Fantastic Four Movie Pitch

fantastic four return 4 marvel cinematic universe movie pitch peggy carter 1970s dr doom peyton reed banner john krasinski

Okay, so. I’m writing the introduction to this before I’ve actually gotten around to seeing the new Fantastic Four movie yet, but it seems like it is in fact really, really bad. And that’s a shame, actually, because I’ve been defending it for months, on the basis that no-one had actually seen it yet. But people have now seen it, and it’s hard to argue with 9% on Rotten Tomatoes. I’ll go and watch it soon, and add in my thoughts to the post then.

(Oh. I actually really, really enjoyed it. With a few reservations and all, but generally, I thought it was a lot better than it’s reputation suggests – not perfect by any means, but far from the abysmal movie people are suggesting. I actually wouldn’t reboot it, if given the option, but I’ve committed to this now.)

Anyway, I figured that it might be a good idea to do for Fantastic Four what I did for Spider-Man – a pitch for a reboot. We’ll assume, for a moment, that it’s going to end up in the MCU continuity, simply because that sort of mental gymnastics is a little more fun, but it could be easily done as a standalone.

On the Setting

Probably not something you’d expect to be immediately most important, but I figured it’d be worth putting this one first, because it has a fairly significant impact on the rest of the movie.

This particular Fantastic Four movie is going to be set in the middle of the Cold War. The lines are going to blur a little, since we’re obviously departing from established history a little (what with the Superheroes and all), but we’re looking at a slightly fictionalised 60s/70s, where we’ve still got that period of detente, but things are a little more tense than they were in reality – one particular Eastern European nation, by the name of Latveria, is stirring up trouble…

(The benefit of going back to the 70s is twofold; it provides a distinct visual style, which sets this film apart from others of its ilk, and it’s also going to help me with Dr. Doom, as you’ll see in a minute…)

On the Origins

Here, admittedly, I’m running into trouble. I’m caught between a couple of things – on the one hand, I want to skip the origins. An opening credits that’s a sort of mash up between that of Spider-Man 2 and The Incredible Hulk, where we see news articles and secret files on both the Fantastic Four and Latveria’s place in the Cold War, seems essentially perfect. Everyone knows the origin story, and they don’t particularly seem to like new angles on it, so it might well be best to just sort of get it over and done with. As much as I’d like to open the movie with scenes of Reed and Ben, or explore immediate reactions to their accident, it’s been done recently, and to fairly poor reaction.

So, actually, yeah, we’re going to go with the title credits. We’ll see the four astronaut/scientists doing their bit in the Space Race, getting hit by cosmic rays, and Latveria making a nuisance of itself all relayed through a series of clever news broadcasts and clippings and etc. The movie can continue on after that with a quick action sequence – Johnny Storm taking out a nuclear missile or something – before we come up with our inciting incident.

Now… slight departure from the comics, here, but stay with me on this. I’m going to attach the Fantastic Four to a government agency, and essentially make them spy type people. If it’s the MCU, it’d be SHIELD, with a cameo from Peggy Carter; if it’s still Fox, then just some generic agency.

On the Plot

What, exactly, does SHIELD want with the Fantastic Four on this occasion? Well, they’ve been hearing rumours and rumblings about the dictator of Latveria, one Dr Victor von Domashev, having unlocked a secret power. The suggestion is that this is some form of magic – Reed is skeptical, but the others shoot this down with relative ease. (”Magic isn’t real, that’s impossible.” “Well, so are we.” “Point taken.”) Again, if it’s the MCU, you can tie in Peggy’s concerns with Red Skull and the Tesseract and the like, but that’s not essential.

The bulk of the movie, then, is a bit of an espionage thriller with the Fantastic Four. You’d spend a lot of time in Latveria, meeting the oppressed populace, getting to know what things are like. Eventually, there would be a confrontation with Doom at the end of the movie. The Fantastic Four can stop his specific plan on that particular day, but due to the complexities of diplomatic immmunity, and the fact that he’s leader of an entire country, means they can’t exactly depose him entirely.

Leaving us with one very angry dictator, bearing a grudge against the Fantastic Four, who’s entirely ready to come back and fight again another day…

On the Characters

Reed Richards: We’ve already established that Reed is going to be openly skeptical of magic (which will provide us with a nice running gag), but I’m actually going to take that a step further and say that part of the reason he’s here is because he wants to believe in magic, because he wants to try and use it to help cure his friends. He’s exhausted all the possibilities open to him with conventional science as he knows it, but he’s determined to do something for his friends, so this is what he’s looking into now. That’s what motivating him throughout: pursuit of a cure.

