Have Marvel *AND* Warner/DC’s movie plans been revealed and/or challenged… in Albuquerque?

Hey there! Now that we’ve all survive The Holiday, here’s a new one from the “Probably-Nothing-But-Maybe-Everything” file…

AICN has confirmed that a local newspaper, The Albuquerque Journal, ran a story Christmas Eve about some New Mexico area filmming going on for “The Avengers.” The print-only version of the story offhandedly – as though the writer believed it to already be common-knowledge – described the film’s plot… and if what they printed is true (unsourced and as-yet unconfirmed) it’s not only a HUGE reveal for “Avengers” but could also be an impending preview of the all-time biggest, longest-running “feud” between comics’ biggest companies spilling over into Hollywood.

Article and possible-spoilage HERE, details after the jump:

Okay. The article describes the movie thusly: “‘The Avengers” script will blend ‘Iron Man’, ‘Thor’, and ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’ story lines as the Avengers battle with two alien races, the Skrulls and the Kree.”

For those unfamiliar: The Skrulls and The Kree are aliens in the vein of Original Star Trek (think Klingons and Vulcans, roughly) who both started out in Fantastic Four but quickly became “everybody’s problem” universe-wide. Skrulls are oldschool pulp-style Little Green Men (though sometimes not so little) who can shape-shift to disguise themselves as people or animals; Kree are super-advanced and look mostly human, save that the “important” ones come in blue. The two races are in a state of perpetual intergalactic war, which infrequently spills-over onto Earth. Such a spill-over was the subject of the first major multi-issue Avengers epic, “The Kree-Skrull War.” (Which you can find in trade for not much cash here and there, and is a great “intro to superhero epics” book, incidentally.)

The Skrulls being in the movie wouldn’t be a huge surprise. They’re THE big alien-invader threat in Marvel continuity, and a (significantly-less-interesting) version of them were the “big bads” of the first volumes of “The Ultimates” – the grim n’ gritty Avengers reworking that’s purportedly been serving as a rough outline (though thankfully not in terms of design or characterization) for Avengers movie-setup. They also typically figure in the backstory of That POSSIBLE SPOILER from “Captain America” that was shown to Comic-Con audiences. FWIW, I’m very much “with” the school of thought that says a huge threat in the vein of an alien invasion would be the best concievable basis for the world’s first cross-continuity superhero movie-epic; so I’d love to see The Skrulls.

But this is the first I’ve heard anyone ever mention The Kree being in any movie. There’s a reason for that: They haven’t been particularly “important” for years. So why drag them into what’s already a filled-to-bursting project? Other than to get free-press by giving people like me nerdgasms, I mean.

Well, I can think of at least TWO. You may want to get comfy…

The Kree’s main connection to the Marvel Universe is through the character of Captain Marvel – actually a Kree warrior named Mar-Vell (yes, really.) Captain Marvel is unique among longrunning Marvel characters in that his books have remained in publication consistently despite the fact that he’s never been very popular – the Jim Starlin’s work on the character in the 70s and 80s was excellent and attained a cult following, but that’s about it. So why does he still exist at all? Trademark protection.

Short Version: In the 40s, Fawcett Comics published books built around an incredibly popular character also called Captain Marvel. How popular was he? At the time, he was MUCH more popular than his predecessor, Superman (fun fact: Captain Marvel, aka The Big Red Cheese, could actually fly, instead of merely jumping high, before Superman could.) In fact, it’s been argued (rather persuasively) that the character would’ve remained bigger than Superman right up to today… except that DC Comics sued Fawcett (and many others) arguing that various superheroes were ripoffs of Superman. Fawcett lost, stopped published Captain Marvel books and ultimately went out of business. In the 60s, Marvel Comics noted that the now-defunct Fawcett’s trademark on the (still-recognizable) name “Captain Marvel” had run out; and they quickly created the Mar-Vell character in order to snap it up.

Okay, Maybe Not-So-Short Version: In the 70s, DC bought the publication rights to Fawcett’s characters and added them to their universe, creating a copyright-law boondoggle: While DC owns the copyright on the Marvel Family characters, Marvel owns the Captain Marvel name (for legal reasons I don’t fully grasp, DC can call them Captain Marvel, Mary Marvel etc. in dialogue inside the books, but can’t use the word “marvel” on the covers or ANY advertising or merchandise) – meaning that for almost 30 years DC has owned one of the most potentially-profitable superhero characters ever created (seriously, read up on his mythos. Captain Marvel is a family-blockbuster waiting to happen) but are effectively banned from promoting or advertising him. Instead, the “franchise” is marketed under the much less marketing-friendly name “Shazam!,” reffering both to a wizard who gives Captain Marvel his powers and a magic-word that activates them, while Marvel Comics must continually publish some form of a “Captain Marvel” character in their own universe in order to prevent the trademark from lapsing back to DC.

