Chadwick Boseman dead at 43; acclaimed star of ‘Black Panther’ battled colon cancer

August 28, 2020

by Carla Hay

Chadwick Boseman (Photo courtesy of ABC/Image Group LA) 

Chadwick Boseman, the charismatic and critically acclaimed actor who starred in the 2018 blockbuster “Black Panther,” died of colon cancer at his Los Angeles home on August 28, 2020. He was 43. In a public statement issued by his family, Boseman had been diagnosed with cancer in 2016, but he never revealed this diagnosis to the public, according to the Associated Press.

In addition to starring in “Black Panther,” Boseman had roles in other Marvel superhero movies such as 2016’s “Captain America: Civil War,” 2018’s “Avengers: Infinity War” and 2019’s “Avengers: Endgame.” He also starred as several African American icons in biopics, such as baseball player Jackie Robinson in the 2013 movie “42,” singer James Brown in 2014’s “Get on Up” and Thurgood Marshall in 2017’s “Marshall.” He also starred in the cop drama “21 Bridges,” which was his first movie in which he was a producer. Boseman’s last two film roles were for Netflix: He portrayed a Vietnam War soldier in the 2020 drama “Da 5 Bloods” (directed and co-written by Spike Lee) and co-starred with Viola Davis in the drama “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” which does not have a release date yet.

Born on November 29, 1976, in Anderson, South Carolina, Boseman graduated from Howard University in 2000, with a bachelor of fine arts degree in directing. Two important mentors he had during his college years were Oscar-winning actor Denzel Washington (who reportedly paid for Boseman’s college tuition) and actress Phylicia Rashad, who was one of his teachers at Howard. Boseman was also a graduate of Digital Film Academy and aspired to be a director.

Boseman made his film debut in 2008’s “The Express.” Before getting starring roles movies, he had roles in TV shows and in theater, most notably in the 2010 short-lived NBC series “Persons Unknown” and in a recurring role in 2008 and 2009 in the ABC Family series “Lincoln Heights,” which was on the air from 2007 to 2010. But he was best known for playing African king superhero T’Challa in “Black Panther,” which was the second highest-grossing film of 2018 in the world (with $1.3 billion in ticket sales), second to “Avengers: Infinity War,” which had worldwide ticket sales of $2 billion. Of the $1.3 billion that “Black Panther” had in worldwide ticket sales, $700 million were ticket sales in the U.S., making “Black Panther” the highest-grossing film in the U.S. in 2018.

“Black Panther” won numerous awards, including three Oscars: for costume design, production design and original score. Boseman and the rest of “Black Panther” stars won the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding by a Cast in a Motion Picture, and the movie won several NAACP Image Awards. A sequel to “Black Panther” had been announced to be released in 2022, but had not begun filming at the time that Boseman passed away. As of now, it’s unclear what will happen to the movie because of Boseman’s death. Also in limbo is the movie “Yasuke,” in which Boseman had the title role, but the movie hadn’t begun filming at the time of his death.

The Boseman family statement says: “A true fighter, Chadwick persevered through it all, and brought you many of the films you have come to love so much. From ‘Marshall’ to ‘Da 5 Bloods,’ August Wilson’s ‘Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom’ and several more—all were filmed during and between countless surgeries and chemotherapy. It was the honor of his career to bring King T’Challa to life in ‘Black Panther.’”

Boseman is survived by his wife Taylor Simone Ledward and his parents Leroy and Karen Boseman.

Review: ‘Bloodshot’ (2020), starring Vin Diesel

March 13, 2020

by Carla Hay

Vin Diesel in “Bloodshot” (Photo by Graham Bartholomew)

“Bloodshot” (2020)

Directed by David S. F. Wilson

Culture Representation: Taking place in various cities around the world, the sci-fi/action flick “Bloodshot” has a racially diverse cast (white, black, Asian and Latino) and a story that revolves around a U.S. military soldier who’s brought back from the dead, as well as the current and former members of a secret high-tech organization that’s experimenting on him to make him into an easily manipulated killing machine.

Culture Clash: Certain characters in the story have ethical dilemmas about using technology to train assassins.

Culture Audience: “Bloodshot” will appeal primarily to fans of star Vin Diesel and the comic-book series on which the movie is based, but the movie’s formulaic tropes will have little interest to people who aren’t die-hard fans of action movies.

Guy Pearce and Vin Diesel in “Bloodshot” (Photo by Graham Bartholomew)

Vin Diesel is best known for starring in the wildly successful car-racing “Fast and Furious” franchise since 2001, when the first “The Fast and the Furious” movie made him famous. Ever since then, he’s starred in multiple action movies that were clearly made with the hopes that they too would become blockbuster franchises with a series of several movies, but none outside of “The Fast and the Furious” and “XXX” (pronounced “triple X”) has panned out to be that way.

The sci-fi/action flick “Bloodshot” (based on the Valiant Comics series) is another attempt by Diesel (who’s one of the movie’s producers) to try and create a movie-franchise vehicle for himself, and this attempt will also fail. Although “Bloodshot” is a passably enjoyable film, the movie doesn’t have the charisma to make it the type of film where audiences will demand any sequels. This personality deficit in the movie has largely do with the fact that Diesel is a very robotic actor, which is no surprise to anyone who’s seen most of his films.

“Bloodshot” begins with a montage of Diesel’s Ray Garrison character on active duty as a U.S. Marines soldier. He saves a man from a hostage situation and ends up at Ariano Air Force Base in Italy, where he gets praise for his rescue mission. All of this globetrotting away from home has put a strain on his marriage to his British wife Gina (played by Talulah Riley), who’s an action-flick cliché of being the hero’s modelesque love interest who (of course) gets half-naked in the movie. Gina comments to Ray about his soldier duties, “At some point, your body can’t do this forever,” in what is supposed to pass as deep, meaningful insight in her dialogue.

