Comics Collective Splash Page!: Comics-to-Film Preview - 2019
It's a new year and there is officially a plethora of new comics and comics-adjacent films coming. If you're interested in what I thought heading into last year's crop, you can check out my column here. This time around I decided to make the list a special addition of the Comics Collective Splash Page, my semi-regular look at what's going on in the world of comics. With that, I'm going to go ahead and get started, and probably keep things a bit brief as there are A LOT of films to cover.
Glass (January 18th) – M. Night Shyamalan continues his directorial rehabilitation tour (after positive responses to The Visit in 2015 and Split in 2016) by revisiting one of his best-received films, Unbreakable (2000) two decades later. This film brings back Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson from that film, and adds James McAvoy's troubled character from Split. I'm tentatively excited about this, though a lot is riding on how checked-in Bruce Willis is, and which Shyamalan we get.
The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part (February 8th) - Okay, so this isn't officially a comic book movie, but it's got a handful of DC's biggest superheroes (including one of the best takes on Batman) in it, so I'm counting it. As much as I surprisingly loved The Lego Movie I'm a bit on the fence about this one as directors Lord and Miller just have a screenplay and producing credit, and they're arguably what made that film work. This sequel sees our heroes fending off an alien invasion from across the Lego universe. Hilarity, hopefully, ensues.
Alita: Battle Angel (February 14th) – Much as Glass might be a return to form for M. Night Shyamalan, I'm hoping the same will be true for director Robert Rodriguez with this adaptation of the manga series Battle Angel Alita. This film is based on a screenplay co-written by James Cameron (who also produced the film) and co-stars Christoph Waltz, Mahershala Ali, Jennifer Connelly, Jackie Earle Haley, and Michelle Rodriguez alongside Rosa Salazar (Parenthood, American Horror Story: Murder House) in the title role and the sci-fi action looks right up my alley.
Captain Marvel (March 8th) - After TWENTY feature films, Marvel Studios will have their first fully headlined by a woman (after 2018's co-headlined sequel, Ant-Man and the Wasp). They'll also welcome their first female co-director in Anna Boden who co-wrote and helms the film with her longtime collaborator Ryan Fleck. Brie Larson stars, along with Samuel L. Jackson, Jude Law, Annette Benning, Djimon Hounsou, Lee Pace, and Ben Mendelsohn. Set in the 1990s and featuring the shape-shifting Skrulls as the villains, this film will also (presumably) lead directly into this year's Avengers: Endgame.
Shazam! (March 5th) – DC is riding high after the incredible success of 2018's Aquaman (which I definitely did not call) and this film might be able to capture the same blend of goofy fun and big action that helped make that film a hit. This one stars Zachary Levi as Captain Marvel (that's not a typo - this is based on the original 1940s Captain Marvel that DC acquired from Fawcett years ago and has no connection with the Marvel Comics/Studios character) who is really the teenage Billy Batson, who transforms after saying the name of the wizard who gave him his powers - Shazam. Just to make things more confusing, the wizard is played by Djimon Hounsou, who also co-stars in Captain Marvel.
Hellboy (April 12th) – Neil Marshall (The Descent) reboots the Hellboy franchise, taking over from Guillermo del Toro and bringing Stranger Things' David Harbour along as the title character. I thought the original series kind of missed the Gothic/Lovecraft-ian horror feel of Mike Mignola's comics, but were fun enough as their own thing. Based on the trailer this looks a bit more like that then leaning all that much into the horror, despite the R-rating.
Avengers: Endgame (April 25th) – Remember the biggest superhero movie of all time from just last year that ended on a huge cliffhanger? Yeah, this is the sequel to that.
Pokemon: Detective Pikachu (May 10th) – I might not have mentioned it before but I'm old. Pokemon was that weird game/cartoon that was on when I wanted to be watching more Batman: the Animated Series and that I couldn't tell apart from Digimon and Dragonball Z. Well, it's also been a manga series, so it makes this list. And...I'm going to see it? Trust me, I'm as surprised as you are. But, I like Ryan Reynolds, and if you add the word "Detective" to just about anything, you have my attention.
Brightburn (May 24th) - Like Glass and it's predecessor Unbreakable, this is a superhero film (or, more accurately, a film about someone with superpowers) that isn't based on an existing comic book property. It's directed by David Yarovesky, but most of the promotion has focused on former Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn, who produces the film based on a screenplay by his brother Brian and cousin Mark. The movie stars Elizabeth Banks and David Denman, and deconstructs the Superman mythos by looking at what would happen if the superpowered alien taken in by sweet Midwestern farmers was maybe sent here for a more sinister purpose.
