Tag Archives: Marvel Studios

iFeature | MARVEL STUDIOS 10 Years… Not Just a Phase (Part 1)

In the beginning, 10 years ago, it would have hardly been imaginable that a cinematic universe was in the making, now Marvel Studios has redefined the “blockbuster” and it all began something invincible, incredible and mighty!

The summer movie landscape was always the playground for Hollywood’s big-budget bonanzas! The studios figured it was the most operative and lucrative of opportunities to roll-out the popcorn fair, and it gave them the funds to drop big money into their prestigious Fall Movie releases, which were often star-power draws and dramas ready for awards season. It all started to drastically change when the studios started to see big box office returns from genre-faves like Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man and Bryan Singer’s X-Men.

Warner Bros. always had itself a cash cow with the Batman franchise, but when the studio decided to reboot the franchise and handed it over to visionary filmmaker Christopher Nolan Batman Begins jumpstarted a whole new way to envision the superhero film. Marvel was starting to pick up on this as well, and although it saw an interesting swing handing Ang Lee Hulk in 2003, Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man films were really the path of least resistance for Marvel to take, especially if its plans to control how their properties got adapted to screen was to materialize.

When Kevin Feige the president of Marvel Studios inherited the reigns, Feige imagined something not unlike the popular pulp series books that Marvel Comics introduced and had been publishing for 80 years. He saw a universe of interconnected stories, stand-alone film franchise with characters that inhabited the same linear narrative and would potentially interact with one another, and when the time was right — the people, their stories and worlds would intersect into one — just like the superheroes that Stan Lee brought to life in the Marvel Universe of comics.

Marvel Studios IRON MAN

In 2008 Marvel Studios took its biggest gamble, and it paid off when it handed the reigns of Iron Man to director Jon Favreau. The largely untested filmmaker had certainly carved a niche for himself in comedies and starred in several of his own features, but Favreau had a very deep understanding of the technological wonder that is the character and was a natural fit to bring The Invincible Iron Man to the big screen. The story goes that Favreau called in several favors, including reaching out to Academy Award Winner Gwyneth Paltrow to appear in the film.

The director’s greatest advantage came from landing Robert Downey, Jr. to star as billionaire weapons manufacturer Tony Stark, who after getting kidnapped by terrorists who want him to build them super weapons instead constructs for himself a life-saving armor. Stark becomes the Iron Man and heralds in a new hit at the box office. Iron Man took in a gross of 585.2 million and inspires a new movement with the post-credits “stinger”. At the conclusion of his epic battle with Iron-Monger (Jeff Bridges), Stark is approached by a mysterious secret agent with a proposal.

Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury suggests to Stark that it’s the beginning of a New Age and that he’s recruiting a team to tackle the threats that will require some “avenging”. This stinger sent a seismic shift through Hollywood introducing the idea of “The Avengers Initiative” — and the Marvel Studio cinematic universe was born! Favreau and Feige had a plan, a bigger picture in mind, a narrative that would run a thread through several big-screen franchises, but lead to a larger scale adventure the realm of which audiences couldn’t imagine would ever make it to the big screen.

Marvel Studios THE INCREDIBLE HULK

Perhaps the unlikeliest follow-up to the success of Iron Man was the release of The Incredible Hulk especially given how recently the big Green Goliath had been adapted for the big screen. Ang Lee took a stab at the monster’s story five-years earlier with his near art house adaptation starring Eric Bana. Credits were not amused and that movies ending left a lot to be desired, but Marvel Studios plowed forward with a “reboot” with Louis Leterrier in the director’s chair and Edward Norton now filling the role of the gamma radiated Dr. Bruce Banner.

The film almost feels like a sequel to its predecessor, although it recasts all the major roles including Liv Tyler as Betty Ross and William Hurt as General Ross, who has made it his mission to hunt down the fugitive Banner who has proven most elusive. Banner has taken to moving all over the world in an endless and tireless quest to contain the beast within him; that proves precarious when Banner gets wind of a possible cure and resurfaces. Ross has also recruited the bloodthirsty Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth) — who becomes an Abomination!

The film was received with mixed reviews, but still made a dent with a take of 263.4 million in box-office; not Iron Man numbers but still proving lucrative by studio expectations. The film, in fact, did exactly perform as anticipated and served to set the ball rolling. The inclusion of a particularly important moment, at the end of the flick established Tony Stark (Downey, Jr.) in this world with an interest in Banner’s extra angry alter ego. This may not have set well with the movie’s star. It had been reported that Edward Norton clashed often with the film’s director and producers.

