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A piece of Halloween trivia I learned tonight while catching Blacula and Scream Blacula Scream on TCM: William Marshall, who played Blacula, voiced Tony Stark in an episode of the cartoon Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, after previously voicing the Juggernaut in the same series.
Tony Stark on Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends
Marshall, a talented stage actor, had studied under fellow horror movie legend Boris Karloff early in his acting career, and had earned a reputation as the best Shakespearean actor to play Othello before going into stage and film. He appeared in films such as Demetrius and the Gladiators and The Boston Strangler and TV shows such as The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Star Trek before gaining cult fame for the Blacula series.
Stage and film actor William Marshall, star of Blacula and voice of Tony Stark
His popular Blacula role, which debuted with the August 1972 release of the first film in the series following months of heavy pre-publicity, seems to have inspired the black vampire Jefferson Bolt who appeared with Morbius in Marvel Team-up #3 (cover date July 1972) and the black version of Dracula (called “Vincent the Vegetable Vampire” in one skit) played by Morgan Freeman on The Electric Company, where Freeman’s rendition of Dracula crossed paths with Spider-Man during Spidey’s first appearance on the show in 1974. Later in life Marshall did cartoon voice work, appearing on Pee-wee’s Playhouse to entertain his grandchildren. Marshall died of complications from Alzheimer’s Disease in 2003 at the age of 78.
Jefferson Bolt from Marvel Team-up #3 (July 1972)
Spider-Man vs. Dracula on The Electric Company
I agree with Roy, but I would go a bit further. I think there is an overwhelming problem.
In my view, the model for this show is Smallville, where we saw a young Clark Kent grow up to be Superman. But, of course, that show was focused around the life of Clark Kent, while here it will concentrate on Jim Gordon. I don’t know if he will sustain the show. But one other thing:
Unlike Clark Kent, who was entering manhood in Smallville, Bruce Wayne is 12 years old. EVERY villain on the show is now going to be 10 years older than he is. Catwoman, who has always been seen a romantic interest, will be 30, before Bruce becomes Batman.
As I have seen now in too many of these super-hero movies and TV Shows (Smallville, Amazing Spider-Man, and so many others) that very young people, just out of high school, will be running the mobs, industries (Lexcorp and Oscorp) and the police etc. This is silly. But they still will be much older than Bruce.
And who wants to see supervillains without superheroes? This might have made an interesting mini-series, but as a weekly show I don’t see how it can be sustained.
[Update: For Barry's additional commentary, see his post More on Gotham]
DC’s new Gotham series premiered on Fox this Monday, drawing 8.21 million viewers and a ratings share of 3.2 out of 10. In case you missed it, Fox has the pilot online on their site:
My take: so far the show looks like it could last longer than Birds of Prey on the strength of stronger drama and characterization, but it feels more like a police/mob drama than a superhero show and seems unlikely to replicate the audience enthusiasm and post-season endurance of Smallville. The decision to focus on James Gordon and make Bruce Wayne too young to yet be Batman delegates the most interesting character to a secondary role, threatening to limit the show’s development potential to the TV equivalent of The Batman Family. Now I enjoyed reading The Batman Family myself, but not as much as I enjoy reading about the adventures of the adult Batman and his regular supporting cast. A show revolving around Batman, along the lines of Arrow, would have more potential.
Beyond that, the villains are okay as far as they go, with several traditional villains appearing, and Catwoman and Penguin foreshadowed to become focal points in the near future. However, the character who seems set to serve as the main villain, Fish Mooney, lacks the unique draw of a Joker, so far leaving the show without a strong central nemesis. Also, Penguin is a bit too psychotic, reflecting a general overdose of gratuitous violence and cynicism that mars the show’s writing. Bullock’s constant confrontationalism gets irritating quickly, though it could serve to highlight his contrast with Gordon. The show’s version of Alfred has a bit too much attitude unbalanced by upper-class manners to stay in character. Gotham needs some comic relief, a lighter touch to break up its bleakness, and some superpowered characters to stay interesting. It will be interesting to see how it competes with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., probably its closest counterpart. But after seeing the pilot episode, I’m more enthusiastic about Flash.
For a regular review, once again, you may go to Rotten Tomatoes. This is a review from a student of comics, mostly, 1961- 1977 who will not discuss spoilers, but will try to place this within the frame of the current Marvel Movie Universe.
This movie, of course fits right into the Marvel Universe. But, unlike Guardians of the Galaxy, it expands and helps define the movie version of it. It also changes things on the TV show, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and makes it better.
The Blu-ray images and sound look very good, a 4.7 out of a 5 rating.
