The original Star Wars Trilogy has been through a lot of changes over the years, starting in 1997 with the release of the Special Editions. The Special Editions allowed George Lucas to tweak here and there and hype up the then-forthcoming prequel trilogy. Additional changes were made with subsequent home video/DVD/Blu-ray releases.
If you ever wondered just what changes were made to the original Star Wars Trilogy, Marcelo Zuniga has compiled the various differences in a series of handy videos.
(Personal aside from grandpa Hubert here: I remember the Special Editions were quite novel and exciting in the 1990s. I even saw all three Special Edition films in the theaters. And yes, I wore an onion on my belt, that being the fashion at the time. In retrospect, many of the additions to the Special Editions are superfluous, and others just down right egregious.)
Give the videos a look after the jump.read + comment
Despite our circle ranting and raving over Pixels, it seems it's gone largely unnoticed. Ultimately losing out to Ant-Man's $24.7 million with $24 million, Pixels is only in second place. It doesn't really matter since Sandler's films always do much better in the worldwide market. And it's not like it's going to be a big hit for his career anyway since his contract with Sony is up now.
He'll be on Netflix and you're free to ignore him however you wish.
Hit the jump for the rest of the box office performances for the July 24-26 weekend.
[via Rentrak]... read + comment
Alex Cox's Repo Man is one of the key films in the cult canon. Defying traditional cinematic taxonomy, Cox's debut offered a social critique in the guise of a genre-mash: LA noir, LA punk, Cold War paranoia, drive-in sci-fi, all bound by characters who are deadbeats or whose lives have hit dead-ends. Ronald Reagan's optimistic re-election slogan in 1984 was "It's morning again in America." Repo Man seems to sneer back, "Fuck you—I'm sleeping in."
Bring up Repo Man among movie nerds and you're likely to hear one of the film's quotable lines: "Let's go get sushi and not pay," “Let's go do some crimes," or "Ordinary fuckin' people—I hate 'em!" It's as if the script was assembled from the best snippets of conversations overheard in dive bars and bus depots.
Repo Man's cult canonization came immediately thanks to video stores, where many Gen-Xers and older millennials first discovered the film. While VHS and rental culture made Repo Man what it is today (Criterion Collection spine #654), the movie seems mostly concerned with television as a structural device and as a metaphor for consumerism. There's something ugly about the tube at its worst, and by becoming the new hearth in the home, TV debased the American Dream.
[The Cult Club is where Flixist's writers expound the virtues of their favourite underground classics, spanning all nations and genres. It is a monthly series of articles looking at what made those films stand out from the pack, as well as their enduring legacy.]... read + comment
I really have no idea where to start with this. Usually when I sit down to write a review I'll have an angle by which to tackle a film, but with Pixels, I'm at a loss. I don't really know who the film is for. Is it a comedy appealing to gamer culture? Nope...unless you're still playing Pac-Man. Is it for kids? I wouldn't think so since it's got so many jokes they wouldn't understand...until you see Q'Bert peeing himself. Is it for the 30/40 year olds who would remember these arcade games fondly? Not really unless you hate yourself for not growing up. Is it even for Adam Sandler fans? Uh, no to that either since he's lacking the bite he arguably still has.
So what even is this? Pixels is a film that would've excelled in theaters about thirty years ago with all of the bad and good implications that come with it.... read + comment
It's pretty obvious why America loves boxing movies despite the fact that boxing itself is dwindling in popularity. Ever since Rocky the genre has proven that it can easily deliver the best of what we want out of our sports movies. There's the training montage, the climatic final fight and, for the most part, the tale of an underdog.
The latest entry into the world of boxing movies is Southpaw, a film that is clearly about boxing and clearly made out of the parts of a boxing movie. Those two things are facts and they can't be denied. It doesn't mean that a good boxing movie was made.... read + comment
Partners in Crime is the reason I love the New York Asian Film Festival. It's the reason I love film festivals in general. It's the sort of gem that you will likely never see outside of a festival. I have always been impressed with the Taiwanese cinema that this festival in particular brings out. Twice since I started going they've done a "Taiwanese Cinema Now" that showed off unique and fascinating films that made me interested in just seeing more.
Partners in Crime is the sort of film that interests me. It's a film where kids who live in a city go to a school in a jungle in the middle of that city. A girl commits suicide and three high school students find her. And suddenly they're inextricably linked by this event. The nerd, the outcast, and the delinquent. They would never be friends, but they bond over a mutual desire to understand what could have convinced her to jump.
What follows is intriguing and shocking, portrayed beautifully with some of the most compelling images I've seen on a theater screen in quite some time. Every single moment drips with style, and as the narrative unfolds and the events take on an even darker turn, the beauty of the images creates a fascinating clash. These dirty events are portrayed cleanly, with absolute precision. The geography may be warped, and the character reactions twisted, but it feels oddly natural. This is particularly true in the use of social media, as the trio build a case based on a trail ostensibly left by the jumper. Later, underserved public shaming brought to mind the horror film Unfriended. But where Unfriended spent its entire runtime on that sort of thing, Partners in Crime uses it as just another part of the world, to build up this alternate reality where things may be just a little off, but not quite enough to be disquieting. You'll notice the weirdness, but you'll brush it off, because the execution leaves little room for criticism.
It's sad that films like Partners in Crime don't get the kind of exposure they deserve, but it kind of makes sense. I've probably downplayed the weirdness of this film, because I spend so much time watching weird Asian movies that it's become hard to faze me. Increasingly, it all feels "normal," whatever that means. In reality, though, I think it's as niche as the film festival that showed it. But that's a shame, because I want everyone to see the film. I want us all to love it together, to discuss it and remember all of its amazing little moments. To think about just how clever and insidious its narrative is.
