Marvel’s promise that everything will change after Captain America: The Winter Soldier was no understatement. A solid plot, witty banter, some very surprising returns and couple seeds for future films resulted in what may well be the best Marvel film yet. Marvel seems dedicated to show that not all comic book movies are the same. The upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy is clearly set up to be an action comedy, and Winter Soldier is at its heart a political intrigue thriller. It still carries the hi-tech trappings and gadgets of a superhero story, but it’s a much more grounded film, touching on rather sober topics like dealing with life back home after a term in combat, the eternal questions of how much freedom will people surrender in the name of safety, and the simple question, “Who do you trust?”. There’s no way to discuss the film without hitting numerous spoilers, so before we do this, does anyone want to get off? (more…)
Tagged: Chris Evans
Here’s a new clip that was shown during the Captain America: The Winter Soldier world premiere red carpet event, showing Captain America (Chris Evans) and the Falcon (Anthony Mackie) in action.
Well, everybody else has the Avengers gag reel, so why not us? See Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Gwynneth Paltrow, Jeremy Renner, Scarlett Johansson, Clark Gregg, Cobie Smulders, Mark Ruffalo, Samuel L. Jackson, and somebody named Joss and how they spent their summer vacation playing Avengers vs. Chitauri. Watch it now, and you’ll feel better for the entire day.
Gag Reel from “Avengers” by Flixgr
We each saw The Avengers at fan-filled midnight screenings, separately but equally. We tried to avoid any spoilers here, but we can’t guarantee we hit that mark. And, being who we are, there are a couple of teasers in this dialog.
MIKE: Did you see it in 2-D, 3-D, or IMAX?
MIKE: Me too. This was the first movie ever that I can recommend in 3-D.
GLENN: Which is amazing, considering it was upsampled to 3-D. The film was converted to 3-D during post-production for the theatrical release. But it certainly paid off.
MIKE: The 3-D imaging credits were as long as the Manhattan phone book.
GLENN: Someone asked me point blank if The Avengers is the greatest superhero movie of all time. I said I don’t know about that, it has some very tough competition. But hands down, it’s the greatest superhero battle movie of all time. Act Three in particular is just completely packed with the loving destruction of the New York skyline, and in 3-D it’s incredibly staggering. It’s also fast and fun, as compared to the smashing of Chicago in Transformers: Dark Of The Moon… that just felt drawn out and more akin to a disaster movie. Here, it’s battle, action, and a much better feeling of scope and scale.
MIKE: Yes. It was a real superhero battle in the classic Marvel sense: everybody fights each other then gets together to fight the bad guys. And I’ll never be able to look at Grand Central Terminal the same way again.
GLENN: Or the Pan-Am building. Or 387 Park Avenue South, or Marvel’s address on 40th Street. All of that and they didn’t blow up any of DC’s offices. Have we reached detente?
MIKE: Well, they blew up CBS’s first teevee studios. Which is funny, as this was a Paramount movie.
GLENN: Not really a Paramount movie, Disney bought ‘em out but they had to keep the logo on.
MIKE: And, of course, Paramount got a truckload of money and, I’ll bet, a piece.
MIKE: Did you notice they hardly ever referred to anybody by their superhero name – other than The Hulk, who is obviously different from Banner, and Thor, who is, obviously, Thor.
GLENN: I think everybody got name-checked at least once.
MIKE: Yeah. Once or twice. Period.
This past week on my podcast (which you’re not listening to, but totally should), a debate sparked that was left largely unresolved. Since I have this digital soapbox, might as well use it to bring said debate to you.
In a few weeks, the mega-multiplexes of America will be screening the culmination of years of work by the House funded by the Mouse. The Avengers will see the fruition of Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, and Captain America: The First Avenger in one massively multiplayer action adventure flick. About a month or so later, Warner Bros. unleashes the end to Christopher Nolan’s bat-child, The Dark Knight Rises. There’s no doubt in my mind that both of these movies will be amazingly profitable. But the debate is this: which will bank more bucks? Which will be a better movie? Let’s look at the tail of the tape.
