No, Avengers Endgame Is Not Fat Shaming

*****SPOILERS FOR ENDGAME*****

You have been warned, if you’re reading this and you’ve not seen Avengers Endgame that’s your fault.

For a number of years I’ve struggled with my weight, wanting to lose it, putting the effort in, shedding a few pounds but ultimately failing for some reason. It’s a frustrating thing to want to do something but losing that momentum after a short while. I became lazy at some point and after 25, it’s piled on. For a long time I was ashamed at this happening to me, constantly blaming myself and the choices I made. Frankly I assumed my friends and family wouldn’t like me as much. What I didn’t realise until later is that I was still the same person. Still the same slightly annoying, funny (in my humble opinion) and chatty nerd I have been for as long as I can remember.

No amount of weight gained or lost will ever change that or how people see me and care about me. The same can be said for Thor, when we first see him in Endgame he’s the hero we’re used to seeing; confident, brooding and muscular. Hemsworth embodies Thor to a point that, like Rober Downey Jr. as Iron Man, there isn’t anyone else you can imagine playing the God of Thunder. It isn’t until later that we see the toll certain events have taken on him. After slicing off Thanos’ head in the first 20 minutes and failing to undo the Snap thanks to the destruction of the stones, each Avenger goes their separate ways. Five years pass when Groot and Banner/Hulk (Bulk?!) pay him a visit at New Asgard. The reveal of an unkempt and heavier Thor was certainly shocking and played for laughs at first, however after this there is a tremendous amount of pain and pathos.

There was a point when Thor was a one note character, the muscular hero who would always vanquish the villain somehow and do it in style. The worst we saw him is when he briefly pined after Jane in Thor: The Dark World only to be reunited with her soon after. Other than that not a hair was out of place on this God of Thunder. Even when his mother died in Thor 2 and then his father in Thor Ragnarok, very little emotion was shown. Not until his third solo outing did we see a slightly different side to him in part thanks to Hemsworth himself as well as director Taika Waititi, both of which wanted to take the character in a different direction. Stripping him of his signature hair, hammer and home did just that. It also gave Hemsworth a chance to show off his comedy chops, something which be clearly has a natural talent for. Then in Infinity War, we see how hard he’s had it during his chat with Rocket (aka rabbit) where he laid out all who had died and how it’ll help him kill Thanos. It didn’t. What it eventually did was push Thor into depression, PTSD and alcoholism. Think about that for a moment, one of the most powerful beings in the universe had severe mental health issues. No matter what caused it, it really can happen to anyone. Power on the outside doesn’t mean power within.

There are a couple of unfortunate comments in Endgame’s three hour runtime such as Rocket calling him tubby and Rhodey claiming he has Cheese Whiz coursing through him. Whilst it feels in character for Rocket, Rhodey’s off handed comment felt very jarring and unnecessarily harsh. Some may argue that this sort of treatment continues throughout Endgame however it seems to lean more on the alcoholic Thor who is suffering from PTSD. He breaks down right after hearing the name Thanos, he is reliant on beer, grabbing Banner with one hand and still clutching a beer in the other. Not only has it taken its toll on his physical form, his mental state has been severely damaged as well. Not killing Thanos when he should have meant half of the universe died, that’s one hell of a burden to bear.

As he continues with his narrative through the film, he’s subjected to other types of name calling including Lebowski but this comes from the nicknaming Tony Stark. Never does it feel like fat shaming. If anything there is a growing concern for Thor starting when we see him after the 5 year time jump, he’s desperate to be who he was as he clings onto his past when he mentions Jane, and that he is the one who killed Thanos. The pain within him comes out as he continues to drink and can barely hold a sentence together struggling to find the words.

There are two key sections which turn things around for him, both of which help him accept who he is rather than who he’s supposed to be. They are the scenes he spends with his mother when travelling back to Asgard in 2013 and the final battle. Seeing her for one last time knowing full well that she was about to die was a blessing for him and that’s how he took it. It’s here that Thor comes to terms with his failures, suffering and grief. Yes he killed Thanos but not when he should have. His death didn’t change anything and it’s this which causes him to retreat inside himself and drink himself into a depressed and bloated state. Some final words of wisdom from his mother (Rene Russo reprising her role) as she reminds him of who he is and that this hasn’t changed despite how difficult it may be to see. One lift of his hand as he summons Mjolnir and realising that he in fact still worthy is a beautiful cherry on top of a perfect scene.

