Hey folks, Harry here... Personally I'd love to see a Brother Voodoo movie and a Jonah Hex flick. Now... if they ever fucking make a "PREZ" movie... that's when to hang up the 4-Colors for a decade or so. Here's Beaks and a whole helluvalot of Goyer... Read on...
This is the third interview I’ve conducted with David Goyer this year, and, this time, I finally had the latitude to cover a full range of topics I’d been holding back. Below, you’ll find out more about BLADE: TRINITY and BATMAN, glean a thing or two on IRON MAN, and, most importantly, have a definitive answer to the question: “When they make ‘x comic book’ into a movie, it’s time for the genre to go away for a while.”
Since we last talked, or, you know, that interview that is now lost to my technological travails.
You have to say that. You have to say that you lost it.
Oh, I know.* This is the second go-round with you, and—
I’m just trying to monopolize your time.
And I have to preface that I have a bad cold, but it doesn’t matter because it’s print.
We were talking about the ending of BLADE TRINITY at the time. You were tinkering with it and could possibly go in two different directions with it. Are you still working on that?
There are a lot of rumors about the ending, none of which are completely right. I’ve seen a lot of people saying that he dies, or that they changed the ending so that he doesn’t die. I don’t want to give anything away, obviously, but I love it when I read stuff online that is put forward with such complete (authority), and then it becomes canon because other websites pick it up and you just sit there, shake your head and say, “No, you don’t know. That’s not even remotely what’s happening.” But there are definitely different endings that we’ve been playing around with, some versions of which will show up on the DVD as deleted scenes. We’re doing a third test in the coming weeks, and that will be the ending that was scripted. We’ve never tested that ending, so we’ll see how that goes. There were also a lot of differences of opinion as to – and, unfortunately, until the movie comes out, I can’t fully reveal this. But there was a lot of internal dissent between different parties as to what way to go with the ending.
Between New Line and yourself?
And even Marvel, too. It’s actually been quite the happy family in the main, but there are just a lot of different people with wildly opinions about how, as the third movie, it should end. Everyone was very passionate about it, and I was surprised at the positions some of the party took.
I would think that some of this would have to do with maintaining the franchise, and going forward with the Nightstalkers.
Yes and no. I know this sounds crazy, but, originally, New Line… it could go any different direction. There could be another BLADE; there could not be another one. There could be a NIGHTSTALKERS; there could not be another one. There could be another BLADE without Wesley. New Line was willing to do that. It just depends. And I’m not trying to give you a bullshit Hollywood answer, but… at the end of the day all of these decisions are made, first and foremost, because of business considerations. It’s how profitable the film is… the DVD’s… things like that. How much money do they have to pay the star, and does that cut into their profits? Things like that. I remember at one point they were saying, “Oh, we should make another one with DMX.” And just because of DMX, it’ll be $10 million cheaper. But then will it make as much money? I don’t know.
I was going to say that I just received the KILL BILL VOL. 2 DVD the other day. Michael Jai White’s pretty badass with a sword in that deleted scene.
Different people online have said that he should be the new Blade. He’s a good actor, and he certainly knows martial arts. We used to talk about if we did a television show maybe he could play Blade. The difference between Blade and Batman, having another actor play the character, is that, with Batman, there had been the Adam West Batman, and then there was Michael Keaton. And people were wondering how the franchise would continue if it wasn’t Michael Keaton. With Blade, there’s only been one version, and it’s always been Wesley. If it were a prequel, I could see the audience buying it. Would the audience buy it if it wasn’t Wesley and it was a sequel? I don’t know.
The interesting thing with Wesley nowadays is that he does the BLADE movies, and that’s it.
He’s certainly, in the last decade, not really known for much else.
Getting back to the Nightstalkers, in the clips I’ve seen, and just watching her develop as an actress, Jessica Biel has always struck me as having a really assertive presence. I really can see her having a long career in this genre.
She could be a big star. I really believe that. People were skeptical because of SEVENTH HEAVEN, but, come on, she started when she was fourteen, and that’s the only role anyone ever knew her as, and—
I never watched that show.
I’ve never seen it, either, but you saw the one clip. Physically, she can obviously pull it off. That was all her. There wasn’t a single shot that wasn’t her. But she does a lot more than that in the movie, particularly in the climax. She’s obviously beautiful, and, physically, she can pull it off, but I actually think she’s a really good actress.
I like seeing her in these roles. I mean, she was good in TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, but—
She’s got a part in Cameron Crowe’s new movie. She’s shooting that now, and I’m curious to see what she does with that. She’s really interested in doing independent movies, and, then, big paycheck movies. I’ve been talking to her about some of the movies she’s thinking about doing, and some of the indie ones are really cool. She definitely doesn’t want to just be the paycheck girl.
