In time for your Halloween party planning Warner Home Video has announced the October 2 release of Dark Shadows. The Tim Burton/Johnny Depp was not the faithful adaptation of the Dan Curtis soap opera some expected and yet it was an affectionate tribute to the ABC series. Here’s the formal press release with details:
Burbank, CA, July 31, 2012 – Vampires, werewolves and a family of quirky characters collide as Dark Shadows comes back to life, arriving onto Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD and Digital Download on October 2 from Warner Home Entertainment Group. Directed by Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp as Barnabas Collins, Dark Shadows follows a vampireawoken from a multi-century sleep only to find that the family business is near ruin, his descendents are struggling and his past may come back to haunt him.
Burton directed Dark Shadows from a screenplay by Seth Grahame-Smith, story by John August and Grahame-Smith, based on the television series created by Dan Curtis. The film was produced by Oscar® winner Richard D. Zanuck (Alice in Wonderland, Driving Miss Daisy), Oscar® winner Graham King, (Rango, The Departed), Johnny Depp, Christi Dembrowski, and David Kennedy.
Johnny Depp leads the acclaimed cast, which also includes Michelle Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham Carter, Eva Green, Bella Heathcote, Chloë Grace Moretz, Johnny Lee Miller, Gully McGrath and Jackie Earle Haley.
Dark Shadows will be available on Blu-ray Combo Pack for $35.99 and on single disc DVD for $28.98. The Blu-ray Combo Pack features a hi-definition and standard definition copy of the film and UltraViolet; and the single disc DVD features a standard definition copy of the film and UltraViolet. UltraViolet allows consumers to download and instantly stream the standard definition theatrical version of the film to a wide range of devices including computers and compatible tablets, smartphones, game consoles, Internet-connected TVs and Blu-ray players.*
Director Tim Burton brings the cult classic series Dark Shadows to the big screen in a film featuring an all-star cast, led by Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer and Helena Bonham Carter.
In the year 1750, Joshua and Naomi Collins, with young son Barnabas, set sail from England to start a new life in America, where they build a fishing empire in the coastal Maine town that comes to carry their name: Collinsport. Two decades pass and Barnabas (Johnny Depp) has the world at his feet. The master of Collinwood Manor, Barnabas is rich, powerful and an inveterate playboy…until he makes the grave mistake of falling in love with a beauty named Josette DuPres (Bella Heathcote) and breaking the heart of Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green). A witch in every sense of the word, Angelique dooms him to a fate worse than death—turning him into a vampire, and then burying him…alive.
Nearly two centuries later, Barnabas is inadvertently freed from his tomb and emerges into the very changed world of 1972, a stranger in an even stranger time. Returning to Collinwood Manor, he finds that his once-grand estate has fallen into ruin, and the dysfunctional remnants of the Collins family have fared little better, each harboring their own dark secrets.
Family matriarch Elizabeth Collins Stoddard (Michelle Pfeiffer) is the one person Barnabas entrusts with the truth of his identity. But his rather odd and anachronistic behavior immediately raises the suspicions of the live-in psychiatrist, Dr. Julia Hoffman (Helena Bonham Carter), who has no idea what kind of problems she’s really digging up.
As Barnabas sets out to restore his family name to its former glory, one thing stands in his way: Collinsport’s leading denizen, who goes by the name Angie…and who bears a striking resemblance to a very old acquaintance of Barnabas Collins.
Also residing in Collinwood Manor are Elizabeth’s ne’er-do-well brother, Roger Collins, (Jonny Lee Miller); her rebellious teenage daughter Carolyn Stoddard (Chloë Grace Moretz); and Roger’s precocious 10-year-old son, David Collins (Gully McGrath). The longsuffering caretaker of Collinwood is Willie Loomis (Jackie Earle Haley), and new to the Collins’ employ is David’s nanny, Victoria Winters (Bella Heathcote), who is, mysteriously, the mirror image of Barnabas’ one true love, Josette.
BLU-RAY AND DVD ELEMENTS
Dark Shadows Blu-ray Combo Pack contains the following special features:
See how the brilliant imaginations of Tim Burton and Johnny Depp created Dark Shadows with nine behind-the-film Focus Points.
1) BECOMING BARNABAS – It takes more than just a set of prosthetic fangs! Get the scoop from directly from Johnny Depp on his reimagining of this infamous and undead cult character.
2) WELCOME TO COLLINSPORT! – Explore every strange nook and peculiar cranny of the most spectacularly detailed city to never exist!
