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Mad Max: Fury Road

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George Miller’s “Mad Max” films didn’t just make Mel Gibson
a star—they completely transformed post-apocalyptic entertainment with their
visceral stunt work and singular vision of an increasingly desperate future.
Three decades after the last film, the oft-maligned “Mad Max Beyond
Thunderdome,” Miller finally returns to this desolate landscape for the
highly-anticipated “Mad Max: Fury Road,” recasting the title role in the
grizzled visage of Tom Hardy and upping the stakes with promises of vehicular
mayhem on a level commensurate with what modern CGI audiences have come to
expect.

From its very first scenes, “Fury Road” vibrates with the
energy of a veteran filmmaker working at the top of his game, pushing us
forward without the cheap special effects or paper-thin characters that have so
often defined the modern summer blockbuster. Miller hasn’t just returned with a
new installment in a money-making franchise. The man who re-wrote the rules of
the post-apocalyptic action genre has returned to show a generation of
filmmakers how they’ve been stumbling in their attempts to follow in his
footsteps.

Who was more crazy?
Me, or everyone else?
” In “Mad Max: Fury Road,” Miller has pushed his
Gilliam-esque vision of a world gone mad to its logical extreme. No longer are
the people of Max Rockatansky’s world merely scavengers for oil or power; they
have been transformed into creatures of circumstance, either left with one
defining need or left without any semblance of reason. “Fury Road” is a violent
film, but the violent acts in this world don’t feel like arbitrary action
beats—they emerge from a complete lack of other options or a firm sense of
straight-up insanity. Miller’s new vision of Max isn’t a warrior. Rather, he’s
a man driven by the memories of past sins to do little more than survive. He
walks with the ghosts of those he couldn’t save, and his traveling companions
have pushed him to the brink of sanity.

While wandering at this edge, Max is kidnapped and transformed
into a literal blood bag for a feral warrior named Nux (Nicholas Hoult), who
serves the whims of his maniacal ruler, Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne, who
also played the villain Toecutter in the original “Mad Max”). From the start,
Miller gives you no time to “ease” into this world or the story he wants to
tell. The frame rate is accelerated, the editing is hyperactive, the bad guy
speaks through a mask that makes half his dialogue indecipherable (shades of
Hardy’s Bane from “The Dark Knight Rises”), and the horrific visions of Miller’s
twisted future come fast and furious. Immortan Joe is a barely-alive freak of
nature, kept breathing by tubes connected to his face and served by similarly
disfigured half-humans with definitive names like Rictus Erectus (Nathan Jones)
and The People Eater (John Howard).

One of Joe’s most notable warriors is a powerful woman known
as Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron), who, as the film opens, is leading a
convoy from Immortan Joe’s citadel to the oil refinery Gastown when she
deviates off course. It turns out that Furiosa has kidnapped Joe’s “breeders,”
the women he keeps prisoner in an effort to create a male heir. She’s taking
them to “the green place,” to safety. Of
course, Joe sends his men after Furiosa—including Nux, to whom Max is still attached—and
the rest of “Mad Max: Fury Road” consists of one long sustained chase across
the unforgiving desert. With the exception of one centerpiece of dialogue, the
film takes place almost entirely on the move, speeding, chasing, bouncing, and
exploding across Miller’s scorched landscape.

As a reflection of more desperate times, Miller has updated
the needs of his future world from commodities like oil to pure survival. Max
has been reimagined as a fighting, driving machine, a man who “finds his own
way,” moving forward in an attempt to outrun his ghosts. Nux is a brainwashed
goon, a man-creature who believes that he will die and be reborn after
sacrificing himself for a trip to Valhalla. Max eventually steps into the role
of the action hero, but, in one of his most daring moves, Miller gives the
weight of the narrative to Furiosa, a woman who holds on to the only thing that
could possibly give her hope in this violent world—the next generation. Theron
does arguably the best work of her career here, artfully conveying the drive in
Furiosa’s soul in a way that fuels the entire film. She does more with a
searing stare or clenched jaw than most actresses could with a page of
dialogue. And one shouldn’t undervalue the empowerment message at the heart of
this film—Eve Ensler, author of “The Vagina Monologues” consulted with Miller
on the script—which suggests that women, as the creators of new life, will,
inherently, always be the gender that holds hardest onto hope for the future.
Furiosa looks at the insanity of the male leadership around her and decides
enough is enough. When one of Furiosa’s wards goes into labor and still defends
herself and her yet-to-be-born child (after being shot no less), it’s hard not
to see “Fury Road” as an answer to the macho nonsense that so often defines the
action genre.

