Tag Archives: Marvel Studios

Thoughts on Marvel Studios’ 2017-2019 Releases

With Marvel Studios’ July 18th announcement of their 2017-2019 movie release dates, speculation has begun over which Marvel characters will have their movie projects greenlit as Phase 2 moves into Phase 3.  The last two years I hoped that characters like Doctor Strange, Daredevil and Luke Cage would get their shot on the big screen, and with Netflix’s upcoming production of five Marvel original series (Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Jessica Jones, The Defenders) and the Doctor Strange Easter Egg in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, slowly but surely my favorite characters will get their TV or cinematic due.

So with over 5,000 characters in the Marvel Universe, will Marvel Studios fill the majority of their TBD slots with the more popular characters, or go the Guardians of the Galaxy route with the lesser known heroes/super teams?  Here’s my latest wish list for the 2017-2019 Marvel Studios slate:

Alien Legion

Alien Legion Cover

When Marvel’s creator owned line Epic Comics published Alien Legion #1 in 1984 (written by Carl Potts and Alan Zelenetz with art by Frank Cirocco and Terry Austin), this diverse group of “footsloggers and soldiers of fortune,” a Foreign Legion set in space, got me hooked.  I was fortunate to find a page of original art from Alien Legion #4, and it’s a prized piece in my art collection.  Hopefully this title will get the movie treatment.

Micronauts

Micronauts 3 Cover

Another title I enjoyed during it’s early run and that I’ve come to appreciate even more 30 plus years later.  Based on a line of toys from the 70’s, Marvel Comics published the first volume of comics until the mid-80’s.  I recently re-read the first five issues written by Bill Mantlo and drawn by Michael Golden and couldn’t stop thinking about how well it would translate on film.  J.J. Abrams is attached to a feature film adaptation with Paramount, but the screenwriters have said the film version would be different from the comic book.  (sigh)

Howard the Duck

Howard The Duck Cover

Hear me out on this one.  Even though those of us over a certain age still cringe at the memory of the terrible  Howard the Duck film produced by George Lucas in 1986, Howard still deserves a reboot based on a great comic book run.  News on Howard the Duck’s cameo in Guardians of the Galaxy is a great first step in that direction (is Marvel Studios testing the waters with audience response a la the Doctor Strange reference in Winter Soldier?).  Advances in CGI aside, the time is right to revisit Steve Gerber and Val Mayerick’s creation on film and hopefully it will be more in line with the original comic book.

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Thoughts on Captain America: The Winter Soldier (SPOILERS)

Captain America The Winter Soldier Poster

Starring Chris Evans (Steve Rogers/Captain America), Scarlett Johanssen (Black Widow), Anthony Mackie (Falcon), Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury), Robert Redford (Alexander Pierce), Cobie Smulders (Maria Hill), Sebastian Stan (The Winter Soldier)

Directed by Joe Russo and Anthony Russo; Written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeeley; Captain America was created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby

With each major comic themed film that’s been released over the last year, I couldn’t help but think about when the tide would turn and the genre’s popularity might start to wane.  But with over $400 million in worldwide box office since it’s April 4th opening weekend, Captain America: The Winter Soldier proves the comic book film is still popular among U.S. and international audiences.

Anyone who knows me knows that Captain America is one of my all time favorite comic book characters (see The Captain America Project in my previous posts), so The Winter Soldier is one of the films I’ve been looking forward to the  most this year.  The character really is timeless, with each generation of creators since Joe Simon and Jack Kirby creating stories of pure comic book fantasy (The Silver Age Avengers comic books) and weaving issues and events of the last 70 years into storylines to keep Cap relevant over the years (World War II, Communism, distrust of government in the 70’s, the post 9/11 world).  During the film’s opening weekend I caught a screening of Captain America: The Winter Soldier with two of my amazing friends (I’ll call them Wonder Woman and Phoenix), and the movie didn’t disappoint.

SPOILERS BELOW

Positives:

Chris Evans as Captain America

Steve Rogers doesn’t lose his soul or his hope for America when Project Insight and Pierce’s true motives are exposed.  As a man out of his time with 70 lost years to make up, he retains his ideals and moral compass without being jaded or effected by the modern era.  The fish-out-of-water element of his character doesn’t overpower the story, and it’s his introduction to the returned veterans in Sam Wilson’s support group that provides Cap with a sense of familiarity in a complicated world.

The Winter Soldier

I have to admit, when it was first announced this sequel would focus on the return of Bucky Barnes (played by Sebastian Stan) as HYDRA’s walking death machine The Winter Soldier, my first reaction was mixed.  Writer Ed Brubaker and artist Steve Epting crafted an amazing run with The Winter Soldier in the Captain America comic book, but there was a part of me that was put off by the “resurrection” of Bucky Barnes.  In my opinion, Bucky was one of the Marvel characters (along with Peter Parker/Spider-Man’s Uncle Ben and Gwen Stacy) that should not have been brought back from the dead.  But after seeing the film, I’m sold on bringing Bucky back.

