Spider-Man: Far From Home

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The ever amazing Alex Yi has worked up a fun sketch reminiscent of old Marvel Vs. Capcom video games. I’m looking forward to seeing this one again. Full of twists and turns and a classic Spider-Man villain ripped perfectly from the pages of Amazing Spider-Man. There is no question in my mind that Tom Holland is perfect embodiment of Spider-Man/Peter Parker and here’s hoping he has as long a run as Hugh Jackman did with Wolverine in the X-Men Franchise.

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Spider-Man: Homecoming Gross Analysis

The Summer Box Office is finally starting to heat up after a somewhat lackluster late Winter-Spring. There were a lot of duds in there from Life to Alien: Covenant and Baywatch, as well as King Arthur, Ghost in the Shell, The Great Wall and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. It’s clear that people want quality over quantity. Which is why Wonder Woman, Baby Driver, Get Out and Guardians 2 all scored big at the box office. Which brings us to this week’s release, Spider-Man: Homecoming. I had a chance to see the movie a bit earlier, and I’m not parsing my words here when I say - BEST SPIDER-MAN MOVIE - so far. And when I say BEST I mean, in my humble opinion, it rivals the best of Tobey McGuire’s Spidey. If you’re a Spidey fan through and through you probably agree that Tom Holland balances the best parts of Peter Parker and Spider-Man into the complete package. Now I promise to delve in on another post about the specifics about the movie, but today I want to take a crack at guessing the opening box office for Spider-Man and what I think it might make all in.

Let’s start with the tracking. In film distribution every film that gets released appears on tracking reports about two to three weeks before its release. Spider-Man, for instance, came on tracking at around a 15 or so and is hovering around a 24 currently, the week of the release. The tricky part about tracking is that it represents polling for first choice by the consumer. If you have a lot of movies in the field either already on screen or coming out in a week or two it can potentially take away points from any film. Because of high numbers for Wonder Woman and Despicable Me, and now War of the Planet of the Apes, it’s possible that the tracking doesn’t reflect for this week the true first choice. So it’s possible that Spider-Man very well could be under-inflated and actually be higher. It’s all kind of a gamble. Early predictions have Spider-Man opening to right around 100 million for the weekend. Not too bad, and if you were to solely base it on tracking it’s a fairly conservative number. But I don’t think that’s where this film is. I’m going to take it a bit higher. I think because the film is currently fresh at 92% on Rotten Tomatoes and is garnering much early love from fans that I think it’s going to reach about 125-130 for the weekend. Which would be an improvement from Amazing Spider-Man 2 back in 2014 which opened to 91.6 million.

Now it is possible that some of the wind in Spidey’s sails has dwindled as this is the third incarnation of the superhero in as many years. But I would say Captain America: Civil War, which introduced this new Spidey last year is proof that Spider-Man is still a major draw. Spider-Man was considered one of the best parts of Civil War and I think, for fans, showed that Spidey would make a huge impression in the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe.) This is also the perfect timing for a film of this type, a giant blockbuster, in the heart of summer after two very equally successful and well done Super Hero blockbusters in Wonder Woman and Guardians of the Galaxy 2. I think it helps Spidey that other closer big budgeted flicks like Transformers and The Mummy underperformed. With strong dramas like Apes and Dunkirk soon to follow it could also keep Spidey afloat as those two films seem fantastic, but also very bleak. Apes should be a big grosser but I think with the dark tone it will have a much more limited audience than Spidey. The same might be said about Dunkirk as well as it has already garnered mixed reviews. War movies are always tough especially in the summer but what makes this one even more difficult, at least in the states, is the very British narrative. These types of films usually do very minimal in the U.S., so it will be a testament to director Chris Nolan if Dunkirk makes Inception or Interstellar money. So to sum up, I feel confident that Spidey will have the proper legs to get it to a strong 325-340 million all in.

CASTING CALL: PART 2 - THE THUNDERCATS

In our last post we talked about how we might bring Thundercats to the big screen, some of the hurdles and what kick ass stuff we'd like to see in a live action version. Obviously the script is one of the most important parts of any movie. But for a movie like Thundercats where, obviously, they will require live action cat people. You're going to need to pull out all the stops to legitimize it properly. Which is why I want to go over the Thundercats themselves, who we think would be best to cast and why. 

