Alan Moore and Films

Alan Moore has famously refused to have anything to do with film adaptations of his comic book work, and after reading his Wikipedia biography, I can see why. Geez! It seems like the guy has had one disastrous experience with Hollywood after another. I won't list all of Moore's complaints regarding his dealings with the film industry, but to boil it down, he is pissed.

I totally admit, I've only started researching the history of Moore's film connections, but my impression is that he feels disrespected and cheated by Hollywood, and that his only way to express his contempt is to never support film versions of his work. While I don't doubt Moore's genius, I question his complete antipathy towards film. I know he feels that he hasn't been treated fairly, but is that enough to warrant his attitude? If movies introduce millions of people to his original versions, as the Watchmen movie will do, is that not something be celebrated? I think Moore is justified in feeling slighted by Hollywood, but I can't believe he wanted nothing to do with the Watchmen movie. He claims that he has no interest in even seeing it. He would have to be filled with anger to have no interest in seeing other artists' interpretations of a masterpiece he created.

Cesar Romero

Heath Ledger's Academy Award Sunday night was truly a historic moment in film history (being the first actor in a comic book-inspired movie to be so honored). I can't add anything to what's already been written about him and the Oscar.
Instead, I want to remember the first actor to portray The Joker on film. Of course, that's Cesar Romero in the Batman TV series (1966-68) and movie (1966). Just think, for over 20 years his Joker was the only live action image of the character we had. For most people under the age of 50, that's the only role they know him for, even though he was in over 100 movies. I loved him as The Joker. He brought incredible energy to the part and seemed to relish playing such a wacked-out villain.
I've been thinking about how The Joker has changed on film- from Romero to Nicholson, and finally Ledger. If a person had the time and talent, he could write an incisive essay on the larger, societal meaning behind the evolving image of The Joker- from Romero's funny, camp version to Ledger's twisted sociopath.

Who is Black Widow?

Although it hasn't been officially announced, dozens of news outlets and movie sites have reported that Scarlett Johansson has been chosen to play Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow, in Iron Man II. My only thought at this point - another A-list actor agrees to a supporting role in a superhero movie - just further proof that the superhero genre is the hottest thing to hit Hollywood in decades.

For fans, the best news of all is that this wild success guarantees that every major character will eventually get his or her big screen treatment. This is sweet revenge for all of us who suffered through the predictions of moronic critics that the "comic book movie craze ".would quickly burn out.

Source Material

What changed in the late '90s that allowed superhero movies to become the phenomena they are now? One of many factors was the realization that the source material -the comics- did not have to be changed drastically for the screen. The younger generation of directors that grew up on comics were a major factor.
What sets this generation of filmmakers apart from earlier ones who tried to bring super-heroes to life? The answer is summed up by Kevin Feige, the vice president of Marvel Studios, in an interview with James Mischler of the Comic Buyers Guide magazine in 2005. Asked about the success of the Blade film trilogy and why audiences responded so well to it,

Feige said:

“In 1998, Batman and Robin had recently come out, and taught people that the old way of doing things wasn’t going to work anymore. Everything you needed was in the comic books, just use the source material as your guide and you can’t go wrong.”

No Heroics

While I try to stay focused on films, this was too good to pass up. Thanks to "A Writer's Life" for posting this clip from the British TV series "No Heroics". I have never heard of it before. Gotta see more!

No Heroics

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Cheap Thrills

(This is an intro to a piece about superhero movies that I've had on the shelf awhile. It's geared toward a general audience- not just fans)Superhero movies got their start in the 1970’s, right? Not so fast. We have to go a lot farther back in time for the first appearance of costumed crime fighters. What might seem like a recent invasion is actually a pop-culture phenomena more than sixty years in the making.

It was 1940. America was shaking off eight years of economic stagnation and doing its best to ignore the growing troubles overseas. People had jobs again, the nation was at peace and new industries were being born faster than they could be named. The entertainment industry had made it through the lean years and was experiencing explosive growth. Now, experts look back on that time as the “golden age” of radio and movies. Although many smaller movie studios didn’t survive the Depression, some, like Herb Yates’ Republic Pictures could barely develop the film fast enough to satisfy the public’s demand for affordable entertainment. Going to the movies had become a weekly ritual for most Americans.

This was the time when movie serials were on the way out. Three studios were still producing action movies in 12 to 15 chapter installments, but they had run out of ideas years before. Every genre had been mined for new characters and story ideas. The Westerns were the first serials to produce Hollywood stars such as Tom Mix and Red Ryder. Science Fiction serials gave us Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon and a host of other space men, space-explorers, and space-monsters. Pulp magazines gave serials masked vigilantes such as The Shadow and Captain Midnight.

In 1938, a new art form was born that would give the serials a new brand of hero that was completely different than the ones featured before. Superman made his debut in Action Comics in June and he became an overnight sensation. It took the studios a couple of years to take advantage of the superhero phenomena sweeping the U.S. Republic Pictures was going to film a live-action Superman serial but couldn't come to terms with National Periodicals on the rights to the man from Krypton.

Republic went ahead with its plans for a superhero serial by buying the rights to Captain Marvel, a character owned by Fawcett publications. In 1941, Republic released the twelve-chapter serial, The Adventures of Captain Marvel, becoming the first Hollywood studio to bring a live-action version of a comic book superhero to the big screen. In so doing, they gave birth to a film genre that would reach its zenith of artistic and commercial success six decades later.

Adventures of Captain Marvel - post 3

One of the most surprising things about this serial was its level of violence and the number of deaths in each chapter. It's obvious that ACM was made before studios were forced to adhere to strict censorship rules. For example, in just the first three chapters, Captain Marvel machine guns two bad guys as they run away, throws a couple more off a ten story building, and pummels several more into submission. Throw in a few more murders, beatings, and explosions, and, in my opinion, ACM easily depicts more acts of violence per minute than today's superhero movies.

What's interesting is that serials like ACM were aimed largely at kids (boys mostly), so that raises the question: Were adolescents of the 1940's regarded as mature enough to view violent acts with no hand-wringing from society about the psychological harm it might do, or- was the studio just exploiting the violent nature that many adolescent boys had (and still have) in order to entice them into the theatre? I think I know the answer, but I'd be interested to hear the opinion of someone who was 12 years old in 1941.