Gunn’s World

It’s James Gunn’s world, we just happen to live in it.

Reason being, reviews of Guardians Of The Galaxy, Vol. 2 have begun to filter in, and they’re pretty good.

Though what’s interesting is that they’re not ALL that way, yet there’s not been a peep from either Marvel or Disney as a result.

This to me says that they have faith in the movie, which bodes well.

Another fortuitous sign is that James Gunn is returning to write and direct Guardians Of The Galaxy, Vol. 3 which is sign that not only does Marvel Studios want him to return, but perhaps more importantly HE wants to return.

Kevin Feige also mentioned in a interview that Gunn could perhaps play a greater role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, shepherding the ‘Cosmic’ side of things.

So, apparently it’s not only Gunn’s world, it’s Gunn’s universe as well!

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There’s No Anti-Venom For Dumb

According to The Wrap Sony is releasing a movie based on Venom–last seen in Sam Raimi’s 2007’s Spider-Man 3, which I will return to shortly–October 5th of 2018.

The ‘dumb’ is that this version of Venom will apparently  exist independently of Marvel Studios’ upcoming Spider-Man: Homecoming which is a bit odd since Venom was introduced in Spider-Man’s comic, so to not have these two characters interact with each other is a bit odd.

Now, let’s go back to Sam Raimi and Spider-Man 3.

Supposedly, he was so pissed with Avi Arad–a producer of the upcoming Venom movie with Matt Tolmack–for forcing him to put Venom in Spider-Man 3 that he hired Topher Grace to play the symbiont’s host (the implication being that that was the opposite of what Arad wanted).

And it leaked out, if I recall during the hack that put all of Sony’s business out for everyone to see, that Marvel Studios taking the reigns of the Spider-Man franchise was conditional on Avi Arad NOT being involved (it wasn’t the only condition, but it was an important one).

So now Sony is putting Venom–a character that exists in the Spider-Man universe–in the hands of Avi Arad; the guy responsible for overstuffing Spider-Man 3, and whom irritated  Kevin Feige (who appears to be a very easy-going guy) so much that Marvel Studios riding in and essentially saving Sony’s bacon was conditional on him not being involved.

Yeah, this is going to work out just fine.

The Moon (Knight) Rises?

The idea that James Gunn (Slither, Guardians of the Galaxy) is particularly fond of Moon Knight is really great news because I can think of nothing better than seeing the Fist of Khonshu on the big screen.

But the hurdles for that happening are two-fold.  First Gunn is occupied working on Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, so he doesn’t have time to direct.  

The second issue is that Marvel Studios’ production slate is booked so far in advance that even if Gunn were ready to go tomorrow there’s no guarantee that they could fit it into their schedule (according to Screenrant their production slate is filled all the way to 2028).

And that’s working on the assumption that Kevin Feige even thought it was a good idea.

But there’s a way to make it happen.  Instead of directing, what if Gunn wrote a treatment that could be ready for shooting but more than likely would form the basis of the movie that others could build on.

Then Marvel Studios would create a new imprint, in the vein of Marvel Knights, that would handle more adult-orientated characters that might warrant an R-rating (and Kevin Feige has said that he didn’t want to create R-rated movies.  This way he technically wouldn’t have to though more importantly the characters would remain faithful to the versions that their fans have come to expect).    

An important aspect of this strategy would be production budgets falling somewhere in the ballpark of $50-80 million because, while no one wants a movie to fail, if it weren’t able to meet expectations losing somewhere in the ballpark of $80 million is small change compared to the production budgets of most superhero movies today.  

You Need Faith For That To Work, Mr. Vincent!

Screenshot 2016-07-24 00.45.09That’s paraphrasing vampire Jerry Dandridge (Chris Sarandon) to Peter Vincent (Roddy McDowall) from Tom Holland’s 1985 Fright Night, though it fits what I think I’m seeing from Marvel Studios’ upcoming Doctor Strange.

It feels almost as if Kevin Feige (or his bosses at Disney, maybe) has a bit less faith in it than in prior projects.

