Just forget the words and sing along

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Wear Your Fandom on your Sleeve

OK, let's get to the big movie news of the week.  In case you've been living under a rock since Monday, Sony gave Spider-Man back to Marvel

Well, not really.  Sony still technically owns the movie rights to Spider-Man.  Sony still has financial and creative control over the character, and will handle all production and marketing and distribution of any Spider-Man solo films.

But, under this new deal that's been signed between Sony and Marvel, Kevin Feige, the president of Marvel Studios and grand czar of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, is now in charge of the Spider-Man film franchise, and Spider-Man and the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe are now free to interact with each other.

So how did we get here?  Well, way back before they formed their own movie studio, Marvel did what any other comic book company would do:  sell off the movie rights.  The movie rights to Spider-Man were sold off ages ago, and after a court battle that lasted for most of the 1990s, the rights were granted to Sony, and thus the Spider-Man film franchise that we know was born.

However, the turning point was this past summer and The Amazing Spider-Man 2.  Granted, it made $700 million worldwide, but it was the lowest-grossing Spider-Man movie ever.  That, coupled with the critical drubbing it got, had fans everywhere screaming, "Give Spider-Man back to Marvel!"

Meanwhile, ever since Marvel formed their own movie studio, they have been trying to re-aquired all their properties.  As we learned during the Sony hacks, it turns out Marvel and Sony were having some deep negotiations about Marvel regaining Spider-Man.  And some 11th hour shenanigans must have taken place for Marvel to get their way, because rather than the big splashy media events they like to do to announce this stuff, it was mentioned in a news release sent out just before midnight on Monday.

So, with Marvel now running the Spider-Man film franchise for Sony, and Spider-Man now free to interact with the Avengers, Marvel's been shuffling around their release schedule.  The first Marvel Cinematic Universe Spider-Man film is coming in July 2017, and the release dates for Thor: Ragnarok, Black Panther, Captain Marvel, and The Inhumans are all being shuffled around to make room.  Spider-Man is also allowed to appear in one Marvel film before his first solo film.  It's all but confirmed now that that appearance will be in Captain America: Civil War, because Spidey was a big part of the original comic storyline. 

New franchise-runners also means a new Spider-Man.  Andrew Garfield, who I thought did a stellar job despite mediocre stories, is being show the door.  Apparently, Marvel wants a younger Spider-Man, more like the teenager that Spidey is always known to be.  (Garfield just turned 31 in real life.)  Marvel apparently wants an actual teenager to play the teenaged Spider-Man.

And Sony has also announced that, despite these developments, their still soldiering on with their Sinister Six, Venom and TBD Female Character spinoffs.  Of course, The Amazing Spider-Man 3 has been canceled in favour of the Marvel reboot.

And out of all this, all I can think is, "Is it too late to film a new post-credit stinger for Avengers: Age of Ultron, one featuring Spider-Man?"  I was always more of a DC guy when I was a kid, but the only Avengers comic I had was one where Spidey tried to join the Avengers.  Alarms were going off in Avengers Mansion, the Avengers assembled to track down the intruder, and they eventually found Spider-Man, who had made a web hammock beneath the QuinJet's wing, where he just casually said, "C'mon, guys, let me join."


Meanwhile, over on the DC side of the street, we just had the epic 2-part episode of Gotham showing us the secret origin of the Scarecrow.

Yes, everyone I went to college with, I know the Scarecrow was on Gotham.  For those just joining us, Scarecrow has always been my favourite Batman villain.  So much so, that back in my college radio days, Scarecrow was my on-air name.

I'm enjoying Gotham for the most part right now.  I'm just a little afraid they'll fall into the Smallville trap.  On Smallville, it was always fun to see these hints and secret origins of various Superman characters, but by season 6, you're screaming at the TV in frustration.  "GET ON WITH IT!"

So for Scarecrow's secret origin, we met the Scarecrow's father, Dr. Gerald Crane, and the Scarecrow proper, Johnathon Crane, is just a teenager.  The elder Dr. Crane lost his wife in a house fire, and he blames himself for her death because he was too afraid to go back in and save her.  Thus leading to his obsession with phobias and fears.  Dr. Crane has been torturing people by literally scaring them to death, in an attempt to find a cure for fear.  And of course, he experiments on his son.  The final scene is the future Scarecrow, having received an overdose of his father's cure, cowering in fear as he hallucinates being harassed by terrifying scarecrows. 

It was OK.  I'm not sure I like this idea of the Scarecrow being a legacy villain, taking the mantle from his father.  But you can see some motivations.  Maybe now the Scarecrow becomes obsessed with fears and phobias because he's trying to cure his condition.

