May 12, 2015 | 12:04 p.m.

‘Lucy’ director Luc Besson drafts Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne for sci-fi ‘Valerian’

“Lucy” and “The Fifth Element” director Luc Besson is returning to live-action sci-fi, and he’s bringing two rising stars with him. Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne will suit up as the leads in “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets,” based on Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mezieres’ comic “Valerian and Laureline,” first published in France in 1967. The titular heroes are special agents able to manipulate space-time. The characters had many adventures together in the comic, with the final installment published in 2010, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Besson is aiming to launch a new film franchise. The French filmmaker announced the news on Twitter, starting with his first tweet since joining the social network: My first tweet ever! Let’s share a real news! My next film is a big sci-fi: #Valerian and the City of […]
May 12, 2015 | 8:00 a.m.

Joss Whedon: Making latest ‘Avengers’ film ‘a little bit broke me’

“Avengers: Age of Ultron” is dominating the box office, earning more than $312 domestically so far. But when director Joss Whedon was in the thick of production on the Marvel sequel, he was terrified of failure. Whedon — previously best known for creating cult darling TV shows such as “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” its spinoff series “Angel,” the sci-fi Western “Firefly” and the short-lived “Dollhouse” — hit box office gold with his 2012 blockbuster “The Avengers,” the first tentpole film in Marvel’s mega-franchise. “Avengers” was praised for its wit, warmth and careful balancing of its all-star superhero roster. Before that film’s opening, Whedon said he had mixed feelings about the possibility of directing its sequel. “You know, I’m very torn,” Whedon told Hero Complex in 2012. “It’s an enormous amount of work telling what is ultimately somebody else’s story, even […]
May 09, 2015 | 10:47 a.m.

‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’: Scarlett Johansson on Black Widow’s journey

In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Scarlett Johansson’s spy-assassin Black Widow stands apart from the rest of the Avengers. Widow, also known as Natasha Romanoff, doesn’t have superpowers, a stand-alone film or a plethora of action figures. Until the events of “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” she was the team’s only female member. And unlike her Avengers companions who have families and friends outside the super-team to protect, Widow lacks human ties to the world she’s trying to save. “Age of Ultron” explores Widow’s desire for connection, revealing her painful past and redefining her role on the team. “Regardless of gender, characters work when they have substance and when they are grounded in something that is visceral and true,” Johansson told the Los Angeles Times last month. “I loved that she is sort of this reluctant superhero, that she is kind of a […]
May 08, 2015 | 5:11 p.m.

Flashback Friday: Revisiting Arnold Schwarzenegger’s breakout hit ‘Conan the Barbarian’

Today’s theatrical release of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s latest film, “Maggie,” offers a chance to revisit “Conan the Barbarian,” the 1982 film which helped establish the former bodybuilder as a bona fide action star. Though Schwarzenegger had acted in previous films, “Conan” served as a breakout role. The cinematic tale revolves around Conan’s quest to avenge his parents’ deaths, after seeing them die at the hands of Thulsa Doom (James Earl Jones), the leader of a cult of snake-worshipers. Schwarzenegger’s physique was the embodiment of the fantasy hero as depicted by illustrator Frank Frazetta. The Cimmerian was created by Robert E. Howard for Weird Tales Magazine in 1932, but Frazetta is credited for redefining the graphic representation of Conan in the 1960s. “If ever there was a Frazetta hero come alive, it’s Schwarzenegger, who developed his awesome bulk with a careful eye […]
May 07, 2015 | 11:22 a.m.

D23 Expo: Marvel, ‘Star Wars’ films to be showcased at Disney convention

The ever-expanding portfolio of Team Mickey Mouse will be showcased at this year’s D23 Expo, the all-things-Disney convention presented by its official fan club, D23. Disney confirmed Thursday morning that upcoming films from the Marvel and “Star Wars” universes will be previewed at the August convention. Additionally, fans will get a peek at what’s to come at Disney theme parks, no doubt a look at the “Avatar”-inspired land under construction in Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom but perhaps some news on a much-anticipated Star Wars land (Hero Complex’s fingers are crossed). Tickets for the D23 Expo are currently on sale, with single-day passes for adults starting at $67 (cheaper for D23 members). A three-day pass for the Aug. 14-16 convention at the Anaheim Convention Center currently runs $196 for adults, with prices set to rise after June 30. The D23 Expo was last staged in Anaheim […]
May 07, 2015 | 10:34 a.m.

