Wednesday, July 24, 2013

SDCC 2014

Karen: I'm sure most of you are aware that Comic-Con has come and gone. Of course, it's less about comics now and more about entertainment in general. There was quite a bit of news to come out of the show this last week, particularly on the movie side of things.We thought we'd share some of it (you've probably heard it before from one of the major geek outlets) and see if anyone had any thoughts they'd like to share.

  • There have been some pictures from the next X-Men film, which will be based (to some degree) on the classic 'Days of Future Past' storyline. We've seen headshots for some characters, which includes Bishop - his first time in a film - and a booth for Trask Industries which included the detached head of a Sentinel -- looks a bit small to me. From everything I've heard, it sounds like director Bryan Singer is throwing everything but the kitchen sink in this film. I'm both excited and concerned at the same time. If it's over-loaded with characters, will we still get enough time to really develop any of the key characters in the story? Or will it be another X-Men 3?

  • The makers of the upcoming new Godzilla film set up a 'Godzilla Experience' in a warehouse near the convention center. It included props from the Toho films and a bank of TVs showing different films. It also had a recreation of Tokyo under Big G attack, including overturned police cars and a noodle bar (!). But the best part was that at some point an alarm would sound and visitors were suddenly whisked into an elevator and taken upstairs, into an office, where they would see out the window (in reality a large screen) Big G appear and glare at them! It's the first look at the new Godzilla. Sounds like a clever gag for Godzilla fans to enjoy. Here's a shot of the big lizard, taken from the Ain't It Cool website.

  • The next DC film will be a big screen team-up of Superman and Batman. Director Zach Snyder announced at SDCC that the next Superman film would feature a meeting of the two heroes. Henry Cavill will return as Superman, and it sounds as  if most of his supporting cast will also reprise their roles. No actor has been named to play the Dark Knight yet. The film is scheduled to begin shooting in 2014, with a release date in 2015. That sounds like they are fast-tracking this. The DC team also unveiled a combined Superman-Batman insignia, much like the one seen recently in the Superman/Batman comics. Supposedly, a Flash film may also be in the works for 2016, with the long-awaited Justice League to follow in 2017. 
Karen:  This might be an interesting direction to go. They do need to do something different with Batman, to distinguish him from the Christopher Nolan films. Personally I'd like to see them get away from the all black  rubber suits and bring in the grey and black look. I'd also like to see a smart Batman. But I'm surprised that we're getting a Flash film but no Wonder Woman film. I read a snippet from another Warners exec (a woman exec this time) who said she felt that Wonder Woman's background was just too convoluted to easily bring to the big screen. That seems like an excuse. In any case, I'll be curious to see if they really get a JL movie together. Seems like the date keeps movie further out.

Doug:  I agree with all of the points you just made.  Having Superman and Batman get together in Superman's next film really necessitates a Batman reboot.  Unless, are they going to pick it up with "Robin" from The Dark Knight Rises stepping immediately into the mantle of the Bat?  I would think that fans would appreciate a film of his own to get used to Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the role.  Curiously, the logo above gives off more of a Milleresque "The Dark Knight Returns" vibe, doesn't it?  And Wonder Woman?  Either presentation of the character used on the 1970's TV show would work in a feature film (WWII or contemporary).  I don't know what DC is afraid of.  Overall, other than Cavill, do they have any talent locked into long-term contracts?  Because that's what has made the burgeoning Marvel Universe on film so attractive -- there's staying power among the Hollywood actors in the suits.

