Ant-Man Review

Ant-Man is a really fun film.  As its name suggests, it seems smaller than the other mammoths of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) such as Age of Ultron and Guardians of the Galaxy.  However, that’s a very good thing.

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**This article has minor spoilers**

There are many hilarious moments, whether it’s Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) or his con buddies with the comic relief.  At this point, it feels like all the good MCU movies are huge laughs with the exception of Winter Soldier.

Corey Stoll plays the mad scientist gone bad in Darren Cross/Yellow Jacket.  At first I couldn’t remember where I had seen Stoll before and then it hit me that he was Peter Russo in House of Cards.  That being said, Stoll plays a wicked failed prodigy, eager for revenge.

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What I really liked about Ant-Man were the heist runs.  They expect you to understand all the science behind their antics and to be honest, the explanations aren’t too complicated.  Being a new player in the MCU, Ant-Man had to include an origin story.  Lang is supposed to be the heroic vigilante but his line of work is what screwed up his family life and landed him in prison to begin with.  Therefore, Lang is on the road to redemption by essentially doing the same line of work.  However, the end result is a final showdown with Cross/Yellowjacket as Lang’s kid daughter watches on.  The emotional stakes are high and the possible fate of the world lies in a battle involving toy trains.

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The premise of the Ant-Man suit and the ability to communicate with ants seem outright silly but I followed through anyway.  The concept to go small and yet deliver a big punch is there.  SHIELD, Hydra and even the Avengers are mentioned a few times to remind everyone of the bigger MCU.  Definitely stay for both post credit scenes as they inspire to speculate on Phase 3 of the MCU.

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5 Hard Truths About the Marvel Cinematic Universe

As we get more movies from the popular Marvel Studios, we find that there are some things that are evolving faster than we can process them. Some things are beautiful, some things are not so great, and both casual fans and comic book nerds will have to learn to accept these things. The Marvel train is going full speed and there’s no stopping it now. Here are five hard truths about the MCU, whether you like it or not.

Everything begins and ends with Iron Man (Tony Stark).

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When Marvel announced an Iron Man movie was coming out, People weren’t sure what to expect, as Iron Man wasn’t the poster boy (it was a tie between Wolverine and Spider-Man). Thanks to Robert Downey Jr.’s performance and influence, the world of Marvel was born and now Iron Man is at the crux of everything. Building Ultron instead of Hank Pym, becoming the first public hero, and leading the Avengers, Iron Man will have a part in every major plotline in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

There will be humor.

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DC movies (and shows) have been on a streak of seriousness, aside from CW’s The Flash. On the other hand, Marvel seems to work humor alongside the action and drama. Avengers Age of Ultron may have as many humorous moments as it did incredible action sequences, and even Guardians of The Galaxy incorporated humor into its very conclusion.

Everyone is hanging out together.

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Both Steve Rogers and Tony Stark have sidekicks, but Tony Stark is also known to hang out with Bruce Banner. Nick Fury is in everything and knows everybody. Much like in the comics, these characters appear in each other’s stories and with Captain America: Civil War’s casting list, the cameos are endless.

No movie will ever match the comic that inspired it.

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This is both a good thing and bad thing. While Captain America: The Winter Soldier mirrored the comic that inspired it, the movie took some liberties to make sure it fit the time frame of the movie universe. There’s also the case where not so great comics inspire the movies, and the differentiation between the two is a good thing (see 2013 AGE OF ULTRON event).

At least 10% of the movie is setup for the future.

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The initial fun of the Marvel movies was the endings. After the credits rolled, audiences were treated to a small scene that would give a slight nod to the future of the movies. No moment was greater than seeing Nick Fury in Tony Stark’s house to talk about the Avengers initiative. However, as Thor’s cave scene in Age of Ultron was any indicator, these movies also have to make sure everything ties in together. The problem I have is that some scenes, like Thor’s little side-story, seem to detract from the main plotline that was being built over the course of the Phase 2 Marvel movies. In my opinion, these moments may seem more fitting in one movie, at the end of the credits, or to be completely removed altogether. The end scenes used to be fun and surprising, but now they feel expected and the fun seems to be gone.

Going into Ant-Man in July, we’ll see how he fits into this strange new world where everybody knows everybody.