Anyway, over the last few years Warners/DC has been getting more aggressive about promoting their Captain Marvel outside of the comics, most-notably in a truly awesome Justice League episode and a recent DVD Movie. And they’ve been trying to get a movie off the ground for years. If they did, this long-standing “fight” over the name “Captain Marvel” goes Hollywood: Even if the posters have to call it “Something Something of Shazam!” or whatever, a big hit movie could re-establish The Big Red Cheese as the One True Captain Marvel at least as the buying public is concerned – making Mar-Vell even more irrelevant than he already was.

BUT! If The Kree were to actually turn up in “Avengers” – or any Marvel Films project, really – that could potentially mean they’re looking to get their Captain Marvel into theaters first. Is this an indicator of that? Could Marvel Studios be looking to cock-block Warners/DC by slipping Mar-Vell into “Avengers?” It’d certainly be an amusing turn of events.


Mar-Vell also had a distaff counterpart (aka “girl version”), Ms. Marvel, who turned out to be more popular than him and has become an Avengers-family fixture over the last decade and change thanks to a revival by fans-turned-writers. Quick primer: Mar-Vell’s human ladyfriend Carol Danvers gets Mar-Vell style superpowers from a Kree-related accident and becomes what amounts to a Marvel-version of Wonder Woman. For the longest time she was mostly remembered for a truly asinine story in Avengers #200 where she was kidnapped, raped and impregnated with a clone of her supervillain rapist – which then speed-aged into an adult that she fell in love with (really); and for being the character whom power-absorbing X-Men villainess-turned-hero Rogue took her flight and strength powers from.

Marvel has been promoting the hell out of a restored-to-proper-stature (they’ve been trying to walk back from Avengers #200 for decades now) Ms. Marvel by making her a mainstay of the newer Avengers teams; and it seems to have paid off for them in terms of a saleable character. At this point the “Avengers” movie lineup is pretty-much a sausagefest save for Black Widow; so maybe The Kree are a way for famously female-friendly writer/director Joss Whedon to get another Marvel Lady into the franchise? That actually sounds more likely…

Of course, there’s also the THIRD option: That the person writing the story for the Alburquerque Journal googled a bunch of Avengers-related stuff for the article and the Kree/Skrull stuff got mixed in by accident, have nothing actually to do with the movie, and I’ve just wasted a shitload of your and my time.

Happy post-holidays!

Worst. Idea. Ever.

hat-tip: BAD

EA Entertainment, one of the most-powerful (and most-despised) entities in the video-game world is getting into the movie business – setting up a feature film based around one of their popular game series.

“But Bob… EA mostly makes licensed sports titles at this point – how can they make a movie out of any of those!?”

Answer: “The Madden Curse.” No, really.

For those of you lucky enough not to be dialed-in to the annual spectacle of EA’s yearly raking-in of full-priced profit off what amounts to a roster update, every year a new NFL player is selected to grace the cover of “Madden NFL.” As one would expect from this unholy mashup of hardcore-gaming and hardcore-sports-fanaticism, a whole mythology has sprung up around what the cover appearance does to a player’s “luck” – specifically, people think Madden cover-spots are “cursed” and that career-diminishing disaster will strike those unlucky enough to be chosen.

According to The Wrap, that’s where the movie comes in: A “former Madden video-game champion” (so… a gamer as opposed to an actual player?) comes out of retirement because somehow HIS image has wound up somewhere on the box, and “the curse” is now coming for him. Apparently, it’s a comedy.


Is THIS the story of the Spidereboot?

Comicbookmovie has what most are calling a not-terribly-reliable post up supposedly outlining the Spider-Man Reboot. Hopefully phony, because it’s pretty terrible – reading like nothing so much as John Byrne’s “Spider-Man: Chapter One” debacle.

Details (potential spoilers – if they can be called that) after the jump…

The important stuff, briefly:

– No described “origin” scene, but it’s a reboot anyway: high-school setting, new status-quo, loads of flashbacks adding to the backstory, but he’s already Spider-Man as it opens.

– One “named” baddie, Lizard, but references and teases about others. Nels Van Adder and Norman Osborn are onhand but not “powered” as yet.

– New “mission statement” for Spider-Man involving solving cold-cases.

– Flashback-driven “B-Story” involving, as reported previously, Peter Parkers dead parents. The piece is vauge, but they seem to be either spies, cops or some sort of activists.

– Flashbacks and sequel-tease finale set up Osborn as already being the “man behind the curtain” of all the badness, much like he’s been over the past decade of comic continuity.

– Y’know that stupid, ill-advised “twist” they always end up adding to hero/villain relationships like in Burton’s Batman, Daredevil, Spider-Man 3 etc that NEVER works? Yeah, it pulls a version of that.

All or most of this is almost-certainly fake… but whaddaya want, it’s a slow news week.

Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Repealed

It’s a Christmas miracle! Barack Obama and Congressional Democrats actually did something!

