<p>When the primary image of your strongest female character looks like an outtake from a &#39;Penthouse&#39; photo spread, maybe it&#39;s time to have a chat about gender politics.</p>

When the primary image of your strongest female character looks like an outtake from a 'Penthouse' photo spread, maybe it's time to have a chat about gender politics.

Credit: 20th Century Fox/Lucasfilm Ltd.

Gender politics and the casting of 'Star Wars'

As rumors break of more casting to come, online emotion runs high

Two weeks ago, I was at WonderCon, and I got to spend a bit of time with one of my favorite people. She's got a ten-year-old daughter who is a nascent geek, and we talked a bit about her very mixed feelings about the iconography that her daughter is dealing with as she finds her way through pop culture right now.

I was struck by one story in particular. Her daughter's favorite character right now is the Black Widow, and my friend wanted to buy some original art for her daughter. Every single image she found, though, was exactly the sort of over-the-top cheesecake shot that you'd expect. No matter what pose they had her in, the emphasis was firmly on both boobs and butt, and my friend ended up so irritated that she had to finally commission an artist to draw the character with her shirt completely buttoned up.

Even so, there was a photo she took at WonderCon of her daughter standing with a cosplayer dressed as Black Widow, and that sheer geek joy that I remember so vividly from my own younger years and that I see on the faces of my own kids is just radiating off of her daughter in the image. To her, Black Widow is a hero, pure and simple, and all of the larger conversations about representation and exploitation don't factor in for her. To that little girl, she looks at Black Widow, and she sees someone who stands side-by-side with Captain America, someone who is strong and funny and capable, and that is incredibly important for every young person. It is important that kids (and adults, for that matter) be able to look at pop culture and see some reflection of who they are and where they're from, and for them to see that there is a place in this larger world where they will fit, no matter what it is that they want to do.

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<p>Maria Hill comes out swinging in this week&#39;s &#39;Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.&#39;</p>

Maria Hill comes out swinging in this week's 'Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.'

Credit: ABC/Marvel Studios

Trust emerges as the theme of the season in the new episode of 'Agents Of SHIELD'

And honestly, Ward's got to die now, right?

While I think it's sometimes reductive to argue that anything that runs 23 hours over the course of a year is "about" any one thing, it seems like tonight's episode of "Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D." helped focus the overall theme of this season's arc. It seems fitting considering this a show about a top-secret military organiation that has suddenly lost face, because it seems like more than anything, this is a show about trust.

As soon as I saw "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," it was obvious that there were going to be major changes in the Marvel universe, and I wondered how they're going to retain the title of this series next year. Several people wrote me to say that there will be a magical re-set button and everything will be back to normal by the time the start of next year rolls around. I would argue that the start of tonight's episode makes it pretty clear that is not the case. Short of putting out a press release that says, "The start of next year is not just going to re-set everything to zero. We promise," I'm not sure what else the producers could do at this point to make it clear that they are shaking things up permanently.

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<p>Make that a lightsaber and you pretty much know what John Boyega&#39;s going to look like when he stars in &#39;Star Wars: Episode VII&#39;</p>

Make that a lightsaber and you pretty much know what John Boyega's going to look like when he stars in 'Star Wars: Episode VII'

Credit: Screen Gems

What does the casting of 'Star Wars Episode VII' tell us about the new film?

As Lucasfilm makes it official, we dig in to discuss the choices

It seems like only yesterday I wrote that we would most likely see a "Star Wars" casting announcement soon.

Oh, wait, it literally was yesterday. And while many of the names I mentioned in that piece did indeed end up being part of this morning's official casting announcement made via the official "Star Wars" website as well as Facebook, there were still some big surprises.

Can we talk about Andy Serkis first? His casting would suggest that there's going to be a major performance capture character in the film, but that doesn't have to be the case. I think people forget that Serkis has made plenty of appearances in films as himself. Now, would I be excited if he was performing a major performance capture character in the film? Absolutely. Serkis has proven himself to be the gold standard of breathing life into digital creations, and while I think Ahmed Best became the target of untold oceans of fan hatred for doing exactly what he was asked to do with a character, I'm also sure that having a character in your film that has to be brought to life via digital effects must give all producers the shivers any time they think of Jar Jar Binks.

