Avengers 4 gets a trailer and a title

Marvel Studios’s fourth Avenger film got a teaser trailer and an announced title (Avengers: Endgame) today.

In the trailer, things look bleak for Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark. He’s traveling in outer space having run out of food and water and about to use up the last of his oxygen.

Meanwhile, Captain America (Chris Evans) moves to rally the surviving Marvel characters after Thanos had wiped out half of all living beings at the end of last year’s Avengers: Infinity War.

Avengers: Endgame wraps up story threads that began with the first Marvel-produced film, 2008’s Iron Man. Avengers: Infinity War had a global box office of $2.05 billion. We’ll see next spring whether the next installment draws the same kind of business. You can view the trailer below.

Avengers: Nothing exceeds like excess

Avengers: Infinity War poster

Avengers: Infinity War is too much of a good thing, even if you’re a fan of Marvel Studios films.

There are more fights, more action…more everything. (To quote a James Bond trailer from the 1960s.)

Well, not quite more everything. Not enough drama. What humor is present mostly works. But it gets overwhelmed by the action set pieces.

Avengers: Infinity War is the beginning of the end (or so we’ve been led to believe) for the first decade of the studio’s inter-connected movies.

The movie brings together not only the Avengers-related characters but also the Guardians of the Galaxy and Dr. Strange. They’re up against Thanos, a villain who wants to commit genocide on a cosmic scale.

The character has been teased for years but here he’s the main attraction. As a result, the movie changes scenes not only between Earth locales but ones in deep space.

Spoiler follows. 

Initially, this movie was announced the title was going to be Avengers: Infinity War Part I, with a 2019 film titled Avengers: Infinity War Part II. They would be filmed back to back.

Somewhere along the way we were told the  movies really would be different. So next year’s installment is simply known as Avengers 4 for the moment.

However, it would have been absolutely appropriate if Avengers: Infinity War ended with, “TO BE CONTINUED,” not unlike the original serialized Marvel Comics stories. But in the 1960s, you only had to wait a month to see how things turned out. Here, the audience will have to bide its time for a year.

That said, Avengers: Infinity War isn’t a lost cause. The likes of Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man and Chris Evans as Steve Rogers/Captain America and many other cast members are pros. But the movie is more exhausting than thrilling. GRADE: C.

How Black Panther may be the future of Marvel films

Black Panther poster

UPDATE (Feb. 19): Black Panther’s U.S. box office for Friday-Sunday ended up at $201 million, Exhibitors Relations said on Twitter. 

ORIGINAL POST (Feb. 18): Black Panther, the newest Marvel Studios film, is being celebrated as a huge moment for black America. Examples include The New York Times Magazine (“a vivid re-imagination of something black Americans have cherished for centuries”) and The Guardian (“The film is already being regarded in the US as a positive force for social change”),

It may also be a sign of Marvel’s future.

Black Panther’s estimated Friday-Sunday U.S. box office is $192 million, according to Box Office Mojo.

That figure would be (unadjusted for inflation or higher ticket prices), the No. 2 U.S. opening for Marvel. Here are the other movies in Marvel’s top five (all of which eventually topped $1 billion at the worldwide box office):

Marvel’s The Avengers (2012): $207.4 million.

Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015): $191.3 million.

Captain America: Civil War (2016): $179.1 million.

Iron Man 3 (2013): $174.1 million.

Of the Marvel top five, Black Panther (starring Chadwick Boseman) is the only one not to include Robert Downey Jr. playing Tony Stark/Iron Man.

It was 2008’s Iron Man where Marvel began making its own films, instead of licensing the rights to others. The movie became the building block upon which Marvel built is movie universe. Four years later, with Marvel’s The Avengers, the notion of a “shared universe” became big business.

Some have wondered whether Marvel could withstand Downey’s eventual departure. The actor turns 53 in April and it’s not the kind of thing you can keep doing forever. Other major Marvel actors such as Chris Evans (Captain America) and Chris Hemsworth (Thor) have reached the end of their contracts.

What’s more, the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War and an unnamed Avengers film in 2019 is intended as a kind of finale for Marvel films up to now. So, a decade after its first movie, Marvel Studios has reached a transition point.

Black Panther already is a popular and critical (a 97 percent “fresh” score on the Rotten Tomatoes website) success.

Beyond that, Black Panther shows that Marvel is capable of extending itself beyond its first decade of making movies. Black Panther seems destined to join Marvel’s billion-dollar club (it’s at $361 million globally as of this weekend). The movie also is broadening Marvel’s appeal. We’ll see what happens.

Spider-Man: Homecoming generates a $117M opening

Spider-Man: Homecoming poster

Spider-Man: Homecoming is estimated to generate box office of $117 million for its opening weekend in the U.S. and Canada, Exhibitor Relations said on Twitter.

The movie was aided by a wave of positive reviews. Spider-Man: Homecoming has a 93 percent “fresh” rating on the Rotten Tomatoes website.

This is the third version of Marvel Comics’ flagship character. This time out, Marvel Studios produced the movie while Sony Pictures released it.

With this version, Spider-Man is part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man makes an appearance.

The film also is a follow-up to last year’s Captain America: Civil War, where Spider-Man (Tom Holland) made his MCU debut.

Sony produced and released five previous Spider-Man films from 2002 to 2014.

The opening is less than the $146.5 million opening for Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 in May and a bit higher than the $103.3 million opening for Warner Bros.’s Wonder Woman last month.

Exhibitor Relations gathers and tracks entertainment industry data. Here’s the post it made on Twitter.