Ben Grimm: So, something that presents itself to me as being an interesting possibility to explore is the fact that Ben is Jewish. (He also turns into what is essentially a literal Golem, but I don’t know a huge amount about Golems, so I’ll avoid any sweeping statements there.) Anyway, so. Let’s say, then, that either his parents or an uncle and aunt were killed in the Holocaust; Grimm has got a fairly personal reason to want to stop dangerous dictators in their tracks. This is a fairly basic starting point, admittedly, and you’d have to be sure to keep this subtle rather than heavy handed, but it does appear to fit in with the film, and it provides a little more diversity to the movie, which is always nice.

Sue Storm: I think with Sue… okay, right. Here’s the basic arc I’ve got in mind: This is all taking place in the first year of their accident, we’ll say, so even though they’ve got their powers and etc, they aren’t necessarily settled as a group. Sue in particular in going to have reservations – she’ll go to Latveria and do this because Peggy asked, but it’s not exactly something she’d have chosen to do. Her experience in Latveria is going to change her mind, basically – when she interacts with the people, she sees the good they’re able to do, and realises that their little group is in fact a positive thing. She of all them becomes determined to stop Doom, because of the friends she makes amongst the Latverian people.

Johnny Storm: This probably wouldn’t necessarily be something he’s comfortable with, would it? He’s not really the type who’d be into skulking about in secrecy, and would probably prefer to take on Doom directly. For Johnny, there’s going to be tensions between his brash nature, and he necessities of the mission that they’re on. You’d maybe have an action set piece at some point in the middle wherein Johnny gets frustrated, tries to save someone rather than keeping a low profile, and almost brings the whole thing crashing down around them.

One thing that is important to emphasise (and you’ll do it by contrasting them against the other characters you see in the movie) is that these four people are very much a family. That’s their angle, the thing that should set them apart from other superheroes.

On Doctor Doom & Latveria

Okay, so, here’s the thing. I can’t take the name “Doctor Doom” seriously. Yes, as an alias, sure. But not as an actual literal name. Sorry.

So, what we’re going with is Doctor Victor von Domashev, nicknamed “Doctor Doom” by the oppressed populace of Latveria, who we’d learn a fair amount about. That’s actually how I’m planning on conveying the level of threat from Doom – we’re going to withhold showing him particularly, apart from occasional glimpses, and really build him up through the stories told by the people of Latveria. It might be nice to build a deliberate contrast between his public face (the learned man, the Doctor) and the impact of the harsh dictator that we actually see.

As the Four journey through Latveria (I guess looking for someone in particular? Some of the specifics aren’t quite there yet) they’re going to be spending time in houses and village communes and so on, and we’ll meet some Latverian families fairly intimately. Maybe at one point, Ben and Johnny can get swept up in the resistance movement, leading Reed and Sue to have to try and find them. Essentially, they’re going to be doing something not dissimilar to Martha Jones in Last of the Time Lords. Maybe you can steal the sea shanty bit from Turn Left with the Cossolantos, too – we can get to really know and like these people, before brutally murdering them! (Apologies if you don’t understand the Doctor Who references. Look them up!)

On the powers

The magic of Doom is, admittedly, something I’m not entirely certain of how to manage. I’d lean towards leaving it unexplained – make it a deliberate mystery, and that can provide a bit of tension throughout.

With the rest of the Four you can leave it as is, really, albeit perhaps with a few changes. It might, for example, provide a nice set of scenes if Sue is able to make people/things invisible too through contact with her – that doesn’t feel like too much of stretch, given that her clothes usually turn invisible too – and I’d like it if Reed’s powers were made a little weirder and more nonspecific. He’s not just stretchy, he’s malleable. So he can do things like becoming a parachute (a la The Incredibles), or he can get out of a cell by flattening himself and sliding under the door, or he can stretch his features to morph his face a little.

Also! I happened to read an old ‘leaked plot outline’ from the recent Fantastic Four movie recently- the outline was incorrect, but it did have an interesting idea about Johnny Storm’s heat powers. He’d change colour to signify how hot he was. I actually think that’s a pretty cool idea – he wouldn’t be green or anything like that, but rather than just one shade of orange, you’d have him changing between red hot, or blue-y flame, or white hot, and so on and so forth. I think you could potentially build something quite interesting out of that.

On the Franchise

So, then. Where does this particular movie aim to go? Trilogies seem to be the thing people aim for, don’t they?

I’m not sure where I’d take the movie after this. Obviously, I’m leaving deliberate threads dangling to return to with Doom, given that they can’t depose him (yet?) and he’ll inevitably bear a grudge against the Four (and particularly Richaaaaards!).

Part of me feels like Galactus and suchlike don’t quite fit the tone of this, if we’re going for 70s set in the MCU. It’s the sort of thing that you’d expect o have had a big impact on the state of the world, but obviously didn’t, given that we’ve seen the pre-existing current day set movies that obviously haven’t been through a visit from Galactus. Something that could be interesting, though, is if by Phase 5 or whatever, Marvel is more confident with skipping back and forth through their timeline, you’d have the Silver Surfer confront the Four, which is set up for a subsequent Avengers movie featuring Galactus? That has legs as an idea, I think.

