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Are You Ready for Captain America 2?

The film is out next spring, and the first preview stills and trailer have just been dropped. Consider us excited.

The trailer sees Cap living in a world where the government is doing something dark and questionable. Huh.

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He also appears to be a fully fledged SHIELD agent. The film takes a lot from the ‘Winter Soldier’ storyline in the comics, where Cap fights an unexpected enemy – an enemy he has met before he was frozen…

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Best Comic Book Movie Cosplays

The second part in my look at the weird and wonderful world of cosplay, this week we’re taking a look at fans who’ve gone the extra mile in recreating their favourite comic book movie heroes – or villains.

Captain America: The First Avenger was a surprise of a film to many; I personally didn’t think much of the patriotic superhero. I think I can safely say that we were wowed by Chris Evans’s performance in the role and the charming nostalgic feel to it. These fans have gone the extra mile in recreating the showgirls in the film, proving you too can win World War 2 with legs.

Everyone loves a good villain, and Heath Ledger as the Joker was certainly one of the more memorable ones. A firm favourite with cosplayers, this excellent interpretation also comes with hired goons – a sure must for any version of the Clown Prince of Crime.

Whatever your personal opinion on Guillermo del Toro’s adaptation of the Hellboy comics, this is a great example of some creative and clever cosplay in a group. I’ve seen a lot of bad Hellboy costumes but this one truly looks like he’s walked from the film set.

  Tim Burton’s Batman Returns has become somewhat of a cult favourite and there are many attempts to recreate Michelle Pfeiffer’s iconic Catwoman catsuit. This is a fantastic and detailed version of such a famous costume.

Spiderman is a difficult costume to pull off; after all, how many of us can look good in bright red and blue spandex? This cosplayer has made his costume realistic while maintaining the classic Spidey look.

I appear to be making a habit of picking cosplays from contentious films! Silk Spectre is another favourite for lady cosplayers but I like this team up of the original Silk Spectre and her daughter.

A Loki cosplay is a particularly difficult one to pull off successfully; the costume is very fiddly and detailed. This hasn’t stopped people from being their favourite villain for the day and this is one my absolute favourites. The detail in this costume is amazing and he’s managed to perfect the Loki strut.

Anything involving Loki and Shawarma is always going to be hit with me!

Note: I am aware that the two Loki cosplayers are two different people; I can see that it’s two different people. That’s why the photos link to two different accounts. The Shawarma photo is by Fahrlight.

Next week, I’ll be looking at the gaming cosplay world, an yes, Final Fantasy may be involved.

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Best Comic Cosplays

Everyone loves a bit of cosplay, don’t they? For those who have never heard of the term, cosplay (or costume play) is really a kind of performance art – fans make replica costumes of favourite characters and role-play as them for the day.  It’s quite a fun and inventive area of fandom, with some people creating some truly astonishing and creative costumes. This is part one in my cosplay series – best comic cosplays.

An excellent Death from Neil Gaiman’s ‘Sandman’ comic series – it takes real dedication to wear body paint all day!

The use of a background to give the impression of flight makes this image a cut above other Rogue cosplays.

This Scarecrow cosplayer looks as good as the real thing!

How many of us think that the Robin costume looks, well, a bit naff?  Too many memories of Burt Ward in tights? This guy manages to make the costume look realistic and practical.

This Ms Marvel cosplayer made all parts of her costume, apart from the boots. I can imagine it must be hard finding domino masks!

The use of an outside setting for this Poison Ivy cosplay make the costume and character feel more realistic and grounded. The model and designer of the costume has her own site, featuring many original cosplays, including steampunk Lara Croft and female Two-Face.

Come back next week when I’ll be featuring the very cosplays of comic book movies, featuring Jokers and Lokis and Captain Americas – oh my!

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Top 5 Superheroines You Might Not Have Heard Of

This article is a bit of a follow up to my opinion piece last week, ‘Why are there no good superheroine movies?’  The article was posted on reddit and responses ranged from naming films I had missed out, to saying that women didn’t like these type of movies anyway to making jokes about sandwiches and kitchens.  Most people commented that there were no popular or interesting female characters anyway, and therein lies the problem.

Wonder Woman doesn’t think your statement dignifies a response.

Well, I happen to think that’s a load of old cobblers.  There are plenty of fascinating superheroines in comics who kick all kinds of ass and have interesting backstories and motivations.  So here are my top five superheroines you might not have heard of – but you should definitely read more about.

