A TEXT POST

5 Tips for Indiana Jones 5 and Beyond!

I just read a rumor about Indiana Jones 5 being still planned as long as Harrison Ford can hurry up and make it. Otherwise, it will be “rebooted” sort of in a James Bond-like way where another actor steps in and takes over. This is not an altogether AWFUL idea, but I think its not a great one either.

Here are my 5 rules for continuing on with Indiana Jones.

1. Master the Swagger - Harrison Ford made this character so popular because he made us care about him and all his flaws. The way he laughed, the way he realized things, the way he talked to women! It was perfection on the screen from the very first time that Paramount logo appeared. Indiana Jones isn’t just about the way he talks, its the way he looks, the way he thinks, the way he gets mad. ALL of that is swagger! Just because an actor (including Harrison Ford himself) can make a hero pose doesn’t mean he’s mastered the swagger.

2. Embrase the Pulp - Face it, like Star Wars, George Lucas borrowed from lots of movies and stories to make the character Indiana Jones and Harrison Ford took it to the next level with amazing performances! Because of those other movies and styles, Indiana Jones has a pulp quality to it. Think about every time Indy punches someone. How loud is that?! Indiana Jones is full of pulp stereotypes about people and it follows a loose formula at the same time.

     Missing artifact — Indy to the Rescue — Damsel in Distress

Obviously they’ve played with this formula from movie to movie but the core of this pulp is the same. Stick with that, it won’t let you down.

3. Shoot Small - Raiders, Temple of Doom and Last Crusade were shot before the digital revolution in cinema. Kingdom of the Crystal Skull lost a lot of familiarity just because it didn’t LOOK the same as the other three movies. Too many complicated shots, too many large scale shots, etc. Keep it simple and closed in. Build sets. Don’t use CG for anything you don’t absolutely have to!

4. Shoot Film - Similar to #3, all of the original films were shot on film and it made a difference. Think about JJ Abrams’s Super 8. A love story to Steven Spielberg, if I ever saw one. But it looks great! Looks like it could’ve been a lost film from the late 80’s at Amblin! If you want Indiana Jones to be Indiana Jones, even if its not Harrison Ford playing him, its gotta LOOK like the rest of the shared universe. 

5. SALLAH! - If you want to make Harrison Ford feel like he’s Indiana Jones again, you need Marcus Brody and Sallah. Since Denholm Elliot (the actor who played Brody) passed away in 1992, we’re just going to have to deal with Sallah. And you know what, that’d be just fine. Sallah is a great character with a rich relationship to Indy. And let’s face it, he can never have too many camels, I’m sure Dr. Jones is needed to help him procure some!

If Spielberg is back to direct again or if this gets shipped off by Disney to another filmmaker in waiting, these 5 to-do’s could restore our faith in the franchise with Harrison Ford. The list could also set the groundwork for a really compelling new franchise with another actor. Personally, I hope they would cast a younger guy like Chris Pine and just tell stories of Indiana Jones between his “Young Indiana Jones Chronicles” days and the time we meet him in Raiders of the Lost Ark. There are enough years in there to see some amazing adventures and not have to reboot the whole franchise. If someone tries to remake the original Indiana Jones trilogy, I think the geek-o-sphere would launch into rage-orbit. 

A TEXT POST

Catching Up on Graphic Novels Before They Become TV Shows

A popular trend in television and film over the past couple decades have been to mine the rich wealth of stories from graphic novels and comics and convert them to tv or film. This has usually not gone over as well as people would hope, with the exception of source material like “The Walking Dead” or most of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy which was influenced heavily by Frank Miller’s work as well as others.

Typically, taking those comics/graphic novels and making them into tv shows and movies has not had the desired effect. Of course, The Walking Dead came out and continues to melt ratings meters so everyone wants a piece of that graphic novel action. It doesn’t hurt that AMC have fronted TWD for 4 seasons now as well as cult shows like Breaking Bad, Mad Men and The Killing. Although not based on comics, those shows are dark and compelling for similar reasons to comics.

For a long time, I’ve heard that several comics/graphic novels were going to be adapted for film/tv so I thought I’d catch up on all these series (some for the first time, others as a repeat) and figure out how good they could be on screen. 

The selections I will review are as follows:

The Dark Tower

Y: The Last Man

Preacher

Sandman

Hellblazer

Swamp Thing (possibly, we’ll see…)

I want to catch up on these stories and then be able to share my conclusions with everyone else as to the merits or the problems with adapting these series to film/tv.

I’m starting with The Dark Tower, stay tuned Stephen King fans!

A TEXT POST

How DC Could Finally Trump Marvel on Film

It’s been a little while since I had a good old fashioned, by the book, giddy-up exciting geek speak nerd chat. I’d say on any given day, I participate in geek speak. Just relaying news and rumors from around the web-o-sphere that relates to comic books, movies, games and anything in between. Sometimes it just devolves into pop culture trivium like quoting movies. Other days, it takes the high road and postulates on the future of franchises and the hands that control their fate. Today, my nerd chat with one of my best good friends, David Wilkinson, took that high road. And it nearly blew both of our minds.

