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I’m ready to say ‘Shazam!’ — are you? (CCC flashback)

2009 August 13

Originally published Aug. 21, 2008 in the editorial page of the NORWALK REFLECTOR newspaper, but previously unavailable online:

Within the last month, the Big Decision Makers at DC Comics have had a pow-wow with Warner Bros. about how to get their comics projects made into films.

This is an extremely bright move, especially considering Marvel Comics has its own movie studio and helps make the “Big Decisions” about translating their characters onto the big screen. This financial arrangement with Paramount Pictures, as seen in “Iron Man” and “The Incredible Hulk,” allows Marvel movie characters to “live” in the same universe.

The result? The 2010 “Iron Man” sequel and “Thor” (June 4, 2010) plus “The First Avenger: Captain America” (May 6, 2011) will culminate in the superhero group film “The Avengers” in July 2011.

In contrast to Marvel cranking out the feature films — even before the Paramount deal, DC and Warner Bros. (WB) have taken more of a “slow and steady” philosophy. Unfortunately, that same mindset means fans have heard about films based on The Flash, Green Lantern and Wonder Woman — even the gunslinging anti-hero Jonah Hex — being announced, but going nowhere fast.

Hopefully this will change after DC’s summit meeting with WB, which owns the comics giant. Now is the prime time to be more intentional since “The Dark Knight” has become the second highest-grossing movie ever and both companies are wondering what to do about a “Superman Returns” sequel.

The latest online hubbub has WB excited about next making “Green Lantern,” focusing on pilot Hal Jordan who is given a powerful ring and the honor of being a galactic guardian of peace. That’s a great idea with wonderful opportunities for special effects and creating fantastic looking aliens, not to mention the chance to incorporate the expanded DC universe.

An even cooler concept is the in-development film “Green Arrow: Escape from Super Max,” in which the wrongfully convicted archer has to escape from a prison that randomly changes its construction to keep super-powered villains imprisoned. The script by Justin Marks includes cameos by The Riddler, Lex Luthor and many lesser known bad guys.

WB should move forward with “Superman: Man of Steel.” While they’re at it, the studio should get those Flash and Wonder Woman projects out of the mothballs and consider making a “World’s Finest”-type team-up film starring Batman and Superman (with Christian Bale and Brandon Routh) after doing a “Dark Knight” sequel.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: For more of my thoughts on WB’s latest plans to adapt DC heroes to the big screen, go to this “Way to go, WB!” blog posted July 22. Don’t forget to add your comments.)

After all those films have been released — and only then — should DC and WB get serious about green-lighting “Justice League of America.”

* * *

About ‘Shazam’: Another DC film I can’t wait to see become reality is “Billy Batson and the Legend of Shazam” by director Peter Segal.

From the “Get Smart” set in February, Segal told the movie news Web site IGN it’s not true he’s “trying to make a lighter, funny Shazam.” He expects the tone to be darker than the “Fantastic Four” films.

The director, in a June 25 interview with SciFi Scanner, said the “real fans of Shazam know there’s a great sense of humor just in the fact that a 13-year-old boy morphs into a 28-year-old superstud, Captain Marvel.”

“I want to stay very faithful to the source material there,” Segal told IGN. “But it is a 13-year-old boy who becomes a superhero and I think there is an element of (the Tom Hanks comedy) ‘Big’ in that and I think there always was in the comic book.”

During the Feb. 22-24 WonderCon in San Francisco, Segal told the media he isn’t rushing “Shazam,” which he envisions as “a huge movie … in scope and in price.”

Dwayne Johnson is expected to play Black Adam, Captain Marvel’s enemy. Johnson became interested after talking with Segal while they were making “Get Smart.”

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