Tag Archives: scarlett johansson

The Avengers Assemble to Raise Money for Joe Biden’s Presidential Campaign

Avengers Assemble

Virtual get-togethers of casts are one of the hottest fundraising tickets right now, and the Avengers are assembling to support Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.

Voters Assemble!” will feature Avengers cast members Don Cheadle, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Paul Rudd, Mark Ruffalo, and Zoe Saldana.

Joining the cast is vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris and directors The Russo Brothers for a Q&A and trivia.

The fundraiser takes place on October 20 at 6:45 pm ET. To attend, you can donate any amount of money to the Joe Biden Victory Fund.

Instructions for accessing the virtual event will be in the emailed donation receipt or in the page you will be redirected to after donating.

Captain America and Black Widow Headline a Free Military Virtual Con

The current situation has impacted events all over and that extends to the military. The USO is going virtual with its Military Virtual Programming Con which takes place on October 6-8. Headling the event is Captain America and Black Widow, aka actors Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson.

While that might seem totally on the level, when it comes to Marvel and the military, questions always need to be raised. Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter has been accused of having undue influence over the Office of Veterans Affairs and has used that influence to benefit Marvel.

Other guests for the event include Norman Reedus (Darryl from “The Walking Dead” and star of AMC’s “Ride With Norman Reedus”), Gerard Way (lead singer of the band My Chemical Romance and creator of the Netflix series “The Umbrella Academy”) and Jon Bernthal (Marvel’s “The Punisher”) also highlight the event.

Much like you’d find at any other virtual fan convention, the USO’s event features panels that will be broadcast online. Panels include ones from the National Cartoonists Society Panel, MAD Magazine, DC FanDome, and more.

Unlike other events, this is meant for the military. For each Zoom event you’ll need to vouch that you’re a Department of Defense ID holder or dependent of one, but it’s the honor system. You will be asked to provide your installation, service branch and rank for yourself or your family member.

Around the Tubes

The weekend is almost here! While you count down the work day and wait for the weekend to begin, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web in our morning roundup.

The Beat – Crime Wave: Erik Larsen and other Creators Turn to Twitter After Rash of NYCC Thefts – If anyone knows anything, please reach out.

ICv2 – WarnerMedia Gets in on the Direct-to-Consumer Streaming Action – What’s one more service to spend money on?

The Hollywood Reporter – Scarlett Johansson Lands $15 Million Payday for Black Widow Movie – Well deserved.

Publisher’s Weekly – Asian-Pop Makes Big Showing at New York Comic Con 2018 – It’ll be interesting to see what impact this has elsewhere.

 

Review

Talking Comics – Doomsday Clock #7

Cate Shortland Suits Up to Direct Black Widow

After a search that saw meetings with over 70 directors, Marvel Studios has found its director for its standalone Black Widow film. Cate Shortland will sit in the chair for the project that will star Scarlett Johansson.

The movie studio wanted a female director but at times looked towards male directors as well.

Johansson pushed for Shortland whose most known film was the 2012 critically acclaimed film Lore. Her most recent film was Berlin Syndrome in 2017.

While excitement was high for the film, some of fandom has cooled to the Johansson lead film after the actor’s questionable choices of roles and even more questionable responses for the films Ghost in the Shell and upcoming Rub & Tug.

(via THR)

Movie Review: Ghost in the Shell is Visually Entertaining with a Lot to Say in a Thin Script

To really discuss Ghost in the Shell, at least the way I’m going to, I’m going to have to spoil things, so WARNING SPOILERS.

In the near future, Major is the first of her kind: A human saved from a terrible crash, who is cyber-enhanced to be a perfect soldier devoted to stopping the world’s most dangerous criminals.

Based on the classic manga by Masamune Shirow, Ghost in the Shell isn’t anything new today. Its plot has be retread a million times at this point, Robocop being a prime example. At its core the story is about a corporation wanting to create a more perfect weapon, a soldier that has the thought process of a human but the physical abilities of a robot. “Ghost” in this case is a fancy word for soul with the shell being the robotic exterior, the futuristic cyberpunk story can easily be interpreted as a story about what it means to be human and the intrusion of technology into that. At what point with cyber enhancements do we become something else? Is it the “soul” or “ghost” that really matters. But, this live action version feels like it’s something more, “white imperialistic corporations.” The film has a glitzy surface and a shallow story that we’ve seen before, but its themes are very interesting and in some ways feel revolutionary.

