"Justice League": Exploring How Superman Returns (Again)
Comic Books, Film
Saturday Night Live and host Scarlett Johansson this weekend skewered both the romantic-comedy formula and Marvel Studios with a trailer for Black Widow: Age of Me, a parody that’s probably already fueling a few misguided Hollywood pitch meetings.
Demonstrating that “Marvel gets women,” the imagined solo movie mines every romcom trope for the story of Natasha Romanoff, who tries to juggle an internship at Fashion Weekly, a circle of good friends (including Thor as the stereotypical gay BFF), and a burgeoning romance with … Ultron.
If the blockbuster television ratings didn’t already certify The Walking Dead as a pop-culture phenomenon, then a Saturday Night Live parody undoubtedly cements that status.
Over the weekend, NBC’s sketch-comedy show set its sights on the apocalyptic drama with help from host Kevin Hart as Lyle, a survivor who wants nothing more than to join Rick’s group. As they deliberate, Rick is surreptitiously bitten by a walker, exposing some issues within the group.
However, the best part of the two-minute sketch is Nasim Pedrad as a remorseless Carl: “I’m good at killin’, and I feel emotionally fine after I do it!” Watch the video below.
The Avengers star Jeremy Renner hosted Saturday Night Live this weekend, bringing with him not only a ratings boost — it was the second-highest rated episode of the season — but also a send-up of Marvel’s $1.5 billion blockbuster. The skit lampoons Hawkeye’s contributions to Earth’s Mightiest Heroes as the archer runs out of arrows at a crucial time in their battle against the Chitauri. “I’m all out of arrows, I don’t have any more,” Hawkeye says. “So, uh, I guess I’m done, right? All right, I’ll be in the car. Stay safe!”
Emmy nominee Steve Buscemi has played a corrupt politician on Boardwalk Empire, a small-time crook in Fargo, a naive bowler in The Big Lebowski, and an offbeat private investigator on 30 Rock. Now add to that Gotham City police commissioner.
Hosting Saturday Night Live over the weekend, Buscemi starred as James Gordon opposite Andy Samberg’s Batman in a digital short about a lurky Caped Crusader with serious boundary issues. Check out the video, complete with a cameo by Aquaman, below.
The announcement of a June 14 opening night for Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark — the sixth delay for the troubled musical — was quickly followed by conflicting reports about a stalemate with departing director Julie Taymor.
Lead producers Michael Cohl and Jeremiah J. Harris set the new date on Friday, and confirmed preview performances will shut down from April 19 to May 11 to allow the newly expanded creative team, which includes director Philip William McKinley and script doctor Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, to implement what are expected to be sweeping changes to the show.
Within hours of that news, the New York Post’s Michael Riedel, who’s been gleeful if not always accurate in his chronicling of the musical’s myriad troubles, wrote that Taymor is digging in her heels, refusing to leave without a “hefty payday” — and the script she co-wrote with Glen Berger. Riedel cites a source as saying the standoff has caused “chaos” in what’s already a chaotic production. A show representative was quick to deny the claims, telling The Hollywood Reporter, “All discussions are proceeding positively.”
An “exclusive” early this morning from Showbiz411’s Roger Friedman, whose frequently zealous defense of Spider-Man has softened dramatically in the past couple of weeks, contends Taymor will remain credited as director and co-writer (that point appears unchanged from Thursday), in large part because producers don’t have a “hefty” payout for the Tony Award winner. That certainly sounds right, as the show’s price tag is now being placed at north of $70 million — nearly triple its initially envisioned budget. While the musical is bringing in more than $1 million a week during preview performances, it will be at least four years before Spider-Man recoups its costs.
If all of that leaves any heads spinning, The New York Times has a terrific overview of the musical’s troubled history that notes, perhaps, why Taymor’s Lion King thrived while Spider-Man has foundered: Disney reined in the director, whom many regard as a creative genius, while Cohl and other producers gave her freedom, at least up until the past several weeks:
The troubled $65-million musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark has been issued two safety violations for accidents last year that resulted in the injuries of three performers.
Citing an unnamed official with the New York State Department of Labor, The New York Times reports the findings require the show’s producers to continue safety measures put in place in December after Christopher Tierney, one of several aerialists who doubles for Spider-Man, fell more than 20 feet, suffering serious injuries. Two other performers were hurt while rehearsing a stunt that catapults them from the back of the stage to the lip.
