Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Shazam movie release date confirmed.

Today, Warner Bros announced the release date for the Shazam! movie will be in 2019.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Keaton says he would play Batman again

In an interview for Entertainment Weekly , Michael Keaton is asked if he would play Batman again. His response, "If it was Tim Burton directing? In a heartbeat."  He adds, “Tim, in movies, really invented the whole dark-superhero thing.  He started everything, and some of the guys who have done these movies since then don’t say that, and they’re wrong.”

Two years ago, I suggested Burton and Keaton reunite to make a third Batman movie, based upon Frank Miller's Dark Knight Returns altered somewhat to fit the existing continuity of Batman and Batman Returns. With Keaton's statement, perhaps such a project has a glimmer of hope. Sadly, due to Zack Snyder and Ben Affleck grasping all the remaining Dark Knight Returns material for Batman v Superman that wasn't already commandeered by Christopher Nolan in The Dark Knight Rises, such a Burton-Keaton project seems like all it will be is a glimmer of hope.  Unless, of course, Batman v Superman bombs at the box office like Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Kick Ass 2.

Keaton goes on to reminisce about bowing out after Burton was removed as director of the third movie by WB execs who didn't like the dark direction of Batman Returns, and brought in Joel Schumacher, “I hadn’t been stupid about it. I always knew it was a big machine with a big studio and corporation behind it. But the simple answer was, it wasn’t any good. I was nice. I said to them, ‘This is a really interesting character with a dual personality.’ I tried to make them understand. But when somebody says to you, ‘Does it have to be so dark?... I thought, are we talking about the same character? So finally I just said no.”

On his portrayal of Batman, he says, “Now I can say this, because for many reasons, I never allowed myself to say it at the time: It was never about Batman for me. It was always about Bruce Wayne. He’s funny! He’s screwed-up! The guy is the coolest motherf—-er in the world, and he’s messed-up!”

At this year's New York Comic Con, three Batmans have made appearances.  Adam West to promote the DVD release of the 1960s Batman TV series. George Clooney, who privately apologised to Adam West, and publicly to the fans, for Batman & Robin. And Michael Keaton, who went on to say he's still proud of his Batman movies, "Having played Batman and being very proud of playing Batman. I never back off that. The idea was bold, interesting, and cool when Tim made it.  When I took the original, I was unfamiliar with comic books. I wasn’t a comic book reader. [Reading the script he thought], this isn’t the way that I see the character but am glad to read it. Then I met Tim the next day, I’m saying [Batman] is this and this, and he was nodding in agreement. So I asked, are they going to make this? Tim said, 'I don’t know. Let’s find out'.”

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Review: Batman '66 Meets The Green Hornet #5

This issue starts with the Hornet and Kato deciding to change tactics on how they are working with the Dynamic Duo.  Cut to  Batman and Robin, in a death trap set by Joker and Gumm that is a little too similar to the one from The Zodiac Crimes episode, and the escape is likewise similar.  After which, the Duo are summoned to Gordon's office, where they are met by The Hornet, Kato, and District Attorney Scanlon (who knows the Hornet's secret identity), to set up a backstory so that Batman can work freely with the Hornet.  Meanwhile, Joker and Gumm, in Joker's jet plane hide out, drop a bomb on Gotham.  The four heroes, warned about it via Batmobile detect-a-scope, begin evacuating Gotham Central Park, where the bomb is targeted.  Batman and the Hornet stay in the park with the Batzooka in an attempt to shoot the bomb out of the sky.  Smith and Garman get deducted a point for the rehashed death trap, but they more than make up for it with the bombing of Gotham Park sequence which is the very first time since DC initiated the "Batman '66" franchise to come close to the tone and excitement of the first season episodes.  The first half of the book has the usual splendid art by Ty Templeton, but the second half is by Jon Bogdanove, who does a better job than most of the recent artists over in the main Batman '66 title.  And, of course, there is the Alex Ross masterpiece cover. This issue earns a B+.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Review: Batman '66 #15

