07 May 2009

Green Lantern Takes 1 Step Forward and 6 Steps Back

The Green Lantern movie, gearing up for the start of production has been pushed back six months to June 2011. While this will allow the film time to actually be made before being released, and I guess that's important, it pits GL against 3 big Marvel movies. Also to be released in summer 2011 are Spider-Man 4, Thor, and Captain America. I really can't imagine this will help GL to succeed. Then again, maybe the Emerald Knight will steal away audiences from these lesser heroes (at least Thor and Cap). In any case, its a kind of risky maneuver.

One other interesting factoid to be discerned here is that Batman 3 is NOT going to be released in 2011. It appears there will be an at least 4 year gap between The Dark Knight and the next appearance of The Batman.

The Justice League: A Super Friendly Tour (Part 2)

Improving on the guest star status granted by The Superman / Aquaman Hour of Adventure, The Justice League would appear in their own series in 1973 simply titled Super Friends.

Super Friends

Other than Superman and Aquaman (who didn't actually appear in the previous Justice League) the core previous League members were dropped and replaced with the more popular Batman and Robin as well as Wonder Woman (not Wonder Woman had her invisible jet and the ability to fly without it). But no kids series would be complete without-you guessed it-kids (I guess Robin alone wasnt good enough). You can view part of the rare 1st episode "The Power Pirate" here:

This series added junior non-powered heroes/detective/Scooby Doo knock-offs Wendy, Marvin, and Wonderdog. The team operated out of the Hall of Justice and was dispatched to deal with criminals, alien invasions, natural disasters, and so forth. Other heroes including Flash, Plastic Man, and Green Arrow were occasional guest stars.

Lasted just 16 hour long episodes, the series gained quite a fanbase after cancellation. The next several subsequent "series" would really just be continuations of Super Friends with varying hero rosters operating out of the same Hall of Justice.

Availability: This series is not yet available on DVD

Up Next: The All-New Super Friends Hour

06 May 2009

Superman and the Mole Men (1951) - Film Capsule

Hero: Superman

Villain(s): An angry mob

Diabolical Scheme: Kill the defenseless potentially radioactive and weird looking "Mole Men." Ask questions later.

Coolest Moment: A glowing orange. Also seeing Superman's first film and realizing how far he has come because there honestly wasn't much here to love.

Comic Book Logic: Apparently the Earth is hollow, and contains a civilization of Mole Men (read "little people" with bald caps) willing to climb a 6 mile tall ladder to explore after their ceiling was poked through. They also have advanced weaponry.

Review in 50 Words or Less: I will never again intentionally watch this movie. Superman appears near the half way point, flies once, and does a lot of lecturing and off screen bullet deflection. Obviously, today's effects are better, but even Superman IV’s effects, plot, script and dare I say logic were all far superior.

Availability: Superman Ultimate Collector's Edition (Containing Superman and the Mole Men and more) on DVD

05 May 2009

What to Expect from Upcoming Sequels, Prequels, and Reboots

As long as the profits keep rollin' in, no movie studio exec is ever going to say, "We have enough of those movies, lets try something new." And so it goes with superhero films, you will always expect to hear rumors of a sequel, regardless of the previous pictures performance. Here are the likely sequels, prequels, and reboots that we will see in the next 5 years.

Iron Man 3

Likelihood: Extreme

Why its likely: When it comes to superhero box office coinage, iron is the new gold standard. Iron Man 1 was huge, Iron Man 2 is hugely anticipated, and movie studios love trilogies. There is already talk of what is being saved for the 3rd Iron Man movie, so barring the apocalypse, its coming.

Spider-Man 5

Likelihood: High

Why its likely: Tobey Mcguire signed a two-movie extension on his contract making him available for a Spidey 5. Spidey 3 was a low point for the franchise, but if #4 manages a bounce back 5 will be in the bag. Actually, as long as #4 is even moderately successful, There will be a Spider-Man 5. Let's hope that there are still some decent villains around. I would prefer that they not scrape the bottom of the barrel to give us Spidey vs the Kangaroo.

X-Men Origins: Magneto

Likelihood: Below average

Why its not so likely: The best thing a Magneto movie would have going for it is Ian Mckellen who most likely would not be in this prequel. Besides, there are plenty of mutants out there, and the X-Men will probably always bring in an audience, but I think people would rather see more new mutants on screen than an origin of a villain set as a period piece, especially a holocaust drama. Sure, there is a script for it, so Fox has been mulling it over, but if they were certain about this movie, it would be further along in production. If X-Men Origins" Wolverine makes a billion dollars, that could help this one get a greenlight, then again, it would probably just assure a more bankable Wolverine Origins 2: The In Between Years.

X-Men: First Class

Likelihood: Better than average

Why its likely: This is seeming more and more like the direction Fox wants to take the X-Men franchise. It allows them to reuse popular mutants (sans the now solo Wolverine) without rebooting. They also seem keen on upping the teen factor (why not just call it 9-0-2-1-X) which would be easier to do with an X-Team origin than a Magneto one. ScreenRant.com just ran an interesting column speculating that this team would include Beast, Cyclops, Emma Frost, Jean Grey, and Storm though not Gambit. Also not likely to appear in the movie would be Ice-Man, Rogue, Angel, Colossus, Shadowcat, or Nightcrawler due to their roles in the previous X-Films. So who else might appear? Let me suggest Havok, Psylocke, Forge, or perhaps Polaris.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine 2 (or Wolverine Origins 2: Deadpool)

Likelihood: Better than average

Why its looking likely: Wolverine is going to make money and Fox never says "no" to more of an even marginally profitable series (see Elektra). The fact is, taking Wolverine to the Land of the Rising Sun just might inject some freshness into the franchise. As for Deadpool, I think people paid to see him in Wolverine-even if he wasnt really in it-and will probably pay to see him again considering he would probably actually be in a movie of his own. Hopefully they can come up with better titles than I did.

