Edit: I noticed some lame typos. I’m sorry about that.
I’ve got a million ideas floating around in my head right now. Devin’s editorial
about the future of DC comics in movies helped focus me, for a blog
post at least. I don’t really consider myself a comic book reader,
mostly because I don’t really read much unrelated to film criticism.
I’m too busy being a movie geek to be a comic geek.
I used to
read and buy comics weekly when I was in middle school, and through
part of high school. This was unfortunately the era of Image, an aptly
named company if ever there was one. I don’t like to use the phrase
‘out grow’, but I can’t think of any better way to describe my
relationship with Image. There was an even a period there where I
wanted to be a comic artist, and I unfortunately used the likes of Todd
MacFarlane and Jim Lee as my inspiration (no Rob Leifeld though, even
as a dumb child I recognized that shit for what it was). As a result, I
can’t bear to even look at that brand of over detailed,
every-muscle-visible illustration any more. I kind of turned my back on
comics for a long while there, as my film tastes evolved (except Savage Dragon, I kept those).
now I have a friend one state over named Blake who brings me TPBs to
read about once a month, so I’m not completely ignorant of what’s been
happening in the industry. For the most part I’ve been watching the
rise of the super-hero film as an educated outsider, but now I’m
developing a taste for what I like, and what I want to see adapted to
the big screen. Most of my hard super-hero knowledge comes out of
cartoons like the middling X-Men and Spider-Man
cartoons of the ‘90s, and the fantastic Timm/Dini DC Animated Universe
(which has ended up coloring my view of all super hero characters to
the point of sad obsession, but more on that some other time).
far I’ve been reasonably satisfied with most of the big super-hero
movies of the past eight years, mostly because I don’t particularly
care about the characters, and have little need to see them
‘accurately’ portrayed on the big screen. I walk in with some
knowledge, but usually no huge preconceptions.
Obviously I’d be
a liar if I said I wasn’t interested in comic books, but I still think
of myself as an outsider. I’m not so tied up in the culture that I
can’t look at it objectively (unlike Italian horror movie culture, to
which I’m so intertwined I’m beginning to question my sanity). I
usually read comics and novels as a film fan, and immediately go about
adaptation possibilities. From my non-expert, film geek point of view,
I’d like to see film or television adaptations of the following
(apparently Y the Last Man is
already in development, so I won’t bother with that one). I’m not too
good with fan-casting, and in most cases I’d like to see the original
writers given first crack at scripting, so I’m only going to offer up
ideas for directors.
1. New X-Men:
Brett Ratner’s X-Men 3
left me very angry, though I still couldn’t call it a complete failure.
The good news is that every earth-shattering event in the film can be
easily discarded by the end credits (Magneto’s getting his powers back,
Charles is alive, Cyclops’s body hasn’t been recovered, Jean Grey
obviously isn’t dead), thus wiping the slate clean and leaving room for
another series of films. I think Grant Morrison’s treatment of the
characters, which was apparently suppose to be more in keeping with the
tone of the first movie, is a great place to start over. Tie up a few
loose ends and start right where his story starts, you could get three
solid movies from the material. Also, Morrison acknowledges the Phoenix
and it’s dangers, so we don’t have to even pretend that didn’t happen.
Michelle Soavi has proven his metal, and made two largely successful comic adaptations to date – Dellamorte Dellamore (AKA: Cemetery Man), and Arrivederci Amore, Ciao (AKA: The Goodbye Kiss). He’s also made several successful made for TV cop thrillers (Uno Bianca
parts 1 and 2 are available on US DVD) that look like real movies,
proving he can deal with multiple characters and action on a budget.
Being a Hollywood first timer I’m guessing he’d have some interesting
ideas to bring to the table, and he’d cost a fraction of a hack like
2. Ultimates: Volumes 1 and 2
Every step Marvel takes towards this new Avengers movie is pretty satisfying, but so far they feel like steps rather then films. Iron Man (which was very good), and Incredible Hulk
(which was very average) both felt like stones over a river leading to
something bigger, not stand alone movies, and I’ve got a creeping fear
that there’s simply no way for Marvel to live up to this hype they’re
creating. I liked The Ultimates
more then anything else in the entire Ultimates universe, and would
love to see a film follow that story as close as possible (Sam Jackson
as Nick Fury seems an obvious start). The problem is that we really
don’t need another War of the Worlds scenario (the Justice League
cartoon pulled that one too), and the climactic battles of volume 2
will take a lot of set up to get too. I’m not sure how this will work,
but I really want it to.
