“Dude, I didn’t even get a free ticket. Are you kidding me? It’s DC. Even Marvel invites me to the movies.”
– Superman: Birthright writer Mark Waid, answering the question, “Did you get a ‘based on work by’ credit in [Man of Steel] due to Birthright?” In the conversation that follows, he adds, “They’re not legally obligated to. Why would they? When they did before, that was Paul. Paul’s gone,” with “Paul” being Paul Levitz, former President and Publisher at DC Comics. Update: It’s worth noting here (as Waid points out in our comments section below) that Waid was asked the question and answered it directly, versus complaining about it. As he said in a follow-up tweet: “I’m not complaining about the situation. I could be mad about the policy change, but why? That won’t mend it.”
I didn’t stay for the credits after the movie ended when I saw it earlier this week, so I didn’t see who did and didn’t get credited. But it’s a shame that this policy changed when Levitz left, for many reasons. Blogger Andrew Wheeler makes a good argument for why crediting and compensating creators for their contributions makes good business sense: “I know the moral argument is pointless and the legal one is dead, but I feel there’s a clear financial argument. Incentivising the best writers to give good ideas to companies that trade entirely on ideas seems sane to me.”
With director Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel opening today nationwide (many theaters had screenings as early as 12:01 a.m.), it’s impossible to swing a dead Kent without hitting a dozen Superman-related items online or in print. Although most of them are directly related to the Warner Bros. franchise reboot, there are plenty with clear comic-book ties. Here are just a handful of them:
• Superman gets the cover of this week’s Entertainment Weekly, on which Neal Adams and Murphy Anderson’s rendition of the Last Son of Krypton (from December 1972′s Action Comics #419) is given prominence over the movie and TV versions — possibly because Man of Steel star Henry Cavill was featured in April, but hey, we’ll take it. But poor, poor Brandon Routh …
• Mark Waid, whose 2003-2004 miniseries Superman: Birthright (with Leinil Francis Yu) influenced Man of Steel, saw the movie last night and tweeted, “That thunder you heard at around 9:15 EST was the sound of my heart breaking in two.” He followed that with a review on his Thrillbent website that he prefaced with, “It’s a good science-fiction movie, but it’s very cold. It’s not a very satisfying super-hero movie. That said, if your favorite part of SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE was Superman standing in the Fortress while Jor-El lectured him, you’re gonna love MAN OF STEEL.”
As part of the big push for the opening of Man of Steel, and the 75th anniversary of Superman, DC Comics Co-Publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee appeared this morning on Bloomberg Television to discuss the evolution of the character, the new series Superman Unchained, digital comics, and what trickle-down effect the film might have on the company’s comics.
Lee on Superman Unchained: ““I was working with Scott Snyder and we said if we could only tell one Superman story, this is what we would tell. If you only have one shot you want to do all the classic element of superman. We have lots in there. We have Lois. We have Lex Luther doing diabolical things. There is a new villain named Rathe. I think we can reveal that now. That is an exclusive. Scott will hate me for that [Laugher]. We are adding things to his mythology and that’s how you keep him fresh and relevant.”
Despite a series of seemingly definitive decisions in DC Comics’ favor, the nearly decade-long legal fight over the rights to Superman continues, with the estate of co-creator Joe Shuster asking an appeals court just three weeks ago to overturn a ruling barring the family from reclaiming the artist’s stake in the Man of Steel. At the center of the battle is tenacious and controversial attorney Marc Toberoff, the longtime nemesis of Warner Bros. who represents the heirs of Shuster and his collaborator Jerry Siegel.
He’s the subject of a lengthy feature in the latest issue of Bloomberg Businessweek, in which he pledges he’ll take the Superman dispute to the Supreme Court, if necessary. “This case is by no means over,” he tells the magazine. “My clients and I are prepared to go the distance.” It’s an interesting article that’s part history lesson and part personality profile, with several tidbits (of varying importance) that I can’t recall seeing previously:
Comics | To mark the 75th anniversary of Superman, and the premiere this week of Warner Bros.’ Man of Steel, Edward Helmore of The Telegraph recounts the long and bitter legal feud between DC Comics and the families of creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster over the rights to to the multibillion-dollar property, a battle from which the publisher has seemingly emerged victorious. [The Telegraph]
Comics | The New York Post’s Reed Tucker has some ideas on how to “fix” comics, starting with cutting the cover price to increase sales. [Parallel Worlds]
Comics | With an exhibit of original art from Charles Schulz’s Peanuts opening in a local gallery last week, a local comic convention in the works, and a thriving comics retail scene all year round, South Florida could just be the next comics hotspot. [WLRN]
Whether he’s explaining buoyancy or warning of the consequences of evolution denial, there are few things as wonderful and as educational as Bill Nye delivering some scientific knowledge. And so it was a stroke of brilliance that the folks and Gillette recruited the Science Guy for their HowDoesHeShave promotional campaign for director Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel.
