John Cusack may think that Hollywood’s putting out too many superhero movies lately, and not enough middle-budget fare (such as his film The Raven), but Hollywood and the fans are flocking to yet more adventures featuring individuals who are just a bit beyond mortal men. Tom Hiddleston, who plays Loki in Thor and The Avengers, offers up an eloquent defense to the validity of the genre, and in the meantime, Hollywood is putting the pieces in motion for the next superhero movies to come out after this summer’s The Avengers, The Amazing Spider-Man and The Dark Knight Rises.
A lot of these are just tidbits, which is why I’m not giving them separate posts, and I haven’t seen anything lately on 2013’s Superman movie, Man of Steel. But for fans of the flights-and-tights crowd, there are some interesting little news bits on the futures of the Avengers and X-Men related properties, as well as word on a rather unexpected DC Comics movie project.
First up, a bit of casting news on Iron Man 3: the latest actor to join the film is Guy Pearce, star of the just-released Lockout, who will be playing geneticist Aldrich Killian, in a plot that is expected to concern the spread of a nanotech virus. Ben Kingsley is already on board to play the villain. I’m not sure how well the concept of a superhero fighting against the spread of a virus — even a technological one — will play out in a movie, but I applaud the writers for going in a different direction after Iron Man 2 essentially reprised the first film’s high concept of “men in armored suits beat up on each other.”
On the X-Men side of things, the quasi-sequel to X-Men: Origins: Wolverine, simply titled The Wolverine, finally begins shooting this August, first in Australia, and then moving on to Japan. Say what you will about the varying quality of the X-Men film franchise, but it’s made Hugh Jackman a household name and I suspect we’ll be seeing him in these as long as he can keep making money at it. It’s currently scheduled for a July 2013 release; here’s hoping it turns out to be one of the better entries in the series.
HeyUGuys has an interview with Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige, and Indiewire has a convenient summary. There’s not much news to spill there, but he does mention that Ant-Man (based on a founding member of The Avengers in the comics) is still in the early pre-production stages. (The cynic in me thinks that the hold-up may be trying to figure out how to get the public-at-large interested in a hero-at-small.) He also notes an interesting legal wrinkle with the Marvel characters Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver; as the characters originated in X-Men comics and went on to be prominent Avengers characters, it’s possible the characters could be used for either the X-Men movie series (currently under the control of 20th Century Fox) or future Avengers projects (under Marvel Studios’ own control.) There is also a release date penciled in for a Marvel Studios film on May 16, 2014, with no known film currently attached to it, which is curious.
Finally, there’s one bit of superhero movie news that isn’t coming from Marvel Comics, but their main competitors, DC Comics. Now, I’m eagerly awaiting news on The Flash, or word that they’re going ahead with Green Lantern 2 (hopefully with some tweaking), or that they’ve figured out a way to get Warner Brothers interested in making a movie around Wonder Woman or Aquaman; all of these projects have been in the planning stages for some time, but so far there’s been little noise to indicate they’re going beyond that. But there is a bit of news about a lesser-known DC Comics character. Warner Brothers has tapped Brad Peyton to write and direct a film featuring the character Lobo.
In the very likely event that you don’t know who Lobo is, he’s an outlaw outer space biker thug with the ability to regenerate and little or no morals. Created in the 80s, he was revived in the 1990s as a parody of the 90s anti-hero comics that were popular at the time… and a substantial segment of comic book readers failed to get the joke. The basic Lobo plot involves him acting as a bounty hunter tracking down an intergalactic felon, and then committing even more crimes and acts of violence than the person he’s going after.
Even ignoring that there are literally dozens of DC Comics characters I would like to see in a feature film before Lobo, I really have to wonder how this seems like a good idea to WB executives. If Lobo is true to the character, it’s going to have to be R-rated, and will be very bloody, very violent, and extremely over-the-top… all of which might be a hard sell to a general public who expect their superheroes to be gritty at worst. Contrariwise, if it’s not true to the character, it’ll alienate those fans the character does have, and might still not attract any newcomers. And even putting aside the problems inherent in trying to adapt this character to the big screen, Brad Peyton is an odd choice for the helmsman. His sole feature films were Cats and Dogs 2 and Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, both essentially lighthearted kid fare. I’m not sure how one goes from that to a character who literally once tried to kill Santa Claus.
I’m not saying a feature film about an over-the-top violent parodic superhuman anti-hero can’t be successful… I’m just saying it seems like a chancy venture at best. And with Marvel turning out several successful films for every flop they have, and DC Comics not being able to get anything besides Batman to really take off since the early 1980s, it really seems to me that WB and DC need to step up their game. And I say that as a lifelong fan of DC over Marvel, and someone who did like Green Lantern. Marvel’s putting out a lot of good films (Ghost Rider aside) and doing a great job of building up the excitement for their upcoming projects. DC… has Batman, and hopefully Man of Steel. They need more to show that they still have the best and brightest superheroes, and I don’t think Lobo is going to do the trick.