Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Ultra-Special Movietime Wednesday!

Okay, I didn't do a special "April Fool's Day" edition, but this is largely because I just didn't wanna.

But to make it up to you, my lovelies, here is an extra-special edition of CMNS.

I just read Entertainment Weekly's "Worst Superhero Movies" list, and I've gotta tell you, folks are just spoiled (or as I like to say, "spoilt"). Nicholas Cage as Ghost Rider, Ben Affleck as Daredevil, Alec Baldwin as the Shadow, Billy Zane as the Phantom.... I don't know how to break it to you guys, but I enjoyed each and every one of these. Yes, even the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

Maybe what the staff of EW could use from us old-timers is what we used to have to satisfy our dreams of seeing our favorite heroes in live action. And you know what? I don't even have to touch Adam West as Batman to prove my point:

I barely have to go back a decade to give you a glimpse of the Justice League of America tv pilot:

Aren't they something? My favorite part is J'Onn J'Onzz played by David Ogden Stiers, the guy who played Charles Emmerson Winchester on M*A*S*H. As we all know, J'Onn usually goes around shirtless, but we were mercifully spared checking out Stiers' physique. I kept hoping this unaired pilot would be some underrated gem, like Ron Ely as Doc Savage or the Bill Bixby / Lou Ferrigno "Incredible Hulk" TV series. It wasn't.

The Wrong Way to do a super-hero television show:

The next person to bitch about the Spider-Man movie franchise gets a kick in the kidneys, because this was the best action shot I could find from the entire Nicholas Hammond Spider-Man tv series from the 70's. Yup. Spidey kicking a guy in the tuckas was the highlight of all the episodes.

Now, I will tell you, Nicholas Hammond (who was one of the children in The Sound of Music movie with Julie Andrews) was a pretty good Peter Parker (although a little long in the tooth). Sadly, the stuff becomes unwatchable after Spider-Man appears, which is never a good sign. Also, as a fanboy, it committed the cardinal sin of super-hero cinema: Not a super-villain from the comics to be seen.

The right way to a super-hero tv show:

Compare this to the Flash show of the 80's, which had live-action versions of Captain Cold, the Mirror Master and the Trickster from the comics. I watched the entire run of the Flash recently and actually enjoyed it more now than I did back in the day. For some reason, when the Flash was originally aired, I couldn't forgive Barry Allen as a brunette and red boots instead of yellow. So I can admit to my own hyper-sensitive fanboy moments, but I outgrew them. The Flash tv show is on DVD, and well worth it.

It's no secret I loves me some Captain Marvel, and I wanted desperately to like this show, but even at the age of nine, I knew this blew. Again, no villains from the comics (how hard would it be to dress up a guy like Dr. Sivana?), condescending plots, and Cap's powers were totally undercut (ie, a guy who trades punches with Superman in the comics strains to break a chain keeping a fence locked). And Billy drives around with an elderly guy in an RV. I wish I was kidding. Hopefully, the upcoming movie will return some much needed cred.

And how can we forget the live-action rendition of the Superfriends cartoon (you know, the one where they had to substitute the word "destroy" for "kill" and no one was allowed to throw a punch). On the one hand, it was the first time we had ever seen Green Lantern or the Flash live, so fanboys around the world wanted it to be better than it was. But just as we learned that it was a bad thing for a girl to say she really liked you as a friend, disappointment ravaged our souls.

Forget the movie with J.D. Sallinger's kid - check out Evel Kinevel Captain America of the 70's!

I'm going to go out on a limb and say I didn't hate the George/Ahnold Batman & Robin movie, because I'm old enough to know what hardships my ancestors endured.

So, there you have it. Now, quit yer fussin'.


FoldedSoup said...

I keep a copy of that Justice League TV pilot on my computer for the sole reason of settling arguments like this.

Hoo-boy, is that horrible!

De said...

Part of me still digs the cheese of these early efforts, but I know what you mean about today's fanboys being totally spoiled.

Now if you'll excuse me, the Elders are calling...

Sea_of_Green said...

Hey, don't forget Spidey's regular appearance on The Electric Company! :-)

Yeah, those "Worst/Best ever" lists always crack me up because they almost always only go back a decade or so. Obviously the folks at Entertainment Weekly aren't exactly film historians. Maybe the name Entertainment Weekly stems from the fact that the pop culture knowledge of the average staff member only goes back one week. :-\

Matt said...

OK, you have a point...but there's no excuse for that Sci-Fi Channel monstrosity they keep calling "Flash Gordon".

(I don't care what anyone says--that is *NOT* Ming the Merciless.)

Chris C said...

I actually wrote up a future post about that awful Batman and Robin movie but now that I've read this post maybe it wasn't that awful...

yah right it still sucked! But not as bad as that Justice League one looks. Ouch.

mwb said...

I never knew about the Justice League live action TV pilot. But I have now re-ordered my list of things I really want to do to include seeing and owning a copy of it. That's too awesome.

And double yes on the live action Flash. I started watching for Amanda Pays but loved the show overall. I managed to scoop up the DVD box for 67% during a sale recently and am thrilled to watch it again soon.

One of the best surprises was seeing some of the takes on the villains. David Cassidy was surprisingly good as Mirror Master (although no one believes me about that!)

SallyP said...

Hey, I didn't think that the Flash series was too bad. However, other than that, I've never even SEEN any of these. The one with the JLI however DOES look intriguing. Could that possibly be Guy, Ice and Fire? I am smitten. A fat old Martian Manhunter on the other hand...eeuwww.

And that's a good-looking Black Canary. Yes. I'm shallow.

Adam Barnett said...

mwb, I give it a major heck yes on David Cassidy as the Mirror Master. Mark Hamill was also a great Trickster.

I was dumb enough to be disappointed in John Wesley Shipp at the time for not being blonde like Barry Allen was in the comics. Watching it a decade later, I realize that was really a silly gripe. His portrayal was spot-on.

Don't know why they got rid of the yellow boots, though....

Adam Barnett said...

sea of green,

Oh, how could I forget about Spidey's Electric Company appearances. That was my introduction to the character. Up until then, I was strictly a Batman fan.

My only exposure to Spidey was his picture on the Mego Action Figure box, and I thought he was gross because of those web panels under his arms. Hey, I was five....

Adam Barnett said...


Beware! I wanted to like the JLA movie and it's not like my standards are high. What isn't stupid is boring. It'll make you cry, guaranteed.

Adam Barnett said...


I don't get the sci-fi channel, but I've seen clips. It makes me glad I don't get the scifi channel....

Justin Garrett Blum said...

God, it has been a long time since I've seen that Flash television series -- I only managed to catch a couple of episodes when it originally aired. I remember liking that they took the character seriously but not too seriously, though I had forgotten how sweet that costume looked. I wish I could watch it again without having to shell out cash for the DVD set...

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