Comic Con: ‘Age of Ultron’ poster

avengers ultron poster

And then there’s this.

For Comic Con, Marvel has been releasing pieces of a giant poster promoting next May’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron.”

The final pieces were released today.

And yes, that’s the Vision, as played by Paul Bettany, up in the corner. And he looks to be the proper green and yellow color.

That’s a whole lot of Ultrons.

 

 

Comic Con: Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman

wonder woman gal godot batman v superman

Warner Bros. released a pic a while back of Henry Cavill as Superman (wonder if that name will be uttered) and they’ve released a couple of pics of Ben Affleck as Batman from “Batman vs Superman: This Time It’s Personal.”

Today, at San Diego Comic Con, it’s Wonder Woman’s turn.

Above, Gal Gadot as the Amazonian Princess.

When I showed my wife, a Wonder Woman fan from way back, she said: “Very Xena.”

Comic Con: Ben Affleck close-up as Batman

ben affleck batman comic con

Along with a display of the Batman suit from “Batman vs. Superman: Bright Sky of Goodness,” Warner Bros/DC released a close-up of Ben Affleck as Batman.

Like the first shot, of Batman next to the Batmobile, there’s a lot of gray here.

Batman seems more like a black and white kind of guy to me.

Comic-Con: ‘Ant-Man’ poster art

Ant-Man-Comic-Con-poster

I’m gonna have to think about this for a while.

As Comic-Con begins in San Diego tonight, we’ll see and hear lots of interesting comic-book-movie-related stuff.

Here’s a tidbit from Entertainment Weekly: A poster promoting Marvel’s “Ant-Man.”

You got your Michael Douglas, your Paul Rudd. And you got a very comic-booky-looking Ant-Man.

Something tells me that if Edgar Wright had continued as director of the movie, we’d see something with a different tone.

 

RIP James Garner

james garner jim rockford

I can’t imagine a worse way to wake up this morning than with the news that James Garner had died.

Sure, the actor’s death is not a shock. Although he’ll always be young and handsome and wily if a bit careworn to all of us, he was, after all, 86. He had open heart surgery years ago and suffered a stroke in 2008.

The New York Times noted that Garner was something of a paradox, and that’s true. He was as handsome as could be but his leading men were smart, funny and self-deprecating. Most fans didn’t know, I bet, that he won two Purple Hearts in the Army during the Korean War. They probably also didn’t know he was active in the civil rights movement.

So many great roles mark his long career, from big-screen parts in “The Americanization of Emily” to “Support Your Local Sheriff” to “Victor/Victoria.”

But he’s no doubt best remembered for his roles in “Maverick” and “The Rockford Files,” two TV series separated by two decades but distinguished by Garner’s charm.

I matured during “The Rockford Files” – the show ran for six years beginning in 1974, when I was in my mid-teens – and wished I could have been half as affable and charming – even when exasperated – as Garner’s Jim Rockford.

A private eye who lived in a trailer in Malibu, California, Rockford had seen some tough times, including a prison sentence for a crime he didn’t commit. His private investigations practice was far from glamorous and more often than not involved dealing with liars and cheats – even when they were his clients, and sometimes even when they were attractive women who played him until he got wise – as well as con men, hapless marks and hostile cops.

Through it all, Rockford would roll with the punches – literally – taking his lumps and coming out ahead in the end. All the while, he would grump and growl and roll his eyes and sarcastically sound off at the idiots and jerks who stood between him and closing a case. He got into more than once case reluctantly but always solved problems – even if it meant taking a few lumps.

What made Garner so good and such a great personality was that he seemed so genuine. If what we saw on the screen wasn’t the real Jim Garner … well, I would be shocked.

In an appearance on Johnny Carson’s show after an infamous incident in which Garner got into a fight in real life – and I will never forget this – Garner shrugged off the incident, saying, “The guy said shut up and I thought he said stand up.”

“The Rockford Files” had great writers but I have to believe that much of Jim Rockford’s heart and wit and tenacity and no-nonsense attitude came from Garner himself.

Maybe more than any other star of his era, Garner was the guy I wished I could meet, just once. I imagined him as cool without trying, funny without effort and a stand-up guy without question.

New Cap, new Thor and ‘Avengers: Ultron!’

avengers ultron EW cover

Again, which of us, as little geeks, thought this would happen? All this superhero movie madness?

