Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Andy Fish's Batman '66 prequel

As most of my readers know, I was somewhat critical of DC's Batman '66 series, in that I felt it followed too much in the footsteps of the awful third season, and did not try hard enough to capture the spirit of the excellent first season. I was also very vocal about DC getting comic book artist-writer Andy Fish, who is a 1966 Batman fan who sees the series much as I do in regards to what worked, and why it went off the tracks, to work on the comic book version. Well, so far, DC hasn't wised up yet, but Mr Fish is posting his own independent Batman '66 prequel, Sinister Sideshow of Dr Scorpio, which can be read on several platforms, including batmanbyandyfish.blogspot.com.

Set in 1964, Dick Grayson has just become Bruce Wayne's ward, and it looks like Batman is new to his crusade against crime.  One of the best surprises so far happens in episode 3, where it is revealed Captain Marvel is Gotham's pre-Batman protector.
Andy, who is also a superhero serial buff (and as an aside, also be sure to check out his serial inspired 1940s take on Batman, The Death Ray of Hugo Strange which can be read at the same website), has based this take on Captain Marvel on the 1941 serial, which explains how he is a bit older, and has been in action before Batman.  He appears to be drawn as a combination of Tom Tyler and Fred MacMurray.
I am looking forward to see how the relationship between Batman and Captain Marvel develops. I would like to see an actual DC comic book series with this premise. Considering how Inspector Basch was set up in the pilot episode to be a recurring character that never panned out, I am curious to see if Andy will give a backstory to that character. I can't wait to read more chapters and I urge all the readers of this blog to check it out.

Review: Three Stooges Halloween Stoogetacular

The latest in American Mythology's series of Three Stooges one-shots is the second with a Halloween theme.  It features two new stories and a reprint from the 1960s. The new stories are both written by S.A. Check and drawn by Brendan and Brian Fraim. The first story is a period piece set in the 1800s, and is more in the spirit of the classic two-reelers than the stories in some of the immediate previous issues. The boys are traveling peddlers trying to sell their new invention, a brush that cleans teeth, when they come across a Hammer Studios inspired Dr Frankenstein, and his creature, who looks a lot like Shemp. The second story is done in the style of the boys more experimental shorts, like Cuckoo on a Choo Choo and Gypped in the Penthouse where the Stooges are not a team.  This one also features Shemp in a much more substantial role.  The focus is on Larry's bizarre travels. I really like having Shemp making appearances in these stories.  Perhaps we can also get some appearances by Ted Healy and maybe even a Joe Besser cameo.  We don't need Joe DeRita, since he is featured in the reprints. Speaking of the reprints, the one in this issue is typical in that it has a very good script, but the art is on the crude side.  This issue earns an A-.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Billy Batson audition tapes

The Omega Underground website has posted some Billy Batson audition tapes. You can see them (potential script spoilers included) by clicking here.  Of a slight concern is that the script they are working from seems to have quite a bit of Curse of Shazam influence to it, with the reference to a council of wizards, and an allusion to the foster family.  But, it seems like the Billy Batson character is in line with the traditional version, and does not seem to be the jerk as seen in Curse. I am kind of hoping this is not the actual movie screenplay, but rather something tossed together culled from the rejected Bill Birch-Geoff Johns script just for the audition process, or if it is the current script, an early draft that has since been, or is the process of, being polished and tweaked.

Jeremy Michael Lanuti's Billy Batson audition
UPDATE: Just a few hours after being posted, the videos were locked with passwords. A tape of Parker Young reading for the role of Captain Marvel was also briefly available before being shut down with a password, although Heroic Gateway was able to copy a part of it.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Things just got interesting...

Just when it looked like Derek Theler was out of consideration for the role of Captain Marvel, due to his signing on to play Mr Immortal in the upcoming MCU TV series New Warriors, he has hinted at having an audition in a Snapchat post.
The lightning bolt symbol seems to indicate he may still be up for the role of Captain Marvel despite being signed on to a rival MCU production.  Perhaps he may be the first actor to simultaneously play characters in MCU and DCEU franchises.  Ironically, I believed that honor would most likely go to Dwayne Johnson, whom in addition to playing Black Adam, I was sure he would also sign on to play Namor the Sub-Mariner for the MCU.  But perhaps the failure of his Baywatch remake threw cold water on that idea.
Also of significance is Theler and David F. Sandberg have been liking each other's posts across Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram, and Theler has begun to follow several key DCEU people.

