08 May, 2014

Hey Marvel, It's DC Calling (Part 2)

Okay, time to check your capes at the door again.

There's always continuing news in the Super Hero world, and I don't pretend I'm starting a trend that way, even though this is the second in this series.  But our friend Ben Affleck rears his head.  A few different ways.  (And, see, I’m allowed to say that, "our friend," because I had the pleasure of working with Mr. Affleck on ‘Gone Baby Gone.’  Ahem, moving on …) 
Affleck’s directorial follow-up to ‘Argo’ has hit a delay.  His new film, ‘Live By Night’ (also from Affleck’s own ‘Gone Baby Gone’ author Dennis Lehane;  and he also the author of cinema hits ‘Mystic River’ and ‘Shutter Island’), was going to hit theaters on Christmas Day, 2015, but will now be pushed almost a year to October, 2016.  Reason?  Well, there seem to be two, but the main one is that pesky little thing called ‘Batman Vs Superman’ (and GOD have I prayed they come up with a new title).
Affleck's involvement with both ‘Batman Vs Superman’ and its immediate follow-up ‘Justice League’ (the two films are said to be shooting back-to-back) was the reason The Brothers Warner greenlit ‘Live By Night’ at all.  (See, if you agree to make big-budget comic-book tentpoles, you get to trade them for really good stories!  Do I blame Mr. Affleck for that trade?  Not in the least.  He gets to tell another good story and probably do it really well.  But tit-for-tat is for another entry.  Moving on again ...)  Affleck had already pushed production on ‘Live By Night’ – a period drama – to accommodate ‘Bats’ and ‘Justice’ but now 'Bats'' own delay has required ‘Live By Night’ to delay again.  Is that okay?  I think so.  The Leonardo DiCaprio-produced movie is sure to be an awards contender -- as Affleck's previous films have been -- but the scope and involvement with ‘Bats’ – and, sure, ‘Justice’ right after – has to take precedence.  (Go Brothers Warner!)
But wait, we can’t just cite DC.  On top of the costume carnivals, Entertainment Guru ‘The Wrap’ cites Affleck's commitment to media and press for David Fincher’s ‘Gone Girl’ will also prevent Pre-Production on ‘Live By Night.’  By pushing the project – entirely – to 2016, Affleck at least gets to guarantee he can make the film he wants to.  (Again, with his track record, I say a very fair trade.)  But it does raise the question of his involvement in ‘Justice League.’  Is he officially in?  “Officially,” at press, “it’s not a done done deal.”  Yes, they really do say that.
Look, say what you will about the man’s career as a whole, but Mr. Affleck has without a doubt proven himself as a director, and I genuinely think – given a good script – he’ll make a good Bruce Wayne.  (‘Cause, remember sports fans, it’s all about the actor playing the “alter ego.”  Anyone can put on a costume.)  As long as The Powers That Be focus on the stories – ‘Batman Vs Superman,’ ‘Justice League,’ ‘Gone Girl’ and ‘Live By Night’ – I trust will all be worth their wait.  (Go homonym!) 
Continuing Super Hero news, I can’t help but mention what’s going on in ‘Daredevil’ land (granted, only a so-so segue from Ben Affleck, but you probably see it).  Mr. Joe Carnahan was once heavily invested in bringing a gritty, dark reboot to the screen;  he even personally created an impressive sizzle reel for it.  But, alas, those Twentieth Century Foxes passed on what would have been an R-rated project and the rights have since reverted to Disney/Marvel who are now developing the character as “a Netflix series.”  (Good?  Maybe, if they hold to “a gritty vision.”  There’s a hell of a version in Jeff Loeb’s and Tim Sale’s ‘Daredevil Yellow’ that is its own reboot of the classic Frank Miller take.  Either one of those?  We’re blindly in good hands.)  At press the top two names for running the series?  Drew Goddard and Steven S. DeKnight (and I like them both).    
Of course, more details emerge of Carnahan's vision.  The sizzle reel was great;  it definitely gave us a sense that his ‘Daredevil’ would have been something special and definitely unique.  (As good a director as Mr. Affleck is, the best thing that came out of his version was uniting with his lovely wife, Jennifer Garner.  Granted, he didn’t write-direct that movie, so I’m really taking a digression here, sooooo …)  With The Wonderful World Of Disney taking over Marvel, it’s almost a zero chance they’ll produce a movie that dark, but we can’t help but hope for it.  Ugh, what could have been?
In an interview with ‘Movie Pilot,’ Mr. Carnahan gave further details on what his ‘Daredevil’ trilogy – yep, you read that right – would have been.  Carnahan had three distinct themes in mind for his “Man Without Fear.”  He said, “I was going to do a kind of ‘cultural libretto’ and make the music of those eras a kind of thematic arc.  So the first one would be Classic Rock, the second Punk Rock, and the third film New Wave.”
… Interesting.
Though, setting the films in a Period – late 70s, early 80s (versus making the hero contemporary) -- would have fit with the feel of the character.  Taking the tonal cue from the music would also have been … interesting to see on the big screen.  It would have at least allowed for the various characters / costume changes / themes over the years;  roughly 1973, 1979 and 1985 that Carnahan was looking for.
While a Netflix series may be the better medium to share the story arcs that make ‘Daredevil’ great in the comics, I can’t help but feel Mr. Carnahan’s take would have been great in the theatre.  Hopefully Kevin Feige and Disney come to understand that some characters can’t be watered down to a PG Rating.  (Hell, it worked for Mr. Nolan's 'Batman.’)  As I’ve said many times, I like Mr. Feige, what he’s done for Marvel, and the fact that Disney hasn’t watered him down in their buyout.  So I have to continue to believe there’s still hope for all concerned.
What’s next? 
For now, we’ll live by night.

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