Sunday, May 28, 2017

Is This Big News...or Not?

In their regular announcement of their releases for May 31, DC has announced a highly-detailed, premium action figure under the trademark "Shazam!" Here is a picture: is the link:

...and here is the text
When young Bill Batson speaks the word “Shazam!” a magical lightning bolt transforms him. Embodied with the wisdom of Solomon, the strength of Hercules, the stamina of Atlas, the power of Zeus, the invulnerability of Achilles and the speed of Mercury he is now Shazam, the world’s mightiest mortal. This One:12 Collective figure features over 32 points of articulation, and its 1:12 scaled, accurate real fabric uniform has some amazing details with sculpted accents and a poseable cape. The figure also includes: hyper-realistic regular head, alternate smiling head and yelling “Shazam!” head; interchangeable hands (pairs of fists, flying and grabbing hands); an attachable lightning bolt; and two of Shazam’s greatest foes – Mr. Mind and Mr. Atom. Packaged in a deluxe, fifth panel window box with a translucent acetate slipcover.

Did you notice something?

It is not so much that the name "Captain Marvel" is not used, but that the hero is named as "Shazam."

DC does not use the name of the hero in any way that could be construed as a violation of Marvel Comics' trademark of the name "Captain Marvel, and since issue #13 of their comic book "SHAZAM!" This has led to awkwardness of having to explain that the hero's name is Captain Marvel and not Shazam. In the last years before the establishment of DC's "New 52" reboot, DC basically gave up and gave the powers of the hero, which had belonged to Billy Batson, to Freddy Freeman, the former Captain Marvel, Jr," and gave him the name "Shazam."

Then the New 52 began and DC completely re-cfreated the origin and makeup of the hero marketed under the trademark "Shazam!" and called him Shazam. This character had significant changes to his costume, his origin, and his powers, although he was still Billy Batson and still said the magic word. But shortly thereafter, they also established that there were a total of 52 universes, and in one of them there was a hero much like the original Captain Marvel named...Captain Marvel.

This action figure is costumed much like the original Captain Marvel's very first costume, which had been repopularized by Jerry Ordway in his 1994 reboot of the character "The Power of Shazam." The Earth-5 version is costumed slightly differently in line with the outfit worn by the hero through most of his 1940-1953 run in Fawcett comics and every appearance from 1972 to 1992 in DC Comics.

So the question is: Is this a typo, a mis-proofed piece of copy, or has DC actually ret-conned the name of this iconic hero they own?

What do you think?

Monday, May 22, 2017

Kevin Feige's explanations and other news (and clickbait) about Marvel's "Captain Marvel" directors

Not 24 hours had gone by since the first announcement of the new directors for Marvel's "Captain Marvel" but the Interwebs were blowing up with commentary about the news. Fortunately for Marvel, they had some very positive and supportive things to say about these directors.

Kevin Feige is the head of Marvel Studios, so when he talks, fans listen. So does the press. That way fans can hear him talk, and then listen.

This past week fans were listening to him talk about the choice of Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck (Directors of Mississippi Grind, Half Nelson, Sugar, etc.) to direct the Captain Marvel/Carol Danvers movie. The words were recorded by Fandango in an exclusive interview, and pretty much everyone copy/pasted them into reports of various length and depth.

Here is what he said:
"We met with lots and lots of people as we always do, and had multiple meetings, and Anna and Ryan just had an amazing way of talking about Carol Danvers and talking about her journey," Feige said. "We want filmmakers that can help us focus on and elevate the character journey so it doesn't get lost amongst the spectacle. And there's going to be a lot of spectacle in the Captain Marvel film."

Feige continued, "We're pretty good at that at Marvel Studios, and have an amazing team that can help with that. But when we're filling a director chair or chairs, we want people who are focused on the emotional journey, the humor, the surprising twists and turns of a singular character journey, which is what Captain Marvel is. They had the best handle on it. And when you look at the work that Ryan and Anna have done in the past, they are all amazing and very diverse character studies and journeys, and that impressed us."

This was covered and commented upon by:
Movie Pilot (which also gives a rundown of the directors' significant works)
We Got This Covered 
Heroic Hollywood
Slash Report (Not to be confused with SlashFilm - see below)

Apparently, on the same day, Feige also talked to SlashFilm, and those words were shared elsewhere as well. He pretty much covered the same ground, but focused a little more on different details:

"They came in many, many times and impressed us in the room with what they had to say about Carol Danvers. […] They live in New York and they would fly out at a moment’s notice to come in and pitch on it, which always means a lot. Anna and Ryan had a strong sense of, not just the plotting and the machinations of the plot, but on Carol’s journey, which is the most important thing about the movie.

"We can help out with all the accoutrements of action and sci-fi worlds, but we wanted someone who could really be a guiding hand to Carol and to Brie [Larson] and to that journey, which is what the whole movie is about: someone becoming the most powerful being in the universe. You look at their work and like most of the directors we’ve hired, [they’re] not giant, effects-drive action, but rather very unique and very personal character stories and character journeys. And very diverse, in terms of the subject matter they’ve chosen to tell and they nail it every time. I think they see Carol as another rich, three-dimensional character to explore, who just happens to be able to fly and punch through moons and to lead intergalactic teams."

