ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY – Black Widow never has it easy.

Onscreen, Natasha Romanov has an agonizing backstory and is working like hell to do enough good to erase the red from her moral ledger, redeeming a history of bad deeds that we are only allowed to imagine with acts of heroism that defy belief.

Offscreen, much of what Scarlett Johansson’s character does is scrutinized through the lens of gender politics. As one of the few female protagonists in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (until recently), some view her not just as an individual character but as a representative for all womankind. That’s heavy lifting even for a superhero.

Amid accusations that her story arc in Avengers: Age of Ultron was stereotyped and offensive — because, like Tony Stark, she expressed a desire to step back from saving the world (and maybe find someone in it to love, and love her back) — Black Widow became a lightning rod.

Some accused writer-director Joss Whedon of sexism for a storyline that involved Widow developing romantic feelings for Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner in the comic-book version of the Beauty and the Beast folktale. Others were outraged that Widow expressed regret over the juvenile assassin program that forced her to be sterilized. Still others took offense at that complaint, saying the desire to have a family doesn’t mean a woman can’t have a career (beating the hell out of evildoers, or otherwise).

NPR’s pop culture critic Linda Holmes astutely noted that even if you swapped out Widow’s story in Ultron with the arcs of any of her male co-Avengers, each would still “raise questions of whether the story was influenced by gender stereotypes.” If she was Iron Man, she’d be the problem-causer. If she was Captain America, she’d be the uptight one. If she was Hulk, she’d have out-of-control emotions. And so on…

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Labels: Articles and Interviews, Captain America: Civil War, Projects

DEADLINE – Sam Riley is in early talks to star in DreamWorks’ Ghost In The Shell opposite Scarlett Johansson. No deal has been set yet and the situation is still fluid, but there is a desire from both sides for one to get made. Rupert Sanders (Snow White And The Huntsman) is directing with Paramount on board to co-finance the film, which is based on the bestselling Japanese sci-fi franchise.

The story follows a female special ops cyborg (Johansson) who leads a fictional counter-cyberterrorist organization called Public Security Section 9 for Hanka Robotics. The unit is devoted to stopping the most dangerous criminals and extremists, led by The Laughing Man (Riley) who will stop at nothing to destroy Hanka’s advancements in cyber technology. Johansson’s Lucy co-star Pilou Asbæk is also on-board to co-star.

Avi Arad and Steven Paul are producing from a script by Jonathan Herman. Michael Costigan, Jeffrey Silver, Tetsu Fujimura and Mitsuhisa Ishikawa are exec producing.

Riley is currently set to star in SS:GB, the Len Deighton adaptation that James Bond scribes Neil Purvis and Robert Wade have written. German director Philipp Kadelbach, who won plaudits and awards including the International Emmy for German World War II miniseries Generation War, is set to direct. The project, which is being exec produced by Sid Gentle’s Sally Woodward Gentle and produced by Patrick Schweitzer (Doctor Who), is set up at the BBC.

Riley is repped by Tavistock Wood Management and WME. He next stars in Ben Wheatley’s Free Fire, which Martin Scorsese is exec producing and stars Brie Larson; and Burr Steers’ Pride And Prejudice And Zombies opposite Lily James.

Labels: Ghost in the Shell, Projects

At long last, the first trailer for Hail, Caesar! has been released–and it looks great! The Coen Brothers film is due for release on February 5, 2016 and the impressive cast includes George Clooney, Channing Tatum, Josh Brolin, Ralph Fiennes, Jonah Hill, Alden Ehrenreich, and Frances McDormand. Scarlett’s character is DeeAnna Moran, and some background on her character can be found in the synopsis below. I’m sure this will be a great role for her.

In 1950s Hollywood, Eddie Mannix is Capital Pictures’ head of physical production and, most importantly, the studio fixer. His job is to maintain the clean reputation of the company and its stars, keeping them free from controversy. Mannix is advised that studio star Baird Whitlock has disappeared after not showning up for work on the current production of “Hail Caesar, a Tale of Christ’s Life.” He initially believes Whitlock has been drinking, but receives a call from a group of communists who claim to have kidnapped him and want a ransom. As Mannix gathers the cash, he simultaneously deals with an unhappy director who is working on another project, while innocent young starlet DeeAnna Moran is pregnant and unmarried. Mannix must handle all of this while keeping the gossip columnists off the scent. When Mannix is approached by an aviation company with an offer of a less-hectic, and rather lucrative, job, he must ultimately determine his true skills and passions.

Labels: Hail, Caesar!, Projects

Beautiful! Next spring will be a busy time for Scarlett with not only The Jungle Book, but also her role in Captain America: Civil War (which is due for a May release) to promote. Those at D23 were treated to footage of Scarlett in both films, but unfortunately, it seems she was not in attendance at the event.

IGN – A new poster for Jon Favreau’s version of The Jungle Book was revealed by Disney today at the D23 Expo. It shows Ben Kingsley’s Bagheera staring down a curios Mowgli, played by Neel Sethi. Take a look below. The Jungle Book premiers April 2016.

