Posts Tagged ‘ Scarlett Johansson ’

Avengers Assemble Review

On paper The Avengers should not work. Movies like X-Men have shown when it comes to superhero ensembles, it can be near impossible bringing together so many larger than superheroes and make it work. If anyone could make it work however, it was writer/director Joss Whedon, whose ability for strong characterisation had long been established on the likes of Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Astonishing X-Men. Needless to say Whedon pulls of the impossible. Avengers (or Avengers Assemble for UK viewers) is without a doubt one of the best comic book movies ever made, and a fresh relief from the over cynical cinema we’re so used to.

Whedon’s script is exciting, action packed, tense and hilariously funny. The Avengers is a film that doesn’t try and take itself too seriously. The banter between characters really encapsulates what the Avengers are about. These are heroes with huge egos and flaws, on paper they shouldn’t work together, yet Whedon makes it work brilliantly. The film’s climax is an action packed extravaganza, with one glorious set piece after another. Another important aspect Whedon brings the film is how he manages to avoid falling into comic book cliché. Just when you think you have the film guessed out, Whedon thrusts you into a different direction. It’s a ridiculously fun movie, one I watched with a huge grin on my face.

Performance wise, for me Chris Evans as Captain America is the standout performer. It takes a real challenge to wear such a bright patriotic costume, and not make it silly. For those worried this film would be more like Iron Man and his Avenging Friends, rest assured, Captain America is the true leader here. In contrast Robert Downey Jr. is on scene stealing form as Tony Stark, though he gets notably more balanced screen-time with his armoured alter ego in comparison to his previous movies.

Whedon works his magic with developing strong female characters with Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow. Her performance here adds context to her disappointing outing in Iron Man 2, but completely outshines it at the same time. Critics will argue a female superhero armed with guns fighting aliens amongst monsters and gods looks silly, but Whedon makes it work. Chris Hemsworth delivers a solid performance as Thor, though I did miss the rash, arrogant god of thunder from the beginning of his previous movie.

Much praise has been given to Tom Hiddleston for his portrayal of Loki. While Hiddleston delivers a charismatic evil performance, without seeing the Thor film it’s difficult to comprehend what’s made him tick. Then again, there’s only so much you can fit in one movie. Jeremy Renner draws the short stick as Clint Barton/Haweye. While he provides some impressive action scenes towards the end of the movie, his relationship with Black Widow is never fully explored and he goes missing for far too much of the beginning act. With a career in the Bourne films shaping up, I hope this isn’t the last we see of Renner as Hawkeye in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  A hero I would like to see more of is Bruce Banner/The Incredible Hulk. In his first Marvel outing, Mark Rufallo hits the ground running as Bruce Banner, giving us a Banner that’s more comfortable with himself, as opposed to the tortured interpretation we’ve seen before. It’s his monstrous alter ego that practically reinvents himself on screen, with the Incredible Hulk providing some of the best humorous moments as well as action sequences.

The supporting cast all turn in great performances with the exception of maybe Samuel L. Jackson. His Performance feels slightly phoned in compared to the delightful Clark Gregg playing Agent Coulson. Whedon certainly gives Coulson his moment to shine, with his charming humour providing a fantastic contract to all the larger than life superheroes. His SHIELD colleague Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) has her importance, but we don’t get to see the extremely confident and strict character from the comics just yet.

If I have any serious complaints, it’s the lack of focus the film takes on Steve Rogers/Captain America’s position coming to terms with a 21st century world. During filming, Whedon was quoted as saying how the film is shown through Steve Roger’s point of view. While that’s certainly true for the first half of the film, towards the end the focus shifts towards Nick Fury/SHIELD and the whole man out of time aspect is lost. I guess this is something that can be developed in a Cap sequel though. While others have certainly criticised the inclusion of the Chitauri for being nothing more than intergalactic canon fodder, I would rather Whedon spent time developing the Avengers rather than focusing on building up the alien race.

Special effects wise, ILM deserve an Oscar nod for their work creating the Incredible Hulk. All of the action sequences also look fantastic on screen, with only a few minor flaws with the effects on the Chitauri. I saw it in IMAX and it definitely enriched the experience.

