Happy 94th birthday, Stan Lee

Stan Lee's cameo in Captain America: Civil War

Stan Lee’s cameo in Captain America: Civil War

Stan Lee turns 94 today.

Over the past few years, Stan’s legacy at Marvel Comics has been re-examined in books such as Sean Howe’s Marvel Comics: The Untold Story and a detailed article in New York magazine early this year. This blog even did a modest post on the subject a year ago.

Today’s post is merely intended to wish “Stan the Man” (one of his many nicknames when he was Marvel’s editor-in-chief) a happy birthday.

Marvel was a lot more than Stan Lee. But he is one of the few survivors of the 1960s when the stories were done that laid the foundation for the Marvel Comics film universe.

That doesn’t mean Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko (another survivor), Wally Wood and others weren’t important. Their contributions were enormous (their plotting in addition to their art) and they should be better known than they are.

Still, for many fans, Stan remains endearing. He still shows up in cameos in Marvel films. Comingsoon.net said in September said Lee has filmed additional cameos in advance.

So, once more, excelsior, Stan Lee.

Quantum of Solace’s revisionist history continues

quantum-of-solace-international-poster

Marc Forster picked up A CAMERIMAGE AWARD last week in Poland. In AN INTERVIEW with Empire magazine, the subject of Quantum of Solace came up — and Forster’s comments didn’t exactly match up with what he said during production.

Excerpt from Empire:

So after that, Quantum Of Solace must’ve seemed like a walk in the park.
Not quite a walk in the park (laughs). Barbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson are great producers, the best I’ve ever worked with – fantastic. So you have a well-oiled machine and you’re in such good hands, even though you don’t have a script (laughs). It makes it easier, even when you only have half a script. That was the problem there. You had Casino Royale, which came from the best book by Ian Fleming, and three or four years to develop the script. You have Skyfall, another three years to develop a script. We were in the middle – ‘Here, three months, make a movie.’ And as a director you can only do as much as you have on the page.

In that case, why did you take it on?
Because I believed the script would come. But it never did! (Laughs). At one point I felt like pulling out but I didn’t. Barbara and Michael and Eon wanted to make the movie and I thought we’d pull it off.
(emphasis added to Forster quotes)

In 2008, Forster told a much different story to THE ROTTEN TOMATOES WEBSITE. Among other things, Forster said then that the Quantum script was mostly ironed out before a 2007 Writer’s Guild strike. “The good thing is that Paul (Haggis, the screenwriter) and I and Daniel (Craig) all worked on the script before the strike happened and got it where we were pretty happy with.”

In the same interview, Forster said there was a script when he first came on board, but he tossed it out and things started from scratch. Forster said he conferred with Haggis, “And I said to him these are the topics I am interested in this is what I would like to say.”

This, of course, isn’t the first instance or revisionist history with the 2008 James Bond film. Daniel Craig also drastically changed his tune in 2011 compared with what he said in 2008.

The main talking point now is that the 2007 writer’s strike damaged the production and everybody soldiered on as best as they could.

For Forster, that’s convenient because he can ignore his contributions to the problem — throwing out a script and starting over from scratch and his emphasis on “topics” rather than a story.

Forster didn’t specify the topics to Rotton Tomatoes. In another 2008 interview, NEW YORK MAGAZINE, he talked about sneaking political ideas past the Bond producers into the movie. “I question the role that these Secret Service agencies play today—is their role really to protect the country? Or the interest of a few?” Forster told New York five years ago.

Earlier posts:
WHAT REALLY HAPPENED WITH THE SCRIPT OF QUANTUM OF SOLACE? (December 2011)

DANIEL CRAIG, 2008 AND 2011 VERSIONS (December 2011)

QUANTUM OF SOLACE’S POLITICAL POINT OF VIEW (March 2012)

Bond 24’s Rorschach test

Daniel Craig

Daniel Craig

“Hopefully we’ll reclaim some of the old irony…and make sure it doesn’t become pastiche. I can’t do shtick, I’m not very good at it. Unless it kind of suddenly makes sense. Does that make sense? I sometimes wish I hammed it up more, but I just can’t do it very well, so I don’t do it.”

Daniel Craig AS QUOTED BY THE VULTURE BLOG of New York Magazine About Bond 24.

That’s not a lot of detail, but since that interview was posted Aug. 23, various publications and Web Sites have been interpreting it. Those interpretations vary a bit, somewhat like a 007 Rorschach test. Some examples:

Yahoo!: 007 TO CRACK WISE IN `SKYFALL’ SEQUEL.

The U.K. Telegraph: DANIEL CRAIG WANTS TO LIGHTEN UP BOND 24.

IGN: DANIEL CRAIG: BOND 24 WON’T BE CAMPY.

Entertainmentwise: DANIEL CRAIG WANTS TO SEE MORE DRY HUMOR IN BOND 24.

