Monday, May 17, 2010

News - 05/17/10...

Iron Man 2 still tops; Robin opens in second

Iron Man 2 rocketed to the top of the May 14 weekend box office, the second week in a row, with a respectable $53 million in domestic ticket sales, pushing Robin Hood to second place in its debut.

Robin Hood took in an estimated $37.1 million in its opening, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Meanwhile, Iron Man 2 saw its domestic take drop 59 percent from its week-earlier opening, pretty good considering it dominated the weekend in its premiere. The sequel's domestic total rose to $212.2 million, exceeding the $177.8 million second-weekend total for 2008's original Iron Man.

Winnie the Pooh gets a release date

Box Office Mojo lists July 15, 2011 as the release date for Disney's upcoming Winnie the Pooh feature. Directed by Stephen J. Anderson and Don Hall, the traditionally animated sequel will feature the voices of Craig Ferguson, Jim Cummings and Peter Cullen.

Charlie Kaufman polishing Kung Fu Panda sequel

Charlie Kaufman, the Academy award winning writer behind films such as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Adaptation and Being John Malkovich has just put in less than two weeks worth of script work on the Kung Fu Panda sequel, reports Heatvision Blog. DreamWorks Animation’s Kung Fu Panda: The Kaboom of Doom will be out in theatres in 2011.

Pres-Aid Update

Here's an update via his Facebook page, which is a group to assist and publicize a benefit art auction for Pres Romanillos. Pres is a friend and animator who is awaiting a bone marrow transplant for a relapse of leukemia.

Subject: Check out; and get the word out!

Hi everyone,

There are now over 80 pieces of art on the website (; in case you haven't checked it out lately. We have some AMAZING pieces, and some really big ones to be posted soon (like a stunning Drew Struzen).

Since we're getting closer to the date of the auction, now is the time to spread the word. If you're active in any other animation or illustration groups/websites/forums, please post links to the website and basic information about Pres and the auction. This is our greatest need right now--advertising of the event. Thanks in advance!

Battle of "Idiots" in India as legal fight looms

There's only room for three idiots, says an Indian director who's threatening a lawsuit against the maker of an animated film.

Vidhu Vinod Chopra, producer of 3 Idiots, has sent a legal notice to Biswaroop Roy Chowdhury, producer and director of The 4th Idiot, alleging violation of copyright.

An animated movie, The 4th Idiot was inspired by the Bollywood hit 3 Idiots. It had its world premiere Sunday at the World Unity Convention Centre in Lucknow.

"You have used the name of our movie, its story (including scenario, screenplay, dialogues, etc.), characters for publicizing and promoting your film," the notice said. It asked the animated film's makers to "immediately cease and desist, from advertising, promoting and/or publicising your movie The 4th Idiot and in any event using the name of our movie 3 Idiots, its story, characters in any form /manner through any media/medium for any reason whatsoever.

"A copy of this letter is being sent to the World Unity Convention Centre as a measure of abundant precaution. We reserve all our rights and remedies whether at law or otherwise including but not limited to issuance of public notice informing your violation and infringement of our rights."

Replied Chowdhury: "Yes, we have received the notice. We have not violated any copyright law." He added: "We are in a safe zone. I think it is a case of misunderstanding."

Chowdhury says that his movie didn't borrow from Chopra's film, but took an "inspiration" from it. "Everything is inspired by something -- we don't invent things out of [a] vacuum, and that is the case with my film -- but the plotline is completely different from 3 Idiots," the director said.

The producer-director added that he planned a formal reply.

Dry Fish

This is one of those “love it or hate it” experimental pieces. London based designer/director Andy Martin has just completed a new animated short called Dry Fish. Martin details his thought process on his blog:

“Sometime you find yourself in a place that you just can’t explain and quite often it can be a little bit worrying. This animated short tells of one such occasion as our hero tries to express his feelings in the only way he can…via the medium of song.”

(Thanks Cartoon Brew)

Why For does Howard Stark look like Walt Disney in “Iron Man 2” ?

Jim Hill’s back with even more answers to your Disney-related questions. This time around, he reveals who the real inspiration for Tony Stark’s father is. He also points out the obvious parallels between the look & layout of the Stark Expo and the 1964 New York World’s Fair

IronManFan236 sent in a question that was short & sweet:

Did Marvel Studios deliberately make Howard Stark look like Walt in “Iron Man 2” as a tribute / tip-of-the-hat to the Disney acquisition deal?

Iron Man 2, the Movie: Copyright 2010 MVL Film Finance LLC. Iron Man, the character:
TM & Copyright 2010 Marvel Entertainment, LLC & subs. All Rights Reserved

Dear IronManFan236,

Not exactly, no.

Don’t get me wrong. As you watch that footage in “Iron Man 2” where John Slattery play Tony Stark’s father, it's clear that the filmmakers wanted you to get a Walt Disney-like vibe off of this character. Especially during those ads for “Stark Expo ‘74” when Howard's image is placed over an Epcot-like model.

Iron Man 2, the Movie: Copyright 2010 MVL Film Finance LLC. Iron Man, the character:
TM & Copyright 2010 Marvel Entertainment, LLC & subs. All Rights Reserved

But beyond that … When you consider that “Iron Man 2” was shot from April 6th through July 18, 2009 – more importantly, that principal photography of this Jon Favreau film had been completed a full six weeks before The Walt Disney Company revealed that it would be acquiring Marvel Entertainment, Inc. – there’s just no way that any of this Walt Disney / Howard Stark stuff could be a deliberate tip-of-the-hat to the acquisition.

>Iron Man 2, the Movie: Copyright 2010 MVL Film Finance LLC. Iron Man, the character:
TM & Copyright 2010 Marvel Entertainment, LLC & subs. All Rights Reserved

I mean, you've got to remember that these negotiations were reportedly conducted in complete secrecy. I’m heard that – at one point last summer – there were only six people at Disney & six people at Marvel who knew that this deal was in the works. So the chances that Favreau would have learned about this back in 2008 and then asked Justin Theroux to throw lots of Disney references into his “Iron Man 2” screenplay are nill.

Iron Man 2, the Movie: Copyright 2010 MVL Film Finance LLC. Iron Man, the character
TM & Copyright 2010 Marvel Entertainment, LLC & subs. All Rights Reserved

That said, it was still pretty sweet & smart of “Iron Man 2” composer John Debney to reach out to Richard M. Sherman so that this Academy Award-winner could then craft a Disney-like anthem – “Make Way For Tomorrow Today” – for this film’s Howard Stark scenes.

Iron Man 2, the Movie: Copyright 2010 MVL Film Finance LLC.
Iron Man, the character: TM & Copyright 2010 Marvel Entertainment, LLC & subs. All Rights Reserved

And then when you factor in J. Michael Riva (i.e. “Iron Man 2” ‘s production designer)’s decision to have the Stark Expo echo the look & layout of the actually 1964 New York World’s Fair …

The Unisphere then …

… a design choice like that is certainly going to resonate with Disneyana enthusiasts and theme park history buffs.

By the way, if you were to make a trip out to Flushing Meadows today, you’d find that the Unisphere is still in surprisingly good shape.

… and the Unisphere now.

But as for the New York State Pavilion (which served at the inspiration for the Stark Industries building in “Iron Man 2”) …

… that structure has clearly seen better days.

Thankfully, back in September of last year, the New York State Board for Historic Preservation voted unanimously voted to add this long-abandoned building (which was originally designed by famed architect Philip Johnson) to that state’s Register of Historic Places.

