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The latest news and rumors coming from Hollywood!

Star Wars VII Concept Art Exposed Pt. 2

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Last week I broke out the magnifying glass and went over a large amount of leaked concept art from Star Wars: The Force Awakens to look for clues on the movie’s potential story. That article can be found here. (as well as Part 3, and Part 4) Concept art can be a valuable tool when trying to deduce what the movie will look like or be about. Concept art is for the production crew what the script is for the actors. It helps them set up scenes, build locations, and guide the cinematography unit while filming. There are hints and clues within them, if we only look and are able to recognize what is clearly staring back at us.

Last week a lot of the art focused on what appears to be the first act set on a desert junkyard like planet that I’m guessing is not Tatooine. Let’s see what else we can find as we dig through more art.

And as always. POTENTIAL MASSIVE SPOILERS AHEAD. Because, again, that’s the point.

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1. Evil Sith Lord pt. 2

Ok. So I got some flack last week for being so certain Palpatine was the big bad coming back based on this piece of concept art. I had missed this piece which shows the cloaked figure’s face close up and in much more detail than before. No way this can be Palpatine I was told.

I still think it is.

Take away the crazy insect like face and look at the other aspects of the character instead. 30 years after Return of the Jedi who else could be keeping the Empire in one piece since we know it still exists in the new film? Who else would want Vader back as badly as the Emperor? Who else wears big black cloaks like this? What other Sith lords are out there who would have Vader’s mask in his possession? Only two, there always are, as Yoda reminded us in The Phantom Menace. If Palpatine did survive the explosion of the Death Star I would assume he’d be in bad shape and in need of some major cybernetic prosthetics. Luke had enough time to get out before it exploded and he was carrying about 300 pounds of dead weight with him while doing so. Lando too. And he did brag to Anakin in Revenge of the Sith that he had the goods on how to cheat death. Why should we be so surprised if he actually did?

Star Wars VII Concept Art Exposed Pt.1

 

The last few weeks has seen a lot of leaked and official news about the new Star Wars movie. From an official title finally, “The Force Awakens”, to leaked concept art, to more casting rumors, we seem to be learning more and more about episode VII every day. But all we are seeing are little snippets from the film. The actual plot and details are a closely guarded secret . On a movie this big it’s to be expected. But we have been lucky enough to have seen a bunch on concept art hit the web with interesting depictions of shots we may see in the final film. Concept art is always  a bit sketchy to put a lot of stock in because it’s often just visual daydreaming used by the director and producers to try and imagine what certain parts and scenes of the movie could look like. Sometimes the concept art may be spot on to what makes it in the finished film and at others times it could be off in a galaxy far far away. But if you look beneath the surface and dive deep into the details you can notice a lot of themes and subtitles that reveal the bigger picture. I think if we look at these pictures critically we can learn a lot about episode VII. There are clues in the concept art waiting to be found.

So let’s take a look at what’s been revealed so far and see what we can deduce about Star Wars episode VII: A New Dawn. Even if you’ve seen these pictures before, you haven’t seen them like this.

(Further analysis of more recent concept art can be here in Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4)

And it of course goes without saying, POTENTIALLY MASSIVE spoiler alerts to come.

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1. Evil Sith cloaked figure

This is one of the most important and talked about pieces of art that’s been leaked so far for one simple reason. Who is this guy? Some have speculated this could be Anakin, Darth Vader himself, longing for the good ol’ days. The clue being the robotic right hand that Luke cut off during their final battle on the Death Star. But that would mean Vader somehow managed to survive being burned to death on a funeral pyre on Endor. (He has survived been burned to death before afterall.) But this can’t be Anakin. We saw his force ghost at the end of Jedi which means he’s as dead as Uncle Lars and Aunt Beru. If this isn’t Vader I think it’s clear then who it must be. None other than the Emperor himself.

Palpatine lives!

