Wolfgang Petersen, Director of The NeverEnding Story and Outbreak, Has Died @ io9

Wolfgang Petersen on the set of Air Force One, with Gary Oldman.Photo: Sony Pictures (Getty Images)

If you grew up on a steady diet of Hollywood blockbusters over the past 40 years, you surely know the work of Wolfgang Petersen. He made us tense up with Das Boot, made us fly with The NeverEnding Story, made us hate coughing with Outbreak, and made Harrison Ford the president in Air Force One, to name only a few. Petersen’s films entertained and changed a generation but now, sadly, that’s over. The talented, Oscar-nominated director passed away at the age of 81.

Petersen had already been directing for decades when his tense, claustrophobic, highly influential submarine film, Das Boot, was released in 1981. The film was a hit, financially and critically, and proved he had a true talent for entertaining audiences. And though his later career focused a bit more on standard action thrillers, Petersen’s first instinct after Das Boot was to go into genre films.

He followed up the Oscar-nominated submarine film with the 1984 adaptation of The NeverEnding Story, a fantasy film that captured the imaginations of everyone who watched it. Falkor, Atreyu, Bastian, these characters became a part of popular culture almost instantly and the film has remained a fan favorite too, with it playing a prominent role in the fourth season of Stranger Things.

From there, Petersen stayed in the sci-fi realm, but went much darker. In 1985, he made Enemy Mine starring Dennis Quaid and Louis Gossett Jr. as a human and alien who are stranded on the same planet and forced to work together to survive. Though it wasn’t a hit upon release, the intense story, excellent acting, and memorable creature effects have made it into a cult classic today.

After Enemy Mine, Petersen didn’t make a movie for another several years, but came back with a whole new aim. He first did the psychological thriller Shattered with Bob Hoskins and followed that up with the movie that really put him back on the map, In the Line of Fire with Clint Eastwood and John Malkovich. The political thriller was a massive success and put him back on the A-List. He proceeded to go on a tear of excellent Hollywood fare: 1995's Outbreak (which saw an unfortunate resurgence in 2020 for obvious reasons), 1997's smash hit Air Force One with Harrison Ford, the poignant effects drama The Perfect Storm in 2000, and then Troy and Poseidon. And while those final two didn’t resonate with audiences quite like the others, they’re both huge productions with amazing casts which are a testament to the amazing work Petersen had done.

According to Deadline, Petersen died peacefully last week in his Los Angeles residence from pancreatic cancer. He was in the arms of his wife Maria Antoinette, whom he’d been married to for 50 years.

Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel and Star Wars releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about House of the Dragon and Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

The Gaming Shelf Slips Into Memory and Magic @ io9

Image: Batts

This August is Kickstarter’s ZineQuest! Originally every February, the timing was changed in 2022 to coincide with GenCon. However, after a lot of feedback, they’ve changed it back to February for 2023. But: That does mean that there are a ton of crowdfunding projects, so we’ll be skipping over new releases this week. Enjoy all these very good games!

Featured Designer: John Battle

Also known as Batts, John Battle has been writing innovative and exciting games for years. One of my first encounters with their work was in 2020, when he published The Wizards and the Wastes, an innovative, immersive game about spellcasters attempting to make a difference before they’re turned into something... else. Currently, Batts is crowdfunding Lilancholy, an experimental TTRPG that is more concerned with the poetry of game-making than rolling dice.

Image: Batts

Lilancholy is a playable, extended lyric game that drags you through the memories of an old woman as she recounts the moments during her life when she intersected with the fae. It’s an immersive storytelling text that encourages you to interact with the story through childlike games and rituals. It’s a bit like a fable, a bit like a dream where you don’t really want to wake up, because then the magic of this one, singular moment will be gone.

Batts’ work always leans experimental and expressive. There’s .dungeon, which imagines the collective tabletop imaginarium as a massive multiplayer online world. My Body is a Cage, where adventurers must balance the mundane and the magical, won Most Innovative during the Indie Game Design Network Indie Groundbreaker awards this year. They’ve also written Iron & Lies, a dungeon-crawl through a fae-infested bathhouse. Lilancholy seems to combine a lot of the themes of their past works, invoking fae magic, memory, and the tenuous boundary between reality and fantasy to create a game that is as haunting as it is lovely.

Crowdfunding: One Breath Left, The Average Trooper, Rune, Notorious, One Night Worlds, Fungiable

Image: Stout Stoat

In One Breath Left: “You are an Explorer, attempting to determine what happened aboard a now-abandoned spaceship, known as the Wreck. As you explore, you’ll document what you find while trying to avoid a perilous fate, and count every breath you take (in case it becomes your last!)“

Image: Vitali Demura

The Average Trooper: Skeleton Mayhem is a tribute to all the classic punk zines with a wacky game TTRPG system and a self-generating story dungeon in it! The game centers around a group of skeletons who go on a journey for the great lich of the Necropolis and go through changes with each encounter!”

Image: Gila RPGs

RUNE is a solo tabletop RPG being developed by Spencer Campbell of Gila RPGs. It is heavily inspired by the Soulsborne genre of video games, including Dark Souls , Bloodborne , and Elden Ring. RUNE combines narrative exploration with tactical combat to capture the environmental storytelling and high stakes combat you love in soulslike games.”

Image: Jason Price

Notorious is a sci-fi themed tabletop roleplaying game for one player. Play to tell stories of the Nomads; notorious bounty hunters who strike fear among the scum and villainy of the universe and follow the dubious code of the Nomad’s Guild.”

Image: Brian Hazzard

One Night Worlds is a collection of zero-prep, GM-less, one-page ttrpgs. With each of the included games you can learn the rules, create characters, and discover a whole new world with your friends, all in one night. You’ll be guided by a simple TTRPG rules system that emphasizes collaborative storytelling and creates dramatic moments of risky choices.”

Image: Thom Owen

Fungiable is a solo journaling game that uses Chris Bissette and Matt Sander’s Wretched & Alone structure with a unique exploding dice mechanic. Using a set of 7 standard polyhedral dice, a deck of playing cards and a way to record your journey, the player is ushered through the game. While playing, you will be journaling the outcomes of your choices and their consequences, some of which relies on entropy delivered by playing cards and dice rolls. Will you be able to tell when enough is enough or will you keep pushing that luck?”

In Other News

Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel and Star Wars releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about House of the Dragon and Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power Gets a Movie Long Premiere With Two Episodes Dropping @ io9

Screenshot: Prime Video

Director J.A. Bayona (Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom) will set up the world of Middle Earth in its second age with his two episodes debuting as the premiere of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. And we’re going to get eight episodes full of the rich and dense Tolkien for a new generation.

Director J.A. Bayona recently talked to us about the series and why it was a particularly intriguing jumping off point to re-enter the world, “I remember that I read about the show and I was curious like, ‘Oh, that seems like a very good idea,’ because television allows you to give the space and the time that Tolkien spent in telling the story and the story of these characters.” he said, “I think it was very smart and clever to do a Second Age [story], which is something that Tolkien planned, but was never that specific. So it gave us a lot of freedom to create new storylines and characters, but at the same time be faithful to the plan that Tolkien already had.”

The show will explore the various lands and civilizations of Middle Earth in new ways which Bayona was game for, “it’s such a rich and complex universe and so different. So if you want to go for [nature], you would find the Harfoots. If you want to get more political, you will go to the Elves. There’s melodrama when you go to humans. It feels very rich and complex, and I really enjoy it a lot working with each of the worlds. I love movies in general and I love all genres. And somehow the world of Tolkien allows you to pick up a little bit of all of them in the story.” he said.

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power will premiere slightly earlier than its original September 2nd release date, dropping at September 1 at 9 p.m. EDT/ 6 p.m. PDT. It will resume a weekly schedule drop of episodes at 12 a.m. EDT on Fridays/9 p.m. PDT on Thursdays on Amazon Prime.

Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel and Star Wars releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about House of the Dragon and Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

Cobra Kai Season 5's First Trailer Teases a Brewing Karate War @ io9

The pieces are in place for a karate war in Cobra Kai.Image: Netflix

One of the reasons I love Cobra Kai so much is because every season it does things I’d always imagined growing up, but never thought I’d see. For example, as a huge Karate Kid fan, I always wondered what might happen if the “bad guys” from the first two films, Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) and Chozen Toguchi (Yuji Okumoto), teamed up together. Could they then, finally, defeat Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio)?

Well, as you can see in the first full trailer for Cobra Kai season 5, Johnny and Chozen do team up this year. It’s a Karate Kid fan’s dream come true. Only, they’re not fighting against Daniel. They’re fighting with Daniel. And they’re all going against the former villain of the third film, current villain on the show Terry Silver (Thomas Ian Griffith). But that’s just the start of where the latest season of Cobra Kai is going. Check out the season’s first trailer.

Noticeably absent in that trailer is Mike Barnes, played by Sean Kanan. The first images from the season revealed that the other evil presence in The Karate Kid Part III was appearing this season, nearly completing the full complement of major cameos from the original films. (Hilary Swank, when?) You’d assume he would still be in bed with Silver but, don’t forget, he did let Silver down all those years ago.

Even without Barnes though, you see that Cobra Kai is growing at an alarming rate, Johnny is struggling to make ends meet, Daniel has shut down Miyagi-Do and the kids are, as always, at each other’s throats. Even the framed sensei John Kreese (Martin Kove) gets a little love at the end there.

How will it all tie together? We’ll find out on September 9 when Cobra Kai season 5 debuts on Netflix.

Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel and Star Wars releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about House of the Dragon and Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

She-Hulk Charms Critics With Its Leading Lady and Sit-Com Stylings @ io9

Image: Marvel Studios

As critics and reviewers got a look at the first four episodes of Marvl’s She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, the reactions have been trickling in via social media. Overall, positive! There’s a lot of praise for the lead, Tatiana Maslany, and the sit-com storytelling beats. There are some who feel like this Marvel installment is a little empty of what makes the MCU expansive, but these reactions are in the minority. (A few made comments about the VFX but... we’ve already talked about that, haven’t we?) Read below for some more initial thoughts on the show!

So, what do you think? Do these reviews make you more excited for She-Hulk or is all the attention turning you off?

She-Hulk will premiere on August 18, on Disney+. Our full recap of episode 1 is coming soon.

Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel and Star Wars releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about House of the Dragon and Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

Who Should Be the New Ghost Rider? io9 Picks @ io9

The Hunger Games Prequel Has Found Its Big Villain @ io9

Image: Lionsgate

Mark Ruffalo talks about his plans for his MCU future, including Avengers: Secret Wars. A new Saw is on the way. She-Hulk’s Kat Coiro teases Daredevil’s role in the series. Plus, good news for the return of Severance, and more footage from AMC’s Interview With the Vampire. Spoilers now!

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

Deadline reports Viola Davis has been cast as Head Gamemaker Volumnia Gaul, the main villain of the upcoming Hunger Games prequel, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.

The Avengers: Secret Wars/World War Hulk

In conversation with Entertainment Tonight at the red carpet premiere of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, Mark Ruffalo stated he’d be down for another solo Hulk movie “anytime [Marvel] wants to do it.” Ruffalo additionally described the company’s plans for Secret Wars as “pretty amazing” and a “big bang.”

Saw 10

Lionsgate and Twisted Pictures have announced a tenth film in the Saw franchise will be released on October 27, 2023. [Deadline]

Three Thousand Years of Longing

Tilda Swinton makes the one wish no genie wants to hear in a new clip from Three Thousand Years of Longing.

THREE THOUSAND YEARS OF LONGING | “Wish We Never Met” Official Clip | MGM Studios


Adam Scott confirmed the second season of Severance begins filming “pretty soon” in a recent interview with SiriusXM.

Yeah, we’re getting ready and, and are gonna start here, here pretty soon. And so it’s all starting to come together. [I’m] trying to think if, if, if I can say anything more or if a tranquilizer dart will come in from off-screen.

Adam Scott Reveals Latest Details on Season Two of ‘Severance’

Daredevil/She-Hulk: Attorney at Law

When asked if Daredevil’s role in She-Hulk will serve as a continuation of the Netflix series, director Kat Coiro stated the character’s return to the MCU is both “very conscious” and “very much planned” on Marvel’s part.

I don’t know if I’m allowed to talk about it, but it’s very conscious and it’s very much planned. That’s all I can say.

[Comic Book]

Armor Wars

Don Cheadle also implied there’s movement on the upcoming Armor Wars series at Disney+ in response to a fan on Twitter.

What We Do in the Shadows

Speaking with TV Line, Harvey Guillén stated Guillermo will “finally be honest with himself” as he reconnects with his family in tonight’s episode of What We Do in the Shadows.

This season we dive into Guillermo questioning lots of things. We dive into his love interest and who that might be, and we question his family dynamic. And some of the questions that have been asked by the audience and by himself, they finally get answered this season. A lot of questions get answered this season. He’s going to finally be honest with himself and the question he asks himself in the mirror will be answered. We’re halfway through the season and if you notice, his fit has already changed, his attitude has changed, he’s a bit more sassy and doesn’t take bullshit from anyone anymore. That year in Europe, when he was in London with Nadja, really opened his eyes. He did an Eat, Pray, Love of his own. He self-discovered who he is, and he even came back with new fighting techniques that we did not know he had until the episode at the Night Market.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians

A new set photo has our first look at Walker Scobell, Leah Sava Jeffries and Aryan Simhadri as Jackson, Annabeth Chase and Grover Underwood in the upcoming Percy Jackson TV show.

Resident Alien

Asta reveals her secret to Dan in the synopsis for “The Weight,” the August 24 episode of Resident Alien.

Asta tells Dan about the shooting; Harry learns what it takes to be a good friend.

[Spoiler TV]


A serial killer in a duck costume wreaks havoc aboard a cruise ship in images from BBC Three’s new horror-comedy series, Wrecked. Head over to Bloody-Disgusting for more.

Photo: BBC
Photo: BBC
Photo: BBC
Photo: BBC

Roswell, New Mexico

Liz becomes addicted to alien mist in the trailer for “Follow You Down,” next week’s episode of Roswell, New Mexico.

Roswell, New Mexico 4x11 Promo “Follow You Down” (HD) Final Season

Interview With the Vampire

Finally, a TV spot for AMC’s Interview With the Vampire focuses on Louis de Pointe du Lac.

Anne Rice’s Interview With The Vampire | Quiet Dark | AMC

Banner art by Jim Cook

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Westworld's Fifth Season Will Be Its Last, If It Happens @ io9

The Man in Black heads home.Image: HBO

The much improved fourth season of HBO’s sci-fi series Westworld concluded last night with a cliffhanger for the ages. A cliffhanger that does, in fact, set up the end of the series. We just may never get to see it.

Recently, The Wrap spoke to Westworld co-creator Lisa Joy who confirmed that season 5 of Westworld will be the show’s final season. The only problem is HBO has not renewed the show yet, so it may not happen. Her quote gets into spoilers so, if you haven’t watched, beware...

“We had always planned on ending the series next season,” Joy told the trade. “You know, we always thought that Westworld should kind of come full circle and back to the West. But with Dolores, who was just a player in other people’s games, finally getting to write her own. Just to close up a lot of the stuff that we’ve seen before like the flashforward with The Man in Black and everything, so we have a plan for Season 5 but you know, life can make other plans for you. So we’ll just hope for the best.”

io9 reached out to HBO about this story but a spokesperson did not offer comment or clarification. As covered in our recap, Westworld season four ended with the updated version of Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) building a new version of the original Westworld in an attempt to give humanity one more chance at redemption. A chance that both humanity, and the hosts, have squandered time and time again. The difference this time though is she’s in control. It’s her world. her game.

“She was a ‘thing’ to people,” Joy said of Dolores. “She lived through countless lives and reboots where she was at the mercy of guests in a park, indulging in their vices and id. She’s seen a lot of human nature, and maybe enough to know how to structure something or give a game in which some kind of hope for it might emerge.”

Read more about the end of Westworld season 4 here and we’ll let you know if or when a fifth season is planned.

Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel and Star Wars releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about House of the Dragon and Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

Joe Keery Is Sick of You Talking About His Stranger Things Hair @ io9

Screenshot: Netflix

Steve Harrington is more than his hair. Joe Keery is four seasons in as Hawkins’ babysitter hero and he’s tired of the attention it gets over...everything else.

The Stranger Things mainstay told The Daily Beast recently, “It’s really ridiculous. It’s not something I have control over, it’s just internet fodder that’s carried over and is now attached to me.”

“I can’t really knock it. I have a career, so I have to be like, ‘Who cares? I’ll take it.’ But it’s also not something I care about at all,” the actor and musician continued. “Still, people seem to really care about it and fixate on it, for whatever reason. It’s so stupid, honestly.”

In his solo music work, he references it cheekily. “Your insults don’t affect me with my favorite coat on / I know my hair looked good in the bathroom at the bar,” he sings on “Gloom,” as part of a way to express his frustrations via music. Hair aside, we hope he expresses his feelings as Steve for Nancy musically too, that’s something to add to the what we want in Season 5 whiteboard. Let everyone who can sing get musical moments, please.

Before we see the conclusion to Netflix’s hit series, Keery hopes to branch out in upcoming projects before the final season of Stranger Things. He recently signed on for a role on FX’s Fargo and is set to debut his album DECIDE on September 16.

Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel and Star Wars releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about House of the Dragon and Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

Thankfully, Obi-Wan Kenobi Made This Very Crucial Change @ io9

Luke Skywalker huh? Good idea.Image: Lucasfilm

Obi-Wan Kenobi was a show filled with memorable fan-favorite moments but the one I’ll truly never forget was the skyline. In the show’s first episode, the largely Tatooine-based story cuts away to this lush, pristine-looking planet. Fans instantly knew where we were and what it meant—this was Alderaan, home of Leia Organa—and the ramifications were huge. But that was not the original plan.

