superhero

6 Unlikely Superhero Film Hits

Superman was the first superhero to grace the silver screen back in the 1940s. Since then the Man of Steel has had many incarnations, as have Batman and Spiderman — from camp TV shows to blockbuster movie franchises. But, in recent years,  there are  a few surprise superhero hits that, when first proposed, likely caused more than a little head scratching. To honor National Superhero Day, we celebrate the lesser-known superhero movies that may inspire you to delve deep into comic book obscurity to create a superhero movie of your own!

1. “Hellboy” (Dark Horse Comics, 2004)

Guillermo del Toro passed up a shot at directing the third “Harry Potter” film “because he nurtured a need to bring Mr. Mignola’s colossal, monstrous-looking, Twizzler-colored champion to the screen,” according to a NY Times review by Elvis Mitchell. Mitchell congratulates del Toro for keeping the “drizzly, musty gothic ambience” of the source material while giving it his own quirky spin:

“The writer and director Guillermo del Toro has brought a similar woozy, disconcerting melancholy to his film adaptation, and his obvious affection and affinity for that dankness alone would make “Hellboy” worth seeing. But Mr. del Toro lets loose with an all-American, vaudevillian rambunctiousness that makes the movie daffy, loose and lovable.”

2. “Deadpool” (Marvel, 2016)

He has the power to regenerate — his limbs as well as the X-Men franchise. This R-Rated blockbuster proves comics are not just for kids. Returning to the source material, the movie has the titular character breaking the fourth wall — unusual behavior for a filmic superhero and one that worked; a sequel is in development.

3. “Dr. Strange” (Marvel, 2016)

Perhaps the most unlikely part of the story of this worldwide blockbuster is that, after 30 years, it finally got made. But Dr. Strange has always been a superhero outlier. Wikipedia quotes the historian Bradford Wright as saying, “Never among Marvel’s more popular or accessible characters, Dr. Strange still found a niche among an audience seeking a challenging alternative to more conventional superhero fare.”

4. “Watchmen” (DC Comics, 2009)

As the Telegraph notes in a review, “In the annals of Hollywood development hell, the long-anticipated Watchmen ranks high on the list of movies that almost didn’t get made.”

Besides the development SNAFUs, director Zack Snyder created a difficult not-for-kids superhero film. The Telegraph writes: “As well as extreme violence — arms are sawn off, heads are hatcheted, blood spurts in gushers, necks are twisted and broken, a woman is brutally beaten and raped — ‘Watchmen’ also pushes the envelope with an explicit superhero sex scene between Night Owl (Patrick Wilson) and Silk Spectre (Malin Akerman) that Snyder admits borders on pornography and which he filmed to the accompaniment of Leonard Cohen’s anthem ‘Hallelujah.’”

5. “Guardians of the Galaxy” (Marvel, 2014)

As Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers wrote in his review: “Maybe you never heard of Guardians of the Galaxy, the Marvel comic franchise that wilts in the shadows while Spider-Man, the X-Men and the Avengers get all the love. Maybe you think a big-*ss movie about wanna-be Marvel icons isn’t worth your time.

“Snap out of it. Guardians of the Galaxy does the impossible. Through dazzle and dumb luck, it turns the clichés of comic-book films on their idiot heads and hits you like an exhilarating blast of fun-fun-fun.”

6. “Ant-Man” (Marvel, 2015)

CinemaBlend ranked Ant-Man #24 on its 30 Best Superhero Movies list, and noted that, “Just like they did the previous year with Guardians of the Galaxy, 2015’s Ant-Man took an obscure character from Marvel’s library and turned them into a hit at the box office. The Peyton Reed-directed flick featured Scott Lang as the Tiny Titan working to harness the Pym Particle technology and make up for his criminal past with Hank Pym and Hope van Dyne’s help. By adding plenty of humor and incorporating a heist into the story, Ant-Man turned out to be anything but small when it came to enjoyability …”

What superhero would you like to see hit the big screen? Let us know in the comments below. And learn how to make your own films at New York Film Academy.

5 Facts You Didn’t Know About Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman is one of the most iconic superheroes in the world and has a large, faithful fan base. Bursting into the world in 1941, the Amazonian was an instant hit with comic book lovers everywhere. Even people who aren’t avid comic readers still adore the genius design and storyline. And now, the 2017 DC Comics film adaptation has smashed box office records.

As Forbes reports, “‘Wonder Woman‘ made even more over the weekend than originally estimated. It opened not with $100.5 million, but rather with $103.1 million … That makes it the biggest opening weekend ever for a female director.” (Want to learn more about female directors and gender inequality in the film industry? Check out our infographic.)