It’s going to be hard going back to solo movies for Marvel now. The Avengers sets the bar so high; will audiences be satisfied with just solo origin movies for the next few years? That’s not a complaint; it’s a testament to how good The Avengers is. Whedon is about to become the most sought out man in Hollywood, for his Avengers is a masterpiece…

5/5

Ohh and if the post-credit teaser is anything to go by, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is about to get a lot more intense…

Is Kevin Feige Wrong To Delay The Incredible Hulk 2?

The Abomination in The Incredible Hulk (2008).

The Abomination in The Incredible Hulk (2008). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s been a thunderous week for Marvel fans, as early screenings of The Avengers have gone down fantastically well with critics and fans alike! While official reviews are embargoed for the next couple of days, much praise has been given to the way the film has brought new life into the Incredible Hulk, which is why some fans are disheartened by Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige for announcing there are no plans for a Hulk sequel…

Marvel’s mindset is clearly ‘if it’s not broken, don’t try and fix it’. The Jade Giant has had two films in the last ten years, which haven’t gone down well at the box-office, 2008′s Incredible Hulk is the lowest ranked film from Marvel Studios, earning an unimpressive $263,427,551 worldwide. While The Avengers will undoubtedly open doors for new characters into the cinematic universe, ruling the Hulk out so soon is a tad drastic considering the story potential left for the character. In the two films we’ve seen the Green Goliath, all he’s done is run from the military, and face some sort of rogue science experiment in both film’s endings. There’s so much more to the character than crushing tanks and running as a fugitive.

When The Avengers pre-production geared forward, it was obvious Joss Whedon had decided to make Bruce Banner more comfortable with himself, as opposed to the tortured character we are so used to seeing. This appears to have gone down well with audiences, as most early reactions from the film point towards how well the Hulk was handled. Baring there’s not a sudden rush of scathing reviews next week, surely now is the perfect time to create the fun Hulk sequel we all wish to see. Granted there’s a television show supposedly in production, but there are still plot threads left open from 2008′s Incredible Hulk to be addressed.

Tim Blake Nelson impressed as Dr. Samuel Sterns in 2008, and we still haven’t seen how his transformation to supervillain The Leader occurs. While there is supposedly an Avengers comic book addressing the Leaders whereabouts, I feel a Hulk vs. Leader showdown would be an epic contrast to 2008′s underwhelming brawl with the Abomination.

I can’t help but feel Marvel will go back on their word and give the Hulk a sequel some time in the near future. Feige has hinted Ant-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy films are on their way as well as guaranteed Iron Man, Captain America and Thor sequels. Marvel are preparing a cinematic onslaught and I doubt they’re going to leave out one of their most beloved characters

 

New Avengers Trailer Deconstruction And Analysis

I didn’t think it was possible, but The Avengers is looking better than anybody could have ever predicted. Debuting exclusively via Apple, the new trailer offers us tons of fantastic action scenes, a closer look at Loki‘s ‘army’ and some intriguing story moments. Simply put, it was one of the best movie trailers I’ve ever seen.

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1) Continuity Counts

One of my main fears when Marvel first announced their intention to build a cinematic shared universe was that it would be difficult to interweave the separate films into the same continuity. True, there have been some hiccups here and there, and the recasting of James Rhodes/War Machine and Bruce Banner didn’t help. Thankfully though, this trailer at least confirms that the ending of Iron Man 2 will be addressed in The Avengers. I’m a strong believer that when this film hits, it’s going to bring all the Marvel films before it into better context. Plus, the new Stark tech looks fantastic.

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2) There’s Conflict In The Team

For comic book fans out there, you may have noticed how this scene looks as if it has been taken straight from the pages of Mark Millar‘s and Bryan Hitch‘s revolutionary series Ultimates 2. In the original trailer, we saw signs of hostilities between Captain America and Thor, but now this new trailer reveals more to the story. Has Loki manipulated events and turned the other Avengers against his brother? Either way, praise must be given to Joss Whedon for bringing this interesting dynamic to the team.

