Joss Whedon has been in the news a lot recently, in no small part because of what he said in our recent Much Ado About Nothing Empire Podcast, with details on both Loki's absence in Avengers 2 and Quicksilver / Scarlet Witch's appearance in the same ruffling feathers everywhere. And yet, there's more - and this time it's about Mr. Whedon's love of Charles Dickens, and how he'd love to make a Dombey And Son movie.
It's long been known that Whedon loves his Dickens. His top five books are the following: Frances Hodgson Burnett's A Little Princess, Dickens' Dombey And Son, Frank Herbert's Dune, Truffaut's Hitchcock and Jane Austen's Pride And Prejudice. But there's been nothing from the Buffy / Angel / Firefly creator on whether he'd like to take a particular Dickens and put it on the big screen... until now.
"God, I’ve thought about [adapting a Dickens novel] a lot. My big issue is that they are so sprawling. A particular favourite of mine was Dombey And Son, which of course is right in my wheelhouse, but you have to have three different people play the part, and that never really plays… It’s tough."
If you're not already au fait with Dombey And Son's plot, here's a brief outline: middle-class Victorian businessman Mr. Dombey is desperate for a son to continue his family's name, and he is blessed with one, Paul, but the poor child is sickly and dies young. His wife also dies soon after Paul is born. He has an elder daughter called Florence, however, and it's the on-going battle between the two that is the throughline for this typically socially conscious mid-19th century Dickens novel.
"There’s an extraordinary story there," Whedon adds. "More than a couple, in fact, because it’s Dickens. But this story of this girl, and her relationship (or lack thereof) with her father is, of course, very moving. Though at one point, I was like, ‘Get a pickaxe! Stop forgiving everybody!’ Not a lot of people know that he wrote part of the Saw franchise, but as Joss sees it…"
There are few people who can get away with speaking about themselves in the third person, and Joss Whedon is one of them - though that might have something to do with his Saw / Dickens gag, which pretty much no-one saw coming.
Of course, there are no concrete plans here - just thoughts in the Much Ado director's head - but considering he made a passion project after Avengers Assemble, maybe he'll do the same after Avengers 2 comes around on May 1, 2015 - or it could work as a high-end TV miniseries. That said, he'll probably want more than 12 days to do justice to this particular slice of English literature...
Presto the rabbit might disagree, but magic rarely sells at the box office. Time again, the life of the great escapologist, Harry Houdini, has seemed to be heading to the screen; time and again circumstances have conspired against it. This time Summit Entertainment may have nailed the slippery so-and-so, with Dean Parisot aboard.
The Galaxy Quest director is currently putting the finishing touches on Summit's geriatric actioner Red 2 and, claims Deadline Hollywood, the studio are leveraging that existing relationship to tie him to their adaptation of Noah Oppenheim's script. Hunger Games' Gary Ross was attached as recently as 2012, but subsequently withdrew in favour of other projects, Civil War drama The Free State of Jones among them.
Back in 2009, Summit snapped up the rights to William Kalush and Larry Sloman’s book The Secret Life Of Houdini, The Making Of America’s First Superhero, which came out in 2006 and added to controversial claims that the escape expert was an undercover agent for various organisations. The pair claims that he not only worked with British Intelligence, but the US Secret Service and other law enforcement agencies.
Oppenheim's treatment - half The Prestige, half Hitchcock by the sounds of it - will add to the big-screen legacy of a man whose daring feats always had a cinematic quality. Tony Curtis played him in George Marshall's 1953 eponymous biopic, but that's been the Niagara Falls rider's lot.
We'll be watching this one with interest. For all your barrel-riding needs in the meantime, feast your eyes on the new trailer for The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug.
Joss Whedon said a great many things during our recent Much Ado About Nothing Empire Podcast special, including the Tumblr-rocking news that Tom Hiddleston's Loki will not appear in Avengers 2, and here below is a little bit more for you about newcomers Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch.
By the way, if you're not in the know about the superpowered pair, we recommened you check out our crash course guide here before reading the following...
"I've turned in a first draft. The story is very set, everybody's on board with the exact movie I'm trying to make which is what worked the first time. I said, 'I want to make this movie, a Marvel version of this movie.' And they said 'Yay' and never looked back. Well they said 'Maybe the tone' or 'Maybe this structure' but once we had it, we had it. And I feel like we're there with Avengers 2 which is really important."
"There's still fine tuning to do on the script. There are many things that can be 'plussed' and be better and also, there's some science in it, which means I have scenes where someone says 'Science the sciency science'. So I'm like, 'I'll fix that later.'"
As for the Quicksilver issue - which has got more complicated now that Fox have put the same character into X-Men: Days Of Future Past - Joss Whedon has this to say: "He's in our movie and he's going to be dope."
"Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch are very close to my heart because they were Avengers the whole time I was reading the book as a kid. Sometimes they were evil but sometimes they were good. They're very... textured, they're very different from everybody else in the mix. They're not there to make things easier on The Avengers but what we do with the group once we've got them is squeeze. The fun I'm having doing that is probably unseemly."
The inference to be drawn from that is that, since they're so "very textured" and all, perhaps they aren't going to be out-and-out allies. Could we see some villainousness from the brother and sister pair, to a lesser or greater extent, or will they just be... squeezy? Whatever happens, it looks like Tony Stark and Bruce Banner are going to be sciencing all over the place, and that's always good.
Much Ado About Nothing is in cinemas now. Avengers 2 is aiming for a May 1, 2015 release. X-Men: Days Of Future Past will be out on July 18, 2014.
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