Marvel

Captain America The Winter Soldier

One of the biggest hits of the year so far has been Captain America: The Winter Soldier, making it a bigger success than the first film. It helps that it follows up The Avengers and cross-pollinates with other films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, what also helped it along was a fresh story that was less of a gee-whiz superhero film and more inspired by the conspiracy thrillers of the 1970s. Now that the film has been released on home video, the directors and writers have sat down and dissected it in their commentary track, available on the Blu-ray and 3D Blu-ray. (Sorry, folks… the DVD does not have the commentary on it, so you’ll have to spring for a Blu-ray player if you want to listen. But, seriously, why don’t you have a Blu-ray player already? You do? Thought so.

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Sin City A Dame to Kill For

Josh Brolin‘s performance in Sin City: A Dame to Kill For isn’t wildly dissimilar to his work in Men in Black III. They’re very different films and performances, of course, but both prequels feature Brolin inheriting a role from another actor. Brolin eerily embodied Tommy Lee Jones as Agent K, while in Sin City: A Dame to Kill For he’s channeling Clive Owen’s work as Dwight McCarthy from the first movie. This is Dwight before he had to change his face, which, in case you haven’t read Frank Miller‘s comics, is why Owen isn’t back playing the character. Whether Josh Brolin studied Clive Owen’s performance never came up in our wide-ranging conversation with the actor, who’s clearly pleased with both the film and his performance. With the exception of Labor Day – a film I’ll readily go to bat for — it’s the first time since True Grit Brolin hasn’t had to carry a movie. Not because he isn’t the lead, but looking at Oldboy, Gangster Squad, and Men in Black III, the end products often weren’t on par with Brolin’s work in them. Thankfully, that’s not the case in this instance, nor should it be in the near-future. Brolin has Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice coming up, the Coen Brothers’ Hail, Caesar!, and Everest, a survival pic boasting an impressive cast. He’s also playing Thanos in the Marvel Universe. Brolin has a lot going on at the moment, but he took the time to speak with us at the junket for Sin City: A Dame to Kill For.

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Marvel Universe Live!

The first explosion makes me scream like a small child (fortunately enough, I am surrounded by small children, so no one really notices, even the family next to me who seem freaked out that a full-grown woman is sitting next to them, alone, sipping a beer and scribbling madly in a notebook). The second — and then the third, the fourth, the fifth and so on — makes me laugh hysterically. It’s the first night of Marvel Universe Live! (exclamation mark totally, totally theirs) at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, and the circus atmosphere is infectious. And no, it’s not just the beer. Marvel Universe Live! (yes, we will always use that exclamation mark) is a live stage show about, well, the Marvel universe, one that’s heavy on the stunts and light on on the story. It’s sort of like the Ice Capades without the ice. The show features all the usual suspects — the Avengers, Spider-Man and various foes, a handful of X-Men — all joined together in service to adventure and justice, an all-star occasion that will never be replicated on the big screen (rights issues and all that). As if seeing Wolverine fight alongside Captain America and Black Cat isn’t thrilling enough (and it really is, in a very weird way), the show also boasts a ton of pyrotechnics, some straight up fire and a motorcycle chase involving Cap and the Red Skull. It’s little wonder that everyone in the audience is totally enthralled by the spectacle, even if (especially if?) it’s […]

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Thanos-The-Avengers

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Black Widow in Captain America The Winter Soldier

You have to admire the Hail Mary timing of Sony’s almost-announcement that they’d be making a film at some point with some sort of female superhero from somewhere in Spider-Man’s neck of the woods with a potential release date (some time) in 2017. It’s the studio jargon version of, “We’re thinking really hard about it, promise!” but it also depressingly represents the greatest progress in modern superhero cinema yet; Sony has already hired screenwriter Lisa Joy Nolan to make whatever they’re planning an inky reality. Meanwhile, ten movies and a bank vault full of wins later, Marvel is still stuck in neutral on the proposition of seeing a woman’s name standing triumphantly alone on the marquee. At this point, Marvel chief Kevin Feige is familiar with the question. He gets it all the time, and over the past few years his answers have evolved from hollowly specific to insultingly crass to safely vague.

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Thanos Guardians of the Galaxy

With Jonah Hex, Men in Black: III, Oldboy, Guardians of the Galaxy, and the upcoming Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, actor Josh Brolin has been in five comic book movies in the last four years. Some have been more successful than others. It goes without saying, but the less said about Jonah Hex the better (we say more here). Thankfully Guardians of the Galaxy and A Dame to Kill For aren’t movies you’ll want to forget once you’ve left the theater. That’s especially fortunate for Marvel’s latest — which made just a little bit under $100m dollars this weekend — because the Guardians and other supporting players are a key piece of the puzzle for Marvel’s future. One of those characters is Brolin’s Thanos. He appeared not-yet-Brolinized in the end credits of The Avengers, but has a much more prominent part in Guardians of the Galaxy. His role as the puppet master villain of villains in the universe is now established so the comic book non-readers will no longer ask, “Who’s the square-faced purple dude?” With that big douchey smile, the egomaniacal chair, and the fact that he’s purple, he’ll be hard to forget the next time he pops up in future Marvel movies. It also helps that Brolin is doing more for the part than providing Thanos’ voice.