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Things I’ll Miss About Marvel’s Ultimate Universe

Secret Wars hits the shelves this month, and this week marks the release of Ultimate End, the final issues left of Marvel’s Ultimate Universe. For those who don’t know, the Ultimate Universe is an alternate reality that updated many of the Marvel mainstays for modern readers. Back in 2000, Ultimate Spider-Man and Ultimate X-Men launched the characters in a new way. As the universe formed, so did the titles, as Ultimate Fantastic Four and The Ultimates (aka Avengers) came to the forefront. With this year being the 15th and last year of the universe, I’d like to note some things I’ll miss about the beloved alternate reality.

Costume Design

Ultimatum05FinchWraparoundCoverWhile some characters maintain similarities to their main universe counterparts, the Ultimate Universe allowed for some much-needed redesigns. The main avengers cast had great updates, with Thor being one that truly separated him from his legacy. The Ultimate Nick Fury is what brought about casting Samuel L. Jackson in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as his likeness was used for the design. The designs used for the Amazing Spider-Man movie were closer to the Ultimate designs, and that was a great thing, especially for Electro. Hawkeye, Captain America, Iron Man, and Moon Knight all had different designs that were used as influences for the main universe’s updated designs. Even the X-Men sported more manageable and realistic outfits that fit just right.

Keeping Things Close

Spider-Man. Fantastic Four. X-Men. Ultimates. While there were plenty of mini-series featuring single heroes, these four books carried the whole Universe. It was much easier to jump into these titles to get a grand sense of the Marvel world. Ultimate Spider-Man alone introduced Hulk, Daredevil, many of the street level heroes, and his whole world on top of all that.

Bold Choices

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The Ultimate universe was a playground where characters can be reworked, within reason. A big change that came was the event titled Ultimatum, which saw Magneto trying to destroy the world when it was thought his children, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, had died. The whole world was affected, and our heroes fought to save a flooded New York. It may not have been the most well-received event, but the writers stood by it and continued on, with the event having lasting effects in every book. Plus, if it wasn’t for Ultimatum, we wouldn’t have J. Jonah Jameson give the best apology to Spider-Man ever.

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Mixing Things Up

The Ultimates hate each other. Wolverine gets ripped in half by a Hulk who eats people. Deadpool hosts his own “The Most Dangerous Game” by hunting X-Men on a deserted island. The Watcher pops up all over the world. Kitty Pryde dates Spider-Man? These are a few things that kept the universe fresh and unexpected. The fun of the Ultimate Universe is that it kept things moving and expanding, never stagnating.

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Ultimate Spider-Man

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If nothing else, the Ultimate Spider-Man series is by far the greatest contribution the Ultimate line gave to comics. Ultimate Spider-Man revitalized the hero as a high school student and kept him there. This Spider-Man faced the sinister six, the Ultimates, the X-Men, Venom, Carnage, an actual Green Goblin and everything under the sun, while still doing his due diligence with his Aunt May, in school, and with friends. He passed the mantle to Miles Morales, who made his own impact as a fantastic, if not better, Spider-Man. Both of these heroes made their mark like no one else, and the world they leave behind will be missed. It’s a touch personal for me because my first time reading Spider-Man from start to finish was the original Ultimate Spider-Man run, and for that, I’m forever grateful to have enjoyed it as it came.

I am happy that Mark Bagley and Brian Michael Bendis will be helming the Ultimate Universe’s final moments, as they are the team that created this world that I’ll forever cherish. Thank you for 15 great years.
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Cool Stuff: 8-Bit Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Captain America: The Winter Soldier was arguably the best movie of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase 2. It was plot heavy, it had espionage, it had incredible fight sequences, and it still had time to squeeze in the Marvel humor we love. So obviously when CineFix made an 8-Bit Captain America: The Winter Soldier, we had to share it with the Nerd Swole Patrol.

You gotta love the action sequences of the 8-Bit Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but also the story of The Winter Soldier just fits as an 8-bit game. I love that Nick Fury just runs away from his car crash sequence, and that the Falcon is essentially Tales from the Sonic series in this.

There is just a lot to like about this work done by CineFix, but also what I really want now is just a game to play that has Captain America, or honestly, The Avengers in 8-bit sidescrolling co-op awesomeness. So uh, if any game devs are reading this, hop to it!

