Category Archives: nick fury

The Avengers

Marvel’s The Avengers ~ I think I need to inform folks where I’m coming from on this one. One could say I’ve been waiting for this movie for over forty years easily. I learned to read on comic books, thanks to my cool big sister. First there was Batman, obviously influenced by the 1960s TV show, then I started reading my brother’s Flash and Justice League. I was solidly a DC Comics guy as you can see, and then I discovered the Avengers. It would be quite some time before I became a regular Marvel reader but I knew instantly this was a different kind of comic. Avengers became one of my favorite comics, even today. So much so did I love the Avengers that for almost a decade I regularly reviewed the title online. Yeah, I’m a hardcore Avenger-phile. This movie is a little kid’s dream come true.

In another sense, you could say I’ve been waiting for this movie realistically, and hopefully, since the end credits of Iron Man. Can I express my elation the first time I saw those few seconds when Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury wanted to talk to Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man about the ‘Avengers Initiative’? No, I can’t. I am as speechless now as I was in 2008.

Who would have thought Marvel Comics/Marvel Studios could have pulled this off? Not only have they created a cinematic continuity, a movie universe as tight and intriguing as their comics universe, they also changed the way we watch movies. Does anyone (at least anyone who knows) not stay until the final credits any more. This is something that John Hughes used to do for a gag. It’s something the James Bond films used to do to reveal the title of the next installment. Marvel has made it a genre-wide trick of the trade. You stay until the screen has no more light, period.

Speaking of James Bond, the other achievement Marvel has taken on is the building of a successful movie franchise – the Marvel Cinematic Universe, of which The Avengers is the seventh, or the sixth, depending on whether you count Ang Lee’s Hulk or not. I think all of this would have been impossible without Iron Man, and especially Robert Downey Jr. Downey is the secret weapon, the gateway drug, if you will. Without Downey, I doubt that this film would be as mainstream as it is. It’s not just comic book folks who are seeing this movie, it’s everybody. Comics aren’t just for nerds anymore, or at least comic book movies aren’t. This weekend’s box office, threatening to become the biggest opening ever, is proof of that.

Besides Downey as Iron Man, and Jackson as super spy Nick Fury, Chris Evans returns as the title role from Captain America The First Avenger, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, along with Oscar winner Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye from that same film, and Scarlet Johansson returns in her role as the Black Widow from Iron Man 2. Unfortunately, negotiations broke down with The Incredible Hulk‘s Ed Norton, so the role of Doctor Bruce Banner is more than adequately filled by Mark Ruffalo. As much as I like and liked Norton in the role, I like Ruffalo even more. This is a good thing.

Also returning from the previous Marvel Cinematic Universe flicks are Clark Gregg as Agent Coulson, Stellan Skarsgard as Erik Selvig from Thor, Gwenyth Paltrow as Pepper Potts and Paul Bettany as Jarvis in the Iron Man films, and of course the big bad, Thor’s brother Loki, as played by Tom Hiddleston. Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster from Thor is mentioned but unseen. Cobie Smoulders is the perfect Maria Hill and although uncredited and only doing one very funny and wonderful line of dialogue, Lou Ferrigno voices the completely CGI Hulk. It is a stellar cast, top notch all the way, and all of the primaries – the Avengers, Fury, Loki, and the rest shine like stars when on screen. All are skillfully performed.

If I had to find fault, if I absolutely had to find a flaw in the film (other than characters or storylines I would want to see) it would be the lack of character development. But even that’s not a flaw. The four majors have had at least one movie each to explore that before we got to this point. We get sweet spotlights on the two Avengers without movies, Hawkeye and the Black Widow, displaying their talents and personalities, and Nick Fury will have his own film upcoming for us to delve more into his character. So really, on that point I can’t complain. What is really great about this is all of them come to this film fully formed. Especially in the cases of Captain America and Thor, their movies were essentially origin stories, now, here in Avengers we get to see what they can really do. These are not flaws.

I will try not to give away plot points, or any of the Easter eggs found in the film, but I will give director and co-writer Joss Whedon and his co-writer Zak Penn all the props possible for creating what is, without a doubt, the best superhero movie ever made, period. Let’s see Whedon have a Wonder Woman script or a “Firefly” sequel turned down in Hollywood now. The man, to borrow the line from Titanic, is the king of the world today. Everything was perfect, from the characters to the dialogue, the special effects, the humor, right down to the two (count ’em, two) after-credits scenes, one of which will be having fanboys and girls squeeing with delight. Marvel’s The Avengers is awesome.

