24 April 2009

Spotlight on Wolverine

Wolverine first appeared in the pages of The Incredible Hulk #180 in October 1974 before joining the roster of the Uncanny X-Men in 1975. He has since proliferated into animation and live-action.

Wolverine, sporting an Aussie accent, made his onscreen debut in 1982 on the Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends episode "A Firestar Is Born."

Listen in here (ironically, the clip labels him as French Canadian):

Wolverine would next appear in the single episode of a failed X-Men series titled Pryde of the X-Men reprising his Aussie accent. Apparently, the mic up was due to the voice actor interpreting Wolverine's use of the word "dingo" as identifying Wolvy's nationality.

You may notice that although his color scheme changes from show to show, his overall look remains pretty consistent... Lamb chops, big mask, claws, etc.

Wolverine, along with the rest of the X-Men got his big break in 1992 on the X-Men Animated Series donning his classic yellow and blue look.

Wolverine got his fair share of screen time here, though he left the leadership role to the others.

This version of Wolverine also crossed over into two episodes of the '90s Spider-Man animated series episodes eloquently titled "Neogenic Nightmare, Chapter IV: The Mutant Agenda" and "Neogenic Nightmare, Chapter V: Mutants' Revenge." An aside, webbing is no match for adamantium.

From there, Wolverine would only get bigger as he stole the show as a primary character in the trilogy of X-Men live action films beginning in 2000. This version of the character opted for less flashy clothes, as the films even jabbed at the traditional "yellow spandex" uniforms.

He also got to showcase his trademark Fastball Special with Colossus in X3.

Wolverine would return to the small screen in 200 in the animated series X-Men: Evolution.

Being older than the mostly teen-aged team, this extra gruff version of the character took on the responsibility of a reluctant role model and leader. In Evolution, Wolverine traded yellow and blue for orange and brown.

Back in yellow and blue, the 2008 animated series Wolverine and the X-Men had Wolverine become the full-fledged leader of the X-Men. He was tasked with rebuilding the team after the disappearance of Professor X and Jean Grey.

Wolverine also got to don a "sneaky" black stealth suit which admittedly stands out a bit less than bright yellow.

Wolverine also got to perform in the reimagining of the original Hulk vs. Wolverine encounter in the bloody and brutal direct to video Hulk Vs. (Wolverine).

In 30 some short minutes, the movie does a pretty good job of unleashing Wolverine not only on the Hulk but on Deadpool, Sabretooth, and Lady Deathstrike earning the film a deserved PG-13 rating.

Wolverine's crowning achievement, not only of 2009, but of his long career will occur on May 1 with the debut of his own sol feature film X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

Though the leaked work print of the film was allegedly downloaded 1 million times a month before the films debut, I am sure fans will still turn out to see on the big screen the Weapon X tale only hinted at in X1-3.

Whats next for our favorite mutant? Wolverine is set to star in a Japanese Anime series in 2010. Sounds interesting. As one of the most popular superheroes, up there with Spider-Man and Batman, I am sure there will be plenty more of Wolverine in the future.

23 April 2009

TMNT Begins in 2011

Before I say anything else I would like to wish the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles a very happy birthday, their 25th (doesn't that technically make them non-teens). The occasion will be recognized with an all green light scheme tonight on the Empire State Building.

Now for the news.

In 2011, there will be a new live-action TMNT film delving back into the turtles origins. Sounds like a reboot to me. The turtles have been to some pretty dark places before, but not in a good way. Hopefully this 5th outing will achieve the turtles gritty potential, as opposed to:

22 April 2009

Will Star Trek Deliver a Knock-Out Punch to Wolverine?

Every year, May is jam packed with would be blockbusters. And every year, the tough competition takes its toll on some of the hopefuls. Look at 2008 for example:

02 May 2008 - Iron Man
09 May 2008 - Speed Racer
16 May 2008 - Narnia 2: Prince Caspian
23 May 2008 - Indiana Jones 4
30 May 2008 - Sex and the City

Both Speed Racer and Narnia suffered unexpected blows making them box office disappointments.

The 2009 line-up is as tough as ever. We get:

01 May 2009 - X-Men Origins: Wolverine
08 May 2009 - Star Trek
15 May 2009 - Angels and Demons
22 May 2009 - Terminator Salvation & Night at the Museum 2
29 May 2009 - Up

This jam packed May leaves the clawed one precious little time to make his money. X-Men: The Last Stand banked a total of $234 million with $102 million of that coming during opening weekend ($122 million if you include Memorial Day totals). Basically HALF of the movies total came in the first few days. Though not totally uncommon for sequels, this was an extreme example. X3's uncanny opening is what propelled it into the black.

