Comics2Film

Wed, July 10th, 2002 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Rob Worley, Columnist

BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN

Fans who worried that DC Comics' only response to Spider-Man would be "Wonder Twins" can rest a bit easier today. Both Variety and The Hollywood Reporter confirmed recent reports that the block-buster crossover pic Batman Vs. Superman is, indeed on the fast-track and targeted for a 2004 release.

Wolfgang Petersen (The Perfect Storm), who has long been attached as director will also serve as producer on the movie.

"It is a clash of the titans," Petersen told Variety. "They play off of each other so perfectly. (Superman) is clear, bright, all that is noble and good, and Batman represents the dark, obsessive and vengeful side. They are two sides of the same coin and that is material for great drama."

Andrew Kevin Walker (Seven) wrote the script which has the two heroes starting as allies but eventually battling one-another.

"They both go through some kind of a crisis," Petersen said to The Reporter. "Superman has an unwavering belief in what is right and wrong and it's just not that simple anymore in today's world, while Batman is on a path of self-destruction. He reacts to an act of incredible violence in a way that almost puts him over the edge."

The director will be searching for his leading men immediately and hopes to have the roles filled within four weeks. "We are not going to go with typical action stars but great actors who will do an action-oriented part," Petersen told The Reporter. The director also states there are three juicy female parts in the film. Early 2003 is targeted as the start of production.

Both Gotham City and Metropolis will be featured in the movie.

Diana Rathbun will also produce. Warner Bros' president of worldwide production, Lorenzo di Bonaventura, will oversee the project with senior vice president Bob Brassel.

The crossover is not a continuation of previous the previous franchise. Nor does it replace stand-alone projects for the two characters. Development work continues on the Superman movie with director McG (Charlie's Angels) and writer J.J. Abrams (Alias). Similarly Batman: Year One is still in development with Darren Aronofsky.

MUTANT EARTH

[Mutant Earth]At this weekend's Wizard World convention in Chicago, Comics2Film's Mikey Mason sat down with legendary special effects designer Stan Winston, mastermind behind such characters as the Terminator, Edward Scissorhands, Alien, Predator, and more.

Stan discussed the long term goals of his new line of comics and toys, called Mutant Earth, stating that a major goal of the line is to see the characters on screen.

"I've been creating characters for film for the past thirty years, hopefully iconic characters. When I say 'I', I mean my studio. I don't do anything, I just take credit for it all," he laughed. "I decided it was about time to do the same thing, with the same artistic talent, the same creative minds in my studio... to finally bring it to the comic book and toy world, which is where I started as a kid."

[Mutant Earth #1]The F/X guru admits to being a fan of such characters as Superman, Batman, and Spider-Man since childhood. With the marriage of comics and film proving such a hot-topic he's now looking to bring his own offerings to the table with Mutant Earth.

"We're all in the same line, and I think the basis of your website says it: from comics to film," Winston said. "And now we're seeing all these superheroes, and these comics book worlds come to life on film. I've been doing film, and decided to go back to the beginning."

The story is part Highlander, part Braveheart, and part Thundercats. The artwork is engaging, the sculpts for the toy line are amazingly detailed. "The coolest action figures anybody's ever seen," adds Winston.

Mutant Earth is a gritty, post-apocalyptic world where even the heroes are no angels. Trakk, the main character for the series, is no spandex-clad savior. He is more similar to a reluctant, Byronic hero. His hands are dirty and he is definitely not afraid to kill.

[Trakk]The dark tapestry created by Winston's creative team could present a challenge when brought to the screen. Winston showed an impressive CGI trailer, produced in-house at his studio, to promote Mutant Earth. The footage will eventually be made available online.

Winston said that the cross over of concepts into various markets is a necessity. "There's nothing that I do where I block out any other aspect. I can't do a movie and block out thinking of toys and comic books. I can't possibly create comic books and toys, and not be thinking about the movies," Winston explained. " It's all a crossover. They're all so completely linked, that to think otherwise is absurd."