If they do get to a third movie (which would feature the return of Doom), though, I think the important thing is for Reed to be able to cure his friends, as a culmination of their arc. Or, at the very least, to give Ben the ability to turn his power on and off. (”Rock on!”) That’s rather important to me – gaining those powers is such a massive upheaval to their lives, and Reed wouldn’t ever give up searching for a cure, even if the others had accepted their powers.

You know, I think this is a rather strong basis for a film franchise. Any thoughts?

Note from 2018: This was written from a probably fairly shallow understanding of the characters, and I don’t know exactly how much I agree with all this now anyway.

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Film Review | Fantastic Four (2015)

fantastic four movie review 2015 fant4stic josh trank michael m jordan miles teller jamie bell kate mara fox marvel mcu

Hmm.

Okay. So. At the minute, this movie is on something like 9% on Rotten Tomatoes. (Wait, no, I just checked. Actually, it’s 8%.) The general consensus that the movie is “Dull and downbeat, this Fantastic Four proves a woefully misguided attempt to translate a classic comic series without the humor, joy, or colorful thrills that made it great.”

And, so, I thought that was a shame. Because I’ve been defending the movie for ages – whenever someone would complain about the trailer, I’d say that I actually thought it looked quite good (I did) and that it was probably too early to make any pre-judgments (it was). But that obviously became increasingly more difficult to maintain, especially as all the news of the troubled production came out. By the time Miles Teller was making excuses for the movies poor reviews, I’d essentially given up on it.

Thus I decided to go and watch it and basically just mock it. Mean spirited, I guess. But it’s kinda fun to sit and make jokes while watching bad movies – that’s why things like Sharknado exist. I was all set for a pretty awful movie, essentially.

So imagine my surprise when I actually really enjoyed it.

And I do mean I really, really enjoyed it. I thought it was excellent. The body horror angle was something that’s not really been explored before in the recent glut of Superhero movies (at least, not that I can think of) and I found that really interesting – beyond Ben Grimm’s general sort of “gosh it sure does suck to be a rock”, I’d never really thought about how scary and different it would be for these four people. It was an aspect that I genuinely believed worked really well, and I think they did an alright job of giving each character different reactions to it.

Obviously, it was not perfect. It was muddled in places, and I think the resolution was a little rushed. They had quite a few good character moments, I think, but they definitely needed quite a few more – I don’t think Reed and Ben ever really finished their arc, for example, and Sue definitely could have had her role increased. There just needed to be a little bit more to it – it’d have been nice to fill that “one year later” gap, rather than skipping right over it. (Also! At the beginning, when we see them as kids, Ben should have said “I want to be the second man to travel to a different dimension”, and that’s the beginning of their friendship.) You could tell that the actual production had been rushed; I think maybe the script needed another pass (if you never brought anything back, Sue, how did you have that extra dimensional dust?) and I do wonder how the film worked before the final last minute excisions were made.

Certainly, the “One Year Later” cut should have been reworked – given that the body horror aspect is reliant on their reactions to the changes they went through, I think it’s self evident that we needed to see more of their reactions to their powers. The initial fear was was well done, and I didn’t even have that much problem with the way they were shown to feel after the time jump, but I think the movie would have been a lot stronger had we seen the transition from point A to point B.

Overall, though, I think it’d give it, say, a 7/10, maybe? Possibly I could be lead to give it a higher mark, actually. Really, I thought it was that good…

…to the point that I’m actually questioning all the other reviews. Because I can understand hardcore fans of the comics taking issue with the movie – it is a very different angle from which to interpret the source material, and I know that a lot of comic fans wouldn’t be interested in that sort of thing. Equally though, a lot of them would, simply because it’s new and different and often there are merits to that sort of thing. More to the point, I’m surprised that so many casual movie goers and critics are reacting against this – in theory, it’s tailored quite well to them, given that it’s got some key differences to the majority of other superhero movies. It seems directly tailored to combat that idea of super hero movie fatigue that everyone drags out every so often.

Presumably for a lot of people this is their Man of Steel – a movie I totally and utterly hated, because I felt like it was just… well, bad. It didn’t feel like a Superman movie to me. It came across as poorly written and – well, actually, I’d say it matches up to this fairly well: “Dull and downbeat, this Fantastic Four proves a woefully misguided attempt to translate a classic comic series without the humor, joy, or colorful thrills that made it great.” Except, y’know, Man of Steel rather than Fantastic Four.

But I felt like this worked. I mean, my Fantastic Four knowledge is about the same as my Superman knowledge, and I’m probably better acquainted with those characters than I am with Superman. Broadly I felt like they were better served by this film than Superman was by Man of Steel.

