Sunday, August 12, 2007

Comic Book Cinema One Year Ahead


There was a plethora of news and announcements coming out of Comic Con earlier this month but the most buzz worthy of the bulletins to come out of San Diego didn’t come from the big two comic book publishers—DC and Marvel—but from Hollywood.

With Spider-Man 3 and the second Fantastic Four film already having come and gone from movie theaters and the summer of 2007 winding down, all eyes are already looking in eager anticipation toward the comic book cinema of 2008.

FanBoyWonder monitored developments from our world headquarters outside of Washington, D.C. and we are excited from what we’ve seen.

Iron Man

Iron Man staring Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man held if not the most promise at least the most news coming out of Comic Con.

Iron Man director Jon Favreau treated fans to a 3 minute clip montage of the upcoming film—which promptly, if briefly, made its way to You Tube.

As we’ve noted before, we like the selection of Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark as they are a lot alike in many ways. Both brilliant talents in their own right who suffer from the demon of addiction—in the comics Tony Stark is a recovering alcoholic. In life, RDJ is a recovering addict of booze, drugs and being a Hollywood ass.

In the clip we saw, Tony Stark is your average cocky billionaire playboy weapons manufacturer who ends up in the wrong side of a mortar attack in some desert war land (Afghanistan?). An as yet unknown savior saves the wounded and imprisoned Stark’s life by implanting an electro-magnet in his chest and hooking it to a car battery to keep the tiny pieces of shrapnel in his heart from killing him.

As a prisoner of war, he fashions primitive but effective armor to escape his captors and then we see him kicking arse and taking names. We then see the familiar red and gold armor of Iron Man and an incredible special effects shot of Iron Man flying in formation, then dog fighting with a couple of F-15 combat jets.

All this with—you guessed it—“Iron Man” by Black Sabbath playing in the background. Who knew that Ozzy was a fanboy?

Except for the flying sequence, director Favreau has said that all of the other Iron Man scenes were live action and not computer generated—like The Hulk. Given the pictures of the displayed Iron Man silver prototype armor at Comic Con, that’s not hard to believe.

While we’ve always been DC Comics fanboy first and foremost, we read a fair amount of Iron Man back in the great days of Old Marvel—both his time on The Avengers and in his own book. To us the definitive Iron Man came from writer/inker and co-plotters David Michelinie and Bob Layton.

Their circa 1980 Demon in a Bottle story line from Iron Man (first series) # 120-128, collected in the trade paperback The Power of Iron Man was groundbreaking stuff, ahead of its time and easily as good as anything put out today. Watching Tony Stark’s alcoholism steadily creep up on him and culminate into watching him operate his armored war machine drunk was a chilling sight—especially to a 10-year-old FanBoyWonder.

From what we understand, Favreau won’t be dealing with Stark’s substance abuse in this movie but it’s definitely potential for the sequel. If they simply just adapted the Demon in a Bottle storyline for the screen, they would have a dead-bang character driven winner.

Iron Man opens May 2, 2008. http://www.ironmanmovie.com/

THIS JUST IN from Wizard World Chicago as we were about to post this: The classic Iron Man team of Michelinie and Layton will again team up a third installment of their Iron Man vs. Dr. Doom story arcs.

Comic Book Resources has reported that “In spring of 2008, the Marvel U's premier armored champion finds his fate intertwined once again with that most despotic of archfiends, Dr. Doom, in the four-issue miniseries, Iron Man: Legacy of Doom,’ by legendary "Iron Man" writers David Michelinie & Bob Layton with art by Ron Lim.

The previous two clashes of armored warriors by Micheline and Layton took place in the classic Iron Man (volume 1) #149-150, with part two in Iron Man (again volume 1) #249-250.

We really haven’t been able to stomach Iron Man with any other creative team since Micheline and Layton, especially during the current mess at Marvel called Civil War but we eagerly await this mini-series next spring.

The Dark Knight

We began looking forward to this sequel to Batman Begins from the moment the houselights came up at the movies in 2005.

Director Christopher Nolan is playing details to this squeal close to the vest. All we know is that it will feature the Joker played by Heath Ledger and that Christian Bale returns as Batman, as does Michael Caine as Alfred and Gary Oldman as now Captain Jim Gordon.

Up until we heard him in character, we had had our doubts about the choice of Ledger as the Joker. But what we heard wasn’t the Clown Prince of Crime but more like Death with a Smile. Personally, we never did care much for clowns.

In a trailer that’s little more than audio with the Bat-symbol on screen, we hear the voice of Heath Ledger’s Joker speaking with a high pitch of Cesar Romero with the menace of Jack Nicholson making assurances that someone will die.

While we don’t know much about the story, we do hope that the filmmakers spend some time on the Dark Knight as a detective—an aspect of Batman’s persona that has gone woefully under-utilized both in the films and in the comics for quite some time now.