As you can likely deduce from the name, the razor brand tackles the question that’s nagged Superman fans and scholars for decades: No, not how he and Lois Lane could have sex — rather, how does the Last Son of Krypton shave? For the campaign, it’s also posed to Kevin Smith, The Big Bang Theory actress (and neuroscientist) Mayim Bialik and MythBusters hosts Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, but I like Nye’s “grinding theory” (much better than Smith’s half-baked “Kryptonian rocket that brought Superman to Earth theory”).
A week that began with Yahoo’s $1.1 billion deal for Tumblr got even stranger this morning with Amazon Publishing’s announcement of Kindle Worlds, billed as the first commercial publishing platform for fan fiction. In short, fanfic writers can now earn royalties for certain corporate-sanctioned stories.
For the launch, Amazon Publishing has secured licenses from Alloy Entertainment, the book-packaging division of Warner Bros. Television, for Cecily von Ziegesar’s Gossip Girl, Sara Shepard’s Pretty Little Liars and L.J. Smith’s The Vampire Diaries — all bestselling young-adult series that have spawned hit television shows. More licenses are expected to be announced soon.
Warner Bros. Television and the co-creators of Smallville have settled a multimillion-dollar dispute concerning profits from the long-running television series. The agreement was announced Monday during a status hearing, but Hollywood Esq. reports no paperwork has been signed.
Series creators and executive producers Miles Millar and Alfred Gough and series producers Tollin/Robbins Productions sued WBTV in 2010, accusing the company of licensing Smallville to its co-owned WB and CW networks “for unreasonably low” fees, thereby cutting the plaintiffs out of tens of millions of dollars.
The odds of a Justice League movie ever making it to theaters are probably about even at the moment and, if rumors are to be believed, largely dependent on the box-office performance of Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel. Thankfully, however, we won’t have to wait until 2015 or beyond to see Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman and Green Lantern together in live-action form.
Director/producer Andrew List has released a low-budget fan trailer for Kingdom Come, based on the acclaimed 1996 miniseries by Alex Ross and Mark Waid. (How low-budget? The project’s indiegogo campaign generated $5,617.) Sure, some of the acting and green-screen work — to say nothing of Superman’s Southern accent — are a bit suspect, but there are a few moments that look as if they were taken right out of the comic. Considering the budget, it’s kind of impressive.
If you were just thinking your summer wouldn’t be complete without some New 52-inspired beach and camping accessories or garden tools, well, you’re in luck: Target has partnered with Warner Bros. Consumer Products and DC Entertainment to introduce an exclusive summer collection of Justice League merchandise.
Debuting Sunday, the line features more than 50 products, sand toys designed to form cities like Gotham and Metropolis, Wonder Woman melamime dinnerware, a Batman snack cup and apron, a Wonder Woman kids’ camp chair, and Batman, Wonder Woman and The Flash beach towels that double as capes.
In addition to the the summer collection, the partnership will see the introduction of a wide range of Justice League merchandise, ranging from $1 Justice League temporary tattoos to the $59.99 Justice League rocking chair. There will also be a line of Justice League Halloween costumes later in the year.
“DC Comics’ Justice League characters are a powerful assemblage of the most recognizable Super Heroes in the history of comic books,” Brad Globe, president of Warner Bros. Consumer Products, said in a statement. “We are incredibly excited to offer fans of all ages a unique collection and collaboration that pairs the heroics of the Justice League characters with the product design and marketing super powers of Target.”
DC Comics Co-Publisher Jim Lee appeared Saturday on CBS New York to promote Free Comic Book Day, but he also used the time to plug Warner Bros.’ upcoming Man of Steel — “It brought me to tears, actually, a couple of times” — and Superman comics, and to inform the anchor that, no, they’re not all drawn by the same artist.
