Geek: Holy S#@t Bob California is Ultron

Looks like James Spader will once again be a bad influence on Robert Downey Jr. He has been announced as the actor who will portray Ultron in the next Avengers movie, according to a press release straight from Marvel:

James Spader will face off against Earth’s Mightiest Heroes as the villain in Marvel’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” the sequel to 2012’s record-breaking “Marvel’s The Avengers.” The Emmy Award-winning actor will play Ultron in the Avengers’ much anticipated return to the big screen from writer/director Joss Whedon. The film comes to theaters on May 1, 2015. 

Spader earned three Emmy Awards for his role as Alan Shore on “Boston Legal” and “The Practice,” and will return to television this fall in NBC’s highly anticipated series “The Blacklist.” Most recently Spader was seen in the critically-acclaimed film “Lincoln” directed by Steven Spielberg and has previously worked with a long list of accomplished film directors including David Cronenberg, Curtis Hansen, Sidney Lumet, Mike Nichols, Tim Robbins, Robert Rodriguez, Steven Soderbergh, and Oliver Stone.  David Mamet also directed Spader in the Broadway play Race.

This is exciting news for fans of Spader (I am one) who has cultivated a persona of devilish intellect throughout his career. He and RDJ have long run in some parallel tracks as Brat-packers, then ’90s David E. Kelley reclamation projects and now entering their 50s at the height of their popularity. Spader is set to star in one of this fall’s most anticipated (by me) shows about a criminal mastermind who turns himself in to take down a list of his named criminal associates. The show is called “Blacklist” and sounds intriguing.

I think he is a brave and thoughtful choice for Ultron and will bring a new level of malevolence to the character.

Geek: RDJ is Iron Man

Geek: RDJ is Iron Man

From Marvel.com:

Robert Downey Jr. To Return As Marvel’s Iron Man RDJ inks new Marvel deal

“I am Iron Man.”

Tony Stark’s famous closing line to the very first Iron Man film takes on new life today as Marvel is pleased to announce the signing of Robert Downey, Jr. to reprise the role of the “billionaire, genius, playboy, philanthropist.”

Under the two-picture agreement, Downey will star as Tony Stark/Iron Man in “Marvel’s The Avengers 2” and “Marvel’s The Avengers 3.” Downey is  represented at CAA by Bryan Lourd, Jim Toth and Matt Leaf and by his attorneys Tom Hansen and Stewart Brookman of the firm Hansen Jacobson.
Downey, Jr.’s last two Marvel films, 2012’s “Marvel’s The Avengers” and this year’s “Iron Man 3,” rank as two of the top five grossing films of all time, collectively earning over $2.7 billion worldwide to date.

“Marvel’s The Avengers 2” is being written and directed by Joss Whedon. Featuring favorites from the first Avengers film and new Marvel characters never before seen on the big screen, “Marvel’s The Avengers 2” is slated to begin production in March 2014 and open in theaters May 1, 2015.

Thrilled by this mega announcement, Marvelites? Well, be sure you stay glued to Marvel.com because in the coming days and weeks and months, Marvel.com will be FIRST in the world to reveal additional casting updates, new characters coming to Marvel movies and so much more — directly from the most secret meetings at Marvel! You wouldn’t want to miss out on that now, would you?!

Geek: Spoilers — My Review of Iron Man 3

Shane Black and RDJ kick off Phase 2 of the MCU with a rousing story that is less a continuation of the MCU canon, and more a stand-alone film about Tony Stark’s issues. However, the through-line is that Tony has reaped what he has sewn.

Iron Man 1 was Tony fighting against the military-industrial complex that he had created.

Iron Man 2 was dealing with the sins of the father, but also fighting the bastardization of his design and technology.

Iron Man 3 has him dealing with the ramifications of not only his exploits (saving New York), but also dealing with a menace ignored.

Tony Stark is a very cerebral character, who could have been maudlin in presentation like a Bruce Wayne. All credit to the success of this character has to go to Robert Downey Jr. for his ability to take what could be bleak character and turn him into the ebullient, sharp-witted rich kid we all love.

Shane Black just takes RDJ’s sardonic nature and turns him into a proto-hero we can root for. We want him to outsmart his opponent. We want him to have cooler gadgets then everyone else. We want him to quip better than anyone else and Black help RDJ do that here. Black also is ingenious in his weaving of his storytelling, the Extremis storyline, and the continuing MCU. I will tell you that Ben Kingsley is brilliant in the movie as the Mandarin, which is to be expected. What’s unexpected is how Black weaves him into the fabric of the story. Let’s just say that the dude loves footie.Image

Let’s not also forget that Shane Black is a 1st time Blockbuster director, which is not odd for Marvel, but is novel for our summer. We typically don’t get such inexperienced directors in this position: starting the next phase of blockbusters for a blockbuster machine like Marvel. I think it would have been equivalent to letting a 1st time director handle a Harry Potter moving midstream.

Black not only writes his butt off in this movie, but also creates some fun twists and directs maybe one of the best action sequences ever in a film (and note that it has a particularly Shane Black payoff in the end).

My only wish would have been a bit more of the continuity that we saw in the previous MCU movies. We needed a bit more discussion of what Tony had been up to since New York. Was Tony saving lives around the globe even for a minute after New York? Had Iron Patriot been a success for peace (it does not appear so)?

The only indication of continuity from Avengers was a few references to the events and the participants. We did not have another Avenger swoop in to assist Tony. I think that was made clear in the ending of Avengers that we would not really see them all together for a while. However, I did have to question why S.H.I.E.L.D. was not nosing around a bit more. I also would have liked it if Tony was a little bit more affected by the loss of Agent Coulson.

Overall, this a good movie to open the summer action slate. However, I will note that I had a great longing for more MCU before the movie with Thor 2’s trailer and after the movie with the Marvel stinger. It just might leave a bit green with envy!

Go see this movie!