|OLD-TIME RADIO AND COMICS HEROES BURST BACK ONTO THE SCENE!03/28/12 @ 4:15 pm EST
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Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? (Hint: The guy dresses up in a cape and runs around at night. And it's not Batman.)
DAVID AYER SHOOTS DOWN RUMOR THAT JOKER IS ACTUALLY JASON TODD07/26/16 @ 3:41 pm EST
The Shadow still knows — as do Flash Gordon, the Lone Ranger, the Green Hornet and other heroes of 1930s and '40s radio shows, pulp magazines and movie serials.
These good guys are making a comeback, though mainly in comics and feature-length movies. Next month, The Shadow receives a comics reboot courtesy of Dynamite Entertainment, which also publishes ongoing series starring Flash Gordon and Green Hornet plus a new title with pulp hero The Spider that's due in May.
On the big screen, a masked Seth Rogen stung bad guys in last year's The Green Hornet. And in The Lone Ranger, in production for release in 2013, Armie Hammer rides tall as the title cowboy with Johnny Depp as his sidekick Tonto. Baby Boomers grew up watching the Clayton Moore TV series in the '50s, although the saga began as a 1933 radio show in Detroit.
Though these characters may not be as well known as today's comic-book superheroes or the Star Wars and Harry Potter clans, they were the bee's knees for a generation that was decades away from the Internet and iPods.
Before Batman, there was the alter ego Lamont Cranston donning the shadowy mask and hat while haunting radio waves as The Shadow, voiced by Orson Welles in the late '30s.
And before Superman and Captain America there was Flash Gordon, an all-American space adventurer who tussled with planetary tyrant Ming the Merciless in sci-fi comic strips by Alex Raymond and serial films starring Buster Crabbe.
"The '20s and '30s are seen as a very romantic age, with the criminal underworld of urban America and high adventure of exotic foreign locations providing a bit of an edge," says Garth Ennis, who is writing the new Shadow comic. "The reality, I'm sure, would have been mostly a lot more mundane and occasionally quite grim."
He's crafting The Shadow as a dangerous champion of law and order with a flair for the dramatic, and he is embracing one of the vigilante's oldest and most famous traits: his habit of laughing as he consigns his enemies to their doom.
"I decided to be fairly sparing with it," Ennis says. "If he started howling every time he threw a punch or fired a shot, it would get old fast. So I decided to preserve the laugh for moments of deep, dark, extreme humor."
His take on The Shadow comic is a bloody affair, where the mysterious figure dispatches bad guys with violent aplomb. More than 70 years ago, though, audiences had to visualize with their imagination what was going on during the radio-show exploits.
The popularity of the old Shadow and Green Hornet radio shows and their ilk in their heyday is best compared to programs children flock to today, such as Hannah Montana and Dora the Explorer, says Martin Grams Jr., a radio-show historian and author.
Back then, kids and adults would read books, pulps and comics because they were a cheap form of entertainment, and radio was an even bigger medium because it was free.
Some adaptations tank
While movies measure success with box-office receipts, commercial sponsors would gauge ratings of radio shows based on the number of giveaway premiums offered during the commercial breaks — such as various Lone Ranger rings and badges. They were then used to persuade sponsors to stick around because of a large listener base.
It wasn't just kids, either. Housebound and disabled people "who couldn't go visit their local movie theater had the opportunity to enjoy action and adventure with the turn of their dial," Grams says.
"The business of pop culture was defined during the 1930s and 1940s when movie producers snatched up the screen rights to popular radio programs and produced motion pictures, serials and film shorts based on the properties."
Since then, movie studios, TV networks and comics publishers have attempted adaptations of those characters, with varying results.
The Lone Ranger TV series began in 1949, ran eight seasons and defined the character for many. Flash Gordon sped off to space with live-action and animated shows, and a 1980 film became a cult classic with Sam Jones clad in a white shirt bearing the word "Flash."
But two more recent movies, The Shadow (1994) with Alec Baldwin and the 1996 Billy Zane vehicle The Phantom (based on the comic strip from the '30s), were not exactly heroic at the box office. And Disney's new big-budget John Carter, based on the Edgar Rice Burroughs pulp sci-fi hero, has thus far tanked.
"My theory is that modern audiences have a hard time accepting un-ironic heroism unless it's presented just right," says Eric Trautmann, writer of Dynamite's Flash Gordon: Zeitgeist series. (A devotee of the era, Trautmann has a Maltese Falcon on his desk, a statue of Humphrey Bogart as Sam Spade, a Buck Rogers blaster and a replica 1930s radio.)
