A Conversation with Deadpool’s Greg LaSalle

If you’ve made the right decision this Valentine’s Day weekend and have checked out Deadpool then you may not have heard Greg LaSalle but you definitely saw him. Sort of. LaSalle is one of the tech wizards behind the Academy Award winning MOVA Facial Performance Capture system used in bringing Deadpool’s X-men reinforcement, Colossus, to the screen. While Colossus’s body and voice were provided by actor Stefan Kapicic, LaSalle stepped in front of the MOVA cameras to give the metallic facial performance.

The morning after Deadpool made its New York debut amidst a Deadpool fan costume contest, I sat down with LaSalle for a conversation on Deadpool, other Marvel films and this amazing process used to bring characters such as the Incredible Hulk and Thanos to life.

Lauren Damon: Did you go to the fan premiere last night?
Greg LaSalle: Oh yeah, that was a lot of fun.

How many Deadpools showed up?
LaSalle: Oh you mean the people who dressed up? Oh I don’t know, I think there were quite a bit. I think they chose like seven of them or something, it was pretty funny. One in a tutu, I mean…it was hysterical.

Are you someone who goes to conventions in general seeing that?
LaSalle: No–
“Avoid them like the plague!”
LaSalle: [laughing] No, it’s not that, you know it’s just I have so many things to do. I don’t get a chance to do that very often.

Can you talk about what MOVA Facial Performance Capture is?
LaSalle: I’ll start by telling you first a little bit about what motion capture actually is–which is where you would wear the reflective markers. And that system, those systems were actually developed to deduce where a skeleton is moving. So as those cameras became higher resolution, people started shrinking the dots and gluing them to people’s faces. The data set you get from that is only like 200, 250 points. So a friend of mine in the bay area decided that he would fund the development of research to find out how to actually capture the entire surface of the skin deformity and that’s where MOVA comes from. That development.

So it’s super high resolution, it captures about 7000 data points, all the wrinkles, all the subtlety of the performance is captured. So it’s basically like capturing a scan per frame of the film of the actor. And then about two years ago Digital Domain developed a technique to take those and apply them mathematically to a computer generated character. So the entire performance gets carried over so it really looks, you know, all the performance is captured.

I heard that it’s captured through paint instead of dots?
LaSalle: We apply, it’s invisible makeup in white light that just is applied as a random pattern and then the system has strobing black lights and white lights. So certain cameras take a picture when the black lights are on and all they see is this random pattern makeup. And that’s what’s used to create the scans and track the points across the face.

Seeing as you worked on both Avengers and Age of Ultron and a couple years had passed between them, did the process for capturing the Hulk change? If you worked on the Hulk?
LaSalle: I did, in the first Avengers that’s what it started out as actually, it was before filming was working with Industrial Light and Magic to capture Mark [Ruffalo] to see how he would move as the Hulk. On set they used a bit of different technology so this new technology that we used for Colossus is actually the first time it’s been used. This mathematic transferring of the performance. Things like in the past, like in Avengers, we surveyed the actor. We’d get all the information about how the actor’s face would move and then companies would build a rig which is just a way of animating and when you run a slider, the lip goes up and it goes up as if it was the actor. But it doesn’t have all the subtlety and nuance of the variation in a performance. The new technology the does.

Did you have any hand in that Hulk-smashing-Loki scene?
LaSalle: Well we only specialize in the facial stuff, so only the expressions part of–but that was my favorite part of the first Avengers movie. That ‘boom boom boom!’ [LaSalle does some pretty accurate Hulk smashing motions] It’s a shame though to see Tom Hiddleston beat up like that because he’s such a nice guy.

You captured his face for that? Wasn’t it just grunting?
LaSalle: Yeah yeah…It’s so many years ago now and we’ve done so many things that I can’t remember exactly what we did. If I remember correctly, they put a pipe with some foam on the end and they kept [jabbing motions, laughing] like they’re pushing the back of [Tom’s] head so that he’d [jerks his head]…It was very strange!

What did you work on for Age of Ultron?
LaSalle: Actually I only did the–Thanos. Working with Josh Brolin.

Also on Guardians of the Galaxy too?
LaSalle: Mhmm.

I don’t know if Marvel would let me ask you but when is he coming back?!
LaSalle: That’s really funny because I was convinced while we were filming Age of Ultron that they’re gonna–I just have this feeling that something will happen. I mean he’s like the baddest dude in the whole universe and they have to do something–

Yeah coming up of course we have [Captain America] Civil War, that’s Earth-bound but [Thor] Ragnarok is coming and that’s out there! He’s waiting in the wings…
LaSalle: I mean I wish I could say. I’m not privy to those kinds of things to begin with. But it would be really cool to see a bad ass movie with Thanos. I mean they have so many characters and so many things to do. Kevin Feige–he’s the president of Marvel–knows this universe probably better than Stan Lee and he has this all mapped out in his head. He knows exactly what he’s doing.

Do you keep up with the other projects in between what you’re working on?
LaSalle: I don’t actually like actively keep up. I look for within the industry, what we could work on and how we could pull things off.

