Don’t panic! But a gigantic comet is currently inbound toward the Sun @ Syfy Wire

While scanning older data from a telescopic survey of the sky, astronomers discovered a very interesting object: Called 2014 UN271, it’s a giant chunk of ice and rock that normally spends its time far, far out past Neptune, but is now heading into the solar system, and will get about as close to the Sun as Saturn over the next ten years!

To be clear, a lot of new comets we find dip pretty close to the Sun after spending millennia out there in the black, but this one is different for quite a few reasons.

One is how ridiculously elongated its orbit is: It goes from about 1.6 billion kilometers from the Sun (just outside Saturn’s orbit*) to a mind-numbing 2 trillion kilometers out. That’s a fifth of a light year! From that distance the Sun’s gravity is so weak a whisper could push this thing into interstellar space.

Another is its size. A big comet might be 50 kilometers wide (the size of the famous Hale-Bopp comet which visited the inner solar system in the 1990s). This one may be — and I’m still reeling from this — a staggering 200 kilometers wide.

Holy wow!

The orbit and current position (in 2021) of the newly discovered megacomet 2014 UN271. The orbit is tipped over 90° to the plane of the planets, and it gets about as close to the Sun as Saturn. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

2014 UN271 was found in data from the Dark Energy Survey, an enormous project to map about 1/8th of the entire sky over several years. The main mission of the survey is to map out hundreds of millions of galaxies and thousands of supernovae to understand better the shape, size, and expansion of the Universe.

However, it can also see some things significantly closer to home, like solar system bodies. These move very slowly from one night to the next, and software can be written to look at images taken at different times to search for moving objects. The first known image of 2014 UN271 was in 2014, so it was back-named to that date.

The discovery was announced on June 19, 2021, and even since then the orbit has been updated a few times. I’m using the latest numbers from the JPL Minor Planet Database here. But generally speaking, the orbit is very long and the object very big.

Pedro Bernardinelli, one of the astronomers on the team, posted this image of it, a combination of several images taken over years:

[His comment in the tweet is that no outgassing is seen from it yet; more on this below.]

2014 UN271 is what we call a Trans-Neptunian Object, or TNO. This is a class of objects that orbit the Sun out past Neptune, and come in a variety of shapes, sizes, orbits, and so on. Some are quite big. Pluto is technically the largest we know of, at about 2,400 km wide (the distance from Denver to Washington, D.C.). Many found are in the 100 - 1,000 km range, but these objects are so far away we’ve only found a handful of the trillions of them that are out there.

A wider view of the orbit of 2014 UN271, showing it compared to the orbit of Neptune. Its orbit stretches roughly two trillion kilometers out from the Sun, but gets as close as about 1.6 billion. The position marked is where it will be in the year 2200. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

2014 UN271 spends most of its 600,000-year or so orbit hundreds of billions of kilometers from the Sun, and the only reason it was found at all is because it’s only about 3 billion km away from us right now, roughly the distance of Neptune from the Sun. That’s how its size was found as well. For a given brightness we see at Earth, a shiny object is smaller and a dark one bigger. If we assume it reflects 4% of the sunlight hitting it (reasonable, since that’s a decent average for TNOs) it’s 200 kilometers wide. But it might be darker and bigger, or more reflective and smaller. We’ll know better in the next few years.

We don’t know what this object is made of exactly, but given what we know about TNOs, it’s likely a mix of water ice and rock, plus other frozen things like carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen, and the like. It’s too small to be round; its gravity's too weak to crush itself into a sphere (the smallest known object like that in the solar system is Saturn’s moon Mimas, at 400 km wide), so it’s very likely irregular in shape.

Every round object in the solar system under 10,000 km in diameter, shown to scale. Credit: Emily Lakdawalla; data from NASA / JPL, JHUAPL/SwRI, SSI, and UCLA / MPS / DLR / IDA, processed by Gordan Ugarkovic, Ted Stryk, Bjorn Jonsson, Roman Tkachenko, and Emily Lakdawalla.

So it’s more like a really Brobdingnagian comet than a teeny planet. Which makes me wonder: Will it act like a comet? I mean, will we see activity from it as it nears the Sun, with ices turning into gases so that it develops a fuzzy head and long tail? It might, since we’ve seen activity from other objects that get as close as this one will.

Given its size, if it does start to get busy, it might get much brighter. Without activity it should get to about magnitude 18 at closest approach, which is still 1/100,000th as bright as the faintest star you can see by eye. It’ll take big telescopes to see it. But if it gets active, well, we’ll see.

 

And I wonder: It makes its closest approach in early 2031. That’s soon, but perhaps enough time to get a probe together to send to it. The European Space Agency is building a mission called Comet Interceptor that is specifically designed to look for comets coming from deep space that are on their first inbound trip to the inner solar system (like Comet Borisov from 2019). This one has dipped down many times over the past few billion years, but I wonder if ESA will make an exception for it? We’ve never had a chance to see anything like this up close before. Some moons of the outer planets look like captured TNOs, but they’ve certainly been altered over the eons by their host planet and proximity to the Sun. Seeing a new TNO this size up close and for an extended visit would be extraordinary.

I expect we’ll get lots of images of it soon (at the moment, unfortunately, Hubble is off-line, so hopefully the bigger ground-based ‘scopes can get a look). They’ll just be dots, even when it gets closer over the next decade, but there’s a lot we can learn from a dot. Stay tuned!


[Tip o’ the Whipple Shield to astronomer T. Marshall Eubanks who tweeted about this, which is where I saw it first.]

 

*… and hence the title of this post; it never gets closer than about 1.5 billion kilometers from Earth, so we’re in absolutely no danger from this object (and why I wrote "Sun" in the title and not "Earth"). I know a lot of people fret over such things, so I can assure we’re OK. Mind you, I expect to see lots of breathless headlines from the usual garbage websites about a “giant object headed toward Earth from the icy depths of the solar system!” Ignore those clickbait cesspools, and stick with astronomers who know what they’re talking about.

Not-so-wee Hodor actor Kristian Nairn playing Wee John in Taika Waititi pirate comedy, Our Flag Means Death @ Syfy Wire

Kristian Nairn is best known for playing Hodor, Brandon Stark's gigantic means of transport on HBO’s Game of Thrones. One cannot Hodor forever, sadly (we all saw that heartbreaking GoT episode). The good news for Nairn, however, is that he’s been cast in the upcoming HBO Max pirate comedy, Our Flag Means Death

Our Flag Means Death is roughly based on the life and adventures of Stede Bonnet (Rhys Darby), a well-to-do aristocrat who left his fancy pants life to become a pirate. The show is executive produced by Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok, What We Do In The Shadows) who will also play the infamous pirate Blackbeard and direct the first episode. David Jenkins (People of Earth) is the series' creator and showrunner, and is also executive producing.

Nairn, who is also a world-renowned DJ, will be joining the cast as Wee John Feeney. We don’t know much more than that about his role, but given this is a show about pirates and “Wee John” has a pirate ring to it, it’s likely that Nairn’s character will be deep in the swashbuckling action. We're also guessing that "wee" will be used ironically, considering Nairn says he's actually 6'10" in real life.

HBO Max didn’t just announce Nairn’s casting today. In addition to Nairn, Waititi and Darby, the cast now includes Nathan Foad (Bloods) as “Lucius,” Samson Kayo (Truth Seekers) as “Oluwande,” Rory Kinnear (Penny Dreadful) as “Captain Nigel Badminton” and “Chauncey Badminton” — perhaps they’re twins? — Con O’Neill (Chernobyl) as “Izzy,” and Vico Ortiz (American Horror Story: 1984) as “Bonifacia.”

What sort of pirate exploits will this crew get up to? Given the comedic powerhouse behind the series, there is sure to be some funny plundering going on. There's no news yet on when the show will go into production, much less make it to HBO Max, however, so we’ll have to wait a while to walk that plank.


What We Do in the Shadows Spin-Off Wellington Paranormal Is Already Our Favorite Comedy of the Summer @ io9

Minogue, Sergeant Maaka, and O’Leary in the Wellington Paranormal office.Image: Stan Alley/The CW

If The X-Files tossed aside all the government-conspiracy stuff and just concentrated on wacky monsters—and injected everything with the driest, most deadpan humor imaginable, and a bit more bumbling—that’s kind of exactly what Wellington Paranormal looks like. The New Zealand series, a spin-off of What We Do in the Shadows, arrives on the CW next month, and our already sky-high excitement only grows with every new trailer. For instance, this one:

Let’s see, we got an Exorcist spider walk, crop circles, aliens, UFOs (and hubcaps), ghosts, werewolves, and all manner of other creatures of the night. In case you were wondering—yes, those are the same actors playing the same cop characters seen in the 2012 Jemaine Clement-Taika Waititi vampire mockumentary classic What We Do in the Shadows. Here’s the official description:

Wellington Paranormal follows the adventures of Officers O’Leary (Karen O’Leary, What We Do In The Shadows) and Minogue (Mike Minogue, What We Do In The Shadows), hard-working members of the Wellington constabulary’s paranormal unit who, under the supervision of Sergeant Maaka (Maaka Pohatu, “Savage”), investigate supernatural occurrences that arise in the capital of New Zealand on a surprisingly regular basis.

Clement (Flight of the Conchords) and Waititi (Thor: Love and Thunder, Jojo Rabbit) are among the executive producers of the series—which is as close as you can come to guaranteeing that comedy gold awaits. (Anyone who has seen FX’s genius What We Do in the Shadows series already knows this; speaking of, that show just wrapped filming its third season, so here’s hoping it arrives sometime in 2021 too.) In New Zealand, Wellington Paranormal has already aired four seasons, so here’s hoping it catches on in the U.S. and the CW keeps ‘em coming.

Wellington Paranormal premieres (finally!) July 11 on the CW.


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Joanne Linville, Romulan Commander who romanced Spock on Star Trek, dies at 93 @ Syfy Wire

Joanne Linville, an actor whose career included a pair of memorable appearances in early sci-fi TV classics, has passed away at the age of 93, via Deadline. In addition to playing the central character in a haunting episode of The Twilight Zone, Linville also carved out a place in Star Trek history by appearing in the original TV series’ third season as a Romulan commander who falls romantically for Spock.

Avid Trekkies remember Linville onscreen as the commander of a Romulan ship in “The Enterprise Incident,” a 1968 Star Trek episode that showed off an amorous (albeit deceptive) side for the typically stoic Spock (Leonard Nimoy). Unaware that her vessel is the target of an elaborate Federation plot to steal a Romulan cloaking device, Linville’s Romulan commander warms to Spock after taking members of the Enterprise crew aboard for violating Romulan space.

While technically a captive, Spock ends up in the commander’s quarters, where he embarks on a short romantic con with Linville’s character in order to create a distraction while her guard is down. Appearing to soften his emotionless Vulcan demeanor as the commander steers their one-on-one conversation into ever-more-personal territory, Spock lets her believe he’s romantically interested — all while waiting for the right moment to relay the cloaking device’s location aboard the Romulan ship back to the Enterprise.

Linville’s earlier role in “The Passerby,” a 1961 episode of The Twilight Zone, was even more key to the story, embodying a ghostly tale of coming to terms with the past. Linville played widowed Civil War southern belle Lavinia Godwin, who takes in a wounded Confederate soldier (James Gregory) only to discover he shares some uncanny traits with her own deceased husband. In a supernatural twist worthy of The Others, Linville’s character eventually goes on to encounter not only her husband, but even a deceased Abraham Lincoln — all to realize that she and everyone around her has already passed into the afterlife.

In addition to a supporting part in a 1958 episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, much of Linville’s small-screen career involved frequent guest appearances on popular network series — including Columbo, Charlie’s Angels, Hawaii Five-O, CHiPs, Dynasty, and L.A. Law — through the early 1980s. Less frequently, she appeared in feature films throughout her career, beginning with The Goddess in 1958 and ending with James Dean in 2001.

A protégé of actor Stella Adler, Linville and fellow actor Irene Gilbert co-founded the prestigious Stella Adler Academy and Theatre in Los Angeles in 1985. A Golden State native, Linville was born Beverly Joanne Linville in Bakersfield, California in 1928.