We were just discussing the special features of the recently released Man of Steel when the conversation titled to the future of the Superman mythos along with the future of DC hero titles at Warner Bros. The talk alternated between rumors about the Batman/Superman film being filmed/produced right now to who we’d like to see cameo or flat out appear in that film. Then we began theorizing about that cinematic universe and how different it was from the previous film universes and the comics in general. We came to an agreement that Zach Snyder, Chris Nolan, David Goyer and the Warners people aren’t interested in telling small stories about our heroes and instead are interested in telling a bigger story that encapsulates these heroes and (hopefully) will weave them together into a beautiful tapestry of magnificence. 

The idea was mentioned how the Man of Steel ends with Clark joining the Daily Planet team and how unlikely it would be for a “real world” to not figure out who he is quicker than it took Lois to track him down in the film. With social media, camera phones and the ability to compare and contrast with ease, it would only take one photo of Superman standing still compared with one photo of Clark Kent standing still to see that they are indeed the same person. Unless there’s a clever way to hide one of their identities, the whole “change clothes and add glasses” routine just isn’t enough to fool a very savvy and persistently nosey public. 

It was at this point that our idea shifted from the thought of the next Superman film being about his relationship with Lois or his employment at the Planet or his need for secrecy and became the idea, “What if Superman didn’t care who knew who he was?” Lois already knows, so we won’t have the Christopher Reeve days of Lois/Clark/Supes walking and talking over each other in a thinly veiled attempt to keep the ruse going. Instead, we know that Lois and apparently most of Clark’s childhood friends and their families know that he is special. Now, thanks to the very public battle with Zod, all of those people can confirm that he is in fact an alien and they were right that he was “different.” We won’t have Lois dating Clark, we’ll have her dating Superman. Its not going to take 2 seconds for a digital age Perry White to look at Superman close up (which he did not seem to get a good close view in Man of Steel) and realize that he just hired him at the Daily Planet. With instantaneous uploading, satellite video footage and all kinds of other instant media, Clark Kent won’t be able to disappear at the onset of danger, fight the villain, then come back at the end to “report” on everything he saw and write the report and get it into the Sunday edition of the Planet. Perry White is going to be calling him on his cell phone wondering why he hasn’t updated twitter in the last 30 seconds and why he’s not blogging about Lex Luthor’s latest caper or Brainiac’s appearance or Darkseid’s coup of Metropolis. And no, Superman can’t tweet while duking it out with his rogue’s gallery. He’s good but he can’t beat social media.

We kept discussing this at length and decided that Warners and the powers that be must not be interested in telling the love story of Lois and Clark or the identity secret of Smallville. Instead, they want to tell you the definitive story of how heroes came to be on Earth and where their adventures took them from that point onward. Ben Affleck being cast as Batman continues to confirm this thought process. Ben is in his early 40’s, apparently the same age they want Batman to play in the next film. He’s not the young upstart crime-fighter that gets to relive his parent’s death in a flashback or create his nemesis in a chemical bath or discover a league of vicious ninjas in the mountains of Asia or assemble his crack entourage of misfit orphans that all get to borrow his tech and resources to wage their own war on the streets of Gotham.

According to the rumor mills, if you believe that kinda stuff, Batman already has all that. He might have Nightwing and Batgirl. That stands to reason that he might already have Robin, and is that his second or third Robin? Maybe his fourth. What about Batwoman, Huntress, Oracle (pre-Joker or post-Joker?), Red Hood and several other potential entourage members? See, a 40-year old Batman will have already fought the Joker, possibly multiple times. He’s already encountered Two-Face, the Penguin and the Riddler. He’s saved Gotham multiple times and he’s sacrificed a lot in the process. Batman at that age is more stable, he’s more jaded, and he’s a lot less trusting of anyone outside his circle. Warner Bros aren’t interested in his early stories, they’re interested in the big story of NOW. 

We got into heavy geek territory at that point and our ideations came quicker and looser. Snyder and Co. did a great service to the overall DC franchise by not calling the first Superman movie anything relating to the word Superman. They called it Man of Steel, playing off the mythos but also alluding to an attribute of a character. Not dedicating the film to a character in particular, although Man of Steel was 100% about Superman. It was also the origin of the modern day hero. Imagine this, perhaps DC/Warners names the next film, we’re referring to it now as Batman/Superman or Batman vs Superman or whatever, something along the lines of World’s Finest or another interesting, existing name that bridges the mythos of Superman and Batman together. Inside that movie, suppose Nightwing, Robin and Batgirl (maybe even more) all show up to confront Superman with Batman. Or suppose the two of them team up to figure out what weird occurrences are happening out in the Atlantic Ocean. Or stop Lex Luthor’s diabolical plan to rule the world.

As a side note, in this “real world” reality they’re living in, Lex’s stereotypical trust issues concerning Superman’s motives and intentions on Earth aren’t as crazy as they always seem in the movies. If you had just witnessed to human-like aliens fly around and level one of the biggest cities in America, you’d probably a bit weary of just throwing your full support toward the guy with no questions asked. I’m just throwing that out there.

If DC plays this idea out to its conclusion, you could continue to name films based on events or mythos and not centric to the character names like Marvel has been doing for the last 5 years. Don’t get me wrong, I love Marvel and will speak on them in a minute. But this DC universe could be onto something special. A movie about the Amazon/Atlantean War featuring Wonder Woman and Aquaman simply titled Themyscira. Or a Green Lantern reboot featuring The Flash called Brightest Day or Speed Force or something equally clever. Introducing characters that way, thrown into the mix, could be the secret ingredient to launching a massive DC cinematic universe that, dare I say it, could trump the Marvel cinematic U with ease.

