Archive for the ‘Baer’ Category

Cannon Film’s Spider-Man

Posted: February 9, 2017 in Baer
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Hey! It’s been a while. I haven’t been updating much lately due to life and other things getting in the way of talking about comic book movies. Luckily Brian C. Baer has no such concerns. Here, he brings us this look at the adaptation of Spider-Man that we may have had in the late 80’s had things taken a different turn. Enjoy!

Spider-Man had an amazingly, sensationally, spectacularly troubled path towards the big screen before Sam Raimi’s 2002 adaptation. While the end product would help usher in the modern superhero movie genre, there were several near-misses that sounded much less promising.

Between projects planned by Roger Corman in the early ’80s and James Cameron in the early ’90s, the rights to the character belonged to Cannon Films. The movie studio was already infamous for its schlocky output and questionable accounting at the time. After they were convinced that Spider-Man should not be a monster movie like The Wolfman, Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, the Israeli cousins who owned Cannon, hired screenwriters Ted Newsom and John Brancato.

spidey

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**Once, a loooong time ago, the Marvel brand was not the cinematic behemoth that it is now. Yes, youngsters, there was a time before X-Men, Iron Man and Blade. Novelist Brian Baer took a 90-minute look into that dark time recently and came back with this dispatch of what he witnessed.**

The 90’s was a weird period for Marvel. Between the chromium covers and bankruptcies, the company had found success in animated series, namely with X-Men and Spider-Man. They attempted to spin that momentum into live-action properties in 1996 with a made-for-TV movie/pilot for a Generation X TV series. That show wasn’t picked up, but in 1998, they gave it another try with an adaptation of their long-running super-spy, Nick Fury: Agent of SHIELD.

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**Brian Baer (who’s novel is out now) wrote this look all that survives of one genius’s attempt to adapt another genius’s work. Ah, what could of been…**

The road to feature film adaptations is long and rocky for many comic book characters, and perhaps none longer or rockier than for Will Eisner’s seminal superhero, The Spirit. Also, like many paths to adaptation, that final product (2008’s The Spirit) was rather disappointing.

The character had several brushes with live-action film before Frank Miller’s directorial debut, though. There was a 1987 TV movie, which failed as a back-door pilot for a series, and an aborted attempt from Harlan Ellison and director William Friedkin nearly a decade previously. Between the two, The Spirit nearly became animated. (more…)

**This edition of The unadapted was written by Brian Baer, frequent collaborator and author of the upcoming Bad Publicity from Portfolio Press. Be sure to check it out. But first, read his thoughts on why Marvel’s Batman should be brought to life.**

The problem with Moon Knight has never been that he was unknown. The character has been the star of several comics series, many with high-profile creators and respectable lifespans. He’s even been ranked as one of the greatest comics characters by Wizard and IGN.

The problem with Moon Knight is that most people know him, but only as a Batman rip-off.
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Atomic Robo is a comic series created by Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener. If you’re unfamiliar with it, please do yourself a favor and get familiar. It’s a fun, exciting and hilarious story with an insanely likable cast of heroes and villains. Recently Clevinger, the comic’s writer, posted a series of anecdotes on Twitter that explained some dealings he’d had in trying to adapt the character for the big screen, years ago (check him out on Twitter to see his comments). Amongst the notes from the studio was the need for Robo (a loveable, heroic robot) to have a kid sidekick. Eventually, the project fell apart, but not before some interesting meetings with the creators.

Brian Baer (frequent writer for Comic Book Media) was recently able to speak to Mr. Clevinger about his experiences dealing with a major studio and getting that close to seeing an adaptation of his beloved character.

I’d like to thank Brian Clevinger for agreeing to the interview and providing some insight into the difficult and frustrating process of adaptation.

Another thanks goes to Brian Baer for taking the lead with this interview. With that, I’ll turn things over to the two Brians. Enjoy!
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**Brian Baer researched one of the earliest adventures of Marvel’s First Family in expanded media. More than that, he actually made it through a whole episode of it before questioning his own sanity. Enjoy!**

The Fantastic Four radio show is something of a pop culture anomaly. Debuting in 1975, the show lasted for a full thirteen weeks and was quickly forgotten. Now, it seems to be “discovered” every two or three years, namely due to the involvement of a pre-Saturday Night Live Bill Murray. The novelty passes, and then it waits to dug up once more.

