Comic book news from the big screen to the small screen

We’re definitely at a point where the public perception of comic book characters has shifted. For years, people looked down on comic books, thinking them for kids, and mocking or ridiculing adults who enjoy them. That’s changed with the success of comic book movies like the Dark Knight Rises, Iron Man, and Avengers (I’d like to point out that even if comic books were “for kids”, that still wouldn’t excuse shaming an adult for enjoying them; social rules that dictate what adults should or shouldn’t enjoy annoy the piss out of me). That cultural shift has resulted in a growing interest in comic book properties on the part of Hollywood executives.  Here’s some juicy news about several of those properties:

Robin. Starfire. Raven. Changeling. Cyborg. Kid Flash. Wonder Girl. Under the pen of writer Marv Wolfman and artist George Perez, they were the New Teen Titans, one of DC Comics’ most popular titles in the 80s. This era appears to be the source of inspiration for the in-development Titans series on TNT:

Announced back in September, not much has been officially confirmed about the pilot, which follows a group of young superheroes led by Dick Grayson aka Batman’s sidekick Robin, who is fated to become Nightwing. Oscar winner Akiva Goldsman (A Beautiful Mind) penned the pilot with Marc Haimes, and has reported that the titular team will also include Barbara Gordon, Hawk/Hank Hall and Dove/Dawn Granger, Raven/Rachel Roth and the alien princess Starfire.

Asked for a status report on the project, Reilly told TVLine at TNT’s Upfronts luncheon, “Akiva’s been very busy doing some other things,” but it’s his hope that “maybe this summer” they will lock casting and ramp up production.

After all, the small screen hardly has been lacking for comic books-based fare. So there is a concerted effort for TNT to take its time and make this series unique.

“I sat down with Akiva and said — and he ultimately agreed — that the [TV] landscape right now is well-serviced on the superhero front. So what space is this going to inhabit?” Reilly related. “And really what he wants to do is be very true” to the source material.

Written by Tom Kapinos (“Californication”) and directed by Len Wiseman (“Underworld”), the pilot stars Tom Ellis (“Once Upon a Time,” “Doctor Who”) as the Lord of Hell who, bored and unhappy, resigns his throne and abandons his kingdom for Los Angeles. There, he gets his kicks helping the police punish criminals.

I hope he doesn’t assist the cops in brutalizing racial minorities like many of them do in the real world.

Ellis is joined by Lauren German as Det. Chloe Dancer, Rachael Harris as Kim Martin, DB Woodside as Amenadiel, Lesley-Ann Brandt as Maze, Nicholas Gonzalez as Dan and Scarlett Estevez as Trixie.

Here’s the trailer:

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Suicide Squad director David Ayer recently Tweeted an image of the cast of the upcoming movie, minus Jared Leto as the Joker and Viola Davis as Amanda Waller.

For those that aren’t familiar with this DC property, the basic idea is that a government agency (Task Force X) offers freedom to supervillains in exchange for performing dangerous missions for them. Mark your calendars for August 5, 2016 for the release of Suicide Squad.

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Spinning out of Arrow and the Flash comes Legends of Tomorrow, set to debut on the CW as part of their fall 2015 mid-season lineup. Here’s the synopsis for the 13-episode series:

When heroes alone are not enough… the world needs legends. Having seen the future, one he will desperately try to prevent from happening, time-traveling rogue Rip Hunter is tasked with assembling a disparate group of both heroes and villains to confront an unstoppable threat — one in which not only is the planet at stake, but all of time itself. Can this ragtag team defeat an immortal threat unlike anything they have ever known? DC’S LEGENDS OF TOMORROW stars Victor Garber (“The Flash,” “Alias”); Brandon Routh (“Arrow,” “Superman Returns”); Arthur Darvill (“Doctor Who”); Caity Lotz (“Arrow”); Ciarra Renee (“Pippin”); Franz Drameh (“Edge of Tomorrow”); with Dominic Purcell (“The Flash,” “Prison Break”); and Wentworth Miller (“The Flash,” “Prison Break”). Based on the characters from DC Comics, DC’S LEGENDS OF TOMORROW is from Bonanza Productions Inc. in association with Berlanti Productions and Warner Bros. Television, with executive producers Greg Berlanti (“Arrow,” “The Flash,” upcoming “Pan”), Marc Guggenheim (“Arrow,” “Eli Stone,” “Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters”), Andrew Kreisberg (“Arrow,” “The Flash,” “Eli Stone,” “Warehouse 13”) and Sarah Schechter (“Arrow,” “The Flash,” upcoming “Pan”).

