05 August 2006

The Many Foes of Spider-Man - the Beetle

In anticipation of next year's Spider-Man 3, I have created a new feature honoring the webslinger's many deadly foes. Sure, you know Green Goblin and Doc Ock, but I will offer you a peek at some of the guys you may not know as well such as this week's baddie.





We are going to kick things off with a look at the Beetle


Abner Jenkins was a skilled factory mechanic who built an armored suit with flight capabilities to become a master thief. Early defeats by Spider-Man and Daredevil convinced him that he needed more power resulting in a sleeker battle suit with more offensive capabilities and greater strength. Fortunately, the Beetle has never been much of a threat to the web-head.


Spider-Man 3 debuts in 272 days!

Pajama Party - Superheroes in the Making

Aren't there enough reality shows out there? Well, Stan Lee (creator of Spider-Man, The Hulk, The X-Men, The Fantastic Four, and on and on) has put together a show to find the next superhero. The show titled Who Wants to be a Superhero? seems to be nothing but a ripoff of every other reality show out there, and the title doesn't help that impression. But is not really a reality show because the contestants are supposed to "be" their creations 24/7, and some of these folks are hilarious. The show features the standard reality show challenges, but Stan is looking more for reactions and behavior than performance to determine the winners and losers -- courage, honesty, integrity (but I thought modern superheores were supposed to be edgy and dark like wolverine!?). The ultimate winner will be featured in a Dark Horse comic and will also have an original TV movie made about their character. If you havent checked it out yet, I suggest you give it a try. It's on Sci-Fi and USA. As for the contestants, here's a rundown of the competition:

Fat Momma

She throws donuts and is... well fat.















Lemuria


Throws balls of solar energy. Maybe the most boring of the bunch.













Cell Phone Girl

She can teleport through cell phones and take digital photos with her eyes. She also has wireless internet access. Unfortunately, she yields to angry dogs in a mere 4 seconds and has gone bye-bye.





Feedback

This guy gets powers from playing video games. My kind of geek.












The Iron/Dark Enforcer

The Iron Enforcer allegedy stinks and uses steroids, and always wanted to kill people with his gun rather than save little lost girls. Stan decided that he would be a better villain than hero, and he became the Dark Enforcer. He will return to give the remaining heroes a new challenge.


Monkey Woman

She likes to make monkey noises and was raised by monkeys. She hides weapons in bananas.











Tyveculus

This guy tackled some attack dogs. Also, his homemade costume is better than the one Stan Lee redesigned for him, but he got busted for saying he liked the new costume even though he really didn't.





Creature

I guess she is a fruit eating alien. With a name like Creature, I would expect ger to be green or something.











Nitro G

Just lame. Eliminated for changing into his costume in the middle of a park. Who needs a secret identity anyways?










Levity

More interested in making Levity action figures and in being a "gay" superhero than just being a superhero.











Major Victory

The name is pretty average, but this dude does not step out of character, and he is cheesy galore with a certain appeal.

04 August 2006

Superheroes on Screen - Retrospective 2002

Following in the tradition of the 2005, 2004, 2003 retrospectives, behold, I bring you the superheroes on screen in 2002.

2002__________________

Blade II

The first Blade movie was made with a modest budget and showed surprising returns for one of Marvel's less known properties, and this sequel faired even better. While I am not a huge blade fan, the success of Blade has been quite influential. It showed that you don't need an A list superhero to make big money at the box office AS LONG AS THE BUDGET IS KEPT UNDER CONTROL. Perhaps Blade being profitable is why Marvel greenlit Daredevil, The Punisher, and Elektra and even has plans for Power Pack while DC acts as if they only have 2 characters to work with. Spawning another sequel and a TV series, Blade was the little franchise that could.


Spider-Man

What more can be said about Spider-Man? It is one of the most profitable films of all time, and Marvel's crown jewel. Sure, the film had its problems like the Green Goblin Power Ranger suit, and some fans were annoyed that Peter Parker has organic webs rather than being able to invent mechanical webshooters while still in high school (then again how did PP get that suit? Did he sew it himself?). But overall, the film's message of "with great power comes great responsibility" resonated with audiences to the tune of just over $400 million in the US alone. Sam Raimi proved that a director with respect for the source material makes all the difference.