3) A MELEE OF MONSTROUS PROPORTIONS – Join the fight and experience the thrilling final battle sequence in a way that only Tim Burton and Johnny Depp could imagine.
4) ANGELIQUE: A WITCH SCORNED – Johnny Depp and Eva Green reveal the lurid details of their character’s centuries old lascivious and tumultuous relationship.
5) RELIVING A DECADE – From groovy bell bottoms to classic rock & roll, strut through the Collinsport of the 70s and discover the topsy-turvy world that Barnabas finds himself in after centuries in the grave.
6) DARK SHADOWY SECRETS – Watch out for exploding buildings and all manner of bizarre, supernatural occurrences as Tim Burton’s spectacular props and special effects wizards bring this eccentric world to crazy life.
7) THE COLLINSES: EVERY FAMILY HAS ITS DEMONS – Become scarily familiar with this creepy cast of quirky characters as Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter and their co-stars reveal their unique working relationship.
8) COOPER ROCKS COLLINSPORT! – Shock rock the night away with the master of musical horror himself, Alice Cooper, as Johnny Depp and the cast invite him to rock the roof off of Collinsport Manor.
9) VAMPIRES, WITCHES AND WEREWOLVES, OH MY! – Uncover the method behind Tim Burton’s madness as he twists and tweaks his favorite classic movie monsters for the gothic universe of Dark Shadows.
Dark Shadows Standard Definition DVD contains the following special features:
THE COLLINSES: EVERY FAMILY HAS ITS DEMONS – Become scarily familiar with this creepy cast of quirky characters as Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter and their co-stars reveal their unique working relationship.
DIGITAL DISTRIBUTION ELEMENTS
On October 2, Dark Shadows will be available for download from online digital retailers including iTunes, Xbox, PlayStation, Amazon, Vudu and CinemaNow.
The film is also available digitally in High Definition (HD) VOD and Standard Definition (SD) VOD from cable and satellite providers, and on select gaming consoles.
*UltraViolet allows you to collect, watch and share movies and TV shows in a whole new way. Available with the purchase of specially marked Blu-ray discs, DVDs and Digital Downloads, UltraViolet lets you create a digital collection of movies and TV shows. Services such as Flixster and VUDU allow you to instantly stream and download UltraViolet content across a wide range of devices including computers and compatible tablets, smartphones, game consoles, Internet-connected TVs and Blu-ray players. Restrictions and limitations apply. Go to ultraviolet.flixster.com/info for details. Learn about VUDU compatible devices at vudu.com.
Blu-ray Combo Pack $35.99
Standard Street Date: October 2, 2012
DVD Languages: English, Latin Spanish, Canadian French
BD Languages: English, Latin Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, Canadian French
DVD Subtitles: English SDH, Latin Spanish, Parisian French
BD Subtitles: English SDH, Latin Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, Parisian French
Running Time: 113 minutes
Rating: PG-13 for comic horror violence, sexual content, some drug use, language and smoking
You don’t have to be born with a comic book in your hand to be a fan. As I’ve mentioned, my early exposure to comics was mostly in the form of movies and TV. These days, I read comics too; but I know a lot of fans who’ve primarily discovered comics through the movies, and often stay mostly with that medium.
Recently, there’s been a flurry of talk about who gets to be a geek, and I agree completely with John Scalzi’s assessment that anyone who shares a love of geeky things is just as much of a geek as anyone else, and that we can all come at our love of pop culture and fandoms from very different backgrounds and tastes. Given all that, I thought it might be fun to get the perspective of an awesome female author and blogger who’s so known in pop culture and geek circles that people have actually written articles studying her blogging habits and who clearly fits into comic book fandom but doesn’t come at it from the usual angle of reading comics. Also Cleolinda is just awesome and fun to interview! So here we go!
What kind of exposure have you had to comics generally – as a reader, a viewer, etc.?
Um… there were some tiny comics that came with my She-Ra dolls? I remember walking past racks and racks of comics at the grocery store every weekend and being really intrigued, but I was a very quiet, bookish child, and didn’t even bother asking my mother if I could have one. When I was in my 20s, I started picking up graphic novels based on which movies I had become interested in, and Watchmen on its general reputation.
How did you get into comics movies, and what was the first one you watched (as a child, and/or in the modern resurgence of comics movies)?
I think it says a lot about the genre that I don’t think of them as “comics” movies – I think of them as superhero movies and thrillers and action movies and whatever genre the actual story happens to be. I mean, technically, you could say that The Dark Knight and Wanted and From Hell and 300 are all “comics movies,” but if you say “comics,” I’m generally going to think “superheroes.” And those are such a box-office staple that it’s hard to think of them as something you get into, you know? They’re just there, and everyone goes to see them, and there are so many of them that some of them are awesome and some of them aren’t.