Sure enough, Ray does get killed. But how he gets killed might or might not have happened in the way people might think it happened, since the movie plays tricks on characters’ minds about what’s real and what isn’t. What does happen on screen is that Ray is ambushed and kidnapped by two men in his bathroom. The next thing Ray knows, he’s tied to a chair in a slaughterhouse, where he undergoes a brutal interrogation about information that he swears that he doesn’t know.

Ray’s tormenter/interrogator in this kidnapping is Martin Axe (played by Toby Kebbell), who’s clearly unhinged because he starts dancing to the Talking Heads’ “Psycho Killer” before showing that Gina has been kidnapped and tied up too. And then Gina gets murdered in front of Ray.

As viewers soon see, the entire tragic scene was an elaborate virtual-reality manipulation that later will be used on Ray, who is dead in real life and being experimented on by a secret American high-tech organization called Rising Spirit Technologies (RST), led by the overly ambitious mad scientist Dr. Emil Harting (played by Guy Pearce). Harting wants to perfect a technology that can resurrect soldiers from the dead and train them to be assassins with superpowers. He plans to sell this technology to the highest bidder, and he expects to make billions. (This isn’t a spoiler, since this concept of reanimating Ray from the dead is in the movie’s trailer and it’s the origin story in the “Bloodshot” comics.)

Ray finds out that he’s been brought back from the dead when Harting shows Ray how he’s undergone a blood transfusion that has replaced his blood with a plasma-like liquid filled with molecular creatures that can quickly rebuild his body in any way after getting injuries or wounds, thereby making Ray virtually indestructible. (The visual effects for “Bloodshot” are actually quite good, but they won’t be winning any awards.)

Ray is the first person that RST has been able to bring back to life, according to what Harting says. Harting also says that no family members claimed Ray after Ray’s death, so that’s why Ray’s body ended up at RST. Ray’s memory has been erased, so he has no way to know if Harting is telling him the truth, and he’s trapped in the facility anyway. In order to ease Ray’s fears, Harting puts a positive spin on the situation by telling Ray that Ray now has a second chance at life. What he doesn’t tell Ray is that Ray is being used by RST to see if Ray can be turned into an easily programmable killing machine.

At RST, Ray meets three people who are also part of RST’s experiments: Katie, nicknamed KT (played by Eiza González), is someone whose respiratory system has been restored into something high-tech that can be controlled by Harting. Jimmy Dalton (played by Sam Heughan) is Harting’s most loyal foot soldier (literally), since his legs have been replaced by super-speedy mechanical limbs. Jimmy has other high-tech abilities that are revealed later in the story. Tibbs (played by Alex Hernandez), the quietest of the three, has ocular prosthetics that give him a superhuman ability to see.

What viewers see but what Ray doesn’t is that RST can create virtual worlds in Ray’s mind and erase his memories to start over and implant other ideas in his mind whenever they want. And what Harting wants to do in this phase of the experiment is to see if he can get Ray to complete a series of assassinations around the world, by tricking Ray into thinking that each of the men he assassinates is the same man who murdered Gina in front of Ray.

In order to do that, RST has to erase Ray’s memories every time he completes an assassination and start over by replacing Gina’s murder re-enactment with a different image of each man as the murderer, who will then be the target of Ray’s revenge assassination. And who are these men that Ray is supposed to kill? And why does Harting want them killed? Those details are revealed in the movie.

Meanwhile, KT gets a little closer to Ray, and there are hints that she’s attracted to him and wants a better life than the one she’s trapped in at RST. There’s also a fast-talking coding whiz named Wilfred Wigans (played by Lamorne Morris), a Brit who’s the comic relief in the movie. Wigans has a self-deprecating sense of humor that shows he’s aware that he’s a nerd who gets disrespected, but he’s determined to have the last laugh. Wigans is the only character in the movie who seems to have a personality that goes beyond two dimensions.

Most people who want to see “Bloodshot” will be interested in the action sequences. And some of these scenes are thrilling, particularly the movie’s best action scene, which takes place on a skyscraper. But the assassination scenes are very formulaic, especially since there are video games that have upped the ante and people’s expectations for this type of action.

In this age of Marvel Studios’ domination of superhero flicks, movie audiences are now expecting a lot more from superhero movies than what “Bloodshot” delivers, because the movie version of “Bloodshot” is a story that’s on the same quality level as a video game. “Bloodshot” director David S. F. Wilson (who co-wrote the movie’s screenplay with Eric Heisserer) should have kept in mind while making this film that today’s movie audiences want genuine and relatable character development in superhero movies, not just impressive visual effects. Wilson, who makes his feature-film directorial debut with “Bloodshot,” has a visual-effects background in mostly video games, including several “Star Wars” video game titles.

As the ruthless and greedy Dr. Harting, Pearce does a reasonably good job with his character, but he’s already played a memorable mad scientist in a superhero movie before—Aldrich Killian in 2013’s “Iron Man 3.” Since “Iron Man 3” was a much better movie than “Bloodshot,” the latter movie seems like an inferior retread for Pearce, and the Harting character doesn’t have the wounded emotional depth that Killian had.

And in the role of KT, González does a serviceable performance that, quite frankly, could have been played by any number of actresses. Huegan’s soulless Jimmy Dalton character is strictly a one-dimensional role where he has single-minded loyalty to RST and some jealousy toward Ray, who’s being groomed as RST’s alpha male experiment. And as the quiet Tibbs, Hernandez doesn’t have much to do with this character, who’s basically there to just follow Jimmy’s lead.

In order for a superhero movie to go from a one-picture deal to a series franchise, audiences have to want to come back for more because of the personalities of the main characters. In that respect, “Bloodshot” falls woefully short, because as the center of the story and as the titular superhero, Diesel’s acting is almost as artificially lifeless as Ray Garrison/Bloodshot.

Columbia Pictures released “Bloodshot” in U.S. cinemas on March 13, 2020. 

UPDATE: Because of the widespread coronavirus-related closures of movie theaters worldwide, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has moved up the digital and VOD release of “Bloodshot” to March 24, 2020.

