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Ahead of D23 Expo kickoff, Saturday tickets sell out

"Big Hero 6" display at D23 Expo (courtesy of ComingSoon)

“Big Hero 6″ display at D23 Expo (courtesy of ComingSoon)

The doors open in just an hour on the D23 Expo, the official Disney fan gathering held through Sunday in Anaheim, California. Tickets for Saturday are sold out.

While much of the event, of course, caters to Disney devotees — theme-park fans, serious collectors and cinephiles alike — we should expect a decent amount of news that reaches beyond the Magic Kingdom. For instance, today there’s a presentation featuring many of the voice actors from Marvel’s animated television series, and a signing with the producer and director of Big Hero 6, Walt Disney Animation’s first adaptation of a Marvel comic. That movie, based on the characters created by Steven T. Seagle and Duncan Rouleau, is getting a promotional push at the event, which features a Big Hero 6 display (above, courtesy of ComingSoon).

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Tom Hiddleston acts out ‘Thor 2′ plot — with action figures


As if his surprise appearance at Marvel Studios’ Hall H presentation on Saturday — dressed as the god of mischief, no less — weren’t enough to forever endear him to fans, actor Tom Hiddleston also gleefully acted out the plot of the upcoming Thor: The Dark World at Comic-Con International using Loki and Thor action figures.

You can watch the video below. But fair warning: There may be spoilers. The new trailer for director Alan Taylor’s Thor: The Dark World debuts Aug. 7.

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Grumpy Old Fan | In one adventure together

No, I am not checking to see if "Lois sandwich" is in the Urban Dictionary.

No, I am not checking to see if “Lois sandwich” is in the Urban Dictionary

This post concerns a movie that (if all goes as planned) won’t start filming until next year, and won’t be in theaters until 2015. I know next to nothing about it past the basic premise, a handful of cast members and a few educated guesses. Nevertheless, once I read the Superman/Batman movie announcement, two words kept popping into my head:

Black Widow.

See, I can’t help but think that in the sequel to Man of Steel, the Darknight Detective may get equal billing, but will necessarily have a subordinate role. This is not perfectly analogous to introducing Scarlett Johannson’s super-spy in Iron Man 2 — for one thing, that film wasn’t called Iron Man and Black Widow — but her role there was defined largely by the plot. Batman’s role in the as-yet-untitled sequel seems likely to have similar restrictions.

Indeed, we know some broad restrictions already: Batman won’t be played by Christian Bale, and the Christopher Nolan-directed trilogy doesn’t take place in the same “cinematic universe” as Man of Steel and this (prospective) new set of DC-superhero movies. That probably also means no Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, or Joseph Gordon-Levitt in S/B.

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Doctor Strange, Irvine Welsh is calling …

irvine welsh2

As Marvel Studios builds toward its Phase Three plans, which we already know include a Doctor Strange movie, we can expect the comics division to launch numerous projects starring the often neglected, and frequently mistreated, Master of the Mystic Arts. When it comes time for editors to recruit writers for one of those — say, a miniseries or original graphic novel — they may want to give novelist Irvine Welsh a call.

In a new interview with our sibling blog Spinoff Online, the acclaimed author of Trainspotting and Filth discusses comic books at length, and reveals that if he were given the chance to tackle a DC Comics or Marvel hero, he would “would do a Grant Morrison and deconstruct the character.” And who would he like that character to be?

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Quote of the Day | Marvel Studios in the age of the Internet

A photo leaked this week of Anthony Mackie as the Falcon on the set of "Captain America: The Winter Soldier"

A photo leaked this week of Anthony Mackie as the Falcon on the set of “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”

“… Since X-Men 1, frankly, where a photo was stolen off a wardrobe thing and it was the very first look of Hugh Jackman in costume as him under fluorescents … it looked awful. It was just like, ‘Oh, this is the world we are living in. This is the reality.’ So we’ve always just accepted it. Spy pictures will leak and we used to try to run ahead and put out a cool picture first and now if we have a cool picture we will put it out, but if we don’t, that’s OK. Misinformation … You know, it gets a little annoying when somebody is like, ‘This is what’s happening! This is what Kevin Feige is doing!’ It’s annoying when they are right and it’s equally annoying when they are wrong, because everybody passes it. ‘Planet Hulk is the next thing’ and everybody talks about it and you’re just like “OK, but you’ll be disappointed if you’re expecting it.’”

– Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige, discussing how the company deals with leaks and rumors

Comics-based movies: Breaking ‘the book was better’ rule


“Demon in a Bottle” will probably be better since well, you know…

Are you getting excited? New teasers and trailers are being released almost every day now. The countdown to Summer Movie Season is officially on, and the big blockbusters adapting comics are looking promising. Iron Man 3 has an armada of armors flying around; can’t really go wrong there. The Wolverine has ninjas as far as the eye can see. And the bearded and brooding Man of Steel might even end up being good. Throw in a little Kick-Ass 2 and RED 2, sprinkle with R.I.P.D. and 300: Rise of an Empire, and top it off with 2 Guns, and you’ve got yourself one fun summer.

