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 conventional 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.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Casting Shazam: Beautia

Today we will leer.. er, I mean look at the top contenders to play Beautia Sivana.

Katheryn Winnick
Why she should be cast: Well... I'm not going to state the obvious.
Why she should not get cast: While she definitely does not look it, she's 36, which might be a little too old if the actor cast for the World's Mightiest Mortal is in his 20s or early 30s.
Conclusion: If the movie was made back in 2008, she would have the role. Today, she's still a contender but not a shoo-in.

Kate Upton
Why she should be cast: Do you really need to ask?
Why she should not get cast: She only has two movie roles on her resume, where she had little dialogue and was just eye candy.
Conclusion: Due to her lack of acting skills, she may be passed over.

Brooklyn Decker
Why she should be cast: Umm... yeah.
Why she should not get cast: While she's gaining some acting experience by having roles in a few movies, is her acting up to a blockbuster superhero epic level?
Conclusion: A definite contender.

Genevieve Morton
Why she should be cast: ...can't...look...away....
Why she should not get cast: Like Upton and Decker, she's a model with aspirations to be an actress. Her resume is thin, but she's just starting out.
Conclusion: If she can prove she has talent, she could be a contender.

Nicola Peltz
Why she should be cast: You do have eyes, right? Plus, she was in a Transformers movie.
Why she should not get cast: At 19, she might be a little too young.
Conclusion: Another definite front runner.

Agnes Olech
Why she should be cast: She looks like that and is funny.
Why she should not get cast: She might be a little too off beat and quirky for the role.
Conclusion: She'll get more than a second look.

Ginny Gardner
Why she should be cast: An up and coming bombshell.
Why she should not get cast: Her resume is a little thin.
Conclusion: Keep an eye on her. She may be at the right place at the right time.

Bridgit Mendler
Why she should be cast: .......what was the question?
Why she should not get cast: She, too, may be seen as a little too young for the role. She has strong ties to Disney.
Conclusion: Yeah, I'd buy her as Beautia.

Margot Robbie
Why she should be cast: She's got a great body... of work.
Why she should not get cast: If you can think of any reasons, let me know.
Conclusion: She'll make it to the final 3 choices.
(Update: Margot has been cast as Harley Quinn, removing her from consideration for Beautia.)

Suki Waterhouse
Why she should get cast: A stunner who is gaining momentum as an actress.
Why she should not get cast: Frankly, she's a little too thin. Beautia should have more curves.
Conclusion:  Will not rule her out.

Hunter Haley King
Why she should be cast: A couple reasons....
Why she should not be cast: At 5'5", she may be too short for the role.
Conclusion: .....*drool*.... 

Dianna Agron
Why she should be cast: ... hummina hummina hummina....
Why she should not get cast: That's a stupid comment.
Conclusion: She can have anything she wants.

Haley Bennett
Why she should be cast: She puts the Beaut in Beautia.
Why she should not get cast: Because the casting director is insane.
Conclusion: A rising star who should be given serious consideration.

Carla Sonre
Why she should be cast: Of all the choices listed, she very well may be the perfect match.
Why she should not get cast: She is a model rather than an actress,  I don't know if she speaks English.
Conclusion: If she can show she has interest and talent for acting, and she can speak English fluently, we could have our Beautia.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Casting Shazam: Dr. Sivana

Today its Dr Thaddeus Bodog Sivana's turn at the casting call.

Armin Shimerman
Why he should be cast: Much like Patrick Warburton and Brandon Molale, he has a big fan following pushing for him to get cast. He looks the role.
Why he should not get cast: He might not be a big enough "name" star for such a featured role in a major motion picture.
Conclusion: He might get an interview, but might not make it to a screen test.

Joe Pesci
Why he should be cast: He is a big "name" and probably the only actor who is Sivana's height. When he's not in an outlandish hairpiece, he looks just like Sivana. A great talent.
Why he should not get cast: At age 71, he's a little too old for the role. Also, I don't think I've ever seen him in a role where he doesn't have his New York accent, which doesn't suit Sivana.
Conclusion: If this were 2004 or earlier, he'd be the front runner.

Dustin Hoffman
Why he should be cast: A huge movie star and great actor that would bring a magnitude of star power and legitimacy to the film.
Why he should not get cast: At age 77, he's older than Pesci.
Conclusion: Despite his age, I think the studio will give him serious consideration.

Martin Short
Why he should be cast: A good actor, and would bring humor to the role, echoing more the Fawcett Comics version of Sivana.
Why he should not get cast: Concern he may not be able to make Sivana dangerous enough.
Conclusion: He will be given serious consideration.

Ben Kingsley
Why he should be cast: A great actor and looks the part.
Why he should not get cast: He played the Mandarin in "Iron Man 3", in an outside the box comedic take that has left serious bad blood with the fanboys.
Conclusion: If this were pre-Iron Man 3, he would be considered. Now, however, not likely.


John Malkovich
Why he should be cast: A good pick if they were going with the New52 version of Sivana, who starts out tall, and becomes troll like after being exposed to magic.
Why he should not get cast: While its possible the movie may adapt one or two concepts from the New52, it won't be a complete adaption. The New52 Sivana would have to be nearly all CGI post his transformation, and may look too fake or silly.
Conclusion: Little to no chance of being cast.

Jackie Earle Haley
Why he should be cast: A good actor who has done respected work in the genre. He looks the role. Is the right height and age. Bonus points for being in an episode of the 1970s Filmation "Shazam!" TV series in his teen idol days.
Why he should not get cast: No valid reason.
Conclusion: He's the definite front runner, and, I'll say it, he should be cast in the role.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Directing Shazam

Today, we will look at the possible directors for the Shazam movie.

