Interview w/ Tiffany Smith, Fandango Fangirl
You might have seen her or watch her regularly in one of her weekly DC All Access episodes covering everything behind the scenes for DC Entertainment, or one of the many other shows she’s hosted for Sony, Spike TV and Activision, to name a few. Or, like me, you might remember her from her appearances on G4TV’s Attack of the Show. What you might not have known is that Tiffany Smith is also the Fandango Fangirl and will be covering all the latest and exclusive action movie and comic book news at San Diego Comic-Con, as well as being a panelist at two events, “Masters of the Web” and “Critics vs. Fans.” Every year there’s some exciting news coming from SDCC as many prepare and wait in long lines for the annual pilgrimage but this year there have some huge announcements made on the cusp of it starting, namely Marvel’s upcoming changes to Thor and Captain America. So I was lucky to get ahold of Tiffany and her vast knowledge of these matters so she could make heads and tails of everything that’s going on, and give a preview of what to expect at SDCC.
Me: What is your opinion on the change to Thor and why do you think the decision was made to change such an established character as opposed to just creating a new character?
Tiffany: I actually think it’s a really exciting choice that Marvel is making if you kind of look back at some of the books they’ve worked on in the past with Captain Marvel switching over to a female character or even Loki changing from male to female. I think that the cool thing about it is because it’s already an established character it’s someone who has a strong fan base. So I think fans of Thor who’ve been reading for a really long time are gonna see an awesome story because Jason Aaron, the writer, has said, (they’re) not just doing this as a stunt. This is actually something (they’ve) been building up to. So I think if you look at even who’s reading comic books now, publishers are starting to see that those female numbers are going up and up. So there really does need to be more characters who young girls or girls my age can read and say, cool I can relate to this person a little bit more. Specifically with Thor we’ve seen in the past Storm pick up the hammer before, and Marvel doing the X-Men team that’s all women that was written by Brian Wood. So I think that Marvel sees that there are increasing women readers so they want to give them stronger characters to follow. And I think from a film perspective if you look at the Marvel cinematic universe, I’ve said in the past, that I really think that characters, for instance like Ripley from Aliens, were written in a way that weren’t male or female, and Sigourney Weaver just came in and nailed the role. And you can see a little bit in Edge of Tomorrow with Emily Blunt. So I think that Marvel is taking that perspective and going along those lines where it’s like it doesn’t really matter what gender a character is, does the story work? Yes it does. The coolest thing I think is gonna be that they actually have to change somehow what’s inscribed on Thor’s hammer because it says “whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.” It’s gonna have to say “whosoever holds this hammer, if he or she,” (laughs) because it could change back to a man at some point.
Tiffany: I think there’s a really fine balancing act in comics between bringing in new fans and giving them a good starting point and also keeping fans of the characters who may have been reading for years, the loyal fans. So there’s always a chance that things could revert back to the original character but I think that at the same time a change like this one and seeing what Marvel has done with Captain Marvel and how successful that’s been, I have a feeling we’re gonna have a female Thor for quite a while, at least that’s my hope. I hope it stays female for a bit and I do hope that it starts to bleed more into the cinematic universe. All of the actors signed on for (a certain number of) films so I don’t think Chris Hemsworth is going anywhere in the immediate future but if you look at what Marvel does in comics they really build that world out in the comics before they put it up on the big screen. So I think that is something that’s really interesting and I hope we get a long story arc with the female Thor. And I’m just glad they’re not changing the name (and) it didn’t become Thor-rella or anything girly. It’s just straight Thor. They’re keeping it the same, which I think is awesome.
Me: I think that’s awesome too. Marvel has done an excellent job like you said in creating a cohesive cinematic universe, and the promotion of certain books have coincided with upcoming movies as well. Do you think when the contracts are up that there might be a solo movie featuring the new Thor?
Tiffany: I definitely think that that’s a strong possibility. I feel like Marvel has such a great synergy with their comics and with the TV universe and film universe that they don’t do anything by accident anymore. I think Kevin Feige knows what’s going on at every level of Marvel. So I do think that there’s an extremely great possibility that we’re gonna get a female Thor movie. I do think we’re gonna get a Captain Marvel movie before that happens because like I said I don’t think Chris Hemsworth is going anywhere for a while. And I, as a fan, love the film franchise and would definitely need to see a story line that really works to have him replaced by another character. So I think if you look at what Guardians of the Galaxy did, they had a comic book that came out earlier this year to really introduce people to the characters and get them ready and comfortable for it. So I think it’ll be interesting to see what gets announced at Comic-con because obviously it’ll be Avengers 2 news but then from there we’ll start to hear the movies we’re going to get in Phase 3, and hopefully there’s a female-led superhero movie in that mix.