But none of that should remotely imply that the action here
is lost in the message. The pacing, the sound design, the editing, the music
(courtesy of Junkie XL and some of Joe’s freaks who play drums and electric
guitars during the action), and even the emotional stakes are all so far above
average that they make just about any other car-chase movie look like a quaint
Sunday drive by comparison. The first chase in “Fury Road,” as Joe’s men catch
up to Furiosa and her precious cargo, is one of the most remarkable action
sequences in film history. And that’s really just a warm-up. It’s no
exaggeration to say that, if you think something in “Fury Road” is the most breathtaking
action stunt you’ve seen in years, you really need only wait a few minutes to
see something better. This is a movie where you keep thinking that its reached its
apex and then, inexplicably, that moment is left behind in the dust.

From the very beginning, Miller and his team do something
that so many other filmmakers fail to do—they define the geography of their
action. Rather than merely tossing the camera around in the vain hopes of
creating tension, they constantly give the viewer overhead shots and clear
physical dimensions of what’s happening and where we’re going. And then they
blow it all up. There are dozens of crashes, explosions, and flying bodies in
“Fury Road,” and yet the piece never gets repetitive, especially as the
emotional stakes increase with each sequence. Miller knows when to let the pace
coast when it needs to, which is rarely, and then he pushes the pedal down and
plasters you to your seat.

“Mad Max: Fury Road” is an action film about redemption and
revolution. Never content to merely repeat what he’s done before (even the
first three “Mad Max” have very distinct personalities), Miller has redefined his
vision of the future yet again, vibrantly imagining a world in which men have become
the pawns of insane leaders and women hold fiercely onto the last vestiges of
hope. “Fury Road” would be remarkable enough as a pure technical
accomplishment—a film that laughs in the face of blockbuster CGI orgies with
some of the best editing and sound design the genre has ever seen—and yet
Miller reaches for something greater than technical prowess. He holds aloft the
action template that he created with “The Road Warrior” and argues that
Hollywood shouldn’t have been copying it for the past three decades, they
should have been building on it. “Fury Road” is a challenge to a whole
generation of action filmmakers, urging them to follow its audacious path into the
genre’s future and, like Miller, try their hardest to create something new.

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Box Office: ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ Opens to Record $33.9M in China Tuesday


The superhero tenptole scores the biggest opening day of all time for a non-weekend.

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CNN Tackles American Covert Ops For ‘Declassified’, Gets Tubular With ‘The Eighties’

CNN is adding two more original series to its portfolio for 2016 — one that looks at U.S. covert ops and another about the Reagan decade, from exec producer Tom Hanks.

Declassified is an eight-part series that looks at America’s covert operations around the world. This morning at american flagTurner’s Upfront presentation to media buyers, CNN will announce that the series will be hosted by former U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, also the former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. Each episode will feature a newly declassified mission told firsthand by the agents involved, giving CNN viewers “unprecedented access to world of espionage.” Eli Holzman, Aaron Saidman, Stephen Lambert and Rogers serve as executive producers on the series from All3Media America.

And, not surprisingly, after its success with The Sixties — and in anticipation of the launch of The Seventies next month — CNN has ordered Simon Le Bon of Duran Duran PerformingThe Eighties, for a 2016 premiere. Each one-hour episode of that series, from producers Hanks and Gary Goetzman in association with HBO and Emmy-winning producer Mark Herzog, will explore the people and events that shaped that decade.