And speaking of Sandberg, he has continued to post daily Instagram updates of the movie's progress in a way only he can.
A post shared by David F. Sandberg (@ponysmasher) on
Of note is classic Captain Marvel beating the crap out of New52 Shazam.  Related to this is that New Line released a synopsis and a Billy Batson casting call that both use the name "Captain Marvel" (although some sources later said these releases are fake). Also you can see an Elvis cartoon on the wall, hopefully a sign negotiations are going on to have Elvis recordings on the film's soundtrack.  Yes, things are getting interesting.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Work officially begins on "World's Mightiest Mortal"

David F. Sandberg has humorously hinted on his Instagram page he has officially began working on World's Mightiest Mortal.
A post shared by David F. Sandberg (@ponysmasher) on

And then added an update.
A post shared by David F. Sandberg (@ponysmasher) on

Casting announcements may be imminent. So far, all we know is Dwayne Johnson's Black Adam will not appear (except for a possible cameo), Sandberg has shown signs he is more influenced by the classic version of Captain Marvel rather than the Curse of Shazam reboot, and has said he will cast two actors as Billy Batson and Captain Marvel, instead of casting only one, and using CGI trickery to create the other.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Sandberg "leaks" script page

David F. Sandberg, the director of World's Mightiest Mortal gave fandom a treat by leaking a page of the screenplay.
Obviously it is a joke, but if you read between the lines, it can be interpreted as a symbolic "middle finger" to both the unpopular Curse of Shazam reboot of Captain Marvel, and to the nagging calls by certain fans to include Superman in the movie as Billy Batson's mentor. I really think we got the right guy for this movie.  I'm feeling very optimistic.

Friday, July 21, 2017

An Open Letter to David F Sandberg about "World's Mightiest Mortal"

David F. Sandberg is officially the director of the Captain Marvel movie.  Production is set to begin early in 2018. So, in this open letter to Mr Sandberg (and the powers-that-be at New Line Cinema), I will express my hopes for what could and should be the definitive cinematic Captain Marvel.

The very first thing Mr Sandberg should do is bring in Alex Ross to be the project's creative consultant, and perhaps also a producer. He is one of only a few contemporary comic book talents who really "gets" the World's Mightiest Mortal.  Just as Johnson's manager, Dany Garcia, is working hard to make sure the Black Adam character is perfect, it should be Alex Ross' privilege to do the same for the Captain Marvel character. The film should use Ross' version of Captain Marvel's uniform, but it should not be skintight spandex or muscle enhancing rubber. The model of Tom Tyler's costume from the serial should be used, where the top is more of a jacket, and the pants, while snug, are not actual tights. Need I say, no hoodie cape, please.  In addition, I would suggest artist Jerry Ordway be brought in to assist in creating the design for Fawcett City, with its unique blend of Art Deco elegance with Norman Rockwell Americana. The definitive film needs to have a good balance of fun and humor with action-adventure and drama and pathos. I would like to see the film use tilted ("Dutch") camera angles, much like celebrated film maker Orson Welles pioneered, to give it a unique look.

The film itself needs to stay away from the horribly failed Curse of Shazam reboot.  The movie should have its foundation on the works of Alex Ross, specifically Justice and Shazam: Power of Hope and the recent, and very successful Thuderworld Adventures by Grant Morrison and Cameron Stewart, as well as lifting the Billy Batson-Uncle Dudley relationship from Roy and Dann Thomas' Shazam The New Beginning.  The primary influence and tone should come from the Fawcett comics of the 1940s. When Otto Binder and C.C. Beck hit their stride, they produced some of the greatest superhero adventures of all time. Previous attempts at developing the movie over the past decade seemed married to the "Big with superpowers" concept.  This concept keeps the character trapped in a goofy, juvenile stereotype. Cap should not act like a 12 year old. He has the wisdom of Solomon, which should make him more mature and less headstrong than Billy. The movie could use such a Big concept in a subtle way, but to go over the top, as most recent comic book stories featuring Captain Marvel have, would be a critical mistake.  I encourage Mr Sandberg to bring in Henry Danger creator/producer/writer Dan Schneider to tweak and polish Henry Gayden's script. Schneider would be a natural to capture the whimsy and humor of the original Fawcett comics, and could give the tone of the script the youthful energy that helped make Spider-Man: Homecoming such a hit.

As in the Fawcett comics, Billy should be the star of the movie. Its his adventures we follow. Yet there still must be a lot of screen time and action sequences for Captain Marvel. I speculate the creators of Captain Marvel had the Old Testament book of Tobit in mind as a muse. In it, the mighty archangel Saint Raphael takes the form of a teen, Azariah, while among mortals. I suggest all Captain Marvel fans read this book. If you don't have a Bible with the deuterocanonical books, here is a link for Tobit.   Mary and Freddy should be supporting characters the film, but they should not get their powers until the sequels. Needless to say I do not want to see the three new52 kids, Darla, Pedro and Eugene, cluttering up the film. And despite some fans clamoring for it, I do not want to see Superman in anyway in this film.  This movie should stand on its own, much like Wonder Woman did. If there must be a cameo with an established DCEU character, Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman would be the most preferable and make the most sense. A completely outside of the box choice, Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn, would be as unique as the chemistry Harley and Billy share in the Injustice line of comic books. With Black Adam out of the picture, it may be a good idea to introduce Ibac for a central action sequence. In the Golden Age, it was Ibac, not Black Adam, who was Captain Marvel's evil counterpart. 

