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All posts for the month July, 2013

So. The Flash.

People who know me know that I’m a hardcore DC fanboy. I love Superman, am at best ambivalent about Wolverine, and own more Green Lantern paraphernalia than suit jackets. It’s not that I have anything against Marvel comics (I read many of their titles), or the Marvel movies… in fact, here’s me co-hosting a Marvel movie marathon for my theatre group.

Not pictured: Superman pint glass, with cape. Not kidding.

My co-host didn’t feel I was embracing the spirit.

So, yeah, love me some DC comics. Have been wanting a Justice League movie for years, even though they let me down every time.

And yet even I’m confused by all the love getting thrown at the Flash all of a sudden.

Why Flash?

When laying out their plans for the future at Comic-Con, (plans that move much slower than Marvel’s, as DC Entertainment is but a portion of the Warner Brothers empire rather than a separate studio like Marvel) DC Entertainment announced that their Superman/Batman movie in 2015 would be followed by a solo movie for the Flash before taking a swing at a combined Justice League.

This caused a few raised eyebrows. After all, the holy trinity of DC Comics isn’t Superman, Batman, and the guy who runs fast, it’s Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. The greatest female superhero of them all. Remember? Wouldn’t making her movie next be the logical move? I mean, other than Incredible Hulk, Marvel opened with their big trinity–okay, well, no they didn’t. As far as the Avengers go, the big three have traditionally been Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor, but in Marvel as a whole it’s Spider-Man, Wolverine, and Deadpool. Two of whom are even Avengers now, at least in the comics. But in terms of characters they still owned the rights to, it’s Cap, Tony, and Thor.

I digress.

I suppose the Wonder Woman movie they tried but failed to make with Joss Whedon (HOW DOES THAT HAPPEN–sorry, rant for another time…), the TV series they tried but failed to make with David E. Kelley, and the more Smallville-esque origin TV series they can’t get even sell to the network that deliberately ran Smallville for a goddamn decade, Warner Brothers is feeling gun shy with Wonder Woman. And they’re not eager to return to Green Lantern, given the harsh reception the last movie got. And Entourage aside, I don’t see them making an Aquaman movie before they’ve tested him in a team flick. Assuming that Justice League is a hit, and they follow it with solo movies. Neither of which are in the same time zone as “sure things” yet. So, yeah, if they’re going to do one more solo movie, I guess I can see why they’d pick the Flash.

And I love the Flash. Ever since Mark Waid’s run on the title in the 90s, it’s been one of my top books. The Flash is definitely one of DC’s top characters when handled well–any character is awful if you write him awful, so don’t throw any silver age nonsense at me–so I allowed my enthusiasm for a Flash movie to override any confusion over their “Man of Steel, Man of Steel sequel–NO WAIT ALSO BATMAN, Flash, Justice League” plan.

This this happened.

Flash of Two Worlds?

For those who didn’t click the link, in addition to a Flash movie in 2016, they’re trying to launch a Flash TV series in 2014 by introducing the character in an episode of Arrow, a move known as a “back door pilot.” And, for the record, the executive producers/showrunners of Arrow are the guys who are supposed to be writing the Flash movie as well.

Um… okay. Interesting choice. This is the part where I might have flipped out in joy. Ranted about how great it would be to set up the Flash in a TV series, a medium far, far better suited to adapting comic books than movies ever were, then do the Flash movie and link the TV universe of Flash and Arrow to the DC film universe. Like how Agents of SHIELD is linked to the Avengers movies.

If only I believed that’s what they’re doing.

Because, you see, as the second season of Arrow starts, super powers still aren’t a thing. The season two sizzle reel showed no sign that they were going to do the one thing I stubbornly hoped for, despite how unlikely it seemed: references to the events of Man of Steel. It’s the first time Arrow has ever failed to bend over backwards to please me, so I let it go… but now the Arrow universe is priming to include the Flash. Super powers are coming to Starling City.

And yet I can’t help suspect that they’re planning on keeping the movie Flash and TV Flash separate. I don’t know why they’d do that. I can’t picture the thought process in which having a movie about a character while running an unrelated TV series about the same character is a good idea. Man of Steel didn’t come out while Smallville was airing. But if you’re willing to fire Joss Whedon off a Wonder Woman movie, you’ll do any damn stupid thing.

