comic book movies

The Amazing Spider-Man

It’s the oldest, three-year-old joke in the book: ubiquitous movie marketing means we know everything about a movie before it comes out. It’s resulted in many fans shunning trailers altogether or, gasp, avoiding Twitter. Here finally, Sony has given Vimeo user SleepySkunk the ammo to prove what we all already know (which is too much). The result is a 25-minute version of The Amazing Spider-Man cobbled together from advertisements and featurettes. At first, watching it is sort of funny – a video middle finger to an overzealous marketing culture – but after a few minutes, it starts to feel like you’re watching the movie itself. That’s a creepy feeling, knowing that the movie is almost completely out there in the world, waiting to be assembled with a little editing magic. What’s even crazier is that it features a beginning, middle and end. At 25 minutes, it’s missing a lot, but it’s like watching a plot outline version of the final product. Check it out for yourself:

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A little over a week ago an Iron Man 3 set photo made its way around the Internet that had fans of comics scratching their collective heads. It showed what appeared to be James Badge Dale wearing the red, white, and blue armor that Norman Osborn donned in the recent comic book, “Dark Avengers,” where he performed superheroics under the name the Iron Patriot. This made no sense, as Osborn is a character that Sony has the exclusive movie rights to, and Dale was already reported as playing a cyborg character named Coldblood-7. The best theory we could come up with at the time was that the characters of Coldblood-7 and the Iron Patriot were getting merged for the upcoming film in order to create a fancy, new uber-villain – but it turns out this isn’t the case at all.

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Justice League Alex Ross

Sure, The Avengers being really awesome probably had a lot to do with the fact that it’s now the third most money-making movie of all time. But, more than that, the film probably has Marvel’s long term planning to thank for its extreme level of success. Instead of just making a movie about a team of superheroes, Marvel first introduced each member of the team in their own films, they dropped hints about the fact that they would all be coming together at some point, and, when it was all said and done, The Avengers finally premiered after six years of build-up and anticipation. That’s pretty unprecedented. Seeing as they own DC Comics, Warner Bros also has a fairly impressive stable of superheroes at their command. And they’ve even managed to leverage their properties into a bunch of successful animated television shows in the past. But, in recent years, the only character they’ve had any real success with in the live-action feature format is Batman. They’re not even close to doing something with DC’s premier superhero team, The Justice League, that could be on par with what Marvel did with The Avengers.

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The fine folks at Marvel would like to prove that production on Iron Man 3 has begun as a reminder in these dark knighted times. As if their dominance of the early summer isn’t enough, the production house is getting the official advertising/awareness campaign going 11 months before Shane Black‘s film hits theaters with Robert Downey, Jr. back in the Stark suit. As the above picture (click it to enlargify) shows, he’s got a lot of them now. He’s also got an odd man with a clapboard following him around. Watch out, Tony! He’s got a fanny pack of some sort! Jokes aside, has a threequel ever been this anticipated based not on the second installment, but on another film entirely?

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Seeing as stills are starting to come out for Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn’s latest project, Only God Forgives, one can only assume that work on that film is moving along swimmingly and it’s probably time to start wondering about what he’s going to do next. If the 24-hour news cycle is good for anything, it’s promoting constant speculation. This time, however, the speculation has the benefit of not being completely unfounded. Deadline Køge is reporting that Refn is currently in negotiations with Dreamworks to helm Button Man, an adaptation of a graphic novel called “Button Man: The Killing Game” that was written by Judge Dredd creator John Wagner. The comic book follows the misadventures of professional killer Harry Exton, who is hired to take part in a game where millionaires have trained assassins battle each other to the death for their amusement. It’s like The Hunger Games, only better because the people trying to kill each other are actually good at it and don’t have to resort to sicking bees on each other and tricking each other into eating berries. Of course, there’s a wrinkle in the story, and it comes when Exton decides that he doesn’t want to be a gladiator anymore and has to find a way to get himself out of the games.

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It’s been no secret that Shane Black’s upcoming entry into the Iron Man franchise has quite a few villains incorporated into its plot. Ben Kingsley is in the film as a shadowy string puller who may or may not be a version of classic Iron Man villain the Mandarin, Guy Pearce is playing the scientist who invents the dangerous and tech-based Extremis virus, and James Badge Dale has been recruited to play a guy named Eric Savin who, in the comics, gets turned into a cyborg named Coldblood. That’s quite a few heads for Tony Stark to bust already, so why is SuperHeroHype reporting that yet another Iron Man character, the Iron Patriot, is also going to be featured in the film? Before any theories can be concocted, first it’s necessary to give a rundown on who exactly the Iron Patriot is. In the comic books, there was recently a storyline where Spider-Man villain Norman Osborn took control of S.H.I.E.L.D. and put together his own dark version of The Avengers, which included Osborn himself wearing a version of Tony Stark’s Iron Man armor that was all painted up like the American flag to give people warm and fuzzy Captain America feelings. It was a nefarious plot that might make for a good superhero movie, if not for the fact that Norman Osborn is a Spider-Man character, the rights of which are still in the clutches of Sony…aren’t they?

