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10 questions we hope “The Avengers” will answer

10 questions we hope “The Avengers” will answer (photo)

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When “The Avengers” hits theaters next year, it will provide be the culmination of several years of exhaustive planning by the Marvel Studios team, and bring all of the characters introduced in their recent blockbuster films together for the first time. In short, it’s an ambitious goal — and not just because they’re putting Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, and Hulk on the same screen, but also because they’ll be expected to answer all of the questions they seeded throughout the five films leading up to this monumental team-up.

From Nick Fury’s back story to Iron Man’s alternate armor, there’s been no shortage of speculation fodder left behind by the studio over the last few years of Marvel movies. With that in mind, here are the ten questions we’re hoping to see answered when “The Avengers” premieres in 2012.

1. How long has Nick Fury been around?

During the multitude of Sam Jackson’s cameos as S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Nick Fury, he’s hinted that all might not be as it appears when it comes to him and his history with the mysterious government agency. Along with inferring that he knew Tony Stark’s father in “Iron Man 2,” Fury has also indicated some familiarity with Captain America that goes beyond reading a few old newspapers. All of this leaves us wondering exactly how long the eyepatch-sporting secret agent has been pulling strings around the superhero world.

2. What happened to the War Machine armor after “Iron Man 2”?

We know that James “Rhodey” Rhodes has his own set of War Machine armor, so what has he been doing with it since we last saw him in “Iron Man 2”? In the Marvel movie timeline, “Iron Man 2” falls before both “The Incredible Hulk” and “Thor,” so one would assume War Machine’s been called into service by the government once or twice during that time. Why haven’t we heard about it?

3. Does Tony Stark know about his father’s involvement in Project: Rebirth?

In “Captain America: The First Avenger,” we learned that Howard Stark played a big role in turning sickly Steve Rogers into the super-soldier Captain America, and in “Iron Man 2,” we learned that he went on to play a similarly integral role in founding S.H.I.E.L.D. We know Tony’s aware of the latter piece of info (thanks to Nick Fury), but is he aware of his father’s connection to Captain America?

4. Is Bruce Banner in control of the Hulk now?

The “Avengers” teaser shown after the credits rolled in “Captain America” confirmed much of what we already knew about the team’s lineup, but there have been big questions about Hulk’s role on the team. The preview didn’t seem to indicate that anyone was worried about Bruce Banner turning into his green-skinned alter ego, so what changed since we last saw him in “The Incredible Hulk”?

5. Is Black Widow on the good guys’ team?

In the Marvel Comics world, Natasha Romanoff has been on both sides of the superhuman world, cast as both a superhero and a supervillain at different points. In Marvel’s “Ultimate” universe — the inspiration for much of the cinematic universe — she was a villain who helped infiltrate and subsequently take down the Avengers team. From what we’ve seen of her so far, she seems to on the good guys’ team, but will that change?

6. What happened to Loki?

Even though Loki disappeared into the cosmic abyss at the end of “Thor,” audiences learned via a post-credits scene in that same film that he was far from out of the picture. Since then, Marvel has revealed that he’ll be one of the major players in “The Avengers,” so that begs the question: What happened between his fall from Asgard and the post-credits scene in “Thor”?

7. Who will lead the Avengers?

In the Marvel Comics world, Captain America has long been regarded as the Avengers’ team leader, despite Iron Man’s status as one of the team’s original founders (Captain America didn’t join the team until a few issues into the original “Avengers” comic book series). At the end of “Iron Man 2,” we learned that Nick Fury had turned down Tony Stark for membership on the team, but was willing to have him serve as a consultant. That, paired with his post-credits appearance in “The Incredible Hulk” as an emissary for The Avengers Initiative prompts a lot of questions about his role on the team.

8. Why was Tony Stark recruiting for Avengers in “Incredible Hulk” instead of Nick Fury?

In every post-credits recruiting scene we’ve seen thus far, Nick Fury has always been the one approaching prospective members of his Avengers Initiative — all except one, that is. At the end of “The Incredible Hulk,” we see Tony Stark making a pitch to General Ross about a new “team” he’s forming. Why the switch-up from Nick Fury to Tony Stark? Here’s hoping we get an answer next year.

9. Will the Hulk be a good guy or a bad guy?

In the first issue of the Avengers comic book series, the threat that brings together Iron Man, Thor, and the rest of the team is a rampaging Hulk. They soon learn that Loki was controlling the Hulk, though, and the jade giant joins the team. In Marvel’s Ultimate universe, it’s a similar threat that unites the team, though Captain America is around from the start this time, and plays a major role in bringing down Bruce Banner’s alter ego. Given the similarity of these two stories, it’s no surprise that everyone’s expecting to see Hulk go on a destructive spree yet again, and force the Avengers to unite against him. However, hints about Loki’s role in the film and the reveal of the Cosmic Cube call some of the assumptions into question. Will Hulk play the role of good guy in the film, or will he fall more in line with his comics counterpart?

10. What about Wasp and Ant-Man?

As I mentioned earlier, Captain America wasn’t a founding member of the Avengers in the original comic book series. However, Iron Man, Thor, Ant-Man, and The Wasp were there from the start (and technically, so was the Hulk). Given what we’ve seen of the film so far, it seems strange that this duo seems to have been omitted from the live-action Avengers team. We know Edgar Wright has an “Ant-Man” movie in the mix, but given the character’s status as one of the team’s most regular members over the last few decades, it’s a surprise to not see him among the founding members in the movie. The same goes for Janet Van Dyne (a.k.a. The Wasp), who was the one to come up with the name “Avengers” in the comics world.