‘Avengers: Endgame’ surpasses ‘Avatar’ to become the world’s biggest movie of all time for ticket sales

July 20, 2019

by Carla Hay

After breaking several box-office records, Marvel Studios’ “Avengers: Endgame” has now broken the ultimate box-office record. The movie has now surpassed 2009’s “Avatar” as the world’s biggest-selling movie of all time for ticket sales. “Avengers: Endgame” (which opened worldwide on April 26, 2019) now has $2.793 billion in worldwide ticket sales, compared to $2.790 billion for “Avatar,” according to Box Office Mojo. In the U.S. and Canada, “Avengers: Endgame” had a total haul of $857 million.

Before reaching this historic milestone, “Avengers: Endgame” shattered box-office records for the highest-grossing opening weekend in movie history, with a whopping $350 million in tickets sold in the U.S. and Canada, and a total worldwide haul of $1.2 billion, according to Box Office Mojo. The previous record was held by 2018’s “Avengers: Infinity War,” which had opening-weekend sales of $258 million in the U.S. and Canada and $641 million worldwide.

“Avengers: Endgame” easily became the world’s highest-grossing movie of the 2010s decade, surpassing 2014’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” whose ticket sales totaled $914 million in the U.S. and Canada and $2.1 billion worldwide. (“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is still the No. 1-selling movie of all time in the U.S. and Canada.) “Avengers: Endgame” then became the world’s No. 2 highest-grossing movie of all time, surpassing 1997’s “Titanic,” which had $659 million in U.S. and Canadian ticket sales and a total haul of $2.2 billion in worldwide ticket sales.

On June 28, 2019, “Avengers: Endgame” was re-released in theaters, which helped push the movie’s box-office numbers past “Avatar.” The re-release had previously unreleased bonus footage during the end credits.

The home-video release of “Avengers: Endgame” is also expected to shatter home-video sales records. Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment  will release the movie in the U.S. release on digital download  on July 30, 2019, and Ultra HD Blu-ray, Blu-ray, and DVD on August 13, 2019. The movie’s U.K. release on Digital HD and Blu-ray is on September 2, 2019.

As previously reported, “Avengers: Endgame” co-director brothers Joe and Anthony Russo will be doing a “We Love You 3000” tour of the U.S. to promote the movie’s home-video release. The title of the tour comes from the “I love you 3000” line that Tony Stark/Iron Man and his daughter Morgan say to each other in “Avengers: Endgame.” The Russo brothers also directed “Avengers: Infinity War,” “Captain America: Civil War” and “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.”

Even though “Avengers: Endgame” clocks in at about three hours, several movie theaters (including AMC Theatres in numerous cities) stayed open 24 hours a day during the movie’s opening weekend to accommodate the demand for tickets and screenings. Some theaters remained open for 24 hours even after the opening weekend so that they could have round-the-clock “Avengers: Endgame” screenings for the movie’s entire first week in theaters. As previously reported, advance ticket sales for “Avengers: Endgame” caused crashes on several websites that sell movie tickets including AMC Theaters, Alamo Drafthouse, Atom Tickets and Fandango.

“Avengers: Endgame” has a superhero cast that includes Iron Man (played by Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (played by Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (played by Chris Evans), Black Widow (played by Scarlett Joahnsson), Hawkeye (played by Jeremy Renner), War Machine (played by Don Cheadle), Ant-Man (played by Paul Rudd) and Captain Marvel (played by Brie Larson). “Avengers: Endgame” reveals what happened to all the superheroes who “died” in “Avengers: Infinity War.” The remaining superheroes band together to go after supervillain Thanos (played by Josh Brolin), who was responsible for wiping out half of the universe’s population at the end of “Avengers: Infinity War.”

2019 Tribeca Film Festival pilot episode review: ‘The Boys’

May 1, 2019

by Carla Hay

Jack Quaid and Karl Urban in "The Boys"
Jack Quaid and Karl Urban in “The Boys” (Photo by Jan Thijs)

“The Boys”

Pilot episode/Season 1, Episode 1

World premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 29, 2019.

Amazon Prime Video’s “The Boys” series couldn’t have come at a better time, when superhero movies have been dominating the box office, and the lead characters in the movies have legions of devoted fans around the world. “The Boys,” based on the graphic-novel series of the same name, explores what it would be like to live in a world where over-worshipped superheroes abuse their fame and power. Based on the pilot episode of “The Boys” that had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival, Amazon Prime Video could have its first big superhero-themed hit.

The main protagonists of “The Boys” aren’t even superheroes. They’re mere mortals who want to expose the corrupt superheroes because of personal vendettas they have against them. Hughie Campbell (played by Jack Quaid) is a mild-mannered employee of an independent electronics store in New York City. It’s the type of store that’s rapidly disappearing in a retail economy that’s killed Radio Shack. Hughie seems to have a safe and predictable life. He and his girlfriend Robin (played by Jess Salgueiro) are very much in love, and although Hughie’s job doesn’t pay too well, it’s enough for him to get by comfortably, even if he still has to live with his single father (played by Simon Pegg).

Hughie’s world turns into a nightmare when his girlfriend is killed right in front of him in a freak accident. It’s because a lightning-speed superhero named A-Train (played by Jessie T. Usher) literally runs right through her while chasing a robber, and that leads to Robin’s gruesome death. A-Train runs so fast (just like DC Comics’ The Flash) that he didn’t even notice that he killed someone until he sees the bloody aftermath, and he makes a quick excuse that he has to leave in order to keep chasing after the robber.

A devastated Hughie tries to get justice from Vought International, the mega-corporation that manages and secretly covers up for the world’s top superheroes, including an elite group called The Seven. (The Seven is written as an obvious satire of DC Comics’ supergroup Justice League.) Vought is run by Madelyn Stillwell (played by Elizabeth Shue), a ruthless executive who puts on a façade of doing what’s best for the world, while hiding superheroes’ dirty secrets. Vought offers Hughie a $45,000 settlement to not sue over Robin’s death, but he refuses. A-Train gives a half-hearted public apology, but Hughie is not convinced the apology is sincere. Hughie isn’t so mild-mannered anymore. He’s heartbroken, bitter, and out for revenge. He just doesn’t know what to do about it yet.

