Blast Off #28: Cartoon Flashbacks and the Toy Wars they Spawned

The Team Focus Blast Off is back with a special guest, C.A. Huggins, author of Labor Pains.

In Blast Off #28, Huggins and I discuss some of the classic cartoons of yesteryear, legendary toy wars in Brooklyn, comic books (shout out to Larry Hama) and some of the movie adaptations that have killed fond memories of Transformers and G.I. Joe G1.

Huggins also discusses his trick for scoring more G.I. Joe’s than everyone else on the block.

Listen to the Blast Off with C.A. Huggins below:
[podcast]http://www.buzzfocus.com/blastoff/Blast-off-28.mp3[/podcast]

Tune in regularly for more discussion by Subscribing to the Team Focus Blast Off on iTunes.

Follow @bagshooper and @C_A_Huggins on Twitter.

Marvel Studios sets ‘Avengers’ sequel date – plans to smash box office records again in 3 Years

Should we just say it now? Summer box office records will likely be smashed again in 2015 when Marvel’s The Avengers assembles Earth’s Mightiest Heroes again for an untitled sequel.  Walt Disney announced the released date of May 1, 2015 today, in what was the expected target date after Marvel Studios released their film pipeline through 2014 at Comic-Con. As we told you last week, Joss Whedon is all locked up to direct and write. Here’s the revised lineup.

Iron Man 3 (5/3/13)
Thor 2: The Dark World (11/8/13)
Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier (4/4/14)
Guardians of the Galaxy (8/1/14)
Ant-Man (TBD)
Avengers Untitled Sequel (5/1/15) 

Um, yeah. Still no date on that Edgar Wright Ant-Man film. Wright directed some of our favorite films such as Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Spaced, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, oh and executive produced Attack the Block. What does he have in line before that size-changing Avenger movie? A film called The World’s End, which gets his trusty group together again (Simon Pegg and Nick Frost) about a group of friends who reunite 20 years after a failed pub crawl to try it again. Rosamund Pike has just been added to that cast too.

The Avengers 2

“When Hulk see puny Ant-Man?!”

Marvel Studios must be eyeing a release date of Ant-Man in winter of 2014-2015; it would be anti-climactic to come out after The Avengers 2, so it’s got to come out before, right? It’s been speculated that Marvel wants Guardians of the Galaxy to be the gateway film for The Avengers Sequel. It makes sense, unless Ant-Man is going to be a much bigger film than we expect, which it might. We’ll see.

Marvel Studios has to keep pumping out these films because Robert Downey Jr. isn’t getting any younger. He’ll be 50 when the Avengers sequel is released, and I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility to see him be a part of at least a few more Marvel films after that–unless he plans on being the next Harrison Ford who by the way is not letting age get in the way of making a fifth Indiana Jones. Samuel L. Jackson will be 67. Don’t worry, Chris Evans will be made to look like he’s still 30, no matter what.

Want an even crazier thought? Just think about the time it took Jon Favreau to make Iron Man to the release of The Avengers was six years, 2006-2012. Remember, when Favreau used Myspace to get input from Iron Man fans? Okay, maybe I just remember that, but Marvel’s phase 2 will be completed in less than half that time, with at least two television shows up and running in that time on ABC. Wow! This is pretty exciting stuff.

By the way, I’ll argue with those struggling with waiting three… long… years… to see Avengers 2. There are a thousands of comics and graphic novels you can read from now until then that give you the same, if not better experience. In case, you know you want to keep yourself busy.

POLL: Would ‘Daredevil’ work better as a Marvel Studios Phase 2 Film or as a TV Show?

The hot question going around this week in the superhero film talk is will Daredevil come back to Marvel Studios? That may happen very soon with time running out for Fox to put a new DD film into production. Word traveling around the campfire is that the movie rights to Daredevil will revert back to Marvel by the end of this week, which would make fanboys ecstatic to imagine him in the fold for the next batch of Marvel films.

