Daredevil writer/director Mark Steven Johnson made a public appearance recently at the Los Angeles Comic Book and Science Fiction Convention. Comics2Film correspondent Jason Lethert was fortunate enough to sit down and have an exclusive interview with the young filmmaker.
Lethert asked Johnson about the process of creating a look for the big-screen version of the man without fear.
“It was months and months and months of work. It started out, let’s make it exactly like the comic book, that was my goal. Then when you see people really dressed like that you quickly change your mind and try other things,” Johnson said.
Marvel Editor and Chief Joe Quesada was among those encouraging Johnson to rework the suits for the big screen. “I think Joe draws maybe the best Daredevil ever. I just think it’s amazing,” Johnson said.
“We tried every different variation we could, always with keeping the red, keeping the ‘DD’, keeping the horns, keeping it Daredevil, but at the same time making it real world.”
The suit had both look cool and be utilitarian, “That’s what I kept stressing is that this has to be something he would wear that would really support him and keep him from getting injured jumping around from roof to roof. That’s kind of the theme of the whole movie is, what would it really do to you physically and mentally to go out night after night and fight crime. What would that really be like?
“So the leather just came out of the idea of motorcycle leathers and protecting your body. Even that only works to a certain extent. You see him undressing he’s covered in scars and he’s popping pain pills. It’s pretty cool stuff. It’s interesting anyway. That’s how the costume came to be, to just do a realistic version of it.”
Johnson was quick to point out that spandex, which many still assume is the fabric of choice for the modern superhero, was never an option.
“It’s funny too, because when you see Spandex on a human being it looks terrible. But that’s always the first questions, ‘So, is he gonna wear red spandex,'” Johnson joked. “What? Why spandex? It’s so gay! You know what I mean? If some people think the leather’s gay, I think the spandex is just so strange.
The director went on to comment on the suits seen in other movies.
“Whatever Spider-Man wore, I thought looked great and that was appropriate. I guess that was some form of spandex,” Johnson said. “I thought the original Batman costume was pretty great, because he had the musculature but at the same time you have this thing that’s kind of like armor in a way. What I didn’t like was how stiff he moved in that movie. One of the cool things about Batman is that he’s gotten to know all these martial arts. He’s a master of martial arts from around the world. He was just like this, you know.”
His take on the Dark Knight’s restrictive suit influenced the direction of Daredevil’s costume design. “I wanted to make sure with Daredevil we could build in the musculature to give him the comic book feel, but at the same time he could move, really move,” Johnson told C2F. “He’s blind and he’s got to move faster than the people shooting guns at him, things like that. He’s got to move like an acrobat and a gymnast and a martial artist. All these things. I wanted to make sure he had an incredible amount of flexibility.
“So we made sure that we always had stretch in the leg areas and the shoulder areas so that he could really move and do the things he needed to do, whether it was Ben doing it or it was the stuntmen doing it, that was really important to me, that he could move better than we’d seen a superhero movie. That was important.”
When fans first saw Elektra’s costume, many wondered why the outfit departed so much from the comics.
“Again, the plan was to go just like the comic books, but once you see bright red sashes and head-bands and stuff and skirts and everything else, it didn’t feel right. It felt like we were doing a disservice to the character by actually trying to be too true to the costume,” Johnson said.
The director offered further explanation of the logic behind her movie gear.
“She’s not Elektra: Assassin in this movie. It’s an origin story for her. So, for me, going back to realism which is always the benchmark for this movie, I thought, well, if she’s just learning to go out at night and do this, what she does in the movie, she’s not skilled at it yet. She has no experience at it yet. And to go out in a bright red costume and it’s like, ‘look at me. I’m over here,’ versus someone who slips in and out of shadows, which is what a ninja would do,” Johnson said.
Of course, there’s always room for a costume change.
“I just found that that was the most realistic and the best version of her now. Not to say that when she becomes an assassin, hopefully in her own film, which I’m hoping will happen one day then I think you do go the traditional because she’s so skilled she can afford to be more colorful. Up front I just wanted to keep her realistic.”
Bullseye also underwent a drastic revamp from the comic books.
“The Bullseye costume: as a fan I love all the comic costumes, but in real life he looks like a tool,” Johnson remarked. “It just looks ridiculous, the Bullseye would never work.
“To me it was let’s make him a little bit more punk. Lets make Bullseye like Alex in Clockwork Orange. Let’s make him really that scary, Sid Vicious, punk vibe. So we did.
