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Latest Pictures from Avengers: Age of Ultron

If you’re as excited for the sequel to Marvel’s The Avengers as we are – and that might be medically impossible – then be prepared to go into excitement overload for these latest pictures from the set of Avengers: Age of Ultron!

 

 

 

There’s also this great picture of the entire Avengers: Age of Ultron cast from Comic Con!

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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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The Great Avengers DVD Swindle

The Avengers is one of those great movie success stories.  It wouldn’t surprise me if in years to come, the first section of the Marvel Cinematic Universe was studied across the world as the franchise story.  How so many people came together to plan out a project that on paper didn’t look like it would work.  At all.  What’s that?  Make five films that all lead up into one great big group story, using characters not really that well known outside of the comic book world or have made extraordinarily terrible films in the past?  Using actors and directors not commonly associated to work within the genre, or cast complete unknowns in major parts?  Madness I say!  And yet, here we are, having seen the release of an absolute box-office smash, that pleased critics and fans alike, featured action and sass and beefcake and cheesecake and any kind of cake apart from real cake (but some shawarma) and… suddenly, it’s all falling to pieces with the DVD release.

Where could it go wrong?  This is the hot property of the year, with more special editions and box sets and combined editions coming out than you could shake a stick at.  It’s like being in a candy store, if the candy store were full of eagerly anticipated DVDs.

The first problem was with the combined Marvel Universe box set in a special tesseract box.  This was the holy grail of Avengers related DVDs; very limited edition, very special features, very expensive price tag.  Your dear writer was saving up her pennies for this one, agonising over whether she could get one, hoping that they’d stay in stock just until loan day… well, I don’t have to worry about it any more because the release is delayed until next spring.  Marvel Studios and Disney are being forced to hold back on the release because of a lawsuit.  The German designers of the original prop suitcase used to hold the tesseract are suing for breach of copyright, claiming that the companies neglected to get the proper permissions to reproduce one of their designs.

However, the actions of Disney concerning other DVD and Blu-Ray releases in Europe, especially the UK, have a horrible money-grubbing funk about them.  You see, there’s a chance that the Avengers DVD you buy will not be the full theatrical cut.  In Germany there’s a very crucial cut in a very crucial scene; when Coulson is fatally wounded by Loki, the censors have decided to cut showing the spear coming out of Coulson’s chest.  Perhaps this is because the censors in Germany are a little more conservative than those in the UK.  The British Board of Film Classification judged the scene to be distressing, but pivotal to the climax of the film and the motivations of the characters.  That’s why it wasn’t cut from the theatrical release – it was too important to be lost.  Then why is it that it’s been deemed inappropriate for the British DVD release?  This scene has now been re-evaluated by some higher up somewhere as being too upsetting for a 12 rating.  What was fine for you to watch in a cinema is not okay to watch in the comfort of your own home.

This doesn’t bother me too much, because I’ve got an Italian copy that has no qualms about showing a tiny speck of gore.  No, what bothers me is that it’s clearly related to the other problem.  All the major retailers (HMV, play.com, Tesco, etc) all have different versions with different special features. They are all wildly different from each other, meaning that if you’re a dedicated fan (i.e. me) in order to get all the special features available – but not the director commentary promised – you have to buy all of them.  Or, as Disney have proudly announced, buy their regionless Blu-Ray import!  It even restores that bit where you can see where Coulson gets stabbed!

Ah, I understand now Disney.  You want them to pay for the privilege of having you ship in their film especially for them, and potentially buy all the DVD copies they can get their hands on.  Increase those healthy box-office receipts some more.

My advice?  Well, try to get a European copy if you just want the film, no frills, no fuss.  If you want The Avengers with bells attached, wait a while.  I’m guessing there will be a super mega awesome edition, with lots of bells, buzzers and whistles attached, like the extended Lord of the Rings boxset.  It’s just a shame that the company are fumbling around and letting down the fans.

My reaction to my favourite film being released on DVD and Blu-Ray should not be likened to the Hulk.

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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.