Toy Commercial Tuesday: More Superman Goodness

A few years back I took the time to spotlight the rad 90s Kenner Superman: The Man Of Steel line (that was probably only rad to kids like me who were HUGE Man of Steel fans). The line didn’t last very long, but it gave us some really interesting commercials. The one you see above has a lot of the same figure as seen in the previous post from four years ago, but with the added awesomeness of Superboy’s motorcycle. Why would he need one? He doesn’t! He just wants one, so take that!

Also, I dig how into it those kids are! They really nail the “Don’t Mess With The S” slogan and I’m pretty sure one of them is dressed exactly like Marty McFly in Back To The Future, so bonus points for that.

Finally, how crazy is it that Conduit has an action figure?

Geek Doc: The Death Of Superman Lives (2015)

the-death-of-superman-lives-posterDirector and documentarian Jon Schnepp asked the question many of us have been wondering since the 90s: What happened to Tim Burton’s Superman Lives? Back then, word got out that the Batman Returns helmer would put his stamp on the Man of Steel with star Nicolas Cage. Most of us didn’t hear much else aside from the film’s eventual demise, Kevin Smith’s recollection of writing the film’s first draft and later design images that would find their way online. Enter The Death Of Superman Lives: What Happened?

As the film got rolling producer Jon Peters hired a slew of people to work on the project. Smith and two other screenwriters worked on the script, Burton invested himself in the story and a variety of costume designers and artists started working on the ever-changing visual elements.

But, even with so many people working hard on the film, it ultimately fell apart. The doc doesn’t necessarily place the blame on any one individual person involved, though its hard not to put Peters’ name up there with some of the chicanery he pulled. Ultimately, though, the answer to the question posed in the title comes down to some simple facts: Burton’s weird vision made the studio nervous. That same vision also would have cost a bunch of money to bring to life and the studio eventually decided to go another direction that lead to Superman Returns.

Even so, this doc isn’t really about why Superman Lives didn’t get made, it’s about all the work that went into it while the creative people involved thought they were making it. Everyone from Peters and Smith to Burton and costume designer Colleen Atwood. It’s fascinating to see how they all attempted to bring each others’ visions to life and maybe a little tragic that it was all for nothing. Except, it’s not really for nothing because this public record of their work now exists. I think that might be the great thing about this era of “why didn’t it get made” documentaries. They take something that a lot of people put a lot of effort into and bring it to your attention, even if it’s not in the originally intended way. With that in mind, I’m even more excited about eventually seeing Doomed and the one about George Miller’s Justice League movie.

For all the effort he put into the film, I give Schnepp huge buckets of kudos. Cage is the only major player who did get interviewed for this thing, but he still shows up thanks to some filmed segments of him trying on the costumes with Atwood and Burton. Those clips really bring the whole thing together because the represent the in-the-moment as opposed to the looking-back. I’m not personally a fan of the animated sequences in the film and think it’s super awkward for the interviewer to be on camera nodding when the subject is answering questions, but altogether I can’t recommend this movie enough for anyone who’s ever been even remotely interested in Superman Lives or the process that goes into making these big, blockbuster superhero films.

Casting Internets

dan hipp superman YOU ARE MY SONI really enjoyed Man of Steel, as I wrote here, but this Dan Hipp Superman image really hits me in the heart. Well done Mr. Hipp.

I’m pretty far away from the point where I’ll snatch up an Xbox One right after it comes out — never really been that kind of gamer — but I will say that the presence of a new Star Wars: Battlefront game makes me want to eventually jump into that pool. (via Hero Complex)

Variety says a Muppets musical is in the works. That might get me back down to Broadway.

Have I talked about Homefront before? Not the show, but the film based on a book with a screenplay by Sylvester Stallone and starring Jason Statham and James Franco. Winona Ryder and Kate Bosworth are in it too. Sounds pretty interesting. (via Deadline)

mad max game

I can’t remember if we ever moved forward with it, but at one time I was dreaming up a ToyFare feature where we basically pitched various cartoon and movie properties for video game adaptation, possibly with potential genres and studios included. Mad Max wasn’t on the list, but if the game announced at E3 can combine ridiculously awesome cars with face smashing effects and imbue it all with a sense of craziness that came from the Not Quite Hollywood era of Australian film, this will be another reason for me to eventually move into the next generation of video game systems. (via Hero Complex)

Speaking of lists Brian Cronin crafted a really solid list of the 75 best Superman stories for CSBG. I have close to no experience with the Golden and Silver Age stuff, but from there on I agree with all the things.

