Adventures of Captain Marvel:post 2

While watching The Adventures of Captain Marvel, i realized how similar the TV serials of today are to the multi-chapter films made in the '30s and '40's. Before I go on, let me say that I have no formal education or training in any part of the film-making process. My observations are based on my reading of several film history books and an attempt to see the connections between various films.

Now, back to seems to me that TV serials like 24, Lost, Heroes, and others, follow the same basic formula that kept audiences returning to the theatre every Saturday way back when. The funny thing is, the formula works as well today as it did back then.

Here's my take on how the formula works:

1) Keep putting greater and greater obstacles in the protagonist's path.

2) Always have a mystery to solve in the next chapter.

3) Always have some sort of countdown in progress ( usually a bomb, but could be in other forms)

4) Introduce characters just so you can kill them in the next chapter ( my pet peeve about Heroes)

5) Make the climax world-changing (nuclear bomb, deadly virus, and so on)

I'm sure I missed other serial plot devices, but they'll have to wait for another post.

Dark Knight - Correction

In a previous post I said that The Dark Knight only received one Oscar nomination, that for "Best Supporting Actor". Actually, it got 8 nominations in all, mostly in technical categories. For a list of those nominations, plus a ton of other info about TDK, I really dig this article in the LA Times.

Oscar Nominations

Just a quick note about the Oscars and The Dark Knight- the nominations were announced today and it only got one (Heath Ledger, of course).

While I hoped that it would get a best picture nomination, I'm sure that the other films are well-made (I've only seen 2). I just thought this might be the year that the voters grew tired of nominating the same types of films year after year. For example, everyone knows that Benjamin Button is a remake of Forrest Gump, and the other nominees are either uplifting underdog stories or supposedly profound dramas with "deep" messages.

A case could be made for the The Dark Knight being just as profound and groundbreaking in that it elevated the superhero genre beyond its roots into the realm of "serious art". I thought that might sway some voters. On the other hand, maybe I'm biased and it's just another action movie.

Book Review - The Rough Guide to Superheroes

Here's a quick review of a book I picked up recently called The Rough Guide to Superheroes. This is a handy little reference book that packs a lot of info into 313 pages. For longtime fans it might include material that they've read many times before such as the story of Superman's creators, Siegel and Shuster. However, it includes a brief description of dozens of well known as well as obscure characters that I think everyone would find useful.

Of particular interest to me was the section about Movie and TV depictions of superheroes. While it gave concise little reviews of nearly every film released between 1941 and 2003, it completely omitted any mention of The Adventures of Captain Marvel. I thought this was a glaring omission since this was the first live-action superhero film. Despite that mistake, there were several write ups of obscure movies that made the book well worth the price. Overall, I would recommend it to anyone interested in the history of superheroes, comics, or pop culture in general.

Deaths and News Events of 2008

I know this isn't the most pleasant thing to highlight, but I suddenly realized that several people passed away in 2008 who had connections to superhero movies. Then I decided to include other major events that happened to people who appeared in or were connected to superhero movies. After a couple of hours of searching, I compiled this list. If I missed anyone, please let me know.

(I included Pat Hingle even though he passed away in 2009.)

Heath Ledger, actor - Died - 1/22/2008

Steve Gerber, writer - Died - 2/10/2008

Dave Stevens, artist, producer - Died - 3/11/2008

Wesley Snipes , actor- Sentenced to 3 years in prison for income tax evasion - 4/24/2008

Stan Winston, special effects pioneer - Died - 6/15/2008

Michael Turner, artist - Died - 6/27/2008

Morgan Freeman, actor - Seriously injured in car crash - 8/4/2008

Mike Wieringo, artist - Died - 8/12/2008
Eartha Kitt, singer/actor - Died - 12/25/2008

Pat Hingle, actor - Died - 1/3/2009

Captain Marvel

This is the first of many posts dealing with the The Adventures of Captain Marvel (1941). This 12 part serial was the first time a superhero was portrayed on film and it's considered by many film historians to be the best serial ever made. I purchased a DVD of the movie in 2006 from, and shortly afterwards they removed it from their catalog. As of today, I don't know where it can be purchased. It's a great piece of forgotten pop culture history. I'll have more thoughts on it in future posts.

Dark Knight - Critic's Choice Awards

Well, it looks like if The Dark Knight is nominated for the "Best Picture" Oscar on Jan. 22, it would be a miracle if it won. I wasn't aware that Slumdog Millionaire was such a favorite of the critics. It won "Best Picture" and "Best Director" at the Critics Choice Awards on Jan. 8. However, Heath Ledger did win "Best Supporting Actor", so he's now the favorite to win an Oscar.

Also, The Dark Knight wasn't even nominated for a Golden Globe "Best Picture" or "Best Director"- not a good sign, as far as the Oscars go. We'll see.

"Dark Knight" Oscar Buzz

Will The Dark Knight win the Best Picture Oscar? Maybe so. Thanks to Heath Ledger's take on The Joker, it's regarded as a serious dramatic work worthy of critical praise. I also think it has a shot at winning because there isn't another movie that's a big front runner. Some critics think Benjamin Button is a lock, but I just have a feeling that the Academy voters might want to reward an unconventional movie for a change.

Other nominations might be "Best Supporting Actor" for Heath Ledger and "Best Director" for Chris Nolan. It'll also be up for several technical categories. No matter what happens, The Dark Knight completely changed the way the average person saw the superhero movie genre.