While I would like to experience the San Diego Comic-Con sometime, I may have been able to follow more news from assorted media than if I had to deal with the more than 100,000 people at the genre entertainment convention last week (23 to 26 July 2009). I was disappointed that so much coverage still seemed to be snickering at the attendees, characterizing them as geeks, nerds, or worse.
Yes, most of the fanboys at such events are young men, but we don’t all live in our parents’
basements, have questionable personal hygiene, fear women, or lack productive jobs. In fact, most of my peers who are fans of fantasy, science fiction, horror, anime, and superheroes are well-adjusted professionals, often with families. People who play videogames, gamble, or are avid sports fans are still more socially acceptable than the millions of us who read comics, play role-playing games, and make the movies adapted from them profitable.
Speaking of genre film, the big Hollywood studios have all but taken over Comic-Con,
using it to preview and promote their upcoming releases. With the average price of tickets at $10 and climbing, studios are trying to find ways to compete with home theaters, online file-sharing, and ever-more-fragmented audiences and attention spans. As a result, they’re playing it safe, adapting known intellectual properties; using gimmicks like 3-D, computer imagery, and IMAX for more and more flicks; and relying on big-budget “tentpole” summer fare to boost their box office.
Still, for all of the conservatism of producers, good films are still being made. We’re still
riding the latest wave of movies with costumed superheroes, as second-stringers such as Western antihero Jonah Hex are portrayed in live action, often for the first time. I thought the previews of Iron Man 2 looked promising, even if they and the cast didn’t inspire
fans as much as when director Jon Favreau brought the first movie to Comic-Con.
As for Tony Stark, star Robert Downey Jr. can soon also be seen in Guy Ritchie’s action-oriented take on Sherlock Holmes. I’ll probably enjoy it as a steampunk/alternate
Victorian-era history rather than a faithful rendition of one of my favorite fictional characters.
Nostalgia is also behind Seth Rogen’s upcoming Green Hornet. I’ve seen reruns of the 1960s television show featuring Bruce Lee, and the “Black Beauty” was a contemporary of the classic Adam West Batmobile. I was a fan of the early 1980s Tron — not only did I play the videogame in arcades, but I have fond memories of using bicycles and Frisbees for “light cycles and deadly discs” with neighborhood kids! Thus, the trailer with genre vet Jeff Bridges looked exciting to me, even if I had to explain to Janice why.
Fantasy enthusiasts can look forward to the whimsical (and surprisingly melancholy,
from the preview) Where the Wild Things Are, Spike Jonzes’ live-action rendition of the Maurice Sendak book. I reviewed Hayao Miyazaki‘s Ponyo a few months ago, and the American English-dubbed version of the animated fable should be worth screening in a cinema. The animated Mr. Fox could also be good, since Coraline recently demonstrated that stop-motion is still a good fit for fantasy. I may not be the biggest fan of Tim Burton’s quirky style, but it does seem well-suited to Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. Fantasist Terry Gilliam’s Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus should be able to overcome the untimely death of actor Heath Ledger.
In addition, The Chronicles of Narnia : Voyage of the Dawn Treader has started filming. Let’s hope that Guillermo Del Toro and Peter Jackson can make their two-picture Hobbit continue to do justice to J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth as the Lord of the Rings trilogy did.
In terms of literature, science fiction was my first love before I discovered other subgenres. District 9 looks like an explicit parable about apartheid, and like last week’s Torchwood: Children of Earth, it shows that ordinary humans can be as villainous as any alien menace. If you take classic space opera, add dollops of the ever-popular cyberpunk, and use state-of-the-art visual effects, you might have something resembling James Cameron’s Avatar (not to be confused with M. Night Shyamalan’s Last Airbender). Somewhere between Burton‘s fantasy and postapocalyptic dystopia is the upcoming stop-motion “9,” which also looks interesting.
I’m less optimistic about Roland Emmerich adapting Isaac Asimov’s Foundation, a
speculation about future history and the rise and fall of galactic civilization. Asimov‘s intellectual stories aren’t a good fit for Emmerich’s usual pyrotechnics. Many more announcements were made at Comic-Con, but I’ve only mentioned the ones I found interesting.
Coming soon: Comic-Con TV, comics, and game news!