From Comics to Film: Green Lantern, Iron Man 2, Thor … and Scott Pilgrim?

With viewers watching the Watchmen this week, below is a disorderly line-up of other comics coming to a theater near you.

Online hawks have already drawn showdowns between Warner Bros/ DC and Marvel as everybody’s favorite boy wizard Harry Potter squares off against The Avengers on the exact same release date in 2011 even though the whole year is, ah, practically wide open.  And masked crime fighters vie with little blue woodland creatures as The Green Hornet bursts out the same weekend as the Smurfs in the summer of 2010, unless the latter picks a date that’s … smurfier.

The Loser

Watchmen‘s The Comedian, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, is the first star announced in negotiations for the upcoming movie adaptation of Vertigo/ DC Comics’ The Losers. Special ops fight in the War on Terror and then find themselves betrayed by their enigmatic handler and left for dead. They vow revenge on the CIA. It’s always the freakin’ CIA. Check out Issue #1 here.

Sylvain White directs this, and besides reportedly helming Frank Miller’s Ronin, he is also in pre-production on Castlevania. Let’s revisit that: They are making a film from the classic old video game with the classic old video game awesome synth/ organ soundtrack. In a fit of nostalgia, someone may have spent a few hours listening to tinkly piano arrangements of old video game music. From techno to George Winston. Genius.

Iron Man 2

“The truth is … I am Iron Man.”

One of the greatest last lines of a movie, it’s only natural that another movie is needed to address the repercussions from that statement. Hence, Iron Man 2, April 2010.

By now, everyone knows that Don Cheadle has replaced Terrence Howard as Rhodey and that Samuel L. Jackson reprises his role as Nick Fury (and just signed an unprecedented long-term contract with Marvel to play Fury in nine movies ranging from Thor to The Avengers).

But suspense still runs high for the other characters: Emily Blunt recently dropped out of the running as the Black Widow (reportedly due to a ‘forced’ appearance in Gulliver’s Travels—boo, Fox!), thus clearing the playing field for anyone from Scarlet Johansson to Eliza Dushku (who publicly declared her interest in the role on Howard Stern). And that’s not even taking into account the rumored casting of Tim Robbins as Iron Man daddy or Mickey Rourke in villainy (who, incidentally, gave one of the best award acceptance speeches ever at the Spirit Awards—you can see Phillip Seymour Hoffman dying in the background).

Great Brit and Harry Potter alum Kenneth Branagh directs the other big Marvel film for 2010, replacing Matthew Vaughn (Stardust). I’ve only ever seen Branagh in lively Shakespeare adaptations (Much Ado About Nothing, Hamlet) and the surprisingly absorbing Dead Again, but it’s not that far of a jump from the Bard to a hammer-wielding Norse God, is it?

Green Lantern
With the Superman Returns sequel and the Justice League movie on the back burner, Warner/ DC has settled on Green Lantern and Jonah Hex as its next hot projects. Set for Christmas 2010 and probably directed by Martin Campbell (Casino Royale), shooting has reportedly started in Australia. A recent flurry of news apparently has a number of people turning down the Hal Jordan role, including Ryan Gosling, Emile Hirsch (Speed Racer), and Sam Worthington (Clash of the Titans). Fans wonder why slightly older actors like Nathan Fillion and David Boreanaz can’t be considered, dammit.

Green Hornet
(Note: Never mix up “Green Lantern” and “Green Hornet” in front of a comic fan. The withering stare and head-banging that follows is enough to shrivel any blogger. Oops.)

Hornet star Seth Rogen and Stephen Chow as cohort Kato have found their new director: dreamy quirky filmmaker Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind).

When last we saw Gondry, his dim video rental clerks, Jack Black and Mos Def, were busy making their own bootleg versions of movies like Ghostbusters and Driving Miss Daisy after accidentally “erasing” their store’s entire VHS collection. Jack Black’s depiction of “Miss Daisy,” dressed in his Sunday’s finest (flower-print dress and little pink hat), is not for the faint of heart.

Anyway, because of his creative track record, Gondry had to first prove to the Hollywood suits that he could make a straight big-budget action film without Styrofoam, surrealistic scenery, and Charlotte Gainsbourg.

Said Seth Rogen: “My direct quote to [Gondry] right before he met with the studio was, ‘You have to convince them they’re not gonna show up on set one day and everything is gonna be made out of cardboard.’ And he said, ‘I can definitely do that.'”

Jonah Hex
It’s not No Country For Old Men, but picture Josh Brolin as the scarred gun-slinging Civil War vet and John Malkovich as his wild, wild West nemesis—wealthy Southern plantation owner Quentin Turnbull. Director Jimmy Hayward has accomplished many recent things, but I am still most impressed by his credentials as animator on both Toy Story 2 and Finding Nemo.

But as Jonah Hex is more Clint Eastwood anti-hero than Tom Hanks animated, safe to say this DC comic adaptation will be a lot more gritty and a little less adorable.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

And now, the one that occupies a fuzzy part of many fan hearts—the story of Scott Pilgrim: 23 years old, bassist in a rock band (the “Sex Bob-omb”), and “between jobs.” The Canadian slacker falls in love with an edgy American delivery girl named Ramona V. Flowers, but must first defeat her seven “evil ex-boyfriends” in martial arts combat in order to date her.

Starring Michael Cera (Michael Cera!), Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Death Proof), Chris Evans (Fantastic Four), Brandon Routh (Superman), Mae Whitman (it’s an Arrested Development reunion), and more—Scott Pilgrim has the good fortune of Edgar Wright as director, he of Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead and the underrated Brit television series Spaced with Simon Pegg and Jessica Hynes.

Wright also wins the award for best reveal of casting updates, running an entertaining photoblog which “announces” new casting via photos of the actor covering half his or her face with a sketch of his or her character in the movie.

Some of the fun comes from guessing the actor’s identity—case in point with the recently solved mystery of Jason Schwartzman as Ramona’s final ex-boyfriend (and naturally, organizer of the League of Evil Ex-Boyfriends). Wright also had a little fun with fans by “announcing” Michael Cera (pictured here) as the new star of Thor. He just needs to grow a few inches, take some steroids, and find a non-paper mâché hammer.

Other pending mysteries include the possible addition of ace cinematographer Bill Pope (The Matrix) , as well as recent Academy-Award winning film editor Chris Dickens (Slumdog Millionaire).


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