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: #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: #12 Zak Penn

Zak PennZak Penn started his writing career in the early 1990s with such films as The Last Action Hero and PCU. In 1997, Universal Studios, working at the time with #21 Gale Anne Hurd, hired Penn to rewrite an early draft of a script for Hulk written by John Turman, featuring a fight scene involving the Hulk and a school of sharks.  Although a different script was ultimately used, Penn soon graduated to writing the story for 2003’s X2, produced by #16 Lauren Shuler Donner and #19 Ralph WinterAfter this success, he was hired to write four projects over the next three years; Elektra (after executive producer #14 Mark Steven Johnson‘s early draft script, based on #7 Frank Miller‘s titular character), the Fantastic Four video game, X-Men: The Official Game (for which he wrote the screenplay and story), and X-Men: The Last Stand.  He wrote the story and the first three drafts of the script for The Incredible Hulk, released on June 13, 2008, starring star and co-writer Edward Norton and Liv Tyler. Zak Penn is currently engaged as the writer for the upcoming Marvel films The Avengers and The First Avenger: Captain America, both scheduled for release in 2011.

Influence Meter: +++++

The 25 Most Influential People in Comic Book Movies: #14 Mark Steven Johnson

Mark Steven JohnsonSome may call him a pioneer of dark and gritty comic book films. Others might say he’s the worst friend Marvel Studios could have. Either way, Mark Steven Johnson has certainly made his mark on Hollywood.  In 2003 he directed and co-wrote the screenplay for Daredevil, based on the eponymous Marvel character.  Interestingly, Johnson appeared in Kevin Smith’s 2001 comedy Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back pretending to direct a Daredevil movie.  A few years later, he was actually hired by Twentieth Century Fox to direct Daredevil. Smith wrote several issues of Daredevil comics for Marvel in 1999 and had a cameo role in Johnson’s Daredevil. Ben Affleck, who starred in Daredevil, co-starred in Jay and Silent Bob.  These fateful coincidences notwithstanding, the film opened to mixed reviews.  In 2005, Johnson was the executive producer for the spinoff film Elektra (based on the Marvel character created by #7 Frank Miller), for which he also wrote an early draft script.  Reviews for this film were awful, and Rotten Tomatoes ranked it the second worst reviewed comic book movie of all time.  Did Johnson find redemption in 2007’s Ghost Rider (produced by #22 Michael De Luca with executive producer #5 David S. Goyer), which he directed and for which he wrote the screen story and screenplay?  It depends on who you ask.  It didn’t completely flop at the box office, and it got slightly better critical reviews than Elektra, but that’s not saying much. Despite these misfires, Johnson is set to direct a possible Daredevil II and co-write the screenplay for a film based on Marvel’s Luke Cage, but release dates have not yet been issued for these films. Johnson is currently involved as executive producer and writer for a television adaptation of Garth EnnisPreacher for HBO.

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The 25 Most Influential People in Comic Book Movies: #22 Michael De Luca

Michael De Luca

Now a producer at Columbia Pictures, Michael De Luca has been the president of production at DreamWorks Pictures and the president of production at New Line Cinema. A self-avowed lover of comic books, he got his comic book movie start by serving as the executive producer (with #6 Mike Richardson) of The Mask, based on the Dark Horse Comics publication.  Shortly after that, he collaborated on the story to 1995’s Judge Dredd, along with William Wisher, Jr., which was based on the British comic character of the same name published in the comics anthology 2000 A.D.  He was the executive producer for Blade and Blade II (although he was uncredited for Blade), working with #13 Mike Mignola and writer/executive producer #5 David S. Goyer.  In 2007 he produced Ghost Rider with director and writer #14 Mark Steven Johnson and executive producer David S. Goyer to a dismal reception.  However, he is set to be an executive producer for Marvel’s martial-arts piece The Hands of Shang-Chi to be released in 2009, and will be producing Priest, based on South Korean graphic novelist Min-Woo Hyung’s work of the same name, also to be released in 2009.

Influence Meter: +++