I suppose Jon Favreau would be the
obvious choice, but I’m not convinced his skills and tone would work on
such a huge canvas (yet). I’d rather see Matthew Vaughn finally finish
production on a Marvel super-hero film, and I think this would be a
good place to start. In only two films the director has proven a solid
control of different kinds of characters and tones (from very dark to
very light), and a decent control of special effects and action.
I haven’t been keeping up with the whole Brian Michael Bendis phenomenon save this one title (Ultimate Spider-Man just didn’t do it for me). Powers begins like Law and Order with
super-heroes, a frankly blah idea, but the story steadily builds into
something far more interesting. Perhaps someone clever could sell the
series to a television studio as Law and Order
with super-heroes to get a foot in the door. It’d have to be an edgier
studio like HBO or Showtime, but I think that FX or AMC could also pull
it off only pulling a few punches. It’d be a fine antidote to
mainstream comic book absorption like Heroes or Smallville.
Television creative types aren’t so much my forte, but the people behind either Breaking Bad or Dirt would work, though for different reasons. The Breaking Bad route could make for a more realistic show, while the Dirt
route could make for a more rowdy show, and I think the series could
work either way. Another possibility would be the people behind the
real Law and Order, or the people behind The Shield, but that’s just too on the nose. In a perfect world I’d like to see David Milch’s Powers, but that seems most unlikely of all.
I believe that Jeff Smith’s cartoony tale of alternate universe medieval adventure would make fine filler in the post Harry Potter world, following the release of that final film. Like Harry Potter,
the series starts light and builds dark, but not too dark to completely
alienate the children who grow up with it. Animation would be ideal,
but I’m also pretty sure it could be pulled off live action given the
right creative crew, though I can’t see how the series could be
compressed into a single film.
If animated Jeff Smith himself
might be able to handle direction on this one alone, but if we’re going
live action I’m thinking perhaps a former animation director, like Brad
Bird or Andrew Stanton.
…And when those children grow up and out of Harry Potter and Bone, perhaps it’s time for something with a little more adult grit, like Bill Willingham’s Fables.
The series is slow to get going (I almost gave up), but once it finds
the right footing it’s quite addictive, and in this man’s humble
opinion, more enjoyable then Neil Gaiman’s similarly themed Sandman
series. I believe the Zionist slants could get some funding with The
Weinstein Company (if you’re part Jewish you’re aloud to make Jew
jokes, it’s the rules). The problem is the series ongoing status makes
for difficult film adaptation (perhaps TV), Hellboy covers similar ground, and Bigby Wolf is a whole hell of a lot like Wolverine.
I’m drawing creative blanks on a director for this one, because they all seem too obvious (Del Toro, Jackson, Fincher). Perhaps Fables could be Fran Walsh’s directorial début, or we could go the darker route with someone like Lucky McKee or Kiyoshi Kurosawa.
6. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
may be the best Manga I’ve ever read, and the animated film version is
a great disappointment – an average feature that dispenses with entire
cultures from the source material, not to mention the last act, which
could make a movie all its own. This is one Miyazaki property that I
think could work in live action, and even survive a little Hollywood
studio Westernization. Ideally this would be a trilogy, ala The Lord of the Rings,
and ideally it would be treated in a similar matter. Despite the
colorful environments and animated charm, this could work as a
hyper-realistic universe. There would have to be changes made to the
designs, of course, but the story could remain virtually untouched. One
could probably sell the idea to a studio as Lord of the Rings in the sky, had the last half dozen LOTR fill-ins not failed miserable at the box office.
Miyazaki’s input would be key, but I’m not sure the 67 year old would
have it in him to direct a huge Hollywood production. Again, director
ideas all seem too obvious (Del Toro, Jackson, Spielberg). Part of me
would like to see a Japanese genre director given the chance to shine,
like Ryuhei Kitamura (who handled ‘epic’ Manga adaptation pretty well
on Azumi) or Takashi Miike (who made two charming, effects heavy kids films in Zebraman and The Great Yokai War),
but I’m not sure either of them could handle the appropriate tone or
scale. Things could be taken to their whimsical limit with someone like
Stephen Chow, or to their most philosophical, by someone like Darren
Aronofsky or Park Chan-Wook (both auteur who likely wouldn’t step
within a mile of such a property).
ETA: I just saw Hellboy II, and the Elemental sequence makes me more sure of the possibilities of Miyazaki in a 3D world.