Captain America: The First Avenger (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy)
Virtually all the Marvel movies, (made now by three separate companies), have used the material from the 1960s and early 1970s comics. Daredevil, X-Men, and Wolverine have wandered into the early 1980s. We had not seen anything from the last 30 years. Until now.
Created just before WW II, Captain America is an anachronism, a relic of a previous time. His costume was the American flag, something the country needed when he was created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby .But Cap’s great appeal began to ebb after the war, as did the appeal of many super-heroes and most were gone by 1950. Cap had a short revival in the mid 1950s.
In the late 1950s DC comics began to revive their superhero line by taking old concepts and giving them a totally clean slate, with new characters having the old powers, totally forgetting their past continuity. When the publisher of Marvel comics, never an innovator, Martin Goodman saw that superheroes were successful again he started putting out new super-hero comics.
When Marvel’s editor and writer Stan Lee began to introduce new characters he was careful not to repeat the mistakes of the past. The old comics had not sold, so he, and his co-writers and artists Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko and Don Heck innovated change. There were no more sidekicks. Stan wanted teenage readers to identify with the actual hero, not their partner, so he created teenage heroes including Spiderman and the X-Men.
When they reintroduced Cap in Avengers #4 (1964) Lee and Kirby had a choice to make. They could have made him a totally new modern character, as they did with Johnny’s Storm’s Human Torch. This would have created a conundrum. The country was being torn apart over the Vietnam War, so how can you make a character so patriotic, so wrapped in the flag, relevant? (In comics relevant means “able to sell comics. “) So, by freezing “the original” Cap in the 1940s and reviving him in the 1960s, they made character himself an anachronism. He became someone who felt out of his own time, someone looking for his own place, someone haunted by his past. And there was no Bucky: he had died at the hands of Baron Zemo, a Nazi under orders from the Red Skull!
While writer Stan seemed to feel strongly about this, apparently Jack Kirby didn’t. Kirby was the co-writer/plotter and artist on the series. To Kirby, Cap was the same hero he had always been, there was no self doubt. In fact, Kirby didn’t want to kill Bucky. It is only after Kirby leaves, Lee partners with Gene Colan to put Cap on a motorcycle and have him take off across America on journey of self-discovery.
When this movie opens, you can see a great deal of doubt from Steve Rogers. This is the 1960s Cap who once said “Perhaps I should have battled less and questioned more.”
I was surprised how much I enjoyed the movie, it was real sit-back, eat-the-popcorn, and enjoy-the-movie sort of thing. One where you hope you don’t have to go to the bathroom and miss something. The first thing that struck me about this movie is that it was very adult. Yes, this is a superhero action movie which that it exist in a different universe, where the rules of physics, medicine and rules of common sense are often forgotten (or avoided). But they mixed in a spy thriller plot line, with espionage, counterspies, and Robert Redford, who added class to the whole thing. And look for a cameo from Gary Shandling. There is also a voiceover by Gary Sinese.
Nick Fury, originally Sgt. Fury, a veteran of WWII, was established as a super-secret agent and head of S.H.I.E.L.D. His first villains were a typical group of bad guys, named Hydra, a criminal organization that was run corporate bookkeeper. It was writer/artist Jim Steranko who elevated Hydra to the super-villain category, giving them a Nazi past.
Ed Brubaker, the current writer of Captain America, said that he did not like any of the stories or the character development after 1980. He was right: it was awful. So, a few years ago, he eliminated 30 years of continuity and picked up the story lines from 1980. Brubaker brought back a brainwashed Bucky and called him the Winter Soldier. This would be the first modern plot put into a Marvel movie. In my era, death was usually fatal. This added suspense and intrigue to the stories. In today’s comics, death is curable.
So I wonder how this would fit it. And it fit in very nicely, much better than I ever would’ve suspected. It didn’t work well for me in comic books. Captain America has had 70 years of continuity and you cannot just throw out 30 years and have it make sense. However, this is just the third movie with Captain America and only the second one to deal with his personal profile. So Bucky’s coming back, as a Hydra agent, “the Winter Soldier” after just three years of the movies pretty much worked. This movie is only 50% that storyline. With the Iron Curtain long gone, Hydra has been established as Marvel’s plotting and evil Cold War nemesis. It totally borrows from the issues of Secret Warriors involving the Marvel Universe in a Spy vs. Spy situation, S.H.I.E.L.D. vs. Hydra. And the head of Hydra, the Nazi Baron Strucker, appears. He also survived these last 70 years and looks great!!!!
ILM (Industrial Light and Magic) did the special effects. Both they and Marvel are now owned by Disney. Most scenes looked great and grand, except some of the Falcon’s flying sequences looked awkward.