The first superhero movie, certainly, that I remember was Tim Burton’s Batman in the summer of 1989. I was probably ten or eleven at the time, and didn’t actually see it until it was on HBO a year or so later, but I remember that it was a big damn deal at the time. That black and yellow logo was everywhere, as were the dulcet purple strains of “Batdance.” Maybe it’s the Tim Burton sensibility that really got me into Batman movies initially; Batman Returns is pretty much my favorite Christmas movie ever, shut up. I just straight-up refused to see the Schumachers at all. But I’m a Christopher Nolan fangirl, so that got me back in. Which may be the roundabout answer to the question: I get into these movies depending on who’s making them and/or who’s playing the characters. Nothing I read or saw about Green Lantern really attracted me from a filmmaking point of view (well, I love what Martin Campbell did with Casino Royale, there is that), so, in a summer crowded with movies, I didn’t go see it. And, you know, I’ve had Green Lantern fans tell me they really enjoyed it; that’s just the kind of choice you end up making with the time and money you have when you’re more interested in movies as a medium than comics.
What are your thoughts on the accessibility of comics movies, as someone who doesn’t primarily read comics? Are there any you found incomprehensible or confusing because you didn’t know the source material? Which do you think has been most successful as an adaptation for non-comics-reading viewers?
Well, despite my lack of comics-reading background, I usually hit up Wikipedia to get a vague idea of what happened in the original storyline. So the moment I heard that Bane was the TDKR villain, I went and looked it up and immediately wailed, “Noooooo I don’t want to see Bane [SPOILER SPOILER’S SPOILERRRRR]!” Because I keep up with movie news very closely, I knew when Marion Cotillard was cast that she would probably be [SPOILER]. And then, of course, they mixed it up a little anyway.
I guess The Avengers could have been confusing – which was something I lampshaded a little in the Fifteen Minutes I did for it, the umpteen previously on bits. But I felt like they explained it fairly well as they went. I had randomly seen Captain America (“It’s hot. Which movie you wanna see?” “Uh… that one? Sure”), so I knew the Tesseract back story, but I didn’t see Thor until two weeks after I saw The Avengers. But pop cultural osmosis plus the explanations in the movie meant that I understood the Loki business just fine; all seeing Thor did was give me more specific punchlines. (I do think that humor relies on knowing what you’re talking about, so I usually do a little research after I’ve seen something when I’m going to write it up.) Really, though, it’s hard to say. I’m usually aware enough of the movie’s background by the time I see it that I’m not confused. I mean, I’m already aware that Iron Man 3 is using the Extremis storyline, and there’s some kind of nanotech involved, and an Iron Patriot? Something – not enough to be spoiled, per se, but enough to have a frame of reference going in.
Just going by the numbers, it seems that The Dark Knight and The Avengers have been incredibly successful adaptations – and I don’t even mean in terms of money, but in terms of how many people flocked to those movies, saw them, enjoyed them, and were willing to see them again. You don’t make a billion dollars without repeat viewings. And that indicates to me that these movies were rewarding experiences for people, rather than frustrating or confusing (the Joker’s Xanatos gambits aside). And I think familiarity helped in both cases, though through different means. The Joker is obviously the most iconic Batman villain; in fact, The Dark Knight actually skips the slightest whiff of genuine back story there, instead showing the Joker as a sort of elemental chaos, almost a trickster god who comes out of nowhere and then, as far we viewers are concerned, vanishes. There’s no background for non-readers to catch up on; the TDK Joker is completely self-contained. Whereas Marvel’s approach with The Avengers was to get the public familiarized with the characters, very painstakingly, with this series of movies that built up Iron Man as the popular backbone, and then filled in the others around him, either in their own headlining movies or as supporting characters in someone else’s. One movie started out with very recognizable characters, and the other endeavored to make the characters recognizable by the time it came out.
Have you read a comic because you saw a movie about it? Or, have you read a comic because you were going to see a movie about it? How did that change your movie viewing and fan experience?
