5 Geek Properties That Need To Go Retro
There are so many geek properties being made into movies and TV shows right now. The tendency when adapting these properties is to modernize them so that they take place in the here and now. That’s fine for many of these properties. A lot of these characters and concepts are timeless and easily translate to any time period, but I feel like some characters and concepts just work better set in a time period from our not so distant past. From time to time a movie or TV show will go that route, and it works out great. I couldn’t imagine Captain America: The First Avenger not being set during the World War II era. The Netflix original sensation Stranger Things completely embraced the retro science-fiction/horror elements of the 1980s. The upcoming Wonder Woman film is also running with the concept by taking us back to World War I to see Princess Diana’s origin unfold. The most recent X-Men movies have also gone this route although I don’t feel like they’ve gone as far with it as they could. Frankly, I wish more movies and TV shows would go with this concept. Here are just a few that I would like to see.
G.I. JOE: A REAL AMERICAN HERO
I know that we’ve already had two G.I. Joe movies, but I have to say that I was disappointed. I literally only made it 20 minutes or so into G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra before turning it off. I thought it was that bad. Although I’ve heard that the second movie with Bruce Willis as the original “Joe” was better, I’ve yet to work up the courage to actually watch it.
G.I. Joe seems like a great property to adapt for the screen. You’ve got an elite American fighting force taking on a terrorist organization known as Cobra. And there are ninjas. You can’t forget the ninjas. G.I. Joe clearly captured the imaginations of kids in the early 1980s who gobbled up the action figures and all of their many variants and tuned in to the Saturday morning cartoon. The comic book written by Larry Hama was also excellent. One of the highlights of the action figures was reading about the characters’ backgrounds (also written by Hama) that came on the action figures’ packaging.
Most of the Joes had a background that included the Vietnam War. I think a movie should run with that. Make G.I. Joe an early 1980s Cold War/Reagan era film about Vietnam veterans taking on the world’s enemies. That will always be G.I. Joe to me. So now you know, and knowing is half the battle.
THE MARTIAN MANHUNTER
DC Comics’s shape-shifting, telepathic manhunter from Mars is apparently being left out of the lineup for the big Justice League movie coming in 2017 despite being a traditional founding member of the team. Sure, he’s on the CW’s Supergirl TV series, but I think the character’s potential is wasted there.
My vision is to see J’onn J’onzz in his own TV series set in the 1950s. Beginning as Detective “John Jones” we would see post-World War II America and the world through the eyes of a true alien living among us in the form of one of us. I see each season of the series making time jumps and covering approximately a decade as J’onn moves through the ’50s to the ’60’s to the ’70s and so on with the series finally ending in the present age. In a similar vein to Doctor Who, every decade or so J’onn would change identities, meaning that the lead actor of the series would also change. The 1950s detective could give way to an African-American caught up in the Civil Rights Movement of the Kennedy/Martin Luther King, Jr. years and so on. J’onn J’onzz would be a Martian stuck on Earth hunting for the meaning of what it means to be a man.
Look, I love the 1994 film The Crow with Brandon Lee. I don’t ever want to see a “remake” of that movie. What I wouldn’t mind seeing is a completely new adaptation of the original graphic novel by James O’Barr.
The original comic was born out of a personal tragedy experienced by its creator. I think there’s a reason that O’Barr is pretty much only known for one thing, and that’s The Crow. The guy poured his heart and soul into that comic. By the time he was done, I’m not sure if he had much left to offer. The Crow remains a groundbreaking comic that brought attention to comics outside of the publication power of Marvel and DC. It was also a comic clearly inspired by the era in which it was written. The influence of the whole 1980s punk/glam rock scene seems evident to me from the art and character designs. Why not set Eric Draven’s story in the time that bore it? Create an adaptation that is closer to the original graphic novel. Make it its own thing rather than trying to remake the Brandon Lee classic.
HEROES FOR HIRE
Luke Cage and Danny Rand, Power Man and Iron Fist: unlikely best friends and Heroes for Hire. I know that Marvel and Netflix is already giving Luke Cage and Iron Fist their own original series and that they’ll bring them together in The Defenders. I’m sure they will also be excellent considering the quality of Netflix’s Daredevil and Jessica Jones series, but a part of me still yearns for something quirky like a Heroes For Hire series set in the 1970s. To me it would be an homage to the kung fu import films and the blaxploitation movies that emerged in the ’70s. Just imagine Chuck Norris from his Way of the Dragon days running around taking down bad guys with Shaft to the tune of a funky ’70s soundtrack. It may just be the best Quentin Tarantino movie he never made. Sweet Christmas!
THE FANTASTIC FOUR
Talk about a geek property that Hollywood just can’t seem to get right. Maybe the problem is that when it comes to Marvel’s Fantastic Four, the solution is to look backward and not forward. I know many fans would like to see the movie rights of Marvel’s first family returned to Marvel Studios rather than remain in the hands of Fox. I tend to agree, but how do you fold them into the Marvel Cinematic Universe if those rights are transferred?
The Fantastic Four were the foundation upon which Marvel Comics as we know it was built, so it would seem odd for them to come in this late in the game. My solution? Send them back to where they started with Stan Lee and Jack Kirby: the 1960s.
The Fantastic Four have been called “imaginauts.” It’s the weird science-fiction of Doctor Who meets 2001: A Space Odyssey. They were a team of explorers and heroes born out of the whole space race, let’s beat the commies for America era. It’s Mad Men mixed with lOThe Outer Limits. It’s a movie begging to be set in the 1960s.
It’s simple. Make Dr. Reed Richards a contemporary of Iron Man’s dad Howard Stark and Dr. Hank Pym of Ant-Man. Reed takes his team on a daring and unauthorized mission of space exploration. Here’s where things get weird and go all Lost in Space. After gaining their powers, Reed, Sue, Ben, and Johnny spend the next few years exploring the weird and wild galaxy trying to find their way home (just think of all the Guardians of the Galaxy connections you could make!) There’s your first movie. When the Fantastic Four finally make it back home it’s to discover what has been only a few years for them has been decades for planet Earth. Here’s a chance for Marvel to really explore the cultural changes and “man out of time” syndrome that they give a few nods here and there to with Captain America. Here’s a chance to see this family acclimate to a new world. Suddenly planet Earth is one of the strangest planets in the galaxy that the Fantastic Four has had the opportunity to explore.
Got some ideas for geek properties you’d like to see get the retro treatment? Let us know in the comments sections here and on Facebook. Stranger things have happened, right?