Natalie Portman Is Returning To The MCU To Play Female Thor

While Natalie Portman was an important player in the first two Thor movies as Jane Foster, astrophysicist and the God of Thunder’s love interest, outside of a cameo in Avengers: Endgame (which used pre-existing footage and new audio), the actress has been absent from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But that’s now changed, because in the upcoming Thor: Love and Thunder, Jane will follow in her comic book counterpart’s footsteps and become the new Thor.

The MCU Has Cast Its Shang-Chi

One of the new characters being introduced to the Marvel Cinematic Universe during Phase 4 is Shang-Chi, the martial artist extraordinaire who was introduced to the printed page in 1973. Word came in at the end of last year that Shang-Chi was getting his own movie, and seven months later, it’s been announced that Simu Liu will bring the character to life on the big screen.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings opens in theaters on February 12, 2021, so stay tuned to CinemaBlend for more updates on its development.

Bruce Campbell Shoots Down A Major Rumor About Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man Series

The current Spider-Man movie, Spider-Man: Far From Home, pits ol’ web-head against the menacing Mysterio, aka Quentin Beck. He’s played by Jake Gyllenhaal in the Jon Watts-directed sequel. But a persistent rumor has circulated around the World Wide Web that Bruce Campbell almost played Mysterio in a big-screen Spider-Man sequel for Sam Raimi.

Raimi had major plans for Spider-Man 4 – he directed the first three Spider-Man movies with Tobey Maguire in the lead role – and storyboards have shown that the director wanted Mysterio and The Vulture to be his villains. That much has been confirmed over the years, though when we had the chance to ask Campbell if he actually was set to play Mysterio for his old friend Raimi, he cut that off at the pass, explaining to CinemaBlend:

Well, there goes that idea.

Obviously, Bruce Campbell has been a major component to the three existing Spider-Man movies, playing: the ring announcer who gives Peter Parker (Maguire) his name; the usher who prevents Peter from getting into Mary Jane Watson’s play, because he arrives too late, and; a French matire’d who gives Peter proposal advice.

The chatter had been that Sam Raimi wanted to give Bruce Campbell a meatier role in Spider-Man 4, though the part was never revealed. In talking to Campbell, he made it crystal clear that the part was never Mysterio, and he didn’t seem to know who he would have played if Raimi’s fourth Spider-Man came to pass.

It didn’t. Fans were frustrated by Spider-Man 3, and the way that Raimi botched Venom and Sandman. And Sony decided that they needed to go in a new direction. That led to Marc Webb crafting two Amazing Spider-Man movies. And those led to Sony lending a new Spider-Man (Tom Holland) to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, where he fought against Mysterio in Spider-Man: Far From Home. It looked like this:

Bruce Campbell isn’t Mysterio, but he IS the host of the Travel Channel’s renovation of Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, which is giving a larger platform to unique and magnificent individuals. Here he is promoting that new show, as well as talking the Mysterio that never was.

If you want to see a real Mysterio, head to theaters and check out Jon Watts’ Spider-Man: Far From Home.

Zack Snyder Reveals Wonder Woman Killed Steppenwolf In His Justice League

2017’s Justice League was poorly received by a majority of both critics and audiences. Its disappointment led Warner Bros’ DC universe to take another trajectory more focused on the origin stories of adapted comic characters, rather than team-ups and interconnected storylines. However, there’s still a huge following of fans stuck on Zack Snyder’s DCEU vision, namely the unreleased “Snyder Cut” of Justice League.

Warner Bros. doesn’t seem to have plans to release the alternative version of the project before it was handed off to Joss Whedon. This hasn’t stopped Zack Snyder from offering fans inside looks into some of his original vision, and the filmmaker has just revealed a new detail. Wonder Woman was to decapitate Steppenwolf at the end of Justice League because he uses “Gods to kill Gods.”

Check out the inside look into the cut scene from Zack Snyder’s Vero account:

As you can see, Zack Snyder captioned his post, “Not sure how they killed Steppenwolf in the theatrical version of JL this was never finished all the way but I use Gods to kill Gods.”