So working as Colossus, you’re performing his scenes and they just transfer your face into his?
LaSalle: Yes, in simple terms, yes. It creates a scan first and then this fancy math transfers that by figuring out where–you teach it ‘Okay, this is where the center of my cheek is and this is the center of where Colossus’s left cheek is’ and it mathematically calculates what else is going on in that area. It transfers it.

How did it come to be this split performance where you’re on the face and Stefan Kapicic provides the body and voice?
LaSalle: Tim Miller understands this technology really well, so he figured he could take the best of what different people had to offer and Frankenstein all that together. And he was adamant about having an authentic Russian voice. I believe he even recorded another and he just didn’t like it and then he found Stefan. And I think it works extremely well. It’s a pretty cool way of using the technology.

What was the most fun about being Colossus?
LaSalle: Well I’ve known Tim for a long time and I just like working with him. He’s fun, he’s actually a lot like Deadpool in his comedy and the way he’s sarcastically funny. So I enjoy working with him on that. But I also did the tests which we did like six years ago so it’s been really awesome to see it finally get made. So just the general overall feeling of being happy about that.

Was Tim involved at all in how Deadpool was treated in [2009’s] Wolverine?
LaSalle: No

Was there discussion about just getting away from that entirely?
LaSalle: Tim is a huge comic book fan. He reads a ton, he likes graphic novels. He knew that he wanted to take what’s on the page and have that be what’s in the film. He wasn’t going to mess with it, he wanted to–as a fan he knew that that’s what everybody wanted to see. That’s what he wanted to do.

How instrumental was Ryan Reynolds also in getting this?
LaSalle: I think it was a collaborative effort because they all have their understanding of the character so they–and Tim is great that way. I know he had people that they discussed it: ‘This is what I’d like to see, this is what you’d like to see’ and then they figured out a way to get that all to happen.

This is your second time in front of the camera [after an appearance Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb] is this what you’d like to do more of?
LaSalle: Well I think it’s fun, I’ve been acting for a while and that’s why Tim gave me the part. But I like to do both. I think it’s fun to play the computer generated characters because you get to do really wacky stuff. And then but I also like really small, intimate type live action things. So I’ve been shooting a few short things.

What’re some of your favorite films this past year?
LaSalle: Oh, I liked the Big Short, I liked Trumbo if you’ve seen that. I thought Trumbo was really good.

Yeah, it was weird to watch that in the context of “Award season” since there’s so much of Oscar in the storyline…
LaSalle: I know! You gotta block all that stuff out. Well it’s so interesting too. I mean it’s doubly cool that it’s true.

Do you have more acting roles coming up?
LaSalle: I just finished filming, ironically with Blake Lively [married to Reynolds]. A movie with her called All I See is You which there’s what we call invisible effects. It’s a live action movie but they wanted to use this new technology to drive her newborn baby being born and a character that she sees in her head. So I played both of those parts.

Playing a fetus?!
LaSalle: Not the fetus! As soon as it’s born I had to do the scenes of taking the first breath of screaming and crying and opening the eyes and looking around. They wanted all this subtlety. They figured a live performance would do that more than trying to animate all that subtlety into it.

[This next question features discussion of a specific Deadpool moment, so for the SPOILER-shy, skip down past this one!]

Does that mean you had anything to do with Deadpool regrowing a baby hand? [A brilliant moment after Deadpool cuts his off to escape Colossus’s handcuffs]
LaSalle: (Laughs) No! No. It’s so funny because I’d known that he cuts his hand off for a very long time but I never go to see anything–I only knew because Colossus ends up with his hand. And I never knew what happened. So when he cut his hand off, the first time he saw the movie it was like ‘OK now how does it grow back? How does it grow back?’ And then they even made that funny, it was awesome. I didn’t know what to expect because I don’t like to see the movie until they’re completely done because there’s just so many things that pull you out of it, you know? So I wanted to wait til it was done and I think that all this talk–the blood and the guts and the R-rating, it’s perfect. I don’t care!

It would be weird if you had this much violence and then just no blood, it’s annoying when PG-13 movies do that–
LaSalle: Plus it’s there because it needs to be, a couple of short seconds and it’s not gross. It’s just real.

[Spoiler over!]

Back to Deadpool , considering there are so many films now in the ‘Marvel Universe’, what do you think is most appealing about this character, what does he bring?
LaSalle: Well I think his authenticity to the original character. And the comedy. I mean I think there’s a lot of funny stuff in the Avengers movies and some of the other stuff, but that’s what Deadpool’s character is built around. And I think that that just makes it’s different and stand out.

If Deadpool had to be pitted against any of the Avengers, who do you think would win out?
LaSalle: Oh…This might sound bad but I think Deadpool is way smarter than those other characters. So I think he’d win a lot of stuff. Because he thinks differently than they do.

