Greetings couch potatoes! Geez it seems like months have gone by since my last post. I deeply apologize for not meeting my own “weekly update” schedule. There were holidays and birthdays and all that. But mainly it’s because this is one of the big ones! This is one that I wanted to put a lot of thought into to make it as absolutely perfect as possible. This character holds a lot of importance to me so it had to be just right. And in light of recent casting announcements on that “other” movie I figured it was just the right time to put this one up. So without further stalling for time, I give you The Man of Steel:

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Superman has had a long, sordid history with film over the last 25 years (give or take). 1987 saw the end of the Christopher Reeve era of Superman films with the very ill received Superman IV: The Quest For Peace. Following that was a 19 year period of trying to revive the Man of Steel’s film presence (not counting the forays into TV with Lois & Clark and Smallville, of course). At one point it was all but settled that Tim Burton would be directing Superman Lives, an adaptation of the Death and Return of Superman storyline, with Nicholas Cage as Superman. Ultimately that film never happened and I’ll touch on some of my theories as to what happened to it in a later blog.

The most recent attempt to bring Superman back to the silver screen was the Zach Snyder directed/Christopher Nolan produced Man of Steel. The film was a commercial success and earned a fast tracked sequel in the form of the tentatively titled Batman Vs. Superman. Despite being such a success, however, the film did take a lot of liberties with the mythology and proved to be extremely controversial with longtime fans of the character. Although still being an enjoyable film despite all of it’s controversial points, it doesn’t seem like a fitting film for the character or a jumping off point for a new universal franchise to challenge Marvel and Disney’s Avengers series.

So continuing with my Casting Couch series – currently having Guillermo Del Toro’s Green Lantern: The Emerald Dawn and David Fincher’s Batman in the can – we’re moving on to what I, as a hardcore fan of the character, envision the perfect Superman film being. As with those two films, I’m still going to point out the three things that Man of Steel did wrong, in my opinion, that would be corrected this time around. 1.) Man of Steel was way too artsy. That isn’t to say it was a bad thing. It worked well for THAT movie. However, the sepia tones and a lot of choices made with the cinematography were very specific to that one, self contained film. If you want to have a movie that will interact with other movies then they all need to look the same. You can watch any movie from the Avengers line and know that they’re all apart of the same universe. 2.) Superman’s moral compass will be more dominant. Too much carelessness happened in MOS. And, not to get off on a tangent, I understand why they did it. He was just becoming Superman. He was learning. However, Superman isn’t a learn-on-the-job character. A major part of who he is and why is because of his upbringing. A proper Superman – even in his first outing as such – wouldn’t let so many people die or make so many mistakes. Because even though he hasn’t been a superhero that long he has been a good person, with a sense of right and wrong and what to do, for the last 30 years. 3.) The supporting cast is actually going to play into the story and their reason for being there will make sense. Man of Steel had a lot of characters that seemed like they were dropped in just because you can’t imagine a Superman film without them. But they didn’t do anything. Their involvement seemed forced and awkward. The main story seemed to be about how Lois Lane somehow found out who he was over the course of a 5 minute montage based on loose information with no paper trail to follow and everything else (and everyone else) was just kind of there.  The ideal Superman film would use the backup characters appropriately as part of the story.

One of the things that I did like about Man of Steel that I would carry over, though, was that Clark Kent’s young history was done in flashbacks. Richard Donner’s Superman: The Movie had already done the whole “three act play” method and Smallville was entirely centered on the young, soon-to-be, Superman. So it wasn’t necessary to spend so much time on the awkward school years. I would do that again. Only showing flashbacks that seem necessary at the time. But I would even push it one forward. I wouldn’t start the movie on Krypton. General Zod has already been done twice, which means he wouldn’t need to have any involvement this time around. At least not till a third or possibly even fourth movie. So without needing to set you up with his backstory, the Krypton stuff becomes something that Ghost Dad Jor-El can detail in a brief montage at the Fortress of Solitude. I would start this movie with a young-ish Clark on his Superman: Birthright style world travels, saving people where he needs to, while following a beacon to what will eventually be the Fortress. Some flashbacks will play out in the first 30-45 minutes before becoming a fluid course of events.

Phew! Sorry….I am just really going on and on with this one. Superman is a topic near and dear to my heart and I really want to get a lot of info in as to how I would do the (in my humble opinion) perfect Superman film. So with all of that said, I give you….the PREMISE!!!!

Clark Kent travels the world, following a strange beacon emitting from a device found in his alien ship. Along the way he uses his unique abilities to help those in need. In so doing he meets Lex Luthor, an up and coming industrialist that is overseeing a mining operation that his company is sponsoring. Clark helps out when a catastrophic event occurs in the mine. The incident inadvertently leads Lex and his team to discover a strange green mineral he’s able to develop into an almost limitless power source.

Clark follows his beacon to the arctic where he finds the Fortress of Solitude and begins a journey of discovery into his origins and his purpose for being on Earth, as well as what his destiny may hold.

5 Years Later, Clark joins the Daily Planet and makes his presence known as Superman. Lex Luthor, untrusting of this mysterious savior, joins forces with General Sam Lane to use his energy resources to develop weapons that may aid in taking down this “alien threat.”  But who else, or what else, is lurking in the shadows with their eye on Superman?

So now comes the part that I’m sure you’re all just dying to see. Who is going to be in this film? Well wait no longer loyal couch potatoes!!!

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J.J. Abrams – Director

I know what some of you are thinking. “WHAT?!?! REALLY?!?! The guy that wrote Superman: Flyby?!?!” For those of you not thinking that, let me explain. JJ Abrams wrote the script for an unproduced Superman film tentatively titled Superman: Flyby. It was an origin story where Jor-El was the king of a Krypton that didn’t explode. Instead it fell under civil war by Jor-El’s brother, Kata Zor. In the film, Lex Luthor is a UFO hunting government agent, Clark joins the Daily Planet to get closer to Lois Lane (who “saved” him from a bully at a frat party years earlier), Jimmy Olsen was gay and Superman fights his cousin Ty-Zor, who had come to earth to reclaim him for Krypton. The film ended with Superman going back to Krypton as a cliff hanger for a sequel.

So yeah, with that in mind, I can see how some people may question my choice here. However, Abrams proved recently with his Star Trek reboot that he’s fully capable of telling a compelling, action packed spectacle of a film that honors the source material while being it’s own fairly unique thing. As long as someone else with a passion for the material is writing the script then Abrams is definitely the guy to direct.

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Matt Bomer – Superman/Clark Kent

Just look at that strong hero jaw! Casting Superman is actually a pretty difficult thing to do. It has to be a fairly unknown person to be believable. Also, let’s face it. Nobody will ever be able to beat Christopher Reeve. He had a charisma about him that simply was Superman. I did enjoy Henry Cavill as a larger, more hulking, Ed McGuinness type of Superman. But I feel like people need a Superman they can relate a little more to. Someone with a charm that can lower your guard and make you feel comfortable. Matt Bomer shows in his show White Collar that he has that calming charm and charisma. Even though he plays a thief he has the ability to make you trust him. He also showed as Agent Bryce Larkin on Chuck that he can handle the action side of things extremely well. And Bonus Points, he was the voice of Superman in the animated film Superman: Unbound and had actually auditioned for the role for Flyby.