And here’s a first-look trailer (they haven’t filmed the pilot episode yet):

Oh, and that immortal threat they’ll be battling? This guy:

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Over at Marvel, or to be more accurate, FOX Studios, we have confirmation of an X-Men spinoff movie, the New Mutants:

20th Century Fox‘s “X-Men” film franchise is expanding — Josh Boone is signed to direct and co-write “The New Mutants,” sharing a title with the Marvel comic that first debuted in 1982.

“We’re so excited to explore this new part of the X-Men universe, and so excited to do it with Josh, who is uniquely suited to tell this story about young characters,” X-Men franchise veteran and “New Mutants” producer Simon Kinberg tells Deadline.

Boone, director of massive 2014 hit “The Fault in Our Stars,” is set to co-write with Knate Gwaltney, who wrote upcoming thriller “Kidnap” (starring X-Men franchise vet Halle Berry) and worked on several “Jackass” productions. Kinberg will produce with Lauren Shuler Donner, who has worked on all of Fox’s X-Men films.

“The New Mutants” looks to be a couple years away, as Boone has been linked to “The Vampire Chronicles” (based on the work of Anne Rice) and “The Stand” (an adaptation of the Stephen King novel). Deadline states he’d been targeted by Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios for the upcoming Spider-Man reboot, though he wasn’t on the reported shortlist of choices that surfaced last week.

No details have yet been released as to which New Mutants the film will feature, though Deadline describes the film as starring “a new crop of mutant characters born with special powers.” The original New Mutants team, introduced by Chris Claremont and Bob McLeodin 1982’s “Marvel Graphic Novel” #4, consisted of Cannonball, Karma, Mirage (Dani Moonstar), Sunspot and Wolfsbane; new, teenaged students at Charles Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters.

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Via Bleeding Cool, here’s an extended trailer for Marvel Studios’ Ant-Man, to be released on July 17:

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Last up is sad but predictable news. Following the release of the untitled Wolverine 3 in 2017, Hugh Jackman says he’s done playing the iconic character:

Oddly enough, the actor who once starred in “The Boy from Oz” on Broadway dropped the news he won’t be reprising his role as the Marvel superhero in future films after the 2017 movie during an appearance on “The Dr. Oz Show” Friday.

“This will be my last one,” the 46-year-old actor said. “It is my last time, I just felt … It felt like it was the right time to do it. And, let’s be honest, 17 years. I never thought in a million years it would last this long. I’m so grateful to the fans and for the opportunity of playing him, and I love it. I kind of have, in my head, what we’re going to do in this last one, and it just feels like this is the perfect way to go out.”

To date, Jackman has played Wolverine in all films constituting the “X-Men” franchise, including two movies that focused only on the titular character with a metal skeleton, razor-sharp claws and a healing factor. According to Entertainment Weekly, Jackman is expected to reprise his role first in “Apocalypse” and then in the third “Wolverine” flick, giving him a total of nine turns as the gruff Canadian since his 2000 debut.

I wonder how FOX Studios will handle this going forward. Given the popularity of Wolverine and the association of Jackman with the character, finding a replacement might be as difficult as replacing Heath Ledger as the Joker (we’ll see how Jared Leto does).

Comic book news from the big screen to the small screen

Comic Book News 12.24.14

Who’s going to be ‘The Wall’?