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Mads Mikkelsen in Casino Royale

Blood-crying Bond villain and skull crusher Mads Mikkelsen is in talks to play a villain in Thor 2 according to Variety. Great news or greatest news? The impeccable actor is fresh off of a strong showing at Cannes with The Hunt, which is another addition to a growing list of powerful roles he’s taken on. Now what kind of silly costume will he get? Citing rumors that The Enchantress will be in the film, Devin Faraci is opining that Mikkelsen may play the brutish Executioner. If all that comes to pass, Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster isn’t safe at all. However, I still hold out hope that he’ll play his character from Valhalla Rising, making this a sweet cross-over project.  

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Seeing as the Iron Man franchise is coming up on its third film – and the first that’s seeing a changeover of directors – one might think that Marvel would be hedging their bets with it and lowering their expectations. How many times will audiences really keep coming back to watch Robert Downey Jr. playing the same snarky character? And even if the love for this take on Tony Stark can last indefinitely, will the loss of franchise launcher Jon Favreau in the role of director lead to Iron Man 3 being tonally different from its predecessors? And if so, how will Downey’s smitten audience react to going in for more Iron Man and getting something that feels unfamiliar? When it comes to an aging franchise that’s in the midst of creative turnover, one would imagine that a movie studio would start playing things a little bit safe. But seeing as The Avengers just came out and pretty much scooped up all of the money left in the global economy and became an international topic of culture conversation, that’s not the direction they’ve decided to go. Marvel heroes are the “in thing” right now, and their new-found level of relevance has led the studio to believe that they can do more.

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UPDATE: After speaking with the head of WETA’s marketing, we can confirm that the sizzle reel mentioned below was not WETAs. Again, this IMDB posting should be taken at arm’s length, and there’s also the possibility that Rothbart got the effects company wrong, but if these scenes are real, they are not the work of WETA. Original posting follows: There was never much doubt that Man of Steel would have a comic book feel. It was only slightly less guaranteed than it looking like a Zack Snyder movie. The Warners mulligan on Clark Kent is set for theaters in June of 2013, but apparently WETA just showed two scenes as part of a sizzle reel that played at a fancy gathering with smoked salmon and a bunch of visual effects artists. Allegedly, one of those effects wizards, Jonathan Rothbart (Avatar, Priest, Iron Man), posted a description of the scenes on the film’s IMDB message board. He was pretty excited. Here’s what he (spoilerifically) had to say:

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In a recent interview with Collider, Idris Elba claimed that his schedule was so packed that he moved out of his home without signing a lease anywhere else. It’s all movie set trailers from here on out. He’s probably not exaggerating. He’ll be seen later this year in Prometheus and potentially the Western They Die By Dawn. Next year, he’ll be in the thriller No Good Deed and Pacific Rim. After that, it’s a turn as Nelson Mandela for director Justin Chadwick’s Long Walk to Freedom and what promises to be another Mandela-esque turn as Heimdall in Thor 2. This comes on the heels of Joss Whedon’s massive success with The Avengers and a public suggestion that the sequel will see more female superheroes.

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Boiling Point

The Avengers is kind of a major success. What, you hadn’t heard? Of course you did. Avengers box office is on the tips of tongues, internet screens, newspapers, and even within the pages of Time Magazine. You don’t make a billion dollars that quickly without garnering a lot of attention. With attention comes discussion. People always want to be included in the discussion, it helps get a little bit of that attention directed their way. If at this point you feel the need to point out the hypocrisy of this entire thing, go for it. What do I care? In attempting to be part of the discussion and gather up some of that sweet, sweet spotlight, everyone has been discussing the Avengers box office results and asking the question we all ask of super hero teams and double rainbows: What does it mean?

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WARNING – THIS ARTICLE GIVES AWAY SPOILERS FOR THE AVENGERS, SERENITY, AND DR. HORRIBLE’S SING-ALONG BLOG. YOU’VE BEEN WARNED. Joss Whedon has a penchant for killing off his characters, particularly the likable ones. This is something you should know going into this article. It’s the reason why there’s so much built-in weight to his projects, the idea that characters you grow accustomed to might meet a bad end before it’s all said and done. It’s also the reason why the 360-degree shot in The Avengers – you know, the one your comic book geek mind exploded over after seeing it for the first time – shouldn’t be used as a marketing tool. One has to think that the shot was designed for trailers and TV spots long before the actual storyboards for The Avengers were even inked on. It’s the kind of shot that makes fans of the series, comic book and film, alike, furious, stomp out of the theater, head for the box office, and pre-order a whole row for The Avengers. They’ve got friends.

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Catherine Zeta-Jones took a hiatus from acting late last decade, but she’s been back in the game with The Rebound and Sundance Weinstein pick-up Lay the Favorite. Now, she’s continuing that working streak with RED 2. At 42, it might be a little early for her to retire. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Oscar-winner has signed on alongside Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Mary-Louise Parker and Dame Helen Mirren who will be reprising their roles. The screenwriters, Erich and Jon Hoeber, are also back, but director Robert Schwentke is not. He’s currently working on R.I.P.D., which may or may not be the reason, but Dean Parisot will be taking his spot. Parisot is also an Oscar winner, having won for Best Live-Action Short Film back in 1989 and going on to direct Galaxy Quest and Fun With Dick and Jane. It’s an interesting background he brings, but the comedy angle is easy to see. So the director has an Oscar, Dame Mirren has one, Malkovich is a two-time nominee, and their newest recruit is packing a statue. Not even counting the Golden Globes, this action comedy sequel has a lot of Oscar street cred.

