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If there is anything important that can be gleaned from this course, it is the fact that adapting a superhero movie from a comic book is not easy. One has to ensure that the superhero fits into the superhero mythology, and generic formula to qualify as one, when to use the revisionist or parodic cycle if the classical formula no longer appeals, if a television season would be a better adaptation medium to create new audiences, who would follow and get to know the characters, as opposed to a movie franchise. Then there is also the strategy and spending on publicity, marketing and establishing a brand name, which means investing in ancillaries like video games and other merchandise, while also reaching out to fan communities and revealing information to generate interest. As such, it can be really disappointing when film brands go through all that effort, only to end up as a failure like the case of Supergirl (1984) or Catwoman (2004). This is why we will be using a SWOT analysis to see whether our production, Agents of Atlas, which is supposed to be released in April 2013, is a strong brand or not.
A major strength of this movie is the fact that our source, Agents of Atlas is a newer product than most classical superhero films. This gives us a few advantages as a brand since a lot of upcoming movies are sequels, prequels and reboots like X-Men: First Class (2011), Iron Man 3(2013)and the new Spiderman movie. One could argue that it is a weakness but that may not be the case. Kick Ass (2010) was written almost around the same the comic book was written, and was able to gain a worldwide gross of $95,609, 990, according to The Numbers, a and a 76% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Even an original superhero movie like Hancock (2008) with a 40% rotten rating was able to gain a worldwide gross of $624, 346, 274. In any case this number shows that people are interested in novelty, which is something that can be used to our advantage.
A major weakness of this movie is the fact that we are not going for a literal adaptation of this movie but will instead be making a few changes in tones, and eliminating characters like Namora. This is risky due to the possibility of alienating fans who may not appreciate the changes. Pascal Lefevre points out how diehard “fans tend to consecrate the original work and scrutinize the adaptation for so called errors and misinterpretations” (Lefevre 5). This included changes in costumes and character motivation in X-Men as well as minor details like Spiderman’s organic web shooters (Lefervre 5). We also discussed how eliminating favorite character could upset fans during the Week 9 discussion group. At the same time, Wandtke’s discussion of Blade going from the stereotypical token black vampire killer in the comic books to a more self-reflexive racially aware half-vampire in the movie illustrates the possibilities of focusing more on the action, as well as the darker and more relatable theme of second chances. If successful, not only will fans accept the changes but may “desire the comic book version… be more like the film version” (Wandtke 11). That being said, the possibility of alienating fans is still risky.
An opportunity that we have as a production is the fact that the superhero genre remains very lucrative and popular, with movies like the The Dark Knight (2008), being placed as number 3 in The Number’s “All Time U.S Top 20” category and number 7 in the “All Time Worldwide Top 20”, Spiderman (2002) was number 10 in the U.S category, while its 2007 second sequel hit 19 for the U.S and 18 for worldwide. This popularity can also be seen in the rise of upcoming comic adaptations like Captain America (2011), Thor( 2011), Green Lantern (2011) , Avengers (2012) , Iron Man 3 (2013). These amounts of superhero films should excite the fans, especially at the 2012 San Diego Comic Con, “the most prodigious and important summits devoted to comic book culture” (Johnson 64). Fans who will be excited about the 2011 releases and the upcoming 2012 1and 2013 release would be available, which may give us the opportunity to inform and generate audience interest about our production.
A potential threat that we may need to be careful about is the potential competition we may face. Eileen Meehan points out how “all shows compete with each other, regardless of manufacturer’s identity” (Meehan, 59). While there is currently no movie release in April 2013 has been brought to our knowledge. The fact that Iron Man 3, a Marvel adaptation like ours will be released in 2013 puts us in competition with it “as well as with all the other films released” (Meehan, 59), especially since we are not including it in the expanded Marvel universe. However, a good promotion strategy can still allow us to generate fan interest, and avert failure.
References
Lefevre Pascale. “Incompatible Visual Ontologies? The Problematic adaptation of Drawn Images” (Ian Gordon, Mark Jancovich, and Matthew P. McAllister, eds.) Film and Comic Books. Jackson : University Press of Mississippi, 2007. P. 64-85
Wandtke, Terrence. “Introduction: Once upon a time again.” The amazing transforming superhero! : essays on the revision of characters in comic books, film and television. Jefferson, N.C. : McFarland & Co., 2007. P. 5-32
Johnson, Derek. “Will the real Wolverine please stand up? Marvel’s mutation from monthlies to movies.” (Ian Gordon, Mark Jancovich, and Matthew P. McAllister, eds.) Film and Comic Books. Jackson : University Press of Mississippi, 2007. P. 64-85
Meehan, Eileen. “’Holy Commodity Fetish, Batman!’: The Political Economy of a Commercial Intertext.” (Roberta Pearson ed.) The Many Lives of Batman: Critical Approaches to a Superhero. New York : Routledge , 1991. P. 47-65
The Numbers (http://www.the-numbers.com/)

