Favreau snuck in the 1960’s Iron Man theme song, they’d find a way to do it in other movies based on Marvel superheroes.  Such was not the case.  “Star-Spangled Man” was okay, but it can’t beat this song.  Maybe in the sequel.  And I have no doubt that there will be a sequel as CAPTAIN AMERICA is in my head, fighting “Iron Man” and “Thor” as the best Marvel superhero movie made to date.  Joe Johnston doesn’t get a single thing wrong in this movie which is actually two movies in one: it’s not only a superhero movie but it’s a World War II movie as well and never to the two elements clash with each other. 
4F Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) tries time and time again to enlist in the U.S. Army as he desperately wants to do his part and fight the Nazis.  But his list of physical aliments prevents that until chance puts him in the path of Professor Erskine (Stanley Tucci).  The professor left Germany to willingly work for the United States on his greatest experiment: The Super Soldier Serum which can transform a man into the perfect human.  Erskine wants to try his serum on Steve as he is impressed with the man’s heart and compassion.
Colonel Phillips (Tommy Lee Jones) the head of the Super Soldier Project isn’t so sure this scrawny specimen is the right man.  But Agent Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) of the Strategic Scientific Reserve agrees with Erskine and the experiment goes ahead.  Steve is endowed with enhanced strength, reflexes, heightened senses and a metabolism that heals him at a faster rate than normal.  Tragedy dims the success of the project and as a result Steve is regulated to being used a mere publicity tool to sell war bonds, going on USO tours as ‘Captain America’ dressed in a gaudy red, white and blue costume.
But over in Europe, the war isn’t waiting for Steve.  Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving) is the head of HYDRA, a separate organization within the Nazi party dedicated to developing advanced weaponry for its own purposes.  Schmidt is also known as The Red Skull, due to an unfortunate side effect of Erskine’s Super Soldier Serum which he took himself.  Along with his chief scientist Arnim Zola (Toby Jones) The Red Skull has his own plan of world domination that doesn’t involve Hitler.
Things really kick into high gear when Steve, fed up with being treated as a joke, goes on a one-man rescue mission behind enemies lines to rescue his best friend James Buchanan ‘Bucky’ Barnes (Sebastian Stan) and over four hundred prisoners of war, including a bunch of fightin’ fools known as The Howling Commandos (Neil McDonough, Derek Luke, Kenneth Choi, Bruno Ricci and J.J. Field).
Captain America, now a front line soldier with Bucky and The Howling Commandos backing him up as well as a new protective uniform and shield developed by genius inventor/industrialist/futurist Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper) is regarded as a genuine real American hero.  His battles are rapidly becoming the stuff of legend.  But it’s a legend that may be cut short when he finally confronts The Red Skull…
There are so many things that CAPTAIN AMERICA gets right I could easily take about an hour listing them.  Elements of the origin are moved around but the spirit of the character is intact.  Chris Evans finds exactly the right note for Steve Rogers/Captain America and never strays from it.  Just like when he played Johnny Storm/The Human Torch in the two “Fantastic Four” movies, I get the impression that he took the time to read the comics.
The only problem I have with Tommy Lee Jones is that his character wasn’t named “Happy Sam” Sawyer since to me that’s who he’s playing.  Neil McDonough is absolutely scary in how much he looks like “Dum Dum” Dugan.  And he sounds exactly like I always heard Dugan’s voice in my head while reading those “Sgt. Fury” comic books.  The changes in the relationship between Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes is one I thought made that relationship even stronger.  I really liked how Tony Stark’s dad got in on a lot of the action and we get to see a lot of where Tony gets his swagger from.  Hugo Weaving and Toby Jones make for an effective pair of bad guys and Hayley Atwell steals every scene she’s in as Peggy Carter, a woman definitely ahead of her time.
But the star behind the scenes is Joe Johnston who I’ve been telling you folks for years now is a genius.  Hopefully the success of CAPTAIN AMERICA will cause people to finally acknowledge “The Rocketeer” as the masterpiece it is.  And “Jurassic Park III” and “The Wolfman” ain’t bad either.
So should you see CAPTAIN AMERICA?  Are you kidding me?  What are you waiting for?  

