The 25 Most Influential People in Comic Book Movies: #3 Kevin Feige

Kevin Feige is Marvel’s 21st century boy. He began his comic book movie career as associate producer of X-Men in 2000, and moved on to become co-producer of X2 in 2003 and executive producer of X-Men: The Last Stand in 2006, working with the likes of #19 Ralph Winter, #16 Lauren Shuler Donner, and #9 Bryan Singer. By this time, Feige had also worked in some sort of production capacity on eight other Marvel films, including Daredevil, Elektra, Hulk, Spider-Man 2, The Punisher, Blade: Trinity, Man-Thing, and Fantastic Four. In 2007, Feige was named President of Production at Marvel Studios. He continued to serve as executive producer of more Marvel properties that year, including Spider-Man 3 (made with #11 Sam Raimi at the helm) and 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer (working again with Ralph Winter). In 2008, he produced the enormously successful Iron Man and the also popular The Incredible Hulk (with the contributions of star writer #12 Zak Penn and famed producer #21 Gale Anne Hurd.) With the success of these two films, things look good for the future of Feige and Marvel Studios. Marvel’s relatively new comic book movie production studio has several ambitious new projects in the works, as does Feige himself. He is serving as executive producer of the soon to be released Punisher: War Zone, and will be an executive producer, with #22 Micahel De Luca, of a planned 2009 release of The Hands of Shang-Chi, based on the Marvel character of the same name. Feige will return to the X-Men franchise, accompanied by Lauren Shuler Donner and Ralph Winter, with their production of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, scheduled for release on May 1, 2009.

Influence Meter: ++++++++++

The 25 Most Influential People in Comic Book Movies: #4 David S. Goyer

     Despite his career ups and downs, David S. Goyer has become the go-to guy for getting screenplays written for Marvel, DC, Dark Horse and other comic book publishers. In 1996, he wrote The Crow: City of Angels, the sequel to #20 Jeff Most’s dark hit The Crow. Alex Proyas, director of The Crow, hired Goyer to write a polish for his next film the sci-fi/fantasy success Dark City. Goyer’s first adaptation of a Marvel Comics character was the 1998 television film Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., starring David Hasselhoff. The same year, the cinematic feature Blade was released, written by Goyer and executive produced by #22 Michael De Luca. Goyer created the original character of Whistler, Blade‘s mentor, for the film. Marvel later added the character into the comic book’s continuity. Goyer would follow Blade as writer and executive producer of Blade II, directed by #10 Guillermo Del Toro in 2002 with designer #13 Mike Mignola on board.  In 2004, New Line released Blade: Trinity, which Goyer wrote, directed and produced himself. Although Trinity received an unfortunately ill reception from critics and fans, Goyer found redemption in 2005’s Batman Begins, for which he shared story and screenplay writing credits with director #18 Christopher Nolan. Goyer also wrote the dialogue and story for the accompanying Batman Begins video game. In 2006, Goyer returned to Blade as writer for the short-lived televisions series “Blade: The Series,” which aired only 12 episodes. His last released works include 2007’s Ghost Rider, for which Goyer served as executive producer. The film’s final script was written by director #14 Mark Steven Johnson. Goyer also wrote the screenplay for the segment “In Darkness Dwells,” part of the animated compilation Batman: Gotham Knight to be released on July 8, 2008.
     David Goyer’s future projects include The Dark Knight, set for release on July 18, 2008, on which he again shares story writing credits with director Christopher Nolan. He is working on a final version of a screenplay for X-Men Origins: Magneto, after the original screenplay by Sheldon Turner.  Goyer is also attached to direct the Marvel film, set for release in 2009. He is credited as a writer of the screenplay for the currently in-production film adaptation of the DC character The Flash, scheduled for release in 2010. Hollywood.com reports that he has been announced to produce Super Max, based on the DC character Green Arrow.  He is also announced to produce a film adaptation of Vertigo ComcisY: The Last Man, and to direct an adaptation of Platinum StudiosUnique. Variety reports that Goyer will be directing a film adaptation of the 2007 graphic novel Baltimore, or The Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire, co-written by Mike Mignola.

Influence Meter: ++++++++++

The 25 Most Influential People in Comic Book Movies: #5 Michael E. Uslan

Michael E. Uslan is the undisputed father of the modern Batman film. A comics lore legend, he was the first professor to teach a course on “comic book folklore” at an accredited university (his alma mater Indiana University.) He famously convinced the Dean of the school to allow his course after equating the Dean’s recollection of the story of Moses with the story of Superman. Since 1979, he and co-founder of Batfilm Productions #8 Benjamin Melniker have owned the feature motion picture rights to the DC Comics Batman franchise. Uslan has shared production credits on every one of Melniker’s comic book screen works, including every Batman film since 1989. He was the first to pitch the idea of a darker Batman, as opposed to the campy 1960s TV Batman, to producers, but was turned down repeatedly. His persistence, however, eventually led to the production of Tim Burton’s 1989 classic, and he has remained the Batman authority since then. In addition, he was executive producer of 2008’s direct to video Turok: Son of Stone, based on the Dell, Gold Key and Valiant Comics hero. He is set to produce Billy Batson and the Legend of Shazam, based on the original DC Comics Captain Marvel. With #11 Sam Raimi, he will be producing a film adaptation of The Shadow, a long time pet project of Raimi’s.

