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Posts Tagged ‘Natasha Romanoff’

The beginning of the end is near.  The next movie in the MCU, Avengers: Infinity War is less than a month away.  That will just leave Ant-Man and the Wasp, Captain Marvel (a prequel to existing films rather than a continuation), and then an as yet untitled Avengers film, with it Phase Three will be over.  And with the end of Phase Three we will potentially see the end of some of the characters.  It has been reported that the following actors intend to hang-up their super hero costumes next year: Chris Evans (Steve Rogers aka Captain America), Robert Downey Jr. (Tony Stark aka Iron Man), Chris Hemsworth (Thor). Chris Evans Robert Downey Jr Chris Hemsworth

This will leave just Tom Holland (Peter Parker aka Spider-Man), and Chadwick Boseman (T’Challa aka Black Panther) as the only remaining Avengers deemed significant enough to have their own films.  They will be joined by any surviving cast.  They can’t simply recast, this will be conspicuous at best, disastrous at worst.  There is another answer within the existing cast: Natalie Portman (Jane Foster), Sebastian Stan (Bucky Barnes aka The Winter Soldier aka White Wolf), Don Cheadle (Lieutenant James Rhodes aka War Machine).Natalie Portman Sebastian Stan Don Cheadle

In the comic books on which the MCU is based, these characters have all taken on the part of other heroes: Bucky Barnes – Captain America, James Rhodes – Iron Man, Jane Foster – Thor. Bucky Barnes Captain America Don Cheadle Iron Man Jane Foster Thor

There have been many other incarnations of the comic books where existing characters have taken on the mantle of other heroes, they include Sam Wilson aka Falcon as Captain America and Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow as Thor. Sam Wilson Captain America and Natasha Romanoff Thor

You may remember the scene in Avengers: Age of Ultron when the Avengers take it in turns to try and lift Mjolnir, all except  Black Widow, should this tell us something?

Having said all this, they could just introduce some new characters! 

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Ever since the explosion of comic book/superhero movies there has been calls for a female led movie.  At times it has looked like no studio would take the chance on such a project, but there could now be a race to see who gets there first.  There are three major players in comic book movies, the Disney owned Marvel Studios, DC/Warner Bros. and Sony who own the rights to Spider-Man (and many associated characters) thanks to license agreement between Marvel and Columbia (a subsidiary of Sony Pictures Entertainment).

Sony could be first out the blocks,  it appears Amazing Spider-Man 3 has been pushed back and will follow a Sinister Six movie in 2016 and an female led spin-off possibly in 2017.  Lisa Joy Nolan (Pushing Daisies, Burn Notice and the forthcoming  Westworld) has been hired to write but no announcement has been made about who the main character will be.  The most obvious options are Spider-Woman and Black Cat,  the latter being the frontrunner as her alter ego, Felicia Hardy (Felicity Jones) was introduced in The Amazing Spider-Man 2.  I know nothing about the character, a little research tells me she was introduced in Amazing Spider-Man No. 194 (1979) and has been both an adversary and love interest of Peter Parker/Spider-Man.  I know about as much (or little) about Spider-Woman.  It appears several woman took the name, most notably Jessica Drew, Julia Carpenter and Mattie Franklin. originally introduced in Marvel Spotlight #32 (Feb. 1977) she went on to have her own self-titled series (1978 – 1983).Felicia Hardy Felicity Jones

DC have two options, Wonder Woman or Catwoman.  A Catwoman movie is unlikely at this time thanks to the last attempt, Catwoman (2004).  This leavers Wonder Woman.  First appearing in All Star Comics #8 in December 1941, Wonder Woman is an Amazon warrior princess, known in her homeland as Princess Diana of Themyscira, she uses the pseudonym Diana Prince.  She has a range of superhuman powers and an array of weapons as you would expect for a comic book hero.  Gal Gadot has been cast to play the part in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (set for release March 2016) with a possible  Wonder Woman and Justice League movie to follow, no dates announced.Gal Gadot Wonder Woman

