Tag Archive: Ant-Man


If you don’t want to see anything about Avengers: Endgame you might want to skip the latest trailer, which reveals some trickery by Marvel Studios in its earlier trailers–although with time travel bringing anyone back into the fold it’s not just possible but a likely scheme to mess with Thanos, and anything can happen.  Take a look at the new trailer below, along with a new poster including the key cast at least one version of what we’ll see in the film.

If you don’t see Captain Marvel first (reviewed here at borg), one thing is clear: you’re not going understand what’s going on in Avengers: Endgame.  As Marvel fans will see in one of the codas for the current film in theaters, everything is coming together, and in today’s trailer the Avengers Assemble–that also means new uniforms.

 

It’s good seeing most of the Avengers back again, even if there’s still no sign of the last recruit, Tom Holland’s Spider-Man.  The only quirk: Danai Gurira’s Okoye is in the poster, but her name was the only actor not included in the first poster released today in the above-the-title list of actors (she is listed below the title, along with those not pictured: Benedict Wong, Jon Favreau, and Gwyneth Paltrow)–contractual deals tend to be specific about what actors get the top of the marquee listing and who doesn’t, but this decision tends to stand out.  But Marvel updated that a few hours later (shown updated to the right above).  And in the realm of trickiness, note that the original poster included 19 names, many of which were omitted this time–reflecting the characters who vanished in Avengers: Infinity War, like Benedict Cumberbatch.

Take a look at the next trailer–if you dare–for Avengers: Endgame:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Marvel Contest of Champions is a 2014 mobile fighting game from Kabam, released four years ago on iOS and Android, boasting more than 100 million players.  Based on ideas generated from the 1982 three-issue Marvel Comics series Contest of Champions by Mark Gruenwald, John Romita Jr., and Bob Layton, players select superheroes from across the history of the Marvel universe to battle each other.  Both the original comic and the game key in on the scheming machinations of Grandmaster and the Collector, and if the idea sounds familiar, it may be because it was also featured in Marvel’s big screen Thor: Ragnarok, with Jeff Goldblum’s Grandmaster pitting Chris Hemsworth’s Thor against Mark Ruffalo’s Planet Hulk-inspired gladiator Hulk.

Initially intended to be based on Marvel’s Super Heroes Secret Wars comics, the Contest of Champions video game features more than 100 playable characters, and includes dozens of others.  The characters as realized for the game and the game environments is the focus of a new book from author Paul Davies, Marvel Contest of Champions: The Art of the Battlerealm The book represents one of the rare assemblages of so many characters from all segments of the Marvel universe.  Showcasing the story by Sam Humphries and artwork by Gabriel Frizzera, Luke Ross, and others, the book is full of great character designs, concepts, and final selections.  It even takes readers beyond the events of Infinity War, although the game does not adhere to the movies.

Readers and game players will find it difficult coming up with characters from Marvel Comics not incorporated into Contest of Champions.  In the book they’ll find updated versions of all the superheroes (and many villains) from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, plus the X-Men, Deadpool, Old Man Logan, X-23, Spider-Gwen, Ghost Rider, Howard the Duck, Hyperion, Jane Foster’s Thor, Miles Morales’s Spidey, Kamala Khan’s Ms. Marvel, Spawn, Dark Phoenix, She-Hulk, Moon Knight, Cable, Gwenpool, Mephisto, Blade, Carnage, and the Inhumans.  Plus there’s the Netflix Marvel series characters, lesser used characters like the future evil Hulk called Maestro, Magik, M.O.D.O.K., Sentry, Sentinel, Sabretooth, Agent Venom, Morningstar, Guillotine, Karnak, Kang, Doctor Voodoo, Black Bolt, and Venompool.  Both Angela, grand-daughter of Odin, and King Groot are brilliantly realized in the game and the book (shown above).

Here are some preview pages from Marvel Contest of Champions: The Art of the Battlerealm:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Originally released in 2015, Jason Starr’s Ant-Man: Natural Enemy is back in a new paperback edition as part of Titan Books’ new novels of the Marvel Universe.  Separate from the stories in the comics and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it’s still tough if you’ve watched the movies to separate Scott Lang from Ant-Man and Ant-Man and The Wasp actor Paul Rudd.  But why would you want to?  Readers or moviegoers new to Ant-Man who missed out on classic Dr. Hank Pym Tales to Astonish in the classic comics or S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Eric O’Grady in Robert Kirkman, Phil Hester, and Ande Parks’ The Irredeemable Ant-Man will want to put those on their reading list.  But if the movies are what reeled you in to become an Ant-Man fan, get ready for even more fun with Scott Lang in Ant-Man: Natural Enemy.

