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AFF2012: DC vs. Marvel Panel

Hulk argue, smash, concur

By Marc Savlov, 12:20PM, Sun. Oct. 21, 2012

AFF2012: DC vs. Marvel Panel

It may have been billed "the most anticipated panel of the conference," but with the Stephen F. Austin Ballroom only three-quarters filled last Friday's super-panel drew only half the audience of James "Green Goblin V 2.0" Franco's conversation earlier in the day.

No matter. The assembled titans of comic-to-screen adaptations were bulletproof and surprisingly amicable towards one another, given the hyperbuzzed build-up of the actual panel itself.

The fantastic four: Ashley Miller (Thor, X-Men: First Class), John Turman (Hulk), Michael Green (Green Lantern, Smallville, Heroes), and Zak Penn (The Incredible Hulk, X-Men: The Last Stand).

Fittingly, moderator Barry Josephson kicked things off with the scribe's origin stories.

Turman: "My first script was about a kid who worked at a comic book store, but that hardly went anywhere. I really got started when I was hired by some people to write a time travel/serial killer script for $5,000. I wasn't interested in the story but I was very interested in the $5,000. That ended up getting optioned at Universal…where the junior, junior exec and I got into a deep discussion about time travel [after which] he mentioned that they were looking [for writers] for the Hulk or some other superhero characters. And I was all about that because, you know, I grew up reading comic books.

"I ended up writing a 20-page outline thinking they'd pay me scale just to get lost. But they ended up calling me in to pitch. They told me, a bunch of times, 'You're not going to get the gig.' They already had a list [of screenwriters] and my name wasn't on that list."

Long story short, not only did Turman get his Hulk on, it all came off of a time-travelling serial killer script. The moral to this particular origin story?

Penn: "Two good lessons in that: One, never say no and always persevere, and two, never write time travel."

Turman: "But I sold that [time travel] script three times!"

Penn: "Okay, always write time travel."

As for the Marvel vs. DC smackdown-cum-love/hate affair, and comics in general, Turman bristled at the notion that comic book films are a genre unto themselves.

"Some of the projects, like Hulk, are probably horror, and some of them are thrillers. In Marvel, the powers, the abilities were always sort of a curse, with an outsider character who was going to succeed in spite of [those powers]. In DC, it was much more a path to empowerment for the characters, a big boon, and so [I think] that's one of the main differences between [Marvel and DC]."

Green: "Any time anyone asks me about the Marvel/DC thing I try to quote Frank Miller, who said something like 'It's legend versus myth.' Marvel tends to be mythology and [DC] tends towards King Arthur, where things are just a bit larger than life. Marvel was all about maintaining the human element. And not for nothing Marvel movies tend to be funnier. You got a Marvel movie to have a good time, whereas you go to a DC movie and you're, like, 'Sadness! Awesome!'"

Ultimately, the "versus" panel tag turned out to be unwarranted. All four former-teen titans agreed that comic books and their cinematic alter-egos, cultural bedrock that they are, are only going to become more intense – and intensely entertaining – as the technical abilities of filmmaking finally catch up to the written word, or in this case, "Ka-pow!. The only question now is: Where's that DC/Marvel crossover we've all been dreaming of?

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