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Tag Archive: Marvel Cinematic Universe


Ten years in the planning.  Eighteen movies.  All of it the brainchild of master Marvel universe coordinator Kevin Feige.  Yet it’s still only halfway through the third act or Phase III of the grand Marvel Cinematic Universe saga.  Marvel Studios has promised to tie everything together, including every magical talisman holding the six Infinity Stones–in directors Anthony and Joe Russo’s Avengers: Infinity War, the first of a two-part story, originally divided into simply parts 1 and 2.  The studio released a new trailer this weekend explaining more about the plot, plus a new poster for the movie that somehow crams in every key hero that will be packed into the movie.  Call it a St. Patrick’s Day present for Marvel fans.

And that’s a roll call that includes headliners Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), War Machine (Don Cheadle), Spider-man (Tom Holland), Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), Vision (Paul Bettany), Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), Falcon (Anthony Mackey), Nebula (Karen Gillan), Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), Ant-Man (Paul Rudd), Loki (Tom Hiddleston), Okoye (Danai Gurira), Wong (Benedict Wong), Shuri (Letitia Wright), Drax (Dave Bautista), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Rocket (Sean Gunn) and Groot (Terry Notary), Wasp (Evangeline Lilly), Mantis (Pom Klementieff), Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow), and Star-Lord (Chris Pratt).

Presumably the poster and trailer don’t tell all, so we’ll be looking for most of the support team to have an appearance, too, including Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), The Collector (Benicio del Toro) and Heimdall (Idris Elba)–both listed on the poster in fine print, Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Aunt Mae (Marisa Tomei), Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders), and Happy (Jon Favreau).  And they will all face off against Thanos (Josh Brolin) and Black Order members/Thanos’s children: Ebony Maw (Tom Vaughan-Lawlor) and Cull Obsidian (Terry Notary) and two characters expected to be voiced by familiar, but as yet unnamed, actors: Corvus Glaive and Proxima Midnight.  And a new name: Peter Dinklage is listed at the bottom of the poster.  Who will he portray?

So check out this trailer where the Marvel Cinematic Universe–The Avengers, Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, Black Panther, and the Guardians of the Galaxy–come together in one film: Avengers: Infinity War: Continue reading

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Ryan Coogler, the young writer-director of the excellent Rocky sequel Creed, has put his Creed star Michael B. Jordan against Chadwick Boseman, who played Jackie Robinson in 42 and Thurgood Marshall in last year’s film Marshall.  The result?  The next great Marvel superhero movie, Black Panther, opening this weekend in theaters everywhere.  Boseman is back as King T’Challa, the suave and poised Black Panther of the comic books that audiences first met in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War.  The new film fills in the blanks of T’Challa’s origin story, populated with a dozen of the best characters from any of the Marvel Cinematic Universe entries, matched to some of today’s best actors.  On the heels of last year’s wildly successful surprise hit Thor: Ragnarok, Black Panther is just as good if not better, but completely different.  It’s a more serious tale, a one-off in the MCU similarly spliced into the ongoing Avengers narrative as was done with 2016’s supernatural Doctor Strange.  It also supplies a new, rich superhero mythology populated primarily with black characters–a film first featuring a black superhero title character in a major studio release.  Coogler’s layered, multifaceted film is even more successful at accomplishing what Zack Snyder tried to do last year with the DC Universe film Wonder Woman, which first put a woman in a title role in a major superhero movie.  Coogler makes great strides with Black Panther, not just a mere first step.

Beginning with a father teaching his son about a hidden country in Africa called Wakanda, we learn that a powerful resource called vibranium gives the people of this land incredible power, which they hide from the known world.  The story is straight out of Shakespeare or Roman and Greek histories: three princes compete for the throne of Wakanda when the King dies in a terrorist attack at the United Nations.  Boseman’s T’Challa is the heir-apparent who is challenged for the throne first by Prince M’Baku (Winston Duke), then by Jordan’s Erik Stevens, a special forces soldier from the States whose death toll in battle earned him the nickname Killmonger.  Not just a one-note villain found so often in superhero movies, Erik has his own complex backstory that converges with T’Challa’s efforts to capture the film’s villain, Ulysses Klaue (pronounced “claw”), one of Marvel’s best villains yet, played by Middle-earth native Gollum and The Planet of the Apes’s series’ star Andy Serkis.  Although his antics are unique, here Klaue is the crazed villain you’d expect from a superhero story.  Erik also assumes a villain role, but his story and particularly his life in parallel to the new King is more biblical in its roots.  Erik’s father is N’Jobu, a compelling supporting character at odds with Wakanda, played by Marshall co-star and Supernatural’s Sterling K. Brown, and his past sets up a compelling tragedy arc within the film for Erik.

