Sony’s Bug Problem


And while spiders are arachnids, not bugs, bear with me and all come clear.

Spider-Man: Homecoming makes its North American debut today, and some pundits believe that it will ensnare an opening somewhere in the ballpark of $100 million.  If this bears out it would make the movie the fourth of 2017–joining Beauty and the Beast, Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 2 and Wonder Woman–to reach that milestone.

Though–at least at the moment–Sony only plans to work with Marvel Studios on Homecoming and its sequel, and that’s problematic not only for that reason, but because they’re also planning movies based on Venom, Silver Sable and the Black Cat, all outside the Marvel Cinematic Universe (known as the MCU).

This is a terrible idea because one of the reasons Spider-Man: Honecoming is projected to do as well as it is is because Spider-Man is returning to the MCU, which people are interested in seeing, while Sony’s upcoming movies will likely not have this version of Spider-Man, if any at all.

As I said, it’s a problem because you’re not only taking away the context that Venom currently exists in–which is the MCU–you’re potentially taking away the reason Venom himself exists (the symbiont originally chose to bond with Spider-Man.  Only when it was rejected by him did it turn its attentions to Eddie Brock).

So Venom (as well as Silver Sable, Black Cat and whichever other Spiderverse characters they intend to use) existing outside the MCU is problematic.

Though without Spider-Man?

That’s more than a problem; that’s a disaster for Sony.  For Marvel?

Not so much, especially when you take into account that while they never actually needed Spider-Man he’s back (albeit temporarily) and the MCU version has appeared in Captain America: Civil War and Spider-Man: Homecoming and with three movies on the way (Avengers: Infinity War, an untitled Avengers movie as well as a sequel to Homecoming).

If Sony were smart–or smarter, after all they did have the foresight to cut this deal with Marvel Studios–they would ensure that the Spiderverse remain in the MCU with a deal a similar to that that they reached with Spider-Man (which would probably have Marvel Studios getting a cut of the box office, perhaps in exchange for contributing to the costs of production).

It’s certainly worth a thought.

Marvel’s Inhumans – Official Trailer 1

I have to admit that I liked the first trailer for Marvel Television’s upcoming Inhumans a lot more than I thought I would.

That being said, that doesn’t mean that there weren’t a few problems. such as…

  1. Way too many guns.

Gun

The whole point of the Inhumans is that they have abilities that set them apart from regular humans (something another Marvel Television show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  understands quite well)

Here? Not so much.

      2. (Too) Obvious Fan Service

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The woman pictured is Crystal, and as you can see from the image below, she looks a lot like the version of her character from the comics.  The problem is that that hair is too faithful to the comics, and doesn’t translate to an actual person very well almost pulling me out of the drama, instead of immersing me (as it should).

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       3. Lockjaw is Glorious!

Though all is not lost because Lockjaw (which should have been the most difficult idea to get across) looks absolutely glorious!  Though admittedly he’s not seen for long (and the transporting effect isn’t that great) when he does turn up, so did my smile.

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New Inhumans Poster

On the left is the latest poster for Marvel Television/ABC’s upcoming series The Inhumans, and it’s…okay.

It does have a sense of drama (though Medusa’s hair continues to look terrible, mainly because if lacks the voluptuousness that it typically has in the comics, rendering it flat and lifeless).

That being said, I admit that the production has me–based on the admittedly limited information I possess–a bit concerned.

First off, Scott Buck (Dexter, Iron Fist) is the showrunner and while the latter series was much better than most critics have given it credit for, it also wasn’t as engaging as any of the other Marvel/Netflix series so far introduced (and felt to me like Buck knew little about the source material).

Another potential issue is one I’ve touched on before, which is how the characters (and in particular their costumes) look.

And trust me, I get why the producers likely chose to change how Black Bolt looked from the comics: while movies lately ar making these characters more comic-accurate I am not entirely sure that it would work as he’s traditionally pictured.

After all, he’s the king of his people, though nothing about his current costume says ‘royalty’ (though that’s perhaps not not quite fair, though it would need to be relayed to the audience somehow).

In fact, it just looks like–to someone who unfamiliar with him or doesn’t follow the comics–like any other superhero.

And that’s not a good thing when you have so much running on a series.

