The Most Obscure (and Gory) Marvel Comic Book Movie, Ever
All right, let’s see a show hands: Who’s seen Man-Thing?
I don’t see many hands going up, probably because this film bombed out in focus groups, was shown once (maybe) on television, and went direct to video. Some critics call it the worst superhero movie ever, but trust me (have I ever lied to you?). It ain’t even close.
First, it’s not even a superhero movie for chrissakes. Second, have these so-called critics ever seen FANTASTIC FOUR or DAREDEVIL or THE HULK or that godawful Batman movie that I’ve scrubbed completely out of my mind (the one with Arnold and who the hell was it, George Clooney?)? I’m not saying Man-Thing didn’t have problems, but please, the hyperbole attached to certain films (on either the plus side or the negative side) is ridiculous.
The problems: First, apparently the budget wasn’t there to shoot the film in Louisiana (Louisiana? Geez, you could buy the entire STATE [sans New Orleans] for like twenty grand.), so they chose to film it in Australia (well noted for its swamps). Second, they apparently decided not to spring for airline tickets for American actors to travel Down Under, so they used local talent, all of whom struggled mightily to maintain a Cajun accent. (Except for those who didn’t even try.) Third, there were script problems. This is not even remotely an original movie, following the pattern of countless oil-driller-bad-for-environment-vs.-brainless-nature-spirit-guardian-who-goes-medieval-on-their-asses plot. Fourth, the basics of the film diverge wildly from the Marvel concept. But really, I’m not sure this is a problem, as the Marvel concept was Man-Thing as a tortured scientist who experiments on himself and becomes a mostly brainless nature spirit/guardian who goes medieval on the asses of various bad guys in the Everglades. A concept pretty much ripped bodily from the pages of Swamp Thing, the superior DC version of Man-Thing, who, although obviously related (having the same last name) work for different comic book companies.
The good things: First, despite my crack above, Australia does have some very spooky-looking swampland and the nature visuals are fascinating. Second (see below), Man-Thing himself was pretty cool looking, if not too bright.
"I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille."
Third, though I do not enjoy gore for the sake of gore, the various bodies pulled out of the swamp also have very effective visuals. Fourth, breasts. Good-looking breasts hardly ever hurt a movie, and Man-Thing (the movie, not the actual Thing) has them. Not a lot of them, but this is (as far as I know) the only Marvel superhero movie that has ever had them.
Starlet not showing her best features, which I probably couldn't show, anyway
Fifth, I liked the character of the new sheriff (nothing like going up against a Man-Thing your first day on the job), who, since he was supposedly a Yankee, didn’t have to struggle with a Louisiana accent.
Sheriff and Deputy, chillin'
Finally saw The Hobbit the other day (run out and see it as soon as you can) and, as a notorious sit through the end of the credits guy, noticed that a fellow named Conan Stevens played a goblin named Bolg. His name struck a chord in the rolodex that’s my brain, and I realized that he also played the Man-Thing. I looked him up. This Conan is a seven-foot-one ex-professional wrestler turned actor who attended the University of Newcastle where he was both the chess champ and beer-drinking champ. Sounds like someone who’d be fun to party with. He also played Gregor Clegane in a little thing you might have heard of called Game of Thrones. I’m guessing if I kept looking I could achieve the Six Degrees from Kevin Bacon, but I’m going on for too long already.
Conan The Australian
Rating: Well worth a look and cheaply available in fine Walmarts everywhere. 7+