Well, yeah, much more so today, but even back then, there was not a lack of effort, just a lack of success—the film rights to Batman were purchased by Michael Uslan and Benjamin Melniker right after the success of the first Superman film, in April of 1979, and they kept trying to get the thing made, it just took a ton of pitching, nine rewrites and ten years for that to happen. Marvel at the time was focused on TV—there was a bad Spiderman series (‘77-’79) and two terrible Captain America TV movies (’79), but Roger Corman actually optioned the rights to Spider-Man around this time and held them until they passed to Cannon Films in ’85, but Cannon had problems of their own by then, and the Superman franchise had gone into a tailspin with Superman III and Supergirl in ’83 and ’84.
In retrospect it all seems kind of ridiculous, given the later success of the genre, and given the money to be made, but I have to believe the difference is also partly that the pre-Spielberg/Lucas/Cameron blockbuster mindset was still somewhat entrenched in the studios at that time.
Just to finish the story, when a failing Cannon was absorbed by Pathe in the late ‘80s, Golan was allowed to take the rights to Spider-Man and Captain American with him when he left, and that lead to the Captain America movie that was released direct-to-video not long after Burton’s first Batman movie was in theaters.
^^i was going to ask you about that one earlier Matt. That Pyun movie was terrible. I guess that’s why it went straight to video. i remember reading an interview with him about a year after it happened, and he basically said that the film was meant to be released theatrically, and all these problems occured with the company, and the film was recut or something, against his will, and that he essentially disowned it.
Let’s see if they finally get C.A right with this new film. It’s from the same director as The Rocketeer i believe.
Yeah, I’m glad they have made an effort to set the new film in its proper historical period rather than contemporizing it. I thought The Rocketeer was a decent film (though I haven’t seen it since it was in theaters) with the same kind of period-scifi premise, so maybe it will work.
The cool thing about Tracy that few of the others emphasize is multiple villians. It was almost as though Beatty thought Tracy would be a one time thing so threw every great villian in there. In that way (and only that way), Tracy reminds me of the original Batman movie (with Adam West) which had a ton of villians against Bat and boy wonder (a good film, better than reimaginings that have been made so far I would say)
Always amazed the fact of such a successful film, well priased among critics and public, Oscar winner and so, never have a sequel when it was needed back in the 1990’s. I really love that film, it is incredible. Now, we hear all this buzz about it and keep thinking: "Will Beatty be able to do all that again? I men, act, write, produce and direct? Not to mention that today’s generation don’t even have a clue about what this was back in 1990. I wouldn’t mind seeing a new Dick Tracy film but it’s better Beatty stays behind the camera only.
“never have a sequel when it was needed back in the 1990’s”
I think it was largely due to 1) Disney’s apathy toward a sequel because of the lack of return on investment in the original, and 2) dispute over the rights to the characters. According to Beatty, Tribune Media Services (which owns the characters) blocked him from making a sequel back in the mid-’80s. Beatty ended up suing the Tribune for $30 million dollars in damages. TMS went into Chapt 11 in 2009, which no doubt helped speed a resolution along.
From the perspective of the comic book industry, Marvel and DC had problems of their own—the newstand-based distribution model had declined badly by that time and the direct market distribution had not yet developed as a fully viable alternative, so sales weren’t great and there wasn’t necessary a vision of superheroes as a multimedia property as there is today.
This is where graphic novels filled the void. It was no longer a “news stand business” but a book selling business, not to mention the proliferation of fairs around the country that saw droves of enthusiasts come out to find their favorite 12 cent “comics” in protective mylar sleeves and pay hundreds of dollars for them. The late 80s was a major boon in this industry, and it followed that the studios would pick up on this, especially with the storyboards laid out so nicely for them. All they had to do was follow the panels.
Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns was a watershed event. This graphic novel, originally released as 4 issues (Feb-June 1986), was packaged into a highly popular single volume, which served as inspiration for Burton’s movie. Miller updated Batman, inspiring many others to rethink Superheros, like Dan Jurgens’ The Death of Superman in 1992.