Film Review “Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron”

Director: Joss Whedon
Starring: Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, James Spader and Samuel L. Jackson
Running Time: 141 minutes
Marvel

Our Score: 4 out of 5 Stars

We’re already ten movies into the Marvel Cinematic Universe when we wade into the battlefield with Ultron this first Summer Movie weekend so I think it’s a pretty fair assumption that most people have taken a stance on whether or not they’ll be grabbing a ticket for this latest offering. I know I’m betraying the idea of a critic’s ‘power’ here, but honesty’s the best policy. And honestly, we’re seven years in here and I’m on board despite it not always being the smoothest of rides. That said when it comes to this, the culmination of Marvel’s “phase 2”,  I was a bit overwhelmed. Age of Ultron is more of everything. How could it not be on the heels of its predecessors? There’s more characters, more back stories, and inevitably more destruction.  The former two will always play better than the latter for me but I can’t deny that Whedon’s film is an often wow-inducing spectacle that leaves our heroes on intriguing and unstable grounds.

As we learned from Iron Man 3, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is capable of accidentally creating some demons. In that solo story, it just happened to be a slighted science colleague, but in Ultron he really steps up his screwup game. The Avengers have been tracking down the scattered physical remnants of their 2012 outing, Loki’s mind-controlling scepter included. With that ‘glowstick of destiny’ finally in the capable hands of Tony Stark and Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), Stark’s vision of utilizing Artificial Intelligence in his technology to protect the Earth from off-world threats can be realized. But faced with the prospect of the scepter being returned with Thor to Asgard, he does a rushed job of instilling his AI, Ultron, with a peace-at-ALL-costs mentality. And after raiding the internet and all the digital files of humanity, Ultron notices that it’s really the humans who always are in the way of peace. Oops, our evil robot threat is born. When Ultron beams his programming across the globe to the HYDRA facility from whence the scepter came, he picks up two ‘enhanced’ twins (read: evilly experimented on to the point that they’re super. Or as Cobie Smulders’s Agent Hill sums them up, “he’s fast and she’s weird”) in the form of Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) who have their own axe to grind with Mr. Stark, a former weapons dealer lest we forget.

Ultron himself is menacingly played by James Spader via motion capture that is really chilling, especially in his zombie-like entrance. I hadn’t bought into a CG villain like this since Davy Jones in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. As a character born of quip-master Stark, he has a wicked sense of humor that these films always benefit from, even if he’s not as clever or fun to watch as Tom Hiddleston’s Loki. Furthermore, it’s always a risk with comic book franchises to load their sequels with new characters but for me the twins were completely welcome additions. Olsen is particularly compelling as Scarlet Witch, whose powers to access the minds and darkest fears of her opponents induce some emotional, trippy visions for our core heroes. Later we’re introduced to the sublime Vision (played by Paul Bettany, on screen in the flesh, finally! Rejoice!) whose amazing origins are a bit too spoilery to divulge here but he is really a marvel (sorry) to behold. His introduction is one of the quietest sequences and winds up being the most entrancing. I suspect he, more than Ultron, will be what gets the most people talking in the category of new characters.

What’s interesting about Ultron as the chief villain is the gray area he thrusts the Avengers into. It’s all well and good when a mysterious army descends upon New York to be defended by the group, but when they are the creator of the threat, the onus to protect civilians is that much greater. Thus for better or worse, much of our battle sequence time is dedicated to getting the innocent populous out of range. A novel concern for a blockbuster really, though one wonders how much care they receive from the Stark Relief Fund in the aftermath what with their country destroyed…This responsibility is what causes the most strife amongst our original team. With the next Captain America film being Civil War—a comic book conflict that saw Cap and Stark fighting over a government registration of the super powered— it’s really exciting to see that seed of disagreement take root, evencoming to blows in a way they hadn’t since Thor was still a stranger to humans.

As you may have guessed with all my talk of hero in-fighting and quiet sequences being the best, I truly believe that the real power in these films ultimately comes from the scenes where things aren’t exploding. These actors have lived in these characters for years now and Whedon wisely gives them a couple extended sequences in which they just get to be human for a while. Of course they would all try and lift Thor’s hammer (side note: Thor in a red sports coat? Four for you wardrobe department), and hey, maybe some of them even have a family life, how crazy. There’s especially touching exchanges between Ruffalo’s Banner and Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanov, both damaged in their own ways, that remind you just what an amazing caliber of actors this cast contains. Not to mention it’s especially pertinent to highlight their humanity in the face of legions of evil robots. I came away wishing for more of this in fact, since as far as I counted the film had four major city-leveling sequences to the first film’s two. Still, the destruction-fatigue continues to be offset by the cleverness embedded in the action—Cap’s shield certainly is a team player, even if that Hammer isn’t—and the cool new players in the field.

Book Review “The Avengers Storybook Collection”

Age Range: 6 – 8 years
Grade Level: 1 – 3
Series: Storybook Collection
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Marvel Press
Release Date: March 31, 2015

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

I wish I had a book like this when I was a kid. “The Avengers Storybook Collection” is a must have for any parent with young boys or even young fan girls for that matter! There is nothing like getting ready a story filled with heroism, adventure and action just before going to slip. These stories are fun, exciting and feature some of our favorite Marvel superheroes. Even though, my daughter is a little young for this one, she still loves it and already came name every character on the cover!

Official Premise: Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, Black Widow, Hawkeye, and Falcon are Earth’s Mightiest Marvels-the Avengers! Join them as they work together to battle against sinister Super Villains such as Ultron, Thanos, the Masters of Evil,and more, to keep the Earth safe. Featuring 20 explosive stories of good vs. evil. Avengers assemble!

