Comic Con 2013 Wrap: What to check out on TV and film

San Diego Comic Con is both a fan celebration of all that’s happened in the past year(s) and a launch pad for new projects.. Keep an eye out for these in the next year:


MARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. (ABC) – Producer/Director Joss Whedon has gone on record to say Clark Gregg’s Agent Coulson – killed in The Avengers – has returned from the dead thanks to fan love.  Ming-Na (Eureka), Elizabeth Henstridge (Hollyoaks), Ian De Caestecker (The Fades), Brett Dalton (Killing Lincoln) and Chloe Bennet (Nashville) round out the team who handle the world’s superheroes. Premieres Sept 24, 2013.

INTELLIGENCE (CBS) – Josh Holloway (LOST) plays a computer enhanced cyber-agent assigned a Secret Service handler (Once Upon a Time’s Megan Ory). Marg Hellenberger (CSI) stars as Holloway’s boss. Based on an unpublished novel, coming to TV February, 2014.

THE 100 (CW) – 100 years after fleeing an irradiated Earth in a space colony, human survivors sent 100 juvenile delinquents back down to the planet to see if it in habitable. Starring Henry Ian Cusack (LOST), Paige Turco (The Agency), Isaiah Washington (Grey’s Anatomy) and Eliza Taylor (Neighbours). Coming spring 2014.

SLEEPY HOLLOW (FOX) – Ichabod Crane finds himself pulled into a ravaged modern age. He partners with a small town sheriff to fight evil and defend the world. From Alex Kurtzman and Robert Orci (Transformers, Fringe, Star Trek) and starring Tom Mison and Nicole Beharie (Shame). Premieres Sept 16, 2013.

ALMOST HUMAN (FOX) – An unlikely pairing of part human/part android cops investigate crime and espionage in a future world. Starring Karl Urban (Star Trek) and Michael Ealy (Sleeper Cell). Produced by J.J. Abrams. Look for it in late fall 2013

ONCE UPON A TIME IN WONDERLAND (ABC) – Down the rabbit hole with writers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz as they spin off Once Upon a Time, mixing Alice’s Wonderland with Storybrooke. Starring Sophia Lowe (Two Mothers), Emma Rigby (Hollyoaks), Naveen Andrews (LOST), and John Lithgow as the voice of the White Rabbit. Premiers October 10, 2013.

ORPHAN BLACK (BBC America) – It’s already aired one season on BBC America and is gaining momentum stateside. Following the lives and mysteries of multiple clones, the show is critically acclaimed for storytelling and asking important ethical questions. Starring Tatiana Maslany (The Nativity), Dylan Bruce (As the World Turns) and Jordan Gavaris (Unnatural History). Catch the first season on BBC America, season 2 returns in 2014.


THE ZERO THEOREM (Voltage Pictures) – A tiny film compared to some of these others, Zero follows an eccentric recluse of a computer genius  working to solve the Zero Theorem and discover the purpose of life.  Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained), Tilda Swinton (The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe), Ben Whishaw (Skyfall), David Thewlis (Harry Potter series) and Lucas Hedges (Moonrise Kingdom). Releasing Dec 20, 2o13.

THE WOLVERINE (20th Century Fox) –Pining over the loss of Jean Grey in X-Men: The Last Stand, Hugh Jackman’s Logan is embroiled in a world of Japanese intrigue. Smaller and more personal than most of the hero films coming out, The Wolverine hopes to reconnect with fans disappointed by 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Currently in theaters

THE AMAZING SPIDER MAN 2 (Sony Pictures) – Spider-Man is credited with kicking off the superhero franchises with the 2002 Tobey Maguire version and these “Amazing” reboots starring Andrew Garfield have secured the series a reputation for solid storytelling. Neither the flashiest nor the darkest of the comic franchises, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 brings Jamie Foxx in as villain Electro. Releasing May 2, 2014.

