Properties That Could Use The Avengers Treatment

Now speaking for myself (for who else would I speak for) I was most definitely delighted with The Avengers. Now, whether you loved it, hated it or felt indifferently towards it one cannot deny the box office records it shattered. Which gets me to thinking that imitation is the sincerest form of trying to make money in Hollywood; so what entities could benefit from a ‘team up’ mentality, aesthetically at least (as the box office is always a crap shoot)?

1. Turma da Mônica

OK, yes, this is absolutely my list and some of these ideas may not be feasible financially or even of broad appeal to a US audience. However, I am merely selecting properties where there can be a convergence of factions within a fictitious universe. This is a Brazilian comics universe I’ve discussed on occasion and the fact of the matter is there are many separate “Gangs” (as they’re referred to meaning more like Kool and the Gang, rather than biker gangs) that could each have their own films or a mash-up. There’s certainly enough characters and plots it’s about 11 sections and 100+ characters. Which does not include the new adolescent versions of many of the same characters.

2. Looney Tunes

This has been touched upon to an extent both in Roger Rabbit, Space Jam and Back in Action, which I did not see. However, the Looney Tunes ensemble is still right for a feature length film that doesn’t stitch together shorts but rather creates new material and introduces a new audience to these wonderful characters.

3. Disney

This was honestly the first idea that came to mind. Between the parks and the Epic Mickey video games (a new version to come next year) this idea is just sitting there. Disney fans are nothing if not loyal. We, for I speak as one of them, would gladly go to see a new story with old familiar faces in familiar contexts. This is much more in keeping with what will please us rather than uninspired straight-to-video sequels.

4. Walter Lantz

Universal Studios owns all these characters and only recently announced the development of a Woody Woodpecker feature. It’s a great property that should be exploited and while they’re doing that they may as well bring many back to us. Come on, Chilly Willy.

This group makes it on the list over something like Dick Tracy because at least here it seems like the current rights holder is seeking to do something with it.

5. Justice League

The status of this project is in the balance and rumored, however, that’s not to say it’s not a possibility. Chris Nolan’s Batman series is a benchmark. Superman is being re-started. Despite its box office and critical struggles (I liked it) Green Lantern has happened. Getting a few more ducks in a row (Meaning films and attaching cast/director) this could work. Seriously.

6. Animaniacs

I can’t be the only one who misses these guys and would absolutely love to see all the great characters this show created converge in one huge overriding plot. The common thread: everyone is, whether they know it or not, obstructing The Brain’s plot to take over the world.

7. Tiny Toons

This one is going a few years before that but, hey, Elmira is the crossover character! The Tiny Toons I felt were more unceremoniously dumped for The Animaniacs. They are far more legitimate heir to the Looney Tunes than the new Baby version which I can hardly bear to look at in a commercial.

8. Roger Rabbit

I mentioned this in a short film Saturday post but Roger Rabbit has unjustly vanished from the world after being poised to be a huge real life star (better than Goofy?) but it never happened. If it all goes well I’d like Robert Zemeckis to get to do this. In spite of his motion capture struggles this is his project if its a hybrid, I would not object to an all toon version though.

9. Fradim

This could work better as a TV show but it is a Brazilian choice. Essentially, Henfil was one of Brazil’s great cartoonists and his strip was extra-ordinarily political. Creating a feature-length pastiche of his works would be something quite special, not that his universe is as massive as some of these others.

10. Calvin & Hobbes

I could include this in another list soon but clearly your argument against it, aside from the purist’s one, would be: “Calvin and Hobbes isn’t a heavily populated universe, is it?” No, not with people but were there to ever be a film I’d want to to be every bit as varied as Calvin’s imagination meaning Spaceman Spiff, Dinosaurs, Old Fashioned Soap Opera-Looking adults, Aliens and other imagined realities and alter egos of Calvin would be included in the story.

