2016 was a big shakeup in the genre television and movie landscape, and for comics overall. Major changes to the status quo saw line-wide reboots, revamps and re-brandings on the comics front to bring in a broader appeal, while the ever-growing shared universes (especially for Marvel and DC) expanded the live-action adaptations in a big way, bringing in new characters, creators and points of view. 2016 wasn’t all bad — in fact, a lot of cool things happened.
So, to remind you of everything that shook our world last year, CBR has conjured up a two-part run down of our biggest stories. From the addition of Young Animal and Hanna Barbera to DC’s line, to Mockingbird’s cancellation and Spidey’s addition to the MCU, we’ve summed up everything major that happened last year for your convenience. Take a look at our entries below, and be sure to sound off in the comments if you think we’ve missed anything big!
Young Animal & Hanna Barbera Broaden DC’s Audience
In addition to its line-wide “Rebirth,” DC shook up its publishing division in a big way by launching two major imprints: Hanna Barbera and Young Animal. Both setting out to broaden the publisher’s appeal, the imprints brought in fresh voices to reinvigorate old concepts for a modern audience, injecting satire, psychedelics and super-heroics into properties that haven’t seen the light of day in comics for quite sometime.
Curator of the Young Animal imprint, Gerard Way, said he pitched the line to [DC Comics co-publishers] Jim Lee and Dan Didio at a convention in South America, where they decided to build the imprint around Doom Patrol. “I find DC’s characters to be cerebrally interesting…you really get into the psychology of a DC character.”
Way said he wanted readers to have the feeling of reading comics that he had reading Vertigo’s titles in the ‘80s.
“I wanted to recreate that era of comics because it was an awakening for me. It made me a better person..it made me realize there was a much larger world out there — something I didn’t get from mainstream superheroes.”
DC’s Young Animal and Hanna Barbera lines will continue to rock the comics scene in 2017.
Big Changes Come to Vertigo, IDW & Image
On the indie front, publishers saw major changes as staffs were shaken up to make way for line-wide re-brandings. Firstly, longtime Vertigo editor Shell Bond left the imprint, as DC made way for a reboot to the line.
According to a statement from DC, Vertigo was “reexamining the direction and focus of the Vertigo imprint of comic books and graphic novels,” saying, “the goal is to keep competitive and stay relevant in the changing marketplace, and to set the business up for future success.”
Bond had been with DC Comics and specifically Vertigo since 1993, the same year the imprint was formed. In her time at the company, she’s worked on some of the most celebrated comics of the era including “The Sandman,” “Sandman Mystery Theater,” “The Invisibles,” “Fables” and “iZombie.” In 2012, Bond became Executive Editor of the Vertigo line, following the departure of longtime Vertigo head Karen Berger. Last year, Bond made the move with many of her colleagues to the west coast, as DC’s editorial operations shifted from New York City to Burbank, California.
Additionally, Image opened a new space in Portland, Oregon, that is not only larger, but also cheaper than their current office space in Berkeley. The new Image Comics headquarters will set up shop in Montgomery Park in northwest Portland.
IDW Publishing announced they will be joining Image in Portland, as the publisher is set to start a new imprint curated by Vice President of Marketing Dirk Wood, who will serve as creative director. The imprint, called Woodworks, will include a new line of books, “anchored by a high-end, curated magazine, featuring contributions by, and conversations with, the most talented and diverse creators in the industry.” Although it will be primarily focused on comics, the publisher says the magazine will also of a “dash” of entertainment and culture features, touching upon such areas as film, television, art, music and history.
Riri Williams And That Cover
With the introduction of the character Riri Williams to the world of Iron Man, along came a major controversy surrounding a variant cover depicting the teenage hero — who would go on to don her own Iron Man suit, with the codename Ironheart — in a suggestive manner.
Only a day after the cover was revealed, Marvel and Midtown Comics decided to pull its retailer exclusive “Invincible Iron Man” #1 variant that portrays Riri Williams in what some interpreted to be a sexualized depiction of the character. The cover, by J. Scott Campbell, drew some criticism from fans and creators for its portrayal of the teen hero.