Influence Meter: +++++++++

The 25 Most Influential People in Comic Book Movies: #6 Mike Richardson

Mike Richardson     So you saw a sci-fi or fantasy movie, and it featured some off-the-wall characters, and maybe you thought it was entertaining, and it got some hype, but you didn’t realize until later that it was a comic book movie.  There’s a good chance that it was produced by Mike Richardson, the president of the world’s third largest comic book publisher, Dark Horse Comics. Since 1986, Dark Horse has been a beacon for restless artists and writers fleeing the ranks of Marvel and DC wishing to make a name for themselves with their own “creator owned” comics.
     In 1994, Richardson served as executive producer of two films made through Dark Horse subsidiary Dark Horse Entertainment.  One was The Mask (with co-executive producer #22 Michael De Luca), based on Richardson’s own comic of the same name, created in the late 1980’s/ early ‘90s.   The film earned several awards and nominations and was instrumental in propelling Jim Carrey’s comedic career forward. The Mask was followed by the three season long “The Mask” animated television series, which ran from 1995 to 1997, and by the Razzie Award winning Son of the Mask in 2005 (also executive produced by Richardson). The other film for which Richardson was an executive producer in 1994 was Timecop, made with producer #11 Sam Raimi and #17 Lawrence Gordon‘s production company Largo Entertainment. It was again based on Richardson’s eponymous comic, published by Dark Horse. This film was nominated for a Saturn Award for Best Science Fiction Film and was particularly lauded for Jean Claude Van-Damme’s surprisingly competent dramatic performance in the starring role.  The film was followed up by the 1997 television series “Timecop” (which he co-executive produced with Gordon) and the 2003 direct-to-video sequel Timecop: The Berlin Decision.  In the latter half of the 1990s he produced two films; 1996’s Barb Wire, another Razzie Award nominee starring Pamela Anderson as the eponymous character published by the Dark Horse imprint Comics Greatest World, and the 1999 comedy Mystery Men (with producer Lawrence Gordon), loosely based on characters appearing in Bob Burden’s Flaming Carrot Comics, published by Dark Horse in the late 1980s/early 1990s. Richardson was also the executive producer of the 1999 movie Virus (producer #21 Gale Anne Hurd‘s first comic book film) based on the Dark Horse comic of the same name. Once again, this film was almost universally panned.
     By the end of the ‘90s, Mike Richardson was making movies, but was in a slump with the critics. Not to be dissuaded, Richardson regrouped, and 5 years later he came back with his production of Dark Horse’s flagship property, Hellboy.  With the all-star team of producer Lawrence Gordon, producer/designer/writer/creator #13 Mike Mignola, and visionary director #10 Guillermo del Toro, Richardson had made a box office and critical success that reinvigorated his company and the independent comic book industry all at once. Hellboy Animated: Sword of Storms won him a 2007 Emmy for Outstanding Animated Program, followed by Hellboy Animated: Blood and Iron a year later. He was executive producer of both and again worked with the invaluable talents of Del Toro and Mignola.  He is currently working on his production of Hellboy II: The Golden Army, starring Ron Perlman and Selma Blair.  He has brought Gordon, Mignola, and Del Toro back together again for the sequel which is set for release on July 11, 2008.  Other Mike Richardson projects include 2004’s AVP: Alien vs. Predator, based in part on the Dark Horse comic series, and 2007’s 30 Days of Night, produced by Sam Raimi and based on the limited series published by IDW. Richardson served as executive producer on both films.
     Future projects for Mike Richardson include feature length productions of Dark Horse comic series R.I.P.D., Damn Nation, Criminal Macabre (based on Dark Horse/IDW character Cal McDonald), Concrete, and Black Cross.  He is slated to work as producer on all of these films.  Release dates have yet to be announced.