This issue features a somewhat bizarre premise.  The Penguin and the Black Widow team up to destroy a new process for creating fuel, and then they rob a bank.  Once Batman and Robin discover their hideout and are captured in a giant spider web, Batman is able to convince Penguin, by planting the idea the Black Widow will kill Penguin once she's done with him, to free them and to join them to take out the Black Widow.  Jeff Parker's script, as usual, is cemented in the weaker aspects of the second and third seasons of the TV show.  But what stands out this time is his reworking of the Black Widow.  On the TV show, she was portrayed by an elderly and feeble Tallulah Bankhead. The character itself had quite a pedigree.  Originally called  The Scarlet Widow, she was Superman's enemy on the 1940s radio program, and, much like Bankhead, described as an old hag, gaunt and ugly.  Revamped as The Spider Lady for the 1948 Superman movie serial starring Kirk Alyn, and played by Carol Forman, she was young and sultry.  Finally, in 1967, reworked as The Black Widow, appeared on the second season of Batman. Parker's take seems more in tune with the Spider Lady from the serial, although still older and gray.  The art by Wilfredo Torres is above average in some panels, below average in others, never outstanding.  This issue earns a C.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Popeye test footage released

This is only the test footage, not an actual scene from the movie, which has yet to be officially green lighted.  My impressions are that it is better than the Popeye's Voyage DVD, and Tartakovsky certainly seems knowledgeable and qualified for this project... but where are Popeye's pipe and tattoos?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Opinion: Why this is the perfect time to fight for the "Captain Marvel" name

If DC/WB/New Line were smart, they would go all out and declare war over the "Captain Marvel" name. With the Shazam! movie announced before anything relating to Marvel's fake Captain Marvel, and Dwayne Johnson signed to star as the villain Black Adam, DC can easily take ownership of the name "Captain Marvel" in the public square by issuing press statements and news items all emphasising a phrase like "DC Comics' superhero Captain Marvel", which would then be picked up and repeated by news and press services ad infinitum.

And, I suppose, Disney-Marvel would want to fight it. In the words of Dwayne Johnson, "Bring it!" Any publicity is good publicity. But I honestly doubt they would want to fight it. For 40 years Marvel had no real problem with DC's Captain Marvel, except for the fact they obviously didn't want DC to publish a comic book with the title Captain Marvel. And DC was cool with that, naming the series Shazam!, after the wizard and the magic word that gave Captain Marvel his powers.

"But, Marvel recently won full use of the name Captain Marvel." That's the one I'm hearing a lot. But no one has come up with evidence of this supposed court case that gave Marvel Comics full ownership of the name Captain Marvel. Probably because you can't own a name. Just ask the Avengers. No, not the Marvel group... the British spies who also were created before their Marvel counterparts. Besides, DC still uses the name Captain Marvel in Justice League Beyond and the upcoming Thunderworld. So that argument is obviously an urban myth.

The real reason for the name change is that the new powers-that-be at DC have kind of gotten lazy. "Well, everyone already calls him Shazam anyway". So, then by that reasoning, JJ Abrams should change Captain Kirk's name to Star Trek, since... you know, people are dumb, and they'll think that's his name anyway. Or Disney should change Luke Skywalker's name to Star Wars. But thankfully the movie isn't exclusively DC. Warner Brothers and New Line Cinema are involved. I have confidence in them that they would want to embrace the character's history, and keep the traditional name. Superman's current costume has nothing in common with the New 52, except for the lack of trunks. There is no turtleneck or bulky kryptonian armor with red piping. In fact, the emblem is a complete throw back to the golden age. Ben Affleck's Batman costume. Is it New 52? No... it's a 30 year old Frank Miller design. Wonder Woman? No, no New 52 there... just some Xena in patriotic colors (washed out, of course). So I am confident not only will Captain Marvel be wearing some sort of costumed based on the traditional one and not the hoodie-obsessed New 52, but he will have his traditional name. Depending on who the director will be, it may become very apparent very quickly.

