Everything you need to know about the Marvel 'Avengers' fan event
Credit: Marvel Studios

Everything you need to know about the Marvel 'Avengers' fan event

Are they really going to end the world?

So now that we're at the other end of the day and a full slate of editorial pieces about what to expect from the movies announced today as part of the Marvel Phase Three plans, I'd like to offer up a few thoughts about today's stories.

First, I am not surprised to hear that "Thor: Ragnarok" was officially announced as the title of the new film. It was an even more apparent choice than "Captain America: Civil War." The last film ended with an apparently-dead Odin and with Loki sitting on the throne of Asgard. That seems like a really bad idea, and at the end of "Avengers: Age Of Ultron," I'm guessing Thor is going to have to go deal with whatever it is that Loki's been up to, since Kevin Feige confirmed today that "Ragnarok" is going to pick up mere moments after "Age of Ultron" ends.

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We live-blog all the details of Marvel's special Hollywood event
Credit: Marvel Studios

We live-blog all the details of Marvel's special Hollywood event

What secrets will they spill and which will they keep?

HOLLYWOOD - The El Capitan Theater is packed with press and fans alike for a special Marvel media event. No one's exactly sure why we've been called here this morning, but there's been plenty of speculation. Will they announce Doctor Strange officially? Will they confirm the title of "Captain America 3"? Are we going to see more footage from "Age Of Ultron"?

Whatever the case, I'm here to live-blog it for you as long as the El Capitan's wifi holds out, and we'll be digging deeper into this morning's announcements as the day progresses.

If you've never been to the El Capitan in Hollywood, it's Disney's flagship theater, ornate, restored to resemble a classic movie palace, complete with live organist. He's been playing since we started arriving at 10:00 this morning, and he's still cooking along now with not just Disney music but all sorts of classic movie themes. He knows how to play the nerd crowd, getting a big reaction for the theme from "Empire," among other highlights.

At 11:05, they're still trying to fill in seats with the fans who are outside and weren't able to get in. Marvel's packed the house, so I hope whatever they're doing today is the sort of thing that will play well with the crowd. It can't just be title treatments and a cast announcement, right? If they're putting this much effort into getting us all into the theater, then hopefully they're going to show us something fun. It would be a kick to see a real "Ant-Man" trailer, for example, or some footage from the movie, which is a little more than halfway through production at this point.

Finally, about ten minutes late, the organist launches into "Hooray For Hollywood," which is the signature closer for him during the regular pre-show entertainment here at the El Cap. The organ sinks into the stage, and it's time to get things going.

Curtains up, which is a production unto itself at this theater, and Kevin Feige takes center-stage. First up is the "Age of Ultron" trailer on the bigscreen. Looks and sounds amazing, of course, and then Feige comes out to discuss the film some more and to introduce Joss Whedon in the crowd, saying this is the wrap-up to Phase Two.

Feige talks about the box-office success of the first ten films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, taking particular pride in the way "Guardians Of The Galaxy" landed. Day 50 of photography on "Ant-Man" is underway today.

"But we didn't bring you here to tell you things that you already know..."

Today is about Phase Three. First up, "Captain America: Serpent Society," on May 6, 2016.

Then we get the title card for "Doctor Strange," which Feige has been talking about as long as he's been at Marvel Studios. The Russos are here, as is Scott Derrickson. Jon Spaihts is at work on the script right now, telling the story of the "arrogant surgeon who is in a car crash that ruins his hands, leading him on a journey that eventually brings him to the Ancient One, allowing him to tap into the supernatural, which involves everything from quantum mechanics to string theory, all of which you can manipulate with your hands and your thoughts."

That's November 4, 2016. Then on May 5, 2017, James Gunn will be back in theaters with the entire cast of "Guardians Of The Galaxy 2." They are moving it up from the July date they originally announced. That leaves open the July 28, 2017 date, and now they've moved another film onto that date. That's right... it's "Thor: Ragnarok." Feige confirmed that Loki will be returning, and that this is a major piece of the puzzle for the Phase Three films. This is going to be important to not just his story, but the rest of the Marvel Universe as well, picking up directly after the events of "Age Of Ultron."

November 3, 2017 is finally going to see the release of "Black Panther," which means Marvel isn't content letting DC go first on anything. Kevin gave a very subtle confirmation that the glimpse we got of Andy Serkis in the "Ultron" trailer is indeed Hugo Klaw.

He's skipping May 4, 2018 at first, going to July 6, 2018, when "Captain Marvel" gets her own movie, and it will be Carol Danvers. He refers to her as one of the most powerful characters in the entire Marvel universe. How to set her up properly, though?

November 2, 2018 is the 20th film Marvel will release, and "The Inhumans" will open the floodgates for new characters, according to Feige. He talked about what a huge opportunity "The Inhumans" presents.