Marvel already have their character but don’t seem to know what to do with her:  Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow made her first comic book appearance in Tales of Suspense #52 (April 1964).  She was introduced into the current Marvel film universe in Iron Man 2 (2010) played by Scarlett Johansson, also appearing in Avengers Assemble (2012) and Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) and will appear in Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015).  Little more than window dressing in Iron Man 2, she and Clint Barton / Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) were the most interesting characters in Avengers Assemble and added a further dimension to the character in Captain America: The Winter Soldier this year.  Anyone concerned about the star power of Scarlett Johansson should take a look at the numbers for Luc Besson’s Lucy.Black Widow

Is it a question of who gets there first, or who gets it right?  The success of the rubbish Transformers: Age of Extinction and the failure of the excellent Edge of Tomorrow there is more to success than quality.  With budgets of up to $250million studios are more interested in fanatical success than art or critical acclaim. With this in mind, it isn’t a case of who has the best character, script or idea, but the one who thinks he can turn a profit.  It might be a case of wait and see what the competition do.

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After reviewing every film I saw for a year back in 2010 I tend not to write many reviews especially for big movies where everyone including far more eloquent writers than me have their say. This doesn’t stop my own occasional musings. WARNING to anyone who hasn’t seen the movie, there are spoilers ahead.Captain America The Winter Soldier

The Marvel movie has suddenly grown up. Captain America: The Winter Soldier plays like a 1970s political thriller, a theme that is fuelled by the presence of Robert Redford. The great thing about the movie is how it has done this without losing the fun of other movies within the franchise. This 70’s style has been well publicised and discussed but it goes deeper than that. 70’s thrillers were all about uncertainty and paranoia and that is what we get here, but its a different type of paranoia. Where in the past we looked outwards, these days it is all about looking inwards. Can we trust our own governments? This is a post 9-11 paranoia, a surveillance state paranoia. This makes the film a powerful allegory for a time and therefore a historical document that it will be interesting to look back on many years from now.captain-america-robert-redford

It would be very easy to film about the fish out of water as Steve Rogers adapts to the modern world. As well as avoiding this, the movie actually makes a joke of it with Rogers making a list of things he has missed that people recommend to him. It appears that there may be regional differences. The version I saw included the 1966 World Cup final and Sean Connery, I have heard of a version that includes Oldboy. Instead of letting this idea overpower the plot it is kept constantly there but in the background. Through the involvement of Captain America the modern world is constantly held up against “The Greatest Generation”, this is where the idea of doing what is right rather than what is easy or what is expected comes from.steve rogers list

In the spirit of leaving an audience wanting more, there are at least five characters in the movie I would like to see get a more prominent role in a future film or even their own film:

  • Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson)
  • Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson)
  • Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell)
  • Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders)
  • Agent 13 (Emily VanCamp)Black Widow Nick Fury Peggy Carter Maria Hill Agent 13

Who is Sharon Carter / Agent 13 (Emily VanCamp)? Steve Rogers’ neighbour “Kate” unsurprisingly turns out to be an undercover S.H.I.E.L.D. agent assigned to protect Rogers. A little online research tells me that in the comic books (I have never read any Captain America) the character was originally the younger sister of Peggy Carter but a change in continuity turned her into Peggy’s niece.

Throughout the movie Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow: (Scarlett Johansson) is seen wearing a necklace with an arrow on it. A possible reference to the archer Clint Barton/ Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) who she was clearly close to in The Avengers. I guess we will find out more in Avengers: Age of Ultron and the announced Black Widow movie.black widow arrow necklace

Did everyone spot the Pulp Fiction joke? If you didn’t take a look at Nick Fury’s gravestone “The path of the righteous man. Ezekiel 25:17.”

The mid credit stinger is an interesting one. it introduces two character referred to as The Twins. They are clearly Wanda Maximoff / Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Pietro Maximoff / Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) who have already been for : Age of Ultron. The interesting thing about the characters is how they will fit into the Avengers universe. As mentioned above, I haven’t ready any Captain America but have read some X Men. In the original comic books Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver are the children of Magneto. As such a different version of Pietro Maximoff / Quicksilver is set appear in X-Men: Days of Future Past played by Evan Peters. With the mutant part of the Marvel universe under license to Fox it was only a matter of time before they both lay claim to a character.

