DID YOU READ

Can We Get a Black Widow Movie?

Scarlett Johansson in The Avengers

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Can we get a Black Widow movie up in this? Most of the Avengers – Hulk, Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man – are bankable franchises. And fans of those franchises, to be sure, put their butts in seats to the record-breaking tune of a $200 million opening weekend, beating the previous opening record held by Harry Potter’s final installment. So: obviously there are going to be sequels; we are in a golden age of comic book movies.

That having been said, of all the Avengers, the Black Widow – Natasha Romanoff – was, to me and to others, the most interesting. Granted, this blogger has a thing for gorgeous women who can kick ass. And The Black Widow is one of the toughest and most interesting characters ever to come out of comic books. As Karina Longworth noted in her largely unfavorable view of The Avengers in The Village Voice (you can’t win ‘em all), The Black Widow is the true standout character. “The Avengers hints that this former Russian spy with ‘a very specific skill set’ has a complicated backstory—sordid and shameful, perhaps, but also rife with transformative drama, suggesting an arc that’s much more interesting than anything the characters travel here.”

My favorite incarnation of Natasha Romanoff, who’s backstory is indeed shameful and sordid but also quite interesting, is the Frank Miller run. Frank Miller, now famous as a screenwriter (RoboCop2), a co-director (Sin City, with Robert Rodriguez), and producer (300) is also famous for his Noir-ish comic book art and dark stories. Miller inked this gritty, infinitely beautiful series of Daredevil comics in which Widow and The Man Without Fear team up to fight a shadowy underworld cult organization of Ninjas known as “The Hand.” There is black magic and lots of arrows and poisoned throwing stars and martial arts involved. The storyline reached its apex in the iconic Daredevil #188, which, this blogger cannot fail to note, is one of the most breathtakingly cinematically scripted graphic novels.

Few Marvel characters are as ready-made for a film franchise as Natasha Romanoff, who appeared, all too briefly, in Iron Man 2. At various points in her comic book life Black Widow has been a villain – an antagonist of Iron Man – a secret agent on both sides during the Cold War, and, finally, as a superhero. She has been used – as a pawn in a complex geopolitical chess match – by the East and the West. Her motive for being a superhero is redemption.

Like Captain America and Wolverine, Romanoff has lived a longer-than-human-lifespan, getting mixed up in both World War II and the Cold War. One telling of her origin goes back to the 1940s where she, as a child, was rescued from the Nazis by Captain America. Then things go murky, and she is lost – mixed up with the KGB. She was trained as the ultimate spy in “The Red Room” – the former Soviet Union’s answer to the Super Soldier program that gave us the red-white and blue bedecked Captain America. In the 60s, Natasha wore a veil and evening gowns, a sort of cheesy parody of the scarlet-haired Russian spy/ vixen. Now, in her final incarnation — a skin tight black suit and golden wrist bands that fire deadly energy beams — she is an Olympic caliber athlete highly trained in all forms of the martial arts that is seeking redemption for her past sins. Does this not sound like a story made for Hollywood?

Also: Scarlett Johansson would be wildly interested in the role. “I love her origin story,” Johansson told CBS News. “I think it’s just such a riveting one. It’s just steeped in history and the richness to shoot in Russia, perhaps … I hope that the fans’ voice is loud enough and they want to see a Widow origin story, I know Marvel would be happy to entertain that. We’ve spoken a lot about it.”

Clearly, movies based on comic book characters are not going away, not with this kind of money on the table. Even actors – like Patrick Dempsey in the case of a possible Dr. Strange movie – are making sort-of-public appeals, perhaps in the hope of getting a social media groundswell going. I’d like to add my voice to Scarlett Johansson’s sexy rasp in saying that we need to make a Black Widow origin story.

And while we are on the subject of beautiful women who could kick our asses and are former secret agents: Could we get a Spider-Woman movie up in this as well? Just saying, yo.

Would you like to see a Black Widow movie? Let us know in the comments below, or on Facebook or Twitter.

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Thank Azaria

Best. Characters. Ever.

Our favorite Hank Azaria characters.

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GIFs via Giphy

Hank Azaria may well be the most prolific voice and character actor of our time. The work he’s done for The Simpsons alone has earned him a permanent place in the pop culture zeitgeist. And now he’s bringing another character to the mainstream: a washed-up sports announcer named Jim Brockmire, in the aptly titled new series Brockmire.

We’re looking forward to it. So much so that we want to look backward, too, with a short-but-sweet retrospective of some of Azaria’s important characters. Shall we begin?

