Day of Controversy: Angel and Twilight, and the Spidey Reboot

The cover to "Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 8's" seventh trade paperback by Jo Chen.
The cover to "Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 8's" seventh trade paperback by Jo Chen.

Yesterday was a pretty crazy day on the internets, but while everyone was yelling about the Spider-Man movie reboot (which we’ll get to in a minute), there was another bit of drama brewing at the offices of IDW and Dark Horse, the publishers of the “in-continuity” Angel and Buffy The Vampire Slayer series, respectively.

See, because they are two different comic companies, there’s been word from the very beginning that they two wouldn’t crossover.  Not only that, but Whedon has always been more involved with the Buffy comic than the Angel comic, which had a bumpy start but, much like the show, has been building a loyal fanbase since.  I actually don’t read either comic (though have often pondered picking them up in trade), but was completely astonished to hear about the revelation that the “Big Bad” of the Buffy Season 8 comic, Twilight, who’s identity has thus far been a mystery, is actually none other than Angel!

Revealed this week at CBR that this had been the plan from the beginning, it was also said by Biuffy editor Scott Allie that the two series would indeed reconcile how Angel became Twilight from what’s going on in his current title.

Then came the drama.

Friendly playing?
Friendly playing?

Writer Bill Willingham (Justice Society of America), who is the current writer of the Angel series for IDW, had this to say about the reveal (highlights added by us).

I would like to respond to your article of January 8th, titled BEHIND BUFFY’S TWILIGHT REVEAL, and clear up a few points, making clear that I am speaking only for myself, not IDW or Fox.

Five scripts in, and counting, on IDW’s ongoing Angel comic book series, I am not coordinating, nor have I ever coordinated stories with Scott Allie, Joss Whedon, nor anyone else at Dark Horse Comics. No one at IDW has ever instructed me, or suggested to me, ways in which I might conform my scripts to what is going on with Dark Horse’s Buffy comics, which I’ve purposely not read, specifically to avoid being influenced by them. I’ve had exactly one short conversation, in passing, with Joss Whedon, which took place years ago and had nothing to do with these matters. To my knowledge I’ve never had a conversation with Scott Allie, beyond being introduced to him, at conventions and such, though I doubt even that much contact has occurred. I have however been told, in no uncertain terms, that Mr. Whedon is not available for contact concerning anything to do with the Angel series at IDW, because he is only working with Dark Horse. So I’m not sure how Scott Allie imagines he and Mr. Whedon plan to coordinate IDW’s Angel series into their Buffy series, as is implied in the seventh paragraph of your article.

For Allie to suggest that he is in coordination with IDW, as he did in that seventh paragraph, is grossly misleading, at best. By intentionally allowing, encouraging in fact, the notion to exist among the comics reading public, that Whedon and Dark Horse are in any way steering, or influencing, the stories I help to produce in IDW’s ongoing Angel series, Allie and Whedon are committing what is tantamount to taking credit for the work of others, a repugnant practice in any business, although I understand it is all too common in some.

As long as I am writing the Angel series for IDW, I will not be coordinating stories with any Dark Horse comic, period.

Of course, Allie responded by saying “I haven’t talked to Bill, but I’ve been talking to Chris Ryall, and I think we’re gonna work things out. My line about making the continuities jibe was something I’d said to Chris the night before I did any interviews, and he seemed okay with it. We never intended to go in and screw with what Bill’s doing, though.”

So obviously this story isn’t over – either the two titles have to reconcile, or fans will eventually be told that, due to Whedon’s lack of involvement with IDW’s book, it’s not in-continuity, or, well, Willingham will leave the title.

Sadly, the thing that disturbs me the most is that, not only is Whedon not involved in the Angel title, apparently the writers have been told not to contact him?  Obviously, this story is far from over.

The end of the Spider-Man "Trilogy."
The end of the Spider-Man "Trilogy."

More controversy brewed in the comic world yesterday with the news that Spider-Man 4, at least as envisioned by Sam Raimi (and starring Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, and John Malkovitch as the Vulture), is dead in the water.  There has already been news of weeks of arguing between Raimi and Sony, which seemed to centered around the villains.  Raimi wanted the whole Vulture/Vulturess story we told you about, and Sony…not so much.

Well, rather than come to a compromise (which probably wasn’t possible), Sony’s scrapped any ideas of having Raimi continuing on the series, and has instead decided to do a reboot:

Culver City, CA (January 11, 2010) — Peter Parker is going back to high school when the next Spider-Man hits theaters in the summer of 2012.

Columbia Pictures and Marvel Studios announced today they are moving forward with a film based on a script by James Vanderbilt that focuses on a teenager grappling with both contemporary human problems and amazing super-human crises.

The new chapter in the Spider-Man franchise produced by Columbia, Marvel Studios and Avi Arad and Laura Ziskin, will have a new cast and filmmaking team. Spider-Man 4 was to have been released in 2011, but had not yet gone into production.

“A decade ago we set out on this journey with Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire and together we made three Spider-Man films that set a new bar for the genre. When we began, no one ever imagined that we would make history at the box-office and now we have a rare opportunity to make history once again with this franchise. Peter Parker as an ordinary young adult grappling with extraordinary powers has always been the foundation that has made this character so timeless and compelling for generations of fans. We’re very excited about the creative possibilities that come from returning to Peter’s roots and we look forward to working once again with Marvel Studios, Avi Arad and Laura Ziskin on this new beginning,” said Amy Pascal, co-chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment.

“Working on the Spider-Man movies was the experience of a lifetime for me. While we were looking forward to doing a fourth one together, the studio and Marvel have a unique opportunity to take the franchise in a new direction, and I know they will do a terrific job,” said Sam Raimi.