The former Justice League director says the shots were never completely finished, but Gal Gadot’s character charging at the villain seconds before he enters the Boom Tube at the end of the film was what he had planned for the film’s big finish. Instead, the whole team defeat him and he retreats to the Boom Tube to leave Earth while being attacked by parademons.

Part of this epic shot of Wonder Woman was used in the final cut of Justice League, however it was for a moment when she destroys Steppenwolf’s ax instead. The final battle was reportedly changed around a ton to keep the continuity for Henry Cavill’s CGI-ed fresh face.

This post from Zack Snyder also reveals two telling bits of information: a) Snyder hasn’t seen Justice League and b) not all pieces of his version were finished. The latter has been speculated over the years as the #ReleaseTheSynderCut movement has grown, but this makes it clear that the “Snyder Cut” being called for has never completely come to fruition.

Zack Snyder has also previously revealed details about the appearance of Steppenwolf’s master Darkseid having a role in the film, along with more screen time for Cyborg. At this year’s San Diego Comic Con, the movement in favor of the “Snyder Cut” raised enough money for a bus stop advertisement to be near the convention, along with a plane flying over with the message “WB #ReleaseTheSnyderCut of Justice League,” along with a billboard and The Hollywood Reporter ad.

Half of the donations to the cause went to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, since Zack Snyder left Justice League after his daughter took her own life. While it’s unclear whether fans will ever see Snyder’s version of the film as he moves to other projects, such as an anime with Netflix, seeing these behind the scenes pieces of the project is certainly interesting.

Would you have liked to see Wonder Woman defeat Steppenwolf in Snyder’s Justice League? Sound off in the comments below!

Jon Favreau Is Still Emotionally Affected By The Lion King’s Most Devastating Scene

The Lion King is here and already making box office roars… and it’s the Mufasa kind. Moviegoers are flocking to relive one of Disney’s most beloved films, along with one of cinema’s most memorably heartbreaking scenes. You know the one… much because it gets us every time, and to some (where my ‘90s kids at?) it may have been our first introduction to death.

In the three years the photo-realistic Lion King remake has been in development, director Jon Favreau has looked over the pridelands-set reimagining tirelessly, including the most devastating scene between Mufasa and Simba. Is he still affected by the scene after helming the summer blockbuster? Here’s what he told CinemaBlend’s own Eric Eisenberg:

Jon Favreau’s thoughts certainly show the powerful impact the classic death scene can have on people, since he found himself affected by it after being part of the meticulous orchestration of recrafting the scene, along with reimagining the rest of the 1994 original in cutting-edge CGI animation. Here are his words:

Amazing! I believe it. It would be interesting to see if the emotional gut-punch of a scene is as effective without Hans Zimmer’s masterful score, because wow does his music in this movie make us feel… everything. Jon Favreau watched the scene progress from pencil drawings to visually realistic scenes in Lion King, which was also shot in virtual reality to cater to the 3D experience. He continued:

The director previously admitted to being nervous at the Los Angeles world premiere since he had not screened it to audiences before that night with all the cast in attendance. He was suddenly worried they wouldn’t like it and said his fingers were digging into his wife’s wrist until Timon and Pumbaa put him at ease.

The film has inspired middle of the road reviews from critics as The Lion King has a Rotten Tomato Score of 55%, about half as much as the original’s 93%. Audiences on the other hand have given it love with a score of 89%, just a couple points away from the animated film’s 93%. The movie has already scored $270 million worldwide and could very well hit $500 million by the end of the weekend.

What did you think of the new Lion King? Did you bawl your eyes out all over again at Mufasa’s death? Sound off in the comments below.

New Ad Astra Featurette Celebrates The Apollo 11 Moon Landing

On July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 brought us to the moon. Exactly 50 years later, the filmmakers behind Brad Pitt‘s upcoming sci-fi movie Ad Astra honored the historic milestone while also sharing a featurette on the movie. “Ad Astra” means “To the stars,” as film director James Gray notes in the video. Watch him talk more about the history of space travel, tying it to the September 2019 movie, in this video:

As you can see, the 20th Century Fox sneak peek includes some footage from the movie. Ad Astra follows astronaut Roy McBride (Brad Pitt), who travels to the outer edges of the solar system to find his missing father, Clifford McBride (Tommy Lee Jones). His journey unravels a mystery that threatens the survival of our planet, uncovering secrets that challenge the nature of human existence and our place in the cosmos. The biggest of big picture stuff!