This was covered and commented upon by: (kudos to

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Marvel's Captain Marvel/Carol Danvers Movie Gets Directoral Team! (Real news rouindup! Minimal clickbait!)

This is it! Real news! No more speculation! Not a rumor! Not speculation! Not a fictional story! Actual news, and both the legit and clickbait press are all over it!

The news is that Marvel Studio's Captain Marvel has found its director! It is actually going to be a directorial team, that of Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, known for their work on such films as 2006’s Half Nelson, starring Ryan Gosling, 2008's Sugar, starring Algenis Perez solo, 2011’s It’s Kind of a Funny Story, with Zach Galifianakis, and 2015’s Mississippi Grind, starring Ryan Reynolds (note how by including the dates and stars you can draw more search-engine attention). I have not seen any of these movies, not really even heard of them. I guess I have to see a few of these movies to form an educated opinion about their style.

Ashley Rodriguez of Quartz Media has given the most detailed analysis of the duo's previous work, and certainly is the most supportive and optimistic about the potential of their work in this movie. Silas Lesnick of ComingSoon gave the most specific description of why their previous work made them good candidates for this job. Michael Cavena of the Chicago Tribune pointed out they they had worked with superhero movie actors before, including Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool, Green Lantern) and Ben Mendelsohn (The Dark Knight Returns) in Mississippi Grind. They failed to mention Anthony Mackie (Captain America: Winter Soldier), in Half Nelson, but Kat Stubing, writing for Outer Places, did not.

Stubing also pointed out that other non-superhero/action/sci-fi/etc directors have done superhero movies, specifically the Russo Brothers (the TV series Arrested Development) on two Captain America movies. There is no argument that those were successful, both creatively, commercially, and as "superhero movies."

One thing I have noticed, though, is that bringing in a non-superhero/fantasy/adventure director into the superhero genre has its risks. Ang Lee, who made a big splash when after directing such art house fare as Eat Drink Man Woman he introduced the arthouse crowd to kung fu flicks with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, crafted a slow-paced (if visually interesting) treatsie on child abuse called The Hulk. So far, this is the only Marvel Cinematic Universe movie that has not spawned a direct sequel. Kenneth Brannagh, who made his career doing Shakespeare on film, seemed like an inspired choice for Thor, but despite certain thematic similarities to Shakespeare's multi-play saga of Prince Hal/Henry V, and the comic book tradition of the thunder god speaking in "Shakespearean English," this effort did not quite match the power and intensity of his Henry V, and he did not return for  the sequel.

On the other hand, an artist to trying a new genre in their medium has a tendency to attract attention.

The first "breaker" of the story of the director announcement appears to have been Variety, as most of the first wave of clickbait basically re-hash the facts in Variety's article. The better ones put a few opinions in and flesh out the background of the new directors and the history of the project.

Hollywood Reporter and WhereToWatch, for instance, included the info that among those considered were Lesli Linka Glatter (Homeland), Lorene Scafaria (The Meddler), Niki Caro (Whale Rider, The Zookeeper’s Wife), Lucia Aniello (Rough Night), Sam Taylor-Johnson (F.ifty Shades of Grey),  Jennifer Kent (The Babadook) and Jennifer Yuh (Kung Fu Panda 2). They did not mention Angelina Jolie, proving either a: That she had been an unsubstantiated rumor all along or b: They were not trying to draw her fans in with clickbait.  But James Whitbrook of Gizmodo did.

THe Hundustan Times actually posted trailers for two of the team's previous movies, Half Nelson and Mississippi Grind.

This writer on Makers went a little overboard, I think, with the hyperbole on the excitement over the high degree of estrogen involved in this film, judging by the Tweets she posted. 

Then some follow-up news happened (to be continued)...

Other web pages announcing this news include...
Hollywood Reporter
Celebrity Insider
Syfy Wire
The Kansas City Star 
Style Celebrity News
Consequences of Sound
New Delhi Times
The Christian Post
Manila Bulletin
SciFiWorld (Espanol)

PS: To make sue the search engines find this when looking for this movie, the writers are Meg LeFauve and Nicole Perlman, Captain Marvel is being played by Brie Larsen, and Kevin Feige is the chief of Marvel Studios.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

RUMOR ALERT! Post on Reddit, Dwayne Johnson Interview Lead to Inferences that "Shazam!" Movie is Cancelled, Black Adam will be in "Man of Steel 2," More.

Sometimes setting a Google Alert pays off.

It seems to have started with a post on Reddit, one that was denied on Twitter, but built upon by an interview on MTV and now the future of the Shazam! hero and related characters in the movies appears to be some thing like this:

Black Adam, played by Dwayne Johnson, is definitely going to appear in movies.

Black Adam will probably have his own stand-alone movie.