And who could have imagined it would be so much fun?

Entertainment Weekly – which I haven’t seen yet – has a big preview of next May’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron.”

new female thor

Marvel announces that, in the comics, Thor will soon be a female who takes the Thunder God’s mighty hammer when the original Odinson is sidelined.

new captain america falcon sam wilson

Marvel announces a new Captain America – most likely Sam Wilson, Cap’s longtime partner as the Falcon – will take over for Steve Rogers, also in the comics.

You know, this isn’t entirely new. Thor has been replaced before – once, notably, by a giant frog – and so has Cap (so many times I couldn’t begin to count, but most notably by Bucky Barnes/The Winter Soldier).

But it’s all fun and fair and will juice up publicity leading up to the “Ultron” movie next May.

So to reiterate: Hell to the yes.

 

Batman through the years

batman poster salvador anguiano

First, sorry this is so teeny-tiny. You can blow it up a little here or maybe you’ll be inspired to go elsewhere to see a bigger version.

In celebration of Batman’s 75th anniversary, Salvador Anguiano has done a poster of the many, many different looks of Batman over the years. They include comic book versions, the great animated series Batman and yes, even some of the lesser efforts.

Plus – Lego Batman!

Very cool.

Comic book TV: Waiting for fall series

arrow black canary

I couldn’t be happier with Marvel’s big-screen comic book releases so far, as dubious as I am about DC’s supposed slate of superhero movies.

But on the small screen, DC is kicking all kinds of butt.

Of course there’s “Arrow,” beginning its third season this fall. The second topped the first and introduced even more DC comics characters, like Black Canary. This fall “Arrow” will bring scientist Ray Palmer to the small screen and Brandon Routh – Superman from “Superman Returns” – will play the scientist who is secretly the Atom.

Of course, “Arrow” spin-off “Flash” will be doing its own world-building when it debuts this fall, as it introduces not only all the Scarlet Speedster’s characters but also Firestorm.

constantine helmet dr fate

Meanwhile, “Constantine,” about the supernatural adventurer from the “Hellblazer” comic, debuts this fall and the trailer for the debut included a quick look at the helmet of fellow DC hero Dr. Fate!

Not only that, but the producers of “Constantine” have indicated they will introduce other DC supernatural characters, including Jim Corrigan, the cop who becomes the Spectre.

Meanwhile, “Gotham” will be a prequel to the Batman saga and while I’m not crazy about that – “Smallville” ended up being way to timid about flying and capes for my taste – they’re introducing early versions of a lot of characters and will, each week, be teasing the character who will eventually become the Joker.

For us longtime comic book readers, it’s an exciting time.

Mädchen Amick back on ‘Longmire’

madchen amick deena longmire

She’s back!

Actress Madchen Amick, best known for her role as Shelly Johnson in the 1990 TV classic “Twin Peaks,” is something of the mascot for this blog. After her 2012 turn as one of Don Draper’s old flings in a nightmarish episode of “Mad Men,” I wrote about the return of the lovely actress who, now 43, still looks amazing.

And some of the entries I wrote about Amick are among my most popular. So here’s another!

Amick is a busy actress right now, starring in the series “Witches of East End” and on one of my favorite series, “Longmire.”

Amick plays Deena, the girlfriend of Henry Standing Bear (Lou Diamond Phillips), longtime friend of Sheriff Walt Longmire (Robert Taylor).

Earlier this season, Henry discovered that Deena had apparently stolen $40,000 from the safe at his bar, the Red Pony.

In this week’s episode, “The Reports of My Death,” Henry tracked Deena down and confronted her about the theft. The scene was a powerful one and while Amick was good, LDP was terrific in the intense and borderline-out-of-control scene.

Here’s hoping Amick’s reappearance this past week means she’ll be back on the series soon … and, with any luck, not as another murder for Longmire and Henry to investigate.

parker stevenson

By the way, “Longmire” brought back another TV favorite: Parker Stevenson, well-remembered for playing Frank Hardy on “The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries” 1977-79, appeared in the episode.

 

Late to the party: ‘True Detective’ an odd, teasing thriller

true-detective title tree

I don’t do a lot of binge-watching of TV anymore. A few years ago, every summer was a festival of re-watching “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” on the VHS tapes I had made during the previous season. A few other shows were thrown in, but we watched “Buffy” religiously in those days.

