May 02, 2015 | 9:30 a.m.

‘Star Wars': Director Josh Trank exits standalone anthology film

Josh Trank, who was attached to direct a “Star Wars” standalone film, has exited the project. “I’m making a personal decision to move forward on a different path,” Trank said in a statement Friday. “I’ve put a tremendous amount of thought into this, and I know deep down in my heart that I want to pursue some original creative opportunities.” Trank was set to direct the second of several standalone “Star Wars” movies Lucasfilm has planned to exist alongside the existing trilogy, the prequel trilogy and the upcoming sequel trilogy. Few details have been unveiled about the film, which is expected to be released in 2018. Trank had been working on the project for a year. His absence from a planned presentation at last month’s Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim raised eyebrows, though Trank blamed the flu. Kiri Hart, Lucasfilm’s vice president of […]
May 02, 2015 | 9:00 a.m.

‘Avengers: Age of Ultron': Paul Bettany brings the Vision to life, bids Jarvis farewell

Paul Bettany as the Vision in "Avengers: Age of Ultron." (Marvel Entertainment)
Marvel’s lastest tentpole film “Avengers: Age of Ultron” introduces several mysterious new characters to the superheroic team. One of the most intriguing additions is the Vision, played by Paul Bettany. For those who haven’t seen “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” be warned: Spoilers lie ahead. The film sees Tony Stark’s operating system and virtual butler Jarvis (a name derived from the acronym for “Just a Rather Very Intelligent System”) transform into a being not unlike the villainous Ultron in terms of power and intelligence, but on the opposite end of the spectrum in terms of worldview. Hero Complex sat down with Bettany, who voiced Jarvis in the previous Marvel films, to talk about becoming the Vision. When did you find out that your role was expanding? About three years ago I got a phone call from Joss Whedon, and it was […]
May 01, 2015 | 6:20 p.m.

‘Marvel Universe Live!’ stunt show stays true to ‘Avengers’ film franchise

'Marvel Universe Live!'
“You don’t need to wear that.” Madison Embrey, who plays the tough-minded “Avengers” pal Maria Hill in the traveling “Marvel Universe Live!” show, noticed me struggling with my seat belt. I had arrived at the Forum on Thursday to experience what it feels like to be an Avenger. This weekend, as “Avengers: Age of Ultron” commandeers control of American movie palaces, “Marvel Universe Live!” has parked itself at the Inglewood arena, where Iron Man, The Hulk, Black Widow, Spider-Man and more Marvel faces will punch and prance their way through a two-hour stunt show. My hope was to learn how to fire an arrow like Hawkeye. Instead, a souped-up car awaited me on the arena floor. The producers wanted to throw me into the deep end of the thrill-ride spectrum. Adrenaline first, skills later. Embrey was to be my copilot […]
May 01, 2015 | 4:08 p.m.

Paycheck Friday: Assemble your own ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ play set

'Avengers: Age of Ultron'
Welcome to a special all-Avengers installment of Paycheck Friday, a roundup of some of Hero Complex’s favorite geek merchandise including toys, games and books. “Avengers: Age of Ultron” hit theaters in North America today, so it’s only fitting that this week’s paycheck could be spent filling your own Avengers-themed toy box. Though statues and collectibles are definitely nice, for this installment we’re focusing on products that are best used after being torn out of their packaging for hands-on interaction. A must-have for any good toy box is a set of action figures, so the first item on this week’s roundup is this “Avengers: Age of Ultron” Captain America and Black Widow action figure set from Hasbro. It’s no secret that there is a slight disparity when it comes to the number of Black Widow figures compared with that of her […]
May 01, 2015 | 12:05 p.m.

‘Avengers: Age of Ultron': Hemsworth’s Thor looks beyond the god

Chris Hemsworth as Thor in "Avengers: Age of Ultron." (Disney / Marvel)
Chris Hemsworth has been a god for many movies now. In “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” director Joss Whedon’s sequel to 2012’s “The Avengers,” the Australian once again picks up the hammer of Thor, an Asgardian prince and the Norse god of thunder. Hemsworth’s Thor continued his feud with his brother Loki from the original “Avengers” in two solo features, with a third arriving in 2017. Being a warrior deity is a demanding job. “The last couple of years have been nuts, kind of since ‘Thor 1.’ Last year was the hardest because I did two films back to back and was trying to lose weight through all of them,” Hemsworth said. With such a powerful character, many of Hemsworth’s concerns for “Age of Ultron” and his character were physical. Weight was an issue (“Losing the weight is being underfed and […]
April 30, 2015 | 3:34 p.m.

