5 Comic Characters That Need to Be CGI - Mania.com

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5 Comic Characters That Need to Be CGI

Marvel and DC Characters Animated for Your Big Screen Pleasure

By Chad Derdowksi     September 30, 2009


Around the Mania office, the names Stan Winston and Ray Harryhausen are spoken in hushed whispers and reverent tones. But as much as we love their work in stop motion, makeup and practical effects, no one wants to see Batman or Spider-Man take on a stop-motion monster in 2009 and there are some tricks that foam rubber just can’t touch. These days, computer generated imagery is more often used to make the unreal real and oftentimes it looks a whole lot better. With that in mind, here is a short list of comic book characters we’d like to see created through the magic of computers.

5. The Lizard

After being teased through three movies, we want to see Dr. Curt Connors’ cold blooded alter ego grace the silver screen in the next installment of Spider-Man. Steve Ditko might’ve drawn the Lizard looking like a dude in a rubber suit, but we prefer the hunched over, snarling depiction of modern artists, and a guy in a suit just isn’t gonna cut the mustard. This is Spider-Man 4 we’re talking about, not Godzilla, and the last thing we want to see is a rehash of those lizard men Flash Gordon encountered while imprisoned on Mongo.
Let’s face it, there’s only one way to do a six-foot-tall reptile in a lab coat justice, and that’s fully rendered CGI. Lizard men are one thing, but a lab coat? There’s no way practical effects can make that look realistic!


4. Gorilla Grodd

What are you gonna do, cast a real gorilla? Let’s face it, there aren’t a whole lot of them who can talk, let alone act with any degree of believability. For some reason, acting is generally frowned upon by the majority of jungle-dwelling beasts and the few that have made it big prefer to work in smaller productions. You’re more likely to see an acting ape in an off-Broadway production of King Lear than in a big budget summer blockbuster.
But if we ever see a Flash movie or if the JLA ever assembles on the big screen, they’re going to need a villain. Who better to fill that role than a gigantic ape with a genius level intellect?


Say what you will about Loki, Dr. Doom, the Red Skull or Kang–there’s only one villain worthy of taking on the Avengers when their movie finally hits theaters in 2012 and that is the Mobile Organism Designed Only for Killing! 
One of Stan & Jack’s finest (and by “finest” we mean most ridiculous) creations, MODOK is pretty much just a really enormous head that requires a hover chair in order to move around. Who’s got a head that big? Kanye West, maybe, but he’s probably too busy and rumor has it he’ll be playing Ego, the Living Planet in the Nova film–so unless Quentin Tarantino would be willing to step in front of the cameras again, CGI is the only route for this guy.

2. The Thing

Michael Chiklis’ performance as Ben Grimm and his granite-skinned alter ego the Thing was one of the few saving graces in the lackluster Fantastic Four films. The costume he picked up at the local Halloween USA store and wore throughout both movies, on the other hand, was not. The suit looked like garbage and didn’t exactly allow for a lot of movement. For God’s sake, he couldn’t even move his pinky fingers! We wanna see the Thing running around throwing cars and smashing bad guys, not slowly plodding like a giant Muppet made of Corn Pops.
Twentieth Century Fox has already announced that a Fantastic Four reboot is in the works. Let’s hope that this time they take a cue from the Incredible Hulk and go the CGI-route with Aunt Petunia’s favorite nephew. Hey, the Abomination might’ve looked like he was composed of dung, but technically speaking, he looked pretty damn good and that fight scene with the Hulk was awesome. The Thing just looked like crap. Let’s see some computer magic in the reboot, huh?


