Just when you thought Marvel couldn’t possibly have anything left to announce after last week’s revelations about Thor, Captain America, and The Avengers: Age of Ultron, the studio took advantage of everyone’s lowered guard on Friday night to unveil the release dates of five new films (via The Playlist). Though the dates are just placeholders at the moment, it does show that Marvel has enough confidence in their blockbusters and the mapped-out future of their cinematic universe to plan out releases through to 2019. The studio has yet to drop any hints as to the identities of these scheduled films – though they are expected to make some major announcements at this weekend’s San Diego Comic-Con – but that hasn’t stopped fans and critics speculating as to when we will next see some of our favorite superheroes.
We do know that one of those dates will belong to the third installment of the Avengers films, which will mark the end of the studio’s third phase of films, and bring the first major, overarching storylines to an end. Other slots are rumored to belong to the third Thor and Avengers films, and while those are likely guesses, we can’t help but hope that some of those proposed dates might be reserved for something different, something even more exciting than the follow-up to the dissolution of S.H.I.E.L.D. or the rising threat of Thanos. We already know that after Age of Ultron drops in May of 2015, we’ll finally get Ant-Man two months later, and Captain America 3 in 2016, but we have some ideas for what we’d like to see Marvel release in the following few years, along with what we think they actually will release.
July 8, 2016 What We’d Like: A Black Widow film. Of all the possible female-fronted superhero films that Marvel could make, Black Widow seems most likely to get the first one. After all, Scarlett Johansson has been part of the MCU for years now, and her character has become a fan favorite, as well as an integral part of the Avengers team. 2016 would be the perfect time for her to finally get a solo film, since the effects of Captain America: The Winter Soldier would still be rippling through the universe, and whatever happens in Age of Ultron is likely to raise the stakes of Natasha’s past being revealed even further. What We’ll Probably Get: The first installment in the Dr. Strange franchise. The film already has a director lined up and the lead is expected to be announced at Comic-Con, so it seems as if the wheels for this one are steadily in motion. The release of Ant-Man in 2015 will mark Marvel’s shift towards a new group of characters and a new phase of the MCU, so it would make sense that they would want to roll out new heroes together.
May 5, 2017 What We’d Like: If Marvel’s planning to unveil their new characters together, this would be the time to make a Black Panther movie. The studio has been rumored to be planning one for several years now, with everyone from Idris Elba and Falcon himself, Anthony Mackie, rumored to be in talks for the lead role. Marvel’s also expected to make some kind of announcement about the film this weekend, which means that a possible 2017 release date isn’t entirely out of the question. And since T’Challa is such a major force in the comics, it would be the perfect time to integrate him into the universe. What We’ll Probably Get: It’s got to be Thor 3. Thanks to the massive success of last year’s Iron Man 3, May seems to be the best time for Marvel to roll out the third installments in their franchises. They’ve already got Captain America scheduled for the spring of 2016, and since both that film and Thor 3 are likely to have major impacts on the third Avengers, this seems to be a great spot to allow the after-effects to really resonate.
July 28, 2017 What We’d Like: Guardians of the Galaxy 2. We know that the first one hasn’t even hit theaters yet, but we’re incredibly excited to see this merry band of misfits to team up and protect the galaxy. Saving the second for 2017 would make it the perfect halfway point between Age of Ultron and the third Avengers film, much like how the studio lined up the first Guardians of the Galaxy to bridge the gap between the first two Avengers films. It should also provide a nice break from the characters in the Avengers, since most of them are likely to get solo films of their own in the intervening years (sorry, Hawkeye). What We’ll Probably Get: Guardians of the Galaxy 2 seems like a safe bet for the summer of 2017. Plus, if the first film does well after its August 1 release, it would make sense for Marvel to hold the second one to the end of the summer, much like how they’re filling the spring with threequels.
November 3, 2017 What We’d Like: Captain Marvel is long overdue for entry into the film universe. November would be the perfect time for Carol Danvers to make her big screen debut, especially since female-fronted action films have done extremely well there in recent years with The Hunger Games trilogy. There would be a bit less competition there than a summer release date would have, which might make a hesitant studio much more likely to take a chance on a new property. Plus, it would allow her to interact with the Guardians of the Galaxy – her powers come from an interaction with a Kree alien, which would make more sense in that universe than the Avengers’ – which would give those films the same kind of continuity that the Avengers films have. What We’ll Probably Get: Third time’s the charm right? That will probably be the rationale behind the Planet Hulk movie that will most likely hit in November of 2017. Mark Ruffalo has dropped a lot of hints about the possibility of a Hulk solo film, and Marvel is rumored to be making some kind of announcement about it this weekend, so it wouldn’t be a total shock if the studio decided to take on more chance on the big green guy.
July 6, 2018 What We’d Like: If there’s any time to test out a possible Young Avengers film, the summer of 2018 would be the best time to do so. Sure, part of us just wants to see Kate Bishop and co. sass people while saving the world, but it would also be pretty easy to build the Young Avengers into the MCU, thanks to the Netflix series that will introduce Jessica Jones, who first discovers the team. It would also allow them to introduce new characters that could be incorporated into the third Avengers film, or even set up their possible takeover of the MCU after Phase 3 is complete. What We’ll Probably Get: Though many are predicting that this is when Marvel would roll out a potential Black Widow movie, it seems a bit more likely to be a sequel slot. The most likely candidate would be Ant-Man 2, since the first one will hit theaters in July of 2015, which would give the studio plenty of time to work out a creative team – and if it has any of the issues the first one did, they’ll need that extra time – and the impact the character will have on the third Avengers film. Ant-Man is a goofier superhero, so a summer release seems like a solid fit for the follow-up film.
