Archive March 2015
In the past few weeks, DC has been releasing major reveals from the small and big screen ventures. The Flash introduced time travel and it’s potential to wreak havoc. Arrow has established yet another hero in Atom and fleshing out the Suicide Squad. Not too mention continuous details on the Suicide Squad movie as well as character first looks from Dawn of Justice. There are also numerous DC TV shows in development set to roll out next year.
While this is all exciting, there is one character that has not been mentioned that I believe is crucial. That is the Question. The original Question was Vic Sage who after being beaten to the edge of his life, was taken to a Richard Dragon for healing and training. He learned philosophy and martial arts from Dragon and more or less returned to his city to fight the corruption as an investigative journalist. While other vigilantes went after the petty criminals, The Question went after the politicians and corrupt heads of the city.
What made The Question so great is that he was simple. He didn’t have a fortune to buy gadgets or superpowers to bust through walls. All he had was his natural innate skills. Eventually, since he is human after all, he develop lung cancer and sought to pass on his legacy. Enter Renee Montoya, who you might recognize as the Internal Affairs detective from Gotham. Question passes on his teachings and also helps Montoya reconcile her past. They travel to Nanda Parbat, you might recognize that from Arrow, where she trains and eventually buries Vic Sage. She then carries on the Question legacy.
Hopefully you can start to see how Question could fit into DC TV universe. Before we get into that, we have to go over one more bit of the story. During Montoya’s training, Question is trying to prevent Intergang from invading Gotham. Intergang is a global crime organization supported by the New Gods of Apokolips. Whose leader is Darkseid, the DC equivalent of Marvel’s Thanos. To put it simply, Intergang is an organization who dabbles in science, magic, and everything in between whose core beliefs are based upon the Crime Bible. Where the Bible says thou shalt not kill, the Crime Bible says thou shalt kill.
Intergang is big and powerful enough to affect the entire DC universe, and the Question takes them on. So here you have a criminal organization so big that it can stretch between both DC’s TV and movie universe. You also have yourself a hero that can introduce our heroes to this threat. Whether or not they introduce Vic Sage first or go straight with Renee Montoya, I really don’t care. Starting with Montoya would definitely add a bit of diversity to DC. As long as you keep Question’s background largely the same, regardless who wears the mask, they can easily fit into the universe DC is building.
One last side note, I haven’t included the new retconned comics history of Question. However, it could still be included.
Back around Christmas, Marvel fans were given the greatest gift of all. One fan compiled the necessary information to create a Marvel Super-Cut. This all came about when people realized that the phase one films (Iron Man through The Avengers) were all happening around each other and at the same time. Enter the folks over at The Comic Archive who posted two videos to showcase the actual time stamps in each film and how they fit together.
Of course, being the Marvel fan that I am I set out to make one. Luckily I had started my own phase 1 cut at about the same time this came out so I really just had to double check my own cuts. This last weekend, I finished the phase 2 super-cut (Iron Man 3 through Guardians of the Galaxy). After finishing both I realized something, Marvel has created a cohesive universe beyond just sharing characters.
When I was splicing these films together, my main worry was that the scene transitions wouldn’t work out. They were all made by different directors after all and could easily have their own distinct visual style. However, the only one that had any odd or difficult scene transitions was Iron Man 3. Even then, it was just a few slide transitions.
Basically, if you watch any Marvel movie it will have the same distinct style. Scene transitions, camera angles, shots, the whole shebang. Consciously, it doesn’t really mean much. However, on a subconscious level it makes a much bigger difference.
Let me put it this way. If you showed someone all of Quentin Tarantino’s films, who didn’t know who he was, what do think they would say? They would probably pick out all of the classic tropes in a Tarantino film. Long tracking shots, almost theater-like monologues, explosive violence, and Samuel L. Jackson. When you watch a Tarantino film, you recognize that it is a Tarantino film.
Tarantino would fall under the category of Auteur directors. Directors who have such a distinct style that they are seen as the chief author of a film. That the film itself is a direct representation of their creative vision. Other directors that would be included in this category are Akira Kurasawa, Wes Anderson, The Coen Brothers, and many more.