To verify my claim I submit the following evidence. We know Palpatine has a closet full of black hooded cloaks, his favorite attire. Check. This person seems to be on the bridge of a Star Destroyer which is where he belongs now that he’s run out of Death Stars. Check. He’s obviously mourning the loss of his star pupil as Palpatine would. That softy. Check. It’s possible Palpatine could have survived the destruction of the second Death Star but not without injury which explains his robotic prosthetics. Check. I think it’s also kind of interesting that Palpatine himself may be more machine than man now as at least his hand and eye have been replaced. (And as we’ll see, cybernetics seem to be all the rage in the new film) What is clear from his expression and pose is that Vader is gone and he is missed. Ruling the galaxy was easy with Vader by his side. Now it’s harder and he longs for Vader’s return. A major goal of Palpatine through both trilogies was to find and groom new apprentices, Anakin in the prequels and turning Luke to the dark side in the original. Why would we expect him to have any other mission in the new films? What’s to say he still doesn’t have his eyes on Luke, even 30 years later? We know this guy is comfortable playing the long game so I’d bet on it.

We also know the Empire is still alive and kicking in these new movies which surprised many at first. Most people expected the Empire would have at least fractured or been totally defeated in the new films because that’s usually what happens when your supreme leader is killed. How does it make sense that the could have Empire have survived 30 years after Return of the Jedi? Simple. Palpatine never died. Obviously he got messed up, but it takes more than a small fall down a reactor core to kill a Sith lord.

Darth Maul not withstanding.

Star Wars Episode VII officially named. The Force Awakens

With principal shooting have just finished on the set of the new Star Wars film we didn’t have to wait long for an official title. And it’s actually not bad.

Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens

I like it. Lots of rumors and speculation had been leaking from the set in the last few weeks. From a description of the opening sequence to concept art,  to director J.J. Abrams leaving little internet postcards around. But one thing that was a closely guarded secret was the film’s title. From “A New Dawn” to the horrible “An Ancient Fear” and many more inbetween everybody was looking for clues to the movie’s plot based on the title. It’s certainly better than “The Phantom Menace” or “Attack of the Clones”

So what do you think the new title refers to? Are we seeing a rebirth of Jedi? If the force is waking does that mean it’s been asleep? Will it be a cranky force if it woke up on the wrong side of the bed? We’ll have to wait and see.

Marvel throws down the Infinity Gauntlet

I said last week that the latest rumors about Captain America 3 and the Civil War story line had blown my mind. Well today Marvel took those little bits of brain still left in my skull and blew them completely out. Today at the El Captain theater in Hollywood Marvel laid out the future of it’s cinematic universe for all the world to see.

Wow. Wow. Triple Wow. Things just got kicked up a notch.

Warner Brothers did something similar earlier in the month when they laid out their schedule for their upcoming slate of DC Comics shared universe movies with Batman v. Superman leading the way. A lot of people wondered if Marvel would follow suit and lay their hand on the table. There had been a lot of little rumors and leaks coming from Marvel studios lately it seems. Well, where there’s smoke there’s fire and it seems Marvel is engulfing itself in a 5 alarm fire for the foreseeable future as they announced a new slate of movies leading all the way into 2019. It’s Phase Three lineup. (Phase Two will end with Avengers: Age of Ultron in summer, 2015

Where else to start then at the beginning of the announcements?

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Avengers: Infinity War Part I and II As many have speculated the third Avengers movie will be split into two parts, filmed simultaneously and released a year apart. This is common practice for studios these days wanting to milk every last dime out of their franchises. See The Hobbit, Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, so it’s not surprising to see Marvel copy a page out of somebody else playbook for once. What is Marvel’s Infinity War? it’s what all Marvel movies before it have been building up to. A common connection between Marvel’s movies have been artifacts of incredible power seeded throughout the Marvel universe. The glowing cube called the Tesseract in Avengers, the powerful gem in Guardians of the Galaxy are all suspected to be the cinematic universe’s version of the Infinity Gems. Gems that can bend and alter the laws of physics and reality. Once assembled the gems can be placed into the knuckles of the Infinity Gauntlet, seen briefly in the first Thor movie, and control God like power. Josh Brolin’s mad purple chinned Thanos is secretly collecting the gems. Why? Because he would love nothing more than to extinguish all life as we know it to impress a girl named Death. At least in the comics that was the story. I would fully expect not only the Guardians of the Galaxy to make an appearance in this film but every Marvel character ever put on film. Perhaps even two full teams of Avengers. More on that later.

