The Avengers

How to Make a Great Superhero Movie: Hire a Comedy Director

If you look up the filmographies of Anthony and Joe Russo, directors of the new (and very good) Captain America: The Winter Soldier, you’re not going to see much that screams SUMMER TENTPOLE ACTION MOVIE MAKERS. Their only two previous features were the mostly unseen Big Deal on Madonna Street remake Welcome to Collinwood and the mostly unloved Owen Wilson comedy You, Me and Dupree. And then you will find lots and lots of television comedy, everything from the monkey-doctor comedy Animal Practice to more acclaimed programs like Arrested Development, Happy Endings, and Community. The natural assumption is that the powers-that-be at Marvel who handed the Russo brothers the keys to Captain America were taking a big chance. But Marvel has reached a point where it’s actually more unusual for them to pick conventional action directors for their films — in fact, what’s making their big-screen efforts stand out from the blockbuster pack is their tendency to place them in the hands of, when you get down to it, comedy filmmakers. … Read More

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Pharrell’s Hat Will Never Die: Links You Need to See

Welcome to the new week! SO far, what we’ve deduced is that Pharrell’s hat might be receiving new life as we speak, Shanghai is fast developing an obsession with mystery and Kate Middleton once aspired to be a STAAAAAH (that’s “star” for the uninformed and/or unimaginative). … Read More

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10 Movies You’ve Been Watching in Altered Versions

Some play tennis, some memorize baseball stats, some decorate toilet seat lids. Point is, everyone’s got a hobby, but Christopher Orgeron spent his past two years of free time on a genuinely unusual project: restoring The Dark Crystal to its original, darker version. Wait, you’re thinking. I didn’t know there was an original, darker version of that, especially since the version they released was such hardcore nightmare fuel if you were a small child in the early ‘80s (OK, now I’m just projecting). Well, if you do enough poking around in Hollywood history, you’ll find there was an original, darker version of a whole lot of movies, which studio execs and other muckety-mucks demanded filmmakers brighten up before they saw the light of a projector. … Read More

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‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ Is Not the Next Great Joss Whedon Show — Yet

Few shows this fall — or in anything resembling recent memory, really — have premiered with the kind of ballyhoo that’s accompanied Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. A television spin-off of the über-profitable cycle of Marvel film adaptations that culminated in last year’s The Avengers, S.H.I.E.L.D. plays like a direct sequel to that movie, with Clark Gregg’s Agent Coulson resurrected for starring role and a “special guest” appearance by Cobie Smulders’ Agent Hill. Most importantly, last night’s debut episode was directed by The Avengers’ Joss Whedon, who co-wrote (and co-executive produces) the show with brother Jedd and sister-in-law Maurissa Tancharoen, with whom he previously collaborated on Dollhouse and Dr. Horrible’s Singalong Blog. Alas, in spite of those credentials and a few other friendly faces (hiya, Ron Glass!), Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is not the Next Great Joss Whedon Show — at least, so far. … Read More

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Awesome ‘Avengers’-Inspired Magazine and Newspaper Covers

As you’re enjoying that Netflix stream of The Avengers, the first question you’d ask might not be, “How exactly would the New York media cover this?” But luckily for you, graphic artist Kimba McG did ask that question, and the result is her MediAvengers project, in which she works up inventive covers and spreads for magazines and newspapers’ imagined coverage of the superhero crew — from Time and the Times to Forbes and US. Check out a few of her best after the jump, and swing by her Tumblr and Facebook page to see more. … Read More

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Joss Whedon’s Guide to Life

As you may have heard, everyone’s favorite vampire slayer-creating, Avengers-assembling writer/director, Joss Whedon, gave the commencement speech at his alma mater Wesleyan University, and unsurprisingly, it was kind of great. But that shouldn’t come as a surprise; throughout his career, both in the dialogue he’s written and the many good interviews he’s given, Whedon always comes across as an old soul filled with great wisdom. So with that in mind, here’s a couple dozen nuggets of advice from your self-appointed “Uncle Joss.” … Read More

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‘Iron Man 3,’ ‘The Avengers,’ And the Thrill of Authorial Voice in Blockbusters

Iron Man 3 opens with an arresting image — the destruction of three Iron Man suits, right in a row, bang bang bang — and a voice over from Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark, a bit of business about facing your demons that quickly degenerates into gibberish. “Never mind, I’m gonna start over,” he says, and the screen fades to black, thus concluding the first of the film’s many assurances that, while it is a mega-budgeted summer tent-pole movie, it is also the work of devilishly clever writer/director Shane Black — whose previous collaboration with Downey, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, included one of the most blissfully self-aware narration tracks in all of moviedom (“Don’t worry, I saw Lord of the Rings, I’m not gonna end this like 17 times”). And that’s the key to the movie’s success: beyond all the explosions and action set pieces and 3D wizardry, you can still hear a writer with a distinctive, entertaining voice. And that’s what separates films like this from their blockbuster brethren, which too often were clearly created by a committee. … Read More

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The 10 Best “Credit Cookies” in Movie History

Iron Man 3 is out in theaters tomorrow, and it should come as no surprise that those who are willing to sit through the end credits — and seriously, they run something like ten minutes and include more names than a small-town phone book — will be rewarded with an extra (and very funny) bonus scene. Some call these little bonuses “credit cookies,” others call them “stingers.” In Roger Ebert’s Little Movie Glossary, Serdor Yegulalp dubs them the “Monk’s Reward,” defined thus: “A surprising final line or image, tagged on after the credits have finished rolling… so named because it usually takes monk-like devotion to sit through the credits to get to it.” The previous Marvel movies made a regular habit of including credit cookies, mostly as preparation for The Avengers, but they’re not the only movies to throw in a little something extra for those who stick around to find out who the unit accountant was. (Warning: minor spoilers ahead, but all for movies that have been out for a year or more.) … Read More

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