Well comic book heads, it’s starting to look as though KNEE-JERK REACTION THEATRE is going to become a fixture here on…
…because I’ve got a couple more for you this week - first, there’s the news that SPIDER-GIRL is getting cancelled…again. Longtime Spider-scribe, former Marvel EiC and Spider-Girl creator Tom DeFalco writes:
I was informed earlier this week that our last issue will be AMAZING SPIDER-GIRL #30.
On the good news front, there is talk that Spider-Girl will become a regular 16-paged feature in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN FAMILY. (I’ve been told conflicting things about MR & MRS so I don’t know if that feature will continue.)
MY KNEE-JERK REACTION: We’ll see.
If Marvel has any sense, they’ll keep the adventures of Mayday Parker alive in some form or the other. People like this character, and maybe this is what Quesada himself can’t stand, she’s the proof that people want to see Peter grow beyond this web-swinging bachelor period that he has such an obsession for. So they’ll either commit to putting her in with AMAZING SPIDER-MAN FAMILY, or they’ll keep Spider-Girl going in her own comic. You never know – this could in fact be Marvel’s way of promoting Spider-Girl: announce its cancellation, and watch the sales spike!
Annnnd with that, the needle on my Cautious Optimism for Marvel Decisions in 2008 has officially hit “E.”
Then we have the final page from X-MEN: ORIGINAL SIN #1, and you know what – they say a picture’s worth a thousand words, but MY KNEE-JERK REACTION on this one can be summed up in three…
Oh, COME ON!
Even if this hadn’t already been done over in ULTIMATE X-MEN…
…seven years ago…by Mark freakin’ Millar – I don’t know how good of a move this is, or how necessary it is to the story Daniel Way and Mike Carey are putting forth. First of all, it worked in ULTIMATE X-MEN because at this point, the Ultimate Marvel Universe was a clean slate. This was put forth as an element to Ultimate Wolverine’s story at the ground floor, not thirty-three years later.
Hence in this case, things are more than a little tricky. Never mind the question of what this will ultimately add to the Wolverine tapestry - how does this figure into the well-established history that, as it was originally told in GIANT SIZE X-MEN #1…
Professor Xavier essentially poached then-secret agent Wolverine from Canada’s Department H? See the problem? How is this supposed to fit into the established canon? Unless Logan turns right around in Part Two of this story and goes “Psyche! Ha-ha, just checkin’ to see if you remembered how it really happened…bub,” time will have to be taken out to explain this revelation. And it better be good, too - because as it stands, Marvel is suggesting that the Canadian government tried to kill Professor X!
However you wanna slice it, both Way and Carey, along with Ed Brubaker, formerly Joss Whedon and others have been putting in amazing work in the X-Men corner of the Marvel Universe. It disappoints me that, at least in this initial appearance, they seem to be plucking an idea from the Ultimate universe - if only because I find the practice just plain annoying.
In any case, heed well the lesson: Millar ideas are toxic – DO NOT TOUCH. They create more issues than they sell.
And with that, we now return to our main course – the outside possibility that Marvel Films and 20th Century Fox will revive the DAREDEVIL movie franchise. I’d been discussing over the last few weeks, the various missteps taken in their initial foray; in Part One, we discussed the COSTUMING problem. Part Two was devoted to CASTING – and it seems to be unanimous that Matthew Fox would make a straight-up bitchin’ Man Without Fear…
Now we get into the biggest issue with the movie. If this were in its proper place, the impact of the costuming and the casting would not have been anywhere near as powerful as they turned out to be. We are of course talking about STORY.
It can be agreed, as my boy Ryan Brandt established in the comments section of last week’s column, that DAREDEVIL tried to do too much in one film. To quote him directly, in one movie, Marvel/20th Century tried to cover…
…With, as Ryan accurately noted, ”most of this being told via FLASHBACK.” Talk about a full plate! In essence, what you have here is an attempt to cram what could’ve easily been a trilogy into one single film. As a result, just about every one of these plot points came off as half-baked when, if just a few were highlighted in a single, very well made film, the demand from audiences to see more would’ve been guaranteed. I think Jon Favreau noticed that during his time spent portraying “Foggy” Nelson, and took those lessons with him over to IRON MAN territory.
Much like with THE INCREDIBLE HULK, I think the best bet for DAREDEVIL is to start fresh. I’m not a big fan of reboots in general, but I do realize that it can regenerate interest and wash a bad taste out of an audience’s collective mouths and regenerate enthusiasm for a character. Moreover, the ideas I’m going to lay down here require a start over, as I believe that the attempt to cram so much into the 2003 film has rendered it incapable of bearing solid sequels.
We’re going to space this one movie into three as stated above, and I will also be suggesting which comic book stories each film should use as a foundation. Then, with my esteemed writing partner’s permission, I’m going to borrow his bullet points and show you just which plot points should be covered in which film.
Okay – let’s do this.