Me: I’m hoping there’s a Captain Marvel movie as well because I recall a twitter exchange between Captain Marvel’s editor and an actress regarding the character. I’m not sure that has anything to do with a solo movie though. But do you think there was additional pressure to make this decision considering the gaining traction for a Wonder Woman movie?
Tiffany: I don’t really think that Marvel feels pressure from DC, and I don’t think DC feels pressure from Marvel in that way where it’s like “oh crap, they did this movie and now we need to do something like that.” I think that Marvel is in a really interesting place with film because it’s gonna be hard to surprise anybody now. Basically the things we get excited about are what characters they’re gonna develop in the films. So I think the only big thing they can pull out is saying there’s a female-led film. I think that when you look at what DC and Marvel are doing, DC has really nailed the TV world. Arrow is so fantastic and just this year at Comic-con we’re gonna get the Flash, Constantine, and I, Zombie. So I think that if anyone has catching up to do there Marvel has to catch up to DC. And when you look at comic-con this year, DC is really in a great position because we’re all waiting to hear what they’re gonna say. We don’t know what the cinematic universe is gonna look like. Last year just having the photo of Batman and Superman together blew up the internet. (laughs) So if there is a big announcement as to what the next films are coming out from DC I think people are gonna be a lot more intrigued and excited by that just because it’s still news. With Marvel, we know we’re getting this many movies. We know we’re probably gonna get a Thor 3, we know we’re getting another Captain America, so the new ones I think will be the surprises.
Me: Speaking of surprises, another change was announced for a Marvel character and that’s Captain America, whose role will be fulfilled by Sam Wilson. Can you give me some insight into this change and what it means for Marvel to diversify their biggest characters?
Tiffany: Again, I just think it’s a really smart move when you look at the fan base and who’s reading comics. When you talk to someone like Anthony Mackie and he’s like, I’m just glad that there’s a strong black character. People are really excited about getting possibly a Black Panther movie. So I think it’s looking at the fan base and saying, okay who would Captain America be now? Probably not that All-American, blonde haired, blue-eyed guy. The more interesting thing to see as a comic book reader is that if you know Captain America’s story line then you know someone replaces him at some point. In the comic book he dies and Bucky Barnes, the Winter Soldier, takes over for him. So that’s the more interesting part to me is now that they’re veering off in the comic book saying it’s gonna be the Falcon taking over for Captain America. I’m thinking, why not Winter Soldier because we know he’s back on for I think 9 films as well. So that’s where I think the really interesting stuff is gonna come up where it’s ok, they’re changing the story line in the comics to prepare for the film universe.
Me: To get back to the point you made about DC in regards to everyone waiting for their announcements at SDCC. There has been a flurry of casting news announced for Batman vs Superman, and recently it was just announced that there won’t be a crossover between the TV universe and the upcoming movies. What does this mean for the characters who people love on TV, and will they really have 2 actors playing the same character or will they solve this issue in a different way?
Tiffany: I’m actually curious to see how they will handle that as well. Specifically when you look at a show like Arrow it has done so well and people have connected so much with Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen, and he’s been very vocal about wanting to play Oliver Queen on the big screen. So I think there is something to be said about figuring out what that balance is gonna be. Maybe we’re not gonna see a Green Arrow in the film universe for a little while. When you look back to when Smallville was on, there were still other people playing Superman and it didn’t affect either universe for me. I loved Smallville and I’m a huge Tom Welling fan. Would it have been cool for me to see him on the big screen playing that character? Yeah. But at the same time it’s a different universe in my mind. I really look at it as in the DC Comics where you have Earth-Two. I feel that’s the way you can look at TV versus film with two separate earths and that’s why I’m okay with the same character being played by different actors.
Me: So you’re saying there’s the potential for an Infinite Crisis movie at some point. (laughs)
Tiffany: Oh my God, my mind would be blown if that happens. How cool would that be?
