Girl Power!, part 2 of 2

“Another day, another alien to punch.” — Captain Marvel

Last week, I noted the historical dearth of female titular leads among superhero films and TV series, as well as the recent trend in a positive direction. In particular, we looked at several current such projects based on DC-based heroes (and villains). So, as promised, this week we will review those in development on the Marvel Comics side of the fence. But first…


Red Sonja, the “She-Devil with a sword” (also created by Conan’s Robert E. Howard), is getting a new film adaptation. I almost included this under the Marvel listings, because Marvel held the comic license for so many years, but Dynamite Entertainment owns it now and has closer ties to the movie production. Technically, I’m not sure “sword and sorcery” should be lumped under “superheroes”, either.

This one has been in development (sort of) since Robert Rodriguez and Rose McGowan were attached to it in 2008/2009. The failed reboot of Conan the Barbarian (2011) was a setback and by 2015 it was truly in “development hell”. Last November, though, Millennium Media announced it was financing/producing a Red Sonja reboot and putting it on the fast-track. Millenium’s Avi Lerner (The Expendables) said,

“We have been waiting for the right time for this remake, and with the success of Wonder Woman, the audience has spoken. They want female heroes.”

Lerner is producing with Joe Gatta (the Conan reboot) with support from Mark Canton (300) and Courtney Solomon (Cake) of Cinelou, among others. No casting news, but Bryan Singer is directing and Christopher Cosmos and David N. White are writing the screenplay.


Captain Marvel

1) Ever since a Captain Marvel solo film was announced over two years ago, fans have been waiting with great anticipation. The character has become quite popular in the comics, so it makes sense that Marvel would want to capitalize on that by making her their Phase 3 “big gun”. In a sense, she is Marvel’s answer to Wonder Woman — an incredibly strong (in more ways than one) and complex female hero, who they hope can carry a film on her own. While I might not have thought to cast Brie Larson in the role, I am optimistic that she can pull it off.

Captain Marvel, which is due out next March, puts the character in the 1990s and sends her into space. So, audiences will see her “origins” and an explanation for why she hasn’t been on Earth for awhile. Those “origins”, by the way, are being altered a bit from the comics, in order to reduce the parallels with DC’s Green Lantern. Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck — frequent professional collaborators and now married, as well — are co-directing the film. They are also credited with the screenplay, along with five other women. (I wonder how that worked! Fifteen minutes’ worth of screen-time apiece?)

2) Probably the other most-anticipated, female-led Marvel movie is Black Widow. Finally! She has guested in a few of the other Avengers’ solo movies, but hasn’t got her own. But, as of January of this year, it was finally confirmed that Scarlett Johansson would be reprising the ‘Natasha Romanoff’ / ‘Black Widow’ character in a solo film of her own. The character has been around in the comics for quite awhile and is much older than she looks, so there is plenty of fodder for source-faithful stories.

There is no release date as yet beyond the tentative year 2020. No known plot, either, though it will probably be a prequel to her previous appearances. (I’m hoping for a cool, Cold War spy flick!) Nicole Perlman (treatment) and Jac Schaeffer (screenplay) have writing credits, according to IMDB. Cate Shortland (Berlin Syndrome) is directing, while Victoria Alonso shares exec producing credit with her usual Marvel partners (Stan Lee, Kevin Feige, Louis D’Esposito).

3&4) Not long after Sony confirmed (early 2017) that Tom Hardy would be starring in their Venom movie, the studio announced it had hired Gina Prince-Bythewood (Marvel’s “Cloak and Dagger”) to direct and do some script rewrites on Silver & Black, which would unite the Black Cat and Silver Sable characters. Black Cat, of course, is Felicia Hardy, a cat burglar who alternately flirts and fights with Spider-Man. (Yes, it’s an obvious “rip-off” of the Catwoman/Batman relationship, though that’s about where the similarities ended.) Silver Sable is Silver Sablinova, who led the Symkarian mercenary group “The Wild Pack” (whom she “inherited” from her father) and founded Silver Sable International. No surprise, Spidey has been known to both clash and team up with Sable (with or without the Wild Pack).

Black Cat and Silver Sable

An early report described the plot as having Sable hired to track down Black Cat, and several other costumed characters would make appearances. The movie would end with Sable assembling an Avengers-like, all-female team. There were other reports but, long story short, that project stalled out. Then, early this past August, Sony announced that they were replacing the team-up with solo Silver Sable and Black Cat films, with the latter being first in the queue. According to Sanford Panitch, president of Columbia Pictures and overseer of Sony’s Universe of Marvel Characters (SUMC),

“We believe Black Cat is enough of her own character with a great backstory and a canon of material to draw from to justify her own film.”

No release dates or much else to report. Last I read, Prince-Bythewood’s involvement with either film is uncertain, but if she doesn’t direct, Sony still plans to hire a female for the job. I will note that I don’t see a Black Cat entry on IMDB, yet, but I do see one for Silver Sable. It lists Prince-Bythewood as a producer and Geneva Robertson-Dworet (Captain Marvel, Tomb Raider reboot) as writer.

5) I recently discovered several lesser-known Marvel characters from the Spidey books that Sony has plans to make solo films about, thereby attempting to further expand their Spider-Man-related universe without Spider-Man (‘cuz they don’t have the rights to him). One of those characters is ‘Jackpot’, a young costumed crimefighter who got her powers from a mix of Mutant Growth Hormone (MGH), anabolic steroids, and other drugs. She appeared in a handful of issues back in 2008. That’s it. So, while they could make a workable story about her without the Spider-Man connection, ya gotta ask, “Why?”

