Marvel’s Avengers Age Of Ultron First Look

aou-concept-art-full-complete

After yesterday’s panel of Marvel’s Avengers: Age Of Ultron debuted (descriptions here), I looked at the film stills released by Marvel on Entertainment Weekly.

aou-ew-stills-01 aou-ew-stills-02 aou-ew-stills-03 aou-ew-stills-04

The first picture should be the scene where they were hanging out and trying to lift Mjolnir. There’s Mjolnir right there. Also, even just by looking at the picture, I can sense the strong ‘brofeel’. (And it is good to see Don Cheadle there. I was hoping he’d be in the panel yesterday…)

I can’t even fathom what the second picture indicates, but the third picture makes me happy. I really like seeing them in costume because somehow Joss Whedon and Marvel always make them work in the story. That they are not just characters who dress differently because they’re unique and powerful, but because there’s a story behind their getup. Cap is back to his colorful star and stripes too, and I appreciate that. Although, I’m hoping Thor’s armor gets a little less summer-y… he probably just wants to show off his arms but I like it better when the armor has long sleeves.

The third one, though? I am not going to lie but at the moment I will say that Evan Peters’ Quicksilver is still better. His hair, for one, is a lot nicer to look at than Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s hair in this one. The bit available in the Captain America: The Winter Soldier after-credit scene was intriguing but it’s not like we get to see him being Pietro Maximoff in entirety… it’s really hard or me to expect anything without seeing more. And the X-Men: DOFP version of Quicksilver was a real highlight in any summer movie I’ve seen this year so it will be very hard to top that.

From the way everyone talks about, the one thing that really makes me curious is the Hulkbuster armor. Hopefully soon we will get to see that. Of course, we will all appreciate the first look of James Spader’s Ultron.

A side note on fan expectations and differences of the MCU films from the comic books… I don’t get it. I see vitriol poured by some fans over the announcement of the cast and characters of Ant-Man and I am baffled.

Continue reading

Marvel Studios panel at Hall H, SDCC ’14

aou-cast-comic-con-2014

Marvel Studios bring out their big guns to Hall H at San Diego Comic-Con, holding panels for their 2015 films: Ant-Man and Avengers: Age Of Ultron. As usual, Kevin Feige is there to lead A-listers in the panel with Chris Hardwick conducting.

During the Ant-Man panel, Peyton Reed shows up “to polite applause”. I guess people are still not to keen on him being the director of Ant-Man after Edgar Wright left. He establishes his own Ant-Man geek cred though; apparently “he’s a huge fan and drew himself as Ant-Man on a flyer for his punk band, Johnny Quest.” He’s still not Edgar Wright but I think I’m ready to move on now.

A few announcements are made for Ant-Man. Casting-wise, Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas are called “Ant-Men”, playing Scott Lang and Hank Pym respectively. Corey Stoll is cast as Darren Cross/Yellowjacket. Evangeline Lilly is cast as Hope Van Dyne, Janet’s daughter. Filming of Ant-Man begins on 18 August 2014.

Despite not having filmed yet, there’s a footage show. As usual, the description was live-bloged by Comingsoon.net‘s Silas Lesnick earlier:

The footage begins as a shot moves through a lab.

We see beakers filled with colored liquids.

A glass cage with an anthill inside

We hear Rudd and Douglas talking

Pym tells Lang that he wants him to be Ant-Man because he’s a regular guy

It sounds like he has no love lost for The Avengers

Rudd is terrified

“Geez Lang,” says Pym, “You’d think someone only shrunk your balls.”

It cuts to a rooftop. Ant-Man is there, tiny

It looks like he’s being pursued by full-size people

An Ant lands and Lang climbs on his back, still terrified

Pym talks to Lang through the helmet, guiding him

It looks like the helmet is damaged and Lang is having some trouble

It looks like he’s inside a computer maybe

Pym tells him to run and he jumps off a huge ledge

A flying Ant catches him as he falls and the logo comes up!

Next up is Avengers: Age Of Ultron. Which is a riot. Because the cast is huge (I think there were more people on this panel than in The Hobbit panel) although Joss Whedon and Scarlett Johansson are not there. Whedon is laid up in London due to knee injury, meanwhile Johansson is due to give birth anytime now. So there were ‘only’ Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Jeremy Renner, Cobie Smulders, Samuel L. Jackson, Paul Bettany, James Spader, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen.

aou-cast-comic-con-2014-whole-panel

There were reportedly a lot of shenanigans during the panel but I’d rather not focus on that. The video is bound to show up soon and I believe we can all watch it for ourselves. More importantly, there’s a footage from Age Of Ultron that is described by so many people.