Men in Black 2

The first Men in Black film was a fun sci-fi film based on a lesser know Marvel property. Will Smith was the funny guy, and Tommy Lee Jones, the grumpy dude. In the sequel, both were unlikable and grumpy. This time around, the archvillain was literally a lingerie model played by Lara Flynn Boyle, with Johnny Knoxville as a sidekick with an incredibly poorly rendered CG second head. This sequel was just nowhere as good as the original, and actually soured me to the whole concept. Still, it earned $190 million at the box office leaving the door open for MIIIB.



Birds of Prey

This little show tried to build on the success of Smallville on the dubba-dubba-WB. Set in future Gotham, the "Birds" included the grown up daughter of Batman and Catwoman AKA the Huntress, the former Batgirl confined to a wheelchair and assuming the name Oracle, and a young thing named Dinah. Together these Birds filled in for the MIA Batman against Harley Quinn, and other of Gotham's crazies. I always meant to watch this show, but it was cancelled after 13 episodes, and I never got the chance.



Overall, it was sort of a quiet year with just a few projects although Spider-Man more or less ushered in this current superhero genre craze we are currently experiencing. That's all for now, see you next in 2001.

Previous Retrospectives
2005
2004
2003

02 August 2006

Ink Blots XXIII - Ultimate Avengers: The Movie

Sorry for the lack of review last week, but with a new month comes a new theme. This month Super Teams. Up first, Ultimate Avengers: The Movie.

I must confess, while I grew up loving most marvel comics, The Avengers were never that appealing to me. I much preferred the Justice League of America, the X-Men, and even the Fantastic Four. Nevertheless, I had heard great things about the Ultimates, of which this is an adaptation. Going into the film, I was pretty familiar with the Hulk, Captain America, Nick Fury (though this incarnation is basically Samuel L Jackson with an eye-patch), Thor, and Iron Man, but less up to speed with Giant Man, the Wasp and Black Widow. Basically, Giant Man (also called Ant-Man sometimes) can grow or shrink depending on the need of the situation. His wife, Wasp, can shrink and fly like a wasp. Black Widow is more or less a female Bond type that fights with handguns. So, if you have been counting, that's 8 members of the team crammed into 72 minutes, way too ambitious. The Cap and Hulk get most of the character development, which makes sense, as they are the most well known, but still, some of the lesser knowns never got me to care about them, let alone remember their role in the film.

The opening of the movie is a fantastic little sequence set in 1945. Captain America leads some soldiers to destroy the Nazi's last hope for victory -- a super weapon made by aliens. The Cap does his thing, saves the day, and falls deep into the frigid ocean where he is frozen in ice until the present day when General Fury leads an expedition to find the Captain. Bruce Banner, AKA the Hulk is working for Fury and trying to replicate the super soldier serum which gave Captain America his powers. As it turns out, those Nazi loving alien buggers are back, and Fury is trying to usher along the Super Soldier program to combat them. In the mean time, a team of heroes (Project Avenger) is being assembled in case the serum doesn't pan out. Captain America is made the leader of the team, but the others are used to acting alone. When their first mission is a disaster, and the hot headed group all part ways. With the team broken up, the super soldier program is pushed forward. Bruce Banner thinks that the serum will allow him to control the Hulk, so he tests the serum on himself. At first Bruce is in control, but of course, nothing can stop the Hulk. The aliens turn out to be not such a threat in the face of the Hulk and the rest of the Avengers who decide that they can't just walk away, but after the alien threat is dealt with, the team member must unite to stop the Hulk from smashing everything. This closing battle is another highlight of the film.

Ultimate Avengers: The Movie was the first of 8 planned direct to video Marvel movies aimed at a PG-13 crowd. Did it deliver? The animation is not jaw dropping, but it is decent, and the story was about as good as the limited time allowed it to be. More time and/or less characters would have given more breathing room to the film, but Ultimate Avengers 2 will build upon the foundations laid here (while adding more characters to the mix). Hopefully part 2, which also features the aliens, justifies the aliens inclusion as the main enemy. Here, there was too little explanation of motivation or strategy for the aliens. They were around in WWII, now they are back... but why? Overall, this film is worth checking out for any comics fan, especially fans of the Avengers though non-comics fans may feel like the movie is overstuffed with characters they don't recognize. I give Ultimate Avengers: The Movie a B.