For fans of the Marvel MOVIE Universe, who know nothing of the comics but enjoy the movies, there are a lot of reoccurring characters including the Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), Arnim Zola (Toby Jones), Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders), Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell). One thing that helps hold this Universe together is the consistency of the casting. With the exception of “Rhodey” in Iron Man and the three Hulks we have had, even the small parts keep the original actors. Of course Stan Lee makes a cameo and he has been in more Marvel movies than anyone. Comic book fans would recognize the references to Dr. Strange, Jasper Sitwell, and the introduction of the Scarlett Witch and Quicksilver.
Sadly, I found the disc “extras” a waste of time. They break down the “behind the scenes” stuff into three segments, one ten-minute one and two others less than three minutes. Here, they just show you how they did the stunts. The blooper reel is also just about three minutes and its fun, but short.
It was easy to bring back the Torch and the SUB-MARINER. I had to find a good way to bring back Captain America. I couldn’t think of a way to do it. (with) THE AVENGERS I had a bunch of other characters for him to play against and react to and. . .Captain America really needs other people to, to talk to and to be contrasted with ‘cause by himself he, he doesn’t have quite as colorful a personality as some of our other characters. wasn’t as sure of Captain America. Captain America we had. . .Over the years, you know, he was probably the first, one of the first characters MARVEL ever did and after the war he lost popularity and they dropped the book. Then they brought him back a few years later, dropped the book I wanted to wait until I could get just the right story. It was even difficult to bring back a patriotic character because the, the country wasn’t in the mood for that kind of patriotism at the time we brought back Captain America. They, they weren’t interested in the Army. Nobody wanted us to be at war, certainly, and there was a lot of disenchantment with the government and with the establishment, and Captain America was so much an establishment character.
Well, what I did. . .was give him a problem. He felt he was out of sync with the time he lived in. He felt he was an anachronism. He realized that he was thinking like somebody in the late ’30s and early ’40s, but here he was living in the ‘60s, and he felt he’d never quite be on the same wavelength as the people. . .You know he had been, frozen in a glacier for about 20 years or something and consequently he would agonize about the fact that he didn’t feel he fit in. I remember, I think there was one line I wrote that I liked very much where he said “Maybe he should have battled less and questioned more,” and I think that was the philosophy we tried to give him but he couldn’t really change his nature.
–Stan Lee, 2000 interview
This is a review from a student of comics, mostly from 1961-1977, who will not discuss spoilers, but will try to place this within the frame of the Marvel Movie Universe. For a regular review you can go to Rotten Tomatoes. This is also a review of the features of the disc.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (Blu-ray/DVD/UltraViolet Combo Pack)
Amazing Spider-Man 2 is not the worst superhero movie of this modern era. The Spirit was. This doesn’t really even come close to being that bad, but it does rival Superman Returns, and in my opinion, Man of Steel. And like Man of Steel, they have changed the title character so much I don’t recognize him. This is just not a good movie. If you haven’t seen it in the theater and you’re compelled to see it wait till it comes on cable.
I realize that continuity after 50 years is a very difficult and unfair burden for writers to have to endure. I bought Amazing Fantasy #15 on the stands all those years ago. And I bought the next 175 issues of Amaazing Spider-Man. I certainly don’t expect the character to be quite the same. But while the first Spider-Man series got things basically right, the rebooted Amazing Spider-Man completely eradicated all the things that I had enjoyed about Spider-Man.
Steve Ditko, the co-creator of Spider-Man, always got it right. He developed, or re-developed, Iron Man and the Hulk when they were not very successful. He was able to see, keep and build on the essence of the character. He recognized the essential things about their personality that we felt were compelling, and developed fresh new worlds around them. He introduced new supporting characters and emphasized their motivations. And he created situations where the characters would conflict or bond and sometimes both! Somehow you felt he kept intact their inner qualities that had made the characters interesting and compelling.
Not so here. The first thing that strikes me here is that we have people 30 years old playing 18-year olds. Their look, actions and dialogue don’t fit. The opening scene is Peter Parker graduating high school. But here, Gwen Stacy is the valedictorian, not Peter. Peter should have been the valedictorian–that was part of the structure. By the way, Peter actually met Gwen in college. Instead of being shy and aloof, he is an overconfident show off who has none of the reserve or the doubts of the original Peter. He has none of the qualities that I related to. Change the environment, add new characters, but keep the original person! Here, in high school he already has a permanent great relationship with a gorgeous woman. In any age, 1964 or 2014, Parker should be having trouble dealing with woman.
