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Category: Superheroes


infinity-war-clipA decade of preparation is coming together at Marvel.  Kevin Feige, the #2 executive behind the Marvel Cinematic Universe, conceived the idea of expanding Marvel via an investment in The Avengers, dolling out individual films that would be interconnected, and, in return, build a tremendous financial enterprise.  A decade after Robert Downey, Jr. first played Tony Stark in Iron Man, we’ll see it all come together in the first part of Avengers: Infinity War in summer 2018.

This will wind up the third act (Phase 3) of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (with possibly one more Avengers film inserted in 2019) and its anyone’s guess what will come next.  Here is the rollout schedule:

  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, May 5, 2017.
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming, July 7, 2017.
  • Thor: Ragnarok, Nov. 3, 2017.
  • Black Panther, Feb. 16, 2018.
  • Avengers: Infinity War, Part 1, May 4, 2018.
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp, July 6, 2018.
  • Captain Marvel, March 8, 2019.
  • Avengers: Infinity War, Part 2, May 3, 2019.

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Of all these films, Captain Marvel seems the most likely to be the first spark that prepares fans for a Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase 4.  Unlike Phases 1 through 3, it’s the first film that takes a step outside the classic comic books, featuring Brie Larson as Carol Danvers, a version of the character created in the pages of Marvel Comics as recently as 2012.  It seems an obvious step to reboot the universe at this point with other, modern versions of the comic book superheroes.

This weekend Marvel released a first look at the commencement of production on Avengers: Infinity War.  The key person surprisingly not in the opening images is Chris Evans’ Captain America.  No doubt fans want to see scenes of Evans and Starlord actor Chris Pratt going head to head.  And the roster of actors in the film will be unprecedented as superhero movies go.  Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange is expected to appear, among many others, hinted at in Avengers: Civil War, which excluded Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk, and Chris Hemsworth’s Thor.  Check out this first look from Avengers: Infinity War:

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dr-strange-video     steelbook-doctor-strange

In a year with Deadpool, X-Men: Apocalypse, Captain America: Civil War, Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Suicide Squad, only one really knocked our socks off beginning to end with no caveats.  Doctor Strange, our pick for last year’s best superhero movie, began with a hotshot medical whiz played as smartly as ever by Benedict Cumberbatch, who embarked on an intriguing story arc with the help of a mystic brilliantly played by Tilda Swinton.  Along the way Cumberbatch introduced us to the next great character of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a dead ringer for the classic comic book character who sports the coolest cloak ever, and wields otherworldly special effect powers that really look great in 3D.  Plus, we had a great villain in Mads Mikkelsen’s Kaecilius, humor, and a solid supporting cast.  Next week Doctor Strange makes its way to online streaming services with the 3D Blu-ray, Blu-ray, and DVD release scheduled for February 28, 2017.

Doctor Strange includes the best recent use of 3D in the theater, so if you have the 3D player and compatible TV the 3D Blu-ray will be the way to go.  Viewing it in 3D in the theater was a must, from Doctor Strange’s spell weapons to a world colliding with an amped up Spirograph meets Kaleidoscope-infused reality, from conflicts on Salvador Dali paintings come to life and M.C. Escher and Labyrinth-inspired battlefields, to journeys through distant outer space and beyond time.  Crisp clarity and beautiful cinematography reveals modern effects at their best thanks to the production of Kevin Feige–who has coordinated everything Marvel for both Disney and Twentieth Century Fox–and director of photography Ben Davis (Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Kick-Ass, Stardust, Layer Cake).

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Look forward to some great costume work from Academy Award-winning costume designer Alexandra Byrne (Hamlet, Elizabeth, The Phantom of the Opera, The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy).  And Michael Giacchino is finally back with a superb musical score more on par with his work on The Incredibles than more recent soundtrack efforts.  Giacchino really hedged his bets last year, producing soundtracks to 2016 releases Star Trek Beyond, Zootopia, Doctor Strange, and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.   Giacchino really justified his place as an Oscar-winning composer with his brilliant score for Doctor Strange, a score we think was on par with his superb work on The Incredibles.