Man of Steel, though, was controversial at least. There are enough people on either side of the debate that it’s still going on. But with Fantastic Four, there isn’t even a debate.

All of which is leading me to think that maybe my personal taste is a weird and idiosyncratic thing. (After all, Cars 2 is the only movie I’ve ever enjoyed enough to watch in the cinema twice.)

So, to sum up. Fantastic Four had a lot of genuinely very interesting ideas in play, and I think it needs to get a lot more credit for those ideas than it has so far. It was not perfect, and I think had it had a longer development time, then it would likely have come out as an overall stronger movie. As it is, though, I enjoyed it a lot, and it deserves a far better reputation than it has.

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Film Trailer Thoughts | Deadpool (2016)

deadpool trailer reaction marvel ryan reynolds david leitch tim miller

Hmm okay.

I don’t actually exactly know why I’m posting about this, because apart from being thinly connected to superheroes, this isn’t really a movie I’d typically be interested in. Never really been into Deadpool, but I’m aware of the basic concept. Not exactly a fan of the humour on display, nor one for overly violent films. Maybe everything I’m about to say now is going to be based on a total misunderstanding of the character, or just my tastes not really intersecting with what the character is.

Basically, though, it doesn’t look very good to me. Schlocky violence, whilst not my thing, is pretty easily justified, but it’s the jokes that stood out more to me. As I understand it, Deadpool is meant to be a fairly funny character, and part of the humour comes from meta references. And, you know, fine – that sort of “not green or animated” joke is probably the sort of thing I am the target for, given that I’ll understand it, and I’m already broadly inclined to like self referential humour. The worry was, though, that they’re simply setting themselves up for a pretty niche market, because if the film gets bogged down in that sort of thing, it’s not going to be accessible for many people.

I guess… essentially it’s meant to be a comedic deconstruction of comic book movies, with added violence, but the comedy comes from self referential humour and puerile sex jokes. That seems to be it, then.

But it’s probably unfair of me to just judge it by the trailer like that though. This isn’t the plot trailer, it’s the “introduce people to the character” trailer. (Though, you know, involved nerd jokes, violence and sex references seems to be the extent of the character as is set up…) It’s almost certain there’s going to be more going on in the rest of the film, obviously.

This is probably a film that is going to be really well recieved by a specific audience (Deadpool fans), have an okay ish reception from everyone else, and probably make back it’s money, but not enough to be considered majorly profitable.

Still, I could be wrong. And here’s hoping I am – it’s always nice to have more good movies.

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Film Review | Ant-Man (2015)

ant man paul rudd evangeline lily michael douglas peyton reed edgar wright poster review marvel cinematic universe

I watched this today! It was a rather excellent movie. Lots and lots to like about it. Very funny; I think one my favourite jokes was towards the end, when Michael Peña’s character was giving the second tip, and he started talking about the art he liked. It amused me, because normally the joke would be “this guy doesn’t get art”, but it’s subverted when he goes off on a tangent about how he prefers one artist over another. Very good. Lots of excellent jokes.

Also! I particularly liked the shift to the legacy orientated way of looking at things. One of the more interesting superhero concepts, which isn’t really explored so much, is the fact that mantles often are passed on. Because the movies tend to start with the “original” character, rather than their successors, we haven’t seen that yet – it’s entirely possible, though, we might yet see Anthony Mackie or Sebastian Stan becoming Captain America at some point in the future.

Anyway, though, I digress. (Wasn’t Anthony Mackie very cool as Falcon?) I quite liked the fact that we saw Hank Pym passing on the mantle of the Ant-Man to Scott Lang – it wasn’t perfectly done, but it was quite well handled, I felt. I’m hoping that, eventually, whenever we next see Ant-Man, we see Hank and Scott, to further this mentor relationship.

But, on the other hand, the flaws were very much apparent in the film. I’m not sure whether this is because of the films troubled development, or just some general flaws, but whatever.

First up is going to be Darren Cross, AKA Yellowjacket. In the run up to this film, the question of weak/underdeveloped Marvel villains has been floating around a fair bit, so the question was closer to the forefront of my mind while I was watching this than usual. Aaand… I mean, I understand the basic idea of wanting to focus on the hero, rather than the villain, especially in the first movie, and especially one in which you’re trying to set up essentially three main characters – Scott, Hank, and Hope.

But I really do think that Cross could have been much, much better. He was a rather two dimensional character, I felt; acting like a megalomaniacal villain simply for the sake of it. For consideration: What if Cross didn’t want to militarise the Pym Particles, but to use them for altruistic purposes? That sort of shrinking/growing technology could solve more than a few food shortages with relative ease. I always think that the best villains are the ones you can entirely understand the motives of, and perhaps even agree with. You’ve got a very easy set up here – Cross wants to use the technology to help as many people as he can, but Pym is reticent, selfish even, about sharing the technology, because of what happened to Janet. The conflict comes from that – it’s far more morally grey, because both parties are technically “right”, yet neither will compromise. It’s a little bit different, it’s more nuanced, and wouldn’t even require much more screentime for Cross. Just a few tweaks, and the film is likely a lot stronger, in terms of it’s narrative. You can still have Cross suit up to fight Scott, because he wants to stop Scott from, as he sees it, hurting a lot of people.

