In geek movie franchises (scifi, fantasy or superhero), going back to the beginning to re-introduce a iconic character is virtually unavoidable nowadays. In Batman Begins (2005), Christopher Nolan (director/co-screenwriter) and David S Goyer (co-screenwriter) succeeded in re-vitalizing the Dark Knight after the critical failure of Batman & Robin (1997). This success was due to Nolan’s approach to portray Batman as realistically as possible (within the context of a superhero movie) and Nolan and Goyer would bring the franchise to greater heights with Dark Knight (2008) and Dark Knight Rises (2012).
It was therefore natural for Warner Bros and DC Comics to look to Nolan and Goyer to do the same for Superman. By all accounts, Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns (2006) was a massive flop and Warner Bros was keen to turn it all around for Superman with Man of Steel. Adding director Zack Snyder (300 and Watchmen) to the mix, Nolan and Goyer applied the Dark Knight approach to Superman.
And it works.
With nods to numerous scifi movies of the recent past (Matrix, Independence Day) and a healthy referencing of the first two Christopher Reeve Superman movies, Man of Steel is,without doubt, one of the best superhero movies ever made and provides a solid platform for Warner Bros to build up the DC Universe from its foundation.
So many high points – the brilliant cast, the thought-provoking themes, the appropriate flashback sequences, the astounding art direction, the sensational special effects and dynamic film score – but the best part of all was that Snyder, Nolan and Goyer chose not to pander to the comic book audience only but instilled a science-fictional tread that ran right through the well-written plot narrative.
Iron Man 2 was only half a movie, in my humble opinion. The first half was quick-paced and exhilarating but then the wheels came off and the movie came to a tired conclusion. The sequel did well at the box office but one sensed that director Jon Favreau had lost interested in the franchise that he had kickstarted. So when it came to talk about the third Iron Man movie, Favreau passed and Shane Black came onboard.
As regular PoP readers will be aware, I was less than impressed with the disaster that was X-Men Origins: Wolverine – it was simply a bad movie and totally wasted the opportunity to develop one of the most interesting Marvel characters. But of course, due to the movie’s immense success, a sequel was always going to be on the cards. According to reports, the James Mangold-helmed The Wolverine is based on the classic Wolverine mini-series by Chris Claremont and Frank Miller, which is set in Japan. Looking at the new poster (above), it’s clear that a strong Milleresque vibe has been assimilated to appease and excite comic book fans. To be honest, I have low expectations (I still believe that Hugh Jackman is totally wrong for Wolverine but that’s another story) but it’s wait and see for the time being…
2013 is on the horizon and the movie studios are letting us know that there is much to look forward to next year in terms of scifi and superhero movies. Here are a bunch of new trailers that have caught the eye and captured the imagination.
Well, it’s all over the interweb so it must be true. Disney will release Ant-Man on Nov 5th, 2015. Directed by Edgar Wright (Scott Pilgrim vs the World, Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz), the movie has been in development hell for the longest time and so this is exciting news indeed! However, considering that this release date is after that of Avengers 2 raises the important question of whether Ant-Man and Wasp will be in the Avengers sequel. I certainly hope so!
I was rather intrigued by the pilot of the Arrow TV series, based on DC Comic’s Green Arrow. It appears that the producers are intent on making the series as grim, gritty and realistic as possible whilst being true to the DC Universe in which Oliver Queen/Green Arrow inhabits. IGN revealed this exclusive first look at one of DC’s favorite villains- Deathstroke – and it’s encouraging to see the character’s mask accurately depicted as well. Very promising!
Batman Begins was – after the risible Batman Forever and Batman & Robin – a shot in the arm for the Batman movie franchise and the superhero film genre. Director Christopher Nolan together with writers Jonathan Nolan and David Goyer presented Batman in a more realistic and darker tone. Batman Begins was a critical and commercial success and paved the way for the even greater things to come.