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3) Maria Hill Finally

Here we finally get a shot of Cobie Smulders as Agent Maria Hill standing alongside Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg). We haven’t seen much of her so far, but knowing Whedon’s talent for handling female characters, I’m sure Maria Hill will be represented well on screen.

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4) Mind Control Or Double Agent?

An interesting moment here is seeing Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) engaged in combat with her former partner Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner). First assumptions would be that Loki has somehow used mind control over Hawkeye and is able to use the Avenger as a weapon against Widow. As a big fan of The Ultimates, I can’t help but wish this shot represented Black Widow revealing herself as a double agent working against the team. I doubt that’s going to happen (there’s not even the slightest hint of Russian) but it certainly would raise the stakes of the movie to another level.

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5) More Ultimates Genius

Here is another shot that brought back memories of reading the opening of The Ultimates 2. In that universe, Cap jumping out of planes is a trademark aspect to the character and it looks brilliant on-screen in The Avengers.

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6) Hulk Is Loose

Another pivotal screenshot, this time perhaps revealing that Loki is able to control the Hulk, and even manages to chase down Black Widow possibly on board the Hellicarrier. I’m really happy with how the trailer is able to convey the mess Loki is causing. It really is exceeding my expectations.

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7) Kneel Before Zo.. Loki

Perhaps my favourite moment from the trailer, simply because it highlights how Loki isn’t on Earth to simply destroy it or invade it, he wants to rule it. Anyone following the set pictures online knows how this ends up, but for now, Loki is winning.

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8) Hawkeye Is In The Film

In case you didn’t know, Hawkeye is in this film. He only gets a few snippets of screen time in the trailer, and even Agent Coulson gets more dialogue than him. Why do I get the feeling he’s going to take down the monster revealed at the end of the trailer though?

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9) Thor Imprisoned

Once again, another scene that looks as if it has been taken straight from The Ultimates, this time revealing Thor imprisoned by SHIELD as he screams in anger. What’s interesting is that Thor is imprisoned; yet still holding his hammer Mjölnir. Why would SHIELD imprison Thor while still armed with his hammer? Something doesn’t add up, is Loki yet again behind this?

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10) The Skrulls, Or Kree, Or Something Else Entirely

We are yet again teased at the identity of Loki’s alien army. We’ve been told time and time again they’re not Skrulls, yet that seems the most logical choice. I’m beginning to think they will likely be a new race created by Whedon himself.

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11) Hulk Is A Hero

Putting aside any rumours of Hulk being a villain in this movie, here we see Hulk catching a fallen Iron Man after taking heavy fire while attacking the invading army. It’s a shot that looks as if it has been taken straight from the comics. The Hulk has slipped off radar in recent years, it looks as if Whedon is about to put him straight back at the top. Mark Ruffalo also impresses as Bruce Banner, reminiscent of the classic Bill Bixby series.

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12) The Midgard Serpent?

Easily the best Easter egg ever found in a trailer. Is this a nod to the classic Thor villain, the Midgard Serpent, or a different take on the Marvel dragon Fin Fang Foom? Either way, the mechanical beast has the potential to make for a fantastic cinematic battle. May cannot come soon enough.

Deconstructing: The Avengers Superbowl Trailer

(Warning: Spoilers In This Article)

Debuting during the Superbowl, the action packed trailer for The Avengers offers us our first glimpse of the full Avengers team assembled. Simply put, the action packed trailer was just pure brilliance. Here I will look at some of the interesting moments from the trailer, and discuss how I believe The Avengers will be one the best comic book movies of all time.

Unlike many suggestions on the internet that seem to imply the scene with Tony Stark and Steve Rogers is when they first meet, to me, it looks more like they’ve just been ordered to make up after a brief spat by Nick Fury. One thing that separates the Avengers from the Justice League is that it constantly feels as if the personalities of the Avengers team shouldn’t be together. Yet somehow, the team works brilliant. With a huge ensemble move like this, each character needs to have unique distinctive qualities, and based on what we’ve seen so far, they’re bound to clash from time to time.