But even if I can't discuss it with anybody, I'll still have that. And I certainly won't forget it.... read + comment
The first big Mockingjay trailer debuted last month at Comic-Con, but now the rest of us plebs get to scope it out too. Our biggest glimpse yet at the franchise's big finale (well, until they convince Suzanne Collins to write a prequel movie or whatever in 10 years) really play up the "final confrontation" and "all-out war" angles. The trailer depicts Jennifer Lawrence's Katniss leading a rebellion right up to the steps of the Capitol, but also finds time to give us plenty of footage of characters shooting pained or hopeful glances at each other and embracing each other meaningfully. There are also...like, tar monsoons and zombie monster things? It's been a long time since I actually read Mockingjay (the book) and I don't remember it all that well behind it being supremely disappointing in a lot of ways, so I'll just take the movie's word for it that that's from the source material. Anyway, take a look at the trailer below and get hype for the movie:
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 opens Nov. 20. The movie also stars Natalie Dormer, Elizabeth Banks, Donald Sutherland and Phillip Seymour Hoffman.... read + comment
Earlier this week the trailer for The Revenant was released, the highly anticipated new film from Birdman director Alejandro González Iñárritu starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy. Set for a Christmas release, the film is a brutal tale of wilderness survival. Iñárritu and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki have shot the film entirely on-location in the wild, doing everything in sequence with long takes that involve ornate blocking, and using only natural light.
Ambition has its price. According to a feature in The Hollywood Reporter, The Revenant is now $40 million over budget, the ending has yet to be shot, and some crew members have called the production "a living hell." The long takes have been a major issue--a battle sequence that initially involved 60 extras ballooned to 200 extras and had to be re-blocked--but the weather hasn't been cooperative either. Sometimes the crew was working in 40-below-zero temperatures, while other times it was so warm that the snow had melted. (The shoot is relocating from Canada to Argentina to finish the movie.)
It's been a troubled production overall, with major tension between Iñárritu and producer Jim Skotchdopole. Skotchdopole was supposedly banned from set due to poor planning and this tension, rumors that Iñárritu denies. (He's been "redeployed" to a trailer off set.)
Iñárritu stands by his film as production continues, stressing the importance of the approach and the reason it's worthwhile. The director told The Hollywood Reporter:
If we ended up in greenscreen with coffee and everybody having a good time, everybody will be happy, but most likely the film would be a piece of shit... When you see the film, you will see the scale of it. And you will say, 'Wow.'
There might be something to it.
Many troubled film productions wind up being these remarkable works of art. Take Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now (chronicled in the doc Hearts of Darkness), Werner Herzog's Fitzcarraldo (chronicled in the doc The Burden of Dreams and the book Conquest of the Useless), Steven Spielberg's Jaws, and, most recently, George Miller's Mad Max: Fury Road. Problems with weather, financing, and ambition led to major hassles in each of these films, and yet somehow they were completed in the face of adversity. It makes the movies seem more passionate and more urgent, like the filmmakers are pouring the last of their creative reserves into the film. It's as if making the movie is a matter of life and death.
Then again, troubled productions can also lead to bad ends. The other night I finally caught Lost Soul, which covers the insanely difficult production of 1996's The Island of Dr. Moreau. The film was initially going to be the idiosyncratic vision of low-budget horror auteur Richard Stanley (Hardware). A combination of wretched weather, the egos of Val Kilmer and Marlon Brando, personal tragedies, and Stanley's inexperience with a major Hollywood production led to the film's decline. The dream turned into fiasco. I'm also reminded of Persistence of Vision, which covers Richard Williams' heartbreaking, decades-long attempt to make The Thief and the Cobbler.
That's the burden of dreams, particularly when dreaming big. But what we often want out of art is something we haven't seen before, and to experience the beauty of impossible dreams.
Fitzcarraldo may have the best image of this struggle to create when the universe seems to be conspiring against you: a man trying to drag a 320-ton steamship over a mountain. It's all so quixotic and Sisyphean. Why attempt something impossible even though there may be no remuneration or recognition for the endeavor?
Like Werner Herzog said: "If I abandon this project, I would be a man without dreams and I don't want to live like that."
Maybe it is better to rule in hell than to serve in heaven.read + comment
Spoilers ahead if you haven't seen Ant-Man yet, but they're not that big anyway.
The film opens with Hank Pym quitting S.H.I.E.L.D. in a pretty prolific fashion, but that wasn't always the original plan. Director Peyton Reed revealed that the initial scene was going to be more like a detached Bond opening action sequence starring Hank Pym as Ant-Man.
It was basically a standalone sequence where you really did not see it was Hank Pym. He was retrieving some microfilm from this, originally Cuban general and then it because a Panamanian general… It really was designed in those early drafts to be almost like a Bond movie standalone scene in the beginning. It was going to show the powers. You never saw Ant-Man, it almost felt like an Invisible Man sequence, and it’s really, really cool.
That actually does sound super cool, and a bit risky since you'd never see the hero. It didn't make the final cut, however, as Reed says it turned out too detached from the movie. That doesn't make all the sense in the world considering that's the point of the Bond-like openings, but we'll take his word for it. It does make sense when we learn that the scene was a hold over from the Edgar Wright version of the movie and was originally going to be set in Cuba in 1960 until the time line shifted when Wright left the project.
