May 04, 2015 | 2:44 p.m.

Star Wars Day: The Force is still strong in comics

'Star Wars'
Happy Star Wars Day! With 2015 marking the return of the “Star Wars” comic license to Marvel, consider celebrating May the Fourth by delving into the new world of canon “Star Wars” comics. Publication of “Star Wars” comics dates back to 1977, with Marvel launching the initial series that started with Roy Thomas and Howard Chaykin’s adaptation of the first film before continuing on with original stories. The two subsequent films were also adapted during Marvel’s “Star Wars” run, which lasted through 1986. While the success of the “Star Wars” comics helped Marvel through some tough times, all of Marvel’s “Star Wars” related comic titles were canceled by 1987. The hiatus didn’t last long, with “Star Wars” jumping back onto comic book pages with Dark Horse’s release of Tom Veitch and Cam Kennedy’s miniseries “Star Wars: Dark Empire” in 1991. […]
May 02, 2015 | 9:00 a.m.

‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’: Paul Bettany brings the Vision to life

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 | 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 | 11:04 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 […]
April 27, 2015 | 2:15 p.m.

‘Sesame Street’ joins ‘Avengers’ bandwagon with ‘Aveggies: Age of Bon Bon’

Cookie Monster and the cast of "Aveggies" on "Sesame Street." (YouTube)
The countdown is on for the moment when “Avengers: Age of Ultron” finally opens in North American theaters on Friday, kicking off the summer movie season and sweeping all of pop culture up into its vortex of superhero action. While international audiences can already see the movie — and have been to the total of $201 million in overseas grosses — fans in the U.S. and Canada will just have to pass the time with “Sesame Street’s” take on the film, “Aveggies: Age of Bon Bon.” And as far as place holders go, it’s hard to beat this one. Presented as part of Cookie Monster’s “Crumby Pictures” series of film parodies, “Aveggies” features a superhero lineup including Cookie Monster as the mild-mannered Dr. Brownie, Onion Man, Captain Americauliflower, Black Bean Widow, Mighty Corn and Zuchin-eye. Their villain in this world […]
April 27, 2015 | 1:37 p.m.

‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’: Chris Evans on Captain America’s search for home

Chris Evans as Captain America  in "Avengers: Age Of Ultron." (Jay Maidment / Marvel Studios)
For Chris Evans, wielding Captain America’s shield is nearly second nature by now. Friday’s theatrical release of “Avengers: Age of Ultron” marks the fourth time Evans has portrayed the star-spangled superhero on the big screen (not including a funny cameo in “Thor: The Dark World”). “Certainly I feel more comfortable with the character,” Evans said on the film’s London set last summer. “Every time you play him you peel back a layer.” “Age of Ultron,” director Joss Whedon’s sequel to 2012’s blockbuster “The Avengers,” sees Evans reuniting with Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), along with newcomers James Spader, as the titular villain Ultron, Paul Bettany as the Vision, Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch and Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Quicksilver. Hero Complex caught up with Evans during […]
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