Wolverine should also be pretty front loaded, already having an established audience, but week after week totals could add up too-just take a look at how Iron Man's $99 million opening grew into a near $320 million total. But those second and third week totals are in danger of being snatched up by other highly anticipated films.

X3s' 67% drop in the second weekend came in the face of very little competition. What movie was it that took away the weekend crown from X3 you ask? The Break-Up. What does that mean for Wolverine? It means that facing much fiercer competition from Star Trek than offered by Jennifer Aniston in '06, Wolverine needs to have a pretty huge opening weekend to walk away with a profit. According to Entertainment Weekly, Wolverine cost at least $165 million to make, so Logan definitely has his work cut out for him and needs a ginormous opening to whether the May blockbuster storm. I am on record for predicting a $75 million opening and $175 million total. I would be really surprised if those numbers were topped and Fox should be relatively happy if my predictions are close. With a more modest budget those numbers would mean a decent profit.

So what if Wolverine disappoints? That could spell trouble for future X-Men Origins films such as Magneto, First Class, or even a Deadpool spinoff. On the other hand, I highly doubt it would signal the complete end to X-Men or Wolverine movies. After all, Logan has an astonishing propensity for recovering from even the deadliest of blows.

21 April 2009

What to Expect in 2012 and Beyond From Marvel

Scheduled and Possible Future Films*

04 May 2012 - The Avengers

The Avengers is the only superhero film actually scheduled for 2012 thus far. Even though the the script does not yet exist, we do know a bit about what to expect. We will most likely get another dose of Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, and Captain America each of whom will have had their own solo films by then. As for others, Black Widow and Nick Fury from Iron Man 2, will probably also be assembling. I would expect Ant-Man (who has his own rumored film in development) may also tag along.

Those characters alone will probably max out the budget (Marvel's financing deal caps their films at $165 Million a piece), though we may also get Black Panther or Hawkeye to round out the team and offer additional spin-off potential. The amount of screen time given to individuals will probably depend on how well each solo film performs.I am not sure who is a big enough threat to require a whole team of heroes to unite, Ultron maybe?

Other Marvel Movies Dates T.B.D.

Ant-Man has his own page at IMDB, and has a script written by Edgar Wright. The film would feature Ant-Men Henry Pym and Scott Lang. Recent buzz has the film in a holding pattern, likely waiting to see how the other Marvel films do. Expect him to get his own feature if he is a smash hit in The Avengers. I don't know, it could be fun, but I keep thinking of Honey I Shrunk the kids.

Venom's film is currently in development which could bring the character back some dignity after his treatment in Spider-Man 3. I suppose they would go the "anti-hero" route, perhaps even featuring Carnage. Its not yet known if this would be a spin-off from Spider-Man 3 or a separate continuity, or whether or not it will even be Eddie Brock Venom or some other host. I would like to see Venom get another chance and I bet this movie could do well.

Marvel studio has the rights to make a She-Hulk film. Its possible she could assemble with the Avengers, but unless they just paint a woman green that could run up an already tight budget. There have been recent rumors that Megan Fox would play the role, and fan-made pics to lobby for her casting. I never really got the whole She-Hulk thing. I mean, a green woman would be kinda gross in real life, especially if she "Hulked Out." It doesn't seem like a movie that could bring in big crowds. I mean, Hulk made around $135 million, could She-Hulk even match that? A She-Hulk may very well be more hopeful thinking for some than actual fact.

Deadpool was supposed to be one of the big draws of the X-Men Origins: Wolverine movie, but as you may be able to tell from the picture above, Deadpool, is appearing more in name than in costume. Rumors have already begun about a possible spin-off film that focuses on the "Merc with a Mouth." The buzz for that film will probably depend on how satisfied fans are with Deadpool's 5 minutes in Wolverine.

Other X-Men with sizable fan bases like Deadpool are '90s favorites Cable and Bishop. Though I haven't heard any rumors about their solo or team outings, I think they could be hits. One drawback is that they wouldn't really fit into the established sci-fi light X-Men film universe. On the other hand, their additions could serve to freshen up the franchise as opposed to just going back to the well ala Wolverine 4.

Luke Cage is another hero that has long been rumored to have a film in the works but development stalled out in 2005. Others have been hinted at over the past years including Deathlok back in 2004, Mort the Dead Teenager (starring Jessica Simpson of all people) back in 2005, and Namor in 2006. Of course, to get initial financing Marvel Studios originally announced Nick Fury (who may yet headline a Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D.), Black Panther, Cloak & Dagger, Dr. Strange, Hawkeye, Shang-Chi, and Power Pack along with the above mentioned The Avengers, Ant-Man, and Captain America. So, there are plenty of other properties lined up to keep the golden age of superhero films going for years to come.

