POST­CARDS FROM MID­DLE- EARTH

Fan­tasies begin to come true as the 21st cen­tury rolls in

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - The sfx years | 2001 - 2004 -

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.

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