Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Wonder Woman conspiracy theory and some casting suggestions

I realize that this glob is fast becoming "Karl Talks About Superhero Movies and TV Shows," but here's another Starpulse link to a piece I wrote giving some casting suggestions for David E. Kelley's announced new WONDER WOMAN TV show. As my pal John pointed out, Kelley's not exactly known for casting Amazonian female leads, so it remains to be seen whether or not Diana will be a Hollipop.

But it did get me thinking about Jim Lee's Wonder Woman costume revamp from earlier this year. DC Comics is notorious for altering their comics to fit media adaptations. In the 1970s, Billy Batston started tooling around in an RV with Uncle Dudley in a weird echo of Filmation's SHAZAM! TV series and Green Lantern John Stewart's costume was changed to fit the JUSTICE LEAGUE cartoon version, just to name a few examples (at least Batman never got rubber nipples).

About a year ago, Warner Bros. (DC Comics' parent company) formed DC Entertainment in an attempt to bring more superhero synergy and catch up to Marvel Comics' success rate on the big screen. In the year since, there's been much restructuring at DC and the future of the company is anybody's guess (although I think their recent move to lower comic book prices was a good one.... one of the big things keeping me away from the comic stores was a $5.00 price tag on a regular comic).

But I'm cynical enough to wonder if maybe the whole costume change for everybody's favorite Amazon Princess happened because DC knew that in a few months there was going to be a public announcement of a new WW TV show. It's easy to imagine a production company saying they were interested in bringing the character back to television, but (like Joss Whedon when he was writing his ill-fated Wonder Woman movie some years ago), didn't want to use the red, white and blue spandex. DC knows that when you mess around with someone as iconic as Wonder Woman, any alteration is bound to be controversial (while bringing about the no-such-thing-as-bad publicity). The last time Diana's costume had a major makeover was 1982, when the eagle she'd sported on her chest since 1941 was replaced with an easier-to-trademark stylized WW. Even that subtle alteration caused ripples with the fans (although of course, not as much as when she gave up her powers altogether in the early 1970s to become a martial-arts wielding Emma Peel type). But to radically alter the look of one of the so-called DC Trinity because of a TV show would not go over too well with the fanboys.

But if the costume were changed in the comics FIRST and then later used on TV? Well, who could cry foul at that?

Just a theory. Let's wait and see. But JESUS, that's an ugly costume.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

SMALLVILLE Season 10 Recaps

I'm doing the Starpulse recaps for the tenth season of SMALLVILLE, a show that started out okay, got stronger, then lost its steam as its success forced the overlong delay of bringing the story to its foregone conclusion.

When SMALLVILLE premiered in 2001, the concept of a young Clark Kent discovering his nascent powers and learning of his Kryptonian heritage was a novel take on the oft-visited character of Superman. Tom Welling’s sensitive masculinity was a perfect fit for the would-be Man of Steel and while the show took some time to find its voice, by the second season, it had blossomed into a solid addition to the Superman legacy.

By the ninth season however, SMALLVILLE had overstayed its welcome, and not just because of the crippling loss of Michael Rosenbaum as Lex Luthor in season 7. From the outset, SMALLVILLE was a finite story, the ending of which everyone knows: Clark Kent becomes a reporter for the Metropolis Daily Planet and dons the red, blue and yellow costume of Superman. Since Clark was a junior in high school when the show started, that left about six years worth of stories to tell, including the opportunity to deal with Clark’s college years, something rarely tackled in any medium (aside from the best-forgotten syndicated ‘80s SUPERBOY series).

But despite a show-guiding edict of “no flights, no tights,” the producers quickly began to prematurely integrate elements of SuperMAN’s world. The first danger sign came when Metropolis was transplanted from its traditional east coast locale to Kansas, within spitting distance of the Kent farm. By the fourth season, Lois Lane was on board. In season 5, Clark met fellow DC Comics heroes Aquaman, Cyborg and Impulse (many more have followed, including series regular Green Arrow). Soon characters were getting married and, astoundingly, most seemed to breeze through college in about a year, with barely a nod to that most transitional stage of life. Season 7 introduced Clark’s Kryptonian cousin Kara, aka Supergirl, and by the 8th season, Clark and Lois were working alongside each other at the Daily Planet.

The problem is that after nine years, Clark Kent is an adult (Welling is 32!), and while our hero (known as “the Blur” due to his super-speed obscured presence) sports a black trenchcoat covering a silver “S” shield T-shirt, he’s still not Superman. While earlier seasons had Clark struggle with what he thought was a despotic Kryptonian destiny, by now, especially with so many other superheroes around, Clark should be Superman. He’s supposed to be an inspiration, not a derivation. By dragging out the story, SMALLVILLE had become kryptonite to the spirit of the character of Superman.

Now that they've come to the final season, the march towards finally putting Clark Kent into the Superman suit is under way. Darkseid is going to be the major villain, attempting to keep Clark from fully coming into the light (and bringing the rest of the Justice Leaguers and Society members along with him). I'm not going to post the full Starpulse recaps on Pops, but here are the links for the first two recaps (obviously laden with spoilers).

Season 10, Episode 1: LAZARUS 
Season 10, Episode 2: SHIELD