Hancock 2

Likelihood: High

Why its likely: Hancock made a lot of money and people love Will Smith. If he signs for an MiiiB (Men in Black 3) I can't see what would stop him from making a sequel to this.

Daredevil Reboot

Likelihood: So-So

Why its not so likely: There has been chatter lately of a new stab at Daredevil, and even though I probably enjoyed the first more than most, I don't sense a high demand for more. Sure, replacing Ben Affleck would be a start, but what else could get people excited for take 2? If it gets made, it will mainly be to renew Fox's license on the character so it doesn't revert back to Marvel Studios. What a noble cause. Maybe they will opt instead for Daredevil Origins: Bullseye.

Superman Reboot

Likelihood: Who knows

Why it should be likely: Its freaking Superman. Everyone knows who he is and loves the guy, if done right. And that's the problem. The folks at WB have no idea how to package him in a way that will be popular. Then again, his profit potential is too big to pass up and I am sure another Superman will get made eventually. Whatever happens, I expect the next Superman movie will have a lot more punching and a lot less moping.

Silver Surfer

Likelihood: Mild

Why it is not likely: If Fantastic Four 2: Rise of the Silver Surfer had been a hit, this would be a no brainer, but I doubt the studio folk believe a spin-off of a mildly received, mildly profitable film would do too well. Furthermore, the most maligned aspect of Fan 4: 2 was the whole Galactus storm cloud SNAFU. An entire movie focused on a storm cloud probably belongs on the weather channel more than in theaters (or in Star Trek), and sadly, the Silver Surfer (the best aspect of Fan 4: 2) may have to wait a while before returning to the big screen.

Fantastic Four Reboot

Likelihood: Not for a while

Why it may be a while: I don't think many would argue that the Fantastic Four movies could have been better. Then again the characters have a big following and The Incredibles demonstrates the successful execution of a similar concept. Superman Returns takes a lot of flack for its lack of action, but Fan 4: 2s biggest action moment featured the Four versus a giant Ferris wheel. Fan 4: 1 had a major action sequence of the Four versus a fire truck. In both Dr. Doom was castrated. This series deserves a second chance, but we are going to have to wait for the bad taste to go away first.

Ghost Rider 2

Likelihood: Possible

Why it just may happen: Nicolas Cage will do anything (Next, Knowing, The Wicker Man, Ghost Rider 1) and he seems excited to return to Ghost Rider. The movie was panned and still performed OK, and there is just something about the visual of a flaming motorcycle ridden by a flaming skull. Ghost Rider also set records for a February opening weekend so there may be a financial justification for a sequel. I actually think that this could be a good avenue for some of the Marvel monsters like Morbius, and I would be curious about another installment if they kept the Cage to a minimum.

Spawn Reboot
Likelihood: Likely

Why it might happen: Creator Todd MacFarlane loves pimping his stuff and Spawn is pretty well known and the first film was a Hellboy sized success (and hey Hellboy got a sequel). It sounds like, depending on who he licenses the character to, he may get to direct. Not that its the best idea, but like Frank Miller (see the Spirit), these comic book artists can't resist the chance to direct a movie. The previous Spawn movie was not so great, but with that as the bar, makers of the reboot have to feel good about a better second attempt.

Well that's all folks, I think we are all caught up on what is and may be coming soon to a theater near you.

04 May 2009

Adamantium Turns to Gold

Turns out that audiences were hungry for the telling of Wolverine's beginnings. Though I predicted only a $75 million opening, Logan managed to claw his way to $87 million over the weekend. That gives X-Men Origins: Wolverine (XOM) the 7th biggest opening for a superhero film, and the second biggest for an X-Men film edging out X2's $85.6 million take in 2003. More impressively, this film (essentially Wolverine 4) avoided the franchise killing performance of both Superman and Batman 4.

Top Superhero Openings
The Dark Knight (2008) $158.4
Spider-Man 3 (2007) $151.1
Spider-Man (2002) $114.8
X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) $102.8
Iron Man (2008) $98.6
Spider-Man 2 (2004) $88.2
X-Men Origins: Wolverine $87.0
X2: X-Men United (2003) $85.6
Batman and Robin (1997) $42.9
Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987) $5.7

What does this mean for the film's total prospects? Well, if XOW performs as well as X-Men (opening weekend as a ratio of total) it could muster $251 million; following X2, $218 million; mimicking X3, $198.4. Of course its is possible that it could do worse, I am still inclined to say $175-185 is its limit, but $200 million certainly seems reasonable. I guess it all depends on how much of a dive Wolverine takes in weekend #2. This strong opening also makes you wonder how much that leaked version and lukewarm reviews had. Seems like by now, Wolverine has a pretty dedicated audience, at least for opening weekend. How the movie will handle fierce May competition is yet to be seen.

But as for now, its looks like Fox's X-Men will continue to spawn sequels, prequels and spinoffs in a way that both their Daredevil and the Fantastic Four franchises failed. And in both of those cases, the franchises both got 1 more chance than they probably deserved. So take your pick at which will be next, but chances are high that we will get at least one of Wolverine 2, Deadpool, X-Men First Class, or Magneto. Viva la mutants.