CNN also will tell media buyers at the upfront that it has picked up a second season of The Wonder List With Bill Weir, produced by CNN, and a third season of This Is Life With Lisa Ling, from part2pictures. These series join previously announced CNN originals launching in 2016 including Race For The White House, produced by Raw/Trigger Street Productions, narrated by Kevin Spacey and executive produced by Spacey and Dana Brunetti. It examines the most dramatic and compelling presidential campaigns in history. Believer is billed as a “spiritual adventure series” from Whalerock Industries hosted by New York Times bestselling author Reza Aslan. And, United Shades Of America, from All3Media, follows comedian W. Kamau Bell as he travels the country to take a thought-provoking look at diverse cultures.

RelatedJake Tapper Named ‘State Of The Union’ Anchor At CNN

In three years, CNN has acquired or produced more than 200 hours of original series programming. The 2015-16 Bourdain-c809-48bc-9441-bf1680134724_800slate will feature new seasons of returning series, including the Peabody- and Emmy-winning Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown (ZPZ Productions), Morgan Spurlock Inside Man (Warrior Poets), the previously mentioned The Seventies (Playtone/Herzog & Company), Mike Rowe’s Somebody’s Gotta Do It (Pilgrim Studios), The Hunt With John Walsh (ZPZ Productions) and Death Row Stories (Jigsaw/Sundance Productions). High Profits (Bat Bridge Entertainment), an eight-part docuseries about a Colorado couple trying to franchise recreational marijuana, currently is running on CNN.

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Bradley Cooper To Recur On CBS Series ‘Limitless’

In addition to executive producing Limitless, the new CBS drama series based on his movie, Oscar-nominated actor Bradley Cooper will recur on the show as a sidekick to the character he played in the 2011 feature, now portrayed by Jake McDorman. Cooper originated the role as a guest star in the pilot, directed by Marc Webb, and intends to appear as much as his schedule permits.

Limitless 4Limitless centers on Brian Finch (McDorman), who discovers the brain-boosting power of the mysterious drug NZT and is coerced by the FBI into using his extraordinary cognitive abilities to solve complex cases for them. Unbeknownst to the FBI, Brian also has a clandestine relationship with Senator Edward Mora (Cooper), a presidential hopeful and regular user of NZT who has plans of his own for his new protégé. Craig Sweeny, Marc Webb, Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Heather Kadin, Bradley Cooper, Todd Phillips, Ryan Kavanaugh, Tucker Tooley and Tom Forman executive produce for CBS Television Studios, K/O Paper Products and Relativity Television.

It is customary for feature actors serving as executive producers on series to recur, which is what Laurence Fishburne does on ABC’s black-ish.

Cooper started on TV, with roles on The $treet, Jack & Bobby and Kitchen Confidential before making it big in features.

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‘Avengers 2′ Director Joss Whedon on Sequel: It Broke Me!

When Marvel’s The Avengers hit theaters in 2012, it was a resounding success, taking in over $1.5 billion at the box office worldwide, with some proclaiming it to be the best superhero movie ever. Of course, Marvel’s The Avengers was just the beginning, with Marvel rolling out a slew of sequels and new adventures in Phase Two that lead up to Avengers: Age of Ultron, which has already earned $881 million worldwide in less than two weeks. While the sequel is certainly a financial success already, director Joss Whedon isn’t coming back to Marvel anytime in the near future, even deactivating his own Twitter account following the sequel’s release. The filmmaker revealed in a new interview that, while he said that Kevin Feige and everyone at the studio was “great,” the process also broke him.

“You know, they were great. Because Kevin knows what he wants, he understands what I do. But I pushed them. I said, ‘We’re going to have these crazy dream sequences. We’re going to go to a farm and hang out for a while. We’re going to do some things that are really left of center. We’re going to give you more action than you’ve had in any of your movies. We’re going to give you a bigger movie than you’ve had. But. I’m also going to get a little funky. I was kind of ambitious with this. Again, I’m going to have a long scene where we talk about being sterile in the middle of an action movie. Some of it was a fight, and some of it wasn’t, because they said, ‘OK, you know what? We’re terrified, but you know, you’ve earned this.’ There are battles I lost, there are battles I won, but most of it was you know, was us just going, ‘We’re just going to keep working this, just keep working the problem and making it better.” And I had Jeff [Ford] and Lisa, my editors for the first one, who are just mavericks and are very responsible for the stories making any sense at all. Those two, they saved my life so many times. They’re storytellers. It’s a beautiful thing to behold. It’s weird because the first one was very, very, very, hard. This one was much harder. It a little bit broke me.”