Let’s hope that this Storybook Collection is the first of many. There are literally an infinite collection of characters that they can include in future collections. This one has 20 stories included with all of the favorites like Iron Man and Captain America but I would love to be able to introduce my daughter to some of the lesser known characters as well. They could even do a female superhero only book OOHHHH OOHHHH or even better a villains only book. Who wouldn’t want to read a new story featuring everyone’s favorite Avenger villain, Loki! Fingers crossed!

Book Review “Marvel: The Avengers Vault”

Author: Peter A. David
Hardcover: 176 pages
Publisher: Thunder Bay Press

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

For those wanting to brush up on all things Avengers prior to the release of “Avengers: Age of Ultron” the lasts release from author Peter A. David and Thunder Bay Press should do the trick. “Marvel” The Avengers Vault” is a 176 page hardcover release that is as the title suggests a vault of information related to each of the core Marvel Avengers. The book is broken down by chapter with each chapter being dedicated to one of 4 characters Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and The Incredible Hulk. Each page of the book features beautiful full color art work printed on high quality paper. Another plus, the book is laid out very much like a comic book as each chapter delves deep in to the characters origins. If that alone isn’t enough separating each chapter are numerous envelope pages which include some really cool collectibles such as Iron Man concept art, (reproduction) Jack Kirby art and Captain America’s Sentinels of Liberty membership card to name just a few of these great extras.

Though the book appears to be aimed at hardcore Avenger collectors I found it to be very accessible and fun for all ages. Even if you skip the text readers can enjoy all of the really great art work from the four characters comic history all in one place. To close out the book readers are a treated to a glimpse of other upcoming Marvel heroes (Ant Man, Captain Marvel and Black Panther) who will be making their way to the film screen very shortly. Author Peter A. David really hit a home run with this book so if you are looking for something that can hold you over until the May release of “Age of Ultron” this book will certainly do the trick.

Book Review “Happy Holidays! From the Avengers”

Age Range: 6 – 8 years
Grade Level: 1 – 3
Series: Marvel: Avengers
Hardcover: 48 pages
Publisher: Marvel Press
Release Date: September 16, 2014

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Having a daughter, I have to try and cross her over from Princesses as much as I can while keeping the balance. She is already big on Star Wars, which is a score for daddy. So next to tackle is superheros. “Happy Holidays! From the Avengers” is a great way to start because my daughter loves the Holiday season and these characters are animated very well in this book to welcome a younger audience.

Official Premise: It was supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, but after battling monsters and villains, the mighty Avengers just weren’t in the holiday spirit. Not even gifts form the Wasp could make their day merry. But who was that dashing through the snow? Could he save the Avengers and their holiday season?

The book also includes a read-along CD with none other narrating it than the voice of Stan Lee! This may not do anything for the younger kids but it is sure to grab the parents attention and get points in their book. It will also allow parents to share the information about Stan Lee to future get the younger kids involved in the history of the creator and the characters. Great book for younger kids, looks to enjoy the holidays with their favorite superheros.

Marvel’s Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. at Discovery Times Square

Photos by Liz Phillips
Note: There are spoilers for Captain America: The Winter Soldier within this article.

For New York City-bound Avengers fans looking to bridge the Marvel Cinematic Universe gap between April’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier and August’s Guardians of the Galaxy, they needn’t look any further than Discovery Times Square’s Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. Located in the heart of midtown, the exhibit replicates an actual SHIELD base with state of the art interactive exhibits and Marvel artifacts. We got the chance to tour this unique experience during its preview period in late May and were glad to return last week to see its completion and test whether we were worthy of our newly-issued SHIELD ID cards.

Upon entry into the exhibit, “probationary” level agents are scanned and welcomed with an official message from none other than Agent Felix Blake (Titus Welliver). After Blake’s message, the entry room gives way into the further secret headquarters of S.H.I.E.L.D. It should be noted for anyone reading this in confusion in light of what occurred in The Winter Soldier that this exhibit hails directly from Phase 1 in the MCU timeline, right after the events of the Avengers. Though it begs the question: How awesome would a HYDRA station be? Bring on the digitized Dr. Zola and his databanks brain, Marvel! But I digress.

After briefing, each Avenger gets highlighted starting with beautiful costume displays of the SHIELD agents Black Widow and Hawkeye (even if the mannequin’s arms don’t hold a candle to Mr. Renner’s). Beside them are the suits of SHIELD higher-ups Agent Phil Coulson and Director Nick Fury. Like most all of the props on view throughout the exhibit, the costumes are accompanied by touch screens giving in-depth info on the items on display. Other noteable props we encountered on our tour included Loki’s infamous helmet and scepter, the Tesseract portal device and of course, Captain America’s iconic shield.

What makes this exhibit special however, beyond its wealth of actual props and costumes, is that ID everyone was issued. As the station’s staff move recruits from the designated rooms of Captain America, The Hulk, Thor and Iron Man, would-be agents can scan into interactive exercises that test their skills versus the Avengers. Spoiler alert: None of us are stronger than Steve Rogers. It also allows users to share some of their results with Facebook if they chose to connect with the social network upon registering their ID.