Scott’s daughter Cassie is living with him in New York, with custody being amicably split with her mother and Scott’s ex-wife Peggy, now living in the Pacific Northwest.  Cassie is a teen now, so along with Scott using online dating to find companionship he also is trying to look out for Cassie as she is looking for her first boyfriend.  As they both try to get along with each other and face uphill battles in their hours apart each day, a piece of Scott’s past creeps in.  When Scott was in jail he made plenty of criminal acquaintances.  Scott ultimately turned state’s evidence on one of the smarter criminals, Willie Dugan, after Scott met Dr. Pym and began to take on the role newly minted good guy and superhero Ant-Man.  Dugan has now escaped from Attica, and the FBI puts Scott, Cassie, and Peggy in protective custody.  Scott refuses the help of Iron Man Tony Stark and the resources of the Avengers, figuring Dugan is a small-time hood that he can handle.  That’s until several of Scott’s old jail acquaintances end up dead, and Cassie seemingly vanishes while under the watchful eye of an FBI agent.

Ant-Man: Natural Enemy is surprisingly real and current.  Both Scott and Cassie struggle with the negatives of current technologies.  Cassie is bullied on the Internet by her peers at school.  Scott can’t seem to meet the right people via dating apps.  Scott is as down-to-Earth as a superhero can be.  Fans of the laid back hero motif in Matt Fraction and David Aja’s Hawkeye comic book series will feel right at home with the similarly put-upon everyman Scott Lang.  And if you liked watching Peter Parker’s day-to-day goings on in the big city in Spider-Man: Hostile Takeover (reviewed here at borg.com), you may also find Starr’s novel to be a good read.  Cassie becomes as interesting an heir to Scott as Scott was to Dr. Pym.

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As part of the continuing celebration of 10 years of the Marvel Cinematic Universe that kickstarted filmdom’s modern superhero blockbuster chapter, AMC Theaters are getting the entire team back together for an eight-day movie marathon nationwide beginning Thursday, August 30.  Get ready for the Marvel Studios 10th Anniversary Film Festival.  Marvel has converted three early films in the series to IMAX for the first time: Iron Man, Captain America: The First Avenger, and The Incredible Hulk.  So the entire 20 film series will be screened in IMAX, plus many of the films will also be screened in 3D.

The announcement arrives with the home video release of Avengers: Infinity War, now available on Blu-ray and Digital HD, 4K, and DVD.  If you missed Infinity War, check out our review here (and catch all our Marvel Cinematic Universe reviews below).  This is your chance to catch up any or all of the films you might have missed in the theater, including the three 2018 releases Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, and Ant-Man and The Wasp.  And it will give many younger viewers the opportunity to see some great superhero movies from the early days of the MCU on the big screen for the first time.

The big day of the festival appears to be September 3, with a great single-day line-up: Thor: Ragnarok, Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, and Ant-Man and The Wasp.  The series will run over Labor Day weekend, with four films per day from August 30 through September 5.  On September 6, AMC will screen two fan-favorite films, to be selected by a fan vote.  See the Marvel Studios 10th Anniversary Film Festival website for more details.  It also seems likely based on past screenings that AMC may offer some kind of bundled purchase price for multiple shows.  Check back to the website as the end of August nears for any additional promotions.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Iron Man, Spider-Man, and the Hulk haven’t done it.  Along with Captain America and Thor, now Ant-Man adds another Marvel Cinematic universe film that matches the spirit of its first solo film.  That’s Ant-Man and the Wasp, premiering this weekend in theaters across the U.S.  If you count Ant-Man as one of your favorite films of the MCU, you won’t be disappointed in the sequel.  As with the original, Ant-Man and the Wasp is the rare superhero movie that will appeal to all ages of moviegoers–not a single scene will pollute the minds of the littlest kid, and for the older generation that loved that classic sci-fi trope from The Incredible Shrinking Man, moviegoers don’t need to follow the MCU to jump right into this film.  Better yet, Ant-Man and the Wasp has heart like nothing else on the big screen from Marvel, except for Paul Rudd’s first adventure as Ant-Man only three years ago.