When askeded about the cost of bringing the characters to the big screen, Winston smiled impishly. "I'm definitely considering--and not just considering-- developing the movie, that will be based on Trakk, introducing a new superhero," the filmmaker said. "It will take while to do it because there will be a great deal of animation and live action that I'm involved with. It will be a movie nobody's ever seen. And, yes. It's going to be a big movie, an event movie."

CAPTAIN RIBMAN

Comics2Film has learned that legendary comic-actor Fred Willard has been cast as the web's most inappropriate superhero Captain RibMan! The character's co-creator Rich Davis confirmed the involvement of the former Fernwood 2Nite Co-Host.

Less than a year ago the Hollywood trades reported that a television pilot script, penned by Davis and Captain RibMan co-creator John Sprengelmeyer, had been completed. The duo's reps at The Endeavor Agency then started encouraging them to develop a couple of animated pieces to showcase the clueless Captain.

"A guy that we've always loved, Fred Willard, did a cartoon with us a couple of years ago. He's a fan and it was great that he said that he would do Captain RibMan's voice," Davis told C2F. Willard has a vast body of work and has made regular appearances on "The Tonight Show." He may be best known for his roles in a trilogy of Christopher Guest movies, This Is Spinal Tap, Waiting For Guffman and Best In Show (for which he collected awards for his hilarious role as an off-color dog show commentator).

"When Endeavor suggested we do a couple of animated pieces that was the first guy we thought of. To us he's always been Captain RibMan."

The animated shorts are taken from segments of the pilot, which sets up various characters who would appear in the show.

One character is RibMan's youthful ward Billy Boyd. "The shtick with Captain RibMan and Billy is that Captain RibMan is an inappropriate role model. So you've got this sweet, Beaver Cleaver-like kid asking these questions of his hero and it always ends up getting a little twisted," Davis explained.

"What we've set up is that Captain RibMan is going to end up living with Billy in this incredibly expensive home because, through his so-called heroics, he basically almost had Billy's parents killed," the comic creator continued. The Captain becomes the boy's live-in, would-be bodyguard while the parents are recuperating in body casts.

"Of course, all kinds of mischief ensues as we watch things that no father or mother would ever let an adult do with their sweet, innocent kid," David said.

The villain of the piece is Dr. Deathy McSeltzer, an evil clown-turned-dentist. The logic behind this character is obvious. "Those are the two things kids fear most," Davis explained.

The other animated short will feature Captain RibMan hawking one of his many misguided products. "He's going to help cure [playmate] Shae Marks of an ailment," Davis said.

The Captain is no stranger to sexy women, having previously done videos with Neriah Davis and Brooke Burke. "That's what we always thought was so funny with Captain RibMan. All these hot babes like Neriah Davis, Cindy Margolis, Brooke Burke are always doing stuff with him but he's too dumb to have a strong interest or to pursue them," Davis commented on RibMan's lack of charm. "On the Neriah Davis thing the joke was Gary Coleman was refereeing midget wrestling on television so he wasn't going to show up for dinner with her."

Although superheroes are hot right now, Captain RibMan may have his work cut out for him. Comedic heroes haven't fared well recently, with under-appreciated fare like Mystery Men and The Tick falling by the wayside. Davis sees one important difference.

"With The Tick, which we love by the way, the joke is always about superheroes. We rarely go for the superhero humor," Davis explained. "Our guy just happens to have a cape and tights on. He's really just an inappropriate role model."

Work on the shorts is underway, with Willard already completing some of the voice-work. Although the primary purpose is to generate interest in an ongoing Captain RibMan animated show, Davis also said fans can expect to see the shorts online.

Thanks to Sneaky Keith for the inappropriate tip-off.

SMALLVILLE, JUSTICE LEAGUE

[Michael Rosenbaum]At the WizardWorld comics convention in Chicago, last Saturday, Comics2Film's Mikey Mason caught an interview with actor Michael Rosenbaum. Rosenbaum is well-known to most fans as Lex Luthor on Smallville and the voice of the Flash on Justice League. Behold, the myriad delights of his picked brain...