The exciting thing is that we could actually see this in the future. The scene was completely shot and edited so it still exists and could be released at some point. Maybe Marvel will do it as a Marvel One-Shot, which would be pretty awesome or maybe we'll just see it on the Blu-ray. Reed isn't saying how it will come out, but he seems pretty sure it will.... read + comment
Pieta in The Toilet is done a disservice by its name. From the country that brought us Zombie Ass: Toilet of the Dead, there are certain expectations that come with a name of that sort. And the use of such a well-known religious image, the Pieta, makes it sound like something sacrilegious and disgusting. But it’s not that. On some level, it’s much worse than that, because a gross-out comedy wouldn’t feel like a sucker punch to the gut. You’d watch, laugh or revolt, and then talk about it. You wouldn’t cry about it or reflect on your own life (except, perhaps, in a “Why did I watch that?” sort of way). Pieta in the Toilet makes you think and feel, and if you have somebody, anybody in your life who you love, a little bit afraid.
Pieta In the Toilet is about a young man with cancer. A former painter who gave up and became a lonely window washer collapses on the job one day, minutes after scolding a new hire for fainting when looking down the building they were working on. It’s ironic, almost funny, except for what that moment means. He goes in, and then he has to go back. At the hospital he runs into a young girl and ropes her into playing his sister. They both find out he has cancer, the fatal kind that refuses to respond to treatment.
What follows is sad, as he grows closer to this young girl. It could be creepy, but he (fortunately) has no interest in her. He simply needs companionship, as his family lives out in rural Japan while he’s in the city. Their relationship is fascinating, because she is fascinating. He is hard to feel for, except on a fundamental empathy-for-human-suffering level. But where he ends up is fascinating and certainly bittersweet. Where she ends up is just bitter, though that is no less fascinating.
The final couple of seconds of Pieta in the Toilet are the most interesting I’ve seen in a movie in quite some time. After a moment that seems to be a fitting ending, there is just one more shot. It’s brief, a return to a different perspective. It seems like it shouldn’t be the one that mattered, but there it is. The more I think about it, the more I think I understand it, about the impact of a loss on their survivors rather than on the loss itself.
It’s a powerful choice, a potentially dangerous one that pays off in retrospect. I didn’t know what to expect from Pieta in the Toilet, and I seriously considered skipping the late showing, but I’m glad I stayed, even if it did break my heart.... read + comment
It's hard to make a rip-off of X-Men without hundreds of millions of dollars to back up the production. With a relatively minimal budget, any version of the mutants with superpowers who have to fight other mutants with (better) superpowers is going to be a less interesting film. In order to stand out, it has to do something unique, something to make you think, "I was only thinking about X-Men most of the time" rather than, "I'd rather watch X-Men: The Last Stand" (the latter of which is just about the cruelest thing you could say).
Strayer's Chronicle stands out because it takes the whole mutant thing and adds physical and psychological breakdowns to the equation. They weren't really "born" mutants so much as they were "created" mutants. There were two types: one created by stressing pregnant mothers and the other by directly changing DNA. When the stressed mutants overuse their powers, they go insane. (A past member of the group went so crazy that he literally crushed his own head (I think).) Modified mutants, on the other hand, are designed to die. Their powers age their cells rapidly, and they aren't intended to exist past their teens. And since they weren't meant to live long enough to raise offspring, they cannot reproduce.
Much of the film, in between acceptable-at-best action sequences, is spent forlornly contemplating the end. The end of their lives and also the end of humanity in general. Because everything will come to an end, whether mutants accelerate that process or not. By delving into the apparent consequences of trying to play god, it makes for an interesting discussion piece. I don't know that it's "profound," but it was a valiant attempt to even try. The effects are meh. The action is low key. Characters across the board change motivations on a dime and are impossible to keep track of. But through it all is that constant reminder: We will all die someday. And that oh-so-bleak take on an overused conceit makes Strayer's Chronicle worth seeing.... read + comment
When director Ryuichi Hiroki came out to introduce Kabukicho Love Hotel, he said something to the effect of, “Please stay through the credits. After the credits, you will see some hope.” It wasn’t really advice so much as it was a warning: “You’re about to watch something that is going to crush your spirits.”
I’m glad he said that, because it gave me time to prepare. It also made me dread everything that was to come. Things don’t go wrong right away, so you have to watch people being happy (or at least not sad) knowing full well that life isn’t going to turn out alright. And even though the credits themselves (not just the stinger) offer glimpses of hope, the movie doesn’t really offer much of it.
It takes place, unsurprisingly, in a love hotel. Throughout the day, people come and go, and we get to see bits and pieces of their lives. We find out who they are, what they want, and why they’re at the love hotel. Each story is unique and compelling, and it’s the ensemble that makes Kabukicho Love Hotel a great film. The characters all feel natural, so you’re particularly crushed when you’re hit with the realization that a relationship is about to end or that someone is in physical danger. The film uses a handheld style and long takes that give everything a naturalistic feel, like they’re real things being documented. And that’s almost true, since many of the shots were done in a single take with little to no rehearsal. That leads to moments of silence in long takes that likely would have been shortened or cut entirely had there been more time spent on them, but it’s in those quiet moments where any other film would cut that Kabukicho Love Hotel feels alive. Sometimes those shots are exhausting, but they never feel excessive.
You want them to cut away, but it’s because you want to be let off the hook. You don’t want to see what’s happening to the characters. But regardless of what you want, the characters will keep going down the paths that lead to their own destruction. You can’t look away, and the film won’t let you.... read + comment
While Sam Mendes may not return to direct another James Bond outing, this new trailer for Spectre makes a strong case that Mendes should do 007 films in perpetuity.
You just read that sentence in Christoph Waltz's voice.
You have the chills? I have the chills.
