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MAN-THING

If you plunged your hand into the chest of The Man-Thing you’d pull out a fist full of mud. If you did the same to screenwriter Hans Rodionoff you’d probably pull out comic books. They’re in his blood. 

He has, after all, tried to transform himself into a superhero on several occasions. The writer told Comics2Film that, as a youngster, he found a book in the library that he thought would help him transform into a werewolf. When the black arts failed him he turned to science, exposing an unsuspecting spider to TV generated radiation for a full 24 hours. Sadly, the irradiated arachnid refused to bite.

While all this did little to empower the youngster as a superhero, his addiction to comics like Iron Fist, Spider-Man  and Werewolf By Night did send him down the path that eventually landed him the job as the screenwriter for The Man-Thing. Rodionoff eventually studied art with the hopes of becoming a comic book artist. However, an elective course in filmmaking sparked a new interest in movies.

After college Rodionoff wrote, directed and produced Sucker: The Vampire for Troma Studios. He continued to write screenplays, eventually getting good notices for his script called Lovecraft, a pseudo-biographical look at the life of legendary horror writer H.P. Lovecraft. “I wrote a script that was basically like Stir of Echoes or Naked Lunch approach to Lovecraft’s life. It takes the view that Lovecraft became the last savior of our world and ultimately the guardian that kept the Elder Gods from returning.”

That script got the writer in the door at Artisan, who he had recently learned had pacted with Marvel to develop a slate of movies, including his childhood favorites Iron Fist and Man-Thing. Rodionoff had followed artist Mike Ploog’s work on Werewolf By Night to Man-Thing, and knew the swampy creature well enough to pitch an original take to Artisan.

Although most fans know that Marvel’s Man-Thing is very similar to DC’s Swamp Thing, Rodionoff told C2F that he aims to make the Man-Thing movie significantly different from the Swamp Thing movies.

“It’s going to be a lot darker and creepier,” Rodionoff said. “It’s less about Adrienne Barbeau and more like Heart of Darkness in the swamp.”

The writer is loosely basing his screenplay on a story that appeared in Adventure Into Fear #16. The basic premise involves a developer who hopes to drain and develop the swamps of the Everglades. When the constant sabotage of equipment is punctuated by the murder of one of the crew, the developer takes up arms against the native Seminoles he believes to be responsible. But the locals know that there’s something else lurking in the swamp…

So will the Man-Thing be scientist Ted Salis underneath all the muck? Yes and no. “It will be a mystery to the characters and the audience,” Rodionoff tells us. “There will be a lot of different ideas about what the Man-Thing is. Everyone will sort of agree that there’s something lurking in the swamp but they don’t know exactly what it really is. Certainly, the idea of a scientist who’s body chemistry has mingled with moss and spores will be one of the legends.”

Rodionoff is not disclosing any details about how the Man-Thing’s will look in the film except to say that he has plans for a creature that will both please and surprise fans of the comics.

Rodionoff is thrilled to go from the ultimate fanboy to someone involved in the crafting of a comic book movie. “This whole coming about of Man-Thing, leading back to my early aspirations and comic books has been a very exciting, circular route that I didn’t expect my life to take.”

The writer wants comic fans to know they have nothing to fear from him. “Comics are where I come from. I’m going to do Man-Thing justice. I’m not just a snazzy-boy screenwriter who jumped in and decided to start writing comic book scripts. This is really where I always hoped I would be in the first place.”

And besides, whatever knows fear…

BLADE, BLACK PANTHER

[Blade]

Comics2Film heard from filmmaker David Goyer last week. Goyer gave us a progress report on Blade 2 a movie on which he’s serving as both a writer and producer.

“Blade 2 is in very good shape and I’m even more involved in the filming of this one. We’re in the 6th week of filming and things are going quite well,” Goyer said. “[Director Guillermo del Toro] is doing an excellent job and I still think we have a great chance of topping the first film.”

Goyer plans to return to the Prague location for the film this week.

