(Every week, Screen Junkies does a podcast called Movie Fights, where three panelists debate various pop culture questions. Despite not being in front of a judge, I’m using this column to answer those questions myself, because I can. Some of my answers may match up with those of the contestants, because I answer the questions before I watch the show so I’m not swayed. For this same reason, I do not tackle speed round questions.)
First, of course, here’s the actual show:
And here are my answers:
1. Which MCU character should be in a Spider-Man movie?
Answer: Claire Wise (Lizzy Caplan)
Appearing only once, in Item 47 (a short included on the Avengers DVD), Claire Wise is the world’s nicest criminal turned S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. After politely taking piles of money from four banks using alien weaponry she and her partner scavenged after the battle in New York, she’s taken down by Agent Sitwell. Immediately thereafter, she becomes the protege of Agent Blake.
There are two reasons Claire should appear in Spider-Man. The first, and most important, is that she’s a relative nobody as far as the audience is concerned. This film is Marvel’s shot at putting Spidey on the big screen, and showing what they can do with the character. The story doesn’t need to be muddled with guest stars. If they need a connection to the greater MCU, why not go with a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent familiar with New York that could act as a liaison. By the time the movie comes out, she’ll have survived the Hydra debacle and whatever happens in Civil War, so she should be experienced enough.
Secondly, it’s Lizzy friggin Caplan. Everything is better with more Lizzy Caplan. It’s criminal that her role in the MCU is a mere few minutes, but at least we’ve been graced with that. Give us more, or we riot!
Seriously, everyone keeps talking about how good Masters of Sex is, but the stark truth remains that if you haven’t seen Party Down yet, you’re doing it wrong.
2. Who should play Green Lantern?
Answer: Nathan Fillion (Hal Jordan); Common (John Stewart)
Rumor has it that DC/Warner is looking to fill two Green Lantern slots in the upcoming film: Hal Jordan and John Stewart. I’m good with that. There haven’t been too many superhero duos in the cinema, and that could be just what a Green Lantern reboot needs to clean the bad taste out of audience mouths.
For Hal Jordan, my vote goes to Nathan Fillion. We’re used to seeing Fillion in genre roles thanks to Firefly and Dr. Horrible, and the dialogue will be natural for him since he’s already voiced Hal Jordan in the Justice League cartoon. Plus, Fillion has the chops to play the “beloved jerk” role, so he can carry the charisma stick until it’s time for John Stewart to be dour and menacing.
Speaking of John Stewart, Common was already cast in the role many moons ago, and his resume has only grown more impressive in the interim. Plus, he’s still interested in the role. This one’s a lay-up, really – he knows the role, he’s done his homework, and he’s excited about the idea of the project.
3. What’s the best movie recasting ever?
Answer: Eric Stoltz/Michael J. Fox (Marty McFly)
In 1985, one of the most endearing science fiction films of the decade arrived in theaters like a lightning bolt striking a clock tower, and with it, Michael J. Fox became a legitimate star of both small and silver screens. Back To The Future is a nearly universal beloved film thanks in no small part to the affable charm of its leading man, but it wasn’t originally meant to be.
The original Marty McFly was another young up-and-comer named Eric Stoltz, who had done plenty of work but hadn’t shouldered anything major yet (Mask hadn’t been released yet). They filmed for five weeks, and although Robert Zemeckis has only good things to say about Stoltz’s work, everyone seemed to know it wasn’t working out. As soon as they were able to negotiate a contract that would let Fox do both the film and Family Ties, they cut him loose and started over.
This is a case where I think everything worked out the best for everyone involved. Stoltz may have been let down at first, but he’s went on to make some fantastic, albeit smaller, movies. Personally, I count Some Kind of Wonderful, Say Anything, Killing Zoe, and Kicking and Screaming among my favorite films of their respective kinds, and it’s not likely he would have found those projects in the same way if he had been busy working on Back To The Future sequels and such. He seems to agree, at least according to this Movie Hole interview.
4. Best James Horner film score?
James Horner was a worker. His legacy includes dozens of films, many of which are classics. He’s been nominated for 10 Oscars, won 2, and the Titanic soundtrack is one of the best-selling CDs of all time. Fans often point to his work on projects like Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan or Aliens to show how much tension he can create, or Braveheart and Field of Dreams to point out all the feels.
His best work, though, has become largely overlooked thanks to being packaged with a film that’s all too often just as overlooked. Glory is the story of the first black Civil War brigade. Led by a white general, it came out in 1989, was critically acclaimed, and the cast included such stalwarts as Denzel Washington, Morgan Freeman, Andre Braugher and Carey Elwes. However, it’s a very niche story, and movie audiences didn’t give it the attention it deserved.
Horner’s score is impressive in the movie. Not only does he create the tension and feels he’s known for in his other work, but he does it with the inclusion of period instruments and styles. He not only locks the audience into the drama, he helps them feel like they’re there.
5. Worst movie of the 1990s?
Answer: Troll 2
This may be the most controversial argument made. After all, how can a movie with a massive cult following really be considered worse than franchise destroyers, Shaquille O’Neal the rapping genie, or Travolta in a cosmic rasta wig? There’s even an award-winning documentary about Troll 2 – Best Worst Movie.
If you haven’t seen Troll 2 or the documentary, watch the trailer before we continue.
Now, understand this: the trailer for the documentary about the movie is better than the movie. This movie is not so bad it’s good; it’s so bad that it’s awe-inspiring. The people that celebrate the movie do not do so because of any buried greatness; they do so because it is so objectively bad that there’s a euphoric consensus. No matter what we, as a society, disagree on – politics, religion, sports, comics publisher – we can all share in our universal amazement at this film.
All bad movies have cult followings. No matter who the other people pick, I can find at least some people that will defend it. Batman and Robin, the film that RiffTrax declared worst of the decade (and Empire Magazine ranked worst of all time), still generated a few positive reviews.
Troll 2 is objectively bad, and it’s bad in the most train wreck of ways. The acting is bad. The script is bad. The title is bad (there are no trolls in the movie). The effects are bad. The everything is bad.
Yes, people want to see it more than many others. People would rather see a train wreck than a car wreck. That’s because when people want to watch something bad, they want to watch the worst possible bad they can find. Troll 2 is that bad.
6. Best R rated comedy of all time?
Answer: National Lampoon’s Animal House
One of the most formative comedy influences of the 70s and early 80s was a small comedy magazine spun off of the Harvard University’s Harvard Lampoon. The National Lampoon grew in popularity so much during the 70s that by the end of the decade, they decided to finance a film. That film was National Lampoon’s Animal House, and it ended up being a verifiable blockbuster. Adjusted for inflation, it still stands as one of the highest-grossing R-rated films of all time – in any category.
Animal house changed how comedies were made, and how they were marketed. What followed was a boom of youth-centered fare. John Hughes tried working with National Lampoon early in his career. National Lampoon produced Vacation, this time perfecting the road trip comedy. A whole world was opening up, and comedy was a little less safe for it.
To everyone’s benefit.