6) Now, for the small-screen we have a new series in development for ABC by Allan Heinberg. You may recognize Heinberg’s name from his many years as a TV writer and producer or maybe from the fact that he wrote the screenplay for Wonder Woman (2017). The series will follow an all-female team of Marvel heroes. Who? Dunno. At this point, we don’t even know if they will be big names or “lesser known characters.” What we do know is that Heinberg will executive produce (with Jeph Loeb, of course) for the Marvel TV / ABC Studios joint project.

To be honest, I’m not big on sword-and-sorcery these days (exceptions being GoT and anything by Tolkien), so I’ll probably skip any Red Sonja flick. I’m definitely interested in the Captain Marvel and Black Widow movies, though. Those ladies are bad@$$! I’m hopeful that the Black Cat and Silver Sable productions get done and done well, ‘cuz those are fun characters that might be able to carry their own films outside of a strong connection to Spider-Man. I’d love to see a heist/caper movie and a manhunt, respectively. Jackpot I couldn’t care less about and, if Sony gets a clue, they will hopefully realize that the odds are stacked against it being a success and just kill the project. As for the ABC TV series, it sort of depends on what characters and direction they decide to go, but for now, color me intrigued.

Just so you know, I am not a feminist, so that’s not where I’m coming from on this subject. Naturally, then, I don’t want to see strong “feminist” themes pushed in these projects. But, I do appreciate that this is one genre where women tend to get the short shrift. That’s a real shame, because there are some great female characters and talent. So, despite some reservations, I am pleased to see efforts being made to correct this situation. As long as there are good stories told with quality talent and production values, I look forward to seeing them. And, of course, the more faithful to the source material the characters are, the better.


Do These Marvel Superteams Deserve Movies?

“Well, if DC ain’t gonna make us a good Justice League movie any time soon, why not let Marvel take a crack at it.” — Hunter Rasmussen, writing at DailySuperheroes

Love ’em, hate ’em, or in between, we’ve had a lot of comic book characters and teams adapted for TV and film over the past couple decades, and we have plenty more in the offing. But, naturally, we all have some favorite(s) that haven’t made it to live-action, yet. (“Invincible”, anybody?)

I came across an article titled “10 Marvel Superteams Who Deserve Movies” by Hunter Rasmussen at DailySuperheroes. (He purposely excluded “any official Avengers or X-Men teams” in order to simplify things and spotlight lesser-known groups.) I thought I’d give my 2 cents’ worth in response to Rasmussen’s suggestions. So, following his ordering…

10. New Warriors: Rasmussen referred to his favorite version of the team (pre-Civil War) as “incredibly wonderful,… charming and funny”, and he thinks a “straight up comedy” New Warriors film would work best. Much as I liked them back in the day, I’m not so sure this team (in any version) has the popularity to draw crowds to the theater. But, an action-comedy is probably the best bet, imho. Also, remember that Freeform is developing a half-hour action-comedy NW series (starring Squirrel Girl), which will likely debut this year.

Cover art for Exiles, vol. 2, #1

9. Exiles: Hmmm. I enjoyed this comic series, but my initial reaction to making it into a film was negative. However, I am warming up to the idea. The fact that it involves characters from various Marvel realities & timelines traveling from one reality/timeline to another could make for an interesting movie plot and fun action, while also keeping it separate from the main Marvel properties. OK, I’m in!

8. Alpha Flight: I love me some Alpha Flight (especially the original John Byrne incarnation), and I would love to see a faithful adaptation to either small- or big-screen. It would be best to have some link to the X-Men (even if merely referenced in dialogue or some other Easter eggs), as there is in the comics. But, the plot could be something totally unrelated to Wolverine or the other mutants. (Of course, a Logan cameo would be awesome.) Plus, I’m sure our Canadian friends would appreciate seeing their government-sanctioned home team get the live-action treatment.

7. X-Factor Investigations: This comic series was about Jaime Madrox, the Multiple Man, leading a detective agency made up of various X-people not currently on the usual mutant superteams. I read a few issues and agree that it has a lot of promise for adaptation. In fact, a few years ago I mentioned it as a potential live-action, X-Men-related TV series. More recently, it was announced that James Franco would be starring as Madrox in a solo film. Whether or not X-Factor Investigations or any of those characters will be in the film is unknown at this time.

6. MI-13: I had trouble remembering this one, as it has been many years since I read any of the relevant comics. As Rasmussen summarized, “MI-13 is the British equivalent of Alpha Flight… a governmental agency that can call on any and all British superheroes.” Not exactly, but close enough. This opens up many possibilities for characters, plots, and locales to use that are more UK- and Euro-centric. Part superhero team, part intelligence agency, and part paranormal investigations, this organization could indeed be the basis for a cool movie or three.

5. Young Avengers: According to Rasmussen, this doesn’t count as an “official” Avengers team, since it was unsanctioned. Personally, I like most of the characters, and there some good material available for stories. But,… part of the reason it works in the comics is because of the various connections to Marvel’s big name Avengers (e.g., Captain America, Iron Man, Hawkeye), as well as supervillain Kang the Conqueror, which aren’t there in the film universe. I just don’t see how it would work. Maybe in another 10-20 years?

4. Squadron Supreme: I was quite fond of the JLA-like Squadron — originally, the Squadron Sinister — from another Earth in my youth. It had some fun characters (especially the Superman-analog, Hyperion, and the simple-minded Shape) and explored some intriguing ideas (e.g., what if the JLA took over the world?). I haven’t read any newer stuff, but it sounds like not much has changed. As Rasmussen says, “Squadron is about how power corrupts and at what point we should question authority. And, holy heck, would it make a great stand-alone movie. No MCU connections needed. So good.”

3. Thunderbolts: On the one hand, this was an enjoyable series with some cool characters and an interesting, unusual premise — i.e., supervillains masquerading as superheroes, who (mostly) then decide to really go legit. The fact that criminal-turned-hero Hawkeye stepped in to lead them was icing on the cake. I agree with Rasmussen that the members’ internal struggles made for some great character-growth in a fun redemption tale. (I seem to remember later issues veering away from this somewhat.) But, I’m not convinced that it would translate so well to the big-screen without the villains’ histories being established, as they had been for many years in the comics.

