Thursday, November 11, 2010

Will AMC Save the Comic Book Movie?

For years, my go-to cry at the mention of a comic book being licensed for film adaptation was "Take it HBO, for the love of God".   The movies we're given are frequently so watered down or compromised or stripped of what makes a property great and loaded up with what producers think makes a property sell that the finished product is almost unrecognizeable as whatever comic it started out as. This is especially prevalent in the super hero genre. Now with the rough beast that is the Marvel Film Universe slouching inexorably toward The Avengers, a lot of people are feeling that comic book movies are about to suffer a bit of a backlash, or perhaps a Roman style collapse. Too much, too much, too much, and not enough dedication from the studio behind it to invest the money and give the artistic leeway that could make sure the movies are great.

That said, super heroics work well on the big screen, and frequently the stories fit happily into three readily filmable acts. Just as often, the third one fails dramatically, but that's not the source material's fault so much as its handling and the trappings of telling the story of a hero, especially an origin story. Super heroes do not the comic book industry make, however not entirely, and of the wealth of material out there to be mined, the best of it is long-form storytelling that belongs in a long-form medium.

Neil Gaiman's Sandman belongs on HBO or Showtime, I believe that fervently. It needs the kind of money and freedom to be not merely graphic, but just truly bizarre. A Dream of a Thousand Cats belongs on HBO. It just does. Similarly, an adpatation of Bill Willingham's Fables, I would prefer to see on HBO where the violence and fantasy get to be played out with equal splendor. Certainly no traditional network, NBC or ABS or even something 'edgier' like FX would be equipped to create, promote and broadcast these stories.

Then AMC happened. AMC used to play crappy movies that none of the major networks or special channels wanted to play. Then things got weird. Between Mad Men and Breaking Bad, in the past four years AMC has become the new name in avante garde tv. Telling stories that should be nigh impossible to tell, let alone sell, with grace, heart and unflinching boldness. When AMC announced The Walking Dead, I could scarcely contain my excitement. I haven't even read The Walking Dead, though I'll be starting very soon, and I knew in my gut it was going to be badass. This is because AMC has managed to do something that I don't think any other network has- they don't seem to give a damn. It's not like the channel could become less relevant than it initially was. They have nothing to lose by being ballsy and creative and believing in their properties, nothing. It's a beautiful thing.

So now word comes down the pike that Letterier, so fond of citing how he used to be making his 'little French films',  is talking to NewLine about taking over Y: The Last Man.  Let me be frank: I would be happy as a clam if this project would just die in its crib. There has not been a single name associated with Y as a filmic entity that I thought "yeah, that's awesome" since the rumors started, years ago. Not ONE. If Y: The Last Man and Cowboy Bebop NEVER make it to the big screen in live action form, I will die feeling like there are at least two pure, good things left in the world. But if it has to happen...

Let it happen on AMC. Let Y go to a channel that believes in long-form storytelling, and character. I haven't watched all of Breaking Bad, but I have seen every episode of Mad Men at least twice, and I have now seen both episodes of The Walking Dead in excess of three times. Each. Because apparently I'm the only person on the UES who knows how to use a DVR. But you know what? I'm happy to have you come over to my place and watch it, because it's so. Good. If Y: The Last Man has a home in the world of film, that home is on AMC, without question. The question of direction then becomes happily secondary- the person who counts is the show runner, and you have a stable of directors, people who don't need to be household names or have a CGI monstrosity under their belt to be considered for a 'comic book movie'.  The multiple directors factor works particularly well for Y given the hugely diverse nature of the storylines and the places those stories take you.

If they could hold off on this happening for a year or two while I get my SAG card and move to Canada where they will doubtless be filming it, though, that would be great. Thanks.

So after having some pretty intense Y-on-AMC daydreams, it ocurred to me that AMC, while probably not looking to fill this specific a niche, really could be the last, best bastion of comic book adaptations. Things that I would have decried as unfilmable or too sprawling or too anythign for the big screen or network tv could fit beautifully on AMC.  Like Powers. That's what AMC is missing, a good ol' fashioned cop show, right?

No two shows on AMC feel the same, except they all have a curious gravity to them. They are so intensely cinematic, and surprising- by far the best shows on television are, at this moment, on AMC.

...This is all my opinion, that's a given, right? I mean, my love for Supernatural knows no bounds,  and I will argue that South Park gets better with each new season, but from a stance of storytelling and quality, I can't think of anything that's on par with Mad Men. And, God in heaven, is it Sunday yet? Momma needs her zombies.


wickedgoddess said...

I think I love you. And by that I mean I agree with every word you just wrote. Yes, yes, a thousand times yes!

EruditeChick said...

WALKING DEAD SCENTS!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!??!?!?!?!?!

I mean- thanks for reading :3

wickedgoddess said...

You have no idea how happy that would make me. Hmmm...I do know someone. ;-)

LoquaciousMuse said...

Well. Effing. Said. I would love Y to be on television! It means Yorick doesn't have to be a damn star already too! None of the cast does! Let us start brainstorming perfect showrunners! Weeee!

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