Marvel Universe Films has been coming on strong the last few years leaving the last dozen years flops(Fantastic Four 1 and 2, X-men 3, Blade 3, Spider-man 3, Ghost Rider 1, The 2004 Punisher, and to my dismay Elektra and Daredevil), and successes( Blade 1 and 2, X-men 1 and especially 2, Sam Raimi’s Spider-man 1, 2 and I sort of really like parts of the Ang Lee’s 2003 Hulk ) behind to go in new directions with their characters, some good and some already looking questionable as usual.
-2008 Punisher:Warzone -Production Budget $35 million – Director Lexi Anderson mostly got this right. The tone still doesn’t feel serious enough on the bad guys side I think, the whole thing seems like a joke to them. Ray Stevenson is the best Frank Castle to date, so it doesn’t really have any dramatic continuity from scene to scene, and the ever so often “metal” guitar solo over lays in the score reek of the studio PR people getting involved so they could come out with a CD sound track to sell. Instead of letting the artist/director you’ve hired do their version, they meddle and you get a middle of the road version of a character with mixed reaction from fans and new comers interested in the icon they’ve heard others talk about for years. Defiantly room for improvement on The Punisher character but this is the closest to crack the story yet. Not bad work, it’s got some great head explosions and Hard R action at very least. – Worldwide Gross $8,199,130 -US Video Sales $11,219,176. A huge financial loss for Lions Gate even before factoring in the marketing costs; Not a great incentive to make another one.
-2008 Iron Man -Production Budget $186 million – Director John Favreau shows some serious chops with the first Iron Man picture. Fighting to get the right star and it’s supporting cast second to none, really raising the bar on the Marvel action movie and made the film believable in what could have been just a guy in a robot suite running around shooting at shit. Instead Downey jr. brings playboy Tony Stark to life and in turn gives the audience investment into the Iron Man character and mythos. A great ride and an origin story done right ( even if I would have loved to see the Vietnam era setting like the original comic incarnation). -Worldwide Gross $582,604,126 -US Video Sales $172,129,662
-2008 The Incredible Hulk – Production Budget $137.5 million- Director Louis Leterrier and Edward Norton give us the best Hulk story by far to date. I loved Norton’s take on Bruce Banner and the digital capture work on The Hulk and Abomination characters are done very well. Selling the size and power of the Hulk is a tough thing to do and still keep believable in real world physics, but walking the line perfectly between comic like logic being transferred to the moving film, we invest into the world of Dr. Banner and the green monster inside him. I really like this movie, Leterrrier’s best work still to date (the clash of the titans remake was a real steaming pile of shit), the whole cast brings the Marvel universe characters to life properly, the action is very well done for the production budget and a lot of “in jokes” or content for fan boys and girls to find. What a great Hulk movie should be. Worldwide Gross $263,349,257 -US Video Sales $58,615,269
-2009 X-Men Origins: Wolverine – Production Budget $150 Million -Director Gavin Hood. The one positive thing about 2009’s only Marvel character to grace the big screen without a doubt is Hugh Jackman’s Logan. I read X-men and Wolverine Comic religiously when I was a kid and I really buy into Jackman’s take. Liev Schreiber as Victor Creed aka Sabertooth is a perfect up to a point, as is Ryan Reynolds Deadpool, The total bullshit ending spoils the movie that you almost want to like up till then, even with all it’s technical errors, out of context characters being brought in, bad casting, one dimensional portrayals of lesser known Marvel universe personalities and badly directed action . The real unforgivable thing is how $150 million dollars was spent and you still get such bad green/blue screen shots that a James Bond movie from the ’70’s using rear projection behind the actors shooting it “in camera” looks more real; And what the F@CK is with that ending. it’s never more apparent than that, directors who have no idea who these characters are they are making films about should STOP MAKING THEM ASAP PLEASE!!! By the way Deadpool never had laser vision he got from Cyclops,total crap. This shit matters to people, I know the excuse is there are so many different takes and story lines for each character that may cross some continuity lines if you look at them as all being the actual definitive story line of that