GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY: The Rolling Stones Of The MCU

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Marvel has released the first official still from director James Gunn’s GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY. This shot, in which all five team members take part in a cosmic police lineup, was taken from the very end of the sizzle reel shown at San Diego Comic Con and the D23 Expo last summer. Gunn commented on the image via his Facebook page.

Okay, so I suppose Disney released this still from Guardians of the Galaxy. It was featured in the San Diego Comicon trailer, and is an early (truthfully, quite unfinished – we’ve come a long way from here) look at Rocket and Groot, Star-Lord, Gamora, and Drax.

Despite the unfinished effects, the footage shown in the sizzle reel looked absolutely beautiful onscreen. A full trailer with a few months’ worth of visual effects polishing is going to look phenomenal. Hopefully we will not have to wait to long into 2014 to see it.

Gunn and Star-Lord himself, Chris Pratt, spoke with Empire in the magazine’s latest issue to provide some additional insight into the film. Pratt talked about the risk of making a GUARDIANS movie in the first place and likened it to previous rolls of the dice by Marvel Studios.

Maybe it’s a risk, I dunno. I think every movie Marvel’s made has been a risk and they’re risks that pay off really big. So I hope for the movie’s sake, and my sake, that this one pays off. The story’s really good and Marvel really knows what they’re doing.

It’s not as broad as Galaxy Quest but it’s not a straightforward space fantasy like Star Wars. I think it’s the sort of the best of both of those films put together…and more!

As Marvel’s first new franchise in three years based on a property that even a great many comic book fans don’t even know, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY is arguably the studio’s biggest risk yet. Keep in mind, though, the Marvel brand grows more powerful with each film. While betting against Marvel is generally unwise, a successful franchise launch with GUARDIANS would open up all new cosmic doors for the studio and genre.

Gunn added a few notes on how this intergalactic team will be characterized.

Our characters are basically all villains to begin with. They don’t believe they’re individually good and they don’t believe each other is good, and through the course of the movie they discover they’re heroes. If The Avengers are The Beatles, these guys are The Rolling Stones.

The rockstar comparison certainly fits based on the comics. The Guardians have been known to be on the verge of a breakup before they inevitably makeup and rock the hell out of cosmic threats in a way only they can. It’s way past time to get excited for this film, folks.

In closing, please review Marvel’s official synopsis for GOTG, which hints at what could be another Infinity stone.

From Marvel, the studio that brought you the global blockbuster franchise of Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and The Avengers, comes a new team–the Guardians of the Galaxy. An action-packed, epic space adventure, Marvel’s GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY expands the Marvel Cinematic Universe into the cosmos, where brash adventurer Peter Quill finds himself the object of an unrelenting bounty hunt after stealing a mysterious orb coveted by Ronan, a powerful villain with ambitions that threaten the entire universe. To evade the ever-persistent Ronan, Quill is forced into an uneasy truce with a quartet of disparate misfits -Rocket, a gun-toting raccoon, Groot, a tree-like humanoid, the deadly and enigmatic Gamora and the revenge-driven Drax the Destroyer. But when Peter discovers the true power of the orb and the menace it poses to the cosmos, he must do his best to rally his ragtag rivals for a last, desperate stand–with the galaxy’s fate in the balance.

The Rock Talks With Warner Bros./DC

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Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has met with Warner Bros. chief executive officer regarding an upcoming project with DC Entertainment. This is no rumor, mind you, as Johnson announced the meeting on Twitter.

“Cool badassery” could be used to describe a number of different DC characters, including Lobo, a property to which Johnson has previously been attached. There’s also a chance Johnson could be up for a role in the MAN OF STEEL sequel. Johnson could be up for the same role as Jason Momoa or possibly even a bigger, buffer Lex Luthor.

Regardless of the role, landing Johnson would be a very nice casting coups for Warner Bros. His brand has been revitalized in recent years on the heels of some very successful turns in big franchises like FAST & FURIOUS and G.I. JOE. His WWE following has also been reestablished thanks to some lucrative pay-per-view appearances.

Johnson has been looking to join the ranks of the superhero movie genre for some time. Years ago, he was attached to SHAZAM! and he’s also professed his desire to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe, potentially as Luke Cage. Warner Bros. would be wise to beat Marvel to the punch by adding “The Rock” to the DC Cinematic Universe.

