By: Jason Vaughn
Spring is quickly approaching and Hollywood is gearing up for a big season. Firstly, let me say that I am fully looking forward to the upcoming “Clash of the Titans” remake (although, I think no one is more excited than Stace is.) However, one of the reasons I’m such a fan of the original is the “old school” effects and claymation silliness which is a pleasant reminder of the more innocent days of my youth. I fear the seamless, polished, computer-generated effects won’t hold the same sway as the original’s stop motion Medusa or awkwardly flying Pegasus. With that said, has anyone other than me noticed the recent explosion of genre remakes at the local megaplex? Seriously, what is up with Hollywood? “Romancing the Stone,” “The Incredible Shrinking Man,” “When Worlds Collide,” “Fantastic Voyage,” “Conan,” “Short Circuit,” “Hellraiser,” “Logan’s Run,” “Child’s Play” “Flash Gordon,” “Barbarella,” “Red Sonja,” “Highlander,” and that’s just the start of the remake line-up that are either finished, just been announced, or rumored around town to be in one phase of development or another. And that’s not even mentioning the rest of the non-genre specific remakes like “Karate Kid,” “Arthur,” “Red Dawn,” “Footloose” and I can keep going. It’s almost as if these producers pick a random Netflix disk and say: ‘Hey, that was a good idea once. Let’s see if it’ll work again.’
And this is why the anticipation for movies like “Ironman 2” and “Thor” is so great. Finally, original movies based on time-honored properties! Dare we dream? Actually, the comic world-movie industry crossover trend isn’t anything new, but with the apparent wasteland of fresh ideas engulfing tinsel town, it’s no wonder the studios are now looking more and more to the world of comics for something other than another “Jackass”-ish remake of “The Dukes of Hazzard.” The comic industry has effectively become the triple-A of Hollywood.
Just like in minor league ball, when a player becomes something of a “superstar” on the diamond, they find themselves bumped up to the “big show” and suddenly hitting in the major leagues. Hi, Jeph Loeb, you’ve been drafted! Wanna write on the network show “Heroes?” Hey, Brian K. Vaughan, welcome to the big leagues, kid, here’s a staff writer position on “Lost.” Now the studios are not only looking at comic writers, but also at properties in the same light – a giant pool of fresh talent and ideas with huge followings that studio execs can mine at their disposal. A few examples: Grant Morrison’s “We3” in development with New Line Cinema; Brian Michael Bendis’ “Powers” with Sony; Geoff Johns’ “Naughty or Nice” over at Dimension Films; and Brian K. Vaughan’s “Ex-Machina” also in development with New Line Cinema. While once considered the minor leagues of entertainment, comic properties are now free agents taking their pick from the major league studios.
The reverse is also known to be true. If a player is having a hitting slump and just can’t seem to make contact with the ball anymore, he’s sent back down to the minors to relearn the fundamentals. Without calling any one person out by name, I’m sure we can all think of a few people whose Hollywood careers have taken a downward spiral so they turn to comics to either garner more exposure, or in some case, just to continue working on a steady gig. There’s also the savvy promoters who know the value of the comic readership and use the medium to further the exposure of a property, like the “Buffy” comics, for instance. So in that respect, I suppose it’s a mutually beneficial arrangement between the two worlds.
Now, I say all of this and watch “Clash of the Titans” make a gazillion dollars, but does the super success of one remake project make up for the years of remake torture in between? All I’m asking for is just a little more originality in the stories we end up paying $13 of our hard earned dollars on. I think we can all agree that no one likes to pay for a re-run (ok, fine, except maybe in the case of “Clash of the Titans” cause, who are we kidding, Stace and I will pay to see it. But I’m drawing the line at “Karate Kid!”) So, as a comics-enthusiast, I completely encourage filmmakers to continue to mine the treasure trove of ideas that is the graphic storytelling medium. Granted, the overall outcome of these comic and Hollywood collaboration projects are not all stellar by any means (the “Spawn” movie comes to mind, but I don’t think I need to elaborate on that one.) So, how many promising rookies make it to the big leagues just to be traded back down after a few months? At least with baseball, at the end of the game, you know who the winners and the losers are. But when Hollywood keeps pumping out the remake bombs that may or may not end up losing money (but you certainly wish you had yours back), it becomes increasingly difficult to find a victor in the situation.
(Anyone who mentions this column at Meltdown’s store on Sunset in West Hollywood, will receive 20% off on all “Buffy” and Vertigo back issues and TPB till closing time on Friday 3/12!!!)
Follow on twitter: Jason -@GoTodash