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Never let it be said that Disney and Marvel Studios don’t know their market. To help promote the release this week of Avengers: Age of Ultron in Italy, they enlist a quartet of soccer stars.
For the promo spot Juventus Football Club’s Andrea Pirlo gets a boost from some custom Stark technology, Arturo Vidal sports an eye patch (and, apparently, moves) like Nick Fury, and Claudio Marchisio slings Captain America’s shield to block Giorgio Chiellini’s kick.
Now that we’ve all giddily watched the latest trailer for Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, we can all agree it needed more Spider-Man. Now that Marvel Studios is free to use the web-head in its ever-expanding cinematic universe, it’s kind of all you want to see, right?
Spider-Man is unique in that, despite not having the best box-office track record recently, he’s the most profitable superhero in the world. Slap his face on a lunchbox orT-shirt and it will move more cash than Batman, and that’s saying a lot. There’s something universal about the Spider-Man story (if you ignore the Spider-Totem arc — and I do); he’s not a billionaire, gifted with an Übermensch’s physique, or born into greatness. He’s just a guy who took the circumstances life gave him and set out to make a better world. He’s one of the few heroes with a full face mask that hides every element of his identity. His world is our world, in that he lives in New York City and swings by places we recognize.
And there’s nothing inherently race-specific about his story.
Last week, Robert Downey Jr. simultaneously revealed the Iron Man-themed poster for Avengers: Age of Ultron and promised a “big announcement” arriving eight days later.
While the aforementioned announcement isn’t slated to arrive until Thursday, Downey took to social media again today to promote his and Marvel Studios’ involvement in a promotion for Julia’s House, a children’s hospice charity.
Unwilling to wait for Spider-Man to appear on screen alongside Earth’s Mightiest Mortals, ScreenCrush and mashup editor Sleepy Skunk have integrated the wall-crawler into the epic Battle of New York from 2012’s The Avengers. It’s impressively seamless, from the back and forth between Black Widow and Spidey to the bus rescue to the Chrysler Building sequence.
Of course, the next time we see Spider-Man on the big screen, he (alas) won’t be played by Andrew Garfield …
Grumblings that Marvel alters its comics to more closely resemble their on-screen depictions date back to at least 2001, when Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely put the X-Men in leather.
With the founding of Marvel Studios and the rise of the tightly knit Marvel Cinematic Universe, however, there are increasing complaints about continuity changes perceived to be in service to corporate synergy, most recently in the parentage of Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch.
But in a wide-ranging interview with ICv2.com, Marvel Publisher Dan Buckley dismisses any assertion there’s a conscious effort to align continuity — “I think people like to jump to conclusions” — while acknowledging that of course the films are going to have some influence on creators.
“We all remember picking up our X-Men books in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s,” he said. “The Professor would go in to put Cerebro on and he’d wear a helmet in a room, and whatever room that was and whatever it looked like was up to the artist du jour. But that room now, after the X-Men movie when he rolled into that big open area with the metallic globe that he is sitting inside of with the ramp, and then he puts the helmet on, you go into a Marvel comic now and that’s what that room looks like. The movie defined the mass market perception of what Cerebro looks like. The comics guys are looking at it and thinking, ‘That’s pretty cool, I think I’ll do that!’ So, to say that one medium does not influence the other a great deal would be lying.
Many fans will likely already be familiar with YouTube user Alex Luthor — he put together the epic Marvel Vs. DC movie trailer that cleverly spliced together footage from a number of sources to make it look like the two Cinematic Universes were doing battle. His latest effort is a fan-made trailer for the upcoming Inhumans film that knits together footage of Vin Diesel, Eva Green and “Avengers: Age of Ultron” stars Elizabeth Olsen and Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, respectively.
Some of the excitement about seeing Captain Marvel, Black Panther and Doctor Strange among Marvel Studios’ Phase 3 plans was tempered in some circles by disappointment over the absence of a Black Widow solo film. That feeling was given voice in a #BlackWidowMovie Twitter campaign, which received support from Nathan Edmondson, writer of Marvel’s Black Widow comic.
However, Edmondson didn’t stop at a mere retweet; instead, he “whipped this up”: the first six pages of a hypothetical Black Widow screenplay. It’s a sequence that’s sure to please fans of the Marvel super-spy (and, judging from Twitter reaction, already has).
Appearing on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Paul Reubens not only confirmed a new Pee-wee Herman movie, he stepped into character to provide a new voice track for Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer — providing the Marvel sequel with a little extra … gravitas.
If the Blu-ray release doesn’t include an option that allows viewers to choose between James Spader and Reubens as the voice of Ultron, then somebody at the studio as asleep at the wheel.
Confession time: I haven’t seen the Season 2 premiere of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. yet. Don’t get me wrong, I want to, but things have been busy here, and when I do tune in (thanks, Hulu Plus!) I want to give it my full attention. TV has become very serious in recent years, and the best stuff tends to require the viewer to invest some brain power into the shows.
It’s a good thing, but it can get a little exhausting. And if you’re a Marvel fan, there’s a lot to keep track of in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Characters, locations, devices and plotlines might trigger some stored bit of trivia in your brain and lead to a different appreciation for the approach.
Here at The Fifth Color, I try to keep abreast of all the Marvel comics news I can, and it’s requiring me to track more and more movie rumors and casting decisions — which is weird because The Fifth Color began as a way to relate to comics and how we readers view the stories. But comics are becoming more than just you and the pages in your hand; there’s a now a strong media influence on how we see comics. Even something as simple as a mobile game can draw you into a comic shop and change how you see the books on the shelves. No joke, I had a customer show me a comic cover he had unlocked on a Marvel mobile game and ask me if we had that book in stock. He wanted to find out what it was about. That’s good marketing.
