I was at the movie theater this weekend and saw this…
It’s an ad for X-Men: First Class and it isn’t new. It’s been standing there for more than a month, but its importance only struck me recently.
Blade was probably the true beginning of the modern resurgence of superhero movies, but for me, the most important was X-Men in 2000. As a longtime comic fan, it seemed crazy to believe that Hollywood was not only capable of taking superheroes seriously (Singer’s movie was about social equality as much as guys who can shoot lasers from their eyes), but that they could manage to turn a profit in the process. In other words, the people who scoffed at spandex and capes went to see the movie too. The casting of Patrick Stewart, literally everyone’s first choice for Professor X, put the icing on the cake, proving that those involved were fans themselves.
After X-Men, came another Blade, Spider-Man (finally!), Daredevil, an even better X-Men, Hulk, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Hellboy, Punisher, an even better Spider-Man, Catwoman, yet another Blade, Elektra, Fantastic Four, and the most well regarded of the lot, Batman Begins. This was all in the first five years of what was then still being called a fad, even by me.
Certainly these are not all excellent films. I had forgotten Elektra even came out. But to a lot of fans it was important that they simply existed and be just good enough to prevent the critics from saying “Well, that’s it for superhero movies! Trend’s over! Pack it up, Hollywood, this cash cow is dry.” Because then the party would end and we’d all go back to the universe we came from, where superheroes are silly. Neither profitable nor respectable enough for theaters.
We endured Singer’s yawnable Superman reboot, as well as the film it spawned through neglect, the bitterly disappointing third entry in the X-Men trilogy. We cringed nervously at Ghost Rider and hoped Nicolas Cage would shoulder most of the blame. We had high hopes for the Fantastic Four sequel. It looked better than the first one. And it was. Though not by much.
We pretended Spider-Man 3 was “fun”. Then we saw Iron Man and remembered what fun actually meant. There was another Incredible Hulk for some reason, but that was okay because there was another Batman too. A dark and moody (as well as long and preachy) tale of the Dark Knight we knew from the comics. Re-imagined for the screen, but only by degrees. The tone, the themes, and most importantly the characters that made Batman great were present. And right. And the rest of the world liked it too.
There were others, of course. Niche ones like Watchmen and Kick-Ass. Flat-out imitators like Sky High and Zoom. Blatant cash grabs like My Super Ex-Girlfriend and Superhero Movie. But the point is this: It’s been over a decade since X-Men was released. And amazingly, we are still here.
I just paid good money to see a movie about Thor (hear my thoughts on this Wednesday’s podcast!) Not the regular old Norse god, I mean Marvel Comics’ Thor. What’s more, Sam Jackson shows up as Nick Fury, and there’s a three-line cameo by an Academy Award Nominee playing Hawkeye. GODDAMN HAWKEYE. The high school version of me never thought he would see anyone play Hawkeye outside of a convention.
And more are coming, folks! We’re going to see a Captain America movie that contains the line “A weak man knows the value of strength.” YES. They get the character. There’s a Green Lantern film that not only acknowledges the cinematically expensive proposition that there are thousands of other alien Green Lanterns, but actually makes them a central part of the plot. The guy who did Firefly is directing an Avengers movie that will actually attempt to tie together Marvel’s cross-movie continuity in the same way the comics do. These are pipe dreams made manifest.
That ad for the new X-Men prequel (which I hope is as weighty and thoughtful as its most recent trailer makes it out to be) made me realize that for ten years I’ve been holding my breath. Waiting for the other shoe to drop and the superhero fad to end. I don’t think that’s going to happen. I think, at least for now, the dream has come true. Superhero films are just another sub-genre. An offshoot of fantasy, sci-fi, whatever you want to call it. There will be good movies. There will definitely be bad ones. But there will be movies. For the first time, we live in a world where it’s possible for the heroes we love on the page to come to life on the screen.
If this is just one big What If… story, nobody tell me.
Happy Monday, kids. Here’s another batch of stuff that fell through the cracks…
Badass Digest reports that Shane Black, writer of Lethal Weapon and writer/director of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang may direct Iron Man 3. Good news, I say. I’m usually a fan of Black’s stuff, and he’s got just the sense of humor (and reporre with Downey Jr.) for the job. Of course, this would be his first comic book flick. But as you can see below, he’s been studying up:
Speaking of comics, /Film reveals that the producers for that Godawful Spider-Man musical have hired a new writer to fix it. They wanted someone who really understood the character of Spider-Man. What makes him appealing both from a visceral, action-focused perspective, as well as an emotional character-focused perspective. With that in mind, they’ve hired ANY 15-YEAR-OLD IN AMERICA.