Speaking at Fan Expo Boston this past weekend, Obi-Wan Kenobi himself Ewan McGregor said that the story was originally about his character and that other Skywalker sibling. “It was going to be a story about me and Luke,” McGregor said. “It was always going to be that, and that was one of the genius moments where everyone went, ‘Wait a minute,’ and then changed it.”

This revelation is somehow both shocking and expected. If Star Wars has taught us anything in the past 10 years, it’s that more often than not, the story is going to be about the same thing: the Skywalkers. Even shows that are seemingly offshoots like The Mandalorian or The Book of Boba Fett end up circling back to the Skywalkers. So that the Obi-Wan Kenobi show was, originally, going to be about Obi-Wan and Luke makes total sense. That’s the easy way to take the story. It’s the story we know. However, because of the fact it’s so obvious, that someone actually recognized that and flipped it, feels almost equally surprising. It was 100% the right choice...even if it is, still, about the Skywalkers.

Plus, it was a surprise that held until the minute the show premiered, only adding to the excitement. McGregor went on to praise the company for adhering to that secrecy. “That’s the beautiful thing about how passionate Disney, Lucasfilm, all of us are, who are involved with it is from the beginning is we try really hard not to let anything of the bad just to protect your experience of seeing it for the first time,” McGregor said. “I think it’s really cool that Disney and Lucasfilm care so much for the fan experience. They really want you to have a 100% experience the first time you see it, and if you’ve read that, and that leaked, and this came out, it’s just a bit of a shame isn’t it? It’s like looking at your Christmas presents before Christmas Day.”

It’s mindblowing how different the show we saw on Disney+ was from all the iterations before it. Remember it was also going to be a film trilogy? And so when fans ask “Why are Star Wars shows or movies sometimes not that great” or “Why is the next project taking so long?” just look at how much Obi-Wan Kenobi changed.

At the same event, McGregor said he’d love to come back and make more Kenobi, but that no one has approached him yet. Do you want to see more? Let us know below.

Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel and Star Wars releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about House of the Dragon and Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

Spider-Man's PC Release Is Making Me Fall in Love With One of Spidey's Most Maligned Suits Again @ io9

Thwip.Screenshot: Insomniac/Sony

When Andrew Garfield’s first picture as Spider-Man was revealed, webheads around the world were agog at what has become one of the most, if not the most, controversial of Peter’s many movie costumes over the years. The long spider-logo, the rubbery, basketball-esque texture, the balance between red and blue. But I can’t help but love it—and Spider-Man Remastered’s latest release is making me love it even more.

Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered—a graphical overhaul of the 2018 PS4 game first made for the launch of the Playstation 5 in 2020—hit PC last week, bringing the Playstation-exclusive and a whole web of fancy visual bells and whistles to computers for the first time. The Amazing suit was added to the game, alongside others, with the Remastered release, giving the title almost every contemporary Spider-Man movie suit (and many more beyond that). And although it’s been a few years since I last swung through Insomniac’s virtual NYC, getting the chance to do it on PC this past week has let me re-visit Peter’s most controversial movie design and appreciate it much more than I ever did on screen.

Screenshot: Insomniac/Sony

This is, in part, because the Amazing suit feels much more suited to the Peter of Marvel’s Spider-Man in a way than it does the inexperienced teen Garfield played in the movie. Peter’s a smart kid in Webb’s film, but the suit always felt too slick and too fancy for something a poor whiz kid could construct in secret out of scraps and materials ordered online. The older, more experienced Peter of the game feels much more at home constructing something like it, sliding just as neatly into the narrative of its story as its own home grown ‘advanced’ Spider-Suit does.

But it also helps that Spider-Man Remastered is just a very pretty game, and the chance to get up close with its costumes in its wonderful photo-mode makes it even easier to goggle at the craft and detail in the Amazing suit’s design. While some of the game’s more visually out-there suits like the faux-vintage comic book effect suit or, on the cinematic side of things, Peter B. Parker’s Into the Spider-Verse costume shine by just how much they embrace standing out visually on a more broad level—changing the way Peter moves, looks, and interacts with the environment—the Amazing suit shines in the moments when you stop, pause, and appreciate all its details up close. The way light highlights the little hexagonal texturing all over, that just fades away from view looking at it from the distance. All the little details like the padding on the hands and feet, or the reflective lenses in the mask. Hell, even the mere chance to actually see the suit in broad daylight more often, in stark contrast to the dark nights it’s often seen in in the movie.

I’ve already frequently spoken in the past about how Marvel’s Spider-Man turned me into an addled, J. Jonah Jameson-esque editor yelling about wanting Pictures, Pictures of Spider-Man, but the Amazing suit has had me stopping and pausing the game to enter photo mode almost as much as I have been actually playing Remastered itself, always finding a new angle or a new trick of the light that highlights the things I never got to appreciate in the suit’s design back when Amazing Spider-Man hit theaters.

Screenshot: Insomniac/Sony

It’s fitting that a game like Marvel’s Spider-Man—a celebration of just what makes Peter Parker work as a hero, a loving celebration of Spider-Man’s history and legacy—gave me a chance to re-examine one of Peter’s most maligned movie looks in a new light. After all, such a loving celebration of a character with as broad a visual history as Spider-Man should be able to highlight the things that make each of those visual changes work, no matter how maligned they might have been at the time. Letting the Amazing suit sit alongside some of Spider-Man’s most iconic looks across TV, films, and comics and shine in the way it never did on screen was worth all the years of waiting for its moment in the spider-spotlight again.

Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel and Star Wars releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about House of the Dragon and Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power Director Talks Expectations and Blending Genres @ io9

J.A. Bayona filming The Rings of Power.Image: Amazon Studios

In a few short weeks, Amazon becomes Middle Earth. The trillion-dollar company has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in bringing the latest iteration of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings franchise to its streaming service. That show, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, debuts September 2, and few premiere episodes in entertainment history have as much riding on them as this one. Everyone had better watch and love it. That’s where J.A. Bayona comes in.

Bayona is best known for directing Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, but also the poetic fantasy A Monster Calls, the horrific The Orphanage, and the real-life disaster drama The Impossible. Now he’s at the helm of the first two episodes of The Rings of Power and, earlier this summer, io9 spoke to him about those expectations and more. Check out the interview below.

This interview has been edited for clarity.

Germain Lussier, io9: So when I first saw footage from the show, my first thought was just how epic it was and how seamlessly its look fit in with the look that we are so familiar with from the Peter Jackson films. So, I was wondering, was that on purpose? And if so, how did you reach that decision?

J.A. Bayona: Well, I love the movies and what I really appreciate is how faithful Peter Jackson was, how truthful, to the spirit of Tolkien. So to me, it was more about going to Tolkien and going to the source material. I think when you read the books, you can see how epic they are and you can see the size of the scope of the series,. And I think it was more reading the books again and trying to portray that on the screen instead of going to the movies.

io9: Oh wow, so am I just reading into that? Because it seemed like even some of the camera moves and the visual effects were crafted so that, if you were to binge all of it, it would all fit together.

Bayona: Well, to me it’s like exactly the same way Tolkien used the language as the basics. So he was inventing characters, inventing a language, and [inventing] worlds. To me, it’s all about the language always. But this is the language of the camera. I had beautiful words and actions written by Patrick [McKay] and J.D. [Payne] and I tried to bring this cinematic element to the story.

A Middle Earth sunset.Image: Amazon Studios

io9: Now you directed the first two episodes of the series, which is a big deal because you’re setting the tone for everything: the look, the feel, it’s like directing the first two movies of a franchise. So what did you find most challenging or intimidating about kind of getting in there on the ground floor?

Bayona: I think to portray the level of beauty that you find in the books is such a massive endeavor. I’m glad that Amazon had the ambition to go there. Also, if you think about the movies, the bar was set so high that we can not offer less to the audience, you know? So to me, it was to be at the level of the expectations, not only for the people who saw the movies but the people who had read the books.

io9:How did you end up on the project in the first place? Because you’ve been on it very early. Did you hear Amazon bought this and you told your agent to go after it or did they come after you?

Bayona: I remember that I read about the show and I was curious like, “Oh, that seems like a very good idea,” because television allows you to give the space and the time that Tolkien spent in telling the story and the story of these characters. And then I got a call from my agent that Patrick and J.D. wanted to meet me. I didn’t know anything about it. I didn’t know if it was going to be a repetition of the same story but then I sat down with Patrick and J.D., and I was very gladly surprised by what they told me. I think it was very smart and clever to do a Second Age [story], which is something that Tolkien planned, but was never that specific. So it gave us a lot of freedom to create new storylines and characters, but at the same time be faithful to the plan that Tolkien already had.

Bayona with Payne (left) and McKay (right)Image: Amazon Studios

io9: In addition to directing, you’re also an executive producer on the series. Tell me a little bit about how your work on the franchise continued after you finished directing your first two episodes.

Bayona: Yeah, basically I focused on the first and second episodes, so I established the tone and helped Patrick and J.D. in choosing all the actors and designing each world. And then we sat down and we read all the scripts for first for the first season and we talked about it. That’s what we did, basically. 

io9: Now, obviously, like with Jurassic World [Fallen Kingdom], you had experience jumping into a franchise in the middle and dealing with huge expectations. Did that experience have any bearing on your feelings going into this? Did you have any trepidations tackling something with those kinds of expectations?

Bayona: Yeah, I mean, you can notice the pressure, but in the end, you need to rely on your interpretation. I’m glad that I was able to do a Jurassic movie that feels so different from the other ones. I was able to bring my stamp there. And from the very beginning when I sat down with Patrick and J.D., I knew that I was at the service of their story. I really like what they were planning to tell, and I tried to bring my best in order to enhance what they were doing.

A Rings of Power orc. Image: Amazon Studios

io9: Now, I know we can’t talk too much about stories and stuff, but there are obviously lots of different characters and lots of different stories in the show. Were there any particular kinds of pockets, characters, or stories that you gravitated towards personally?

Bayona: I mean, it’s such a rich and complex universe and so different. So if you want to go for [nature], you would find the Harfoots. If you want to get more political, you will go to the Elves. There’s melodrama when you go to humans. It feels very rich and complex, and I really enjoy it a lot working with each of the worlds. I love movies in general and I love all genres. And somehow the world of Tolkien allows you to pick up a little bit of all of them in the story.

io9: That’s so cool. Going back a bit, certain people are very familiar with this franchise, not just from reading the books for decades, but also from the films. So are there anyways besides the time period that you specifically said, “We want to make this different and stand out?”

Bayona: I think what Patrick and J.D. did was to capture how rich the characters are. I was very surprised how alive the characters felt on the page. Actually, I felt very protective of those scripts, and the decision after talking to them and seeing this couple of guys so passionate, so different from each other, I felt protective. To me, it was all about that.

Just a beautiful-looking showImage: Amazon Studios

io9: Before watching Rings of Power, do you think it would be helpful for the fans to reread the books or re-watch the movies? Or is there anything, in particular, fans should concentrate on to maximize the experience?

Bayona: To me, it would be very exciting if people were interested in going back to the books or read them for the first time after they watch the show. But if they want to read it before the show, I think it’s also great because they will know where the story is heading and they can get even more excited knowing that when they watch the show.

io9: Last thing, there’s going to be multiple seasons of this show beyond season two. Would you like to come back and direct some more episodes?

Bayona: Yes, for sure. I have great memories from my time in New Zealand, and now that they are in London, it’s easier for me.

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power debuts September 2.

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Exclusive Jurassic World Dominion Bonus Feature Clip @ io9

John Wick Spin-off Series The Continental Set For Peacock @ io9

Screenshot: Lionsgate

The John Wick universe finds its streaming home on Peacock. Starting in 2023 the prequel spin-off will premiere with the first three films in the series to coincide with the release of John Wick: Chapter 4.

In the three-part special The Continental, audiences will get to find out the origin story behind the hotel in the 70's where we meet the younger version of Ian McShane’s Winston Scott (played by Colin Woodell) and Lance Reddick’s Charon (Ayomide Adegun) as they become partners to take over the luxury killer hub and all the bodies it will invariably cost to build it. We’re interested to see what seems to be the most action packed hotel renovation show.

The ensemble will include Peter Greene, who will portray a young Uncle Charlie (the body disposal expert), Mel Gibson as Cormac, Ben Robson as Frankie, Hubert Point-Du Jour as Miles, Jessica Allain as Lou, Mishel Prada as KD, and Nhung Kate as Yen.  Thats a lot of characters to feud on the property to potentially provide the examples of why some of the strict rules end up in place. Lots of deadly trial and error we hope.

The story from writers and showrunners Greg Coolidge and Kirk Ward is “told from the perspective of the hotel manager, a young Winston Scott” who has to “face a past he thought he’d left behind. In an attempt to seize control of the iconic hotel, which serves as a meeting point for the world’s most dangerous criminals, Winston charts a deadly course through the mysterious underworld of New York City.” Yes, give us all that bloody violence against the backdrop of disco neon and glitter with killer needle drops.

Directors on board include Albert Hughes, who helms the first and third nights and Charlotte Brandstrom who directs the second night. The Continental is executive produced by Coolidge and Ward alongside Albert Hughes, Thunder Road Pictures’ Basil Iwanyk and Erica Lee, Chad Stahelski, Derek Kolstad, David Leitch, Shawn Simmons, Paul Wernick, Rhett Reese and Marshall Persinger. 

The Continental is due to be released on Peacock sometime in 2023 and John Wick: Chapter Four is out in theaters on March 2023,

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Guillermo del Toro's Netflix Horror Anthology Drops a Frightful First Trailer @ io9

Image: Netflix

On October 25, just in time for Halloween, Netflix is releasing Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities across a four-day event. Two episodes will be released daily up until the 28th, making for a fascinating anthology release schedule that pushes the boundaries of genre, taste, and practical effects.

The first-look trailer has dropped, and it is as macabre, magical, gothic, grotesque, and “classically creepy” as the press release states. With six original pieces from the writers and two original stories by del Toro, this anthology was brought to life by a team of writers and directors personally chosen by the Oscar-winning director.


“With Cabinet of Curiosities, we set out to showcase the realities existing outside of our normal world: the anomalies and curiosities. We hand-picked and curated a group of stories and storytellers to deliver these tales, whether they come from outer space, supernatural lore, or simply within our minds,” said Guillermo del Toro in the Netflix press release.

The list of names attached to this series is full of incredible talent, both behind the camera and off screen. Below we have the full list of titles as well as the select cast and showrunners attached to each episode.


  • Rupert Grint (Servant), Ismael Cruz Cordova (Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, The Undoing, Miss Bala), DJ Qualls (Turning Point, Supernatural), Nia Vardalos (Love, Victor, Station 19, My Big Fat Greek Wedding) and Tenika Davis (Jupiter’s Legacy, Titans) star in an episode written by Mika Watkins (Origin; Black Mirror; Troy: Fall of a City) (based on a short story by H.P. Lovecraft) and directed by Catherine Hardwicke (Thirteen; Lords of Dogtown; Twilight)


  • David Hewlett (SEE, The Shape of Water; Stargate: Atlantis) stars in an episode written (based on a short story by Henry Kuttner) and directed by Vincenzo Natali (In The Tall Grass; Splice; Cube; Hannibal)

LOT 36

  • Tim Blake Nelson (Watchmen; The Ballad of Buster Scruggs), Elpidia Carrillo (Predator; Bread & Roses; Euphoria), Demetrius Grosse (Fear The Walking Dead; Boon; Lovecraft Country) and Sebastian Roché (The Man in the High Castle; The Young Pope) star in an episode written by Regina Corrado (Deadwood; The Strain) (based on an original story by Guillermo del Toro); and directed by Guillermo Navarro (Godfather of Harlem; Narcos)


  • Ben Barnes (Shadow and Bone; Westworld; The Punisher), Crispin Glover (Rivers Edge; Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland; American Gods; Back To The Future; Willard; Charlie’s Angels), and Oriana Leman (The Whale; The Detectives) star in an episode written by Lee Patterson (Curve; The Colony) (based on a short story by H.P. Lovecraft) and directed by Keith Thomas (Firestarter; The Vigil) 


  • Academy Award winner F. Murray Abraham (Mythic Quest; Homeland; Amadeus), Glynn Turman (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom; Fargo; The Wire) and Luke Roberts (Ransom; Black Sails) will appear in an episode written by David S. Goyer (The Sandman; Dark City; The Dark Knight; Batman Begins) (based on a short story by Michael Shea), and directed by David Prior (The Empty Man; AM1200)


  • Essie Davis (The Babadook), Andrew Lincoln (The Walking Dead; Penguin Bloom) and Hannah Galway (Sex/Life) star in an episode written (based on an original story by Guillermo del Toro) and directed by Jennifer Kent (The Babadook; The Nightingale)


  • Kate Micucci (The Little Hours; Mom) and Martin Starr (Silicon Valley; Party Down) lead an episode written by Haley Z. Boston (Brand New Cherry Flavor) (based on a short story by comic book author Emily Carroll) and directed by Ana Lily Amirpour (A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night; Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon; The Bad Batch)


  • Peter Weller (upcoming The Colosseum; Naked Lunch; Star Trek Into Darkness; Robocop), Eric André (The Eric Andre Show; The Righteous Gemstones), Sofia Boutella (Kingsman: The Secret Service; upcoming Rebel Moon), Charlyne Yi (Always Be My Maybe; Good Girls), Steve Agee (Peacemaker; The Suicide Squad), Michael Therrialt (Locke and Key; Cult of Chucky) and Saad Siddiqui (From Scratch; DC’s Legends of Tomorrow) star in an episode directed by Panos Cosmatos (Mandy), who also writes, along with Aaron Stewart-Ahn.

Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel and Star Wars releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about House of the Dragon and Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

Dragon Ball: Super Hero Has the Fighting Spirit to Give Super a Comeback @ io9

Image: Toei Animation/Crunchyroll

Ever since Dragon Ball Z aired on Toonami in 1998, the animated adaptation of Akira Toriyama’s shonen series has stood as one of the most beloved anime in the west. It’s so popular that even though there hasn’t been a new episode of Dragon Ball Super since 2018, and the film Dragon Ball Super: Broly released that same year, the franchise has lived on largely due to the many video games from Bandai Namco and an extremely passionate fanbase.

There’ve been many films throughout Dragon Ball history, but as the first brand new film in four years, Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero feels like it’s bursting at the seams to finally arrive. It’s so happy to be here, and nowhere does it show more than in the presentation. Rather than continue the 2D art style that the anime is best known for, Super Hero goes for a stylized CG/3D look reminiscent of recent Dragon Ball fighting games. It’s a look that suits the franchise quite well. Whether it’s Piccolo (Toshio Furukawa in Japanese, Christopher Sabat in English) trying to whip Gohan (Masako Nozawa/Kyle Hebert) back into Saiyan shape or the lively newcomer Gamma 2 (Mamoru Miyano/Zeno Robinson) having comic book sound effects punctuate his heroic poses and attacks, Super Hero has a lot of charm and personality throughout its runtime.

Image: Toei Animation/Crunchyroll

It’s in the action scenes where the new look really shines. Director Tetsuro Kodama makes each brawl feel like they’d be the climax of most other superhero movies. And even in the few fights where characters aren’t flying all around the battlefield, those scraps still manage to feel big. The camera will swing around, or use wide shots to convey how larger-than-life these fights are, and with multiple superpowered characters of varying power levels on hand, Super Hero has plenty of variety in its setpieces. Watching Saiyans and Androids (and Krillin) beat each other up, often leaving an absurd amount of destruction in their wake, never stops being cool. Even a fight midway through between Goku (Nozawa/Sean Schemmel) and Vegeta (Ryo Horikawa/Sabat) that doesn’t really have any business being here feels worth the price of admission because the film just loves to be as bombastic as it possibly can.

And when it’s not delivering one superpowered fight after the other, it’s silly. Super Hero makes a great case for why Piccolo’s a fan favorite character, and he’s constantly funny throughout the film. Just watching him break his aloof demeanor as he reacts to everything around him is always amusing; and even when he’s not being used as a vessel for humor, the film gets some good laughs. A section during the film’s second act features funny background humor from Gamma 2 and fellow Android Gamma 1 (Hiroshi Kamiya/Aleks Le), and there are a pair of bits where Gohan’s daughter Pan (Yuko Minaguchi/Jeannie Tirado) appears to be in more danger than she actually is, but have funny payoffs. Other times, particularly towards the end as stakes start to ramp up, that humor can feel out of place.

Super Hero brings so much to the table visually, that it’s a shame that it can’t entirely do so narratively. After establishing at the start that the Red Ribbon Army from the original Dragon Ball series has been rebuilt and now ready to take revenge against Goku and the other Z Warriors, Super Hero spends much of its time not letting the villains have a comeback that they feel is in their grasp. As Piccolo tries to simultaneously learn what the reborn Red Ribbon is doing and get Gohan into proper shape to get in on the action, its primary villains Magenta (Volcano Ōta/Charles Martinet) and Dr. Hedo (Miyu Irino/Zach Aguilar) don’t have much to do except wait for such a moment when they have to pull out their big gun for the film’s climax. And this isn’t just exclusive to them: the Gammas have a fun rapport and look dynamite in the fights, to say nothing of how much life their respective voice actors give them. But the movie isn’t interested in these two very much from a character standpoint, which means the questions the film raises about what makes a hero, and what lengths one will go to protect those they love, fall flat.

Image: Toei Animation/Crunchyroll

This is the 21st Dragon Ball film, but it suffers from “First Movie” syndrome, where it feels like it easily could’ve been an arc of the mothership show, and not much would change. At 99 minutes, the film can feel like it needed either more time or a stronger structure. Or maybe it just needed more time to let its events breathe: the entire film takes place over the course of a single day, and with that timeframe in mind, it can be easy to notice that the film is just biding its time until it can blow everyone away with its third act megabrawl. Much of a visual stunner as it is, the path to getting to that point can feel arduous.

Super Hero is a relative fresh start for Dragon Ball Super, and seems to be taking refuge in that. On its own merits, it’s a solid film with a gorgeous animation style and an infectious energy that makes it hard to dislike. Its heart is in the right place, and for longtime fans, it’s certainly worth seeing. But as the Z Warriors have taught us time and again, you can always get stronger. Whatever the next film to follow will be, hopefully it’ll truly live up to the “Super” in the series’ title.

Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero will release in theaters on August 19.

Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel and Star Wars releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about House of the Dragon and Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

Rings of Power's Stars Had to Go Through Extreme Lengths to Keep it Secret, Keep it Safe @ io9

Image: Ben Rothstein/Prime Video

A little bit of secrecy is to be expected when dealing with a massive tentpole production like Amazon Prime’s Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power series, but the extreme lengths that the production went to were not quite as effective as they might have hoped.

Ismael Cruz Córdova, who plays the newly-introduced elf, Arondir, told Time magazine that most of the actors hadn’t seen the script when they were asked to audition. He didn’t even know what character he was supposed to play, stating that the description they gave him was for an “Aragorn-type man.” But then when they flew Córdova out to New Zealand for a final read, they said “Actually, you’re playing an elf. It started to make sense because I was like, ‘Why does this man love trees so much?’”

Keeping scripts, auditions, and even characters a secret is pretty par for the course at this point, but when you’re introducing completely new characters to a franchise it feels a little bit like overkill. It’s not as if Lord of the Rings is hurting for obscure characters, but to pretend like you’re not even filming the show borders on silly. Córdova even mentioned that he got the email offering him the part in “secret code.”

According to Time, while the studio swore the actors to secrecy after they had signed their contracts, “Lots of people guessed,” said Morfydd Clark (the young Galadriel). “Because when you’re moving to New Zealand, and your phone dial is suddenly different …”

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Suddenly, Pretty Little Liars Takes Place in the Riverdale-Verse @ io9

See? Bad nuns,Screenshot: The CW

Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa has been a very busy man for many years now; among the pile of hats he’s currently wearing include the executive producer caps of both Riverdale and the Pretty Little Liars spin-off Original Sin. Now he has used his terrible power to smash the two TV universes together to form one.

In the most recent episode of Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin, the new generation of good-looking liars went to Rosewood, home of the OG liars, only to discover the inhabitants of Rosewood’s Radley Sanitarium were “sent to the Sisters of Quiet Mercy over in Riverdale” once it was turned into a hotel. That’s bad news for the patients, as the nuns there were drug dealers who eventually committed mass suicide, but it’s still a rather definitive connection between the two shows. As Aguirre-Sacasa told TV Line:

“We kind of just wrote that line in. I assumed that we wouldn’t be allowed to reference Riverdale, since it’s in a completely different universe, but it stayed in. So, yeah, I guess it does exist in the same universe. ... That was obviously just a fun Easter egg in an episode with the biggest Easter egg of them all, which is going to Rosewood.”

Full disclosure: I have seen every minute of the first Pretty Little Liars television series, having been promised sinister, soapy, ridiculous delights. Those ended up being few and very far between, but Riverdale ended up delivering everything I had hoped PLL would provide and more. (So, so, so much more.) Honestly, if you added up all the twists, turns, and madness of an entire season of Pretty Little Liars, it would probably equal an episode and a half of Riverdale. All I’m saying is that Original Sin should be honored to be a part of the Riverdale-verse, and if the show gets in the way of a very angry Jughead being stuck in the ‘50s I will never forgive it.

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David Tennant Teases Even More Familiar Faces for Doctor Who's 60th Anniversary @ io9

Image: BBC

Jaume Collet-Serra talks casting Pierce Brosnan for Black Adam. Filming has already begun on season four of The Mandalorian. The Witcher’s third season resumes filming after Henry Cavill’s covid-19 diagnosis. Plus, new looks at Resident Alien and Primal. Spoilers, away!

Black Adam

Director Jaume Collet-Serra discussed his decision to cast Pierce Brosnan as Dr. Fate in a new interview with Vanity Fair.

You need a special actor to play, basically, a legend. Dr. Fate is a very powerful being, so you need someone like Pierce who can play powerful without it being overly done. He can do it in a very subtle way. I mean, he’s one of the coolest people in the world — he was James Bond! But as a person, he’s magnetic, so warm with such gravitas.

Shazam! Fury of the Gods

Relatedly, composer Christophe Back shared behind-the-scenes footage of his orchestra recording the Shazam! Fury of the Gods soundtrack on Instagram.

Three Thousand Years of Longing

The latest trailer for George Miller’s Three Thousand Years of Longing plays up the rom-com aspects while reminding audiences tickets are now available for pre-order.


Under Wraps 2

Harold and the kids go up against “a super powerful evil mummy with a laser scepter” in the trailer for Under Wraps 2, premiering September 25 on the Disney Channel.

Under Wraps 2 Trailer | Disney Channel Original Movie

The Mandalorian

According to the latest issue of Production Weekly, filming is currently underway on the fourth season of The Mandalorian.

Love, Death + Robots

Netflix has also officially ordered a fourth season of Love, Death+ Robots.

The Witcher

Redanian Intelligence reports Henry Cavill has resumed filming the third season of The Witcher after recently testing positive for covid-19.

Doctor Who

During a recent appearance at Fan Expo Boston, David Tennant teased the leaked photos of himself with Catherine Tate on the set of Doctor Who’s 60th anniversary special “aren’t even close to the whole story,” adding “many other [familiar] people” were also present.

Gen V

Footage of a restaurant covered in A-Train posters from the set of The Boys’ upcoming spinoff, Gen V, has also leaked online.

Secret Invasion

Reshoots have officially wrapped on Secret Invasion according to Samuel L. Jackson on Instagram.

Double Goodness, Wrap Day & World Elephant Day!! Had to break out my pachypants!!Fury chills, Doaker begins Monday👊🏾👊🏾#secretinvasion#thepianolessononbroadway#pachydermday


Another photo of Vincent D’Onfrio on the set of Echo has surfaced.


Meanwhile, Loki reunites with Sylvie in behind-the-scenes photos from Loki season two.

We also have set footage of what looks like Loki firing something from his hands in front of a jet ski dealership.

She-Hulk: Attorney at Law

Cameos abound in the latest trailer for She-Hulk: Attorney at Law premiering this Thursday on Disney+.

Resident Alien

Spoiler TV has photos from this week’s episode of Resident Alien, “The Ghost of Bobby Smallwood.” More at the link.

Asta helps Harry learn how to deal with his newfound fear of death.

Photo: Syfy
Photo: Syfy
Photo: Syfy


Finally, vengeful vikings come for Spear, Fang and Mira in a new clip from “Vidarr,” this week’s episode of Primal.

Primal | S2E6 Sneak Peek: Vikings Attack Spear and Mira’s Boat | adult swim

Banner art by Jim Cook

Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel and Star Wars releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about House of the Dragon and Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

Westworld's Season 4 Finale Was Bleak, Brutal, and Beautiful @ io9

Photo: John P. Johnson/HBO

As it had to, it came down to Dolores and the Man in Black.

Forget Caleb’s rescue. Forget Maeve’s death. Forget Bernard’s nine-million-step plan. Forget humanity, forget the Hosts, forget everything. None of it matters now. Westworld has swept away the old world more thoroughly and efficiently than the Man in Black, Host or otherwise, could have ever dreamed of doing. Hell, the show has almost gotten rid of itself, given that by the time the credits roll, almost the entirety of the cast has been killed: Maeve and Bernard are still dead, Stubbs gets ignominiously murdered by Clementine, who is taken out by Franky; Caleb refuses to leave with his daughter because his Host body is deteriorating rapidly, and the resurrected Hale puts the Man in Black down for good, then destroys her own pearl.

“Que Sera, Sera” is bleak. It’s bleak, brutal, and maybe even a little perverse. Westworld could have given somebody some kind of a happy ending somewhere other than Franky reuniting with her girlfriend and sailing away. It would have been nice for Stubbs to have died a hero’s death, or for Caleb to get to spend some more time with his daughter. But everyone and everything had to go for Westworld to make its point. 

The episode starts with just ceaseless killing, of humans and Hosts alike to the point it’s almost comical. The Man in Black—and I think we should drop the William at this point—says he’s made one final game for everyone to play, i.e. “last man standing.” But he doesn’t really want anyone left standing. He wants to burn the real world down, and to burn the fake world—the Sublime—down with it.

After Drone Hosts resurrect Hale (with a few improvements), she discovers that message Bernard was listening to wasn’t for himself, but for her. When he said humans and Hosts would both go extinct, he wasn’t lying—but he also wasn’t lying when he said there was a chance that a small part of the world could be saved. But first, it’s Hale’s decision: Whether she wants to take Christina/Dolores’ Pearl core, which also contains the data of all the people in the city (or at least the stories she wrote for them), and upload it to the Sublime to give those people and the Hosts already inside a new chance at life. It’s a life in a data drive, but a life nonetheless.

Photo: John P. Johnson/HBO

I don’t think it matters much why Hale-Dolores decides to save the Sublime. Maybe it’s to thwart the Man in Black. Maybe she felt culpable for destroying the real world. Maybe Bernard’s message got to her, or maybe she just hoped something was better than nothing, no matter what form that took. So she and the Man in Black race to Hoover Dam where Bernard had opened the Sublime, Hale finds the gun carefully planted there by Bernard last episode, finally kills the Man in Black and crushes his Pearl, then uploads Christina-Dolores and all her data into the Sublime. And then Hale commits suicide.

The physical world is over. All humans and Hosts are dead, or will die soon. If you were still doubting Bernard (which is reasonable), Christina could not make it clearer: “Hosts and humans were given the gift of intelligent life and we used it to usher in our own annihilation. A few may escape death for a few months, maybe even a few years, but ultimately their kind will go extinct. … Sentient life on earth has ended.” Life as we know it is over.

As we know it, but not as Christina—not as Dolores—knows it. “Sentient life on earth has ended. But some part of it might still be preserved… in another world. My world. There’s time for one last game. A dangerous game, with the highest of stakes—survival, or extinction. This game ends where it began, in a world like a maze. That tests who we are. That reveals what we are to become. One last loop around the bend. Maybe this time, we’ll set ourselves free.”

And Dolores, back and whole, creator of stories, thwarts the Man in Black. She makes a new world there in the Sublime, for the Hosts inside it and perhaps even the data of the humans she’s internalized—a new world. but a familiar one. Westworld.

The finale is so final I had to check to see if Westworld was going to have a fifth season. To my surprise, the show has not been renewed yet, but Ed Harris has made comments suggesting the show isn’t over. But “Que Sera, Sera” wraps up everything the show has been doing for the past few years so perfectly that I honestly want the show to be over.

It’s the perfect ending—beings that have evolved beyond bodies, beyond reality, beyond humanity and Hosts. One more chance to see if those remaining can finally transcend their flaws or succumb to them. I don’t need to see how that plays out. I want to wonder, and doubt, and hope. Maybe this time, they’ll set themselves free.

Photo: John P. Johnson/HBO

Assorted Musings:

  • Another reason this would be a great series finale: There are only two main characters who are currently alive, and then only technically: Dolores, now presumably the god of Westworld, and Teddy, who is somewhere in the Sublime.
  • I can’t believe that Man in Black called that kid a camper. He was totally a camper, but I prefer William not know 21st-century gamer lingo.
  • Supposedly Hale’s city was New York, and the Hoover Dam is in Nevada. I’m very curious how Hale took a future-copter and the Man in Black took a truck and horse and still beat her there.

Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel and Star Wars releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about House of the Dragon and Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

Xenoblade Chronicles 3's Teen Heroes Turn a Good Game Into a Great One @ io9

Image: Nintendo/Monolith Soft

All narrative-focused video games live and die on their cast of characters, and nowhere is this more true than in RPGs. Just as it’s easy to get swept up into an interesting world by the party members and supporting cast you meet along the way, it’s just as viable to realize the characters in the game are a burden or worse, deeply uninteresting. Fortunately, the teens who make up the party of Monolith Soft’s recently released JRPG Xenoblade Chronicles 3 are great.

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is set in the world of Aionios as the kingdoms of Agnus and Keves have been locked in a years-long war. On both sides, soldiers are vat-grown and given a ten-year lifespan, during which they train and before going right into battle. Soldiers killed on the battlefield have their essence absorbed into the other faction’s giant mecha, who are powered by a device called a Flame Clock. If a Flame Clock runs out or gets destroyed, then the soldiers associated with it will instantly die, and that subsequent energy goes into the other faction’s mech. From there, the game opens on a trio of Kevesi soldiers: Noah, who plays his flute to help fallen soldiers move on to the next life, medic Eunnie, and defender Lanz.

Regardless of genre, it can be very easy for video games to get teenage or young adult characters wrong. Making teen characters feel authentic is something the medium—much like Hollywood or television—can struggle with, even with the best of intentions. That’s not the case in Xenoblade 3. The game opens with Noah’s group, and they’re compelling right from the start. Before the game has its occasionally overly long flashback cutscenes, you can tell that the trio’s time together has been just as full of loss as it has been ensuring one another survives their battles. They bicker and listen to one another like they’ve known each other for years, and the game succeeds in making you feel like you’re there with them.

Within an hour or two, the game’s plot kicks in when Noah, Lanz, and Eunnie cross paths with Agnus specialists Mio, Sena, and Taion. After fighting each other and then teaming up to fight a mech monster, the teens find that specific pairings of their group can fuse to become different mechs, and all six of them are freed from their respective Flame Clocks. Now removed from the literal biological clocks that help dictate their lives, the teens find themselves forced to stick together.