Final thoughts

So maybe… MAYBE… this will all become the simple wonder of synergy it logically should be. Maybe the DC cinematic universe started with Man of Steel will link to the televised universe of Arrow, and Flash will be the bridge. After all, Flash was the first character to travel from Earth-1 to Earth-2 (long story). And yet I can’t shake the suspicion that they’re going to go the other way. Hire one team to write two Flashes, going to bizarre lengths to avoid a united universe.

I hope I’m wrong. But I also hope that one day I’ll learn to love things that don’t disappoint, hurt or try to kill me, but my commitment to community theatre and craving for Pizza Hut suggest otherwise.

Still, though. Flash on TV. Didn’t expect that to happen twice in my lifetime. Might yet be worthwhile.

I am a geek with opinions and I have a blog, so we’re talking about Comic Con now. That’s what’s happening.

Age of Ultron, you say?

So at the end of their panel, Marvel brought out Joss Whedon to announce that the full title of the Avengers sequel will be Avengers: Age of Ultron. For those who don’t follow comics with the same unhealthy intensity I do, Age of Ultron was a recent event comic Marvel put out in which Ultron has successfully conquered the world and the few remaining heroes need a desperate plan to stop him. It was pretty clear, from the word go, that Joss was only going to be using the title “Age of Ultron” rather than the story. The actual miniseries couldn’t work as an Avengers sequel, since A) it hinges on Ultron being a long-term established threat; B) Ultron is barely in it, and non-comic readers would likely respond poorly to announcing a villain who doesn’t actually appear; and C) it’s not even about the Avengers. It’s a Wolverine story. Even moreso than most Marvel events.

So, Ultron’s our villain for the next movie? Interesting, should work out. Still, does kind of make a liar out of that end-credit tease of Thanos, doesn’t it? “Hey! That spooky boss of Loki? It was this guy! Maybe we’ll put him in a movie some day! Just not soon!”

And this is not the first time they’ve set up a future villain and then dropped him. Iron Man set up the Ten Rings, a terrorist organization named after the signature weapon of the Mandarin, Iron Man’s biggest enemy. Iron Man 2 had Sam Rockwell’s Justin Hammer, evil corporate rival from the comics, dragged away by the police promising to return and seek revenge. And Iron Man 3 dropped all of that to take its own angle on the Mandarin and bring in a new corporate rival in Aldrich Killian and AIM. I mean, Ben Kingsley’s Mandarin was neat, and putting Guy Pearce in a movie is never the wrong choice, but still. That was a lot of build-up tossed out.

Incredible Hulk had Banner-blood leak into fellow-scientist Samuel Sterns’ head to set him up to be the Leader. But that would have required them to make another Hulk movie.

So is that Thanos tease going anywhere? Who knows. The other examples come down to changing creative teams (Iron Man 3) and lack of sequels, but in this case Joss Whedon decided to include the Thanos tease, and Joss Whedon decided to make Ultron his next villain instead. Maybe he’s planning on using Thanos for Avengers 3, but that is still five years away. I’m all about the long game but that’s really pushing it.

Superman/Batman? Go on.

Warner/DC’s big announcement? The sequel to Man of Steel coming in 2015 will be a Superman/Batman movie. This one announcement has generated enough attention that a legitimate website actually asked who won Comic Con, DC or Marvel, despite the fact that Marvel had footage from three movies (including one that had been shooting for less than two weeks) and trotted out enough stars to have a pickup soccer game in the parking lot, and DC announced one thing with at best tentative plans for two more, hasn’t cast the new Batman yet, and said more about what Batman/Superman won’t be than what it will (it won’t be an adaptation of Dark Knight Returns or a follow-up to Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy).

So, yeah, Marvel wins because their panel had Amy Pond and The Piemaker on one panel, but there’s still something important in what DC had to say. Producer Emma Thomas confirmed that this is not going to be a continuation of the Nolan/Bale Batman. It’s a new Batman, a Justice League friendly Batman.

And they’re not introducing him in an origin story.

How is that not the conversation? How are we not excited that they’re actually going to trust us to remember what Batman’s deal is rather than start over at his parents dying again? And once they’re done fighting each other, who will they be teaming up against? Come on, this is cool. This could be super cool. Plus, how about some credit for trying to expand the universe in a different way than the Marvel model? Huh? That worth something?

And, let’s be real, summer of 2015 they’re up against the sequel to the most successful superhero movie ever made. Putting Superman and Batman in the same movie puts Warner Brothers back in the running.

