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Friday, December 9, 2011

Some Comic book Animated movies that MUST be made

The animation market. The less popular little brother to live action comic book blockbusters. Free from network restrictions, direct to video animated films adapted directly from comic books have been all the rage since the trend was reignited in 2006 by "Ultimate Avengers".
Previous animated films have been based on their respective animated series.

Both Marvel and DC have been churning out DTV animated movies. Some to rave reviews and strong sales, others to lukewarm reception.

So far DC is leading the charge with 12 movies and 3 more in production. Marvel is trailing behind with only 8.

But enough background talk. HERE are some direct to video animated movies that i would like to see made in the near future.

In no particular order

1) World War Hulk (Marvel)



























Marvel did Planet Hulk. A direct, but slightly shortened, adaptation of Greg Pak's Hulk epic. It is only natural that they follow up with its sequel "World War Hulk". Same production team, same character designs. Madhouse did a great job combining western art asthetics with the dynamic feel of japanese anime. The story would place immediately after the events of Planet Hulk. The Hulk's peaceful life as King is shattered when the ship that brought him to the planet detonates, killing thousands including his queen. Overcome with a thirst for vengence, Hulk leads his former Gladiator allies back to earth on a mission to take down those he deems responsible: The Illuminati consisting of Iron Man, Doctor Strange, Mr Fantastic, and Black Bolt. It will be a sure fire hit, combining large scale action with a savage brutality that only the animation medium can do justice to.
My only tweak would be to get Fred Tatasciore back as the voice of the Hulk. His deep growling and wild roars fit the character better than Rick Wasserman's smoother more "civillised" performance.

2) Frank Miller's Ronin (DC)
















In 2007, it was announced that Frank Miller's RONIN was picked up for a live action movie. Well.......no news so far. So how about this, since Warner has alraedy adapted Batman Year One and are making the animated "Dark Knight Returns", why not do another Frank Miller graphic novel? This could be a great opportunity to tap into the non-superhero comics in DC's library starting with this one.














Drawing its influence from old school manga like "Lone Wolf and Cub" as well as cyberpunk elements of Akira, Ronin is the tale of an ancient japanese warrior's quest to avenge himself against a demon named Agat. In their final battle, Agat placed a curse on the Ronin, causing him to be reincarnated into a dystopian future. Now on the run from the authorities and facing a world of underground mutants, roving street gangs and anarchy, the Ronin must once again track down his adversary. But is this truly the future? Is the Ronin truly who he thinks he is?
Like Batman Year one, RONIN should be a straight up adaptation fo the comic. It is inevitable that the designs be streamlined for animation but i would like to see a more subdued color palatte. A studio like Production I.G (Blood: The Last Vampire) who have done similar "lone warrior/wanderer" type of anime would be good.
Old school coloring, none of that sharp bright colors we see so commonly in recent anime. And hopefully they can keep the unique panel format of the comic by using split screens and other less-common transtion techniques. As long as they do not redesign everything and turn the characters into wide eyed bishonen with wavey hair billowing in the wind among falling sakura petals.
Speaking of split screens and dynamic animation framing, no other animator comes to mind other than Genndy Tatarovsky. Ronin was afterall one of the inspirations for his creation, Samurai Jack. It would be a major fan service there. And to top that, just get Phil Lamarr to voice the Ronin. There will be cheering in the streets.


4) The Darkness
Now why should just Marvel and DC dominate the animated movie market? Independent comic company IMAGE had a couple of animated productions in the past. Anyone remember "WildCATS"? Ok maybe not a good example. They made the most badass Jim Lee creation into something family friendly. How about the 2006 anime series Witchblade?? oh sorry, bad example. Those japanese turned a supernatural thriller series about a hot headed lady cop bounded to a cursed artefact into an overly emo semi-hentai with MILFs, bouncing........melons and sexual undertones.
So why do i suggest that Image should have a direct to DVD movie of THE DARKNESS?