  • A real shocker came on Saturday night, when the Marvel Studios folks announced that the title of the next Avengers film would be - get this - "Avengers: Age of Ultron!"  Nothing more was said about the movie itself at the SDCC panel. But reports indicate they will not be basing the film on  the recent series by Bendis (gag). However, a source at (read it here) had Joss Whedon quoted as saying that Hank Pym would NOT be the creator of Ultron!  If he's not the creation of Hank Pym...well, I think I will be fairly unhappy. A big part of what makes Ultron such an effective enemy for the team is his oedipus complex and connections to the team. If he's just a smart, indestructible robot, I think that lowers the intensity of the conflict and uniqueness of the character quite a bit. What do you think? Now admittedly, this source could be wrong, so I guess we have to wait and see how it plays out. But if they're right...
  • In happier, less complicated news, Doug points out all the cool new Marvel Legends line from Hasbro, with a wide assortment of characters, including this wild looking new Tiger Shark! More pictures can be seen at I flipped through the gallery and I couldn't believe all the characters they have on display. I have to admit I didn't recognize some -I've been away from comics long enough that I haven't kept up with the changes!
Doug:  I also share all of your concerns about the Avengers film.  Where's Hank Pym, and how does this affect the upcoming Ant-Man film?  This seems like a "putting the cart before the horse" sort of situation.  And in regard to the Marvel Legends figures, I was very excited to see some of the characters -- Tiger Shark, Radioactive Man, and Batroc the Leaper... are you serious?  However, at current MSRPs of almost $20, I've long ago given up on this line.  And that's a shame, as they are now producing figures we could only have dreamed of as kids.  Bring back the days when I could go to Wal-Mart and find the Juggernaut for $7!


Comicsfan said...

I would imagine getting bogged down in Hank Pym's backstory with Ultron--or Hank Pym's backstory in general--would perhaps be too time-consuming for a film with a finite run time, and maybe even drag the story down a bit. Hank has a very involved, and somewhat convoluted, history in comics, which the film would have to no doubt cherry-pick its way through in order to establish the character for the audience. There's also the extra time involved to tie in Hank with the Avengers in some way. I think audiences are going to want to cut to the chase with Ultron. The whole Oedipus thing with Hank was built up over a considerable amount of time, taking shape over many Avengers stories--but condensing all of that into a scene or two in the film might come off as a bit silly. People are going to want to see Ultron fight the Avengers--not go into ravings about his "father," IMO.

Edo Bosnar said...

Comicsfan makes some good points, but it makes me think that Hank Pym should have been introduced earlier: in the first Avengers film or even in one of the Iron Man features. Because Ultron without Hank is kind of like peanut butter made without peanuts.

As for this new X-men film, I have no expectations whatsoever. Besides the outstanding casting choices for Prof. X and Magneto, I've found the whole motion picture X-franchise largely disappointing. The best one by far - even though I found it flawed as well - was First Class. Based on your description, this latest installment seems like more of that dark and broody stuff from the first three.

And yes, if there are plans to do a JLA film, they need to make Wonder Woman first. The only problem is, outside of Joss Whedon (who's probably contractually bound to do Marvels only), I don't think there's anyone else who could make a non-disastrous WW movie...

dbutler16 said...

The X-Men movie sounds potentially awful. Unless I'm convinced otherwise, I'll probably wait for that to come out on DVD.

Godzilla sounds cool, and the Batman/Superman team sounds awesome.

"Age of Ultron" is auspicious, and anything connected with Bendis would be, but I don't necessarily think it will have anything at all to do with the comics version of Age of Ultron. More likely, they were planning on having Ultron as the main bad guy anyway, and Age of Ultron is a cool sounding title, so they went with it. I'm cautiously optimistic, though I'm wondering how they work Thanos into that.

Humanbelly said...

I'll just quibble a tiny bit there, comicsfan-- Ultron's whole Oedipal issue was established pretty quickly after his first appearance. In issue #58, in fact, when Hank recounts his creation/rapid evolution, I think the phrase "Oedipal Complex" (or something similar) may have been used directly. It's certainly abundantly clear in that sequence, though.

Given all that, though-- you're still right that it's realistically too big and involved a storyline to insert into the abbreviated narrative necessary for a film. Especially in a franchise this crowded (and still growing). My guess? Ultron will be created by Tony rather than Hank, and Tony (and Pepper) will then inherit all of that dysfunctional-family baggage that comes with Ulty. Now why does Ultron go wrong in the first place? That would likely be the hand of Thanos, still avoiding direct involvement. Altering programming or causing some glitch that circumvents behavioral safeguards that Tony surely would have had in place. As much as I personally would love to see Hank, I can accept the reality that we can't have everything we like in any movie franchise, and I could happily buy into the above scenario instead (esp. given how strong Paltrow & Downey are in their respective roles).

Karen, GREAT job reporting as our "Girl On Location"-! Many thanks. Ah, it must have been a tough assignment for you. . .

Did you actually get into the dealer room at all? And say, were there any panels that you were able to attend, or do those things fill up ahead of time? Any remaining love at the event for us old-school aging boomers what gave birth to this phenomenon all those decades ago?? *sigh*


david_b said...