The elephant in the living room needs to be addressed.  Captain Marvel's name. I am vehemently against the idea of renaming Captain Marvel with the wizard's name, Shazam. In a perfect world, the film makers will just call him Captain Marvel, as it should be, and let the chips fall where they may.  But I fear some backdoor politics may cause that name to be off limits. If that's the case, I would advocate for Captain Marvel to be nameless in the movie, just as the name Wonder Woman has never been spoken in either of the two movies featuring her. The end credits should credit the actor playing him as "World's Mightiest Mortal", and leave it at that. In fact, "World's Mightiest Mortal" should be the title of the movie. Another idea is to borrow a gag from Spider-Man Homecoming. In the final scene, a crowd of people surround Captain Marvel.  For the first time, they ask "who are you?"  He replies, "Captain Ma--" cut to black, end of movie.

Perhaps the most infamous Captain Marvel fan was/is Elvis Presley. The definitive Captain Marvel movie must have an Elvis soundtrack. Mr Sandberg has stated Guardians of the Galaxy is his inspiration for superhero movies.  It had a prominent soundtrack, and for the Captain Marvel movie to follow suit, Elvis performances need to be represented, if not dominate. "If I Can Dream" would be a perfect theme song. Many of his under appreciated 60s tracks would fit the film perfectly, like "Long Legged Girl" for Beautia, "What A Wonderful Life" for Billy, "That's Someone You'll Never Forget" for Billy's crush on Beautia, "Kiss Me Quick" for Beautia's longing for Captain Marvel, etc.  Perhaps Duane Eddy's hit instrumental "Shazam" could be incorporated into the score.

Casting suggestions:

Captain Marvel - Lou Ferrigno Jr
The son of TV's Incredible Hulk has the pedigree, the acting talent, and the looks to bring the character to life on the silver screen.
Alternate picks: Derek Theler, Wes Bentley, or Daniel Cudmore.

Billy Batson - Colin Critchley
This talented young actor would not only be perfect for Billy Batson, but in his recent film Legends of the Hidden Temple, he exclaims "Holy Moly", and in that instant, he became Billy Batson.

Shazam - Tim Allen
Playing Santa Claus was a great primer for the role of Shazam.  Allen would give the role a grandfatherly warmth and a slight off kilter humor that would make the character's limited screen time a gem.
Alternate picks: Michael Keaton, James CaanF Murray Abraham, James Woods, or Max von Sydow.
 
Dr Sivana - Jackie Earle Haley
This talented character actor would bring the Rightful Ruler of the Universe to life and be bad news for Captain Marvel.
Alternate pick: Michael D Cohen

Beautia - Virginia Gardner.

This bombshell-in-the-making would be perfect for the World's Sexiest Woman.
Alternate picks: Tori Anderson, Suki Waterhouse, Haley Bennett, Genevieve Morton, or Carla Sonre.

Uncle Dudley - his royal majesty Micky Dolenz .
This is my #1 casting pick! Dolenz is Dudley incarnate and would be a highlight of the movie and a real scene stealer. If nothing else, I want Dolenz cast as Dudley.

Mary Bromfield/Batson - Jade Pettyjohn.  
Although she's a couple years older than Colin Critchley, her range is as young as 13, and her personality would bring Mary to life.
Alternate choices: Breanna YdeReagan Strange, or  Saylor Bell.

Ibac - Brett Azar 
With Dwayne Johnson's Black Adam benched from the film in favor of his own movie, Dr Sivana will need some muscle to go toe to toe with Captain Marvel.   Ibac is the perfect pick, because in the golden age, it was he who was the evil counterpart to Captain Marvel, while Black Adam was a one-shot character. Brett Azar is perfect for the role.

Sterling Morris - Jon Voight.
This acting legend would be perfect to bring the owner of station WHIZ to life.
Alternate pick: Dan Aykroyd.

Mr Tawny - Jim Belushi.
I could really see Belushi in the role, whether it be him in extensive make up, or a CGI character based on Belushi's looks and mannerisms, with him doing the voice.  Just perfect.

Freddy Freeman - Levi Miller
 
A talented young actor who can bring the darker, more serious counterpart to Billy to life on the silver screen.

Freddy's Grandpa - Alan Alda.
This TV legend is sure to bring gravitas and likability to the character, and really set the audience up for heartbreak when the inevitable happens.

Nick and Nora Bromfield - Jim Caviezel and Kristy Swanson
 This pair of fan favorite actors would give Mary's foster parents likability and depth.