What Marvel has done has made themselves the Auteur director. By making sure each film is in line with their vision, they can differentiate themselves more distinctly from other super hero films. Plus, since they have a recognizable style I postulate that the audience can more easily be sucked into the film. The audience isn’t having to adjust to a new style.
This really just goes to show just how far Marvel is willing to go to keep and control their brand. It also may shed some light onto why Edgar Wright left Ant-man, a film he had been working on for at least a decade. As the article states, many directors have expressed criticisms on the way that Marvel deals with scripts. However, if they are keeping such a tight hold on the look of their films, it makes sense they would also hold onto the scripts just as fiercely.
As a fan of both of these groups, I was extremely bummed out to find out that Edgar Wright had dropped out. Particularly because his particular style would I believe be aptly suited for an Ant-man movie. Now that I have done these super-cuts however, I think I would side with Marvel. Edgar Wright’s style is very distinct. Utilizing lots of jump shots and other techniques to make full comedic use of the camera. Not just in a script but how he shoots the film.
That video above does a great job explaining it. Basically, Wright’s style allows him to inject visual comedy in any genre of film regardless of the script. Using these techniques, he could have brought the perfect platform for a comedian like Paul Rudd in a more serious setting like Marvel. However, his style would clash with the rest of Marvel. Now if from the beginning Marvel just gave directors a script and allowed them to express their style, I would side with Wright. Since Marvel hasn’t done this, it makes more sense to go with a director who can help shape the story while adopting Marvel’s style.
There is no right or wrong in this. There is just a difference of opinions. While a part of me still wants to see Edgar Wright’s Ant-man, after these super-cuts I would rather have a film that fits in the large universe. Only time will tell and July 17th is fast approaching.
Disney is doing something very interesting with their intellectual properties (IP). I don’t know if there is a strict plan in place nor do I know if this is an actual thing. However, it’s a pretty smart move if Disney is basing movies off their past films and attractions..
What it comes down to is mining their already pre-established IP’s. This idea comes in two parts. First, is their return to their classics, mostly their animated classics, to make live-action adaptations. Second is their exploration of their Disneyland attractions.
To start off with their live-action adaptations, the least interesting of the two, is actually a very smart business move. Hollywood seems to run on remakes and reboots these days. I mean, wouldn’t you want a piece of a potential $12 billion dollar pie? When you go looking into this subject you begin to find numerous articles explaining why it seems there is nothing new in Hollywood. That’s because a) it is a safe investment and b) we as an audience want more of the same.
This is why actors who do well get payed more, because studio execs know that we want to see them. Nothing wrong with that but it is the reason why we suddenly have 3-4 Chris Pratt movies to look forward to in the coming years. Movies and IP’s work the same way. When there is a character or story that is largely liked by the majority, why would someone make a movie starting from scratch. To be honest, I am okay with this. You want to do a new interesting take on Winnie the Pooh, then go for it! As long as it is it brings something new, like make Christopher Robin an evil genius who goes up against Calvin and Hobbes. Never gonna happen but this has actually made the rounds on the internet.
While we don’t get that movie, which is a crime, we instead get the Transformers. It makes all the money, but for the wrong reasons. It’s colorfulness and explodieness (totally a word, you don’t even have to look it up) combined with its goldmine level nostalgia is a deadly combination. However, they are all literally the same movie. You could randomly mix and match scenes from all three (oh right there was a fourth) and still come out with a movie that made just as much sense. A lot of this also has to do with international markets but that’s no what where here to discuss.
The point is, Paramount has an IP whose last two movies each made over a billion dollars. Why would they say “well I guess we made all the money and should move on to that Winnie the Pooh bounty hunter movie”. That’s just a bad business move. They will keep making those movies until they stop making money and they will simply keep repeating the formula. That right there is where the problem is.
Instead of each movie expanding on the universe, we instead keep getting the same plot over and over again. The bad robots go after a robot artifact, the good robots partner with the humans to stop them, explosions happen, the good robots win. Instead of maybe making the bad robots win, killing off characters in a meaningful way, or anything inventive they just add more explosions and fight scenes.