Created by the Hanaka corporation Major (played by Scarlett Johansson) is part of a government task force, a very diverse task force it should be pointed out, but is still being watched/managed by Hanaka. Major is seeing glitches. She’s been told that she died in a boating incident and that her brain was transferred into this robotic body. But, is this the truth?

It’s pretty clear on that this cover story is completely made up and the real story is more insidious. Major isn’t the first attempt at this and Hanaka has failed numerous times. Major also didn’t die in an accident, she was a runaway abducted by Hanaka for their experiment. And Major is really Motoko Kusanagi a Japanese girl whose mind is moved to the body of a white woman. Cringe worthy for sure, but this whitewashing feels as if that’s part of the story. The evil terrorist, Kruze, that Major and her team are trying to track down too was a Japanese man transferred into the body of a white man. Those making that decision? All white. Dr. Ouelet (played by Juliette Binoche), Cutter (played by Peter Ferdinando), and Dr. Dahlin (played by Anamaria Marinca), are portrayed by white actors. So, for the third act of the film it’s a diverse group of soldiers (one white woman [Johansson], one white man [Pilou Asbaek], one black man [Tawanda Manyimo], two Japanese men [Takeshi Kitano and Yutaka Izumihara], one from Singapore [Chin Han] one Kurdish/Polish/English woman [Danusia Samal], and one Australian Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander/Pacific Islander [Lasarus Ratuere]) up against the evil corporation that has abused Japan for resources, kidnapping its citizens to whitewash them. The whitwashing feels like it’s part of the point of it all.

The optics are interesting and this theme fascinating and when it’s hinted at the two Japanese team members don’t have enhancements, there’s even more to think about the concept of Hanaka and it’s consuming of Japan. And in the end, the evil white corporate head is executed for crimes against the Japanese state (crimes against humanity/kidnapping would have been good too). In the end it’s not Major who brings justice, it’s her Japanese boss who executes Cutter. The same Japanese boss who only speaks Japanese throughout the film. The symbolism of the Japanese leader executing the white corporate imperialist for crimes against his nation is not lost.

Consent too is brought up over and over which itself deserves an exploration in what it means for what Hanaka has done but also the exploitation they represent. Every time Major has some diagnosis done or gets plugged in she must give consent. It’s interesting that “consent” is used as opposed to “permission.” And at the film’s core is that she didn’t give her consent when she was put into the body of Major. Again, by the all white corporate folks. Read into that as you want.

But, that rather interesting theme is visual. It’s never discussed, but as a whole the film relies on its aesthetics more than anything else. Visually the film is amazing with a look and style that feels like a futuristic but in doing so plays off of a lot of stereotypical Japanese iconography. Robots are designed to look like geisha, holographic koi fish fly around, it’s visuals we’ve seen, but the way they’re presented in their neo-glow is stunning and in 3D even more rich and entertaining. That includes the cyberpunk aesthetic with body parts replaced, people plugged in, much of it visually there and never explained. The action sequences too are like a ballet dance of destruction showing that Marvel would be fools to not speed up a Johansson led Black Widow film.

But lets get to the story. The themes are deep and while there is a diverse cast many have little screen time. If there’s two dozen lines between the majority of them I’d be surprised. There’s not much dialogue as a whole and as I said, the story is one that’s been repeated over and over. The film does little new in this department and it’s beyond predictable which is fine in that I was sucked in staring at the screen trying to catch everything visually. There’s plot points or scenes that aren’t explained or feel pointless. When it comes to the story itself, the movie is a bit of a mess especially in the latter half which feels like action sequences were shoved into a police procedural. Director Rupert Sanders delivers a visual treat from a thin script.

Johansson is interesting as well in how she portrays the character. The life we’ve seen from her has been sucked out in a way where she feels hollow. And that feels like it’s on purpose. The movie is her struggling with her status and numerous times she states she can’t feel anything. That is manifested in how she delivers her lines and interacts. It’s stiff, lifeless, and mechanical, like her character.

The film does have its problems. I get the reaction to Johansson whitewashing, but beyond that a scene involving a prostitute is cringe worthy. There’s also no explanation of this version of Tokyo, we’re just thrust into the world.

I walked out of Ghost in the Shell wanting to see it again and doing so in 3D (again). The film is entertaining and whether done on purpose or not, there’s a lot to discuss on its themes and conflict. Is it a great film? Absolutely not. Is it entertaining? Absolutely. It’s also absolutely a move that needs to be seen in 3D on the big screen, it’s visual richness will be lost any other way.

