The Avengers

Avengers: Age of Ultron

The release of Avengers: Age of Ultron may be nearly a year away, but that doesn’t mean that excitement for the Joss Whedon-directed Marvel sequel isn’t already at something resembling a fever pitch. Wait, no, that’s just the sound of Marvel fans presumably already lining up for the studio’s Comic-Con presentation. Hope you brought your best air mattress, guys. In anticipation of both the film itself and the sure-to-be-massive Marvel presentation, Entertainment Weekly has spent the past few days teasing fans with details from its newest issue, one that’s covered (literally) with Age of Ultron and that contains a bevy of Comic-Con information for fans to enjoy. The new issue is crammed with a ton of information about the film — including some compelling insights into characters both new and old, some tantalizing little tidbits about its plot, and plenty of new pictures — but we’ve distilled down the basics, in case you’re just really busy or something? If you haven’t checked your mail yet, or the idea of getting over to a bookstore or newsstand seems too complicated to comprehend right now (it’s Friday, you’re tired), we’ve gathered every bit of Avengers goodness to hit the web this week, thanks to Entertainment Weekly’s massive Comic-Con issue (a double!). Feel like picking this one up now? Yeah, you probably should.

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Netflix Roulette Experiment

Last night, I let Netflix Roulette pick what movies I was going to watch. The program virtually digs through all the streaming options on the site notorious for not having quality streaming options and comes up with a link that only the bold should click on. It’s not really all that crazy. We let people suggest movies all the time. Friends, critics we consistently agree and disagree with, memes. I thought, “how bad could it really be?” The answer isn’t 0 stars, but it’s pretty close. Admittedly, that little red “Spin” button held a mystical kind of power to it when I committed to letting it decide my cinematic destiny. Probably because there’s something different about opening up a massive library and throwing a digital dart into the wind. Netflix Roulette is like a box of chocolates, and to be honest, I wasn’t exactly sure what my goal was beyond exploring Netflix in a different way (and maybe seeing it for what it really is). Half-baked as it all was, I pressed the red button and dove beyond the movie veil of ignorance. Here’s what I saw.

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Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson in Captain America The Winter Soldier

The latest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, is a pretty solid comic book movie. But it is still a comic book movie, complete with a lot of ridiculous plot points that we should know to just let slide. Well, I can suspend disbelief for the sake of entertainment while I’m watching and enjoying the thing, but later I also enjoy pondering its logic and gaps regarding certain important details. I don’t necessarily like the movie any less for these faults (this movie’s true flaws are in the direction anyway), and in fact sometimes the more I ask these sorts of questions, the more I like greater discussions they take me to. Given that this is just a single puzzle piece in a large scheme of intertwining and forward-moving blockbusters, maybe all the questions I have left over are yet to be answered. Maybe the information I seek is in the pages of the comics — though this shouldn’t be since the MCU is separate from the universe found in Marvel’s pages, past and present, and has a ton of differences. Obviously, the following inquiry is full of spoilers, so beware if you haven’t seen the Captain America sequel and care to. 

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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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Peggy Carter in Captain America: The First Avengers

If Superman is the boy scout of DC Comics, then his goody-two-shoes counterpart in the Marvel universe is Captain America. Fitting in nicely with the squeaky clean stereotype of the soldier who fights for truth, justice and the American way, Steve Rogers exemplifies all of the ideals of the classic American hero. He doesn’t drink. He doesn’t smoke. He doesn’t womanize. He fiercely believes in just one God, even though he happens to personally know two other gods from Norse mythology, and he has rippling abs and bulging biceps. However, this clean cut image is not all a conscious decision. In the film Captain America: The First Avenger, he explains that he doesn’t drink only because he is being a good guy. Instead, he doesn’t drink because his body metabolism is so efficient in processing toxins that alcohol basically has no effect on him. And that got me thinking… super soldier or not, this would suck for Steve Rogers at your average Fourth of July picnic. Could Captain America ever get drunk?

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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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Marvel Hulkbuster Iron man

Last night, ABC aired a special on Marvel Studios called Assembling a Universe, in which its past, present and known future were laid out. There weren’t any big revelations, but there were plenty of new images to gaze upon, including cool concept art from Avengers: Age of Ultron. Check out our gallery of all the necessary bits by clicking on the image above or clicking right here.

