I'm Just Sayin'…#29
by Greg Manuel on October 1, 2008

Hello and welcome Nexus readers, to this week’s installment of…

First off – those readers who attended the Baltimore ComiCon – in particular the DC or Marvel fan forums – I’d love it if you would please write in with your experiences and impressions. I like to follow the reports from the news sites, but at the same time I also wanna hear from the fans.

One thing I didn’t get a chance to bring up before: COMICS SHOULD BE GOOD has a chat interview posted with AMAZING SPIDER-MAN editor Steve Wacker that was promoted last week by the site as a chance for viewers to write in and ask the editor questions about ONE MORE DAY and BRAND NEW DAY. While I didn’t get to spread the word, I did have a question to send in:

I have not purchased an issue of THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN in over three years. However, I have been following the character through to “Brand New Day,” and while the storylines have been very compelling – J. Jonah Jameson’s heart attack, the DB, the mayoral race, the introduction of Mister Negative, Screwball, Paper Doll and Menace – but it seems like all of these stories could have just as easily been told without “One More Day.” Certainly there could’ve even been a way to save Aunt May’s life, or even resurrect Harry Osborn without involving black magic.

My question: When can readers expect to see an objective explanation for the necessity for “One More Day,” that goes beyond the opinions of any member, or members, of Marvel’s editorial staff?

As you will note from reading the interview, my question was not picked. It’s a bit of a bummer, because I really would’ve liked to know if Wacker (or Tom Brevoort, who later chimed in on this interview) had an answer. But I guess on the other hand, I’m not surprised. I’m also not surprised by some of the comments that follow the transcript, either. A great deal of those who commented on the interview found the Marvel contingent defensive of a controversial creative direction and even condescending towards the very readers and fans that they claim to have rescued Spider-Man for. My favorite has to be from a reader named “Brett,” who said the following:

Funny how Wacker says, “Fans want things to stay like they were whenever they personally liked it best.”

Does this guy actually listen to himself speak?

Make no mistake, the people running the industry today are ‘fans’, ‘fans’ from WAY back. Many of them grew up on a very healthy diet of Unmarried Spider-Man.

Why do many creators SO dislike married Peter Parker?

a) They are fans who want things to stay like they were whenever they personally liked it best –which was unmarried, when THEY were reading Spider-Man.

b) If Spider-Man remains in a non-developing circle, a mandate that states ‘he must never get married’, then essentially, he is staying the same forever, prohibiting growth, change and development. Hence, by never allowing him to marry, those creators are basically stating Parker must remain THE SAME — forever, just as resistant to change as the fans they condemn.

c) Who says the creators running the industry really do know what’s best? Just because someone has a job in a particular industry, doesn’t mean they’re right for that job. And today, the industry is literally INFESTED with people who really, should find another job. Proof of that is in the sales figures and those who claim comics are selling better now than ever show how long they’ve been reading comics when they make that statement. Comics are making more money only because the price is higher. Actual copy sales are the lowest in the entire history of the medium. And for 2008, comics are in a 7 month sales decline. That says a whole lot about what the creators in the industry know, cause they’re running the show.

d) If these creators really did know what was good for the industry, they wouldn’t have such a difficult time attracting new readers. Attracting new readers isn’t as difficult as some make it sound. All you have to do is produce really good material, the rest will take care of itself…If sales aren’t improving, its probably because the material isn’t as good as these creators like to believe it is. Then again, what creator will ever admit, ‘Yeah, my work really does suck.’

So Wacker, just because the creators think something is best, doesn’t mean it is. And those fans you say, the ones who like things to always stay the same? Kettle meet pot, pot meet kettle. But all that aside, I grew up on single Peter Parker for a very long time, I bought the issue he got married in right off the stands and you know what? I liked married Peter Parker better. Why? Because the character wasn’t staying the same anymore.

He changed. And all you creators can’t deal with the fact that he changed. You want him to remain the same, forever.

