"Justice League": Exploring How Superman Returns (Again)
Comic Books, Film
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.
Coinciding with the opening of Marvel Studios’ Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Mondo has unveiled a new limited-edition print by Rich Kelly that will go on sale today. Naturally, the poster casts the spotlight on the film’s two title characters, but it also makes room for Black Widow and Falcon.
As usual, these Mondo prints are very limited — 435 copies of the $45 regular edition and 225 of the $75 variant — so they’ll disappear quickly You have to follow MondoNews on Twitter to find out what time today they go on sale.
Separate from Bloomberg Businessweek‘s Marvel Studios cover story, Bloomberg Television chats with Stan Lee about the current popularity of superhero movies, concerns about “superhero fatigue,” and the differences between the box-office performances of the Marvel and DC Comics properties.
“I wish my friend Bob Kane were still with us — he’s the fellow who created Batman,” Lee says. “Bob always used to tease me about the fact that Batman was a big deal on television and in movies, and we at Marvel had done nothing. I wish he was here now so I could return that teasing. A character should be somebody that the reader, or viewer, really cares about, and maybe at Marvel we put a little more effort into refining the characteristics and the nature of our heroes, maybe a little more effort than they have on the other side of the aisle.”
Bloomberg Businessweek‘s profile of Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige, timed to coincide with the release this week of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, naturally focuses on the film division, but it also drops some fascinating nuggets about the company’s corporate culture and the 2009 purchase by Disney.
• “In March, Feige gave me a tour of Marvel Studios at Disney headquarters in Burbank, Calif.,” writes Devin Leonard. “The offices are furnished like a college dormitory, with threadbare couches. The hallways are decorated with cardboard superheroes hawking Pizza Hut and Burger King. There’s barely enough room in Feige’s office for a replica of Thor’s hammer.” While that description may come as a surprise to some, Marvel CEO Isaac Perlmutter has a well-established reputation as a penny-pincher, reusing paper, limiting the number of coffee pots and even fishing paperclips out of trashcans.
If you were surprised by that promotional campaign by Sony Pictures and the United States Postal Service featuring Stan Lee and Spider-Man, you may want to sit down for this one: Evian stakes out its own Amazing Spider-Man 2 tie-in with a commercial that introduces the world to Spider-Baby, a web-slinging, rope-skipping, dancing infant-sized mirror version of the wall-crawler. The TV spot is either inspired, or completely insane, I can’t decide.
Titled “The Amazing Baby & Me 2,” it’s the latest commercial in Evian’s “Live Young” campaign (aka the baby series).
Captain America: The Winter Soldier stars Chris Evans and Sebastian Stan appeared this morning at the New York Stock Exchange, where they joined Marvel Entertainment executives to ring the opening bell, and to promote the Friday premiere of their film.
The actors also posed for photos with a costumed Sentinel of Liberty whom we can only presume is that Captain America from the 1950s — or else a trader who lost a bet.
Marvel has released the launch trailer for Captain America: The Winter Soldier — The Official Game, a film tie-in that allows players to control Steve Rogers as he commands an elite team of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents tasked with stopping a sinister global plot.
Developed by Gameloft for Adroid and iOS, the mobile game features an original story by comics writer Christos Gage. Players can call in Falcon and Black Widow for help as the go up against such adversaries as King Cobra, Taskmaster, Puff Adder and the Winter Soldier. A multiplayer mode offers the ability to join clans and to compete for a higher position in leagues.
The game is available for download now. Captain America: The Winter Soldier opens Friday.
On a day rife with fake announcements and Photoshoppery, this April Fool’s Day prank is real (or, rather, “real”): Wolverhampton Station, in England’s West Midlands, has been renamed Wolverine Station, if only for today. It’s a stunt orchestrated by Virgin Trains and Fox to promote X-Men: Days of Future Past.
London24 explains that the station’s 65 signs underwent the change, which was even reflected in the departure board at London’s Euston Station. Other signs (below) warned travelers about the potential threat posed by mutants. (Local radio station BBC WM even got in on the action, tweeting its opposition with a poster that reads “Mutant And Proud.”)
Gameloft this morning released its Captain America: The Winter Soldier — The Official Game on Android, allowing players to assume the role of the Sentinel of Liberty as he leads an elite team of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents to stop a sinister global plot. An iOS version is promised soon.
Announced last month, the mobile game is, of course, a tie-in to the new Marvel Studios sequel, which opens April 4 in the United States. The Paris developer previously partnered with Marvel for Spider-Man: Toxic City, Spider-Man: Total Mayhem, Iron Man 2 and Iron Man 3.
It’s common for film studios to partner with fast-food chains, cereal manufacturers and soft-drink companies to help market major releases, but here’s a tie-in few likely expected: The United States Postal Service has teamed with Sony Pictures for a campaign to promote Priority Mail and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 — and they’ve enlisted Stan Lee for a little help.
The effort launches with a television commercial (below), featuring appearances by both the wall-crawler and the legendary creator, and includes limited-edition Spider-Man shipping boxes, Spider-Man postage from self-service kiosks, and special signage that extends to USPS vehicles. The campaign will also cast a spotlight on “stories of ‘USPS super heroes’ – real-life Postal Service employees delivering for their customers.”
