Makes too much sense to be true…

…would be my reaction to this IESB rumor story about the “full” scope of Christopher Nolan’s “shepherding” of future DC Comics superhero movies:

Short version of the rumor(s), in general order:

1.) Nolan directs “Batman 3” and produces the Superman non-sequel/no-reboot currently being called “The Man of Steel.”

2.) Nolan’s brother Johnathan and good-buddy David Goyer are writing both the Batman and Superman films, with an eye on Johnathan Nolan making “Man of Steel” HIS directorial debut.

3.) In addition, Christopher Nolan is ALSO “in charge” (in some capacity, at least) of the currently fast-tracked “Flash” and “Green Lantern” movies, along with the other DC “mainline” hero projects yet to be set up (Wonder Woman? Aquaman?) with an eye on cross-franchise synergy leading up to…

4.) …A franchise-unifying “Justice League” team-up movie to be directed by Nolan AFTER Batman 3 and Superman have come out.


From where I sit, this all makes a little too much sense to be true. See, people tend to forget that the DC characters are in a different situation than the Marvel guys, where the rights are spread among different studios and Marvel is only able to try the current “Avengers” experiment because they’re doing it in-house. DC, on the other hand, is owned lock, stock and barrel by Warner Bros… ALL of it. In other words, the only reason you see or don’t see ANY DC movie is because someone at WB simply said yes or no. They’ve been capable of greenlighting a Justice League movie, a series of crossovers, a Martian Manhunter rom-com, ANYTHING for decades now and have never managed to get their shit together in all that time. The Nolan bros. have a big Dark Knight shaped dick to swing around in Hollywood right now, sure, but I have a hard time believing that even having the current God of Fanboy Reassurance onhand to bless things is enough to suddenly kick everything so completely into place.

Even still, I’d be more “intrigued” to see this work than excited. If the follow-up to TDK, Superman, Flash and the rest are now supposed to be living in the same universe… how exactly does that work? Will the Nolans risk hacking off all the folks who’ve come to worship “Knight’s” steadfast commitment to “gritty realism” by suddenly having “that” Batman hanging out with aliens, speedsters and Amazonian princesses? Or will it be everyone ELSE who has to get refitted into Batman’s world – i.e. will they ALL be sporting underwhelming black robo-armor and chronic laringitis?

Karate Kid remake explains itself

The “international” trailer for the Karate Kid remake (“spiritual successor,” more like) includes dialogue explaining/excusing the problematic title/content dissonance – i.e. the movie is set in CHINA and the “kid” is clearly using/learning KUNG-FU – and otherwise continues the alarming trend of the domestic trailers of looking actually pretty good:

What can I say? I’m liking the unromantic/unvillainous vision of contemporary China, and it looks like Jackie Chan has made a conscious decision to NOT phone this one in. Who knows, anymore…

Speedy Gonzales: The Movie

From the “movies that will suck but will be fascinating to watch develop” department comes this gem, courtesy Hollywood Reporter’s “Heat Vision” blog: The remnants of New Line Cinema are doing a live-action/CGI “Speedy Gonzales” movie, scripted by the writers of “Garfield” and with George Lopez voicing the title character:

Yegh. No es bueno.

The big question hovering over this property was always going to be how they’d deal with the “delicate” matter of ethnic stereotyping. As it turns out, New Line’s solution is to take “delicate” completely out of the equation. Ann Lopez speaks of “George’s “Latino seal of approval.”, which sounds like a flat-out admission that George Lopez is mainly on board as a “firewall” against innevitable criticism. I mean, let’s be real here… Lopez has demonstrated almost no range, no notable skill for voices not his own (and he doesn’t sound like Speedy), has no real following and isn’t all that funny; so why WOULD they hire him but not for the “cred?”

Ann Lopez goes on to say that “We wanted to make sure that it was not the Speedy of the 1950s — the racist Speedy,” which probably tells all that needs be told about how this is being approached. One must, of course, be sensitive to Latino concerns about Hollywood bigotry… but I’ve got to ask if in this case it’s A.) possible and B.) necessary to do anything about this.

