Friday, June 20, 2008

Seriously, It's a Comic Book Movie Summer...

What with:

IRON MAN, THE INCREDIBLE HULK, SPEED RACER (started as a manga guys!)


and with teasers for the upcoming AVENGERS movie in the tails of IM and TIH.

(which by the way, is a brilliant marketing move and indicative of the whole Marvel culture. They have cross-promoted their books with guest appearances since their beginnings so why not pick up that motif for the movies? The movie folks don't get it all that well, but the comics fans do -- and they applaud)
And we have a lot more stuff coming like THE SPIRIT,

WHITEOUT, PUNISHER: WAR ZONE, TRAILER PARK OF TERROR (which yours truly contributed to...) and oh yeah,


It's really turning into a comic book year isn't it

But, our man in the thick - Warren Ellis - has this to say about his mission statement with Marvel.

"And then Nick Lowe at Marvel phones up to see if you’ve got anything and you find yourself pitching a grim political post-BATTLESTAR GALACTICA take on Rocket Raccoon. And then he tells you that someone else is already doing Rocket Raccoon, because the situation is just that bloody awful.

This is what I was warning Brian of. I don’t want to see him end up like me. Because I’m sitting outside the pub with Wikipedia loaded on my phone, wondering if there’s a revisionist take in Monark Starstalker and his robot bird…"

So we have to ask - when is it time to realize the mine is played out and you've got nothing left but bedrock? How do you balance being new and fresh (original?) vs. giving the audience what they've come to expect and enjoy?

I think the best term is "surprise" when it comes to describing the balance you strike. You shift perspective to surprise the audience with something new they didn't know about the character, but also about how stories are told. CSI did this rather effectively in one episode where the bodies sat up in the morgue and gave us some clues to their demise. HOUSE threw out all of the regulars and brought in new blood for House to suck on.

You also shift circumstances (see HOUSE above) which gives the characters new "restrictions" on how they deal. Throw The Spider into a small town instead of the big city and he's still going to fight crime like a madman - but he's going to do it differently because he's in a new milieu.

I don't think any character, from the pulps or from the comics or even movies or TV is ever "played out." I think they become encrusted with the familiar and the "tried-and-true" which can render it all stale. The trick then is to recognize the good and hose off the bad.

I like that each of these movies (the ones I have seen anyway) takes what works about each of the characters and gives them a new perspective to keep it from just being a rehash of the comics. When it works - it works really well and inspires.

When it doesn't we get things like INDY 4 ... or the first HULK.

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