Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Without Tights...



It came to my attention when posting about the Mouse's new line up over at Toon Disney, errr Disney XD, that a lot of their line up are super-heroes. Superheroes that don't belong to Disney and it represented a huge hole in their catalog of films that have come out in the past or are scheduled for release in the future...

Perhaps you've seen the news about Warner Bros. halting all comic book related productions last week? I certainly hope this doesn't screw up the next big production they have coming out, "Green Lantern" but rather is more of a refocusing of the company's strategy on guys running around in tights. It seems the common notion among brainiac Suits right now is that Superheroes have become a genre just like Action, Adveneture, Thrillers, Horror, Sci-Fi and others. I guess when Warner looked at the profits they'd made this year they noticed those silly comic book characters generated close to 15% of their income. So now they seem to think it's no longer just a "kid" thing. These guys could have talked to me and saved a whole lot of times and money... sheesh!

Of course, this doesn't mean they totally get it now that "The Dark Knight" has given them a stiff shot of pop-culture reality. Jeff Robinov, the head of production at Warner happened to mention that now all their properties were going to be brooding and dark. He still didn't get it. Dark Knight succeeded because it was a great adaption, but were they to do the same to Supes I don't think the success would be replicated. A brooding Man of Steel would more than likely turn off the comic book fans as well as general audiences. As I've stated before, if you want a great Superman film then get Brad Bird to write and direct it and then just get out of his way... but they ain't listening to me. Trust me, I know having been in pitch meetings with some of these guys.



Anyway... it seems that Warner now realizes what a gold mine it was buying National Periodicals/DC Comics back in the early 70's. A bargain today, really. And well, Marvel has their own studio practically and a distribution deal primarily through Paramount for the foreseeable future. So where does that leave the Mouse?



I mean, the number one and two comic book companies are taken. So it's not likely there will be anything coming from them. But there are genuine characters and stories that are not owned by the Big Two that they could purchase. I mean, even small independent comic companies have produced comics that have been great at the box office or great critically. Everything from "Men in Black" to "Road to Perdition" have come from small companies with big talent. So the idea would be, if the Disney Suits want to pursue a few characters/comics that they can turn into cash cow franchises then this is the route. But what characters and what comics? Well, Blue Sky Disney has compiled a list of ten properties in the world of comics that would be ripe for the rodents in TeamDisney to pick.

Some of these properties are in development at other studios right now while others are lying in the dark waiting to be discovered. Someone should make these stories into films and if Disney is smart, they'll be the ones to do it...

In no particular order:








The Umbrella Academy - The 2008 Eisner Award winner for Best Limited Series from Dark Horse Comics, written by Gerald Way and illustrated by Gabriel Ba is about a group of superheroes that gather together after the death of their adoptive father, who was a rich, eccentric millionaire that was in reality an alien from another planet. He gathered these super-powered beings together to save the world from an unknown menace. This could be Disney's "Hellboy". The comic it's closest to is "Doom Patrol." Hopefully Universal won't exercise the option it has with Dark Horse and the Mouse can step in...









The Bozz Chronicles - Written by David Michelinie and illustrated by Bret Blevins, this is an old and little known one from the 80's(1986 to be exact)... Released only as a six issue mini-series from Epic Comics, "Bozz" tells the story of an alien that crash lands on Earth in turn of the century Victorian London, he's depressed, constantly contemplating suicide due to being stranded here amongst what he deems to be dim-witted savages. A prostitute named Mandy,convinces him to become a private detective and solve crimes to keep his superior intellect occupied. Think of this as the "X-Files" meets "Moonlighting" by way of "The Night Stalker" only told from an alien's point of view or an alien Sherlock Holmes versus the paranormal. A truly fun read that was lost along the way. It's just waiting to be discovered(Robert Zemeckis is now at Disney, perhaps he should go back and revisit this like he did a couple years ago)...









Deathblow - Written and illustrated by Jim Lee and Brandon Choi, this story is sort of like Marvel's "The Punisher" with the regenerative powers of "Wolverine" and some of the psionic powers of "Kitty Pride" with religious overtones. This would more than likely be released through Touchstone Pictures as the tone is uber-violent. The rights to this one are murky, because Lee sold the Wildstorm company to DC several years ago and it's unknown if he sold all the characters to them as well. That said, it'd be a really cool adventure with Deathblow or even his former Navy Seal buds known as "Team 7."














Criminal Macabre
- Follows a character named Cal McDonald, created by Steve Niles that's a sort of Philip Marlowe for the paranormal. This character would be closest to "Constantine" in the comic book universe. The stories are deeply graphic and very dark so Touchstone Pictures would have to be the ones releasing it, but if you like Horror-Noir then this would be right up your alleyway.

















Mr. Monster - Michael T. Gilbert's darkly comic tale of the worlds greatest monster hunter. A wonderfully pulp superhero that seems drawn from the pages of "Doc Savage," "The Spider" or "The Shadow," Dr. Strongfort Stearnis is the world's greatest expert in the occult. When he puts on his superhero tights he becomes a champion of justice against the world of the dark... Monsters beware.













Youngblood - Created by Rob Liefeld, the group known as Youngblood is a very high-profile team of superheroes that are sanctioned, administrated and marketed by a branch of the American Government. Unlike "Watchmen" which also takes a view of "What if" super powered beings actually existed, Youngblood takes a more positive approach where these heroes are treated like superstars and professional athletes. The comic this is primarily like is "The New Teen Titans" series by George Perez and Marv Wolfman, which is ironically what inspired Liefeld to create it in the first place. The characters would make a great film adaption and possibly give Disney its own X-Men(though younger and more representative of the Titans).