Half The Recurring Simpsons Characters

He’s Comic Book Guy. He’s Chief Wiggum. He’s Apu. He’s Cletus. He’s Snake. He’s Superintendent Chalmers. He’s the Sea Captain. He’s Kurt “Can I Borrow A Feeling” Van Houten. He’s Professor Frink. He’s Carl. And he’s many more. But most importantly he’s Moe Szyslak, the staple character Azaria has voiced since his very first audition for The Simpsons.

Oh, and He’s Frank Grimes

For all the regular Simpsons characters Azaria has played over the years, his most brilliant performance may have been a one-off: Frank Grimes, the scrappy bootstrapper who worked tirelessly all his life for honest, incremental, and easily-undermined success. Azaria’s portrayal of this character was nuanced, emotional, and simply magical.

Patches O’Houlihan

Dodgeball is a “sport of violence, exclusion and degradation.” as Hank Azaria generously points out in his brief but crucial cameo in Dodgeball. That’s sage wisdom. Try applying his “five D’s” to your life on and off the court and enjoy the results.

Harold Zoid

Of Futurama fame. The crazy uncle of Dr. Zoidberg, Harold Zoid was once a lion (or lobster) of the silver screen until Smell-o-vision forced him into retirement.

Agador

The Birdcage was significant for many reasons, and the comic genius of Hank Azaria’s character “Agador” sits somewhere towards the top of that list. If you haven’t seen this movie, shame on you.

Gargamel

Nobody else could make a live-action Gargamel possible.

Ed Cochran

From Ray Donovan. Great character, great last name [editorial note: the author of this article may be bias].

Kahmunra, The Thinker, Abe Lincoln

All in the Night At The Museum: Battle Of The Smithsonian, a file that let Azaria flex his voice acting and live-action muscles in one fell swoop.

The Blue Raja

Mystery Men has everything, including a fatal case of Smash Mouth. Azaria’s iconic superhero makes the shortlist of redeemable qualities, though.

Dr. Huff

Huff put Azaria in a leading role, and it was good. So good that there is no good gif of it. Internet? More like Inter-not.

Learn more about Hank Azaria’s newest claim to fame right here, and don’t miss the premiere of Brockmire April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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Flame Out

Brockmire and Other Public Implosions

Brockmire Premieres April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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There’s less than a month until the Brockmire premiere, and to say we’re excited would be an insulting understatement. It’s not just that it stars Hank Azaria, who can do no wrong (and yes, that’s including Mystery Men, which is only cringeworthy because of Smash Mouth). It’s that the whole backstory of the titular character, Jim Brockmire, is the stuff of legends. A one-time iconic sportscaster who won the hearts of fans and players alike, he fell from grace after an unfortunate personal event triggered a seriously public meltdown. See for yourself in the NSFW Funny or Die digital short that spawned the IFC series:

See? NSFW and spectacularly catastrophic in a way that could almost be real. Which got us thinking: What are some real-life sports fails that have nothing to do with botched athletics and everything to do with going tragically off script? The internet is a dark and dirty place, friends, but these three examples are pretty special and mostly safe for work…

Disgruntled Sports Reporter

His co-anchor went offsides and he called it like he saw it.

Jim Rome vs Jim “Not Chris” Everett

You just don’t heckle a professional athlete when you’re within striking distance. Common sense.

Carl Lewis’s National Anthem

He killed it! As in murdered. It’s dead.

To see more moments just like these, we recommend spending a day in your pajamas combing through the muckiness of the internet. But to see something that’s Brockmire-level funny without having to clear your browser history, check out the sneak peeks and extras here.

Don’t miss the premiere of Brockmire April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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Mirror, Mirror

Portlandia Season 7 In Hindsight

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available Online and on the IFC App.

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Another season of Portlandia is behind us, and oh what a season it was. We laughed. We cried. And we chuckled uncomfortably while glancing nervously around the room. Like every season before it, the latest Portlandia has held a mirror up to ridiculousness of modern American life, but more than ever that same mirror has reflected our social reality in ways that are at once hysterical and sneakily thought-provoking. Here are just a few of the issues they tackled:

Nationalism

So long, America, Portland is out! And yes, the idea of Portland seceding is still less ludicrous than building a wall.

Men’s Rights

We all saw this coming. Exit gracefully, dudes.

Protests

Whatever you stand for, stand for it together. Or with at least one other person.

Free Love

No matter who we are or how we love, deep down we all have the ability to get stalky.

Social Status

Modern self-esteem basically hinges on likes, so this isn’t really a stretch at all.

These moments are just the tip of the iceberg, and much more can be found in the full seventh season of #Portlandia, available right now #online and on the #IFC app.

via GIPHY

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