Caveat Emptor: New rumor Eon wants a 007 ‘universe’

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Jeff Sneider, editor-in-chief of The Tracking Board entertainment news website, publicized a rumor that Eon Productions wants a James Bond film “universe.”

“I’ve heard the Broccolis have caught Universe Fever and would love to explore other corners of the Bond franchise… simultaneously,” Sneider wrote in a June 23 post on Twitter.

It was part of an exchange with another Twitter user.

No other details were provided in the exchange.

Previously, Eon developed a script featuring Jinx, the U.S. spy character played by Halle Berry in 2002’s Die Another Day. But nothing came of that would-be project.

Also, during the 1989-1995 James Bond film hiatus, there was a James Bond Jr. cartoon show (where James Bond Jr. was Bond’s nephew).

However, “Universe Fever” has become a thing since Marvel Studios began establishing its shared universe of characters beginning with 2008’s Iron Man.

Today, that’s formally known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Warner Bros. has counted with the DC Extended Universe. Universal is using The Mummy, released earlier this month, to launch its Dark Universe of monsters.

There have been 007-related continuation novels and comic books exploring young James Bond, Moneypenny and Felix Leiter.

However, is Eon prepared to crank out a film 007 universe?

The Bond pictures, in part because of financial issues at home studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, have come out at irregular intervals. MGM needs other studios to release Bond movies and currently doesn’t have a partner for Bond 25.

Eon has branched out into other films, but they tend to be small dramas such as The Silent Storm and Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool.

Something to ponder for the future. Meanwhile, you can view Sneider’s tweet for yourself.

 

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Spider-Man Homecoming goes for the Romita look

John Romita Sr.’s cover to Amazing Spider-Man No. 52 in 1967

The publicity machine is gearing up for Spider-Man: Homecoming. There are stories about how this third movie version of the character came about, how Marvel Studios is collaborating with Sony Pictures, etc.

Less attention is being paid to something more basic. Namely, how, with Marvel actually producing the movie for Sony, the cinematic Spider-Man looks more like Spider-Man in the comics. Specifically, how he looks more like the version drawn by John Romita Sr. starting in 1966.

Romita, now 87, assumed the assignment after Spider-Man co-creator Steve Ditko quit Marvel that year. Romita essentially got a try out when he drew a two-part Daredevil story featuring Spider-Man as the guest star.

The change didn’t hurt Spider-Man’s popularity. Romita had a long run on the title. At times, other artists such as Gil Kane were brought in, with Romita doing the inks to maintain the basic look.

Romita also helped launch a Spider-Man newspaper comic strip in the 1970s. Eventually, Romita became Marvel’s art director before retiring.

Sony eventually got the film rights to Spider-Man as the result of a 1999 deal with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.  Prior to Spider-Man: Homecoming, Sony made five Spidey films from 2002 to 2014.

In all five, the costume crew put its own spin on the Spidey suit. For example, the one worn by Andrew Garfield in two of the movies had a spider design more elaborate than the one in the comics. You can view previous the Sony versions in this video:

Now, with Marvel and Sony collaborating (Sony is financing and distributing, Marvel is handling the production), there’s yet another new movie look for the character.

Spider-Man: Homecoming poster

This version, with Tom Holland as the character, made its debut in last year’s Captain America: Civil War.

Spidey in full costume looks almost like a Romita drawing come to life. There were a few changes, including some blue stripes not in the original. The web shooters are visible outside the gloves.

Still, the resemblance to the Romita version is there.

It is perhaps strongest on the poster for the new movie, where the largest image is Spider-Man in costume.

All of this may be overthinking the topic. It’s natural that Marvel Studios would want its Spidey to look different than the five previous Sony films. Still, consider this post a kind of shoutout to one of the stalwarts of the Marvel bullpen.

Wonder Woman breaks the superhero movie glass ceiling

Wonder Woman poster

Appropriately, it was Wonder Woman who broke the glass ceiling of superhero movies.

If anyone doubted it, star Gal Gadot and director Patty Jenkins showed women are more than capable of carrying a superhero epic on their shoulders.

The movie also provides a much-needed lift to Warner Bros.’s franchise of films based on DC Comics characters.

Movies such as Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad opened big but fell off quickly amid sour reviews and bad word of mouth.

Wonder Woman likelywon’t open as big in the box office. It spotlights a single character, unlike Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad. But it appears to be enjoying good word of mouth and absolutely is getting good reviews, with a “fresh” rating above 90 percent on the Rotten Tomatoes website.

Superhero movies have been something of a boys club. You’d occasionally get something like 2005’s Elektra with Jennifer Garner. However, it has been a male-dominated genre. Marvel Studios has featured Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow in several movies, but she’s either been part off a group or a supporting character.

Meanwhile, things are simply more interesting with a Warner Bros./DC Comic movies that’s not being lambasted for being crummy. Marvel has been on a roll but it could use some competition to keep it on its toes.

In tone, Wonder Woman is somewhat similar to Marvel’s Captain America: The First Avenger fro 2011. Both feature characters who come of age in a war setting. (Wonder Woman’s origin story is set in World War I, unlike the original comics which were set in World War II.)

Wonder Woman is by no means a copy of that Marvel film. But Wonder Woman, like the first Captain America movie, lays the groundwork for more to come.

