S.H.I.E.L.D. at 50: bigger than it has ever been

Jack Kirby's cover for Strange Tales 135 in 1965

Jack Kirby’s cover for Strange Tales 135 in 1965

This summer is the golden anniversary of S.H.I.E.L.D., Marvel Comics’ answer to the spy craze of the 1960s.

Marvel was barely hanging on at the start of the 1960s. Starting with The Fantastic Four in 1961, the comics company began a comeback. With new characters and revamped version of old characters, Marvel had momentum in the mid-1960s.

One obvious trend was the spy craze. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby already had launched a World War II war comic, Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos. The duo decided to also bring Fury into the “present day” of the 1960s and, an issue of the FF, established Fury survived the war and now worked for the CIA.

With S.H.I.E.L.D., Lee and Kirby took the concept a step further, establishing their own spy agency, which recruited Fury to be its new leader. S.H.I.E.L.D. even relied on Tony Stark to supply it with futuristic weaponry.

From its inception, S.H.I.E.L.D. had an uneven run. Lee hired Jim Steranko on the basis of his raw talent. Steranko chose S.H.I.E.L.D., in part because the comic wasn’t a huge success.

Steranko made his mark but was gone before the end of 1968. After his departure, there were attempts at revivals but none really took hold.

All of that changed in the 21st century. Marvel decided to make its own movies, starting with 2008’s Iron Man, starring Robert Downey Jr. S.H.I.E.L.D. was there at the start and, in an epilogue after the end titles, the audience saw a new Nick Fury in the person of Samuel L. Jackson.

Eventually, the Jackson version of Fury appeared in several Marvel movies (most recently in Avengers: Age of Ultron). Marvel, after it was acquired by Walt Disney Co., expanded into television. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has been renewed by ABC (another Disney property) for a third season.

S.H.I.E.L.D. now is bigger than it has ever been. Middle age is treating the Lee-Kirby creation pretty well.

The nemesis of S.H.I.E.L.D. from the start was Hydra, a villainous organization. Lee has said (as early as the mid 1970s) that S.H.I.E.L.D. was inspired by James Bond movies and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. In 2015, there’s an U.N.C.L.E. movie but no Thrush (the villainous organization featured in the original 1964-68 television series).

Yet, in both movies and television, Hydra is still going strong. Meanwhile, with 007 movies, SPECTRE has been on the inactive list because of legal disputes until this year’s 007 film SPECTRE. Life can be funny.

Will The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie have dash?

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. teaser poster

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. teaser poster

The Henry Cavill Online website has TRANSCRIBED ALL OF EMPIRE MAGAZINE’S recent story on The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie.

As a result, there are a few more details compared with other summaries posted recently.

Among the tidbits: director Guy Ritchie says he’s “not really a fan” of the original 1964-68 television series but he liked the basic components. “Just as I did with Sherlock (Holmes), I felt I could reinvent this,” he told Empire. The other main tidbit is that Hugh Grant, the new version of Alexander Waverly, did see the show, to the point of owning an U.N.C.L.E. toy car.

Anyway, Ritchie’s comments, while sharper, are consistent with another interview he gave to Empire last year.

So, with less than three months before the movie’s Aug. 14 premier, there really aren’t a lot of unanswered questions. There’s the detail of whether Jerry Goldsmith’s U.N.C.L.E. theme will be unused. But the far larger question is will the U.N.C.L.E. movie have dash?

Dash was a word Norman Felton, the executive producer of the television show, used to describe the feel of the series. It probably wasn’t so much the dictionary definition (“run or travel somewhere in a great hurry”) as a reference to “dashing” (“stylish or fashionable.”). In any case, it stuck and was something Felton’s colleagues always remembered. CLICK HERE for an interview with Sam Rolfe, the show’s developer, for an example.

Essentially, the U.N.C.L.E. movie has been stripped of its memes. No secret headquarters (Kingsman: The Secret Service utilized a very U.N.C.L.E.ish HQ). No evil organization Thrush (Marvel, in movies and TV shows is using Hydra, created in 1965 and inspired by Thrush).

Instead, the movie strips Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin to their essentials. Even there, some parts have been altered (Solo has a history of having once been an art thief).

In the Empire story, Ritchie says, “I suppose I wanted to make a spy movie of sorts… It was the first thing since Sherlock to which I’ve had a visceral reaction.”

But will it still have dash? We’ll have to see.

Some observations, questions about Trigger Mortis

NO! It's Trigger Mortis, not Tigger Mortis!

NO! It’s Trigger Mortis, not Tigger Mortis! (With apologies to A.A. Milne)

All of a sudden, Murder on Wheels doesn’t sound so bad: When the new James Bond continuation novel was announced, a big selling point was how it was based, in part, on a treatment Ian Fleming wrote for a never-produced 1950s television series.

Murder on Wheels was the title of the treatment. Author Anthony Horowitz said on Twitter on Oct. 2 it wouldn’t be used as the novel’s title, although it would be a chapter title. So early May 28, the world was told Trigger Mortis was the novel’s title.

Is Trigger Mortis really that much better? Obviously, somebody at Ian Fleming Publications thought so. Trigger Mortis was already used for the title of a 1958 crime novel. (CLICK HERE for details via The Rap Sheet website.) Meanwhile, on social media, the title generated puns, such as the illustration seen here, which was on Facebook. (Shout out to Chris Wright who found it and put it on Facebook.)

One of the most famous Bond women returns: The main surprise that was held under wraps until the May 28 title announcement was the novel is set two weeks after the events of Goldfinger and that Pussy Galore puts in an appearance.