For those who go to superhero movies for badass superheroics, it’s the women of the film that fill that niche.  Our own early borg.com nominee for the annual badass heroine of the year goes to the fan-favorite actor from The Walking Dead, Danai Gurira, as Wakanda General Okoye.  Her steely resolve and loyalty alone is enough to get us to race back to the theater to watch her all over again in the theater tomorrow.  A Wakanda spy and confidante of the King is Nakia, played by Star Wars: The Force Awakens and The Jungle Book star Lupita Nyong’o, a fierce and savvy ally.  But a favorite of the film for many will no doubt be T’Challa’s young sister Shuri, played by Letitia Wright (Doctor Who, Ready Player One, Humans, The Commuter).  The film doesn’t completely find its voice and reach full throttle until Shuri lets out a howl in a conversation with her brother.  By that point the entire audience is onboard.  Shuri is very much derived from Q in the James Bond movies, supplying her brother with the latest tech.  After movie audiences got a peek at what a woman would look like as James Bond with South African actress Charlize Theron as a superspy in last year’s Atomic Blonde, those looking for the first black James Bond need go no further than Boseman’s smooth and stylish take on T’Challa Coogler even inserts a spectacular casino mission scene straight out of 2012’s Skyfall, and borrows another great character from the Bond playbook with The Hobbit and Sherlock actor Martin Freeman as a very, very Felix Leiter-esque American CIA agent named Everett Ross.  A scene pitting Freeman opposite Serkis again will be a fun reunion for fans of Peter Jackson’s Tolkien movies.

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Marvel’s unique approach in 2015’s Ant-Man rejuvenated the superhero franchise with something truly fresh.  Skipping all the anger and drama of superheroes in conflict, it went for laughs and expanded the potential of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, allowing for a new take on superhero films beginning with that humor-filled romp, November’s Thor: Ragnarok.  Add in the two Guardians of the Galaxy movies and you’d have the most fun superhero marathon you could put together this century.  If comic books and superheroes are about escapist fun, no better superhero illustrates that theme than the underdog played so believably by Paul Rudd.  Rudd also appeared as Ant-Man (and Giant Man) in Captain America: Civil War, and along with Tom Holland’s new Spider-man, Kevin Feige & Co. amped up what was becoming a ho-hum Avengers storyline.

Now we have the first preview for Ant-Man and The Wasp, and all signs point to another hit for Marvel, delivering exactly what fans want, our favorite characters looking cool and being cool: Michael Douglas back as Dr. Hank Pym, Rudd as the well-meaning but slightly befuddled Scott Lang aka Ant-Man, and–at last–Evangeline Lilly as Hope van Dyne donning the The Wasp supersuit.  We met the characters in the first film and now, origin story behind us, audiences will get to watch them take off.  And, of course, we have a perfectly appropriate poster showcasing the new team-up:

We get a first glimpse of Ghost in this trailer, played by Hannah John-Kamen, who if audiences don’t know her already from Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Killjoys, The Hour, Game of Thrones, and Black Mirror, you’ll know her from starring roles in Ready Player One, Tomb Raider, and Ant-Man and The Wasp. 

How will Marvel handle the character?  As the villain, or maybe not, with Walton Goggins also appearing as the comic book villain Sonny Burch?  Laurence Fishburne is also coming our way in the film as the 1960s-1970s character Dr. Bill Foster aka Goliath.

