Monday, December 17, 2007

Wizard Hollywood Hall of Fame

Have I ever mentioned that I really dig reading Wizard's "Best Of" features? Whether it's "Five for Friday" or "Top 100" or anything of the sort, I just enjoy the discussion it generates based on their opinions!

Wizard Universe inducts the people that have shaped our favourite movies, tv shows and pop culture in general!

Welcome the initial inductees into the Wizard Hollywood Hall of Fame, honoring the people who have shaped your favorite TV shows, movies and the world

By Rickey Purdin and the Wizard Staff

Posted December 14, 2007 5:00 PM

Forget Hollywood’s overcrowded Walk of Fame. We’re honoring the select group of men and women who truly bring fanboy dreams to life!

From visionary directors to iconic female actresses to actors who’ve crafted some of the most beloved characters in the world, Wizard is proud to cut the ribbon on our own Hall of Fame and spotlight the best and the brightest behind Hollywood’s biggest genre productions of the last 30 years. These are the icons who speak to every fan of comic books, action films, science fiction and beyond. Without them, the world wouldn’t be the same.

Acting as the first honorees, these revolutionary talents mark only the start of an annual induction class, so expect to see even more tried and true luminaries earn a spot in these hallowed halls of the pop culture elite.

For now, though, bask in the glory of the class of 2007!

HUGH JACKMAN: Jackman transformed the concept of Wolverine from an angry, hairball of rage into a handsome, calculating badass and added “cool guy” cred throughout the “X-Men” film trilogy. The Tony Award winner (he can sing and dance!) shines in “X2” when he single-handedly protects the students of Xavier’s School from a military raid, relying solely on his peak physical fitness and intense performance to convey Wolverine’s animal ferocity.

CHRISTOPHER REEVE: When naysayers complained about this relative unknown actor portraying the Man of Steel, he drop-kicked their concerns into deep space by playing the hero as a humble, believable guardian of justice in four “Superman” films. Though he bulked up for the role, Reeve’s real strength was the flexibility he demonstrated in convincingly portraying both a bumbling nerd and the greatest hero on Earth.

HARRISON FORD: Whether he’s the gun-slinging, street-smart space smuggler named Han Solo or the scholarly, whip-wielding adventurer named Indiana Jones, this Oscar nominee conveyed a distinct sense of everyman relatability, down-on-his-luck integrity and just plain manly backbone to his roles. And he looked pretty cool in a floppy hat.

SIGOURNEY WEAVER: Weaver kicked creepy monster ass as Ellen Ripley in the “Alien” franchise with a rock-hard body capable of sporting everything from a ripped T-shirt to mechanized armor to nothing but space-panties. She also demolished the preconceived notion that genre movie heroes needed to be male and paved the way for future onscreen heroines by commanding blockbuster strength, sexuality and smarts.

LYNDA CARTER: Don’t let the bathing suit bottom, knee-high boots and clingy corset fool you—Carter’s sassy, sexy role as comicdom’s highest-profile heroine in the “Wonder Woman” TV show beamed with a special power and strength. She not only embodied the feminist movement of the ’70s but also became the enduring image of a comic character who’s been around for more than 60 years.

SARAH MICHELLE GELLAR: Packed with spunk and an everygirl—yet sexy—look, Gellar made genre TV fun for men and women with the hit “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” She altered the TV landscape by proving female leads could carry a supernatural series. Though petite in physical stature at 5 feet, 3 inches, she dominated the screen whether she was stabbing monsters in the face or bumping uglies with creatures of the night.

GEORGE LUCAS: Lucas birthed an entire science fiction empire by directing, writing and producing 1977’s “Star Wars” and unleashing an unquantifiable flurry of space-based fandom on the world. Eyeballing a revolution in special effects, he later set up Lucasfilm, his production studio, which led to the development of Industrial Light and Magic, a pioneer in cutting-edge SFX technology, and Pixar, the leading digital animation company.

STEVEN SPIELBERG: A three-time Oscar winner, Spielberg doesn’t just direct, write and produce feel-good, epic movies, he adds a definitive sense of charm, quality and wonder to all his projects. From the thriller “Jaws,” to the Indiana Jones franchise to the all-ages classic “ET”—and don’t forget he was a producer on last year’s “Transformers”—his ability to create event movies that resonate with audiences stands unrivaled.

SAM RAIMI: With his trademark black suit he sports while directing in honor of Alfred Hitchcock, Raimi parlayed a career of quirky cult films like the “Evil Dead” franchise into a blockbuster legacy on the “Spider-Man” trilogy. Raimi’s indie mentality led to signature techniques like the frenetic “Evil Dead” cam while fans have learned to expect cameos in his films ranging from his own 1973 Oldsmobile to frequent collaborator and childhood friend Bruce Campbell.

RICHARD DONNER: His 1978 film “Superman” transformed unknown Christopher Reeve into the most recognizable hero in the world and developed a practical, action-packed approach to superhero films that endures today. A directing Renaissance man, Donner deftly dances between everything from adolescent adventure (“The Goonies”) to heart-stopping horror (“The Omen”) while remaining undeniably influential in whatever he does.

TIM BURTON: Re-ignited the superhero movie genre with 1989’s “Batman” by pumping the Dark Knight full of moody angst and a playfully glum atmosphere. He overhauled the campy perception of Batman and shot down criticism over casting Michael Keaton as Batman by crafting the lead into a believable vigilante of the night. Burton’s ventured into the creepy crawly side of lighthearted imagination with films like “The Nightmare Before Christmas” and “Beetlejuice.”

