Marvel Unveils ‘Avengers 2’ Title Card and More

This title image for the 'Avengers' sequel was unveiled Saturday.

This title card for the ‘Avengers’ sequel was unveiled Saturday.

Marvel Studios held their annual panel in San Diego Comic-Con’s Hall H Saturday, revealing a trove of information about their upcoming second phase of superhero movies.

Perhaps most significantly, the title of the sequel to last summer’s  The Avengers, set for May 1, 2015, was revealed to be Avengers: Age of Ultron.

For readers not familiar with the comics, Ultron was a sentient robot originally created by Dr. Hank Pym, aka Ant-Man, who has yet to appear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Ultron was created for good but soon became obsessed with power, modifying himself and eventually warring with Pym.

The Comic-Con teaser seems to suggest that Marvel may not be following the comics to the letter on this one. The title reveal began with a video of Iron Man’s mask. As members of the Avengers repeated lines from previous movies, the mask was spun around, battered and distorted, eventually morphing into Ultron’s distinctive fanged metallic skull.

If this footage is to be believed, Marvel may adapt Ultron’s origin story to make one Tony Stark his creator, holding off on introducing Pym until his planned solo movie, to be directed by Edgar Wright, in Phase Three. Director Joss Whedon offered no clues.

Marvel also teased the rest of its upcoming slate:

Thor: The Dark World (Nov. 8, 2013) – Little more than some extra footage from the upcoming sequel was revealed, though Tom Hiddleston appeared as Loki to whip the audience into a frenzy. From what we know already, The Dark World will take Chris Hemsworth’s hammer-wielding demi-god to more alien worlds as he battles the Dark Elves, led by the mysterious Malekith (Christopher Eccleston). Thor will team up with erstwhile brother Loki and love interest Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) as he attempts to stop the Dark Elves from destroying worlds he has sworn to protect and everyone he holds dear. The film, directed by Game of Thrones helmer Alan Taylor, will have a grittier, more Viking-influenced feel, according to insiders.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (April 4, 2014) – Most of the cast members appeared at Comic-Con, including Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson (reprising her Black Widow role in a bigger part), Emily VanCamp (as mysterious Agent 13) and Sebastian Stan (as the titular antagonist, one of Cap’s close friends from the ’40s brainwashed by the villainous HYDRA organization). According to producer Kevin Feige, the film is “a 70s political thriller masquerading as a big superhero movie” and will find Cap taking on a powerful enemy in Washington, D.C. Frank Grillo will appear as villain Crossbones. Anthony Mackie will also feature as flying hero Falcon. As directed by Anthony and Joe Russo, the film will deal with Cap’s adjustment to modern life and his growing relationship with Black Widow. Robert Redford, not in attendance at Comic-Con, will play shadowy villain Alexander Pierce. A fight sequence between Cap and Crossbones in an elevator was screened, along with some lines from Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury.

Guardians of the Galaxy (August 1, 2014) – Surprisingly, lots of cast members from James Gunn’s oddball sci-fi space-set adventure showed up at Comic-Con. The story will find an American pilot teaming up with alien ex-cons to transport a powerful artifact. Footage screened showed protagonist Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) attempting to steal an artifact from a temple before encountering Djimon Hounsou’s Korath, and a futuristic mug shot scenario where each member of the Guardians is profiled. Here’s a run-down of who’s who:

Peter Quill/Star-Lord – Chris Pratt beefed up to play the film’s lead protagonist, a devil-may-care gunslinger with an alien father and human mother. Wanted on charges of “minor assault,” according to the footage.

Yondu – Michael Rooker shaved his head for the role of the Guardians’ founding member, an expert hunter.

Gamora – Avatar actress Zoe Saldana is under heavy makeup as green alien assassin Gamora, the adopted daughter of heavyweight villain Thanos. She’s the last of her species, according to Saldana.

Drax the Destroyer – Wrestler Dave Bautista plays a human reborn as a green warrior with the sole purpose of killing Thanos, after the villain murdered his family.

Ronan the Accuser – Lee Pace will be portraying a villain, the leader of the evil Kree race.

Korath the Pursuer – Djimon Houstou took the role of one of Ronan the Accuser’s Kree allies to set an example for his young son, who is a big fan of superhero movies.

Nebula – Doctor Who actress Karen Gillan revealed at Comic-Con that she had shaved her head to play the villainous Nebula, a space pirate.

The Collector – Benicio del Toro signed a multi-picture deal with Marvel before signing on to play the ancient Collector, a being who finds interesting lifeforms to keep for himself.

Yet to be cast are the voices of Groot, a tree-like member of the Guardians, and Rocket Raccoon, a pint-sized Guardian. Thanos, who cameoed at the end of The Avengers, is rumored to be making an appearance.

Source: EW.

Image Courtesy: Marvel.

DVD Review: The Avengers

Courtesy The Weeklings.com.

