It’s hard to wrap one’s head around the whole phenomenon of comic books and movies. Yet it appears they are here to stay. I remember interviewing Stan Lee in 1985, and it was a time when Marvel heroes had been forgotten. At one point we started talking about Peter Parker and Hulk and Reed Richards and you could tell from the enthusiasm in Lee’s voice that these were his children.
To paraphrase what I wrote last week in response to The Amazing Spider Man: Other than a few references in 60s polemic films like Jean-Luc Godard’s La Chinoise, the Marvel universe was best suited by 60s cartoons and became comatose with live-action television (The late 70s saw Spidey and Wonder Woman on the network airwaves.) and low budget films that never saw the light of day like Roger Corman’s 1994 version of The Fantastic Four. It’s imperative that films of this ilk have budgets that exceed imagination, after all look what happened when Fox made two Fantastic Four films in the last decade. Those were movies hampered by, while high by regular film standards, budgets that cheated on CGI and thus the realism of the fantasy.
With The Dark Knight Rises (part of the DC universe, but still from the Golden Age of comics, with the Marvel universe being from the 1956-and-on Silver Age) opening this week, and sure to be one of the year’s top attractions, and after last week’s geek convention known as Comic Con, it seems good enough timing to point out the release strategy for superhero movies over the next couple of years. Obviously with Dark Knight signaling the end of that franchise Warner Bros. re-launches Superman next summer, helmed by Watchman director Zack Snyder.
Meanwhile, Marvel has announced Ant-Man for 2014 with Edgar Wright at the helm. Captain America: The Winter Soldier opens in February of 2014. Iron Man 3 promises to be a game changer if only because it’s written and directed by Shane Black, one of the sharpest writers in Hollywood. Thor: The Dark World is set for November 2013. And Guardians of the Galaxy is set for August 2014. Not sure about the latter title but it does include an extraterrestrial that looks like a tree and an animal named Rocket Raccoon.
— Michael Bergeron