Tag Archive: iron man


After years and years in development the realisation that founding comic book Avenger Ant-Man will be starring in a solo film has got a bit more real today with the announcement, from Marvel, of a release date. However, it is bad news for anyone hoping to see Hank Pym pop up in The Avengers 2, or is it? Let’s look at Marvel’s Phase 2 calender and see just where Ant-Man fits in.

 

Iron Man 3 – 26th April 2013

As expected, the next instalment of the Iron Man series comes sooner than other sequels and will complete a trilogy set in motion back in 2008 by Robert Downey Jr and Jon Favreau. This time round Shane Black will be directing and the storyling will borrow heavily from the Extremis comic book arc. The Mandarin, Iron Man’s most famous villain, will also be featuring after being teased in the first movie, then forgotten in the second.

 

Thor: The Dark World – 8th November 2013

It’s quite surprising to me that Marvel have gone for this release date with Thor’s next outing. Obviously Marvel still want to keep to their plan of getting two films out per year and moving Thor to later in the year allows them to do this as well as make it seem like less time has passed before the next film. However, Thor went down very well and, along with Iron Man, is among most fans favourite Marvel films so a summer release, I think, would have been more beneficial. Thor: The Dark World will see the return of Natalie Portman as well as more exploration of the nine realms.

 

Captain America: The Winter Soldier – 4th April 2014

Almost a year after Iron Man 3 fans will see Chris Evans’ Steve Rogers back on the big screen in his ‘man out of time’ political drama. This is one of the films I am most looking forward to because it will be interesting to see how Cap comes to terms with the fact that he is now living in a completely different place and everybody that he knows/knew is dead. I don’t think Captain America came out of The Avengers all that well so hopefully The Winter Soldier will put him right back at the top!

 

Guardians of the Galaxy – 1st August 2014

You would think that after their success Marvel would want to build on that with more familiar-ish characters and try and play it safe a little bit. Instead, they have opted for their next addition into their multi-string franchise will be a cosmic super team that features a raccoon with a gun! As a stand alone film I think Guardians of the Galaxy has bags of potential and it will be very interesting to see how this new team fits into the multiverse alongside the Avengers.

 

The Avengers 2 – 1st May 2015

The Avengers are Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and they proved that this summer. Joss Whedon put together the third highest grossing movie of all time and arguably the best comic book movie ever! The huge amount of it’s success came as a surprise to everyone and it is great news that Marvel are not just pushing out the next one. The second team feature will be released in three years and hopefully will be bigger, bolder and just as good as the first!

 

Ant-Man – 6th November 2015

So today Edgar Wright’s Ant-Man finally got a release date, Hooray! But as you will notice, Ant-Man comes AFTER The Avengers 2, meaning this is where Phase 3 begins. However, by the time that The Avengers 2 will be filming Ant-Man will have been cast and so could easily fit into The Avengers 2 and then break out for a solo film afterwards, whether this will be the case or not remains to be seen but the announcement that Ant-Man has, at long last, got a release date can only reassure fans of the Marvel films juggernaut.

There are no awards for guessing that Warner Bros. and comic book company DC Comics are desperate to get their superhero team The Justice League to the big screen. After the phenomenal success of Marvel’s The Avengers, DC seem to be desperate to compete with them on the big screen which recently, they haven’t been able to do: Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy is really the only good effort from DC recently with Superman Returns and The Green Lantern paling in comparison to Iron Man and Thor. Now Warner Bros. are pushing on with the Justice League project with directors being lined up (Ben Affleck has been reported to have been approached & turned it down) but this could lead to a huge failure rather than success.

The most obvious problem to me is the Batman problem. Before The Dark Knight Rises was even released there was talk of Warner Bros. planning to reboot the caped crusader as soon as just two or three years down the line. After the huge acclaim that Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises received it seems a ridiculous idea to want to reboot the character of Batman immediately, with fans not even having time to let the old Batman go first (although this didn’t seem to be too much of a problem for The Amazing Spider-Man, another Marvel success). With Batman being a founding member of the Justice League a movie version would seem to be lacking something without him.

