See, this is why you don't tell Sam Jackson anything.
In a short conversation with the Wall Street Journal, Jackson confirmed a casting rumor that has been persistent for the last few months. He was talking about "Avengers: Age Of Ultron," and said, "I know we're shooting in London, that James Spader is Ultron and going to be the bad guy, and that we added Ms. Elizabeth Olsen, but I don't know what she's doing."
He doesn't specifically say that she is playing The Scarlet Witch, but that's the role she's been circling for a while now. Olsen and Jackson are both in the Spike Lee remake of "Oldboy" that comes out at the end of November, and she's been in the mix for this part basically since Whedon first mentioned that Wanda Maximoff would be part of the "Avengers" sequel.
See, this is why you don't tell Sam Jackson anything.
This entire film baffles me.
When "The Hunt For Red October" was published, what turned that book from a small press specialty fetish item into an international blockbuster was the dense wall of technospeak that Tom Clancy threw at readers.
I've always loved the way Clancy's story unfolded in real life. He couldn't get anyone to see past the curtain of detail that made it feel like he lived and breathed military technology, and so he ended up publishing the book through The Naval Institute Press. Ronald Reagan was the one who mentioned it during a press conference, immediately sending it onto reading lists around the world, and it launched Clancy's career in a major way as a result, eventually spawning a movie franchise. It was like when JFK admitted that he was a fan of Ian Fleming's James Bond novels. It was the ultimate dream of what an endorsement can do, and the entire industry that was built around Clancy wouldn't have happened if Reagan had not read the book.
Wait… is this actually going to happen?
I'm kidding, but only because it seems like Edgar Wright has been attached to "Ant-Man" for a while now. That's the thing about the Marvel Studios game plan. They are willing to spend years developing something if they feel like the payoff will be worth it, and "Ant-Man" may have seemed like an unlikely pick at first.
The truth is that the character is a lynchpin to the Marvel Universe, and introducing him to the continuity is going to allow them to do all sorts of things. It'll make it easier to bring in The Wasp, it will give Tony Stark an intellectual sparring partner, and it will open up a number of classic "Avengers" storylines.
By now, it's clear that Joss Whedon's plans for Ultron in "Avengers: Age Of Ultron" will introduce that character in a way that will break from his classic origin, where he was the creation of Hank Pym, who is the brilliant scientist also known as Ant-Man. After all, even though "Ant-Man" is currently scheduled for a summer 2015 release, it's going to be after "Avengers: Age Of Ultron" opens.
So what, then, is Edgar Wright doing this week in Los Angeles?
Okay, so I finally figured it out. "Simon Kinberg" isn't actually a single person. It's a collective of people who are able to crank out massive amounts of work at any given moment. He's part of the team of writers working on "Star Wars," he's a jack-of-all-trades on "X-Men: Days Of Future Past," he just had "Elysium" in theaters, and now he's also writing "Fantastic Four" while he produces Mark Millar's "Kindergarten Heroes."
Is that correct?
Is that seriously what is happening?
Holy cow, see what I mean? No way one guy's doing all of that at the same time.
Last week, Alan Sepinwall wrote about the premiere episode of Marvel's first foray into weekly television, but tonight, he passes the torch to me. I'm going to be writing the recaps for the series each week here on HitFix, and I'm curious to see if this becomes can't-miss television for me the way previous Whedon shows have been.
The pilot episode probably had more expectations placed on it than any other TV show in recent memory, at least from the fans who you would expect to be the target audience. I'm not sure exactly what anyone else expected from a Marvel TV show, but looking at the first episode, it's about what I thought it would be. The stories have to be smaller scale than the things we've seen in the movies so far, and it's a procedural, so they need to try to create self-contained plots that drive the show while they parcel out bits and pieces of information for the larger mythology.
I liked the gadgetry in the first episode, and I think the cast is solid. Brett Dalton's got the sort of character to play that is going to be hard to make interesting, only because someone has to be the straight man while everyone else gets to be quirky or eccentric. I'm curious to see how they fill in the backstory for Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen), and I already enjoy the chemistry for Fitz/Simmons (Iain De Caestecker and Elizabeth Henstridge).