Mikey Mason (MM): What's in store for Lex next season?

Michael Rosenbaum (MR): Every year we're going to get closer to the inevitable. But it's going to be baby steps. There are going to be huge things coming up, but... Ahh... I can't give away too much information here. I know that... You know, there's going to be some interesting things happen with my father, and Lana, and Clark.

MM: So (Lionel Luthor's) not dead?

MR: Oh, no... I didn't say that. Away from my father... I can't tell you what happens with my father, but I can tell you that something else happens that's going to be the main focus of next season. Something big in the comeback... What do you call it? The first show.

MM: The premiere?

MR: The premiere of the second season. The season premiere.

MM: Do you seek out comic roles or do they just kind of fall out to you?

MR: Comic roles?

MM: Yeah, cause you've done Lex, you've done the Flash, you read for the new Spidey animated...

MR: It fell in my lap. I was doing Batman Beyond. I was doing voice-overs. You know, like guest stars and stuff... and Bruce Timm and Andre Armano auditioned, and said "Do you wanna be the Flash?" and I said, "Sure." I wasn't really familiar with the Justice League, and now it's like people come up to me and go "I know you", and I go "Yeah, I'm from Superman," and they go "No. You're the Flash." (laughs) And that's cool. I mean, it's something different.

MM: How do you justify Lex, being as smart a person as he is, not being able to put two and two together and figure out, later, in the aftermath...

MR: I'm always asked these questions. They always say, "How does he not know? How does he not know this?" "Why didn't he go into this?"

MM: Right now it's kind of like blind ignorance. Blind faith in Clark.

MR: Yeah. There's just something in Clark I can see. Something I can find in Clark that no one else has. It's like I almost feel-- Lex feels comfortable around Clark. And he's a good judge of character. He doesn't have a lot of friends, obviously, so he doesn't want to... You know, in the old ways he would have just said, "No. This isn't working out. You're lying to me. You're deceiving me." But he's trying to change his ways. Trying to, you know, give in a little bit.

MM: Battle Royal: You. Gene Hackman. John Shea. Who wins?

MR: Ahh... Oh, man... That's a good one. Me. I win. I'm the new, improved Lex Luthor. I'm the young one, and no one's ever done it, you know, before at all. They started out evil, now you get to see the journey. And I'm going to get more evil than you can possibly imagine. There's going to be reasons why. I think that's why people are embracing my character now, is because they feel for him They feel sorry for him, and along the way you'll see why he becomes evil and how do you hate somebody who you understand?

NEXUS

Fans who want to see the Nexus animated show come to fruition now have a chance to provide financial resources to it's production.

Steve Rude will be holding the "Official Nexus Animated Fundraiser" on eBay from July 18th - July 28th. The goal is to raise $8000 need to cover the costs of the long-awaited Nexus animated promo pilot. This promo will feature 1-minute of all the Nexus characters and will be the main selling tool for investors to help finance the TV show.

Rude will put 50 sketches on a dutch eBay auction. The winning bidders will be able to have Steve sketch their favorite Nexus character (Nexus, Horatio, Giz, Claude, etc). The sketches will be 8-1/2 x 11 inches and inked with a marker.

There's a bonus for the top 5 bidders: They will have their choice of one of 5 Nexus pages (these can be viewed at steverude.com). The top bidders will have first choice, next high bidder 2nd choice, etc. Limit one page per person.

Rude will also be auctioning off T-shirts, Nexus pages (from the Dark Horse run), and comics.

COUSCOUS EXPRESS

[Couscous Express]In his e-mail newsletter Brian Wood reveals that plans are afoot to bring his and Brett Weldele's Couscous Express graphic novel to the big screen.

Wood tells his readers, "Speaking of film (and this is all the info I will give so don't email me and ask for more), Couscous Express is optioned for film and a script is underway. Did I just say that? I don't think so..."