character. Knowing how to bring out the proper parts of each storyline and what to leave, spinning it into one mythos for the film version(s) is not an easy task, but Brian Singer did it with 7-8 characters superbly in X2 and nailed the origin of Wolverine better in partial flashbacks than a two hour feature. I wish more of the movie was in Vietnam times or didn’t screw with Deadpool, followed some sort of decent storyline. So many things could have been done better, more interesting or more creatively. I figure Darren Aronofsky’s (2012) The Wolverine will be a great improvement and more interesting and complex take on a complex character. Can’t wait to see it done right. Worldwide Gross $374,825,760 -Us Video Sales $74,771,590
-2010 Iron Man 2 -Production Budget $170 Million – Director John Favreau. It’s not ever any easy thing to do to top yourself as a director when the first film came out of no where for mainstream audiences and won then over, making Iron Man as well known as the largest Marvel properties . The first viewing of Iron Man 2 for me was not a good experience, the theater was jam packs with people talking and texting through out (I’ll never get why people spend $14+ for a ticket and sit and text or talk to people the whole time. that shit is ridiculous ); So, by the end I hated it. I realized after my second and third viewing on Blu-Ray at home, I actually really enjoyed it. I could get into the nuances of each new Marvel character and new storyline being brought to the screen with great depth and understanding of the material. It’s this the “Empire Strikes Back” or ” Wrath of Khan” of sequels? Not exactly, it doesn’t blow away the first film, but brings us more into the Marvel Universe and Tony Stark character arcs. This is a film that will grow on you with multiple viewings, there is a lot of story and detail to take in on only one go. You start to see all the dramatic story arc set ups toward what will ultimately follow into The Avengers movie in 2012. This is one people will look back on with more understanding and affection after Joss Whedon superhero epic hits May 4th next year. I’m sure all the treads will come together quite nicely. Worldwide Gross $623,433,331 – Us Video Sales $ 114,730,950
-2011 Thor (in post-production) Release date May 11th – Director Kenneth Branagh takes on Marvels version of the God of Thunder. I think this will be the hardest character to crack in the Marvel Universe. Getting Branagh as the director on a film like this is a very smart move. The language and mood of the mythic realm of Asgard need a classic story telling touch to make it believable in the real world. I have high hopes this will be a really great visionary Marvel film. It will be interesting to see how they build towards the Avengers film in. A must see for me, Marvels first 3D film.
From left to right: Michael Fassbinder as Magneto, Rose Byrne as Moira MacTaggert, January Jones as Emma Frost, Jason Flemyng as Azazel, Nicholas Hoult as Beast, Lucas Till as Havoc, Zoe Kravitz as Angel Salvadore, Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique, and James MacAvoy as Charles Xavier. The first time I heard Fox was making a young X-Men movie, the idea of this really made me hope a big earth quake would hit the studio before they could go into production so I wouldn’t have to go though the agony of seeing a “Twilight” like teen version of my beloved comic heroes come to the big screen.
After little news on the project besides a release date and vague plot synapse, the director announced to take the reins of the film is Matthew Vaughn (Kick Ass-2010, Star Dust-2007, Layer Cake-2004). Instantly I was intrigued to see what Vaughn had in store to make this concept fresh? Answer: A 1960’s Kennedy Era period piece with the back story of how the feud between Xavier and Magneto started. The only reason this project interest me is because I love the other 3 movie the director has done and trust he will come up with sometime very awesome and enjoyable. These “first look” pictures don’t fill me will any sense of relieve though. What a shity Photo-shop job on the first few, looks like a class project at a technical college or like someone had a few extra drinks at lunch before assembling it. The newer images from the teaser trailer look better, good 60’s-ish art direction and look to the characters. Hoping for the best with this one, Fox has figuratively shoved a hot poker up my ass more times with my beloved comic characters on film than shown me a decent take on any Marvel storyline. You’ve done a few right but I know the directors had to fight non stop for most of the good stuff. Really wishing this is the end of that trend.