I got interested in League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and read the trade paperback a few weeks before it came out – and then hated the movie. And you know, I think I would have actually enjoyed the silliness of it if I hadn’t “known better,” so to speak, so if it’s not already too late, I try to hold off on reading a book until after I’ve seen the movie. I did read Watchmen first – and did enjoy the movie. I think those are the only ones I’ve read beforehand, though. I did go pick up From Hell and a Sin City set, and I bought the second LXG series in single issues as well; I keep meaning to get V for Vendetta. I’ve never picked up a superhero comic. I just look at the vast history of Marvel and DC and think, where would I even start? (How could I even afford it? Do they have comics in libraries?)I’ve never even read the Sandman series, and that’s supposedly the traditional gateway drug for geek girls.
You write hilarious parodies about all sorts of movies; and the recent The Avengers in 15 Minutes is no exception. Can you talk a little about what it’s like writing the parodies (including how you started and your experience with that generally), and whether it’s any different for comics vs. other movies? Was there anything unique about writing The Avengers one?
Well, the short version is that I came home from Van Helsing (2004) and started writing a script-format bit on a whim; I thought it was just going to be one scene plunked into a Livejournal entry, but it took on a life of its own. I published a book of ten print-only parodies in 2005 with Gollancz; the original Spider-Man (2002) is in there, but there’s also fantasy, sci-fi, overly serious historical epic, etc., spread pretty evenly throughout. Looking back, I think The Avengers is the only other superhero movie I’ve done; 300, V for Vendetta, and Wanted might count generally. It helps for the movie to have some sense of silliness, or at the very least absurdity or over-seriousness. If nothing else, there’s something humorous about movies as a medium – the tropes they run on, the expectations, the necessary coincidences, the mundane things they conveniently skip, the way that this stuff just would not work in real life. And you can point this out and have fun with it without saying, “And that’s why this is a terrible movie.”
The real difference with the Avengers movie – the material it provided – was that it had all of these background movies leading up to it. So you immediately have more opportunities for cross-referencing and in-jokes, in addition to a running “previously on” setup. There were few comics-only jokes (although I did enough research to mention the Wasp and Ant-Man), because the movies themselves were plenty to deal with. Whereas the various Harry Potter in Fifteen Minutes writeups I’ve done played more on the “This Scene Was Cut for Time” idea, referencing the books and the plot holes incurred by leaving things out – what wasn’t there.
If anything, The Avengers was incredibly hard to do not because it was good, but because it was self-aware. I mean, I did Lord of the Rings, a trilogy I love, for the book, but I consider what I do to be “affectionate snark,” and… that’s kind of already built into The Avengers. So, while a gloriously absurd movie like Prometheus took four days and all I really had to do was describe exactly what happens, The Avengers took six weeks.
What’s your favorite comics storyline and/or character?
I seem to be drawn to characters who have just had enough and start wrecking shit. I think I’m so drawn to Batman not because I want to be rescued by him, but because I want to be him. I discussed last week how the Omnipotent Vigilante just can’t work in real life – but it works as a fantasy. Because every time I hear about something horrible on the news, or even just someone on the internet being a complete and utter asshole, I wish I could go be Batman and show up in the dark and scare the fear of God back into people (“Swear To Me!!!! 11!!”). Also, I didn’t really grow up with the more light-hearted TV version(s) of Catwoman; my frame of reference is Michelle Pfeiffer. And that’s a Catwoman whose story arc is almost a “vengeful ghost” story. She has been wronged, and now she’s back, and you are going to pay (maybe for great justice, maybe not). Whereas the Anne Hathaway Catwoman, while a really interesting character, is more about Selina wavering between conscience and self interest, not vengeance. And maybe that’s closer to the “cat burglar” origin of the character – which, again, speaks to how meeting these characters through movies may mean that you have a very different experience from a comics reader.
And then you have someone like Wolverine – I think my favorite scene in the entire series is in the second movie, where he ends up having to defend the school pretty much entirely by himself. You wish you could be that badass, in defense of yourself or someone (everyone) else. This also may be why I saw X-Men: First Class and kind of wanted an entire Magneto Hunts Nazis movie – and maybe why Magneto, even as an antagonist, is so compelling in the Bryan Singer movies. The X-Men universe has some genuinely interesting moral ambiguities, you know? Gandalf has a few legitimate grievances and now he is tired of your shit. *CAR FLIP*
Also, I have a little bit of grey hair at my temple that I wish would grow into a Rogue streak.
Marvel, DC, or neither?
You know, as much as I love Batman, I tend to be more interested in Marvel characters as a whole; not sure what’s up with that. Actually, it may be that Marvel has been so much more pro-active about getting movies made and characters out there; I like about three of the X-Men movies a lot, the first two Spider-Man movies are good (the reboot was good except for the feeling that half the story got chopped out, I thought), and now the Avengers-based movies are turning out really well. There’s just more to chose from on the Marvel side at this point.
