Tagged: The Dark Knight

MARC ALAN FISHMAN: Lights. Camera. Avenge.

So, I just watched the trailer for The Avengers. I had to change pants. Because I pooped them. Why the premature defecation, you inquire? One movie with Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, The Hulk, Worthless Chick and Bow and Arrow Man… that’s why! In all seriousness (that would be the seriousness of a comic nerd geeking out at maximum dorkatude), it’s because this is the culmination of years of planning on Marvel’s part. And simply put, it looks like they aren’t going to screw it up.

In their own rights, each of the Marvel heroes who have been given a solo movie have done spectacularly well. Iron Man grossed over $318,000,000; Thor nabbed over $181,000,000; and the glorious Captain America took in over $175,000,000. Bob Wayne at DC once said “You vote with your dollars…” and by the looks of it, America (nerd and non-nerd alike) has proven its love for the Marvel movies.

Speaking purely from a fan-boy perspective, I’ve had nothing but mad love and respect for their cinematic endeavors. Iron Man was grounded in reality (for 4/5s of the film), and elevated by a continuously energetic performance by Robert Downey Jr., Thor was able to mix the completely ridiculous with powerful mythology and gave us perhaps one of the hardest to believe Avengers such that we as an audience believed a God could be a superhero. Captain America was able to build a fantastic period piece that gave the world an iconic and fearless leader. And now, Joss Whedon and Marvel Studios is cramming all of them (and a handful of others) into a single picture.

The basic fear most fanboys have had since the idea of an Avengers movie was dropped on our collective consciousness revolved around over-complexity. Rumors of Loki, the Kree/Skrull war, Red Skull, and numerous other villains danced on message boards. And let’s face it. Putting 4 or 5 “A-Types” into a team picture will potentially numb any chance at character building and nuance. If Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and The Incredible Hulk each required their own picture, how can they share the limelight? And on top of it… Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury looks to be far more than just a cameo to boot. In simpler terms, The Avengers could easily become 10 gallons of Superhero in a 5 gallon hat.

If the trailer is to be any indicator of what the final product will be, I feel like Marvel is headed in the right direction. With the origins of every character now “public knowledge,” things feel natural. Iron Man and Captain America are both formidable leaders in their own right. In the trailer, they knock heads almost instantly. Whedon, who wrote the script, has a real clarity of character. Tony’s response is pitch perfect. Thor, while not uttering a word, carries himself as we expect… Regally, with a dash of arrogance.

Other glimpses of the titular characters are equally impressive. Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner certainly holds himself with a quiet struggle. And the choice to make Loki the villain creates a real urgency for the assembling. A mad god? Yeah, that’s a job for the Avengers. I know this all seems a bit of a hyperbole of analysis, given that all we’ve really seen is 12,000 seconds of footage (with a solid third of that dedicated to ominous shots of New York, explosions, and Iron Man flying)… but I’ve watched the trailer a couple times now, and each time I retain the same silly grin.

Marvel’s missteps – Wolverine, Elektra, Daredevil (which I actually liked), and most likely one (if not more) of the Blade flicks – all shared a plethora of groan worthy moments. In each, the self-seriousness never felt earned by the fans. That, and Wolverine was given Clark Kent’s origin part-way through his movie. I wish I could pinpoint exactly why the Avengers, with its surplus of superheroes, seems to capture my glee, with no bitter aftertaste of “this could be a train wreck.” Could it be I just want it to succeed too much? With Iron Man, Iron Man 2, The Incredible Hulk, Captain America: The First Avenger, and Thor all leading up to this, it may very be such that I can’t fathom this flopping. I’ve dropped far too much cash at the multiplex to see Marvel bellyflop.

At its core, the Avengers is true fanboy porn. An assembling of Marvel’s best and brightest (and Hawkeye, cause, you know…) to fight the biggest of fights, is the stuff dreams are made of. To see it in live-action glory, with a bevy of computer effects and explosions is everything comic fans have dreamed of. I postulate it’s akin to The Dark Knight, where the general masses will appreciate our medium in a new light. It raises our collective mojo up just a notch. And anytime a comic nerd looks better than a Trekkie or LARPer… well, that’s just gravy. If you haven’t checked it out yet, do go watch the trailer… and come back here to tell me if I should stave my excitement, or just invest in a few more pair of paints prior to its debut.

SUNDAY: John Ostrander

“100 Bullets” as a TV Series?

“100 Bullets” as a TV Series?

100 Bullets: First Shot, Last Call TPB (2000) ...

Image via Wikipedia

This weekend, Bleeding Cool found a potential slip by Geoff Johns that hinted the Eisner and Harvey Award-winning Vertigo comic [[[100 Bullets]]] by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso was coming to TV as a series.