Next up, there is Wonder Woman. The Avengers sole representative of the female genre came in the form of Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow and she was a very popular character in the third highest grossing movie of all time. This was no doubt down to the fact that she is largely a supporting character and at the helm of The Avengers was Joss Whedon, a man famed for his strong female characters. Wonder Woman is very different to Black Widow; Wonder Woman was the first female superhero and is a real staple in comic book history. She is the epitome of female superheroes and needs to be treated as such. Wonder Woman fans won’t want to see their favourite woman as a background character in someone else’s movie, they want to see her on par with the likes of Batman and Superman. Why is this a problem? Well, how well did Elektra and Catwoman do in their individual movies? And what happened to the new Wonder Woman television show? That’s right, cancelled after just a pilot. Not promising at all.

The new Superman film Man of Steel comes out later this year and, so far, it is unclear whether this will hint at a future Justice League movie. If it doesn’t then surely we will have to endure yet ANOTHER Superman reboot which would be horrible for film fans (and me especially as I already think Superman is a pretty boring character). It would also be pretty disappointing if it did because DC’s most recent non-Batman film was of course the largely disappointing Green Lantern. Green Lantern didn’t hint at a Justice League film either and you’ve got to really hope they’re not going to rehash it again just to get a Justice League movie out. Also, there is a very vast difference between The Green Lantern and (what we expect from) Man of Steel in terms of how real and grounded in reality each film is.

The wonderful thing about Marvel is that they had The Avengers planned for years, it was a long time in planning. The Avengers was a five year project that began back in 2008 and even before that when the film was in production. Whilst each film was coming out, though, we could tell that each film was happening in the same universe and little hints were laid (Cap’s shield in Iron Man 2, Tony Stark turning up in The Incredible Hulk, Agent Coulson’s constant appearances) to remind us what each film was leading up to. With each main character introduced in their own solo film we were given the chance to get to know each character by themselves then watch them change, grow and adapt as part of a team in The Avengers. It was a wonderful journey and an incredible moment in cinema history that showed just what could be accomplished with the right planning.

The Justice League so far has not laid any trails for fans to latch on to. I highly doubt there will be a moment in Man of Steel where Superman suddenly refers to The Green Lantern or anything like that. Warner Bros. really needs to take their time and make sure that they get individual films for Wonder Woman, Flash and, a little more difficult, Aquaman and Martian Manhunter. Warner Bros. are going to need someone special at the helm just as Marvel had Joss Whedon and a bad sign already is that Christopher Nolan has said he will not be involved.

As fans of movies, comic books and superheroes we can only hope that Warner Bros. and DC just take their time, rather than trying to rush a cut and paste job onto the big screen in reply to Marvel.

With Joss Whedon now appointed for definite to helm Marvel’s Avengers 2 and have a hand in writing the sequels, a release date announced for possibly the most anticipated film of all time (May 1st 2015) and a whole host of ‘Phase 2’ films in the pipeline including Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy and ill-fated Ant-Man Marvel is really pushing through with their billion dollar making movie projects. After such a huge success with The Avengersthough, how can Marvel move forward and improve?

I suggest that Joss Whedon and Marvel kill off one of the main Avengers characters. Yes, they killed off Agent Coulson in the first film but I think everyone expects him to turn up again in some form or capacity. I am talking about completely killing off one of the main heroes, never seeing them again, cutting a limb from the Marvel cinematic universe for one character. It would be a bold, brave and maybe a little bit crazy but surely worth the risk? I think that killing off a central character would surely add to character development and team development as we saw the Avengers become a team and, whether they liked it or not, friends and one of them dying could have huge repercussions. With so many new characters going to be added to the Marvel cinematic universe they can’t all stay as one team forever so maybe they will have to consider killing characters off in order to move forward… but who would they kill?
Let’s look at the nominees:

IRON MAN – Robert Downey Jr. is Iron Man. Iron Man is the money maker for Marvel. He was the one that started it all off and the character that is probably most popular with fans due to his quick wit that the other characters lack. However since he was the first character to kick off The Avengers maybe he will be the first to be kicked out as well. This is probably the least likely to happen I would say though because Stark Industries is such a huge player in the world and with his technological advancements he is the only one of the core heroes who can’t call upon his power at any time he needs which also gives him something different to Thor or Captain America. Iron Man is my favourite character so I’m definitely hoping he won’t be killed off.