For starters, with a Direct to DVD release, the company can control the written content themselves. No pandering to TV network moguls' whims. Best example of a past success? SPAWN
This show went directly to HBO with Image and Todd Mcfarlane having full control of the look and the content of the show. AND JUST LOOK HOW AWESOME IT IS.
If, given full content control, Image can pull off one badass supernatural horror comic title as animation, why not another?
THE DARKNESS is a perfect contender. I say the movie should just adapt from the first story arc by Garth Ennis and Marc Silvestri
It is already paced like a pilot movie complete with proper introduction of characters, development and conclusion. Mafia Hitman Jackie Estacado was both blessed and cursed on his 21st birthday when he inherited the power of The Darkness, an elemental force that allows those who wield it power over the shadows and control over the demons who dwell there. But this power comes at a price. Jackie is now hunted by the forces of the Angelus, the eternal enemy of the Darkness. Yet lurking in the shadows is a mysterious cult and its charismatic leader, Sonatin, who seek to control the Darkness for their own purposes.

As much as i like Marc Silvestri, i propose the show goes with Michael Broussard's style in the recent "Darkness: Accursed" series.
Silvestri's (seen above) is just too stylised and boasting too much intricate detail to be put into animation.

Broussard's on the other had is detailled enough but not as intricate as Silvestri's. But mostly the reason is in the coloring and shading. Broussard has a lot more blacks in the shading, giving it a very atmosphereic look that fits the atmosphere of the story
The animation studio that did Spawn, Madhouse, is no stranger to dark supernatural genre movies. Have them return for this production.
And i cannot think of a better person to voice Jackie Estacado than Steven Blum (Spike Spiegel, Wolverine) himself.


5) The Flash
We are back to DC for number 5.
After doing origin stories for Green Lantern, Wonder Woman and, in a way, Batman (Batman Year One), it is only natural that DC set their sights on the next member of the Justice league.
A "Flash" animated movie could have come a little earlier, perhaps to tie into the release of "Flashpoint", but it is never too late. Here will be an origin story similar in vein to "Green Lantern first flight". Hopefully Warner premiere will use a different art style again, but i suspect it would be either Sam Liu or Lauren Montgomery in charge, so best not to expect much changes.
Storyline will combine elements of the Silver age and the revamped origins of The Flash plus introduce Reverse-Flash. Why Reverse-Flash? Well he is technocally what Sinestro is to Green Lantern and a fair match for our crimson speedster. Unless you would want Captain Boomerang or Captain Cold, or perhaps the Weather wizard? No way. Speedster against speedster.
Unlike First Flight however, The Flash would not be a galaxy spanning epic. It should be tighter, more character centred and pay more attention to character development, especially to the rivalry between the 2 Flashes. It will be a personal conflict combining drama with superheroics.



6) Ultimate Avengers 3: Ultimatum (Marvel)
Another sequel, but a necessary one. As good as the first two "Ultimate Avengers" movies were, they ultimately failed to capture the gritty realism and darker tone of the "Ultimates" comic series. I propose that Ultimate Avengers 3 return the franchise to its gritty roots by first throwing out that saturday morning cartoon look










And replacing it with something more like what was showcased in the original trailer for the first Ultimate Avengers movie.

Notice that most of the footage featured an increadible amount of detail and fluid motion. THAT is what i am going for. Kick the previous animation studio out and bring in a better one like DR Movie or Gonzo who are used to high detailed artwork.
Now for the story. Although its called "Ultimatum", it will have little in common with Jeph Loeb's infamous 6 issue hero-cide. Instead, the movie will adapt its plot from Mark Millar's "The Ultimates 2"

