Meanwhile, there is still that May 4, 2018 date, which he calls the culmination of everything that has come before. "Legend tells us one thing, history another. Every now and then, we find something that belongs to both." This is it. This is the moment that all of the legwork they've done so far comes toether, and the trailer they cut, using clips from everything we've seen so far, is a very effective way of summing up how far they've gone to lay this groundwork. The final shot of Thanos with the Infinity Gauntlet on his hand, along with the title "Avengers: Infinity War," with part one in May 2018 and part two in May 2019 is indeed the biggest throw-down they could make today.

Finally, there was a full scene from "Age Of Ultron," a different one from what will premiere during "Agents of SHIELD" tonight.

"Earth's mightiest heroes... and they pulled us apart like cotton candy." It's a short, tense conversation between Tony and Steve... and sure enough, the seeds of dissent in that clip lead to the reveal that the "Serpent Society" title  was a fake. The film will indeed be called "Civil War."

Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans came out to introduce Chadwick Boseman, who is officially set to play Black Panther, and he talked about feeling blessed to join the team.

Considering how big the game plan is, he's going to be busy for a long time.

That concludes the presentation part of the morning. There's a Q&A for the press that's going to be starting now, but we'll cover that in a separate piece. We wanted to share the main event with you as it unfolded, and there were plenty of big surprises that were part of the reveal. I am thrilled with the Boseman casting. I think he's a star on the rise, and it's a great get for Marvel.

Downey and Ruffalo spill the secrets of Iron Man and Hulk in 'Avengers: Age Of Ultron'
Credit: Marvel Studios

Downey and Ruffalo spill the secrets of Iron Man and Hulk in 'Avengers: Age Of Ultron'

Brace yourself for the best Ruffalo quote of all time

One of the first things we saw as we stepped out of our bus on the Shepperton Studios lot outside of London was a golf cart carrying Captain America.

Suffice it to say, spending a day with The Avengers is very strange.

While I've attended set visits for many of the films that make up the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I did not visit the set of "The Avengers." I've met each of the individual members of the team, many of them in costume as these characters, but there's something different about being on a set with all of them at once.

Between now and the May release of "Avengers: Age Of Ultron," the mega-sequel to one of the biggest films of all time, we'll have a number of reports from the set, where I joined a large group of journalists to not only watch a key scene from the film being shot, but also to interview pretty much every major member of the cast.

At this point, Robert Downey Jr. has become a familiar face, and I've had many conversations with him about his work as Tony Stark. The latest began with another reporter asking Downey about his reaction to Joss Whedon's script for the sequel.

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Benedict Cumberbatch has reportedly been cast as Sorcerer Supreme 'Doctor Strange'
Credit: AP Photo/Joel Ryan

Benedict Cumberbatch has reportedly been cast as Sorcerer Supreme 'Doctor Strange'

Now that they've found the Sorcerer Supreme, who's next?

Sometimes it's funny the way these things work out. When the casting rumors began for "Doctor Strange," one of the very first names attached to the role was Benedict Cumberbatch. During this year's San Diego Comic-Con, I was convinced that the real reason Cumberbatch was in San Diego had nothing to do with the "Penguins of Madagascar" film, and that Marvel was going to bring him out and introduce him as the Sorcerer Supreme.

At that time, though, Marvel was evidently deep in conversations with Joaquin Phoenix. I still have trouble seeing him in the role, and knowing how reluctant he is to repeat himself from film to film, the idea of locking him into a six-film contract to play one character seemed like lunacy to me.

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Review: McConaughey gives heart to Nolan's ambitious and amazing 'Interstellar'
Credit: Paramount Pictures/Warner Bros

Review: McConaughey gives heart to Nolan's ambitious and amazing 'Interstellar'

HitFix
B+
Readers
n/a
Narrative issues keep this one from connecting completely, but it is impressive

The single greatest moment in human history, that particular kernel of time in which all of our best nature triumphed over all of our worst, was when we first set foot on the moon. The idea that we started as basic tool users at some point in our past, looked up into the sky, pointed at that thing overhead and said, "We are going there," is completely insane, and yet, we did that.

One of the primary themes of Christopher Nolan's highly-anticipated new film "Interstellar" is that we are in danger as a species when we lose our drive to explore. The film is set in a future where we have had to give our full attention to survival, when the idea of space travel is off the table completely. And while that seems extreme, considering the way the world felt when I was a kid living two hours from Cape Canaveral in Florida to the way it feels now, space travel has become something that is either about to be a novelty for the rich (maybe) or something that we do begrudgingly, and with as little financial involvement as possible. It's disturbing, frankly, and I would rather see the courage of every single person who puts on a uniform to fight for our country harnessed in service of exploration and making our species better than used to continue to fight over the diminishing resources of the rock we are currently anchored to.

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Why Jesse Eisenberg's Luthor is a great fit for 'Suicide Squad'
Credit: Lionsgate

Why Jesse Eisenberg's Luthor is a great fit for 'Suicide Squad'

Just how weird is DC going to let this one get?

"Suicide Squad" may be the smartest title on the entire slate of DC Comic movies announced recently by Warner Bros. With David Ayer onboard to direct, this is the story of how some of the nastiest bad guys in the DC Universe are pressed into service to do something for the government. It can play rougher than other DC movies and it would seem appropriate.