THOR – Killing off Thor means severing all ties to other universes as Thor is the Avengers’ connection to the fantasy genre of other universes and dimensions being available to travel to. Losing Thor also means losing Loki who has become one of the greatest villains of all time and losing him as well would be a huge shame. However, with Guardians of the Galaxy also being introduced, if they come into the Marvel cinematic universe, they offer another route to the cosmic worlds that exist beyond Earth which means we could lose Thor without losing Asgard or any other realms. Chris Hemsworth also seems to have been the breakout star of Marvel’s films so far and he has quite a busy schedule to continue on. Killing Thor off would free up Hemsworth to take advantage of the praise and attention he has been getting.

THE HULK – On paper it seems as though killing of Bruce Banner/Hulk would be the most likely option. Although a very successful character of the comic books The Incredible Hulk was the worst performer of Marvel’s films at the box office and there are no plans for another sole film for the big green monster so it wouldn’t be that much of a loss. However, after Mark Ruffalo’s incarnation of the Hulk it was proven that this conflicted character could be brought to life brilliantly on the big screen and it was Hulk who many people believe to have been the best character in The Avengers. It would upset a huge fan base if Hulk was killed but it makes smart business sense and would also offer a new dimension to Tony Stark after their new found friendship was formed in the ultimate team up movie.

CAPTAIN AMERICA – Captain America is the leader of the Avengers in the comics and this came to fruition towards the end of The Avengers also so it seems highly unlikely that the leader of the team would be killed off. This did happen in X-Men: The Last Stand though with both Professor X and Cyclops ‘dying’ and we all know how that film turned out so maybe killing off the leader isn’t the right way to go. I think that Captain America has fewer stories to tell though than the others and he doesn’t really bring anything to the table with his character because, yes, he is a very moral and very good guy and he probably keeps The Avengers on the right side of the line but I’m not sure how far they can explore his character in the modern day. Once he has adjusted to his new life, what can they do? Although in the comics they seem to have done a good job of keeping him fresh and ultimately popular so I could be wrong.

SHIELD AGENTS – This includes Nick Fury, Black Widow and Hawkeye. Nick Fury should be safe, he is the glue that brought the characters together and he is the head of SHIELD therefore making him necessary to the film franchise but if he only has cameos here and there then nobody will miss him really, although his loss of life would drastically affect the films. Black Widow is the only female character on the team and it seems as though there are no plans whatsoever to change that with ‘Phase 2’ unless Wasp is introduced in Ant-Man previous to Avengers 2. This makes Black Widow pretty much immortal for a fear of backlash from female fans. Couple this with the fact that Joss Whedon is famous for his strong female characters and Black Widow is pretty much the only safe character. Hawkeye was criminally underused and treated poorly in the original film and as a fan favourite character this was pretty hard on him. I hope that his part will grow in future films but he could just as easily be removed from the universe as, at the end of the day, he is just a man with a bow and arrow. Hawkeye is one of my favourite characters and it would be a shame to see him killed off. However, the point of killing a character off would be to develop more story and I’m not really sure how killing Hawkeye would have any impact on any characters other than Black Widow.

Of course, this is purely speculation and there have been no official statements of rumours saying that one of the central characters in The Avengers will be killed off. This is just one way they could go and the way that I would do it, but I didn’t just write and direct the third highest grossing film of all time so I doubt Joss Whedon will listen to me (even though he should).

But if it was up to me I would kill off Hulk or Captain America (cue uproar).

Rumours are flooding the internet today surrounding the topic of the Snow White and the Huntsman sequel and whether Kristen Stewart or director Rupert Sanders will return for a second film. With the recent news coming out that Stewart and Sanders were having an affair it is clear this would cause more problems than its worth if these two worked again together, therefore it seems as though the sequel will not be happening with Kristen Stewart playing Snow White because Sanders looks set to return to direct. The attention instead will shift towards Chris Hemsworth’s Huntsman and create a sort of spin off from the first Snow White fantasy film. This was always the plan to do so in the third film but have two films about Snow White precede this. They could always hire Lily Collins to replace Stewart in the lead role, she made a fantastic Snow White in Mirror, Mirror and really looks the part, but if they’ve decided to tell a story based around the Huntsman then so be it; but it better be of a much higher quality than X-Men spin off, X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