Any other Marveleers worthy of a feature film?

Up Next: 2012 and Beyond From DC

*Prequels, Sequels, and Reboots Not Included

20 April 2009

The Rank and Bank of X-Men Origins: Wolverine

In less than two weeks, Wolverine will be slicing his way into theaters. How will X-Men Origins: Wolverine stack up against the other X-Men and Marvel movies? Here are some predictions.

Biggest Mutant Overload - 3rd
1. X-Men: The Last Stand (Wolverine, Professor X, Cyclops, Storm, Jean 'I'm Not Really Dead' Grey, Rogue, Iceman, Beast AKA 'Don't Call me Niles,' Angel, Kitty Pryde the 'Shadowcat,' Colossus, Magneto, Mystique AKA 'Strategically placed Scale Woman,' Pyro, Juggernaut AKA 'No I'm Not RAM MAN,' Multiple Man, Arclight, Callisto, Quill AKA 'My Face is Full of Quills')

2. X2: X-Men United (Wolverine, Nightcrawler, Professor X, Cyclops, Storm AKA 'Catwoman,' Jean Grey, Rogue, Iceman, Colossus, Magneto, Mystique, Pyro, Lady Deathstrike, Master Mind)

3. X-Men Origins: Wolverine (Wolverine, Sabretooth, Silver Fox, Gambit, Wraith, Blob AKA 'Bub,' Deadpool, Agent Zero, Emma Frost, Cyclops, Professor X AKA 'Sans Wheels,' Bolt AKA 'One of The Dumb Hobbits' )

4. X-Men (Wolverine, Professor X AKA 'Wheels,' Cyclops, Storm, Jean Grey, Rogue, Iceman, Magneto, Mystique, Toad, Sabretooth)

Worst Use of Cyclops - 3rd
1. X-Men: The Last Stand (Senselessly killed)
2. X2: X-Men United (Senselessly captured and made irrelevant)
3. X-Men Origins: Wolverine (Senselessly included)
4. X-Men (Actually served a purpose)

Marvel Movie Opening Weekend - 7th
1. Spider-Man 3 (2007) $151,116,516
2. Spider-Man (2002) $114,844,116
3. X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) $102,750,665
4. Iron Man (2008) $98,618,668
5. Spider-Man 2 (2004) $88,156,227
6. X2: X-Men United (2003) $85,558,731
7. X-Men Origins: Wolverine - $75 Millions
8. Hulk (2003) $62,128,420
9. Fantastic Four: Rise of the Surfer (2007) $58,051,684
10.Fantastic Four (2005) $56,061,504
11. The Incredible Hulk (2008) $54.5 $54,538,000
12. X-Men (2000) $54.5 $54,471,475
13. Ghost Rider (2007) $44.5 $44,500,000
14. Daredevil (2003) $40.3 $40,310,419
15. Blade II (2002) $32.5 $32,528,016
16. Blade (1998) $17.1 $17,073,856
17. Blade: Trinity (2004) $16.1 $16,061,271
18. The Punisher (2004) $13.8 $13,834,527
19. Elektra (2005) $12.8 $12,804,793
20. Punisher: War Zone (2008) $4.3 $4,271,451

Biggest X-Men Box Office - 3rd
1. X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) $234,362,462
2. X2: X-Men United (2003) $214,949,694
3. X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) $175 Millions
4. X-Men (2000) $157,299,717

Best X-Men Movie - 3rd
1. X2: X-Men United
2. X-Men: The Last Stand
3. X-Men Origins: Wolverine
4. X-Men

Worst 4th in the Franchise Superhero Movie - 3rd
1. Superman IV: The Quest for Peace
2. Batman and Robin
3. X-Men Origins: Wolverine

Wolverine looks like it will have enough cameos / fan services to get people interested, but it just doesn't seem to have the epic feel that came with X2 (and didn't come, but was expected in X3). Wolverine was pretty much the center of attention in the previous three X-films, so its tough to get too excited for what is essentially Wolverine 4. Having said that, of the superhero franchises that have made it to #4, this looks head and shoulders above Superman IV: The Quest for Peace or Batman and Robin. Look for a mid-range reception that will probably lead to more spin-offs and prequel sequels ensuring Fox Studios will keep control of the X-Men for years to come.