Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Making sense in the wake of Wolverine

I got this from BadandUgly.com who's opinions on alot of movie things i tend to share, and though i felt that my write up on Wolverine and the horror that it was, and my disdain for the third X-men movie was pretty clear, I think maybe this could express my feelings on FOX Studios just abit more.. so here we go...

Originally Posted on thebadandugly.com...

Can I take a moment here to talk about Fox and Wolverine…you know, again?

First, I want to tell you the story of The Fantastic Four movie you’ve probably never seen. It involves B-movie extraordinaire Roger Corman, the guy behind Death Race 2000 and Piranha, two films being remade for modern audiences. He was also behind Little Shop Of Horrors (the original one that will be seeing a remake), which he claimed to have shot in two days and one night, and a number of Edgar Allan Poe adaptations while partnering with writer Richard Matheson.

In 1992, producer Bernd Eichinger at Constantin Film, a company known for making Clint Eastwood spaghetti westerns in its time, was having quite the dilemma. Constantin had optioned the rights to a Fantastic Four movie from Marvel, and unless the flick was underway by December 1992, the rights would default and go up for grabs (much like what happened recently with Sin City 2 and The Weinstein Company). Eichinger knew that a Fantastic four movie with that many special effects would probably cost a good $40 million in 90’s-dollars and knew that he couldn’t pony it up to make the film.

Somehow, Eichinger contacted Corman and the two settled on making an ashcan copy, but with a special twist. Something dubbed an “ashcan copy” is material produced purely for legal reasons. It’s a term that developed during the age of Golden Age Comics. So, you do something quick to maintain an option, or to have something produced for copyright. The intention is that these ashcans only circulate internally. But, since Corman was told to make a Fantastic Four film on absolutely no budget,

Corman had his film written and cast by people who were not told that the Fantastic Four movie they were making was not intended for release. Some actors and crew members worked for less because they were told that if the film didn’t get released, it would be used as a backdoor pilot for a TV series. It’s not mentioned in any documentation I can find, but some of them had to be Marvel geeks psyched to work on a film adaptation like this.

Principal photography ended January 1993, and the cast was sent out to conventions and to do interviews as the studio announced a 1994 premiere at the Mall of America. Needless to say, because chances are you haven’t seen this film, the flick was pulled. It was never intended to be released, it was just a slick way to maintain the rights and get the actors and crew to work for less. The reality of the “backdoor pilot” suggestion was never known. The film disappeared into Comic Cons as unlabled VHS tapes and the Roger Corman Fantastic Four was never seen.

In 2005, 10-years later, Constantin Film and Bernd Eichinger brought Tim Story’s Fantastic Four to cinemas, followed by Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfur and a proposed re-boot of the franchise, even though the sad memories of watching Rise with my head in my hands are still fresh. The company behind these crap-fests? 20th Century Fox.

Now think about what Marvel Studios is trying to do with the properties they managed to keep: Iron Man, Nick Fury, The Incredible Hulk, Captain America, Thor, Black Widow and S.H.I.E.L.D. Marvel is going to attempt to build an inter-connected “Marvel Universe” on screen and it’s an exciting prospect. However, Marvel also managed to sell off the two most profitable properties, cinematically: Sony got Spider-Man and Fox got X-Men.

Giving up Spider-Man is sad because he’s a flagship character, but the X-Men property has so many characters and such a rich back-history that Fox has treated with disrespect since X2: X-Men United ended on a Dark Phoenix cliffhanger…

Rules For A Fox X-Men Film Thus Far:

1. The title must have “X-Men” in it because people like sequels. X2 is snappy, but X2: X-men United? That’s profit. People don’t understand prequels, nor do they have to in this reboot age, so we can’t just call it Wolverine, it has to be X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

2. Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart have to show up. Women love Hugh Jackman, geeks love Patrick Stewart. Women in tight superhero costumes look the same, so screw it.

3. People are ignorant, hate mutants. Easy social commentary. Sub in “black,” “retarded,” “atheist.”

4. Someone falls in love, but it can never be, except when the climax happens, then love saves them, sorta. Bonus points if this is Wolverine’s storyline, which it always has been.

Pile on top of this the Wolverine Leak and Fox’s knee-jerk response to include “multiple secret endings” that have no bearing on the story of the film whatsoever. Not to mention that the end of X-Men Origins: Wolverine has a nod towards the upcoming X-Men: First Class.

Add to that recent news: “Shwartz wrote the prequel while Wolverine was in production, and that the screenwriter was asked to do a rewrite during the film’s post production. The rewrite would reflect some of the changes that were made on set and in reshoots, so that the timing “matches with First Class.”

Explain to me how Fox isn’t doing this to ape Marvel’s unified strategy? Espeically if one of the Wolverine endings brings Deadpool’s character to a place where Ryan Reynolds can start a franchise (SPOILERS).

Or how about this hypothesis: Wolverine could have been an ashcan flick if they didn’t spend so much damn money doing it.

Here’s the overall problem I have with Fox and the X-Men property: they made Hugh Jackman and we have them to thank, in part, for bringing about this, the age of superhero cinema. But it appears as if NONE of the decisions made after Bryan Singer left the property have been motivated by anything other than maintaining the rights to a franchise that has the ability to juice money out of fan boys for years to come.

I’m gonna see Magneto and First Class when they come out. I’m no different. But, having seen Wolverine, I couldn’t help but get the feeling that a story about sibling rivalry between mutants might have been better served if those two mutants had more than one dramatic scene that didn’t involve Victor Creed growling and prancing around like a lion on stunt-wires.

I understand that people like to see things blow up, and in a comic-book world where a portion of people have the power to do whatever SFX trick is popular that year, the X-franchise must be really tempting. Why have any character work at all?

But, as far as my opinion goes, X-Men: Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine (both film sets rife with rumors that Fox was infringing on the director’s control) might as well have been ashcan movies, because Fox is just keeping this property until they let someone with real Singer-esque-pre-Superman’s-kid talent comes through and wants a shot at one of the REAL X-Men stories.


Now with that said back to me, I happen to own a copy of the 1990s Fantastic Four movie of which he speaks, and yes, its, not a good film, its infact one of those so bad its awesome movies, infact there is one scene where Doctor Doom is running, he stops, turns around and does this sort of Jazzhands pose that still makes me laugh today, and I've always said that The Thing looks more like the comics in that version then in the big budget ones, and the casting was pretty much better, even though in the big budget ones, i do love fellow Lowell Mass. boy Micheal Chiklas as The Thing, he's got the voice and personality down, anyway, it is a far better film, plus, come on, its Roger Corman, how can you not love Roger Corman's work?

As for the X-Movies, again, they're right, FOX is simply keeping them just to stick tit to marvel, just like Sony is, see, its like i've been saying, there is a certain way you need to do a superhero movie, it can't follow the same formula plot that every other hacked together film does, it needs to be both innovative, and also respectful, in a sense creating new, while showing love to the old, and if done right, people will forgive the... transgressions... that don't pay off, like how in Spiderman back in 2000, no one really cared that the Gwen Stacy death scene was done with Mary Jane Watson instead, and had a completely different and unrealistic outcome, its not that no one cared about the scene, it was that the film was so good that we allowed for change. X-Men: The Last Stand and Wolverine, didn't earn the right to change things, like previous marvel films had, they were just bombs. Hopefully someday FOX will see that.



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