Margaret Wappler

Aug. 11, 2014 | 1:22 p.m.

‘Game of Thrones’ actor J.J. Murphy dies, role won’t be recast

The Night's Watch, with actors Mark Stanley and Ben Crompton. (Helen Sloan / HBO)
Belfast-born actor J.J. Murphy died Aug. 8, just four days into filming his scenes for HBO’s fantasy epic “Game of Thrones.” The actor, who was 86 years old, had been cast to play the eldest member of the Night’s Watch, Ser Denys Mallister. Murphy was one of the new additions to the ensemble cast of the sprawling hit series adapted from George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Fire and Ice” novels, which will return for its fifth season next year; show runners and executive producers D.B. Weiss and David Benioff will not be recasting the role. “He was a lovely man, and the best Denys Mallister we could have hoped for. And now his watch is ended,” Weiss and Benioff said in a joint statement. The veteran performer, who also had a role in the upcoming “Dracula Untold” alongside another “Game of Thrones” alum, […]
Aug. 06, 2014 | 9:00 a.m.

Scarlett Johansson talks Black Widow’s fighting style [video]

Scarlett Johansson was most recently on screen playing a chemically enhanced drug mule in Luc Besson’s sleeper hit “Lucy,” but it wasn’t the actress’ first action-packed role this year. Back in April, Johansson reprised her role as Natasha Romanoff (better known as Black Widow) in “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” conceived as Marvel’s answer to the gripping thrillers of the ’70s. The film, which sees Chris Evans’ Steve Rogers team up with Black Widow on a number of key missions, even as the patriotic superhero comes into conflict with S.H.I.E.L.D. leader Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford in a key supporting turn), currently stands as the highest grossing domestic release of 2014, having surpassed $259 million at the U.S. box office. Those who missed it in theaters — or simply want to see it again — now have a chance to catch […]
July 23, 2014 | 12:47 p.m.

‘Spider-Man’ spinoff ‘Sinister Six’ set for 2016, sequel pushed to 2018

Fans will have to wait a little longer to see Andrew Garfield swing back into theaters as Spider-Man. Sony Pictures announced Wednesday that “The Amazing Spider-Man 3″ has been delayed by two years. The film, which previously had been set to open June 2016, is now slotted for 2018. However, “The Sinister Six,” the Drew Goddard-directed vehicle that will focus on a cadre of Spider-Man villains, is now set to open on Nov. 11, 2016. Goddard, who won accolades for “Cabin in the Woods,” which he directed and co-wrote with Joss Whedon,  is also serving as executive producer on another Marvel Comics-inspired project, the upcoming “Daredevil” series for Netflix, which will star Charlie Cox as the blind superhero. Marc Webb is expected to remain in the director’s chair on “Amazing Spider-Man 3″ after his rousing success with 2012’s “The Amazing Spider-Man” […]
July 21, 2014 | 1:17 p.m.

‘Star Wars: Episode VII': J.J. Abrams reveals X-wing fighter in new video

x-wingstarwars - featured image
Want to take a spin in a battle-scarred X-wing starfighter? In his new video promoting Star Wars: A Force for Change, the charitable project benefiting UNICEF and offering a lucky fan a chance to appear in the upcoming “Star Wars: Episode VII,” director J.J. Abrams doesn’t offer the winner a ride in the X-wing, per se, but hey, it can’t hurt to dream big, right? The video, shot from the Pinewood Studios set in London, shows Abrams standing next to the single-passenger spacecraft, coated in planetary dust. Early speculation from fans online initially labeled the needle-nosed fighter as a Z-95 Headhunter, the clone starfighter first mentioned  in the “Star Wars” book “Han Solo at Star’s End” from 1979, but Lucasfilm verified via Twitter that it is indeed an X-wing. @CDCanimation It is in fact an Episode VII X-wing, not a Z-95. — Star Wars (@starwars) July 21, 2014 […]
July 09, 2014 | 7:18 p.m.

‘Guardians of the Galaxy': Rocket in sarcasm mode in new trailer

Marvel has released a special extended look at “Guardians of the Galaxy,” due in theaters Aug. 1, and it’s the most ‘tude that Rocket the talking raccoon has displayed yet — which is saying something for this wiseguy. Voiced by Bradley Cooper, the sarcastic member of the oddball band of fighters led by Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), laughs uproariously at his leader’s lack of a distinct plan. Apparently, Rocket, an organized type, wants more than roughly 12% of a battle strategy figured out. Watch the video here: Like many of the trailers before it, this new spot is soundtracked by the Runaways’ “Cherry Bomb,” adding to the impressive roster of songs that the “Guardians” trailers have employed, including Blue Swede’s version of “Hooked on a Feeling” and Norman Greenbaum’s sublime “Spirit in the Sky.” All the tracks, supposedly part of a mix tape Quill made […]
July 07, 2014 | 2:58 p.m.

