Spring Break at GenCon!

PPunk17_Streamlined_RPGNow - Untitled PageThat’s right!

PreppiePunk at GenCon: RPG17109230

But what about They Might Be Giants, they are playing at 8pm on Thursday.

TMBG is the equivalent of most Super Bowl halftime shows of late, artists that were relevant 25 years ago.

What acts would be better suited for skipping the most important game at GenCon.

Funny you should ask.

  • Patton Oswalt stand-up set
  • Brian Posehn stand-up set
  • Chris Hardwick stand-up set (fuck a live-action D&D game with these three and maybe Wil Fucking Wheaton and Blaine Capatch and why not, Vin Diesel)
  • Weezer (noted D&D players)
  • Gerard Way- not only is he from My Chemical Romance, but is overseeing a whole line of DC Comics.
  • Marilyn Manson
  • James Franco- just being James Franco
  • Zak Sabbath
  • Tom Morello
  • Adam Warrock

 

 

IMAGINE IF: The Killing Joke, Release Date 1993

Imagine if Hollywood had released tent-pole comic-book movies starring their iconic characters around the time of the source material’s release date. For the purposes of this experiment, we will say that a movie would be released 5 years after the introduction of the character, and only movies that have been made would be made.

Teased by the Suicide Squad film, when DC announced they would release this Alan Moore tale the following year, many were excited, and Alan Moore was grumpy. Mitchum’s Batman and subsequent Justice League films were successful, but tastes had changed, many years had passed, and what was needed was a reboot of the franchise.

But, producers also did not want to retell the origin story, they were going to jump right into the deep end.

35cd25627b125b453a514e88c8206f7cRobin Williams and Alicia Silverstone had already been cast, but who would don the mantle of The Dark Knight? In the most clever of marketing campaigns, the identity of the actor portraying Bruce Wayne/ Batman was not leaked at all. It was not until opening night that the world discovered…

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves: Plenty of clips of the movies had been released, in addition to Silverstone and Williams:

Alfred-Sir Anthony Hopkins

The newly-knighted Oscar winner took on this most important and underrated of roles in the Bat-canon.

 

MSDSLIN EC023Jim Gordon-Tom Hanks

Proving that there is no role he cannot excel in, Hanks was perfect for the role of the commissioner of Gotham’s police department and father of Batgirl.

 

 

 

 

Johnny_Depp_Cannes_ninetiesAlthough not featured in the original story, producers wanted this film to drop viewers in-media-res into the Bat-universe with the obvious expectation of more films to follow.

Thus, they cast Johnny Depp as Dick Grayson/ Robin I/ Nightwing. Primarily known for 21 Jump Street, he was coming into his own with performances in What’s Eating Gilbery Grape (released the same year) and Edward Scissorhands.

 

 

kinopoisk-ru-river-phoenix-592842Adding even more to richness of the canon, flashback scenes showed the Joker committing a horrible murder, of the second Robin, Jason Todd. Tragically, River Phoenix was cast, and although producers hoped for a Death In The Family film, Phoenix’s death before the release of The Killing Joke quashed that. The film was dedicated to him, and producers acknowledged they wouldn’t recast the role.

 

 

 

In all the trailers, we saw the Batman, we heard his voice, but we never saw the man behind the cowl. The movie did a great job of keeping this a secret until after the credits when it was revealed the iconic role would be portrayed by…

kinopoisk.ruBatman-Nic Cage

Cage took his name from Luke Cage, and loved comic books. Rumors have it that he spent a year going through rigorous training similar to what Bruce Wayne endured to prepare for the role.

 

 

 

Wow or Woe: Release Date 5/24

702060_batgirl-11-variant-coverBatgirl #11

Ignoring the complicated feelings I have of Babs no longer being Oracle, the not-so-complicated feelings I have about Babs being maybe 18-21 years of age (don’t think, publishers at DC, that some of us who did not drink the Kool-Aid, did not notice that as much as you try and shove the theory that “Rebirth has brought back the characters we all loved”, that you made them all young 20-somethings, which is very difficult to reconcile), I have really enjoyed the post-Rebirth batgirl series, the art, the writing, it’s just a fun book. I especially liked the Batgirl-Supergirl teamup. I appreciate this current story arc, I like Batgirl as a plucky, sassy heroine, and it’s one of the books that moves to the top of my pile (meaning to be read first) when it comes out.