2. The Sinister “Six”: Rasmussen isn’t referring to any of the original villains that made up this team and which were slated to be in the apparently-shelved Sinister Six film. Rather, he wants to see live-action versions of a relatively new incarnation of the team, as seen in the comic series Superior Foes of Spider-Man (2013). He calls it “the funniest and best written Marvel comic in recent memory.” I have no idea, since I am totally unfamiliar with it. But, in principle, I am less optimistic that a team of D-list supervillains could draw any but the most die-hard Marvel fans.

1. The Runaways: As I’ve mentioned before, I liked this comic series about likable, gifted teens on the run from their supervillain parents. It has definite potential. But, I think the story works better as a regular- or mini-series for the small-screen, rather than as a movie. Much more time to develop characters and plot. Apparently, Marvel agrees with me, since they developed that very series with Hulu, and 9 out of 10 episodes have already aired as of this writing. I haven’t watched it, yet, but I hope to soon. (Probably after Season 1 of “The Gifted” finishes up.)

In summary, then, I think there are various reasons why several teams on Rasmussen’s wishlist wouldn’t work out as movies. But, Exiles, Alpha Flight, MI-13, and Squadron Supreme have the most promise as do-able, live-action adaptations of lesser-known Marvel superteams that need only maintain tangential connections to the rest of Marvel’s cinematic adventures. Is anyone at Marvel/Fox/Disney listening? Helloooooo?

P.S. Incidentally, if you’re wondering what Marvel properties I think would make good TV series, check out “7 Marvel Properties that Should Be on TV (Part 1 of 2)” and “7 Marvel Properties that Should Be on TV (Part 2 of 2)”.

Bits-n-Pieces II

To be honest, I wasn’t able to focus on a regular post this week. So, as I’ve done on a couple past occasions, I’m going to make relatively brief comments on a handful of recent genre announcements & developments….

Small Screen

star-trek-discovery-1920Item #1: A few things have developed re the upcoming ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ series since I last blogged about it in August, but even then I didn’t comment on everything we knew. For example, producer Bryan Fuller had said that the show’s primary protagonist will be a female Lt. Commander (a la Majel Barrett’s “Number One” in the original TOS pilot). There will be more “diversity” in the ship’s crew, particularly in terms of one or more LGBT characters. I’m not thrilled about this, though I’m not surprised for a number of reasons — e.g., the “progressive” nature of the franchise, Hollywood’s push for LGBT characters, Fuller is a part of that community, etc. He also indicated that they will push the Star Trek boundaries by possibly having a bit of nudity and more profanity. I’m not thrilled with this, either. I guess they can get away with it, since it won’t be on network TV; but, it also flies in the face of one “rule” Paramount/CBS has always had about keeping all Star Trek productions — including fan-made — “family friendly”. If they do proceed with this, I hope it is quite limited. Fortunately, Fuller did say,

“Star Trek’s not necessarily a universe where I want to hear a lot of profanity, either.”

In September, it was announced that STDisc’s debut was being pushed from January to May 2017. I had mixed feelings about this, but I’m not mad; if they need the extra time to make a great show, they should take it. Then Variety broke the story that Fuller had stepped down as showrunner, due to scheduling conflicts. Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts (and Alex Kurtzman?) stepped up as co-showrunners, while Fuller remained as executive producer. This caused a lot of hubbub re the show’s direction, but Fuller remains the chief architect.

“Fuller has penned the first two scripts for “Discovery” and has hammered out the broader story arc and mythology for the new “Trek” realm.” — Variety

Given his intentions, I obviously have mixed feelings about this. (I like his idea of making it less episodic and having a multi-episode story arc, and I’m intrigued with the concept of making the ship’s captain merely a supporting player.) It was also indicated that Romulans may be the primary villains in the series, and that would seem to work for the era in which it will be taking place (i.e., 10 years prior to ST:TOS).

Item #2: Just a couple days ago, Marvel announced that it is teaming up with Disney|ABC Television Group and IMAX to develop a “Marvel’s The Inhumans” TV series. It will actually debut the first two episodes in IMAX theaters in September 2017. (That’s fast!) Not only is IMAX co-financing the project, but the IMAX cameras/tech will provide enhanced imagery and visual effects. Cool! Oh,… after the debut in theaters, the full 8 episodes will show on ABC starting in the Fall, “with additional exclusive content that can only be seen on the network.” Very cool!

1173129-inhumansThis show will not be connected to “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. (This likely also means there will not be an Inhumans movie connected to the MCU.) So, the “inhuman” characters we have seen in the S.H.I.E.L.D. series will not be involved in this one. In fact, the new show will be centered on the Inhumans’ Royal Family that fans know from the comics and animated series (see pic).

I was always a fan of the Inhumans, with their unique society and ties to the Fantastic Four and X-Men (and the Kree race, of course). I look forward to seeing the city of Attilan and its odd denizens. If they do this right, I will be a very happy camper! (I feel a multi-part fan-casting coming on….)

Item #3: Another very recent announcement came from HBO — namely, there are official talks with author/creator George R.R. Martin about a “Game of Thrones” prequel show to follow the fan-favorite series. No details, as yet. As per HBO programming president Casey Bloys,

“[I]t’s still kind of preliminary ongoing talks. There are [time periods within GoT history] we are exploring, but I wouldn’t point to any one and say, ‘This is what we’re going to do.’”

