This was a shaky situation right from the start: one mega-corporation owns a universe of beloved superheroes; and another mega-corporation owns one of the most beloved characters from that same universe! How is that going to work? For a brief shining moment, it looked like Disney and Sony could play nice and live in a world where Spider-Man could frolick freely right along with his fellow Avengers. But no more, at least not for now. Disney and Sony simply cannot play nice. Fans have their own opinions on that and have #SaveSpiderman and #SaveSpidey trending like crazy. We wish all involved the best of luck! Tom Holland would have made a great Spider-Man right alongside The Avengers.
Category Archives: Avengers
Who is it that loves superhero comics the most? Kids! Yes, superhero comics are for kids. There are plenty of stories geared toward older readers but, at the heart of the matter, if you stray so far from your younger readers, you have really lost something vital. Well, the focus shifted many years ago to mature and dark content to say the least. While an all-ages sphere of influence would prove quite interesting, we’ve moved past that model. Whatever the content, ultimately it depends on the creative team as to merit of each project. That said, kids must get their due. In that regard, Insight Editions has come up with a series with young readers in mind.
I can well imagine books like these being warmly received, taken at face value, by younger readers. Sounds idealistic? No, it’s just the power of childhood. Each one of these books is part of the Insight Legends series from Insight Editions. The series kicks off with a focus on characters from the Marvel Comics universe.
Each book comes packed with extras like posters, stickers, and “top secret” documents. Pages are full of intriguing facts, maps, and family trees, providing a veritable guidebook on a particular character. That’s the theme: a focus on one character and that character’s view of the world. Included in the series are Iron Man, Wolverine, Spider-Man, Captain America, and Thor. Each book is around 64 pages with about 10 inserts, varies with each book.
Over at Berkely Place Comics, you can find a lot of comics goodness, like a panel per panel study of landmark comics, and this look back at how often villains have restrained the Avengers, preferring to pin them to a wall like mere toys on display!
Joss Whedon’s contemporary take on “Much Ado About Nothing” has been picked up by Lionsgate. As reported by Deadline.com, Lionsgate acquired North American distribution rights to Joss Whedon’s low budget Shakespearean romp which played at the Toronto International Film Festival last weekend. It is packed with wonderful actors that have a history with Whedon, like Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof pictured below. And the look of the movie, judging by these stills, is lush and something to look forward to.
Here is a charming press release from last year, just after completion of principal photography:
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING is the first feature from Bellwether, a micro-studio created by Joss Whedon and Kai Cole for the production of small, independent narratives for all media, embracing a DIY ethos and newer technologies for, in this particular case, a somewhat older story.
Shot in glorious black and white by Jay Hunter (PAPER HEART, “Dollhouse”), the film stars Amy Acker (CABIN IN THE WOODS, “Alias”) and Alexis Denisof (“How I Met Your Mother”, “Angel”) as Beatrice and Benedick, the world’s least likely lovers headed for their inevitable tumble into love. As Joss Whedon puts it: “The text is to me a deconstruction of the idea of love, which is ironic, since the entire production is a love letter – to the text, to the cast, even to the house it’s shot in.” The supporting cast includes Nathan Fillion (“Castle”, WAITRESS) as Dogberry, Clark Gregg (AVENGERS, IRON MAN) as Leonato, Fran Kranz (CABIN IN THE WOODS, “Dollhouse”) as Claudio and Reed Diamond (“Franklin & Bash”, MONEYBALL) as Don Pedro.
The film was produced by Whedon, line-produced by Nathan Kelly and M. Elizabeth Hughes, and co-produced by Kai Cole and Danny Kaminsky. The super-impressive cast is listed below. Full tech credits (for the extraordinary crew) will be up shortly. The film should be completed by early spring and headed for the festival circuit, because it is fancy.
