Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Next Spider-Man Film!
“Spider-Man, Spider-Man, does whatever a spider can”

Yep, now that everyone else on the planet has moved off talking about Spider-Man 3, and is talking about animated ogres and anthropomorphic donkeys, or pirates (or both); I’m ready to talk about it. Actually — more to the point — I’m ready to talk about Spider-Man 4, and what I think that film should be about.

First of all, we have to understand that Hollywood doesn’t make films so much as it makes deals. That is to say that a film studio and/or production company and an actor’s agent will ink a three-picture deal, which — assuming a particular picture hits big, that actor’s character will return in the sequel. Which is good for the actor, but not necessarily for the writer or the audience (think about it, why should either the writer or the audience be forced to write for or endure a specific character just because his contract says he has to be there? This is sort of like the joke that says it takes two AFL-CIO guys to screw in a lightbulb, because it says so in the contract.)

Going forward, I suggest that future serialized films — specifically comicbook films — be produced in the same fashion that Bond films are made. Think about it, they have been making Bond films at the rate of about one every couple of years for some 45 years for a total of 23 films (counting the David Niven/Casino Royale and the Sean Connery/Never Say Never Again). Every one of which is, no disrespect to Bond, his creators, or producers, essentially the same.

All the films go like this, there is some international threat, a charismatic, over-the-top villain (who usually never returns — Blofeld and Jaws as the most notable exceptions), a bevy of bodacious babes (none of whom ever return), and Bond himself (who has been played by at least seven actors). Other secondary characters who rate on-going walk-on status (and don’t always show up in every film) include M, Q, CIA Agent Felix, and of course Moneypenny.

Seriously, what else do you need for a Bond flick? Bond, a bad guy, beautiful women, and a viable threat so that Bond can blow the crap of stuff. Oh yeah, and no film has anything to do with the next film, so why then, do comicbook films have to spill on to one another? Sure, sure, the comics themselves run one to another, but why do the films have to follow suit, especially as they are playing to an entirely different audience?

Currently, Marvel is publishing a Spidey book that is targeted towards kids, entitled Marvel Adventures: Spider-Man. In this series, all of the stories are self-contained. The only things that are continuous within the series is that the guy in the Spidey suit is Peter Parker, he works as a freelance photographer for The Daily Bugle, and he fights costumed bad guys. Again, what else do you need?

Hell, I’m both a fan who’s been reading Spider-Man’s exploits for over 45 years as well as a professional writer who (sometimes) works in the comicbook industry, and I’ll tell you two things about the character; first, its Spidey’s cast of supporting characters as much as Spidey himself that drives the narrative forward. Second, if the secondary characters are getting in the way of the story, you have to toss them in the river, and stick with Spidey.

Think I’m wrong? There is no character more vital to the nature of who Spider-Man is than Uncle Ben — and he’s been dead since Spider-Man’s first appearance, the next most important character in Spidey-Lore is Ben’s widow, May, and even she’s not in every issue (in fact she was “killed” once, and it looks like she’s about to die again (from a sniper’s bullet that was meant for her nephew).

This is why I say that the next Spider-man film will either wind up being Superman Quest for Peace, or Batman Begins. To make it become the former, all the next director has to do is to make it bigger, badder and more bodacious than the first three combined. Utilize more villains against our hero (can anyone say Sinister Six?); introduce Ben Reilly (along with The Scarlet Spider) as Peter’s clone; and jam-pack everything and a ham sandwich into a no-holds-barred, extra-long blockbuster, extravaganza that cracks the $400 million/three hour mark.

However, if you want to ensure the health of the franchise, as well as the real possibility of other comicbook based movies ever being made in the decade that follows, you’ll do this, instead. Go in the completely opposite direction.

That’s right, strip it down and go for basics. A simple story involving one or (maybe) two villains (a major and minor villain — if you will). The way to get this next film really cooking is to jump right into the mix. Have the film take a leaf from the TV shows CSI and Law & Order, start it with the action already happening, then go back and explain only what needs to be explained. Give us a new villain, one not in the previous three films (I’m voting for either Vulture — who had been penciled in for #3 and then replaced with Venom at the last minute — or The Lizard — who, as Dr. Curt Connors, has already been in the last two films anyway — or both; they really would actually make for a good tag-team combo).