Big Screen

Item #4: OK, part of this has been known for a few months, but stick with me…. For quite awhile, there was some question about whether or not we would see a new Batman solo movie or a proper sequel to Man of Steel. Now, the answer to both is “Yes!” Actually, it was back in Spring of this year (2016) that we found out Ben Affleck would be co-writing (with DC Entertainment CCO Geoff Johns) and starring in a Batman solo movie. Affleck was determined to complete a script he was happy with before he would begin filming. He also said he wanted to create an original story, borrowing familiar things from the comics, and that he wants to showcase Batman’s detective skills. (Amen to that!)

In the Summer it was confirmed that Affleck would be directing, and the tentative title is “The Batman”. More recently, Joe Manganiello signed on to play Deathstroke — presumably the main villain. The film is currently scheduled for release in Oct. 2018.

As for the Man of Steel 2, in August 2015 we got conflicting reports that George Miller would be directing and that the film was on “permanent hold”. But, a year later TheWrap announced that a Man of Steel sequel was finally in active development at Warner Bros. and “a top priority for the studio”. Henry Cavill’s agent, Dany Garcia, confirmed this in an interview with Newsweek in September, saying:

“[Cavill and I have] been in a five-month period of time where he’s re-strategizing, acquiring property [for his production company Promethean], he’s filming [Justice League] now, he’s in development for the Superman standalone… he’s beginning to expand that world.”

Man of Steel 2 likely won’t arrive in theaters until late 2019.

I have to say, I am psyched for both of these. Yes, I know: “It’s Batfleck!”… “Man of Steel and DvJ were too dark!”… “They changed too much stuff.”… yada, yada. I have already explained in previous posts that I share some of these concerns and also why I’m OK with other aspects. My hope is that the respective creative teams will respect the fans’ input and address those “problems” in the new films. For example, I am fine with a darker, more violent and cynical Batman at this stage in his career. But, I want the Superman film to have a more positive, brighter tone, both visually and thematically speaking.

negasonic-teenage-warhead-ego-the-living-planetItem #5: Only a couple days ago, it was reported that Marvel and Fox had worked out a “backroom deal” to trade characters. Well, not “trade” exactly, and this actually happened a couple years ago….

You may or may not remember — I always get this stuff confused — that 20th Century Fox owns the cinematic rights to all things X-Men related (including Deadpool), among other things, while Marvel Studios owns the cinematic rights to Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers. While developing Deadpool, the writers decided they really wanted the Negasonic Teenage Warhead character — or, at least, a differently-powered character with that name — but Marvel owned it. Marvel agreed to it but on the condition that they get to use Ego, the Living Planet, (owned by Fox) in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2. Thus, the deal was struck.

This is big, because it shows that these two studios, who don’t always get along, can negotiate agreements to trade/loan characters to each other. All it takes is a mutually beneficial trade, and (hopefully) everybody — including the fans — wins. I hope this is a sign of things to come, so that other beloved characters can show up cross-studios, as it were.

Item #6: Finally, speaking of Deadpool… You probably already know that a sequel is already in pre-production and scheduled for a March 2, 2018, release. (Of course, first they need to replace the now-departed director, Tim Miller.) It is rumored to co-star Rich Sands as Nathan Summers / Cable. But, the studio is so confident in the franchise that it has already greenlit Deadpool 3. This one is rumored to include some version of the mutant team known as X-Force. (No idea what this means for Jeff Wadlow’s planned X-Force movie. Could be a jumping off point, I suppose.) Could be great news for Deadpool and X-Force fans!


Evaluating Marvel’s Cinematic Avengers

By all reports, Avengers: Age of Ultron is already kickin’ butt in Europe. Assuming this post goes to press on time (i.e., the night I’m on the road to Baltimore), the film will have its North American premiere in just two days from now (May 1, 2015)! Woo-hoo! Circumstances will, unfortunately, prevent me from seeing it anytime soon, but I am still stoked to see the latest installment of Marvel’s cinematic Avengers. In fact, just the other day I re-watched the first Avengers film to get in the mood. (LOVE the Hulk scenes!) That, and to help put me in the right mindset for writing this post.

I’m not going to get into a whole lot of detail, but I have been thinking about it for awhile and wanted to comment on two aspects of the on-screen Avengers (both as a team and in solo adventures): casting, naturally, and characterization. Overall, I like the actors and think they (and the directors) are doing a terrific job. Individually, nobody’s “perfect” (except maybe Fury), but they all range from good to great. Of course, I also have a few nits to pick. So, without further ado, and in alphabetical order….

The-Avengers-Movie-1-Team-Pose-570x332Black Widow / Natalia “Natasha” Romanova: Scarlett Johansson has the curves and is certainly pretty enough to play the Russian femme fatale, though I don’t think her face is quite right for the character. (Not in my mind, anyway.) Neither is her voice, which I think should be less husky and with at least a trace of a Russian accent to remind us she was a Soviet spy. (Yeah. She’s older than she looks — at least, in the comics.) Also, at 5’3″, she is several inches shorter than the comic version, who is listed at 5’7″. (Her stunt double, Heidi Moneymaker, is the same height, so at least they’re consistent.)

Since she hasn’t had a solo movie, we haven’t learned a whole lot about her past or how she began working for S.H.I.E.L.D. We do know she’s worked with Barton before and they have a strong mutual respect and close working relationship. (Romantic, too?) We have seen some of Natasha’s fighting and gymnastic skills, acting ability, marksmanship, and electric “widow’s bite”. She has also displayed a stereotypical Russian cynicism and wry humor. Johansson has handled it all quite capably and believably. In the end, while she would not have been my choice to cast, I think ScarJo does a great job with the character.