The conclusion of the film sees what is effectively the end of S.H.I.E.L.D. as we know it. I am sure a future film we see a rebirth, however until that time, how will it affect Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) and his team in the TV show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.? The continuity of the show appears to run alongside the movies, episode 8 The Well is set in the aftermath of the events of Thor: The Dark World. Clearly the show can exist outside the continuity of t.he movies, however to make such an effort to run them alongside each other they are clearly going to remain that way. This leaves some interesting plot possibilities. Agents of shield

Captain America: The Winter Soldier represents the mid point of Marvels Phase Two. Iron Man 2 was the only misstep in Marvels “Phase One”, with this in mind I am looking forward to the the next two instalments: Guardians of the Galaxy (Aug 2014) and Avengers: Age of Ultron (May 2015).

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Thor and The Hulk are difficult characters within the Marvel universe. They are big brash characters that should be cinematic, and in some ways they are, but in others they are just a little dull and limited. The great success of Iron Man (2008) and Iron Man 3 (2013) is that we see more of Tony Stark than of Iron Man. The biggest failure of Iron Man 2 (2010) is its reliance on Iron Man and not Tony Stark. And that is possibly why The Hulk has never really worked in his own movie, the various filmmakers have never found a balance between Banner and The Hulk.Thor and The Hulk

When the first Thor film came out two years ago I wasn’t really interested. I have never read any Thor comic books and knew nothing of the character. I was also sceptical of how a fantasy character would fit into the Marvel universe as seen in Iron Man. I went to see it out of curiosity and to see what Kenneth Branagh was doing with a film so far from what you would expect for him. The result was a total surprise. It fulfilled every expectation for an action adventure movie, but I never expected it to be so funny and such good fun. Tom Hiddleston who I had never heard of at the time was brilliant. Natalie Portman is sensational in everything she does. Stellan Skarsgård was surprisingly funny. Kat Dennings isn’t the best actress in the world but she is always adorable and her character is always hilarious. All the same is true of Thor: The Dark World, it also gives Idris Elba and Rene Russo a little more to do. All things considered it isn’t as good as the first movie, but it is still great fun and ticks all the boxes you expect it to tick.Thor The Dark World

The Hulk had the most memorable moment of The Avengers but until that point he had never really made his mark in movies. Despite its reputation, the Ang Lee movie from 2003 wasn’t bad. Eric Bana wasn’t a bad Bruce Banner. But it was just that, not bad, no better. The next movie, The Incredible Hulk (2008) was better and Edward Norton was actually really good. But the character never truly worked until The Avengers (2012). Mark Ruffalo is the perfect Bruce Banner, his banter with Robert Downey Jr’s Tony Stark was brilliant, but more importantly the plot actually found a way to use The Hulk including the movies aforementioned best moment with Tom Hiddleston’s Loki.The Hulk

The success of The Hulk in The Avengers is partly down to the time constraints of an ensemble movie, but Thor has hade it work Twice. As mentioned at the top, there is no getting away from the fact Thor is a limited character. In the first movie he was a fish out of water, in the avengers he was one of a collective, in the second Thor movie a lot of the plot is developed without Thor (Chris Hemsworth). This is a brave move, but one that pays of thanks to such a strong supporting cast. This is what The Hulk needs, if he is going to have his own movie again. That, however looks unlikely at the moment. While I am sure Marvel haven’t given up on the big green fella he doesn’t appear to be in Marvels plans at the moment beyond The Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015). Other forthcoming Marvels movies are: Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014), Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), Ant-Man (2015) and possibly a Nick Fury movie after that. While I wouldn’t mind seing another Hulk movie I would be more interested in seeing move of Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Clint Barton / Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner).MARVEL'S THE AVENGERS

Ultimately they are two characters that have a lot to offer but with limited cinematic appeal, one has been perfectly handled and scripted to overcome the limitations, the other that is yet to live up to its potential. As the first phase of The Avengers got under way, I don’t think anyone expected the immediate future of the franchise to be dominated by Iron Man/Tony Stark, but that is what happened. This is all down to great scripts and the charisma of Robert Downey Jr. In Mark Ruffalo, they have the perfect actor, if they are going to give the hulk another go they just need to find a great script.

