1.21 Gigawatts: Jimmy Revisits A Comic Book Movie Post From Y2K

"A Watchmen movie?  Don't hold your breath." - Jimmy Impossible circa 2000
“A Watchmen movie? Don’t hold your breath.” – Jimmy Impossible circa 2000

Before I started writing endless Secret Wars posts for Gabbing Geek, I used to work on and write for a site called the Hollywood Stock Brokerage & Resource (HSBR, no “&”, I don’t care what you say).  It was a (the best) Hollywood Stock Exchange (HSX) fansite.  While the site has unfortunately closed it’s doors, I still interact with most of the group on a daily basis.  Gabbing Geek founding member Ryan “don’t call me hose311” Garcia was also a contributor to HSBR and foolishly recruited me here.

In recently rambling writing about Superman: Earth One, I mentioned that around the turn of the new millennium I wrote an article that Rising Stars by Earth One writer J. Michael Straczynski would make a great movie.  While I pulled that observation out of the Impossible memory vaults, I wondered what else I had written in said article, and if any of them had come to pass.

So let’s hop in the Delorean, look into the Pensieve, travel naked back in time courtesy of Skynet and revisit and update that post.

Storylines: “Death of Superman”, “Funeral For A Friend” and “Reign of the Supermen”
Adapted from: Action Comics 683-692, Adventures of Superman 496-505, Justice League America 69-70, Green Lantern 46, Superman 73-83, Superman:The Man of Steel 17-26

The definitive Superman story. Even non-comic fans know that DC killed off its flagship character at the hands of Doomsday in an attempt to boost sales. And boy did it work! Superman #75 (the “death” issue) became one of the best selling comics of all time.

However, the storyline is just too large and chockfull of guests to be done as is. Beside the Superman regulars (Supes, Clark, Lois, Jimmy,…), Green Lantern (the beginning of the end of Hal Jordan), the “old” non-powerhouse JLA and basically every other DC character show up at some point. Not to mention the four “new” Supermen who try to take his place during “Reign”.

If this ever made it to the big screen, I’m sure it would be in a very different form. The bulk of the Doomsday battle would probably remain intact (minus the JLA appearance). The “Funeral for a Friend” would probably be cut down to one or two scenes. And who knows how they’d condense the sprawling “Reign” storyline? The resurrection of Superman perhaps being the only surviving element.

Odds are: we’ll see some semblance of this one of these days at the movies. The last several years have been ripe with rumors that a “Death of Superman” storyline would indeed be used for the next (long awaited?) sequel.

Will we still be alive when this leaves development hell is another story.

superman-doomsday

Well we still don’t have a Death of Superman movie, and there have been two Superman films since this article:  Superman Returns (2006) and Man of Steel (2013).  DC has their slate of movies laid out until 2020 and I doubt we’ll see any of the storyline in there as the focus is really on trying to turn the Justice League into the money printing machine that is Marvel’s Avengers.

We did come close though in 2007 with the animated movie Superman: Doomsday.  It wasn’t exactly a straight up adaptation and as expected, completely ignored the Justice League fighting Doomsday and the Reign of Supermen storyline:

Superman’s black suit, and longer hair when he came back to fight the doppelgänger Superman is one of the few things to match up with the Doomsday storyline from the comics. Most other aspects, including the origins and appearance of Doomsday, the relationship of Superman and Lois Lane, the fight itself, and the events surrounding Superman’s return, were far different than their comic counterparts. In addition, all references to other characters throughout the arc, including the Justice League (who battled Doomsday in an attempt to stop him from reaching Metropolis) many supporting characters, and the four false Supermen (Superboy, the Eradicator, Cyborg Superman, and Steel) were left out entirely. Aspects of these characters were combined to form the clone Superman (Superboy was a clone, the Eradicator killed criminals, and Cyborg Superman attempted to convince everyone he was the genuine article).

As for the “last several years have been ripe with rumors” about an adaptation comment, that talk mostly focused on the failed Superman Lives movie penned by Kevin Smith, directed by Tim Burton and starring Nic Cage as Superman.  Yes…Nic Cage.  Thank God this never came to pass.

You can never unsee this now.
You can never unsee this now.

