“The Priest & the Dragon: The October Incident: 1966 ” by Grant Morrison & Joe Quesada. | “The Miracleman Family: Seriously Miraculous” by Peter Milligan & Mike Allred.
Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?
Alan Moore’s re-invention of the superhero genre with Marvelman/Miracleman was for me, akin to the Sex Pistols/Punk’s impact on rock music. This legacy is self-evident from reading the Marvel reprints of the Miracleman collected editions, which has thankfully brought the iconoclastic material to a new audience. Read some background here.
So what does Marvel do, to cash in? This highly dubious Annual – which features a Grant Morrison Kid Miracleman tale originally rejected by Moore (justifiably as it turns out!) for publication in Warrior magazine back in the day and a pointless Miracleman Family adventure done in retro style.
With all the super-hero properties available to Disney Animation upon the acquisition of Marvel Comics, Disney opted for an obscure book titled Sunfire and Big Hero 6. The subsequent film adaptation is only loosely based on the comic, severing all links to the Marvel Universe – except for the utterly pointless Stan Lee cameo.
When you consider that the sequel to the vastly superior The Incredibles remains in limbo, one would have thought that Disney should have left super-heroes well alone. The result is predictable – very poor superhero tale that is high on sentimentality but light on plot.
That said, one cannot fault the character designs, the top notch animation and likeability of Baymax. However, the clunky narrative, the one-dimensional supporting characters and Baymax-size plot holes prevent Big Hero 6 from being taken seriously. Obviously aimed at young children, that is the only reasonable way of approaching this dumb flick.
In bygone days, it was common for superheroes to be placed in life threatening situations with readers being confident that the hero would somehow escape the clutches of death. But that concept was first challenged in X-Men #137 (1980) when Jean Grey (aka Marvel Girl/Phoenix) took her own life in order to protect the universe from the Phoenix force that possessed her. In an unforgettable sequence, Jean Grey paid the ultimate price in order to save the universe.
The Generation Gap! The stuff of endless arguments about who’s music was better etc etc etc. What about comic books? I personally believe that after the Marvel Age of the 60s with Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko and Stan Lee, the finest era of comic books is the Eighties, when writer Alan Moore was changing the industry.
Marvel’s Original Sin mini-series wrapped up with issue #8 and raised even more questions than providing definite answers to the questions raised earlier in the series. But then, that’s typical super-hero comic book fare, isn’t it? At its core was the mystery of the Watcher’s murder, which as it turns out was brought about by Midas and Nick Fury but not in the way first suspected. The hook of the series was the discovery of hidden secrets that once revealed would have a massive impact on the Marvel Universe (where have we heard this spiel before, erm?) and to a certain extent we did. Fury – now an old man, like Captain America – acted like the Men in Black, taking care of external threats to the Earth in clandestine manner and had to take appropriate action to keep the truth from coming out. At the very end, Fury is seemingly dead (or is he?) and Bucky Barnes takes over Fury’s mantle. Presumably, this will allow Fury’s son – an African-American – to be the de facto Nick Fury in the Marvel Universe? Yup, that’s about the sum of those 8 issues. And Deodato’s art design was cool. NEXT!
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY Directed by James Gunn. Starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper.
I must confess that when Marvel first announced a Guardians of the Galaxy movie, I was incredulous. How could they possibly make an obscure team operating in outer space work? However, from the moment I saw the first proper trailer, I just knew that GOTG might well be the best comic book movie ever. I loved the way James Gunn approached the movie – as a fun, light-hearted romp of epic proportions. Using classic pop songs also did not hurt its appeal as its soundtrack (eg. 10cc’s “I’m Not in Love”, The Raspberries’ “Go All the Way” and Rupert Holmes’ “Escape (The Pina Colada Song)).
X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST Directed by Bryan Singer. Starring Hugh Jackman, Jennifer Lawrence, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen and many more.
Well, for once, the hype was justified. X-Men: Days of Future Past is no doubt one of the biggest comic book movie adaptations ever, not only for its epic scope but also for its large cast of characters. Essentially a sequel to X-Men: First Class with the younger (1973) versions of Professor X, Magneto, Mystique and the Beast joined by the original X-Men movie characters i.e. Wolverine, Kitty Pryde, Iceman, Storm, Colossus and older versions of Professor X and Magneto.
Despite the potential challenges that such a large cast provides and rather distasteful previous outing for the original X-Men movie characters (i.e. X-Men: The Last Stand), director Singer not only averts disaster but delivers a widescreen heartfelt superhero film that erases the atrocity that was X-Men: The Last Stand and quite like the Star Trek reboots, wipes the slate clean so that the X-franchise can begin anew. No mean feat.
One gets the sense that Singer wanted to make things right after abandoning these characters for Superman Returns and allowing X-Men: The Last Stand to tarnish the reputation of our merry band of mutants. There are action sequences of awe and humor that need to be seen more than once (Quicksilver anyone?) but there are also intimate character moments where hearts are touched and tough decisions are made in the name of the greater good. Seen together with X-Men: First Class, there is a powerful emotional resonance amongst the characters that shines through.
The acting is of the highest order and that is to expected when you consider the calibre of the talent involved. Kudos to the 15,000 involved in this stellar production and one can now only wait with bated breath for the final installment in this particular trilogy – X-Men: Apocalypse. Don’t miss this.
X-Men: Days of Future Past is showing in the cinemas now.
CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER
(Directed by Anthony & James Russo. Starring Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Redford & Sebastian Stan)
Finally, a Phase 2 Marvel movie knocks one out of the park! Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World had not quite hit the heights of Avengers and thus it was left to Captain America: The Winter Soldier to deliver the goods.
To be honest, I was less than impressed when Marvel Studio first announced its intention to make a Guardians of the Galaxy movie. The original concept art that accompanied the press release (above) certainly did not help the cause. The main concern was Rocket Raccoon (an intelligent, anthropomorphic raccoon, who is an expert marksman and master tactician!) and the feeling that if the film-makers got Rocket wrong in making him believable, then that would destroy the movie’s credibility.
Of course, so far Marvel Studios have not failed to deliver with each of its films and in bringing in James Gunn (Slither, Super) to helm the first movie adaptation of Marvel’s outer space characters, it revealed an intention to tap into the director’s distinctive quirky style. And this is clearly evident from the first full trailer which presents a comic tone that works very well. I especially like the way that everyone makes fun of Star-Lord’s name.
And… Rocket looks awesome. Take a look!
Guardians of the Galaxy opens on 1st August. Starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bastita, Bradley Cooper & Vin Diesel.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 trailer is here and guess what? The movie looks like Spider-Man 3 – y’know three villains overkill. Mm. Hopefully, it will make more sense than Spider-Man 3 did. Note: that last sequence really looks like a video game. Ugh.
Funny how Thor (the mightiest Avenger) is probably the weakest and least interesting character amongst the stars of the Marvel Studio flicks. The first movie spent time introducing Thor and like most origin stories, the interest was kept at a respectfully high level most of the time with the key being the character development of Thor himself.
This is where the sequel falls flat. Once you understand that Thor is arrogant, brash and headstrong (and loves Jane Foster), there is nowhere else to go unless you spice things up and the writers of Thor: The Dark World fail to do that completely. Thor is utterly boring (despite Chris Hemsworth’s best efforts) and predictable – lacking any edge whatsoever. Thor’s flaws and weaknesses (evident in the first movie) are glossed over and somehow he becomes the least interesting character in his own movie.