Think about the great franchises of our day. Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter: these franchises built rich and LUSH back histories for the universe within one movie. Star Wars used a title crawl then mentioned numerous times the other events shaping the story like Clone Wars and Jedi Knights. Pop culture exploded. The masses were hooked. Lord of the Rings from Peter Jackson did the same thing. He took Tolkein’s rich back story, weaved it around central story and characters but you left the first film wanting to know MORE. Because it was mentioned but never fleshed out, our brains filled in the gaps and our imaginations can always make stories more engaging than film or even the written word. The hybrid narrative works best, where we’re guided by word or sight to the main points of the story but we let our brains fill in the gaps and then watch the stars explode in our minds as our brains melt out of our ears. Harry Potter achieved this with excellence in the books and to a lesser, but effective, degree in the films. They leave you with questions only your curiosity can satisfy. Are you curious enough to research it, read the additional material, seek out the source? Or are you content to just know there’s more to it and trust your brain’s version above anyone else? Did anyone see Jaws? Yeah, Spielberg mastered that too.

The DC cinematic universe is a shining example of what COULD be. Not detracting from Marvel’s fantastic run so far with their heroes and stories, but DC could do it different. And better. These characters are film icons now, not just comic heroes. Comics, as much as I love them, belong on book shelves because their name denotes their location: books. On the spine is a book about Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and The Avengers. And everyone of Marvel’s films to date have centered around a hero or a team of heroes. I envision those great films one day side by side on my bluray shelf proudly displaying their Phase One, Phase Two and Phase Three spine names just like my trade paperback collected stories of those characters do on my comic shelf. But this DC universe could take on a different place. Superman began the revolution and opened our eyes to the world of heroes. If every film from here on out is taking us on the path to the Justice League with a culminating film simply called JUSTICE or something of the like, how glorious would the ride be to just watch these characters interact in the build up then team up to fight the biggest villains that ever were? Man of Steel, World’s Finest, Themyscira, The Atlantean War, Brightest Day, Speed Force. I’m just brainstorming what some of these films could be called but at the end of the day, they would be CINEMATIC versions of our characters and not comic versions translated to the big screen. They’ve already taken their liberty with Clark and Lois and Superman and seem to be taking us there with Batman. If they keep this up, they could have a game changer on their hands and I’d be one happy nerd in waiting.

A TEXT POST

4 Rules for JJ Abrams

Someone (Fultron) just sent me a link to a really well made video about four rules JJ Abrams should follow when making a new Star Wars trilogy. When I first watched the trailer, I thought it looked nice and was a well crafted fan letter that was “totally true.” But the more I thought about it, the more I thought, “If I could bend JJ’s ear with four things he should consider from me, the quintessential fan, what would they be?” Well, a few days later, a twitter convo between Fultron and several others ensued and I had that chance to say what I’d tell him. So I thought I’d post it here in long form with a bit more explanation.

1. Show me something WONDROUS! Do you remember when you first saw that white wedge Star Destroyer come across the screen? Or the cantina scene with all those crazy aliens and arm-less villains?! I remember the ice creature from Empire Strikes Back so vividly since it was the first of the series I saw when I was 9 years old. He just ROARS and then slaps Luke in the face with a clawed hand/paw! It was CRAZY! I remember the first time seeing Admiral Ackbar talk! He’s a fish! Show me something like that. The gungans from Episode 1 didn’t give me that feeling. The podrace was in the right direction. Darth Maul CERTAINLY gave me that feeling, especially when he unveils a DOUBLE BLADED LIGHTSABER! Holy smokes, stop the presses. THAT was some wondrous stuff.

2. Raise the stakes! At the beginning of Star Wars, you get a sense of dread and danger right off the bat. C3PO’s continuous stream of fear over the ship’s damage, the boarding party that blows a hole in the ship to get in, the blaster fight right there in the corridor! Then, as if the first 3 minutes weren’t intense enough, Darth Vader strolls into the film and pop culture has never been the same. He immediately starts choking people, breaking necks, yelling at EVERYONE and whirling that majestic cape every which way he can! We haven’t even got to Tattooine yet! Once we’re there, Luke is attacked by Tusken Raiders, Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen are introduced and killed off, Bounty Hunters and Imperial spies are literally seconds away from capturing our newly introduced heroes! Man, the first 45 minutes of Star Wars has relentless pacing and it draws you in from the first frame. While its fun and exciting, there’s a real sense of danger for our characters. Like anything can happen to them at any given time! Obi Wan’s death seals that feeling too and gives us some real emotional weight that carries through the rest of the trilogy.