Then the final fight. The one thing that they could have done which would have ruined it is making Thor ab-tastic again. Keeping him at this size is a clear indication this is who he is now, and that no matter how big or small you become, you are always worthy, you are always powerful, you are always mighty. And apparently lightning can plait your beard!

Endgame changed a lot about the MCU and the Avengers, killing off two of the original members, giving Captain America a happy ending and showing us a smart Hulk. The biggest shock and pleasant surprise came in the shape of Thor. Pushing the character into places we had never see him go, having to deal with the toughest time he’s ever had, coming through the other side and joining the Guardians of the Galaxy. A bold move which didn’t involve killing off the character. With Hemsworth reportedly signing on to carry on his Marvel life into Phase 4, as well as his now more developed character it’s nice to know we’ll have a familiar face sticking around.

Keep. It. Reel.

Pop Up Screens Is Back

It’s finally sunny(ish) and for film fans it’s the perfect time to get away from the cold indoor cinema, sit outside…and watch a film! That’s right, outdoor screenings are returning to a large green area near you with the announcement of Pop Up Screen’s line-up of new and classic movies in partnership with Benadryl.

Yes that’s right, it’s time to ditch the indoors, bring your favourite blanket and pick a film or two from choices such as Thor: Ragnarok, Wonder Woman, Academy Award winners The Shape of Water, 3 Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and Get Out along with 2017’s Beauty and the Beast and many more.

There are multiple locations this year, with the additions of Ruskin Park in Denmark Hill, Guildhall,  Canbury Gardens in Kingston and Priory Park in Crouch End, so even more chances to enjoy some amazing movies. Take a look at the selection below and pick out your favourites. You can book your tickets at popupscreens.co.uk.

 

Bishops Park Fulham

Friday 20th July: The Breakfast Club

Saturday 21st July: Dirty Dancing

Sunday 22nd July: Romeo & Juliet

Friday 31st August: Logan

Saturday 1st September: La La Land

Sunday 2nd September: Moulin Rouge!

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Ruskin Park, Denmark Hill

Friday 27th July: Get Out

Saturday 28th July: Grease

Sunday 29th July: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

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Corams Field, Russell Sqaure

Friday 3rd August: (500) Days of Summer

Saturday 4th August: Notting Hill

Sunday 5th August: Cool Runnings

Friday 21st September: Donnie Darko

Saturday 22nd September: Dirty Dancing

Sunday 23rd September: Easy A

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Ravenscourt Park, Hammersmith

Friday 10th August: 10 Things I Hate About You

Saturday 11th August: Beauty and the Beast (2017)

Sunday 12th August: The Greatest Showman

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Guildhall, City of London

Monday 13th August: Wonder Woman

Tuesday 14th August: Thelma & Louise

Wednesday 15th August: Suffragette

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Canbury Gardens, Kingston

Thursday 16th August: The Goonies

Thursday 23rd August: Thor: Ragnarok

Thursday 30th August: Top Gun

Thursday 6th September: 10 Things I Hate About You

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Central Park, Greenwich Peninsula

Friday 17th August: Baby Driver

Saturday 18th August: Bridesmaids

Sunday 19th August: La La Land

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Manor House Gardens, Hither Green

Friday 24th August: The Jungle Book

Saturday 25th August: Dirty Dancing

Sunday 26th August: Ghostbusters

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Priory Park, Crouch End

Friday 7th September: 3 Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Saturday 8th September: The Greatest Showman

Sunday 9th September: Back to the Future

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Paddington Recreation Grounds, Maida Vale

Friday 14th September: Grand Budapest Hotel

Saturday 15th September: The Shape of Water

Sunday 16th September: Pretty Woman

 

Keep. It. Reel.

Marvel Cinematic Universe: What Makes A Good Villain?

Until recently, Marvel has had a serious villain problem in that they were essentially all the same and their goals rarely differed from some form of world destruction and mass death. Besides Loki, this is all they ever wanted which seems odd in such a successful universe where their heroes have been developed to a greater extent.