I dug Michael May’s Robot 6 post about claiming “your” version of a fictional character that you don’t have any real ownership of. Of course it’s okay to want your version of a character and to not like when those things don’t line up. BUT, it only matters to you and not anyone else unless it gets to the point where the company is losing tons of money for severely screwing things up. In the case of Man of Steel, that ain’t the case because that movie’s making bank.

Riley rossmo jessica rabbit

RILEY ROSSMO DREW JESSICA RABBIT ON ASHCAN ALLSTARS!

Deadline says David Cross is working on a new comedy for Showtime. Great! They also say he might not star. Boo!

And finally, I leave you with the first trailer for the latest Sylvester Stallone/Arnold Schwarzenegger joint Escape Plan. I think I’d be into this movie if it was any two actors, but the fact that it’s these two old warhorses makes it all the better.

I Very Much Enjoyed Man Of Steel

man-of-steel-poster I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, getting into Superman comics in the early 90s changed my life. Finding out about the death of the icon lead me into the world of comics sparking my imagination and introducing me to a hobby I still enjoy to this day as well as a career that allows me to spend every day with my daughter while playing reporter, Clark Kent-style. But, that doesn’t mean I love everything related to the character. In fact, I’m pretty much the only person I know who doesn’t like the movie from 1978 starring Christopher Reeve. That’s just not my Superman. My Superman didn’t have quite so much goofiness. As you might expect, I’m also not a fan of Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns which suffers from not only a connection to movies I don’t like, but also creative choices that don’t service that character very well. Still, there’s great things in that movie, it’s just not a Superman story.

But, even given my mostly negative reaction to his previous film Sucker Punch, I was hopefully optimistic for Zack Snyder’s Man Of Steel. I liked what he did with Dawn Of The Dead, 300 and Watchmen, properties that I adore, have no experience with and like respectively. Plus, even though Sucker Punch was a mess, I assumed that Warner Bros. and producer Christopher Nolan would be able to temper Snyder’s whims better than he did on his own with his previous offering. Sucker Punch also looked freaking fantastic and did masterful things with CGI fight scenes that I figured would work their way into Man Of Steel.

So, when it happened that the latest Superman movie was scheduled to debut on Father’s Day weekend and my in-laws were in town, my wife decided to take me to the picture shows to celebrate the most important holiday of them all. Aside from Dark Knight Rises, I can’t remember the last movie I saw a movie in theaters, so this was a nice treat. We got there early and secured pretty good seats which was a wise call on our part because it filled up pretty quickly. I was happy to see people of all ages, even families, pouring in to watch Superman on the big screen.

And it turned out to be a great experience. The crowd mostly followed movie etiquette and also seemed to get engrossed with the film. I also have to commend the Showcase in Newburgh for having some really high quality digital projection. I’m not sure if I’ve seen a movie in theaters that looked as good as this one (outside of IMAX of course). Oh and I really enjoyed the movie itself too, which was a relief.

I’m going to throw up the SPOILER WARNING right here because I knew relatively little going into the movie and enjoyed seeing how it unfolded. So, if you don’t want to know about the flick, stop here. The story winds up covering a lot of ground, starting with Superman’s dad Jor-El trying to convince the Kryptonian council that they need to abandon their planet in order to keep the race going. Having foreseen these planetary problems well in advance Jor-El and his wife Lara decided to have a child by way of natural methods instead of the cloning processes used on the planet for centuries. In order to save their only son, Jor-El and Lara planned to launch him into space where he would land on Earth, a planet of beings physically similar to Kryptonians, but that would grant their child amazing abilities. At the same time, General Zod and his people decide to overthrow the government, but they disagree with Jor-El’s methods and there’s more conflict there. Kal-El winds up getting shot into space, Zod and his people get captured and sentenced to imprisonment in the Phantom Zone and Krypton eventually explodes.

