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Tim Blake Nelson In Talks To Play Mole Man In FANTASTIC FOUR Reboot

Posted on 01 May 2014 by William Gatevackes

nelson mole manMaybe the second time will be the charm?

The Hollywood Reporter’s Heat Vision blog is reporting that actor Tim Blake Nelson is in “final negotiations” to play a socially awkward scientist named Harvey Elder in Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four reboot. Longtime comic book fans might recognize the name, as it is the civilian identity of the comic book Fantastic Four’s villain, Mole Man, the bad guy the team faced on their very first adventure.

Mole Man is a scientist who was bullied for his looks, intellect and lack of social skills. He decided to leave the surface world and heads underground, where he discovers a subterranean race of yellow skinned creatures called Moloids. He crafts the creatures into an army which he uses to attack the surface world.

Sources say that while Harvey Elder will appear in the first film of the reboot, the Mole Man will not. The character is merely being set up as a bad guy for future FF films.

This scenario must sound familiar to Nelson as this is the second time he’s played a character meant to be a villain in future installments of a comic book film franchise. He also played Sam Stearns in The Incredible Hulk. Once again, comic fans know that name as the alter ego of the gamma ray powered Hulk villain, The Leader. In the film, the Stearns character was a scientist helping Bruce Banner to find a cure for his condition. However, a lab accident caused him to be infected with some of the Hulk’s blood and begin to change into a creature resembling his comic book doppelganger. Obviously, it was setting up Nelson as a potential villain for the franchise, but a sequel to The Incredible Hulk has not been forthcoming, and likely never will.

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Matt Damon As AQUAMAN: The Rumor That Will Not Die

Posted on 28 April 2014 by William Gatevackes

matt-damon-ben-affleck-01So did you hear the one about Matt Damon being pursued for the role of Aquaman in Batman vs Superman? Well, Matt Goldberg over at Collider didn’t, so he makes a big deal about it now.

This latest round started when Jeff Sneider over at The Wrap made a casual reference to the rumor that Matt Damon was being sought to play the King of Atlantis in Warners’ upcoming slate of DC’s films during his story on Zack Snyder being named director of the Justice League film. Goldberg obviously thinks Sneider buried the lead with this information, so he takes that small factoid and makes a full post out of it. Goldberg even marvels at the fact that such a rumor was able to be “kept under wraps” for such a long time.

Thing is, it hasn’t been under wraps. It has been out in the open for almost nine months. Who do I know this? Because I mentioned the rumor in an article here back on August 26, 2013. It was tacked on the “Bryan Cranston as Lex Luthor” rumor Cosmic Book News put forth three days before that. And we all know how that worked out, now don’t we?

But regardless, this rumor is old news. But since Goldberg didn’t even do a cursory Google search, he thought he had the scoop of the century. The sad thing is, page is probably getting a lot hits, because people who actually did hear the rumor back in August thought there might have been some movement in that area since there was a news on it. Imagine their disappointment when they actually read Goldberg’s article.

In the interest of not getting fans’ hopes up, let me say this. I’m more likely to play Aquaman than Matt Damon, and I don’t even know how to swim. It might not seem like it, but Damon is a major movie star. His films have grossed in total over $3 billion worldwide. He has one Oscar to his name, and two more nominations on top of that. Now, look at the other confirmed castings we have: a relative unknown as Wonder Woman, and a complete unknown as Cyborg. What does this tell you? That for everyone outside of Batman, Warners is buying low when it comes to casting. Granted, they are developing an Aquaman film, and Damon would add respect to what is considered a “lame” character in many circles, but it seems unlikely that Warners would be willing to pay the 43-year-old actor his $10 to $20 million salary when they can get younger for much cheaper and get a longer return on their investment.

And from Damon’s perspective, what’s in it for him besides working with his buddy Ben Affleck? He’s not going to get a big payday for his work, or any award nominations either. He doesn’t really need a franchise under his belt, and if he did, he still has the Bourne movies for that purpose. All signing up for Aquaman gives Damon is a big time drain on his schedule that he could have spent doing films he had more of a personal interest in.

So, let’s put this rumor back to bed, where it was before Goldberg woke it up.

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Simon Kinberg Hints At FOX’s Future Plans For Marvel License

Posted on 25 April 2014 by William Gatevackes

simon-kinbergWell, Simon Kinberg was a regular Chatty Cathy at WonderCon, wasn’t he?

