They still haven’t made me all excited about The Man of Steel, but at least by now we’ve been given the opportunity to see where it’s going. It’s the human story about a guy who isn’t human, superior stranger in a strange land, trapped in a world he could easily remake and he’s as humble as he is confused as he is powerful.
O.K., fine. That doesn’t compensate for the repetitive redundancy and duplicative dynamic of their restarting the franchise and retelling the origin and screwing around with something that’s been around 22 years longer than the 50-star American flag.
Not that I have an attitude about it. Honest, I hope The Man of Steel is thrilling and successful. The word out of Hollywood – a bitchy and petty place on its best day – is that if MOS fails, say bye-bye to the Justice League movie. They’ll just continue to grind out teeny-bopper versions of their characters for The CW, or whatever they’re calling their teevee network this year.
Superman deserves better than the dark self-obsessed trailers we’ve been seeing and, again, I hope the movie transcends their promotion. Back in 1978, before today’s latest Warner Bros. executives could walk (yeah, there was another upheaval in the corporate order last week), Richard Donner did something nobody had ever done before: he treated a major superhero seriously and respectfully as a cultural icon. In the process, he created a whole new genre of motion picture and he wound up making a massive fortune – for Marvel Comics, who, unlike Warner Bros., got the point.
When it comes right down to it, the origin is irrelevant. It’s a macguffin, an excuse upon which to hang a story. Iron Man built himself. Incredible. Spider-Man got bit by a spider. Amazing. The X-Men got themselves born. Uncanny. Now tell us a story worthy of our massive financial investment in your picture because, outside of idle gossip, we don’t truly care how much money you spent on your financial investment. Movie-goers just want to have fun.
This advice comes way too late, but that’s okay. They wouldn’t have listened to me earlier (although the last time they did we saved The Flash’s superhero costume in the teevee series). If Warners wants to reboot the Superman franchise and create a successful DC Comics superhero movie sub-genre, they should follow Donner’s lead and treat their characters seriously and respectfully as cultural icons. Give us a great story and make us care about the characters as they exist today. Keep Kal-El’s backhand off of his forehead.
In other words, get on with it. Stop trying to imitate Star Wars – that’s the wrong genre. Stop imitating Greek tragedy before somebody remembers Lysistrata was a satire. Stop pissing on the past just because you’ve got a big… budget.
Or, failing that, get Samuel L. Jackson and Robert Downey Jr. to drive a Hummer full of money onto Joss Whedon’s lawn and ring the doorbell. In Hollywood, imitation is the sincerest form of co-optation.
Reginald Hudlin and Denys Cowan have been named executive producers on the upcoming Django Unchained animated series.
Set immediately after the events detailed in the movie, Django UnchainedThe Animated Series will focus on the Reconstruction Era events that led up to his becoming the first black state senator in Mississippi. Like the movie, the emphasis will be placed upon the action elements, although the sons of Django and Broomhilda will play a major role in the plot.
Reginald Hudlin, director of such movies and teevee shows as Psych, The Office, The Bernie Mac Show, Everybody Hates Chris, House Party and – my favorite – Cosmic Slop, was a producer of Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained. He also wrote the DC Comics adaptation of the movie, where his friend and collaborator Denys Cowan provided covers. Previously, Cowan and Hudlin worked together on the BlackPanther and Boondocks animated series as well as on Marvel Comics’ Captain America/Black Panther: Flags of Our Fathers series. His numerous comics credits include Black Panther and Spider-Man.
Cowan is best known for his work as an artist on such series as Batman, The Question, Steel, Deathlok, Firestorm, Dominique Laveau: Voodoo Child, Hardware and Moon Knight.
It is anticipated that Jamie Foxx and Kerry Washington will not be involved in this new series, although Samuel L. Jackson is likely to voice both of their children. Christoph Waltz, whose character King Schultz was (SPOILER ALERT) killed off in the movie, will be reprising his role as the pissed-off Jesus.
Cyndi Lauper has been signed to write and perform the theme.
Sometime tonight, in about the second hour of what will seem like a three day Oscar broadcast, my butt will go numb and I will ask myself, “Why am I watching this?” It happens every year and then the following year, I do it again. Am I a masochist? Do I just forget? Why do I care who wins what? I haven’t seen most of the films or performances nominated.