Here we see Iron Man flying towards what looks to be an oncoming alien invasion. Some have argued that Iron Man is flying towards the alien mother ship, however it looks more like he is flying towards the portal that links the alien world to Earth. Upon Iron Man and the Avengers Quinjet entering the portal, it looks as if Thor thunderously lands on the Quinjet, initially believing the Avengers to be either imposters or belonging to the alien species. This is why I think Thor attacks Captain America in the previous trailer.

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We also get our first glimpse of ‘Loki‘s’ Army invading Earth. Marvel have done very well here, as they have revealed the alien army’s appearance, yet it’s still difficult to determine what species they are. Everything seems to suggest Skrull, yet FOX apparently owns the rights to them. It’s definitely not Frost Giants as some have implied, as the aliens seen here are far too technology advanced to have come from an ice realm. The same goes for Atlanteans. I’m thinking it’s a lesser-known species such as the aliens from the Breakworld or even The Sons of Muspell. Hopefully though, there will be some hidden references to army in previous Marvel films so that Nick Fury creating the Avengers feels organic like it was planned all along, and not forced for the sake of giving this movie a villain

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Whedon promised that every character in this movie would have their moment, and this trailer certainly confirms that. From Cap performing death-defying leaps, to Hawkeye shooting off arrows while free falling, it looks so far as if no character is going to get left behind.

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Seeing the team fully Assembled proves to me that Joss Whedon seems on intent on delivery the perfect comic book move. One that is action packed, over the top and not held bad by contemporary realism. He also seems to have captured the one element that other superhero ensemble movies seem to miss, teamwork! With the heroes combined, there is a sense that whatever threat they’re facing is incredibly serious, and it really adds some gravitas to the movie, which the previous trailer failed to do. My only complaint would be that compared to Cap, Iron Man, Thor and Hulk, Black Widow arming herself with one gun is a little underwhelming. Hopefully there’s more to her than what meets the eye, and based on Whedon’s history with writing strong female characters, I’m sure Black Widow will impress on screen.

Towards the end of the trailer we see the confrontation between Loki and Tony Stark. After being told by Stark that the team is called the Avengers, Loki tries to threaten Stark by claiming he has an army, to which Stark replies, “We have a Hulk”. It’s cheesy, but it’s brilliant. It highlights how well the dialogue is being handled in this movie, as well as illustrating how dark Loki has become.

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My second favourite screen shot from the trailer involves the Hulk. It’s shows our first glimpse of a fully transformed Banner in action, as he smashes through a building and punches an aircraft high in the air. It’s brilliant. Simply because the Incredible Hulk is one of Marvel’s best characters, but some average movies and meant that his popularity has declined over the years. By including the Hulk in The Avengers, Marvel has a chance to put the Green Goliath back at the top where he belongs.

So there’s my deconstruction of the Superbowl Avengers trailer. While it was a little short, it’s completely revived my interest in the movie after a lack of serious marketing. Now though, I can’t wait for the movie to hit theatres, and I want to hear your suggestions about Loki’s army, and any other thoughts about the movie.

Should Marvel Be Marketing The Avengers More?

English: 2012 The Avengers Movie

Image via Wikipedia

It’s literally the biggest comic book movie ever made. It’s taken four years and five movies to make and in May of this year, Marvel will finally unleash The Avengers on screen. However, would anyone that hasn’t seen any of the movies beforehand be familiar enough with The Avengers concept, based on how Marvel has been marketing it so far?

The Dark Knight Rises doesn’t come out until July of this year. Yet, Warner Bros. has already officially released a teaser trailer, a full trailer and a six-minute prologue. It seems strange that compared to The Dark Knight Rises, Marvel have only officially released one Avengers trailer, and a slightly altered international version. Granted audiences will flock to the movie anyway, but is Marvel making enough of the opportunity to put their cinematic franchise leagues ahead of DC’s final Batman picture?