Through the power of friendship, let’s beat this dude’s ass!Screenshot: Nintendo/Monolith Soft

More than the combat or the bigness of the world, the banter between the party is what’s made Xenoblade Chronicles 3 so enjoyable across my current 16 hour, three-chapter playtime. The teens are just fun in the way that anime typically excels at. For every moment that they’re cool in player-controller combat or a cutscene, there’s another moment where you’re reminded of how young they literally and figuratively are. Combined with the curiosity they share about their new lease on life and the larger world around them, they become endearing pretty quickly. Noah and Mio are clearly billed as the game’s protagonists, and I do like them, but it’s Sena, Taion, Lanz, and Eunnie that have my heart.

Unity and “friendship is magic” are well worn tropes at this point, especially in anime, but I will damned if that doesn’t still work on me. The cutscenes where the teens first fuse into their mech forms—Noah and Mio get it early on, followed a chapter later by Lanz and Sena in one form and Eunnie in Taion in the other—feel earned, and in gameplay, it can be incredibly satisfying to watch AI-controlled party members fuse of their own volition. When an AI-controlled “Hero” character bestows their class to a particular party member after a specific side mission, it can be fun trying to figure out who’s going to be The One, and it’s satisfying when it’s eventually revealed who that special someone is.

One of my favorite games of 2021 was Bandai Namco’s Scarlet Nexus, an anime action-RPG that also featured a cast of soldiers forced to band together in the midst of a war. Both it and Xenoblade 3 place an emphasis on making the characters connect to each other both on a narrative and gameplay level, with Nexus relying on gift giving and visual novel-style sequences where the cast would hang out or fight together. Xenoblade 3's approach to bonds is a little more literal, and doesn’t allow you to cheat its systems like Nexus did. At campsites, you can watch the cast sit together and eat, or have them train to get stronger. When finding the bodies of fallen soldiers in the open world, Noah or Mio can play their flutes to send those soldiers off to the next life, and occasionally, they’ll play their respective melodies together.

Image: Nintendo/Monolith Soft

At all times, it feels like the teens are on the path to becoming friends, if they already aren’t already. So strong are the vibes that even the recycled dialogue lines in combat and the open world continue to have a certain charm to them. (That’s right, Sena, you are the girl with the gall.) The game isn’t subtle about its ambitions, but considering the pretty messed up world these teens live in, it’s nice that the game reinforces how hopeful they are and want to be about their situation.

Given how long Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is said to be, I know that I’ll feel that length at some point or another. So it’s a good thing I’m spending it all with such a great cast of characters who are worth being around.

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is available now for the Nintendo Switch.

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If You've Got Tinder, You Might Match with She-Hulk @ io9

Image: Marvel Studios

Throughout the many trailers and promos for Marvel’s She-Hulk, two things have been made clear: Jennifer Walters (Tatiana Maslany) is a lawyer suddenly tasked with handling superhuman-related cases, and she’s not terribly good at having a dating life. San Diego Comic-Con say the attorney-at-law open a hotline for those in need, and now she’s got herself her very own Tinder profile.

If you’ve got Tinder, then there’s a chance that her profile may pop up in your list of potential partners. Lest you get too excited at thinking there’d be someone to DM, the profile will just straight up tell you this is an ad for the show, complete with stock images of Jen that you’ve seen in the months up to release. And should you match, you can’t actually respond to them. It’s a shame that the bit is only surface level and the profile isn’t used to convey any personality for Jen, but it’s still a clever way to draw eyes onto the show.

Romances in superhero comics can be weird at best on an average day, and that’s just for the heavy hitter couples that have persisted for decades. (This isn’t even counting whatever the hell’s going on in the X-Men’s neck of the woods.) In 2017's Mighty Captain Marvel #9 from Margaret Stohl, Ted Brandt, and Ro Stein, Marvel briefly touched on the idea of superheroes trying to have a romantic life via the dating app ‘Cloak & Dater.’ Several of the big male Marvel heroes of the time, like Steve Rogers, T’Challa, and Tony Stark’s AI (possibly, it’s complicated), were among her matches.

This was a very silly gag, but since the comics are often testing grounds for MCU material, that’d be a good one to bring in for the shows. Maybe as Jen begins to accept her new life, she’ll decide to give that app a spin. Just speaking for myself, I think it’d be a funny way to have some cameos. Let her match with a new Iron Fist, Jessica Jones, or whomever else, and take them home. It’d certainly catch everyone’s attention!

She-Hulk will premiere on August 18, look for our review soon.

[H/T @jozopath]

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Stranger Things 5 Should Hopefully Have Less New Characters, Say Duffer Bros @ io9

Image: Netflix

If there’s one thing that can generally be agreed on about Stranger Things, it’s that the cast is so dang big. Between the Hawkins kids and their family members being spread out across the country making new friends, the various government and supernatural figures, and Hopper’s party in Russia, you could really feel like the fourth season was straining to give everyone something to do. Juggling so many characters isn’t an easy task, particularly when so many of them suddenly become fan favorites overnight.

But for the fifth and final season, creators Ross and Matt Duffer plan on keeping the focus on the show’s previously established characters. Speaking to IndieWire, the brothers confessed that they would “do our best” to not add new characters. Matt in particular said the final season would focus on “the OG characters,” so presumably the Hawkins kids, Hopper, and Joyce Byers who began this all back in season one.

The brothers further acknowledged the risk of introducing new characters, which often comes at the expense of screen time for veteran cast members. “Whenever we introduce a new character, we want to make sure that they’re going to be an integral part of the narrative,” said Ross. Using Joseph Quinn’s Eddie as an example, Ross continued that from conception to casting, they’re “careful” about the process of bringing new blood into the show. “We can’t add someone that’s going to just take away from our characters if they’re not terrific.”

Whenever a new actor is added to the cast, they’re aware of the risk that comes with getting a plotline to make them fit with the rest of the show, continued Matt. But for the most part, the brothers have found that the new additions have paid off, such as Sadie Sink’s Max and Maya Hawke’s Robin. “Because these actors are amazing it’s just really fun. I just like shaking it up, so we shake it up by changing the plot or adding in a new monster.”

Stranger Things’ fifth and final season will hit Netflix in 2024.

[via IGN]

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Bureau’s Breakroom’s Television Table – Week beginning 2022 August 14 @ Bureau 42

We finish off a few shows this week, with Evil wrapping its season.  Westworld also end their world.  Better Call Saul ends its whole show, but I am told there’s a new follow up show called Breaking Bad that should be available shortly.  She-Hulk: Attorney at Law drops on Disney, which doesn’t give us a description, but it’s a safe bet that regulars on this site already know what to expect.  MST3k takes on the Batwoman, bot not a DC version, the woman in the bikini and Adam West era bat-mask.  Primal and Cuphead’s return round out the table for anyone looking for some animation.

[All synopses (and titles) from Trakt.tv below the cut, except when there really aren’t any. (If a show’s synopsis is a spoiler to you, do not click Continue reading →)]

Evil – S03E10 – The Demon of the End – [Season Finale] The team investigates a household terrorized by a demonic infestation and is shocked when they find out the house is next door to Kristen’s. Meanwhile, Kristen is surprised to learn that her frozen egg was never destroyed and purchased anonymously which leads her on a new adventure.

Westworld – S04E08 – Que Será, Será – [Season Finale] Like what I’ve done with the place?

Better Call Saul – S06E12 – Waterworks – [Series Finale – No description given]

She-Hulk: Attorney at Law – S01E01 – Episode 1 – [Series premier – No description given, as Disney+ usually does]

Mystery Science Theater 3000 – S13E08 – The Batwoman – Batwoman is called to investigate a whacked-out scientist who is capturing wrestlers and using their spinal fluid to create a Gill Man. [No relation to any DC characters]

Primal – S2E06 – Vidarr – [No Description Given]

The Cuphead Show! – S02E01 – Episode 1 – [Season premier – No description given]


Open Channel: What's Your Favorite Anime Film? @ io9

Image: Funimation

Next weekend will see the release of Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero, the first film in the long-running Dragon Ball franchise since 2018. Our review of that film is on the way, but with that and the recently released historical musical film Inu-Oh, it’s as good a time as any to talk about this particular brand of animated movie.

Anime films have been around since we were all born, and even if you weren’t an anime fan, you possibly ended up seeing one as a child regardless. (As long as it looked like a cartoon and didn’t have blood in the trailer, it must’ve been good for kids, yeah?) If it wasn’t Pokémon: The First Movie in 1998, then it may have been one of the earlier Studio Ghibli films like Kiki’s Delivery Service or My Neighbor Totoro. It could’ve been Akira or Ghost in the Shell, depending on one’s age. Or maybe it was the first Digimon movie with that still incredibly strange prelude with Angela Anaconda.

There are a lot of anime films that get theatrical releases in the west each year, though that pace seems to have slowed down considerably since the pandemic hit in 2020. (Across 2020, 2021, and 2022, there’ve been between five and nine anime films that released in western theaters.) Not all of them are based on already popular shonen anime, but that’s typically the ones that draw the most attention, thanks to their already built-in fanbases. And the ones that have come out in recent years have been really good, like Jujutsu Kaisen and the second My Hero Academia film.

For this week’s Open Channel, tell us some of the best anime films you’ve seen.

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Disney's Bringing Rogue One Back to Theaters to Prep You for Andor @ io9

Image: Lucasfilm

The next Star Wars spinoff for Disney+ focuses on Diego Luna’s Cassian Andor from the 2016 film Rogue One. Andor helped steal the Empire’s plans for the Death Star and gave them to the Rebels, and his show winds back the clock several years to show how he got involved in the Rebellion. And if you’re the kind of person who’s thinking of rewatching Rogue One prior to the show’s release, you’ll soon be able to watch the film in the theaters again rather than on your couch.

Come August 26, Rogue One will be re-released in IMAX theaters, along with an “exclusive look” at Andor itself. (Maybe the first five or six minutes of the show?) Before the show got delayed to mid-September so She-Hulk had time to breathe, it would’ve premiered at the very end of August. Right now though, it’s now clear how widespread this re-release will be, and Fandango hasn’t put out a list of theaters that’ll feature the film. But hey, there’s a cool new poster to celebrate the occasion.

Since its release in 2016, Rogue One has been cited as one of the stronger Star Wars films in general, and the Disney era more specifically. (We really liked it ourselves back in 2016!) It’s also said to be one of the most underrated...just as long as you ignore that it made $1.1 billion dollars and received two Academy Awards. If you haven’t seen it in a few years, or even since it came out, it may be fun to see it in theaters, provided you feel safe to do so. And hey, maybe they’ve found a way to make CG Tarkin look less creepy in the intervening years.

[via Collider]

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Archie Takes Up Gardening @ Bureau 42

Weekly New Releases – August 16, 2022 @ Bureau 42

Baby Assassins
Comments Two recent high-school graduates turned professional assassins end up becoming room-mates while they work their cover jobs between hits. After the Yakuza blows their cover, they find themselves on the run.
Back-Up Plan
Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar
Bridge of San Luis Rey
Child’s Play (1988)
Child’s Play 2
Child’s Play 3
Coming Apart (Kino-Lorber)
Daddy Longlegs (Criterion Collection)
Don’t Tell Her It’s Me aka The Boyfriend School
Comments Blaine: Movies with two titles are often flops released twice hoping to slip under the radar and resell to the same people. How that happens in a movie with Shelley Long, Steven Guttenberg, and Kyle MacLachlan that was released in 1990 is a surprise to me. Regardless of quality, those names would sell tickets at that time.
Electra Glide in Blue (Kino-Lorber)
Frank and Penelope
Frownland (Criterion Collection)
Heavy Metal
Hidden Assets
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Johnny Mnemonic in Black and White
Comments The Keanu Reeves/Dolph Lundgren movie, but in black and white.
Kill a Dragon
Last Vegas
Mobile Suit Gundam Seed
My Own Private Idaho (Criterion Collection)
Red Dawn
Samson and the Seven Miracles of the World (Kino-Lorber)
Sniper: Rogue Mission
South Park
Stalag 17
They Went That-A-Way and That-A-Way
Videodrome (Criterion Collection)
Welcome to Demon School Iruma-kun
Comments Anime series about a 14-year old boy, Iruma, who is adopted by a demon after his selfish parents sells him to them. Iruma eventually ends up having to go to the Demon School where his adoptive father is headmaster, and he ends up having to try to hide the fact that he’s a normal human from his classmates.
What Women Want
What’s Eating Gilbert Grape

Finally, the picks of the week. Alex says, “I’m deeply curious to see how well Johnny Mnemonic does or does not work in black & white (and also which cut they’re using for this release). Otherwise, I’m going with Heavy Metal in 4K if you have the way to play 4K disks.” Blaine says, “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is the best of the titles I’ve seen, but My Own Private Idaho, Videodrome, and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape are all on my ‘must see’ list.”

Kung Fu Panda's Returning to the Movies in 2024 @ io9

Image: Dreamworks Animation

Of Dreamworks’ various franchises throughout the decades, Kung Fu Panda has become one of their biggest hits. After 2016's Kung Fu Panda 3, the series has primarily lived on through various CG spinoff shows and specials. (The most recent of which, The Dragon Knight, premiered last month on Netflix.) But not content with just releasing TV spinoffs of their film franchises, Dreamworks has gone and announced that the franchise is making its return to theaters in two years.

Kung Fu Panda 4 is indeed in production, and currently slated for a March 8, 2024. The CG martial arts franchise focuses on Jack Black’s Po, an excitable panda who becomes a martial arts master and reunites with his long-lost family. Across the first three films, the trilogy has earned $1.8 billion at the box office. Over the years, Dreamworks has been cagey in the past on if the franchise would continue with more films. In 2010, before the release of 2011's Kung Fu Panda 2, then-CEO of Dreamworks Animation Jeffrey Katzenberg said the franchise had been mapped for two trilogies: a “Student” trilogy, and a “Master” trilogy.

But in 2016, Panda 3 directors Jennifer Yuh Nelson and Alessandro Carloni both said the approach for the films was to take them one at a time. “We don’t want the films to feel open-ended,” said Carloni. “We want it to feel like a complete journey.” When asked again in 2018 by Metro, Nelson reiterated that she viewed the series as a single trilogy. but hoped that if future films did exist, Po would remain the focus. “The pull is Po,” she said. “Po is the world. So I am sure something will happen at some point, but it’s just that I don’t know what.”

While no other information on the film was given, such as a director or cast, that a new film is coming out relatively soon is reason enough to get excited.

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The Batman, Everything Everywhere Among Nominees for 2022 Saturn Awards @ io9

Image: A24

2021 and 2022 has seen a glut of releases for sci-fi and fantasy, from superheroes of detective and kung fu variety to multiversal mothers and lawyers on the verge of breaking bad. And with that comes awards season: the Saturn Awards, which focus on film and TV in the aforementioned genre, released their nominees for the year of 2022.

Film wise, Disney has a nominee or two in about every category, but it’s The Batman with the most nominations, including Best Superhero Film, Actor for Robert Pattinson, and Supporting Actor for Colin Farrell and Paul Dano. Beyond the two big juggernauts, indie darlings such as Everything Everywhere All at Once, Crimes of the Future, and RRR got nominated in categories such as Best Sci-Fi, Action, or International film.

In TV, AMC’s Better Call Saul earned seven nominations, most of them in the Supporting Actor category for Tony Dalton, Jonathan Banks, Michael Mando, and Patrick Fabian. Streaming hits like Loki, Severance, and Obi-Wan Kenobi received acting and genre nominations. And the animation category was as packed as everything else, with Invincible, Arcane, and Star Trek: Lower Decks among the nominees.

Check the full list down below. The 50th Saturn Awards will be held on October 25.

