Monday, November 6, 2017

Billy Batson is cast!

Today it was announced that Disney Channel actor Asher Angel has been cast as Billy Batson. It is somewhat surprising and kind of ironic an actor from the Disney organization has been tapped to play DC's Captain Marvel alter ego. In the last couple days, reports surfaced that 20 year old Grace Fulton is in negotiations to play an unnamed role heavily rumored to be Mary Batson, and Mark Strong is in negotiations to play Dr. Sivana.  Regarding the Mark Strong reports, I am somewhat discontent considering he is 6 foot 1 and if he is cast opposed to a more traditional pick like Jackie Earle Haley or Michael D. Cohen or even Joe Pesci or Martin Short, then it seems like further confirmation this will be a Curse of Shazam movie.  Stay tuned for more casting reports as they occur.

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Friday, November 3, 2017

movie review: THOR RAGNAROK

After the dismal Nolan-wannabe film Thor The Dark World , Thor Ragnarok is like the rebirth of the Joel Schumacher style of superhero movies. Director Taika Waititi not only channels Schumacher, but also Tim Story (despite the amount of hate his Fantastic Four movies get, they were the blueprint or prototype for the MCU), and even a bit of William Dozier.  With Ragnarok, camp is back and it is back with a bang. Such high camp, that Cate Blanchett, who plays Hela, and Jeff Goldblum, who plays the Grandmaster, could have very well stepped right out of a third season episode of Dozier's Batman TV series or Schumacher's Batman & Robin. But despite all this... or maybe because of it, Ragnorok is actually a very entertaining movie.  You could say it is the "Anti-Snyder" super hero movie.

Way back when the first Thor movie was released, lamenting that the filmmakers jettisoned the Dr Donald Blake aspect, and Thor's helmet, I said Thor's two biggest gimmicks were his hammer and helmet. Well, now they also got rid of his hammer, and shaved his head for good measure. But before the hammer goes bye-bye, there is one cool transformation reminiscent of the classic Blake into Thor transformation.

A cornerstone of the MCU movies is that they really are no longer solo movies, but all team ups to some extent, and here we have the Hulk essentially the co-star of Ragnarok, a nod to Thor's very first live action incarnation, in the TV special The Incredible Hulk Returns. Intentional or not, Hemsworth even briefly wears a helmet that looks just like the one worn by Eric Alan Kramer.

Like all recent superhero movies, the script tells a non-linear story that jumps all over the place and sometimes loses the viewer, but the entertainment factor here negates any flaws in the script. Basically, the plot deals with Thor's older sister Hela attempting to take over Asgard, while Thor and Loki end up trapped on Sakaar and have to deal with the Grandmaster and the hedonistic society he has set up. We find out where the Hulk has been since Avengers Age of Ultron, and we are introduced to Valkyrie, played wonderfully by Tessa Thompson.  They ultimately team up to go against the Grandmaster, then go after Hela.  There are also cameos by Doctor Strange and Black Widow. With better CGI than Schumacher or Story ever had, Waititi keeps the pace up and makes this warehouse rave of a movie consistent and avoids sluggish moments. Chris Hemsworth really shines as a comedic and campy Thor. The more comedic the character is, the more natural and engaging he is in the role, compared to his phoned-in performance for overly grim and serious The Dark World.  The lightning aura that emits from Thor could pose a problem for David F. Sandberg if he wants to do a similar effect with Captain Marvel, as he could be accused of copying.

Tom Hiddleson continues to make Loki walk a tightrope between hero and villain (I expect Dwayne Johnson to take a similar if more brutal route with Black Adam), and Mark Ruffalo returns as the Hulk and Bruce Banner. Also be on the lookout for a WTF cameo by Matt Damon. This is easily the most enjoyable of the Thor movies, but if you are someone who hated Schumacher's Batman movies or Story's Fantastic Four movies, you might have a hard time enjoying Ragnarok.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Captain Marvel is cast!

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the role of Captain Marvel (or Shazam II, depending on who you ask) has been cast.  Zachary Levi won the role.  He is someone I never considered, and seems to be a choice out of left field. Such a casting strategy hit it big back in the 1980s when Michael Keaton was cast against type as The Batman, so hopefully this too will capture lightning in a bottle, if you pardon the expression.  According to Umberto Gonzalez, the other four finalists for the role were my top choice Derek Theler, plus Zane Holtz, Billy Magnussen, and Jake McDorman. We should be getting other casting news soon, and hopefully confirmation if this indeed will be a Captain Marvel movie, or a Curse of Shazam movie. David F. Sandberg has said on a couple occasions, of the two camps of fans, the classic Fawcett fans, and the Geoff Johns/Curse fans, one camp will be disappointed in the movie.

UPDATE:  Levi posted a statement where he calls the character Captain Marvel.