Joe Carnahan director of The Grey and The A-Team was the latest to give it the old college try for Fox, going for a funky, gritty period piece set in the 70’s based on Frank Miller and David Mazzuchelli’s Born Again story. Now that’s not to say that Carnahan wouldn’t have an opportunity to make this film should the rights revert back to Marvel, but as we’ve seen with phase I of Marvel Studios films, there’s a certain tone and universe feel to Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor. It would be a mismatch for what Marvel has been building. As a reminder, here’s what Marvel has in store for phase II

Iron Man 3 (5/3/13)
Thor 2: The Dark World (11/8/13)
Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier (4/4/14)
Guardians of the Galaxy (8/1/14)
Ant-Man (TBD) 

See the trailer below to see what Carnahan had in mind.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_j5rb3R5iWs[/youtube]

All of this is presumably culminating to an Avengers 2 film that would be targeted for 2015. Now Daredevil was recently brought into the Avengers comics by writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist David Finch in 2007-2008, after The Avengers: Disassembled storyline, when Marvel began publishing two monthly Avengers titles, Avengers and New Avengers, eventually building towards the Civil War storyline. Wolverine and Spider-Man were also part of the Avengers.

So there is some ground work to build on should they want to establish Matt Murdock as part of the Avengers, but it would be difficult envisioning Daredevil being part of the crew that bridges that cosmic gap that will at some point takes on Thanos in Phase II, just as difficult as it would be to see Black Widow or Hawkeye in there too. I’d rather see Marvel Studios push hard or ensure that Fantastic Four, Galactus, and Silver Surfer return to the studio. To me, that’s the money franchise that opens up the universe to all of these cosmic realms. But Marvel still has to deal with Fox with that.

Daredevil in the truest sense, should be dark, gritty, dirty and violent as Carnahan’s video suggests but I don’t see Disney/Marvel Studios getting behind a take so drastically different in tone or scope than their other films. Miller and Mazzuchelli made that as low down and dirty as they could at that time. It would be a fantastic launching point for a film. Now they could have a stand-alone film series and keep it separate. Blade was also retained recently too and the vampire hunter was more likely to encounter Daredevil than the larger-than-life Avengers. We could talk now until December about how cool a Daredevil reboot, or re-imagining would be with the current creative team at Marvel Studios.

How I’d like to see it work is through, is as a television show that is able to stay within it’s own universe, based in the real world of New York, and Matt Murdock’s entire rogue gallery could be done in the practical world as opposed to say, Guillermo del Toro’s The Incredible Hulk TV Show, which sounds like a budget nightmare. Here’s a list of his biggest villains: the Owl, Mister Fear, Stilt-Man, Gladiator, the Jester, Man-Bull, Death-Stalker, Mr. Hyde and Cobra, The Purple Man, Bullseye, Typhoid Mary and of course, Kingpin. The Punisher could live in this world, so could The Night Nurse. Most if not all could work in a live-action world.

bullseyethe owl

You could play up an entire episode or arc in the law offices and feature Foggy Nelson or have some great dramatic moments between Murdock and his long list of women, and never have to feature Matt in costume as often. One season could be the entire Elektra Saga. That’s the great thing about Daredevil, is that there are so many elements to him where he doesn’t need the costume as much as other vigilantes like Spider-Man or Batman do. Daredevil in the comics always worked best when he was on his own, starring in his world alone. He’s essentially a blind Batman who’s more acrobatic and has a bigger devotion to his job as a lawyer in Hell’s Kitchen.

He’s a character that doesn’t require much suspension of disbelief outside of navigating around that costume, which is brilliant on a comic book page–it’s a different story as a real life costume, but honestly I never thought we’d be talking about a Walking Dead television show five years ago. “Make it work,” as Project Runway‘s Tim Gunn would say. The budget wouldn’t have to be such a barrier like other super-hero shows and a serial television show develops characters and relationships much better than a 100-minute film.

the night nurse daredevilSo what we want to ask is, could you envision Daredevil better in Marvel Studios’ Phase II Film or as a TV Show on ABC? Look, if they’re making a film on Ant-Man, you can bet that a Daredevil film will high on the priority list in some form. And let’s not forget that there’s that mysterious Joss Whedon show that will launch on ABC between now and Avengers 2. Share your thoughts below and vote to let us know what you’d like to see, true believers!