(Oh, and, hey, there’s another angle for the mentor thing – because Cross was once Hank’s protegee, he could have been the Ant-Man. Differing views split them apart though. Is that correct? Who deserves to be the hero? Etc etc etc.)

Second problem, or noticeable error, would be in the treatment of Hope van Dyne. And that’s… difficult. I mean, it’s already been extensively discussed about the fridging of Janet (though it seems like she’ll be back eventually), but that’s not quite what I wanted to talk about.

Ant-Man does arguably have some similarities to this comic here, which did stand out as I was watching it. Hope was essentially already far more competent than Scott, and probably a better choice for the job than he was, yet Hank was making choices for her (Hope: “Don’t blame yourself for mum’s death, it was her choice”). And… Well, to be honest, I think it was actually “okay” here, insofar as this sort of trope can be okay. It’s obvious that Hank is grieving, and he’s determined to keep her safe – the movie straight up says that Scott is expendable. (Which made me feel validated, albeit less smart, because I’d been sat there going “oh yeah this is obviously because Hank thinks Scott is expendable, wow I am so great at picking up on this admittedly quite obvious subtext”)

But then at the end, Hope does get the Wasp suit, which is a culmination of the arc between her and Hank, so I think this is probably not going to be much of an issue should the characters ever return. I mean, taken on it’s own, I think this film actually doesn’t do so badly – it’s just that in context of everything else, it’s a little difficult to completely give this film the all clear.

Though, you know, those are both fairly mild concerns. It really really was an excellent film, that was really enjoyable to watch – it was refreshing to meet a new character, but I appreciated the inclusion of other MCU elements to give a bit of texture to the film and it’s world. I thought Paul Rudd was brilliant, I thought Michael Douglas and Evangeline Lily were brilliant – the whole cast did really well. Fantastic visual style to it all as well – the shrinking elements worked excellently throughout. They were one of the most important things to get right, and this film absolutely got it note perfect.

I enjoyed Ant-Man very much, and I am really looking forward to seeing him return.

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Spider-Man Movie Pitch

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Alright then, Spiderman. I have had some thoughts on this new movie!

On Spider-Man

Mostly I have few requirements for Spider-Man (I’ve been meticulously hyphenating his name, because it makes me feel like a proper nerd and everything). I’d say the most important thing, character wise, is that he should be funny. It’s kinda difficult to get it right, maybe because you don’t want it to be facetious, and you don’t want it to be quippy in a gimmicky way but I feel like, with the general track record of the MCU, the humorous aspect is probably dead set to to be done right. There’s also some directorial stuff – Spider-Man, when he’s swinging around, should really look genuinely quite amazing. I don’t really know much about the director (nor does anyone else, really) but I think it’s a reasonable assumption to make that that kind of quality will be assured.

On Peter Parker

I have recently realised that pretty much any permeation (iteration? interpretation? depiction?) of Peter Parker wherein he isn’t a straight white guy adds a new and more compellingly layer to the story. (For example, linked here, this version of Peter Parker wherein he’s African-American) The ship has sailed on that one, given the casting of Tom Holland (who I am sure will do excellently), but I still think it’d be interesting to depict Peter Parker as gay or bisexual, because it reflects a lot of the original themes which played a crucial role in the character, back when he was first envisaged – the idea of someone who was a bit of an outcast, who represented the underdog. That basic idea is what comes into play, if depicting Peter Parker as gay.

The way I’m thinking they’d depict it is relatively subtle, in a nice kind of way. Throughout the film, you’d have references to MJ, this person Peter has a crush on. Everyone who’s reasonably familiar with Spider-Man has some idea of MJ, so they know who we’re referring to, even though you don’t actually see MJ. So, anyway, you have Peter’s friends, giving him a bit of a good natured ribbing about the crush, scenes like that. And then towards the end of the film, Peter can pass this guy in the corridor, and feeling a little more confident – perhaps because he’s been out being Spidey – says to this dude:

“Hey MJ”
“Hey Peter”

MJ, of course, stands for Mark John Watson.
It might be nice if we’ve seen this guy around a few times, in different scenes across the school. Perhaps a roll call scene, where the teacher calls him ‘Mark’, setting up the eventual “twist” at the end. I quite like that idea.