The problem with the Speedy cartoons is that they weren’t generally trading in ethnic-caricature in a big, showy, obvious way: The Mexican mice were the good guys, played as happy and wholly functional until bad guys – usually non-Mexican cats, Daffy or Sylvester – showed up to cause trouble. Plus, Speedy himself was a kind of a superhero, who thwarted villains and saved people/mice. The lone running “race joke” is of the ironic-reverse variety: Mexicans are “supposed to be” slow and lazy, so it’s “funny” that the guy who runs fast and has all this energy is Mexican.

Here’s the thing: Do people still “get” that that’s what’s supposed to funny about this character? What I mean is, is this one of those cartoon-caricatures that the march of culture has rendered no longer as “blunt” as it was originally intended? Audiences in the 1950s likely laughed along with the wink-wink-nudge-nudge “irony” of Speedy’s supposed race/behavior dissonance… but did the ‘gag’ still hold in the 60s, 70s and 80s, or did Speedy just become “guy who runs fast, happens to be Mexican?”

My generation grew up watching “DuckTales,” just for one example, and I doubt that any great percentage of us were especially cogniscent that Uncle Scrooge McDuck was a dated racial-caricature of a cheapskate Scotsman. Is this where Speedy is, or is there still genuine offense to be had? I suppose I should ask: Latino readers, IS there a “consensus” on Speedy Gonzales in Latino culture? Is it positive? Negative?

In any case, I doubt the movie version will have any room for Speedy’s cousin, Slowpoke Rodriguez…

Captain America casting…

…is probably a few weeks or less away, given that they’re now making casting shortlists public. Deadline Hollywood had the main list, which primarily included Chace Crawford, John Krasinski, Scott Porter, Mike Vogel, Michael Cassidy and Patrick Flueger:

So… mostly TV actors under 30, which makes a certain inevitable sense when you’re “deal” is a $300,000 payday conditional on signing up for NINE MORE MOVIES plus the first one. Still, since none of them are square-jawed, barrel-chested, world-weary men who look like idealized daddy-figures (or Alex Ross paintings, same thing really) cue fan consternation… now 😉

Guys… can’t we save time on these things at this point? Insert-superhero-here is NOT going be and will NEVER BE played by Bruce Campbell, Nathan Fillion, John Hamm, or whoever is “anachronistically masculine semi-famous actor of the moment.” (Apparently Neal McDonough is a fan fave for Cap, too, presumably because he’s… blonde?) Just repeat that to yourself every time a new franchise announced, and it’ll make everything smoother. Here, you can start practicing now: Shane Black is going to write and direct the “Doc Savage” movie… NONE of those guys are going to be Doc Savage. See? Easy.

Meanwhile, Cinematical says that “sources” claim Krasinski essentially has the part, which would be… interesting, to say the least:

For what it’s worth, Krasinski has a tangential connection to the production already: His fiancee is Emily Blunt, who just made “The Wolfman” with director Joe Johnston.

Anyway, while I’m here, here’s what I want to know: Is Bucky Barnes in this movie? And as a follow-up: Why is no one asking this but me?

Spidey’s Creek story of the day 2/19/10

From the beginning, Sony Pictures’ hoped-for “fan salve” regarding the rapidly-developing “Spider-Man” reboot has been to tout it’s supposed similarity to Brian Michael Bendis’ “Ultimate Spider-Man” comics, which took a similar “send him back to school and start over” approach to the character with tremendous (financial) success as a result.

Now, apparently, it’s looking like they’re doing more than blowing smoke: Latino Review reports that Bendis has been tweeting about spending some time with the reboot’s producers:

This is… interesting, if there’s anything at all to it.

I’m in the minority when it comes to “Ultimate Spider-Man” – it just never grabbed me. The whole “Ultimate” line comes with it’s own built-in defense in these cases: Anyone who doesn’t get into it is just “pissy” about tossing out long-term continuity or whatnot. Me, I just never cared for Bendis’ approach to the character – overly drawn-out and tiresomely “hip.” I actually like Bendis better when he’s doing “event” books, possibly because the nature of the format FORCES him to actually have things happen.

