The Biggest Superhero Films That Didn't Happen, Part 2
Comic Books, Film
The Guardians of the Galaxy may be able to stand toe to toe with Ronan the Accuser, Nebula and Korath, but they were easily vanquished by 5-year-old Mia Grace Montross. The pint-sized Marvel expert, who made her Jimmy Kimmel Live! debut in December, returned to the show last night to face off against the stars of Guardians of the Galaxy in a trivia challenge. The result was … well, about what you might expect.
Three organizations representing Hollywood actors, directors and screenwriters have thrown their weight behind an effort to convince the U.S. Supreme Court to hear an appeal by the heirs of Jack Kirby that could have ramifications far beyond Marvel and the comics industry.
The case, as most readers know by now, involves the copyrights to the Avengers, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, Thor and other characters created or co-created by Kirby during his time at Marvel in the 1960s. The artist’s children filed 45 copyright-termination notices in September 2009, seeking to reclaim what they believe to his stake in the properties under the terms of the U.S. Copyright Act. Marvel responded with a lawsuit, which led to a 2011 ruling that Kirby’s 1960s creations were work for hire and therefore not subject to copyright reclamation. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the decision in August 2013, which brings us to the Kirby family’s petition to the Supreme Court.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Screen Actors Guild-Federation of Television and Radio Artists, the Directors Guild of America and the Writers Guild of America have filed an amicus (“friend of the court”) brief that insists the Second Circuit’s ruling “jeopardizes the statutory termination rights that many Guild members may possess in works they created.”
If you ever wondered how actor Clark Gregg prepared himself for Agent Coulson’s death scene — or, rather, “death” scene — in The Avengers, you only need to listen to KCRW’s “Guest DJ Project.” Hint: It’s music, but any additional information is probably above your clearance level.
For this week’s episode of the Los Angeles radio show, the star of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. compiles a track list that includes Parliament-Funkadelic’s “Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof Off the Sucker),” Public Enemy’s “Caught, Can We Get a Witness” and Radiohead’s “Go to Sleep.”
[Editor’s note: Every Sunday, Robot 6 contributors discuss “The best in comics from the last seven days” — from news and announcements to a great comic that came out to something cool creators or fans have done.]
Tired of superhero movies yet? I’m not, since I found that I highly enjoyed X-Men: Days of the Future Past recently. However, announcements of new superhero movies have lost their luster a little, since you sorta expect that there’s going to be two competing Quicksilver movies any day now.
What did surprise me a little was DC’s rumored plans to develop their cinematic universe, and the one that got me most excited was Shazam! I mean… wow… Captain Marvel’s getting a movie? The entire idea of a kid who turns into a superhero with a magic word seems weird and alien in the current superhero movie universes we have these days, especially that somber one being helmed by Zack Snyder.
Samsung on Thursday announced a partnership with Marvel designed to showcase the graphic capabilities of its new Galaxy Tab S tablets, a direct challenger to the Apple iPad.
With the July release of the Galaxy Tab S, users will receive a free three-month subscription to Marvel Unlimited, the digital service that features more than 13,000 issues from the publisher’s catalog. Over the next year, tablet owners will also receive early peeks at Marvel Studios films, including The Avengers: Age of Ultron, as well as access to Marvel One-Shots and other content.
The agreement also calls for “the world of Samsung Mobile” to be seamlessly integrated into the Marvel Universe, both on the screen and on the page, which translates as product placement in films and comic books. That’s of course nothing new for movies — indeed, Marvel’s The Avengers was used to debut the new Acura supercar — but it’s not seen quite as often in comics. That said, Marvel has inserted (if not exactly “seamlessly integrated’) sponsored logos into its pages, through in-story signs, billboards and T-shirts.
If everything had gone as planned, sometime Wednesday a street-legal replica of Batman’s Tumblr from Christopher Nolan’s movie trilogy would be crossing the finish line in Ibiza in a triumphant conclusion to the Gumball 3000.
