Posts Tagged ‘ Luke Cage ’

Diversity in Comics- Why I’m Reading DC Books Again

Simon Baz- The latest Green Lantern

With the introduction of the new Green Lantern of Earth, Simon Baz, DC has blown up its fresh universe by introducing a Muslim-Arab American superhero at the centre of Geoff Johns‘ intricate Green Lantern series. This is not the first time DC has explored characters from different backgrounds, as their New 52 reboot has allowed them to emphasise more diversity, shaking up the previous white male role model and female damsel in distress characters that plagued the genre’s early years.

DC has played a major part of the shift, more so than Marvel I would argue. This year, for instance, Alan Scott was introduced as the first gay Green Lantern in the “Earth 2” title series set in an alternate universe away from the main books. Away from the Green Lantern universe, one of reboot’s most critically acclaimed books, Batwoman, explored Kate Kane’s personal struggles as well as her sexual orientation which has been praised by the general public and the character from the Batman universe has often been described as the highest profile gay character to appear in stories produced by DC Comics.

It’s not a matter of what company is taking the lead in the race to push diversity, it’s which one is doing it to craft intricate stories, and not just force publicity stunts. For instance Marvel featured the first gay wedding to happen in superhero comics this year, as characters Northstar and Kyle Jinadu were married in the pages of Astonishing X-Men #51. While it’s a move in the right direction, choosing two lesser-known characters in one of the smaller X-Men titles could be seen as Marvel playing it too safely. For instance, if the wedding was met with public backlash, Marvel could have easily swept it under the rug.

Where Marvel have faired better in the past, is making their black- American superhero Luke Cage feel like an natural part of their Avengers roster. The Avengers have long been based in New York, so it was fitting they had a hero who represented a more realistic modern-day resident of Harlem. It wasn’t so much of a publicity stunt, more so a natural progression of a character. However with The Avengers movie now the 3rd highest-grossing film of all time, logic dictates the Marvel Comics universe is now built to closely resemble their movies. For the meantime that presumably means, Luke Cage takes a backseat, while Marvel focus on making the public believe their new character Marcus Johnson, is the illegitimate son of Nick Fury, who grows up to look like Samuel L. Jackson and later turns out to be named Nick Fury himself. Forget diversity, it’s just cheap storytelling.

One character I’m really looking forward to see further developed is Cyborg from DC’s main Justice League title. What’s stopped me reading Justice League in the past is that it long felt like it was stuck in the past in terms of characters. Superman, Batman, Aquaman, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern all came from diverse backgrounds for sure, but in terms of appearance, they all resemble typical white superheroes. With the New 52 reboot, writer Geoff Johns added Cyborg, who had previously been mainly featured in the Teen Titans group, to the main Justice League roster. While initially Cyborg’s inclusion seemed as if he primarily existed within the Justice League to act as their teleporter, upcoming plans reveal there’s more to come from Victor Stone.

If there’s one lesson Marvel can take from DC in how to reboot successfully, it’s focus on story and not what’s happening in other media. With no major films to resemble (yet), the DC reboot has been free to create interesting stories for characters from all different backgrounds. There’s still room for improvement, it would be nice to see a female Green Lantern soon, and perhaps some more emphasis on characters like Supergirl. For now though, the New 52 reboot has me reading DC books again.

 

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What More Can We Expect From Marvel Studios? Part 1

Variant cover art for New Avengers #1, by Joe ...

Image via Wikipedia

Next year is make or break for Marvel Studios. The success of the heavily anticipated Avengers film will determine whether or not Marvel open up their character catalogue even further on screen. If the movie flops, we’ll have to get used to seeing Iron Man and Thor sequels for the time being. If the movie succeeds, surely Marvel will fast track some of their other B and C list heroes into movie stardom. With so many characters to chose from, Marvel have a great opportunity to expand their fan base even further.

1) The Winter Soldier

I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again. A movie based on the Winter Soldier could do wonders for Marvel. We haven’t had a dark film from Marvel Studios since the first Iron Man, and a solo outing for Bucky Barnes could be Marvel’s answer to the Bourne films.  Ever since Ed Brubaker brought Bucky back from the dead and turned him into an ex-Soviet killing machine, the Winter Solider has become one of Marvel’s most compelling characters. Plus, with a new solo series set to hit stands next year; the Winter Soldier’s popularity is at an all time high.

