These Are Your GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY

There’ve been snaps from the SDCC trailer around for months, but this is the first official heroes-lineup still from James Gunn’s GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY – the last new Marvel Studios movie before AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON and the first test of whether the Marvel brand can extend it’s thus-far bulletproof box office credibility outside of the superhero genre; in this case, to a space-set scifi/action-comedy:


From left to right: Zoe Saldana as GAMORA, Chris Pratt as STARLORD, Bradley Cooper (voice) as ROCKET RACCOON, David Bautista as DRAX THE DESTROYER and Vin Diesel as GROOT.

In the SDCC footage, this scene (they’re in a police lineup) served for irreverent tone-setting: following a big dump of action/FX footage, there’s a hard-cut to this lineup, overseen by a pair of NOVA CORPS officers (including John C. Reilly!) who opine: “They call themselves ‘The Guardians of The Galaxy…” [beat] “…what a bunch of A-Holes.”

THE RAID 2 Indonesian Trailer

In case you missed it: I’ll be at MAGFest starting Thursday afternoon. Come say hi ūüôā

Anyway, here’s the first full trailer for THE RAID 2: BERENDAL, which supposedly takes place (or, at least, starts taking place) 2 hours after the end of the original. First thing I can say in it’s favor: I’m glad they didn’t try to contrive a way for this to all take place inside another fortified building. Instead, hero cop Rama (Iko Uwais) will be doing the Yojimbo/Dollars/Last Man Standing thing versus rival local and Yakuza-affiliated gangs in Jakarta. Director Gareth Evans also returns. Honestly, I don’t need any reason to see this beyond that baseball-bat beatdown at 1:58…

//player.vimeo.com/video/83007310

Come See MOVIEBOB at MAGFEST 2014!

Hey guys! Just a quick FYI: I will be at MAGFest from Jan 2nd to Jan 5th this year, and should you see me on the floor your invited to come up and say hello (unless, y’know, you can tell I’m in the middle of something like or phonecall or whatever.)

Officially, I’m scheduled (you can see the whole MAGFest Schedule Map HERE) to appear at four panels on what they call the “MAGES” circuit:

“THE POLITICS OF GAMING” (Friday 1pm-2pm)

“ARE AAA STUDIOS STILL CREATIVELY RELEVANT” (Saturday 11:30am-12:30pm)

“PROMOTING GOOD GAMING COMMUNITY” (Saturday 5:30pm-6:30pm)

“GAMES AS A NARRATIVE MEDIUM” (8:30pm-9:30pm)

I’m also planning to bring copies of SMB3: BRICK BY BRICK¬†with me to sell (probably cash only, but we’ll see how my Square Reader is working) and sign on request, for anyone whose interested.

Look forward to seeing folks there!

ASM2 Blog Starts Teasing Venom. I Know, You’re Shocked.

I called yesterday’s rumor/speculation that, if Green Lantern turned up in JUSTICE LEAGUE¬†he’d be the John Stewart version “one of the easiest” things to predict in genre film right now. THE easiest thing to predict? That Venom will turn up in the AMAZING SPIDER-MAN¬†movies. Because it’s always the mid-90s somewhere, and because Venom has always moved a shit-ton of merchandise for Marvel – so long as you don’t include “comic books” as part of the merchandise.

Anyway, Sony has a Daily Bugle Tumblr running as cheezy viral marketing for the movie (attributed to Fredrick Foswell – heh) that basically blogs references to Spider-Man characters as fake news articles. he most recent update is a bit about Herman Schultz – aka The Shocker, but what jumped out at me was the name “NYPD Special Crimes Unit Detective Stan Carter.”

Ah. Okay, then.

I’ll err on the side of not totally spoiling what may or may not be a plot detail in the movies (go HERE and read the entry if you don’t care), but Stan Carter figures prominently in a mid-80s storyline revolving around a serial shotgun-murderer called “Sin-Eater” (for awhile it was trendy for every “city” superhero to get at least one “what if he fought a real-life style killer?” story) that also involved Daredevil and the death of long-recurring character Captain Jeanne DeWolfe.

The main thrust of the Sin-Eater arc was that his identity was especially hard to suss out, with only Daredevil’s recognition of his heartbeat to go on. The long-term ramifications come in when Daily Bugle reporter Eddie Brock lands what he believes is an exclusive interview with a guy who confesses to being Sin-Eater… and, suffice it to say, he’s not the guy. Brock didn’t so much lie as jump the gun, but he’s disgraced and unemployable as a result; which is why/how he winds up contemplating suicide in a church that happens to contain the The Symbiote Suit and… you know the rest.