On the flip side we have the Spider-Man franchise. Now before all 2 of you read this, hi mom, and begin to shun me just hold on. Each franchise has brought a new look at the character. While each entry has not been the best, each franchise has taken a different approach. We saw with Tobey Maguire a Spider-Man who was painfully socially awkward who transitions into adulthood. We saw him struggle with being a hero while still trying to be normal. That idea of trying to embrace our gifts to become something extraordinary.
Andrew Garfield gave us a Spider-Man who was always a hero, but who never had the tools to do something more. With his powers gave him the motivation to do more and be more. Not only that but he had to deal with the very real consequences of fighting deranged villains. The people he loves get put into danger and often die. Each iteration had its clear differences in style, metaphor, and plot points. I think where it all went wrong is they tried to go bigger than deeper. It happened at different points but they just tried to copy to a formula.
This is where Disney can succeed with its live-action adaptations. It is their own personal nostalgia gold-mine that they can now introduce twists on the very tropes they created. The best example is Maleficent. Instead of the prince bestowing love’s true kiss on Aurora, it is Maleficent herself bestowing a mothers true love to wake her up. It’s these kinds of things that Disney can do that other studios can’t, simply because they have been establishing their own tropes since Snow White. Now we just need a live-action Dumbo. (I am aware that this is now a thing but at the time this was a novel idea I swear)
Now the other side to this is the fact that they have more than just their animated films to draw from. They have Disneyland and Disney World attractions to also use. This is where the true brilliance comes in. Essentially, they have pre-made worlds to create stories for. Pirates of the Caribbean is the obvious one to point out. A simple ride that has spawned a series worth over $4 billion dollars. That’s a pretty penny for a ride that lasts about 15 minutes.
They have all of these rides and attractions that are nostalgic across a larger demographic that they are pretty much a blank slate. This is why Tomorrowland is particularly exciting. Sci-fi has been on the rise these past few years and has been turning very dark and gritty. Tomorrowland can bring us back to when sci-fi was about looking towards a bright future. A refreshing return to a more light hearted sci-fi. This would also compliment the original intention behind Tomorrowland‘s creation.
While it may have taken a moment for Disney to get their feet on the ground, we’re looking at you Haunted Mansion, they may have found their stride. The key I believe with these attraction based movies, is to keep exploring the world. In my mind, that was the big problem with At World’s End. It was merely a continuation of the last film using similar elements rather than bringing anything new in. Sure we got Calypso, but her presence felt largely shoe horned in at the last minute. With Stranger Tides, we got Black Beard, Mermaids, and ships in a bottle. Way more interesting stuff that left us wanting to know more.
This is what Disney needs to do with their attraction movies. Have some overarching plot but instead of just escalating each movie with established concepts, introduce new one to explore the world. The one that could have huge potential is the upcoming Big Thunder Mountain Railroad TV show. With a comic coming out this month based on the idea, they could go in a lot of different directions. The old west is usually presented as a place that has a lot of mysteries. Inherent mysticism that seems to infest the open plains. Only time will tell how it will turn out though.
What I am trying to get across is that Disney finds itself in fairly unique position. When remakes and reboots are the bread and butter of Hollywood, Disney has it’s own IP’s to pull from. As long as they update them with modern themes and keep things fresh with each installment, Disney can’t really fail.
Alright, in case you missed it yesterday Marvel dropped their final trailer for Age Of Ultron. It was kind of big deal. Now to be honest, the majority of the new footage was, while different, a lot more of the same. We saw Hulk and Iron Man going at it. Everybody looking very disconcerted about things. Generally, more of the same. However, there were a few things that were new and kind of a big deal.
The highlight of this trailer was definitely Ultron’s speech throughout. The more we see and hear James Spader as Ultron the more awesome it gets. It seems pretty obvious that his performance is going to be the highlight of Age Of Ultron. What was also confirmed is that it is indeed Tony Stark who creates Ultron. Until now, it had been only rumored that this would be the case. There was a leak a few months back that revealed this little tidbit. Now it has been confirmed.
