Archive for the ‘Movies’ Category

So its been awhile. I know. 

The new job is awesome, but I have been putting in some long days .Actually, I am typing this up on my lunch break. THAT’S how crazy its been.  I will be better I promise! 

But here’s the real reason that I wanted to talk to you today.  There is this little article that @EllieSullie (and, unbeknownst to be until after the fact) @JulianGrant threw up on their Facebook feeds.

It pissed me off to no end folks.

I will be nice and link you to said article which you can read here.  The gist of the article is this, that the “strong female characters” we have been seeing in films lately are really just… to use the author, Tasha Robinson’s own words “Superfluous, Flimsy Character disguised as a Strong Female Character”.

She lists example after example of this: 

-Valka in How to Train Your Dragon 2

-Wildfyre in The Lego Movie

-Tauriel in THe Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

-Dahl in Riddick

-Carol Marcus in Star Trek: Into Darkness

and more and more.  Here’s where I get ticked off:

The idea of the Strong Female Character—someone with her own identity, agenda, and story purpose—has thoroughly pervaded the conversation about what’s wrong with the way women are often perceived and portrayed today, incomics {sic}, videogames, and film especially.” 

This is an annoyance right here. The entire article focuses on films. If you are going to mention comics and video games, then guess what, you need to give examples of those too, which Ms. Robinson does not. (This is Speech 101 kicking in). However, I would like to bluntly express, in my post, I will NOT be talking about video games because I am not a gamer.

However, I am a TV/Movie/Comic Geek and Gender theory in mass media is one of my favorite subjects.

The other thing, she only gives one- yes ONE- good example, which is….. Emily Blunt’s character, Rita in the recently released Edge of Tomorrow. That’s it. One example of a positive (by her standards) strong female character.

I do agree with Ms. Robinson that there are a number of “wanna-be” SFC in mass media, but to give only one positive example is ridiculous. I ranted on @elliesullie’s post on this, and I realized there are a ton of SFC in film, television and in comics. So to balance out the negative article, here is a list (not completely comprehensive, because that would take probably 8 years to read) of strong female characters, through and through.

According to Ms. Robinson, to be a “legit” strong female character needs to do the following:

  1. After being introduced, do something that is “fundamentally significant to the outcome of the plot”. 
  2. If she is contributing to the plot, is it something other than getting hurt to motivated the hero? (I.e. what I always called the “damsel in distress” role).
  3. If the character could be replaced with a note on an inanimate object, then she is not useful to the plot.
  4. She cannot be the strongest/fastest/meanest etc until the male protagonist shows up who is stronger/meaner etc
  5. If she never needed to be rescued before, does she get rescued in this story to make the male hero look good?  (For comic fans- think of the old Fantastic Four or X-men comic books where all of a sudden Sue Storm got a nose bleed in the beginning of a fight or Jean Grey wandered off to fix her make up). 

So with that five qualifiers in mind, I would like to present to you some of the most kick ass “Strong Female Characters” in TV, Film and Comics.

(Some with explanations, but a complete list will be added and continued to update as time goes on). 


  • Glenn Close as Monica Rawling, Season 4 of The Shield

A former professor of mine, PG, can attest how much I love this character. I wrote a paper (it was suppose to be only 10 pages, I wrote close to 20) for my final grade for his class on Monica Rawling. 

Why is she so kick ass?  Well she is one of the first characters I ever saw that DID NOT fall into one of the major categories (whore/saint/damsel in distress). She was all of them. Coming from a cop family, I am VERY picky about my police shows but Ms. Close just made my jaw drop on the first line she has. Throughout the season she plays a tough as nails police captain (which right there, being a female captain is hard enough), dealt with unpopular politics of a controversial asset forfeiture program she spearheaded and even went out with the Strike Team to kick ass and take names. She didn’t see herself above anyone else, and even though she was a captain, didn’t have an office. She planted herself right in the thick of everything (defiantly-lead from the front, not behind a desk).

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  • Black Widow (both in comics and portrayed by Scarlett Johansson in Iron Man 2, The Avengers and Captain America: Winter Solider

Ill be the first to admit that I have a girl crush on Black Widow. She has always been one of my favorite characters ever since I started reading the Daredevilcomic book. She is THE spy. She is NEVER the victim. I mean really, to be part of the KGB red room training is not something anyone could go through. Did Natasha ever go “woe is me, I was made into a KGB spy against my will?” No. She rolled with it and then turn coat and started working with America. So now, you have a KGB agent, who’s now an American agent? Hell’s yes. And if anyone questions her, she pretty much kills them. 

Now, with the film adaptation, I was slightly disgusted because in Iron Man 2, she was handled more like a trophy wife until the last 5 minutes of the film. Now in Avengers, Wheadon actually gave the character some depth, and then in Winter Solider, she actually seemed more….human… then in Iron Man 2.

@EllieSully pointed out that alot of the aforementioned article that makes me upset does force feed some ideas down kids throats (in regards to The Lego Movie) and that there wasn’t really much out there for kids.

I beg to differ.


-Merida in Brave

I mean come on. She stands up to EVERYONE going “yeah, no I am not following tradition to be married off so we can get some land”, she is an early tomboy, “yes, I much rather play in the woods and shoot things with my bow and arrow”.  She realizes her mistake and does everything in her power to fix it, unlike the delayed realization with her mother.


