Captain America Movie News

Captain America #1

Cover for Captain America #1 published in 1941

A bunch of news came out this weekend reguarding the upcoming First Avenger: Captain America movie. BEWARE SPOILERS AHEAD.

Director Joe Johnson, who is doing press for The Wolfman currently, revealed three bits of information: one regarding Cap’s costume, who the main villain will be, and what other WWII heroes will show up in the picture.

First, Cap begins the movie in a costume based off the original Kirby design when he is part of a USO show.

Johnson told the LA Times Hero Complex blog: “After he’s made into this super-soldier, they decide they can’t send him into combat and risk him getting killed. He’s the only one and they can’t make more. So they say, ‘You’re going to be in this USO show’ and they give him a flag suit. He can’t wait to get out of it.”

Johnson says that Cap eventually goes AWOL in order to join the fight, using the impractical costume as a way to get his fellow soldiers respect. Later, he’s given a more conservative costume by his superiors to continue fighting.

Second, Johnson confirmed with that Cap’s long time nemesis The Red Skull will be the films primary antagonist. It makes sense to use this character since he was the bane of Cap’s life in during the war and beyond, but I’m not sure how this will work.

For all extents and purposes, The Red Skull is to Captain America what The Joker is to Batman. My fear is that having the Big Bad in the first film will not leave enough time for the development of the hero or the villain.

Tim Burton’s Batman was hurt by having to two scene stealing characters in the same movie that required a good amount of time devoted to them. Batman Begins and The Dark Knight succeeded in this respect because both were given their own film to develop.

Lastly, The Invaders, Marvel’s premier superhero team during WWII, will play a major role in the film, Johnson told CHUD. More precisely, he said “they’ll be in the entire second half.”

The Invaders was made up of Captain America and his sidekick Bucky, Namor The Sub-Mariner, and The Original Human Torch; all characters that could support a movie on their own.

Marvel still owns the rights to use these characters in their films, which gives a pretty neat prospect to seeing a ton of heroes in one movie. Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury is expected to show up at the beginning and end of the film in bookends set in modern times, but the character was originally a Sergeant in WWII, leading his “Howling Commandos,” I’m hoping that they’ll show up as well.

And I still have high hopes for Jackson saying “goldbrickin’ yahoo’s” (a catchphrase of the comics character) at some point.

Does this sound good to you folks? Let me know in the comments.


Kirby Hiers Vs. Marvel Comics

Jack Kirby

Jack Kirby

The heirs of Jack “The King of Comics” Kirby have gotten into a legal battle with comic book juggernaut Marvel Comics over the rights to characters that Kirby had a hand in creating, which includes Iron-Man, Captain America, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, The original X-Men, and a list of other characters. (I’m surprised to see Spider-Man is actually a part of this list, since he is listed as being created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, but then I found out that there is some controversy about that as Kirby was brought in to help flesh out the character in the creative stage.)

The Heirs claim that Kirby didn’t think the work was not work for hire, that the characters he had a hand in designing would remain his intellectual property.

I recently wrote about a similar situation involving the family of Jerry Siegel and the rights to the character Superman.

One of the main differences between this and the Siegel/DC case is that the co-creator of the characters in question is still alive and kicking: Stan Lee worked with Kirby on creating all of the above listed characters, and has a good relationship with Marvel, arguably becoming the face of the company. Mind you he can’t really complain because he wrote those characters for so long and even after he left writing duties he worked as an editor at Marvel for years before leaving to form his own company.

A possible result of this case might be the awarding of the rights to these characters to the Kirby Heirs and the Heirs selling them elsewhere. This would mean that the Marvel Universe would lose ALL of its major characters.

I believe that part of this is about ownership, but a major part is about the money. They probably saw the box office returns for Iron Man (2008) and wondered where their piece of the pie was.

I’m not saying that Kirby’s family shouldn’t receive compensation for his work, recognition or some sort of monetary payment at least, but the Heirs want to bleed this thing dry. They want to take the characters to other studios and cash in on the characters success to get the most they can out of it. And the characters can’t be used by Marvel in their comics. CONTINUITY BE DAMMED!!

But what really bothers me. What REALLY bothers me, is the fact that these people are trying to tear apart an entire world, for money. The works of Kirby have been around for over a generation now. people have grown up relating to the misfits of the X-Men, the aimless rage of the Hulk, and the philosophical wanderings of the Silver Surfer.

These characters belong to the people now. The way they interact with one another in those 32 pages mean more to some people than any amount of money. The Kirby Heirs could take those characters and bastardize them into something more “marketable,” and ruin them in the process. I am at a loss for words as to how that makes me feel.

Kirby wasn’t always at Marvel, though, there was a time in the 70’s when he left the company because he felt he was being treated unfairly and went to work at rival DC comics. There, he created and drew several cult-classic characters that have their own roles in recent DC comics continuity. These include the epic stories of The Forth World Saga, Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth, OMAC, and Etrigan The Demon.

