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Monday June 21, 2010 10:42 pm

Jonah Hex And The Lost Weekend

Jonah HexWell, I reckon it was bound t’happen, pardners. Jonah Hex has opened to just a $5 million weekend, meaning that it’s officially been labeled a bomb. Too bad. Jonah was – and is – an iconic comic book property, the creation of John Albano and Tony DeZuniga. Maybe the filmmakers should’ve gone with a more traditional western approach like The Outlaw Josey Wales or 3:10 From Yuma instead of the steampunkian world of The Wild Wild West movie? Who’s to say what would’ve worked, but the new one sure doesn’t.

The problem now is that because Jonah Hex is based on a comic book (not a graphic novel as some lazy reporters simply retype) – but one that none of the general public has heard of before – it’ll get tagged as a comic book movie, and worse, a failed comic book movie. And finger wagging along the lines of “is the comic book movie fad finally over” will start appearing as breathless know-it-all headlines in newspapers no one reads anymore.

Read More | Deadline Hollywood Daily

Yes, Jonah Hex is a comic book movie, but only because it’s based on a (really good) comic book series. The majority of the movie-going public has no idea that a comic book preceeded it. And for most of the movie-going public that isn’t comic book fans, a comic book movie is capes and boots.

Warner Bros. seems to have an entirely different approach to their DC movies – picking properties that can stand alone that don’t necessarily depend on capes and boots. Some of them don’t succeed financially (like The Losers and now Jonah Hex) but that seems to be their plan while they wait for the next Batman and Superman movies to get off the ground. Witness Diane Nelson’s statements about exploiting Vertigo – “using the library to its fullest” - when she took over at DC. If there’s a project that someone thinks’ll make a good return on their investment, they’ll do it, even if it doesn’t have a Batmobile or Lois Lane in it.

Marvel, meanwhile, appears to be trying the unthinkable: picking movie projects that all tie in together and try to build a movie universe that captures the excitement of the Lee-Kirby-Ditko years of early Marvel. To do that, they sprinkle around Nick Fury, drop in Black Widow, and build toward a big Avengers movie. You don’t see Marvel following up Iron Man, Spider-Man and X-Men with, say, Killraven or Wood God. Nope, you see a Spider-Man franchise reboot and a young X-Men movie, X-Men First Class.

What this really means is that DC and its parent company now have a lot riding on Green Lantern (which is a traditional comic book movie). If that one fails, then you can kiss your Atom and Hawkman movies bye-bye and DC will just be Superman and Batman for your DCU blockbusters.

But the failure of Jonah Hex is good news for one demographic: the hot, young actress group. The slot in future movies that would’ve been filled by Megan Fox is about to open up again. With the lack of box office of her two high-profile vehicles, Jennifer’s Body and now Jonah Hex, and her getting kicked off the Transformers franchise for comparing her director to Hitler, you gotta think that people will want to go with a different body, I mean actress, for future Fox-type roles.

If you want to see some real Jonah Hex, you can read the ongoing series that DC still publishes; if you want the classic Jonah, Diversions of the Groovy Kind has a nice sampling.

Ricky Sprague over at Project Child Murdering Robot (yes, you read that correctly) will tell you everything that’s wrong with the film.

Pretty Scary’s Tristan Sinns also has a few choice words about the Hex movie. Several of them are “retarded Frankenstein in a 10-gallon hat.”

Rod Lott at Bookgasm is both a comics fan and reviewer and he too had his say on Jonah Hex: “The worst part about Jonah Hex is how negatively it will reflect upon the often-great source material.” I reckon so.

[Artwork: cover to Jonah Hex, © DC Entertainment]

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