-Torunn in Next Avengers

I love… LOVE… Torunn. This Marvel animated movie (set in an alternate universe), is a story about the sons (and daughter) of the Avengers. The parents were killed by Ultron and they are being raised by none other than Mr. Bachelor himself, Tony Stark. 

Torunn is the daughter of Thor and is upset because she thinks her dad either left her and/or is dead. Understandable why she is upset.  She is very much into her heritage. So much so she goes to the opposite extreme to be Asgardian as possible- even trying to put words like “Verily” into her every day speech. She goes through the true hero’s path (stubbornness, fighting, loosing something she thinks is important, realizing that it isn’t important, saving the day— wow, sound like her father much??) Her journey is practically a mirror image to the Thor film. At the end of the day- even though she could return to Asgard and be with her family, she decides to stay on Earth and take care of her little “brothers”. 

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Agents Simmons and  May in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D

There are various reasons why these two should go on the list. Simmons is smart as a whip, May is a tactical genius. Simmons creates all types of gadgets etc and geeks out reading scientific studies. May, well she is nicknamed (much to her dismay) “The Calvary” for a reason. These two, both being on the same show, display vastly different aspects  of a “strong female character”- both brains and brawn. Do they need to be rescued sometimes? Yeah that happens to even some of the male heroes on the show, so you cannot count it against them.


Katey Sagal as Gemma Teller in Sons of Anarchy

There is a specific reason that I used the image above with that quote. I will agree with some people that the way Gemma handles things is not exactly ethical, but its coming from a good place. If they need to put a picture with the phrase “Mama Bear” then it has to be of Gemma/Katey. For those who haven’t seen the show, Gemma has been a victim of rape and also of domestic abuse. I am only using the word “victim” here to classify the plot. She was NOT a victim by any stretch of the imagination. She picked herself up, brushed herself off and in the moved on (to do some devious planning to retaliate against the people that hurt her, but you get the idea). 

Other Strong Female Characters: (listed)

  • Agent Carter (Captain America: The First Avenger and the upcoming Agent Carter miniseries on ABC)
  • Agent Scully (X-Files TV show and movies)
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer (both television and comic books)
  • Captain Janeway in Star Trek: Voyager
  • Hermonie Granger in the Harry Potter Series (Both books and films)
  • Pepper Potts in the Iron Man films
  • Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games (both books and movies) 
  • Wonder Woman (Comics and the ever loved Lynda Carter TV Series)
  • Xena the Warrior Princess (TV)

Please feel free to comment and throw your two sense in here folks. The bigger this list gets the better! Support your reasoning and I will update this post (asap) with your reason on the list! 


The theme for this post is really tied to this panel from Kabuki: Circle of Bloodkabuki_cob_morebs

So last night I am bumbling through my tumblr account to stumble across this great little message from one of my favorite creators of all time, David Mack :

DrDavidMrMack — Great news from Marvel Film Studios that I’m... (1)

You can read the backstory here.

You have no clue how stoked I am about this. I have talked about Mack before (which you can read here). Why am I sitting here like a kid in toy store that was told they could have all the toys?

1) David Mack has always been one of my favorite people. Not only is he brilliant as a creator/storyteller but I have had the good fortune of meeting him on a few occasions and you couldn’t find a more humble person than Mr. Mack. That and he’s a riot to hang out with.

2) Captain America (outside of Daredevil) is probably tied for my second favorite Marvel hero (Thor is in second place also). If you haven’t read Ed Brubaker’s run on Captain America, you will totally be flabbergasted about who Winter Solider is. If you have already figured it out, trust me, you don’t know how he came to be. Its a great story line.

3) Take an epic story line and mash it into film with some of Mack’s art? *mind blown* Just to give you an idea take a look at this picture:

Vision Quest

If the picture is large on your screen, that’s intended. I want to make sure you can see the mind boggling detail. Yes. Those are actual feathers.

Want to see more of his art work? You can go to the official unofficial website here or follow him on Tumbler here. I could wax poetic about all of the different styles of awesome art that Mack has done over the years, but that’s not entirely the point of this post.

This is the reason for the toy store analogy above.

Ink Sketch of Captain America from a conventionMarvel yet again are playing the smart card. Most mainstream people know about the Marvel comics books (here on forever after referred to as the East Coast office) and the Studio (West Coast office). What many people don’t know is how much these two have been working together. Mack working on the title cards etc for Captain America: The Winter Solider is just the latest of it. Since 2007 when Marvel took out a loan with Merrill Lynch to start the studio division, I have pretty much trolled the news about ANYTHING that had to do with the company. As a comic book fan, I knew Marvel had a tendency to do things “The Marvel Way” and I was wondering how much of that would translate over into the film industry that is nothing but rules and regulations.

Marvel has been the first for a lot of things, including the East Coast office of writers, editors etc in setting the bricks for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) was the smartest idea. The Winter Solider storyline was done in comics back in 2005/2006. That’s like yesterday when you take a look at how long some companies take to adapt a storyline. I’ve said it before, and I will say it again, that Marvel needs to pay their casting directors and script supervisors in gold because they are the most crucial when it comes to the adaptations of the comics.  Grant it, if you read Mack’s post, it was really a round about way that he was included in on this project (it really was based on the art/concept pitch), however, his art is very distinct compared to most artists out there (and I am not NOT curtailing that to only comic book artists, but to artists in general).

Why was this so smart? How many times have you watched a movie or seen a poster done and go “man, I really like that and would totally

Cover to Daredevil V2 Ish 20-- one of the prints hanging on my wall.