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The 5 Best Comic Book Shower Thoughts

If you’re wondering what a shower thought is, it’s something that you think of in the shower or really anywhere and you end up having this face. REvelation It makes you think, makes you laugh a little bit, and sometimes pondering your very own existence. And of course reddit being the site that it is (the front page of the internet!) they had to have some comic book shower thoughts.

5. If the Flash was really good at chess, he would be Grandmaster Flash

by TheTwentyTwo character_bio_576_flash     This is just kind of a funny coincidence really.

4. When The Hulk gives up and reverts to Bruce Banner, he just rage quit.

by wildxlion bannerhulk Pretty straightforward, but still pretty funny. Consider a Hulk playing games and getting mad about campers and throwing his controller down through the ground and it coming out in China.

 

3. If Green Lantern smoked some Green, he’d have a lot more creative constructs.

by TheTwentyTwo character_bio_576_greenlantern I mean guns, walls, and jetpacks are cool, but imagine the super psychaledic and hilarious constructs he would make if he were high.

2. Spider-Man is just a boy going through changes shooting white stuff all over the city.

by cmonkey9876 spider-man That’s quite an interesting complex that Spider-Man is going through. Puberty is tough, man.

1. Batman and Daredevil should switch names.

by Skiddle1138 Batman_Daredevil Matt Murdock is blind and relies on his incredible sense of sound to orient his surroundings, something bats are known to be very apt at. Bruce Wayne is constantly grappling hooking around and jumping around off of buildings and just in general doing adrenaline junky type activities (base jumping, driving at incredibly fast speeds, etc) or done by someone you might call, a daredevil.

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Thoughts About Stuff: What if a Male Character was the Hero in Captain Marvel?

We’re not asking what if Captain Marvel was a guy, she is going to be Carol Danvers. When I say hero, I mean the person that saves the day at the very end with the city/country/world/universe in danger. So then what would happen if Carol Danvers was in a situation where she went toe to toe with her villain, and almost won, but ended up in a dangerous situation, and was saved by a supporting male character?

Would the internet explode in a huge rage? I’m pretty certain it would, but why? In the very first movie of the Marvel Cinematic Universe it’s Pepper Potts that kills Obadiah Stane, not Tony Stark. In Thor: The Dark World, it’s Jane who creates the weapon for Thor to use to kill Malekith, in Iron Man 3, it is again Pepper Potts who actually kills the villain Aldrich Killian, and Black Widow closed the wormhole in The Avengers and certainly had a lot more to do with killing Alexander Pierce than Cap himself did in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

So why would it upset people if Captain Marvel was saved by a male supporting character? It’s a question I’ve given a lot of thought, because recently there is an e-mail going around from one of the CEOs of Marvel listing unsuccessful female-lead movies.

If you haven’t seen it, this is what it says:

“From: “IP” 
To: “Lynton, Michael”
Subject: Female Movies
Date: Thu, 7 Aug 2014 05:32:50 -0400

Michael,
As we discussed on the phone, below are just a few examples.  There are more.

Thanks,

Ike

1.  Electra (Marvel) – Very bad idea and the end result was very, very bad. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=elektra.htm

2.  Catwoman (WB/DC) – Catwoman was one of the most important female character within the Batmanfranchise. This film
was a disaster.  http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=catwoman.htm


3.   Supergirl – (DC) Supergirl was one of the most important female super hero in Superman franchise. This Movie
came out in 1984 and did $14 million total domestic with opening weekend of $5.5 million. Again, another disaster.

Best,

Ike

I have not seen other e-mails in this conversation or the context, so if they are out there please correct me, but I don’t see anything in here about not doing female movies because those were movies were unsuccessful. This could just as easily be an e-mail about what to avoid doing when working on Captain Marvel. Like I said, I absolutely admit, I haven’t delved into deep research about the context, so if there is more to it proving that this e-mail is an argument against female lead movies, please let me know. But as of right now, it appears a lot of assumptions are being made.