I’m not alone in this. Umpty-bum millions of people will tune in to the broadcast worldwide. It’s not the only movie awards show on anymore, either. You have the Director’s Guild, the Screen Actor’s Guild, the Independent Spirit Awards, the Golden Globes and more all handing out awards. That’s not even mentioning the Tony Awards or all of the different music awards or the People’s Choice Awards, The Emmy Awards or what have you. I’m surprised they don’t yet have the Awards Channel on cable; all awards, all the time. And the Red Carpet shows that precede them.
I understand why it’s a big deal to those nominated for the Awards (whichever Award it is) or to the Industry (whichever Industry it is) but why should it matter to anyone else? Why does it matter to me? Why do I watch? Why do any of us?
Let’s face it, fellow nerds – we aren’t represented. The films we mostly watched aren’t up for awards. Where’s the Oscar for the best actor in a superhero movie? Nominees would have to include Christian Bale in The Dark Knight Rises, probably Andrew Garfield in The Amazing Spider-Man, and then there’s The Avengers which could be a category all by itself. Who do you not include? Certainly Robert Downey Jr.’s turn as Tony Stark/Iron Man is amazing but how could you not include Mark Ruffalo who made a Bruce Banner/Hulk really work on celluloid for the first time ever.
And the support actors! Again, in The Avengers – Samuel L. Jackson (who should get an Oscar just for being Samuel L. Jackson) or Tom Hiddleston as Loki who almost steals the movie. Clark Gregg as Agent Phil Coulson who provides the heart and the reason to call the group The Avengers – where’s his nomination?
You can make the same argument for The Dark Knight Rises with Michael Caine’s Alfred who is heart wrenching, or Gary Oldman’s Commissioner Gordon who is really the moral center of all three Batman movies. Daniel Day Lewis was amazing in Lincoln but he only had a beard to cope with. Let’s see him put on Bane’s mask and do any where near as good as Tom Hardy did. C’mon – let’s handicap these races for degree of difficulty!
Anne Hathaway got a nomination (and will probably get the Oscar) for her role in Les Miserables but did you see that, my fellow nerds, or did you see her as Catwoman? Sally Field was great as Mrs. Lincoln but why isn’t she recognized as Aunt May?
And best director? Okay, okay – Ang Lee did a knockout job (or so I’m told; I haven’ seen it) of getting a boy and a tiger on a lifeboat in Life of Pi. Stephen Spielberg did an outstanding job in Lincoln, not only creating the characters of the Civil War but the setting, making you feel like You Were There. And there’s all kinds of talk about how The Academy snubbed Ben (Daredevil) Affleck on Argo.
I got two words for you. Joss Whedon. The third act of The Avengers with the attack on Manhattan by the alien hordes, balancing and making all the superheroes – the lead characters in their own movies – work well together. ‘Nuff said.
Why don’t these movies get Academy Award consideration? They made money. Gobs and gobs of it. So far as Hollywood is concerned, that’s their award except maybe for the grudging technical awards. Maybe it is. The folks doing those may have longer careers than those who get an Oscar tonight – because if there’s one thing Hollywood respects more than Awards, it’s cash.
So, yeah, I’ll watch the Academy Awards tonight. Force of habit, maybe. Maybe we’ll have to have an alternative award for folks like us – the Nerdies.
Like so much of the world, I went to see Skyfall this weekend. I went with my friend Karen, who hadn’t seen a James Bond movie in a few decades. We both had a fantastic time, and if you haven’t already gone and you like action movies, you should go, right now. This column will still be here when you get back. And, if you can’t go right this second, I shall do my best to avoid spoilers.
There are all kinds of reasons to enjoy this movie: Daniel Craig is a terrific Bond; the locations are exotic and beautiful; the set pieces, including the opening scene and the fight in the glass building, are inventive and exciting; the cinematography is glorious.
For the purposes of this column, I want to talk about a feminist reason to like it: M. Or rather, Judi Dench. Dame Judi is 78 years old, and, in this movie, she looks it. Her hair is gray, almost white. Her face is wrinkled. Her body, at least as it appears in the wardrobe assigned to her, is slack.
None of this makes any difference, because she is not a “Bond girl.” She is M. She is the head of MI6, and she is determined to do the best possible job she can. Her dedication is to her mission and her country. Because this is a James Bond movie, the emphasis is on her relationship with James Bond. However, this relationship, while cordial, is never less than professional, even when both of their lives are at stake. And it is the most compelling relationship in the whole movie.