Final thoughts

There are two things that are truly important from this year’s Comic Con announcement. First, and most important… Summer Glau is on Arrow next season. They… they get me. They really do.

Second… DC is aiming to have the Justice League on screens by 2017. Thanos will not be in any Marvel movie before 2018, if that. Warner Bros, this is your chance to get Darkseid in a movie and not be accused of ripping off his pale imitator Thanos.

DO. NOT. FUCK. THIS. UP.

Thank you and good day.

Ah, Vancouver.

I’m currently on a brief sojourn to the coast, where I’m visiting family and taking a break from some of the stresses that have been hovering over me as of late. Well, not many of the stresses, actually… I plan to fit in some serious writing time now that I’m a 12 hour drive away from my video games, and can either be on my computer or watch Netflix, but not both. Reduces the diversions.

A friend recently accused me of being in the creative peak of my life. Okay, “accused” may seem like an odd choice of word there, but he has a very judgmental tone when discussing anything I like that he does not, or vice versa. If I mention a TV show I like more than twice in a day, I’m “clearly obsessed,” and likely wasting my time watching so much TV; when I remind him I don’t like olives, he acts like it’s a personal failing.

After which he will continue to advocate poor life choices, prostitutes, and beverages that taste of black licorice. Despite the fact that liking the taste of black licorice is a warning sign of psychopathy. And he wonders why I find his advice suspect.

Writing up a storm

Wait. Where was I? Yes. Creative peak, he calls it. Hadn’t thought about it like that. I’d only been thinking of it as “I’m surely working on a lot of things.” A new play for next year in its third draft. A webseries I hope to launch this fall, assuming my cohorts and I can get it written and shot. Two projects I try to avoid mentioning lest discussing them get me too excited about what could happen if these tempting yet unlikely ships come in. And my unnecessarily verbose blog. I do seem to be in a creative storm here.

And the truth is, that’s because it’s what I need right now. I lost the latter half of my 20s. Well, in a way I did. I wasn’t in a coma or anything, I just… wasted my time. Working as a projectionist and lurking in my dingy apartment, passing the time alone in the dark, waiting for my life to start. It took until two months before my 30th birthday to fix all of that, and I won’t go back to that place. I’ve become acutely, worryingly aware that I have much less time left to waste, so I’m on the hunt for ways to make the most of it. And love and family seem off the table (for now…ladies), so instead I’m on a quest to go places, see things, and above all create. Create as much as I can, and find a way to make it last. Get it to people.

But for any of that to happen I need to actually break away from my routines and write my cold, black heart out. Maybe find a way to keep my goals for the week in mind so that some of them actually get done. And a good first step is getting away, giving my head a little space.

So… Vancouver.

And maybe some day soon I’ll have exciting news. For now, though, it’s just me and the grindstone. And my niece. Who I should probably go say hello to. Ta for now.

Alright stop. Collaborate and listen. Danny’s back with a brand new edition.

Right. No. Sorry. That was the wrong way to apologize for a lengthy absence from blogging. One writing project sort of eclipsed all others, even though everything else I’m working on has a far better chance of ever seeing the light of day. Still… write what’s in your head, you know?

On that note, time for the first entry in a series I promised back in spring, before the Europe trip, before the rivers rose and the city briefly drowned: a look back at my various plays. To begin, we travel back to the before times, the longago, a time some of you may have read about in school called “the mid-90s.”

The Amazing (and Almost Accurate) Adventures of Trigger Dandy

It began in the room that would, more than any other, shape my entire life to come: my high school drama room, the classroom/theatre where my best friend Sean and I spent most of our time, especially by grade 12. Sean was doing his math homework there over lunch, and muttered something about trig identities. Our teacher, Mr. Stromsmoe, misheard it as “Trigger Dandy,” feeling it was a great name for a character.

Time passes. Our fall production of Waiting For Godot becomes my stage debut, playing opposite drama regular Rusty Bennett. One night, Rusty cut his foot on a bottle that had broken onstage. He didn’t let it hold his performance back, despite the bleeding. In the show’s post-mortem, Mr. Stromsmoe referred to it as the “blood, glass and Rusty” incident. He then turned to Sean and said “Hey, there’s a play for that Trigger Dandy guy.”

“Yes,” I thought. “Yes it is.”