Goyer also told us that there’s an ongoing conversation about a TV spin-off for the franchise. “This is still very much on New Line’s agenda. Now that Blade 2 is underway, they have been discussing developing this for next year.”

The show may be an animated program and may involve the masterminds behind the movies. “It’s possible [Wesley Snipes] could be involved in some capacity. We’ll see,” Goyer said. “We’ve only had preliminary discussions so far, but it’s definitely on the drawing board and I imagine I’ll be involved.”

Goyer has also been talking to Snipes about the planned Black Panther film. “Wesley is anxious to get this moving — but again, we felt we should finish up Blade 2 before getting in too deep!”

Goyer has gone from writer to producer. He also recently got behind the camera as director of his first movie. “I am currently in post-production on my directing debut, ZigZag, which co-stars Wesley Snipes, John Leguizamo, and Oliver Platt,” Goyer told us.

Fans of Goyer’s action movies may be surprised when they see ZigZag. “It’s definitely a departure. A straight-ahead drama,” Goyer said. “No guns or explosions at all.”

The experience definitely left the filmmaker with the directing bug. “I had a great experience and can’t wait to get behind the camera again. I think that Ghost Rider (or perhaps Black Panther) may be my swan-song in terms of writing for other people!”

Goyer’s next directing turn will be for a supernatural thriller he’s developing. In spite of all his writing experience in the genre, he has no current plans to helm a comic book movie.

JUSTICE LEAGUE

[JLA]
englarge

The April 28-May 4 issue of TV Guide contains a small blurb on the upcoming Justice League animated show including the first look at artwork for the new team. The artwork portrays the modified “magnificent seven” line-up that Comics2Film first related to readers back in December.

The artwork does not include Aquaman, who was rumored to have been promoted to regular cast member earlier in the year. TV Guide reports that Aquaman is not a regular member of the line-up, again confirming our December report.

Executive producer Bruce Timm told TV Guide that fans can expect a “modern…pedal-to-the-metal action-adventure show.”

Timm also addressed the decision to go with Hawkgirl and Green Lantern John Stewart as JLA regulars stating, “Otherwise it would have been just a bunch of white guys in tights saving the world, and that wouldn’t be right.”

Meanwhile, Rob Allstetter of The Comics Continuum has the latest word on casting for the Justice League animated TV show. Here’s the cast list provided by The Continuum:

Kevin Conroy

(Batman: TAS)

Batman
George Newbern

(Bull)

Superman
PhilLaMarr

Static Shock)

Green Lantern
Susan Eisenberg Wonder Woman
Maria Canals

(Grim Fandango)

Hawkgirl
Carl Lumbly

(M.A.N.T.I.S.)

Martian Manhunter
Michael Rosenbaum

(Smallville)

The Flash
Mark Hamill

(Batman: TAS)

The Joker
Clancy Brown

(Superman Adventures)

Lex Luthor

Thanks to Kryptcom for the lead.

BLOODQUEST

Comics2Film recently spoke with Simon Coombs of Exile Films, producers of the BloodQuest computer animated movie. The movie is based on the Warhammer 40,000 gaming concept from Games Workshop.

Coombs tells us that there’s been interest in the movie on the part of several major studios. They are currently preparing a new script treatment to take to one of them. The treatment is currently under the pen of Jimmy Diggs, who has writing credits on six episodes of Star Trek: Voyager and also on the popular “Dr. Bashir, I presume?” episode of Star Trek: Deep Space 9.

Coombs also tells us that reps from Games Workshop will be at the upcoming Cannes Film Festival to meet with a high-profile director. The director has apparently seen the trailer that Exile has put together and is now interested in the film.

The Exile Films website continues to be updated with design art that will be of interest to the fans. The filmmakers recently posted additional computer modeled designs for the film’s sci-fi hardware. They’ve also added some concept art from Christian Gossett, creator of the Image Comics title The Red Star. Goss is said to be the inventor of Darth Maul’s “double-ended light sabre.”