The Boys Showrunner Says Season 3 Will Explore How 'Politics Are Turning Us on Each Other' @ io9

Homelander standing before a cheering crowd.Screenshot: Amazon Studios

In The Boys’ first and second seasons, the Amazon Studios show drew from both Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson’s original comic series and also the realities of our present world, telling a story about a mega corporation and other power players hellbent on fundamentally reshaping the world to better suit their financial and political endeavors. Though the show’s creative team could have chosen to veer away from politics in its upcoming third season, showrunner Eric Kripke says that won’t be the case as it introduces Jensen Ackles’ Soldier Boy.

Unlike the comics’ Soldier Boy, who’s something of a simpleton, Kripke has described the show’s take on the character as being more grim and ruthless than Homelander, suggesting he’ll be one of the third season’s primary antagonists. In a recent interview with Deadline, Kripke spoke about how they’ll use Soldier Boy as a way to explore the throughlines of certain elements of American history, alluding to his Captain America-like displacement in time after World War II. While Soldier Boy himself will bring a very specific sort of 20th-century energy to the series, Kripke elaborated that the character is also part of how the third season is a reflection of modern-day politics.

“I’d say in previous seasons the boogeyman for you to be scared of used to be, ‘The terrorists are coming to get you,’” Kripke said. “And now it’s sort of metastasized into, I think, a much more ominous, ‘Your neighbor is coming to get you.’ And that’s scary to me, how politics are turning us on each other. So, we want to explore what it means to be in America, really.”

The Boys’ second season used Stormfront, an alt-right neo-Nazi hero backed by Vought, to make rather explicit commentary on the ascendance of neo-Nazism in the U.S. political system, and it’s easy to see how the show could do something thematically similar with a character like Soldier Boy. Kripke also opened up a bit about his thinking that led to weaving so much commentary about our reality into the sort of show that some would rather be devoid of politics. Though Kripke was very intentional in the way he conceptualized of The Boys, he explained that a lot of the show’s ideas were shaped by the “dumb luck” of coinciding with the events of the past few years specifically.

“I’ve been waiting my whole life to stumble into something that hits the zeitgeist bullseye, and I don’t take for granted that I finally found one,” Kripke said. “Part of it is just really relishing this world Garth Ennis created that is about celebrity and authoritarianism, and social media and misinformation, and how corporations present a shiny, happy mask to the world, when what is behind that mask is the most ruthless drive for capital. I got handed this beautifully tailored suit and felt I just had to strut in that as much as I can.”

There’s likely to be much more to The Boys’ third chapter, as the show’s plot has been as twist-filled as its messaging is direct. There’s still no word on when it will hit Amazon Prime, though, and so there’s plenty of time to ponder just what shape the third season will take.


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Miss Schitt's Creek? SYFY’s 'SurrealEstate' has something in common with your favorite Canadian comedy @ Syfy Wire

On July 16, a pair of former Schitt’s Creek residents will leave the Paradise Cafe and Rose Apothecary behind when SYFY’s new original series, SurrealEstate, premieres. Series leads Tim Rozon and Sarah Levy — who fans of Dan Levy’s Emmy Award-winning show might know better as Mutt Schitt and Twyla Sands — star in SurrealEstate as Luke Roman and Susan Ireland, real estate agents extraordinaire who specialize in the ghostly side of the business.

Selling a house is difficult enough, but add in spooks, specters, and a demon or two and you’ve got a hellish, headache-inducing time for buyers and sellers alike. Fear not, though, because the Roman Agency’s team of real estate specialists are here to drive away the things that go bump in the night. 

As Luke details in the trailer above, “Some agencies help their clients by putting vanilla extract on hot light bulbs for that fresh-baked cookie smell. We help them by stopping the walls from bleeding.”

Banishing ghosts from real estate listings is a far cry from Rozon and Levy's time as Mutt and Twyla. Whereas Mutt lived in a barn outside town and preferred to keep to himself, Luke Roman's got a penchant for connecting with ghosts and the living alike; and while Twyla worked as a sunny-smiled, smalltown waitress without big-city dreams, Susan Ireland's never met a listing she can't sell or a ladder she can't climb. And while Levy won't be joined by her brother Dan or their father Eugene Levy in this series, there's still plenty of (found-) family love to be found — in between the poltergeists, that is.

Schitt’s Creek won’t be the only series getting the reunion treatment in SurrealEstate, either. Melanie Scrofano, who starred alongside Rozon in Wynonna Earp as the eponymous hero, directs two episodes and also appears as a guest star in one.

The 10-episode series from creator and showrunner George R. Olson also stars Adam Korson (Teachers), Maurice Dean Wint (Diggstown), Savannah Basley (Wynonna Earp), and Tennille Read (Workin' Moms). Olson also executive-produces SurrealEstate alongside Lance Samuels (The Indian Detective), Daniel Iron (Ginny & Georgia), Armand Leo (The Detail), and Danishka Esterhazy (The Banana Splits Movie). Esterhazy, Paul Fox (Schitt's Creek), and Paolo Barzman (Wynonna Earp) make up the rest of the directing team.

SurrealEstate premieres on July 16 at 10 p.m. EST only on SYFY.

Evil Chomps Into Season 2 With Sinister Glee @ io9

Kristen Bouchard (Katja Herbers) and David Acosta (Mike Colter) are back to battle more demons, personal and otherwise, on Paramount+ series Evil.Photo: Elizabeth Fisher/CBS

The season one finale of Evil—formerly of CBS, now on the newly-dubbed Paramount+ streaming service—aired all the way back in January 2020 (here’s a recap if you’ve since forgotten its finer points). Season two is finally here and “N Is for Night Terrors” picks right back up with our trio of supernatural investigators (and their various friends, foes, and frenemies), and answers one big question that’s been dangling for a year and a half. Well, answers half of it at least.

So, yes. Kristen Bouchard (Westworld’s Katja Herbers)—skeptical former Catholic, forensic psychologist, de facto single mom of four young daughters—can now also add “killer” to that list, something heavily implied that is now confirmed. We don’t actually get a flashback to the event, but we see her removing the blood-splattered murder weapon (an ice ax, since Kristen is also a former mountain climber) from her car trunk and furtively scrubbing it clean. A little later in the episode, we also get a full-on confession, when she tells her shrink (Kurt Fuller) what happened. Premeditated murder is definitely a no-no, especially when one’s line of work involves taking a stand against biblically sinister forces, but nobody’s going to cry for the victim: Orson LeRoux (Darren Pettie), a serial killer who slithered out of his sentence in the season one finale and promptly started stalking Kristen and her family. However, the status of Kristen’s soul seems to be in great danger; we saw as much when she burned her hand on a crucifix in the season one finale.

Photo: Elizabeth Fisher/CBS

Priest-in-training David Acosta (Luke Cage’s Mike Colter), meanwhile, is still healing from his recent stab wounds, but his greater pain is the fact that God’s been giving him the silent treatment lately. He does, however, have an absolutely bonkers dream that continues his season one finale vision of Kristen being led astray by a devilish figure—this time, though, Evil’s own nerdy boogyman, Leland Townsend (Michael Emerson), suddenly pops up and starts dancing to what sounds like “Funkytown.” Elsewhere, the team’s tech wizard, Ben Shakir (Aasif Mandvi), is seen watching news reports of LeRoux’s gory demise—while clearly recalling the fact that he’s just seen Kristen washing blood off her leg in a manner that could not have been more suspicious. When he confronts her, she brushes him off—and even asks him to test the metal on her crucifix, explaining that it gave her a “skin rash.” Eager to help, he lets her know it’s cobalt, which can cause a rash or even a burn if it’s slightly heated. Her therapist offers yet another suggestion: the rash or burn could be psychosomatic, maybe some old “Catholic guilt” coming through. Lots of science available, Kristen! Maybe you’re not on Satan’s naughty list after all?

While everyone’s mulling over their various “oh shit” moments, the trio—who’s employed by the Catholic Church to check out alleged possessions, miracles, and other religiously angled supernatural occurrences—is still pursuing the case they were working a the end of last season: a fertility clinic that may be hiding a hellish secret. “A demonic presence is trying to corrupt a generation by manipulating their eggs,” David explains to their boss, Bishop Marx (Peter Scolari), who’s naturally rather incredulous, even after Kristen explains that one of her daughters (Lexis, played by Maddy Crocco) was conceived with assistance from the clinic, giving her strong motivation to prioritize the investigation. However, team Evil soon hustles along to a brand-new case, deemed highly important by the Bishop, involving a man who claims he’s sold his soul to the devil but now wants to get out of the deal.

Leland (Michael Emerson) and Kristen (Katja Herbers) have words.Photo: Elizabeth Fisher/CBS

Only, it’s not just any random man. It’s Leland! Claiming that he wants an exorcism! Because his wedding (to Sheryl, played by Christine Lahti, who also happens to be Kristen’s estranged mother) is right around the corner! Kristen and David are outraged and don’t want anything to do with this “con job,” but Ben suggests they can use the assignment to their advantage. Even if Leland lies to their faces, which everyone assumes he will, the team will still learn more about him—and any information about the mysterious Leland can only be helpful in the long run. They do get some biographical details (he started dabbling in the dark arts because he was sick of being bullied at school; the soul-selling deed went down “while my parents were watching M*A*S*H* in the next room”), but their fact-checking efforts, including a thorough search of his apartment, suggest his stories are all bullshit. Kristen—whose pre-God Squad job involved testing defendants who were trying to claim insanity—is tasked with interviewing Leland as a way to prove he’s psychotic, rather than possessed. Of course, psychopathy is her diagnosis (with a side of narcissism), but Bishop Marx decides Leland will get his exorcism anyway.

Photo: Elizabeth Fisher/CBS

So that’s something to look forward to! But Leland’s exorcism sure feels like a stunt designed to pull focus away from the fertility clinic investigation. It’s also enabling him to get closer to the trio. Though he invades Ben’s dreams with a demon that evokes season one’s creepy George, who haunted Kristen periodically, and continues to rub his engagement to Sheryl in Kristen’s face, Leland tells her David is the true prize. “Help me tempt him away from the priesthood,” he says, “And I’ll leave your daughters alone.” You may recall the last time someone threatened Kristen’s daughters, he ended up dead with an ice ax-induced head wound.

Though David, Kristen, and Ben all say they don’t believe Leland is possessed—they really do not want him to get his way and have that exorcism performed—everyone’s starting to have some serious doubts based on their own experiences and observations, even if they have yet to admit it to each other. The most shocking moment in “N Is for Night Terrors” teases Leland’s supernatural influence big-time, and it involves Kristen’s daughter Lexis. After some uncomfortable dental issues—curiously pointy incisors are coming in over the top of her baby teeth, creating what the little girl calls a “vampire smile”—she goes in for routine surgery that takes a turn when, under anesthesia, her jaws snap down and horribly mangle the dentist’s finger. It’s gruesome and unnatural, which is exactly the vibe Leland lives to cultivate.

It seems likely Evil will shift back to more of a monster-of-the-week format now that the season two premiere is out of the way, but no matter what, we’ve apparently got a wedding (Leland’s) and an exorcism (also Leland’s) to look forward to in the coming weeks. The fertility clinic saga is going to rear back up again, for sure. And we also need to get to the bottom of why Kristen can’t pick up a crucifix without searing her flesh, because that is a troubling development indeed. What did you think of the Evil season premiere?


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The Boys’ Eric Kripke says Season 3 will be all about 'exploring America itself as a myth' @ Syfy Wire

Like Watchmen before it, The Boys is all about satirizing decades of superhero tropes through prevalent societal issues of politics, sexuality, immigration, race, and senseless violence (to name a few). These comics, and their subsequent adaptations, represent subversion at its finest because we all know that if superheroes were real, they would most certainly not be pure of heart.

The Boys just has the guts to say what we're all thinking, and with Season 3 all set to introduce the character of Soldier Boy — played by Supernatural's Jensen Ackles as a less noble version of Captain America — the hit Amazon series wants to take a dive into "the myths we tell ourselves, to feel that we’re righteous, really exploring America itself as a myth," showrunner Eric Kripke recently explained to Deadline.

Kripke went on to hint that we'll see several flashbacks to World War II (the era in which Soldier Boy was created) and the Vietnam War, as is shown in the comics. "I always really loved it because you got to see how the superhero phenomenon didn’t just affect the present, but how it affected parts of the past as well," he continued. "And so, we have this character, Soldier Boy ... and he’s been around since World War II and was the first Vought superhero. Through him and through his story, we’re able to explore a lot of the history of the country, really."