LION-O: Lion-O is the leader of the Thundercats. His role is complicated as he is a kid trapped in a man’s body.  Lion-O is impatient and quick to attack, and at times extremely naive but he also has great empathy and strength and learns from his mistakes. It would be a mistake to just put a pretty face there and call it a day. To make this character truly come alive they would have to balance all of these things well.  So Jill and I broke down three actors we think would effectively bring Lion-O to the big screen: Sam Heughan, Chris Wood and Richard Madden.  Chris Wood has been making his bones on Supergirl and he has been one of the best parts of the sophomore season as Mon-El. He's a big guy and could look the part of Lion-O and he's just a big kid, or at least he convincingly plays on on tv, which is the perfect mindset for Lion-O. Sam Heughan from Outlander is another solid contender.  He's tall, has great hair, and muscles for days! His character on the show is incredibly strong and tough, yet sensitive, loving, and very protective of those he loves. Outside of the show he's very active on social media and he's just an all around big kid! Super goofy at times, and very funny and playful. He's got a good mix and we feel he can portray Lion-O as strong, yet kid-like!  And did I mention the muscles?  He's also a very talented actor who is extremely versatile. In the end I think our standout is Richard Madden. He was fantastic as Rob Stark on Game of Thrones. He had to play a kid who was forced to grow up to fast. He brings the youthful energy, he was already the King of the North I think he could handle the throne of Thundera. He also gets extra points for his sophisticated and crafty turn as Cosomo Medici on the Netflix show of the same name.  To top it off he's no stranger to a blockbuster movie, namely Disney's Cinderella. Frankly the guy has it where it counts and I think he can bring real meat to the role of the leader of the Thundercats. 

PANTHRO: is really the defacto leader of the Thundercats because of Lion-O’s immaturity. He wears many hats. Not only is he the resident techie of the group he’s also their greatest warrior and he’s gotta be huge. He also has severe anger management issues so it’s gotta be someone who can play up the rage. We're looking at Boris Kadjoe, the "Rock" Dwayne Johnson and Jamie Foxx.  Now I know for years people have tried to plant Vin Diesel here and yeah I can see why but the guy can only play one type of role. He'd be Dominic Torretto with Panthro face. So we're nixing that right now. Boris Kadjoe is a solid actor who hasn't really had a big enough break yet. He's been on some solid TV shows like Last Man on Earth and I liked him on Undercovers for two seasons playing a debonair spy. I think he could sell the look and personality of Panthro pretty well. Of course if I had my pick today, I’d prefer the Rock at least for personality and of course the look. I just always pictured Panthro as jacked and the Rock fits that bill. However Jamie Foxx brings the cool and Panthro was pretty damn cool. It's kind of a toss up for me but I'd probably lean toward the Rock on this one.  Panthro is fucking smart he’s the tactician of the group and the scientist and he’s got to look like a bad ass when he throws down. All must be a requirement when casting this guy.

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SNARF: We would need a voice actor for this role as Snarf will probably be a CGI character.  At the moment I'm looking at Jim Gaffigan, Louis C.K. and Kevin Hart. I know, these are all over the place but Snarf is a fucking annoying character yet so vital to the Thundercats. He’s kind of the C-3PO of the group. He takes care of Lion-O and tries to guide him but whines like nobodies business. The three comics I chose are the best in their field at whining while remaining hilarious and not annoying. I think this casting is what is going to make Thundercats different, a little weird but awesome. I think Jim Gaffigan could play it closest to the cartoon without wanting to tear your hair out plus I'm really dying to hear him just say - "Snarf, Snarf" a bunch of times when he's scared. Louis C.K. would be funny but probably more subdued and ironic Snarf - low energy rather than high pitched. Could work but it would depend on the actors he has to bounce off with. Honestly the most bankable out of this group is Kevin Hart he'd be out of left field but it'd be damn funny. Get him in full on complain mode and let him do his thing. Also I would love to get that interaction with Kevin Hart's Snarf and Dwayne Johnson's Panthro. Box Office Gold I tell you. 

