Marvel News & Views 08.03.04

PRE-EMPTIVE STRIKES:

Yes, I’m going.

We’re all going, I think.

Where are we going?

We’re all going here

Are you coming?

We’d like you to.

Thanks to Ashish for several years of brilliance.

Thanks to Widro, Daron and Ben for letting me on here in the first place.

Thanks to Ross, Andy and Nick for things above and beyond the call of a website.

Thanks to alcohol for making it hard to type.

Thanks to having a whole week to prepare a better column for the debut.

Thanks to Father Time for making this week’s column very, very, very insubstantial.

For something better to read, check out the Top 50. It’s the last major article you’re going to see on 411 as you know it.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Until the next time, the first time, this is the last time…


NEWS & VIEWS:

Numbers & Movies:
Marvel released their second quarter financial results for 2004 last Thursday, and the details can be found here. Now, I am by no means a financial expert but I am assured that their gross profits have increased, even if they have seen a decline in “after-tax earnings due to the exhaustion of its net operating loss carry-forwards.” Ultimately, this led to a 15% decline for Marvel’s shares, which sounds rather nasty. From a layman fanboy perspective, the most interesting thing to note is that the 65 titles released per month in Q2 of 2004 sold an average of 64,000 copies per issue, as opposed to the 50 titles per month in Q2 of 2003 selling an average of 53,800 copies per issue. This basically means that publishing revenues went up 11% to $21.6 million, so don’t expect them to start limiting the Ultimate comics to a strictly monthly schedule anytime soon. Somewhat ominously, Marvel also announced that “retailer exclusives” would be a sales boost in 2005. Does this mean yet more fun with those whacky incentive covers and zany variants? Ye gads, I hope not…

Okay, so now that the boring numbers are out the way, I have some more exciting ones for you. In the same report, Marvel also announced an official list of their feature development plans, which can be found here. Or, indeed, here:

Dimension:
Dr. Strange, development hell

Fox:
Elektra, due for release on 01/15/05
Fantastic Four, due for release on 07/01/05
X-Men 3, due for release on 05/03/06
Silver Surfer, development hell, last script drafted by Andrew Kevin Walker, Vin Diesel linked with lead role

Lion’s Gate:
Man-Thing, may receive direct-to-video release
Avengers, animated feature due for DVD release in spring 2006
Black Widow, slated for 2006 release, written and directed by David Hayter
Punisher 2, development hell, Thomas Jane contracted to sequel and expressing interest in Michael Keaton playing lead villain Jigsaw, DVD sales of the first film will determine status
Iron Fist, Kirk Wong attached to direct, Ray Park attached to lead role

New Line Cinema:
Blade: Trinity, due for release on 12/10/04
Iron Man, slated for release in either November 2005 or summer 2006, script by Alfred Gough & Miles Miller, Tom Cruise expressing interest in lead role

Sony/Columbia:
Luke Cage, slated for release next year, script by Ben Ramsey, directed by John Singleton, Samuel L. Jackson and LL Cool J linked with lead role
Spider-Man 3, due for release on 05/04/07
Ghost Rider, slated for release in summer 2006, script by Shane Salerno, directed by Mark Steven Johnson, Nicholas Cage expressing interest in lead role

Universal:
Namor, slated for release in summer 2006, script by David Self
Hulk 2, development hell, Eric Bana contracted to sequel

Meanwhile, work to get feature adaptations of Ant Man (don’t ask), Black Panther (who cares?), Captain America (the helmet!), Nick Fury (ultimately, one hopes…) and Thor (scripted by Gaiman!) off the ground continues unabated and unsuccessfully.

Eisner Awards 2004
As you’re all no doubt aware by now, this year’s Eisners were recently handed out and, sadly for Marvel, the majority went to several members of the distinguished competition. CBR have the full list of victors, but the only Marvel titles to win were James Sturm & Guy Davis’ Unstable Molecules, which won Best Limited Series, and Todd Klein for Best Lettering, which included his work on 1602.

X-Men 3: Up $h!t Creek, Lacking Paddles
There has been a lot of talk about X-Men 3 over the past week following the announcement that Bryan Singer and his posse were taking over Warner Brothers’ troubled Superman project. The details are available here, but the basic gist is that things are far too vague for anybody’s liking. Marvel wants to do the third X movie, they want everyone back on board (especially Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Sir Ian McKellen, Anna Paquin, James Marsden and Famke Janssen), they want Singer to direct, they want previous screenwriters Dan Harris & Michael Dougherty to work on it, they want, they want, they want… And yet nothing has been confirmed or proven beyond the release date at the above press conference. A source at ILM, the movie effects team, claims that not only is there no script in place but that Singer’s treatment has gone missing and that the actors have as yet not been approached. Another source claims that Harris & Dougherty will work on both Superman and X-Men 3, although it makes no mention of Singer. I find it incredibly hard to believe that Marvel and Fox would let such a successful franchise dissipate before their very eyes, especially as it will only help DC and Warner, their two business rivals. This is not to mention that the ending of X-Men 2 very clearly set up the premise for the third movie, which looked set to be the last before Jackman was to have been granted a solo Wolverine spin-off project. As of right now however, nobody knows a damn thing about what will happen to the franchise other than that it will at least make it to the third movie, regardless of who is driving it forward. Let’s just hope that no matter who ends up helming the project, they have more sense than to get Halle Berry involved in a major role. That’s one thing DC and Warner can keep all to themselves, thank you very much…