When I arrived at Lido 5 ten minutes late due to some unnecessary administrative hassle, the film had just begun and whilst I was struggling to find my seat, I missed a scene between a very young Peter Parker and his father Richard. Great start! BUT once I settled down in my seat, the story of awkward, geeky teenager Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) began to unfold before my eyes. Very soon, his Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Field) were introduced, in addition to the gorgeous Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) and I bought it lock stock and barrel!!!
With each new trailer of The Dark Knight Rises, director Christopher Nolan has revealed more and more of his epic vision for this final chapter of the Dark Knight trilogy. This final (?) trailer is probably the best yet with enough reveals to send shivers down your spine but still with so much held back to keep one in eager anticipation of the power and glory to come. Certainly all bets are off on whether The Dark Knight Rises will be the best superhero movie ever… was there any doubt??
When I first heard that SONY Pictures had put a stop to developing Spider-Man 4 with director Sam Raimi and star Tobey Maguire and decided instead to reboot the franchise completely with The Amazing Spider-Man I was skeptical about the idea as it had only been a decade since Raimi’s Spider-Man and I thought that it was much too soon (as did many many other geeks).
Super is a low budget indie film that never got the same kind of attention that similar super-hero themed movie Kick-Ass got. The parallels are somewhat superficial – both movies are about ordinary folk who put on costumes to fight crime but they are stand-alone films in their own right. I loved Kick Ass (read my review) and as much as I wanted to like Super (it’s got Ellen Page!), it’s just too much of a narrative and conceptual mess to truly fully enjoy.
With the resounding box office success of The Avengers, the summer blockbuster season has gotten off to the perfect start. To date, the Joss Whedon-helmed superhero movie spectacular has already grossed over US$800 million worldwide and there appears no reason to suppose that it will not surpass the billion dollar mark.
With science-fiction and fantasy themed movies capturing the imagination of the movie-going public, let’s take stock of what is the come in the months ahead and let’s speculate upon how well (or poorly – remember John Carter?) they will be received.
Despite all the hype that has been surrounding The Avengers movie, I had this nagging suspicion that the movie just could not live up to the huge expectations being placed on it. The key issue was whether writer-director Joss Whedon could juggle the four main characters (viz. Iron Man, Hulk, Thor and Captain America) and supporting characters (viz. Black Widow, Hawkeye & Nick Fury) and provide a coherent narrative at the same time.
With all the hype surrounding Marvel’s Avengers, it’s easy to forget that Chris Nolan’s Dark Knight Rises opens in July and still remains one of the most hotly-anticipated films of 2012. A new trailer was released a few days ago and as trailers go, there’s not much slam bang action to go around but there are enough hints to suggest what will be transpire in this final installment of Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy.
Making a superhero movie is a fine balancing act. How to satisfy the comic book geeks without being incomprehensible to the general movie-going public? So far, I think The Dark Knight, Iron Man, Incredible Hulk and maybe Spider-Man 2, did a grand job in hitting that middle ground, the rest have been either too faithful to the comic book (Watchmen) or not faithful at all (the X-movies).
It’s been a long time since a second tier DC Comics character has been given a feature film adaptation and so much has been riding on this Green Lantern movie for Warners. With the recent successes of the Marvel film adaptations, Warners need a DC comic book movie hit. And despite the critical mauling that this movie has been universally receiving, I will stick out my neck to predict that Green Lantern will be a box office hit.
Well, considering that director Matthew Vaughn (Stardust, Kickass) signed on with X-Men: First Class only in May last year, it’s amazing that he has managed to put together probably the best X-Men movie so far in the franchise. In fact, I will be bold enough to declare that X-Men: First Class is probably the best superhero team movie ever! Not that that is a grand achievement in itself when you consider that the only real competitors (other than the first X-Men trilogy) are the two truly awful Fantastic Four flicks.
