The Roar Heard Around The World

Screenshot 2018-02-15 02.43.15Marvel Studios’ Black Panther is a bit of an anomaly less because it was written by two African-Americans, Ryan Coogler and Joe Ryan Cole, with a primarily African-American cast than taking those things into account the movie has been gifted a relatively large budget–for a Marvel Studios feature–of $200 million.

And that’s pretty convincing sign of Kevin Feige’s faith in the production, which has been borne out by the box office.

Domestically the movie has (so far) earned $235 million, while pulling in $169 million in international receipts, for a total or $404 million.

It should go without saying that’s pretty amazing opening, increasing the likelihood that this movie joins the Billion Dollar Club before its run is complete.

Next Black Panther will be released in Russia, Trinidad, Peru, Venezuela, Japan and China.

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Rob Liefeld is an Authority on Nothing (Beyond Himself and Some Very Bad Art)

Let’s be clear: Despite having originally ‘drawn’–we’ll get back to that in a moment–Deadpool Rob Liefeld is often treated as some sort of Deadpool authority and gets credit for creating the character, which leaves out entirely that he did so with Fabian Nicieza.

And truth be told I am not particularly fond of Nicieza as a writer (he did a run on Marvel Comics’ New Warriors that was simplistic to the point of being infantile on top of being borderline offensive) but to imply that Leifeld created Deadpool all by his lonesome is wrong.

And I emphasized ‘drawn’ deliberately because Liefeld’s art was less based on any sort of recognizable human anatomy than human anatomy via a Salvador Dali filter.

And it would be different if Liefeld were making some sort of ironic statement about the pliability, the changeableness of the human form.

But, nope, that’s just the way he drew people.

I recall hearing that Adolf Hitler got a lot of grief over how bad his paintings were, yet looking at how Liefield has literally built a career out of drawing badly, maybe Hitler deserves another look.

Here are two paintings by Hitler.


                                 Tree at a track, 1911

This is a pretty nice painting that shows a grasp of artistic technique as well as perspective.  It’s not quite my cup of tea (and I wonder if the actual painting is this dark or in need of a cleaning) but it’s not bad.

         Mother Mary with the Holy Child Jesus Christ, 1913

A Eurocentric treatment of the Virgin Mary and the Christ child.  It’s not a terrible–or even bad–painting.  The anatomy of both figures feels right (though Mary’s right hand is a bit iffy) and the face of the child is a bit too knowing–though that’s likely a choice of the artist than any deficit on heir part.

The layout of the picture is fine, as is the grasp of color as well as shadow and light.

Now here’s some work from Rob Liefeld.


Now granted, we’re talking about comic books as opposed to fine art but that doesn’t change that Liefeld  has, at best, a tenuous grasp of human anatomy.  For instance, look at Warchild’s MASSIVE chest!

And speaking of his chest, it looks like he’s thrusting it forward–which is odd because his arms appear to be on the same plane (which is frankly not possible with human anatomy).

And by the way, where’s his midsection?  His groin literally leads into the upper part of his abdomen.

And here’s why that’s worth mentioning.  Your abdomen is where your large and small intestines are (never mind your ribcage, among other structures and organs) so if you don’t have the space to hold them there’s no way you’re going to be as physically massive as this dude is because your intestines are important for processing nutrients as well as waste products.


Check out that lady’s lower back!  Her upper body is literally thrust so far forward that it’s literally broken (never mind not aligning with her buttocks and legs).

And how tall is Badrock anyway?  Because she’s either standing on a small hillock or mound or he’s somewhere in the ballpark of 15-20 feet tall (you can’t see his knees in the picture, yet you can see virtually all of her).

So yeah, I guess I’m just a bit salty that one of the worst artists in comic history is having a career renaissance of a sort.

Venom – Official Teaser Trailer

Screenshot 2018-02-08 01.31.48Have I mentioned I really hope Ruben Fleicher’s Venom fails?

Why so negative, you might ask?  Well, I’ll tell you.  Fleisher (Zombieland, Gangster Squad) is a competent director, so my issue isn’t with him.

And it’s certainly not with Tom Hardy, who appears to be an actor that willing to do his best for a role despite apprehensions to the contrary.

No, my problem is Sony, who’s creating their own little offramp of the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) using characters from the Spiderverse (Silver Sable, Black Cat, the Scorpion) though if that weren’t bad enough, they have to exist–as far as I am aware–apart from Spider-Man (who’s currently being managed by Marvel Studios).

That’s right!  We’re going to have a series of movies that revolve around characters that were introduced to readers vis Spider-Man’s comic, only without Spider-Man.

 

Deadpool, Meet Cable Trailer

Deadpool 2The latest trailer for Fox’s Deadpool 2 dropped a few hours ago, and it’s pretty funny.  As usual, Deadpool shows a wanton disregard for not only propriety, but the third wall, which he demolishes with aplomb.