‘X-Men: Apocalypse': Bryan Singer offers first look at Jubilee and Jean Grey

'X-Men: Apocalypse'
“X-Men: Apocalypse” director Bryan Singer has shared the first behind-the-scenes look of his mutants from the set of his upcoming film. As if to remind the world that the “Avengers” are not the only superpowered Marvel team on the block, Singer took to Instagram on Thursday to reveal an image of Lana Condor and Sophie Turner as their mutant counterparts Jubilee and Jean Grey. Fun second day with @sophie_789 @lanacondor #JeanGrey #Jubilee #XMEN #XMenApocalypse A photo posted by Bryan Singer (@bryanjaysinger) on Apr 30, 2015 at 9:10am PDT If Jubilee and Jean’s fashion choices were not enough of an indication, Singer’s previous Instagram photo from the set offers further evidence that at least part of the film will take place “around 1983.” Fans were also treated to the first official look at Kodi Smit-McPhee as Nightcrawler on 20th Century Fox’s […]
April 30, 2015 | 9:55 a.m.

Throwback Thursday: ‘Iron Man’ starts up a super-franchise

Billionaire industrialist Tony Stark is Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) in "Iron Man." (Zade Rosenthal / Marvel)
With “The Avengers: Age of Ultron” hitting U.S. theaters tonight, this week’s edition of Throwback Thursday revisits “Iron Man,” the film that kicked off the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Released seven years ago this weekend, on May 2, 2008, “Iron Man” followed the success of Sony’s “Spider-Man” and Fox’s “X-Men.” “Iron Man” opened to positive reviews, and ticket sales skyrocketed. The film earned $102 million during opening weekend and eventually grossed $585 million at the international box office. Comic book fans and critics praised Robert Downey Jr.’s cocky performance as billionaire playboy philanthropist Tony Stark, validating what had been seen as a questionable casting decision. “There were people in our company who directly said, ‘No. You can’t [cast Downey]. Next,” Marvel Studios President and producer Kevin Feige told The Times shortly before the film’s release. But Feige and director Jon Favreau […]
April 30, 2015 | 5:00 a.m.

Scarlett Johansson, Elizabeth Olsen discuss ‘Avengers’ heroines’ move to front lines

"Avengers: Age of Ultron" actresses Elizabeth Olsen and Scarlett Johansson are photographed at Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, Calif. on April 11, 2015. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
Elizabeth Olsen is doing more than bringing the Marvel Comics character Scarlet Witch to the big screen in Friday’s tentpole film “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” She’s also doubling the number of women on the Avengers roster. “It’s really cool, and I don’t take it for granted,” said Olsen, 26, a self-professed fan of the comic book film franchise. Previously, Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff, a.k.a. Black Widow, was the sole female member of the muscle-bound team of super-studs, comprising Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man, Chris Evans’ Captain America, Chris Hemsworth’s Thor, Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk and Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye. With four Marvel movies under her utility belt and a fifth (“Captain America: Civil War”) slated to begin filming next week, Johansson, 30, is a veteran of the flourishing Marvel Cinematic Universe. And she’s eager to welcome more women to the franchise. “For […]
April 28, 2015 | 11:27 a.m.

‘Star Wars': Mark Hamill shares family photos from ‘Return of the Jedi’

Mark Hamill's photos
“Star Wars” is a family affair. While the “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” trailer that premiered during the film’s panel at Star Wars Celebration pays homage to a memorable family moment from “Return of the Jedi” between Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker and Carrie Fisher’s Princess Leia, Hamill’s on-screen family was not his only one in the spotlight during the fan convention earlier this month. During a backstage interview for with voice actor James Arnold Taylor, Hamill shared some family photos that were taken during the filming of “Return of the Jedi.” Hamill’s photos capture behind-the-scenes moments on the set of “Jedi” with his wife Marilou and son Nathan, who is the biggest “Star Wars” fans out of Hamill’s three children, the actor reveals during the interview. The images show young Nathan hiding inside of R2-D2, sitting on the Emperor’s […]
April 28, 2015 | 11:04 a.m.

‘Avengers: Age of Ultron': Elizabeth Olsen talks Scarlet Witch’s ‘Wiggly Woo’

Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch in "Avengers: Age Of Ultron." (Film Frame / Marvel Studios)
Last summer, Elizabeth Olsen starred opposite Aaron Taylor-Johnson in Gareth Edwards’ big-budget reboot of “Godzilla.” On Friday, the duo is back on screen once more, playing twins Wanda and Pietro Maximoff in Joss Whedon’s highly anticipated Marvel sequel, “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” Olsen, previously known for her acclaimed turns in such indie films as “Martha Marcy May Marlene” and “Kill Your Darlings,” said she’s enjoyed helping the sequel move in a somewhat stranger direction. “I think she allows the Avengers universe to become a little more supernatural, which I think is a cool access rather than just having Asgard as their access to something supernatural,” Olsen said. Hero Complex caught up with the actress on the “Ultron” set in London to discuss her relationship with Scarlet Witch, working with Whedon and her rapport with Taylor-Johnson. Were you familiar with Scarlet Witch […]
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