Unfortunately, those plans went awry before the annual 3,000-mile motor rally even got under way last week in Miami Beach, Florida.
As Marvel prepares for the August premiere of its biggest movie gamble to date, Guardians of the Galaxy, we’ve seen its publishing division reposition what once was an oddball, third-tier concept as a first-rate, if still oddball, franchise, first with the flagship title written by Brian Michael Bendis and next with Rocket Raccoon by Skottie Young.
As interesting as that transformation may be, I’m utterly fascinated by how Marvel’s parent company Disney has gone all in on merchandising an adaptation of a comic that, this time last year, no one outside fan circles had ever heard of. Granted, with the production budget for Guardians of the Galaxy in the neighborhood of $150 million (and probably nearly that much for marketing), the studio can’t afford to be timid.
Still, Disney Consumer Products has lined up more than 50 licensees, from Hasbro and LEGO to Mad Engine and Freeze, for what it views as Marvel’s Next Big Thing, at least as far as merchandise is concerned.
“It is always exciting to launch something new in consumer products, as we did with Iron Man in 2008,” Paul Gitter, senior vice president of licensing for Marvel at Disney Consumer Products, said in a statement. “By showcasing what is unique about this amazing new film we are able to develop a third Marvel franchise that can be at retail alongside our powerhouse franchises of The Avengers and Spider-Man. Continuing to diversify the Marvel offerings for consumers is a key strategy of ours.”
Best known for his acclaimed manga Monster, 20th Century Boys and Pluto, Naoki Urasawa has now taken on the King of the Monsters with an exclusive print created for Legendary Pictures’ Godzilla. Unfortunately there’s no word yet on when, or if, the print will be available for sale.
Director Gareth Edwards’ franchise reboot has grossed $325 million worldwide in 12 days of release — and it hasn’t even opened yet in China (June 13) or Japan (July 25). A sequel, of course, is already in development.
North American readers will be seeing much more of Urasawa’s work this year, as Viz Media will release the Monster: The Perfect Edition omnibus series beginning in July, followed by the debut of his post-Cold War thriller Master Keaton in December.
Oyster War cartoonist Ben Towle posted an interesting consideration this week about how we discuss comics, and the tendency to rely on film terminology. From scripts to reviews to casual exchanges, we often rely on film language, referring to a panel composition as a “shot” or “camera angle,” for instance, despite the vast majority of comics never employing cameras (fumettis not withstanding). By Towle’s own admission, the post is a collection of disorderly thoughts, but it encourages an examination of how we think and talk about comics, and how we make them.
His “Let’s Stop Using Film Terminology to Talk About Comics” is likely to elicit responses like “I’ll use whatever terminology I want” and “What difference does it make?” That first reaction is of course true: We can all use whatever terminology we like. A blog post isn’t going to change that, and certainly the ubiquity of film won’t prevent its terminology being used in the context of comics from being understood. However, the answer to the second response might cause someone to reconsider that first. As Towle explains early on, how we talk about something affects how we think about it. It’s why politicians are so careful in the terms they use to describe opponents and allies. They’re hoping to establish terminology for a group of people, which in turn influences how we think about them as well. Is someone receiving welfare relief or government hand-outs? Was information obtained from prisoners or detainees, and were torture or extreme-interrogation techniques used? Obviously those are very politically charged examples, but to bring it closer to home, there’s a reason the term “graphic novel” was promoted over “comic book” to bookstores and other mainstream outlets. Words not only have meanings, but also connotations; they can imply judgment, status, and much more. They influence how we perceive the subject of discussion and how we’re likely to think of it in the future. So yes, it does make a difference.
The first official renderings have been revealed for Marvel’s Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. at Discovery Times Square, the upcoming interactive exhibition that brings visitors into the Marvel Cinematic Universe..