11. The Peanuts

Perhaps no other comic strip was ever as simply philosophical and also got down to the brass tacks of childhood and life better than The Peanuts. Specials like at Christmas, Thanksgiving and Halloween are great but they only truly skim the surface of the series. With the Peanuts gaining new life in a series from Boom Studios and dailies being reprinted by Fantagraphics one would think someone would be able to edit and cull major story-lines that relate, and incorporate as many characters as possible into a tremendous feature.

12. Harvey Comics

Now, there were a few adaptations of Harvey creations both Richie Rich and Casper (the latter being better and sequels not withstanding), however, Harvey comics no longer exist but the characters still exist in the collective consciousness and are getting either re-imagined or re-issued all the time. There are many characters to leverage and crossing over was frequent so it wouldn’t be hard to do if someone thought there was an audience for it.

13. The Fantastic Four

I’ll admit that I have not seen The Fantastic Four films that were attempted and based on what I’ve heard they’re not high on my list. Since my return to comics the First Family has become one of my great loves. Jonathan Hickman’s run, which I am fully up to date on, is truly epic and the kind of story that is conducive to an elevated sensibility that has been applied to superhero films as of late. The characters within the Marvel universe have always been sort of a crossroads so creating an Avengers-like project with them would not be difficult.

14. Asterix & Obelix

Here’s another one where the population isn’t huge but the amount of texts related to the characters is. Essentially this would be a narrative bomb, likely involving time travel or some other fantastical means to travel to a plethora of locations in the ancient world.

15. Histeria!

OK, imagine if you will a world wherein The Animaniacs and Tiny Toons were hits. Got it? OK, that’s where Histeria! will logically come into play. Now, it didn’t have nearly the run as those other Warner projects but I liked this one just as much. Similar, to Asterix in as much as this tales is mostly about history there’d be some way for the characters to go through the ages and also be a bit more dramatized than they were on the show.

16. Archie Comics

Anyone who has been reading the Life with Archie series knows that the Archie Comics are into breaking the mold now (Shameless self-promotion: I’ll discuss that further in an upcoming post). The same incarnations of the characters you grew up with still exist and can be exploited cinematically also, but the more mature mind-bending interpretation is the one with the most potential.

17. Star Comics

OK, here’s another personal pick and one that’s far more likely if Marvel were to ever do shorts. The mash-up angle is that Star was an imprint dedicated mostly to licensed material but it also did include some newly created original characters namely Planet Terry, Wally the Wizard, Top Dog and Royal Roy. Crossing over could easily happen here. To further convince the cynic here’s the Marvel “bridge,” meaning how can we possibly get to Star characters: Reboot The Fantastic Four (Make tons of money), incorporate the Power Pack in a sequel (as they’ve always been connected through Franklin Richards [See, crossroads]) and then get around to Star via Fantastic Four and Power Pack.

18. Hanna-Barbera

We all know that this is a huge universe and also that they had crossovers, many of these are animated simply because the possibility of combining a large number of characters is very exciting

19. Stephen King

Here’s one I saw suggest by John Gholson on his twitter feed. I forget who he suggested but essentially with all of King‘s canon this could work any number of ways. It could be an assemblage of his greatest heroes, or it could also be new heroes and a few villains who survived (names avoided to not spoil). The third possibility is a poor, unfortunate schmuck goes through a horrific tour through King’s Maine, without any need to justify it. Because you don’t need one sometimes as King himself stated in Storm of the Century ‘When his life was ruined, his family killed, his farm destroyed, Job knelt down on the ground and yelled up to the heavens, “Why God? Why me?” and the thundering voice of God answered, “There’s just something about you that pisses me off”.’

20. The Kids in the Hall

I preface this choice by saying I adore Brain Candy, I know I’m in a minority when I say that but I do. However, that’s not to say I wouldn’t love to see a Kids in the Hall film where they play say 995 out of 1000 characters and bring in many of their famous characters. One needs to only see the rendition of a film not unlike Kiss of the Spider Woman that Bruno Puntz Jones (David Foley) and Francesca Fiore (Scott Thompson) do to know how cinematic they can be and how easily they can pull it off.