November 2, 2018 What We’d Like: There are a few possibilities we’d be open to for the fall of 2018; it would be a good time to roll out a Black Panther 2 or a Captain Marvel 2, since, in a perfect world, those characters would have movies by then, and also be playing a significant part in the MCU. We’d also take a Quicksilver and The Scarlet Witch spinoff film, although that might be a bit difficult for Marvel to work out; the characters are being split between the MCU and the X-Men universes, and contract issues might prohibit them from being the leads in their own film. What We’ll Probably Get: If July gets the Ant-Man sequel, expect November 2018 to be all about Dr. Strange 2. The timing would be right, especially if he’s going to be joining the Avengers for their third outing, and as Thor: The Dark World proved, the fall is a good time for superhero blockbusters that deal with a bit more magic, mysticism and planet-hopping than their summer counterparts do.
May 3, 2019 What We’d Like: There’s only one option for the final open slot: Avengers 3. Like we said earlier, May is the perfect time for Marvel to release its threequels, and May would be the perfect time of year to wrap up the third phase of the MCU, as it would leave them the option to release something from outside this particular continuity in the summer – like a third Guardians of the Galaxy – or to simply leave the summer months alone so that fans can really soak in the actions and consequences of the third Avengers film, and since Marvel’s the kind of studio to go out with a bang, they’ll probably need all the recovery time they can get. What We’ll Probably Get: This is definitely the slot for Avengers 3. Nothing else would even remotely make sense here, and we’re completely happy with that.
Looks like Westeros could use a Jerry Springer of its own. Despite leaving the show in a shocking, violent manner three years ago, Sean Bean revealed to Vulture that he wants to make another appearance on Game of Thrones… if only to settle a custody dispute. The former Ned Stark was delighted to find out that the show might be planning some flashbacks in the upcoming season that would allow him to drop by the Seven Kingdoms and clear up some “unfinished business”: “I'm obviously not Jon Snow's dad. And you need that to be revealed at some point, don't you? So Bran would kind of be the one having the flashback, and he would see Ned praying, right? And revealing those things?”
Before you get too excited, though, nothing about the flashbacks or Jon Snow’s true lineage has officially been confirmed, but it does seem as if Bean agrees with the popular fan theory that posits that Jon is actually the son of Ned’s sister, Lyanna Stark, and Rhaegar Targaryen. The theory, which is based on several key pieces of evidence presented in the books that unfortunately didn’t make their way into the show, states that Lyanna and Rhaegar ran away together, and when Ned found her in the middle of the war, in a bed filled with blood, he made her a promise that he kept for the rest of his life. That promise was to raise her son as his own, and keep him safe from Robert Baratheon, her betrothed, who would kill the baby for being a Targaryen. As the series has grown in length and popularity over the years, this idea has become one of the most dominant points of speculation, and a video breaking down all of the evidence supporting it recently went viral.
While we still have to wait for George R.R. Martin himself to confirm or refute the theory, it would have a major effect on the series if it were true. Firstly, being the son of Rhaegar would not only mean that Jon is Ned’s nephew, but Daenerys’ as well, which gives him a claim to the Iron Throne. In fact, it would give him a better claim to becoming King of Westeros than the one Dany has, since he would be Rhaegar’s immediate heir. However, it seems unlikely that Jon would be able to actually rule the kingdom, since unless Rhaegar and Lyanna married in secret, he would still be a bastard. He could, of course, be legitimized in some way – much like Ramsay Bolton was at the end of Season 4 – but even then, as a member of Night’s Watch, he wouldn’t be allowed to own property or wear a crown. Depending on what happens in the sixth book, he might be able to find a loophole in those rules, but as of right now, Jon’s loyalty is to the Wall.
Therefore, it’s hard to really predict the exact repercussions that Jon’s true lineage would have on Westeros as a whole. Some fans have speculated that having both Stark and Targaryen blood would make Jon the “Song of Ice and Fire” that is mentioned in the title of the series. Since some Starks are wargs, and some Targaryens have the kind of powers normally associated with dragons, it could be possible that Jon has some kind of power as well, which Martin will likely reveal later in the series.
The “Ice and Fire” could also have something to do with Dany. Fans have been waiting for her and Jon to interact for years now, and if they are related, that could make a meeting between the two much more likely. Perhaps their shared lineage would allow them to form an alliance of some sort, as Dany’s army and Jon’s command of the Wall would be beneficial to both of them. Alternatively, it could create some kind of competition between them, especially since Dany has lived her whole life believing that she is the only person in Westeros who should rightfully inherit the Iron Throne.
There’s also been speculation that Jon being Lyanna’s son makes him the third part of the Three-Headed Dragon that is if often talked about, which prophecies the person meant to rule Westeros. Some fans believe that the three people who make up the dragon’s heads are the children whose mothers died in childbirth: Dany, Tyrion, and Jon. Martin noting that Ned made his promise to Lyanna while she was in a “blood-soaked” bed seems to imply that she died giving birth to Jon, which makes him a likely candidate to be one of the dragon’s heads. Others think that the Three-Headed Dragon is made up of three people with Targaryen blood, since Aemon I conquered Westeros with two other people, and so Jon, Dany and Maester Aemon would be the ones the prophecy refers to. Alternatively, being the embodiment of the “Song of Ice and Fire” thanks to his parents could mean that Jon is Azhor Ahai, the prince who has been promised by the Lord of the Light to lead the people out of darkness. If fans have correctly predicted what will happen in Book 6, then it seems like Jon might indeed be the savior of the Seven Kingdoms.
Regardless of whether any of this is true, Jon discovering who his parents really are would be important to him on a personal level, as it would finally give him a sense of self and belonging. He has spent his whole life feeling like an outsider, and he has never been able to fit in with any group. If he can learn where he truly comes from, he might be able to find some kind of inner peace, and then maybe he can stop moping around so much. Still, we’ll have to wait until Martin finishes the series in order to find out if any of these theories are correct, and get the answers we’ve been clamoring for. Although, at the rate he’s going, we’ll probably never get any answers at all.