Credit: Prime Video

As opposed to Steve Rogers, who received the super-soldier serum from Dr. Erskine — a German scientist who escaped from the Nazis — Soldier Boy was the direct result of the Third Reich's gross and amoral medical experimentation. That not only turns the patriotic mascot archetype on its head, but also opens the door for an examination of the nature of patriotism itself, and how it can sometimes turn ugly. Kripke alluded to this when he told Deadline that Season 3 diverges from the xenophobic themes of the last two seasons in favor of tackling more home-grown fears.

"I’d say in previous seasons the boogeyman for you to be scared of used to be, 'The terrorists are coming to get you.' And now it’s sort of metastasized into, I think, a much more ominous, 'Your neighbor is coming to get you,'" he added. "And that’s scary to me, how politics are turning us on each other. So, we want to explore what it means to be in America, really."

Kripke also revealed that production on the next batch of episodes is more than halfway through, which means we could see Season 3 premiere as early as the beginning of 2022. "It’s all happening," he said. "I went through the quarantine and was on set for about three-and-a-half weeks, just in the beginning, to get everybody off and running. But since then, I’ve been here [in L.A.]."


If Secret Invasion is a hit, Emilia Clarke says she’d ‘be so lucky’ to spend the next decade in the MCU @ Syfy Wire

For legions of Game of Thrones fans, Emilia Clarke will always be the Mother of Dragons, no matter where her acting career takes her. Spending eight seasons in one of TV’s most successful series tends to have a way of linking you forever — no matter how versatile you are — with the high fantasy lore of George R.R. Martin’s iconic world.

But even as Clarke gets set to launch her own superhero comic (while already laying claim to an incredibly diverse acting résumé), she’s perfectly happy with the possibility of becoming a long-term household name all over again…this time in the Marvel universe. Marvel is staying super-secretive about her character in its upcoming Secret Invasion, but the MCU Phase 5 series is on track for a 2022 debut at Disney+. And though we’ll have to wait for the show to tell its story, it could mark the beginning of a long stint for Clarke in the MCU. “I mean, I should be so lucky, is what I’ll say to that,” she recently told The Hollywood Reporter.

As multi-year stars like Robert Downey, Jr. (Iron Man) and Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow) have proven, the MCU is the rare media franchise capable of bonding its characters to the A-list actors who play them — all without too much fret or worry over their Marvel-based celebrity pigeonholing them for other roles. After seeing Downey, Jr. and other huge names stay with their characters for the better part of ten years, a whole new batch of established stars — from Angelina Jolie to Salma Hayek to Clarke’s own GoT costar Kit Harington — have all made the headfirst leap into the MCU’s next chapter.

Clarke says that’s probably because Marvel has a great reputation for making stories that actors want to tell. “Everyone I know and everyone I’ve spoken to who is a part of the Marvel universe — and actors talk! Everyone has only the highest praise to offer,” she said. “There’s a reason why actors stay in it. They’re so loved because they’re having loads of fun. So I’m down for that. Sure!”

Being a genre fan probably helps, too, and Clarke is a self-confessed fan of all the sci-fi and fantasy fare she’s touched, whether it’s playing Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones or in Qi’ra in Solo: A Star Wars Story. She’s even getting in on the comics game, readying for the launch next month of M.O.M.: Mother of Madness, her very own superhero mini-series in partnership with Image Comics.

M.O.M. (whose “Mother of Madness” link to Clarke’s fame as GoT’s Mother of Dragons is no coincidence, she said) follows a mom who gains superpowers that change with her menstrual cycle. It’s meant to be funny, but also very much heroic: Think of it as “Deadpool meets Fleabag,” Clarke joked.

Beyond a vague 2022 target, Marvel hasn’t revealed when Secret Invasion will invade Disney+. But Clarke’s first official turn as a comic book author officially begins on July 21, when the first issue of M.O.M.: Mother of Madness charges into comics shops.

Legends of Tomorrow’s Latest Melted My Heart With Star-Crossed Cuties @ io9

Ava Sharpe (Jes Macallan) fears if she turns around, Sara (Caity Lotz) will disappear.Photo: The CW

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow has had its share of wacky shenanigans this season. Talking candlesticks, an intergalactic sing-off, and the alien burger sauce episode that we are not going to talk about. But it’s also been about love, and in “Back to the Finale: Part II,” Sara (Caity Lotz) and Ava (Jes Macallan) took that focus and ran with it.

Last night’s episode was the kind of hour-long escapade you’d think would be saved for the midseason finale, because a lot of stuff happened. It finally united everyone after several episodes apart, fittingly putting them in the last place they were all together. Of course, much has changed since season five’s finale, and it’s important to remember all the shit that’s happened to our unlucky bunch of heroes so far this season. Here’s a small snippet: Gary was an undercover extraterrestrial, Constantine no longer has his powers, newcomer Spooner can talk to aliens, Mick’s out in space trying to rescue his captain (and making out with Gary’s inhuman boss), Nate was a talking cheese wheel at one point...oh, and Sara’s an alien hybrid who can heal herself because that tech bro who made the Avas is trying to take over the galaxy with Sara clones.

It’s that last and definitely wackiest part that made up the bulk of “Back to the Finale: Part II,” as we finally got an answer as to what the hell Bishop’s (Raffi Barsoumian) been up to all this time. He’s spent years searching for a human strong enough to be genetically spliced with aliens, so he could make a massive army where each clone would have its own unique powers. Wings, telepathy, maybe some cool spit—anything’s possible! Of course, the human he wants is Sara, and of course, all her clones would be under Bishop’s control, just like the Avas were. This is super messed up if you think about it. The whole thing felt like some creepy Ex Machina bullshit, which could explain Bishop’s Oscar Isaac-esque man bun. But don’t worry about him now because he ended up as a computer program and (presumably) got blown up.

Y’all are kinda bad at this.Photo: The CW

Meanwhile, the Legends are gearing up to break the timeline (again!) so they can stop Sara from having been abducted in the first place. They travel back to Clotho’s punk show and do what they do best, which is nearly fuck up the past so many times that Past Ava figures out who they are and yells at them to return to the future. We also get a momentary Alternate Reality Nate, dressed in Constantine’s trench coat with an eyepatch and a terrible wig, ordering them to not set off a Sara mannequin bomb as a distraction because it’ll lead to aliens taking over Wall Street. It was great, because this show is great.

Both versions of Sara—the pre-abduction one getting drunk at a punk show, and the one who’s now an alien hybrid clone—are dealing with the same worry that they’re not good enough for Ava. The pending nuptials have been a huge part of the plot so far this season since Ava knows Sara plans on proposing but is worried they’ll never get the chance. But now it seems there’s more than distance keeping this proposal from happening. In the past, Sara’s newest friend Spooner provides some sound advice—meanwhile, in the present, her oldest friend Mick Rory does the same. Sara and Mick’s scene was very touching and showed how far these two have come since the series premiere of Legends of Tomorrow. It was especially fitting because Dominic Purcell is nearing the end of his tenure on the show, as he’s said he’ll no longer be a regular cast member when this season is done. Side note, they couldn’t be coming up with a finer way to send Rory off: Turning his sci-fi erotica into IRL space sex adventures.

Everything gets worked out in true timey-wimey style, as is typical for Legends of Tomorrow...in that nothing really got worked out at all. It turns out that Behrad had inadvertently pulled a Back to the Future in the season five finale, as he was originally responsible for distracting Sara long enough for her to get abducted. If he hadn’t done that, Sara may have never left. Everything that’s destined to happen has already happened. Heavy. But at least there was something extra special in store: Sara finally gets to do what we’ve been waiting all season for, propose. And it was so sweet, you guys. Soooooooo sweet. Literal fireworks (from that Sara mannequin Behrad forgot about) ignite to celebrate their love. Yay, they’re getting married!

They did the thing!Photo: The CW

It’s unclear what’s in the future for Legends. Bishop has (supposedly) been defeated, but there are a bunch of aliens on the timeline that will still have to be dealt with. And there’s the matter of Sara being part-alien now. But who cares it’s marriage time! Ding-ding! It’s been a while since we’ve gotten a good DC CW wedding episode (if you ignore that time Oliver and Felicity ruined Barry’s), and I cannot wait to see what kind of bells these time travelers end up ringing. I’m hoping it involves basically everyone from every decade from all-time coming together to celebrate Sara and Ava’s love. Oh, and a T-rex.


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Monsters at Work: What to know about the Monsters, Inc. sequel series on Disney+ @ Syfy Wire

The closet door is about to creak open once again with Monsters at Work. Set to be released in early July, the Pixar TV series is a direct follow-up to the events of 2001's Monsters, Inc.

Picking up several months after the monster world has switched over to laugh power, a young monster named Tylor Tuskman finds himself heading down a vastly different career path now that his terrifying appearance is completely obsolete. Unable to put his scare talents to good use, a dejected Tylor becomes a factory mechanic. Not exactly the job he was hoping for, but it's certainly a stepping stone to becoming a laugh harvester.

OK, that's the basic set-up, but there's plenty more to know about this return to Monstropolis. Check out our primer on Monsters at Work, which hits Disney+ on July 7.

How to watch

Monsters at Work is a Disney+ Original, meaning that you'll need a subscription to the Mouse House streaming platform if you want to catch it. Originally set to premiere on July 2, the show was recently pushed off by five days to July 7.

The decision to postpone may have been due to the fact that this year's Fourth of July weekend is packed with major genre releases such as The Forever Purge, The Boss Baby: Back in BusinessThe Tomorrow War, and the first entry in Netflix's long-awaited Fear Street trilogy. Like its streaming competitors, Disney+ usually drops new episodes around 12 a.m. PT / 3 a.m. ET, so if you're based on the East Coast, you'll need to stay up super late or just wait until first thing in the morning.

Behind the closet door

Released in 2001, Monsters, Inc. was written by the duo of Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo) and Dan Gerson (Monsters University) and directed by Pete Docter (he'd go on to helm Up and Inside Out). Monsters at Work, meanwhile, was developed for television by Bobs Gannaway, who has served as an executive producer on a number of small-screen Disney spinoffs like 101 Dalmatians: The SeriesLilo & Stitch: The Series, and The Emperor's New School.

Gannaway's support team on this new series consists of producers Sean Laurie and Ferrell Barron and supervising directors Steve Anderson and Kathleen Good. Dominic Lewis is composing the music (taking over the franchise reins from Randy Newman).

"We feel like this show is a revolution in episodic programming," Barron said at D23 Expo in 2019. "We built a team that comes from Pixar, from Disney Animation, from television animation, and we've merged it all together to try to give Disney+ something that's unique and special ... We really focused on what Pixar thinks of when they think of filmmaking, which is there is no better business plan than quality. Quality is the best business plan and that's how we're approaching Monsters at Work."

Veteran Pixar animator Rob Gibbs (whose young daughter, Mary, was the voice of Boo in the original movie) directed several episodes before passing away last April.

Credit: Pixar/Disney+

The scary set-up

Monsters at Work takes place six months after the events of the first movie, wherein Sulley and Mike discovered that laughter was 10 times more powerful than screams. With Mr. Waternoose arrested by the Child Detection Agency (CDA), the two buddies are placed in charge of the Monstropolis power company. However, the show isn't really about them; it's more about an ambitious young monster named Tylor Tuskman.

A recent graduate of Monsters University, Tylor hopes to become a scarer, but has his hopes dashed upon discovering that Monsters, Inc. is no longer looking for terrifying employees. Since his appearance is not conducive to eliciting chuckles from children, he's sent to work for MIFT (Monsters, Inc. Facilities Team), a group of misfits who keep the factory running smoothly.

At least that's what they're supposed to do. Based on the trailer, it doesn't look like the MIFT crew is very good at their jobs, but Tylor could change all that with his fresh perspective (his new goal is to become a professional Jokester).

Credit: Pixar/Disney+

Voices (old and new)

Let's start with the returning cast members. Billy Crystal and John Goodman are both returning to the iconic roles of Mike Wazowski and James P. "Sulley" Sullivan, respectively. Other established cast members include John Ratzenberger (Bernard and Yeti), Jennifer Tilly (Celia Mae), Bob Peterson (Roze), Bonnie Hunt (Ms. Flint), and Dan Gerson (Smitty and Needleman).

