Man of Steel: First look at the new Superman

Despite being two years away, Zach Snyder’s reboot of the Superman franchise has acknowledged that folks all over the world’d like to take a look at how the new Man of Steel, Englishman Henry Cavill shapes up. Christopher Reeves has occupied the role better than any other actor, as pretty much everyone, still, refers to how much or how little any new actor taking on the role looks or doesn’t look like him. Giving a nod to fans all over the world, WB have released this image of the Man of Steel. It reportedly doesn’t relate in any way to the intended plot of the final movie but is there to give folks something to moan about. Most notably the lack of red pants. It looks like Henry Cavill has what it takes visually to fill the red rubber boots and with steady hands like Christopher Nolan involved in the process hopes remain high.

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The Merry Band Revealed: 13 Dwarves Stride Forth for Adventure!!


Nori (Jed Brophy), Fili (Dean O' Gorman), Dori (Mark Hadlow), Bofur (James Nesbitt), Gloin (Peter Hambleton), Dwalin (Graham McTavish), Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage), Balin (Ken Stott), Oin (John Callen), Bombur (Stephen Hunter), Bifur (William Kircher), Ori (Adam Brown) and Kili (Aiden Turner)

Thorin Oakenshield stands at the centre of his Merry Band, a set of Dwarves set on a quest many would never face. In response to the reaction to public reveals of theHobbit Warner Bros have revealed the complete Dwarf set. In response to a great many public reedits of the assembled dwarves as they were revealed in sets of of two’s and three, Peter Jackson has released his own collective image of the assembled band. Equipped with weaponry, food packs and instruments they are set on their journey to face Smaug and the Battle of the Five Armies. Not all will return but very few can remember who.

Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage)

Bombur (Stephen Hunter), Bofur (James Nesbitt) and Bifur (William Kircher)


Oin (John Callen) and Gloin (Peter Hambleton)


Balin (Ken Stott) and Dwalin (Graham McTavish)


Fili (Dean O' Gorman) and Kili (Aiden Turner)

Check the rest of our Hobbit coverage of our full breakdown of events in Hobbiton and Middle Earth (Wellington, New Zealand) as things have taken place.

First image released of Tom Hardy as Bane in the Dark Knight

The first picture of Tom Hardy as villain Bane in the massively anticipated ‘Dark Knight Rises’ has emerged online. The web was all a hub-bub as bat-fans went wild. On Friday Warner Bros. launched a dedicated website (thedarkknightrises.com), featuring a blank black page and people chanting. Eerie stuff and perhaps indicative of either a following Bane gathers or sounds from his upbringing. No doubt all will be revealed. Doubtless Nolan’s Bane will make more of his ruthless influence and tactical prowess than his previous incarnation in previous franchise killer Batman and Robin, in which Bane was a mute plant beast cum nacho libre style wrestler. Kooky.

Top marks to WB though for trying to drag out the intrigue surrounding the reveal. Later in the day a mysterious Twitter account started tweeting a section of the image. The picture was supposed to be revealed gradually, using the personal twitter icons of retweeters as the individual pixels but super fan hackers cracked the source code, revealing the whole image. The Dark Knight himself’d be proud.

So here he is;

What’d you reckon?

Practitioners 22: Dave Gibbons Pt 2

Following on from part 1 from earlier in the week, we continue taking a look at the work of Dave Gibbons. In Part 1 we took a glance at the Gibbon’s beginnings with 2000AD and IPC and his rise (alongside Alan Moore) to create the Watchmen the only graphic novel to be included in Time’s ‘Top 100 Novel’s list’. This time, Tales of the Black Freighter, the Watchmen Movie and Green Lantern.

A shot from Tales of the Black Freighter (2009) originally by Moore and Gibbons


At the beginning of the 1990’s Gibbons began to focus as much on writing and inking as on drawing, contributing to a number of different titles and issues from a variety of different companies. Highlights from all of this include writing the three-issue World’s Finest miniseries for artist Steve Rude, while drawing Give Me Liberty (following a girl from the projects in a dystopian future through to her becoming an American hero) for writer Frank Miller and Dark Horse comics. Perhaps less known is that he penned the first Batman Vs Predator crossover for Andy and Adam Kubert and inked Rick Veitch and Stephen R Bissette for half of Alan Moore’s 1963 Image Comics series (1993).