Viola Davis has been all-but cast as Amanda Waller in the upcoming big-screen adaptation of DC Comics’ Suicide Squad. Along with Oprah Winfrey and Octavia Spencer, the star of How To Get Away With Murder was on the short list of actresses up for the role of Waller.

According to sources, the lovely Viola Davis (How To Get Away With Murder) has bagged the role of major DC Comics villain and Prison Warden Amanda Waller in David Ayer’s upcoming Suicide Squad. In the comics, Amanda Waller is a former congressional aide and government agent often placed in charge of the Suicide Squad, a semi-secret government-run group of former supervillains working in return for amnesty.

Now, the key here is that the role is hers provided that the filmmakers can work out her TV schedule, which will be no small feat considering how big of a hit How To Get Away With Murder is. If it works out she will be joining Jared Leto as the Joker, Will Smith as Deadshot, Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, Tom Hardy as Rick Flag, Jai Courtney as Boomerang (or Captain Boomerang), and Cara Delevingne as Enchantress.

I wrote previously that I really wanted a plus-sized black woman cast in the role bc Waller’s size is an important part of her character (I just had a nightmare flash of the role going to a white woman…shudder). At least it was prior to the 2011 reboot when DC decided to make the Wall slimmer and sexier (which was at odds with the intent of her creator, John Ostrander). Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy that a black woman has been cast in such an important role (remember, Waller is one of the most badass characters in the DC Universe), especially since Hollywood is nowhere near as diverse as it ought to be. But still…

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USA Today has revealed that after 37 years, Jessica Drew will finally receive a costume overhaul (she’s tweaked her costume a little over the years, but nothing significant). Debuting today in the playable mobile game ‘Spider-Man Unlimited’, the new Kris Anka-designed costume will debut in Spider-Woman’s ongoing book in March.

“As much as I’m a fan of spandex and it has its time and place, I felt Jess as a character could move away from that for a good long while,” says Spider-Woman editor Nick Lowe.

And series writer Dennis Hopeless hopes both changes cement her as one of Marvel’s A-list personalities. “You’ve seen her as a superspy and Avenger and soldier. Now let’s see this person as an old-school hero.”

Spider-Woman, Spider-Man and other various Spider-centric characters are currently embroiled in dimension-hopping battles in Marvel’s Spider-Verse crossover, and in a bit of synergy between the publishing and game sides, the expansive story is a part of Spider-Man Unlimited, an “endless runner” game published by Gameloft for iOS, Android and Windows platforms with more than 30 million downloads since its September launch.

Spider-Woman’s appearance also arrives with an in-game event that features her new wardrobe in action for the first time.

Instead of head-to-toe spandex, Jessica Drew’s do-gooder couture now includes a lot more leather, black pants, two-toned gloves and a jacket that goes from streetwear to spider-bedecked superhero gear in just a few snaps.

“As a woman myself who loves games and comics, I love to see that functional, cool stylish look. It’s like a jacket I would want to wear daily,” says Tatiana Nahai, product manager for Gameloft.

“She’s sexy but not in a spandex way — in a modern, unique way.”

There are a few throwbacks to the old costume she first wore in 1977 — the familiar triangles are there as well as large spider-eyes, though now they’re yellow-lens glasses that become a facemask when one click. Spider-Woman also has the same type of web gliders that spread out under her arms — to slow a fall or swoop in on a bad guy — though the new ones are engaged from the back of her jacket.

Since Lowe took over the Spider-Man titles as group editor in February, he says he had been planning a new Spider-Woman solo series — her first was in 1978 and ran 50 issues — and also a more contemporary outfit since “frankly I don’t love the classic one.” (The new design was already well underway when Marvel came under fire in August for a variant Spider-Woman cover by artist Milo Manarathat was deemed too hyper-sexualized by many in the comic community.)