First up? Marvel’s Mightiest Heroes. Behind the scenes, we have the consummate king of the nerds… Joss Whedon as director. His writer team? Well… Whedon wrote with Zak Penn. Penn you’ll note wrote the successes such as The Incredible Hulk and X2, and the failures such as X-Men: The Last Stand and Electra. On the screen itself, the cast is of course a veritable galaxy of stars. Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Scartlet Johansson, and Gwyneth Paltrow will all be in the film. Unlike any other franchise in history, The Avengers will coalesce four franchises into a single picture. From here? It’s all but a given that the there will be a sequel, as corresponding sub-sequels for all the individual characters. Can you hear that? It’s the sound of money growing on trees. Trees that became paper. Paper that became comic books.
The Dark Knight Rises, as previously mentioned, is helmed by Christopher Nolan. Nolan’s career has been nothing short of a meteoric ascent to directorial gold. Nolan also helped pen this end to his triptych with his brother Jonathan, and David S. Goyer – who, as you will recall, helped pen Batman Begins and Blade 2. And Ghost Rider: Spirit of Bad Acting. But you can’t win them all, can you?
Under the cape and cowl will once again be Christian Bale, joined by series stalwarts Michael Caine, and Morgan Freeman. The villain this go-around will be played by Tom Hardy. You’ll recognize Hardy as the mildly funny Brit in Inception. While not as big in scope as Marvel’s upcoming blockbuster, The Dark Knight Rises is the follow up to the single most profitable comic book inspired movie of all time. For those who don’t recall, The Dark Knight did so well in the movie theaters, comic retailers reported sales of The Watchmen had gone up in response (which is nothing short of amazing, if you ask any retailer these days). With TDKR, Nolan puts his series to an end. Speculation on the plot, and how things will resolve has most everyone around in a tizzy.
The question then to ask: Which movie will make more money? Needless to say, both will bank boku bucks. For the sake of this argument, I’ll remove revenue from merchandise. Why? Because face it: Nolan’s Bat-Flicks haven’t spawned successful lines of toys; Marvel’s has. Specifically speaking on ticket sales? This is quite the toss up, is it not? On one hand you have the obvious ultimate popcorn movie in The Avengers. From the trailers we can safely assume there’s going to be wall to wall action, explosions, the Hulk, fighting, one liners, and boobs. Opposing that mentality, Nolan will nab those looking for a bit more substance. Whereas Marvel’s flicks were squarely targeting tweens and teens (with a side of general comic nerds and action geeks to boot…), DC’s Bat-Franchise has been nothing if adult in its complexity.
Gun to my head… if you asked me to choose, I’d end up with the nod to the Avengers making more moolah at the end of the day. The Dark Knight had the death of Heath Ledger, on top of the oscar buzz for his performance, on top of previous audience gained from Batman Begins. But TDKR features a villain most people aren’t familiar with (Bane ain’t exactly a household name now, is he?), and a star whose potential is only just now being noticed. And if other comic book trilogies are to be looked at (Spider-Man, X-Men, and previous Bat-Incarnations), the end of an era does not always translate into positive earnings. With The Avengers, we simply have too many stars to not draw an amazing crowd. Fans of any of those feeder movies no doubt want to see a team up. It’s the whole reason books like The Avengers and Justice League always sell so well!
Now, I would give The Dark Knight Rises the edge ultimately in terms of potential film quality. Not a knock on The Avengers mind you… I think from what we’ve seen, Whedon will deliver the goods. But The Avengers has more chance to pratfall than ascend to nerdvana. With so many stars on screen, there’s a real chance too much time will be spent assembling, mocking, and joking. And we can tell much of the movie will be dealing with a Loki-lead invasion fight scene. And just how much CGI action can we effectively sit through? Given the spectacle (and disappointment) of the last Matrix movie, suffice to say I’m fretful.
With Batman, Nolan seems to have been methodically building a dramatic arc. Bruce Wayne by way of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight has been an evolving force of nature. But Nolan’s best job has been grounding that force in reality. He’s delivered where so many others have failed: comic book movies without heroic quips and a knowing wink to the camera. When that theme of the dissonant chords let us know the Joker was at work, it was truly chilling. To think that Nolan is ending this series, one must postulate he’s had an ending in mind since the start. On that knowledge, I give the edge over to DC. Simply put, I’m more excited for their flick because I genuinely do not know what will happen.
