COMICS PORTAL: Ultfleck or Spadetron

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Last week I talked about the hubbub resulting from Ben Affleck being chosen to play Batman/Bruce Wayne.  Since then, Marvel Studios announced that actor James Spader had been selected to play Ultron in the second Avengers film. The outrage was, shall we say, silent by comparison.

I’ve been wondering what fans would have thought if, before Warner Bros. could sign Affleck to be Batman, he had been signed by Marvel to play Ultron instead. Ultfleck instead of Batfleck!  Would the screaming have been as loud? In a word, the answer is clearly: No. Why is this?

MARVEL KNOWS WHAT THEY’RE DOING WHILE DC DOES NOT.

The statement above is how many fans think of the two companies. Sadly, this also extends to what I refer to as the “comic press,” a group I consider myself part of.

Those of us who talk about the comics industry often have suffered from our own version of “battered wife syndrome,” as Peter David once referred to it. Whatever Marvel wants, we agree with because, hey, we want to be in good with the “big company.”

I’ve also seen this a lot with local retailers. Shops seriously under-order DC because they know if they sell out, DC will make more copies available to them. Marvel often does NOT make more copies available, so they over-order to make sure they have enough copies of an issue to sell. If something turns out to be a surprise hit, they’re covered. Interestingly enough, if DC doesn’t make other copies available to them readily, the retailer is often furious with DC while Marvel doing the same thing is referred to as “understandable.”

I don’t begrudge Marvel sitting in this cat-bird seat. They worked hard and long to get there. But I firmly believe that one doesn’t have to “hate” one company and “love” the other. One can be a fan of both, believe it or not! I don’t even think political parties are worthy of that level of devotion.

JOSS WHEDON KNOWS WHAT HE’S DOING.

Unlike the Warner Bros. announcement, articles across the Internet reporting Spader’s hiring often included something along these lines: “Whedon knows what he’s doing, so we can trust him.” There were no such endorsement of Warner Bros. or DC that I could find.

Warner Bros., Batman, Marvel Studios, James Spader, Ultron, Ben Affleck, DC Comics, Man of Steel, Iron Man 3Then, too, there were petitions to the president of the United States demanding that he overturn the Affleck decision (as if he could). Interestingly enough, I haven’t been able to find one single petition calling for Mr. Obama to tell Marvel just who they can or can’t hire!

Granted, Ultron is not nearly the level of character that Batman is. And we’re not sure how Ultron will appear on the big screen. He could be CGI or animated, for example.

Personally, I want ALL comics-related films to do well because that should mean even more of them! I’m of a mind that the more movies we get based on comics, the better our chance is for higher quality filmmaking.

And several other comics have been optioned recently, including Image’s Hoax Hunters and Day Men. I can’t wait to see them hit the big screen, too!

Yeah, DC’s got some ground to make up when it comes to movies, but I think they can take the New 52 and turn them into films much as Marvel has done with their Ultimate Universe.

I’LL STILL GIVE SPADER THE BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT, MUCH AS I AM AFFLECK.

I always love the term, “guaranteed hit.” Certain directors, certain writers, certain actors even mean instant success in show biz. But is that always true?

I could fill up the rest of this column with “guaranteed hits” that crashed and burned when they debuted in theaters. You can probably make up your own list as well.

I’m always taken with things that come apparently out of nowhere to become huge money-makers, like the Harry Potter series of novels and films.

MARVEL VERSUS DC IS HEALTHY COMPETITION FOR THE INDUSTRY.

Iron Man 3 is still the highest-earning film so far in 2013, but Man of Steel has also done well in box offices around the world. That’s a good thing!

I think there’s room for plenty more comics-related movies as well. Hey, I wouldn’t mind seeing Rust, Masks vs. Mobsters, Ghosted (if it hasn’t been picked up yet) or Captain Midnight getting the green light, too.

Also, Bradley Cooper has been hired to voice Rocket Raccoon in the live-action Guardians of the Galaxy coming in the next couple of years. It’s great that name actors want to be included in comics-related movies going forward.

So, while there won’t be any Ultfleck in your future, maybe you’ll enjoy Spadetron instead!