And Your New SUPERMAN Is…

Henry Cavill, late of “The Tudors.” So sez Deadline. A strapping, square-jawed Caucasian brunette? Who’d a’ thunk? Anyway, this marks Cavill’s first major franchise “get” after having previously been an also ran for the same part in “Superman Returns,” along with Batman and James Bond. Google’s got headshots galore kids, so… LET THE PHOTOSHOPPING BEGIN!!!

For those keeping track, the planned feature is a seperate entity from the Richard Donner/Bryan Singer/etc continuity; with a top-secret story by David Goyer, “overseen” by Christopher Nolan (“hey Chris, can the Superman guys borrow some of your fan-rage-proof armor?”) and directed by Zack Snyder. Of all of them, it’s Snyder’s involvement I’m most excited for – the guy jumps in with both feet, doesn’t know the meaning of “unfilmmable” and lacks the phobia of compositional-beauty that afflicts so many of his contemporaries. Plus, if it’s even 1/10th as good as “Watchmen” was… damn.

Trivia: This makes “Avengers” the only 2012 American superhero movie (out of 4) without a British actor feigning an American accent in the lead – Cavill, Christian Bale and Andrew Garfield are all Brits.


So… how does Tom Hooper, formerly the director of the superlative “John Adams” miniseries, currently director of “The Kings Speech” – possibly the blandest, safest, most staid (increasingly-prospective) Oscar Juggernaut since… I dunno, “Out of Africa?”pull a “surprise” upset at the DGAs  for said overblown A&E special over the heavily-favored David Fincher?

Search me, but it’s a pretty unpleasant turn of events – yes, even for Hooper to some extent, who’s actually pretty talented (see: “John Adams”) and now gets to have a 21st Century “WTF” equivalent to “Driving Miss Daisy” hung on him. If I had to take a stab at it, the probable answer is that MOST of the Directors Guild is comprised of paycheck-to-paycheck “journeyman” TV guys, which is precisely what Hooper has been up to this point, so there’s a hometown-boy-makes-good angle.

The takeaway, of course, is that given this, the similar Producers Guild win and the fact that it’s a big-cast “actor’s film” you can pretty-much pencil-in “Speech” as this year’s Best Picture Oscar winner which is… simultaneously meaningless and blood-boiling, so… whatever.


A few decades back, when the British Museum System started to give in to international outcry to begin returning historical artifacts initially “discovered” and transported under less-than-legitimate legality to their countries of origin, one of the principal arguments against said returns was that various nations in – for example – Asia, Africa and the Middle-East were too unstable to “trust” with the safekeeping of priceless treasures of human history.

This argument was largely dismissed as self-justifying hyperbole couched in racism and cultural-bigotry; and honestly that was probably the correct response. “I’m better than the person I stole from, so I DESERVE the stolen goods more” is a pretty bad defense in any circumstance, and folks who’d make it pretty-much self-identify as total bastards by doing so.

So… how much does it SUCK that, now that the unfolding clusterfuck in Egypt has predictably led to the desecration of priceless antiquities… those aforementioned bigoted bastards would probably have more than a little cause to say “told ya so?”

Yeah, I’m “that guy” who doesn’t really get “torn up” over stuff like this until Museums and cultural-treasures start getting destroyed. Y’know that “heroic” scene in “Volcano” where the guy is chastising the rescue team for trying to save “a buncha paintings and stuff” instead of “the people?” Out of the whole ridiculous movie, that’s the part that makes me roll my eyes the most. In the comments section, someone will make the (very sincere) argument that worth of historical art-treasures is nothing compared to “the fight against oppression” or “a poverty-stricken people”… yeah, I know that’s how I’m “supposed” to see the world – but I don’t. Not really.