On the Supporting Characters

Okay, so if Peter Parker is going to be in school, then that means that we’re going to spend a not inconsiderable amount of time with his friends – I’m sort of imagining this taking place with maybe 50% or so of the scenes in school, and with Peter out of costume, to really explore the angle a teenager, gifted with powers most kids could only dream of, but ultimately dealing with his life becoming far more complicated than ever. None of the characters in the MCU at the minute really have secret identities; Peter, on the other hand, does.

Let’s say, then, Peter can have two to three friends, as well as a school based antagonist. The antagonist is of course Flash Thompson, who’s a bully, and quite a bother for Peter and his friends. Something which I’ve seen proposed online would be for Flash to be bullying people because he’s closeted; it’s Spider-Man who inspires him to come out, and be less cruel to others. That could, if handled well, be a pretty interesting subplot to include, because it’s showing the way in which heroism can impact on and inspire others – as well as forming an interesting counterpart to Peter, if he were depicted as gay.

One of the friends could be Harry Osborn – but since he’s been done twice before, it might make sense if this film decides to eschew the use of him. (Then again: How about Peter in love with MJ, whilst Harry has an unrequited crush on Peter? Could be an interesting angle for future Green Goblin appearances)

Bringing us onto Peter’s two other friends, we’ve got Felicia Hardy, being set up potentially as the Black Cat for sequels, and providing another LGBT character (As nice as it would be, it seems unlikely that Flash or Peter would be depicted as LGBT; at least with Felicia, there’s a comics precedent. Still, I’m trying pretty hard to make the lineup for this film as diverse as possible.)

The next friend, who would form a pretty important part of the narrative, is Kamala Khan. She knows Peter’s secret, and she encourages him to do a lot of what he does. Essentially she’d fill a role not too dissimilar from Cisco on The Flash; really enthusiastic, and really enjoying the world of superheroics, You’d have references to and maybe briefly see her family, but they wouldn’t really take focus. There’s going to be quite a few scenes between the two of them, where they confide in each other and joke around and all that. It’s a little bit of a departure from the Canon, but it seems like a good way to introduce Kamala.

Obviously, in terms of Peter’s home life, he’s living with Aunt May. There’d be references to Uncle Ben, but very few to his parents; presumably at this stage in Peter’s life, he’s essentially as content with the death of his parents as he could ever be, and what’s bothering him more is the death of his Uncle. The idea of “With great power comes great responsibility” is still a motivating factor, obviously.

On the villains

This is actually quite a difficult one, thinking about it. A lot of the more iconic villains, like Green Goblin or Doctor Octopus, have been done, and done quite memorably. My own favourite Spider-Man villain is the Lizard, and of course he’s been done… I think it’s important to keep this story small scale, because Spider-Man, I think, works best when he’s just protecting his own city, or even his own neighbourhood.

So…

I mean, Wilson Fisk is worth considering, because he’s quite heavily associated with Spider-Man, given his appearances in the cartoons and whatnot, and Vincent D’Onfrio does play the role amazingly well. But I think that it might be difficult to portray Fisk in an all ages Spider-Man movie in the same way he was in Daredevil. Perhaps the majority of the violence could be implicit? If done correctly, it could still be suitably horrific, yet suitable for younger kids – but that’s a very fine line to walk. If this were an origin story, I’d be tempted to try and involve Uncle Ben’s killer in some capacity. That could still be possible – if the origin is told in the opening credits, a la The Incredible Hulk, then perhaps a thread of Spider-Man investigating Uncle Ben’s killer, and then being lead to a weakened Fisk, who’s trying to rebuild somewhat… That could potentially be quite a strong plot to use. If Fisk is still in prison, and he’s pulling strings from there, that’s an easy way to limit the violence, and keep it a little bit more PG. (Or, you know, 12A.)

Alternatively, if it’s being kept school based, the idea of the Jackal (Miles Teller, who’s a teacher at Peter’s school) could be a route worth exploring… though it’d probably be advisable to avoid all the complicated clone stuff. Potentially Mysterio could be worth dealing with, however the angle from which I’d approach him (the illusions he uses providing a more psychological threat with less punching) might not be the most interesting for all age groups. Still, I reckon there’s probably a pretty strong Mysterio movie, somewhere, and it’s likely that might be the direction they go in.

On the tone

Something I’ve been wondering about, as I’ve been writing this, is the possibility of voiceovers. With the exception of Iron Man 3, it’s not really prominent in superhero movies – although they are pretty common in comics themselves. It might help to establish the tone, to use the voiceovers, and let Spider-Man… Not quite break the fourth wall, but make jokes and comments in a way that are sort of outside the narrative. Again, it’s a tricky thing to get right, particularly if you do use Fisk, but I imagine if handled carefully, it could be quite successful.

Music is also important in establishing the tone – not to step on the toes of Guardians of the Galaxy, but it could be nice to see, say, some scenes of Peter swinging around set to some upbeat music. As in, not a film score, but an actual song, which the audience will know? That could be worth considering; at this point I’m just kicking ideas around. Essentially though, I’d approach this not as “The Amazing Spider-Man”, or “The Spectacular Spider-Man”, but “The Friendly-Neighbourhood Spider-Man”. If they could actually get away with this as a title, that’d be nice.

