The expanse that is the modern Marvel movie megaverse
August 1st, 2014 | By: Bert Ehrmann
Officially, the very first movie based on a Marvel comic book was the 1986 cult-classic Howard the Duck. But that movie flopped at the box office and was for many years an embarrassment to all those involved. (Though time heals all wounds and now Howard is available on DVD, Blu-ray and digital download.) It would take 12 more years until the next movie based on a Marvel property, this time Blade in 1998, was released in US theaters that did quite well at the box office.
Still, Blade was less a superhero film and more a horror/action movie in the vein of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
What would kickoff the modern Marvel movie megaverse and restart a superhero movie craze was X-Men in 2000. Since then there has been a total of 31 Marvel superhero films encompassing at least three different movie universes.
20th Century Fox currently holds the rights to produce X-Men and Fantastic Four movies, meaning that these two properties could conceivably cross over and share storylines. Sony/Columbia Pictures holds the rights to the Spider-Man line of films. And Marvel Entertainment owns and produces movies from The Avengers to Captain America to Iron Man and the new Guardians of the Galaxy along with hundreds of other possible movie properties.
Unfortunately, this means that unless the issues with the rights changes, we’ll NEVER get to see Spider-Man as a part-time member of the Fantastic Four or Professor X and Tony Stark teaming up to fight Venom.
Still, no one at Marvel or Sony or 20th Century Fox can be complaining that much about this split. All in their superhero films have grossed something like 15+ billion in ticket sales alone, about $3.3 + billion of that is pure profit not including things like marketing. This year movies based on Marvel characters have grossed about $675 million at the box office, and the summer’s not over yet.
Looking at the slate of Marvel movies that have already been released to date, the most profitable of them are The Avengers (made $1.5 billion at the box office, about 6.9 times its budget), Iron Man 3 ($1.2 billion, 6.1), Spider-Man ($822 million, 5.9) and a tie with Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Iron Man (5.9, $710 and $585 respectively).
While all this cash was being made at the box office, money spent to make the movies has also been going up too. The first X-Men movie cost about $75 million to make in 2000 (about $100 million today) and the latest X-Men: Days of Future Past cost about $200 million. Which means profit-wise the fist X-Men movie was actually MORE profitable than the most recent even though it made less at the box office!
Even movies that are widely considered failures were actually somewhat profitable. Daredevil made back about 2.3 times the amount of money spent to produce it, Elektra 1.3, Ghost Rider: Spirits of Vengeance 2.3. But who cares about making back millions on an investment when movies like The Avengers or Iron Man 3 are raking in billions.
Which, with all this money being made makes the fact that DC Comics hasn’t been producing movies based on their characters at the rate Marvel has a little odd. DC has produced the successful Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy of films and Man of Steel was successful last summer but that’s about it hit-wise. DC’s Green Lantern, Jonah Hex and Catwoman LOST something like a combined $180 million at the box office whereas Marvel movies almost never lose money.
Which leads me to the latest Marvel movie, Guardians of the Galaxy that’s currently in theaters. It’s Marvel’s first attempt at branching out from the superhero genera to something a little different. Guardians is one-third superhero and two thirds Star Wars movies mixed together. And if Guardians is a hit there’s no limit to other stories Marvel could bring to the big screen, from westerns like Rawhide Kid to a return to horror with Werewolf by Night or I could even see Captain Britain on the big screen too.
Meanwhile in the Batcave… DC readies their next film Batman vs. Superman that’s due in theaters in 2016. As for Marvel, between now and 2016 they have a total of up to SIX movies set to be released. I wonder who’s winning the movies race there?
Sam Kieth Maxx in-progress cover illustration
July 31st, 2014 | By: Bert Ehrmann
Mike Zeck Punisher portfolio illustrations
July 31st, 2014 | By: Bert Ehrmann
Quote of Note – Manhattan: “You Always Hurt the One You Love”
July 30th, 2014 | By: Bert Ehrmann
Frank Winter: “We’re building a weapon unlike any weapon the world ever seen…It releases the power of an ancient star. If it works, and it’s going to work, it’ll be more destructive than all the bombs dropped in all the wars in history put together. It’ll bring armies to their knees cities will disappear in the blink of an eye. The world will be united in peace by the most noble and just country in the history of mankind. Or it will burn to the ground. Whoever builds it first, that’s the end game. So it has to be us.”
