Thursday, July 19, 2012

Reactions to the Comic-Con Comic Movie News

Comic-Con, of course, is your go-to spot for big gigantic epic humongous super-cool movie news, ever since they realized you could fit the entire reading audience of the best-selling comic at either Marvel or DC into the building and have some space around the sides. Let's face it, it's either diversify or die, and luckily tons of people are into superheroes nowadays, even if they don't know that they're still publishing stories about them in small pamphlets to a niche audience of aging fans.

And this year's news was no exception. Marvel announced that they would be coming out with 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier', 'Thor: The Dark World', 'Iron Man 3', 'Ant-Man', and 'Guardians of the Galaxy', while DC announced that after the climax of Christopher Nolan's Bat-Trilogy and the relaunch of Superman that fans have already been aware of for over a year, they a 'Justice League' movie? Sometime in 2015? They don't have a script or a director or a cast yet, but they're totally working on it.

Let that just sink in for a moment. Ant-Man and Rocket Raccoon will be hitting the big screen before Wonder Woman and the Flash. At this point, it feels like Marvel is just doing victory laps. "Hey, whaddya think, guys!" you can hear them saying. "Wanna fast-track a Squadron Supreme movie for 2015, just to mess with their heads?"

Seriously, how does this work? Does Warner Brothers just hate money? There is a huge audience out there right now for well-done superhero movies that treat their source material with respect while remaining accessible to newcomers, and their mainstream DCU non-Superman/Batman track record for the last five years consists of 'Jonah Hex' and 'Green Lantern'. And extending it back much further runs into 'Catwoman'.

What these guys need is to find their own Avi Arad; someone who is savvy about the film industry, while remaining ultimately in the corner of the DC comics guys. They need to elevate DC to its own division in their company, with its own studio that focuses exclusively on DC movies. They need to show deference to the people who know the material, instead of assuming that the tropes of the superhero comic can be easily and painlessly extruded through the mold of a summer blockbuster. They need high-quality talent behind the cameras; Christopher Nolan should be the base level of quality for this kind of thing. (Admittedly, Martin Campbell looked like a good choice on paper...perhaps the lesson to take away from 'Green Lantern' is that your script has to work first.)

And they need to do all this fast. Because at this rate, by the time they do finally come out with a 'Flash' movie, people are going to assume it's totally a rip-off of that Quicksilver guy from 'Avengers 3'.


Unknown said...

It's like I said before: a Justice League movie has to wait for DC to come up with some films that a) aren't Batman and b) don't bomb. I mean, I enjoyed Superman Returns but it was a flawed, flawed movie.

Fundamentally I think the problem DC has coming up with solid films is that they've always had such problems with their continuity. Look at the two characters who've had movies that have done well: Batman and Superman, their two most iconic characters, the ones who have best managed to avoid bizarre retcons or reimaginings. If you want a Wonder Woman movie you first have to answer the questions 'so what's her deal, then?' and be able to do so in less than eleven thousand paragraphs.

...this may be frustration with DC's general editorial processes speaking.

Dean H. said...

In retrospect, Marvel had a couple key assets going into this that DC doesn't.

First, they had the Ultimate Marvel line that tried to re-imagine the the Marvel Universe in Hollywood terms. There was a whole group of bright, ambitious comic book creators tinkering with what a "widescreen" version of The Avengers might look like a full decade before such a thing was possible. Whatever one might think of Geoff Johns, he is doing the comic-to-movie thing essentially alone with a few recurring artistic collaborators. Ultimate Marvel had Millar & Hitch, Bendis & Bagley, Warren Ellis and whole host of others trying different stuff. Flops died at the comic shop, instead of the big screen.

Second, Marvel had continuity at the producer level. Avi Arad didn't start with Spider-Man. He came over from animation. Then, he produced BLADE. Then, they started working their way through the catalog. It gave him the ability to create a Marvel Films sensibility.

RichardAK said...

I remember talking to my broker (who is not at all a fan of comics or superhero movies) about this several years ago, and he told me that TimeWarner is infamous on Wall Street for being a poorly run company. Apparently merging a magazine company, an internet service provider, and a movie and television studio into a single multimedia conglomerate does not do wonders for efficiency.

Entertained Organizer said...

I agree, but the complete film and comic book nerd in me can't help pointing out that Quicksilver is almost certainly tied up in the X-Men movie rights held by Fox, so unless some huge deal is worked out he won't be in Avengers 3.

Though now if Warner Brothers ever gets that Green Arrow/Supermax movie off the ground everyone will just think they're ripping off Hawkeye, which is almost as funny.

Anonymous said...

You know, while I don't disagree with you particularly, I wonder whether part of it is just DC focusing on their (mostly quite good) line of direct-to-DVD animated movies. Or at least that may explain where their better movie minds are....

Jim S said...

Actually DC would be in trouble if they found an Avi Arad. He's terrible. What they need is a Kevin Feige. Arad is the one who insisted against extremely successful Sam Raimi's wishes, to insert Venom in the third Spider-Man. He was the one who did the two Fantastic Four movies. Heck I enjoyed them, but did realize they could have been so much better.

He wanted Captain America to be divided between the 1940s and the present. He was behind Daredevil, Electra Ghost Rider. Without Bryan Singer, he was the main driver behind the third X-Men movie.

But I do get your point. DC needs a wrangler who can use their history and present it with a coherent vision that works outside comics. Sadly, they have one under their employ. His name is Bruce Timm. They just won't use him.

Arad deserves credit for getting Marvel Movies made. It was under his watch that Blade, the X-Men, Daredevil, Ghost Rider, FF, and Spider-Man got made. But unless those films were helmed by strong creators such as Raimi or Singer, who had proven records on their own, the movies tended to suck. Again, credit for actualy getting them made, but he's a mover and shaker, not a creative type.

Or I could be wrong.

Unknown said...

"I agree, but the complete film and comic book nerd in me can't help pointing out that Quicksilver is almost certainly tied up in the X-Men movie rights held by Fox, so unless some huge deal is worked out he won't be in Avengers 3."

Kevin Feige said otherwise:

John Seavey said...

@Jim S: I'd counter that argument by pointing out that Arad was the one who got strong creators like Raimi and Singer (and Johnston, Branaugh, Whedon, et cetera.) He attracted a pretty amazing list of talent behind the camera, and made comic book movies a "sexy" prospect for big-name directors who might otherwise have turned down something as mass-market as a summer blockbuster.