By Andy Hunsaker
The Incredible Hulk is in theaters now, as a reboot of the film franchise after stumbling out of the gate a few years ago. It ignores the prior installment, establishes its own version of history, and runs with it. There’s a lot of running in that movie. The same sort of idea is happening with this December’s Punisher: War Zone, as well. Here are five more Marvel characters who deserve a “reimagineering.”
Hear me out. Sam Raimi did a fantastic job bringing Spider-Man to the screen for the first time and kickstarting the Marvel renaissance. I enjoyed all three movies, despite how people heap abuse on Spider-Man 3. Disco Parker was a breath of fresh air and more in the direction that the franchise needs to go. Iron Man really drove the point home about what’s really been missing in the Spider-Man movies – the funny. Tony Stark is not funnier than Spider-Man. That’s a rule. Spidey, behind the mask, is a zany nutty quipster, and that’s just not something Tobey Maguire is ever going to pull off. So let all the cast members go their separate ways, as they keep rumbling that they will. Let’s get the new batch in there, and give Spidey some fun dialog for once, delivered by someone as quick-witted as Robert Downey Jr. (if there is such a person anywhere in the world).
Mark Steven Johnson said all the right things to appease the fanboys – appearing to be a fanboy himself. The trouble is that he just doesn’t have the stuff needed to make a good film translation – he hit the fanboy beats without really selling them, and it makes for something a bit lifeless and slipshod. In the commentary for Daredevil, though, he seems to at least be aware of what’s wrong with the film, but knowing what’s wrong and being able to fix what’s wrong are two different things. Marvel’s brooding New York devil has often been the darker side of the Spider-Man coin – a lawyer by day, a vigilante by night, making sure that anyone who escapes legal justice gets beaten down and taught a lesson. His life is an insane noir and everyone he ever loves is doomed to an awful fate. Such is the luck of Matt Murdock, and there’s still a heck of a lot to be mined here. Sans Affleck.
Daredevil was underwhelming, but it made enough money to warrant an attempt at a spin-off, but Jennifer Garner’s movie was turgid and even more lackluster than its predecessor. Elektra Natchios is a Greek assassin who kills people with sai while wearing skimp clothing, so why does the movie feature more of Garner moping in a turtleneck? It should’ve been hard to screw up her formula, but considering that she was created by Frank Miller specifically to die as one of Daredevil’s twisted love affairs, she might not quite have enough to really draw from. Still, Marvel has a shortage of recognizable female characters (don’t hold your breath for a She-Hulk or Tigra movie), so they should try again to make Elektra work.
More of Mark Steven Johnson’s handiwork, driving home the fact that he can make things look cool, but he doesn’t have the knack for superhero storytelling. A biker with a flaming skull for a head riding a giant flaming motorcycle and slashing people with chains has to look cool, and it did. It looked badass. But that’s pretty much all this movie did, besides show off the cleavage of Eva Mendes. There’s a golden rule here – you don’t put Sam Elliott in your movie, give him awesome devil-cowboy powers, and then not have him do anything. A supernatural demon possessing a bike-riding hillbilly stuntman to get revenge for people who can’t do it themselves is just a great concept, and it deserves better than it got. But man, did it look cool, huh?
Tim Story’s take on Marvel’s First Family – the first Marvel superheroes, actually – was very hit and miss. He’s aces on the Silver Surfer and the Human Torch, and jokers on almost everything else. No disrespect to Michael Chiklis, but the Thing is one of the greatest comic book characters of all time, and although he was good, he still felt a bit off. The worst crime is how he handled Dr. Doom, who is the Darth Vader of the Marvel universe and should be written and treated as being that freaking cool and imposing. Instead, he’s a mildly foppish little snot. Even just a little voice modulation when he’s wearing the mask would have gone a long way, but alas, no. The Invisible Woman is essentially Marvel’s Wonder Woman, and Jessica Alba just does not have the chops for it. This relaunch really needs someone who gets these guys to write the script and bring that vision to reality. If you’re going to have funny family moments, it’s best to make sure they’re actually funny.