5. Cassandra Cain

Cassandra Cain was born to two master assassins of the DC universe and was trained from birth to be the ultimate weapon.  Her father didn’t teach her to speak, read or write, and she developed a method of being able to predict people’s actions and body language with an uncanny precision.  On her first hit at the age of eight, Cassandra was so horrified with what she had done she ran away, emotionally scarred, and convinced that murder was absolutely wrong.  After wandering the world for nine years she became an agent of Oracle and after saving Commissioner Gordon’s life, earned the Batgirl costume.  She was an incredibly successful and talented Batgirl, even being given the privilege of running solo in Gotham City.  Silent, powerful and with a strict aversion to violence, Cain is a formidable member of the Bat family.

 

4. Judge Anderson

Judge Cassandra Anderson started as a supporting character in Judge Dredd and eventually became the star of her own series.  She has psychic powers, the ability to sense approaching danger and foresee near events, and telepathy.  As a leading member of the Psi Division, Anderson has been a combatant of the Dark Judges many times, often crucial to undermining their plans.  She is greatly respected by Dredd, despite their differing attitudes; Anderson is able to feel doubt and remorse.  Pushing fifty, Anderson is at the peak of her career, a veteran of her division, and held in a position of respect and awe by younger judges.

 

3. Big Barda

Probably one of the more well-known characters on this list, I had to include Barda because Barda is awesome.  Big Barda is a powerful New God from Apokolips who fell in love with Mister Miracle and became a warrior on the side of good.  She had been groomed by Granny Goodness to lead the Female Furies, a ferocious pack of warrior women, but fell in love with Scott Free, Darkseid’s adopted son.  She risked her own safety to help Scott escape from Apokolips.  Barda was created as a reversal of stereotypical female characters, being physically more powerful than most men, very willing to use her strength in battle and fiercely protective of her husband.  While relishing the role of wife and housekeeper, she never hesitates to take on the duties of a warrior.  Her hobbies include community defence classes for women, hitting things with her mega-rod and playing Pokemon cards.

 

2. X-23

X-23 is the female clone of Wolverine, created by the Weapon X program to be the ultimate assassin (you get a lot of ultimate assassins in comic books).  Her claws were coated with Adamantium at an early age, and all ‘softness’ was brutally punished.  Using a chemically developed trigger scent, X-23 was forced to murder her sensei and her surrogate mother.  Escaping the facility, she wandered for two years, evading capture from legal authorities or those who would seek to use her for evil.  After helping the X Men, she was enrolled in the Xavier Institute, becoming a prominent team member and is currently in the Avengers Academy.  She is a dark and troubled character, but her mini-series X-23: Target X is truly excellent, showing that it is possible to have a superheroine character explore the darker sides of human nature.

 

1. Squirrel Girl

Squirrel Girl is considered the equal of Iron Man and Thor.  She has defeated Doctor Doom, MODOK, Thanos, Deadpool and Wolverine singlehandedly.  Her mutant power is that she’s essentially a human squirrel, with enhanced strength, agility, a prehensile tail, buckteeth and the ability to control squirrels and form them into her own furry little army.  She was created to harken back to the more light-hearted days of comics, but seriously, I cannot help but love a character that defeats villains with squirrels.

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Why are there no good superheroine movies?

Yeah, I said it.  There are no good superhero movies featuring a female lead.  Not one single one.  Try and think about for a minute.  Think about the last superheroine movie you saw and compare it to the last superhero movie you watched.  For me, those are 2004’s Catwoman and The Dark Knight Rises – and that’s when I start to get a bit cross.

As a young woman who loves superheroes in any medium, I’ve noticed it more and more as I’ve gotten older.  The classic films of my childhood that inspired my love of the genre (1978’s Superman and 1989’s Batman) feature strong female secondary characters whose primary purpose is to inspire the hero.  Yes, yes, Batman and Superman were both off saving lives without Vicki or Louis, but the climaxes in both films are inspired by a need to save the girl.  That’s the cliché, isn’t it – save the girl and save the day.  Well, why aren’t there more films where the girl gets to save the day herself, and not have to wait around for a man in a cape to do it?

1984’s Supergirl tried to use the Superman formula, ‘tried’ being the key word.  The failures of this movie, in terms of plot and characterisation, have dogged any studio trying to make a superheroine film.  The main issue is that screenwriters seem to forget how women work, as if the simple fact that having super powers means that all common understanding must be thrown out the window.

Superheroines work on the simplest of characterisations and motivations: the first one being ‘I am a brooding anti-hero that needs no man (although if the right one were to come along I’d change my mind)’ or ‘I was a lonely woman with no social life or chances of romance (despite looking like a Hollywood actress) but now with my extreme powers/extreme gadgets/ extreme cleavage I am an independent woman’.  The plot will involve something ‘womanly’, like fighting an evil make-up company, or fighting a villainess who wants your man.  You know, something involving ovaries.