 

Storylines: “A Death In The Family”, The Dark Knight Returns
Adapted from: Batman 426-429, The Dark Knight Returns 1-4

An old, haggard Batman comes out of retirement to take back the Gotham nights, which have become a crime infested wasteland in his absence.

Everyone is pretty familiar with the Dark Knight storyline and how it launched the “grim-and-gritty” era of comics that is still alive today. But you may be wondering why I’ve stuck the “Death In The Family” storyline in with it?

Well, pretty simple. In my minds eye, I’ve always thought that the climax of “Family” would make a great prologue to “Dark Knight”. Several times throughout, there are references to the extent, “Remember what happened to Jason”, referring to something tragic that apparently happened to Robin #2, Jason Todd. And though “Family” was written after “Dark Knight” and it might be all a big coincidence, I think it gives a nice back story to Batman’s reluctance to take on the new female Robin as a partner.

Odds are: if Warner Brothers had any sense this would be _the_ next Bat flick. Franchise killer Joel Schumacher has said he’d like to do a year one type story (another Frank Miller Batman classic). That would be cool, but didn’t we already see year one in the original Batman? Obviously, either of these movies would be out of continuity with the original series of films, but at least “Dark Knight” is more original.

batmandarkknighreturns

 

Joel Schumacher thankfully never made another Batman film and we’d have to wait until 2005 for the Nolan/Bale reboot.  (Which did incorporate several aspects of Miller’s Year One storyline.)

Like Superman, over 2012-2013 DC released a two part animated adaptation of The Dark Knight Returns.  cash grab Deluxe Edition combing the two parts together was released at the end of 2013.  With a combined runtime of almost 2.5 hours, the film is very true to the content of the comic.  Robocop himself, Peter Weller, takes an adequate turn as the aged Dark Knight.

Back in the live action world, this one gets interesting.  While we have not had a straight up announcement of an adaptation, both the upcoming Batman v. Superman and Suicide Squad films have said that their Batman and Joker takes will be inspired by DKR.  There is also a rumored Batman vs Joker movie that could steal elements from the story as well.

 

Storylines: “Red Rain”, “Bloodstorm”, “Crimson Mist”, “Haunted Gotham”
Adapted from: Batman & Dracula: Red Rain, Batman: Bloodstorm, Batman: Crimson Mist, Batman: Haunted Gotham

You may think this is a little bit of an odd choice. The storyline? Upon fighting Dracula in this Elseworlds (out of regular DC continuity) story, Batman himself becomes a vampire. Now he must protect Gotham from the usual evils, but also himself, as he battles his bloodlust.

“Seems like an interesting story,” you say. “But what does it have for the big screen?”

Well, I see this as being all about atmosphere. If done correctly, it could be one of the creepiest films in recent years. Besides, wouldn’t it just be cool to see good old Bats turn into a true creature of the night?

Odds are: we’ll never see this one.

batmanvampire

 

Not sure why I included Haunted Gotham in there as it is not part of the Vampire Batman storyline.  Probably because it has a similar feel and same creative team.

While Vampire Batman likes to make appearances now and then in the DC multiverse (including the upcoming Convergence), I really don’t see this happening.  Perhaps as an animated feature, but with DC currently concentrating on adapting New 52 storylines, I don’t see them mining this source material from 1991-2001.  (The animated Batman vs Dracula (2005) draws some artistic inspiration from Kelly Jones’ artwork, but really has nothing to do with this arc.)

Storyline: “Monsters Unleashed”
Adapted from: Fantastic Four #347-349

Sure, there was a dreadful, never released FF movie made. Sure, a new film is in development hell. But does anyone care? I guess diehard FF fans. I think Joe Average would be much more excited if the Fantastic Four consisted of Spider-Man, Wolverine, Ghost Rider and the Hulk. Don’t you?

And that is exactly what happens when the original FF are kidnapped and the four heroes above step in to take their place. (And of course, rescue Reed, Sue, Johnny and Ben.)

Odds are: a fun romp but…never gonna happen.

 

ff_monsters_unleashed

The Fantastic Four managed to escape development hell for two movies in 2005 and 2007 to mediocre reviews and success.  A new reboot is due in August 2015 which based on the previews I’m going to say will have mediocre reviews and success.