Cover to Daredevil V2 Ish 20– one of the prints hanging on my wall.

hang it on my wall”?? At least once or twice in your life. Mack is one of the types that people either really LOVE him or go “ehhh”. I personally have a number of prints hanging on my wall by Mack and gotten a lot of commentary about them. That’s the point of this, commentary. Apples to Donuts, when you go see Captain America: The Winter Solider you will be going “Man, that’s pretty effing cool. I want that”. Marketing at its best folks.

Not only that, but you have the loyal fans of Mack’s talking about this because they are excited. That helps him indirectly because of course I am telling you about him and his work. Which hopefully (and I beg you too) will encourage you to read some of his work or get some prints etc.

You are probably saying that’s not any different than any other movie. Yes it is, because in this case, Mack has done a TON of work in the East Coast office, particularly on the Daredevil and Alias books (which I cannot recommend enough). How many of you would be tempted to go and try out these books either on the Marvel Digital Comic Website or at your local comic book shop?

Having the people that have laid the ground work in the comics put their two sense into the MCU makes so much sense I am shocked that other companies *cough* DC Comics *cough* are not doing this at all or if they are, its not enough/not working. Jeff Loeb, who many of you know as one of the creators of Heroes, is VP of Television at the west coast office. He also wrote TONS of comic books and knows the stories as well as anyone else.  Everything that has worked in the past in the East Coast office has been implemented/tweaked to incorporate into the West Coast office.


Hollywood take note, whatever magic Marvel is doing you need to start trying to figure it out. The box office numbers alone should prove this (let alone digital copes, rentals, dvd/blu-ray/3d discs and merchandising). I can tell you one secret I have figured out to get you going Hollywood:

Hire people that actually care about the source material. If you look at everyone that has worked on the films from Iron Man all the way through to trailers for Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy PLUS Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D you can see that every single person working this truly loves the characters and the story.

That’s why Marvel is so awesome, they hire great people- like David Mack.


So I love comics. I love movies.

Naturally I love comic book movies. Ok, well not all of them. Some of them suck pretty badly. However a majority of them, especially as of late, have been pretty damn good. (I mean, have you see the “Guardians of the Galaxy” Trailer??)

If you don’t know anything about the comic book fandom let me explain. If you are part of the comic book fandom, I apologize for the explanation, but feel free to expound upon it.

The best thing about the comic book fandom is the accessibility to the industry folks. This isn’t just at comic conventions, but really heavy within social media. Right now there are a handful of creators that I could email and ask a question and actually get a response- that is NOT some auto generated non-sense. How many sports fans can say that? Or movie buffs? It’s not like I could shoot an email to say, George Lucas and not get an almost instant response like some comic book writers and artists.

That is, in my humble opinion, what makes us unique as a fandom. It’s great. It truly is! There are extremes, but in general, comic book fans are pretty effing cool about things. So much so, I cannot begin to tell you how many charities the industry has, or when something goes south (i.e. 9/11, Hurricanes, Typhoons, Earthquakes etc) the fandom- and the industry- rally together to help in anyway they can.

Do you want to know how many times my faith in humanity has been restored because of the fandom? Too many to count. Some of which never made any news, that was only known by a handful of creators and the people that were in trouble.

However there is something that I need to address. This is strictly aimed at those extremists. In this case, the ones that go nuts around actors and other celebrities in the industry.





Working/Living in Chicago I have come across a lot of celebrities and politicians. So much so, when I interviewed for a job for a new flagship store on State Street years ago, the GM flat out asked me how I would react in X or Y celebrity walked in. Considering we were attached to a famous hotel, the 2 years I was there, I lost count how many times we had to close down per orders of Secret Service (yes, THE Secret Service) or block off areas for incoming movie stars/sports teams to avoid a rabid fan attacking someone.

This post was really started after reading this– a tiny bit whiny- a beit heartfelt post about certain fans of the Hiddlestoners fandom. What’s a Hiddlestoner? A fan of Tom Hiddleston. You know him probably best as the guy that played Loki. To be honest, my favorite role he has done hasn’t been Loki (which is just mindblowing), but actually as Prince Hal in The Hollow Crown. But that’s also because I am a Shakespeare fan. Regardless, I was discussing this with my fellow Movie/Comic Geek best friend, Scourge. We started doing comparisons, and he came up with a great analogy that I am totally giving him credit for:

Robert Downey Jr= Elvis Presley

Tom Hiddleston= The Beatles.

Both actors have wholeheartedly embraced their roles as Iron Man and Loki respectively. Downey runs around and sometimes I wonder if he doesn’t think he is Tony Stark.


What’s great (and could also backfire eventually) is that the Marvel Studios office encourages this. It feels as though the West Coast office has been trying to bring the comic fandom ideal over to its movies for awhile. I thought that for quite some time. But 2013 SDCC confirmed it for me.

 I would like to point out that it takes some mighty fine talent to quiet Hall H with the move of one finger. Hiddleston just cracks me up with the above video. Along with some of his tweets. Its obvious that he loves not only playing Loki, but the fans.

Image I am very tired of seeing fans attack celebrities- whether its in the movies or in the comic book world. In this day and age of 24 hour news, it feels as though fans demand, nay, expect to have this instant gratification from their idols. Do I admire and respect Hiddleston and Downey? Yes, because they are damn talented actors. I think it would be absolutely hilarious to have both of them at a dinner party because, I have the impression from interviews they have both done, that they are genuinely nice, funny gentlemen.