His latest interview has just hit over at Collider and it deals with 20th Century Fox’s future plans for their Marvel licenses. And, once again, what he says might just raise the ire of a certain fan base.

First, Kinberg, who has been associated with Fox’s Marvel franchise in some form or another since 2003, explains that a regime change has enlightened the studio in regards to expanding it’s personal Marvel film universe.

Yeah, they definitely understand what they have now in a way that—having worked on the X-Men Fox movies since 2003, [it was a] different regime, really different culture inside the studio [back then], but outside the studio like you say, the juggernauts, the big movies of every summer are [now] superhero movies.  We’re gonna have three big superhero movies in the span of like a month and a half between Cap 2, Spider-Man, and us.  So Fox does understand that they are sitting on this massive universe with the X-Men, also with Fantastic Four obviously.  But they definitely have a sense of it and there’s a real interest and appetite for how to explore and expand that world into other movies, into spinoffs, into different time periods, the whole gamut.

This tells us nothing new. The only surprising thing is that it took them so long to realize that, and how the past regime could be so short sided.

With all these properties included under their agreement, could expansion into TV be in the future? Maybe.

We’re still in this place of figuring out what the future of the franchise will be, but when you look at S.H.I.E.L.D. to some extent and what Marvel is doing now with Daredevil and other shows on Netflix, it makes sense to tell some of these stories in TV partly because there’s just not enough screens to do all these characters, and also because the serialized format of comic books is better suited for TV.  Because that’s it, every week you come back to the same characters different story, and in comic books every week it’s the same characters, different story.

I think what [Fox is] seeing now is with the proliferation of new kinds of visual and special effects, there’s a way to make these stories that doesn’t cost $300 million every time you have to make a huge movie

It helps that Fox, like Disney (ABC) and Warner Brothers (CW), has a television network under its corporate umbrella that would at the very least provide a first look at any Marvel TV project. Personally, I think a Madrox/X-Factor TV show could possibly be done for that budget and would work very well in the medium.

And Deadpool fans who have been waiting a long time for an adult version of their favorite character to hit the big screen, might have gotten good and bed news from Kinberg, as the writer speaks about bring the character to the big screen:

Yeah, it makes sense to me.  Genuinely it’s early phases, early days, but if you’re gonna do a Deadpool movie, I think you’ve gotta do a hard-R, darker movie and he is the perfect character to do it with.

Again with the “darker”! I think Simon needs to hit the (comic) books again, or walk away from the “darker is better” school of comic book movies. Deadpool works best with an R-Rating based simply on the amount of people he kills (although, I believe you can get a just as good PG-13 film with the character as well), but the character is anything but dark. Not that I’m the biggest expert on Deadpool, but he’s essentially Bugs Bunny with a gun. If you’re looking at the right tone for a Deadpool film, imagine a version of Shoot ‘Em Up with a young Robin Williams in the Clive Owen role. If you plan on bringing a pensive, angst ridden Deadpool to the big screen, you be better served leaving that version on the shelf.

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Ray Fisher Cast As Cyborg In BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN

Posted on 24 April 2014 by William Gatevackes

rayfisherIt looks like the Justice League might be making an appearance in one form or another in Batman vs. Superman, as a member of the current comic book version of the team has been cast in the film.

Variety is reporting that New York theater actor Ray Fisher has been cast as the character Cyborg in the Zack Snyder sequel. Fisher is perhaps best known for playing Cassius Clay/Muhammad Ali the the New York Theater Workshop production of Fetch Clay, Make Man last year. He was also rumored to be in the running for a role in Star Wars, Episode VII.

Cyborg is a character who was created by Marv Wolfman and George Perez for their revamp of the Teen Titans in 1980. He is Victor Stone, who had most of his body replaced by his scientist father after suffering severe damage at the hands of an lab experiment gone wrong.

The character has become one of DC Comics’ most prominent African-American character over the years. He has appeared on television as far back as 1985,  appearing on screen in The Super Friends: Galactic Guardians Saturday morning cartoon. The character also made a number appearances on Smallville and as a team member of various Teen Titans animated programs.

As of 2011′s DC Comics reboot of their comic book line, Cyborg has become a founding member of the Justice League. So his inclusion in this film, in addition to a number of other rumored appearances by known DC Characters, lends credence to the rumor that the team will make their first appearance on screen in Batman vs. Superman. I’m sure we’ll find out for sure as more casting notices come out.