3. Relate the villain back to the main story. Star Wars is about Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader’s road to redemption. Or so we’ve been told for decades. However, it’s much easier to see that story played out over six movies than 3 and I believe it could be even BETTER played out over 9 movies than 6. Anakin Skywalker is born, fights the good fight for a while, succumbs to fear and anger, joins the dark side and becomes DARTH VADER. Vader pursues rebels on behalf of the Emperor, discovers he has a son named Luke, pursues him across the galaxy at all costs. Remembering how much he gave up for his “power” (Padme, NoooOOOooOOOooo) and upon seeing his son’s agony from the Emperor’s torture, he changes his heart and redeems himself by sacrificing his own life for his son’s to go on. His legacy lives on in Luke, end Episode 6. Now that Episode 7-9 are being planned, what better way to speak to his redemption than to see how the Jedi order have faired since Anakin dismantled them back in Episode 3 and the off screen time before Episode 4. The prequels show us how broken the Jedi are, how set in their ways and beauracratic they’ve become. Now that Vader has wiped them out and Luke has come back on the scene to begin rebuilding, Anakin’s legacy comes full circle as the Jedi Order gets a chance to start new and be better than it has been for the past 10,000 years. Carry on that story with a new villain that has some sort of connection to Han, Luke and Leia. Its no longer ONLY a Skywalker story, after all. Its got some of that Solo bloodline in there too, if Episode 6 was any indication anyway.

4. Don’t explain everything, let us use our imaginations! One of the best things about the original trilogy is how many references are made to stuff that never got ANY screen time. The Kessel Run, what the heck is that? Captain Antilles? Dantooine? A religion of Force users? Bounty hunter on Ord Mantell? Bulk cruisers, Corellian ships? Alderaan? I mean, come on, all of those references BUT the Ord Mantell one is from Star Wars. Ord Mantell is from Empire Strikes Back, and those are ones I thought of off the top of my head. I’m sure a focused viewing or reading of the script would reveal so many more things that were talked about but were never shown on camera. Sure, at various points in the saga, some of those things have been mentioned again or explained but that’s the beauty of audience imagination. We’re able to escape to this make believe universe and immediately accept unimaginable things as truth because the presentation seems so matter of fact. It doesn’t get mired in the fact that the universe is huge and we’re only seeing a portion of the story play out while the rest of the story has been playing for thousands of years. It doesn’t get so stuck on the critical plot points that you ever truly get away from how fantastical the universe is and around every corner there’s just SOMETHING else you want to know about and until you know, you’ll just imagine what it must be. That’s the magic of Star Wars and why its been around for so long. Its mysterious, fun, deep and adventurous. Unless you’re a real life Indiana Jones, you probably don’t get enough of any of those things in your life so the movie is able to tap into a nerve deep inside the human psyche that fills that void and makes us keep coming back for more.

So there they are, my top 4 “rules” that I’d give to JJ Abrams if he ever asked for them. They’re not as slick and polished as some people’s rules but they do the job. I’d love to read your 4 rules. Send em on over!

A TEXT POST

Stories!

I’m a storyteller. I love seeing the look on people’s faces as they get the punchline. I love watching them when their heart is breaking. I don’t get happiness in their sadness, that’s wrong! But I enjoy the process of leading someone from point A to point B and seeing all the emotional response along the way.

I’ve been searching for years to find the right way to tell a story. Well, let me back up, I’ve been searching for years before that for the right story to tell. I appreciate non-fiction writers, biographers, historians, etc. But I am a sucker for good sci-fi and fantasy stories. Old stuff, new stuff, its all good. My favorite type though is anything robust that attempts to build a world where multiple stories can happen over a long period of time. I think that’s why I’ve always enjoyed the Star Wars Expanded Universe. Its huge, sweeping and covers 25,000 years of lore. I’ve read some of the Drizzit books, some Warcraft books, Tolkien’s Middle Earth, Narnia, etc etc. I love to read but I don’t read very quickly so I find myself looking for movies and television to fill this gap that I yearn for.

With this background, and consuming more stories constantly in book, film or television format, I have been trying to come up with my own story to tell. Something grand and sweeping with lots of potential for further adventures. I’m not interested in political satire of the day. I am not necessarily trying to say something deeper than the surface of my story presents. If it accomplishes that, I’m not going to stop it, but my motives for creating a compelling story are simply to provide a similar escape and level of entertainment that has been provided to me over the years except that I want it to be ORIGINAL.

I’ve read Harry Potter, Ender’s Game, Hunger Games and others. Great stories but I’m not interested in ripping them off. I’ve seen Avatar, Aliens, Star Trek and Star Wars but I don’t want my saga to feel like any of theirs. All kinds of genres, all kinds of tales to be told but I want something original.

That’s hard in this culture where everything is a rehash of something else. I appreciate George Lucas’ vision for Star Wars because he created something original, even if he copied some of the best individual elements from other stories to do so. It still felt like a fresh take on a space opera.

So, I continue to write. I continue to jot down notes. I make sketches and drawings. I write fictional backstories and historical annexes. I try to get my head around star maps and distances as well as technologies and vehicles. I invent characters, create intricate stories about their life and even key plot points that could be used in the story later on .

All in all, I’m just compiling all my thoughts, ideas and creativity. One day, very soon, I’ll pull the trigger and actually write something for either book, film or mini-series. Maybe even a comic book, who knows? 

To be the creator of something instead of the consumer of other people’s somethings… Now that’s a story worth sharing!

A TEXT POST

My Star Wars Ep. 7 Conundrum

As we get further and further into this year, I can’t help but entertain my stray thoughts about Episode 7 and the story/characters that the film might contain. Here’s what we know:

Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher are all rumored to be involved again. This means Han, Luke & Leia will definitely be a part of the picture. That implies that R2-D2, C-3PO and Chewbacca will most certainly be a part as well. Reason would tell us that if they’re all a part of this, Lando Calrissian (aka Billy Dee Williams) will probably be approached as well, since he was pivotal to the second Death Star’s destruction in Return of the Jedi. 