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Lauren Cohan – Lois Lane

Lois Lane is a strong, independent woman. One of the first in popular culture, in fact. To play her you need someone who can really pull that off believably as well as have good chemistry with the leading man. Amy Adams played a really strong Lois Lane in Man of Steel but I felt like she had zero chemistry with Henry Cavill. To the opposite, Kate Bosworth had good chemistry with Brandon Routh in Superman Returns but didn’t really come off as an appropriately strong and capable Lois Lane. Lauren Cohan has always played strong willed characters, whether she’s the high end thief who sold her soul on Supernatural or the heiress to a criminal organization on Chuck. She also always has good chemistry with the men she works with. Especially on her current gig as zombie apocalypse survivor and loyal girlfriend, Maggie Green, on The Walking Dead. She definitely has all of the qualities needed to be our intrepid reporter.

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Billy Zane – Lex Luthor

In the past 20 years there really has never been a doubt as to who the perfect Lex Luthor could be. Kevin Spacey did a great job as the maniacal property schemer type of Luthor in Superman Returns but we’re going to go with the evil businessman version. Traditionally bald actor Billy Zane is a shoe in. Don’t let his B-Movie filmography fool you, either. He’s an exceptional actor that even played a suave and arrogant rich villain with a temper in Titanic that almost mirrored Clancy Brown’s Lex Luthor from Superman: The Animated Series.

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Sam Worthington – Metallo/John Corbin

One of the biggest complaints of Superman Returns was the lack of action. It was more of a dramatic piece paying homage to the Donner film. Man of Steel had no shortage of action as it featured General Zod and an army of Kryptonian foot soldiers. We can’t do Zod again. Luckily, Superman’s rogues gallery of villains is virtually untapped on film. Enter John Corbin, a soldier who – after being fatally wounded in battle – becomes the guinea pig in a RoboCop style procedure that see’s Lex Luthor’s kryptonite weapon implanted into his chest and used as a super powered rival to Superman. Not to get into typecasting, but Sam Worthington has already shown that he can handle the half man/half machine role well in Terminator: Salvation. He can also play the troubled and morally conflicted type well, as shown in Avatar.

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Anton Yelchin – Jimmy Olsen

Can you believe they didn’t have Jimmy Olsen in Man of Steel?! Instead you had that pointless intern, Jenny Sometits. I could understand if there was a valid reason for having her instead of Jimmy but she didn’t do anything. She was just a random face in the crowd who got her ass stuck in some rubble when Superman knocked half of Metropolis down. Jimmy is an important part of the Superman mythology. He’s the “every man” that you’re supposed to be able to relate to. When kids read the comic they wanted to be friends with Superman. Recognizing this, DC Comics gave you “Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen.” To play this iconic role we’re going with JJ Abrams alum, Anton Yelchin, who showed as Chekov in the reboot of Star Trek that he can easily play the young, eager and smart supporting type. Another veteran of Terminator: Salvation, he’s also able to show off being loyal and brave when he needs to be.

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Bruce McGill – Perry White

There’s not a lot to say about Perry White. He’s tough. Authoritative. Compassionate. He’s hard on his people but he also loves them. These are all traits that character actor Bruce McGill can easily handle. He also happens to be a spitting image of how Mr. White is often drawn. He’d play the character in a similar way to the late Lane Smith (who did the Daily Planet chief admirably in Lois & Clark) whom he ironically co-starred with in The Legend of Baggar Vance.

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Ed Harris – General Sam Lane

I enjoyed the character of General Swanwick in Man of Steel. The idea of Superman revealing himself and not being trusted by the US government was an admirable part of that film and something that I’d also like to explore. But I would not have created the character of Swanwick. I’d go with the existing character of General Sam Lane. Not only does he have bad history with Superman in the comics but his involvement would add a level of drama to Lois Lane. To play this pivotal supporting role I’m going with Ed Harris. He’s great character actor of both heroes, villains and misguided moralists. He especially showed his military leader chops, as well, in The Rock.

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Scott Bakula – Jonathan Kent

Jonathan Kent is a huge part of Superman’s story, even if he doesn’t have a lot of screen time on film. Kevin Costner did a fantastic job, even if his version was a little more cynical than others, and I especially love Smallville‘s John Schneider. To play Jonathan Kent you need to portray a guiding influence but more than anything you need to be a loving father. I can’t think of any actor – other than the two previously mentioned who have already tackled the role – better suited than Scott Bakula. Never mind Quantum Leap or Star Trek: Enterprise, check out his fatherly episodes of Chuck. That’s all you really need to picture one hell of a Jonathan Kent.

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Julianne Moore – Martha Kent

Much like Jonathan, Martha is a loving mother more than anything else. Julianne Moore has that kind of role plastered all over her filmography from Boogie Nights to The Forgotten…even to the remake of Carrie for all intents and purposes. She has that ability to genuinely show those maternal instincts and give incredibly dynamic and dramatic performances. She could easily be the troubled and protective mother all in one.

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Daniel Craig & Lena Headey – Jor-El & Lara

Lastly, to play Superman’s Kryptonian parents we have James Bond himself, Daniel Craig, and Queen of Sparta as well as the TV version of Sarah Conner, Lena Headey. Similar to Man of Steel and Superman: The Movie, Jor-El and Lara will appear throughout the movie in Krypton flashbacks and as ghostly holograms in the Fortress. Craig has that striking, blue eyed hero look that screams Superman’s dad. Similarly, Headey has shown in 300 and Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles that she, like Julianne Moore, can be the strong willed maternal type. Not to mention that her Greek get-up from 300 even gives some resemblance to some artists versions of Lara.

And that brings us towards the end of the casting for Superman

And much like the Batman Casting Couch, we’ll conclude with:

The Stinger

When the movie comes to a close, Metallo is beaten by Superman, who is herald as hero. General Lane is humiliated for his efforts against the Man of Steel and heads back to his office for some solitude. Waiting for him in the shadows is…

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Robin Givens – Amanda Waller

One of the leaders of the mysterious government organization known as Checkmate and founder of the super villain black ops team – The Suicide Squad. Waller has appeared in previous DC incarnations such as Smallville, Arrow and Green Lantern. To play her here I’m looking toward Robin Givens who played an exceptional and rather shady CIA director for a couple of episodes of Chuck (and yeah…I’m aware that Chuck has popped up a lot in this list. It was never intended to be a reunion of any sorts. It just so happens that a lot of people I would have chosen naturally have landed on that show). Givens is direct and hard hitting and a natural choice for Director Waller.

General Lane approaches Waller in his office and after some banter about what she’s doing there and the events that happened in the film, Waller hits him with some blackmail and an ultimatum. Just before she leaves we get this little delivery:

LANE: IS THIS WHERE YOU THREATEN ME AND WAIT FOR ME TO MAKE A MOVE?

WALLER: THERE ARE NO MORE MOVES TO MAKE GENERAL… YOU’RE IN CHECKMATE…

dun, Dun, DUN!!!

Thanks for sticking with me on this rather long one, dear readers. I hope you enjoyed it. Come back next time when I bring you The DC Universe Part 4 – Wonder Woman.