Wonder Woman was the third hero to get her own comic book after popular appearances in “All Star Comics #8” and “Sensation Comics #1” and is still regularly circulating in her own comic books, movies and TV appearances.  But even her biggest fans may not know these five awesome facts about her extraordinary history!

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1. Wonder Woman was partially based off of the creator’s wife.

Besides women’s suffragists, Wonder Woman creator William Moulton Marston (pen name Charles Moulton) based the first female crime-fighter on his wife Elizabeth Holloway Marston. Elizabeth was a psychologist as well as an attorney, often helping her husband with Wonder Woman projects. The couple was also responsible for creating the very first prototype of the lie detector test.

2. Wonder Woman never wore a skirt.

In earlier issues, Wonder Woman seemed to be wearing a skirt. Surprise, it’s not a skirt! Wonder Woman was actually sporting culottes, or split pants with flowing bottoms, making them appear like a skirt, so she could be both practical and feminine. But no matter what she wears, Wonder Woman is always in style!

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3. She used to reform, not kill criminals.

Marston was inspired by the Suffragette Movement and believed having more women in charge of national and global affairs would lead to a more peaceful world. Wonder Woman would send many female villains to Reform (Transformation) Island after capturing them. Her hope was to have them return to the “true nature of women” and to bring peace to society with a women-run Earth.

4. The Lasso of Truth was based off of Marston’s lie detector prototype.

Wonder Woman uses her Lasso of Truth to force villains to be truthful and obedient, even using it to provide evidence in court. But did you know it was based on a real-life invention? Marston and Elizabeth’s lie detector invention directly influenced the creation of her famous Lasso of Truth. The prototype correlated heightened blood pressure with lying and guilt, but courts would not accept it as a reliable measure of guilt.

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5. Wonder Woman is the daughter of Zeus, Greek god of the sky and ruler of Olympus.

Though Wonder Woman’s first origin story said her mother Queen Hippolyta of Themyscira sculpts her daughter Diana out of clay, praying to the gods of Olympus for her clay–crafted child to come to life, the recent “DC Comics: Rebirth” series tells a different story. Queen Hippolyta only told the story to hide the truth: that Zeus is actually Wonder Woman’s father. This makes Wonder Woman a demigod like Hercules and explains the source of her mighty power.

What are your thoughts on the premier of “Wonder Woman” this week? Let us know in the comments below. Learn more about filmmaking at the New York Film Academy.

Hey Marvel – Here’s Five Ways to Make a Solo Hulk Movie

Hulk

Everybody’s talking about what’s on Marvel’s docket after they released their slate of upcoming movies for the next five years. The core of their cinematic universe of course is the Avengers Trilogy (or Tetralogy since they’re splitting Infinity War into two movies). Sequels to Captain America, Thor, and Guardians of the Galaxy are no-brainers, and the addition of new heroes Ant-Man, Doctor Strange, Black Panther, and Captain Marvel aren’t just icing on the cake—they’re a whole extra cake, with icing.

But what about the Hulk? He was the second superhero introduced to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, right after Iron Man way back in 2008, and unlike every other character since, he hasn’t gotten a sequel. It’s agreed by most that The Incredible Hulk was weaker than its compatriots, and like 2003’s Hulk, underwhelmed audiences despite making its money back and then some.

But Incredible Hulk starred Edward Norton and pre-dated the Hulk’s scene-stealing role in The Avengers. Mark Ruffalo is universally adored as Bruce Banner, and with Marvel seemingly making new movies out of thin air, it’s more than conspicuous that he hasn’t earned another solo blockbuster adventure. Gone is the argument that a CGI Hulk in every scene of a movie would simply cost too much money—after all, two of Guardians of the Galaxy’s lead characters are a CGI raccoon and tree. And if the new Avengers: Age of Ultron is any indication, the next Marvel movie will have a supporting cast of about ten thousand computer generated robots.

If it’s not the CGI, and it’s not Ruffalo’s undeniable charm, then just why isn’t Marvel producing another Hulk movie? Maybe they can’t think of a decent plot—The Incredible Hulk’s storyline was basically Hulk Smash. But that’s not a good excuse either. Here’s five ways to make a solo Hulk movie drawn from fifty-plus years of comics backstory, and five directors who could potentially bring these films to life. Get on this, Marvel, before you make us Hulk fans angry.

You wouldn’t like us when we’re angry.