In Ian Fleming’s original novels, James Bond occasionally thought about the women he had met. Examples: there were references to Tiffany Case in From Russia With Love, to Vesper in Goldfinger and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and to Honeychile Ryder in The Man With the Golden Gun. Still, they never showed up again, so Horowitz is trying something different.

Does the villain of Trigger Mortis have a tie to Goldfinger? The PRESS RELEASE for Trigger Mortis says characters include “a brand new Bond Girl Jeopardy Lane and a sadistic, scheming Korean adversary hell-bent on vengeance Jai Seung Sin, a.k.a Jason Sin.”

Oddjob, Auric Goldfinger’s henchman, was Korean and Goldfinger employed other Koreans. Could Jai Seung Sin be seeking revenge for the events of Goldfinger? We’ll see when the novel is published in September.

Trigger Mortis is title of new 007 novel; Pussy Galore returns

Ian Fleming Publications announced the title of Anthony Horwitz’s James Bond continuation novel is Trigger Mortis.

IFP made the announcement via Twitter shortly after midnight, U.K. time, on May 28.

Horwitz had teased the title on May 27, saying the title had two words, with the first word related to a horse. For the uninitiated, Trigger was the name of Roy Rogers’ horse. Although, the MI6 James Bond website says it refers to a U.K. comedy, Only Fools & Horses.

NOTE: the “Trigger” in the U.K. show was an ugly man who looked like a horse. That’s not the clue that Horowitz gave. He said the first word of the title “is a horse.”

The second word started with m, but wasn’t in the dictionary.

The novel is based, in part, on an outline Ian Fleming wrote in the 1950s for a never-made television series.

Horowitz’s story apparently is set in 1959 1957. IFP the past few days sent out “post cards” about Trigger Mortis. One showed New York’s Times Square. A movie marquee for The Horse Soldiers, released in 1959, is visible. You can CLICK HERE to see the post cards on the MI6 James Bond website.

UPDATE (7:30 P.M.): Author Horowitz said in a PRESS RELEASE that Trigger Mortis is set two weeks after Goldfinger (which was published in 1959, but set two years earlier) and that Pussy Galore is present.

“I was so glad that I was allowed to set the book two weeks after my favourite Bond novel, Goldfinger,” Horowitz said in the press release, “and I’m delighted that Pussy Galore is back. It was great fun revisiting the most famous Bond Girl of all – although she is by no means the only dangerous lady in Trigger Mortis.”

Here was the tweet IFP sent out:

UPDATE II (7:35 p.m.): It turns out Horowitz isn’t the first author to use Trigger Mortis as a title.

UPDATE III (8 p.m.) Orion Publishing put out a short promotional video.

UPDATE IV (8:13 p.m.). More details via YAHOO! NEWS:

As well as Ms Galore, famously played in the film version by Honor Blackman, the story will also see the secret agent rub shoulders with another Bond girl – Jeopardy Lane – and a sadistic Korean villain called Jai Seung Sin.

Horowitz teases his 007 novel’s title

UPDATED 3:55 p.m.: Anthony Horowitz teased the title of his new James Bond continuation novel on Twitter. He put out two tweets, separated by several hours.

Here’s the first:

As you might expect, this initiated a guessing game among fans.

The author teases a bit more in his second tweet. Apparently he couldn’t wait:

UPDATE II: For good measure, we get some hype from the official Ian Fleming Publications feed on Twitter:

Robert Rodriguez to direct Jonny Quest movie, Variety says

Race Bannon about to rescue Jonny Quest

Race Bannon about to rescue Jonny Quest

Robert Rodriguez will direct and co-write a live-action Jonny Quest movie, VARIETY REPORTED.

Here’s an excerpt:

Rodriguez has made a name for himself for his violent action pics, but his most successful films to date have been the family-friendly “Spy Kids” movies. That franchise comes from the same mold as “Jonny Quest,” making him seem like the perfect fit for the adaptation.

There are have been three versions of the cartoon, but the most popular among fans is the original, The Adventures of Jonny Quest. That consisted of 26 episodes that aired in prime-time on ABC during the 1964-65 season. Jonny Quest was the only son of important scientist Benton Quest. As a result, U.S. intelligent agent Race Bannon was assigned as combination tutor and bodyguard.

The cartoon was created by cartoonist Doug Wildey for producers William Hanna and Joseph Barbera. It was Hanna-Barbera’s answer to James Bond and development began after Barbera saw Dr. No. Hanna-Barbera initially intended to adapt the radio program Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy, but went with original characters instead. The Hanna-Barbera cartoon brand was later absorbed by Warner Bros.’s animation unit.

UPDATE (8 p.m.): If you want to check them out, THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER and DEADLINE: HOLLYWOOD have stories on this subject.

Horowitz confirms 007 novel title to be revealed May 28

Hardly a big deal, but author Anthony Horowitz confirmed the title of his James Bond continuation novel will be revealed on May 28, the 107th anniversary of the birth of 007 creator Ian Fleming.

Horowitz took to Twitter, releasing a picture of himself signing Bond book proofs (he says there’re part of a lot of 100 such proofs).

In turn, fans shot off a lot of questions, including the inevitable:

Ian Fleming Publications likes to use May 28 to make Bond-related announcements. Horowitz’s book is based on a Fleming treatment for a never-made television series. The new novel will be a period pieces set in the 1950s.

UPDATE (8:50 p.m.): Shortly before 5 p.m. New York time, Horowitz, IN ANOTHER TWEET, indicated the title will be revealed very early on May 28. He also said there would be “one surprise.”

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