Marvel

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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The Conversation Movie

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Chris Pratt in GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY

It was inevitable I guess. We used to get full trailers and artistic posters for upcoming movies, but those days are gone and have been replaced by teasers and amateur Photoshop retreads. And now the next target of over-zealous studio marketers appears to be the “clip.” Typically a clip is an uninterrupted thirty to sixty seconds from a scene in the movie — an action beat, a setup and punchline or a big character moment — something to offer a taste of the film beyond a trailer edited to hit the sweet spots. Marvel’s upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy is the studio’s biggest risk since the first Thor film in that its characters are a bit outside the typical superhero realm readily accepted by audiences. So yes, any marketing that reaches eyeballs is a good thing. But calling something a clip when it’s actually nothing more than a new teaser featuring a few seconds of new footage and a whole lot of what we’ve already seen? That’s just rude. Keep reading to check out a brief new look at Guardians of the Galaxy that debuted on MTV last night.

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Marvel Entertainment/Twentieth Century Fox

If you’ve gotten the impression that comic book movies are borrowing heavily from other comic book movies, you aren’t alone. From portals in the sky to heroes in giant metal suits and bad guys shooting deadly beams of light from their faces, Marvel movies (and aren’t they almost all Marvel movies…) all basically look the same. Their success is rubbing off on other spandex-based films. For better or for worse. There’s a cohesive universe being created, but it’s also flattening the landscape. Fortunately Matt Patches has done the screenshot research and has the photo proof of a gut feeling. Feast your eyes on our Visual Guide to Marvel Movies Looking The Same.

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Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Captain America has had a tough life. Steve Rogers, created over 73 years ago by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, has been put through the wringer time and time again. Sure, he made a hell of an introduction by punching Adolf Hitler in his first issue ever, but his luck soon ran out. He went to hell, fought communists for Joseph McCarthy, and, at his lowest and most desperate, worked as a History professor. As we all know, teaching history is far worse a gig than having to fight Nazi Werewolves. Now things are on the up for Captain America, at least for his public image. In 2011 he got his own movie — let’s just pretend the 1990 version never happened — and it was the top dog of Marvel’s Phase I. Now that the studio has successfully moved into Phase II, Director Joe Johnston‘s Captain America: The First Avenger has managed to remain the best of the bunch. Its sequel, Captain America: Winter Soldier, is a close second. Captain America (Chris Evans) faces his greatest threat yet: his best friend, Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), a.k.a. The Winter Soldier. The world may have been threatened in The Avengers, but global annihilation doesn’t match the personal stakes that come from having to fight your BFF, who’s been turned into an unstoppable killing machine with a shiny metal arm. This isn’t just Captain America taking on some power hungry villain, but Steve Rogers having to confront a friend. The personal stakes aren’t all Captain America: The Winter […]

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To Do List from Captain America 2

When you wake up after 70 years encased in ice after plunging into the Arctic and get thrust back into modern day New York City, you’re bound to have a few questions. Such is the case with our pal Steve Rogers, who, from a one-off joke in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, has vowed to catch up on a few missed events and pop culture references during his time “asleep.” While Captain America set up our star-spangled defender as the super soldier boasting Dr. Erskine’s serum and a grand sense of duty without said serum, The Avengers served to give the character a different edge as comic relief in his time after unfreezing. After all, the world is a strange and startling place – even when you’ve lived through morphing into a handsome, all-powerful 1940s action star, fighting a terrifyingly faceless Nazi supervillain and crashing a plane into the Arctic Ocean. It’s not that the Steve Rogers depicted in The Avengers is easy to make fun of, but after 70 years removed from society, it’s as if your dear, somewhat clueless grandpa has come to join the superhero initiative you and your friends have worked so hard to put together because your mom (clearly Nick Fury in this scenario) said that you should all bond. While Captain America’s military expertise and combat strategy is unmatched among his fellow Avengers, it’s not enough sometimes to keep certain members from teasing their “elderly” comrade. Or at least not Tony Stark.

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Captain America

Captain America is everywhere right now. He’s in TV ads and action figures, comics and video games (also something else I seem to be forgetting). But how many of those who’ve seen Steve Rogers battle evil across diverse forms of media actually know the ifs, ands and buts of where he came from? Well, now you too can be a Cap expert, without having to read the 7000+ comic books (seriously) Captain America has appeared in. Just consult the history below; a history portioned out by the eras of comic bookery. Traditionally, the Golden Age lasts from the late 30s – late 40s, Silver Age is mid 50s – 70, Bronze Age is 70 – 85, and Modern Age is 85 – today. Sometimes there’s a Copper Age and a Tin Age, but for ease of organization let’s not get into all that. Instead, let’s begin with the first of many Ages.