Fast cars, danger, an excellent-looking Mexico City scene (assuming that's the pre-credits vignette), and also a beefed-up version of the theme from On Her Majesty's Secret Service, more proof that On Her Majesty's Secret Service has the best Bond theme of all time.
Thoughts on the matter? Talk Bond in the comments.
Spectre comes out in the UK on October 26 and in the United States on November 6.... read + comment
I Alone is a film about a lot of things. It's about political corruption and kidnapping, sure, but it's also about responsibility and staying true to one's own beliefs. It's about fighting until the bitter end, because if you persevere, you will overcome. (Probably.)
It starts innocuously enough: The horoscope says that Libras should do things they don't normally do. So an aging salaryman with no social life decides to steal a car owned by a wealthy-type with a henchman. A delinquent high schooler sees the theft and takes chase. After catching the man, they realize that there is a baby in the back seat, in a cardboard box no less. What follows is a zany adventure of mischief and mayhem, involving the brutal beating (multiple times) of both of our intrepid heroes. Because their decisions don't come without consequences. They go up against mob-types in their attempts to keep the baby safe, and mob-types don't take kindly to people who stand in their way.
The fights are often long and exhausting. These aren't "real" fighters going at it, though that probably makes the fights more "real." It takes time for someone to get up after being hit, and a single punch can take a whole lot out of a person not used to throwing punches. In such an unreal situation, the decision to ground the violence (except for a key moment involving a car) is particularly interesting. The series of unfortunate events is nothing short of silly, but the people who fight until they can barely stand in order to do what they think is right are anything but. It's fascinating, and for the most part it works. It feels good to see "normal" people do the right thing, and even better to see two people from vastly different walks of life do it together.... read + comment
Our first peak at The Good Dinosaur didn't give us much to go on, but it definitely wet our whistle for something that looks drastically different from previous Pixar films. Now, with this new trailer, we know it looks drastically different. The photo realistic backgrouns with the cartoony settings are quite the departure, but even more interesting the complete lack of dialog. Are they going full WALL-E on this one?
Whatever they're doing it looks like they want to destroy you emotionally even more than Inside Out did. You can guarantee that at some point either the dinosaur or the boy is going to be damn near death and tears will be flowing throughout the movie theater. Hopefully it comes off as true emotion and not schmaltz, but the troubled production means we can't have as much faith in this one as other Pixar films.... read + comment
Tom Cruise strapped to the side of a plane. There are so many reasons to want to see this happen ranging from not liking Tom Cruise to the fact that he did the damn stunt himself. Now you can before anyone else because we've got the passes you need. This one is a big one so instead of just dumping the link you'll have to comment below telling us exactly why you desire to watch Cruise stranded on the outside of an airplane to get a pass.
We've only got 20 passes so be quick about as we're going first come first serve or they'll be gone before you know it. As always be sure to arrive early to the screening if you do get a pass and come back and tell us how you liked it.... read + comment
Just after announcing their plans for a live action Aladdin prequel, Disney is literally just redoing all of movies now. Why not Aristocats next? Or a super depressing Fox and the Hound? Hell, give me a live action Goof Troop movie why don't you?
But anyway, Disney has tapped Game of Thrones and Magic the Gathering film writer Bryan Cogman to pen the new film which will most likely still feature a young King Arthur and his mentor/teacher Merlin. I'm sorry. It's just really hard to care about these when we literally have like ten films like this coming:
- The Jungle Book (directed by Jon Favreau)
- Pete's Dragon (directed by David Lowry)
- Beauty and the Beast (directed by Bill Condon)
- Dumbo (directed by Tim Burton)
- Winnie the Pooh
- Some Tinkerbell movie titled Tink
- And Fantasia's Night on Bald Mountain segment
- And not including the already existing Maleficent and Cinderella
[via THR]... read + comment
The American Frontier was a dangerous place – a time of expansion, genocide and men looking to find their place in the world. Alejandro G. Iñárritu's upcoming film The Revenant, based on Michael Punke's novel of the same name, seems intent on depicting the hard, gritty, violent life of such a man, judging by a new trailer for the film. The long-overdue adaptation has been in production in one form or another since 2001, and the final product stars Leonardo DiCaprio as frontiersman Hugh Glass. After being mauled by a bear and left for dead by his crew, Glass sets out for revenge .
It's a short, terse trailer, more interested in getting the film's tone across with imagery than with dialogue (though what little there is depicts DiCaprio's gloomy disposition just fine as well). Check it out below and see what you think; The Revenant hits theaters on Christmas Day in the US, and also stars Tom Hardy, Will Poulter and Domhnall Gleeson.
[embed]219682:42494:0[/embed]... read + comment
When Sam Mendes originally came on to direct Skyfall the idea was that he would possibly stick around for a sort of trilogy. That almost fell through when production delays led him to almost not direct Spectre, but once he came back many were asking if he'd now do a third as planned. The answer is no.
Speaking with BBC Mendes revealed that Spectre will be his last Bond for now.
"I said no to the last one and then ended up doing it, and was pilloried by all my friends," he said. "But I do think this is probably it ... I don't think I could go down that road again. You do have to put everything else on hold."
Honestly, it's not the surprising. Unlike in the early days of Bond where guys like Guy Hamilton and John Glen directed multiple outings it's too big of a time suck now. It's also a good thing. Mendes does an awesome job, but having different directors means that Bond can constantly evolve into the current cinematic landscape. One of the reasons he's survived so long is that the films have always adapted and having fresh directorial blood helps with that.... read + comment
Whether or not you're a fan of her comedy, Amy Schumer is not going anywhere. Comedy's current "It" girl, Schumer's earned all of the accolades through her comedy specials and often hilarious television show, Inside Amy Schumer. When I first learned she was teaming up with Judd Apatow on a non-traditional romantic comedy, I was ecstatic. Schumer definitely doesn't fit into the conventional romantic lead mold, and I couldn't wait to see how her writing held together in long form work.
