As superheroes continue to win massive profits at the box office and graphic novels strengthen their literary credentials, the amount of comic book adaptation increase in turn. This year’s crowded slate kicks off on Friday with The LEGO Batman Movie. While the majority of these projects remain dominated by capes and tights, there is some cursory interest in exploring other aspects of the medium. What follows is an overview of 2017’s offerings loosely ranked by level of interest.
It’s Super Bowl Sunday, which for Cosmo means zoning out the game and keeping an eye on the commercials. And Marvel Studios rewarded him with the most recent look at Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, directed by James Gunn, opens May 5th.
2016 brought an increasing number of comic based programs to television. Josh joins me in discussing a large cross-section of what both worked and did not these past twelve months.
Cosmo: This year, the DC/CW brand continued its bold expansion, launching one new series (Legends of Tomorrow) and annexing a another (Supergirl). Before we get to those, and the Arrowverse’s namesake, let’s begin with what I feel remains the most consistently successful of the CW shows: Flash.
Josh how are you feeling about the series?
Spoilers (but not many)
2016 might have witnessed a fair amount of upheaval, but one thing remained constant: Hollywood’s love of superheroes is as strong as ever. While DC sat out 2015, Marvel saw three of their properties in theaters; this year The Big Two had six combined. Next year that will edge up to seven. In addition, geek-favorite franchises Star Trek and Star Wars continued their multi-year missions through galaxies far, far away. Almost all of them raked the ticket sales (analysists were divided on whether Star Trek Beyond fell short of breaking even or turned a modest profit). Either way, neither profit margins nor quantity of films produced equal quality. 2016 was a very mixed year in terms of artistic merit, as fans could be forgiven for experiencing whiplash when trying to create a double bill for some of these movies. Some films excelled by being able to break new ground, while others entertained with well-executed tried and true formulas. Some were an utter mess (and not simply in their murky CGI sequences). It could have been worse; viewers were denied anything quite as terrible as last year’s Fantastic Four. Then again, that is placing the bar quite low.
For a production company that is faulted at times for sticking to a very specific formula, Marvel Studios takes a fair amount of risks. The most obvious of these is a willingness to base big budget movies around B-List characters. However, as Ant-Man demonstrated last year and Guardians of the Galaxy in 2014, viewers are eager to embrace heroes who previously had little, if any, exposure outside of fan culture. This combined with a mixing of subgenres (science-fiction space opera, heist caper family drama) has helped keep the formula from growing stale. Yes, the standard tropes are still there, but, in the best movies, they blend with more unique elements. This is definitely the case with Doctor Strange, the most recent entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Its mixture of technical prowess and strong ensemble acting crafts a film which is equal parts awe-inspiring and humane. Central to the movie’s success, same as Captain America Civil War earlier this year, is the conviction that the spectacle must be anchored with compelling character work.
And now Doctor Strange looks even more trippy . . .
At their San Diego Comic Con panel, Marvel Studios released a new trailer for their fall film Doctor Strange. The new preview emphasizes Stephen’s training in the mystic arts in full mind-bending detail. In addition, it features a fuller glimpse of Chiwetal Ejiofor’s Baron Mardo and Benedict Wong’s Wong. Also an awesome trick with a cape.
Doctor Strange, directed by Scott Derrickson, opens on November 4th 2016.
“Hello, Matthew . . .”
Mostly Punisher focused this time around, though there is a tease for more later in the month. Either way, the full second series starts streaming on Netflix Match 18th.
With the arrival of Ant-Man, Marvel Studios continues to expand the scope of their Cinematic Universe. Following in the footsteps of last year’s exercises in espionage/conspiracy thriller (Winter Soldier) and science-fiction adventure (Guardians of the Galaxy), the studio adds heist comedy to their repertoire. Like those previous movies, Ant-Man successfully manages to blend its style with the MCU’s larger framework, while still offering audiences something a little different. It might not reach the same heights of Winter Soldier/Guardians (which admittedly set the bar pretty high), but it is an entertaining two hours.
Continue reading Review of Ant-Man
Three years after their blockbuster film debut, the Avengers reunite for a new outing, Age of Ultron. With Joss Whedon returning as both writer and director, the film rather seamlessly resumes the tone of the first, while also fitting into the ever expanding tapestry of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe. While not a perfect film, in some ways it cannot match the sheer thrill of the initial installment, it is a thoroughly enjoyable experience.
The story opens in the snowy forests of Sokovia, Acting on intel relayed to Maria Hill from Phil Coulson (as shown in this week’s episode of Agents on SHIELD), the Avengers have arrived to raid the base of Hydra leader Wolfgang von Strucker. The Avengers and the film leap into immediate action, as a full-out firefight breaks out between the Hydra minions and the Avengers. As the defenses crumble, Strucker’s greatest triumph reveals itself: the Maximoff twins. Whedon does not take long in reveling Wanda and Pietor in action. They make a strong first impression, before spiriting away from the losing battle. Captain America takes Strucker prisoner, while Iron Man recovers Loki’s scepter, though, not before he has his mind jostled by Wanda’s powers. She unleashes a flood of nightmares (including a stunning shot of a re-animated Chitauri vessel), which deeply troubles Stark, leaving more concerned than ever for the safety of the world in general and his teammates in particular.
Continue reading Review of Avengers: Age of Ultron