Wow! Thanks, DC.

Also purchased this week: Elektra, Jean Grey, X-Men Blue, Kamandi Challenge, Archies, Wonder Woman, Secret Warriors, Totally Awesome Hulk, Infamous Iron Man.

Crisis of Comics: Where My Villains At?

Crisis of Comics takes a weekly look at some of the recent publishing woes by the Big Two, offers up theories and concludes with suggestions about what might be missing.

1052477The Watchmen seem to be responsible for much of the awfulness in the DCU (I would argue this burden falls to editorial, but Dr. Manhattan seems as good a scapegoat as any, and over the piss-poor selling Marvel U, before they can shamelessly copy Rebirth, the heroes are, once again, fighting each other.

Whatever happened to superheroes fighting supervillains? Has the well really run dry of writers being able to craft stories of good and evil, right and wrong, punching-but-not-killing? It sure seems so.

It’s easy to want a hero to kill a villain, like Christopher Reeve-Superman in the 2nd installment of that film series, but for a hero to not kill, for a hero to feel something after killing (see Man of Steel), for a hero to take a high ground and not do it, this is a significant part of the charm of watching women and men in ridiculous spandex costumes battle one another.

One-offs and longer stories, not just punching bags, but SUPER-villains, I would argue both publishers would do well to bring back their focus on the bad guys.

Quentin_Beck_(Earth-616)_from_Spider-Man-Deadpool_Vol_1_2_001Personally, I am enjoying Infamous Iron Man, but even with Doom off the table, here are 10 formidable foes:

  • Lex Luthor- Rebirth started with him as a Superman (teaser for an upcoming Crisis of Comics entry), but can we get back to making him the bad-ass villain he is, you know, the one that makes Superman tremble and gets people to the polls. Make Luthor Villain Again.
  • The Hood- an all-time favorite of mine, an anti-hero on good days, a uniter on better days, bring back the Hood’s Crime Syndicate, a veritable who’s who of forgotten foes!
  • Onomatopoeia- Yes, the character is stuck in Smith-limbo, having been used in the Kevin Smith Bat-series, but he is a terrifying villain!
  • Mister Negative- a newer addition to the roster of Spider-Villains, but worthy of providing a sizeable threat to street-level heroes.
  • Brother Blood- a cult leader, long-time Titans foe deserves a comeback.
  • White Queen- she had her shot as a hero, but was never fully embraced, why not bring her back to her roots, and give the X-Books a villain we can all root against. Because of the fall-out from IvX (another Hero vs Hero conflict), Emma will be taking on the good guys again. And hopefully she can go back to wearing white.
  • Libra- the always-enigmatic Libra seems worthy of a comeback of epic proportions.
  • Frightful Four- some incarnation of this team, with the F4 gone, Marvel needs a foursome to fill that void. Make it a team of villains!
  • Harley Quinn- can we stop pretending it is ok for people to pine for the relationship between harley and the Joker. It is abusive. And, can we stop making her a loveable hero/anti-hero. Return her to the sociopathic roots from whence she sprouted.
  • Taskmaster- some villainous contest to assassinate superheroes brings the wannabe assassins out of the woodwork, but the Taskmaster stands heads and shoulders above the other wannabes.
  • Mysterio- what if he is responsible for all of Secret Empire? YOU READ IT HEAR FIRST!!!!

The Pull List: Weds 5/24

701412_infamous-iron-man-8Infamous Iron-Man 8

As I have mentioned, I don’t keep up with which books are ending, but I recall hearing something about the likelihood that this book will end. I have really enjoyed this, with International Iron Man also having ended, we can begin speculation about which corner of the Marvel U. BMB will reinvigorate next? I want this book to continue, I want Dr. Doom to continue on his path to redemption.

 

Twin Peaks: 217+10=227

As Laura Palmer promised in the Black Lodge, 25 years later Twin Peaks returns to TV. Given the uneven nature of both the second season and the film, I have concerns over how coherent and engaging it will be. I recently binge-watched True Detective Season 1 with a friend, I couldn’t do it alone, too much “alright, alright, alright” for me to handle solo.

I enjoyed it, but it did not change my life.