The Avengers assemble during a New York battle.

Marvel’s fans, particularly those of the die-hard comic-book variety, are a patient bunch. For 4 years, they watched and waited in nervous anticipation as the studio baited them with post-credit teasers that worked to slowly draw together the characters from five different superhero box-office successes. Marvel’s build-up to The Avengers was the most drawn-out in Hollywood history; since 2008’s Iron Man, through 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger, Marvel was slowly putting the pieces together for one colossal blockbuster. The hype around it was massive, perhaps more than any other film ever made. And it fell to Joss Whedon, a relative unknown to mainstream audiences, to make a film a capable of living up to it. Whedon, a geek god thanks to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, Serenity and Dollhouse, had never even been near a movie of this magnitude before.

Luckily, both for The Avengers and his career, there’s not a trace of jitters from Whedon here; he directs with the eye of a true fanboy, making sure that there’s not a dull moment between the heavy-duty, jaw-dropping CGI battles that appear often, but not too often, throughout the film. He also has a keen eye for humor; this is the funniest Marvel movie by far, and the audience I saw the film with back when it was in theaters roared so hard and so often that entire lines of dialogue went unheard. And that’s a shame, because the screenplay is a gem, giving every character, even the one described as “a giant green rage monster” by his fellow heroes/misfits, time to shine along with some killer one-liners. Take for instance the wonderfully snarky and egotistical Tony Stark, aka Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) , who taunts his teammates even as he quietly pulls them together, nicknaming long-locked, arrogant Norse god Thor (Chris Hemsworth) “Point Break” and “Shakespeare in the Park,” while christening expert archer Hawkeye “Legolas.”

The Avengers begins with a bang, as eye-patch-wearing super-spy Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson, finally in a substantial role after being delegated to second-long post-credit teasers for far too long) barely escapes a top-secret SHIELD (Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division) base being brought down, in true blockbuster fashion, by the diabolical Norse god of mischief Loki (Tom Hiddleston), who has returned to wreak havoc on Earth after being chased off by his brother Thor last year in the latter’s stand-alone film.

Unfortunately, the movie has no choice but to reel it back a bit after the opening, as the superheroes are introduced. Among the freaks of nature Fury attempts to pair together in order to stop Loki from destroying the world are WWII-era super-soldier Captain America (Chris Evans), re-awakened after 70 years on ice, the beautiful, deadly and and aptly-named femme fatale Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and good-natured scientist Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), who has an unfortunate tendency to destroy everything around him as the monstrous Hulk when angered. So many characters need time to develop, and Whedon knows that, taking the time to flesh them all out suitably. As the superheroes come together, it soon becomes evident that the biggest threat to the team is not Loki; rather, it’s their own lone-wolf tendencies and inflated egos. Some of the better scenes in the movie involve the heroes clashing with each other; a forest-set brawl between Iron Man, Thor and Captain America results in the utter destruction of the forest itself, while a thrilling sequence taking place aboard a massive airborne SHIELD base sees Black Widow fleeing a vengeful Hulk.

Ultimately, the Avengers find their way to New York City, where a massive battle ensues between the six teammates and an army of aliens called the Chitauri led by Loki. The effects are Oscar-worthy, and the action seamlessly follows all of the characters as they work to evacuate innocent New Yorkers and repel the invaders. In spite of this, however, the finale is the movie’s weakest link. As the robotic space-ships ravage the city, there is an unmistakably Transformers-esque vibe; the aliens are expendable unknowns and the film does nothing to change that. What saves the scene is that, unlike Transformers, this team of heroes is endlessly entertaining to watch, whether it’s the Hulk doing some good old-fashioned smashing or Hawkeye shooting arrows from the rooftops with enough accuracy to make Robin Hood blush. It’s no wonder that, when the camera pans across all of the heroes preparing for battle in the middle of the war-torn city (the money-shot to end all money-shots), the audience erupted into cheering and applause.

As far as the acting is concerned, there isn’t a mediocre performance in the bunch. Chris Evans is believable and winning as the idealistic fish out of water Captain, Robert Downey Jr. plays Stark with his trademark blend of panache and smarmy irreverence and Mark Ruffalo is the best Hulk yet, playing Banner as a funny, bashful guy willing to acknowledge and sometimes even accept “the other guy.” Tom Hiddleston makes for a great villain, playing Loki with a snakelike malevolence and psychotic charm that was sorely lacking the last time he played the character. Even Scarlett Johansson, whose character is required to do little other than look sultry, is charismatic enough to warrant a Black Widow spin-off, which I have no doubt will eventually happen.
In conclusion, while The Avengers is far from perfect, it is everything that I hoped it would be and more. Spectacular action sequences, a phenomenal cast of characters and Whedon’s irresistible knack for comedy combine to make The Avengers not only the biggest comic-book movie of all time, but also one of the best. A-
Courtesy: The Weekling.