Have we seen a female character less sexualized in a modern mass movie? The closest I can remember is Helen Mirren in the comic book-inspired movie Red (and also probably everything else she has done for the last decade). And even she is as famous for how she looks in a bikini (and at her age!) as for her formidable talent.
Both Skyfall and Red fail the Bechdel test because neither film has enough fully-realized female characters for either actress to have a significant conversation with another woman. Still, I think the success of both films bodes well for the acceptance of complicated, adult women in pop culture.
Unfortunately, I can’t say the same thing about comics. For the most part, older female characters at the Big Two, like Aunt May or Martha Kent, are mothers or mother-figures. Heavy women like Etta Candy are comic sidekicks.
The worst travesty is what has happened to my pal John Ostrander’s creation, Amanda Waller. Originally a tough, no-nonsense,solidly professional woman (see M, above), she was re-cast in The New 52 as a babe. Instead of wearing sensible suits appropriate to her job, she is no flaunting the tits and ass, with high heels that accentuate her long legs, which look even longer in her short, short skirts.
I suppose it’s possible this re-design was planned in advance of the Green Lantern movie, in which Angela Bassett played Waller in a role that was clearly supposed to mimic Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury. However, Angela Bassett is in her mid-50s. Amanda Waller in the DC books? Not that I can tell.
There are lots of reasons that movies make more money than comics. There are a lot more places to see them, for one thing. We would do well to remember that another reason is that they portray a much broader perspective on reality, one which attracts more fans.
No sane person would claim that Hollywood isn’t a sexist, patriarchal boys’ club. The difference is that it’s a sexist, patriarchal boys’ club that wants to make a profit, and they are smart enough to know the best way to do that is to sell more tickets.
Spoken to the intro of The Adventures Of Superman…
Faster than a speeding police pursuit! More powerful than a community organizer! Able to leap tall GOP bullshit in a single bound!
Look, up in the White House! It’s an African! It’s a Muslim! It’s Black-Man!
Yes, it’s Black-Man! Strange visitor not from Hawaii but Kenya if you believe Fox News, who came to Washington with promise and abilities far above those of Herman Cain.
Who can change the discourse of any discussion; kill Grandma with his bare hands! And who, disguised as a Socialist, mild mannered President for the 99% leads a never-ending battle for truth, justice all to prove he’s an American and deny he’s gay!
Yes! This column is about comics.
Unless I’ve missed my deadline, today is Election Day. Since I’m on the west coast and my column goes up in the afternoon east coast time the polls should be closing within a few hours.
So in a matter of hours we will either have a new President or Wednesday morning we will wake to a Donald Trump news conference where he demands Obama prove he did not kidnap and kill the Lindbergh baby.
Absolutely, I’m an Obama supporter but no, this article is not about why I hate Romney and I’m voting again for Obama. Yes, I worked hard to get that last sentence in. That said, this article is about the comics industry and who or what we are or we are not.
Remember four years ago the zillion comic books featuring Obama? There were books just about him or about his wife or kids or books where he was hanging out with everyone from Spider-Man to the Savage Dragon.
Remember that super bad ass Alex Ross painting and tee shirt?
Love him or hate him, the comic book community overwhelmingly backed Obama. I came late to the party, having been a Clinton supporter, but eventually I was taken in by the Obama enthusiasm within the industry.
It was something palpable about the industry support for Obama. As an example, the San Diego Comic Con the summer before the election was brimming with Obama fever and those Alex Ross tee shirts were everywhere.
At my annual SDCC party, Samuel L. Jackson almost jacked Art Tebbel of MDW Pop Art fame for his Alex Ross Obama shirt. Yeah, that Sam Jackson and that Art Tebbel.
It seemed everyone in comics was on the Obama love train during the last election but four years later that train has long left the station. Yes, I’m fully aware that everyone in the industry does not back Obama; people I like and respect (Batton Lash and Billy Tucci high among those people) differ greatly with Obama, which is their right.
I don’t want to give the impression that everyone in the industry was an Obama fan, they were not. To me however, it sure seemed the majority of the comic book world was firmly in Obama’s corner.
Whatever Obama Kool-Aid the country was drinking last time is gone. The wave of freshness and optimism, now, as compared to the last election, is laughable.