Loki’s reign of terror, occasional and brief as it’s been stems from knowing he was completely unwanted by his family and adopted, not because of love. But because one man thought it could bridge between two warring civilisations. He was wrong and Loki is soon revealed to be the villain. You can feel and share in his pain when he yells to Odin “TELL ME!” to Odin in Thor. These gut wrenching two words tells us all that we need to know about how he wants to be accepted but knows deep down never will be. Tom Hiddleston’s Shakespearean-esque performance gave Loki the depth required for someone who is a desperate as this and it’s something we’ve not seen much of in the MCU until recently.

So what exactly makes Loki so good at being bad? Why do we all almost side with Kilmmonger’s quest? Is Michael Keaton’s working class villain the perfect portrayal of what we would all do in his shoes? A villain is only as good as what he allows him or herself to be, this is what makes them who they are.

Evil Plot

As I mentioned, a lot of these plots include multiple deaths, destroying as much as possible and an end goal of taking over the world. After seeing this countless times, it has become a derivative plot device for multiple villains. Frankly, it’s boring! It’s where the MCU has suffered greatly, bad guys like Ronan the Accuser (Guardians of the Galaxy) and Malekith (Thor: The Dark World) want control for no real reason besides power plus they weren’t exactly fully fleshed out characters so it just added to he boredom. 

Recently with Killmonger (Black Panther) and Vulture (Michael Keaton) it seems as if the MCU is doing away with these old tropes. Killmonger wanted what was rightfully his in Wakanda and Vulture was a working class man providing for his family whose lively hood was taken away from him from the higher ups. The pair of them were developed in smart quick ways within one film which goes to show that it is possible to do this. You not only have an vested interest in their personal missions, you sympathise with what they are going through and you almost want them to succeed.

Human Characteristics

The reason people love Loki so much isn’t because he’s so terrific at what he does, it’s because he does it with a cheeky grin across his face. Whether he’s concocting a plan, in the middle of a plot he’s hatched or just quipping to irritate someone, he has a sense of fun about it. It’s a personality trait which people gravitate towards, if you’re laid back, relaxed, seemingly happy, then you create more admiration for yourself. This is exactly what Loki does, whilst wanting his plans and schemes to succeed there’s an element of fun. He clearly enjoys being a trickster and despite being a mass murderer, we all still love him. 

Others were comparatively one dimensional, looking at Obadiah Stane (Iron Man), he transcends the norm before going full-on typical villain. He’s been wanting to be in charge of Stark Industries for years and when Howard Stark dies, this should have been shot. But when Tony returns to take over the empire, it thwarts any plans he had. It’s understandable but he then becomes far too generic and whilst his plan isn’t quite world domination, he still wants to rule via death and destruction.

Layered Personality

Having an original plot and some human characteristics will only get you so far. But where do these things come from? What makes you develop that scheme and make you more interesting than most? Well it’s all to do with the bad guy’s personality, it’s what gives each villain something that makes us relate to them. A perfect example of this is Vulture whose main goal is to be the breadwinner for his family. He’s an everyday hard working guy and when it’s taken away from him, it’s hard not to sympathise. Loki being in pain (we mostly see this in Thor and Avengers) is a trait that makes up seem more human. This side of his personality coming from what he’s known about his true parentage all this time. 

These villains are pretty diverse with cathartic performances but the one who, unlike others is understated is Zemo (Captain America: Civil War). He plots to tear the Avengers apart from the inside after his family are killed in Sokovia during the event of Age of Ultron. No doubt that they are to blame, but the best thing about this is how meticulous Zemo is in his plan and the calm manner in which he conducts himself. The complexity of his plot comes to a head with Captain America, Iron Man and Bucky all ending up in one place. It’s smart, ruthless and intentionally cruel. Above all of that, he like the best bad guys is human. He has a relatable tale and Daniel Brühl’s nuanced performance captures what a man can do with patience and determination.