Superhero Film

The Batman (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (Marvel / Walt Disney Studios)
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (Marvel / Walt Disney Studios)
Spider-Man: No Way Home (Sony Pictures / Marvel)
The Suicide Squad (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Thor: Love and Thunder (Marvel / Walt Disney Studios)

Science Fiction Film

Crimes of the Future (Neon)
Dune (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Free Guy (20th Century Studios)
Godzilla vs. Kong (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Jurassic World Dominion (Universal Pictures)
Nope (Universal Pictures)

Fantasy Film

Cruella (Walt Disney Studios)
Everything Everywhere All at Once (A24)
Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Ghostbusters: Afterlife (Sony Pictures)
The Green Knight (A24)
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (Lionsgate)

Horror Film

A Quiet Place Part II (Paramount Pictures)
The Black Phone (Universal Pictures)
Last Night in Soho (Focus Features)
The Night House (Searchlight Pictures)
Scream (Paramount Pictures)
X (A24)

Action / Adventure Film

RRR – Rise Roar Revolt (Sarigama Cinemas / Variance Films / Potentate)
Death on the Nile (20th Century Studios)
F9: The Fast Saga (Universal Pictures)
No Time to Die (United Artists Releasing)
Top Gun: Maverick (Paramount Pictures)
West Side Story (20th Century Studios)

Thriller Film

Ambulance (Universal Pictures)
Nightmare Alley (Searchlight Pictures)
The Northman (Focus Features)
Old (Universal Pictures)
The Outfit (Focus Features)
Pig (Neon)

Actor in a Film

• Timothee Chalamet, Dune (Warner Bros. Pictures)
• Tom Cruise, Top Gun: Maverick (Paramount Pictures)
• Idris Elba, The Suicide Squad (Warner Bros. Pictures)
• Tom Holland, Spider-Man: No Way Home (Sony Pictures / Marvel)
• Daniel Kaluuya, Nope (Universal Pictures)
• Simu Liu, Shang-Chi and the Legend of The Ten Rings (Marvel / Walt Disney Studios)
• Robert Pattinson, The Batman (Warner Bros. Pictures)

Actress in a Film

• Cate Blanchett, Nightmare Alley (Searchlight Pictures)
• Emily Blunt, A Quiet Place Part II (Paramount Pictures)
• Zoe Kravitz, The Batman (Warner Bros. Pictures)
• Keke Palmer, Nope (Universal Pictures)
• Emma Stone, Cruella (Walt Disney Studios)
• Michelle Yeoh, Everything Everywhere All at Once (A24)
• Zendaya, Spider-Man: No Way Home (Sony Pictures / Marvel)

Supporting Actor in a Film

• Paul Dano, The Batman (Warner Bros. Pictures)
• Colin Farrell, The Batman (Warner Bros. Pictures)
• Ethan Hawke, The Black Phone (Universal Pictures)
• Richard Jenkins, Nightmare Alley (Searchlight Pictures)
• Alfred Molina, Spider-Man: No Way Home (Sony Pictures / Marvel)
• Ke Huy Quan, Everything Everywhere All at Once (A24)
• Benedict Wong, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (Marvel / Walt Disney Studios)

Supporting Actress in a Film

• Awkwafina, Shang-Chi and the Legend Of the Ten Rings (Marvel / Walt Disney Studios)
• Jodie Comer, Free Guy (20th Century Studios)
• Carrie Coon, Ghostbusters: Afterlife (Sony Pictures)
• Viola Davis, The Suicide Squad (Warner Bros. Pictures)
• Stephanie Hsu, Everything Everywhere All at Once (A24)
• Diana Rigg, Last Night in Soho (Focus Features)
• Marisa Tomei, Spider-Man: No Way Home (Sony Pictures Marvel)

Younger Actor in a Film

• Noah Jupe, A Quiet Place Part II (Paramount Pictures)
• Madeleine McGraw, The Black Phone (Universal Pictures)
• Millicent Simmonds, A Quiet Place Part II (Paramount Pictures)
• Mason Thames, The Black Phone (Universal Pictures)
• Jacob Tremblay, Luca (Pixar / Walt Disney Studios)
• Finn Wolfhard, Ghostbusters: Afterlife (Sony Pictures)

Film Direction

• Guillermo del Toro, Nightmare Alley (Searchlight Pictures)
• Joseph Kosinski, Top Gun: Maverick (Paramount Pictures)
• Jordan Peele, Nope (Universal Pictures)
• S. S. Rajamouli, RRR – Rise Roar Revolt (Sarigama Cinemas / Variance Films / Potentate)
• Matt Reeves, The Batman (Warner Bros. Pictures)
• Steve Spielberg, West Side Story (20th Century Studios)
• Jon Watts, Spider-Man: No Way Home (Sony Pictures / Marvel)

Film Writing (Screenplay)

• The Batman, Matt Reeves, Peter Craig (Warner Bros. Pictures)
The Black Phone, Scott Derrickson, C. Robert Cargill (Universal Pictures)
Everything Everywhere All at Once, Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert (A24)
Nightmare Alley, Guillermo del Toro, Kim Morgan (Searchlight Pictures)
Nope, Jordan Peele (Universal Pictures)
Scream, James Vanderbilt, Guy Busick (Paramount Pictures)
Spider-Man: No Way Home, Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers (Sony Pictures / Marvel)

Film Music (Composer)

Nope, Michael Abels (Universal Pictures)
Cruella, Nicholas Britell (Walt Disney Studios)
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Danny Elman (Walt Disney Studios)
The Batman, Michael Giacchino (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Nightmare Alley, Nathan Johnson (Searchlight Pictures)
Crimes of the Future, Howard Shore (Neon)
Shang-Chi and the Legend Of the Ten Rings, Joel P. West (Marvel / Walt Disney Studios)

Film Editing

Spider-Man: No Way Home, Jeffrey Ford, Leigh Folsom (Sony Pictures / Marvel)
Top Gun: Maverick, Eddie Hamilton (Paramount Pictures)
The Batman, William Hoy, Tyler Nelson (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Nightmare Alley, Cam McLauchin (Searchlight Pictures)
Everything Everywhere All at Once, Paul Rogers (A24)
Nope, Nicholas Monsour (Universal Pictures)
Ambulance, Pietro Scalia, Doug Brandt, Calvin Wimmer (Universal Pictures)

Film Production Designer

Shang-Chi and the Legend Of the Ten Rings, Sue Chan (Marvel / Walt Disney Studios)
The Batman, James Chinlund (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Cruella, Fiona Crombie (Walt Disney Studios)
Nightmare Alley, Tamara Deverell (Searchlight Pictures)
Everything Everywhere All at Once, Jason Kisvarday (A24)
Last Night in Soho, Marcus Rowland (Focus Features)
Dune, Patrice Vermette (Warner Bros. Pictures)

Film Costume

Shang-Chi and the Legend Of the Ten Rings, Kym Barrett (Marvel / Walt Disney Studios)
Cruella, Jenny Beavan (Walt Disney Studios)
The Batman, Jacqueline Durran, David Crossman, Glyn Dillon (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Dune, Robert Morgan, Jacqueline West (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Thor: Love and Thunder, Mayes C. Rubeo (Marvel / Walt Disney Studios)
Nightmare Alley, Luis Sequeira (Searchlight Pictures)
The Eternals, Sammy Sheldon (Marvel / Walt Disney Studios)

Film Make-Up

Crimes of the Future, Alexandra Anger, Monica Pavez, Evi Zafiropoulou (Neon)
Nightmare Alley, Jo-Ann MacNeil, Mike Hill, Megan Many (Searchlight Pictures)
The Batman, Mike Marino, Naomi Donne (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Dune, Donald Mowat, Love Larson, Eva Von Bahr (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Army of the Dead, Justin Raleigh, Ozzy Alvarez, Kevin Kirkpatrick, Victoria Down (Netflix)
Thor: Love and Thunder, Matteo Silvi, Adam Johansen (Marvel / Walt Disney Studios)
The Suicide Squad, Heba Thorisdottir, Greg Funk, Brian Sipe (Warner Bros. Pictures)

Film Visual / Special Effects

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Jorundur Rafn Arnarson, Erik Winquist, Joe Letteri (Marvel / Walt Disney Studios)
Ghostbusters: Afterlife, Sheena Duggal, Alessandro Ongaro (Sony Pictures)
Godzilla vs. Kong, Kevin Andrew Smith (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Jurassic World Dominion, David Vickery (Universal Pictures)
Shang-Chi and the Legend Of the Ten Rings, Christopher Townsend, Joe Farrell, Sean Noel Walker, Dan Oliver (Marvel / Walt Disney Studios)
Spider-Man: No Way Home, Kelly Port, Chris Waegner, Scott Edelstein, Dan Sudick (Sony Pictures / Marvel)
Top Gun: Maverick, Scott R. Fisher, Ryan Tudhope (Paramount Pictures)

Independent Film

Alice (Roadside Attractions/Vertical)
Dream Horse (Bleecker Street)
Dual (RLJE Films)
Gold (Screen Media Films)
Mass (Bleecker Street)
Watcher (IFC Midnight)

International Film

RRR – Rise Roar Revolt (Sarigama Cinemas / Variance Films / Potentate)
Downton Abbey: A New Era (Focus Features)
Eiffel (Blue Fox Entertainment)
I’m Your Man (Bleecker Street)
Riders of Justice (Magnolia / Magnet Releasing)
Silent Night (RLJE Films)

Animated Film

The Addams Family 2 (United Artists)
Encanto (Walt Disney Studios)
Lightyear (Pixar / Walt Disney Studios)
Luca (Pixar / Walt Disney Studios)
Marcel the Shell with Shoes On (A24)
Minions: The Rise of Gru (Universal Pictures)

Science Fiction Television Series: Network / Cable

The Flash (The CW)
The Man Who Fell to Earth (Showtime)
Supergirl (The CW)
Superman & Lois (The CW)
Resident Alien (SyFy / Universal)
Westworld (HBO)

Fantasy Television Series: Network / Cable

DC’s Stargirl (The CW)
Doctor Who (BBC America)
Ghosts (CBS)
La Brea (NBC)
Riverdale (The CW)
Shining Vale (Starz)

Horror Television Series: Network / Cable

American Horror Story: Double Feature (FX)
Chucky (SyFy / Universal)
Fear the Walking Dead (AMC)
From (EPIX)
The Walking Dead (AMC)
What We Do in the Shadows (FX)

Action / Thriller Series: Network / Cable

Better Call Saul (AMC)
Big Sky (ABC)
The Blacklist (NBC)
Dexter: New Blood (Showtime)
Dark Winds (AMC)
Outlander (Starz)
Yellowjackets (Showtime)

Actor in a Network / Cable Series

• Chiwetel Ejiofor, The Man Who Fell to Earth (Showtime)
• Tyler Hoechlin, Superman & Lois (The CW)
• Coleman Domingo, Fear the Walking Dead (AMC)
• Harold Perrineau, From (EPIX)
• Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul (AMC)
• Michael C. Hall, Dexter: New Blood (Showtime)
• Sam Heughan, Outlander (Starz)

Actress in a Network / Cable Series

• Caitriona Balfe, Outlander (Starz)
• Kylie Bunbury, Big Sky (ABC)
• Courteney Cox, Shining Vale (Starz)
• Melanie Lynskey, Yellowjackets (Showtime)
• Rose McIver, Ghosts (CBS)
• Rhea Seehorn, Better Call Saul (AMC)
Elizabeth Tulloch, Superman & Lois (The CW)

Supporting Actor in a Network / Cable Series

• Jonathan Banks, Better Call Saul (AMC)
• Tony Dalton, Better Call Saul (AMC)
• Patrick Fabian, Better Call Saul (AMC)
• Harvey Guillen, What We Do in the Shadows (FX)
• Michael James Shaw, The Walking Dead (AMC)
• Michael Mando, Better Call Saul (AMC)
• Brandon Scott, Jones Ghosts (CBS)

Supporting Actress in a Network / Cable Series

• Emmanuelle Chriqui, Superman & Lois (The CW)
• Lauren Cohan, The Walking Dead (AMC)
• Janina Gavankar, Big Sky (ABC)
• Julia Jones, Dexter: New Blood (Showtime)
• Melissa McBride, The Walking Dead (AMC)
• Danielle Panabaker, The Flash (The CW)
• Sophie Skelton, Outlander (Starz)

Performance by a Younger Actor: Network / Cable Series

• Jack Alcott, Dexter: New Blood (Showtime)
• Zackary Arthur, Chucky (SyFy / Universal)
• Brec Bassinger, Stargirl (The CW)
• Gus Birney, Shining Vale (Starz)
• Jordan Elsass, Superman & Lois (The CW)
• Alex Garfin, Superman & Lois (The CW)

Guest-Starring Performance: Network / Cable Series

• Michael Biehn, The Walking Dead (AMC)
• Rachael Harris, Ghosts (CBS)
• Jessie James Keitel, Big Sky (ABC)
• Jeffrey Dean Morgan, The Walking Dead (AMC)
• Fisher Stevens, The Blacklist (NBC)
• Jennifer Tilly, Chucky (SyFy / Universal)
• Aisha Tyler, Fear the Walking Dead (AMC)

Animated Series

Arcane (Netflix)
Blade Runner: Black Lotus (Crunchyroll / Adult Swim)
The Boys Presents: Diabolical (Amazon)
Invincible (Amazon)
Star Trek: Lower Decks (Paramount+)
Star Wars: The Bad Batch (Disney+ / Lucasfilm)
What If? (Disney+ / Marvel)

Science Fiction Series (Streaming)

The Expanse (Amazon)
For All Mankind (Apple TV+)
Lost in Space (Netflix)
The Mandalorian (Disney+ / Lucasfilm)
The Orville: New Horizons (Hulu)
Star Trek: Discovery (Paramount+)
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds (Paramount+)

Fantasy Series (Streaming)

Loki (Disney+ / Marvel)
Russian Doll (Netflix)
Schmigadoon (Apple TV+)
WandaVision (Disney+ / Marvel)
The Wheel of Time (Amazon)
The Witcher (Netflix)

Horror / Thriller Series (Streaming)

Creepshow (Shudder)
Evil (Paramount+)
Servant (Apple TV+)
Severance (Apple TV+)
Squid Game (Netflix)
Stranger Things (Netflix)

Action / Adventure Series (Streaming)

Bosch: Legacy (FreeVee)
The Boys (Amazon)
Cobra Kai (Netflix)
Leverage: Redemption (FreeVee)
Peacemaker (HBOMax / DC)
Reacher (Amazon)
Umbrella Academy (Netflix)

Limited Event Series (Streaming)

The Book of Boba Fett (Disney+ / Lucasfilm)
Hawkeye (Disney+ / Marvel)
Midnight Mass (Netflix)
Ms. Marvel (Disney+ / Marvel)
Moon Knight (Disney+ / Marvel)
Obi-Wan Kenobi (Disney+ / Lucasfilm)

Actor in a Streaming Series

• Tom Hiddleston, Loki (Disney+ / Marvel)
• Oscar Isaac, Moon Knight (Disney+ / Marvel)
• Anthony Mackie, Falcon & The Winter Soldier (Disney+ / Marvel)
• Ewan McGregor, Obi-Wan Kenobi (Disney+ / Lucasfilm)
• Anson Mount, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds (Paramount+)
• Adam Scott, Severance (Apple TV+)
• Antony Starr, The Boys (Amazon)

Actress in a Streaming Series

• Millie Bobby Brown, Stranger Things (Netflix)
• Britt Lower, Severance (Apple TV+)
• Erin Moriarty, The Boys (Amazon)
• Elizabeth Olsen, WandaVision (Disney+ / Marvel)
• Beth Riesgraf, Leverage: Redemption (FreeVee)
• Kate Siegel, Midnight Mass (Netflix)
• Ming-Na Wen, The Book of Boba Fett (Disney+ / Lucasfilm)

Supporting Actor in a Streaming Series

• Zach Cherry, Severance (Apple TV+)
• Ethan Hawke, Moon Knight (Disney+ / Marvel)
• Joel Kinnaman, For All Mankind (Apple TV+)
• Elliot Page, Umbrella Academy (Netflix)
• Ethan Peck, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds (Paramount+)
• Joseph Quinn, Stranger Things (Netflix)
• John Turturro, Severance (Apple TV+)

Supporting Actress in a Streaming Series

• Patricia Arquette, Severance (Apple TV+)
• Danielle Brooks, Peacemaker (HBOMax)
• Jess Bush, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds (Paramount+)
• Nell Tiger, Free Servant (Apple TV+)
• Kathryn Hahn, WandaVision (Disney+ / Marvel)
• Moses Ingram, Obi-Wan Kenobi (Disney+ / Lucasfilm)
• Aleyse Shannon, Leverage: Redemption (FreeVee)

Performance by a Younger Actor (Streaming)

• Vivien Lyra Blair, Obi-Wan Kenobi (Disney+ / Lucasfilm)
• Maxwell Jenkins, Lost in Space (Netflix)
• Gaten Matarazzo, Stranger Things (Netflix)
• Sadie Sink, Stranger Things (Netflix)
• Hailee Steinfeld, Hawkeye (Disney+ / Marvel)
• Iman Vellani, Ms. Marvel (Disney+ / Marvel)

Guest Performance in a Streaming Series

• Jensen Ackles, The Boys (Amazon)
• Levar Burton, Leverage: Redemption (FreeVee)
• Hayden Christensen, Obi-Wan Kenobi (Disney+ / Lucasfilm)
• Rosario Dawson, The Mandalorian (Disney+ / Lucasfilm)
• Robert Englund, Stranger Things (Netflix)
• Tony Dalton, Hawkeye (Disney+ / Marvel)
• Jonathan Majors, Loki (Disney+ / Marvel)

Classic Film Release

The Incredible Shrinking Man (Criterion)
Master of the World (Special Edition) (Kino Lorber)
The Secret of the Blue Room (Kino Lorber)
Theatre of Blood (Kino Lorber)
Village of the Giants (Kino Lorber)
The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (Warner Archive)

Television Series Release

The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, Season 1 & 2 (MPI Home Video)
Chucky, Season 1 (Universal)
Creepshow, Season 2 (RLJ Entertainment)
Kolchak: The Night Stalker, The Complete Series (Kino Lorber)
Night Gallery: Season One (Kino Lorber)
The Six Million Dollar Man: The Complete Series (Shout Factory)

Film Collection Release

The Alfred Hitchcock Classics Collection Volume 2 (Universal)
The Ghost Ship / Bedlam Double Feature (Warner Archive)
Francis The Talking Mule 7 Film Collection (Kino Lorber)
The Godfather Trilogy 4K (Paramount)
Shawscope, Volume One (Arrow)
Universal Classic Monsters – Icons of Horror Collection 4K (Universal)

4K Special Edition Film Release

Blood for Dracula (Severin)
Everything, Everywhere All at Once (Lionsgate)
A Fistful of Dollars (Kino Lorber)
Flesh for Frankenstein (Vinegar Syndrome)
For a Few Dollars More (Kino Lorber)
The Great Escape (Kino Lorber)
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (Kino Lorber)

Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel and Star Wars releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about House of the Dragon and Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

Sony's Ghost of Tsushima Film May Be Entirely in Japanese @ io9

Image: Sony Computer Entertainment

Sony’s determined to make as many of its first-party PlayStation games into films or TV shows as possible, with the most immediate of the bunch being Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us becoming a TV show for HBO. Also on the hypothetical adaptation docket is the samurai open-world game Ghost of Tsushima, who locked down John Wick’s Chad Stahelski to direct earlier in the year.

