UPDATED: Last weekend, The Avengers exploded into theaters, clobbering enough alien invaders to earn them over $200 million at the box office. Seeing as the movie has already made more than Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger in their entire box office run and is well on its way to challenging Iron Man 2's $312.4 million final total, it's safe to say the head honchos at Marvel and Disney are quietly prepping a regathering of their ultimate superhero team for an Avengers 2.
Kevin Feige, the mastermind behind Marvel's cinematic universe, is mum on the future of the Avengers, noting in interviews that Joss Whedon is optioned for an Avengers 2 but there are no concrete plans. The plan (for now) is to concentrate on solo hero outings, of which Marvel has many in motion. In an interview with Badass Digest, Feige mentions, "The people who do know say 'Oh, they only did this to lead into that!' Maybe they'll still do that with our next few movies, but it 'll be much less overt. I think they'll be more likely to go, 'What the f**k do they do now? How the f**k do they get to Avengers 2 now?' Which I actually like."
In 2013, we'll get two more comic book outings featuring The Avengers team members. First up is Iron Man 3, currently in production with Robert Downey Jr. returning as Tony Stark and his Kiss Kiss Bang Bang director Shane Black at the helm. The movie is set for a May 3, 2013 release, but as always, details and rumors are slowly starting to trickle. The movie is reportedly focusing on a plotline from the comics called "Extremis," which sees Downey Jr.'s Stark integrating his suit's technology into his body, making him literally superhuman. In interviews, Feige has compared the movie to the beginning of the original Iron Man where Stark is left powerless. Ben Kingsley and Guy Pearce (while It-girl Jessica Chastain has recently passed) are all on board for the new movie, but one Avenger won't be returning: Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow. Now comes word that The Town star Rebecca Hall is in talks for the female lead.
Marking Marvel's foray into the holiday film season, Thor 2 will strike down on November 15, 2013. Both Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston, who played Loki in both the first Thor and The Avengers, will return for the movie, as well as Natalie Portman as Jane Foster. Game of Thrones vet Alan Taylor is set to direct the movie, which somehow sees Thor venturing into new parts of the universe while expanding on the relationship between him and Jane from the first movie. Throw on top a brand new — and secret — villain, who will keep things interesting for Thor on top of Loki's usual mischief. Who could that someone be? An early rumor paints it as a double dose of evil: classic Thor villains The Enchantress and The Executioner. An evil Asgardian sorceress and her warrior whipping boy. Sounds about right. In an exclusive interview with Hemsworth, the actor even teased the possibility of the Thor universe's strangest character: Beta Ray Bill, half horse, half man. 100% amazing.
While it's way down the road, Chris Evans is also confirmed for his superheroic follow-up in Captain America 2, locked for April 4, 2014. In true Marvel fashion, details are being kept close to the chest, but the writers of the screenplay have revealed that the movie will be set primarily in present day (a wording that leaves it wide open for period setting flashbacks). Returning cast is up in the air based on demands, but actor Neal McDonough, who had a role as one of Cap's army buddies, Dum Dum Dugan, says he'll be back. The influence The Avengers and its success will have on the script could change everything, but Marvel is currently in pursuit of a director. Community directors Joe and Anthony Russo have been named in contenders, but no deal is set. Whoever takes the movie, we know it's definitely happening.
The rest of the crew has a foggy future. Those wowed by Mark Ruffalo's Hulk shouldn't get their hopes up; the actor has a six-picture deal that could see him returning to an Avengers sequel and as a costar in other Marvel productions, but Feige was skeptical pre-Avengers success. Speaking to CinemaBlend, the producer acknowledged that they were thrilled by Hulk in Avengers, they aren't rushing. If anything, demand (via toy sales, of course!) could bring about a third Hulk (although a new TV show is already in the works).