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Dr. Strange News broke yesterday that Benedict Cumberbatch was in final negations to play Dr. Stephen Strange, Marvel’s master magician on film. He was not announced today as those negotiations must still be ongoing, but his film sure was. Expect a cross between a superhero movie and a horror film as Strange explores the supernatural and mystical aspects of Marvel. Here’s hoping the film pushes hard for an R rating like 1998’s Blade to truly make it scary and live up to the promise of the character.

Guardians of the Galaxy 2 Guardians was the surprise hit of the summer as it became not only the highest grossing film of the hottest months in the year, but all of 2014 as well. Marvel announced a sequel right away as fans are STILL eating this movie up months after release. They won’t have to wait too long as Guardians 2 is slated to hit theaters May 5, 2017. Director James Gunn began writing the sequel on the day of the first films release. Expect to learn a bit more about Chris Pratt’s Star Lord’s parentage as well as to include a few new team members, most notably Adam Warlock, a God like perfect human being of immense power.  The film should be a direct set up to Avengers: Infinity War as Thanos would have to get his hands on the Infinity Gems to start attacking Avengers in 2018. Who knows, maybe even Howard the Duck will make an appearance.

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Thor: Ragnarok It’s nice to see Thor get a third movie just as Iron Man and Captain America have. All we know about Thor Ragnarok is it’s sure to give audience’s it’s share of Loki, who is secretly controlling the throne of Asgard. In the comics Ragnarok is the end of a long Asgardian cycle of death and rebirth for Thor’s realm. So expect some pretty apocalyptic scenes as Thor’s world comes to an end. Or there is a slight chance the subtitle could reference the character of Ragnarok, a Terminator like clone of Thor created by Tony Stark who of course goes mad. Does anything Stark makes ever work out as planned? If nothing else this should be the most epic Thor movie yet.

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Black Panther The Black Panther is another long rumored hero waiting to make the jump to the big screen. Like all of Marvel’s movies, the clues have been seeded before us. The Black Panther is the warrior king of the fictional African country of Wakanda and we know Wakanda is a location the Avengers will travel to in Age of Ultron. Why? Wakanda is an an extremely advanced nation, perhaps the most advanced on Earth, but also one of the most secretive and protective because it is one of the only places in the world with deposits of Vibranium. A special metal alloy resistant to vibrations. It’s extremely strong stuff, in demand, and also rare.  It’s mentioned in the first Captain America movie that Cap’s shield was made with all the alloy the United States had. Why they took that extremely expensive metal and made a disc shaped shield out of it I’ll never know, but we know from the newest trailer that Cap’s shield shatters in Age of Ultron. To fix it you’d have to go to Wakanda. Oh, and speaking of Ultron, he’s made out of the stuff. To show they mean business Marvel also announced they had cast up and coming star Chadwick Boseman of 42 and Get on Up to play the lead. First Jackie Robinson, then James Brown, and now T’Challa? Boseman is on a roll. Also I love the concept art for the suit. Black Panther’s costume has often been portrayed as a cloth jumpsuit with a flowing cape but I’m glad to see a more militarized look with enough touches of the character like the claws and necklace to make him unique. Also we’ll have a legitimate black superhero onscreen in his own movie for perhaps the first time. It depends if Warner Brothers can push out their Cyborg movie first.

