Tuesday, October 18, 2011

JJ Abrams to Produce "Micronauts" for Paramount

A part of me wants to automatically give the benefit of the doubt to movies based on toys just to counterbalance all the critics/commentators who still act like the very IDEA of these projects is an affront to the medium itself. There's no reason you can't make a decent movie out of a toy franchise with the right people working on it; even if that hasn't happened much so far.

In any case, Paramount and Hasbro - still swimming in cash from their awful yet awfully-successful "Transformers" movies - have tapped JJ Abrams and the hot writing due from "Zombieland" to put together a feature/franchise based on the late-70s/early-80s "MICRONAUTS" figure line. I'm indifferent to Abrams at this point, but the Zombieland dudes are good people.

This is where this story get's kind of interesting, in a "convoluted corporate politics of Hollywood way..

Okay, so... "Micronauts" actually date from before the idea of assinging some semblance of a storyline to toy lines; so initially they didn't really have a "universe" beyond character names and assingments of good/bad. The line was actually the U.S. import of Japan's mega-popular "Microman" figures (themselves a spinoff of a Japanese robot-version of the G.I. Joe molds toy history is a fucking RABBIT HOLE!) and the big hook was that they were modular; i.e. you could pop some of the arms/legs/etc off the figures and their vehicles and swap them around in new combinations. Some of said vehicles actually got repurposed into some of the G1 Transformers (RABBIT HOLE!!!)



The line got a story when Marvel Comics writer Bill Mantlo saw his son playing with them and convinced his bosses to license the rights. It was Mantlo who created (with some inspiration from the original Microman backstory) the characterizations for the Micronauts; along with a pretty keen story gimmick: The Micronauts themselves hail from a "Microverse," and when their epic Star Wars-esque struggle spills over to Earth they find themselves to be the proportionate size of the "Micronauts" action figures. That's kind of brilliant, really, and would still be a killer movie hook for today - hey kids, your toys ARE The Micronauts!!!

BUT that's probably not the story (at least not exactly) that the new Hasbro/Paramount film will be working from, even if it wanted to - see, most of the original-to-the-comics stuff that Mantlo came up with is still owned by Marvel, which in turn is owned by rival movie studio Disney. In fact, several of the Mantlo-reworked characters are still kicking around the Marvel Universe, albeit with any official Micronauts branding discreetly stripped away. At least one of them is actually supposed to be part of the new "Gaurdians of The Galaxy;" which Marvel is angling to be a movie of it's own down the line.

So... eventually someone takes another whack at He-Man, right? That happens before this all topples over?

8 comments:

The Robotaku said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Drunken Lemur said...

All I know about Micronauts is that apparently Captain Universe premiered in one of it's issues.

David (The Pants) said...

Those toys look awesome! Yep, I think this movie is in good hands.

MD said...

I could deal with a live action version of this if it came from the crafstman of "Zombie Land". Also Abrams is pretty solid in a producing role. All in all I definitely feel much better about the potential of a film here than I do with Platinum Dunes upcoming TMNT :(

http://youtu.be/uHr4ipR-bzk

Julian Perez said...

I am so incredibly excited about a Micronauts film. This stuff is like mannah from heaven with talented people involved. Cynicism directed towards this project is both premature and unwarranted.

The original Marvel comic was pretty amazing stuff. In addition to scenes on earth where they were small as toys, there was also great and campy imagery like Serpent-Tanks, the Darth-Vader esque Baron Karza transforming into a centaur robot, friendly "cute" robots. One of my favorite bits was how, the prison-garb on the prison planet were basically striped gangster 1920s zoot suits.

It was Star Wars-derivative, but in the best possible way.

The thing I always liked best about this idea is that there was an evil empire and dictator, but you actually understood why cannon-fodder Imperial Stormtroopers actually followed him. As Baron Karza had power over body shops, he could give his subjects immortality, repair limbs, cure diseases (the catch is they had to come from someone else). I can see a society given temptation like that doing horrible things.

Chris Cesarano said...

Anyone that remembers the Mighty Max cartoon knows that you can take what is essentially a 30-minute toy commercial and do awesome with it. To the extent that the toys were changed around to fit better with the TV show, even.

So yeah, just because you're told to make a movie or TV show based on a toy line, doesn't mean you can't use that for complete awesome.

As for the news, honestly, I'm more psyched to discover the new Deadpool flick was written by the Zombieland folks.

Glenn ELFer said...

Julian Perez,

Your statement is on point. The project was a toy that became a successful book. Bill Mantlo and Michael Golden did amazing work on americas version of Microman toys.

The only time someone should have a problem with a brand being made into a feature film is when the person/s working on the prodject knows nothing about the brand itself.

Glenn said...

Julian Perez,

Your statement is on point. The project was a toy that became a successful book. Bill Mantlo and Michael Golden did amazing work on americas version of Microman toys.

The only time someone should have a problem with a brand being made into a feature film is when the person/s working on the prodject knows nothing about the brand itself.

The Body Banks concept ties directly into the plastic surgery and implants market. This movie can work in todays world providing it's done right.

Abrams did a good job on StarTrek (minus Leutenant O'hara's scripting). He seems like he would be familiar with the Micronauts.