For every comic geek and fanboy who will be standing in line for the midnight screening of The Avengers this weekend in a costume so realistic even the real Hawkeye couldn't tell the difference, there are probably twice as many people asking, "Just who in Stan Lee are these Avengers anyway?" Well, here is a handy inquisition that will tell you everything you need to know before seeing Joss Whedon's masterpiece and the culmination of Marvel Studios' movie efforts so far. It's the biggest (and first) superhero movie so far this summer.
What is an Avenger and why should I care about them?
The Avengers are a superhero team often known as "Earth's mightiest heroes," and have been a comic book staple since Marvel first got the team together in 1963. They're basically Marvel's answer to DC Comics' more iconic Justice League of America.
Is that the one with Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman?
So that's something different?
Who is on this team?
The roster has changed significantly over the course of the nearly 50 years the comic has been around. Initially the team was made up of Hulk, Thor, Ant-Man, the Wasp, and Iron Man. Captain America was introduced in issue #4 and has been the leader of the team ever since.
Ant Man? What's his power? To control Ants?
Yes. And to be small.
What a stupid character.
There's a reason he's not in the movie.
So, who is in the movie?
Captain America, Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, Hawkeye, and Black Widow.
That's a lot of dudes.
Yeah, but they got Scarlett Johansson, so that's the equivalent of like three ladies.
Not the same, and didn't all the other guys get their own movies?
Mostly. Hawkeye didn't. But Black Widow was in Iron Man 2.
You mean the lousy Iron Man? Couldn't they add Gwyneth Paltrow to the team? She was in that too, right?
No, she's basically an assistant and the Avengers have their own assistant. He's a butler named Jarvis.
Great, another dude. Is he in the movie?
Dunno. Probably. Apparently, he's voiced by Paul Bettany.
Just what we need. So, tell me about this Black Widow lady?
Well, in the comic, her name is Natasha Romanova. She was a Soviet spy who the government treated to slow her aging and make her stronger. She also trained as a ballerina, learning skills that she then employed during fighting. She's basically just a really awesome badass. Her signature weapon is a pair of bracelets that shoot a "widow's bite," an electric shock that knocks out opponents.
So there is one female and her super power is basically jewelry?
She doesn't have powers, per se, but she's an enhanced human.
She's still a Russian spy?
No. She defected from Russia and came to America to work for SHIELD.
What the heck is that and why are you shouting about it?
I'm not shouting, it's an acronym. It stands for the Supreme Headquarters International Espionage Law-enforcement Division. It's basically a CIA for the whole world and they use superheros to get the big jobs done. It's run by Nick Fury.
Is he the guy with the Howling Commandos?
Yes, they were a unit of World War II soldiers who had their own comic book. When it ended, Nick Fury went on to be the leader of SHIELD. Samuel L. Jackson plays him in the movie.
Wait. Wasn't Nick Fury white?
Well, he still is, but Marvel launched a comic called The Ultimates in 2002. It was an updated version of the Avengers in modern day America that basically started the whole thing over from the beginning. In that Nick Fury is African-American and bald just like Samuel L.
Who the hell are these other new Avengers?
Let's not get you confused, let's talk about Hawkeye instead. In the movie he's played by Jeremy Renner and he had a cameo in Thor. His name is Clint Barton and he uses a bow and arrow and he can hit absolutely any target.
So, his super power is aim?
That is correct, but you wouldn't be so mean when you watch him shoot someone in the eye with an arrow from 300 feet away.
But the other people have powers, right?
No, Iron Man doesn't have any powers. As you learned from the two Robert Downey Jr. movies, he's just a super rich smart guy who designed a really awesome suit of armor. If you read the comics, you would say his super power might be a very resilient liver. Tony Stark has been known to tie a few on.
You're telling me this is a superhero movie and none of these people have any powers? That's stupid.
They have a Hulk. The Hulk has insane powers. As most people know from the Lou Ferrigno television show, Dr. Bruce Banner was in an atomic accident and now, whenever he gets angry, he unleashes a crazy green rage beast who is huge and strong and totally invulnerable. He's basically like Mel Gibson, but glowing and doesn't hate Jews. That's power.
And he's played by Eric Bana?
No, Eric played Hulk in Hulk the 2003 movie. We're still trying to forget about that. Marvel was not happy with Ang Lee's version of the movie and rebooted it and made The Incredible Hulk in 2008.
Oh, the one with Edward Norton! He's in The Avengers?
No. Mark Ruffalo plays him. Marvel and Norton had a bit of a falling out after the movie was released.
This is the third Hulk in three different movies?