While we still get clunkers, the ratio of good to suck has definitely improved. It used to be that the old chestnut response to a movie adapted from a novel could be more often than not applied to movies adapted from comics: The book was better. And it’s often still true. But there are times when the movies do it better than comics, and while that’s great for the filmmakers and audiences, in a way it’s an indictment on the comics-makers.

Comics offer more boundless creativity than almost any medium. With comics, there’s no studio executive, no creation-by-committee made up of shareholders and board members with less experience creating and telling stories than their companies’ interns. It’s why Tony Stark being an alcoholic doesn’t fly with Disney and was removed from Iron Man 3. Comics can still include collaboration and compromise but they can just as easily be the result of a single voice. Even with the most heavy-handed editorially mandated comics, they’re still created by a fraction of people needed to make a Hollywood movie. Comics are generally more spontaneous, imaginative and clever than most major studio movies. But sometimes, Hollywood gets the jump on comics.

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Olly Moss creates wrap posters for ‘Thor: The Dark World’


Renowned movie poster designer Olly Moss, who last year illustrated a variant cover for DC’s Before Watchmen: Moloch #2, was hired by Marvel Studios to create a wrap poster for Thor: The Dark World. As the name suggests, the print is given to the cast and crew to commemorate the completion of filming (Paolo Rivera was commissioned to create the one for Captain America: The First Avenger).

As you might expect, what Moss came up with is stunning, with each of the principal cast members receiving posters featuring their characters. Although it’s a little tough to tell, the above images appear to show Tom Hiddleston’s Loki, Anthony Hopkins’ Odin and Jaimie Alexander’s Sif Idris Elba’s Heimdall. Chris Hemsworth’s Thor can be seen below. The personalized nature is a nice touch, but the best thing about the posters is that the teleportation plume — I don’t know, is that what we call it? — takes the shape of Thor’s hammer.

OK, that may not be the best part, as Moss says,”And they paid me with a real Mjolnir!” You can see it for yourself on his blog.

The first trailer for Thor: The Dark World arrived overnight. The film opens Nov. 8.

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Check out Jock’s IMAX poster for ‘Iron Man 3′


Marvel Studios has unveiled a beautiful IMAX poster created by Jock for director Shane Black’s Iron Man 3, which arrives in theaters May 3, just ahead of Free Comic Book Day. It’s the last of the exclusive “12:01″ series, given to attendees of midnight showings of the studio’s films.

Jock previously created limited-edition Mondo posters for Dredd 3D, The Raid: Redemption and The Dark Knight Rises.

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James Gunn apologizes for ‘poorly worded and offensive’ comments

James Gunn

Faced with growing criticism, Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn has apologized for insulting comments he made about women, gays and lesbians in a nearly two-year-old blog post, characterizing his remarks as “poorly worded and offensive to many.”

The statement, released last night by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and re-posted on Gunn’s Facebook page, followed outreach from the organization, condemnation by the Human Rights Campaign — “James Gunn’s blog post is offensive not just to LGBT people and women but rather to anyone with even the slightest sense of decency” — and online outrage, all stemming from a deleted February 2011 post on the filmmaker’s website.

Newly unearthed via Google Cache, the results of a “Superheroes You Most Want to Have Sex With” poll include commentary in which Gunn refers to Gambit as “this Cajun fruit,” calls teenage mother Stephanie Brown “easy,” admits wanting “to anally do” Kitty Pryde, and suggests Tony Stark could “turn” the lesbian Batwoman.

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Guardians of the Galaxy director under fire for superhero-sex article

James Gunn

Even as the casting search gears up for Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, a push has begun online to convince the studio to fire director James Gunn over objections to a nearly two-year-old blog post that many view as misogynistic and homophobic. (Note: This post contains graphic language.)

The Feb. 17, 2011 post containing the results of a “Superheroes You Most Want to Have Sex With” poll, complete with Gunn’s commentary, was deleted at some point from the filmmaker’s website but the cached version resurfaced earlier this week on Tumblr before receiving further exposure Wednesday on The Mary Sue. Why Gunn’s post was only recently unearthed is a bit of a mystery (he was confirmed to direct Guardians of the Galaxy more than two months ago).

Gunn’s superhero sex poll includes male and female characters — 50 in all — ranging from Wonder Woman and Superman to Spider-Man and Ms. Marvel. While The Mary Sue notes “there’s nothing wrong about running a poll for the most sex-able superhero on your site,” the complaints arise over some of the filmmaker’s accompanying commentary.

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Quote of the Day | Marvel Bullpen as marketing tool

… to extol the virtues of these creators would seem to have the potential to drive people to more consumption of Marvel product. No, it’s not 1.5 billion dollars in movie tickets, but I know I’ve bought Disney-related material presented to me via the idea of the Nine Old Men; I don’t know why Marvel Bullpen isn’t a similar organizing principle for that company.

Tom Spurgeon, explaining why it’s weird that Marvel Studios doesn’t make a bigger deal about the creators of its characters.