What kind of marketing am I expecting? Well, seeing as Black Widow and Hawkeye haven’t had a great deal of screen time in previous movies, why not release character vignettes from them both, showcasing a few of their moments in The Avengers movie so audiences can familiarise themselves with the characters beforehand. It would certainly help their character development if audiences knew whom Black Widow and Hawkeye were heading into the movie. It’s an alternative route, if Marvel would prefer not to release a new trailer so soon.

I’m also surprised at the lack of merchandise so far. The Avengers will undoubtedly attract a lot of kids, what better way to solidify that then by getting toy lines and other merchandise out early. I remember when the Phantom Menace line was released before the movie; I was stoked to see all of these new characters and couldn’t wait to see the movie as a result. The same applies to videogames. There has been no news of any Avengers game in development (after one got cancelled) yet videogames are a great way to generate hype for a movie. Imagine seeing your favourite Avengers that aren’t in the film given the movie concept treatment. Even if movie games all tend to suck, it’s why there’s so many of them. Getting some merchandise out early couldn’t hurt.

I understand Marvel is probably playing it safe for now. If they start the hype machine too early, they run the risk of it fading out before the movie even hits theatres, however I believe the matter is more to do with Joss Whedon trying to keep aspects of the film under wraps for now. Aspects such as what army is supporting Loki in his quest to conquer Earth, and if any other villains or heroes appear. You can only look at Wolverine: Origins as an example of marketing damaging the movie. When Fox released a trailer showcasing Deadpool (or Barackapool as the IC calls him) fans panned the movie before release, some even calling for a boycott. Marvel is probably just trying to avoid making the same mistake. Especially if the army is revealed to be Hydra, instead of the Skrulls or Atlanteans.

I’m sure nearer to April/May The Avengers marketing will pick up speed, but for now, let’s just hope a new trailer hits soon. The first trailer was a little too much Tony Stark for my liking. This is an ensemble movie after all.

Which Comic Book Movie Will Be The Best In 2012?

The Dark Knight Rises

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2011 was a huge year for comic book movies. X-Men: First Class was the best-reviewed superhero movie of the year, but Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger weren’t that far behind. The only disappointment was Green Lantern. Now with Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises and The Amazing Spider-Man coming up this year, I’m going to look at what movie I think will triumph best over fans and critics.

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance:

Scheduled for release on February 17th 2012, Spirit of Vengeance is a sequel/reboot to the 2007 film Ghost Rider. Once again starring Nicholas Cage, Spirit of Vengeance faces an uphill battle. The original Ghost Rider was a relatively small success, but was met with mixed to negative reviews leading to the confusion of fans as to why a sequel is actually being released. Regardless, The Spirit of Vengeance’s trailer looked impressive, but my hopes were dashed when the first set of reviews came in claiming the sequel is worse than the original. Prediction: 2/5

The Avengers:

It’s taken four years and five movies, but the 27th April 2012 (UK) sees the release of Marvel’s star-studded ensemble film. Starring Robert Downey Jr., Samuel L. Jackson, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Jeremy Renner, Scarlett Johansson and Mark Ruffalo, The Avengers unites the heroes from the Marvel Universe to save the world from Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and his army.

There’s so much riding on The Avengers. If the film is met with both critical acclaim and financial success, it will burst open the doors for Marvel to explore films for other characters. Financially, The Avengers should break records, but the X-Men franchise has shown it can sometimes be difficult for superhero films to handle an ensemble cast, and with a star studded cast like this, Joss Whedon has a huge challenge on his hands making sure every character gets enough development. Expect high-octane action, but perhaps some lack of character development. Prediction: 3/5

The Dark Knight Rises

Set eight years after the events of The Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan concludes his Batman trilogy with the arrival of a new villain Bane, (Tom Hardy) who pushes Gotham City to his limits, forcing a fugitive Batman (Christian Bale) out of retirement after taking the fall for Harvey Dent’s crimes.