I’ll tell you who needs his story rewritten (segue!), Tommy the Green Power Ranger AKA Jason David Frank. And yes I knew that name from memory because I saw it every weekday morning for a good four years straight. Sadly, according to Geekologie, JDF’s in a bit of a jam after cracking some dude in the jaw so hard, his teeth came out. To be fair, this was during an officially sanctioned mixed-martial arts bout. To be EXTRA fair, this was NOT the guy he was supposed to be fighting, but some random employee of the gym. Apparently he forgot the Power Ranger’s rule of escalation: start out with harmless gymnastics, wait for the bad guy to power up BEFORE you morph.
Hey, know what else was green and a part of my childhood? Gremlins, which was a horror comedy directed by the great Joe Dante. And now it looks like Dante may be returning to the genre with a new Vampire/Werewolf comedy called Monster Love. Yeah it’s kind of a tired concept at this point, but if anyone can inject some new life into it, it’s him. /Film’s got the pres release.
It’s a great video, but of course it’s missing one of Logan and my favorites, featuring a very-pre-famous George Clooney:
Let’s ease into this week shall we? Don’t worry, we’ve got two, count ’em two podcasts coming to you in the next couple days, but until then how about we all enjoy the comedy stylings of Donald Glover talking about the short-lived online campaign to make him the first black Spider-Man.
I tell ya, this Spider-Man musical, huh? Am I right? The shakily-reviewed, fan-maligned, still unreleased Broadway debut of your friendly neighborhood wall-crawler has been delayed once again. So what’s the deal this time? More horrifying wrist injuries? No, apparently, one of the main issues is that preview audiences have had a tough time following what the hell is going on.
/Film says that producers “have decided that the second act, which is where the show strays from the classic Spider-Man mythology, is unclear and needs to be tinkered with.” So, first, great job fucking up the story of one of the most recognizable characters in popular fiction to such a degree that it’s not only disappointing, but flat out incomprehensible.
Second, if the whole point of a musical is to tell a story through music, I’m going to guess that the droning, generic contributions of Bono and THE EDGE
TM probably aren’t cutting it. Not a surprise, based on what we’ve already seen. C’mon, that could be a song about literally anything. What does it tell us about Spider-Man?
Luckily, Batman swoops in to the save the day. Not that probably-also-shitty Batman musical they’re cooking up. I’m talking about Christian Bale himself. Check out this interview where he actually starts to sing a song from Newsies. Sure, he stops after only two words, but it still made my day. Plus he transitions in the Powerpuff Girls theme for some reason, which is amazing in its own right. Any father who exposes his daughter to an excellent cartoon that’s been off the air for six years is a great dad in my book.
[Clip via Badass Digest]
Hey folks. It’s a short week due to Thanksgiving. No podcast and we’ll just be posting today and tomorrow. So, before the holiday break, I wanted to clear out a couple things I meant to post about last week:
First up, here’s some long lost footage from Back to the Future Part II. It’s the full video loop that plays outside the Biff Tannen Museum scene in alternate 1985. There’s definitely more here than we see in the finished film, and it sounds like the narration is still temp. So, I guess that makes this the version from alternate alternate 1985.
[/Film via BTTF.com]
While we’re on the subject, check out this very interesting article where BTTF scribe Bob Gale debunks some common misconceptions about the trilogy.
It’s old news now, but here’s the full Green Lantern trailer. Everything about it pleases me except the costume which was created entirely by CG rather than physical material. It looked great on the cover of Entertainment Weekly awhile back, but it’s kind of fakey when seen in motion. Hopefully they’ll give it one more pass before it hits theaters.
Here’s a publicity shot for the Broadway musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark wherein Nicole Kidman from Moulin Rouge! is terrorized by a slouchy, bipedal version of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Badass Digest has three others, each goofier than the last.
And finally, if you’re spending Monday counting the hours until the Thanksgiving holiday, embrace your frustration with this video compilation of every violent, primal, non-lingual utterance Arnold Schwarzenegger has ever committed to film. See you next week!