Marvel’s Deals with the Devil

Blame, blame is such an easy game. Why, with such an incredible universe to draw from, is Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. such a bore? There is quite a lot of blame to go around but it lies rooted in Marvel’s financial woes in the 90s. There is a great article on Marvel’s trip from bankruptcy to billions here so I won’t go into too much depth.

The Incredible Hulk

Marvel had a big television hit with The Incredible Hulk. It was a wonderful formula: take a well liked actor (Bill Bixby), add a champion body builder (Lou Ferrigno), and simply retell The Fugitive, a popular television series from fifteen years earlier. It worked great. They then attempted to repeat this success with Captain America (painfully bad), Dr. Strange, and others. They didn’t pan out so Marvel tried to launch a few more from within The Incredible Hulk. The Incredible Hulk Returns featured Thor and The Trial of the Incredible Hulk featured Daredevil.

As part of the recovery from bankruptcy in the 90s, numerous licensing deals were made.  It is great that Marvel was able to climb back out of the hole but many of the terms on the deals were ridiculous.

X-Men

Twentieth Century Fox made a fantastic version of X-Men (2000) and the even better X-Men 2 (2003). Unfortunately, the deal allowed X-Men movies to be owned by Fox in perpetuity as long as the movies kept being made. That would be bad enough but the deal included all of the standard X-Men, their standard villains, and even extended to the term mutant.

Attempts had been made during the 90s to bring Spider-Man, Marvel’s most iconic character, to the big screen and while that failed, the rights were tied up for quite some time. Once the rights were untangled, Columbia (Sony) locked them up again, including a rogue’s gallery of Marvel’s best villains. Once again, a really good blockbuster was made, Spider-Man (2002) followed by an even better sequel, Spider-Man 2 (2004).

Daredevil

Apparently, it took a long time for Marvel to catch on that they were selling the cow instead of the milk. Essentially the same deal was made, again with Twentieth Century Fox, for Daredevil. Daredevil, Elektra, The Kingpin, and even Ben Urich were tied up. Ditto Lionsgate with The Punisher (2004) and The Punisher: War Zone (2008).

Finally, the Fantastic Four rights were locked up, again by Twentieth Century Fox. This wouldn’t be so bad as they were usually self-contained but it also included Doctor Doom and the Silver Surfer. Not just that but Fantastic Four (2005), Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007), and the reboot Fantastic Four (2015) have all been pretty dire.

Not only did Marvel practically give away their entire roster of characters but many others such as Iron Man were locked up in deals where the movie simply never came to fruition.

 

A Little Local Theater Frustration

This is going to be an absolutely whiny post so feel free to skip past. My favorite local theater is Carolina Cinemas. They have a great combination of mainstream and arthouse films, fantastic food, good customer service.

Lately though I haven’t had a clear cut winner. This is a shame as I go to a ton of movies during the summer. I would love to have a theater that had all the things I look for.

Epic Cinemas

EPIC: My closest theater is great as it is only fifteen minutes away. They have nice screens and sound systems. Their prepared food is almost exclusively microwaved and they have the world’s worst pretzels. They often have nice promotional plastic cups. They accept DealFlicks but not Fandango and have a $6 Tuesday special (Sony and Warner excluded).

Carolina Cinemas

CAROLINA: Their screens and sound are quite good but just a touch below Regal and Epic. Their fresh, locally sourced food is a mixed bag but even a mixed bag easily beats the microwaved food of the other two. Soda refills are FREE for all sizes and are located outside the counter. They are about to accept Dealflicks but do not accept Fandango and they have a $5 Wednesday promotion (Sony excluded).

Regal Cinemas

REGAL: State of the art stadium theater seating equals Epic. Their upcharged RPX theater is the best in the area. The upcharge is annoying but also means that it is less crowded. They also have the only Coke Icee available. They accept Fandango but not DealFlicks. They also have a children’s movie program in summer where the other two do not.

 

Just When I Thought I Was Out, FREE Movie Tickets

I have been making a conscious effort to attend fewer movies to save money. While nowhere near as large as a movie screen, I have a very nice television. I can drink my own brewed tea at home instead of a coke at the cinema. My snacks and homemade baked goods are certainly better than anything I can get at the theater. Top all of that off with home release windows narrowing to three months and you really don’t have to wait long to watch something at home.

Jack Ryan

Then a certain retailer (Curse you, Best Buy!) had The Hunt for Red October blu-ray (and others) on an endcap for $9.99 with a FREE movie ticket to Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. Other titles included Clear and Present Danger, Patriot Games, The Sum of All fears, Top Gun, Minority Report, and the Mission Impossible movies.

Robocop

Best Buy also had an endcap of $7.99 blu-rays with FREE tickets to the new Robocop movie. Titles included the remastered edition of Robocop, Ronin, A-Team, Red Dawn, Die Hard, The Terminator, Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, Walking Tall, Roadhouse, Predator 2, Escape from New York, Navy Seals, Commando, and Immortals.

Sadly I am a sucker for FREE movie tickets. I finesse them with the theater’s rewards program to earn more new items (popcorn, soda, tickets). Never forget to use your theater’s reward card with these. Also if it is a Sony or Disney release, save the ticket stubs to submit for their rewards points.

Disney offer

Speaking of Disney Movie Rewards, they are currently offering a FREE movie if you enter three DVD/Blu-ray codes. Choices include Cars, Secretariat, Dumbo, and Tron Legacy. You will have to pay shipping and handling but that’s a small price to pay.

300: Rise of an Empire has an upcoming FREE ticket promo on select copies of 300, Braveheart, Gladiator, Alexander, Troy, and either Clash of the Titans.

Beginning of November This ‘n’ That – Netflix, Vudu

Netflix

 

* Netflix has started adding an intermittent banner scroll of their top choices on the main page. This is essentially the same type of banner that Hulu has.

Vudu

 

* Sony and Vudu are partnering to bring owners of Sony films on Vudu extras like those that can be found on DVDs and Blu-Rays. The first title with these extras is District 9. If you already own the films on Vudu that have extras, you will receive the extras for FREE. This is part of their drive to promote and legitimize digital sales over physical ones.

* If you want to know where you can stream a particular movie, try Can I Stream It? They have various filters for Netflix, Redbox, Amazon and such. Do take their results with a grain of salt though as they currently list Sinister (2012) with Ethan Hawke as available with Prime and it’s not. A different Sinister movie is and some of their Disney results are wonky. Still it can be useful and the site is bound to improve.