07 May 2008

Inflated Superhero Earnings

This may well be a record year for big budget Superhero movies. Iron Man has already started its domination, and we still have The Incredible Hulk reboot, Hellboy, The Dark Knight, Punisher: War Zone, the newly rescheduled The Spirit, and the not based on a comic Hancock. As records are broken every year, I thought a little adjusted for inflation context would be helpful to see how well these heroes really need to do to measure up to heroes past. It's probably safe to say that Spider-Man will remain the champ, but who knows.

New X-Men Cartoon Looks Promising

Though Marvel has dominated at the box office, DC has always had far superior animated shows. Not only were DC's Batman, Superman, and Justice League shows amazing, but Marvel's Fantastic Four (even the most recent version) and other series have been horrid. The recent Spectacular Spider-Man series though is pretty decent. It looks like Marvel has another winner with this X-Men series. Behold:

Superheroes on Screen - Retrospective 1994

The year when C-listers were king:


Somebody Stop Me! The Jim Carrey machine was going into full swing with this adaptation of the Dark Horse character who when donning Loki's mask could do pretty much anything. This light hearted action comedy was a pretty big success for a lesser know hero, banking over $100 million. The follow up, Son of the Mask, however, was an abomination.

This film may be best know for the tragic accident resulting in the death of the star Brandon Lee. It performed moderately well and spawned a couple of sequels.

A year earlier, The Meteor Man, a parody of Superman bombed, so obviously it was time for a parody of Batman. Thanks Damon for the memories.

Some accused The Shadow of copying the Burton Batman, but this is actually a worth while movie in the vein of the pulp heroes The Rocketeer and The Phantom.

A near miss. People who hate on the recent Fantastic Four films should be grateful that this one never got a real release. The Thing is dang ugly, and the others arent much better.

This DtV followed up Sam Raimi's (pre-Spidey) Darkman film.

In animation, this Spider-Man series was pretty notable in its epic season long stories with multiple guest heroes. Not as good as the Batman series of the same era, but still fun. The fact that Spider-Man was not allowed to punch becomes pretty distracting once you are aware of the limitation. Also, CG cityscapes looked atrocious, even back then. In the last episode, Spider-Man came to our universe and met Stan Lee.

Cancelled after two short seasons, this series boasted many guest appearances by Iron Man's Avenger buddies as they faced off against the Mandarin.

A pretty funny show that is kind of a parody, but kind straight at the same time, this blue guy got 3 seasons.

There you have it, a year we could probably have lived without, but a couple of note worthy products. This definitely wasn't yet the golden age of Superheroes on Screen.

06 May 2008

Iron Man Opening - How it Stacks Up

Not too shabby. Where will The Dark Knight and The Incredible Hulk measure up? Stay tuned.

05 May 2008

Marvelous Movie News

On the heals of Iron Man's huge opening and attempting a box out of DC properties, Marvel has announced its upcoming slate. From ComingSoon.net:

Marvel Entertainment released their first quarter report to its shareholders this morning to coincide with the announcement about the success this past weekend of Marvel Studios' first production Iron Man, which grossed an estimated $100.7 million domestically and over $200 million worldwide. The announcement included an update of Marvel Studios' feature film slate with the already-rumored Iron Man 2 announced for a release on April 30, 2010, followed by three more movies for the summers of '10 and '11. Matthew Vaughn's Thor is set for a release on June 4, 2010, and The First Avenger: Captain America (the working title) will kick off the summer of 2011 on May 6, followed by the highly-anticipated and foreshadowed The Avengers scheduled for July 2011. (Edgar Wright's Ant-Man is also listed as being in development with no release date set.)

With that in mind, one can start expecting a lot more announcements in the coming months about creative teams and casting for those movies including who might direct the Captain America and Avengers movies. (Whomever plays Steve Rogers AKA Captain America presumably will be making two movies at once.)

There will be a webcast for investors at 9AM Eastern at www.Marvel.com/webcasts where the same information should be relayed.

04 May 2008

Alchemists at Marvel Turned Iron into Box Office Gold

Exceeding all expectations, Iron Man has captured a $100 Million weekend. With sneak peaks, the film is at about $104 million, more than fellow B- lister Daredevil made during its entire run. For a little perspective, this is a better opening than that of Batman Begins, Superman Returns, X2, or X3. Welcome to the A list old boy!