There seems to not be a week go by at the minute when Marvel and its film properties aren’t in the news: be it Avengers, Iron Man, Thor, Guardians of the Galaxy or this week Daredevil. Work had apparently been moving forward on a reboot to the Daredevil film franchise at FOX and a director was even pretty much set to go for it; Joe Carnahan (director of The A-Team and The Grey) was tweeting about his excitement to adapt Daredevil in the world created by Frank Miller’s successful run on the comic books back in the late seventies/early eighties which had a darker film noir feel about them. Now it seems as though those ideas have gone up in smoke as FOX are clearly in no rush to get the project off the ground and are apparently willing to let the rights go back to Marvel come October. As soon as Marvel gets the rights back (even before probably) work will be done to get a film reboot going and it would be my guess that he would be set in the same universe as Marvel’s Avengers series probably. I hope that Ben Affleck comes in to direct the reboot, he loves the character and even though his starring role as Matt Murdock wasn’t very good he should be considered to direct, I think his Daredevil would be great and have a similar feel and tone to Gone Baby Gone.

And now here’s the latest casting news that has caught my eye this week: first of all, Aaron Paul of Breaking Bad fame has landed himself a lead role in Nick Hornby adaptation ‘Long Way Down‘ which follows four people who plan to commit suicide by jumping off a building on New Year’s Eve, but become friends with each other before the jump. Keira Knightley has gone and landed herself a part in her first franchise since Pirates of the Caribbean in Kenneth Branagh’s new Jack Ryan film in which Branagh also plays the villain to Chris Pine’s hero. It will be great to see Knightley swap her corsets and what not for a more modern attire in this film. And finally Scrubs‘ Donald Faison or ‘Turk’ has signed on to appear in comic book sequel Kick-Ass 2:Balls to the Wall as Dr. Gravity, a hero who is inspired by Kick-Ass and becomes an ally of his in his new team ‘Justice Forever’. This looks like a fun piece of casting and it is fantastic to finally see some real signs that the sequel is moving ahead!

Fanboys exist in all walks of life however it is a term most often seen associated with fans of comic books and comic book movies and this should come as no surprise as this group, despite being still looked down upon as nerds or geeks by a large number of people, are one of the most vocal about expectations of a film, especially on internet forums. This arises out of fear: fear of one of their most beloved characters or teams from the comic books that they have read for decades (Batman, X-Men, Incredible Hulk) will be ruined by a big screen adaptation because the wrong actors/actresses will be cast, the writer won’t know the source material or because things in the movie won’t be EXACTLY the same as they appear in the comic books. I would willingly describe myself as a fanboy, I kicked off (and still do) that in X-Men: The Last Stand Beast’s blue fur is part of his mutation, that Juggernaut is a mutant, that Juggernaut is not Professor X’s brother among many other things but I am not as extreme as some fans. An example being when Hugh Jackman was cast as Wolverine there was outrage because Hugh Jackman is a good foot taller than Wolverine’s comic book height; Wolverine went on to become synonymous with the X-men movie franchise and is, to date, Jackman’s most iconic film role. But that doesn’t mean that everything fanboys do is negative.

It is because of fanboys that these huge blockbuster films are possible; if the comic books never achieved a following in the first place then the characters would never have become known to mainstream audiences and would never have turned in to icons of the silver screen like they have done today. The characters owe their movie adaptations to these very fanboys. It is also these fanboys that will go and see films like The Dark Knight and The Avengers five, six or even as many as ten times! They’re passionate about what they love but if you do it right then you can win fanboys over forever, do it wrong and you will most likely be demonised and thought of as the spawn of Satan himself every time your name is mentioned.

Fans had every right to kick off when the might Galactus was represented as nothing more than a cloud in Rise of the Silver Surfer.

Among the majority of Batman films Christopher Nolan is held up as a God. He took their beloved Bruce Wayne and transferred his persona to the screen with all these very fine similarities to his comic book character without sticking directly to the source material. And if Christopher Nolan is God then Joel Schumacher is surely the devil; his camped up Batman & Robin with the infamous bat-nipples are often thought of a the worst comic book movies ever made. Other films to incur the wrath of the fanboy include X-Men: The Last Stand (as mentioned earlier), X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Hulk, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer and one of the worst movies I have ever seen, Catwoman. Get them wrong and they can be really really horrible creations but if handled in the correct way a masterpiece can be achieved (see Iron Man, Batman Begins).