Cut to Earth where an adult Clark Kent travels the world trying to stay anonymous, but usually breaking off to use his fantastic powers to help save people. Lois Lane winds up discovering his true identity while at the same time Zod and his fellow prisoners show up near Earth demanding they turn over Kal-El. Just before that, Clark learned his true identity, got his suit and went on to not only work alongside the U.S. government but also do his best to work with Zod, though that turned out to be less than likely thanks to Zod’s desire to terraform Earth in order to revive the Kryptonian race there. Many fights ensued.

As much as I love Superman and have what I like to call MY era of his adventures (basically post-Crisis to New 52) I enjoyed the changes that Snyder and screenwriter David S. Goyer made. It makes sense that one of the best reporters around would be able to figure out who Superman really is. That completely shifts the paradigm of the Lois and Clark relationship, but since you’re dealing with a movie instead of something more episodic like comics or TV, I think that’s a fine alteration. I also really enjoyed how human and realistic Superman is. This is a very new, young hero, one who has the ideals of the hero I know and love, but doesn’t know how to do everything all the time. He flies through buildings without checking to see if people are inside, he causes all kinds of damage to the city and, well, he does that thing at the end. An experienced Superman wouldn’t do those things, but one without any kind of real training or experience? That guy would do these things. I appreciate how it all makes sense within the confines of the story.

Of couse, it’s not a perfect film, though few are. I’m not quite sure where I fall on Michael Shannon as Zod. He was a little too “screaming evil bad guy” for my liking. The challenge whenever you’re dealing with a villain, especially one who wants to destroy our world, is making him sympathetic. And, when you really THINK about Zod, he’s sympathetic because he wants to save his people, but he doesn’t ever come across as likable or even levelheaded, so most people just dislike him, write him off as crazy and wait for the fight scenes.

And boy, are there fight scenes in this movie. It is difficult to follow them sometimes because they go by so fast. The camera also moves A LOT in this movie, like they gave the cameraman 19 extra cups of coffee before yelling “Action.” But, at the same time, we’re dealing with ridiculously fast beings instead regular humans. These scenes got a little video game-y at times, but I enjoyed them all the same. I would have liked to have seen more practical effects, but I’m not sure if that’s even possible given the way these crazy fights were mapped out.

I also had a bit of a problem with the in-your-face Jesus comparisons. In addition to being 33 (Jesus’ age when he died) and striking at least one overt on-the-cross pose, Clark also goes to a church where he talks to a priest directly in front of a stain glass window featuring Jesus. It was so on the nose that it made my eyes roll. I’m also not a fan of tying Superman to any one religion, or religion at all really. He might be his own man with his own beliefs, but he’s also supposed to be a hero of the people. You could have just as easily done that scene with him talking to anyone in the entire world. I wish they had gone that way because, as it is, that church scene feels incredibly trite.

I’m also not sure what to do with the fact that the only person in the film to bring up evolution is the most evil Kryptonian in the group: Faora. I can understand Zod’s desire to save his people, but Faora just seems to enjoy fighting and killing. She brings up evolution while talking about how the Kryptonians are going to destroy humanity and that just seemed weird to me. Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but I think there might be a pro-religion, anti-science message in this movie that I do not go in for.

Speaking of Faora, holy crap Antje Traue is a villainous treasure. She looked at every solider shooting at her like that single friend you have looking at your kid when they’re doing something cute and the friend could not be less interesting. It’s amazing. In fact, aside from my on-the-fence-ness when it comes to Shannon, I thought the casting in this movie was delightful. Henry Cavill perfectly captured Superman and Clark Kent. Plus he’s dreamy! Amy Adams nailed Lois Lane, one of the greatest ficitonal characters of all time. She might not look like the version of Lois that lives in my brain, but she matched the actions completely. It’s all good from there, too, with Diane Lane as Ma Kent, Kevin Costner as Pa, Russell Crowe as Jor-El, Ayelet Zurer as Lara and, well, literally everyone else in the cast.