What can I say?  I always kind of hoped they'd do young Scarecrow much like how they're doing young Riddler.  Have Prof. Johnathon Crane be this brilliant, yet slightly off, professor of psychology over at Gotham University who's called in as a profiler on a couple of cases.  And, since it's been established that Harley Quinn studied psychology at Gotham University, I always had this idea that maybe Harley Quinn studied under Prof. Crane.  So you can introduce young Harley Quinn by having Harlene Quinzel be one of Prof. Crane's grad students.

In other news, I'm on vacation again this week, burning off more vacation time.  Decided to head into the city, because I always enjoy how wonderfully uncrowded West Edmonton Mall is on a weekday morning.  Swung by HMV, and I stunned myself.  I finally bought Brazil on Blu-Ray.

Brazil.  Terry Gilliam's legendary dystopian tale.  Rather than anything malicious on the part of the state to crush your will and bring you under control, it's the relentless bureaucracy.  I have actually never seen it.  I've been wanting to see if for ages.  Way, way back in high school English, when we were studying 1984, it was a film that my teacher would reference and name-check a lot.  I knew a girl in college who cited it as her favourite movie.  With that pedigree, I knew I must see it some day.  And besides, it's a Criterion edition.  The Brazil Criterion has long been held up as one of THE Criterion editions, and the reason why Criterion does what they do. 

Since I got my first DVD player in 2001, I've been eying the Criterion of Brazil, but I always stopped myself because Criterion editions get pricey.  But, that day, I looked at the $39.99 price tag, and said, "Screw it.  Let's get it."  And then I got to the till, and when the clerk rang it up, it came up at $32.99.  Clerk said, "Huh.  The computer says it's $7 cheaper.  I won't tell if you won't."  And I got it for the lower price.

With a new Blu-Ray in hand, it was then upstairs to see Jupiter Ascending.

Yay!  The Wachowskis are back with a new sci-fi epic!  Always curious to sew what else the creators of The Matrix are creating.  And I know I'm a minority here, but I love, love, LOVE Speed Racer.  So what did they concoct for us this time?

Jupiter Jones.  The daughter of Russian immigrants.  Makes her living as a cleaning lady, scrubbing the toilets of Chicago's elite.  Inspired by stories of her astronomer father, who died before she was born, she gazes up at the stars and dreams of something more.  "Something more" falls in her lap one day when aliens try to kill her at a medial clinic, and Caine, the half-human/half-wolf bounty hunter rescues her.  Turns out Jupiter has the exact same genetic make-up as the recently deceased Queen of the Galaxy, and under the rules of ascension of the galaxy, this makes her next in line for the throne.  Of course, this makes her a target for the Queen's children, because her existence is a threat to their claims to the throne.

I got strong John Carter vibe from Jupiter Ascending.  They focus a little too much on world-building than plot and character development.  And despite being our protagonist, Jupiter isn't very proactive, just kind of going along with the flow of this new world she's been thrust into.  And, as such, the plot gets rather repetitive, as Caine is always charging to her rescue, as she gets swept up down the wrong path.

That being said, it is pretty funny in some places.  While most of the characters speak in that faux-Shakespearean that's common to sci-fi/fantasy films, Jupiter keeps acting all commoner like and reacts to all these unbelievable situations with the same, "Holy crap."   And there's a great scene halfway through showing us the galactic bureaucracy.  Who knew that laying a claim to the throne had so much paperwork? 

All in all, maybe I'm getting old and have seen too many space operas, but I just couldn't shake the feeling that I'd seen it all before.  2 out of 4 Nibs.  Complete review is over on the website.

And before I wrap this up, just one little side quest.

My new routine when coming home from the city is to take the long way through Spruce Grove, where I'll stop for supper at one of the two new burger chains making inroads into Canada:  Carl's Jr or Fatburger.  Yesterday, Carl's Jr won the coin toss.  What can I say?  I'm still enjoying the novelty of how new they are.  Same way in the late 1990s when Burger King finally came to Alberta.

Anyway, on my parka, I've got a Doctor Who button.  Just the smiling face of the Tenth Doctor.  A friend of mine brought it back for me after a vacation in London.  I'm sure he paid no more than £1 for it.  But that button has become the best icebreaker ever.

Case in point, the clerk at Carl's Jr.  She saw the button, let out a shriek of glee, and began extolling the virtues of Doctor Who and how it's like every great science fiction and superhero franchise rolled into one.  I was pretty into it, but after about 10 minutes, I started thinking, "I'm really hungry.  Can I place my order now, please?" 

But still, it's great time to be a geek.  Cute girls are reveling in the fandom, and not recoiling in horror, like they did when I was in high school.  I just like not feeling alone anymore. 

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