Norton had his own ideas about how the story should have progressed and was very vocal about his dissatisfaction with the final edit. The actor had been approached about continuing with the role, and it was also rumored that Robert Downey, Jr. was brought in to persuade the actor to stay on with the studio. It appeared that Marvel Studios would have other plans and the next time that the Hulk would appear on screen he would be embodied by a new actor that would make his mark and a smashing addition to the ensemble.

Marvel Studios Iron Man (2008) directed by Jon Favreau and starring Robert Downey, Jr., Terrence Howard, Jeff Bridges and Gwyneth Paltrow is now available on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and Digital Download.

Marvel Studios The Incredible Hulk (2008) directed by Louis Letterrier and starring Edward Norton, Liv Tyler, Tim Roth and William hurt is available on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and Digital Download.

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iFeature | Marvel’s Cinematic Universe on AVENGERS Heading Towards the “ENDGAME”

The final curtain is about to drop on Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and after “The Snap” heard around the universe, it’s anyone’s guess how it’ll all play out, but invariably MARVEL STUDIOS redefined the superhero movie!

All it may have taken was a single “Snap!” to tragically undercut the growing legacy of the Marvel Studios heroes, in Avengers: Infinity War the big bad that has loomed in the shadows, puppeteering events across a decade of blockbuster films, the Mad Titan Thanos (played by Josh Brolin) altered the course of the history by annihilating half of the entire galaxy’s population — and taking with him some of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s newest stars including Black Panther, Doctor Strange and the newly integrated Spider-Man.

The third installment in the Avengers franchise, crushed under its heel any anticipated hope fans may have had of a new “phase” elaborating on an ever-expanding universe capturing the spirit of the Marvel Comics that many movie goers had been thrilled to see come to life, since the introduction of Robert Downey, Jr in 2008s Iron Man. Studio chief Kevin Feige envisioned a theatrical experience that replicated the serialized episodic world these characters had inhabited in their 2-D incarnations, fleshing them all out fully to properly transition to the big screen.

By the time all the main players converged onto widescreen for the Avengers team movies, the film just couldn’t get any better, the action more dynamic and the stakes always higher, but at its core the players remained rooted to the core of their origins — their creator Stan Lee had always believed in the premise that as extraordinary as the circumstances that were that made these individuals heroic, they were always as “real” as real could get — especially in the case of sharing hall space with a thunder god and a radioactively rage-filled hulk.

The Avengers (2012)
L to R: Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), and Hulk (Mark Ruffalo)

A Marvel Indeed

When the titular heroes including Iron Man, Captain America and Thor (and arguably The Hulk) were corralled under one umbrella to be featured in the team film Avengers the studio blockbuster would immediately be altered forever! Successful franchise films had become regularly expected, especially with genre-inspired material like the X-Men or Spider-Man films, although by the time those features hit their third installments the narrative often felt stale, leading to the inevitable reboot. Kevin Feige imagined a longer, more linear experience and inspired a universal story arc.

Avengers bent that rule by landing all the separate or anticipatory franchise characters inside of a team roster. The first film released in 2012 introduced the “founding members”, its follow-up 2015s Avengers: Age of Ultron expanded upon the roster, and by the time we’d arrived at 2018s Avengers: Infinity War the entirety of the Marvel Cinematic Universe was recruited to take on the larger than life adversary. It was also necessary since the team was essentially disbanded.

Directed by Anthony and Joe Russo Captain America: Civil War (2016) the third film in that franchise disassembled our core heroes, but introduced Black Panther, initiated the Ant-Man and gave us an amazing Spider-Man: Homecoming. The Avengers may have come to an impasse but movie audiences knew that the real war was infinitely on the horizon, and that when the stakes were raised to upwards of a cosmic scale, it would take all of our muscle to fight back — unfortunately we hadn’t factored in that the bad guy might win in the end!

The Next Phase

So perhaps now would be a good time to catch our breath before the next, and fourth film in the franchise hits theaters worldwide. Avengers: Endgame is not shying away from admittedly letting its audience know upfront — however this plays out, the title should be taken very seriously. Inevitably some of our favorite characters may live, and others might die, and still some others have to determinately crawl themselves back from where ever they may have found themselves after that fateful “Snap!”

Marvel Studios has proven in its premiere decade its dominance over the superhero film franchise, a formula that others have attempted to emulate with mixed results, but never as effortlessly as Marvel appeared to master the medium. With the theatrical experience marking a steadfast transition to the home, the Marvel catalog is now getting the 4K respect that it widely deserves. In the Ultra HD resolution that 4K offers the Avengers franchise especially has never looked or sounded so epic!