In that all important final battle with your adversary, you need to have some qualities which redeem your character. Aspects about yourself which make you a lot more rounded than your bog standard villain. Killmonger, Loki, Zemo and Vulture all succeed in creating well-rounded, ambitious villains which is what I’m hoping for in Infinity War. We’ll have to find out what Thanos is holding when he comes knocking.

Keep. It. Reel.

Marvel Cinematic Universe: Alternative Artwork

Every time a new Marvel film comes out, the marketing is once again ramped up to an almost ridiculous level. Avengers: Infinity War is no exception with more than 30 posters released so far and another week to go until it’s release, who knows how many more we will see? Frankly I’m hoping none because the quality has been pretty poor. From the ensemble cast posters, the mini team-ups and the digitally enhanced individual images, it’s not hitting the notes which the trailers have.

A lot of the time independent artwork is much better than what we see being launched by the studio. It seems that it’s mainly to do with the fact that multiple people are having their say no matter how little they know about creating something visually pleasing to the eye. Here are just a few examples which are much better than the official posters. If you’d like to see more work like this, each piece has a link to the credited artist below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keep. It. Reel.

Avengers: Infinity War – Trailer Breakdown

It’s been 10 years in the making and when Marvel began with Iron Man in 2008, they had no idea where they were going. However, the consistent success and being able to go deeper with characters by developing their stories more, they have arrived at Infinity War. 

Classically, in the comic books, Civil War is bigger than Infinity War, however they’ve taken a different route when culminating these characters in one film. By the time it’s out, there will have been 18 films part of the MCU something that no one thought would happen. Here’s the trailer, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Beginning with a statement from a number of the Avengers, it’s what Nick Fury said to get his team together in Avengers Assemble, desperately clinging onto what was left of his mostly disbanded team by telling them about a plan to bring together a group of remarkable individuals. A plan known as the Avenger Initiative. Fury, Iron Man, Vision, Thor, Black Widow all share lines from statement, as we see each of them in separate shots. During this montage there’s a human Vision in the form of Paul Bettany with Scarlett Witch, perhaps this is real however it’s more likely that it’s a dream sequence. In the comics they develop a relationship which is heavily hinted at here.

There’s also a confused looking Bruce Banner who seems to have crashed into Sanctum Sanctorum with Doctor Strange and Wong. There’s even a reunion between Banner and Black Widow hinted at, something we all can’t wait for. We then see Wong, Strange, Banner and Tony Stark again in New York’s Sanctum Sanctorum, shortly after Stark leaves and then a brief shot of Peter Parker and his Spidey sense kicking in as he see a round contraption in the skyline. 

Showing war torn streets and then Loki handing over the Tesseract to Thanos who reveals himself just as Spider-Man shows off his new suit which we first saw in Homecoming. Thor shows up, as does Steve Rogers (I have NO idea if I am to call him Captain America any more, should I? Is he Nomad now?? Not a clue!) as he dodges and grabs a spear thrown at him by Proxima Midnight, one of Thanos’ Black Order. It’s a welcome return for Rogers who comes out of the shadows sporting a sexy beard as Black Panther demands that someone gets him a shield.

During the trailer, we see plenty of fights and battles which is what you expect from a film with the word War in the title. There’s a team up including Rogers (long hair flowing as he runs and punches. I think I have a new man crush), Falcon, Okoye, War Machine, Hulk, Black Widow, Bucky and Black Panther an army with them. 

The Hulkbuster armour makes an unexpected reappearance and both Tony and Peter get beaten badly by Thanos himself. It’s a brutal trailer which gets worse for the Avengers as we see Vision’s stone being almost ripped out of his head and Thanos loads his Infinity Gauntlet with just a few stones. No scenes with Stark and Rogers, however it’s assumed that they have kissed and made up by now, but who knows how??

Frankly we see everyone including a brief teaser at the end with Thor with one eye meeting the Guardians of the Galaxy, however a couple of notable absences include Hawkeye and Ant-Man who have been Luke Skywalkered! It’ll be curious to see why they aren’t in the trailer, especially Ant-Man who isn’t in the ComicCon poster either.

All in all it’s a very interesting trailer, showing most of the characters we have all come to love battling Thanos and co. who has a power that they be never come up against before. Deaths of the Avengers, especially in its original line up are to be expected, however whether that’ll happen in 2018’s Infinity War or in the as yet Untitled Avengers 4 out in 2019 remains to be seen. 

