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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Returning Heroes and Villains

Another late night at work, so while I've got some free time on my supper break, I may as well take to the blog and blog about some recent news items that caught my eye.

This is a few weeks old now, but it sure got tongues wagging.  Marvel Studios recently announced a huge deal with Netflix to start producing original TV series based on Marvel characters exclusively for Netflix!  The four characters getting their own shows are:
Following the model of the Marvel movies, this will all build up to a Defenders mini-series, featuring these characters teaming up.  I don't know much about The Defenders...they're usually assembled by Dr. Strange to combat supernatural threats.  And they were widely mocked in Twisted ToyFare Theatre back in the day for being the low-rent Avengers.

Each hero's series is going to run 13 episodes.  And they've already announced some of the talent.  Daredevil is going to be overseen by Drew Goddard.  Goddard is a frequent Joss Whedon collaborator, having written episodes of Buffy and Angel back in the day.  On the big screen, he co-wrote (with Whedon) and directed the horror film deconstruction The Cabin in the Woods.

For Jessica Jones, they're talking with Melissa Rosenberg.  Rosenberg is a veteran television writer, who was responsible for some of the better episodes of Dexter.  On the big screen, she wrote the screenplay for every Twilight movie.  Apparently, back in 2010, she attempted to get a Jessica Jones series up and running, so she's already familiar with the character.   

It's all slated to premiere in 2015. 

I think this is a great idea.  Obviously, the Marvel Universe is so big, that they can't adapt every character into a movie.  So why not give some of the B-listers a TV series?  Netflix is widely becoming the place for new, original content, with such hits as House of Cards and Orange is the New Black.  Because each series is going to run 13 episodes, we can have a definite story arc running for those episodes, which will really give them an opportunity to tell an epic story.  Might be finally time to sign up for Netflix!

And there was a news story that broke on Friday night that caught my eye.  The producers of the James Bond films have finally reacquired the movie rights to the character of Ernst Stavro Blofeld.

For those who aren't familiar with Bond lore, Blofeld is James Bond's arch-enemy, head of the terrorist organization known as SPECTRE.  Blofeld and SPECTRE were the villains in pretty much all the James Bond movies of the 1960s.  They were always stirring up Cold War tensions between The Western Powers and the Soviet Bloc in the hopes of starting World War III, and then building a new world order from the ashes.  For the first few films, he was shown only from the back, stroking his white, long-haired cat, thus establishing that supervillain cliche.

How the Bond producers lost the rights to the Moriarty to Bond's Sherlock Holmes is a long and sordid tale.  This is as best I understand it.  Back in the late 1950s, when Bond was starting to take the literary world by storm, Bond's creator Ian Fleming partnered with a young writer named Kevin McClory to write a James Bond screenplay to shop around to movie producers.  Somewhere along the way, Fleming and McClory had a falling out, and went their separate ways.  Not wanting to let a good story go to waste, Fleming published the unused screenplay as the Bond novel Thunderball

Needless to say, when Thunderball hit bookstore shelves, McClory was pissed, and sued to get his due credit and royalties for co-writing Thunderball.  The judge sided with McClory, and as part of his settlement, McClory was granted the movie rights to Thunderball.  As the movie version of Thunderball was already in production by the time this settlement was reached, McClory got a co-producer credit on the film, and was barred from exercising his film rights until 10 years after Thunderball's release. 

Flash forward 10 years.  As the Bond producers are getting ready to do a gritty reboot of Blofeld and reintroduce SPECTRE on the big screen, McClory launched a second lawsuit.  The lawsuit said, since Blofeld made his first appearance in the novels in Thunderball, McClory also owned the rights to the character of Blofeld.  Once again, the judge ruled in favour of McClory, and the Bond producers could no longer have Bond fight his arch-enemy.

All throughout the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, McClory tried to use his ownership of the movie rights to Thunderball and Blofeld and mount a rival Bond film franchise.  The only fruit of those labours was the 1983 Bond film Never Say Never Again, which is considered non-cannonical because it wasn't made by the true Bond film producers.  And all throughout that time, McClory and the Bond producers filed several nasty lawsuits against each other, all over who owned what aspects of the Bond mythology. 

McClory passed away in 2006, and this settlement was finally reached through years of negotiations between the Bond producers and McClory's estate.  Now, all the film rights to every aspect of James Bond is now, finally, owned by the producers of the James Bond films. 

And again, I think this is fantastic news.  As I blogged before, Skyfall left me feeling that this Bond reboot is complete.  With our new M, Q and Moneypenny back in place, all the elements are back for some classic Bond adventures.  And now that Bond's arch-enemy is back, they can truly reboot the franchise.  I wonder what SPECTRE would be like in this present day.  Would they make it like the terrorist cells that we see in the War on Terror?  Who knows?

Hopefully, like the Bond films of the 1960s, this'll give Bond a recurring villain to fight over several films.  It would be neat to see a hero/villain relationship evolve over several films, truly developing Blofeld into Bond's equal.  The next Bond film is slated for 2015...no word yet on how this might change plans for the next Bond film.  But it's just nice that Bond finally has his arch-enemy again.

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