“The Bullseye in our movie, the bullseye on his forehead is scarification, he actually carved into his own forehead out of sheer boredom, as kind of a cocky come on to his enemy. Kind of like, ‘you want me? Let me help you out. Right her, pal.'”
Johnson told us that, as with Daredevil, he initially planned on a faithful reproduction of the villain’s comic book costume. Quesada quickly talked him out of that.
“He started doing some ideas and one of his ideas was that maybe Bullseye dipped his finger in blood and did a bullseye on the forehead, which I though was really interesting. I took it a step further and actually did the gouging in and the scarification and the bullseye on his head. We talked about the long coat, how he’d need a long coat to hide all of his weapons, to give him a cape feel without actually having a cape.
“What [costume designer] Jim Acheson came up with, which I actually though was genius, was the idea that the style of the coat is one of like an animal,” the director continued. “Bullseye is very reptilian, like a snake or a lizard and moves very graceful. It’s cool because you can’t quite tell if it’s an alligator skin or crocodile skin or snake skin or shark skin. You just know it’s a dead animal that this guy’s wearing. And it’s cool, It’s just bad-ass.
“He uses it like a cape when he’s fighting. He’ll do these flourishes when [Elektra’s] trying to stab him and can just use that to confuse her. So even his coat is a weapon.”
Look for more from our conversation with Mark Steven Johnson right here soon, as the director talks about casting, violence, cartoons and the wonderful world of comic book movies!
Early Friday morning fans someone discovered a link for a streaming video version of the Universal’s Hulk Super Bowl commercial sitting unprotected on the studio’s servers. Although the clip was available for viewing for several hours, the studio has eventually discovered the leak and hid the file. However, it continued to propagate throughout the internet for the rest of the weekend.
Sunday night Universal unveiled the spot during the first quarter of the Super Bowl as promised.
Shortly afterwards the sanctioned download of the trailer became available on TheHulk.com. It’s available in many download formats, including glorious, broadband QuickTime.
Guy Davis’ period graphic novel The Marquis is the latest Oni Press property to shepherded to the big screen, Comics2Film learned last week. A movie version of the comic is currently in development with Circle of Confusion, Big Blast Entertainment and Oni Press.
A young writer/director out of USC named Matthew Arnold approached Oni with a pitch on the material, which Circle’s David Engel (Powers) describes as, “an Eighteenth Century vigilante movie in the aftermath of a war.
“It’s brilliant. Matthew did a tremendous job on adapting the graphic novel into a movie,” Engel told C2F.
Joe Nozemack of Oni said that the movie take is faithful to the original comics. “It’s just how to take that initial story and put it into a three-act film structure instead of a five-issue comic structure. In the comics, a lot of them are dialog and the character’s interaction with himself,” Nozemack said.
“For a film you really need him to be interacting with other people a little bit more. But [Arnold] hasn’t really changed the world that The Marquis takes place in at all.”
Davis seemed generally excited about the prospect of a movie version of his work.
“Overall I think the story of The Marquis would translate pretty good into a movie version,” Davis told C2F. “Aside from the action and sword fights there’s a lot of mood and suspense that I try to get across in the comic and I think it would be a kick to see some of it on the screen.”
However the comic creator remains cautiously optimistic, with the understanding that things are in the very early stages and it’s a long trek through development hell before a movie makes it to the big screen. “It’s one of those things where I pretty much just focus on my comic work and wait and see what happens with the rest.”
Davis has not worked with Arnold on the project yet, but Nozemack tells us the comic creator will definitely have some input once a script is finished.
The Oni website provides this description of the work: “It was during the 18th century that the Ministry of Inquisition ruled over the lands of Venisalle. In the world of The Marquis, faith and religion are the strict laws of life and death. It is into this world that the souls of hell have escaped to sin, murder, and be free by taking possession of the living. During this time, a man of the Inquisition finds himself blessed with the ability to see into the very souls of the damned and fight the demons withing. But as The Marquis begins his holy crusade to send back the escapees of hell, the battle between good and evil starts to blur into a struggle between faith and sanity.”
A five-issue mini-series of The Marquis was first published by Oni Press in 2001. A two-issue follow up was published last year and a one-shot is due out in May. All told there are three large mini-series planned and three small minis.
Comic greats Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean will collaborate on a feature film, set to go into production this year, Comics2Film has learned. A source at Jim Henson Pictures tells us that Mirror Mask will be directed by McKean from a script by Gaiman. Both men developed the story.
McKean has prior experience directing short films including The Week Before and N[eon]. His previous works are said to be reminiscent of his multi-media Sandman covers, with live action footage accented by various forms of animation.