DIVERGENT (Summit Entertainment) – Veronica Roth’s Divergent novel series  is still growing it’s fanbase, but after The Hunger Games: Catching Fire comes and goes in late 2013, fans hungry for dystopian young adult drama may lock on. It’s a strong story set in future Chicago, where humans have been divided into five personality-based factions. But not everybody fits – some are divergent… Releasing March 21, 2014.

X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST (20th Century Fox) – Uniting a gigantic cast of nearly all previous mutants (twenty principal cast members!) Future Past may have bitten off more than can be chewed in one story. If it works it will be a colossal success, if not it could be the death-knell of all X-films. Releasing May 23, 2014.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER (Marvel) – Chris Evans Captain and Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow defend America. That’s about all we know, except that the footage looks great and there’s a good amount of Marvel’s patented humorous banter. Also featuring Samuel L. Jackson and…Robert Redford! Releasing April 4, 2014.

THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE (Lionsgate) – Thought the book is a bit of a lull between the first and third titles, Jennifer Lawrence’s thoughtful portrayal of Katniss Everdeen already guarantees Catching Fire will be a huge success. The big question about this sequel is whether to see it opening night. Releasing Nov 22, 2013

THOR: THE DARK WORLD (Marvel) – Marvel needs to be a little careful, as audiences may burn out on separate stories and a united cast in The Avengers 2. Thor wasn’t the strongest origin story of the bunch, though it did give us Loki to make life difficult for The Avengers. Thor: The Dark World needs to do something impressively different to keep fans coming back.  Still, Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston! Releasing Nov 8, 2013

THE AVENGERS 2: AGE OF ULTRON (Marvel) – Discovering the villains is one of the fun things for comic movie watchers who are not comic book readers. Ultron is an AI creation who will take on The Avengers May 1, 2015. We’ll hear more about it at next year’s Comic Con.

ENDER’S GAME (Summit Entertainment) – All my feelings on this adaptation can be found here. See the movie, but don’t cheat yourself – read the book first. Releasing Nov 11, 2013.

Untitled Superman + Batman film (Warner Bros) – Arguably the most shocking moment in Hall H this year was this reveal of a combo film. No word yet on whether it will be a buddy, team or rival story and it’s not even scheduled until 2015, leaving plenty of time for speculation and fan arguments.

God and the Avengers

Over at the Christophers blog on Patheos, Toni Rossi has an excellent breakdown of the spiritual implications of the Avengers movie. He writes about a scene in which Loki (the villain) tells humanity it is their nature to kneel, to submit, to give up freedom:

As I was watching the scene in the movie unfold and the old man first stood up, I expected a comment from him about how human beings are never meant to follow, that we’re autonomous individuals who shouldn’t submit our own will to anyone else. That’s why the exchange surprised me. It didn’t say that at all. It just made a comment on the type of person – and perhaps unintentionally, the type of God – we’re supposed to follow.

It’s worth clicking through to read the whole thing.

Perhaps these underlying themes are part of why The Avengers is the highest grossing movie of all time.


More reading: Read our Avengers review.

Read why Iron Man is libertarian and The Hulk is progressive.

Review: ‘Avengers’ is Very, Very Good but Not Great

Months from now, when we’re bloated and gorged with yet another explosive summer blockbuster, we’ll look back on early May as a more innocent time, a time when a movie like Marvel’s The Avengers brought out the best in America, when children looked forward to the opening with anticipation, when fanboys raved on message boards, when critics lauded it to the skies.

In early May, after enduring the oh-so-serious Oscar season and doldrums of late winter movie duds, we’re all in need of a good bump, a superhero hit to get us through until Summer Movie Season officially begins.

And thus, along came Avengers, a movie perfectly calibrated for May 4, when it opens, one that would cause much less of a splash in July. It’s a fast-paced, high-octane funride with plenty of special effects, wit, and meaning to keep viewers glued to their seats, but not enough to earn a spot in the Superhero Movie Hall of Fame.