The reason I’m discussing this in relation to the question posed in the title is that I’m just wondering if maybe, just maybe people are looking for a reason to be mad with Marvel sometimes. I understand getting behind Mark Ruffalo’s comment about the lack of Black Widow toys (a totally legit complaint), and Scarlett Johansson’s spoof on Marvel’s lack of a female lead movie, because Black Widow has proven she is incredibly popular among fans.

But why is it assumed that everything Marvel does now is in some way anti-feminist? This article about the e-mail above is one example, I’ve seen tweets where people are upset that Ant-Man has only one female character (even though it is slated to also have Haley Atwell and Judy Greer), and the anger over Black Widow being captured in Age of Ultron. And if Captain Marvel doesn’t deliver the finishing blow to the villain and is saved by a male character, I’m 99% there would be an internet rage shitstorm, even though Iron Man has never defeated any of his villains on his own, and twice where he was saved by Pepper.

All I’m saying is that there are reasons to be mad with Marvel like I mentioned earlier, the lack of apparel/toys for Black Widow is really disappointing and having no solo movie is also a letdown (it is worth noting Hawkeye doesn’t have one either though). But there are also things that people probably need to dial it back a bit on, the e-mail above is one example (again, if there is proof that this is an e-mail about not greenlighting female movies, let me know), and being mad at Ant-Man for only having Evangeline Lily on the poster seems pretty grumpy for the sake of being grumpy.

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Roundtable – Avengers: Age of Ultron

It’s the first weekend of May, which means one thing at the box office: Avengers: Age of Ultron. Quite possibly more anticipated than the first, Avengers: Age of Ultron is a high-flying sequel that tackles so much more as the Marvel Cinematic Universe continues to evolve. While not a standard review, we’ll be tackling major components of the films, character highlights, and thoughts on what happens moving forward. So enjoy and as always…

spoiler-alert

You've been warned.

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Initial reactions compared to expectations (Surprises, disappointments, theories confirmed, etc)?

Brian: The obvious one is that Loki’s scepter from The Avengers was confirmed to be an infinity gem, so that was pretty cool.

My expectations for the film were quite high, and I saw some of the reviews weren’t that great, but I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. I would argue this was the most comic booky movie ever, and I think that’s why some people may not have enjoyed it.

Yeksson: I was excited to see an infinity gem emerge from Loki’s scepter and was in awe when the Vision lifted Thor’s hammer.  Prior to the movie, I read reviews through Rotten Tomatoes and in doing so, I didn’t expect the sequel to trump the first one. In the end, I think this movie is just as good.  It feels like a never-ending series as much bigger players await. (See mid-credit scene)

Alex: Easily the most impressive thing about this movie is the amount of character development given to a cast. Without poking around into the events of the other movies (didn’t Tony call it quits or something?), each character is given huge arcs for a relatively short screen time and I’ve always been impressed by Joss Whedon’s ability to handle ensembles, whether it be in comics, TV, or film.

Erin: Very surprised and a little disappointed. My favorite thing about this movie is that its structure and plot movement is unlike any action/superhero movie, as it goes on this crazy roller coaster balance of emotional character development and fight scenes. The only reason I feel a little disappointed is that this story feels inevitably rushed, but with so much to accomplish in limited time, I can only commend Joss Whedon for his effort.

The age-old question: is Avengers: Age of Ultron better than the original?

Brian: Is it a better movie? Yes, I do believe it is. Ultimately people will point at things here and there, but the main difference is, I would argue this movie isn’t as fun as the first one. However, this movie tells a more compelling story and is a better balance of characters, even though the first movie did a fairly good job at that as well.

Yeksson: Like I said before, it’s just as good.  I enjoyed how the opening just dove right in with the Avengers fighting as a strong, cohesive unit.

Alex: I thoroughly enjoyed this movie more than the original. I felt the tone was shockingly (and pleasantly) dark, I liked that the Avengers went on missions instead of just reacting to problems, and I think the humor, action, and character-development all balanced well.

Erin: In different ways, yes. The original was and had to be a plain cheesecake: simple, fun, not too many ingredients. This movie had to be tiramisu: more delicate, layered, and more developed. The Avengers was an introduction to what this team is all about and how these people will change the world. Age of Ultron is the dark side; it is a deeper understanding of heroism/superheroism and what it means to still be human.

Thoughts on Ultron’s role as a villain, is he a comparable threat to Loki, and best moments of the robot come to life?

