Sure, there are tons upon tons of films at Comic Con and so much nerd bliss, but one film sort of stood out for all the inhaler-sucking, Olivia Munn-pining geek horde, and that was the panel and all the information concerning the development that came with The Avengers, or more specifically, Thor and Captain America. With the success of Iron Man in the past and the business of The Incredible Hulk “taken care of”, the last two cornerstone pieces of the Avengers puzzle are a big gamble for the Marvel crew, and it’s up to directors Joe Johnston (The Wolfman) and Kenneth Branaugh (Henry V) to step up to the plate. Let’s not forget Joss Whedon either (don’t forget your ulcer medication, it’s gonna be a long two years). So here’s a venerable “breakdown” of sorts of what exactly we know about Thor, The Hulk, and Captain America.
THOR-As of now we do know Chris Hemsworth (Kirk’s dad from 2009’s Star Trek) is playing Thor, and that the appropriately Shakespearian director of films like Henry V Kenneth Branaugh is directing the film. Tom Hiddleston is portraying Loki, Anthony Hopkins is playing Odin, and Natalie Portman is playing Jane Foster, a love interest while Thor is on Earth. Joshua Dallas, Ray Stevenson, and Tadanobo Asano are playing, respectively, Fandral, Volstagg, and Hogun of the Warriors Three.
A lot of set designs have been unveiled including a crap ton of costumes. For those of you who are more unfamiliar with the story it follows Thor, the God of Thunder, who is banished from Asgard by his father Odin and forced to prove his worth so he can gain his power back. Word is that a majority of the film will take place on Earth with Thor not having his hammer, as that’s one of the main plot points/conflicts of him trying to get it back. Along the way he’ll have a run-in or two with SHIELD including Agent Coulson from Iron Man 1 and 2. In fact if you looked closely Thor was in Iron Man 2. Loki is set to be the “main villain” of sorts not only for this film but also arching over into The Avengers film. However, during some Comic Con footage shown another villain known as “The Destroyer” was being mentioned for a large villain role in the movie. A trailer of sorts with lots and lots of footage was shown for movie, and below is /Film’s description. What I’ve heard of the movie I’m not entirely sold on it. It could be really great and blow me away, however I’m not convinced that a movie about Thor running around on Earth breaking Natalie Portman’s heart (high five if you got that joke) in denim pants and a tight shirt with no costume and no hammer is going to make for a great film. I love the sound of some of the Asgard stuff, and that first act and last act (where Thor may get his hammer and lay the whooping on Loki/Destroyer) sounds awesome, not to mention all the cool tie-ins with SHIELD. The film is being made for $150 million and will be released by Paramount Film on May 6th, 2011.
It opens with thunder and lightning, and a camera shot that drops directly down into a SHIELD-erected structure. The building is hiding the hammer of Thor, which was found in New Mexico. We hear Agent Coulsen (Clark Gregg) interrogating Thor as shots are intercut of Thor decimating SHIELD agents in rain and mud. Coulsen surmises that, based upon his prowess, Thor must have serious military training. (There’s a pretty cool shot with Thor useing a jump kick to drop one agent.) The interrogation comes to a head with: “who are you?”
Then the camera flies up into Asgard, panning around a huge gold, Jack Kirby-ish palace in which Odin is castigating Thor for being rash, dishonorable, selfish and bringing war to Asgard as a result. Thor, kneeling before Odin (Anthony Hopkins), wears his helmet (looks good!) but Odin bellows his anger at Thor and casts him out of Asgard.
Then the thunder god is lying in the dirt when he’s found by Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and her assistant Darcy (Kat Dennings). Thor opens his eyes and grumbles “this is Earth, isn’t it?” The women take him in and Darcy cracks wise while ogling the god: “for an insane homeless man, he’s pretty cut.” There’s dialogue about Foster and her team being on the verge of some discovery and Thor promises that she’ll find what she’s looking for if he gets what he wants.
That’s the hammer, and we’ve got to surmise that Coulson’s interrogation comes after Thor broke into the compound to retrieve the hammer. But when we see him approach and attempt to lift it, he fails. Voiceover from Odin, “Whosoever lifts this hammer, if he is found worthy, shall weild the power of Thor.” The young god is obviously not yet worthy.
That leads to images of Loki taking over Asgard and a swirl of combat footage — the Warriors Three battling some threat to Asgard, chaos in the New Mexico town where Jane Foster is working and a big battle between Thor and Loki. Voiceover from Odin says something to the effect that Thor will have to face what’s coming to him. And that’s when the kicker comes in: Destroyer, a huge metal beast, lands in New Mexico. Coulson and other SHIELD agents confront it, with one agent asking if it’s one of Stark’s. Then the Destroyer’s face opens up and unleashes fiery hell on the agents.
(We had a spy photo of Destroyer a while back that was removed at the request of Paramount; below is an official image released today. That’s not a still from the film, but rather a photo from the Comic Con show floor.)
So: the commentary. I liked the footage a lot. Getting beyond the 3D, the stuff on Earth fits in very well with the Marvel movie universe as established in the Iron Man films. When not in the costume, Hemsworth looks powerful, though not insanely massive. (And, for what it’s worth, Branagh said that some elements of the Don Blake story have been worked into the script, but in some surprising ways.)