It makes sense, right? I don’t know when the last Visionaries collection came out, but at one point Marvel saw potential in marketing comics based on the names of legendary creators. Think how much better those collections could sell if the names were known by the general public. Seems like an opportunity for corporate synergy that they’re just walking away from for no reason that’s been explained very well.

(Bullpen photos via The Kirby Museum)


Marvel Studios to move closer to Disney, Marvel Animation

Marvel Studios is moving from Manhattan Beach, California, its home for the past four years, to new offices in Glendale, just minutes from Walt Disney Studios’ Burbank lot. Marvel Animation opened its studio in Glendale earlier this year.

Variety reports the relocation, expected to be completed by the spring, will affect as many as 150 employees. The exact location of the new building hasn’t been made public.

Marvel Studios moved its executive and production offices from Beverly Hills to Raleigh Studios Manhattan Beach in 2008 (before Marvel’s purchase by Disney), becoming the largest tenant at the 23-acre facility. There it filmed parts of Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger and The Avengers.

The trade paper notes that the loss of Marvel won’t hurt Raleigh too much, however, as James Cameron’s production company has signed a five-year deal to film the next two Avatar sequels there.

Briefcase company sues Marvel over The Avengers box set packaging

Marvel Studios' "Marvel Cinematic Universe: Phase One — Avengers Assembled" limited-edition box set

It turns out a planetary invasion by Loki and his Chitauri allies was only the beginning of Nick Fury’s problems.

Now a German manufacturer of luxury travel briefcases is suing Marvel and Disney’s Buena Vista Home Entertainment over the attaché case used by the S.H.I.E.L.D. director in the billion-dollar blockbuster The Avengers.

Hollywood, Esq. reports that Rimowa GmbH, which provided the studio with an aluminum Topas attaché case for Samuel L. Jackson to carry in the film, has filed a lawsuit in federal court in California claiming that Marvel damaged the company’s trademark by then manufacturing replicas for the “Marvel Cinematic Universe: Phase One — Avengers Assembled” limited-edition box set. Arriving Sept. 25, the collection comes “complete with glowing Tesseract” and an “exclusive replica of Nick Fury’s iconic briefcase.”

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Marvel investigates Guardians of the Galaxy, Iron Man 3 leaks

Marvel Studios has launched an investigation into a leak that resulted in its major Comic-Con International announcement, the development of a Guardians of the Galaxy movie, being revealed two weeks before the convention began.

Latino Review, the movie website that broke the story on June 28, has posted an email from an unnamed “security consultant” requesting information about “the dissemination of confidential, non-public information concerning Iron Man 3 and Guardians of the Galaxy.” Although the website has since redacted his name, The Hollywood Reporter identifies the “consultant” as Robert Grosser, vice president of loss prevention for Marvel Enterprises.

“I do not want to see you or anyone else get into trouble nor do I want to see anyone’s career be tarnished because of this,” the email states. “However, I am very confident that through your efforts and mine, we will be able to work through this together. I personally feel that you did not have any malicious intent when you posted your spoilers on the fanboy website. Like many fans out there, you just wanted to be the first one to post something on the internet. I get it, however the Iron Man 3 and Guardians of the Galaxy information was confidential and you did not have Marvel’s consent to post it. That was illegal!

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Stan Lee questioned on lack of Jack Kirby credit on Avengers film

Stan Lee

With Marvel’s The Avengers arriving amid the controversy surrounding DC Comics’ Watchmen prequels and a new development in the prolonged battle over the rights to Superman, it was probably only a matter of time before Stan Lee was cornered about the apparent lack of film credit for his longtime collaborator Jack Kirby.

During an interview to promote The Avengers, as well as the documentary With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story, Moviefone asked the legendary writer and editor about concerns — more like complaints, actually — that his co-creator’s name appears nowhere on the $220 million movie. Lee seemed genuinely perplexed, replying, “I don’t know how to answer that because in what way would his name appear?” before offering that “it’s mentioned in every comic book; it says ‘By Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.’”

Pressed, Lee said, “you’re talking to the wrong guy because I have nothing to do with the credits on the movies. I’m credited as one of the executive producers because that’s in my contract. But Jack was not an executive producer. So I don’t know what he’d be credited as. Again I know nothing about that, I have nothing to do with the movie’s credits. You’d have to talk to whoever is the producer of the movie.”

It’s probably not a fair question to ask of Lee. While he’s made cameo appearances in nearly every film based on his Marvel co-creations since 2000′s X-Men, and is listed as an executive producer, that credit was negotiated years ago by Lee’s lawyers (along with a much more tangible percentage of profits). And despite his chairman emeritus title and lifetime salary, he doesn’t wield any actual power at the company.

Still, fair or not, the question once again highlights the issue that Lee was in a position to make deals for credits and profit shares, while Kirby never came close. It’s undoubtedly an uncomfortable matter for Lee, made clear by his attempt to pivot away from the question. “Is there anything you want to ask me about the documentary,” he told Moviefone, “because I thought that’s what I was supposed to be talking about.”

UPDATE: According to some who have seen The Avengers, Kirby’s name does appear, in the end credits.

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