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About that Spider-Man: Homecoming poster…

Newest Spider-Man Homecoming poster

So the new Spider-Man: Homecoming poster is out and the reaction is….underwhelming.

Truth be told, the era of the classic movie poster passed away a long time ago, with spectacular illustrations (like THIS ONE for You Only Live Twice) phased out in favor of Photoshop efforts.

But Spider-Man: Homecoming spurred more of a reaction. Websites such as The Verge and Movie Pilot critiqued it and found it wanting.

Why so much attention to a movie poster?

Well, Spider-Man has an unusual movie history. It tooks years for Marvel’s No. 1 hero to reach the screen.

None of the five films released by Sony Pictures has done poorly at the box office, although the third Toby Maguire movie in 2007 and the second Andrew Garfield effort in 2014 absorbed some lumps from critics and fans.

Sony reached a deal with Marvel Studios where the latter would take over the heavy lifting and put the character in its universe of film superheroes. Thus, Spider-Man 3.0 (Tom Holland) debuted in last year’s Captain America: Civil War.

Now the first movie with Spidey 3.0 as the lead character is a little more than a month away. But the poster is generating some concerns including:

Is this a Spider-Man movie or an Iron Man movie? Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark has the biggest image of a human without a helmet or mask.

The largest single image is Spider-Man (which seems especially modeled after artist John Romita Sr.’s version from the comics). But Holland’s Peter Parker, while in the center, is definitely smaller than Downey/Stark.

Downey put Marvel-produced movies on the map with 2008’s Iron Man. He’s still around and it remains to be seen how Marvel’s films will perform once he’s put away his repulsor rays. So it makes sense from a marketing standpoint. Still, this is supposed to be Spidey’s show.

There seems to be a lot of clutter: You’ve got six people, Spider-Man, Iron Man, the Vulture, the New York skyline and a lot of lights.

All of this may turn out to be noise. Marvel Studios has had so many hits, the urge to find weaknesses is understandable.

While we’re at it, here’s a new trailer. It appears, at least for a time, Peter wears a Spidey suit unlike any he ever had in the comics.

Tony Stark mentors Spider-Man in new trailer

Steve Ditko’s cover to Amazing Spider-Man 33

This blog clearly erred in its look at the first Spider-Man: Homecoming trailer when it said Robert Downey Jr. made “an appearance” in the movie.

If the film’s second trailer is an indication, Downey’s Tony Stark may be doing some serious mentoring for Tom Holland’s Peter Parker.

In the trailer, Iron Man helps Spidey out with a major piece of super heroics. But Stark isn’t happy that Parker keeps taking such high profile actions instead of sticking with being “a friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.” That phrase, of course, was a punch line from the original Marvel Comics by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.

This leads to a conflict not shown in the first trailer that debuted in December.

Meanwhile, there’s more footage of Michael Keaton’s Vulture (one of the first villains introduced in the comic books) and Marisa Tomei’s Aunt May.

For Sony Pictures, there’s a lot riding on the movie. The studio cut a deal with Marvel Studios that makes this film essentially a co-production and puts the third film version of Spidey (via Holland) into Marvel’s cinematic universe.

Sony has had a rough ride of late and it’s looking for an unqualified hit. Spider-Man: Homecoming will be out in July. The new trailer is embedded below.

 

A few thoughts about Spider-Man 3.0’s trailer

Steve Ditko's cover to Amazing Spider-Man 33

Steve Ditko’s cover to Amazing Spider-Man 33

The official title is Spider-Man: Homecoming but a more accurate moniker might be Spider-Man 3.0.

The 2017 movie will be the sixth film, and third different version, of the Stan Lee-Steve Ditko character since 2002. It’s also the first Spider-Man movie produced by Marvel Studios, though it will be released by Sony Pictures, which made the five previous Spidey movies.

The latest actor to play Spider-Man, Tom Holland, 20, was introduced in Captain America: Civil War in May. Once again, Peter Parker is in high school. This time, his Aunt May (originally drawn by Ditko as elderly) is younger in the person of Marisa Tomei, 52.

The first trailer for Spider-Man homecoming was unveiled on Jimmy Kimmel’s late night talk show on ABC Dec. 8.  What follows are a few reactions:

Hedging your bets: The Marvel-Sony combo isn’t taking any chances, making sure to include an appearance by Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark.

In Captain America: Civil War, Peter Parker was already active as Spider-Man. Stark provided him an upgrade in his uniform and equipment. This, of course, is a major deviation from the original 1960s comic books but fit the plot of Civil War.

Downey is in the new trailer. Presumably, the actor will only have a cameo appearance. After all, the movie is supposed to highlight Spider-Man, not Iron Man.

What happened to Aunt May?: Tomei appears only fleetingly in the first trailer. The guess here is she’ll show up more in later trailers. One of the more amusing bits of Civil War was Downey’s Stark commenting how surprised he was by Aunt May being so hot.

Michael Keaton’s villain: Keaton, now 65, played Batman in Warner Bros. films released in 1989 and 1992. Here, he plays the Vulture, one of the earliest Spidey villains. The character was introduced in Amazing Spider-Man No. 2, published in 1963. The Vulture hasn’t yet made an appearance in the Spider-Man movies.

One tidbit not in the trailer: Spider-Man: Homecoming’s IMDB.COM ENTRY lists six writers. That can be an indicator of scripting turmoil. It remains to be seen how many actually get a credit once the Writer’s Guild of America is consulted. WGA have a bearing on the final credit.

Anyway, here’s the trailer if you haven’t seen it.

UPDATE (10:05 p.m. ET): Here’s the international trailer. While shorter, it has more Tony Stark footage, including an interesting shot toward the end.