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Big dragons in Game of Thrones

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The Avengers

In his most recent cinematic appearance, Captain Steve Rogers (best known as Captain America) was called “The First Avenger,” as per the subtitle of the 2011 film. But did you know that he wasn’t the first Avenger according to the comic books? Of course you did, as you are all nerds. That said, below you’ll find a new infographic chronicling the history of Marvel’s Avengers. From the fact that the original team’s line-up didn’t include Steve Rogers to the current Marvel Cinematic Universe and its billions of dollars worth of box office sales, it shows us a bird’s eye view of the legacy of The Avengers. As Captain America gets ready to move the Marvel Cinematic Universe forward next month in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, let’s take a moment to look back over the history of the team that has led the way for Marvel for decades.

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Frozen Princess Elsa

Disneyphiles rejoice. In conjunction with the digital release of the massively successful Frozen, and the arrival of Thor: The Dark World on DVD/Blu-ray, Disney has launched its own movie streaming service, where fans will be treated to a full catalogue of Disney, Pixar, and Marvel releases, to the tune of more than four hundred titles up for purchase. Called Disney Movies Anywhere, as the name suggests, the multi-platform streaming service is tailored for mobility, currently available for iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, and web, and even your television via Apple TV through AirPlay or iCloud. The new cloud-based app service, powered by iTunes, is currently offering a limited time free digital download of Pixar’s massive 2004 hit, The Incredibles, when users sign up and connect their iTunes account. In addition, digital codes provided in Disney DVD/Blu-ray releases since 2008 will be redeemable upon joining of the service. Using the service will come with a variety of perks, including exclusive featurettes on a large number of titles, bonus features, and a Disney Movie Rewards points system earned via purchase of digital content.

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Thor: The Dark World (2013)

By the end of the year, we will be ten films deep in Marvel Studios mythology, which is quite a feat by any standard. While not every film can be the billion-dollar blockbuster like The Avengers or Iron Man 3, the smaller ones still make plenty of money worldwide and provide a substantial amount of connective tissue in the overall universe. In November 2013, Thor: The Dark World came out, performing about as well as its predecessor (which is to say good, but not great). The film wraps up a lot of Loki’s storyline from Thor and The Avengers, but more importantly, the mid-credits sequence leads into The Guardians of the Galaxy, due out in August 2014. For the DVD and Blu-ray release, director Alan Taylor sits down with Marvel guru Kevin Feige, villainous heartthrob Tom Hiddleston, and cinematographer Kramer Morgenthau to talk about the film and reveal the behind-the-scenes process of not just making a superhero film, but making an installment in a much larger franchise.

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NCP0010_B_comp_v018.1418

So what have you all been up to today? It’s raining something fierce here in Portland, so today was a three movie day for me. First up was Jason Bateman’s directorial debut, Bad Words, and happily it was pretty fantastic. Few actors play malicious, foul-mouthed pricks as well as Bateman. After that I watched the new Criterion Blu-ray of Michael Mann’s debut, Thief. I’d never seen it before, but it should surprise no one when I say I loved it. The visual stylings, themes, and preferred pacing that would go on to mark his career are all present in his first film. Amazing stuff. Finally, I watched one from way back in Brian De Palma’s career with Arrow’s new Blu-ray of Phantom of the Paradise. It’s an interesting and somewhat fun watch, but it’s easy to see why it hasn’t caught on as anything more than a cult classic. Anyway. Here’s that trailer for Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy that you’ve all been waiting for.

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Marvel is everywhere right now. Everywhere. You can’t take two steps without hearing how Johnny Depp might be Doctor Strange or how the actor who just shared a steamy on-screen romance with Matt Damon will now share a steamy on-screen romance with a few ant farms’ worth of insects or how Abraham Van Helsing will glare and shake his fist menacingly at the Avengers or how Johnny Depp probably won’t be Doctor Strange. Also Michael Pena is up for an Ant-Man role, and that’s neat. But as a wise man once said, when you have access to Sir Ben Kingsley, use Sir Ben Kingsley. That hasn’t been forgotten in all this Marvel mayhem, as the first clip from the one-shot All Hail the King is now available for our viewing consumption. Written and directed by Iron Man 3 screenwriter Drew Pearce, the short stars Kingsley as (and this would be a spoiler, obviously, to those who haven’t seen Iron Man 3) Trevor Slattery, the party-hardy thespian who posed as the Mandarin for the bulk of the film.\

