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Apocalypse now: what happens when the X-Men crash the Marvel Cinematic Universe?



Disneys $66bn deal to buy Fox offers the prospect of Wolverine and Deadpool meeting Spider-Man and the Avengers. But be careful what you wish for

When it comes to flawed big screen superheroes, Marvel has always been top dog. Theres Iron Man, the billionaire, genius and philanthropist who nevertheless struggles in his private life (and once almost accidentally caused the destruction of humankind with his techie meddling). Theres Spider-Man, the young hero who seems to find defeating bad guys a whole lot easier than negotiating the complexities of teenage life in the Big Apple. And theres Thor, whose original concept of heroism clashed so badly with that of his dad Odin that he was cast out of Asgard for being a pompous gasbag.

Mistakes, for Earths mightiest heroes, seem to come with the territory. And yet ever since Robert Downey Jrs Tony Stark first climbed into his shiny red suit almost a decade ago now, the studio behind the Avengers has refused to make any major blunders of its own. Apart from the odd early gaffe (The Incredible Hulk) and mid-period folly (Thor: The Dark World, Ant-Man) Marvel has pursued the task of creating a credible universe for its superheroes with a remarkable knack for mostly getting it right. Even the dimmer instalments failed to knock the wider galaxy of shiny superstars off course, largely because Marvel always seems to have something bigger and brighter waiting to be released. Thor 2 was followed into multiplexes by the double whammy of Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy, while Ant-Man segued smoothly into the hard-hitting superhero smack down of Captain America: Civil War and the mesmerising comic-book head movie known as Doctor Strange.

Like a football manager who effortlessly integrates his latest 100m signing into an established team of champions, Marvel supremo Kevin Feige has gently introduced new heroes such as Strange and Tom Hollands Spider-Man to the ranks of the Avengers without risking the overall balance of the team. The key has been meticulous planning and a refusal to rush movies into production, two basic rules of engagement that rival DC has singularly failed to follow (and reaped the consequences).

James McAvoy and Patrick Stewart in X-Men: Days of Future Past. Photograph: Allstar/20th Century Fox

But theres an argument that Feige et al face their greatest challenge yet following Disneys $66bn purchase of 20th Century Fox last month, which brought the X-Men under the same big-screen banner as the Avengers (just as they are in the comics) for the first time in the modern era, and presumably means there is nothing to stop Disney-owned Marvel from incorporating Foxs legions of mutant superheroes into the wider MCU.

The clamour for Wolverine, Deadpool and co to appear in Marvel films has already begun. But Feige would be wise to continue the softly softly approach that has served him so well. Because the X-verse, such as it is, has the potential to ruin all the hard work Marvel has put into the MCU up until now if it is not integrated properly.

Whereas Marvel has been set up from the beginning as a unified space for its heroes to have adventures in, Fox has approached its rights to the X-Men in a far more muddled way. While the main X-Men series all sit together on the same timeline, movies such as Logan and Deadpool are far less conclusively part of the same universe, to the extent that different actors (Tmas Lemarquis and Stephen Merchant) played mutant Caliban in X-Men: Apocalypse and Logan, even though the two films were released just nine months apart.

Fox currently has X-Men movies Deadpool 2, The New Mutants, Dark Phoenix, Gambit, X-Force and the James Franco-starrer Multiple Man on its slate. Of these, only Deadpool 2 and X-Force are likely to boast the kind of joined up thinking that is a cast iron requirement for inclusion in the MCU. The New Mutants does not even fit the same genre as its stablemates. Josh Boones tale of four young people with nascent powers who have been trapped in a mysterious facility by unknown forces is largely being pitched as a horror movie, so the integration of its core characters into the reasonably cheery MCU appears unlikely.

Ryan Reynolds in Deadpool. Photograph: Moviestore/Rex/Shutterstock

There are Fox superheroes who could be seamlessly integrated, of course. Deadpool has often had an amusing man-crush on Spider-Man in the comics, and Marvel has even begun to borrow the zany, meta-fuelled style of Tim Millers 2016 movie for its own entries. (Thor: Ragnarok is a case in point) Wolverine, with Hugh Jackman having finally hung up his adamantium claws, looks ripe for a Spidey-style reboot within the Marvel fold, and an MCU-led reinvention of the core X-Men (Professor X, Magneto, Jean Grey, Storm etc) would certainly be something to see. Yet what would happen to the actors playing these characters, currently stuck in the 1990s? James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender have occasionally done sterling work as Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr respectively, but would presumably have to be aged up were they to suddenly turn up in the modern day MCU. Perhaps Doctor Strange could somehow pop back in time and rescue them from their current purgatory, some time after next years Dark Phoenix?

