Friday, October 3, 2008

Rebooting Skull-Head and Horn-Head

I just read that one of my favorite comic book characters, Daredevil, is going to get the "reboot" treatment. You know, kinda like what they did for Batman with Batman Begins, then later did for James Bond with Casino Royale. They're going to make a new movie and completely ignore the previous entries (or entry, as in the case of Daredevil). I think that this is good news, as the last Daredevil movie really didn't hit the right note.

While I don't think that it was awful, it certainly wasn't very good either. There were certainly some things that I liked, and it was definitely better than the Daredevil portrayal of Rex Smith in the Trial of the Incredible Hulk TV-movie. It was also cool to see a lot of things from the comics get recreated up on the screen. The biggest problem, aside from the totally uneven tone, was that the director was almost too reverential to the comics. He was trying to incorporate elements from two major Daredevil story arcs, along with various other tangents, into one movie. Personally, I think that it's better for the comics to simply inspire the story and let the movie tell its own kind of tale. That's what was so good about Batman Begins - it didn't really follow any one particular story arc from the comics, but it was really obvious that the people behind the movie were well-versed in the comics lore.

Of course, Daredevil isn't the only one who's been getting the reboot treatment. Just last summer was The Incredible Hulk. Personally, I didn't think that the last one was that bad. Ultimately, it failed, but it had a lot of interesting ideas, and I wouldn't have minded seeing them continue with Eric Bana and Jennifer Connolly. I also don't think that it's as bad as a lot of people say that it was. To me, a really bad movie fails on every level - like Batman and Robin. Hulk certainly wasn't as bad as that. As for whether the reboot was an improvement or not, I'm sorta mixed on that. Basically, it aimed a lot lower, but unlike the last one, it hit the mark. It's a pretty solid action movie, but there really isn't anything more about it that I could say.

Coming up this winter, and probably unbeknownst to anybody but comic book geeks is Punisher War Zone. This one is completely ignoring the last Punisher movie, which in a way was a reboot of sorts, as it paid absolutely no attention to the old Dolph Lundgren movie. The last one was certainly an improvement over Dolph's, but it definitely wasn't good - and easily worse than both Daredevil and Hulk. There were a few scenes that I really liked a lot - mainly because they were lifted straight out of the comics, but if I didn't know that, then I wouldn't have thought anything of them, as they're surrounded by a really weak story that essentially goes nowhere.

I honestly don't have very high hopes for this one. While there have definitely been some good Punisher comics, it's pretty tough to make a movie with him for one major reason - The Punisher is not a good guy. He was initially created as an antagonist for Spider-Man and Daredevil (and he even got into it with Captain America once). Due to his popularity, he got his own series. When he works best in the comics, he's a total anti-hero, and I don't know if Joe Average American is ready for a character like that in a movie. It's a bit too nuanced for most people to have a protagonist who you are engaged in following his story, but you don't necessarily like or respect him. It's a tough act to pull off, and the last one tried to end with The Punisher in a heroic pose on a bridge, talking about how he's going to continue his fight.

That didn't ring very true because the guy is basically a psycho (even by superhero comic book standards). He not only takes the law into his own hands, but he's a killer - not exactly a good guy.

So, I'm not expecting much from the new Punisher movie, although the new actor, Ray Stevenson (a.k.a. Titus Pullo from HBO's amazing series Rome) definitely looks the part a lot better than Thomas Jane did. So, I'm holding out some hope for Daredevil. Personally, I think that the character could work better in a TV series (especially if it's inspired by the current comics written by Ed Brubaker, who's doing some really compelling, crime noir in the book), but I definitely think that Daredevil has what it takes to be the centerpiece of a great movie.

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