‘Captain America: Civil War’ to feature Black Panther, Ant-Man and new Avengers

Production has begun on Marvel’s “Captain America: Civil War,” the third film in the franchise starring Chris Evans as the star-spangled superhero. Cap will have plenty of company in the follow-up, including Black Panther and Avengers old and new. The film features veteran Avengers Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), and new Avengers Falcon (Anthony Mackie), the Vision (Paul Bettany), War Machine (Don Cheadle) and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen). “Civil War” also stars Sebastian Stan, who reprises his “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” role, and “Ant-Man” star Paul Rudd, who will make his first appearance alongside the Avengers. “Winter Soldier” cast members Emily VanCamp (Sharon Carter/Agent 13) and Frank Grillo (Brock Rumlow/Crossbones) are also returning, as well as William Hurt, who appeared in Marvel’s “The Incredible Hulk” as General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross. Newcomers […]
May 06, 2015 | 12:39 p.m.

‘Ant-Man’: New poster features Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas and more

Scott Lang is anything but ant-sized in the new official “Ant-Man” poster. Just after “Avengers: Age of Ultron” made its North American debut, earning $191.3 million in the domestic box office over the weekend for the second-best domestic opening ever, Marvel has released its second official “Ant-Man” poster to remind fans that there is more superhero action to come in the summer. The poster features Ant-Man standing tall in his full suit as Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang, Ant-Man’s alter ego, peers over one shoulder. Over Ant-Man’s other shoulder is Dr. Hank Pym, played by Michael Douglas, as if to symbolize how Ant-Man shoulders both Lang’s less-than-stellar past as well as Dr. Pym’s expectations. Others featured in the poster include Evangeline Lilly, who plays Pym’s daughter Hope Van Dyne (who you may recall lands a solid right cross in the official […]
May 05, 2015 | 2:46 p.m.

Exclusive: Darick Robertson draws inspiration from ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’

Fans who just can’t wait to take in all the post-apocalyptic mayhem, muscles and muscle cars of the long-awaited “Mad Max: Fury Road” can get an early fix in Vertigo’s new hardcover book, “Mad Max: Fury Road — Inspired Artists.” The book collects 65 noted comic book artists and presents their unique visions of the film — the first entry in the George Miller-directed franchise in 30 years. As you’d expect, the diverse array of artists — including Michael Allred, Jim Lee, Bill Sienkiewicz, Tara McPherson, Paul Pope, Eric Powell, Cliff Chiang, David Mack, Gilbert Hernandez and many more — offer a wide variety of styles, although the subject largely remains the same: Crash. Boom. Bang. Repeat. As a sneak peek at what readers can expect, the exclusive image at the top of this article is by Eisner nominee Darick Robertson, who co-created “Transmetropolitan” […]
May 05, 2015 | 11:59 a.m.

Joss Whedon talks Black Widow’s painful past, romantic relationships and more

Warning: This post contains spoilers. Rumors are buzzing about the reasons behind “Avengers: Age of Ultron” director Joss Whedon’s decision to leave Twitter, with some observers blaming fan backlash about Black Widow’s role in the Marvel film. Portrayed on the big screen by Scarlett Johansson, Black Widow, a.k.a. Natasha Romanoff, is a spy who abandons U.S.S.R. secret ops to fight for the good guys, joining S.H.I.E.L.D. and later the Avengers Initiative. One version of her origin story in the comics reveals that Natasha was raised by the so-called Black Widow Ops program at the covert “Red Room” complex, brainwashed from childhood and trained in combat and espionage. It’s this back story that makes its way to the silver screen in Whedon’s “Avengers” sequel in an emotional exchange between Widow and Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner, with both characters lamenting their inability […]
May 05, 2015 | 7:00 a.m.

Updated: ‘The Force Awakens’ details, Captain Phasma revealed in Vanity Fair photos

Aliens, droids, dark lords and pilots — all captured by the camera of legendary photographer Annie Leibovitz. That’s what the latest issue of Vanity Fair has on display, featuring key interviews and revealing exclusive on-set images of the J.J. Abrams-directed “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” Watch the video at the top of the post for a behind-the-scenes peek at Leibovitz’s shoot. Here are some of the juiciest tidbits for fans dying to know more about the mysteries of “The Force Awakens”: — Abrams promises that “Episode VII” will “return to the franchise’s roots with a newfound commitment to practical effects,” including a Millennium Falcon set that inspired tears of joy from the crew and an actual working X-Wing (OK, maybe it doesn’t really fly, but it looks as if it could). — Among the film’s potential practical elements? Jar Jar Binks’ bones. His […]
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