The show itself was the brainchild of disc jockey Peter B. Lewis. When first dreamed up in the mid-60s, Lewis originally hoped to create a show about the Silver Surfer or a rotating series of Marvel characters. “I chose to lay the foundation and do the first 13 weeks on the FF and see what to do next,” he told an interviewer. A chance meeting with Stan Lee secured the rights, and Lewis began to put the show together.


“Bill, you are WAY off-script, man.”


The National Lampoon Radio Hour was winding down and many of the voice actors, including Bill Murray, were available to join the cast. Longer radio programs had become harder to sell in the mid-70s so each story was split into five minute segments, played five days a week to serialize one full issue’s story.

On scriptwriting, Lewis said, “I tried to follow the exact quotes from the books, then I added visual descriptions of the scene and the action.” The resulting episodes are accurate to a fault. They seem so focused on following the original Lee/Kirby issues to the letter, that once the pictures are removed, the stories would be utterly incomprehensible without the constant narration by Stan Lee.  

“The fiery Human Torch was on
fire. Am I doing it right?
Excelsior!” 

The Fantastic Four’s adventures into other media have always been either overblown trainwrecks or charmingly inept. Their radio show is the latter. In many ways, it’s reminiscent of the 1994 Roger Corman film – It would’ve never worked out, and that seems terribly obvious to everyone but the series’ creators. 

When they could only secure fraction of the funds needed, Peter Lewis and producer Bob Michaelson invested their life savings. They ended up broke. No national advertisers signed on, and Marvel barely seemed aware of the program. It took decades for them to work themselves out of debt.

“Until the past few months, I haven’t really been able to consider the project anything other than a big black evil-time in my life,” Lewis said in 1999, “I now have a better handle on much of it.”

Despite the occasional interest the Fantastic Four radio series generates, Marvel has still declined to formally reissue it. It can’t be found at the typical bootleg convention tables, and it doesn’t even have its own Wikipedia page. Its latest rediscovery doesn’t seem to be winning its entrance onto the main stage of comic book adaptations, either. Maybe when it pops up again in another two or three years.

One of these days we HAVE to get a good adaptation…right?

 

**The following was written by Brian Baer. While technically not a Comic Book Movie…come on, it totally is. Enjoy this look at a forgotten film from a strange time known as “The Early 90’s.”**

Don’t get me wrong, I know everyone is excited for Benedict “Cheekbones” Cumberbatch to play Marvel’s Doctor Strange on the big screen. Dr. Stephen Strange has already appeared in his own 1978 TV movie, along with an animated film and guest spots on various cartoons, all of which I’m sure will be covered on this site soon. But there’s an important also-ran appearance of the character, something which may as well count.

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It’s been a damn good year for comic book media. Perhaps the biggest advances have been in the realm of television. Once the black sheep of the entertainment industry, TV is now the go-to for intricately plotted, nuanced and serialized drama. Add to that the continuing dominance of comic book movies and it’s no surprise that countless properties continue to be optioned and adapted.
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Guest Writer Extraordinaire Brian Baer provided this look at a Marvel character who has had a whopping zeroo appearances in expanded media. Where’s the Kung Fu love, Marvel?

Writing about Marvel, especially characters who haven’t been adapted yet, isn’t easy. Pre-Iron Man, movies and other media based on Marvel’s characters were as hit-or-miss as DC’s. Since then it’s become a different story. Not only are audiences being treated to high quality films, the Cinematic Universe’s scope is almost too comprehensive to allow Monday Morning Quarterbacking. But this is the internet, after all. So, I’ll give it a shot.
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**This entry was written by Brian Baer as part of my Guest Column series. Thanks Brian!**

“Whatever knows fear burns at the touch of the Man-Thing!!!”

This oft-printed caption box is typically the only introduction to the Man-Thing required. A brilliant scientist was betrayed in the Florida Everglades and, thanks to an experimental serum, became fused with the swamp vegetation. Now a shambling, barely conscious creature, the Man-Thing’s highly empathic nature causes him to reach out with a burning touch. Anyone in his presence feeling fear would be scarred, immolated, or worse.
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