Greeting Couch Potatoes! That’s the new nickname I’m kicking around for followers of this “Casting Couch” series. What do you think? Anyways, when last we were here I started to cast the DC Universe in a bold new series that would follow the Marvel method of introducing our heroes in their own solo adventures before uniting them for a world saving epic in Justice League. We kicked things off with the Guillermo Del Toro directed Green Lantern: The Emerald Dawn, in which we were introduced to Hal Jordan, the Green Lantern Corps and the existence of extraterrestrial threats to our home world. Now we’re going to take a step back and anchor things to Earth for a bit with the reintroduction of one of DC’s more recognizable heroes and film icons. Lady and gentlemen, I give you:

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Christopher Nolan did an amazing thing with his first two forays into the world of the Dark Knight (he lost sight of things a bit with The Dark Knight Rises, as he fell into a trap that many do with wanting to tell a larger than life story in a self contained trilogy that was just two big for those final two hours). But with the first two, Batman was grounded into a realistic and well thought out singular universe. They took some of the corniest notions of the comic and validated them in logical, real world situations. It was, for the most part, a successful little trilogy. But much like with Green Lantern before it, our Batman is going to focus on doing three things differently: 1) It obviously won’t be self contained. Our Batman is part of a bigger universe so there will be subtle allusions to the rest of DC Universe. Especially where the events of Green Lantern are concerned. Batman never fully trusted each member of the Justice League because of the power they wield. So with this first film we’ll start to explore that distrust. 2) It’s going to be more of an ensemble piece instead of just a Batman film. There are a lot of rich characters and points of view in the Batman mythology. Not to mention different degrees of psychology. We’re going to shake things up by showing you not just Batman but also interwoven storylines involving the GCPD, investigative journalist Vicki Vale and other members of the less explored supporting cast. 3) It won’t be an origin story. Nolan covered that ground fine and, honestly, Batman’s origin has been told so many different times that you’re essentially born with that knowledge now. So this film will kick off with Batman having already been crusading and have various people on his trail. Minor flashbacks strategically placed will tell his “origin” and also set up a grander mystery to be explored across the series.

So with that, let’s get into the grim and gritty…

A vigilante crusader known to the public as The Batman is fighting crime in Gotham City. But is he friend or foe? Many are trying to find out. But a greater menace surfaces as a lunatic starts murdering the city’s citizens in gruesome ways. Some will have to decide if catching a vigilante is worth the risk of letting a lunatic run free. But the question still looms, who are these masked people and what greater mystery is still on the horizon?

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David Fincher – Director

Seven. Fight Club. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Hell…even Alien 3 to certain extents…Fincher has proven time and again that he can tell a gritty, dramatic, character driven suspense story with plenty of action. And he has a huge talent for taking you into the minds of the characters involved, which would be a huge part of this new series. If he can tone things down to a teen friendly PG-13 rating you’ve got the perfect Batman director at the helm.

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Karl Urban – Batman/Bruce Wayne

Urban is a fantastic character actor. Whether he’s a Rider of Rohan (Lord of the Rings), a Russian secret service assassin (The Bourne Supremacy), a familiar Starfleet doctor (Star Trek reboot) or the epitome of motorcycle street justice (Dredd), you can’t help but fully believe he’s that character. The problem with Ben Affleck – and even Christian Bale after he hit big with the first film – is the recognition. When Man of Steel 2: The Dark Knight Returns hits theaters in 2015, all you’re gonna see is Ben Affleck. No matter how good of a performance he may deliver. Urban has managed to stay secluded enough within his characters for you to still be able to believe he’s Batman.

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Mads Mikkelsen – The Joker

Nobody can deny how great Heath Ledger was as The Joker. Not to mention Mark Hamill’s iconic voice work for the character than spanned 20 years. But for this version we’re looking at Mikkelsen. Perhaps you recall him from a little film called Casino Royal or have seen his work on Hannibal. Fincher has a great ability to bring out one’s inner psychotic. So these two would introduce us to one frighteningly evil clown price of crime. Maybe he’ll even wear a face with a gruesome twist on the New 52 version of the Joker.

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Yvonne Strahovski – Vicki Vale

Forget Kim Basinger! Sure…she was fine in the Tim Burton original with her pouty looks and modern business woman professionalism. But this Vicki Vale is going to be a bit more exotic. She’s the independent go getter that will do whatever it takes to land her story. And this particular story leads her to Wayne Manor! For that kind of sex appeal we’re looking right towards the veteran Chuck star. Sure, I would have loved to see her suit up in the Marvel universe as Agent Sharon Carter but Ms. Vale will work out equally as well.

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Bryan Cranston – Commissioner Jim Gordon

The former Breaking Bad star has Jim Gordon written all over him. Sure, he’s possibly up for the role of Lex Luthor right now but come on! Look at him! And this wouldn’t be Gary Oldman’s version. This is veteran police commissioner Jim Gordon. The guy with the secret relationship to Batman that forces him to throw his own people off the trail. And trust me…it’s beating him down a bit as a particular few are getting closer.

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Jeremy Irons – Alfred Pennyworth

One of the most interesting things about Alfred is that he’s a former British super spy. Michael Caine can talk about Burma all he wants but his character’s past never really came out in that performance. English born actor and Die Hard With A Vengeance badass Jeremy Irons has everything you need for an Alfred with a bigger, if not slightly secretive, background.

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Bill Nighy – Carmine Falcone

Yep…we’re doing Falcone again. But it’s because Falcone is a strong villain deeply rooted in the Batman mythology. His involvement could later open us up to something in the realm of The Long Halloween. For our take on “The Roman” we’re looking at Bill Nighy, who has proven with various films like Underworld and the Pirates of the Caribbean series that he can easily play a calm, cool and collected villain. Even if for a shorter time than the film’s main villain.

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Eva Green – Selina Kyle

No, this film isn’t going to feature Catwoman per se. That would be way too much story. And one of the things I thought was most tragic about The Dark Knight Rises is that I thought Anne Hathaway was perfect casting for that role and the character was horrendously misused and under utilized because of the sheer amount that Nolan was trying to cram into that film. So no…no Catwoman. But you will be introduced to Selina Kyle in a small supporting role (if not cameo) represented in Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One street tough prostitute persona. For that I’m looking toward former Bond Girl and Camelot star, Eva Green. She just has that certain exotic, tough girl exterior that can be easily translated into Madam Kyle and eventually (in the inevitable follow up) Catwoman.

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Guy Pearce – Harvey Dent

Yes…I know…Guy Pearce has already dipped his toe in the Marvel universe as one of the villains in Iron Man 3. However, since it’s incredibly unlikely that his character will be resurfacing I’d say that one-and-done performance doesn’t carry enough weight to hold him back from a little crossover action. Plus, he’s kind of a dead ringer for many artists interpretations of Dent; played one hell of a prosecutor in Rules of Engagement and was even rumored to be up for this very role early on into Christopher Nolan’s setup.

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Michelle Rodriguez – Det. Renee Montoya

Do I really need to go any further? The pictures featured above do all of the talking. The Fast & Furious actress looks tailor made for the role of tough lesbian detective and future superhero investigator, The Question. And Rodriguez has made a strong career out of being a team player on the ensemble front. She’d easily be able to pull off being part of the two cop pair trying to track down leads on The Bat and has a suspicion there’s a lot that Gordon isn’t telling her.