Here’s Silas Lesnick’s version:

It’s the Avengers, hanging out together.

They’re out of costumes and all trying to lift Thor’s hammer

Tony can’t do it

He tries again with an Iron Man hand

He still can’t

Even with War Machine’s help, he can’t

Neither can Banner

Cap moves it a little!

Silas Lesnick: A big noise distracts them

It’s an old suit, moving like a zombie, entering the room… It’s Ultron!

“There’s only one path to peace,” he says, “Your extinction!”

A montage of scenes. Black Widow in her new suit with blue lining

Banner in a straightjacket?

Tanks fighting in the snow

“It’s the end,” says Stark. “The end of the path I started us on.”

“Nothing lasts forever,” says Widow

Hulkbuster armor!

Going toe-to-toe with the Hulk!

“Look,” says Ultron, seemingly in his finished form, “No string on me”

Tony in what looks like a wasteland. All the Avengers are lying, bruised and beaten before him

And Empire Magazine has this description on Twitter:

Five highlights of the Avengers footage…

5. The gang all trying to lift Mjolnir at a party. Thor laughs until Cap manages to wobble it.

4. Ultron, having just built himself, crashes that party and declares war on mankind. Spader’s voice is menacing – perfect.

3. Hulk vs Iron Man in his Hulkbuster armour. Hulk throws a car at Stark. What could have happened to make the Science Bros so angry?

2. The final shot: Stark staring at Cap’s shield, which has been broken in half. Pull back to reveal: the Avengers, destroyed? Maybe…

1. And the final reveal of Ultron, declaring there “are no strings on me”. He’s going to be a formidable opponent, a robot with personality.

Full story here.)

After the footage, Thanos himself came on stage… Josh Brolin came with the Infinity Gauntlet (and ate a purple flower).

aou-cast-comic-con-2014-brolin-rdj-flower

The panel was closed by a video greeting from James Gunn and Chris Pratt in London. Gunn announces that Guardians Of The Galaxy 2 is happening. The release date is 28 July 2017.

Excitement all around thanks to these announcements. It makes being sleep-deprived worth it.

I have some more photos for you…

aou-cast-comic-con-2014-rdj aou-cast-comic-con-2014-hemsworth aou-cast-comic-con-2014-evans

Marvel Studios Hall H Comic-Con 2013 Panel: Thor 2, Captain America 2, Guardians Of The Galaxy, Avengers 2

Silas Lesnick from Comingsoon.net live-blogged descriptions of each footage shown at the Marvel Studios panel at Hall H, San Diego Comic-Con 2013.

THOR: THE DARK WORLD
Footage Description

WOW! It looks like the most epic Game of Thrones battle you can imagine

Very, very practical-looking

The footage begins in the middle of a battlefield. The Warriors Three are among those fighting.

The rainbow bridge appears and Mjolnir comes through first.

It hits one of the opponent soldiers and Thor is right behind it.

He slams it against the Earth and soldiers go flying.

Sif saves Thor from a spear at the last second.

Over the hill a giant monster who looks like he’s made of clay approaches.

He’s huge and angry. Nearly 20 feet.

“I accept your surrender,” Thor grins.

The beast refuses and Thor smashes him to pieces with the hammmer.

“Anyone else?” Thor asks.

The Marvel logo comes up and we’re in London. Jane Foster is there and Thor arrives via the bridge.

“I gave you my word I would return for you,” he says.

We see Jane in Asgard, exploring the wonder of it all

There’s a brief, “Holy s–t” line from Kat Dennings as Thor and Jane vanish via the bridge.

Something is wrong in Asgard. There’s some sort of invisible bridge that has been discovered nearby.

Thor goes to Loki. He’s get in a prison cell with a big glass panel in front.

“After all this time, you come before me, brother?” says Loki, “Why? To mock?”

Thor says he needs Loki’s help.

We see a hand reach for a broken mask, I believe it’s Malekith.

“Your bravery will not relieve your pain,” a voice (I think Eccleston) says. “Your family and your world will be extinguished.”

Loki sets off with Thor, Jane, Sif and the Warriors Three for a mission.

Jane looks at a monitor and says something about the fabric of reality being torn apart.

Sif tells Loki that if he betrays Thor, she’ll kill him.