“It seems like they’re all sort of drawn the same way,” the anchor says. “But you actually have different people doing these drawings?”
Still, Lee talked perhaps the most about director Zack Snyder’s franchise reboot, saying, “It’s an amazing reimagining of Superman. There’s stuff in there you’ve never seen in a Superman movie before. The special effects are incredible, but it’s got a lot of heart.”
Ever the guardian of American values, Stephen Colbert has cast his scornful gaze on the latest threats to everything wholesome: Man of Steel and Iron Man 3.
On last night’s episode of The Colbert Report, the talk-show host took on the Warner Bros. franchise reboot first for casting English actor Henry Cavill as the embodiment of truth, justice and the American way, and then for its liberal agenda. Showing a clip in which Superman explains to Lois (Amy Adams) that on his world, his “S” symbol means “hope,” Colbert rages, “They’re saying Superman is Obama! Think about it: They both rise from Midwestern obscurity, become the most powerful man in the world, and, if I’m not mistaken, Krypton is the capital of Kenya!”
His “big problem” with Iron Man 3 is that Marvel turned to China for financing, resulting in a special cut of the film, featuring scenes with Chinese actors, product placement and an alteration of the villain’s name from the Mandarin to “Man Daren.”
“Why is Iron Man fighting the husband from Bewitched?” Colbert asks.
“Words like ‘realism’ and ‘dark’ and ‘gritty’ get bandied about Hollywood as if the only merit a story can have is in its verisimilitude, but that’s a lie. Emotional honesty transcends reality; it’s what allows disbelief to be suspended, and yet what makes a story stay true. When Superman: The Movie was released, Richard Donner promised us we’d believe a man could fly. We did, but it wasn’t the wire-work alone.”
– comics writer and novelist Greg Rucka, voicing his misgivings about the PG-13 rating for director Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel
Much like Wayne Manor, the real selling point of Chris Weir’s home in Middletown, Delaware, is what lies underground.
When the lifelong Batman fan and his wife bought their suburban home in 2006, it was largely because it had enough basement space for Weir to construct his dream: his own Batcave.
Two and a half years and $150,000 later, the father of two had constructed his own subterranean lair, accessed through a hidden door in a bookcase that’s opened using a switch on a bust of William Shakespeare, just like on the 1960s Batman television series. Inside, as you can see in the video below, is a home theater made to look like a cave (naturally); it also houses what Weir describes as his “most prized possession”: a Batsuit featured in The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises.
Although Weir’s wife claims to be fine with her husband’s expensive fixation — “I’m proud of what he’s done,” she says, “I think it’s really, really cool” — his oldest son looks as if he’s had about enough of Dad’s Batman nonsense.
Are you getting excited? New teasers and trailers are being released almost every day now. The countdown to Summer Movie Season is officially on, and the big blockbusters adapting comics are looking promising. Iron Man 3 has an armada of armors flying around; can’t really go wrong there. The Wolverine has ninjas as far as the eye can see. And the bearded and brooding Man of Steel might even end up being good. Throw in a little Kick-Ass 2 and RED 2, sprinkle with R.I.P.D. and 300: Rise of an Empire, and top it off with 2 Guns, and you’ve got yourself one fun summer.
While we still get clunkers, the ratio of good to suck has definitely improved. It used to be that the old chestnut response to a movie adapted from a novel could be more often than not applied to movies adapted from comics: The book was better. And it’s often still true. But there are times when the movies do it better than comics, and while that’s great for the filmmakers and audiences, in a way it’s an indictment on the comics-makers.
Comics offer more boundless creativity than almost any medium. With comics, there’s no studio executive, no creation-by-committee made up of shareholders and board members with less experience creating and telling stories than their companies’ interns. It’s why Tony Stark being an alcoholic doesn’t fly with Disney and was removed from Iron Man 3. Comics can still include collaboration and compromise but they can just as easily be the result of a single voice. Even with the most heavy-handed editorially mandated comics, they’re still created by a fraction of people needed to make a Hollywood movie. Comics are generally more spontaneous, imaginative and clever than most major studio movies. But sometimes, Hollywood gets the jump on comics.