01 August 2006

The Joke(r) Was Almost on Us

A couple years back, there was actually development on a Batman Broadway Musical. Check out this mp3 of the Joker singing "Wonderful Toys."


Wait until they get a load of me indeed. Wow! We really dodged a bullet. Makes Batman & Robin seem like freaking Shakespeare.

The Dark Knight Returns

A few months back, I wrote a little editorial about the titles of Bat-films (see below). At the time it seemed Batman 2 might be the name of the upcoming Batman/Joker clash. But, it has been announced that the title with instead be The Dark Knight (or possibly Batman: The Dark Knight). This is awesome news, as it shows once again Nolan and co's respect for the character.




Original rant:


The Batman franchise has been trying for years to come up with a good title for a Bat-film. 1966's Batman: The Movie was simple and straightforward. I guess the main point was to differentiate the film from the TV show on which it was based. 1989's Batman took the approach followed by most of the superhero franchises to come with its title simply stating the name of the hero. This title was OK, but it was all downhill from there. 1992 brought the fairly generic Batman Returns, (by which this summer's Superman Returns may have been inspired. Of course Superman actually returns from somewhere.) by which they meant that Batman was "returning" to the cineplex. Next up was 1995's Batman Forever. I still haven't figured out what that means. 1997 dropped the turd called Batman & Robin. This title may have been more appropriate for Forever, and even though the title itself is not that bad, the movie was abysmal. So bad was the movie in fact, that the planned Batman Triumphant got the axe. It is questionable that this title would ever have been given a real meaning since the movie was never made. This put an end to the "Batman insert random word" naming scheme. But the "Batman blank" trend was to continue.

2005 brought a new beginning to the Bat-franchise. While Batman Intimidation Game or simply Batman Intimidation were rumored titles, ultimately the awkward Batman Begins was chosen. At least this time, the title made sense. And that brings us to this week's big news. The sequel to Begins is in its early stages, and rumors of a title are being heard. While early rumors mentioned were Batman Attacks, or Batman Continues (perhaps jokingly, but you never know with these folks), my early favorite was Batman Escalation. But it looks like the "Batman blank" titles may be over, as the uberoriginal Batman 2 seems to be a frontrunner. What I do like about this title is how it will certainly confuse people who still believe that, despite having seen both Batman and Batman Begins, Begins is a prequel film. Unless Bruce's parents were killed twice by different people, then its quite obvious that Begins is a reboot. Batman 2 will certainly distinguish this new series of films from the past, and I think most people will agree that is a good thing.

B. O. Derby

Its pretty funny when the news makes up headlines like "Miami Vice makes Pirates Walk the Plank." Sure Miami Vice made more money this weekend than Pirates 2, but only $5 million, and the truth is, Vice's opening was fairly disappointing if not expected. Pirates can't be #1 forever, and $20 million in the 4th weekend is nothing to scoff at. Anyhow, Cars finally took over the #2 spot giving Disney quite the bragging rights. Superman continues to creep toward the elusive 200 mil mark, and everything else basically stayed put. The Ant Bully opened to only $8 million finally establishing that eventually even the hottest trend (CG) can be beaten to death. Of course that is not stopping Barnyard (by the way, there are NO male cows) from opening this Friday.


Current Rankings:


9) The Break-Up - $117,613,525
8) Click - $132,430,248
7) Mission: Impossible III - $133,382,309
6) Over the Hedge - $151,717,000
5) Superman Returns - $185,794,683
4) The Da Vinci Code - $216,385,837
3) X-Men: The Last Stand - $233,369,859
2) Cars - $234,802,642
1) Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest - $358,485,761

Superman Returns still needs $14,205,317 to reach $200 Million


My Top 9 Predictions


9) Lady in the Water - $160,000,000
8) Poseidon - $175,00,0000
7) Mission: Impossible III - $205,000,000
6) Over the Hedge - $220,000,000
5) X-Men: The Last Stand - $225,000,000
4) Cars - $260,000,000
3) The Da Vinci Code - $275,000,000
2) Superman Returns - $325,000,000
1) Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest - $350,000,000