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Lets face it, Comic Books will never stop having the most obsessive fans in the largest doses, almost as much as any Trekkie or Lucas fanatic out there. The more flamboyant they are, the more isolated they become from Society’s “normality”. What comic book movies have proven however, is that it does bring different people over to the theatre to experience a comic book brought to life (or anything as lame as that).

While “Agents of atlas” may not be the most popular of the Marvel comics series, it certainly has bridged many gaps between the more famous ones including the bloody Civil War stuff. While my group has decided that they would not want to blatantly suggest that it is in the same universe as “Iron Man” or the upcoming “The Avengers” movies, it is here where the fans would come into play. Their duty would be to convince their “normal” friends to see our film in the best case scenario where they find the movie decent. In return, it is our job to make sure that the fans are satisfied and in good hands.By that, I mean that we should accommodate them properly in doing justice to the source material of “agents of Atlas”.

One big mistake Hollywood has made in the early years of comic book adaptations, and is still ongoing to a certain degree, is that they do not give comic books enough dignity and are afraid to delve into any of the original stories and mythos that the source material can provide great movies with. They try to make their own “Hollywoodified” reality when it comes to these films, and slap their cliched formulaic structure on those properties, just for the sake of making quick cash and not doing service for the fans. While “Watchmen” was not a good movie in some people’s eyes, one cannot deny that the director, Zack Snyder, abided by his fans in making sure the images and texts from graphic novel were literally on the big screen. At the same time there are other things to consider like the narrative, depth and the essential characteristics of the important figures in the comic books. This issue is not even limited to comic books, but to video games and even “normal” books. Many of the James Bond films, based on their novel counterparts, usually include a sub plot or even a certain plot device that, while making sense within the narrative of the book, do not make sense in the movie because they are taken out of context (Eg. In “You only live twice”, the whole idea of Bond “becoming Japanese” just comes off as redundant and silly in the movie, since there is no real cause or point to it, as the movie progresses). Paul Anderson’s “Mortal Kombat” film did not have any defined character traits for the primary characters as the video games had (Because Hollywood’s assumption is that video games have more cardboard characters than their crappy movie counterparts). This is something one needs to avoid. Christopher Nolan got Batman right, Jon Favreau and his team of writers got Iron Man right, and the same can be done for any source material, if treated with the proper respect.

“Agents of Atlas” can be tackled easily for a big screen adaptation. The important thing is to get the characters right, in essence at least. Their origin stories will be dealt with for the sake of the narrative, and not for some cheap flashback that will turn out to be completely useless in the grand scheme of things. It is important to note that the Gorilla character was not always an animal, and the origin will clarify that. The world of this movie contains supernatural elements to it, and we will not shy away from them out of any fear that we will look foolish. No, we acknowledged this world for what it is, and we will make the fans happy.

In a hypothetical scenario that this becomes a three movie franchise, we will be taking the ideas and opinions of the fans from the start to the finish, to know what they would want to see in the movie. While fan fiction is not as common with this franchise as it is with Buffy, we would be glad to look at any stories fans might create for any potential involvement in a later film (even prequel or “bridge” stories are acceptable). IMDB message boards are important sources for us to consider in order to keep with user expectations, as we do not feel that they are an unnecessary mode of feedback.

The important thing for movies like this, is to know your audience, treat them well, and take their advice into consideration if you want to appeal to the masses.

Marketing the Agents

This week we explored the concept of Ancillaries and marketing through promotions, ads and merchandise. As Ancillaries consist of the deconstruction of the exhibitions (timeline) of Hollywood cinematic productions, our group, Agents of Atlas 3 are presently in the process of deconstructing and managing exactly how we will 1. Present our project in conjunctions to the linear timeline stereotypically employed when promoting any cinematic productions and 2. The vectors of distribution in which we must take under consideration when planning our run time, theatrical run and time of release.
This being said in reference to this week’s class reading; Eileen Meehan’s “’Holy Commodity Fetish, Batman!’: The Political Economy of a Commercial Intertext.” Written in 1991, our group is in the course of action of determining how to position our product using marketing techniques in order to establish our projects commercial potential.