This Post Contains Spoilers for the Upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy!
With all of the attention surrounding the Avengers franchise in the last few days, Marvel wanted to make sure the world didn’t forget that they have another team of superheroes hitting screens in just a couple of weeks. And the way they chose to go about that was by revealing a cast list that let some of the most exciting, buzzed about and truly bizarre cameos in Guardians of the Galaxy slip to the entire Internet. According to Stitch Kingdom, cult favorite Nathan Fillion will be appearing as “Monstrous Inmate,” – which is a bit of a letdown, considering the amount of press his cameos has generated over the past few months – Stan Lee will play “Xandarian Ladies Man,” and Howard the Duck will be making an appearance as himself.
Yes, you read that last sentence correctly: Howard the Duck will be in Guardians of the Galaxy. It hasn’t be revealed why, when, or how he will make a cameo, but he will be there, and Stitch Kingdom has the casting scroll to prove it. But as absurd as it seems to have Howard the Duck, who despite his divisive feature film is a Marvel fan favorite, appear in Guardians of the Galaxy, it doesn’t even come close to topping the list of the most bizarre character crossovers and cameos. Seriously, there are things out there that are stranger and more confusing than the prospect of Howard hanging out with Rocket and Groot. Don’t believe us? Take a look for yourself:
Charles Barkley and Godzilla The union of the five-time NBA All-Star and two-time Hall of Famer and the giant mutant lizard that has been known to both spit fire and shoot lasers from his eyes was originally conceived as a Nike ad, and later expanded into a comic book. Because nothing says “cool sneakers” like a basketball-playing kaiju that can’t actually fit his giant feet into shoes. Also, who was buying that comic book?
Spider-Man and Ren and Stimpy There was once a time when you hadn’t properly made it until your cartoon got its own comic book. Unfortunately, some shows just aren’t meant to be read, and Ren & Stimpy is one of them, so when the comic book (unsurprisingly) failed to sell, they brought in the big guns: Spider Man. In true Ren & Stimpy fashion, Spidey took on Powdered Toast Man, that beloved vigilante superhero/breakfast food spokesman. If you’ve ever wanted to know what it was like to read a 12-year-old's fever dream, this is the comic for you.
Superman and the Quik Bunny Spider-Man isn’t the only superhero to succumb to some very obvious product placement. Superman one teamed up with the Quik Bunny, purveyor of powder that makes your milk brown, in order to fight the Weather Man, a lame villain with fourth-tier powers and a costume that made him look like he was starring in a community theater production of Robin Hood. At least Spider-Man had the dignity of fighting with a fictional breakfast-hero.
Inspector Gadget and Mario and Luigi Remember the Super Mario Bros. Super Show!? No? Well, that’s probably for the best, but it does mean that you missed seeing Inspector Gadget, the world’s more over-equipped and incompetent detective, get his various malfunctioning parts fixed by Mario and Luigi, who are supposed to be plumbers. You probably wouldn’t be surprised to find out that it goes horribly wrong, to no-doubt hilarious consequences. Clearly, the moral of this episode was to play to your strengths, and maybe not to call a plumber to fix a wire problem.
Archie and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles On some level, this one probably makes some sense. After all, Archie and his friends are teenagers, and so are the Ninja Turtles. Both groups like pizza and video games and, from the looks of the cover, dance parties. But what’s really strange about this crossover is that it happened as the result of the Turtles being spit out by a giant cow head, which apparently allowed them to hop through various dimensions. Mutant ninja turtles or no, there had to be an easier way to get these guys to Riverdale.
Arthur and Mr. Rogers In what is perhaps the most well-meaning, mild-mannered crossover of all time, Mr. Rogers appeared on an episode of Arthur that centered around Arthur being embarrassed that the friendliest man on television was going to be staying at his house. Of course, this conflict is solved with a charming heart-to-heart that taught children that real friends don’t make fun of their friends for what they like. Unless that thing is Transformers. Not even Mr. Rogers can endorse Michael Bay.
Marvel Superheroes and Guiding Light You know who’s really into comic books and superheroes? The kind of people who religiously watch daytime soap operas – we’re assuming that was the pitch that got Guiding Light to team up with Marvel on a crossover episode that saw soccer mom Harley Davidson Cooper gain superpowers after being struck by lightning on Halloween night and transform into Guiding Light. (Seriously.) The saddest part of this is that Marvel clearly didn’t learn anything from their failed experiment at reaching a new audience, since they had the Thor announcement revealed on The View.
Batman and Robin and Scooby Doo When it comes to crime-fighting teams, there are two that stand above everyone else: Batman and Robin and the Mystery Gang. So teaming them up on The New Scooby Doo Movies to uncover a hooded counterfeiter who’s been sending the Penguin and the Joker fake money makes perfect sense, right? Sure, if you live in a world where Mrs. Baker is on the same level of super villainy as two of the most iconic comic book villains of all time. Fun fact: this episode was so poorly received that Batman later made fun of it in an episode of his own.
Cartoon All-Stars to the RescueThe plot of this movie sees cartoon favorites like Winnie the Pooh, Alvin and the Chipmunks, the Muppet Babies, the Looney Toons, and the Smurfs come to life in order to convince Michael to stop smoking pot, drinking, and stealing from his sister’s piggy bank for drug money. Because if anything is going to convince someone to stop doing drugs, it’s a bunch of cartoon characters who suddenly come to life and sing songs about life choices. Clearly, all D.A.R.E. really needed to be effective was Daffy Duck.