1. Grey Hulk

If you haven’t noticed, Bruce Banner has a bit of a split-personality. What many casual fans don’t realize though is that he doesn’t just have one extra personality, he has several. Besides the big green, savage manifestation of his anger that likes to smash and talk in the third person, Bruce can also turn into the Grey Hulk.

The Grey Hulk is a little smaller and weaker than the Incredible Hulk, and his skin is, well, grey. But he still towers over the average-sized man and has muscles that would make Thor drop a Mjölnir in his pants. He’s also a little smarter than the savage Hulk, able to have conversations and drive a car. In fact, he holds down a job as a mob enforcer in Las Vegas as alter-ego Joe Fixit. He makes a great living actually. If you’re a bookie who’s owed some money, who better to scare your debtors into paying than a big grey monster packing heat.

A Vegas-set mob movie would be a great way to do a Hulk movie different from the previous two. And who better to direct a mob movie than Martin Scorsese? His talent behind the camera has been begging for a superhero to shoot, and he’s worked with Ruffalo before. It’s a match made in heaven.

2. Planet Hulk

Why isn’t Hulk helping out Cap and Thor in their respective sequels? How about because he’s in space? Like, deep outer space. The Planet Hulk storyline from the comics finds Earth’s superheroes fed up with Hulk smashing their stuff all the time and banishing him to a far away planet, Sakaar.

The planet is filled with aliens from a multitude of races, forced to battle one another in a gladiator arena for the amusement of the evil Red King. Hulk fits right in, and leads a revolution from the ground up after smashing some space heads. The Guardians of the Galaxy could even make a cameo, helping Hulk overthrow the Red King and bring freedom to Ancient Rome, er, the planet Sakaar.

Ridley Scott has proven adept at directing space movies and gladiator movies, but he hasn’t tackled a superhero pic yet and this would be the easiest way for him to make that transition. With Scott at the helm, how can we not be entertained?

[editor’s note: Three years after this article was published, Marvel did a version of the Planet Hulk story in Thor: Ragnarok, directed by Taika Waititi]

3. World War Hulk

World War Hulk is technically a sequel to Planet Hulk, but since when has continuity ever been an issue in the MCU (cough, Don Cheadle, cough.) The Hulk has made his way back from the planet Sakaar and is more than a little pissed that he was banished in the first place (and that his gladiator girlfriend was killed in the space revolution.)

Hulk takes his revenge on New York City, fighting Iron Man and Doctor Strange as the super-angry, super-strong, super-huge World Breaker Hulk. It looks like he’ll be duking it out with Iron Man already in Age of Ultron but honestly, shouldn’t that be its own movie? Plus, with Doctor Strange in the mix, it could be Benedict Cumberbatch vs. the Hulk, which honestly is an even better title for the movie than World War Hulk.

This sequel would be loud, filled with mindless action and the borderline-offensive leveling of an American city. Michael Bay would be perfect.

4. She-Hulk

She-Hulk is one of Marvel’s most underrated characters. Her alter-ego is Jennifer Walters, and unlike her cousin Bruce Banner, she is always big and green, but not nearly as mindless and angry. In fact, she’s extremely smart, and works by day as a lawyer.

If Marvel wants to introduce a new hero, they could give her origin in a Hulk movie, having the two team up before She-Hulk sets out on her own. Currently, She-Hulk is one of the most entertaining series in the Marvel line, with a fun, youthful energy that also knows how to have badass battles with fellow heroes like Daredevil and Captain America.

The Kids Are Alright director Lisa Cholodenko, who’s worked with Ruffalo before, could balance the witty courtroom repartee with the sweet kickass brawls She-Hulk isn’t afraid to back down from.

5. Guilt Hulk

When Bruce Banner is angry, the green, savage Hulk lets out his rage by smashing. When Bruce is full of guilt and regret, in many ways, a much more dangerous emotion, he becomes The Beast, a.k.a. the Guilt Hulk. The Guilt Hulk is a terrible monster, larger and stronger than usual and makes the standard Hulk look downright cuddly. He’s got long, sharp claws, is covered in spikes, and on occasion, breathes fire. This ain’t your Daddy’s Hulk.

The Guilt Hulk is so scary the sequel would be more horror than action film, and Mexican filmmaker Guillermo del Toro would be perfect to direct and design the cinematic look of the Beast. At his most contrite, the Guilt Hulk can tower over sixty feet tall and level buildings with a single swipe of his arm. After Pacific Rim, is there any doubt del Toro isn’t the right person for the job?

Guilt Hulk

Guilt Hulk