Batman for example, is a prime illustration for promotions as it has culturally created webs of cross references psychologically involved in our cultural recollection. From Sippy cups to underwear, the Batman logo (for example) is everywhere, including in television broadcasts. Moreover diverse ads as well as appearance in multiple tv sitcoms and advertisement, have enabled the Batman logo as a cultural and recognizable icon.

(As showcased in the clip bellow)

Furthermore, when analyzing the multiple possibilities for the development of our cinematic production, it is easy to establish that our film will easily be marketable to children and adults alike. From toys at Burger King or McDonalds to adult themes video games, when going back to the lecture and reading, our goal is to showcase our product and create a new superhero logo in which representing the soon to be iconic Agents of Atlas.

We will also take advantage of free marketing techniques such as twitter and word of mouth. There are two examples of these techniques being used. The first is the upcoming horror film Red State where there will be no money spent on advertising. It is being taken across the globe in a roadshow, being pre-screened for audiences in order to obtain enough money for theatrical release in October. Another example of how free marketing can be used is The Last Exorcism. They created a video and posted it on chatroulette. People thought they were about to see a girl take off her top when all of a sudden she becomes possessed and attacks the camera. The movies website appears, then its on to the next victim. This is a smart way to get your film talked about since it’s free, cheap and gives the viewer a sense of what the film is about in a quick 30 second video.

In conclusion when taking under consideration the aspect of turning our film franchise into a video game before the release of the film, we will make sure to offer additional information in order to feed the devoted fans and new audiences. Concentrating primarily on back stories of either they’re previous conquest or future worlds, the player will ultimately have control over their avatars fate. As video games, when it comes to superhero films, are a large part of the market and merchandizing it is important to stay faithful and distinctive to both the original story line as well as evolve to create a unique product that everyone can enjoy.

Meehan, Eileen. “’Holy Commodity Fetish, Batman!’: The Political Economy of a Commercial Intertext.” (Roberta Pearson ed.) The Many Lives of Batman: Critical Approaches to a Superhero. New York : Routledge , 1991. P. 47-65

While comic book/ superhero films supposedly appeal to the masses, it is usually the B-list characters/independent comic books/cult favourites that tend to get overlooked during its theatrical release.

Movies like Edgar Wright’s “Scott Pilgrim Vs the World” for example, had a budget of at least 30 million dollars, and based on its fantastic and critically successful showing at the 2010 Comic Con, it was going to be a sure hit. However, that turned out not to be so, as it ended up with just over 47 million dollars worldwide. Why would a movie that would appeal to teenagers, hipster crowds, video game and comic book fans, end up being one of the big flops of the year?

While marketing and advertising may have something to do with it, it may not always be the case. With our proposed adaptation of “Agents of Atlas”, it is our intention to target the 18-34 year olds, as well as the fans of the comic. With 50 percent of our audience being fans of the comic, another quarter would have either heard of the comic book, and the remaining quarter would just be aware of its theatrical release. A Pg-13 film obviously means a the teenage crowd could be a prime bonus to our target demographic.

With that in mind, advertising should not be a huge problem. Firstly, tv spots and commercials would be a no-brainer for a studio film. To attract comic book fans it might be wise to place commercials before/during shows such as “The Walking dead”, and to play to more of the teen audience, it would be better to play commercials around the slots where “Gossip Girl” or “Community” would be playing. Advertisements in comic books and even special releases related to the movie through some focus on a few of the characters would be beneficial to get the comic book nerds into theatres. Trailers played before movies of a similar genre in theatres would be appropriate as well. Publicity through media and talk show interviews would help gather more attention, especially if Conan O’brien or Jon Stewart get you on their shows.

Alot of publicity goes to the “word of mouth” process as well as general film criticism. Another Pg-13 flop this year, thanks to the harsh critics, was Dc Comic’s western “Jonah Hex”, featuring Josh Brolin and Megan Fox. With budget of 47 million, the movie only made just under 11 million worldwide. While Megan Fox was bound to attract some of the majority of male viewers, it still didn’t help the movie make nearly enough. The bad acting, horrible direction and the general lack of coherence made it impossible for most critics to take seriously.