The little kid in me who was mesmerized by his first Avengers comic book more than forty years ago was spellbound in the theatre. From Project Pegasus to the Black Forest to the SHIELD Helicarrier to downtown Manhattan, the Avengers were truly Earth’s Mightiest Heroes on the big screen. The first confrontations between the heroes, and the heroes and the villains, are well done and believable, not just slugfest for the fun of slugfest. When Captain America confronts Loki in Germany, I had a lump in my throat, I was like, “It’s the real Captain America.” The scene is that good.

The special effects are stunning. I love the way Thor’s hammer always returns to him, and his effects are perfect. Cap’s superhero costume, which I initially thought would look silly works wonderfully. If there’s anything cooler than the SHIELD Helicarrier, it’s the battle on board the SHIELD Helicarrier. Non-believers will see why Hawkeye is one of the coolest Avengers. The interaction between the characters is priceless, and in the final battle, their teamwork whether all together or in smaller teams is right out of the comics. It’s beautiful.

I will probably see Marvel’s The Avengers again a few more times in the theatre before it comes to Blu-Ray and DVD. Yeah, it’s that good. The 3D effects are good, but let’s keep in mind it still looks amazing in 2D, so you don’t have to sell blood to see it. Highly recommended. A definite must see for comics and non-comics fans alike. This is the movie of 2012.

Avengers Assemble!

Apparently the Superbowl was last night. Some folks were excited about the commercials. Some folks were excited about Madonna. Rumor has it there was even a pretty good football game last night. I didn’t notice, especially seeing how neither the Philadelphia Eagles nor the Dallas Cowboys were involved. But I watched last night’s Super Bowl too, but for none of the above – I watched it for The Avengers!

Yeah, baby! I absolutely can not wait until May fourth! Avengers Assemble!

Bookmark and Share

The Avengers

The Avengers Assemble in May 2012!

Bookmark and Share

Winnie the Pooh 2011

Winnie the Pooh ~ I saw this one not in the theaters, but as an added treat on the first night of my vacation onboard the Disney Dream, and let’s get real, nothing trumps seeing a Disney flick, like seeing a Disney flick on the Disney boat. They have built, on all their ships, beautiful old-fashioned movie theaters full of the glory of yesteryear where there are no bad seats and it feels like an event to see any film. Last year, seeing Old Dogs on board made the hell of that cinematic experience wonderful. Loews in Cherry Hill should take note. Atmosphere counts for a lot.

Unlike Old Dogs, I liked Winnie the Pooh quite a lot, mostly because Tigger is my favorite Disney character, I even liked The Tigger Movie, and that was pretty bad, although it was Gone with the Wind compared to Old Dogs. I love A.A. Milne’s characters, by Disney or otherwise, but have not been fond of newer versions of their adventures. This new animated film is respectful of the original The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and is a proper next chapter.

There is a mix of both old and new voice cast, with Jim Cummings taking on both Tigger and Pooh as well as a few other additions like Craig Ferguson and John Cleese. Only one oddity sticks out and that’s Jack Boulter as Christopher Robin, and that’s only because it’s markedly different, not wrong. And also, just like a Marvel movie, you must wait through the credits to the very end. No, Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury doesn’t ask Tigger to join the Avengers (awww…) but it’s still well worth it.

Bookmark and Share

Captain America: The First Avenger

Captain America: The First Avenger ~ This is the next in the cycle of Marvel Comics movies leading up to The Avengers next summer. This one even has the word ‘Avenger’ in the title. It started with Iron Man, then continued in The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2 and just two months ago with Thor. The Avengers are coming, and it’s gonna be so cool.

Sorry, folks, I got excited. I am an old school Avengers fan, so this slow build-up to seeing one of my favorite comics on the big screen is a big big deal. But that’s not happening until next year, and there’s one movie left before that happens, and it’s the one I saw today – Captain America: The First Avenger. Unlike Iron Man 2 which felt like an overlong ad for the upcoming Avengers, this flick does it subtly, and flawlessly ties up all the loose ends of those four previous movies.

We saw the flick on Friday afternoon (mostly to get out if the 104 degree heat) and while it was sparsely attended at first, the folks at Rave dressed one of their employees up in a makeshift closet floor Cap costume to walk around and entertain. Silly but fun, the kind of thing, in my opinion, theatres should do more often. Well, as long as he didn’t shoot me with his Nerf dart-shooting shield, that is. Good, no casualties, time for the movie.

There were almost forty minutes of previews and pre-show entertainment, which was fine I suppose. We waited about an hour for the next show -and had to get it in 3D because the next 2D flick was even later- and it occurs to me that this might be the next theatre scam. It just seems too much of a coincidence that the only show within a reasonable time frame was the more expensive 3D showing at a place where the feature was showing in two different rooms in 2D and 2D had an almost hour wait in between shows.