It seem to you like there’s a lot of out-of-touch-itis going around? I guess it’s just not exclusive to Republicans right now. Thank you for this, Brett. Fight the Power. Keep it up. NO GOOD REASON for ONE MORE DAY!

With that, we get into our topic for this week. As promised, I want to get into some news I found about upcoming comic book film adaptations…two things that struck my interest included a column by NEWSARAMA.com‘s Michael Doran, who makes a pretty interesting case for Will Smith to play the lead in the planned-for-2011 THE FIRST AVENGER: CAPTAIN AMERICA:

Could this work? Wild, Wild West wasn't ALL bad...I mean sure the giant mechanical spider was pretty stupid, but c'mon...Will Smith and Kevin Kline, man!

Doran makes some pretty solid points about Will Smith as a highly marketable summer movie lead, and how nothing specific about the character of Steve Rogers requires that he be Caucasian. Perhaps the iconography of opposites that a black Captain America pitted against the Nazi Red Skull represents, would work just as well, perhaps even better than the irony of Aryanism and fascism being complete and total anathema to a man like Steve Rogers, who could’ve easily been a better icon for the Third Reich than Johann Schmidt ever could’ve. Most interesting – I invite readers to discuss this with me in the comments section, because I gotta keep going to what I really want to get into…

Then there’s the news that Stephen Chow will not only play Kato, but he will direct Seth Rogen’s THE GREEN HORNET.

Oh. HELL. Yeah.

Shoot, I don’t even know what else can be said about this bit of news, save that it’s a huge benefit for Seth Rogen and this film to have a talent like Stephen Chow on board, who is fully capable of bringing Bruce Lee artistry, Jet Li power and Jackie Chan funny to the proverbial table. This is going to go a long way towards giving the film debut of a mystery-man property like the Green Hornet the kind of commercial edge that THE SHADOW and THE PHANTOM could’ve used back in the ’90s. Which isn’t to say I didn’t like either of those two, but I’m just sayin’ is all.

Now, what really piqued my interest on this overall topic comes from the following quote taken from a post dated Sept. 9 from SUPERHEROHYPE.com. It referred to a article from VARIETY, that discusses the future of X-MEN movie spin-offs, and – this is what interested me - taking another shot at DAREDEVIL:

Though Fox has no plans for a major overhaul, the studio has scheduled a strategy meeting to assess the status of its superheroes, a group sorely missed this summer. On the agenda, Fox will mull the possibility of more “X-Men” spinoffs…The studio is even considering reviving the “Daredevil” property.

I would love for Marvel to take another crack at him, but they would do well to learn from the mistakes that hobbled Daredevil in his initial film foray. I’d seen the movie on HBO more than a few times and I wanted to like it, I really did. But the fact of the matter is, several areas suffered greatly, and overall I came away from DAREDEVIL the same way I did the evening of my high school graduation, when I decided to celebrate by going to see BATMAN & ROBIN, which premiered that same day.

SHUDDER.

The difference between those two movies? I actually paid to see BATMAN & ROBIN. Never let it be said Greggie doesn’t learn from his mistakes.

The first huge point I’m going to get into, is the costuming. One of the biggest selling points of any comic book to film adaptation, is the anticipation among the fans to see a favorite character coming off the page and into real life. On that, I think Marvel and the filmmakers really dropped the ball here, and if they want to get it right a second time, it’s important to note: this is Daredevil…

this is NOT.

Simply put - Marvel and FOX Studios blew it big time by changing Daredevil’s suit way too much. The Zorro-styled mask? Fine, I can live with that – it lends to the swashbuckling, dark-rogue nature of the character. Putting the “DD” over the left breast as opposed to centered in the chest? Another stylistic choice that I can’t understand the point of, but whatever. The big thing to me was…putting a leather racing suit on a free-running vigilante who relies on stealth to carry out his obvious death-wish? Uhm, yeah – coulda thought that out more…

A few things that I pick up about Matt Murdock that I believe are essential to his characterization is that he is reckless, he is emotional, he is a lapsed Catholic, he carries the ghost of his father with him at all times, and no matter what he may say or do or even overtly think to the contrary, I don’t get the sense that he believes that he has a whole lot that he considers worth living for. This could have and should have been reflected in his suit.

