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A ‘Strange’ Case of Nonsense

A few days ago Kevin Feige confirmed that there would be a Doctor Strange sequel, which must have been a comfort to the people too clueless to not know better. The original movie earned almost $678 million–on a budget of $165 million–so if there weren’t a sequel it certainly wouldn’t be because it wasn’t profitable.Then let’s not forget that Scott Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill (director and co-writer) have both said numerous times on Twitter that they not only did they think that there’d be a sequel, but that they were looking to have Nightmare as the villain. And that’s on top of Strange’s great showing in Thor: Ragnarok and Avengers: Infinity War, making the character more popular than ever. And if that weren’t evidence enough consider that some of the actors that portray the foundation of the Marvel Cinematic Universe–Robert Downey Jr and Chris Evans in particular–will likely sacrifice themselves to stop Thanos in Avengers 4, which means they’ll need more heavy-hitters like Benedict Cumberbatch to replace them.As I implied earlier, fairly obvious.

Hidden Message in the Title of the Spider-Man: Homecoming Sequel?

It’s been revealed by Kevin Feige, President of Marvel Studios, that the title of the Spider-Man: Homecoming sequel will be Spider-Man: Far From Home.

And I genuinely have a problem with that because one way I interpreted the title of the first movie was as a return of Spider-Man back to where he belongs (never mind that the more obvious meaning was that it literally revolved around the preparation for Peter Parker’s first Homecoming dance).

Now, it’s rumored that the sequel takes place during a class trip to Europe, making ‘Far From Home’ a fitting subtitle.

But let’s look a little deeper. Just as Spider-Man: Homecoming could be interpreted as the return of Spidey to the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) could Spider-Man: Far From Home be read as an end of Spider-Man in the MCU?

The nature of the deal between Marvel Studios and Sony has always been a temporary one, though there has always been a bit of uncertainty around when it ends exactly.

As far as I’m aware, Spider-Man is a part of the MCU through Avengers 4 and the Spider-Man sequel, which makes me wonder if the subtitle of the Spider-Man sequel is a cagey way of Feige saying that Spidey’s tour of duty in the MCU is at an end?

I Hate to Say I Told You So: Moon Knight Edition

According to Comicbook.com fan-favorite (at least THIS fan) Nova is being considered for a role in the MCU by the president of Marvel Studios, Kevin Feige (despite James Gunn not being particularly fond of the character).

That’s probably fairly obvious, but did you know, attributable to the same source, that Moon Knight is also particularly high on Feige’s Wish List.

My point?  A few months ago there was a lot of hue and cry (read: rumors) about Moon Knight appearing in the Marvel/Netflix shows.

Here’s the problem with that little bit of wish fulfillment:  When characters appear on Marvel Television shows, they DON’T appear in Marvel Studios movies (at least up to this point).

This way, assuming Moon Knight appears in the MCU, he’ll be catapulted on the world stage not only in a fashion that cannot be estimated, he’ll certainly attract more attention than he would on a television show.

And if you ask me that’s a win-win for comics’ fans.

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!

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.

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