As I said, any publicity is good publicity, and if Disney really were to cause a controversy over this, it would only benefit the public consciousness of the Shazam! movie. So, come on and say the name: Captain Marvel.

Take it away, comics legend Neal Adams...

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Casting Shazam: Billy, Mary, and Freddy

Today we will look at the three kids.  This is a tough one to speculate, first, because a lot of today's kid actors are part of of the Disney Channel/Nickelodeon talent pool. I don't see someone with an iron clad Disney contract being allowed to star in a DC movie. Second, as far as Billy goes, most likely they will cast Captain Marvel first, then look for a boy who resembles that actor. I'm willing to bet Billy will probably be the last role to be cast.  Third, we don't know what age range the characters will be.  Will it be the 10 to 12 year old Billy from the Fawcett years, or the 13 to 14 year old tween Billy from the Jerry Ordway era, or the 15 to 16 year old teenager Billy from the New 52? When it comes down to it, unknowns who are acting prodigies will probably get the roles.  But there wouldn't be an article, so here are some wild shots in the dark.

First, for Billy.

Colin Critchley
Why he should be cast: He's an 11 year old acting prodigy who is mostly unknown since most of his work has been on the stage.
Why he should not get cast: If they want an older Billy, or want someone with more film experience.

Mason Cook
Why he should be cast: 14 year old actor with experience in movies and TV.
Why he should not get cast: They may want a younger Billy.

Preston Baily
Why he should be cast: 14 year old actor with TV and film credits.
Why he should not get cast: Again, at 14, might be too old.

Ty Simpkins
Why he should be cast: Good resume.
Why he should not get cast: He was in "Iron Man 3"... he might still be tied to Disney and unavailable.

For Mary.

Kelli Berglund
Why she should be cast: Looks just like the character.
Why she should not get cast: She's 18, even though her range can be as young as 14. Has a Disney Channel contract which may make her unavailable.

Landry Bender
Why she should be cast: 14 year old actress, who also had a Disney contract, but her show was cancelled, freeing her up.
Why she should not get cast: Acting skills may not be up to the same level as the other kids considered.

Maggie Batson
Why she should be cast: She already is a Batson. No ties to Disney.
Why she should not get cast: Too blonde for Mary.  At age 10, might be too young if they go with an older actor for Billy.

Morgan Lily
Why she should be cast: Actress with a good resume and a fashion model.
Why she should not get cast: Age 14, might be too old if they want a younger Billy. Appeared in an X-Men movie, so might have ties to Disney and be unavailable.

And for Freddy.  My thoughts are since he influenced Elvis Presley, the actor playing Freddy should resemble Elvis.  I think that's what the casting director should look for when casting Freddy. A tough job.
Elvis as a pre-teen. Ideally, this is what the actor to be cast as Freddy Freeman should resemble.

Some more convential choices would be:

CJ Adams
Why he should be cast: Acting credits include the recent Godzilla remake.
Why he should not get cast: At 14 might be too old if they go with a younger Billy and Mary.

Hayden Byerly
Why he should be cast: Has Elvis-like cheekbones.
Why he should not get cast: Is contracted to ABC Family, a Disney subsidiary, and might be unavailable.

Chandler Riggs
Why he should be cast: Has a brooding quality that would fit Freddy well. Has won awards for his work on "The Walking Dead".
Why he should not get cast: At age 15, probably to old for the role.

Conclusion: Like I said this is a tough one.  Chances are they will cast Captain Marvel first, then look for an unknown to play Billy who resembles him. Then they will cast Mary and Freddy accordingly.  I honestly would not want to be the casting director assigned to the three kids.  The rest of the casting is a piece of cake, but these three are the critical ones.