Me: It really would be cool and I hope that’s something they can explore down the line. San Diego Comic-Con is right around the corner and every year there’s some kind of blockbuster announcement or exclusive information that has the internet buzzing for months. You’ll be attending as Fandango’s action movie and comic book guru. Can you give me the inside scoop or a preview of what you’ll be covering?
Tiffany: Literally comic-con is the best single place for getting all the announcements, and getting to cover for DC and Fandango puts me in a really awesome spot. I get to cover for both franchises whether it’s Marvel or DC, and the sci-fi fangirl genre in general. Obviously everyone is very excited about Avengers 2 and seeing which cast members are going to show up there. I think something that is a little under the radar right now, I’m hoping that we get to see the cast of the Fantastic Four reboot show up. We’ve (also) gotten a little bit here and there about what we’re gonna get from the Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies. This is really the end for Middle-Earth, which for me is so sad. I’m a huge Lord of the Rings fan. I do a film podcast called “Schmoes Know,” and Andy Serkis called in and said he we’re gonna see something big. So I’m really, really excited about that. The other thing that kinda falls under the radar, I think Mad Max is gonna blow people away. I just recently re-watched Beyond the Thunderdome and there’s been a lot of talk in the past because they finished production in 2011 and it’s not coming out until 2015. They’ve been filming for 2 years and apparently there was no real scripting. There was a lot of let’s just get on set and kinda play and see what happens. So that for me is the biggest thing that I’m excited to see because there have been some screenings here and there and people have said some fantastic things about it. Especially when you get Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron in the movie, and George Miller is coming back to write and direct. That is something that as a fangirl I’m super-excited about.
Me: Avatar is one of my favorite movies and it seems like news about the sequel is very sporadic. Will we hear anything about it at SDCC?
Tiffany: I think we’ll get some stuff. I would be really surprised if we got anything huge just because it’s a little bit of a ways off still. They’re saying it won’t come out until 2016, and I think they’ve just started filming stuff in New Zealand. I wouldn’t be too surprised if we got some of the new technology footage. So for me it’s almost depending on when in 2016 the film will come out because it might make more sense to wait until next year to show some of that footage. But we’ve heard underwater performance capture will happen in this movie, that we’ll see other worlds. So I feel that there’s definitely potential on the technological side of things that’s what I’ll be most excited about seeing from Avatar 2. They’ll have the same actors, Sam Worthington, Sigourney Weaver, Zoe Saldana and I think that as technology improves and you bring back actors who’ve experienced it, it’s gonna make your film that much better. Even when you look at the Apes movies and you have someone like Andy Serkis who obviously is the top dog in performance capture, and seeing what he did in the recent Apes movie in comparison to the first one or when he did Gollum how much more realistic it’s become. I think that’s something that will really blow people’s minds when we get to see anything from the new Avatar.
Me: The Entertainment Weekly cover for Avengers 2 has been released and we get to see Ultron’s appearance and he looks pretty badass. Any idea on what will be revealed at Comic-Con about Ultron that doesn’t appear on the cover?
Tiffany: We know that Tony Stark has actually created Ultron, which is a departure from the comics and I think is interesting. But I think the thing we’ll be most surprised about is seeing the technological advancements of how Ultron could actually work in a movie. Because of how far we’ve come with technology where he can go through all kinds of technology and essentially upgrade what form he’s in and the things he can do. It’s almost in my mind the coolest version of a Transformer you can ever possibly imagine, and the smartest version of a Transformer. I also think that because we’re getting an intro of new characters like Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch there could possibly be some deaths in this film. I think Marvel realizes they have to do something to up the stakes a little bit, and working to intro new characters is like, okay we’re moving on to Phase 3, this character can phase out, that character is not gonna come back in a reboot form in 5 years or something. But I wouldn’t be surprised if we lose a main character or possibly Scarlet Witch in the movie. I don’t know this is all me guessing stuff (laughs). But yes, I think that’s something we could really see happen.
Me: When Coulson died, that was one of the most intense parts about the first movie, even though he came back and now has his own TV show. So maybe Scarlet Witch can die and come back in her own TV show too.
Tiffany: (laughs) Maybe they can do a TV show or maybe they can really die and not come back. Maybe if fans don’t react positively to Scarlet Witch or Quicksilver they’ll be like, oh people didn’t really like them all that much anyway.
Me: Thanks for your time.
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