Whilst fanboys have their good parts as well as their bad points the real thing that annoys me about them is the rivalry between DC fans and Marvel fans. Of course, most of these people will watch films made by both companies and enjoy the characters. I read mainly Marvel comic books but I can sit and enjoy the Batman films more than some of the Marvel ones because I am a film fan most of all. But a minority of fans (we’re talking hardcore ‘Nolanites’ and ‘Whedonites’) will only see DC films or Marvel films (whichever they read) and will go out of their way to boycott the rival films, meaning that some pour souls out there have limited themselves to only seeing one of either The Dark Knight Rises or The Avengers which are two of the best films I have ever seen, let alone of this year.

Two examples of internet memes created by Whedonites and Nolanites.

The extent of the rivalry should be put aside in favour of the huge spectacles that are brought to the big screen and while sometimes the fanboy community can go over the top in it’s dislike for a film, their passion should not be simply dismissed.

Rise of the Guardians is the latest animated offering from DreamWorks Animation that will be released later on this year and is already the subject of much hype. I think that this film will be a huge success and, take away The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises, this is probably the film that I have been most looking forward to this year. But why?

The Avengers smashed records left, right and centre upon its release earlier this year and brought together characters like Iron Man, Captain America, Thor and Hulk to the big screen to all work together. Well, Rise of the Guardians is The Avengers of childhood; everyone has different lives obviously but there are some things that are the same in everyone’s childhood as they grow up and this is their belief in Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, the Sandman and Jack Frost. Rise of the Guardians brings together these heroes of childhood in the same way that The Avengers were brought together, and who is the Loki to Rise of the Guardians team? Someone that every child has nightmares about; the Boogeyman. It’s a brilliant concept for a film to have these famous characters working together and being aware of each and every one of their existences.

Rise of the Guardians is based on William Joyce’s The Guardians of Childhood book series and the books, whilst only released last year were instant hits and are surely going to become classic stories that children will be reading for years. Joyce is also already a big name in the world of animated films; he worked on the art design for Pixar’s Toy Story and A Bug’s Life, produced Robots and wrote Meet the Robinsons. Joyce, as well as writing Rise of the Guardians, is producing and co-directing. The fact that he is writing and co-directing the film is great news because it will mean that he will be able to tell the story exactly as he wants meaning the audience will see the film how it is meant to be seen which always makes a film better!

DreamWorks Animation obviously is in a very difficult position because it has to play second place in the animation world to Pixar, although this is nothing to be ashamed of. I think DreamWorks are pretty up and down: the Shrek series was pretty inconsistent despite a great start, I’m not too keen on the Madagascar series and Shark Tale was worse than average. But when DreamWorks get it right they really do get it right! Flushed Away is brilliant, Kung Fu Panda is great and How to Train Your Dragon is up there with anything Pixar have ever done and even better than some of their films. Rise of the Guardians does look as though it will be one of DreamWorks’ best films to date and that means it will be fantastic! The animation from the trailer itself looks amazing and it will be a treat for all the senses.

Who could have ever imagined that Hugh Jackman, the man who plays the berserker rage suffering Wolverine, would play the Easter Bunny, or Bunnymund as he will be called in Rise of the Guardians. It seems strange casting but just from the trailer it looks spot on! Plus, any film that has Hugh Jackman saying the line “I’m a bunny” just has to be good! Rise of the Guardians’ cast also boasts Chris Pine as Jack Frost, Isla Fisher as Tooth (the Tooth Fairy), Alec Baldwin as North/Santa Claus (brilliant casting!) and Jude Law as Pitch, the Boogeyman. It’s a cast of big names and great voices which will no doubt add to the enjoyment of the film.

When I first saw the trailer I said that it was the best trailer I had seen for a very long time and I still stand by that statement; it tells the story, introduces the characters and packs in lots of laughs in a short space of time. Every little bit of advertising I see for Rise of the Guardians just makes me want to see it even more and the release date cannot come quick enough!