Coombs has also posted an article on 3-D computer modeling.

WONDER WOMAN

[Chyna]

The prospect of the professional wrestler known as Chyna playing Wonder Woman in a feature film is a rumor that will not die. Yesterday pro wrestling sites added fuel to the fire posting articles under the dubious headline “Chyna Accepts Role To Play ‘Wonder Woman’ In A Movie.”

The article is sprinkled with quotes from the WWF star that seem to indicate that she has accepted the role. Unfortunately, the big problem is that nobody has offered it to her.

Comics2Film checked the story with a source at Silver Pictures, the producers on the film. Our source called the story “ridiculous” and said, “there are no cast attachments at all.”

He did say that many actresses have expressed interest in the part, but the project is not far along enough to begin casting it.

Thanks to Will, Matt and Titan for alerting C2F to the original articles.

GHOST RIDER

[Ghost Rider]

Screenwriter David Goyer attended WonderCon in Oakland, CA over the weekend. IGN FilmForce was there to hear what he had to say about the upcoming Ghost Rider movie.

“We went back to Johnny Blaze. It’s the Spirit of Vengeance. It’s kind of a Jekyll and Hyde story,” Goyer told fans. “Johnny Blaze has no control over the Ghost Rider at all. The Ghost Rider kills people right and left and Johnny Blaze is left to pick up the pieces. … The Ghost Rider movie’s actually being done in a much more realistic manner. … Our model was actually Unforgiven.”

The producer also commented on persistent rumors that Nicolas Cage is favored for the lead. Goyer said that Cage is “circling the drain, [but] he hasn’t signed on the dotted line yet.”

The movie is targeted for a Spring 2003 release.

USAGI YOJIMBO

About a month ago Hollywood Comics announced that negotiations were afoot for some kind of movie or TV show based on Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo. The agency’s top dog Jean-Marc Lofficier dropped Comics2Film a line this week to give us some bad news. According to Lofficier, the negotiations have fallen through. Presumably the agency will continue to look for an outlet for Usagi elsewhere.

GHOST WORLD

The Ghost World movie has been assigned a release date of August 3rd, 2001 according to the UpcomingMovies website.

KABUKI

Rob Allstetter of The Comics Continuum spoke to David Mack about the progress being made on the animated Kabuki feature. Mack said to expect things to happen in the next month or so. The comic creator reports that there’s been ongoing back-and-forth with the filmmakers at Fox and he feels that the project will soon move to the next stage.

Mack also confirmed the rumors from last December that filmmaking great John Sayles is on board the project. “I’ve never met him face-to-face, but he’s a great guy and totally cool,” Mack told Allstetter.

SUPERMAN

Paul Attanasio may soon be the latest writer to take a swing at the cursed Superman movie according to The Hollywood Reporter. According to the report, Attanasio is involved in a two picture deal with Warner Bros. that could result in a $3.4 million paycheck. 

In addition to Superman the writer is set to pen an adaptation of Joseph Kanon’s upcoming novel The Good German for producers Steven Soderbergh and George Clooney.

As with previous drafts of Superman, the new work will apparently focus on the death and return of the character. It will not be the Superman Vs. Lobo take that comic writer Kieth Giffen pitched to Warner Bros. last year. Attanasio will apparently work from the existing scripts, but ultimately focus on his own take on the story. The list of writers on this project is extensive and includes William Wisher, Dan Gilroy, Kevin Smith and several others.

Attanasio received Academy Award nominations for his screenplays for Quiz Show and Donnie Brasco.

X-MEN 2

Although most comic fans loved the X-Men movie, many complained about the bland, limb-wigged performance of Halle Berry as Storm. Anderson Jones of  E! Online caught up with the actress who told him to expect a sexier weather goddess in the sequel. “Storm’s going to be a little more fleshy,” Berry told Jones.