After the break, check out all the extras for the home edition release and an unusual–unusually cute–trailer for the home release of Doctor Strange:

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Every year the Super Bowl means new movie trailers.  Surprisingly the most exciting of all the movie trailers that aired during Sunday’s 51st Super Bowl game may be the all-star cast assemblage in The Fate of the Furious, the eighth film in the Fast and the Furious series.  Vin Diesel, Charlize Theron, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Jason Statham, and many more make for a great cast, and the action scenes look very big indeed.

But we got plenty of new previews, too.  Two movies of the bunch are not big franchise sequels, one we have seen a trailer for previously, Ghost in the Shell, and the other is a Ryan Reynolds mainstream space flick called Life.  Co-starring Jake Gyllenhaal, it looks like several episodes of spaceship disaster episodes we’ve seen from decades of Doctor Who.  The next Passengers?  Hopefully not.

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Of the sequels, we have previews for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (proving again you can’t beat using a Johnny Cash song for your trailer), Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, Transformers (5): The Last Knight, and the next X-Men movie, Logan.

Check out all these movie trailers, after the break:

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pudi

Not every new television series needs to be the next five-time Emmy winner.  NBC’s new comedy series Powerless doesn’t take itself seriously at all, and the content is as lighthearted as you’ll find anywhere today.  And unless you’re a Scrooge, prepare for a fun half hour every week of positive, clean, silly humor.  The kind we all could use more of.

Lead actress Vanessa Hudgens (Sucker Punch, High School Musical) plays Emily, and in the week’s season opener she was energetic and expressive.  You believe she’s trying to bring together a group of R&D workers in her new job for Wayne Security, because Hudgens looks like she believes in what she’s doing.  Alan Tudyk, star of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Firefly–plays the office boss for all it’s worth.  Fan favorite Community’s beloved Danny Pudi is one of Emily’s new employees and he and the rest of the cast (Christina Kirk, Ron Funches, and Jenny Pierson) are like a sketch comedy troupe ready to dish out the next laugh.  It’s not a riot, but it’s all good-natured fun–a show with a little bit of heart, and something appropriate and accessible to all ages.

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The DC Comics tie-ins are sprinkled across the half hour of humor, and the clever bits produced some out-loud laughs, especially the last line of the first episode.  And the opening credits clue viewers in upfront that this is not a show featuring the superheroes, but those civilians in the background of key superhero scenes across time.

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i-am-jim-henson

Life’s like a movie… write your own ending… keep believing… keep pretending…

Throughout the past year Brad Meltzer, noted fiction and non-fiction author and television personality (and DC Comics writer for the Identity Crisis and Green Arrow series) joined former Marvel Comics artist Christopher Eliopoulos to produce the Ordinary People Change the World series of books for young readers from Dial/Penguin/Random House.  Each of these could–or should–be your child, your nephew, niece, grandchild, or other young friend’s first book.  Back in September we previewed the most recent books in the series here at borg.com, featuring Dr. Jane Goodall and President George Washington.  This month Meltzer and Eliopoulos are releasing their latest inspirational and educational book for kids, I am Jim Henson.

What is incredible about this book in the series is Eliopoulos’s success in seemingly including every Muppet you can think of one way or another, all his fuzzy and beloved characters from both Sesame Street and The Muppet Show.  From Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy to Yoda and the movies Henson created, details of Henson’s life that will interest his fans are all here.  Meltzer, writing in first person as Henson, recreates Henson’s influences and youth.  Most importantly, Henson’s love of magic, imagination, and learning, and characters who taught everyone about laughter and kindness, will inspire new generations to look at his works again, and maybe even create their own.