Yes, but there has only been one Captain America. He's played by Chris Evans. Captain America, in the comics, was a skinny kid named Steve Rogers who took a "super soldier serum" during World War II and it gave him super strength and speed, near invulnerability, and the ability to lead groups of men into battle. He also has one of the ugliest costumes in all of comicdom. In the funny books he fought alongside other heroes like Namor and The Human Torch to defeat Nazis. The movie followed the comic's plot where, at the end of the war, Captain America fell into the ocean and was frozen in a block of ice, only to be thawed out decades later.
Wait, Chris Evans played the Human Torch, how did he fight with him too?
That's right, Evans was in Fantastic Four, but that's a totally different Human Torch. The characters are totally different and unrelated.
How can you tell?
Evans had a hairy chest as the Torch and a smooth chest as Captain America.
Ah, that makes sense.
That leaves us with Thor, who is the son of Odin, the chief of all Norse gods. The comic book has something crazy about a doctor named Donald Blake who find's Thor's hammer, Mjolnir ...
How do you pronounce that?
You don't. Anyway, Blake finds the hammer and transforms into Thor. In the movies there is no Donald Blake. Thor is banished to Earth because of his hubris and has to live among the humans. His father was trying to teach him a lesson, but then Thor had to return to Asgard, where his deity family reigns and save everyone. He's a central character to have because the Avengers first assembled in the comics because of Thor's brother Loki.
Say what now?
Loki is Thor's younger brother and is the god of mischief and illusions. He uses an illusion of the Hulk to lure Thor into battle. This unleashes the real Hulk and they gang up with the other heroes to beat the s**t out of Loki. After the battle, they decide to form the Avengers, a team that can take on the threats that a single hero can't handle on his own. We know that Loki is going to be the big threat in the movie, just like he was in Thor. Hopefully, just like in Thor, Chris Hemsworth will also be compelled to take his shirt off a few times.
So, does all this stuff make sense.
I guess so, but what does any of this have to do with Uma Thurman?
Oh man. That's a totally different movie called The Avengers that was based on a British TV show. It has nothing to do with the comic. Any more questions.
Just one: Is this movie gonna be good?
Follow Brian Moylan on Twitter @BrianJMoylan
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Obviously celebrities are fun, or we'd never write about them or talk about them or be so curious about them that some people can actually make a living off of pursuing their deepest, darkest secrets and taking photos of them in their backyards. We can admit that without celeb culture, things could get a little boring; however, there are just a few things that have played out so heavily in 2010 that we've elected to give all the celebs out there some New Year's Resolutions in the form of a behavior contract in hopes that these tired behaviors stop. Okay, so we probably won't get Kim Kardashian or Lindsay Lohan to sign and swear to better behavior in 2011, but if we could get them, here's what we'd ask them not to do:
CELEBRITY BEHAVIOR AGREEMENT
THIS CONTRACT, entered into on this 1st day of JANUARY, 2011, by HANNAH LAWRENCE, KELSEA STAHLER, and all members of CELEBRITY CULTURE is for the continuation of celebrity status and celebrity news coverage for the entirety of the year 2011. The undersigned celebrity reporters will continue to cover celebrity culture if the celebrities (both mentioned and unmentioned) adhere to the contract as follows:
We the reporters of Hollywood.com reserve the right to revoke celebrity status and all subsequent news coverage on their site in the case that these stipulations are breached.
1. CEASE UNWARRANTED, UBIQUITOUS FAME
Celebrities must perform some fame worthy feat, accomplishment, or task in order to become actual celebrities. Reporters will not accept another case of The Kardashian family, who is famous for being famous. These celebrities may not make headlines for having giant shopping sprees, stealing one of their boyfriend's thunder after his team wins the Super Bowl, taking a family Christmas photo, or endorsing predatory credit cards with their photos and names emblazoned.
2. GO TO BOARDING SCHOOL, TAYLOR MOMSEN
Ms. Momsen must cease and desist all discussion of her own masturbation techniques, jokes about sex with Catholic priests, and other shock jock topics; she must spend 10 hours a week doing community service to help her understand that Gossip Girl is not more important than a disaster in Haiti; she must start wearing actual pants; she must take a geography class so she can learn the difference between England and Scotland.