The story idea grew out of conversations about a possible sequel to Henson’s 1986 feature Labyrinth.
Pre-production is due to beginning in February with principal photography beginning some time in the Spring. The feature is expected to go direct to video.
GREEN LANTERN, THE BOOKS OF MAGIC, HUMAN TARGET, SANDMAN
Comics2Film chatted with a source at Eagle Cove about various comic-related projects that are currently in development at the production house.
Books of Magic is still in the works. The project is set up at Warner Bros. Jeff Stockwell, who penned The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys has come on board the project as the screenwriter. He is currently working from a previous script by Matt Greenberg (Reign of Fire).
Warner Bros. is looking to acquire Human Target, based on the DC Comics character of the same name. So far no talent is attached to the project.
Sandman and Green Lantern are also in development at Warner, but neither project has a writer attached.
POWERS, PSYCHO, THE, UNDEADLY, ALISON DARE, JINX
Comics2Film chatted with Circle of Confusion producer David Engel last week. Engel gave us a run down of various comic related projects.
In addition to Hammer of the Gods and The Marquis, Engel tells us he’s still working to set up Brian Michael Bendis’ Jinx as a feature.
A recent Variety article discussed the promotion of Doug Belgrad at Sony and stated that one of the newly crowned co-president of production’s projects is the Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming book Powers.
“Powers remains a favorite project of Doug,” Engel said, “and [attached director] Frank Oz remains excited about it as well.”
An anouncement regarding James Hudnall and Dan Brereton’s The Psycho is forthcoming. The details weren’t ready at the time of this writing, but Engel tells fans to expect something soon.
Brereton and screenwriter Jonathan Bresman are starting a first draft on the script for the horror/gang-war movie Undeadly.
Engel also tells us that he’s collaborating with Oni on an Alison Dare feature.
HAMMER OF THE GODS
Comics2Film has learned that the Sony-based management company Circle of Confusion has come on board to develop the big-screen version of Mike Oeming’s Hammer of the Gods.
Circle of Confusion partner David Engel told C2F early this week that they are ready to take the project out as a pitch. Screenwriters Bob Conte and Peter Wortmann have developed a unique take on the material, that is somewhat a departure from the comics we’ve seen so far.
“Basically it’s Braveheart meets Spider-Man,” Engle said. Although the comic series has been set in an early Norse setting the movie will have a more modern spin. “It’s set in both Asgard and present-day Minnesota.”
Conte and Wortmann previously wrote Curious George for Universal.
An new Hammer series is due out soon. Hammer of the Gods: The Hammer Hits China will be in comic book stores next month.
BATMAN: YEAR ONE, BATMAN 5, BATMAN ???
The plot thickens with regards to future Batman movies with the latest development being reported by Variety. The trade publication reports that critically acclaimed Memento and Insomnia director Chris Nolan has been hired to helm the next Batman movie and “revive the franchise.”
The article does not get into the specifics of the storyline Nolan would be working with. There’s been much talk recently of the Batman: The Frightening script (which would feature the Scarecrow), but that script is not mentioned as part of the Nolan signing.
The write-up does speculate that Memento leading man Guy Peace “might make an interesting Bruce Wayne.”
“All I can say is that I grew up with Batman, I’ve been fascinated by him and I’m excited to contribute to the lore surrounding the character,” Nolan said to Variety. “He is the most credible and realistic of the superheroes, and has the most complex human psychology. His superhero qualities come from within. He’s not a magical character. I had a fantastic experience with the studio on Insomnia, and I’m keen to repeat that experience.”
The write-up runs through the list of competing Batman projects. Interestingly, it states that Darren Aronofsky’s Batman: Year One is also still in development, but names “creator Frank Stack” as a collaborator on that one. Of course, it’s Frank Miller who is developing the script with Aronofsky.
Comics2Film followed up last week’s convention report by checking with a source close to Miller. According to our source, Miller is still hard at work on a script for Batman: Year One. Miller is not involved with Batman: The Frightening.
Variety states that the impact of Nolan’s Batman project on the other Bat-movies is unclear.
Thanks to readers Gary and Mark for the lead!
A Reuters wire article tells us that the movie version of Harvey Pekar’s American Splendor took best film honors at the Sundance Film Festival.
The movie, a blend of fictional film footage, animation and videotape of Pekar took home the Grand Jury Prize for best drama.
“It just feels amazing that people are embracing a film that’s hard to grasp … It’s about the ordinary things in life,” said co-director Shari Springer, adding that there are no explosions or no big action scenes.
Everybody is into Captain RibMan’s shorts! His animated shorts, that is. The ones that are running on iFilm.com.
