|Article Images Source: Entertainment Weekly|
Make no mistake, the past couple of days have formed one of the most eventful periods for Marvel Studios and Marvel Comics in recent memory thanks to a plethora of utterly game-changing announcements. Just as we rounded up everything new there was to say about DC's big-screen and small-screen slates earlier today, then, it seems only just that we follow suit on this fine Wednesday evening with a definitive guide to what's hot in the realms of Excelsior.
The article's structure is going to differ somewhat from what you may have come to expect from On-Screen's traditional 'Round-Up' pieces, however (and rightly so - why on Earth or Asgard would you want to rate these types of scoops and compilations as anything less than refreshingly unpredictable?). Bullet-point lists of key points will certainly feature, however as you'll see below, they're just the tip of the iceberg. While we're at it, if anyone wants to give the Frost Giants a firm talking to for leaving an iceberg in the middle of our offices, please go ahead!
NEW AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON PLOT DETAILS & PROMOTIONAL IMAGES REVEALED
Walt Disney Pictures and Marvel Studios have today announced a series of new details (via Entertainment Weekly's San Diego Comic-Con 2014 preview issue) on the central narrative premise of their upcoming superhero blockbuster Avengers: Age of Ultron. Unlike the vast majority of cinematic sequels on the horizon, Age won't just act as a follow-up to 2012's Avengers Assemble, but moreover to 2013's Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World, the first season of ABC's hit TV detective drama Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and this year's beloved Summer flicks Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy.
It doesn't look as if screenwriter (and director) Joss Whedon has skimped on the various opportunities to connect Age to its predecessors, either - the plot will commence with Tony Stark's creation of Ultron, a robotic organism powered by an unrivalled artificial-intelligence which is intended to lead his Iron Legion (the thought-destroyed armada glimpsed in Iron Man 3's action-packed climax) and therefore relieve the Earth's Mightiest Heroes of their tiresome duties of protecting humanity. The problem? Ultron gradually comes to the conclusion that humanity's greatest threat is itself (and it's probably not wrong, you know!), so elects to wipe us from the face of the Earth in order to protect us from slowly but surely rendering ourselves extinct through ever-escalating global conflicts.
This is, of course, where the Avengers come in. As fans will ascertain for themselves in the newly-released promotional photos below, superheroes and non-super protagonists including Iron Man, Captain America (both of whom are sporting impressive new attire), Thor, the Hulk (who'll eventually battle Stark in the latter's iconic Hulkbuster armour, for reasons as of yet unknown), Black Widow, Hawkeye, Nick Fury, Colonel James Rhodes (aka War Machine), Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver and the Vision will assemble in the newly-erected Avengers Tower (built from the ruins of the Stark Tower as was hinted in Avengers Assemble's closing moments) to ready themselves for a confrontation against an adversary whose powers are constantly evolving and whose appetite for destruction can never be fully sated.
Avengers: Age of Ultron suits up in cinemas worldwide on May 1st, 2015.
MARVEL'S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. SEASON TWO PLOT DETAILS TEASED
Executive producers Maurissa Tancharoen and Jed Whedon have today revealed details of the direction which the various ongoing narrative threads featured in the second season of ABC's Marvel Cinematic Universe TV series Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will eventually take. Starring Clark Gregg as the ever-charismatic Agent Phil Coulson (now the Director of the titular world-protecting organization, in case readers missed the thrilling Season One finale "Beginning of the End"), the series interlinked with Marvel Studios' recent superhero films such as Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: The Winter Soldier over the course of its first run, for better or for worse.
Without further ado, here's a round-up of what Whedon (sadly not Joss, but Jed's a more than sufficient substitute in this instance) and Tancharoen had to say to zap2it on Season Two ahead of the show's impending San Diego Comic-Con panel:
- ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF SEASON TWO'S OVERARCHING NARRATIVE - "We have our arcs, we have our tentpoles, and we have quite a few [episodes] off the board. We're starting production on our first episode next week, so that's pretty fun."
- ON COULSON'S CHARACTER ARC IN SEASON TWO - "[We're] continuing [the Hydra arc] with SHIELD and Coulson not willing to trust people and not willing to bring people in, but having to because he doesn't have as many resources; we think we can keep that 'trust no one' alive. What does it mean to be the director of something that's fallen apart?"
- ON A POTENTIAL RETURN FOR THE RISING TIDE - "A huge part of Coulson's job right now is to sort of reach out and try to find all the resources he can get. Does the Rising Tide play into that? Maybe..."
- ON GRANT WARD'S PRESENCE - "He's in the mix. We love who he's become. He's really fun!"
- ON SKYE'S TEASED FATHER - "He needs to wash his hands better!"
- ON SEASON TWO'S MID-SEASON FINALE - "When we break and go to Agent Carter, we're not going to leave you with something that is not satisfying, hopefully."
- ON CONNECTIONS BETWEEN AGENTS, AGENT CARTER & GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY - "It's a very cool opportunity that we have. Marvel, their whole thing is 'it's all connected'. Do we connect with Agent Carter? Do we connect with Guardians? Do we connect with anything else coming up? Fortunately, there will not be a movie that comes out that destroys SHIELD, so our approach is definitely different this year. In terms of game-changers, that's hard to beat..."
Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will return for its action-packed second season on ABC this September 23rd, with a UK première date (on Channel 4) still to be announced.
MARVEL COMICS PROTAGONIST REINVENTION ANNOUNCED
On top of all of the above news, Marvel Comics have this week announced a dramatic reinvention of one of the most beloved superheroic protagonists in comic-book history. As of October, a new female character construct (though one known to fans of the hero-in-question) will take on the mantle of the Mighty Thor after the original incarnation is mysteriously deemed unworthy to wield the Hammer which gives its Asgardian owner supernatural powers of thunder and lightning manipulation.
At the risk of treading into somewhat controversial (justifiably so) territory, our reaction to the news itself is somewhat muted, only due to the fact that it would have been a more admirable move for Marvel to introduce a completely new female superhero rather than using what is essentially a gender change to grab headlines for a temporary period (it would come as no great surprise to see Donald Blake eventually reclaim his God of Thunder alter-ego as Peter Parker did two years after Otto Octavius seemingly murdered him and became the so-called Superior Spider-Man). If this marketing strategy does fulfil its purpose of introducing more female fans into the various comic-strips' extensive readership, though, then at the very least, it's a step towards the right direction for a publisher which has too frequently adopted a phallocentric approach to its graphic novel narratives.
Keep it On-Screen in the lead-up to this year's San Diego Comic-Con for all the latest news on the future of DC and Marvel's novelised and cinematic properties!