Captain America / Steve Rogers: Chris Evans has been doing a wonderful job as the old-fashioned, patriotic super-soldier. He is almost as tall (6′) as the comics Cap (6’2″), and his bulked-up physique is almost big enough. They did a decent job with his origins, including many details from the comics re Dr. Erskine, the Super-Soldier Serum, vita-rays, etc. After that, though, his WWII career seemed a bit rushed. (As cool as the Winter Soldier is in the movies, I wish they had handled Bucky more faithfully.) In a recent post, I expressed my annoyance that Cap seemingly became both an expert hand-to-hand combatant and a master strategist/tactician practically overnight. The audience really should have seen vignettes or gotten other visual clues of him studying and training. Also, maybe it’s too early in his present-day career, but Cap doesn’t seem to come across as having the gravitas that he does (and should) in the comics, as a war (super)hero and leader of men.

Going back to his behavior and relationships for a moment, I like that the filmmakers have made a point to remind us here & there that Rogers is a “man out of time”. He really does come from a simpler (in many ways), more “innocent” era. Yet, he is adapting admirably. I appreciate, as well, that he is still working out what he thinks and feels about his teammates, while maintaining a great deal of respect for their abilities and accomplishments, even when he might disagree with them. (I think this will come more into play in Captain America: Civil War.) I could nitpick a bit, but overall I enjoy Evans as Rogers/Cap.

Hawkeye / Clint Barton: I like Jeremy Renner — really, I do — and he has done a decent job with the Barton/Hawkeye character, as it has been written for him. But, I have a few issues with both casting and characterization for the movies. Let’s begin with his size — Renner’s 5’10”, ~175lbs. vs. the comic version’s 6’3″, 230 lbs. (see Marvel’s wikia). That’s slightly bigger than Cap! Honestly, given Barton’s primary skillset, the size difference isn’t that big a deal, as long as he is sufficiently bulked up in the arms and upper body, which Renner seems to be. But, I would have liked a closer match. In fact, if he wasn’t playing Cap, Chris Evans might’ve been a good casting pick for ol’ Hawkeye!

As with Black Widow, the lack of solo film means we have a minimum of info on the cinematic version’s past. I hope they reveal more about his history with Black Widow. (Note: In the early comics, they were lovers in their spy/criminal days.) If this Hawkeye is based on the “Earth-616” comic Hawkeye, they should eventually at least mention his circus upbringing and early life of crime. (Note 2: This version of Barton eventually dates & marries Bobbi Morse, aka the Avenger called Mockingbird, so that could be a fun crossover someday.) If he is based more on the Ultimate version, I hope they reference his competing in the Olympics, being on death row, maybe participating in the founding of S.H.I.E.L.D. We really do need to see him interact more with the rest of the Avengers team, too. By the way, in the comics (original version, at least), Barton is much more vocal — loud-mouthed, even, and sometimes belligerent — with a sarcastic wit. Why such a change? (Probably because they already altered Tony Stark to be the comic relief. (see below)) When I can look past all of these differences, though, I do like Renner’s Hawkeye and the slight air of mystery about him.

The-Avengers-movie-review-from-BrusimmHulk / Bruce Banner: When not hulked-out, Bruce Banner is supposed to be 5’10” (or thereabouts) and a 128 lb. weakling. In other words, a scrawny scientist guy who probably never set foot in a gym outside of high school Phys. Ed. class. On the big screen so far, Banner has been portrayed by hunky Eric Bana (Banner?) (6’2.5″,b.1968), Edward Norton (6′,b.1969) (also quite physically fit), and now Mark Ruffalo (5’8″,b.1967). Ruffalo seems to be the favorite among Hulk fans, and I would agree with them. He is certainly the best yet in terms of height and build. But, he is also the oldest of the three. If/when the Hulk character is able to have solo films again, I do hope they cast someone younger and slimmer. (I have a few ideas….)

As for Banner’s current cinematic characterization, I think it is pretty good. In the comics, Banner has varied in his level of self-confidence, assertiveness, depression, self-control, etc., as he copes with the burden of being the Hulk. Since Ruffalo’s Banner is a few years into that journey, I have no problem with him pulling from any of those periods in Banner’s life. As long as his struggle is palpable and he remains a sympathetic character — e.g., not becoming apathetic, arrogant, or a sarcastic jerk (except when Mr. Fixit) — I’ll be happy. (Even happier if his pants are purple, as they were meant to be.) I’d also like to see Rick Jones thrown into the mix.

Iron Man / Tony Stark: I know Robert Downey, Jr. is very popular and well-loved in his portrayal of this character. Personally, though, I’m not so impressed. Yes, he sort of looks the part, he’s handsome and charismatic. And, of course, he’s a wonderful actor, and I appreciate his enthusiasm and everything he has done to promote and give superhero movies more… legitimacy. But, he is 5’8.5″, maybe 160 lbs, and just hit 50 years old. (He was 43 when the first Iron Man came out.) Tony Stark is supposed to be 6’1″, a beefy 225 lbs., and probably under 30 when he first built and donned a certain armored suit. When they re-cast the part — as they inevitably must –, I seriously hope they get someone closer to the comic version in age and size. (Btw, even assuming continuity with earlier films, I can think of at least 3 ways to easily explain a younger, bigger Stark.)

Stark’s on-screen personality has always bugged me, too. Essentially, he *is* RDJ. Sure, he is a brilliant inventor and billionaire playboy. He should also be closer to the comics version of Tony Stark, which is suave and debonair, a bit more serious, businesslike, and much less free with the jokes and witty/snarky remarks. Not that Stark doesn’t have a good sense of humor; the movie version just overdoes it. (Note: They did the same thing with by-the-book Hal Jordan in the 2011 Green Lantern.) As I have mentioned before, it is almost as if Stark and Barton switched half their personalities in the transition from comic page to silver screen.

Nick Fury: While I would love to see the original version of Nick Fury on-screen (and not played by David Hasselhoff!), I like the Ultimate version just as much. So, since the producers went with the Ultimate version, how could they cast him any better than with the guy he was intentionally modeled after in the first place? He looks and acts just like him! 😉 As I understand it, Samuel L. Jackson was flattered by writer Mark Millar’s use of him as the basis for Ultimate Nick Fury, plus he is a huge Avengers fan to begin with, so it’s no surprise that he is having fun playing in that sandbox on screen.