30th November 2012… Legends Unite.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is a crime action comedy that was released back in 2005 to critical acclaim with some critics calling it one of the best movies of that year. The film tells the story of a murder mystery that brings together a private eye, a struggling actress, and a thief masquerading as an actor. It takes place at Christmas time and is packed full of great action, fantastic characters and brilliant dialogue and it has quickly become one of my favourite films of all time, here is why:

Shane Black. Black is the writer of films such as Lethal Weapon and The Last Action Hero which are both very popular films but there is a difference between those and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang which comes a whole seven years after Black’s last film credit. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is both written and directed by Shane Black and I am a huge fan of this style of film making. When a writer is able to direct his project as well it means that there is arguably more passion involved in the directing and the writer can make the movie exactly as they envision it. Black’s love of his characters and script come through really well in the directing and help to make the film seem more personal.

As well as being Shane Black’s comeback Kiss Kiss Bang Bang was also the film that gave Robert Downey Jnr his (second) big break. Downey plays Harry Lockhart who is the character at the centre of the movie’s plot. Harry Lockhart is the thief who fell into the world of acting and the character is a perfect fit for Robert Downey Jnr. He smacks of wit and charm and is very similar to the version of Tony Stark that audiences would soon come to recognise the actor for. A lot of the films humour comes from Downey Jnr as we are treated to his narration and some fantastically witty lines; when asked by an actress what Lockhart does for a living his quick reply is “I’m retired, I invented dice when I was a kid” and when Perry reveals a gun from down his trousers after shooting their captor from his crotch Lockhart remarks “Wow! I was glad you had a gun in there. For a second, I actually thought you could do that, like it was some big gay thing” – just two lines that make Kiss Kiss Bang Bang a really great film. Shane Black and Robert Downey Jnr make for a dream combination which is to be let loose again on Iron Man 3.

The first gay action hero. Val Kilmer’s private investigator character of ‘Gay’ Perry is usually seen as the first gay lead in an action film and this is obviously a great thing. His sexuality doesn’t change any angle of the story but it is something that is interesting to add and sets up a few jokes rather nicely. Another huge reason for me loving this film though is Michelle Monaghan as Harmony Faith Lane, an aspiring actress and childhood friend of Harry Lockhart. Monaghan is one of my favourite actresses because as well as being painfully beautiful she also has the acting ability to go with it and she is allowed to run wild in this film as a kind of innocent looking but feisty girl who manages to cut of the end of Harry’s finger just by slamming it in a door – over the top ridiculous but Kiss Kiss Bang Bang gets away with it completely.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang has it all; it has the great characters, fantastic dialogue, a brilliant cast that fit their parts perfectly and the action and comedy blend into one another seamlessly.  Some films become more boring and less exciting the more times you watch them but that can’t be said for Kiss Kiss Bang Bang; every time I have watched it I have noticed things that I hadn’t before, I noticed more witty remarks, something different in the directing. This movie definitely has the rewatchability factor.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is soooooo good! Watch it… watch it now!

The Face of the Bourne Franchise: Past & Present

It was stated earlier this week by The Bourne Legacy producer Frank Marshal that it would be his dream to see Matt Damon and Jeremy Renner on the screen together in a future Bourne film as Jason Bourne and Aaron Cross respectively. This is something that fans of the series will no doubt be drooling at the prospect of if the Renner helmed The Bourne Legacy does as well as expected this summer. But it would not be the first time that several characters from a single franchise had appeared together.

Back in 2008 Marvel Studios began a four year adventure with what is quite possibly the best piece of foreshadowing in movie history; Nick Fury’s appearance post-credits Iron Man announcing something called the Avengers Initiative? Later, Marvel released Captain America, The Incredible Hulk, Thor and Iron Man 2 before bringing all strands of their universe together in a little movie you may have heard about this year: The Avengers. The Avengers became the third highest grossing film in movie history and one of the key reasons for this is no doubt because it is the culmination of a multi-strand franchise, bringing together the best characters from a series of film all together in one film sharing the screen time. This could be the start of something new for the movie universe.

