Jul 16, 2012

Not at Comic-Con 2012: Movie Announcements

Guardians of the Galaxy, slated for an August 1, 2014 release date, concept art.
It is no secret that Comic-Con has been invaded by Hollywood over the past few years, and honestly, when The Avengers is the third highest grossing movie of all time (as of this writing), it is no secret as to why. There is magic to be harnessed from the comic industry to be forged into something huge that transcends both mediums. Of course there is always talk that the comic-to-movie adaption market is on the down turn, but that isn't stopping the giants known as Warner Brothers, the parent company for DC Comics, and Marvel Studios.

The image above is for a new movie series based off of Guardians of the Galaxy, which is a more cosmic take on the Marvel Universe. This is honestly a huge risk for Marvel, simply because most of the success from recent comic adaptions to film have been because they have been solidly grounded to reality, yet when you have two alien assassins on the team, a giant treant like creature who only knows three words and a gun-crazy talking raccoon all lead by a single human... it seems a bit out there. However, with all that on the table, I am thrilled to see where Marvel is going to take this. This is a studio that could pretty much get away with anything after the success of The Avengers so to see them take a risk like this has colored me interested.

The Mark VIII armor for Iron Man 3
Of course Marvel Studios isn't just taking risks. They are by and large playing it really safe with predictable, and most likely profitable, forays into sequel territory. Of course right now Marvel is about half way done with principle photography on Iron Man 3, and that is going to generate revenue for Marvel for sure, that is no question. What I am concerned about is what I call "The rule of trilogies". The rule is simple. By the time the third movie comes knocking in a given series all the creative juices have been used up and everyone is just there to collect a pay check. Now, I haven't seen any of the footage myself, but I am hoping that with The Avengers that Tony Stark uses that as a reason to buck this trend. The only trilogy I can think of that wasn't a complete let down by the end would be the Toy Story series*. The new armor Tony Stark will be using was revealed at Comic-Con as well. Initially I was turned off by the odd coloring choice, but the more I see it the more I like it. It isn't the bright gold that was used in the previous movies and the off coloring gives it its own personality. I cannot wait to see it in motion.

Marvel is also continuing the Thor and Captain America line of movies as well, and they are making a very smart decision with them as well. They are ditching the numbering scheme for sequels. Because there are no numbers attached to the titles of the film I feel that this will give the creative teams more freedom to tell the story they envision. This also presents a mess for continuity, because with the subtitle naming style they aren't restricted to having the films take place in sequential order continuity wise. While I typically adhere to rules that will keep the continuity firm and in place, this allows the films to go in a ton of different directions, even after the torch is passed from one lead actor to another. I envision this as a way to step into Bond like territory where you are still telling a James Bond story, but you have a different lead playing Bond every four or so movies. This is an increased concern of mine with Robert Downey Jr., simply because I want him in a Civil War movie before he decides to pass on the mantle of the Iron Avenger.

Logo of the new title for Captain America 2
But that is neither here nor their. The next Captain America film will be titled Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which frustrates me story wise, but I understand why this decision was made. One of my constant gripes about the on going Captain America comics is that they always try to tie Steve Rogers back to his World War 2 roots. While that is all fine and dandy every once in a while it gets really repetitive when it is happening every single arc. The tale of the Winter Soldier is one of the very few tales that allows a balance between modern Captain America and the World War 2 origins. For those not in the loop comic wise, the Winter Soldier is a brainwashed ruthless Russian killer with a robotic arm and eyes on killing Cap himself. It actually turns out the Winter Soldier is none other than Steve's best friend forever, Bucky Barnes. Cue the dramatic music! Can Steve fight his best friend without feeling guilty? Does Bucky hunt Cap out of spite? Fun fact: In the comic continuity when Captain America dies after Civil War, Bucky Barnes dons the red white and blue and takes up the shield himself.

Logo of the new title for Thor 2
The new title for Thor 2, Thor: The Dark World, is a lot harder to decipher plot wise. We do know that Thor is grounded in Norse myth pretty heavily and that could leave three possible destinations for our hammer wielding hero. In Thor we saw Asgard, Midgar, and Jotunheim. That leaves six more realms to explore, and some of them ooze with hints of darkness. First up is the realm of Hel, not to be confused with the Christian mythos Hell, which is pretty much the realm of death for dishonorable spirits. Lots of ghouls and undead looking creatures for Thor to slam Mjolnir into. The next location that could be explored would be Muspelheim, the home of demons. This realm traditionally portrayed as being closer to the Christian version of Hell with lots of fire and brimstone. Finally we have the realm of the dark elves themselves, Svartalfheim. I am personally hoping for a jaunt into Hel, but will be satisfied with anything really, as long as I get to see Thor lay the smack down and Loki swindle his way through sticky situations.

Comic-Con 2012 poster for The Man
of Steel
Finally we have the only feature film adaptation that Warner Brothers and DC Comics are working on, The Man of Steel. The few pictures the unlucky few of us not in attendance of Comic-Con have seen show a Superman that is darker and dirtier than the pristine condition he is usually kept in, obviously showing influence from Nolan's fantastic Batman series. That being said I am very skeptical of this venture. The director is Scott Synder, so I am sure I will love it, but I don't matter in the grand scheme of things. It is a comic book movie and I am a comic book reader, I am a promised sell. Scott Synder's other films have always been a hit or miss with the general public, and after the sad attempt of a film that was Green Lantern, DC needs to blow Man of Steel out of the park to show that it can keep up with the two-movies a year Marvel Studios. What DC really needs to do for this film is dial back on the god aspect of Superman and focus on his struggle with being accepted by humanity as the last son of Krypton. We all know that somewhere in the bowels of Warner Brothers they are looking at doing a Justice League movie, and in order to pull that off they need a strong Batman presence and then a even stronger presence for Superman, whose popularity has been fluid recently.

I would really like to see every single one of these films succeed, particularly Man of Steel and Guardians of the Galaxy, because honestly the more comic book movies that get made, be them DC or Marvel properties, there is only one true winner, and that is us: the fans.

*I don't consider Lord of the Rings a trilogy, simply because the Hobbit should be included as well.