The TV spot was created by DNA Productions with The Amazing Spider-Man 2 director Marc Webb and commercials/music video director Rich Lee.
If Hammacher Schlemmer‘s $200,000 licensed, street-legal 1966 Batmobile is a little too cheap, or a little too dated, for your tastes, allow us to this roadworthy replica on the Tumbler from Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. Listed on the James Edition luxury goods website, the vehicle will only set you back … $1 million.
But, hey, it’s worth it: This concept car — it’s “inspired by the movie Batman Begins” — comes equipped with an eight-cylinder LS1 engine, four 44-inch super swamper tires with custom rims, five driver-assist cameras and a stereo with blue tooth, CD/DVD and iPod integration. Plus, it’s a limited edition; there are just five of these in the world.
Publishing | Variety speaks with Madrigall President Antoine Gallimard about how the French publishing giant and its holdings (Gallimard, Casterman, Flammarion and Futuropolis, among them) handle the film rights to their many graphic novels, and the popularity of comics as source material: “I think that the French publishing and film industries feed on, complement, and ultimately do help each other. The number of films adapted from books that are produced every year in France is eloquent testimony to this.” Noting that, “In recent years, there’s a real feeding-frenzy for graphic novels, comic books,” Gaillimard says, “Comedy, in all its variants, is the most popular of adapted materials.” [Variety]
Legal | An Algerian judge has made a preliminary recommendation of 18 months’ imprisonment for cartoonist Djamel Ghanem for drawing a cartoon, which was never published, that government officials deemed offensive. In an odd twist, Ghanem was sued by his own newspaper, La Voix de l’Oranie, which tends to favor the current administration, and as a result, he has been blackballed by the Algerian media. The cartoon is critical of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s bid for a fourth term but doesn’t even depict the president — it shows two people in conversation, comparing the fourth term to baby diapers — Ghanem said the point was that Algerians were treated like children. Pressed by the district attorney to admit the cartoon was insulting to the Bouteflika, Ghanem insisted that wasn’t his intention. [Global Voices Online]
“Cowboys & Aliens was a completely manufactured myth of a comic book. They went in and sold the idea of Cowboys & Aliens based on a one-sheet of what they thought the cover of a comic book might be, then sold it as a movie, then created as a comic book. They backed in to the comic book part of it. The book itself isn’t actually very good. It’s worse than the movie.
I did another one like that — Hellbenders was an idea that J.T. Petty had, and he wrote it as a script. One of the producers got the idea to pitch it around as a comic book. As soon as something is a graphic novel or a comic book or has another life in a another medium, people sit up and take notice and are more willing to write the check.
I don’t know why that is — well, I think it’s obvious why that is: Because the traditional properties like Superman and Batman and the Marvel characters — Spider-Man and so on — they’re all money machines. So, people are trying to create that. […] Everything is being optioned now to be turned into franchises because of the success of Walking Dead and a few that have made the transition. Mostly, people walk into a room and pitch a movie — and the first question if they don’t say it in the original pitch is, ‘Is this a graphic novel or comic?’ and of course you say, ‘Yes’.”
– actor Clancy Brown, who has a good deal of experience with comic-book adaptations, discussing Cowboys & Aliens Hollywood’s continued attraction to comics
Marvel and Paris-based mobile game developer Gameloft have announced Captain America: The Winter Soldier — The Official Game, in development for smartphones and tablets.
Inspired by the upcoming Marvel Studios movie adaptation, the game will allow players to assume the role of Captain America as he leads an elite team of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents in a fight to stop a sinister global plot. A multiplayer mode offers the ability to join clans and to compete for a higher position in leagues.Gameloft and Marvel previously partnered for the mobile games Spider-Man: Toxic City, Spider-Man: Total Mayhem, Iron Man 2 and Iron Man 3.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier — The Official Game will be released in late March on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Android, ahead of the April 4 U.S. premiere of the film. Watch the game teaser trailer below.
Yep, this year’s Marvel kickoff film is Captain America: The Winter Soldier, due out April 4 (which is a little weird considering the studio historically releases its films the first week of May, giving Free Comic Book Day a boost), so we’re starting to get that media blitz a-rollin’ with teaser trailers, Super Bowl spots and the like. However, nothing will be seen as consistently or as widespread as the movie posters.
Keep in mind, posters are a little boring these days, especially for action films. There’s a certain color palette used, that gray-blue shine and airbrushed effect that has become shorthand for “cold and hard.” You know, like an action hero. But I digress. The movie posters released for Captain America: The Winter Soldier have the traditional “‘people walking at you from a horizon line,” two different profiles of Cap with headgear on or off, Nick Fury looking like Samuel L. Jackson looking mean and, the one a lot of people are talking about: Black Widow.
There’s just something about Natasha. Everyone has an opinion about Black Widow as a character, about Scarlett Johansson’s body shape and about what the retouching of photos does to our perception of beauty and realistic expectations of women. A single image has caused so much of a stir, I can only imagine what people will do when she actually shows up in the film. Because we can’t talk about Johansson’s performance and Natasha’s place in the storyline, let’s focus on the poster.
WARNING: No spoilers, but if you’re sensitive to body issues, I understand if you’d want to skip this one today. Everyone is beautiful, Photoshopped or not, voluptuous or rail thin! Now let’s go complain about a celebrity.