Unsurprisingly, the most interactive room is that of Tony Stark himself where visitors can watch themselves get suited up on screen and maneuver Iron Man in his virtual garage or operate an actual robotic arm.*

The largest space belongs to Thor, whose costume from the first film is cleverly displayed as a gift from Asgard to Midgard. Beside it, S.T.A.T.I.O.N. boasts apparently the largest holographic projection in North America, that of Thor’s legendary hammer, Mjolnir. Across from these artifacts, agents can virtually manuever through stars in a program the center developed in collaboration with NASA. Jane Foster would be proud.

Marvel’s Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N.  at Discovery Times Square is now open and you can find ticketing information on their official website

(Special thanks to Heather for being our model agent!)

*Our team discovered an amusing Easter egg in regards to this arm, clearly the exhibitors know their NYC audience! Head on over to our TUMBLR page to enjoy our short video as well as additional photos from the exhibit.

Titus Welliver Talks About “Marvel’s Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N.”

 Titus Welliver first joined the Marvel universe in the short one-shot, “Item 47”. Taking place in the aftermath of the Battle of New York in 2012’s The Avengers, Welliver played SHIELD Agent Blake. The short saw Blake sending Agent Sitwell (later of “Hail HYDRA” fame, boooo, hiss!) to recover a lost Chitauri weapon from a pair of common criminals on a bank robbing spree. There it was implied he was previously the superior agent to Clark Gregg’s Agent Coulson. No surprise then, with Coulson’s resurrection, Blake too cropped up on ABC’s Agents of SHIELD.

Now that SHIELD has a temporary NYC home at Discovery Times Square’s Marvel’s Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. with Agent Blake inducting new agents on a daily basis, Welliver dropped by for a tour with his family last week. He gamely tried out several of the interactive exhibits and visited with some important Marvel props (including Item 47 itself). I was happy to get to tagalong with them, along with the exhibit’s executive director, Mark Smith. Both men were extremely knowledgable on their Marvel comics and it was a pleasure to see the exhibit in the company of these enthusiastic fans.

Lauren Damon: When you did Item 47, did you know Agents of the SHIELD could be happening?
Titus Welliver: No, Agents of SHIELD was probably in the works at that time, I didn’t know that they were going to do an Agents of SHIELD show. So when I did Item 47, it was just–I flipped out. I was so excited to do it. Because Blake and in that he’s kind of a Walter Mitty character, you can kind of tell he’s just champing at the bit to get out in the field and do something.

LD: Agent Blake’s background is having been a superior officer to Agent Coulson, did you and Clark Gregg have any discussion on their roles before the Avengers?
TW: No, I mean we didn’t. Clark was my roommate in college, so we’ve known each other for a really long time so he sort of hinted after I did Item 47 that there was stuff coming down the pipe. So when we actually got to work together it was pretty funny for us because we were such total goofoffs in college and now we’re like these Agents of SHIELD being all serious standing on the helicarrier so it’s really fun.

LD: Your SHIELD episodes aired prior to The Winter Soldier premiering, after those events, where does that put Agent Blake?
TW: Well they’ve got to reconstruct SHIELD now from the ground up now that’s it’s been so heavily compromised and destroyed. So it will be interesting to see how they resurrect SHIELD within–and as you saw on the show, it ended on a pretty bleak note. So…those writers are so good. They’ll find a way to bring it back up and I’m just happy for the show because I think it’s a smart show. I don’t think we’ve had anything like that you know, maybe The X-Files sort of the closest comparison I could come up with. And that was a phenomenal show. But with the science and the whole
Marvel universe, because everything is so interconnected, the places they can go are kind of endless.

LD: Finally, who is your favorite Avenger?
TW: My favorite Avenger? Captain America.
LD: Alright!
TW: I mean…ahhh that’s hard! I mean, I like them all. But yeah, I’m a huge Captain America fan from way back and I have probably about eighty-five percent of the original Captain America comics. So yeah, I’m a big geek.

Fittingly, in Captain America’s space at the Discovery Center, I asked Mark Smith how they went about choosing which of Captain Rogers’s props would be placed within the exhibit:

Mark Smith: It’s based on the storyline really. So with Captain America, the rebirth pod was a big part of that. The initiation of the super soldier program itself so we wanted to make sure we had real props and costumes and pieces from the movie to be able to then blend into the storyline about how Captain America is the super soldier.

Marvel’s Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. is now open at 44th street in New York’s Times Square, you can read more about visiting the center at its official website . In the meantime, Titus Welliver can currently be seen in “Transformers: Age of Extinction”.

“Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes” Avengers Play Set Trailer Released

Disney Interactive today released additional details and a new trailer for Marvel’s The Avengers Play Set which will be available for Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes (2.0 Edition). Slated for release this fall, gamers will be invited to take part in a brand new true-to-property storyline crafted with the help of award-winning Marvel comic writer Brian Michael Bendis and featuring The Avengers Super Heroes Iron Man, Black Widow, Thor, Captain America, Hulk and Hawkeye.