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I am not going to review Iron Man 3, why bother there are probably already three hundred reviews online, most of them by better reviewers than me and some of them who actually got paid for the privilege! However I couldn’t let the movie come and go without passing comment, after all, it is a significant movie in the history of Marvel and given the significance of Marvel in recent movie history that makes it a significant movie full stop!iron man 3

When it was announced that Jon Favreau would not direct the third Iron Man movie no one would expect the chosen a director to be one whose only other movie was flop nearly a decade ago. However anyone who has seen the fantastic Kiss Kiss Bang Bang will know that Shane Black was the perfect choice. Possibly the first step in the resurrection and reinvention of Robert Downey Jr.s career. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang was smart, funny and dark, the perfect movie of Downey Jr. just like Iron Man. Better known as a writer, Black is responsible for the Lethal Weapon movies, The Last Boy Scout and The Long Kiss Goodnight as well as Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. It therefore comes as no surprise that he brings a lot of dark comedy to the charter, possibly even more than in the first two movies. This really works taking the movie to a different level, making it equally as good as, if not better than the first movie and certainly righting the wrongs of the second movie. It is also filled with other Black trade marks: kidnapping as a plot device, black comedy, set at Christmastime. But these are little more than window dressing and comfort blankets for the director. The real flair is the self awareness he brings to a character trying to rebuild himself.kiss kiss bang bang

I started writing something a few years ago (I don’t think I ever finished it) about how the characters in films (if they were real people in the real world) would go back to their daily lives after a significant event. For example, John McClane may be good at taking down a group of terrorists, but what’s he like as a detective doing a day to day job? This was touched upon in the third Die Hard movie but never explored. I didn’t expect to see it explored in a superhero movie through the eyes of the hero character, a brave and risky plot with a character that is seminal to the future of The Avengers franchise as well as the hugely profitable Iron Man movies. This is achieved through Stark’s inability to deal with the aftermath of the events of The Avengers. This along with a plot device that I won’t spoil, results in Stark spending a lot of time out of the Iron Man suit, this is a good thing and a brave choice. The film is at its best at these times. Without straying into reviews or risking plot spoilers, the villains are perfectly conceived and portrayed, there are also seamlessly intertwined with the stark/Iron Man plot. This is a movie written as a movie, a complete and integrated story and not one where a committee has listed all the elements and plot points that have to be shoehorned in.

Thor The Dark World

Back to the significance of the movie. The first Iron Man existed as a sci-fi movie set on the edge of reality, this places the character closer to The Dark Knight than Thor (leading to the question how will Batman fit into DC’s hero collective, The Justice League?), whose introduction, along with the rest of the Avengers marked a movement more towards total fantasy. Where the Avengers dropped the characters, if not the audience into this new world without warning, Iron Man 3, drags us back, takes a look at what happened then lets us move on. This is an important step for the franchise to take to give it a future, it creates a neat bridge between the world of the first Iron Man and the future of the franchise. And that is the important thing. A film has to exist in a believable world that obeys its own rules or it risks alienating or distracting its audience by taking them out of the story.

captain america and  black widow

So what next? The Avengers 2 is set for release in two years time and little is know about it yet. Before that Thor: The Dark World is in the can and will be in cinema’s towards the end of this year, early synopsis’ suggest a plot surrounding protecting Jane Foster from “the denizens of the dark world of Svartalfheim”. Captain America: The Winter Soldier is out next spring and is set to feature a prominent role for Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow. There is no sign of a further Hulk movie. This makes me wonder, where will the Avengers villain come from? Loki from the first Avengers movie had been introduced in the first Thor movie. Will the primary villain of the next movie be introduced in a similar way, in either Captain America: The Winter Soldier or Thor: The Dark World? I would suggest Captain America the more likely of the two simply for balance, and the balance of power in the collective. But then you have the curveball, Guardians of the Galaxy is set to go into production shortly and scheduled for release next year. It is being made by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures (owners of Marvel) and not a co production, will it exist in the same universe or cross over with The Avengers? In comic books the Guardians of the Galaxy originally existed in an alternate universe within the Marvel Comics continuity but now exists in the mainstream Marvel Universe with Tony Stark/Iron Man as a member. Only time will tell, but based on what I have seen so far I am looking forward to finding out.

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Already the most talked about movie of the year so far, the one thing we don’t need is another review of The Avengers. Therefore I am going to try and avoid reviewing the movie other than to say I have seen it, and I loved it. So what follows are just a ramblings and thoughts on the franchise and where it is going. To begin with, lets get one thing straight, the new UK title Marvel Avengers Assemble is a bit of a mouthful and is frankly crap so from this moment on I will refer to the movie as The Avengers.

