The Wannabes Podcast: Episode #4 – Fall TV, Winter Movies, and Comic Book Movies FOR-EV-ER

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Amanda, Chelsey, Ellen, and Maricela talk about the ups and downs of the 2014 Fall TV crop, give their top picks for upcoming movies (and those that cause concern), and who is, in the immortal words of Charlie Sheen, “winning” between Marvel and DC.  Can DC compete? Can there just be TOO many superhero movies?  Spoiler: we don’t all agree on the answer to that one.  Also, can Ellen keep her puppy quiet for the duration of the recording? Spoiler: No.

NOTE: This was recorded before it was announced that Selfie would be cancelled.

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The Wannabes Podcast: Episode #4 – Fall TV, Winter Movies, and Comic Book Movies FOR-EV-ER

It’s Raining Superheroes. Hallelujah?

avengers-poster

Good heavens there has been a lot of comic book movie news of late.

A few months ago, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige announced that the studio has their movie lineup planned until 2028. Just so we’re all clear, that means they know what movies they want to be making for the next 14 years. Just in time for me to maybe have an early mid-life crisis.

Then last week, DC and Warner Brothers decided to announce their movie lineup for the next six-year, but, in what I can only assume was a move to one-up Marvel’s announcement, they actually identified what those movies were going to be.

Finally this week, a full six days ahead of schedule, Marvel released the first trailer for Avengers: Age of Ultron shortly after it was leaked on the web.

(Edit: As of 28 October, Marvel has confirmed nine more movies and dates through till 2019.)

If I didn’t know any better, I’d say Marvel and DC are trying to stoke the flames of a fanboy war.

While many fanboys have already taken the bait to engage in an unwinnable argument online, I worry more about the oversaturation of these comic book movies. It’s almost impossible not to feel a little skeptical now that we can expect an average of four to five of these films every year instead of the two a year we used to get a decade ago. Many already feel oversaturated, believing most superhero movies are identical in everything but name (although most go and see them regardless).

Having said that, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the abundant slew of superhero movies will be unsuccessful, it just means that both Marvel and DC need to change-up the formulas for how they make them. They’ve done it before, which is why I’m of the belief that they can avoid some of the feelings of oversaturation if these movies bear traces of other genre films.

Spider-Man 2

Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2 broke largely from the mold of its predecessor by focusing less on the action and more on the fact that it was, at its core, a superhero drama. Furthermore, part of the reason I believe audience and critics received both Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy so well is because they, like Spider-Man 2, diverged from stereotypical superhero movies and tested other genres. Captain America felt much like a spy thriller movie like No Way Out with hints of The Bourne Identity, while Guardians of the Galaxy, with a few exceptions, felt more like Star Wars and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy than a traditional superhero movie.

So imagine with me now that more comic book movies broke from the norm and became something else entirely. How about a Batman movie that legitimately tries its hand in the horror/thriller genre? What about a romantic-comedy Spider-Man film? A mystery movie with Iron Man? Or a musical with Superman?

OK, that last one might be a stretch to imagine – although I suddenly want to see some director make Superman: The Musical. Preferably with Nic Cage as the Man of Steel.

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Without variety in their excessively huge movie lineups, Marvel and DC risk losing those movie-goers who haven’t already lost interest in their films. Before they realize it, audiences will likely stop saying things like “I can’t wait to see the new (insert superhero here) movie” or “That movie looks really good,” and instead will say, “I’ll Redbox that in a few months.”

It’s Raining Superheroes. Hallelujah?

Fusing Visual and Literary Storytelling

watchmen

I think everyone needs to stop what they’re doing right now, pick up and read a graphic novel. Perhaps I’m just on a high after finishing the Scott Pilgrim series this week, but it struck me upon finishing the books that there are relatively few people I know that share my love for this form of literature. And yet I know many friends, associates and family members who would love graphic novels if they only read a good one, which is why I’m calling on everyone to look up some top 20 list, pick a story that appeals to them, buy it and enjoy.

How am I so sure people would love a good graphic novel? I’m glad you asked.

The first is that graphic novels are generally self-contained stories that don’t require extensive knowledge of backstory like many Marvel or DC comics, which makes them more accessible to the casual reader. It also allows the writers and artists to plan a solid story from start to finish without the need to plan extra story arcs and crossover events for months – and even years – in advance, a trend that’s becoming all too common in comics these days.

Secondly, graphic novels fuse the storytelling of a regular novel with beautiful artwork, which allows for the story to be told as much visually as by the words on the page. This could be particularly helpful in roping in those who don’t read much (but should) and instead skip over literature for more visually stimulating entertainment.