It’s been a big week for Marvel fans. First, the company unveiled the new Thor, a woman who takes over the title and responsibilities of the God of Thunder after the current Thor is deemed unworthy to wield Mjolnir, and then the first look at the villains of The Avengers: Age of Ultron was revealed along with their new, Iron Man-centric backstories. But Marvel wasn’t quite done yet, and on Wednesday night, they turned to The Colbert Show to reveal that Sam Wilson, better known as Falcon, would be carrying the shield as the new Captain America.
The shift-in-power comes after Steve Rogers’ body has been drained of the super serum that turned him into Cap in the first place, which resulted in him rapidly ageing to better reflect his 95 years of age. Since he’s no longer to be the hero that America deserves, the mantle falls to his good buddy Sam, who will officially make his debut in the stars and stripes in All New Captain America #1. Iron Man will also be getting a makeover alongside Thor and Cap, and in the Superior Iron Man #1, fans will see Tony Stark move to San Francisco in his new, shiny silver suit, in order to make some changes that not all of the Bay Area’s residents take to, resulting in a darker, more temperamental hero. Of course, all of these changes lead to one big question: how will this affect the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Thus far, the two have operated as separate continuities, but both the solo and Avengers films take their cues from the comics. But while it’s likely that Tony’s new attitude might bleed over into his movie counterpart, the real thing that fans are wondering is whether or not Anthony Mackie will get to inherit the shield from Chris Evans. And it’s a possibility we’ve been thinking a lot about as well.
Why We Might See Mackie as Captain America: Though it’s the first time that Falcon has inherited the title of Captain America, he has a long history of carrying the shield whenever Steve is hurt or otherwise incapacitated, and has temporarily filled in for Cap multiple times over his fifty year run in the comics. Although Bucky Barnes’ stint as Cap is better known, Sam actually has a bigger history in the stars and stripes to draw from. Picking Sam as the new Cap would open up a lot more possibilities for the writers in terms of the stories they could tell and the comic books they could draw from.
Depending on how many movies Evans has left in his contract, it could also allow them to switch to a new Cap sooner than they could with Bucky, who at the end of The Winter Soldier still doesn’t remember anything about his life before becoming a HYDRA super-assassin. Passing the mantle to Falcon would allow them more time with Bucky’s story, and they wouldn’t need to rush through his discovery and recovery process in order to get him into Cap’s uniform quickly. Bucky’s story is a complex, compelling one, and it would be a shame to see the films bypass a lot of what makes it so interesting simply to rush him into a new uniform. The recent films’ focus on the psychological consequences of being a superhero has been one of the most engaging and entertaining parts of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and Bucky is a prime candidate to explore more of those issues, and to add new layers to the story.
At this point in the films, Sam is in a better position to take over for Cap. His dedication to helping Steve, no questions asked, and to supporting him on his quest to repair the damage that HYDRA has done to S.H.I.E.L.D. and the American people is very reminiscent of Steve’s willingness to do anything to protect America, its ideals, and its people. Like Steve, he is a good guy through and through, the kind of person who would protect, inspire and encourage the American people, which is exactly what Captain America is supposed to do. Sam already embodies much of what makes Captain America the hero he is, just a little flashier and a little louder. Mackie is also in a slightly better position to inherit the franchise than Sebastian Stan is. Though both are talented actors who have been working for a long time, and are just starting to break through to the mainstream, Mackie is a bit more well-known and dynamic than Stan, which will no doubt come in handy with all of the press and fan attention that the actor who plays Captain America will have to deal with. And like both Evans and Stan, Mackie is a fan favorite, having won over everyone with his enthusiasm for his character. Nobody loves Falcon more than Mackie, and nobody would love being Cap more than Mackie would.
Why We Probably Won’t See Mackie As Captain America: Unfortunately, it seems seriously unlikely that we will ever see Sam inherit the title of Captain America on the big screen. Since Marvel plans out every part of their Cinematic Universe well in advance of the films’ release, they have been laying the seeds for Bucky to take over for Cap for some time now, dropping hints in both Captain America films that foreshadow his eventual ascent to the title. It seems unlikely that they would abandon the foundations that they have been laying for years now in order to give Sam the shield, even if it would be a smart decision.
Making Falcon the new Captain America would also risk angering the very vocal subset of fans who are reluctant to see any drastic changes made to the characters that they have become so comfortable with. Any time a character’s race gets changed – like when Miles Morales became Spider Man or Michael B. Jordan was cast as Johnny Storm in the Fantastic Four or Samuel L. Jackson was picked to play Nick Fury – some fans get upset about it, and because their negative outlook gets attention from both press and other fans, the studios become convinced that their position is the one that the entire fandom holds. Studios aren’t going to want to risk alienating a major part of their audience, and so they continue to make the safest choices imaginable. Why else do you think it’s taken so long for us to get a female-fronted superhero film?
Despite the quality of their films and the diversity of the heroes and comic books they have to offer, Marvel is still focused on pleasing their fans in order to make money. That means that if they think that audiences will be happier watching the white dudes they’re comfortable with save the world, that’s what they’re going to give them. It doesn’t matter how many issues Sam’s tenure as Captain America sells, or how much praise the books get, transitioning from Evans to Stan is the safer choice, and therefore the one most likely to make the most moviegoers happy. By catering to the fans who make the most noise, even if they’re the smallest subset of the fandom, Marvel will feel like it’s catering to the entire fanbase, which is why it’s so difficult to get Hollywood studios to break away from their standard formula.
On top of that, there’s no telling exactly how long Sam’s run as Cap will last. Comic books are constantly revamping and rebooting themselves, which means that plots are constantly being retconned and changed. If Sam is only going to have a short run as Cap, then the filmmakers might be hesitant to restructure the films around this new development, especially if they’re worried about how fans will react. Yes, Bucky’s time as Cap wasn’t particularly long, but the shift in power has been around long enough that they not only know how fans feel about it, but they’ve also been able to work out how best to incorporate it into the films.
