LucasFilm Is Now Disney Owned?!

Unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ve heard the news. Disney purchased LucasFilm for a whopping $4.05 Billion. That is Billion with a B. This is a crazy bit of news. Nobody even knew it was on the market.

Disney wasted no time talking about their plans for LucasFilm. They intend on having Star Wars Episode 7 in theaters by 2015, the same time as Avengers 2, with 8 and 9 to follow shortly after. This is great news for Disney, but what does it mean for fans?

First off, Disney owns Marvel Studios and their comic book line. That means Dark Horse Comics will lose the rights as soon as their contract is up. There’s no way Disney is going to re-up that contract now. Marvel was the first company to release Star Wars comics back in the late 70’s and they will have it back again in just a couple short years.

Second, we must address what this means for the fans of the movies. Star Wars and Indiana Jones are both owned by LucasFilm. Fox and Paramount only had distribution rights. Now that Disney owns them that means we won’t have Lucas making poor decisions on how to handle these two properties. Instead we’ll have Disney making those poor decisions…maybe. The good thing is Kathleen Kennedy is staying on as the head of LucasFilm. This could go the same way as Marvel or Pixar for Disney where they are able to make their own decisions while having access to giant bags of money.

People that know me know that I hated the Star Wars prequel trilogy and didn’t really like Indiana Jones 4. With Lucas out of the picture we finally get to see other people step up to the creative plate and give us a new vision of the worlds Lucas created. We may also finally see a Star Wars television series.

After so many years of Lucas slowly losing his touch with what fans want we now get to see what may be a bold and creative new playground set in his sandbox. Overall I am excited. I still have reservations about it but that comes with the territory.

Lucas is also keeping ILM. That’s his baby, something he seems to care about more than screwing his fans with inferior product. One of my biggest complaints with the prequel trilogy was that Lucas seemed more in love with his technology than with his stories or actors. I say let him have the tech and give the other stuff to people who care about the stories.

Brian and I talked about this subject in detail on our podcast we just recorded. It will be available on Monday. And when my friend Dave and I record our Midichlorian Mayhem podcast (coming soon) we will be touching on it even more.

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Possible Guardians Of The Galaxy News

It is being rumored that Marvel may have settled on a director for their upcoming adaptation of the Guardians Of The Galaxy comics. Ever since Marvel has been making movies they have made bold choices in who directs their movies. Even with their missteps you can’t help but respect the thought behind it. As much as I loved the idea of Ang Lee making a Hulk movie it didn’t turn out well. That doesn’t mean I won’t give Marvel a large heaping of respect for thinking outside the box.

They are continuing the trend of making bold choices if this rumor is correct. James Gunn, the man behind such films as Tromeo & Juliet and Dawn Of The Dead as a writer and Slither and Super as a director, is reportedly in talks to make the film. This is great news. The man has a wonderful sense of humor and can also go very dark. He is very skilled as a writer and director. It seems strange that a man who’s films have barely registered as a blip at the box office would be the director of choice for such a film unless you consider his relationship with Avengers director Joss Whedon. They have been friends for years. Whedon even named the character of Gunn on Angel after him. Given that Marvel is very happy with Whedon after what he did with Avengers and even helping Kenneth Branagh find his Thor in Chris Hemsworth I would imagine that his word is gold around the Marvel offices right now.

If you haven’t seen Slither or Super you owe it to yourself to seek them out. They are both very good movies. Gunn also recently created a video game called Lollipop Chainsaw that I hear is quite fun. The only thing I haven’t really liked that he wrote was the first two Scooby Doo movies. I don’t really blame him for that though. I saw glints of Gunn’s sensibilities there but they seemed to be watered down in favor of keeping the films more family friendly. It was Scooby Doo after all.

If James Gunn is involved with Guardians this just jumped up on my must see list. The other good thing is that he and Whedon are both good friends with Nathan Fillion who is the fan favorite to play Ant Man. With two directors pushing for Fillion to be a part of the Marvel Universe we may actually get to see this happen.