Trainwreck may not be total reinvention of the romantic comedy, but it's the most entertaining one of some time. It's as far from an actual train wreck as possible.... read + comment
I'm not quite sure I'm all that excited for Pixels. Aside from the nostalgia going there really isn't much driving me to the film. It looks like it could have been done far better by far funnier people, but maybe I'm totally wrong. You should find out by seeing the movie for free and coming back and telling me.
Just head below to grab passes to one of three screenings. Click the link, print and show up early and you should be in.... read + comment
Marvel has a problem on their hands with the MCU. They've got a cohesive style that can make all the Marvel films feel very similar. The way they've attempted to address this is to deliver movies that are stylistically similar, but are couched in different genres. Yes, they all involve superheroes, but they inhabit other genres like space opera (Guardians of the Galaxy), buddy cop (Iron Man 3), fantasy (Thor: The Dark World) and even a war movie. (Captain America: The First Avenger).
With Ant-Man (Who?) they're tackling a new genre: the heist movie.... read + comment
Update: Looks like some streams got crossed (never cross the streams) and location was wrong. Updated info below.
Did you catch Eminem talking with Stephen Colbert on public access? He was there to promote Southpaw, a movie in which Jake Gyllenhal is really jacked. That should be motivation enough, but you could also see it because you've got some free passes.
Grab them at the link below and each the boxing goodness. Make sure to come back and tell us what you thought too. That's super important. Finally, get there early so you get seats.... read + comment
With comic book movies, it’s not always easy keeping up with all the influences and references that the filmmakers draw upon from the wealth of source material. Comic Movies 101 serves as a primer for newcomers to the movies and a refresher for fans.
Ant-Man is arguably Marvel's riskiest move to date. Based on a longstanding character who's been considered C-list for years, Ant-Man as a film property largely exists because of Edgar Wright, who lobbied for the chance to lend his quirky, unique vision to the character for years – even predating the concept of the "Marvel Cinematic Universe." When Marvel finally bit and brought Wright aboard to bring his vision of the shrinking hero into their shared mega-franchise, it was a coup on the level of getting Joss Whedon to direct Avengers – Ant-Man might not be a character with a lot of cultural cache, but the director's reputation and following would be enough to get some curious moviegoers into seats. Of course, since Wright's high-profile departure from the project in May 2014, the movie has been more a subject of skepticism than anticipation, with many wondering if the big shakeup would mean Ant-Man ends up being Marvel Studios' first high-profile bomb.
That said, the time is here to finally find out the answer to that question, and if you're planning on checking it out this weekend you might need a quick lesson (or refresher) on who these characters are. Sit back, strap in and relax: We've got your back, and we'll try our best to boil the complex history of these characters down to the highlights.
Henry "Hank" Pym, aka Ant-Man, aka Giant-Man, aka Goliath, aka Yellowjacket, aka Wasp
First appearance: Tales to Astonish #27 (1962), created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber and Jack Kirby
Who is he? After discovering an unusual set of subatomic particles, Hank Pym found that he could combine these "Pym Particles" with certain serums to create formulas that altered an object's size. Testing them on himself, he winds up trapped in an anthill, which inspires him to study the insects. This leads to the creation of a cybernetic helmet that allows Pym to communicate with and control ants. So basically he can talk to bugs, shrink real small, and grow real big (with some attendant strength abilities thrown in for good measure). Naturally, he decides to use these abilities in tandem to become the superhero known as Ant-Man. He partners with socialite Janet Van Dyne, who becomes a superheroine known as The Wasp. The two, often romantically linked, are later founding members of the Avengers.
Despite being one of the earliest heroes of the Marvel Universe and comics legends Stan Lee and Jack Kirby having a hand in his creation, Hank Pym is something of an also-ran. His most notable character trait is his crippling self-loathing and feelings of inadequacy next to heroes like Thor and Iron Man. Over the years, this has led to him adopting a near-revolving door of superhero identities, all variations on the "guy who can grow really big, shrink really small and talks to bugs" theme – Giant-Man, Golaith, Yellowjacket (for a time when Janet was believed to be dead, he took on the Wasp identity as well).
Those feelings of inadequacy certainly aren't helped by his most notable contribution to the Marvel Universe – the villainous robot Ultron. The fact that Pym accidentally created artificial intelligence that's constantly trying to destroy his friends in the Avengers (as well as humanity as a whole) is a lot to handle, and naturally the dude has had a rough go of it since then. This eventually culminated in a full-on mental breakdown in which he strikes his then-wife Janet, who subsequently divorces him. He's also expelled from the Avengers for his trouble (and gained a reputation that's dogged him ever since). Since then, Pym has sort of rotated in and out of prominence in the Marvel Universe, serving on the Avengers off and on, but he's never quite been able to shake the stigma that he's kind of a lame, sadsack jerk.
More recently, Pym led a splinter team of Avengers – made up of various forms of artificial intelligence – in the short-lived Avengers A.I. series, which spun out of Age of Ultron (the comic, obviously, not the movie). That book saw Pym and his team striving to stop a rogue AI from destroying humanity, as well as navigating the question of whether artificial life was truly "alive." Most recently, Pym-as-Yellowjacket was involved in the lead-up to Secret Wars, Marvel's currently-running mega-crossover which destroyed and (at least temporarily) remade the entire universe, discovering that the ancient and powerful Beyonders are the ones behind the mystery of various worlds of the Marvel multiverse crashing into each other.
