Spider-Man: Life After The MCU

The dust still has not settled over the shocking news last week that Spider-Man is leaving the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). So much for making Spider-Man: Far From Home earn over $1 billion to keep Spidey in the MCU! As we all digest this huge turd sandwich and cling on to every nugget of hope that Sony Pictures and Disney/Marvel Studios can still work out a deal, it’s time to face reality and ponder on what happens next for our favorite Wall-crawler in live-action films.

As mentioned in the previous post, actor Tom Holland still is contracted to do one more Spider-Man film and right now plans for that film are going forward from Sony. The film studio has the right to do a Spider-Man film without Disney’s blessing but obviously, cannot have it connect to the successful MCU. Sony may feel they can get along fine without the MCU and it may very well be the case, but it’s a dangerous gamble now. The animosity towards Sony by many fans is well documented with campaigns starting to boycott any Sony Spider-Man or related film. The question is will this anger keep up next year when Morbius and Venom 2 premiere? If both films falter or just earn less than expected in the box office then it can be attributed to fan backlash and can force Sony back to the negotiating table. This may not happen but then again look at Solo: A Star Wars Story and the backlash it received for The Last Jedi.

One no-brainer way to entice Spider-Fans to make Venom 2 a success is to shoehorn in Spider-Man now that Sony has him. One thing the studio has in its favor is that many fans are dying to see Spider-Man meeting Venom and fighting Carnage. Yes, the two characters fought each other in Spider-Man 3, but that version of Venom was poorly received. The Tom Hardy version was a hit with with fans though the film Venom was not as well thought of. If Spider-Man and Tom Holland are forced to appear in Venom 2 do the filmmakers have the skills to make it an organic appearance rather than an obvious cash grab? We’ll see.

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Spider-Man’s Short-Lived Homecoming?

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Spider-Man fans have been in on an emotional rollercoaster in recent days with the increasing hype over the new film Spider-Man: Homecoming and with Sony Pictures’ plans for the Marvel Comics character with their own series of spinoff films. The reaction to the new film’s second trailer has been extremely positive, surpassing that of the initial trailer released last year. On the other side of the coin, the reception to Sony’s plan has been decidedly mixed. But the worst reaction has been to the speculation that Spider-Man will no longer be in the popular Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) following a sequel to Spider-Man: Homecoming. What started the ruckus was a recent interview of Amy Pascal in Comic Book News. As the former head of Sony Pictures and now a producer of the Spider-Man films. She stated the following:

“One of the things that I think is so amazing about this experience is that you don’t have studios deciding to work together to make a film very often. In fact, it may never happen again–after we do the sequel.”

This has given many fans reasons to panic, especially given the recent announcements of Sony continuing to develop Spider-Man spinoff films about Venom and the Black Cat. The reason is due to the film studio’s mishandling of the beloved character. We all remember that The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was a creative disaster, micromanaged to death by Sony who only wanted to use the film to launch other films; none of which have come to fruition. Then there was the public flailing by the studio after The Amazing Spider-Man 2 didn’t perform as well as they hoped. The non-stop announcements of films starring the Sinister Six and even Aunt May (!) made fans cringe. These embarrassing PR releases were only rivaled by Warner Bros/DC’s constant notices about upcoming DC films and who has been cast years before a film has even entered pre-production. Everything came to a head with the hack of Sony in 2014/15, which revealed in emails that the studio wasn’t sure what to do with their superhero franchise. They learned, as other film studios have, that it is not easy to replicate the success of the MCU.

the amazing spider-man

Sensing correctly the disinterest in their spinoffs, the bad feelings from The Amazing Spider-Man 2, overall poor box office from all their films, and the embarrassing emails, Sony decided to cut a deal with Disney/Marvel Studios. The result was a revamped Spider-Man, now played by an actual teenager, and the breakout star of last year’s Captain America: Civil War. Most fans and critics loved the authentic portrayal of the eager and earnest young superhero. Now that he is officially part of the MCU, Spidey could interact with Marvel Comics’ other great superheroes. All seemed well, Spider-Man made a smashing re-introduction, his next solo film was firmly in the MCU, and the trailers were well received, so nothing could go wrong.