And keep in mind that this is the studio that created hits based on a guy who can shrink to the size of an ant and another which had at its heart (and as its heart) a talking tree and a raccoon.

And if that wasn’t enough there’s director Scott Derrickson’s proven record of success, though probably the biggest thing he tackled prior was 2008’s The Day The Earth Stood Still.

Which did well, though not remarkably so, at the box office.

There’s no other way that I can explain the 15-minute preview Marvel Studios has  released in theaters that showcases the (hopefully) unique visuals that the movie has to offer.

In a character like Doctor Strange the visuals are a HUGE part of what makes him who he is, so much so that you literally cannot divorce him from them; so revealing them too early potentially spoils–or at the least undermines–an important aspect of the movie.

And I could be wrong–after all, I haven’t seen it–but I’d think that the less the audience sees of the prior to seeing the movie, the better.

What’s So Strange About A Little Less Doctor Strange?

Reading my blog, you’ve probably noticed that there’s been a dearth of Doctor Strange-related posts, despite there being quite a bit of material released over the past few months.

That’s no accident. I’ve been a fan of Doctor Strange long before the movie was a gleam in Kevin Feige’s eye, so I’m not among those that need convincing.

Though more importantly, I don’t want to know anything more about the movie. I can’t go into it as if I had never heard of the character before, though what I can do is to make sure that no more plot elements are revealed because Marvel Studios never translates their characters exactly, as they are in the comics, to the screen.

For instance, one of the things that differs is that Baron Mordo is apparently not only not waiting to betray Strange, but is genuinely his friend.

So if I give myself half a chance I might end up surprised!  And in a world where you can virtually find out the most intimate details about virtually anything in a matter of minutes that’s saying something.

Though sometimes things slip between all the trailers–like Doomsday appearing in the trailers for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice–interviews and junkets, and I am not at all interested in either seeing that happen or reporting on it if it does.

So if something interesting happens as far as Doctor Strange goes I might give it a write-up, but I am going to be extremely selective when I do because friends don’t spoil movies for friends.

Postmortem: Catwoman (2004)

If you’re expecting me to say something to the effect that Pitof’s 2004 super hero movie Catwoman is some sort of lost classic then you’re definitely barking up the wrong tree…because it’s not.

And while the buck usually stops with the director, I don’t think that that’s entirely fair in this case, mainly because the writing is so bad that not even Orson Welles could have saved it. Theresa Rebeck, Michael Brancato and Michael Ferris (the latter two are quite prolific writers for movies and television, though it’s telling that they also wrote Surrogates, Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines and Terminator: Salvation.  And as not-so-good as those three movies are, they also wrote The Game, which is awesome).

That being said, the pseudo-mystical angle the writers took is sort of clever in that it doesn’t necessarily invalidate other versions of the character, though it’s a perfect illustration of what happens when you don’t have knowledgable people overseeing development of a property.

That’s exactly why, no matter how much flak Kevin Feige gets from various quarters, no matter what you think about Marvel Studios or superheroes in general, having a unified voice as far as your characters go is pretty useful.
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The Curse of Marvel Studios

Marvel Studios is one of the most successful movie studios today, if profitable, reasonably-budgeted movies are the metric–if you consider a $200-250 million reasonable–so much so that some within Disney were rumored to be disappointed with the earnings of Avengers: Age of Ultron, which took in $1.4 billion at the box office–so if that’s a curse, it’s probably one that rival studios wish were a pandemic.

Unfortunately for the competition, in a way it is.

The reason being, other studios have begun to mimic what they perceive is Marvel’s secret sauce, but can’t seem to get the formula quite right.

For instance, Sony was attempting to create, a la Marvel, an integrated cinematic universe featuring Spider-Man.

Things began well enough with The Amazing Spider-Man, though the weakness of the plan became evident in 2014 with The Amazing Spider-Man 2, when Sony decided to share Spider-Man with Marvel Studios.

And while I use the word ‘sharing;’ I get the feeling that Marvel Studios is running the show–especially since the the Sony Spider-Man movies are being supervised by Kevin Feige (the head of Marvel Studios) and Amy Pascal (former head of Sony Pictures).

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