3. STOP GETTING CAUGHT WITH DRUGS
Celebrities must stop acting like they are above the law. Stop posting videos of drug use on the internet, Miley. Paris Hilton, age 30, must stop getting caught at the AIRPORT with drugs. Charlie Sheen, the hookers don't like being locked up in the closets at the Plaza, and Mr. Sheen must stop this behavior forthwith. From here on out, if Mr. Sheen wants something to lock in the closet, let it be Denise Richards.
a. STOP TREATING REHAB LIKE A VACATION HOME If celebrities insist on breaching the drug rule, they (Lindsay) must stop going to rehab only to come out refreshed enough to do it all over again and they must not adorn their nails, jewelry, clothes, or skin with anything that resembles “Fuck U.” Undersigned reporters reserve the right to discontinue reporting if rehabilitative efforts are not taken seriously or are done without the intention of getting rehabilitated.
4. KEEP YOUR SEXIST, ANGRY, RACIST, OR OTHERWISE OFFENSIVE THOUGHTS TO YOURSELF
Unless Mel Gibson never wants to make a successful movie again, he must discontinue speaking, except to uniformed officials who he's likely to call "sugar tits," because that is newsworthy. Also, celebrities must cease discussion of ex-girlfriends’ sexual preferences and habits (John Mayer, your incessant chatter should not overshadow your talents).
5. KEEP IT IN YOUR PANTS
Tiger Woods and Jesse James – stop throwing it all away for a trollop or a stripper with tattoos on her forehead and swastikas on her shins. If a classy lady is gracious enough to let you hang out around her, live under the same roof with you, or have your kids, try not be such a dumbass.
a. SERIOUSLY, KEEP IT IN YOUR PANTS Brett Favre: pants are good. Cell phone photos of you without pants are bad, mmk? If you're compelled to photograph your junk, at least take a picture that makes it look like your junk is worth photographing.
6. NO MORE REALITY STAR CROSSOVERS*
No, money can’t buy class, and it can’t buy talent either. (Are you listening, Countess LuAnn?) Also, if a celebrity's song sounds like a request from someone’s middle school teacher the day before the big dance (similar to Kim “Tardy for the Party” Zolciak's) they must pay a fine of everything.
*Exceptions will begrudgingly be allowed for those who are legitimately talented. Reality TV fame will be forgiven once actual talents and their authenticity have been proven in the public arena for a significant amount of time.
7. TWITTER IS NOT A REPLACEMENT FOR PHONES, EMAIL, OR ACTUAL HUMAN CONTACT
Celebrities are not to use Twitter, Facebook, or other social networking platforms as a means of righting their wrongs. They must actually apologize to another person. They must try to use more serious forms of communication if they wish to be sincere. There’s a reason Hallmark doesn’t offer to write a tweet to send to grandma, and it's not because she doesn't have Twitter.
a. DO NOT TWEET ABOUT YOUR SEXUAL ENCOUNTERS* Or desires for sexual encounters. Or advice for ladies to perform fellatio in order to keep their boyfriends. Or the number of things to do while having sex simultaneously. Or anything that can be deemed WWWTMI, 50 Cent. *If you are drunk, hilarious, and stuck in midair on a plane, or Louis C.K., disregard the above clause.
8. STOP TALKING ABOUT YOUR BODY, HEIDI MONTAG
The public was tired of Ms. Montag's insane praise of her excessive surgeries when she first emerged from them. They grew tired of hearing about how no one understood her and how everyone was judging, or jealous of her, or whatever. Now, there is no way in hell anyone wants to hear about how much she regrets getting the surgeries or how she has to massage your breasts every day. In fact, she must also do 10 hours a week of community service alongside Taylor Momsen so she may learn that fame, giant boobs, and Spencer’s flesh-colored beard are trivial concerns.
a. MO’NIQUE, YOU TOO Mo'nique must shave her legs unless she wants her Oscar to be forever overshadowed by the fact she elects not to shave her legs. If she does not oblige this request, she is prohibited from baring them so brazenly, openly talking about them, or proliferating conversation about them. An acceptable alternative would be to take a pointer from our Secretary of State and buy a pantsuit. The fact we know that you don't shave your legs makes our parents angry they sent us to an educational institution.
9. NO MORE FOOD DRESSES
This really only applies to Lady Gaga, although Ke$ha may be next with a roadkill dress and the edible nature of that VMA meat dress is sort of debatable. If such instance arises, reporters will draft amendments for clarification.
10. TEEN IDOLS MUST STOP SELLING CREEPY, STRANGE, OR INAPPROPRIATE MERCHANDISE
Boy teen idols selling nail polish? And underwear for little girls with pictures of their faces? Pillows with their initials? Underwear for little boys with celebs' faces on them? J. Beibs, stop the madness. This is just creepy.
