Joe Sinnott, Marvel’s ace inker, dies at 93

Splash page to a 1967 Nick Fury story, drawn by Jim Steranko and inked by Joe Sinnott

Joe Sinnott, an inker who contributed to the look of Marvel titles such as the Fantastic Four, died today at 93, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Monthly comic books, because of their deadline pressures, typically had one artist draw in pencil with another going over the drawings in ink.

Sinnott drew particular praise for inking Jack Kirby’s work on the Fantastic Four in the 1960s.

Sinnott’s “smooth, stylized ink work” brought “a new sheen and consistency” to Kirby’s pencils, THR said.

The artist came aboard the FF as the title, primarily plotted by Kirby, exploded with new characters such as the Silver Surfer, Galactus, the Inhumans and the Black Panther.

Sinnott also worked with other Marvel artists, including Gene Colan, John Buscema and some issues of the Jim Steranko written and drawn run of Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Sinnott retired in the early 1990s but continued to appear on the comic book show circuit and do paid commissions.

Writer and artist Walter Simonson issued a tribute to Sinnott on Twitter.

UPDATE (10:35 p.m. New York time): Jim Steranko also issued his own tribute to Joe Sinnott on Twitter.

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Denny O’Neil, who helped revive Batman, dies

Splash page to the Batman story “There Is No Hope in Crime Alley,” written by Denny O’Neil

Denny O’Neil, a comic book writer and editor who returned Batman to his dark origins, has died at 81, the Games Radar website said.

The character’s comic stories had turned light-hearted during the run of the 1966-68 television series starring Adam West.

After that show ended, editor Julius Schwartz assembled contributors who’d take the character in a darker direction.

O’Neill, artist Neal Adams and inker Dick Giordano were among the key contributors, though there were others.

Those stories ended up being an influence on the 1989 Batman feature film directed by Tim Burton. O’Neil and Adams also created the villain Ra’s al Ghul, who appeared in the 2005 Christopher Nolan-directed Batman Begins. Also, some of the O’Neil-written comics stories were adapted by a 1990s Batman cartoon series.

O’Neil and Adams also worked together on a run of Green Lantern and Green Arrow comics in the 1970s intended to take on contemporary issues, such as drug addiction.

O’Neil left DC for a time to work at Marvel. He was editor of Daredevil when writer-artist Frank Miller rejuvenated that character in the late 1970s and 1980s. O’Neil also wrote Daredevil for a time after Miller departed.

O’Neil later returned to DC, where he edited the Batman titles from 1986 to 2000.

Tributes to O’Neil were published on social media, including one by retired comic book writer Gerry Conway.

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Zack Snyder’s cut of Justice League coming to HBO Max

Justice League movie logo

Waste not, want not.

Zack Snyder, the original director of 2017’s Justice League, will see the light of day on HBO Max in 2021, the new stream service announced on Twitter.

The exact format may be not be decided. The Hollywood Reporter said “the Snyder cut” may be in a four-hour single edition or six “chapters.”

The entertainment news outlet said that Warner Bros. may spend an additional $20 million on the project.

Justice League was intended to be Warners’ answer to The Avengers films from Walt Disney Co.-owned Marvel Studios.

Justice League’s worldwide box office was almost $658 million, according to Box Office Mojo. While hardly a flop, it was far less than the four Avengers films released between 2012 and 2019.

What’s more, vast portions of Justice League were refilmed with director Josh Whedon, who helmed the first two Avengers films. It’s generally thought that Whedon lightened the proceedings from a darker Snyder version.

Since Justice League’s original run, things haven’t been quite the same for Warner Bros.’s cinema universe of DC Comics characters. Ben Affleck’s Batman has been replaced. The future of Henry Cavill’s Superman is unsettled. Warner Bros. has been deemphasizing the idea of a big cinematic universe.

HBO Max is AT&T’s entry in the streaming competition involving the likes of Netflix, Disney + and others. AT&T is the parent company of Warner Bros. and HBO.

For now, Black Widow and Bond will be out in November

Poster for Black Widow

Movie studios continue to play a game of chess with release dates as the coronavirus slams the global economy.

Walt Disney Co. announced a series of release dates, according to Exhibitor Relations, which tracks movie box office.

Among the new dates is Black Widow, made by Disney’s Marvel unit, now scheduled to debut on Nov. 6 in the U.S.

Black Widow originally was slated to come out on May 1. The coronavirus, which resulted in movie theater closings in multiple countries, has forced many changes.

One of the first films to change dates was No Time to Die, the 25th James Bond film. It originally was scheduled to be out on April 2 in the U.K. and April 10 in the U.S.

