Category Archives: Super Heroes
No hero can outrun his origin story… not for long. Luke Cage was an anomaly in the superhero world for essentially picking up with Luke Cage as he was, but this couldn’t last for long. In fact, not much longer than the reluctant hero who just wants to be a normal person storyline. It should come then as no surprise that the 3rd and 4th episodes of Luke Cage fall right into place within these two tropes… and that’s not really a bad thing.
Somebody has to die. When you have a reluctant hero, you also know that some untimely death will be what springs them into action. Superhero tropes are becoming well-trodden only 20 years or so into the genre, and the stories themselves are struggling under the weight of them. However, a good performance can sell anything. Luke Cage did right by getting Frankie Faison.
Marvel’s Netflix partnership is now in its fourth season. So far, the quality has been a mixed bag. Daredevil went from a great first season that presented a dark, lived-in crime story with thought-provoking drama, strong characters, and strongly choreographed fight scenes to a second season that devolved into fantastical nonsense/magic storyline punctuated by unrealized potential in Punisher and the groan-inducing Elektra. Jessica Jones arrived with an outstanding first act to the season using a compelling villain, a strong (and still feminine) female hero, and an edgy metaphor for rape and abuse victims. This was bogged down by a weak middle act, bizarre character choices, and mostly salvaged by a solid ending. These shows have proven much more daring in content than the cookie-cutter Marvel films, even if the episode order should be more like 8-10 instead of the padded 13.
These shows will be culminating in The Defenders, a street level Avengers, that will see Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and possibly Punisher join forces. While we will still have to wait to see the latter two, we are now treated to Luke Cage. After making a memorable supporting turn in the JJ series, and proving he could yell, “sweet Christmas” and still seem cool, Mike Colter debuts his bulletproof hero for hire. The results are, predictably, mixed. The first episode is much too stodgy in its table-setting for the rest of the season, with clunky exposition and bad writing weighing down charming performances.
Following the unexpected success of Back to the Future, writer Bob Gale could do just about anything he wanted. That meant overseeing a movie adaptation of The Shadow that would never be made and writing the script for an unproduced Dr Strange movie. Now that Marvel’s Sorcerer Supreme is finally making his big screen debut later this year, I thought it would be fun to read an interview with Gale from the September 1986 issue of Starlog in which he discusses his take on the character.
Batman & Robin is the textbook definition of an infamous film. It’s considered one of the worst movies ever made, it’s almost every comic fan’s example of a terrible comic book movie, and, at the time, it was considered a franchise killer for the Batman series. It was also considered a career killer for many of the people who worked on it. However, is that really true or has the effect this movie had on their careers been exaggerated?
Here’s a forgotten piece of pop culture for you. I was going through the Starlog archives looking for stories to run and I stumbled across these promotional photos for a TV pilot based on Will Eisner’s pulp hero, The Spirit. The pilot was filmed in 1986, but the proposed series wasn’t picked up. So it eventually aired as a stand-alone movie the following year. The lead is none other than Flash Gordon star Sam Jones and that’s Nana Visitor of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine clutching his shoulder. The pilot was written by Steven E. de Souza prior to hitting it big with Die Hard.
It had been almost two decades since Superman had last appeared on the big screen. During that time, Warner Brothers had repeatedly tried and failed to find ways to reboot the franchise. Finally in 2006, Superman flew into theaters again in the aptly titled Superman Returns. The studio thought they had scored a major victory when they successfully poached director Bryan Singer from Fox’s X-Men series. Singer was a fan of the old Superman movies and he set out to pick up where Superman II had left off while ignoring the less-loved third and fourth Christopher Reeve entries.
There was reason to be optimistic. But unfortunately, Superman Returns didn’t quite deliver the goods. People have probably forgotten that critics mostly liked the new Superman. It performed reasonably well at the box office, but not up to Warner Brothers’ expectations. Ultimately, Singer’s take on Superman was scrapped in favor of Zach Snyder’s. In retrospect, that was probably a mistake. Ten years ago, Starlog Magazine was still excited about the upcoming return of the Man of Steel.
This week marks the 20th anniversary of the movie that changed the super hero genre forever (or not), The Phantom. Following the success of Batman, studios were scrambling to find a property that could duplicate the success of the Dark Knight. The problem was, Warner Brothers owned all the DC characters and the Marvel characters were too obscure, expensive or difficult to pull off. So Hollywood turned to pulp heroes like Dick Tracy, The Shadow, The Rocketeer and The Phantom and then were shocked when the desired Gen X audience rejected these movies based on their grandpa’s favorite protagonists.
The Phantom starred Billy Zane and former Buffy the Vampire Slayer Kristy Swanson. But it didn’t do their careers any favors. Instead, it was supporting player Catherine Zeta Jones who would go on to stardom.
Some things son’t change. Ten years ago, we were awaiting the release of what was supposed to be the last movie in the X-Men franchise. Now here we are a decade later preparing for the release of the latest movie in the series, X-Men: Apocalypse. Director Bryan Singer ditched the mutants after the first two movies for a crack at Superman. His effort, Superman Returns, was also covered in this issue. After both movies disappointed fans, both franchises received reboots. Singer eventually returned to the merry land of mutants and has made some efforts to wipe away Brett Ratner’s reviled entry in the series.
Back when there was still reason to hope that Last Stand would give the X-Men a fitting conclusion, it graced the cover of the May 2006 issue of Starlog.
Recently, Daffystardust pitted two free apps against each other in a Freemium smackdown. But where Daffy’s tastes run towards tapping screens to customize cities and/or theme parks, I’m more drawn to games that let me recreate super hero battles. As such, I’m comparing the new Avengers Alliance game to the mobile version of Injustice Gods Among Us.
This past week was Spring Break for the girls. Having recently moved, this year’s plans included a staycation. That meant Dad (aka me) stayed home from work and tried to get some work done while keeping the kids entertained. Not a lot of work got done, but we did discover the new DC SuperHero Girls cartoon and toy line. So, that’s something I guess.
My family and I recently spent a few days in Orlando at Universal’s theme park and entertainment complex, and there is plenty to like when a large company puts so much effort into drawing big crowds in with lively, exciting, and immersive attractions and environments. There are some obvious examples that people who have only thought about visiting Universal are probably already aware of. First and Foremost, there’s the twin Harry Potter lands. Also, there’s the expanded Simpsons area of the original Universal park. With a truly impressive group of properties like Shrek, Despicable Me, Jurassic Park, Transformers, Men in Black, and their legendary set of classic monsters to choose from, Universal has created a crowd-pleasing destination. This list will mostly avoid the more obvious examples of the attractions which pull people into the parks by the millions each year. Mostly. There will be little to no coverage of the new Diagon Alley area here and we’ll be sticking to the theme parks exclusively, so that means nothing about CityWalk or the resort where we stayed. You’ll have to wait for information on those topics in later posts.
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In 1989, Batman made his feature film debut more than a decade after Superman paved the way for the superhero genre. After spending years in development hell, Batman finally made his way to the big screen. In issue #142, Starlog offered its readers an exclusive look behind the scenes.