That’s why he is constantly drawn in the comics with short boots – they’re meant to invoke boxer boots. That links him to his father - prizefighter “Battlin’” Jack Murdock, who he misses very much, and on probably a very subconscious level, wants to be reunited with.

There’s a reason why he dresses in such light gear – it needs to be lightweight so that he can move with optimum speed, whether it’s leaping across rooftops or laying a smackdown on four to six thugs who on any given night, might be stone cold trippin’ on Angel Dust. That means he needs to be able to move fast, and he can’t be wasting kinetic energy pushing a roundhouse kick through a pair of heavy-ass leather pants!

And besides…and here’s the part Matt wouldn’t admit to anybody…maybe one of those crooks might get in a lucky shot, and put him out of his misery.

Probably one of the few parts of the entire film that impressed me came in the first half, like the span of ten or twenty minutes when we are first introduced to Matt Murdock in his sensory deprivation tank before he goes to court, and after our first night with Daredevil, when he returns from meting out justice to the wrongfully acquitted rapist Quesada (the fact that the rapist is named Quesada takes on a whole new irony when you think about what he’s done to Spider-Man. Just sayin’). You see a very miserable young man who needs a concrete box to get a good night’s sleep, pops painkillers like they’re diner mints and yanks teeth out of his head without a second thought.

And throughout the film there are nods to the Catholicism that Frank Miller introduced as a key element to Murdock’s character. Contrast to the Punisher, who very clearly takes precautions for his own safety, because he wants to be around to give the criminal element exactly what he believes they deserve. Why? Because in his mind, only Frank Castle, in his narcissistic zeal, knows what real justice is.

Murdock as Daredevil may consider himself an agent of justice, but he’s also a poster boy for Catholic Guilt; Daredevil is an outward manifestation of that guilt, of everything in him that defies what his Catholic upbringing tells him not to be, the fighter that his father didn’t want him to be; the justice that the law cannot deliver - an outward manifestation of all those dark, sticky things that he probably couldn’t articulate even if he tried. Like the fact that Matt may dodge that bullet, but at the same time, I think he thinks he deserves to be shot at in the first place. So why bother with protective gear, when he ultimately doesn’t care what happens to him?

And furthermore…this is Bullseye…

…and this is NOT.

When DAREDEVIL was first announced, I was very much looking forward to seeing Bullseye in costume. Never mind the fact that Colin Farrell was playing him; I wanted to see that simple black mask with the white target on the forehead. It’s such a simple, perfect design; clean and dynamic. And yet, even after Bullseye first encountered Daredevil, and then told the Kingpin – “I want a costume!” – they still didn’t do it. If I had gone to see this movie in the theatres, I would’ve felt incredibly cheated just on that alone.

I always hear the argument for how poorly some of these comic book costume designs translate into the live-action medium, and frankly, I don’t buy it. The realism argument is a non-argument: you’ve already suspended disbelief by suggesting that radioactivity can give you superhuman powers instead of leukemia, and that one can actually create fire just by staring hard. You can make the costume look right. After all, by that argument, Aquaman should be impossible to pull off…

And Daredevil's outfit couldn't have looked like this...WHY?

And yet, costume designer Caroline Cranstoun won a Leo Award for this kind of work. So, there’s really no excuse – it can be done. Moreover, I don’t doubt for a second that fans would love to see it done. I know I would have.

Next week, I want to talk about casting, which is another area that Marvel Films should seriously look into if they want to try again with DAREDEVIL. So c’mon back then for our next edition of I’m Just Sayin’…



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