Rumors of a Black Widow and/or Haweye stand-alone film haven't gone any further than just that, with Marvel's upcoming and unknown slate continuing to focus on fresh franchises. Names that have been thrown around since Iron Man's debut are still in contention: a magic-driven Doctor Strange feature, Edgar Wright's Ant-Man and an epic Guardians of the Galaxy tentpole are all in the works. The conclusion of The Avengers certainly teases a sci-fi spin on the future installments — which would tie perfectly into Guardians of the Galaxy. Along with Captain America 2 in 2014, Marvel announced a second, unknown movie for June 27, 2014. Don't hold your breath for Avengers 2, but with only two years to go, Marvel will have to start making bold choices soon, setting into motion the next phase of their grand plan.
Don't hold your breath, Squirrel Girl.
Marvel movie questions? Find Matt Patches directly on Twitter @misterpatches!
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[Empire, Collider, Latino-Review, CinemaBlend, MTV, Screen Rant]
The first and most important thing you should know about Paramount Pictures’ Thor is that it’s not a laughably corny comic book adaptation. Though you might find it hokey to hear a bunch of muscled heroes talk like British royalty while walking around the American Southwest in LARP garb director Kenneth Branagh has condensed vast Marvel mythology to make an accessible straightforward fantasy epic. Like most films of its ilk I’ve got some issues with its internal logic aesthetic and dialogue but the flaws didn’t keep me from having fun with this extra dimensional adventure.
Taking notes from fellow Avenger Iron Man the story begins with an enthralling event that takes place in a remote desert but quickly jumps back in time to tell the prologue which introduces the audience to the shining kingdom of Asgard and its various champions. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) son of Odin is heir to the throne but is an arrogant overeager and ill-tempered rogue whose aggressive antics threaten a shaky truce between his people and the frost giants of Jotunheim one of the universe’s many realms. Odin (played with aristocratic boldness by Anthony Hopkins) enraged by his son’s blatant disregard of his orders to forgo an assault on their enemies after they attempt to reclaim a powerful artifact banishes the boy to a life among the mortals of Earth leaving Asgard defenseless against the treachery of Loki his mischievous “other son” who’s always felt inferior to Thor. Powerless and confused the disgraced Prince finds unlikely allies in a trio of scientists (Natalie Portman Stellan Skarsgard and Kat Dennings) who help him reclaim his former glory and defend our world from total destruction.
Individually the make-up visual effects CGI production design and art direction are all wondrous to behold but when fused together to create larger-than-life set pieces and action sequences the collaborative result is often unharmonious. I’m not knocking the 3D presentation; unlike 2010’s genre counterpart Clash of the Titans the filmmakers had plenty of time to perfect the third dimension and there are only a few moments that make the decision to convert look like it was a bad one. It’s the unavoidable overload of visual trickery that’s to blame for the frost giants’ icy weaponized constructs and other hybrids of the production looking noticeably artificial. Though there’s some imagery to nitpick the same can’t be said of Thor’s thunderous sound design which is amped with enough wattage to power The Avengers’ headquarters for a century.
Chock full of nods to the comics the screenplay is both a strength and weakness for the film. The story is well sequenced giving the audience enough time between action scenes to grasp the characters motivations and the plot but there are tangential narrative threads that disrupt the focus of the film. Chief amongst them is the frost giants’ fore mentioned relic which is given lots of attention in the first act but has little effect on the outcome. In addition I felt that S.H.I.E.L.D. was nearly irrelevant this time around; other than introducing Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye the secret security faction just gets in the way of the movie’s momentum.
While most of the comedy crashes and burns there are a few laughs to be found in the film. Most come from star Hemsworth’s charismatic portrayal of the God of Thunder. He plays up the stranger-in-a-strange-land aspect of the story with his cavalier but charming attitude and by breaking all rules of diner etiquette in a particularly funny scene with the scientists whose respective roles as love interest (Portman) friendly father figure (Skarsgaard) and POV character (Dennings) are ripped right out of a screenwriters handbook.
Though he handles the humorous moments without a problem Hemsworth struggles with some of the more dramatic scenes in the movie; the result of over-acting and too much time spent on the Australian soap opera Home and Away. Luckily he’s surrounded by a stellar supporting cast that fills the void. Most impressive is Tom Hiddleston who gives a truly humanistic performance as the jealous Loki. His arc steeped in Shakespearean tragedy (like Thor’s) drums up genuine sympathy that one rarely has for a comic book movie villain.
