Sunday, March 07, 2010

Movies I doubt they're going to make.

Production Hell.

Two words that seem to be associated with all of the movies I desperately want to see Hollywood get off their retarded buts and make.  For whatever reason the comic book movies that are being made are typically the b-grade ones and the front-line, A-list super-hero ones.  What about the front-line, A-list ones that don't fit into the target demographic that Hollywood so wrongly thinks it understands?  Where will our next 300 or Watchmen come from?  And will they have the stones to actually get it right, unlike the abysmal failure of V For Vendetta?

These days when you troll through the updates over at the revamped (and I can't say I like the new format) Comic Book Movies, you'll see all kinds of news that you can get geeked about.  Thor is coming.  If they allow the script to be written by an even half-way decent person who understand who Thor is and what the magic is that makes him such an exceptional comic figure, it's going to be terrific.  Spider-Man is being reset.  Will the new wave of his films be able to surpass the Toby Maguire era? Fantastic Four is coming back, with promises to completely overhaul it.  Can they finally get it right and introduce us to the world's greatest family the right way? How will Warner Brothers follow The Dark Knight?  Do they have the stones to actually do The Dark Knight Returns (No!) and shock the world with its visionary understanding of the end game for Bruce Wayne? Can Green Lantern deliver on the hype, and can they make Ryan Reynolds believable as Hal Jordan (my guess is no.) Most importantly.....when will we see The Flash?

These are the questions that we can bat around and ultimately find answers for, because these are the movies that Hollywood around going to make sooner than later.  Today though, I think we should throw around the names of the best stories we know they're never going to make (or in some cases they're never going to make WELL.)

I'm going straight to the top of the list for this one, because it's been rumored for so long, and has had so many names attached to it.  The movie always seems to be in some kind of production hell, and really, how do you do this thing unless you're prepared to make at least 4 movies? From way back when James Marsden signed on to play Custer, right through conversation suggesting that it may turn out to be an HBO series instead of a movie, we have been sitting on pins and needles waiting for this one to finally come along.  Sadly, I think we may end up waiting forever.

Alpha Flight
Yes, I said Alpha Flight.  With all due respect to my American readers, I'm more than a little bit tired of Hollywood's assumption that super-hero movies where the main character/main story aren't American at heart will lead to failure.  I was annoyed when they turned John Constantine into an American and stole the charm of the British occultist from the silver screen, only to replace him with a pale imitation played by Neo. Why do I think Alpha Flight, Canada's super-team can make a great big-screen movie when the book is constantly getting canceled? Well to start with, there is that guy who sells more than any hero you can think of, who happened to be on the very first incarnation of Alpha Flight.  What was his name?  Oh yeah, Wolverine. Add to that Puck (a bad-ass dwarf in the movie?  Who doesn't want to see that?) and Shaman and the rest of the ensemble heroes and you have a visually incredible story with less histrionics than you get in an X-Men movie and more creative freedom for the script writers.  Dead in the water because nobody understands how great this could be.

Simple, the concept is too big. Nobody will know what story to tell, and nobody will have the stones to go after it. I think the best bet for this is an HBO show not unlike the Twilight Zone, with independent episodes held together by the common theme of Morpheus.  If you had to do the movie, which story would you tell? How do you choose? The Doll's House? A Season of Mists? Dream Country? Doesn't matter, because you'll never see this one made, and if you do, it won't be done well.  Hollywood doesn't understand comics that are smart, which explains why they didn't think 300 would be big.

Batman - The Cult
You know how I know this one won't ever get made?  Because it's perfectly designed to be a Batman movie. Everything about this four issue series cries out that it's a movie and it fits into the mold of a stand-alone glimpse into the Dark Knight's never ending battle.  Instead we'll get another movie where they drag out two or three villains for him to face down, in a constructed story that feels forced and pointless.  Because, you know, that sells.

Wait!  I know they've already made a whole bunch of these.  I should have said "A Superman movie worth seeing." Not going to happen, because the best they could deliver after a decades long wait was a movie that might as well have been made twenty years ago.  Kryptonite, Luther, and Lois in distress.  Wow.  Even Smallville has thought deeper than that script.

Midnight Nation
12 issues of comic genius, and a story with a moral to it.  Religious themes, and a story so many people would be able to relate to.  So why is there no talk of getting this done?  I cannot stress how good this series is nearly well enough to do it justice, and a well done movie would be epic.  Bigger (I think) than The Watchmen as a movie (which was bigger as a comic.)

Days Of Future Past
THIS is the X-Men movie they should have made. Claremont, Byrne and Austin did in 2 issues what writers ever since have been trying to do in hundreds; they created a seminal moment in the X-Universe that is never forgotten. What would you give for a movie that opens in a terrible future where almost all of the heroes are dead?  Watching the remnants of the X-Men and the Avengers battle one last time to save hope, and humanity (from itself and its prejudice) of course.  Then have the story naturally fold back to the present where they set out to change the future and stop it from ever happening?  That's a movie script that is perfect in concept, and yet we get stuck with the crap they've been feeding us.  And yes, Wolverine was terrible; largely because it was stupid.