Venomous Reception

Sony probably felt that same way when they announced that a Venom film was not only being developed but that it is coming out in October 2018. Before this revelation, Sony scheduled an animated Spider-Man film to feature Miles Morales, and the news was well received since after all it’s just a cartoon. The Venom news, however, was a mixed bag. Those who have clamored for a hard-edged Venom solo film were excited, while others feared another mismanaged superhero film that would dilute Spider-Man. The slipshod way the character was handled in Spider-Man 3 was all the proof the fans needed that Sony would screw up again. Adding to this trepidation was the news that Venom would not be in the MCU and whether or not Spider-Man would even appear.

Perhaps Sony was emboldened by the success of Deadpool and Logan, two films that are not necessarily part of their shared universes and were hits despite being R-rated. They obviously feel they can learn from their mistakes and duplicate this formula. Maybe they can and maybe they will be successful with their announced Black Cat/Silver Sable film. The key has to do with who is hired to make the film. Continue reading

Best Of 2014

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Best Sci-Fi TV Show

Doctor Who got off to a rocky start for the new Doctor played by Peter Capaldi. But the show and the actor quickly found their footing and presented an eclectic and sometimes frenetic mix of the bizarre, silly and loftier themes. What helped where the imaginative scripts and Capaldi’s cutting performance as a more sardonic and mature Doctor, which was a good change of pace for Doctor Who.

Best Horror TV Show:

The Walking Dead continues to be one of the best genre shows on TV. This year saw the aftermath of the fall of the prison that scattered our heroes and introduced memorable characters. At the same time, The Walking Dead kept amping up the stakes with the Terminus cannibals and Grady Hospital storylines. It all ended with a feeling that no one is safe and nothing is secure.

Best Fantasy Show

Game of Thrones is the best produced dragons 2show on TV right now with its topnotch production values, crisp dialogue and scripts, and superior acting. Many episodes stood out which dealt with the deaths of King Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) and Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance), the trial of Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) and the siege of the Wall. The only problem is that the show is now running out of original material since it has almost caught up to George R.R. Martin’s books.

Best Documentary/Reality Show

The Real History of Science Fiction, was a splendid look at film and TV science fiction fare with some nods towards literary works. Each episode of the mini-series was based on a certain theme like robots, time travel and of course space exploration.

"Almost Human" Season 1

Best Cancelled TV Show

Almost Human was a fresh and inventive sci-fi variation of the cop-buddy show thanks to terrific performances by Michael Ealy as an android cop and Karl Urban as his disgruntled human partner. The episodes were straightforward and entertaining as they explored the nature of having a soul and nifty future crimes.

Best Animated Show

Star Wars: The Clone Wars had a fitting final season that aired on Netflix instead of broadcast TV. While current fandom is content to put behind George Lucas’ prequel-based fare and all the attention is on Star Wars Rebels and next year’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the final episodes of Star Wars: The Clone Wars did an excellent job of expanding the Star Wars universe with its explorations of the Force and by providing a segue way to the films.

Best TV Character

tyrionTyrion Lannister in Game of Thrones finally had enough of all the taunts and putdowns and the unjust charges laid on him. His epic courtroom rant in “The Laws of Gods and Men” saw him unleash his fury at those that wronged him including his father and this anger saw its culmination in the final episode of the season where he physically took out his rage on those that hurt him.

Most Missed TV Character

Beth Greene (Emily Kinney) on The Walking Dead was an underused character on the show. For the most part she was just known as the youngest member of the Greene family. But in recent episodes, Beth had matured and become self reliant which culminated in her final episode (and The Walking Dead’s midseason finale) where she was abruptly killed off. The death seemed pointless and enraged fans who were saddened by her death.

carrying beth

Best TV Villain

Slade Wilson (Manu Bennett) at first was slade wilsona trusted partner of Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) while the future Green Arrow was stranded on an island as seen in flashback scenes on Arrow. But in the second season, this former merc proved to be Queen’s most diabolical enemy as he re-entered the superhero’s life and systematically began to take Queen down in a smoldering bid of vengeance. Raising the stakes for Queen was that Wilson was superior in strength and skills and pushed our hero to the edge. Bennett’s performance as Wilson was so memorable that the Batman villain Ra’s al Ghul (Matt Nable) couldn’t compare.

Most Improved TV show

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was a big disappointment when it first premiered in 2013 because of banal scripts and listless characters. However, thanks to Captain America: The Winter Soldier the show truly came into its own by wholeheartedly embracing the game-changing premise from that movie where Hydra had infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D. Characters were killed off or did a complete 180 and the agents became fugitives while they struggled to defeat Hydra that seemed to be everywhere. Plus, the second season saw the show debut what will turn out to be an important component of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) by introducing the Inhumans.