Which questions do you hope “The Avengers” will answer? Chime in below or on Facebook or Twitter.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…

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IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.

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IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).

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IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.

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IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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Reality? Check.

Baroness For Life

Baroness von Sketch Show is available for immediate consumption.

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Baroness von Sketch Show is snowballing as people have taken note of its subtle and not-so-subtle skewering of everyday life. The New York Times, W Magazine, and Vogue have heaped on the praise, but IFC had a few more probing questions…

IFC: To varying degrees, your sketches are simply scripted examples of things that actually happen. What makes real life so messed up?

Aurora: Hubris, Ego and Selfish Desires and lack of empathy.

Carolyn: That we’re trapped together in the 3rd Dimension.

Jenn: 1. Other people 2. Other people’s problems 3. Probably something I did.

IFC: A lot of people I know have watched this show and realized, “Dear god, that’s me.” or “Dear god, that’s true.” Why do people have their blinders on?

Aurora: Because most people when you’re in the middle of a situation, you don’t have the perspective to step back and see yourself because you’re caught up in the moment. That’s the job of comedians is to step back and have a self-awareness about these things, not only saying “You’re doing this,” but also, “You’re not the only one doing this.” It’s a delicate balance of making people feel uncomfortable and comforting them at the same time.

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IFC: Unlike a lot of popular sketch comedy, your sketches often focus more on group dynamics vs iconic individual characters. Why do you think that is and why is it important?

Meredith: We consider the show to be more based around human dynamics, not so much characters. If anything we’re more attracted to the energy created by people interacting.

Jenn: So much of life is spent trying to work it out with other people, whether it’s at work, at home, trying to commute to work, or even on Facebook it’s pretty hard to escape the group.

IFC: Are there any comedians out there that you feel are just nailing it?

Aurora: I love Key and Peele. I know that their show is done and I’m in denial about it, but they are amazing because there were many times that I would imagine that Keegan Michael Key was in the scene while writing. If I could picture him saying it, I knew it would work. I also kind of have a crush on Jordan Peele and his performance in Big Mouth. Maya Rudolph also just makes everything amazing. Her puberty demon on Big Mouth is flawless. She did an ad for 7th generation tampons that my son, my husband and myself were singing around the house for weeks. If I could even get anything close to her career, I would be happy. I’m also back in love with Rick and Morty. I don’t know if I have a crush on Justin Roiland, I just really love Rick (maybe even more than Morty). I don’t have a crush on Jerry, the dad, but I have a crush on Chris Parnell because he’s so good at being Jerry.

Jenn: I LOVE ISSA RAE!

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IFC: If you could go back in time and cast yourselves in any sitcom, which would it be and how would it change?

Carolyn: I’d go back in time and cast us in The Partridge Family.  We’d make an excellent family band. We’d have a laugh, break into song and wear ruffled blouses with velvet jackets.  And of course travel to all our gigs on a Mondrian bus. I feel really confident about this choice.

Meredith: Electric Mayhem from The Muppet Show. It wouldn’t change, they were simply perfect, except… maybe a few more vaginas in the band.

Binge the entire first and second seasons of Baroness von Sketch Show now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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G.I. Jeez

Stomach Bugs and Prom Dates

E.Coli High is in your gut and on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Brothers-in-law Kevin Barker and Ben Miller have just made the mother of all Comedy Crib series, in the sense that their Comedy Crib series is a big deal and features a hot mom. Animated, funny, and full of horrible bacteria, the series juxtaposes timeless teen dilemmas and gut-busting GI infections to create a bite-sized narrative that’s both sketchy and captivating. The two sat down, possibly in the same house, to answer some questions for us about the series. Let’s dig in….

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IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

BEN: Hi ummm uhh hi ok well its like umm (gets really nervous and blows it)…

KB: It’s like the Super Bowl meets the Oscars.

IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

BEN: Oh wow, she’s really cute isn’t she? I’d definitely blow that too.

KB: It’s a cartoon that is happening inside your stomach RIGHT NOW, that’s why you feel like you need to throw up.

IFC: What was the genesis of E.Coli High?

KB: I had the idea for years, and when Ben (my brother-in-law, who is a special needs teacher in Philly) began drawing hilarious comics, I recruited him to design characters, animate the series, and do some writing. I’m glad I did, because Ben rules!

BEN: Kevin told me about it in a park and I was like yeah that’s a pretty good idea, but I was just being nice. I thought it was dumb at the time.

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IFC: What makes going to proms and dating moms such timeless and oddly-relatable subject matter?

BEN: Since the dawn of time everyone has had at least one friend with a hot mom. It is physically impossible to not at least make a comment about that hot mom.

KB: Who among us hasn’t dated their friend’s mom and levitated tables at a prom?

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

BEN: There’s a lot of content now. I don’t think anyone will even notice, but it’d be cool if they did.

KB: A show about talking food poisoning bacteria is basically the same as just watching the news these days TBH.

Watch E.Coli High below and discover more NYTVF selections from years past on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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