Posts Tagged ‘ Joss Whedon ’

What’s In Store For Avengers 2?

Thanos

Will Thanos return to court death?

(warning: if you haven’t seen The Avengers, this article may contain some spoilers)

With The Avengers on its way to reaching the $1 billion mark, Disney have moved quickly to announce a sequel to Joss Whedon‘s superhero epic is already in development. Assuming an Avengers sequel will take place after Iron Man 3, Thor 2 and a Captain America sequel, there is plenty of time for a new threat to emerge that forces the team together. What could it be? Here are my theories?

1) Thanos/Infinity Gauntlet

As awesome as the Thanos end-credit sequence was at the end of The Avengers, I just don’t believe we will see the mad titan take on the team just yet. Why? It was an enormous achievement for Marvel and Joss Whedon to be able to just fit all their iconic characters into one film without anyone getting the short-stick (maybe Hawkeye), and that came at the expense of developing the Chitauri army into an enemy that felt like a serious threat.

Thanos is a character that definitely will not work f he’s even slightly underdeveloped on screen. From his love with the embodiment of death, to wielding the Infinity Gauntlet, which is perhaps the most powerful weapon in the Marvel Universe, Thanos would need developing elsewhere before going head-to-head with The Avengers.

Marvel would perhaps find it easier to establish Thanos in a movie such as Guardians of the Galaxy (who seems to be getting a lot of attention in comics and television right now) that way it’s a great way to introduce the cosmic side to their universe with a villain that’s hugely important going forward.

2) Kree-Skrull War

With the focus on developing a cosmic universe going forward, it would seem logical for Marvel to look for inspiration from one of their biggest comic book events of all time. In case you’re unfamiliar, the Kree-Skrull war was a comic book storyline that ran from 1971-1972 depicting two of Marvel’s famous intergalactic species locked in a war with Earth used as a battleground. The Kree-Skrull war divides a lot of opinion amongst fans. Some see it as master class of how to do a comic book event right, while others blame it for starting the trend of yearly comic book events that have plagued Marvel for some time.

Will it happen? Probably not. While it wouldn’t be impossible for Joss Whedon (assuming he’s the director) to fit in two alien races into one film, like many, I feel the alien enemy has already warned a little thin.

3) Ultron

While it may be a little too soon for Ultron, (seeing as the Ant-Man film hasn’t even been announced yet) he would make for a worthy villain that gives viewers a break from the classic alien villain syndrome. One of the best parts of The Avengers for me was seeing the heroes argue, as it really characterised their flaws.

Ultron is an embodiment of Ant-Man’s flaws. Wanting to build a robot that would be boosted by artificial intelligence, Henry Pym built Ultron by using his own brain patterns for the robot. As with all super intelligent robots, Ultron decided in order to serve his purpose, he had to destroy humanity.

What better then than to introduce a villainous robot villain that was created by an actual Avenger? Assuming the Ant-Man film takes off soon, I would like to imagine it serves as a sort of prequel to Avengers which would give enough time for Hank Pym to get working on his artificially intelligence boosted robot.

Will the storyline to The Avengers sequel definitely be one of the storyline listed above? Probably not. With the mountain of actually getting an Avengers movie out their in the first place achieved, Marvel now have more freedom when deciding where their characters should head next. As long as the villains are better developed next time, I can’t wait to see the Avengers fighting against robots, aliens or a civil war against each other?

But that’s a post for next time…

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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

 

Judging The Dark Knight Rises

The Dark Knight Rises

The Dark Knight Rises (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As the summer begins, so does the massive on-going debate over which comic book movie will reign supreme in 2012. Will it be Joss Whedon’s Avengers movie? Perhaps the return of Spider-Man to the big screen will win over fans and critics alike. Or will the final instalment in Christopher Nolan’s Batman franchise, The Dark Knight Rises prove to the best comic book movie yet?

While I’m a bigger Batman fan than I am Avengers, I feel as if The Dark Knight Rises isn’t offering audiences anything new than what we’ve seen before. Like so many comic book fans, I’m fairly critical of Christopher Nolan for waiting over three years before creating a sequel to arguably the greatest superhero film of all time. I understand reasons beyond his control may have caused him to change from his original script, but I felt as if he needed to strike while the iron was hot.

Now, four years later, The Dark Knight is going to be competing against the likes of Marvel’s Avengers, and the return to cinema of Spider-Man. If we take a look at what The Dark Knight Rises is offering us, there is the existing dilemma over whether Bruce Wayne is able to stay on as The Batman, Commissioner Gordan facing more criticism from his peers, and a new villain that will push Batman to his limits, wielding a potential weapon of mass destruction.

It all sounds a bit similar. Don’t get me wrong, I am greatly looking forward to what Anne Hathaway can bring to the Catwoman role, as we’ve yet to have a true breakout female character in the trilogy. Batman’s previous love interest, Rachel Dawes, was a bland character, who seemed to regress over the course of the two films before meeting her demise. I’m sure we’ll hear more revelations about who Marion Coltillard is really playing, but for now, there just isn’t enough to make me believe The Dark Knight Rises will be able to outclass The Avengers or Spider-Man for that matter.

Perhaps The Dark Knight has returned at a time where it faces much tougher opposition. New dark fantasy film, The Hunger Games has opened up with a weekend of sensational success, massively exceeding expectations by having the best opening weekend for a non-sequel, and third best opening weekend of all time. Not bad for a film that has had the misfortune of being labelled as the next Twilight. The Avengers is approaching in a month’s time, and in terms of scale and ambition, blows the Batman franchise out of the water.

While The Dark Knight Rises will undoubtedly have its class, as Nolan has demonstrated how to perfectly mix superhero action and intimate drama, it’s not holding the same impression The Dark Knight had in 2008. Perhaps coming towards the end of the summer wasn’t the best idea for Warner Bros. The storyline seems good, borrowing from one of the most critically acclaimed Batman stories of all time, in Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. Perhaps this is another problem that might not work well for Warner Bros. The Dark Knight Returns is a brilliant story, that could easily be translated into a fresh trilogy of films. If this is to be the last we see of Christian Bale as Batman, a future trilogy based on Frank Miller’s story would have been an effective way for Warner Bros to keep the Batman franchise going. If Nolan has already covered the storyline of an aged, weakened Bruce Wayne coming out of retirement in The Dark Knight Rises, it doesn’t leave much for Warner Bros to able to continue developing the existing Batman franchise without resorting to a franchise reboot.

While The Dark Knight Rises will undoubtedly earn a great deal of success, whether or not it will live long in the memory of film fans remains to be seen. In a cinematic year where we’ve already had a masterclass in dark fantasy, a group of Marvel’s best superheroes facing an alien army due, and the return of Marvel’s most beloved wall-crawler, 2012 may prove to be beyond Nolan.

 

 

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.