Meanwhile, in Des Moines, Iowa, a naïve young woman named Annie January (played by Erin Moriarty) is training to become a superhero, much like a girl would train for an event that’s a combination of an athletic competition and a beauty pageant. She’s hoping she’ll be the chosen one to replace Lamplighter, one of the superheroes who is retiring from The Seven. What happens to this young superhero will set in motion much of the action for the rest of the series. She joins The Seven under the new identity Starlight, a character clearly inspired by Supergirl.

Not long after Starlight joins The Seven, Hughie unexpectedly meets Billy Butcher (played by Karl Urban), a no-nonsense badass who crashes into Hughie’s store. Billy says that he’s part of a secret vigilante group called The Boys, whose goal is to hold law-breaking superheroes accountable for their misdeeds. Hughie wants in on the action, but Billy wants Hughie to prove himself first.

Billy tells Hughie that all of the superheroes are corrupt except Homelander (played by Antony Starr), the leader of The Seven, an alpha-male, patriotic type who has the superhero ability to fly, just like Superman. But is Homelander really a good guy or has Billy been fooled into thinking he is?

Other characters from The Seven that are introduced in this pilot episode include The Deep (played by Chace Crawford), an Aquaman-type heartthrob who’s secretly a creep abusing his power through sexual harassment; Black Noir (played by Nathan Mitchell), a mysterious silent type; Translucent (played by Alex Hassell), who can make himself invisible, similar to the DC Comics character Negative Man, and uses this ability to be a perverted Peeping Tom; and Queen Maeve (played by Dominique McElligott), a tough-but-tender alpha female, similar to Wonder Woman, who shows signs that she’s not as committed to The Seven’s corrupt ways as the rest of the group.

Translucent is not in “The Boys” comic books, so his storyline in the TV series is the least-easiest to predict. Advance teaser footage of “The Boys” shows Translucent imprisoned in a cage. The Amazon Prime Video series also has some other differences from “The Boys” comic books (which were created by writer Garth Ennis and illustrator Darick Robertson), but that spoiler information won’t be included here.

Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, James Weaver, Ori Marmur, Ken F. Levin and Jason Netter are among the executive producers of “The Boys.” They previously adapted a popular graphic-novel series to television with AMC’s “Preacher.” Other executive producers of “The Boys” are Eric Kripke (“Supernatural”), Neal H. Moritz (“The Fast and the Furious” franchise) and Pavun Shetty (CBS’s “S.W.A.T.”).

Based on the pilot episode of “The Boys,” this series is going full-throttle with sex, drugs, adult language and violence. Now that Amazon Prime Video has canceled the superhero comedy series “The Tick” (which didn’t really click with audiences, after two seasons), “The Boys” can step in and fill that superhero series void with a rip-roaring abandon that’s a satirical kick in the face to superheroes who are too popular for their own good.

Amazon Prime Video will premiere the first season of “The Boys” on July 26, 2019.

 

‘Avengers: Endgame’ breaks ticket-sales records for 2019 and the entire decade

April 28, 2019

by Carla Hay

Brie Larson, Scarlett Johansson, Don Cheadle, Chris Hemsworth and Chris Evans in “Avengers: Endgame” (Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios)

Marvel Studios’ “Avengers: Endgame” shattered box-office records for the highest-grossing opening weekend in movie history so far. The superhero sequel (which opened worldwide on April 26, 2019) sold a whopping $350 million in tickets in the U.S. and Canada, and had a total worldwide haul of $1.2 billion, according to Box Office Mojo. The previous record was held by 2018’s “Avengers: Infinity War,” which had opening-weekend sales of $258 million in the U.S. and Canada and $641 million worldwide. With these numbers, “Avengers: Endgame” is easily on track to becoming the highest-grossing movie of the 2010s decade, surpassing 2014’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” whose ticket sales totaled $914 million in the U.S. and Canada and $2.1 billion worldwide. “Avengers: Endgame” will also likely become the No. 2 highest-grossing movie of all time, surpassing 1997’s “Titanic,” which had $659 million in U.S. and Canadian ticket sales and a total haul of $2.2 billion in worldwide ticket sales.

Even though “Avengers: Endgame” clocks in at about three hours, several movie theaters (including AMC Theatres in numerous cities) stayed open 24 hours a day during the movie’s opening weekend to accommodate the demand for tickets and screenings. Some theaters remained open for 24 hours even after the opening weekend so that they could have round-the-clock “Avengers: Endgame” screenings for the movie’s entire first week in theaters. As previously reported, advance ticket sales for “Avengers: Endgame” caused crashes on several websites that sell movie tickets including AMC Theaters, Alamo Drafthouse, Atom Tickets and Fandango.

“Avengers: Endgame” has a superhero cast that includes Iron Man (played by Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (played by Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (played by Chris Evans), Black Widow (played by Scarlett Joahnsson), Hawkeye (played by Jeremy Renner), War Machine (played by Don Cheadle), Ant-Man (played by Paul Rudd) and Captain Marvel (played by Brie Larson). “Avengers: Endgame” reveals what happened to all the superheroes who “died” in “Avengers: Infinity War.” The remaining superheroes band together to go after supervillain Thanos (played by Josh Brolin), who was responsible for wiping out half of the universe’s population at the end of “Avengers: Infinity War.” Brother duo Anthony Russo and Joe Russo directed “Avengers: Endgame,” as well as “Avengers: Infinity War,” “Captain America: Civil War” and “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.”

Stan Lee, Marvel Comics’ most influential icon, dead at 95

November 12, 2018

by Carla Hay

Stan Lee (Photo courtesy of Tinseltown Shutterstock)

Stan Lee, a co-creator of numerous iconic Marvel Comics characters, including Spider-Man and the Incredible Hulk, died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles on November 12, 2018, according to the Associated Press. He was 95.