That’s the catch folks- what you see in interviews, clips, pinterest, tumblr etc, is just that- an impression.

Think about this: you are going about your day, running some errands, doing a bit of shopping at your favorite store, maybe grabbing coffee and catch up time with a good friend. Then some random person whom you have never seen before nor probably ever will again, walks up to you acting like you are the oldest friends on the planet.  This happens EVERY TIME YOU WALK OUT OF YOUR HOUSE.

After awhile, wouldn’t you get a bit pissed off?

Don’t give me the story that “Oh celebrities know this comes with the job” Bull shit, absolute bullshit.  They know they will have fans, that some of their anonymity goes right out the window, but it does NOT mean, that as a fan you have the right to interrupt them at any given moment.

Scourge worked at a restaurant for awhile back in Ohio. Because of the location of said restaurant, he ran into A LOT of celebrities (I mean, the list is pretty extensive and mindblowing). When X person would walk into the restaurant, he would eventually have to take over the table because the waitress was wigging out to much or have other patrons back off because the celebrity couldn’t even finish their meal.

The most Scourge would ever say to these people that would even address the fact they were celebrities was “Hey I really liked [insert album, game, etc here]. Thanks for that”. Even that sentence was a bit much for him. Scourge told me that usually it was the silent head nod acknowledging their presence and then leaving them be.

Best example of crazy that ticked me off:

When Public Enemies was in town filming, I noticed one night that there were no parking permits put up around my neighborhood. On my way hope I also noticed alot of gear trucks parked along certain streets. The next morning Scourge and I went to go return a DVD . Scourge went in one direction and I doubled back over to Portage Theater where I was pretty damn certain they were filming. I made small talk with the lighting guys unloading a trailer. Outside of talking about gear, they refused to mention anything.

Scourge called me to tell me if I ever was going to hire a security firm, not to hire X company because the guard was a chatty cathy. Turns out Scourge found out that Johnny Depp was inside the theater.

Kick ass.

Meanwhile I called Ellie Sully and told her to make her way over to the theater, because at the least, as a production designer, she had to see the costumes that the extras were wearing. It was hotter than Hades that day and the three of us were sitting on the curb of a side street just watching everything. Ellie Sully was looking at things from an artist perspective, while Scourge and I were dissecting security and operations. Eventually the neighborhood kids figured out what was going on, and someone (not us) told them that Depp was inside. There were these 4 girls, around the age 15 that were absolutely having a melt down that Depp was inside.

We decided to hang on the curb to see if we could catch a glimpse of Depp. Not because its Depp (that was a partial reason) but Ellie Sully wanted to see his costume while Scourge and myself were making a bet on a security procedure of how they were going to get Depp out of the theater and around the mess of one ways in the neighborhood back to his trailer on the other side of six corners.

Sure enough Depp came out and I was right on my guess of how security was doing things. Depp gets in an SUV an as they pull out on the side street, he rolls his window down to wave to everyone. That was nice!

Then the 4 girls in question proceeded to chase the SUV throughout the neighborhood. Meanwhile the three of us decided to get something cold to drink, so we walk to the other side of six corners to a store where the trailer happened to be in the parking lot. I just remember watching the girls faces as they tried to figure out how we were already there, munching on stuff after Depp’s car pulled in. Depp got out and went right to his trailer to get changed. Do I blame him? Nope.

The girls were so disappointed that they were crying. I am not saying the simple crying, but the type of crying that involves huge gasps of air because they are practically hyperventilating. Eye roll.

I can’t speak for musicians but I can say making any sort of film is EXHAUSTING. I don’t care if you are actor, crew, producing- whatever role, it is exhausting. It’s a mind drain. It’s emotionally draining. You wouldn’t think this, but trust me, its true.  Art in general is an artist putting some part of themselves on the world stage for everyone to dissect and analyze.

So in essence, if you see a celebrity outside of an actual appearance they are making at a convention or tv show etc. Be nice and leave them alone. If you can’t help yourself, be polite, don’t take up their time. They are human beings and just think about how you would feel in their shoes.

So to those out their that are all in the “beatlesmania” type knocking on glass windows as a celebrity is trying to eat dinner or asking for an autograph while in the bathroom (I saw this happen once) STOP IT BEFORE YOU RUIN IT FOR THE REST OF US!  

One of the things that has been tying up my time the last few weeks is helping Ellie Sully and her dad.

Some of the best stories that I have seen have come from “artist alley” at comic convention. This is no slight to the big boys like Marvel and DC but there is just something….. different about Indie Comics.

IC comes across as more personal, more raw. It’s much like indie film. Is it all good? No, but when you find a diamond, it becomes one of those things you want to keep to yourself and not share- in a weird demented way.

However, indie art cannot survive without a little help. Alot of people that do indie comics have day jobs elsewhere. Would they love to be doing art 24/7 and still be able to pay the bills? For a majority of us, that’s the goal. We don’t necessarily believe the ideal that I call the “San Diego Sundance Syndrome” (S4 for short).

Years ago, back in the 1990’s the Sundance Film Festival was the place to go for indie filmmakers. There were a lot of distribution deals made over late night parties and dinners. That’s really not the case anymore, but it still doesn’t stop people from trying.

Since Hollywood has made San Diego Comic Con more of a PR junket than anything, all indie comic artists think that “Oh, if I could get my table in Artist Alley at San Diego, I could get picked up by a major publisher or maybe even a movie studio”.

Hence, S4.