Aunt May should be older. So much of what makes up Peter Parker is his guilt over Uncle’s Ben’s death (forgotten here, by the way) and motivation for helping his aunt. With the death of his uncle, the Parkers were destined to live near poverty. Not so here, they have a much better house than shown in the first three movies. Here, a younger Sally Fields is working to help him, which allows the character to be cavalier about money…and responsibility.
Electro is the major villain (one of three) in the piece. But they dehumanize him so much that you cannot relate to him whatsoever. Spider-Man was not Superman or the Fantastic Four. He fought down to earth super-villains and gangsters, not larger-than-life bad guys.
Speaking of being overdone, they bring back the Green Goblin and he, too, is a character so much larger than life you cannot relate to him. The original Goblin was not a super-villain, but a gangster who had incredible gadgets. Not so here.
The Goblin does the most famous (infamous?) act in Spider-Man’s history and that is so overdone and stretched out. In fact, Gwen was so annoying at the end I was looking forward to it. Gwen, at age 18, can operate the entire electrical grid of New York City and no one else can. Oh, and Harry takes over Oscorp at age twenty.
The movie is 2 hours and 20 minutes; they have added an additional 5 minutes to the DVDs. They used very quick editing to add to the tension, but it destroyed any chance of characterization, zipping around so fast. I was actually bored after 10 minutes.
So the movie was completely empty. Sally Field playing Aunt May is completely miscast or underused. The director in his commentary says that he wanted her to be Peter’s mentor; but they don’t give her the opportunity to do that.
The special effects were wonderful and almost always look great. There were times when Spider-Man did look animated. The Blu-ray disc has great images and a powerful soundtrack. There is a 100-minute behind the scenes feature which divided into seven chapters. There is nothing really new here; you’ve seen this sort of thing before. There are 25 minutes of outtakes. There’s a scene with Peter Parker meeting his now dead father, which is an alternative ending to the movie. Here the father gets to say, “With great power comes great responsibility.” The rest of the deleted scenes are narrated by the director who tells why they were not used.
Those who buy the DVD will be a little bit shortchanged. The “Behind the Scenes” is not on the disk, and instead of having 25 minutes of outtakes there are only 9 minutes. While the visuals on the DVD are excellent, the Dolby Digital soundtrack is not very good. The DTS soundtrack on the Blu-ray is so much better.
Rather than ending I think the movie begins with the Humane Society disclaimer:
“All animals were harmed during the production of this movie!!!”
I’ve never been able to get people (usually girlfriends) who aren’t already disposed towards sci-fi to like it. And even if they like one picture, they seldom go back to see another.
While some sci-fi can be just fun, the movies that resonate down through the years usually have some moral or sociological depth to them: Forbidden Planet, The Day the Earth Stood Still, and the original Planet of the Apes. Others, including Alien and Aliens, don’t have that sub-text, but are still great movies in spite of the fact.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is a fun movie that, to some, may give the impression of containing a political sub-text, but I found none. This is a darn good adventure film for the dedicated sci-fi enthusiast, ‘though I doubt that it will convert many (if any) others to the genre.
The film opens ten years after the last film ended, leaving the apes with dominion over mankind and the planet. A montage reveals that 90% of the human race has been wiped out due to a plague. They even have the real President talking about it, so I guess 90% of the world didn’t have Obamacare!
I’ve heard some people suggest that gun control is an underlying issue here, but I don’t see it. 90% of the population is gone and humans need to protect themselves from attacking, talking apes. Gun control is a silly sub-text to tack onto this movie.
The real star is not Andy Serkis as ‘head’ ape Caesar, but the special effects. They are fantastic, and made as much of an impression on me as when I first saw Jurassic Park. You’ll believe that these apes are real. That’s important because the movie-makers have really humanized them, and they care about their friends and families to the same degree that homo sapiens do. Yet despite that, a war between the two species breaks out.
I hate to say this, but the more apocalyptic Earth movies I see, the less excited I am by many of the action sequences and scenes of total destruction, some of which can be quite boring. You kind of know what is going to happen right from the start. And I’m also tired of the little seeds that are planted to prepare us for the sequel.
However, putting those quibbles aside, it’s a fun movie. Oh, and don’t waste your time with 3D, it’s too dark that way. You’ll see more of the incredible details the regular way.
The Supreme Case is expected to decide on May 15 whether or not to hear a petition filed in March by the Kirby estate appealing lower courts’ rulings in favor of Marvel and Disney. For details see Deadline Hollywood.
(Thanks for spotting this story to our friendly neighborhood lawyer Vinnie Vegas, who is never seen at the same time as Daredevil!)
