My apologies for the delay of this week’s Bites. I’ve been working on the Caged epistories and in typical fashion, I felt the need to architect out the story lines and mysteries for the next 11 months. Because, you know, how am I supposed to sleep at night if I don’t know what I might do 6 months from now?
Anyhow, my weird anxiety/OCD tendencies aside, it was productive and I’m writing the first story of my detective serial Caged, titled Fool’s Mate, as we speak. I’m planning to have that written, edited, and published ASAP (I say ASAP to avoid giving a direct date. You’ll just have to be surprised).
I also have big news to share for my upcoming debut mixtape titled SPF (also coming this month) as well as two further mixtapes I want to deliver in March and April, with a compilation album in May.
Without further adieu, the week in film by yours truly . . .
Spider-Man leased by Sony to Marvel, will appear in MCU
Spider-Man is coming home. The Internet exploded when Sony announced they had finally decided to stop molesting the Spider-Man character and, instead, trust it to the experts, the experts being Marvel Studios, specifically president/producer on the new film Kevin Feige. Those responsible for said molestation, Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach, have thankfully been “demoted” (a word here meaning forgotten entirely) to executive producers.
For those unfamiliar with the film business, this is historic. Marvel has long wanted to buy back the film rights to Spider-Man – considered their crown jewel superhero – but Sony would never let their $4 billion cash cow go. And by the way, that’s the movies alone. Marvel still retains all merchandising, TV, etc. rights. Which hits the crux of this deal. Money exchanged? $0.
Marvel will make no money – and Feige will not be paid – for their role in rejuvenating the Spider-Man films after the abysmal The Amazing Spider-Man 2. poor director Marc Webb and star Andrew Garfield were never given a chance or, specifically, a script. Like at all. The films felt more like the bullet points of a Spider-Man story with about the same emotional resonance as an outline – zero. This feels more like euthanasia than anything. RIP Amazing Spider-Man series.
Likewise, Sony will not make any money from Marvel films Spider-Man will appear in (first up, Captain America: Civil War on May 6, 2016) and subsequent squeezing of the brand like a ripe orange. The new MCU version of Spidey will then get his solo outing, distributed by Sony, on July 28, 2017.
Choosing to “lease” Spider-Man to Marvel is a smart move for Sony after months of bad publicity, hacker attacks, and franchise fatigue for the famous webslinger. They gets to make friends with the preeminent hit-maker in Hollywood and let the team that created the Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy do the work to reboot Spider-Man. Again. Successfully this time.
It’s an exciting time to be a fan of the Marvel movies. They get flack for being conveyor-belt and workman-like but if you ask me Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy were anything but (I mean, certainly no Green Lantern or Catwoman) and in the future they are continuing to push new and diverse films (Black Panther, Captain Marvel). With plans to go with a younger Spider-Man, this sounds like an interesting way to capture the growing YA audience that the Avengers lack (the youngest male is Evans at 33, Johansson is 30, and none of them look like anyone I knew in high school). The ripple effect is just barely being felt. Next step? New Spider-Man.
Straight Outta Compton trailer
As Ice Cube might say, “This is a motherfucking trailer.” Admittedly the black-and-white intro of Dr. Dre and Ice Cube revisiting Compton and their pasts feels self-congratulatory. I mean, anytime Dre and Cube step out nowadays it’s hard to forget they’re now pushing 50. Ask any rap artist, the fight to stay relevant as youthful rage gives to torch passing is tough. I’ve detailed the creative/legal concerns with the film previously, but with that said, as an N.W.A. fan, I loved this.
But what I find most interesting is the potential for a discussion about appropriation, specifically how this film plays up and to those who feel anger at police. Is it a timely issue or is it exploitative? Is a corporation taking a current crisis of police brutality, over-reach and distrust and attempting to profit off of the climate?
There will certainly be opponents of this film (looking at you FOX News) who say it glorifies Rudy Giuliani’s idiotic “racial arsonist” ideology. That it’s actually black leaders who whip the masses up into a frenzy over little things like “murder” and “oppression.” Ignoring the irony of that accusation, in my opinion, this is just a matter of something that was true back then, rearing its ugly-ass head to reveal it’s still true now. It’s hiding underneath our national “pride” and “post-racial” culture: the same fucking shit that black people have been dealing with since N.W.A. So yeah, maybe it’s the perfect time for this movie.
X-Men film castings: Professor X in Wolverine 3? McKellen in Apocalypse?
Patrick Stewart dropped some interesting quotes about the casts of upcoming X-Men films in an interview with Oregon Live to promote his recent indie film Match. First, he said it’s looking like he’ll be joining Hugh Jackman in the upcoming third (and most likely final) Wolverine solo film.
Well, if you’re going to be in it, you better get to Montreal quickly, it sounds like.
[LAUGHS] But Magneto, Ian McKellen, is certainly going to be in it. And what I’m very excited about is that we have been talking about a Wolverine movie, which would team Hugh Jackman and myself together. Wolverine and Professor Xavier. That would be a very different sort of “X-Men” from the four movies that I’ve already done.
When asked by JoBlo about Stewart’s comments, Jackman played coy, which in movie speak is essentially confirming that, yes, the new film will focus at least partially on the relationship between Jackman and Stewart’s characters. The question’s below.
It makes sense; this whole shebang started in 2000 with Wolverine as the audience surrogate being introduced to the paraplegic telepath-sage Professor X. Where best to end Jackman’s historic run as the longest-running actor to play a superhero? That film is dated for March 3, 2017.