-2011 Captain America: The First Avenger (in post-production) Release Date July 22nd – Director Joe Johnston has headed a few fun pictures (The Rocketeer-1991 , Jumanji-1995, Jurassic Park 3 -2004) the last one being the terribly mishandled 2010 Wolfman remake. That being the case, Johnston has the capacity to create a good action movie with a strong narrative tread and properly done effects being that he started out as a effects illustrator and designer on the miniature and optical effect unit of Star Wars, leading to art directing the miniature visual effects units for Empire Strike Back, art director of all visual effects for Raider of the Lost Ark, Jedi, to full on art director on Temple of Doom in (1984). He’s been very involved in lots of legendary action pictures and has seen what works on screen and what doesn’t work. I think it will be a surprise how good this movie might be. A great World War 2 storyline, Red Skull, super cast and the set pictures mostly look good.
Talking with The Los Angeles Times “Captain America” director Joe Johnston says of his film “I watched the movie for the first time a few days ago and I just looked at the first cut and there is so much entertainment value — it’s just flat-out fun to watch. Maybe I’m somewhat biased — I was there [when we made it] — but, seriously, it’s funny, it’s exciting and there’s great visual effects.”
He goes on to say “The movie is going to be something more than people are expecting. This movie is going to surprise some people. It is the origin story of Captain America but it is also something rare — it’s a period superhero film but there’s great action in it. You don’t normally think of guys driving around in 1939 sedans in an action film but there are some great action beats in it. It’s just a helluva lot of fun to watch.”
Looking forward to seeing Cap hit the big screen in proper form, more Marvel 3d for me July 22nd.
2012 Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance (filming) Release Date February 17th – Directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor. If you have no idea who this directing duo is at first sight I envy you at this moment. You might even still have hope that we might get a Ghost Rider movie that does justice to anyone of the character’s comic incarnations. But alas, when you give Spirit of Vengeance to the team behind the two Crank movies and the piss poor Gamer, I sink into my chair like being kick in the nuts by a studio executive four or five times. And I thought Fox was the only one who was going to constantly piss all over my favorite boyhood characters, suddenly we see another contender emerge to continue that fun little task in Columbia Pictures. I knew when Mark Steven Johnson did the first Ghost Rider film that we were in for a great looking shit storm of a movie, but saying you want to do a better job on story for the second one and then giving it to these directors is stupefying. Maybe they will prove me wrong and do justice to the Goyer inspired story that got a sequel green lit in these tight financial times. I can hope until February 2012 that they might do just that, but I don’t really feel they will.
2012 The Avengers (in pre-production) Release date May 4th – Director Joss Whedon has tasked himself with what could possibly be the hardest superhero movie even attempted to be put onto film. Juggling characters Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, Thor, Nick Fury, Black Widow, Hawkeye and I’m sure more, is a almost insurmountable job not to mention the actors portraying all these characters. This will be the real test for Marvel as they attempt to do what many thought was an impossibility, bring a high budget, all star cast, live action Avengers film to the big screen with a director that understands all the nuances of each storyline, character and is a fanboy himself. Big Big anticipation for this project. I hope Whedon finally gets the recognition he deserves from the big studios as a force in the feature film directing game. 2012 Spider-Man (filming) Release Date July 3rd 2012 – Director Marc Webb. From the ashes of the Fourth Sam Raimi film come a bold move from Columbia by rebooting the franchise that had made them so much cash the last decade. Instead of going with a veteran director this time out, 500 Days Of Summer Marc Webb lands the job with full new cast including Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker, Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy, and Rhys Ifans as the Lizard. The reboot has Peter Parker back to developing his abilities in high school again. I have to admit the first photos of Andrew Garfield as Spidey look pretty rad, but I partly attribute that to the programed fanboy in me that sees my favorite iconic characters and is predisposed to like the imagery instantly. I am very interested how this one pans out. Some interesting Set photos and video surfaced this week as well as a brighter version of the teaser “first look” above. Enjoy.