Most most recently, Hank Pym appeared in the Avengers: Rage of Ultron original graphic novel by Rick Remender and Jerome Opena. That book was all about the complex relationship between Pym and his robot creation, and ended with the hero merging with an early iteration of Ultron and flying off into space. Marvel has confirmed that this story "counts" – as in it takes place within the official continuity of the rest of Marvel's comics line – but it's not yet known where this takes place in the grand scheme of things or what that merging actually means for either character. Since Pym appeared all human and whatnot just before the onset of Secret Wars, safe money is on all of this happening sometime after that event wraps up.
Portrayed in the movie by Michael Douglas, it seems unlikely that Ant-Man will delve too far into all of this backstory, though it's possible some of it may be intimated through flashback. Whether the Pym will have had any kind of history as a superhero at all in the Marvel Cinematic Universe remains to be seen.
Scott Lang, aka Ant-Man
First appearance: Avengers #181 (1979), created by David Michelinie and John Byrne
Who is he? Reformed thief Scott Lang was living on the straight-and-narrow – after a stint in prison, he'd turned his life around with a job with Stark International, even helping Tony Stark himself install a new security system in Avengers Mansion.That was all jim dandy until he discovered that his daughter, Cassie, was dying of a rare heart condition. Desperate, he broke into Avengers Mansion and stole Hank Pym's Ant-Man gear, hoping to use it to enlist the help of Dr. Erica Sondheim, a heart surgeon capable of helping his daughter. Of course, this being comics, Lang discovered that Sondheim was being held hostage by Darren Cross, a billionaire-turned-monstrous-supervillain stealing hearts to fuel his superpowers. Lang stopped Cross and saved Sondheim, who in turn saved Cassie. Pym, at using the Yellowjacket, overlooked Lang's theft considering the circumstances and condoned his continued use of the Ant-Man identity, provided he use his abilities only for good.
So Lang acted as the second Ant-Man for years, serving as a respected member of the Avengers and assisting them on various adventures. At one point he also served as a replacement leader for the Fantastic Four when several members were trapped in the Negative Zone. His daughter Cassie lived with him for much of this time, though she eventually moved in with her mother and stepfather when they feared that being around the superhero lifestyle was too dangerous for a young girl.
And perhaps they were right – at the start of the divisive "Avengers Disassembled" storyline, Scott is the first Avenger taken down by the machinations of an unstable Scarlet Witch, killed in an explosion. This being comics, though, it didn't stick. A few years later, Cassie – now a superheroine in her own right, the shape-changing Stature – traveled back in time to rescue her father at the moment of the explosion, saving her father without altering history. Cassie was killed in an ensuing battle with Doctor Doom, leaving Scott broken, angry and vowing revenge on the supervillain.
He got his chance not long after. Appointed as a stand-in leader to the Fantastic Four's Future Foundation while that team was away, Scott decided to use the abilities and resources of the school's students to take down Doctor Doom and exact revenge, which he manages to do. Later, a repentant Doom uses the Scarlet Witch's abilities to resurrect Cassie and atone for his crime.
After Cassie's return, her mother moves her to Miami to keep her away from the superheroic madness in New York City. Hoping to reconnect with the daughter he thought he'd lost, Lang turns down a lucrative job as Tony Stark's head of security in order to set-up shop in Florida, where he can stay close to his family.
Portrayed by Paul Rudd in the movie, Lang's story in Ant-Man seems to follow his comics origin relatively closely, if not exactly. Scott's past as an incarcerated thief appears to have been preserved, as has his relationship with his daughter. The only notable change seems to be that Scott is recruited by Pym to become Ant-Man, rather than stealing the tech himself.
First Appearance: Marvel Premiere #47 (1979), created by David Michelinie and John Byrne
Who is he? In the comics, Darren Cross is your run-of-the-mill executive-turned-supervillain. Cross, millionaire founder of Cross Technological Enterprises, is diagnosed with a rare heart. To survive, he uses an experimental pacemaker which mutates him and gives him superpowers – the catch is that using those powers destroys his heart. He captures heart surgeon Erica Sondheim to replace his heart while capturing "donors" to keep the supply rolling in. The problem he runs into is the fact that newly-minted Scott Lang was seeking Sondheim's help in order to save his daughter's life. The ensuing battle leaves Cross supposedly dead – although this year's new Ant-Man series by Nick Spencer and Ramon Rosanas revealed that Cross' son Augustine saved his father in cryogenic stasis, kidnapping a now-teenaged Cassie to take her heart.
In the movie, Cross is portrayed by House of Cards' Corey Stoll. The primary difference seems to be that Cross is directly connected to Hank Pym, who was once his mentor and business partner. Cross doubles as the villainous Yellowjacket (another divergence from the comics), and is Scott Lang's primary nemesis in the film.
Cassandra "Cassie" Lang, aka Stature
First appearance: Marvel Premiere #47 (1979), created by David Michelinie and John Byrne
Who is she? Cassie Lang is indirectly responsible for her father taking up the mantle of Ant-Man; diagnosed with a congenital heart disease as a young girl, Scott steals Hank Pym's Ant-Man gear and Pym Particles in order to rescue Erica Sondheim, the only doctor who could save her. Since then, Cassie more or less grew up around Scott and his superheroic pals, even living with the Fantastic Four and Heroes for Hire for a time. Alas, the young girl's mother feared for her safety, so Cassie was sent to live with her mother (played in the movie by Judy Greer) and stepfather. This caused all sorts of friction in Cassie's relationship with her non-superhero parents, especially after Scott was killed by the Scarlet Witch in "Avengers Disassembled."