Ultimate Spider-Man 2 Revealed to be Black-Hispanic

The Ultimate Universe’s next Spider-Man will be a half-black, half-Hispanic teen named Miles Morales. As revealed in today’s USA Today, the new Ultimate Spider-Man #1 will be the most radical next step in differentiating the imprint from the core Marvel Universe.

Brian Michael Bendis, one of the Ultimate Universe’s chief architects, will write the new series, debuting in September, with art from Sara Pichelli. But first, Morales will be introduced in this week’s Ultimate Fallout #4. The miniseries’ title refers to the repercussions felt in the superhero community over recent events including the death of Peter Parker.

“The theme is the same: With great power comes great responsibility,” Bendis told the newspaper. “He’s going to learn that. Then he has to figure out what that means.”

The notion of making Parker’s successor a man of color was partly inspired by the NBC series Community. Star Donald Glover had been campaigning via Twitter for consideration as the lead in the Sony reboot of the live-action film series, a role that was given to Andrew Garfield. Last fall, the season premiere featured Glover in Spider-Man pajamas. “He looked fantastic!” Bendis said. “I saw him in the costume and thought, ‘I would like to read that book.’ So I was glad I was writing that book.”

The Italian artist used Glover as the inspiration for Morales’ look much as the Ultimate Nick Fury was largely inspired by Samuel L. Jackson who went on to play Fury in the Marvel Universe film series beginning with Iron Man  in 2008.

“It’s certainly long overdue,” Bendis said. “Even though there’s some amazing African-American and minority characters bouncing around in all the superhero universes, it’s still crazy lopsided.” It should be noted that the Spider-Man who operated with organic webshooters in the 2099 speculative future line of comics was a Hispanic named Miguel O’Hara. Morales will also be the product of a mixed heritage, much as Alonso himself is from a mix of cultures (his father is Mexican, his mother is British).

“What you have is a Spider-Man for the 21st century who’s reflective of our culture and diversity. We think that readers will fall in love with Miles Morales the same way they fell in love with Peter Parker,” Axel Alonso, Marvel’s Editor-in-Chief, told the paper. Parker’s supporting cast, including Gwen Stacy and Aunt May will figure in the early storylines.

Spider-Man was created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko in 1962 and by 1999 it was decided the series (and the larger Marvel Universe) was a little too insular for the casual reader. Then-president Bill Jemas decided a parallel line of books could take those core concepts and retell the stories using modern storytelling and characterizations. The Ultimate Universe was introduced in 2000 and was an immediate success, powered by Bendis and Mark Bagley’s Spider-Man. By 2010, though, the UU and MU were strikingly similar so things were dramatically shaken up in a series of cataclysmic events that shook the UU’s status quo, beginning with the wholesale slaughter of half the X-Men, including Wolverine. Those events continued to play out, leading to Spider-Man’s heroic sacrifice, taking a bullet from the Punisher, intended for Captain America.

The Comic To Movie Trifecta: “Cowboys And Aliens”, “Smurfs”, “Captain America” Take Top 3

The Comic To Movie Trifecta: “Cowboys And Aliens”, “Smurfs”, “Captain America” Take Top 3

The Smurfs

Image via Wikipedia

For the first time in movie history, the top three highest grossing films in a weekend are all adapted from comics.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Little blue Smurfs and not-so-little green men from space are in a photo finish for the No. 1 spot at the weekend box office.

Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford’s sci-fi Western “Cowboys & Aliens” and the family adventure “The Smurfs” both opened with $36.2 million, according to studio estimates Sunday.

That leaves Sony’s “Smurfs” and Universal’s “Cowboys & Aliens” tied for the top spot. Figuring out the No. 1 movie will have to wait until final numbers are counted Monday.

The previous weekend’s top movie, “Captain America: The First Avenger,” slipped to No. 3 with $24.9 million and raised its domestic total to $116.8 million.

Now of course, the question– is this a trend that will last? Or is this the high water mark?

Also: ComicsBeat has a great take on what this means for Platinum Studios, complete with business accounts for those of us who like this sort of thing.