Wait no further, check out this great trailer for this summer’s Ant-Man and The Wasp:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

You probably haven’t had this much fun watching a rollicking fantasy movie this cool since you first saw the 1980 Flash Gordon movie starring Sam Jones, Max Von Sydow, Melody Anderson, Timothy Dalton, and Brian Blessed, accompanied by that memorable Queen soundtrack.  It shouldn’t be hard to believe–seven weeks from its premiere and Thor: Ragnarok continues to sell-out theater screenings across the country.  In a year full of so many comic book adaptations, and great ones at that, from Logan and Logan Noir to Spider-man: Homecoming, Guardians of the Galaxy 2, and even The LEGO Batman Movie, this was a great year for comic books on film.  But Thor: Ragnarok rivaled them all from an entertainment standpoint.  In many ways Thor: Ragnarok is a natural progression from both the past Thor films and the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe.  But something about director Taika Waititi’s vision for Avengers Thor and Hulk in this latest film changed how the MCU can entertain.  Instead of focusing on the events that the earlier Marvel entries–and comic books–are best known for, events like Civil War, Waititi returned to the reason we all turn to superheroes for entertainment:  it’s because we like the characters.  The end of the world is coming for Asgard, three great villains are wreaking havoc for our heroes, but Taikiki does something novel.  He puts the setting where it belongs: in the background.  And so we get closer to Thor, Hulk, Loki, Valkyrie, and even Thor and Loki’s sister Hela, by watching them interact.  The result is a film that should be vying for the top spot with the likes of Iron Man, Captain America: The First Avenger, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Guardians of the Galaxy, Ant-Man, Logan, and Spider-man: Homecoming, on your comic book movie best-of shortlist.

Waititi really accomplished something difficult here.  It’s not often the third film in a series completely exceeds the prior films (although it’s certainly arguable Spider-man: Homecoming trounced four prior Spider-man movies).  The Incredible Hulk and Hulk were hardly comparable to Thor: Ragnarok as a Hulk movie (sans title only).  And Thor and Thor: The Dark World weren’t remotely as memorable as Thor: Ragnarok.  So what made it all come together?  Clever dialogue from a tight script for one.  And each actor needed no time to take their characters and march forward.  Chris Hemsworth’s cocky God of Thunder has always sported a humorous side, but partnered with Tom Hiddleston’s on-again, off-again baddie Loki, and a Bruce Banner after he’s stuck in “Hulk mode” for two years (played by Mark Ruffalo), Thor: Ragnarok is every bit the next Avengers team-up film–it may as well be called Avengers: Ragnarok.  It’s also a buddy comedy.  Why not?  In the comic books the serious and powerful characters of Hulk and Thor have always been less accessible than the rest so how better to reach audiences?  And why not take that most-comic book of tropes and let them have their hero battle in the ring?  Many comic book readers have been waiting for this film for a long time.

The entire art design and sound should be credited with the film’s success, too.  Classic Jack Kirby imagery and style can be found throughout the production design.  Funky psychedelic colors, lights, and imagery make this a fantasy film, as opposed to a superhero or sci-fi movie.  Action choreography appears like it’s torn from the panels of a comic book page.  Dazzling fantasy costumes by Mayes C. Rubeo (The Great Wall, John Carter, Avatar, The Librarian) include Cate Blanchett’s Hela destroyer outfit, Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie/Scrapper 142 outfit, Idris Elba’s Heimdall in Robin Hood garb, and Karl Urban’s iridescent Scurge armor.  Music by Mark Mothersbaugh (The LEGO Movie, Lords of Dogtown, Fanboys, 21 Jump Street) includes audacious, sometimes triumphant, sometimes hilarious choices.  And Magic Sword’s “In the Face of Evil,” Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song,” and Gene Wilder’s “Pure Imagination” from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, were simply inspired inclusions that made the characters and film exactly how we want these characters to look and feel: Cool.

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Thor poster comic-con 2017

In today’s Marvel panel in Hall H at the San Diego Convention Center for San Diego Comic-Con 2017, fans first learned details about Ant-Man and The Wasp.  Michelle Pieffer was confirmed to be playing Janet Van Dyne, Laurence Fishburne will be Bill Foster, Killjoys’ Hannah John-Kamen will be Ghost, and Walter Goggins will be Sonny Burch.  And we will get to see Michael Douglas don the Ant-Man suit.  Hopefully this footage will be made public soon.