Play Set: The Avengers Play Set is the first play set to be announced for Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes and features Iron Man, Thor and Black Widow, with Captain America, Hawkeye and Hulk sold separately. Players will take the role of earth’s mightiest heroes as they try to put an end to Loki’s cold-hearted plans to invade New York City. Along the way, they will learn that Loki isn’t working alone and that this is but the first step in a villainous plot that threatens the entire planet. The Avengers will need not only their strength and wits, but also the technology and insight of S.H.I.E.L.D. to have any chance of saving the world.

Toy Box: In the all-new Toy Box 2.0, players will be able to use Iron Man, Thor, Black Widow and all of The Avengers characters, plus hundreds of Marvel-themed items, locations, props and vehicles, to create new and exciting adventures in customized worlds.

The Avengers Play Set and new Toy Box mode will be included in the Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes Starter Pack. Additional Play Sets and characters will be announced in the coming months.

Blu-ray Review “Avengers Confidential: Black Widow & Punisher”

Voices: Jennifer Carpenter, Brian Bloom
Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
DVD Release Date: March 25, 2014
Run Time: 83 minutes

Film: 3 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

When I saw that Sony and Marvel were teaming up for another animated feature film, I was psyched. I loved what they did with the past short series with Blade, Wolverine and X-Men. The animation style is reminiscence of a Japanese anime and the characters are given a slick make-over. As the title suggests, this film focus on two Marvel’ popular characters, Black Widow (voiced by Jennifer Carpenter, TV’’s ““Dexter””) and The Punisher (voiced by Brian Bloom, ““Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3””). Don’t let the cover art fool you either with the image of Iron Man, Thor and Hulk, since they along with a few other Avengers appear for a few minutes in the last few minutes of the film. This is a Black Widow and (some of) Punisher story solely. Parents need to note this is a very HARD PG-13 rating, very violent for sure. Overall, I thought it was worth a watch, but nothing amazing.

Official Premise: After interfering with a top secret mission, THE PUNISHER is taken into custody by S.H.I.E.L.D. AGENT and AVENGER, BLACK WIDOW. At the orders of Director Nick Fury, Punisher and Black Widow are sent on a mission to stop LEVIATHAN, a global terrorist organization that plans to sell stolen S.H.I.E.L.D. technology to the highest bidder. Now, the vigilante and spy must work together to prevent this technology from falling into the wrong hands. The fate of the world, and of the AVENGERS, hangs in the balance.

“Avengers Confidential: Black Widow & Punisher” is packaged as a Blu-ray/DVD combo with an HD Digital Ultraviolet copy included. Sony has always delivered consistently great animated titles. This film is no different it is a solid Blu-ray presentation. The animation style looks very sharp and the colors are very clear. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track works well with the action scenes especially the final act, which is pretty epic. In terms of special features are two making-of Featurettes & Blu-ray™ Exclusive Conceptual Art Gallery. The two featurettes are ““Espionage and Punishment””, which dives into how these characters were adapted into this anime style. “The Vigilante Vs. The Spy” takes a look at these two characters from an origin perspective.

XBOX 360 Game Review “Marvel Avengers: Battle For Earth”

Platform: Xbox 360
Studio: Ubisoft
Rated: Teen
Release Date: October 30, 2012

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

When it comes to “Marvel’s The Avengers”, they are the hottest ticket in not only film this year but also anything having to do with media in general.  So the release of “Marvel Avengers: Battle For Earth” is not a shock.  The game is a head-to-head fighting game where you can put iconic Marvel superheroes and villains against each other. You can choose from 20 classic Marvel characters, each one that is equipped with four unique superpowers. But this isn’t your typical fighting game you have to use motion to fight and trigger attacks using the Kinect.  But it is met with mostly mixed results.

Like most fighting games there is a wide variety of game modes including Co-op, Campaign, Arcade, Challenges, Versus, and Tournament. Concerning the fighting system, it is decent and definitely not the worst I have ever come across, there is your typical use of Super Attacks, Velocity Boost, Breaker, or Frenzy to battle your  opponents. On the plus side that didn’t make it a total bust for me, there is tons of extras to unlock as you go through the battles like unlocking unique outfits and collector cards.

The character line-up avaialble for “Marvel Avengers: Battle For Earth” is Black Widow, Captain America, Doctor Doom, Dr. Strange, Hawkeye, Human Torch, Iceman, Iron Man, Loki, Magneto, Phoenix, Queen Veranke, Scarlet Witch, Spider Man, Storm, Super Skrull, The Hulk, Thor, Venom and Wolverine.

I did enjoy getting a chance to control both the heroes and villains of the Marvel universe using my movements but it did get a little tiring.  The capturing of my movement was also quite accurate. The graphics are also quite impressive with some sharp shading. I mean it is not super high-def but I feel that that was the angle that they were going for, more of a comic book look and not so polished.  In the end, this will surely be loved by energetic kids under the age of 12.   Adults might enjoy playing but will most likely loose interest after a short while.

Product Description: “Marvel Avengers: Battle for Earth” is the ultimate superhero brawler. It features 20 different characters, including Avengers such as Iron Man, Hulk, Captain America and Thor, as well as other fan-favorite Super Heroes and Super Villains from the Marvel Universe. Players will use motion gameplay to execute explosive super attacks, unleash devastating special moves and play with friends or against the AI in a wide variety of game modes.