The Russo brothers have taken the helm with this being their third MCU film once again working with writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. Avengers: Infinity War is set for an April 27th release in the UK and May 4th in the USA. 

Keep. It. Reel.

Thor: Ragnarok New Images

The previous two stand alone Thor films haven’t been great. They’ve had their moments and given us Tom Hiddelston as Loki, who is so far the best Marvel villain, they’ve just been lacking something. But I’ll say this, the worst MCU films are better than the best DCEU films. Thor: Ragnarok is out towards the end of this year, besides a few details confirmed mainly including cast and characters, we haven’t seen a lot just yet. Until now! 

Yes! Images! Sexy, shiny, new and bloody colourful! Turn the colour pallet down guys, I’m going blind from your disco revival! With a lighter looking movie and Thor’s trademark look of long hair whilst wielding his mighty hammer seemingly gone, what are we to make of what we see? Well there’s a meeting of Thor and Bruce Banner who look very excited, Jeff Goldblum has an interesting get-up with his choice of hair, makeup and clothes and Loki is making his return to the MCU after not being seen since the last Thor film. Yay!

From what we know regarding the story, it certainly sounds different. Thor has to face the Hulk, in order to save his people from Hela, played by Cate Blanchett as seen in one of the images below. It’s yet another way the MCU is cleverly incorporating it’s characters into the stand alone films. With the addition of Doctor Strange played by Benedict Cumberbatch, as well as Karl Urban, Tessa Thompson and Sam Neill joining the crew, it’s going to be a very interesting film. Thor: Ragnarok is due for release in October this year and directed by Taika Waititi.

Keep. It. Reel. 

Doctor Strange set to appear in Thor: Ragnarok 

When the MCU began, it made perfect sense to have stand alone films, with just one protagonist fighting against the odds. However as this universe has developed and grown into what it is today, this can no longer be and Marvel understands this. Black Widow showed up in Iron Man 2 and in Captain America: Winter Soldier, with Falcon making his debut appearance in the later. Next year Spider-Man is teaming up with Iron Man and now it’s been announced that Doctor Strange will be joining Hulk in Thor: Ragnarok.

Benedict Cumberbatch has finally been confirmed for the film in which he is reprising his Stephen Strange character and joining a huge ensemble cast which already includes Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo and Tom Hiddelston. This doesn’t come as too much of a surprise due to the after credits scene in 2016’s Doctor Strange where he and Thor had a chat over a beer. Fans were hopeful to see him appear on the third Thor film and their wish has come true.

Thor: Ragnarok is released in October 2017 and directed by Taika Waititi.

Keep. It. Reel.

SDCC 2016: A Roundup Of Trailers and Posters

The Holy Grail of nerdy / geeky fandom took place over the weekend. SDCC, as ever, delivered a plethora of trailers and posters from up and coming films that we’re all eagerly awaiting. Amongst them, highlights include the Kong: Skull Island trailer, The Lego Batman trailer and a surprise addition from the Justice League. With a few out this year and the rest out next year, we’ll be spoilt for choice when we head to the cinema (and watch our TVs) for quite some time.

SDCC

One day I hope to go myself and enter the legendary Hall H but for now this will do.Take a look at the latest trailers from some great looking movies (and the pointless sequel to Blair Witch) and see which is your favourite.

The Justice League trailer came out of nowhere and blew a lot of people away. Its introduction of new characters seemed to work well, plus an added dash of humour is something that’s needed in a film like this. Maybe this will right the wrongs of Batman v Superman.

From one Flash to another. The Flash Season 3 trailer was released as well. Basically DC have put out a lot! We’ll see what’s in store for The Flash this time around, but so far, the TV show has been very good. We’ll see who plays the character better though, Grant Gustin or Ezra Miller.

Wonder Woman poster

The Wonder Woman trailer looks like we will finally get a strong female-led superhero movie. It’s been attempted before but unfortunately they have fallen short. Wonder Woman was one of Batman v Superman’s saving graces, she was powerful, interesting, badass and likeable. It looks like the film will live up to its expectations.

