Tag: Marvel

The New Mutants: what should we expect from the cursed X-Men horror film?

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After a delayed release, reshoots and controversial casting choices, the youth-centric scary movie is finally coming out three years after it was shot

The X-Men horror The New Mutants has had quite the mutated journey to the screen: several scrapped release dates, abandoned reshoots, a new character who never materialized, issues around colorism in casting, and finally, a corporate acquisition that nearly shelved the project altogether. Now that the dust has settled, a release date has been firmly set for 3 April and this week, a new trailer launched, does the final product have any hopes of being any good?

Back in October 2017, everything seemed on track when Fox released the first trailer online. After 10 films, X-Men fatigue was settling in, but The New Mutants was pitched as something different. Not only would it be the first scary movie in the universe but it would introduce a host of never-before-seen-on-screen characters Magik (Anya Taylor-Joy), Wolfsbane (Maisie Williams), Cannonball (Charlie Heaton), Sunspot (Henry Zaga), and Danielle Moonstar, AKA Mirage (Blu Hunt) and trap them in a haunted asylum, a juicy prospect that was enough to pique interest. The director Josh Boone pitched the story, based on the Demon Bear arc by the writer Chris Claremont and the relatively avant-garde artist Bill Sienkiewicz, as the start of a trilogy, one that would later introduce characters like Karma and Warlock. The movie was scheduled for release on 13 April 2018.

But by January, the cracks started to show. The film was pushed way back to February 2019 and then to August 2019 to make space for Deadpool 2 and Dark Phoenix, respectively. Per the Tracking Board, the studio wanted the film reworked to be even scarier, to capitalize on the new horror wave started by Get Out and It. By February 2018, the Hollywood Reporter claimed that The New Mutants was undergoing an additional round of photography, and would include a new character changes that appear now to have never occurred.

Boone told Creative Screenwriting that navigating the politics of studio film-making was its own special beast that led to a constantly morphing script (that was repeatedly torn apart and put together by four other scriptwriters and a six-person writers room). Tracking Board said Boone felt a bit neutered by Fox, as the company couldnt decide if it wanted New Mutants to be a YA drama or an all-out splatterfest. Disney acquired Fox in March 2019, and New Mutants got lost in the shuffle until Boone re-emerged in December 2019 to confirm Disney would be releasing the film as originally shot.

Boone finally seems to have regained creative control of his project, but elsewhere the film stumbled under the studios direction in more profound ways. Fans noted that both the casting of Alice Braga as Dr Cecilia Reyes and Henry Zaga as Sunspot erased their identities as Afro-Latinx characters and perpetuated issues of colorism already oft spoken about in regard to Storm. Comparing character redesigns and colorings across comic book runs can be fraught, but canonically all three have been portrayed as darker-skinned in their earliest incarnations. This seems like an unfortunate misstep that goes against the nature of the story itself, as Stan Lee told the Guardian in 2000 that the X-Men were a direct metaphor for what was happening with the civil rights movement. (Lets lay it right on the line, Lee wrote in the comics in 1968. Bigotry and racism are among the deadliest social ills plaguing the world today.)

So whats to be done? Can The New Mutants climb out of this pyre to become, if not the most progressive, at least a passably good comic book film?

Considerable baggage aside, one angle to consider is the potential novelty of the story: unlike the world-ending stakes that comic book films often shoehorn in, the Demon Bear saga has a focused scope. In the comics, the demonic bear that killed Danis parents stalks and nearly kills her, and when the bear comes to finish the job, the New Mutants throw down in a hospital. Its a horror story that is, at its core, about the importance of friendship, family and the ties that bind and arent the best horror tales often about that? With rumors that New Mutants will feature a romance between Dani and Wolfsbane, its easy to see how Boone (who directed The Fault in Our Stars) could ground a more nightmare-inducing adaptation in a tale of young love. Does that make The New Mutants automatically good? Not necessarily, but itd mark the film as more unique than the vast majority of city-leveling X-Men films, and put it more in line with standalones like Logan and Deadpool.