Do you have more of a desire to pick up paper (or digital) comics to read after seeing a comics movie? Or do you prefer sticking with the movies?
I seem to be more interested in reading stand-alone stories, which is probably why I picked up Alan Moore books pretty quickly. Even if it’s a somewhat self-contained Marvel/DC storyline, it’s like… do I need to have read twenty years of story before this? Can I just walk in and start reading this, or am I missing volumes and volumes of context? And then, if I get really into this, are they just going to reboot the universe and wipe all of this out? And then you have to figure out what the movie was based on in the first place. I might be interested in reading the comics a particular movie is based on – but then you say, well, The Dark Knight Rises was inspired by ten different comics. If you put all that into a boxed set with a big The Dark Knight Rises Collection plastered across it, I would be more likely to buy that than if you shoved me into a comics store (complete with disdainful clerk) and said, “There Is The Batman Section, Chew Your Own Way Out.” The decades of stories and do-overs and reboots, the sheer flexibility and weight and history, are what appeal to a lot of comics readers, I guess, but they’re exactly what bewilder movie viewers, leaving them no idea where to start.
What comics movie are you most looking forward to in the near future; and is there a comic book story or character you’d like to see a movie about who doesn’t have one yet?
I’m curious to see how Man of Steel turns out, even though Superman has never done that much for me as a character. (That said, I always talk about “going into the Fortress of Solitude” when I try to seriously get some work done.) I once heard that Metropolis and Gotham are, metaphorically, the same city – one by day and the other by night – and I don’t know that there would be enough sunlight in a “gritty” Superman reboot, if that makes any sense. And I was just fascinated by the idea of Darren Aronofsky doing The Wolverine, of all things, but it looks like James Mangold is directing that now. And, you know, in checking on that, I see “based on the 1982 limited series Wolverine by Chris Claremont and Frank Miller.” I see the words “limited series” and “trade paperback rated Must Have” and I think, okay, maybe this is something I have a chance of catching up on first.
I would really, really like to see a Black Widow movie, at this point. As much as I liked Anne Hathaway’s Selina, I wonder if a character that arch doesn’t work better in small doses. I mean, I’d still like to see them try a spinoff movie, but somehow, I think Black Widow might work out better. Everyone’s remarked on how great a year it’s been for people actually going to see movies with active heroines – Katniss, Merida, Selina, Natasha, even warrior princess Snow White – and I’m hoping that idea sticks. I know that the comics industry in general has a problem both in writing about and marketing to women. Maybe movies can lead the way on that.
Thanks for a fascinating perspective on your comics (and movie) fandom, Cleo!
Walt Disney has sent us a 360 degree tour of the sets used fir the feature length version of Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie, opening October 5. The movie features the vocal talents of Catherine O’Hara, Martin Short, Martin Landau, Charlie Tahan, Atticus Shaffer, Robert Capron, Conchata Ferrell and Winona Ryder.
The stop-motion animated comedy was written by John August, expanding on the student film Burton made in 1984.
The official boilerplate reads:
From creative genius Tim Burton (Alice in Wonderland, The Nightmare Before Christmas) comes Frankenweenie, a heartwarming tale about a boy and his dog. After unexpectedly losing his beloved dog Sparky, young Victor harnesses the power of science to bring his best friend back to life—with just a few minor adjustments. He tries to hide his home-sewn creation, but when Sparky gets out, Victor’s fellow students, teachers and the entire town all learn that getting a new “leash on life” can be monstrous.
When Tim Burton originally conceived the idea for “Frankenweenie,” he envisioned it as a full-length, stop-motion animated film. Due to budget constraints, he instead directed it as a live-action short, released in 1984.
Frankenweenie follows in the footsteps of Tim Burton’s other stop-motion animated films Corpse Bride and The Nightmare Before Christmas—both of which were nominated for Academy Awards®.
Over 200 puppets and sets were created for the film.
The voice cast includes four actors who worked with Burton on previous films: Winona Ryder (Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands), Catherine O’Hara (Beetlejuice, The Nightmare Before Christmas), Martin Short (Mars Attacks!) and Martin Landau (Ed Wood, Sleepy Hollow).
Several of the character names—Victor, Elsa Van Helsing, Edgar “E” Gore and Mr. Burgemeister— were inspired by classic horror films.
This column is going to get to its point in a roundabout way. If you want to get right to the incendiary arguing, skip ahead a few paragraphs. However, once you get there, you may find spoilers for The Hunger Games. Be prepared.
