This was a fantastic year to be a comics fan. Image Comics brought Robert Kirkman on board as a new partner (as discussed in Part One of our Year In Review), Kirkman delivered his fiftieth issue of both “Invincible” and “The Walking Dead,” Todd McFarlane came back to “Spawn,” and Dark Horse delivered more of “Buffy Season Eight.” From Marvel and DC, fans were provided with the splashy events they so enjoy (Secret Invasion and Final Crisis) in addition to satisfying intimate experiences like the last issue of Vertigo’s “Y: The Last Man” and the comics adaptation of Stephen King’s “The Stand.”
The Cineplex, however, made it most apparent that 2008 was the year of the comic book. Many of the year’s top films came from comic book sources: “Iron Man,” “The Incredible Hulk,” “Wanted,” “Hellboy II: The Golden Army,” and, of course, “The Dark Knight.” It was suddenly cool to walk around with our Batman T-shirts on!
Next year also looks to be mighty fine, with many publications and films that the CBR News Staff is eagerly anticipating, and writers Tim Callahan, Kiel Phegley, Dave Richards and George Tramountanas have gathered to discuss and share the items that have them so enthused.
We begin our list with cinema, and it looks like it’s going to be another embarrassment of riches for comics readers and sci-fi fans. In addition to the re-imagined “Star Trek,” the sequels to “Transformers” and “The Terminator” and of course the “G.I. Joe” movie, our writers have several motion pictures they’re just itching to see. The first of which should come as no surprise…
Tim Callahan: I have high hopes for this one. It certainly looks wonderful, although the more I see of the acting, the less enthusiastic I become about the possibility that the movie might actually work. I have absolutely nothing to gain or lose by the success of this movie, although I can't help but root for it to be great. It's certainly not going to be the same as the graphic novel, nor should it be, but it deserves to be something special. Then again, pretty much any movie based on a great novel has turned out to be a disaster of dull turgidity, so if "Watchmen" fails it won't be the first time.
What I'm more worried about is that if "Watchmen" does succeed, it will – coupled with the immense success of "The Dark Knight" – usher in a new grim n' gritty phase for superhero movies, and we'll have to relive the late-‘80s, early-‘90s in movie form. Shoulder pads and cybernetic arms and guns for everyone! (Oh, and a glowing eye too!)
Kiel Phegley: Sure, I'm seeing “Watchmen” with a slightly optimistic attitude, but I'm way more interested in the fallout both for comics and comic movies. If "Dark Knight Returns" and "Watchmen" created a wave of terrible grim n' gritty superhero comics in the ‘80s and ‘90s, I can't even imagine what kind of horrible, tough guy bullshit Hollywood will crank out if "Watchmen" does an eighth of the business "Dark Knight" did this year.
George Tramountanas: This is the comic book movie fans have been looking forward to – and fearing – since the title’s initial publication. After reading the book, you know why it would make a great movie. But at the same time, you have no idea how they would ever make it a live-action film. I mean, what studio would make a grim, depressing, uber-violent, R-rated superhero flick?
Thanks, Warner Bros! And if the movie is even half as good as the trailers, thank you, Zack Snyder!
And a quick note to Tim and Kiel: if you’re worried about “Watchmen” ushering in grim n’ gritty, we can only hope that Frank Miller’s “The Spirit” killed that thought in all studio execs.
George Tramountanas: Mark Millar writes a fun book (although I hope to see the end of the comic before the movie). And, hey, it’s got Nicolas Cage! He’s an actor who likes comics, so it’s got to be a good film, right? Let’s hope it, um, kicks ass…
Kiel Phegley: I just think that Millar's continued and improbable success is hilarious considering his many message board detractors. I hope he sells twelve more movies in 2009.
Tim Callahan: I really like the Romita, Jr. art in the comic book. Is the movie drawn by Romita, Jr.? Wait, it stars Nic Cage? And it's not drawn by JR, Jr.? It's live action, like "Ghost Rider?" I'll pass.
(And when I say, "I'll pass," I totally mean that I'll buy the previously-viewed DVD from the local Hollywood Video.)
Dave Richards: I didn't read the comic book and chances are that I'll probably see this movie via Netflix – the movie fan equivalent of waiting for the trade.