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Michael Madsen – Det. Harvey Bullock

Who better to play washed up, tough guy Detective Bullock than washed up, tough guy Reservoir Dog Michael Madsen? Y’know…if he took a break from whichever Tarantino/Robert Rodriguez flick he’s doing this week. He’d be a knockout – especially with Fincher’s direction – and it could really catapult him back into some mainstream glory…as long as he doesn’t get killed off by Mikkelsen’s Joker…

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Lennie James – Lucius Fox

Finally we come to head of Wayne Enterprises, Lucius Fox. It’s not going to be quite the same version of Fox you may be familiar with. He’s not going to know that Bruce is Batman (at least not at first) and he won’t be leaving any easy to follow paper trails connecting Wayne Enterprises to the Bat Mobile. However, he will have his own unique presence – perhaps more so as the series progresses – and for that we look to Mr. Lennie James. Like others on the list, James is a phenomenal character actor. Check him out in his two episodes of The Walking Dead if you’re one of the few who haven’t already!

So with that we close out the cast of Batman. But now it’s time to introduce a new segment that I didn’t include with the Green Lantern edition…

THE STINGER

For those of you who don’t know, a Stinger Ending is an additional scene that comes during or after the credits as a fun little way to advance the story. With Batman, we’re going to have two Stingers:

STINGER 1 (During the credits): Batman is sitting at his computer in the Batcave watching a series of reports on his jumbotron bat computer. Alfred walks in with a newspaper (The Daily Planet to be exact) and says “Master Bruce…the strangest thing seems to have just happened in Metropolis.” To which Batman replies through his teeth, “I know.”

STINGER 2 (After the credits): This is actually a scene I thought would have greatly benefited The Dark Knight. After the Joker is inevitably beat, he’s sent to Arkham Asylum. He’s in a straight jacket in his cell. The door opens and an attractive young woman walks in wearing a professional pant suit. She says “I’m Dr. Quinzel, your court appointed psychologist. Before we get started I’d like to ask for your name. As a matter of treating you I prefer not to identify you as ‘The Joker.'” Joker then looks up with a half sinister grin and says, “Then by all means…call me Mr. J.”

Dr. Quinzel smiles.

Back in the days of yore there was Wizard Magazine. One of my favorite features was the CASTING CALL. It was a feature where the staff picked a comic book and chose actors to play the characters. The actors weren’t always chosen realistically and the same actor was often used more than once (ie: Bruce Campbell) but it was a fun segment. So with that, I’m launching the first in a series that I hope to post weekly wherein I cast the DC Universe in an interconnected film series that follows the Marvel method and culminates with JUSTICE LEAGUE.

You may have seen my previous blog where I argued why DC and Warner Bros. need to combine their new Man of Steel film universe with their Arrow TV universe to successfully transition into their planned 2017 Justice League film. That argument obviously still stands as it directly relates to their current approach. This new series is more of a fantasy league or wish list. It has nothing to do with any existing film from the DC Universe. These will not be sequels or spin-offs in any way. It’s a brand new start. Think of it as The New 52 of the DC film universe. So with that, let’s get started.

One of the smart decisions by Marvel was to kick off their film franchise with Iron Man. As a character, he’s well known but not necessarily at the top tier for most fans. Logically and chronologically, if one were going to launch an Avengers universe they probably would have started with Captain America. But by starting with Iron Man, Marvel gave you a character you could relate to (in a sense) while establishing that certain fantastical things in this world are possible. It also built anticipation for what can come next. So transpose to the DC Universe, you might expect to start with Batman or Superman. However, Batman doesn’t establish what can be possible in this new universe whereas Superman establishes too much possibility all at once. You need to lead in with a strong, well known character that can kind of middle ground everything and build off of that in highs and lows like Marvel did.

So, for the first film in the New DC, I give you:

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The original Green Lantern film had some potential. But the creative team did, in my opinion at least, three things fatally wrong that lead to poor reception from both fans and critics alike. 1) Too much CGI. I’ll give them the obvious ring effect stuff and I understand why the suits were CG, but when characters like Sinestro, Abin Sur and Tomar-Re were animated over the actors portraying them it got to be too much. They need to rely more on practical effects so that the visual team could spend more time making the few visual effects look better. 2) Too much Ryan Reynolds – Not enough story. Green Lantern has a rich and slightly complicated story. They took what parts of it they wanted and cliff noted them in an ominous narration and spent the rest of the time watching Ryan Reynolds play every character he’s ever been (which is one character) in a CG suit. 3) They lead in with Parallax. The Parallax story is one of the best in comics and they flushed it away by making him the core villain of the first film. This film would have a more conservative main conflict, which would allow room to plant subtle seeds and undertones for stories to come.

While transporting the intergalactic war criminal, Atrocitus, to Oa – Green Lantern Abin Sur is fatally wounded and crash lands on Earth where fearless test pilot Hal Jordan is selected to replace him. Jordan is transported to Oa, citadel of the Guardians of the Universe and base of the Green Lantern Corps, to train. But Jordan must quickly return to Earth unprepared for the dangers ahead when he learns that Atrocitus is still on the loose.

And now, for the main event in 3… 2… 1….

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Guillermo Del Toro – Director

How good of a successful comic book adaptation was Hellboy? AND it used the hell out of some practical effects and everything looked great! Throw in films like Blade 2 and Pacific Rim and there’s no doubt that Del Toro is the perfect director to helm Green Lantern. His ability to tell a visual, character driven story around extraterrestrial and inter-dimensional themes with plenty of intense action is virtually unrivaled.

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Charlie Hunnam – Hal Jordan/Green Lantern

Having starred in Del Toro’s Pacific Rim, Hunnam has already proven his sci-fi/action hero chops as well as the emotional damage that would come with playing Hal Jordan. Not to mention the striking similarity and the fact that he can pull off wearing a sci-fi suit.

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Erica Durance – Carol Ferris

No stranger to the DC Universe, Durance played Lois Lane on TV’s Smallville. She has both the military brat attitude and sex appeal to easily play Ferris and the physique to throw down as Star Sapphire should the film franchise go that route with her character.

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William Fichtner – Sinestro

Fichtner is an amazing character actor that can pull off both action and drama. He’s still in great shape for his age and is even getting ready to throw down as The Shredder in the Michael Bay produced Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (however ill advised that whole film may be). Throw on some practical effect makeup and a mustache and you have one hell of a Sinestro good for a whole trilogy.

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Will Smith – John Stewart

Probably the least likely to ever actually happen on this list but also (I think) one of the most spot on bits of casting. Smith has had a lot of trouble lately. He’s not the marketable action start that he used to be. I mean, After Earth was awful (although that’s probably more to the fault of M. Night Shyamalan) but he walked away from that sporting a dead ringer look for Green Lantern of Sector 2814.3. If he’s willing to play ball in a supporting role with this first film (he’d just be playing John Stewart – ex-military construction worker and helpful man on the street when crap goes down against Atrocitus) he could easily take a higher profile role down the line in the sequels and Justice League franchise.

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Jason Momoa – Atrocitus

Momoa is actually reportedly up for a role in Man of Steel 2 (possibly as Doomsday) but since none of those existing films and projects matter here he’s a clear choice for Atrocitus. Not only for his sheer size but he also proved to play a smart and methodically villain in the tremendously underrated Bullet to the Head. Then, of course, there’s his viciousness from Game of Thrones. Again, practical makeup effects are really all you need here. CGI enhancements at best but that’s all.

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Christopher Lambert – Ganthet

Here’s one of the few exceptions to using CGI. In this case you’d want an actor in a MoCap suit with the visage of the Guardians animated over them. Most of the Guardians can be throwaway actors as they wouldn’t need much screen time but Ganthet needs an actor that can display the stoic look of a being who’s suppressed his feelings as well as show that glimmer of light when hope starts to get renewed. Lambert has both of those qualities, plus a raspy voice that I honestly kind of hear coming from Ganthet.