We’ll never see the New Fantastic Four on the big screen.  The biggest issue with this getting made right now is that Fox owns Wolverine and the Fantastic Four (who don’t necessarily have to appear), Marvel owns the Hulk and Ghost Rider (Dear God, don’t let Nic Cage anywhere near this) and while Sony and Marvel do have an agreement about Spider-Man, Fox and Sony do not.  The odds of this happening without all this legal red tape are slim as it is, and this makes the chances pretty much nonexistent.

Storyline: Kingdom Come
Adapted from: Kingdom Come 1-4

The future of the DC Universe is not a pretty place. Vigilantes and less than caring heroes are the norm. So, when “old timers”, including Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman return to try and set things right, all hell brakes loose.

Another grand epic that just would never get the budget it needed…unless it was animated. I’ve always thought a computer generated version would do this story the most justice. We all know that what looks good in comics doesn’t always translate to the big screen. But with animation, all the characters would look fantastic. Effects could be easily done and only the actors voices need be hired. All significantly cutting down on costs.

A few years down the road, with continued advances in computer animation, and a marketing campaign that lets adults know this ain’t no Saturday morning cartoon carry-over, and I think Kingdom Come would be a smash.

Odds are: who knows. I don’t expect to see it anytime soon, but maybe some Hollywood big shot will read this and get the ball rolling. (Yeah, sure, whatever.)

72329-dc-kingdom-come

My initial thought is that Kingdom Come is still just too big to work on the big screen.  But with a majority of the characters depicted above about the appear in Justice League and solo movies, maybe this is closer to a possible reality than ever.  It would still be epic in scope and storyline wise probably too long to be encased in a single movie.

The other disadvantage DC has here is that unlike the way Marvel can build towards Infinity War, they can’t really set the groundwork for Kingdom Come without ending up with everybody aging very quickly.  Not to mention they already are going the “old” Batman route, how old is he going to be in a Kingdom Come reality?  Which has to make you figure if we see anything even close to Kingdom Come, it will be significantly altered from the source material.

I still think an epic animated movie, possibly series of movies like DKR, is the way to go.

Although Kingdom Come has not been directly adapted to other media, certain elements or material depicted in its issues have been taken as inspiration for scenes created for adaptations of other DC Comics properties existing in the mainstream continuity, such as the following:

In Justice League Unlimited, in the episode “Clash”, the scenes depicting the climax of the battle between Superman and Captain Marvel, are directly inspired by the same event in Kingdom Come.

Batman has made a habit of suddenly disappearing during a dialogue, and his interlocutor then discovers he or she has been left talking alone. This also happens in Kingdom Come, only this time, it’s Batman who suffers it, when Superman suddenly disappears, to which Batman replies “So that’s what that feels like”. In Christopher Nolan’s film The Dark Knight Rises, an identical scene takes place, only that instead of Superman, it is Catwoman who leaves Batman talking to himself, uttering exactly the same line. In the animated film Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, a variation of the scene also happens, with Barry Allen leaving Flashpoint Batman talking to himself. Upon discovering that, the latter remarks “So I’m finally on the other end of that trick.”

Bruce Timm’s design for the aged Bruce Wayne’s likeness in Batman Beyond is consistent with his appearance in Kingdom Come, which in turn was inspired by Gregory Peck’s likeness.

In the episode “Triumvirate of Terror!” of Batman: Brave and the Bold, the last scene is set 50 years in the future. The aged versions of Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman bear visual similarities to how they were depicted in Kingdom Come. This especially applies to Batman who wears an exoskeleton as he did in Kingdom Come; as well as a hovering black wheelchair that transforms into an armored suit similar to the one he wore in the last part of the mini-series.

 

Storyline: Robocop Vs. Terminator
Adapted from: Robocop Vs. Terminator 1-4

Along the same lines as Alien Vs. Predator (which would also be very, very cool to see), take two successful film franchises (minus Arnie), throw in some time travel and lots of action and you’ve got a hit. Name recognition alone will at least draw decent crowds.

