We've spent the last month or so talking about Loki's magnificence, holiday gifts and why I'm thankful for Michael Fassbender here on the Geek Beat, but lo and behold, the news machine has continued churning out some big stories while we've been busy with our weekly geek-out sessions.
From wild announcements about Spider-Man's big-screen future to the latest Disney acquisition that has everyone buzzing, it's been an eventful time for anyone whose interests fall on the nerdier side of cinema. Of course, more fuel for the fanboy (and fangirl) fire is always good for discussion, but when it comes to some of the recent headlines, my reactions involve more question marks than exclamation points.
Here are some of the big questions that have been bugging me lately:
Welcome to... the Spider-verse?
There's been no shortage of debate regarding Sony's plans to produce spin-off films from the Amazing Spider-Man franchise that feature Venom and the Sinister Six, and even though I'm usually a supporter of all things Spidey, I can't help wondering if Peter Parker's alter ego is powerful enough to carry an entire cinematic universe on his shoulders. Sure, he has a great rogues gallery and supporting cast, but so far we've only seen this sort of grand experiment pulled off with an entire team of superheroes as the narrative web connecting the films – and never with a villain (or villains) as the primary characters. Still, if anyone can pull it off, it's Marvel's friendly neighborhood wall crawler.
When Does the Craziest Crossover Idea Stop Being Crazy?
When Disney acquired Marvel back in 2009, we all joked about the possibility of a crossover featuring Goofy and the rest of Mickey Mouse's pals encountering Wolverine and the Avengers. Then Disney brought the Star Wars universe under its banner, and naturally, we joked about Han Solo, Captain America and Captain Jack Sparrow teaming up in some weird, alternate-universe adventure. Now Indiana Jones has joined the Disney bandwagon, and, well... at some point a cross-franchise mingling becomes inevitable, right? I mean, once you own everything, there's no avoiding it.
All jokes aside, though, the best indication of what the future holds may be found in the way Disney handles its new Disney Infinity video game, which already features Jack Sparrow and other characters from Pirates of the Caribbean battling bad guys alongside The Incredibles cast and other Disney properties. In fact, Infinity would appear to be the perfect testing ground for bringing Yoda, Indiana Jones and Iron Man into a shared universe. But are we ready for that?
So What About That Doctor Who Movie?
A while back, I argued that this is the perfect time to move forward with a feature-length Doctor Who movie, given everything that's currently happening in the series' narrative arc and the “perfect storm” of both longtime fans' support and mainstream popularity of the time- and space-traveling hero. Of course, neither of these elements guaranteed box office success, and some readers (and commenters) were quick to indicate that the Doctor's success on television hasn't shown any indication thus far of translating to the big screen.
All of that happened prior to the premiere of Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor, the feature-length, 50th anniversary special that aired in November and broke all sorts of network records on both sides of the ocean. But the real surprise is this: The Day of the Doctor also produced some impressive numbers on the big screen, too. The special – which featured multiple incarnations of the Doctor teaming up on a wild, cosmic adventure – was screened in 660 theaters and earned a whopping $4.8 million in a special, one-night-only event. That's a not-too-shabby average of $7,155 per theater – good enough to make it second highest grossing movie in the U.S. for the night (right behind The Hunger Games: Catching Fire) and giving it a higher gross in one night than some films have made in their entire run. It's also worth noting that these screenings happened two days after the initial, worldwide broadcast of the special – offering a some hard evidence of the series' repeat-viewing appeal.
Given all of that, the case for the Doctor making the jump to the big screen would appear to be in better shape than it's ever been, so I ask again: what about that Doctor Who movie?
Where's the Sense of Wonder?
People can argue all they want (and they will) about the casting of Fast & Furious 6 actress Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman in the upcoming Man of Steel sequel, but whether she's a good fit for the role isn't the question that matters most when it comes to DC's favorite Amazon. With high-profile actor Ben Affleck already announced as Batman and all indications that the plot will center on a conflict between Batman and Superman (Henry Cavill), one can't help wondering where Wonder Woman fits in the mix. Will her role be substantial enough to spin off into the solo adventure her fans have been begging for, or will she simply be a supporting character in the Dark Knight's tussle with the Man of Steel? What's a fan of Wonder Woman to think about her addition to a film everyone's been calling Batman vs. Superman for a while now?
Mother, Should I Trust the Continuity?
It's easy to imagine Sony, Fox and Warner Bros. grinding their collective teeth and shaking a fist at the sky whenever the subject of Marvel's movie-verse comes up. When it comes to creating an integrated universe for their superheroes across big-screen, television, comics and video game projects, Marvel has quickly become the gold standard for cross-platform synergy while also making the dissonant elements in other superhero-themed projects that much more conspicuous. The recent reveal of Paul Giamatti's armored Rhino suit in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 offered a good example of this dissonance, as it differed greatly from the version of the character in the official video game based on The Amazing Spider-Man, which supposedly unfolded within the continuity of the big-screen franchise's universe. This might seem like a trivial matter to the casual fan, but when contrasted with Marvel's impressive synergy with its other properties, it makes the webslinger's multimedia presence feel a bit disjointed.
Similarly, the disconnect between the television series Arrow, which has introduced a long list of DC characters into its cast (including Flash, the subject of some recent, live-action movie rumors), and the universe of Man of Steel, which will likely have its own versions of the same characters, is that much more obvious now that we've seen Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. television series successfully play in the same shared universe as Marvel's movies.
Of course, this could all be leading up to a massive “Crisis on Infinite Screens” event that unifies the DC universe by weaving all these continuities together... but I'm not betting on it.
Question of the Week: What are your biggest questions about next year's movies?
Rick Marshall is an award-winning writer and editor whose work can be found at Movies.com, as well as MTV News, Fandango, Digital Trends, IFC.com, Newsarama, and various other online, print, and on-air news outlets. He's been called a “Professional Geek” by ABC News and Spike TV, and is still not quite sure how he ended up writing (and talking) about comics, video games, and movies for a living. His personal blog can be found at MindPollution.org, and you can find him on Twitter as @RickMarshall.
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