Essentially, the most important part of this movie is to be really fun, and enjoyable to watch.

The post-credits scene

Oh, well, this one is obvious. Kamala Khan gets her powers here. A Ms Marvel movie can follow a few years later, after the Captain Marvel movie, with Peter as a supporting character in her movie. Kamala has inhuman genes… so potentially they could follow up on that fish oil plot from Agents of SHIELD. Maybe have her drinking the stuff (do you drink fish oil? Or, like, fry things in it? And is it halal?) throughout the movie, and then the end credits sequence shows her… say, stretching for a pen, and then her arm actually stretches. The final line of the movie is her saying “What.”

Alternatively, if this isn’t placed so well, timeline wise, in terms of when they do Captain Marvel and when they do Inhumans, maybe a short meeting between Spidey and Daredevil could work. That’d make sense if you did use the Fisk plot – presumably in Daredevil Series 2, most of Matt’s attention is going to be divided between Punisher and The Hand/The Chaste, so a sort of “Thanks for dealing with Fisk while I was busy” scene might make sense.

So, any thoughts?

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On Phase Three of the Marvel Cinematic Universe

marvel cinematic universe phase 3 avengers infinity war post last avengers endgame forever tony stark captain america

News!

It’s obvious enough from the title, really. Marvel has announced their third phase (I love how planned this all is) of movies, including fan favourites Doctor Strange, Black Panther (who’s to be played by Chadwick Boseman), and Captain Marvel (that’s the Carol Danvers iteration, specifically).

This is a pretty big thing all on its own really – recently, DC and Warner Bros announced a rather diverse cast for their own next set of movies, and they were rightfully commended for making that step. Marvel’s now doing the same, so that means that over the next few years, superhero movies (which have got to be amongst the biggest genre of movies currently around) are going to get a lot better for representation and diversity. That is, obviously, pretty important, and generally all round pretty great.

What’s also interesting though is what this might imply for the actual future of the MCU as a whole.

I think it’s fair to say that the MCU is pretty much unprecedented as a project and an idea. The crossover between films and television, the whole idea of a shared universe – that’s completely new. Innovative, even. Personally, I think it’s brilliant; the way that Marvel has taken advantage over the connectivity between movies, and beginning to tie in TV shows with the movies, has really given a level of depth to their films and the stories they’re telling that you don’t get with straight up sequels.

But, obviously… this has to come to an end at some point. Apart from the fact that, hey, superhero films won’t be popular forever, and there’s such a thing as market saturation, the actors themselves will want to move on soon enough. Chris Evans, for example, is talking about getting out of acting and becoming a director, and Robert Downey Jr is beginning to limit his involvement somewhat as well. Now, they’re both relatively key players in the MCU, so when they do eventually move on, or get too old – “Iron Man 7, coming to cinemas near you July 2030!” – where does the franchise go?

The idea of rebooting or recasting isn’t exactly an option, although it was done with the Hulk, because of quite how established everything is – you couldn’t have, say, Johnny Depp turning up in the Iron Man suit for Avengers 6 and expect no one to notice.

Personally, I think that Marvel should actually build an end into their plans; when they reach Phase 4, they should have ‘The Last Avengers Movie’. Bring the universe to a finite close, never to be reopened; wrap up all the character arcs, and end everything. Kill off some of them, give others a happy ending, and so on and so forth. If built towards properly, it’d probably be the cinematic event of the century – the only thing that could top the first Avengers movie is the last Avengers movie.

However, this announcement does suggest that maybe that isn’t quite necessary. The majority of the characters on this list aren’t exactly in the zeitgeist – they are, if you like, C-List characters in terms of the public eye and how knowledgeable people are of them. They aren’t exactly risks though despite that. Guardians of the Galaxy proved, more or less, that the Marvel name is enough on its own now; you don’t have to have the most popular heroes.

So perhaps the future for the MCU lies in expansion, rather than closure. Maybe the way forward is to keep going through the roster, and making all sorts of different films – when the time comes for Iron Man to be retired, who says Squirrel Girl or Moon Knight can’t take his place? In ten years time, we could simply have a whole new set of Avengers, rather than none at all.

Whether that’s for the best, I’m not sure. I still like the idea of an ending.

But it’d be pretty damn impressive if they made a Squirrel Girl movie.

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Film Trailer Thoughts | Avengers: Age of Ultron (First Trailer)

avengers age of ultron marvel tony stark robert downy jr iron man steve rogers captain america chris evans joss whedon trailer hd poster kevin feige

Yeah, I mean like… if you haven’t already seen this, you’ve probably been living under a rock. (What’s the rent like?)