Not long after, it was revealed that Cassie had been stealing Pym Particles from her late father for years, and as such had recently come into size-changing powers of her own. She joined the first iteration of the Young Avengers as the teen superheroine Stature; however, she quickly learned her powers were slightly different from her father's, and could potentially be activated by her mood (rage is big, guilt is small). It's around this time that Marvel's big Civil War event kicks into high gear, and in the aftermath of that she joins the Initiative, a program for young registered heroes to receive training in preparation for becoming bona-fide superheroes.
Cassie has a bunch of adventures with other young superheroes during her time, including the Avengers. But the next big event for her comes as a part of Young Avengers: The Children's Crusade, the long-delayed finale for the first iteration of the team. Basically, two members of the team – magic-wielding Wiccan and speedster...uh, Speed – are the reincarnated souls of the Scarlet Witch's twin sons, and seek her out to help controlling Wiccan's powers. With the help of Iron Lad (a teenage version of the Avengers' time-traveling nemesis Kang the Conquerer), Cassie is also able to travel back in time to save her father before his death in "Avengers Disassembled." Later, during a battle with Doctor Doom (who'd been hiding the Scarlet Witch away since her disappearance), Cassie is killed. This being comics and all, it doesn't stick – a few of years later, Doom was feeling altruistic and used wacky science to bring her back to life (seriously, read that last paragraph and say it with me – comics are weird, y'all).
These days, Cassie is living with her mother, who moved her to Miami to keep her away from all of the superhero craziness that got her killed in the first place (not that that did much good in that department). It's unlikely most of her superheroic history will play a role in Ant-Man – there Cassie is played by Noted Young Girl Abby Ryder Fortson, which makes sense considering the film seems to cover Scott Lang's origins more than anything else.
Janet van Dyne, aka The Wasp
First appearance: Tales to Astonish #44 (1963), created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby
Who is she? The socialite daughter of a wealthy scientist, Janet van Dyne gets into the superhero game when her father is killed by an alien. She turns to Hank "Ant-Man" Pym for help, who uses Pym Particles to give her shape-changing powers and insectoid wings that sprout on her back when she shrinks. After the two team up and avenge her father, they're inseparable – from then on, they're Ant-Man and the Wasp. After Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Ant-Man and Wasp team up to take on Loki, Janet is the one who suggests the team-up become a regular thing, and even gives the newly-formed Avengers their name.
Janet has powers similar to Hank, Scott and Cassie – thanks to Pym Particles, she can shrink and grow at will, and gains a certain amount of super-strength while in that state. Unlike those heroes, though, Janet grows wasp-like wings in her shrunken state, which allows her to fly. She also has the ability to harness her bio-electric energy into offensive energy blasts, which she calls "stingers" or "wasp stings." Janet is also known for her keen intuitive and deductive, which has made her an essential strategist and leader to the Avengers over the years.
Like Hank, Janet's tenure with the Avengers is sporadic, often taking breaks and sabbaticals from the team. That said, she's always been a prominent hero in the Marvel Universe, popping up to team up with just about every hero out there, and she has the distinction of being the longest-tenured leader of the Avengers behind Captain America. Throughout her career, her partnership with Hank has become romantic multiple times; at one point the two were even married. However, that marriage dissolved when, in the midst of a mental breakdown, Hank struck Janet, spurring her to divorce him.
Like just about every character in the Marvel Universe, Wasp was "dead" for a time. In the climax of the Secret Invasion crossover, Janet realizes the villainous Skrulls have used Pym Particles to turn her into a biological bomb. With Thor's help, Janet is able to diffuse the situation without destroying the city, but at the cost of her own life. Hank takes up the mantle of the Wasp for a time in her honor, but since this is comics, it was only a matter of time before her return – just a couple of years later, she was found alive and well in the Microverse, a subatomic universe that exists within our own. Since then, she's served on the Avengers Unity Squad in Uncanny Avengers, where she fell in love with team leader and longtime X-Man Alex "Havok" Summers. In an alternate future in which the Unity Squad fails to save the planet from being destroyed, the two marry on the mutant paradise Planet X and have a daughter; however, in traveling back in time to prevent the Earth's destruction, that future is erased and their daughter is lost to them. The two still remember that, of course, causing no small amount of emotional trauma for the characters (comics are weird, y'all).
It should be noted that it's not currently known whether Janet will actually appear in Ant-Man at all. That said, Evangeline Lilly's character is named Hope van Dyne, which suggests some kind of connection – a child or other kind of relative, perhaps, or maybe just an homage to the character. It's possible Janet might pop up in some flashbacks or get name-dropped, but don't expect any full-on Wasp action this time around.
There you have it; hopefully this gives you a not-too-confusing primer into the world of shrinky-growy superheroes before you head into Ant-Man this weekend. As always, take these recaps with a grain of salt – they're meant to give you some highlights and let you know where those characters stand in the comics currently, but it's also likely a lot of this stuff will be glossed over in the movie. Don't take it too seriously and have fun at the movies. Enjoy!... read + comment
It's like they say: "When the student is ready the teacher will appear."
With last December's news that Benedict Cumberbatch would officially be donning the Eye of Agamotto as the Sorcerer Supreme in Marvel's 2016 Doctor Strange, it was only a matter of time before his mentor, the Ancient One was cast. Rumor had it a few months ago that spooky, ethereal witch-lady Tilda Swinton may turn things on their heads as a female Ancient One.