The second highlight is at the very end. We finally get our first look at Vision. In the comics, he was created by Ultron to show that by creating life, he now surpassed humanity. That same leak from earlier also shed some light on Vision. It seems, he will be a creation of Tony Stark and Bruce Banner. Frankly this doesn’t change a whole lot. However, I do hope there is still a connection between Ultron and his original comic creator Hank Pym.
Literally, just a passing mention would be enough. Something along the lines of him being a consultant. Like how Dr. Strange was mentioned in Captain America: Winter Soldier. This also wouldn’t be just to make the fans happy. It would help to give Ant-Man, coming out in July, a little more relevancy.
What I also found interesting in the new trailer is a scene where Tony Stark picks up Loki’s staff which contains the Mind Infinity Stone. Now, it has been said numerous times that Age of Ultron will lay the ground work for Civil War. A quick refresh, the basic conflict of Civil War in the comics is a push to get the superhuman community in check by registering everyone. The movie version will most likely be a little different. Now, this is pure speculation based off just a few seconds of film. What if when playing around with Loki’s Staff, Tony sees Thanos. He sees it and recognizes the threat which ultimately pushes him towards trying to unify the worlds heroes.
Again, pure speculation but maybe because of this intense fear of what’s coming he pushes to hard. Captain America will not like this and he will, well, push back. It would make the whole situation much more complex. Not only that but it also supports another theory that popped in the wake of this trailer. The yellow spot on Vision’s forehead is another Infinity stone, the soul stone. This isn’t how it is in the comics and is again a theory based on just a few seconds of footage. However, if Tony gets some insight from the Mind stone, he could get a glimpse at the Soul stone. He then uses the stone to create Vision as an AI with more of a conscience. The yellow spot could also just be his solar charging spot like in the comics. It being a Infinity stone is unlikely but makes for a pretty interesting theory nonetheless.
Now let’s take a second and gossip about Bruce and Natasha. Their budding romance has been rumored/hinted at throughout the build up of the film. The actual nature of it was largely up in the air. It does seem pretty clear at this point. Something is going on and it makes me feel the feels. It also feels very natural when you think about it. Going back to The Avengers, these two do share more than a few very intense moments. I could see how this could work. What we are seeing could also be just a mind trick by Scarlet Witch. Which brings me to my next point.
We finally see the twins actually doing things. Quicksilver punches Captain America right in the face and I’m sure we can expect many, many more punches to the face. We also saw Scarlet Witch using her mind tricks on Natasha. The budding romance we see between Bruce and Natasha could be a result of this. After all, Ultron says that they can tear them apart from the inside out. Messing not only with their minds but feelings as well is a pretty powerful combination.
Now the last thing that I want to talk about is death. Since the first few details have emerged, Joss Whedon has teased death. Age of Ultron is continually paraded as a dark film. The Avengers brought us to an unprecedented high, Age of Ultron will take us to an unprecedented low. My guess for who is going to die, is Captain America. Now I know what you’re thinking, what about Civil War? Well, you see in the comics Tony Stark and Reed Richards cloned Thor at one point. This was a huge turning point which showcased their hubris. What if the film sees the death of Captain America and in Civil War we see Tony Stark clone Cap for his own cause.
This seems like a pretty far flung theory but if you take into account Tony getting a glimpse from the Mind stone, it could make sense. Cap dies and seeing an opportunity, Tony tries cloning him. It results in some messed up version of Cap. We would see Natasha, Coulson, Winter Soldier, and Falcon leading the charge against this injustice. Tony could also openly admit that it is a clone but sells it as his new idea for a unified earth force. After all, a lot of problems can be solved with an army of super soldiers.
Beyond Cap dying, I would have to place my money on Bruce Banner/Hulk. Yes very hard to kill, but he is a fan favorite. Killing him off would have a powerful affect on the audience. It could also be used as a sign of just how powerful Ultron is. I still like Cap for the death but its still really anyone’s guess if anybody is going to die.
Well there you have it. With a little under two months, all our questions will be replaced by new ones and we will see just where Kevin Feige is taking us on this wild ride.