In the meantime, life got busier – a child will do that, even in the summer – and binge-watching was mostly limited to trying to catch up on the three episodes of “Fargo” that we missed before the season finale.

Recently, my son has discovered the joys of “Parks and Recreation,” watching the most recent season through On Demand and then watching the first season on DVD. It gave me a whole new appreciation for the series and I might write about that sometime.

More recently, my wife and I decided to try to catch up on a couple of series that we missed. We’ve now purchased, but have not unwrapped, the first season of “Breaking Bad” on DVD. It was a show, like “The Shield,” that I just didn’t make time for as it unfolded each week but I didn’t want to jump into mid-stream. We tried that with “24” and ended up determinedly watching live what was universally acclaimed as the worst season.

So in the past few days we’ve binge-watched “True Detective,” which is a series that we couldn’t see because we don’t have HBO and probably couldn’t have kept up with what with devoting our live-watching time last winter to “The Walking Dead,” “Justified” and a few network series.

So that’s a roundabout way of recounting how I’m just now seeing “True Detective.”

I heard so much about the series when it was airing but managed to avoid hearing how it ended, so that was a bonus for catching up later. Also it’s just eight episodes!

After having seen it, I can say I understand what all the buzz was about. In a couple of ways.

“True Detective,” while very satisfying to watch over the space of a couple of days, no doubt really lent itself to live-watching each week. In this age of Twitter, viewers could revel in each week’s twists and turns. Not to mention the HBO-standard nudity. The plot worked on an episodic basis but flowed pretty well – even with a few time shifts – one episode after another.

And the show’s teasing flirtation with the supernatural – and many references to scarred giants, monsters, demons and dark rituals – fueled speculation that what was starting out as a straight police procedural was turning into something else.

That wasn’t really the case, at least not in that sense. But “True Detective” definitely transcended the typical procedural’s limitations.

true-detective-harrelson-mcconaughey-610x348

if you don’t already know, the series switches back and forth between 2012 and 1995, as two investigators (Michael Potts and Tory Kittles) interview two former Louisiana state police detectives, Rustin Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) and Marty Hart (Woody Harrelson).

Cohle, intellectual, anti-social and prone to alienating others, and Hart, publicly amiable but a womanizer with an explosive temper, “catch” a life-changing case when they’re assigned to investigate the body of a young woman found in a remote field. The woman, with antlers attached to her head, her body twisted into a submissive, praying posture and decorated with symbols, is plainly the victim of a ritualistic killer.

As the investigation unfolds, Cohle becomes more and more convinced that the woman was the victim of a serial killer. But where are the other bodies?

As the two probe the case, they become increasingly self-destructive. Cohle deep-sixes his career with his attitude toward higher-ups, including powerful and untouchable figures he thinks might be linked to the killer, and Hart threatens to drink and screw his way out of his marriage (Michelle Monaghan in a role that has more bite and substance than some critics of the series would have us think).

The series’ eight episodes are compelling and engrossing, never more so than the climactic hour and, halfway through the show’s run, an amazing single-take tracking shot as Cohle eludes both bikers and gang members in a botched drug raid on a housing project.

Cohle and Hart are characters who at times seem irredeemable but as metaphysical-speaking Cohle notes at least keep the really bad guys from society’s door.

“True Detective” creator Nic Pizzolatto (aided by director Cary Joji Fukunaga) kept their story short and to the point and left me wanting more. A second season is planned, although Pizzolatto says ti will focus on other characters and another setting.

With any luck, I’ll catch up with it too.

Random observations:

I really thought the ending would be much more dire for our heroes, namely that one of the two would die. I didn’t expect such optimism.

The setting for the climactic encounter with the killer reminded me uncomfortably of the “Home” episode of “The X-Files.” The feeling of queasiness and dread was palpable.

The hairstyles of the leads, reflecting the passage of nearly two decades, were pretty good.

Does every HBO show have at least one nude/sex scene per episode? Somehow I don’t remember Tony Soprano getting laid as much as Woody Harrelson.

It’s starting to realize that one of Harrelson’s nubile conquests was Alexandra Daddario, the female lead from the “Percy Jackson” movies. The actress, 28, has matured. Ahem.

So was there really a point to all the references to “The Yellow King” and old pulp fiction stories?

 

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