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The Avengers

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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superman-the-movie-1978-marlon-brando-as-jor-el-sentences-general-zod-non-and-ursa

It’s only a coincidence that I’m writing this on the day Man of Steel hits home video, and it has nothing to do with the approaching 35th anniversary of Superman: The Movie. Rather, it’s something I’ve been wondering during the discussions of the latest Marvel movie post-credits “stingers.” Thor: The Dark World finishes with three separate teases. The first (not a stinger) comes before the credits and hints at something that will presumably be dealt with in Thor 3. The next comes midway into the credits and introduces a character and teases plot that is part of the larger Marvel/Avengers franchise storyline. And the third is just a funny post-credits scene that I expect to be the vaguely reported link between the film and an upcoming Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode. Personally, I have no problem with these or any stingers. The midway scene in Thor 2 is pretty goofy, though, and has been met with the usual confusion that, hopefully for Marvel’s sake, translates into curiosity instead of annoyance. And perhaps the way they’re done is a little tired, so maybe it is time to try something different. Like a prologue stinger. I don’t know if that phrase makes sense (I’m not totally sure of where the term stinger comes from), but here’s what I mean: set up the next film before the latest even begins. For the one and only example, as far as I know, look to the opening of the first Superman, which features the trial of […]

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The-Avengers-Thor-and-Agent-Coulson

In this day and age, it’s hard to tell if a movie/TV series crossover is more beneficial to theatrical attendance for the former or ratings for the latter. Perhaps it’s to work both ways in the Marvel Cinematic Universe announcement that Thor: The Dark World is going to connect pretty directly with events in NBC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. This isn’t a surprise nor is it that new for the series to feature references to the Marvel movies. Agent Coulson’s story arc has been connected to what happened to him in The Avengers since the start and will continue until we’re given more details of how the character was resurrected following “The Battle of New York.” And a couple episodes have involved the Extremis serum first seen in Iron Man 3. I haven’t seen the new Thor sequel yet, so I have no speculation to offer regarding the plot connection, but I can’t imagine it being too significant. The movie won’t be ending with a “To be continued on television in Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” that’s for sure. We’re being given two weeks from the opening of The Dark World to the airing of the episode in question (“The Well”), but will the show actually depend on us seeing the movie in that time? That could potentially alienate some viewers who might want or need to wait for the movie to hit video to see it. And with ratings for the show continuing to decline in both the U.S. and UK, […]

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Vin Diesel Sub-Mariner

Just when we thought the dream casting stage was over, Vin Diesel‘s true Marvel Studios role is back up in the air. Yes, the Riddick star is set to voice Groot in next year’s Guardians of the Galaxy, but according to his statements in an interview with Extra host Maria Menounos this week, Diesel is also still on board for an actual physical part in the Avengers franchise universe. Specifically, he reiterates that his initial meeting with Marvel was for a Phase Three character that will debut in 2016. We’d heard that clarification previously but it was thought the Groot voice casting had replaced that other gig. Instead it seems Groot was just to appease Diesel’s fanbase while Marvel continues to work with the actor on the other 2016 thing. So, let the speculation ensue once again. What Marvel Studios Universe character could, should, would, will Diesel portray? The names on the table before are back on the table now, with good guy Vision and bad guy Thanos topping the predictions. Diesel hints that the role would involve a “merging of brands,” but that could be interpreted a number of different ways. He could be starring in a reboot of Blade for all that means, so long as they bring the vampire hunter into the Avengers world. He could be Namor, which would be another fine jab at DC’s weakness in getting their big properties onto the big screen (because Namor is Marvel’s Aquaman). Rights to a Namor film are […]