Marvel and Midtown decided to pull the cover in a joint decision. Another variant, depicting the same pose, but with Riri in full Ironheart armor, was released in lieu of the original cover by Midtown.
Mockingbird Cancelled; Chelsea Cain Quits Twitter
Chelsea Cain, the writer of Marvel’s recently concluded “Mockingbird” series, deleted her Twitter account this year, citing multiple instances of online harassment as the reason behind her decision.
In light of Cain’s exit from Twitter, many fans and creators showed support for the writer with the hashtag #StandWithChelseaCain, posting the “Mockingbird” #8 cover and sharing original artwork inspired by the “Ask Me About My Feminist Agenda” message on the title character’s shirt.
Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso expressed solidarity with Cain on Twitter, writing, “I stand w/ Chelsea Cain, condemn online harassment, and think the MU, and the industry, benefits & grows from diverse creators & characters.”
Apart from her work in comics, Cain is a celebrated author of multiple acclaimed novels, notably the New York Times-bestselling “Heartsick” series of thrillers, which debuted in 2004. Cain made her comic book debut with 2015’s “Mockingbird: S.H.I.E.L.D. 50th Anniversary” which preceded her work on the “Mockingbird” ongoing series.
Cain noted in a tweet that she never blocked anyone on Twitter until she started writing a relatively low-profile comic book series, never having to in her years as a novelist selling millions of books. Cain subsequently expressed that this type of harassment is a problem specific to the comics industry.
Movies & Television
Deadpool Defies Expectations
Nobody expected it, but to the delight of comic book fans worldwide, the “Deadpool” live-action movie was a smash hit with audiences, bringing in $363 million domestically and $420 million from theaters globally for a whopping gross of $783 million on a mere $58 million production budget. And, to the delight of reviewers, the film turned out to be a critical feat as well.
Most recently, “Deadpool” earned a nom in the Best Adapted Screenplay category for the script written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick at the 2017 Writers Guild Awards.
“Deadpool” already won Best Comedy at the Critics’ Choice Awards, and Reynolds himself went home with Best Actor in a Comedy. Additionally, “Deadpool” has earned two Golden Globe nominations (Best Comedy and Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy). On top of all that, “Deadpool” also recently earned a nomination in the Best Edited Feature Film (Comedy) category at the ACE Eddie Awards.
All this is leading to one big question: Will “Deadpool” be nominated for an Oscar? We’ll have to wait until the nominees are unveiled on January 24 to find out…
In a recent talk with Variety, “Logan” star Hugh Jackman revealed that he believes in “Deadpool’s” Oscar chances. “When I hosted the Oscars, ‘Batman’ didn’t get nominated, and everyone was talking about it,” said Jackman. “It’s a stretch to say these are injustices in life — we are happy and making movies. But I love it when someone like Ryan gets recognized… These big-budget or comic book movies are not easy to pull off.”
Inhumans Announced for IMAX & ABC
In an unprecedented move, Marvel Studios and ABC announced they will debut a new “Inhumans” TV series — not a movie — which will premiere on IMAX first, before moving to the small-screen on ABC.
According to Marvel.com, “Inhumans” will exclusively show its first two episodes on IMAX screens for a two-week window — the first-time a live-action TV series has done so. The series will subsequently air on ABC with “additional exclusive content that can only be seen on the network.”
Created in 1965 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the Inhumans are a race of super-humans with “diverse and singularly unique powers,” as described in the official announcement. The group of heroes have recently seen a higher profile at Marvel on the comics page and on the small screen, as “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” has already introduced the mutant-like concept and explored it heavily.
“This unprecedented alliance represents a bold, innovative approach to launching great TV content for a worldwide audience,” Ben Sherwood, co-chairman, Disney Media Networks and president, Disney/ABC Television Group said in a statement. “It highlights Disney|ABC’s unrelenting commitment to finding new and creative ways to showcasing our very best programming and increasing global engagement and reach.”
Marvel’s “Inhumans” will premiere in September 2017.
