Sunday, July 27, 2014

Comic-Con International: The Marvel Panel

I know its Sunday night and I am late to the punch. But I have had a long, busy weekend away from a computer. I feel it is time to weigh in on Comic-Con International. Comic-Con festivals take place every year all across the country, even the world. I am happy and blessed to be attending my very first Comic-Con festival in Chicago this August, so be sure to check in then to hear who I see and what I hear. But it’s Comic-Con International in San Diego, California that is the crème of the crop, the big tamale. This time of year, in late July, it’s one of biggest geek times of the year. I have already read and looked into everything that was introduced over the weekend, and I have some thoughts I wanted to share with you.
Knowing me, you probably know exactly where I want to start.
Marvel Panel

Avengers: Age of Ultron

I will admit, while I was glad that people got to see footage from “Avengers: Age of Ultron” as well as “Ant-Man” at Comic-Con this year, I was slightly disappointed that we didn’t learn any new information about the release dates they recently announced. We know there will be a “Thor 3,” “Captain America 3,” and “Guardians of the Galaxy 2” and it has been pretty much guaranteed that “Doctor Strange” is on the way. We have heard whispers of “Black Panther” and possibly another solo “Hulk” film for Phase Three as well. Some players are set, but we just don’t have any dates yet, and I thought we would have learned more about them after this weekend.

Oh, well…at least “Age of Ultron” sounds as cool as I hoped for and I am absolutely rabid to feast my eyes on the footage myself.

Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, James Spader, Cobie Smulders, Paul Bettany, Jeremy Renner, Samuel L. Jackson, and Josh Brolin were among the actors who came to represent the anticipated sequel. It seems ScarJo missed out due to being pregnant, which is completely understandable.

The Footage Description from Hitfix:
“As the footage begins, the Avengers are relaxing, sitting around the main downstairs area, all of them enjoying a little down time after the film's huge and sure to be amazing opening sequence. Thor sets Mjolnir down on the coffee table carefully and they all begin to discuss the idea of "whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy," and what that actually means, which leads to what seems inevitable: a contest to see who can actually lift it.
This is where you see Joss Whedon's touch at work. No one else is like him in the way he loves to take fantastic settings and characters and then explore the mundane fun small details of what it would be like to actually be those characters. Watching Tony Stark and Rhodey, working together to try to lift the hammer while constantly ridiculing the idea of enchantments and "worthiness" or seeing Bruce Banner try to lift it but laughing as he does so, pretending to be mad but with no chance of becoming the Hulk, all while Thor looks on laughing, is hilarious. My favorite touch was when Captain America steps up and tries and moves the hammer about a tenth of an inch, and for just a moment, there's a look of worry on Thor's face, followed by a gale of relieved laughter. Great stuff, all driven by character, and a reminder of just how well we know all of these people at this point. Thor finally wraps things up by telling them that there's a simple explanation for why none of them can lift it.
"You're not worthy."
As they're all still laughing, there's a strange noise, though, and they are suddenly joined by a very creepy, half-finished, mangled version of Ultron, who comes strolling in, voiced by James Spader, and I like that they didn't try to over-process that very strange and alien voice that he already has. "How could you be worthy?" he asks. "You're murderers." He talks about how they don't belong on the planet, how they don't deserve it. In the close-ups, it's clear that there are parts of old Iron Man suits all incorporated into Ultron's body, which is actually sort of disturbing and weird. Suddenly a group of Ultron drones burst into the room, and the reel kicked into high gear.
There was some remarkable imagery in what they showed us. First and foremost, we got a taste of the fight between Iron Man in his full Hulkbuster armor and the Hulk, who is on a full rampage. They were very careful not to show why or how that's happening, though, simply giving us a taste of the combat and the scale of the mayhem. There was an amazing glimpse at the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver in action, and it looks like Whedon's found a very different way to handle Quicksilver's powers visually. I love that when the Scarlet Witch starts to use her power, her face grows pale and her eyes glow red. They didn't show any footage of The Vision, which surprised me, but they did use this crazy creepy slow vocal version of the song "I've Got No Strings" from Disney's "Pinocchio," thematically appropriate since much of this movie deals with Tony Stark's guilt over his creations and how they get away from him.
"This is the end," Tony says at one point in the footage. "The end of the path that I started us on." Cars flip. Things explode. Heroes take a savage beating. And in the end, there is an eerie shot of Tony, looking down at Captain America's broken shield and, all around him, the dead bodies of the other Avengers strewn over a shattered landscape.”

Well that just sounds epic. I love that Whedon seems to be making this more of a character piece, and I think our heroes will really be put under the wringer. I am not quite sure if our heroes will gingerly eat Sharma after defeated Ultron at the end of this film and they will be in a much different place as Phase Three begins. I figured Spader would be awesome as Ultron and that seems all but proven. I can’t wait to see this footage for myself and Marvel might have another winner on their hands.

Ant-Man

Well, the road to “Ant-Man” has been troublesome to say the least. We know that director Edgar Wright left the film in the middle of production due to differences he had with Marvel. Now, this week we learned that actors Patrick Wilson, Kevin Wiseman and Matt Gerald all left the film as well. Some people think the actors departure had to do with Wright’s departure. But nobody will probably ever know for sure. So it’s been tough for Marvel getting this movie on its feet. They found a new director in Peyton Reed and he seems energized to take on the task. What makes me nervous is that the film still plans to meet its summer 2015 release date. With all of these set-backs, can Marvel still pull a good movie out of the wreckage?

Michael Douglas and Paul Rudd were present at the Comic-Con promoting the film. We learned that Corey Stoll will play Darren Cross, the film’s villain and that Evangeline Lilly will indeed be playing Janet who will eventually become The Wasp.

The Footage Description from Hitfix
“It starts with a long tracking shot through Pym's personal lab. We hear the conversation between Scott Lang (Rudd) and Hank Pym (Douglas). Pym is trying to convince Lang to help him steal something. Lang protests that he's not a superhero and Pym tells him that's exactly the point. "You're not an egomaniac." Lang keeps trying to wiggle out of it, and Pym growls at him, "Jesus Christ, Scott, it's like you already shrank your balls." In the end, it sounds like he talks him into it, promising, "It's just a small job," just as the camera stops on a shot of the Ant-Man helmet.
What followed was a really lovely little glimpse at the actual suit in effect. It's just after Lang breaks in to steal some of the tech that Darren Cross managed to take from Pym in his business take-over. He's running from the building, shrunk down to ant size, and he can hear Pym talking to him through the earpiece in the helmet. Pym tells him that he's got to get to the edge of the building, where there will be a ride waiting. That ride turns out to be a flying ant, and Pym tells him to just use the helmet to command it.
Good advice, but then Lang trips and falls, and the helmet starts to sputter and spark. As security starts to close in, Pym tells Lang to just jump off the edge of the building, and when he does, a group of ants swoop in beneath him. He manages to saddle up, get some control, and then fly directly into an air vent in a building, as the title treatment came up.”
Well one thing “Ant-Man” has going for it is that it won’t feel like any other superhero film in the MCU. I love that this is a heist film at its heart and that will be a fun direction to take it. Even though Wright is absent at this point, I think his presence will still be felt in every frame. I think “Ant-Man” will either be the first misfire from the MCU or it will be their little engine that could, I am so hoping for the latter.

Check back here in a little bit and write-up my thoughts on the other side of the river…aka the DC panel!
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