Thursday, August 21, 2014

Feige Syndrome

A day may come when I will tire of this topic, but it is not this day. This day I write!

It has recently been pointed out to me (thanks to The Mary Sue reader, Rob Payne for this) that I suffer from Feige Syndrome.

What is Feige Syndrome? According to commenter Payne, it's "the comic book movie version of Stockholm [Syndrome]." 

So, here's what happened: 

Kevin Feige, PGA (apparently joining the movie producers' professional organization warrants letters after your name), first captured me with Iron Man. Soon after, I started fighting back once viewing The Incredible Hulk and Iron Man 2. I wanted to escape, but Feige was drawing me in with Avengers movie buzz and post-credit scenes. With Captain America, I was officially drawn in and by the time Avengers rolled around, I was suffering full-fledged Feige Syndrom. 

Then came the female super hero movie talk. That sweet summer child I was didn't know better. I thought Feige could do no wrong. Of course he was going to make a Black Widow film. He probably already had Black Panther and Captain Marvel planned out too. 

It was about this time that rumors started going around about a Peggy Carter show. 

Then word came that they were making a Defenders series on Netflix and none other than the brilliant Jessica Jones was getting her own show, along with Daredevil (who is blind), Luke Cage (who is black), and Iron Fist (who I have very little knowledge of, but he's white and has no disability). It's not perfect, but this is more the kind of representation I want to see in my media and pop culture. 

So yes, Feige drew me in with fancy movies and female led TV shows. 

Then Feige kept saying stuff like this. He kept talking about wanting to do female super hero movies, but in reality he was saying, "we totally want to but can't yet," which, is of course absurd, since Feige is the one who decides what movies get made. He (or Disney) just doesn't want to. 

With all my disillusionment, I thought I had broken free of Feige Syndrome. Then today, this happened: 

Evangeline Lilly, who is playing Hope van Dyne in Ant-Man, is sporting a new haircut that is all too familiar. My first reaction? I was excited. I actually got chills. I told a friend the other day that the only way Ant-Man would start redeeming itself is if Judy Greer plays some flash-back version of Janet van Dyne, aka the Wasp. Just a few days later I get a picture of Evangeline Lilly (who would kick ass as Janet van Dyne) looking like Janet van Dyne. 

Janet is married to Hank Pym (played by Michael Douglas) in the comics, but something "tragic" has happened to her in the movie and she is no longer around. I can only assume she was killed, which sucks because 1. she was a founding member of the Avengers and actually gave them that name and 2. they killed off an awesome character (and one of my favorite Avengers) for the sake of moving a male character's plot along, also known as fridging, which is a crappy and overused trope in any medium. 

Point being, the moment after seeing this picture, I was so excited and starved for a female super hero that I was willing to accept the idea of fridging Janet as long as I got to see some incarnation of the Wasp. 

This is what Feige has done to me. Whenever I think of leaving, he'll throw me a bone like this, but I'll never taste that sweet female super hero movie steak. 

What would really piss me off is if Hope didn't become the Wasp in this movie. At this point I might swear off all Marvel films if that were to happen. 

...but probably not. 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Saturday in Hall H or: Why I was Underwhelmed

This was only my second year at San Diego Comic-Con and I caved. I camped out for Saturday's Hall H lineup. A lineup that included some of the biggest panels including Warner Bros. and Marvel. There were seven in our group that decided to camp out and two of them got in line at 4:30 PM on Friday. Want to know how close we were to the front of the 6,400 person room? Half way. There were over 3,000 people in line by 4:30 in the afternoon the day before. Pretty sure that set a new record.

Needless to say, it was not the most pleasant of nights.

Then came the sitting. So much sitting. The panels started at 10 or 10:30 and I stayed until about 7. And those seats are pretty terrible. I had the good sense not to send my pillow back to the hotel with the rest of our stuff, and honestly I wouldn't have been able to survive the day without it.

Obviously the lead up to the Marvel panel was not a great ordeal, so forgive me if my expectations were a little high, but I wanted to make sure it would be worth it. And there really were some great things that day.

I got to be among the first to see Wonder Woman's Xena knockoff outfit...

(So much wrong with this: one shoulder strap for no apparent reason, zero color, dangerous armored boob plate [consult google for reasons the boob plate is dangerous], over the knee boots that are not optimal for running or kicking, heels that are not optimal for anything, and I'm sorry to be critiquing her body, but Gadot is still too skinny for Wonder Woman. I like her tiara and her arm bands. And that's a good, strong pose. That's all the good I can say from this. /rant)

I got to see some pretty awesome footage from the new Mad Max movie (everyone needs to go see this)...

I got to see some absolutely AMAZING footage for Crimson Peak (which everyone also needs to see), as well as hear Guillermo del Toro swear up a storm and say "f#@k that" to the no swearing rules on the back of his name card and make sure movie studios knew that we all wanted Hellboy 3 and Mountains of Madness...

I got to see some fun footage for Boxtrolls (which everyone, again, should see)...