It’s particularly striking because female action heroes are not a new thing.  It’s not as if people will leave a cinema in droves because it’s a woman taking down an evil crime syndicate or saving the world.  There are plenty of enduring female led action series that inspire love and devotion from a wide fanbase.  The Aliens films.  The Resident Evil series.  Buffy the Vampire Slayer – who could arguably be considered a superheroine in her own right.  Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake.  These franchises are big business, clearly showing there is a strong market for stories with a female main character kicking ass and taking names.

And female characters have been kicking ass in franchise driven or ensemble films.  Elastigirl in The Incredibles.    Storm and Jean Grey in the X Men films.  The Marvel films should be really praised for how they portray women.  True, the women are there more often than not as a love interest, but at least they’re proactive.  Pepper Potts actively works to take down two villains.  Peggy Carter is a secret agent not averse to throwing herself into action.  Sif pushed herself into becoming a recognised warrior in her own right.  Gwen Stacy took on the Lizard by herself to save New York.  Black Widow is a respected interrogator and infiltrator who fights while wearing sensible boots.

There has been a massive cry from Avengers fans desperate for a Black Widow film.  And why wouldn’t they?  She’s the most positively portrayed superheroine in years.  She doesn’t have to be romantically linked to anyone around her, Scarlett Johansson does a good turn as an action star, and she has an interesting backstory to explore.

But I’ll bet you dollars to donuts there won’t be a Black Widow movie.  Just as the Wonder Woman movie has been in development hell for years.  There was a pilot for a TV show… a pilot that was so bad it was never shown on network television.  It involved Wonder Woman being both of the two stereotypes; she was dark and brooding, killing when she had to, but was also sad and lonely, looking for a man.

What is it about superheroines that make writing them for screen so impossible?  I fully admit that it’s a rhetorical question I have no intention of answering.  That’s because I find the question so baffling.  I cannot understand why there cannot be a good superheroine movie.  The only half-answer I can find comes from John Lasseter, head of Pixar.  When asked why there hadn’t been a female main character in a Pixar film before, he answered ‘We’re a bunch of guys.’

Has it come to this, then?  That I am not going to see a superhero movie featuring an interesting and dynamic female lead until men start wanting to write for female characters or there are more women working in Hollywood?  Is it really so hard to write for female characters?

I shall wait with baited breath for a good superheroine movie, but it doesn’t look too promising.  Luckily, fantasy is providing female characters with a much clearer voice.  Franchises such as The Hunger Games or standalone pieces like Brave show that it is perfectly possible to have an all action female lead and reach the intended demographics the studios desperately crave.

What do you think?  Which supereheroine would suit the silver screen best?  Or would you prefer an original character with her own original story? Do you even want to see a big-budget adaptation of your favourite superheroine?

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Joss Whedon on board for Avengers 2 and a Marvel TV show

The man behind many a great film and TV series that we all love here at Sci-Fi Heaven (just check out the best sci-fi tv series poll) Joss Whedon has been drafted on by Marvel to direct the sequel to this years most successful superhero flick – The Avengers. Marvel obviously loved what Joss did with the first film and confirmed in a statement:

Joss Whedon has signed an exclusive deal with Marvel Studios for film and television through the end of June 2015. As part of that deal, Whedon will write and direct Marvel’s The Avengers 2 as well as help develop a new live-action series for Marvel Television at ABC. He will also contribute creatively to the next phase of Marvel’s cinematic universe.

It’s great to see that Joss Whedon is getting some of the biggest director roles in the business right now, he definitely deserves it, although I hope that all this work won’t take him away from the long awaited and much anticipated sequel to Dr Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog.

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Avengers TV show being discussed

According to Nellie Andreeva over at Deadline.com, preliminary discussions are underway with regards to bringing Marvel’s Avengers to the television screen.

The talks seem to be at an embryonic stage – or as Andreeva puts it, “a kernal of an idea” – and it seems that nothing is certain.

The only aspect that is ‘probable’ is that it will be set in the Avengers universe.  There’s no guarantee any of the characters from Joss Whedon’s blockbuster would even feature, and the show could be a complete spin-off set within the realm of the comic series, perhaps a “high concept” police show.

According to Deadline:

Establishing a primetime foothold has been a priority for Disney-owned Marvel. The company has developed several projects for ABC Studios over the last couple of years, one of which, a Hulk series, is still in the works. Search is under way for a new writer to pen the project.

I’m sure we’ll find out eventually.

Marvel Drops Norton From Avengers

Norton No Longer To Play The Hulk in Avengers Movie

In a bold move that has got tongues wagging all across the internet, it appears that the iconic role of The Hulk/Bruce Banner will no longer be played by Edward Norton in Joss Whedon’s Avengers movie.