Blood, Glass and Rusty

Before long, I had enlisted Sean and our good friend Jason Garred into the creation of a short film noir detective parody to take to that year’s high school drama festival. We had fifteen minutes to tell the story of private eye Trigger Dandy, trying to solve the abduction of his sidekick, Rusty Buster, and the theft of the Macguffin Diamond. We crammed as many jokes, sight gags and one-liners as we could into it, not wanting to waste a moment of our fifteen minutes. The result? Hilarity. Audiences cracked up at our debut performance at our school and at the festival. At the festival, our cast got a second wave of applause when they came back onstage to clear our set. And it wasn’t just a hit with audiences: our adjudicator also loved us, and gave us an award for writing.

Buoyed by this, we thought the only logical response was to keep going, write a sequel. Well. It’s not like you never made questionable decisions at 17.

Potatoes in the Mist

Sean began to pull back from the process, but Jason and I plugged on and, by the end of our first year of University, wrote our Trigger Dandy sequel, Potatoes in the Mist.

Wacky titles seemed the way to go. Shut up.

An older Trigger Dandy reunites with his old sidekick, Rusty, to investigate a potato cult, planning to summon their Evil Potato Goddess with what turns out to be a piece of an alien starship engine, oddly British aliens working with Trigger’s estranged girlfriend from BGR (as its fans had come to call it).

 PREMISE!

PREMISE! (All of that made perfect sense at the time.)

We attempted to get the band back together, as it were, and stage our follow-up back at the old high school. This ultimately had less to do with rational thought and more to do with anxiety over University, and my failure to research what I might actually have to do for my preferred major. I wanted to be a big fish in a small pond again, and that meant going back to the only place I’d ever felt like a big shot: my old drama room.

Sadly, putting on a show at a school you no longer attend is trickier than it seems. I had yet to master the art of self-producing (the secret is get someone else to be the producer), and it became clear that we weren’t going to get the show up and running by the end of the school year, and attempts to pick up where we left off quickly collapsed the following September. We thought no more of good old Trigger Dandy.

For, like, a whole year.

Cube Root of Death

Jason and I eventually felt the need to be creative and theatrical again. At his suggestion, we answered an ad in Fast Forward, a local weekly newspaper, calling for people to be part of a group doing radio plays. We joined up, went to meetings, wrote a few sketches… and nothing really happened. One of the other members, also frustrated with the general lack of action in the group, suggested the three of us split off and form a sketch comedy troupe, grabbing what actors we wanted on our way out (particularly one Mr. Tebbutt, whose acquaintance was the single greatest thing we gained from the radio drama group). We had some meetings, wrote some sketches… and nothing happened. Jason and I decided enough was enough: we were setting a concrete goal. We were going to dust off and stage our Trigger Dandy plays, and by god we were going to take them to the Edmonton Fringe.

But first, we needed a third entry. Something to make it into a full trilogy. A prequel: an origin story for Trigger Dandy. A spy parody called The Cube Root of Death, in which a young Trigger Dandy gets wrapped up in an adventure with British secret agent Max Forky, out to foil the Australian mad scientist Tarkin Drubik, who is planning the rule the world with hypnotic cube puzzles.

 PREMISE!

We did enjoy our puns.

In June of 1997, The Amazing and Almost Accurate Adventures of Trigger Dandy played for one night only. The laughs were big and frequent, but the triogy had its flaws. Potatoes in the Mist was twice as long and half as fast-paced as the other two, which is not what you look for in a concluding chapter. It would also be the first and greatest warning of my coming struggles with pop culture references: several of our “jokes” boiled down to simply quoting Star Wars while doing something silly. At the time we thought it clever. I would later see it for the hackery it was.

Years later we’d replace it with a new third chapter: Doom’s Pointy Talon, in which an aging Trigger Dandy, retired from the PI game, is drawn back into the field by FBI agent Rusty Buster. We kept the strangely British aliens we’d introduced in Potatoes, devised wacky encounters, slipped in a Matrix fight scene (still had a few pop culture issues in 2002, it seems), and made a far more satisfying trilogy.

It’s still not perfect: it’s tricky to do a three-act play when the acts are twenty minutes tops, and some of the jokes are a touch corny. Some of the others are highly corny. But for something I wrote at 17, or co-wrote in any event, it holds up okay. And it holds a definite appeal for most people who work on it. Maybe one day it’ll be back, but I’m not holding my breath.

When I next return to this series, we’ll look at how Jason and I tried to keep our Trigger Trilogy cast together.