This summer is set to be full of caped shenanigans. Thor, Captain America, Green Lantern, X-Men: First Class, Cowboys and Aliensand Transformers: Dark of the Moon all light up the silver screen within weeks of one another. With so much spandex to choose from, Patchwent to the experts on what to expect: comic shop owners and managers.
Star Clipper in the Delmar Loop, Newcastle Comics in Maryland Heights, and Fantasy Shop(with four locations in the metro area) shared opinions on the best, the worst and the guilty pleasures.
BEST COMIC BOOK MOVIE THIS SUMMER
- Star Clipper: Cowboys and Aliens
- Newcastle: Captain America or X-Men: First Class
- Fantasy Shop: Thor
Benjamin Trujillo, co-owner of Starclipper Comics, expects Cowboys and Aliens to be a surprise hit. “It’s the best cast with Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford and Sam Rockwell--all amazing actors in their own right.” On top of that, few people know it was originally a comic.
Steve Falcon, owner of Newcastle Comics, said Cowboys and Aliens also has a stealthy advantage among comic book fans. Because there’s so little original source material, there’s less chance the movie will stray from it’s comic book origins.
However, Fantasy Shop’s general manager Mike Brodeur agreed that Cowboys and Aliens is ripe with potential. “Captain America will have a larger box office gross, and Thor will be better overall with flimmaking, but the acting in Cowboys and Aliens will be high caliber. Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford will be a big draw. Plus, mixing the aliens and cowboys genre will reach a wider audience.” Despite his potential praise for Cowboys and Aliens, Brodeur stuck by his statement that Thor would be the best comic book movie of the summer.
“It won’t be accurate to Norse mythology, but it will be accurate to J. Michael Straczynski’s run on the Thor comic book,” Broedur said.
WORST COMIC BOOK MOVIE THIS SUMMER
- Star Clipper: Transfomers: Dark of the Moon
- Newcastle: Green Lantern
- Fantasy Shop: Green Lantern
Neither Falcon nor Broedur liked the casting for Green Lantern. Both agreed Hal Jordan wasn’t the right Green Lantern for the movie, and Falcon disliked the choice of Ryan Reynolds.
“It’s not going to resonate well with hard core Green Lantern fans,” Broedur said. “Plus, the special effects look cheesy and pretty unimaginative. Green Lanterns can use their willpower to create whatever they want with their imagination, but in the movie they just throw big fists around. It looks lame.”
Trujillo, on the other hand, was willing to give Green Lantern a fighting chance. He said DC and Warner Brothers really put a lot of money into the property in the hopes it will be their next big franchise. “I know some fans are nervous about someone like Ryan Reynolds playing a character as serious as Hal Jordan, but I'm hoping to be pleasantly surprised.”
Regarding worst movies of the summer, Trujillo diplomatically said he expected Transfomers: Dark of the Moon to meet the same quality standards as the first two movies.
COMIC MOVIE MOST LOYAL TO ITS ORIGINS
- Star Clipper: Green Lantern
- Newcastle: Cowboys and Aliens
- Fantasy Shop: Thor
Since most of this summer’s comic book movies are based on characters who have decades of back story, Falcon said Cowboys and Aliens has a real advantage because there’s comparatively little source material.
Broedur was adamant comic fans would hate Green Lantern and love Thor, while mainstream audiences would have the exact opposite impression.
Trujillo put his faith in capitalism, saying if they really want to launch a new franchise, he expects Green Lantern’s producers to put a lot of time and effort into keeping the story true to its roots.
COMIC MOVIE THAT SHOULD NEVER HAVE BEEN MADE
- Star Clipper: Howard the Duck
- Newcastle: Catwoman
- Fantasy Shop: Spiderman 3
“Howard the Duck was a really terrific, grown up comic,” Trujillo said. “They did a great disservice to the series writer, the late Steve Gerber.”
Broedur called Spiderman 3 a travesty. “Sam Rami set the quality standard for superhero movies with Spiderman 1. I could lecture for a day about why that movie was awful.”
Over at Newcastle, Falcon said Catwoman was especially bad.
COMIC MOST DESERVING A BIG BUDGET MOVIE
- Star Clipper: Superman Red Son
- Newcastle: Frank Miller’s Born Again run of Daredevil
- Fantasy Shop: Red 5’s Atomic Robo
Although they didn’t agree on which movies would be a hit this summer, Broedur, Falcon and Trujillo all agreed on why comic book movies have become so popular in the last decade. The graphic nature of comic books literally provides a storyboard for movies, and the popularity of comics guarentees a minimum built-in audience.
“Hollywood is a vapid and soulless place with exactly no imagination or creativity,” Broedur said. “They take this small industry where tremendously talented people with gifted imaginations tell stories in graphic form then leech off them to adapt them to the big screen.”
Trujillo charitably suggested that mainstream audiences have come to appreciate the storytelling value of comics as a genre. “Every time a new comic movie hits the big screen, more potential readers are exposed to the genre," he said. "Ten years ago, the idea of NPR doing regular stories on comics would be unfathomable, but today mainstream news and media will cover comics and related pop culture extensively.”
“Honestly, even when Hollywood warps the story to sell it to the lowest common denominator, today’s comic artists and writers are so good Hollywood can’t help but end up making some good movies,” Broedur said.
Trujillo and Broedur also shared their expected guilty pleasures this summer. Unsurprisingly, Trujillo wants Green Lantern to be a hit, though he’s prepared to love it regardless. Broedur admitted he’s secretly looking forward to X-Men: First Class.
"It won’t be accurate to the comics, and a lot of people will hate it for that," Broedur said, "but I think those trailers are alluring."