This week on the Geek Beat, it seems like X is marking the spot.
There are two big pieces of X-Men movie news that have me surprised and a little concerned, but I definitely think they’re worth talking about. To add a little more context, here are the top three geek articles at Movies.com over the past week:
1) Check Out These Fantastic Images of the New 'RoboCop'
2) 'The Wolverine' Is Not a Prequel; New Image Shows Off Wolvy's Crazy Bone Claws
3) Matthew Vaughn Drops 'X-Men: Days of Future Past;' Bryan Singer Taking Over?
So first off, let’s take a look at the X-Men and comics related news to spring up the past week in the first section of this week’s Geek Beat.
The Comics Corner
The Wolverine to Be a Sequel, Taking Place After The Last Stand
As Erik Davis posted in the number two article on that list, James Mangold’s The Wolverine is not a prequel as most people initially thought. Instead it’s going to be the latest chronological offering in Fox’s X-Men film franchise, taking place after the events of 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand. If you recall in that film (which, for the record, I won’t hold it against you if you’ve pushed it out of your mind), the mutant population was given the promise of a cure, many characters were either killed or de-powered, and the film franchise, from my perspective for any future films, was basically neutered. Three of the most basic and major characters to the world of the X-Men in both comics and films (those being the good Professor, Cyclops and Jean Grey) were killed or appeared to have been killed, and it seemed like the cinematic concept was decimated after Brett Ratner was through.
I don’t think I’m the only one who’s not particularly fond of The Last Stand. It garners a 57% aggregate rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and last year the studio felt they had to go back, not forward, in the timeline with X-Men: First Class. That doesn’t exactly scream “confidence in a sequel prospect” to me. However, having said that, the character that came out the least scathed from the events of The Last Stand was definitely Wolverine. Even if the events of that film weren’t really “good,” they have probably put Logan in an interesting mindset when we pick up with him in Japan. Where’s his head at after the death of Professor X? How has he recovered from killing the woman he loved? What does the decimation of the X-Men mean for Logan? I’d be lying if I said I didn’t care about what his story is now that he is forced to be on his own. This factor about the story’s chronology does very little to change my overall confidence in the film itself. If anything, the events of The Last Stand could prove interesting little anecdotes for the character of Wolverine to deal with, but admittedly it’s unlikely they’ll play a huge role in where we see Logan go over the course of his next solo outing. What do you make of The Wolverine picking up after the events of The Last Stand?
Vaughn Out of Days of Future Past
Which brings us to some interesting news from behind the camera for X-Men: Days of Future Past, since Matthew Vaughn recently announced he will not be sitting in the director’s chair when that film bows to audiences in a couple years’ time. This is a surprising creative shift since First Class was critically and commercially successful, and he was largely considered to be a lock for returning to the sequel. There seems to be buzz that Bryan Singer, originator of the X-Men film franchise for Fox in 2000 and the catalyzing force for the modern superhero film, will be stepping back into the job and putting Days of Future Past into production. So, that begs the question: would Singer’s return to the franchise be a good thing?
I have to be honest, as a self-professed comic book nerd with a very strong desire to see the stories and characters I love represented in as best a way as possible, Singer returning to this kind of prominence in a comic book film doesn’t exactly get me very excited. And, for the record, I am NOT a Bryan Singer hater by any stretch of the imagination. The Usual Suspects is one of my favorite films. I liked X-Men a lot, and absolutely loved X2: X-Men United. I even enjoyed Superman Returns more than a lot of other people seem to. I know Singer is a savvy businessman, and sees a great opportunity to make a lot of money with another X-Men film if he is in fact thinking of getting back in the director’s chair.
My confidence in his fidelity to the comics, though, is not very high. Even though I enjoyed Superman Returns, I agree with many criticisms saying that that film did not bring the modern incarnation of Superman that people need to see to the forefront. The character in Superman Returns did what modern Superman stories should not, and that is operate off of a 30-40 year old premise for the character, without the modern traits that have allowed new comics audiences to connect with him. Beyond this, though, there was an incident related to X-Men: First Class early last year related to the writing credit Singer received that made me a little… peeved at Singer and his purported “love” of the source material for these films.
As was detailed by The Hollywood Reporter in April of 2011, Singer challenged a decision by the Writers Guild of America that saw him have to share a “story by” credit with a writer named Sheldon Turner. My problem isn’t with his challenge to Turner, who never officially worked on the film, but in Singer’s frustrated comments about the source of the First Class story. He said, “The story I created came from myself and the [X-Men] comic books.” Immediately after hearing that from a friend, my BS-meter went off. I respect that many people greatly admire First Class, but I was personally not one of those people. I was expecting to see a movie about the true origin of the X-Men as I understood it as a comic book fan, and the story of the film was so far outside of the true “first class” of the X-Men that I found it very, very difficult to find much to like. Vaughn is a skilled director and Michael Fassbender was extraordinary, but the construction of the story seemed very inconsistent to me, it played a little too fast and loose with established American history, and it was not indicative of the classic early X-Men stories of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. So, when I hear Singer say that his story came from “the comic books,” I know that’s just not true.