Disney revealed some new footage as well, showing Bill Murray singing Bear Necessities under his breath, and the big reveal of Christopher Walken as King Louie, Kingsley as Bagheera, Idris Elba as Shere Khan and Scarlett Johansson as Kaa.

Labels: Gallery Updates, Projects, The Jungle Book

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY – Marvel Studios kicked off Disney’s D23 Expo on Saturday with a tease of its upcoming clash of the titans, Captain America: Civil War, in which the red, white, and blue good-guy battles the red and gold good-guy Iron Man over who should control the fate of superpowered beings.

10:48 a.m. Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige takes the stage, recalling being at the first D23 in 2009, where they teased the ambitious plan to unite their characters in a shared universe. “Today, 2015, I stand here, and we have now completed Phase 2 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and I want to say think you,” he said. “So the question is what am I going to talk about today. It seems to make sense … to talk about the beginnings of Phase 3.”

10:50 a.m. “The first one I’m going to talk about today is Doctor Strange,” Feige said. “The goal is to continue expanding what a comic book movie is, what the Marvel Cinematic Universe is. The comics traverse these dimensions, and film by film, we try to do that in a cinematic way,” Feige said.

Tilda Swinton is playing The Ancient One, and Chiwetel Ejiofor is co-starring as Mordo, while—everyone knows—Benedict Cumberbatch will be the good doctor. “He’s an extraordinary character, brings in a whole other dimension—hmm, multiple dimensions—to the Marvel universe,” Cumberbatch said in a video intro. He promised a “mind-blowing experience… Girls, cars, explosions, astral projection into multiple realms. The usual.”

10:53 a.m. Doctor Strange doesn’t start shooting until November, so there’s no footage to show, Feige says. But he is reluctant to appear before people who camped out all night for the panel empty handed. Here comes a collection of concept art.

10:55 a.m. Images in the concept art reel reveal the classic origin story: a wounded surgeon seeking alternate ways to heal his destroyed hands finds his way to a mystical Eastern sanctuary that leads him to an order that holds the keys to another dimension.

10:56 a.m. “It’s going to be as satisfying as any movie made, and as weird as any movie we’ve made,” Feige says.

10:58 a.m. Doctor Strange will be the second movie in Phase 3, so Feige shifts now to the first film in the line-up: Captain America: Civil War.

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Labels: Captain America: Civil War, Projects

With news being a little slow of late, I have added some missing screen captures from Scarlett’s role in An American Rhapsody–a film that I had not seen until now. Scarlett gives a memorable performance as Hungarian-born Zsuzsi (Suzanne), who was left behind when her parents (Tony Goldwyn and Nastassja Kinski) fled to the USA with her elder sister. Now, reunited with her family and living in California, the film follows Zsuzsi’s life as a teenager, her rebellion, uncertainty and strained relationship with her mother. She decides to travel back to Hungary to uncover her past, and visit those who took care of her as a child. I’m sure many of you have seen this one, but if you haven’t, it’s definitely worth a watch. Enjoy the captures!


Labels: An American Rhapsody, Gallery Updates, Projects

I’ve added some new photos of Scarlett on the set of Captain America: Civil War in Atlanta yesterday (May 14).

Labels: Captain America: Civil War, Gallery Updates, Projects

LOS ANGELES TIMES – Avengers: Age of Ultron” proved its box-office might with an estimated $187.7-million launch in the U.S. and Canada–the second-best domestic opening weekend ever–but may have fallen short of No. 1 because of a boxing match.

Going into the weekend, the Disney Studios/Marvel film, which cost $250 million to make, had been tracking to debut between $190 million and $230 million, giving it decent odds at breaking the $207.4-million record set by “The Avengers” in 2012.

The studio, however, adjusted its expectations on Saturday evening given several major competing events, including the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Manny Pacquiao “fight of the century” in Las Vegas that kept some potential moviegoers in front of TV sets instead.

“Between the boxing match, NHL and NBA playoffs, the Kentucky Derby … looks like folks were distracted,” said Dave Hollis, Disney’s head of distribution. “But the second-biggest opening in history of movie business is something to be proud of and also just the beginning of what we expect to be a spectacular run.”

“Age of Ultron” is the biggest debut for a sequel, coming in ahead of the $174.1-million opening weekend for “Iron Man 3” in May 2013. If “Age of Ultron” can get fans who missed opening weekend to turn out at theaters in Week 2, the film has a shot of duplicating the success of the first “Avengers” installment, which went on to make $1.5 billion worldwide.

Directed by Joss Whedon, “Age of Ultron” follows superheroes Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) as they battle against technological villain Ultron (James Spader). Elizabeth Olsen and Aaron Taylor-Johnson also star in the film as twins Wanda and Pietro Maximoff.

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Labels: Avengers: Age of Ultron, Projects
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