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2 YEARS

Fandom 5: 'Hobbit,' 'Dark Knight,' Gay Batman and Marvel's Race Relations

Peter Jackson responds to his critics, the villainous Bane speaks clearly.

The Hobbit Martin Freeman Bilbo Baggins Still - H 2012
Warner Bros.

It’s been one heck of a week in the world of Fandom. Let’s review the highlights…

1) 48 Frames of Disappointment

The Hobbit was one of the big presentations at CinemaCon, the annual exhibitors and theater owners confab in Las Vegas. Warner Bros. showed off 10 minutes of Peter Jackson's An Unexpected Journey, the first of his two upcoming Hobbit movies. The footage shown was in a new format where the images are rolled out at 48 frames a second instead of the normal 24 frames.

'The reaction was decidedly mixed, with people saying it looked “weird,” “like an old soap opera” or a “1970s BBC show.” IGN’s headline blared “The Hobbit…Didn’t Look So Good.” There were some that liked it, and Jackson later got on the phone with THR to respond to the critics and explain his strategy. “It wasn’t particularly surprising because it is something new," Jackson, calling from New Zealand, told THR's Carolyn Giardina.

The footage hadn't gone through a post-production process that will give it a more traditionally cinematic look, Jackson said. “A lot of the critical response I was reading was people saying it’s different. Well, yes, it certainly is. But I think, ultimately, it is different in a positive way, especially for 3D, especially for epic films and films that are trying to immerse the viewer in the experience of a story.”

2) The Sound of My Voice

Almost every single person who saw the Dark Knight Rises footage at CinemaCon raved about it like it was the Second Coming or something.

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Many also noted that the voice of Bane, which had been an issue when director Christopher Nolan first showed off some Rises footage in December, had been cleared up and is now quite comprehensible. 

CinemaBlend's Eric Eisenberg wrote "I have some terrific news: I understood every word that Bane said." 

3) Holy Gayness, Batman!

Superstar comic book writer Grant Morrison sure caused a ruckus with his Playboy interview, during which he share his thoughts on his works and, more interestingly, on certain superheroes.

The man who has redefined Batman and is about to launch the new Batman Incorporated comic series, said, "Gayness is built into Batman." 

He then went on: "Batman is very, very gay. There's just no denying it. Obviously as a fictional character he's intended to be heterosexual, but the basis of the whole concept is utterly gay. I think that's why people like it. All these women fancy him and they all wear fetish clothes and jump around rooftops to get him. He doesn't care -- he's more interested in hanging out with the old guy and the kid."

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If so, what does that say about the Batman comics readers?

4) Black is the New White. Or Is Black the New Black?

A few years ago, Marvel introduced it’s Ultimates line of comics, which has proved at times more popular than the quote-unquote real Marvel Universe. The concepts introduced there have influenced not only the Marvel Universe but Marvel cartoons and most importantly, the Marvel Studios movies.

Case in point: Nick Fury.

Fury was a white World War II soldier in the early days and then became an eye-patch-wearing secret agent in the 1960s, a role he’s basically kept…until now. Meanwhile, in the Ultimates version, he was black. And looked like Samuel L. Jackson.

The black version of Fury was introduced into the Marvel movies, but for the last decade or so, both white and black Furys existed in their separate comics lines.

But with The Avengers movie on the verge of opening, the Boys Upstairs at Marvel have taken a black soldier named Marcus Johnson and, using reasons too complicated to go into here, made him switch to being called Nick Fury. Eye patch and all.

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Whether the change was necessary is up for debate, but it sure as heck was clunky.

“Any time it seems like what we're doing is following the lead of other divisions, our fans just have a hard time accepting it. They don't like it,” admitted editor Tom Brevoort to Newsarama.

5) Digging a Fresh Graveyard

There was lots of news about new movie projects this week, but the most exciting was the possibility of a reteaming of Henry Selick and Neil Gaiman.

Selick adapted Gaiman's book Coraline into a terrific stop-motion animated feature in 2009 and is now attached to direct an adaptation of Gaiman’s Graveyard Book. Disney picked up the film rights to the book on Friday.

Of course, with Selick already working on a project, and the tremendous lead time for these movies, we can only hope we see this one before 2020.