I got to skeptically watch the Sin City 2 footage (I have mixed feelings about the first, and the second looks just as problematic, hence the lack of picture here)...

I got to watch this awesome Women Who Kick Ass panel and hear Maisie Williams talk about how frustrating it is that no one is talking about how f@#%ed up Arya Stark is (you know, being a child and killing people and all) and Natalie Dormer talk about body image (with a hair cut that I will forever envy)...

I got this fantastic poster for being in the marvel panel...

And, of course, I was there for the Marvel panel. 

Oh, Marvel. My honeymoon with you has long been over, but I still thoroughly enjoy most of the movies you put out (despite their flaws). Maybe the honeymoon wasn't completely over until that Saturday, but I expected more. 

What did I expect? 

Something more substantial about Ant-Man.

Instead, I got to hear about Peyton Reed's nerd-cred and why he's the right man for this project. I got to hear about how Evangeline Lily hasn't seen the script yet and knows nothing about her character. I got to see some sub-par footage with Rudd and Douglas' voice overs. Worst of all, I got to hear about how Janet van Dyne is (in all likelihood) dead. The Wasp is dead. A founding member of the Avengers (and one of my favorites) is dead. Lily plays van Dyne's daughter, so she better don the costume in honor of her mother. Seriously, I'm gonna be pissed if she doesn't and is just there as Rudd's love interest. 

Something substantial about Dr. Strange.

Now, I know next to nothing about Doctor Strange, so I have no personal ties to this project at all. However, that doesn't mean I'm not excited to see what seems to be a bad ass older sorcerer on the big screen. I was hoping for at least a date confirmed or a casting announcement.

About that casting announcement, by the way. I'm not a fan of the rumored choices to play Strange. They're all great actors, but I don't want to see them in this movie. Again, I can't have that much of an opinion here, but I think this would be a fantastic opportunity for Marvel to pick someone who is older (he's supposed to be, right?) and/or a person of color. So far their rumored picks of Joaquin Phoenix, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hardy, and Jared Leto do not fit either of those descriptors. Also, I'm suffering from a major bout of Cumber-fatigue. Regardless of who they end up choosing I'll still go see it, but that doesn't mean I won't be tired of all the white guys.

(I'm noticing a definite trend here...)

Move of all, I wanted something about a new movie that hadn't already been announced.

Isn't that the point of waiting in line all night? To be in the room when they announce new movies? To get hyped up with your fellow nerds? To feel the chills of excitement running down your neck? To scream until you go hoarse?

Yes, they announced Guardians of the Galaxy 2, but I had read a couple of days before that James Gunn was set to write and direct a second installment, and really, who thought they wouldn't be doing a second Guardians? Yes, the crowd exploded, but this was not news to me.

I wanted to hear something new.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Why Won't Marvel Shut Up and Take My Money?

I know, I know. It was only four months ago that I wrote my love letter to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I look back at that woman and want to just shake my head and say, "oh, you sweet summer child." I was so full of hope. So sure that Marvel could do no wrong. Those hopes, dear readers, have been violently dashed over the last several months.

I'm not even going to talk about the lack of Black Widow, Princess Leia, and Gamora merchandise or their respective hashtag campaigns (or the fact that this is because Disney is under the impression that boys of all ages think girls are icky, so don't put Gamora on their t-shirts). Let's just talk about the movies.

First, they tore Edgar Wright's Ant-Man script to shreds and pushed him out of the project he has been attached to for eight years. It was Joss Whedon's Wonder Woman fiasco all over again. Wright's Ant-Man was going to be perfect (as all his films are) and that's a perfect film I am never going to see.

Then they offered the project to several writers/directors, many of whom turn the offer down because you don't do that to someone like Edgar Wright. The writers who do accept the job (Andrew Barrer and Gabriel Ferrari) have a shorter resume on IMDB than I do and the only reason Adam McKay is helping them pick up the pieces is because of Paul Rudd. To top it off, the director they eventually hired (Peyton Reed) is the mastermind behind classic comedies such as Bring it On, Down With Love, and The Breakup.

Then Kevin Feige had the balls to say (or didn't have the balls and stand up to Disney and not say) that Ant-Man is "in the best shape it's ever been" under Reed.

The more I hear about this film, the more I'm convinced it's going to be the worst film to come out of Marvel Studios.

But the real icing on this cake of disillusionment has been Feige's comments on the possibility of a female super hero movie. His "blowing smoke out of my ass" comments have gone back to 2012 when Avengers was released. (Thanks to Angie Han at SlashFilm for this compiled history of Feige quotes)

April 2012: Avengers is pretty much a Black Widow movie plus, we're busy.

"Well, I think you saw it in Avengers. I think that’s one of the many amazing things Joss Whedon can do. I think people are going to be surprised by how powerful Scarlett is in this movie, and how evolved her role is... A lot of it is that we’re only going to make two movies a year, maybe sometimes it’ll be one movie a year like this year, maybe someday it’ll be three movies a year just depending on what comes together. But really, it’s two movies. So there’s kind of a backup on the runway right now in terms of when can something go."

