Wednesday, October 06, 2010

It's an alien! It's a spider! It's an agent!

So Superman and Spider-Man have both flown back into the headlines with news on their reboots. Superman has his director in Zack Snyder, Spider-Man has his girlfriend.

Superman's new director is Zack Snyder, the so-called "visionary" director of Watchmen, 300, and The Night of the Living Dead remake. Snyder is a very talented guy, and not many directors would veer from a zombie flick to an adrenalized Greek action epic to a comic book movie to an animated owl movie (Legend of the Guardians, now in theaters).  I'll say this for him, he's nothing if not ambitious. And he certainly knows his way around an action scene better than my favorite whipping boy, Michael Bay.

Still, with four big-budget action films under his belt, it concerns me that Snyder still seems underdeveloped as a storyteller. He's not really good at getting to the emotional core. Granted, Night of the Living Dead and 300 didn't suffer much for it, but Watchmen certainly did. And perhaps more than any superhero, you need a strong emotional core to make Superman fly. I'm not convinced Snyder is there, but this film will certainly be the ultimate test. I'm at least encouraged that Christopher Nolan is producing the project. I'll trust his judgment.

Then there's the  Spider-Man reboot. The fabulous Emma Stone, who proved with Easy A that she could carry a film with flair, will make a great Gwen Stacy (I guess because of her red hair, people assumed Mary Jane. Turned out not to be the case.)  Based on his very fine work  in The Social Network as the scorned creator of Facebook, I'm convinced Andrew Garfield has what it takes to play Peter Parker. The director, Marc Webb, made one of my favorite films from last year, 500 Days of Summer.

So why am I so iffy? I'm still not convinced of the whole reboot business. Spider-Man 3 was a mess, but it wasn't a Batman and Robin-level travesty that left the characters with nowhere to go.

My suggestion to both franchises? Forget the origin stories. Everyone knows them by now and telling them again will just slow things down. Suggestion two: Use villains that haven't been done yet. That means no more Luthor or Green Goblin. Superman can battle Braniac, maybe, and Spider-Man can go the James Bond route. Just as Judi Dench stayed as M, even when Bond himself changed, Spider-Man can keep Dylan Baker, who appeared in the previous films, and cast him as The Lizard. The solution is right under their noses. Let's just hope their Spidey senses are strong enough.

Somewhat lost in all this superhero business is the news that Jason Bourne is getting closer to coming up for air. The franchise seemed at a standstill when Paul Greengrass, who made 2 and 3, said he would not be back, and Matt Damon said he would not be back without Greengrass. However, it was announced that Tony Gilroy has almost signed on the dotted line to direct the fourth movie. Gilroy is a skilled director, having made the excellent Michael Clayton and the underrated Duplicity. And more to the point, he knows the series, having had a hand in writing all three films. And I'm willing to bet if Gilroy is on board, Damon will be too. And so will I.

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