The book was published by AiT-PlanetLar in October of last year. The publisher's website provides this description:

"Scooter enthusiast and spoiled brat, Olive Yassin, delivers food for her parents' award-winning Middle Eastern restaurant, Couscous Express. She hates it. It's boring. She would much rather be hanging out with her courier-mercenary boyfriend, Moustafa.

"But when the local branch of the stylish and dangerous Turkish Scooter Mafia make a move against the restaurant, she knows she has to do something, anything, to protect her family."

Thanks to Jonah for the scoop!

MEN IN BLACK 2

[Men In Black 2]Although Men In Black II is doing great at the box office, the production of the film was not without its costs. Director Barry Sonnenfeld told TV Guide that making the sequel, which came with much higher expectations than the first, was a stress-filled exercise that jeopardized his health.

"We were shooting one night [last June] and things were going particularly bad," Sonnenfeld told TV Guide. "I went to my [trailer] to meditate and my arm went totally asleep, all of my fingers went cold and I couldn't feel anything under my armpit. Then, my chest [felt] like someone was blowing a balloon up in it."

The director was taken to the hospital. Although he did not suffer a heart-ailment as feared, his stress levels were problematic. Sonnenfeld told the magazine that his health was "compromised by the fear and tension and anxiety that was put on me by everyone being nervous that the movie wasn't going to make any money. I'll never be okay as long as I live. I've still got sciatica."

WONDER WOMAN

Recent internet rumors indicated that TV actress Gretchen Egolf, (former star of Marshal Law) was interested in the playing Wonder Woman in a the big screen adaptation of the DC character. C2F contacted Egolf's manager to see if there was any truth to the rumor.

A source in the office of Egolf's manager said that the rumor was untrue and that they had not heard anything about their client being interested in the Wonder Woman role.

Although it's been well covered, Sandra Bullock recently confirmed again for TV Guide that she will not be playing Wonder Woman on the big screen.

"I just don't have the time or the capability to think that I can pull that off," Bullock told the TV magazine.

Who does the actress like for the part? "Somebody who is really athletically inclined and can kick ass," Bullock said. "She's agile. She's like a cat. That's what it deserves - it deserves someone who can enjoy the camp, but also play the serious or the dark side. Because Wonder Woman has such a dark core to it, if [producers] embrace that, there's a couple of women that could do a good job."

Thanks to Elektra for the lead.

BLADE III

Variety confirms recent rumors that German director Oliver Hirschbiegel is in talks to take the helm for the third installment of Marvel and New Line's successful Blade franchise.

Hirschbiegel confirmed the news at the recent Filmfest Muenchen. Although he's keen to take on the project, no deal has been signed yet.

The director is currently enjoying success with his recent film The Experiment about a study group who are made to live as prisoners and guards.

THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN

Cameras are rolling on The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen according to Variety. Principal photography started last Wednesday after suffering a delay due to illness on the part of star Sean Connery.

SUB-MARINER

SCI FI Wire recently sat down with David Self and got an update on the writer's plans for the Sub-Mariner movie. While Self couldn't talk about the specifics of the project he was able to give the general drift of it.

"It's a totally different project, because I don't have a specific storyline to adapt," Self said in an interview. "I just have sort of a mythology of Namor and some incidences, some characters that come and go during Namor's life. I have a much freer hand to create a different, new story. But I'm also not being handed a great, exciting moment or concept or story, so I've got to do my own legwork, so to speak. For me, I saw a unique story I could do with it and take off from Sub-Mariner to make a different type of new comic book movie."

Self also said, "People don't know Namor as well as they know other Marvel heroes, and I think it's an identity story, so that's well-suited to an origin story. That's how we plan that project in general terms. It's definitely a challenge to decide how to approach it. You have obligations to bring the audience up to speed with the character. There's different ways to go about doing that."

Self came on board the undersea project last April.

SWAMP THING

In his "Permanent Damage" column right here on CBR Steven Grant revealed that there's a new Swamp Thing movie in the works with Joel Silver's Silver Pictures. Grant also reports that Swamp Thing co-creator Len Wein has signed on to write the script.