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Meltzer and Eliopoulos know Henson’s characters like fans do–some of the most memorable lines and images of them can be found tucked into the background and corners of each page.

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This year Buffy Summers, one of the greatest characters in the history of sci-fi and fantasy television and the #1 kick-ass heroine of all time in any medium celebrates a major benchmark as the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer turns twenty.  Dark Horse Comics–publisher of the Buffy comic books and related characters from the series including titles featuring Angel, Spike, and Faith–announced this past week that a new trade edition of its Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The High School Years monthly series is available for pre-order, and an adult coloring book for the series was released last week.

The television series was groundbreaking, its first episode airing March 10, 1997, on The WB.  With high school and college as a backdrop, the incomparable showrunner Joss Whedon was able to address racism, identity, bullying, guilt, death, first love, and heartbreak using demons as metaphors.  Never before on television had a teenage girl been empowered like Buffy, with smart writing, lovable characters, fun monster-of-the-week episodes, action-packed choreographed battles, and emotional and dramatic arcs that continued over seven years from 1997 to 2003.  Buffy Summers, played by Sarah Michelle Gellar, would go on to inspire other great shows with smart, strong, and empowered young women, including Veronica Mars and iZombie.

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It’s a subject of debate among Buffy fans, but some of the best episodes and story arcs of the series can be found in the first seasons of the series.  Dark Horse’s new collected edition of Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The High School Years, titled Parental Parasite, taps into fans’ nostalgia, taking readers back to the first season of the series, when Buffy’s mom starts to want more “quality time” just as Buffy must secretly fend of monsters as part of her nightly slaying duties.

Dark Horse has taken Buffy all the way into four seasons of stories beyond the finale of the TV series.  Check out a cover gallery after the cut, and links to hardcover and trade editions of Seasons 8, 9, 10, and 11.

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x-men-read-x-men

In 2029, real X-Men read Marvel’s X-Men comic books.

Old Man Logan is one of those great comic book ideas that surprisingly took such a long time to come around.  It would be like seeing Arnold Schwarzenegger come back in Conan the Conqueror to play an elder King Conan, a film that always seems in the works but never quite in a moving-forward state.  In the X-Men movies it means Hugh Jackman in the big-screen release Logan, supposedly his last of nine films portraying the steely clawed X-Man, providing a rare chance for an actor to complete a character study 17 years in the making.  We’re NOT looking forward to anyone else being cast in this role down the road.  The first trailer (previewed earlier here) gave us a moody, grim look at Logan backed by Johnny Cash.  The final trailer released this week gives more hope for the future, with a little Jim Croce thrown in.

The final trailer reveals more than what we thought the studio would reveal in advance of the film:  2017’s leading contender for kick-ass superheroine… the little girl comic book readers know as cyborg X-23 (Laura, played by Dafne Keen) taking off her kid gloves and opening up her X-Men powers on some bad guys.  Hugh Jackman is the wise guardian we all need, and his own 90-year-old guardian and mentor Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) is along for the ride, bringing that additional, personal dimension to the story.  The other universe of Marvel films outside the “Marvel Cinematic Universe” has been well-established to bounce around in parallel worlds and has resulted in the most satisfying movies in the superhero genre, particularly with the spectacular X-Men: Days of Future Past.  This film takes us about five years after that film’s epilogue.

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This new trailer features a comic book on-screen for the first time in the X-Men universe, and comic book creators are featured in a new and unique way.  Comic book artist Joe Quesada drew the pages with ink work done by Dan Panosian (see above).  Comic book creator Gabriel Hardman created the storyboards for the film.