The bill still needs to be signed by the President, after which there will be a (likely lengthy) process of the administration’s military leadership “certifying” that servicepeople will not be unduly effected by it (read: if you’re in the army/navy/etc you’ll be taking a tedious “sensitivity training” course and checking off some paperwork sometime next year) and after THAT 60 day waiting period – but eventually it will be, for the first time in American history, possible for gay and lesbian citizens to serve openly in the armed forces…

…you know, like they do almost everywhere ELSE in the civilized world. Hey, America? Remember when we used to do this stuff early!?

Three things stick out about this to me:

1. John McCain, you’re cool-points are hereby taken away. You don’t get the be the one decent Republican anymore.

2. Joe Lieberman… it seriously kills me to have to say this, given how long I’ve had to count you as very close to a literal enemy… but you did good here. You may take a small portion of the cool-points formerly belonging to your friend Senator McCain – subject to immediate revocation the second you open your mouth about video games again, of course.

3. It looks like maybe Scott Brown isn’t going to run for president in 2012, after all. Brown is the Republican senator from Massachusetts who made big news by sweeping into Ted Kennedy’s former seat. He did so partly by feigning in the direction of the make-believe “libertarians” in the Tea Party, then promptly having absolutely nothing to do with them the minute he won. It’s been widely assumed he’s planning a presidential run in the future, and that he may opt to do it sooner than later if Victoria Kennedy (Ted’s widow) challenges him for the seat next election.

What’s significant about that is that any smart political operator (and Brown, an ambitious guy, has plenty of those working for him) knows that A.) any gay-rights victory is going to fuel MASSIVE outrage in the Republicans’ religious-nutcase base and B.) any Republican candidate who wants to make it out of the primaries needs said religious-nutcases to like him. So either Brown (who’s made no secret of his social-liberalism) is hopelessly optimistic about the likely relative-intelligence of voters two years from now OR he’s gonna bide his time and let his good buddy Mitt Romney be the “RINO” that Palin and Huckabee team up to curb-stomp in the 2012 primary, thus ensuring a teabagger-approved candidate and a 2nd term for Obama.

Jessica Jones to TV?

Sez Variety, Marvel/ABC are turning Brian Bendis’ seminal new-millenium mature-audiences Marvel series “Alias” into a TV series. For obvious reasons, it’s been retitled “AKA Jessica Jones.”

This is actually really interesting… but a betting man would have to lay money against it actually working out.

Okay, here’s the thing: The keyword when talking about Marvel or DC characters, even “sideline” ones like Jessica Jones, is insularity. Continuity-driven “universe” comics are insular to the point that certain characters can only exist within them.

Quick example: Batman works on his own. You can yank his origin, m.o. and “look” out of connection to anything else in his or anyone else’s books and “Batman: The Concept” is still unique and holds up. On the other hand, The Punisher – demonstrably – doesn’t. Taken on his own – devoid of connection to anything else in the Marvel Universe – Punisher is just Mack Bolan in a funny shirt, another one of a thousand wronged-urban-vigilantes clogging up the cineplex and Popular Fiction shelf. What makes Punisher interesting as a concept is putting someone like that in the Superhero realm; having a no-nonsense gun-toting vigilante suddenly show up in a world where crimefighting otherwise takes the form of guys in colorful spandex bonking crooks on the head and dropping them off at Police HQ. He’s a genre-commentary character. Metafiction.

So is Jessica Jones.

For the uninitiated, the hook of “Alias” has Jones as a minor/mostly-forgotten (re: retconned into existance) Silver Age superheroine who quit the biz after a particularly horrific encounter with a supervillain (kidnapping, imprisonment, sexual-assault and mind-rape – “Alias” was a mature-audiences-but-still-in-continuity book) who presently works as a private eye. It was a damn good book, and she’s remained a pretty solid character over the last decade in a broad story-arc of her “re-integrating” into the costumed-heroine life.

In other words, she’s another genre-immigrant a’la Punisher: “What’s it like for a standard-issue (if gender-inverted) Spillane-style bitter/jaded/self-hating/scarred gumshoe character to operate in the same world as Spider-Man etc?” That’s pretty much the whole appeal of the book: Having this more “real” character type as a fresh perspective on the usual superhero stuff, and alternately seeing various superpowered types filling the roles of “old buddy,” “best galpal,” “last-minute booty-call,” etc. Take all the Marvel Universe trappings away and, however well written, and there’s not much to differentiate her from, say, Olivia Benson or Kate Beckett, just off the top of my head?

So the question becomes: Exactly how far do they carry this? Would a network “go-ahead” with a prime-time series built around a hard-bitten, all-business female lead… who’s prone to bumping into (and on semi-regular speaking-terms with) caped-crusaders, aliens and all manner of costumed oddities? ABC/Disney and Marvel are under the same roof now, so they could do it and even use (some) of the “real ones” if they did… but would they? “I’m looking into an assault case. Suspects include an unemployed construction worker, a car salesman and a 7’10 Russian hitman dressed like a rhinocerous.” I’d watch it, but would it ever get to air? Or will it just be a Marvel-branded “lady detective” show?