Summer Superhero Wrapup

After 2012, which saw Marvel seize comic book movie supremacy away from Nolan’s retiring Batman franchise with the juggernaut known as The Avengers, the summer of 2013 saw both Marvel and DC regrouping, eager to pin down the latest phases and franchises, with other studios like 20th Century Fox eager to cash in on behemoths of their own.

For Marvel Studios, now owned by Disney, that meant continuing the fan-favorite Iron Man saga early in the summer movie season to begin “Phase 2” of its cinematic universe (which will also contain Captain America, Thor, and Avengers sequels along with the anticipated 2014 Guardians of the Galaxy movie). Iron Man 3 follows Tony Stark through the aftermath of the events in The Avengers and in aIronMan3 gamble that paid off, was written and directed by Shane Black, directing only his second feature film (the first being 2005’s Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, also with Robert Downey Jr.). Black is probably most well known as the screenwriter responsible for 80’s and 90’s action movies like Lethal Weapon and The Last Boy Scout. Franchise tent-pole releases are not commonly known for the enlisting of dialogue-heavy auteurs, but frankly, Marvel can afford to take chances, and must in order to keep the Iron Man brand fresh. Black’s Iron Man 3 stands apart from every movie in the Marvel Studios catalog thus far in its offbeat characters and dialogue, giving audiences a glimpse of what might happen if filmmakers operating in the Marvel universe are given a little more freedom. Downey excels in delivering Black’s dialogue, which helps earn his reported $50 million salary for the film. After it’s release in May, Iron Man 3 went on to gross over $1.2 billion dollars worldwide, making it the fifth highest grossing film of all time (Avengers being the third highest). Marvel continues to dominate not only the comic book and superhero landscape, but the entire landscape of blockbuster box office dollars. Buzz surrounding the remainder of their “Phase Two” slate continues to escalate.

After the conclusion of Christopher Nolan’s massive Dark Knight trilogy, the DC universe saw a large hole in their movie release slate and teamed with Warner Bros. in an effort to reboot the Superman film franchise. Enlisting Batman’s Nolan ManOfSteelas a producer and studio darling Zack Snyder to direct, they attempted to drag the new Superman world down into the darker wheelhouse of Nolan’s Batman universe. The result, Man of Steel was successful in distancing itself from the Christopher Reeve movies of old (which appear to be increasingly forgotten) and was received by fans and critics with significantly more enthusiasm than the last attempt at a Superman film, 2006’s Superman Returns (a clean slate reboot in itself, so I don’t know where he was returning from). Man of Steel earned nearly $700 million worldwide, good for fifth highest of 2013 (to date). While unable to unseat Iron Man 3 or Marvel as the top dog in superhero film, Man of Steel doubled the box office take of Superman Returns and is poised to blossom into a legitimate franchise to be reckoned with. Like Marvel, DC and Warner Bros. seek to create a consistent film universe for its characters to inhabit, and the sequel to Man of Steel will contain Batman (to be played by Ben Affleck, much to the internet’s apparent dismay). Rumors also appear to swirl indefinitely regarding a Justice League movie.

Coming in a distant third in the superhero race this summer was 20th Century Fox’s The Wolverine. For the unaware: while the character Wolverine is a property of Marvel comics, his film rights remain tied up by Fox’s studios (along with those of the other X-Men). Thus, his movie exploits, and business decisions surrounding the franchise, remain separate from the Marvel Studios “universe” Wolverineof Iron Man, The Avengers, etc. The last go-around for the character Wolverine was the disastrous X-Men Origins: Wolverine, a flop among critics and fans alike. Throw in his absence from X-Men: First Class (other than a fan-service cameo), and Fox felt it was time to bring Logan back for his own feature, the feature his rabid fans had long hoped for. After several false starts with name directors (including Black Swan‘s Darren Aronofsky), Fox selected James Mangold to direct (3:10 to Yuma, Walk the Line) and The Wolverine hit theaters in July, after the Iron Man and Superman frenzies had long subsided. While substantially more successful with critics and fans than Origins, it remained an afterthought to many moviegoers after a long summer of spectacle. It more than earned back its budget by a considerable margin, but lacked the buzz of past Wolverine vehicles and was unable to outearn 2009’s Origins despite the latter’s flaws. It was successful in lessening some of the anxiety over the upcoming X-Men: Days of Future Past in 2014, which will also feature Wolverine in the leading role, but fans and executives alike have to wonder, with star Hugh Jackman approaching 50, when will Wolverine’s claws no longer draw blood?