Rejoining Frank Miller in mid-1994 on Martha Washington Goes to War, and the following year writing the Elseworlds title Kal for Jose Luis Garcia Lopez, melding Arthurian legends to the Superman ethos in an alternate DC Universe. Proving his capacity again as an auteur, in Marvel Edge’s Savage Hulk #1 (Jan 1996), Gibbons wrote, penciled, inked, colored and lettered “Old Friends,” a version of the events of Captain America #110 from the point of view of the Hulk. In 1996 and 1997, Gibbons collaborated with Mark Waid (and Jimmy Palmiotti) on two issues of the Amalgam Comics character “Super-Soldier,” a character born from the merging of the DC and Marvel Universes after the events of the 1996 intercompany crossover DC vs. Marvel/Marvel vs. DC. He continued on working on many other covers, one-shots and minor works for the rest of the ’90s including the Alan Moore Songbook and the first issue of Kitchen Sink Press’ The Spirit: the New Adventures. He pencilled and inked Darko Macan’s 4-issue Star Wars: Vader’s Quest miniseries for Dark Horse.

A reworking of Gibbon's original panel design (1988) from Watchmen (2009) on which Gibbons advised


In December 2001 Gibbons helped Stan Lee’ reimagine’ the Green Lantern in the pages of Just Imagine… Stan Lee creating Green Lantern. (Why exactly it was necessary to give the creator of Spider-man, Fantastic Four, X-Men and the like another imaginary credit is hard to glean but Gibbons was the choice to work with the great man himself). It was to be a fanfare for his later return to Green Lantern (Corps).

Throughout the naughties Gibbons continued to move from position to position from title to title, taking on more and more challenges. Unlike any other artist Gibbon’s pitched himself as the go-to all encompassing talent. This has stopped him perhaps becoming as publicly reknowned as he would’ve been had he simply remained an artist as he is less and less associated with anything specific since the 80s and Watchmen. But fame isn’t all and for those who are fa,miliar with his work and those who take the time to follow his pin ball trajectory around two of the biggest comics companies around, a picture of a very talented writer, artist professional everyman begins to form very quickly.

In 2002, Gibbons followed Chuck Austen on Captain America 17-20 (Nov 03-Jan 04). In 2005 he produced a handful of covers for Geoff John’s JSA, as well as producing a complete graphic novel himself called The Originals, a black and white graphic novel which he scripted and drew. Published by Vertigo, the work is set in the near future but draws heavily on the imagery of the Mods and Rockers of the 1960s.

As one of the four lead-ins to DC’s infinite Crisis storyline, Gibbons wrote the Rann/Thanagar War with legendary GL artist Ivan Reis. This put him within spitting distance of the Green Lantern Universe and he returned to the Green Lantern Corps with a five-issue ‘Recharge’ storyline – co-written with Geoff Johns, which in turn spun-off into an ongoing, Gibbons written series in August 2006.

Its difficult to pursue Gibbons through his career as he has more recently worked with Alan Moore’s daughter (providing cover artwork) on DC/Wildstorm’s IPC buyout title Albion and writing its spin-off Thunderbolt Jaxon, with Art by John Higgins. Due to scheduling difficulties the August 2005- launched Albion actually finished two months after Thinderbolt Jaxon (Nov 2006).

Continuing with DC, Gibbons provided covers for three issues of Action Comics (Home of Superman) and co-pencilled (with Evan Van Sciver) the Green Lantern: Sinestro Corps issue as part of the Sinestro Corps story arc (which culminated in the industry pausing Blackest Night saga). He contributed to the ongoing Green Lantern story on issues 18-20.

Returning to his routes (which frankly looking back he never left) Gibbons provided new, alternative covers for IDW publishing’s reprints of the original Marvel UK Doctor Who Comics. He also designed the logo for Oni Press, the publishers of Scott Pilgrim.

Gibbons was never limited to comic books, he has always been an artist foremost, working on as many and in as many ways as possible on any number of platforms. He provided background art for computer game Beneath a Steel Sky (1994) and the cover to K, the 1996 debut album by psychedelic rock band Kula Shaker. In 2007, he served as a consultant along with John Higgins for the film Watchmen adapted from the book, released in March 20098. However his name was only credited as co-creator as Alan Moore refused to have participation in the film.

