Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Shazam! Movie Update: The Hero Will Be...

John Cena and Joshua Sasse are front-runners for the role of Captain Marvel in the "Shazam!" movie! Billy Batson's character description is out! A script has been written and the plot synopsis is out!

Yes, folks, that is what the clickbait media are saying, and I have just done my service to my click-count by putting all the keywords in the first paragraph.

So let's start with the big news first: The hero's name. Back in 2007, DC pretty much gave up the fight of having a superhero with a name that could not be put on the cover of the book. The trouble (as regular readers of this blog and viewers of the associated YouTube channel and members and followers of the associated Yahoo and Facebook groups and Facebook page know) is that when DC licensed the original Captain Marvel from Fawcett Publications, Marvel Comics had trademarked the name "Captain Marvel," so DC decided to title the comic book for this character "SHAZAM!" (all caps, with the exclamation point). Shazam has since been used as the trademark for all merchandise, properties, and productions surrounding and involving this character. It is therefore understandable that people who would never read the book, watch the TV show, or play the video game would never know that the hero's name was really Captain Marvel.

So as part of a company-wide crossover event, Captain Marvel underwent a transformation in which he became a sort of "guardian of magic" character on the Rock of Eternity with the title "Lord Marvel," and his role on Earth was taken over by the former Captain Marvel, Jr, Freddy Freeman. He had recently lost his powers, however, and to gain them back he had to undergo a series of trials chronicled in the 12-part series "The Tirials of Shazam." At the end of that series , Freddy emerged in the classic red suit with the superhero name that matched the acronym of the source of his powers, Solomon, Hercules, Apollo (who replaced Atlas after he was killed), Zeus, Achilles, and Mercury; SHAZAM!

Dan Didio himself confided to me how relieved he was that at last they have a hero whose name is the same as the title.

That turned out to be temporary, however. The old wizard named Shazam, whom everyone thought was dead, returned and took his name back, and Freddy was now the new Captain Marvel.

But before anything else could happen it was 2012, and CD came out with the New 52, reinventing all their characters, some more than others. In the case of Captain Marvel, his powers changed, his origin changed, his costume changed, and his name was now "Shazam."

Of course conspiracy theorists, semi-fans, and other folks who have not had the good fortune of growing up with this character and having researched the legal history and ins-and-outs of the trademark and copyright and other issues going on, started assuming things like it was now illegal to call Captain Marvel Captain Marvel, or that Marvel Comics had sued, or any number of other reasons why the change happened. So the next thing you know, there were YouTube videos proclaiming to tell the "History of Shazam" and talking about the character as if he used to have the name "Captain Marvel."

Just to make things more confusing, the universe of the "New 52" turned out to be part of a multiverse of 52 universes, one of which (Earth-5) was the home of the original Captain Marvel.

Then, in 2014, Dwayne (the Rock) Johnson broke the news that the Shazam! movie project was up and running again (you can read back through my previous posts to follow the history of its first incarnation from 2003 - 2009). There was a resurgence of interest in the character, with a concurrent surge in YouTube videos and clickbait articles about him, along with the usual casting rumors and speculation. With each of those videos and articles was, either in the content or in the comments (usually both) something not 100% accurate about the history of the character and his ownership and where the rights lay regarding the character's name and its use.

One thing was never made clear, though, either by accident, design, or legal obligation: What would the name of the hero if this new movie be? Most reports of the movie would use the New 52 character's name, as it was the same as the the title of the movie and besides, either the writers never knew the name as anything different, or they assumed that the name had been changed for good. Illustrations representing the character would be of both the New 52's "Shazam" and the classically-based Captain Marvel. Moreover, since there had been several reboots of the character since 1986, much of the material available was of these reboots, and not the original character. This made for some interesting mish-mashes from those who did not know their history.

So as people would be saying "He will always be Captain Marvel to me!" and "Get over it, it's illegal for DC to use that name!" and so on, I would chime in, pointing out that the studio had not yet said whether the hero would be the New 52 version,named "Shazam," or based on the original, and named "Captain Marvel."

Well, if the words released by thathashtagshow are to be believed as genuine, it looks like they have decided. Below are the "plot synopsis" for the movie and casting notice for Billy Batson:

"Based on the DC Comics character “Shazam!” Billy Batson becomes Captain Marvel, the world’s mightiest mortal, when he says the magic word “Shazam! The name is an acronym for six gods and heroes of the ancient world as well as their attributes. The wisdom of Solomon, strength of Hercules, stamina of Atlas, power of Zeus, courage of Achilles and speed of Mercury."

