Tag Archives: JLA
Marvel NOW! is the latest flashpoint for Marvel fans. Everything’s changing and it’s the perfect time to jump on (or off) of various books. Almost all of the main titles are getting new creative teams. And, as has been the time honoured tradition of new creative blood, the super hero teams are getting new rosters. This is always a very exciting time for fan boys and girls alike. Who will the new members be? Will my favorite be one of them? How many teams can Wolverine BE on?
The Avengers books have always been particularly good at exploiting these moments. The covers usually announce that THIS is the issue where the new team is picked. There’s usually a smattering of cards, or faces, and a big question like, “WHO WILL BE THE AVENGERS?”
The team usually stays fairly consistent for a few years. Sure, some people may come and go, but there’s usually a fairly stable core. For example, I only really started reading Avengers during Brian Michael Bendis’ run so, for me, the core team is Captain America, Iron Man, Wolverine, Spider-Man, Luke Cage, and eventually Thor. But, for more old school readers, it’s not the Avengers if it doesn’t have The Vision, Scarlet Witch, Wonder Man, Hawkeye and Beast.
At this point, it seems like the number of characters who have been Avengers is growing so large that every Marvel hero from Captain America to Squirrel Girl will have been an Avenger. I mean, I think the announced roster for Hickman’s run is a little big – 24 members! That’s more characters than pages in an average single issue. But, I trust in Mr. Hickman’s abilities. And, frankly, the Avengers should be a huge book where huge things happen.
Prior to my Avengers interest, the X-Men were my team of choice. When I was a kid, we would spend recesses arguing over which characters were cooler, and building our dream rosters. That’s the thing with the X-Men – I think if you took a group of 10 people and sat them down with a list of the all the mutants in the Marvel Universe to choose from and forced them to pick an X-Team with ten characters on it, you’d get ten completely different teams.
To give you an example, here are three teams put together in the last decade or so. Bendis will be taking over the main X-Men book shortly, and he’s taking the team back to the original five (Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Angel, Iceman, and Beast). When Joss Whedon did his run the team was made up of Wolverine, Beast, Cyclops, The White Queen, Armor, Colossus, and Shadowcat. Joe Casey’s Uncanny X-Men run consisted of Angel, Iceman, Wolverine, Nightcrawler, and Chamber.
(I think next week I’ll try to cobble together my ideal X-Men team.)
Anyway, Marvel doesn’t have a monopoly on this by any stretch of the imagination. The first time I had read any JLA stuff had been during the Death Of Superman when the team consisted of Ice, Fire, Blue Beetle, Booster Gold, Guy Gardiner, Bloodwynd, and Maxima. (Just to show how many times I’ve read that collection, I actually pulled that list straight from memory.) When Grant Morrison took over, the team reverted to the classic roster of Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, Martian Manhunter, Flash, Green Lantern, and Aquaman. And while that is an infinitely cooler team, I still look back kind of fondly on the days when the team was made up of second stringers.
As much as we’d like to think that the creative teams are the reason most people buy or stick with a book, I think the characters on the team play as big, if not a bigger, role. So, if any of you get the singular honor of writing one of these team books some day in the future, make sure you take great care in picking the roster. You could end up defining a generation’s idea of who that team is.
Graham Becksted is the only member of The Secret Graham Coast Avengers. He is also the author of Graham’s Grumbles the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 69th follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.
So, it happened. The Avengers was released in North America this week. And nothing will ever be the same again.
Actually, that’s probably not true. But, some people have made a whole bunch of money, and the rest of us just spent a lot to help this gargantuan picture topple some crazy box office records. The only thing that could come close to making as much money as this would have to be some sort of Hunger Games – Twilight hybrid where Katniss Everdeen is hunted by naked Edwards and Jacobs or something.
For the record, the movie was awesome. It had everything I could have wanted. A quippy Iron Man, a bad ass Captain America, an operatic Thor, and a pitch-perfect Hulk. No one character took centre stage, or got bogged down with character development. There was no distracting romance angle, or personal drama. Most of these characters have solo movies to worry about that stuff. This is the traditional crossover comic book epic that fanboys always buy up like crazy. And now, the general public understands why!
In comics, they’re so rote at this point that they have a pretty standard formula: Huge bad guy appears, some superhero gets his or her ass kicked, a bunch of other superheroes show up to help, there is a misunderstanding and the heroes fight, then they settle their differences and work together to beat the villain. And, despite how predictable it all is, they do a new one every year or so and it’s inevitably the best selling thing out there. Sure, they’ve become better at it recently. The formula has been tweaked with varying levels of success. For instance, Civil War pretty much started and stopped at the “misunderstanding” phase.
And don’t look to me to try and explain why it works so well. All I know is that when I was still going on road trips with my parents, I read Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars over and over again. It pit the biggest Marvel heroes and villains against each other for 12 issues. That’s pretty much the long and the short of it, but it’s riveting! Maybe it’s something to do with humanity’s fascination with the struggle between good and evil. Or, maybe it’s more to do with seeing characters who don’t normally interact with each other forced to fight or cooperate. Or, maybe it’s as simple as seeing the Hulk hold up a mountain so that it doesn’t crush Spider-Man and a bunch of Avengers trapped underneath.