[poll=232]

The Box Office Story: Earth’s Mightiest Opening – Marvel’s ‘The Avengers’ Eclipses $200 Million

tony stark

There was really just one, green, giant-sized box office story this weekend. Assembling Earth’s Mightiest Heroes proved to be the jackpot as The Avengers were on a record pace, after blitzing through with $80.5 million Friday, filling the multiplexes this weekend and kicking off the summer film season. It didn’t matter if it was IMAX, 3D or 2D, the cash never stopped flowing through a whopping 4,349 theaters. The early estimate is $200.3 million (nearly making up all of it’s $220 million production budget on domestic box office) and worldwide the count is up to $641 million, placing it 55th on the all-time worldwide list. That works out to an unimaginable $46,057 per theater! The next largest opening was Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 with $169 million. Not bad for an opening weekend – and people still wonder why so much is invested in big blockbusters and their sequels. When it works folks, it reeeeeeeally works.

Oh and don’t expect The Avengers to be shown the door anytime soon. It has an incredible word of mouth and has become that next great popcorn film that people are more than glad to see multiple times at the theater. There are fans who has already seen it at least five times. No joke. Superheroes are here to stay, so deal with it sourpusses. Either get with the program or clear out of the way. This major score at the box office depended largely on the above average success of Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger and delivering on the promise to make an Avengers film that would service the fans of the comics and films. Marvel brought in the circus to every city and audiences came by the waves with so much excitement and left with even more than what they had going in. That’s what they call delivering on the hype. Now, if everyone who saw the film read the comics too, the world would be a better place. It’s never translated before, but let’s hope The Avengers brings some new and permanent interest in the surviving hobby.

It may not look like it, but there were films besides Avengers at the theaters, but the midnight sales ($17.5M) alone beat the field.

the hulk

Think Like a Man did its very best and came in second with $8 million while The Hunger Games (third, $5.7M), The Lucky One (fourth, $5.5 M), The Pirates! Band of Misfits (fifth, $5.4), and the Raven (seventh, $2.5M) all held their positions from last week. The only one that saw a steep drop was The Five-Year Engagement that fell to sixth from second with just $5.1 million. In the end that romantic comedy should do okay as comedies tend to have a longer shelf life than action films but expectations were much, much higher.

Hitting second-run theaters was John Carter, which added back 169 theaters and finished in 12th in this odd week at the box office and added another $1.3 million. Hey folks, worldwide it did make up its production budget of $250 million and we’ll never know how much was spent on marketing but it’s clear that the wrong group was chosen because that’s going to be one of those films that people are going to look back as a missed opportunity.

best exotic marigold hotel

Art houses had their own Avengers, and it was called The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (15th, $750,000), which opened to 27 theaters and brought in nearly $28,000 per location. The film was directed by John Madden (The Debt, Shakespeare in Love) and stars a superb cast filled with British standards, Judi Dench (pictured above with Celia Imrie), Tom Wilkinson, Dev Patel, Maggie Smith and Bill Nighy. The plot revolves around British retirees who take a trip to India in a newly restored hotel, but is not quite as accommodating as it was advertised. Older audiences love a film aimed at their age group and at least in the metropolitan markets, supported this film as a pure alternative to The Avengers and all of its booming surround sound glory. This is no sleeper however, as it’s already made $70 million worldwide and will likely expand some more in the coming weeks to a few hundred more theaters.

Now, we will see if The Avengers can hold the top spot and have real legs in the domestic box office. The Dark Knight went on to make over $533 million after opening with $158 and Avatar wound up making just under $750 million after a $77 million opening. How high of a ceiling will The Avengers have? What’s your prediction?