According to entertainment news site Hitfix, Marvel issued the following statement:

“We have made the decision to not bring Ed Norton back to portray the title role of Bruce Banner in the Avengers. Our decision is definitely not one based on monetary factors, but instead rooted in the need for an actor who embodies the creativity and collaborative spirit of our other talented cast members. The Avengers demands players who thrive working as part of an ensemble, as evidenced by Robert, Chris H, Chris E, Sam, Scarlett, and all of our talented casts. We are looking to announce a name actor who fulfills these requirements, and is passionate about the iconic role in the coming weeks.”Kevin Feige, Marvel Studios President of Production.

In response to this rather harshly-worded statement, Edward Norton’s agent issued a rather lengthy retaliation, claiming that Norton was excited about the project and cast, had attended a successful initial meeting with director Joss Whedon and that financial negotiations had been entered into prior to  Marvel’s announcement of their intention to replace him.

Perhaps Edward Norton was getting asked a lot of questions about this, as he put up the following image over at his official Facebook page:

Edward Norton's quiet and dignified statement

Whether the motivation for this is financial or due to creative differences, one thing is clear – fans have not been pleased by this turn of events. The ongoing filmic saga of the formation of the Avengers has been fascinating to watch, and swapping actors in such a vital role at this juncture will be absolutely fatal to the suspension-of-disbelief  factor.  It looked like it was all dove-tailing together quite nicely; now it seems the transition from many films to one will be more jarring than expected.

So now the hunt is on for a new actor to fill Bruce Banner’s easily-shreddable shoes.  Already a casting rumour has surfaced – could Joaquin Phoenix be the next in what seems to be becoming a long line of one-hit Hulks? Who do you think should play The Hulk?

Sources: Hitfix: Marvel Statement

Hitfix: Norton’s Agent’s Statement

Edward Norton’s Facebook Page

Spider-Man 4 scrapped; Reboot due in 2012

Breaking news! Deadline reports that after director Sam Raimi recently left the franchise, Sony pictures have announced that they will not go ahead with Spiderman 4; they will instead opt for rebooting the franchise, bringing in a new cast and a new production team.

Sony’s official Press Release reads :

Culver City, CA (January 11, 2010) — Peter Parker is going back to high school when the next Spider-Man hits theaters in the summer of 2012. Columbia Pictures and Marvel Studios announced today they are moving forward with a film based on a script by James Vanderbilt that focuses on a teenager grappling with both contemporary human problems and amazing super-human crises.

The new chapter in the Spider-Man franchise produced by Columbia, Marvel Studios and Avi Arad and Laura Ziskin, will have a new cast and filmmaking team. Spider-Man 4 was to have been released in 2011, but had not yet gone into production.

“A decade ago we set out on this journey with Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire and together we made three Spider-Man films that set a new bar for the genre. When we began, no one ever imagined that we would make history at the box-office and now we have a rare opportunity to make history once again with this franchise. Peter Parker as an ordinary young adult grappling with extraordinary powers has always been the foundation that has made this character so timeless and compelling for generations of fans. We’re very excited about the creative possibilities that come from returning to Peter’s roots and we look forward to working once again with Marvel Studios, Avi Arad and Laura Ziskin on this new beginning,” said Amy Pascal, co-chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment.

“Working on the Spider-Man movies was the experience of a lifetime for me. While we were looking forward to doing a fourth one together, the studio and Marvel have a unique opportunity to take the franchise in a new direction, and I know they will do a terrific job,” said Sam Raimi.

“We have had a once-in-a-lifetime collaboration and friendship with Sam and Tobey and they have given us their best for the better part of the last decade.This is a bittersweet moment for us because while it is hard to imagine Spider-Man in anyone else’s hands, I know that this was a day that was inevitable,” said Matt Tolmach, president of Columbia Pictures, who has served as the studio’s chief production executive since the beginning of the franchise. “Now everything begins anew, and that’s got us all tremendously excited about what comes next. Under the continuing supervision of Avi and Laura, we have a clear vision for the future of Spider-Man and can’t wait to share this exciting new direction with audiences in 2012.”

“Spider-Man will always be an important franchise for Sony Pictures and a fresh start like this is a responsibility that we all take very seriously,” said Michael Lynton, Chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures. “We have always believed that story comes first and story guides the direction of these films and as we move onto the next chapter, we will stay true to that principle and will do so with the highest respect for the source material and the fans and moviegoers who deserve nothing but the best when it comes to bringing these stories and characters to life on the big screen.”

The studio will have more news about Spider-Man in 2012 in the coming weeks as it prepares for production of the film.

So that’s that. Goodbye Sam Raimi, Goodbye Tobey Maguire and goodbye rumours of John Malkovitch playing The Vulture.  The reboot will, of course, require a new actor to play Spiderman – speculation as to who that actor will be begins now! Who do you think will/should be the new Spiderman? Suggestions in the comments!