The movie of our making is ideally suited to play in all major theatres across North America. We believe that with a committed director, a proper screenplay and the right choice of actors, would be good enough to garner support from our demographic. An ensemble cast of diverse characters should be interesting enough to attract peoples attention. The actors would range from supporting actors in movies to bigger name Tv stars in order to play in accordance with some of our target audience.

While marketing really seems to play a factor in making sure people see the movie, can it truly guarantee its commercial success?

This week the lecture in class was on alternative media concerning superheroes in the field of television. Although our group has decided that our Agents of Atlas adaptation would be made into a film I will reference how it could also fall into alternative media. I will discuss how our adaptation of Agents of Atlas can broaden its horizons and offer more than just becoming a single film. By doing this I will be able to show the vast opportunities that our adaptation can have to ensure a long prosperous franchise. I will also reference examples how alternative media has brought success to other franchises. By doing this I hope to conclude how and why alternative media could be successful for our adaptation of Agents of Atlas.

To begin with I will focus on alternative media regarding television. Adapting superheroes in television is much different than film. As discussed in the lecture with the rise of cable television, superhero shows have been able to reach a larger and more diverse audience. Television superhero shows are able to also branch out more. As an example with this week’s screening, the show Heroes (Tim Kring, 2006-present) demonstrates that the characters have different unique cultural backgrounds thus making them completely diverse. By offering diversity, superhero television shows can be more successful world wide. Average superhero films tend to target North American audiences and may not do as well in other parts of the world. But superhero television shows like Heroes offer diversity through the different cultural backgrounds of the characters and the show ensures that more people around the world can relate or feel a connection to these characters. Superhero television shows are as well most likely to be adapted according to the countries that they are shown in. The lecture discussed that television shows are sometimes “copied” and slightly changed to offer a country their own version of that specific show. It is more unlikely that a film will be completely altered or re-made to cater to another country. Superhero television shows also allow the characters to play a more complex relationship on screen rather than in film. This is possible in television because more time is available through making new episodes and seasons. In television more time can be spent on characters backgrounds, relationships and sub-plots. In film time is restricted within the average 90-120 minutes making it impossible to go into depth with each specific character. Film tends to restrict plots in the same way. Although sequels are possible to make, more can be achieved to elaborate on plots with television with a successful ongoing series.

With regarding the rise of cable television there are many options that a superhero television series can explore. Premium channels offer a television show to become more appealing, usually to a more mature audience. Channels such as HBO, AMC, and STARZ are clear examples regarding this. These channels tend to spend more money on television shows and try to give them a more theatrical look. An example that I would like to use regards the film 300 (Zack Snyder, 2007) and the show Spartacus Blood and Sand (Stephen S. DeKnight, 2010). 300 was a film that used a specific style of effects with green screen and depicted its look based on the graphic novel by Frank Miller. Spartacus Blood and Sand shares this similar style by using green screen and lots of CGI particularly for action scenes. The CGI used in Spartacus Blood and Sand tends to appear of a lesser quality than the CGI used in 300 but the style remains the same. Spartacus Blood and Sand proves that is possible to bring something similar to that of a graphic novel which has been adapted into a film onto a television screen. Spartacus Blood and Sand also exploits the use of sexuality, violence and mature themes in order to obtain a darker tone to appeal to an older audience who will take the show more seriously. If our group were to elect Agents of Atlas as a television show we would most likely try to sell it to a premium channel studio. Our Agents of Atlas would be targeted towards a mature audience and exploit mature themes in order to capture that set audience. Financially our Agents of Atlas would benefit with a premium channel as well which would capitalize on our profits. As mentioned in the lecture our group would have to make sure that our superhero television series maintains a sophisticated narrative so that our viewers would actually invest time into it. Since our target audience would be more mature we would be missing out on other audiences such as families and young teenagers. In order to make up for that it is imperative that our show would have to stay up to date with new episodes and offer incentives to keep viewers interested. This brings me to my second part of how alternative media can be used by incorporating advertising tools such as the internet.

