Posts Tagged ‘Marvel Comics’

Summer of the Comic Book Movie

June 2, 2011

Yes, summer means longer days, school being out, vacations and blockbuster movies. Yet, this summer the studios will be putting out six, count’em six, movies based on comic books/graphic novels. What gives? There was a time when comic books were considered a sign of the downfall of civilization and were blamed for corrupting young minds. Even Stan Lee, the creator of Spiderman, Thor and other superheroes of the Marvel Comics universe, didn’t think too highly of comic books when he first started out. He became a comic book writer because he needed the money and Timely Comics, which later became Marvel, paid him very well for his work. Yet, many years later both he and movie studio executives realized that there’s storytelling gold in comic books. They have action, drama and a love story for when there’s a lull in the action.

Still, if there is going to be a superhero movie during the summer blockbuster season, there is usually one maybe two, not six. Well, here are my theories on the increase, at least for the summer of 2011, of superhero movies:

It’s still the economy, stupid.
Last summer people wanted to escape the recession with animated films, this year the escape “vehicle” is the superhero movie. While last year moviegoers wanted reminders of childhood, this year they want a hero to save them from unemployment and home foreclosure. Unfortunately, superheroes can’t do much about those things, but it is fun to imagine that they could. After all, the U.S. is still in the grips of a recession and escapist films have traditionally done well during difficult times. Last year’s summer blockbuster movie season saw $4.05 billion worth of ticket sales, so the studios must be doing something right.

They get the job done.
Why do people want a superhero? Because a superhero gets the job done. Superheroes get the bad guy without so much of a grumble and they do it with style. Just look at Superman, Batman Spiderman, Ironman and the like. They either have gadgets, strength or a little of both and they get the villain. Crime will not pay if a superhero is on the case.

The story of the superhero goes waaay back.
If you think the superhero story is a 20th century invention, think again. Stories such as Hercules and Samson show how far back the idea of a superhero goes—and those are just from the Western culture. Other cultures have their stories of someone who can perform amazing feats of strength for the good of a community. People all around the world and in all times have had to deal with evil and injustice, so it is no wonder that stories of a person with both amazing physical strength and the will to fight the good fight were told. They were and still are exercises in fantasy and an inspiration for others to fight the good fight, as well.

As for which superhero movies will be very successful and which ones will just bomb, I’ll most likely write about that in a future blog entry.

Sources:
http://www.reelzchannel.com/article/1082/summer-2011-preview-20-movies-well-be-talking-about-next-year/

Cantu, Hector, Heritage Magazine “Stan the Creator” Fall 2008, pg. 52

http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118023577.html?categoryid=1237&cs=1

 

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2011 Summer Movies

May 5, 2011

Yippee, it’s May. Not only does it mean that winter is over, spring is in full bloom and summer is just around the corner, it also means that Hollywood will be churning out my favorite kind of movie—the SUMMER BLOCKBUSTER!!  Since I love summer blockbusters sooooo much, I will use this blog entry to highlight a few of the many movies that will be coming out this summer.

May
Thor

Based on the characters from Marvel Comics, Thor is more than just a big lug with a hammer.  After all he gets his powers from the Norse gods, so he can’t just be some rock’em sock’em super hero. In fact, Stan Lee admitted that he occasionally had his characters, like Thor and Silver Surfer put forth his own philosophy of life. The film was directed by none other than Kenneth Branagh, of Hamlet fame and stars Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman.

Pirates of the Caribbean—On Stranger Tides
Love’em or hate’em, you have to hand it to Disney, when something works for them, they keep using it. Case in point, the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. The last one made $300 million, so the powers that be decided to make another one. This one features Penelope Cruz, as well as Johnny Depp and is in 3D. I’m sure this will make a pretty penny this time around, as well. After all, the mouse doesn’t live on cheese alone.

Hangover 2
The crew from Hangover, which is the highest grossing R-rated comedy, is back. Need I say more?

June
X-Men First Class

Another one of Marvel and Stan Lee’s properties is getting the blockbuster treatment this summer. This one is a prequel of how Charles Xavier and Magneto came to be who they are. While some of the teaser posters weren’t so great, this film looks interesting to me. This film stars James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender and January Jones.

Cars 2
I guess the folks at Pixar thought since sequels worked so well for Toy Story, might as well try them for Cars. This time Lighting McQueen gets involved with spies during an international road race. I’ve seen the previews and they look good, so I’m actually looking forward to this film. Features the voices of Owen Wilson and Larry the Cable Guy.

Rise of the Apes
Look at what Star Wars has wrought, sequels and prequels everywhere. This is a prequel for the original 1968 film Planet of the Apes with the dude who played Moses in The Ten Commandments. Hmmm, what was his name?* Well, senior moments not withstanding, this film deals with genetic engineering and what can happen when tinkering in the lab goes astray. Stars James Franco, Tom Felton and John Lithgow

July
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows: Part 2

The long awaited end of the Harry Potter series will come this summer. Will Voldermore be defeated? Will Hermonine choose Harry or Ron? What will become of Harry? Oh wait, these questions were answered in the books. Maybe I should hurry up and read them all. Stars Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson.