I could comment about the Ultron/Pym quasi-revelations announced, but I'm sure lots will change/develop so I'm not bothering.

Karen, great job reporting as well. What I'M most concerned with are the new Legend figures.. OK choices, but I'd really prefer a Swordsman, Mantis, perhaps a first-outfit Wonderman or green/brown first-outfit Falcon ("with the swinging chain, baby"..)

William said...

Concerning the next Avengers film, I believe I saw something where Wheden said that since the Ant-Man movie won't be coming out until after "Avengers: AoU", that it would have been too confusing and time consuming to introduce Hank Pym in Avengers 2. (It would take half the movie just to explain his backstory, etc.) So, instead it will be Tony Stark who "accidentally" creates Ultron instead of Hank Pym. That would be somewhat logical since Tony is a robotics expert, whereas Hank Pym is a bio-chemist. So, Ultron will still have a connection to the team.

Personally I think they should have done Thanos and waited to do Ultron in the 3rd installment.

Humanbelly said...

Oh wow! So I was thinking on track w/ Whedon & Co all by my lonesome! Man, I've gotta get into this movie-writin' business. . .


david_b said...

Actually...., I like the fact Thanos will not be the focus of A2. I'd like to see him in yet more brief cameos in the 2nd film, to build even more gusto to a 3rd film, perhaps in another trilogy-style of franchise storytelling..

Who knows what lurks in the mind of Whedon..? It wouldn't too be out of line with what he's done in the past.., having a still unclear, distant threat looming over a few chapters.

Anyone remember the 'blue hands' in 'Firefly'..?

Karen said...

Sorry to disappoint you guys, but I didn't go to SDCC this year. This was all just news we collected from off the net. I actually haven't gone for a few years now, due to a couple of factors:

1)All of the hotels, besides charging triple or more their usual rates, now charge your card upfront and there are NO refunds. That's right, if something happens and you are unable to go, you lose that $2500+ with no recourse! We simply couldn't roll those dice.

2) The ridiculous lottery system SDCC has installed makes it impossible to know if you will even be able to get tickets. SDCC has never had great computer systems -just ask anyone who has tried to book hotel rooms through them -and the ticket system is no better. We tried the first year they had it in place and could not get through. All tickets were sold in a matter of fifteen minutes, I believe. Someone's getting tickets but again, you have to get a room many months, perhaps almost a year ahead of the show to guarantee you'll have one, and then gamble you'll get tickets too? Forget it. Between all that and the never-ending lines, they've made it far less appealing than other vacation options.

I do enjoy hearing about all the news though. I still think Ultron without Pym is just a rampaging robot. And does everything in this film universe have to center on either SHIELD or Stark? I'm really getting tired of that. Hawkeye was a SHIELD agent, now it turns out Falcon will be too... it just seems to be creatively lacking.

Anonymous said...

Yes. Basically what others have said re: Ultron, Pym and Stark.

When it comes to movies, I don't need them to follow the comics (how could they?) I just need them to create cool stories and sequences with the iconic characters (even if it changes those characters some).

I have faith in Joss Whedon when it comes to this stuff (in just about everything but really diverse casting).

The Avengers was the first (only?) comic book based superhero movie of the current era that I liked unequivocally. (I put the original Superman in a different class). The first two X-Men movies were ok. . . but that's all. . . X-Men: First Class was terrible, so I don't have high hopes for Future Past (but did recently pick up the trade of those issues).

That Godzilla thing sounds cool, but another American remake of 'Zilla doesn't sound great to me.

As for the Superman/Batman thing. . . I am pretty sure it will be terrible.

Has anyone read this piece on not wanting a Wonder Woman movie? We Don’t Need No Stinking Wonder Woman Movie.

Edo Bosnar said...

Osvaldo, thanks for that link. Berlatsky always provides food for thought, even when I don't necessarily agree with him - which I don't in this case (although I concede that he makes some valid points). However, in a nutshell, I think he might be over-thinking it a bit and it really can be done, and even be good.

Doug said...

David B -

I agree with you on the Swordsman and Mantis; those would be figures I might consider buying, even at the higher price point. Speaking of Ultron, I am considering buying the new figure that has been released in the Iron Man line (at least I think that's what it's related to). It is so much better than Toy Biz's initial effort.

