I apologize for being a few days late in sharing this. It’s been a busy week. What if …. it hadn’t been a busy week!? Well, I probably would have shared this trailer yesterday.
Anyway, What If….? is the first official animated series in the MCU. It appears to take moments from MCU history and ask, “What if…..” Like, What If Clint Had Sacrificed His Life Instead of Natasha? That’s something I’d like to see.
If you don’t know who Hydra is, they’re an international group of villainous superspies. The organization was founded by a Nazi war criminal named Baron Von Strucker and they’re always trying to take over the world or destroy it. Hydra hasn’t had much success on either front but it’s not for lack of trying. Fortunately, there’s another super secret organization that’s been founded to keep Hydra from reaching their goals. The name of this organization is S.H.I.E.L.D. and they are headquartered in a big flying helicarrier thing. So, if you work for S.H.I.E.L.D., you not only get to save the world but you also have a hell of a work commute.
Anyway, Hydra’s latest plan is to steal the body of their founder and somehow not only bring him back to life but to also spread a deadly virus across the world. S.H.I.E.L.D. knows that it’s going to take the world’s greatest secret agent to defeat this plot but, unfortunately, Nick Fury (David Hasselhoff) is retired and living in an abandoned mine shaft in the Yukon. Nick wears an eye patch, smokes a cigar, and speaks in a permanently annoyed tone of voice. Nick’s done with saving the world. Or, at least, that’s what he thinks. When S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (Lina Rinna) informs him that Hydra killed an old friend of his while stealing the Baron’s body, Nick emerges from the Yukon in search of revenge!
Long before Samuel L. Jackson donned the iconic eye patch and brought Nick Fury to life as one of the mainstays of the MCU, David Hasselhoff played the character in this made-for-TV movie from 1998. The movie was meant to serve as the pilot for a Nick Fury television series. (Hasselhoff, by this point, was looking to move on from Baywatch.) Of course, it wasn’t picked up and today, whenever this early Marvel film is mentioned, it’s usually in a somewhat dismissive manner.
And, believe me, I can understand that instinct to preemptively dismiss Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. I mean, it’s David Hasselhoff and its from the 90s and it was made for TV. I get it. But, having watched the movie on Saturday night, I have to say that it’s actually not that bad. It’s low budget. It’s campy. It’s thoroughly silly. The film is full of actors giving uncertain line readings. And yet, it’s also fast-paced and, when taken on its own admittedly “special” terms, rather entertaining. In the role of Nick Fury, Hasselhoff plays the role with just enough self-awareness to indicate that he’s in on the joke. He delivers his lines with just the right amount of deadpan humor and he chews on that cigar as if the fate of the world depends upon it. In short, as opposed to almost everyone else in the film, Hasselhoff appears to be having a good time. In fact, one could argue that David Hasselhoff is a good Nick Fury for the same reason that Samuel L. Jackson is a good Nick Fury. Both of them play the character as if he’s someone who secretly realizes that he’s a character in a comic book film and who is determined to have as much fun with the role as he can.
The film’s plot does occasionally border on being incoherent but, honestly, who cares? Are you really watching a film like this for the plot? There’s a lot of explosions and one-liners. Hasselhoff has fun with the lead role, as does Sandra Hess in the role of Strucker’s daughter. It’s a dumb but entertaining. It’s also only 90 minutes long so it’s not like you’re having to sacrifice a major part of your life to watch it. Explosions and a short running time, who can complain about that?
It’s a new month and that means that it’s time for a new Black Widow trailer. How long have we been waiting for this film now? Where that old lady from Titanic? Has it really been over 80 years? I think that’s an exaggeration but we have been waiting for quite a while now.
Personally, I just hope this movie provides some sort of justice for the character. I’m still massively annoyed with how Natasha was treated in Avengers: Endgame and hearing that Black Widow 1) takes place before Endgame and 2) features Florence Pugh as the character who took Natasha’s place in the comic books does not particularly make me happy. At this point, though, I’ve been waiting so long to see the film that I’m just hoping Scarlett at least gets to beat a few people up with style.
Here’s the latest trailer. Black Widow will finally be released on July 9th!
The trailer for Venom: Let There Be Carnage was released earlier today. A lot of people on Twitter are really excited. Personally, I have no idea what to make of any of it. Apparently, this is not really an MCU film except that maybe it is. It’s like sitting in this sort of “Made in Association with Marvel” limbo. Who knows? The first Venom film drove my ADD crazy, though I should add that the film itself was liked by quite a few people here at the Shattered Lens.
Tom Hardy’s really cool. That’s the important thing, as far as I’m concerned. Tom Hardy is credited with coming up for the story for this film so hopefully, that means that the film’s plot will be kind of dark and cynical and odd and yet unexpectedly sweet and sentimental, like the Tom Hardy who regularly shows up in interviews. Regardless, it’s nice to see Tom Hardy taking ownership in the franchise. It reminds me of how Ryan Reynolds not only stars in the Deadpool films but obviously enjoys them as well.