Now Deadline reports that screenwriter and comic writer David S. Goyer (Blade, The Dark Knight) is going to write and executive produce the show for Showtime .

If you aren’t familiar with the series, here’s the setup: a man comes to you and gives you a briefcase with a gun, 100 untracable bullets, and proof incriminating the person who done you wrong– offering you a chance to exact justice for themselves with no danger of being caught. What do you do?

(Incidentally, I’m impressed with Deadline’s comment threads– more bile than Newsarama comments, possibly because much more money is discussed than what you usually see spent on comics.)

DC’s Official #1 Solicitations For September 2011

Making it all official, here are all 52 of the #1 solicits from DC Comics for September.

JUSTICE LEAGUE #1
Written by GEOFF JOHNS
Art and cover by JIM LEE and SCOTT WILLIAMS
1:25 Variant cover by DAVID FINCH
RETROSOLICITED • On sale AUGUST 31 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US RATED T • Combo pack edition: $4.99 US
Retailers: This issue will ship with two covers. Please see the order form for more information.
Comics superstars Geoff Johns and Jim Lee make history! In a universe where super heroes are strange and new, Batman has discovered a dark evil that requires him to unite the World Greatest Heroes!

This spectacular debut issue is also offered as a special combo pack edition, polybagged with a redemption code for a digital download of the issue.

(more…)

Green Lantern: Emerald Knights

To support The Dark Knight, Warner Premiere offered up Batman: Gotham Knight, a collection of stories from various animators that were dark and largely uninteresting. It’s gratifying to see that they have learned from this rare misfire and have offered up a companion to this month’s The Green Lantern feature film with Green Lantern: Emerald Knights, on sale Tuesday. There are five stories, largely culled from the comic books, with a sixth tale connecting everything together. Essentially, Krona, the fallen Guardian, has come back from banishment as an enormous, angry form, having coalesced within a star. Summoning Shadow Demons from the Anti-Matter Universe of Qward, Krona threatens the Guardians and their world of Oa.

The entire Green Lantern Corps has been summoned to deal with this cosmic danger but they pause to stand in line to take their turn recharging their rings. While waiting patiently to save all of reality, Hal Jordan (Nathan Fillion) spins tales for his latest recruit, the young, idealistic Arisia (Elisabeth Moss). On the one hand, Krona is a big menace and the climactic scenes are incredibly strong and powerful. There’s a scope to his rising from within the sun that is what animation and comics is all about. That sense of scope, though, is missing from the frame in that in the comics, the central Power Battery was large enough that scores of the Corps could float before it and recharge en masse. Watching them stand in a queue is absurd.

The frame and five stories along with the characterization and visualization of the Corps and Guardians are cherry-picked and modified from the fifty years comics featuring the second incarnation of the Green Lantern. It’s nice to see that several people with comic book roots, including GL editor Eddie Berganza, got a shot at penning some of these stories. About the oddest juxtaposition of realities is seeing Sinestro (Jason Isaacs) still a member of the corps in good standing. Why he’s here is clearly a nod to his role in the live-action film, done so as not to confuse viewers.

We’re told the story of “The First Lantern” (written by Michael Green & Marc Guggenheim) which tells us a variant version of how the Corps was formed. It’s still a solid story showing how anyone can become a hero and show others the way to act. There are mammoth space battles and lots of ring-slinging but why the planet is under attack and the motives of the attackers are never even questioned, let alone explored. (more…)

Some Thoughts on DC’s New World Order

In 1986, as the Crisis on Infinite Earths was winding down, Marv Wolfman made the radical suggestion that DC indicate the universe had truly changed by altering the numbering on all the titles and restart everything with a #1. For a number of reasons, it was a great idea but the timing couldn’t allow the move. Years later, Dick Giordano indicated it as one of his greatest editorial regrets. However, he can’t be blamed since the Crisis was wrapping up while DC was still negotiating to relaunch its flagship heroes. At that time, only Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli had been lined up for Batman: Year One while John Byrne was still being wooed for Superman, and very late in the process, Greg Potter and George Perez were circling Wonder Woman.

Had the stars aligned, it could have avoided two decades of constant revisions to the reality.

It now seems DC’s executive team has spent the last year moving the stars around. Today’s bombshell announcement indicates the rebooted line will kick off in September, with Justice League #1 previewing the new order on August 31.