Danger Girl - This comic book created by J. Scott Campbell and Andy Hartnell is a tongue in cheek satire of the spy genre. Imagine it as the Bond Girls meets Charlie's Angels and Charlie is kind of like 007 himself or at least he looks a heck of a lot like Sean Connery. The series is full of action and outrageous villains wrapped in over the top adventures. It would be a very fun romp through the world of spies and spiettes.












Alien Legion - This title is an old one from the early days of Epic Comics created by Carl Potts and Alan Zelenetz with the amazing art of Frank Cirocco, it follow a military unit called Force Nomad, comprised of the worst of the worst losers in the universe, essentially an outer space version of the French Foreign Legion. This title would be a marketing bonanza for the Mouse with franchise and merchandising possibilities beyond measure... oh, and did I mention the stories were good too? For the little boy that wanted to travel the stars with his jetpack and shoot his raygun, this one is for you.














Fathom - I know that this looks like it's just a bunch of cheesecake, but don't let those beautiful girls on the covers fool you. Created by writer/artist Michael Turner, Fathom tells the story of a young girl with amnesia named Aspen, who turns up on board a cruise ship that vanished for ten years, in a story that is one part "The Abyss," one part "Man From Atlantis" and another part mystery soap opera, we follow Aspen and those around her as she finds out about her past and our world's future. The plot is incredibly intricate and extremely detailed, click on the link if you want to know all the details. This is a project I could see James Cameron working on, because it's so heavily influenced by his style of film making. Who knows, if it works out you might see an attraction in Tokyo DisneySEA after it's released...












100 Bullets - A gritty crime drama written by Brian Azzarello and illustrated by Eduardo Risso, it's like "Road to Perdition" or "A History of Violence" and would be one of those more "mature" adaptions. There are no men in tights walking around in this comic. Perhaps the closest other comic to this is "Sin City" as both follow the noble and bad in doing what is often ugly and sometimes good. Disney needs to get the rights to these Film Noir graphic novels and then call Michael Mann to adapt them. Did you hear me, Dick Cook?

15 comments:

Lucas Needs A Few Dollars More said...

Hey Hunter, Star Wars and Indiana Jones don't belong to Disney either. They are licensed from Luca$film.

Jrriddle said...

Really?Young Blood? Really?
Wow I can't believe someone else remembers Alien Legion and The Boz Chronicles,I think Boz would be a great Disney property, but wasn't Epic owned by Marvel? Or was it creator owned but published by Marvel?
Danger Girl and Fathom would also be good properties but would Disney do something that could be seen as risqué? Besides they would probably turn them into tween characters.
Disney has the rights to the greatest hero ever Super Goof, they should develop that character!

Swatsi said...

Umbrella Academy might be a good idea.

What about Invincible, I believe it has been picked up by Paramount though..

urban myth said...

The Alan Moore Youngblood years would be rather cool. I like the story lines that writers other than Liefeld did.

scissorhands said...

What about the new superheroes that Disney is developing with Stan Lee with his new company?

clockworkmonkey said...

"A brooding Man of Steel would more than likely turn off the comic book fans as well as general audiences."

And did, in fact, in "Superman Returns."

CornerDemon said...

Ah, but you forget, the Mouse could tap these things and then... never do anything with them like the other comic properties they own.

As I understand it, Disney owns the ENTIRE CrossGen catalog. Including such awesome stories as Ruse, Sojourn, Meridian, and Abadazad. ((Abadazad was practically MADE for Disney; and yet, they won't even finish printing the series!)).

I think the reason they tapped all those other heroes for their XD campaign is because they're all proven hits. I just don't think Disney is interested in superheroes as a genre. Otherwise, they'd be doing something with the CrossGen catalog.

Anonymous said...

What an interesting post. I've thought that Youngblood and Fathom would make great Disney properties. It also looks like Mr. Monster, The Umbrella Academy, and Alien Legion would too.
I wish that they would reconsider some of the fantasy books that they had optioned and then abandoned - like the George R.R. Martin edited Wild Cards and Clive Barker's Abarat.

Anonymous said...

As long as Disney doesn't pick up that moronic Savage Dragon from Image Comics. I lost all respect from its creator, Eric Larson, when he had his character endorse Barack Obama on the book's front cover. What a schmuck.

Anonymous said...

Disney creates their own types of heroes (Tron, Jack Sparrow); not to mention their upcoming Prince of Persia: Sands of Time..
I could see Disney adapting one or two of these though.

I personally just wanna see more animated musicals.

Rogério said...

These are all great suggestions, but I need add that Disney already has a great "super-hero" concept in their hands:Gargoyles. This serie could be a very good movie.

Sao Paulo, Brazil

Honor Hunter said...

Mola, Mola...

Even when I don't post about Lucas you bug me about it. I'm beginning to think you're the one obsessed with the plaid and bearded one, not I...

Anonymous said...

Some hate posts have been popping up lately honor. Almost in sync with spokkers crap. Coincidence?

Book of Magic said...

While too brooding, dark, violent, sexual and political for Disney, I'd love to see someone pick up Dave Sim's Cerebus comic. Streamline the politics and focus on the action across the 300 Issue run, and that could be one awesome adult CGI movie. I'd love to see it. Not quite even a PG-13 Disney film, really, but still . . . I'd love to see a Cerebus film.

Ryan Kilpatrick said...

This is my favorite topic yet. Long time reader, first time poster. I'm both a comic nut and a Disney nut, so this is right up my alley.

The first thought I had was Bone, by Jeff Smith, which would be a perfect Disney flick, but I think it is taken somewhere else.

The Crossgen stuff is perfect, as Scion, Abadazad, Ruse and others are Disney films in waiting.

Terry Moore's new Echo series seems perfect for the new action films like Witch Mountain that Disney is making.

I agree with Fathom and Danger Girl as well, but Youngblood was not a good comic, and it's too much like other comics out there.