With no end in sight to the parade of blockbuster superhero films, and as we come to grips with a landscape where nearly every top hit comes from a franchise machine, studios and owners of intellectual property will continue to grapple over which cash cow produces the most milk. For now, Marvel seems unbeatable as their “Phase Two” progresses into 2014 (which may contain its biggest gamble yet with the potentially bizarre Guardians of the Galaxy). DC is out of the picture until the Batman/Superman film of 2015, and Fox looks to strike again with the X-Men with Days of Future Past. Columbia will return to the fray with another The Amazing Spider-man 2 – and Spidey is always a box office foe to be reckoned with. It seems unrealistic to expect these films to routinely climb into the all-time Top 10, but until audiences say otherwise with their box office dollars, we can only expect more “phases”, more origin stories, more reboots, and more caped adventurers.

Create your own superhero team by checking out the roster of costumes at Spookshop.com.

Advertisements

Top 13 Jason Voorhees Kills

Jason Voorhees has done it all.  He’s been alive. He’s been dead. He’s been to Manhattan. And Hell. And space. He’s fought Freddy and Corey Feldman. He somehow survived Crispin Glover’s dancing. With 2009’s release of New Line’s Friday the 13th reboot, and with the Halloween season drawing ever nigh, the time has come to reflect on Jason Voorhees and his occupational craft over a long and storied history.

Not one to shirk his duty, this particular staff member, compelled by nostalgia and curiosity, viewed all 11 (yes, eleven)  pre-2009 installments of Friday the 13th with an eye for the quality of Jason’s countless dispatchings. Thus, I submit to you a very carefully selected list featuring my Top 13 Kills by Jason Voorhees. (Note: for the purposes of this list, “Jason” will be credited as the killer in the case of certain installments with annoying, nonsensical plot twists)

13_raft

13) Stabbed Through Raft (Friday the 13th IV: The Final Chapter):

Jason pops up out of the lake, interrupting a late-night float on Crystal Lake by stabbing a young lady through the bottom of the raft. Offhand, this might not seem like the most creative or worthy kill to include on this list, but a brief review of the look on the victim’s face suggests otherwise to me.

12_liquidnitrogen

12) Frozen Face Shatter (Jason X):

Jason in space. In the future. Awkward might be the best word to describe this bizarre 2002 feature, the lowest-grossing of the bunch at the box office. But it did feature a few highlights, including this moment in which Jason gives his victim a liquid nitrogen whitewashing then shatters her visage on a nearby desk. I wouldn’t be surprised if 90% of this film’s effects budget went into the shot of her submerged face icing over.

11_hammer

11) Jason Hammers Trespasser (Friday the 13th Part II):

An oldie but a goodie, and another great victim reaction. After foolishly wandering into Jason’s forest shack and inspecting its contents (including a shrine to his dear mother and a needlessly gruesome latrine), the doomed Sheriff is taught a lesson in teeth-gnashing. Get a warrant next time, Sheriff!

10_barrel

10) Sludge Barrel Swirly (Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan):

Horny teenagers aren’t the only ones on Jason’s list. He has eliminated a host of characters just for being generally annoying, ranging from irritating stereotypes to aggressively cruel parents. This gentleman fell into the latter category, and paid the price for it, violently drowned by Jason in a Manhattan alley. Note the late 1980’s movie version of New York, in which the streets are lined with what appears to be toxic waste.

