Monday, December 27, 2010

Have Marvel *AND* Warner/DC's movie plans been revealed and/or challenged... in Albuquerque?

Hey there! Now that we've all survive The Holiday, here's a new one from the "Probably-Nothing-But-Maybe-Everything" file...

AICN has confirmed that a local newspaper, The Albuquerque Journal, ran a story Christmas Eve about some New Mexico area filmming going on for "The Avengers." The print-only version of the story offhandedly - as though the writer believed it to already be common-knowledge - described the film's plot... and if what they printed is true (unsourced and as-yet unconfirmed) it's not only a HUGE reveal for "Avengers" but could also be an impending preview of the all-time biggest, longest-running "feud" between comics' biggest companies spilling over into Hollywood.

Article and possible-spoilage HERE, details after the jump:

Okay. The article describes the movie thusly: "'The Avengers" script will blend 'Iron Man', 'Thor', and 'Captain America: The First Avenger' story lines as the Avengers battle with two alien races, the Skrulls and the Kree."

For those unfamiliar: The Skrulls and The Kree are aliens in the vein of Original Star Trek (think Klingons and Vulcans, roughly) who both started out in Fantastic Four but quickly became "everybody's problem" universe-wide. Skrulls are oldschool pulp-style Little Green Men (though sometimes not so little) who can shape-shift to disguise themselves as people or animals; Kree are super-advanced and look mostly human, save that the "important" ones come in blue. The two races are in a state of perpetual intergalactic war, which infrequently spills-over onto Earth. Such a spill-over was the subject of the first major multi-issue Avengers epic, "The Kree-Skrull War." (Which you can find in trade for not much cash here and there, and is a great "intro to superhero epics" book, incidentally.)

The Skrulls being in the movie wouldn't be a huge surprise. They're THE big alien-invader threat in Marvel continuity, and a (significantly-less-interesting) version of them were the "big bads" of the first volumes of "The Ultimates" - the grim n' gritty Avengers reworking that's purportedly been serving as a rough outline (though thankfully not in terms of design or characterization) for Avengers movie-setup. They also typically figure in the backstory of That POSSIBLE SPOILER from "Captain America" that was shown to Comic-Con audiences. FWIW, I'm very much "with" the school of thought that says a huge threat in the vein of an alien invasion would be the best concievable basis for the world's first cross-continuity superhero movie-epic; so I'd love to see The Skrulls.

But this is the first I've heard anyone ever mention The Kree being in any movie. There's a reason for that: They haven't been particularly "important" for years. So why drag them into what's already a filled-to-bursting project? Other than to get free-press by giving people like me nerdgasms, I mean.

Well, I can think of at least TWO. You may want to get comfy...

The Kree's main connection to the Marvel Universe is through the character of Captain Marvel - actually a Kree warrior named Mar-Vell (yes, really.) Captain Marvel is unique among longrunning Marvel characters in that his books have remained in publication consistently despite the fact that he's never been very popular - the Jim Starlin's work on the character in the 70s and 80s was excellent and attained a cult following, but that's about it. So why does he still exist at all? Trademark protection.

Short Version: In the 40s, Fawcett Comics published books built around an incredibly popular character also called Captain Marvel. How popular was he? At the time, he was MUCH more popular than his predecessor, Superman (fun fact: Captain Marvel, aka The Big Red Cheese, could actually fly, instead of merely jumping high, before Superman could.) In fact, it's been argued (rather persuasively) that the character would've remained bigger than Superman right up to today... except that DC Comics sued Fawcett (and many others) arguing that various superheroes were ripoffs of Superman. Fawcett lost, stopped published Captain Marvel books and ultimately went out of business. In the 60s, Marvel Comics noted that the now-defunct Fawcett's trademark on the (still-recognizable) name "Captain Marvel" had run out; and they quickly created the Mar-Vell character in order to snap it up.