The cult college comic hero’s films topped two of iFilm’s top 10 lists recently, and was bested only by Triumph the insult dog on a third.
Captain RibMan’s Bowel Ointment was the #1 movie in the Most Popular Shorts category. It lead the pack over Kingpin: The First 8 Minutes, Royalty, The Last American Virgin and 405.
The same episode was the tops on the Most Popular Animations list. The wannabe’s there are Osama Been Flatten, Taliban Women’s Revolt, Tobacco Free Kids and “Fell in Love with a Girl” by the White Stripes.
In the Most Popular Comedies RibMan took a back seat to Triumph: 8 Nipples and Triumph Mocks Bon Jovi, coming in at #3. Explaining the showing in this category, RibMan co-creator Rich Davis said, “Hey, we would have voted for Triumph, too. At least we beat a few of Conan’s bits and the Miller Lite commercial!”
After you check out the Captain RibMan animations, be sure to read the twice weekly strip right here on Comics2Film!
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES – TV MINI-SERIES, TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES – ANIMATED SHOW
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles co-creator Peter Laird gave fans an update on the status of not only the upcoming cartoon, but the previously discussed live-action TV movie in his Blast >From the Past column. Here’s what Laird told his readers:
“A couple of cool things came in this week. First, we got some photos of the sculpts being done for the live action Hallmark TV movie. These are clay maquettes created to fine-tune the look of the Turtles and Splinter before going on to create the suits and computer models. And they look pretty darn spiffy! I’ll see if I can post a couple of the photos.
“The other thing came today — the rough cut of the second episode of the new animated TMNT show. I’m digging this thing more and more! In this episode we get to see April O’Neil and Baxter Stockman for the first time, plus more Mousers and more of the new sewer lair… and a new TMNT vehicle! There are a lot of nice touches to the animation that I wasn’t expecting, some of which made me laugh out loud.”
Justice League director Dan Riba talked with Comics2Film last weekend at the Los Angeles Comic Book and Science Fiction Convention, and he revealed a little bit about what rabid fans can expect in the highly anticipated second season.
The first item Riba dropped was that viewers who rejected the letterbox airings of Justice League may want to reconsider for season two. During season one, Cartoon Network aired both standard and letterbox versions, the latter to appease the creative team, who directed and animated the episodes for a letter box format. But purists argued that whatever format it was intended for, there is extra cartoon in the standard version. Well, no more. “This season, we’re animating it in letter box format. So if you watch the standard version, you’ll have missing footage on the sides of the screen,” Riba said.
After working on Batman: The Animated Series, Superman: The Animated Series, and Justice League, Riba considered the task of continually stepping up the comic book action in his cartoons. “Yeah… it’s really hard. The idea of topping ourselves is so insane, it’s so hard. But that’s what we set up for ourselves. It’s getting harder and harder to come up with new types of action,” Riba said.
The Justice League cartoon bucked the trend of other shows like X-Men: Evolution and eliminated the heroes secret identities from screen time. “It had kinda been our intention that it would be ‘what if these people really did exist? They would be gods. They would be distant from us.’ And they wouldn’t deal with all that secret identity stuff. As far as I’m concerned, Flash sleeps in that outfit,” Riba said.
However, Riba let it slip that this season might be different. “In the first season we wanted to focus on super heroic stuff. But this season, there’s a lot more of it – a lot more of them outside their costumes. We felt we could loosen up; now that we know them and we know how they operate as super heroes, now we can take a breather and deal with them and their normal lives a little more,” Riba said.
But when it came asked about any specifics of what to expect in the upcoming season, Riba took an extremely long pause before finally saying “Ah… boy, we’ve got some big stuff planned, but I cant really talk about it. But it’s big. And it’ll be great.” But C2F was able to find a few more tidbits about the upcoming season, so look for our upcoming interview with Justice League and Static Shock voice actor Phil LaMarr.
Fans who would rather listen to the traditional music score for Daredevil over the song compilation CD are in luck. Composer Graeme Revelle’s official website reveals that the score CD is due in stores March 4th.
The disc will be available through the Varése Sarabande label.
Want an inside look at Daredevil’s billy club? Click over to DaredevilMovie.com. A flash animation detailing the features of DD’s weapon of choice has been added to the site.
Just click on Daredevil’s name (on the site’s top navigation bar, just above the logo) and, after the DD section loads, click “Daredevil’s Weapons”.
ROAD TO PERDITION
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Road To Perdition director has been honored by organizers of this year’s ShoWest event. Mendes will collect the director of the year award at the March show in Las Vegas.