"Male, 12-15 years old. A teenager who becomes Captain Marvel, the world’s mightiest mortal. Granted access to incredible powers by the wizard Shazam, he speaks the wizard’s name and is struck by a lightning bolt that gives him the powers of the gods."

If that  isn't enough evidence, the director, David F. Sandberg, has been posting a picture each day in his Instagram page, and here is the latest...

Not a "New 52" to be seen! Nor a "New Beginning," a "Power of..." a "Magic of..." or even a "With One Magic Word..."! Just classic, Fawcett Captain Marvel comics, a couple of action figures of the classic Cap, a tiger, a worm, and a bunch of cans of Coke Zero. And a picture of the King of Sweden. In a Viking helmet.

There is a nifty in-depth analysis of the picture by Mark Siefert at BleedingCool.

Whatever else this says, it does not say "New 52." It says CAPTAIN MARVEL!

Next: About those casting rumors, plot details, and possible connections to "Flashpoint"...

Monday, August 14, 2017

Brie Larsen's Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel costume revealed!

This is a story that is no doubt all over the Interwebs and has engendered enough clickbait to run the stream dry, but I have been out of tow for a week and a half since the news broke and I only havetime to post this one link from Cinema Blend:

What Brie Larson May Look Like As Captain Marvel

As you can see from the picture, most of the design is a direct copy from the comics. The most notable differences are the belt and the fact that it appears to be armored (which brings up the question: If she is supposed to be nigh-invulnerable, why does she need an armored costume?).

From announcements at San Diego Comic Con we know that the story will take place in the 1990's and that the Skrulls (a race of shape-shifting aliens who are the adversaries of the Kree) will be involved. This opens up the possibility that the story may be based, at least in part, on the Kree-Skrull War Saga (in which Captain Mar-Vel, the Kree warrior who was involved in the incident that gave Carol Danvers her superpowers, was deeply involved), or the Secret Invasion (in which Danvers did not play a leading role, but a time-displaced Mar-Vell seemed to appear and play a pivotal role).

It was also announced that Samuel L. Jackson would return as Nick Fury, but with two functional eyes. I guess this means that this Nick Fury did not lose his eye in WWII, as did the original white one in the comics.

Incidentally, for those keeping track of such things, lots of writers are calling this something that makes it sound like this will be the first movie about a female superhero. Pay close attention to the specific wording. There was a Supergirl movie starring Helen Slater and Faye Dunaway in the 1980's, but that was DC, not Marvel. There was also the Catwoman movie in the 1990's with Halle Berry, but it was neither Marvel, nor was it about a superhero. There was an Elektra movie in the 2000's, but that was not part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, was not a "blockbuster" hit, and the character was more of an anti-hero than a superhero. Then, of course, there was the recent Wonder Woman movie, still in theaters (last I checked).

So that makes Marvel's "Captain Marvel" the first MCU theatrical movie with a female superhero lead. There. I'm glad we got that settled.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Geoff Johns Confirms Black Adam will not be in SHAZAM! REAL NEWS! (Part 3)

This is the third part of the three-part blog update based on the news of the past few days.

When last we left our story, we had mentioned that Dwayne Johnson (the actor whose pro wrestling persona is known as "The Rock") had referred to the hero in the upcoming DC movie "Shazam!" as "Captain Marvel." Whether this was a slip of the tongue, as DC may be using the New 52 version of the character, whose name is "Shazam," as the hero, or a reveal that the hero will be some version of the original Captain Marvel, is still undetermined, and was not the point of the comment. The point was that the plan for what had originally been announced (Johnson appearing as Black Adam in "Shazam!") had been changed:

"What we decided to do was to create a scenario where Black Adam has his stand-alone movie, and Captain Marvel, Shazam, has his stand-alone movie," he told MTV. "We're building our world that way, and then we can come together at some point."

So that was back in April. Of course, the Interwebs being what they are, what this exactly meant had swirled around, so apparently someone had to get the situation clarified. Thus, it should not be a surprise that just a couple of days ago, CinemaBlend posted an article titled "DC Sets the Record Straight on The Rock Appearing in Shazam." In this article they posted the following quotation:

"We haven't announced any casting yet. But Dwayne isn't going to be in this movie. He's still doing Black Adam, but he won't be in Shazam!"

This was from an interview on Yahoo movies earlier that day. Interestingly, this article is weighing in that the hero in the movie will be named "Shazam."