Dark Horizons: CRAIG WANTS IRONY, NOT CAMP, IN “BOND 24.”

Not much is known about Bond 24, scheduled for a fall 2015 release. Even some of what is known, such as the fact Skyfall co-scribe John Logan will pen the scripts for Bond 24 and Bond 25, was initially denied by one 007 partner (Eon Productions) before being confirmed by another (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer).

Thus, any word about Bond 24 — especially coming directly from the movie’s star — is going to be analyzed.

Irony is defined as “the use of words to convey a meaning that is the opposite of its literal meaning.” Or: “a technique of indicating, as through character or plot development, an intention or attitude opposite to that which is actually or ostensibly stated.”

But which “old irony” did Craig mean? It’s not detailed explicitly in the Vulture article. The quote about irony comes after a passage where it’s described how Skyfall was “lifted by a late ‘humor pass’ on the script.” The actor also says it was his idea to have Bond straighten his cuffs amid mayhem in Skyfall’s pre-credits sequence. It’s a Bondian moment, similar to Pierce Brosnan’s Bond straightening his tie in the middle of GoldenEye’s tank chase and The World Is Not Enough’s pre-credits sequence.

Presumably Craig’s irony comment wasn’t referring to the Roger Moore era (1973-1985), known for an expansion of humor relative to earlier 007 films. But even the Sean Connery era of the Eon movies (1962-67, 1971) had quips such as “She should have kept her mouth shut,” and “Shocking, positively shocking,” not necessarily the most subtle bits of humor. Connery’s non-Eon 007 film, Never Say Never Again, had a slapstick British diplomat, Nigel Small-Fawcett, and jokes about urine samples.

So perhaps Bond 24 will have a lighter tone. But there are other signs that humor may still be limited. John Logan was quoted in March by the Financial Times as saying words he “hopes to build on Skyfall in examining the complexities of Bond’s character.” We’ll see.

Earlier posts:
NEW QUESTIONS ABOUT BOND 24

AN EARLY BOND 24 ACCURACY CHECKLIST

MGM MAY BEND ON BOND 24’S SCHEDULE

Quantum of Solace’s political point of view

Four years after it was released, Quantum of Solace can still stir up debate among 007 fans. One topic is whether the 22nd James Bond film had a political point of view. Director Marc Forster, in a November 2008 interivew with New York magazine, said it did.

Marc Forster while directing Quantum of Solace


Some excerpts:

“It’s like I worked under this political regime with extreme censorship,” Forster plainly admits, describing his arrangement with Bond’s producers, the infamously controlling Broccoli family. “I had to subversively inject my ideas to make the movie my own.”
(snip)
“I question the role that these Secret Service agencies play today—is their role really to protect the country? Or the interest of a few?”
(snip)
Most radical, Forster argues that “Bond isn’t a clear good guy—the villain and Bond overlap.” In fact, the director—never a Bond fanatic—is surprised that 007 has survived this long, “especially as a colonialist or imperialistic character. That’s why you have to put a dent in him, because those powers can’t survive. It’s the end of the American world power in the next few decades.”

Maybe the article was read by a lot of 007 fans at the time (we admit to missing it), but it doesn’t seem to be cited that often in all the message board debates. Anyway, to read the entire article, JUST CLICK HERE.

What really happened with the script of Quantum of Solace?


Daniel Craig recently gave an interview to Time Out magazine where he said he and Quantum of Solace director Marc Forester had to rewrite the film’s screenplay because it was only “the bare bones of a script” because of a Writers Guild of America strike. In the process, Craig told the magazine, the process turned Quantum into much more of a direct sequel to Casino Royale than originally intended.

The quotes from that interview keep turning up LIKE IN THIS POST on the Yahoo! Movies Web site. So by now, “Craig Had to Rewrite Quantum of Solace” has become an established narrative among fans.

Except, three years ago, while the movie was being filmed, writer Joshua Zetumer was supposed to be polishing the script during filming, according to stories LIKE THIS ONE FROM APRIL 2008 and THIS ONE.

Both of those appear to be based on a ROTTEN TOMATOES STORY. That story read in part:

Forster and (producer Michael G.) Wilson both revealed that an earlier idea for the film was scrapped when Forster came aboard to helm. “Once I signed on to do it we pretty much developed the script from scratch because I felt that it wasn’t the movie I wanted to make and we started with Paul Haggis [the Oscar winner who rewrote Casino Royale] from scratch,” Forster recalled. “And I said to him these are the topics I am interested in this is what I would like to say, what’s important to me. And we developed it from there together. Then Barbara and Michael said they liked where we were going and they liked the script.”