We might only get to see Sam as Captain America in the comic books, but at least we have the knowledge that even that is enough to make Anthony Mackie the happiest person on earth right now. And when Mackie's happy, everyone is.
Entertainment Weekly/Marco Grob/Marvel
There are dozens of superhero movies in theaters, in the middle of filming and still in development, but the biggest and most exciting of all is 2015’s The Avengers: Age of Ultron. Thanks to the track record of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the massive, rippling consequences of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, fans are dying to find out more about the next adventure of Cap, Iron Man, Black Widow, Hawkeye, and the Hulk. Entertainment Weekly was kind enough to oblige with their annual Comic-Con preview issue. First, they unveiled Ultron on the cover, giving everyone a look at the super-powerful, hyper-intelligent AI that the Avengers will be facing this time around. If his appearance reminds you of a particular genius/billionaire/playboy/superhero, that’s because it’s supposed to.
Turns out that Ultron is actually a creation of Iron Man himself, which director Joss Whedon revealed in an interview. What was intended as a kind of AI sidekick for the team backfired with spectacular results, creating the villain you see before you, and forcing the Avengers to face the only thing more difficult to fight than an army of teleporting aliens. Whedon’s reveal is the first major hint we’ve gotten as to the plot of the film and how it will handle the aftermath of The Winter Soldier, so we thought we’d break down everything that EW revealed in order to determine how much we actually know about the next Avengers movie, and how much we’re still guessing at.
What We Know: As we saw in Iron Man 3, the Avengers are having a difficult time dealing with the consequences of saving the world. Now that SH.I.E.L.D. is no more, they have to take care of every threat themselves. So Tony, in an attempt to give the team some time to recover, invents Ultron, a “self-aware, self-teaching, artificial intelligence designed to help assess threats, and direct Stark’s Iron Legion of drones to battle evildoers instead.” Of course, the whole thing ends up backfiring and creating perhaps the biggest threat to humanity the world has ever seen.
According to Whedon, Ultron isn’t evil so much as he is lacking in human emotions. Once he realizes that the biggest threat to life on Earth is humanity itself, he decides to eradicate it in order to – in a roundabout, overly-logical way – save the planet. Unfortunately for the Avengers, since Ultron is so self-aware and constantly learning, he figures out that he’s not just a robot, which would be easily destroyed, but a computer program capable of uploading itself to the Cloud and then replicating in increasingly more complex and powerful forms. Basically, they’re keeping everything that made Ultron such a long-standing, formidable villain, but reworking his origin somewhat for the modern age.
What We Don’t: Also featured in EW’s preview are the twins (the Marvel Cinematic Universe can’t actually call them mutants), Petyr and Wanda Maximoff a.k.a. Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, and although we know that they’ll play a significant role in the film, we don’t know if they’ll be on the Avengers’ side or on Ultron’s. They were introduced in a mid-credits scene during The Winter Soldier in the custody of Baron von Strucker, and the magazine seems to hint that they might not be the good guys. We're curious as to how they manage to join up with the Avengers in the first place, and how much of a hand Baron von Strucker will have in that introduction...
We'll have to keep speculating about that, since we also know nothing about how big of a role Strucker himself will play in the new film. Casting Thomas Kretschmann to play him seems to suggest that he’s going to be very important very soon – if you’ll recall, Thanos didn’t get an official voice until recently – but most of the Avengers’ focus so far seems to be on Ultron. Although, considering the fact that this film seems to get a new villain every time we look away, that's proabbly a good thing. And speaking of Thanos, we’re still not sure if he’ll be making an appearance in Age of Ultron, or if he’ll be content to just torment the Guardians of the Galaxy for now.
What We Suspect: The other new addition to the cast, besides Quicksilver and the Scarlet witch, is Vision, who in the comics is an android created by Ultron in order to enact revenge on his creator. However, a few months ago, it was reported that Paul Bettany, who voices Tony Stark’s AI butler, JARVIS, was doing makeup tests for the character, which led some to speculate that JARVIS will be turning to the dark side. EW’s reveal of Ultron’s new origin seems to fit those suspicions quite well. After all, if one AI that Tony has created has turned evil, what’s stopping the other one from switching allegiances as well? And even if Tony isn’t the reason that JARVIS has gone bad, it would make perfect sense for Ultron to turn him against their creator. Granted, we could be wrong, and they could have just been using Bettany as a temporary stand-in, as the studio refuted, but this is all lining up rather nicely, so we’re going to trust our gut on this one.
Now all we need is for someone to confirm whether or not Sam Wilson and Falcon will join up with the team, and we can really start to get excited.
Looks like they won't be "live from New York" any longer. After a difficult, uneven season that saw an influx of new cast members, controversy and the loss of Head Writer and "Weekend Update" host Seth Meyers halfway through the year, Saturday Night Live is by cutting down its slate of featured players down to a more manageable size. Brooks Wheelan announced that he would be leaving Tuesday morning on Twitter (via a joke, natch). Later in the day, it was announced that Noël Wells and John Milhiser also wouldn't return after they failed to make an impression with audiences this year. Those announcements come about a month after Nasim Pedrad, one of the current longest-running cast members, would be leaving to work on Mulaney.
But just because they won't be on SNL any longer, that doesn't mean that it's the last we'll ever see of Wheelan, Wells, Milhiser and Pedrad. There are plenty of people who only lasted a couple of seasons on the show and then went on to become major stars: Sarah Silverman, Damon Wayans, Rob Riggle, and Iron Man himself, Robert Downey Jr., to name just a few. With that in mind, we decided to take a look back at their tenure on SNL in order to best predict what's next for Wheelan, Wells, Milhiser and Pedrad. Although if any one of them is going to wind up playing a superhero, our money's on Heshy.