Lee (whose real name was Stan Lieber) was born in New York City, and began his career in 1939 as an illustrator’s assistant/gopher at Timely Comics (which would later morph into Atlas Comics and then Marvel Comics), eventually rising to editor-in-chief in 1941 and publisher in 1972. Along with several collaborators (including Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Larry Lieber and Don Heck), Lee co-created the characters that became Marvel’s most famous and the basis of most of the mega-successful Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) movies.  In addition, to Spider-Man and the Incredible Hulk, Lee was a co-creator of such Marvel characters as Iron Man, the Fantastic Four, Thor, Black Panther, X-Men, Ant-Man, Doctor Strange, Nick Fury, Daredevil, Hawkeye, Black Widow and War Machine. The Avengers are a group of superheroes that were mostly co-created by Lee, who helped Marvel’s business expand into movies and television, with Lee being a producer or executive producer on the vast majority of film and TV releases with Marvel characters.

Lee had cameos in all of the MCU movies that were made before his death, from 2008’s “Iron-Man” to the still-untitled fourth “Avengers” movie that is set for release in 2019. He also had cameos in Sony Pictures’ movies starring Marvel characters (such as all of the “Spider-Man” movies and 2018’s “Venom”), as well as Fox’s movies starring Marvel characters, such as the “X-Men” series, the “Fantastic Four” movies, the “Deadpool” movies, 2003’s “Daredevil” and several Marvel-related TV series.

In the 1990s, Lee left his position as Marvel Comics publisher, but for the rest of his life, he was still tied to Marvel as chairman emeritus and as a producer/executive producer on various Marvel-related projects. He and Peter Paul co-founded the company Stan Lee Media in 1998, but the company filed for bankruptcy in 2001, after a stock-manipulation scandal that did not involve Lee but involved Paul, who eventually pled guilty to the crime. Lee then went on to co-found POW! Entertainment in 2001. Disney acquired Marvel Entertainment in 2009.

The last two years of Lee’s life were filled with grief and turmoil. In 2017, his wife, Joan, died at the age of 95, after 39 years of marriage. He was also caught up lawsuits and counter-lawsuits surrounding control of POW! Entertainment and his estimated $70 million fortune. (Lee’s $1 billion lawsuit against POW! Entertainment was dropped in July 2018, two months after the lawsuit was filed.) And there were stories of abuse and Lee’s alleged mental-health issues, with Lee accused of being both an abuser and a victim. A former caregiver claimed that Lee sexually harassed her, while a separate accusation claimed that he was the target of elder abuse by caregivers.

Before his health problems, Lee was an active and regular fixture at comic conventions around the world. From 2012 to 2018, Lee’s POW! Entertainment partnered with Comikaze Expo to present the Los Angeles comic convention Stan Lee’s Comikaze, which in 2016 was renamed Stan Lee’s Los Angeles Comic Con. In October 2018, Comikaze announced the end of its partnership with Lee and POW! Entertainment, and the event has been renamed Beyond Fest Expo LA. Lee’s last major public appearance was at the Los Angeles premiere of “Avengers: Infinity War” on April 23, 2018. Lee is survived by his daughter Joan Celia “J. C.” Lee.

Madame Tussauds in Orlando and Sydney debut ‘Justice League: A Call for Heroes’ attraction

April 12, 2018

(Image courtesy of Madame Tussauds Orlando)
(Image courtesy of Madame Tussauds Orlando)

Justice will be served this summer at Madame Tussauds Orlando. The world-famous attraction revealed plans to unite an all-star cast of DC Super Heroes in an epic new experience. For the first time ever, fans of DC’s Justice League will come face-to-face with their favorite heroes in an action-packed adventure unlike any other.

From fear comes courage! Guests will get a chance to star alongside Justice League‘s Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, Henry Cavill as Superman and Ben Affleck as Batman, as they fight to save the world from Lex Luthor’s evil corporation, LexCorp.

Developed in collaboration with Warner Bros. Consumer Products on behalf of DC Entertainment, this first-of-its-kind attraction experience combines an all-star cast with blockbuster thrills, authentic replica props and costumes that bring each character to life like only Madame Tussauds can do.

“Fans have never come this close to the action,” said James Paulding, General Manager. “Madame Tussauds Orlando, together with Warner Bros. Consumer Products, have created a Justice League experience you have to see to believe – from the unbeatable roster of DC Super Heroes to the sensational, hi-tech experiences.”

Justice League: A Call for Heroes will also debut later this summer at Madame Tussauds Sydney, part of a greater transformation across Madame Tussauds attractions around the globe to deliver live fame experiences that make guests the star of their favorite stories.

(Image courtesy of Madame Tussauds Orlando)

Justice League: A Call for Heroes

HEROES UNITE! The battle begins when the Justice League lands at Madame Tussauds Orlando on May 25, 2018. Guests who answer the call will be transported to the streets of Gotham City and Metropolis, uniting with the Justice League Super Heroes in a series of thrilling missions to destroy LexCorp’s hold on the world.

Wonder Woman guests will help to destroy LexCorp’s formidable technology that has disabled the city. By harnessing their inner super power, guests will be able to emit a powerful blast from Wonder Woman’s gauntlets to weaken LexCorp’s control over the city.

Elsewhere in the city, Lex’s experiment wreaks havoc, sending a helicopter and its occupants hurtling toward the ground. Guests will have to summon all their strength and join Superman to help lift a REAL helicopter back into the sky as onlookers cheer from the streets below.

As the battle continues, one Super Hero will remain elusive. Guests must summon Batman with the Bat-Signal. Billowing smoke and wind reveal Batman as he’s called into battle on the rooftop, ready to save the world.

(Image courtesy of Madame Tussauds Orlando)

The Adventure Starts Now

Madame Tussauds Orlando is issuing a challenge to the bravest of Justice League fans – starting now! Mother Boxes, unique artifacts with immense powers, have surfaced in five cities across the globe. The Mother Boxes must be found and brought to Madame Tussauds Orlando in order to help destroy the energy-extracting forces that threaten Earth.

Brave challengers who find the Mother Boxes will be rewarded with a once-in-a-lifetime VIP experience including a five-day, four-night trip for the winner and one guest to Orlando, plus two tickets to be among the first to help save the planet in Justice League: A Call for Heroes. Winners will also receive two tickets to MegaCon Orlando® and SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium. To find the Mother Boxes, follow @tussaudsorlando and #FindTheMotherBoxes on Instagram.