The internet is also an alternative form of media that can help draw in an audience regarding television series. As described in the lecture the internet offers devices such as fan sites, youtube advertisement and various other devices to strengthen an ongoing television series. However I believe that the most important thing for television series when it comes to the internet are internet mini web episodes that help fill in the gaps between television seasons. If our Agents of Atlas were to be adapted into a television series, creating mini web episodes in between seasons would not only keep our audience up to date with the narrative but it would also keep our audience interested for the upcoming season. The lecture mentioned as well that the internet is more accessible to people through application devices like iPhones and therefore it would be easier for our audience to access them. The internet would naturally offer much more than just mini web episodes for our adaptation. Exclusive content such as actor interviews, documentaries, and mockumentaries could be created for the internet to maintain our audience’s interest and devotion to the show. Live web chats with actors from the show on social networks like Skype could also be a venture to explore. The internet offers an endless choice of possibilities regarding how to further advertise and enhance a television series. Most importantly the internet can also advertise marketing aspects such as the release of DVD box sets for the seasons of our superhero television show. One main advantage of a superhero television series is that with the creation of various seasons our franchise would continuously bring in profits once those seasons are available on DVD to own. Unlike a superhero film where fans just buy one copy of the film, a superhero television series would entice fans to buy the newest season of the show once it is available on DVD. As the lecture discussed other gimmicks could be incorporated with this such as offering collectible action figures or limited edition novels within the DVD box sets. Television series tend to offer a longer life span for a franchise which brings me to my next point regarding spin-offs.

Television spin-offs offer a franchise to even further explore horizons to capture a larger audience. The lecture for example mentioned how Batman first began as a movie series, then live action television series and later turned into an animated series. It is possible for our Agents of Atlas group to later create a more toned down television series that would not only cater to a younger audience but slowly gain their interest in our more mature television version once they reach proper age to view mature material. By doing this our franchise could gain newer viewers to show interest in our series and the franchise life span would be increased. Prequels are also another option if our viewers become interested in learning more about our characters that are introduced. For example while waiting for the second season of Spartacus Blood and Sand a prequel short series called Spartacus Gods of the Arena (Stephen S. DeKnight, 2011) was created to further elaborate on the characters background and origins. Prequel shows offer a fresh idea when fans are waiting for the next series or become tired with the current series. Films rarely have this advantage because typically sequels and/or prequels are never as good as the original first films. Our Agents of Atlas television series adaptation would have the luxury of creating various options such a prequel shows or spin-off shows in the event of our original series becoming too ongoing or loss of interest among fans. Television spin-offs offer franchises endless possibilities.

In conclusion it is important to consider the option of alternative media when creating a superhero franchise. There are many advantages but many disadvantages as well. If a superhero franchise is adapted into a television series the worst scenario they face is cancellation when fans become no longer interested or believe the narrative plot becomes too repetitive. A possible way to avoid cancellation is to perhaps predetermine a set number of seasons before hand instead of constantly coming out with new seasons that slowly deep dragging the show on. Another way to avoid cancellation is to later focus on spin-off series or even move the television series to film in order to recapture the audience and offer something new and exciting. The main point is that if a superhero franchise were to be adapted into an alternative form of media such as television it is paramount that the franchise maintains their target audience, keeps a strong sophisticated narrative and is able to broaden its horizons by using the various options that alternative media has to offer.

The Revision of the superhero

Last time, we discussed what it meant to be a superhero, and Coogan stating that the hero must have a mission, superpowers and secret identity in order to qualify as a generic superhero.

 

This led to another problem. Since genres involve repetition and familiarity, one has to ponder what happens when familiar conventions cease to hold audience interest. The superhero genre, like other genres, goes through cycles. Conventions are established in the primitive cycle, accepted in the classical cycle, questioned in the revisionist cycle, and mocked in the parodic cycle.

 

According to Terrence Wandtke, revisions are essential to the superhero genre due to the fact that they are introduced to new audiences who do not want to read about their father’s superhero, hence the newer is often privileged over the older. That being said, revisionism is not necessarily an evolution since the degree of audience acceptance varies. This may be because aspects of the superhero’s character such as the costume as a disguise and marker of self, and conceits like the hero’s inability to age fundamentally affect revisionism. Superheroes may be revised simply through additions to the narrative, or through fundamental changes to the narrative. Some revisions involve rewriting the idea of the superhero as a concept, or may be done critically outside the superhero medium.

 

Kick Ass (2010) is an example of the revision of the superhero as a concept. The teenage hero, Dave Lizewski, wants to be a superhero and eventually gets a costume, metal implants and fame. However, Kick Ass’s stint as a hero involves him losing fights, and nearly getting killed. Even with metal implants and inability to feel pain, his victories are through luck, and Big Daddy and Hit Girl’s assistance. He is unable to attract Katie until he takes off his mask. While Kick Ass may remind one of Spiderman, his adventures reflect on the dangers and difficulties, while questioning superhero conventions. Big Daddy and Hit Girl, the real vigilante heroes work outside the law to defeat villain, Frank D’Amico. A throwback to Batman and Robin, watching 11-year-old Hit Girl, swear and kills people may make one uncomfortable and be forced to question the idea of a child sidekick, growing up too fast. References to comic book superheroes, and the negligence of the cops and citizens, cement the self-reflection, leading one to question the superhero conventions.