The board also has plans to nominate this iconic structure (which – in its currently-crumpled state – has served as a setting for films like “The Wiz” & “Men in Black” as well as TV shows like CSI) as a national landmark. Which would then make the New York State Pavilion eligible for state & federal grants that could be used to first stabilize & then spruce up this structure.

Theme park history buffs particularly hope that the floor of the rotunda (which features a 130-by-166-foot terrazzo recreation of a New York State road map circa 1963) can be saved.

And speaking of maps … If you’d like to check a 3D recreation of what Stark Expo ’74 was supposed to have been like, then I suggest that you got check out this very cool “Iron Man 2” –related website.

Anyway – to get back to your question, IronManFan236 -- though Favreau clearly intended that Howard Stark have sort of a Walt-ish vibe to him, this honestly wasn’t done as some sort of aren't-we-cute acknowledgment of Disney’s acquisition of Marvel Entertainment, Inc. There’s just no way – given the level of secrecy that was involved with these negotiations. More to the point, given when principal photography of “Iron Man 2” wrapped and when this deal was officially announced – that this rumor could have any basis in reality.

Besides, were you to ask any good Marvel fan where “Iron Man” creator Stan Lee got his inspiration for industrialist Howard Stark, they’d tell you outright that it was Howard Hughes. Which explains Tony Stark’s father’s first name, Howard.

Iron Man 2, the Movie: Copyright 2010 MVL Film Finance LLC.
Iron Man, the character: TM & Copyright 2010 Marvel Entertainment, LLC & subs. All Rights Reserved

If you’d like to see one of your own Disney-related questions answered as part of a future Why For column, please send it along to

Three Dee Diz

Visiting the hat building this morning, I got a taste of fresh Disney product ...

The flat-screen monitors in the lobby hallway have a big chunk of unfinished animation (and by unfinished, I mean that there's no lighting,texturing, or finaling.) Upstairs an animator said:

"We're working fifty-hour weeks, but it'd be nice to know what we're doing next.

"I think the picture is pretty good. It's a lot like a Broadway musical, like the features from the early nineties. Songs are good ..."

I have no idea about the overall quality of the feature, but from the finaled shots I've seen on first-floor computer screens, the art direction is gorgeous.

Downstairs in the big, first-floor theater, Diz Co. was showing the 3-D version Beauty and the Beast to employees. I snuck in the back with polarized glasses and stood against a wall taking it in.

The Three Dee works like gangbusters. Subtle, compelling, it doesn't look like some kind of cheesy add-on technology at all. (Hand-drawn dimensional features can be effective.) The entire picture is done, but won't be released until 2011.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Kung Fu II

Kung Fu Panda Deux, which is housed one-floor below The Croods on DWA's Glendale campus, gets buffed to a high gleam ...

Charlie Kaufman, the Oscar-winning writer behind “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” and films such as “Adaptation” and “Being John Malkovich,” has headed off into an unexpected direction: animation.

The scribe is coming off of less than two weeks worth of work on DreamWorks Animation’s
“Kung Fu Panda: The Kaboom of Doom,” ... His work on “Kaboom” falls under the polish category, and animated movies tend to be worked on by multiple writers, so it’s not fair to say this will be a Kaufman cartoon.

DreamWorks, Disney and others often use high-end writers on their animated features. The days when the board artists and maybe an in-house scribe did all the heavy lifting are long gone. The stakes (with some exceptions) have grown too large to allow that kind of old-time cartoon making.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Maytime Linkage

As the weekend rolls over us, we give you various news you can chew (mentally).

Cal Arts put on its annual producers showcase, where the best and the brightest project their student films and animation divisions for many of the major movie and t.v. producers herd prime student-candidates onto buses and haul them off to L.A. production facilities.

... CalArts put on their annual Producers Show, showcasing some of the best work created by the school’s character animation students. CalArts has cultivated the premier program in animation and to watch this show is to glimpse the future of the field. Little wonder industry types and students alike packed the expansive Leonard H. Goldenson hall to catch the 24 shorts included on the bill. ...

(I went to some of these in the nineties. Back then, they were like frenetic bidding auctions for the services of different up-and-coming artists.) ...

The voice cast of Shrek waxes nostalgic as the franchise (maybe) wraps up:

Q. How does it feel for you that the “Shrek” series is coming to an end?

Mike Myers:
I think it’s very elegant. They only made a few “Fawlty Towers,” and I love that they did that. I think that they’ve managed to keep the integrity of the series. It’s all about that one line: “But you are beautiful to me,” from the first movie. By the ogre falling in love with the ogre girl, he is saying: “I too am beautiful. And you too you are also beautiful.” ...

(And we'll see if this is really and truly the last one ...)

SPA goes long and uncorks a high arching pass downfield.

Sony Pictures Animation has pre-emptively picked up rights to the Atari video game "Rollercoaster Tycoon," and is developing the project as a live-action/CGI hybrid.

"Tycoon" franchise, created by Chris Sawyer, is a popular series of computer games that simulate a combination of designing roller coasters and amusement park management. ...

Leonard Maltin overviews the long cinematic history of Robin Hood (including two Disney versions).

... [I]f I were to pick the Robin most deserving of rediscovery it would be Richard Todd in Walt Disney’s 1952 British-made adventure The Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men. Disney’s own animated movie, made some twenty years later, put this live-action film further in the shade, a fate it doesn’t deserve.

Having enjoyed great success with his live-action Treasure Island in 1950, Walt Disney continued producing films in England, largely because the British government wouldn’t allow him or other Hollywood producers to take the pounds their films had earned out of the country. So Walt hired a first-rate team of British filmmakers to create a series of costume pictures under the supervision of Walt’s man from Hollywood, a creative producer named Perce Pearce. ...

Mr. Pearce worked for Disney from the mid 1930s until his sudden death from a heart attack in 1955.

Since you were no doubt aching to know which ones they were, Josh Jackson names "The Forty Best Cartoon Characters of All Time." (Of course this covers all past and future characters.)

38. Sylvester J. Pussycat & Tweety
Created: 1945. Creator: Friz Freleng. Voice: Mel Blanc
Mel Blanc kept the different speech impediments straight while voicing both cat and bird for Looney Tunes ....

(Funny, I would have had tweety Bird pegged as 33rd greatest, or maybe 32nd. Shows what I know.)

Lastly, features Japanese posters of Disney and Pixar animated films.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Most Americans reject any "South Park" censorship

Many adults in the United States believe that the animated sitcom South Park should be allowed to feature any images they want, according to a poll released Saturday by Canadian-based Angus Reid Public Opinion.

While 51% of respondents agree with this view, 28% believe South Park should not feature any images that may offend specific religions. Another 21% are unsure.

In the U.S., South Park has been broadcast on the Comedy Central TV network since 1997. The animated sitcom is intended for a mature audience.

South Park's 200th episode -- which premiered April 14 -- included a depiction of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed inside a bear costume. Many Muslims consider any physical representation of Prophet Mohammed to be blasphemous.

An organization called Revolution Muslim protested the show's depiction of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed on its Web site, claiming that South Park's creators -- Matt Stone and Trey Parker -- would "probably wind up like Theo Van Gogh."

In November 2004, controversial filmmaker Theo Van Gogh was murdered in the Netherlands. Van Gogh directed a short motion picture that depicts a husband's abuse on a Muslim woman.

Death threats to Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders and other former People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) members were left at the crime scene. Wilders went on to create the Party for Freedom (PvdV).

Earlier this month, Parker discussed the situation, saying, "It starts with giving up your right to free speech in the name of safety, but then what? Are we going to start making women wear burqas if people keep threatening to blow us up otherwise? Where is the line? Where does it end?"