Empire Unveils More CAPTAIN AMERICA Images

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Empire has released four images from CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER, which can be found with a much larger feature on the film in the magazine’s February issue. The issue also contains news on Marvel’s other 2014 superhero film, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY. Feast your eyes on the rest of the images below.

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I Finally Understand The DC Cinematic Universe…I Think

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A couple days ago, I was driving home from work and participating in my normal routine of contemplating my favorite superheroes and their films. I can’t be the only one that does this, right? Please say no, so I don’t feel as weird. Anyway, I was thinking about this rapidly growing cast for the MAN OF STEEL sequel, aka BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN, or aka JUSTICE LEAGUE, when I had what can be only described as an epiphany. I *think* I’ve figured out the “why” behind DC and Warner Brothers’ current course of action related to their superhero TV and cinematic properties.

There’s a semi-famous saying of “What’s in a name? Everything!” There’s no doubt that the folks over at DC/WB know this all too well. It’s barely arguable that Batman and Superman have two of if not THE most recognizable names in our pop culture dominated world. It’s extremely difficult to find people in the world who have never heard of either of the world’s greatest superheroes. From a business perspective it makes sense that these two characters would eventually appear together in this current golden age of superhero cinema.

The folks over at Marvel have done a phenomenal job establishing their characters and shared universe. There’s no doubt that they are the current kings of the superhero film genre. Other studios are slowly making their attempts at building their own brands, but it’s mostly a slow moving process. Fans of the genre that still hold to the belief that there’s an actual competition between the studios and their films are just simply out of touch. These films do not release on the same day, and frankly there’s enough money to go around. Great superhero films, regardless of what studio they come from, only benefit the long-term strength of the genre. Marvel should also be commended for accomplishing what they have with the characters they’ve had to work with.

Just a decade ago, you’d have a difficult time trying to find average mainstream moviegoers (who always account for the vast majority of box office totals regardless of genre) who had heard of Iron Man, Hawkeye, or Black Widow. You’d find more that had heard of Thor thanks to his Norse mythology roots and Captain America thanks to his long-standing history in the comics. But even those who were familiar with the shield and hammer were few and far between. X-Men and Spider-Man were significantly more popular at the time thanks to recent films and impressive comic book sales. Basically, THE AVENGERS, the film that broke countless box office records and changed the status quo of the superhero film genre forever, was made up of mostly second- and third-tier characters. That is impressive.

marvel-studios-logo (1)The “Marvel Method” of building up a shared cinematic universe with one film at a time for each of its main characters and culminating with the team-up film was proven to be extremely successful to the tune of $1.5 billion. However, I don’t believe they had any other choice. When you’re dealing with characters that the majority of audiences probably haven’t heard of, you need to be patient, you need to cast extremely well, and you need to be confident. The greatest casting Marvel studios will probably ever have will be Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark. He and Jon Favreau took the character of Iron Man, who was lucky to be third-tier at the time in terms of comic book sales, and firmly cemented him among mainstream audiences. Robert Downey Jr. WAS Iron Man, and the world knew it.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER and THOR didn’t benefit from leading men as recognizable or as beloved as RDJ, but the films held their own and continued to push the shared universe forward. Thanks to a cameo in THOR and a substantial supporting role in IRON MAN 2, Hawkeye and Black Widow’s presence was made aware to audiences. The table was finally set, and characters that weren’t well-known among mainstream audiences became a little more familiar. The anticipation grew at a frenzied rate as Marvel was attempting to do something that had never been done before. May 4, 2012 finally arrived, and the rest, as they say… was history. Not only did Marvel need to make those individual films first for financial reasons, but they needed to do it to introduce mainstream audiences to their cinematic brand. Marvel Studios was and is only in the superhero film business, and business is good.