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Dr Orpheus - Venture Bros

Dr. Orpheus from The Venture Bros. (as seen looking scholarly above) is a perfect example of Marvel‘s problem with making a Doctor Strange movie. Mostly because his grand silliness is all I can think about when I imagine someone bringing Strange to life on the big screen. Orpheus is a stellar parody which points out that Strange is dated in a way that, say, Iron Man isn’t. A guy in a flying metal suit with a bunch of munitions makes gut-level sense as a hero. Hell, even Thor has a grounding in a real-world mythological structure we’re familiar with, but when you have a guy screaming about Hoggoth and doing magic in a cinematic universe built ostensibly on humans advancing through science, you run into an issue. Specifically, whoever is going to play the character runs into the issue of not looking like Dr. Orpheus. According to Latino Review, that might be Johnny Depp. The rumor is that he’s met with Marvel about the role, and in general it sounds like a good fit for one reason: Jerry Bruckheimer won’t be involved. Yes, it’s another opportunity for Depp to go crazy. John Gholson hit the nail on the head earlier today with this tweet:

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Superman Death

The next three years in the theater will be inundated with mutants, aliens, sorcerers, gods both good and evil, and sentient machines, all vying for your fandom and dollars. The reign of the comic book film may seem to have already been fully realized, with 2008′s Iron Man generally marked as the poured foundation in the house that Disney and Marvel Studios built, culminating in 2012′s The Avengers. Disney and Marvel’s combined audaciousness in envisioning and executing with unprecedented success the interweaving franchises of Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, and making Hulk work in spite of three films of which none of the original leads transition to the ensemble, is remarkable. It’s a blueprint for success that, oddly, film historians decades from now may mark as the first nail in the coffin of a genre that needlessly accelerated its own demise, and which damaged the success and viability of smaller, less mainstream offerings under its super-powered umbrella at the expense of getting while the getting is good.

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Thor: The Dark World

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Ant-Man

Well, that was fast. Overnight, news broke that Paul Rudd was in negotiations to star as Ant-Man for Edgar Wright’s Marvel movie. Now we’ve got some footage of the actor testing out the suit from an inside source. It’s obviously not theater quality, but it’s a clear look at the design for the character, and the action is far more intense then you’d expect from a typical screen test. It starts deep in a forest where the hero is fighting (rather futilely) against a diabolical, technologically advanced piece of weaponry — and it’s all downhill from there. For those doubting Rudd can handle the badass nature of a superhero, prepare to be sold:

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Paul Rudd - The Shape of Things

There’s your Hank Pym everyone. To be fair, he could be Scott Lang or Eric O’Grady, but he’s definitely Ant-Man. According to The Wrap, Paul Rudd has begun negotiations to play the shrinking superhero for Edgar Wright‘s 2015 film. The only thing the article gets wrong is in calling Ant-Man a comedic character. There’s no doubt that Wright will bring some dry humor to the project, but the main character is a committed man of science, often singularly-focused, majorly conflicted and (thanks to Ultron) sometimes deeply unstable. But it’s easy to make the comic connection to Rudd. In the past few years, he’s settled into a public image as a semi-Straight Man comedian. Judd Apatow and Anchorman have ensured that, but his range as an actor is far larger than a disarming smile and unblinking delivery. For some, be’ll always be Josh from Clueless (or some grown-up variation), but the reason Rudd’s casting in Ant-Man is so perfect is his work as the desperate loser Adam Sorenson in The Shape of Things. Weakness, aggression, massive inner conflict, uneasiness and a profound lack of self-esteem were all present alongside genuine joy and kindness. I’m not saying those attributes will color Ant-Man, but it’s reassuring to know that Rudd can build a rounded character with the ability to drop jaws and break hearts. If you don’t need that in your CGI-fest, no sweat. Personally, I think it’s time we expect more from our superhero movies. Marvel has earned a lot of trust with their track record […]

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Sinister Six

This is excellent. Sony announced late last night via their viral ElectroArrives website that they — not to be outdone by Warners — are also looking to copy Marvel’s recipe for bank truck deliveries. Only they get to do it with a Marvel property. The interesting twist is that they want to do it with villains instead of heroes. Up first are Venom and The Sinister Six, swirling around in the ether even as ASM3 and ASM4 are also being talked about. However, they aren’t exactly doing it piecemeal; Drew Goddard, Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, Jeff Pinker and Ed Solomon are all working together to create a cohesive universe out of a comic book world that doesn’t easily lend itself to it. If those names make you smile while shivering, you’re having the right response. For more conflicting feelings, Kurtzman is directing Venom from his own script co-written with Orci and Pinker (with probably zero chance they’ll call on this guy for creative input) while Goddard will be writing and directing The Sinister Six.

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published: 04.19.2014
A-
published: 04.19.2014
B+
published: 04.18.2014
C-
published: 04.18.2014
C

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