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The level of neon-glowing attention to detail in Panos Cosmatos‘s Beyond the Black Rainbow is intense. The first-time director has taken the images of forbidden horror VHS tapes on rental store shelves and transformed his imagined movies into something very real, and very frightening. It’s a trip into a lonely cult that mixes religion, science and pills. We’ll talk with the writer/director about his psychedelic terror-scape. Plus, Battleship Pretension hosts David Bax and Tyler Smith battle in our Movie News Pop Quiz, and the discussion turns to the nature of superhero movies. Are they an action subgenre? Can there be a superhero movie without any action? Is The Avengers the zenith? Reject Radio starts now. As soon as you click that. Download Episode #133

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A Spider-Man movie starring The Social Network star Andrew Garfield should have been a big deal that made both comic book geeks and movie nerds all over the world leap and cheer in anticipation and joy. But, because The Amazing Spider-Man is coming to us so soon after Sam Raimi’s Tobey Maguire-starring Spider-Man trilogy, the reaction to the movie has more resembled a collective, “More Spider-Man? Already? Really?” Still, despite inevitable comparisons between Maguire and Garfield’s takes on the friendly neighborhood wall-crawler that are going to happening in fan circles, the two actors don’t seem to be approaching The Amazing Spider-Man’s release date feeling any sense of competition. As a matter of fact, they sat down to have a chat with one another for “VMan” magazine, and the results were quite amicable.

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We normally reserve 10 & 5 posts for big movies that are familiar to the masses, but once in a while it’s good to shine a light on a low profile indie film. This is not that time though, so instead we’re taking a look at the movie with the biggest opening weekend in history. Joss Whedon‘s entertaining as hell blockbuster, The Avengers, has already earned a rare A- grade from us (read Cole Abaius’ review), but Robert Fure and Rob Hunter wanted to take a more detailed view complete with potential and actual spoilers. Warning: There are major spoilers below. Major spoilers. You’ve now been warned about the major spoilers.

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Redoing Judge Dredd. Not the safest call, but one of the tricks the production from Lionsgate, DNA Films and IM Global has up its sleeve is the power of Lena Headey. When it was first announced, Karl Urban (Dredd himself) might have been that weapon, but Headey has become a fan favorite on Game of Thrones (a show people like to watch in great quantities apparently). Here’s a look at the actress as Madeline Ma-Ma Madrigal, rocking some serious scars and a look that could burn down a barn. What do you think? Hellacious, right? [LA Times]

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Every Girl’s Guide to The Avengers By Internet Princess Quartney Vagington Hey, gurrrrls! It’s your BFF Quartney Vagington! I’m gonna save your cute butts again, so get ready to thank me. Your boyfriend has probably looked up from his Xbox a couple times in the last week to say, “Dude, we gotta see The Avengers on Friday! It looks totally sick!” I know Trevor has! I just rolled my eyes and was like, “LOL, whatever you want, honey-bun,” and then I went back to texting. But guess what, bitches? He’s totes serious about it! Your boyfriend is too, unless he’s like a dork or whatever, in which case, ew, why are you dating a dork? Anyways, me and Trevor are gonna see The Avengers on Friday cuz it’s his turn to choose the movie, cuz he let me choose which Olive Garden we went to last week (the nice one, or the one close to Pinkberry), and so I was like, “Aah! I don’t know what these dumb comic book movies are about!” So then I was like, “Help me, Facebook, LOL!” And so then Facebook was like, “Here are some Tumblrs and Wikis about it!” So you guys, I totally did some research to help you know what the eff is going on when you see “The Avengers” with your boyfriend! You can thank me later, I accept Hot Topic gift cards, LOL. (P.S. if you do not have a boyfriend then I don’t know what to tell you […]

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The Avengers want you to see The Avengers in theaters.

It’s been open overseas for a week, already raking in more than $200m, and now The Avengers is landing on U.S. soil with one of the biggest summer openings in history. But does that mean you should see it now? Or do you wait for home video? Sure, there’s plenty of arguments as to why you can wait, including obnoxious crowds, high ticket prices, and the general hassle of getting your butt off the couch and driving to your local multiplex. However, here are seven ultimate reasons should convince you to, paraphrasing Shakespeare, “Get thee to a theater!” and witness Marvel’s greatest achievement in superhero movies.

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Did you hear? Did you hear? Go tell Paul Revere! Joss Whedon and Marvel’s The Avengers is out this weekend which marks the beginning of the summer and an end to the anticipation. To discuss the film, we turn to comic book/Avengers expert John Gholson from Movies.com. Plus, ScreenCrush critic Jordan Hoffman plays Movie News Roulette and talks Dark Knight Rises, Star Trek and texting in theaters. Download Episode #132

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