To be quite frank, I would like to be able to have my own business, where it is myself, Ellie Sully and others making art. All day long- comics, movies, spoofs, photos- whatever our heart desires at the moment, but at the same time, we all have enough money to cover the rent etc.

In this day and age, indie art is really struggling. People are more fiscally conservative- which is understandable. Guess what? You can still help without spending a dime. Share their work (legally!!!!!) with others that you think would enjoy it.  Direct people to their websites. Maybe, when you have the money, throw $10 down for a t-shirt or a kickstarter fund.

One of my fellow creatives, Danny Boy, has the following in his email tags “Necessity is the mother of invention”. That’s true, even in the creative world.

So with that being said…. please go take a look and subscribe to Helsig Comix . This is a story that Ellie Sully and her dad started as a joke to tease Ellie’s son… and like everything else … it just snowballed. It’s a great little story that they would like to share with the world.

New Episode every Saturday.

@HelsigComix on Twitter to get behind the scenes type of information (and Ellie’s random funny stuff).

If you are on Pintrest, please look for me (MurdocksGirl) and follow my “Geek-Helsig Comic” Board.

Thank you!

So in the last little bit I wrote about this (read it here ) I was talking about Marvel Studios and their batch of films (better known as the MCU).

Since the last posting, and I apologize for the delay (family matters arose), D23 came and went with no real major announcements.  However, over at the Distinguished Competition (DC/ Warner) a huge announcement almost broke the internet in half.


Ok. Here’s the thing, Warner did this. It’s a done deal. The likelihood of WB recasting after this… slim to none. Stop wasting time on petitions. Really folks.

I promise this post does circle back to producing, but take a look at some of the commentary over at about about this news.

Some of my *favorite* comments:


This is why I have a hard time reading comments on stories such as this. Fans don’t know what they are talking about.

Let me explain the chain of command on a production (in regards to Casting). A Director tells the Casting Director (CD) what they are looking for based on the Director’s interpretation of the script. The CD presents a number of possibilities. The Director auditions/screen tests the actors and makes a decision and hires them. In a big Hollywood production such as this, the Producer needs to sign off on it and deal with negotiations with either the actor and/or agent.

So, at this moment Julie, its not WB’s fault. Blame the producer if you want to blame anyone.


There are a number of comments similar to this one, comparing Daredevil to Batman. (Which, from a Geek’s perspective, is easily done).

Sigh, they say you “are only as good as your last picture”. Folks, that’s Argo, not Daredevil, but I will go with the comparison for the moment.

I’ve stated before, I am a huge fan of the Daredevil comic book. (my twitter handle is @murdocksgirl). I have watched the film multiple times for multiple different reasons, both the theatrical cut and directors cut. I could got through and list multiple problems with the film (but that’s another post for another day), I can tell you Affleck wasn’t the problem with that film.

But what does this have to do with Producing? Planning. It really does, and I have to give credit to Warner Brothers for locking down a multi-picture deal with Affleck long before he won the Oscar for Argo.  So now you are a director at Warner Brothers and you want a hot star for a lead iconic role? If I was the Director, I would have been calling the top brass at Warner seconds after Afflecks NOMINATION for Argo going “Give me Affleck”

And I am betting that is what happened.

But this makes sense. WB has announced for awhile now they want to set up their team equivalent to the Avengers, Justice League as a picture. Now I personally think they are going about it the wrong way with this detour to Batman V. Superman, but thats just my two cents. Will Affleck be in the Justice League Movie also? I sure hope so, and based on this casting decision from WB, it feels as though they are making Affleck the RDJ equivalent to the film (the “godfather” for the actors).

It’s actually quite smart and also quite dangerous. From my producing chair, it’s nice to have an actor that can also speak director- they can act as a go-between translator for the rest of the cast.

Then again, they can also try to overrun the film (I am having flashbacks to stories surfacing about Edward Norton being a diva on the Incredible Hulk set)

In my previous post I mentioned that producer’s play therapists, babysitters and Captain’s of starships. What I forgot to mention is that they are a bit futurists. You have to think 12 steps ahead of the game and try to mitigate all possible problems that arise.

Don’t believe me?

Scourge can vouch this statement as he is the one I usually play “If I ruled the world” game with.

I predicted Affleck as Batman 3 years ago. Bale was already on the way out of the franchise and wanted to do other things. My reasoning behind that prediction was a) Daredevil and Batman are similar characters, b) Affleck would jump on it to get rid of the Gigli and Daredevil remarks that are still floating around and c) his “star power” was on the rise.

Another Example. Back in late 2007, I was able to go into a very kick ass site used by professionals thank you to a very awesome professor at the time who had access. I knew about Ant-Man being on the production slate at Marvel back then, along with Captain America, Thor and the Avengers.

Good Producers plan far out ahead.

Great Producers plan out far ahead, and avoid problems at all costs.

The Best Producers do all that, and have 30 backup plans in place if something completely left field throws a wrench into the system.

So one of my dearest friends Scourge (not real name..duh) texted me a link over the weekend.

I was so furious reading the article that I actually slept on it before I dared say anything over here.

Mydearpeabody wrote a very…interesting Op-ed piece which you can read here. Based off an interview with The New Republic and Writer/Producer Mark Millar (Kick-Ass, Wanted) which you can read here.

While I agree with alot of the sentiment and points expressed in Mydearpeabody’s blog post, i don’t want to sit here and re-hash a lot of negativity.