Now, officially, Swinton stands revealed as the Strange's teacher. What I know about the Ancient One I could fill a thimble with, but I'm considerably more familiar with Tilda. She had this to say about donning the old dude's robes:
Well, there’s no particular interest in getting into something bigger, or even smaller, I just really liked the premise of this and the idea of playing this character. I’m a Marvel fan and I think this particular world that Doctor Strange goes into is really, really, really exciting. I’m really interested as both an actor and a fan to see what’s done in this particular world. It’s all about creativity. It’s not about everything exploding at the end. It’s about something very different. The idea of playing The Ancient One is really just too tickling. I can’t say no to that!
It's one thing to be really excited, but I think that it bodes well that Swinton is "really, really, really" excited. I'm all for doing things differently and gender-swapping major characters certainly falls into that category.
Doctor Strange is sure to give us at least a slightly different experience than most of the films in Marvel's cinematic universe as it should firmly grasp the mystical side of things rather than pretend they don't exist (I'm looking at you, Asgardians). With a race-bent Baron Mordo played by Chiwetel Ejiofor and Swinton's gender-bent Ancient One, Strange promises to be one worth seeing.... read + comment
Gun to my head, if I had to choose between Spider-Man 3 and X-Men: The Last Stand as a worse third installment of a super hero franchise, it would have to be X-Men. They only messed up Gwen Stacy, Venom, Harry Osborn's turn as Green Goblin, and Peter Parker in general in Spider-Man 3. X3 was far more damaging to far more characters, with Psylocke topping that list.
But today, all of that changes. Entertainment Weekly delivers the goods on X-Men: Apocalypse with some hecka sweet images, including Olivia Munn as what very much appears to be a comic-accurate Psylocke, as well as a new Magneto outfit, the titular villain Apocalypse himself (played by Oscar Isaac), the X-Men doing X-Men stuff, and freakin' MOHAWK STORM. If that doesn't get you hype, then you can BAMF! your way right on out of my face.
I'm less than impressed with the Apocalypse design (as Nick pointed out: Ivan Ooze, anybody?), but the rumors of costumed X-characters ring a lot truer in light of that Psylocke costume. Fingers crossed she does more than she did the last time she appeared.
Next year will be a fantastic summer for Marvel movies, with X-Men Apocalypse (due out May 27th) joining Captain America: Civil War and Doctor Strange. Check out the reassuring photos in the gallery
[via EW.com]... read + comment
When we heard about the Vacation sequel we were very, very, very skeptical, but the trailer actually looks pretty funny. I'm not saying it's gong to be a classic, but you could laugh... and you could laugh for free.
We've got passes to a screening of the film in DC so be quick and click the link below to grab them. Once you've done that grab a friend and head to the film. Make sure to come back and tell us what you thought. Also, make sure to get there early so you get seats!... read + comment
We're going to get a lot of live action reboots of our favorite animated reboots of old fairy tales in the near future. Disney is working on a fair amount of them themselves (like Pete's Dragon, The Jungle Book, Beauty and the Beast) in order to capitalize on the momentum brought on by Maleficent and Cinderella. Naturally, they'd get around to something universally loved so here we are.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Disney tapped Freddy vs. Jason, Friday the 13th, and Baywatch writers (what) Damian Shannon and Mark Swift to pen a live action prequel that'll tell the story of how the Genie became trapped in the lamp. And if all goes according to plan (i.e. it makes a lot of money), then it'll lead into a full on live action Aladdin. There are so many things to like, and dislike, about this news. Chiefly, that it's probably going to be super weird and that'll be an interesting watch.
Then again, no one can do the Genie justice. It was completely Williams' influence that made the character as popular as it was, so the film's already starting in a hole.
[via THR]... read + comment
Revivre is director Im Kwon-Taek’s 102nd film. Think about that. Really, really think about what that means. Even if most of his early films were essentially throwaways created to entertain the unwashed masses, this man has still said “That’s a wrap” (or something like it) more than one hundred times. But since the turn of the century, he has only directed six. I imagine he’s exhausted. He’d have to be, really, to make a film like Revivre.
It’s a film about about exhaustion, about being stuck in a rut, about trying to find something to hold on to, about failing, about accepting failure, and then about dying. It’s soul-crushing, and you will leave the theater particularly aware of your own mortality, but that means it’s effective. That’s what a film about a man whose wife is dying of brain cancer is supposed to do. There is no happy ending. There can be hope, perhaps, but even that must be tempered.
It’s a realistic film, or it feels like one. Sometimes “real” and “bleak” are interchangeable, which probably says something not-so-great about the way we perceive cinematic storytelling. You don’t really root for Mr. Oh, because he’s not really a great guy. His wife is dying, and he’s pining after a sexy new employee. But it’s more complicated than that, because life is more complicated than that. He may pine for her, but he still cares for his wife. Or he takes cares of her, at any rate, evidenced by long sequences (often done in a single take) that are particularly heart-breaking. And it works. It could have failed so many times, but it doesn’t. It doesn’t, because it comes from a man who understands exhaustion and failure and acceptance.
When the credits roll, and you’re staring in the face of your impending death, in some small way you’ll understand too.... read + comment
Fresh off of Comic-Con, Fox has released a new trailer for Fantastic Four onto the world. It's easily the most comprehensive glimpse at the movie yet, and it makes a solid case for the film's existence. Dare we say it actually looks kinda...good? Take a look at the trailer below and see for yourself. Starring Kate Mara, Miles Teller and Michael B. Jordan, Fantastic Four hits theaters on Aug. 7.
[embed]219669:42488:0[/embed]... read + comment