Corona Coming Attractions did some quick follow up on the report and learned that Wein's take on the material will be faithful to the character's dark horror roots (no pun intended), unlike the previous Swamp Thing movies that played for camp.

Thanks to Pepper $ for the scoop!

THE TICK, MEN IN BLACK 2

Patrick Warburton reveals a few details about his role in Men In Black II as well as discusses his opinions about the cancellation of The Tick in an interview conducted recently by CHUD.com.

Warburton, who first rose to fame with his role as "Puddy" on the television comedy Seinfeld, plays Agent T, the new partner to Will Smith's Agent J. Warburton discusses Agent T's outlook on life, "This character, T - he doesn't know his days are numbered. He's just having fun. He's doing his job."

Warburton goes on to explain his frustrations over Fox's treatment of The Tick when it first debuted," It was really harsh to see what the network did with this - that the network had planned, from the very beginning, to kill us off." Citing the fact Fox did not own the show as they did other new programs like The Bernie Mac Show and 24, Warburton said that The Tick suffered from a lack of promotion, "They weren't going to promo us because they didn't own us and we were expensive."

Although Warburton acknowledges that the show's high costs - resulting from the overtime paid for shortened shooting schedule (five days per episode versus six to seven) - contributed to the show's demise, he nonetheless feels that The Tick did not receive a fair chance to survive, "I wish that we had been treated more fairly by the network and given a shot, but I understood the politics and all of that."

CROW 4, THE CROW ANIMATED

Horror movie website Bloody Disgusting reported info on the in-development fourth Crow film and a possible Crow animated series. The site spoke with Crow creator James O'Barr at this past weekend's Wizard World Convention.

O'Barr said that a script is being worked on for the 4th Crow film and should be ready shortly. O'Barr also had some crushing news for fans of rapper turned actor DMX. He's now out of the running for the film's lead. O'Barr said, "He wanted $6 million to do the picture, and its hard because studio's want more for less these days, and $6 million wouldn't cut it."

O'Barr also revealed that he is developing an animated version of his undead avenger. He said that fellow comic book creator Kevin Eastman (Heavy Metal, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) is helping him with The Crow: The Animated Series. Bloody disgusting reports that the new cartoon would be for adults only, and be developed as three 45-minute R-rated episodes that would ultimately comprise one large film.

RETURN TO THE BATCAVE

[Return to the Batcave]Photos from the production of the CBS TV movie "Back To The Batcave" have surfaced on Wally Wingert's WallyOnTheWeb.com site. According to that site, the producers of the movie have hired Wingert's 4-i's Productions to recreate costumes from the classic "Batman" TV show.

Wingert shows photos of Batman's cowl during many stages of production. The site includes photos of Jack Brewer, who plays Adam West in the movie, wearing the mask of the dark knight.

Check out WallyOnTheWeb.com for lots of cool Batman photos.

Thanks to Comics2Read for the scoop.

SMALLVILLE

[Smallville Menu]The first episode of Smallville came out on DVD earlier this week in Canada. For our Canadian readers who haven't been able to get to the store to pick it up right away, or for you readers in other parts of globe who can't get your hands on a copy yet, KryptonSite has a treat for you.

The Smallville appreciation site has posted a bevy of Smallville Season One screen-grabs. Their gallery is sure to whet your appetite for more.

While you're at KryptonSite looking at all of the pretty pictures, be sure to take a moment to participate in the 2002 KryptonSite Awards... and stop back every few days to have your say in all of the categories that come up.

SHRINK

Rob Liefeld, creator of the online comic book Shrink thinks the star attached to his property will fit the bill. The brash comic book creator that has been fairly quiet of late, spoke to MTV about Shrink star Jennifer Lopez.

Liefeld stressed that despite being centered in superhero culture, Lopez won't don a cape or mask. "She won't get dressed up in spandex," Liefeld said. "She looks great in her designer clothes."

In Shrink, Lopez plays a psychiatrist to superheroes and villains. She's "the center of a universe where everything around her is extraordinary," Liefeld continued. Though not yet in active development, and quite a far way from being greenlit, Shrink was optioned by Lopez's production company Nuyorican.