Well, hopefully that means no more SUMMER CATCH.
But it’s hard. I don’t know how old she was when she did that. Seventeen?
You’ve gotta take the paycheck.
Hey, look! *A lot* of us started out like that. I mean, I did KICKBOXER 2, DEMONIC TOYS, ARCADE when I was twenty-three. I don’t know if you’re an aspiring screenwriter or not, but if somebody said, “Hey, I’m going to pay you $50,000 to write a kickboxing movie”, you’d probably do it.
I’d do it. Absolutely. But mostly because I love kickboxing movies on general principle.
But at the beginning, when you’re starting out you even think, “Well, I could do a good job of it”, or “I could try to do a good job of it.” I mean, I did a couple of these Charlie Band movies when I started out, and I knew they were never going to be genius because he was only giving me eight days to write them. He pre-sold the poster and said, “Here’s a poster: DEMONIC TOYS. Write this movie in eight days.” But I’m just a starving twenty-three year old in this crappy, roach-infested apartment, and I’m going to write a movie in eight days. I’m going to try to make it as good as I can knowing that they’ve got horrible people that are making it. Believe it or not, in ARCADE or DEMONIC TOYS, I consider it a huge victory that there are a couple of funny or ironic lines in there that somehow eat their way through the crap.
How difficult was it fielding questions on that BATMAN BEGINS panel without an inch of footage to support you? You know the fans are going to be asking for proof, and you have to go, “Take me at my word.”
I know. Warner Brothers actually apologized afterward.
Then the teaser shows up two days later online.
I was actually really annoyed by that. I agree with Ain’t It Cool and some of the other (sites). I do think they missed an opportunity. I think they underestimated the importance of Comic Con, and also underestimated or misunderstood the audience’s relationship with that franchise. How betrayed they felt, and how… if you don’t have something to show, then don’t show up at Comic Con. Next year will be different, but the studios are still learning how to deal with Comic Con, and there are definitely growing pains. It really has become the Showest of geeks. Some of the studios get it and some of the studios don’t get it. It’s just a learning process, and I guarantee you next year Warner Brothers, whatever they’re doing, will treat it differently.
Nobody was trying to slight the fans. Chris is a perfectionist, and he was still tinkering with the teaser. Now, I think the teaser is really cool, but it was always meant to be a teaser. It’s, I don’t know, thirty-five seconds long. It’s short. But I saw some people complaining that they didn’t show enough. The movie’s not coming out for *ten months*! And Chris is a perfectionist. I was talking to him before Comic Con, and I was encouraging him to release it. But it just wasn’t exactly what he wanted it to be. I know that Bryan Singer had brought some really early stuff (two years ago), but that’s just not Chris. He’s just a perfectionist, and he didn’t want it released. There were some shots in there that he had wanted to put in that weren’t ready that *aren’t* in, and, ultimately, the decision Warner Brothers made was, “Fine, fuck it, we’ll release it!” It was definitely weird that they released it two days later.
One of the suspicions was that this was payback for the script getting out early.
No, it definitely wasn’t that. There was a big meeting at Warner Brothers on Monday (following Comic Con), where they just said, “Well, we could’ve handled that better.” They knew some people would feel slighted by releasing it after Comic Con, but I think at that point the decision was, “Screw it! Let’s just put it out there.” Now, they could’ve waited until the convention in Chicago in a couple of weeks, or something like that. Was it the right decision to release it after the fact? People liked it. It got people excited.
It’s not an issue anymore. I think people were a little miffed, but then they were like, “Wow!”
Twenty-four hours later they were like, “Yeah, it definitely looks different than the Schumacher movies.”
Geeks don’t hold a grudge that long, so long as they’re happy.
At the end of the day, the movie’s got ten months to build up its promotion. I was sitting there on that panel saying, “Look, it couldn’t be further removed from the Schumacher movies.”
The great thing is that it looks like a Christopher Nolan film. That’s the first feeling I get. If I was watching that teaser and didn’t know what I was looking at—
You wouldn’t know it’s BATMAN. When Chris and I first sat down, we talked about the teaser, and we said, “How cool would it be for the audience not to know it’s the BATMAN teaser until the end?” And he did that.
I’m curious, though. The script got out online a while back, and I should preface this by saying that I have *not* read any drafts of this script—
And different versions of the script have come out, too.
How do you deal with that? Does it annoy you.
