Who Will Save Us From the Superhero Onslaught?

marvel_vs_dc

Like Superhero fights? You’re got six years worth coming soon.

I like super hero movies as much as the next guy, but there is such a thing as a saturation point.   Not all these movies interest me.  Not all these movies will be good.  Not all these movies deserve to made or even  seen.

What this onslaught of super heroes flicks reminds me is how in comics DC and Marvel will push more and more Batman/Spider-Man/Wolverine/X-Men/Superman/Avengers titles (there are about 10 or so monthly Avengers titles alone, not counting the solo superhero titles) and glut the market.   That’s great for a short-term bounce because who doesn’t like Wolvie and Bats?  It’s terrible for comic in general because other titles. better titles, less high-profile titles end up with receiving no attention.  This practically guarantee the only comics we’ll be seeing in the summer is the same old spandex same old.

Captain Marvel (DC Comics)

Hi, I’m Shazam! I used to be Captain Marvel but now I’m not. My new name is as lame as my costume.

A “wait-and-see” approach to the capes and costumes tsunami we are about to be hit with may be the smart move here.  Clearly Disney, Fox, Sony and Warner Brothers are fully invested and confident the ticket buyers are still hungry for more spectacle and special effects.   But I have my doubts.  The more comic movies made increases the odds many of them will tank and tank hard.

Something’s gotta give.  Or maybe it won’t.  Maybe there are enough comic geeks and casual fans out there willing and able to support 32 superhero flicks over the next six years response to DC’s announced slate of films saying I wouldn’t be that way about Marvel movies, but it’s not a fanboy bias for one company over the other to say a good movie is a good movie no matter who makes it and Marvel’s certainly made more than their share of really terrible super-hero crap fests.   For every Green Lantern  and Jonah Hex by DC, Marvel has stunk up the joint with Iron Man 2,  Elektra, Ghost Rider, Spider-Man 3, Daredevil, and I haven’t watched Thor: The Dark World yet).

After The Avengers made a billion bucks every studio went in search for super heroes they could rush into theaters.   Be honest. Was anyone really hoping for a Suicide Squad, Inhumans and Lego Batman movie?   Not only are we getting a Captain Marvel movie from Marvel we’re getting a Shazam! movie from DC featuring a hero that used to go by the handle, Captain Marvel.  If this is confusing for people who read comics, there’s no hope for a civilian to understand what’s coming down the pike.

While I’ll see my share of these upcoming movies,  there’s no way I see all of them.   Don’t let this get around, but while I  enjoy a good superhero movie,  I’m an adult and adults enjoy filmed entertainment that has nothing to do with wall-crawling, dark knighting or shield-slinging.   I like James Bond movies too, but if Hollywood were making 32 spy movies just like James Bond that might be a few too many.

Nobody’s crystal ball is so clear they can predict what’s going to hit and what’s going to die a horrible death at the box office,  but there’s going to be a lot of opportunities for successes and failures.

Or as they say in comic books, to be continued…

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Miramax Fades to Black.

"WHAT. DOES. HARVEY. WEINSTEIN. LOOK. LIKE?"

We interrupt our regularly scheduled blog to note the passing of an giant of the entertainment industry.  Like so many who die too soon and too young, the full impact of their death cannot be immediately measured.

Miramax Films died January 27, 2010.  The film company named by Harvey and Bob Weinstein after their parents, Miriam and Max, was laid to rest by it’s new owners/masters, The Disney Company after a long illness.  Miramax was 31 years old.

Whether or not you know it or not, you probably enjoyed at least one Miramax film.

A lot of people didn’t like Harvey Weinstein, the mastermind behind Miramax, but  his films were both popular and made lots of money.  Don’t believe me.  Try this list on for size:   No Country For Old Men,  Pulp Fiction, Clerks,  The Piano, The English Patient, There Will Be Blood, Sex, Lies and Videotape, Chicago, The Queen, Reservoir Dogs, Trainspotting, The Crying Game, Sling Blade, Shakespeare In Love and My Left Foot.   My favorite film of the last decade, City of God, was a Miramax import.  Once upon a time the Weinstein Brothers built the little art house that could and it went on to become the darling of  the “best of” list of critics everywhere and collect Academy Awards by the bus load.

Which doesn’t mean it was all about art.  Miramax also released such cheesy classics as Hellraiser: Bloodline and Pokemon 4Ever.

