Posts Tagged ‘ Black Widow ’

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…

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Avengers Assemble #1 Review

The Avengers (2012 film)

Image via Wikipedia

It’s not often I do comic book reviews, but when I heard Marvel were releasing an in-continuity title for audiences seeing The Avengers movie, I was intrigued. Written by Brian Michael Bendis, with art by Mark Bagley, does this latest Avengers offering serve up anything different than what’s on shelves already?

The hook with this book is that from the start, all of the movie Avengers are present. Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Hawkeye and Black Widow all feature, however there’s no sign yet of Nick Fury. Though considering the 616 version of Nick Fury may alienate movie fans that’s understandable.

Avengers Assemble #1 opens with Bendis highlighting the rise of a new Zodiac. Praise must be given for Bendis for providing a threat for the team that differs from the movie. Bagley’s artwork leaves a little to be desired, up close his artwork is brilliant, from long angles it’s lacking in detail.

In terms of characters, Clint Barton steals the show. Bendis shows he can write Hawkeye brilliantly, showcasing his sarcastic traits that prove the Ultimates dress-up hasn’t changed much about the character. As a long-term reader, I felt as if a Bucky reference was due when Clint was hitting on Widow, but I can understand why none was used. Captain America, Thor and Iron Man, get enough screen time, but there wasn’t really any reason as to why the team was together, other than being at the right place at the right time. If Bendis really wanted inspiration for how to formulate the team, he should have taken notes of his own New Avengers: Breakout arc. That’s how you form a new Avengers team.

My main criticism would be how the Hulk is handled. From this take, it’s easy to see why Bendis has refrained from largely using the green giant in his eight-year Avengers run. In this book, the Hulk is reverted back to his dumbed-down mindless version. For a long-term Marvel reader, this is a little distracting, as that’s not usually how the Hulk is written these days, however it could because a dumbing-down is in store for the Hulk during Jason Aaron‘s Incredible Hulk epic.

To conclude, Avengers Assemble is a fantastic jumping on point for Avengers movie fans, while still offering something new for long-term readers. It’s light on continuity, but full of great dialogue and solid characterisation. In terms of how well I think Avengers Assemble will do in the future, hopefully there’s more to come from this book to make it stand out amongst the million other Avengers titles.

Rating: 7/10

 

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.

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.

Is Bucky Back?

(This article contains spoilers)

After all the speculating and complaining, we finally have an answer. In the brand new pages of Fear Itself 7.1, Marvel revealed a brand new ongoing series, written by Ed Brubaker and drawn by Butch Guice: The Winter Soldier.

When we last saw Bucky Barnes he had supposedly met his demise at the hands of the new Red Skull, Sin. It wasn’t a fitting conclusion to say the least, to a character that had become incredibly popular with fans. Readers were sceptical, how could Brubaker let this happen? Bucky Barnes, one of the coolest comic book characters of this generation, a character who had become incredibly popular as Captain America had been given a pointless death, for shock value in the summer’s comic book event Fear Itself. Thankfully, Brubaker had a plan, and I for one can’t wait.

In the new Fear Itself 7.1 issue we learn that Bucky did indeed survive. After suffering an attack from Sin, Bucky’s body was switched with a lifeless L.M.D (Life-Model-Decoy) while he recovered in secret. This led to the world believing Bucky had died, allowing him to now work in secret. To say the least, Steve wasn’t pleased when finding out Nick Fury and Black Widow had manipulated his emotions to get him to wear the shield again. It was a great emotional payoff for readers who were left stumbled as to why Steve had barely reacted to his former partners death during Fear Itself.

As for the new Winter Soldier series starting in January I can’t wait. It will be great to see Bucky back in a more black-ops role, and the series is sure to be dramatic with Barnes feeling responsible for training the sleeper agents during his time as the Winter Soldier.  I’m sure we’ll see some fallout from everyone else being in the dark over Bucky’s survival at some point in the future. Add this secret to Steve Rogers‘s resume, along with his recent role in hiding the Infinity Gems, Rogers is going to have some questions to answer at some point.

I’m thrilled with Brubaker’s decision on this one. He has kept this a well kept secret for months, but now Bucky’s story is set to enter a new stage. With all the criticism aimed at the comic book industry for too many pointless character deaths, it’s very gratifying to know one of my favourite characters has managed to avoid the chop.

Make Mine Marvel!

Are People Judging The Avengers Movie Too Soon?

Avengers Poster 2

Image by Boogeyman13 via Flickr

It’s still many months away from being released, but fans are already getting frustrated with the Avengers movie. Whilst the movie cannot possibly live up to fan boy expectations, it wasn’t too long ago people were really excited about seeing the world’s finest superheroes united on screen. My question is, what’s changed?