Will his fidelity to the source, especially in re-creating a classic X-Men story, be greater? Is his return to the franchise a good thing? Tell me what you think, because I think I might need some of you to talk me down.
The Winter Soldier Gets Maria Hill, Crossbones
Now, on the side of films I really am looking forward to, the return of the Star-Spangled Avenger to the silver screen in Captain America: The Winter Soldier just got a little more populated. As previously reported by Movies.com, actor Frank Grillo will be playing the villain Crossbones, a ruthless murderer who played an important part in the original Winter Soldier comics story by writer Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting. As was also reported over on Fandango, the beautiful Cobie Smulders will be reprising her role as S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Maria Hill from The Avengers in the Cap sequel. She’ll be alongside fellow operative Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow (played by Scarlet Johansson) in a film that looks to be very heavy on the Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement and Logistics Division.
This sounds accurate to the source, as Captain America would likely be relying on the agency in the immediate aftermath of his reawakening. I’m still very excited to just see this story adapted, since it’s definitely one of my favorites.
The Sci-Fi Sector
New RoboCop Images
We reported our first high-resolution, close-up looks at the new RoboCop yesterday, and I have to say that the images look pretty solid to me. It was hard to make much of the detail in the first far-off images we were able to take a look at, but I think the new look of Officer Murphy is growing on me. The images, courtesy of JustJared.com, depict RoboCop on a futuristic police motorcycle and show us the detail put into the new costume. Check out MDC’s initial report here, and be sure to follow the link back to JustJared to check out the initial report.
“Save the Bridge!” Movement to Re-create the Enterprise-D Set
Imagine you’re a huge Superman fan in Los Angeles, driving past the Warner Bros. lot and seeing Christopher Reeve’s original cape from 1978 in a dumpster. Imagine you’re a huge Star Wars fan driving past Lucasfilm seeing the cockpit to the Millenium Falcon in disrepair. You’d probably feel compelled to do something about that, right? Well, that’s exactly what an enormous Star Trek fan is doing in attempting to bring the bridge of the USS Enterprise-D, the primary location of Star Trek: The Next Generation, back to its former glory.
As the head of the project explains, no, this is not the original set. As most Trek fans are aware, a few years ago the incredible Star Trek: The Experience closed its doors at the Las Vegas Hilton and auctioned off much of the memorabilia and set re-creations contained within it. The Experience delivered exactly what it promises in its name, as it allowed fans to actually board the Enterprise-D in an adventure to restore the timeline and bring Captain Picard back from the obscurity of non-existence.
When it closed, a fan named Huston Huddleston purchased all of the components of the Experience’s re-creation of the bridge set built in 1998, which itself was overseen by Trek veteran production designer Herman Zimmerman and Trek guru Michael Okuda. Huddleston’s goals go far beyond the typical reconstruction, however. See the video below for details:
For full details on how you can support the project (which I heartily encourage), check out NewStarship.com, like the project on Facebook, and follow it on Twitter. It looks like a great goal with a lot of interesting possibilities, and it’s something that Trek fans from all over can make happen.
My Pick This Week at the Comic Shop
This week my pick is the next adventure of the Man of Steel in DC’s Action Comics Annual #1. While this isn’t a part of the regular series where Grant Morrison is writing the main feature, writer Sholly Fisch is stepping up here. He’s the writer behind the truly stellar backup stories in the main issues of the Action Comics title, so I have a feeling I’m going to thoroughly enjoy what he has to say in this issue.
For the backup story in this issue, the writing is handled by none other than Max Landis. Landis garnered some heat from Superman fans earlier this year when he and his friends created a video chronicling the Death of Superman comics story from the early 1990s in a partially derogatory fashion. Although, Landis also had his film Chronicle come out to very high critical acclaim. As someone who enjoyed the Death of Superman video more than he was angered by it, I’m really interested to see what Landis can bring to the comic book medium, especially considering his artist is the fantastic Ryan Sook. Look for the issue in your local comic shop this Wednesday, which also happens to be Halloween!
That’s going to do it this week for the Geek Beat, thank you so much for stopping by and giving it a read. If you have any outbursts or feelings about anything discussed here, feel free to leave a comment below and join the conversation. Thanks as always for your support, and we’ll see you right back here next week!
Chris Clow is a recent Western Washington University graduate, film history fan, and comic book expert and retailer, contributor and overall geek to Batman-On-Film.com and ModernMythMedia.com. You can find his comic book reviews for various monthly titles and his participated podcasts at BOF and MMM. You can find his regular piece The Geek Beat here at Movies.com every Tuesday. Check out his blog, and follow him on Twitter @ChrisClow.