Obviously, in the abstract, I’m for “the little guy” and against dictatorships and autocrats… but in all honesty, like the thoroughly-detached, media-placated Ugly American that I am I’m unable to summon much more than a that’s-too-bad about the plight of the protesting Egyptian citizenry – whoever the good guys are, I hope they win and I don’t want to see any (more) people die needlessly, that’s about what I can muster. On the other hand… the idea of Mubarak falling, a Muslim Brotherhood-backed theocracy filling the vacuum a’la the Taliban and the Pyramids, Sphinx etc winding up like The Bamiyan Buddhas? THAT makes me literally shake with indignation. “Things” can win out over “people” with me, on a case by case basis. That’s who I am, and I accept it.

Anyway… it got me thinking about one of my favorite “why don’t more people know about this?” pieces of 20th Century history; and how much we could use a version of it today. How many of you have heard of “The Monument Men?”

Basically, during WWII the Allies were assissted by a U.S. Government-initiated group of art and history experts culled from the upper-echelons of the University and Museum community (y’know, those terrible “elites” you hear so much about) in the preservation of Europe’s art treasures during and after the war effort. They’re best known for helping to identify, secure and reclaim the stolen artwork caches of the Nazis, but they had active-combat functions as well. My favorite: When the Allies bombed Nazi-occupied Florence, they built tactics partially around detailed maps and coordinates provided by Monument Men to avoid damaging the city’s priceless landmarks. This was very much an of-it’s-time phenomenon – it existed because concerned art historians made the case for such an undertaking to the government, and men like FDR and Eisenhower agreed – it’s the first time in modern (or pretty much ANY) record that an Army had been instructed to include the preservation of art and cultural treasues as part of their standing orders.

Two thoughts always occur to me about this, in order. First: Why the HELL was this never the plot of an “Indiana Jones” sequel?? Second: Can you IMAGINE the outcry if anyone proposed such a thing today? The wailing and gnashing of teeth from both the reflexively art-hating, “no spending!!!” Right and the “you’re spending it on paintings… what about the PEOPLE!!!???” Left?

Oscar Nominations

So, “the narrative” of this year’s Oscar race – because there always is one – is Young vs. Old or, rather, Analog vs. Digital: “The King’s Speech,” a solid but utterly unremarkable film you could none the less sell, unedited, as the ultimate parody of formula Oscar Bait vs. “The Social Network,” a film whose subject matter, editing/directing style and even principal-cast may as well have just stepped out of a flying-saucer as far as much of The Academy is concerned.

That’s not to say that it’s ONLY between those two films, at least not yet, but that’s The Narrative. See also: Christopher Nolan snubbed for Best Director (EASILY the biggest outrage of the year – “Inception” DEFINES “director’s movie” the same way “Speech” does “actor’s movie”) and Daft Punk being shut out of a Best Score nod for “Tron: Legacy” – thus denying TV audiences worldwide the fun of seeing two guys in Power Rangers helmets sitting among the swells in crowd-shots… although it’s not entirely surprising, can you imagine The Academy’s half-mummified voter-base listening to the tracks, futzing with their player and wondering where all that electronic-distortion is coming from and where the “music” is? Honestly, “Tron” being shut-out of the art and FX categories in general is pretty glaring no matter what you think of the overall film.

Also snubbed: Edgar Wright, Mila Kunis, and probably some more I’ll think of later.

"I was an insect who dreamed of being a jogger… but now the dream is over"

Y’know what sucks about having over-developed foresight? The fact that it only seems to work in regards to the fate of ill-concieved movie projects. I can’t call the Lottery or win a card game to save my life, but are you wondering who or what to short on the Hollywood Stock Exchange? Cuz if so, I’m your man.

The GOOD thing about it? I’m typically through with the stages of fanboy-outrage and into “acceptance” (or, rather, “whatever”) pretty quick. Case in point: I find myself unable to summon the energy to give a damn about, say, J.J. Jameson being left out of The SpideReboot – yeah, kinda dissapointing in theory; but I kinda used up all my surplus-irritation for this mess back when they announced it, so every new detail just hits me with a middling sense of “lousy-sounding movie sounds slightly lousier, we’ll find out next year.”