He added that, while the production did run smoothly, he had a much harder time on the sequel overall, stating that he even started to doubt himself while working on various aspects of the movie.

“So this time, there was a lot more understanding and trust going in, and my crew in England was phenomenal, but then the weight of the thing, the weight of the last thing, of this not just being the next thing that happens – I wanted this film to be its own movie. I wanted it to be better, if possible, than the first one – not that the first one was the best movie ever made, but I wanted to do better, just be better at shooting. I wanted to work harder on the script. I wanted to spend more time just really working every aspect of it, because why go again if you’re not doing something new? And I shot it very differently, and all of that became sort of a burden where I was like, ‘I want to make something great!’ And then I heard that voice in my head every time, ‘But is this a great idea?’ And suddenly I had doubt that I don’t usually suffer from. And meanwhile, the studio’s gonna have some too, because everything’s riding on this all of a sudden. And it became a problem in a way that nothing else has. And it was a hard movie to make on top of that. So being paralyzed by either indecision or the weight of responsibility? Not useful, don’t have time for your paralysis, son, snap out of it. This was the hardest work I’ve ever done. And if it worked, yay! But I’ll always look at it and go, ‘I don’t know, Joss, could you have done better? You could have done better.’”

As you may recall, right after principal photography wrapped on , the director shot an indie black and white adaptation of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, which was released in 2013. The filmmaker revealed that the producers even joked that he should make another Shakespeare adaptation over a ‘long weekend,’ in hopes of getting him in a better mood.

“Let me tell you how bad things got for me. I was like, “I am not doing anything like that, I’m not even going to think of a limerick. Every time I think, ‘Oh, I have time to create,’ I’m gonna be like, ‘OK, good. What’s wrong with the movie? What do I need to work on? What ADR isn’t finished? What do I need to think about? Let’s write a memo about this? How can I get a better version of this? Just keep pushing.’ And at some point, Kevin and Jeremy [Latcham] jokingly kind of said, ‘Oh, it’s a long weekend, are you sure you don’t want to maybe make a Shakespeare movie?’ That’s how burnt I was. They were like begging me to make a Shakespeare movie because they were like, ‘It makes him happy, he might calm down.’ I’m still in that phase of like, ‘But wait, I have notes!’ I can’t let go. I feel like, “Oh no, everybody’s going to see my failure.” But I am proud. I worked really hard. I’m proud of everybody in the movie, I’m proud of everyone who worked on the movie. … This child may be insane, but it’s mine. It’s like Ultron. It may try to kill you all. But I love it.”

It isn’t known what movie Joss Whedon will make next, but it certainly won’t be for Marvel, not in the next few years anyway. Do you think the filmmaker will eventually come back to Marvel Studios? Or do you think his time there is done?

Avengers: Age of Ultron was released May 1st, 2015.

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‘Arrow’ Season 3 Finale Clip: The Rebirth of Oliver Queen

Arrow Season 3 comes to a close tomorrow night with “My Name is Oliver Queen”. Last week, we saw the Arrow season finale trailer that showed Al Sah-him isn’t quite ready to give up his true identity, Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell). Today we have a new clip that is quite the opposite, with Oliver/Al Sah-him telling Ra’s Al Ghul (Matthew Nable) that he was dreaming of being reborn.

This scene is set in what appears to be a cargo plane, as Ra’s and Al get ready to unleash havoc on Oliver’s beloved hometown of Starling City. We also get a brief glimpse at Al’s bride-to-be, Ra’s’ own daughter Nyssa (Katrina Law), who is tied up. After completing his League of Assassins training, Oliver’s last two tasks before ascending to the title of Ra’s al Ghul is to destroy everything he once loved, i.e. his family, friends and Starling City itself, and to marry his daughter Nyssa. Will Al Sah-him go through with it? Or will Oliver Queen make a triumphant return?