Anthony Mackie as Falcon 

Falcon/Sam Wilson brought me back to the Bronze Age Cap/Falcon stories I grew up with, and actor Anthony Mackie was great in the role.  Sam Wilson was more than Cap’s wingman (sorry for the pun), he’s a leader that holds his own.  His backstory as an Air Force veteran of the War on Terror was the perfect origin for a contemporary Falcon, and his empathy for Steve Rogers as a veteran struggling with a return to normalcy is the backbone of their friendship.

Robert Reford as Alexander Pierce

Going into the film it was Robert Redford’s performance as S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Anthony Pierce that I was looking forward to the most.  This inspired casting elevated Winter Soldier from a high octane comic book/superhero film to an engaging political thriller.  Redford’s portrayal of Pierce and his true motives for Project Insight within S.H.I.E.L.D. was reminiscent of the ambiguous government characters in Alan Pakula’s conspiracy films of the 70’s.  Writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeeley referenced the classic films Three Days of the Condor and The Parallax View as influences on their story.

Easter Eggs

I won’t name all of them because the fun is in discovering them.  But one name dropped in the film got me thinking about the future of Marvel’s films: Stephen Strange.   I’ve been saying Doctor Strange was deserving of his own feature film for years.  Let’s hope it’s sooner rather than later.

Different tone from Captain America: The First Avenger

The first film (directed by Joe Johnston) had a look and feel that showed direct inspiration from the pages of the comic books.  Winter Soldier had less of this tone, but I felt it was appropriate for this film.  To me it was representative of how comic book stories have evolved over the last seventy years.  First Avenger was the Golden/Silver Age comic book, but Winter Soldier was the modern age comic book.  Captain America: The Winter Soldier is more than a comic book film, it’s an action film/political thriller with comic book characters.

Negatives:

For me, there weren’t any.

When I first read that part of the story was influenced  by current events, particularly a government “kill list,” I was concerned the film would be too heavily focused on the idea of government as evil/untrustworthy and possibly insert a sucker punch or two.  But I was happy to see the film did not take that route and instead showed the honorable, patriotic members of S.H.I.E.L.D. putting their lives on the line (with many making the ultimate sacrifice) to fight a HYDRA infiltration of their organization.  Great job by writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeeley and directors Joe and Anthony Russo.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a solid film with equal parts adrenaline and emotion that raises the bar for comic book movies as Marvel Studios works toward The Avengers: Age of Ultron in 2015.  Last week Marvel announced that Captain America 3 will be slated for May 6, 2016, the same weekend as Zack Snyder’s Superman/Batman film.  We’ll see who blinks.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Thoughts on the Guardians of the Galaxy Trailer

It’s been barely 24 hours since the Guardians of the Galaxy trailer was released and it has already topped 4 million views on YouTube.  I was surprised by the positive buzz over it in my office today, mostly from non-comic book readers (including one of my co-workers that admitted he’s never read a comic book in his life – you know who you are…).

When I first learned that Marvel Studios had green-lit Guardians of the Galaxy, my initial reactions were surprise and skepticism.  Considering the higher profile characters and super teams that have yet to get the big screen treatment (Doctor Strange, Black Panther), I was surprised Guardians was even on the cinematic radar.  I’ve only read a handful of GotG comics, so while I’m hopeful the film version of Guardians of the Galaxy will continue Marvel Studios’ current positive streak at the box office, I’m not as emotionally connected to the characters or canon as I would be to the Fantastic Four, Alpha Flight or even the New Mutants.

Before I even watched the Guardians trailer, I was convinced I wouldn’t like it.  Maybe a better choice of words would be that I was convinced there wouldn’t be enough in it to make me want to give the film a chance.  But I’ll admit, I liked what I saw though not without a few concerns.

Positives:

A solid cast: Bradley Cooper (Rocket Raccoon), Vin Diesel (Groot), Zoe Saldana (Gamora), Benicio Del Toro (the Collector), Djimon Hounsou (Korath the Pursuer), Glenn Close (Commander Rael), John C. Reilly (Rhomann Dey)

The effects, production design and makeup/costumes show that Marvel Studios saw something in the Guardians of the Galaxy and didn’t skimp on the budget.

However:

The trailer doesn’t give any indication as to what the movie is about.  Maybe the “Who are these guys?” element of the trailer will drum up initial curiosity/interest in the film, but I can’t help but wonder what it might be lacking in plot.

The reliance on comedy in the trailer has me concerned that the studio is trying to make the film more “accessible” to a non-comic reading audience by having the film make fun of itself rather than creating a story true to the GotG canon.  Nothing irks me more than a comic book movie that gives a wink to the audience as if to say, “We know comics aren’t cool, but this is!”  Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord reminded me of Bill Pullman’s character Lone Starr in Spaceballs.

But in spite of my concerns, I’ll still hold out hope that Guardians of the Galaxy is a good film that both comic readers and non-comic book readers will enjoy, and that it will be successful enough at the box office to add more comic book films to the pipeline.

Guardians of the Galaxy opens in theaters August 1, 2014.