The comic industry portrayed Obama as a superhero now his opponents portray him as a Muslim (as if that’s evil) who is not even really a citizen. The industry that was damn near universally behind him has shut up like a Ho whose pimp just caught her stealing money. The best thing that Ho can do is just shut up because nothing she’s says can help her but it could make things worse. The comic book realm deserted Obama like Alpo would abandon Michael Vick is he were their spokesman.
That got me thinking (the non existent peep this year about anything political after the craziness of the last election got me thinking, not the Ho) what, if anything, has ever seen that kind of comic book industry support?
Was the industry just getting on the band wagon to sell some books or was the Obama movement really something that energized the business and if so, are we a bunch of pussies that withdraw that support because it was only fun while it lasted?
Look, I’d be writing this column if Hillary won instead of Obama. If she generated the kind of support industry wide that Obama did, yes this piece would be about her. Would I be writing this if a Republican won and generated the excitement that Obama did?
Yes, but come on! What Republican (with the exception of Lincoln after he was capped in the head) ever generated that type of excitement?
Consequently, I’d really like to know, regarding comics, what kind of industry are we?
What, if anything, do we stand for?
What’s our purpose except selling superheroes with an occasional Road to Perdition and Maus thrown in to give us a reason to say at parties “Comics are far more than just silly superheroes. Have you seen Road to Perdition? Well, that’s from a comic book or more appropriately, an graphic novel!”
Are we political outside of what’s cool and fresh?
Do we pride ourselves on the artistic merits of the business?
I’m not talking about big name individuals who do all of the above, as evidenced by any Alan Moore interview or the occasional rant by Frank Miller putting something or someone in the industry on blast.
I’m talking about the comic book industry as an entity as a whole, are we anything more than collection of people who draw funny books?
Does, for lack of a better term, the comic book industry have any redeeming value?
Does the industry have a soul?
WEDNESDAY MORNING: Why Mike Gold Didn’t Cold-Cock Walter Simonson
Well, everybody else has the Avengers gag reel, so why not us? See Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Gwynneth Paltrow, Jeremy Renner, Scarlett Johansson, Clark Gregg, Cobie Smulders, Mark Ruffalo, Samuel L. Jackson, and somebody named Joss and how they spent their summer vacation playing Avengers vs. Chitauri. Watch it now, and you’ll feel better for the entire day.
I got the idea for this series when I received a call and was told a project of mine was turned down because “Black doesn’t sell.” I was told to my face more than once by a certain asshole “when it comes to entertainment, black means death.”
Really, Bruce? How you living now, motherfucker? I’m going to guess it’s nowhere as good as I’m living, bitch.
Yeah, I tend to hold grudges but in my defense I’ve been pretty good lately. I’ve been known to rant like a mad man from time to time. In fact when I first started in the industry I did and wrote some shit that got me tagged as the “bad boy of comics.”
You know what I did upon hearing that? I changed the name of my studio from, Michael Davis Studios to Bad Boy Studios and, yes, this was before Diddy.
Why embrace what many think is a negative? Anger. I was very angry back in the day. I figured if people wanted a bad boy I’d be a bad boy.
How that work out for me?
Very well, actually.
Now, young creators, just don’t think you can develop an asshole, take no prisoners, attitude and the world will beat a path to your door. That road is paved with the bodies of many mofos who think that personality equals talent. It does not. People put up with Harlan Ellison’s shit because Harlan is the real deal, or to put it plainly, Harlan is one of the greatest writers to ever pick up a pen: Harlan once told Frank Sinatra to fuck off.
This was during the time when Frank was not only the biggest star in the world but he was also hanging out with more than a few wise guys, if you know what I mean. Harlan takes no shit and he calls a spade a spade. Harlan’s opinions are bigger than life but there is not a single publisher on this planet that would not love to publish a Harlan Ellison project.
But if you think that just being a bad ass is a great way to secure a rep and thus secure a career, you are an idiotic asshole or a Right Wing radio host and that shit will not work in comics.
How did (do) I get away with the occasional rant? Because I deliver the goods. I’m real good at what I do and I generate revenue and it’s all about the revenue.
I’m nowhere, even remotely in Harlan’s league but the people I work with know what they are getting with me and either they don’t care about my rants or they don’t think about them.