On September 30, 2005, the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten accompanied an article on censorship and freedom of the press with 12 cartoons depicting Muslim Prophet Mohammed. The two most contentious drawings show Mohammed with a bomb for a turban, and greeting suicide bombers in heaven.

In early 2006, several European newspapers and media outlets decided to reprint the cartoons. Public protests occurred in more than a dozen countries, and the embassies of Denmark and Norway in Syria -- as well as the Danish consulate in Lebanon and an Italian consulate in Libya -- were torched by mobs.

For its poll of South Park, Angus Reid conducted online interviews with 1,004 American adults from April 30 to May 3. The margin of error is 3.1%.

Harryhausen at the Academy

Last night the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences opened it’s incredible Chuck Jones exhibit - a must-see for any animation fan living in or visiting the Los Angeles area this summer - but I’ve neglected to mention here the Academy’s equally incredible Ray Harryhausen installation. Located in the 4th Floor Gallery, this is a vital show for anyone with the slightest interest in animation, special effects or fantasy films.

Harryhausen’s original storyboards, paintings and production sketches from just about all his films are on view, along with video clips, behind-the-scenes photographs, original movie posters and of course - the stars of the show - the actual models themselves: the Kraken, the Cyclops, the Skeletons, the flying saucers and dinosaurs we’ve admired all our lives.

The Fantastical Worlds of Ray Harryhausen is free and open to the public to view during business hours Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on weekends, noon to 6 p.m. through August 22nd. The Academy’s galleries are located at 8949 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills and will be closed for the Memorial Day (May 29 and 30) and Independence Day (July 3 and 4) holiday weekends.

(Thanks Cartoon Brew)

DC Comics Sues Siegels' Attorney

The Wall Street Journal reports that DC Comics, and its parent company Warner Brothers have issue a lawsuit against Marc Toberoff, the LA-based attorney who represents the family of Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel.

The suit was filed in federal court in Los Angeles after months of trying and failing to settle with the heirs.

The suit mentions that during their lifetime, Siegel and co-creator Joe Shuster have never attempted to terminate DC's copyrights to Superman and that their families have agreed to lifetime compensation agreements. It also mentions that Toberoff have "schemed" a way into having the Siegels to get full control of the copyrights, and having a financial stake in the copyright claims as well.

The claim also states that Toberoff has violated the U.S. Copyright Act and other laws "by trafficking in federal copyright interests and interfering with contractual rights and other interests."

Warner is seeking damages from Toberoff, but not from his clients.

You can read the complaint here.

French Animation

France is doing beaucoup animation just now. Despicable Me comes out later this year, and some newer projects are rolling.

French film studio EuropaCorp. has partnered with HP to make an animated feature film version of Mathias Malzieu's novel "The Boy with the Cuckoo-Clock Heart" for a fall 2011 release. ... Malzieu will direct the €20 million ($25 million) project alongside Stephane Berla, with EuropaCorp. producer and Luc Besson's wife Virginie Besson-Silla set to produce in association with France's Duran Duboi

... After their
"Arthur" franchise, EuropaCorp. is expanding into the animated realm with another 3D animated feature "A Monster in Paris," set to hit French theaters at Christmas.

EuropaCorp. is the studio of Luc Besson, whose current wife is one of the producers of Cuckoo-Clock Heart. Besson is one of the more prolific and profitable French film-makers.

Over a 30-year career [Besson] has not only directed 10 features ... but has also written and produced dozens more, including a handful of the most commercially successful French movies ever. ... [H]is "Arthur and the Invisibles " — a Harry Potteresque children's adventure that is a hybrid of live action and innovative 3-D animation — has earned nearly $110 million. ...

Arthur did well in Europe, but the Weinstein Co. took a major bath releasing the film stateside. More's the pity.

Happily, the non-traction of French c.g. features hasn't poisoned the Gallic appetite for le animation. We'll find out what sort of hunger American audiences possess for French product when Despicable rolls out this Fall and Cuckoo-Clock Heart opens the next.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Upcoming Anime in Japan


Mazinkaizer SKL
Kaidan Restaurant
Hen Zemi
Negima! Magic World
Sora no Woto

The new Code Geass anime


The buzz is that Jin-Roh director Hiroyuki Okiura has been attached to a new project, with Tetsuya Nishio involved


The adaptation of Osamu Tezuka's Buddha is scheduled for a 5.28.11 release


Junichi Sato and the folks behind Kaleido Star are cooking up a new anime

via Anime News Network

Gainax's new project will be Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt - to be directed by Hiroyuki Imaishi (Gurren Lagann, Dead Leaves) with Masahiko Otsuka (FLCL, Gurren Lagann, Pom Poko) assisting.

Atsushi Nishigori is on characters, with concept art by Yoh Yoshinari and Shigeto Koyama (Eureka Seven, Gunbuster 2, Gurren Lagann) coordinating.


Ghibli co-founder Isao Takahata's 1979 Anne of Green Gables: Road to Green Gables tv series has been compiled into a movie, to screen theatrically in July

The Anime Business

Publishers Weekly reports Viz Media laid off as many as 55 people in their San Francisco headquarters closed its New York office, which had about 5 staffers, has been closed. The number of staff released represents about 40% of the employees at Viz Media.

In a formal statement, the company confirmed the layoffs although a company spokesperson declined to respond to specific questions about the numbers of employees released. In the statement, Viz acknowledged that it is “restructuring to adjust to changing industry and financial market realities,” and said it “had to refine its workforce by eliminating certain positions and making cuts in other areas.” The statement goes on to say that “we are of course saddened by these departures,” but that “we feel confident that with these changes, Viz Media will be more streamlined and able to withstand the climate of the economy at this time.”

Viz released the statement

VIZ Media is in the process of refining its focus and is restructuring to adjust to changing industry and financial market realities.

As part of the restructuring the company had to refine its workforce by eliminating certain positions and making cuts in other areas.

We are of course saddened by these departures, and sincerely appreciate the hard work, passion and dedication of those that have moved on, but we feel confident that with these changes VIZ Media will be more streamlined and able to withstand the climate of the economy at this time.

This restructuring was not insignificant; however, this was primarily an internal reprioritization to build toward our future. We wish to apologize to our wonderful fans if this news has caused you concern. Be assured VIZ Media remains committed in its obligations to you. We have no plans at this time for drastic measures such as product cancellations or business line closures. Your favorite series are not going away.

The Beat collections reactions and offers commentary

ICV2 on some of the structural changes

CEO of localization company Bang Zoom!, Eric P. Sherman post open letter Anime – R.I.P.

If what I’m saying resonates with you, then consider this a wake up call. A call to immediate and profound action. It’s very easy to do. You should support anime if you love it, by paying for it. Do the right thing. Plain and simple. Because if you don’t, I can guarantee you that this time next year, Bang Zoom won’t be bringing you anymore English language versions of it.

Sherman also appeared on ANNCast on which he said that Bandai Entertainment, a company for which Bang Zoom has dubbed anime, has the second season of Haruhi Suzumiya and one other major title for 2010, and, according to Sherman, if those do not sell, Bandai Entertainment (the North American anime distribution label, will be closed.

Bandai Entertainment sent Anime News Network a response, stating

In response to Mr. Sherman's comments and how they were interpreted, Bandai Entertainment has no plans to close down. We actually had a very good year in 2009 and good results in the first quarter of 2010. We have new titles to announce soon and we will be exhibiting at Anime Expo, Otakon, and New York Anime Festival this year. Mr. Sherman's speculations about the state of the anime industry are interesting, but not accurate as it pertains to Bandai Entertainment, except in regard to the point that he was actually trying to make that if the market trend continues where there is little support for dubbed anime products, we may unfortunately discontinue creating dubs and focus on sub-only releases. Hopefully this does not happen. We continue to be grateful to the fans that support our business.