And while the film is a ways off, partially because Stahelski is a pretty busy man, he did reveal that his plan for the film involves the film being spoken in Japanese. Speaking to Collider’s Steve Weintraub, Stahelski talked about doing the film “all in character...It’s a Japanese thing about the Mongols invading Tsushima island. A complete Japanese cast, in Japanese.” As a self-professed lover of Japan, and one with a “samurai fetish,” he was pretty open in his excitement in bringing the game to life for a wider audience. “It’s your typical mythological story of good versus evil, finding a man, watching him change the world or the world changes him. It’s all the Joseph Campbell stuff that you’d love in a story.”

Stahelski’s desire to make a film entirely in subtitles may remind some of the 2020 Oscars, when Parasite director Bong Joon-Ho flat out said that if more people watched subtitled films, they’d be “introduced to so many more amazing films.” The director is aware that he’s got a hurdle ahead of him in pitching this idea to production companies, but is optimistic he can pull it off, especially if the action and scope are good enough that subtitles won’t actually matter.

“I’ll read subtitles all day,” he admitted. “And I think America in general, or at least the Western audiences in general are getting more and more used to that because of the influence of Netflix and streamers and stuff, where we get so much more of a world content...Look, if I nail all the other bits, I think I can inspire you enough to get in the car and go to the theater.”

Developer by Infamous creator Sucker Punch, Ghost of Tsushima tells the story of Jin Sakai, the survivor of an attack on the titular island during 1274's Mongol invasion of Japan. Torn between his long-held beliefs in the samurai code and adopting new, stealthier tactics, it fell to Jin to recruit allies and push back the Mongols. Tsushima became a critical and commercial darling when it released in 2020, and again in 2021 when it went to the PlayStation 5 with a new story expansion. For better or worse, the game is notably influenced by the samurai works of acclaimed director Akira Kurosawa, to the point where a black-and-white visual filter is named after the late filmmaker.

Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel and Star Wars releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about House of the Dragon and Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

Oscar Isaac's Down for More Star Wars, So He Must Need Another House @ io9

Image: Lucasfilm

Back in 2015 when Star Wars: The First Awakens released, the movie served as a huge boost to Oscar Isaac’s profile. Though he’d been in plenty of films before then, playing Poe Dameron put him on everyone’s radar, to the point where he’s become a Marvel superhero and him coming to Comic-Con is considered a Big Deal.

And now that the sequel trilogy of Star Wars films are behind him, Isaac’s more open to the idea of him and his ethnic hips returning to the sci-fi universe. Not long after the release of 2019's The Rise of Skywalker, Isaac said he’d only come back if he “needed another house.” But during a recent SiriusXM interview, the actor said he’d be good with coming back. “If there was a great story and a great director and [Lucasfilm president] Kathy [Kennedy] came to me and was like, ‘I have this great idea,’ then I’m so open to it,” said Isaac.

Even so, he freely admitted that he could take or leave spending more time as Poe, and added that the timing of such a show would play a factor in his decision. At 43 years old with a family, returning to a megafranchise for the second time can be a lot. “Time is the one thing that becomes challenging…as you get older and kids and all that. Where do [movies] fit in?”

The Sequel Trilogy is notorious for, among other things, not having much of any expanded media coming out following its end in 2019, unless you count Lego’s animated holiday specials. Disney’s made a conscious effort to focus on the past rather than look forward, and it sounds like it’s not even clear what previously announced films are actually still happening, let alone which ones could be set post-Rise.

If Isaac wants to come back and play Poe, hopefully he’s given an actual, consistent character to play. And if such a miniseries never happens, at least we’ve got all those shots in the films where he looks incredibly handsome. (So basically all three movies.)

[via Variety]

Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel and Star Wars releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about House of the Dragon and Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

Doctor Who's 60th Anniversary Could Be Even Bigger Than We Thought @ io9

Photo: Lauren Mustoe (Getty Images)

A trifecta of Doctors are assembling to celebrate 60 years of Doctor Who. With Ncuti Gatwa (Sex Education) next in line and set to start filming this November, The Hollywood Reporter has learned the transition to the next era of the show may play out a little differently.

Outgoing showrunner Chris Chibnall previously confirmed that Thirteenth Doctor Jodie Whittaker would be taking her bow this October in a special that’s set to be a part of the BBC Centenary celebrations. Meanwhile, next year for the 60th Anniversary of Doctor Who David Tennant will reprise his role as the fan-fave time lord, this time under the stewardship of returning showrunner Russell T. Davies. THR has reported that not only co-star Neil Patrick Harris said some comments that, “have led to speculation that Gatwa will appear in 2023’s celebrations, a move that could see Tennant’s incarnation of the Doctor regenerate into Gatwa’s,” but there could in fact actually be up to three specials in 2023 timed with Doctor Who’s 60th anniversary. So many secrets that apparently NPH is more than willing to let spill just a little, as THR notes “details about the special, as with most things Doctor Who, are being kept tightly under wraps by the BBC.”

Ncuti Gatwa’s debut season, the 14th for the series since its return, will begin filming this November with a premiere that might be in 2024. That’s a long time to wait so hopefully Gatwa plays a huge role in the celebration next year. At least we’ll see him in the next season of Sex Education and alongside Margot Robbie in Barbie.

Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel and Star Wars releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about House of the Dragon and Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

Spoilers of the Week: August 12th @ io9

The Latest News From Disney Parks, Universal Studios Resorts, and More Fan-tastical Destinations @ io9

DC Looniverse only at Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi
Screenshot: Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi

International theme parks like Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi and the soon to open Ghibli Park in Japan are enticing tourists to book visits with their fan destinations. Meanwhile, stateside summer winds down with a cinema classic returning to the big screen, activations from Stranger Things, Loungefly and then there’s D23 Expo—which has announced all its panels. Haunt fanatics fret not, Halloween is already creeping into Universal Studios resorts and Disney Parks.

Here’s your guide to everything happening at theme parks, immersive experiences, and beyond.

DC Super Hero Season

DC™ Super Hero Season!

Suddenly we want to go to the Warner Bros. World theme park in Abu Dhabi. Why don’t we have one? They have more than just coasters inspired by DC heroes. There’s even more of a Looney Tunes presence including the iconic cartoons as DC heroes. Six Flags really needs to step it up.

Ghibli Park Opening Date

Screenshot: Ghibli Park

Ghibli Park will officially open on November 1 2022, with its first phase of attractions based on the world of Studio Ghibli. The fantastical exhibitions recreate magical settings, locations, and moments from the beloved Miyazaki films—and like the creative studio’s tenets it was built in naturally open spaces to not disturb the forest grounds it’s being built on. You’ll encounter the Robot Soldier, Cat Bus, and explore areas that recreate places like the World Emporium, the antique shop from Whisper of the Heart and Satsuki and Mei’s House from My Neighbor Totoro. There will also be Ghibli’s Grand Warehouse, an indoor facility that will hold exhibits that will take guests behind the scenes of the studio’s famed films.

Tokyo Disney Resort

There’s always such cute food and merch at Tokyo Disney Resort. Alas, the travel ban is still in place unless you book through select tourism organizations.

Horror Nights at Universal Studios Japan

Sherlock Holmes, Demons and a cursed Samurai sword? ‘Nuff said. Universal Studios Japan is so creative.

Wonder Woman Flight of Courage

Stateside, at Six Flags Magic Mountain in Southern California, Wonder Woman gets her own coaster. It’s a single rail so you can count me all the way out, I’ll hold my friends’ bags and take pics from the ground below.

Summer of Loungefly Activation

The newest collections of bags, backpacks and fandom fashion will be on display at the Summer of Loungefly, a special activation pop-up in Los Angeles, CA. The brand experience will open a walk-through of visually immersive areas to present all things Loungefly and Stitch Shoppe. It will feature their latest and upcoming collaborations: Lisa Frank, Care Bears, Sanrio, Disney and more. The fun will also include photo ops, special treats and special character appearances. The event will be open to the public but only through ticketed RSVP’s for access keep an eye on Loungefly’s social on Twitter and Instagram.

Knotts Scary Farm

Bloodline 1842 - NEW MAZE Knott’s Scary Farm 2022

Original Haunt event Knotts Scary Farm debuted a new interactive laser gun vampire hunting experience as part of its maze offerings. This is the kind of ARG infusion we can get behind at the theme parks.

Stranger Things Number 001 Fan Takes a Trip Back

Vecna (Jamie Campbell Bower) visited Stranger Things: The Experience to revisit his Hawkins Lab days. Things seemed to go well for everyone there. Watch the reel below:

Stranger Things Experience on Instagram: "Can @bowerjamie escape a real-life Hawkins Lab? 😱⚡ Watch his adventures at the #StrangerThingsExperience in NYC! 🔥🔥 #StrangerThings #Netflix #Fever"

A Slice of Westeros History Made Real

The Natural History Museum in Southern California is featuring a mini-exhibit The Targaryan Dyanasty inspired by HBO Max’s House of the Dragon with a real fake Dragon skull and more, on view until September 7.

Universal Studios Orlando

Soon these cute treats will be phoning home when the tribute store switches to Horror Nights in Orlando. Eat them while you can.

Music to Monster Mash To

At Midsummer Scream, Universal Studios Hollywood’s Halloween Horror Nights creative director John Murdy sat down with Guns and Roses guitarist (and haunt composer) Slash to discuss their collaborations on the Universal Monsters houses throughout the years, and previewed the score for an upcoming house at HHN 2022.

Super Nintendo World

As we inch closer and closer to the opening of Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios Hollywood, so does the official store. It’s now in the lower lot of the amusement park, closer to where the land will be when it opens in early 2023.

The Grinch is Back!

The Grinch is also annoyed to have been called upon to announce his return this early in the year for Grinchmas at Universal Studios Orlando.

The Muppets Take Over D23 Expo

The Muppets are set to have their own panel at D23 Expo to celebrate 30 years of the Muppet Christmas Carol, the best adaptation of the Dickens classic. Check out this panel and the official line up for this year’s expo here.

Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party

The after-hours ticketed costume soiree has unveiled its specialty treats for the event. The candy corn corn on the cobb looks like an abomination, but we’re willing to try it.

Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel and Star Wars releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about House of the Dragon and Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

The Eternals' War Against the X-Men Just Really Messed Things Up @ io9

Image: Valerio Schiti and Marte Gracia/Marvel Comics

Judgement Day, Marvel’s big three-way throwdown between the Eternals, Avengers, and X-Men opened mostly with the Eternals trying do a genocide on Mutantkind, and the Avengers mostly just thrown into the crossfire. Good news: some of the Eternals have decided to try and stop the slaughter with the help of Tony Stark. Bad news: they really fucked up.

This week’s Judgement Day #2, by Kieron Gillen, Valerio Schiti, Marte Gracia, and Clayton Cowles, largely sees Krakoa pull back from the brink of the horrifying assault staged by current Eternal Prime Druig on the island nation. The X-Men and whatever fighting Mutants are left still standing are holding out against the massive “Hex,” titanic Eternal creatures Druig has sent to terminate Mutantkind in the wake of unlocking the power of resurrection. They’re aided by most of the Avengers (at least, until the fighting gets so bad they have to run off and help defend other parts of the world).

Image: Valerio Schiti, Marte Gracia, and Clayton Cowles/Marvel Comics

Away from all the fighting, Tony Stark—operating on a tip from Sersi, who alongside Ikaris and several other Eternals has broken away from Druig’s fanatical rule over their kind—teams up with several other breakaway Eternals, Ajak, Phastos, and Makkari (and, long story short, a captured Mr. Sinister). Their plan is to end the conflict by resurrecting the Celestial the Avengers have built their base out of in the past couple of months, and making it a kind of god who can head over to Druig and basically say “hey, don’t you genocide those nice Mutants.”

It’s a bold move, and ultimately one that turns the arc of Judgement Day on its head... because it goes terribly terribly wrong. Tony, Ajak, Phastos, and Makkari’s creation is a god, yes—made up of a patchwork of pieces of fallen Celestials from across the planet as well as the Avengers’ own base—and it successfully manages to halt the Hex’s assault, overriding Druig’s commands and saving Krakoa from further harm. But it only does so because it immediately wakes up and sees the Eternals and Mutantdom fighting each other tooth and nail, while humans either recoil in fear from the aftershocks or merrily root on the defeat of either faction. It is not pleased, so, as the series’ title goes, it judges: the planet has 24 hours in which this new Celestial amalgam will judge Eternal, human, and Mutant alike, and if they’re not found worthy, the entire world is going bye-bye.

Image: Valerio Schiti, Marte Gracia, and Clayton Cowles/Marvel Comics

It’s a fascinating spin on what could’ve otherwise just been an event about the Eternals and X-Men knocking each other’s lights out in a forever-resurrecting stalemate of brutality, because suddenly the centering of Judgement Day becomes not this superheroic scrap, but the ordinary, messy people of the Marvel universe. Judgement Day’s issues so far have been framed at their beginnings and ends by the reactions of six civilians to the one-two punch of both the public reveal of Mutantkind’s cure for death and the announcement of Druig’s plans to exterminate the Mutants in turn for this “deviancy.” Some support the X-Men, some support the Eternals, some are just children caught up in the anxieties of their parents about the events. Some are too busy trying to survive from one job to the next to care about the latest superpowered drama that happens every other day in the Marvel universe.

Now, they are arguably the main characters of Judgement Day, alongside the rest of the Marvel populace beyond our heroes. No matter how many Eternals, X-Men, or Avengers you throw at this problem—a problem created by the Eternals themselves, for better or worse—they alone cannot absolve the world of this new Judgement. For once, it seems like a major Marvel event is going to have to lean on the world itself to find a way to keep standing.

Image: Valerio Schiti, Marte Gracia, and Clayton Cowles/Marvel Comics

Just don’t ask Tony Stark to help, because that’s how you apparently get yourself a judgmental celestial being on your ass real fast.

Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel and Star Wars releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about House of the Dragon and Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

Inu-Oh Belts Out a Glam Rock Ballad Speaking Truth to Power @ io9

Image: GKids

From acclaimed director Masaaki Yuasa (Crybaby Devilman, Lu Over the Wall, Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken!), comes Inu-Oh, a historical anachronism that blends glam rock with Noh theater, creating a delightfully flamboyant and vibrant film that merges myth, history, and music. The film is eccentric and expansive, following the semi-folkloric artist Tomona from a child to his time as biwa priest, and finally to a rock star in his own right.

Along the way to fame, Tomona breaks from the order of biwa-playing priests and sets out to find his own style, helped in no small part by the mysterious singer/dancer/frontman, Inu-Oh. Although Inu-Oh was cursed with supernatural body differences, as he performs parts of himself return to a more human-like shape. He never thinks of himself as being less than anyone else, and doesn’t let his ten-foot arm or mouth or back covered in scales stop him from performing.

Eventually, Tomona and Inu-Oh make it into the big leagues, scoring a performance in front of the local magistrate. This is the big finale, the whole film has been preparing you to take in the magical, mystical, genre-defying moment for these two artists. And as these two rock gods jam out on stage, they come into their own, fully realizing the radical nature of their work, pushing the boundaries of storytelling so far that they become a threat.

Throughout the film there is a repeated theme of censorship and authority, as people attempt to control art and determine what stories–and what histories–are worthy of being told. From artist sects to audiences, to members of the social elite, everyone around Tomona and Inu-Oh wants to be able to dictate which art is right and which is wrong. As people attempt to control artistic interpretations, it only becomes more and more difficult to contain them.

Image: GKids

Like most of Yuasa’s work, the visuals in Inu-Oh are stunning, and exceptionally paired to the storyline that it’s trying to convey. It creates two distinct worlds; the brutal real-world that blinded Tomona as a child and the magical one that Inu-Oh brings to life with his stories. As the pair hype each other up, creating more and more havoc, and more and more and music together, the world around them never changes—but they still make music. The outcome of their art is internal, driven by the changes that the artists themselves feel. There’s a part of this commentary that makes it seem as if art is futile, but it ultimately comes out like a reminder that art must be made for yourself first—Tomona and Inu-Oh belong to their stories, as much as their stories belong to them in turn.

The plot of Inu-Oh is really a story of what happens in between performances. It’s an elusive thing, a melody in the background of the music. What’s most captivating about the movie however, is the art and storytelling that occurs during the recitals. There’s a reverence for the importance of an artist’s vision, and we understand that what’s important to the film’s audience and what’s important to Tomona and Inu-Oh’s audience are perhaps two different things. Inu-Oh prioritizes itself, its own story, over and over, and that’s what really sets this film apart. It’s got the kind of referential, tongue in cheek nods to the people at home, but really it’s performing for the audience in front of their animated stage.

Inu-Oh is also concerned about another kind of performance: Tomona crosses the boundaries of tradition in both his musical stylings and his sartorial choices. In Tomona, Yuasa has channeled icons like Iggy Pop, David Bowie, and Freddie Mercury, and he pushes back against traditional roles in more ways than one. Besides being a transgressive artist, he also wears women’s clothing, puts on makeup, wears his hair down, becoming less and less concerned with any kind of perimeters that surround gender, making it clear that he is simply doing what feels right for him.

This movie is about speaking the truth and basking in the consequences all along the way. Tomona and Inu-Oh confront censorship like a badge of honor, and revel in the right to speak to a shared history that most people would like to see papered over. But it’s also about selling out, about trading your story for comfort, and the radical who would rather die than be tamed. It’s a heady mix of the surreal and the grounded struggles of making art itself--and the sometimes electric sensation that can come along the way in spite of all the struggles faced creating it.

Inu-Oh will open in select theaters August 12.

Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel and Star Wars releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about House of the Dragon and Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

Why a Bathroom Scene Is So Important to Marvel's She-Hulk @ io9

Nikki (Ginger Gonzalez) and Jen (Tatiana Maslany) chill out in She-Hulk: Attorney at Law.Image: Marvel Studios

At one point in the upcoming pilot to Marvel Studios’ She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, Jennifer Walters (Tatiana Maslany) sneaks into the bathroom of a scummy bar. She’s been in an accident. She’s bloody, bruised, and four women she doesn’t know walk in. What happens next may not seem like a crucial moment in the history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe but, for head writer and executive producer Jessica Gao, it was a crucial moment for her show.