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<p>Will two out of these three people be in &quot;Star Wars Episode VII&quot;?</p>

Will two out of these three people be in "Star Wars Episode VII"?

Credit: CBS Films

The cast of 'Star Wars Episode VII' assembles in London for the first table read

Can an announcement of the cast be far behind?

"The big surprise, I'm told, is that [Harrison] Ford has a gigantic role in the first of the next three films." And if he's going to finally get JJ Abrams to do what he wanted back in 1983, maybe we'll see Ford die as Han Solo, kicking off this next chapter of the "Star Wars" saga and closing the door on the legacy of the series in one fell swoop.

According to a report on Deadline tonight, tomorrow morning is the table read for "Star Wars Episode VII" in London. I'm sure the security on that room will be tighter than at the White House, with Bad Robot snipers posted on the rooftops and actual Stormtroopers outside the room where they do the reading.

There's so long until we see this film that I don't really want to know anything yet. I don't want to know all the twists and turns. I don't want to know all the details about where we'll meet Luke Skywalker or Leia or Han Solo or any of the characters. I want to discover that in the right time. I want to enjoy those moments instead of pre-digesting everything.

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<p>&#39;Tell me the truth... do I look fat in this city?&#39;</p>

'Tell me the truth... do I look fat in this city?'

Credit: Warner Bros/Legendary

Amazing new Asian 'Godzilla' trailer says 'Let them fight!'

Wanna see what a Hakmuto looks like?

We're in the home stretch now for Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros to make the case for why this "Godzilla" is going to not only be better than the first American attempt at making a film about the iconic giant monster, but potentially better than any movie since the 1954 original film.

The new trailer they just released for the Asian audience is mighty persuasive.

I was curious to see if they were going to make it all the way to the release of the film without showing any clear images of the Muto, the big weird crazy monsters that are Godzilla's major adversaries in the film. This may not show you everything about them from head to toe, but it offers up the best look yet at the scale of the film.

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<p>In my perfect world, Monty Python never aged and they made 90 more films that were every bit as good as &#39;Holy Grail&#39;</p>

In my perfect world, Monty Python never aged and they made 90 more films that were every bit as good as 'Holy Grail'

Credit: SPHE

Monty Python reunion set for worldwide simulcast on July 20

Will you be heading to a theater to see these comedy legends together?

It would be impossible for me to quantify the impact that Monty Python had on my world view and my sense of humor. I discovered them at the exact right moment for them to end up being formative for me, and the original series as well as their films are all burned into me on a genetic level by this point. It's not that I've seen all of it a number of times… I have quite literally internalized all things Python to the point where I can't imagine who I'd be if there was no Monty Python.

Even so, I didn't even consider trying to get a ticket to their upcoming reunion show because I figured it would be a losing battle, and why get worked up over something I'd never be able to actually do?

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From 'Steel' to 'Batman and Robin,' the 15 worst comic book movies of all time
Credit: Warner Bros/20th Century Fox/New Line

From 'Steel' to 'Batman and Robin,' the 15 worst comic book movies of all time

How do our favorite heroes turn up in so many terrible movies?

Right now, my kids are burning through several big-screen franchises that had previously been off-limits to them, and sitting through some of the films with them is, to say the least, difficult.

It's difficult not only because several of the movies are wretched, but because I am very, very careful not to tip my own feelings about some of these movies to them as we're watching. I want them to have their own reactions. I want them to feel free to enjoy anything they enjoy. Toshi's eight, and Allen's six, and if they think Jim Carrey is amazing as The Riddler, then I want them to feel free to think that.

Fresh exposure to the highs and lows of how Hollywood has treated some of these characters has been on my mind for the last week anyway as the entire HitFix editorial team tackled the task of putting together a list of the worst superhero films ever made.