Picture quality is unmatched and this is most evident in the heavily CGI moments that often occur when the screen is inhabited by Hulk and an army of Ultron robots. 4K also enhances the environment that these actors exist in, turning their highly futuristic war rooms and battle sites, whether deep on the edges of the earth or on the streets of New York appear all the more textured and tangible. The cinematically profound depths of the audio bombardment is also something to behold! With all three of the current film’s available on 4K, this is the only way to assemble proper!

Trailer | Marvel Studios AVENGERS: ENDGAME

As the countdown to the summer’s biggest event film begins, fans brace themselves for what will undoubtedly turn out to be the Marvel Studios blockbuster to end (literally) all blockbusters.

Avengers assemble! One last time! To imagine that fans have been on the edge since the epic conclusion of Avengers: Infinity War is in itself a huge understatement. The last time we saw our intrepid team of adventures they had gathered their defenses and rallied to fend off the mad plans of Thanos (Josh Brolin). After gathering all of the all-powerful Infinity Stones, the Titan was able to fashion his Infinity Gauntlet and simply “snapped” his fingers and eradicated half of all life…everywhere!

It appeared hopeless. Thanos had won and although there have been two additional Marvel Studios releases in between, the end of Ant-Man and The Wasp didn’t exactly inspire optimism; then came Captain Marvel and at least in Carol Danvers we may have found a savior. In the latest trailer for Avengers: Endgame it appears that the Avengers with Captain America, Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) in the lead is preparing to launch one final operation. Cap isn’t alone in his effort. He’ll be joined by the remaining Avengers, including Rocket Raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper).

Exactly what the Avengers have in mind isn’t clear from the looks of this trailer. Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) is back in the mix, but he’s adopted a new identity — that of the martial artist/weapons master Ronin, and Don Cheadle appears poised to step back into his War Machine armor as James Rhodes fills the void from the still MIA Tony Stark, franchise lead Robert Downey, Jr. — but wait…as we see the Avengers marching into battle we see that Stark is back on terra firm, and now Nebula (Karen Gillan) will also be joining the fray.

A Decade of Marvel Movies

What the trailer does do so masterfully is evoke the 10 years of cinematic achievement that it’s taken to get to this moment. Marvel Studios has single-handedly altered the way audiences approach the genre and successfully introduced a serialized universe where all of the Marvel properties co-exist and in so doing inhabit an evolving narrative inspired by the very medium it’s adapted from. Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige couldn’t have imagined what franchise would become — or perhaps he did. Knowing the full weight of what these characters mean to fans.

The trailer returns to some of the most defining moments from the last decade of Marvel Studios films; from the first flight of the Iron Man, the recruitment of Steve Rogers, our first glimpse at the mighty spires of Asgard and ends with the indoctrination of its newest star. In the final moment, Captain Marvel herself, Brie Larson, stands toe-to-toe with an utterly intimidating Thor (Chris Hemsworth) who summons his new weapon Stormbreaker to his side, and Danvers barely flinches. Afterwards, he declares his approval of the newest Avenger in their ranks.

Check out the new trailer for Avengers: Endgame here:

Marvel Studios Avengers: Endgame opens in theaters worldwide on April 26.

Trailer | Marvel Studios CAPTAIN MARVEL

Carol Danvers may not be the most well known star (yet) in the Marvel Cinematic Universe but her alter ego CAPTAIN MARVEL shines like a super nova in the first trailer heralding next summer’s first blockbuster!

It fell from outer space! And dropped right into the middle of a 1990’s Blockbuster! That’s literally how the new trailer of the much anticipated Marvel Studios Captain Marvel begins. The film’s heroine, Carol Danvers played by Brie Larson is headlining the first feature in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and introducing Captain Marvel to a new generation. The character herself has been around since the 1960 and earned her own title in the 1970s under her original superhero moniker Ms. Marvel.

Danvers, an Air Force pilot gains extraordinary abilities when she is exposed to alien technology, a Kree device (the Kree are first mentioned in the MCU in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1) that is instrumental in the film and comics origin of the character. Captain Marvel crashes onto the Earth and is met with scrutiny from a new ally, Nick Fury again portrayed by Samuel L. Jackson. Larson apparently sits well in the skin of one of Marvel Comics most powerful heroes, and certainly expects to garner as similar a success as the competition’s Wonder Woman.