Best Series Finale

being human usBeing Human, it was sad to see this American version of the British cult hit come to an end, but it ended quite well. All the story threads were wrapped up surprisingly well and the finale was bittersweet. A couple of the show’s characters died but had meaningful deaths with rewarding afterlives. Meanwhile, the surviving characters were given a conclusion where they were able to live happily and move on.

Best Sci-Fi Film

Guardians of the Galaxy highlighted a memorable year for sci-fi films. 2014 had some instant classics like Interstellar, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Snowpiercer, but Guardians of the Galaxy stood out over the rest. It was a fun throwback to pulpy space operas not seen since the original Star Wars trilogy. More importantly, the film had very endearing characters like Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) that made audiences care about them as they went about saving the galaxy.

prisoners

Best Horror Film

Oculus stood out among current horror films that rely all too much on cheap and easy jump scares. This film, which starred genre favorites Karen Gillan and Katee Sackhoff, instead used psychological horror and mind games that always kept the audience guessing while delivering authentic and natural frights.

Best Fantasy Film

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIESPeter Jackson concluded his three-part adaptation of the Tolkien classic with wall-to-wall action and his now trademark sweeping scenes of battlefields and armies. Although, The Hobbit trilogy may not have the same punch as The Lord of the Rings films, it was still a memorable viewing experience. And The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies was a fitting conclusion to Jackson’s final sojourn to Middle Earth.

Best Animated Film

THE LEGO MOVIEThe LEGO Movie, this year had some great animated films like How To Train Your Dragon 2 and Big Hero 6. But The LEGO Movie was the best surprise not because of its use of famous characters like Batman or it being a cross of Legos and stop motion animation, but due to its championing of imagination and creativity.

Best Superhero Film

Captain America: The Winter Soldier was a bold, exciting sequel that outshone the original and upturned the MCU with its revelation that S.H.I.E.L.D. the spy organization had been infiltrated by the evil Hydra organization. This, of course, forced our hero to go on the run as he tried to tear down the organization he once fought for while uncovering disturbing conspiracies. But the film also took time to humanize Captain America and reflect on his past. These simple touches are what made the film so memorable.

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Best Superhero on Film

Captain America (Chris Evans) in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, once again demonstrated why he is arguably the greatest hero in the MCU and a true patriot who questioned the Big Brother methods of S.H.I.E.L.D. This in turn led him to be a man truly out of place in society fighting a lonely and dangerous fight as many supposed allies turned against him. More importantly, his heroic actions would unravel the MCU forever.

Best Film Characters

Hands down, Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel) and Rocket Raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper) stole the film Guardians of the Galaxy and were a big cause of that film’s success. Who would’ve imagined a year ago that two unknown CG characters would have so much heart and be so endearing to audiences?

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Best Line in a Film

“I am Groot”

Best Performance Capture

caesarCaesar the ape in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was exceptionally brought to life by Andy Serkis in what is probably his best performance. Many times in the film, one easily forgot that Caesar was not an actual chimp but a performance capture/CG creation. Just give the guy an Oscar already!

Best Film Villain

Koba the ape (performance captured by Toby Kebbel) in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was a hideous, chilling and conniving villain who’s undying hatred for humans brings about a war between the two species. He was the most memorable villains seen in genre films for 2014.

Best Use of 3D & IMAX In a Film

Interstellar showed that director Christopher Nolan is undeniably the master when it comes to filming genre efforts on IMAX. Meanwhile, Guardians of the Galaxy had unexpectedly terrific 3D effects thanks to director James Gunn who utilized the format to its best.

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Best Trailer for an Upcoming Film

Avengers: Age of Ultron, is one of next year’s most anticipated films and the moody trailer for it ratcheted up interest. It gave us the cool effects shots, especially the Hulkbuster Iron Man suit in action, but it didn’t play it safe with its dark forebodings (broken Captain America shield anyone?) and that creepy rendition of “I Got No Strings” from Pinocchio. On a side note the other best teaser trailer has to be for Avengers: Infinity War, Part I & II, which aren’t due until 2018 and 2019!

Biggest Disappointment

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 suffered the same fate as the infamous Spider-Man 3. It had too many villains, characters, subplots and worst of all too much studio interference that mandated that this film be used to launch spinoffs in a clumsy attempt by Sony Pictures to create its own superhero cinematic universe. In the end, this mess has put the Spider-Man film series in doubt, let alone the announced spinoffs.