Everyone’s lives are in danger as Ra’s al Ghul puts forth his final plan. Oliver/Al Sah-him must decide if he’s strong enough to take on this new role and what it will mean for everyone on Team Arrow, and his soul. “My Name is Oliver Queen” airs Wednesday, May 13 at 8 PM ET on The CW. Oliver will also pop up on tonight’s episode of The Flash, airing at 8 PM ET, which could offer a few clues into tomorrow night’s finale. Check out the clip below, and let us know your theories about how Arrow Season 3 will end.

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‘Damien’ Trailer: ‘Omen’ TV Show Brings Antichrist to A&E

Just a few weeks after the upcoming TV series Damien went from Lifetime to A&E, the show’s new network home has released the first trailer, giving us our first dark look at Damien Thorn, played by Bradley James (Merlin, Homeland). The series is based on the 1976 classic horror film The Omen, following his life as an adult as he must come to grips with the haunting events of his past. Production is currently under way in Toronto on the 10-episode first season, debuting sometime next year on A&E.

Damien follows the adult life of Damien Thorn, the mysterious child from the 1976 motion picture who has grown up seemingly unaware of the satanic forces around him. Haunted by his past, Damien must now come to terms with his true destiny — that he is the Antichrist. Barbara Hershey stars as Ann Rutledge, the world’s most powerful woman who has been tasked with making sure Damien fulfills his destiny. Omid Abtahi portrays Amani Golkar, a close colleague of Damien’s whose fierce loyalty will be tested when he realizes who his brother-in-arms actually is. Megalyn Echikunwoke plays Simone Baptiste, a woman whose life is thrown into turmoil when tragedy unexpectedly strikes.

Glen Mazzara (The Walking Dead, The Shield) serves as writer and executive producer of Damien via his 44 Strong Productions. Ross Fineman (Lights Out), who developed the project alongside , executive produces through his company, Entertainment. Pancho Mansfield (The Queen of the South) also serves as executive producer. Golden Globe and BAFTA Award nominated director Shekhar Kapur (Elizabeth) directed and executive produces the first episode. Take a look at the first footage below, and stay tuned for more as production continues on Damien.

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‘Deadpool’ Tries to Kill Mario Lopez in Latest Set Photo

On April Fools Day, Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds sent out a video to confirm the film’s R rating. The viral announcement featured Extra TV host Mario López, who eventually gets clobbered over the head by the Marvel superhero. It seems the brutal abuse has continued onto the Vancouver set, where posted a new photo, this time with an unmasked Ryan Reynolds taking a literal swing at the former Saved by the Bell actor.

Mario López is not listed as a member of the cast for Deadpool, though at this point it seems likely that he may cameo. He is probably just visiting the set as a reporter, where he will do a true set visit piece for Extra. We’ll be sure to update you if we hear otherwise.

Based upon Marvel Comics’ most unconventional anti-hero, Deadpool tells the origin story of former Special Forces operative turned mercenary Wade Wilson, who after being subjected to a rogue experiment that leaves him with accelerated healing powers, adopts the alter ego Deadpool . Armed with his new abilities and a dark, twisted sense of humor, Deadpool hunts down the man who nearly destroyed his life. The supporting cast includes Morena Baccarin, Gina Carano, Ed Skrein and T.J. Miller.

“Why is it every time I see Ryan Reynolds he tries to kill me? What’s up with that?! #Deadpool”

Deadpool comes to theaters February 12th, 2016.

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‘Agent Carter’ Season 2 Moves the Action to Los Angeles

Last week, ABC announced that Marvel’s Agent Carter and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. were both renewed for its second and third seasons, respectively. While no scheduling details have been confirmed, it is believed that Marvel’s Agent Carter will return sometime in midseason, during Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s extended holiday hiatus. During ABC’s upfront presentation today, the network released the first brief plot synopsis for Marvel’s Agent Carter Season 2, which reveals that Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) will be heading to Los Angeles.