From Ken Iyadomi, President of Bandai Entertainment.


Adrian Brown's Suspended Animation about the problems besetting the anime industry

Hashimoto's studio is faring better than most, though, but the industry's troubles are taking a toll on its workers, like 21-year-old Yuichi Namiki. Yuichi works in almost monastic silence. It's painstaking work that requires precision and intense concentration, and he does this for up to 12 hours a day, six days a week. Most animators are paid per sketch and the fee has barely changed in 30 years.

YUICHI NAMIKI, ANIME ARTIST (Translation): If I can work a bit harder, draw faster and increase the speed I turn out drawings and work longer hours, I think I can manage.

Yuichi tells me he earns about $900 a month - not enough to rent a room in the world's most expensive city so for now he still lives at home.

YUICHI NAMIKI (Translation): I want to live alone. But if I don't have enough work I can't pay my expenses and I'll probably have to quit. It'll be hard.

Event News

NYCIFF began screening Mia & The Migoo this weekend Sat & Sun May 15, 16, 22, 23 - 11am - IFC Center (323 Sixth Ave at West Third)

Created from an astounding 500,000 hand-painted frames of animation, the gorgeous second feature from French animator Jacques-Remy Girerd is a work of art, breathtaking to behold. Figures are outlined in pencil and then bathed in rustic watercolors, for a stunning, handcrafted look with backgrounds that burst at the seams with painterly detail, like a Miyazaki film painted by Van Gogh.

One night Mia has a premonition. So she bids goodbye to her elderly aunt caretakers and sets out on a cross-continent journey to find her father, who has been trapped in a landslide at a disaster-plagued construction site on a remote tropical lake. In the middle of the lake stands the ancient, gnarled Tree of Life, watched over by stone-like forest spirits, called Migoo - innocent, almost bumbling creatures who can grow and change shape as they please, morphing from small childlike beings to petulant giants. It is the Migoo who have been sabotaging the construction to protect this sacred site - and now together with Mia, they join in a fight to find Mia's father and save the Tree from destruction.

Worth Checking Out...


Ani no Miyako's Talented up-and-coming animators
part 2 (Hiroyasu Oda
Part 3 - Yoshimichi Kameda

April animation retrospectives


Evangelion is going the Gundam route with a life sized model, a bust is being built at Fujikyu Highland
That Gundam will be getting a beam saber

A Evangelion augmented reality tour, set to tie into the Lawson's propotion was cancelled due to complaints from neighbors

Imagi Astro Boy storyboards

'S.H.I.E.L.D.' Movie To Follow 'The Avengers,' Says Samuel L. Jackson

At the beginning of last year, Samuel L. Jackson signed a long term deal with Marvel Studios to portray Nick Fury in as many as nine films. And after Fury's appearance in "Iron Man 2," Jackson is already set to reprise his role in "The First Avenger: Captain America" and "The Avengers."

However, at the time there was also speculation that Jackson would star in a film based directly around Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D., which Jackson seemed to confirm recently.

During an appearance on Radio Big Boy (via Cinema Blend). Jackson said
“'The Avengers' should start shooting some time next year, and then some time after that there’ll be a big 'S.H.I.E.L.D.' movie.”

A Nick Fury or a "S.H.I.E.L.D." movie would probably fulfill Jackson's promise that Fury would "kill somebody" during his upcoming appearances.

Cinema Blend also pointed out that Jackson got a few details wrong during the interview, including mistakenly identifying Chris Pines as Thor instead of Chris Hemsworth and seemingly forgetting that Chris Evans will play the title role in "Captain America." However, Jackson has already spoken with MTV News last month regarding Evan's casting as Captain America.

The potential "S.H.I.E.L.D." movie would actually be the second time Nick Fury has headlined a film. Back in the '90s, David Hasselhoff starred as Nick Fury in a TV movie that aired on Fox.

Chris Hemsworth On His 'Thor' Costume: 'It's Not Very Comfortable, But It Looks Amazing'

The secrecy of director Kenneth Branagh's adaptation of "Thor" has been so great, that even though filming is currently winding down, only a single shot of Chris Hemsworth in his Thor costume has emerged online.

And while Thor's outfit appears to be taken directly from the recent "Thor" run by J. Michael Straczynski and Olivier Coipel, the costume was extremely uncomfortable, according to Hemsworth.

"I put the [costume] on and said 'It’s not very comfortable, but it looks amazing, so it’s all good.'" during an interview with Superhero Hype. "And then a couple of weeks in, I thought 'It’s getting more and more uncomfortable,' and at the end of three, four months it was a pretty difficult thing to wake up and put on every morning. But it’s sells such an image in the picture. It does a lot of the work for you."

"We just kept trying to humanize it all, and keep it very real," continued Hemsworth. "[We looked] into all the research about the comic books that we could, but also bring it back to 'Who is this guy as a person, and what’s his relationship with people in the individual scenes?' And working with someone like Kenneth Branagh, who has all those bases covered and has so many ideas, it was a hell of a time!"

Hemsworth also revealed that he has finished shooting his part in "Thor" and also offered his take on the post-credits scene in "Iron Man 2."

"I just finished shooting ['Thor'] last Thursday, and saw 'Iron Man 2' the other day — which I loved — and saw the tag at the end," related Hemsworth. "I was with a bunch of mates and we all got kind of giddy watching it. I can’t wait! It was such an incredible four months shooting that film, and I think the film’s going to be fantastic."

"Thor" will bring down the lightning in theaters on May 06, 2011.

Edward Norton Explains What Will Bring Him Back For 'The Avengers'

Aside from online message boards and chat rooms, no one seems to want to talk about "The Avengers" these days (on the record, that is). While part of this is likely due to legality issues and punishment-of-death mandates from Marvel Studios, the other aspect is that it’s probably too soon for anyone to know anything — save rumored director Joss Whedon himself.

Nevertheless, MTV News continued our search for new information when we recently spoke to “Incredible Hulk” star Edward Norton about his new charitable fundraising portal,

Norton said he hadn't seen “Iron Man 2” yet, but planned to “check it out” as soon as he found time and could get a ticket. He also added that he hasn't yet met or conversed with Whedon, but was kind enough to inquire about our thoughts on a Whedon-penned "Avengers." (We deferred to the fan community’s undying love for Whedon properties).

Now, to the important question: whether he might be involved — or would even want to be involved — in any upcoming "Avengers" projects.

"Well, if people want it all to come together, they’ve got to email Marvel and say, 'This is what I want,'" Norton hesitantly responded.

So, you heard it here first, folks: In order to get Edward Norton into "The Avengers" as Bruce Banner, Marvel must be inundated with email requests... starting now.

Heroes is dead, but NBC picks up Batman-like Cape

Summer Glau

NBC picked up the Batman-esque-sounding The Cape, along with three other series to round out its scripted series orders, and Chuck was officially renewed for a fourth season, the network announced today in a statement. The other series included the dramas Outlaw and Harry's Law and the comedy Friends With Benefits.

Meanwhile, news has broken that NBC has canceled the ailing superhero drama Heroes after four seasons, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed blog. The news is hardly a surprise: The show has been limping along in the ratings for several seasons.

After ending its fourth season to terrible ratings, speculation had been going on for months as to whether Heroes would get a shot at one final season, or perhaps even a two-hour movie, to finish up its story.

Given the high cost of the show, the bottom-of-the-barrel ratings and the fact that Heroes hasn't been around to build any buzz, it spelled doom for the series.