Best App

Star Wars Scene Maker was an scene makerapp that allowed users to recreate scenes from the iconic original Star Wars. around. Or better it allowed anyone’s creativity to get going by allowing users to mix and match characters, weapons and vehicles and the best fun was seeing these setups come to animated life.

Best Video Game

Mario Kart 8 was a lot of fun to play and proved to be one of the best Mario Kart games ever made. Nintendo made this latest Mario game with incredible graphics, game play and delivering the simple joys that fans of the Mario Kart games have expected over the years.

mario kart

Best Hallmark Ornament: 2014 proved to be a landmark year for genre-related Hallmark ornaments. There were so many great ornaments like the xenomorph from Alien, the shark from Jaws or the flying DeLorean from the Back to the Future films. It was actually hard to pick out the best genre ornament, but in the end the best ornament was the Yoda Peekbuster. What made it stand out was its motion sensor that warned peekers away from gifts placed under the Christmas tree as Yoda admonished his distinct Yodaisms.

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Biggest News Item

In light of the recent calamities like super diseases, incompetent politicians, demagogues, and riots, entertainment genre news couldn’t compare. Still, there were a couple of news item that have had immediate ramifications, especially with the future of the Spider-Man film franchise. Those would have to be the announcements from DC/Warner Bros. and Marvel/Disney of a busy schedule of interrelated superhero films. Both camps’ culminations will include two-part Justice League and Avengers films. These revelation were very exciting and left other studios’ attempts at building their own cinematic universes in the dust.

 

Requiem For A Spider-Man Reboot

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As we all know, the latest buzz going around the ‘net has been about the leaked emails from Sony Pictures and in particular the future of the Spider-Man film franchise. We learned that Sony and Marvel Entertainment came agonizingly close to having Spidey appearing in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War and in other Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) movies. Additionally, the emails it’s clear that the Sony executives were up in arms over where to go forward with the franchise.

TSpidey MCUhe Amazing Spider-Man 2 underperformed (and for good reason!) last summer in theaters and took a vicious beating from critics and fans over its convoluted script and having too many characters. The emails prove that Sony knows something is wrong with the franchise, and also demonstrate how they badly lack any creative solutions. Let’s look at their idea for an Aunt May film which would reveal her secret life. Really? That is one dumb idea. Why not have a kid-friendly film starring Ms. Lyons the dog? Then there was the notion of making an animated comedy film about Spidey. That would go over as well as that Broadway play. Or how about a movie about an unnamed female superhero? Sorry, but other film studios are coming out with high profile superheroines like Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel. Seriously, these kinds of ideas make the planned Sinister Six movie to be a brilliant move!

What’s worse is that The Amazing Spider-Man 2’s reception has cast a doubt on continuing the franchise to the point that the planned Venom movie is all but dead and now the likelihood of a Sinister Six film is in doubt. The fragile nature of these films underscore how much the Spider-Man film franchise is in trouble. Announcement after announcement fail to drum up any interest among fans or worse hostility. The only Marvel property that generates more hostility is next year’s Fantastic Four reboot. Smelling blood in the water, many fans are ripping apart the two recent Spider-Man films and a war cry has started for Sony to sell the film rights back to Marvel. That’s regrettable. The reboot had some good parts and shouldn’t be completely disregarded, especially the first film.

From Highlight To Casualty

What the reboot got correct is that the ????????????????????????films moved away from Sam Raimi’s Silver Age-inspired films that were kind of goofy and a bit dated. The new Peter Parker, played excellently by Andrew Garfield, wasn’t a textbook nerd anymore. He was more of a loner, an outsider, and he seemed more modern. Peter was someone who had trouble connecting with the world around him until that famous spider bite changed his life. And the way Spider-Man was presented was just spot-on perfect. He was brash, wise cracking, nimble and at times it seemed like pages from a comic book were literally put on the silver screen without missing anything. Then there was the near-perfect chemistry between Peter and his love Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone). Some may wonder why Marc Webb, a director known for a romantic comedy – (500) Days of Summer – was picked to direct the rebooted films. Part of that had to be with the success he had with (500) Days of Summer, a genuinely funny and affecting movie that was a chick flick for guys. Webb was able to convey a moving romance between Peter and Gwen and they were the highlights of the rebooted films. However, other parts of the films had severe faults, like cartoony villains and haphazard editing, which is why it’s likely that Webb won’t come back for future Spider-Man films. Continue reading