But it did recall Twin Peaks.

As did the recently wrapped first season of Riverdale.

Here is to hoping.

Astoundingly, the limited series has a cast of 217! But who is missing? What character actors, Lynch regulars, and oddballs did not make the cut (as far as we know).

  • Crispin Hellion Glover
  • Elizabeth Berkley
  • Nic Cage
  • Carrie Preston
  • Alan Cumming
  • Isabella Rossellini
  • Gary Cole
  • Linda Hunt
  • Sean Young
  • Jackée

     

 

 

Triple Feature: Men and the Cars

5e7972b31ad2bed482ba970e98d4e1a238bb8cf0Sam Peckinpah was a complicated man, but a director many reference as having created some powerful, iconic films that often dealt with loners and nihilism through an incredibly violent lens. Hal Needham was a stuntman, a stuntman so famous that there was a playset with his name attached to it.

One of these men was awarded an honorary Oscar. One ended up filming Julian Lennon music videos.

For the purposes of this triple-feature I am bringing together the CB Radio culture iconic films and the spiritual follow-up and step-child of the Oscar Winning film It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.

Star Wars was the highest grossing film of 1977, grossing the then-ridiculous amount of $307M (against an $11M budget), Spielberg was third with Close Encounters of the Third Kind taking in $116M (against a $20M budget), but what film was number 2?

Smokey-and-the-Bandit-II-DI

With a budget of only $4.3M, and taking in $126M was Smokey and the Bandit! Wanting to approach this iconic film with a critical eye, I decided it was worth watching. This was Needham’s first film, and although many of the car stunts might seem tame today, at the time, they were incredible, and much of the action of the film holds up surprisingly well. Jackie Gleason is ridiculous as the Texas sheriff, chewing up every scene he is in, but just when he might be getting too much, the film returns to the plot, which is the chase. The interplay between Reynolds and Fields holds up, and Jerry Reed does a fine job as the third wheel, and “Eastbound and Down” is damn memorable as a theme song.

2ebspdlSam Peckinpah’s iconic films include the Wild Bunch and the Getaway, but in 1978, even though he was riding a string of non-hits, had discovered cocaine (thanks James Caan), had been offered the chance to direct King Kong and Superman. He turned them down, and after Cross of Iron didn’t perform as well as he hoped, he believed he had a hit on his hands with Convoy. With an allotted budget of $6M, the film went $5M over budget, most of the directing was done by Peckinpah’s friend James Coburn, and it was critically panned. However, it did gross over $45M and was the highest grossing film of Peckinpah’s career. Ali MacGraw has a very 70s perm, and Kris Kristofferson is awesome, as he usually is. Some of the action sequences are so oddly filmed (the bar fight), but this film is filled with so much setting and flavor it oozes 1978. Here, Ernest Borgnine plays the role of frustrated sheriff, and although “Eastbound and Down” would become Jerry Reed’s iconic song, the star of Convoy is the even-more iconic title track, which oddly served as inspiration for the film.

cw_rfm_coverEven more oddly, the song was a novelty song written by an ad-man who created an outlaw country singer persona name of CW McCall.  The song is iconic enough that Rolling Stone named it the 98th best country song of all-time. I bet Chris Gaines wishes he could have been this successful.

This film doesn’t hold up as well, but has some solid action sequences, and manages to squeeze in an incredible amount of timely commentary amidst the narrative.

The last film in this viewing trilogy is the second most iconic film in Needham’s limited filmography (11 films total): The Cannonball Run. Where Smokey had some humor, and would likely be considered a comedy, Cannonball Run borders on groan-inducing screwball comedy. I have read a couple biographies of Dean Martin, I know that his boozey persona was a well-cultivated act, but his performance here is painful to watch. The “humor” in this movie lacks in almost every way. Every performer seems to be in on a joke with their performance, but as viewers we do not what that joke is. the intro scene could have been iconic had it a memorable song, instead Ray Stevens (I cannot confirm if this is the same Ray Stevens of The Streak) delivers a bizarre early 80s anthem that goes nowhere.

The film is just over 90 minutes long and the race doesn’t start until about halfway through. Little of the race footage is compelling or action-packed, an certainly, there is little to no drama. The jokes are awful, and the ending of the film feels so contrived, as if Needham lost a bet and had to pay-up, or the screenwriter just gave up. Tonally, it is in line with the film, but has no sense of drama. This film is utterly bizarre and feels incredibly dated and out-of-date (I was shocked to see it was released 4 years after Smokey).