Why don’t they care? Would you care if the million dollars someone was bringing you were old or new bills?
It’s all about the money folks. It’s all about the Benjamins. It’s all about the cash. It’s all about revenue.
One day I realized that even though it had worked for me, anger was not the only way to fight against what I thought were injustices some wanted me to endure.
I figured I’d just cool out and not let little things bug me. Why be angry?
So over the past few years I’ve been mostly “rant free” on the comics and entertainment front. Politics is another matter; I regularly lose my mind about that over at www.MichaelDavisWorld.com.
While working on this series of articles I started to get angry. Angry like the Michael Davis of old. The Michael Davis of old that was the “I don’t give a fuck” Michael Davis.
My plan when I started writing these series of articles was to make my case in parts one through three and bring in some of my heavyweight black entertainment friends to underscore that black does indeed sell in this, my final installment.
So much for the plan.
I was on the phone with the director Bill Duke when the anger I’ve tried my best to curtain over the last few years returned with a fury. I told Bill I’d call him back and sat down to write this last segment and, yes, the old Michael Davis is back.
Back and I’m mad as fuck.
Hollywood’s unofficial “Black doesn’t sell” attitude is simply bullshit and the more I think of it the madder I become.
It’s all about the revenue and black properties and people generate revenue in every category of entertainment. Hell, in music and sports we are the rule, not the exception. You don’t see anyone saying that the white players in the NBA who fail is because they are white. No, they fail because they are not good enough, just like the black players that fail.
I don’t have to call my Hollywood black powerbrokers to underscore that black does indeed sell. Take a look at what has been done across all entertainment areas. Every single one of the people on my list to call has made a grip in Hollywood and not just selling to black audiences. The Cosby Show was the most successful sit-com on television. Will Smith and Denzel Washington are two of the biggest box office draws ever. In fact, Samuel L. Jackson is the highest grossing film actor…ever.
Black doesn’t sell? Give me a fucking break.
Black projects sell like crack… if done right. That’s goes for every damn project in Hollywood. If done well, the project will do well.
Every time a black project does not do well Hollywood makes black creators in effect show their papers like a freed slave at a southern checkpoint. The black President of the United States of America has been vetted by the CIA, FBI and scores of other agencies. He has showed his birth certificate time and time again and yet some on the right continue to insist he show his papers, again, like a suspected slave stopped in the middle of Alabama in 1850.
Well it’s not 1850 and Hollywood is not Alabama. It’s 2012 and there’s a brother in the White House and Samuel L. Jackson is the highest grossing film actor… ever. If the leader of the free world and the king of the box office are both black don’t insult the intelligence of the people who buy those tickets you sell Hollywood with your “Black doesn’t sell” lie.
I am under no misconception that the Far Right inbreeding bastards will stop the attack on the President, but I still harbor some hope that the entertainment industry and hell yes this includes some comic book publishers will stop condemning projects because some black projects have failed, its stupid and has to stop.
In comics it’s not just a black thing either, projects that feature women fail and that’s reason for some publishers to be wary of the next project featuring women no matter how bad ass the idea is.
That’s just stupid.
Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.
The new Static Shock series was not cancelled because Static was black. It was cancelled because Static was fighting a giant fucking fish.
Grow the fuck up, Hollywood. It’s all about revenue and any project that succeeds or fails in this day and age does so on its creative merits or many other factors, bad marketing, horrible word of mouth, opened on the same weekend as Avengers II.
Reasons for a movie failing or succeeding are many. Making the reason black people is a bullshit reason. Granted if there is ever a movie called Kill All White People and it starred an all-black cast of white people hating black militants and the story line was to kill all white people and that movie failed then Hollywood would have a point.
Then, yes, if that was a real project, black meant death… on more than a few levels, if you think about it.
I know how hard Hollywood hates change, so here’s my idea. Ready, Hollywood? Keep that silly black doesn’t sell bullshit line when a film that features a black storyline or actor in a leading role fails. Keep that but the next time Will Smith or Sam Jackson star in a film that makes a zillion dollars say the reason it did so is because they were black.
I’d be OK with that, but somehow I don’t think you would be.
The opening night of the movie Blade, I was sitting in a packed Magic Johnson Theater in the Crenshaw district of Los Angeles. Crenshaw is a predominantly black community, so needless to say the crowd for a black superhero movie in a black neighborhood in theaters owned by a black sports superstar was overwhelmingly Jewish. The Jews, they so love to hang in the hood. Black hats, long black coats – they roll big pimpin’ style.