Valerian and the City of A Thousand Planets – ‘Space Is MAGIC’ – Trailer

Luc Besson is nothing if not ambitious and Valerian and the City of A Thousand Planets is his most ambitious feature yet, but I am concerned.

The movie, based on a French comic book written by Pierre Christin and illustrated by Jean-Claude Mézières, is likely unfamiliar to most Americans, which is likely why the director spends quite a bit of time in the trailer telling the viewer what it is they’re going to see, and what it’s  based on.

If I were promoting the movie in the United States I’d  bypass the origins of the characters–which domestic audiences are likely unaware –and instead concentrate on two things:

  • Spectacle

Valerian appears to be visually spectacular, as if Besson took the visual esthetic of The Fifth Element and combined it with Star Wars and Avatar.  Movies are all about diversion and this is an aspect that–in promotional materials–needs to be played up (it goes without saying that he movie itself will hopefully have a story that matches the visuals) even more than it is in this trailer.

Promise a visual experience like no other.  And sure, it’s likely not to be the case –I have seen few, if any, movies to actually live up to such hype–but it doesn’t stop movies from saying it, so Valerian might as well do the same.

  • Competition

Valerian cost somewhere between $170-200 million dollars to produce and while I expect it will perform strongest in Europe (where familiarity with the source material is likely greater) I wouldn’t discount it doing well in most international markets.

How well it does domestically depends upon when it is released, and perhaps more importantly, what it is released against.   It it performs (domestically) like Universal’s The Mummy, which had Wonder Woman to content with, then it had better do as well as that movie did internationally (despite not starring an actor with the international pull of a Tom Cruise) or there might be troubles for EuropaCorp (Besson’s production company, though the movie is released domestically via STX.).

Though if Valerian has a month or so alone (and there’s no Spider-Man: Homecoming waiting in ambush) competing with smaller releases it’s likely to do just fine.

Spider-Man: Homecoming – Trailer 3

Cutting an effective trailer is a strange mix of art and science and too much of either can ruin it.

And they’re more important than you think.

Part of what saved Suicide Squad was the  trailer, which (unfortunatel) made promises the movie itself didn’t quite live up to, was so well-received by movie goers.

By the same token, they can give away plot points that might better be left uNSAIDs (such as when Doomsday was revealed in the Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice trailer).

Though just so no one thinks I am picking on the DCEU, there was a scene from the first Avengers when the Hulk saves Iron Man, who’s falling after having ‘delivered’ a nuclear weapon to the Chtauri.

It wasn’t a spoiler but it did reveal a scene that would have been better served seen first in the context of the movie.

And speaking of ‘scenes that would have been better served seen first in the context of the movie’ the trailers for Marvel Studios/Sony Pictures Spider-Man: Homecoming haven’t crossed the line into spoiler territory, but they have revealed moments that would perhaps be better served by not beight first seen in the trailer.

Such as learning that Spidey’s uniform is filled to the gills with Stark-tech.


It doesn’t break the movie to learn this in advance–besides, hints were laid out in Captain  America: Civil War that this is not your father’s Spider-Man costume, so it wasn’t a huge reach.

THough it would have still been a pleasant surprise NOT to know about it ahead of time.

The Gifted – Trailer

The Gifted is the second series begat from the deal between Marvel Entertainment and Fox and it’s curiously conventional-looking, especially compared to Legion (the first series launched on sister channel, FX).

That aforementioned conventionality may have a lot to do with it being directed by Bryan Singer, who helmed many of the X-Men movies, and contributed to their inconsistent tone (in terms of how they appear in movies versus their counterparts in the comics).

Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Are Back for Season 5!

If there were an award for Most Improved Television Series, the likelihood is high that Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. would be a contender, if not the winner.  It started life not sure what it wanted to be, and seemed to survive primary on the strength of Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) who’s character had seemingly died in  2012’s The Avengers.

So, while it’s taken time to find its footing–arguably around the Second season–it’s developed into one of the best comicbook based series on television (seriously, if you haven’t watched since its first or second seasons you might want to give it a try because it’s really that good).

Though the bonus is that the series has been renewed for its fifth season!  Part of what aided in its renewal is the idea of story ‘pods’ by the producers, which is  a typical season consisting of three or four stories, as opposed to one or two,which has a curious effect of creating a faster-paced and much more enjoyable series.

Then there’s Ghost Rider (who arguably hasn’t been done better) and Inhumans.