Here’s a 1969 Spider-Man film, perhaps the earliest ever, produced by writer Donald F. Glut. Glut later penned the bestselling novelization of Empire Strikes Back along with many other books, comic books, screenplays, and cartoon and children’s TV scripts. This film was shot during his days as an amateur filmmaker associated with Forrest J Ackerman’s Famous Monsters of Filmland, and was one of a series of superhero adaptations Glut made, including Captain Marvel, Superman, the Human Torch, the Spirit, Spy Smasher, Batman, Rocket Man, and Atom Man. Posted on YouTube, the film appears to come from a 2-DVD set of Glut’s amateur films called I Was A Teenage Moviemaker released by Epoch Cinema in 2006. For more about Glut, visit his official website at http://www.donaldfglut.com/.
I notice that Dr. Lightning seems to combine aspects of Doctor Doom with Electro and others.
The first part of this review of the new movie Thor: The Dark World is unusual and short simply because there are so many surprises and I don’t want to give anything away. (I saved the spoilers for the end, so if you want to be surprised, don’t read below the spoiler alert!) I saw the movie at an IMAX 3D theatre.
Simply, if you liked the first Thor movie and The Avengers, as I did, you will like the second Thor movie. It is not outstandingly different; it has most of the same characters doing much of the same things. This is NOT the Stan Lee and Jack Kirby version of Thor, this is the Walt Simonson’s Thor, right down to the “super-villain”, Malekith.
from Journey into Mystery 88 page 2
What holds the movie together is not the plot: the alignment of the universe that occurs every 5,000 years (called the Convergence) causes havoc on the various aligned worlds. Because of this convergence, of all people, Jane Foster, contracts the “Aether”, which is basically a magic substance that gives her great powers but will eventually kill her. Bad guy Malekith wants the Aether and the power that goes with it, and therefore wants Jane.
The best part of the movie is the cast. In order to save Jane and the universe, Thor must team up with Loki to go into the realm of Makekith. This is the highlight of the movie. Chris Hemsworth (Thor) teams with Tom Hiddleston (Loki) and their performances are just wonderful. We are supposed to hate Loki, yet here, again, Hiddleston makes the character multi-layered and compelling to watch. We may “boo” and “hiss” at Loki, but we also, at various parts, feel real sympathy for him.
Loki by Jack Kirby
We see less of the Warriors Three, Sif and Odin in this movie and more of Thor’s mom played by Rene Russo. We also see Frigga’s complex relationship with Loki. I know from reading the comics that Thor will wind up with Sif, not Jane Foster, and that rivalry is shown but not developed because of a real life occurrence. The beautiful Jaimie Alexander injured her back on the set and was out, recovering, for a month, which, I suspect, cut down on her screen time.
The movie was beautiful to watch but the 3D was a total distraction. Watch it in a regular theatre. And stay until the very end of the credits, there are two extras that are buried in them, one at the very end. By the way, there is a lot of “Dark” out there: Thor: The Dark World, Star Trek (Into the Dark), Spider-Man (Turn Off the Dark) and Batman (The Dark Knight). We need flashlights!
It does bother me that death is not fatal in comics these days and now in the movies. In a great, heroic, scene we see Loki die. This was sad for two reasons: he was shown being heroic and the fact that Hiddleston was so important to these movies. But we later learn that this is not the case when he impersonates Odin. But where is Odin? Frigga, Thor’s mother dies, but why is her death seemingly permanent? The Collector, introduced in Avengers #28 (1966) is featured during the closing credits presenting another mystery. He really has no role in this movie. But like Thanos in the Avengers movie, Marvel feels that they need to open up story arcs rather than close them at the end of these movies.
This movie is misnamed. It takes place in Outer Space and should be called Lack of Gravity!
Simply, this is the most interesting and compelling visual storytelling I have seen since 2001: A Space Odyssey. This movie is nothing like 2001, except for the fact that dialogue is not an essential part of the movie and its visual design tells the story. Quest for Fire was bit liked that too.
The movie opens with a nearly 20 minute uninterrupted, incredibly beautiful, carefully detailed, sequence of astronauts, including George Clooney and Sandra Bullock, orbiting the Earth and conducting a spacewalk. Everything you need to know about the characters, the plot and the setting is filled in here. This scene alone should win the film a dozen Oscars.
Then all mayhem breaks loose.
That’s it from me; I won’t tell you the rest. You gotta see this movie! I saw it in IMAX surround sound with 3D and you should too. It draws you in and keeps you involved. And the movie knows when to stop, it’s only 90 minutes.
George Clooney playing an astronaut on his last mission, is perfect for this role. He is likable and you root for him from the beginning. Sandra Bullock lucks out and gets a role where she can be taken seriously and she effectively stretches into this role. Literally at times.
This is a four star movie.