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Clancy Brown – Kilowog (Voice)

Again, Kilowog is a character that would almost entirely be CGI, but with less effort focused on animating half the film the visual department can make him look really good. The late Michael Clark Duncan voiced him in the original film, and it was fine, but his voice was way too recognizable. It kind of lessened the illusion. If Clancy Brown can come up with a mix between the growling tone of The Kurgen from Highlander and the over-the-top authoritativeness of Drill Sergeant Zim from Starship Troopers then you have one hell of a Kilowog!

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Peter Mensah – Abin Sur

I mean…just look at him. The Spartacus veteran has this character written all over him. Right down to the jaw structure!Throw some magenta on him and you’ve pretty much got it handled.

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Doug Jones – Tomar-Re

Another Del Toro veteran, Jones has built a career out of wearing practical effects makeup and letting other actors dub over his voice. Although he actually got to lend his own voice to Abe Sapien in Hellboy 2. That said, just look at Abe Sapien, the Silver Surfer and The Gentlemen from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Jones totally has Tomar-Re in the bag.

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David Thewlis – Hector Hammond

I enjoyed Peter Sarsgaard’s take on the character in the original film, but for this time out it has to go to Harry Potter alumn Peter Thewlis. He has that wormy scientist look down while also demonstrating that soft spoken intellectualism for when he’s transformed by the meteor that powers Abin Sur’s ship. He’d obviously be a second tier villain to Atrocitus but a necessary part to a Green Lantern film nonetheless.

Green Lantern: The Emerald Dawn would be the first in a trilogy that interlinks with the rest of the DC Universe. The follow up films would be Green Lantern: Revenge of the Manhunters and Green Lantern: In Blackest Night (which would actually be based more on the fall of Sinestro and not the poorly received Blackest Night crossover series).

So what did you think? Interested to see where I go from here? Tune in next week for CASTING COUCH: The DC Universe Part 2 – The Batman!

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Five years ago Marvel Entertainment Studios started something bold. They released Iron Man. No…that wasn’t the bold part. Although it can be argued that, at the time, Iron Man wasn’t the hot property that warranted a feature film that would shatter records and resurrect the career of failed drug addict Robert Downey, Jr. The “something bold” in question here is that it was the first step at a singular cinematic universe of the Earths Mightiest Heroes. Iron Man paved the way for a decent Incredible Hulk movie, which morphed into Thor which lead into a throwback to Captain America which ultimately brought us to The Avengers. And that, dear readers, is what forever changed the landscape of superhero cinema and shattered many people’s preconceived notions that Joss Whedon can’t let Buffy the Vampire Slayer go and direct a good movie.

The box office success of The Avengers did more than that, though. It also got the folks at DC Comics and Warner Bros. salivating for some more money now that the Harry Potter franchise has ended. There was only one problem, when Superman Returns didn’t take flight (ba-dump sha) with a lot of people, DC/WB quickly realized that their only successful comic property was Christopher Nolan’s stand alone Dark Knight Trilogy, which he had no intention of ever expanding upon. What to do? What to do?

“I’ve got it!” some suit at Warner Bros. said one day. “Let’s just make a fucking Justice League movie! People will pay to see that. I mean look at all the money that Disney just made on their thingy!” 

“But, sir…” another WB suit said while nervously wiping off his flop sweat, “we haven’t taken the time to set up a Justice League universe. The audience may not know who they all are. Plus, his majesty, Mr. Nolan is done with Batman and Ryan’s Green Lantern movie kind of…well, you know…sucked.”

“Never fear! We’re in the clear!” the executive optimistically rhymed. “We’ll launch a new Superman movie to kick things off. And to make sure the audience likes this one, we’ll go to our well of successes. We’ll get the director of 300 to make it as dark and moody as our Batman films and as plot convenient as Inception. THEN! We’ll make a sequel that in some way introduces all of the other necessary characters so that we can have our Justice League movie as soon as possible. What can possibly go wrong?!”

Well…it probably goes without saying that Man of Steel wasn’t what they were expecting either. And sure, I have my problems with it. Many problems, in fact. But ultimately it’s not a bad movie. I find basic enjoyment in it. It’s not the Superman movie I would have made. And it’s definitely not the foundation that I would have built a new Justice League franchise on. But it is what it is and we move on. Worse things have happened. But like I said, Man of Steel, for all of its faults is still a good movie and, if nothing else, can be improved upon. You know…give him one more good, solid, stand alone movie to really flesh out the character and let him come into his own as the Superman that people know and expect and we’ll be good to go.

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WELL SHIT!

Yep…as announced at San Diego Comic Con 2013, the sequel to Man of Steel is going to be the Batman vs Superman film (or whatever title they decide on). And sure, this is something that has been in the works before. And honestly, it has been a long time coming. The two pair up frequently and their dynamic is very intriguing. This was bound to happen. However, I don’t think it needed to happen yet. But…it is what it is. At least it will only focus on the reintroduction of Batman to this new universe and we’ll still see some hopefully good old fashioned Superman emerge…completely unhindered by any overcrowding of story and characters.

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#@!%&%^#@!!!!

Ok…so Batman vs Superman with at the very least cameo appearances by Wonder Woman, Nightwing and rumor also has it The Flash. Along with Lex Luthor and most of the returning cast from Man of Steel. Ok…we can roll with this. I mean X-Men: The Last Stand and Spider-Man 3 had A LOT going on, too, and those were good movies…oh…um…yeeeaaahhhh…..

Ok…it is what it is. Roll with those punches. Move on. Because you know what? There is a silver lining in this play book! The DC Universe has a savior and, believe it or not, it isn’t the Man of Steel or the Caped Crusader.

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That’s right boys and gir…well…BOYS! Green Lantern film scribe/producer Greg Berlanti and The CW have a massive hit on their hands in the form of Arrow, starring Stephen Amell as the emerald archer Green Arrow. This show does for Green Arrow what Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy did for Batman. It strips away the camp and grounds the character in a grim and gritty real world drama chock full of crime, corruption, scandal and family issues. And since Green Arrow doesn’t have the largest or most recognizable rogue’s gallery of villains it has done a hell of a job with reinventing some of the lesser knowns from across the DCU such as Deadshot, The Royal Flush Gang, Firefly and Count Vertigo. Plus it has recently launched the knowledge that Ras Al Ghul and the League of Assassins are out there and Spartacus alum, Manu Bennett, is playing one awesome Slade Wilson in the flashback sequences with the option on the table that he’ll soon enough become Deathstroke the Terminator. Fellow Spartacus veteran, Katrina Law, is signed on to join as Ras’ lesser known daughter Nyssa in future episodes and Amanda Waller was recently introduced (which makes room for the emergence of The Suicide Squad and/or Checkmate). Arrow has formed a very rich and intriguing universe on television for DC and it’s about to get bigger with the introduction of Barry Allen for a couple episodes (played by Glee‘s Grant Gustin) who is set to spin off in his own Flash series. Why does any of this matter in the grand scheme of Man of Steel 2: The Dark Knight Returns (or Batman vs Superman After Meeting Wonder Woman)? Well I’m glad you asked that! Going back to the Marvel/Disney archetype…Agents of SHIELD has proven that you can, in fact, seamlessly blend a film universe with a television series. Sure, it may not be the greatest or most interesting show and it’s ratings are consistently dropping each week (which simply means that there may not be a season 2) but it’s successfully doing what it needs to do, which is expand on the SHIELD organization and set up, albeit slowly, that Coulson (played well by Clark Gregg – as the best part of the show) actually did die in The Avengers and that he is now a robot/cyborg/android and therefore will be established as The Vision. THAT’S NOT A SPOILER ALERT. Don’t panic! It’s just my educated guess on where they are going with that particular storyline.