Odds are: I’d expect to see Aliens Vs. Predator before this baby ever came along. But I don’t expect either to be made. (At least not anytime soon.)

avp-poster

I should have stuck with my initial commect of expecting to see AVP first.  At least I added the “not anytime soon”.  But not long after, 2004 in fact, we got our first Alien vs Predator movie.  Followed by a surprising (to me anyway) sequel in 2007.  I guess it shouldn’t have been that surprising as they did surprisingly ok box office:

Alien vs. Predator was released in North America on 13 August, in 3,395 theatres. The film grossed $38.2 million over its opening weekend for an average of $11,278 per theatre, and was number one at the box office. The film spent 16 weeks in cinemas and made $80,281,096 in North America. It grossed $9 million in the United Kingdom, $16 million in Japan, and $8 million in Germany and totalled $92,262,423 at the international box office. This brought the film’s worldwide gross to $172,543,519, making it the highest grossing film in either the Predator or Alien franchises (excluding Prometheus, which grossed over $403 million worldwide). It ranks second behind Aliens at the domestic box office, and fourth behind the first three Alien films and the first Predator when adjusted for inflation.

A sequel, Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem, was released on 25 December 2007.  Directed by brothers Greg and Colin Strause, the story continues from the conclusion of Alien vs. Predator. The film was panned, and despite having a worldwide theatrical gross of nearly $130 million, the film grossed less than its predecessor.

But the movie we are supposed to be talking about is Robocop vs Terminator.  Which has never and likely will never get made.  The closest we’ll likely ever get is this video game released in 1993.

Robocop-vs-Terminator-1

Storyline: Shadowman
Adapted from: Shadowman (vol. 2) 1-4

Have you even heard of Shadowman? Perhaps not. But with a new Nintendo 64 game out, another(!!) relaunched comic and I think appearances on the show Nightman, it may be time to get the Shadowman film into development.

I don’t really know much about Shadowman either, but this four issue run by Garth Ennis, featuring the debut of the new Shadowman known as Zero, has violent, mid-budget, B-movie, cult classic written all over it.

Odds are: with the increased exposure of Shadowman, maybe we’ll see this one day. Maybe.

shadowman

In October 2012, Valiant Entertainment announced a film version of Shadowman, produced by Sean Daniel and written by J. Michael Straczynski.  The plan was for the first draft of “Shadowman” to be turned in by late spring 2013, and shooting to start in early 2014.  That obviously never happened.  However, Valiant has recently announced plans to try to launch their own superhero cinematic universe, which would include the Straczynski penned Shadowman film.  With superhero movies all the rage, we might actually see this get made, though it will not be based on the Ennis book, but closer to the original Jack Boniface Shadowman.

Storyline: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
Adapted from: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen 1-6

Take some of the most famous literary figures (including the Invisible Man, Alan Quartermain and Mr. Hyde) and make them a crime solving team and what do you get? Besides the most original series in a long time, the basis for a great movie. Budget would be relatively low, with the exception of effects for Mr. Hyde, and the storyline is solid.

Odds are: It remains to be seen if this will gain the esteem that other Alan Moore works have generated. If so, look for years of rumors, and for it to appear on many “should be made” and “best of” lists.

league_of_extraordinary_gentlemen

 

Let’s try to forget that this one surprisingly actually got made in 2003 into the monstrosity known as LXG.  I can see why Alan Moore distanced himself from any involvement with the film.  (C’mon…we know Alan Moore is going to do that anyway, but he sure was justified here.)

Storyline: Rising Stars
Adapted from: um…Rising Stars

Only two issues old, time will tell if this one is a classic in the making as well.

Odds are: Even with Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski as the driving force, I don’t see this being much more than a TV mini-series at this stage.

rising-stars-comic(1)

 

I don’t know if Rising Stars every reached the epic heights people envisioned for it when it began in 1999, and I blame the scheduling issues for a lot of that.

The comic was published in August 1999, monthly at first by Top Cow/Image Comics, and then under the Joe’s Comics imprint. Within a few months, however, there were unscheduled artist changes and unexplained delays by Top Cow in shipping the comics—sometimes lasting months.

The comic itself came to an unexpected halt after issue 21 due to internal arguments between Straczynski and Top Cow. Straczynski claimed he was cut out of the loop on the potential Rising Stars movie. After communication broke down between them, he held back the scripts for the last three issues, and the entire comic was put on hold. In addition to an apology for the way Straczynski was treated in regard to the possible film, Top Cow relented by giving him the full rights to an anthology comic he had written for them, Dream Police (later published by Marvel Comics), as well as the rights to the name and logo for the Joe’s Comics imprint.