I can only hope that DC has its house in order and can avoid embarrassing fill-ins and radical creative team changes early in a title’s run – problems which have plagued the core titles for the last few years.  The worst example may well be Batman: The Dark Knight, written and drawn by David Finch. After debuting in November, the fifth issue of this monthly series is not coming out until August and only then with a fill-in artist.

That aforementioned new Justice League book is coming from DC’s two busiest executives: Geoff Johns and Jim Lee. Sure, it’ll read well and look great, but will it be a monthly and for how long will the talent remain intact? At minimum, these new titles, all 50 of them, need consistent talent on board for at least the first six issues and fill-ins need to be carefully integrated. (more…)

Smallville – We Truly Knew Ye

I’ve checked with my cadre of DC contributors, staffers and fans current and past. While it’s impossible to decide on an exact number, the consensus is that in the past ten years the teevee series Smallville painstakingly built a cohesive and linear universe of DC characters while, at the same time, DC Comics reinvented itself in whole or in substance approximately 14 thousand times. Guess which was more entertaining.

And now Smallville’s gone. Pushed out of the way for still another Superman movie that, like the comic books, gets to ignore everything that has gone before it. That’s not entirely bad: Superman Returns was so awful I was thinking of getting rid of the memories by electroshock therapy.

Instead, I watched Smallville. At first I was there out of professional and fanboy curiosity. It was good but not great, and I stuck with it because my wife enjoyed the show. In time, Michael Rosenbaum’s performance as Lex Luthor grabbed me, and when they introduced John Glover as his eviler father, the tension between the two was riveting. When they brought Green Arrow in (using the Grell costume) and started really building their version of the DC universe, I got absorbed.

Then they brought in Erica Durance as Lois Lane. I enjoyed her performance and her character so much I felt like I was betraying my own childhood. More DC characters were introduced, heroes and villains alike. As they moved away from the Kryptonite-villain of the week and developed Zod, Darkseid, and the first interesting Toyman ever, Smallville moved towards the top of my TiVo must-record list. After ten seasons the show had more storylines going on than Soap – but by the time that final episode aired last night, they had resolved or at least tied-up just about everything. It was remarkable; the fact that so many of the actors from earlier seasons returned was even more remarkable.

At its best, Smallville has been about the human drama, and its science-fiction environment rarely mitigated this. It is in this spirit that the two-hour finale was produced. Some might find this to be overbearing; respectfully, I think those people have missed the point. If you take this element out of the story, all you have left is a comic book – in the most clichéd and repellant sense of the term.

The production team also avoided the trap of giving each character their moment to shine. Whereas most had sufficient screen time, this last episode was all about Clark Kent, as it was, by and large, from the very beginning of the series.

This is not to say that there isn’t a kick-ass story here. Two of them, in fact, with enough villains to fill the Justice League’s dance card. Darkseid, Granny Goodness, Lionel Luthor, and of course, his son Lex.

The finale was not flawless. For one thing, everybody showed a lack of respect for how gravity works, not to mention security on Air Force One. The big scene between Lex and Clark was pretty much lifted from The Dark Knight; thankfully, both the characters and the performers make it their own. Technically, this show was at least as proficient as teevee gets. If it were a theatrical movie, it would have been in 3-D, and that would have screwed the pooch.

Teevee is teevee. It’s not comics, and shows come and go all the time. Smallville’s decade was a remarkable achievement, and it set the high-water mark for superhero television.

At the end of the ten-year day, you will believe a man should fly.

 

The Point Radio: David Tennant On Matt Smith

The Point Radio: David Tennant On Matt Smith

We close the door on DOCTOR WHO, for awhile anyway. But first, now former Doctor DAVID TENNANT weighs in on his favorite moments and the new guy. Meanwhile, at the Box Office THE DARK KNIGHT gets trounced by those ‘blue guys’.

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‘The Looking Glass Wars’ movie adaptation in the works

‘The Looking Glass Wars’ movie adaptation in the works

A movie adaptation of author/producer Frank Beddor’s young adult book trilogy The Looking Glass Wars is in the works.  During an appearance to promote the third book in the series, ArchEnemy, on Good Morning America on Friday, Beddor said he was working with producer Charles Roven (The Dark Knight, Rex Libris) to bring The Looking Glass Wars to the big screen.

The series has already spun off a graphic novel version and the spinoff series Hatter M, written by Beddor and Liz Cavalier with art by Ben Templesmith in volume 1 and Sami Makkonen in volume 2. A lengthy preview of the series can be found at HatterM.com.

Crazy Sexy Geeks: A New Weekly Web-Series

Crazy Sexy Geeks: A New Weekly Web-Series

So your parents loved Robert Downey, Jr. in Iron Man but don’t think comics themselves have anything to offer? Your friends loved V for Vendetta and The Dark Knight and are curious to read comics now but aren’t sure where to start? This is the show to help them all out.