For the rest of you, I have a story to tell. When I was a girl of 10, I had a dog, Nancy. Before she died 11 years later, she and I had many heart-to-heart talks, where I would talk and then imagine what she would say to me.
We had a lot in common, in that we were both female and living in the Midwest. However, at some point, I realized that I was assuming we were even more alike. I thought she loved the Smothers Brothers and the Incredible String Band as much as I did. I thought she was against the war in Viet Nam. I thought she spoke English.
And I thought she was white.
I mean, she was white, except for her head, which was red and brown. Still, this was fur, not skin. It took me a while to recognize my assumptions as racist.
Some of this is how the human brain works. When someone says the word mother, I imagine my own mother. If I read a book with a first-person narrator, I assume the narrator is a middle aged New York woman like myself until the author establishes other characteristics.
Which brings me to my real subject. When I read The Hunger Games last month, I paid attention to the descriptions of the various characters. Sometimes the descriptions, all from the perspective of the narrator, Katniss, merely stated a person’s gender, or hair and eye color. Sometimes the descriptions offered more detail.
The character of Rue is one who inspires more detail. She is small and slight, like Katniss’ sister. She is shy, but smart and good at hiding. Her hair and eyes are dark.
So is her skin.
When I read the book, one of the fun things for me was to try to figure out which territories of Panem corresponded to which parts of the United States. Katniss lived in an area full of coal mines, so I figured she lived in Appalachia. Rue lives in a place that is warm and humid, a place where everyone works in agriculture. I imagined Florida, and maybe her ancestry was African-American with maybe some Cuban.
Apparently, some readers did not pay that much attention. After the movie opened last weekend to record-setting crowds, the Twitterverse was inundated with postings by people who were upset by the casting of a dark-skinned actress to play the part of Rue. There were so many complaints that there is a Tumblr site dedicated to recording all of the posts (which I found via this, so thanks!).
Now, I am not always a fan for color-blind casting. I didn’t like it when they talked about Marlon Wayans for Robin in the Tim Burton Batman movies, although I would like to believe that’s because I didn’t think he was right for the part. I thought making Jimmy Olson black, which was under discussion for a time, was kind of arbitrary and therefore a bit condescending. Both one these opinions may represent a layer of racism I haven’t yet exorcised.
But when an author takes the time and effort to specify a character’s ethnicity, I believe her.
I don’t know who these Twitter posters are, or what kind of lives they lead. I don’t know their opinions on other subjected. I haven’t even seen the movie yet. In any case, Rue is lucky that she doesn’t live in their neighborhoods. Or walk around in a hoodie with Skittles.
SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman Jumps On Mindy Newell’s Bandwagon
In honor of Marvel’s next big event, I’ve decided to take a week off of thinking hard. Instead I’ll do what they’re doing: Wasting your time by forcing two characters to fight for your entertainment.
Of course I don’t have the resources to produce artwork. Nor do I have the time to create an actual script. Instead, I’ll just take this idea to a few different levels, and ultimately create enough sweeping declarations to get some beautifully angry comments. I love beautifully angry comments.
In this corner: Bruce “The Rich Kid” Wayne and his amazing belt of knickknacks! That’s right, it’s everyone’s favorite powerless pugilist… the billionaire with bats in his belfry, The Batman!
And in this corner wearing skin-tight underwear and a mask without a mouth hole… Marvel’s favorite orphan, Peter “I was a jerk once, and I’m paying for it every day…” Parker! That’s right, it’s the web-slinging, science-spitting, devil-befriending behemoth… The Sensational Spider-Man!
Now there are a few ways to tally the fight. Since I’ve got inches of column to waste, let’s start with the obvious: In a street fight with absolutely no planning, Spider-Man would stomp Batman into a bloody pulp. Bats may have one of the greatest minds in comics, but at the end of the day, no amount of gadgets and Kevlar will out-match a fighter like Spider-Man. Not only is Spidey more agile, he’s also got superior strength and maneuverability. Batman can use all the kung fu in his repertoire, but Spider-Man has the actual super-powers.
I will concede this though: if these two were pitted against one another and had any chance to plan the bout, Batman would knock Parker out like the Orkin Man. Batman’s tactics, gadgets, and ability to use his terrain to his advantage trumps Spider-Man’s physical prowess. And while Spidey is a super-genius… a brilliant fighter he is not. Simply put, with any amount of time to prepare, Brucey’s coming out bruised but boastful.