Case in point: This weekend’s meh-inducing panic-button were the above-pictured spy-snaps of Andrew Garfield’s stuntman wearing a “stunt version” of the new Spidey-Suit, giving us a (sort-of) first look at the full design and the new mask. (The metal “spats” on the feet are probably to help the stunt-guy run, instead of a “real” part of the costume.)

It’s not substantially more “revealing” than the first official shot from last week, nor is there any significant newness worth writing home about. They’ve gone with much smaller eyes, mainly, and you can more clearly see the how much more “busy” the design is: The blue parts are “broken up” into segments by lines, the strips of red up the arms is super-thin to the point of looking like racing-stripes and there are “matching” ones going down the back of the legs. You can also see that the interior of the gloves has blue fingers. Still immediately recognizable, but like I said… “busier.” I’ll be honest: I think all the extra detailing is kinda ugly-looking. Devin over at BAD thinks it looks like Ben Reilly’s version from the books, which it sorta does and which is perversely appropriate.

What I DO hope this view of a harshly-lit, non-“battle-damaged” version of it does it put to rest this bullshit meme that this version looks more “home-made” than the one from the earlier films. No, it doesn’t. It’s same style with the same fabric-pattern and even the same raised-webs. Neither of them look anything like something a teenager can make in his house, neither has any live-action Spider-Man suit ever filmmed except the wrestling-costumed from the first one, maybe. And for that matter… why would anyone want it to? In a movie where a guy becomes a superhero – as opposed to a cancer patient – from a radioactive spider-bite, is the sewing skill really where you hinge the suspension of disbelief?

BREAKING: David E Kelley Announces Plan to Brutally Mangle 70 Year-Old Woman, NBC Agrees to Broacast Footage of Event

My impetus for doing that “Big Picture” episode about Wonder Woman was the then-recent “WTF?” news about wacky-lawyer afficionado David E. Kelley pitching a TV show “reimagining” of her; and I wound up having the benefit (in terms of newsworthiness) of the piece actually airing right in the midst of said pitch apparently being turned down by… well, everyone. Myself, I took that as a lucky break – partly for the bit of extra attention (re: google results) it probably garnered my show but MOSTLY because it sounded like we’d dodged the bullet of what smelled like a pretty bad idea.

Well, not so fast.

Sez Deadline, NBC is picking up the project – seemingly based on the positive reception of Kelley’s new Kathy Bates vehicle, “Harry’s Law.” This will come as great news for fans who’ve been wondering where their fix of awful television tangentially based on DC Comics properties was going to come from once “Smallville” ends.

Y’know… these days, reporting on the development of “geek properties” into movies produces no feeling so strongly as temporal-whiplash: One moment it’s like your living in some kind of movie-nerd wish-dream utopia where Rot Lop Fan is turning up in a “Green Lantern” movie or there’s a five-film inter-continuity buildup for a live-action “Avengers” epic… and then the next moment your zapped into some kind of living-parody of the worst excesses of “Catwoman”-level bastardizations where you hear stuff like this:

“The project is described as a reinvention of the iconic D.C. comic in which Wonder Woman — aka Diana Prince — is a vigilante crime fighter in L.A. but also a successful corporate executive and a modern woman trying to balance all of the elements of her extraordinary life.”

So… Kelley wanted to do a version of his well-worn basic schtick but with a currently-trendy superhero twist (“Ally McBatman,” essentially) and seized on the most “everybody knows” female hero for a name, is the impression I’m getting from this. That, or he’s doing the best meta-parody of adaptations that rip everything remotely unique or interesting out of their source-material. Delightful.

Likely trajectory: Makes it to the air, widely-panned, brief period of grasping-at-straws by fandom at minor slices of DC-fanservice shoved into later episodes, canceled after one season if that (like “Smallville” would’ve been were it airing on a real network,) DVD boxset for the discount bin, eternal life as a punchline for fans and comic-writers, go-to “better than” barometer for whoever finally bites the bullet and makes a proper movie out of the character.