But what would happen to the superheroes who dont fit snugly into the MCU? Would they continue to plough their own furrows? Would Disney-Fox simply draw a line under their big-screen adventures and reboot? This might be a pity, particularly in the case of offbeat curios such as Multiple Man and James Mangolds mooted Logan spin-off about Dafne Keens X-23. Neither seems likely to survive a Disney-led cull, should it prove to be in the offing.

Marvel has its own problems to override as it approaches a second decade of the MCU. With Captain Marvel and Black Panther both potentially totemic figures due to get their own standalone movies in 2018 and 2019, it could be 2020 before the studio has the chance to begin integrating the X-Men into its wider world of superheroes. Feige has hinted he is not even certain that the universe will continue to exist in its current form, which suggests that the events of this years Avengers: Infinity War and its 2019 sequel could be so monumental as to throw doubt on everything Marvel has so far given us.

Does the studio really need the added complication of being forced to add the X-Men into the mix? On the other hand, might integrating Marvel Comics mutants prove to be the fresh injection of energy that the MCU needs to keep it thriving well into the 2020s?

One things for sure, Feige and his team cant afford to start making major blunders this late in the game. The future of the world might not be at stake, as it usually is when Tony Stark and his pals drop the baton, but the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe certainly could be.

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Super Heroes

Ava DuVernay to direct DC’s ‘New Gods’



This is going to be EPIC.

Image: Cara Robbins/Contour

Ava DuVernay is confirmed to direct DC’s new superhero movie New Gods and fans of the comic are losing their damn minds.

Reported by Variety, A Wrinkle in Time director DuVernay has signed on to steer the ship for the new DC Extended Universe epic, based on the Jack Kirby-created comic.

It’ll be the second DC superhero film to be directed by a woman, following the Patty Jenkins-helmed box office smash Wonder Woman. 

While DuVernay’s current Disney film, A Wrinkle in Time, underperformed at the U.S. box office, she’s smashed it elsewhere. Selma made her the first black female director to be nominated for a Golden Globe, she was nominated for an Oscar for her documentary 13th, and she took home the directing award at Sundance for her second feature film Middle of Nowhere. Boom.

Cover of The New Gods #1, 1971

Image: The Grand Comics Database/wikimedia commons

New Gods was created in 1971 by Kirby. It centers on two planets: New Genesis, an arcadian planet ruled by Highfather, and Apokolips, an apocalyptic dystopia ruled by the formidable Darkseid. 

DuVernay paired the news with a sweet Twitter tribute to Kirby, who passed away in 1994.

Fans lost their minds over the announcement.

Super Heroes

‘Black Panther’ becomes #2 superhero movie of all time… and it’s not stopping

Charmaine Blake



Marvel Studios’ BLACK PANTHER L to R: Ayo (Florence Kasumba) and Okoye (Danai Gurira) Ph: Film Frame Marvel Studios 2018

Black Panther has officially hit $1 billion worldwide after just four weeks in theaters.

According to a release from Disney, Black Panther is the third-biggest superhero movie domestically, behind The Dark Knight ($534.9 million, and Panther is already at $530.9 as of March 10) and The Avengers ($623.4 million).

With those numbers, Black Panther will easily outstrip The Dark Knight, most likely by the end of Saturday, and it’s pacing ahead of The Avengers Panther has roughly the same domestic gross going into its fourth weekend that Avengers did after its fourth weekend. Panther also has the advantage of opening in February (Avengers and The Dark Knight were spring/summer releases) and enjoying months in theaters with little major competition.

Beyond that, here are a few more badges that Panther wears:

  • #1 February debut ($202M 3-day, $242.1M 4-day), and February release of all time

  • #5 all-time 3-day debut ($202M)

  • #1 Monday of all time ($40.1M)

  • #2 Sunday of all time ($60M)

  • #2 second weekend ($111.6M, one of only 4 films to surpass $100M mark in second weekend)

  • #1 non-holiday third weekend ($66.3M)

Black Panther is now in theaters. Based on these numbers, you probably knew that already.

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Super Heroes

‘Wonder Woman 2’ casts its Cheetah



Image: jason laveris/FilmMagic

It looks like Wonder Woman 2 is assembling its own cast of wonder women. Returning director Patty Jenkins announced Friday via Twitter that indie film actress and Saturday Night Live alum Kristen Wiig will join the sequel.

The final word of that tweet (before Jenkins tags Wonder Woman herself, Gal Gadot), is crucial. Cheetah is a classic Wonder Woman villain, created by Doctor Psycho. She has multiple aliases which all sound like SNL characters: Priscilla Rich, Deborah Domaine, Barbara Ann Minerva, and Sebastian Ballesteros (but that one’s a man).

Though known for her comedy, Wiig has been known to skew toward dark humor or muted drama in her film roles. as with Girl Most Likely, The Skeleton Twins (with fellow SNL alum Bill Hader), or Hateship, Loveship. An actress that versatile could make Cheetah extremely compelling – or at any rate, better than Ares.

Wonder Woman 2 is due in November 2019.

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