Fan-service aside, how about we put these two against one another by way of the TeeVee. On the silver screen, Bats takes the trophy. Spider-Man had a few live action cameos on the Electric Company, and a simply too-terrible-to-believe live action show. Batman had Adam West. And you can say what you want about those kooky cavalcades with Burt Ward… but the zeitgeist here nods towards the cape and cowl when it comes to overall quality. Somedays, you just don’t have a place to throw a bomb.
When the battle gets animated, that’s really where Spidey gets killed. Not for lack of trying. The late 60s gave us a decent Spider-Man cartoon. Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends was… a larf. In the 90s Fox Kids gave us a series that started strong, but became hampered by way-too-long season arcs, and an entirely forgettable last season – that saw the trope of guest stars used piss-poorly. In the mid-late-aughts the Sensational Spider-Man was fantastically done, but cut way too short. In contrast, Batman started slow (in the Super Friends, and then helping out Scooby Doo), but finished amazingly. Yeah The Batman in the early aughts was an atrocity, but Bruce Timm’s animated Batman Adventures wrote the bible on quality cartoons. And The Brave and the Bold was a campy trip that started off too-kiddie, but quickly found its footing in the hyper-kitsch fan-service delivery. By my count Bats wins by four Emmys.
OK, so Bat’s wins the battle of the silver screen. How about we take a trip to the movies? Consider my math: Spider-Man 1? A minus. Spider-Man 2? A solid A. Spider-Man 3? … D. Now over at the Batcamp, let’s take stock. The Adam West Bat-Movie? Don’t count. The Burton Bat-Films: B. The Schumaker Schlock? D… if I’m being nice. The Nolan-verse? Well, if there’s a grade above A, I’d give it. At the end of the day, there’s been more guano out there than there’s been Spider-poop. So I tip the hat to the wacky web-shooter in the battle of the big screen. And he can take that win to the sock-hop.
But how about where it really counts? On the page. I guess I’m sad to say I don’t have the proper license to weigh in on that particular bout. As I stated last week, my exposure to Spider-Man in comics-proper is poor at best. Admittedly I have a very extensive Bat-Collection, so I’m more than likely biased. Given my knowledge though of Spider-Man’s bullet-list of plot threads, I might still be inclined to tip the hat back to the Bat. He does have a few decades more history to draw on though, so it may very well be an unfair fight.
I will say this: In the time since my birth, Batman has had his back broken, his mantle stolen, his sidekick murdered, his life unraveled by several secret societies, his bastard son joining his menagerie, and has survived two or ten universal resets.
In that same amount of time, all I’ve really heard about Spider-Man that really stuck was that he nixed his marriage to Mary Jane to save Aunt May. And there was a clone saga people didn’t like. And he had an Iron-Spider suit. And a black suit. And a cosmic suit. And at some point was tied to an ancient race of animal totem warriors or something. In terms of only recognizable milestones (that haven’t been universally hated) … Batman would take the crown. Prove me wrong.
So there you have it. A few hundred words on an amazing battle. So it’s time for you weigh in. Was I too favorable to Time-Warner’s titan? Does Spider-Man have more going for him than a six-pack and a quip dictionary? Who has the better rogues gallery? Who has the better friends? Man, this could be a whole new column next week. I guess it depends on you, the gentle reader of my column.
At the end of the day, in the battle between Batman and Spider-Man? The winner is you.
The Internets (by which I mean, mostly, Facebook) buzzed this week with a YouTube video, The Death and Return of Superman. It’s really funny, written, directed, and starring Max Landis, son of one of my favorites, John Landis, and also the writer of this week’s box-office champ, Chronicle.
I like everything about this but the premise: that the powers-that-be at DC Comics decided to kill Superman because it was an easy way to draw attention to their flagship character and thereby increase his popularity.
Not true. If anything, in 1992, Superman was more popular than he had been since the John Byrne relaunch.
If DC was going to pull a stunt to make Superman more popular, they would have done it when I was first hired to be publicity manager at DC, in the summer of 1990. I remember going to a meeting about upcoming story lines, and being told that the big event for that fall was that the new Robin (Tim Drake) was going to get a new costume. Not just any costume, but one with a design actually approved by Tim Burton.
Oh, and Clark Kent was going to ask Lois Lane to marry him. And then she was going to say, “Yes.”
“That’s a much bigger story,” I said.
“No one cares about Superman,” I was told. “But the fans will want the first issue with the new costume. Push that story.”
I pushed them both, but, as instructed, I devoted more resources to Robin. I spent thousands of dollars having a costume made and finding an actor to wear the costume for a press conference. I got approvals up and down the Time Warner hierarchy.