I wonder why the Heirs aren’t targeting these characters? Probably because they aren’t the big fish. I’m sure that the Heirs will eventually work their way over to DC, the same way a family picks all the meat off the the Thanksgiving turkey before finally throwing it away.

This is only a guess at what’s going on here. For all I know, the Heirs feel they, and more importantly, Jack, deserve compensation for the world he helped create. As they should. I just want them to realize what they might destroy by taking away those characters from the Marvel Universe. (If I were Glenn Beck, this would be the point where I would start fake crying.)

But keep this in mind: Jack Kirby worked in comics for over half a century and created hundreds of characters. That doesn’t take dedication, that takes passion. What would he think of his family tearing down something he helped create for the sake of a payday?

On a lighter note, maybe the Heirs have no intention of breaking up the Marvel Universe at all. What if they are awarded the rights, then sell them back to Marvel? Diabolical…

What do you folks think? Let me know in the comments.

Brian Singer Returning to the X-Men Franchise: There is Hope For the Universe?

The original X-Men team depicted by Marko Djurdjevic in their original yellow spandex costumes that they wore when they made their debute back in 1963.

Bryan Singer recently revealed in an interview that he has signed on to direct “X-Men: First Class,” a re imagining/ prequel of the original X-Men movies.

I find this strange because it actually sounds like a plan for a good movie: The X-Men just starting out as a team of superheroes, the beginning of mutant discrimination. These are things that could make for some interesting character moments.

What’s more, it actually promises to be the FIRST ACTUAL X-MEN MOVIE. Think about it, who was the main character for the original trilogy? With a title like X-Men you would assume that this would be an ensemble cast. But no, as the series went on the producers realized that America had a crush on Wolverine, so every story was altered to better incorporate a character who started his life as Canada’s greatest superhero.

I find this funny considering the same tactic has been used by Marvel comics. (I.E. to ensure the popularity of a new venture, make sure that Wolverine is a part of it.)

The new film seems to be based in part on the series created by Jeff Parker and Roger Cruise that was a re-imaging of  the first volume of the comic created back in 1963 by two of the Godfathers of Marvel comics: Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.

The series was about group of young people dealing with a world that fears and hates them while their bodies changed in unexpected ways. That right there is an interesting story. But, as we all know, America won’t accept mature concepts with its action movies (Look at the box office returns for District 9 versus G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra), so they try to push that to the side and focus on the grizzled loner with the mysterious past (who may have starred in “The Boy From Oz“).

Don’t get me wrong, the first X-Men movie struck a near perfect balance between social commentary and wicked action. It really was the later movies, particularly X3, that filled the franchise with stupid-juice and decided they needed to focus more on the mutton-chopped canook. (I seriously wouldn’t have disliked those movies so much if he broke out into song.)

And don’t get me started on X-Men Origins: Wolverine. There’s enough bitching and moaning about that on the internet already.

The point is that this could be a great new beginning for the X-Men franchise. All the characters who were forced to the periphery in the original movies can now be recognized for their unique characteristics. I for one am looking forward to seeing the development of Scott Summers (Cyclops) from lonely orphan to the leader of the mutant community.

What did you guys think of the original movies? What do you hope for the future of the franchise? Let me know in the comments.

Superman No Longer the Last Son of Krypton

As the year draws to a close, we reflect on what has transpired over the past 365 days. We’ve had the first African-American president sworn into office, we’ve seen the economy flux and wane, and most importantly to some, we’ve seen the life of a universal icon changed forever.

Earlier this August, the family of Jerry Siegel, one of the co-creators of Superman, was awarded ownership rights to the character’s origin.

This means DC Comics, the company that owns the rights to the current Superman character, no longer has access to portions of the Superman mythos including the planet Krypton, being put into a rocket by his parents to escape his exploding planet and crash landing on Earth. If DC ever wants to use these portions of the Superman mythos in any future stories, they have to pay rights to Siegel’s family.

Much like the character’s personal history, he no longer has a home to return to.

This raises some problems, undoubtedly, for DC, who has used the character’s origin for a source of many of his antagonists. The term Kryptonite, the remains of Krypton, and most generally known weakness for Superman, is still owned by DC comics. This means that DC can still use it in stories as a weakness for Superman, but the glowing green rock can no longer be the remains of Superman’s home planet.

“I think [the comic] is just going to go more towards where a lot of the other comics are going. Where they just change a lot of the core elements of it to make it either more realistic…I think they’ll simply find a new solution as a new weakness for Superman. They’ll give him a fake new origin and they’ll pass him off as some alternate dimension,” Jonny Chandler, a comic book fan, said.

DC can remedy this by avoiding the use of Krypton in its stories. This month, there will be a new series released by DC titled “Superman: Earth 1”, which will be set in a different continuity than the main Superman series.

