Wednesday, July 24, 2013

ComicCon Wrap Up: Looking at Marvel Through the Rearview

I didn’t go to ComicCon, and truth be told, I wasn’t overly tempted to try.  Still, after reading through some of the coverage, mostly on Newsrama, I find myself unreasonably excited about the upcoming slate of Marvel movies.
Is that normal?
This is terrific.  Not sure where Yondu fits in, but this piece here really rocks.
I’m most excited about the new Guardians of the Galaxy movie.  As a sci fi fan of a certain age, how could I not be?  If you’re like me, you saw Star Wars when you were five, and it changed your life.  Forever.  I’m pretty sure that I’m not the only who’s been waiting for damn-near thirty years to see something come out that’s just as cool.  
Guardians #1 during the DnA era.
Is the Guardians’ flick gonna finally be that thing?  I don’t know.  But I know that I loved the Abnett/Lanning run on Guardians, and if they manage to get half of the action, weirdness, and humor that that series had up onto the big screen, I feel good about saying that the movie itself will be a triumph of epic proportions.

The thing that surprises me about Captain America: The Winter Soldier is the size of the cast.  I mean, they’ve called the movie “Captain America”, but they could’ve just as easily called it “The Secret Avengers.”  They’ve got CapBuckyFalconBlack Widow, and Sharon Carter; that’s half the team from Ed Brubaker’s run on The Secret Avengers, which sounds ridiculous until you remember that Brubaker also wrote both The Death of Captain America and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, both of which look to be touchstones for the new film.  
Also on that team?  War Machine.  
Teaser poster for The Winter Soldier.
I know he’s not in the new film, but he could be.  If they were looking to tie all the films as closely together as possible.  And since we’re already talking about it, that team also includedNovaValkerie, and Moon Knight.  Nova, of course, is also sometimes a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy, and Valkerie is an Asgardian, although I don’t know how often she actually shows up in the pages of Thor.  And I doubt they’re gonna do much with Moon Knight any time soon, but I suppose it’s possible that he’ll show up on TV in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  That’d be excellent, if only because it’s so amazingly improbable.  Anyway, I don’t think they’re looking to tie it up like that, and that’s probably for the best, but it’s interesting to see how they could.
By the way, my favorite thing about that particular run of Secret Avengers is by far and away the fact that the team itself is made up almost exclusively of street-level heroes fighting their way through a cosmic-level problem, mostly on the surface of the planet Mars.  It’s crazy stuff, and it’s excellent.  Truly excellent.
Last thought on The Winter Soldier: I hope there’s not too much sex in the movie.  I mean, I’m all for it, but my eight-year-old daughter Emma is a monster comic fan—and a specific fan of both Bucky-Cap and the Black Widow—and she’ll be crushed if we can’t take her to see Winter Soldier in theaters.
I’m less excited about Thor, probably because I’m less of a fan of Thor in the comics.  I don’t think I’ve ever purchased an issue of the Thor monthly comic—or its companion title,Journey into Mystery—but I’ll admit that the new trailers look pretty compelling.  But that’s about as much as I feel comfortable saying about it, though, because I’ve no idea what source material the new movie is based on, nor do I know anything about the underlying mythology, beyond the fact that the mythology itself isn’t particularly germane to what happens in the comics.
Well.  I will say that I’ve seen Beta Ray Bill with his arm around Sif on the cover of one of the recent issues of Journey into Mystery.  First off, that is way freaky.  And second, yeah, it’d be more than a little amazing to see Beta Ray Bill actually show up in a major motion picture.  I mean, who’d have ever thought of that?  He’s more likely to make a cameo in the Guardians of the Galaxy, but then…

I know that X-Men: Days of Future Past was the headline grabber at ComicCon, but I’m a lot more interested in seeing The Wolverine in the here and now.  That’s totally down to source material.  I know it’s a sacrilege to say it, but Days of Future Past didn’t really do much for me when I read it back in the day—nor did I particularly care for it when I read it again more recently—whereas I’ve always thought that the Wolverine-in-Japan thing was totally awesome.  The Kitty Pride and Wolverine six-issue miniseries came out when I was ten, and I remember that we all thought that it was the best thing ever.  
Frankly, I’m surprised and a little disappointed to see that Kitty isn’t in the new movie, although from the cast they’ve shown, it looks like the movie itself may well be a fairly faithful adaptation of the Frank Miller/Chris Claremont miniseries from the early 80s.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing, although I don’t know if I can handle more than one rendition of, “I’m the best there is at what I do.”

A couple of things are bothering me about the new Amazing Spider-Man movie.  The first is that the movie itself is named after a book that was recently discontinued.  We’re past Amazing Spider-Man now, for better or worse, and into the age of the Superior Spider-Man.  All things considered, that’s part and parcel with everything else that’s going on with this iteration of the Spider-Man movie franchise.
The thing that kills me about it is that of all of the comics we’ve talked about, Amazing Spider-Man 2 has the best source material, easily.  It’s not even close.  I don’t know how well they’re gonna pull it off, but even today in 2013, The Death of Gwen Stacy continues to be both bone-jarringly exciting and heart-wrenching.  Not for nothing is that story probably the most iconic story in our modern comics culture.  I mean, yeah, the origin stories of Batman, Superman, and even Spider-Man are all more well-known amongst the mass populace, but when you talk about stories that change lives, that make people comics-fans-for-life, the origin stories aren’t the stories that do that.  The Death of Gwen Stacy is one of those stories that does, though, along with things like Days of Future Past or God Saves, Man Kills or even The Killing Joke*.
But if Amazing Spider-Man 2 has the best, most original source material—at the time, it was ground-breaking and even today, it’s shocking, and that’s when you know what’s coming—it feels the most like a retread.  I mean, the last movie went more-or-less exactly where the ones before it had gone, and the new one seems to be sliding closer without a hint of buzz.  And that’s a shame because the story is half of the modern Spider-Man mythos, half of what makes the world’s greatest superhero who and what he is.
My kids and I all really liked the movie version of Amazing Spider-Man, and I’m excited about seeing the next one.  But I’ll be honest and admit that I hope they do the thing right.  

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