 

Agents of Atlas, also has some elements of revisionism. Immortality, for example plays an important role in the comic. The team reunites after 50 years, when the aged Jimmy Woo suffers brain damage from a mission. Bob Grayson’s last memory of him revives and rejuvenates him. While this may seem like a reference to heroes who don’t age with the world, Woo’s inability to remember the past becomes another source of conflict in addition to the villain, Yellow Claw. Ken’s immortality as Gorilla Man comes with a cause, as he is forced to become a gorilla. Even Venus, who is thought to be a goddess, is revealed to be a siren. Since superheroes have links to mythology, one could even see it as a reflection of  the superhero in extension. Even Bob Grayson’s past as the Crusader is also rewritten to be a clone, which may also be another element of revisionism. This self-reflection and revisionist elements are things we will be taken into account as we continue work on our adaptation.

References

Wandtke, Terrence. “Introduction: Once upon a time again.” The amazing transforming superhero! : essays on the revision of characters in comic books, film and television. Jefferson, N.C. : McFarland & Co., 2007. P. 5-32

 

Superhero conventions

  This week in Film 2601 Superhero film genre, we explored the importance of film genre conventions and how they define certain films reoccurring elements. Commercialized cinematic productions which showcase similar iconographical components, the superhero film genre tells formulated stories following certain codes and conventions. As discussed in this week’s class lectures, genre has been a debated issue as it is difficult to arrive to a precise democratic conclusion to its precise definition. Moreover from an advertising point of view, the Superhero film genre may possess similar and distinguishable reoccurring themes and stylistic elements such as mission, power and identity, which were presented in the Coogan reading.

This may be witnessed in this week’s film screening Dick Tracy, released in 1990, as the main character Dick Tracy, a clever detective, fits into the generic role of the typical superhero, with the films use of iconography, color motif and narrative elements, as he saves the day and catches inglorious bank robbers. In addition taking into consideration the core conventions that are defined in the reading “Definition of a Super Hero” by Peter Coogan we are now able to clearly define the criteria’s of the Superhero film genre.

Taking this into consideration when adapting our graphic novel Agents of Atlas into a commercialized production we have decided to remain faithful to the main codes and conventions of the Superhero film Genre. Presenting our superhero team with individual powers and abilities, all members have their own techniques and talents when it comes to fighting crime.

Relying on the theme of intimidation and violence, the Gorilla Man utilizes this position, as he is always on the front line of battle. Jimmy Woo, the spy and insightful leader, who in reality does not have any “powers” though, unifies the team at their chef in command. As well there is the astronaut Marvel Boy with his outer space abilities and powers, the Robot M-11 and his wall breaking strength and the Goddess Venus, who’s powers consists of enchanting the hearts of all. Stopping violence on their own terms, the narrative surrounds a reactionary role on the team’s part as they regroup to rescue their leader Woo.

Another convention our adaptation will utilize is the use of a villain, which in this case consists of the evil Yellow Claw. Who not only enables the role of the villain but also employs the genre stereotypical color motif. As showcased in most superhero films, the villain is wearing dark clothing and the “good guys” or superheroes are in colors and tights, and this is showcased as Yellow Claw is primarily seen wearing the color black and the Gorilla, for example, even if his fur may be dark is seen wearing colorful flowered Hawaiian shirts.

In conclusion, the final element that enables the genre conventions consists of the confrontation between the villain and the superhero followed by the conclusion. Which in this case our group has decided to adapt the ending to better fit this convention to create the perfect superhero franchise.

Stay tuned to find out more….

