We’re Back to Basics This Week on the Geek Beat.
That means getting back into last week's geek and genre movie news here at Movies.com, in order to make sure you’re up to date with the latest from some of your favorite franchises and forthcoming genre films. The last 24 hours have been particularly striking for fans of Marvel Studios films, but even from superhero films in general we’ve heard a few surprising tidbits that are definitely worth mentioning.
Without further ado, here are the top three geek articles to be found at Movies.com this past week:
1) Did You Know the Plane Extraction Scene from 'The Dark Knight' Used Real CIA Technology?
2) 'Justice League' Claims a Release Date; See the Fun Trailer for the 'LEGO' Justice League Movie Now
3) First 'Iron Man 3' Poster and New Images Reveal Cool Armor and the Film's Villain
You’ll notice heavy amounts of comics in these picks, but with Skyfall looming and things being mum on the sides of films like RoboCop (outside of its delay) and Star Trek into Darkness, it seems like the big geek news this week is all over comic book adaptations. The first big news, as I’m sure you’ve seen from being on the Internet today, revolves around the third solo outing for the Armored Avenger in Shane Black’s Iron Man 3.
Iron Man Gets “Extremis”
The trailer for the film goes live today, but people tuned to Movies.com that have checked out the number three article at the top of this page already have seen quite a bit of good stuff related to the film.
We got our first major look at Iron Man 3 with the release of the film’s teaser poster, depicting Tony Stark in the middle of his previous suits looking a little disturbed. His expression, to me, seems to be one asking, “What have I become?” This wouldn’t be very surprising given what I’ve heard on the subject matter, with the film being a loose adaptation of a comic book story called “Extremis” that blurred Tony’s lines between man and machine.
The “Extremis” story, written by comics’ sociocultural commentator Warren Ellis with art by the highly talented Adi Granov, dealt with the evolution of Iron Man’s technology becoming less of a suit of armor and more of a cybernetic organism; Tony injects himself with a techno-organic virus that allows him to store his armor in the hollows of his bones and assert it by will. In the comics, it was no longer a bulky piece of machinery, but an armored prosthesis that interfaced directly with Tony’s brain, begging the question that the official synopsis of Iron Man 3 itself asks: does Tony define the suit, or does the suit define Tony?
“Extremis,” in many ways, was the story that redefined Iron Man for the 21st century. As is true with a lot of fiction, sometimes it has the potential to seem automatically dated, especially with a premise beginning in the 1960s and carrying through to modern day. Iron Man has been a character full of reinvention and redesign over his entire lifetime, but “Extremis” took it a step further. It modernized Tony’s origin, invoked some really interesting elements of both fringe science and the biology of machines, and questions of identity when dealing with the direct human interface onto electronic realms.
While the movie will undoubtedly be doing its own work needed to start the larger narrative feeding into sequels for Thor and Captain America as well as the next Avengers film, I’m definitely of the belief that “Extremis” is an excellent place to start and should prove to bring some really interesting concepts to the table for Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark to contend with.
JLA vs. Avengers in 2015?
On the other side of the comic book fence at DC, a report here at Movies.com (via the LA Times) claims that Warner Bros. is now positioning its in-development Justice League film for release in summer 2015, which would conceivably be hot on the heels of Marvel’s Avengers sequel scheduled for May of that same year. In one summer, could we really be seeing both heavyweight superhero teams go head-to-head for box office gold? It’s looking increasingly likely, especially considering Warner Bros. just had a big victory where DC’s flagship character is concerned.
As Deadline reported recently, Warner Bros. won a court case against the family of Joe Shuster, the cocreator of Superman, that had half of the rights to the character at stake. Had Warner lost the case, it would put any future project with the Man of Steel in serious jeopardy, up to and including an ensemble Justice League film. While the Shusters are likely to appeal the decision, this has apparently emboldened the studio to move ahead with a League film on the fast track. While this should generally make any fan of DC Comics rejoice to a degree, there’s always the age-old question of whether or not the timing is right.
I’m quite a big Justice League fan. I’d really like to see a movie teaming DC’s biggest guns together. However, as a big fan of all the characters involved, do I think that a good League film can be cast, shot, edited and perfected in less than three years’ time? The shorter the window to get the details right, the smaller the likelihood is that this will be the case. That doesn’t mean that it is automatically doomed to failure, but looking across the pond at the effort Marvel placed into their cinematic universe, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have my doubts.