DC Movies Get Mixed Reaction
A full three years after 2013’s “Man of Steel” kicked off the DC Cinematic Universe, the world-building finally went underway with the release of “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and “Suicide Squad” in 2016. Though financially successful, both films received a polarizing critical response.
CBR reviewer Kristy Puchko has this to say about “Batman v Superman”:
…Scenes don’t flow into one another; they just collide one after another, refusing to cohere to a sensible storyline. Leaps from Gotham to Metropolis are as jarring as their looks are indistinguishable here. But worse are a series of long, creature-filled dream sequences, into which we’re hurled without warning or logic. By the third bad Batman dream, I had completely lost my grasp on what was going on in this movie. And the script does the audience no favors.
…Overambitious and overlong, “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” aims to tell a collection of stories instead of focusing on one. In doing so, it underserves its classic characters, undercuts its battle scenes, and disrespects the audience who has been waiting decades to see this epic showdown on the big screen.
On “Suicide Squad,” Puchko had this to say:
…Scripted by Ayer, “Suicide Squad” rejects standard superhero story structure in favor of cutting to the chase — or in this case the sprawling finale. Ayer gives us 20 minutes of setup followed by 110 minutes of climax, filled with action, sass and the occasional break for heart-to-heart character reveals. It’s a structure that would make most screenwriters weep, but by treating “Suicide Squad” less like a story and more like a sandbox where he can play with some of DC’s more eccentric anti-heroes, Ayer delivers a deranged and deadly entertaining blockbuster that is just the shake-up this dud-studded summer needs…
…Though wonky in structure, it makes a certain sense that this antihero tale wouldn’t play by the rules. Packed with attitude, “Suicide Squad” is ferocious fun, boasting a bounty of action, mirthful mayhem, and a cavalcade of curious characters. It’s just the kick in the pants Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment need to correct course ahead of next year’s “Justice League.”
As evident with those reviews — albeit “Suicide Squad” is more positive — the DC Cinematic Universe had a rocky start in 2016. Not only were the films received lukewarmly, but big shuffles in staff at Warner Bros. indicated the studio wasn’t pleased with the results either. Jon Berg and Geoff Johns were reportedly promoted to heads of DC Films to course-correct the mistakes of 2016 — though it’s unclear, at least until “Wonder Woman” releases next year, how exactly those decisions will impact the film slate.
Killing Joke Gets Controversial
With the triumphant return of Bruce Timm to Warner Bros. Animation for the R-rated “Batman: The Killing Joke” animated adaptation, came along a controversy: Batgirl. The film, though beloved by many reviewers, brought along some criticism for its sexualization of Barbara Gordon and her romance with Batman in the first half of the film. Regardless, Timm and his team were certain they made the right decision adding a new element to the Alan Moore/Brian Bolland classic.
“There were things about the comic that frankly have bothered me for decades, but I decided going in, I’m not going to try to put my stamp on the movie. I’m not going to try to change it and make it better or whatever,” Timm told CBR in a video interview last month at Comic-Con International in San Diego. “We’re going to do a straight adaptation of the comic. I’ve been ambivalent about the comic for a long time. But it’s a great comic. It’s definitely disturbing on a lot of levels, but we didn’t back away from any of that.”
“We made the decision early on to not back away from the controversial elements of the story,” Timm said. “We figured if we’re going to do it, we’re going to be crucified if we don’t stick to the spirit of the comics. We decided not to tone anything down
“We told them, straight up, at the very beginning, ‘This could end up with an R-rating. Are you OK with that?’ ‘Yeah, it makes us a little nervous, but if it has to be an R-rating, then, yes,’” Timm related. “When we did the movie, from the script onward, we didn’t try to go for the R-rating — ‘here we go, brains and boobs everywhere’ — but at the same time, we didn’t try to tone it down.”
“Batman: The Killing Joke” is currently available on Digital HD, Blu-ray and DVD.
Disagree with our choices? Feel like there’s something we’re missing? Sound off in CBR’s Community forum with your thoughts!
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