There’s a wonderful interview with Joss Whedon conducted by the editor of Rookie, 15-year-old Tavi Gevinson. It is a remarkable piece in that it brings out the key facts we’ll enjoy knowing about “Much Ado About Nothing,” like it was filmed entirely in Joss Whedon’s home and Shakespeare’s work plays a very important role in Whedon’s life and his group of actors. But, beyond that, Ms. Gevinson gets Mr. Whedon to open up about his childhood, the girl avatar in his work, and a bunch of silly and human stuff that would not emerge in a more standard interview. So, congrats to Rookie and Tavi Gevinson.
Is it the story that’s a little different from previous superhero movies? Loki, a god from another world, is bent on conquering Earth and it’s up to The Avengers, an unlikely mix of individuals with superpowers or super skills, to save the day. Nope, that is pretty much a standard-issue plot for superhero comics as well as movies. So, what is the twist to “The Avengers”? Wait for it….Joss Whedon!
There are a lot of Joss Whedon moments in this movie. Maybe they’re Whedon/Marvel moments but, still. I like the one where Stark momentarily has his hands on a ginormous alien ship resembling a spinal column. Just before he tosses it over to the Avengers gang to work over, he says, “I’m taking the party over to you.” Once the monster is in sight, Black Widow quips, “That doesn’t look like a party.” Or how about the moment when Captain America, at the height of the crisis, orders two of New York’s finest to secure a perimeter. One cop says, “Why should we take orders from you?” Captain America fights off like a dozen aliens before he can return his attention to the officer. The officer immediately turns on his heal and barks Cap’s orders to the rest of the police force. So, yeah, maybe you don’t want to say this exactly, but I will. The Avengers has been Buffified!
Marvel Comics was able to, one by one, create successful movies for a string of high profile superheroes that would lead to a team-up of these characters, just like in the comics. It is the talent of Joss Whedon that pulls this colossal venture together. As writer and director, Whedon has taken his quirky sensibility from his offbeat creations, like “Buffy The Vampire Slayer,” and managed to tweak the superhero genre in just the right places. Okay, there was a misstep with the original “Hulk” but, in this latest Marvel flick, the Hulk steals some of the best scenes! Is that all thanks to Whedon? Well, here’s the thing, Marvel Comics has a long history of having a good sense of humor. They can be quirky in their own way. Whedon’s quirk and Marvel’s quirk found some common ground.
Yeah, in the end, it seems like a true blending of Whedon and Marvel. The Whedon touches are there, sprinkled throughout. You can find them in some of the more elaborate details to the basic plot. And you can definitely find them in the more irreverent attitude. You’d think Tony Stark had all the snarky lines covered already without the help of Whedon. But there are a few times when Robert Downey Jr. does get to kick around more hip humor as when he keeps warning a guy at the command center to stop playing Galaga at his post.
Whedon doesn’t deconstruct willy nilly. The story is very much something that easily gets the Marvel stamp of approval. You’ll find it mostly in the banter and one liners that come up at the right moments. You’ll find the Whedon vibe in the cocky way these guys fight. There’s one scene where one of the heroes is shooting in one direction and looking nonchalant in the opposite direction while still hitting his mark. There’s a hilarious scene that has the Hulk confronting the evil mastermind, Loki, who berates him for daring to take on a god. The Hulk simply bats him around like a ragdoll.
Marvel and Whedon are also very good about tackling the big themes and having characters talk out complex issues. Every evil genius always gets a chance to have their say. In Loki’s case, we get a credible look inside his head when he explains that he just wants to give humans what they really want: to be subjugated. Another example is a beautiful scene between Mark Ruffalo and Robert Downey Jr. where Bruce Banner is explaining his inner turmoil. He had reached a point where he’d had enough. He took a gun and put it to his mouth and pulled the trigger. But “the other guy” stopped it in time. Stark tells Banner he should take that as a good sign. Banner appreciates the sentiment but asks what good can the Hulk have in store for him. Stark tells him to find out. He might even enjoy it.