I kid, I joke. The audience was crushingly African American. There was a lot of excitement in the crowd. When the lights went down the audience started to clap and that’s rare in a black movie house. To have a black crowd clap for a movie before they have seen it is extraordinary.
Black people rarely do that. We take our leisure time seriously. We are also very vocal about entertainment and we expect our monies worth. If a black crowd does not like a film – no that’s wrong – if black people don’t like a movie we will not be shy about voicing our opinions immediately.
Yep. I freely admit we can be a bit loud in the movies but for us it’s part of the show. To be fair we only tend to get loud during action and horror movies. You will seldom hear, “Yo! Henry Fonda! Don’t get in that motherfucking row boat!” during a screening of On Golden Pond.
Black people by in large don’t go see a film. We go to the movies. What’s the difference?
My Left Foot, film.
Die Hard, movie.
Still confused? OK, try this. A film is a motion picture that many may consider art. A film will have these elements in it: a story, a point of view, and a message. It will make little or no money but will win lots of awards and always features white people.
A movie will have these elements; some kind of story that won’t be important, shit that blows up, sex, violence, vampires, it will only win special effects awards, it will make tons of money and always features white people.
The one thing you will find in both a movie and film is white people. From time to time you will find black people in movies but you will always find white people in every movie ever made. Most times those white people will include Nicolas Cage.
But, (man, I wonder why Peter David hasn’t pimp slapped me yet) I digress… As I was saying, black people take our movie going outings very seriously. We don’t clap just to clap (that’s why we have sex), we clap to show appreciation for the work. So the reaction by the sold out crowd at the Blade opening was quite the pleasant surprise to me. Clearly some of the applause was because this was something rarely seen in movies, a black superhero.
When the credits began Wesley Snipes got quite an ovation and the crowd continued giving props to some other recognizable names. Then up on the screen came this gem: “Blade created by Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan.”
“Oh, yes!” I screamed like 40-year old woman who just had her first orgasm after being married for 20 years. “Oh hell yes!” Much, like I imagine that 40-year old woman would react, I did not notice that everyone else had stopped hollering and were looking at me. A large, as in large like the Hulk, man noticed my outburst had occurred during the “created by” credit.
“What you yelling for?” He asked. “I know Marv Wolfman, one of the guys who created Blade.” I said, hoping this guy wasn’t a Crip because I had on a red sweater.
He asked, “Is he a brother?”
What? Is he a brother? Marv Wolfman? I mean come on! Before I could answer I noticed that there were others listening and realized that I could dampen the mood of the crowd. But I’m not a lair so I told him the truth.
“He’s my brother.”
“Right on!” Someone shouted!
That was a great moment in what would turn out to be a great night.
The move was wonderful. The crowd loved every minute of it and me? I was in cloud nine.
Blade was a great movie. It featured a black superhero but it was not a “black” film. Nope. It was a superhero movie, period. Not long afterwards I ran into Marv Wolfman at Comic Con in San Diego. I recounted to him my interaction with the Bulk (black Hulk, get it?) and he was pleased as can be. Up until I told him he did not know that he had gotten an entire card in the credits. A “card” is what the credits are called in the industry it’s a big deal when your name is the only name on a card or is shared with just one other name. Big Deal. Marv created Blade at a time when black superheroes were few and I mean very few. Here’s the kicker: Blade does not have to be black.
Blade could be just another white guy who kills v. The character works just as well as a black character as it does a white character. Marv created a good character and that’s why it works.
I’m of the opinion the color of the character really does not matter as long as the character is a good character. That said I’m a comic book fan first and I get a little pissed when a character I’m familiar with in the comics has a race change in the movies. You would think that as a black man and a black comic book creator I’d be happy that Nick Fury was turned into a black man.
I liked Nick Fury as a badass white super spy.
That’s because of the Steranko comics. Jim Steranko’s Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. was one of the greatest comics ever! When Fury was changed in The Ultimates it pissed me off. When I saw Samuel L. Jackson as Fury in Iron Man it pissed me off even more.
I know Sam Jackson, Sam Jackson attends my annual Comic Con parties, Sam Jackson is a huge comic book fan, Sam Jackson is a great actor, alas Sam Jackson is not Nick Fury.