Anyway, Venom: Let There Be Carnage will be released on September 24th. “Only in theaters!,” according to the trailer and I have to admit that I was happy to see those three words. Theaters need a shot in the arm.
Due to the Pandemic, 2020 was the first year since 2009 not to see the release of any new Marvel films. Many people wondered if the MCU would be able to survive taking a year off. Would people still care about or even remember the Marvel movies without having a new one released every four months? With so many of the MCU’s most popular characters either dead or retired by the end of Avengers: Endgame, would viewers in a post-Pandemic world still flock to theaters to see what Marvel’s fourth phase had to offer?
The positive responses to Disney+’s WandaVision and Falcon and the Winter Soldier would seem to suggest that the answer is yes but the first real test will be when Black Widow, Shang-Chi, The Eternals, and the latest Spider-Man film are released later this year. Black Widow is the first solo movie of one of the Marvel’s most popular characters and Spider-Man is Spider-Man so both are expected to be blockbusters. The Eternals are less well-known but, because their movie was directed by Nomadland‘s Chloe Zhao, expectations are high. Shang-Chi is probably the biggest question mark but the trailer generated a lot of enthusiasm.
With Black Widow just a few months away from opening, Marvel Studios today released a sizzle reel to remind viewers of what’s coming out. After a brief look at Marvel’s past, the trailer provides footage of Black Widow, Shang-Chi, and, for the first time, The Eternals. It ends with a list of upcoming Marvel films, including the newly titled Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and The Marvels. (The Marvels is the sequel to Captain Marvel, presumably titled to remind people that there is more to the film than Brie Larson.) Finally, things end with a hint that The Fantastic Four will soon be joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Marvel’s continuing conquest of all forms of entertainment continue with the trailer for Marvel’s M.O.D.O.K. This is an animated series that is going to air on Hulu. It’s about a super villain struggling with a mid-life crisis after his evil organization goes bankrupt and ends up getting sold to another evil organization. As much as I want to call him Gru, his name is apparently M.O.D.O.K.
Apparently, this series is not officially a part of the MCU but instead it takes place in some sort of parallel universe where everyone is animated and super villains sound like Patton Oswalt.
Anyway, the series drops on May 21st and here’s the trailer:
Like many people, I was broken-hearted when it appeared that Tom Hiddleston’s Loki was killed during Avengers: Infinity War. Then I was happy to see that he came back (in a fashion) in Avengers: Endgame! As for the upcoming Disney+ series featuring Loki …. well, let’s just watch the trailer and patiently wait for June 11th, shall we?
It looks good to me but, of course, you knew I was going to say that. I’m among those who feels that Tom Hiddleston can do no wrong so I’m going to be happy to see him in just about everything. Does this series make Loki the first Marvel villain to get his own MCU vehicle? Good for him. Who doesn’t love Loki?
As I’ve said before, both on this site and on twitter, I have mixed feeling about the upcoming Black Widow film. On the one hand, Natasha was my favorite member of the Avengers and I’m glad that she’s finally getting a solo film. On the other hand, it annoys me that she’s only getting a solo film after being killed off in Avengers: Endgame. Don’t even get me started on the screwed-up logic of her sacrificing her life when Clint was the one who had basically spent 5 years killing everyone that he met. Natasha may have made mistakes when she was a spy but at least she was never a serial killer!
Apparently, the Black Widow solo film takes place in between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War and it seems very likely that it’s also going to serve as an origin story for a character played by Florence Pugh, who may end up becoming the new Black Widow. I hope that’s not true but, from what I’ve heard, it seems probable. I’m not particularly excited about the prospect of that happening. I don’t want a replacement Black Widow. I want the original to come back to life and I want Clint to do the right thing.
To be honest, though, I’m now at a point where I just want to see the damn movie. That release date has been moved around so much that I no longer care whether or not the film’s any good or not. I don’t care whether or not they’re going to do the right thing and resurrect Natasha from the dead. I JUST WANT TO SEE THE DAMN MOVIE! Hell, I’ll even spend the extra 30 to see it in Disney Plus, I don’t care. I JUST WANT TO SEE THE MOVIE!
Anyway, with all that in mind, Black Widow is going to be released on July 9th and it’s about time! Here’s the latest trailer:
First introduced in 1961 and originally known as Dr. Droom (his name was changed to prevent anyone from mixing him up with Dr. Doom), Anthony Ludgate Druid was a magic user who hunted monsters and who had studied the mystic arts with a Tibetan lama. Later, the lama was retconned into the Ancient One and it was said that Dr. Druid was the runner-up for the position of Sorcerer Supreme. This was a way of acknowledging an obvious truth, that Dr. Druid was an unsuccessful dry run for Dr. Strange.