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<p>Yep. That&#39;s the Justice League.</p>

Yep. That's the Justice League.

Credit: DC Comics

It's official: Zack Snyder set to direct 'Justice League'

But let's hold off on calling this a shared universe, okay?

Today's not-remotely-shocking news is that Zack Snyder will officially direct "Justice League" for Warner Bros as soon as he's done with "Man Of Steel 2."

For the most part, all this does is clarify the situation. After all, since the moment the conversation about the sequel to "Man Of Steel" began, the question about Warner's entire game plan regarding the DC universe has been in play. Each new announcement about the film has added new characters to the mix. Ben Affleck's onboard as Batman. Gal Gadot is set to play Wonder Woman. Just last week, they hired Sam Fisher to play Cyborg. It seems obvious that they're seeding things for more movies down the road, and now they've called the shot.

Greg Silverman, president of worldwide production for the studio, made it official in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. There's a hilariously breathless quote midway through his story that pretty much explains why they were given the story. "The plans for three superhero movies in relatively quick succession show how intent Warner is on catching up with rival Walt Disney Co.'s Marvel Studios in building a cinematic superhero universe after years lagging behind."

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<p>When is someone going to photoshop this image of Sandra Bullock into the ending of &#39;2001&#39;? Asking for a friend.</p>

When is someone going to photoshop this image of Sandra Bullock into the ending of '2001'? Asking for a friend.

Credit: Warner Bros.

Has life in the age of casual magic made moviegoers numb to the amazing?

And if so, whose fault is that?

Certainly no one would accuse me of being shy about offering an opinion.

There are times, though, where that opinion isn't welcomed by a reader, and that's normally when I'm writing up a news story and I can't resist a wee bit of cynicism. I know that any time there is news about "Alice In Wonderland 2," I am openly skeptical of the need for that film. I understand that the first one made a billion dollars, but I'm not sure I actually know anyone who enjoyed it. I recently wrote about that when they picked a release date for the film, and I got several angry e-mails from people who resented my attitude, claiming once again that I was being too rough on the movie.

Taking a second look at what I firmly believe may be Tim Burton's worst film, I was struck by two things. First, it is a terrible movie, a frustratingly wrong-headed adaptation of the Lewis Carroll classic. Second, it is filled with visual marvels from start to finish, a technical accomplishment that would have, at one point in time, been impossible to realize.

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<p>Leslie Mann, Cameron Diaz, and Kate Upton struggle with the witless &#39;The Other Woman&#39;</p>

Leslie Mann, Cameron Diaz, and Kate Upton struggle with the witless 'The Other Woman'

Credit: 20th Century Fox

Review: Leslie Mann struggles valiantly but can't save the rotten 'The Other Woman'

HitFix
D+
Readers
n/a
I never thought I'd feel bad for Kate Upton

While I can't say "The Other Woman" is a good movie, I can say that it features at least one thing that is genuinely worth seeing.

The film that I kept thinking of as I watched this one was the Colin Higgins mega-hit "9 To 5," with Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, and Dolly Parton teaming up to kick the living crap out of their chauvinist boss Dabney Coleman. While I'm not sure I'd feel like that film held up if I saw it now, it tapped a very potent sense of simmering outrage. It was a well-timed shot across the bow in the cultural conversation on changing roles for women in the workplace.

"The Other Woman," on the other hand, is a largely ridiculous look at crappy rich white people who seem to have nothing to worry about besides what they do with their naughty bits. This is the feature debut of screenwriter Melissa Stack, and it strikes me as so resolutely phony from beginning to end that I'm not sure who the target audience is supposed to be. It doesn't help that Nick Cassavetes seems to have a real problem with maintaining a tone over the full running time. This thing swings from broad gross-out comedy to something that seems to be struggling to be a reflection of real life, and it never establishes a baseline reality. It is a strange misfire that is only saved from being a complete disaster by the efforts of the film's two leads.

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