He concedes that pulp is difficult to write because it requires a certain innocence. Nazis show up in his series, but when they're the evil-doers du jour, modern audiences can't help but think of the Holocaust, "a sort of demise of innocence for the Western world." That makes it a lot harder to take the proceedings seriously.
'We're all geeks in a way'
"The obvious inclination is to keep things a little more self-referential and cartoony, tongue firmly in cheek," Trautmann says, "and that kind of thing really works against the story, the character, and readers' and viewers' embracing the tale."
Those characters of yesteryear, however, remain important in the history of pop-culture heroes, says comic-book artist Alex Ross, one of the creative spearheads of Dynamite's pulp series.
"Seeing how a character like The Shadow would influence every other flamboyant costumed hero in history was very interesting to me," he says. "A load of the earliest superhero fashions came from the artists swiping from Alex Raymond's Flash Gordon."
Heroic fiction draws from a lot of the same wells. Without John Carter in 1917, Trautmann feels we probably don't get Flash Gordon in 1934, a quintessentially American protagonist whose "unflappable 'can do' attitude and unshakable optimism would resonate in almost any era." Without Flash, there's no Luke Skywalker or Han Solo in Star Wars, and without that, we don't get Avatar.
"Even Star Trek owes a debt to period literature —Captain Kirk as Horatio Hornblower in space," Trautmann says. "Heroic fiction shares those archetypes and themes, so that influence is probably so ingrained now that a modern practitioner might not even be aware of what influenced the sources he or she is drawing inspiration from."
Affection for heroic pulp specifically — as with old-school sci-fi, fantasy and mystery stories — seems to be cyclical, Trautmann says. But the resurgence of these characters is also being helped by an overall nostalgia for the early- to mid-20th century, from Boardwalk Empire to Mad Men.
"It's been a rough decade or two," he says. "Looking back on what seems to be a simpler, less complicated time is certainly appealing."
Curiosity and a drive to seek knowledge are probably the main reasons people like to revisit historic pop culture, Grams says.
"We're all geeks in a way, trying to intake all the information we can on a comic-book character or movie, then digest, then recollect to friends to show how much more we know than they do."
The historian enjoys seeing kids introduced to heroes that were a seminal part of their grandparents' lives. He says it's a good bet they know tons more about The Hunger Games and Twilight than old Shadow magazine tales, and have no idea of the existence of Lone Ranger radio shows of yore.
"In my experience," Ennis says, "these characters tend to be pretty strong to begin with: They go through periods of revival, then slump due to overindulgence, then lie dormant, then undergo the next revival. But they always come back."
And, Grams notes, "the oldies are still the goodies."
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"CAPTAIN MARVEL" WRITER DECONNICK COMMENTS ON BRIE LARSON CASTING 07/26/16 @ 3:34 pm EST
There were a lot of theories heading into "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice," and one of them caught a lot more traction among some circles because of its fascinating possibility: What if the Joker was actually a corrupted version of the second Robin, Jason Todd? We can now say that the rumor is definitely false, as confirmed by "Suicide Squad" director David Ayer.
Todd, in the comics, died at the hands (or crowbar, rather) of the Joker in the "Death of a Family" storyline. The rumor suggested that Jared Leto's Joker may have survived the assault, and driven mad, took up the guise of the Clown Prince of Crime. For evidence, fans of the theory pointed to Joker's cryptic tattoos as a sign, and took the following quote from Ben Affleck in "Batman v Superman" to back up the theory: "20 years in Gotham, how many good guys are left? How many stayed that way?"
While it's fun to think the theory is plausible, it's definitely not the case. Doing press for "Suicide Squad," Ayer was asked (via Chris Van Vliet) which "Suicide Squad" rumor he thought was the craziest. Ayer replied, "That the Joker is Jason Todd. It ain’t the case -- he’s not."
Check out Ayer's remarks (around the 3:25 mark) in the video here: https://youtu.be/xSSNk5FZ2Jg
"Suicide Squad," based on the DC Comics team and starring Jared Leto as the Joker, Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, Will Smith as Deadshot, Jai Courtney as Captain Boomerang, Cara Delevingne as Enchantress, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Killer Croc, Karen Fukuhara as Katana, Joel Kinnaman as Rick Flag, Jay Hernandez as El Diablo and Adam Beach as Slipknot, is scheduled for release on Aug. 5, 2016.
