POSTCARDS FROM MIDDLE- EARTH
Fantasies begin to come true as the 21st century rolls in
Fantasy dominated the third age of SFX as Harry Potter and The Lord Of The Rings cast their enchantments over the box office. It was a time of magic. A time of upheaval. A time of successive Potter directors promising the next film was darker and grittier than the last one.
These were also the formative years for the current superhero boom. Spider- Man 2, X2 and ( arguably) Blade 2 were all superior to their predecessors, though Daredevil, Hulk and the Thomas Jane take on The Punisher were less successful, especially Ang Lee’s brave but misjudged near- art- house version of the jolly green giant. A shared universe, though, was still the pipe dream of net forums.
Superheroes were also making a smallscreen impact. Smallville began a 10- season run with the producers promising: “Our Superman doesn’t wear tights.” It proved that you could really overhaul a franchise and still succeed. Mutant X was an X- Men series in all but writs, while Birds Of Prey tried – briefly – to bring Batman mythology to TV.
Star Trek: Nemesis was a limp final fling for the Next Gen crew, though it did give us out first taste of Tom Hardy in amusingly expletive- heavy interview mode. Even limper
“Simon Pegg brought his Spaced mates to an
SFX Couch Potato”
was Voyager’s final episode. Still, there was always Scott Bakula and his pooch in Enterprise to look forward to, if you could survive the theme tune.
The Matrix sequels bored and baffled audiences in equal measures. Donnie Darko convinced everybody that Richard Kelly was the new god of cinema until we saw his next film.
Shaun Of The Dead was the best zombie film in years – even though it was a comedy – and shot Simon Pegg to stardom, but not before he brought his Spaced mates to a Couch Potato ( he all too briefly wrote a column for the mag too).
Neil Gaiman gave us American Gods, the book that marked his transition to novelist after more than a decade of creating the comic book mythology of Sandman. Years later he would guest edit SFX. He lost his legendary leather jacket somewhere along the way.
In comics Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch remade the Marvel Universe with The Ultimates. We’re still feeling the aftershocks on the big screen…
The biggest thing on TV was Battlestar Galactica, which SFX loved from the pilot. Here was SF unashamedly for grown- ups, and who cared that Starbuck had had a sex change? A worrying amount of fans and original Starbuck Dirk Benedict, that’s who. So we ignored them.
The X- Files finally closed, with David Duchovny returning for the finale three or fours years too late to have any real impact. Buffy ended – rather more spectacularly – but luckily for SFX’s covers James Marsters joined Angel for its last, terrific year. Whedon then created Firefly – an apt name considering how brightly and briefly it shone.
And right at the end of this phase Lost premiered… And we were all pretty much none the wiser six years later when it finished. So, just who was Locke again…? Dave Golder Continued on page 018
Six arms very good, and two not bad either.
One of a thousand clashes
in The Lord Of The Rings.