And there came a day, a day unlike any other, when Earth’s mightiest heroes were united against a common threat — to fight foes no single hero could withstand.
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.
So after a few weeks of daydreaming and being all cutesy-wootsie, I figure it’s about time I stir the pot a little. Let me get behind this wire mesh wall, force field, and don some protective gear. There. Safe and secure. Ahem…
Marvel’s female superheroes suck.
Don’t believe me? OK. Name the first few Marvel superheroes that come to mind. I’ll give you a minute. Who did you say…Spider-Man? Thor? Captain America? How about Iron Man? Hmm. No double X chromosomes there. The last big event to revolve around a woman? Oh yeah! House of M. The one where Marvel showed that a chick who ain’t barefoot and preggers goes crazy and resets the universe at will. Now there’s a feather in a feminists’ cap.
When I say “important women of Marvel,” aren’t they are always the yin to the yang of a more powerful man? Pepper Potts. Sorry Matt Fraction, you can put a repulsor in her chest, you can give her a code name, but she’s still just Tony’s secretary. Mary Jane Watson-Parker-Watson-by-way-of-a-retcon? Face it tiger, she’s just there to fall off buildings. Maria Hill? Nick Fury’s assprint hadn’t even cooled off before she was ousted back down to who-cares-ville. And when we open the discussion to those ladies who carry the hero badge? It doesn’t get any better.
Sue Storm, the matriarch of the Future Foundation. The soul of the Fantastic Four. Completely boring and useless without her husband. The best writers of Sue have always pegged her as a strong and independent woman. But take her away from Reed, Ben, or the children and the only bullet point left on her resume is part-time booty call for Namor.
Black Widow: slut with guns. How about Ms. Marvel? I’ll be completely honest. I don’t know a thing about her. Best I could tell? She was brought in because Marvel has no Wonder Woman, so they threw her on the Avengers. Beyond that I assume they keep her around because cute girls can show off their butts by cosplaying as her. What of the X-Men? Well, Jean Grey has died only 17 times, and has changed names to various permutations of “Phoenix,” all to what effect? She’s Cyclop’s gal. She maybe did Wolvie in a closet while Slim was waxing his car. And in the Ultimate Universe, maybe she did Charles too.
Let’s not forget Storm. She was married off to Black Panther so they could make super-black-babies that will invariably land on some future iteration of the X-Avengers. Not because they’ll be well written mind you… but they will add that “affirmative action” flavor John Stewart was used for back in the JLA.
I say this obviously not just to be cranky. I openly yell to the heavens for someone to come in and make the women matter again. Joss Whedon put Kitty Pride and the White Queen front and center in his amazing run on Astonishing X-Men. More than that, he made them more than worthless eye-candy in butt floss. He gave them dimension, and class. They weren’t in peril for perils’ sake.
Given Whedon’s pedigree for good female characterization, it didn’t come as a surprise. Whedon aside, other Marvel writers certainly have the know-how. Matt Fraction, Brian Michael Bendis and Jonathon Hickman are all amazing writers who know the ins and out of nuance. They’ve each made the females in their books (yes that includes Pepper in the aforementioned Iron Man series) very potent. But my gripe remains the same.
It’s not enough to write a woman as powerful, smart, and put-together. It’s the act of writing them as such that they are more than decoration. Throughout Marvel’s recent history, it’s been a literal boys-club. Civil War? Captain America and Iron Man fighting in the sandbox. Secret War? An excuse to make Norman Osbourn king of the playground – until sales dipped, and people stopped caring. And now we have Fear Itself, which as far as I can tell is only an excuse to half-kill Thor, and dress everyone up in Tron-stripes.
I yearn just once to have a female character in any of these situations stand up and set the world straight. Not to say it’s happened in the DC ever… but I actually believe Marvel has the smarts to actually do it. In this day and age where the DCnU turns Starfire and Catwoman into sultry sluts with no character trait beyond their cup size… I look to the House of Ideas to set the industry right.
When DC was making up Kryptonite and the color yellow the ultimate weapons against its heroes, Marvel figured out that debt, responsibility, and a guilty conscience was far better. Let us hope that in the coming times, they take the next step and realize that women are more than tits and tiny costumes. They are the fairer sex, the stronger characters, and perhaps the last untouched resource for superior fiction.