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MATT RYAN IS JOHN CONSTANTINE IN "JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK" FIRST LOOK07/26/16 @ 3:29 pm EST
In front of a massive 6,000 person crowd in the infamous Hall H at Comic-Con International in San Diego, Marvel Studios announced that Brie Larson would be playing Carol Danvers in 2018's "Captain Marvel" film. The announcement was met with mostly positive buzz both in San Diego and online, yet some skeptics questioned the choice. Former "Captain Marvel" writer Kelly Sue DeConnick recently weighed in on the decision.
DeConnick was the first writer to put Carol Danvers -- formerly the superhero known as Ms. Marvel -- into the Captain's chair when she wrote a new "Captain Marvel" series for Marvel Comics in 2012. In a new interview with "Bitch Planet," but she still has some ideas about how Carol should look in costume on the big screen. "I love the helmet! That is not a universal opinion. After we left the book, they got rid of the helmet," said DeConnick. "I have a lot of boring continuity arguments on the history of the helmet and a list of reasons as to why the helmet exists. I want the helmet!"
Marvel's "Captain Marvel" flies into theaters July 6, 2018.
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'JASON BOURNE' SHOULD LEAD BOX OFFICE07/26/16 @ 3:25 pm EST
A first look at Warner Bros. Animation's upcoming "Justice League Dark" animated film has surfaced online.
Check out the new "Justice League Dark" video here: https://youtu.be/cddLDL_kKOU
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WHEDON, TANCHAROEN REVEAL HOW "AGENTS OF SHIELD" WILL MERGE SCIENCE & MAGIC07/26/16 @ 3:18 pm EST
This weekend, moviegoers will get their choice of three new films — the actionerJason Bourne, t
he comedy Bad Moms
and the thriller Nerve.
All are said to be decent films. First off, Jason Bourne
returns with a vengeance this year, pulling together the combo of Matt Damon and director Paul Greengrass for the first time in nine years, and the industry is expecting a good turnout.
Universal is releasing the picture on the same date Paramount did last year forMission: Impossible – Rogue Nation,
which at the time looked like $35M on tracking and then ended up grossing $55.5M for its three-day weekend. Jason Bourne
is tracking the same way as Rogue Nation,
and Deadline expects an equally big opening on what is the fifth installment of the action franchise which is said to be higher in advanced ticket sales to Rogue Nation
. We are also taking into account that Damon generates a better box office than Jeremy Renner, who starred last time out.
The film, which also stars Alicia Vikander, Julia Stiles and Tommy Lee Jones, opens at 7 PM Thursday in previews.The film is coming four years after Renner-toplining The Bourne Legacy
. The actioner also opens in 46 territories this weekend including Australia, Brazil, South Korea and the UK and Ireland. The original group of Bourne
films did better domestically than internationally, but when China’s ears perked up, everything changed. Jason Bourne
is also expected to suck the demo out of this past weekend’s openerStar Trek Beyond
which could drop 60% in its sophomore frame.
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DIDIO & LEE SAYS DC WILL TAKE THE TIME TO DO "WATCHMEN"/REBIRTH STORY 'RIGHT'07/26/16 @ 3:12 pm EST
It's official: Ghost Rider will burst onto "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." this fall. However, his arrival seems like a complete change of direction for the series, which introduced Life Model Decoys (LMDs) at the end of Season 3. At Comic-Con International in San Diego, executive producers Jed Whedon andMaurissa Tancharoen tackled the subject and discussed their approach to these two disparate topics.
"You'll see this in the movies that are coming," Whedon shared. "In 'Thor,' they famously said, 'Magic is just science we don't understand.' The MCU started with 'Iron Man,' who is a guy who built a suit -- a smart guy built a suit. And then when you put Thor into that world, it started to be like, 'How are these things going to work?' And they worked! So they started to open up into the world of the fantastic, and we will be doing that this year in terms of sort of trying to blend the two and trying to see if there are things we don't understand, why, and then meanwhile we're building things that we do understand, that maybe we start to lose our understanding of them."
"[How to blend these subjects] is exactly what our team may be asking as they encounter something like Ghost Rider. We'll basically be trying to science why," Tancharoen added.
"It's the question we were asking in the room of writers on day one," Whedon agreed.
"I think that we're going to slowly start to develop some very advanced technology this season, and maybe -- as that becomes more advanced and we have strange people… possessed people -- those things somehow merge down the line," he continued.
"We've dealt with normal people who want to… be more than just a man, like Mike Peterson. With Coulson, he has a robot hand," Tancharoen explained. "Then we meet [Holden] Radcliffe, who's definitely into body modifications. This is just sort of a progression and extension of that."
Head of Marvel Television Jeph Loeb also addressed the "Squadron Supreme" Easter egg in the Season 3 finale, where Holden Radcliffe named his LMD AIDA, after Tom Thumb's AI in the cult classic comic series.