Comic book readers’ dreams came true when The Avengers exceeded expectations this summer

Of course, movie fans with a specialist knowledge, shall we say, will point out that Marvel’s The Avengers is not the first film to bring together characters from a successful movie series. Although, by any stretch of the imagination, not on the same level commercially or critically as The Avengers, in 2011 the Fast & Furious franchise brought out Fast Five; not only did Fast Five feature the main characters of the franchise (Vin Diesel, Paul Walker) it also brought back characters from previous films such as Tyrese Gibson’s Roman Pearce from 2 Fast 2 Furious (of which Vin Diesel had no part), Sung Kang’s Han (Tokyo Drift) and Gal Gadot’s Gisele Harabo (Fast & Furious). This was not a ploy to pull in audiences (that was all thanks to Dwayne Johnson!) but more of a nod to fans of the franchise and I have to say that when I saw all the characters from the previous films coming together for Fast Five I was really surprised and pleased to see them all there! It’s just a real acknowledgement that these characters do know each other and I think that it adds another level to, not only, the friendship of the characters but also the film universe itself. Of course I was happier to see Iron Man fighting alongside Hulk and Thor but seeing everyone from the Fast & Furious franchise working together was almost just as pleasing; I imagine seeing Damon and Renner fighting together in a later Bourne film would have exactly the same effect.

The Fast Five crew is built of characters from the previous four films.

I think that audiences really like it when they see old characters from previous films returning to help out their friends in a later film or just appear at the same time. It is also a big money spinner as The Avengers proved and Fast Five is also the most successful film of that franchise, helping to retain some credibility for the Fast and the Furious brand.

Obviously, it is a huge commitment when doing something like this because plans have to be set in motion several years before the big event and that means taking huge risks. For example, if both Thor and Captain America solo films had failed then all the hard work heading towards The Avengers wouldn’t have paid off. This is a risk that DC comics and Warner Bros. do not seem to be taking with their comic book heroes despite fans crying out for the ‘Avengers model’ on Justice League.

My opinion is that these multi-strand franchises are a fantastic idea and they have an incredible effect on me as a member of the audience. Unfortunately though, people who make movies do not have foresight and can not tell whether a series of films will be just as successful in a few years so it may be time wasted that could have earned money somewhere else but when done properly they are like nothing else; the journey from Iron Man to The Avengers was fantastic to see on screen with all these solo films being connected in the slightest of ways (and not so slight in Iron Man 2) but it’s unlike anything that’s ever been done before and if more franchises could use this model I, for one, would be very very happy about that!

Some weeks go by when there is not a single thing happening in the movie world that I am bothered about and then all of a sudden three things come along at once:

 

First up, there is a new Van Helsing film in development! Before you question why this is good news, you first have to know that this will not be a sequel to the awful Hugh Jackman interpretation of the character back in 2004, this will be a complete reboot. The reboot is to be written by Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, a writing pair that can boast hits such as Star Trek, Fringe, Alias, The Legend of Zorro, Mission: Impossible III, Transformers and, to a lesser extent, Cowboys and Aliens. Kurtzman has said that the reboot will be ‘grounded in reality’ and has high aims as he wants to ‘do for Van Helsing what [Christopher] Nolan has done for Batman’. The other piece of exciting news surrounding this project is who is attached to star as the title character: Tom Cruise. His career seems to have had its own little reboot in the last couple of years and he is being lined up to appear in everything, not that I’m complaining, I think he is a great person to watch and has a fantastic on screen persona. Van Helsing has no set release date yet with Cruise’s hectic schedule but a release of 2014/15 may be realistic.

 

Next up, Bourne! The Bourne trilogy is one of my favourites of all time, I think Matt Damon’s portrayal of super spy Jason Bourne is a character to rival any other and the storyline, the directing and the supporting cast are all fantastic. So when I heard that Damon and director Paul Greengrass would not be returning for fourth film The Bourne Legacy I was understandably disappointed. Then my disappointment faded with the announcement of Jeremy Renner becoming the lead role and playing Aaron Cross in what has been dubbed a ‘paraquel’ (the events take place simultaneously with the original Bourne trilogy). Frank Marshall, the producer of The Bourne Legacy has now said that it is his ‘dream’ to see Matt and Jeremy team up in the fifth installment. Of course, this is just a dream at the minute and Damon has fierce loyalty to director Greengrass and recently had a falling out with writer and new director Tony Gilroy but money talks and a huge payday for Damon could be in line if he was to return to the franchise which would be incredible!