Anyways, back to the horcrux of the matter. Arrow and Flash are (and respectively will be) two solid pieces set in the same universe. Arrow is even on their way to establishing a potentially good Birds of Prey storyline as they have already introduced The Huntress, Black Canary and the clock tower. And if they can’t get Barbara Gordon in the mix then you have the character of Felicity who is also a glasses wearing hacker/communicator type.

The most important bit of news, though, is that it seems the powers that be have transmitted my hopes and dreams to the brains of the WB executives! Arrow star Stephen Amell recently, and cryptically, tweeted a photo of an old comic cover where Green Arrow joins the Justice League to his fans and rumor has it the suits want Grant Gustin to play the Flash cameo in the next feature (should his episodes of Arrow and the Flash pilot test well). This is exciting news because it means they are looking to the possibility of blending these two worlds into one. It’s a smart move and here’s why:

1. Marvel and Disney spent years, billions of dollars and a lot of fan anticipation on building the cinematic Avengers universe. DC and Warner Bros, so far, seems to have spent the time and cost of a board meeting. They need to rely on the stability of this established universe if they don’t want the concept of a Justice League movie to implode on them. You can’t just light a bunch of firecrackers with a short fuse and put them in a coffee can. It doesn’t end well. If DC isn’t willing to do what Marvel did then they have to make due with what they have. Fortunately for them, what they have is already working really well.

2. Unlike the Marvel Comics lineup, DC Comics characters just don’t necessarily translate well to feature films in their own cinematic franchises. Superman works. Batman works. Green Lantern COULD work and I’m honestly interested in seeing them continue with the Ryan Reynolds series because (A) it’s established and (B) was not so much of a travesty that it can’t be salvaged after enough time has gone by to wash out the bad taste. And Wonder Woman is as yet untested in theaters but has the potential to do well. But Green Arrow? Flash? Aquaman? Blue Beetle? Red Tornado? Booster Gold? There isn’t any cinematic value there. However, if done well enough, they are all strong enough candidates for quality TV shows that can bridge in and out of the Justice League series. And the melding doesn’t have to end with Stephen Amell and Grant Gustin showing up in Justice League or Man of Steel 2: Electric Bugaloo. I mean, sure, your not going to ever see Ben Affleck guest star on episode of Flash but there can be an episode of Arrow where Oliver Queen is reading a copy of the Daily Planet with a picture of Henry Cavill on the front page with a Lois Lane by line and a photo credit to Jimmy Olsen (yes! Jimmy Olsen! Screw that damn Jenny intern! What the hell?! It’s Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen. Not Superman’s Bitch What’s-Her-Name!). 

But anyway, yeah..it’s that easy. And suddenly you have a not-too-forced DC Universe on screen that, although not as strong and well thought out as the Marvel Universe, won’t be a total failure. And since I didn’t get to show any of the pictures up top, below are images of the established Black Canary and Huntress, Grant Gustin’s Barry Allen and a picture of Katrina Law to give you something to look forward to in Nyssa Al Ghul.

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Until next time, dear readers…

 

 

 

Boldy Go…or Go Home…

Posted: September 12, 2013 in Uncategorized

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On Tuesday, September 10, JJ Abrams’ follow up to his 2009 reboot of the Star Trek franchise, Star Trek Into Darkness, was released on DVD and Blu-Ray. I’m a huge Star Trek fan. There seems to be a commonly accepted line between whether you’re a Star Trek fan or a Star Wars fan. Apparently you can’t be both. It’s like living in Chicago and being a fan of the White Sox or the Cubs. Pick one. You can’t have it both ways. Personally, I never adhered to this line of thinking. I like both because they tell different stories. Where Star Wars is an adventure franchise telling familiar mythology in a space setting, Star Trek is about humanity as a people exploring space and encountering new cultures….with some fairly epic space battle shenanigans tossed in there from time to time.

It’s true that if asked which one I like more I’d have to go with Star Wars. Despite everything that happened in the prequels it still holds less disappointment on the whole. There’s a lot of boredom to be endured with the various Star Trek TV series and even a few movies. With less in the mix, George Lucas’ space opera tended to be more entertaining. That said, and speaking as a Star Trek fan, I think Abrams did a great job with the reboot by preserving certain elements that make Star Trek what it is as well as adding a much broader scope of action and adventure for the casual movie goer just looking to have a great time for a couple of hours. And I don’t agree with the recent poll that Into Darkness was the worst Trek movie ever. I mean, like any other movie, yes…it had it’s problems (and I’ll get into some of them further down when I reach my main point) but it was fun. It was entertaining, emotional and clever. Abrams point was to appeal to average, non-Trek fan movie goer but it still held the true Trek fan in high esteem. It essentially covered all of the bases.

Now, it should be pointed out that I like ALL of the Trek movies. Even the so-called “bad ones.” Maybe my opinion doesn’t mean much on the matter because I actually think my least favorite was Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (aka Save The Whales). This may come as a surprise because many consider it to be one of the best but to me a Star Trek movie should take place in 24th Century outer space. Not 1980s San Francisco. I also feel like Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and Star Trek V: The Final Frontier get a bad rap. Especially the latter. I’ve heard it argued that it was silly to have them searching for God…but why not? Is it really so far fetched of an idea? And you even got what was probably William Shatner’s best performance of the whole franchise out of that film.

Returning to the crux of the matter, though, despite enjoying both of Abrams’ forays into the newly rebooted Trek universe I do find a certain disconnect from what came before. I have nothing against reboots and remakes. If it’s warranted then by all means knock yourself out. You may have seen my previous blog in response to the recently released trailer to the Robocop remake, in which I discussed my views on remakes. They are fine. They aren’t always necessary or better than the original but on the whole they are okay. The problem I have with the reboot of Trek is that it’s not really a reboot. Abrams included a specific detail that, although sounding good at the time I’m sure, actually destroyed the reboot aspect. He tied it into original continuity by having Leonard Nemoy reprise the role of Spock in a time travel angle. With that it’s suddenly not a reboot. It’s a new timeline in the canon universe but now everything is inexplicably different. And I’m not referring to the alternate timeline events that resulted from [SPOILER ALERT] George Kirk being killed when the Romulan Nero time traveled and destroyed his ship in the 2009 film. I’m talking about the Romulans looking different. The radical re-design of the Enterprise and the new look of the Klingons. “Beaming” and warp speed have new, original special effects. These are all well and good as a reboot. Hell, they’re even encouraged. But if you’re dealing with a time travel storyline in original canon then these are things that shouldn’t be changed.

THE FOLLOWING SECTION CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR INTO DARKNESS. If you haven’t seen it yet you might want to skip down to the section where I say “[END SPOILERS].”

