Will creators be remembered for 2014 comic book movies?

John Romita Sr.'s cover to Amazing Spider-Man No. 121, written by Gerry Conway

John Romita Sr.’s cover to Amazing Spider-Man No. 121, written by Gerry Conway

There’s a spoiler concerning Amazing Spider-Man 2 in the post below.

April 4 is the start of the comic book movie season with Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The presence of SHIELD, Marvel’s spy organization, merits inclusion of the subject here. The film’s arrival raises the question how much recognition those who created the original source material will receive.

Movies made by Walt Disney Co.’s Marvel Studios have settled into a pattern. The comic book creators aren’t included in the screenplay credit. But, for the most part, they show up in the long “crawl” of the end titles. Those who did the original comic story get a “based on the comic book by” credit and later there’s a “special thanks” credit for those who worked on stories the film’s writers used in crafting their story.

Example: the first Captain America film in 2011 had a credit for Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, who wrote and drew the original 1941 comic book. The “special thanks” credit included Kirby and Stan Lee, among others, who did various stories that helped form the final movie.

Meanwhile, movies where Marvel licensed characters haven’t even done that much. The X-Men movies and the 2003 Daredevil movie released by 20th Century Fox never mentioned the comic book creators, for example.

For that matter, DC Comics-based movies only reference comic book creators where Warner Bros. is contractually obligated to do so. So you’ll see Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster’s names on a Superman film as well as Bob Kane on a Batman film. But you won’t see Bill Finger, Mark Waid, John Broome, Gil Kane or others who did comic book stories that the movies used. Jerry Robinson got a consultant credit on 2008′s The Dark Knight that didn’t say he actually created The Joker.

Which brings us to Amazing Spider-Man 2, which Sony Corp. will release early next month, having licensed Spider-Man from Marvel. The Spider-Man movies released since 2002 do include Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, the original creative team on Marvel’s most successful character.

Gerry Conway, who wrote Spider-Man stories in the 1970s, has taken to HIS TWITTER FEED to let folks know one of his stories — arguably his most important Spidey tale — figures into the 2014 movie.

I see in Entertainment Weekly that Spider-Man 2 is, in fact, based partly on my Amazing Spider-Man 121. Waiting for invite to premiere.

The Los Angeles Times noticed and a post on its Hero Complex blog. Conway’s original story included the death of a major character and there have been hints that will replicated with the 2014 movie.

In any event, many millions of dollars are riding on all this as Disney/Marvel, Sony and Fox all come out with superhero movies this year, with more scheduled for 2015 and 2016. None of those films would be possible without the comic book creators who, for the most part, aren’t with us. The likes of Kirby, Simon, Kane, Finger and others have died. Creators, such as Lee (91) and Ditko (86), are at an advanced age.

Only Stan Lee, with his gift of self promotion, is remembered by much of the population. Outside of comics fans, not many are aware the likes of Kirby, Finger, Larry Lieber (Stan Lee’s brother), Don Heck, Dave Cockrum, Len Wein, Chris Claremont, Herb Trimpe, etc., etc., etc., created the characters that are the foundations of the movies.

It’d be nice if that changed in 2014. But don’t count on it.

UPDATE (April 3): Gerry Conway says on Twitter he has been invited to the premier of Amazing Spider-Man 2.

Stan Lee to make appearance on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

The SHIELD helicarrier in the first SHIELD story in Strange Tales No. 135.

The SHIELD helicarrier in the first SHIELD story in Strange Tales No. 135.

Stan Lee, the 91-year-old former editor-in-chief at Marvel Comics, is going to make an appearance on the Feb. 4 installment of ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. series.

Lee gave AN INTERVIEW TO IGN where he talked about the appearance and a bit about the original comic book. An excerpt:

IGN TV: My first question with you appearing on S.H.I.E.L.D. is, what took so long?! Were you saying, “Hey, why am I not in the first episode of this show?”

Stan Lee: Oh, I like the way you think! I felt the same way. Why was it not called Stan Lee and the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.? [Laughs] No, I’m glad that they gave that one little cameo, though. It’s a little bit longer than a cameo. It’s almost a supporting role. Instead of the usual three or four or five seconds, I think this took almost half a minute.