In The Avengers? I’m almost certain we’ll have the following: Loki attacks. Avengers assemble by way of initial in-fighting. Disaster. True assembling. Fighting. Explosions. Boobs. Victory. Open ending for more sequels. Not that it’s a bad formula… but it’s just that: a formula.
So, plenty of points to discuss. Flame me, Internet, for I have opinions. Will Bats take more money? Will Avengers be the Return of the King for Comic Book movies? Discuss!
SUNDAY: John Ostrander
With all the hoopla over The Avengers (or Avengers Assemble if you’re in the UK) coming to theaters on May 4, it’s worth remembering the original TV series that this was all based on, starring Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Jeremy Renner, Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Scarlett Johansson, Clark Gregg, and Samuel L. Jackson.
C’mon– don’t tell me you don’t remember this:
So I found myself with a bit of time to kill while my wife and mother-in-law went out and about for lunch. My week-old son and I decided it was time to enjoy a bit of cable TV goodness. A quick surf left with me few options. Food Network was showing yet-another cupcake show… USA was playing that episode of Everybody Loves Raymond where his wife is a shrew and his mother annoys him, and TBS was on Tyler Perry’s Black People Watch Everything I Put Out, Not That It’s Good. And FX? Callooh-Callay! They had on the Fantastic Four movie from a few years back. Given that I was still sporting half a nerd-boner for the Super Bowl Avengers spot, and the recent web-release of The Amazing Spider-Man trailer, FF seemed like the perfect way to wet my whistle for a bit of comic goodness.
Granted, I’ve seen the movie a few times. Saw it opening weekend, and didn’t hate it. Didn’t love it either, but somehow, it was one of those guilty “Hey, if it’s on, it’s really not that bad is it?” pleasures. A few hours later, my favorite ladies returned to a house with both their boys rife with a case of the cranky pants. I’m pretty sure my son Bennett had pooped himself. I didn’t have a mess in my trousers, but I had a tear in my eye. Seems I crossed that threshold where the movie stopped being “worth” the free cable viewing, and slid right into “Good lord, people paid money for this crap?” zone.
I could spend the remainder of this column dissecting how putrid the FF movie ended up being. But it’s old-hat, right? So, why not make this a turn for the positive. I’d like to outline four things Marvel can do to reboot the familial franchise into something… dare I say… more fantastic.
1. Explore the emotional origins as well as the basic plot points. We all know the bullet points by now, don’t we? On an outer space adventure… they got hit by cosmic rays. And that moment changed forever… in the most fantastic ways. No need to fear, their here… just call the four! Sorry, it was a damn catchy theme song. Suffice to say, the rocket ride with Kirby dots isn’t ALL that the origin of the FF is. You have romance between Sue and Reed. You have Ben, the stalwart pilot. Johnny, the joker, and comic relief. While these points were hit on in the last iteration, we miss the history. Use flashbacks (ala Batman Begins) to enhance our emotional ties to the characters. It’s not a race to the whiz-bang-special effects, when you have solid characterization. And each of the Four present a solid opportunity for fun beats.
2. Ditch the “We’re learning to use our powers until it matters at the end” montage. Face it. What killed Green Lantern (OK, one of the things that killed it…) was the age-old power development plot line. A solid 45 minutes of the last FF movie spent time building the revolvers it would later shoot at the movie’s climax. It’s just not needed. When you cross over into the sci-fi, plausibility takes a backseat to adventure. If we took time to dissect the fact that Luke Skywalker was able to get a shot into a teeny hole on a battle station that decimated nearly all of his backup (who were all far more experienced fighter pilots)… we’d go mad. Once you accept that “Comic Rays” can turn one man into a walking pilot light, and another into silly putty, you don’t need to spend an hour back-peddling to make us “believe” they’ll know what to do when it’s clobbering time.