Starring yours truly and New York actor Jose Ramos, “Crazy Sexy Geeks: The Series” is meant to help new people get into comics and other geeky entertainment while also being fun for those already initiated. Each week we will discuss topics such as openly gay super-heroes, why there don’t seem to be many women super-heroes outside of comics, whether remakes are better than sequels, the challenges of film adaptations, and other fun topics that anyone with a smidgeon of pop culture knowledge can enjoy.

This is not your typical comic book video blog where two or three guys sit in a basement or at a friend’s house and just review what came out this week. This is a show where we go out on the street, asking mainstream America what they think about super-heroes, sci-fi films, etc. Likewise, there are professional interviews with folks such as Rob Zombie, Edward James Olmos, novelist David Mack (Star Trek: Destiny, The Calling), and others still to come.

For our first episode, watch us chat with Amber Benson (Tara from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”) about female super-heroes, her new novel Death’s Daughter, and what she thinks about the Twilight series.

Ready? Great! WATCH OUR FIRST EPISODE!

ComicMix.com and Midtown Comics are not responsible nor necessarily share the views expressed on Crazy Sexy Geeks. If you love Twilight, get mad at Jose and Alan, not anyone else.

Alan Kistler is a freelance online journalist who has been recognized by media outlets as a comic book historian. His additional works can be found at http://KistlerUniverse.com.

Smoke Gets In Your Brain, by Dennis O’Neil

Smoke Gets In Your Brain, by Dennis O’Neil

 

Smoke, smoke, smoke that cigarette / Puff, puff, puff until you smoke yourself to death. / Tell St. Peter at the Golden Gate / That you hate to make him wait, / but you just gotta have another cigarette. – Merle Travis 

I was getting ready to leave the office and walk over to NBC, where I planned to tape a reply to someone who had accused Batman of being in league with the Big Tobacco. It seems that in one panel Batman is standing on a roof, and in the background, on another roof, there was a billboard with a fragment of what might have been a cigarette ad visible. Our accuser said that putting Batman proximate to a cigarette image amounted to Batman – and his creators – endorsing tobacco products and advocating their use to children.

Well, no. Had I kept my rendezvous with the microphones and cameras, I would have probably observed that we agreed that smoking was bad and none of our characters ever actually smoked – Bruce Wayne abandoned his pipe early in his career – and, in fact, we had just done a pro bono anti-smoking ad for the American Heart Association. I might have taken my screed just a bit further and argued that we had always presented Batman’s turf as a realistic American city and – sorry! – urban areas are full of cigarette ads.

I didn’t have to do any of that. At the last moment, cooler heads prevailed and said that if I went on the air, our accuser would answer my answer and prolong the story’s life, whereas if we simply ignored it, the story would not survive into the next news cycle, which is exactly what happened.

One might ask why I allowed the billboard to appear in the first place. For the sake of realism? Or did I just miss it when I edited the artwork? Or did I see it and decide it wasn’t worth the hassle of a change? Humbling answer to all of the above: I don’t remember.

But this pretty inconsequential incident does raise another question: Where do the obligations of good citizenship and moral behavior end and the obligations to storytelling begin? Some kinds of people smoke and drink and take drugs and they’re not all hideous monsters, and some kids are influenced by what they experience through the media. I’ve heard recovering alcoholics say that the movie images of glamorous, witty sophisticates swilling booze prompted them to emulate the swillers and led, eventually, to badly damaged lives. But people do drink, and in a fictional world that mirrors the real one, shouldn’t drinkers – and smokers and druggies – be presented? Or does the potential harm of these behaviors outweigh aesthetic and narrative considerations?

I don’t know.

Sometimes, the coexistence of storytelling and responsible citizenship is painfully troubled, and sometimes I’m glad I no longer sit in an editor’s chair.

RECOMMENDED READING: The Courtier and the Heretic: Leibniz, Spinoza, and the Fate of God in the Modern World, By Matthew Stewart. 

Dennis O’Neil is an award-winning editor and writer of Batman, The Question, Iron Man, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, and The Shadow– among others – as well as many novels, stories and articles. The Question: Epitaph For A Hero, reprinting the third six issues of his classic series with artists Denys Cowan and Rick Magyar, will be on sale any minute now, and his novelization of the movie The Dark Knight is on sale right now. He’ll be taking another shot at the ol’ Bat in an upcoming story-arc, too.  

Artwork by Kim Roberson, from Underworld