2) The New Avengers

The reason for me choosing the New Avengers as a future movie is because I do not think solo films based on characters such as Luke Cage, Spider-Woman and Ms Marvel would be financially successful. Put them in an ensemble feature, and it’s a whole different ball game. The reason for the New Avengers existence in the Marvel cinematic universe could be that Nick Fury requires a team to handle the more down to earth threats of the universe. Due to Sony and Fox holding the cinematic rights to Spider-Man and Wolverine, we wouldn’t see them, however they could surely be replaced with characters such Iron Fist and Doctor Strange.

3) Ant-Man

We know a film based on Hank Pym is in development, currently scheduled for 2014 with Edgar Wright in the director’s chair. Little is known about the film so far, except from that it will be light in tone, which is a shame considering the enormous potential there is to explore Hank’s dark side. If the film is going to maintain a light-hearted tone throughout, it creates a big opportunity to introduce Janet van Dyne aka The Wasp into Marvel’s cinematic universe. With enough character development, we could easily see Ant-Man and Wasp slot into the Avengers 2.

 

So there are my first three picks for future movies from Marvel Studios. There are other characters that could also benefit from a trip to Hollywood, however I would love to see Winter Solider, New Avengers and Ant-Man films first. What characters would you like to see get the big screen treatment? The Falcon, The Vision? As always leave your comments below.

 

Deconstructing: The New Ultimate Spider-Man

Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man

Image via Wikipedia

The death of Ultimate Peter Parker has been one of the most talked about events in comic books recently, but more importantly, Marvel have finally unveiled who will replace the web-slinger, and it’s a half-black, half-Hispanic 13 year old known as Miles Morales. Astonishingly, the news that Ultimate Comics Spider-Man was being replaced reached high profile media outlets such as Fox News, The New York Times and USA Today. It’s great the comic book industry is getting lots of media attention, but is that the only reason behind the push for diversity?

The Marvel Ultimate universe is commonly known as the testing ground for Marvel comics. The Ultimate universe was originally created by writers Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Millar, as a fresh start to attract new readers, without being bogged down by years of continuity. Years later, the Ultimate universe took a dip in quality when writer Jeph Loeb, killed off most of the existing characters in the disaster event known as ‘Ultimatum‘. Since then, the Ultimate universe has suffered in quality, therefore its purpose now seems to be to serve as a testing ground for new ideas.

I consider the decision to put a half-black, half-Hispanic character in the role of Spider-Man as nothing more than a publicity stunt. Yes, it’s good to give attention to the minorities that might feel overlooked in mainstream media, considering the growing diversity in the USA, but there is a far better way to do that then putting established iconic characters as minorities. Two of my favourite Marvel characters are Luke Cage and Sam Wilson (The Falcon), who both represent the African-American/Black minorities. These characters are well-established comic book characters, and are more than capable of headlining their own books. The comic book industry needs more characters like them. Luke Cage did originally appear to represent a very corny, stereotypical view of a black superhero, but Marvel learnt from that and gave him a much-needed new look. Years later, and he finally looks like he has his own movie on the way.

Miles is always going to be known as ‘the other Spider-Man’ who lives in Peter Parker’s shadow. He should have been given his own superhero identity, allowing diversity in comics to finally breakthrough from previous stereotypes (Luke Cage’s original yellow outfit). If Marvel introduced Miles Morales as a brand new character headlining his own series, I’m sure that would of eventually taken off, allowing Marvel to later introduce Miles to the mainstream Marvel Universe.

But that wouldn’t have got them as much media attention, which tells you everything you need to know.

 

 

No More Justice League Movie?

Blackest Night iPhone wallpaper

Comic book movies are at an all time high. Every Marvel Comics character from Luke Cage to Daredevil seems to have their own cinematic franchise, or at least have a movie in development. DC has so far lagged behind Marvel when it comes to making their characters come to life on screen.

Whilst Marvel have been whopping out properties such as Iron Man, Spider-Man, Thor and The X-Men in recent summers, DC have rarely ventured beyond the likes of Superman and Batman. Whilst these two properties usually equal cinematic gold, DC’s lesser-known properties such as Jonah Hex, Swamp Thing and Catwoman have all been met with universal panning. Will DC’s cinematic slump change forever when one of their most popular B-list characters, the Green Lantern, hits cinemas in just two days time?