In recent history the character of Carol Danvers, as Captain Marvel has been elevated to a level that matches her contemporaries like Iron Man, Captain America, The Hulk and Spider-Man, and with Avengers: Infinity War having struck down many of these major players, will the arrival of Captain Marvel signify the new age of the Marvel Studios franchises? That certainly would appear to be the suggestion, but with a story that promises to span the cosmos and create a time-tripping backstory that could introduce the newest Avenger, it just looks cool!

Here is the trailer for Captain Marvel expected in theaters in March 2019.

Cover2Cover | First Look CAPTAIN MARVEL

Courtesy of Entertainment Weekly the pop-culture mag landed the premiere look at Brie Larson as Marvel Studios newest shooting star CAPTAIN MARVEL!

At the conclusion of Marvel Studios Avengers: Infinity War the mad Titan Thanos had succeeded with eradicating half of the population of the known universe. In the final moments, embedded in one of the film’s in-credit stingers, is perhaps the promise of the ultimate salvation for the Marvel Cinematic Universe! Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) using an old style pager sends out a distress call and we can only hope that the recipient of that message is listening, because we could use a miracle — we could use Captain Marvel!

Fans have known for months now that the Marvel Comics leading lady was making the big leap to the big screen, saddling up to the likes of Iron Man, Captain American and Thor. Academy Award-Winning actress Brie Larson won the coveted role of Air Force pilot turned interplanetary superhero Carol Danvers; not exactly the most popularly known name in common circles, but Carol has been an long-standing member of the Avengers in the comics, evolving into the Marvel Comics imprint’s version of the competitor’s Wonder Woman.

With the blockbuster success of that big screen adaptation and Wonder Woman’s (as portrayed by Gal Gadot) subsequent appearance in Justice League theater goers have proven that the world is ready for headlining super heroines to star in their own features. Marvel Studios is banking that Captain Marvel which will also feature Jude Law, Djimon Hounsou and Lee Page, will rightfully take its place even as Avengers 4 prepares to create a vacuum as key players in the MCU make their exit to let a new generation take over.

Don’t Call Her Ms. Marvel

The story in Captain Marvel will introduce audiences to Carol Danvers (Larson) the Air Force pilot and is set in the mid-90s. Danvers will find herself in the middle of an extraterrestrial invasion when the shape-shifting Skrulls (first introduced in pages of Marvel Comics Fantastic Four) bring their battle with the Kree (established within the MCU courtesy of Guardians of the Galaxy) to Earth and nab the attention of Nick Fury (Jackson) who will recruit Danvers to help repel this new threat. How it all unravels that Carol ends up with superpowers will soon be revealed.

Audiences are more excited about the potential introduction of Carol Danvers alter-ego Captain Marvel returning to Avengers 4 — especially with the World’s Mightiest Heroes numbers all-but decimated by the terrorist Thanos, they’ll need all the help they can get, and with Larson flexing further her muscles to assume the role of Marvel Comics super namesake, this will undoubtedly spark an entirely new dimension in the growing narrative establishing Marvel Studios’ domination of the genre.

Entertainment Weekly featured these thrilling “first looks” from the upcoming motion picture which will inaugurate the 2019 Summer Blockbuster Season when it is released on March 8.

The Skrulls make their Marvel Cinematic Universe debut in the next summer’s “Captain Marvel”.

 

iReview | ANT-MAN AND THE WASP

Marvel’s most astonishing pint-sized hero is back for another big screen adventure, but after battling on the side of the angels in the climatic Civil War Ant-Man and The Wasp must team-up — for the first time — to save the day!

In the annals of Marvel Comics creations, the characters of Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne are without a doubt instrumental in setting in motion the comics imprint’s modern era of superheroes. As two of the founding members of the Avengers, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, the duo had a significant influence inspiring every generation that followed in their footsteps. When Marvel Studios announced that they would be adding the pair to their cinematic line-up, fans assumed that they would debut as part of the premiere team-up of Avengers. Not so.

As part of the next phase of the extended Marvel cinematic universe Ant-Man was introduced in his own big screen adventure, but it wouldn’t be Henry “Hank” Pym in the title role. Veteran Hollywood actor Michael Douglas was cast as the original hero first introduced in the classic Tales to Astonish #27 (Jan. 1962), but it would be comedic leading man Paul Rudd who would step into the super suit with the abilities to control his size and mass! Rudd was cast as Scott Lang, the second hero to assume the mantle of “Ant-Man” and introduced in Marvel Premiere #47, 1979.