Asked if Season 4 would include any other elements from the 1985 miniseries by Mark Gruenwald, Bob Hall and Paul Ryan, Loeb offered an uncharacteristically brief response: "Let's just say nothing is off the table."
Starring Clark Gregg, Chloe Bennet and Ming-Na Wen, "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D" returns Tuesday, September 20 at 10 pm EST on ABC.
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NEW RIVERDALE STILL FEATURES K.J. APA AS ARCHIE ANDREWS & LUKE PERRY AS FRED ANDREWS07/26/16 @ 10:19 am EST
May's "DC Universe: Rebirth" one-shot written by Geoff Johns and illustrated by Gary Frank,Ethan Van Sciver, Ivan Reis ended with a major revelation that helped propel DC Comics into its current "Rebirth" publishing era: That the ultra-powerful Dr. Manhattan ofAlan Moore and Dave Gibbons' seminal "Watchmen" series was responsible for 2011's "New 52" continuity shift by stealing five years of history for an unknown reason, and that the Comedian's smiley face button -- the most iconic piece of "Watchmen" imagery -- had somehow made its way into the Batcave.
That was both a major surprise -- despite residing under the same corporate ownership, there had never even been hints of interaction between the world of "Watchmen" and the DC Universe before -- and a controversial move, given the vocal disdain that Moore has had for any subsequent "Watchmen"-related projects. Early "Rebirth" comics -- namely "The Flash" and "Titans" -- have included some follow-up to the development, but it was said from the start that it'll likely be a while before the story is fully explored. According to DC Co-Publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee at Comic-Con International in San Diego last week, they're waiting to tell that story the right way.
"When we went out and we set up Rebirth, we set up a two-year story," DiDio told CBR News during an interview at DC's booth on the Comic-Con floor. "A lot of the questions that are out there will be answered during that two-year plan. The goal is not to answer every question in the beginning, but to roll things out and continue to excite people all the way through. You'll see a lot of twists and turns coming out over the next year or so that will get you to, hopefully, where you want to be."
As Lee told it, despite being introduced in the "DC Universe: Rebirth" one-shot, "Watchmen" seeping into the DCU is effectively separate from the stated main goal of the Rebirth relaunch, which is getting DC's core superheroes back to more engaging and recognizable depictions.
"It's not like the success of Rebirth or the whole creative positioning of Rebirth swings off the revelation of that meeting, or the hint of the meeting," Lee told CBR. "It's almost independent of what Geoff did in the Rebirth special. In a sense, you don't have that ticking clock of, 'What is behind all these teases?' The books really have gone back to the core conceits of the characters, and constructed the most idealized versions of these characters and their continuities moving forward. That gives us the time to do Geoff's story right."
"Time to do Geoff's story right" certainly suggests that Johns himself will be the writer to finish the story he set up in the "Rebirth" one-shot. That likely also gives some insight into timing, as the writer/DC Entertainment Chief Creative Officer has said that, due to his increasingly busy schedule -- including, as widely reported, a leadership role with DC Films -- the "Rebirth" one-shot will be the last comic book he'll write for the foreseeable future.
This past weekend at Comic-Con, Johns told fans during a Rebirth-focused panel that the one-shot would be his last comic "for a while." "I've never been nervous about a comic book coming out before, but I was nervous for this one," Johns told the crowd.
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KATANA IS THE DEADLIEST MEMBER OF THE SUICIDE SQUAD07/26/16 @ 10:15 am EST
Even though Riverdale
won't premiere until next year, The CW Television Network was nice enough to release a new official still from its pilot.
The image features a new look at K.J. Apa as the iconic redheaded-teenager, Archie Andrews, and our first look at Luke Perry as his easygoing father, Fred Andrews. Trying to sell us on their familial relationship, the actors are sporting matching outfits, which consist of a navy blue blazer, light-blue dress shirt, and blue jeans.
Based on the dark clothes and somber expressions they are wearing, along with a police car in the background and the fact that Mary Andrews hasn't been cast in the show, could this be a funeral for Archie's mother?
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JAI COURTNEY IS PRACTICALLY PLAYING HIMSELF AS CAPTAIN BOOMERANG07/26/16 @ 10:11 am EST
There's no doubt that Katana is a lethal fighter. She's an exquisite martial artist and swordswoman. And like any good hero, she has a painful and tragic backstory. How much of it will we see in the film? That hasn't been revealed, but we do know that she will be a widow and communicate with her dead husband via Soultaker, the mystical sword that traps the souls of its victims.
