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Sif journeys to Midgard’s Children’s Hospital Los Angeles

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Thor: The Dark World actress Jaimie Alexander donned her Sif garments again recently on a trip to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, spending an afternoon visiting with young patients. Marvel.com has posted a massive photo gallery of Alexander as Sif with many patients and staff, who were able to pose with the Asgardian warrior and in some cases, even hold her weapons. The actress also gave out signed Thor DVDs and posters.

Check out the highlights of Alexander’s trip to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles below.

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The Fifth Color | Weight of ‘Dark World’ rests on Thor’s shoulders

an epic poster for an epic movie

Looking back, the first Thor movie was a marvel, no pun intended. It was the first of the Marvel Studios films not to have Iron Man in it at all, plus it was the first major step toward what we would come to know as the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The Incredible Hulk was really its own little world, with a little Stark tacked on at the end to hint at the idea that was still forming. By the time Thor came out, the path toward a full fledged Avengers movie was on the horizon and Thor was our introduction to the next Earth’s Mightiest Hero.

Although the character is difficult to translate, Thor showed modern movie audiences a near-perfect tale of a god humbled, heroic triumph and the kick-ass design of a Jack Kirby-inspired Asgard. There was a flexibility of tone and style that showed us the fantastic was possible too in the Marvel world of science and technology; Thor even explains to Jane Foster and the audience very clearly that science and fantasy aren’t that far apart, sort of justifying the god’s association with more science-based characters. The movie had an amazing balance between so many different themes, it’s still my favorite Marvel movie yet.

Sequels to such great films can be incredibly difficult. On one hand, they can often flesh out the elements we liked from the original while trimming a bit of the fat (see Star Trek II vs. Star Trek: The Motion Picture). The second film can strike directly to the heart of the matter, rather than spend time telling audiences where they are and why they should care about the people on screen. On the other hand, reference can equal preference, and when the second movie is nothing like the first, it can fall flat if it’s not what we were expecting. Not everyone can return for the second movie, be they actors, directors or designers, so cracks can form if there’s not a consistency from one installment to the next. Others can complain if the next movie relies too heavily on the first, “continuity porn” showing up on angry Internet forums or from more casual movie-going folk. It’s a lot of concern to carry with you into a sequel.

The good news is that the god of thunder bears this weight heroically in Thor: the Dark Work. I can’t say he juggles it all effortlessly, I can’t say it doesn’t seem a little awkward and uneven at times, but all the troubles are carried in an impressive spectacle. Want to know more? Read on!

WARNING: No spoilers. If you’ve seen the trailer, you’ve seen any plot details that I might discuss, so click with confidence!

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Become an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. with customized badge at NYCC

SHIELD Badge & IDeFX Inc. will offer a replica of Agent Phil Coulson’s S.H.I.E.L.D. badge as a New York Comic Con 2013 exclusive. However, fans can deputize themselves into S.H.I.E.L.D. by preordering the badge on Sept. 17 at 9 a.m. Pacific/noon Eastern from efxcollectibles.com. Those that preorder can provide a photo, name and birth date to add an extra layer of personalization to the included ID card, as opposed to just getting Phil Coulson’s. Badges must be picked up on site at New York Comic Con (Oct. 10-13).

According to eFX, S.H.I.E.L.D. badges are made from the “original master molds of the screen-used badge,” while the ID card is made from the original digital files. The personalized ID cards are only available through pre-order. Each badge is $50 and part of a 1,500-unit run.

Beyond inducting yourself into S.H.I.E.L.D., personalized ID cards also present an ample opportunity for cosplayers to put their favorite obscure character into the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s peacekeeping force. Personally, I can’t wait to see an ID badge with Amadeus Cho’s name and photo on it.

Check out stunning concept art for ‘Iron Man 3′

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Ahead of the arrival of Iron Man 3 on Blu-ray and DVD, concept artist Phil Saunders (Iron Man, The Avengers) has unveiled some of his stunning designs for the Marvel Studios film. Along with some armors audiences never saw on screen, Saunders revealed an early take on one of the Extremis soldiers — and a behind-the-scenes tidbit:

In early versions of the script Extremis was based on Nanotechnology like in the comic book, and would have constructed some sort of internal armor structure to grant the enhanced soldiers super-strength and near-invulnerability. thematically they would have been a reflection of Tony Stark, wearing their “suits” internally rather than externally. Makeup would have subtly suggested that structure by deforming their skin in a mechanical way.

Check out some of the images below, and plenty more here.

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Simon Pegg really isn’t Ant-Man, he’s just touring Marvel offices

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Actor Simon Pegg ignited a firestorm last week when he posted photos of a recent visit to Marvel’s New York City offices, including one shot of himself posing in front of a mural and pointing to an image of Ant-Man. Could it mean he’ll re-team with frequent collaborator and good friend Edgar Wright for the long-brewing Marvel Studios film? No, Pegg was just having a little fun with fans.

So what was he doing in the Marvel offices? Apparently, he was just taking a tour, and recording a video to promote his new film The World’s End (opening Friday). Unless … the above image is Pegg’s way of telling us he’ll be replacing Chris Hemsworth in Avengers: Age of Ultron

See more photos from his visit at Marvel.com.

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Thor and Asgard are arriving in Disneyland this fall

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In a rather vague announcement, Disney revealed today that it will bring more of the Marvel Universe to its theme parks this fall, when Disneyland guests will have a chance to visit Asgard and “come face-to-face” with Thor himself.

It’s obvious the attraction is designed to coincide with the Nov. 8 release of Marvel Studios’ Thor: The Dark World, but beyond that, no details have been made public. More information is promised next month on the Disney Parks Blog.

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What you missed at D23: Loki sang ‘Bare Necessities’

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Among the announcements that came out of the D23 Expo was the casting of Tom Hiddleston alongside Christina Hendricks in DisneyToon Studios The Pirate Fairy, in which the Thor: The Dark World actor voices Cabin Boy James, who’ll later be legendary as Captain Hook. Unless you have “Hiddleston” as a Google alert, or have children who religiously watch the Tinker Bell direct-to-DVD animated movies, that relatively minor news likely escaped your attention.

But what you can’t miss is video of a giddy Hiddleston, an avowed fan of Disney’s The Jungle Book, singing a little bit of “Bare Necessities” at the event. If that’s not somehow worked into Thor 3, somebody at Marvel Studios isn’t doing his job.

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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

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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 …

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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

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“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’

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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′

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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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