Friday, March 19, 2004

Item # 1: Batman Begins is currently filming. It will star Christian Bale as Batman. There are also many, many other name actors among the cast (Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman, Sir Michael Caine). I've heard some basics about the script, and it sounds like it's much closer to the comics than any previous incarnations. (I like the Burton version, too, but it's similarity to anything in the comics is debatable).

Anyway, view the promo image here. It's basically the new Batsymbol, I guess. I've heard some folks say it's new, but it looks pretty much like a few different versions I've seen.

Item #2: Robert Rodriguez has shown an unprecedented dedication to his new project, Sin City. Yes, yes... I probably wouldn't be mentioning it if it weren't based upon a comic book. It's based upon Frank Miller's creator owned series Sin City, a ruthlessly aggressive noir/ crime series set in a fictional town where the lives of various crooks, thieves, assassins and crack-pots intertwine.

Rodriguez is filming in his home-base of Austin, and it sounds like he's pulling in an all-star cast here as well. Goody for him.

The big news is that he's including Frank Miller, creator of Sin City, as a Co-Director (and possibly Tarantino). Let me re-emphasize that. Frank Miller. Co-Director.

For anyone who ever read a comic, Miller is a seminal figurehead in the industry. I'd say he was the Beatles, but I think Alan Moore gets that title. He's more of the... Hendrix? I dunno. Give me a good analogy and you could win a Melly Award.

Now, in order to do this, Rodriguez has had to quit the DGA. Which is HUGE, and has very real ramifications for the rest of the union aspects of the production. Union issues are a whole separate political topic I won't bog you down with here, but suffice it to say, the unions stick together, and this whole movie could wind up being a non-Union indie. Fortunately (and most likely, by design), Rodriguez is filming in a town regularly abused for it's cheap, non-Union labor. In addition, most of the film dorks in Austin would give their left arm to work on a Rodriguez movie with the sort of talent he's bringing in (let alone, work on a movie at all), so it's not an issue of making it happen.

Read about Rodriguez's decision here.

But why go to all the trouble because of some comic guy? Why is Miller this important?

If you read comics in the 80's, 90's or now, Miller's work has been the fulcrum that moved comics from the world of kiddy entertainment to being an aggressively adult medium. Miller wrote and drew some of the most groundbreaking works in comics, and when his work is brought to the big screen, invariably, it gets turned to mush. Case in point: Last year's Daredevil took a perfectly good story and made it really, really stupid.

However, one can credit Miller with stories like Item #1 above for even occuring. Batman was still considered to be the Adam West version in the public's mind (despite the 70's work by Neal Adams), until Miller gave Batman the story he needed in the comics again with Year One and DKR. In fact, originally, the movie you see mentioned above was supposed to be an adaptation of Year One (and may yet contain elements of) written by JSA and Hawkman scribe David Goyer.

It may be you LIKE Frank Miller already... you just don't know it's Frank you like.

So it sounds like Rodriguez wants to bring in Miller's perspective for fear he might accidentally muck up the material. I, for one, am amazed and excited. The Sin City comics always had the potential to be a storyboard for the best modern crime movie never made. For folks who STILL, for whatever reason, think comics are all kiddy fare... I encourage you to check out the many, many collections of Sin City available at your local comic shop as well as at Borders and Barnes & Noble, depending on their selection.

Other Frank Miller works of note include:

Ronin - published by DC Comics
Batman: Year One - DC Comics
The Dark Knight Returns (perhaps the most important super hero comics ever) - published by DC Comics
The Dark Knight Strikes Again - DC Comics
Daredevil: Man Without Fear - Marvel
Daredevil Visionaries Vol. 1 -3 - Marvel
Daredevil: Born Again - Marvel
Sin City (there are several volumes, but each story is collected in a single volume) - Dark Horse
Elektra: Assassin - Marvel
Frank Miller's Robocop - Avatar (Frank wrote the orginal screenplay to Robocop 2, which was turned into mush by the rewrites. Steven Grant and the team at Avatar Press are turning the original script into a comic. It is decidedly more violent and paints a significantly different picture than the film of Robocop 2)
300 - Dark Horse

There are also a lot of other works I won't spotlight here. Suffice it to say, Frank's influence and reach has been vast.

If anyone knows anyone working on this movie in Austin, I will give my left nut if you can get my beat-up copy of Dark Knight Returns from 1988 signed. Seriously. Left nut.

Complete works
Fan Page
An Onion AV Club article with Miller is here.

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