Captain America: The First Avenger
Yet another Marvel property is getting the movie treatment. This time the story deals with a someone who volunteers to take part in an experiment during World War II to become a super soldier, only to end up with super human strength. Stan Lee must be very happy to see his creations on the big screen. I hope he is getting some money out of this, as well.  Stars Chris Evans and Samuel L. Jackson.

Cowboys and Aliens
Talk about your genre mashups. It wasn’t enough to make a western or a sci-fi film, director Jon Favreau of Iron Man fame, decided to take the graphic novel (comic book to those over the age of 40) by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg and turn it into a movie. Of course the next question is, who will win? The cowboys or aliens? I have a feeling it will be the cowboys. Stars Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig.

August
The Smurfs

Yes, those little blue creatures who got their start in a comic strip in 1958 by Belgian artist Pierre Culliford, also known as Peyo, and then ended up as a Saturday morning cartoon on NBC in the 1980’s, are now coming to a multiplex near you—in 3D no less. Again the powers that be are into recycling and there is no end to this trend in sight. To quote, a famous Smurf line: “La, la, lala, la. La, lala, la.” Features the voices of Neil Patrick Harris, Hank Azaria and Katy Perry.

Conan
Speaking of recycling, weren’t the first two with the Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger enough? Stars Jason Momoa. Would you believe that Momoa got his start in Baywatch Hawaii? Talk about fail safe casting.

Final Destination 5
Will this be the final Final Destination or will there be a 6, 7, 8….

Well, those are my thoughts on select 2011 summer movies. Tune in again next week for another thrilling blog entry. (Okay, so my blog entries aren’t exactly thrilling, but they are good reads.)

*It was Charlton Heston and I knew it along. I just did that to be funny.

Sources:
http://www.reelzchannel.com/article/1082/summer-2011-preview-20-movies-well-be-talking-about-next-year/

Cantu, Hector, Heritage Magazine “Stan the Creator” Fall 2008, pg. 51

http://bluebuddies.com/help/smurfs_peyo_biography.htm

Superheroes & Movies—Perfect Together

June 10, 2010

It seems like superheroes were made with movies in mind. Cool costumes, evil villains and abilities that mere mortals just don’t have, add up to a must see movie.  So, which superheroes have made it to the silver screen?

Superman
Yes the grand-daddy of all superheroes and the model from which all subsequent superheroes are based upon. It started out as a movie serial, then it went to television, then it lead to five movies, four with the late Christopher Reeve and one with Brandon Routh. The Superman movies showed that if you put together good acting, good writing, (one of the writers of the screenplay for the first Superman movie was none other than Mario Puzo of Godfather fame) good directing and good special effects, you’ll end up with a great superhero movie.

Batman
This too, started out as a movie serial, then it went to television and subsequently six Batman movies were made. The first two had Michael Keaton as the Caped Crusader and Tim Burton as the director and it is my opinion that Keaton and Burton got the darkness of Bruce Wayne/Batman right. The movies seemed to have lost their way when Joel Schumacher took over, but things picked up with director Christopher Nolan and actor Christian Bale as Batman.

Spiderman
Not to be outdone by the folks at DC Comics, Marvel Comics had a Spiderman movie in the works since the 1980’s but for reasons such three independent production companies that went into bankrupty to the business health of Marvel Entertainment, the ideas were kept on paper until 2002. The rest of course is history. Note: I saw a trailer for the first Spiderman movie in August 2001 that featured a helicopter getting caught in a web that was spun between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center.  That trailer was subsequently removed after 9/11. Still, it was a cool trailer.

The Incredible Hulk
Not only does this superhero have a troubling past, but the movies aren’t exactly hits. Part of it has to do with the story of Bruce Banner, a mild mannered scientist whose powers, which came about via an accidental exposure to gamma radiation, are activated only when he becomes angry. How do you fight the bad guys when you can’t really control your powers? Two movies, one released in 2003 and another released in 2008, tried to answer that question and box office results showed that they didn’t really answer that question to the satisfaction of moviegoers.

Ironman
Yet another superhero from Marvel Comics, this time it’s about a billionaire weapons manufacturer who creates a suit that allows him to fight the bad guys without suffering any harm. It was very successful at the box office and ushered in Robert Downey, Jr. return to film. Ironman 2 was released on May 7, 2010 and is doing well in the box office.

So, if you are thinking of creating a blockbuster movie, just mine the comic book vault.  Lots of people did and it worked for most of them all the way to the bank.

Sources:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0078346/fullcredits#writers

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00005JPS8/ref=s9_simh_gw_p74_i3?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=1D55TMD6W8KPNR2WV1DM&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=470938631&pf_rd_i=507846

http://articles.latimes.com/1999/mar/02/business/fi-13115/2

http://www.amazon.com/Incredible-Hulk-Screen-Edward-Norton/dp/B001DHXT2U/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&s=dvd&qid=1274903370&sr=1-6