On a side note, BleedingCool.com posted this article on Rocket Raccoon co-creator Bill Mantlo.  A significant portion of my comic book collection growing up was written by Mantlo, with my favorite titles Micronauts, ROM: Spaceknight and Cloak & Dagger.  In 1992 Mantlo was the victim of a hit and run accident that caused a traumatic brain injury and he has required ongoing care ever since.  I made my donation tonight.  I hope this article will inspire other fans of his work to also make a contribution towards the cost of his care.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A Look at Marvel Studios’ Phase 3 Movies

I’m a big fan of how Marvel Studios used the post-credit scenes in Iron Man, Thor and Captain America during Phase 1 of its movie releases to drum up enthusiasm for 2012’s The Avengers.  It didn’t disappoint, and now Phase 2 is barely underway and I’m already thinking about what lies ahead for Marvel Studios, particularly the films in discussion for Phase 3.

Phase 2 launched with the release of Iron Man 3, and continues to 2015 with Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy and ending with the eagerly anticipated Avengers 2.  I have to admit, I was surprised with their choice of Guardians of the Galaxy considering they’re less well known to the non-comic book reading movie audience (I was hoping for a team like The New Mutants).  Considering the level of excitement the studio has for Guardians there should be significant marketing for it, but I’m still skeptical it can draw a large audience.

But while the films of Marvel Phase 2 have me excited for their upcoming release, some of the characters Kevin Feige mentioned to Entertainment Weekly regarding Marvel Studio’s Phase 3 have me intrigued.

CONFIRMED:

Ant-Man

Ant-Man Cover

Release Date: November 2015

Director: Edgar Wright; Screenwriter: Joe Cornish

Ant-Man has been in development for awhile now, and is on the slate for a 2015 release with Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World) attached to direct.  The choice of Ant-Man wasn’t as surprising as Guardians considering the character has been around since the 60’s and was a member of The Avengers, but one concern that I hear the most from comic book fans is if Ant-Man is able to hold his own in a feature film like Iron Man or Thor.  His powers aren’t the most exciting for a superhero: he can shrink to the size of an ant and yet retain his human strength, and his helmet allows him to communicate with ants.

When I think of Ant-Man, the first thing that comes to mind is the ribbing he received in this Saturday Night Live sketch back in the 70’s.

An Ant-Man cameo in 2012’s The Avengers would have been a good introduction prior to his feature debut, but Wright felt an appearance in The Avengers wouldn’t be conducive to his film.

STRONG POSSIBILITIES:

Doctor Strange

Doctor Strange Cover

Possible Release Date: 2016

Doctor Strange has always been on my wish list for the movie treatment.  At age six I stayed up late the night of September 6, 1978 to watch Peter Hooten play the title role in the CBS made-for-TV Doctor Strange movie, and I’ve been waiting for someone to get it right ever since.  Since his comic book introduction in 1963, Doctor Strange has been brought to life by such talent as Stan Lee, Steve Ditko,  Bill Everett, Marie Severin, Gene Colan and Frank Brunner, but it was the Roger Stern/Marshall Rogers/Paul Smith runs of the early 80’s that solidified my appreciation of the character.

The casting of Doctor Strange should be interesting.  Prior to seeing Iron Man, I had envisioned Robert Downey Jr. as Stephen Strange.  But now that he’s firmly entrenched in the role of  Tony Stark, that’s unlikely to happen.

The Incredible Hulk

The Incredible Hulk Cover

I wasn’t a fan of the last two Hulk films, and prior to The Avengers I wasn’t sure how the Hulk would be utilized.  I always saw him as more of a Defender than an Avenger.  Mark Ruffalo did a great job as Banner/Hulk and I’m hoping he gets another chance at a stand-alone film.

HOLDING OUT HOPE:

The Inhumans

The Inhumans Cover

I first heard of the possibility of an Inhumans film a couple of years back and they deserve their own feature film.  Normally I would say they should at least be introduced in a Fantastic Four film, but hopefully that won’t happen considering how Fox (in my humble opinion) wasn’t able to provide the Fantastic Four, Doctor Doom, the Silver Surfer or Galactus with feature film adaptations that were worthy of their stature in the Marvel Universe.

Daredevil

Daredevil Cover

Another personal favorite of mine that I hope gets done right on film sooner rather than later.  I got my hopes up when Joe Carnahan released this sizzle reel with elements from Taxi Driver and The Warriors, but it’s looking doubtful that The Man Without Fear is high enough on Marvel Studio’s priority list for a reboot any time soon.  The silver lining: at least it’s back with Marvel Studios (along with Ghost Rider, The Punisher and Blade).  As much as I would like to see Daredevil as a feature length film, I think it would work even better as a TV series. Hopefully Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D will take off and open the floodgates for more Marvel characters on TV.

MY PERSONAL WISH LIST:

The New Mutants
Alien Legion
Marvel Team Up
The Defenders
Black Panther
Power Man and Iron Fist

Hopefully the films of Marvel Studios’ Phase 3 will lead to a Phase 4 in the following decade.  Until then, there will be plenty of discussion as to which characters deserve the feature film treatment, but more importantly there will be plenty of Marvel films to tide fans over.  Excelsior!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,