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Captain Marvel Finally! First we get an African American superhero film, oh wait, sorry Blade, sorry Spawn, sorry Steel? for what I said above, but now Marvel is set to give us the first female film starring Captain Marvel. Who is Captain Marvel? She’s a woman infused with super strength, speed, the ability to fly, and has the ability to shoot beams of energy from her hands thanks to an alien race called the Kree. The same Kree race that Guardians of the Galaxy bad guy, Ronan the Accuser was. Actually the logo for Captain Marvel looks very retro and yellowish like the logo for the Guardians of the Galaxy.  Coincidence? But who is Captain Marvel really? In the comics she is the alter ego of a former air force pilot named Carol Danvers. Who? Don’t worry, you’ll see her in Age of Ultron as rumors suggest she will play a small role in the film. Oh, Marvel. It’s almost like you’ve been planning all this in secret the whole time!

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Inhumans Now this is a bit trickier. The Inhumans used to be human but after being exposed to exotic terrigan mists they develop special, and sometimes abnormal powers. They are lead by their King, Blackbolt who can never talk as even a whisper of his voice is enough to level a mountain, and his queen Medusa, a red head who has total control of her hair. Odd? very. In theory anybody can become an Inhuman when exposed to the mists but Marvel has had a hard time making them relatable in the comics which might make this Marvel’s most difficult movie yet. The inhumans are very powerful beings but choose to live in isolation and seclusion rather than to get involved in the affairs of humanity. Plus they live on the moon and have a giant teleporting pet bulldog named LockJaw. This movie might make Rocket Racoon and Groot look easy.

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Captain America: Civil War Well, now it’s official. Civil War is coming to the Marvel movies. All you need to know is this movie should be titled Captain America v. Iron Man as the two biggest heros in Marvel’s cinematic universe square off over a superhero registration act that would make secret identities a thing of the past. This movie has the potential to split marvel’s movies wide open as it’s increasing stable of heros will be pitted against each other as they choose sides. The cast for this movie could also be very large if Marvel wants to go wide with it as both Cap and Stark gather their own team of heros to fight each other. Or they could keep the scale small and focus just on the conflict between the two personally. Here’s hoping everything isn’t all tied up in a pretty little bow by the time the credits roll as a divided group of Avengers could be just the right amount of change needed to keep these movies from growing stale.

Phew!  That’a a lot of movies! Enough to last into 2020. But there are still some questions that need asking. Where is our Black Widow movie? Is Captain Marvel really getting hers first? What about the Hulk? The fans have been wanting a new Hulk film after he stole the show in Avengers and Marvel has the perfect Hulk story to spin into a movie with Planet Hulk. (Think Hulk lost in space meets Gladiator) Will there by any Ant-Man sequels coming down the pike soon? And don’t forget Marvel’s TV presence with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Netflix only shows like Daredevil being filmed as we speak. You can’t leave them out of the bigger picture.

Whatever happens, Marvel just threw down the Infinity Gauntlet. Our theaters may never be the same.

 

Marvel casts Dr. Strange

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The rumor mill had been swirling lately with the latest reports coming out of Marvel’s next big casting decision as to who would play Dr. Strange. Everybody from Joaquin Phoenix, to Ewen MacGreggor, to Keanu Reeves, to Jared Leto and even Johnny Depp. But if the latest unconfirmed reports from Hollywood are to be believed then Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch is set to portray the Sorcerer Supreme up on the big screen.

Who is Dr. Stephen Strange? According to the comic books he is the marvel Universe’s master of magic. At first a brilliant brain surgeon, Dr. Strange was involved in a horrible car accident that severely damaged the nerves in his hands. Unable to perform surgery anymore Strange searched to the ends of the Earth looking for a way to restore his damaged hands. While searching he is taught the magical arts high in the Himalayas by a hermit called the Ancient One, eventually taking over for him and becoming the Earth’s greatest master of magic.

