The Tampa Bay Times interviewed a comics fan who made a short film based on Sleepwalker, a creation of former Marvel writer/editor Bob Budiansky in the early 90s, whose history is also told in this item:
Josh Noftz grew up reading mainstream comic books like Spider-Man.
But he was most intrigued by Marvel Comics’ fringe Sleepwalker about a green alien trapped inside a human’s mind. When the human sleeps, the Sleepwalker can escape into the real world to fight crime.
Noftz hoped to see a live-action Sleepwalker movie as Marvel Studios expanded its comic books into a cinematic universe over the past dozen years.
“I finally realized that was probably not going to happen,” the 37-year-old Land O’ Lakes filmmaker said. “So, I decided to do a live-action Sleepwalker myself.”
See the film in full below.
From a present perspective, he should consider it lucky if there won’t be a major Sleepwalker movie. If Marvel’s film division is going the SJW route, much like the comics themselves did even before Axel Alonso became EIC, then goodness knows what kind of mess a Sleepwalker motion picture would turn out to be, risking the end to any sequels.
For now, here’s how the guy got advice from Budiansky, communicating for starters on Twitter, along with securing production assistance from some buddies:
The other was Bob Budiansky, the former Marvel Comics writer and editor whose comic creations include Sleepwalker. Budiansky provided creative advice and has a cameo in the 28-minute movie that explores the character’s origin story.
A tweet from the filmmakers to Budiansky got things started.
“He actually replied,” Noftz said. A friendship was born. Creative advice was shared.
Good for them. And now for a little history insight:
Budiansky rejects the “legend” identity, but comic fans refer to him as one.
Among the 66-year-old New Jersey resident’s writing credits are The Avengers and Ghost Rider, but he is best known as the creative mind behind The Transformers.
In the 1980s, he was editor and then writer of The Transformers’ first Marvel Comics series, conceived the names of most of the original characters, and penned the biographies on the initial toy packages.
Interestingly enough, the late Dennis O’Neil also had some creative input for the Transformers, though the only robot he really got credit for was Optimus Prime. Budiansky did a pretty good job with what he was tasked with for 4-5 years, before Simon Furman took over for the remainder of the 1st volume. Now about Sleepwalker, here’s how the idea was conceived:
The first Sleepwalker comic was released in 1991 but Budiansky said the story was birthed a few years earlier when Marvel editor-in-chief Jim Shooter wondered if someone with Superman’s powers would be accepted or feared in the real world.
“Superman was created to look like the all-American stereotypical hero,” Budiansky said. “So, naturally, in the comic books, we accept him as a good guy. We trust him.”
Budiansky was intrigued by the question of how the world would react to a monstrous-looking hero with superpowers. Would they assume he was evil? Or would his heroics win them over?
“A couple of years later, I took a class in dream analysis,” Budiansky said. “I merged the two ideas and came up with this.”
Sleepwalker exists in a dimension from where he protects humans from evildoers trying to invade dreams. He then gets stuck inside the mind of college student Rick Sheridan. The world initially thinks the creature is a bad guy and Sheridan feels so guilty for unleashing him as he sleeps that he always tries to stay awake.
“Superman is too perfect,” Noftz said. “Sleepwalker stood out as this flawed character.”
I just hope the experimental filmmaker doesn’t think Superman’s “perfectness” prevents the stories from being entertaining wholesale, and I hope he’s aware that magical energies were as much a weakness for the Man of Steel in the yesteryear as Kryptonite ever was. If you think hard enough, you should be able to work out stories where, if anything, Superman can find magic and technological energy employed by villains just as formidable as the green radioactive crystal from his late homeworld.
By the way, from what I know of Sleepwalker, the titular hero persuaded Sheridan he was innocent, and they worked out how to co-habitate as 2-in-1 and fight crime together. One of the much later creations to come out of Marvel, shortly after Tom deFalco launched Darkhawk as a series in 1991, you could argue Sleepwalker was one of the last of the concepts that fared better than what came down the road post-2000.
Budiansky said he tries to be fan-friendly. “I will reply to those with a reasonable request — reasonable is the operative word. If someone sends me a picture and asks for an opinion, that is an easy response. It turned out the guys are special.”
The filmmakers first met Budiansky in 2015 at a Baltimore comic convention where he was a featured guest. Budiansky later invited them to Orlando when he took his daughter to Disney World and agreed to read their script.
“The one comment I had was to make (the character) Rick more likable,” Budiansky said, “Initially, he came across a little bit arrogant and snarling.”
For that, I applaud Budiansky. Applying an overly irritating personality to the character risks turning off the audience, and that was the mistake made with Jason Todd from Batman and Danny Chase from the New Teen Titans in the 80s, yet quite a few screwballs, lest we forget, decided to blame the fictional characters instead of demanding improvements from the writers, making the above twosome from DC into early victims of cancel culture, especially Danny, whom I don’t think has been seen since he was sent to the great reward in 1991.
The filmmakers hope Marvel eventually produces a Sleepwalker movie.
Again, with the way their film department’s going now, I’d honestly prefer they don’t. Because chances are the finished product would end up becoming a conduit for far-left politics, and turn off more people than it would impress. Anyway, I hope Budiansky and company had fun with their little fan-film, and there was plenty of stuff he oversaw decades ago at Marvel which I do appreciate.
Here’s the fan film:
Originally published here.