Ad Astra filmed in 2017 and was previously scheduled for release in January 2019, and then May 2019. The first trailer came out in June ahead of the film’s new release date this September 20. Ad Astra has been somewhat under-the-radar through the blockbuster parade of 2019 so far, but perhaps that will make it all the more intriguing to fans.

Ad Astra also stars Liv Tyler as Roy McBride’s wife, and co-stars Donald Sutherland, Ruth Negga, and Jamie Kennedy. A second trailer for the movie was just released in mid-July, showing more of the sci-fi film:

Back in April 2017, director James Gray told Collider he was terrified of the challenge he had set for himself to make Ad Astra:

Space travel movies can be hit or miss with critics and audiences. Not every movie is 2001, Apollo 13, Gravity, The Martian, Interstellar, etc. Last year’s First Man was a hit with critics, but the Ryan Gosling film only made $45 million at the domestic box office. Sean Penn’s Hulu series The First — following the first human mission to Mars — was cancelled last year after one season.

Before Brad Pitt leads Ad Astra, we’ll see him on the big screen opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, which opens in theaters in the U.S. on July 26. Ad Astra will be in theaters on September 20.

Could Thanos Return To The MCU? Markus And McFeely Weigh In

Thanos holding his giant blade in Avengers Endgame

Following six years of build-up, Thanos made quite an impression on Marvel fans when he finally got his time in the spotlight across both Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. Not only is the character simply visually impressive – brought to life with some of the most incredible visual effects ever featured in a blockbuster – but he is also both a compelling psychological foe, and a dangerously violent one.

Now, however, it seems as though his time on the big screen might be done. The Mad Titan was killed not just once, but twice in Avengers: Endgame, and given that the second time was because of the Infinity Stones it doesn’t seem like there is a wide-open door for him to return. This may be seen as sad news by a significant segment of the movie-going populace, but in the minds of screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, it’s probably for the best that he doesn’t come back.

The subject of Thanos’ potential return was one that CinemaBlend’s own Sean O’Connell brought up with the filmmakers this week during an interview at San Diego Comic-Con, and while the writing pair can understand why some people might want to see the big bad make a comeback, it’s not something they are exactly dying to see happen. Stephen McFeely noted that there are certainly ways that it could be done, particularly because there is an infinite multiverse that exists in canon, but he doesn’t love the idea of what that move would potentially mean for the stories that already exist, or the how non-diehard fans may react:

It totally depends on your opinion of the multiverse and how you’re going to go forward with the idea of using characters who are gone, right? Certainly, comic book readers are pretty down with that. ‘Any way you can give me that character, give it to me.’ My grandmother’s not down with that. She knows Tony died. She knows that Thanos died. ‘Why is he back?’ … So the question becomes, what path will Marvel take going forward? I love the idea that things matter. They stick, and you don’t get a lot of get out of jail free cards.

Of course, this is a conflict with which Marvel Studios is super familiar, as there are past examples of characters coming back from the dead in the Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise (in fact, there are many, many, many of them in Avengers: Endgame). Each time it happens, though, it does have an impact on the stakes of the storytelling, as it’s hard to feel the full impact of a hero or villains’ death in the moment if you’re simultaneously aware of the fact that the franchise might eventually bring them back to life.

It’s not a card that can be overplayed, so when it comes to Thanos, it may be best to keep him in the dust state in which he currently exists.

All that being said, Stephen McFeely did throw a caveat into the mix – which is the fact that he has unending faith in the mind an maneuvers of Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige. While he is personally unsure if bringing Thanos back would be a good idea, he is also of the mind that if Feige has a way to get it done, it will work. Said the screenwriter,

I will give you that if anybody can do it, it’s Kevin [Feige]. Because Kevin, for the last 10 years, has already kind of trained an audience to expect more, to expect weirder, to stick around through the credits. Think of all the things that we do now that we didn’t do 10 years ago. So I don’t put anything past him.