Something is just not right. No matter, the Rave is a great theatre with terrific events and friendly staff – and even if not, anything is better than being raped by Loews again.

As it got dark and the real previews started the theatre had filled up, and filled up with more than a few young children. I had had discussions earlier in the week as to whether or not my six year old nephew should see Captain America or not, and the concensus was no. Too much gunplay, violence, the Red Skull was sure to be scary – and do you really want to have the Nazi conversation with a six year old? You know, it’s true, evil is real, and all that. I was worried that maybe these parents had made a mistake, and would regret it.

As it turned out, I shouldn’t have worried. Hitler, the Nazis and the Third Reich are hardly referenced in a really horrific way. It is the Red Skull (still quite scary, and props to Hugo Weaving for bringing his horror to life) and Hydra who are the true villains of the piece. the explanation for the origin and separation of Hydra from the Third Reich makes complete sense. Actually, in hindsight, it even makes the World War II sequences, sans Nazis, in Disney XD’s animated “The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” make sense as well. Other than the gunplay, the Red Skull and a few intense moments, the PG-13 rated Captain America isn’t too bad for kids, and not as much to worry about as I originally thought.

This is a period film, as Captain America’s story is one forged in the patriotic fires of World War II. Young Steve Rogers is too puny to serve his country, and volunteers to become a super-soldier draped in the American flag. He takes the fight to the enemy and inspires millions in the process. It’s clichéd, and it’s cheesy, but director Joe Johnston weaves together a wonderful movie that has everything. If I was to wish for the perfect Captain America movie, it could not be better than this.

They do play about with some continuity issues, but nothing that damages the character, but more fills him out. Speaking of filling out, the CGI sequences are phenomenal of title star Chris Evans as a 90 lb. weakling and as America’s super-soldier. He looks great throughout the film, and unlike pretenders like Reb Brown and Matt Salinger, Evans is Captain America. Hayley Atwell’s Peggy Carter is perfect and Sebastian Stan gives Bucky a wonderful spin, with the re-realized relationship between Bucky and Steve. Trust me, it’s good, and quietly honestly better than seeing Bucky as a costumed sidekick. And Toby Jones is just downright creepy as Arnim Zola, and this isn’t even his really creepy form from the comics. Bravo!

The action sequences are amazing, exciting and what every superhero movie should be. Comics fans of the character and those who know nothing, will be thrilled. This is important for superhero movies – to be accessible to the mainstream audience, to be true to the source material, and to be good. Yeah, this one has all three.

There are Easter eggs all over the place. Tony Stark’s father Howard Stark plays a pivotal role. The Howling Commandos are here, and we’re able to tell who is who without ever hearing their names. Obviously, Nick Fury’s father or grandfather is in there, so as not to muddy the immortal waters. When Steve and Bucky visit the World’s Fair, keep your eyes peeled for the original Human Torch – total nerdgasm for me when I saw that!

This movie has everything – humor, romance, even musical numbers, and yet, it is still one of the best superhero movies I have ever seen, and I’d venture to say I’ve seen most of them. Yes, better than Iron Man. And speaking of Iron Man, like all of the other Marvel movies, you need to wait through the credits for a little something extra. Actually, this time, it’s not a little something – it’s a big something – a sneak peek at next summer’s The Avengers. DO NOT MISS. And definitely see Captain America: The First Avenger, highly recommended.

Bookmark and Share

Marvel, Big and Little

My first game purchase for the PlayStation 3 was via Amazon, and the choice was made because of what a big comic geek I am. I bought Marvel Ultimate Alliance at a pretty fair price. And I was thrilled when it arrived in the mail. I was going to get to play some superhero action on this here PS3 thing.

I first learned here something that will continue to haunt me for the rest of my PS3 experience. It’s complicated, and the controllers are nuts with buttons and choices. It came with a sizable instruction book, but I ignored it, as I wanted to play. I popped in the disc and was mesmerized by the graphics. Yar’s Revenge, this was not.

What the instruction manual doesn’t tell you is what the story actually is. This is a sore point for someone like me with a writer’s brain. It’s all about which buttons to push, etc. It doesn’t matter, I like the pretty colors, and hope that the introduction will give me something. It does. Nick Fury, the real one, not the Ultimate version or Samuel J. Jackson, shows up and apparently, we, the four player characters have to find him on the SHIELD Helicarrier which is under attack by what look like Ultrons.