1. Swamp Thing

Len Wein turned in a script way back in 2003 and as recently as August, producer Joel Silver expressed a desire to see the film made in 3D. All we know is that there are few properties more deserving of a big budget revamping than Swamp Thing.
Wes Craven’s 1982 take on the muck-encrusted mockery of man will forever hold a special place in our hearts (possibly more for Adrienne Barbeau’s assets than for the film’s actual quality) but ol’ Swampy looks like he’s made of paper mache. The 1989 sequel and subsequent television series stepped it up a notch or two and Swamp Thing actually looked kinda sweet. He still looked like foam rubber and latex, but as long as he stood behind a fern and the lighting was just right, it was a pretty cool effect.
But we don’t want a Swamp Thing who glares at you menacingly from behind the bushes like some sort of slimy peeping Tom. We want a monster that can regrow its limbs, alter his size and control plant life. We wanna see Alan Moore-influenced stories with psychedelic freakouts and transcendental mind trips brought on by potatoes grown on the protagonist’s back. We want a plant elemental who communes with the Green and uses decomposing birds as nutrients. 
In short, we don’t want to see a paper mache Swamp Thing ever again.
And that’s that. Five comic book characters that deserve more than foam rubber, latex or stop motion. It’s 2009 and as they say on the Six Million Dollar Man: “We have the technology.”



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Alphanumeric 9/30/2009 12:32:08 AM

With the lizard, I hope that Raimi goes into full on horror mode, he touched on that a little with the doc ock operating room scenario, but he could do much more. The question is will the studio let him? I personally love to see his scare the living crap outta a bunch of ten year olds. It would become a cherished memory for them years on down the road.

Grodd, M.O.D.O.K. and the Swamp Thing aren't going to see the light of day any time soon, and the Thing I belive was done for budgetary reasons.

Now for a quick counter argument. CG is fine in some instances, but I prefer a model or prosthetic that is ENHANCED by CGI that full blown GCI. I like Jon Favreau's use of mostly physical models and only using CGI sparingly when a model can't do whats needed to be on screen. Nothing takes you out of a movie quicker than a badly done CGI scene. and to me the Hulk/Abomination fight bordered on that a few times. mostly when their movements were too fluid or quick. I also think they could have done a few more rendering passes.

To me the best model work done recently that I can remember is from the Lord of the Rings and Batman Begins. you couldn't tell that alot of that were models shots except for the fact that those towers didn't exist and I'm sure Chicago would have said something if Christopher Nolan had wanted to crash a Transit car through an existing parking garage!

MrJawbreakingEquilibrium 9/30/2009 3:35:37 AM

If they make a Maxx movie, you know the  guy from The Maxx television show - he needs to be CGI, too.  Battery about to die but I'd get more into it.

ChadDerdowski 9/30/2009 5:07:08 AM

Alphanumeric - we're on the same page.  CGI has been a wonderful enhancement to film, but like anything, it works best when used in moderation.  Lord of the Rings and Iron Man are perfect examples of this.  For characters like Hulk I prefer the all-CGI route because I just don't see any other way of doing it (and for the most part I thought he looked pretty good); but Abomination could have been done as a mix.  Either way, I agree - a few more rendering passes on that film might've helped.

MrJawbreakingEquilibrium - get that battery charged up and get more into it!  I think Maxx is another good example of a character that could be a mix of prosthetic/guy in a suit/CGI but I'd like to hear your thoughts.

TKay42one 9/30/2009 5:33:52 AM

And here my dreams of seeing Minnie Driver and that huge head of hers playing Modok are dashed...oh well.


thecheckeredman 9/30/2009 6:22:48 AM

Both practical make-up efffects and CGI can equally blow if done poorly.

I guess I have to throw my hat into the "I don't like full-rendered, fully CGI main characters" ring.

Outside of PIXAR or some of DEAMWORK's pictures when have we had a fully realized CGI character we give a crap about?  Can anyone name one?  Usually the acting in these HULKs (yes I'm pointing your way) is sooooooooooooooooooooooooo bad it's embarressing to be a comic fan with such awful films out there.

So okay, AVATAR, looks awful.  Unbelievably frick'n awful.  Egad!