My grievances with the technical aspects of the production aside Branagh has succeeded in further exploring the Marvel Universe with a film that works both as a standalone superhero flick and as the next chapter in the story of The Avengers. Thor is very much a comic book film and doesn’t hide from the reputation that its predecessors have given the sub-genre or the tropes that define it. Balanced pretty evenly between “serious” and “silly ” its scope is large enough to please fans well versed in the source material but its tone is light enough to make it a mainstream hit.
Jeremy Renner is nearing a deal to play Hawkeye in Marvel's The Avengers while Neal McDonough is closing in on the role of Dum Dum Dugan in the studio's Captain America: The First Avenger.
This begs the question of where Josh Holloway may fit into the Marvel universe. Reports earlier this week said the studio was eyeing the TV star for a lead part in one of its upcoming projects including both the Hawkeye and Dum Dum roles. So, is Ant-Man still on the table?
The Joss Whedon-directed Avengers will see Renner will play the bow-and-arrow-carrying hero Hawkeye, says the Heat Vision blog.
Renner will join Robert Downey, Jr. as Iron Man/Tony Stark, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Chris Evans as Captain America, Scarlett Johansson as the Black Widow, Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury and Don Cheadle as War Machine.
McDonough, meanwhile, will join the Joe Johnston-directed Captain America, says Deadline. Production starts in July in the UK.
Marvel did not confirm either report.
Based on the 1987 videogame sensation and later made into an anemic 1994 Jean-Claude Van Damme action flick this latest version pits the forces of evil vs. good in the slums of modern day Bangkok but fails to capture any of the excitement that made Street Fighter a legend among gamers. In this edition evil crime boss Bison (Neal McDonough) is joined by henchmen Balrog (Michael Clarke Duncan) and Vega (Taboo of The Black Eyed Peas) in taking over the Thai city using extremely violent power. Out to stop him from adding to his growing collection of heads are a group of disparate warriors including the half-Caucasian half-Asian beauty Chun-Li (Kristin Kreuk) who has given up her American life of privilege to help the oppressed. Joining her in the fight are her Kung Fu master Gen (Robin Shou) an Interpol cop Charlie Nash (Chris Klein) who has been tailing Bison around the world and his co-hort homicide detective Maye Sunee (Moon Bloodgood). While most martial arts films are hardly a showcase for actors this film hits new lows. McDonough utters straight-faced lines such as “when people are hungry there’s nothing they won’t do because everyone has a price ” which apparently also means himself or why else would he take the role of such a wooden villain? The acting is so bad that even the Americans including Duncan Taboo and Klein feel like they’ve been victims of a bad dubbing job. As the lead the attractive Kreuk also proves to be a fierce martial arts artist which at least partially makes up for the pedestrian dialogue and leaden narration she has to utter throughout. The one thing Polish director Andrzej Bartkowiak has gotten right with Street Fighter is the kung fu of it all but that’s hardly enough to recommend slogging through the rest of this mess. As a renowned cinematographer (Terms of Endearment The Verdict) Bartkowiak exhibits a sharp eye for color and detail but the drab look of Street Fighter makes one wonder if as director he ever bothered to look through the lens at all. This is strictly paint-by-the-numbers filmmaking of the most unimaginative order. When Klein spots a flashing red button signaling an explosive device about to go off he yells “Bomb! Everybody out!” He just as well could have been talking about this movie too.