Call it a B+ effort.

Built on the foundation of years of superhero movies telling backstories of everyone from Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) to Thor (Chris Hemsworth) to Captain America (Chris Evans), this movie has been hotly anticipated.

It seems unlikely that a millionaire playboy (Downey), a Norse god (Hemsworth), and a superenhanced World War II hero (Evans) would team up with a spy named Black Widow (Scarlett Johannson), and a green rage monster and/or scientist (Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk).

What do they really have in common? Besides being Marvel characters, I mean?

The first half of the movie plays quite well with this concept. The Captain doesn’t like Iron Man’s breezy, cynical witticisms. In his day, people didn’t make light of sacrifice on the beaches of Normandy. For his part, Iron Man doesn’t much care for Mr. I’m-A-God-And-Your-Puny-Being-Can’t-Even-Fathom-What-That-Means.

Plus, Thor talks funny, like Shakespeare in the Park.

It all works together for the good of the audience. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen Thor and Iron Man in a knock-down, drag-out fight.

It’s positively seismic.

This is something I’ve never understood about superhero teams. I mean, they’re all pretty much undefeatable, including the villain, Thor’s Norse demigod black sheep of a brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston).

When undefeatable people fight, you get a lot of people throwing other people through buildings, hitting each other over the head with airplanes, dropping each other from unimaginable heights. That kind of stuff.

It seems like a lot of effort when the other guy just shakes it off.

A game of chess would have about the same level of determining a result.

The slamming, throwing, and smashing is more fun to watch than chess, though.

There is that.

Anyway, when Loki threatens to open a portal to another world in order to import his nasty, skeletal army to take over earth, the kids with special powers have to work together. Led by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and joined at times by arrow-wielding Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), they zip off to save New York from the possible invasion.

Which, of course, means they must destroy large portions of it in highly entertaining ways.

The film starts strong, too, with grand themes that make superhero movies so epic. Loki wants to rule earth for the glory of it and because it is his right. Forcing the populace to kneel before him, he tells them subservience is better, easier, more right for them, than freedom. Humanity only wants, no needs, to be told what to do.

This happens in Germany and there is a sublime moment when an elderly German man stands up, refusing to kneel and risking his life to do so. There’s an even more sublime moment when Captain America comes in and breaks up Loki’s little party.

It’s the U, S, of A, friends. Freedom is what we do.

At another point, Captain America wonders if the stars and stripes aren’t a little “old fashioned.” After all, isn’t a team of self-sacrificing heroes a little “old fashioned” in itself, someone else wonders.

The answer comes: Maybe in hard times, people might just need a little “old-fashioned.”

As the movie progresses, however, these grand ideas are generally abandoned. The citizens of earth neither stand nor kneel. Mostly, they run from explosions and huddle in stunned terror. As things march to their conclusion, we never quite get that beat that says freedom is the right of humanity and humans will not give it up.

That would have catapulted this very good movie into the realm of excellence.

As it stands, this is a fantastic movie to enjoy with kids, family, friends, heck, even strangers. Rated PG-13, it is squeaky clean. The most drastic language is “damn,” and that’s rare. There is one fleeting reference to marijuana from Iron Man (he’s incorrigible!) The women wear tight suits, but focus on kicking, fighting, and punching rather than vamping it up. There is no sexual, or even romantic, content. This movie is fine for the whole family, for any child old enough to endure fast-paced (but not gory) action.

I guess we’ll have to wait for The Dark Knight Rises for more insight into the human condition.

What a Team: New Avengers Trailer

Somebody explain to me why an enhanced WWII American, a Norse god, a raving green giant, a rich technological playboy, and Scarlett Johannson make the perfect superhero team. Actually, scratch that. Please don’t explain. The intricacies of the Marvel world might make my eyes roll back in my head. All I know is I like what I’m seeing when they come together in the new trailer for “The Avengers,” due to hit theaters as Summer Movie Season begins May 4.

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