When Scourge saw me later on and asked my two cents about the article I told him this: “I love comics, but it feels like the industry as a whole doesn’t know what to do with us fanchicks. It’s almost like grade school- the boys that like me pull my ponytail and throw stuff at me”.

There have been a number of great female writers and artists over the years, but the industry is still a boy’s club. Yes. yes, I know that the head of the DCU entertainment side is a woman, and you have people like Gail Simone, Ann Nocenti et al who are just brilliant woman in general.

There are problems everywhere in the industry- publishers, Local Comic Book Shops (LCS) and even at conventions.

Back in 2003/2004 I was invited to do a lecture at my college’s Gender Conference (1 of 3 students to do so!) My lecture actually covered the comic book industry and the portrayal of woman in it… and guess what? All the characters I used were created by… men.

So, instead of criticizing more, let us celebrate some great female characters that really need to have their day in the spotlight outside of comic books.

Let me get the most “obvious” character out of the way first. Wonder Woman.

  • Wonder Woman

She’s been around for what seems like forever. Yes I know she had a tv show- yay Lynda Carter- but it was camp (much like the Adam West/Burt Ward Batman TV Show) . Then there was the horribly failed pilot that had stills circulating around the net last fall. Yes, WW became a symbol of Woman Power every where- but why is Warner Brothers/DC Entertainment not using her correctly?

If anyone over at DCU happens to read this: I beg you, on behalf of readers everywhere, please give Diana her due- spend the money on her and give her a feature film with good casting, VFX that is actually believable and cast Lynda Carter as Hippolyta. Wonder Woman is part of the “holy trinity” of DC (with Batman and Superman)- you have spent billions of dollars over the years to make film after film of these two… spend a little on Diana.

Wonder Woman by Alex Ross

I can tell you that doing a Smallville like TV Show with Diana would not do her any justice. This is a character that is legendary… a demi god… tied to both the Greek and Roman Pantheon of Gods.  She isn’t a “Tricky” character Chief Entertainment Ms. Nelson (as you said here in your interview with THR)

Ms. Nelson with all due respect: “She doesn’t have the single, clear, compelling story that everyone knows and recognizes”. Does that matter at this point? The latter half of Gen Y and younger have no clue about the Lynda Carter run.  Warner Brothers *loves* telling (and re-telling) origin stories in their films- you need to start with the Origin story and then go there.

No one knew Thor outside of the random Norse mythology- but look how much that made at the box office!

  • Terry Moore’s “Strangers in Paradise” 

This really needs to be made into a TV show.  The “elevator pitch” (thank you Wikipedia) ” The story primarily concerns the difficult relationship between two women, Helen Francine Peters (known simply as Francine) and Katina Marie (“Katchoo”) Choovanski, and their friend David Qin. Francine considers Katchoo her best friend; Katchoo is in love with Francine. David is in love with Katchoo (a relationship which Katchoo herself is deeply confused about).”

SIP Cast

One of the reasons I loved this book is that a) not only is it a huge female cast but b) it deals with best friends and c) it deals with issues of sexuality in a great manner and d) THEY LOOK LIKE NORMAL WOMAN.

Can’t stress that part enough. I was tired of seeing female characters with huge breasts and itty bitty waists. Barbie dolls on crack.  That’s not a good role model for ANYONE.

Plus the book is very funny and quirky. Go read. Now.

  • David Mack’s “Kabuki”

How does one explain Kabuki? The pitch (again from Wikipedia) “Set in an alternate near-future Japan, the protagonist of the story, a young woman codenamed “Kabuki”, acts as an agent and television law-enforcement personality for a clandestine government body known as “The Noh”.”

That in no way shape or form can actually explain David’s work on this book. Yes, there is that plotline (and learning about Kabuki’s history, lots of awesome violence that actually is needed- not forced/shoehorned into the book) but a majority of the book is very….philosophical.

Those who hear not the music think the dancers mad.– Kabuki: Metamorphosis #4

Your environment reflects your internal disposition. — Kabuki: Metamorphosis #6

I have been a fan of David’s for years- ever since I read “Daredevil: Echo Parts of a hole” (see next bit). Once I got my hands on Kabuki, I almost literally had a brain meltdown.  The art work… this should be hanging in fine art galleries, not a comic book!

Kabuki: Metamorphosis #9

I do apologize if that picture looks a bit large- but I wanted to show the detail in Mack’s work.

  • The woman of “Daredevil” 

As you can tell by my handle name (@murdocksgirl), I am a *huge* Daredevil fan.  One of the many reasons is that Matt Murdock’s social/love life is quite interesting.

Karen Page/Daredevil- “Guardian Devil” Daredevil Vol. 2 art by Joe Quesada

a) Karen Page- Out of all the woman in Matt’s life, she is probably the “weakest”.  She becomes a druggie, sells Matt’s secret Identity for a fix, leaves him (multiple times) however…. when push came to shove, she really stepped in and took one. (Spoiler Alert: She takes a billy club to the heart sent by Bullseye).

b) Echo- Wow oh wow, another reason why I love David Mack.  A deaf girl (half Native American, Half Latina) who loses her family and has the ability to mimic anything she watches. So she loses her dad and since she is mute- was labeled as “special needs” until someone realized that she is really the exact opposite.  Unlike a lot of the woman in Murdock/Daredevil’s life- she is one of the few that doesn’t get killed/go crazy. She left Matt to go “Find herself” on a Vision Quest and eventually works with the Avengers for awhile.