One too many trailers for Suicide Squad now. It’s out on 5th August, less than two weeks away. We did not need this trailer, once again far too many trailers and clips have been released for a film. Stick them altogether and you’ll have most of the film. Anyway, I’m still looking forward to this film, even if we have seen more than we should have.

Blair Witch sequel. Just fuck off.

King Arthuer

King Arthur by Guy Ritchie looks like blokey, gritty, dirty movie.  So, pretty typical Ritchie, which is never a bad thing. Charlie Hunnam, of Sons of Anarchy fame, takes the lead as King Arthur along with a couple of Game of Thrones actors. Due out next year.

Kong

Kong: Skull Island looks considerably better than I would have expected, it’s what the King deserves. The ever-awesome Tom Hiddleston, along with Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson and John Goodman, pretty impossible to be shit with that cast. A truly stunning looking King Kong which is leading up to Godzilla vs. Kong!

Lego Batman

Back in black and yellow, he’s here and with a sidekick son who he adopted. Yeah. The Lego Batman movie was announced a while ago and they very quickly released two very short trailers. We finally have a full-length trailer to salivate over. It’s wonderfully funny and Will Arnett is a perfect Batman. 2017 can’t come quickly enough.

From The Lego Batman to pre-Dark Knight. Gotham’s season 3 trailer has been released and it’s a long one. Plus it features the new DC logo, I prefer the old one but oh well. The show has received mixed reviews but the latest trailer is looking great!

The Walking Dead season 6 ended on the biggest cliff-hanger in the shows history. Negan brought the gang together in a cruel and twisted way. They are currently on their knees, awaiting their fate. When we will find out who caught the end of Lucille is anyone’s guess (we know what the show’s like, leaving us hanging as they did when Glen fell into that crowd of walkers, cruel!) But it’s not too long to wait, with the seventh season the premiere in October.

And the Harry Potter fandom continues. The latest trailer for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was shown to the Comic Con audience this weekend. It’s what you’d expect and more from the creators of one of the world’s biggest movie franchises. Eddie Redmayne is the playing lead character Newt Scamander who, in the Harry Potter universe, wrote the book from the book. Confused? Good.

Whilst I’m not sure about his accent, I’m certain that Benedict Cumberbatch will bring it as he always does. He stars as Doctor Stranger, in the second trailer for Marvel’s next film part of their MCU. It’s looking like a Nolan-esque movie with elements of Inceptions and Batman Begins seen in this and the first trailer. Check it out here.

Defenders

The Defenders consists of Dare Devil, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist and Luke Cage. It’s like an Avengers TV show but with a much better female character. And darker. It’s interesting how Marvel have gone dark for their TV shows but kept their movies relatively light. Either way, it’s working. Luke Cage is brilliant in Jessica Jones and rightly so getting his own show. Iron Fist says it all in the name. Yet another Game of Thrones actor moving from one franchise to another. I’m really looking forward to this, it’s yet another smart move by Marvel to develop these characters and bring them together on the small screen instead of more movies. We’ll see how these go.

The long-awaited X-Men live action TV series is finally coming and it looks alright. Not great but we’ll see. Always have faith in Marvel. Starring Aubrey Plaza and Dan Stevens, yet another TV show from Marvel, which is due out next year.

Black PantherCaptain MarvelGuardiansThor

spiderman

Marvel have launched several posters and one image of upcoming MCU movies we can expect to see in the future. One of the biggest pieces of news comes in the form of Captain Marvel. Brie Larson from Room has been announced to be taking that role. She will feature in Infinity Wars and have her own solo movie after that. Footage was shown from Thor: Ragnarok but hasn’t been released any where else just yet. The above image shows concept art of Spider-Man going toe to toe with The Vulture, confirmation that he will be in the new Spider-Man film. With these plus Black Panther, Guardians 2 and several other projects in the pipeline, it looks like the studio isn’t slowing down.

I’ll leave you with their newest intro for Marvel Studios.

Keep. It. Reel.

 

Alternative posters by Olly Moss

Empire Magazine have a regular feature with the artist Olly Moss, have a look at his brilliant artwork of alternative film posters. Superb work! Click here for more work on his site. Hope you love it!