Edgar Wright
Why he should direct: He has a lot of buzz surrounding his leaving the Ant-Man movie. Defecting to DC could be seen as nerdom payback for Joss Whedon leaving a developing Wonder Woman movie to direct The Avengers. His "Scott Pilgrim Vs The World" was a fan favorite, if not a box office blockbuster.
Why he should not direct: His leaving Ant-Man shows he may be too temperamental, and New Line/WB, after Whedon, may not want to deal with him.
Conclusion: 50-50.

Chris Miller & Phil Lord
Why they should direct: This directing team also has a lot of buzz among fans wanting to see them take on Shazam with their action-comedy style.
Why they should not direct: They already signed on to do a reboot of the Greatest American Hero, so they are most likely not available.
Conclusion: They are out of the equation

Peter Segal
Why he should direct: Technically, until a new director is formally announced, he is still the assigned director.
Why he should not direct: His movies have been average at best. He has always been in over his head while attached to Shazam.
Conclusion: He's out... maybe.

Kerry Conran
Why he should direct: His "Sky Captain and The World of Tomorrow" was a visual marvel. He would bring an exciting, retro look to the film.
Why he should not direct: Sky Captain ended up not being a massive hit, and he hasn't directed anything of note since.
Conclusion: Won't happen.

Sandy Collera
Why he should direct: His "Batman: Dead End" fan film was hugely popular with fans, and was partly responsible for the new approach to the character Chris Nolan took. After the success of "Batman: Dead End", he tried to parlay that momentum into getting the Shazam gig during the William Goldman era.
Why he should not direct: He never was able to transition to mainstream directing, and has gone back to special effects.
Conclusion: Slim to none.

James Gunn
Why he should direct: "Guardians of the Galaxy" is this summer's biggest hit, and he did it with the humor and charm necessary for Shazam.
Why he should not direct: He's a Disney guy.
Conclusion: It would be a coup to get him, but its an impossible long shot.

Tim Burton
Why he should direct: He would be a slam dunk to capture the overall weirdness of the Shazam universe, and still give it a dark edge while keeping it fun.
Why he should not direct: He might make Shazam too weird, and there are some critiques that he's just not as good a film maker as he used to be.
Conclusion: This could be a "comeback" project for him, to prove he's not past his prime. Keep an eye on him.

Brett Ratner
Why he should direct: He directed Johnson's "Hercules" movie, so they have a rapport going.
Why he should not direct: "Hercules" was not a big hit, and his "X-Men: The Last Stand" is scorned by many fans, and many comic book fans just don't like him.
Conclusion: As a producer and star, if Johnson wants him, New Line will strive to please him. But will Johnson want him after "Hercules'" lackluster box office?

Brad Bird
Why he should direct: "The Iron Giant". "The Incredibles". He transitioned to live action films. On paper, he's the perfect director for the job.
Why he should not direct: No reason at all other than a scheduling problem.
Conclusion: New Line would be foolish not to offer it to him.

Sam Raimi
Why he should direct: Directed two of the best superhero movies of all time. Blends action-adventure, melodrama-pathos and fun-humor flawlessly.
Why he should not direct: No valid reason, though some fanboys still hold a grudge against him because "Spider-Man 3" didn't live up to their expectations.
Conclusion: New Line would be foolish not to offer it to him.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Casting Shazam

Today, we will look at the top contenders to play the Wizard Shazam.

Christopher Lee
Why he should be cast: A movie icon. Very obvious casting and a fan favorite.
Why he should not get cast: At 92, he may be a little too old for the role, and for sequels the role may need to be recast.
Conclusion: Due to his age, and the fact he already did a wizard character in the Harry Potter movies, I doubt New Line will give him serious consideration.
(Update: Christopher Lee passed away on June 7, 2015.)

Max von Sydow
Why he should be cast: Like Lee, a very obvious choice and a movie icon.
Why he should not get cast: At 85, he's younger than Lee, but still may be too old to hold the role for a franchise.
Conclusion: Considering he has been cast in the next "Star Wars" movie, he may be unavailable.

F. Murray Abraham
Why he should get cast: He's the right age, has the look, and is talented.
Why he should not get cast: No real reason.
Conclusion: Definitely a strong contender.

Christopher Lloyd
Why he should be cast: He looks the part, a great actor, and would be a very unique choice. He has also appeared in more comic book/comic strip/cartoon based movies than any other actor.
Why he should not get cast: Might make Shazam a little too quirky.
Conclusion:  In just the last few days, a lot of buzz has begun swarming around him. He just might be the one to keep an eye on.

Michael Keaton
Why he should be cast: An outside of the box choice, even more so than Lloyd. A brilliant actor who would have an amazing take on the character. Just imagine Shazam with those Keaton eyebrows.
Why he should not get cast: At the end of the day, he's Batman.
Conclusion: Without a doubt an off beat choice that could pay off big. I see Keaton and Lloyd linked. If New Line decides to go in this direction, I think they will offer it to one, and if he refuses, they will go to the other.
(UPDATE: Keaton has defected to the MCU, in Spider-Man: Homecoming, making it highly unlikely he will be available for Shazam.)

Alan Alda
Why he should get cast: a TV icon who would give the role dignity and heart.
Why he should not get cast: he may feel doing a superhero movie is beneath him.
Conclusion: Personally, I want Alda to play Grampa Freeman, but I could see him as Shazam just as well.

Omar Sharif
Why he should be cast: Perfect for the role. A movie icon and actually Egyptian.
Why he should not get cast: His age, 82, may play a factor, though not to the extent of the elder Lee and von Syndow.
Conclusion: The best actor for the role, but will his age hurt his chances?
(Update: Omar Sharif passed away on July 10, 2015.)