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Guardians of the Galaxy Awesome Mix

Just as Marvel’s The Avengers gave shawarma sales a huge boost in the summer of 2012, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy has brought forth a newly-rediscovered love for cassette tapes. This is thanks to the “Awesome Mix Vol. 1” that Peter Quill’s (Chris Pratt), dying mother made for him in 1988. Quill kept the joy of mix tapes alive while he bounced around the galaxy for 26 years, rocking out to music from Blue Swede, The Jackson 5, David Bowie, and The Runaways. As a child of the 80s, I am intimately familiar with cassettes, Walkmans, old-school 1/8” headphones, and the awesomeness of a mix tape. However, I also remember burning through my fair share of cassettes in my youth (and needing a pencil more than a few times). Of course, the track list for “Awesome Mix Vol. 1” will always be awesome, but seeing all that Quill goes through in Guardians of the Galaxy, it got me thinking. Would that mix tape have lasted for 26 years in space? Would it even still work?

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Chris Pratt in Guardians of the Galaxy

Marvel Studios is still new. Based on their track record, that’s almost hard to believe. Of the nine movies they’ve put out, all of them have performed considerably well, if not completely gangbusters, at the box office. Considering their latest film, Guardians of the Galaxy, is on track to make over $70m this weekend, their luck will continue. At this point, we may have to stop calling it luck and start calling it smart business decisions. One of the people responsible for Marvel’s success is, of course, the president of the studio, Kevin Feige, and he’s fully embraced the spirit — and often downright weirdness — of the characters and their worlds. Feige gambled on an untested formula that’s paid off. Few people expected Iron Man, and with it Marvel, to succeed the way that it did, but he was one of them. Six years ago, it was clear he believed in their ambitious plan from the start. “It’s a little bit of planning, a little bit of luck and you end up with a studio that has the film rights to Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hulk and Ant-Man,” he said in 2008. “And clearly, when you put them all together, you know who you get.” He meant The Avengers, as well as a whole series of successful solo superhero films around it. Guardians of the Galaxy is the one that now puts Marvel’s brand to the ultimate test. Iron Man wasn’t a very well known character to the general public, but the Hulk, Thor and Captain America were all pretty […]

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They Live Wonder Woman at Comic-Con 2014

It’s easy to hate Comic-Con. My view of things is probably a bit different from the average person, since I’m surrounded by people “in the industry” and it’s become cool over the last few years to use a tone of tired disgust when talking about the media explosion that takes place every year. More specifically, and you know this, we’re talking about San Diego Comic-Con, which over the years has become so big  that we just call it “Comic-Con” despite there being literally thousands of other Comic Conventions every year. Attendance at the event first eclipsed 100,000 individuals back in 2005. My first adventure was The Year of Watchmen, in 2008. By then, the crowd had ballooned to more than 125,000 people. This year it’s estimated that more than 130,000 people entered the exhibition floor. During the weekend it owns in July, it’s ubiquitous. You see it on Twitter, Facebook and every other social media sites. You read articles about it, and you sense it just underneath the surface of other articles. Dusted-off essays and tired tweets will make jokes about nerds and body odor, the smell of Thor’s leather underwear, the stank emanating from far too many layers and far too much wool in an unmercifully hot Southern California summer. Just as it’s easy to hate the hellacious line for Hall H or the semi-constant jostling from working your way through a crowd, it’s easy to make fun of Comic-Con, too. I’d never pretend to be anything other than a nerd at heart. Even […]

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Marvel Studios

One of the many highlights of Guardians of the Galaxy (out next week) is when the gang pays a visit to The Collector. James Gunn‘s film already had shades of strange, but Benicio del Toro kicked it up a few notches. Once you visit his black market, you don’t want to leave it. Maybe the film’s biggest problem is del Toro: he’s not in it enough. They’ll likely incorporate him more in future Marvel movies, but he’s a character you want to see more of. Take one look at that guy and it’s pretty obvious he lives an interesting life. Him wheeling and dealing with that funky outfit on could be as exciting as any huge set piece. The fact of the matter is, we need a movie about The Collector. It wouldn’t have to be a super expensive tentpole movie. The Collector is the kind of character we don’t need to see in action. He’s engaging enough on his own. In the past there’s been talk of Marvel movies making smaller scale pictures. They recently announced their release date schedule for the next five years. It’s doubtful any of those summer and fall releases aren’t huge blockbusters. That’s fine, of course, but wouldn’t fandom turn up for a smaller Marvel movie? A little slice of life kind of story in the life of a hero or villain?  Will we ever see those movies from Marvel in the future? “Well, someday,” Marvel’s Kevin Feige tells us at the press day for Guardians of the Galaxy.