Needham has 11 films to his credit, most of which are not noteworthy, the most iconic of which would be Smokey. Peckinpah’s Wild Bunch is one of the most iconic films of all time, the American Film Institute feeling it worthy of inclusion on several of their “100 Years” lists. Peckinpah’s films are topics of discussion amongst film critics and historians, as they might not all be classics, many have some of the same recurring themes and worldview.

Needham, however has more Oscars than Richard Burton.

hal_needham.jpeg

Then again, so does Jackie Chan.

Imagine If: The Amazing Spider-Man, Release Date 1989

Imagine if Hollywood had released tent-pole comic-book movies starring their iconic characters around the time of the source material’s release date. For the purposes of this experiment, we will say that a movie would be released 5 years after the introduction of the character, and only movies that have been made would be made.

Kurt Russell had a great run, numerous films, some great villains:

il_fullxfull.272381520

Sandman-Jim Brown

Producers knew they wanted someone muscular, masculine, and who was unafraid to be bad.

a6764e77588acb16f93f588ef88b9b35Doc Ock-Jack Nicholson

in 1981, Russell ostensibly began his career as an adult actor, starring in the classic Escape from New York, and the Spider-Man franchise languished for a decade, the last Spider-Man movie having come out in 1979.

With the introduction of the black suit, and subsequent Venom, producers knew they had the next big thing. James Cameron was signed on to write and direct, and promised the story would be fresh, but would not ignore the past. There were concerns the script was too adult, with Peter and MJ having sex on the Brooklyn Bridge, but they also wanted to see what the man who brought Aliens and The Abyss to the screen could do.

26f57dda6307a8b2cd770009cca8c324Peter Parker-Robert Downey Jr.

Teen stars were a hot commodity in the 1980s. Producers were hoping to capitalize, and quietly suggested this to Cameron. He asked producers to meet him at a showing of Johnny Be Good starring Anthony Michael Hall and shouted “That’s him!” at the screen. Producers were enthused, and thought Hall’s geek-cred would be great for the role and quickly signed off. Cameron, of course, meant Hall’s co-star (from Weird Science and SNL as well).

 

 

nicole-kidman-02MJ-Nicole Kidman

Fun fact, Kidman was born in the US. She worked on her accent and still had a lilt which was explained by her modeling career. Producers considered Julia Roberts but were infatuated with Kidman’s hair.

 

 

 

 

George Kennedy would reprise his role as Uncle Ben in flashback scenes, and Aunt May would still be Katharine Hepburn, who refused to let anyone else tackle the role.

f5929b49988b5f93290ba126e455d992J. Jonah Jameson-Kurtwood Smith

Before J.K. Simmons won an Oscar for yelling, Kurtwood was the latest to perfect the Hackman-method. Clarence Boddicker? Yes.

 

de1867d329be13a085e2f5ada8f74a70The Lizard/ Curt Connors-William Hurt

in 1979, William Hurt made his film debut as Curt Connors, hinting at The Lizard for any fan of the source material comics. He would return 10 years later reprising the role.

 

 

 

 

01dce8c9a714c3663cec9c36ade8b8d9Eddie Brock/Venom-Jamie Lee Curtis

No one saw this one coming. Venom was teased, as was Curtis’ role in the film. Her role was not only as a big sister type mentor for Parker, offering plenty of room for flirting, but as the symbiote took her over, she became a menace unlike anyone had seen from her on-screen.

 

 

Wow or Wow: Release Date 5/17

OverTheEdgePromoImage-527x800A bunch of books this week worth mentioning, so I will keep it Hemingway short for each:

Generation X: Dodson Bait-Switch Cover, Interior UGH! Woe

Jughead: Fun, but an odd narrative jump. Wow

Archie: No fucking around with first issue. Wow

Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, The Big Lie: Whispering not heard? But getting good. Wow

Secret Empire: So many awful WTF moments abound. Woe

Also this week: Daredevil, Knights of the Dinner Table, Invincible Iron Man, Luke Cage, Powers, Mighty Thor, X-Men Gold.