UPDATE: On October 31, 2018, it was announced Dwayne Johnson's Black Adam movie has hired comedy writer-producer Adam Sztykiel to pen the script, leading to speculation it will have a comedic tone, like Johnson's recent projects Baywatach, Jumanji, and Central Intelligence.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Andy Fish's Batman '66 prequel

As most of my readers know, I was somewhat critical of DC's Batman '66 series, in that I felt it followed too much in the footsteps of the awful third season, and did not try hard enough to capture the spirit of the excellent first season. I was also very vocal about DC getting comic book artist-writer Andy Fish, who is a 1966 Batman fan who sees the series much as I do in regards to what worked, and why it went off the tracks, to work on the comic book version. Well, so far, DC hasn't wised up yet, but Mr Fish is posting his own independent Batman '66 prequel, Sinister Sideshow of Dr Scorpio, which can be read on several platforms, including

Set in 1964, Dick Grayson has just become Bruce Wayne's ward, and it looks like Batman is new to his crusade against crime.  One of the best surprises so far happens in episode 3, where it is revealed Captain Marvel is Gotham's pre-Batman protector.
Andy, who is also a superhero serial buff (and as an aside, also be sure to check out his serial inspired 1940s take on Batman, The Death Ray of Hugo Strange which can be read at the same website), has based this take on Captain Marvel on the 1941 serial, which explains how he is a bit older, and has been in action before Batman.  He appears to be drawn as a combination of Tom Tyler and Fred MacMurray.
I am looking forward to see how the relationship between Batman and Captain Marvel develops. I would like to see an actual DC comic book series with this premise. Considering how Inspector Basch was set up in the pilot episode to be a recurring character that never panned out, I am curious to see if Andy will give a backstory to that character. I can't wait to read more chapters and I urge all the readers of this blog to check it out.

Review: Three Stooges Halloween Stoogetacular

The latest in American Mythology's series of Three Stooges one-shots is the second with a Halloween theme.  It features two new stories and a reprint from the 1960s. The new stories are both written by S.A. Check and drawn by Brendan and Brian Fraim. The first story is a period piece set in the 1800s, and is more in the spirit of the classic two-reelers than the stories in some of the immediate previous issues. The boys are traveling peddlers trying to sell their new invention, a brush that cleans teeth, when they come across a Hammer Studios inspired Dr Frankenstein, and his creature, who looks a lot like Shemp. The second story is done in the style of the boys more experimental shorts, like Cuckoo on a Choo Choo and Gypped in the Penthouse where the Stooges are not a team.  This one also features Shemp in a much more substantial role.  The focus is on Larry's bizarre travels. I really like having Shemp making appearances in these stories.  Perhaps we can also get some appearances by Ted Healy and maybe even a Joe Besser cameo.  We don't need Joe DeRita, since he is featured in the reprints. Speaking of the reprints, the one in this issue is typical in that it has a very good script, but the art is on the crude side.  This issue earns an A-.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Billy Batson audition tapes

The Omega Underground website has posted some Billy Batson audition tapes. You can see them (potential script spoilers included) by clicking here.  Of a slight concern is that the script they are working from seems to have quite a bit of Curse of Shazam influence to it, with the reference to a council of wizards, and an allusion to the foster family.  But, it seems like the Billy Batson character is in line with the traditional version, and does not seem to be the jerk as seen in Curse. I am kind of hoping this is not the actual movie screenplay, but rather something tossed together culled from the rejected Bill Birch-Geoff Johns script just for the audition process, or if it is the current script, an early draft that has since been, or is the process of, being polished and tweaked.

Jeremy Michael Lanuti's Billy Batson audition
UPDATE: Just a few hours after being posted, the videos were locked with passwords. A tape of Parker Young reading for the role of Captain Marvel was also briefly available before being shut down with a password, although Heroic Gateway was able to copy a part of it.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Things just got interesting...

Just when it looked like Derek Theler was out of consideration for the role of Captain Marvel, due to his signing on to play Mr Immortal in the upcoming MCU TV series New Warriors, he has hinted at having an audition in a Snapchat post.
The lightning bolt symbol seems to indicate he may still be up for the role of Captain Marvel despite being signed on to a rival MCU production.  Perhaps he may be the first actor to simultaneously play characters in MCU and DCEU franchises.  Ironically, I believed that honor would most likely go to Dwayne Johnson, whom in addition to playing Black Adam, I was sure he would also sign on to play Namor the Sub-Mariner for the MCU.  But perhaps the failure of his Baywatch remake threw cold water on that idea.
Also of significance is Theler and David F. Sandberg have been liking each other's posts across Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram, and Theler has begun to follow several key DCEU people.

And speaking of Sandberg, he has continued to post daily Instagram updates of the movie's progress in a way only he can.
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Of note is classic Captain Marvel beating the crap out of New52 Shazam.  Related to this is that New Line released a synopsis and a Billy Batson casting call that both use the name "Captain Marvel" (although some sources later said these releases are fake). Also you can see an Elvis cartoon on the wall, hopefully a sign negotiations are going on to have Elvis recordings on the film's soundtrack.  Yes, things are getting interesting.