“Marvel’s Agent Carter returns for a second season of adventure and intrigue, starring Hayley Atwell in the titular role of the unstoppable secret agent for the SSR (Strategic Scientific Reserve). Dedicated to the fight against new atomic age threats in the wake of World War II, Peggy must now journey from New York City to Los Angeles for her most dangerous assignment yet. But even as she discovers new friends, a new home – and perhaps even a new love – she’s about to find out that the bright lights of the post-war Hollywood mask a more sinister threat to everyone she is sworn to protect.”

Aside from Hayley Atwell, no other cast members have been confirmed for Marvel’s Agent Carter Season 2, but it would make sense to see Dominic Cooper‘s Howard Stark and James D’Arcy‘s Edwin Jarvis on the West Coast, since Howard’s son Tony did live in L.A. before building Avengers Tower. Still, it seems unlikely that other cast members such as Chad Michael Murray (Jack Thompson),Enver Gjokaj (Daniel Sousa) and Angie Martinelli (Lyndsy Fonseca) will be making the trip to L.A. with Peggy. We’ll have to wait and see.

In related news, while ABC picked up both Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Marvel’s Agent Carter, they shot down the potential spinoff series which would have starred Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. actors Adrianne Palicki (Mockingbird) and Lance Hunter. ABC’s Paul Lee explained that the network felt it wasn’t the right time to take them off the flagship show.

“We absolutely love those characters on S.H.I.E.L.D. We think S.H.I.E.L.D. hit its creative stride this year. We thought the right time now is to leave them on S.H.I.E.L.D. because S.H.I.E.L.D. is so strong at the moment.”

However, Paul Lee did leave the door open for a spinoff to happen in the future, so perhaps that will move forward after Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 3. What do you think about Marvel’s Agent Carter heading to L.A. or the Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. spinoff getting shut down? Stay tuned for more on both shows.

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Female ‘Thor’ Revealed, Will It Affect the Marvel Movies?

Back in July, Marvel announced that an unspecified female character will take over as the new Thor in the comic books, which had many fans wondering how this will affect Chris Hemsworth’s future in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The female Thor has already been introduced in the comics, taking over for Thor Odinson after he became unworthy of wielding his mighty hammer Mjolnir, as a result of something Nick Fury said to him. Mjolnir laid idle on the moon until a mysterious woman picked it up, thus making her the new Thor. Wednesday’s issue of Marvel’s Secret Wars comic reveals the identity of this female God of Thunder, although a few key panels from the comics have leaked, via Team Hellions. Be warned, there will be SPOILERS, so read on at your own risk.

The leaked panels reveal that none other than Jane Foster, played by Natalie Portman in Thor and Thor: The Dark World, is the new Thor, even though it is literally killing her. Jane suffers from a cancer which gets worse every time she picks up Mjolnir, but in the final panel Jane reveals, “I will not stop being the mighty Thor, even though it is killing me.” It’s also worth noting that the “old” Thor is still around in the comics, dressing in rags and wielding a battleaxe known as a Jarnbjorn.

Chris Hemsworth originally signed a six-movie contract, four of which have already been used up with Thor, Marvel’s The Avengers, Thor: The Dark World and Avengers: Age of Ultron. He is coming back for Thor: Ragnarok, which has been rumored to decimate Asgard and set up Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 and Avengers: Infinity War Part 2. There have been rumors that only the new Avengers seen at the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron will be seen in Avengers: Infinity War Part 1, with the original heroes all coming back in Avengers: Infinity War Part 2.

Almost all of the main Avengers’ contracts will be up after Avengers: Infinity War Part 2, which has many wondering what Marvel will do in Phase 4. With the introduction of Jane Foster as Thor, it’s certainly possible that Natalie Portman could step in, while Anthony Mackie‘s The Falcon could become the new Captain America, like he does in the comics. Of course, we haven’t even started Phase 3 yet, and Phase 4 is a long way off, but the revelation of Jane Foster as the female Thor adds some intriguing possibilities for the future of the MCU. Take a look at the comic book panels from tomorrow’s Marvel Secret Wars comic book below.

Female Thor Comic Panel 1

Female Thor Comic Panel 2