Brian: Honestly, I didn’t expect Ultron to be so funny. His dry humor was pretty great and a very welcome surprise. While Ultron had a better plan in my opinion, he didn’t feel as dangerous as Loki, simply because Loki is always very mischievous and mysterious. So they are comparable, they had a pretty big plot to destroy or rule the world, but at the same time were very different villains.

Yeksson: I wonder what would have happened if Ultron had finished uploading into the body.  Other than that, I enjoyed his dry humor and bickering with the Vision.  I still think Loki is the better antagonist because he was the first to have an army and later be owned by the Hulk.

Alex: I thought Ultron was charmingly tragic and very reflective of the information age. All the information in the world was at his grasp, and yet, his jokes, his emotions, and his goals were all very raw, childish, and naive. All of his opinions were derived from hating the very notion of his existence (as created by Tony Stark and imbedded with a linear directive of achieving peace). So we contrast that with a god of mischief with an inferiority complex and daddy issues, and I think Ultron was well more fleshed out within one movie (as opposed to Loki being introduced in Thor (2011)). One gripe I do have is that I felt the Ultron could have lived in some sort of sense; with his sentience being considered a type of life (given that JARVIS being uploaded into the body to become Ultron worked similarly), I thought the Avengers would debate destroying Ultron completely or containing him somehow.

Erin: Ultron was absolutely perfect. The wit, sarcasm, and sardonic/harsh one-liners made this robot feel like he absolutely did not give a f!$@ about the human race.  And that was intimidating. The only issue is that we got to know Loki through two full films, easily making him more understandable and relatable. But within one film, Whedon made Ultron a bad ass, and I hate to see him gone so soon.

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Some early reviews have claimed the movie is too big. Thoughts about the scope of the MCU and is the Avengers  Mansion becoming too crowded?

Brian: This is what I meant when I said that this movie was more comic booky than any other movie, because of how large it was and how fast paced it was with so many characters to follow. Sure, some things could have been given breath to let the dialogue/jokes land, but overall I think the movie size is fine, and people are always worried that Marvel Studios is doing something horribly wrong, but it turns out great, and I think this is right up that alley, especially because Infinity War will be two parts.

Yeksson: Your average movie runs around a little over 2 hours so it may feel like there is a lot to take in during that time.  Also, heroes like Captain America have other things going on like searching for Bucky Barnes.  This is briefly mentioned here, therefore watching all the films within the MCU is a must.  I recall a friend saying they had skipped watching Winter Soldier and later being confused about parts of the this film.  As for the mansion, I thought it was cool that members of the core cast had left only to be replaced by others.

Alex: As I mentioned, I was impressed with how everything was paced and I think the separation between the Avengers Tower and the New Avengers base is a good way to setup for Captain America: Civil War. Seeing Quicksilver die was a surprise but alas, there had to be casualties. With new characters such as Spider-Man, Black Panther, and Doctor Strange on the way (albeit not necessarily as Avengers), we’re slowly growing some armies and we’ll just hope things keep going in a positive direction.

Erin: The thing people forget is that something like this has never been done before. This overarching story and collection of characters is incredible. What Marvel has been able to do will never be forgotten. I don’t see how anyone can complain about that. Marvel is not only groundbreaking the world of film, but more generally, the world of entertainment as well. Comics and superheroes are about being big and grandiose, and I don’t think I’ll ever complain about that.

Standout Avenger (or character) in the film?

Brian: Hawkeye, in my opinion is THE Avenger in this film. He has the most heartfelt, as well as the funniest lines in the movie.

Yeksson: Black Widow because in this film, she’s equipped with an emotional side.  In the first film, she seemed to adhere strongly to the mission at hand.  However, in this one, we see her reflect on her troubled upbringing and her feelings for Bruce Banner.

Alex: I enjoyed the Hawkeye love; clearly, Whedon heard the cries for Hawk-guy love. I think Hulk became such a tragic hero though, with his loss of a film franchise leaving a gap in his screen time. Seeing his fears as Hulk and as Banner were so beautifully painful that it was hard not too root for him, even if Iron Man is saving the city by pounding his face in.