For me however, the crowning glory of Gibbons career isn’t the broad strokes and infintisimal detail and characterisation of Watchmen, or his tireless capacity for providing any aspect of the creation of a comic book (having tackled pencilling, inking, lettering, writing throughout his career). Its a comic book within a comic book. Its the Tales of the Black Freighter read by a side character throughout Watchmen. It is the tale of a lost sailor, surviving an attack by the Freighter and his descent into madness. Gibbon’s represents the epitomy of classic comic art here, reminiscent of the boys-own books of the 80s Victory and Battle, he forms a completely engaging and encapsulating package for Moore’s words. Bloated bodies supporting a derelict raft in an inky sea and the perfectly depicted descent of a good man (or normal man) descending unstoppably into madness. At once timeless and of its time it represents great visual storytelling while still offering an alternative style to the book around it. Tales of the Black Freighter was converted into a short animation piece as an extra to the Watchmen DVD on its release and Gibbons had a hand in its creation. The rendering of the animation fails it but the inspiration is there for an entire battalion of animators. It represents the pinnacle of modern storytelling in comic book form and represents perfectly Gibbons himself. On its own it still stands up to scrutiny and is a work of art in itself but it also rests perfectly within others’.

Frame from Tales of the Black Freighter (2009) based on the comic book of the same name (1988) in a comic book of a different name.


Gibbons is a selfless and tireless artist. His work is draftsman-like and still retains the inherent emotion and power required to carry the words of writers like Alan Moore. One half of a duo that generated one of the great comic works of our time; Gibbons continues to being a working artist first and foremost, his professionalism and talent the most important thing to those around him – the reason he has enjoyed almost 40 years in the industry.

Peter Jackson: The Return of the King

With The Hobbit finally going into production in New Zealand we’re looking at the production, cast and Director over the next 9 days to get the ball rolling.

More than perhaps any other name, Peter Jackson is synonumous with the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films. So how was it that the man himself insisted, after 11 years of pitching to see the Hobbit made into a film, that he not pilot it onto the big screen. And how is it after Industrial disputes, financial wrangling with New Line Cinema and the Tolkien estate, struggling Studios pulling the plug and a major director dropping out due to delays, Peter Jackson is back at the helm? Read on to find out….


Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh first expressed interest in filming the Hobbit in 1995, at the time envisioning it as part one of a trilogy (the other two being based on Lord of the Rings). Jackson’s producer, Harvey Weinstein, discovered that while Saul Zaentz had production rights to The Hobbit, production rights still belonged to United Artists. United Artists deliberately retained the rights to the Hobbit because they expected Jackson and Weinstein to try to make that instead of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, expecting to make a quick buck out of selling the rights. This convoluted and confusing arrangement, in which all parties with all aspects of the rights have to be in conjunction with each other or have a project planned that would justify the cost of paying out to gain said rights, something that can be hard to quantify, is what keeps most films the public want made in development hell. But it is pretty inevitable given the amount of money a successful project could gain.

On location in New Zealand for The Two Towers


Jackson launched a lawsuit in 2005 with New Line Cinema (the eventual studio behind the Lord of the Rings), claiming he had lost revenue from merchandising, video and computer games releases associated with The Fellowship of the Ring. Refusing a specific settlement and requested an audit to see whether New Line had deprived him of any money. Although Jackson wanted the matter resolved, he saw the dispute as minor and presumed that New Line would allow him to make The Hobbit. In January 2007, New Line’s co-founder Robert Shaye scuppered these plans, accusing the director of being greedy and stating that Jackson would never direct another film for New Line.

By August of the same year, Shaye was furiously back-pedalling after a series of very serious flops for New Line saying “I really respect and admire Peter and would love for him to be creatively involved in some way in The Hobbit.” The following month New Line was fined $125,000 for not providing the requested accounting documents.

On December 16, 2007 – New Line announced that Jackson would be executive producer of the Hobbit and its sequel. New Line and MGM would co-finance the film and MGM would distribute via 20th Century Fox ( an unprecedented deal with a major studio proving, unsurprisingly, how far the stock of Tolkien material had gone up). Each film budgeted to cost $150 million, almost $60 million more than each of the original LOTR trilogy.