You can credit or blame the Weinsteins for kick starting the careers of Quentin Tarantino and Kevin Smith or travesties such as Shakespeare In Love beating out Saving Private Ryan for the Best Picture Oscar.  Smith, a guy who got lucky with an over glorified student film, Clerks, blogged a brief condolence for the end of Miramax films:

I was never a brand-name whore in my life, except when it came to indie film. And from the moment I knew I wanted to be in film, there was one label I wanted on my ass: Miramax…I’m crushed to see it pass into history, because I owe everything I have to Miramax.  Without them, I’d still be a New Jersey convenience store register jockey. In practice, not just in my head.


What killed Miramax?  Oh, the usual things.  Ego, greed, hubris, and  a lot of lousy movies nobody went to see like the 2009 releases of Everybody’s Fine, The Boys Are Back, and Extract that played to empty theaters and hastened the end of the company.   Mostly it was Diseny’s disinterest in the kind of smaller, character-driven films that won Miramax both acclaim and notoriety.   The Weinsteins sold Miramax to Disney for $70 million and after disputes with Disney CEO Michael Eisner over economic and creative control issues, the due bailed to start The Weinstein Company which has not been able to repeat the success of Miramax.

Every film studio releases its share of dogs and Miramax produced their share, but taken as a whole, there’s a body of work there that we won’t soon see repeated in a Hollywood that celebrates cash cow sequels and reboots over edgy, original and risk-taking films.

In lieu of flowers, friends should watch a Quentin Tarantino movie instead.

“This Mouse, This MARVEL” (or when Disney bought Marvel).

Wolvermouse:  He's the best at what he does.  But what he does isn't very nice.

Wolvermouse: He's the best at what he does. But what he does isn't very nice.

There are two types of people who go see comic book movies.  There’s the small minority that knows the every tiny detail and history of the superhero on the big screen because they read  comic books and then there’s the vast majority—everybody else.

When Disney purchased Marvel Entertainment for $4 billion Scrooge McDuck bucks it was only the biggest thing to happen to comic books since….well, probably since TimeWarner purchased DC Comics some 40 years earlier.   Corporations don’t purchase comic book companies because they give a damn about comic books.  Corporations purchase comic book companies because they give a damn about comic book characters.

The acquisition of Marvel was a big news story on the business page.   It was a “did you hear” moment of shock and awe across the Internet and blogosphere.    Marvel fans (aka “Marvel Zombies) are fiercely loyal and knowledgeable.  They’ve been known to get seriously bent out of shape if Spider-Man’s uniform isn’t drawn with the webbing under the arms so imagine how hot and bothered they are over the possibility of the wall-crawler pairing off with Donald Duck and Goofy.

Wolverine squaring off against Peg Leg Pete?   The Sub-Mariner swimming alongside the Little Mermaid?  The Fantastic Four vs. The Incredibles?   Face front and ’nuff said, true believers!  This is the BIG one!

Actually, comic book geeks are a pretty mellow group of guys (and a few gals).   There’s a lot of trepidation and uncertainty as to what it could mean when The House of Ideas gets absorbed by The House of Mouse.   But the fact is nobody really knows what it  could mean.

Hyuk!  Fear the wrath of Goofalactus!

Hyuk! Fear the wrath of Goofalactus!

What won’t be happening anytime soon is Disney making any movies featuring Spidey, the X-Men or Iron Man.   Those properties belong to other studios such as Paramount who hold the rights to five planned films:  Iron Man 2 (2010), Thor (2011), Captain America (2011), The Avengers (2012) and Iron Man 3 (2012/2013).

Sony has three more Spider-Man flicks in production and in the pipeline and 20th Century Fox chose the day after Disney acquired Marvel to announce they were planning to relaunch the Fantastic Four and Daredevil and there are more X-Men/Wolverine flicks in the future.   As long as 20th Century Fox keeps making movies with the FF or Wolverine, the rights won’t revert back to Marvel (and Disney).

Disney didn’t spend billions of dollars because of a burning desire to turn The Great Lakes Avengers into a film franchise.   What their strategy is to buying the rights to characters they can’t make movies about for years to come isn’t immediately clear, but you can be sure the suits at Disney and Marvel behind this deal see a endgame others don’t immediately.

There is some apprehension on the part of Marvel zombies that Disney may look at the comics and want to see a kinder, gentler direction, which could signal an end to same-sex kisses, graphic acts of brutal violence and the odd sight of a super hero climbing out of a woman’s clevage.

But it’s just as likely Disney won’t meddle with Marvel’s comic line too much.   Marvel still remains the top comic company ahead of DC and since Disney wants the good will of the teenage males demographic, why fix what isn’t broken?

The only thing that is sure is for  The Punisher, Wolverine,  the Hulk and the 7000 Marvel characters that now belong to Disney, it’s Mickey Mouse’s world and they’re living in it.