With regard to its new shows, "the addition of these four inventive series to our new scripted lineup demonstrates a wide spectrum of creative stories," said NBC prime-time entertainment president Angela Bromstad in a statement. "We are featuring popular, top-flight stars along with a strong pedigree of successful writer-producers. Likewise, Chuck has proven its enduring appeal and we love the new creative direction that Josh and Chris have taken the show."

The Cape stars David Lyons and everybody's favorite TV terminator, Summer Glau. Here's the official description of the series:

The Cape is a one-hour drama series starring David Lyons (ER) as Vince Faraday, an honest cop on a corrupt police force, who finds himself framed for a series of murders and presumed dead. He is forced into hiding, leaving behind his wife, Dana (Jennifer Ferrin, Life on Mars) and son, Trip (Ryan Wynott, Flash Forward). Fueled by a desire to reunite with his family and to battle the criminal forces that have overtaken Palm City, Faraday becomes The Cape his son's favorite comic book superhero—and takes the law into his own hands. Rounding out the cast are James Frain (The Tudors) as billionaire Peter Fleming—The Cape's nemesis—who moonlights as the twisted killer: Chess; Keith David (Death at a Funeral) as Max Malini, the ringleader of a circus gang of bank robbers who mentors Vince Faraday and trains him to be The Cape; Summer Glau (Firefly, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles) as Orwell, an investigative blogger who wages war on crime and corruption in Palm City; and Dorian Missick (Six Degrees) as Marty Voyt, a former police detective and friend to Faraday.

The new shows join several already-announced series, including J.J. Abrams' Undercovers and the conspiracy thriller The Event.

NBC will officially announce its schedule on Monday, May 17.

Alvin Sargent spit-shining 'Spider-Man' reboot (exclusive)

Alvin Sargent is back in Spider-Man’s web.

The veteran screenwriter (and repeat Spidey scribe) has been brought on board to fine-tune Columbia’s "Spider-Man" reboot being directed by Marc Webb.

The studio is working off a script by Jamie Vanderbilt, who wrote “Zodiac” and a draft of “Spider-Man 4” before the studio scrapped its plans for the sequel to re-start the series. Sargent is doing a production polish as the studio runs with eight legs toward a planned shoot later this year.

Sargent, 83, is practically part of the Peter Parker family, having worked on every single “Spider-Man” movie. The acclaimed writer of hefty dramas like 1980s “Ordinary People” and 1973’s “Paper Moon" has become the studio’s go-to guy for punching up weighty scenes. The new “Spider-Man” is rumored to be more emotionally anchored and realistic than the previous movies. Word is that Peter Parker will be a 17-year-old high school kid struggling with shifting hormones and an outsider status. And let’s not forget the death of his uncle.

Sargent did uncredited rewrite work on the first “Spider-Man” and shared credit on “Spider-Man 2” and “Spider-Man 3.” He was in the middle of working on “Spider-Man 4” when the plug was pulled.

(Thanks Heat Vision)

Valhalla Rising Director Would Love To Make Wonder Woman

Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn says he feels Wonder Woman is a movie he was "born to make"!...

You may have seen some or all of Refn's pictures. He has directed the Pusher series and Bronson and his latest Viking bloodbath Valhalla Rising is making big waves at the moment. In a BBC interview, Refn spoke about how if he was to ever turn his attention to more studio friendly fare, there is only one movie for him...

After Valhalla Rising I thought the most surprising thing for me would be to go to Los Angeles and do a studio movie. Coming from a movie where I had complete control — I also own the movie — and had complete, kind of like, accessibility around me, and then going to Hollywood and doing a film within the studio, which is very much the opposite, I thought could be a very interesting experience for me.

I guess one of the aims I am having, but at the very early stage, I always wanted to do Wonder Woman as a feature film…Well, I would say that Wonder Woman is probably something that, to me, would be not just a satisfaction, but almost a [catharsis], and I was born to make it.

The WW stuff is around 6:56.

Refn's next movie is Drive with Ryan Gosling and brings him a bit closer to what would be considered mainstream. Of course this doesn't mean anything for now, its just wishful thinking. But several directors have recently revealed in interviews that they have certain CBM dream projects and then turned out to be(however loosely) linked to the films. Samuel Bayer said he woulkd love to direct The Boys and it turned out he was in contention, and more recently Splice director Vinceno Natali spoke about a Swamp Thing film. Now as Brent's article from yesterday reveled, that movie would appear to be a no go..but after Natali's interest it shows that he had some knowledge of Joel Silver's plans for it. Either way, having seen Bronson and the clips for Valhalla, Refn would certainly be an outside of the box choice! But perhaps thats exactly what a film like Wonder Woman needs.

Check out the trailer for Valhalla Rising and tell me what you think..

(Thanks Comic Book Movie)

Newly restored, 'Metropolis' is now 'powered by a torrent of narrative energy'

Los Angeles Times film critic Kenneth Turan has exciting news for fans of "Metropolis," a signature moment in sci-fi film and a true classic of silent-movie era. This is a longer version of his recent Los Angeles Times Calendar article.

Can anything be more satisfying than finding the last missing pieces to a puzzle, the critical elements that make the whole thing make sense at last? Turning the discovery even sweeter is finding those precious pieces after more than 80 years of fruitless searching, which is why the theatrical release of the newly reconstituted "Metropolis" has electrified the early-film world.

As of this past Friday, audiences will be able to see how good it is that what was lost was found, will understand why one grateful expert has said this is "akin to recovering lost books of the Bible.

For the first time since its debut in 1927, a two-hour-and-27-minute version of Fritz Lang's masterwork — a version that includes 25 minutes of previously lost footage — will be generally available. To see the film as the director intended, on the big screen with an original score recorded by a 60-piece orchestra, greatly enhances the reputation of a film already considered one of the icons of the silent era.

Set in a machine-run city of the future where captains of industry live in towers and exploited workers dwell underground, "Metropolis" was the most expensive European film ever made, busting its budget on things like 310 shooting days and a reported 36,000 extras.

A broad influence on modern films — "The Bride of Frankenstein," "Blade Runner," "Dr. Strangelove," among others — "Metropolis" was not loved in its initial release and was severely truncated almost immediately.

Unbeknown to almost everyone, however, an uncut print was spirited to Argentina, where a 16 mm version was recently discovered and the missing footage from it restored at a cost of nearly $1 million.

Because that 16 mm footage was in bad shape, even restored what we see looks markedly different from the rest of the film, and one of the fascinating things about this new "Metropolis" is that it couldn't be clearer what the restored material is.

The restorers found no less than 96 places where trims had been made, and though some cut just a few seconds, others are as long as seven minutes. Bringing back these scenes restores entire subplots, makes characters more comprehensible and, in general, makes the film's story much easier to follow.

As conceived by Lang and his co-screenwriter Thea von Harbou, "Metropolis" was a film of huge ambition that took on such big themes as the nature of capital and labor and the ease of mass manipulation, and filtered them through a personal story of a young couple in love.

The boy, Freder (Gustav Fröhlich), is the son of Metropolis' ruler, a young man who lives a privileged life. One day, he catches a glimpse of Maria ( Brigitte Helm), a kind of prophetess who dreams of someone who can be the heart that mediates between the hands of the workers and the brains of the rulers.

Also interested in Maria is the crazed inventor Rotwang (Rudolf Klein-Rogge), who has a grudge against Freder's father because of a rivalry over a woman. He decides to graft Maria's face onto a robot he has invented, creating a False Maria who will incite the workers to rise up and destroy the city.