"Family friendly" and "Mark Millar" are not normally used in the same sentence.
Even so, it appears that 20th Century Fox is planning to give it a shot with "Kindergarten Heroes," a new movie that Carter Blanchard just signed on to write with Simon Kinberg producing. The book does not appear to actually exist yet, and the only artwork I could find for it online is what looks like the front of a book, but I can't find any listing anywhere that would indicate that you actually buy that book.
Selling unpublished material before it hits the stand is nothing new for Millar. I thought it was very interesting when I was on the set of "Kick-Ass" and some of the issues existed only as rough artwork and some story notes. Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman's script actually fed back into the way Millar was thinking, and that cross-traffic is one of the things that made that so much fun for all involved.
As a producer, Kinberg is a busy man these days. He's one of the guys in the mix for the new wave of "Star Wars" films that will kick off with "Episode VII," presumably arriving in theaters in December of 2015. He just produced "Elysium," and he's right there in the midst of things for "X-Men: Days Of Future Past" as well.
I honestly never expected to see Kenny Powers again.
The end of the third season was such a decisive conclusion, giving him the happy ending that he needed instead of the one he wanted, that I figured we were done with him as a character. After all, heading into that season, Jody Hill and Danny McBride and David Gordon Green all seemed relatively sure that they were done with him, and if they felt like they were finished, who were we to argue?
The very end of that final episode, though, threw so many big ideas at us so quickly that it went from feeling like the finish of something to feeling like a giant challenge. Once your lead character fakes his own death to walk away from his dream life in professional sports, can he really just go home and live a happy domestic life?
If the first major creative choice in your latest entry in a franchise irritates and alienates every fan of that property, maybe you might want to rethink things.
Consider this a warning: if you read any further, there's a good chance you're going to have the new book about Bridget Jones totally ruined for yourself, as well as elements of "Dumb and Dumber To," last night's "Breaking Bad," and other things as well. It may be too late, since most of the headlines I've seen today have almost gleefully given it away, but I'd rather give you the choice about whether or not you want to know right now. It seems like more and more often now, the assumption is that you have no right whatsoever to expect that you will remain unspoiled after the split-second something airs, and it seems like even before that now, we're just going to have accept that we have no control over how we digest a narrative.
Considering how long they've been a studio and how strong a brand they've created in the global marketplace, Walt Disney Studios seems to constantly be reinventing themselves. Right now, they are in the middle of what seems to be a major shift in terms of identity, turning into a sort of brand-management superstore.
After all, they've got Pixar, Marvel, and "Star Wars" all under the broader Disney logo these days, and I hear there's another mega-brand that they're possibly going to purchase soon. Disney's production slate no longer offers up original material. Instead, you're going to see those brands and nothing else. Even when Pixar makes a non-sequel, it's all about the "Pixar" brand, and that's what Disney is selling over any of their individual titles.
Now it looks like we're seeing another emerging trend at the studio, live-action remakes of their fairy tale classics. "Maleficent" revealed some footage at this year's D23 Expo, and it's amazing how carefully they've worked to recreate the exact look of the "Sleeping Beauty" world and how much every member of the cast looks like the animated versions of the characters. The studio is also making "Cinderella" right now, with Kenneth Branagh directing what he promises will be a very faithful rendition of the story as Disney told it.
When I was at the Toronto Film Festival recently, I had a chance to talk to Spike Jonze about his new film "Her" and several other subjects. In particular, I told him a story about sharing "Where The Wild Things Are" with my sons and how it represented a major turning point in the emotional life of my family. He seemed struck by what I said, and I told him that I was planning to write about the experience for my ongoing Film Nerd 2.0 column.
The truth is, I've been struggling to figure out how to write this one for a while now, ever since the screening, and it's been difficult to find the right way in. Even considering how personal much of this column has been, this one has been hard for me to grapple with because, unlike many of these columns, this one isn't all warm and fuzzy. I am well aware that I spend more time talking about my kids in print than some people might like. I have gotten e-mails and comments and direct messages from many people asking me to either scale it back or stop altogether. "I just want to read movie reviews," one guy e-mailed me, "and I don't give a shit what your kids think."