Here is the list of the top 20 films in Weekend #11 of 2012 according to Box Office Mojo and their estimate box office numbers.

1 Marvel’s The Avengers (Buena Vista/Disney) $200,300,000
2 Think Like a Man (Screen Gems) $8,000,000
3 The Hunger Games (Lionsgate) $5,700,00
4 The Lucky One (Warner Bros) $5,510,000
5 The Pirates! Band of Misfits (Sony) $5,400,000
6 The Five-Year Engagement (Universal) $5,100,000
7 The Raven (Relativity) $2,508,000
8 Safe (Lions Gate) $2,470,000
9 Chimpanzee (Buena Vista/Disney) $2,395,000
10 The Three Stooges (Fox) $1,800,000
11 The Cabin in the Woods (Lionsgate) $1,550,000
12 John Carter (Buena Vista/Disney) $1,325,000
13 21 Jump Street (Sony) $1,05,000
14 American Reunion (Universal) $839,000
15 The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (Fox Searchlight) $750,000
16 Mirror Mirror (Relativity) $715,000
17 Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax (Universal) $404,000
18 Titanic 3D (Paramount) $335,000
19 Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (CBS) $270,000
20 Monsieru Lazhar (US Only) (MBox) $221,000

Movie Review: The Avengers – Joss Whedon Presents The Ultimate Superhero Experience

avengers poster

The Avengers is the pinnacle of Phase I of Marvel Studios’ master plan. The story is heavily inspired by The Ultimates graphic novel by Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch, modernizing the Avengers to a new audience–as well as re-imagining Nick Fury’s appearance as if he were played by Samuel L. Jackson. So when Iron Man hit the screens in 2008, fans were delighted to see in a post-credit scene featuring Jackson, the first hint of what to expect. Marvel wasn’t just aiming at making a successful film. They wanted to make an entire universe that existed on the big screen. One by one, the pieces fell into place, the history was established, and the scope was expanded to several realms. Four years later The Avengers lives and thrives on the big screen.

Director Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Serenity) wrote the screenplay and story and nailed every character trait. (Whedon told GQ that he threw out a script written by Zak Penn (Alphas) and started from scratch, Penn still received a co-credit). From Tony Stark’s (Robert Downey Jr.) self-indulgence, to Thor’s (Chris Hemsworth) overconfidence, Captain America’s (Chris Evans) loyal soldier, to Bruce Banner’s (Mark Ruffalo) reluctance to get involved, their reappearance in this joint venture was seamless.

You already know their histories having seen their individual films and we begin to see who the players are in the enforcement agency S.H.I.E.L.D. namely Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Hakweye (Jeremy Renner), Nick Fury (Jackson), Agents Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) and Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg). Until now they’ve appeared in brief post-credit scenes and in the background of Thor and Iron Man 2. They’re not enough to carry an entire film but they manage to fasten hold the scenes starring the heroes.

avengers at odds

No way could characters so large congeal so quickly and function in a team unit, like the Avengers comics so often showed. These cats don’t get along; they bicker, they disagree and have fundamental differences in the methods at getting the job done. Add in the god of mischief and you have an unstable chemical reaction.

Whedon’s fans will recognize his uncanny talent for crowd management. Check his track record, there’s no one better at spreading the wealth. No one is given too much or too little camera time; we have a memorable–and funny–script and a plausible plot existing within this Marvel universe. I’m sure Marvel Studios’ Creative Committee deserves some credit as well. But Whedon was a hero in his own right, to get the egos in the same room (actors and characters) to form an ensemble that doesn’t mesh in the beginning and that dissonance plays perfectly in Loki’s plan. And speaking of Loki, he may have played the misunderstood character in Thor, but there is no confusion here, Tom Hiddleston is absolutely villainous and nefarious as Thor’s adopted brother.