Warner Brothers has always had a different approach to their superhero film properties. They are a movie studio first. They make films throughout the year that fall into every possible genre. Aside from the occasional superhero film such as THE DARK KNIGHT TRILOGY, SUPERMAN RETURNS, GREEN LANTERN, or WATCHMEN, there hasn’t been much superhero live-action coming out of the WB lot. Throughout the production of MAN OF STEEL, the film was referred to as the first piece of a new shared DC Comics cinematic universe. Back in August 2012, my friend Bill Ramey published an article that stated WB wanted a JUSTICE LEAGUE film with their newly rebooted Superman in the lead for the 2015 summer blockbuster season. For those keeping score at home, that was at least ten months before MAN OF STEEL debuted in theaters. A few months later, another rumor surfaced that WB was offering Chris Nolan and Christian Bale a pile of gold that would make Scrooge McDuck blush, to team-up their Batman with Henry Cavill’s Superman. I think we all know how that rumor turned out, but one thing was consistent — Warner Brothers wanted a JUSTICE LEAGUE film in the summer of 2015.

20131222-195434.jpgNow, let’s fast forward (by way of rewinding) to July 2013 at San Diego Comic-Con and the announcement heard ’round the world. Coming in July 2015, Batman and Superman would be teaming up for the first time in a live-action film. In an announcement that spanned barely three minutes, Warner Brothers and DC Comics reached out and put the world on notice that their first team-up film was coming. It was barely a month later when it was officially announced that the next actor to be the Caped Crusader was Ben Affleck. Within 90 days of that announcement, rumors surfaced that a short-list of actresses were auditioning for the role of Wonder Woman. Early in December, it was confirmed that Gal Gadot had been cast as Diana of Themyscira aka Wonder Woman. Other rumors have hung around (thanks mainly to bloggers keeping them alive) that The Flash and even Martian Manhunter could possibly appear in the tentatively titled BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN in July 2015. While I don’t believe the rumors about The Flash or Martian Manhunter until actors for those roles are confirmed and cast, it’s fairly obvious, at least to me, what Warner Brothers is doing.

There has been no shortage of criticism from fans and bloggers alike when it comes to the DC Cinematic Universe. I fully admit that I’ve been very critical at times at the lack of movement when it comes to developing superhero films despite the mountain of intellectual property they are sitting on. The official announcement of the follow-up film to MAN OF STEEL, which seems more and more like a JUSTICE LEAGUE origin film, has not earned the studio any reprieve from criticism. Despite the studio having tentative plans since at least the late summer of 2012 of putting out a JUSTICE LEAGUE film in 2015, most criticism have focused on the appearance of rushing the film into production and not following the “Marvel Method” for establishing their shared cinematic universe. When it comes down to it, 99.9% of those who criticize WB’s current plan don’t actually know the full extent or true history of the development for this follow-up to MAN OF STEEL. All we can do is look at how WB’s method compares to Marvel’s. Let’s face it –they are the two most popular studios when it comes to the superhero film genre. Sony and Fox have had notable successes but not at the level of the “big two.”

As I stated previously, Marvel Studios is in the business of only making superhero films. It is their entire business model. The characters that they chose to use in their shared universe were relatively unknown among the general public. They needed to make individual origin stories not only to help build their universe but introduce/re-introduce those characters to mainstream movie-going audiences. Could anyone imagine if THE AVENGERS would have been the first film after IRON MAN? Mainstream audiences had basically just found out who Iron Man was. I don’t think $1.5 billion at the global box office would have been achievable.

There’s no doubt that Batman and Superman are near the top of the most popular fictional characters in the world list and have been for some time. There’s also no doubt that Wonder Woman is the most popular female superhero ever to grace the four color inks of comic book pages. While her comic book sales never really reach the top of the monthly charts, she’s always remained part of the public consciousness. It is the opinion of this writer that WB and DC have decided to let the names of their most popular characters do the initial legwork of building their new shared cinematic universe. Currently, Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman are all cast and guaranteed to appear in the follow-up to MAN OF STEEL. Other characters are rumored to appear as well, but nothing outside of WB/DC’s most popular three characters, aka The Trinity, has been confirmed.