Man of Steel PosterWhich is a roundabout way of bringing me to another elements of the film I enjoyed: they didn’t make a big deal about a lot of the Superman comic book elements brought into the film. Kelex is in this thing, you guys! That’s a pretty deep geek reference and yet it’s not distracting if you have no idea who or what that is. It also seemed like they didn’t refer to Metropolis as Metropolis until it was shown on a computer monitor in one of the military war rooms, but I could be wrong on that one. Ma and Pa Kent weren’t actually referred by those titles. They also didn’t try to shove too much of the relatively unimportant Daily Planet staff into the film. Since we’re dealing with a pre-Metropolis Supes here, it makes way more sense that they not be heavily featured in this film. But, it’s still great to see them doing their things and showing what to expect with potential sequels. More Jenny Olsen please!

The more I think about this movie the more I enjoy it. I stayed away from just about anything anyone was saying going in, so I’m not sure what the complaints are. I’d assume the end rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. The slowish pace of setting up yet another superhero origin on film — one that most people probably know the very basics of — also might not have sat well, but I enjoyed the slow burn. What did you guys think?

Toy Commercial Tuesday: Man Of Steel Exploders

I’m pretty excited about Man of Steel which debuts this weekend. So, I figured I’d look around for some Superman related toy commercials and was surprised to find that there aren’t that many on YouTube. I’m not sure if this one, or a version of it, is even running anywhere, but I did see the Exploders toys at a store recently, so I know that they exist. This commercial was actually posted in the fall of last year, but it certainly reflects the details we know about the film: Zod comes to Earth on the Black Zero which happens to be packed with Kryptonians loyal to him and they fight. While my personal tastes tend to veer towards more traditional action figures, I like the play value involved with these Exploders. Superman obviously doesn’t stretch (unless you’re reading wacky Silver Age stories) but it’s a cool way to get to the idea of flying through the air and smashing through bad guys and other obstacles.

Happy Birthday Superman, Thanks For Everything

superman75secondprintThere’s one event almost solely responsible for my entry into the world of comics: the death of Superman. I knew of comics before that and had a stack that a neighbor had given me, but probably knew superheroes more from their cartoon versions than anything. Then in 1993 I heard that Superman had been killed in the comics. I was shocked. You can’t kill Superman. How can you kill Superman? I had to find out.

If you were reading comics at this time, though, you’ll remember that Superman #75 was a notoriously difficult comic to get ahold of and seemed to jump way up in price as soon as it was out. But I just had to know what happened. Enter my super-supportive parents who helped me call around to every comic and used book store in the greater Toledo area until we finally found one at a random used book store that I don’t remember ever seeing before or after that fateful day. I don’t recall how much we (my parents) paid for that issue, but I hope it wasn’t too much because after getting more into comics and flipping through my collection I realized it was actually a second printing and not the unbagged newstand copy. Quick aside, after years of staring at the black-bagged version at my local comic shop and seeing the price drop to a far-more-reasonable $25 or so, I finally bought it and immediately opened it.

I don’t actually remember reading the comic itself, but it captured my imagination to the point where, over the ensuing summer, I was able to piece together most of the Doomsday story, Funeral for a Friend and the Reign of the Supermen stuff that followed. This was pre-internet, so I basically just kept a running tally of issues in my head and did my best to remember what I already had. Soon enough my mom and dad were driving me to my long-time comic book store JC’s Comic Shop just about every Wednesday so I could feed my habit. At the time I had an allowance, most of which wound up going towards my comic addiction. What started with Superman comics soon spread to Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and a host of other characters I’m still reading about to this day, though far less voraciously.

Today marks the 75 anniversary of the very first Superman comic book: Action Comics #1. While Tweeting my happy birthday wishes to the character I realized something very important: I owe much of my life to this character. By getting into comics, I not only found a hobby that I loved, but also one that helped me focus my creative ideas. I’ve wanted to write comics since I can remember and it’s something I still strive to do to this day. That focus helped me realize I wanted to be a writer which lead me to look for colleges with creative writing focuses. I wound up going to Ohio Wesleyan University where I met my wife and the mother of my child.

superman-comic-207As if that wasn’t enough (and it is), a desire to get a job in comics lead me to apply for an internship at Wizard (along with Marvel and DC who I never heard back from). The Wizard internship turned into a job that not only moved me out to New York, but also introduced me to some of the best people I’ve ever known, people that, even though none of us work for Wizard anymore, continue to be friends, editors and employers. I’m able to help support my family because of the friends I made there and the skills I developed.