The Bond film currently is scheduled to be out in Nov. 12 in the U.K. and Nov. 25 in the U.S.

If all this holds up, Marvel’s leading espionage character will have her solo film the same month as No Time to Die.

How significant is this? With the coronavirus, everything is in flux. We’ll see how it goes.

Coronavirus snaps Marvel’s release date stranglehold

Poster for Black Widow

The coronavirus and the worldwide pandemic it caused have broken Marvel Studios’ hold on the late April/early May release schedule.

Black Widow, the newest Marvel movie, has been delayed from its long-planned May 1 release date, Variety reported.

The move was inevitable. Across the globe, movie theaters are being shut down to combat the virus. The virus can spread quickly and authorities are breaking up large gatherings of people.

Early this month, No Time to Die’s release date was pushed back to November from April, with a March 31 world premiere event canceled.

Since then, a number of movies have seen their release dates delayed. The ninth installment of The Fast and the Furious series was pushed back to April 2021 from May 2020. At this point, a movie can’t be shown in a theater in many markets, including the U.S., France, China, and Italy.

Regardless, the announcement is an end of an era for Marvel.

Marvel, now owned by Walt Disney Co., began producing its own movies starting with 2008’s Iron Man. Originally Quantum of Solace was scheduled for the May 2, 2008, date in the U.S. but was delayed. Iron Man grabbed the date and things weren’t quite the same after that.

In 2009, Marvel had no films. But since 2010 (starting with Iron Man 2), Marvel characters have dominated the last weekend of April or first weekend in May. That includes 2014 (when Sony’s Amazing Spider-Man 2 had the date).

In 2016, Warner Bros. initially challenged Marvel for the first weekend of May date with Batman v Superman. Marvel then said it’d come out with the third Captain America movie (later Captain America: Civil War) at the same time. Warners retreated and brought out Batman v Superman on Easter weekend.

In 2018 and 2019, Marvel moved up two Avengers movies (Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame) to the last weekend in April

All of this is a reminder of how real-life overcomes entertainment. As stated before, Marvel/Disney had no real choice. Regardless, it’s the end of an era.

Aging ‘Young Turks’ tell kids to get off the lawn

Avengers: Endgame poster

I was going to take a pass on this. But it’s pretty clear that aging “Young Turks” in the movie industry are telling the kids to get off their lawn.

Over the past few years, the likes of Francis Ford Coppola, 80, Martin Scorsese, 76, and Steven Spielberg, 72, have taken shots at the super hero genre of movies, particularly those made by Walt Disney Co.’s Marvel Studios.

Coppola, Scorsese and Spielberg were the directors who turned Hollywood upside down in the 1970s with the likes of the first two Godfather films, Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Raging Bull, Taxi Driver, etc.

Their legacies are set. Nobody can take that away from them.

They came to prominence when the likes of directors such as John Ford and Howard Hawks had vacated the stage. Go back a little further, and you’ll read about how cinema was more pure before the “talkies” came in circa 1929.

At the same time, one has to wonder how the former “Young Turks” would react to a job offer from Marvel Studios.

MARVEL STUDIOS BOSS KEVIN FEIGE: Francis, we’ll pay you (THIS AMOUNT) to direct MCU Daredevil.

FRANCIS FORD COPPOLA: How much?

FEIGE: (Repeats amount).

COPPOLA: I used to be a Young Turk. I suddenly feel young again.

A friend of mine hates movies based on comic books. He is reveling in these stories and citing how they mean he is correct.

Comic book-based films, like any genre, have their highs and lows.

Chinatown, the first Star Wars movie, The Empire Strikes Back are among the genre films that are celebrated. High Noon, Rio Bravo and Red River are among the Westerns that were celebrated in the day. Other movies in those genres weren’t as celebrated.

Engaging in broad attacks, on the other hand, isn’t a good look. The former Young Turks might want to look back to the early years of their careers and ponder. Then again, it’s easier to shout at the kids to get off your lawn.

Sony, Marvel make up on Spider-Man

Spider-Man: Homecoming poster from 2017

Sony Studios and Marvel Studios patched up their differences and said they will do a third Spider-Man movie together.

The two studios said today that Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige will again produce a Spider-Man movie for Sony. You can view details in VARIETY and THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER.

Spider-Man: Homecoming in 2017 and Spider-Man: Far From Home this summer were made under that arrangement and were big hits.

The deal also allowed Tom Holland’s Spider-Man to appear in other Marvel Studios movies such as Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame.

However, the two sides publicly said in August they couldn’t agree on how to continue the arrangement. So it appeared Spider-Man would keep appearing in Sony movies but no longer be part of Marvel films.

