*Please note that this article is an opinion-editorial.
It was announced yesterday that Sony’s upcoming release of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is going to contain a Marvel Studios-like post-credits scene. I know what you’re thinking, so did the first film in this new, rights-retaining, rebooted series. But, that scene was a tease of sorts for where the first film’s sequel would go, something to do with Norman Osborne on his death bed. The reason TASM 2’s post-credits scene is getting attention is because it will tease the newX-Men movie, Days of Future Past. I think it’s a bit weird that we’d get a teaser scene for a film that’s coming out only a mere 3 weeks after Spider-Man, but it is significant because these are two separate films being produced by two separate studios. Of course, Marvel has been doing this for years with its nine self-produced films at this point. (The most recent gave us a glimpse of Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver in next year’s Avengers: Age of Ultron.) But, the Marvel movies are just teasing each other; they’ve never tried to plug one of the movies another studio is producing from a rights deal that predates Marvel’s decision to make their own films. This is a precedent-setting, inter-studio deal, and it gave me a really great idea.
Marvel needs to explore a similar deal with Sony and Fox.
Throughout their history, it’s not been uncommon for comic books to jump into significant social commentary. For example, 70 years ago, Superman fought Adolph Hitler (not much of a fight really), and in the 1960s the mutants of the X-Men were a not-very-thin allegory for the burgeoning Civil Rights Movement. Dr. Doom’s homeland of Latveria was a fictional stand-in for any of the Soviet satellite countries during the Cold War. So, it will be interesting to see how general audiences respond to the social commentary that abounds in the terrific sequel Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
MINOR SPOILERS BELOW
*Please note that this article is an opinion-editorial.
I don’t know how many people caught it, but a couple of weeks ago Tom Selleck was a guest on the David Letterman show. He was there to promote his CBS series Blue Bloods, but the conversation eventually turned to a role Selleck had been offered but had to eventually turn down. I’m not sure how many people know this, but about 35 years ago, Selleck was cast by Geroge Lucas and Steven Spielberg to play a college professor who moonlighted as an archeologist named Henry “Indiana” Jones. The problem was Selleck had a prior commitment to a TV pilot he had starred in called Magnum, P.I. He couldn’t do both roles because of his contract with CBS, so he had to turn down playing Indy in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Of course, Magnum went on to be a massive hit for CBS, so we shouldn’t feel too badly for Tom Selleck. He more than landed on his feet.
I think it may have been after I saw WALL*E, but I had this great idea that Pixar was doing so much great animated work that they should just option a great script and animate it. At the time, I was thinking that it kind of marginalizes the art form for it to just be associated with kids or family movies. Why do animated films have to deal with dancing flatware or singing animals? WALL*E could just as easily have been a live-action film. Both he and Eve could have been animatronic. WALL*E himself bears a pretty striking resemblance to live action Number 5 from the '80s robot with self-awareness movie Short Circuit. (If you’ve never seen Short Circuit, Number 5 is like a friendlier version of SkyNet.) There are plenty of morbidly obese people running around America (I say “running” figuratively, by the way.) to populate the space ship. Jeff Garlin could just as easily been a live-action actor in it. Hell, the President actually is live action in it.
Love is in the air at Fanboy Comics! In this magical month of romance and enchantment, the FBC Staff and Contributors decided to take a moment to stop and smell the roses. In the week leading up to Valentine's Day, a few members of the Fanboy Comics crew will be sharing their very personal "Love Letters" with our readers, addressed to the ones that they adore the most.
Dear Megan Ellison,
I’m a big fan of the old school, classic version of TV’s Law and Order. The Special Victims Unit version is way too lurid for me (There are only so many child rapes a person can stomach.) but watching the old Law and Order is the TV equivalent of eating potato chips, particularly the Jerry Orbach years. I especially love any episode where the perp was some obnoxious, entitled rich kid from the Upper West Side whose sniveling parents were using their great wealth to help their kid avoid jail. Of course, Sam Waterston was having none of that. It was a revenge fantasy for the Ninety-Nine Percenters long before Occupy Wall Street.
It was just announced yesterday that 20th Century Fox has staked out a release date for the third of their new Planet of the Apes movies. The second film won’t be out for another seven months, but the next film will come to us in July of 2016. This is where the film industry is at today. The studios are doing everything they can to find a film franchise that they can milk for sequels until it’s time for the inevitable reboot. Books are skimmed to find the new Hunger Games while board games (Battleship) and toy lines (The LEGO Movie) are in play to find a property that can sustain at least a trilogy of movies. They are so terrified of (or have no access to) original story ideas that they’re now going into their back catalogs to regenerate obsolete series from the past. Sony is bringing Robocop back to life in the next few weeks, and as dreadful as that thing looks, the studios feel it’s easier to sell the public a title they already know than try to sell them something original.
Movie fans are super stoked about 2015, which could go down as one of the great movie years of all time. You’ve got The Avengers: Age of Ultron. You’ve got the long in gestation Mad Max: Fury Road. You’ve got Sam Mendes back directing the 24th James Bond adventure. You’ve got Superman vs. Batman, or whatever they wind up calling it. There’s Brad Bird’s Tomorrowland, the dinosaurs of Jurassic World, Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four reboot, Pixar’s Inside Out, the Terminator reboot, Edgar Wright’s Ant Man with Paul Rudd poised to be the new Robert Downey, Jr., The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2, Neil Blomkamp’s new sci-fi movie Chappie, and Mission: Impossible 5. Rounding out the year may be the most anticipated movie in at least a decade or more, a little something called Star Wars: Episode VII.
The only downside to all this is we have to trudge through 2014 to get there.
I watch a lot of programming on the Bloomberg financial channel at my job, and one of the things they’ve been discussing quite a lot lately is the wealth disparity currently in the United States. Five years after the Great Recession, Wall Street seems to have come screaming back to life while wages for middle class workers continue to either go down or rise at a rate far below the standard of living increases. We no longer live in a manufacturing economy and the U.S. doesn’t really make anything anymore, yet Wall Street is making record profits. Pope Francis recently compared unfettered supply side economics to tyranny.
F. Scott Fitzgerald famously stated that there were no second acts in American life. He was wrong about that, of course. Just look at Steve Jobs or Ben Affleck. Two of our more celebrated fictional characters of the moment, Don Draper and Walter White, are all about new beginnings and taking on a new identity. Elsewhere on TV, so-called reality shows give us hyped-up versions of supposedly actual people. Our comic book heroes almost always have a secret identity. Hell, identity theft is a huge concern in modern law enforcement circles. Everybody wants to be somebody else, and, as a resident of Los Angeles County, I can vouch for the city as a natural habitat for deluded people wanting a change of identity garments. American culture itself is largely based on the idea that you can be anybody you want in this country, regardless of whether or not that conforms with reality.
I wish Ben Stiller directed more.
I’m a big fan of his last effort, the great Hollywood satire Tropic Thunder. You don’t grow up with the comedy genes Stiller possesses (His mom is Anne Meara, and his dad is Frank Costanza.) without learning a thing or two, and Tropic Thunder is a masterpiece of comic tone. Think about it, that movie has three (Three!) elements that, in lesser hands, could have been horribly offensive. You’ve got Robert Downey Jr. slathered in blackface. You’ve got Stiller himself playing the mother of all mentally challenged characters, Simple Jack. And, you’ve got a villain in the form of a small child who is also a ruthless drug lord. Could you imagine the horror of Michael Bay’s Tropic Thunder?