Cumberbatch would make a great Dr. Strange. He’s a great and accomplished actor which is known but he also has that long, skinny, wiry appearance Dr. Strange is known for. All he needs is the right goatee and he’d be a dead ringer for Strange right now. Dr. Stepehen Strange was even mention quickly in Captain America: The Winter Soldier as somebody on interest S.H.I.E.L.D. was observing so this has been a long time coming. With the upcoming Dr. Strange movie Marvel is looking to spin off their recent hit of movies into other genres besides basic superhero films. If done right a Dr. Strange movie would blend traditional superhero fare with horror since Strange spends a lot of time fighting demons and the occult. I’d love to see another R rated superhero film like 1998’s Blade.

The only question now is who will be cast as Dr. Strange’s personal manservant, Wong?

Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer ONLINE NOW!

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UPDATE: The trailer hit early and is already online here! And it looks awesome! Ultron? Check! Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch? Check! Hulkbuster armor? Sold!

 

The long awaited first trailer for Marvel’s upcoming Avengers: Age of Ultron is set to debut next week on ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. A brief glimpse of footage was shown as the San Diego comic con but the majority of the public has yet to see anything more than concept art, posters and released stills of the next installment of the Marvel movie juggernaut. The announcement was made at the end of yesterday’s episode, followed quickly by an Avengers tweet making it official.

 

Hopefully more light will be shown on the film as a result of the trailer but we do know a good amount about the movie already. Retired from the superhero gig, Tony Stark creates a robotic peace keeping force in the form of a new artificial intelligence named Ultron. When Ultron goes beyond it’s programming and threatens the globe it’s up to the Avengers to stop it and save the world. New team members to help in the fight include the speedy Quicksilver, the reality warping Scarlet Witch and the android Vision.

The Avengers: Age of Ultron opens in theaters May 1, 2015.

 

Captain America 3 will start Marvel’s Civil War

Wow. Wow. Wow. Just ….wow.

That’s all I can say when news leaked yesterday from a report in Variety that Tony Stark, ahem, excuse me, Robert Downey Jr. was set to join the production of Captain America 3. If that wasn’t enough of a bombshell the rumored story-line is set to revolve around Marvel’s Civil War.

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Civil War.

Only the greediest fanboys at the time of Iron Man’s 2008 release ever imagined we’d get an Avengers movie of the caliber delivered after they saw Nick Fury appear at the end of the film’s credits. A few kicked around the idea of how awesome it would be to see a story based on the then recent Civil War books. Now, 6 years later, that dream may be becoming a reality.

Just think. Iron Man vs. Capatain America on the big screen. The Hulk vs. Thor. Hawkeye vs. Black Widow. It’s in the works.

Marvel’s Civil War was a popular and impactful story that ran through 2006-2007. In the comic books citizens of the Marvel; Universe are used to planet wide destruction as a regular occurrence. But when a down on their luck team of inexperienced superheros tries to apprehend a dangerous criminal, live on a reality TV show no less, tragedy ensues on an unprecedented scale. Several blocks of Stamford Connecticut are obliterated, including in some eerie foreshadowing of Sandy Hook, an elementary school. Public outcry explodes. Why are there laws registering who can own a handgun but people who can shoot lasers out of their hands can walk around freely and anonymously? A superhero backlash quickly followed with the introduction and passage of the Superhuman Registration Act to put superhumans under government supervision.

The act’s biggest lobbyist becomes Tony Stark who sees the writing on the wall for his super friends after Stamford. It was only a matter of time before the government began to reign in super powered human beings and he figures it’d be better to get in front of the changing tide to soften the blow personally. On the opposing side, surprisingly at first, is Captain America, who stands against his government arguing the act is an attack on personal liberties and freedom. Lines are quickly drawn between allies as superheros such as Spider-Man come forward to the pro-registration side and reveal their secret identities or go underground and join Captain America’s anti-registration resistance group. Lots of hero vs. hero fighting ensues with the result being more destruction to the poor citizens of the Marvel U. The very thing the act had originally hoped to avert. With Iron Man moments from defeat in a New York battle royal, Captain America comes to his senses and surrenders. The cuffs are slapped on him as he’s arrested and the superhuman Civil War ends with Iron Man’s registration side prevailing.