BATMAN, CATWOMAN

The CHUD website reports that Batman: Year One will not be the next movie that director Darren Aronofsky makes. The news comes from a correspondent who heard Aronofsky speak at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Rose Cinema on Wednesday night. The Q & A with the director followed a screening of his critically acclaimed Requiem for a Dream.

Aronofsky reportedly told the audience that his next movie will be an “unnamed sci-fi epic” for Warner Bros. with Brad Pitt. The director is set to begin shooting that movie from his own script in the fall or winter.

Aronofsky had little to say about Batman except “Don’t believe the hype, it’s a sequel.”

In other bat news, our pal Bill Ramey at the Batman On Film website has been researching the rumors surrounding the various Batman movies currently in development.

Earlier this month, rumor on the internet was that Brendan Fehr of TV’s Roswell was up for the role of young Bruce Wayne in the Batman: Year One movie. This was allegedly announced by Fehr’s manager at the finale party for that show. Not so, says Ramey. Ramey contacted Mr. Jim Sheasgreen, Fehr’s manager about the rumor. Sheasgreen told Ramey he made no such announcement and was not even at the Roswell wrap party. Of course the rep is open to placing his client in a Batman movie if the opportunity arises.

Ramey has also been checking into the new development on the Catwoman movie. The Hollywood trades reported Ashley Judd (Someone Like You) had signed to star in a movie featuring Batman’s femme fatale.

Ramey reports that the movie will not tie in directly to the Batman: Year One movie as some fans had hoped. It will play as an unrelated story. However, they two films may share a tone and style that suggests they co-exist in the same universe.

While there have been a few negative reviews of last year’s Catwoman script, John Rogers (Mage) is set to do a complete rewrite. However, the title character is not slated to be Selina Kyle under the mask. Instead it will be a character named Patience Price, as in previous drafts.

SPIDER-MAN

[Kirsten and Toby on the set of Spider-Man]

Face it Tiger, you just hit the jackpot. The jackpot in this case being a good look at Kirsten Dunst as sexy red-head supermodel Mary Jane Watson in the upcoming Spider-Man movie. Fans interested in getting a good look at Dunst’s strawberry locks can head over to JoBlo’s Movie Emporium. That site recently posted two images of the actress on the New York set of the film.

In other Spidey news, the official site has added some new goodies. The most recent addition is a 360 degree panoramic view of the science lab where Parker’s destiny intersects with a certain irradiated spider. The site is also taking submissions for fan art for the official site.

Finally, the Popcorn.co.uk website reports that Spider-Man fans in the UK will have to wait only a week longer to see the film than US fans. The tentative UK release date is said to be set at May 10, 2002.

Thanks to Spider-Man Hype for the leads.

SMALLVILLE

A recent Variety article on the migration of the hit TV show Buffy The Vampire Slayer contains some speculation that may be of interest to fans awaiting the Smallville TV show. Fans have probably heard that Buffy is moving from the WB network over to UPN.

The loss of the show leaves a hole in the Tuesday night WB schedule. Speculation is that Smallville may be just the thing to fill the 8-9pm hole. The show may have enough similarities, with it’s teenage hero, to recapture the Buffy audience.

Thanks to Michael Rhode of the Comics Research Bibliography.

SCREENWRITERS TAKE TO COMICS

A recent article in USAToday suggests that the upcoming writers’ strike could send out of work screenwriters to the world of comic book scripting.

According to the report, Marvel’s super-editor in chief Joe Quesada is already hoping to recruit more screenwriters onto Marvel titles. Quesada has talked to John Singleton (Shaft) and is also keeping his fingers crossed for M. Night Shyamalan (Unbreakable) and even Steven Spielberg.

“One would hope that if there were a strike, any Hollywood writers who have roots in comic books might think it would be fun,” Quesada is quoted as saying.

Strike or not, the field of comics has already attracted plenty of interest from Hollywood scribes. Writers such as Kevin Smith, J. Michael Straczynski, Joss Whedon, Bob Gale and David Goyer are all currently writing for the funnybooks.

Thanks to Michael Rhode of the Comics Research Bibliography.

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