Friday, April 24, 2015

The Valiant Movie News is Ridiculously Exciting Stuff

We all knew Valiant was working on bringing some of its characters to the big screen, but there hasn't been any especially detailed news in quite some time. We know some of the properties the publisher's interested in and we know it's teaming-up with DMG to make these movies happen, but now we finally know when the first set of movies will begin to drop and which characters will be the first ones to step into the spotlight. Working with Sony, Valiant is going to create two Bloodshot movies and two Harbinger movies before unleashing a Harbinger Wars film. To Valiant fans, this is obviously exciting news. To everyone else, there's understandable concern about the world having one too many comic book movies. Well, I'm here to tell you why you should be thrilled about Valiant creating its own cinematic universe.
I have a pretty big confession to make, okay? Before Valiant rebooted back in 2012, I wasn't a fan of the publisher. In fact, my only experience with Valiant before it reemerged was the Iron Man and X-O Manowar crossover game -- I have it for my Sega Game Gear. Despite that, the publisher's reboot won me over and several years later, they continue to earn my love and support. With a focus on quality over quantity, Valiant really has brought these characters back in a way that offers something for just about everyone. These don't feel like dated characters who are lucky enough to get another shot; these are intelligent and entertaining stories! This publisher consistently delivers and has yet to let me down.

Dinesh Shamdasani, Valiant's CEO & CCO, has obviously played an important part in the publisher's success and he's expressed in countless interviews just how passionate he really is about these characters. When it was announced Sony would be the Studio behind these films, there were some immediate concerns racing around in my head. Despite enjoy The Amazing Spider-Man movies, it's clear the studio did some major interfering with the story and that took a noticeable toll on the final product's narrative. However, you'd assume this would be a learning experience for the studio since The Amazing Spider-Man wasn't nearly as big of a hit as they wanted it to be. Even if that's not the case, the fact Dinesh is producing these movies puts my mind at ease. I can't help but feel like he wouldn't simply sit back and allow the studio to make absurd changes -- changes which could take a toll on the stories. This is a huge deal for the publisher and I'm sure he's well aware of just how critical this step is for them.

A Bloodshot movie has the chance to seem all kinds of familiar. We're talking about a brainwashed killing machine who's trying to learn about his identity, so it's easy to draw parallels to Wolverine and a gazillion other stories out there. How could they make this unique enough to pull-in more people instead of making many potential moviegoers shrug and say, "Looks like more of the same or just an action movie from the '90s." The comics are good -- especially the new Bloodshot: Reborn series (go read it!) -- but a vast majority of the people who will possibly buy a ticket likely haven't bought any of the comics, so the fact it's Bloodshot isn't enough to sell them on seeing the movie. Simply put, they aren't pre-existing fans, so the trailer needs to blow them away. But what will motivate them to see yet another action-heavy, shoot 'em up featuring a man who's trying to discover his past? I believe Bloodshot has two things working in its favor: John Wick's directors and the fact it's the start of an all-new cinematic universe.
On paper, John Wick is so generic. But thanks to David Leitch and Chad Stahelski's directing (along with several other factors, like the score and Keanu Reeve's performance), it turned out to be one of the more memorable action movies in the past few decades. I mean, it's no The Raid, but it's still really damn good. John Wick could have been cliche, yet they turned it into something truly special and fun. It was full of cheerworthy and intense action, attention-grabbing worldbuilding, and just enough emotion. Ladies and gentlemen, those three things are critical for Bloodshot. If the two can pull off refreshing action, a legitimate emotional connection to the lead, and the promise of a bigger and interesting universe yet again, it'll be well worth the price of a ticket and an exceptional way to begin this new cinematic universe. What they did so well in John Wick is exactly what they need to do well in Bloodshot. Otherwise, it'll be forgettable and that'll be a disaster for them. No pressure, right?

Since this is the movie that'll launch the Valiant Cinematic Universe, it's safe to say they'll do their best to make sure this one hooks us and leaves us wanting more. It'll focus on Bloodshot's story, but it'll also begin to slowly unravel a much bigger picture -- one that'll hopefully leave viewers saying they want to see more and they want to have some of their questions answered. Also, I seriously hope some promotions say "by the directors of John Wick," otherwise they'll have to do some major marketing to win over a large amount of people. Going to the movies isn't a cheap experience. With so many appealing films coming out, a fair amount of people decide what's worth seeing in theaters and what they'll eventually rent. John Wick earned one hell of a following and understandably so. I think they can bring that crowd to Bloodshot and it'll definitely help them at the box office. That story draws a few parallels to Bloodshot, but now it involves powers and there's the promise of seeing expansion of this world. To many of the people who've seen John Wick, that's pretty exciting news.
While Bloodshot hopefully offers some jaw-dropping action and just enough worldbuilding to hold onto your attention, Harbinger is the movie that'll offer something totally different. You probably won't find shootouts and non-stop action in this one; this will be Valiant's chance to offer something thought-provoking. If you had the power to change the world, would you? How far would you go? If you had astonishing telekentic abilities, how would you really use them? Harbinger impressed because it's a legitimately compelling, character-driven story.

