MARVEL! Shut up and take my money now!

Marvel has become the company who has a license to print money.

It’s got the top comic books out there, its TV show Agents of SHIELD is ready to head into its second season. Its got licensing up the yazoo, and it has one of the highest-grossing motion pictures of all time in The Avengers. It has got a slate of movie and television projects on the table that will take it at least 15 years to complete, and at the top of that list is The Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Entertainment Weekly’s cover story this week, in advance of the San Diego Comic-Con, shows Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans as Iron Man and Captain America, standing in front of Ultron, the robotic figure, whose construction was well-intentioned on the part of its creator, Tony Stark.

For better or worse (trust us, it’s worse), his Tony Stark has devised a plan that won’t require him to put on the Iron Man suit anymore, and should allow Captain America, Thor, Black Widow, Hawkeye, and the Hulk to get some much needed R&R as well. His solution is Ultron, self-aware, self-teaching, artificial intelligence designed to help assess threats, and direct Stark’s Iron Legion of drones to battle evildoers instead.

The only problem? Ultron (played by James Spader through performance-capture technology) lacks the human touch, and his superior intellect quickly determines that life on Earth would go a lot smoother if he just got rid of Public Enemy No. 1: Human beings. “Ultron sees the big picture and he goes, ‘Okay, we need radical change, which will be violent and appalling, in order to make everything better’; he’s not just going ‘Muhaha, soon I’ll rule!’” producer-director Joss Whedon says, rubbing his hands together.

In the comics, Ultron was created by scientist Hank Pym, who was also a member of the Avengers as Ant-Man (also as Giant Man and YellowJacket over the years — long story). Pym will be introduced to the Marvel Cinematic Universe next year as well, played by Michael Douglas in the film Ant-Man — which is set to be filmed this fall at the new Pinewood Atlanta Studios in Fayetteville.

Presumably, there will be a teaser or trailer or something for  at Comic-Con. And I. Can’t. Wait!

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Thor? A woman?! Really, Marvel?

The cover of this fall’s ‘Thor‘ #1

I guess DC doesn’t have a monopoly on screwing up characters.

Just a few short weeks after Marvel announced that a new man would wield the red, white and blue shield of Captain America and that the seemingly immortal Wolverine would indeed die, came an announcement that there would also be a new Thor — but that Thor would be a woman.

“This new Thor isn’t a temporary female substitute – she’s now the one and only Thor, and she is worthy!” Marvel editor Wil Moss said in the release.

Series writer Jason Aaron also emphasized that point: “This is not She-Thor. This is not Lady Thor. This is not Thorita. This is THOR. This is the THOR of the Marvel Universe. But it’s unlike any Thor we’ve ever seen before.”

Now, on the other side of the coin, and in Marvel’s defense, a similar hue and cry went up a year and a half ago, when Peter Parker was mind-swapped with arch foe Otto Octavius, then killed in the pages of The Amazing Spider-Man, which led to not only an end of that title, but a complete change of the status quo for the Spider-Man character. A year later, the “Superior Spider-Man” made way for a return by Peter Parker as your “friendly neighborhood Amazing Spider-Man.”

DC earned the ire of many fans in 2011 when it completely jettisoned its entire 75 year history and continuity in favor of “The New 52” — a slate of 52 monthly titles, that by now have, for the most part, been replaced by other “New 52” titles. The unapologetic DC has moved toward a catering to the lowest common denominator and moved away from a unified history driven by intelligent stories and strong continuity over the years.

What does the future hold for Marvel’s new direction? Time will tell.

Brandon Routh to join ‘Arrow’ cast as Ray Palmer

Brandon Routh

Yep. You read that right — Brandon Routh, who most fans know as Superman from the abortion that was ‘Superman Returns’ is joining the cast of the CW hit ‘Arrow’ (as in Green Arrow) to play scientist Ray Palmer, the new head of Queen Consolidated.

For most folks, that name doesn’t mean much, but for fanboys like me, Ray Palmer is The Atom — a scientist who developed a way to miniaturize himself, don a costume, and — say it with me — “He fights crime!”

According to Ain’t It Cool, Routh has been signed for 14 episodes. No word on how they will incorporate the superhero aspects into the series, but no doubt they will be in some fashion. Some fans are noting that if they actually follow through with making Palmer The Atom they will predate next year’s Marvel motion picture ‘Ant Man,’ which also features a shrinking superhero.

That film, if production ever kicks into high gear, is set to be one of the first to be filmed at Pinewood Studios Atlanta, the brand new facility built out in Fayette County.

The ‘Arrow’ season premiere is October 8.