Comic-Con 2014: ‘American Horror Story,’ ‘Salem’ and more witchy TV

Twentieth Century Fox will roll out several TV events at Comic-Con in San Diego later this month, including sneak peeks for new shows, panel discussions with old classics, live table reads, and a two-story signing booth on the convention floor. Angela Bassett, Kathy Bates, Orlando Jones and other stars from shows such as “American Horror Story,” “Salem,” “Witches of East End,” “Bones,” “24: Live Another Day” and “Sons of Anarchy” will be on hand to sign autographs, hobnob with the fans or speak on one of the 13 panels scheduled for the confab. To pull out a few highlights of interest to Hero Complex’s witchcraft fans, “Salem” will show peeks of its second season. The first original series from WGN, a Chicago network best known for showing Chicago Cubs baseball games and sitcom reruns, entered the crowded Sunday night spread in […]
July 02, 2014 | 2:01 p.m.

‘Batman: The Complete Television Series’ to get Comic-Con preview

Bap! Boom! Pow! “Batman: The Complete Television Series” will arrive with a bang at San Diego’s Comic-Con International in July, with a panel featuring Adam West (Batman), Burt Ward (Robin) and Julie Newmar (Catwoman, meow). The actors from the famed TV show that ran from 1966-1968 on Bat-channel ABC (and in syndication) will tease the release of “Batman: The Complete Television Series,” due in November. The dynamic duo fought crime for 120 episodes, all of which will be available and fully remastered in DV. Here’s a preview video: The revival of the campy but celebrated TV program ties into the 75th-anniversary celebration of the DC comics superhero. Throughout the year, DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. have been feting the Caped Crusader with the “Batman Eternal” weekly comics series, a 25th-anniversary edition DVD of Tim Burton’s Oscar-winning 1989 “Batman” film, new animated releases and more. There are also more screen […]
June 30, 2014 | 4:45 p.m.

Bryan Singer teases ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ on Instagram

bryan singer
“X-Men: Days of Future Past” director Bryan Singer launched a new Instagram account today with a photo of the first page of the treatment for “X-Men: Apocalypse,” the next installment in the booming franchise. The snapshot of the document, written with Simon Kinberg, Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris, reveals a few tantalizing details, including a “sprawling battle” at the Nile involving the Four Horsemen, who appeared in the end credits of “X-Men: Days of Future Past.” The treatment, dated June 6, couldn’t be touted at a better time. Singer’s current box-office concern, “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” just surpassed “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” this weekend to become the year’s internationally top-grossing film. The feature has raked in more than $713 million in just over a month, besting any other installment in the series. Singer’s legal troubles still loom — former model and actor Michael Egan filed a […]
June 26, 2014 | 4:10 p.m.

Batman 75: Warner Bros. VIP Studio Tour unveils ‘The Batman Exhibit’

Danny DeVito, who portrayed the Penguin in "Batman Returns," flips the switch on the Bat-signal at the opening of the "Batman Exhibit," celebrating the 75th anniversary of Batman at the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank. Props, costumes and vehicles from all seven of the Dark Knight's live-action feature films with the studio are on display at two locations within the tour. (Raul Roa / Glendale News-Press)
What does it feel like to flip on the Bat-signal? Or stand toe-to-toe with Christian Bale’s Batsuit? And what does Bane’s bomb from “The Dark Knight Rises” look like up close? Bat-fans can find answers to these questions and more at “The Batman Exhibit,” a new installation that opened Thursday on the Warner Bros. VIP Studio Tour in Burbank as part of the ongoing celebration of the Dark Knight’s 75th anniversary. Danny DeVito, who portrayed the Penguin in Tim Burton’s 1992 film “Batman Returns,” was on hand to turn on the Bat-signal and kick off the festivities. The exhibit features suits and cowls worn in all seven of the Caped Crusader’s live-action cinematic forays with Warner Bros. and the costumes of classic characters from the Batman universe, including Robin, the Joker, Two-Face, Catwoman, the Penguin, the Riddler, Mr. Freeze, Batgirl […]
June 25, 2014 | 6:33 p.m.

Director Shane Black calls the new ‘Predator’ a sequel, not a reboot

The star of Iron Man 3, Robert Downey Jr. and it's director Shane Black together at the Four Seasons Hotel in 2013.  News was just announced that Black is attached to direct the revived "Predator" franchise. (Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times)
Proving that the ’80s will never die, 20th Century Fox has announced that it will revive the “Predator” mission, with Shane Black attached as director. The “Lethal Weapon” scribe, credited with reviving the action movie genre in the ’80s with his first-ever script (sold for $250,000 at age 23), will also write the treatment before handing over script duties to his college chum, Fred Dekker (the two collaborated on “Monster Squad”). Coincidentally, Black has a history with the “Predator” franchise. Though he turned down the studio’s repeated pleas to punch up the original script, he did end up playing a small role in the 1987 film that starred Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers and Jesse Ventura. Black played Rick Hawkins, the team’s tech expert, otherwise known as the hunting alien’s first onscreen kill. (Insert comeback joke here.) Though the project has been touted as a reboot, Black told Collider that he’s thinking […]
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