If early reviews are to go by then The Green Lantern is set to be the summer’s first major blockbuster casualty. Major outlets such as Empire Online, Total Film and Digital Spy have all given the film negative reviews. With major critical panning only two days before release, and only a 31% fresh rating on RottenTomatoes, things aren’t looking good for Hal Jordan and The Corps. What will the repercussions be though if Green Lantern bombs this summer?

1) No More Sequels.

If audiences don’t flock and see a film that cost an estimated $150,000,000 to make, chances are Warner Bros will drop their losses and not risk producing another mega budget box office flop. Especially since Harry Potter is set to break box office records this summer, whilst safe-card properties such as The Dark Knight Rises and Superman: Man of Steel hit screens next year. It will be a great shame if Green Lantern flops, as rumour suggests the film was heavily setting up a sequel, which may now never see the light of day.

2) No DC cinematic universe

Considering how high the budget was for this film, I don’t expect DC to venture into other B-list properties if Green Lantern flops. What also suggests DC might just stick to the likes of Superman and Batman, is the recent cancellation of the Wonder Woman television series. Whilst I’m happy to see more Batman and Superman films, I can’t help but wish for the likes of The Flash, Green Arrow and Aquaman to one day hit cinema screens.

Do you think Green Lantern is doomed? Are you bothered that we may never see The Flash or Wonder Woman in film? Please leave your comments below and let me know what properties you’re hoping to see after Green Lantern.

Franchise Overkill?

Comic Civil War

I was watching a video over at comic book movie recently and it had Chris Evans (The man playing Captain America in this year’s Marvel Studios film Captain America: The First Avenger) talk about his picture deal with Marvel. According to Evans, he has signed a six-picture deal, which means he’ll do three Cap movies and three Avengers flicks.

Now obviously this is dependent on whether the Cap film flops when it is released in July, if it does it could cause a major reshuffle in plans for the Avengers movie. If the Cap movie does relatively well, we are likely to see Chris Evans as Cap at least six times in the next ten to twelve years.

Add that to Iron Man 3 (directed by Shane Black) scheduled for 2013 and at least one Thor sequel; you have the three major players in the Avengers franchise having nine individual movies in 11 years time. I’m all for the Iron Man franchise, as I believe the series will flourish once more now the Avengers is up and running. But Thor and Cap trilogies are pushing it.

A movie based on a character that was invented for American propaganda is unlikely to make it past one outing in my opinion. Even Marvel has realised the Cap franchise is a risky property by changing the name of the film in some European countries. If the movie bombs and Marvel still pushes ahead with Cap sequels, you’re lively to see either two things. One of them being a completely unmotivated, unconvincing Chris Evans probably realising he’s made the biggest mistake of his life, or a new cheaper actor in the role of Steve Rogers. Marvel have shown their not afraid to drop their big names (Ed Norton anyone?), and I wouldn’t be surprised if Evans was next in their line of fire if the Cap movie bombs.

Thor is slightly different however. I think of Thor as very similar to the original Christopher Reeve Superman franchise. Like Reeve, Chris Hemsworth sells the fish of water aspect of his character beautifully, but there’s only so far that can go. The Superman franchise showed us that the humour of being an outsider wears of quickly, and in Superman Return‘s case, actually becomes embarrassing. Plus I don’t think Thor has the strength in characters like Iron Man or Spider-Man. We can’t just have Thor vs. his brother Loki in every solo film (especially since Loki is rumoured to be the villain in the Avengers). But where else could you go with Thor? If I were Marvel I’d hold off Thor sequels and keep the character exclusive to the Avengers franchise, just to keep Thor fresh.

I think Marvel need to be very careful with bombarding comic book movies on audiences. Whilst comic book movies have a much loyal fan base, I doubt many movie goers will be rushing to see rumoured upcoming projects such as The Black Widow, War Machine, Namor: The Sub Mariner, Luke Cage and a Nick Fury/Shield movie.

Marvel should learn from Fox’s mistakes and take time with their movies. Comic book movies are at an all time high, but if you push too many films down the throats of audiences they’re bound to get bored eventually.