Spider-Man 3: Pussycat, Pussycat, I Love You:
This is the strangest bit of speculation that I have seen in a while, but AICN recently ran a piece in which someone claimed to have watched a bad “infotainment” show in the UK that saw Sam Raimi being interviewed. Apparently, he wound up whispering the name of the villain to be used in Spider-Man 3 to the host, who in turn said “Well, how happy am I? There it is, in black and white.”, with the emphasis on Black and White, noticeably upsetting Raimi somewhat. This would have been far more credible had the show in question actually been named. Still, naturally everybody’s minds immediately leapt to the inevitably dumb conclusion of Venom. However, if you think about it for more than five seconds then you might be more inclined to agree with what I have been saying all along about how the Black Cat would be an ideal fit for the final instalment of the trilogy, throwing several potential spanners into the relationship between Peter and Mary Jane, Peter and Harry, Spider-Man and anyone… Sam Raimi agrees with me. He also agrees about Eliza Dushku being ideal for the role, as this interview from February shows…

Meanwhile, as speculation about the biggest movie of 2007 continues to build,, the must-see film of summer 2004 has entered the Top Ten All-Time US Box Office at #10 with a total of $344.3 million, according to Coming Soon. Hollywood Reporter also notes that the movie is responsible for propping up July box office figures to an all-time high, with a 10% increase on July 2003, where the main movies on release were Terminator 3 and Pirates of the Caribbean. As if that wasn’t enough Spider-Man 2 news to be getting on with, the Chicago Sun-Times has a nice online article about the IMAX version that you can check out too. If you get access to the IMAX version at a theatre near you, then I highly encourage you to check it out. I won’t be able to, so you can mock me for it, and really, isn’t that incentive enough? If not, then listen to Gina Trimarco, director of the IMAX theatre at Navy Pier, Chicago, when she says “If people tell me one thing over and over again, it’s ‘wow!’”

Oh yeah, there’s also an interview with Gregory John, senior producer of the stunning Spider-Man 2 video game, over at Silver Bullet. Just scroll down to the bottom.

Elektra: Cameos & Lesbians:
Work on one of Marvel’s B-list movies continues to go on as we approach the January release date of Elektra and, despite having ruled out any chance of doing Daredevil 2, Potato Headed Ben Affleck has hinted at the chance of making a cameo appearance in the spin-off movie, just as Colin Farrell, a.k.a. Bullseye, did a couple of weeks ago. Of course, Affleck is rumoured to be shagging Jennifer Garner and Farrell is rumoured to be shagging anything he sees, so I just hope they all use protection. This news report taking on a dirty slant is in no way connected to the fact that Garner recently talked about a lesbian kiss she has in the movie with this actress. And while you are all conjuring up mental images of that, throw in Elektra’s traditional red costume as well, for it shall be in the film.

Meanwhile, what the hell kind of Elektra story is Mark Millar working on? He’s been asking questions about how she came back from the dead, then threw out an open call for anyone who had a copy of Elektra: Assassin… the mind boggles…


PREVIEWS:

Invaders #1
Mile High is the place to be for your full-issue preview this week, and this time around it is Allan Jacobsen’s debut issue of the returning Invaders series, which sees the original Human Torch, Jim Hammond, lead his old team into action once again for… You know what? I don’t care. There is no point to this series other than to try and convince people to pick up this despite the high cover price. Now that I am tempted by…

Astonishing X-Men #4
Mile High has an interesting sneak peek at Marvel’s premiere title, due for release on the 25th. It gives you a chance to see Cassaday’s excellent pencilling work before anybody even comes near it with the teeniest, tiniest hint of colour. The story sees the team go to the Benetech labs to unravel the hidden secret behind the cure (I’m still convinced this ties in with Colossus and the Legacy Virus somehow, especially since Whedon loves Kitty so and Beast was the one who left said the cure to said virus out in the open for everybody’s favourite dearly departed Russian to reach in his confused state… Plus, it gives us a nice swerve by making Jean the obvious choice… Plus, I’m probably giving Marvel editorial far too much credit… Plus, this should probably not be in brackets anymore…), only to find it guarded by the mysterious Ord. This hints that we will actually get some explanation for Ord’s motivation, the reasons for his connections to Benetech, and how exactly his homeworld is connected to the X-Men.

If you want anymore than that, you’ll either have to pay for it or hop on over to Dotcomics for some Spidey goodness!


RANDOM BITS OF POO:

Michael Chiklis, Jessica Alba and Ioan Gruffudd, a.k.a. Ben Grimm, Sue Storm and Reed Richards, a.k.a. The Thing, Invisible Girl and Mr. Fantastic, were all interviewed about the upcoming move at San Diego the other week, and you can read the transcription here.

Jim Trabold and the Marvel Handbook. You know the score.

Jesse Baker reviews Astonishing X-Men #3 and includes the word vivisection!

Ben Nagy reviews Amazing Spider-Man #510 and is open and willing to trade with you mere mortals!

James Hatton reviews Rogue #1, the poor sod… He also reviews Powerless #2, but steadfastly refused to review Venom vs. Carnage #1, instantly making him Da Man! Unfortunately, he then celebrated his infamy by getting drunk and running over JMS’ pet kitten with a juggernaut or something… Busy week, James!

Jesse Baker reviews Avengers #500 and includes mental images of anal sex with a black guy!

Matt Morrison provides his capsule reviews as always, although I’d have to disagree with him about Army of Darkness: Ashes to Ashes #1, which was a big ol’ bundle of suck in my opinion…

Jim Lemoine has provided one of the best columns I’ve ever seen on this site in Did I Think That Out Loud: Choose Your Own Comic Career. Here’s a hint – Marvel hates me, and all roads lead to JLA


END CREDITS:

This column has been brought to you in conjunction with…

Pearl Jam’s Benaroya Hall, 10.22.03 live album

AOL IM: KingKongBurnside

Iain Burnside is currently drinking