Jane marches right up and slaps Loki in the face.

“That was for New York!” she says.

“I like her,” Loki grins.

There’s a final shot of Thor on the ground, hurt, with Loki standing over him.

He kicks Thor directly in the face.

Thor reaches for his hammer, but Loki kicks his hand away.

The logo comes up. It looks amazing!

*

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER
Footage Description

We open in an elevator. Cap is inside, looking out the glass window. I think we’re in DC.

We see him from behind. He’s got the shield on his back like a backpack.

He turns as more people (Frank Grillo among them) get on.

His uniform is new. It looks a lot like the US Agent costume.

The music is moody, like The Hunt For Red October.

Cap looks Grillo up and down. He senses something isn’t right.

More people get on. Cap keeps looking at them. He notices many of them are armed.

More and more get on with each floor. The elevator is packed.

Cap takes another look at their guns.

Before we get started,” he says, “Does anyone want to get out?”

Grillo says something about it “not being personal” and a fight breaks out.

It’s a massive fight, mostly shot from above, in the confined space. Cap takes out every single guy.

He kicks his shield, flipping it into his hand as he exits.

The Marvel logo comes up. We see Robert Redford in an office.

He saying that he joined SHIELD to protect the world.

“To build a better world sometimes means tearing the old one down,” he says. “And that makes enemies.”

We see the Helicarrier flying. Lots of Black Widow action.

Fury shaking hands with Redford.

Fury is talking to Cap.

“I thought the punishment usually came after the crime,” Cap tells him.

We see Mackie running from a futuristic helicopter. He leaps off a building and we see the Falcon wings come out!

Cap on his motorcycle, fighting the helicopter.

The helicarrier falling out of the sky in flames.

The final shot is Cap’s shield on the ground, A metal hand reaches down to pick it up, revealing the Winter Soldier.

*

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY
Footage Description

Star-Lord gets arrested, disappointed they don’t know his name.

We see him being booked on a prison ship and John C. Reilly reading off the passenger manifest.

Drax, all practical

Gamora (Zoe looks AMAZING), also practical.

She’s described as “Thanos’ adopted daughter by Reilly”

Rocket Racoon, just called “Rocket”

No word on the voice. But he’s feisty. He spits as his name gets read.

Groot, who is all CGI and has to lean down for his mug shot.

Reilly calls him a “personal houseplant slash muscle”

I AM GROOT

Then Star Lord, who very slowly does a jack-in-the-box flipping off Reilly.

When he finishes, he mocks surprise. “Oh,” he says ,”I’m sorry. I didn’t know how that machine worked.”

As he’s getting booked, he’s very angry about a guard taking his headphones and listening to them.

“They call themselves the ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’,” Reilly says, rolling his eyes.

“What a bunch of a-holes,” says the guard behind Reilly.

The logo comes up with “Hooked on a Feeling” playing over it.

*

THE AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON

the-avengers-age-of-ultron

This is revealed to be the title for the sequel of Marvel’s The Avengers by Joss Whedon.

The Avengers: Film Review

The Avengers

One big happy superhero family

EARTH IS UNDER SIEGE. The culprit: an ambitious god with a truckload of daddy issues, leading an alien army from a universe far away. Who’re you gonna call? Definitely not the Ghostbusters.

First of all, you should call Nick Fury, the one-eyed director of S.H.I.E.L.D. who bears an uncanny resemblance to Samuel L. Jackson. Then you better hope he still has a couple of cell phone numbers on his phone. For example, Tony Stark’s – that is, “genius playboy billionaire philanthropist” – number and Steve Roger’s, who is – wait. Steve doesn’t have a cell phone. He just woke up from a 70-year hyper-sleep on ice and doesn’t really know how to work one out yet. So who else can he call? Bruce Banner who’s on a self-imposed exile in India? Natasha Romanoff who’s under cover in Russia? Or that guy who likes to perch himself on high surfaces, watches you like a hawk-eyed stalker? Or maybe Fury should start a sacrificial ritual and hope that thunder god Thor would deign Midgardians with his presence. The point is, everyone he’s got who can fight off this alien army is separated all over the globe. And they don’t get along. At least at first.

Bringing them together is a massive undertaking for Fury, but  it’s an even bigger responsibility for Joss Whedon, the Nick Fury of the  Marvel Studios’ latest superhero venture, The Avengers. Imagine – he has to put together 10 famous names from 5 previous films that were worked on by a dozen of other filmmakers in order to A. save  Earth from idiotic superhero films (yes, Green Lantern, we’re looking at you); and B. smash the summer box office.