Full Character Lineup Revealed for “Marvel Avengers: Battle for Earth”

Ubisoft revealed the full lineup of Super Heroes and Super Villains for Marvel Avengers Battle for Earth and key art created by Marvel Comics artist Stefano Caselli.  Fans will get to play as 20 different Marvel characters including:


1. Black Widow
2. Captain America
3. Doctor Doom
4. Dr. Strange
5. Hawkeye
6. Human Torch
7. Iceman
8. Iron Man
9. Loki
10. Magneto
11. Phoenix
12. Queen Veranke
13. Scarlet Witch
14. Spider Man
15. Storm
16. Super Skrull
17. The Hulk
18. Thor
19. Venom
20. Wolverine

About Marvel Avengers Battle for Earth:
Marvel Avengers Battle for Earth is the ultimate super hero brawler set in authentic comic book-style art environments based on the iconic Secret Invasion storyline. Battle for Earth provides endless entertainment through a variety of gameplay modes including co-op, campaign, arcade, challenges, versus and tournament. Fans will enjoy embodying their favorite Marvel super heroes or villains within the game including Avengers Captain America, The Hulk, Iron Man, Hawkeye, Black Widow and Loki.

Developed by Ubisoft Quebec, Marvel Avengers Battle for Earth will be released in North America on Kinect for Xbox 360 on October 30th and Nintendo’s Wii U system this Holiday.

For more information on Marvel Avengers Battle for Earth, please visit: http://AvengersBattleforEarth.com

Tom Hiddleston talks about playing Loki in “Marvel’s The Avengers”

Tom Hiddleston is known best for his role of Loki in “Thor” and the upcoming “The Avengers”. Media Mikes was able to attend a recent press conference and got a chance to ask Tom a few questions about the role and also what we can expect from “The Avengers”.

Mike Gencarelli: Loki traditionally doesn’t have as cool of a signature weapon as most of the super-heroes out there. What prop or weapon from the “Avengers” were you jealous of?
Tom Hiddleston: Well, if you’ve seen the new trailer, I do get to play with a rather wonderful toy in the film. But there was one day on the set when I managed to get a hold of Captain America’s shield and I went parading around with it. One of the producers stopped me and asked, “What are you doing with that?” (laughs)

Q: If you could put together your own team of super-heroes – let’s say – super-villains, who would be your evil super friends if you could choose from any characters in literature, comics, movies, etc
TH: Hmmmmmm (thinking) A little bit of help from Darth Vader, if I might. Hans Gruber from “Die Hard.” Scar from “The Lion King.” Robert Patrick from “Terminator 2” – the T-1000. Probably Schwarzenegger from “Terminator.” Iago, absolutely. That’s a pretty awesome group of people

Q: Since you brought it up, what was the “rather wonderful toy” you eluded to that you get to play with?
TH: It’s a kind of evolution of the staff that he played with at the end of “Thor.” But that’s Odin’s spear. So at the end of “Thor,” it’s Odin’s spear – this is his own makeshift staff of destruction.

Q: Will Odin be in “The Avengers?
TH: Odin won’t be in “The Avengers.”

Q: In the trailer it looks like all of the action takes place in New York. Is Loki coming to destroy New York or is he here to do damage on a global scale?
TH: Well, no…it’s not just one city. But inevitably Manhattan becomes the focus point, partly because that’s where Tony Stark lives. There’s one shot in the trailer where you can see, I think, the Quinjet flying towards Manhattan and in the middle of it is Stark Tower, which is in the fictitious world of the comics. Tony Stark has a huge interestingly-shaped tower opposite the Chrysler building, which is his base of operations. That’s where Stark Industries works out of. And so Stark Tower becomes a focus point for lots of reasons.

Q: What is Loki’s relationship with Stellan Skarsgård’s character in this movie?
TH: (laughing) This is where I can sense the red dot forming on my forehead. (laughs again) And the Marvel sniper in the corner on the roof over there — he’s got his eye on me. Working with Stellan…he’s amazing. He’s someone I’ve long admired as an actor. I really do think he’s an exceptional, exceptional actor and is really capable of bringing a level of complexity and truth to roles and performances which in another actor’s hands could seem dry or slightly invisible. So I loved working with him — he’s a real actor’s actor. He’s been doing it for so long. He plays the same character in “Avengers” that he played in “Thor”… Erik Selvig, who is a scientist. He’s employed by S.H.I.E.L.D. after his encounters with S.H.I.E.L.D. in “Thor,” to do some work for them. That’s all I can say.

Media Mikes rave about “The Avengers”

Get ready for Earth’s Mightiest Heroes to assemble on the big screen for the very first time in “Marvel’s The Avengers,” only in theaters May 4th!

“The Avengers” will bring together the super hero team of Marvel Comics characters for the first time ever, including Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, the Hulk and more, as they are forced to band together to battle the biggest foe they’ve ever faced.

When an unexpected enemy emerges that threatens global safety and security, Nick Fury, director of the international peacekeeping agency known as S.H.I.E.L.D., finds himself in need of a team to pull the world back from the brink of disaster.