We also know (or are relatively safe to assume) that these characters will not be “made up” to appear younger so they will be acting their age in this new trilogy. Therefore, Harrison Ford’s Han Solo should be in his mid-60’s with Luke and Leia coming into play in their late 50’s at least. This makes them grandparents. And really reduces the physicality they could/would have in a normal situation. I mean, my grandparents haven’t been spry enough to save the galaxy for a good long while.. 

Since their age will probably factor into the story of this trilogy, it would be safe to assume that this story will focus on “ending” their story as it is and possibly passing the torch to the next generation: ie, their children who would be approximately 20-30 years old depending on which child you’re talking about. 

Okay, so hold up, we are not expanding the roster and passing the torch. Since we can’t have a good old fashioned shoot out with all the pizazz of vintage 1980’s Harrison Ford or an amazing lightsaber duel with a slim and trim Luke Skywalker (or can we? more on that later), we have to assume the cast will expand to feature people CAPABLE of all these action chops and my money falls on the children of these heroes because lets face it, the franchise survives with them and goes on to make more movies after this trilogy comes and goes. So the question is, who would the cast be? Who SHOULD be in this Star Wars saga? Who is worthy of it? 

Before I go any further, let me remind you, if you didn’t already know, that I am an avid reader of the Expanded Universe of Star Wars books. I have a deep respect for the authors as well as the creative team at Lucasfilm that has shepherded the story of these beloved characters since the early 90’s (and kinda before that). The authors, notably Timothy Zahn, have kept interest in this franchise alive when by all accounts, it should have been dead. After the last original film in 1983, the last toy line in the mid-80’s and the last big merchandising push of the late 80’s, Star Wars had hit its wall and was slipping into obscurity. Tim Zahn’s trilogy hit the New York Times Bestseller list and people started getting into Star Wars OFFICIAL fiction. Not fanfiction here people, legitimately recognized stories were being written and approved by George Lucas himself. Soon after, comic books like Dark Empire and Tales of the Old Republic came and gave a fresh visual style to that galaxy far, far away, and a renewed vigor sparked for Star Wars. The Zahn trilogy started in 1991. By 1995, Kenner/Hasbro had released a new line of action figures. In 1997, Lucas re-released the trilogy as a “Special Edition” with exclusive new scenes. 1999 brought us the first installment of the saga with Episode 1 and beyond that, I think Star Wars’ story should be known by most up to this point.

To me, those stories matter. They are the lifeblood that got Star Wars BACK into the limelight. To me, they sparked a renewed interest that probably helped convince Lucas to revisit that galaxy with the the Special Editions and then ultimately with the prequel trilogy. Regardless of your thoughts on that trilogy or the special editions, Star Wars owes a lot to the authors of those books and comics who came and gave us fresh stories about our favorite characters.

The Expanded Universe has explored a LOT of stories in its continuity. It brought us Boba Fett, back from the presumed dead in the gaping maw of the Sarlacc. We saw Han and Leia get married and have children, three to be exact! The fledgling Rebellion turned into a fledgling New Republic and faced warlords and long forgotten generals, admirals and more from the remains of the broken Empire. We saw a tactical genius named Grand Admiral Thrawn come into play and nearly take over the galaxy again in the name of the Empire. We saw Mara Jade, Tallon Karrde, Garm Bel Iblis, Booster Terrik, Corran Horn, Kyp Durran and SO many more come into play as great supporting characters for our main ensemble. We saw Luke struggle to rebuild the Jedi Order from the ashes of Order 66. We saw Leia preside over the New Republic as its president after Mon Mothma. And eventually, we saw Luke marry the woman of his life, Mara Jade and have a child named, aptly, Ben. Then the galaxy got crazy. After years of fun and slightly redundant fiction, we switched gears from old Imperials coming out of no where to threaten our heroes and we saw an extra-galactic race of brutal warriors come into our beloved characters’ galaxy and proceed to take it by storm. This alien race called the Yuuzhan Vong nearly decimated the New Republic and definitely decimated our heroes and their families. We witnessed the fall of the mighty Chewbacca after he saved Han and his son as well as the Millennium Falcon full of refugees. I personally had a hard time with that one. Chewbacca had been a childhood favorite of mine, like most kids, and to read about his heroism even in death as he defiantly roared and raised his arms at the moon that was about to collide with the planet he was being stranded on made me very sad and then for several books, we followed Han’s decent into sadness as he mourned the loss of his friend. We witnessed Han and Leia’s youngest son, Anakin, grow from a young boy to a fan-favorite young man and then see him too give his life in one of the most heroic moments I’ve ever read as he saved his friends and eliminated a terrible threat at the same time. We saw Luke take charge of the Jedi and lead them to victory against the Vong, saving his galaxy one more time.

On and on the story goes. Han and Leia’s son Jacen, a twin to his sister Jaina, fell to the dark side and became a Sith Lord. All in an attempt to better protect the galaxy he had sworn to defend. We watched as Jaina developed a love interest with Jag Fel, a past Imperial turned ally and supporter of the new Galactic Alliance (renamed from New Republic after the Yuuzhan Vong war). And we most recently have seen the return of the Sith en masse to the galaxy as a group called The Lost Tribe re-emerged after 5000 years of being stranded on a planet with no means to escape into space. This brought a new maturity to Ben Skywalker as he grows into a man in the years after his mother died at the hands of his cousin, Jacen Solo, also known as Darth Caedus. 