IGN: You were there for the beginning of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Lee: Well, I’m glad they invited me, because I did the first S.H.I.E.L.D. story in the comics with Jack Kirby. I love the whole concept of S.H.I.E.L.D.. I don’t know if you’d remember, but years ago, there was a television show called The Man from U.N.C.L.E., and U.N.C.L.E. was a secret organization and so forth. I got the idea for S.H.I.E.L.D. from U.N.C.L.E.. I thought it’d be great to have an organization like that, but because we were doing comic books, I’d make it bigger and more colorful and more far out. We had a book called Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos, which we stopped publishing after awhile. The fans would wonder, “What happened to Sgt. Fury? Where is he now?” So it occurred to me that if I did this group S.H.I.E.L.D., why not put Sergeant Fury at the head of it, except he’d now be a Colonel. So he’d be Colonel Fury and the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. — and that’s how it all started. I loved the idea, and I’m so glad that it’s a TV series. As it moves along, I hope it just gets wilder and wilder.

Nick Fury's first post World War II appearance

Nick Fury’s first post World War II appearance


Lee’s memory is a little faulty in the interview.

Actually, the Sgt. Fury World War II title continued to be published after S.H.I.E.L.D. debuted in 1965. Thus, for a few years, Nick Fury appeared in two different titles (Sgt. Fury and Strange Tales, which S.H.I.E.L.D. shared with Dr. Strange) with stories set in two different time periods.

Also, Lee and Kirby, who created the Fury character to begin with, first established Nick Fury had survived World War II in Fantastic Four No. 21, published in 1963. At that point, Fury was with the CIA. He was still with that agency when he was recruited to lead S.H.I.E.L.D. in Strange Tales No. 135.

In the comics, S.H.I.E.L.D. didn’t hit its stride until Jim Steranko took over as writer-artist in 1966-68.

Ant Man changes release date to avoid Bond 24

A Jack Kirby cover featuring Ant Man

A Jack Kirby cover featuring Ant Man

Marvel/Disney blinked.

Ant Man, one of Marvel’s oldest characters (but most obscure to the general public) will now make his movie debut on July 31, 2015, instead of Nov. 6 of that year, the same date Bond 24 is to be released in the U.S., according to a STORY in the Hollywood Reporter.

An excerpt:

With the November release date, the superhero pic would have gone up against the next Bond film, which will see the return of director Sam Mendes and star Daniel Craig. Mendes’ previous Bond film, Skyfall, was a box office behemoth, bringing in more than $1 billion worldwide. Fox’s untitled Peanuts movie also opens on that date.

The new July 2015 date only has one other film slated for release — Peregrine’s Home for Peculiars.

Marvel first published a story about scientist Henry Pym in Tales to Astonish No. 27 in 1961, when comic books still had a 10-cent cover price. At that point, the only Marvel super hero title was the Fantastic Four. Marvel brought back Pym as in Tales to Astonish No. 35 (now with a 12-cent cover price) when he became the super hero Ant Man.

The first Pym story and its sequel were illustrated by Jack Kirby, plotted by Stan Lee and scripted by Larry Lieber, Stan’s brother. Pym could shrink to the size of an ant but still retain the strength of a full-sized human. Pym later took on a number of super hero identities, including Giant Man, Goliath and Yellowjacket.

Marvel/Disney’s big super hero movie in 2015 will be The Avengers: Age of Ultron, the sequel to 2012′s Marvel’s The Avengers. Ant Man will be the first Marvel film after that project. Ant Man also will be out just two weeks after a Superman-Batman movie with Henry Cavill (currently filming The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie) and Ben Affleck.

UPDATE (Sept. 10): The MI6 JAMES BOND FAN WEB SITE, quoting a press release, says the new Ant Man release date is July 10, 2015 (or just before the Superman-Batman movie). VARIETY says July 31 is for Ant Man while Disney has a fifth Pirates of the Carribean film slated for July 10. THE WRAP says July 15.

Earlier posts:

007′s Marvel superhero competitor in 2015

The family model (Eon) vs. the corporate model (Marvel)

007′s Marvel superhero competitor in 2015

A Jack Kirby cover featuring Ant Man

A Jack Kirby cover featuring Ant Man

When James Bond makes his return to U.S. cinemas in 2015, he’s going to have company in the form of one of Marvel Comics’ oldest (but not that well known to the general public) characters: Ant Man.

Scientist Henry Pym made his debut in 1962 in a story by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber and Jack Kirby, in Tales to Astonish No. 27. It was a one-off tale, in which Pym devises a formula that shrinks himself to the size of an ant. He shrinks so fast, he can’t reach the antidote.

Pym eventually ends up in an ant colony. He’s saved by one ant who acts differently than the others. Pym manages to reach his enlarging formula and swears off such formulas.

That is, until issue 35, when Pym returned, this time deciding he should be a superhero and takes on the guise of Ant Man. Eventually, Ant Man ends up as a founder of the Avengers superhero group. He also, in Tales to Astonish No. 49, decided to be Giant Man instead. Still later, Pym took on other superhero guises. Eventually, other characters took on the Ant Man mantle.