JAGA: I think for Jaga we need to class it up a lot so that would mean these guys -  Idris Elba , Bryan Cranston, Gary Oldman and Ken Watanabe. Jaga of course is the Obi Wan Kenobi who is important as he comes back as a force ghost to instruct Lion-O at times. He’s also got to sell the opening origin story as he is the principle. He is noble and wise and is a bad ass warrior. He is the keeper of the secrets of Thundera and is crucial to making the history of the Thundercats believable and interesting. These actors above will be capable of doing all of that while bringing their own styles to the role. This one is going to be tough because Jaga is crucial to the movie but he's only going to be in it a short time even if he's brought back from time to time as a force ghost (see he really is Obi Wan Kenobi). I think all of the guys we chose would do the character proud. Idris would kill it and he's no stranger to obscure sci-fi movies. Gary Oldman would be great too but maybe too intense and distracting. Bryan Cranston is larger than life and would bring that crusty wise Jaga to the fore in a really cool way. But I keep coming back to Ken Watanabe. The guy is all nobility and he's a great actor and has a strong presence from his roles in Inception to Last Samurai. I think I like him best of all for this one. 

TYGRA:  Tygra always came across as bland on the show so I was finding it difficult to get someone good for him. Tygra is a scientist and an architect as well as a kick ass warrior. (aren’t they all?) He has a strong mind and Lion-O trusts him even over Pathro and has mentioned from time to time that if he were to fall it would be Tygra who would take command. He also has some form of mind powers. It is also suggested that he may be a relative of Lion-O and in the newest animated cartoon he’s his brother. I like Garrett Hedlund from Tron: Legacy and he was really funny and intense as Dime in Billy Lynn's Half Time Walk. Although he does tend to go wooden at times in most of his films or annoyingly over the top in movies like Pan. Which, in my mind, hurt his chances.  Zac Efron definitely has the chops and the build and even though he's been doing dumb comedies of late like Baywatch and Dirty Grandpa he could be a scene stealer in a role like this. But in the end I'm leaning more toward Scott Eastwood, I mean look at this guy he's a dead ringer for his daddy Clint and he's a pretty solid actor in his own right. He's had small roles up to this point in big flicks like Suicide Squad and Fury and held his own with the likes of Jared Leto and Brad Pitt. While taking lead roles in straight to video flicks like Diablo. He's paid his dues I think. The guy seems to have the right amount of toughness and pathos to pull off the character.  

WILY KAT & WILY KIT:  Jacob Tremblay, Finn Wolfhard, Millie Bobbie Brown, Mackenzie Foy.  So these kids are a few years younger than Lion-O and are orphan Nobles who left Thundera with the rest of the Thundercats. Since Lion-O’s body has aged and theirs hasn’t it brings some context to their problem and reminding everyone that even though Lion-O doesn’t look it he’s only a year or so older than them. Wily Kat, the male, is a bit cautious while Wily Kit, female, is wild and somewhat rebellious.  I think you would have to up the cute factor a bit but these kids aren't just a bit of fluff from the show. They are the future of Thundera. There is no more of their kind after the destruction of their world so keeping them alive is a huge part of the struggle in the film I would think. So I threw out a couple kids that could work but honestly this needs to go to Jacob Tremblay, the kid from Room. I think that speaks for itself. Hadn't seen a performance like his since Haley Joel Osment in Sixth Sense. For Wily Kit I'd go with Millie Bobbie Brown, she's talented and tough and she's adorable. She killed it on Stranger Things by owning her role as eleven. Also I can see her doing crazy gymnastics flying through the air throwing those multi-colored bomb things they have. 