One of the things that has to be accepted about "Metropolis" is the exaggerated passions and emotions expressed by the actors. This highly stylized way of performing is not the place to look for naturalism and subtlety, but it was not unusual in its time and in a story like this, it is quite effective.

With its plot fully restored, this spanking-new "Metropolis" stands revealed as a film that is about more than its celebrated science fiction look. It's one of the most propulsive of silent films, powered by a torrent of narrative energy, and once you give yourself up to its turbulent spirit, you too will be swept away.

-- Kenneth Turan

(Thanks Hero Complex)

Dodged Bullets: 14 Actors Who Were Almost Superheroes

People criticize, but Hollywood often gets it right when casting superhero roles. Don't believe it? Look at our list of actors who almost wore tights.

Close your eyes for a moment and imagine a world that doesn’t have Christian Bale playing Batman… okay, that would probably look like the weird and wacky ’60s when Adam West was prancing about in gray tights… or maybe the adventurous ’80s and ’90s when Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer and George Clooney all took turns at slipping into black latex bat suits, a few of which sported nipples.

Alright, here’s a better example: what about a world in which Robert Downey Jr isn’t everyone’s favorite walking tin can, Iron Man. A world even crazier than the ’60s, in which Tom Cruise plays Tony Stark, Sylvester Stallone is Clark Kent, Edward Furlong is Peter Parker and Bill Murray is Bruce Wayne.

It’s a world where (speeding) bullets cannot be dodged, and those not-so-super bits of casting are a reality – and lead to even bigger train wrecks than those involving powerful locomotives.

Call it Bizarro World if you want, but each of those castings I just mentioned almost came to pass. Along with some other notable near-misses, we here at Screen Rant explore the (sordid) casting history of some of today’s hottest superhero franchises:

Tom Cruise as Iron Man

It’s obviously hard to fathom now, with RDJ slipping so perfectly into the role of Tony Stark, but it probably seemed ridiculous to some back in early 2007 when it was announced that the once down-on-his-luck Robert Downey Jr would be playing Marvel’s suave, self-made superhero, Iron Man.

Particularly when – despite a seemingly on-again, off-again relationship – it was long believed that Tom Cruise would not only eventually star as Stark, but also co-produce the character’s first foray onto the big screen. Cruise’s connection to an Iron Man movie goes back to just after the turn of the century, and intensified after Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man helped inject a new lease on life into the superhero genre.

Marvel Studios executive Kevin Feige was quoted as saying in 2004:

“There have been discussions (with Cruise) over the last several years and there are a number of factors involved. All we know is that we’re putting all the pieces in place and then we’ll find the best Tony Stark that we can get.”

Apparently Cruise finally lost interest in being apart of Iron Man due to the script at the time. It is not known whether it was the draft that centered around Stark’s father, Howard, turning out to be the villain of the piece. Said Cruise:

“I don’t know. It just … they came to me at a certain point and … when I do something, I wanna do it right. If I commit to something, it has to be done in a way that I know it’s gonna be something special. And as it was lining up, it just didn’t feel to me like it was gonna work.”

Once Marvel settled on a director in Jon Favreau- and a decent script – Favreau overlooked such actors as Clive Owen and Sam Rockwell for the lead role, stating that Downey Jr could make Stark “a likable asshole.” And RDJ delivered. Cruise, on the other hand, may have made Stark just an asshole. Sorry Tom.

Bill Murray as Batman

It is considered folklore, but back when it was a big deal: Michael Keaton being cast as Bruce Wayne in Tim Burton’s Batman caused such outrage among comic book fans, that 50,000 protest letters were sent to Warner Bros. The studio may have gotten 100,000 if Bill Murray had filled the role, as was a strong possibility for some time. It was all a symptom of the mixed-up mid-’80s, about the time when someone thought it would be a good idea to have Richard Pryor play a super-villain (in Superman III).

The Murray Batman was going to be similar in style to the campy Adam West TV show of the ’60s, but the project was eventually met with a big “Kapow!” and Warner Bros. made the right choice in hiring Tim Burton, fresh from the surprise success of Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure and Beetlejuice, who took the film in a completely different direction – towards box-office gold.

Every man and his dog was said to be in the running for the role of Burton’s Billionaire with the bat fetish - most notably Mel Gibson and Alec Baldwin – but Keaton won out, and won over the fans with his dark and disturbed portrayal of the victimized vigilante. Murray himself was glowing in his praise of Keaton.

“I would have been a fine Batman. You know, there have been a number of Batmen. I like them … I thought Mike Keaton did a great job as Batman. It’s obviously… it’s a great role.”

Jake Gyllenhaal as Batman

Speaking of dark and disturbed, Jake Gyllenhaal had played just that as the title character in cult-hit Donnie Darko. He was looking for an upgrade when he tried for the prize part of Bruce Wayne in Christopher Nolan’s Batman reboot, Batman Begins. He was said to be writer David S. Goyer’s first choice before screen-testing.

Gyllenhaal was one of the final eight actors to audition for the part, the others being Canadian Joshua Jackson, fellow Americans Eion Bailey and Billy Crudup, along with European actors Cillian Murphy, Henry Cavill, Hugh Dancy and Christian Bale, who Nolan pushed for and got, despite the actor being a real-life stick figure after appearing in The Machinist.

While Bale got the spoils, Murphy impressed Nolan so much he cast him as Dr Jonathan Crane, aka The Scarecrow. The closest that runner-up Gyllenhaal got to being involved in a Batman movie was having his sister Maggie star in The Dark Knight. Jake Gyllenhaal was apparently in talks to play DA Harvey ‘Two-Face’ Dent in that sequel, but was again overlooked, this time for Aaron Eckhart – thankfully.

While he has matured in the years since trying out for Batman Begins, and has packed on considerable muscle for the upcoming The Prince of Persia, back then Jake Gyllenhaal was certainly more suited to a Peter Parker/Spider-Man-type superhero. Of course, he just missed out there too after Tobey Maguire was able to recover from a back injury just before filming Spider-Man 2.

Speaking of Spider-Man…

Scott Leva as Spider-Man

Long before Tobey Maguire became a household name by playing the neighborhood’s friendly Spider-Man in three movies, Scott Leva was the man most likely to don the webs and mask. “Scott who?” you ask.

Leva was a professional stuntman – still is – and was the front-runner to play the web-slinger when the increasingly cash-strapped Cannon Films was desperately trying to develop a Spider-Man movie in the late ’80s. Leva had even appeared in promotional photos for Cannon, wearing the Spidey suit.

A Spider-Man movie had been in development for a number of years, first with Tobe Hooper (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) and then Joseph Zito (Invasion USA) in the director’s chair, before ongoing budget cuts by Cannon meant ongoing slashes to the script. Zito, who Cannon had replaced Hooper with, ultimately dropped out because of the film’s cheaper and cheaper handling. Albert Pyun (The Sword and the Sorcerer) replaced him.

Leva apparently read all drafts of the script, including the early one by Ted Newsom and John Brancato, which was an origin story with Otto Octavius initially a mentor to Peter Parker who becomes Spider-Man’s enemy Doc Ock after a ‘cyclotron accident’ transforms both characters. Leva told Starlog in 2002:

“It (the script) was good but it needed a little work. Unfortunately, with every subsequent rewrite by other writers, it went from good to bad to terrible.”

While Cannon – which also produced the massive flop Superman IV: The Quest for Peace – eventually gave up trying to get its Spider-Man movie made (and eventually went out of business in 1993) Pyun went on to make one of the worst superhero movies of all-time, Captain America (1990), which starred Matt Salinger.