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Each Participation Period begins with the first announcement in the corresponding Location and ends when the Mother Box is claimed or when Participation Period ends, whichever occurs first. Open only to legal U.S. residents residing in the 48 contiguous U.S./D.C., the UK, and Canada (excluding Quebec) who are 18 yrs. of age at the time of participation. See Terms & Conditions at https://bit.ly/2qaFq3Q for participation periods, locations, prize description/restrictions and complete details. Prize winners must be able to travel to Orlando, Florida on May 21-25, 2018.  Skill test required for residents of Canada. Void where prohibited. Sponsor:  Madame Tussauds Orlando, a division of Merlin Entertainments Group plc.

For tickets and more information, please visit www.madametussauds.com/orlando or follow @tussaudsorlando and #FindTheMotherBoxes on Instagram.

ABOUT JUSTICE LEAGUE
Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, Raymond Fisher, Jason Momoa and Ezra Miller star in the action adventure Justice League.

Fuelled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman’s selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists the help of his newfound ally, Diana Prince, to face an even greater enemy. Together, Batman and Wonder Woman work quickly to find and recruit a team of metahumans to stand against this newly awakened threat. But despite the formation of this unprecedented league of heroes—Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg and The Flash—it may already be too late to save the planet from an assault of catastrophic proportions.

Justice League was directed by Zack Snyder from a screenplay by Chris Terrio and Joss Whedon, story by Terrio & Snyder. Based on characters from DC Entertainment; Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. Charles Roven, Deborah Snyder, Jon Berg and Geoff Johns produced the film, with Jim Rowe, Wesley Coller, Curtis Kanemoto, Chris Terrio and Ben Affleck serving as executive producers.

ABOUT MADAME TUSSAUDS ORLANDO
Madame Tussauds Orlando is an interactive wax experience where guests are guided through immersive themed rooms where they can shake hands with the President, get on stage with pop princesses, or get up close and personal with a Hollywood heartthrob and take the ultimate selfie! For more information, visit www.madametussauds.com/orlando.

ABOUT WARNER BROS. CONSUMER PRODUCTS
Warner Bros. Consumer Products (WBCP), a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company, extends the Studio’s powerful portfolio of entertainment brands and franchises into the lives of fans around the world.  WBCP partners with best-in-class licensees globally on an award-winning range of toys, fashion, home décor, and publishing inspired by franchises and properties such as DC, J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World, Looney Tunes and Hanna-Barbera. The division’s successful global themed entertainment business includes groundbreaking experiences such as The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi (opening 2018). With innovative global licensing and merchandising programs, retail initiatives, promotional partnerships and themed experiences, WBCP is one of the leading licensing and retail merchandising organizations in the world.

ABOUT DC ENTERTAINMENT
DC Entertainment, home to iconic brands DC (Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, The Flash, etc.), Vertigo (Sandman, Fables, etc.) and MAD, is the creative division charged with strategically integrating across Warner Bros. and Time Warner. DC Entertainment works in concert with many key Warner Bros. divisions to unleash its stories and characters across all media, including but not limited to film, television, consumer products, home entertainment, and interactive games. Publishing thousands of comic books, graphic novels and magazines each year, DC Entertainment is one of the largest English-language publishers of comics in the world.

JUSTICE LEAGUE and all related characters and elements © & ™ DC Comics and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. (s18)

‘Black Panther’: Top 5 reasons why this superhero movie is a game changer for the entertainment industry

February 14, 2018

by Carla Hay

Chadwick Boseman in “Black Panther” (Photo courtesy of Disney/Marvel Studios)

The Marvel Studios film “Black Panther” is set to have the largest-ever opening weekend for a Marvel superhero movie so far, and probably the biggest opening weekend of all time for a February release . According to Fandango and several media outlets, “Black Panther” (which opens on February 16, 2018) is projected to have an opening weekend of at least $150 million at the U.S. box office alone.* (“Avengers: Infinity War,” which is scheduled for release on May 4, 2018, could break that record.)**

“Black Panther” is Marvel’s first superhero movie with a black character as the headliner. (Let’s not forget that 1997’s “Spawn” starring Michael Jai White and 1998’s “Blade” starring Wesley Snipes were groundbreaking when it comes to black superheroes headlining their own movies.)

In “Black Panther,” Chadwick Boseman stars as the title character, an African prince named T’Challa, who leads a technologically advanced nation named Wakanda. The cast also includes several highly respected black actors, including Angela Bassett, Michael B. Jordan, Danai Gurira, Daniel Kaluuya, Sterling K. Brown, Letitia Wright and Oscar winners Forest Whitaker and Lupita Nyong’o. White actors in the cast include Andy Serkis and Martin Freeman.

Here are five ways “Black Panther” is a game changer in the entertainment industry:

Lupita Nyong’o, Chadwick Boseman and Danai Gurira in “Black Panther” (Photo courtesy of Disney/Marvel Studios)

1. “Black Panther” proves that a movie with black people in the majority of the prominent roles can be a major blockbuster without being a comedy.

Before “Black Panther,” the conventional wisdom in Hollywood was that any movie with mostly blacks in starring roles had to be a comedy if it had a shot of making more than $100 million at the box office. (For example, 2017’s “Girls Trip.”) Although black or multiracial actors such as Kevin Hart, Dwayne Johnson and Zoe Saldana have made great strides in having starring roles in big hit movies, these movies usually have casts of multiple races in the most of the prominent roles. “Black Panther” shatters the stereotype that hit movies with mostly black stars have to be low-budget and/or a comedy.

Michael B. Jordan, Daniel Kaluuya and Chadwick Boseman in "Black Panther" (Photo courtesy of Disney/Marvel Studios)
Michael B. Jordan, Daniel Kaluuya and Chadwick Boseman in “Black Panther” (Photo courtesy of Disney/Marvel Studios)

2. “Black Panther” proves that a movie with a mostly black cast can get outstanding positive reviews—and it’s not a heavy drama about racism or the oppression of poor black people.