Christopher Markus added in a good point as well. After noting that you could potentially bring Thanos back in a “very weird esoteric way” given the fact that he is “an existential, philosophical character,” he added that the juice may not necessarily be worth the squeeze. After all, the pages of Marvel Comics are filled with hundreds if not thousands of villains who have yet to make their debuts in live-action, and it might just be in Marvel Studios’ best interest to explore new avenues rather than resurrecting dead characters just because they are popular. In Markus’ own words,

There’s also a vast universe of villains there and you don’t want to just keep bringing the same guy back and punching him in the face.

You can watch Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely discuss the potential return of Thanos, as well as much more about the making of Avengers: Endgame, by clicking play on the full interview below!

Do you think Marvel Studios should bring back Thanos, or would you be more happy to see them go off in new directions in Phase Four and beyond? Answer our poll below, and hit the comments section with your thoughts.

And for those of you dying to see Avengers: Endgame again, the movie is not only still playing in theaters worldwide, but will soon be making its way to the home video market. The 22nd Marvel Cinematic Universe release will be available for digital download on July 30th, and will be released on 4K, Blu-ray, and DVD on August 13th.

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Keanu Reeves Gave One Fan A Breathtaking Gift While Filming Bill And Ted 3

In a big world full of sometimes disappointing franchises and nightmarish CGI cats, we can always depend on one man in Hollywood to put that frown right upside down. Keanu. Reeves. The John Wick star has been having an incredibly busy year jumping from set to set, but that won’t stop him from taking a little time out of his day to remind someone how breathtaking they are. Take a look:

As Bill & Ted Face the Music writer Ed Solomon tweeted out, while on the way to the set of the upcoming comedy, they came across this “You’re Breathtaking!” sign out on someone’s lawn. Keanu Reeves stopped to sign “You’re Breathtaking!” back in red pen, along with his signature.

Some New Orleans fans may have been aware that the Bill & Ted sequel was being filmed around their neighborhood and posted the sign out in their front yard with the hope that Keanu Reeves would notice. How excellent that he did!

The saying is a reference to a viral video starring Keanu Reeves, from when he made a surprise appearance at gaming convention E3 to promote Cyberpunk 2077. While explaining how the feeling of “walking the streets of the future is really going to be breathtaking” in the game, someone in the massive crowd shouted out the phrase on the sign back to him before Keanu said “You’re all breathtaking!”

If you’d like to see the appearance in full context, check out the video below:

Hey, Keanu if you’re thinking of running for president (and thus healing the world), you already have the perfect tagline followers are already rooting in their lawns! A potential prequel to Cyberpunk 2077 could be Reeves 2020? Just look at all these Keanu enthusiasts at Comic-Con:

Otherwise, the actor has been shooting Bill & Ted Face the Music since the beginning of July, ahead of its summer 2020 release. After almost 30 years, Alex Winter’s Bill and Keanu Reeves’ Ted will return to the big screen, this time as middle-aged men with daughters of their own. They are visited by a citizen from the future who tells them their music will save the world.

Brigette Lundy-Paine will play Ted’s daughter Billie and Samara Weaving plays BIll’s daughter Thea. They cleverly have names inspired by their father’s best friend. The Bill & Ted sequel also stars William Sadler back as Death, Anthony Carrigan as an undisclosed villain, Jayma Mays as Bill’s wife, Princess Joana, Erinn Hayes as Ted’s wife, Princess Elizabeth and SNL’s Beck Bennett as Ted’s younger brother.