The good news is that the superhero / comic book genre is still alive and well. With a modest budget of around $140 million, we should soon be getting and official release date for an even bigger Iron Man 2 sometime in 2010. The bad news for the other films of the genre, is that the quality bar has been raised. It is doubtful that Marvel's other summer film, The Incredible Hulk, will share this success story. It may be a horse race between The Dark Knight and Iron Man for the summer superhero crown.

The Friends and Foes of Batman - Phantasm

Created for her own animated film, Andrea Beaumont AKA The Phantasm was Bruce Wayne's ex-fiancé. She has since made cameos elsewhere, but never in the live action world.

Andrea Beaumont is the daughter of wealthy businessman Carl Beaumont and his deceased wife, Victoria. In her youth, while attending Gotham University, she meets and falls in love with Bruce Wayne. He is internally conflicted by his desire to lead a normal life with Andrea and keep the promise he made to his murdered parents to fight crime. He finally decides to abandon crime-fighting - instead pledging part of his inheritance to the Gotham City Police Department - so he can marry Andrea. As Bruce proposes to her at his estate, the two discover the cave that would later become the Batcave.

Andrea is forced to break off the engagement and move to Europe, however, when she learns that her father has double-crossed the Mafia. Carl Beaumont set up dummy corporations for some of the most powerful mob bosses in Gotham, including Chuckie Sol, Sal Valestra, and Buzz Bronski. When they learn that Beaumont has embezzled from them, they demand immediate repayment. Unable to quickly access the money he had stolen and subsequently invested, Carl flees with Andrea and eventually settles on the Mediterranean coast. By then, he has parlayed the money he'd stolen into a sizeable fortune and pay off his debt. However, when Beaumont father refuses to make donations to Arthur Reeves, a politician formerly in his employ, the young politician sells information on the Beaumonts' whereabouts to the mob. Although Carl has repaid them, the vengeful gangsters want "interest compounded in blood" and plan to use the information to have him killed. They send their hitman (who would later become the Joker) to kill Carl Beaumont. Andrea encounters the killer as he leaves her villa, and discovers her murdered father only moments afterward.

Consumed with hatred, Andrea waits patiently for 10 years, planning the demise of the men who destroyed her happiness. When she returns to Gotham, she dons a costume reminiscent of the Grim Reaper, complete with a smoke-generating device and scythe-bladed gauntlet. Disguised as such, and mistaken by everyone as Batman, she kills Sol and Bronski. After Bronski's death, she learns that Batman is, in fact, Bruce Wayne. Batman quickly discovers the link between the mobsters and Carl Beaumont and questions Andrea, but she rebuffs him. When the Phantasm attempts to kill Valestra, she nearly falls into a trap laid by the Joker, which she escapes. Batman attempts to apprehend her as she flees from Valestra's residence, although she easily evades him and the police. When Andrea realizes that the police will arrest Bruce in her stead, she quickly changes out of her costume and helps him elude the authorities. In a final attempt to conceal her identity, Andrea tells Bruce that the Phantasm is her father, and that she has returned to stop his murderous rampage. The two then spend the night together.

Andrea tracks the Joker to his hideout at the derelict Gotham World Fairgrounds, but the Clown Prince of Crime has deduced her identity, and is ready for her attack. The two fight hand-to-hand in the "Home of the Future" exhibit before he lures Andrea to a giant turbine. He attempts to kill her by sucking her into it, but Batman intervenes, breaking the machine moments before its blades would have crushed her. Andrea attempts to justify her actions: "They took everything, Bruce! My dad, my life...you.I'm not saying that it's right or even sane bt it's all I've got left...Look what they did to us! What we could've had! They had to pay!" She asks him to let her carry out her vendetta without interference. For once completely helpless, Batman begs her to leave. Andrea agrees and disappears in a cloud of smoke. After a battle between the Dark Knight and the Joker, Andrea reappears to claim the defeated maniac. As the fairgrounds explode, Andrea disappears with the Joker.

After escaping the inferno through a series of sewers, Batman assumes that Andrea and the Joker have perished in the blaze. However, she survives (as, presumably, does the Joker) and leaves a locket for Bruce in the Batcave as a keepsake. In the penultimate scene of the film, Andrea stands on the vespertine deck of an ocean-liner, alone.

The Dark Knight returns in 75 days!