Working with Hopeless and Anka, Lowe wanted a costume that walked the line between superhero-ready and something a woman would wear in the real world. “But for the most part,” he says, “they’re clothes to kick ass in.”

They also make sense for Hopeless’ plans for Jessica Drew in the comic, according to the writer.

In recent years, she’s led a notably insane life, even for a Marvel superhero — Secret Invasion revealed that she’d been replaced for years by a shape-shifting alien Skrull, she’s gone through a number of crazy superspy missions, Infinity threw her and the rest of the Avengers into an intergalactic battle to save Earth, and in Spider-Verse, the character’s been tasked with keeping various newbies safe in the middle of a conflict involving several parallel universes.

However, Hopeless says, “she’s just fed up with it: ‘I have nothing normal and I’m risking my life all the time to do stuff that’s so crazy I can’t even explain it to people.’ “

I’m quickly warming to the new costume (which will see an in-story reason for its debut). Here is Anka’s redesigned Spider-Woman costume:

I like that creators are making an attempt to create unique, functional costumes for comic book characters (as seen in the new designs for DC’s Batgirl and Marvel’s Captain Marvel). I grew up on superheroes. I’ve loved the spandex set all my life, but I have no problem with the idea of redesigning superhero costumes. The idea seems to be to retain the superhero elements while creating a costume that’s practical for a person to wear.  Oh, and boy oh boy is this new Spider-Woman costume perfect for cosplaying (for men and women-this isn’t a gendered costume)! Fan art featuring Jessica Drew’s new costume is sure to be forthcoming, and in fact, has already begun:

Fan art by Jeremy Treece

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 The men of the Justice League express their sexuality

In the comic book world, sexual objectification and sexualization of women is common. It’s a rare day when fictional male characters are sexualized, so it’s noteworthy that DC Comics has produced an alternate Justice League cover featuring the (all-white) guys in a Magic Mike inspired image (apparently DC is releasing a swath of movie inspired cover variants on their March shipping titles).

When progressives talk about how women are sexualized in comics, this is what they’re talking about. On a regular basis, readers are invited to view female characters in a sexual light (the cisgender, heterosexual male gaze), but so rarely are male characters presented in a similar manner.  This is a welcome sight bc it is clearly marketed to women and gay men.  An added plus is that the image presents the heroes in a sexualized manner that makes sense (i.e. the JLAers are stand-ins for the Magic Mike strippers-they’re supposed to be sexualized).

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DC Comics publishes a straight up sexist kids book

Super Heroes Book of Opposites is a kids book aimed at teaching kids about opposites such as right/left, up/down, and over/under.  Important concepts for kids to learn of course.  There’s another lesson the book imparts and it ain’t pretty.

Notice anything?

The male characters are portrayed heroically while feminist icon Wonder Woman is presented in a maternal role…a role that is gender essentialist as all get out. Because obviously there were no other images they could use to show Wonder Woman pushing something. Hell, they could have flipped Superman and Wonder Woman. This is one of the insidious ways that socially approved gender roles are reinforced on children. On his Facebook page, writer Micah Ian Wright expresses his displeasure:

Wonder Woman doing that heroic stuff that the Patriarchy allows female heroes to do. Ever wonder why we’ve never seen a Wonder Woman film? You’re looking at what this company thinks of their own character.

If I’m not mistaken, the art is by José Luis García-López.  The characters look like images DC used back in the 70s and 80s for licensing purposes. There’s nothing wrong with repurposing those images, but it looks like DC didn’t stop to think about what message this sends to kids.

(hat tip Bleeding Cool)

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 Netflix has found their Luke Cage

In a deal with Marvel Comics, Netflix is bringing the Defenders to the small screen in a few years.  Before that however, they will produce four series highlighting the members of this upcoming team. With production on the Daredevil series having begun, the hunt was on to find an actor to portray Luke Cage. Lo and behold, they’ve found one:

Mike Colter will be Luke Cage in Netflix’s upcoming miniseries.
Comic Book News 12.24.14