The first Daredevil movie should be based on DAREDEVIL: THE MAN WITHOUT FEAR.
Here is where you cover the following:
What we should see is an almost proto-Daredevil for most of this film. Matt does his thing in the courtrooms and banters with partner Foggy and office manager/aspiring actress Karen Page during the day. When night falls, he takes to skulking around at night in a nondescript outfit at first. His targets in this first movie are the mobsters that murdered his father. He doesn’t put on the familiar red garb until the second act, when he realizes a larger sense of purpose to his nighttime mission.
Also, in this film, Matt and the Kingpin first become aware of one another, and the latter gives his best assassin Bullseye the task of eliminating the former. Naturally Matt prevails, creating an obsession on the part of Bullseye, the man who “never misses.” Meanwhile, thanks to Daredevil, crime beat veteran Ben Urich gets all the closer to exposing the Kingpin, even while his investigative instincts leave him unable to resist trying to get a peek under the hero’s mask…even as that same hero does that very thing and reveals his biggest secret to Karen Page.
The second DD movie should be based on DAREDEVIL: BORN AGAIN.
And here is where you cover:
You save Elektra for this second film…but you don’t play it as though they’re just meeting for the first time. Instead, you go with the original backstory and give Matt and Elektra a history dating back to their days shared at Columbia University, that will be referenced through some well-placed flashback sequences that outline their heated love affair, Elektra’s dark side and the separate paths the two embarked upon, following the deaths of their fathers. (Matt has to be a young adult when his father dies, because that eliminates the issue of what he was doing during his teen years.)
But this has to be the movie that puts the hero through his paces, a-la THE DARK KNIGHT or THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK and really rock his world. Because before it became a cliche to “reveal Matt’s secret identity and see what happens,” BORN AGAIN was where it happened first. So naturally, this is the one where the Kingpin learns Daredevil’s secret identity.
In this second film, thanks to the help that he’s been getting from Daredevil, Ben Urich is getting even closer to exposing the Kingpin. In response, the crimelord assigns Elektra the job of taking him out. That puts her on a direct collision course with Daredevil who is now actively protecting the reporter, and immediately the two erstwhile lovers recognize each other. Being on opposite sides of the moral code creates a natural conflict, despite their smoldering feelings for each other. This only adds to the strain in Matt’s relationship with Foggy, who is forced to pick up his partner’s slack due to increasing disappearances, and also his relationship with Karen, who has resorted to substance abuse to cope with Matt’s dual life and her own deferred acting dreams. Until fate leads her to a WFSK casting couch, which in turn sets off a chain reaction that suspends Matt’s law license, destroys Foggy’s trust in his best friend, and leaves our Man Without Fear without anybody to lean on.
Bullseye also makes an appearance in this film, and seeking to gain revenge on Daredevil and reassert his place as the Kingpin’s top assassin by killing his archnemesis, and anybody who gets in his way – like Elektra.
All of this is designed to make the conflict between Matt Murdock and Wilson Fisk all the more personal, which propels us into the third DD movie…and here, we’re going to use DAREDEVIL: FALL OF THE KINGPIN.
This concludes our overarcing storylines through the film series, including:
Ben Urich – who at this point has taken on almost a narrator’s role in the movies, telling the story of the war between the Man Without Fear and the Kingpin of Crime - finally drops the bomb on Wilson Fisk’s secrets, as Daredevil dances with his own dark side as he seeks to take everything of importance from the Kingpin’s life with one hand, while trying to reclaim his own with the other. Cut off from his employer as Fisk makes a vain attempt at circling his proverbial wagons, Bullseye goes after Daredevil with the deranged ferocity of a rabid animal…and DD puts him down in just such a fashion. All that’s left is a final confrontation with Fisk himself, and it’s every bit as brutal, as emotional, as ugly as its been built up to be in the previous two films. And really, there is no doubt to the outcome. The hero prevails, and Fisk is led away in cuffs.
With the Kingpin finally defeated, relationships can be repaired. Foggy forgives Matt and becomes a new ally in his war against street crime, and now that we’ve also given Karen Page a bit more to do this time around, we are going to include her redemption as well, as she and Matt come back together in an emotional scene at Elektra’s grave.
And as the light of a new dawn shines over Hell’s Kitchen New York, Ben Urich feverishly types away at his laptop, concluding his gripping series of articles telling the tale of how the notorious Kingpin of Crime was taken down by a mysterious gladiator of justice clad only in red, whose name may never be known…closing the laptop and going out to his fire escape for a smoke, he pauses, tosses away the cigarette and whispers into the brisk air…”go get’em, Matt.”
Whew! That was an ambitious task, now wasn’t it? Feel free to hit me back with any thoughts, agreements and disagreements in our comments section. In the meantime, we’ll be back to our normal regimen of news, reviews, commentary and snark next week. Til then, I’m Greg Manuel and I’m just sayin’, is all…