I tried thinking about what my life would have been like without comics and I honestly can’t tell you. I’m sure my creative streak would have found other avenues of expression and I might have even found my way to comics without Superman, but it’s undeniable how important comic books and specifically Superman were in my life. So, with that in mind, happy birthday Supes!

Casting Internets

My buddy Brett White offered an excellent companion piece to his CBR piece about why Orson Scott Card shouldn’t be writing Superman about the real comics community. He’s right and it’s important to remember that the negative side of the internet is most often the very vocal minority.

Here’s another piece about the OSC/DC debacle from The Carnival Of The Random that explains why this is not a freedom of speech or legal issue, but a moral one.

We need more movies that utilize hyper details models instead of bad CGI. These Star Wars folks know where it’s at.

I’ve been a fan of Ashton Kutcher’s since That 70s Show, but haven’t followed him much since the series ended. It was fun catching up in this lengthy Tom Chiarella article on Esquire.

So many of Script’s 7 Deadly Dialogue Sins drive me bonkers. Worth a read for all writers.

hackers

Hackers changed my brain when it came to computers. Chris Sims’ Wired piece “What We Supposedly Learned About Technology From 1995’s Hackers” is hilarious and dead on. I can’t wait for ones about The Net and Sneakers. Damn, now I want to watch Hackers and Sneakers again…

I’m a huge fan of Todd Philips’ Old School starring Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn, so I’m pretty jazzed for their upcoming movie The Internship.

Greg Pak writes very enjoyable comics, so I’m curious to see what his first DC work Superman/Batman with Jae Lee will be like. (via USA Today)

I would very much like to see a Jay-Z/Justin Timberlake show. Anyone want to buy me tickets to the show at Yankee Stadium? (via Rolling Stone)

kirby argo

I’m gonna end with the Jack Kirby artwork that’s tied to Argo as seen on Buzzfeed. Hope that film winds up on Netflix Instant soon.

Casting Internets

Last Sunday I went down to Toy Fair and covered the show for CBR. It was a lot of work, but also a lot of fun. Anyway, you can click this link and read all the coverage I wrote.

I think DC was shortsighted and foolish for hiring homophobe Orson Scott Card to write a Superman story. I think it’s fantastic that people are standing up against it, people like my pal Brett White and Patrick over at Geeks Out. The comments that I read on the page made me sad for humanity.

My pal Sean T. Collins was featured over on a site called The Setup which features creative folks talking about what kind of place they do their work in and with what equipment.

Speaking of Sean, our mutual friend Ben Morse interviewed him about Gossip Girl over on The Cool Kids Table. I have no idea what any of it means, but it’s interesting.

 

I’ve written about my unabashed love of Fall Out Boy, so I’m pretty excited to hear they’re back together. Better yet, they’ve got a new album coming out on May 7th called Save Rock And Roll. As if all that wasn’t good enough, the first single “My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light Em Up)” is damn catchy. (via Rolling Stone)

 

I think the Young Justice freak-out is a little premature (I’m guessing Cartoon Network just wants to keep DC Nation to an hour) but I’m also pretty excited about Young Justice: Legacy” a video game set in continuity and written by the show’s creators. I’m not a big RPG guy but I think I can get into this if it’s like that PS2 Justice League game or the X-Men ones that were good for a while.  (via CBR)

Whoooa. Charles Band cleaned out his warehouse and found a ton of vintage Wizard Video clamshell cases and Atari game boxes. They’re selling four a month for the foreseeable future, but for $50 each! Yowza.

I used to watch Dragonball Z after school and have a box of DVDs from the old Anime Insider library after that magazine was shut down, so I was pretty interested in reading about the first new DBZ movie in 17 years heading to IMAX theaters on SuperHeroHype.

Diablo Cody’s films don’t really speak to me personally, but I like reading her interviews like this THR one about directing while also pregnant and being a mom to a 1 year old. Sounds exhausting.

Walter Hill talked to Hero Complex about making Bullet To The Head with Sylvester Stallone and a potential Warriors remake, so it’s a must read for me and mine.