Next, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Cate Blanchett, Tom Hiddleston, Tessa Thompson, and Karl Urban all were on the panel for Thor: Ragnarok, introducing a great new trailer for the film.  In Marvel Studios third film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe featuring Thor, Thor: Ragnarok, we catch up with Hemsworth’s Thor–absent from last year’s Captain America: Civil War.  Where’s the (now short) golden-haired hammer-wielder been?  In the first trailer for the film we see him imprisoned on the other side of the universe without his hammer and struggling to return to ward off the destruction of his homeworld and the end of Asgardian civilization, at the hands of an all-powerful new threat, the ruthless Hela, played by Cate Blanchett.

Directed by Taika Waititi, produced by Kevin Feige, Thor: Ragnarok.  The movie includes newcomers Jeff Goldblum (Grandmaster), Tessa Thompson (Valkyrie), and Karl Urban (Skurge).

Check out this new trailer for Thor: Ragnarok:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Amazing?  Definitely.  Spectacular?  Absolutely.  Tom Holland, who stole the show in the key battle of last year’s Captain America: Civil War, has provided the definitive, and yes, the ultimate Spider-man performance in this weekend’s latest Marvel masterwork, Spider-man: Homecoming.  And Holland is equally good, if not better, without the suit as angst-ridden, overburdened teenager and Spider-man alter ego, Peter Parker.  Kids of all ages who ever envisioned the ultimate battle between Spider-man and Batman get their satisfaction here, too: Michael Keaton, in one of his best performances in decades, creates out of an obscure character one of the best supervillain performances to hit the big screen, complete with high-tech bat wings and the classic Keaton we all love to watch.

Moviegoers have seen good efforts from Marvel creating the comic book empire’s flagship, web-slinging superhero before, with Tobey Maguire in three Spider-man solo films and Andrew Garfield in two follow-up Amazing Spider-man films, but this latest story supplies what was missing from the other five: an authentic, likeable, smart, voice-breaking do-gooder and a classic coming of age story with heart.  But it doesn’t skimp on the action, and thanks to some well-filmed 3D and magical IMAX cinematography, one key scene that takes place high atop the Washington Monument made this viewer practically step backward out of his seat into the back row.  Just breathtaking filmmaking.

If you keep a list of superhero movie requirements in the back of your mind, you’ll find that Spider-man: Homecoming fulfills or surpasses them all.  A story with a solid character arc for its lead and antagonist.  A big relief for filmgoers who go to every new superhero movie: writer/director Jon Watts and five other writers (a fact that alone would normally spell certain doom for a film, but not here) knew enough to steer clear of another superhero origin story and instead delved right in.  They flesh out Parker’s relationship with his like-minded, knowledge bowl peers at school and provide more than one jawdropper along the way.  In Keaton’s villain they provide an exceptional, compelling villain, something lacking in the past several years of superhero movies.  Holland sports an update to the Spidey supersuit, and Louise Frogley’s latest costume design is superb, complete with believable, readily available tech supplied in-story by mentor Robert Downey, Jr. as Tony Stark aka Iron Man in his latest perfect adaptation of the role from the comics.  And Michael Giacchino’s powerful and emotional score is among his best, complete with plenty of clever and unexpected themes that amplify the story at the right time.  If you think Peter Parker is a throwaway character, prepare for some emotional work by Holland, especially at his character’s lowest point in the story.

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We already got a first look at Chadwick Boseman in the role of T’Challa, the ruler of the kingdom of Wakanda whose alter ego is the Black Panther, in last year’s great superhero mash-up Captain America: Civil War.  Next year Marvel Studios is giving Boseman his own solo movie in a film called Black Panther, as the comic book character created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in the pages of Fantastic Four A first trailer and poster (above) were released this past week.

We don’t know much about the plot for this new film, other than T’Challa must defend his kingdom from being torn apart by enemies outside and within.  Boseman, who was excellent as Jackie Robinson in the 2013 biopic 42, will have an impressive supporting cast.  Adonis himself, Creed star Michael B. Jordan will play Erik Killmonger, Star Wars: The Force Awakens stars Lupita Nyong’o is Nakia and Andy Serkis is Klaw, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’s Forest Whitaker is Zuri, The Hobbit and Sherlock’s Martin Freeman is Everett K. Ross, and Green Lantern’s Doctor Waller, Angela Bassett is Ramonda.