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So where does this leave the Marvel movies? Early talk from the directors of The Winter Soldier after it’s release was that Captain America 3 would pick up where 2 left off, with Steve Rogers, and the Falcon picking up the trail of his former best friend turned assassin Bucky Barnes. I don’t see how there would be any room to continue that story line now if CA3 is going to kick start the Civil War. We know that in Avengers 2 the team must defeat the runaway artificial intelligence named Ultron. It’s no coincidence that in the movie Ultron is another of Tony Stark’s attempt at bettering the world that backfires big time. I’m gonna go out on a limb here and predict the movie will end with destruction on a global scale and a deeply remorseful Tony Stark. (again). So far all the Marvel movies have been building towards Avengers 3 in which many suspect he team squares off against Thanos, the purple jawed alien baddie who’s been collecting every powerful artifact through the movies to create a reality warping weapon called the Infinity Gauntlet. I’ll crawl out on my shaky limb to once again predict more global destruction will follow along with more public outcry.

But after Avengers 3, then what? Rumors suggested the third Avengers movie might see a changing of the guard as more recent Marvel movie heroes might step in and join the team. One of the hallmarks of the Avengers in the comics is it’s constantly rotating roster. To have the same team members again and again in the movies would actually be very un-Avengersish. Add in expiring contracts from Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. shortly after Avengers 3 and and the future seemed plain to see. A changing of the guard was being laid out before our eyes. But a Civil War could change everything.

Imagine the public outcry after Avengers 3 when the world was almost laid to waste by Thanos and his minions. of course the Avengers may have saved humanity but they sure do leave a trail of destruction in their wake. The end of Avengers 1 even alludes to this as higher ups are uncomfortable with the destruction the team brought onto NY to stop Loki’s alien invasion. In Iron man 3 we see Tony has some major anxiety over what happened in NY and by the end has given up his suits. (turning them into expensive fireworks) Captain America: The Winter Soldier exposed the dark underbelly of too much government control as Cap goes rouge against authority to fight for what he thinks is right. At the end of the movie Cap is redeemed, but SHIELD is exposed as a front for the neo nazi HYDRA organization. Clearly the need for a new form of superhero control is being laid out in the films. Clearly there is a need for a Superhero Registration Act in these movies. Give Marvel credit for one thing. They think BIG and they have a superpower in patience.

Inbetween all the upcoming movies like Ant-Man and Doctor Strange Marvel also has multiple TV shows on air or in development through ABC and Netflix. One thing the Civil War calls for is a large roster of heroes with their complex relationships to break in two. Luckily for us Marvel has heros like Daredevil, Luke Cage, Dr. Strange, Captain Marvel, Black Panther, and even the Inhumans coming down the pike. That’s quite a lineup to all come together on the big screen and it’s all possible now with the rumors of adopting the Civil War story-line. One of the best parts of the first Avengers was watching the good guys fight and argue with each other. What could be better than a whole movie of that?

Hopefully we can expect to see a bunch of ads like these coming out around the release of Captain America 3. Who’s side are you on?

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Dave “the Animal” Batista signs on to Bond 24

The new James Bond movie moves one step closer to production with the recent news from Latino Review that Dave Batista has signed on to play a villain in similar vein to iconic Bond henchmen of the past, Jaws and Odd Job. The script calls for an assassin named Hinx who is physically fit and fights with Bond multiple times.  Fresh off his breakout performance as Drax the Destroyer in 2014’s top grossing movie, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, Batista fits the bill for a physically imposing actor able to not only go toe to toe with Daniel Craig but overwhelm him as well. When you think of classic Bond villains Odd Job and Jaws come to mind immediately, so it will be nice to see the new Bond movie give another henchman a memorable role. But if Hinx puts Bond in a Batista Bomb onscreen I’m out.

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