Jackson at the time, made it clear that he chose not to direct as he would have been unsatisfying to compete with his previous films. So in February 2008, much to the disappointment of the viewing public and scores of fans around the world, Peter Jackson bowed out of heading the two final installments of the Tolkien canon.

Guillermo Del Toro was confirmed as Director in April 2008, following working with Jackson on the shelved Halo film project some time before. Jackson remained heavily involved, video conferencing with Del Toro, Philippa Boyens and Fran Walsh to complete the script.

Jackson announced that the scripting for the Hobbit would not be finished until early 2010, with scripting days rolling on for 12 hours at a time. Jackson, tellingly had kept the Rivendell scale model and the Bag End set live for the Hobbit in the intervening years, using Bag End as a guest house (seriously, orderly queue starts here!) Guillermo was quoting as saying that every week, they were discovering new things about the script and it was becoming clear that development was taking significantly longer than anticipated.

Jackson and Del Toro had a positive working relationship, disagreements resolved to the benefit of the script. Del Toro was insistent that he could direct the film in its entirety however Jackson, through personal experience on the original LOTR films offered to take the position of second unit director. While Del Toro has the same love of scale models and painted backdrops as Jackson – Del Toro was looking to move towards animatronics – enhanced through CGI in some cases but saw it as an opportunity to move animatronics 10 years into the future. This may very well have worked, however the animatronics in previous Del Toro films (such as Hellboy 2) are very clear to anyone who is looking. However, overwhelmingly the styles and creative output of the two men are very similar and the response from the public was positive at Del Toro’s involvement following successes such as Hellboy and classics like The Devil’s Backbone.

In 2010, Del Toro left the project, due to delays, saying that MGM’s financial problems had led to the Hobbit still not being Greenlit. “There cannot be any start dates until the MGM situation gets resolved… We have designed all the creatures. We’ve designed the sets and the wardrobe. We have done animatics and planned very lengthy action sequences. We have scary sequences and funny sequences and we are very, very prepared for when it’s finally triggered, but we don’t know anything until MGM is solved.”

A still from Jackson's latest film - Tintin

Two days later, Del Toro announced his departure on TheOneRing.net that “[i]n light of ongoing delays in the setting of a start date for filming”, he would “take leave from helming”, further stating that “the mounting pressures of conflicting schedules have overwhelmed the time slot originally allocated for the project. (…) I remain an ally to it and its makers, present and future, and fully support a smooth transition to a new director.” The internet went wild at the prospect of a new director and a faltering of the project everybody wanted to see. However, MGM had put all its major releases on hold including the lucrative Bond franchise. Jackson’s name was being thrown around however also mentioned were Neill Blomkap (a short film maker with only one feature, the excellent District 9, produced by Jackson, under his belt), David Yates (safe handed director responsible for the most recent Harry Potter films), terrifyingly Brett Ratner (Rush Hour trilogy, X-Men: The Last Stand) and Dave Dobkin (director of Clay Pigeons, Shanghai Knights and the Wedding Crashers) – however Jackson was responsible for Braindead, Bad Taste, Meet the Feebles and The Frighteners (directly before LOTR) so few saw Lord of the Rings coming though Jackson was clearly a capable effects director before hsi triumph with the trilogy of trilogies.

Finally, on June 25, 2010, Jackson was reported to be in negotiations to direct the two-part film. On October 16, 2010, New Line Cinema and a newly joined Warner Bros. confirmed absolutely that the Hobbit was to proceed with Jackon as the director. As well as that, both companies confirmed that The Hobbit was officially greenlit and would begin principle shooting in February, 2011. In about 7 days time….

Its been a long journey for Sir Peter Jackson. From that first meeting at New Line Cinema in which it was insisted by the studio itself that it needed to be a film for each book to the glory days of the releases, mired by the financial disputes between New Line and the Tolkien estate (to the tune of $24 million no less according to reports) and now after considerable delays and frustration, Jackson has returned to the helm of the new Tolkien film. Although Del Toro would certainly have done an excellent job nobody doubts the integrity and determination of the original director to heave into view another magical and monumental installment of the tales of Middle Earth.

There and Back Again : A Wanderers tale by Peter Jackson….

Jackson relaxing on the set of Lord of the Rings - shots of Jackson enjoying himself have been in short supply these last few years