Okay, Maybe Not-So-Short Version: In the 70s, DC bought the publication rights to Fawcett's characters and added them to their universe, creating a copyright-law boondoggle: While DC owns the copyright on the Marvel Family characters, Marvel owns the Captain Marvel name (for legal reasons I don't fully grasp, DC can call them Captain Marvel, Mary Marvel etc. in dialogue inside the books, but can't use the word "marvel" on the covers or ANY advertising or merchandise) - meaning that for almost 30 years DC has owned one of the most potentially-profitable superhero characters ever created (seriously, read up on his mythos. Captain Marvel is a family-blockbuster waiting to happen) but are effectively banned from promoting or advertising him. Instead, the "franchise" is marketed under the much less marketing-friendly name "Shazam!," reffering both to a wizard who gives Captain Marvel his powers and a magic-word that activates them, while Marvel Comics must continually publish some form of a "Captain Marvel" character in their own universe in order to prevent the trademark from lapsing back to DC.

Anyway, over the last few years Warners/DC has been getting more aggressive about promoting their Captain Marvel outside of the comics, most-notably in a truly awesome Justice League episode and a recent DVD Movie. And they've been trying to get a movie off the ground for years. If they did, this long-standing "fight" over the name "Captain Marvel" goes Hollywood: Even if the posters have to call it "Something Something of Shazam!" or whatever, a big hit movie could re-establish The Big Red Cheese as the One True Captain Marvel at least as the buying public is concerned - making Mar-Vell even more irrelevant than he already was.

BUT! If The Kree were to actually turn up in "Avengers" - or any Marvel Films project, really - that could potentially mean they're looking to get their Captain Marvel into theaters first. Is this an indicator of that? Could Marvel Studios be looking to cock-block Warners/DC by slipping Mar-Vell into "Avengers?" It'd certainly be an amusing turn of events.


Mar-Vell also had a distaff counterpart (aka "girl version"), Ms. Marvel, who turned out to be more popular than him and has become an Avengers-family fixture over the last decade and change thanks to a revival by fans-turned-writers. Quick primer: Mar-Vell's human ladyfriend Carol Danvers gets Mar-Vell style superpowers from a Kree-related accident and becomes what amounts to a Marvel-version of Wonder Woman. For the longest time she was mostly remembered for a truly asinine story in Avengers #200 where she was kidnapped, raped and impregnated with a clone of her supervillain rapist - which then speed-aged into an adult that she fell in love with (really); and for being the character whom power-absorbing X-Men villainess-turned-hero Rogue took her flight and strength powers from.

Marvel has been promoting the hell out of a restored-to-proper-stature (they've been trying to walk back from Avengers #200 for decades now) Ms. Marvel by making her a mainstay of the newer Avengers teams; and it seems to have paid off for them in terms of a saleable character. At this point the "Avengers" movie lineup is pretty-much a sausagefest save for Black Widow; so maybe The Kree are a way for famously female-friendly writer/director Joss Whedon to get another Marvel Lady into the franchise? That actually sounds more likely...

Of course, there's also the THIRD option: That the person writing the story for the Alburquerque Journal googled a bunch of Avengers-related stuff for the article and the Kree/Skrull stuff got mixed in by accident, have nothing actually to do with the movie, and I've just wasted a shitload of your and my time.

Happy post-holidays!


Mason said...

It's impossible to waste my time because my time is worthless.

Ezenwa said...

I'm knee-deep in snow, there's only like 3 people moving anywhere, and now, I hear that Marvel and DC are still up in arms over Captain Marvel? My brother was right: watch out for 2011. It's gonna get crazy.

In all seriousness, I can't wait to see if there is any load of anything to this.

Furore said...

I'm just glad we've got you to sniff out this stuff for the wannabe-geeks like myself who love the content but are too lazy to chase after all the latest snippets.
Still love all your work. Hope you had the best Christmas.
Love, a Fan.

The Partisan said...


ZAENGO said...

hey Bob, what did you get for christmas? Im curious.

You got nerdy shit, right?

T'Generalissimo said...

"a truly asinine story in Avengers #200 where she was kidnapped, raped and impregnated with a clone of her supervillain rapist - which then speed-aged into an adult that she fell in love with (really)"

Come on now, Bob, that clearly did not happen; it couldn't possibly have, no human being is that bad at writing.

Jonathan-Paul said...

This could explain the presence of the Super Skrull in Marvel vs Capcom 3. He is fairly unknown and without the FF4 to put him in context, he is a weird choice.