With Dr. Druid’s monster hunting activities never becoming popular with readers, he was eventually just used as a host for Weird Wonder Tales, a series that reprinted old monster comics from the 50s. One look at Dr. Druid at this time shows why he was never able to seriously challenge Doctor Strange for the role of Marvel’s most popular sorcerer.
Eventually, Dr. Druid did enter the mainstream Marvel universe. He joined the Avengers and distinguished himself by getting himself elected Avengers chairman while possessed by a villainous and then disbanding the team. Even after Dr. Druid got his mind back, no one wanted much to do with him and he faded into obscurity.
He remained forgotten until 1995. That was when he was resurrected for a series that lasted for four issues. To this day, there’s debate over whether the series was meant to be a miniseries or a continuing series. What everyone can agree on is that Warren Ellis radically challenged what everyone though they knew about Dr. Druid.
Now, heavily tattooed and simply calling himself Druid, the former hero was an embittered alcoholic who embraced the dark side of his powers. For four issues, Druid roamed through London and killed almost everyone who he met. Druid was a dark and brutal series and it’s probably not surprising that it only lasted four issues.
The final issue featured Druid doing his usual killing and destroying until, in the final pages of the issue, Daimon Hellstrom suddenly appeared and announced, to Druid: “You’re a lunatic, a religious maniac, a bad idea. You should have been stamped on at birth. And, in the end, you’re a failure.” Hellstrom proceeded to burn Druid to a crisp and what I’ve always remembered about that issue were the final lines announcing that Druid’s corpse was left in a trash can.
When you’re a kid just reading a comic book, that’s some pretty heavy stuff! Those last moments of Druid have always stuck with me. I’ve always felt bad for Dr. Druid. He went from being a failed Sorcerer Supreme to a failed Avenger to eventually getting tossed in a trash can. He’s also one of the few Marvel characters not to return from the dead. He’s gone, never to return. He probably won’t even get to appear in a movie.
Alas, poor Druid. He was the Rodney Dangerfield of second-tier Marvel heroes. He never got any respect. No respect at all.
When three college students decide to prove the folly of the nuclear arms race by stealing enough plutonium to make a nuclear bomb of their own, it’s up to Spider-Man (Nicholas Hammond) to sort them out! He better do it quickly, too, because the police suspect that the plutonium may have been stolen by a grad student named Peter Parker.
However, Spider-Man is not the only person who wants that bomb. The evil Mr. White (Robert Alda) also wants the bomb, though he’s not planning on using it to make the case for world peace. Instead, he plans to blackmail the government into giving him a fortune in gold. Now, Parker not only has to clear his own name but he has to keep Mr. White from blowing up Los Angles while, at the same time, preventing a nosy reporter (Joanna Cameron) from figuring out that he’s really Spider-Man.
Spider-Man Strikes Back was released as a feature film in Europe and was advertised as being a sequel to Spider-Man. Gullible audiences who paid money to see it ended up sitting through a two-part episode of the Amazing Spider-Man TV show, albeit one that was edited into a 90-minute movie and which didn’t have stop for commercial interruption.
Spider-Man Strikes Back highlights exactly what went wrong with the first attempt to do a live action version of Spider-Man. There were several members of Spider-Man’s regular rogues’ gallery who could have stolen that bomb and threatened Los Angeles. It sounds like a typical Sinister Six plot. Even the Kingpin, on a bad day, might be tempted to get in on that action. Instead, the villain is a bland arms dealer named Mr. White. CBS reportedly refused to use any classic Spider-Man villains because they wanted to keep the show grounded in reality but the minute Spider-Man crawled up a skyscraper for the first time, the network should have forgotten about trying to keep it real.
To repeat what I said in my review of Spider-Man, Nicholas Hammond is miscast as everyone’s favorite webcrawler. Hammond is likable but he doesn’t come across as being at all insecure and it’s Spider-Man’s insecurities that distinguished him from other comic book heroes. Spider-Man Strikes Back also suffers because it’s clear that much of the Spider-Man footage was reused from the pilot film.
I still enjoyed watching Spider-Man Strikes Back, though. When I was a kid, Spider-Man was my favorite and, even in something like this, it’s still fun to watch him climbing up buildings and webbing up crooks. Though there’s nothing cinematic about Spider-Man Strikes Back and it’s clearly just an extended episode of a TV show, I still liked that the climax took place in an preserved old west ghost town. That was just strange enough to work.
Though Spider-Man Strikes Back was not as successful at the European box office as Spider-Man, it still did well enough that one more feature film would be crafted from the Spider-Man TV show, Spider-Man: The Dragon’s Challenge.