The Writers’ Guild strike, which began just as Quantum of Solace was gearing up for production, did not impact the production as much as the industry trade papers had speculated. “The good thing is that Paul and I and Daniel all worked on the script before the strike happened and got it where we were pretty happy with,” Forster said. “Then we started shooting and the only problems I had with the script we were shooting in April, May and June so as soon as the strike was over we did another polish with someone and it worked out with all this stuff coming up. So I was pretty happy with all the work we’d done in January and February so [there won’t be any need for reshoots].” (emphasis added)

Now bear in mind this passage is referring to the same Writers Guild strike that Daniel Craig says in 2011 meant Quantum had only “a bare bones of a script.” And once the strike was over, Zetumer was around to help do last-minute polishes, although you wouldn’t know that if you read the Time Out interview.

And what was the script that got rejected, causing a race to get a new script done before the Writers Guild strike? Forster revealed details in a post ON THE VULTURE BLOG OF NEW YORK MAGAZINE.

“Haggis had an idea they weren’t fond of, and I didn’t know if it would work or not,” says Forster. “The idea was that Vesper in the last movie, maybe she had a kid, and there would be an orphan out there. It wasn’t anything to insult the franchise. But they felt it wasn’t particularly Bond — him looking for the kid. I think Paul thought he just leaves the kid, he doesn’t deal with it. But [the producers] thought that would be really nasty, too, because Bond was an orphan himself. If he would find a kid, would he just leave it? They were so vehemently against it. That was the only time I saw, really, ‘No, we can’t do that.’ They said, ‘Once he finds the kid, Bond can’t just leave the kid. It’s not right.'”

So let’s recap. Haggis had an idea that Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli rejected. Haggis turns in another script just ahead of the Writers Guild strike in fall 2007. Marc Forster says in spring 2008 that script was fine, while some polishing was done after the strike by Joshua Zetumer.

Now, in 2011, Daniel Craig says he and Forster did all the work on the final script, with no word of any contributions by Haggis, Zetumer, Neal Purvis or Robert Wade.

Needless to say, all of this can’t be true. You be the judge which (if any) of these tales is the truth. But next time you hear how Skyfall will be “Bond with a capital B,” or will be a “classic Bond” or how director Sam Mendes is “working his arse off,” remember those are mere words.

Maybe Skyfall will be a classic Bond. If it is, it won’t be because of words uttered by cast and crew members during filming. The verdict will be determined by the finished film. Words change before, during and after filming. It’s the film that endures and is the ultimate report card.

Joel Edgerton offered Kuryakin role, New York blog says

Actor Joel Edgerton has been offered the role of Russian agent Illya Kuryakin in Steven Soderbergh’s planned movie version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E., according to A REPORT in Vulture, an entertainment blog of New York magazine.

The post also includes this passage:

This has post has been corrected to note that our sources just clarified that Bradley Cooper is still weighing the role of Napoleon Solo (Robert Vaughn’s old part), but is waiting to commit until seeing who WB gets to play the role of Illya. If Edgerton signs on and Cooper approves, the A-Team star may still play Solo.

David McCallum, who plays Ducky on NCIS, was Kuryakin in the original 1964-68 series. The character was created by Sam Rolfe (who got a “developed by” credit in the original), and expanded by writer Alan Caillou.

The Vulture blog earlier this year published a list of everything Soderbergh had watched at home over a year’s time. It included almost all first-season episodes of The Man From U.N.C.L.E., an indication he was researching the original pretty thoroughly.

UPDATE: If you read the comment section of the Vulture post, it originally had some errors, calling the agents Nathaniel Solo and Ilya Kuryakin. A New York magazine staffer wrote, “@duckysgirl – Yep, we got the names wrong. Tongue lashing has been appropriately self-administered and spelling corrected.”

New York compares Rupert Murdoch to 007 villains

New York magazine’s editor, Adam Moss, and its star essayist, Frank Rich, engaged in a dialogue on the publication’s Web site about the unfolding phone hacking scandal involving News Corp. and its chief executive, 80-year-old Rupert Murdoch. Inevitably, there were comparisons between the media mogul and the adversaries of a certain gentleman agent.

Here’s the key excerpt:

Adam: There really is no one like Murdoch in the world — and no company like his, which manages to be both a rogue operation and a hugely successful corporate behemoth at the same time. That’s a neat trick to pull off. (snip) And News Corp. — what a name! Could have been coined by Ian Fleming (or a whole host of more conspiratorial fantasists). In fact, Murdoch has always seemed to me more like a James Bond villain** — with their placid exteriors and raging interiors — than any other corporate executive I know. He revels in it. Most corporate cultures are bland as a matter of strategy. But not his.

Frank: To me, the Rosebud** that animates Murdoch is the “me-against-the-world” chip on his shoulder — he is indeed a Bond villain to the core.

To further make the point, the Web site includes a still of Gert Frobe playing the title character of Goldfinger, the third James Bond film. New York, though, passed up the chance to include an image of Elliott Carver (Jonathan Pryce) from 1997’s Tomorrow Never Dies, a character who was a media baron. This clip begins with a scene of Carver addressing his underlings, one of whom was played by Eon Productions co-boss Michael G. Wilson.