Yeah. (Long pause.) I think that the internet has helped some movies, but I also think it’s obviously hurt some movies. I remember when I was reading comic books as a kid, when you got to the cliffhanger you had to wait a month, and you wouldn’t know what happened until the next month when you went to the comic book store and opened it up. That was really cool, and that’s blown. Every comic book, every movie… it’s impossible to keep things out. That’s kind of sad because I just think, and it has nothing to do with a defensive posture when you’re trying to market your movie or something like that. But the experience of watching a movie is somewhat truncated by having all of this spoiler stuff out there. And even if you try not to read all of the spoiler stuff, stuff still leaks out or people talk about it.
Because, after a while, people assume everybody knows.
I also think (the internet) can be dangerous because I think you can have a very small group of people affecting the outcome of a movie, and that group of people might not be representative of the greater public. And I’m sorry, but the talk back group, and some of them are cool, but the good thing and the bad thing about the internet is that it sort of flattens everything out. Everybody’s on the same playing field. You can have some guy in Topeka getting as much play online as the director of the movie, or vice versa. That’s good and bad. But I’ve learned that the talk backs are much more negative than the general public. Why do you think that is?
Why do *I* think they’re more negative?
Well, because the people who tend to talk back nowadays, and this is not all of them, but the majority of them are bitter, probably older guys who need to have their voice out there. They want to be a part of the process. And if they can’t be a part of the process, they want to shit on it.
It’s funny because talk back and other things are not representative of what the general public is going to think, which is both good and bad, but then the studios print them out, and some guy, like the head of marketing, will say, “Hey, we got three really good reviews on Ain’t It Cool.” But were they plants, or—
“Did we write those?”
Exactly. And there are negative plants, too, because I know for a fact that there are producers and other writers that are online savvy that will go and trash a competitor’s film. Just write a vicious review.
I can think of one in particular.
So can I. The whole thing is so skewed. In the case of the script leaking, I would say that in the main the response was really positive. So, that was good, as opposed to the SUPERMAN reaction. Most of the internet reviews of the script – there was one on Superhero Hype and one on Latino Review – were very, very positive. So, it didn’t really hurt us. Obviously, though, it had an effect on SUPERMAN.
I think it was a positive effect, though, to get Bryan in there.
I agree. People were just so upset, and I know that the Warner Brothers people were looking at it.
Were you ever consulted on SUPERMAN?
Never. I was wondering every once in a while if I would get a call. It’s one of the few that I never got a call on.
Well, for those of us who haven’t read the BATMAN BEGINS script, it does seem that it is a deathly serious take. It doesn’t look like there’s much wisecracking in this at all.
It’s very serious and very sober. It’s dark. I mean, there are moments of lightness; you can have lightness and have it not be comedy. It’s a serious approach. It treats it like it’s not a comic book movie. I think I was saying on the panel that it treats it as if it was an Alexander Dumas novel, or any other classic piece of source material.
Last time we talked, you said, “Once you’ve nailed Batman…”
“… what else do you do?” I don’t know. Although I am talking about other comic book projects.
IRON MAN I’m not going to do.
You just consulted. It was you and Protosevich?
David Hayter, too. We were just paid by New Line to sit in a room for a couple of days to spitball and debate. Should he be an alcoholic in the first movie? Should he not be an alcoholic? Should it start period? Should it not? What villains should you use? I don’t know where they ended up, but I was *adamantly* opposed to using The Mandarin. I think The Mandarin is super dated and racist. I just don’t know how you make The Mandarin work in the modern day. You know, they had done a version of the script where they tried to make him a sort of Indonesian industrialist that was sort of tied into Al Qaeda, but it wasn’t really The Mandarin anyway.
Do you know if Hayter is incorporating Tony Stark’s alcoholism in the first film?
I don’t know. Protosevich and I felt that the versions that had come before were neither fish nor fowl. He had a drinking problem, but he wasn’t really an alcoholic. I know that Protosevich and I felt that for the first film he should drink a lot, but it should just be in the background. But the second film, you should face the alcoholism head-on. For the first film it just seems like such a downer. The thing that people forget, and I think it was incredibly brave for Marvel to make him an alcoholic, was they made him an alcoholic around issue number 125. He had all of these adventures, and *then* he became an alcoholic. To do it in the first movie, although it would be interesting, it would just be death.
Well, origin films are already crammed with exposition.
And alcoholism was not a part of his origin.
I do like the idea of him being a drinker in the first film.
Yeah. And maybe getting drunk in one of the scenes in the movie. It’s there, but if you’re successful, you take it on in the second film.
You said you had other comic books that you were being consulted on?
There’s one I’m talking about. One at D.C. and one at Marvel.
The D.C. one wouldn’t happen to be GREEN LANTERN, would it?
I know you’ve talked about the comic book genre as being cyclical. It will die—
But then it will come back.