The last issue of Rising Stars was published in March 2005. During the intervening time, Straczynski had gone on to write a revamp of Marvel’s Squadron Supreme, Supreme Power.

(Supreme Power…go read that too…)

More on this potential movie and the relationship with Top Cow straight from JMS himself:

JMS: It wasn’t so much the relationship per se, as a very specific situation that turned the whole thing upside-down. MGM had optioned RISING STARS, and I’d signed to write the first draft of the movie. I did my draft, and some revisions, and the studio decided to go to two other writers for a rewrite. Fair enough. I’d taken my shot at the screenplay, I wasn’t yet known as a movie writer — that would have to come much later — so they were well within their rights to move on. No problem.

But, my contract specifically stipulated that I was to be kept informed, and to receive copies of every draft as they came in. Months passed. I kept asking Top Cow if any drafts or outlines had come in. They said no. Repeatedly. Then, one night, I was at the airport in Vancouver (where I was producing Jeremiah for Showtime), about to get on a plane to LA, when I ran into the producer, who’d been in town on other projects. I asked how it was going and he said they were waiting for the second draft, which they expected in a week or so. Meaning there had been a first draft, and notes, and meetings, and I’d not been informed about any of it.

I raised hell about it, and was told, in fairly concise terms, to go pound sand. So I did the only thing I could do: I went on strike, refusing to deliver the last issues of RISING STARS until this was resolved. In time, it did get resolved, and the book started coming out again, but it kind of ruined the whole relationship. When it came time for MGM to renew the rights, I opted not to do so, and have held onto those rights (and the film rights to Midnight Nation) ever since. (At one point they offered nearly a million bucks to buy out all the rights, money I could have used, but I said no.) In my original deal with Top Cow, I’d traded away all future residuals in both projects in order to keep my ownership of the film/TV rights. It was the right deal to make, and I’d make it again today.

So it doesn’t sound like we’ll see a film any time soon, but it does have some acclaim and if Watson likes it, it must be doing something right.  24 issues are going to be hard to boil down and cram into one movie.  So they’d either need to take a section of it and make a first movie, or try to keep it intact and go the TV route.  The issue they’ll have here is that the budget could be more than any studios would be willing to pay for an unproven property.  But also, I always felt like, although they are different beasts, that NBCs Heroes was the watered down version of Rising Stars and the closest we’ll ever see to an adaptation.

(And I guess my memory vault is not what it used to be as Rising Stars was the whole impetus for this article and I barely mentioned it in the original post and said it would probably be a mini-series…)

Storyline: Watchmen
Adapted from: Watchmen 1-12

I’ve never read it, but this seems obligatory.

Odds are: don’t hold your breath.

watchmen_ver19_xlg

Oops.

I have at least remedied the fact that I have never read it though, thanks to peer pressure from Ryan.  It was fantastic.  I liked the movie too, but can understand those that don’t.  It’s still shocking that it ever got made, and while there may be division on the narrative of the end result, there is no doubt it looks spectacular.

Storyline: Danger Girl
Adapted from: Danger Girl

No particular issues (there are barely any anyway), but wouldn’t we all like to see a team of super babes fight crime and steal back priceless artifacts from the bad guys in true 007 style?

Oh wait, it’s already being made. Though under a different name: Charlie’s Angels. Nevermind.

This one's for you Watson!
This one’s for you Watson!

With Charlie’s Angels having gone back into retirement, and Danger Girl still putting out the odd issue, maybe one day we’ll see some form of this, but I have my doubts.  If nothing became of it in the late 90’s, early 2000’s, I don’t see much interest now.  I think the closest we’ll ever get was a Danger Girl video game by THQ And n-Space, inc. that was released for Sony PlayStation in 2000, likely at the height of DG popularity.  It was loosely based on the first series which consisted of seven comic issues, but there were many significant changes from the original storyline, such as Abbey Chase being a veteran Danger Girl operative and Natalia Kassle working for The Hammer from the very beginning of the adventure, along with a new member of the team that never was present in the comic books was introduced, named ‘JC’.

Off with their hot pants!
Jimmy Impossible

…Yes…I ended all my columns with that battle cry…it’s a long story…

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