There's not much we love here at MTV Movies more than seeing the greatest superheroes on the big screen — except maybe talking about them. Between obsessively pouring over trailers like they were the Zapruder film and compulsively checking our voicemail hoping those Gotham viralists have left another message — if being geeks is our full-time job, well, you could say that business has never been better.
With the release this week of "Iron Man," the greatest summer in comic book film history is officially open, so we assembled a panel of comic and film experts, including Staci Layne Wilson of Sci Fi Wire, Steve Weintraub of Collider.com, Shane Coleman of California's Golden Apple Comics stores and, of course, Larry Carroll and Shawn Adler of MTV News, to discuss everything in the world of upcoming comic films.
What's the worst adaptation coming out? Who's the most miscast? How did we wind up with nipples on suits again? Find out the answers to these and other questions below, then become a part of our panel yourself and continue the discussion over at the MTV Movies Blog.
Have the studios perfected the craft of superhero movies?
Steve Weintraub: It seems like lately, the studios have come together with filmmakers and delivered good films. I'm not talking about "Spider-Man 3," by the way.
Shane Coleman: I think nowadays, Hollywood is starting to understand that these universes have a following for a reason, and that's because of the great stories that have come beforehand. They're starting to understand that if they really want to make money off this, they need to aim for the fans, instead of just throwing something out there to get as many people as possible into the theaters. Now they want to make the fans happy, and they're really starting to do that.
Weintraub: The smartest thing they're doing is combining the universes. They're putting characters in both movies in order to expand. There will be a little snippet of Nick Fury in one of those movies, and that way, they can later do a Nick Fury movie. They own the properties now, so they can do these cross-pollinations between movies that they couldn't do in the past.
Do you foresee any fatal flaws in this summer's upcoming movies?
Larry Carroll: My problem with "Iron Man" is that they have not made a single misstep yet. Everything I've seen is perfect, except at the end of the Super Bowl trailer, there's this pure CGI sequence with Iron Man shooting a tank. You don't see a human being anywhere in the shot.
Weintraub: I'm a little nervous about it, because it looks like "Iron Man" and "Hulk" are going to be very family-friendly. [Specifically] I'm nervous about "Iron Man 2," where they've talked about going for the bottle story line. Is Marvel going to let them do that?
Coleman: I'm looking forward to every single movie that's coming out this summer, except for "Wanted." I say that because that movie looks like the biggest pile of bantha-fodder I've ever seen, honestly.
Carroll: So you're more looking forward to "Punisher 2" than "Wanted"?
Coleman: Absolutely. I can go out to Blockbuster and give you six or seven movies about assassins. But I can't find one single movie about super villains, and that's what the original "Wanted," the trade paperback, was about. Then they turned around and bastardized it into this movie about assassins with Angelina Jolie. That's two things I don't care about. The only saving grace it has going for it is Morgan Freeman.
Who is miscast in these movies?
Carroll: I wish they had found someone more interesting than Gwyneth Paltrow to be in "Iron Man." I mean, she's Gwyneth Paltrow. She's OK, but it's kinda like vanilla yogurt as opposed to some flavorful, yummy yogurt that would have added a little something extra to it. "Oh, it's Gwyneth Paltrow, but now she's got red hair!" She's still Gwyneth Paltrow.
Coleman: Did I already mention the entire cast, except for Morgan Freeman, of "Wanted"? Just wanted to touch on that again. For the third time. I want to say that that looks like the worst movie ever.
Staci Layne Wilson: Well, I love "The Illusionist." I think that Ed Norton's definitely got talent, but I don't know, when I was looking at the trailer [of "The Incredible Hulk,"] I just didn't buy it.
Coleman: He should play Dr. Strange, plain and simple. I think he should be Dr. Strange.
Shawn Adler: Well, he based his costume in "The Illusionist" off of Dr. Strange.
Coleman: So, there's just another reason why he should play Dr. Strange!
How do you think the "Watchmen" movie will turn out?
Weintraub: They're spending a lot of money, and it is a very adult film. I really believe it's going to revolutionize the comic book movie like the ["Watchmen" book] did in the '80s. I think that "Watchmen" is the end-all. I think it's going to be amazing.
Wilson: Zack Snyder is a fan [of the graphic novel], so I think that shows. Without being precious or too self-indulgent, I think he really understands what the fans want, being a fan himself.
Adler: Those pictures of the costumed heroes were posted a while ago, and I never thought if I lived to be 1,000 that I would see rubber nipples on a suit again, and yet there they are on Nite Owl.
Coleman: It's like ["Batman Forever" director Joel] Schumacher all over again. I'm very apprehensive about this movie, because as everybody said here, it is one of the greatest graphic novels ever written, and it did revolutionize the way stories are written, and it did change a lot in the comic book industry. There's a reason why it has taken so long to be made into a film. And I am one of the people who truly believe that the essence of that can never be captured on film.
How will people react to Heath Ledger's Joker?
Wilson: Well, I was on the set of "Dark Knight" in Chicago, and I got a chance to see costumes up close, including the vehicles. I thought the attention to detail was just incredible: The costumes, the colors and the makeup. I really like the Joker's makeup, and I think it's important that it was a practical makeup effect and not so CGI-centric.
Carroll: The cool thing about the Joker's costume is, it looks like you can pick up the costume from the Salvation Army.
Adler: We've had a huge pendulum swing with Ledger's casting [from] "They got the kid from 'Brokeback Mountain'? How could he play the Joker?" But now everyone's anointing him with this grand performance.
Wilson: To me, it seems he took a very serious and reverent approach to it. And he admitted on the set he was very nervous about it, and he took the role very seriously. He took a lot of time to prepare for it.
Coleman: I have to say it, I'm sorry, [but] when they showed that trailer at [New York] Com-Con, he sounded like Skip from "The Lords of Dogtown" trying to talk through a prosthetic. It was a little difficult for me to sit through. Once again, I apologize to anybody who's like, "That guy's a bastard for talking about the dead that way."
Adler: Kind of morbid follow-up to that: Do you think Ledger's death will help or hurt the film finding an audience?
Carroll: The way I always think is, it can't bring less people to the theater. No one's gonna say, "I'm not gonna see 'Dark Knight' 'cause Heath Ledger died." But if 100 people say, "Well, you know what, Heath Ledger died, I'm gonna go see his final performance," then there you go — there's a little bit more for that opening weekend.
What comic book adaptations do you want to see next?
Carroll: I really want a Captain America movie. Every time they come out with "Punisher 3," I think, why not Captain America?
Weintraub: I'll tell you why, because we need to have Bush out of office, and then the world will start liking us again. And I'm serious about this. When public opinion around the world for the U.S. begins to reach 30 percent, and we start hitting 50, 60 maybe even 70 percent with new people in office, Marvel might go, "Oh, you can make that movie now." Right now they can't make that movie, because worldwide box office is like 60 percent of the final take, and people don't like us.
Carroll: I want to see Guy Pearce as Captain America. Guy freaking Pearce, the most underrated actor of all time. He makes lousy movies, but he's a great actor. Guy Pearce, the gauntlet has been thrown!
Who wouldn't want to live like "Iron Man" billionaire Tony Stark? MTV's "Made" will give one lucky winner the chance to do just that for a weekend. Go to IronMan.MTV.com and enter for a chance to win a first-class trip to Los Angeles, five-star accomodations, a shopping spree and more! And be sure not to miss TRL's "Iron Man" special today at 3:30pm EST for everything metalhead!
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