3. The big villain? Mole Man. Follow me down the rabbit hole if you will. Batman Begins took a venerable B-Lister in Ra’s Al Ghul as its first antagonist. It was a smart choice. As Nolan said in countless interviews, the villain suits the arc the hero takes across the movie. In Spider-Man 2 (easily the best of Raimi’s Marvel contributions), we got a brilliant update on a pretty mort-worthy villain. And because Peter was learning to have balance in his life during the course of the movie, Doc Oc was a perfect foil. The Fantastic Four have a pretty decent rogues gallery. It’s easy to want to jump immediately to Doom or Galactus. But the first in a franchise needn’t aim so high. In both cases, those villains would outshine the stars of the film. First and foremost, it’s the FF that people should be ooohing and aaahing over. With Mole Man you have an obvious foe who will test the Four and their ability to become this odd family unit of world-savers. The villain fits the arc, as it were. Plus, it gives us a chance to recreate that iconic first issue cover on the big screen. And you know that’d be the bee’s knees.
4. Casting. Most every comic book film lands an amazing cast… even if they don’t get utilized properly. I didn’t hate anyone in the last FF iteration per say, but let’s be honest – Ioan Gruffudd looked OK but lacked the cockiness-by-way-of-supreme-intelligence. Jessica Alba was there for eye-candy only. Chris Evans stole the show, Michael Chiklis looked the part, but had no Yancy Street swagger. Ole’ Blue Eyes needs have a definitive balance between boisterous banter and tragic pathos. Some of this could easily be the scripting, but let’s say I was a casting agent? I’d cast accordingly: Jon Hamm as Mr. Fantastic. Uma Thurman as Sue Storm. Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul as Johnny Storm. And Brendan Fraser as Ben Grimm. Hamm can pull off “the smartest man in the room, with ease. Thurman is equally weighted when on screen (and can pull off shorter hair, and heroic). Paul can sling insults, and certainly could look the part… And Fraser, who I know most would say is a stretch, is built big, can pull off a New York accent, and has more potential than most nerds give him credit for. And as my Mole Man? Paul Giamatti. He’s damn good in everything.
So there you have it. I know a new FF movie is already in the works… here’s hoping someone over at Marvel is trolling my articles, and a few of my hopes and dreams gets swept into the pre-production fracas. What do you think? Voice your opinion below, true believers!
SUNDAY: John Ostrander
U.S. Release date: May 4, 2012
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Stellan Skarsgård and Samuel L. Jackson
Director: Joss Whedon
Producer: Kevin Feige
Executive Producers: Alan Fine, Stan Lee, Jon Favreau, Patricia Whitcher, Louis D’Esposito
Screenplay by: Joss Whedon
Marvel Studios presents Marvel’s The Avengers—the Super Hero team up of a lifetime, featuring iconic Marvel Super Heroes Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye and Black Widow. When an unexpected enemy emerges that threatens global safety and security, Nick Fury, Director of the international peacekeeping agency known as S.H.I.E.L.D., finds himself in need of a team to pull the world back from the brink of disaster. Spanning the globe, a daring recruitment effort begins.
Starring Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner and Samuel L. Jackson, and directed by Joss Whedon, Marvel’s The Avengers is based on the ever-popular Marvel comic book series The Avengers, first published in 1963 and a comics institution ever since. Prepare yourself for an exciting eventmovie, packed with action and spectacular special effects, when Marvel’s The Avengers assemble in summer 2012.
- “Avengers” Trailer released (comicmix.com)
Outside my window it’s January in October; the snow is falling in thick full flakes, the wind is howling, and the steam radiator is hissing and spitting heat while I write this. I just finished watching Captain America: The First Avenger. The perfect movie for a day like a day like this, when I’m all warm and cozy inside while a little Ice Age is raging on the other side of my window.
It’s a really great movie, totally true to its comic book roots, and yet with just enough of an underpinning of truth that enables – for me, at least – a total suspension of disbelief. I haven’t felt this way about a super-hero movie since I first saw Superman. Yeah, I dug Batman Begins and Dark Knight and I’m looking forward to The Dark Knight Rises. And I liked the X-Men movies, even though they were all about Wolverine – hell, the guy even makes a quick cameo (brilliantly done and totally in character) in X-Men: First Class; but Superman and Captain America are movies that leave me walking on air and just full of joi de vivre.
So much of the credit, like 99% of it, goes to Christopher Reeve’s portrayal of Superman, and I think, in the same way, 99% of the credit for the success of Captain America goes to Chris Evans. They both really get it. They get that these characters are representations of, characterizations of – no, the embodiment of the American dream, the American ideal, the “gee whiz, this is the best country in the whole world, and I am one damn lucky fellow to be living in it” experience.