I wish I'd gotten the Super Skrull way back when, as well as complete build-a-figures of Annihilus and the Blob. Other than that I was just priced out of the market for Marvel Legends. But I am happy to see that they are back to producing this line, and with gusto!

And by the way - I won't be going to Wizardworld Chicago next month. It just doesn't work out for me timewise, and the expense of even walking in the door has gone through the roof. I had been looking forward to meeting you - maybe at some later date.


Edo Bosnar said...

Hey Doug, you (& Karen) should come to Zagreb's comic show in the fall. No admission fee, and we can meet for a beverage of your choice. My treat... :P

Doug said...

Edo -

If I had an extra two grand laying around, I might take you up on that!



Comicsfan said...

...instead it will be Tony Stark who "accidentally" creates Ultron instead of Hank Pym. That would be somewhat logical since Tony is a robotics expert, whereas Hank Pym is a bio-chemist.

You know, William, when you say it out loud like that, it makes perfect sense. For some reason, the contradiction of a bio-chemist taking the time and trouble to work on a robot never even occurred to me. On the other hand, it might explain how Hank screwed it up so badly. :)

Karen said...

Conventions in general are just becoming a real expense. When my husband and I ran the numbers a few years ago, we realized, that we were spending the same amount for a hotel room at San Diego for Comic Con (at grossly inflated prices mind you) for five days, as we were for ten days at Walt Disney World! It became a no-brainer at that point.

As for Wonder Woman -that article pointed out all of the bizarreness of her origin, but also pointed out how many times she's been recreated. I don't think the character is intrinsically bound to the whackadoo BDSM birthright any more. For the general public, women in particular, WW is a symbol of empowered womanhood. Heck, my officemate, who couldn't care less about comics, has a big picture of Lynda Carter as WW hanging on the wall. It's all about having those female role models, of which there are sadly still so few. So I think there's an audience out there just waiting for this character. they just have to do it right.

Doug said...

Comicsfan -

Hank's "Dr. Pym" phase always struck me as outside the bounds of what a typical biochemist might do...

For Stan and other writers, science must have been "one size fits all"!


Karen said...

" For some reason, the contradiction of a bio-chemist taking the time and trouble to work on a robot never even occurred to me. On the other hand, it might explain how Hank screwed it up so badly. :)"

I thought all those Marvel scientists types were polymaths, like the Professor on Gilligan's Island. Then again, that guy couldn't even fix a hole in a boat!

Anonymous said...

Isn't Vin Diesel playing Vision in the next Avengers movie? I'm assuming Vizh will be created by Ultron to infiltrate the Avengers, but with whose brain pattern? There's no Wonder Man in this franchise; maybe Hank Pym's brain pattern will be used for Vizh?

Mike W.

Mike said...

How a Batman/Superman movie should be made using the Man of Steel cast? Easy, first you ignore Frank Miller's work. Second, you make Bruce Wayne a well-reasoned, sane, self-made brilliant detective with incredible martial arts training and unlimited resources ... who can talk normal when he wears a mask. Third, you cast a relatively unknown actor in the Batman role who is roughly the same size as Henry Cavill. And lastly, just adapt this for the big screen: World's Finest.

Oh, and did I mention Batman should be sane???

That's how I think it should be done, yet based on experience I expect the exact opposite.

Doug said...

Does anyone need further proof that Karen and I generally think alike (see above)??

I think any non-gritty chances for Superman/Batman are slim. Cavill' s Supes had just enough of an edge on him to fend off any "Big Blue Boy Scout" image.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for that link, Mike!

I watched the whole thing. Kept waiting for them to do the classic, Superman and Batman exchange costumes to deal with kryptonite deal!

david_b said...

No worries, Doug. I'll be spending MOST of August either at Annual Training or heading to DC for a week of VA IT training at HP.

Yeah, I can count the cons I've been to throughout my life on one hand. Going to the Detroit Comic-Con last year (my first comic-con) was the closest I've been to one of those events, not to get much, but a chance to meet some celebrities like Peter Tork, Bill Mumy, Loni Anderson and Dawn Wells. The wife was kinda pushin' me to go to Chicago to grab a Stan Lee autograph instead of putting all the miles to go to Detroit, but I'm typically pretty frugal in most ways, instead I'd prefer saving up to spend a few hundred on a rare comic or my Legends Pym collection. It's like my marathon running... To me, 26 miles is 26 miles ~ I'm not going to spend $$$ for Chicago or Boston, I'd just do local marathons.