Ben Feldman (Superstore) leads the newcomers as the voice of Tylor. Aisha Tyler (Archer), Mindy Kaling (The Office), Lucas Neff (Big Hero 6: The Series), Henry Winkler (Barry), and Alanna Ubach (Mythic Quest) co-star. Tyler is playing Tylor's mother, Millie Tuskmon, while the remaining names take on the leading members of MIFT. Kaling and Ubach previously worked with Pixar on Inside Out and Coco, respectively.

"They've created all of these new, young, great characters with some great voice actors," Crystal told Collider earlier this year. "I tell ya, it's 20 years since [the first movie] and that movie looked amazing 20 years ago. It's coming up to the 20th anniversary [in the fall] and it's fantastic-looking and it's hilarious and we're having a lot of fun doing it ... We've done a bunch. We've been on a break because of the pandemic, but some of it I was able to do at home and some I was able to do in a very deserted studio out in Burbank. To be the only one on the lot was a little weird."


F9 star Sung Kang explains just how hard it was to keep Han's return to 'Fast & Furious' a secret @ Syfy Wire

More than a year ago, back when we still thought F9 was going to be the film to ignite the summer movie season of 2020, fans everywhere felt their jaws drop when the first trailer revealed that a character we all thought was dead was alive, well, and ready to drive once again. In a franchise full of surprises, the ninth installment's reveal that it would feature the return of Han Lue (Sung Kang) to the Fast fold ranks among the biggest, and it took some extraordinary secrecy to pull off. 

Speaking to Digital Spy, Sung Kang — who was last part of the Fast team proper in 2013's Fast & Furious 6 — explained life on the set of F9 given that everyone at Universal Pictures was determined to keep his return a secret up until the January 2020 trailer drop. Unfortunately, it meant some special moments with castmates had to be missed, because he couldn't risk being photographed on the set by anyone. 

"[Writer/director] Justin [Lin] and Universal, everybody was really on top of hiding me on set. There's a lot of cast photos early on. If you look at the Fast 9 photos from set, there's all these birthday parties and stuff, I'm never invited," Kang said. "I would see the birthday cakes from afar, but it's part of the fun. It's really cool to be part of that kind of narrative."

Though F9 was ultimately bumped by the COVID-19 pandemic from its original May 22, 2020 release date, Han's return to the franchise remains a key point of hype for fans, particularly since we still have absolutely no idea how it's possible. Han was seemingly killed all the way back in Tokyo Drift, but the fourth, fifth and sixth installments were ultimately set up as prequels so we could see his relationship with Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and the Toretto crew in more detail. The opening of Furious 7 in 2015 ultimately took place roughly simultaneously with the end of Tokyo Drift in the series timeline, and revealed that Han's death was actually the work of Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), a character who has since become an ally to the Fast heroes, sparking the "Justice for Han" fandom movement that was given a nod in the F9 trailer. It's a complicated situation made more complicated by Han's return, but there's no way anyone is getting the secret of how it goes down out of Kang, even if they share a bed with him. 

"I actually haven't even told my wife," he said. 

He added, "I think if it wasn't Justin, I would be very concerned and apprehensive. But Justin and I, we developed the character together. He understands that character as much as I do."

The secret behind Han's return will be revealed when F9 speeds into theaters this Friday.

(Universal Pictures and SYFY WIRE are both owned by NBCUniversal.)


Steven Spielberg's Pretty OK With Netflix Now @ io9

Spielberg attending the 92nd Oscars in February last year.Photo: Mark Ralston/AFP (Getty Images)

Steven Spielberg has had an intriguing character arc as of late. He caused a little drama a few years ago for his purported belief that movies made for Netflix that get theatrical award season runs shouldn’t qualify for Oscars. Then he worked with Apple TV and whatever the hell Quibi was. Now, the lauded filmmaker has entered a new partnership with none other than Netflix.

Deadline reports that Spielberg’s Amblin Partners has inked a deal with the streamer that will co-exist alongside the director’s current deal with Universal Pictures. Neither Universal nor Netflix will have first-look power over Spielberg’s upcoming projects, but the deal with Netflix means Spielberg’s production house will develop “multiple movies per year” for streaming, according to the trade. “[Spielberg is] a creative visionary and leader and, like so many others around the world, my growing up was shaped by his memorable characters and stories that have been enduring, inspiring and awakening,” Netflix Co-CEO and chief content officer Ted Sarandos said in a statement. “We cannot wait to get to work with the Amblin team and we are honored and thrilled to be part of this chapter of Steven’s cinematic history.”

Spielberg added in his own statement: “At Amblin, storytelling will forever be at the center of everything we do, and from the minute Ted and I started discussing a partnership, it was abundantly clear that we had an amazing opportunity to tell new stories together and reach audiences in new ways. This new avenue for our films, alongside the stories we continue to tell with our longtime family at Universal and our other partners, will be incredibly fulfilling for me personally since we get to embark on it together with Ted, and I can’t wait to get started with him, Scott [Stuber, Netflix’s Head of Global Film], and the entire Netflix team.”

In spite of Spielberg’s public tussle with Netflix back in 2018, the news is not entirely surprising given the director’s trajectory. For nearly a decade Spielberg has talked about the movie industry’s slow but certain push towards VOD content, and Spielberg’s been involved on streaming shows from the production side like Showtime and Paramount+’s upcoming Halo series (which the director has been connected to for years at this point), or his work on the Amazing Stories reboot for Apple TV+. Just last year, Spielberg pitched and developed Spielberg’s After Dark for the short-lived Quibi streaming platform, which will now air on Roku’s Roku channel after Quibi crashed and burned late last year. While some might be quick to poke a bit of schadenfreude at Spielberg teaming up with his one-time “nemesis”—and Netflix’s deal is a major get—it’s not quite as surprising as some may think it to be.


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Batman Beyond: Terry McGinnis returns to figure out who killed Bruce Wayne in DC's new 'Urban Legends' comic @ Syfy Wire

His last volume of comic book adventures may have come to an end last year, but any Batman Beyond fan knows you can't keep Terry McGinnis down for long. This fall, the fan-favorite Batman of the future will make a triumphant return to the pages of DC Comics for a story that plunges him into what might be the most important mystery of his career. 

As part of its solicitations for comics releasing this September, DC Comics revealed late last week that the seventh issue of Batman: Urban Legends will feature a lead story starring Terry McGinnis back in his role as Batman Beyond. The synopsis in the latest issue of DC Connect teased that the story will begin with the murder of Bruce Wayne, found dead in his own legendary Batcave.

With his mentor gone, Terry will have to "travel into the dark heart of Neo-Gotham to find who killed the greatest hero the city ever knew." The story is co-written by Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly, with art by Max Dunbar, letters by Aditya Bidikar, and colors by Sebastian Cheng. As part of his return to action, Terry will also feature on the main cover for the issue by Francesco Mattina, which you can check out below.

DC Comics

Launched in March, Urban Legends was conceived as an anthology series that would showcase Batman's supporting cast as major events in Gotham City unfolded around them, and as a result Terry will not be alone in issue #7. The issue serves as a showcase of several different possible Gotham futures, and will also feature stories starring a post-apocalyptic Dark Knight, Cassandra Cain in the world of Future State, and Batman One Million presiding over a super-prison in the 853rd century. 

After breaking out in the 1999 animated series, Batman Beyond has had a few different comic runs over the past two decades — and also played a key role in the 2014 DC event The New 52: Futures End. The most recent volume of Batman Beyond comics concluded in December 2020 with its 50th issue, closing the book on another chapter of Terry McGinnis' continued adventures, so his return in Urban Legends is welcome news for fans, even if it is a brief encounter. Of course, the size of this mystery, and the continued popularity of Batman Beyond, may mean this won't be the last we'll see of him...

Batman: Urban Legends #7 is in stores Sept. 14.

Werewolves Within's Quirky Characters Make It a Howling Good Time @ io9

Park ranger Finn (Sam Richardson) finds his new posting in snowy Beaverfield poses some unique challenges.Image: Sabrina Lantos/IFC Films

The set-up for Werewolves Within is familiar: a newcomer to a small town realizes there’s something very strange about his new neighbors and surroundings. But the horror-comedy—directed by Josh Ruben, written by Mishna Wolff, and based on the Ubisoft VR game—leans into the “comedy” side of that genre designation, painting its characters with broad but funny strokes and styling its story more like an old-school murder mystery than a creature feature.

Fleeing a professional blunder as well as a relationship that’s wheezing toward a break-up, an affable park ranger named Finn (Sam Richardson of Veep, Detroiters, and the upcoming Tomorrow War) pulls into the snowy small town of Beaverfield, unaware that his latest posting will introduce some entirely new stressors into his life. (Thanks to a prologue, in which a mysterious man is attacked by... something, we know more than Finn about what lies ahead.) It doesn’t take long for him to get the lay of the land, thanks to the awkwardly cute and gossipy mail carrier, Cecily (Milana Vayntrub, the voice of Squirrel Girl on Marvel Rising). That said, nobody in Beaverfield is especially shy about airing their business, especially when it comes to their feelings on an issue that’s been dividing the town of late: an oil company’s desire to build a pipeline through it. Some folks hope to make a buck off the construction project; others are more concerned about its environmental impact.

Cheyenne Jackson and Harvey Guillén play the town’s resident yoga-loving tech millionaires.Image: Sabrina Lantos/IFC Films

Just as Finn’s starting to settle in, the dominoes of plot conflict begin to fall. A storm blocks the road to Beaverfield and the power goes out, stranding most everyone at the inn where Finn, Cecily, and a visiting scientist (Rebecca Henderson) have been staying. The locals include the innkeeper (Catherine Curtin), the oil company rep (Wayne Duvall), a redneck couple (George Basil and Sarah Burns), a MAGA couple (Michael Chernus and Michael Watkins), and a gay couple (Cheyenne Jackson and Harvey Guillén); the local mountain man/militia guy (Glenn Fleshler) is also lurking around. Tensions, already sky-high, erupt volcanically once everyone’s in tight quarters, and things only get worse once everyone starts to realize there’s a killer in their midst. Even worse, that killer in their midst might be a vicious werewolf.

Finn, who’s the kind of guy who quotes Mr. Rogers and says “heavens to Betsy!” when he discovers something amiss (even when it’s something seriously unsettling, like the fact that all the generators in town have been clawed to pieces), tries his best to bring everybody together, but there’s too much bad blood swirling around for anyone to trust anyone else, especially as the body count begins to rise. Werewolves Within keeps the whodunnit vibes going throughout, dropping suggestive hints that any of its characters could be a killer, a werewolf, or both—while also dangling the dueling possibilities that the werewolf thing is either very real or a very cunning fabrication.

Beaverfield’s residents hunker down.Image: Sabrina Lantos/IFO

With its oversized characters played by an array of comedic actors—the pairing of American Horror Story’s Cheyenne Jackson and What We Do in the ShadowsHarvey Guillén is particularly delightful—there’s a danger that Werewolves Within could end up being overly campy. Fortunately, the film stays committed to its spooky atmospherics (including a bit of gore) to keep things from getting completely farcical—and since the plot is so familiar, the fun performances end up being the movie’s biggest attraction anyway. That doesn’t mean the script isn’t clever, though; it knows it’s filled with tropes and it also knows you know it’s filled with tropes, and the little breadcrumbs it sprinkles throughout its dialogue (one word: “snowshoes”) end up paying off big-time as Werewolves Within reaches its conclusion.

Werewolves Within arrives in theaters on June 25, and on digital rental and VOD starting July 2.


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In Rick and Morty's Season 5 Premiere, a Greasy Clone of Marvel's Namor Stood Tall @ io9

Mr. Nimbus demonstrating some of his powers.Gif: Adult Swim

Rick and Morty’s Rick Sanchez has made a number of enemies during his travels across the multiverse, and while many of them have fancied themselves his intellectual equal, he’s usually found a way to disabuse them of that notion before the end of each episode. But with Mr. Nimbus, a new character introduced in Rick and Morty’s season five premiere, things are different.