Mythology and Origin

This week the important aspect to consider when turning The Agents of Atlas into a film franchise is the mythology that surrounds the characters and analyzing the cultural appeal that the superheroes have for the audiences. While considering the mythology one also has to discuss the role of the origins of the superheroes and deconstruct the psychology and metaphors that particular superheroes posses as well. With such a variety of characters there are many ways to go about this. As the lecture taught us this week there are two specific Ages that superheroes can be classified under when discussing mythology. The Proto Age classifies characters that bridge between the notion of gods and man. The Proto Age also elaborates on the retelling of stories specifically retelling the origin stories of superhero characters. When relating this to The Agents of Atlas the characters that come to mind that fall under the Proto Age are Namora, Venus, and Marvel Boy. Namora for example is a character that descends from Atlantis. Her father resembles the status of a God while her mother was human. Namora therefore is a clash between God and man when one views the mythology behind her character. She carries with her the powers of flight and speed that become an asset when she joins The Agents of Atlas. Venus is a character that is originally based on the goddess Aphrodite which comes from Greek and Roman mythology. One also learns that she is a Siren when analyzing her mythological background. She also carries with her the powers of flight and speed but her sexuality and seductiveness powers as a Siren tend to be portrayed heavier when she joins The Agents of Atlas. Namora and Venus tend to share a bond together in the group since they share the similarity of descending from Gods while possessing human attributes as well. When analyzing Marvel Boy the mythology tends to be a bit different. Marvel Boy is born as an ordinary human and only receives God like abilities from the natives when he is sent to the planet Uranus. Marvel Boy can almost be seen as Hercules in reverse. He tends to be one of the strongest in the group but refrains himself from acting as the leader and takes a smaller role when he joins the ensemble.

The second age mentioned in the lecture is the Antediluvian Age. This age classifies characters that bridge with the notions of science fiction, duel identity and pulp ubermensch. The characters that fall into this Age are Gorilla Man, Human Robot and Jimmy Woo. Gorilla Man for example resembles as a superhuman for being half man and half ape. His background describes that he was an ordinary human being and after defeating a ferocious ape gains its abilities. Gorilla Man brings strength with him to The Agents of Atlas but unfortunately also brings with him poor comic relief. Human Robot hails from science fiction with the background of being a robot experiment gone wrong. Not much is known of Human Robot but when he joins The Agents of Atlas he regardless becomes essential to the plot of their adventures. Jimmy Woo acts as the avenger with the duel identity. He is employed by the FBI and at the same time is the leader of the group. The focus of Jimmy Woo is his connections that he has with the FBI and S.H.I.E.L.D. He tends to work more behind the scenes with the bureaucratic parts of the group and leaves most of the fighting to the other members.

Since The Agents of Atlas came from Marvel it is easy to see how they differ when compared to DC. As the lecture taught us Marvel focuses more on ensemble casts, narrative melodrama, costumes worn to disguise real people, modern day monsters, flawed humans and real world locations. All of this comes into play when analyzing The Agents of Atlas. There is a ton of melodrama that takes place in between scenes that at times gets a bit out of hand. Costumes become important for the characters to wear in order to shield their identity, and even more important to Venus since she prefers to wear nothing at all and only agrees to a costume when the rest of the team tell her she might draw too much attention running around nude. Modern day monsters like Gorilla Man and Human Robot are the result of modern day science. Flawed humans are represented through Marvel Boy but more specifically Jimmy Woo with his confrontation with the Yellow Claw. Naturally most of the adventures that the Agents of Atlas go on take place in real world locations. Since the group has decided that the film franchise should take a “dark approach” this can be prove to be difficult. With The Agents of Atlas coming from Marvel and carrying Marvel elements it remains a challenge. The most effective way to over come this challenge is to revisit the origins of each character and retell their story. By creating flashbacks our group should be able to further explain the origins and mythology that surround each character to give them a stronger appeal to audiences. As an example the background of Marvel Boy escaping Nazi Germany would be a critical scene to show that would give the film version a much darker tone.

This weeks screening of Batman (Tim Burton, 1989) does show that DC tends to have the upper hand when creating darker adaptations of comic book superheroes to film. But perhaps the reason why Batman 1989 was so successful fell on the aspect of changing Batman’s origin story. Instead of a nameless face killing Bruce Wayne’s parents the film introduces the rising mafia enforcer Jack Napier as being the murderer. Jack Napier becomes the reason why Bruce Wayne becomes Batman and in turn Batman repays the favour by accidentally turning Jack Napier into the Joker. Representing both Batman and the Joker as freaks of nature brings a more serious element to the film. Both are psychotic and both feel that they are entitled to running the crime ridden Gotham City. The only real difference is that Batman looks out for the citizens that can not defend themselves while the Joker only looks out for himself. In order to make The Agents of Atlas as a successful film franchise our group will have to dig deeper into the origins of the characters and their background stories of how they came to be. Giving the characters personal grudges or telling their tragic past tales may convince audiences to analyze them deeper. In conclusion the justification of why the characters are who they are is paramount if the group wishes to capture the audiences’ attention. By focusing on origins and the mythology of the characters the film version of The Agents of Atlas will not fall under just another silly superhero film with a senseless plot.