Yet the theme of an "Ultimatum" resounds stronger than ever. In a controversial turn of events, the US Government turn the Ultimate Avengers into a superpowered black ops team carrying out raids on foreign soil in the name of American foreign policy. Their Ultimatum: cooperate or we'll sic the Avengers on your ass. The enemies of America retaliate with the formation of "The Liberators", the culmination of secret foreign supersoldier programs with one purpose: destroy the Ultimate Avengers and bring America to its knees. A superpowered cold war brews but the balance suddenly shifts when Thor is declared a traitor by his own team. At The same time, the Avengers are incapacitated one by one. Distrust and treachery rules the day as the Liberators gear up for a final campaign against USA. Little do they know that they are all pawns in an elaborate scheme set up by Loki, god of mischief.
Political satire, moral philosophy, epic violent battles; what's there not to like. I expect no less than a NC16 rating for this.



7) Swamp Thing (DC)
No not this atrocity

This
This image of a pensive, brooding Swamp Thing sort of actualises the direction i hope a possible "Swamp Thing" animated movie would follow: That is, ALAN MOORE's Swamp Thing. There is a big difference between Swamp Thing and Alan Moore's Swamp Thing. Swamp Thing is your typicaly "pity the monster" horror comic book. Scientist gets turned into a plant monster, tries to regain his humanity and faces down an evil occultist named Arcane who believes Swamp thing holds the key to immortality.
Alan Moore's Swamp Thing is an ontological exploration of identity incorporating environmental themes, moral philosophy and a startling revelation: Swamp Thing is merely a plant with a man's memories.
No, of couse it is not going to be a all talk and no action kind of movie. The key ingredient would be atmosphere. Dark and forebodding. Make it more of a character study of Swamp Thing rather than a typical monster movie.
What movies like this usually do is that you have a generic main character who is supposed to be the "audience vessel". This character comes to the swamp and encounters Swamp Thing. But that is not how it should be.
A Swamp Thing animated movie should not be from a POV of an outsider encountering Swamp Thing, but from the POV of Swamp Thing himself. He is the main character, we delve into his psyche, his motivations, his humanity, his conflict. It is HIS story.
It would be awesome if they would take material from Alan Moore's first Swamp Thing Arc with Swamp Thing coming to terms with the truth behind his origin and his conflict with Jason Woodrue, a human plant hybrid with delusions of grandeur.
Why Woodrue?

(fine, we'll give him some cooler looking leaves)
Well because he is Swamp Thing in a dark mirror. Swamp Thing is a plant who believes he is a man but learns the truth of his inhuman origin. Yet he clings on to his humanity and seeks to discover his place in the world Woodrue is a man who forsakes his humanity and becomes plant, seeking only to destroy the world of man. Not only are they perfect opposites, but their final showdown in the comics could make for a great animated battle.
Animation can be done by DC's de facto studio "Moi" who have shown that they can handle dark and atmospheric pieces like Batman Year One.

8) A.B.C Warriors
Seven unique fighting machines, one mission

Precisely.
A famous comic book from UK published by 2000AD, ABC Warriors is easily described as "Seven Samurai on Mars". At the end of great war known as the Volgn War, veteran war robot Hammerstein is tasked with recruiting 6 other bots into a team in order to tame the now lawless Mars colonies. Each of the team members have their own unique personalities and powers. Think the main cast of Transformers. Now what would be even more fun is if we get Transformers voice actors to do the ABC warriors.
You have
-the fearless leader "Hammerstein" (David Kaye aka Optimus Prime in Transformers Animated),
-the lovable muscle bot "Mongrol" (voiced by Kevin Michael Richarson aka Bulkhead in Transformers Prime),
-black magic acolyte "Deadlock" (voiced by Corey Burton aka Shockwave from G1),
-"Blackblood" the schemer (voiced by Charlie Alder aka movie Starscream)
- dim witted but sadistic "MekQuake" (Voiced Gregg Berger aka Grimlock)
- cunning Marksman and assassin "Joe Pineapples" (voiced by Jeff Bennet aka Prowl)
- comic relief sewer droid Ro-Jaws (voiced Tom Kenny aka Spongebob Squarepants)