“That scene was so important to me, and there were so many times it was on the chopping block because a lot of people didn’t understand it,” Gao said during a recent press conference. “And I was like, ‘This is the single most important scene to me in this entire episode.’”

Why was it so important? Because the women who Jennifer doesn’t know immediately jump to her aid. All they want to do is help this woman who they can see has been wronged in some way. “Truly, the women’s bathroom in any club, bar, strip club, I don’t care, any public women’s bathroom is the most safe, protective, and supportive environment,” Gao continued. “It’s the truth! And women are so often depicted as being catty and bitchy and that can be true outside in the bar, but once you’re in the inner sanctum of the bathroom, these women want to help each other. If you went into a bathroom and said ‘This man was bad to me,’ you would have an entire army of women ready to go and kill him.”

The scene speaks to a larger aim of the new Marvel show. It’s hoping to show us a superhero as a real person, something the movies don’t often let you do because of time constraints. “I think the beauty of television is, unlike the movies, we actually have time and space to really, like, sit with a character and learn more about them and really get to know them as a fully fleshed-out person,” Gao said. “And what’s great about Jen Walters/She-Hulk is that [Maslany] was able to immediately, from day one, make this feel like a real human being. You feel like she’s lived a life. She has life experiences. She has relationships. She has a family and she has friends. And also, she changes. She might feel different in the morning than she does in the evening. She might feel different today than she does yesterday. This is a real person who actually feels things and processes things. And, like most people, has highs and lows.”

“It really is a little bit of a peek behind-the-curtain at the everyday, sometimes even mundane life of a superhero, which we do get to experience in this long-form series,” added director and executive producer Kat Coiro. We’ll have much more on She-Hulk leading up to, and after, its Disney+ premiere on August 18.

Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel and Star Wars releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about House of the Dragon and Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

Revisit a Classic Japanese Superhero in This Look Inside Kamen Rider Kuuga's Manga @ io9

Image: Titan Comics

Kamen Rider’s long history in the world of Japanese superheroes has a bit of a gap. After exploding in the ‘80s, Kamen Rider largely vanished from screens outside of a few movies for nearly a decade, while its sibling superhero franchise Super Sentai resurged in popularity. That all changed with the dawn of the 21st century—and the arrival of a legendary new Kamen Rider.

Kamen Rider Kuuga marked the franchise’s return to regular TV screens in Japan in January 2000. The 10th Kamen Rider series overall but the very first of the Heisei period, Kuuga was a standalone series that revitalized and re-imagined what the character could be in the 21st century. Clearly, it worked; 22 years later, Kamen Rider is bigger than ever, and slowly but surely on the cusp of making inroads into official access to its fandoms outside of Japan. Case in point, the 2014 Kuuga manga adaptation is getting an official English release from Titan Comics at last.

Image: Titan Comics

For our last little sneak preview of all things Kamen Rider comics this week, io9 is excited to give you a look inside the English-language release of the first two volumes of Kamen Rider Kuuga. Written by Toshiki Inoue and drawn by Hitotsu Yokoshima, the manga adapts the 49-episode TV series with some changes, not just onboarding newcomers to the Kamen Rider franchise—much like the original show did in 2000—but also incorporates characters and worldbuilding elements from the events of Kuuga’s successor series, Kamen Rider Agito, which served as an indirect sequel.

The first two volumes of Kamen Rider Kuuga are set to hit shelves this November. Click through to see exclusive pages from the first volume, as well as a sneak peek at volume two!

Kuuga Vol. 1

Image: Titan Comics

Kuuga Vol. 1

Image: Titan Comics

Kuuga Vol. 1

Image: Titan Comics

Kuuga Vol. 1

Image: Titan Comics

Kuuga Vol. 1

Image: Titan Comics

Kuuga Vol. 2 Cover

Image: Titan Comics

Kuuga Vol. 2

Image: Titan Comics

Kuuga Vol. 2

Image: Titan Comics

Kuuga Vol. 2

Image: Titan Comics

Kuuga Vol. 2

Image: Titan Comics

Kuuga Vol. 2

Image: Titan Comics

This Week's Toys Are Straight From a Multiverse of Marketing Madness @ io9

Mark Ruffalo Defends Marvel's Output With a Side-Eye at Star Wars @ io9

Image: Marvel Studios

While on a press tour for She-Hulk, Mark Ruffalo spoke with Metro about Marvel’s use of VFX and the enormity of the output from the studio. While he had only glowing praise for the leaps and bounds that CGI has taken over the past decade or so that he’s been involved with Marvel, he had some stronger feelings about the amount of “content” that Marvel puts out.

Ruffalo said that he’s not worried about the amount of work that Marvel releases. “I understand that these things run their course and then something else comes along. But the thing Marvel has done well is that, inside the MCU, just as they do with comic books, they let a director or an actor sort of recreate each piece to their own style, their likeness.”

A bold claim, considering that even as Marvel attempts to make in-roads into other genres with its work, there’s an overriding same-y tone and need for connection that sometimes frustratingly overrides that. And considering the new allegations about how Marvel films their movies, I don’t think that this is a very strong argument at all. Visual flair is well and good, but if you’re just offering variations on a theme is it really distinct?

Next, Ruffalo continues to dig his grave deeper by poking at the other big franchise that might be able to compete with Marvel’s output–fellow Disney megafranchise Star Wars. “If you watch a Star Wars, you’re pretty much going to get the same version of Star Wars each time… You’re always, really, in that same kind of world. But with Marvel you can have a whole different feeling even within the Marvel Universe.”

The thing is that part of me agrees with him: Star Wars does reuse the same stories and tropes, and seems to have an affinity for desert planets that I cannot truly comprehend, but to compare Marvel and Star Wars and act as if either one is superior to the other on an artistic basis of originality feels like a little bit of throwing stones in glass houses at this point. You’re playing the Hulk, sir, a character that has been adapted in largely similar ways out of the comics ever since Lou Ferrigno’s television Hulk first began airing in 1977, the same year the first Star Wars film released in theaters.

I’m not here to debate the artistic merits of Marvel vs. Star Wars, but to pretend for even a second like directors get more or less control within competing billion-dollar franchises is a fool’s errand. An aside here, but as soon as we start referring to any kind of art (even blockbuster movies) as “content” I feel as if we lose something, culturally speaking. Content feels clinical, it feels transactional in a way that makes me uncomfortable. I don’t want content, I want considerate, thoughtful work. I want people to know that this is handmade stuff, that this is done by real people doing real work. There is no such thing as Marvel content, but there is art, and if we treated these massive cultural moments with respect maybe we’d be able to change the culture.

So look, regardless of your feelings about the amount of work that any individual studio puts out, the fact that any actor is being asked to defend it might be a hint that there is, perhaps, too much out there—regardless of what fictional universe it’s from.

Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel and Star Wars releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about House of the Dragon and Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

8 Things We Liked (and 6 We Didn't) About Locke & Key Season 3 @ io9

Kinsey (Emilia Jones) and Bode (Jackson Robert Scott) exchange a key.Photo: Amanda Matlovich/Netflix

Locke & Key’s third and final season arrived on Netflix this week, and while there was a lot to like about it, it had some flaws, too—enough to make it the series’ weakest outing. However, that doesn’t mean you should skip watching the final chapter of this entertaining, imaginative show based on the Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodríguez comic series.

Here’s what we liked most about season three, as well as what we could have done without. Obviously, if you haven’t binged it yet, you’ll need one of these...

Liked: The new villains

Photo: Amanda Matlovich/Netflix

After being summoned by the Echo Key at the end of season two, the first thing demon-possessed Revolutionary War captain Gideon (Kevin Durand) did in season three was bring back a couple of minions: Coffey (Jeff Lillico) and Bolton (Ian Lake). The evil this trio represents feels deeper and darker than anything glimpsed in previous seasons, but there’s also a goofiness to them as they stumble around 21st century America. My favorite was probably the moment when Coffey and Bolton, stealing clothes so they can attempt to blend in, find themselves confronting zippers for the first time: “What are these? They look like evil little teeth”—but Gideon’s maniacal delight in cars was a close second.

Didn’t like: Gideon’s goal

Photo: Amanda Matlovich/Netflix

Durand’s campy (yet deadly) performance as Gideon was never tiring, but the character’s ultimate goal—collecting all the magical keys and opening a portal to the demon world large enough to consume the human world—just didn’t feel as dangerous as it should have. In seasons one and two, the villainous Dodge, in all her disguises, created malevolent chaos by tracking down individual keys and delighting in using them against the Lockes and their friends. Gideon didn’t care about using the keys in any way except smushing them together to create his hellmouth—a bit boring, to be honest.

Liked: Bode as Dodge

Image: Netflix

While we had some issues with Bode as Bode (see next slide for more), Bode being possessed by Dodge—who snuck into season three thanks to some highly irresponsible key use (again, see next slide for more)—was a riot. Jackson Robert Scott was clearly having a blast playing a new version of his character, almost as much fun as we had watching him transform from earnest tween into rude, snarky, world-weary asshole.

Didn’t like: Watching characters repeat their mistakes

Bode, no!Photo: Amanda Matlovich/Netflix

Locke & Key season three goes out of its way to remind us that the keys (which are made out of hunks of metal from the demon world) want to be used, and are constantly using their psychic influence to get some lock-turning action. While there’s no Locke more vulnerable than young Bode, his habit of recklessly using keys is still incredibly frustrating. It also causes a lot of worry and havoc for everyone else. By the point in the season where Bode uses the Timeshift Key (after being specifically told not to)—blundering into the past and interrupting one of season two’s pivotal fights by announcing “I’m from the future! I know how this ends!”—you’re ready to agree with Dodge (Laysla De Oliveira) when she calls out the pitch of his voice for being “so damn obnoxious.”

Liked: The Savinis 2.0

Photo: Amanda Matlovich/Netflix

Scot (Petrice Jones) was overseas at film school for most of season three. But Kinsey’s (Emilia Jones) other filmmaking pals—aka “the Savinis”—carried on, working on the sequel to their low-budget creature feature The Splattering alongside paid gigs around town, including making a tourism video for Matheson and acting as videographers for Duncan Locke’s (Aaron Ashford) wedding. We didn’t get to spend as much time with Doug (Jesse Camacho), Abby (Leishe Meyboom), and Zadie (Asha Bromfield) as we did in earlier seasons, and they didn’t take an active part in the fight against evil this time around. But they stepped up when Kinsey needed help disposing of Eden’s (Hallea Jones) dead demon body—it’s nice having friends who’ll understand your magical dilemmas, no questions asked—and they even all survived to attend The Splattering 2's big premiere at the end.

Didn’t like: Carly

Photo: Amanda Matlovich/Netflix

At the end of season two, Tyler (Connor Jessup) decided to forget magic and spend some time away from Keyhouse. At the start of season three, we see he ended up in Montana building houses alongside Carly (Oriana Leman), an oddly written character who’s presented as both “cool, sexy tomboy” and “aggressive almost-stalker,” leaning into the latter after she drives all the way to Massachusetts when Tyler doesn’t return her messages. Carly helps Tyler realize he needs to resolve some issues within himself so he can move on from all the tragedy he’s faced—including the very recent death of his beloved girlfriend. And while she’s a positive influence, she’s also awfully pushy about it. Why can’t Tyler just take the time he needs without his next relationship waiting in the wings? We’re clearly supposed to find her likable, but... eh.

Didn’t like: The waste of Gordie

Image: Courtesy of Netflix

Season three fleshes out Gordie Shaw (Michael Therriault), a minor character who went to high school with the late Rendell Locke (Bill Heck), but wasn’t part of his cool-kid friend group and therefore doesn’t know about magic. Gordie suddenly becomes a huge part of season three when it’s discovered there’s a key hidden inside him—and the gang has to venture into his head to find it. There, they face great peril while Gordie’s worst memories, including his traumatic experience coming out to his mother, play on a loop behind them. (Gordie’s queerness is never addressed beyond that, at least not that I noticed—other than the fact that he’s really into theater.) Both Carly and Gordie exist mostly as season-three plot devices that shape the actions of Locke & Key’s main characters, but Gordie—who gets horribly murdered by Gideon!—feels especially shoehorned in, then discarded when he’s no longer needed.

Liked: The almost-redemption of Sam

Image: Courtesy of Netflix

Back in season one, while under the influence of Dodge, high-school misfit Sam (Thomas Mitchell Barnet) murdered Rendell Locke, setting Locke & Key’s plot in motion. Later, he traveled to Keyhouse and accidentally got trapped by the Ghost Key—spending season two and most of season three as a remorseful, occasionally helpful spirit. In season three, however, he was able to return to the real world by slipping into the body of one of Gideon’s henchmen—allowing him to apologize, profusely and sincerely, for all the pain he caused the Locke family. While they’re understandably reluctant to forgive, he ends up sacrificing his new corporeal form to save them in the end, and it’s implied he gets a peaceful death for his troubles.

Didn’t like: Tyler’s memory flip-flop

Photo: Amanda Matlovich/Netflix

Remember all the hand-wringing surrounding Tyler’s decision not to use the Memory Key at the end of season two, meaning he’d forget magic when he turned 18? Once he returned to Keyhouse in season three, his inability to understand what was really going on caused him (and the audience) so much frustration it was a huge relief when he decided he’d use the Memory Key after all. Like there was ever any doubt that he would?

Liked: Ellie’s return

Image: Courtesy of Netflix

Accidentally thrown behind the Black Door at the end of season one, Ellie (Sherri Saum) escaped at the end of season two and really started to put her life back together in season three. Not only does she have to contend with demons determined to subjugate humanity using cruel violence, she has to deal with bitchy co-workers gossiping about where she’d been during her unexplained absence—while also trying to decide if she and her son, Rufus (Coby Bird), should stay in Matheson after everything they’ve been through. Ellie’s quiet but determined way of facing her trauma was inspiring (as was her bravery in jumping right back in to help the Lockes), and the warm welcome she received when she decided to return to her gig coaching a local track team was one of season three’s most unexpectedly touching moments.

Didn’t like: The pacing

Photo: Amanda Matlovich/Netflix

Clocking in at just eight episodes rather than the 10 of previous seasons, Locke & Key’s season-three story was more compact (several episodes were just over 30 minutes, rather than the usual 45-plus minutes) than ever before. Considering seasons one and two kept the action going right until the end (with cliffhangers!), and season three had to make time to wrap things up (which we did like, as a later slide will explain), it was really more like seven and a half episodes. As a result, the pacing felt uneven and even rushed at times, and could be the reason for storylines like Carly’s and Gordie’s feeling half-baked at best.

Liked: Nina’s journey

Photo: Amanda Matlovich/Netflix

We’ve always known that Nina (Darby Stanchfield) is a recovering alcoholic—in season one, she briefly relapsed in the wake of Rendell’s death; in season two, she sought out an AA meeting after recognizing she was headed that way again. But season three forced Nina to confront her disease as never before. After using the Memory Key so she could understand and remember magic, she used the Head Key to look up memories of Rendell—and realized just how many happy occasions were marred by her drinking. It’s a tough truth to accept, and Locke & Key slowed its breakneck season-three pace (briefly, but still) to give Nina’s self-confrontation the space it needed.

Liked: Kinsey singing

Photo: Amanda Matlovich/Netflix

You know they were excited to bust this one out. Between seasons two and three of Locke & Key, Emilia Jones starred in Oscar-winning Best Picture Coda, a film that just so happens to show off her stunning voice. Kinsey never sang before, but she does it twice this season, and it’s just as lovely as you’d expect.

Liked: The sense of closure

Image: Amanda Matlovich/Netflix

After Kinsey and Bode used the Memory Key, ensuring they’d remember magic—and after Kinsey, Bode, Tyler, and Nina used the Timeshift Key to travel to the past for one last reunion with Rendell—the family tossed all the keys into the portal, realizing that’s what they needed to do to seal it forever. That action tied perfectly into Locke & Key’s prominent themes of honoring the past while also being mindful of not letting the past hold you back. And, to paraphrase Rendell, it also emphasized the show’s ultimate message about how the people you love are what provide life’s most important magic. (Plus: The Splattering 2 premiere was a smash success!) It hustled to get there, but Locke & Key managed to find closure on a note that felt happy, hopeful, and also appropriately melancholy.

Locke & Key seasons 1-3 are all streaming on Netflix.

Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel and Star Wars releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about House of the Dragon and Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

A Major Star Wars Legend Is coming to The Acolyte @ io9

Image: Lucasfilm

As we prepare to start a new season of streaming on Disney+, Amazon, and HBO, we’re getting a slow drip of teasers from all the services. We’ve got some new posters for She-Hulk and the confirmation of Mandalorian season 4. Leslie Grace’s Batgirl movie is done, but Grace’s Batgirl may live on. There are also a few new set photos for House of the Dragon. Watch out for that spoiler!

Lisa Frankenstein

Deadline reports Carla Gugino, Liza Soberano, Joe Chrest, and Henry Eikenberry have joined the cast of Diablo Cody and Zelda William’s horror-comedy Lisa Frankenstein. Starring Kathryn Newton and Cole Sprouse, the story follows “an unpopular high schooler who accidentally re-animates a handsome Victorian corpse during a lightning storm and starts to rebuild him into the man of her dreams using the broken tanning bed in her garage.”


According to Variety, Warner Bros. is looking to “mend fences” with Leslie Grace and “are entertaining the possibility of having her continue to play Batgirl in a future DC film (or, at least, star in another Warner Bros. production).”