For Superman, I sent out a simple press release. And that story exploded.
Over the next two years, Superman became more and more popular. The public followed the stories about Clark and Lois like they were Kardashians (only really in love). The wedding became such a hot story that Warner Bros. television wanted in, and created a series, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.
There’s more money in television than in comics. The wedding would have to wait.
Here’s the part I didn’t know about until years later. The powers-that-be at DC needed a reason to stop the wedding. To their credit, they turned the problem over to the editors, writers and artists who worked on the series. Why would the wedding be postponed? Could Clark and Lois fall out of love?
No, that wasn’t in character. Even though they hadn’t taken vows, they were going to be together until death did them part (or, as fate would have it, The New 52). The only way to stall a wedding would be for one of them to die. Whose death would be more dramatically interesting?
The Death of Superman was never about killing Superman. It was about setting up the next storyline, World Without a Superman. These stories showed how the world went on without the Man of Tomorrow, and how he continued to have an impact on our lives.
We know Superman came back, and Landis does a great job of pushing the more ridiculous aspects to their (il)logical extremes. It’s funny stuff, and it’s funny because he actually knows something about comics.
Still, twenty years later, we’re still talking about it. The stories remain in print. Whether or not you liked it, the fact remains that the stories resonated with readers.
We all remember where we were when we first heard that Superman died.
Author, actor, comedian and game show host, Stephen Fry will receive the Annual Outstanding Lifetime Achievement Award in Cultural Humanism, presented at Harvard University each year by the Harvard Secular Society on behalf of the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard and the American Humanist Association. Past recipients of the award include novelist Salman Rushdie, punk rock star Greg Graffin of the band Bad Religion, writer/director Joss Whedon, and Mythbusters Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage.
ComicMix readers may recognize Fry from such movies as V for Vendetta, Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, and the voice of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy.
The event, scheduled for Tuesday, February 22, 2011 at 8 PM, is sold out and will include a performance by Stephen Fry. Satiric Musician Molly Lewis was added to the scheduled ceremony at the last minute and will perform her song, “An Open Letter to Stephen Fry.”
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Tim Burton’s Charlie and The Chocolate Factory arrives exclusively for Download on iTunes for the first time with Bonus Content. The extra content Includes interviews with Johnny Depp and Tim Burton. For the curious you can check out a preview here.
The film, adapting Roald Dhal’s marvelous novel, starred Johnny Depp and was a visual delight which we here at ComicMix highly recommend.
Thanks to Warner Digital, we have a free digital download to give away. Since this is Thanksgiving week, please tell us what you are most thankful for. The entry that moves us to laugh, sagely nod in agreement or wipe away a tear will be declared the winner. You have until 11:59 on Wednesday November 24 to tell us. One entry per e-mail address and the judgment of ComicMix is final.
CHUD reports that 20th-Century Fox has been quietly putting together a team to produce a remake of Conquest of the Planet of the Apes. The original Conquest featured Roddy McDowell as Cesar the first ape to speak and is set chronologically prior to the original Planet. The 2001 remake from Tim Burton was a box office failure (any profits realized came from merchandise and home video).
This version is entitled Genesis: Apes and has been written by the team of Rick Jaffa (The Relic) and Amanda Silver (Eye for an Eye). While the 1973 original was set in the futuristic 1991, this will be a modern day affair.
CHUD writes, “In this version Caesar is the result of a genetic scientist fooling around with the nature of things. When the baby monkey exhibits intelligence and the ability to talk, he takes the cuddly thing home to his wife, who is unable to bear children. Things go surprisingly well for a number of years until Caesar grows up and sees mommy getting attacked. The dutiful son steps in and accidentally kills the attacker.
“Here’s where it takes off. In a scene paralleling Charlton Heston in the cage in the original Planet of the Apes, Caesar ends up in custody at an Ape Conservatory where he and the other apes are abused mercilessly. Caesar finds himself a primate without a world – he’s as smart as humans but will never be one of them (and is in fact tortured by them) and he’s initially rejected by his monkey brethren.”
This is the 40th anniversary of Planet of the Apes and 20th has celebrated with Planet of the Apes: 40 Year Evolution Blu-ray Collection, which hits stores tomorrow. The set includes all five Planet of the Apes films on Blu-ray for the first time, including Beneath the Planet of the Apes, Escape From the Planet of the Apes, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (an unrated version with eight additional minutes of material), Battle for the Planet of the Apes, and the 1968 original Planet of the Apes.