We’ll see if the new deal lasts beyond one movie. But both sides benefited from working together, with Sony getting a revitalized Spider-Man series and Marvel getting to use its most popular comic book character. Sony is also developing other movies based on Spider-Man characters.

When universes collide: Marvel and Star Wars?

Marvel’s Dr. Doom (created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1962) and Darth Vader of Star Wars, originally created for the first Star Wars movie in 1977.

Kevin Feige, the head of Walt Disney Co.’s Marvel Studios unit, is developing a new Star Wars movie, The Hollywood Reporter said.

The move comes as Disney faces where to take Star Wars next. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, is due out late this year. That will end the entire Skywalker saga encompassing nine films from 1977 to 2019.

Since Disney acquired Star Wars from George Lucas for $4 billion ($2 billion in cash, $2 billion in Disney stock), it attempted to kick start the franchise, which had been dormant since 2005.

Some movies were big successes, but some (such as a film showing Han Solo’s back story) not as much.

Star Wars has been supervised by producer Kathleen Kennedy under Disney ownership while Marvel Studios (a separate Disney acquisition) has operated under Feige.

“With the close of the Skywalker Saga, Kathy is pursuing a new era in Star Wars storytelling, and knowing what a die-hard fan Kevin is, it made sense for these two extraordinary producers to work on a Star Wars film together.”Disney said in a statement to THR.

There have been connections between Star Wars and Marvel going back to the early days of Star Wars.

In the 1970s, many fans commented on the similarities between artist Jack Kirby’s design for Dr. Doom, the arch villain of the Fantastic Four, and Darth Vader in Star Wars.

What’s more, Marvel published comic books based on Star Wars beginning when the first film came out in 1977. The move proved to be a major boost for Marvel during a comic industry slump at the time. That helped keep Marvel alive for better days many years later.

A year later, another Cavill-is-done-as-Superman story

Will play superheroes for food.

Talk about a slow-motion way to lose your job.

In September 2018, The Hollywood Reporter said Henry Cavill was out as Superman. Cavill’s agent tried to dispute that, but Warner Bros. only offered up a vague statement that didn’t say much.

Flash forward a year. A website called Cosmic Book News this week came out with a story saying Cavill is still out. It also adds a wrinkle that stems from more recent developments.

One change from a year ago is that Warner Bros. has secured the services of J.J. Abrams. One Abrams project may be jumpstarting the cinematic Superman and the director-producer likely wants his own choice in the role.

Something similar happened when director Matt Reeves was given the keys to the Batcave. Soon, incumbent Ben Affleck was out and Reeves cast Robert Pattinson as a younger Batman for a 2021 movie. That project reportedly may pick up the services of Jeffrey Wright as the new Commissioner Gordon. THR said this week the actor is in talks for the part. Wright currently is reprising the role of Felix Leiter in No Time to Die.

Nothing is official, of course. Still, it’s interesting to see how Cavill has been left hanging for so long.

There’s been no sign that “Mr. Warner” wants to proceed with Cavill. For example, this year’s Shazam! movie ended with a Superman cameo but it wasn’t with Cavill. It was a guy in a Superman uniform whose face the audience never sees.

Still, Cavill is not out officially, either. In comic books, kryptonite was Superman’s weakness. In real life, Cavill/Superman’s weakness is inertia.

Cavill, of course, has played one spy hero (Napoleon Solo in 2015’s The Man From U.N.C.L.E.) and one spy villain (Mission: Impossible-Fallout). He was tested in play Bond for 2006’s Casino Royale, but Daniel Craig got it, in large part because Eon boss Barbara Broccoli wanted him and wasn’t going to take no for an answer.

Cavill’s name still gets speculated about as the next cinematic James Bond. But given how more men have walked on the Moon (12) than have played Bond on-screen in the Eon series (six) that’s hardly a sure thing.  Besides, one suspects Barbara Broccoli will try to keep Craig in Bondage beyond No Time to Die.

Pinewood sells its stake in Atlanta studio

Pinewood Group PLC logo

Pinewood Group is selling its stake in Pinewood Atlanta, Deadline: Hollywood reported on Aug. 21.

The Atlanta operation, which opened in 2013, was a joint venture between Pinewood and a trust of the Cathy family. Pinewood sold its stake to its partner, Deadline said.

None of this affects the Bond films produced by Eon Productions. Those movies are made out of Pinewood’s home base near London. However, Pinewood Atlanta has been the base for major films, including Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame.

A brief excerpt from the Deadline story:

Pinewood will provide sales and marketing support for the (Atlanta) studios for a period of up to 18 months during which time the operation will remain branded and operated as a Pinewood facility. The partners say there will be no impact on productions shooting at the studios, which will continue to be led by Frank Patterson, president of the facility.