Presented with Victory Hill Exhibitions and Marvel, in collaboration with NASA and the National Academy of Sciences, the exhibit is designed to bring to life the science behind the superheroes: Visitors are recruited into S.H.I.E.L.D. and granted access to the headquarters of S.T.A.T.I.O.N. — Scientific Training and Tactical Intelligence Operative Network — and its classified files exploring the history and scientific origins of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.
Tied to last night’s official announcement of a Justice League movie, The Wall Street Journal takes another look at Warner Bros., comparing its superhero output to that of Marvel — that’s a familiar story by now — and, more interesting, highlighting the changing position of DC Entertainment within the media giant.
The studio in 2009 announced plans plans to better exploit its comics properties (across film, television, video games and consumer products) with a corporate restructuring that saw the creation of DC Entertainment, a new division overseen by Diane Nelson, a Warner Bros. veteran who headed up its direct-to-video label and served as shepherd of its Harry Potter franchise.
Welcome to a different kind of Shelf Porn, as today Eric shares his home office filled with all sorts of cool movie items, masks, toys and, of course, some comics. “My philosophy on collecting has always been to surround yourself with things that speak to you and pull particular feelings out of you,” Eric said. “Whenever possible, I try to find cheaper items and improve upon them, and this has also become a fun part of the hobby.”
If you’d like to share your collection with us, you can find details on how to do that at the end of this post.
And now here’s Eric …
Marvel and Paris-based mobile game developer Gameloft have released the launch trailer for The Amazing Spider-Man 2, a tie-in to the Sony Pictures movie sequel that pits the wall-crawler against villains ranging from Electro and the Green Goblin to Kraven and Venom.
Available now on iOS and Google Play, the action-adventure follows Spider-Man as he swings through Manhattan in an effort to save New York City from the chaos of a costumed crime wave.
With Tom Cruise poised to battle aliens (again and again and again) in Edge of Tomorrow, Viz Media has announced the May 5 release of the graphic novel adaptation of the book that inspired the sci-fi action film.
Written by Hiroshi Sakurazaka and illustrated by alt-manga artist Yoshitoshi ABe, All You Need Is Kill is a 2004 light novel about a new recruit to the United Defense Force who’s killed in his first fight against Earth’s mysterious invaders — only to find himself caught in a time loop: He wakes up the day before that fateful battle, only to die and be resurrected time and again.
Adapted by sci-fi author Nick Mamatas and comic artist Lee Ferguson (Green Arrow, Miranda Mercury), the graphic novel will be available in print for $14.99 or digitally across multiple platforms for $8.99.
On April 29, Viz will also release a new movie tie-in edition of Sakurazaka’s light novel, which in 2009 launched the publisher’s Haikasoru imprint, with a new title (Edge of Tomorrow) and a covering bearing the poster of stars Cruise and Emily Blunt. It’s priced at $7.99.
What did you do last weekend? Nothing much, probably; no real reason to get excited. After all, it was just another awesome Marvel movie opening. Granted, “awesome” isn’t an objective description, and surely some people had a pretty miserable time. But judging from reviews, user ratings and my own anecdotal observations, odds are a significant majority of the approximately 11 million people who watched Captain America: The Winter Soldier enjoyed it.
The film has been thoroughly reviewed — you can read CBR’s take here — so I won’t get into a big assessment. (Suffice it to say, I liked it.) Instead ,what I want to talk about is the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe, and how it hasn’t just successfully adapted stories and characters, but the very experience of the Marvel Comics Universe.
It is now well-documented that Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige is a big comics fan. The difference, however, is that he didn’t grow up with them, but schooled himself on Marvel’s stories while working under producer Lauren Shuler Donner on the first X-Men movie. That distinction might have given him the ability to view the characters and concepts without being hindered by nostalgia, and helped him to dissect how Marvel’s framework could be used for future movies. Hollywood is an even more collaborative business than comics, so it’s unlikely that credit rests solely with Feige. But he certainly was an advocate for leaning more faithfully into the source material.