Marvel Comics released a wide variety of posters at the San Diego Comic-Con this weekend with Chris Evans as Captain America, Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, Scarlett Johannson as the Black Widow, Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk, Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Clark Gregg as Agent Phil Coulson, and Cobie Smulders as Agent Maria Hill, all in advance of the May 2012 release of the Avengers movie directed by Joss Whedon, and all making a giant poster after it’s all, ahem, assembled.
The images were created by Marvel Studios Co-Visual Development Supervisor Ryan Meinerding and Charlie Wen. Check ’em out.
I wish I could put my finger on exactly why Marvel’s animated efforts leave me cold. Time and again the vocal casting, character design or animation displays cheap production values and they are far from entertaining. The latest such offering is [[[The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes]]], which has been airing on Disney XD and is now available in two DVDs released this week by parent company Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment.
The cartoons are based more on the feature film reality than the comic book source material the films were based on, but there’s enough material borrowed from the comics it feels like a mixed bag. We start with a cocky Tony Stark who chases Hydra for stealing Stark Industries technology, which was actually taken from S.H.I.E.L.D. Meantime, it’s a world of countless super-villains, captured somehow and locked away in one of four unique facilities – the Vault, the Cube, the Big House, and the Raft.
But it’s a world without the Avengers. Iron Man is the only established hero, while the Hulk is on the run, and Ant-Man and the Wasp focus entirely on scientific research, preferring to keep Nick Fury at arm’s length. Then there’s Thor, who loves Earth but doesn’t seem overly engaged with its super-villains. Meanwhile, in Africa, T’Challa has just assumed the Black Panther mantle and wants revenge against, Klaw, who was instrumental in his father’s death.
Beyond the Hydra conspiracy, Bruce Banner worries that General Thunderbolt Ross and maybe S.H.I.E.L.D. want to build their own army of Hulks. Then there’s Kang the Conqueror who blames Captain America for somehow destroying his timeline and wants to alter a sequence of events.
That’s about par for comic book storytelling but everything feels incredibly disjointed. Maybe that has something to do with its origins, with the show actually conceived as a 20-part microseries of animated tales that debuted online then became edited into 22-minute episodes for cable. Mimicking the 2012 feature film, now in production, the team is composed of Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Ant-Man and Wasp with tons of other heroes working solo or for S.H.I.E.L.D. including Black Widow and Hawkeye (also because of the film series). (more…)
As I begin to type this, on a rainy Sunday afternoon, there are only 211 days left before someone else lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, near the Potomac. I tell you this, not because it has anything to do with what follows, but to perhaps lend a note of cheer to your hour.
I didn’t stay through all of the Iron Man flick’s end credits, but I should have because my friend Ken Pisani told me that Samuel L. Jackson has a brief scene in which, in the persona of Nick Fury, he reveals to Robert Downey’s Tony Stark that he represents an organization called, in acronym-crazed Sixties fashion, S.H.I.E.L.D. Dissected, that meant Supreme Headquarters International Espionage Law Enforcement Division when the organization first appeared in 1965. It was later changed to stand for Strategic Hazard Intervention Espionage Logistics Directorate, which was probably more au courant, but is no less a mouthful.
It is a nifty coincidence, but no more than a coincidence, that S.H.I.E.L.D. makes a big screen appearance at about the time as another espionage-themed entertainment with roots in the spy-mad decade of peace and love, Get Smart, gets into the malls.
It is not a coincidence that the current tv promos for another popcorn movie, The Incredible Hulk, tells us that Marvel has done it again, thus making a solid connection between theaters and comic shops. So, we don’t go to the multiplex to see a superhero movie, we go to see a Marvel superhero movie. This is called “branding” and it means, as I understand it, the identification of a group of products as a single, collective entity. You, fashionista that you are, don’t buy a suit, you buy a Brooks Brothers suit because the Brooks Brothers label guarantees a certain level of quality and a certain approach to the creation of clothing. (And aren’t you a bit young to be dressing so conservatively?)