So for the movie, i believe that the story would have to be cut down a little into something like "Apocalypse Now, with robots, on Mars". The ABC Warriors are formed for the mission of travelling into war torn territory on Mars in order to assassinate some rogue general who has established himself as warlord over the planet. Along the way, the ABC Warriors have to deal with the aftermath of war, the people's unforgiving attitudes toward fighting robots, and their own conflicting primary programs as well as the suspicion that one of the ABC Warriors is a traitor. We get to see how in war, it is the civillians who suffer the most.
Already there seems to be CGI animated movie in production but other than this one trailer, no other news has been heard from it

I intend to go for a CGI standard that is more in line with "Transformers Prime". Sure its no where near movie level, but admittedly its much better than other recent CGI animation like Green Lantern

Besides, the premise of having a team of unique robots who are sometimes at odds with each other mirrors the premise of the Autobots in transformers.
Here's some trivia though. The main inspiration for "Transformers Animated" was indeed ABC WARRIORS.

9) Deadpool (Marvel)
This video is reason enough why there should be a DEADPOOL animated movie starring the merc with a mouth himself. If he's this hilarious as a side character, imagine what he'd be like in the leading role

To entice newcomers, it would be funnier to NOT do an origin story. Instead lets follow a common Deadpool format shall we? Some rich dude offers a bounty, mercenaries go hunting, Deadpool is nto invited but gets news of the offer and proceeds to eliminate the competition. One of the rival mercs would turn "fanboy" and throw in his lot with Deadpool, naturally. However the target in question is not the hardened criminal Deadpool expects. Maybe it could be a kid or a helpless lass whom Deadpool falls for. Personally i would prefer the kid. NOW Deadpool has a crisis of conscience.
He tries to reason with the rich dude but guess what not only does the rich dude REFUSE TO PAY DEADPOOL. Oh............. no.................. He sics his entire private army on the Merc With a Mouth.
Its moron massacre time when Deadpool has to race against the clock to break into the rich dude's fortified mansion and GET HIS CASH!!!
See, already it sounds like something big on action, big on violence, brimming with laughs but with a tender emotional centre that would help develop Deadpool as a more rounded character. Some flashbacks would vaguely tell DP's origin but thats not the main focus.
You can see where we're headed here? It would be fairly down to earth. We wouldnt want too many well known Marvel heroes in the picture.
And won't it be awesome that X-force and Cable make a cameo appearance at the end?



10) Kingdom Come (DC)

It would be Epic!!! A clever, metafictional tale of old vs the new. Set some twenty years into the future of the then-current DC Universe, it deals with a growing conflict between "traditional" superheroes, such as Superman, Wonder Woman, and the Justice League, and a growing population of largely amoral and dangerously irresponsible new vigilantes. Between these two groups is Batman and his assembled team, who attempt to contain the escalating disaster, foil the machinations of Lex Luthor, and prevent a world-ending superhuman war.
Conspiracies abound as the ageing Justice League has to deal with a world that distrusts superheroes.

The story is perfect as it is. And being only 4 issues long, it would fit well into 80+ minutes. The only issue is HOW TO MIMIC THE EXTRAORDINARY ART OF ALEX ROSS?

No i am not crazy. But everyone else might think so.
For starters, there is no way traditional animation can do justice to the awesome artwork of Alex Ross. Therefore, i propose that for starters, we do this in CGI (Computer generated images).

Not just any CGI though. I'm talking the high quality life-like motion capture CGI as used in productions like TinTin and Beowulf

Notice the insane level of detail and uncanny lifelikeness (is there such a word?)
Now imagine we give this a softer focus to produce a more painted look. You'd get Alex Ross' artwork in animation already.






And there you have it folks.

10 animated comic book movies that are just too awesome to be allowed to become live action. THESE MUST be made.

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