Graphic:

Though Morty is relieved when he accidentally crash-lands their ship into Earth’s ocean in “Mort Dinner Rick Andre,” their location immediately alarms Rick, who never got around to telling anyone about why tries to stay out of the sea. Within moments of splashing down, the pair are greeted by Mr. Nimbus (Justin Roiland), a Namor-like king of the ocean (which ocean isn’t specified, and it feels safe to assume he claims all of it) who haughty traipses around like a fishy majorette in red banana hammock.

Utterly ridiculous as Mr. Nimbus is, when his arrival on land is preceded by an inexplicable wave of sea water and marine life, Rick takes him quite seriously in a way that confuses the rest of his family, who all have understandable doubts about the sea-dweller’s might. While Mr. Nimbus’ presence in the Smith household pushes Morty into yet another interdimensional adventure subplot and gives Summer a reason to go off on a solo adventure, the adults are all left to figure out just what the king’s skeezy deal is and what about him makes Rick so nervous. Nothing about Nimbus particularly reads as uber-threatening at first, and his assumption that Jerry has an “untamed” energy makes it seem like he might not be particularly perceptive about other people. But when Jerry, somewhat emboldened by Mr. Nimbus’ demeanor, tries to call the cops on him, he quickly learns what sort of dickish, Aquaman-like powers make him dangerous.

Mr. Nimbus demonstrating his control over law enforcement.Gif: Adult Swim

In the way that Mr. Nimbus openly propositions Jerry and Beth for a threesome, you can see Rick and Morty poking fun at Warner Bros.’ recent commitment to making its cinematic Aquaman sexy—and acknowledging the way that Marvel’s Namor has always been presented as having a distinctly sexual energy about him. But in a very typical Rick and Morty fashion, Mr. Nimbus also speaks to how, even with grimdark live action adaptations and heroic framing, aquatic characters like these have always been a little silly, particularly in stories that follow them on land where their control over fish often comes across comically.

What seems to frustrate Rick most about Nimbus isn’t the way that he wrecks the Smiths’ house or constantly shoves his junk into people’s faces, but the fact that everything other people say about Nimbus is pretty accurate. Mr. Nimbus is a weirdo and a creep with a questionable taste in fashion, and his power set doesn’t seem like it should be any match for Rick’s super science. But after Mr. Nimbus lets Beth and Jerry know that he’s down to show them the shape of water, they’re intrigued by the idea of it, and when Rick tries to force Nimbus out of his home, he can’t. It pisses Rick off when Nimbus refers to himself as Rick’s nemesis because, joke that Nimbus may be, for one reason or another, that’s the truth of what they are to one another, something that Rick at the very least implicitly recognized by avoiding him.

Rick and Morty has repeatedly touched on the truth of how, beneath his boorish, hostile exterior, Rick genuinely is lonely at times and seeks out companionship that he’d never openly admit to craving. As Rick attempts to tear Nimbus down with insults, it doesn’t take much for Nimbus to knowingly call out Rick’s behavior for the petty, embarrassment-filled anger that it is, which only gives Rick reason to storm away in a huff.

The final moments of “Mort Dinner Rick Andre” further illustrate how Rick’s hatred of Mr. Nimbus is something worth considering in terms of where Rick’s at in his life, and what sorts of story developments the rest of Rick and Morty’s fifth season might have in store. Even if the character never makes another appearance, he’s now been established as an important piece of Rick and Morty’s lore, and another reminder than jokes at superheroes’ expenses can be fun.

Rick and Morty airs Sunday on Adult Swim; you can also watch the season premiere on Adult Swim’s YouTube channel.


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Supermassive black hole storms rage, and scientists just found the earliest one ever @ Syfy Wire

Turbulence, wind, dangerous radiation… it sounds like a dreadful storm forecast. You shouldn't expect anything less frightening from a supermassive black hole.

Galactic winds that erupt from black holes blast furiously through space. Supermassive black holes in active galactic nuclei (AGNs), or high dense regions in the center of a galaxy, unleash these winds because of ultra-high levels of energy from both matter that accumulates in their accretion discs and the galactic jets they spew out. Now scientists who observed over 100 stormy black holes have found that galactic winds have been blowing almost as long as the universe has existed.

The observations show “[this] is the first detection of a galactic-scale quasar-driven outflow” and that “the outflow will soon quench the star formation of the host,” the research team, who was led by Takuma Izumi and used the Subaru Telescope and the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), said in a study recently published in The Astrophysical Journal.

What Izumi wanted to find out was when the first galactic winds in the universe emerged, and the recent find puts the origins of this phenomenon at 13 billion years ago, at least a billion years after the Big Bang. Something peculiar about supermassive black holes is that their masses are proportional to the masses of their galactic cores, despite the enormous difference in size. The central bulge of a galaxy is about 10 orders of magnitude larger than its nuclear black hole, which seems to imply that there was some sort of physical interaction — possibly with the magnetic field — that could have forced them to evolve together.

Such a coevolution was suspected before in the Cigar Galaxy, or M82 (above). Its loss of matter is thought to be the result of its galactic wind, which aligns with a magnetic field out up to 60 million Suns’ worth of gas and dust. M82 is also a starburst galaxy, meaning it is constantly forming stars. Its galactic wind can explain how star-forming materials travel through the void.

The center of the Milky Way, where galactic winds are always on the forecast. Credit: NASA

Whether or not magnetic fields are evolved with all interactions between galaxies and their black holes, galactic winds almost definitely are. Supermassive black holes have enough gravitational force to draw nearly unfathomable amounts of matter into the death spirals that are their accretion discs. This much gravity makes matter move at incredibly high speeds that result in energy emissions so intense that they can actually shove that matter outward, creating a galactic wind.

How fast are galactic winds? The Subaru Telescope caught the windborne gases of one faraway galaxy (J123+0100) moving at around 310 miles per second, and that is still nothing compared to the 2 million miles per second that the fastest known galactic wind in the universe zooms around at. Going back to galaxy J123+0100, Izumi’s team saw that the the mass ratio of its bulge to its supermassive black hole was just about the same as the ratios seen in younger galaxies that grew up much later.

J123+0100 is the oldest of the galaxies observed and convinced the researchers that galactic winds must have been around for over 13 billion years. Its bulge is about 30 billion times more massive than the Sun, and its black hole is approximately 1% of that or 10 million solar masses. If proof of an even older galactic wind can be found, around 13.77 billion years in age, it could mean that galaxies and supermassive black holes were coevolving from the dawn of the universe.

"We are planning to observe a large number of such objects with ALMA in the future, and hope to clarify whether or not the primordial coevolution seen in this object is an accurate picture of the general Universe at that time,” Izumi said in a press release.

This really makes winds strong enough to turn your umbrella inside out seem like a balmy breeze in paradise.

Everybody Loves Christopher Lloyd in This Exclusive Nobody Clip @ io9

Guns? Where we’re going we’re going to need lots of guns.Photo: Universal

There are so many good things to say about the new film Nobody that Christopher Lloyd playing a gun-toting badass in it barely cracks the list. Normally, seeing the man who made time travel possible with a Flux Capacitor and flying DeLorean doing anything is just about the best thing going in any movie. He’s a living legend. And yet, in Nobody, he’s just part of a larger pool of cool.

Directed by Ilya Naishuller (Hardcore Henry), Nobody stars Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul) as Hutch. As the title suggests, Hutch is a nobody. Just a regular guy who wakes up, goes to work, comes home, and that’s about it. But when his home is invaded, we learn that’s all a facade. In fact, he’s an unstoppable force of nature, great with weapons as well as his fists, and his rage brings him deep into a terrifying underworld of crime.

It’s essentially John Wick, but with Bob Odenkirk (which makes sense, as it’s also from writer Derek Kolstad, who also wrote on The Falcon and the Winter Soldier). Plus, yes, Hutch’s father is played by none other than Back to the Future’s Doc Brown himself, Christopher Lloyd. In this exclusive clip from the upcoming Blu-ray release, you can watch the cast and crew geek out about having the acting icon (also known from Taxi, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Clue, Addams Family, 12 Monkeys, you name it) in their film.

Nobody was released in theaters earlier this year, and has been available for digital download for a few weeks as well. But on June 22, it’ll be available on Blu-ray and 4K for the first time so you can make it a permanent part of your home movie collection. It’s got a slew of extra features too—including deleted scenes, breakdowns of all the action scenes, and two commentaries. If you haven’t seen the film yet, we can’t recommend it highly enough.


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The 'Luca' team often joked about a TV spin-off for one of the Pixar film's most bizarre characters @ Syfy Wire

Warning: This article contains spoilers for Luca.

Though he has less than 10 minutes of screentime in Luca, Uncle Ugo most definitely steals the latest Pixar show. Voiced by Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat), the deep-sea character shows up around the 25-minute mark after Luca's parents — Lorenzo and Daniela (played by Jim Gaffigan and Maya Rudolph) — discover that their son (Jacob Tremblay) has been venturing to the surface world.

Ugo (a translucent sea monster clearly modeled after this rather ugly-looking anglerfish) is brought in to take his nephew away to the darkest depths of the ocean where there's nothing to do. Nothing except wait until an endless smorgasbord of whale carcass floats into your mouth.

"They were amazing," Luca director Enrico Casarosa says of the recording sessions with Cohen. "If we had to probably book Sacha Baron Cohen with his crazy schedule in person, it probably would’ve been difficult. But we were able to do it. He was in Australia, very far [away], but we were able to do it and so, they were amazing. We gave him a lot of freedom to riff. We tried probably half a dozen different voices. He’s so versatile and quick — he was making us laugh really, really hard. He gave us so much material."

Credit: Rick Rycroft-Pool/Getty Images, Pixar/Disney+ (via screenshot)

Once actor and director settled on Ugo's throaty voice, all of Cohen's lines were recorded in just two sessions. "That’s all we needed," Casarosa adds. "That is honestly the amount of material we had and how much fun we had to then puzzle to get at the best parts … What an amazing pleasure to work with him and what an amazing improviser. He just ran with it."

"As parents, you want to do something to help a kid," Gaffigan explains. "It would’ve been the worst thing for Luca to do that, but you understand the logic of his parents thinking [that] sending him to Uncle Ugo would make sense, which is insane. I find that very interesting and in the script, that was very funny, too."

The crew loved the character so much, in fact, that they would often joke about an Ugo TV spinoff "showing you around the deep, and he thinks it’s amazing, but it’s an awful life," Casarosa reveals.

While Luca's end credits do give viewers a glimpse into what occurs after the main story has ended, we asked the project's director and cast what they'd like to see out a potential sequel.

"We joked because of Guilia’s past and the fact that her parents are separated, that there’s a Parent Trap sequel here, where they’re trying to get Massimo and her mom back together. It was a joke, but I find that kind of funny and interesting," Casarosa says. "But the reason to make a little bit of telling us what happens after [is because] I love to give a sense that Luca will somehow conquer the world. It was important to feel he wasn’t gonna go in the world and hide in any way that he’s a sea monster."

Emma Berman echoes that sentiment, adding that she'd like to see what life is like for Giulia during the rest of the year. "I think it would be really cool to see her relationship with her mom and how Luca kind of joins their family a little," the actress tells us." I think it’d be a really fun thing to see how Luca is maybe treated at school when they find out he’s a sea monster."

Credit: Disney/Pixar

Jack Dylan Grazer, on the other hand, would like to see Alberto Scorfano with Luca at school in Genoa after the two friends parted ways at the end of the film. "And he's like, ‘Oh, I’m here to take a Home Ec class.’ And Luca’s like, ‘What…? Why Home Ec?’ And he’s like, ‘I am married now. I need to learn how to cook and clean and do taxes…’"

As for Luca's parents, who remained behind in Portrosso, Gaffigan, thinks "it would be interesting to see Lorenzo and his wife adjusting to living on that world ... There are so many great themes in this movie about dealing with your fears and friendships and how friends propel you to pursue things ... And then Uncle Ugo could come and visit us and he would be completely unequipped. So, I think it would be fun if they ended up in a really crowded city."

The bottom line is this: We need more of Uncle Ugo...a lot more! 

Luca is now available to stream on Disney+ at no extra cost to subscribers.


'Jurassic World: Dominion' turns the clock back a few million years in dino-filled teaser clip for IMAX prologue @ Syfy Wire

It's time to scratch that dinosaur itch we've been trying to properly scratch since 2018. Universal Pictures has shared a short teaser trailer for the special five-minute preview of Jurassic World: Dominion that is all set to play during IMAX screenings of F9 this coming Friday.