This is the Star Wars that I love. These are the stories that I have read with great interest for the past 20+ years. These tales have introduced us to new worlds and characters that we could only imagine in our wildest dreams, all the while furthering the amazing legacy of our original heroes spawned from the imagination of George Lucas.

You might be wondering, what’s the point of all this? Are you worried about JJ Abrams going away from this story and making his own version that doesn’t take any of this into account? Yes. Yes I am. 

I know people will be appalled if Chewbacca doesn’t appear in the films. I know they’ll be confused if only one of Han & Leia’s children are featured and they will want to know what happened to Luke’s wife to make him a single dad in this galaxy. I know they won’t understand it at face value but I still want those stories respected! We don’t need to feature the entire old cast to further the story of this new trilogy. In fact, if we kept ALL the main characters from the original trilogy AND tried to introduce a whole new cast of key players, there would be a massive bloating of talent and none of them would get the screen time they deserved, it would be a mess! So trim the fat, in my opinion. Keep the core 3, plus the droids. Write out Lando’s involvement. Explain Luke’s wife and Han/Leia’s dead children in the opening scrawl and some initial dialogue during the first film. Focus on Jaina, Ben and Jag and all the other characters that make the books so great right now. Feature Luke as the Obi Wan of his time but much more BA on the scale of Yoda from Episode 2 and 3. Show Han is a grizzled old fart who can still shoot first, even if he’s got a bad back. Let Leia let her hair down and finally kick some butt like she does in the book as a fully fledged Jedi Knight! 

There are so many options for the story to continue and to write Han, Luke and Leia out of the story completely when its over. But I just want all the stories that have been told to be respected and to make sense in the broader community of Star Wars. Don’t just respect the films and their contribution, respect the books, comics, video games, and everything else that have been the life blood of this franchise for all the years when we didn’t have new movies to look forward to.

A TEXT POST

Superman vs. Batman vs. Justice League vs. the FUTURE

A couple days ago, Latino-Review’s El Mayimbe broke a HUGE scoop with near earth shattering potential for the DC Comics Universe (DCU) if it turns out to be true. He says that Christopher Nolan, director and mastermind behind the most recent incarnation of Batman (Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises) as well as the godfather to this summer’s new Superman film, The Man of Steel, has now been appointed as head of the DCU and basically the godfather to all up and coming DC superhero films. This appointment would be similar to the positions of Joss Whedon for Marvel and Mark Millar for Fox. 

Why is this earth shattering, you might ask? Well, first of all, Nolan has every fanboy on earth in the palm of his hand thanks to The Dark Knight. His version of Batman, Gotham and especially of the Joker will be regarded as the bar for which excellence in the genre is gauged, in addition to how everyone perceives Batman and the Joker for the rest of our lives. It was that good. Whether you liked The Dark Knight Rises or not, I personally have my issues with it, you are still excited at the possibility of a DC universe with Chris Nolan’s expert hands at the wheel. 

The other reason this is a very big announcement is because it means Nolan might possibly be bringing Christian Bale into the fray as Batman. Now, I wasn’t a huge fan of the way The Dark Knight Rises played out. I thought it was a big, sweeping film and definitely entertaining but it veered away from some of Batman/Bruce Wayne’s core characteristics. That doesn’t change my absolute love of The Dark Knight or the way Nolan handled Bane and Catwoman from The Dark Knight Rises. On the contrary, those things make me excited to see how Bale and Nolan would handle Batman meeting Superman and eventually the rest of the Justice League on the silver screen. 

The comics have handled this in the past with extreme caution and have had great success. There’s no reason the gritty, realistic setting of Nolan’s Gotham couldn’t co-exist with the amazing and sometimes other-worldly settings of the rest of the League. Iron Man came out in 2008 and no one would’ve expected the visage of Asgard or the Chitauri from the Avengers in that movie, as grounded in technology as it was. But, 4 years later, we had seen just that! And it was a perfect blending of those two worlds.

This news is exciting and fun but it does come with its fair share of challenges. First and foremost, it all but rules out the possibility for Batman to have another series of stand alone films. Nolan did a complete job of finishing his epic run with Batman, to the point of giving away Wayne Manor, writing Bruce out of the public eye (permanently) and setting up a replacement with Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character. It would completely undo that ending if Bruce were to come back. I hate that. Bruce belongs in Gotham. With Alfred. Fighting crime and taking back his city day-by-day. It would also be hard because Bale is an A-list, in-demand actor. He wouldn’t be available for lots of sequels and spin offs, not to mention his payment would be considerable and would take up a significant portion of the film’s budget. This makes the franchise unsustainable in the long term. Yes, it thrills us today but it leaves us looking at a replacement Batman/Bruce in the future. Or they could just write his character out of the story completely to replace him with a “Nightwing”-esque substitute in the form of JGL or someone else. This would not help the franchise at all and would probably hurt it dramatically. Having one A-lister on the Justice League roster wouldn’t END the franchise or anything but it does make it harder for longevity in series as well as unbalances the rest of the team since they all will surely be up-and-coming and not super well known. I know what you’re thinking, how do you explain Robert Downy Jr and Samuel L. Jackson from the Marvel Universe? Well, so far, Sam Jackson has had bit roles and most of his career has been made by making cameos and short appearances in films, not by being a “leading man” and demanding multiple millions of dollars for his work. As for RDJ, he’s a bit of an exception. He had already achieved fame and fortune before Iron Man and he’d thrown it away. Many years passed as he rebuilt his image and was able to get back in the saddle as a serious actor. When he took on the role of Iron Man/Tony Stark, he wasn’t considered an A-lister anymore. He was rebounding from serious drug-related life issues. Christian Bale, while eccentric and having anger issues, is still a very sought after actor for Academy-award winning films. RDJ has found his way back to that spot now, but Marvel have already lasso’d him into multi-picture deals as well as entrenched him as an integral part of that universe. They’ll pay him whatever he asks for because he’s worth it. Christian Bale would be worth it as well, but only if each picture he’s in brings in over $1 billion like The Avengers.

