We're well into summer blockbuster season, and even if you couldn't tell by the sweltering temperatures outside, you'd only need to look at the number of superhero movies -- both in theaters and about to be released -- to realize it.
Thor started us off in May, and X-Men: First Class came out just a few weeks ago. Both have done well at the box office, and also surprisingly well among critics. Time will tell if Captain America (July) or Green Lantern, in theaters tomorrow, can win people over as well (though advance word is...not promising).
Marvel and DC, the biggest players on the comic book block, haven't had to dig too deep for superhero subjects. Yet. True, X-Men: The Last Stand trotted out the likes of Jubilee and Leech (Marrow must have been at the dermatologist), but the core mutants remained pretty bad ass. That said, the release of Green Lantern and the desperation felt by studios to continue churning out deafening, pyrotechnic-driven films further proves we're perilously close to a New Mutants movie.
There are still some big(-ish) names in the Marvel/DC pantheon, however. Sadly, some of them are never going to make it to the big screen.
A.k.a. The Longest Running Joke In Comics Not Named Matter-Eater-Lad. It was bad enough DC Comics tried to butch him by making him look like Thor (giving him a hook instead of a hammer) and making a gag out of the guy on Entourage, the Aquaman of HBO series.
To get around trying the chore of making a compelling two-hour movie about a guy who communicates telepathically with marine life and is invulnerable to pressure (he must be great at taking the LSAT), they tried to make a TV series. No dice. Luckily, it ended up answering the age-old question: "How lame is Aquaman?" "So lame not even the CW would pick up his television pilot."
Marvel Comics never seemed to know what to do with Cage, the "Hero for Hire," once they bounced him from his generic street gang roots: He was with the Defenders, then he replaced the Thing in the Fantastic Four before his long alliance with Iron Fist and his stint with the New Avengers.
Then again, they couldn't just kill the guy off. Marvel's track record with black superheroes is...spotty, at best. Captain America's sidekick, the Falcon, was a former pimp who had to be taught to be a good citizen by the Red Skull (who happened to be a Nazi), and then there's Storm, the blue-eyed, white-haired "African" weather mutant.
Hell, the best African-
American super they've got is Black Panther, and that project is doomed because lawsuit bait Wesley Snipes has attached himself to it.
Don't blame me that studio execs are notoriously chauvinistic, or that Catwoman and Elektra were Amazonian level flops. They've been kicking around ideas for a live-action WW movie for over ten years (Sandra Bullock? Beyoncé? Catherine Zeta-Jones?) and the project even had Joss Whedon attached for a while. Why that news excited anyone is beyond me. Did Alien: Resurrection really -- to paraphrase John Bender -- really pump anyone's nads?
Warner Bros. claims to be "nearing" a greenlight for both a Wonder Woman and an Aquaman film. Yeah. And I'm this close to playing quarterback for the Texans.
Besides, there's no hope of topping Lynda Carter.
Neil Gaiman's Goth favorite about Dream (who looks like a skinny version of the Cure's Robert Smith) and the rest of the Endless consistently ranks alongside Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns as one of the most critically acclaimed comic properties of all time. Problem is, instead of punching things up with some boffo action sequences like its more violent brethren, Sandman relies primarily on a bunch of mopes with dark eyeliner nattering on for issues on end.
I couldl summarize because it's easy, but the fact is that a lack of action -- and the length of the series (75 issues) -- makes it a prohibitively difficult property to adapt for film. Maybe if the BBC had a spin-off network for young people ("BBC-X," perhaps) they could do a miniseries.
Speak of the devil...
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This Wolverine knockoff was inexplicably popular in the 1990s, probably among the same speculative fans who bought 12 variant covers of Spawn and Lady Death. He's a superhuman bounty hunter with a penchant for biker garb and extreme violence, something not quite so hip in today's Sons of Anarchy world.
Snatch director Guy Ritchie was attached to a movie version until Sherlock Holmes made him rich again. Now he's directing the sequel and Lobo will likely remain in limbo. Not because Americans are tired of assholes beating the shit out of each other (Real Housewives of New Jersey is still on, isn't it?), but because Warner Bros. wants a PG-13 rating. Good luck with that.