Stewart also said Ian McKellen who be back in some capacity (most likely a cameo) in 2016’s X-Men: Apocalypse. Which is interesting because of Days of Future Past appeared to set the timeline on a new path, away from time travel shenanigans.
FRIDAY EDIT: Gina Carano has been added to the cast of the upcoming Ryan Reynolds passion project, comic adaptation Deadpool as the Morlock Angel Dust. Looks like this solo outing will be more connected to the greater universe than previously thought. Good thing? See Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Bad thing? See X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
New Star Wars rumors for The Force Awakens and beyond
A major rumor went around last week. That means on the Internet, it is well on its way to confirmed fact. So treat this like a house you own but can’t live in. Or with a grain of salt. I personally take three.
POTENTIAL SPOILERS AHEAD!
We know John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac and (probably) Adam Driver portray the current named characters: new heroic trio Finn, Rey, and Poe Dameron, and villain Kylo Ren. But Domnhall Gleeson has remained unnamed. But, come on, look at them.
They’re totally father and son (which you might remember is a somewhat important part of these films). What makes this even more interesting is that Gleeson’s Skywalker ilk is that, far from being another Jedi-savant, he will be a member of the Empire hunting Boyega’s rogue Stormtrooper. This Skywalker seeks to destroy the superweapons that have stuck the galaxy far, far away a Cold War between the New Republic and the former Empire.
However, the success of his plan will launch both sides into a new galactic war that will reportedly fuel the new Star Wars stories for years to come. This is bizarrely (or not bizarrely) similar to the approach taken in Bioware’s MMORPG Star Wars: The Old Republic to fuel its plots.
What’s good about this news is what it means for the approach to the film and franchise as a whole. J.J. Abrams and Kathleen Kennedy have been able to inject the moral ambiguity and role-reversal this story of good and evil needed. Maybe destroying superweapons isn’t the way to go this time. Maybe not all Stormtroopers are poorly-aiming Mooks. These are great questions to ask, for both the storytellers and the global audiences.
When the original LucasFilm-Disney sale occurred in October 2012, naysayers complained the House of Mouse would, for some power-hungry reason, start inserting Goofy Special-Edition style into re-releases where he shoots Greedo instead of Han. But that’s short-sighted for a company seemingly destined for global domination. With Star Wars stories like this and the continuing train of Marvel barreling like a freight train culturally, Disney has proven it is savvy to adapt to the world, rather than have it adapt to them.
District 9 helmer elaborates on Alien sequel ideas
Neill Blomkamp’s favorite hobby when not making movies? Imagining movies he wants to make. In January, a deluge of artwork was uploaded by Blomkamp detailing his vision for an Alien sequel that ignored the lesser-quality Alien3 and Alien: Resurrection in favor of continuing the story of Aliens. The whole franchise in a bit of an awkward world-building state with original 1979 director Ridley Scott’s flawed 2012 “prequel” Prometheus and as well as a sequel to that on the way focused on the Space Jockeys responsible for both humanity and the Aliens creations’. But those have little to no focus on the actual titular Aliens of the franchise. When asked about the art, Blomkamp told Uproxx this:
“What happened was, when Chappie got heavily into post-production, I could take my foot off the gas a bit. I was thinking about what I wanted to do next and I’ve been wanting to make an Alien film for years and years.
Speaking to Sigourney Weaver, when we were doing Chappie, she set off a bunch of thoughts in my head – I had come up with an idea that didn’t have Sigourney, it was a different idea. But I spent all of the shooting time with her, it was like, holy shit, that could actually be really interesting.
When I came back to Vancouver, I had an entire year to work on Chappie. And when I wasn’t needed in the edit, I could think about Alien. So, I basically developed an entire movie and I did all of this artwork as well.”
Blomkamp was AWESOME when he rose from the ashes of a busted Peter Jackson-produced Halo movie and came onto the scene with District 9 – a rare sci-fi pic to get nominated for a Best Picture Oscar after the category was expanded to up to 10 films. Last August, his delayed follow-up Elysium was, alas, NOT awesome. Heavy handed and excessive, it lacked the simple storytelling, emotion, and subtlety his first film had in spades. Disappointing but thankfully we don’t have to wait as long for his follow-up as Chappie hits theaters in a few weeks.
As a massive fan of District 9, a massive critic of Elysium, and unsure-bordering-on-eyebrow raises for Chappie, I see potential, when married to the right producer perhaps, who can direct his creative vision. I mean, if this what a guy does when he’s NOT making a movie, what would he do when he starts getting paid for it? What could possibly be stopping this guy?
“Me. I’m the problem. Fox, they would make it. Like, tomorrow. They would make it… If it’s going to happen, it has to be on my terms. So, I came up with it and I’m bringing this to you. It’s not like, ‘Would you like to do Spider-Man 36?’ I still love it, I love the idea of the movie and I produced way more art than I put out.”
Then again, perhaps that is the paradox. Blomkamp has made 3 ostensibly original sci-fi films with pretty high budgets, but he hit a sophomore slump. If Chappie fails, I guarantee you’ll hear this movie greenlight pretty soon after. If Chappie wins, its less likely either side will feel pressured to work together to the benefit of fanboys the world over. So, Neill, help us out. It’s time he get over his aversion and apply his skills to a greater canvas and the R-rated Alien ‘verse is just fucked up enough to work for him.