One of the key characters in any "Suicide Squad" movie should be Harley Quinn, the Joker's psychotic girlfriend, but I'm not sure if they're including her or not. Just because there is a rumor that Margot Robbie is being courted to star in the film, that doesn't mean they're using Quinn. I'd love to see Robbie play her, I think. That sounds terrifying. And sort of awesome. She could also easily be Amanda Waller, the doctor who puts the team together. But that's assuming she's even in talks with the studio, which I wouldn't bet on based on the way things were worded at the DC stockholder's meeting.

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Review: 'Big Hero 6' is a safe but solid Marvel superhero movie in a Disney world
Credit: Walt Disney Feature Animation

Review: 'Big Hero 6' is a safe but solid Marvel superhero movie in a Disney world

HitFix
B
Readers
n/a
We'll see these characters again, but it feels like this one's almost too easy

One of the things that fanboys asked the moment Marvel was sold to Disney was, "Does this mean we'll see Pixar superhero movies?"

With Brad Bird currently working on a screenplay for "The Incredibles 2," Pixar has no need to get into the Marvel business, and Marvel's live-action movies are so successful that I can't really imagine them handling over a viable franchise to an animated division. Walt Disney Feature Animation was given permission to go through Marvel's vast catalog of characters to see if there was anything in there that they might spark to, anything they could make their own, and when they found "Big Hero 6," an obscure team book created by Man Of Action's Duncan Rouleau and Steven T. Seagle, they found their way in.

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Todd Solondz returns to Dawn Weiner, but a new actor will step in to play the part
Credit: IFC Films

Todd Solondz returns to Dawn Weiner, but a new actor will step in to play the part

Greta Gerwig's a strong choice, but to what effect?

Todd Solondz has always built his characters into an interconnected world. "Welcome To The Dollhouse" was the film that served as our introduction to his misanthropic take on the world, and it also introduced us to the character who remains my favorite out of all of his, Dawn Weiner.

Played by Heather Matarazzo, Dawn Weiner was a beautiful outsider, a blissfully dorky little girl whose struggle to figure out how to fit in the 7th grade was both funny and painful, and Solondz wrote her with a remarkable amount of empathy. I would argue that Solondz has not been able to always strike that same balance and many of his films feel more mean, like he's an angry god raining on his own personal Jobs just for the hell of it.

In both "Palindromes" and "Life During Wartime," characters from "Dollhouse" made a reappearance, but the character we would most want to see again is the one who has remained offstage this entire time, and so today's news is genuinely exciting. It sounds like Solondz has finally decided to revisit Dawn, and not just as a side character in someone else's movie. After all, his next project is called "Weiner-Dog."

The title has a double-meaning, since anyone who remembers "Welcome To The Dollhouse" knows that was Dawn's nickname from the bullies who teased her. This new movie is going to feature several stories all connected by a dachshund. In one of those stories, we'll see that Dawn Weiner is now played by Greta Gerwig. That's a pretty major transformation, and I'm curious to see what Solondz has in mind by taking an indie sweetheart like Gerwig and casting her as the grown-up Dawn. After all, Matarazzo is still acting, and I'd love to see her take on the character now. For her to have transformed into Gerwig, I'm hoping Solondz has a thematic point.

We'll see. The film's still casting right now, and it sounds like they're not locked down completely in terms of financing. With Megan Ellison involved, though, I'm going to bet we'll see this one happen, and I'm really curious now to find out if it's going to be worth the wait.

Review: 'Ouija' is by the numbers, full of mechanical scares and nothing else
Credit: Universal Pictures

Review: 'Ouija' is by the numbers, full of mechanical scares and nothing else

HitFix
C
Readers
n/a
It's like an entire film of a weird old man at a gas station warning the kids 'you're going to die'

"Ouija" is professionally made, a classically-styled ghost story/mystery, and perhaps the single strangest piece of product placement ever made. It is also, unfortunately, so by-the-numbers that it feels like it was made by a computer program designed to simulate horror films.

Juliet Snowden and Stiles White have been co-writers on films like "The Possession" and "Knowing," but this time out, White is also directing. He knows what he's doing, and the way the film is made, it looks and feels exactly like it's supposed to feel. It is the very model of what Blumhouse wants to make. It's slick. It's simple and self-contained. It has a very immediate and understandable hook. It should work.

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Hulk and Iron Man go head to head in apocalyptic 'Avengers: Age Of Ultron' trailer

Hulk and Iron Man go head to head in apocalyptic 'Avengers: Age Of Ultron' trailer

The Scarlet Witch and her powers play a big role in this first peek at next summer's mega-sequel

My first impression of the new "Avengers: Age Of Ultron" trailer is that Joss Whedon appears to have taken some of the criticisms of his shooting style on the first film to heart. Even as the film became one of the biggest hits of all time, I read plenty of comments about how Whedon's eye still seemed more suited to the small screen than to movie theaters.

That does not appear to be a problem on "Age Of Ultron."

"I'm going to show you something beautiful…"

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