Batman vs. Superman is tentatively set to be released on May 6, 2016.

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EMPIRE MAGAZINE: Whedon On Ultron, Feige On ANT-MAN & Thanos

Posted on 24 April 2014 by William Gatevackes

empire-magazine-300-issue-directors-cutMarvel fans might have a big reason to pick up British film magazine Empire’s 300th issue. The anniversary issue gives us set reports from The Avengers: The Age of Ultron and speaks with Joss Whedon and Kevin Feige. And if the snippets released online are any indication, you might be getting a big bang for your buck.

First off, Joss Whedon talks Ultron as a character, and his approach to writing him:

I’m having a blast with Ultron. He’s not a creature of logic – he’s a robot who’s genuinely disturbed. We’re finding out what makes him menacing and at the same time endearing and funny and strange and unexpected, and everything a robot never is.

Endearing? Can’t wait to see that. Whedon also addresses the fact that some might thing the film is getting a bit too crowded with characters:

I fiercely dislike the idea of just throwing in more people for the sake of doing that. But last time I had all of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes versus one British character actor, and I needed more conflict.

The article states all the new characters–from Quicksilver to the Scarlet Witch to the Vision to Baron Strucker–will all have a plot-centric reason for being in the film.

The magazine also talked to Kevin Feige, and while that interview is not up on the magazine’s website, Latino Review passed on what it said.

Conventional wisdom states that the Iron Man films were the driving force behind the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Not so, says Feige. It was Ant-Man, which was first put into the works around the same time.

We changed, frankly some of the MCU to accommodate this version of Ant-Man. Knowing what we wanted to do with Edgar and with Ant-Man, going years and years back, helped to dictate what we did with the roster for Avengers the first time. It was a bit of both in terms of his idea for the Ant-Man story influencing the birth of the MCU in the early films leading up to Avengers.

This is fairly fascinating. It certainly shows the respect Marvel has for Wright and for even a minor character such as Ant-Man.

Feige also talked up Paul Rudd as the title character, all the while confirming that Rudd’s Scott Lang will have a similar film origin to his comic book incarnation.

Look at that origin of the petty crook who comes into contact with a suit and does his best to make good, and then look at someone like Paul Rudd, who can do slightly unsavoury things like break into people’s houses and still be charming and who you root for and whose redemption you will find satisfaction in.

Collider comes in with another tidbit from the interview–that the actor who will be playing Thanos has already been cast. Feige is holding back on naming the actor–saving the notification until San Diego Comic Con, I’ll bet–but Colider is running with the rumor that Vin Diesel will be voicing Groot and probably doing motion capture and voicing Thanos in Guardians of the Galaxy.

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Josh Trank Giving Us What Nobody Asked For… A “Realistic” And “Gritty” FANTASTIC FOUR

Posted on 21 April 2014 by Rich Drees

FantasticFour

For a while now, I have had a growing unease about Fox’s upcoming reboot of their Fantastic Four franchise and the latest word from screenwriter and producer Simon Kinberg is only stoking those concerns. Speaking at WonderCon this past weekend in Los Angeles, Kinberg revealed that the film was already in production in Baton Rogue before commenting and bit on what tone director Josh Trank was heading for with the film.

As [Bryan] Singer created with the original ‘X-Men’ movies, Christopher Nolan created with the ‘Dark Knight’ movies, Jon Favreau and Marvel created with the ‘Iron Man’ movies, all the best superhero franchises – Sam Raimi did it with with ‘Spider-Man’ – they create a tone and that is the thing that defines them… It’s not the stories that differentiate them from each other. Sometimes the characterizations aren’t that distinct. It’s that the tone is different and in some ways [that's because of the] lessons learned from the original ‘Fantastic Four’ movies, but also because of Josh Trank’s natural instinct for more realism, for more of a dramatic approach to things. This will definitely be a more realistic, a more gritty, grounded telling of the ‘Fantastic Four’ and no matter what people think about the cast.

(Emphasis mine on the last line.)

While I will agree that tone is very important – see the differences between Nolan’s Batman films and the 1960s television version for perhaps the most extreme examples of how tone can affect how one uses a character – I don’t think that a “gritty” tone is the one to go for with a property like the Fantastic Four. If anything it is the exact wrong tone to be aiming for.