Then just tell the story. Sure, throw in some angst, a smattering of melodrama, and a cameo by Stan, but just tell the effin story. Give us a 105 minute film where Connors morphs into the Lizard, The Vulture stages a series of daring daylight robberies and our webbed hero has to go after both of them. Toss in a scene of Aunt May telling Pete to eat well and wear a scarf; have JJJ yell at someone over at The Bugle, we get to see MJ is in another play, but for the love of Stan, Steve, and JRSR, have Spidey kick the crap out of the bad guys and save the day. That film will make money.

How do I know? Well, it has been the plot of nearly every Spidey comic published over the past 45 years, and there are currently five on-going titles a handful-and-a-half limited series, and everyone wants to toss the occasional Spidey reference into their book.

So seriously guys,

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Spider Week Continues!
That’s right kids, so long as Spidey is in the theaters, and Burger King is selling his toys, it is still Spider-Week. This week we picked up a couple of new items.

Also, while we were cleaning up our office, we discovered a small stash of Spidey Easter candy that we just had to share with you all.

Man was it still good!

Not only was that that chocolate egg hollow, but there was some hard candy hidden inside of it.

Very cool indeed.

As of now, I have eight of the 10 BK Spidey toys. Oh, and I’ve won the scratch off game more than I’ve lost (about either eight or 10 wins).

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Wave it High

I just picked up a copy of Marvel’s The Ultimates 2 #13 (yeah, I think it’s a stupid title for a comicbook as well, but no one asked me either). Well, the comic is the final issue in the series (big storyline, major conflict), and well, it’s a year late. But that’s not my problem.

I picked up the comic because I had heard that Ultimate Spider-Man was going to appear. He did for one panel, and not only did he only appear in one panel, but the artist screwed up his uniform by not including the Spider image on it. (The artist also didn't include Mr. Fantastic’s “4” on his uniform, so I guess that I shouldn’t complain too much.)

Only that’s just the beginning.

On what is ostensibly page 30 (not counting the eleven-teen page foldout), we have the image that is bothering me. Penciled by Bryan Hitch and inked by Paul Neary (a couple of Brits — and this is important to know) we see a pair of American flags that are hung (vertically rather than horizontally) off the U.S. Capital Building.

Both are hung wrong.

One is hung seriously wrong.

U.S. Flags (like — I would suspect — the flags of most sovereign countries have very specific rules about how they are to be displayed. For the U.S. Flag, that way is (among other rules) the blue field is always (always) in the upper left of the flag. Whether hung horizontally, or vertically. Only these yahbos have it both backwards and upside down.

No I honestly don’t expect them to know the difference, but their U.S. editor, Ralph Macchio should have known. Even if no one knew, they should have had the common sense (professionalism) to look it up! Yes, professionalism! As artists, they had to take life model classes, to learn how to get anatomy right. Since they are drawing specific, real-world monuments (the White House, the Capital building, Washington, NY, et. al.) they had to look at visual references of those. Heck, they have to look at visual references of the heroes to get their costumes correct.

Now I just know that someone out there is going to point out that the Ultimates storyline has the U.S. under attack by Rogue Russian elements, but I honestly don't believe that the wrongly-hung flags is a story element. I believe that it is the mistake of two artists and their editor who simply didn’t know any better.

If it is shown to me that I’m wrong about this, I’ll be happy to apologize. I just don’t think that I am.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Can you say Ewww?

By now it is all over the Net, and well, it should be. Marvel has just released a new Mary Jane statue, and well, it not only plays into all of the pre-pubescent fanboy geekiness of the industry, but it is (considered by some) borderline soft porn. Over at SpiderFan, there are a few folks up in arms, but personally I saw the statue some months back and simply considered it lame.

Hell, I don't even buy the way-cool Spidey stuff. That could be because I mostly care about the comics themselves, and leave the Spider- tchotchkes to my family to buy (which they do, on end).

Here is the image, and links to fans riffing on it, but, like I said, I like to save my outrage for stuff that really matters.

Friday, May 11, 2007

In my House, it is Always Spidey Week

Spidey is appearing this month not only in the theaters (saw the Midnight opening night show, and then again in an IMAX theater a couple of days later — more to come). He is also at Burger King this month. Here are just some of the toys that are available from BK.

And there are still six more toys to come. Ain’t life grand?

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Spider-Man goes Cable!

Currently Comcast Cable is running a Spider-Man promotion tie-in. There are Web ads...

...and TV ads...

Talk about way-cool!