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BIG HERO 6

He’s fluffy, slow, and he’s about to get an upgrade [cue the Beyonce song]. He’s Baymax, and he is the perfect best friend as long as he doesn’t run out of batteries. The Big Hero 6 trailer makes the movie feel like a family friendly Iron Man blended with The Iron Giant and whatever else has “iron” in the title. It’s also a nice reminder that there’s another Marvel movie coming out that seeks to fill the Pixarian void. Check out the trailer, and see if you can guess who’s voicing Baymax, the fluffy robot who earns afterburners.

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Avengers Age of Ultron Set

The camera zooms in on a hectic street scene as percussion-soaked discordant rhythms elevate your blood pressure. An eerie green sail is lifted to tribal beats. A human the size of an ant side steps the rubble and faces forward. Everything is blurry at first, but as the clouds begin to lift, we can finally recognize a figure efficiently, almost poetically, hosing down a street. Is it a commentary on the deep dichotomy between the hurry up and wait boredom of a movie set and the end product made of pure excitement? Is it a mirror held up to our own voracious fan tendencies? Is it an indictment of movie website culture where bold names are heralded daily and ad nauseam no matter how uninteresting their latest still shot or promotional video may be? Undoubtedly, yes. Like Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle,” Mattia Renaldo (the well-respected video artist who’s dabbled in special effects-laced political commentary) has gone behind the scenes of Avengers: Age of Ultron in order to show us how the spandex sausage is made. Not content simply to show filmmaking at its most naked, he’s placed intense backing music to underscore and parody how thrilling we often imagine the creative process to be, despite the eye-gougingly dull reality. The juxtaposition is striking in every frame.

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Bring It On

If it suddenly got cold where you are, there must be some Toros in the atmosphere. After a wild, post-Wright ride to pick a director for Ant-Man, Marvel has picked a winner that absolutely no one could have guessed. Even when you tell your friends that it’s the director behind Bring It On, Yes Man and The Break-Up, they probably still won’t be able to pull his name out of thin air. But it’s right there in the headline, so we’ve got an advantage. Peyton Reed will step in where Edgar Wright has stepped out. According to Marvel, Reed will helm the project, and the major cast is all still in place. Paul Rudd is still Scott Lang/Ant-Man, Michael Douglas is still Henry Pym/Probably Old Ant-Man. Plus, Marvel is also reporting that Adam McKay — once thought to be in the running for the director gig — will be contributing to the script.

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Ant-Man

Originally, the Ant-Man movie didn’t need a director. There was no search to be launched, no shortlist, no dream team, no meeting-taking. Weirdly, the movie really needed a studio — sort of. Of course an Ant-Man movie would be a Marvel movie, but Marvel Studios was long resistant to launch the title, even with filmmaker Edgar Wright so famously gung-ho on the gig and so firmly attached to directing the thing, no matter when the studio finally decided that the mid-level, ant-sized superhero really could fit into its grand vision of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The director and the studio went back and forth for years before Marvel officially set Wright for the job and announced that, hey, they’re actually making the movie. That, of course, all changed two weeks ago, when Wright left the project (one he’s been working on for nearly a decade) over creative differences. In the relatively scant time since, Marvel has scrambled to find a new director (or, at the very least, that’s what it looks like from the outside) with continually disappointing results. How did this happen? Why did this happen? Is there some kind of timeline we can look at? There is! Behold — a brief history of the search for the Ant-Man director who was already in place for nearly this entire time before everything went to hell.

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Big Hero 6 Disney

After Guardians of the Galaxy was announced as the next Marvel team venture, much speculation was given to the potential success of the first post-Avengers franchise, due to the relative unfamiliarity of the comic. But while we’ve all been hemming and hawing and throwing out AOL keywords like “talking tree” and “raccoon with blaster gun” and “David Hasselhoff trailer dude cool,” the studio has quietly produced yet another movie that we’ve (and they’ve) let slip by the wayside. Big Hero 6 comes to us from Disney Animation, a Marvel property that follows a kid and his robot sidekick in the futuristic society of San Fransokyo. In the Marvel comics, the Big Hero 6 is a team of state-sanctioned superheroes formed by the Japanese government to fight crime at their disposal, a handy dandy group of do-gooders and superpowers that are at their disposal to fight crime and any forces of evil that try to topple their ranks. It’s kind of the perfect solution to all of our international relation needs, isn’t it?