Reasons for this have been stated to include things about Johnson' schedule and so forth, which is reasonable, considering how freakin' busy the guy is. But what this also means is that what could have been potentially the biggest attraction of the "Shazam!" movie is now not a part of it. Consipiracy theorists could easily rave that this is another way of DC screwing over the character. Neither Dr. Sivana nor Mr. Mind, Captain Marvel's two other archest enemies, may not carry the same degree of gravitas into a movie. They certainly would not be able to put up the same kind of physical challenge (barring the introduction of a juiced-up Magnificus Sivana or Mr. Mind commanding Mr. Atom against the World's Mightiest Mortal). Perhaps we could say that the announcement and all the business towards the production of a "Shazam!" movie was just a ploy to lure Johnson to be in a DC movie, and now that he is not going to be in "Shazam!" the big-screen dreams of the Big Red Cheese will go the way of the previous versions of the movie that died in pre-production hell in the '00's

We will see...

So to wrap up the news for the week (much of which happens to be coming out of San Diego Comic Con):

The DC movie "Shazam!" has been announced to start filming in February 2018.

David F. Sandberg has been announced to direct it.

Dwayne Johnson's portrayal of the character Black Adam has been announced to not be in it.

Digest and comment, folks!

PS: Here is a bonus link to Hollywood Reporter's "exclusive" announcement of all this news, complete with an exciting video!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

SHAZAM! Director Announced! REAL NEWS!

Part two of a three-part post series.

This is not a full-service "clickbait roundup," but in my research I could not avoid finding a few articles and posts about the news and thus are linking them in the body of this post. I hate the Interwebs.

In my previous post, I talked about the apparent news from four days ago of the start date of DC's "Shazam!" movie and how it relates to Marvel's "Captain Marvel" movie. This post is about the announcement the day after that of the director announced for "Shazam!"

Comparisons between the "Shazam!" and "Captain Marvel" movie projects are inevitable on this blog for several reasons. For one thing "Shazam" is the trademark by which DC markets the original superhero named Captain Marvel and his several reboots and reinterpretations under their watch. For another, these movies were announced and are scheduled to be released at about the same time. Finally, of course, this blog is about all those superheroes that have gone by the name of "Captain Marvel."

So now, about a month or so after Marvel announced that Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck will be directing their "Captain Marvel," DC has announced that David F. Sandberg will be directing "Shazam!"

I had never heard of this guy before, but that proves nothing, so after I saw the this news on CinemaBlend , I decided to look up this guy a little bit. IMDB shows that apparently he has directed a bunch of shorts and documentaries and a couple of horror features, has also served as writer, producer, cinematographer, composer, and even actor on a bunch of those projects. Wikipedia describes him as a "freelance animator and maker of documentary and short films" before his breakout film, "Lights Out," which was a short from 2013 that became a feature in 2016. Now he is going to be directing a big superhero movie.

The most notable example of someone with a limited resume being given a big genre project somewhat outside of his previous experience that comes to my mind is David Lynch with his version of Frank Herbert's "Dune." David Lynch is a very deliberate director who had displayed a "quirky" sense of filmmaking, but he had never done a movie with more than a half-dozen people and more that a half-dozen dollars before, and it showed. Though the movie was moody and visually arresting, the battle scenes were awkward, the acting was uneven, the script was confusing (especially after the movie had been edited down by the studio for a shorter running time), and had an ending payoff that was different from the book, with a result that would have made continuation of the series impossible. It really seemed like Lynch's brilliant previous efforts, "Eraserhead" and "The Elephant Man," had ill-prepared him for a sprawling, quasi-mystical, stellar-political epic (I personally thought that David Lean would have been a good choice, not just because he had directed a great epic film in a desert but because he understood how to make sprawling, geopolitical epics).

However, I have zero familiarity with Sandberg's work, so I am going to have to spend some time watching his films to pass a preliminary judgement on the wisdom of this decision. He has his own website with a lot of videos, so that seems like a good place to start. Maybe there is something about his visual style, his sense of humor, his understanding of children, his sense of wonder, or some other characteristic that I imagine should be a part of a "Shazam!" movie that makes him ideally suited for the job.

For his part, he has made a few statements in public about this. Heroic Hollywood shared his announcement confirming his assignment. In this announcement, Sandberg said nothing disappointing or even surprising at all:

“I’m very happy to say that is true and it’s really awesome. I’m really looking forward to it.”
“Yeah, just because it’s the ultimate wish fulfillment, you know? Every kid wants to be Superman and here’s the kid who gets the chance to be Superman and, you know, finds out that it could also be a challenge.”
“I definitely plan on doing more horror […] but it’ll be fun to try something that’s a little bit different.”

Apparently, he also chats on Reddit, and ComicBookMovie dutifully reported that he said essentially the same thing all over again.