Oh and one other important thing, the Hulk finally works on film. He reeeaaally works!

hulk smash

It’s often difficult for those savvy comic readers to describe the wondrous feeling of a blockbuster superhero read and its everlasting impression. Whether it is a giant crossover with dozens of characters or a yearlong epic, these stories become events, permanent fixtures on the timeline at which fanboys reference throughout the years. Filled with action and “Oh sh–” moments that leave you breathless–they’re why men (and women) of this country, especially, have been unable to let the superhero genre of comics go for so many decades. For the first time on film, those feelings are translated with The Avengers–a comic I might add, where those larger-than-life moments were a monthly occurrence in its most memorable runs in the 1970’s, with several other significant eras in the decades that followed.

There are too many to single out from The Avengers but for those who have experienced both, (comics and this film) will know exactly the point in the film I am talking about that transcends the super hero film. It’s not when the Avengers assemble (a proud moment for geeks abroad), it’s when they are kicking alien ass, and taking everything that Loki can throw at them.

I sat proudly back in my seat, taking it all in. This is what I’ve been trying to explain to those who think I’m crazy for spending money on comics every week. It’s an invigorating moment that any viewer can attest will be one of the most memorable sequences in superhero films and it’s made that much more triumphant knowing what the characters battle through in the first half. Yes, non-comics readers, that kind of satisfaction, that kind of thrill is found on a weekly basis in some of the best comics on the racks. Readers don’t have to wait once a year to experience it.

Not since Iron Man has that surge of excitement been so successfully adapted and I’ll use another high bar, Christopher Nolan’s Batman films to explain. They are a much different animal, delving into the depths of a dark character study, the investigation of the insane, ideals of the few, and reality of the criminal and vigilante that seeks justice. Marvel Studios aims for something much different–not less–with their films. They make stories that are less serious, less psychological, and by doing so, allow other characters such as Thor to reach the big screen and be equal to Iron Man. Warner Brothers is finding out the challenge in trying to achieve the same outcome with Superman and Green Lantern that Nolan has sought for with Batman.

steve rogers

The Avengers film works because it doesn’t need reach to reach the levels that The Dark Knight travels. It merely has to meet Iron Man and push past it. And it exceeds every expectation on every level–not easy for something that’s been building for six years (Iron Man began pre-production in 2006). Iron Man 2, Thor and Captain America all sacrificed quality (some more than others) in laying down the groundwork for what would become The Avengers, so much that they felt more like prequels than satisfying stand-alone films. It’s a criticism that’s easy to see with the critical eye, as that Iron Man quality was well out of reach despite admirable though still enjoyable efforts.

So given all of that hype, that incredible build up, The Avengers resolves everything that was unfinished coming in and manages to set up the next phase wonderfully in a pre-credits sequence. All of you non-comics readers consult your local comic shop afterwards to read what’s coming next. But there’s so much new brought to the table too seeing these personalities attempt to coexist together, and yes, there is a satisfyingly apt scene after the credits too that encapsulates the shared trauma.

Allow me to make a quick plea to urge viewers to avoid 3D. Not only was it unnecessary, but a great deal of the film is shot in night and low lit scenes and the 3D glasses make these scenes even more difficult to make out the detail. I don’t understand why we would want to watch a film, shot in high definition only to muddy up the details with these glasses. Avoid it at all costs.

The Avengers is a blockbuster that kicks off the summer season in a big way, and will be that rare film that audiences will gladly pay again and again to see. I believe all of the early free screenings across the country is evidence of that confidence. Does Whedon establish himself as a star director here? No, he’s always been one by those who don’t fear genre television. But he’s never had as big a stage as The Avengers and the Marvel fanboys and casual superhero moviegoer will be applauding his efforts in creating the Ultimate superhero experience in unison. Let’s all hope he’ll be around to assemble the Avengers again someday.