Thor Odinson: Next to Fury, Thor is probably the next most perfectly cast. The 6’2.75″ Chris Hemsworth is tall, blonde, handsome, quite muscular, can pass for Germanic/Scandinavian, has a deep voice and confident swagger — all necessary for a faithful portrayal of Marvel’s arrogant-but-noble god of thunder. I would prefer even more height and muscle, since Thor is supposed to be 6’6″ and built like a bodybuilder. But, it’s pretty hard to find decent actors with such a physique, so… I’m very satisfied with Hemsworth.

Thor’s relationships with fellow-Avengers (what we’ve seen, so far) and other Asgardians — in particular, Odin, the Warriors Three, Loki — seem mostly on point. (Though, I don’t consider myself an expert on Thor and Asgard.) Jane Foster is another story… quite literally. She is a nurse, then physician, in the comics, not some sort of astrophysicist. Of course, the comics version of Thor started out having a human alter ego of the lame Dr. Donald Blake. While it might not change their attraction to one another, these changes do greatly alter their personal & professional dynamic. I am actually glad that the movie writers/producers opted to not have the Blake persona involved, though it might make for an interesting development later — especially if Thor reverts to being Blake when out of contact with Mjolnir for more than a minute, as in the earlier comics.

On a final note, I have been generally satisfied with the various costumes but would like to see them be even closer to the classic comics versions. I think Cap’s various uniforms are supposed to be reminiscent of what he wears in the Ultimate universe, but I prefer the original — complete with fishscale-looking, chain-mail shirt. Sigh! Hawkeye’s outfit looks closer to the Ultimate version, but I would love to see some purple added in in homage to the original. (I think I saw some in ads for Avengers: Age of Ultron!) I have to say that the Iron Man armors have been the coolest!

OK. I’m done. Can’t wait to see what they throw at us next….

Avengers Assemble!

Fan-Cast: Captain Marvel IV (Marvel)

Alright, sports fa… er, comics fans! Time for a fan-casting exercise, and our honoree this time is Carol Danvers, aka Marvel’s current Captain Marvel. (The original was a Kree warrior who I’ll say more about in a minute. The second was Monica Rambeau (aka Photon, Pulsar, Spectrum). The third was the first guy’s son. Thus, the “IV” for Danvers.) She has been garnering a lot of speculation, lately, what with her being the star of Marvel’s first female-led movie (scheduled release: Nov. 2, 2018). Naturally, I wanted to throw my two cents — or, maybe four cents? — into the discussion for who should be cast in the role. So,…

Captain Marvel IV

Captain Marvel

Captain Marvel

For those who need a brief rundown of Carol Danvers’ life, here ya go. Danvers was a top-performing Air Force cadet, who was recruited into Special Operations and trained as an intelligence operative (i.e., a “spy”). She even crossed the Black Widow on at least one occasion. Danvers’ stellar performance and reputation resulted in her getting a position with NASA as their youngest ever head of security, which also came with a promotion to Colonel. She met and befriended the Kree soldier, Captain Mar-Vell, who would later become known on Earth as the superheroic adventurer Captain Marvel. During a battle between Mar-Vell and his former commander, Yon-Rogg, Danvers was knocked into a damaged Kree Psyche-Magnitron. Her genetic structure was altered, effectively making her a half-Kree superhuman.

For various reasons, Danvers was demoted… twice… and finally resigned from NASA. She briefly worked as a writer and magazine editor. When her new powers (e.g., superstrength, speed, flight, concussive energy blasts from her hands, etc.) manifested themselves, Danvers adopted the name Ms. Marvel and a costume patterned after Mar-Vell’s. Over the years, Danvers joined the Avengers, lost her powers, survived a murder attempt by Rogue (who was still an “evil” mutant, at the time) and temporarily lost her memories, became the cosmically powered mutate called Binary, joined the space-faring band of adventurers known as the Starjammers, exhausted her cosmic energies to save the Sun, regained her Marvel-like powers and called herself Warbird, rejoined the Avengers, battled alcoholism, regained her confidence and some emotional stability, worked for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, led at least one version of the Avengers, and was dubbed “Captain Marvel” by the dying Mar-Vell (though she didn’t adopt the title for some time).

Captain Marvel w/ optional Kree-style headgear

Captain Marvel w/ optional Kree-style headgear

Danvers is an extremely capable — if headstrong — warrior and leader. She is very devoted to her friends (and her Flerkan cat) and considers Captain America a mentor and father-figure, probably partially due to their shared military backgrounds and partially due to his giving her the support and encouragement that her real father never did. Though not always drawn as such, Marvel’s wiki lists Danvers as 5’11”, so I think any actress that takes the part should be above average height — say, at least 5’9″. She is an attractive blonde, very physically fit, athletic, and trained in martial arts. Her age in a movie, of course, is dependent upon how closely it follows the comics version and when in her life she is introduced to the audience. If the story begins with her as a captain in the Air Force, she should be in her late-20s, I think. If she is already in her head-of-security position at NASA or later, then late-20s to early-30s seems appropriate. We might have to go with an actress who is actually in her mid-30s, but as long as she can pass for a few years younger, it should be fine.