“We have had a once-in-a-lifetime collaboration and friendship with Sam and Tobey and they have given us their best for the better part of the last decade. This is a bittersweet moment for us because while it is hard to imagine Spider-Man in anyone else’s hands, I know that this was a day that was inevitable,” said Matt Tolmach, president of Columbia Pictures, who has served as the studio’s chief production executive since the beginning of the franchise. “Now everything begins anew, and that’s got us all tremendously excited about what comes next. Under the continuing supervision of Avi and Laura, we have a clear vision for the future of Spider-Man and can’t wait to share this exciting new direction with audiences in 2012.”

“Spider-Man will always be an important franchise for Sony Pictures and a fresh start like this is a responsibility that we all take very seriously,” said Michael Lynton, Chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures. “We have always believed that story comes first and story guides the direction of these films and as we move onto the next chapter, we will stay true to that principle and will do so with the highest respect for the source material and the fans and moviegoers who deserve nothing but the best when it comes to bringing these stories and characters to life on the big screen.”

I take this news as bittersweet.  I really didn’t like the first and third Spider-Man movies, and pretty much hated the cast involved (except for Jonah Jameson – that dude IS Jonah Jameson).  So, ultimately, I’m happy to not have another crappy Spider-Man film, and I’ve pretty much moved away from my days as a Raimi apologist because, really, he hasn’t done a film I’ve like in a long, long time.  But their removal from the project would certainly make me happier if it wasn’t for the first sentence in the press release.

“Peter Parker is going back to high school when the next Spider-Man hits theaters in the summer of 2012.”  Why????  I’m ready to move past the high school Peter and see an adult Peter Parker.  Does this mean we need to see the origin again?  Do I need to hear “with great power comes great responsibility” a million more times?  Can’t we see a 20-something Peter Parker – hell, we’re at least getting that in Brand New Day.  While I understand the need to “reboot,” given the change in cast, you can also do something that doesn’t necessarily take place during the same exact time period in Peter’s life, you know?

On the bright side of things, 2012 looks to be a big damn year for geek movies, with this, Wolverine 2 and Star Trek 2.

Culver City, CA (January 11, 2010) — Peter Parker is going back to high school when the next Spider-Man hits theaters in the summer of 2012.Columbia Pictures and Marvel Studios announced today they are moving forward with a film based on a script by James Vanderbilt that focuses on a teenager grappling with both contemporary human problems and amazing super-human crises.

The new chapter in the Spider-Man franchise produced by Columbia, Marvel Studios and Avi Arad and Laura Ziskin, will have a new cast and filmmaking team. Spider-Man 4 was to have been released in 2011, but had not yet gone into production.

“A decade ago we set out on this journey with Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire and together we made three Spider-Man films that set a new bar for the genre. When we began, no one ever imagined that we would make history at the box-office and now we have a rare opportunity to make history once again with this franchise. Peter Parker as an ordinary young adult grappling with extraordinary powers has always been the foundation that has made this character so timeless and compelling for generations of fans. We’re very excited about the creative possibilities that come from returning to Peter’s roots and we look forward to working once again with Marvel Studios, Avi Arad and Laura Ziskin on this new beginning,” said Amy Pascal, co-chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment.

“Working on the Spider-Man movies was the experience of a lifetime for me. While we were looking forward to doing a fourth one together, the studio and Marvel have a unique opportunity to take the franchise in a new direction, and I know they will do a terrific job,” said Sam Raimi.

“We have had a once-in-a-lifetime collaboration and friendship with Sam and Tobey and they have given us their best for the better part of the last decade. This is a bittersweet moment for us because while it is hard to imagine Spider-Man in anyone else’s hands, I know that this was a day that was inevitable,” said Matt Tolmach, president of Columbia Pictures, who has served as the studio’s chief production executive since the beginning of the franchise. “Now everything begins anew, and that’s got us all tremendously excited about what comes next. Under the continuing supervision of Avi and Laura, we have a clear vision for the future of Spider-Man and can’t wait to share this exciting new direction with audiences in 2012.”

“Spider-Man will always be an important franchise for Sony Pictures and a fresh start like this is a responsibility that we all take very seriously,” said Michael Lynton, Chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures. “We have always believed that story comes first and story guides the direction of these films and as we move onto the next chapter, we will stay true to that principle and will do so with the highest respect for the source material and the fans and moviegoers who deserve nothing but the best when it comes to bringing these stories and characters to life on the big screen.”

2 comments on “Day of Controversy: Angel and Twilight, and the Spidey RebootAdd yours →

  1. I did not read the Angel series but the Buffy series is BAD, all the more heartbreaking given Joss’ involvement. I quit around issue 8 when it just went too far beyond stupid. Angel as the season villain, from the issues I had read, doesn’t even make sense. What a clusterfuck there.

    I’m glad there’s not a compromise on Spidey 4. Spidey 3 was a compromise and that story sucked sweat donkey balls. I don’t really like Spider-Man, though, and have no desire to watch another origin story given the last origin story is fresh in my mind. I’ll pass on that one.

  2. “We’re very excited about the creative possibilities that come from returning to Peter’s roots”

    Except for the fact that if you steer too much away from the comics you’ll alienate the geeks, while all those people who only saw the films will wonder why the hell they should go back and watch another origin story.

    I never bothered watching the second and third films because the first was bad and littered with uncharismatic actors. I can guarantee that I have absolutely no interest in a reboot.

    Of course this news is nothing compared to the fact that a Wolverine 2 is being made. The first was awful, how did it warrant a sequel? Unless that’s a reboot as well.

    Maybe they can reboot Batman or Superman again.

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