I want my comic book heroes to be like the comic book. I can hear some black people now “Man we need more black superheroes… and you’re stupid, Davis!”
I know we need more black superheroes, but Nick Fury will always be the cool ass super spy white guy in the Steranko comics to me.
The fact is I care that Nick Fury is not white in the movie because he’s white in the comic book. Did it stop me from seeing The Avengers?
Here comes that 40-year old first time orgasm woman again, Oh Hell No!
Did I like Sam Jackson as Fury? Damnit, yes, yes I did. Did anyone seem to care in the two sold out showings of the movies I sat through that Nick Fury was black?
Did Blade not make a zillion dollars and spawn two sequels?
And speaking of Spawn (damn I’m clever) did Spawn, another black superhero, not make a grip in movies, television and toys?
Was Static Shock (still seen in reruns to this day) not one of the highest rated animated shows on television?
I’m told often, black doesn’t sell. Clearly that’s bullshit. Just ask Will Smith, the biggest star in the world. He has played a few superheroes and all made serious bank.
With these examples and many more why does Hollywood still think that “black means death” when it comes to black superheroes?
We each saw The Avengers at fan-filled midnight screenings, separately but equally. We tried to avoid any spoilers here, but we can’t guarantee we hit that mark. And, being who we are, there are a couple of teasers in this dialog.
MIKE: Did you see it in 2-D, 3-D, or IMAX?
MIKE: Me too. This was the first movie ever that I can recommend in 3-D.
GLENN: Which is amazing, considering it was upsampled to 3-D. The film was converted to 3-D during post-production for the theatrical release. But it certainly paid off.
MIKE: The 3-D imaging credits were as long as the Manhattan phone book.
GLENN: Someone asked me point blank if The Avengers is the greatest superhero movie of all time. I said I don’t know about that, it has some very tough competition. But hands down, it’s the greatest superhero battle movie of all time. Act Three in particular is just completely packed with the loving destruction of the New York skyline, and in 3-D it’s incredibly staggering. It’s also fast and fun, as compared to the smashing of Chicago in Transformers: Dark Of The Moon… that just felt drawn out and more akin to a disaster movie. Here, it’s battle, action, and a much better feeling of scope and scale.
MIKE: Yes. It was a real superhero battle in the classic Marvel sense: everybody fights each other then gets together to fight the bad guys. And I’ll never be able to look at Grand Central Terminal the same way again.
GLENN: Or the Pan-Am building. Or 387 Park Avenue South, or Marvel’s address on 40th Street. All of that and they didn’t blow up any of DC’s offices. Have we reached detente?
MIKE: Well, they blew up CBS’s first teevee studios. Which is funny, as this was a Paramount movie.
GLENN: Not really a Paramount movie, Disney bought ‘em out but they had to keep the logo on.
MIKE: And, of course, Paramount got a truckload of money and, I’ll bet, a piece.
MIKE: Did you notice they hardly ever referred to anybody by their superhero name – other than The Hulk, who is obviously different from Banner, and Thor, who is, obviously, Thor.
GLENN: I think everybody got name-checked at least once.
This past week on my podcast (which you’re not listening to, but totally should), a debate sparked that was left largely unresolved. Since I have this digital soapbox, might as well use it to bring said debate to you.
In a few weeks, the mega-multiplexes of America will be screening the culmination of years of work by the House funded by the Mouse. The Avengers will see the fruition of Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, and Captain America: The First Avenger in one massively multiplayer action adventure flick. About a month or so later, Warner Bros. unleashes the end to Christopher Nolan’s bat-child, The Dark Knight Rises. There’s no doubt in my mind that both of these movies will be amazingly profitable. But the debate is this: which will bank more bucks? Which will be a better movie? Let’s look at the tail of the tape.
First up? Marvel’s Mightiest Heroes. Behind the scenes, we have the consummate king of the nerds… Joss Whedon as director. His writer team? Well… Whedon wrote with Zak Penn. Penn you’ll note wrote the successes such as The Incredible Hulk and X2, and the failures such as X-Men: The Last Stand and Electra. On the screen itself, the cast is of course a veritable galaxy of stars. Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Scartlet Johansson, and Gwyneth Paltrow will all be in the film. Unlike any other franchise in history, The Avengers will coalesce four franchises into a single picture. From here? It’s all but a given that the there will be a sequel, as corresponding sub-sequels for all the individual characters. Can you hear that? It’s the sound of money growing on trees. Trees that became paper. Paper that became comic books.
