Archive for July, 2011

With Comic-Con finally wrapped, I’ve been thinking a lot about how I would’ve handled the DC Reboot situation, were I the Man in Charge.

Since the initial announcements, there’s been some moments of brilliance – starting with the fact that doing something as drastic as restarting and expanding all the properties has people paying a lot of attention to DC Comics. So from that perspective, mission accomplished.

But a lot of moves since then have been a little baffling. There WILL be current readers who throw up their hands, say “Fuck it!” and stop buying in frustration, after hearing that the Lois-Clark marriage is being erased, or trying to make statements like, “Oh yeah all the major events of the last 25 years totally happened” jibe with “Also, the Justice League is only five years old and they were the first superheroes. Except Batman’s been operating for 10.”  DC’s hope that they’ll somehow manage to gain more readers than they lose is a huge question mark.

(Also: When readers hear Dan Didio explain – with a straight face – that what they really think is a great idea for Superman is to make him a lonely, isolated figure who’s exploring his alien side; and this is a wonderful idea, for a character called MARTIAN MANHUNTER.)

And of course, they’re putting a lot of time and effort behind books that seem like obvious nonstarters (I can see the crossover appeal drawing some Vampire Diaries/True Blood/Twilight fans to “I, Vampyre,” but there are, straight-up, only about 5 people who give a shit about Captain Atom).

Point is, they’re doing it the way they think is best, but from the outside, it looks…risky.

But here’s how I would have done it, and once I started thinking about it, I was surprised just how far in the opposite direction I would’ve gone – to generate excitement while minimizing risk.

Idea 1. CUT THE LINE.

See what I mean?  (more…)

Whenever a superhero movie comes out, both regular bookstores (remember those?) and comic shops tend to stock up on paperback collections of the featured characters.

But this can be daunting because Marvel and DC tend to go apeshit with their trade paperback publishing, flooding the market with everything they can gather.

Go type “Captain America” into Amazon’s search engine and you’re likely to be overwhelmed with titles, but never fear. As a long, long-time Cap fan, I can tell you the five best books to pick up:  (more…)

I could just title this post “Captain America Is Great And Everyone Should Go See It Now,” but that would be a bit lazy of me. So here are five solid reasons to go see what is maybe the best Marvel movie out there.

(Sorry, Iron Man. I still love you, too. Stop looking at me like that, Thor and X-Men 2!)

Anyway, I’m gonna try to keep this spoiler-free, so don’t panic:  (more…)

And so there came a day, when Roger Ebert’s usual pissy, off-hand dickishness about “fanboys” in a comic book movie review irritated me:

Young Steve’s Army confidante both before and after his transformation is the sultry Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), whose full red lips make her resemble a classic military pin-up of the period. He narrates their tour of the Brooklyn neighborhoods where he was picked on, and they grow close, but only PG-13 close, because Marvel has apparently determined that fanboys find sex to be icky.

This was in Captain America, a movie he actually LIKED. Don’t…don’t you worry about what he thought about Thor.

Anyway, this is an utterly moronic thing to say for a few reasons:  (more…)

So, the big problem that I always have with Harry Potter is that no one seems to actually give a crap about magic in it.  I don’t just mean the characters in the stories (except for Fred and George, whoever uses magic to actually do something they think is interesting?) but I mean the filmmakers, the FX guys, and, to a certain extent, the writer.

Now, ostensibly, who cares?  From a dramatic standpoint, we don’t need to see guys shooting fireballs at each other or conjuring poisonous snakes or making it rain shards of glass or something to get what’s going on:  we need to know that some people are winning and some people are losing, that sometimes people are behaving aggressively and sometimes they’re behaving defensively.  The actual nature of the spell is irrelevant in terms of the plot:  only its function actually matters.  This is something to do with signifiers and signifying that’s a little too lit-crit-theory for me to fully understand, I guess.

(more…)

For as much as I have some problems with the series in general, and with the character of Harry Potter in particular, I really love the climax of the story.  The last book — and this second part of the last movie — is probably my favorite part, because by the end there’s a lot less of all those sort of stupid, “We’re teenagers trying to pretend this isn’t easy to figure out so that the story won’t be over in sixteen pages” stuff, and more action.