Dark Phoenix (June 7th) – Pushed back from its original release date of November 2018 this is thelatest (and likely, last) entry in the X-Men franchise (at least, until the inevitable Disney reboot). Based on the seminal X-Men storyline (told in a pretty bastardized form in 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand) this film focuses on a young Jean Grey as she’s corrupted by a super powerful cosmic entity known as the Phoenix. I should be incredibly geeked out over this film, but X-Men: Apocalypse was somehow both a convoluted mess AND incredibly boring, and the trailer still hasn't sold me on it. Writer-Producer Simon Kinberg (if it’s an action film from Fox released in the last decade he’s probably had something to do with it) makes his directorial debut, so I have no idea what to expect. Jennifer Lawrence, James McAvoy, and Michael Fassbender, Nicholas Hoult, and Evan Peters return, as do Apocalypse’s Sophie Turner, Ty Sheridan, and Alexandra Shipp.
Men in Black: International (June 14th) – One of the go-to comic nerd factoids when you're wanting to show off is dropping the knowledge that the Men in Black franchise was ACTUALLY based on a little-known comic. This film leaves behind Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones and replaces them with two of the most ridiculously charming and good-looking actors of the moment, Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson (fresh off of their pairing in 2017's Thor: Ragnarok). And, for me, that goes a long way toward putting this in the "looks like fun" rather than the "tired retread" category.
Spider-Man: Far From Home (July 5th) – Hey, remember when that thing happened to Spidey at the end of the biggest superhero of all time last year? Yeah, he gets better. And, based on the title, goes far from home to face Jake Gyllenhall's Mysterio in this follow-up to the wonderful Spider-Man: Homecoming. This time your favorite cinematic SHIELD agents, Nick Fury and Maria Hill join in on the fun (they, too, presumably get better). While Holland has been bumped down to my second-favorite Spider-Man (seriously, after Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse I'm ride-or-die for Shameik Moore's Miles Morales) he's still my favorite Peter Parker, and if this carries over what I liked so much about the previous film, I'm all-in.
The New Mutants (August 2nd) - Directed by Josh Boone (The Fault in Our Stars), this film loosely adapts the 1984 Chris Claremont/Bill Sienkiwicz storyline “The Demon Bear Saga.” Centering on a group of young mutants, the trailer looks to be almost a straight-up horror film, well apart from the usual X-Men shenanigans . Boone’s assembled a talented cast of young actors, which include Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones), Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch), and Charlie Heaton (Stranger Things). To be fair, it's anyone's guess if this film will actually come out. It was initially scheduled for February of 2018, then quickly pushed back to allow for reportedly extensive reshoots. It's also likely that the X-Men and related franchises will fully fall under Disney's control in June or July, so this might end up being quietly shelved.
Joker (October 4th) - The comics have, famously, kept the origin of Batman's arch-nemesis shrouded in mystery for the most part, and on paper I prefer it that way. But after watching Joaquin Phoenix's brilliant performance in 2018's You Were Never Really Here I'll be first in line for his take on the character in this origin pic by Todd Phillips (The Hangover).
The Addams Family (October 11th) - Both because of the cast, which includes Oscar Isaac as Gomez, Charlize Theron as Morticia, Chloë Grace Moretz as Wednesday, and Finn Wolfhard as Pugsley, and the animation which looks to capture the style of the original comics by Charles Addams, I'm really looking forward to this film.
Sonic the Hedgehog (November 8th) - I know next-to-nothing about this film, which stars Ben Schwartz and Jim Carrey as the hero and villain, respectively. I've played the video game (badly) in the past, and it had a surprisingly long-running comic book adaptation (290 issues published by Archie Comics from 1993 to 2017). Beyond that we'll have to wait and see. Oh, and fun fact, Mark Millar, the creator of the Kingsman comic, which has the third film in its franchise coming out the same day, had an acclaimed run on the Sonic the Comic series back in the 90s.
Kingsman: The Great Game (November 8th) - I really enjoyed the first Kingsman: the Secret Service but still haven't gotten around to checking out the sequel from 2017 (despite owning it for several months now). This prequel from Matthew Vaughn (who did the previous two films) stars Daniel Bruhl, Ralph Fiennes, Charles Dance, and Matthew Goode looks at the origins of the Kingsman in the early-1900s.