Star Trek Into Darkness features the crew of the Enterprise tracking down a terrorist named John Harrison who turns out to be Khan Noonien Singh, a villain quite popular from the original series and the film Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, played by English actor Benedict Cumberbach (who did an absolutely amazing job, by the way). All of that is all well and good if you’re just dealing with a straight reboot. However, in the original series, Khan (played by Ricardo Montalban) was a genetically engineered superior being of Indian ancestry from the 21st Century. In Into Darkness he’s the same thing except that he’s British. Now, having originated from the 21st Century, his nationality would not have been altered by the death of George Kirk.

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Also in the original series (season 2 episode Space Seed to be exact), John Harrison was an Enterprise crewman. Not a fictional identity bestowed upon Khan or anyone else. Sure, one could argue that somehow George Kirk’s death stopped Mr. Harrison from being born but what are the odds that someone would then use that name as a false identity for Khan. My chances of winning the Spanish National Lottery and inheriting the fortune of my dead Nigerian Prince cousin are far more likely, I’d say. So with Into Darkness the lines between reboot and canon get increasingly blurred and the weave really starts to fall apart. But again that doesn’t stop the movie from still being loads of fun. I just can’t seem to grasp a solid hold of it being a true Star Trek film.

[END SPOILERS]

It’s not just the plot holes and inconsistencies of trying to have both a reboot within a canon universe, either. I think the biggest part of why the new films don’t feel 100% like true Star Trek to me stems into a rather important realm of the reboot angle. The cast is different. Again, going back to the idea that reboots and remakes are fine, a new cast isn’t that big of a deal. However, also returning to the idea that these films are both a reboot and canon, new actors filling in these iconic roles becomes a small issue. Many people may not think so and that’s fine. These are just my humble opinions. Imagine though, if you will, that when Star Wars: Episode VII goes into production (and this is all hypothetical) it is decided that Harrison Ford didn’t want to reprise the role of Han Solo. Or maybe the filmmakers decide they want to go in a different, unexpected direction where those characters aren’t quite as old so they recast Josh Brolin as Han Solo. Again…this is hypothetical. I can’t stress that enough. I’m just making a point. Nobody would accept Brolin as Han Solo. Sure, they’d still go see the film and it would make over $1 Billion globally. But there’d be a lot of griping and the whole thing just wouldn’t feel right because we’ve spent the last 30 years associating the role of Han Solo with Harrison Ford. Ultimately that’s how I feel with the new Star Trek. They are fun movies and they couldn’t have got better people to fill the roles. They really couldn’t have. But the real Captain James T. Kirk will forever be William Shatner. The real Mr. Spock will always be Leonard Nimoy. And no matter how much he looks the part, Karl Urban just can’t beat our DeForest Kelley as Dr. McCoy. When the same people play a part for almost 40 years it’s hard to watch new people step in. And if it had just be an honest remake it would be easier to swallow. But when you throw time travel in you’re forced to accept something rather than do it willingly. It breaks the illusion. It shows you the strings.

I like the new Star Trek movies. They are entertaining and JJ Abrams is a great filmmaker. I guess I just kind of wish he had truly gone where no man had gone before instead of trying to bridge two separate universes together with a lot of the same storytelling.

The trailer for the remake of the sci-fi classic Robocop has hit the interwebz and the response seems to be, surprisingly, mostly positive. Now I’m not one to bash a remake. There are those people out there who love an original film so much that when a remake is proposed it’s like a slight against the Lord and a bitch slap to the face of their 80 year old grandmother or something. People rage uncontrollably when it’s announced that a remake is coming out. Especially now that we have the internet at our disposal to make said rage public.

(scans room with eyes)

To quote Ben Affleck performing a line written by Kevin Smith, “the internet has given the people a voice. And the people have chosen to use that voice to bitch about movies.” Case in point, the recent outcry over the aforementioned Affleck being cast as Batman and the similar fan distaste over the casting for the film adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey. So when it was announced some time ago that there was going to be remake of Robocop it goes without saying that there were some rumblings on the web. Especially when the first set photo of the revised costume design was released.

Again, I’m not one to judge something by whether or not it’s a remake. There have been a number of remakes that I thoroughly enjoyed. In some, albeit rare, cases I enjoyed them more than their respective original. As much as I love John Carpenter’s Halloween for what it established for the genre, it has an incredible number of production and story flaws that don’t hold up over time. For that reason I think Rob Zombie’s version is a technically better film because it was higher quality and maintained it’s honest appreciation for the source material. Though it does lack some of the more ominously terrifying scenes and themes that made Carpenter’s version resonate with so many. Similarly the remakes of A Nightmare on Elm Street, Evil Dead and Texas Chainsaw Massacre are quality films in that they were well made and didn’t hide the fact that they owed a lot to their predecessors. One of the rare instances where I think the remake was actually better than any of the versions that came before it (and I know I’m a minority in this thought) was the remake of Friday the 13th. I consider that 2009 remake to be better in that it took everything that made the original franchise so intriguing (by which I mean the straight forward and unapologetic usage of graphic slasher violence and nudity) and made it less campy and more grounded with realism. It was a scenario that you could almost actually see happen vs most of the events in the original series.

Then you have your remakes like the 2012 version of Total Recall starring Colin Farrel, Jessica Biel, Kate Beckinsale and Bryan Cranston. The original film, of course starring Arnold Schwarzenegger doing what he does best (kick ass and follow it up with a catchy one-liner), is a masterpiece of science fiction/action. Like most movies directed by Paul Verhoeven it was just as much a satire of certain topics and current events of the time as it was a science fiction adventure film. It also played with your mind and the perception of what was and wasn’t real the entire time. The 2012 version…well…it was definitely a movie…

I can’t say that I disliked the 2012 remake of Total Recall (directed by Len Wiseman). That would, in all honesty, be a bold faced lie. It was entertaining. To that end it served it’s purpose. But I also finished it not thinking much else or having a desire to go back and watch it again. Be it for further enjoyment or an examination of the underlying themes. A good movie –  bold movie if you will – doesn’t just shut your brain off with flashy imagery for two hours. It makes you think. It stimulates your senses on more than just the visual level. And maybe you walk away from it with a new perspective on something. However, the remake was nothing more than a generic, special effects induced, action spectacle. Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily. Again…it was fun. I was entertained. And there was more than one surprising throwback to the original that I enjoyed catching. However, unlike the original, I have no desire to watch it again.

By now you might be asking what any of this has to do with the trailer for Robocop. Well, as a matter of fact, Total Recall is a very good segue because that movie as well as the remake of Robocop (both coincidentally based on Paul Verhoeven movies) look to be the same exact thing. Which is nothing more than a lifeless visual spectacle void of anything that makes you return for a second, third or twentieth viewing. The original Robocop wasn’t just an action flick about a dead cop turned machine. That was just the surface. The icing of the cake the drew you in. It was actually a humorous satire of consumerism, Corporate America and Reaganomics as well as, on a more serious and deeper level, the struggle for a man to remember who he is and why he does what he does. If your thinking to yourself right now that that doesn’t sound like the Robocop you remember then you didn’t watch it correctly…or maybe you’re thinking of Robocop 2 or (God forbid) Robocop 3. Go back and watch it again sometime. The constant use of television ads (especially for the aptly named 3000 SUX…go ahead…read that last part as a word). Tell me that isn’t a statement about how we value things. The evil corporation (OCP) buying and controlling the police department. Corporate America. A very common theme in the 80s (and a re-emerging theme today). Robocop was more than an action movie. It made you think about the state that we as a people were in. Crime was everywhere. Innocent people got the worst of it. And higher society only really cared about what they could get for themselves. But it didn’t lecture to you. It didn’t blatantly throw these themes and ideas into your face. It was funny. It made you think about them in way in which you were still entertained. But it also told the story of a man who just wanted to help. Do things right and be the person he needed to be. Not just for the city but for his family. And when that was taken away from him it became the story of how he fought to get it back. It’s a morality tale on so many levels you might not even realize it.