It’s such a common trend for the third movie in a franchise to falter (Spider-Man 3, X-Men: The Last Stand) but Christopher Nolan shouldn’t have any problems here. With a new female lead in Catwoman, (Anne Hathaway) The Dark Knight Rises should provide an epic conclusion to the Batman saga. The only problem I can see arising is criticisms towards Bane’s distorted voice, but otherwise this will probably be the best comic book movie of the year. Prediction: 5/5

The Amazing Spider-Man

Directed by Marc Webb, The Amazing Spider-Man marks a reboot in the Spider-Man saga. Starring Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker, Emma Stone as Gwen Stacey and Rhys Ifans as Dr. Curt Connors/The Lizard, respectively. The film will showcase Peter Parker’s origin in high school/college as he develops his superpowers.

It was a bold move for Sony to reboot the Spider-Man franchise so soon. With Spider-Man 3 released only five years ago, it baffled many as to why Sony chose to reboot a franchise that audiences generally liked. Nevertheless, it’s back to school for Peter Parker, in a move that might harm the film’s chances of success. Spidey has the most well-known origin of all the superheroes, and seeing Uncle Ben die again might not strike gold at the box office. Regardless, the practical web-slinging effects should render the film unique from other superhero movies, and it should earn enough to warrant a sequel. Prediction: 3/5

There are my predictions for which comic book movie will be the most critically and financially successful in 2012. With the exception of Ghost Rider, audiences should look forward to what will likely be another successful year for comic book movies. Excelsior!

Deconstructing: The Avengers Trailer

Avengers Poster V.2 Unofficial

It’s the day comic book fans across the globe have been waiting for. Today Marvel released their first full-length trailer for The Avengers movie due next year. Offering our first glimpse of Mark Ruffalo as The Hulk, the trailer certainly did not disappoint. Not much was revealed though, confirming that this is more of a teaser to keep fans satisfied for the time being. What we can do though, is speculate about the movie from what we’ve seen so far.

1) Joss Whedon is certainly keeping the team’s main threat under wraps for now:

During the trailer we saw gigantic expositions destroying cars and streets, as well as military forces preparing for what seemed like an attack from above. Could it be Skrulls? Could it be the Kree? Either way I have to give Whedon credit for not giving everything away too soon. We know Loki is the mastermind behind everything, what else he’s using remains a mystery.

2) Tony Stark takes the spotlight:

We saw a lot of Tony during the trailer. Whilst that’s certainly not a bad thing, it does however look like he will have a bigger part than most. Providing the film doesn’t suffer from X-Men syndrome, where other characters were ignored in favour of Wolverine, I’m happy for Tony to take the spotlight.

3) There is conflict between Steve and Tony:

One of the best moments in the trailer was watching Steve and Tony stand face to face. It’s great to see the dynamic between the characters taken from the comics. Credit to RDJ, who made the scene his own with an excellent response to Steve’s questioning. If they can provide this kind of character dynamic throughout the film, it could end up being one of the best comic book movies of all time.

4) The team has problems:

One of the more interesting moments was watching Thor attack Captain America in the forest. Given that Steve was in his new outfit, it would suggest Thor is either a late addition to the Avengers team, or perhaps Loki’s manipulation is what’s putting Thor against Cap. I’m presuming Loki’s voiceover at the beginning of the trailer was taken from a scene with him and The Hulk, plus Loki seemed to bother Black Widow when he walked past in captivity, so I expect Thor’s brother will be manipulating with the minds of all the heroes during the film.

5) Nick Fury unleashed

Samuel L. Jackson has appeared in four of the five Marvel Studio’s films so far, but he hasn’t really had any character development. Based on what we’ve see from the trailer, Nick Fury is set to get a bigger chunk of screen time next year, and seeing him armed with a bazooka was brilliant. It emphasises that Earth is facing a huge threat, whilst giving Fury some action scenes at last.

So there are the main things I took from The Avengers trailer. I can’t comment much on the Hulk, as we didn’t see much, but from what we did see, I’m glad we aren’t getting the ripped version from The Incredible Hulk. To conclude though, I have complete faith in Joss Whedon. He oversaw the brilliant Ultimate series by Mark Millar, and wrote one of the best X-Men story arcs ever created. From the look of this trailer, this is going to be huge.

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