Superman flies this summer, bringing with it Zach Snyder’s vision mingled with Chris Nolan’s handling. If it does as well as everyone is predicting, Warner Brothers will probably stop at nothing to get Henry Cavill (Superman/Clark Kent) and Bale together as the leading men of Justice League. Together with Wonder Woman, The Flash and Green Lantern (guessing here), they could truly be the dynamo that brings in more money in 2015 than the sequel to The Avengers. I for one welcome the competition and cannot wait for the Nerdpocalypse that is two summers from now. Oh and did I mention that the rumor also included the possibility of Zach Snyder directing the Justice League film? I guess we’ll reserve judgement for that rumor till after we see The Man of Steel this summer. Until then, keep dreamin folks.. it might just come true.

A TEXT POST

My Top Story Ideas for Episode VII

Obiviously, this is a hot topic but I thought I’d throw my ideas in the hat based on books/comics that I’ve read over the years.

1. Admiral Thrawn Series - written by Timothy Zahn and heralded in Star Wars circles as well as literary circles as a great, well written, entertaining trilogy. All three are New York Times Bestsellers after all. This story follows an obscure Admiral from the Emperor’s “Unknown Regions” of space as he comes back 5 years after the Emperor’s death and seeks to regain all the lost ground the fledgling Empire has lost to the Rebel Alliance (now renamed the New Republic). Seriously, one of the BEST stories out there and a perfect re-introduction to the characters and universe, post-Return of the Jedi.

2. The Dark Empire Series - written by Kevin J. Anderson and found in comic book format, this story follows the “reborn” Emperor 6 years after the Battle of Endor. He mounts a serious come-back to retake the galaxy again and even hatches plans to turn Luke, Leia and others toward the dark side to serve him as Vader once did. Super cool story that pits Luke against the Emperor again with lots of Boba Fett storyline included. The Emperor’s new throne world is evil and creepy and would be an assault on the visual senses. Also introduces a swath of new characters.

3. X-Wing Rogue Squadron Series - written mostly by Michael Stackpole and Aaron Alliston, this series centers around Wedge Antilles, a fellow pilot by Luke Skywalker’s side during the original Death Star battle, the battle of Hoth and the second Death Star battle. He becomes the leader of this elite fighter pilot squadron and they take on crazy missions in the early days of the Rebel Alliance against the Empire and then against the remnants of that Empire after the Emperor is killed. Lots of fun and action packed with interesting stories happening parallel to Han, Luke and Leia’s main stories.

4. The Yuzhaan Vong Invasion Series - written by a crap ton of different authors, this series is typically called the New Jedi Order series and takes place about 20 years after Return of the Jedi. An extragalactic race of humanoids invade the galaxy far, far away and bring nothing but death and destruction. They can’t be sensed in the Force, they have no love for technology (use only biological organisms for everything from ships to weapons to clothing) and its up to Luke and his fledgling new Jedi Order to stop them and repel the invasion. EPIC clashes of Jedi vs. Vong warriors, intense drama, new characters and a general shake-up in the Star Wars universe as characters are dispatched and introduced. VERY cool story that leaves huge marks on the univers at large.

5. The Fate of the Jedi Series - this storyline is the most recent to find its way to book form. Han, Luke and Leia are all in their 50’s and 60’s, have kids and even a grandkid. Its a huge action/adventure story that pits good vs evil once again as a planet FULL of Sith warriors, living in obscurity for over 5,000 years (they couldn’t get off the planet) is unleashed on the galaxy amidst an even greater threat. This story is the beginning of a “passing of the baton” to a younger generation of adventurers in the form of our protagonist’s kids. Its a grand storyline that covers so much ground, its almost hard to keep up (they wrote a tie-in collection of shorter eBooks to help fill the gaps) and has lots and lots of Jedi vs. Sith battles.

So those are my top 5 stories. Trust me, I could come up with a lot more including one that takes place 100 years after Return of the Jedi (or more) and involves Luke Skywalker’s great great grandson Cade! But I won’t go into it all here. Maybe another day! Hopefully Disney and George have latched onto THESE stories and want to tell them as feature length films!

A TEXT POST

Star Wars Is Back!

News broke out yesterday afternoon, October 30th 2012, that Lucasfilm had been sold to Disney for $4.05 billion in cash and stocks. The geek world was stunned. Myself included. Immediate questions like, “How has this happened?” and “Are you kidding me!?” began sounding off on Twitter and other social media. The internet imploded a short time later and only seemed to regain its composure a couple hours later as the press release and video interview with George Lucas and Kathleen Kennedy began circulating to all the geek news channels.