Marvel, now part of Walt Disney Co., is preparing an Ant Man movie and already set A NOV. 6, 2015 RELEASE DATE, the same date Bond 24 will arrive in U.S. theaters. EDGAR WRIGHT is slated to direct, and ACCORDING TO THE SCREEN RANT WEB SITE has completed the script.

Ant Man chats with the Flash on Saturday Night Live

Ant Man chats with the Flash on Saturday Night Live

It’s easy to imagine the jokes that will soon be cracked on James Bond fan message boards. “Ant Man? Bond will SQUISH him!” Figuratively speaking, that may happen. The character hasn’t gotten a lot of respect to date. Ant Man once was part of a 1970s Saturday Night Live skit, where he was portrayed by Garrett Morris and other superheroes (such as John Belushi’s Hulk) made fun of him.

Then again, Iron Man was once called a second-tier Marvel character until Robert Downey Jr. suited up in 2008′s Iron Man. Ant Man will also be the first Marvel film after The Avengers sequel starring Downey that’s scheduled for May 2015. So Ant Man will probably have a lot of publicity. Still, as far as 007 fans are concerned, Ant Man faces a large task taking on Bond at the box office.

APRIL 2013 POST: THE FAMILY MODEL (EON) VS. THE CORPORATE MODEL (MARVEL)

Happy Fourth of July from the HMSS Weblog

And don’t forget: Don’t yield, back S.H.I.E.L.D.

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Marvel to re-issue Steranko’s S.H.I.E.L.D. stories

Jim Steranko's cover for Strange Tales No. 167

Jim Steranko’s cover for Strange Tales No. 167, climax of the Yellow Claw storyline.

Marvel Comics is re-issuing artist-writer Jim Steranko’s classic run on Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. in September in time for a new S.H.I.E.L.D. series on ABC.

The trade paperback is priced at $34.99 but can be PRE-ORDERED ON AMAZON.COM FOR $24.79. It reprints the Nick Fury stories from Strange Tales Nos. 151-168 and issues 1-3 and 5 of Fury’s own title. (No. 4 was an expanded re-telling by Roy Thomas and Frank Springer of the S.H.I.E.L.D. origin story by first done by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in Strange Tales No. 135.)

Steranko took over as S.H.I.E.L.D. artist with issue 151. Jack Kirby, Fury’s co-creator, did rough layouts with Steranko doing finished pencils and inks. Eventually, Steranko took over as writer as well.

Steranko came in the middle of a storyline started by Stan Lee involving a new mysterious Supreme Hydra who was a master of disguise. Steranko eventually revealed the character to be none other than Baron Wolfgang Von Strucker, Fury’s nemesis from World War II.

Steranko had another long storyline reviving a 1950s villain, the Yellow Claw. The politically incorrect named villain is revealed in the last installment to be merely a robot. It was all part of an elaborate, chess-like game played by Dr. Doom and a sophisticated robot.

James Bond makes a "cameo" in Strange Tales No. 164

007′s “cameo” in Strange Tales No. 164

Steranko clearly was a James Bond fan. One of his stories featured a weapons expert named Boothroyd. In Strange Tales No. 164, the Sean Connery version of Bond pays a one-panel visit to a S.H.I.E.L.D. barber shop front.

The new paperback is coming out on Sept. 24. Walt Disney Co.’s ABC will air its new S.H.I.E.L.D. series this fall, built around Clark Gregg’s agent seen in a number of Marvel movies, including 2012′s The Avengers. When last seen, it appeared Gregg’s Agent Coulson had died. Then again, the audience only had the word of Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) about that. The S.H.I.E.L.D. series is overseen by Whedon, who directed the Avengers film.

Meanwhile, here’s a tip of the cap to TANNER’S DOUBLE O SECTION BLOG, where we first read about this.

2000 HMSS STORY: DON’T YIELD, BACK S.H.I.E.L.D.

Iron Man Three: Tony Stark’s 007 moment

Cover to Iron Man No. 125

Cover to Iron Man No. 125

In Iron Man Three, Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark can’t use his Iron Man armor for an extended sequence. As he searches for the Mandarin, Downey/Stark seems downright 007-like infiltrating an estate in search of the villain and using gadgets and a firearm.

The movie’s sequence is partially based on a 1979 comic book story by writer David Michelinie and artists John Romita Jr. and Bob Layton, which was co-plotted by Michelinie and Layton.

Michelinie and Layton are included in a “special thanks” credit along with other writers and artists of comic book stories used in the movie. This is separate from a “based on the comic book by” credit for Stan Lee, Don Heck, Larry Lieber and Jack Kirby for creating the character.