Batman Vs. Iron Man

There are many similarities between characters in both the Marvel and DC superheroes. The most obvious being Batman and Iron Man. They are both rich and have no super powers. They are also the two biggest characters in their respective movie franchises. I decided to break it down a little and see where they are similar and where the differences are.

Batman (aka Bruce Wayne) is single minded in his desire to rid Gotham City of crime and corruption. Batman seems to be more of who he is than Bruce. It’s almost as if Bruce is the mask he hides behind.

Iron Man (aka Tony Stark) started as a reluctant hero who decided he can’t sit idly by and watch the world tear itself apart with weapons he provided. He has a larger ego. He is Tony Stark in a metal costume fighting crime.

Batman has a strong desire to be alone in his fight, not wanting to drag anyone else into the fold. It wasn’t until the introduction of Robin that we saw another side to him, a side that made him change his single-minded ways and care for someone. And although he still selfishly endangered the life of a minor on a regular basis he showed he could be a sympathetic character.

Iron Man may not play well with others but realized very quickly that he needed them. He helped shape The Avengers into a force to be reckoned with. He happily took the job of an Avenger while Batman was always reluctant to play nice with the Justice League, even keeping weapons that could destroy each of them if it came down to it.

Batman has better villains. One of the greatest villains in the comic book world is The Joker. He’s the perfect flip side to Batman. He is what Batman could have been had the darkness consumed him. Plus there is The Riddler, Catwoman, Bane, The Court Of The Owls, and many others.

Iron Man’s stable of villains is rather weak. Sure, there is The Mandarin who is pretty cool but what else does he have? Most of the great villains he fights are along with The Avengers.

Alfred is a great part of the Batman story. He is the reason Bruce didn’t go Batshit crazy. He is Batman’s confidant and trusted advisor.

Jarvis is Tony Stark’s butler in the comics, computer in the movies. He’s just sort of there.

Oh, and then there are the wonderful gadgets. Batman wins hands down here. From the Batmobile to the wonderful things he keeps in his utility belt Batman has so many things in his arsenal for every occasion. If you count the hokey television show he even carries shark repellent.

Iron Man has a suit. Granted, the suit has several wonderful things it can do like fly, shoot, act as armor, give enhanced strength. Iron Man also has back up from other suited crime fighters like War Machine who outfitted his suit with heavy weapons.

I would say overall Batman beats Iron Man. That’s not to say I like Iron Man any less. I have taken much joy over the years from reading his comics and watching the movies. And none of them have been as bad as Batman And Robin.

Guardians Of The Galaxy – Marvel’s Big Announcement?

I never really enjoyed Guardians Of The Galaxy. It was one of those comic book titles I passed by on a regular basis and just didn’t care. I know there is a fanbase out there for it and they are die hard fans. There’s also a fanbase for Captain Atom, myself included, but I doubt he’ll ever get a movie.

Far be it for me to question Marvel’s judgement as they have taken characters the general public didn’t know or didn’t care about and turned them into iconic movie characters. Maybe they will do it again. And maybe this is the master plan for their second wave – introduce the Guardians where the villain Thanos played a huge part and weave the whole thing into Avengers 2. If that’s the case then I see why they would choose this as their next big movie. Thanos, after all, was teased as the credits rolled in Avengers so we can assume he will be the bad guy for the next film.

But the Guardians was a story that felt like a sort of rip off Green Lantern to me growing up. It was a group of aliens guarding the galaxy against threats. They even had a super smart alien racoon in the mix, and yes he will be in the movie.

I tried reading Guardians once or twice and just didn’t care. The news seems a little underwhelming when it comes down to it. I was hoping for something more about Ant-Man or Black Panther. It almost seems like they chose Guardians for the express purpose of showing up the makers of Green Lantern and saying, “We can do it better than you!”

Don’t get me wrong, I hope the movie is great and keeps the trend of really cool Marvel movies. I just worry that it could be more like Fantastic Four than X-Men.

