Wednesday, June 16, 2010

June Answers From the Vault part 2

Welcome back to part two of June Answers From the Vault, where we provide another batch of questions and another slew of incisive answers designed to entertain, inform and, most of all, give you a way to waste ten minutes of your workday. And today we have a special theme episode, as all of our movie-related questions have been provided by former Marvel Bullpen stalwart Robert Lettrick. So take a moment to familiarize yourself with our last round of questions and answers (displayed here) and dig in with both grubby hands.

Okay, let's go!

1). Which new characters should Nolan bring in for the third Batman movie and who should play them?

This is a pretty tricky question. I'm tempted to say NKVDemon and Bat Mite, but... no. What makes this a bit more difficult than maybe some other comic book movies is the fact that a) the third movie not only comes on the heels of an indelible performance by heath ledger but also has to deal with a specific setup left by the end of the second movie and b) unlike most other comic book franchises, Nolan has figured out that audiences are familiar enough with the trope now that he can just focus on telling good stories.

A lot of studios still haven't figured this out. They think that audiences need origin stories to convince them that characters this crazy can exist. But we don't because we've had two decades of comic book movies to set things up. We get it. And that means that Nolan doesn't have to waste a bunch of time setting up characters like Joker, he can just drop them into the story and count on the fact that audiences will accept him. And that in turn explains why, almost alone among comic franchises, Nolan's Batman stories can handle multiple villains without being overloaded, as we've seen both with Joker and Two-Face in the second film and Scarecrow and Ra's al Ghul in the first movie.

So, with that said, and considering how the second movie ended -- with Batman taking the fall and becoming outcast -- what I would do for the third movie is show what happens to Gotham without Batman to protect it. Specifically, I'd have the city be the site of a gang war situations where different supervillains are trying to take over. This would allow the use of all sorts of Batman villains without needing to really spotlight, explain or overuse any specific ones, meaning we can get guys like Clayface and Killer Croc and even Penguin, who I have to say I'm not a huge fan of (in terms of movies anyway), among the combatants.

The lead villain, though, has to be Riddler, but I would use the really brilliant setup DC recently used for Ridder's reappearance in Detective Comics over the last couple years, which is to have him appear not as a villain but as a media-hungry detective who provides more competition to Batman that opposition. I'd have him be a shady, secretly villainous but publicly clean media darling who steps into the gap left by Batman's departure to become the next big thing in Gotham, using his skills to take down crime lords like Killer Croc in order to get more accolades and attention from a grateful city that's he's bilking behind everyone's back. While Batman, of course, does the real legwork to save the town and expose Riddler as a fraud.

Now that I've supplied Warner Bros. with a plot (you're welcome), I guess we have to cast the movie. Riddler is a tough one, as he has to have a certain physical appearance to go with a bounty of style and panache along with cunning and intelligence. A lot of online people are pushing for Joseph Gordon-Levitt, which seems hard to fathom since Riddler is supposed to be a grown-ass man. Others are pushing for Johnny Depp, which would be a better choice, if maybe a bit dangerous in terms of putting together a coherent movie. But my choice would probably be David Tenant, who has the brains, the charisma and, I think it's fair to say, a touch of the madcap to boot.

I'd also bring in a real, honest-to-god mature love interest in the person of the incomparable Silver St. Cloud who I guess I would have played by Cate Blanchett; she's maybe not quite as sexy as Silver, but she seems like an adult and that's the really important thing.

2). Why does Nic Cage continuously lobby to taint every super hero movie made with his stink?

Ah, good ol Nic Cage. Actually, I don't blame him for wanting to be in comic book movies, even though I do blame him for sucking in pretty much all of them. Ghost Rider was abysmal and Kick-Ass was a letdown as well. And just think what would have happened if he had been able to get Warner Bros. on board his version of Superman. Yikes.

Still, as I'm sure you know, Cage is without a doubt the highest profile comic book geek in the world. Not only did he name himself after a comic book character (taking the stage name Cage in honor of Luke Cage when he decided to distance himself from the Coppola brand), he also named his son Kal-El after Superman. Now that's dedication. And he also once owned one of the premiere comic collections in the world, including copies of Action Comics #1 and Detective Comics #27, before he was forced to sell his comics due to a robbery. Which is probably for the best, as otherwise they would have been seized by the government during his current bankruptcy woes.