Since you mentioned the Legends Super-Skrull, I did for a time have the MIB two fig set with him and MarVell, but ended up selling it again. It's still a gorgeous boxset. I wish the Legends team would come out with a DECENT Bronze FF team, hopefully with a nice Medusa figure added.

Doc Savage said...

Living in San Diego, I find Comicon mainly a pain in the neck as the trolley and downtown streets become unusable for pretty much a whole week. Last time I went was in 2009 and the amount of actual "comic book" material was maybe 10%...I liked it better when comic books were the main focus and they were at the Civic Center, but geek culture is mainstream now so I can't really complain that folks now know what I'm talking about when I mention a super hero or some such thing. Plus people now accept that we can get women who look like Kaley Cuoco.

Anonymous said...

I've never been to a comic convention.

I prefer gaming conventions (Gen Con). More to do.

Teresa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Teresa said...

...instead it will be Tony Stark who "accidentally" creates Ultron instead of Hank Pym. That would be somewhat logical since Tony is a robotics expert, whereas Hank Pym is a bio-chemist.

A J.A.R.V.I.S. upgrade gone bad would be quick and not slow down the plot or weigh down the action.

Green Lantern had many faults. But the big two were: Too much backstory and it was boring. The latter is the ultimate comicbook movie sin.
I took my 8 yrs old nephew to the recent Spiderman reboot. He was bored. At one point he leaned over to me and asked "When is he going to be Spiderman?"

I've only been to gaming Conventions, no Comic conventions. And even that is only a recent endeavor. It is fun!

Humanbelly said...

Man, I haven't been to a local comic convention in. . .wow. . . over 20 years, right after we bought our first house. A local dealer had brought a fair/good copy of Avengers #1 that he was intent on selling me for $50. . . and. . . I. . . passed. . . it.. . up. (Although to be honest, we simply did not have $50 to spend at that point. Simple fact.)

However (and I may have mentioned this), HBSon and I attended the entire North American Discworld Convention in Baltimore a couple of weeks ago, and had just about the best time I can ever recall having. We fully embraced the whole convention experience, and arrived AND left in full costume. I thought, wow, THIS is why people enjoy fan conventions (although I suspect Discworld is its own singular phenomenon).


Anonymous said...

Sadly, I've never been to a comics convention up there in the USA, but we do have some rabid local fans down here in T & T who organized some micro-events (so small we can't even call them conventions!)and (gasp) even some cosplayers.

I think Karen illustrated an important point when she mentioned her officemate with the WW poster. In my opinion, the main problem of making a good Wonder Woman movie or TV series is that everyone associates Lynda Carter so closely with that iconic role. Mention a live action WW and I'll bet nearly everyone gets a mental image of Lynda Carter. It's not that WW has a complicated backstory (hell, the Avengers were created in response to the Norse God Loki's dealings!)- it's because the movie studios are having a hard time coming up with someone who can successfully fill Lynda Carter's star spangled boots or at least disassociate the character from her portrayal. Similarly with a Six Million Dollar Man remake - do you think anyone will even try to match Lee Majors in that role? Movie bosses have probably said to themselves, 'man, if we make these reboots they are gonna suck big time!'.

I haven't been following up too much on the history of the SDCC or cons in general, but it does seem that the branching out to movies/TV/games is a natural evolution from their comics only genesis. With the advent of the digital age, it's only natural you will get this type of diversification; purists might not like it but I think in a way it is a good thing because it will attract even more fans to the source material.

- Mike 'SDCC? Still don't even have an AC!' from Trinidad & Tobago.

J.A. Morris said...

I'm with Karen, let's see a Batman who looks like Batman, in gray & black.

And I agree that Ultron could be created by Stark or SHIELD without ruining the character.

I'm just really burned out on the "origin story" aspects of superhero movies. Do we need to see the backstory of Superman or Spider-Man?

Doc Savage said...

We might not, but little kids who have never read a comic book or seen a Superman or Spider-Man movie certainly do. We tend to forget these films are being made for a worldwide audience, not the 100,000 Americans who still read comic books.

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