The funny thing is, while Fury is not Ultimate, the player characters are – Captain America, Spider-Man, Wolverine and Thor. Interesting. You get to pick one, and the others are dragged along, until they die, or you switch out to one of them. It’s a lot of smash and guess until then. Wolverine and Thor seem the easiest to play, but in over an hour of play, I was never able to either clear the Helicarrier or find Fury. I will need help with this one. And I found the whole concept of collecting coins, like in Mario Bros., completely hilarious.

When I was tired of Ultimate Alliance I tried Marvel Super Hero Squad: The Infinity Gauntlet. Despite the subtitle which refers to the Jim Starlin Thanos vs. the Marvel Universe comics, this is actually a simpler kids version of the Marvel heroes – based on the hysterical cartoon for kids of all ages, and the strange (strange because I can’t imagine the Punisher or Wolverine ever smiling) action figure line. I thought this would be a better choice. It’s cartoony vs. realistic graphics, but it still looked great.

While it has the fun voices and the wink-wink humor of the cartoon, the controller continues to irritate me, and it’s just not as easy as my buddy Ray has claimed. I seem to remember him saying this took him, like twenty minutes to finish. I think I spent twenty minutes trying to decipher the instructions.

The best part for me was not playing, and letting the characters on screen hold conversations. Come on now, you can’t tell me it’s not funny when Iron Man says to the Hulk, “You’re very green, you know that?” or when Hulk counters with “This ship ugly!” For that alone, this game rocks. I didn’t get far, but at least with this one, I kinda understood what was going on.

Iron Man Vs. Hydra

He can’t do it alone. Good thing the Avengers are coming October 20th…

…and in the postscript, Nick Fury faces off against one of the Avengers’ deadliest foes…

Bookmark and Share

Catching Up with the Mighty Avengers

“The Secret Return of Nick Fury” – my comic book review of Mighty Avengers #12, by Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev, is also now online at Avengers Forever.

Where has Nick Fury been since the Secret War and what’s he been up to, and why can’t he trust anyone any more? Find out all this and more – and check out my review here:

http://www.avengersforever.org/reviews/default.asp?RID=607

“New Howling Commandos #1” – my comic book review of Mighty Avengers #13, by Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev, is also now online at Avengers Forever.

Where are the Avengers? Not a one in sight as Nick Fury gathers a new team to fight the Skrulls’ Secret Invasion in this seeming pilot for a new series – all this and more – check out my review here:

http://www.avengersforever.org/reviews/default.asp?RID=609

“Skrulls, Secrets, and the Sentry” – my comic book review of Mighty Avengers #14, by Brian Michael Bendis and Khoi Pham, is also now online at Avengers Forever.

Young Gun artist Khoi Pham begins his run on Mighty Avengers and rocks the house with this Sentry solo spotlight – all this and more – check out my review here:

http://www.avengersforever.org/reviews/default.asp?RID=610

“Personal Worst” – my comic book review of Mighty Avengers #15, by Brian Michael Bendis and John Romita Jr., is now online as well at Avengers Forever.

Whatever happened to Henry Pym? Trust me, you don’t want to know… another of Pym’s darkest hours at the hands of Bendis – all this and more – check out my review here:

http://www.avengersforever.org/reviews/default.asp?RID=612

“Eulogy for the Wasp” – my comic book review of Mighty Avengers #20, by Brian Michael Bendis and various artists, is now online at Avengers Forever.

After the final battle of the Secret Invasion, the Avengers mourn one of their own – all this and more – check out my review here:

http://www.avengersforever.org/reviews/default.asp?RID=615

Enjoy!

If you want to discuss these reviews, these issues or anything Avengers, please check out the Avengers Forever Forum.

Bookmark and Share

Nick Fury Is Back


For all the hardcore comic book fans and those movie viewers who stayed past the credits of last summer’s Marvel Comics superhero blockbuster Iron Man, Samuel L. Jackson stole the show with his minute and half as SHIELD Director Nick Fury. It was a dream role for Jackson as the Ultimate version of the character was in fact designed after his own image.

Fans panicked a month or so back when rumors indicated that Jackson would not be returning to this role, especially with the character’s integral status regarding current and future Marvel movie characters like Iron Man, the Hulk, Captain America and especially the Avengers, the last one being the subject of the above-mentioned film appearance of Fury.

The good news is that Variety reported yesterday that Jackson will officially be playing the Marvel Comics super spy in a total of nine films, including Iron Man 2 and The Avengers. Of course the inclusion of something called “The Shield” among those films seems to indicate that either the folks at Variety have a hearing problem or they’re using TV Guide‘s research people…