Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Ghost Rider, Gary Friedrich, and Marvel/Disney

OK, it’s time to talk about the film Ghost Rider, Spirit of Vengeance. This past weekend, The second Ghost Rider film came out and well, that is simply something that we never thought we’d ever see. If only because while the first film had some very cool parts (not only the appearacne of Peter Fonda as Mephistopheles, but   Sam Elliott as the original Ghost Rider), as well as a respectful adherence to Ghost Rider’s comicbook origins — always a cool thing to see in a film adaptation), but just because we thought the CGI effects were, well, somewhat lame. To be sure the Rider himself looked cool, but some of the riding around stuff just didn’t come off well by my take.

Still, while it was a serviceable enough film, I just wasn’t a big enough fan of the comicbook series to really care if there was a sequel. Yet, here it is. (more a nod to Nic Cage’s interest in the project  — and that it was filmed in Eastern Europe one would suspect, than to any great outpouring of fans clamoring for a sequel. So, Like I said, for better or worse, it’s here.

Only there’s more to it all than just a sequel, there is the whole Gary Friedrich v Marvel/Disney thing. As a movie critic for examiner.com, we felt that we had an obligation to review the film, and yet as a freelancer/comicbook fan we had no small amount of sympathy for Gary and his plight. Hence, We felt that we simply could neither simply review the film nor ignore it (or Gary) so we chose a middle ground. we reviewed the film but ran a paragraph at the end explaining ourselves. 

Briefly, Gary Friedrich was original writer of the Marvel Comics series, and — spurred on by his lawyer — sued, Marvel/Disney over ownership of the character and in turn was countered-sued by the corporation. Friedrich not only lost his suit but was hit with a $17,000 bill from Marvel/Disney. Friedrich, who is 68, unemployed, and broke, intends to appeal the decision against him. In the meantime comicbook writer Steve Niles set up a fund to contribute to help Gary pay the bill. 

Some comicbook creators are calling for a boycott of not only this film, but all Marvel films. While we personally are not going quite so far, we are strongly urging fans of the original comicbook series to send some money Gary’s way, because if you can spend $10+ to see the film (and more on popcorn and a drink), you can surly find it in your hearts to send a few bucks Gary’s way as well. (One individual indicated that while he wasn’t planning on seeing the film, if he were, he would simply pay for another film, then slip into the Ghost Rider screening).

Needless to say, this whole matter has caused us no small amount of consternation. While we have always seen ourself as not only a writer, but a journalist, we still feel a loyalty to Gary, so have been torn (A comicbook friend of ours reviewed the film on a comicbook site without even mentioning the suit, which we sort of understand, but well, not really). Still, everyone has to make their own choices in this life, so we strongly urge you all to do just that, Still, to clearly state our own views of the matter, we didn't pay to see the film (as a film reviewer we hardly ever pay for films), but did donate to Steve Niles fund for Gary.

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