The Avengers
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson, Mark Ruffalo, Tom Hiddleston, and Clark Gregg.
Directed by: Joss Whedon
Screenplay by: Joss Whedon and Zak Penn
Studio: Walt Disney, Marvel Studios, Paramount
Release Date: May 4, 2012

Rating:

10 / 10

Three New Clips For ‘The Avengers’ – WARNING – MAJOR SPOILERS

Marvel Studios released three videos from The Avengers unedited and if you can’t wait until the film comes out on May 4th, then proceed to tease and spoil yourself with these clips. The Avengers stars Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Jeremy Renner, Scarlet Johansson, Tom Hiddleston, Clark Gregg, Cobie Smulders, and Samuel L. Jackson. Joss Whedon is the director and co-wrote the screenplay with Zak Penn.

avengers poster

Again, as a final warning, there are spoilers in the following videos and descriptions.

In Clip #1, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is imprisoned presumably on the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier and threatens Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) as The Avengers and S.H.I.E.LD. agents look on. It’s an intense exchange between Tom Hiddleston and Samuel L. Jackson but both actors get to flex their awesomeness for what could be previewing a big showdown.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aaWtOtrXtXs[/youtube]

In Clip #2, Captain America (Chris Evans) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) are in the middle of battling aliens in New York City. Thor is holding up his end of the battle, but the wear and tear is taking a toll on Cap.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cqan9PGG3sA[/youtube]

In Clip #3, we see more Hiddleston magic as Loki squares off Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) in his New York mansion. We’ve seen bits of this clip spliced into the trailer but now you can see the full conversation building up to the line: “We have a Hulk,” uttered by Stark.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OCYg4f77Eqo[/youtube]

Don’t Mess With Scarlett Johansson – Hot Video Clip Of The Black Widow in ‘The Avengers’

black widow scarlett johansson the avengers

Hey true believers, we’ve got our first official non-trailer Avengers clip featuring Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanov / Black Widow getting the call from S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) to report for duty because Clint Barton AKA Hawkeye has been compromised, except she’s a little tied up at the moment. The following clip shows how she starts to get out of that predicament.

The Avengers hits theaters May 4th and stars Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man), Chris Evans (Captain America), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Mark Ruffalo (Hulk), Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow), Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye), Tom Hiddleston (Loki), Stellan Skarsgard and Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury). It is directed by Joss Whedon (Serenity, Buffy The Vampire Slayer) with a screenplay from Joss Whedon and Zak Penn (Alphas, X-Men First Class). It is based on the popular Marvel comic that was first published in 1963 and “assembles” Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. The Avengers will be shown in 2D, 3D, and on IMAX 3D.

agent coulson clark gregg the avengers

What do you think of the clip? Do you like Natasha’s short hairdo better than the Raggedy Ann dreadlocks? Share your thoughts below!

‘The Avengers’ Assemble A Week Early to Close 2012 Tribeca Film Fest

The hottest ticket at Tribeca won’t be a powerful documentary, or an unknown independent film. The Avengers are assembling a week early as the closing film of the 11th Annual Tribeca Film Festival on April 28. TFF announced today that Marvel Studios and Paramount Pictures are bringing the film and the cast to “celebrate everyday heroes from police agencies, fire departments, first responders and various branches of the U.S. military”. Members of these local forces will be given an opportunity to attend the screening and meet the cast. The event is being sponsored by Bombay Sapphire Gin.

avengers circle jerk

“We are proud that Marvel’s The Avengers is the closing film of this year’s Tribeca Film Festival,” Marvel Studios’ producer Kevin Feige said. “And we are excited to welcome local heroes to the screening as special guests. We all know and love our iconic Super Heroes, but when it really counts, it’s our real-life heroes who save the world every day by making it a better place for all of us.”