Hero Whipped: From Film to Comics (Part 1)

Michael Fassbender in X-Men: First Class

This has been a year in films which has been replete, or perhaps over-saturated (depending on your stance), with comic book films. Now for all you fans of semantics (and believe me I am one) I won’t get into the whole “Is that really a genre in and of itself?” discussion as what I am seeking to discuss will be much broader than that one sub-topic. Never the less films based on comics have been plentiful and that is not the only way in which the two art forms have become linked.

In spite of the symbiosis that exists the two industries face very disparate overriding issues at current. While in film one of the many concerns are echoed in the recent statements of Universal Studios chief Ronald Mayer. To be stated succinctly: He said we’ve made a lot of “bad” movies. That statement is rather obvious and questions like what lead you to make project X over project Y and do you plan to change that mechanism any time soon are being largely ignored because we kind of know what that answer is.

Even with a purer decision making process film, like all the arts, is a sort of alchemy wherein the results and impact of a piece can not be guaranteed.

So that’s one of the big bugaboos the film industry is currently contending with, comics has a rather big one also and its underscored by the overwhelming (thus far) success of the New DC Universe, they’ve said don’t call it a reboot so many times they’re starting to sound like a poor excuse for LL Cool J.

While DC has just regained the market share for the first time since 2002 many, more knowledgeable than I, know that the market itself can and needs to grow and initiatives such as this one are what will do it. However, it’s not merely enough to slap a new number on the front of a book and alter the chronology somewhat to appeal to the masses.

I say that speaking as one who in comic book parlance am much closer to being the masses than I am to being an insider.

Due to the fact that I like to think I will be doubted and that I, at times, enjoy explaining things, let me tell you a little story to illustrate my noobness:

I consider myself a comics born again of sorts. It’s been a little more than a year since I started reading them anew and as such I’ve gotten more into them than I ever had before. However, it’s been a little slow. First, I do have many interests that consume time and money that I can’t necessarily dedicate all to comics.

That’s true of most and not that unique. Even avid fans need to prioritize which books to buy at a cost $3-$4 a month each, which to drop, which to trade-wait, etc. I stopped reading before the interwebs really became a part of everyday life. Had I held out I would’ve found more titles of all styles that I like much sooner. However, that was not the case so I’d peg the end of my serious reading round about 1994. Of course, there was the occasional exception but that’s a good a year as any to pick.

Part of the reason was at the time I was getting much more into film and other arts but there was also an intimidation factor with comic books. They were all, in my mind at the time, superhero books. Each book had its own history, a knowledge base was necessary to read one and it was impossible to jump in cold and if you did hard to navigate (I still struggle some there but I digress for now).

Calvin & Hobbes (Universal Press Syndicate)

Whereas a comic strip has a basic premise, some detailed knowledge of the world contained therein was a boon but not essential. They were also there all the time; daily in newspapers. However, I was reaching that age where I knew them all and all but a few fatigued me so they lost some of their luster for a time.

So in comes the hiatus and while being young and not necessarily that well-informed I wasn’t that far off from being right. You needed, and in some case still need, a lot more information going into a comic than you did an episode of a TV series and most definitely a film. There I tenuously linked this back to the point of my whole blog for a sentence, happy?

Anyway, just to give you a sense of where I started I knew there was a DC and Marvel as the two major names. I knew who the characters that pertained to each were. I had no concept of the Universes that each created.

Now before I go on I am not about to belittle the universe concept. I love it. As a long-time Constant Reader of Stephen King I love dovetailing and crossovers. However, the greatness of how King does it is that the intersections in his tales are more like Easter Eggs than vital information. You will be able to comprehend the Dark Tower series even if the revelation that The Man in Black has been referred to as Randall Flagg in other worlds and times means nothing to you. Whereas in comics at times your appreciation rests on the fact that you are familiar with previous Events or continuities or retcons.

That is friggin’ daunting for a newcomer. Putting it another way: I grew up with two very different perceptions of Batman. There was the Adam West Batman and the Michael Keaton Batman. Both I still enjoy for what they are. So I always had an understanding that different interpretations of the same character and/or stories can exist and it’s no big deal. Even with a bad experience with a Batman graphic novel as a kid (The Untold Legend of the Batman) that would seem like one of the perfect crossover titles right? Pick up Batman, get back into comics.