While Bloodshot may be clever and impactful in its own ways, Harbinger is the movie that'll truly require a smart and gripping script if it wants to be even remotely as good as the source material. Bloodshot can get away with a not-so-great story if the choreography and action sequences are a blast. Now, that's not to say Harbinger won't have plenty of action. In fact, this one's going to need a really creative director because the displays of completely different powers has the chance to be truly stunning and immersive. It'll rely heavily on visual effects and it's the kind of movie that can appeal to your brain while also wowing your eyes with spectacle. This is definitely one that could take advantage of 3D.
The roster has someone for everyone to fall in love with (I'm on team Faith) and what made the comic so special is just how well it humanized and fleshed out each of the protagonists. No one here is one-dimensional; they each have relatable and powerful tales. Everyone is going to walk out of the theater with a different favorite character. I can almost see this as being a more grounded and a darker version of Guardians of the Galaxy. But, you know, with psionic powers instead of all of the sci-fi elements. In addition to a seriously likable team, it also has a fascinating villain: Toyo Harada. The most formidable psiot on the planet, Toyo wants to make the world a better place for everyone. Oh, did I say "everyone?" I meant "everyone who won't stand in his way." You can draw some parallels to Magneto and I recommend reading his origin story (Harbinger #0) to see the brilliant work the publisher has done with the villain. Unless he doesn't want the role or he's way too expensive, they should really get Ken Watanabe to play as Toyo. He'd be perfect.

"Sure, these movies have potential, but announcing two right away for both of them and then a crossover? Isn't that a bit premature?" Sure, it's a risk, but I'm guessing it's one they're willing to take because they're going to go all-out and have confidence in the movies they're going to release. Additionally, I'd say both Bloodshot and Harbinger are worthy of at least two movies. Bloodshot's whole first movie can be his "origin" and dealing with Project Rising Spirit. After that, he discovers about children being experimented on and sets out to do what he can about it. Harbinger would serve as our introduction to the team and this world, concluding with a major conflict involving Toyo -- one that obviously don't truly defeat him or even temporarily defeat him. The sequel could be this group's side of the story as they also discover about the children being trained and manipulated. As both sides do what they can in this mission, they move closer and closer to each other. Then, Harbinger Wars has the potential to deliver on four movies full of buildup. When I read Harbinger Wars, I thought to myself, "This would be an AWESOME movie. It has a ton of thrilling action and it's consistently epic." I'm sure a large number of readers had a very similar thought while reading it. Now, that's becoming a reality and I seriously hope it's as awesome as we all want it to be.
Imagine if Harbinger Wars has a credits scene involving X-O Manowar. Unless these movies totally bomb, it would be silly to think Valiant only has plans for these five movies. Bloodshot delivers gun-heavy mayhem and Harbinger unleashes exciting powers and a whole lot of emotion, but X-O Manowar would give Valiant, Sony, and DMG the opportunity to give us a sci-fi adventure. Shadowman could provide dark fantasy and supernatural elements. And Ninjak? Man, that would just be a phenomenal spy movie. Seeing as Matthew Vaughn is an executive producer on Bloodshot, I sincerely hope he gets to direct at least one of Valiant's movies. If so, he'd be perfect for Ninjak. However, that might be too similar to his other work. Honestly, I'd have faith in anything that guy directs.

Will these movies give the big two a run for their money? Probably not. Marvel Studios has spent years earning a following and DC has the advantage of incorporating two of the most recognizable heroes on the planet. I don't see Valiant's movies breaking the box office, but if they're even remotely close to the quality of the comics the publisher has been releasing, then we're going to be in for a real treat. If they are as good as we're hoping they'll be, positive word of mouth will definitely give these features a few more dollars and hopefully, quite a few new fans. There's a lot of comic book movies out there, but Valiant's been doing amazing things and has focused on making sure they're giving us the right stories. Valiant hasn't just rushed a character out there for a blatant cash grab -- that's why it took so long for the publisher to give us a Ninjak comic! If they're now stepping into the cinematic ring, I have a feeling it's because they're going to give us stories they believe are worth seeing in theaters. Let's hope I'm right. And if they do turn out to be disappointing movies, at least we still have plenty of excellent comics to enjoy.
Bloodshot opens in 2017. No word yet on who will direct Harbinger and Harbinger Wars or when they'll open. 

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