The context of the Michelinie-Layton plotted story is different than the 2013 film, but the writer and artist also separated Stark from his armor. One major difference in the original comic book story is that Stark knows he needs additional physical training before he attempts 007-like deeds. He receives such training from none other than Captain America.

As in the new movie, Stark eventually regains access to the armor. But for a time he has to use his own wits and abilities. The cover to issue 125, drawn by Layton, evokes James Bond films.

To read more about the original comic book story, you can CLICK HERE FOR A SYNOPSIS OF IRON MAN 124 (which sets up the situation where Stark is separated from his armor) HERE FOR A SYNOPSIS OF IRON MAN 125, HERE FOR ISSUE 126 and HERE FOR ISSUE 127, which concluded the story arc.

Blofeld and Strucker: masterminds separated at birth?

Blofeld in 007 Legends


This year, as part of the 50th anniversary of the film James Bond, there’s a new video game where Daniel Craig’s James Bond participates in storylines from five 007 films before the actor ever took up the part. The writer of the video game is Bruce Feirstein, who helped script three 007 films in the 1990s, starting with GoldenEye and running through The World Is Not Enough.

But something else caught our eye — the video game’s Ernst Stavro Blofeld looks awfully familiar but only if you’re familiar with a certain comic book spy.

The makers of the Activision video game instead of using the likeness of an actor who actually played Blofeld (Donald Pleasence, Telly Savalas, Charles Gray and Max Von Sydow), did a little mixing and matching. The 007 Legend’s Blofeld combines the facial scars of Pleasence’s version with the more physical Savalas version).

Baron Wolfgang Von Strucker menaces Nick Fury, courtesy of writer-artist Jim Steranko


Interestingly, and perhaps by coincidence, the 007 Legends Blofeld resembles Baron Wolfgang Von Strucker, the leader of the group Hydra that bedeviled Marvel Comics’ Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD.

In fact, the Strucker character was originally created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby for the World War II comic, Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos. Writer-artist Jim Steranko devised the idea that Strucker survived World War II and now was the chief of Hydra in the 1960s SHIELD story.

Steranko began drawing the SHIELD version of Nick Fury with Strange Tales No. 151, while Stan Lee was still writing the title. Kirby provided rough layouts, essentially an outline for Steranko to follow.

Steranko eventually took over all of the art responsibilities and later began writing the SHIELD stories also. At the end of Strange Tales No. 156, Steranko produced a two-page spread revealing that Strucker, Fury’s World War II arch-enemy, was Hydra’s leader Strucker had a facial scar very much like the Pleasence version of Blofeld.

Meanwhile, here’s a preview of 007 Legends that was upload to YouTube:

Here are the opening credits for 007 Legends:

ABC orders SHIELD pilot, Deadline reports

Jim Steranko’s cover for Strange Tales No. 167


ABC has ordered a SHIELD pilot to be co-written by Joss Whedon, the Deadline entertainment news Web site reported.

An excerpt:

The project is based on Marvel’s peacekeeping organization S.H.I.E.L.D (which stands for Strategic Hazard Intervention Espionage Logistics Directorate or Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division) found in both the Marvel comic book and feature film universes, including the blockbuster 2012 movie The Avengers, in which S.H.I.E.L.D director Nick Fury, recruits Iron Man, Captain America, the Hulk, and Thor to stop Thor’s adoptive brother Loki from subjugating Earth.

S.H.I.E.L.D. will be written by Whedon and frequent collaborators, his brother Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen. Joss Whedon also is set to direct the pilot, schedule permitting.

SHIELD (which originally stood for Supreme Headquarters, International Espionage Law-Enforcement Division) debuted in 1965 in a story by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in Strange Tales No. 135. In that initial effort, Nick Fury is recruited to be SHIELD’s director. Lee and Kirby first created Fury in 1963 as the lead in a World War II comic book, Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos. It was established in a Fantastic Four story that Fury survived the war and was in the CIA.

Fury and SHIELD reached their peak of popularity in stories written and drawn by Jim Steranko. Steranko guided Fury into his own title in 1968 but departed after doing four of the first five issues.

The ABC pilot isn’t SHIELD’s first foray into television. David Hasselhoff starred in the title role in a 1998 TV movie, Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD.

Happy Fourth of July from the HMSS Weblog

We thought it’d be a good way to celebrate the 236th anniversary of the birth of the U.S.A. to remember this image from artist Jim Steranko, circa September 1968. It was Steranko’s cover for Strange Tales No. 167, featuring Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby:

Jim Steranko’s cover for Strange Tales No. 167

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