In the comics, Lang a talented engineer was also a small-time crook who stole Hank Pym’s suit, but after proving himself to the scientist, Pym recognizes Scott’s potential and gives him the suit, so long as he uses it to fight crime. As the new Ant-Man, Scott Lang would become a hero in his own right often teaming up with Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four and even joining the Avengers for a time. His daughter Cassie would eventually assume her own superhero persona and join the next generation of heroes inspired by the Avengers.

Hope Van Dyne (Lilly) is every bit the hero the world needs, and a capable force even at pint-size!

On the Big Screen

When the hero was realized for the big screen, his origin was similarly styled after his comic book introduction. Pym (Douglas) has learned that the technology he has developed and coveted over the years called “Pym particles” is being coopted by a former business partner. With the help of his daughter, Hope Van Dyne (played by Evangeline Lilly) the pair intended to recruit Lang to their cause to subvert the organization that is intending to weaponize his science and turn his life around as a superhero.

As the Ant-Man, Scott fought along with Captain America when the heroes confronted one another in the midst of a “Civil War”. At the end of that epic confrontation, Scott was sprung from prison and kept a close eye on by the FBI. Under house arrest there isn’t much that he can do, so he spends a lot of time with his daughter, Cassie, but when the fugitive Hank Pym and Hope Van Dyne seek his help, Scott may lead the way to the mysterious whereabouts of Hank’s missing wife and partner, Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer).

In Ant-Man and The Wasp Scott and Hope will team up once again under the directorial eye of Peyton Reed who proved uniquely capable at balancing the dramatic and comedic sides of the first feature which played like a classic caper film. The follow-up to the franchise doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but greatly enhances the mythology and solidly places Ant-Man and The Wasp rightfully in realm of the growing number of heroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, most of which recently met their fate at the hands of the Mad Titan Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War.

Ant-Man (Rudd) finds himself facing an enemy that’s out of phase with reality in “Ant-Man and The Wasp”.

Larger Size Action; Bigger Heart

The first Ant-Man is perhaps one of the best origin stories in the Marvel Studios pantheon; it was highly beneficial in helping to establish Scott Lang and the Ant-Man who had been largely eclipsed by the more iconic contemporaries including Thor, Hulk and the aforementioned Captain America. Even though the characters were both pioneering members among Earth’s Mightiest, both Ant-Man and The Wasp remained largely enigmatic second players. The success of Ant-Man changed all of that, and his appearance in Captain America: Civil War raised his profile.

In the premiere installment the villainous Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) plans on selling Pym’s tech to none other than Hydra, the clandestine organization that infiltrates S.H.I.E.L.D. — our heroes are able to stop Cross who adapts Pym’s suit advances it into the  “Yellowjacket”. Lang emerges a true contender nimbly battling his adversary and turning an army of ants into a formidable force to be reckoned with! Stoll’s Yellowjacket will undoubtedly emerge as one of the most frightening foes, and the pair’s epic confrontation in Cassie’s playroom one of the best yet!

The supporting cast returned to join Scott, Hope and Hank on their mission to rescue Janet from her exile to the Quantum Realm, but even as they race against time another threat the mysterious Ghost (the crazy fantastic Hannah John-Kamen) is also chasing after Pym’s technology. As a young girl, the Ghost was caught in an industry explosion that placed her “out of phase” rest the rest of the world. An associate of Hank’s, Bill Foster (Laurence Fishburne) promises to help, but it soon becomes evident that the government prefers to turn the Ghost into a secret agent.

One of the charms of the film is how heavily it relies on Marvel Comics mythology, and the elaboration of the backstory that sets up the covert missions of the original Ant-Man (Douglas) and The Wasp (Pfeiffer) with the introduction of Fishburne’s Bill Foster who also is best known to comic book fans as the size-changing hero Goliath. Rudd and Lilly have an onscreen chemistry that work on multiple levels, but establish both as inheritors of the next phase of Marvel’s cinematic narrative. No doubt that Pfeiffer’s Janet Van Dyne will also emerge as one of the best cast roles.

The final act of Ant-Man and The Wasp as our heroes work to save the day is a phenomenally choreographed piece with Hope’s Wasp fully integrating herself into her role as a hero and Lang still navigating the intricacies of the suit, but proving his heart is bigger than most, and that he is truly one of the Marvel Universe’s most larger than life superheroes! Let’s all hope that given what’s at stake after the conclusion of Infinity War and (SPOILER ALERT) the disappearance of most of the Ant-Man family, Scott emerges the hero we all know he is!

Ant-Man and The Wasp starring Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly and Michael Douglas directed by Peyton Reed is currently playing in theaters.