Charles P. Pierece’s Esquire piece about how a religious faction somehow overtook a major political party is instigating and insightful.

After just watching Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning, I’m pretty excited for any Scott Adkins movie, especially one co-starring Randy Couture who has proven to be a ton of fun to watch in the Expendables movies. The story sounds pretty heavy, but we’ll see how it works out. (via THR)

Nick Kroll and Bill Burr are going to guest on New Girl as Nick’s family members? Holy nuts, that’s amazing. The episode will be amazing, the outtakes will be fan-friggin-tastic. (via THR)

Mark Neveldine of Neveldine & Taylor fame is doing a solo flick called The Vatican Tapes, I’m pretty excited about this. (via Variety)

 

Feeling a little violent? Want to watch pixelated carnage? Then dig this video of Mortal Kombat’s Scorpion going yard on the first level of the original Double Dragon! (via Topless Robot)

500days of summer glen brogan

I’m having trouble focusing after checking out Glen Brogan‘s (500) Days of Summer piece for an upcoming art show. It’s pretty erect.

I’ve become a huge fan of the Black Keys in the past few years, both their music and the guys themselves. I love drummer Patrick Carney’s attitude towards this whole fame thing, including his recent dust-up with Justin Bieber’s fans on Twitter. Laughed out loud at the one about the Keys being a one hit wonder and Bieber being around a long time. (via Rolling Stone)

I feel the same way about The Real World that Andrew Seigel does. Read her Vulture piece to see how alike we are!

 

I’ve always thought of Eric Clapton as a professor of guitar (partly because he reminds me of my friend’s prof dad), so listening to him talk about his history with a Gibson guitar is right up my alley. (via Rolling Stone)

Over the past few years I’ve become a big fan of digital media, but my one complaint is the lack of a secondary market for things I no longer want/need. As such, I’m interested to see what Amazon does with this patent for re-selling digital content. (via THR)

Ron Marz‘s comparison of binge TV viewing on Netflix and the comic book market makes me wish more than ever that there was a Netflix for digital comics.

After reading Please Kill Me and becoming a fan of Legs McNeil, I’m very interested in reading the entries on his list of the ten best rock books of all time.

Toy Commercial Tuesday: Superman, Doomsday & Conduit!

Oh man, you guys, I fell in love with this toy line hard. The story that got me into going to comic shops and buying monthly comics was the death of Superman. It blew me away at the time and holds up surprisingly well on repeated readings. Anyway, I was pretty blown away when I started seeing these action figures in my local toy stores. I don’t think I ever actually saw the commerical above, but was immediately drawn to the line which featured Long Haired Superman, Superman in Black Suit, Superboy, Steel, Doomsday and even Conduit, an interesting villain choice if ever there was one.

I thought had all of the figures including the Hunter/Prey Superman/Doomsday 2-pack, but after looking at this Cool Toy Review post, I’m surprised to find that there was a Lex Luthor figure I never knew about. I’m also disappointed that I never made the connection between this line and the ToyFare Eradicator exclusive that I probably could have gotten my hands on when I worked at the company. I do remember that 2-pack with Batman and shiny Steel, but they didn’t hold much interest. Lastly, how crazy is it that Massacre got a figure in this line?

I guess it’s cool that they tried to go with villains who were appearing in the comics of the early to mid 90s, but it seems so crazy to be talking about a line of Superman action figures without characters like Metallo, Toyman and or Brainiac. On the other hand, “Don’t mess with the S” is an awesome ad campaign, made all the better by Superboy’s performance.

Toy Commercial Tuesday: Super Powers Super Mobile

I can’t believe it’s been two years since I posted a Super Powers TCT! Hopefully this one featuring the Super Mobile and the Lexor 7 (SP?) will make up for it. Looking back at that older post and then watching this clip remind me of how much I freaking loved toys back in the 80s. I used to have so much fun taking my guys (that’s what I called them) and having all kinds of crazy adventures around my living room, even building my own playsets and using whatever I could find to make things more dangerous for our heroes, just like the kids in this commercial. Do kids do this anymore? If not, they should be taught how to play based solely on Super Powers, Secret Wars, He-Man, G.I. Joe and Transformers commercials.