But I have bit of criteria: when they make a “x” comic book into a movie, then I know it’s time for the genre to go away for a while.
And what’s the comic book?
Well, I have my ideas, but what’s yours?
I think if we see a DAZZLER movie, we should run for cover. If we see a BROTHER VOODOO movie, we should run for cover. In D.C., for me, it’s LOBO.
There are people who really want a LOBO movie.
I know. I’m not one of them. Or if you see a HAWK AND DOVE movie.
CLOAK AND DAGGER? Oh, but that’s Marvel.
I think you can make a good movie out of a third-tier character; I mean, BLADE is one. Maybe someone will come up with an amazing DAZZLER movie, or maybe someone will come up with an amazing LOBO movie.
I always thought JONAH HEX would be the one that’d bring it to an end.
But JONAH HEX could be cool if you did it ala HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER, or something like that.
I guess. It’s just that the character has never…
You never had an affinity for it?
No. I mean, I’d buy it because I bought everything, but I would read it and wonder why I’m reading it, why it’s being written, who is actually enjoying this, and is there some guy waiting month to month for the further adventures of JONAH HEX? It ran for a while. It’s not like it was STRIKEFORCE: MORITURI.
But that they’re developing as a Sci-Fi Network series.
Maybe it does need to go away.
But some not well known comic properties might make for good movies. That’s the thing: you can’t just say that because it’s not well know, (it won’t work). The idea of a group of people who gain powers to fight an alien invasion, but know they’re going to die within a certain amount of time… that’s sort of interesting.
And there are certain authors that just don’t translate well. Alan Moore has been a bear, and I think they’ve been going after the wrong properties. I think, narratively, WATCHMEN is the most ideal for paring down.
I think WATCHMEN is difficult. I think of the Alan Moore stuff, it’s definitely the best thing to import to film.
The things that make Moore are the minutiae. It’s the texture. That’s why you read them.
But WATCHMEN is interesting because it’s a self-reflexive take on comic book icons. My question is: will the audience get that? When you read WATCHMEN, you’re like, “Oh, that’s Batman, that’s Superman, that’s Wonder Woman.” There are all of these iconic characters. Originally, he was going to do it with the Charlton characters. Is a filmgoing audience going to get that?
They might not pick up on those nuances, but I think the story is strong enough that, if they don’t get that, there’s still something there for them.
There’s definitely room for a revisionist superhero movie. I love that quote from Juvenal: “Who watches the Watchmen?” I like the idea of a world populated with superheroes, and, if they go bad, who’s going to save us? Somebody’s going to make a movie like that, whether it’s SUPREME POWER, or WATCHMEN, or whether it’s RISING STARS. They’re all basically about stripping away the hero myth. What happens if they go bad.
They’d be the UNFORGIVEN of the comic genre. But it took an awfully long time for the Westerns to get to UNFORGIVEN. When you’re done with these comic books, or just taking a break, would you go back to doing smaller stuff like ZIG-ZAG?
I’d love to do something like that again. You know, I was talking with a writer who said that we all have things that we’d like to do, but then sometimes you should go through the door that’s open. After BLADE and BATMAN… you have to weigh, “Do I go off down this tangent and make this artsy little independent film? It might work out well, or it might waste two years of my life, and I’ll be out of it.” It’s difficult. We all know directors who were the next big thing and completely squandered *that* moment. I don’t want to name names, they’re talented, but it’s like, “Where is their second or third film?” They’ve been silent for three or four years because... either they wanted to pursue something that nobody wanted, or they pursued a series of things that were maybe too big for their britches.
You constantly have to balance art versus… not commerce. I had this script that I really wanted to do, MURDER MYSTERIES, based on the Neil Gaiman short story that I wrote for me to direct. I think it’s the best thing I’ve ever written, and Neil thinks it’s the best thing of his that’s ever been adapted. I’m dying to do it, but… it’s definitely my DARK CITY. It’s going to require at least $30 million or $40 million to do it. Do I try to make it now, or do I try to get another big hit under me?
But you also have the luxury of people coming to you for possible writing assignments. You wouldn’t be wanting for work. You could be making this risky thing, but people would still know you a comic guy.
Right. I could always write THE AVENGERS movie.
Or THE DEFENDERS.
THE DEFENDERS. There’s one! If we ever see a DEFENDERS movie, we should probably take a break.
Hopefully, it never comes to that.
BLADE: TRINITY will hit theaters December 10th, 2004.
* (Beaks discloses: Look, the VOR on my recorder somehow got switched on down at San Diego, which means that my interviews with Goyer and Sarah Michelle Gellar got turned into indecipherable bits of disconnected conversation. I am the very model of a modern major internet journalist.)