The Merc with a Mouth
July 30th, 2014 | By: Mo Alexander
Gotta love it.
Deadpool Test Footage
Quotes of Note – Halt and Catch Fire: “Up Helly Aa”
July 28th, 2014 | By: Bert Ehrmann
Joe MacMillan: “I’m not looking to screw you guys over.”
(To two guys he’s actively screwing over.)
Gordon Clark: “We had a problem, now we have a product.”
Joe MacMillan: “It’s called survival, it’s an existential choice. Sell none of the original or one million of these…”
Cameron Howe: “…and no one will remember a single one.”
Summer of ’89
July 25th, 2014 | By: Bert Ehrmann
1989 was an intense year for me. I was at the age where I was just starting to get a bit more freedom as I transitioned from middle to high school. My best friend Jon and myself did everything from ride skateboards to hang out at the mall together. And that was also the time that I’d just stated to become interested in movies as something more than just entertainment.
Most importantly 1989 was the year that my parent’s marriage was in the final stages of disintegrating. Halfway through ’89 my family, minus dad, would end up moving to a different city that before I’d only been an occasional visitor to.
It felt like my life was burning down around me as I faced the prospect of a new school without my friend Jon at my side.
Even in all that uncertainty and strife, or maybe it was because of the uncertainty and strife, the movies I saw a quarter century ago in ’89 stick with me more vividly than just about anything cinematically since.
Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure: Jon and I saw this at Quimby Village which was the only movie I ever saw there. The one thing I do remember about Bill & Ted was that Jon and I were at the age where we’d latch onto phrases we thought were funny — we spent loads of time calling each other “hoser” and quoting lines from Strange Brew around that time — and after seeing Bill & Ted we worked lots of their lexicon into our speech. Bogus!
Pet Semetary: Another movie I saw with Jon, this time along with his dad, was Pet Semetary at Holiday Theaters. I remember being seriously freaked out by this one — they kill off a little kid at the start of the movie! Plus there’s the scene in Pet Semetary when the creepy disabled older sister jumps out of bed to deliver a scare that gave me a serious case of heebie-jeebies.
Batman: Seeing the original Batman in the theater opening weekend has always been a golden memory for me. It’s hard to describe just how big Batman was that summer and how everyone on the planet wanted to see that movie. To the point where people would literally stand in line for hours waiting for the next showing at the theater. Back then Jon and I used to go to the mall every Saturday afternoon with his dad. And it was at the mall that Jon’s dad with his then girlfriend said that they’d gotten tickets to Batman and hey, did I want to go with them? I can still remember getting to the theater after the showing had already started and being guided to whatever seats were still available by the ushers with flashlights. Batman is one of my favorite movie going experiences and is still one of my favorite movies as well.
Ghostbusters 2: My uncle and his family took my brother and myself to this one shortly after we’d moved and were still settling into our new accommodations. We saw this at Southtown Mall which back then was still a nice place to shop and see a movie.
Lethal Weapon 2: When we were still trying to figure out how our lives would be post-split my brother and myself would spend weekends with dad first at our old house, then his apartment. He wasn’t really sure what to do with us so one of the first weekends we stayed with him we were dropped off at Holiday Theaters to see Lethal Weapon 2 along with a cousin who was lending moral support that weekend. I remember it was just the three of us in the old cavernous Holiday 1 or 2 theater and Lethal Weapon 2 isn’t a half bad movie, especially if you’re 14.
After my family moved I went from knowing lots of kids my age to literally knowing three people at my new school. And since where we moved to was quite a distance from any movie theaters and because mom’s disposable income was now nonexistent, I went from seeing a handful of movies in the theater each year to just just a few.