Edward Furlong as Spider-Man

You can thank financial issues for denying us the chance to see Eddie Furlong in the red and blue spandex in the mid-90s – not to mention Arnold Schwarzenegger as Doctor Octopus. Getting Spider-Man to the big-screen became even more of a tangled web after the collapse of Cannon. The rights ended up at Carolco Pictures, at the bequest of James Cameron, who wanted to write and direct a big blockbuster.

Carolco produced Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and then planned to collaborate with Cameron again on Spider-Man. Cameron’s initial reworking of an existing script again featured arch-nemesis Doc Ock as the adversary. Having worked frequently together, Schwarzenegger was Cameron’s first choice for the villain, and Furlong (the original John Connor) was strongly considered for the hero.

Cameron also wrote a more adult ‘scriptment’, with Electro and Sandman replacing Doc Ock. Cameron’s bid to make Spider-Man is featured in the Rebecca Keegan book, The Futurist: The Life and Films of James Cameron.

In 1996, Carolco followed Cannon into that big studio heaven in the sky and left the Spider-Man movie in development hell. The company’s collapse proved the deathknell for Cameron’s vision for the web-slinger, though parts of his script did make it to Sam Raimi’s adaptation almost a decade later.

Cameron managed to jump ship and make Titanic. Schwarzenegger and Furlong didn’t fare so well. While Arnie had the dubious honor of playing Mr Freeze (in Batman and Robin), Eddie simply went cold and his career faded. Though he will be seen alongside Seth Rogen in the upcoming The Green Hornet.

Leonardo DiCaprio as Spider-Man

MGM got its hands on the Spider-Man rights from Carolco, but following much legal wheeling and dealing, traded them to Sony Pictures in 1999 for the James Bond rights. Maybe MGM thought it was a poisoned chalice?

Sony got to work right away on making Spider-Man via Columbia Pictures, using Cameron’s script treatment, but not the director himself. The company also wanted to get its hands on the star of Cameron’s record-smashing Titanic, Leonardo DiCaprio, for the prize role of Peter Parker. Freddie Prinze Jr and Jude Law were also believed to be early contenders.

In the end, only Cameron’s idea for ‘organic web-shooters’ survived the many rewrites by David Koepp and then Scott Rosenberg, and DiCaprio’s body of work remains bereft of a superhero role. Self-confessed “Spider-Man nut” Sam Raimi was hired to direct, and Scott Speedman, Jay Rodan and James Franco were among those who tested for the lead.

Raimi ultimately got his man Tobey Maguire, despite the studio’s initial reluctance to cast him because of his small stature. Maybe they had reservations about the actor after watching Wonderboys and seeing him in bed with another future superhero, Robert Downey Jr?

The rest, as they say, is history – and, despite a dodgy third entry, Raimi and Maguire’s Spider-Man trilogy is the most successful superhero franchise in history (so far). Tell me again, why are they planning a reboot?

Dougray Scott as Wolverine

Not far behind the Spider-Man franchise is X-Men, which really paved the way for the superhero genre in the 21st century after Batman and Robin ripped it to shreds at the end of the 20th. However, would X-Men have been such a success without Hugh Jackman anchoring the role of Logan, aka Wolverine?

Dougray Scott, the Scottish actor, was actually hired to play the Canadian wildman with the super-sideburns when director Bryan Singer was assembling his mutant team for X-Men in 1999. Scott was ultimately forced to pull out just as they began filming, due to scheduling conflicts with Mission: Impossible II.

In stepped the multi-talented Jackman, who grabbed the film by the scruff of the neck and got himself a Hollywood career, including his own spin-off film, X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

Jackman talked about taking over from Scott during a 2003 interview:

“I have spoken to him, I didn’t quite have the guts to say thank you, I kind of apologized more to him … he said ‘Ah, that’s Hollywood, these things happen’.”

Legend has it that before Scott and Jackman were cast, Gary Sinise, Russell Crowe, Viggo Mortensen, Aaron Eckhart and even Jean-Claude van Damme were also considered for the role of Wolverine, while Fox Studios reportedly wanted Keanu Reeves (shows what they know).

Jim Caviezel as Cyclops

While Patrick Stewart was understandably the only actor considered for the part of wheelchair-bound Professor Xavier in Bryan Singer’s X-Men, the early contenders for the role of Scott Summers (aka Cyclops) were said to be Thomas Jane, Johnny Lee Miller, Eric Mabius, Owen Wilson, Edward Burns, Edward Norton and Jude Law, with Jim Caviezel actually winning out.

However, much like Dougray Scott, Caviezel was forced to drop out due to a prior engagement – Frequency with Dennis Quaid. The role of Cyclops then went to James Marsden, and with it, platform shoes so Marsden wouldn’t look so short in comparison to the likes of Hugh Jackman (Wolverine) and Tyler Mane (Sabretooth).

Caviezel probably didn’t miss much – and may have been the one who dodged the bullet – considering that Scott Summers/Cyclops’ involvement in the X-Men series diminished more and more with each film, though his lack of screen-time in X-Men: The Last Stand was the result of Marsden’s own decision to switch comic book camps – from the Marvel universe to DC – to play Lois Lane’s fiancee in Superman Returns.

Ironically Caviezel would eventually play a ‘superhero’ of another kind – Jesus in Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, which in turn led to director Bryan Singer to disqualify him from the race to play the Man of Steel in Superman Returns. Apparently Singer didn’t want Jesus playing Superman.

Caviezel said as much in a recent interview:

“I first saw Superman with Christopher Reeve and I just thought that he set the standard there. The first one, the (Richard) Donner film, was amazing. But (Caviezel’s involvement in Singer’s new Superman) just never came to be … I think that by playing Jesus made them stay away from that, as there was too much attention drawn to it.”

Speaking of Superman...

Nicolas Cage as Superman

Superman took a long time to make his ‘return’ after the shambolic Superman IV: The Quest for Peace. A decade before Christopher Reeve-lookalike Brandon Routh became the Man of Steel for Bryan Singer’s sentimental second coming, Superman Returns, Nicolas Cage was set to slip into the red undies – or black ones – for Tim Burton.

As soon as Warner Bros. finally took full control of the rights to Superman movies in 1993, the studio planned a grand ‘re-conceiving’, Batman-style. Kevin Smith (Clerks, Dogma) was among a number of screenwriters hired by heavyweight producer Jon Peters to try and take Superman to never-before-seen heights (from a theatrical perspective).

Smith’s unique take, titled Superman Lives – which featured Supes wearing a black ‘Eradicator’ suit and battling the ominous pairing of Brainiac and Doomsday – ultimately lured Tim Burton to direct and Cage to star – though Smith allegedly wanted his old mate, Ben Affleck.

Burton eventually had Wesley Strick (who penned the A Nightmare on Elm Street remake) re-write Smith’s work – much to Smith’s chargrin – with Superman now confronted by a strange Brainiac-Lex Luthor amalgamation called Lexiac; however the studio scrapped that script, and then another one by Dan Gilroy, before eventually scrapping the entire flailing project to focus on Wild, Wild West. Judging by this 2000 interview, Burton was the one left annoyed, and rightly so.

“… I think, and this is only my opinion of course, that it wasn’t filmed because it was going to be an expensive movie, and they were a little sensitive because they were getting a lot of bad press that they had screwed up the Batman franchise … If they’d just allowed us to make the film, I think that we could have done something interesting. They made a choice. They had this, Superman, and Wild, Wild West, and they opted for that and canned this one. It’s frustrating. I like to be positive, but I really feel that I wasted a year of my life. That’s a terrible feeling.”