Erin: Clearly, Hawkeye. Whedon decisions to focus on other characters here is genius, and Hawkeye’s story helps glue this film together and keep it grounded. Hawkeye more than ever acted like a soldier, a man sacrificing his life everyday to protect his family.

Likewise, favorite scene in the film?

Brian: Anytime the science bros were together was a fun moment. Veronica in particular was a pretty incredible sequence.

Yeksson: I enjoyed the comic relief but my favorite scene has to be the girlfriend comparison between Thor and Tony Stark.  In my opinion, Thor won that brief and comic exchange.

Alex: Overall, I enjoyed the fights because the Avengers meshed so well. The scene where Ultron attacks the Avengers in the Tower was a surprise fight, but the end was seeing Hawkeye toss Captain America his shield to finish off the fight. Vision and Thor alternating Mjolnr. The opening scene was an actual Avengers Mission. Avengers were fighting together more frequently and we saw different mashups of heroes. The chemistry is real between this team and seeing them blend together were my favorite scenes.

Erin: Everyone trying to pick up Mjolnir.

Obviously, we have to talk about the mid-credits scene. Thoughts on the future?

Brian: While I would have preferred a stinger/teaser of another Avenger, like a web across the screen/something zooming through space/T’Challa upset his stuff is getting stolen/Strange watching the events using some magic, the scene they used was pretty cool, and the infinity gauntlet looked pretty incredible.

Yeksson: I’m just anxiously awaiting the revelation of the two remaining infinity stones.  Although, I agree that most people already know the Infinity Gauntlet is coming so I would have liked to see a teaser for another storyline in the MCU.

Alex: The one line given to Thanos is interesting in that he believes everyone is his pawn, including the newly made Ultron. I wonder if we’ll see more of his henchmen seen in Infinity and see how Avengers deal with a cosmic threat now that Tony Stark’s plan for worldwide protection was a bust. Spider-Man’s confirmation as the “new avenger” has me excited; he’ll be able to team up with all the fan favorites we’ve seen so far in the MCU (and the cast is getting pretty big).

Erin: Other than I LITERALLY CANNOT WAIT, the final-final scene is all it needed to be. I agree it would have been awesome to see more, but the first Avengers film ended with Thanos as an eye-widening introduction. Age of Ultron takes it to the next level with Thanos becoming a REAL threat, and is more bad ass than ever.

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ICYMI: Hawkeye Sings About His Super Powers

I’ll be honest, this isn’t the video I thought I needed, but after watching it, this is the video everyone needs. Let’s watch as Hawkeye sings about his super powers real quick. Or you know, maybe 10 times.

First of all, I have to say that his voice is pretty impressive. I didn’t ever imagine that Jeremy Renner could sing, unless that’s not him, in which case that is a pretty great lip sync job, but I’m pretty sure it’s him and Hawkeye needs to add aiming and hitting high notes to his superpowers list.

There are just too many funny moments from his song to note any specific ones, but I really did love the guac for free and the high fiving the cashier.

Is it fair to say that at this point, we’re all just waiting for an album done by the Avengers? They’re pretty much dominating pop culture and box office as it is already.

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ICYMI: Avengers SNL Skit

So, basically imagine what it would be like to win a championship in any major sport, and have the Avengers act that way after defeating Ultron, that’s pretty much this skit. Thor is super hype (Chris Hemsworth was hosting SNL), Iron Man acting like the guy whose been there, Bruce Banner just worried about other things, Captain America being the wet blanket, and Nick Fury the less-than-entertained coach. There might be a minor spoiler at the end, it’s hard to know if it’s a throwaway line at the end or not, but it shouldn’t really affect the plot of Avengers: Age of Ultron.

I’d listen to a podcast by The God of Thunder, wouldn’t you?

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ICYMI: Avengers: Age of Ultron Trailer 3

Holy crap.

Holy crap.

Things To Note:

-More Tony and Steve issues brewing.
-Ultron lays out his plan and reasons.
-Of course, The Avengers will argue and it’ll come down to them all risking their lives. Tony even says that not everyone will make it out alive.
-We got to see Quicksilver punch Cap in the face without him even knowing probably, which is the first time I can think of when we actually saw some conflict between the Avengers and Quicksilver/Scarlet Witch.
-More Hulkbuster vs Hulk action.
-VISION.

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