John Wick: Chapter 4

In a recent interview with Collider, director Chad Stahelski revealed John Wick: Chapter 4 is on track to have the longest running time in the series.

We’re on the final stretch for picture lock, and then we have our VFX music. But this is the furthest along I’ve ever been, this much in post. We love the music that we’ve got so far. We still have Tyler Bates doing the composition on some of the bigger sequences. VFX are going to be coming in throughout the rest of the year. But we’re dangerously close. In our edit, as far as our picture lock goes, we’re within a few minutes of locking. Our sequences are done. The movie is essentially done. There’s probably another few weeks of tweaking overall, then we lock picture, and we’re about music sound and the effects.

Black Adam

Vanity Fair has a few new images of Dwayne Johnson in Black Adam.


Lauren Ambrose has been cast as the adult Van in the second season of Yellowjackets.


Deadline also reports Zoe Terakes has joined the cast of Ironheart in a currently undisclosed role.

Star Wars: The Acolyte

According to a new rumor from Bespin Bulletin, the mythical Darth Plagueis will make his live-action debut in The Acolyte.

The Mandalorian

Spoiler TV also alleges The Mandalorian has been officially renewed for a fourth season at Disney+.

Untitled Vince Gilligan Series

Deadline reports Vince Gilligan is developing a new series that will “harken back to [his] tenure on The X-Files,” exploring “similar themes of bending reality while holding a mirror to humanity.” Described as “a blended, grounded genre drama” the mysterious new show “is said to be set in our world while putting a tweak on it, focusing on people and exploring the human condition in an unexpected, surprising way.”

She-Hulk: Attorney at Law

A UFO interrupts Jennifer’s pet theory about Captain America in a new clip from She-Hulk: Attorney at Law.

She-Hulk’s official Twitter page has also released three new character posters of Jen, Nikki, and Titania.


Spoiler TV has photos and synopses for the first and second episodes of Stargirl’s third season. Click through to see the rest.

The Murder

STARMAN IS BACK — With Starman (Joel McHale) back from the dead and her former super-villain enemies vowing to reform, Courtney (Brec Bassinger) is hopeful that there will finally be peace in Blue Valley. But when The Gambler (guest star Eric Goins) arrives to town looking to make his own amends, the team find themselves at odds over whether he can be trusted. Luke Wilson, Amy Smart, Yvette Monreal, Anjelika Washington, Cameron Gellman, Trae Romano, Meg DeLacy, Neil Hopkins, Joy Osmanski and Alkoya Brunson also star. Andi Armaganian directed the episode written by Geoff Johns (#301).

Original airdate 8/31/2022

Frenemies - Chapter Two: The Suspects

A MURDER MYSTERY IN BLUE VALLEY — After stumbling upon a suspicious murder in Blue Valley, the JSA begin looking at potential suspects. A tense run-in with The Shade (guest star Jonathan Cake) makes Courtney (Brec Bassinger) and Pat (Luke Wilson) realize that Sylvester’s (Joel McHale) old ways could land them in hot water. Finally, Barbara (Amy Smart) steps in to help Paula (Joy Osmanski), whose attempt at fitting in has not gone so well. Yvette Monreal, Cameron Gellman, Anjelika Washington, Trae Romano, Meg DeLacy, Hunter Sansone, Neil Hopkins and Alkoya Brunson also star. Andi Armaganian directed the episode written by Robbie Hyne (#302).

Original airdate 9/7/2022.

Photo: The CW
Photo: The CW
Photo: The CW
Photo: The CW

Roswell, New Mexico

Max and Isobel mount a rescue mission in the synopsis for “Two Sparrows in a Hurricane,” the August 29 episode of Roswell, New Mexico.

FIND A WAY– Liz (Jeanine Mason) is faced with an impossible decision, meanwhile Max (Nathan Dean) agrees to join Isobel (Lily Cowles) on a mission to save Bonnie (guest star Zoe Cipres). The series also stars Michael Vlamis, Tyler Blackburn, Heather Hemmens, Michael Trevino and Amber Midthunder. The episode was directed by John Hyams and written by Jenny Phillips & Onalee Hunter Hughes (#412). Original airdate 8/29/2022.

[Spoiler TV]

House of the Dragon

Finally, Spoiler TV also has photos from the premiere episode of House of the Dragon. More at the link.

Photo: HBO
Photo: HBO
Photo: HBO
Photo: HBO
Photo: HBO

Banner art by Jim Cook

Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel and Star Wars releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about House of the Dragon and Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

Loungefly's Creative Minds on Making Fandom Fashion for Everyone @ io9

Photo: io9

Loungefly’s Liz DeSilva, VP of Creative, and Derrick Baca, VP of Business Development and Merchandising, are the minds behind the iconic mini-backpack line you see people wearing virtually everywhere, from conventions to theme parks to grocery stores. The versatility and imagery used on their products—including licensed franchises like Star Wars, Marvel, Amblin, and Stranger Things— has marked a new era of fandom fashion that goes beyond a black t-shirt with the logo slapped on it.

io9 recently caught up with the duo at San Diego Comic-Con to talk about Loungefly’s expansion as part of the Funko family (which now also includes Mondo) ahead of its holiday releases.

Sabina Graves, io9: Loungefly has been making moves with its signature brand of pop culture backpacks and recently with the addition of Stitch Shoppe. Can you tell us more about what’s next for the company in making fandom fashionable and more inclusive?

Derrick Baca: The biggest thing that we’re going to do in the future is really transition from just an accessory company to a lifestyle brand. As we are introducing Loungefly apparel, we have Stitch Shoppe apparel and Stitch Shoppe bags. We are going to be getting into many categories going forward. I would say in general [with] the female type of handbags, we’re going to go more unisex. So we are really going to take that “Funko fandom” of a fan of everything because we’ve been kind of niche.

Liz DeSilva: We want our fans to get to know the sizing and fit. So it’s really easy for them to just grab their hoodie, grab their tee, grab their dress—easy shopping.

Baca: When we first joined the [Funko] company a couple of years back, inclusivity is a very, very important part overall of the Loungefly brand. We started Stitch Shoppe, which now has sizes from a small to 4x, and Loungefly apparel [which] is more of that unisex fit to size 3X .

DeSilva:  It was the most heartbreaking thing for me to be at Disneyland and have fans come up and be like, “I love your mini backpacks, but they don’t fit me.” And I’m like, “That is unacceptable,” right? So the first thing we did is we sat with production design, we looked at all of our crossbody bags and mini backpack lengths. They have to fit everyone; we’re not making mini backpacks for a small group. We want our mini backpacks on everybody. So we’ve made that adjustment. And I think that’s one of the most important things that we’ve done is make all of our products inclusive. We have to make sure our backpacks fit all of our customers. So it’s just so important, we don’t want anyone to ever feel left out.

io9: Can you talk a bit more about partnerships since becoming part of Funko and now with Mondo on the way—will impact the synergy moving forward?

Liz DeSilva: So obviously, Mondo has been a part of the family for like five whole minutes and we’re so excited because obviously they’re uber creative. We were Mondo fans long before this acquisition. We’re going to get to connect with them and see like where it makes sense to, like, merge our teams and do some cool stuff. So while we don’t have anything to share right now, I think in the future you’ll see like obviously something like our Pop Loungefly bags, where we utilize Funko artwork and bring the Funko and Loungefly style together.

Baca: We do partner with Funko and we will do exclusive Pops that go with the bags. Those are super rare because a lot of times there’s only 3,000 to 4,000 units, where pops are usually a lot more units. So those are always like the first ones to go.

io9: That’s great, since the lifestyle stuff is expanding from accessories and going into clothing. Are we also thinking about home decor?

Baca: We’ve dabbled here in there with some blankets. We’ve dabbled in drinkware with, like, mugs.

DeSilva: You will start seeing this fall some new accessory categories that you don’t typically see at Loungefly. We are branching out and doing some loungefly.com exclusive pieces that are beyond a bag or backpack—which we’re excited about.

io9: How did your first fandoms influence your career paths?

Baca: My last name is Baca, I’m a large human. I’ve been called Chewbacca since I was a little kid. So Star Wars—and that got me big into comic books. I was a typical kid who was raised by the television. So all the Saturday morning cartoons, He-Man, Thundercats, G.I. Joe, all that stuff. I’ve been a part of the entertainment industry for about 25 years. So I was into the fashion of rave music, the bright neon colors—all that. I grew up in Utah so I would drive to Melrose to go to Red Balls and get all my rave gear. I walked into the retail store and the owner of the company actually just goes, “I love your look. You have to work here.” And so then I became a buyer for that company. And then I went and moved to Hot Topic. I kind of fell into it, but fandom was always what I was passionate about. You don’t want see our house [Baca and DeSilva are partners], our house is scary—it is literally a museum. We enable each other too much because we collect everything. It is a part of what we do as a lifestyle and so it’s easier for us to translate into products. 

DeSilva: So for me, I grew up a huge Disney Princess fan; Snow White and Cinderella were my go-to girls—[but I also had an] obsession with Disney, not just princesses. And I’ve always loved illustrated books. When I graduated art school, I actually wanted to be a children’s book illustrator. I wanted to have my own fairy tales, my own characters. So I started working as a graphic artist for girls clothing companies, creating characters for their t-shirts and their dresses. I fell in love with the apparel industry.

I went back to night school to learn more about sewing and textiles and fashion illustration. And I think it’s that initial love of fairytales and the “happily ever after” moment that really drove me towards wanting to do that. I will say in terms of me as a creative and kind of becoming who I am: Lisa Frank [and the] amazing, colorful world she created—this beautiful, whimsical world that she created really, really inspired a lot of my early art. And so I was able to take my love of character illustration and translate it into apparel for all the people that love those stories.

Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel and Star Wars releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about House of the Dragon and Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

Go Behind the Scenes of One of Anime's Most Talented Moviemakers in This Stunning New Artbook @ io9

Image: Studio Chizu

From The Girl Who Leapt Through Time to Belle, from Summer Wars to Wolf Children, Studio Chizu co-founder Mamoru Hosoda has crafted some stunning animated movies in his long career. Now, a new artbook takes a look at the process behind bringing those movies to life.

io9 has got a look inside Abrams’ new artbook The Man Who Leapt Through Film: The Art of Mamoru Hosoda. Penned by animation historian Charles Solomon, the book focuses on Hosoda’s career through a series of interviews providing insight on the creative process for each of his films, alongside never-before seen concept art, storyboards, background illustrations, and character designs.

Image: Studio Chizu

Click through to see an exclusive first look at some of the book’s early art from the making of two Hosoda classics—2012's Wolf Children and 2009's Summer Wars—as well as more art from the book, including an early concept for the digital protagonist of Hosoda’s latest film, the internet-fantasy Belle.

The Man Who Leapt Through Film: The Art of Mamoru Hosoda is set to release next week on August 16, and is available to pre-order now.

Three lively drawings from Wolf Children (2012) show Yuki effortlessly transitioning from human child to wolf pup while her brother, Ame, looks on.

Image: Studio Chizu

Part Two...

Image: Studio Chizu

... and Part Three!

Image: Studio Chizu

Layout drawing from Summer Wars (2009). The layout drawing of the interior of the Jinnouchi home shows armor and weapons used by their samurai ancestors in the late 16th century.

Image: Studio Chizu

The finished background painting...

Image: Studio Chizu

Finally, this still-frame from Summer Wars shows that when Sakae grows angry at her adopted son Wabisuke, she menaces him with a naginata, a halberd-like weapon taken from the display of armor.

Image: Studio Chizu

Background painting from The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006), of the hillside where key action in the film occurs.

Image: Studio Chizu

Preliminary study of Belle in costume by Jin Kim for Belle (2021).

Image: Studio Chizu

Early studies of the Dragon by Kageichi Akiya for Belle show the artist exploring his costume, proportions, and posture. The rich but tattered cloak, hunched shoulders, and hanging head suggest the Dragon’s melancholy loneliness.

Image: Studio Chizu

A preliminary study for Dragon’s castle for Belle. The fantastic architectural details and needle-base are possible in the cyber world.

Image: Studio Chizu

Animation drawing of Makoto (The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, 2006) as she lands amid the trash cans at her school after a time leap.

Image: Studio Chizu

Two animation drawings from Summer Wars, showing the rogue AI program Love Machine battling King Kazma, martial arts champion of OZ.

Image: Studio Chizu

She-Hulk's Fourth-Wall Breaking Went Through Many Iterations @ io9

She Hulk will be talking to you starting next week.Image: Marvel Studios

When modern comic book movie fans think of breaking the fourth wall, they probably think of Deadpool. And for good reason. He’s very popular. But well before the Merc with the Mouth pointed that mouth at the fans, another Marvel Comics character was doing it and she’s finally joining the MCU. Her name is She-Hulk and though some of the character’s modern comics have gotten away from that, head writer Jessica Gao was dead-set on including this trademark ability.

“For me, foundationally, I felt like first and foremost the fourth-wall breaking and the kind of meta-humor and the self-awareness [was the most important element to retain],” the writer and executive producer said during a recent press conference. “Because it was the John Byrne run that made me fall in love with this character, you know? It was just so lighthearted and fun and refreshing. So that was always kind of a foundational element.”

Gao, who previously worked on Robot Chicken, Silicon Valley, and Rick and Morty (she wrote the Emmy-winning “Pickle Rick” episode), knew that she wanted the fourth wall breaks to drive the show’s comedy. But exactly how that would work was up for debate.

“It went through a lot of evolutionary steps,” Gao said. “How much should she talk to camera? Is she talking directly to the audience? Is there another meta element? Is she talking to somebody else that’s more behind the scenes? At one point there was an iteration in the scripts where instead of talking directly to camera, there were text boxes that were editor’s notes—like the comic books, how there were editor’s notes in comics—and she was actually interacting with the editor’s notes that would be on screen. I mean, we did eventually scrap that idea, but we went through a lot of different versions of how she would do it.”

Tatiana Maslany as Jennifer Walters.Image: Marvel Studios

Kat Coiro, another executive producer and the director of six of the show’s nine episodes, explained further. “Ultimately it was about finding the balance,” she said. “Breaking the fourth wall does connect to the audience and draws us in, but not so much so that we’re not connecting to her story in the world that we’ve built.”

She-Hulk herself, Tatiana Maslany, went a step further to say she felt the character’s ability to acknowledge is almost an extension of her superpowers. “There’s something about She-Hulk’s awareness, where she’s able to go from being Jen to She-Hulk with a seamlessness... and she’s aware of the audience, that feels like it’s her superpower engaged within the meta element of the comics,” Maslany said. “It’s like an extension of her superpower. She’s like, ‘I know I’m talking to camera. I know you guys are watching this.’ And there’s something about that super-hyper-awareness that is who she is.”

Audiences will find out exactly who She-Hulk is very, very soon. The first episode premieres on August 18, with new episodes dropping on Disney+ every Thursday for the next two months.

Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel and Star Wars releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about House of the Dragon and Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

This Nope Trailer Is Great, But You Really Shouldn't Watch It @ io9

Screenshot: Universal Pictures

If you haven’t watched Nope yet, do not watch this trailer. Jordan Peele’s newest horror film is still out in theaters, and if you’ve got the chance to see this stunner on the big screen, take it. This trailer is fantastic—but it also spoils the movie’s big reveal.

If you’re wondering why Nope would release an exciting, pulse-pounding new trailer after its release that offers a real teaser of some of the most charged and horrific events of the film—it’s clearly aimed at people who’ve already seen the film and are considering going back for more.

NOPE | See It Again

Look, there it is. The big reveal laid out for you. I don’t think that knowing that “it’s not a ship” will ruin this film for you—in fact I would say that it might improve people’s experience. If you know from the onset that this isn’t a vehicle, but a predator, then you go in with a different sense of awe and horror.

If you know that this ship is in fact the alien itself, then you know that any attempt to reason with it is a lost cause. This creature is a shark, a wolf, a lion, a bear. And you are less than the threat you think you are. Watching Nope knowing this will force you to contend with the hubris of our main characters from the beginning, and make their task feel even more impossible... which will make the ending all that more sad/satisfying, depending on who you’re rooting for.

Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel and Star Wars releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about House of the Dragon and Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

Tales of the Walking Dead Season 2 May Include a Musical Episode @ io9

Photo: Curtis Bonds Baker/AMC

Just like the zombies of the venerable Walking Dead franchise have begun to evolve, so, it seems, has the franchise itself. Before the last eight episodes of the flagship TV show premiere in October, AMC will debut the six-episode anthology series Tales of the Walking Dead this Sunday, which not only looks at new characters, places, and times in the TWD universe but also explores different tones. The surprisingly star-studded show will even include some zombie comedy, but it sounds like Tales’ second season could be even weirder.

Showrunner Channing Powell told Entertainment Weekly that a musical episode of the show has been written, there just wasn’t enough time to make it part of season one: “We did come up with a musical episode, that just for production reasons was going to be a little bit too difficult to film. ... Should we get a season two or three, I’m going to push for that one if I can. It lives in my heart and in my mind.”

Having watched over a decade of The Walking Dead Original Recipe, it’s extremely hard for me to imagine a funny—well, an intentionally funny—episode of a TWD show, let alone a musical. Would it be an episode about people producing a musical when the dead first start shambling around? Would the zombies dance? Would they sing? The franchise has been hinting at the arrival of “variant” zombies, who are faster and smarter than the others. Will they have the power to form a chorus line?

Of course, there’s no guarantee that this musical episode will make it into Tales season two, but I definitely am appreciating the idea was on the table at any point, frankly. Let’s send Maggie and Negan to NYC, Daryl to France, and Rick and Michonne from theaters into their own miniseries. And then let’s put tap shoes on all the zombies. Why not?! And if you want to get an idea of how wild Tales is going to allow itself to be, the show premieres on August 14.

Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel and Star Wars releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about House of the Dragon and Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

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