J. Michael Straczynski, the writer of Superman: Earth 1, revealed in an interview with that the series will deal with Clark Kent (Superman’s alter-ego) coming to terms with how he is going to use his powers, and at the same time, the story will “flash back to his life growing up in Smallville, so we can see how the Kent’s helped mold him and protect him and get him to a point in his life where he can finally make this most difficult of choices.”

An article on MTV’s Splash Page pointed out that at no point in this interview does Straczynski  make mention of the planet Krypton or any details regarding Superman’s origins other than he grew up in Smallville. No mention of the character’s birth off planet or dead civilization are made. How will this go over with fans?

Pretty easily, actually.

“If you’re doing Superman’s origins when he’s just learning about his powers…and how he’s going to use them and conflicts that arise from that, then yeah, I think it’s fine,” Michael Esposito, another comic book fan said. “But if you want to see Superman with a formidable villain or something like that, than that’s where the problem’s going to come from.”

In television shows and movies depicting Superman, most of the threats the main character deals with stem from his heritage: on the “Smallville” TV show, many of the antagonists get their abilities from Kryptonite, and in “Superman 2” Superman faced other Kryptonians with powers similar to his own.

Even in the comics, the most fearsome of Superman’s antagonists have some ties to Krypton. Like General Zod or Doomsday, the creature that is famous for killing the character back in the 90’s.

The challenge now lies with new writers to work with the constraints put on them by this legal result.

“I think comics as a whole are an effectively static medium,” Brian LaCour, another comic book fan said. “As much as anyone wants to argue that it isn’t, the way fans come in and reinforce in writing the various aspects of canon or things they loved as a kid just keeps status quo is position.

“Then lawsuits like this develop and the writers just find a way to bring back their canon under the new medium,” LaCour said.

It remains to be seen how these legal issues will affect Superman. Thought he may not be the Last Son Of Krypton anymore, the character that he has become since leaving his home planet remains to tell the same stories he has for almost half a century. Superman is still, to many, The Man of Steel.

Who is Hawkeye? A Lesson in Marvel Lore.

A recent comment by Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker) has set the comics internet ablaze with speculation as to whether Marvel mainstay character Clint Barton aka Hawkeye will appear in the upcoming slate of Marvel movies, particularly The Avengers.

Hawkeye on the cover of issue #3 from his 2004 solo series. Taken from Wikipedia.

For those that don’t know, Hawkeye is a Marvel comics superhero who made his first appearance as an antagonist fighting Iron Man back in the 1960’s. His started out life as an orphan who ran away from the orphanage to join the circus. There, he was taught archery and sharpshooting by the villains Swordsman and Trick Shot. He eventually left his new home when he came into conflict with his mentor’s criminal paths, leading to him taking the heroic identity of Hawkeye.

After a number of misadventures (including his bouts with Iron Man) where he was fist labeled a villain, Barton was recruited to the second incarnation of The Avengers, a team of the Marvel Universe’s mightiest heroes. Nowadays he is masquerading around as Ronin, since his Hawkeye identity has been stolen by the villain Bullseye as part of Norman Osborn’s Dark Avengers.

Since then, Barton has been one of the most enduring characters in the Marvel Univese. Despite lacking super powers of his own, Barton is able to match blows with supervillians through mastery of martial arts, gymnastics, and his signiture bow and arrows.

The character’s real appeal is the rogueish nature he’s held his entire career. This is the guy who would trash talk an enemy into submission, who had the gall to talk back to Captain America when he was training to be an Avenger, and who would one day be considered the best candidate to replace the Captain after he had fallen in battle.

I haven’t seen “The Hurt Locker,” but I’ve heard good things. What I hope the studios do, when casting the role, is choose someone  who is able to play both the bad boy and the nobel hero; fill in both roles that Hawkeye occupied in the comics. Aside from that, I can’t say who should play the role. Don’t think Alan Alda is cut out for it now though.

You guys have any takes?

An Interview with Chris Hastings

I was lucky enough to get to talk to the delightful Chris Hastings about his webcomic The Adventures of Dr. Mcninja.

The comic deals with the life of a doctor who just so happens to also be a ninja as well as his family (also ninjas) and a number of similarly bizarre characters and their adventures in the real life town of Cumberland, MD.

Chris talks about his creative process, how he got into web comics, and the logic of towns with superheroes. (It’s a long one, about 20 min!)

An actual panel from the Adventures of Dr. Mcninja issue #11 titled "Punch Dracula." Art by Chris Hastings.

First Poster for Iron Man 2

First reported by Yahoo! Movies.

Speculated to be THE summer movie of 2010, Marvel and Paramount released the first poster for Iron Man 2, the sequel to the 2008 superhero movie.

The poster features a new model of the Iron Man armor on the right foreground, and in the background is the new character, War Machine. Robert Downey Jr. returns to his role as Tony Stark aka Iron Man. The character James “Rhodey” Rhodes aka War Machine was to be played by Terrance Howard, who played Rhodey in the first film. He has been replaced by Don Cheadle for Iron Man 2.

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