If your parents ever complained that all of those Spider-Man and X-Men comics would interfere with your school work, show them this: This spring the University of Baltimore will offer a course examining modern culture through the lens of Marvel’s films, television series and comic books.
Thought to be the first class of its kind in the United States, “Media Genres: Media Marvels” will not only explore the intricate plotlines, characters and backstories that form the Marvel Cinematic Universe but also try to understand our fixation with superheroes and fictional global threats. Students will also study Joseph Campbell’s monomyth of the “hero’s journey.”
Walt Disney Animation has premiered an adorable two-minute clip from Big Hero 6 that highlights the relationship between young Hiro and his robot Baymax, and has me looking forward to the Nov. 7 release of the film.
Even from the limited glimpses we’ve gotten of them, the characters are already appealing. I sure would be down for reading more stories about them. However, Marvel has no plans to release any comic books in conjunction with the premiere of Big Hero 6 — no reprints of the original stories that inspired from the movie, no new comics … nothing.
As the first Disney animated movie to take advantage of the House of Mouse’s $4 billion purchase of the House of Ideas, you’d think this would be pretty exciting for Marvel, and something it would want to promote. And yet, Marvel is surprisingly quiet about Big Hero 6.
There are no plans to reprint the 1998 original Sunfire & Big Hero 6 miniseries by Scott Lobdell and Gus Vazquez, or the 2006 follow-up Big Hero 6 by Chris Claremont and David Nakayama . Asked about that last week by Comic Book Resources, Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso explained, “The characters and stories that have appeared in our comics are very different from what they are in the film. Releasing material that would be viewed as movie tie-in product would be a disservice to filmgoers. We wanted the Disney folks to be able to create their own unique style and story, unencumbered by those older stories.”
Once again, I found myself sitting in a theater at midnight, watching credits roll by and wondering “How on Earth did they get away with this?”
Marvel movies, for all intents and purposes, are incredibly risky. Where as the Distinguished Competition fears treading outside its bankable Christopher Nolan sphere on the big screen, Marvel Studios continues to push the boundaries of what an audience will by into.
Let’s put it another way: There was one moment where I realized I was sitting in a packed theater as people cheered for a prison riot started by a raccoon and a tree. Frames of this movie, taken out of context, feel like I made them up. The plot is purely run on emotion rather than anything logical or realistic. At times, even the emotional context is mocked by characters on the screen. Just look at the soundtrack! It’s like an hour’s worth of “-Billy’s Super Sounds of the 70’s.”
And yet, for all this absurdity, it works. It works really well.
Marvel keeps doing this, though. It keeps bucking tradition and taking chances that are paying off with big bucks at the box office. Iron Man was a movie about a hero few people knew about and rested entirely on the strength of the lead actors, and it created a franchise. Thor looked so unique and treated its source material like Shakespeare, and audiences cried out for another. Captain America: The First Avenger told possibly the most honest and altruistic hero story ever put to screen. Marvel’s The Avengers brought all the other movies together for a complete cinematic universe.
With Guardians of the Galaxy, audiences will be taken back in time.
WARNING: No real spoilers, as what I’m mentioning was in the trailer for a half-second. But if you wish to remain pure and unsullied, please do yourself a favor and go see Guardians of the Galaxy and enjoy the ride. Everyone else, read on!
Comic-Con International attendees who are lucky — or devoted — enough to make it into Hall H on Saturday for the Marvel Studios presentation will walk out with a limited-edition Guardians of the Galaxy mini-poster created by Matt Needle of Poster Posse fame. (The British graphic designer also produced two nice-looking prints for Poster Posse’s 75th-anniversary tribute to Batman.)
The past few weeks have given us drips and drabs of drama regarding two movies on Marvel’s amazing slate of cinematic wonders: Ant-Man lost long-attached director Edgar Wright and hunted down a new one (successfully, I might add; Peyton Reed’s indie-comedy cred is solid with Mr. Show and Upright Citizens Brigade, plus Down With Love is a personal favorite), and Doctor Strange now has Scott Derrickson directing and a slew of casting rumors. It’s made my Twitter feed abuzz with opinions and fancasts and denouncements of studio interference in the creative efforts of the auteur. It seems everyone wants to talk about the next Marvel breakthrough hit.
But not the comics. God forbid we ever talk about the comics. Ant-Man and Doctor Strange are absent from the shelves, outside of cameos in Original Sin, a canceled gig on the FF for Scott Lang and … well, something odd going on with Doctor Strange in New Avengers. As I scroll through Tumblr and Twitter demands about how Doctor Strange and Ant-Man should be presented, no one seems all that keen on picking up a comic with either character in a starring role. When contradicting someone’s fancast, I offered my own choice for Doctor Strange as a Ming Doyle sketch, and was told that “drawings are not good actors.” Oh, man, I hope they were joking …
Samsung on Thursday announced a partnership with Marvel designed to showcase the graphic capabilities of its new Galaxy Tab S tablets, a direct challenger to the Apple iPad.
With the July release of the Galaxy Tab S, users will receive a free three-month subscription to Marvel Unlimited, the digital service that features more than 13,000 issues from the publisher’s catalog. Over the next year, tablet owners will also receive early peeks at Marvel Studios films, including The Avengers: Age of Ultron, as well as access to Marvel One-Shots and other content.
The agreement also calls for “the world of Samsung Mobile” to be seamlessly integrated into the Marvel Universe, both on the screen and on the page, which translates as product placement in films and comic books. That’s of course nothing new for movies — indeed, Marvel’s The Avengers was used to debut the new Acura supercar — but it’s not seen quite as often in comics. That said, Marvel has inserted (if not exactly “seamlessly integrated’) sponsored logos into its pages, through in-story signs, billboards and T-shirts.