Thursday, August 2, 2018


On Friday, June 22, in New York City with my son Ed, we attended a special “Marvel family” screening of the first two episodes of the second series of Luke Cage on Netflix. We flew back to Cleveland on Saturday and I spent one day at home in Medina before taking flight on Monday, June 25, for the second part of my coast-to-coast Marvel adventures. I was flying to Los Angeles with Saintly Wife Barb to attend the world premiere of Ant-Man and the Wasp.

We had a direct flight. I had my usual aisle seat. Unfortunately, these planes are getting smaller all the time. While my briefcase used to fit easily (albeit tightly) under the seat in front of me, no matter where I was sitting, it didn’t on this flight. The aisle seats on the left side of the plane had less room. I’ll need to go shopping for a smaller briefcase.

Also on the plane was a family heading to L.A. to compete on Family Feud. Their enthusiasm was contagious. I hope they won.

For our overnight stay, we booked a room at a Holiday Inn Express near to where the premiere and after-party would be held. Because our room was not ready for a while, we checked our bags and went out in search of lunch. Neither one of us was feeling adventurous, so we had lunch at Johnny Rockets.

The hotel was slow to get our room ready for us, but that’s my only complaint. Our room was nice. Our bed was comfortable. The pillows were the most comfortable hotel pillows I’ve had in recent memory. It was within walking distance of such attractions as the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the Magic Castle.

Guest check-in for the premiere began at 5:30 pm at the will call tent at the beginning of the red carper on the northwest corner of Hollywood and Highland. Visible from some distance was a huge sign announcing the movie. Inside, check-in was fast and easy with water bottles provided to help attendees beat the heat. Adding to the fun were cosplayers dressed as Marvel Comics characters.

As we started down the red carpet, albeit not the red carpet set up for the stars of the movie, we ran into my old friend Jan Utstein- O'Neill. The last time I saw Jan had to be decades ago and probably in New York City. Today, she works in production finance at Marvel Studios and gets to go to lots of premieres. It was great catching up with her.

Quick sidebar. Every comics industry person I met at this premiere congratulated me on the success of the Black Lightning TV series. Since I don’t have an official role with the series, I often feel a little odd accepting those congratulations. On the other hand, I realize Black Lightning doesn’t exist without Tony Isabella having created him in 1976, so I’ve learned to accept the congratulations  in the spirit they are offered. However, I always mention the Black Lightning show runners, writers and cast. All of whom I love madly.

On the red carpet and inside the theater, we ran into more comics people. John Jackson and Meredith Miller were there. John and I go way back to the days when we both worked on Comics Buyer’s Guide, which remains about a thousand times better and more accurate than most of today’s comics “news” sites. Inside, John introduced me to artist Jorge Lucas, who drew many of John’s Iron Man comics and had come to the premiere from Argentina.
Marvel Studios had decorated the outside of the theater with giant props. There was a huge coffee cup and a Pez dispenser. Just about everyone with a cellphone took photos of these props, usually while standing in front of them.

You had to take your cell phone photos before entering the theater. Security was very tight at the premiere. All phones were placed in tamper-proof bags. The efficient and friendly security people were standing by to remove your phones from the bags when you exited the theater. Honestly, I thought that was pretty cool.

Inside the theater, I ended up sitting next to Michael Lovitz, the amazing attorney who represents me with both DC and Marvel Comics. Michael was the “plus one” of writer/artist/filmmaker Bob Layton, another one of his clients and another old friend of mine. Working in comics is like having an extended family that extends all around the globe.

We saw Ant-Man and the Wasp in IMAX, the first IMAX film I’ve seen in years. I was so impressed with the presentation I suspect I’ll be seeing more IMAX films in the future. I’ve reviewed the movie in my “Tony’s Tips” column over at Tales of Wonder, but here’s part of that review:

This sequel has everything that made Ant-Man one of my favorite Marvel movies. Despite the trippy adventures within the Quantum Realm, this is a seriously down-to-earth story centered on family. Ant-Man/Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is a good father to his delightful daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson). Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and the Wasp/Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) are trying to find and rescue Hope’s long-missing mother (Michelle Pfeiffer) from the Quantum Realm. Those are the obvious families.

Yet Scott Lang’s formerly criminal associates (Michael Peña, T.I., David Dastmalchian) are like unto a family themselves. We even get a paternal vibe from Dr. Bill Foster (Laurence Fishburne) and the Ghost/Ava (Hannah John-Kamen), the desperate young woman he tries to help. All these family elements resonate with me.

If you haven’t read my full review, you can find it here.

After the film, Barb and I attended the after-party. Marvel Studios put on an exceptional event. The space was large and comfortable, though some areas were more packed with people than others. There great food and drinks. I had several “Stingers” in tribute to the Wasp becoming the first female Marvel character to have her name in the title of a Marvel Cinematic Universe movie. The “Stingers” are probably why I can’t remember the name of the after-party location or any of the food I ate.

But I do remember have brief but wonderful conversations with three of the movie’s stars. I would introduce myself as one of the Marvel writers listed in the Special Thanks credits. The stars I observed were friendly with their fans, but it seemed to me they were quite pleased to meet us comics folks.

When I spoke to Paul Rudd (Ant-Man/Scott Lang), I complimented him on the movie’s excellent writing. As he was one of the writers, his face lit up when I said that. His performance was spot-on terrific, but I think he appreciated my comments on the writing. Many great lines that hit their marks as well as the actors.

Barb was nervous about meeting Michael Douglas because she’s had a crush on him since he was in The Streets of San Francisco. I told Douglas that his performance in The American President helped make that movie one of my all-time favorites. When I introduced Barb to him, I mentioned her crush on him. He took one look at her and said “You’re much too young to have seen me in that!”

It had been a long day for us, but, before we left, I nearly bumped into Lawrence Fishburne. I introduced myself to him as the writer who gave his Bill Foster character super-powers in the comic books. He thanked me for that and chuckled when I told I hoped Professor Foster would have a “bigger” role in the next movie. He was just as hopeful for that. He was thrilled to be in a Marvel movie. I think he deserves to be an actual super-hero when next he appears in the MCU. Hey, Kevin Feige, sir, let’s make that happen.

Barb and I got a good night’s sleep. We had been dreading the long ride to the airport, but my dear friend Mark Evanier picked us up at the hotel, took us to breakfast and drove us to the airport. We are so blessed to have someone like Mark in our lives. Or, as Mark put, “I wish I had a friend like me!”

Barb is still a few years away from retirement, but I’m trying to get her to attend more conventions and events with me. She has been a rock during my shakier times in the comics industry and, now that things are going better for me, I love sharing these better times with her whenever possible.

That’s all for today. I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.
© 2018 Tony Isabella

No comments:

Post a Comment