After 10 days of independent cinema stifled our love of superhero movie news, Superhero Bits is finally back and it’s filled news from today as well as some of the bigger stories from the past week. So, for example, want to see photos of high end Dark Knight Rises merchandise? Is there still a chance a Shazam movie might take place? Has The Lizard from The Amazing Spider-Man once again been revealed? When might we see a Nick Fury movie? Which three characters might have massive cameos in The Dark Knight Rises, The Avengers and Iron Man 3 respectively? What’s the link between SOPA and The Dark Knight Rises? Read about all this and more in the return of Superhero Bits! Read More »

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Shazam! Gets New Writers: Bill Birch and Geoff Johns

captainmarvel2

For a super-powered guy with lightning speed, Captain Marvel moves pretty slow. The Shazam! film, once a New Line project and now part of Warner Bros., has been inching towards the screen for several years. Get Smart‘s Peter Segal remains on board as director, but there are two new contestants in the screenwriting game: Bill Birch and comics luminary Geoff Johns. What’s going on with the film, after the break. Read More »

Shazam is Dead

You won’t be seeing a big screen adaptation of Shazam hitting theaters anytime soon, as the project is now officially dead. Screenwriter John August has posted an in depth article on his blog explaining how the writer’s strike, New Line being merged into Warner Bros, and the back and fourth between various studio execs eventually killed the project. If you have a few minutes it’s well worth the read, and it’s very typical of the hilarity and frustration of the Hollywood studio system. Here is an excerpt:

“When we turned the new draft in to the studio, we got a reaction that made me wonder if anyone at Warners had actually read previous drafts or the associated notes. The studio felt the movie played too young. They wanted edgier. They wanted Billy to be older. They wanted Black Adam to appear much earlier. (I pointed out that Black Adam appears on page one, but never got a response.)”

At the end of the day, August places blame on the failure of Speed Racer and monster success of The Dark Knight. Hollywood executives don’t spend a lot of time trying to analyze why something was a success or failure, they just try to replicate the good. And for The Dark Knight, that meant that a comic book movie must be dark and real.

The first flopped; the second triumphed. Given only those two examples, one can understand why a studio might wish for their movies to be more like the latter. But to do so ignores the success of Iron Man, which spent most of its running time as a comedic origin story, and the even more pertinent example of WB’s own Harry Potter series. I tried to make this case, to no avail.”

Warner Bros wanted “a much harder movie, with a lot more Black Adam,” and not the action-comedy project that August initially signed on to develop. August wrote a draft which he “could envision getting made”. The producer and director liked it but somehow, for some reason, the project fell into development heck.

Honestly, I was never interested in a Shazam movie. I’m a big fan of August’s screenplays. I know I’ve over praised August’s debut script Go, directed by Doug Liman, many times in the past. August was the only real reason why I was interested in the project in the first place. And I’m sure the project will someday find its way out of Development heck with some hack writer/director like Paul W.S. Anderson attached, ready to give the studio their “dark comic book movie”.

WonderCon: Get Smart

Get Smart

Wonder-Con premiered the newly minted trailer for Get Smart, the big screen adaptation of the 1960s television series created by Mel Brooks and Buck Henry that starred Don Adams and Barbara Feldman. It looked good, better than good. Now this is how you make you a trailer: mixing verbal humor, physical comedy, and large-scale action, along with callbacks to the original series, including multiple callbacks (e.g., repeated lines of dialogue).

Director Peter Segal (The Longest Yard, 50 First Dates, Anger Management) was on hand to talk about Get Smart. He started off the panel by saying he wanted to embrace the spirit of the original TV series and bring it up to date for contemporary audiences. Segal then introduced the co-stars, Anne Hathaway and Steve Carell to raucous cheers from the Wonder-Con audience. The Q&A started almost immediately.

One of the first questioners Carell asked whether he was writing anything new (he’s written several episodes of his television series, The Office). Carell said he’s not working on anything right now. As he’s just completed two weeks of jury duty in Los Angeles, he’s going to write or co-write an episode of the Office in which his character gets called on to serve on a jury. Given Carell’s track record, it promises to be hilarious.

Another Wonder-Con attendee asked Carell about whether he’d change or modulate his voice to match Don Adams’ easily recognizable delivery, especially the iconic sentences or phrases that have become synonymous with the character and the series. Hard not to do it like him, stands alone, but hard to get Adams’ voice out of his head. From what we saw and heard in the trailer, Carell’s delivery sounded like a mix between his voice and Adams’ iconic voice.

Another attendee asked about Carell’s start in improv comedy. Carell jokingly said he didn’t want to learn any lines, so improv seemed like the right way to go, but it also just started out as fun, extracurricular activity that eventually segued into comedy and acting.