Maisie
Maisie Williams in The New Mutants. Photograph: Marvel

The New Mutants also has the benefit of a cast of fresh faces. A rather thorny issue with the X-Men films as a whole is how poorly theyve juggled their vast stable of characters, focusing primarily on the same white, often male, leads. While the original 2000 X-Men had a unique, gritty, indie quality to it terrified loner Rogue meets gruff father figure Wolverine the subsequent films got lost in the sauce, repeatedly centering Wolverine, Professor X, Magneto, and then to a lesser extent, Jean and Mystique, to the detriment of literally everyone else in the X-verse. Rogues powers went mostly unexplored; Jubilee is never named on camera; the omega-level Darwin was easily killed; Kitty Prydes comic book role was handed to Wolverine in Days of Future Past; Storm and Emma Frost were underutilized; the list goes on. To put it frankly, the core X-Men films suffered from a profound lack of imagination, and though theyre ensembles, not a single one of their 12 films can boast a character of color as the primary lead. Isnt it disappointing that the franchise that was built on the importance of being different was too afraid to be different itself?

This is what The New Mutants, warts and all, has going for it: Blu Hunts Dani Moonstar is the first Native American to lead a comic book film, a fact thats gotten buried in all the scheduling conflicts and reshooting drama. Though Hunts casting also fueled some concerns of colorism, it remains a notable leap forward. Theres an opportunity a hope that Boone and the other writers on the film also fixed the problems of the original Demon Bear story (Dani turns into a damsel in distress, and the Demon Bear inexplicably turns two white characters into Native Americans) and let Dani be the true lead in her own tale.

That the sun will set on this entire Fox franchise right as the studio landed on Dani as a lead feels particularly tragic. Despite being fantastical tales of aliens, monsters, superhumans and robots, nearly all comic book films have issues around primarily favoring the stories of white characters, and/or casting light-skinned or white-passing actors. The New Mutants, at the very least, foregrounds an indigenous woman of color, who literally wrestles with her heritage and legacy, all while developing a newfound family at Xaviers school. It stands a good chance of being a fun one-off film, but the brass tacks of it all is that Dani Moonstar deserved better, as all the X-Men of color deserved better.

Hopefully Disney will see the value in Danis story and keep her around, or at least greenlight future X-Men projects focused on lesser-seen characters from the get-go. If Disney ends up rebooting with Professor X and Magneto again, while pushing off all the characters of color until a third phase (a la Black Panther), The New Mutants will forever be remembered as a landmark casting, but also a tragic example of too little, too late.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2020/jan/08/the-new-mutants-x-men-horror-film

Lou Ferrigno, TV’s Incredible Hulk, to be sheriff’s deputy in New Mexico

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The actor and former bodybuilder will be sworn in on Thursday to recruit officers for the department and the county

As the Incredible Hulk, Lou Ferrigno brought the bad guys to book with his famous thunderclap, a signature superhero move as loud as a sonic boom or a hurricane.

But the actor most famous for bringing the Marvel Comics legend to life in the long-running 1970s CBS television series will have to rely on more traditional crime-fighting tools in his latest role, as a sheriffs deputy in the New Mexico desert.

The 68-year-old former bodybuilder will be sworn in on Thursday as the newest recruit of the Socorro county sheriffs department.

As a deputy, Ferrigno will continue a journey in law and order that began as the ferocious green alter ego of Dr David Bruce Banner on the small screen and progressed to real-life spells as a reserve deputy in two California counties and as a member of notorious Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaios volunteer posse which targeted illegal immigrants.

According to Socorro county sheriff William Armijo, Ferrigno will be instrumental in recruiting officers for the department and the county. The actor, Armijo says, will be bringing decades of law enforcement experience.

Expected to perform mostly office-bound duties, Ferrigno will be on call to assist patrol officers where needed, though will wear the neat beige uniform of the sheriffs department rather than the torn shorts and pea green body make-up of the giant Hulk.

Since stepping back from an acting career that still sees him accepting occasional roles, such as voice-overs in the Avengers series of movies, Ferrigno has enjoyed success as a fitness coach and motivational speaker.

In an interview on his website, he explained the parallels between life as a fictional crime-buster and his time with the San Luis Obispo sheriffs department in California.

This is not a costume, he said. This is the real thing because Ive played sheriff over the years in different films. This I take very seriously and Im very excited, very proud to be a deputy because my whole life Ive always wanted to be a sheriff.