On the other hand, what if it worked? Marvel’s great experiment paid off: they set up each of the important characters in their own films before teaming them all up in a massive crescendo that proved to take the world by storm. Was it the individual films that set up that success, or would it have been as successful had Avengers been released first? While to me it’s a little difficult to answer that question, I definitely don’t think the setup films hurt. As far as the Justice League is concerned, where it looks like DC will put their big foot forward with a team-up film to then feed other solo films later, I think the prospects are friendlier to DC’s property than they would have been to Marvel’s in a similar situation.
Before The Avengers, many people knew all about the Justice League. Either through the Super Friends TV show from the 1970s or the harder-edged animated series of the early 2000s, the awareness has generally been higher for DC’s team than it was for Marvel’s prior to this past summer. Will that previous awareness be enough to thrust DC’s team of the “World’s Greatest Heroes” into the ring across from Marvel’s “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes?” Time will tell, but what do you think?
Geek Movies Out This Week
Fans of the Wachowskis are sure to have their eye on theaters this Friday as their collaboration with Tom Tykwer, Cloud Atlas, hits nationwide. The adaptation from the novel by David Mitchell sports an all-star cast with Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving, Susan Sarandon and Hugh Grant all taking part. This will be the Wachowskis' first directorial work since the 2008 flop Speed Racer, and looks to be dealing with multiple storylines across several different eras of history, possibly informed by the concept of reincarnation due to its consistent use of cast. I’m looking forward to it, and will likely be there on opening day!
The big home video release this week is the 30th anniversary edition of Ridley Scott’s sci-fi epic Blade Runner, repackaged for a new year with a new disc of bonus material not included in the set released five years ago when The Ultimate Cut was first shown to us. Other than the new disc and new packaging, it doesn’t look like there’s a whole lot of new material to be offered here, so if you’re a big Blade Runner fan that needs all the new iterations of the film, or if you’ve never owned the film on an HD format before, then you’re probably not going to need this. Although, if you are one of the people I described, this is a movie that truly has to be seen to be believed in high definition. If you don’t own it in HD, you really don’t own it period and should definitely pick it up.
Geek Thing to Buy This Week
Do you have a dog that reminds you of the legendary Wookie Chewbacca from the Star Wars films? Then this week, ThinkGeek got in something you might absolutely need to get: the Chewie Dog Tag. It seems particularly fitting that if you have a dog that is your trusty companion in the stickiest of situations, then you should treat your canine like that most renowned of smuggling partners.
It starts at $7.99 over at ThinkGeek and seems like an awesome addition to the best friend of the hardcore Star Wars fan.
My Pick This Week at the Comic Shop
My pick this week for comic book releases is Captain America (vol. 6) #19, written by Ed Brubaker with art by Steve Epting. This issue marks the end of Brubaker’s truly stellar run with Steve Rogers that began back in November of 2004, with a story arc called The Winter Soldier. I’m sure you’ve noticed that the title to the next film featuring the character is Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which is one of my absolute favorite stories featuring my favorite Marvel character. Brubaker’s run has also taken Steve Rogers through the depths of the epic Civil War story that tore the Marvel Universe in half, and even killed the character back in 2007 to bring a new Cap to the forefront before bringing Steve back to a world that really needs him.
It’ll be very difficult to see Brubaker leave writing the series, as his imagination and grounded sensibilities gave me a great access point to the character of Steve Rogers, and who went to dark places without once compromising the inherent integrity and virtuousness of Captain America himself. The series picks up again with a new #1 issue late next month with a new writer, and Brubaker’s imprint on the character of Steve Rogers will make the next run look like it has to follow Elvis in Vegas at the height of the King’s prime. Now that it has concluded, I’d greatly encourage anyone wanting to give the character a read to start at Brubaker’s Cap. I seriously doubt you’ll be disappointed.
That’s it for this week on the Geek Beat. Be sure to be back here next week when we take a look at what else the world of cinema has in store for us and our kind. Please feel free to leave any comments or impressions below. I enjoy reading any feedback you feel like leaving, so take care of yourself and I’ll talk to you soon.Take care, true believers.
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 regularpieceThe Geek Beat here at Movies.com every Tuesday. Check out his blog, and follow him on Twitter @ChrisClow.