I think this helps explain why we didn’t see the proliferation of superhero movies until the 90s. Hollywood wasn’t convinced there was a mass audience out there for such films, but after seeing some of these mega comic book fairs, and the revival of the graphic novel, they realized there was a gold mine here.
^^Probably Dzimas, but at the same time, you don’t spend 100-200 million just to appeal to comic book geeks. THey make up a small percentage of the actual audience that watches these films.
Comic book films are just the new action movies. that’s why they are popular
I liked the straight to dvd Capt America. He had a good innocent to him (played by Matt, JD Salinger’s son) and the Red Skull was very well done in that film. I even liked the Corman Fantastic Four (or at least it is much better than the new expensive ones)
the dtv one was closer to the comic than the television series:
at least in look, but Albert Pyun is an acquired taste.
Joks, check out the episode Super Ray is Mortal from Bored to Death. At least I think that is the episode in which Ray sits down with Kevin Bacon at a bar to discuss the inspiration for his comic book superhero that Kevin plans to play in a movie. Of course, everything goes sour, but it sums the situation up well ; )
There must have been something in those graphic novels, joks, if Hollywood decided to do V for Vendetta and Watchmen, two of the most successful graphic novels to come out of that era.
Watchmen and Miller’s Dark Knight were in some senses deconstruction of tradition comic book narratives, and that wasn’t really successfully translated to film, of course. V for Vendetta was written specifically as a Reagan/Thatcherism polemic, and to me was too dated to work as a film in a different era. Miller came to Dark Knight fresh from a very succcessful reimagining of Daredevil at Marvel that ran from 1979 to 1983, with a brief reprise in ‘85-’86.
DZIMAS: You are right, there was, but look how long it took to bring Watchmen to the screen? For years they thought it was impossible. Gilliam tried and failed miserably. So did others.
I’m surprised they even made it to be honest.
MATT: don’t you think the allegory is still relevant in the neo-liberal era though? It’s not like we have changed too much since the 80’s. or was there something specific in the material that has dated?
I thought V translated pretty well. The relationship between Blair and Dubya wasn’t significantly different from that of Thatcher and Reagan. But, I think Moore drew on a lot of sources for that graphic novel, not least of all Orwell
I didn’t bother with Watchmen. Previews looked awful.
“don’t you think the allegory is still relevant in the neo-liberal era though?”
Sort of. There’s always some sort of quasi-fascist authority to oppose it to
(the Dead Kennedys did the same kind of thing to Jerry Brown’s comparatively liberal agenda with "California Uber Alles even before Moore had articulated his own quasi-anarchic political stance in comics), but I think to many of the most pressing particulars did not apply to the post 9/11 Bush/Blair political reality, and I think the filmmakers really dumbed the whole thing down by making V a much less ambiguous figure. Instead of a possibly insane anarchist opposing a facist state, McTeigue and company turn him into a sort of libertarian superhero that refuses to be assimilated by a neocon state. In the film he’s more Tea Party that Guy Fawkes (in that sense, I guess the film is prescient in its own way).
“The relationship between Blair and Dubya wasn’t significantly different from that of Thatcher and Reagan.”
Well, the power dynamic between the two sets of leaders may have been similar, but the political climates of the two periods were vastly different and the politicians themselves weren’t terribly similar— Thatcher was a Conservative while Blair was Labour, Reagan won a major victory against Carter in his election while it’s arguable that Bush really won the election against Gore at all, etc.
Polanski’s recent movie, Ghostwriter, offers an interesting take, seeing Blair as an “American Candidate” manipulated by the CIA. The dynamic hasn’t really changed that much, and the fact that Obama is continuing many of the same policies, shows that the tail is still wagging the dog. Politicians are easily manipulated.
What makes V interesting, and indeed Ghostwriter, is that they both quote a wide range of sources while offering a take on the current political climate. I think Europe has changed quite a bit since the 80s, but not the US, although the US continues to influence many of the decisions being made on this continent, either directly or indirectly.
Onion AV reviews Dick Tracy blu-ray. Knowing this had fans here, I thought to post it. The comments are pretty funny.