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James Spader

In news that makes perfect sense when you think about it, Marvel has announced that James Spader has been cast as the maniacal sentient robot Ultron in Avengers: Age of Ultron. This comes as a different sort of role for the actor, who generally plays maniacal human beings. Marvel did not reveal whether or not Spader would be performing motion-capture, as Mark Ruffalo does to play The Hulk or Vin Diesel will do for Groot in Guardians of the Galaxy, or just providing his voice to the character. Regardless, it’s sure to be unnerving. Slap a cardboard box robot costume on Spader and it would probably still be an effective villain. Spader seems well-suited for the role, which writer-director Joss Whedon modified just a bit (as our own Scott Beggs recently wrote about). Think of Ultron as artificial intelligence with a God complex. He’s a robot with feelings. Horrible, horrible feelings. But he’s also no longer magical: “He’s always trying to destroy the Avengers, goddamn it, he’s got a bee in his bonnet, Whedon said. “He’s not a happy guy, which means he’s an interesting guy. He’s got pain. And the way that manifests is not going to be standard robot stuff. So we’ll take away some of those powers because at some point everybody becomes magic, and I already have someone [a new character, Scarlet Witch] who’s a witch. As a character I love him because he’s so pissed off.”

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Avengers Animatics

A group of villagers trudging through the jungle, a convoy carrying some heavy weaponry and a mysterious quadriplegic, Iron Man causing vehicles to crash and guns to be drawn. This isn’t how The Avengers re-introduced Tony Stark to the world, but it could have been. Comic Book Movie has scored four fantastic animatics (which you can watch below) from Federico D’Alessandro who did the work of bringing the 2010 and 2011 script drafts to graphite life. There’s a thrilling tunnel chase, a devastating arrow from Hawkeye, an evil Jarvis, and an extended final battle sequence, but maybe the most bittersweet lost element is the brief glimpse we get at Joss Whedon‘s take on Wasp. She could have been a major part of the movie, but her inclusion was dropped as development progressed. She may be around for future Marvel adventures, but for now she survives in these scrapped sequences.

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elizabeth-olsen-cannes-festival-25

We’ve known for months that Scarlet Witch and her brother Quicksilver would be newest addition to the Avengers in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Aaron Taylor-Johnson has been circling the Quicksilver role for what feels like years, but it looks like his superheroine sister has beaten him to the punch. Elizabeth Olsen, the younger (and far more talented) sister of the Olsen twins and star of Martha Marcy May Marlene and the upcoming Oldboy and Godzilla reboots, is now in final talks for the role. Scarlet Witch (who, along with her brother Quicksilver, have been a members of the Avengers since the 1960′s) has one of the most bizarre superpowers in Marvel Comics – specifically, the ability to cast hexes and manipulate probabilities. That sounds excruciatingly dull, I know; normally it translated into magically wishing bad luck upon her opponents via collapsing floors, exploding gas mains or misfiring weapons. In recent years she’s been upgraded a few times, to the extent that she can now alter the very fabric of reality.

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Groot Guardiand of the Galaxy

Actor Vin Diesel has been playing coy about his possibly playing a role in a Marvel Studios film. You will recall back in late June he dropped a note on his Facebook page about being called in for a meeting and not knowing what for. We all speculated that he could be cast as Namor or Ant-Man or Vision or Thanos. When asked during Comic-Con for an update, all he would say is that we would get “some very big news coming at the end of this month.” Well, the end of that month (July) came and went and we got nothing. Then yesterday’s D23 presentation on upcoming Marvel movies came and went and we again heard nothing more on Diesel’s role in the Avengers franchise. So, when the heck are we going to get an announcement? The answer to that question is still unknown, but we did get yet another tease today from Diesel himself, once again via his Facebook page. And it’s the sort of hint that is either a total red herring or it’s a direct yet unstated revelation. Diesel posted a picture of Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy, implying that he’ll be voicing the non-human character. That’s really exciting for anyone who prefers their Diesel roles heard but not seen — a la the title robot in The Iron Giant. We’ll not only have to wait to hear official confirmation on this from the people at Disney, but we’re now also curious if the giant […]

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Tom_Hiddleston_as_Loki_op_800x583

Was Loki your favorite part of The Avengers? Do you have fond memories of seeing the Asgardian villain create chaos everywhere he went, trying to take down the intrepid band of superheroes and S.H.I.E.L.D. agents while also getting pummeled by the Hulk? Well too bad, because Tom Hiddleston just confirmed to Entertainment Weekly that the god of mischief will not be appearing in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Apparently, he and writer-director Joss Whedon are in agreement that Loki’s story was played out to completion in the first film, and the sequel to the 2012 hit will focus on a new villain for the Avengers to battle. Hiddleston’s fine with it – no, really. “When I think of all the things I loved as a child, for example, Hans Gruber wasn’t in Die Hard 2. And in Indiana Jones, by the time he moved from the Lost Ark to the Temple of Doom, there was a whole new bad guy. I think keeping it fresh and new is good for The Avengers even though it’s a shame for me,” he tells EW.