The Dark Knight Rises, as previously mentioned, is helmed by Christopher Nolan. Nolan’s career has been nothing short of a meteoric ascent to directorial gold. Nolan also helped pen this end to his triptych with his brother Jonathan, and David S. Goyer – who, as you will recall, helped pen Batman Begins and Blade 2. And Ghost Rider: Spirit of Bad Acting. But you can’t win them all, can you?
Under the cape and cowl will once again be Christian Bale, joined by series stalwarts Michael Caine, and Morgan Freeman. The villain this go-around will be played by Tom Hardy. You’ll recognize Hardy as the mildly funny Brit in Inception. While not as big in scope as Marvel’s upcoming blockbuster, The Dark Knight Rises is the follow up to the single most profitable comic book inspired movie of all time. For those who don’t recall, The Dark Knight did so well in the movie theaters, comic retailers reported sales of The Watchmen had gone up in response (which is nothing short of amazing, if you ask any retailer these days). With TDKR, Nolan puts his series to an end. Speculation on the plot, and how things will resolve has most everyone around in a tizzy.
The question then to ask: Which movie will make more money? Needless to say, both will bank boku bucks. For the sake of this argument, I’ll remove revenue from merchandise. Why? Because face it: Nolan’s Bat-Flicks haven’t spawned successful lines of toys; Marvel’s has. Specifically speaking on ticket sales? This is quite the toss up, is it not? On one hand you have the obvious ultimate popcorn movie in The Avengers. From the trailers we can safely assume there’s going to be wall to wall action, explosions, the Hulk, fighting, one liners, and boobs. Opposing that mentality, Nolan will nab those looking for a bit more substance. Whereas Marvel’s flicks were squarely targeting tweens and teens (with a side of general comic nerds and action geeks to boot…), DC’s Bat-Franchise has been nothing if adult in its complexity.
Gun to my head… if you asked me to choose, I’d end up with the nod to the Avengers making more moolah at the end of the day. The Dark Knight had the death of Heath Ledger, on top of the oscar buzz for his performance, on top of previous audience gained from Batman Begins. But TDKR features a villain most people aren’t familiar with (Bane ain’t exactly a household name now, is he?), and a star whose potential is only just now being noticed. And if other comic book trilogies are to be looked at (Spider-Man, X-Men, and previous Bat-Incarnations), the end of an era does not always translate into positive earnings. With The Avengers, we simply have too many stars to not draw an amazing crowd. Fans of any of those feeder movies no doubt want to see a team up. It’s the whole reason books like The Avengers and Justice League always sell so well!
Now, I would give The Dark Knight Rises the edge ultimately in terms of potential film quality. Not a knock on The Avengers mind you… I think from what we’ve seen, Whedon will deliver the goods. But The Avengers has more chance to pratfall than ascend to nerdvana. With so many stars on screen, there’s a real chance too much time will be spent assembling, mocking, and joking. And we can tell much of the movie will be dealing with a Loki-lead invasion fight scene. And just how much CGI action can we effectively sit through? Given the spectacle (and disappointment) of the last Matrix movie, suffice to say I’m fretful.
With Batman, Nolan seems to have been methodically building a dramatic arc. Bruce Wayne by way of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight has been an evolving force of nature. But Nolan’s best job has been grounding that force in reality. He’s delivered where so many others have failed: comic book movies without heroic quips and a knowing wink to the camera. When that theme of the dissonant chords let us know the Joker was at work, it was truly chilling. To think that Nolan is ending this series, one must postulate he’s had an ending in mind since the start. On that knowledge, I give the edge over to DC. Simply put, I’m more excited for their flick because I genuinely do not know what will happen.
In The Avengers? I’m almost certain we’ll have the following: Loki attacks. Avengers assemble by way of initial in-fighting. Disaster. True assembling. Fighting. Explosions. Boobs. Victory. Open ending for more sequels. Not that it’s a bad formula… but it’s just that: a formula.
So, plenty of points to discuss. Flame me, Internet, for I have opinions. Will Bats take more money? Will Avengers be the Return of the King for Comic Book movies? Discuss!