Of all the movies slated for release this summer blockbuster season, the one which seemed to lack the necessary geek credibility was Green Lantern, starring Ryan Reynolds. The first trailer did not help this perception as it played more like a comedy (think: Batman & Robin) than a dark epic superhero drama (think: The Dark Knight). But since then, Warners has taken great pains to address that imbalance with a second trailer which has certainly raised the expectations amongst the geek community.
With the movie release coming up very soon and perhaps concerned about public perception (non-geek), a third (and final) trailer has been released – narrated by GL Toma Re (as voiced by the excellent Geoffrey Rush), this trailer gives the requisite background into the GL universe so that neophytes may also understand what Green Lantern is all about. Take a look and you will be convinced that the Green Lantern movie will be a superhero action-adventure to look forward to.
This, for me, is the superhero movie of the summer, mainly because of what I have seen of Michael Fassbinder’s Magneto in the trailers. In addition, I am also putting a certain amount of faith in director Matthew Vaughn’s ability to make this work (but since his competition is the risible X-Men 3 and Wolverine movies, it will not be difficult).
Fox has issued four trailers focusing on the very subject matter of the film – the first class of mutants tutored by Professor X and Magneto viz. Banshee, Mystique, Beast and Havok. Whilst all look intriguing, it only serves to emphasize that the film deviates too much from the comic book to make it an absolute winner.
This is obviously an attempt to link this prequel with the X-Men trilogy in the eyes of movie-goers. Therefore, we get a Havok who is older than Cyclops, a different Angel, a young Banshee and a Mystique that was formerly an X-Man! Only the Beast remains from the original comic book team.
Of course, only geeks like me – who grew up loving the original X-Men – will be pissed off and bothered about this whilst watching the film.
The best compliment I can bestow upon Thor is that I was expecting more when it ended. The two-hour duration whizzed past so quickly that it actually felt short. Kudos to director Kenneth Branagh for bringing to life a comic book super-hero story that seems almost unfilmable.
Brilliantly interweaving two stories – one, in Asgard and the other on Midgard (i.e. Earth!) – Thor is delivered almost naturally for a movie that involves Norse deities. There’s not a single moment where you begin to feel that the concept is silly or corny – in line with other Marvel stories, the believability quotient is always high. No mean feat.
I read a lot of super-hero comic books growing up in the 60s and one of my favorite characters was the X-Man, Cyclops. You know, the guy who could shoot red laser beams from his eyes, functioned as team leader (in the absence of the crippled Professor X), hooked up with the only girl (Marvel Girl, natch aka Jean Grey) in the team and possessed all the qualities that I looked up to as a young pre-teen child.
Of course, in the subsequent years, Cyclops’ life got a whole lot more complicated and his character has been revised to such an unrecognizable extent (as with most comic book super-heroes) that I have lost all interest in him (and super-hero comic books in general).
CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER OFFICIAL TRAILER
This is already looking like an AMAZING year for superhero movies. Based on the trailers of Thor and X-Men: First Class, it appears that directors/producers are pulling out all the stops to make superhero movies work on every level – for the geek and casual movie-goer alike. Finally, Captain America is given a proper trailer and it looks like yet another winner. Every comic book geek knows Cap’s origin story and I am hoping that the promise shown here is fulfilled and justice is done to the vision of creators Joe Simon (now in his late 90s!) and Jack “King” Kirby (rest in peace). The movie opens on 22nd July.
Initial images have been released for the upcoming Matthew Vaughn-helmed X-flick (above). The picture shows the early X-Men in costumes resembling the original comic books (although why is Mystique part of the original X-Men is beyond me). Also prominent are Jennifer Jones’ Emma Frost and Kevin Bacon’s Sebastian Shaw (as the Hellfire Club plays a key role). At front of both “sides” are Magneto (Michael Fassbinder, left) and non-bald Prof X (James McAvoy, right). Is that the Beast or Nightcrawler lurking in the middle? Frankly, I am not looking forward to this at the moment. I will need to see the first trailer to allay my fears.