Serving as a prologue to the main action of Colin Trevorrow's trilogy capper (out next summer), the extended look is set millions of years in the past when dinosaurs freely roamed the Earth without the presence of those pesky bipeds called humans. It also features music from Jurassic World composer Michael Giacchino, as well as seven new species of dinos never before seen in the prehistoric franchise (life finds a way, right?). Right off the bat, though, we recognize some of the usual suspects like Pterosaurs and Ankylosauruses.

Watch below:

Based on that sliver of footage, it looks like we're in for Planet Earth meets The Land Before Time, which, come on, sounds absolutely amazing. The only thing that could make it better is voiceover narration from David Attenborough, Morgan Freeman, or Werner Herzog (or all three!).

"Ever since I was a kid, I have wanted to see dinosaurs in their natural habitat," Trevorrow said in a statement earlier this month. "It may have taken a few decades, but with a little help from ILM, Universal and Amblin, it has finally happened. This preview is just a glimpse of the film we’ve made. It’s an epic celebration of everything Steven Spielberg and Michael Crichton created, and I can’t wait to share it with the world next summer."

"At IMAX, we’ve missed audiences as much as they’ve missed seeing movies in our theaters, and this is the perfect welcome-home present for everyone who loves movies,” added Megan Colligan, President of IMAX Entertainment. “We are always thrilled to show the world’s most spectacular movies on the world’s most spectacular screens, and to help create moments and memories for audiences that last a lifetime. We’re proud to join with Universal, Amblin, and the Jurassic World and F9 filmmakers in offering this unforgettable and unprecedented cinematic experience.”

F9 drives onto the big screen this coming Friday, June 25. Jurassic World: Dominion, on the other hand, will rise from the primordial ooze and stampede into theaters on June 10, 2022.

(Universal Pictures and SYFY WIRE are both owned by NBCUniversal)


Tuca & Bertie Got High and Heavy on the Fumes of Codependency @ io9

Bertie and Tuca at a Planteau bar.Image: Adult Swim

In Tuca & Bertie’s second season, the feathered friends are back and still a pair of hot messes living their best lives in a world filled with other anthropomorphic animals and glistening tomato strippers who are probably tired of being asked whether they’re GMOs or organic. However, last night’s episode, “Planteau,” went even deeper.

Keeping with the show’s first season, which followed Tuca (Tiffany Haddish) and Bertie (Ali Wong) as they went through trials and tribulations that helped them better understand themselves, the new season kicked off last week with the pair doubling down on their commitments to emotional growth. While Tuca mustered up the courage to begin dating again as a relatively recent sober person, Bertie set out to find a therapist to help deal with her crippling bouts of anxiety. Both Tuca’s longing for emotional intimacy and Bertie’s need to deal with her emotions with people other than Tuca are elements of their personalities that Tuca & Bertie’s explored previously. But “Bird Mechanics” and “Planteau,” Tuca & Bertie’s two most recent episodes, have been revisiting those ideas in order to emphasize how lifestyle changes and working on one’s mental health are processes that take time.

Though Tuca’s still prone to existential messiness, her sobriety is actually something she’s navigated with strength and uncanny wisdom when faced with obstacles like her belligerent, cruel aunt Tallulah (Jennifer Lewis). It’s relatively easy for Tuca to put herself back on the market as she ropes a bunch of unexpecting people onto her Sex Bus—a vehicle that becomes the setting of a dating show in which going out on a date with her is the ultimate prize. For Bertie, tracking down a therapist she properly vibes with proves to be a difficult task. Even after she eventually settles into a comfortable pattern with Dr. Joanne (Pamela Adlon), by the end of “The Bird Mechanics,” the second episode opens with it being quite clear that neither Tuca nor Bertie is in what one might consider a good spot.

Good as things still are between Bertie and her boyfriend Speckle (Steven Yeun), “Planteau” lays out how Bertie’s still taking steps to be a more social person somewhat more independent from him and Tuca. When Speckle’s sister Dottie (Steven Universe’s Michaela Dietz) invites Bertie to join her bachelorette party in Planteau—a Vegas-like city full of plant people—she agrees out of a desire to keep breaking out of her shell and meeting new people. Though Tuca and Speckle are also present for the trip, the idea of hitting Planteau’s streets for a wild celebration is still enough to nearly send Bertie into conniptions. So, Bertie decides she’ll be sober buddies for the evening with Tuca as long as she agrees not to leave her alone and awkward.

Tuca & Bertie’s take on Veggie Tales.Gif: Adult Swim

One of the biggest anxieties Tuca dealt with in season one stemmed from her concern that without drinking, she might no longer be the charismatic kind of person that others naturally gravitate towards. Through the process of putting herself back out there and giving herself time to figure out how she wants to live her life now, though, she’s been able to move past much of that old self-doubt. It’s something that’s made it significantly easier for her to identify what parts of her friendship with Bertie might not be healthy. Tuca & Bertie’s jokingly danced around the idea of its two leads being emotionally codependent to a fault, but the way that it comes to the fore in “Planteau” feels distinctly like a story shaped by how the past year has strained many people’s friendships.

When Tuca tells Bertie she doesn’t need to drink to have a good time, she genuinely means it, but it’s difficult for Bertie to internalize—or perhaps put much faith in—what Tuca tells her, and even more of a challenge for her to grapple with her own self-consciousness. The final moments of “The Bird Mechanics” reveal that while Tuca truly does care about Bertie, she also keenly feels how prioritizing Bertie’s emotional needs before her own is causing her deep pain. It’s not that Tuca doesn’t want to be there for her friend, but that at this point in their lives, Bertie hasn’t taken the time to consider whether she’s reciprocating the kind of care and attention that her best friend has.

Bertie trying to convince Tuca not to be mad.Image: Adult Swim

Tuca & Bertie pieces this story together in a way that doesn’t reduce the friction between the two to a simple instance of one friend not realizing that they’ve been somewhat selfish, but intensifies it. Bertie begins to sneak drinks while out in order to work up a buzz to get her on Tuca and the other drunk bachelorettes’ level of carefreeness, and when Tuca finds out, the betrayal brings the party to an abrupt halt. What “Planteau” never explicitly spells out, but is woven into the subtext of the fight, is that even in her attempt at being supportive of Tuca’s sobriety, Bertie was ultimately still creating an imposition for her friend whose only desire was to have a good, non-intoxicated time with a bunch of fellow animals in a town full of talking fruits and vegetables. Though Tuca and Betie are able to patch things up after their falling out, “Planteau” makes clear that patches might not really be enough to maintain their friendship as the season progresses, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

As little doubt as there is that Tuca and Bertie will remain friends, Tuca & Bertie’s very purposefully seeding the possibility that what the two of them need most right now is time apart—not exactly because they’re not good for one another, but because there are times in people’s lives where change and recalibration are necessary. Emotional rough patches like the one Tuca and Bertie have wandered into typically only grow more treacherous unless the people lost in them legitimately hash out what’s on their minds. That sort of forthrightness has been a hallmark of Tuca’s interactions with people for quite some time now, but by the final moment of “Planteau,” it’s clear that Bertie isn’t quite there just yet. The more time Bertie spends bottling up her insecurities, the more likely that they’re just going to bubble up again in even more intense, unexpected ways, and there’s no telling whether Tuca (and perhaps also Speckle) will be prepared for what happens next.

Tuca & Bertie’s second season is airing Sunday nights on Adult Swim.


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SpongeBob spin-off 'The Patrick Star Show' offers a fun deep-dive into Patrick's quirky backstory @ Syfy Wire

If you asked actor Bill Fagerbakke 22 years ago if he thought that gig voicing a very dense, pink starfish under the sea would still be going, he likely would have laughed you out of the room. But, that's exactly what's happened as his vocal performance as Patrick Star in just about every official iteration of SpongeBob SquarePants storytelling has secured the character as an all-time animation icon.

For more than two decades, Patrick has played the loyal, and deeply enthusiastic echinoderm sidekick to SpongeBob with aplomb. But now, Nickelodeon is shining the spotlight on Patrick and his equally odd family in the spin-off series, The Patrick Star Show, which premieres on Friday, July 9, at 7 p.m. Eastern. A prequel to the main SpongeBob SquarePants series, the new show will reveal who helped Patrick become the starfish we know and love. We'll meet his parents Cecil (Tom Wilson) and Bunny Star (Cree Summer), his ambitious sister, Squidina Star (Jill Talley), and his bombastic GrandPat Star (Dana Snyder). 

Despite being the vocal custodian of the character since Patrick's inception, Fagerbakke admits to SYFY WIRE in a recent Zoom interview that he had no idea a Patrick-centric series was even in the works until SpongeBob executive producers, Vincent Waller and Marc Ceccarelli, surprised him with the idea a few years ago. 

"I got to see some of the early artwork and that was really great," Fagerbakke recalls, although he admits that he didn't get to share too many of his own ideas for the series during these early stages. "That's a pretty rare deal for a carny/voiceover actor to get that kind of input. [Laughs.]"

It wasn't until the full cast for The Patrick Star Show was secured and revealed to one another that the actor input came into the mix as they worked their magic voicing their characters for the episodes. And for Fagerbakke and actress Jill Talley, who has voiced Karen Plankton and countless incidental voices on SpongeBob SquarePants since 1999, The Patrick Star Show marked their first chance to actually work together as siblings Patrick and Squidina Star. 

"We've worked together for 20 years, but we haven't worked together because Karen and Patrick haven't had a lot of interaction, so it's really fun to get to play together," Talley says of their new dynamic. "And even now, we're working from our homes because of the pandemic. But I can't wait to be back in the studio together doing that."

Hardcore Bikini Bottom fans may know that a version of Squidina Star first appeared on-screen in the 2018 episode "Goons on the Moon," where she was voiced by Talley. But, with one line of dialogue and no more impact on the show's narrative, even Talley forgot she originated the character. She admits the producers had to remind her, and play back the audio to jog her memory about how Squidina even sounded. 

"They found it," Talley recalls with a laugh. "But, then there's the realization that any audience member isn't going to remember it either. So you can take that little bit of information, and tweak it and make it a little different if you want. I used that as the jumping-off point when they played that little sound clip of one line of dialogue from years ago, and went from there."

The Patrick Star Show. Credit: Nickelodeon

What The Patrick Star Show presents is a very different Squidina, who serves as her big brother's booker and producer on the house-based variety show they put on daily for their pet sea urchin, Ouchie, and a few curious neighbors. She's clearly the more focused of the two, with potentially a big Hollywood, behind-the-scenes career ahead of her. But for now, she's just got her hands full wrangling her unfocused brother.

Their dynamic is a very different one than we've seen for the excitable starfish before, and Fagerbakke says it was delightful to have something so different for Patrick to play against. 

"The [writers] really set it down in the dialogue that there is this connection; a great familial, sibling bond between Patrick and Squidina that is just there and you recognize it automatically," Fagerbakke says, adding that he felt that connect as soon as he read the script. "I love that that's one of the instant things that happens, almost subconsciously, when you're [reading] well-written content. All these mechanisms just fire in your brain and you go, 'Oh, that's what that is!' You recognize it, and you just go with it. We don't have to get together and go, 'So, what do you think?' What do you see coming at us?' It's just all there and I feel like there's a lot of natural combustion with the characters that works together in a great organic way. And then, what Jill has done with the performance, that lifts it up even more."

Talley adds that Squidina is just tickled by her brother as well, which makes for a very uplifting show overall. "Patrick's character is entertaining the audience of one, Ouchie. But I think Squidina is entertained by him as well, in the way that a brother and a sister have inside jokes, and can make each other laugh really hard. That's already there," she says. "It's like Bill said, it's written in. And it's fun to play that as well."

The Patrick Star Show premieres on Nickelodeon on Friday, July 9, at 7 p.m. Eastern.

'Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness' writer teases Sam Raimi sequel: 'It's a thrill ride' @ Syfy Wire

Benedict Cumberbatch is all set to expand our minds next spring with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness — a direct sequel to the character's 2016 origin film. Following creative differences with Marvel Studios last year, Scott Derrickson opted not to return as director. His replacement? Spider-Man veteran and horror maven Sam Raimi, who completely started from scratch with screenwriter Michael Waldron (head writer and executive producer on Loki).