When I first began thinking about fan-casting for Carol Danvers, I seriously considered Jennifer Morrison (5’5.25″,b.1979) of “Once Upon a Time” — that is, until I realized how short she is. I considered “Battlestar Galactica”‘s Katee Sackhoff (5’6″,b.1980), who is a fan-favorite, but she is also too short and, imho, doesn’t seem quite right for the part. When looking about for very physically fit candidates, MMA-fighter Ronda Rousey (5’6”,b.1987) came to mind. But, in addition to being on the short side and just barely old enough, I don’t think she has the acting chops to play a major character. Eventually, I started noticing fans of “Vikings” (which I haven’t watched) claiming Kathryn Winnick (5’6″,b.1977) would be perfect. She is an accomplished martial artist, with black belts in Karate and Tae Kwon Do. Well, she looks great and can handle the action, but she’s also on the short side and a tad older than we’d prefer. Ellen Hollman (5’7″,b.1983) of “Spartacus: War of the Damned” has the right look and is quite athletic, but she is also under our height parameter. With “Camelot”‘s Tamsin Egerton (5’10.5”,b.1988), I finally found someone who was tall enough, but she is actually a little too young (at the moment, anyway).

Never fear, though, for I did indeed find four statuesque beauties, all with the physical attributes, age requirements, and acting experience required to faithfully portray Carol Danvers, aka Captain Marvel. They are…

Yvonne Strahovski

Yvonne Strahovski

Yvonne Strahovski (5’9.25″,b.1982) is both the youngest and the shortest of these candidates, and she is one of the top five (along with Winnick, Sackhoff, Emily Blunt, and Natalie Dormer) who I see others suggesting for this part. Everyone loved her as the gorgeous spy/girlfriend on “Chuck”, the mysterious murderess(?) on “Dexter”, and/or the federal agent pursuing-then-assisting Jack Bauer in “24: Live Another Day”. She has also starred in movies like Killer Elite and I, Frankenstein. She’s beautiful, smart, and can play a pretty convincing “action hero”. In essence, Strahovski seems a natural to portray the military officer-turned-superhero, Carol Danvers.

Nicole Steinwedell

Nicole Steinwedell

I think the first thing I saw Nicole Steinwedell (5’11”,b.1981) in was the late, lamented “The Unit”. She played a sergeant in the U.S. Army, attached to the Department of Defense’s Intelligence section. This was probably not much of a stretch, since Wikipedia tells us “Her grandfather was a colonel in the Army and her parents were both marines.” She has also appeared in shows like “White Collar”, “Breakout Kings”, and “NCIS”. But, it is Steinwedell’s personal background, not to mention her physical attributes, that make her a great candidate to play Carol Danvers / Captain Marvel.


Rachel Nichols

Rachel Nichols

Rachel Nichols (5’10”,b.1980) should be very familiar to genre fans. She first came to my attention playing a federal agent in the short-lived “The Inside”, then co-starring in the final season of “Alias”. She was in season 6 of “Criminal Minds”, and, of course, recently starred in “Continuum”. Meanwhile, she has appeared in several movies, including very minor roles (e.g., Star Trek) and starring roles (e.g., G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra). (She also co-starred(?) with Steinwedell in Raze.) Nichols fits the look we need, often plays strong female characters, and could definitely nail this role.


Kristanna Loken

Kristanna Loken

Genre fans probably remember Kristanna Loken (5’11”,b.1979) as the “evil”, sexy T-X Terminator in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. Before that, Loken appeared in such genre fare as “Aliens in the Family”, “Lois & Clark”, “Star Trek: Voyager”, and co-starred in “Mortal Kombat: Conquest”. After T3, she showed up in BloodRayne, In the Name of the King, “Painkiller Jane”, “Burn Notice”, Hunting the Phantom, and the recent Mercenaries. Though well into her mid-30s, Loken can easily pass for younger, and I think she has the physique and the action cred to pull off Danvers/Marvel.


Those are my picks for Marvel’s Captain Marvel, and I’d be thrilled with any of them, though I’m leaning toward Loken at the moment. Of course, they will all be 3 years older when the movie comes out, so that might knock a couple out of the running. Maybe Tamsin Egerton would work, after all. Or,…

What about you folks? Thoughts? Comments? Write ’em below….

* All ideas copyright Christopher Harris, 2013-2015.

Fan-Cast: Daredevil, part 2: Foggy & Karen

Continuing on from last week’s post (not the Leonard Nimoy tribute), I’ve come up with some potential candidates to portray Foggy Nelson and Karen Page in a live-action adaptation of “Daredevil”. (What? There’s already one coming out next month on Netflix? Dang it!) I don’t know if any of them are “perfect”, but I think they’re pretty darn good!

Franklin “Foggy” Nelson

Foggy NelsonFoggy Nelson is Matt Murdock’s best friend from law school, confidante, law partner, boss (when Nelson briefly became District Attorney of New York City), and law partner again. They have been through thick and thin together (no pun intended), including many personal and professional ups & downs. Loyal friend that he is, Nelson also plays the serious “straight man” to Matt’s sometimes impulsive and/or irresponsible side and (once he was in the know) helps to keep Murdock’s secret identity safe. Physically, Nelson has been drawn as ranging from slightly to very “chunky”, though never (to my knowledge) obese. Marvel’s wiki lists him as 5’10”, 220 lbs, so that’s a pretty good place to start. I would broaden the height requirement to between 5’7″ and 6′ (or so).

It’s not enough to just cast a chunky guy for comic relief, else we could get someone like Patton Oswalt (5’3.5″,b.1969) or Jack Black (5’6″,b.1969). (Although, they are also too old for the part and below our height parameter.) Some have suggested Jonah Hill (5’7″,b.1983), but I’m not sure he’s believable in a serious role, especially as a competent attorney. As indicated above, the character goes through a lot, so the actor must be able to do comedy and drama, portraying a range of emotions believably. I considered Sean Murray (6’1.5″,b.1977) from “NCIS”, assuming he would put back on some of that extra weight he had in the early seasons. But, he is just a mite too tall and maybe too old. A pre-Guardians of the Galaxy Chris Pratt might have been a good choice, though I don’t know how much serious drama he has done. (He’s rather buff now, of course, and has his hands full with GotG and possibly an Indiana Jones reboot, among other things.) If we were casting this 10 years ago, I would consider Sean Astin (5’7″,b.1971), whom others have suggested, too. Since we aren’t, I’ve come up with these three, instead:

Seth Rogen

Seth Rogen

That’s right — Seth Rogen (5’11”,b.1982) of Superbad, Pineapple Express, and The Interview fame. I know he usually does comedic stuff, but I think he might actually be able to pull this off, too. He has also been in “Freaks and Geeks”, Donnie Darko, The Green Hornet, and did voice work on things like Kung Fu Panda and Monsters vs. Aliens. I’m not exactly a fan (except for that last movie), but at least he looks the part….