So, did he manage? Yes. In fact, HELL YES. Not only that, Whedon may have created a new benchmark for comic book superhero movies. (Do excuse us, Nolan.)

Family affair

That The Avengers is a crossover film has already put it on a league of its own, although that doesn’t mean it is without a few complications. On one side, The Avengers already has a tried-and-true fan base from previous films (Iron Man 1 & 2, Thor, Captain America). Whedon himself  also comes with a loyal fan base that follows him from Buffy, The Vampire Slayer, Firefly and other cult projects. So if the cinemas are brimming with Marvel fans and Whedonites, it’s no surprise, and this way the movie is ensured against box office failure. On the other, Whedon still has to find a red thread that binds the six Avengers together without pissing off these people. And therein lies the challenge.

As it turns out, however, we need not worry – for this director who came into the project without a blockbuster hit in his resumé has done the impossible and emerged as the victor. First, he did it by putting his ego aside. Whedon reportedly consulted with Thor director Kenneth Branagh and Iron Man director Jon Favreau in order to align his Marvel world with its previous incarnations. Second, he imbued the script with his brand of Whedonesque genius. This means getting Robert Downey Jr. to mock Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston for doing a round of “Shakespeare in the park – doth mother know you weareth her drapes?” It also means Hemsworth got to say “he’s adopted” when Scarlett Johansson pointed out how many people Hiddleston had killed. All Whedon, all genius.

And how he wove the strands of tales that had previously existed through his heroes is an admirable feat. From RDJ’s Tony and Chris Evans’ Cap bickering like a kid and his uncle over career choices to Thor and Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner/Hulk solving their differences through fists of fury, as well as Black Widow and Hawkeye’s palpable sense of unresolved sexual tension, Whedon made them all work against the backdrop of the imposing S.H.I.E.L.D Helicarrier and office politics. He’s a like a teacher without a pet – zooming in equally on each of the characters and giving them all an equal chance to shine. And if Fury has to wait until someone’s life is taken away until everyone finally comes together, this is also a testament to Whedon’s bravery for taking risks in order to build a solid story about how 6 individuals could slowly become a team. That, or this is simply a 6-person dysfunctional family. Either way, Whedon has found a way to make the audience root for them. So if any studio wanted to produce their own crossover film, Whedon’s The Avengers is now clearly the standard to follow.

Go green

What’s great about The Avengers is that Whedon presents them the way Marvel comic writers and artists present Earth’s mightiest heroes on paper – colorful, action-packed and using frames that replace comic book panels. To enjoy the Avengers’ kick-ass journey is to read a Marvel comic crossover event – pick one, any one – with fanboy-level focus and enthusiasm. This proves that not everyone has to take the dark and serious path to make a critically acclaimed and universally popular comic book movie. Sometimes, keeping the fantasy elements alive and bringing on an alien army to wreak havoc on Earth is what it takes to win the box office race.

Even The Avengers’ villain Loki is a proper comic villain, with huge ego and even more gigantic penchant for melodrama. He’s not Joker or Lex Luthor, but he’s like a disturbing green fly (with golden horns) that can withstand the most extreme ways of extermination. In other words, highly annoying. His and his writers’ is the direction we should be applauding the loudest.

Speaking of green, it’s about time that Bruce Banner and the Hulk gets a proper screen treatment. It’s safe to say that this is the Hulk that should’ve been around all along. We absolutely cannot resist pumping our fist in the air when we saw that Ruffalo nailed both of his characters. Needless to say, the next thing to anticipate is the next solo Hulk movie – it should be the definitive one.

Considering all of this, how appropriate is it that the climax of the film is determined by green versus green? Loki versus Hulk. Green god versus green rage monster. And the winner is… SMASH.

THE VERDICT
Whedon’s vision and humor serves this epic crossover event without losing its characters’ personalities. Thanks to bromance and Hulk smash, Marvel’s domination soars to new skies.

TALKING POINT
The US military – who apparently likes to lend a helping hand in creating action movies containing military action – allegedly refused to assist with the Avengers production. They thought S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Chitauris were unrealistic enough to merit their services. And yet they helped Battleship. Irony, much?

*

The Indonesian version of this review has appeared in Total Film Indonesia Issue #31, out in May 2012.