Comics Icon David Michelinie Ranks His Characters Adapted to Cinema With Joe St. Pierre

To me, David Michelinie is easily in the pantheon of the greatest comics writers of all time. He wrote epic runs on IRON MAN, AVENGERS, and the AMAZING SPIDER-MAN. He was also involved in the creation of some truly memorable characters in the Marvel Comics Universe, including CARNAGE, the TASKMASTER, SCOTT LANG (ANT-MAN), JIM RHODES (WAR MACHINE), and perhaps most notably, everyone’s favorite wall crawling villain, VENOM!

My very first job as a penciler was written by the man himself–you can imagine how intimidating that was;)–We also worked on my favorite SPIDER-MAN job at Marvel Comics together, and Dave has already scripted a story with one of my own creator-owned characters, CRICKET in THE NEW ZODIAX.

Joe: It’s always a pleasure to chat with you, Dave. Several of the characters you originated in comic books at Marvel have since been adapted to the big screen Marvel Cinematic Universe as well. I imagine people would be very interested in your thoughts regarding how those characters were adapted to the movies. First of all, do you have any thoughts on the subject? Do you even care?

Dave: (laughs)

Joe: It’s perfectly legit if you don’t have any feelings on the subject…

Dave: No, how could I not care? Going from top to bottom I was really happy with the ANT-MAN movie because I think they nailed the humor, and the human element. They got what I thought was the most important part of the character, which was the relationship with his daughter Cassie. It was a small part, but it was an essential part and it added warmth and a human element and I think they handled that very well.

Taking it down slightly a notch, I’m pretty happy with Jim Rhodes/Rhodey. The first actor Terence Howard had the physical presence, but he had this really high voice; he really didn’t have a very authoritative voice. Then they recast the role with Don Cheadle, who doesn’t really have the physical aspect, the visual of Jim Rhodes, but he is a great actor. And finally, in Iron Man 3 I think they got the character right. They had Tony and Rhodey fighting side-by-side with fists and guns, you know, as having each others backs, instead of just two superheroes. Jim Rhodes was never intended to be a superhero. He was supposed to just be a guy who Tony Stark could have a friend in, to talk with or hang out with. I’m not that fond that he was turned into WAR MACHINE, even though he has become a very popular character. But I thought in the third movie where they had just Tony and Rhodey together, fighting together, I thought that was great.

Going down another slight notch to VENOM. I think they did what they could with Spider-Man 3. They couldn’t use the origin of course, so they just had it like the old first version of the movie THE BLOB, where something lands, a meteorite releases the symbiote, and I hated the whole scene where Peter is doing a SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER dance down the sidewalk, and the he wops Mary Jane!

Joe: They’re talking about a VENOM solo movie of course, right?

Dave: Yeah, Tom Hardy is Eddie Brock.

Joe: What do you think of that casting? I mean, you are VENOM’s dad.

Dave: Oh I just haven’t seen Tom Hardy in that much. He’s got the physical presence to do it, he’s got the acting chops, but most of the things I’ve seen him in–I just recently saw Dunkirk, I saw his name in the cast, but I had no idea who he was.

Joe: (laughs)

Dave: I figured he was probably one of the fighter pilots who had an oxygen mask on his face the whole time, but so I don’t know, if he could do the human part of it he could do the physical VENOM crazy person part of it.

Joe: Have you seen the last MAD MAX movie?

Dave: Oh yeah.

Joe: That was him.

Dave: Right, he also had his face covered most of the time in that one too that spikey thing.

Joe: (laughs) Oh that’s true, too.

Dave: There wasn’t a lot of opportunity to do any subtle characterization, he was pretty well in your face.

Joe: I’m actually a big Tom Hardy fan, have you seen the movie THE DROP?

Dave: No.

Joe: I would recommend that, it’s probably my favorite thing he’s done. He was outstanding in that.

Dave: OK I’ll check out Netflix.

Dave: And at the very bottom is Justin Hammer, who is a character that Bob Layton and I created in IRON MAN. We patterned him after Peter Cushing visually and that was the voice that I heard when I was writing his dialogue– very classy, intelligent British guy who the movie turned into an American buffoon, which I didn’t like. I love the actor, Sam Rockwell is a terrific actor, but he wasn’t given anything in the script so I hated that. So it’s hit or miss, some good, some

Joe: Right. Did Marvel Studios ever invite you to the premieres? Did you do the red carpet thing as a creator?

Dave: I did that at the ANT-MAN premiere. I walked the red carpet, people were taking pictures and I could just see it, when they got home and they’re downloading off their cameras and putting them on the computer, they’re saying “Who the hell is this? Why do I have his picture? Did he sneak in? Was it one of
the caterers?” But it was fun.

Joe: Who were you wearing on the red carpet? (laughs)

Dave: (laughs) Well I had this special custom-made thing…

Joe: All I can think of is you, like the creators of South Park, who showed up in these low-cut green gowns one year at the Oscars…

Dave: They have more courage than I do.

Joe: (laughs)

Dave: And probably better legs.

Joe: Well congrats on all that success, that is very cool. So now that we got the movie shit out-of-the-way we can start to talk about comics! Tune in for more with Dave and Joe next week!

David’s story featuring CRICKET of the NEW ZODIAX is a stretch goal for the NEW ZODIAX Vol. 1 NEW EDITION, available through Kickstarter right now!

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