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Guardians of the Galaxy Groot

Ever since it was announced, the prevailing wisdom was that Marvel was taking a huge gamble on Guardians of the Galaxy. That prevailing wisdom has always been wrong. At least this property — which isn’t all that popular even among comic book readers — isn’t a gamble in the same way that Iron Man was. That was the case of a third rate hero getting the big budget, cinematic treatment. This is the case of a third rate group of heroes getting the big budget, cinematic treatment from one of the most trusted blockbuster companies in the world. People will be going for the Marvel name, regardless of what the heroes call themselves. This new Guardians of the Galaxy trailer is proof. Or at least it’s proof that Marvel doesn’t see this as the same gamble everyone else does. They’ve turned wacky all the way up to 11 here. If they were trying to fool people into going to see The Same Old Marvel Movie they know and love, they could do it easily with flashes of action and an empty, bombastic score highlighting the dutch angles. Instead, they’ve gone with Norman Greenbaum jams and a tree giving a little girl a flower. Check it out for yourself:

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Open Road Films

If someone said in 2001, “I bet this Jon Favreau guy — the star, writer, and director of Made – is going to help turn Marvel into one of the most successful film studios ever,” you probably would’ve written them off as insane. When you think about it, though, Favreau exhibited a voice for character, story and comedy in Made and Swingers that was well-suited for the Marvel universe. His sensibility made Iron Man a hit, impacting the tone and spirit of the Marvel films that followed. After his one-two punch at Marvel and a crack at a high-concept western, Favreau has returned to his roots with Chef, a film about a creatively unsatisfied cook, Carl Casper (Favreau), who also has to reconnect with his son. Some say the film is really about a filmmaker frustrated by the system, but, first and foremost, it deals with the important choices in life a creative has to make. “I knew I wanted to talk about the balance of career and family,” Favreau tells us. “By the time you hit my age, those little decisions you’ve made really affect your life and you think, ‘How did I end up here?’ A lot of people are confused by where they land. Often when you put all your effort into your career, it’s not as satisfying, because you don’t have that base and foundation.” What is success without people to share it with? It’s an age old theme, but it’s something that Favreau hopes resonates.

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Storm in Days of Future Past

More genres, more stories, more women. This week we welcome on Screen Rant‘s Ben Kendrick for an omnibus discussion of the amazing, as-yet-unrealized potential for superhero movies. At what point will audiences get bored with the same rehashed stories? At what point will one superhero movie lose big to another superhero movie in a crowded summer? At what point will studios develop the guts to take real risks? The future may be sooner than we think. Plus, Geoff challenges me to a round of Interrogation Reviewification for The Amazing Spider-Man 2, asking perhaps the most difficult question this series has ever heard. You should follow Ben (@benkendrick), the show (@brokenprojector), Geoff (@drgmlatulippe) and Scott (@scottmbeggs) on Twitter for more on a daily basis. Please review us on iTunes Download Episode #56 Directly Or subscribe Through iTunes

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Agents of SHIELD Turn Turn Turn

Using an iPhone for the first time required twenty minutes that felt like a full day of setting up, retrieving and resetting passwords in order to order a pizza. Downloading Angry Birds, not to mention calling anyone, meant connecting one device to four others. There are benefits  to that interconnectivity. No doubt. It’s also about stickiness — once someone is plugged into more than one product or service, it makes it a lot harder for them to change horses. That’s why your bank forces you to have a savings account and debit card in order to get a checking account. In the midst of praising Marvel for creating an expansive movie universe that weaves small details into itself and has now injected latex into a weekly television presence, the potential negatives of its interconnectivity have flown under the radar. All the positives are still there — it creates a great sense of community, rewards fans for being invested and is responsible for 1000% more people using the phrase “easter egg” — but the stickiness of it also threatens non-obsessive viewers with gaps in plot understanding. That’s why seeing the headline “How Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is Now Setting Up Avengers: Age of Ultron” gave me flashbacks to screwing up my iPhone registration.

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Three Days of the Condor

The glut of American superhero films that continue to dominate the US box office have proven time and again to provide a rich and repeated diagnoses of post-9/11 American power. Whether showing an empowered Spider-Man triumphantly swinging between NYC buildings, depicting Bruce Wayne going all Patriot Act to save Gotham from being subsumed in terror, witnessing Iron Man privatize the defense industry, or simply blowing up iconic buildings ad nauseum, these films have served – sometimes with surprising depth – as startling funhouse mirrors for 21st century values, sentiment, and fears as they bear upon the politics and iconography of armed defense and homeland security. But no other film in this endless cycle of cinematic behemoths has explored with such clarity and precision the larger paranoia-industrial complex as Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

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