Monday, February 16, 2015

Can he Swing from a Thread?

By adding Bad Shakespeare 52 and Bad Shakespeare Takes England as regular features in my blog, it has made my job a little bit easier because I’m not searching around for what to write about which often takes up most of my blogging time. I mean, I do this as a hobby and as a way to stretch my muscles. And, of course, there’s going to be that sad day that I will stop writing regular blog posts and have to start the inevitable “Hey, guys, it’s been a while, hasn’t it? Here’s what I’ve been up to.” That also makes Mondays a little bit harder, because I’m now using that for just about anything I can think of, and that isn’t always readily available, either. I guess what I’m trying to say is…


Ok, to the non-nerds in the audience, I feel kind of bad that you will never know the sheer joy there is in seeing Spider-Man team up with Captain America to punch evil in the face. But, I think this requires some explaining.

So, many of you not born before 2000 (who are now 15. Let that sink in for a little bit, America.) may not realize that there was a very dark time in Comic Book Movie History. There was a time when making a comic book movie was a bit of a gamble… see Roger Corman’s Fantastic Four… Oh, yeah, that’s right, that was never supposed to see the light of day. There was also a dark period where Batman was played by George Clooney, and there was an entire movie spun off from Superman that featured Shaquille O’Neal in one of the worst superhero costumes in the world that never once used the word “Superman” in any point. I remember going to see that one in the Theaters, kids. It was the first time I was the only one in the movie theater, and the first time I went to see a movie that didn’t have a movie poster associated with it. I think I asked what time the next showing was and they asked me “What time can you be here?” 

Oh, and for some reason we thought that it would be a good idea to give Judge Dredd a wacky sidekick.

In any event, you know the big two comic book franchises… DC and Marvel… were looking to branch out in exciting new directions for their superheroes. DC had already had some success in re-inventing superheroes for the big screen with Superman 1 and 2. Those were great, but quickly devolved into evil Superman vs. Richard Pryor (no disrespect to Richard Pyror) and Superman vs. a living ball of Nuclear radiation. Even these weren’t perfect, as it featured the most Gene Hackman version of Lex Luthor you’ll see, and brand new Superman powers like amnesia-kiss and cellophane giant S, which had the power to mildly inconvenience the bad guy for a few minutes. 

DC was ambitious, though, and kept finding some mild successes, like Michael Keaton Batman. So the hope was that one day, we’d get some epic superhero movies from DC Comics, featuring Superman, Batman, and even Wonder Woman.

These were hopeful times, kids.

Marvel, by the way, which owned X-Men, Fantastic Four, Iron Man, the Avengers, Spider-Man… they didn’t have it as good. After a… we’ll just call it a “movie” featuring the punisher, they had to go back to the drawing board. You see, Marvel vs. DC in the movies boiled down to this: DC said: “we have a guy in a Bat costume that fights crime. Find a guy who looks good as Bruce Wayne, then find us seven stuntmen to make him look good while he fights off the bad guys.” Even Superman was done in the 1950’s because they could just show a guy jumping out of a window on a set. Making a DC movie isn’t hard.

But Marvel… Marvel’s big draws feature a kid who climbs walls and a guy in a mostly iron suit, and let’s not get started on the Hulk and the “special effects” used to paint a guy green for a few scenes. They aren’t as easy to make, for some reason. Even Captain America’s costume featured rubber ears on the outside of his mask for some reason and well… I hate to tell you this, kids, but Nick Fury was once played by David Hasselhoff. 

So… Marvel sold the rights to a lot of their characters to different studios to keep themselves afloat and to live the dream of one day putting Tobey MacGuire in a Spider-Man Costume. Sony owned some. Fox owned the X-Men. And it was only recently that Marvel started their own studio and said hey… let’s make a bunch of standalone movies, then have them team up, then build ourselves Scrooge McDuck style money bins for us and our mistresses.

That’s why a big frustration for those of us who really love DC Comics Properties has been how the hell we’ve managed to get an Avengers movie… a movie that had to negotiate the use of one of it’s characters because another movie claimed they owned him and shoehorned him into the plot… before a Justice League Movie, which features the slam dunk team of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman.

Hey…. don’t knock the king of the sea. He’s cool again.

This tirade brings us to the roundabout point I’m making about Spider-Man. Spider-Man has been part of a lot of different team-ups over the years. He was an X-Men, briefly. He was a member of the Fantastic Four. And he was an Avenger. So, the large belief was: We managed to get the Hulk on the screen in a halfway decent fashion, why aren’t we getting Spider-Man teamed up with Iron Man?

And it was studio politics. Sony wanted to make it’s Spider-Man movies, and try to team him up with literally anyone before they got him into the Avengers. I’m surprised we didn’t see Spider-Man vs. Taft before we got him on the Avengers. But they relented, and now… now we’re going to see Spider-Man in the comic version of the Civil War, where he famously revealed his identity to the world, thus joining Iron Man against Captain America. These are icons, folks. ICONS. We never thought we’d see together, on the screen, fighting against each other. Or teaming up. It goes both ways with comic books.

So, join me in welcoming Spider-Man home. Join me in the endless possibilities that arise from the fact that Spider-Man can now team up with the Avengers, like he should be doing. Join me, in celebrating this small victory for nerd-dom. 

Now… about Ghost Rider 3….

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