The threat of having your soul stuck in a sword for eternity makes Katana a very scary member of the Suicide Squad, but Karen Fukuhara, the 24-year-old actress playing the character, believes it is Katana's lack of concern for her own well-being that makes her the deadliest team member.
"I think she is the deadliest. Yeah. She is the deadliest. Yeah," Fukuhara told Comicbook.com and other press during aSuicide Squad
set visit. "Fact. I could fight it with you. Her character, she's not into fighting for herself. That's the giri-ninjo part; it's for someone else. When someone doesn't care about her own well being, to kill someone else, and to protect someone, that makes her the scariest one, because she doesn't ... Try fighting someone that doesn't care about what the outcome is for them. You're going against someone that is going to give it their all, no matter how many times you shoot at them, and that's why she's so badass and awesome."
What also makes Katana stand out from the rest of the team is that she's not a villain. She volunteered to be there. "She's the protector of Rick Flag," Fukuhara explained, "so I'd like to think she's still one of the only characters that's so-called good or heroic."
How well does Katana interact with the other Suicide Squad members? "Throughout the movie, it grows," Fukuhara shared. "In the beginning it's not so friendly. She's her own person, she's a lone wolf. I think by the end of it she finds her family and that's her story and her journey to overcome trust issues as well, in becoming a part of a team and a squad, per se."
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POKEMON GO PLAYER SHOOTS WOULD-BE ROBBER07/26/16 @ 10:06 am EST
Like many foreign actors working in Hollywood, Jai Courtney has often spoken with an American accent while appearing in American-produced films, such as Jack Reacher, A Good Day to Die Hard, Terminator Genisys,
and the Divergent
film series. But because his Suicide Squad
character, Captain Boomerang (a.k.a. Digger Harkness), is from Australia as well, Courtney was able to utilize his natural accent. On top of that, Courtney was encouraged by director David Ayer (Fury
) to be his zany self, which we usually only get to see when the 30-year-old thespian is taking part in an interview.
"It's funny because it's, yeah, I mean there's something kind of interesting about, you know, I feel closer to this than anything else," Courtney admitted to ComicBook.com and other press at a Suicide Squad
set visit, "but from a sort of performance perspective I mean it may feel like, I mean it's more of a character than anything I've had the opportunity to take on. It's actually closer to myself than any other role I've ever played."
And why does he feel that way? "Because I'm a bogan piece of sh-t," he joked.
By the way, "bogan" is an Australian and New Zealand slang word used to describe a person of lower working-class background who speaks, dresses, and behaves in an unrefined or unsophisticated manner.Suicide Squad
producers Richard Suckle and Andy Horwitz also believe Courtney's version of Boomerang closely resembles the actor's genuinely outrageous personality.
"Jai Courtney, Captain Boomerang. A great actor and a great guy," Suckle praised. "One of the fun things about this character is that I've not seen every film Jai has made but I've probably seen most of them and I don't think he's ever been able to play a role that allows him to really be funny and he's incredibly funny. You can just look at him and I'm sure the way you would describe him without me telling you what he does in the movie would probably be very close to what I'm about to say. He is a wise ass. He's a hunk to a certain extent and he's got an incredible wise cracking sense of humor. At the same time, he is equally dangerous and has these very dangerous boomerangs, one of which he's holding. Now there is a boomerang that is actually a drone boomerang, which plays a role in the movie. He's just a fun character that shakes things up and also has a level of unpredictability as well."
"It's the first time Jai is really going to use his real accent in a movie, and we always say this, Jai is playing Jai," Horwitz added. "His character is based on reality in his real life. He's a whole lot of fun in real life and he's a jokester and he's constantly stirring things up."
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A shootout broke out yesterday after a man attempted to rob a group playing Pokemon Go
. The Associated Press reports that two people were injured in Las Vegas, NV when a man and an underage driver approached a group of Pokemon Go
players at a local park and demanded their possessions at gunpoint. One of the players pulled out his own concealed weapon, leading to the two exchanging gunfire.
According to the report, both the alleged robber and one of the Pokemon Go
players were injured with non-life threatening injuries. A police spokesperson said that charges are expected to be filed against the alleged robber, who was found at a local hospital, and his accomplice.
The shootout occurred at 4 AM at Gary Reese Freedom Park, a popular spot for catching Magikarp. It's unclear at this time if the alleged robber targeted the park because of Pokemon Go
, or if this was a crime of opportunity.
This isn't the first time people have tried to rob Pokemon Go
players. Earlier this month, a group of teens used Lure Modules to attract players to a parking lot near St. Louis to rob them. Those teens were quickly apprehended and arrested by police.