Making a movie of The Avengers must have seemed like a good idea, but how do you bring together a disparate group of characters in a coherent story? By starting with a series of movies involving the individual characters gives a strong base and also solves the problem of protracted introductions of multiple characters. The problem, it builds expectations of the fans and risks alienating the uninitiated. The greatest challenge is probably containing Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark / Iron Man who could run away with the whole movie, but there is even more to it than that. How do you use Bruce Banner and The Hulk within the team? To add to this problem Mark Ruffalo is the third Bruce Banner in less than a decade, do you introduce him again or go with an assumed back story? Then you have Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Clint Barton / Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) who have made fleeting appearances but have not had their own movies, they also seem to lack any supper abilities. Slotting the two fish out of water character, Steve Rogers / Captain America (Chris Evans) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) into the mix also has its challenges. If you can solve all these problems you then need a suitable villain. The X-Men movies accomplish this by using multiple villains to pair off against the heroes, this works for them but The Avengers are a very different group to The X-Men. Loki (Tom Hiddleston) was a great choice, having already been introduced in Thor we already know his back story. He is also an interesting villain with a typically comic book agenda.

Where do you start a project like this? The director. It would have been easy to pick one of the successful directors of the earlier films: Jon Favreau (Iron Man), Joe Johnston (Captain America: The First Avenger), Kenneth Branagh (Thor), but the avengers needs to be its own movie not an Iron Man or Thor sequel. My interest certainly increased when Joss Whedon’s name was attached to the project. To put it simply, Whedon just gets it. Treating the group as a dysfunctional family whose personalities get in the way whenever they are put in a room together. This clash is what makes the movie funny, but it is also the basis that makes the team work as just that, a team. The key to the success is the relationships, as a group of individuals they are defined by the way they interact. Tony Stark and Steve Rogers are like bickering siblings, but Iron Man and Captain America are a proficient team. The biggest beneficiary of the Whedon effect is Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow who is promoted from little more than eye candy in Iron Man 2. She is funny and sexy and is a surprisingly deep character. There has to be some mileage in giving Black Widow an origin movie of her own or possible one shared with Hawkeye. Given his background of ass kicking female characters (Buffy/River/Echo), Joss Whedon would be the perfect director to take it on.

One of the first things I noticed about the film was the unusually narrow aspect ratio (1.85:1), the fact that I completely forgot this within a few minutes suggests it wasn’t important and the chosen format worked. I have read that Cinematographer Seamus McGarvey chose the ratio to help frame the unusually tall characters like The Hulk along side normal and short characters. It has also been mentioned that Joss Whedon favoured this ratio of the more normal wider ratios with his climatic Manhattan, sequence in mind.

Given the least back-story I wondered where Clint Barton / Hawkeye would fit in to the story. He is actually really important to the plot and along with Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow give the team and the movie a grounding. It all helps in the meteoric rise of Jeremy Renner, I had little idea who he was a few years ago, I vaguely remember him in 28 Weeks Later and S.W.A.T. and have no recollection of him in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. His breakthrough performance came in The Hurt Locker where he received a much deserved Oscar nomination. Clearly Hollywood was just as impressed as I was, he has found his way into three big franchises. As well as Hawkeye in The Avengers he also landed a part in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol that is rumoured as a future replacement for Tom Cruise as the main star of the franchise. Later this year he will appear in The Bourne Legacy, possibly the first part of a new trilogy.

With a positive response from critics and a strong box-office this will not be the only time we see the Avengers assemble, but here dose the franchise go from here? Avengers 2, Iron Man 3, Captain America 2, Thor 2, The Hulk 3 (or rebooted)? Probably all of the above. As mentioned above I would also like to see a Black Widow and/or a Hawkeye prequel/origin. There is also space for a Nick Fury stand alone movie. Not to mention all the other Marvel Characters who could appear. The most obvious would be Spider-Man, this probably isn’t possible at them moment as Sony currently own the rights (along with Ghost Rider). A similar problem exists with Fox who hold: The X-Men, Daredevil and The Fantastic Four. This isn’t a bad thing as I am happy to see the Avengers and X-Men universes kept apart.

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