May 2013: It's just a matter of time but we're busy right now.

“We have a number of candidates from the comics and from the movies we've already made. It’s just a matter of finding the right storyline, the right filmmaker, the right time.” 

October 2013: We have ideas, but you already have Pepper Potts, Jane Foster, and Black Widow, and they'll have to tide you over, cause we're busy.

"I know we have numerous exciting female heroes, whether none of them are currently slated, some of them are in development -- frankly, you can look at what Jane Foster does in [Thor: The Dark World], look at Pepper Potts literally saving the day and defeating the bad guy in Iron Man 3, and I'd say we already have great female heroes that are showcased and play major roles in our universe now. Captain America: The Winter Soldier, as you will see, features Black Widow in her biggest role yet in any of our films. In terms of a solo stand-alone female hero, I'm not sure when that will be. We make two movies a year, we've planned through 2015 and we have some ideas of what we're doing in 2016 and 2017, so we'll see what happens."

March 2014: Oh, we have better ideas than Black Widow, but we can't do any of them yet cause you know, we're busy.

"What people are really saying is 'When are you doing a standalone female superhero movie?' The answer is: I don’t know. We only do two a year, we know more or less what’s coming up through ‘16/’17... I’m very proud of the way the Marvel movies handle the female characters who are in all the movies we are making, as opposed to feeling the pressure of ‘When are you doing a female movie?’ We’re exploring a lot of Widow, and that’s going to continue with Age of Ultron in a big way... Frankly if we do a Black Widow movie after Age of Ultron, when she’s been central in three or four movies I don’t think we’d get the quote unquote credit for it. People would say ‘She’s already a big giant superhero!’ But if we had a great idea, we’d do it... I like the idea if we’re going to do a [female lead] do a new one. Do a wholly new character, do an origin story."

April 2014: Winter Soldier was basically a Black Widow film, and Ultron will be too, so...

"But people would ask me on the floor of the Thor: The Dark World junket, 'Are you’re doing a Black Widow movie?' And part of me wanted to say, 'Well, we did, and it’s called Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Wait until you see it!' The emphasis we put on our characters, and in particular our female leads in all our movies, is very important to us. And showcase extremely strong, intelligent woman that control the course of the entire movie and the entire plot, and that absolutely carries over into Scarlett’s role in Age of Ultron."

July 2014: STFU, fans. We do what we want. Plus we have TWO black people in our films. TWO! DIVERSITY! *fist pump*

"Well, yes. I don’t think J.J. Abrams or the ‘Star Wars’ people — I have no idea — but my guess is that they were not swayed by any backlash. We’re not going to be swayed by the backlash. We’re going to keep bringing the movies out the way we envision it and the way we believe in it — and that includes diversity in all of the active films. And certainly, on our development slate of many of the characters — some of which you just named — and always being conscious of that."

August 2014: We totes want to do a lady movie cuz we know it's gonna make us money, but srsly, we're super busy.

"I think it comes down to timing, which is what I've sort of always said, and it comes down to us being able to tell the right story. I very much believe in doing it. I very much believe that it's unfair to say, 'People don't want to see movies with female heroes,' then list five movies that were not very good, therefore, people didn't go to the movies because they weren't good movies, versus [because] they were female leads. And they don't mention "Hunger Games," "Frozen," "Divergent." You can go back to "Kill Bill" or "Aliens." These are all female-led movies. It can certainly be done. I hope we do it sooner rather than later. But we find ourselves in the very strange position of managing more franchises than most people have -- which is a very, very good thing and we don't take for granted, but is a challenging thing. You may notice from those release dates, we have three for 2017. And that's because just the timing worked on what was sort of gearing up. But it does mean you have to put one franchise on hold for three or four years in order to introduce a new one? I don't know. Those are the kinds of chess matches we're playing right now."

Look, I'm fine with Feige and Marvel holding off on a female super hero movie until it fits in with the story, but here's the thing - if you want her to fit in with the story, you have to write her into the story. Don't tell me Captain Marvel doesn't fit in right now, because she tends to hang around with both the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy.

I sometimes wonder how much of this is because of Disney and if Marvel really has the autonomy they said they would when Disney bought them in 2009. I do think that plays in with the Ant-Man fiasco, but Feige has successfully sold Guardians of the Galaxy, Ant-Man, and freaking Dr. Strange to Disney execs. Captain Marvel certainly would be an easier sell, especially after Frozen. Or is that just me being optimistic?

I hope I'm wrong. I hope all this is just Marvel being coy and that one of the many release dates they have reserved is tied to a Captain Marvel or other female super hero movie. But given Hollywood's track record, I don't think it's irrational of me to assume that I'm right.

In conclusion, I would like to use a very special gif. I have historically reserved it only in instances where we discuss how "tricky" Wonder Woman is. However, given the circumstances, I'd say it's appropriate here.