I would hazard a guess and say that Fox executives saw the grosses for Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy of Batman films and wanted similar results, so they found someone, in this case Trank, who was interested in delivering just that. But a read of any decent run of the comic, especially if one goes back to the series’ earliest days in the 1960s, quickly shows that the series isn’t about gritty realism. At the core of the series was the sense of family between the four heroes that was always presented in a lighthearted manner. The back-and-forth between Ben Grimm and Johnny Storm is the superhero equivalent of brothers good-naturedly horsing around.

Admittedly, this seems to be a hard dynamic to get right. Fox’s previous two Fantastic Four films were at least aiming for it, but whether it was the screenplay, the direction from Tim Story or a combination of the two, the films never quite hit the mark. If anything, the officially unreleased 1994 Fantastic Four, for all its faults, was closer to capturing that feeling than anyone else has been able to so far. And it sounds to me that the record may remain unbroken for some time to come.

Via HitFlix.

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New GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY Clip Shows Us…Nothing New

Posted on 08 April 2014 by William Gatevackes

GuardiansoftheGalaxyLogoI have to admit, I have serious reservations about Guardians of the Galaxy, and the latest exclusive footage released to MTV doesn’t quell these fears.

As part of MTV Movie Awards Takeover: Captain America: The Winter Soldier, we were privy to a new GotG extended trailer(which is embedded below). What we got was essentially the trailer you already saw, but with the opening sequence of it expanded a little bit.

While MTV is trying to play the new footage up as being like Raiders of the Lost Ark (which others have parroted), outside of both protagonists stealing something off a pedestal, there isn’t much similarity between the two. The added footage gives us a look at Star-Lord’s boot rockets and mask (which were already on display during last year’s San Diego Comic Con), put on display during the character’s goofy escape from Korath (Djimon Hounsou). Then there is some footage of Star-Lord leaping across an alien landscape, then the rest of the trailer hits.

This is all well and good, but we still have no idea what the film is about. The GotG trailer ran before Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Joining it was the trailer for Lucy, the new Scarlett Johannson film which will arrive in theaters a week after GotG. That trailer told you enough about what was going on (ScarJo play an unwilling drug mule who gets superpowers when the experimental drug leaks into her system) that you can make a judgement about the film. The GotG trailer is basically exposition about the team members, a few random action scenes and explosions, and tells you nothing about the story. Is there a reason why Marvel is keeping it a secret?

Anyway, Guardians of the Galaxy opens up on August 1, 2014.

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Jim Starlin’s DREADSTAR Latest Comic Hero Set For The Big Screen

Posted on 05 April 2014 by William Gatevackes

dreadstarAs more and more big name comic book properties get snatched up by major studios, producers have to cast their nets wider to find comic properties to adapt. This is not always a bad thing.

The Hollywood Reporter states that Benderspink and Illuminati Entertainment have teamed up to bring Jim Starlin’s creator-owned property, Dreadstar, to the big screen. You might know Starlin’s name as the creator of Thanos, the baddie revealed in the credits scene of The Avengers. He is also the creator of several characters in Marvel’s August offering, Guardians of the Galaxy.

Dreadstar is a futuristic sci-fi epic that tells the story of Vanth Dreadstar, the lone survivor of the Milky Way Galaxy who finds himself caught in an interstellar conflict between two warring factions. The strip first appeared in Epic Illustrated in 1982, and ran in various forms in various titles for various publishers until 1991.

While no studio has been attached or script written as of yet, I consider this a good sign. There were a lot of great characters and concepts to come out of independent and/or creator-owned comics in the 1980s, many of which would make excellent films. I’d love to see films based on Mage, American Flagg, Nexus, or Badger, just to name a few.

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Review: CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER

Posted on 05 April 2014 by William Gatevackes

captainamericawintersoldierposterSteve Rogers (Chris Evans) is having a hard time adjusting to the modern world. Not socially. He has a list of pop culture touchstones, the Internet and a new friend in PSTD Counselor Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) to help him adjust. No, his problem is with his job. He has a hard time with S.H.I.E.L.D. and their proactive stance towards world security. Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) considers the organization’s latest initiative, a new brand of super Helicarriers that can identify terrorists DNA and exterminate them from miles away, to be the natural response to the changing world situation. Cap feels that it is just fear mongering.