If you have been paying attention at all to the press coverage surrounding BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN or whatever it will finally be called, you already know that it’s been quite extensive and speculative. People all around the world are anxiously awaiting every single piece of news that trickles out of the proverbial Fort Knox of the publicity department at WB. There is an enormous amount of hype around this film despite principal photography yet to officially begin. Granted, not every official piece of news that has come out has been met with open arms. We all know the ridiculous knee-jerk reaction to Ben Affleck’s casting as well as the less vocal but equally ridiculous reaction to Gal Gadot’s body image once she was announced as Wonder Woman. The bottom line is that all fans, passionate, hardcore, mainstream, and casual alike seem to be already invested in what’s going on with this movie. If Zack Snyder would have just announced a standalone sequel to MAN OF STEEL back in July at San Diego Comic-Con, it would have been welcomed but not necessarily earth-shattering news. Most fans and bloggers expected a sequel was in the works, and all signs at the time already pointed to that being a fact. Very few people, if anyone, were expecting the announcement we received.

wonder-woman-man-of-steel-2-newsAt first, I was someone who admittedly was uneasy with how I felt about the thought of a MAN OF STEEL sequel being “hijacked” in favor of a team-up film. I felt that Snyder, Goyer, and Cavill deserved another chance to further this new Superman’s cinematic career. Part of me was hoping that in addition to a sequel to MAN OF STEEL being in the works that a Wonder Woman film and a Batman film would be put into production as well. After all, how else could they build their shared universe for the eventual JUSTICE LEAGUE films? Without realizing it, I basically wanted WB to copy what Marvel was doing. As a lifelong fan of these characters, is it really fair that I demand or even expect a studio to bow to my whims or ideas for how they should build their shared cinematic universe? Not really. At the end of the day, every single fan just wants to see quality movies. However, my uneasy feelings were predicated on the assumption that the studio, and not Snyder and Goyer, had no initial intention of putting Batman and Wonder Woman in their next film. However, there’s evidence to suggest that expanding the superhero roster in the next film was in the works before MAN OF STEEL even hit theaters. I don’t know about you guys, but doesn’t that sound exactly like what WB had been planning on all along? While the follow-up to MAN OF STEEL seems like it will have the majority of the focus on the initial meeting and relationship between Batman and Superman, Wonder Woman will also play a significant part. My guess to the size her part will be mostly in the third act resolution. From what I can tell about this film, I’m getting a significant IRON MAN 2 vibe. Let’s just hope this film is considerably better.

I do believe that WB has a plan for their superhero cinematic properties. Obviously, their plan is significantly different from Marvel’s. WB has always been slow to announce plans beyond the very next film. They take these properties one step at a time. Now, because they are not using the “Marvel Method,” does that mean they are doomed to fail with building their universe via BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN? No, it doesn’t. Does not using individual franchise films to build your shared cinematic universe put more pressure on this film? Absolutely, it does. It’s clear (to me, at least) that WB and DC are going to play their best hand with this film. While there will always be Batman and Superman films that can be made, they want to make this new shared universe work. They’re going all-in with BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN. They’re attempting to give fans something they’ve been demanding for years. They are taking the two most popular superheroes of all time and the most popular female superhero in history and finally putting them in a movie together. At this point in the superhero film genre, it doesn’t get bigger than that.

Unfortunately, it’s impossible to see the future and find out if this enormous gamble will finally pay off for WB. I’m not sure how you can consider yourself a fan of the genre if you hope this film becomes a failure. While the fan in me is excited at the potential for this film, my concerns and worries won’t be completely answered until July 17, 2015. The film has the potential to further galvanize the superhero genre’s permanent presence in the cinematic landscape for decades to come. THE AVENGERS changed the landscape of the genre in 2012. BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN has the potential to do it again. While the “WB Method” has yet to be proven successful, I do wish them the most sincere luck. If Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman can’t do it, I’m not sure a shared cinematic universe will ever happen for fans of DC.

Good luck, Warner Brothers. The world will be watching.

MMM Podcast #158: The 3rd Annual MODERN MYTH MOVIE AWARDS

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As 2013 draws to a close, The Gentlemen and our fans, as members of the distinguished Academy of Modern Mythological Arts & Sciences, look back on the year that was and honor the very best in superhero cinema. Please join us as we recognize and debate the top performances, biggest surprises, funniest moments, most epic battles, and more in our third annual MODERN MYTH MOVIE AWARDS. Which film will take home Best Picture in 2013? Which film are we most excited to see in 2014? All will be revealed in this special, year-end podcast!

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Comic Book Review: SAGA #17

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As we get down to the final two issues of SAGA’s current arc, Brian K. Vaughn is pulling out all the stops in this edge-of-your-seat issue filled with new characters, more heartache, and as always unanswered questions.

