I was digging through some old files on my computer when I came across a piece I pitched to CBR during my brief freelance jaunt, but couldn’t follow through on due to my employment at Dark Horse. Luckily, I wrote an initial draft so it was all ready to be adapted for blogging…
HOLLYWOOD OVERHAUL: A RUNDOWN OF THE COMIC FLICKS THAT NEED TO BE FIXED WITH A RECASTING AND RELAUNCH
Over the past few years, with the success of “Iron Man,” “The Incredible Hulk” and DC’s continuous slew of animated straight-to-DVD movies, it’s become pretty clear that Hollywood has finally gotten its act together when it comes to doing justice to comic books on the big screen. Now it’s time to revisit and rectify the sins of past—those terrible entries into the lexicon of comic book film history—and here’s exactly how the big shots in Tinseltown can do it.
The pitch: After wrapping his lengthy and celebrated run on “Doctor Who,” David Tennant takes a dark turn from the loveable and quirky role of The Doctor and trades Daleks and time travel for demons and drug abuse in a remake of “Constantine.”
Why it would work: Tennant’s Doctor was a normally jolly Time Lord, but one with a hell of an angry streak when pushed too far. That, coupled with the chops he demonstrated as the crazy and villainous Barty Crouch Junior in “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” make him an ideal choice for the antihero Hellblazer. Oh, he’s also British, thus ensuring that Constantine’s new film adventures take place in his comic book stomping ground of London.
The nerd sell: After his massive “Doctor Who” success, Tennant’s ability to pull the sci-fi crowd make him a natural choice for a comic flick. Plus, he’s acted alongside enough CG characters and actors clad in an uncanny amount of prosthetics to jump into any on-film demon confrontation with ease. Plus, he’s previously proven he can pull off the trench coat—give him a cigarette and spellbook in place of his sonic screwdriver and he’s good to go.
HOWARD THE DUCK
The pitch: A modern satire in the Steve Gerber tradition, this raunchy remake will have the detective duck following a case through the worst America has to offer—nudey bars, bloody shootouts, drug deals, backroom politics and human trafficking—all shedding a sarcastic and dark humor-infused light on the depravity of society with the foul-mouthed fowl given voice by Paul Giamatti!
Why it would work: Not only has Giamatti done the comic-centric voiceover gig with Mike Mignola’s “The Amazing Screw-On Head,” he’s also a hilarious Oscar-nominated actor. Modern special effects could whip up a cigar-chomping duck that would put George Lucas’ puppet to shame, but with the Disney/Marvel merger, Howard may best be reincarnated as the first filthy Pixar flick. Slap enough F-words and the first CG animated strip club on a side-splitting script and the hype around the first NC-17 comic book movie will be enough for a massive box office based on curiosity alone.
The nerd sell: With an intelligent enough story and razor-sharp dialogue, this could be a commentary on society as inappropriate and on point as “South Park” but with the comic connection to really drive fanboys into a frenzy.
The pitch: Everybody’s got vampire fever nowadays, so why not give comic fans a revamp of Marvel’s premiere slayer? Take back the vamp genre from the “Twilight” crowd and bring back the action and romanticism to devoted horror fans with a dark superheroic flick featuring plenty of the uber-popular bloodsuckers in the hands of Marvel Studios!
Why it would work: Right now, everything that drinks AB positive is hotter than a lava flow and adding a ninja-like half-vamp armed to the teeth with swords and machine guns is only going to make things better. Blade’s a comic property that already has a successful film franchise fanbase to back it up, put any young, athletic dude in shades and a leather jacket and he can bring the badass back to the vampire genre while still delivering a little forbidden love for the non-comic reading ladies in the audience.
(Sorry folks, I honestly couldn’t come up with a good casting call for this, though I do think “Blade” is set to be redone. I could see maybe Djimon Hounsou but would prefer someone more like Chiwetel Ejiofor in the role, though I’d save Ejiofor for Black Panther as he’s perfect for T’Challa. So long as we steer clear of a Marlon Wayans a la “G.I. Joe” and maybe shoot for younger than Wesley Snipes in “Blade,” there’s a lot of potential here.)
The nerd sell: Deliver a hot young cast and a script that stays true to the source material and you’ve got a movie that comic fan fathers can take their teenage daughters to where everyone goes home happy.
The pitch: Instead of being a ludicrous acting vehicle for Shaquille O’Neal, this movie can flesh out a side character—and hero in his own right—while establishing a new and set Metropolis up for forthcoming Superman and Supergirl relaunches. But, even more than that, it could be a well-acted superhero flick of an Iron Man-esque nature if “The Wire” and “RockNRolla’s” Idris Elba were cast as John Henry Irons.
Why it would work: America has been warmed up to the idea of the tin-canned Superman via “Iron Man,” and putting an actor with some serious drama and comedy chops (Aside from “The Wire,” Elba did a seven-episode stint on “The Office.”) can not only establish its own franchise but pave the way for the future of Big Blue on the big screen. Besides, flying around a city and whacking aliens with a hammer would make a brilliant popcorn flick!
The nerd sell: Though the plot of this new Steel would stand alone as it’s own epic, the amount of tidbits and Easter eggs that could be inserted into this Metropolis film could literally drive comic fans crazy with excitement. This would, of course, depend on DC Entertainment setting up a thought out plan for the Superman-verse much like “Iron Man” helped established for Marvel Studios movie-verse, but that foresight alone—not to mention glimpses of the Daily Planet and possibly Lex Luthor—would be the teases that win over the panel-loving populace.
The pitch: In a first, an animated flick is entered as one installment of a series of films taking place within a comic book movie universe—think different comic artists with different styles, but more drastic, yet still telling a story of a character in that universe. Now, add legendary animated movie guru Hayao Miyazaki (“Spirited Away,” “Ponyo”) as the man to magically introduce Supergirl’s origin and it doesn’t seem like such a kooky plan.
Why it would work: Keeping the budget lower than it would be with a CG-infused live action film, Miyazaki can easily make Supergirl’s origin fun for adult comic die-hards and kids across the globe before her eventual introduction into live action. Sure to be a success thanks to Miyazaki alone, make the titular Kryptonian’s voice an actress set to play the heroine a year or two after this animated adventure comes out and the buzz surrounding any Metropolis-based flick will be huge.
The nerd sell: Assuming geeking out over Miyazaki’s take on the DCU isn’t enough, consider that animation will literally allow the Girl of Steel to take on any foe the legendary director can conjure up alongside an entire stable of DC villains. Toss in a tease about a follow-up solo adventure where Miyazaki takes Supergirl into the future to hang with the Legion of Super Heroes and comic fans will surely flip!
Initially, this article was planned as one of a series. However, I had only done a rough draft of these films. I have a whole list of movies I’d love to see redone, so I may deliver my thoughts on those later. Either way, I hope you folks concur on these. If not or if so, let me know what you think below.