Similar to next year’s The Dark Knight Rises, leaked videos and photos are already swarming from the The Avengers film. What seems to be the cause of the criticism are the recent pictures showcasing our first look at Captain America fighting alongside Hawkeye and Black Widow. I’ll skip my initial concerns for Cap’s goofy looking costume, to get to the main point. Nothing looks spectacular. I’m sure Iron Man and The Hulk will look impressive, but Hawkeye and Black Widow look entirely out of place, and to be honest quite dull. When you have a team of war machines, super soldiers, gods and monsters, two assassins seem to come up short. I’m not saying they shouldn’t be in the movie, but considering no one has been greatly overwhelmed by the performances and cameos from Black Widow and Hawkeye so far, is it likely they’re going to blow us away with scene stealing performances next year? Perhaps Marvel should have considered this when they set out creating their cinematic universe. What the Avengers needed, is Ant-Man and Wasp.

If Whedon had originally chosen to include Hank and Janet Pym in the Avengers movie it would have added a whole new dynamic to the team. The two original Avengers founding members would have created a sub-plot far more interesting for older viewers. I’m not suggesting Whedon should have looked at the Ultimates series and have Hank unleash an army of ants on his wife, but considering their unstable relationship, including Hank and Janet would have really added some much needed substance into Marvel’s cinematic universe. Would the movie suffer from having a congested cast if Ant-Man and Wasp were included? Mark Millar‘s Ultimates series managed to handle all members of the team just fine. Joss Whedon‘s excellent Astonishing X-Men run proved the man in the director’s chair could handle ensembles brilliantly. I don’t believe it’s a question of what might work for the comic book medium might not work for film. After all, these are meant to be comic book movies!

One thing I have to praise Joss Whedon for is that he isn’t giving anything away too soon. Yes we have set-pics, and we know Loki is the main villain, but we still don’t know what threat brings this team together. There have been rumours of shape- shifting aliens, sea monsters and frost giants but that’s all speculation. Thanks to leaked photos and plot details, we already know most of the plot line for The Dark Knight Rises. Considering it’s still many months away, I’d rather not know too many story details about the Avengers at this point.

Too summarise I think it’s a little too soon to be judging The Avengers movie. We haven’t even gotten our first full-length trailer yet, and fans are bashing based on leaked pictures. I’ll admit, there are factors that could have been improved on, and I’m not a big fan of the film’s roster. You have to give Marvel some credit though. They’ve put a huge amount of work into making this movie happen; therefore perhaps we should just be happy with what we’re being given. It won’t pack the substance of The Dark Knight but it’s not like we’ve got a Justice League movie to look forward to.

Is There Too Much Face-Time In Comic Book Movies?

Anne Hathaway

Image by David Schexnaydre via Flickr

A little while ago I did a post on if there’s too much face-time for high profile actors in comic book movies. Whilst this is not a new concept, it is definitely an ever-increasing one. The latest and greatest comic book movies are now starting to damage the integrity of their characters and storylines by altering classic costumes, or causing impracticalities to the storylines, just to get the actors some facial recognition? Is it worth it?

When Warner Bros recently unveiled our first official look at Catwoman from The Dark Knight Rises, fans were shocked to see that Anne Hathaway was not modelling Catwoman’s classic Cowl, and instead wearing a minimalistic mask. Storyline wise, perhaps wearing a cowl with cat ears would be impractical for battles, but is that the actual reason behind the dramatic costume alteration, or is just so Anne Hathway receives a good chunk of face-time as Selina Kyle. Whilst it’s too early to tell if this is just Selina’s suit, pre-Catwoman, but so far it resembles too much of Marvel’s Black Widow, and not enough classic Catwoman. This is what I mean by face-time ruining comic book movies. By destroying the classic looks of their characters, the studios are pointless going to infuriate fans who have followed these characters for years. I agree some aspects need updating, but that should be for the sake of the characters, and not so that the lead actor/actress can have more face-time.

I’ve mentioned the clichéd Spider-Man movies, and how Spidey manages to lose his mask in the final act of every one of his movies. Will that change now Andrew Garfield is wearing the tights? Considering Garfield’s rising stardom I highly doubt it. It plagued the last Spidey movies, so it’s not something fans would be pleased to see again.

Another interesting matter is that recent leaked snippets from the set of The Avengers, showcases Captain America (Chris Evans) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) fighting together, both without Masks and helmets. Whilst this may sound pretentious, but these are two of Marvel’s most iconic heroes, and their classic costumes are a huge part of their characters. So why the need for Cap to face off against (spoiler alert) aliens with futuristic weapons, providing unmasked, the Srulls/Kree/aliens could just shoot both Cap and Thor in the head? I just don’t see the need for the alteration of classic costumes, just to provide high profile actors enough exposure in the movie. It’s become an overused, distracting comic book movie cliché.

Does anyone else agree with me? Do you find the common alteration of classic costumes as a way to reveal the actors and actresses faces to be annoying? As always leave your comments below.

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