Influence Meter: ++++++++

The 25 Most Influential People in Comic Book Movies: #7 Frank Miller

Frank Miller     Frank Miller revolutionized the comic book superhero mainstream in the 1980s and ’90s with his injection of Neo-noir and anti-heroic elements into the stories he drew, wrote, and created. His works have had such an impact on popular culture that filmmakers seem compelled to produce them for the screen. In 1981 he created the character Elektra for Marvel, on which Jennifer Garner’s portrayal in the 2003 film Daredevil and in 2005’s Elektra were based. Both films were created with the involvement of #14 Mark Steven Johnson; the latter being co-written by #12 Zak PennIn 1983, Miller created the limited series Ronin for DC Comics.  A film adaptation is in the works involving 300 producer Gianni Nunnari but no release date has been announced.  In 1986, DC released Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, a critically acclaimed and highly influential work that took the campy Batman of the 1960s television show and redefined him into the darker, grittier hero now well known to audiences. This, along with Alan Moore’s 1986 work Batman: The Killing Joke, were major influences on Tim Burton’s 1989 film Batman. In 1987, Miller wrote the story arc for four issues of Batman titled Batman: Year One.  This story became the basis of the first of many scripts and story ideas that eventually resulted in #18 Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins, co-created with #5 David S. Goyer.  
     After leaving Marvel and DC, Miller went on to create his own independent work.  In 1990 he created the three issue series Hard Boiled, published by Dark Horse, which is in the works to be adapted into a film written by Miller and produced by star Nicolas Cage. No release date has officially been issued. In 1991, Miller wrote and drew his first Sin City story, published under the Dark Horse title Dark Horse Presents. Throughout the decade, Sin City “yarns” became increasingly popular and critically well received, reinvigorating the noir and crime comics genre and giving rise to the 2005 film Sin City. Miller was credited as a co-director on this film with Robert Rodriguez, marking an end to his disdain for Hollywood comic book adaptations. Sin City 2 and Sin City 3 are also planned, with Miller directing both and acting as the producer and writer of the screenplay for Sin City 2. In 1996, Miller created Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot for Dark Horse, which led to an animated television series of the same name airing from 1999 to 2001. In 1998, Miller and long time collaborator Lynn Varley created the acclaimed graphic novel 300, on which the eponymous 2007 film was based, which Miller executive produced. His latest project, a film adaptation of Will Eisner’s golden age comic The Spirit, is scheduled for release on December 25, 2008, starring Gabriel Macht and Samuel L. Jackson, with #8 Benjamin Melniker and #5 Michael Uslan as executive producers, and Frank Miller directing.

Influence Meter: ++++++++

The 25 Most Influential People in Comic Book Movies: #8 Benjamin Melniker

Batman '89 logoFormer Executive Vice President at MGM and current film industry legend, Benjamin Melniker is the co-founder (with #5 Michael E. Uslan) of Batfilm Productions, Inc. On October 3, 1979, Melniker and Uslan acquired all feature motion picture and allied rights on Batman from DC Comics. Since that time, this dynamic duo has executive produced every modern Batman film, including Batman (heavily influenced by the work of #7 Frank Miller), Batman Returns, Batman Forever, Batman & Robin, Batman Begins (helmed by #18 Christopher Nolan, co-created by #5 David S. Goyer and instigated in part by an early script by Frank Miller) and the immeasurably anticipated The Dark Knight (also directed by Nolan and co-written with Goyer), opening on July 18, 2008. Melniker and Uslan have produced or executive produced many Batman animated projects, television shows, and spinoffs, including the 1992 “Batman” animated TV series (with development assistance from #13 Mike Mignola), Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman, Batman: Gotham Knight (written in part by David Goyer, to be released direct to DVD July 8, 2008), Batman Beyond: Return of the JokerSubZero, and Catwoman. Other projects include their work together as producers of DC/Vertigo‘s Constantine (along with #16 Lauren Shuler Donner and executive producer #15 Gilbert Adler) which has led the two to sign on as producers of the hopefully coming sequel Constantine 2 (also with Adler and Shuler Donner), and The Spirit, which Melniker and Uslan will executive produce and which Frank Miller will direct, starring Gabriel Macht and Samuel L. Jackson, due to be released on December 25, 2008.  Prior to Batfilm, Melniker and Uslan also notably produced Swamp Thing and The Return of Swamp Thing, as well as the 1990 “Swamp Thing” television series, all based on DC’s eponymous character.

Influence Meter: ++++++++

The 25 Most Influential People in Comic Book Movies: #9 Bryan Singer

Bryan SingerPrior to signing on to direct X-Men, Bryan Singer considered comics to be “low level literature.”  He was not a fan of comics and was unfamiliar with the X-Men characters. Singer’s friend, Tom DeSanto, a huge comic book enthusiast, eventually persuaded Singer to watch every episode of the X-Men animated series and read several comics.  Singer was hooked. His new found enthusiasm for comics coupled with The Usual Suspects tucked away in his back pocket made him a prime choice for 20th Century Fox and producers #16 Lauren Shuler Donner, Avi Arad, and Stan Lee.  The result was the groundbreaking X-Men, which he directed and for which he co-wrote the story, followed by 2003’s smash hit X2, which he directed and for which he wrote the story and served as executive producer.  In 2004, amidst difficulties finalizing a deal for Singer to direct X-Men 3, he was hired by Warner Brothers to direct, produce, and co-write the story for a new Superman film, Superman Returns, released in 2006. Again, Singer was unfamiliar with the comics, but he identified with the character and loved Richard Donner’s 1978 film Superman.  His next comic book film will be Superman: Man of Steel, which he will produce and for which he will write the story.  News suggests that Singer will be directing as well, but there has been some evidence to the contrary.  The sequel is set to be released in June of 2009.

Influence Meter: ++++++

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.