News Around the Net
This video is amazing. It’s a nine minute mash-up of clips from lots of great movies to create the notion that there is one bar in which a lot of famous movie characters meet up. Check it out, it is great (despite the mis-spelling in the opening title):
So, what the heck is going on over at Marvel Studios? There’s a lot happening behind the scenes that is starting to get reported. Some of it is exciting, some of it very worrying. The major event is the move of Marvel Studios, run by Kevin Feige, out from under the control of CEO Ike Perlmutter and over to the direct control of Disney (who bought all of Marvel a while back). There have been many reports over the years of Ike Perlmutter’s tight purse-strings — limiting budgets for the Marvel films and leading to tough negotiations over salaries with the films’ stars — and his vindictiveness — directing Marvel’s publishing and merchandising arms to de-emphasize the Fantastic Four and the X-Men, because the rights to those film series are owned by Fox. Although that has been continually denied by Marvel, the last year has seen the FF comic book –which has been published since 1962 — cancelled, and the removal of FF and X-Men characters from t-shirts and other merchandise (posters, toys, etc.). Kevin Feige has been praised by many as the key driving creative force behind the success of Marvel Studios’ films, and so the idea of his having more creative control on his own, away from the supervision of Mr. Perlmutter, and perhaps larger budgets for his films, is very exciting. On the other hand, I think the characterization of Perlmutter as a crazy billionaire is overly simplistic and denies his large role in Marvel’s reinvigoration as a publisher this past decade, and the creation and successes of Marvel Studios in the first place. I’m also mystified by the way the Marvel Creative Committee seems to be being blamed for various Marvel Studios problems, as described in this weird piece by Devin Faraci at Birth.Movies.Death.com. I love Mr. Faraci’s work (and later in this post I will link to some wonderful articles on his site, one of my very favorite web-sites), but his article about the Creative Committee doesn’t make much sense to me. The Creative Committee is a small group of people from Marvel’s publishing arm: Joe Quesada (an artist who rose to the position of Marvel Editor-in-Chief in the aughts and who is one of the major reasons why Marvel was able to rescue itself from the mess it was in back in the nineties), Brian Michael Bendis (a terrific writer who was hired by Mr. Quesada in 1999/2000 to reinvent Spider-Man with Ultimate Spider-Man, and who has since been one of the guiding creative voices at Marvel), Dan Buckley, and Alan Fine. To me, the involvement of these talented folks from Marvel’s publishing has been a major reason why Marvel Studios’ films have been so great, and so faithful in tone to the comics — as opposed to, say, the struggles that Fox’s attempts (their X-Men and Fantastic Four franchises, as well as the Ben Affleck Daredevil film) and Sony’s (the stumbling Spider-Man franchise) have had. So it’s weird to me to see the Creative Committee suddenly painted as a stumbling block. This feels like PR in support of Kevin Feige’s move to take total control over the direction of the Marvel Studios, which now starts to look a tad worrisome to me. (This article at bleedingcool paints a much clearer picture for me about Kevin Feige’s reasons for wanting to cut the Creative Committee out.) Clearly there has been some behind-the-scenes turmoil at Marvel Studios that led to problems with Age of Ultron (evidenced by some of Joss Whedon’s defeated-sounding comments upon the film’s release, problems that the Birth.Movies.Death article lays at the Creative Committee’s feet) and Ant Man (a movie developed by Edgar Wright until his very public parting-of-ways with Marvel after the film had finally been green-lit), but who is really at fault for all of this? It’s hard to know what has actually been going on. It’s weird that many at Disney/Marvel seem to have labelled Age of Ultron a failure. The movie isn’t perfect, but I think it is damn good. Yes, it’s ridiculous that the abysmal Jurassic World was this year’s box office behemoth over Age of Ultron, but is that because behind-the-scenes turmoil hurt the production of the film? It’s so hard for me to say. For now, with Kevin Feige seemingly in total control, I have to cross my fingers and hope for the best. Marvel has a very ambitions slate of Phase Three films, and I desperately want their success streak to continue.
Meanwhile, the behind-the-scenes news from Warner Brothers is also potentially troubling. Devin Faraci has also written two fascinating recent articles that claim that there is a lot of behind-the-scenes studio-mandated reworking of the upcoming Superman v Batman film going on, because Warner Brothers wants less Superman and more Batman in the film. (Here’s the first piece: You Got Too Much Superman In My Batman v Superman, and here’s his follow-up piece: Superman Getting Elbowed Out of Superman Movie.) On the one hand, the idea of ensuring that the presentation of the characters in the film is balanced makes sense. On the other hand, I like the idea — that seems to have been the film’s original structure — that the story starts from Superman’s point of view, and is strongly based on exploring the ramifications of the destruction of Metropolis at the end of Man of Steel. I’d hate to lose that, and I’d hate to lose a focus on the Superman supporting characters, like Lois Lane, who got a little bit of short shrift in Man of Steel. I want Lois to have a major role in this follow-up film, not just a cameo. We’ll see how this all turns out…
Turning to Netflix’s Marvel shows, here is a trailer for the upcoming Jessica Jones series, based on Brian Michael Bendis’ series Alias. (Is this trailer just a glimpse at the show’s opening credits?) I really really want this to be good:
I’m also thrilled to learn that Misty Knight will be a character in the upcoming Luke Cage series! I love Misty, ever since she was a supporting character back in Chris Claremont’s X-Men run. (The Misty Knight/Kitty Pryde exchange about “muties” and “niggers” remains one of the most wonderfully complex and powerful moments in any superhero comic book I have ever read.)
Speaking of Netflix, here is incredible news that Netflix might be producing additional new episodes of the amazing British series Black Mirror. I reviewed the six existing episodes here. (I still haven’t seen the 2014 Christmas Special, I need to remedy that immediately.) It’s a genius-level series, a dark Twilight Zone-esque anthology series in which each episode explores a way in which technology has to the potential to seriously screw-up all of our lives. If you’ve never seen it, I highly recommend you track down the episodes on Netflix.
OK, one last bit of super-hero news: if it’s true that Marvel is considering Rebecca Ferguson (who was so great in Mission: Impossible: Rogue Nation — click here for my review) for the role of Captain Marvel, that is a phenomenal idea. Let’s make this happen!!
Thanks to my friend Ethan for sending this to me. The Death Star architect speaks out. This is a very funny few minutes!
I’d like to share one more thing from Birth.Movies.Death.: this phenomenal article article in praise of Steven Spielberg. They’re doing a whole look back at the work of Mr. Spielberg this month, and it’s well-worth checking out. Let me single out this article that gives some love and attention to The Adventures of Tintin, a vastly under-rated film. (Click here for my original review.)