Overall Rating: 7.15

Deadpool, Reynolds, Robbie, and Negan Win Critics’ Choice Awards

Suicide SquadThe Critics’ Choice Awards were held this past Sunday and comic films represented not just with nominations, but also quite a few wins.

Margot Robbie won for Suicide Squad in the “Best Actress in an Action Movie” category. She was up against Gal Gadot for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Scarlett Johansson for Captain America: Civil War, and Tilda Swinton for Doctor Strange.

Deadpool did well winning “Best Comedy” up against Central Intelligence, Don’t Think Twice, The Edge of Seventeen, Hail, Caesar!, and The Nice Guys. Ryan Reynolds won for “Best Actor in a Comedy” for the title role in the film. Reynolds beat Ryan Gosling for The Nice Guys, Hugh Grant for Florence Foster Jenkins, Dwayne Johnson for Central Intelligence, and Viggo Mortensen for Captain Fantastic.

deadpool posterRyan Reynolds was also honored as the “Entertainer of the Year.”

When it comes to television Jeffrey Dean Morgan won for “Best Guest Performer in a Drama Series” for his portrayal of Negan on The Walking Dead.

It wasn’t all wins though.

Doctor Strange lost in “Best Hair & Makeup,” “Best Visual Effects,” and “Best Sci-Fi/Horror Movie.” Captain America: Civil War, Deadpool, and Doctor Strange all lost in “Best Action Movie.” Finally, Benedict Cumberbatch for Doctor Strange, Chris Evans for Captain America: Civil War, and Ryan Reynolds for Deadpool all lost “Best Actor in an Action Movie.”

Ghost in the Shell Gets Five Teasers

Paramount has released five video teasers for next year’s Ghost in the Shell, the live adaptation of the classic manga and anime property. The film stars Scarlett Johanson, which has led to criticism of the film.

From the visuals, this is one of the more intriguing films of the year, but could also be one of the most controversial too.

Ghost in the Shell comes to theatres March 31, 2017.

Around the Tubes

9D_Series_01_COVER_AIt’s an all new week for comic awesomeness! What are folks looking forward to? Sound off in the comments below!

While you think about that, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web.

Around the Tubes

Nerds of Color – Some Thoughts on Scarlett Johansson in Ghost in the Shell – Agree? Disagree?

The Columbus Dispatch – Ohio State receives collection from ‘underground comix’ master Lynch – Very cool!

CBR – “Fear the Walking Dead” Renewed For Season 3 – Well that was quick!

 

Around the Tubes Reviews

CBR – Batman/Superman #31

CBR – Doctor Who: The Ninth Doctor #1

I Digital Times – The Unbelievable Gwenpool #1

What Could Be Expected in Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe

After its initial success with Iron Man, the Hulk, Captain America and Thor, Marvel Studios quickly realized that it had a formula for success on its hands and seemed ready to take advantage of it.  To do so though required a plan, and studio head Kevin Feige soon had broken down the movies into various phases, with the most recent Ant-Man signaling the end of phase 2.  Aside from the developments inside the movies, there have been some developments outside the movies which have affected the universe as well, chief among those the partial reversion of the rights to Spider-Man back to Marvel, or at least the use of Spider-Man inside the shared universe in a collaboration with Sony.

At the moment, we kn ow the entire lineup for phase 3, starting with Captain America: Civil War and continuing through two new Avengers movies and the Inhumans.  What might be expected in the next phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe?  The release of the newest Fantastic Four might signal some of the changes which we can anticipate ahead (there are some spoilers below).

Ant-Man and Wasp

waspMany expected Ant-Man to be one of the bigger disappointments thus far in the MCU, due to its ongoing problems with the direction, after it passed from Edgar Wright to Peyton Reed.  It seemed as though the studio was not going to take any risks with the character as they could not even confirm his role in any future movies.  This presumably will all change now that the movie has been released.  Although it can’t compare to the financial success of the year’s other Marvel movie, Avengers: Age of Ultron, it also is noteworthy as being a better critical success, with a better rating at Rotten Tomatoes than Avengers.  With both financial and critical success it seems as though there will be more to come from these characters.  As was hinted at the end of the movie, there is still a lot of story left to tell as well, as the end hinted that Janet van Dyne might not be truly lost.  Furthermore Hope van Dyne was presented with a Wasp suit by her father.  There could be a lot of places to take the story of the two heroes, though one in particular might make the most sense …