It would be almost a decade before I’d see nearly as many movies in the theater as I did in 1989 but honestly, non have stuck with me as much as the movies of ’89 have. Visit me online at DangerousUniverse.com.
Quotes of Note – Halt and Catch Fire: “The 214s”
July 21st, 2014 | By: Bert Ehrmann
John Bosworth: “The future’s coming whether we like it or not. But it ain’t written anywhere that it includes any of us. Getting there ain’t free, there’s a cost.”
Gordon Clark: “He cleared out, he’s gone.”
Cameron Howe: “He’s not gone, this is just how he lives.”
Gordon Clark: “On purpose?”
Larry Hama GI Joe A Real American Hero #204 sketch
July 15th, 2014 | By: Bert Ehrmann
Planet of the Apes: A chronology of the future
July 11th, 2014 | By: Bert Ehrmann
At 46 years old, The Planet of the Apes franchise is the oldest film series with new movies still coming out. Apes has been rebooted twice and spans seven films with an eighth, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, currently in theaters. Incredibly, in terms of story the current series of films ties in with the original.
Charlton Heston as Taylor
Planet of the Apes started in 1968 with an anti-hero fighting for mankind and now that plot has come full circle with another anti-hero in the new films not fighting for mankind but apekind. In the first film Charlton Heston plays George Taylor, an astronaut on a mission to explore deep space who accidentally crashes on a far-off planet thousands of years in his future. On this strange planet Taylor finds that the people there are like the animals and it’s the apes that are the top species on the planet and hold dominion over the men.
Taylor, who lost everything in the crash including his ship, is found by the apes and is thought to be an abomination, a thinking man that can speak. In Ape City Taylor, who’s from, no kidding, Fort Wayne, Indiana, must defend himself on trial for being a freak where if found guilty the punishment is a lobotomy.
In all this Taylor isn’t the hero. Back home he was a guy who didn’t particularity fit in with anyone or like the human race. In many ways he was using this millennia long journey in a rocketship to escape the worst of humanity. But what he finds on this world of apes is much worse than he left. He left a planet where people starved and mankind made war with mankind. What Taylor found in the stars was a race of man that had devolved to the point where they were treated like vermin, something to be trapped and shot for eating crops.
1968 Planet of the Apes
He’s the last guy you’d expect/want defending mankind’s legacy but it’s exactly that task that falls on Taylor.
Four sequels would follow this original, with the series slowly devolving into more action-adventure fare than focusing on one man defending the legacy of mankind. There was also a series reboot by Tim Burton in 2001 that didn’t find much traction but another reboot a decade later titled Rise of the Planet of the Apes would.
In that movie the character of Caesar is an anti-hero too, just not a human one.
The apes revolt in Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Here, Caesar, a chimpanzee played by motion capture specialist Andy Serkis, is given a treatment in utero that makes him as smart as any man. Raised by his creator Will Rodman (James Franco) in secret, as Caesar grows to adulthood and gains in intelligence he realizes that the treatment apes receive at the hands of man is unacceptable and leads an simian revolt to escape from our cities and live in the wilds of the countryside.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes poster
Which doesn’t sound too anti-hero to me, except that Caesar is leading the revolt against all mankind, good and bad, and the drug that causes the apes to gain in intelligence also has the by product of killing most people who are exposed to it.
It would be easy to twist the story of Rise of the Planet of the Apes around so that Caesar comes off as the villain, not the hero, since he’s the leader in the start of the destruction of mankind. And that’s why I think that movie’s so interesting. Take a step back from Rise and you realize that the movie marks the holocaust of most of mankind and us losing our position as top species on the planet to a bunch of dirty apes. It’s a horrifying idea, yet by the end of that movie we’re rooting for Caesar and his posse of apes to escape San Francisco to the safety of the nearby forest.
The newest Dawn of the Planet of the Apes takes place a decade after Rise when mankind is all but ruined and must seek help from the apes. Which, oddly enough was also the plot to the last of the first apes films Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973).