The upcoming Greek mythology based epic fantasy "Hercules" has an air of ambivalence surrounding it. While fans are pumped to see the ever charismatic Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson play the titular character, the reactions to director Brett Ratner's [X-Men : The Last Stand] attachment has been less than enthusiastic. Now close to release, the film has run in to a new controversy concerning its source material and alleged exploitation of writer Steve Moore's recent tragic death (16th March 2014) as a marketing ploy.
Legendary comic book writer Alan Moore [ Watchmen, V for Vendetta] has gone on the record in defence of the late comic book writer Steve Moore (no relation), Moore’s friend for forty years, whose Radical Comics series "Hercules: The Thracian Wars" film adaptation "Hercules" is hitting theaters in less than a week. Moore spoke to Bleeding Cool at length about the situation, and related how Steve Moore learned of the film adaptation of The Thracian Wars a few months before he died and was not pleased -
"Now, Steve had had quite a few problems with Radical Comics in producing the comic book and there were compromises that he had been assured that he would not have to make which he had, in fact, been told to make. So that relationship wasn’t an entirely happy one"
Alan Moore went on to explain how the compromises Steve Moore had to make with Radical soured him on the publishing company, and given the meticulous research which went into the writing of The Thracian Wars, Steve Moore assumed the film version would be “idiotic s**t.”
According to Moore:
"So, Steve wouldn’t be getting any money from this. The only consolation was that his name wouldn’t be going on it."
In the months leading up to the film’s release, however, Moore claims that the promotional materials for Hercules have featured Steve Moore’s name as a way to exploit the interest surrounding his friend’s death as free publicity. Moore’s view of such behavior is simple:
"Now I’d have to look at my thesaurus and see if there are any words other than “vile” which I could use for that. But even in the low estimation in which I hold the greater part of the comic industry, that is a new low."
Alan Moore asks viewers to compare film's banners and posters before and after Steve Moore's death and boycott the film as he feels the movie dishonors his freind's legacy.
"I would also ask that anybody out there who gives a damn about Steve Moore or his legacy not go to see this wretched film. It is the last thing that Steve would’ve wanted. And I cannot un-recommend it too highly or anybody involved in it."
The earliest available official PR materials for Hercules do list Steve Moore’s name (but not that of Admira Wijaya, the artist for The Thracian Wars), but the poster and first trailer for the film appear to have been released in late March 2014, after Moore’s passing on March 16th.
When THR reached out to MGM about this issue, they released the following statement:
“MGM licensed the feature film rights from Radical Comics and fulfilled all contractual obligations. Steve Moore was a legend within the comics industry, whose work we greatly admire.”
“Contractual obligations.” This phrase is really what it all boils down to. MGM’s somewhat chilly statement appears to be the final word on the subject. The Byzantine nature of Steve Moore’s final contract with Radical apparently removed the clause which would owe Moore any money at all, much less the “paltry 15,000″ Moore angrily asked for when he learned of the impending film adaptation.
The exploitation of writers within the entertainment industry is nothing new, but while it’s unclear how much or how little Steve Moore’s name was used to promote the movie before his death, his name is very clearly included on the current poster, in as big a font size as Brett Ratner’s.
Now Alan Moore has traditionally been vehemently against film adaptations of his work and even famously removed his name from Zack Snyder's Watchmen, but I get where he is coming from. This incident makes me appreciate directors like Christopher Nolan much more, Nolan never even mentioned Heath Ledger's Joker in The Dark Knight Rises as respect to Ledger's memory.
I am curious to know what you guys think. Is MGM right in using Steve Moore's name or is it an affront to a great writer's legacy? Comment below !