How To Fix The Spider-Man Movies

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The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has been out in theaters for a month already. It’s made close to $500 million worldwide to date, so it’s a hit film. Yet, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has raked in far less money than the previous Spider-Man movie. Despite all the advertising and marketing, the movie has been largely forgotten in this crowded summer movie season. That’s unbelievable for a Spider-Man movie, usually they’re big hits. Something went wrong with the film, and the fans noticed and word of mouth probably has had a hand in keeping the box office numbers down. It’s sad to say but the franchise, despite being rebooted two years ago, seems tired and talk about sequels and spin-off films get yawns from everyone.

The film had its good points, but on the whole, it was a mess and killed any good will towards the franchise. What can be done? Spider-Man is one of the most popular superheroes around, rivaling Batman himself. The character is still viable, but the filmmakers have gotten away from what made Spidey work. If they want to win back the fans and more importantly for the execs, the big box office numbers, the following things have to be done.

Story First

What sunk The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was its sloppy script. The film was loaded with too many time-filler subplots that don’t go anywhere and needless characters. It reminded me of that equally dumb Spider-Man 3 with all the extra characters who didn’t add anything to the story (looking at you Gwen Stacy) and moronic plot twists (so Sandman accidently killed Uncle Ben).

?????????????????????????????????Does anyone care about Peter Parker’s parents? A few lines of dialogue and one or two scenes could’ve wrapped up that plot thread. Then there was the way they tried to convince us that Peter and Harry Osborn were best buddies even though Harry was never mentioned in the previous film. It was just one of too many plot lines in the crowded movie.

What was worst was that the movie felt like an ad for upcoming spinoffs and sequels and that harmed the narrative flow and pacing of this film. It was like director Marc Webb set up a revolving door on the movie set just to introduce new villains, which leads to the next point.

Improve The Villains

The  film execs clearly didn’t learn the lesson with Spider-Man 3. That film was weighed down with three villains ?????????????????????????????????who didn’t get adequate screen time to develop them. The same thing happened here, but worse. Electro was largely a one-dimensional joke, and reminded me of the Riddler from Batman Forever, only Jim Carrey did a better job of portraying a nutjob than Jamie Foxx. His portrayal of Electro before his accident was so over the top and he didn’t gel with the other people around him. I get they were trying to make him a goofy outcast, but it was too much.

spidey and doc ockSeriously, the last great villain in these films was Doctor Octopus and that was ten years ago. I’m not sure why they can’t come up with a worthy villain for Spider-Man, but jamming in a bunch of them to please toymakers isn’t working. It’s a damn shame because Harry Osborn/Green Goblin was pretty decent in this film thanks to Dane DeHaan’s performance, but his time was limited. If they would’ve dumped Electro, Harry would’ve had the needed screen time for his story. Instead, we get a rushed intro of the Green Goblin popping out in the end and briefly fighting Spider-Man. He’s supposed to be his greatest enemy, why relegate him to an extended cameo? The Green Goblin should be the top villain in these films. In this crowded film, he wasn’t the only character to get shafted.

Get Spider-Man’s Supporting Cast More Involved

???????????????????????????????Aunt May was largely wasted in the new Spider-Man movie and that’s an atrocity. The filmmakers went out and hired Sally Field, an Oscar winner, to portray Peter’s aunt and she just gets lost in this film. The few precious moments she has only point out how she was criminally underused. In the comic books, she was involved in major plot lines. Often, Spider-Man was out risking his neck to save her or worrying about her. This was better shown in the last film where Peter brought home organic eggs in the end after saving the city, it was a quiet moment that illustrated his love and responsibility and it worked.

jjj2But Aunt May isn’t the only neglected member of his supporting cast. Flash Thompson, Peter’s nemesis and Spider-Man’s biggest fan was absent this time around and where the hell is J. Jonah Jameson who brings a different kind of headache to Spider-Man? Our web-swinging hero needs a foil and Jameson filled that role perfectly in Sam Raimi’s films. It seems like the producers and Marc Webb couldn’t figure out who should play the newspaper publisher after J.K. Simmon’s act and gave up. Why not just bring him back? It worked for the James Bond flicks when Judi Dench played M with two different actors portraying the famous spy. Any Spidey film should have Jameson hounding him in the public eye. Continue reading