From “Black Panther” to “Deadpool” to “Wonder Woman,” comic-book movies reign supreme. But as Hollywood exhausts the most obvious superheroes (and even the ones who never seemed likely to be film stars) we’re hoping the industry might finally tell some of the stranger, quirkier comic-book stories we’ve always dreamed of seeing onscreen.
On the latest “Shoot This Now” podcast, we’re joined by TheWrap’s comic-book authority Umberto Gonzales to talk about our dream comic-book movies. Mine is basically “X-Men” meets “Boogie Nights,” Umberto’s is a ninjafied face-off between James Bond and Foxy Brown types, and my co-host, Matt Donnelly, asks why oh why we can’t have a Calvin and Hobbes film.
Matt and Umberto pitch their dream comic-book movies — for Ninja-K and Calvin and Hobbes — much better than I ever could. So give the podcast a listen. I don’t want to say we go a little off-topic this episode, but the post-scripts at the end of this story — involving “The Lion King” and “Tomb Raider” — should give you an idea of how far off-topic we go this episode.
The movie I’d most like to see is an adaptation of Ann Nocenti’s “Beauty and the Beast” miniseries, which starred the blue-furred Beast (played onscreen by Kelsey Grammar and Nicholas Hoult) and Dazzler — whose Playboy-esque appearance was a source of debate before she debuted.
Ira Madison III, among others, has written about how Dazzler was intended as the first disco superhero, a powerful, Grace Jones-inspired artist. Instead, a corporate deal between Marvel and a record company turned her into a blonde Bo Derek-like figure.
Dazzler was meant to be the first disco superhero. But she had the misfortune to debut in 1980, just as disco, appropriated and stretched far from its Black and gay origins, plummeted in popularity.
Dazzler soon came out publicly as a mutant with the ability to turn sound into light — a pretty good power for a disco queen. But this was the closeted ’80s, when mutants provided a comic-book stand-in for many disenfranchised victims of blind prejudice. So Dazzler’s openness cost her her career.
And so begins “Beauty and the Beast,” in which Dazzler takes one of the worst jobs in seedy ’80s Hollywood, hoping to fight her way to the top. The Beast tries to save her. And things get ugly. More than anything else, it’s a story about the stigma of being different.
P.S. I mistakenly say in the podcast that people in Kenya — who often speak Swahili — only call lions “simbas” for the benefit of tourists who have seen “The Lion King.” In fact, “simba” is the Swahili word for lion. While I have heard Kenyans refer to warthogs as “pumbaas” for the benefit of “Lion King”-loving tourists, I was dummy to use “simba” as an example of word that locals use solely for the benefit of foreign visitors.
P.P.S. Here is the Wikipedia entry on the beautiful Ta Prohm temple featured in “Tomb Raider.”