Micronauts

micronautsThe Micronauts are a bit of an oddity in comics.  They started out as a line of toys, who were written into comics after in the 1970s after Marvel writer Bill Mantlo saw his son open a box of the toys.  The series started as somewhat of a standalone, but slowly was incorporated into the Marvel Universe, with appearances by some other mainstream characters.  While the rights for the characters do not presently rest with Marvel, there is a long publication history with the characters and as the rights rest with other smaller comic companies, it would likely not be too difficult to reacquire the rights.  Furthermore for the film studio that might try to replicate the runaway success of Guardians of the Galaxy, they might look smaller instead of bigger and find their next surprise hit there.  There would be some hurdles, but also there might be a few benefits, as Janet van Dyne disappeared into the smallest dimension, the Microverse.  This small universe is not in itself small, but the pathways to enter it are, and could give an explanation as to where the character disappeared.  They might find Janet in the Microverse, but they might also be able to find some other heroes there as well…

Fantastic Four

fantastic fourThe Fantastic Four is one of the best known Marvel properties that does not lie within the company’s grasp at the moment, instead being controlled by Fox.  While Fox has managed to control the X-Men franchise strongly enough with some decent movies, the Fantastic Four has mostly been a sequence of failures.  The first of the series was good enough to warrant a sequel, but this was before the wake of Marvel movies changed how fans expected superhero movies to turn out.  Marvel Studios was looking to be innovative, not just rehash generic action/sci-fi plots with superheroes thrown in.  The most recent attempt by Fox to revamp the Fantastic Four might have been an attempt to do the same, to get some new excitement into the mix, but it evidently did not turn out that way.  Critical response (and probably financial) will mean that the characters will have to be shelved for a while before the public has forgotten enough about them.  Using the Sony/Spider-Man approach, lending the characters back to Marvel Studios might be a wiser choice, one that would probably make more money for both, and one which would keep the fans happy.  By this point though, with two origin movies behind them, it might make sense to jump straight into the Fantastic Four with them already established as heroes.  They could exist in a similar sense to Hank Pym in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, unknown but still present.  More so, one of the places that is visited by the Fantastic Four is the Microverse, and if they were stuck there then it would be an easy bridge between Ant-Man and the return of Marvel’s first family.

Namor

namorIt is not entirely clear where the rights to Namor presently rest.  Kevin Feige has indicated that Marvel, if they desired, could make a Namor movie, but that there would be some “entanglements”.  Rights to the movie have rested with Universal, but seem to have at least partially lapsed.  What remains is speculated to be the same arrangement with 2008’s The Incredible Hulk, that Marvel creates but Universal distributes.  While it was not a problem when the Marvel Cinematic Universe was still nascent, it seems moving forward that Marvel likes to create and distribute, and to get rewarded financially at 100% for its efforts.  It might make exceptions for Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four but maybe less so for Namor.  Another factor to consider is what DC Comics will manage to do with its own movies.  The other of the big two comic companies is playing catchup, but also has the benefit of controlling the movie rights to nearly all of its characters.  They have already greenlit an Aquaman movie, but it remains to be seen just how well it will do.  Aquaman is after all a hero that is taken not so seriously in pop culture, but if DC can make it work, maybe it will give Marvel second thoughts about its own underwater hero.

Thunderbolts

thunderboltsThe fact that DC Comics is playing catchup in the movie game can also be to the advantage of Marvel.  Marvel has already taken its gambles and seen those pay off, as with Guardians of the Galaxy.  DC Comics, who are eager to catch up, are also taking their own gambles, and chief among those is the Suicide Squad.  Featuring a group of villains forced into a heroic role, it might catch on, or it might flop.  Fans certainly will not be very familiar with the concept, and the concept in itself is strange enough that it might not work.  On the other hand, it might work, and if yes then it could serve as a gamble that Marvel gets to witness the results of without gambling anything itself.  If popular it could use its own villain-turned-heroes team the Thunderbolts and catch the wave of people wanting more Suicide Squad before a sequel to the DC movie comes out.  If played right as well it could help quieten those that think that the MCU’s villains are the weakest part of the movies.