Liefeld has had many Hollywood dealings, but little success in bringing his properties to the big or small screen. Lopez's presence could be enough to add heat to Shrink, though Liefeld struck out in the 90s when Will Smith became attached to The Mark comic book property. The closest his characters came was a little seen short film of test footage for an aborted Youngblood cartoon series.

Thanks to SuperHeroHype.com for the lead.

GOD HATES COMICS

Fans looking for some animated versions of their favorite indie strips can order a DVD of God Hates Cartoons from Bright Red Rocket. The first-ever collection of its kind, the $25 disc contains an assortment delightful animations from stars of the alternative comic scene. It features over 20 cartoons, artists' galleries, comics and secret surprises.

The stellar lineup includes:

  • Jim Woodring (Frank, The Book of Jim, Trosper)

  • Tony Millionaire (Maakies, Sock Monkey)

  • Kaz (Underworld)

  • Sam Henderson (The Magic Whistle, Humor Can Be Funny)

  • Ivan Brunetti (Schizo, Haw!)

  • Mark Newgarden (Garbage Pail Kids, B. Happy)

  • Walt Holcombe (Poot, King of Persia)

  • Tim Maloney (Underwear Girl)

  • Lance Myers (Gutsman)

God Hates Cartoons can be ordered online right now. It'll be available in stores in August.

WEEKEND BOX OFFICE

The alpha agents of Men In Black II topped the weekend box office setting new holiday records with its super-wide opening according to Box Office Mojo. The film took in $87,241,586 during it's five-day opening run, $51.3 million coming in the Friday-Sunday leg.

This tops both Independence Day's five-day fourth of July run of $85.1 million and the original Men In Black's record setting $51.1 million for the three day weekend.

The bad news for Spider-Man is that it fell short of setting one last record, which would have been becoming the movie to gross $400 million domestically in the shortest amount of time. The web-slinger took 66 days to hit that mark, merely tying the previous record held by Titanic.

Sony is poised to break the $1 billion box office barrier this month according to a report from The Hollywood Reporter. The write-up credits the comic book adaptations for the studios landmark year.

THIS WEEK ON SABRINA

R & B sensation Usher guest stars as the "Love Doctor" on the encore showing of "I Think I Love You," this week's episode of Sabrina, The Teenage Witch.

When Sabrina (Melissa Joan Hart) can't find her own voice to tell Josh (David Lascher) she loves him, she turns to the Other Realm's relationship guru, the "Love Doctor" (guest star Usher, hit single "U Remind Me"), who instructs her that she must be honest and truthful with Josh about her true identity before she can say the "L" word. Bill Layton directed the episode written by Barry Vigon & Tom Walla.

"I Think I Love You" airs Friday, July 12th at 8:00 p.m. on The WB Network.

Thanks to author and comic book movie journalist Andy Mangels for the info.

NEXT WEEK ON JUSTICE LEAGUE

Next Sunday night brings an encore airing of "The Enemy Below Part II," on Justice League on Cartoon Network.

Aquaman is introduced to The League in this episode.

"The Enemy Below Part II" airs Sunday, July 14th at 7:00 p.m. on Cartoon Network. Additional showings are 7:00pm on Friday, July 19th and 10:30 a.m. on Saturday July 20th.

Cartoon Network also presents a repeat airing of "The Brave and the Bold Part II" on Saturday, July 13th at 10:00p.m.

NEXT WEEK ON WITCHBLADE

Sara meets the man of her dreams in "Lagrimas", next week's episode of Witchblade.

Sara (Yancy Butler) experiences love at first sight when she meets the man of her dreams. But her perfect love turns into a perfect nightmare as a jealous Ian Nottingham (Eric Etebari) reveals her lover's true nature. Sara is faced with the impossible dilemma: can she kill the man she loves?

"Lagrimas" airs Monday, July 15th at 9 p.m. on TNT. An encore showing airs the same night at 11 p.m.

Thanks to Dex!

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