The issue opens on a quiet moment between Upsher and Doff, who are interrupted by a new freelancer, The Brand and his sidekick Sweet Boy. They show up to put a stop on the hottest story of the war currently, and aren’t afraid to use extreme means to get it. Speaking of Sweet Boy, he’s one of the most adorable, yet terrifying pets I’ve seen in comics-and we haven’t really seen what all he is capable of yet. I’m not sure what type of pet shop the Freelancers frequent, but if Lying Cat and Sweet Boy are any indication it’s a place I’d like to visit!

From there, the issue picks up where we left in terms of The Will’s fate and alternates it with Prince Robot IV’s antics at the Heist residence. Vaughn’s pacing here is spot on, even though it can be confusing because there’s quite a bit going on. As always Staples’ art is the perfect compliment to the dialogue and helps with the characterization. There’s a heartbreaking moment when Alana realizes that, “we have a family to look after now,” changing how they can react in violent situations. Staples perfectly captures the look on Alana’s face with a depth and emotion that many can relate to.

Equally poignant are the scenes illustrating The Will and Sophia’s relationship, which is quickly becoming one of the better parts of the series. The scene between them opens with a look of horror on Sophia’s face as she slowly realizes what she has done. Sophia has a way of placating The Will and bringing out a kindness to him that we rarely see with anyone else. This issue is no different as he tries to calm her down, even though it’s his life hanging in the balance. I find myself looking forward to their interactions more and more, and there will be plenty of this in the next issue if you’re a fan as well.

The only part of the issue that feels a bit misplaced is the dialogue between Oswald Heist and Prince Robot IV once the issue jumps back to them. Most of this probably lies in the fact that the issue covers a lot of ground at once, and their discussion being cut into two parts hurts more than it helps. That being said it’s clearly a foreshadowing of what’s to come, and I’m intrigued to see how that will play out in later issues. Perhaps to be addressed in the next arc?

Ever the emotional roller coaster, SAGA ends with a gut punch to the stomach as we gear up the final issue of the arc. Vaughn can be counted on to end with a cliffhanger and this month is no different. Again, great art on the final page as we cover a range of emotions from surprise to sadness to anger. The coloring here is a perfect compliment, especially in showing the background to our characters and a glimpse of what is to come.

Empire Covers CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER

Empire has delivered to us all a belated Christmas present in the form of two covers dedicated to CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER. The first shows Chris Evans as Cap in his new S.H.I.E.L.D. approved suit while the second, limited edition cover surrounds the same image of Cap with Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow and a very clear look at Sebastian Stan as The Winter Soldier. The CAPTAIN AMERICA sequel doesn’t hit theaters until April 4, 2014, but you can check out this issue of Empire on December 31.

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Vote For The MODERN MYTH MOVIE AWARDS!

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The end of the year is upon us and all studios have shown their superhero slate for 2013. We will soon be recording our third annual MODERN MYTH MOVIE AWARDS podcast and all of our readers and listeners are a collective member of the distinguished Academy of Modern Mythological Arts and Sciences. Please cast your vote to help decide the winner in each of the categories below.

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MMM Podcast #157: Teaser Trailer Park 2014

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Yes, 2015 could very well be the biggest year in the history of blockbuster movies, but 2014 is no slouch by the looks of some outstanding teaser trailers that have debuted over the past few weeks. The Gentlemen expand the scope of their modern mythology conversation to break down the teasers for INTERSTELLAR, TRANSCENDENCE, GODZILLA, and DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES. Which of these teasers stood out among the rest? Listen for our take, then give us your pick in the comments section below!

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MMM Podcast #156: Ant-Man, Groot, & The Spider-Verse

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Officially, it’s been a big week for Marvel movie fans with confirmed castings for ANT-MAN and GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY and Sony announcing its plans to spin Spider-Man’s web off into an entire cinematic universe, so to speak. The Gentlemen give their analysis of Paul Rudd as Ant-Man, Vin Diesel as Groot, and the prospects of the VENOM and SINISTER SIX films. Listen to the show and then weigh in with your own thoughts in the comments section below!

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From Batman to Superman to the Avengers and Beyond! Our Heroes. Our Mythology.