So the answer to your no doubt rhetorical question is that he does this because he loves comics, which I can respect. Why his comic book movies suck so hard, though, I'm not really sure. For his sake -- and ours -- I hope that his next comic book film (which may be, believe it or not, a sequel to Ghost Rider) manages to break the cycle.

3). What are your thoughts on Chris Evans being cast as Captain America? And don't go easy on him because he's from Framingham.

Actually, this may surprise you, but I like it.

For those of you who don't know, Chris Evans is no stranger to comic book movies; in fact, his career no doubt has Nic Cage Hulking out in a jealous rage. Not only did Evans play the Human Torch in both Fantastic Four movies, he also provided voice work for the recent animated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles feature, played Jensen in the adaptaion of the Vertigo Comics title The Losers, and stars as one of the seven evil exes in the upcoming comic flick Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. And that's all before being cast as Captain America for what is likely to be a whole raft of Marvel movies.

So he's got that going for him, which is nice, but nothing in that group suggests for one hot second that he has the chops to play Captain America. So why do I like it? Well, it's because of his role in the almost entirely forgotten 2007 sci-fi thriller Sunshine, which was directed by Slumdog Millionaire honcho Danny Boyle. In that movie, Evans played a no-nonsense soldier named Mace who was selected to lead a desperate expedition to re-ignite the sun before ti went out and destroyed the Earth. I had the pleasure of catching the last half of this movie on TV several months ago and my actual comment during the movie was "boy, they should hire Chris Evans to play Captain America."

Mind you, I couldn't believe I was saying that either considering his portrayal of Human Torch, but apparently the folks at Marvel also saw Sunshine because sure enough, there it is. I understand the skepticism and I still share some of it (specifically, I'm not sure how he will fare when he has to go up against Robert Downey Jr's Tony Stark in Avengers) but I urge you to check out Sunshine, because it's really cool (kind of like Alien without the alien) and because Evans gives a real eye-opening performance in it.

4). Why is the Punisher listed as being in Captain America AND Avengers, according to IMDB?

This is a very good question and the answer is, I don't know. The listings, which have since been removed, first appeared just a couple days before your question and showed a dude by the named of Craig Fairbrass as being in both films. I checked around with my numerous industry contacts, but nobody was quite sure why those listings existed, which probably explains why they were taken down.

Which isn't to say that it's out of the realm of possibility. Unlike X-Men or Fantastic Four, the two Punisher films done by Lionsgate were in conjunction with Marvel Studios, meaning that, like Hulk, it's possible that marvel could include him in their own films depending on the language of the agreement between the two parties. Of course, Captain America takes place in World War II, while Avengers takes place in the present day, which would complicate things. However, we've also seen that Marvel has become pretty good at teasing things at the end of each movie in a weay that leads into the next, so here's my guess on how this could happen: Frank Castle would be introduced into the new film Marvel Universe as an agent of SHIELD, rather than as a run of the mill war veteran. He would then appear in a post-credits sequence in Captain America showing SHIELD working on finding the iceberg Cap is frozen in, which would lead into Avengers where Castle would reprise this role in another iceberg related cameo. Thus we end up with "Punisher" in both films, even if not yet in costume -- a decent way to introduce the concept to a broader audience before springboarding him into a rebooted franchise done by Marvel.

We'll have to wait a while longer to see if that actually happens, though.

Okay, that's it for this round of Answer From the Vault. As always, thanks for your questions and keep reading them there comic, y'all.

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"Framingham"? I had no idea you was a local yokel.

So um how about them Celts?

Didn't realize you hit round two. Good thing I check the Vault often.
Excellent answers, as always. In all seriousness, have you thought about submitting your site to Wizard so they can consider you for freelance articles? Your writing is always thorough, humorous and spot on.
Saw Sunshine, enjoyed it. Enjoyed Evans' performance in Push, as well, even if the movie wasn't great. He does have a very playful quality about him, but since I've always seen Cap as being a bit humorless (especially if he needs to be the straightman against Downey Jr. in the Avengers movies), I'm hoping he can pull off that humble confidence that Cap possesses.
Nic Cage in Ghost Rider II? Ugh. I guess we can at least be thankful that the Superman gig slipped through his fingers.