Defenders

defendersMarvel is already a long way along in its development of the Doctor Strange movie, and holds the exclusive rights to the Hulk as long as he is not the featured character in a movie.  A Namor movie could be forthcoming depending on the success of Aquaman, and if Fox sees the benefits of doing so, a collaboration might be in the works to return the Fantastic Four and associated characters to the MCU, which would include the Silver Surfer.  Those four make up the original four members of the Defenders.  For those that are getting a bit tired of seeing the Avengers over and over again on the big screen, it might be an excuse to feature this other Marvel team (although Marvel is working on a street level Defenders television show as well.)  One interesting aspect about this team is that as opposed to the Avengers that the original team is made up of all non-street level characters, meaning that the stakes could be higher and that bigger things might happen as a result, such as …

World War Hulk

wwhThis has been a long rumored development in the MCU, but also not one that has not yet come to fruition.  Marvel has been careful to include in story arcs from the comics, and it has made for some great connections for fans of both mediums.  Although World War Hulk is not necessarily the best all time Hulk story, it is up there, and would be a better vehicle for putting a new spin on the Hulk stories, more so than what we are seeing at the movies, with both Hulk movies fitting the same general pattern of the Hulk being hunted by the government after smashing up a bunch of stuff.  It would also allow the character to move beyond the Avengers, which is a connection that is not as strong in the comics.  Also if all the pieces fell into place, it would mean that a lot of the major players from the crossover might be able to make it into the movie, save for the X-Men.

Hawkeye

kateRumors abound that another major character will die in the upcoming Captain America: Civil War (especially that there are pictures from the set of a funeral sequence), and without any other way to verify this other than by seeing a movie that will not be released until 2016, it still seems likely that one of the characters that might be easiest to kill off would be Hawkeye.  He is among the less popular of the main characters in the MCU, and has been almost a footnote to the movies series, appearing to provide fans with another superhero, but also one that doesn’t really do much.  Even if he does not die in the movie, it is also worth noting that the character is one which is on the verge of retirement, being somewhat older than the other heroes and with responsibilities to his family.  This could leave open the possibility for a Hawkeye movie except not as we might expect.  As the movies expand in popularity it makes sense to be closer to four quadrant movies, and one way to do this is to introduce more female characters.  If Clint Barton were to retire on screen, it could open the door for Kate Bishop to step up, providing the MCU with another superheroine, and one with a lot more of an edge than Clint.

She-Hulk and Spider-Woman

shehulkOn that same note, if Marvel is looking to keep its female fans happy it might look to develop these characters as well.  Most of the main Marvel superheroines would be tied up elsewhere, with most of the major heroines being members of the X-Men, and other such as Sue Storm or Medusa mostly only operating as parts of teams.  Others such as Elektra and even Hellcat are tied to the television series, which mean that only a few major female characters would be left to get the big screen treatment.  She-Hulk and Spider-Woman could both be strong contenders to hold down their own movie, especially if Marvel did something unexpected and went off the script with the Spider-Gwen version of Spider-Woman.  It would also help to fill the ranks of the Avengers, a team which needs to be mixed up a bit from time to time to keep the roster fresh and the fans intrigued.

Ka-Zar

tigraKa-Zar is one of the longest running Marvel characters, but also one that has not had a very solid fanbase in modern years, although unquestionably popular among many.  Although Marvel is keen on taking risks, could it make the Savage Land work the same as it made Guardians of the Galaxy work?  The Savage Land is the source of many stories within the Marvel Universe, though most of them with the X-Men.  Why might the MCU be interested in the Savage Land?  It is a fantasy setting, and while it does not match up with other heroes, could still serve as an explanation for the re-appearance of some characters who also happen to be Avengers – Hercules, Tigra or even the Black Knight.  It might be a stretch, but Marvel will be looking for new blood for its Avengers as it moves forward, as is evident from the new roster after Age of Ultron.  Tigra especially might be interesting, as she not only is her own character, but is also indirectly responsible for the development of Hellcat, whose non-superpowered version is already set to be introduced in the Marvel television show Jessica Jones.

Iron Man 4

iron manThis is perhaps the biggest question to solve in phase 4.  A big part of what made the MCU so popular is that it based its hopes on the initial movie, Iron Man.  If this movie had failed so too would the plans for the shared universe.  Success would probably have still come the way of the studio, but it would have been a longer road.  Part of the runaway success of the original Iron Man was that Robert Downey Jr. was perfectly cast as Tony Stark, what some might say is not even really acting as he seems to be mostly playing himself.  That having been said, superheroes never really age but actors and actresses do.  While the studio can get a few more years out of Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson (all in their early to mid 30s), and even a lot more out of Paul Bettany (whose character the Vision wears so much makeup as to be ageless) and Elizabeth Olsen (who is in her mid 20s), it can probably expect less out of Robert Downey Jr, who is now 50.  They might push him for a couple more movies, but eventually he will need to be replaced, and the biggest question would then be by who, as the character is one that is of highest importance to the MCU.  There might be no bigger question heading forward in the MCU than who will fill this role.

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