GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY – A BRAVE MOVE FOR A COMICS MOVIE
Marvel Studios are moving forward with a live-action film of GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, and while most of the planet is unfamiliar with this slightly bizarre and unpredictable set of characters, I think it's a great idea for a film.
For one thing, the characters (yes, including the gunslinging Raccoon) don't have the same link to our popular culture as larger characters like Iron Man or Captain America, making for a much more fresh initial impression with audiences, and secondly it gives Marvel Studios the chance to tackle a truly epic, intergalactic adventure which doesn't need a lengthy stop-off on Earth.
It is certainly going to be interesting to see where this project goes, and as a comics fan I'm thrilled that a title which the world at large is unfamiliar with may well be heading before cameras soon. It's always exciting when people like us get to show the non-comics world why we loved this stuff in the first place, and finally get some vindication. We're big on vindication, us dorks. Trust me.
A DAY AT BATMAN'S HOUSE
When I found out Wollaton Hall, a stately home and museum a bus ride away from me here in Nottingham, was to be used as Wayne Manor in The Dark Knight Rises, I had to take a trip out there. It's an incredible property containing a fascinating museum, gargantuan grounds full of deer, an industrial museum, a nice cafe and some breathtaking scenery. Better than all of that, it's Batman's house. It's actually Batman's HOUSE, man.
When the scenes there were shot, Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway and Michael Caine were in town, which set the place buzzing with people looking out for them. I spotted Bale in a taxi looking grizzled, while Anne Hathaway was apparently spotted having tapas in La Tasca and Caine was seen supping pints in a local pub.
This added to the magic of being at such a beautiful place – not only was it an incredibly enjoyable day out at a truly spectacular location, but it was cool to thnk of the Batmobile erupting forth from a hidden tunnel, even if the tunnel would lead in the direction of a shopping centre or a bunch of nightclubs in the English midlands rather than the mean streets of Gotham. Oh, and while it's only the fictional Wayne Manor, it does indeed have a cave beneath it...
BEFORE WATCHMEN – AFTER SANITY?
A few weeks back, I attended a lengthy discussion with comics legend Alan Moore and his lady, the hugely talented artist Melinda Gebbie, which centred around their massively controversial graphic novel Lost Girls, in which famous classic stories such as Peter Pan yarn Peter And Wendy, The Wizard of Oz, and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland are rewritten as highly stylized erotica. Naturally, the art gallery setting was full of bitter, defeated comic geeks like myself, who had flocked into the venue to share the same air as one of the most gifted writers of our generation.
It was a good hour or so until someone asked a question about Watchmen, but not the 'real' Watchmen. They asked about BEFORE WATCHMEN, the prequel series of comics which follows the (non-canon) adventures of the characters from Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' seminal series which became the legendary graphic novel (and in turn Zack Snyder's faithful and surprisingly effective film).
A tangible silence fell as we waited to hear Moore's booming voice tear the guy to shreds. Thankfully, Moore is actually a far nicer man than many people make him out to be, and his response was as expected: He isn't a fan of the idea, wasn't consulted about it and even coined the term “Who botches the Watchmen?”.
As much hype as the series is getting right now, it's a misguided attempt at wringing some cash out of the characters, and no matter how much people claim there's more to be done with those characters, there really isn't. DC – don't let your comics become like the movies and turn into a repetitive cycle of the same old thing over and over again. What? The New 52? Oh dear.
WHERE NEXT FOR SPIDER-MAN?
He's been rebooted in the movies with yet another needless origin story, and he's been rebooted in the Ultimate Spider-Man comics series as a young mixed-race kid, so where next for Spider-Man? The new movie, The Amazing Spider-Man, starring Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone, sees comics canon flung out of the window and the early days of your friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man retold as a Twilight-audience-friendly blend of melodrama and action scenes which look like the Sam Raimi movies with a different costume.
There has to be something that can be done to stop the world's favourite webslinger becoming stale and irrelevant to film audiences. My suggestion? First, get the rights over to Marvel Studios, where they belong. Then work Spidey into the filmic Marvel Universe.
Have him show up in a couple of Avengers character movies. Adapt a Spider-Man classic, but update it so as to be in keeping with a contemporary audience (My inner geek is crying out “Maximum Carnage!” “Hobgoblin!” and so on, but my inner geek made me work in a comic shop for nine years so I would say that, wouldn't I?).
And quit trying to make everything look so real and 'gritty'. Spidey needs to be fun. When he's Peter Parker, he should be awkward and nervous (Like Tobey in the Sam Raimi Spider-man trilogy), and while he's Spider-man, he should be a wise-cracking badass while still being a positive role-model. That's what Spider-man needs next. Some positivity and some fun. That's what Marvel was built on in the first place.
AS AN ASIDE
Please stop casting Ryan Reynolds as comics characters. Cheers.