09_harpoon

9) Jason’s New Mask (Friday the 13th Part III):

Many people forget that iconic Jason Hockey Mask didn’t even appear until the third film, when he swiped it off a victim (in the 2nd film, he wore a pillow case). This particular kill, featuring a harpoon being fired into a woman’s eye, was his first with the mask, making it an instant classic. That’s without even factoring in the amazing victim response, makeup, and hilarity of Jason fruitlessly attempting to hide behind the pictured pillar.

 08_punched

8) Boxer Decapitated on Rooftop (Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan):

As a character in a Friday the 13th movie, one of the worst things one can do is display any sort of fighting ability. Any character doing so will be terminated, probably humiliatingly. This particular character, a boxer, attempted to fend off Jason with a barrage of failed punches while on a rooftop in Manhattan. Jason responded by punching his head clean off and watching it cascade down the side of the building and land in a dumpster (which promptly closed itself).

07_flare

7) Flare Stuffed into Mouth (Friday the 13th: A New Beginning):

This is probably the only memorable moment of this entire film. It shows an exciting new level of inventiveness and a willingness to experiment, as there are surely more efficient ways to kill someone than putting a lit flare into their mouth. Beyond this, though, “A New Beginning”, the 5th installment, has little to offer other than one of the most despicable endings ever.

06_bonesawtwist

6) Bone Saw & Twist (Friday the 13th IV: The Final Chapter):

After waking up in the logal morgue, Jason interrupts a sleazy doctor watching softcoreporn by cutting his head half off with a bone saw, then twisting the remaining portions of his neck around for good measure. I’d be curious to know whether Jason planned on doing that elaborate of a killing when he approached the doctor, or if the bone saw simply wasn’t to his liking. Either way…creative, gory, classic.

05_folded

5) Sheriff Folded in Half (Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives):

In this film, after having his corpse reanimated by lightning, Jason goes on one of his trademark killing sprees and offers up some very memorable and bizarre methods along the way. In this scene, after ignoring cries of “Jason!” the entire film, the local Sheriff wises up and takes his stab at redemption, only to be literally folded in half by Jason. Folded. In. Half.

04_sleepingbag

4) Sleeping Bag Swing (Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood):

We are getting to the real classics. In this oft-discussed moment, Jason drags a victim from her tent while still in her sleeping bag and bludgeons her against the side of a tree. There’s not much more to say about this. It just looks amazing.

03_skull

3) Exploding Head (Friday the 13th Part III):

This has to be one of the more ambitious effects shots of the entire series. In it, Jason sneaks up on a guy wearing an ugly sweater and crushes his skull with his bare hands. As if that weren’t enough, a 2nd shot reveals the victim’s eyeball jetting out. If anything, the shot is too ambitious, as the awkwardness of the eyeball sliding along an obvious string makes it simultaneously laughable and endearingly memorable.

02_faceplant

2) RV Faceplant (Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives):

Another one from Part VI, this kill defies all logic. Jason attacks a woman in the back of a moving RV (being driven by one of the more aggressively irritating characters of the entire series) and somehow smashes her skull into the wall of the RV so hard that it leaves an imprint of her face. Nevermind the laws of science or the structural subtleties of the human face against steel. It’s sheer mad genius, and it’s only amplified shortly after when Jason causes the RV to crash and stands atop it triumphantly.

01_machete

1) Machete in Parapalegic’s Face (Friday the 13th Part II):

When this character is introduced, his overall likability and appallingly uplifting attitude make him nothing but a victim waiting to happen. After going to the porch to check on a suspicious sound (a classic premise), Jason’s machete is soon found embedded in his face. He rolls back, his wheelchair racing down the steps where it feeds into a larger flight of stairs. The camera lingers as he crashes all the way down. The classic premise as well as greusome nature and dedication to humiliating the victim make this my #1 choice.

Whatever your cup of tea in terms of Jason’s shenanigans, his various looks, weapons, accessories can all be found in droves at SpookShop.com.