People assume its just an honorary thing. It isnt, because Im certified and I have police powers which Im very proud of. I went through all the driving, the shooting, the studying and it changed my life and Im very happy to be a real-life hero, protecting life and property.

During an appearance on The Celebrity Apprentice in 2012, Ferrigno struck up a friendship with Donald Trump. In 2018 Trump appointed Ferrigno, a former Mr Universe, to his presidential council on sports fitness and nutrition.

Ferrigno is among a number of celebrities to have had careers in law enforcement. They include the actor Steven Seagal, who partnered his duties as a reserve deputy in Louisiana and Arizona with a reality TV series that was halted when he became embroiled in a sexual assault lawsuit, and the retired basketball star Shaquille ONeal.

An honorary federal deputy marshal, ONeal attended police academy and served as a reserve officer for police departments in California, Arizona and Florida.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/jan/11/lou-ferrigno-televisions-incredible-hulk-to-join-new-mexicos-sheriffs-deputies

Marvel’s Kevin Feige brushes off Scorsese superhero movies criticism

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Studio chief describes as unfortunate the directors claim that the blockbusters were like theme parks and not cinematic

Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige has responded for the first time in public to the controversy surrounding superhero movies first sparked in October by Martin Scorsese, who said they were not cinema and closer to theme parks.

Speaking to the Hollywood Reporter, Feige brushed off Scorseses remarks, saying: I think thats not true. I think its unfortunate.

Feige added: I think myself and everyone who works on these movies loves cinema, loves movies, loves going to the movies, loves to watch a communal experience in a movie theatre full of people.

Scorseses views were backed up by fellow directors such as Francis Ford Coppola, who described Marvels output as despicable and Ken Loach, who called them cynical. Film-makers such as Joss Whedon and James Gunn, however, defended the Marvel franchise, while Robert Iger, CEO of Disney, which owns Marvel, said: I dont get what [Coppola and Scorsese are] criticising us for when were making films that people are obviously enjoying going to and theyre doing so by the millions.

However, Scorsese later amplified his criticism of superhero movies with an article in the New York Times, in which he said he felt a terrible sadness about the state of the industry.

Feige said: Everybody has a different definition of cinema. Everybody has a different definition of art. Everybody has a different definition of risk. Some people dont think its cinema. Everybody is entitled to their opinion. Everyone is entitled to repeat that opinion. Everyone is entitled to write op-eds about that opinion, and I look forward to what will happen next. But, in the meantime, were going to keep making movies.

Feige, who is generally considered the main creative force behind the Marvel Cinematic Universe, has overseen the release of 23 MCU films since 2008 with a worldwide box office of over $22bn, making it by far the most successful film franchise of all time. Feige has also been asked to collaborate on a new instalment in the Star Wars series, the second highest grossing franchise of all time.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2019/nov/11/kevin-feige-martin-scorsese-marvel-studios-superhero-movies

So Long, You Weird, Space-Time-Defying Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

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Odds are you watch Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., because you’re reading this. That puts you in a sort of exclusive club. Which is to say, not many people watch this show. A hanging story-chad of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, S.H.I.E.L.D. has had ratings consistently low enough to make the prospect of its renewal every year a kind of comic-book cliffhanger.

Yet it was. Six times. No matter what—stranding characters on distant planets, swapping members of the ensemble in and out, touring through some back alleys of the Marvel pantheon for characters whom it’d perhaps be a stretch to describe as beloved—Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was just … on, y’all. And now, as the show preps for its final season, it’s finally over. In the hours before the show’s Thursday panel at San Diego Comic-Con, the network finally took a shotgun axe to its little sci-fi superhero spy show. (The shotgun axe is a thing in the show. That’s the kind of show it is.)

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  • “We’re shooting the very last episode right now, so a lot of us are feeling this,” said show cocreator Jed Whedon from the stage of San Diego’s Hall H, an auditorium I am contractually required to describe as cavernous. “Part of the reason we’re really enjoying this is that we’re going through what the characters are going through, which is, this is our last mission together.”

    “And,” interjected Clark Gregg, the show’s lead, “the dragons look amazing.” (The dragons aren’t a thing. The show doesn’t have dragons. Probably.)