Only it didn’t happen that way. In the end I had to do research. Homework in essence just to find out what the hell was going on with Batman. Batman is one of the handful of origins that almost anyone can tell you. Knowing that there were several titles I figured just get plain old Batman that’s easiest, right? Only then I found that Bruce Wayne wasn’t Batman anymore and Dick Grayson wasn’t Robin. Finding that out after being away for so long, and never being entrenched to begin with, is like learning that two and two aren’t four anymore. It’s like New Math.

But I learned the New Math and now with a grasp of the current “Bat World” I can enjoy and appreciate it, however it took a while to get there.

And here’s where some of the disconnect will lie for the average fan. I did a lot of legwork to be able to pick up the kind of comic I never did in the past. I was literally just reading the occasional review Joey Esposito would post on Crave Online for months before I decided to take advantage of Free Comic Book Day and start reading again.

Granted there are issues with moviegoing these days: price, etiquette and so on but even people who walk into a theatre knowing nothing will have the gist of what they’re watching in a few minutes, no homework necessary. Of course, film can be a very different artform and at times being a blank slate is the best way to watch a film, however, the accessibility that exists in most films is what makes it such a force to be reckoned with and its that accessibility that comics at times struggles with.

I now have read enough that I get and appreciate the nuance and the interconnectivity of certain events and say nine times out of 10 can pick up any issue, of a series I know, and read it no problem. Ah, but there’s the rub again. A series I know. It takes some time to get to know a series.

Power Pack (Marvel)

And that statement while true seems so odd. For me to say “Only if I really know a movie…” usually only applies to writing a paper about it or doing some other kind of in depth analysis. Picking up a random issue shouldn’t be that involved. Since I started reading again two of the series I’ve gotten familiar with are the now defunct (but hopefully born-again someday [wink, wink, nudge, nudge] hey, Marvel this one’s for you) Power Pack and The Fantastic Four. As fate would have it I found Power Pack and many of the single issues stood on their own so I could read them randomly before getting trades and discovering the link they have to The Fantastic Four. Links again a double-edged sword interesting but I may not get both. I’m pondering if I should get the FF/X-Men issues when they trade it.

Yet even reading several issues of both I did do a little web-research to augment my knowledge. A prime example of how precarious the jumping off point would be my most recent trip to my local comic book shop. I decided I’d scour the imminently more affordable bargain bins of back issues. I was able to pick up quite a few such that I decided to search through them A to Z. Certain letters, such as Q will make you wonder what’s even in there besides the one you know, others while not littered with titles will have the one stand out. Take the letter X for example. What comes to mind first? X-Men. I attested in my review of First Class that I love the X-Men and I do. However, that was love that was built in through television and the films. I knew enough follow each of the first three films to know who the characters were on sight and in many cases gauge the casting choices made. However, in the lead up to the release of First Class I picked up an issue of Uncanny X-Men and was lost. Now while that is slightly hyperbolic it’s not far off. I eventually more of less figured the issue out but I was unimpressed and still at a loss for context.

Now do not confuse what I’m saying here with a desire for complete and total synergy. What I’m talking about is complete and total accessibility. I’m talking being able to pick out any back issue and follow along. Granted there are arcs and tie-ins and events but there also has to be some level of a hook that can draw any and all comers in. I have since found out that the X-Men family is going through quite a bit of changes which would be fascinating to examine in a trade but people newer to them than I am would likely be confused. In the end I chose an X-Men issue from a series that was a tie-in to the TV show.

Whether one arc can be read independently from all others is a series-by-series kind of a question but the fact of the matter remains there’s no renumbering in trades. Volume one of a series will collect issues 1 thru X and you can start at the very begging.

On Twitter you see writers and other creators answer questions to fans quite regularly about a “Jumping on point.” Meaning clearly that the person posing the question has yet to read the series but has always been curious to, so he wonders could I start on this issue and figure out what’s going on?