Here Comes MAN OF STEEL 2’s Innevitable Stupid Racial Controversy

I was chatting with a good friend about the MAN OF STEEL sequel recently, and the one thing we could both agree on is that it feels very, very¬†likely that Warner Bros. etc has no real binding plan for this thing (or that, at least, they don’t have one anymore) and that the film is probably going to be one of those projects that goes into production without a final script. That’s not necessarily a bad thing – IRON MAN was being shot while they were still figuring out the third act and who the villain was.

Maybe we’re wrong. Maybe it’s a complete misreading of the production stories. But right now, the image emerging is that something that went into pre-production (prior to the release of MAN OF STEEL, back when WB was sure that Nolan/Snyder/Goyer had delivered an AVENGERS-level game-changer¬†or a¬†TRANSFORMERS-level moneymaker) as a Superman sequel with maybe¬†some “world-building” cameos from Batman etc morphed into a “Batman vs. Superman” movie, then a “Batman/Superman/Wonder Woman movie – possibly¬†also featuring The Flash…

It’s like we’ve blown right past the point where we could’ve been making “MAN OF STEEL PART II: SORRY ABOUT MAN OF STEEL PART I” jokes and the Cosmic Treadmill is rapidly taking us in the direction of “MAN OF STEEL 2: OKAY, WE FUCKED UP, WE’RE SORRY, HERE’S JUSTICE LEAGUE, PLEASE STOP YELLING AT US.”

This weekend’s gossip started out in the ever-fertile realm of race-swapping casting rumors, namely that DC was talking to prominent black A-list stars – Hollywood-to-English translation: “Denzel Washington” – for an important role in the film. The initial guesses were that they wanted him for Lex Luthor, but I don’t see that happening. Not that he’d be bad casting, more that it’s A.) just inviting more DAREDEVIL jokes in the press and B.) I can’t imagine even Warner Bros. being dense enough to drop a “group of white superhumans beating up the ONE black guy in the movie, who is evil” tableau into a situation where the lack of diversity in the genre is already so widely criticized. But I did¬†find it plausible, at least in one scenario, that Warners could be talking to “Denzel or Denzel-types” for the movie…
Now, gossip site “Nuke The Fridge” says maybe that scenario is correct. Their guess (and mine?) That if Warners is talking to “name” black stars for this project, it’s for John Stewart – aka The Green Lantern.

Okay, quick bit of catch-up: In the comics there’ve been four “modern” (read: post-Silver Age) Green Lanterns: Hal Jordan, Guy Gardner and Kyle Rayner most prominently. But during the character’s stint as part of DC’s GREEN LANTERN/GREEN ARROW double-act, Hal also had a “backup” in the form of John Stewart; an ex-Marine from Detroit who started out as an extension of GL/GA’s recurring “Hal needs to get over his weird race issues” theme but proved popular enough that he started spending good chunks of time as “the” Green Lantern whenever Hal would be unavailable for this or that reason.
Honestly? That John Stewart would wind up being “the one” if Green Lantern ever turned up in a Justice League movie has been one of the easiest calls to make all along for two simple reasons: 1. a non-white face is the most visible way possible to immediately tell the entire world “This is NOT in any way the same as that terrible Ryan Reynolds movie you all hated;” and 2.¬†while WB/DC has the advantage of the Justice League being a much¬†more widely known entity in popular culture than The Avengers were prior to their movie, the “catch” is that very (VERY!) few audiences under 40 are primarily familiar with them from comics. If they know them, they know them from the DC Animated Universe JL/JLU cartoons.¬†I don’t think that’s an exaggeration in the slightest: I’d bet that, if polled, there’s a sizable part of the target-generation for this movie for whom Stewart – NOT Hal Jordan – is “the” Green Lantern.
If this turns out to be true (I’d say Denzel being considered is a 50/50 but Stewart being in the movie and/or JL is more like a 70/30), it would make him the biggest “name” on the team by far, with Affleck a close second as Batman. Maybe this is part of WB’s overally strategy for this series: “We have the bigger-name heroes AND the bigger stars?”

UPDATE: Yes, I agree it’s also possible that he could be reading for J’onn J’onzz, The Martian Manhunter. The reason I’d call that a remote possibility is that I seriously doubt even half of the people making decisions on this movie know that “Martian Manhunter” is a thing that exists.