By signing this document you agree to these stipulations. If you are found in breach of these rules, you may find your celebrity status in low esteem and the number of headlines bearing your name will be significantly diminished. We will also accept a lack of signatures in exchange for your attempts to simply follow these rules. Just knock it off, okay guys?
___________________________________ Jan 1, 2011
___________________________________ Jan 1, 2011
___________________________________ Jan 1, 2011
Top Story: Miramax Backs Michael Moore's 9/11 Film
Miramax films is stepping in to back Michael Moore's next project, Fahrenheit 911, a source familiar with the deal told Reuters Monday. The documentary, slated for release in the fall of 2004, will depict what has happened to America since the events of September 11, 2001. It will also touch on the personal relationship between President George H. W. Bush and the family of terrorist Osama bin Laden, as well as the events that led Bush and bin Laden to become mortal enemies. Actor Mel Gibson's Icon Productions originally paid an eight-figure sum plus potential backend for the rights to the documentary, but later dropped out of the financing deal. According to Reuters, Miramax will provide a few million dollars in temporary "bridge" funding, which offers the studio less risk and a lower return than longer-term financing. Moore's last film, Bowling for Columbine, won an Oscar in March for best documentary.
Director Claims To Have Blueprint for B.O. Hits
A British academic said she has found the perfect recipe to make a box office hit. London University's Sue Clayton told a crowd at the Cannes Film Festival Tuesday that the blueprint for the perfect film is 30 percent action, 17 percent comedy, 13 percent good-versus-evil, 12 percent sex/romance, 10 percent special effects, 10 percent plot and eight percent music. Clayton's study is based on watching and breaking down the components of a range of hit films. What film matched the recipe the closest? Pixar Animations' Toy Story 2.
Judge Restrains Bullock's Stalker
A Los Angeles judge Friday granted a restraining order sought by Sandra Bullock against a 34-year-old mentally ill man she says has stalked her in three states for more than a year. According to Reuters, Thomas James Weldon, who suffers from paranoid schizophrenia and refuses to take medication, has inundated Bullock's family, agent and production company with faxes, e-mails and voicemail messages, asking for money and intimacy with the actress. Weldon has been ordered not to contact Bullock and to stay at least 200 yards from her until a June 6 hearing in the matter.
NBC Seeks Huge Ad Rates for Friends Finale
NBC is asking for $2 million per 30-second advertisement spots for the two-hour series finale of Friends, set to air in May 2004. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the network, which generally charges about $450,000 for a 30-second spot for the show, will likely come up with other promotional tie-in opportunities for advertisers who pay the hefty $2 million fee. NBC is shelling out $10 million per episode for the last 18 original episodes of Friends.
The Smoking Gun Coming to TV
Cabler Court TV is debuting a new show in August based on The Smoking Gun Web site, Reuters reports. TSG (www.thesmokinggun.com) is known for posting often embarrassing but public court documents in cases involving celebrities and the quasi-famous. The Smoking Gun TV will be hosted by Mo Roca, who is currently the senior political correspondent for Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. The first two episodes will premiere on Court TV Aug. 20.
NBC, MTV Renew Daly Shows
NBC has picked up Carson Daly's talk show Last Call with Carson Daly for the next year, while MTV has renewed Total Request Live for the next two years, The Associated Press reports. Daly has been hosting the afternoon video countdown show TRL since 1998, but has appeared less frequently on the program since developing the late-night talker. The new contract at MTV calls for Daly to continue hosting and serving as an executive producer on TRL, as well as produce special events including Spring Break and Spankin' New Music Week.
George Lucas Leaps Into Digital Animation
Star Wars creator George Lucas is forming a new division, Lucasfilm Animation, to make computer-animated films. A spokeswoman for Lucas told Reuters the new unit, an offshoot of Lucas' special effects company Industrial Light & Magic, is still in its beginning stages and does not even have a project to talk about. Lucas, however, is no stranger to digital animation. In 1986, Lucas sold Lucasfilms' computer graphics division to Apple Computer's Steve Jobs for $10 million. The company, now known as Pixar Animation, has a market capitalization of roughly $3.2 billion and produced films such as Toy Story and Monsters, Inc.
Michael Jackson Sues Universal Music
Pop oddity Michael Jackson filed a lawsuit Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court against Universal Music Group, claiming the record company owes him royalties for the re-release of songs he made with the Jackson 5 and as a solo artist from 1969 to 1976. The recordings were made for Motown Records, which was later acquired by Universal Music Group. Jackson seeks an accounting of royalties owed and unspecified damages. He also wants a 1980 agreement that forfeited his right to royalties for songs released before that time voided and ownership of his Motown master recordings.