What a lot of folks love about Marvel is its gritty realism. This is New York City under attack, not Gotham City. It adds another layer for the viewer to invest in. And there’s some clever plot twists that demand that realism which Whedon and Marvel make pay off. In the end, you couldn’t ask for a better mix of quirk and good old fashioned superhero action.
Scarlett Johansson is reason enough for me to see a movie. So is Robert Downey Jr. and the rest of the stellar cast of “THE AVENGERS.” And what if you’re new to comics and would like to dip your toe into the Marvel universe? Well, there are quite a number of titles to choose from. Lucky for you, I have a suggestion for a fine place to start.
Marvel Comics delivers a credible movie tie-in with their three-part limited series, “BLACK WIDOW STRIKES.” The first issue finds our title character, Natasha Romanoff, undercover at a gentleman’s club in Moscow as she seeks out a bootlegger dealing in Starktech. This is written by Fred Van Lente, with pencils by Neil Edwards, inks by Rick Magyar and colors by Nick Filardi. It is basically a solid little piece of noir with a nice hard edge drawing style mixed in with the right set of garish color contrast and moody monochromes.
What’s cool about Black Widow is that she’s a babe with no regrets. We see a lot of sexy assertiveness, not just cheesecake. Black Widow is intended to be a sexual and powerful character. From what I’ve read, she never comes across has someone hobbled by her sexuality in the way, for instance, Catwoman seems to usually be. And that’s what we get in this opening issue. Natasha gets in over her head momentarily with the bunch of mobsters but soon sets things right again. She pulls off her enormous beehive wig to unleash a huge gun that knocks the bad boys out of the game. She kicks. She struts. She kicks again. And, before her life is yet again in danger, S.H.I.E.L.D. finally comes through and supplies her with a flying contraption for her big escape.
But she’s safe only for a few moments. Scantily clad, she must do battle with a bunch of ninja commandos. One close call after another, and she’s safe again, for the moment. There are few words to exchange during these passages. The art and the attitude are energetic. We believe in Natasha. Once all the damage has been done to her penthouse suite, she regains order and bribes the bellman to keep quiet.
The only mistake that Natasha makes is one and it is huge. She engages in conversation with the very person responsible for trying to get her killed. “Sofia” assures her that it was only business and that, well, given a chance, she’d like to explain herself. She also claims to be a fan, the sort of fan who would like to take her place. For some reason, this is too much for Natasha to resist and she agrees to meet with Sofia. This does not look good for Natasha but it sounds like the start of a pretty good little tale. The next issue is out May 16. Visit Marvel Comics.
“THE AVENGERS” will be in with us soon. So, when does it come out? Honestly, I think that is the one question most people come back to, “Now, when does it finally come out??” Well, it’s MAY 4, 2012!! Don’t forget that date! If you’re somehow still new to this, Marvel and Disney have gone all out with this epic event. I really don’t expect to be disappointed.
It will be something to see, no doubt, for any movie fan. Quite possibly, “CAPTAIN AMERICA” was, and may end up remaining, the best of the bunch with such a solid and compelling story and acting talent. Then there’s the whole Robert Downey Jr. factor. “IRON MAN” would simply not be totally cool without him. Still, it’s all been leading up to this one big movie. How can you go wrong with Samuel L. Jackson? He could even make “SNAKES ON A PLANE” into something special. No, this time around it is really all about the Joss Whedon factor. How will Mr. Whedon handle this project? That’s the big deal, of course. We’ll all find out starting May 4, 2012.
Press goodies follow:
Go to GeekWeek for a chance to win the new releases of AVENGERS from Disney XD. All 20 microsodes from the first season have been streamlines into 13 standalone episodes on two volumes. GeekWeek is offering you a chance to win both DVDs. There are three chances to win. The grand prize winner will also get a classic Iron Man action figure from Entertainment Earth. All you have to do is contact them and let them know why you should win. Pretty easy, huh?
Also, let us know here at Comics Grinder how you feel about contests. You like a chance to win free swag? Drop us a line and tell us about it. We might just have a contest here too pretty soon.