For more information on Jason Voorhees, go to Friday the 13th Films.

2009 Movies & Halloween

These days, the hottest costumes are generally inspired by the hottest Hollywood movies. Films like The Dark Knight, Harry Potter, Pirates of the Caribbean, 300, Star Wars, Spiderman, and Shrek were all huge box office champs, and also champs of the Halloween season. We expect this year to be no different. Here are five of the films we think will be heavily influencing costume choices this Halloween season.

Star Trek – In Theaters Now
Already the highest grossing Star Trek movie of all time at the box office (even when adjusted for inflation), 2009’s reimaginingby J.J. Abrams has wowed critics and audiences alike with its fun, adventurous depiction of Kirk and co.’s first voyage together on the Enterprise. Kirk, Spock, “Bones”, Uhura, Scotty, Sulu, and Chekovare all present, brought to new life by an auspicous cast of both established and up and coming actors. This film brings a unique blend of stylized uniformity and distinct characterization that makes the updated Star Trek costumes perfect for casual fans as well as fanatics. Expect to see them in droves, during Halloween and beyond, including Trekker parties and Comic Book Conventions.

 Star Trek Captain Kirk Costume ShirtStar Trek Deluxe Spock Costume Shirt

 

Public  Enemies –  Release Date: July 1
Between Jack Sparrow, Edward Scissorhands, Sweeney Todd, Willy Wonkaand now John Dillinger, Johnny Depp has embodied characters whose costumes often achieve cult status that extends well beyond the Halloween season. The gangster costumeis already a popular choice for Halloween and 20s and 30s parties; a summer blockbuster in the genre with superstar Depp as the charismatic villain Dillinger, and Christian Bale as his FBI counterpart, should only increase the popularity and heat surrounding the classic gangster look.

Adult Gangster CostumeWomen's Sexy Gangster Girl

 

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – Release Date: July 15
Another perennial favorite at Halloween is Harry Potter. The Adult Harry Potter Costume, and the unlicensed adult sexy Hermione Costume knock-off are both consistent best sellers, and the kid’s Harry Potter costume is always hot, not only for Halloween, but dress-up year-round.  With the release of the 6th HP installment, The Half-Blood Prince, Potter fans will once again be waving their magical wands this season.

Sexy Wizard Wanda Costume Adult Harry Potter Costume

Halloween II – Release Date: August 28
Rob Zombie is coming back for round two with the iconic Michael Myers. Considered by many to be the scariest film villain ever, the Michael Myers mask has been a consistent Halloween best-seller for decades. With the release of Zombie’s Halloween 2 just two months before October 31st, we expect it to be especially popular this Halloween night. After all, this is ‘the night he came home.’

 Rob Zombie Michael Myers MaskClassic Latex Michael Myers Mask

Alice in Wonderland – Release Date: March 5, 2010
Why include a movie that doesn’t come out until 5 months after Halloween? Two reasons. Tim Burton and Johnny Depp.  The buzz around this film has been swirling for months. Interest has spiked even further recently with the release of intruiging character models and concept art. Like Johnny Depp (who will appear in this film as the Mad Hatter), Burton’s creative characters have spawned many Halloween costume favorites, including Jack Skellington and Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas, The Corpse Bride, and Beetlejuice. His following and track record, along with the throngs of readers patiently awaiting a finally-faithful ‘Wonderland’ adaptation, give this film massive potential both at the box office and during Halloween season. Already popular at Halloween, Alice in Wonderland costumes, including the Mad Hatter Hat, Sexy Alice Costume and the Deluxe Queen of Hearts costume, are playful storybook choices.

Child Alice Costume Deluxe Queen of Hearts Costume

We also believe Transformers costumes, High School Musical 3 wigs and costumes and Twilight vampire fangs and contact lenses will leave a mark on Halloween this year. And don’t count out last year’s box office champ, The Dark Knight. Batman and Joker Costumes will be doing battle in the streets of Gotham again.