What I'd like to see is the CGI and practical FX worlds begins to meld and share their ideas and maybe create something new using the best of both worlds.


Matador 9/30/2009 6:32:53 AM

The Lizard - I could see that one done with both CGI and a suit or protthetics.

Grodd - same way as the lizard. (look at Hellboy 2 when fighting that Troll thing didn'nt look too bad)

MODOK - I'm sorry no matter what you do with him he'll still look out of place. How am I supposed to be afraid of a floating head. Check out Megas XLR when Bruce Campbell played that roll as a giant floating Modock look alike.

The Thing - Yeah difinite CGI just for the fact I would like to see him fight the Hulk.

Swampthing - Could go either or. There's even a movie of a CGI swamp monster called Man-Thing last time I heard it was garbage so no I haven't seen it but I am curious.

DarthDuck 9/30/2009 7:03:48 AM

Touchy subject for me.  While I enjoyed the Hulk/Abomination throw down as much as the next guy I hate the over-use of CGI.  I miss the old days where filmmakers had to be creative and come up with something original or even groundbreaking.  I still love watching the original Star Wars and ust amazed they were able to pull that stuff off.  (Yes, I bought the original releases and I'm sure Lucas will get me to bend over and open my wallet again when the BluRay comes out...)

And I'm so excited that DelToro is directing The Hobbit.  Yes, there will be CGI but you know so much of it will be puppets and the creatures will be tangible.  The 'real' dinosaurs in Jurassic Park still hold up.  And the effects of TDK, how many filmmakers would've actually flipped the semi-truck?  Or would they have just CGI'd it?

But audiences are hugely awful and impatient when it come to special effects and I don't know that they'd put up with anything that wasn't CGI.  Nothing is ever good enough.  The first time around for Hulk everyone said he looked ridiculous.  Maybe, but would you rather have Mr. Ferrigno back in the body paint?  Me neither.

So as much as it pains me to say it I largely agree with your list.  And CGI or not, if the Lizard isn't in Spidey 4 there will be hell to pay.

ChadDerdowski 9/30/2009 7:08:24 AM

Matador, listen to me.  We may disagree on MODOK and maybe a few other things as well, but I speak to you now not as a geek, not as a know-it-all fanboy or anything of the sort.  I come to you as a friend...

If you value your sanity, stay as FAR AWAY from the Man-Thing film as possible.  This film is so bad it actually makes Silent Hill look like Citizen Kane.  It makes Keanu Reeves look like Lawrence Olivier.  It may very well be the worst thing ever filmed.  It actually makes Syfy movies such as Mansquito or Manigator seem like works of art! Stay away!  Staaaayyy Awaaaaayyyy!!!!

KillerTomato 9/30/2009 7:25:55 AM

For the most part I can agree with several of the characters on this list.  Though certains characters like the Lizard could easily be done with the CGI/Prosthetics hybrid, similarly to how the characters in "Where the Wild Thing Are" are bing done.  Swamp Thing though, with the prosthetics and animatronics work done today, could still be done as a man in a suit, I mean there are certain parts that would require the CG touch, but for the most part I still think that one couls stray away from full GG.

Now mentioning Man Thing...well come on now...we totally need a Howard the Duck/Man-Thing Movie, I'd be there on opening day.  Just pretend the originals of those never happened...

Cheesey1 9/30/2009 7:49:58 AM

If they were able to make the Aliens look good without CGI (even the Jurassic Park dinosaurs), I don't see why they couldn't do a good job with the lizard.  Yeah some CGI, but not completely.  I liked the non CGI Ben Grimm.  It's not like the Hulk who has the Bruce Banner persona to maintain the realism, the Thing is always the Thing and 100% CGI for a pivotal character with so much screen time would get in the way of the average viewer relating to the character.

ManThing was by no means the worst thing on Sci-Fi.  It was definitely bad, but by no means the bottom of the sy-fy barrel.  Sy-Fy has produced some really putrid stuff.

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