During a recent Zoom conversation with SYFY WIRE, Waldron laughed when we prompted him for any kind of teaser about the top-secret follow-up, which wrapped up its U.K. production in April. "It’s a Sam Raimi movie," he told us. "That’s the best tease I could give you."

Raimi hasn't sat in the director's chair since 2013's Oz the Great and Powerful, preferring to serve as executive producer on a number of horror/thrillers projects such as Don't BreatheCrawl, and The Unholy. However, it's only fitting that his first directorial credit in almost a decade is for a movie that brings him back to the Marvel Universe. Aside from the Evil Dead trilogy, Raimi's trio of Spider-Man films (released between 2002 and 2007) is what he's most famous for.

And despite the fact that comic book movies have greatly evolved since Spider-Man 3, it sounds like Raimi hasn't lost his panache for high camp and striking imagery that are never too far from the filmmaker's hair-raising roots. He's a Nexus being in his own right, capable of juggling the convergence of light-hearted tone and genuine scares. Exactly what you want out of a movie billed as the MCU's first overt horror flick, especially when there's a good chance that movie might very well introduce Lovecraftian entities of Strange canon like Shuma-Gorath.

"It’s a thrill ride," Waldron continued. "It’s a thrill ride with heart like you’d expect from a Sam Raimi superhero movie. Sam’s a genius and the way he moves the camera is really exciting and he’s not afraid to take chances. I think it’s gonna be a really cool experience for everybody."

Credit: Marvel Studios

Unable to give up specific plot details, the writer said he was excited by "all the cool sci-fi and fantasy stuff you can do with Doctor Strange." Taking the same approach he used for Loki, Waldron asked himself: ‘How can you go deeper into the character of Stephen Strange?’ This is a guy who’s been through a lot in the last several years. What effect does that have on somebody so powerful? That’s exciting. And beyond all that, he’s just a great adventurer — a great adventure hero you just like to watch kick ass."

In addition to providing a deeper understanding of the Sorcerer Supreme, Waldron also had to work Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) into the story. Fresh off her magical experiences in Westview, the Scarlet Witch will have a greater grasp on her terrifying abilities, thanks to the Darkhold. As we're seeing in Loki, the multiverse is in critical danger of ripping apart at the seams and due to her status as an incredibly powerful Nexus being, Wanda is one of the few heroes who can help rectify the situation. Let's just hope she's on Strange's side.

Waldron explained that he made sure to treat Wanda's character "with reverence" while writing the Multiverse of Madness script. "As I think you had to because WandaVision was so good and we were making Doctor Strange as WandaVision was releasing," he said. "I had conversations with [WandaVision head writer/EP] Jac Schaeffer and really collaborated with her on this next chapter and then working with Lizzie Olsen as well to make sure we were doing justice to the character. So, you’ve gotta honor what came before and also be bold in your own choices and just trust that you’re doing something cool."

Credt: Marvel Studios

Waldron's collaboration with Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige won't end with Loki or Multiverse of Madness. In January of this year, it was confirmed the writer had been tapped to write a mysterious Star Wars project for Feige and Lucasfilm, which was first announced in November 2019.

"It’s a mystery. It’s in space!" Waldron told us. "It’s such early days on that one. I have been so plugged into Doctor Strange. I think that’s just one of those things time will tell how all of that stuff comes together."

The man is good with protecting spoilers, alright. He can't reveal any specifics just yet, so we try and different tact and ask what he loves most about the galaxy far, far away.

"I think Star Wars [has] great stories about families — a family of characters and I guess literal families as well," he concluded. "It’s just great characters. It’s like anything else. The same reason any film franchise works is great characters struggling together. It’s exciting to watch and so, I love Star Wars. I love all of it and I’m just excited… to be in that universe at all is really cool."

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness portals into theaters everywhere on March 25, 2022. No specific release date has been announced for Feige and Waldron's Star Wars project.

The first two episodes of Loki are now available to stream on Disney+, with Episode 3 slated to hit the platform this coming Wednesday (June 23). For SYFY WIRE's official recap of the show's first two installments, click here and here.


Shazam: Fury of the Gods Reveals Its Marvelous Supersuits Before They Leak (Again) @ io9

Behold, your new and updated Marvel family. No, not *that* one.Image: David F. Sandberg/Warner Bros.

In the internet age, how many times have we seen practically as much as we can of a new superhero movie’s snazzy suits and costumes before we get even a glimpse of an official look from a poster or a trailer? It happens all the time. Hell, it happened today. But Shazam: Fury of the Gods director David F. Sandberg has a simple solution—grab your actors off set and take some pics yourself.

Sandberg did so to reveal the updated suit designs for the Marvels as they’ll appear in Shazam follow up Fury of the Gods, including Zachary Levi as Shazam, alongside Adam Brody, Meagan Good, Ross Butler, D. J. Cotrona, and Grace Fulton as the superheroic adult versions of Billy Batson’s friends and family. (Fulton now plays both her superheroic self and Billy’s foster sister Mary, replacing Michelle Borth, who played her superhero form in the first movie.)

The suits themselves are interesting, if relatively minor upgrades from what we saw in the first film—the aesthetic is mostly similar, with the largest changes being tweaks to the lightning bolt logo (removing the lit-up part), new gauntlets and boot designs, and the replacement of a lighter colored fabric for darker, textured material in the suit bodies, bringing the film’s aesthetic more in line with other DC superhero movies.

Other than that, they’re not really all that new—but it’s still nice to see, especially as Sandberg was primarily sharing the picture just so fans could see the suits in a well-lit environment before grainy set snaps from location shooting could leak. An experience the director is very familiar with, as the first Shazam went through months and months of costume leaks from set pictures and other sourcesand mockery—before we ever officially saw Levi’s ‘final’ supersuit. It’s an experience that’s not specific to Shazam either; outside of a few rare surprises, practically every first look we get at a major superhero movie’s costume designs comes from glimpses and glances from set pictures, well before official material emerges.

That can be frustrating to the people who are making these things, not just because they’re leaks but because they can lead to people dismissing design choices or certain aesthetic tweaks when they’re not seeing the suits as close to how they’ll eventually appear on screen—properly lit, maybe with post-production or CG enhancements, or what have you. Sandberg’s willingness to try and get ahead of that and just grab his actors on the production backlot is a refreshing bit of candor that should be more than an exception in these big superhero movies, honestly.


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New super-suits revealed: Shazam Family reunites in 'Fury of the Gods' set pic from David F. Sandberg @ Syfy Wire

Shazam! director David F. Sandberg has officially confirmed that the Marvel Family (aka Shazam Family) will return in the upcoming DC sequel, Fury of the Gods. "Don’t know how long we can keep the new suits from leaking so here’s a pic I took the other day," Sandberg wrote on Twitter along with a photo of Billy Batson's (Asher Angel) alter ego (played by Zachary Levi) and his fellow foster home siblings who now have the ability to transform into grown-up heroes as well.

In a small tweak, Grace Fulton is now set to play both versions of Mary Bromfield (as opposed to the first movie where her magical iteration was portrayed by Michelle Borth). "Yes, Grace now plays both parts," Sandberg wrote in response to a fan who pointed this out. "But her hair and makeup is slightly different when she’s super, so nobody will ever recognize her. Hey, it works for Wonder Woman!"

The rest of the actors, however, remain the same: Adam Brody (Freddie Freeman), Meagan Good (Faithe Herman), Ross Butler (Ian Chen), and  D. J. Cotrona (Pedro Peña). Take a look below:

Recently chatting with SYFY WIRE about his role in Pixar's Luca, returning Shazam! cast member Jack Dylan Grazer (he plays the younger version of Freddie) sounded off on Levi's fresh costume. "The new suit is dope. It’s so cool, sleek," he told us. "I don’t know if I’m allowed to say this, but I’m going to. There’s no hood. He doesn’t have a hood anymore. There’s no hood, and it’s cool."

While Grazer confirmed that he was in the middle of shooting Fury, he couldn't divulge any secrets we didn't already know. "Helen Mirren is in it. I can only say as much as released," he explained. "Helen Mirren, Lucy Liu, [and] Rachel Zegler, who’s in Spielberg’s new West Side Story. She’s so talented. Everybody is so talented … It’s a great cast, awesome cast. It’s so funny, it’s so fun, everybody’s really on top of it. We came out of this drought of COVID and now we’re so ready to get back up on the horse and have a blast with this film."

Written by Henry GaydenShazam: Fury of the Gods will hit theaters on June 2, 2023.


New Snake Eyes Trailer Makes Cobra a Much Bigger Threat @ io9

Snake Eyes suiting up.Screenshot: Paramount

One of the most promising things about Paramount’s upcoming Snake Eyes solo film is that it seemed very much like its story would focus mainly on its titular ninja hero, rather than dumping way too much information about the larger G.I. Joe franchise the way the studio’s 2013 The Rise of Cobra did. Though the new trailer definitely has origin-y vibes, the way it teases out Snake Eyes’ confrontation with Cobra makes it seem as if the villainous organization’s going to be a much more significant presence than we previously knew.

When Henry Golding’s unnamed character—who we meet working as a fishmonger—refuses to kill Tommy (Andrew Koji), the man who will one day become Storm Shadow, he’s pulled into a shadowy, secretive world of professional ninjas who’ve been waging war against evil across the globe for centuries. While becoming part of the Arashikage clan puts Golding’s character on the path to becoming the Snake Eyes, the trailer also makes clear that his journey takes an unexpected turn when Cobra’s Baroness (Úrsula Corberó) steps onto the scene, heralding her organization’s latest go for world domination.

Because Snake Eyes is meant to tell the story of how its hero become a legendary warrior, it makes sense that the movie would feature some degree of direct connection to the larger G.I. Joe franchise. But the big question now looming over the movie is how much of the plot might feel like overlong foreshadowing for a sequel versus its own solid story. Either way, the movie seems very committed to giving diehard fans of Snake Eyes and the gang the kind of visual fanservice they crave, and it’s going to be interesting to see whether that’s enough to lure audiences into theaters when Snake Eyes premieres on July 23.


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TV THIS WEEK: Van Helsing, Batwoman and Clarice finales; Departure on SYFY; Mysterious Benedict Society premieres @ Syfy Wire

It’s a big week for fresh new shows and major finales this week, so be sure to give your DVR schedule a quick check to make sure you’re up-to-date on everything hitting.

SYFY’s long-running vampire thriller Van Helsing wraps up its run this week, along with CBS’s horror series Clarice. On the superhero side, Batwoman is also wrapping up its second season after bringing in a new hero under the cowl — with a third season already in the works and set to introduce Batwing later this year. The CW's Legacies also wraps up its season.

Turning to premieres, SYFY is doing a weekend binge drop of the Peacock sci-fi mystery thriller Departure over the weekend, about an airplane that disappears over the Atlantic. On Disney+, the new YA series The Mysterious Benedict Society makes its debut on the streaming service. Freeform’s Motherland: Fort Salem also returns for a new season this week.

Digging deeper, Disney+ has the third episode of Loki dropping; and The CW has a boatload of new Arrowverse episodes led by The Flash and Superman & Lois. Fox has a new LEGO Masters; NBC has a new American Ninja Warrior; and The Boss Baby makes its network premiere on NBC ahead of the sequel’s release on July 2 (in theaters and on Peacock).

Check out the full rundown below and let us know what you’ll be watching.

HIGHLIGHTS

Clarice (CBS), Thursday 10 p.m. - “Family Is Freedom”

FINALE: On the heels of ViCAP uncovering the secrets behind the River Murders case, Clarice is imprisoned in an abandoned animal testing facility, where she finds trafficked women being held captive.

The Mysterious Benedict Society (Disney+), Friday - “Episode 101”

SERIES PREMIERE: Based on the award-winning and bestselling book series by Trenton Lee Stewart. The show stars Tony Hale in the titular role and features a standout ensemble of young actors. Placed undercover at a boarding school known as The Institute, a group of orphans must foil a nefarious plot with global ramifications while creating a new sort of family along the way.

Departure (SYFY), Friday 8 p.m. - “Vanished”

SERIES PREMIERE: When an airplane disappears over the Atlantic, Howard Lawson of the TSIB chooses Kendra Malley to lead the investigation, even though she's still on bereavement leave; as a potential crash site is identified, Kendra discovers the pilot kept a secret. The series is also streaming on Peacock.

