(AKA here’s one for fans of zombies, Brad Pitt, Thor or the Justice League of America)
One of the perks of trying to write a Grant Morrison biog and being the reporter who broke the news to the world about David Tennant being the 10th Doctor Who is that I have some decent contacts – who seem more happy to share stuff when I’m not a reporter bizarrely enough – who pass on the odd gem.
In this case, imagine my surprise the other morning when my inbox had not one, but three movie scripts – for Marvel Comics’ Thor, DC Comics/Warner Bros’ Justice League of America and the adaptation of Max Brooks’ World War Z novel.
Without trying to out-AICN AICN, here’s a little rundown of the three of them, starting with the last one (and isn’t it a nice change for the blog to be talking about something except media?)…
World War Z is actually quite a tricky book to adapt to a movie. As it’s mostly a bunch of vignettes, it’s hard to build up concern for one character. And while the book makes you care for a huge amount of them, that’s a harder task for a two hour movie and something more suited to a TV miniseries.
But JMS takes the overall idea and adds in more from the narrator collating all these stories, adding in ideas on the the nature of duty and truth, but constantly building it around a human story that has a nice little tweak (twist would be pushing it) at the end.
One thing that JMS is often criticised for is his dialogue, yet I think when he nails conversation, there are few better at it (it was one of the strong points of his Spider-Man run) and he gets it right here.
Brad Pitt is said to be interested in this and if he is – and there’s a decent director on board – this could be a fantastic hit, especially as I think the zeitgeist over the next few years is going to be for survival under extreme conditions and the breakdown of society (if you look around, you’ll see that popular fiction has already been going that way for the last year or so).
Well worth a watch when it comes out.
Then there’s Thor – Marvel’s take on the Norse Gods. I’ve never been a big fan of the comic or the character, but he has his fans, though I wonder how they’ll take to this version because there’s next to nothing that comes from the comic – it isn’t set on Earth and there’s none of the alter-ego nonsense – this is very much tapping into the Lord of the Rings/Hobbit audience.
It’s a decent enough script and origin story – it’s the tale of Thor v Loki, the hero is banished and then discovers his purpose in life before coming back to save the day. One thing it will also be is either expensive or shot with a lot of blue and green screen as it’s more or less all set in Asgard. Rumour has it that Marvel has said Matthew Vaughan can direct it if he’s able to bring the budget down to $150million, to which I say good luck to him.
If you know your Loki from your Odin then this is your thing, but it’s not for me. Neil Gaiman’s Sandman and American Gods were enough norseness for me.
So then, finally, what about the oft-ballyhooed JLA film, starring many of DC Comics’ top heroes – Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and so on. It’s a decent stab at a superhero teamup, ripping shamelessly from Mark Waid’s Tower of Babel storyline from earlier in the 2000s, but it’s the exact opposite of the Thor movie: while that has gone for an almost non-comic book feel, this script feels like it’s full of fanboy moments and marketing plugs (for example: for a funeral all of the superheroes wear black versions of their outfits).
It’s a decent script, but for something like this, decent isn’t good enough. This – to nick how Grant Morrison used to describe the JLA during his run – is a pantheon of the Gods and the threats and disasters they face should be equally epic, while reminding us why we love them.
And this script doesn’t do that. To be fair, neither did the Superman Returns script. At the end of that film, a near dead Superman lifts an entire continent into space and throws it out of Earth orbit and there was no sense of majesty, no grandeur, no awe (apart from ‘awe for God’s sake is this film nearly over?’).
DC may make the better comics, but Marvel seem to be whupping them at the box office – and you can’t use this year’s films as an indicator because there will be a lot of ghoulish attention over The Dark Knight.
So if this lot all came out on the one Friday night, what should you go and see? World War Z without a doubt. After that, it depends on your preferences. I’d just hit the pub.
Thanks to those who sent me these scripts – sorry I can’t name you for a credit, but I’m sure you would rather stay in jobs…