Aaron Eckhart is on board The DK as District Attorney Harvey Dent, presumably helping Batman clean up the corrupt from top-to-bottom Gotham. We’re hearing buzz that Harvey will also be transformed into Two-Face and that Batman could have to take on two big deal bad guys.

In other casting news, Maggie Gyllenhaal replaces Katie Holmes as Assistant District Attorney and Bruce Wayne’s childhood friend Rachel Dawes. We were glad to hear that the filmmakers were replacing the actress and not the character for the sequel.

Batman has never had a Lois Lane per se but the filmmakers saw fit to write one in to this Bruce Wayne’s life in Batman Begins. Consistency is important and by sticking with the character, it says that Nolan and company are committed to a character-driven drama that’s punctuated by costumed battles and not the other way around.

While it is all too fashionable to crap all over Katie Holmes and while we did find her performance in Batman Begins underwhelming, she didn’t seriously detract from the film either. We hope that Maggie Gyllenhaal can take things to a new level.

The Dark Knight opens July 18, 2008. http://thedarkknight.warnerbros.com/

The Return of Indiana Jones

Although we had been passively following news that Stephen Spielberg, George Lucas and Harrison Ford were finally going to bring the world’s toughest archeologist back to the screen, we hadn’t given much thought to nor felt much excitement about a fourth and as yet untitled Indiana Jones film.

That is until the special presentation the filmmakers made via satellite at Comic Con.
By way of background, FanBoyWonder first saw the original Raiders of the Lost Ark on our 11th birthday back in 1981.
As it turned out, we hadn’t wanted to see it as we thought it looked stupid but Mom and Dad FanBoyWonder dragged FBW and our brother Joe to the movies. Suffice to say we left thinking it was the coolest thing we had ever seen and grumbling that Mom and Dad were right about that one.

We don’t know much about the new film but what we do know is starting to excite us.
Indy 4 reportedly takes place in the late 1950s featuring an aging Indiana Jones. We had heard that the crew was down at our old stomping grounds of New Haven, Connecticut filming in and around Yale University (since much of the old campus is ageless it’s easy to dress it up to look like the 50s).

Since Harrison Ford is now 65 years old (and looks great, but still….65) it would have been ridiculous for him to continue to act half his age…..who does he think he is….Sean Connery????

Speaking of Connery, word has it that he has passed on the opportunity reprise his role as Indy’s father Dr. Henry Jones. Ah well, but we’ll get over it.

The actor who IS reprising their role that excites us is Karen Allen who played Indy’s love interest Marion Ravenwood from the original Raiders. Not only does the return of her character bring us all back full circle to the first film but quite simply, the other Indy films weren’t as good without her.

Karen Allen’s Marion flawlessly played the damsel in distress who could also throw a punch and was every bit as tough as Indy. Ballsy and beautiful but not in an overt sex-pot kind of way—not unlike Margot Kidder’s Lois Lane from the Superman films. (Although pound for pound in a fair fight, we’re pretty sure that Marion could eat Lois’ lunch.)

Indy and Marion reportedly share a son together—that kid from Transformers Shia LaBeouf who will likely do a fair amount of the actiony stunt stuff to take the heat off of Papa Jones.

We’re going to take it on faith that this movie will be good but our only request is—please fellas, no Nazis!

The not as yet formally named Indiana Jones 4 opens May 22, 2008 http://www.indianajones.com/.

See you at the movies.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Jeff Mac said...

Oh come on, FanBoyWonder -- no Nazis? As in, zero? It's set in the late 50s! Couldn't Indy and Son bust up a rumble between Arthur Fonzerelli and an aging Dr. Mengele fresh in from Buenos Aires?

On a more serious note, I'm pretty much peeing myself in anticipation of both Iron Man and Dark Knight. I'm not even a comic book fanboy (I skipped from Dungeons & Dragons directly over to boobs) but god help me I do love a GOOD comic book movie. And I'm optimistic for these two.

8:34 AM, August 13, 2007  
Blogger FBW said...

Well my “anti-Nazi embargo” is part of my larger crusade for both comic book writes and Hollywood to curtail their overuse of Nazis as the bad guys….the ONLY politically correct bad guys.

But besides just being boring, the continued use of Nazi antagonists—more often than not as buffoons—obscures the true evil of their deeds, such as the systemic murder of some 6 million Jews, as well as gypsies, Polish, gays and others who were insufficiently correct.

Now if Indy and Son are in search of some 1950s bad guys, they should take on the Red Menace of Lenny and Squiggy. Die Commie Bastards!

6:05 PM, August 13, 2007  
Anonymous jeff mac, the manslator said...

"Where are we going to find two idiots to create a godless Communist society?"

(Door slams open.)

"Hello!"

7:35 AM, August 17, 2007  

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