Cage was like a bride left at the altar: all dressed up (during a costume fitting) with nowhere to fly, and forced to fulfill a goal of playing a superhero by becoming B-grade Marvel hot-head Ghost Rider in 2007. Burton, on the other hand, has steered clear of the genre he helped mold with Batman in 1989, settling on a career filming Johnny Depp in bad makeup and crazy wigs.

More Superman near-misses…

Will Smith as Superman

Producer Jon Peters had wanted a black-suited Superman – and giant spiders – when Kevin Smith was writing the script for the mooted reboot in 1997. Peters also flirted with the possibility of a black-skinned Clark Kent a couple of years later while still trying to get Superman – any Superman – off the ground, going as far as approaching Will Smith about the role.

Apparently director Bryan Singer also sought Smith out more recently before making Superman Returns. In the end, Will Smith was never going to court such a controversial, albeit very interesting, move.

“The last Superman I got offered, the script came, and I was like, ‘There is no way I’m playing Superman!’ Because I had already done Jim West (Wild, Wild West) and you can’t be messing up white peoples’ heroes in Hollywood. You mess up white peoples’ heroes in Hollywood, you’ll never work in this town again!”

Ironically, Smith also turned down the role of Neo in The Matrix so he could appear in the commercial flop Wild, Wild West. Smith eventually went on to play Superman an alcoholic with superhero capabilities in the underwhelming Hancock.

Josh Hartnett as Superman

With Superman struggling to take off and Batman beaten to a pulp critically after the disastrous Batman and Robin, Warner Bros. looked at making a two-for-the-price-of-one Batman vs Superman blockbuster in the early ‘Naughties.’

McG (Charlie’s Angels, Terminator Salvation), and then Wolfgang Petersen (The Perfect Storm, Troy) were attached to direct an Andrew Kevin Walker script that included Clark Kent being best man at Bruce Wayne’s wedding, before the two go toe-to-toe over their differing values.

The studio had apparently wanted rising star Josh Hartnett for the Man of Steel – and Christian Bale as the Caped Crusader – but really upped the ante to get their (Super)man when the entire ‘versus’ concept was scrapped and attention turned to a screenplay by J.J. Abrams called Superman: Flyby, an origin story with a controversial difference that also deals with Superman’s death, a ‘Kryptonian heaven,’ and Supes’ subsequent resurrection.

The rugged Hartnett, viewed as the next big thing, was allegedly offered $100 million to appear in a planned trilogy, but that was believed to be the sticking point. Usual suspect Jude Law was also in talks. Brett Ratner, who was signed to direct, said in 2003:

“No star wants to sign that, but as much as I’ve told Jude and Josh my vision for the movie, I’ve warned them of the consequences of being Superman. They’ll live this character for 10 years because I’m telling one story over three movies and plan to direct all three if the first is as successful as everyone suspects.”

Even MORE Superman near misses…

Ashton Kutcher as Superman

While Warner Bros. tried to push forward with Abrams and Ratner’s Superman, a cavalcade of well-known actors young, tall and dark-haired, put their hand up for the lead role. Among them were Brendan Fraser, David Boreanaz and Ashton Kutcher, who all auditioned.

Rumored to be the front-runner after a “very, very good” screen-test, Kutcher eventually ‘punk’d’ Ratner and producers when he decided to drop himself from the race, after being spooked by the alleged ‘Superman curse.’

“… I think there’s a bit of a curse behind that role – the things that have happened to people. Also, I think once you’ve played that role then you’re just forever known as Superman. It’s kind of hard to play other things. I have a lot of other characters I’d rather play.”

Ratner soon dropped out of the project too, leaving McG to jump back on board and pick up the Superman slack. Still using Abrams’ galaxy-spanning script, McG looked to cast an unknown as the Man of Steel, and shot test footage with TV stars Jason Behr (Roswell), Henry Cavill (The Tudors) and Jared Padalecki (Supernatural).

In the end, McG was spooked himself – not by the dreaded curse but by the flight to Australia, where Warner Bros. wanted, and eventually got, its new Superman film shot. Bryan Singer braved the travel, and with him came an adequate actor to fill the big red boots, Brandon Routh.

Sylvester Stallone as Superman

While Brandon Routh was a worthy replacement, Christopher Reeve was THE perfect Clark Kent/Superman, with producer Ilya Salkind fortunately taking the unknown actor route in order to cast his lead in his Superman: The Movie.

Directed by Richard Donner, Superman was the first big-budget, big-screen superhero movie and attracted some big names. The biggest – Warren Beatty, Robert Redford and Burt Reynolds – were said to have knocked back offers to star as Superman early on in development; but rising stars were knocking down Salkind’s door to audition. They included Arnold Schwarzenegger, Nick Nolte and Sylvester Stallone, who threw his hat into the ring after the success of Rocky.

Stallone apparently lobbied hard for the part and could’ve been Superman – until he received a big right hook from Marlon Brando, who had already been signed to star as Jor-El, the father of Kal-El/Clark Kent/Superman. Brando didn’t want the Itallion Stallion playing his son.

Salkind – the man who first gave Superman cinematic life and ultimately ended it with Superman III and IV - said just last month at the Wizard World Anaheim Comic Con that it would have been “a little bit difficult to imagine” Stallone in the role:

“After meeting a lot of actors, such as Jon Voight – we even met Neil Diamond, don’t ask me why - I knew in my heart of hearts it had to be an unknown.”

Thank god his heart of hearts was making the decision – the world would be a much sadder place if it had never known Reeves as the Man of Steel.

John Krasinski as Captain America

It was only recently that John Krasinski was the surprise favorite to claim the most sought-after superhero role since Superman Returns – that of Steve Rogers in The First Avenger: Captain America.

Apparently the part “was his to lose” after impressing producers during two screen-tests, and Krasinski sat ahead of Channing Tatum, Ryan Phillippe, Mike Vogel and Garrett Hedlund. Chris Evans, of course, eventually leapt over all of them (without even auditioning) to claim the last of Marvel’s ‘Big Four’ and also book his spot in The Avengers.

Evans has had few detractors since he won the coveted role of Rogers, and with good reason. He has that rare ability to seriously act and also buff up big-time, Captain America-style.

Locking Krasinski in as the Cap would have been an adventurous move, given his comedy background – most notably starring as Jim in The Office - but so was casting Michael Keaton as Batman and Robert Downey Jr as Iron Man. Krasinski has a genuinely likable quality, and also just happens to stand six-foot-three. But could he have played the ultimate military tough guy?

Like many before him, Krasinski is left to wonder what might have been…

(Thanks Screen Rant)

The Brighton Beach Superhero Run Includes Fatboy Slim

Brighton on the South Coast of Britain has held their annual Hero Run again, a charity event where every runner dresses up in a comic book-related or superhero costume to raise money for their chosen cause.

After breaking the world record for superhero-assemblage last year, only to se it snatched by an American competitor, the event hoped to seize the crown back again – sadly an ill tempered climate decided that clouds, cold wind and a little drizzle were the order of the day. And no one had thought to dress up as Storm in an attempt to guarantee beter weather – and attendance.

Still a fine day seems to have been had by all, young and old. And thanks to Marc Seddon and Matt Watts, Bleeding Cool has a few photos to share with you.

A very mainstream cosplay, the event saw all sorts of specialist knowledge make its way into the designs. Amongst the Supermen, Iron Men, Wonder Women and Spider-Men were the Hit Girls, Ming The Mercilesses, Hong Kong Phooey, Captain Britain, and local popstar Norman Cooke, better known as Fatboy Slim, dressed as Obelix, as part of an Asterix-themed group.

If this had been in Devon, it would have given the relevant image below a much better pun. Ah well.

(Thanks Bleeding Cool)

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