When Marvel Movies Go Wrong

There are different factors at work here. Sometimes Marvel doesn’t own their property and the studio needs to make a movie or risk letting the rights revert back. Sometimes it’s other things. I’m gonna try and go through this and hit on as many as possible.

1) Bad Casting Choices – sure there are other reasons to hate Daredevil, Fantastic Four, and Ghost Rider but one thing everyone can agree on is that they were poorly cast. Maybe not the whole thing but enough of it to make it suffer.
Jessica Alba is fun to look at but she’s no Sue Storm.
Ben Affleck as Daredevil, no good. Nicolas Cage as Ghost Rider, no thanks. Plus, with that movie, he and Eva Mendes were supposed to he the same age. That was one of the most laughable things in the entire movie.
All three Punisher movies have suffered at the hands of poor casting. Dolph Lundgren as the Punisher was bad. Thomas Jane was better but casting Travolta as the bad guy was kinda lame.
Halle Berry may be an Oscar winning actress but she didn’t do anything for me as Storm in X-Men.

2) Shared Continuity – for the most part Marvel has done a bang up job with sharing characters and overall stories in their movies. But when Thor hit theaters last year it felt like all they were trying to do was introduce the character before making The Avengers. It didn’t feel like a good movie. It felt like a necessity.

3) Recasting Characters – we have three different Hulks now. They’ve all been good. Eric Bana was solid in a weak movie, Edward Norton brought more of what made the old television series great, and Mark Ruffalo was good. The problem is that the audience wants to identify with a character and starts to lose interest when a different actor plays him every time. The character of Rhodes in Iron Man changed actors and it worked alright but he wasn’t the main character. The afore mentioned Punisher has been three actors in three movies. Usually when you recast it means reboot. The Incredible Hulk did well with that, at least, by not wasting a half hour on rehashing a story we already knew.

4) Movies By Committee – comic book movies are big business anymore and studios are throwing a lot of money at them. This is great for the nerd in us all. What’s not great is that the fiscally minded studios don’t think about the creative process. They try to ensure their movie gives them a solid return on their investment. That means they they tell the writers and directors what the have to put in and what they can’t do. Take Spider-Man 3. Sam Raining had a clear idea for the movie, a singular vision. What ended up on screen was a big series of compromises. He was not going to use Venom. He wanted to wrap up the storylines he’d been laying since the first film. But the studio was giving him almost $300 million to make the movie and insisted he make what they said. The result was one of the worst films of that year, and certainly the worst Sam Raimi film by far.
The shared continuity of the Marvel films is also a movie by committee idea. The heads of Marvel studios say “we want this done so we can do this in another movie. We can’t do this here because we need it over there.” There’s very little the writers and directors can do but hang on and hope for the best.

5) Studio Ownership – because Marvel didn’t start out as their own studio they sold rights left and right to whoever wanted them. New Line owns Blade. Fox owns the entire mutant line, Fantastic Four, and Daredevil. Sony owns Ghost Rider and Spider-Man. This can be both good and bad. Sony rushed to make another Ghost Rider because they wanted to keep the rights, and they’re reboot of Spider-Man happened for the same reason. It was only a decade ago we got the first Spidey movie. They’re planning reboots of Daredevil and Fantastic Four right now…all because they don’t Marvel to be in charge of Marvel’s own product. We’ve already seen a reboot of X-Men last year.

6) Choose Your Directors Wisely – I’m talking mostly about Mark Steven Johnston. After the Daredevil debacle someone actually thought it was a good idea to hand him Ghost Rider.
And Ang Lee making an indie movie that just happens to be a giant green rage monster, bad choice.
I’m a fan of Kenneth Branagh. I have enjoyed his work for years. But he was out of his depth with Thor. It may have seemed like a good idea on paper but the stuff set on Earth fell flat. It seemed Branagh was only interested in Aasgard.

One good thing about having different studios own certain Marvel properties is that we get more product than we would otherwise. Last year we had Captain America and Thor from Marvel proper and X-Men First Class from Fox. Marvel only wants to commit to one or two movies a year so having characters at other studios can help when you’re jonesing for more comic book movie goodness in a summer.