Brooks Wheelan What’s Next: Wheelan doesn’t have a lot lined up at the moment, though he does have a short film titled Lose Yourself, Save Yourself, where he plays Fighter 2. His Strengths: Possibly because he comes from a standup background rather than a sketch one, Wheelan didn’t create very many memorable characters, and his most significant moments on the show were his two appearances as himself on “Weekend Update,” where he would warn audiences against the dangers of getting terrible tattoos and binge drinking. Where We See Him: Wheelan seems to embody the same kind of “goofy, wisecracking All-American” guy that actors like Jake Johnson or fellow SNL alum Jason Sudeikis trade on. We could easily see him bringing some of the energy to a sitcom where he plays the sarcastic straight guy to a group of off-the-wall characters. Still, his weirdly funny exterminator bit with Ed Norton proves he’s capable of some truly strange characters, and so we could see him playing smaller, supporting roles in films for a while as a variety of strange, obnoxious characters. And of course, there’s always his stand up career to fall back on…
Noël Wells What’s Next: Wells has the TV series Gentleman Lobsters, which is slated for a 2014 premiere. She’s also a photographer in her spare time, and her work has been showcased in exhibitions and been printed in magazines. Her Strengths: Though they were slightly hit and miss – her Nancy Grace was four minutes of eye twitches and catchphrases – Wells made the biggest impact on the show through her impressions, most notably, playing Lena Dunham in the season premiere’s parody of Girls. Where We See Her: Though her talent with impressions and slightly offbeat characters would serve her well on another sketch show, something along the lines of Inside Amy Schumer or Key and Peele, Wells most reminds us of two other early SNL departures: Jenny Slate and Casey Wilson. Like them, Wells has a quirky charm to her that would serve her well in indie films (she actually earned solid reviews for her work in last year’s Forev) and in an ensemble sitcom, where she would be free to play up her weirder side.
John Milhiser What’s Next: Like Wheelan, Milhiser has a short film on his slate, Little Horribles, and he also starred in the indie film Camp Takota, which is available online. His Strengths: Milhiser didn’t get much of a chance to make an impression on audiences, although eh did show off a pitch-perfect Jon Cryer impression during a Family Feud sketch. He did, however, have one highlight during his tenure, a sketch where he and Lady Gaga played “encouraging” stage parents helping their child through a talent show performance, which let him show off his goofier side, and his ability to execute a high kick. Where We See Him: Milhiser strikes us as a Ben Falcone or Nat Faxon-type, someone who pops up in different things all the time, playing characters with varying levels of insanity and oddity. He’s definitely shown that he can play both weird and silly characters, but since he didn’t make that much of an impression, he’ll probably be “that guy from that thing” for a while, until he manages to find the right project to help him break out.
Nasim Pedrad What’s Next: After five years on SNL, Pedrad is leaving in order to play Jane, the roommate of John Mulaney’s character on the FOX sitcom Mulaney. Her Strengths: During her time on the show, Pedrad played a wide variety of characters, including Kim Kardashian, Arianna Huffington, Bedelia, the awkward teenager whose best friend is her mother and Shallon, the world’s most dangerous fifth grader. Though she never made the kind of impression that Kristen Wiig and Kate McKinnon have, she’s become a vital part of the ensemble over the past five years, thanks to her ability to inhabit both the sanest and the oddest human beings. Where We See Her: Hopefully, her role on Mulaney will be exactly what she needs to properly break out, since she never quite managed to on SNL. From there, we could see her following a similar career path to Wiig or Tina Fey, playing both broad comedy and more serious roles in both television in movies. Alternatively, she could become more of a Michaela Watkins/Ana Gasteyer- type, and becoming the go-to actress for slightly odd, scene-stealing characters.
Universal Pictures via Everett Collection
The sex comedy is a very tricky genre of film to get right. If it's too focused on the raunchier side of things it becomes an endless string of gags, all attempting to be outrageous for the sake of being outrageous. But if it's too worried about being over-the-top, it might as well be any other generic romantic comedy. Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel are the latest to try their hands at it with their latest film, Sex Tape, which hits theaters on Friday. In the film, they play a married couple who film themselves in the act in an attempt to spice up their lives... only to accidentally forward the explicit video to all of their family members, friends, and colleagues. Normally, we'd be a bit wary of any upcoming sex-focused comedy, but both Segel and Diaz are old hands at the genre, thanks to their experience in films by Judd Apatow and the Farrelly Brothers. Therefore, we can only hope that Sex Tape will be the latest film to join the highly-competitive pantheon of sex comedies that are actually good movies. It's a small group, but a prestigious honor to behold. Here are our picks for the films that have already earned the title:
The 40-Year-Old Virgin The film that helped Judd Apatow break into the mainstream and established Steve Carell as a movie star, The 40-Year-Old Virgin has a pretty obvious premise: Andy has made it to 40 without having sex, so his buddies try and help him step up his game. It could have been an unfunny, over-the-top movie about a loser and his creepy friends, but Apatow managed to subvert all of our expectations (well, maybe not the creepy friends), and create a movie with just as much heart as humor. A lot of that is due to Carell, whose Andy is not just awkward and nerdy, but also endearing, goofy, and a genuinely good guy.
Superbad The rare sex comedy that doesn’t actually feature any sex, Superbad was the movie that put Jonah Hill on the path to becoming a two-time Oscar nominee, made Michael Cera the face of awkward teenagers everywhere, and made everyone overuse the McLovin joke for a solid month or so. Much of its success is due to its ability to transform a tired plot – teenagers go on a mission to impress girls so they’ll sleep with them – into a love story between two best friends. Surprisingly sweet and heartfelt but still hysterically funny, Superbad proves that sometimes, a little heart can go a long way.