You need 3 movies and they would all need to be extra long.  Unless you get James Cameron interested, I don't know how you do it justice. This is one of those series that smart people love, which is the perfect explanation for why Hollywood isn't all over it.

Okay, I missed a lot of good stories that will never see the silver screen. Which ones are your favorites, and what makes you think there's no chance it will be made? 
Cam, before you said it......what about Crossed?  Zombie flicks always seem to have a voice!



Cam said...

I don't think I'd want to see a Crossed movie. They'd definitely have to sacrifice much of the violence and, frankly, I don't think I'd want to see much of it on a big screen in any case. One of the advantages of the comic medium is that you can take things at your own pace. If an image or idea is really frightening or challenging, you can take your time with it, or skip past it, or whatever suits you best at that particular moment. In a movie this isn't really possible. You can close your eyes and wait for things to settle down, but that's lame.

I had such an experience with the movie adaptation of the book "The Road", by Cormac McCarthy. I couldn't really come up with any particular element of the film that I was disappointed with, and yet I walked away feeling a little chagrined. Eventually I realized that the problem was that two hours of relentless bleakness was a little too much for me (also, few things can compare with the amazing prose of Cormac McCarthy).

Crossed is the same way. It's great to sit down with issue by issue, but I'm not convinced that it could be translated effectively to the big screen.

And that would be in the hands of a talented script-writer. In the hands of the hollywood schmuck that'd eventually get stuck with the task of writing up a treatment? A painful exercise in futility...

The 4th Man said...

Excellent point, although I don't know about Crossed. I mean, okay some of the zombie rape scenes I could do without, that much is for certain, and the images of people, especially children being torn apart I could.....

Ok, you're right. Maybe not the best movie material.

What about Gravel Book 1? I could see a decent script turning that into a pretty exceptional movie.

Cam said...

You know, again, I love these books. But Gravel 1 is too well-crafted, too tight of a story. One villain per issue works in the comics, cause of the difference in pacing. In a movie I think it'd just make one royal clusterf***, worse than Spiderman 3.

Is Gravel a character suited for movies? Hell yes -- but it'd take the right story.

Oh, but back to crossed for one second: Horsecock on the big screen would be a sight to see! Imagine him laying the beatdown and screaming "HORSECOCK" in an Imax theater. It'd be epic.

The 4th Man said...

I think it's different Cam, and I completely think it could be done. What you're doing isn't so much muddling a story with all kinds of villains, as you're telling the tale of an anti-hero who is cutting his way through a dispersed collection of rogues in order to get what he wants.

I think if it more like Sin City, where the story is cleanly broken into chapters, allowing us to see each of the conflicts as a 20 minute arc in the bigger picture.

Would it be tough? Hell yes. But I think it could be exceptional as
well. Spiderman 3 was a flop because the stories were all mashed together. It was the old Batman movie technique. Slam it with villains and try and sell it based on that.

This would be different I think.

Cam said...

As I said above, Gravel as a character could definitely carry a movie. He's compelling to watch on screen, and his particular occupation lends itself to a Hollywood style movie.

I also give credit to your mentioning Sin City -- they have several villains in that film and it never feels bloated. Now I haven't actually read the comics for Sin City, so I can't comment on how it is as an adaptation. What I'll instead do is look at the story in the film and contrast that with a literal adaptation of Gravel 1.

The key difference in my eyes is that Sin City immerses you in a world that delivers a ton of backstory. We learn about corrupt cops, a corrupt church, the self-ruling prostitutes, etc, etc. The movie isn't just about the various villains that are encountered throughout the film.

Now, Gravel 1 really is a story focused pretty closely on eliminating a bunch of villains. There are hints of backstory and a rich magical lineage in England, but they're only hints. Of course Ellis has time to fill these details in (like, just what the hell is the body orchard?!), and the suspense of waiting for these details is part of the appeal of a comic. But if you literally adapted this story arc to the big screen, this backstory would be sorely missed. I have the same complaints with Gravel 2; it was high time to learn more about the mythology Ellis was weaving, rather than have Gravel kill some more dudes.

Another difference between Sin City and Gravel 1 is that Sin City contains several narratives. I don't think this is such a relevant point to our discussion, as there's no reason why several narratives is necessarily better than a single one. I do think it's worth mentioning, though, the fact that they could pull those narrative strands together into a single, compelling comic/movie is really amazing. Sin City is an all around exceptional piece of work.

Of course I can't objectively say that Gravel 1 couldn't be made into a good movie, but due to its lack of backstory, I'm skeptical. I do agree that a movie adaptation of Gravel 1 is possible, but they'd need to add a bunch of mythology. You couldn't leave that for a sequel, it just wouldn't work.

I guess this leads us to the following question: why are readers willing to wait so long in comics to learn answers to certain questions, yet in other mediums (like a movie), we feel short-changed if there are too many loose strands at the end? This seems like a feature unique to comics.