Here is the first trailer for Black Panther:

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For months Nathan Fillion was listed a cast member in Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, via several sources across the Internet, along with Kurt Russell and Sylvester Stallone.  But if you saw the film, you learned that Fillion never had an appearance.  So what’s the story?  It turns out director James Gunn had planned for his friend Fillion to make an appearance in the movie, but the character ultimately was nixed.  So who was Fillion going to appear as in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?  None other than B-level superhero Wonder Man aka Simon Williams.  Williams was not going to be an actual character appearing in the show, but a background scene was going to feature Fillion as Williams in a marquee screening of films starring Williams as B-movie actor.  So Gunn mocked up several movie posters for the scene, featuring Fillion’s familiar face.

According to Gunn,  “I decided to put a theater playing a “Simon Williams Film Festival,” with six Simon Williams movie posters outside.  Obviously, from the posters, he’s had a run of B movies.  Most of them in themselves are Easter eggs of some sort or another.  Unfortunately, the small section of the scene where they appeared slowed down the movie and I had to cut the Easter eggs from the film (along with storefronts named after comic book luminaries Starlin, Mantlos, Annett and others).  Equally a bummer was that a lot of people took photos of these posters on the day so suddenly every fan site was reporting that Nathan was playing Wonder Man in the movie.  He was even the third-billed actor on IMDB!  So that’s the full story.  Nathan’s only cameo in the movie ever were these posters.”

   

Don’t know Simon Williams?  He first appeared in 1964 in Marvel’s The Avengers, Issue #9.  And he died in the same issue.  But, as we know from comic books, dead isn’t always really dead, so he came back later.  Williams was created by Stan Lee, Don Heck, and Jack Kirby.  Williams is more familiar to many as a member of West Coast Avengers and Uncanny Avengers.  Despite his cut from Guardians 2, Gunn has said Williams may still be included in future films.

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Looking back to only a few years ago, who would have thought audiences would have so many choices today in movies and television series based on comic books?  And who would guess a title as obscure as Marvel Comics’ Cloak & Dagger would make it to television?  ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, The CW, FX, Netflix, and coming net year ABC Family’s renamed Freeform channel will enter the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger.

Cloak & Dagger stars Olivia Holt as Tandy Bowen aka Dagger and Aubrey Joseph as Tyrone Johnson aka Cloak, two teenagers who discover superpowers and form a romantic relationship.  The first trailer, shown below, reveals a series that appears to be equal parts CW teenager series with an edge to it as found in the Netflix Marvel series starring Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage.

The characters were created in 1982 by writer Bill Mantlo and artist Ed Hannigan, and first appeared in Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-man, Issue #64.  The superpowered duo really took off with a four-issue limited series in 1983, resulting in an ongoing series and various appearances in comic books since.  If you wonder why you’re not seeing much by way of supersuits in the trailer, that is consistent with the comic books, which focused more on the real world battles of its stars.

Check out this preview for Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger:

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In Marvel Studios third film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe featuring Thor, Thor: Ragnarok, we catch up with Chris Hemsworth’s Thor–absent from last year’s Captain America: Civil War.  Where’s the golden-haired hammer-wielder been? In the first trailer for the film we see him imprisoned on the other side of the universe without his hammer and struggling to return to ward off the destruction of his homeworld and the end of Asgardian civilization, at the hands of an all-powerful new threat, the ruthless Hela, played by Cate Blanchett.

But first he is captured Spartacus style and thrown in an otherworldly Thunderdome.  To survive he must face off against a rather angry and unforgiving fellow Avenger—the Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo).  How did Hulk end up on the other side of the universe as a warrior in Sakaaran gladiatorial combat?  We’ll have to wait and see.

Directed by Taika Waititi, produced by Kevin Feige, Thor: Ragnarok introduces characters old and new: Anthony Hopkins as Odin, Tom Hiddleston as Loki, Idris Elba as Heimdall, and Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange, and newcomers Jeff Goldblum (Grandmaster), Tessa Thompson (Valkyrie), and Karl Urban (Skurge).

Check out this new trailer for Thor: Ragnarok:

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