    S.H.I.E.L.D. started out as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Its center was Agent Phil Coulson, played by Gregg as the rectitudally high and tight, right-hand man of Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury in Iron Man and sacrificed to narrative gods in Avengers: That First One. But death is just something people get better from in comics; Gregg was a sunny spot in the movies’ Sturm and Drang. Coulson came back to take over TV S.H.I.E.L.D.

    In the early years, other Marvel cinematic characters occasionally showed up. Lady Sif from Thor did a guest spot. Some of the visual effects showing magic looked like the ones in Doctor Strange. Even Jackson’s Fury came in to shoot a gun, and if you watched closely you noticed that the helicarrier that saves the day at the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron gets handed off from a S.H.I.E.L.D. episode. In the movies—Captain America: The Winter Soldier, primarily—S.H.I.E.L.D. the agency turned out to be rife with bad guys, and it disbanded, and it sort of did on TV too. The agents went on the run, ran a shadow-S.H.I.E.L.D., I think, and fought an offshoot of the movie bad guys.

    For the first couple seasons, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was a sometimes predictable show that had a second job supporting Disney-Marvel’s dominion over all of pop culture time and space. But then it leveraged its hard-to-explain renewals to quietly become one of the zaniest, weirdest pieces of sci-fi on TV.

    The renewals aren’t that hard to explain, actually. The show had a marketing value, sure, and a small but avid fanbase, like a lot of genre TV. But since Disney owns the ABC television network, and ABC produces the show, it’s owned and operated, relatively cheaper to make because the network doesn’t have to share money with some other studio. Think of it as Disney’s ABC’s Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Even a lower-rated, in-house-produced show can make more money, in the end, than an expensive but popular one made by someone else.

    That’s a potent combination, as it turns out. Few people watching, little oversight from a network because the stakes are low, a fan base distilled down to the most committed gladiators … what’s a writers’ room to do? Well, any damn thing it wants is the answer. Guest stars: Patton Oswalt, Bill Paxton, Kyle MacLachlan, Ron Glass, Edward James Olmos, Ruth Negga, Blair Underwood, Powers Boothe.1 Deep dives into Marvel’s back catalog: Ghost Rider, Deathlok, the Absorbing Man, Graviton, Mockingbird.

    The show went to a virtual matrix universe where everyone was a bad guy, and the Big Baddy was a magic robot lady. When Ghost Rider showed up, he wasn’t the iconic 1970s motorcycle demon with a flaming skull. This was the new Ghost Rider, who drives a lowrider (but also has a flaming skull). (The actor who played him, Gabriel Luna, is slated for a Ghost Rider show on Hulu.) There was time travel, space travel, a post-apocalyptic Earth rescued via time and space travel, and blue aliens. A beloved character used suspended animation to join his friends in a timeline where Earth was destroyed, but then died while helping them escape and change that future. So his friends went to space to fish him out of suspended animation in the newly remade present, because now there are two of him. Coulson died again! And came back again, only this time as a bad guy with no memories, from another planet, on our Earth to fight zombie alien space bats.

    It’s a lot, right? Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t always great. But it always felt like real humans were sitting in a room authentically trying to outdo whatever they’d tried last time. “We never know when we’re shooting the end of the thing if we’re going to get another season,” Gregg said in Hall H. So every season things would get weird, come to a head, and go out big. Someone, probably in a suit, maybe in Burbank, would say "Um, actually could you just do more?" The show would say "Errr, OK." So things would just get weirder.

    That’s a rock-solid legacy. Marvel’s TV shows are about to change radically. The deals with Netflix that led to Jessica Jones and Daredevil, among others, have ended; the new streaming network Disney+ has announced shows more clearly derived from the movies, about Loki, Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and others. The days of Marvel on a broadcast network are passing into legend. As for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.? “This is the flagship show of Marvel television,” said Jeph Loeb, the head of that division. “And it’s the show that I love most.” Which, you know, I get it. Thanks for the ride, Agents. In the era of peak, golden-age, highly burnished, super-professional polish, TV needs weird too.

    1Updated 7/19/19 7:47 AM PDT to correct the spelling of Powers Boothe's name


    Read more: https://www.wired.com/story/farewell-agents-of-shield/

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