Check out this final trailer, first the U.S. version followed by the international version:

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batwoman-issue-1-cover    batwoman-begins-page-one

One of the most popular characters and series to emerge from DC Comics’ New 52 reboot in 2011 was J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman’s Batwoman.  Not only was the series popular, it received critical acclaim for Williams’ gritty storytelling and the stylish and spectacular, ethereal, and surreal artwork by Blackman.  The classic B-level superheroine of the 1950s had been reintroduced as Kate Kane with a new Alex Ross-designed costume in 2006.  In the DC Comics weekly series 52 the character became the most memorable legacy of the series–ex-military, a lesbian, of Jewish descent, with her ex, Renee Montoya, a Gotham police detective—rare constructs for any character in comicdom.  In the best of ironies, the character created to combat accusations of Batman’s sexuality in the 1950s became a symbol of the very thing she was made to deflect.

Beyond the symbolism of the modern character and success as a new iconic character, Williams and Blackman wrote a great Bat-book.  But after several successful months as a New 52 series, editorial decisions and creator ideas crossed streams and the series fizzled out.  Happily for fans of the character, DC is bringing Batwoman onto center stage once again.  Beginning this month in Detective Comics Issue #948 and continuing in February with Issue #949, the two-part “Batwoman Begins” arc forms the prologue for the monthly Rebirth continuity one-shot Batwoman: Rebirth in February and the series Batwoman, beginning in March.

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Writers Marguerite Bennett and James T. Tynion IV are co-writing the initial story with Bennett to take over the series later in the year.  Artwork will be provided by Steve Epting and Ben Oliver.  Jae Lee will be creating a variant cover for the series’ first issue.

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cernan-2017

Yesterday the last man to walk on the Moon, Apollo 17 commander Capt. Eugene Cernan, passed away at age 82.  Of the 24 men who visited the Moon and the 12 that walked on its surface Cernan leaves only six remaining men who actually walked on the Moon’s surface: Buzz Aldrin (Apollo 11), Alan Bean (Apollo 12), Dave Scott (Apollo 15), John Young (Apollo 16), Charlie Duke (Apollo 16), and Harrison Schmitt (Apollo 17).  A three-time space traveler, Cernan was the pilot on Apollo 10 and had previously flown on a Gemini mission.  He served as backup crew for Gemini 12, Apollo 7, and Apollo 14.

“Curiosity is the essence of human existence and exploration has been part of humankind for a long time.  The exploration of space, like the exploration of life, if you will, is a risk.  We’ve got to be willing to take it,”  Cernan said.  Cernan passed away on the annual day America observed the contributions of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and he, too, recently recounted a dream.  “I was just a young kid in America growing up with a dream.  Today what’s most important to me is my desire to inspire the passion in the hearts and minds of future generations of young men and women to see their own impossible dreams become a reality.”

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The best tribute to Cernan and his contemporaries is the continuing exploration and discovery missions of NASA, which will be the subject of several documentaries this year on PBS.  In particular, August will be a big month for space aficionados.

The documentary The Farthest will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Voyager space program.  As discussed extensively previously here at borg.com, the Voyager probes continue their role as the farthest humans have stretched their technology into space.  The only objects to ever enter interstellar space are Voyager 1 and Voyager 2.  Voyager 2 was the first to launch forty years ago, on August 20, 1977.

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funko-playmobil

It has been nearly a year since we first reported here at borg.com on images from Toy Fair 2016 of Funko’s prototype Playmobil figures, a result of a new partnership of the toy companies that allows Funko to produce licensed Playmobil figures never before released.  The figures will not be the traditional size that is playable with the thousands of Playmobil playsets released over the past four decades, but a larger, double-sized six-inch tall figure.

Although initial projections indicated these figures would be released last summer, finally online toy dealer Entertainment Earth is now taking pre-orders for the first series of these figures, which include characters from Back to the Future, Doctor Who, Ghostbusters, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.  You can also order a figure of Raphael from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, available exclusively through Entertainment Earth.

fourth-doctor     willy-wonka

All have great sculpts and sport appropriate hats, scarves, sonic screwdrivers, proton packs, gauntlets, and other accessories.  Click on any of the images (above and after the cut) to learn more and pre-order your favorites from Entertainment Earth:

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