“With only two films under his belt, Sam Mendes has carved out a significant place for himself along with some of the true directing greats,” said Robert Sunshine, chairman of ShoWest organizer Sunshine Group.
Paul Newman’s performance as crime boss John Rooney in the movie is also continuing to draw critical acclaim. C2F previously reported that Newman received a best supporting actor nomination from the Golden Globe Awards and The London Film Critic’s Circle based on his work in Road to Perdition. Paul Newman’s performance as crime boss John Rooney in this summer’s film adaptation of Road to Perdition continues to draw critical acclaim. C2F previously reported that Newman received a best supporting actor nomination from the Golden Globe Awards and The London Film Critic’s Circle based on his work in Road to Perdition. Empire Online reported that now Newman is in the running for a BAFTA Award.”>Empire Online reported that now Newman is in the running for a BAFTA Award.
The BAFTA awards are the British version of the Oscars. In the best supporting actor category Newman’s competitors are: Chris Cooper for Adaptation, Ed Harris for The Hours, Alfred Molina for Frida, and Christopher Walken for Catch Me If You Can.
ON A PALE HORSE
In novel-to-film-to-comics news Variety reports that Top Cow has set up Piers Anthony’s book On a Pale Horse at Disney. Jamie Foxx (Any Given Sunday) is set to star as the hapless everyman who finds himself thrust into the role of the grim reaper.
Horse is the first book in Anthony’s “Incarnations of Immortality” series. Follow up books death with Father Time and Mother Nature.
Paul Guay (Liar Liar) is collecting mid-against high-six figures to write the script.
Top Cow’s Spike Seldin is producing along with with Jamie King. Foxx and Top Cow big wig Marc Silvestri are executive producers.
Top Cow also aims to develop the concept as a comic book.
THIS WEEK ON JUSTICE LEAGUE
It’s more Justice League reruns this month on Cartoon Network.
This week Aquaman resurfaces on a repeat airing of “The Enemy Below”.
“The Enemy Below – Part 1” airs Saturday February 1st at 12pm. “Part 2” immediately follows at 12:30pm. Both episodes air again at 9:00pm the same night.
THIS WEEK ON SABRINA THE TEENAGE WITCH
Sabrina visits wonderland and Anson Williams directs former Happy Days co-star Donny Most in “Sabrina in Wonderland,” this week’s installment of Sabrina, The Teenage Witch.
Sabrina (Melissa Joan Hart) uses magic to uncover why she keeps running from a handsome band promoter (guest star Dylan Neal, “Dawson’s Creek”) but unintentionally gets stuck in Wonderland where she meets the White Rabbit (guest star Donny Most), the Queen of Hearts (Elisa Donovan) and even attends a tea party. Soleil Moon Frye, Nick Bakay, Andrew Walker, Bumper Robinson and John Ducey also star. Anson Williams directed the episode written by Dan Berendsen.
“Sabrina in Wonderland” airs Friday, January 31st at 8:30pm on The WB.
NEXT WEEK ON SMALLVILLE
In case you missed it Tuesday night, The WB is going to rebroadcast the Smallville episodes “Suspect”, that ponders the question: “Who shot Lionel Luthor?”
When Lionel (John Glover) is shot, Jonathan (John Schneider) is arrested, but after Clark (Tom Welling) and Pete (Sam Jones III) perform their own crime scene investigation, they realize that more than one person had the opportunity to kill Lionel including Lex (Michael Rosenbaum). Meanwhile, Lana (Kristin Kreuk) is suspicious after she asks her father (guest star Patrick Cassidy) to take on Jonathan’s case and he declines for mysterious reasons. Allison Mack and Annette O’Toole also star. Greg Beeman directed the episode written by Brian Peterson & Kelly Souders.
“Suspect” re-airs Sunday, February 2nd at 5:00pm ET on The WB.
Then, in the show’s regular timeslot, Red Kryptonite returns for an all-new episode called “Rush”.
After Pete (Sam Jones III) and Chloe (Allison Mack) are infected by a parasitic worm, it turns them into thrill-seeking daredevils and Pete uses red kryptonite to get Clark (Tom Welling) to join them on a dangerous adventure. Not only does Clark show off his powers, but he kisses Chloe in front of a stunned Lana (Kristin Kreuk). Michael Rosenbaum, Annette O’Toole and John Schneider also star. Rick Rosenthal directed the episode written by Todd Slavkin & Darren Swimmer.
“Rush” airs Tuesday, February 4th at 8:00pm on The WB.