The Avengers is categorized by the festival as a Gala film, meaning that it will carry a premium price to get in. Right now the only tickets the festival is selling is Early Bird Passes and Ticket Packages and those do not include entrance into the Gala screenings. After those are all fulfilled, April 10th will likely be the day when the Gala film tickets go on sale, including The Avengers, are open for the public, BUT make sure you have an American Express card since those are the only customers allowed to buy single tickets for five days. April 15th is the next date to open to downtown residents only at ticket outlets with proof of zip code below Canal Street. April 16th is when single tickets and discounted ticket packages go on sale to the general public. The price for the closing Gala screening have not been posted yet on festival website and The Avengers is not yet even shown in the schedule grid. More information can be found here on the TFF Website.

The Avengers, which will be released nationwide a week later on May 4, will be an unprecedented first in blockbuster films, bringing together so many leading characters from separate big-budgeted super hero films for one big summer tentpole film. It stars Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man), Chris Evans (Captain America), Mark Ruffalo (The Hulk), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow), Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye) and Tom Hiddleston (Loki), with Stellan Skarsgård (Professor Selvig) and Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury), and is directed by Joss Whedon (Serenity).

New Stills from ‘The Avengers’ Look a Little More Cheesy and a Little Less Epic

Captain America Leads Hawkeye and Black Widow in the fight against Loki.

The Avengers

Check out these new stills from the upcoming film The Avengers directed by Joss Whedon. When the first Iron Man film, starring Robert Downey Jr., first hit theaters, I couldn’t wait to see The Avengers film. Sam Jackson showing up at the end as Nick Fury was great. Then my desire to see the film started to fade when Iron Man 2 was released.

Now, after last year’s superhero disappointment, I’m a little more standoffish on seeing this team-up flick. Thor, starring Chris Hemsworth, was “meh” at best. Captain America: The First Avenger was an “okay” movie, but it served as little more than a prequel. Thankfully, Marvel’s The Avengers has nothing to do DC Comics’ Green Lantern film, which easily took worst superhero flick of 2011.

What I would like to see is a Hawkeye film that focuses solely on Jeremy Renner’s character. At least that way, the writers can focus less on the powers and more on the story.

The good news is we don’t have to suffer through Thor’s relationship with Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) again (which oddly felt like Anakin Skywalker and Padmé in Star Wars Episodes II & III). This film will be a non-stop Avengers versus Loki battle, plus a mysterious “other” alien that may be a Skrull, Kree or one of Asgard’s other mythical baddies. But, does anyone really care?

How excited are you for The Avengers?

The Avengers

The Avengers hits theaters on May 4th.

Avengers Vs X-Men: Marvel Wages Inter-Universe War in 2012

The two biggest Marvel Comics team franchises are set to wage war in 2012. In April 2012, Marvel begins Avengers Vs. The X-Men, a twelve-part mini series that will surely have crossover books rippling throughout the entire Universe.

The universe altering story revolves around the Phoenix Force, which is heading towards Earth. Apparently, the Phoenix needs a new host which can only be found on Earth and the decision pits the Avengers against the X-Men.

Marvel is pooling its top writers to make sure that this crossover delivers success. The creative team includes Brian Michael Bendis (Avengers, Ultimate Comics Spider-Man); Jason Aaron (Wolverine & The X-Men, Wolverine); Jonathan Hickman (Fantastic Four, Ultimate Comics Ultimates); Ed Brubaker (Captain America, Winter Soldier); Matt Fraction (Invincible Iron Man, The Mighty Thor). Artists inked for the project include John Romita Jr (Avengers); Olivier Coipel (The Mighty Thor); Adam Kubert (X-Men: Schism).

“Avengers VS X-Men brings together the most powerful forces in comics for a super hero war like you’ve never seen before and will never see again. We all want to see the best of the best go against each other—Lakers & Celtics; Ali & Frazier; Yankees & Red Sox; and in comics it’s the Avengers fighting the X-Men, ” said Axel Alonso, Editor in Chief, Marvel Entertainment. “We’ve brought together the biggest writers, biggest artists and biggest characters for the biggest story we’ve ever told. This is the kind of high-octane action-packed story that fans demand while also having a profound effect on every character involved—and reshaping the Marvel Universe in its wake.”

What are your thoughts on this new comics’ crisis?