A side-by-side of Scott Pilgrim from the movie and the graphic novel.
A side-by-side of Scott Pilgrim from the movie and the graphic novel.

It’s actually due to this strong mix of storytelling mediums that so many graphic novels have made it to the big screen, often without the audience even realizing it. When my little brother showed me the film Scott Pilgrim vs. The World a few years back, I’ll be honest and say that I had no idea that it was based off a short series of graphic novels. Nor did I realize at first that such popular films as V for Vendetta (a personal favorite of mine), 300 and A History of Violence all got their start on the page before Hollywood adapted them. The newest additions to this list are the critically acclaimed Snowpiercer, adapted from the French graphic novel Le Transperceneige, which recently got an English translation, and Sin City: A Dame to Kill For.

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Yeah, I get that some people prefer to create the visuals in their head, thereby personalizing the story and making the experience unique to them. Besides the preference that most people have for books, graphic novels face the stigma of a society that might view them as childish or intended for a younger audience, even though stories like Persepolis, Watchmen, and Maus all cater to older audiences.

An article from Publisher’s Weekly last year would suggest that their popularity is rising and I believe the stigma is breaking down in part because of film adaptations, but I think we’ve still got a ways to go. Hopefully in the future more people will be having conversations about their favorite graphic novels in their book clubs, on Goodreads.com and in casual conversations.

Fusing Visual and Literary Storytelling

Gotta Have More Comic-Con News: Burning Questions Left After Comic-Con 2014

I’m a greedy geek. I know. I get that. Why can’t I just be happy with what the studio gods have deemed worthy to leak to the lucky fangirls and boys in San Diego?! I’ve got a fever…and the only prescription is more Comic-Con news, specifically Comic-Con movie news. Here’s a rundown of the unanswered questions geeks around the world are still yearning for answers to placate our fan theory-addled minds.

Marvel

A lot of Marvel Cinematic Universe buzz prior to the Marvel Hall H presentation surrounded the casting of the eponymous hero of the upcoming Dr. Strange MCU Phase 3 movie. Longtime rumors of Benedict Cumberbatch taking on the role were brought to a fever pitch during Comic-Con. After joking about playing “Nurse Normal” (Get it? Oh Cabbagepatch…), Cumberbatch confirmed that his current schedule precludes him from partaking in the role. He’s due to play Hamlet in London next summer. Most are taking the news as the final nail in the coffin for Cumberstrange. (Personally, I’m not too sure. I can feel the pull-and-tug between Cumberbatch and Marvel to finagle schedules to work.) So just who is Dr. Strange? Maybe Joaquin Phoenix? Color me intrigued! But by now I expected to be more than just intrigued by the possibilities.

Marvel announced the dates for its Phase 3 films through 2019. (I don’t even know what I’m doing tomorrow!) Besides Guardians of the Galaxy 2, no other films or characters were announced. How long do we have to wait for Black Panther and Captain Marvel? Fans and pundits alike have decided these are the most likely new superheroes to feature in their own films. What if we’re all wrong? Personally, if done correctly, I’d prefer to see a She-Hulk movie before a Captain Marvel movie. That’s because I think green lawyers are cool. Plus, MCU’s diversity issues are becoming more apparent, the longer and more successful the series continues. Speculation abounds when not much is confirmed.

DC

Warner Bros’ biggest Comic-Con property this year is Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. (That title! I love it because it’s so banal and bizarre at the same time.) Zack Snyder introduced the DC Trio together for the first time in public. A clip was shown. Wonder Woman was shown. And…that’s it.

What’s the movie actually about? How do Cavill, Gadot, and Affleck feel about playing their respective characters? What has the filming process been like so far? I didn’t expect them to answer fan questions, but they could have at least been allowed to open their mouths. Right? Right?! Right.

Just like the MCU master plan, the DC movie master plan is slowly materializing. Even more so than the MCU, the DC movie master plan is shrouded in mystery — or maybe not. Some confirmations would be nice.

Plus, what the hell does this mean?!

Star Wars

A still of a set. A group photo of actors in costume. Something! Anything! JJ Abrams tends to shy away from Comic-Con displays, favoring secrets and lies. Sorry, too harsh? Not a bit of news came out of the Disney/Lucasfilm camp on the new Star Wars trilogy or any of the announced spin-off films. If Gareth Edwards can confirm he’s making Godzilla 2 after his Star Wars spinoff, can’t we know what exactly that spinoff movie will be?

There’s only one question I want answered — what is the title of Episode VII? My suggestions include Attack of the Phantom Clones, A New Hope Strikes Back, and Revturn of the Jedith.

Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them

Daniel Radcliffe finally made his first Comic-Con experience, promoting the upcoming Horns. How amazing would it have been if he also introduced some news about Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them? Granted, the last thing he’d want to promote is another Harry Potter film series but hey the fans would’ve loved it! Speaking of, it’s only a matter of time until JK Rowling makes the trek to San Diego…I already feel sorry for the people of San Diego when (not if) that happens.

What unresolved questions/feelings/FEELS do you have after the dust of Comic-Con has settled?

Gotta Have More Comic-Con News: Burning Questions Left After Comic-Con 2014

A Geek GIFplanation of DC Movie News

Justice League-DC Comics

Warner Bros. has confirmed Zack Snyder will direct a Justice League movie, a continuation and expansion of Man of Steel and Superman vs Batman.

Young Justice-Anguised screams of pain

Man of Steel isn’t a bad movie. It is, however, fundamentally flawed and problematic in more ways than even I can comprehend. Zack Snyder making problematic choices in Superman vs Batman (that name alone!) as well as Justice League is too much for my fangirl brain to handle.

I’ve been burned too many times — Sucker Punch, Man of Steel — in hopes that a Snyder movie would be just as great as the trailer made it seem. Do I have faith that he can establish a DC cinematic universe that meets or exceeds the example of the MCU? No. If not for my lack of faith in his directing choices, then for the simple notion that Warner Bros. is so preoccupied in “catching up” with the MCU that it is failing to make any intriguing creative choices.

Speaking of, I guess Ben Affleck turned down directing Justice Leagueagain.

Wonder Woman-ANGRY

The only solace I found in the casting of Ben Affleck as Batman/Bruce Wayne in the new DC cinematic universe was the possibility that he finally agreed to direct Justice League. With that hope slashed, my heart now smolders in disapproval over Batfleck. Perhaps my disdain will be all for naught, and Affleck executes a dynamic, true-to-the-spirit-of-Batman performance. Then again, perhaps a zombiepocalypse will end the world tomorrow.

Ray Fisher has been cast as Victor Stone a.k.a. Cyborg in Superman vs Batman. While Stone/Cyborg is a small part of the 2016 film, he will go on to become a member of the Justice League in the later eponymous film.

Batman-Robin-blinks huh

The cynic in me worries that the inclusion of Cyborg in Justice League means that we won’t be seeing John Stewart’s Green Lantern in the film. Akin to the New 52 original Justice League slate, apparently you can’t have two superheroes of color on the same superhero team. Does that mean that Snyder and Co. will reintroduce a new Hal Jordan? A different Green Lantern like Guy Gardner? Or perhaps skip over the Lantern Corps all together?

Warner Bros. thinks “the world is ready” for a solo Wonder Woman movie. Hopefully. Eventually.

Wonder Woman-I will not tolerate this

The world was ready for a solo Wonder Woman movie in 2005. The world was ready for a solo Wonder Woman in 1975. What Warner Bros. really means in stating “the world is ready” is studio executives now think fanboys and casual male audiences will see a Wonder Woman movie. Did you know action movies starring a female protagonist make money?!

No one wants a Wonder Woman movie more than I do. That being said, her story is a tough one to crack, especially as part of a semi-cohesive cinematic universe. While it boggles my mind that Warner Bros. would ever think audiences wouldn’t want a solo Wonder Woman movie, I do think patience in finding the right script and determining how well Gadot’s performance is in Superman vs Batman and Justice League is a smart movie.

Warner Bros. has other DC films like Shazam, Metal Men, 100 Bullets, and Fables in development — outside of the Justice League continuity.

Batman-Hmmm

This seems like an antiquated move — it doesn’t follow the all-consuming MCU model — but it could be a smart one. Fables is a rich, wondrous comic series by Bill Willingham featuring fairy tale characters secretly living in New York City. A slate of good Fables movies gives Warner Bros. an alternative if the DC cinematic universe fails and sets it apart from comparisons to TV shows like Grimm and Once Upon a Time.

Personally, a Guillermo Del Toro-directed Justice League Dark movie would be enough to make me happy, even if it’s connected to the worrisome DC cinematic universe.

I thought my fury and rage over Man of Steel, Batfleck, and the overall direction of Warner Bros.-DC film plans would die down with time. I was wrong. The most frustrating part of all this hoopla is that I will be seeing all of these films regardless of whether I like them or not. For the sake of accuracy, I have to be informed about what exactly angers me. Oh the struggles of fandom.

30 Rock-Nerd Rage

A Geek GIFplanation of DC Movie News