When suits at Marvel made the decision a few years ago to kill Captain America, I was so upset. Honestly – and I mean this in the best possible way – it was for me as if Christopher Reeve had just died all over again. Reeves had proved himself a true Superman, a true American hero, in so many ways; and his death was, for me, an end of an era. And then, a few years later, and all for the sake of $$$, for publicity, Cap is dead. And I felt like – well, let me put it as succinctly as I can:
This country is fucked.
In 1957, Elia Kazan directed A Face In The Crowd. Starring Andy Griffith in his film debut, it’s the story of Lonesome Rhodes, a hard-drinking country-western singer pulled out of obscurity and given his own radio show by talent scout Patricia Neal. His “down-home” philosophical spiels soon lead to his own television show, leading to worshipful fans, drooling sponsors with money, and political influence. Now drunk on power instead of alcohol, Rhodes is a manipulator of Machiavellian proportion. And although A Face In The Crowd was not considered a success during its theatre run, it has proven to be, as so many of Kazan’s movies were – prescient in its depiction of the overtaking by pop culture and big business of the American political system.
And now we have Herman Cain. Everybody knows him as “The Pizza King,” and who hasn’t seen his “Imagine There’s No Pizza” performance? (John Lennon must be rolling over in his grave. Yoko, can’t you sue him or something?) But did you know that he’s also a gospel singer, and performed on the 13-track album Sunday Morning released by Selah Sound Production & Melodic Praise Records in 1996? Did you know that he writes an op-ed column that is syndicated by the North Star Writers Group to over 50 newspapers? Did you know that he has written numerous books – Leadership is Common Sense; Speak as a Leader; CEO of SELF; They Think You’re Stupid – and that the latest, This is Herman Cain: My Journey to the White House, is on the bookshelves now, and that he is not only campaigning, but on a national book tour as we speak? And did you know that, until he formally announced his candidacy, he hosted The Herman Cain Show on WSB-AM in Atlanta? Lonesome Rhodes, you’ve met your match!
So is he just a huckster peddling his wares? Well, let’s see. Did you know that Cain was on the board of directors of the Federal Reserve in Kansas City? And that he was the chairman of the Omaha branch? (It’s not surprising that Fox News never reports on that, since the Fed is one of the big bad bogeymen under attack by the Repugnanticans.) And that he sat on the boards of some of America’s biggest corporations, including Nabisco and Whirlpool?
So he ain’t just a huckster, he’s a corporate toady and a bankster too! (Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Together, are you listening?)
And since 2005, and ending when he announced his candidacy, Herman Cain worked for Americans for Prosperity (AFP), a right-wing political action committee (PAC). You know who funds AFP? The Koch brothers!!!! You know who’s Cain’s campaign manager? Mark Block, his co-worker at AFP. You know Cain’s senior economic adviser, Richard Lowrie, he of the totally huckster 9-9-9 tax plan? Guess where he met Cain? Yep. Lowrie sat on the AFP board of directors until Cain announced his candidacy.
Yeah, good ol’ Herman Cain. He’s just a regular old joe. A face in the crowd.
Watching Shane now.
Come back, Cap. Cap. Cap, come back. Come back, Cap! Caaaaaaap!!!!!!!
TUESDAY: Michael Davis
On that day… The Avengers trailer was released.
Marvel Studios presents in association with Paramount Pictures “Marvel’s The Avengers”–the Super Hero team up of a lifetime, featuring iconic Marvel Super Heroes Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye and Black Widow. When an unexpected enemy emerges that threatens global safety and security, Nick Fury, Director of the international peacekeeping agency known as S.H.I.E.L.D., finds himself in need of a team to pull the world back from the brink of disaster. Spanning the globe, a daring recruitment effort begins. Starring Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner and Samuel L. Jackson, and directed by Joss Whedon, “Marvel’s The Avengers” is based on the ever-popular Marvel comic book series “The Avengers,” first published in 1963 and a comics institution ever since. Prepare yourself for an exciting event movie, packed with action and spectacular special effects, when “Marvel’s The Avengers” assemble in summer 2012. In “Marvel’s The Avengers,” superheroes team up to pull the world back from the brink of disaster when an unexpected enemy threatens global security.