Echo by David MackNative

c) Black Widow- Yes I know she was in Iron Man 2 and in Avengers.  As a diehard “hornhead” I am slightly ticked off that she was introduced into the mainstream media in Iron Man 2 and the fact that she was very weak in the film- I mean she is totally Nick Fury’s lapdog  (which does coincide with the books- a tiny bit), but she was nowhere near as kick butt as I would have liked her to be.  A special Thank You has to go out to Joss Whedon for actually giving her some sort of background in Avengers.                                                             (Now can we please see what in god’s name happened in

Black Widow by Alex Maleev

Budapest with her and Hawkeye??). However she still feels… off then what I know from the comic books.  She first appeared in Tales of Suspense #52 and then made her way over to Daredevil (for a long time on the book it was “Daredevil and Black Widow” instead of “Daredevil: The Man Without Fear”) . Her and Daredevil where partners in more than just one sense of the word. She is the other woman, besides Echo, to not go off the deep end or get killed.

d) Millia Donovan- Created by Brian Michael Bendis- Millia was Matt’s wife (yes he did get married!!). Millia was slightly stronger of a character than Karen Page, but she also was a “civilian”. While Karen understood why Matt wore the costume and did what he did, Millia had a tendency to worry a bit too much. Grant it, she is blind, and nearly suffered the same fate as Karen Page, but unfortunately for Matt Millia can’t emotionally/mentally deal with Matt’s costume life- in part because of the costume and everything that comes with it.

Millia Donovan by Alex Maleev

e) Elektra- saved the most well known one for last. Yes. I know Fox made a movie with her in the lead. I have heard people say over the years that the reason why this movie didn’t perform well at the box office is because that people don’t want to go to a movie with a female superhero in the lead. I call bullshit on that. The reason why this film (and in, my humble opinion, Catwoman also) didn’t do well is because- frankly I don’t know what movie I watched, but it wasn’t Elektra. A chunk of that film is actually part of Daredevil’s origin story.  Don’t believe me? Take a look at the credit list- Frank Miller (who created her back in the day) received credit for comic book characters and Mark Steve Johnson (who wrote and directed the Daredevil film) received credit for motion picture characters…. um. really?

Elektra By David Mack

I am hoping that Fox gets it right (or the rights revert back soon to Marvel). However, Elektra in the comics is a different story all together. My favorite story line is “Scorpio Key” (again- another Brian Michael Bendis story line)- in that books, after dealing with a billion things, she visits her own grave stone. How strong of a character is she if she can go to her own grave and KNOW that her body is six feet under but she is still standing there (thanks to some mythical/ninja stuff)???

Last but certainly not least:

  • Deena in “Powers”

Oh I was lucky one day and didn’t realize that on my commute home from the day job that I actually saw the actress playing Deena in the FX pilot of the show when they were shooting here in Chicago.  FX- let me just say, if you can get that actress back for reshoots, please do. She was EXACTLY how I pictured Deena in real-life!

Keep in mind, I come from a security/police/military family so I am a stickler when it comes to police procedural type of shows/books.

Hands down, Powers is the ONE COP BOOK I love.  The whole premise is that its about Homicide cops investigating the deaths of superheros/villains.  Deena starts off as a lowly rookie cop who purposefully transferred into the “Powers” Division.  If you get rid of the super hero element, by itself it would be a great police-noir book. In part because of Mike Oeming’s artwork.

Deena? Wow.. just wow. Here you have a woman who is totally stuck in the boy’s club of 1st response (because, sad to say, as far as we have come as a society 1st responders/military are still damn boys clubs).  Instead of taking shit from the other guys and say, sucking it up and going home, she dishes it right back.  Deena, unlike other female cops I have seen depicted over the years, doesn’t do anything under handed to get ahead of the boys.  She just does her job and does it damn well.

It also doesn’t hurt that she swears pretty much like me. 🙂  The below image pretty much sums up how awesomely relatable Deena is.

Deena in Powers: Bureau Written by Brian Michael Bendis, Art by Michael Oeming

What about you readers? Any comments/concerns/ideas/suggestions?

Respond below!

A lot of people ask me what a producer does.  To borrow from Captain Picard… Producer’s just “Make it So”.

Side note, one of my favorite professors on the face of the planet- JG- once  made a VERY valid point while helping me on a project that was a bit out of my league. I was complaining to him that I was bored. JG said “As a producer you want to be bored”.

If that’s not the truth. Producing- whether its movies, events, ad campaigns (anything creative really) is part babysitting, therapist, logistics, HR manager, accountant, scheduler, wrangler, caterer, recruiter, contract manager and paperwork nazi.

I will admit, I haven’t had the chance to work on a major production like Avengers but my imagination is running rampant just multiplying to the nth degree based off the short films etc that I have worked on.

You know you have a great production if all you have to worry about is making some coffee- like on the project that JG made his point.

My good friend Ellie Sully (go read her blog here ) Can vouch a lot of the following as she has been my go-to production designer/actress/storyboard artist and makeup person for years now.

Productions are effing nuts.

Producers so don’t get enough credit. They really don’t. Not only do you have to report to whoever is financing your project (unless, you have the money to do it yourself) but you got to make sure of the following in no order):

1. You have a story.

  • Can’t emphasize this enough. There are alot of so called producers out there (I am looking at a majority of youtube) that don’t even have a story. There is no beginning/middle/end let alone something complex like… oh wow.. character development.
  • What’s sad, is that Ellie Sully’s kid- True Story- at the age of like 4 was given a piece of paper and crayons and told by me to go “write a movie” so I could get him out of the way of us setting up some lights to do a pick up shot. He came back with something that looked more like a treasure map. He sat down and showed me a story about how their dog became a zombie, was trying to get away from the scribble he did (the “ball of death”) and that me and his mom had to go to Lake Michigan to get water to wash away the “zombieness” so the dog could play outside. Beginning/middle/end AND character development- AT THE AGE OF 4.