In any case, like him or not it makes A LOT of sense that Sony would go to him – even if it’s just to get a “fan favorite” Marvel writer to “bless” the franchise in an attempt to brush-off fan outrage – since Bendis’ Spidey-approach is more or less EXACTLY what Sony is looking for: Light on action, heavy on inter-character-angst and quippy dialogue.

Percy Jackson & The Cumbersomely-Lengthy Title

Evidently, Rick Riordan’s “Percy Jackson” young-adult books haven’t “broken through” with adults and older teens to the same degree that “Harry Potter” or even “Eragon” did (full-disclosure: I’ve not read them, myself) – otherwise I imagine it’s movie adaptation would’ve been a bigger deal in the realm of movie-geek web buzz: Handily summarized as a more action-oriented “Potter” with Greek Mythology in place of witchcraft and playing out like mashup of Jonny Quest and “The Mighty Thor,” (come to think of it… anyone following Marvel’s Amadeus Cho/”Incredible Hercules” story would, I’m thinking, LOVE this) it’s the sort of movie I can fully see myself considering “the coolest thing EVER” as a gradeschooler – as it is, I was shocked at how enjoyable I found it now. It’s really solid fantasy/actioner, absolutely worth checking out especially if you’ve any fancy for repurposed Greek mythos.

Broadly, it’s an “ordinary troubled boy is actually special” superhero origin-story. The basic idea is that the Olympian Gods (Zeus etc.) are still around and still in the habit of fooling around with mortals, frequently – as before – resulting in the birth of super-powered “demigods.” Said demigods go about incognito, while the rest of the Hellenistic bestiary (minotaurs, titans, hydras… damn, but I LIVE for this stuff) slinks around on the margins of the “modern” world. As one-stop foundations for a “world of super-beings” go, I’ve heard worse.

Main character Percy Jackson happens to be the son of Poseidon, which makes him a gifted swimmer and able to telekinetically-manipulate water. That second part, along with his lineage, he’s largely unaware of – to say nothing of how many people in his circle of friends and relations are secretly-magical helpers keeping an eye on him. He gets clued in as the plot steps on the gas: Someone stole Zeus’ (Sean Bean) lightning bolt, which is the sort of thing that Wars of The Gods get started over. For some reason, Percy is suspect #1, so he has to get schooled in his true nature sooner than expected – spirited away to a summer camp dedicated to molding demigods into modern-day Hercules.

The plot contrives to send Percy and a pair of sidekicks on a fetch-quest to Hades, necessitating a magic object scavenger hunt through the various modern-day hangouts of mythic bad-guys. Kids (or adults, speaking for myself) familiar with the mythology in question are going to love these bits, since they’ll catch the references earlier: One detour lands them in one of those chauncy roadside landscaping shops where you can buy tacky statues for the garden… lots of statues, come to think of it… Guess who. The cleverest – and most obscure – bit involves a Vegas casino, and feels like something Terry Gilliam would’ve popped into a Baron Munchausen sequel.

A big part of the charm is how – despite doing the Thor/80s-Fantasy-in-general thing of staging mythic dustups in modern urbania – defiantly “traditional” it treats the mythic stuff in the visual sense: The monsters all look (and “work”) like they’re generally supposed to, and there’s no attempt to update or rationalize the Olympian Gods themselves – they appear as you’d expect: Giant-scale humanoids stomping around marble temples in togas and sandals. Even Zeus’ bolt appears, literally, as a sparking shaft of lightning you can hold like a staff.

It does have most of the same problems that similar “trying to start a franchise” movies have, along with it’s maddeningly silly full title “Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief.” Most of the non-main characters are forced to introduced themselves, explain their entire backstory, motivation, arc and then promptly excuse themselves with a casual wave of “bye for now, I’ll probably be important two or three movies from now.” But I will say that it’s much less clumsy about this than, say, the first two “Potter’s” (with whom it shares director Chris Columbus) were.

I’m not going to call it a rush-out-and-see sort of thing, but I dug it – and I’d definately be curious to see where it’s all supposed to be going. I do have to wonder, though, if the makers of “Clash of The Titans” and “Thor” are at all annoyed that a bunch of their likely setpiece scenes and “big ideas” are already being done here…