The remake is generic. It’s action. It’s visuals and spectacle. It’s Samuel L. Jackson and Michael Keaton. And (at least based on the trailer that was released yesterday) it’s devoid of all the things that made the original what it was. There’s no humor. There’s no underlying subtext of current events. There’s no narrative about the world and the struggle for the main character to regain his humanity is actually muted by the forced direct involvement of his family. In the original you knew he had a family but you never saw them. They were told he was dead and they left town and moved on. Alex Murphy’s only connection to the world was his partner that he knew for less than a day. He had to fight for his humanity virtually on his own. Now his wife and son are being thrown into the frey so that he can make “conscious decisions.”

And I won’t really even make comments about the suit. It looks awful. A friend of mine earlier today said it reminded him more of an exosuit. And honestly, he’s right. The original Robocop was just a machine. He had Alex Murphy’s brain and face but he was a machine. You even had that cold hearted scene where Bob Morton told them to “lose the arm” making the case that, to them, he was just a product. This whole grafting a suit to the body and keeping his human right hand thing is not even in the same league as the crap they put the original Alex Murphy through.

However, the feedback of the trailer seems to be genuinely positive on the internet front. It took me be surprise how strongly it seems to be resonating. And yeah…it does look entertaining on the action and visual front the same way that Len Wisemean’s Total Recall was. But in the end that’s all it seems to be. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe it will come out and I’ll watch it and I’ll be genuinely impressed by what I see. But will I actually pay the ticket price? Well…I have one simple answer to that question…

I’d buy that for a dollar.

“I’m Batman.”

Posted: August 31, 2013 in Uncategorized

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By now everyone has heard the news. It’s no big secret or shocking revelation. Academy Award winner Ben Affleck has been cast as the new Dark Knight in Zack Snyder’s as yet untitled follow up to this summers Man of Steel. And, of course, you’ve no doubt become aware of enormous backlash about this news. So much so that the chemical weapons use in Syria doesn’t even seem to hold a candle to the magnitude of importance. Ben Affleck as Batman seems to be second only to Miley Cyrus “twerking” on stage at the VMAs.

But why are people so outraged? Well there are a few different reasons for such a negative reaction. Not the least of which is that people just love having something to bitch about. Especially in the film industry. It’s by far not the first time there has been a lot of internet rumblings and fan commotion about a particular character being recast with an unexpected choice. In recent memory alone you have Daniel Craig as James Bond with the popular internet dub “Blond, James Blond.” And in a more related matter there was a lot of distaste for Heath Ledger as The Joker in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight. Sure, Ledger had a massive smile that seemed very Joker-like, but ironically his actual smile would never be used in the film. Nolan had a different approach to the clown prince of crime that the late actor ended up playing quite brilliantly.

Batman just happens to be one of those characters that the fan community has a sentimental attachment to and believe that there are certain people that just aren’t cut out to play that role. In some cases those complaints are thoroughly justified and in some cases it’s a simple matter of “oh screw that guy! He sucks! I hate him.” However, in the case of Ben Affleck as Batman, it’s that rare situation that happens to be both of those.

I like Ben Affleck. I’m going to start there. There are a lot of people who don’t and that’s a fair assessment. He comes off as pompous and arrogant and he doesn’t have the greatest filmography to his credit. However, when given the right material and following the right direction he really is quite a phenomenal actor. I especially enjoyed his work as George Reeves in Hollywoodland. It was intense, dramatic material in a very well made picture. The fact that it didn’t reach a larger audience is tragic in itself because it really did tell an amazing true story that, to this day, still resonates with a lot of people. That said, it’s also the only time I’d ever want to see him in the Superman suit (a role that his 6 foot something, square-jawed appearance had him in the running for back in the day). There are just some roles that, no matter how good of an actor you are, you just aren’t suited for (no pun intended).

When Warner Bros. announced that Affleck had been cast as Batman most people, myself included, immediately shot to one thing in particular: Daredevil. As you know, Daredevil was a movie based on the Marvel Comics character that was very poorly received not only by fans but by the movie going public in general. Of course, anybody who knows me knows that I liked Daredevil – to an extent. I think the reason I’ve fought so hard for that opinion simply falls on the matter that Daredevil is one of my all time favorite characters and, at the time, I wanted to believe so hard that the movie was good that I just accepted that it was. I no longer feel as strongly for it as I once did but the director’s cut still holds up a hell of a lot better than the theatrical release did. But it does stand to reason that if you watch Daredevil the last thing you want to see, based on that performance, is Ben Affleck in a much higher profile and much more revered role as Batman.

I could be wrong. Naturally, how well or poorly an actor does a performance is something that can’t really be judged until it’s been seen. However, it seems unlikely that people will be able to accept Ben Affleck as Batman. Not just because of the Daredevil performance but also because he is too high-profile. Even in the cape and cowl – but especially in the case of Bruce Wayne – people won’t be able to see anything except Ben Affleck.

Richard Donner had the right idea when he told Warner Bros. that Superman needed to be played by an unknown actor. There are certain characters that can’t be played by an A-Lister because people will never see past who the actor is wearing the suit. With Batman it’s a little easier because in the suit his face is covered. But as Bruce Wayne he would still be just that actor. Christian Bale pulled it off well enough because when Batman Begins came out he wasn’t superstar status yet. He was known by some but his biggest roles at the time were cult classics at best. It wasn’t really until Batman that he joined the ranks of the A-List. Affleck is already a superstar actor. His roles need to be more carefully selected and limited to more personal or dramatic roles like Argo and The Town or roles where a superstar A-Lister is needed to sell the film to audiences Gigli or Forces of Nature. Batman is a role that desperately needs an unknown, or at least a known actor with a smaller resume.

Matt Damon recently did an interview defending Affleck and firing back at all of the negative criticisms about the news.

“I know there are a lot of people grousing on the Internet. I just think it’s kind of funny. You know he’s not playing King Lear – it’s Batman! Certainly within his skill set,” Damon said and added, “If anybody saw Argo or The Town and all the work he’s been doing lately, it’s way more nuanced and interesting than Batman.”

I like Damon as well – way much more than Affleck, in fact. The Bourne movies were amazing. But those are the words of someone who clearly doesn’t understand the character. There’s more to Batman, Superman and Spider-Man than just a few choreographed action scenes in a funny looking suit. These characters are pop culture. They are a part of the people who read and watch them. Batman has been around a lot longer than any of us and will continue to be around long after we’re gone. In the end, does it really matter who has played him? Probably not. Because there will always be someone else later. But in the here and now it’s important to try and get someone who will not only do well but meet the approval of the people paying to see it. Maybe we will be surprised. Maybe Ben Affleck will deliver a performance that redefines the Dark Knight for decades to come. But I’m sure that when he gets on screen and says the immortal words, “I’m Batman,” there will be plenty of people in the theater who say “no you aren’t.”