Let’s face it. A lot of movies with mostly black casts are saddled with the negative stereotype of having substandard filmmaking or appealing to a limited audience. It’s why movies that star Tyler Perry, Gabrielle Union, Sanaa Lathan or anyone from the Wayans family tend to get reviews that are mixed but usually negative. “Black Panther” has been getting rave reviews from those who have seen it before the movie’s theatrical release. The Internet has made it much easier for people to share information and commentary about movies, so the advance positive buzz has only helped drive ticket sales.

On the flip side, critically acclaimed dramas with mostly black actors tend to be statement-heavy period films about racial or social oppression, such as “Twelve Years a Slave,” “Selma,” “Fences” and “Hidden Figures.” “Black Panther” is an entertaining thrill ride, first and foremost, and is not meant to be a history lesson on the black experience. Far from being poor and/or oppressed (which is often the case with most black protagonists in black-centric movie dramas) , the black protagonists  in “Black Panther” are respected leaders, innovators and royalty.

Members of the “Black Panther” team at 2017 Comic-Con International in San Diego. Pictured from left to right:. Andy Serkis, Ryan Coogler, Forest Whitaker, Michael B. Jordan, Winston Duke, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Chadwick Boseman, Lupita Nyong’o and Danai Gurira. (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/Getty Iamges)

3. Black Panther” proves that blockbuster superhero movies can and should have talented people of color working behind the scenes in high-ranking positions.

“Black Panther” is directed by Ryan Coogler, the critically acclaimed African-American filmmaker who previously helmed the 2015 boxing movie “Creed” (a spinoff of the “Rocky movies”) and the 2013 indie drama “Fruitvale Station.” Coogler co-wrote the “Black Panther” screenplay with Joe Robert Cole, an African-American whose previous screen credits were the 2011 independent film “Amber Lake” and two episodes of the 2016 miniseries “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story.”

Other African-Americans who have prominent behind-the-scenes roles on “Black Panther” include executive producer Nate Moore, production designer Hannah Beachler and costume designer Ruth E. Carter. In addition, several of the hair and makeup artists for “Black Panther” are African-American.

And just like “Wonder Woman” (directed by Patty Jenkins) proved in 2017, the biggest superhero movie of the year does not have to be directed by a white male. The type of inclusion shown for the “Black Panther” crew is a step in the right direction for blockbuster movies to have more diverse, qualified team members who work behind the camera. “Black Panther” is the type of movie that appeals to a diverse audience, and the people who make these kinds of movies should also be a reflection of that diversity.

Chadwick Boseman in “Black Panther” (Photo courtesy of Disney/Marvel Studios)

4. “Black Panther” proves that a major blockbuster movie with a mostly black cast is not a “fluke” or a “fad.”

This is not a one-hit wonder. This not a passing trend. You don’t have to be a genius to know that “Black Panther” will spawn many sequels, prequels and/or spinoffs for years to come—not to mention all the money from merchandising, home video sales and other business revenue. “Black Panther” could also pave the way for more non-Caucasian superheroes to get their own headlining films.

Letitia Wright, Lupita Nyong’o , Angela Bassett and Martin Freeman in “Black Panther” (Photo courtesy of Disney/Marvel Studios)

5. “Black Panther” proves that a superhero movie with black actors in the most prominent roles can have massive international appeal.

Movies with a mostly black cast are often mischaracterized as appealing mainly to African-American audiences and hard to sell to countries outside of North America. The unquestionable global success of “Black Panther” blows away that stereotype. Movie audiences have spoken in their choices of what tickets to buy, and the message is loud and clear: They are hungry for more variety—and if it’s high-quality, that’s even better.

*February 20, 2018 UPDATE: According to Box Office Mojo, “Black Panther” had $202 million in ticket sales at the U.S. box office from February 16 to February 18, 2018, and $242 million at the U.S. box office from February 16 to 19, 2018 (counting the Presidents Day holiday). This breaks the opening-weekend box-office records for movies that opened in February; superhero movies headlined by a solo character; movies that opened on a holiday weekend; movies that opened on a four-day weekend; and non-sequel movies.

**March 1, 2018 UPDATE: Marvel has changed the release date for “Avengers: Infinity War” from May 4 to April 27, 2018.

Marvel announces ‘Marvel Rising’ animation franchise and voice actors

December 7, 2017

The following is a press release from Marvel Entertainment:

Marvel Entertainment has announced “Marvel Rising,” a brand-new, multi-platform animation franchise starring the next generation of Marvel heroes set to launch in 2018. The program will launch with six, four-minute digital shorts that spotlight Spider-Gwen with her new secret moniker, Ghost-Spider, and introduce audiences to the world of “Marvel Rising.” Following the shorts, a feature-length animated film, “Marvel Rising: Secret Warriors” will premiere later that year. Distribution partners for the content to be announced at a later date.

Meet the characters and all-star voice actors behind the all-new franchise “Marvel Rising” here: https://youtu.be/6HTPCTtkWoA

The content features an all-star line-up of voice talent including Dove Cameron, Chloe Bennet, Tyler Posey, BooBoo Stewart, Kathreen Khavari, Milana Vayntrub, Cierra Ramirez, Kamil McFadden, Skai Jackson, Kim Raver, Ming-Na Wen, Steven Weber, and Dee Bradley Baker among others. Future stories and content are also being developed across Marvel’s digital and publishing platforms and will be announced at a later date.

“Marvel Rising: Secret Warriors” is a long-anticipated event, bringing together Marvel’s newest and beloved characters that have garnered major fan excitement over the last few years. Powered teens Ms. Marvel, Squirrel Girl, Quake, Patriot, America Chavez, and Inferno join forces as an unlikely, but formidable crew of aspiring heroes. When a threat no one could have expected bears down on the Marvel Universe, this ragtag, untrained band of teens have no choice but to rise together and prove to the world that sometimes the difference between a “hero” and “misfit” is just in the name.