For those not paying close attention, this film takes place before the events of Avengers: Infinity War, and two years following the events of Captain America: Civil War.  Each of the character-led superhero films have those elements special to that character.  The trademarks of Ant-Man return for this sequel: a slightly daft and bumbling hero (played by Rudd) enjoying his superpowers, a friend whose rapid-fire banter steals every scene (played by Michael Peña), a romantic co-lead ready to bust out and make her own name (played by Evangeline Lilly), even more cutting edge special effects that show today’s actors playing scenes looking just as they did 20 years ago, and the return of the great Michael Douglas with every bit the acting chops he had back in his The China Syndrome, Coma, and Romancing the Stone days as the incomparable Dr. Hank Pym, the original Ant-Man.  Rudd’s Scott Lang has only three days left under house arrest before regaining his freedom, as Dr. Pym and daughter Hope (Lilly) attempt to secure the last piece of technology required to try to reach Pym’s wife, long ago left in the quantum realm.  But they aren’t the only ones after this new technology.

The film doesn’t stop at mere fan service, bringing in three new characters that take the quantum universe story arc from the first film into new territory.  That’s Michelle Pfeiffer as Dr. Janet Van Dyne–the original Wasp, Laurence Fishburne as former Pym colleague Dr. Bill Foster, and a stunningly good MCU debut by Hannah John-Kamen–at last in a major big screen role after playing supporting characters this year in Tomb Raider and Ready Player One.  John-Kamen’s character has the same fierce grit and badass determination as Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie in Thor: Ragnarok, and like Valkyrie, we hope she’s back in the sequel to Avengers: Infinity War next year.  As with Thor: Ragnarok, Ant-Man and the Wasp brings the comic book page to life, and like Black Panther, the film has an antagonist you may find yourself rooting for.  And make no mistake, Lilly’s Wasp could take over the reins from Black Widow as Marvel’s lead superheroine.

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ant-man-trade-1    ant-man-trade-2

There’s an app even for that.

In the past few years the Marvel Comics line-up of secondary superheroes really kicked into gear in the publisher’s solo titles.  We’ve previously raved here at borg.com about Matt Fraction and David Aja’s Hawkeye and Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto’s Black Widow.  Another popular secondary Marvel superhero is the current Ant-Man, Scott Lang.  In comicbookdom there’s probably no superhero more put-upon than Lang’s Ant-Man.  His crazy backstory, the origin of his powers, and his inability to catch a break makes him instantly appealing, so much so that he’s the one that got his own Marvel Cinematic Universe movie last year.

Actor Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man was one of the highlights of this year’s Captain America: Civil War, and that same Ant-Man has headlined his own series this year with Marvel’s monthly The Astonishing Ant-Man.  And the entire year has been about Lang trying to explain to the reader how he ended up in prison.  Again.  Series writer Nick Spencer provided this year’s best humor in his choice of situations he dropped Lang into, his choice of team-ups and sidekicks, and loads and loads of superhero inner-monologuing and witty banter.

ant-man-spencer-rosanas

Whether it’s a single issue team-up with Captain America aka Sam Wilson or Ms. Thing aka Darla Deering, The Astonishing Ant-Man has been a fun read in a year full of drama-focused fiction and non-fiction.  Spencer plants Lang in today’s world with not a lot of situations that are grave in the way other comic book series are grave–Lang is plagued with plenty of First World Problems (although saving Miami from a Giganto is probably important to the locals).  But every month in different ways The Astonishing Ant-Man is full of the comic book fun you liked as a kid.  Artist Ramon Rosanas consistently created a visual treat full of Ant-Man doing everything we love–the little guy that saves the day, whether or not he gets recognized for it.  Then there are those personal issues–struggling between his ex-wife Peggy, his ex-girlfriend Darla, his ex-whatever Janice aka Beetle, and She-Hulk even makes an appearance.  Above all else is his efforts to stay a hero in the eyes of Cassie, his daughter-turned-criminal via the amazing new “Hench” app.