Easy A Like in her breakthrough film, Superbad, Emma Stone’s character doesn’t actually have sex in Easy A, but that doesn’t stop her from telling everyone she did in order to bolster her reputation. Where most teen sex comedies focus on the guys who are trying desperately to get some, Easy A takes a different approach and looks at the effects that rumors of promiscuity can have on a high school girl’s social standing, and the hypocritical ways that we, as a society, treat sex. A sharp, smart, and endlessly charming film, it’s no wonder that it was the film to turn Stone into a proper movie star.
Don Jon Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s directorial and screenwriting debut centers on Jon, a Jersey-bred bartender who only cares about his friends, his family, his looks, and his porn. His attempt at a relationship with Barbara (Scarlett Johansson), a rom-com-obsessed bombshell, fails when he refuses to give up his Internet addiction for her, and so he is forced to confront his perceptions of what sex and love are. Though the best parts of the film are centered on Johansson, Don Jon is also worth a watch for its original, humorous take on the typical romantic and/or sex comedy.
Screen Gems via Everett Collection
Friends With Benefits/No Strings Attached We’re going to tackle these two together since they’re pretty much the same movie, with slightly different casts. Both focus on wise-cracking, good-looking friends who are hooking up, eventually realize that they want more, and come together at the end for a slightly cheesy ending. But even though they cover a lot of the same material, they’re both funny, entertaining flicks starring two incredibly talented actresses – Mila Kunis, as sharp and funny as always and Natalie Portman, refreshingly relaxed and charming – that tackle that whole friends/hookup partners/couple dynamic in a realistic, goofy way.
Risky Business The second Tom Cruise slid across the screen in Ray Bans and tighty-whiteys, he became a star. Not just a movie, but a landmark moment in his career, Risky Business is also one of the best sex comedies ever made. From the dancing to the car crashes to the slapstick-laden Princeton interview, Cruise is at his best in this film: a little brash, plenty arrogant, and incredibly charismatic. It’s no wonder America instantly fell in love with him.
Fast Times at Ridgemont High Fast Times at Ridgemont High has become iconic for two things: a young Sean Penn playing the school slacker and the scene where Phoebe Cates climbs out of a pool in a red bikini. But Fast Times has endured hanks to its realistic portrayal of teenagers, their challenges, and their experiences. It’s hilarious, it’s awkward, it’s sometimes moving, but most of all, it’s relates to the teenagers it’s trying to appeal to, and the adults who can look back on it more fondly than their own high school experience.
There’s Something About Mary It seems only fitting to discuss Diaz’s latest sex comedy in relation to her first. As Mary, the irresistible object of everyone’s affections, Diaz is effortlessly funny and completely winning, but the rest of the film is excellent as well. The Farrelly Brothers’ signature gross-out humor is balanced by a healthy dose of heart, which helps us to sympathize with Ted and his quest to win back his dream girl. We get why everyone loves Mary, we get why these tree idiots would be willing to fight over her, and we get a hilarious, weird, and wonderful two hours of entertainment out of it.
Here are this week's highlights from VH1, Celebuzz, Flavorwire, and Hollywood.com:
***Flawless (Vacation) Summer's in full swing, which means you're probably counting down the days until your vacation, even if you're currently stuck inside, at your desk. Luckily, Beyonce's here to brighten up your week and give you some vacation inspiration — nobody holidays better than Bey and Jay — with Celebuzz's gallery of Beyonce's best summer photos.
Kanye West... Soccer Star? The World Cup may be over, but that doesn't mean it won't live on in our hearts, and on the Internet. But if you thought that you spotted some familiar faces while watching the final between Germany and Argentina, you weren't alone; VH1 has a gallery of the biggest stars in the World Cup and their celebrity doppelgangers.
The Engine Really Is Eternal The thrilling, terrifying film Snowpiercer takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where all of humanity exists on on train, which makes a complete circle around the world every year. As it turns out, we in the real world might not even have to wait for a new ice age to take a few trips around the globe ourselves, thanks to a cruise ship called The World. Flavorwire has everything you need to know about the futuristic luxury liner.
Jenny Lewis' A-List Backing Band We've seen them all glammed up on the red carpet, but if you've ever wondered what Kristen Stewart, Anne Hathaway, and Brie Larson would look like with a bit more of a masculine edge, Jenny Lewis' new music video should satisfy your curiosity. In fact, Hollywood.com argues that you might even like them more with a mustache.
Of all the actresses in Hollywood, nobody inspires the kind of anger, vitriol, and mean tweets that Kristen Stewart and Anne Hathaway recieve every time they release a film, attend a premiere, appear on a talk show, or just leave the house. We get it; who wouldn’t start to snap after having to endure intense arguments about the merits of Jacob versus Edward, or being forced to listen to that dreadful Oscar speech over and over again for months on end? By now, just the sight of their faces is enough to send some people into a rage spiral... which is why Jenny Lewis’ new music video might be just what they need to finally embrace Stewart and Hathaway.
For her song “Just One of the Guys,” Lewis recruited the former Bella Swan and Mia Thermopolis, along with indie darling Brie Larson (who everybody already likes) to play some backup guitar and portray some obnoxious members of the opposite sex. Wait, wait, hear us out, because the final product makes Stewart and Hathaway seem rather endearing, actually. The girls playing guitar and keytar behind Lewis are the starlets as we’re used to seeing them: Stewart is serious and confrontational and Hathaway makes a series of overly-dramatic faces at the camera. But then, they put on some tracksuits and stick-on mustaches and something magical happens.