Another questioner asked Carell thought about doing trying different roles? Answer: Boston Strangler. As long as I get paid, I’m fine, said Carell, but he’ll take whatever might be good or entertaining. Hathaway chimed in with Little Miss Sunshine.

Another attendee asked Hathaway what it was like to work with Carell on Get Smart. She said it was terrible, but quickly corrected herself to say she loved working with him (she was kidding, of course), generously calling Steve one of the comedic masters of our time and it was a pleasure and an honor to work with him. She did say that she was nervous improvising with Carell at first, but eventually got over it.

The next questioner asked about the for the possibility of a sequel, Segal said, “In case you like the movie, I’d like to come back for a sequel.” Segal said was a fun set, great cast., and he’d love to work with them again.

Another questioner asked about the challenges involved in remaking/adapting such a well known, well-liked TV show. Segal reiterated that he wanted to bring the Get Smart characters and their universe to new audiences, but he also wanted to include enough callbacks to the series for fans (so he didn’t really answer the question).

Someone else followed about Barbara Feldman and whether she’d make a cameo in the film, but apparently the answer is no. Other cameos from actors associated with the series have been promised, however. Segal seemed to dance around the question by saying that she never appeared on set, but perhaps she filmed her cameo separately (or not). Hathaway chimed in to say that she considers Feldman an idol and that it was daunting to step into her shoes. She described Feldman’s portrayal of Agent 99 as kind, sophisticated, smart, and elegantly sexy.

Inevitably the question about Segal would do after Get Smart. Shazam, the big screen adaptation of DC’s Captain Marvel (a.k.a., The Big Red Cheese), is still slated at his next project, but the start date has been delayed due to the writer’s strike. Screenwriter John August is back working on the script, however. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is still pegged for the role of Captain Marvel’s nemesis, Black Adam, but Segal didn’t mention any other casting decisions. Given Segal’s track record (comedies), a big-budget, effects-laden film doesn’t seem like his thing, but maybe he’ll surprise us. Hopefully, he won’t make it so kid-friendly that he’ll alienate adults and fans of the character.

Someone asked the panel what movies inspired them to get into filmmaking. Hathaway said Auntie Mame. Segal said Young Frankenstein remake. For Carell, Dr. Strangelove. Seriously. And with that, the Get Smart panel gave way to Disney (e.g., The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, Wall-E).

Shazam!: The Rock is Black Adam

The Rock as Black Adam

At the Southland Tales junket earlier today, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson gave us a big update on the big screen adaptation of the Captain Marvel comic book Shazam! Things have changed and Johnson is now playing Black Adam.

“I just met with Pete Segal last night,” The Rock told /Film. “It was a great meeting on Shazam. We’re just waiting for John August to hand in another draft, which will probably be handed in months from now because of the strike.”

“And not Shazam but Black Adam, that’s now very clear. He’s a character that I can’t wait to play. When they first approached me about playing Captain Marvel, they said there is also this interesting character too called Black Adam. This was about a year ago on the set of Get Smart. I said ‘Oh, Okay, Great’.

But it was comic book fans that convinced Johnson to take on the Black Adam character.

“We went down to Comic Con to show the trailer for Get Smart. And there I was talking to all the fans and they were like ‘You should really look into Black Atom.’ So I said to some writer or journalist that I think it’s up to the fans, they should just let me know. And they just let me know in spades – It’s Black Adam! And that dictated to the studio, to the director…”

According to Wikipedia, Black Adam is a morally ambiguous nature has his character fall between the lines of heroism and villainy. The character was originally created in 1945 for the premiere issue of Fawcett Comics’ Marvel Family comic book by Otto Binder and C. C. Beck as an “evil” version of Fawcett’s popular Captain Marvel character. By the early 21st century, Adam had been redefined by DC writers Jerry Ordway, Geoff Johns, and David S. Goyer as a corrupted anti-hero attempting to clear his name. Adam’s personal goal is to enforce justice; however, his ideals of justice, often involving hostile action or execution, are considered extreme by many of the heroes who have attempted to give the former supervillain a second chance. This current version of Black Adam is the former ruler of Kahndaq, a fictional Middle Eastern nation in the DC Universe.

jakegylenlong.jpgOne of the big rumors circulating the interweb this week was that Jake Gyllenhaal is being cast as Captain Marvel in the big screen adaptation of DC Comic’s Shazam!

“I’ll be sure to let the studio, producers, and director know,” says Shazam! screenwriter John August. “But the thing is, he’s not considering. I can pretty much assure you he’s never heard of the project. And we’ve never discussed him. We’ve never seriously discussed anyone.”

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