According to the newspaper, state officials will continue to conduct announced inspections. If they find any safety measures aren’t being followed, they can withdraw variances issued last year allowing aerial sequences to be performed over the audience.
News of the violations capped off a week that began with scathing reviews, then continued with an angry response from the show’s lead producer and, on Friday, a report that the production is again turning to focus groups.
To add insult to injury, Spider-Man was again lampooned by Saturday Night Live, this time in a fake commercial for the law firm of Gublin & Green, which specializes in winning settlements for anyone injured by the show. “We’ve settled all kinds of complaints: ‘Didn’t like the songs'; ‘confused by the plot'; ‘insulted legacy of Spider-Man'; ‘Fell asleep so suddenly I hit head on seat in front of me'; ‘sucky title’ …” Watch the video after the break.
Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, the most expensive and technically complex show in Broadway history, is set to officially open on March 15, after five delays.
He’s appeared in countless movies, cartoons and video games, so why not? Fans of Stan Lee have started a campaign on Facebook to get the comic book icon onto Saturday Night Live.
“Stan Lee has been known to make many scene stealing cameos, appearing in both movies & TV shows, yet there is one show & one cameo he has yet to tackle, Saturday Night Live. Imagine Stan “The Man” Lee appearing on SNL, think of the possibilities,” reads the description on the page. A similar campaign worked for actress Betty White last season.
Although Lee’s appearances on the silver screen are typically small cameos in Marvel’s films, I’m betting he’d do a better job than Steve Forbes, M.C. Hammer and Nancy Kerrigan, all of whom have hosted in the past.
Holy smokes, talk about high-profile support for a worthy project. On Sunday, January 31, Saturday Night Live cast members Fred Armisen, Abby Elliot, Will Forte, Seth Meyers, Jason Sudeikis, and The Lonely Island’s Jorma Taccone will headline an all-star comedy fundraiser on behalf of the upcoming Off-Broadway adaptation of writer/artist Phoebe Gloeckner’s The Diary of a Teenage Girl. SNL writers Colin Jost, Hannibal Buress, and John Mulaney, comedians Bridey Elliott and Emily Heller, and musical guest (sorry, couldn’t help it) The Renaldo The Ensemble will also perform.
The Diary of a Teenage Girl uses a unique comics/prose/illustration hybrid format to tell the story of Minnie Goetze, a precocious teenager growing up in ’70s San Francisco who has an affair with her mother’s boyfriend. Sex and drugs abound, but it’s told in such an honest, hopeful, no-B.S. fashion that it’s as far away from after-school special territory as you can get. If you haven’t read it, you should — serious Best of the Decade material.
Want to help the curtain for the show go up on March 15 as scheduled? Buy tickets to the “Beyond Funderdome Comedy Blowout” fundraiser. Regular tix are $85; VIP tickets, which include pre-show drinks with the performers, will run you $150. The fundraiser takes place at the same venue where Diary will run, the 3LD Art & Technology Center at 80 Greenwich Street in Manhattan.
Saturday Night Live‘s Bill Hader, who with castmate Seth Meyers wrote Spider-Man: The Short Halloween, already has his sights set on another Marvel character.
“We have a Daredevil idea that we’d like to do,” the actor-comedian tells io9.com. “I can’t tell you what the idea is. I would say it’s kind of the same thing as the Spider-Man book as it’s kind of a stand alone. … And our idea is similar to the Spider-Man one, where it also involves peripheral characters [as] the main character and Daredevil is influencing the story in different ways. It is that kind of similar thing to the Spider-man one. I know people were kind of mixed on it. Some people liked it and some people were like, ‘why isn’t Spider-Man the main character?’ We weren’t interested in that, we found that funnier.”
Hader, perhaps best known for his role in Superbad, has served as a creative consultant and producer for South Park. He’ll also provide the voice of Professor Impossible in Season 4 of The Venture Bros.
In celebration of today’s release of Spider-Man: The Short Halloween, our old friend Neil Kleid counts down some classic Marvel-related Saturday Night Live moments over at Marvel.com.
Here’s my favorite from Kleid’s list — an apron-wearing Superman hosts a cocktail party that’s attended by the Flash, Ant Man and the Hulk, as played by John Belushi:
Short Halloween, of course, is the comic book writing debut of cast members Bill Hader and Seth Myers. Although I’m wary about the story, the Kevin Maguire art means I’m all in.