They become absolutely ridiculous. Stewart, rocking a vintage-Bieber bowl cut, struts around the stage, gesturing come-ons to the camera and laughing at herself – see? It is possible! – and Hathaway, writhing around on the floor, pretending to breakdance is the kind of self-mocking we love to see from celebrities. Look at that dramatic, single tear. Does it feel rehearsed? Of course. Is it dumb and kind of hilarious? Definitely. If this was Jennifer Lawrence or Emma Stone, we’d be all over it. We’d make it this year’s Halloween costume.
And hey, they’re hanging out with Larson and Lewis, so they must be kind of cool, right? Do you think either of those champs would hang out with anyone who wasn’t secretly awesome? Even if they weren’t before the video shoot, they certainly are now. The Larson/Lewis brand of cool is the kind that transfers through association. If we can put our faith in their songwriting abilities or choice of film projects, surely we can also put our faith in their choice of co-stars.
Come on, Hathaway is playing the keytar! Do you really think anyone who takes themselves too seriously would actually play the keytar? It’s the official instrument of ‘80s tribute bands and precocious teenagers everywhere. Even the tuba is a cooler instrument. Don’t make Anne Hathaway play the tuba for your affections, America. She’s atoned enough. Allow Lewis’ catchy song to help mend this rift between you, Stewart and Hathaway. They just want to entertain you, and that’s exactly what they’re doing in this video. Besides, once we put these differences behind us, we can move on to more important things, like the fact that Larson looks like a long lost Tenenbaum in drag.
20th Century Fox Film via Everett Collection
Over the course of her career, Cameron Diaz has played everything from an ogre princess to a crime-fighting angel to the most irresponsible teacher of all time. But though she's best known for starring in goofy, raunchy comedies, Diaz's resume is filled with varied compelling roles that don't get talked about nearly as much as her underwear dance in Charlie's Angels. In fact, we'd go so far as to say that over the course of her career, Diaz has steadily delivered surprising, awards-worthy performances that often get overlooked by both the press and the public. In honor of her latest film, Sex Tape, arriving in theaters Friday, we've taken a look back at Diaz's life and career to pinpoint every single performance that shocked, moved, and impressed us... and, in a just world, would have impressed the Academy as well.
The CounselorLet’s get this out of the way: yes, Diaz’s character does have sex with a car. It’s a shame, though, that the hubbub surrounding that scene overshadowed everything else about her performance, which is insane in the best possible way. As Malkina, the calculating girlfriend/partner in crime to Javier Bardem’s Reiner, Diaz turned everything up to 11 to give an over-the-top, off-the-wall performance that is more entertaining than attempting to figure out what’s happening with Bardem’s hair. Despite a star-studded cast and a script by Cormac McCarthy, Diaz was easily the most memorable thing about The Counselor, as well as the most compelling.
ShrekOkay, so the Oscars don’t honor voice over work. That doesn’t mean that Diaz’s work as Princess Fiona isn’t worthy of praise. With anyone else voicing her, Fiona would probably turn out to be another cookie-cutter animated princess – kooky, sure but not downright weird, and probably not willing to convince a bird to sing itself to death or having a burping contest with an ogre. Diaz gives Fiona an absurd amount of personality, depth and fun, making her feel as alive as she would if it actually ere Diaz up on that screen.
My Best Friend’s Wedding Julia Roberts get all of the attention, but her Julianne Potter would be nothing without Diaz’s sweet, warm-hearted Kimmy Wallace. A character like Kimmy could have easily been one-dimensional: an unrealistic perfect girl meant to make the protagonist jealous. But Diaz’s Kimmy is a fully realized person; she’s not just sweet, she’s also naïve and awkward and genuinely open-hearted. And her ability to turn what would otherwise be a painfully embarrassing karaoke scene into an endearingly goofy moment deserves much more credit than Roberts letting Dermot Mulroney go.
USA Films via Everett Collection
Being John Malkovich And you thought The Counselor was a strange movie. In Being John Malkvoich, Diaz plays Lotte, the unhappy, pet-obsessed wife of John Cusack’s Craig, who enters into a relationship with Craig’s work crush Maxine (Catherine Keener) while inside the head of John Malkovich. It would be easy to let the craziness of the plot outshine the characters, but Diaz, wearing a horrendously frizzy wig and a series of unflattering outfits, uses the opportunity to give a weird, intense, complex performance that is, unfortunately, often forgotten in favor of her comedic ventures.
There’s Something About Mary The Mask may have put her on the map, but it was the Farrelly Brothers’ comedy that really made Diaz a star. The entire movie hinges on her being the most irresistible woman in the universe, so she needs to win over the audience in addition to the characters. Diaz does exactly that. Her performance is bright, charming and effortlessly funny, and it’s not hard to see why everyone fell in love with her hilarious and heartwarming character.
In Her Shoes In Her Shoes is a much better movie than it appears in its trailer, and much of that is due to Diaz’s performance as Maggie, the free-spirited wild child sister of Toni Collette’s Rose. It would be easy to turn Maggie into a flighty, one-dimensional character, but Diaz manages to turn a somewhat trite reveal – Maggie is dyslexic and has trouble reading and doing basic math – into an opportunity to showcase the insecurity, doubt, and hurt that has turned Maggie into the frivolous party girl that she is. It’s a surprisingly layered performance for a light-hearted movie about the relationship between sisters, and Diaz easily holds her own opposite Collette and Shirley MacLaine, both of whom received more attention.
Vanilla Sky Whether you loved Vanilla Sky or found it impossible to get past Tom Cruise’s melted face, there’s no denying that Diaz’s performance was the standout of the film. As Julie, the suicidal, jealous ex-girlfriend of Cruise’s David Aames, Diaz is simultaneously terrifying and heartbreaking, showcasing all of the hurt, anger, and instability that drive her to extreme measures. More than just the femme fatale or the vindictive ex, Diaz’s Julie is a tour de force performance that unfortunately got overshadowed by some terrible prosthetics.