It is a bit of a challenge when it comes to adapting a literary source for film or television as there are many things to consider. I will mention a couple of these factors below which relate to my group’s project in order to either avoid the same mistake some films have made or even to follow their lead.

One of the important things is knowing who your audience is. The audience for the film/television medium would be considerably wider than that of a book in this contemporary digital age at least. To explain this point, one should look at Zack Snyder’s Watchmen (2009). Some of the complaints many people had (this includes comic book enthusiasts and regular movie-goers) was that the film did not have a straightforward narrative, not in the sense that it was very arthouse, but that it just seemed to go in its own direction. Ultimately, Zack Snyder is very reverent to Alan Moore’s Watchmen (1985). In fact he seems to be a bigger fan of the book than Alan Moore is at times. And the one thing some people may notice is that he seemed to make the film for himself and for the fanboys who adored the comic book. In my opinion, he did a great job with literally grabbing off panels from the comic book and translating that into moving images, making it a great looking movie. However, with the confusing narrative and lack of depth to those images, I did not care for the film that much. As he put too much effort into the art of the film, he forgot to give meaning to the images and the text being heard throughout. If he was really going for that, he should have a co-director similar to what Robert Rodriguez did with Frank Miller in Sin City (2005). As far as my group is concerned, we are not as interested in being too faithful to the art of the “Agents of Atlas” comic books. The look will be a little more grittier than what the comic book has to offer. The film will be aimed at the 18-34 year old crowd and the tone of the film will be in the vein  of The Dark Knight (2008). In short, the exact visual appearance of the graphic novel is not important as the story is.

For a faithful look at a graphic novel like Frank Miller’s “The Dark Knight Returns”, check out this segment from an episode of Batman: The Animated Series entitled “Legends of the Dark Knight”, where three kids tell  a couple of stories of the way they envision the Batman:

Another thing to  do when, to satisfy fans of the specific literary source, at least, the essence of that specific story and of the characters should be be alive in the new medium. When it comes to movies of the past whether it be Richard Donner’s Superman (1978), or Tim Burton’s Batman (1989) or even Bryan Singer’s X-men (2000), the filmmakers have managed to stay faithful to the themes of the comic book and to the characters themselves (not so much the narratives). With “Agent of Atlas”, my group’s goal is to capture the essence but to also twist and turn it a little in order to match the tone of the film. Not to say that we are going to darken it too much to take anyway humour left (Like what Michael Bay did with those monstrosities of those horror remakes) but just to stick with the serious tone, and not camp anything up. For example, the gorilla character in the story is one who cracks too many jokes like Robin Williams if he went even zanier. That probably won’t work as well in the film we want to make, so instead, we are just going to make him more witty instead of goofy. I do believe the essence is still there because he would not have lost his sense of humour.

And finally, when dealing with a narrative such as “Agent of Atlas”, one needs to shape up the story so that it would make sense to a contemporary audience. A problem that one of my group members found with the book is that the ending did not make as much sense as far as character development was concerned. With Watchmen (2009), the ending in the film was changed from the somewhat far fetched ending in the book in order to be a little more “realistic” to the contemporary audience who may usually shy away from sci-fi/supernatural elements. This rule is not strictly limited to comic books. If you consider the Coen Brothers’ adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s “No Country for Old Men”, you will notice that the Coen’s were so faithful to the literary source in as far as handling the Llewelyn Moss character’s adventure the same way McCarthy did. This did not please many audiences who went to see the film, as they felt cheated out of an exiciting climax. The ending in the “Agent of atlas” graphic novel does not make too much sense within the context of the book, and we plan to change it to pick out the flaws with the story and give it a more serious and darker ending in that sense. Another thing one can do in such a case, is that since we are dealing with more obscure characters from the Marvel Universe than one is used to, it may be more interesting for audiences to see more connections and tie-ins made with existing films and franchises like the Iron Man and Avengers stories. Not as far as to show the characters, but to at least frame them in that universe to give the audience a more familiar feel.

A comic book adaptation is always interesting because it always comes from a medium which has a cult audience to some degree. Yet people always want to see superhero/comic book films for some reason (A guilty pleasure at the least). Still,the audiences differ quite drastically and when it comes to mainstream cinema, things must be tweaked.