CHEETARA:   Cheetara is a highly skilled warrior with lightning fast speed and agility. She was trained by Jaga and acts as Lion-O’s bodyguard. She’s the most accomplished fighter of the group and she’s got that bad ass bow she fights with. She’s a smart tactician and relentless. She’s empathetic and extremely reliable. We've scoured the field and narrowed it down to these kick ass women: Keira Knightley, Rebecca Ferguson, Eiza Gonzalez and Emily Blunt. These actresses can handle the physical and emotional quotient to bring Cheetara to life. But there can be only one. Keira Knightley is solid as an actress and is a veteran of blockbusters from Pirates of The Caribbean to Love Actually and the Queen of art in Atonement and Begin Again. I always had a tough time believing her in action roles like Domino and even sometimes in Pirates, however - that would be true if she were playing a bruiser. Cheetara is lean, fast and agile. So that makes some sense for her. Emily Blunt and Rebecca Ferguson have proven their action cred in two films starring opposite Tom Cruise. Blunt for Edge of Tomorrow where she played a tough as nails warrior who takes no prisoners. Ferguson played a double agent in the last Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation. Both are extremely capable and would own the role. But again I think I'm going to go with a relative newcomer, Eiza Gonzalez. She's stunningly beautiful but after watching her recently in Baby Driver I love the attitude that she would bring to Cheetara. She can certainly handle the action and I think she would definitely be a show stopper if chosen.   

In our next post we'll tackle the Villains of Thundercats. As we all know every great hero has to have a fantastic complex villain to foil. 

CASTING CALL: THUNDERCATS

Nothing screamed 80’s Saturday Morning Cartoons more than the Thundercats. With that insanely detailed open - the Sword of Omens brilliant light - Lion-O bouncing around like a bad ass. Panthro, Tygra and of course Cheetara running and spinning her bo like a pro. Between Thundercats and Silverhawks the 80’s kids cartoons was all about “sleek running” and “dramatic jumping.” Created by Tobin “Ted” Wolf, written by Leonard Starr, produced by Rankin Bass and directed by Katsuhito Akiyama. Thundercats went for four seasons and passed through three major production studios in that time. From Rankin Bass, which became Lorimar Productions into Warner Brothers. But that didn’t kill the mighty cats from Thundera as they enjoyed multiple stints in comics from Marvel to Wildstorm, which is really an imprint of DC Comics, owned by Warner Brothers. So if a Thundercats movie were to get a green light it would be at the WB, home of DC’s greatest heroes. Not to get too divergent but what an amazing combined universe that would make. Warner Brothers did attempt to reboot the series in 2011 by making an updated version - it lasted a season. Timing is everything I guess. I have heard many times over the years about a possible Thundercats live-action movie and it always dies out. It’s been sitting in Development Hell for decades. The problem with a live action Thundercats is two-fold: The Thundercats themselves, their design would have to be amazing given they aren’t really human but cat people, done poorly it’ll look goofy or weird real quick. But I think films like Avatar prove you can have non-human characters that look legit without being distracting. Also the plot to Thundercats, since it was a kids cartoon, was fairly simple and yet at times convoluted with some generic heroes and villains. I think J. Solo and I could come up with a coherent and intriguing idea to make Thundercats relevant again with a solid story, exciting action and of course a cast to be envied. So in this first installment, we’ll discuss the plot for our hypothetical adaptation of Thundercats and how we draw our ideas from the source material while creating some new threads. 

 So let’s start with the origin of the Thundercats, as we think we can keep most if not all of that securely in place. Thundera is in deep shit. Much like Superman’s homeworld of Krypton, Thundera suffered some form of planetary disaster that wiped the planet all together. The evil Mutants from Plun-Darr attack the fleeing Thundercats who are trying to start a new life on Third Earth causing some issues for them along the way. I think that would be a good idea to establish off the bat that the Mutants of Plun-Darr are evil a-holes who should not be trifled with. On the show they were a bit goofy and extremely non-threatening. I think our first changes here should be the war with the Mutants have decimated Thundera to the point that it is no longer habitable. The remaining Thundercats escape under fire in order to reach their new home on Third-Earth. The Mutants destroy the entire fleet and attempt to board the flagship containing the heir of Thundera, the child Lion-O and his family legacy the Sword of Omens.