Click here for Mike Gencarelli’s review

Click here for Mike Smith’s review

Film Review #2 “The Avengers”

Starring: Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans and Samuel L. Jackson
Directed by: Joss Whedon
PG 13
Running time: 2 hours 22 mins
Paramount

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Phew! That is the sound I made at the end of “The Avengers.” After two plus hours of Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and their pals, I was able to take a breath and say to myself, “he did it…he pulled it off.” Of course, in the capable hands of Joss Whedon did I really need to worry?

The story concerns an evil plot to take over the Earth hatched by the very jealous Loki (Tom Hiddleston), brother (kind of) of Thor (Chris Hemsworth). Loki seeks an object called the Tesseract, an almost endless source of energy currently in the hands of S.H.I.E.L.D. and under the watchful eye of Nick Fury (Jackson). After infiltrating S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters Loki steals the Tesseract, intending to turn it over to a race of beings that want to destroy earth and, seemingly, put Loki in charge. After learning that one of his best men has turned on him, Fury summons a little help. Avengers assemble!

A roller coaster ride of non-stop action, “The Avengers” manages to take the different tones set by the previous films and fashion them into one strong voice. Each character remains true to him/her self, clashing with the others at first but eventually finding a common goal to unite.

My biggest fear for the film was that some of the actors would just walk through their roles, hoping to get lost in the crowd. But instead they deliver strong performances across the board as if they were worried they WOULD get lost in the crowd. Downey sets the tone perfectly as Tony Stark/Iron Man. His sarcastic style is still around (he refers to Thor as “Point Break”), but behind that self assuredness lies a man who longs for more than a flashy suit. The other characters are involved in their own things. Besides Iron Man and Thor, we meet Captain America (Evans), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Dr. David Banner (Mark Ruffalo), who has a habit of getting angry and becoming the Hulk. Each maintains the characters they brought to life in previous films, with the exception of Ruffalo. Taking over from Eric Bana and Edward Norton, Ruffalo gives Banner just the right amount of humanity needed to make us care about him. Sure, we want to see him get big and green, but we also know the toll it’s going to take.

The on screen battles are well choreographed and, though they sometimes seem to go on forever, manage to build in excitement. The script, by Whedon and Zak Penn, is clever and full of comments that seem to have been lifted directly from the comic pages. The 3D effects were well rendered and, more importantly, well utilized. And, like in other films, there are a few surprises left over for after the credits.

Film Review “The Avengers”

Directed by: Joss Whedon
Starring: Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Distributed by Walt Disney Pictures
Running time: 143 minutes

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

“The Avengers” was a project that was simply destined to be something amazing. With the brilliant mind of Joss Whedon, writing and directing, it was a sure bet. Of course there was still concerns. “Iron Man 2” was not up to par with the first film and of course everyone has seen the films focusing on The Hulk. “The Avengers” is the best superhero film, might I say ever?! I have never been to a screening where the audience is as engaged in the film. Five times, at least, there was rampant cheering,  clapping and even standing ovations…and that was only during the film let alone when it ended.

Now let’s get to our superheros in “The Avengers”. I was wondering how they were going to split this film over all the superheros that it complied. Well let me tell you they did it perfectly. I would say that Captain America (Evans) was the lead focus in the film, which is ok with me, with Iron Man (Downey Jr.) following in close second.  Both were perfectly in their roles and delivered the best performance yet for their respective characters. I gotta give it to the Hulk (Ruffalo) though for completely stealing the entire movie. I wouldn’t imagine after two disappointing films, but damn was I pleasantly impressed. Chris Hemsworth is just bad-ass as Thor and holds his own. Smaller less-known characters like Scarlett Johansson, playing Agent Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow, and Jeremy Renner, playing Clint Barton aka Hawkeye, definitely play well with the others and kick some ass. Lastly major props need to go to Tom Hiddleston, playing Loki, for sealing the deal as the film’s major villain.  He is one bad son-bitch. Overall though, this cast just shined and really worked as a team.

Joss Whedon is known for his amazing TV work like “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, “Angel” and “Firefly” but he has never had major success theatrically. This film will change all that, he is now a superstar. I really hope that Marvel/Disney allow Joss to follow-up with “The Avengers 2”. He has such a fantastic handle on the series and know exactly what the fans wants to see and delivers it…and more.  The film also run impressively long at almost 2.5 hours, which I wouldn’t have wanted it a minute shorter.  “The Avengers” also not only sums up some of the best visual effects, I have seen in the last few years, it is also FUNNY AS HELL!  That’s right, I mean belly laughs. If the audience wasn’t cheering or sitting on the edge of the chair, they were laughing out loud.  Great job again of perfectly blending the action and comedy of the series.

Let me tell you one thing, whether you like this film or not, if you are a fan of the Marvel Universe you better stay through the credits!!! Holy crap what a great lead-in the the next project in the ever-expanding world that Marvel is creating. Get ready for next year with sequels to both “Iron Man” and “Thor”. This Marvel superhero franchise shows no signs of slowing down and as long as they follow from the lead of “The Avengers”, they will not be able to fail. Thanks again Joss Whedon, you are a God!