But what does this mean for normal people? Well, it means you’re about to get a forceful injection of Star Wars whether you wanted it or not. A new trilogy to begin in 2015, with subsequent sequels coming every 2-3 years after the trilogy is done. New movies, tv, games, books; the mind boggles. What does this mean for hardcore Star Wars nerds like me? I’m not sure, honestly.

When I heard the news, I was stunned. Technically, I’m still stunned. I never expected to hear news like this until 10-15 years after George Lucas died. I figured it’d take his death and about a hundred lawsuits after his departure to figure out who now “owned” the Star Wars brand and who then could capitalize on it and re-make, reboot or sequel-ize. So to hear that George sold the company and all intellectual property that goes with it to Disney was tantamount to a punch in my gut. My friend, an Apple computers affecianado, compared it to the way he felt when Steve Jobs quit Apple several years ago. Same feeling. I’ve just been playing this up in my head for so long, I never really imagined it could ever happen a different way. I mean, Lucasfilm is George’s company.. He’s had it for over 40 years! The idea that he’d sell it before his death just never really occured to me as possible.

And yet, its happened. So now, I stare down the barrel of a new trilogy. A trilogy sorta story driven by George but now executed on all fronts by a new creative team under Kathleen Kennedy and the Disney team that is a wild card for sure.. My instinctive first questions were these:

     1. Will Harrison Ford, Mark Hamil and Carrie Fisher be recast as Han, Luke and Leia?
     2. Will a new stock of actors be cast to portray these iconic roles in a quasi-reboot of the characters in a post-Return of the Jedi trilogy? 
     3. Could they set the films far enough into the future where it makes sense that Han, Luke and Leia would look normal being as old as they are?
     4. What about the Expanded Universe that I’ve loved for so many, many years?

And that’s where I stopped. After I quickly dismissed the casting of the main characters or where they’d try to go with a possible story, I immediately thought about this news and its affect on the EU. See, the Expanded Universe has been in existence almost since Star Wars was released. It was found in the radio drama, the novelization and then board games (RPG’s), other games, comics and as the years went on, books, more comics, toys, video games and tv shows. The EU is a huge part of Star Wars lore for hardcore fans like me! I’ve literally read over 100 books, novels even, over the past 20 years. Timothy Zahn really kicked off the EU with his amazing Thrawn Trilogy beginning in 1991. I mean, my personal opinion is without his books and their New York Times Bestselling status, Star Wars would’ve never rebounded like it did in the 90’s. That rebound led to the THX re-mastering of the original trilogy which then led to the Special Edition of the originals and then a whole new prequel trilogy and now we are where we are. And its all because the EU helped fans hang on to Star Wars and enjoy new stories set in that univers!

So my fear is that all those stories that I’ve come to know and love might be in jeopardy as these stories begin to develop and make their way to the big screen. Someone asked me yesterday if I’d rather have my EU stories or Star Wars back on the big screen. Honestly, I said I’d rather have the EU stories which blew his mind. I’m not going to apologize for feeling like that either! I’ve got too much time, money and thought invested in THOSE EU stories. I want to see them ALL come to the big screen but I don’t want to sacrifice them for the sake of new movies. Just make the books/comics/games INTO movies! 

I trust Kathleen Kennedy and Disney for that matter. I don’t believe they’ll completely walk away from the EU, it is a money making part of Lucasfilm after all. But I hope that whoever they find to helm a new Star Wars script or especially a new film as director will approach the material with appreciation and reverence. I am not expecting a Star Wars trilogy tailored to 30-40 year olds like me. But I also don’t want the film to not make sense within the EU continuity. 

I know this means very little to most people but its how I’m feeling so I wanted to post it and just get it out of my head. Cheers to George Lucas for letting others play in his giant sandbox. Maybe I’ll get “un-stunned” soon haha. 

A TEXT POST

Ups, Downs and In-Betweens

It’s been a couple months since I updated and I was doing pretty well with 1-2 a month. Then the “busy season” hit and all pretense at trying to keep a good, recurring blog consistency broke down and now I’m 2.5 months since an update and am desperately hoping there’s still someone out there who wants to read this miscellaneous thoughts.

A little over a month ago, Charrier and I accepted a position at our church to lead our college group. I’ve taught class on Sundays for years but haven’t had my own “thing” ever in my life, so this is still a new thing to us. But we are excited and really hopeful for the future and what God has in store for these guys.

I’ve been hunting freelance gigs lately, actually, they came looking for me! And after its all said and done, I’ve still got nothing to show for it.. So hopefully one or more of those will pan out soon. That’s making for some interesting situations financially that maybe I’ll talk about at some point. Or maybe not.. haha.

And finally, as of this weekend, I’m struggling with some uncertainty surrounding a particular person of esteem in my life. I’m being intentionally vague because I do not want anyone to have cause to gossip. Just say a prayer for the situation, those of you who are religious and wouldn’t mind going to God with this.

Overall, my life is really good right now. Sure, there are hardships but there are some amazing victories to be had as well. I’m grateful for it all and happy to be living on this planet and watching life unfold around me.. I’m just hoping I can take an active part in it and my life won’t be lived in vain.