MARC ALAN FISHMAN: X-Men – Built By The McMansion of Ideas

Wikipedia (truly the only place to learn stuff these days) defines McMansion as “a pejorative term for a large new house which is judged as pretentious, tasteless, or badly designed for its neighborhood.” When I read that term, one comic franchise comes to mind. Color me snarky this morning, kiddos, but I feel the need to rant about those kooky carnival clowns known as the X-Men. Let me go tape up my fists and put in my mouth guard. This one’s gonna get ooogly.

I’ve little doubt when Stan and Jack (I’ve no right to call them that, but screw it…) created the titular teens with wonky talents, it was done for a reason. More than DC, Marvel’s characters come pre-baked with personal turmoil. Peter Parker, the every-nerd… Bruce Banner, the mild-mannered man who can’t get mad… and who would not list Hank Pym, the small-then-big-then-small-then-big wife-beating man-of-science? The X-Men were no different. Here we had basically innocent kids being picked on and ostracized for being not normal. Make any parable of that you want. Black? Gay? Bi-sexual? Transgendered? Jewish? OK, probably not Jewish. More to the point though… in the beginning, the X-Men were a fantastic concept, anchored by amazing art. Of course they were a direct rip-off of the Doom Patrol, but let’s not get into that argument. Since their humble start in the funnies, the X-Men have since become a continuity-hampered, impossible to follow nightmare.


Marvel Wins Summary Judgments In Jack Kirby Estate Rights Lawsuits

Marvel Wins Summary Judgments In Jack Kirby Estate Rights Lawsuits

Photo of Jack Kirby at the San Diego Comic Con...

Jack Kirby. Image via Wikipedia

Deadline reports that the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York has delivered a summary judgment for Disney/Marvel and other studios Sony, Universal, 20th Century Fox and Paramount Pictures against the Jack Kirby Estate in the matter of notice of copyright termination.

The estate of Jack Kirby, co-creator of Captain America, Fantastic Four, X-Men, The Avengers, Iron Man, Hulk, Silver Surfer and Thor, sent notices terminating copyright to publishers Marvel and Disney, as well as film studios that have made movies and TV shows based on characters he created or co-created, including Sony, Universal, 20th Century Fox and Paramount Pictures.

The federal judge not only granted the studios’ motions for summary judgment but also denied the Kirby cross-motion for summary judgment.

The Kirby estate is represented by Marc Toberoff, who is also currently representing the Jerry Siegel estate against DC Comics in the copyright termination case regarding Superman and Smallville.

More information as we get it.

Captain America

Joe Johnston knows how to direct adventure films but watching his growth as a director has been a pleasure. His first offering, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids was a visual effects feast, thanks to his training at Industrial Light & Magic. He followed up in 1991 with his first comic book adaptation, Dave Stevens’ Rocketeer and while the movie is far better than the critical reaction or box office would indicate, it still lacked that certain spark of delight for a summer blockbuster. Over the intervening years, Joe has continued to direct films that has shown steady growth as he has more subtly integrated effects with characterization with the family friendly Jumanji and the heart-warming October Sky. It was all good training as he took on what has become his highest profile project yet, Captain America: The First Avenger.

Clearly, he has learned his lessons as the critics – both mainstream and geek alike – have raved over the film while the $65 million it earned over the weekend proves he delivered a film people wanted to see. There were many obstacles challenging Johnston so that he managed to overcome them with aplomb is quite impressive. First of all, he had to turn a brief origin story from Captain America Comics #1 into a story that was plausible for modern day audiences. He had to fill it with winks and nods to the comics continuity that has been built around that Joe Simon & Jack Kirby tale of a man being turned into a super-solider. Then there was all the spadework that was required to prime audiences for the next installment in the Marvel Film Universe, next summer’s The Avengers.

Joining me for the Saturday matinee were two neighbors who only knew the character by name so while I sat there geeking out like the rest of you over the little touches, they were thoroughly satisfied with the story from beginning to end. (I had to spend dinner annotating it for them which was a fun test of memory.) (more…)