But you have not, already, heard my thoughts upon it! And so, you lucky people, you shall hear them thusly.

I mean obviously it looks really cool. Do you ever realise, when you’re watching trailers, the most exciting thing about them is just how new everything is? Especially when you’re already so familiar with what’s come before, to see the characters you love in new settings and doing new things is pretty amazing. Somehow in a trailer though it’s a little different to, you know, actually watching the film – maybe it’s the suspense from not having the whole thing yet? Hmm.

Anyways, one thing that stood out. Mostly – and this is probably because it’s the sort of thing I look for anyway – it’s a lines of dialogue, specifically one of Ultron’s.

“You want to save the world, but you don’t want to see it change.”

This was the most interesting line, I think. I find the whole idea of the status quo in world’s with superheros pretty compelling – I mean, in all seriousness, what on earth would you actually do if people like this existed? The idea that the Avengers wouldn’t drastically affect politics, or diplomacy, or people’s lives – that’s ridiculous. But whether they’d be willing to acknowledge the change they’ve made is a bit different, and it seems to be where they’re going with this. Who cares about the real world? Let’s see their world.

Violence, ‘Realism’ and Hope in the Superhero Movie

aquaman jason momoa justice league batman v superman unite the seven first look realism hope james wan

So I was watching this video recently, about the reasons why you should look forward to an Aquaman movie (this is really the only reason you need) and one of the things that was mentioned is the fact that he doesn’t have a ‘no kill code’ like Superman and Batman.

Now, in theory, I can understand that. It’d be a pretty interesting contrast against the other characters, and might fit in quite well with the idea of the character as a king with responsibilities.

But… I’m not convinced that something like that is a selling point, because it’s that contrast which would make things interesting – and that, of course, doesn’t really exist.

Man of Steel was the most gratuitously violent and destructive movie I’ve seen… well, ever, actually. I can’t call to mind any movie that’s even close to resembling that level of destruction, where it deliberately harks back to 9/11 and plays upon that imagery (which is messed up on whole other levels, but I’m not going to get into that, because I’m really not qualified to.)

To then go on to say that another DC hero is sometimes willing to take a life is really quite disingenuous… but it does beg the question, why is that actually a selling point?

Generally, I prefer superhero films to be a fun, enjoyable affair. I mean, I’m not against the occasional movie shaking things up a bit for dramatic purposes, because that can be a pretty compelling story, but on the whole, superheros are meant to be a symbol of hope. People with great powers and abilities, who use those talents to help other people, and improve their lives? What else is that apart from a story of hope?

What’s strange though is that the split is pretty much entirely DC and Marvel. I suppose what this comes from is The Dark Knight trilogy – the only DC superhero film to have been really successful was more in that vein of gritty realism, whereas when they tried something outside that mould, they ended up with… well, Green Lantern. (I actually quite enjoyed Green Lantern, it’s a lot of fun. Similarly, I liked The Dark Knight trilogy because, whilst they were serious, they never took the turn towards being crushingly bleak.)

Marvel, on the other hand… well, Guardians of the Galaxy opens with their hero dancing to this song. I don’t think there’s really any better way for me to explain the difference! (I loved Guardians of the Galaxy for this very reason, in case it wasn’t obvious)

The point though is that The Dark Knight made money and that Green Lantern didn’t so much was not due to their tone, but a whole host of other reasons. To suggest that people prefer that kind of tone based on that alone is rather a mistake – which is obvious enough from the Marvel movies. (Chris Pratt says some interesting things about the tone of Guardians of the Galaxy at the beginning of this video)

With the state of the world as it is, I don’t want these symbols of hope to take that veneer into cynicism and darkness. Misery and pain is not intrinsically more ‘adult’, and if it is, that isn’t something to aspire to.

Make us believe that a man can fly… and enjoy flying.

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Days of Future Past

x men days of future past professor x charles xavier james mcavoy patrick stewart blue x magneto ian mckellan michael fassbender red x hd poster wallpaper

I rather liked it, as movies go.

Lots of funny moments, like with Wolverine and the metal detector, or “My mum used to know a guy who could control metal”. And the bit where Star Trek was playing in the background, I liked that. Not sure which episode it was though… I think it was the one with Gary Seven in it. That would sort of make sense, with the time travel and alternate timelines and whatnot. Digressing somewhat now. Anyway.

It looked amazing. Very high production values, which really helped to sell it. The future dystopia stuff was great. Also really tense actually, because you sort of knew they were going to kill everyone. And kill them all really violently. It was almost distressing.

Actors, all great. As expected. And some nice arcs for the 60s characters, that was pretty great. Charles breaking out of his depression to become Professor X was nice. Especially because it placed an emphasis on hope for the future. Hope is important in superhero movies I think. Crucial, even.

9/10, methinks. (But, like, 9.7/10. It was a good movie. I had very few qualms.)

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