SMACKDOWN_ by wpr1947


									     When Comics Go to Hollywood, it’s a ...                                                                                                              OREGONIAN

      SMACKDOWN!                                                                                                                                           COMICS GROUP

      With your host, writer and cartoonist m . e . r u s s e l l • digital tone-shading by c h a d e s s l e y

                                                                                                    S uperman
                                                                                                 debut ed in t he
           Believe it or not, comics
                                                                                                  first issue of
          and movies have been doing
                                                                                                “Action Comics”
              a c om plic ated tango                                                             in 1938. by t he
             s inc e the s ilent era!                                                             early 1940s ,
                                                                                                    were doing
                                                                                                  battle in the
              “ Little Nemo in                                                                     advent ure
               Slumberland”                                                                          serials
                 news paper                                                                        and cartoon
            cartoonist Winsor                                                                         shorts
            MCCay adapt ed his                                                                  alongside other              “Batman” (1943) and “Batman and Robin” (1949),
            st rip int o a 4,000-                                                                  pulp heroes!                        Columbia Pictures serials.
             drawing animat ed
                film in 1911!

            While MCCay wasn’t the
         first film animator, it took
         decades for the art form
         to catch up with his vision!

           in his hugely successful
         “ animat ed” vaudeville act
          in 1914, MCCay int eract ed            ... And MCCay - in an astonishing
          onstage with a projected                    feat of art ist ic discipline -
                                                                                                Max Fleischer’s “Superman” cartoon
          cart oon charact er named                     drew the thousands of                    shorts (1941-43). there was also a           “the adventures          “captain america”
         “gertie the dinosaur”...                       animat ed cels himself!                 15-episode serial starring kirk alyn         of captain marvel”         (1944 republic
                                                                                                    as the man of steel in 1948.               (1941 serial).               serial).

         Comic-book heroes soon migrated to tv,                    the notion that comic-book movies could
       where t hey spent t he next couple of decades               only be chees y and/o r campy kids’ fare                        richard donner’s surprisingly moving,
          (wit h t he requisit e movie spin-offs).....             was finally challeng ed in 1978 ...                           $55-million epic proved (in its first half,
                                                                                                                                anyway) that a serious, lavish treatment of
                                                                                                                                comic-book characters could lead to boffo
                                                                                                                               box office - more than $300 million worldwide!

                                                                                                                                               “All those powers ...
                                                                                                                                               and I couldn’t even
                                                                                                                                                   save him....”

          “the adventures of
          superman” tv series
        (1952-58). preceded by         “Batman” (Tv series,
                                                                                          ... wit h t he release of
      big-screen “superman and         1966-68; big-screen                              “superman: the movie.”
         the mole men” (1951).            feature, 1966)

A (PARTiAL) TiMELINE OF COMiC-BOOK MOVIES, PAST, PRESENT and FUTURE • 1911 “Little Nemo” • 1933 “Betty Boop Presents Popeye The Sailor” introduces Popeye to cartoon shorts •
1937 “Dick Tracy” serial • 1941-43 Max Fleischer’s animated “Superman” shorts • 1941 “The Adventures of Captain Marvel” serial • 1943 “Batman” serial • 1944 “Captain America” serial • 1948
“Superman” serial starring Kirk Alyn • 1949 “Batman and Robin” serial • 1951 “Superman and the Mole Men” starring George Reeves • 1966 “Batman” starring Adam West • 1978 “Superman: The
Movie” • 1980 “Superman II” • Robert Altman’s “Popeye” • 1983 “Superman III” • “Swamp Thing” • 1984 “Supergirl” • 1986 “Howard the Duck” • 1987 “Superman IV: The Quest for Peace” •
1989 “Batman” • “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” “The Return of the Swamp Thing” • 1990 “Dick Tracy” • 1991 “The Rocketeer” • “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II” • 1992 “Batman Returns” •
1993 “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III” • “Batman: Mask of the Phantasm” • 1994 “The Mask” • “The Crow” • “Timecop” • “Richie Rich” • 1995 “Batman Forever” “Casper” • “Tank Girl” •
             however, many of the comic-book adaptations that                         This included, alas, the “superman”
       followed in the ’80s and ’9os failed to take donner’s lead                     series. Richard lester took over
        ... and sometimes, they were downright embarrassing.                             the series mid-way through the
                                                                                      shooting of “Superman II” - and his
                                                                                      tongue-in-cheek, “ironic” take on
                                                                                      superheroes dominated film for the
                                                                                             next decade and change!

           “The Punisher”         “Fantastic Four”       “captain america”
          (1989, starring        (1994, produced by       (1992, starring
          Dolph Lundgren,          roger corman,        J.D. salinger’s son
         straight to video)         unreleased)            matt as cap!)

         a few marvel characters even made it into films that                          Richard Pryor in      “Nuclear Man” in
                                                                                       “Superman III”     “Superman IV: The quest
                  never saw u.s. theatrical release!                                                         for Peace” (1987)

                                                                                   Then - Shazam! - a one-two punch of
          Tim Burton’s “Batman” (1989) - which drew
                                                                                rock-solid flicks based on marvel comics
        heavily from the new wave of grittier superhero
                                                                                 characters - “Blade” (1998) and Bryan
       comics - seemed to mark a sea change. (“Teenage
                                                                                Singer’s “X-men” (2000) - confirmed the
        Mutant Ninja Turtles” was a huge hit that same
                                                                                 Mostly forgotten lesson of “superman”:
           year.) But increasingly soggy sequels
                                                                                the most lucrative way to make money off
           starring the caped crusader relied less on
                                                                               superhero movies is to treat the characters
            character and more on campy nonsense...
                                                                                              with respect!

                                           “The governator” as
                                           Mr. Freeze. Six years
                                          later, this man would
                                             run the world’s
                                         fifth-largest economy.

                                         The absolute nadir?
                                           1997’s “Batman
                                              & Robin.”

         Narrative floodgates were opened! led by a                             dozens of comic-book properties are now
       rejuvenated marvel studios, a series of artful,                           headed for theaters - including the fan
          character-driven comic-book movies wowed                            favorite “hellboy,” about a demon who fights
        (and, in some cases, exasperated) moviegoers!                               monsters for the u.s. government.

                                       and adaptations of
                                       “alternative” comic
                                       books like “road to
                                         perdition” and
                                         “ghost world”                                                     “Hellboy” opens
       pretensions, successful and
       less so: Ang Lee’s “the hulk”       mixed up the                                                     Friday, April 2.
         and “American Splendor.”         playing field!

1996 “The Crow: City of Angels” • “Barb Wire” • 1997 “Men in Black” • “Batman and Robin” • “Spawn” • “Steel” • 1998 “Blade” • 1999
“Mystery Men” • “Virus” • 2000 “X-Men” • 2001 “Ghost World” • “From Hell” • “Josie and the Pussycats” • 2002 “Spider-Man” •
“Blade II” • “Men in Black II” • “Road to Perdition” • 2003 “Daredevil” • “The Hulk” • “X-Men 2: X-Men United” • “American Splendor”
• “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” • “Bulletproof Monk” • 2004 (and beyond) “Hellboy” • “The Punisher” • “Spider-Man 2” •
“Catwoman” • “Alien vs. Predator” • “The Mask 2” • “Batman Begins” • “Constantine” • “Spider-Man 3”

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