2. Hire Production Heads and make sure they hire good subordinates- not their friends.

  • Here’s where my day job as a recruiter for the last 3/4 years has come in very handy.  It’s better to hire someone that is REALLY good at one or two things but decent at another few.
  • It’s even better if you can hire someone that is REALLY awesome at one thing but certified in something that is the opposite extreme.
  • Why? You never know what’s going to happen and who can step in and fill a role at the last second.
  • Great Example: Ellie Sully- I mean, she is just a creative soul to begin with. However she has such an eclectic background to this day she amazes me. I have seen her (true story) on a project, with a busted ankle, stapling fabric all over the place to create a “black box” room for us to film in. You know what she did when she was done? Sat down, took still photos for us to use for whatever and attempted to help me script supervise (that’s a long story).
  • Another great example- my good friend Danny Boy (not real name) Engineer by day, photographer by night. One of the projects he was shooting photos for, we were building an elaborate rig to fake out a car accident. Guess who pointed out the weak spots in the rig and prevented people from getting hurt?
  • Yes I  said, don’t hire friends. Ellie Sully and I actually worked together as recruiters before film stuff and Danny Boy was a mutual friend/ mall co-worker before he came on to any of my sets. Hire friends? As a producer? You are asking for problems (favoritism, favors from those friends etc)

3. Feed and Water your people.

  • You are required to by labor law and union regs.
  • Here’s where you can win a lot of hearts- HAVE GOOD STUFF. I don’t care if its you and your buds shooting a music video. Pizza Hut and Subway are no-gos. If you can’t pay people in cash, spend the money you do have on good food.
  • Avoid Alcohol of any kind on your set. What people do after they leave your set is up to them, but avoid this at all costs. If you have a scene that requires your actors to drink- use apple juice etc to fake it out. Do not even think of bringing liquor on the set- it will backfire on you.

4. Safety Safety Safety

  • If you are thinking of doing any sort of stunt involving fire, firecrackers, stunt people, animals (trained or not),  YOU MUST have emergency response professionals on standby. This could be the matter of life or death.
  • Make sure that everyone knows where the closet hospital. police department, and fire station are. If you can include it with the daily schedule (esp. if you move locations) with map/phone numbers even better.
  • For smaller productions: If you can afford it or have someone you know that is CERTIFIED for 1st response and CPR, ask a favor for them to hang out on your set- make sure they get the awesome food!
  • Example: I won’t say the name of the school. But a very large film school (not in the midwest) had a “producer” (ugh.. I am cringing typing that) trying to do a project here in Chicago. They came to CCC to get assistance from local students. My go to casting director, Valley Girl (that’s my nickname for her, but its not what you are thinking, she’s a SMART cookie) got looped into helping cast this disaster waiting to happen.  She referred me as the VFX Supervisor. I got a hold of the script and got half way through the first page before I called Valley Girl. There were problems with the story versus casting (see next bit). Not only that, but the “producer” who I will refer to as Suzie (not real name) told me her requirements for sets and other things- an abandoned warehouse, minors playing with firecrackers and also…a duck. Not kidding she needed a bunch of ducks and didn’t want them digital.
  • Valley Girl and I tirelessly and in every shape and form tried telling Suize that she would a) Have to get 1st response standby b) would have to cast non minors (again see next point) c) do digital ducks and d) whatever “abandoned house” she found would have to get cleared by engineer to use so there wouldn’t be a fire/etc. She wouldn’t listen, so as a last resort, since there could have been liability issues with OUR school, we told people “upstairs” what was going on. As far as I know, the film never got made (at least not in Chicago) 
  • Post Note to that story (and there’s a reason why that story was told) A year or so after I graduated, I got an email update from a member of my department trying to remind everyone “safety first”. I read the story attached to the email and found out that Suzie was on another project, out in the middle of nowhereville in like some southern state acting as a line producer. Long story short, someone didn’t do their homework, and a student DIED on the set.

5. Casting

  • The Academy of Arts and Sciences- you know the guys that do the Oscars?- just announced a few days ago that they will be having an extension of casting added. So there will eventually be a Casting Oscar. About Damn time. I was a casting director for one film… ONE… and never again. This position is the most under appreciated position in the industry.
  • As producer you need to follow all labor laws and union regs- and it gets tricky when it comes to casting. So if you have a producer or casting director tell you “no” 99.999% of the time there is a valid reason .
  • Example: one of the problems with Suzie above that we were having was that the story involved a girl that was under the age of 18. Some of the actions (including revealing certain body parts and an innuendo to possible incest) definitely required someone above the age of 18 to play. This is doable- there are alot of actors that are a good decade older than what they look. Why was was Suize upset by Valley Girl refusing to cast a minor? Suize couldn’t wrap her head around the fact that there are some states (Georgia comes to mind) that even though this project was purely artistic, it could get classified as obscene or pornographic material- almost automatically if a minor is involved. Since every state is different with their obscenity statues and defines minors differently, you could see why Valley Girl was adamant about casting.

Stay tuned for part 2!