“Marvel characters are so relatable because they live in our world and face the same challenges we do. So I’m very excited that our Marvel Rising team of heroes is so inclusive, reflecting characters with different backgrounds, particularly a set of strong female leads that our young audience can connect with,” said Cort Lane, Marvel’s Senior Vice President of Animation & Family Entertainment.

Sana Amanat, Marvel’s Director of Content & Character Development, added, “This project is unlike anything we’ve done before—from featuring the rising and fan-favorite stars of the Marvel Universe, to a visually distinct animation style, this is a groundbreaking animated event. It’s an action-packed adventure, full of comedy, heart and powerful messages for every kind of Marvel fan.”

Meet the characters behind “Marvel Rising”:

Gwen Stacy aka Ghost-Spider (formerly Spider Gwen) voiced by Dove Cameron (“Descendants,” “Hairspray Live”) – a free spirited teen who found her calling to be a super hero after being bitten by a radioactive spider and gaining spider-like powers. As Ghost-Spider, she aids those in need, but has to keep her alter-ego a secret from her father, Captain George Stacy, who sees Ghost-Spider as more of a menace than a hero.

Daisy Johnson aka Quake voiced by Chloe Bennet (“Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” “Nashville”) – a leading agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. whose tendency for rule-breaking gets her into trouble now and then. Daisy befriends the young group of heroes and through them discovers how to become a better leader. She can generate powerful vibrational waves, which produce effects similar to earthquakes.

Dante Pertuz aka Inferno voiced by Tyler Posey (“Teen .Wolf,” “Lincoln Heights”) – a brooding, dark loner on the run. Dante has the power of pyrokinesis, which makes him capable of generating flames – however, he is not fully in control of his fiery abilities. It’s a thin line between good guy and villain for the unpredictable Inferno.

Victor Kohl aka Exile voiced by BooBoo Stewart (“Descendants,” “The Twilight Saga”) – a charming, handsome, and troublesome young Inhuman whose quest for superiority places him into the wrong crowd. He can use Darkforce energy to create weapons and portals that allow him to teleport.

Kamala Khan aka Ms. Marvel voiced by Kathreen Khavari (“Marvel’s Avengers Assemble,” “Big Little Lies”)  – a devoted fan of Super Heroes, especially of her mentor Captain Marvel; she is determined that she too can be a great hero! If only she’d be taken seriously. Kamala is equipped with metamorphic powers that allow her to stretch, enlarge, or shrink her overall size, parts of her body, or alter her physical appearance. She is especially fond of “embiggening” her fists.

Doreen Green aka Squirrel Girl voiced by Milana Vayntrub (“Marvel’s New Warriors,” “This Is Us”) – the uber-positive, hilarious best friend and teammate of Ms. Marvel. With advanced computer skills, enhanced strength, agility, durability, and senses of a squirrel, Doreen (along with her squirrel partner, Tippy Toe!), is primed and ready to become a successful hero.

America Chavez voiced by Cierra Ramirez (“The Fosters,” “The Secret Life of an America Teenager”) – a strong, independent young hero whose painful past drives her to reject leadership and remain a loner. America’s powers include superhuman strength, speed, and durability, plus the ability to fly.

Rayshaun Lucas aka Patriot voiced by Kamil McFadden (“K.C. Undercover,” “Grown Ups 2”) – a natural born leader who is quick to leap into action to impress his colleagues at S.H.I.E.L.D. Rayshaun strives to live up to Captain America’s legacy with integrity, honesty, and order above all. His skills include heightened strength, speed, stamina, and durability.

Gloria “Glory” Grant voiced by Skai JacksFron (“Bunk’d,” “Jessie”) – Gloria, or ‘Glory,’ is Gwen Stacy’s friend and member of their garage band “The Emm-Jays.” Gloria is a smart, hard-working girl that genuinely cares for Gwen, but has felt a distance growing between them ever since their friend, Kevin, was murdered. When being casual, Gloria’s known to be funny, sarcastic and sassy.

Carol Danvers aka Captain Marvel voiced by Kim Raver (“Grey’s Anatomy,” “24”) – a bold leader who doesn’t sugar-coat and is guided by a strong sense of duty and honor. She’s the ultimate inspiration for our band of misfit heroes. She is equipped with superhuman strength, can fly at high speeds, and can project intense energy blasts.

Hala voiced by Ming-Na Wen (“Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” “Mulan”) – Hala is a Kree Accuser bent on galactic domination. She’ll go to any length or treacherous means to achieve what she, and the entire Kree race, wants: Power. Hala is cold, cryptic and nefarious, often challenging those who try to oppose her.

Captain George Stacy voiced by Steven Weber (“13 Reasons Why,” “NCIS: New Orleans”) – Chief of the NYPD and Gwen Stacy’s loving, but fiercely protective father. Captain Stacy is a very disciplined, hard-working man that will stop at nothing to obtain justice – who unfortunately sees Ghost-Spider as a menace and a threat to society.

Lockjaw and Tippy Toe are voiced by Dee Bradley Baker (“Star Wars Rebels,” “Gravity Falls”). Two lovable and heroic sidekicks: Lockjaw is Kamala’s trusty, teleporting mutt and Tippy Toe is Doreen’s partner in crime and best squirrel friend.

“Marvel Rising: Secret Warriors” is executive produced by Joe Quesada, Dan Buckley, Cort Lane, and Eric Radomski; co-executive produced by Stan Lee, Sana Amanat, and Marsha Griffin. The film and shorts were written by Mairghread Scott. Alfred Gimeno served as supervising director.

For more information, check out “Marvel Rising” at www.Facebook.com/MarvelRising,  www.Twitter.com/MarvelRisingSW, and www.Instagram.com/MarvelRising

Subscribe to Marvel HQ on YouTube for full episodes and more: www.youtube.com/MarvelHQ

About Marvel Entertainment

Marvel, a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, is one of the world’s most prominent character-based entertainment companies, built on a proven library of more than 8,000 characters featured in a variety of media over seventy-five years.  Marvel utilizes its character franchises in entertainment, licensing and publishing.

For more information visit marvel.com.