Here is the incredible trailer for Renner’s The Bourne Legacy

And finally…

 

Marvel are riding high on the waves of success at the minute and a few months ago announced the line up for their next few films. among the regulars of Iron Man 3, Thor 2, Captain America 2 there were a couple of surprises with Marvel announcing two secret films. Immediately there was speculation that the 2014 secret movie would be a Black Panther origin story. Black Panther is one of my favourite characters in the Marvel universe and really does deserve a film and in the past week or so there has been no shortage of actors saying that they would love to be a part of the film. Anthony Mackie (The Hurt Locker, Abraham Lincoln:Vampire Hunter) said that he hoped to be a part of The Incredible Hulk but wasn’t and would sign on to Black Panther today; Brian J. White (Cabin in the Woods, Brick) has also said he would love to work with Marvel when he was linked with the role but I don’t think that he looks the part so I would count him out straight away; Aldis Hodge (Leverage) seems to be the current fan favourite out of people who have confirmed their interest in the role and just by looking at him you have to say that he does seem to be the perfect fit. I would still hope that Djimon Hounsou got the part but maybe Marvel will go for a lesser known and cheaper actor for the part.

(left to right) Fan favourite Aldis Hodge; Marvel superhero Black Panther; my pick Djimon Hounsou.

Marvel’s The Avengers is out right now and breaking records left, right and centre; it has smashed the record for highest grossing opening weekend and is on course to break into the billion dollar club, who knows whether it will become the highest grossing film of all time. The highest grossing comic book movie to date is Batman flick The Dark Knight, the sequel to which, The Dark Knight Rises, comes out later this year and along with The Avengers looks to make this summer one for the comic book fans to really enjoy, but will The Dark Knight Rises be able to outdo The Avengers in terms of profit?

Batman Begins, the first of Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale’s Batman franchise, took in over $370 million at the box office which was pretty standard for a superhero movie at the time, putting it on a par with the very below average Superman Returns and the lacklustre Men in Black 2. However, The Dark Knight rose to critical acclaim worldwide and managed to rake in over $1 billion worldwide, becoming not only the highest grossing comic book movie of all time but also the eleventh highest grossing film of all time.

So The Dark Knight Rises has a tough act to follow and will it be able to follow that? Batman is a popular character and the huge scope of the audience that The Dark Knight managed to reach went beyond everyone’s expectations and now everybody knows about Batman and everyone knows what kind of film they will be getting going to see Nolan do another Batman movie. This is a good thing as you would expect a sequel to one of the highest grossing, and arguably best, films of all time would be able to make just as much money if not more, especially with the cast and crew all returning and the public hype the film is receiving.

However, something that could play against The Dark Knight Rises is that The Dark Knight created such high expectations in the minds of the audience that The Dark Knight Rises may not be able to reach. You have to assume that a lot of the money made from The Dark Knight was also made by a lot of people going to see the film on more than one occasion and if The Dark Knight Rises fails to live up to its predecessor then will fans really want to go and see it again? Probably not.

The reason for The Avengers making so much money so quickly, in my opinion, is because this is what a lot of comic book fans have been waiting for since the birth of the superhero movie; it is all of Marvel’s big hitters on screen at the same time: Captain America, Iron Man, Thor and The Hulk all sharing screen time. These characters were already introduced via their own movies in Marvel’s very clever and special approach to film making which meant that even if some fans didn’t like Thor or The Hulk, they would still see The Avengers for Iron Man or Cap. The Dark Knight Rises isn’t in that position; if you don’t like Batman you more than likely won’t want to watch a film about him.

Also, with The Avengers doing so well, the tide may turn for comic book movies and fans may want to see the colour of comic book pages brought to the big screen once again, they want the fun element of the comic books back on the screen and The Dark Knight Rises may be seen as TOO dark by some fans. However, Batman fans will be used to the darkness as his story has always been a dark one (minus the camping up by Adam West and Joel Schumacher over time) so that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Personally, I don’t think that The Dark Knight Rises will make more than The Avengers; The Avengers is still going strong and will still be earning top dollars at international box offices for the coming weeks, then we shall have to see how The Dark Knight Rises does. But the originality that made The Avengers so popular is not there in Nolan’s ‘threequel’ but if achieves the same acclaim throughout its previews as The Dark Knight did then it would come as no surprise to see it break The Avengers‘ new opening weekend record.