BRYAN SINGER: Broke the ice on team superhero films by directing the first two “X-Men” movies and kept the focus on characters and their individual motivations while making sure the effects-heavy plots stayed layered and grounded in an air of reality. He remains one of the only directors to leap comic franchises when he traded in his X-Men suit for red underwear by helming 2006’s subdued reboot “Superman Returns.”

DARTH VADER: From his first moment onscreen in “Star Wars,” Darth Vader’s midnight-black outfit, complete with nightmarish mask, commanded fear and attention. You don’t even need the vocal cords of James Earl Jones to make this character the most intimidating in film history. He could talk like a schoolgirl with a lisp and you’d still wet yourself if you ran into him at the supermarket.

ROBOCOP: Part man, part machine and eye-poppingly original, this cyborg outfit still stands as one of the most mind-boggling designs in film. Whether he was walking, talking or drawing a gun from the hidden holster in his leg, Robocop’s every movement seemed impossibly realistic. It’s that stunning quality that led to two sequels, several TV spinoffs and a flurry of video games and comic books.

MYSTIQUE: Do the math: Rebecca Romijn plus blue body paint minus any pants equals moviegoers scraping theater floors with their jaws. You have to be brave to show your body in a film, but to show it all while you flip, roll and tumble around like a gymnast is a whole new level of valiant and for that, we salute you, ex-Mrs. Stamos!

CATWOMAN: Michelle Pfeiffer’s vacuum-sealed, leather cat costume became so popular on the set of “Batman Returns,” she needed an escort to spurn unwanted gawkers. Mix in an S&M-like whip and you can see why movie posters featuring the character began to disappear nationwide, prompting police intervention. Although it deviated from the comic book original, fanboys didn’t voice any complaints. Go figure.

HELLBOY: No other comic book character’s design has so successfully leapt from the comic page like this 6-and-a-half-foot demon. Horned and armed with the red right hand of hell, H-Boy’s threads consist of a boss barrel chest and a massive, magic pistol capable of taking down just about any macabre baddie. Comic movies can’t get much cooler (or scorching?) than this.

DARTH MAUL: Looking like his neck burped up hell and swimming in enough tattoos to drown a biker bar, Darth Maul spin-kicked his way into the “Star Wars” mythos with a double-sided lightsaber, rotted teeth and vibrant red skin. Toss in 10 horns growing from beneath his scalp and eyes the color of demon pee and you’ll find yourself cheering for this terrifying Lord of the Sith!

First it was superhero action figures. Then came comic book cartoons. Eventually, though, Avi Arad turned his attention toward movies and shook the cinema landscape to its core.

An Israeli immigrant, (he later earned his U.S. citizenship in 2003), Arad joined toy manufacturer Toy Biz in the late ’80s where an eventual business partnership developed between the action figure company and Marvel Comics. Arad went on to executive produce the “X-Men” animated show for Fox, enrolling a generation of impressionable children into Marvel’s school of mutant outcasts and paving the road for numerous Marvel animated projects over the next decade.

When Marvel Entertainment declared bankruptcy in 1996, it was Arad and fellow Toy Biz business partner Isaac Perlmutter who picked up the company’s pieces after a lengthy court battle. Eventually, that salvation led to Marvel regaining the film rights to several previously sold Marvel characters, including Spider-Man. Arad soon earned the role of chairman and CEO of Marvel Studios in 1998 and went on to produce “Blade,” the first commercially successful film based on a Marvel property.

“Avi just gets it,” gushed David Goyer, the writer behind all three “Blade” films (which collectively earned over $414 million worldwide) and director of “Blade: Trinity.” “I pitched ‘Blade’ as a trilogy and he never backed away. He knows the essence of every character. He’s not above tweaking origins, powers or stories, but he wants the theme of each character to remain true to the spirit it was created in.”

After “Blade” sunk its teeth into the wallets of the movie-going public, even more properties began flowing from the studio including a big-screen adaptation of the X-Men, the very same group Arad found success producing years before as a cartoon. Another ghost from the past turned out to be a goldmine when Arad wrangled back film rights to what became a global phenomenon—2002’s “Spider-Man.”

Since then, Marvel Studios has dominated the box office charts annually with a mixture of multimillion-dollar franchises and modestly earning hits. In an industry where “blockbuster” was never used in the same sentence as “comic book film,” Arad produced an anticipation and awareness of Marvel projects by recruiting top-name talent to his projects and focusing his films on storytelling, the element, which helped Marvel endure as a comic book juggernaut for over 60 years. Now no summer blockbuster season is complete without a Marvel superhero film at the forefront.

“When you talk to him, it’s like talking with any other comic fan,” said actor Ben Affleck, who starred in 2003’s “Daredevil.” And even though Arad departed Marvel Studios in 2006 to form his own production company, he’s still got his executive producing fingers deeply rooted in upcoming Marvel feature films such as “Iron Man” and “The Incredible Hulk.”

“Avi’s the beginning and end of everything we’ve been able to accomplish in Marvel movies,” said current Marvel Studios President of Production, and Arad’s former right-hand man, Kevin Feige. Not bad for a guy who got his start playing with toys.

No comments: