And Bond 25’s Title Is…

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…Shatterhand?

Yeah, I get that’s a little click-baity, but this comes from a piece in industry resource, Production Weekly.

The title is already well-known to 007 fans, as the name Dr. Shatterhand appeared as an alias for Bond’s nemesis, Ernst Stavro Blofeld in Ian Fleming’s You Only Live Twice  novel.

If the title is correct, and it’s been floating around the top of the Bond 25 rumour mill for quite a while, it throws open many questions including: will Blofeld return? If so, who will he be played by? Traditionally, Blofeld has been portrayed by a different actor (including Donald Pleasance, Telly Savalas and Charles Gray) on every appearance, but would Christophe Waltz be tempted back?

This possible confirmation comes hot on the heels of the news that the film’s release date has been pushed back to April 2020, due to extensive script rewrites. Bourne Ultimatum writer Scott Z Burns will be taking a pass at the screenplay for Daniel Craig’s fifth and final outing as 007. This in itself is probably good news, given the film’s many delays at the begining of production, with original director Danny Boyle backing off, to be replaced by Cary Joji Fukunaga.

Fukunaga has previously announced he expects Bond 25 to pick up on threads from SPECTRE, lending relevance to the meaning behind that possible title.

Craig will be reuniting with Lea Seydoux, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, and Naomie Harris, and we’ll be sure to bring you more Bond news as it drops.

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John Wick 3 Trailer Has All The Violence

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Sometimes all a trailer needs to convince you to see the accompanying film is Keanu Reeves shooting a motorcyclist in the head at point-blank range while riding a horse. Which brings us handily to the trailer for John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum…

The first John Wick film was an almost understated gem of an action movie, so effortlessly did it walk the line between absurdity and genius, while the second leaned further into the fascinating mythology surrounding retired/not retired hitman, the eponymous Wick (Reeves, obvs).

With that last film leaving our hero in an extremely perilous situation (recapped in this trailer), this third chapter looks to carry on with the breathless shenanigans.

Frankly, any film that has Reeves alongside a cast consisting of Halle Berry, Mark Dacascos, Ian McShane, Lance Reddick, Boban Marjanović, and Laurence Fishburne would have my attention. That it happens to be the third in the series of Wick movies has me practically salivating into the very large box of popcorn I have at the ready.

Mr Wick will be doing all the violence on May 17.

Let Them Fight! Godzilla: King Of The Monsters Promises Monster Mash-Up!

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Alongside the reveal of the awesome new poster, “Let them fight!” seems to be the message from the brand second trailer for Godzilla: King of the Monsters as it promises one almighty monster mash-up.

The film has quite the impressive cast on new and returning actors, including Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown, Bradley Whitford, Sally Hawkins, Charles Dance, Thomas Middleditch, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Ken Watanabe, and Zhang Ziyi.

Several of these good people will obviously survive their encounter with the big guy this time and will be returning for the already-in-production Godzilla vs Kong, which is due to stomp everything in its path on on May 22, 2020.

Meanwhile, the King of the Monsters gets ready to do battle with Mothra, Rodan and King Ghidorah on May 31, 2019. Get ready to rumble…

Avengers 4 Trailer Is Here And We Have A Title…

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Okay, I know why you’re here, so…

I’d say that’s the very definition of a teaser trailer: our heroes are definitely on the ropes, but they have a cunning plan and… wait… here’s Hawkeye and Ant-Man to save the day, the universe… and multiple franchises.

Oh, and Avengers: Endgame it is, which, I’m not so wild about, but I guess it does what it says on the tin.

Are we excited yet…? I know, I know, silly question.

Avengers: Endgame opens May 3, 2019. It’s possible we’ll all be going to see it, I guess…

Marvel Launch New Captain Marvel Trailer

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Marvel Studios have given us an early Christmas-gift with a brand new trailer for Captain Marvel.

There’s a lot of fun new stuff in there, including a better look at the shape-shifting Skrulls, our first glimpse of Annette Bening and even an introduction to Captain Marvel/Carol Danvers’ pet cat, Chewie. It also leaves us in doubt just how much Marvel are going to be leaning into the cosmic side of their universe, with Captain Marvel roaring through space zapping spaceships.

As well as this latest trailer for the good Captain, there are plenty of rumblings that Marvel will drop a new trailer tomorrow for the still untitled Avengers 4, which at this rate will likely have the title card blacked out at the end. I’m kidding, of course, but only just.

And if that isn’t enough to fry your geek brain, there are even more rumours suggesting the trailer for Peter Parker’s adventures in Europe, a little film called Spider-Man: Far From Home may land on Thursday or Friday (possibly giving us our first glimpse of Jake Gyllenhaal’s villainous Mysterio).

Captain Marvel is released on March 8th, 2019, Avengers 4: Whatever It’s Called will follow two months later on May 3rd and Spider-Man: Far From Home lands July 5th.

What a time to be a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Feel free to let me have your thoughts on all of this, below…

Stan Lee – So Long, True Believer!

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It isn’t too often the death of a celebrity affects me emotionally, but today is very different. Stan ‘The Man’ Lee has passed away.

It’s difficult to talk about Stan without discussing my own life, so ingrained is he in the very core of the person I am today. Comic books were always around me, from my very earliest memories in the mid-1960s, those beautiful and crazy, four-colour treasures were always to hand, courtesy of a family that believed in the power of reading and in the stimulation of the imagination.

At first the comics were probably quite random, though I recall some Superman titles and an adaptation of King Kong that I literally read to pieces. These, along with the seminal American monster magazine, Famous Monsters of Filmland, were the guides that quickly took me past Jack & Jill books.

Then in 1972, Marvel, whose characters until then had been spottily reprinted in comics from other UK publishers, such as Odhams, launched their very first issue of The Mighty World of Marvel.  A weekly title, featuring Fantastic Four, Hulk and Spider-Man, it continued in the house style set by the original US Marvel comics, crediting the creators of the strips and led by the breathless purple prose of the personable and garrulous front-man for the company, the one and only Stan Lee.

Like Lee’s teenage hero Peter Parker being transformed by the radioactive bite of a spider, I was bitten and entranced with not only these larger than life super-hero characters, but by the very idea of Marvel and its editorial Bullpen, where creators such as Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Marie & John Severin, Don Heck, John Buscema, Gene Colan and many more dreamed up a never-ending series of stories to further stimulate my senses and, even better, encourage my own budding talents as an artist!

In October 1975, Lee and Hulk artist Herb Trimpe came to the UK to appear at the music venue, The Roundhouse, in London’s Camden. The show they put on was like a music gig, with Lee & Trimpe striding the stage like Plant and Page, rock gods of the comic pages to these youthful eyes. I had a front row ticket, alongside my lovely, flu-ridden Mum, who didn’t want eleven year-old me travelling across London on my own at night. Getting to meet my hero was beyond exciting, and that night is still firmly fixed in my head, as I can still feel the heat of the spotlights and hear my Mum coughing beside me.

I’d meet Stan again the following year, and buried somewhere in my loft (I hope) is a glossy, black & white still of me handing him my copy of Captain Britain, issue one, to sign (I still have that too).

I grew up alongside Peter Parker (some years older than me, of course, so he was a fictional, aspirational character), watching him graduate high school and head to college, then find himself in the hectic world of the freelance photographer – I could never have imagined my own life path would be so similar. This explains a large part of why Parker and Spider-Man remain my most-loved of Lee’s co-creations.

Only in my wildest dreams did I ever see myself actually working for Marvel, and yet, many years later there I was. Frankly, my career could have stopped at that moment and I’d have died with a grin on my face. Seeing my first Marvel pay cheque (ah, the days of printed pay cheques) emblazoned with images of the Hulk and Spider-Man was a genuinely surreal moment, to the point I almost (almost, mind…) didn’t cash it!

As I got older, I became more aware of the realities behind the comic stories: of the horrible practices of the comic book industry that saw creators robbed of their artwork and their intellectual ownership of characters that would go on to be financially exploited in all kinds of media. Slowly, and often posthumously, these creators or their families are seeing deals made to bring some equity to this shameful situation, and my hero turned out to have feet of clay as it’s pretty obvious that Lee helped perpetuate these problems.

That’s alway a useful learning curve for fans, of course, to be able to see those we admire as imperfect people instead of lofty icons.

And there was further sadness involving Stan, as in recent years he became embroiled in health and money issues, in seemingly endless attempts to recapture the creative heights of years long gone. This day has seemed ever more inevitable as he became more fragile with each appearance. And so it is.

But what a legacy this man left. A modern-day mythology that carries on the ages-old traditions of heroic storytelling, fables of characters we can and must aspire to be, whose ultimate goodness is set not in the wheel of victory, but in the attempt of victory, to be the better part of ourselves. Isn’t that something to get excited about?

For me personally, Stan and his amazing co-creations literally changed my life. Does that sound grandiose? Perhaps, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true. Stan appearing in my narrative directly led to me working in comic books for many years, and I wouldn’t now be working in animation had his vast imagination (and those of the people he worked with) not stirred my own imagination, my own creativity.

Thank you, Stan, for everything. You were The Man.

Excelsior.

Yours truly, with my original copy of the comic book that changed my life.
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My copies of the Origins of Marvel Comics (and its sequels), signed by Stan in 1975 and ’76.
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Toy Story 4 Gets Forked!

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Pixar/Disney have just dropped the teaser trailer for next summer’s Toy Story 4, and here it is for you:

Now, I’m not entirely certain the world needs another Toy Story movie (I have to admit to only seeing the last entry once, and I was ferociously drunk, which I fully agree may not have been the best way to appreciate its charms, however it does render my recall of it in particularly vivid tones), but I also have to admit to being happy to see these characters here.

The addition of the frankly surreal Forky character is a welcome bonus. The plot of Toy Story 4 spells out his role a little more:

Woody has always been confident about his place in the world and that his priority is taking care of his kid, whether that’s Andy or Bonnie. But when Bonnie adds a reluctant new toy called ‘Forky’ to her room, a road trip adventure alongside old and new friends will show Woody how big the world can be for a toy.

Toy Story 4 hits next summer (nine years after Toy Story 3), and will likely make all the money.

Marvel To Go Full Kosmic Kirby With The Eternals

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The long-rumoured Marvel Studios production of Jack Kirby’s The Eternals took a mighty leap forward today with the announcement that The Rider director Chloe Zhao will helm the picture from a script by Matthew and Ryan Firpo, with Kevin Feige producing.

Created during Jack Kirby’s second run at Marvel Comics in the mid-1970s, The Eternals tells a star-spanning tale of cosmic beings known as the Celestials (already mentioned in both Guardians of the Galaxy movies), who perform genetic experiments on humans in the distant past, creating the super-powered Eternals, as well as the villainous race called the Deviants.

This would seem to fit nicely with the cosmic path Marvel has begun with the (now-shockingly James Gunn-less) Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain Marvel.

The Eternals were arguably one of Kirby’s last great creations (although I’ll gladly engage you in fisticuffs if you diss my boy, Devil Dinosaur) and provides a truly spectacular blueprint for a franchise movie.

Zhao’s film has been winning plaudits left, right and centre and she stands as an utterly intriguing choice to bring Kirby’s wild creations to the screen.

Bond 25 Gets True Detective Helmer

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In a surprise but very welcome piece of news, EON Productions announced today that Cary Joji Fukunaga will helm the much-troubled Bond 25.

I don’t recall seeing Fukunaga crop up on many of the speculative “who will replace Danny Boyle?” lists circulating a few weeks ago, but this is great news. Fukunaga – the first American to direct a Bond film – was one of the driving forces behind the highly-praised first season of True Detective ( for which he won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series), as well as the 2015 Netflix movie Beasts of No Nation, on which he was writer, director, producer, and cinematographer.

“We are delighted to be working with Cary. His versatility and innovation make him an excellent choice for our next James Bond adventure,” said Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, while probably breathing huge sighs of relief. At least until Fukunaga also walks off the project in a few weeks, of course. Hey, stranger things have happened on Bond 25, right…!?

More news as it comes on Dave Bautista taking over as Bond when Daniel Craig leaves midway through filming. Probably.

Higher. Further. Faster. Now We Have A Captain Marvel Poster Too!

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As if the arrival of the Captain Marvel trailer wasn’t enough excitement for today, Marvel has just released the first official poster for the film.

Taking the now familiar phrase from the Captain Marvel comic books (Higher. Further. Faster) as its tag-line, the imagery has the good Captain very much arriving (through an imposing set of aircraft hangar doors).

And really, there’s not too much more to say here, except that it’s very pretty and March 8th, 2019 looks like it’s going to be a whole heap of fun! It’s time to get excited, Carol Corps!