The footage in Asgard is a bit more fantastic, but I didn’t think it strayed into Flash Gordon territory. Branagh seems to be keeping his camera moving a lot, which might help ease a sense of stiffness that some of the costumes have. Loki’s helmet looks great, but some of the Asgardian armor and costumes will take some getting used to. But the battle footage between Thor and Loki sold me.
The Destroyer stuff is a great kicker as far as the trailer goes, because it is strongly reminiscent of Iron Man. That should help audiences unfamiliar with the characters and story. But I also wonder how big a presence the Destroyer really has — being a lot like Iron Man has a downside, since we’ve already seen climactic ‘big armor’ battles in those two films. This one has to be a smaller part of Thor, otherwise Marvel will seem like it is just relying on proven tactics.
CAPTAIN AMERICA-The other big bet for Marvel in 2012 is Captain America. Chris Evans proved himself to me in what I’ve seen of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and The Losers, and now he’s forced to carry an enormous blockbuster by himself. The movie is being developed as a war movie first and foremost, following Steve Rogers as a WW2 soldier who volunteers for the super soldier serum program. A lot of people have compared what they’ve seen of it to Raiders of the Lost Ark meets Hellboy, and the storyline itself to a Casino Royale of sorts, in that we don’t see him truly as Captain America until the last act or so to lead into The Avengers. In an MTV interview it was stated that Captain America’s shield and costume will evolve throughout the movie and change, in the beginning it being a practical uniform for war and by the end it being the costume we all know and love. Hugo Weaving is to play the villain “Red Skull” in the film, and it’s been said the makeup for the villain will be all practical effects. Sebastian Stan has signed on as Bucky Barnes, Cap’s sidekick of sorts, and one of my favorites Stanley Tucci is portraying the scientist who invents the super soldier serum. Dominic Cooper will be playing a young version of Howard Stark, and Hayley Atwell will be playing the resistance-leading love interest. Sam Jackson will be in the film as Nick Fury, Neal McDonough will show up as part of Fury’s Howling Commandos, and even the classic Tommy Lee Jones will lend his part as Col. Chester Phillips. There’s so much potential for this with a truly awesome cast and can be one of the really ingenius ways they can continue to tie the universe together in an interesting way considering Howard Stark’s involvement. This has to be one of my most anticipated movies of the next few years, as it has so much potential. I really like war movies, and Captain America stands out as one of my favorite comic book characters. I enjoyed Joe Johnston’s take on The Wolfman, and he’s definitely a Spielburgian director, so who knows where he can really take this being we’re still almost 2 years away from the film being released. The movie is only a couple of weeks into shooting, and with a July 22nd, 2012 release date and a $140 million budget, there’s plenty of time for the original avenger to make an impact. Below is /Film’s description of the trailer.
They then premiered footage they claim was filmed just last week. The footage was very rough, complete with timecode. The footage begins with the title card “Norway, May 1942″ we see told older men in a stone castle-like interior. The walls are shaking, dust and dirt falling. The wall implodes inward as a Nazi soldiers come rushing in, and examine a crypt in the center of the room. And then Johann Shmidt (Hugo Weaving pre Red Skull) makes his entrance from the huge hole in the wall. He orders the surviving old man to hand over “The Tesseract.” The man tells Shmidt that what he is looking for is just a legend. Shmidt responds, “then why go through so much work to conceal it?” The crypt is opened, and inside is the bones of a crusader holding a misty crystal white cube. Shmidt picks it up, and says “The Tesseract was the prize of Odin’s collection.” But he isn’t fooled. He throws it down on the ground, smashing it to bits. This is not what he was looking for.
He then turns his attention to the wall, which contains a large wood caving of Yggdrasil, the Norse Tree of Life. In the wall he finds a hidden compartment. Hell pulls it out and opens it. Blue glow fills his face. Shmidt says to the man “You haven’t seen this yet, have you?” The man responds, “It’s not for the eyes of ordinary men.”
THE INCREDIBLE HULK-
This is where the good news sorta ends. 2008 was a good year for the Hulk as the series was reinvented with a great reboot of the series, and 2010 has sorta been a bad year for the Hulk. Edward Norton, who was interested and willing to reprise his role as Bruce Banner in the Avengers film, was dropped by Marvel weeks ago due to “money constraints” and a personal conflict with Norton. Trouble had arose years ago when Norton had wrote a script that was drastically altered by Marvel, and Norton was not even credited for his part in writing it for the film. Word was Norton was a more artsy actor that was hard to work with on set, however his performance in the film was what made the film so great and convincing considering the main pull was the focus on Bruce Banner as a person. Now after a casting bout Mark Ruffalo, known recently for his parts in The Brothers Bloom and Shutter Island, has been cast to take his place. I really like Ruffalo as an actor and I’m sure he could play the part in a great way, but things were downright awkward when he was brought on stage to join the rest of the Avengers cast at the panel. It sorta feels like air being let out of a balloon when you have the guy who we know as Iron Man there, the future Captain America, the future Thor, and some guy who’s a last minute replacement. That being said, I’m sure Ruffalo’s gonna give it his best, but that can’t stop me from wishing there was some way Norton could snatch it back.