 The Sword is very powerful as it contains the heart and soul of the planet Thundera within the ruby eye at its hilt. This is the source of the Thundercats power. The Mutants led by Slithe, a reptilian creature, hates the Thundarans and covets the Sword of Omens. He and his Mutants destroy every ship in the fleet save the flagship. The Flagship gets away just in time. Unbeknownst to the Thundercats, Slithe had, during the battle, planted a few of his Mutants on board the Flagship where they promptly disable the ship from the inside. The Thundercats appear to be helpless as they have taken to their hibernation pods, all but one. The elder Jaga. He fights the Mutants killing them, but not before they damage Lion-O’s pod forcing Jaga to move Lion-O to his pod and sacrificing himself in the process. Because Jaga’s pod is programmed for him it is later discovered that it has slowed allowing Lion-O to grow to adult size while still retaining the mind of a child. Jaga pilots the ship to Third-Earth but dies of old age once they arrive. Lion-O and his Thundercats explore Third-Earth and all of its strange inhabitants like the Warrior Maidens, The Robot Bears, The Fishmen, the Brute Men, and of course it’s most dangerous inhabitant, the evil Mumm-Ra. The evil one learns of the Sword of Omens from the Slithe and his Mutants, who have been pursuing the Thundercats all this time. They join forces in order to take the sword and conquer Third-Earth. I think you can really explore some interesting ideas with Lion-O, a child trapped in a man’s body, kind of like Big in a much more perilous surrounding.

In our next installment we'll discuss the characters and the actors we think would be best for the roles, as well as a kick ass director that can set the Thundercats loose!

Wonder Woman - Thoughts on how she makes the DCU and Superman Better

Last week Wonder Woman effectively put the DCU on a much better footing as it over-performed at the box office and thrilled fans and critics alike. I was one of those fans and I instantly got excited for the new path forward for this universe and how Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot have put their unique stamp within the DCU. They have also smartly built a blueprint for a successful comic book dynasty, that if followed, could indeed rival the Mouse House and Marvel. If you saw the movie you are probably giving me a bit of a blank stare and saying did we watch the same movie--other than the beginning and end there was literally no real connection to the DC Universe. And you would be correct. What it did do is create a well rounded protagonist that can and will set the tone for future installments that will hopefully tie into the rest of the Justice League going forward. Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman brought her earnest sense of right and wrong without appearing hokey and a righteousness and a naivete that was understandable and relatable. In fact she is by far the closest representation of what Superman should have been since Christopher Reeve last donned the tights.  

 The first real superhero movie that encapsulated everything that makes a comic book special: an incredible origin story, an iconic costume, an iconic soundtrack and a smart but dastardly villain who you can’t help but love. The hope and optimism of an entire generation is poured into every frame. It’s what started all of this - Superman: The Motion Picture.   The film is a bit dated at times, it was after all made in 1978, but the themes and characters still remain relevant today. In fact it holds up so well that Wonder Woman cleverly made noticeable nods to Richard Donner’s original. The prime example was the fantastic alley way scene that mirrored the stick up scene from Superman in many respects. It was a great call back. Director Patty Jenkins went even further, with her love of Superman, in her pitch to Warner Brothers for the film as she aspired to make a film full of love, humor and emotion just like Donner’s. After seeing the movie I can happily say this was a masterful success.