Did you happen to, like me, not stay through the credits of Iron Man to see that top-secret meeting between Tony Stark and Nick Fury of S.H.I.E.L.D.? Well, now you can catch it on YouTube, or by clicking the video player below.
It’s some bootleg, Blair Witch-style footage, so we’ll see how long it stays up.
One of the things made Marvel Comics stand out from other publishers back in the Silver Age was the concept of a shared universe. Other publishers would have guest stars every now and then, but Stan Lee reasoned that if all these costumed types were all running around New York City, they should be bumping into each other left and right. And fans loved it.
Marvel Studios is taking a cue from its comics roots and is having Iron Man star Robert Downey Jr. cameo as inventor Tony Stark in this summer’s other Marvel superhero movie The Incredible Hulk.
“It happens to be a scene where I basically approach [William Hurt’s character, General Ross], and we may be considering going into some sort of limited partnership together,” Downey stated.
Downey also teased that another unnamed star would appear in the Iron Man credits. Maybe the Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury rumor buzz we’ve been hearing? Hmm. We’ll be sure to stay in our seats until the end for both movies this summer.
The Maine based American comics artist is apparently still at it, but Frank is most famous for drawing DC’s The Secret Six and Marvel Comics’ Dazzler and Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. In addition, he was also responsible (along with National Lampoon / Saturday Night Live writer Michael O’Donoghue) for one of the first risque, adults-only graphic novels, TheAdventures of Phoebe Zeit-Geist. What with Ms. Phoebe finding herself in brutal, not light nor playful bondage situations, Springer may have been one of the first to bring the whole cartoon fetish/borderline porn trend to the intelligencia in the pages of The Evergreen Review.
With one thing leading to the next, we might even want to blame him for Hentai.
In presenting its 2Q 2007 report yesterday, Marvel unveiled that it is producing Hulk Smash, a new animated direct-to-DVD movie that will be released by Lionsgate in October 2008. Concerning its first two self-produced live-action feature films, Marvel has completed production on Iron Man while The Incredible Hulk began production in July, and the two movies are slated for release in 2008 on May 2 and June 13 respectively. Marvel’s additional movie, TV and stage projects in the works include:
Wolverine (Fox) – Gavin Hood to direct and Hugh Jackman stars
Punisher 2 (Lionsgate) – Lexi Alexander will direct, starring newcomer Ray Stevenson.
As we noted in yesterday’s Big ComicMix Broadcast, in development at Marvel Studios we have:
Ant-Man, writers Edward Wright and Joe Cornish; Wright also directs
Captain America, David Self/writer
Nick Fury, Andrew Marlow/writer
Thor, Mark Protosevich/writer
The Avengers, Zak Penn/writer.
In animated TV series development:
Spider-Man, with Sony, with a distribution deal in place with Kids’ WB
Wolverine and The X-Men (26 episodes) developed by India’s First Serve Toonz
Iron Man (26 episodes) developed by Method Films in France.
There are two more animated direct-to-video DVDs with Lionsgate: Doctor Strange comes out next week and Teen Avengers is slated for July 2008.
And finally, the most terrifying project that’s literally in the wings: Spider-Man the Musical, featuring music and lyrics by U2’s Bono and The Edge the show will be directed by Julie Taymor, and produced by Hello Entertainment/David Garfinkle, Martin McCallum, Marvel Entertainment, and SONY Pictures Entertainment.
Sometime following the release of the next X-Men movie – a solo Wolverine feature starring Hugh Jackson – noted comics writer (JSA) and movie producer / director / writer (Batman Begins, Blade, Ghost Rider, The Crow: City of Angels, Nick Fury, The Dark Knight, plus last week’s The Invisible) David Goyer will be directing the second X-Men spin-off, Magneto.
The movie will focus on Magneto’s "origin" – the time he spent in a Nazi concentration camp (as seen in both comics and the X-Men movies) and the years following his liberation. Whereas Sir Ian McKellen has gone on record saying he wanted to star in the movie and that they could "de-age" him with the sort of CGI effects used in X-Men III, it is expected he will only appear in framing sequences and another actor will play the younger character.