And while I don’t think it’s necessary for this movie–or any superhero movie for that matter–to have an R rating, I do admit that I enjoy the way the Deadpool movies seem to revel in their R-ratedness.

Though the problem is that there’re likely a whole batch of movies –like Sony’s upcoming Venom–that will be R-rated less because the story requires it than they’re trying to imitate the success of movies like Deadpool and Logan.

So thanks, Mr. Pool.

Is Valiant Still Aligned with Sony?

Valiant LogoWith the preeminence of Marvel Studios and to a lesser extent, DC Films, people can perhaps be forgiven for forgetting that Marvel and DC aren’t the only players in town.

There’s Dark Horse (Time Cop) who’s rebooting Hellboy but there’s also Valiant Comics, which have been seemingly preparing to make a movie to feature films for awhile.

Valiant were aligned with Sony, though that was under prior management; now they’re under control of DMG Entertainment and it’s CEO, Dan Mintz.

This is a particularly relevant question, especially considering that Sony seems to be emphasizing Spider-Man (and other Spiderverse characters like Venom, Black Cat and Silver Sable) while they could perhaps be building a cinematic universe of their own, independent of Marvel Studios.

 

Black Widow Will Be A Huge Hit (If A Few Things Are Taken Into Account)

imageThe upcoming Black Widow movie has a lot going for it–2017’s Wonder Woman has proven that a female-led superhero movie can not only be profitable, but revered bay both critics and moviegoers alike–but that doesn’t mean that it should take some very significant advantages for granted.

First there’s Scarlett Johannson, who’s shown with 2014’s Lucy that a movie can be built around her successfully (it was essentially a ‘secret’ superhero movie in the same way Unbreakable and even 1980’s Altered States were, if you think about it).

Then there’s the fact that it’s coming from Marvel Studios, who seemingly don’t know how to make a bad movie

But pride comes before a fall, so to ensure that that doesn’t happen, here’s what the producers could do to minimize the odds.

  • Consider a Guest Appearance 

Johannson’s Black Widow is a great character, but imagine how jazzed fans would be to know Captain America or Hawkeye were going to show up (and I know, some contracts are expiring, but if Evans’ enthusiasm for the characer is any indicator he’d likely turn up in a heartbeat).

And speaking of costs, if you recall Avengers: Age of Ultron, there was a scene Black Widow and Hawkeye were talking about ‘Budapest’ and what happened there.  Now imagine a adventure featuring them both, taking place in the past and perhaps revolving around the organization known as A.I.M (Advanced Idea Mechanics, who were sort of teased in Iron Man 3).

It would be in the Winter Soldier vein, and could be very awesome and gritty. 

  • Control Costs

Part of the problem with DC Films–and Zach Snyder in particular–is that their movies are relatively expensive, compared to Marvel Studios, which is why they tend to make middling profits (by way of illustration, Justice League cost somewhere in the ballpark of $250 million before the Joss Whedon-helmed reshoots.  Having seen it I’m not entirely sure where that money went, but it wasn’t on screen).

And speaking of costs, during Avengers: Age of Ultron Black Widow and Hawkeye were reminiscing about ‘Budapest.’

Suppose Black Widow was the movie about that particular incident?  I have no idea what the actual movie will be about, but it would be pretty cool to see a Jason Bourne-type adventure featuring Black Widow and Hawkeye for no more than 80-$100 million?

Such a, relatively speaking, low-cost action movie would likely turn a profit in a week, if not days. 

  • Not to Belabor the Obvious, But Make an Entertaining Movie First

Black Widow’s movie needs to be entertaining in and of itself, instead of having a female lead be it’s primary draw.  If it becomes the latest feminist cause cèlébre it runs the risk of alienating a huge swath of their potential audience.

Now, the producers of the movie can embrace every one of the above steps and the movie still under performs, though I think that’s highly unlikely.

Black Widow vs the Double Standard of Women-Led Superhero Movies

Screenshot 2018-01-15 00.47.58It’s interesting that now Marvel Studios seems to be actively considering a movie based on Scarlett Johannson’s Black Widow (Iron Man 2, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Civil War, Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron) especially when you consider that the character should have had one long before Wonder Woman did.

That being said, there’s a bright side to Marvel Studios’ seeming hesitancy.

Namely movies with women as main characters are judged by a different standard than those featuring men (and that’s not even getting into differences in color, never mind sex) in that if a movie staring a man fails, all that means is that some other man, in some other movie, will pop up next.

While, if a female-led movie craps out, then there’s a very real possibility that Hollywood might not make any more movies featuring women as leads (in that particular genre) for a very long time.

For instance, if I recall the last superhero film featuring a woman prior to 2017’s Wonder Woman was Elektra twelve years ago.

So as much as some of us don’t want to admit it, there’s definitely a double standard, and movies featuring women don’t have the luxury of being half-baked, which is why they shouldn’t be rushed into production.