 Despite the bleak look through most of the film, the themes Jenkins expressed in her pitch were present throughout and allowed Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman to actually grow and become the Wonder Woman that we saw in Batman v. Superman. Her chemistry with Chris Pine was probably one of the best pairings since Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone in the last Spider-Man movies. It all seems so simple - write good characters, let them grow. This is unfortunately what was missing from Batman v Superman and Man of Steel. It’s not that Man of Steel was bad,  Henry Cavill is a great Superman, it’s just the massive misunderstanding of the character of Superman. For me it started with the Kent family. For both of those films Superman’s foster parents Martha and Jonathan, at every turn, would tell Clark to be fearful don’t use your powers or you might be discovered. Jonathan tells a young Clark that maybe he should have let a bus full of kids die to protect his secret. In one of the worst parts for me in that movie where Jonathan waves off Clark from saving his own life during a Tornado - and he lets him die. I guess that’s honoring your Father’s wishes but it’s pretty fucked up. In Batman v Superman Martha tells Clark that he can save people or not he doesn’t owe anybody anything. That’s kind of terrible, frankly and the fact that both of them espouse this thinking it’s no wonder he went nuclear on Metropolis at the end of Man of Steel. I understood in the beginning of Man of Steel why Clark felt the need to use his powers as little as possible for fear of doing more damage. But again by the end of the film he’s going full throttle against Zod cratering Metropolis. I know it became a plot point later in the sequel Batman v Superman. But to me it felt like the spectacle over the story by Snyder and it sacrifices the character of Superman as a result, to be honest.  Snyder was just looking for eye popping action scenes of destruction but not really thinking about character motivations. Which brings us to Wonder Woman in Themyscira where her mother, Hippolyta, embodies a bit of both Ma and Pa Kent but through a much better script and with stronger character development is shown why Diana must take the risk and use her powers to save others. This is championed by the wonderful Robin Wright who plays Diana’s bad ass warrior aunt. It worked so seamlessly and to watch Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman discover man’s world with its sexism, cruelty, deception and lies. To see her struggle through this but retain the inherent goodness she represents and embody the strength of love and empathy that encapsulates Wonder Woman makes my thoughts on this matter clear. Also she kicked ass with the lasso and the bulletproof bracelets. In conclusion not only should Patty Jenkins make the sequel to Wonder Woman but she needs to be given the reigns to Superman as well STAT.

Wonder Woman - Making HERstory

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I, like many others (many millions of others!) went to see Wonder Woman on opening weekend.  I could not wait.  I remember seeing re-runs of the tv show with Lynda Carter way back in the day when I was a kid and thinking...wow, a girl who is taking charge, running around and jumping in front of cars and kicking ass and saving the day!  Wonder Woman is such a positive role model for young girls, and girls of all ages actually. After seeing Batman v Superman in the theatre and then the introduction of Wonder Woman, I was spellbound by her.  A fierce, independent, confident, go-getter, no holds barred, feminine yet strong character?  SIGN ME UP.  There are not that many, if at all, female superheroes to really look up to, and this one takes the cake on all levels.  Gal Gadot gave, in my opinion, a perfectly honest and real portrayal.  So wonderfully cast.  She was so badass and it was amazing.

A few months ago I ran my 2nd ever 5k, and the theme was...dress as your favorite female movie character, and I chose her.  I actually felt fearless running that race, and that I could accomplish anything I put my mind to!  And that was to run the entire way and finish with a strong pace.  That I did :).

As I was watching the movie I couldn't help but feel so giddy and proud at seeing this type of character on the big screen.  You usually see the men fighting and saving the day and the females as the damsel in distress needing to be saved.  She didn't need to be saved.  She was doing the saving.  Throughout the entire film she was fighting for what she believed was right, and even when faced with a firm no, she did not waiver in her beliefs.  How refreshing.  When she was running thru that battlefield to save the town and the people under fire who were defending it....that was almost otherworldly!  I think my jaw was agape throughout that entire scene. The men were the ones waiting in the wings not wanting to initially push forward.  She led, they followed. Even when she was told by her American Pilot (soon to be love) Steve Trevor, "we can't save everyone," she believed she could, and she tried her damndest to make that happen.  And for little girls who are seeing this character on any type of screen for the first time...what an amazing role model to make them feel brave, confident, and fearless and believe anything is possible. So, as you can see, I loved it!  I mean, that came across, right? :).  As a whole I really loved the film.  Great acting, story, effects, character development, and Gal Gadot and Chris Pine had tremendous chemistry. Not to mention I loved the humor element throughout.  It was such a fun ride!

It truly was so exciting and inspiring watching this character take charge and do so without regret.  My fists were pumping and I was cheering her on the entire way....albeit quietly because I was in a movie theatre filled with people.  Ok, so I did make some audible gasps and oohhs and aahhs.  And yet, she still had that soft side to her that is also so relatable...as in the end she states..."It's about what you believe. And I believe in love."  - J. Solo