After the adrenaline rush of the movie died down, I started to think that DC and Warner must be drooling at the prospect of a JLA movie. It’s mighty tempting. Can you imagine Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman all in one movie? Never mind the rest of the team just those three would be a feat. But, imagine the cartwheels they’d have to go through to concoct a threat that requires those three plus Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, Flash and Aquaman. And one that has to be introduced and defeated in 2 hours?
I hate to break it to you DC Fanboys, but I don’t think a giant, telepathic, alien starfish is going to resonate on screen quite as well as it does on the page.
On second thought, that sounds amazing!
Alternatively, they could go in the direction of the Justice League International and have a team of mostly b-listers. Booster Gold, Blue Beetle, Guy Gardner, Fire, Ice, and maybe G’Nort. They could team up and fight traffic violations, or something. That’s something that could be filmed in a weekend, and put in theatres by the end of the month and they could totally capitalize on the Avengers buzz!
I think that’s something even I could direct! Sorry, I have to call my agent.
Graham Becksted does not have an agent. He is the author of Graham’s Grumbles the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 64th follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.
PS: Stella’s Avengers Handsome Man Ranking
- Captain America
- Iron Man
- Black Widow
So, I think by now it’s well established that I’m something of a Marvel zombie. Knowing that, I’m sure it comes as no surprise that I’m pretty stoked for The Avengers (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_3uKtfELfE). This is a movie that couldn’t have existed ten years ago. And not just because it’s Marvel and they’ve had some troubles getting movies made. One big budget movie featuring multiple pre-established superheroes is something that hasn’t been done before. Sure, in the past there’s been the occasional TV movie that threw Daredevil and The Hulk together (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0098512/) or an aborted Justice League show (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0118365/). X-Men and Fantastic Four don’t count, ‘cause those characters were all created to be a team. But even something as seemingly simple as a Batman and Superman movie hasn’t been done. I mean, they tried to make that thing for years!
The problem doesn’t seem to be that studios aren’t willing to try it. The problem is that the logistics are nightmarish! First you have to think up a threat that needs Superman AND Batman. Then you have to find actors to play the heroes. Since this is bound to be a big budget spectacle, you need two big name guys. They’ll likely want to have an equal amount of importance and screen time, and since they’re such big names they’ll probably want some say over who plays the other guy. Warner Bros invested a lot of time and money into making a Superman Vs. Batman movie, but these problems kept derailing it. They had a director and two writers, but they just couldn’t get two actors to commit at the same time. If you watch I Am Legend you can even see a teaser poster for it!
When this was all going on, I did a radio show on my high school radio station (106.3 RAVFM – I don’t think it’s on the air anymore…) where I did entertainment news updates. So, I followed all of this stuff pretty closely and became pretty jaded about the whole thing. Well, as jaded as any high school radio dork can be. After the Supes and Bats stuff blew over, there started to be rumours of a Justice League movie. That got some brief casting buzz, but never really stood a chance. With the exception of Batman, it seems really hard to make a DC movie with just one of their heroes. Anything more, at least for the time being, seems impossible.
DC had always had one advantage over Marvel in the movie making business. They are owned by Warner Brothers. If they want to make a movie, they just have to go next door and say, “Hey, let’s make Batman a movie,” and then they start making it. For a long time Marvel was a lone wolf company – not really part of any major media conglomerate. They would sell the movie rights for their characters to studios and pray that they didn’t mess them up. Finally in the late 2000s, they scrabbled a bunch of money together and decided to make a movie of their own.
That movie was Iron Man. I’ve never been a huge fan of the character in comics. In fact, I don’t know anyone who really was. But, from the first picture of the cast in costume I knew it was going to be good. I was not disappointed. It blew my socks off and that was long before the end credits. I had heard that there was some special little easter egg after the credits, so I waited patiently. When Sam Jackson as Nick Fury appeared I smiled. When he said the words “Avengers Initiative,” the top of my head flew off and steam shot out of my ears. I lost the ability to speak English for three days. My jaw dropped so far that I needed a surgical procedure to correct it. All in all, I was a little excited.
Now that it’s finally becoming a reality, I’m just trying to contain myself. Keep my expectations reasonable. But, this is something truly unprecedented. No expense has been spared. There’s a first rate (at least in the geek world) writer-director, Mr. Joss Whedon. The actors are the same ones from the heroes’ solo movies. (Except for the Hulk, where they can’t seem to find an actor who is willing to stick around for more than one movie – Eric Bana, Ed Norton, and now Mark Ruffalo.) And the continuity all ties in with the other movies.
My point with this column was simple. The Avengers movie has been getting a lot of buzz, but for non-comic fans it’s easy to lose sight of why. Whether the movie turns out to be good or bad, I think it should still be applauded for how ambitious it is. And even if you’re not a Marvel fan, if this is successful it just might pave the way for a JLA movie. We might finally get to see Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman fighting a giant starfish in 3D!