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SHIELD-cast

It was just last May when we got our first look at genre TV legend Joss Whedon’s take on the Marvel Universe via his blockbuster feature The Avengers, and that look was good. It was good indeed. But The Avengers was so well-loved that the wait for another Whedon and Marvel team-up has begun to feel endless already. The good news is that we don’t have to wait until The Avengers 2 in 2015 to get another taste of Whedon handling superhero stuff though, because Marvel also put him in charge of putting together their upcoming primetime network television drama, Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD. And still, while Whedon getting a chance to develop another TV show is dream come true enough for fans of things like Buffy and Firefly, and the fact that this new show will give us a chance to see Whedon dabbling in the Avengers universe again in 2013 is added icing on the cake, Marvel and the network who’s going to be airing Agents of SHIELD, ABC, have been kind of jerking us around when it comes to telling us when the show is actually going to premiere. Here we are all jittery and agitated, looking for another fix, and all they’ve given us is the generic promise of “coming this fall!” Thankfully for our sanity, with the release of ABC’s new fall schedule, the premiere date for Whedon’s new show has finally been confirmed.

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CaptAm_Teaser_1-Sht_v3

There’s still a little over a week before Comic-Con unleashes all sorts of trailers, posters, and other goodies upon a horde of screaming fans, but Marvel has decided to whet fans’ appetite a little early with the first teaser poster for Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

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benedict-cumberbatach-take-a-shower-of-evil-in-star-tr

There sure was a lot to talk about with a certain summer blockbuster this week. So much that this week’s Reject Recap is nearly half-filled with highlights of stuff written on Star Trek Into Darkness. And yes, the villain’s name comes up. It’s not a spoiler anymore. Everyone knows. And it doesn’t even matter if you know or not. Just like it doesn’t matter if Alice Eve has a gratuitous underwear scene or Benedict Cumberbatch has a shower scene if neither of them is otherwise an interesting character — and that’s a more worthwhile debate for this particular film, too. Anyway, I’ve spread the Trek links a bit, giving them the even alternating slots because there used to be (no longer, apparently) that rule that even-numbered Trek films were the good ones. Anything else happen in the past seven days? Well, our man in Cannes, Shaun Munro reviewed I think 400 movies, give or take a few. Arrested Development is returning this weekend so we had something fun to share related to that. And filmmaker Sean Hackett (Homecoming) shared a personal essay in the hopes of helping bullied movie fans out there. Two highlights come from outside the FSR gates this week, and as usual I invite you to suggest great writing on film to include here in the future. Because we can’t always cover everything, and I can’t always read everything. Oh, and one more great thing from the past week, which we humbly didn’t highlight among the ten: […]

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leader

Remember when Tim Blake Nelson‘s noggin started looking all funky in The Incredible Hulk? Well, if you don’t, it happened around the point where the Hulk and the Abomination starting ripping each other apart. While those two worked out their problems, Dr. Samuel Sterns was having a makeover. Before the finale, we saw Sterns crack a smile while making his transformation into The Leader, the brilliant green-skinned Marvel baddie. He’s a villain favorite for some, possibly even the makers of The Amazing Spider-Man, who used one of his more famous schemes for The Lizard’s grand plan. The Leader is a very comic book-y type of villain, one that could have been too much for Marvel’s Phase I, but now that the studio has pushed the boundaries of its scientific status, bringing back actor Tim Blake Nelson to terrorize The Hulk or The Avengers is a solid idea. Louis Leterrier would seem to agree. Speaking with him recently, I asked whether there was ever serious talk over using The Leader in future films.

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