About that Spider-Man: Homecoming poster…

Newest Spider-Man Homecoming poster

So the new Spider-Man: Homecoming poster is out and the reaction is….underwhelming.

Truth be told, the era of the classic movie poster passed away a long time ago, with spectacular illustrations (like THIS ONE for You Only Live Twice) phased out in favor of Photoshop efforts.

But Spider-Man: Homecoming spurred more of a reaction. Websites such as The Verge and Movie Pilot critiqued it and found it wanting.

Why so much attention to a movie poster?

Well, Spider-Man has an unusual movie history. It tooks years for Marvel’s No. 1 hero to reach the screen.

None of the five films released by Sony Pictures has done poorly at the box office, although the third Toby Maguire movie in 2007 and the second Andrew Garfield effort in 2014 absorbed some lumps from critics and fans.

Sony reached a deal with Marvel Studios where the latter would take over the heavy lifting and put the character in its universe of film superheroes. Thus, Spider-Man 3.0 (Tom Holland) debuted in last year’s Captain America: Civil War.

Now the first movie with Spidey 3.0 as the lead character is a little more than a month away. But the poster is generating some concerns including:

Is this a Spider-Man movie or an Iron Man movie? Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark has the biggest image of a human without a helmet or mask.

The largest single image is Spider-Man (which seems especially modeled after artist John Romita Sr.’s version from the comics). But Holland’s Peter Parker, while in the center, is definitely smaller than Downey/Stark.

Downey put Marvel-produced movies on the map with 2008’s Iron Man. He’s still around and it remains to be seen how Marvel’s films will perform once he’s put away his repulsor rays. So it makes sense from a marketing standpoint. Still, this is supposed to be Spidey’s show.

There seems to be a lot of clutter: You’ve got six people, Spider-Man, Iron Man, the Vulture, the New York skyline and a lot of lights.

All of this may turn out to be noise. Marvel Studios has had so many hits, the urge to find weaknesses is understandable.

While we’re at it, here’s a new trailer. It appears, at least for a time, Peter wears a Spidey suit unlike any he ever had in the comics.

Still more Bond 25 questions after NYT story

Eon boss Barbara Broccoli and Daniel Craig: Working together on another Bond movie soon?

Nothing like a story by The New York Times to generate more questions about the future of the film 007.

What’s Barbara Broccoli thinking? Sony Pictures has released the last four Bond movies. Barbara Broccoli, the Eon Productions boss, had by all accounts a good relationship with Sony executive Amy Pascal. The Broccoli-Pascal relationship was noteworthy in a still male-dominated movie business.

Pascal is gone, losing her job as a result of the Sony hacks in 2014 (though having a producer deal at Sony).

One of the bidders to release Bond 25, according to The Times is Annapurna. It’s an “upstart” (The Times’ words) movie concern that is about to release its first film Detroit, a drama about the 1967 riots in that city.

Annapurna head Megan Ellison, 31, is a tech heiress who has been active in producing dramatic films. Could she forge a bond with Barbara Broccoli, who turns 57 in June, similar to the one Amy Pascal had?

Why is MGM and Eon Productions only seeking a one-film deal? Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer emerged from bankruptcy in 2010 a smaller company. It has been rebuilding gradually.

MGM spent much of 2016 negotiating with a Chinese buyer (still unidentified) but those talks didn’t pan out. MGM also has talked about selling stock to the public at some point.

MGM may yet see major changes. Keeping a distribution deal to Bond 25 only provides MGM executives flexibility for the future.

Why isn’t Walt Disney Co. interested in 007, according to the NYT story? Disney tends to think big. It spent billions to acquire both Marvel and Lucasfilm Ltd. (Star Wars) and is reaping the rewards as both crank out big hits.

Being the Bond film distributor means a lot of cost without a lot of profit. Sony, in its most recent deal, co-financed Skyfall and SPECTRE but only got 25 percent of the profits. MGM and Eon got more money than Sony did.

Bond fans may object, but for Disney releasing Bond movies would probably be more trouble than its worth. Disney would only get involved with 007 if it could buy everybody out and control it all, the way it did with Marvel and Star Wars.

 

Disney ends work week with The Last Jedi trailer

Walt Disney Co. began the work week by releasing a Thor: Ragnarok trailer. It concluded the work week by putting out the teaser trailer for Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

Neither bears the Disney name. Thor is from the company’s Marvel Studios unit while The Last Jedi is from Lucasfilm. Disney acquired both and set them up as almost separate operations within the company. Releases of these teaser trailers have become semi events unto themselves.

Anyway, The Last Jedi already is causing a stir. It ends with an ominous line of dialogue. Take a look for yourself.

Thor loses hammer, fights Hulk in new trailer

It has been more than three years since the last Thor solo movie and almost two years since the Thunder God was seen in Avengers: Age of Ultron.

With that in mind, the teaser trailer for Thor: Ragnarok is out today, marking the return of Chris Hemworth’s Thor. While technically a Thor solo movie, the Hulk (also last seen in Avengers: Age of Ultron) is around. Tom Hiddleston’s Loki, naturally, is lurking.

Thor’s enchanted hammer appears to be destroyed, so you know the son of Odin is going to be tested. Later, Thor and the Hulk fight in a gladiator-style setting. Take a look if you’re so inclined. The movie is out in November.