Keanu Reeves has been having a huge summer as he’s starred in John Wick 3, Toy Story 4 and Always Be My Maybe and the hearts of the internet’s obsession. He’ll return to his early role in Bill & Ted Face the Music on August 21, 2020.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 Is Expected To Continue Gamora’s Alternate Timeline Storyline

The events of Avengers: Endgame created an alternate timeline, one that allowed some dead characters to “return.” I’m not talking about the dusted folks. I’m talking about the definitively dead characters who died pre-Snap. I put “return” in quotation marks because the original versions of these characters perished before Thanos killed half the universe in Avengers: Infinity War, excluding them entirely from the temporal rescue attempt which comprises most of the film. These characters included Loki, Vision, Heimdall, and, most tragically, Gamora. Thrown from the top of a rocky cliff on Vormir by her adoptive father Thanos, Gamora was easily the character who was dealt the cruelest blow.

However, by the time the credits roll on Endgame, we’re left with a version of Gamora created when the Avengers traveled back in time. Now, if recent comments are to be believed, her story will continue in the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. It’s fairly predictable, but it’s cleverly executed and makes her return more organic and believable. We all knew it would happen. We just didn’t know how.

And we still don’t know how. But we do know a bit more about where the writers’ heads are at regarding her return to the franchise. At this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, Avengers: Endgame writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely not only confirmed that Gamora survived Iron Man’s snap, but also hinted at her possible return in Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 3. The character wasn’t dusted like her despotic father, whom we knew was pretty dang dead after Tony Stark sacrificed himself to save the universe.

This all makes perfect sense, especially considering the fact that a Guardians sequel without one of its most important characters wouldn’t feel right. And Peter Quill needs to be an idiot in more ways than one, and what better way to do that than to bring back his smarter, more competent love interest? (Assuming alternate timeline Gamora is even his love interest.) Sorry, Peter. You done goofed when you punched Thanos in the head repeatedly and basically killed everybody.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 may also add Chris Hemsworth’s Thor, whom Drax star Dave Bautista said would be a perfect fit for the new film. Even Hemsworth himself wants to return. The film will mark James Gunn’s triumphant return to the MCU after the whole Twitter fiasco that went down around this time last year.

Avengers: Endgame is now playing in theaters. It’s really good so if you haven’t had the chance to catch it, now may be the best time. Mark Ruffalo even said so. But it’s leaving theaters soon. That’s if it’s not already gone where you are.

Dark Phoenix Is Being Rebranded For Its Home Release

Dark Phoenix took a page from Logan‘s book and just went with its own standalone title for release in theaters. But that’s pretty much where the Logan similarities end. When Dark Phoenix arrives on digital and disc this September, it will make its status as an X-Men film much more clear.

Dark Phoenix is back to X-Men: Dark Phoenix for its September 3 digital release and September 17 arrival on Blu-ray and DVD. The words X-Men are prominent in the packaging, in case the X-factor wasn’t clear. Also, presumably, the rebranding aims to entice more people to pick up the film — collect the whole set, now that the X-Men film franchise as we know it is over.

X-Men: Dark Phoenix is the sequel to X-Men: Apocalypse (which was always called that, never just Apocalypse, which would’ve made it sound like a generic disaster movie). It’s also the 12th movie in the X-Men series that started with X-Men back in 2000. Along the way, only five movies removed X-Men from the title — The Wolverine in 2013, Deadpool in 2016, Logan in 2017, Deadpool 2 in 2018, and now Dark Phoenix in 2019.

It may seem like a minor thing to rebrand the movie for the home release, but this could be X-Men: Dark Phoenix‘s last chance to pick up some money. With just over $250 million in global box office receipts, that’s not expected to cover the full cost of both making the film and releasing/marketing it around the world. Dark Phoenix was even a bigger box office bomb than Fox’s ill-fated Fantastic Four movie.

All in all, it was not the most impressive way to end the X-Men film franchise as we know it, and not the best way to walk through the Disney door. But fans are hopeful for the Marvel Comics characters themselves. What will the future hold for them in the MCU? We shall see. We won’t see anytime soon, though.

In case you’re curious, here are Fox‘s listed special features for X-Men: Dark Phoenix on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, and Digital HD:

Dark Phoenix may have struggled at the box office in part because fans didn’t feel compelled to rush out and see it at the theater. But will they watch it at home through the digital release or on disc? What’s your take? Have you already seen the movie in theaters? Will you check out X-Men: Dark Phoenix‘s home release or not?