After losing an arm and a leg to a deranged serial killer--as if there were any other kind--all-American teenager Aubrey Fleming (Lindsay Lohan) is discovered in a ditch outside of town. Trouble is she’s not Aubrey--at least that’s what she says. She claims to be Dakota Moss a hard-edged stripper whose vocabulary proves how hard she is. Through flashbacks we see she's no goody-goody but she’s determined to get to the bottom of the mystery while everyone around her waits for her to “remember” who she really is. But if indeed the killer is still at large then this baffled babe might still be on the hit list which is where the story’s ostensible suspense is supposed to emanate from. Is all of this a figment of Aubrey’s--or Dakota’s--imagination or a by-product of the trauma she’s suffered? If it were there wouldn’t be a movie. As it is there’s not much of one anyway. As if she didn’t have enough to deal with already Lohan seems particularly ill at ease here. She has yet to really distinguish herself as a strong actress and she’s certainly not strong enough to do much with the material she’s given here. Her character simply isn’t likable--and she’s the whole show. There’s a slightly uncomfortable if blackly comic irony in watching Lohan at various points take pills drink alcohol pole-dance and swear up a storm. Oh yes and she’s also bloodied bruised terrorized and tortured--for those who care. Most won’t. If this is what passes for character development in horror movies these days then we--and the genre--are in trouble. As Aubrey’s parents Julia Ormond and Neal McDonough stand around mostly looking confused as well they should be. At least Brian Geraghty as Aubrey’s jock boyfriend doesn’t embarrass himself. But no one else is around long enough to make much of an impression. Then again as a whole I Know Who Killed Me doesn’t leave much of an impression. Just a bad aftertaste. Aside from technical proficiency there’s not a lot director Chris Sivertson brings to the party and it’s as much the fault of first-time screenwriter Jeffrey Hammond. Sure the story has a lot of twists and turns but they’re stupid twists and turns--and too many of them are introduced too far into the narrative as an increasingly desperate way of keeping the film going long after anyone cares. In the end--actually by the middle--I Know Who Killed Me simply doesn’t add up. It’s too silly to be remotely credible or interesting and too murky to be laughable.
When retired U.S. Special Forces Soldier Chris Vaughn (Johnson) returns to Kipsat County Wash. it's only to find his hometown overrun with crime drugs and violence. The old mill where Chris's father (John Beasley) worked for most of his life is closed and the town's only thriving industry is the Wild Cherry casino. Even Chris' high school sweetie Deni (Ashley Scott) couldn't resist the Wild Cherry's lure; she's become a peepshow dancer to "pay the bills." But Chris really loses it when he discovers the casino's dealers are using loaded dice--and he starts a brawl that ends with the security team carving up his chest and abdomen with a rusty Exacto knife. Chris also learns that that his old high school rival the casino's owner Jay Hamilton (Neal McDonough) has transformed the mill into a crystal meth lab and is using the casino's menacing security staff to sell the drugs to innocent kids. Chris strikes back by running for sheriff firing the entire police department on his first day and with the help of a cedar two-by-four and his deputy and buddy Ray Templeton (Johnny Knoxville) restores peace to the Pacific Northwest.
Johnson looking buffer than ever is well cast in the role of Chris: He's a fearless and determined soldier with beyond-human fighting skills. But while the film takes advantage of Johnson's brawn it fails to take advantage of his brain. In last year's comedy The Rundown Johnson proved he was more than a muscle-bound action star; he oozed charm and was surprisingly witty. With Walking Tall he never gets a chance to flex his acting muscles; if anything they atrophy. The only skills Johnson gets to show off are his ability to swing a plank at someone's shins and his unique way of bashing skulls against slot machines. Johnson's sidekick Ray played by Knoxville of MTV's Jackass fame is an ex-junkie who after spending a couple of years in the slammer is content with living in a camper and doing odd jobs around town. With his scraggly appearance and klutzy demeanor Knoxville supplies the film with brief interludes of humor amid the slam fest including a scene in which he stabs a bad guy with a potato peeler. Johnson and Knoxville would have made a first-rate action team had they had more screen time together.
A WWE production with Vince McMahon serving as executive producer Walking Tall has none of the subtlety of director Kevin Bray's last film All About the Benjamins and all the elements of a wrestling match. As with wrestling the film begins by melodramatically establishing the story (Chris and his family's lives are devastated by the mill's closure) and just like rival pugilists who publicly taunt the favored wrestler Chris challenges Jay--not for the world title but at least for control of Kipsat County--in a never-ending battle between good and evil that mimics wrestling to a T. But what's entertaining in the ring doesn't translate to film especially when the good guy running the town is a maniacal meathead. Chris is supposed to be the protagonist who single-handedly saves the town but who's responding to the citizens' domestic violence calls for example when the sheriff fires the entire precinct and spends 24 hours a day casing the casino? Never mind the fact that he has sex with his girlfriend in his office while he's on the clock.