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Deadpool looking up

Review by C.J. Bunce

What Ant-Man was for Marvel Studios’ Avengers franchise, Deadpool is for 20th Century Fox’s X-Men franchise, proving that a good story and good delivery can outperform big budget, team-up blockbusters.  Ant-Man stepped away from the standard superhero movie tropes to give us a flawed human trying to do right by way of some good tech, and Deadpool went to the next step and took the superhero story that much further away from the norm.  As the #1 box office success of any Rated R film, it also proved you cannot predict what will fail and what will succeed.

But all the press that distinguished Deadpool as something completely new and different was really just feeding into the marketing hype.  Seemingly collectively shocked by the impending change-up of “the first Rated R superhero movie,” press and critics ignored so much.   From an over-the-top action standpoint was Deadpool that far different from RoboCop, The Crow, or V for Vendetta–all also carrying the R rating?  And from a crude humor standpoint, is Deadpool any different from the similarly hilarious Kick-Ass and Kick-Ass 2, or if darkness is your thing Sin City or Watchmen–also Rated R?

The reality is that the success of Deadpool can be found in the melding of all the elements you need for any good superhero movie.  If you skipped this one or only watched it in the theater, now is a good time to revisit it on Blu-ray or DVD.  You no doubt missed some great elements during your first watch, and the special features that accompany the home release point out plenty that will likely elevate whatever view you already have about this release.

Colossus Angel Dust

The Blu-ray we reviewed included both the Blu-ray and DVD as well as a digital Ultraviolet code for viewing on your Vudu or Flixster account.  Deadpool includes the best behind the scenes coverage of any Blu-ray we’ve reviewed this year in its “From Comics to Screen… to Screen” segment.  Who knew how much stunt work was required for all the elaborately choreographed action sequences and how much was actually CGI?  Sure, we knew star Ryan Reynolds was in the “Deadpool red” supersuit for part of the film, but his two stuntmen really carried a lot of the film with one stuntman tearing his ACL for one of the less-involved sequences.  And like the movie’s in-joke, the two other X-Men that appear may well be lesser characters when compared to the team in X-Men: Apocalypse, yet the fact we get to focus on far fewer means we got to know Colossus that much better.  Plus director Tim Miller and costume designer Angus Strathie made sure Negasonic Teenage Warhead wore the classic X-Men yellow supersuit.

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Arnold Terminator Genisys

Well it’s been one long year, with plenty to do and see, plenty of good and not-so-good to read and watch, and as with last year we’re certain we reviewed more content this year than ever before.  This year was a big year for borgs in TV and film, so we had some difficult decisions to make.  All year long we sifted through all that Hollywood had to offer and honed in on the genre TV, films, comics, and other books we thought were worth examining.  We went back and looked at it all and pulled together our picks for our annual Best of the Best list.

Today we reveal the entire list–the best genre content of 2015–with our top categories Best Sci-Fi Fix, Best Fantasy Fix, Best Superhero FixBest Animated Fix,  and Best Borg selected regardless of medium.  A dozen properties garnered multiple mentions.

We hope you agree with many of these great creations of the entertainment industries, and wish everyone a great 2016!

Killjoys

Best Sci-Fi Fix – Killjoys (Syfy).  Surprised?  Killjoys pulled together great worldbuilding, characters and actors in a year of a dozen new sci-fi shows to provide us the closest thing to the next Firefly we’ve seen in a long time.

Galavant

Best Fantasy Fix – Galavant (ABC); Runner-up The Librarians (TNT).  It aired early in 2015 but nothing surpassed Galavant’s medieval high adventure and all-out Princess Bride-style fun.

the-cw-arrow-flash-crossover

Best Superhero Fix – The Flash (CW).  Of all the Marvel movies and TV series from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to Agent Carter and from Arrow to Supergirl, nothing had us coming back for more each week like the superhero world in The Flash.

Rebels season 2

Best Animated Fix – Star Wars Rebels (DisneyXD).  Compare it to Star Wars: The Force Awakens and see if you think this animated Star Wars galaxy had an even better story and characterization, along with the return of its own group of original trilogy actors, compelling visuals and rousing music.

Terminator Genisys image

Best Borg – Pops (Arnold Schwarzenegger) from Terminator Genisys (Paramount).  Schwarzenegger created yet another borg that could stand up against his prior successful characters from the series.  A cool, moving character in a big year for borgs on screen!