James Corden

James Corden

I admit, I wasn’t actually aware of James Corden (5’8″,b.1978) until I saw the ads and trailer for Into the Woods a few weeks ago. (Looks like a younger Andy Richter, no?) He’s older than I’d prefer but young-looking. He is a Brit, who has appeared in Heroes and Villains (actually a rom-com), Vampire Killers, Gulliver’s Travels, and “Doctor Who”. Even did a little voice work on Planet 51. I think he’d make a great Foggy Nelson.


Josh McDermitt

Josh McDermitt

If you are trying to place Josh McDermitt‘s (6’0.5″,b.1978) face, you are probably a fan of “The Walking Dead”. McDermitt has been playing the “odd” Dr. Eugene Porter — the man who knows the cure — since season 4. He is a stand-up comedian who only started acting a few years ago, but he has been in “Retired at 35” and a comedic video short called “Iron Man 2 Table Read”. Though the same age as Corden, he has also retained his youthful appearance, and I think he could be just right for ol’ Foggy.

Karen Page

Karen Page

Karen Page

Karen Page - daydreamingKaren Page, of course, has a complicated and tragic role in the “Daredevil” mythos. She begins as a sweet, young secretary with a crush on one of her bosses, Matt Murdock. (Of course, Nelson also falls for her.) Often the damsel in distress who gets saved by Daredevil and/or another hero, Page does eventually become romantically involved with Murdock for a while. She later pursues an acting career, but, thanks to bad decisions and bad luck, she falls into prostitution, drug addiction, and pornography. Though she betrays Matt/DD, Murdock reconciles with her. Unfortunately, she is killed by the supervillain Bullseye. Depending on how closely the writers/producers stick to the comics version and how far/quickly into that life-arc the character progresses, there could be plenty of opportunity for an actor to portray (as with Nelson) a great range of emotional situations.

In the issue where Karen is originally introduced by Nelson to Murdock, the latter thinks to himself that she is 5’4″. But, Marvel’s wiki page lists her as 5’7″. That’s a pretty good height range for her, though I considered actors that are shorter (Elisha Cuthbert (5’2.5″,b.1982)) and a couple inches taller (Maggie Grace (5’9″,b.1983)). As for her age, she might be the same age as Murdock and Nelson, but she could also be in her early- to mid-20s when they all meet. One I considered on the younger end of the age range, then, is Margot Robbie (5’6″,b.1990), who recently nabbed the plum role of “Harley Quinn” in the Suicide Squad feature film. One actor who would be great for the role, except that she is already in her early-40s, is Melissa Sagemiller (5’6″,b.1974). (Could easily pass for 5 years younger, though.) So, I would like to present these three for your consideration:

Gillian Jacobs

Gillian Jacobs

Anyone who watches the sitcom “Community” knows the lovely Gillian Jacobs (5’4″,b.1982). As for her genre work, she has appeared in (or done voice work for) “Fringe”, The Box, “Robot Chicken”, “Tiny Commando”, and the “Monsters vs. Aliens” TV series. Though a little on the short side, I think Jacobs could probably handle all aspects of the Karen Page character very well.




Rachael Taylor

Rachael Taylor

Rachael Taylor (5’7.75″,b.1984) first came to my attention in last year’s TV drama “Crisis”, where she played a federal agent. The role of Karen Page would obviously be quite different. But, she has done plenty of other types of roles, including in Transformers, Ghost Machine, “Grey’s Anatomy”, “Charlie’s Angels”. And, ironically, Taylor has been cast as Trish Walker (aka Hellcat) in the “A.K.A. Jessica Jones” series that will follow “Daredevil” on Netflix.



Abbie Cornish

Abbie Cornish

I brought up Abbie Cornish (5’8″,b.1982) before, back when I was fan-casting for Jaime Sommers, the Bionic Woman. She has appeared in Stop-Loss, Limitless, Sucker Punch, the recent Robocop remake, as well as a number of movies and TV series in her native Australia. Cornish has a pretty good range of work and would likely enjoy delving into the many facets of Karen Page’s life.




What do you think of my choices? Not bad? Suck? One o’ these days, I’ll get around to fan-casting Daredevil’s main villains (e.g., Bullseye, Kingpin, Typhoid Mary) and other supporting characters (e.g., Elektra, Rosalind Sharpe), though many of them cross over with the Spider-Man “universe”. But, at least I got the central players done.

See ya next week!

New Page of Upcoming Movie Release Dates

Doctor Who - Series 7

Hey, folks!

Announcing a new “resource” for you! If you look at the top of the blog, you should now see a link for an “Upcoming Movie Release Dates” page. For several months, now, I have been trying to keep up with all of the announced dates for upcoming movies that fit the general theme of “Heroes and Aliens”. I finally decided to make it accessible as a quick reference for my readers, too. It’s not fancy, but you may find it helpful.

I get my dates from several genre-related sources. But, I’m bound to miss one here and there. So, if you see a date for a release that sounds wrong — maybe you read another date elsewhere — or a movie I haven’t listed, yet, then please let me know in the comments on that page. I’ll look into it and update if necessary.

Thanks a lot!