This movie especially is great, because something is happening basically ALL THE TIME.  We don’t need any more god-damn exposition or discussion of feelings.  Shit is real.  This is happening.

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So, let me think about this a little.  I feel like, because we don’t have the “hero discovers his powers” option available to us (actually we do, but let me save that for a minute), then this is another “superhero” movie that needs to not have the superhero be the protagonist (see:  Aquaman).  And we also kind of need to scale the Martian Manhunter back a little bit, too, because his powers are:  flight, super-strength, invincibility, super-speed, laser eyes, shapechangeing, telepathy, intangibility…it is a lot of powers.  It’s basically “all the powers,” and it’s hard to sell drama when your main character is a guy with all the powers.

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While I’m generally against movies trying to build themselves up as sequels regardless of the audience’s say in the matter, I’m of a different mind when it comes to Hawkman:

It has to be the most epic action-romance ever.

Here’s what I’m thinking:

HAWKMAN 1
It’s the 1930’s, Midway City (set designers could go apeshit crafting a kind of Fantasy 30’s Manhattan this way). Carter Hall is a young archeologist – dashing, handsome and adventurous. But also lonely. Everyone calls him an old soul, and wonders why he never met the right girl. It’s something he’s always wondered himself.

Then he finds himself in a competition to claim an archeological dig, said to be the lost crypt of an Egyptian prince Carter’s always been fascinated by for reasons he’s never quite understood. Suddenly he’s in a race against two other archeologists: a conniving grave robber named Carl Sands, and the astonishingly beautiful – yet quite tom-boy-ish – Shiera Saunders.  (more…)

We all agree that big summer blockbusters probably need to stop acting like they deserve a sequel, and should focus on making a cohesive movie that will make viewers demand more, right?

This is advice both for horrible movies that felt entitled to sequels (looking at you, Last Airbender) and for movies that actually do require sequels (like Golden Compass – even a sequel would have had to open its first five minutes with an insanely jarring plot shift, akin to STARTING Empire Strikes Back with “Luke I am your father”).

And right now I’m looking at the negative response to Green Lantern’s sequel plans, which start with a shoe-horned post-credits-sequence that announced the next villain without earning that reveal at all, apparently. Then there’s the mostly toxic critical reaction. And then, there’s the relatively shitty box office (7th place in its third week is not encouraging).

In shooting for Epic Importance, movies keep dreaming of that sweet sweet trilogy status that somehow implies, “This thing mattered.”

Noble goal, sure. But set your sites a little lower: Don’t worry about being Lord of the Rings. Just try not to be, I dunno, Eragon? (I honestly was trying to think of a perfect example, but the glut of post LotR/Harry Potter fantasy franchise non-starters clogged up my brain.)

All of which is to preface what I’m about to say next: A Hawkman movie franchise absolutely has to be crafted as a trilogy.

Let’s crack open Hawkman as a property, and you’ll see what I mean.  (more…)

So apparently there are enough people upset about the upcoming DC relaunch that they are actually going to stage a protest at this year’s San Diego Comic Con.

Now, sure, this can be viewed as stupid.

For one thing, they’re boycotting something they still don’t really know anything about, on the grounds that it’s throwing out everything they loved about the “old” DC Comics, even though since the initial (somewhat jarring announcements), it sounds a lot more like it’s simply dressing up and streamlining existing properties, with a few continuity tweaks here and there.

In other words, this is Zero Hour, not Crisis on Infinite Earths.

For another, the protest is ostensibly to get DC to see the fans’ passion, realize its folly and abandon its broad, sweeping publishing paradigm that’s been in the works for about a year at least, and, umm. A protest is a bold gesture, sure, but a boycott – the “voting with your wallet” notion that all the big publishers insist is what they really listen to (and the buying public has shown, time and time again, that they will buy these event books they so often decry) – is really the way to go here.

But at the heart of this protest is the central idea, “We were happy with how things were, and we don’t want you to change it.”

And…this is really the part that I can’t quite grasp. Because despite our periodic needling about the relaunch (mostly on aesthetic grounds), I think I’m actually on board with changing things up. The reason for this is one name long:

Robin.  (more…)