"TRANSCENDENCE" Gritty-Reboots "THE LAWNMOWER MAN."

This feels like the fastest we’ve gone from a teaser to a full trailer – literally a matter of days. I wonder if that has anything to do with the teaser essentially being a slow-reveal of Johnny Depp’s face, and “Oh, it’s Johnny Depp!” having gone from a boxoffice-benefit to a punchline over the last couple of years…


Anyway, this looks pretty damn good. Depp is a TED-Talky computer whiz with a mad on for The Singularity who gets assassinated by some kind of anti-technology terrorist group (the guy has “UNPLUG” tattooed on his writst), leading his colleagues to preserve his work by uploading his brain patterns into digital space which – spoiler alert for people who’ve never seen or read ONE other brain-uploaded-to-technology story – leads to him manifesting as a vaugely malevolent cyber-god.

Should be interesting, though I’m getting the sense I’ll have to just accept that this is one of those stories where the back-asswards luddite guys wind up having been right all along or at least “had a point.” Just once, I want to see one of these “tampering in God’s domain!” movies where the visionary dudes trying to drag the damn species across the next goal-line of evolution are the heroes. For cinephiles, the main attraction is likely finding out if cinematographer Wally Pfister – making his directorial debut – is going to be the real deal. He’s talked a lot of shit, and “Cinematographer of Great Movies Becomes Director of Middling-to-Bad Movies” is VERY common career story in this industry.

Does AGE OF ULTRON Have a Second Villain? (It Probably Does)

Latino Review has the best track-record of the independent movie gossip-hunting sites, even if they’re by no means “always” on-target. But their big post-holiday (possible) “get” makes all kinds of sense. It doesn’t sound like something that’d be a “spoiler” for the movie itself, but it does sound like it could be a spoiler for one of the other (by then previous) movies, so I’m putting it after the jump.



POSSIBLE SPOILER SPACE

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According to LR’s sources (which a few other industry journos appear to be backing up) the secondary villain is BARON WOLFGANG VON STRUCKER, a perennial Captain America enemy and (traditionally) one of the surprisingly large number of immortal Nazis running around the Marvel Universe. In the comics he’s technically the founder of HYDRA, but in practical terms he’s become the guy you get when The Red Skull and Baron Zemo have been used too recently (or are dead.)¬†
According to Drew McWeeny at HitFix, the plan is for The Baron to be more of a guest-villain than a co-nemesis: He’ll the threat The Avengers are dealing with as the film opens, and will primarily serve as a means by which the team encounters Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch (Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen). Even before McWeeny had jumped in, that’s where my mind immediately went: The important things (character-wise) about Pietro and Wanda, in the books, are that they’re siblings, they start out as villains and their father is a supervillain.
This is where it gets wonky: In the comcis, dad is Magneto and the twins are mutants (make no mistake, though – otherwise the pair are tied almost exclusively to The Avengers, they’re not considered “X-Men characters”), which of course isn’t going to work out because of movie studio business stuff i.e. only Fox can make X-Men movies. Strucker, meanwhile, traditionally has as lieutenants twin offspring of his own, Andrea and Andreas. McWeeny’s story only says that Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch will be “working for” The Baron, but it’s easy to imagine Whedon etc. wanting to preserve that crucial “kids of a villain” element by making them Strucker’s children in this incarnation… though it’s equally easy to imagine Marvel waiting until the last possible moment to decide that, shooting dialogue “both ways” or having them be adopted on the off chance that Fox wants to start playing ball on crossovers (remember: it was supposedly only a matter of logistics and time that kept “AMAZING SPIDER-MAN’s” Oscorp Tower out of “AVENGERS'” New York skyline.)
All well and good, but we’re still a ways out from the actual shooting of this movie, which makes this kind of early for Marvel to be casting around (and psuedo-secretly, no less) for what might be a cameo at best. Which leads me to wonder if we won’t actually be seeing Strucker a lot sooner – like say just a few months from now. At least part of the plot of “CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER”¬†looks to be that S.H.I.E.L.D is being influenced/overtaken by nefarious forces, and “AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D” has been teasing “The Agency is going bad” as a substory for awhile. That’s typically the sort of thing The Baron can be found behind, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if whoever they end up casting (supposedly Marton Csoksas and Dougray Scott are on the shortlist) ends up shooting a quick cameo (or post-credits stinger) so as to be revealed as the real power behind the throne in “WINTER SOLDIER.”¬†