George Tramountanas: I’m not sure what’s taken so long for this film to come out, but I love the book and I love Kate Beckinsale, so I’m there either way! Did I mention I love Kate Beckinsale?
Tim Callahan: I have to admit that I've never read any of the "Whiteout" comics. Greg Rucka has never really done it for me, although I've liked some of his collaborations with other people (mainly people named Ed Brubaker). But I'm more interested in "Whiteout" than almost anything we've discussed about 2009 so far (except "Watchmen," because, well, it’s "Watchmen"). So I will definitely see this. Eventually. (Hey, I have two little kids, it's hard to get to the theater very often.)
X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE
Dave Richards: Yes! Forget the guy with the adamantium claws! I'm more excited for the Merc with a Mouth and the fact that he's being played by someone with great comedic skills and a gift for sarcasm – Ryan Reynolds.
Tim Callahan: Well, I've seen the trailer, and everyone does a great job posing. Is that what the whole movie is like? That and jumping on helicopters? Because I might see that, especially since it seems not to be based on the terrible, terrible Paul Jenkins or Daniel Way comics with the words "Wolverine" and "Origin" in the titles.
George Tramountanas: I wasn’t that enthused about this when it was originally announced, but now that I’ve heard about the characters in the film and seen the trailer – oh yeah, baby! Deadpool played by Ryan Reynolds? I agree with Dave – I’m there!
Tim Callahan: I do love Ryan Reynolds. I knew he'd be a big action star from the moment he went face-to-face with David Ogden Stiers in Season One of "Two Guys, a Girl, and a Pizza Place."
George Tramountanas: Ha! I knew I wasn’t the only one who loved that show!
Wait. Was that sarcasm?
THE ACADEMY AWARDS
George Tramountanas: Hugh Jackman is hosting, plus this may be the first time a comic book movie earns an Oscar if “The Dark Knight” gets a nod. It could be a very interesting night.
Tim Callahan: Didn't everyone stop caring about the Oscars when "Forrest Gump" won all those awards? Even Wolverine can't change the past.
George Tramountanas: Tim, stop raining on my parade and come on over to my Oscar party. I’ll make some appletinis, and for the after-show, I’ll put in my “Definitely, Maybe” DVD – it’s got Ryan Reynolds in it!
Tim Callahan: Is that a metaphorical invite to your house on Oscar night? Because I will absolutely show up with my clone trooper helmet and no shirt, calling myself Weapon X.
George Tramountanas: I think you’ve just spoiled Hugh’s opening sketch of the night…
DC's NEXT MOVIE
Kiel Phegley: Once "Watchmen" is in theaters, there will be no more DC movies on the production slate. So what will be the direction that Warner Bros. takes with their superhero properties? Will Berlanti, Guggenheim and Green actually get to make “Green Lantern?” How about Goyer and “Green Arrow: Escape From Supermax?” Will Bryan Singer return for “Man of Steel?” If not, what about the criminally underrated Brandon Routh? Will Warner Bros. and DC get their stuff together and compete with Marvel Studios, or will the box office chart mirror the comics sales chart?
Tim Callahan: I think the "Green Arrow Punches People in Supermax" movie has a chance at providing a really cool movie trailer. As an actual movie, I'm skeptical – mostly because I've seen other movies David Goyer has worked on, and the more control he has had, the worse the movies have been. Other than that, I can't imagine a DC movie coming to theaters anytime before 2012, and that's when we'll see "We3" on the big screen and the world will come to an end (or not).
George Tramountanas: For the most part, I’m worried about the next DC movie; especially in light of an article in the Wall Street Journal about Warner Bros.:
Creatively, (Warner Bros. Pictures Group President Jeff Robinov) sees exploring the evil side to characters as the key to unlocking some of Warner Bros.’ DC properties. “We’re going to try to go dark to the extent that the characters allow it,” he says. That goes for the company’s Superman franchise as well.”
Um, while I enjoyed “Dark Knight,” how about something positive and uplifting (like that “Shazam!” movie that’s in development hell). Hey, optimism worked for that Obama fellow….
Tim Callahan: I would love to see a crazy superhero space opera. Let's get on that, WB!
Come back to CBR tomorrow for the final installment of our staff’s look at the year ahead, where they discuss the comics projects of 2009 that have them the most excited.