Black Adam might face Superman in a movie.

Black Adam might face Superman in "Man of Steel 2."

The "Shazam!" movie might be "off the table," but might still happen, depending on how you interpret the anonymous sources and Dwayne Johnson's interviews.

Captain Marvel or Shazam (whichever version of the hero they decide to use) might or might not appear in anything currently scheduled.

Billy Batson might appear as an "Easter Egg" in something.

As a fan of the Big Red Cheese, I have been hoping for not just a Captain Marvel movie, but a GOOD Captain Marvel movie since one was first announced back in 2003. However, from what little I have read of the scripts that have been written, seen what has been done with the character in the comics, and what I have experienced of what happens to superheroes in movies, it is likely that the concept of the character will be used as a jumping-off point rather than the material of the character be adapted into a good movie.

If that is the case, I won't mind if Black Adam gets all the press and screen time. But maybe, just maybe, someone will figure out a way to handle the character as he deserves. Something like the purity of Captain America with the sense of fun of Ant Man and the youthful enthusiasm of the latest Spider-Man. I know those are all Marvel characters, but it would be a breath of fresh air to bring that sort of stuff into the DC Cinematic Universe.

One thing is pretty much certain: If and when he does come to the big screen, Billy Bsatson/Captain Marvel will be a boy who transforms  into a grown-up superhero, but keeps his own mind. That has been the standard interpretation since Roy Thomas wrote "Shazam! A New Beginning" in 1986, and it has stuck. I liked the original concept, that the boy and the hero were two distinct personalities with shared memories, but that is just too confusing for today's audiences.

Here are other websites spreading the news/rumors/clickbait:
Cosmic Book News
Xania News

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Black Adam movie starring Dwayne Johnson announced! (Actual news!)

Well, it looks like the clickbait press has stumbled on some actual news regarding a Captain Marvel-related movie!

As we all know, "Shazam!" is scheduled for an April 5th, 2019 release, and will star Dwayne Johnson (the pro wrestler known as "The Rock") as Black Adam, who has been the most powerful super-villain in the DC universe, and whose origin is tied in with that of the original Captain Marvel.

That's pretty much all we know about this movie. No directors or other actors have been attached to this movie. IMDB reports that Henry Gayden is writing "Shazam!" (the latest in a long line of writers that have been attached to the project since 2003), but no story details have been reliably linked, and no writers for the new Black Adam movie have been named.

A few weeks ago this picture of Johnson and Superman actor Henry Cavill popped up on Cavill's Instagram with a hashtag #DCworldscollide. Since word had been out that Black Adam may appear in a Justice League movie before "Shazam!", it led to speculation that Superman and Black Adam would fight in an upcoming movie.

Johnson had been tweeting about important meetings with movie execs with similarly enticing hashtags, but this news of a Black Adam movie is a big deal, and not a little unexpected.

This would be the first comic book superhero movie headlined by a "bad guy." Of course, Black Adam was somewhat morally ambiguous during much of his run from "Power of Shazam" through the end of the post-Crisis on Infinite Earths, post-Zero Hour universe. This has carried over somewhat in DC's New 52, though with far less subtlety and complexity. It would also be the first time The Rock has been a bad guy on screen, not just in the ring.

There have been at least five versions of the character so far. There was the original, from Fawcett, revived by DC in the 1970's who was unambiguously a bad guy, then the one that appeared in Roy Thomas' "Shazam! A New Beginning," also a bad guy. The one that Jerry Ordway created for "Power of Shazam!" spent time on both sides of the good guy-bad guy divide, which side he was on often depending on your point of view. In the youth-oriented "Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam" Adam was an emo kid, the kind of villain whose main motivation is revenge. Now the New 52 has maintained that "point-of-view villainy" (the kind where if it were 5000 years ago in Egypt you might think hm a hero, but now he is just mean and sadistic).

Which of these versions of the character the movies will present is unclear, though the "PoS" version is the most currently famous. However, Johnson has talked about how the character is so interesting because he used to be a slave. It is only the New 52 version that had been a slave. It was interesting when Johnson said this because the New 52 was still very new at the time.

In all likelihood, the movie version will be its own animal, with bits adapted from New 52 and PoS. Johnson has talked about bringing "fun" back into the DC universe. This seems kind of odd to attach to Black Adam, as the character was part of arguably the darkest moments in DC comics, history, such as when he murdered an entire country in revenge for the death of his wife.

It's obviously too son for them to say when this now picture will be released, or even if it will come out before or after "Shazam!" some reports are calling it a "spinoff," others that the "Shazam!" movie will now be in two parts. But in any event, it shows that a strong character, with a popular actor to play him, can lead to drastic changes in a movie studio's plan.

Here is your abbreviated (because I don't have time for more) "clickbait roundup":

The Hollywood Reporter (I think on this website it actually counts as "news.")
Screen Rant 
Den of Geek
Rotten Tomatoes
TheMarvelIncBlog (I posted a lengthy comment on this one)
Deadline Hollywood