Things come to a head after a mission to free a S.H.I.E.L.D. ship from pirates starts a chain reaction that causes Cap to be hunted by not only S.H.I.E.L.D., but also a new mercenary called the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), an operative that Cap finds awfully familiar.

Captain_America _The_Winter_Soldier_1After two stumbles with Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier marks not just a return to form for Marvel, but also a film that raises the bar for the studio. This is not just a great Marvel film, nor is it just a great comic book film, nor is it just a great sequel. Don’t get me wrong, it is all those things,  but it’s also a great film period. It is a wonderful mix of script, directing and acting to make a complete package.

There are so many good things I can say about this film that it’s hard to know where to begin. The movie is a tense political conspiracy thriller with many twists, turns and “everything is not what it seems” moments. It is a complex film, yet it is presented in a straightforward manner. It doesn’t make the viewer feel stupid, either by dumbing down the plot so it becomes too obvious or having the story be so obtuse that it is impossible to understand.

cap and widowAnd unlike Iron Man 3, which shoehorned Tony Stark into the role of a amateur detective, a role he was ill-fitted for and went totally against character, this film nails what makes the Captain America character great. Captain America gets knocked for being too much of a Boy Scout. But his ability to see only right and wrong where the rest of the world works in shades of grey is exactly what a film like this needs. And credit to Chris Evans to never letting this characterization seem hokey or corny. To be honest, this film made me respect Evans’ acting ability much more than I did going in. Pay attention to him during the nursing home scene (you’ll know which one when you see it). That’s a great piece of acting there.

Big kudos need to go to the Russo Brothers. Even though they are most known for directing TV comedies, they have an innate talent for directing films of this sort. While the film runs two hours and 16 minutes, it never feels that long. The film’s pacing is excellent. It just breezes by. But that’s not to say that the film feels rushed. There’s a lot of characters, concepts and plot elements introduced, and all all are allowed to blossom into full development at their own pace. Unlike Thor: The Dark World, the villains here are not one note. Their villainy is totally reprehensible yet totally logical. It’s now obvious to see why Marvel signed the duo up so early to direct the next sequel.

wintersoldier with shield - CopyI feel I have to comment on the action scenes. Often, action scenes feel like they are presented  after a spate of exposition to keep audiences awake. Here, the action is stitched seamlessly into the narrative. And the action scenes are expertly choreographed and completely inventive. It’s refreshing to see this in a film.

cap and alexCaptain America: The Winter Soldier also is a great follow up to Captain America: The First Avenger and fits in better with the shared Marvel Cinematic Universe than the last two MCU films. Even though the tone and style of the films are radically different, this film is a definite follow up to the first film in the best way possible. And while I sat through Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World wondering why more of the other heroes stopped by to help out, I didn’t get that feeling here. Perhaps this is because efforts were made, mostly through creative namedropping, to let us know that Tony Stark and Bruce Banner still exist. Another reason is that the action is rather compartmentalized and took place over a rather short period of time.

If you are fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, then this film is a must see. Not just because it is good, but because it is a major game changer for the Marvel films from here on out (and if you watch Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., you might want to let the episodes pile up in your DVR until you catch this film ). However, if you are the person who has to drag a non-comic loving friend or loved one to these types of film, this might be a film they will like on their own terms. It’s that good.

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New Releases: April 4, 2014

Posted on 03 April 2014 by William Gatevackes

captainamericawintersoldierposter1. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Disney, 3,938 Theaters, 136 Minutes, Rated PG-13): After what I thought were disappointing efforts in Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World, I felt that chinks in Marvel’s cinematic armor were beginning to show. That led me to have serious doubts about this film. Cap is my second favorite Marvel character, and to have his next movie be directed by a pair of brothers with little big screen or action movie experience didn’t help matters any.

But the advance buzz for the film has been overwhelmingly positive. The film has an 89% positive rating at Rotten Tomatoes, rarefied air for comic book film. And people have been saying that the film is the best Marvel film to date.

So, yeah, my doubts have been replaced by a giddy, childlike anticipation for the film. I’ll be seeing the first showing tomorrow. FilmBuffOnline Head Honcho Rich Drees has already seen the film, and I’m sure his thoughts will be up on the site soon. And, if Rich lets me, my thoughts will be published not long after.

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