"To keep it general and not go into script details I'd say the core thing that's appealing to me is the wish fulfillment," said Sandberg. "What kid doesn't want to be Superman? This is a kid that basically gets to become Superman."

...and in searching for more of what he has said on Reddit, I found a San Diego Comic Con interview with him. I am going to have to watch that and comment on it later.

One thing I have noticed, though, is how it still seems uncertain whether the hero is going to be named "Shazam." The CinemaBlend article referenced above says, parenthetically, that "
the hero was known as Captain Marvel before the New 52 relaunch." On the DCEU Reddit board, the "Shazam!" movie is illustrated by a picture of the New 52 character.

On the other hand, on IMDB, in a description written by "Hellfreezer," it says "he is the holder of the power of S.H.A.Z.A.M; he is Captain Marvel." In an interview with Kevin Smith for IMDB posted on BleedingCool, when Smith asks if Sandberg if he is doing any comic book movies soon, Sandberg relpied "Shazam." Smith exclaims "Captain Marvel?" and Sandberg answers, "yes." Then, of course, in Den of Geek's article about the Sandberg announcement, Dwayne Johnson is quoted as saying:

"What we decided to do was to create a scenario where Black Adam has his stand-alone movie, and Captain Marvel, Shazam, has his stand-alone movie," he told MTV. "We're building our world that way, and then we can come together at some point."

Wait, what? Is there more real news? Stay tuned...

NEXT: The Rock lays down the news!

If you want to see David F. Sandberg's previous work...

Friday, July 21, 2017

SHAZAM! Shooting Dates! Yes, REAL NEWS!

In that hazy realm in which Clickbait resides, somewhere between news, rumor, speculations, wishful thinking, and misinterpretation based on wishful thinking after a rumor gets started based on a scrap of news, lay the fate of DC's "Shazam!" movie. All that was certain, for the longest time, was that Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson would play Black Adam in this movie. This was announced way back in 2014. But after several scripts and directors had be lined up in the stillborn attempt at producing this movie in the previous decade, there seemed to be no further developments for this one now.

My previous posts have reported on things that may or may not have been baseless rumors or legitimate news, but today I am just too busy to go on my traditional "clickbait roundup" to find all the angles on all the elements of the story that have broken in the last few days.

We will start with the report from Cinema Blend three days ago that the "Shazam!" movie has a production start date. This date would be in February of 2017, putting it in line with the start date for Marvel's "Captain Marvel" movie.

In case you just started reading comics and following them on the Interwebs four days ago, the reason we are tracking these two movies here on "Captain Marvel Culture" is because "Shazam!" (complete with exclamation point) is the trademark by which DC markets their character known as Captain Marvel. This character was originally produced by Fawcett Publications in comic books dated from 1940-1953. The reasons for his demise are too complex to get into here, but twenty years later DC licensed the character from Fawcett. Marvel, in the meantime, had created their own Captain Marvel (again: long story) and trademarked the name, so DC had to come up with something different. Since the source of Captain Marvel's power's were the magic word "Shazam!" it was decided to make that the title of the comic book, and it has been the trademark by which DC has marketed the character. He was still called "Captain Marvel" inside the books and on the TV shows and in the View-Master Slides, but never on a cover or box. This led to confusion. finally DC, who had fully acquired the rights to the character in 1991, re-interpreted him for their "New 52" reboot of their entire universe, and that character is named "Shazam," ending the confusion...not really. It just led to more confusion.

But confusion aside, Marvel had scheduled their "Captain Marvel" movie for a release date slightly before DC's "Shazam!" Could that have been so that their "captain Marvel hero would hit the big screen before DC's Captain Marvel? Conspiracy theorists have had fun with this. In fact, there are theories, rumors, speculation, and other claptrap about Marvel finally "winning the rights" to the name for DC or something, or there being some sort of deal whereby DC agreed never to use the name "Captain Marvel" again...

...but I am not buying most of it. Marvel can be perfectly justified in protecting their copyright by making sure there is always a Captain Marvel in the MCU, and DC can decide to finally create a superhero with the same name as the title of his comic book without there having been some sort of apocalyptic "deal" or anyone doing anything underhandedly competitive. It's all just business-oriented decisions, for better or worse.

for the Record, right now, as it stands, Marvel's "Captain Marvel" is scheduled to start shooting in February of 2018, and be released on March 8, 2019, and DC's "Shazam!" is said to be starting production in February 2018 for an April 5, 2019 release.

Next: SHAZAM! A Director is Chosen!

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:

...here 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:
comicbook.com (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