Ava from Ex Machina - borg

Best Borg Movie –  Ex Machina (DNA Films).  Incredible storytelling and a small cast of talented actors provided a classic science fiction story and Oscar-worthy film about our favorite subject.

Humans series

Best Borg TV SeriesHumans (AMC).  On television the most in-depth look at life as a borg and among borgs has never been portrayed more dramatically than on this year’s surprise sci-fi hit series from AMC.

Star-Wars-Force-Awakens-Rey-Finn-BB8-running

Best Kickass Genre Movie Heroine – Rey (Daisy Ridley), Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Disney); Honorable Mentions: Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke), Terminator Genisys (Paramount); Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron), Mad Max: Fury Road (Village Roadshow)

Liv Moore

Best Kickass Genre TV Heroine – Liv Moore (Rose McIver), iZombie (CW); Honorable Mentions: Dutch (Hannah John-Kamen), Killjoys (Syfy); Helena (Tatiana Maslany), Orphan Black (BBC)

Want to know who we picked for best villain and best comic books of the year?  Take a look after the cut…

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Ant-Man and Antony

Review by C.J. Bunce

Good movies often ride on the backs of their earlier incarnations.  The Incredible Shrinking Man.  The Greatest American Hero.  Beetlejuice.  Innerspace.  Memoirs of the Invisible Man.  Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.  The classic original Tron.  Sources you might not first think of like Wallace & Gromit’s The Wrong Trousers. Even Thoreau’s Walden (who hasn’t marveled at the coordinated work of ants, or fantasized about being very small?).  Marvel’s new hit Ant-Man borrows bits and pieces from all of these and more.  Yet it also adds something new to those, such as improved special effects, including make-up, CGI, and many action sequences.  It mirrors our place in the big world.  Throw in a hero battling a giant spider with a nail for a sword and I’m sold.

Ant-Man is a rollercoaster ride.  All fun and not too serious like the steadfast captain America arguing with the cocky Tony Stark over the roll of the disinterested Bruce Banner that we all have now seen too many times on screen.  Paul Rudd’s heroic Scott Lang has one motivation, yet he lacks the typical superhero ingeniousness to accomplish his goal.  That element endears the character to everyone and is the gateway to an ensemble cast effort that pushes the story forward.  You just know Lang is like Rudd, that same guy we cheer along with at Kansas City Royals games.

Michael Douglas looking 25 years younger in Ant-Man

Equal to Rudd’s role is a surprisingly strong performance by Michael Douglas.  Looking like the twin of his father Kirk these days, as Dr. Hank Pym he anchors the film with gravitas.  His role in the story is substantial and should require sharing top billing as co-lead.  His work here rivals all his prior best work in The Game, The Ghost and the Darkness, The American President, Falling Down, Wall Street, Romancing the Stone, The China Syndrome, and Coma.  An Academy Award nod is warranted for both Douglas as well as the CGI team that provided the single best use of facial modification to replicate his younger self (done in part by firm Lola VFX who made skinny Steve Rogers in Captain America: The First Avenger).  Tron: Legacy made a good attempt at what Ant-Man has perfected in its opening scene–we’re now ready for an entire film using this approach, an entire film starring a 40-year-old Wall Street era Douglas, for example, relying on the acting prowess of the veteran actor today.

Lang and Pym Ant-man

Evangeline Lilly’s role as Pym’s daughter is secondary, yet her role supports enough of the backstory that it makes us anxious for Ant-Man 2, previewed in two of the film’s end-credit codas.  Michael Peña portrays what could be an over-used stock Latino criminal by bringing some humanity and humor to the role.  Even the villain, played by Law & Order: LA’s Corey Stoll, is interesting although more loathsome than needed for the part.

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Ant-Man costume from clip 2015

Marvel Studios has released a clip of a full scene from Ant-Man, this time showing Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) and his discovery of the Ant-Man suit.  It’s not a high-action scene, but conveys the general tone we can probably expect from Marvel’s next B-team superhero story.

It also reveals a nifty, subtle twist:  Somebody is using ants to either carry monitoring equipment or somehow send images back to a certain watcher from afar.  Michael Douglas’s Dr. Hank Pym?

Check out this heist clip from Ant-Man:

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