Van Helsing (SYFY), Friday 10 p.m. - “Novissima Solis”

FINALE: Vanessa, Violet, and Jack face off with The Dark One in the ultimate battle to save humanity.

Batwoman (The CW), Sunday 9 p.m. - “Power”

SEASON FINALE: Ryan questions her place as the city's hero as she, Luke Fox, Mary Hamilton, and Sophie Moore join forces against Black Mask; Alice's attempt to rescue her sister means another encounter with Circe.


MONDAY

1408 (MTV2), Monday 8 p.m.

A writer (John Cusack) who specializes in debunking supernatural phenomena experiences true terror when he spends a night in a reputedly haunted room of a hotel. Based on the Stephen King story.

American Ninja Warrior (NBC), Monday 9 p.m. - “Qualifiers 3”

The qualifiers continue at the Tacoma Dome with a new generation of ninjas facing up to six challenging obstacles, including the new Air Surfer and Pretzel Twist in addition to the iconic Warped Wall.

HouseBroken (Fox), Monday 9 p.m. - “Who's a Good Therapist?”

Honey and Chief go on vacation, but instead of spending quality time with Chief, Honey becomes obsessed with a "perfect couple"; Elsa runs group and has to deal with some unexpected developments.


TUESDAY

LEGO Masters (Fox), Tuesday 8 p.m. - “Hats Incredible!”

The teams create wearable hats made entirely of LEGO bricks, then model their designs on the runway.

The Flash (The CW), Tuesday 8 p.m. - “Rayo de Luz”

When Ultraviolet returns to Central City, Allegra is determined to find her cousin and change her heart; Joe finds evidence that Kristen Kramer may not be the good cop she appears to be.

Superman & Lois (The CW), Tuesday 9 p.m. - “A Brief Reminiscence In-Between Cataclysmic Events”

Clark makes a startling discovery about Morgan Edge.

Motherland: Fort Salem (Freeform), Tuesday 10 p.m. - “Of the Blood”

SEASON PREMIERE: Despite the threat of the Camarilla, the discovery of new witches gives Alder hope; Tally struggles with her role as a Biddy; Raelle and Abigail return to Fort Salem with their mysterious new abilities.


WEDNESDAY

Loki (Disney+), Wednesday - “Episode 3”

Features the God of Mischief as he steps out of his brother’s shadow in a new Disney+ series that takes place after the events of Avengers: Endgame. Tom Hiddleston returns as the title character, joined by Owen Wilson, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Sophia Di Martino, Wunmi Mosaku, and Richard E. Grant. Kate Herron directs “Loki,” and Michael Waldron is head writer.

The Boss Baby (NBC), Wednesday 8 p.m.

NETWORK PREMIERE: A wildly imaginative 7-year-old discovers that his new brother, Boss Baby (Alec Baldwin), is actually a spy on a secret mission, and only he can help thwart a dastardly plot that involves an epic battle between puppies and babies.

Kung Fu (The CW), Wednesday 8 p.m. - “Isolation”

Nicky follows a lead that brings her, Henry, and Evan to a quiet town in Canada; Zhilan joins forces with Kerwin Tan; Jin and Mei-Li find themselves at a crossroads.


THURSDAY

Making It (NBC), Thursday 8 p.m. - “One in a Million”

Nick and Amy get to know a new batch of makers; first in the faster craft, the makers make a toy that represents their personality and who they are; then in the master craft, they create a family portrait that shows off their birth or chosen family.

Legacies (The CW), Thursday 9 p.m. - “Fate's a Bitch, Isn't It?”

SEASON FINALE: Hope is forced to work with someone from her past; Kaleb and MG go on their first official superhero mission; Lizzie's plan to find Hope a rebound relationship takes an unexpected turn.

Clarice (CBS), Thursday 10 p.m. - “Family Is Freedom”

See more in our “Highlights” section above.

Tomb Raider (TNT), Thursday 10:30 p.m.

NETWORK PREMIERE: Hoping to solve the mystery of her father's disappearance, young Lara Croft embarks on a perilous journey to his last-known destination — a fabled tomb on a mythical island that might be somewhere off the coast of Japan.


FRIDAY

The Mysterious Benedict Society (Disney+), Friday - “Episode 101”

See more in our “Highlights” section above.

Star Wars: The Bad Batch (Disney+), Friday - “Episode 109”

Follows the elite and experimental clones of the Bad Batch (first introduced in The Clone Wars) as they find their way in a rapidly changing galaxy in the immediate aftermath of the Clone War. Members of Bad Batch — a unique squad of clones who vary genetically from their brothers in the Clone Army — each possess a singular exceptional skill that makes them extraordinarily effective soldiers and a formidable crew.

Charmed (The CW), Friday 8 p.m. - “What to Expect When You're Expecting the Apocalypse”

The sisters must track down the Whispering Evil in the present to save the future; Harry fears his mortality journey may change him.

Departure (SYFY), Friday 8 p.m. - “Vanished”

See more in our “Highlights” section above.

Departure (SYFY), Friday 9 p.m. - “Survivor”

The team pursues leads as they wait to see if the surviving witness will regain consciousness; Theo examines the possibility of mechanical failure; marine expert Nadia pinpoints 716's final resting place on the ocean floor and calls the Royal Navy. The series is also streaming on Peacock.

Van Helsing (SYFY), Friday 10 p.m. - “Novissima Solis”

See more in our “Highlights” section above.


SATURDAY

Vikings (History), Saturday 8 p.m. - “The Lord Giveth”

Ubbe and his people must show diplomacy; the Vikings ambush the Saxons; Ingrid makes a play that strengthens her power.

Departure (SYFY), Saturday 8 p.m. - “Prime Suspect”

Kendra gets an important clue from Madelyn; a friend of Captain Donovan's appears at the TSIB offices and reveals he was agitated and unstable the night before Flight 716 took off; AJ obsesses over an online conspiracy that blames a Russian oligarch. The series is also streaming on Peacock.

Departure (SYFY), Saturday 9 p.m. - “Sabotage”

Though the flight simulator all but confirms the cause of the crash, Kendra isn't convinced — especially once Madelyn starts remembering her escape from the plane; Dom suspects that Derek's death was the result of a botched murder attempt. The series is also streaming on Peacock.

Vikings (History), Saturday 9 p.m. - “The Last Act”

Tragedy strikes, not only in new territory, but also in England; Ragnar's sons set off in their journeys.


SUNDAY

DC's Legends of Tomorrow (The CW), Sunday 8 p.m. - “Stressed Western”

The Legends look to Nate to keep everything calm while in the old West on a mission to find an alien; Sara reveals her secret to Ava and the team.

Departure (SYFY), Sunday 8 p.m. - “Grounded”

AJ is injured but alive after his accident; after being attacked, Kendra uncovers a stunning betrayal by someone close to her; a second attempt at reaching the black boxes reveals a new layer to the mystery. The series is also streaming on Peacock.

A Discovery of Witches (AMC), Sunday 8 p.m. - “Episode 2”

As she continues her search for a mentor, Diana meets wealthy alchemist Mary Sidney; London's vampire ruler demands fealty from Diana and Matthew as he is unnerved by their sudden arrival in the City.

Batwoman (The CW), Sunday 9 p.m. - “Power”

See more in our “Highlights” section above.

Departure (SYFY), Sunday 9 p.m. - “Endgame”

After recovering the black boxes, Kendra investigates Hoffman and brings the full story of the Flight 716 disaster to light. The series is also streaming on Peacock.

Good Witch (Hallmark), Sunday 9 p.m. - “The Magic”

As the Merriwicks delve into the images on Joy's vision board, Cassie accompanies Sam on a trip to his childhood home to care for his sister.

*TV listings via Zap2it, network, and streaming listings.

Undead mushroom spores reanimated after hundreds of years prove fungus can survive almost anything @ Syfy Wire

Fungi have been the stars of many B-horror movies for a reason. They’re everywhere, can take bizarre and almost alien forms, and even inspired the name of an Incubus album. Sometimes you don’t even know an invasion of spores is happening right under your feet. Now, some of those spores have just come back to life after 250 years.

In what could be called Rise of the Zombie Fungus, biologist Benjamin Schantz-Conlon of the University of Copenhagen unearthed the spores of Podaxis mushrooms that had originally been found by the Carl Linnaeus, often referred to as the Father of Modern Taxonomy, and were lurking in museum collections. Schantz-Conlon and his team wanted the answer to whether this different types of this fungus, which randomly grows either in deserts on on termite mounds, also differ in their genomic and physiological profile depending on where they lurk.

Another thing the scientists wanted to find out was how old Podaxis spores could get and still have the potential to be zombified. They suspected that the spores they brought back to life — ancient by fungal standards — might have a chance at reanimating because their DNA had not degraded much as opposed to most older samples.

“We reasoned that the spores could have adaptations to protect them (and their DNA) from desiccating in hostile environments and therefore had a feeling it might be possible to successfully revive old specimens,” Schantz-Conlon told SYFY WIRE. “That we could revive 250 year-old specimens was really more than we dared dream of.”

Podaxis, also known as the “desert coprinus” mushroom, can be unpredictable. They thrive in otherwise hostile and desolate environments where almost no other species of anything can make it. Something even stranger about them is that they will appear almost out of nowhere. The genome and physiology of desert-dwelling Podaxis was found to be different from their relatives that hang out on termite mounds, though both types, which are related to puffballs, basically look like dead squash blossoms.

Podaxis mushrooms that grow on termite mounds (left) and freely in the desert (right). Credit: Benjamin Schantz-Conlon

 

Turns out that termite mound Podaxis have surprisingly smaller genomes with much fewer genes than the desert survivors.

Fewer genes may have evolved in Podaxis which coexist with termites because they are not able to tolerate stress in their surrounding environment as well as those that haunt the desert. Though termite mounds are strong defenses against microorganisms, the spores can somehow still germinate despite that and grow into rather large mushrooms. The downside of that is that these Podaxis do not have to compete for resources nearly as much as their cousins in the desert do. Schantz-Conlon, who recently published a study in Cell, believes it could explain why they did not develop as many genes.

“Our genomic and physiological analyses have shown that Podaxis in deserts appear to be more tolerant of biotic stress than those found exclusively in termite mounds,” he said. “They may have adapted to compete for scarce resources in arid environments, and their spores evolved to protect the biological material inside from all kinds of environmental stressors.”

This could also explain why desert Podaxis may seem to appear almost out of nowhere. Termite mound Podaxis don’t exactly have it that easy, either. Termites can survive in otherwise punishing climates. Vast dry expanses, where rain might not be on the forecast anytime soon, may have pushed these fungi to evolve spores that can wait for centuries, only morphing into mushrooms when conditions are right.

If Podaxis spores can survive for hundreds of years in some of the most remote and inhospitable regions on Earth, there might be other types of fungi that are also capable of waiting (almost) forever. Those that live on termite mounds may also give more insight as to how fungi that are typically loners can coexist with animals. Termite Podaxis can even elucidate more about fungal pathogens, from lethal black mold to irritating foot fungus.

“While some Podaxis are only found on termite mounds, others are both free-living and found with termites and these are genomically and physiologically similar to the fully free-living Podaxis,” Schantz-Conlon said. “This mirrors traits seen in opportunistic fungal pathogens.”

Even if a desert seems deserted, there is no denying that, even in the harshest of places, there is fungus among us.

The Flash Set Pictures Give Us a Fuller Look at Supergirl's New Suit @ io9

She’s already up, up, and away...Image: Warner Bros.

Toss a coin to 12 more tiny seconds of The Witcher season two footage. Get a few more looks at the world of Star Trek: Prodigy. Get a glimpse of Batwing’s arrival on Batwoman. Plus, what’s next for Legends of Tomorrow and a peek at Van Helsing’s finale. Spoilers get!

The Flash

Following Friday’s tease, new set pictures have emerged online giving a fuller look at Sasha Calle’s Supergirl costume.


Hellraiser

Bloody-Disgusting reports Odessa A’zion has landed the lead role in David Bruckner’s Hellraiser reboot. Details on her character are not available at this time.


The Green Knight

During a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, David Lowery discussed how his adaptation of The Green Knight was partially inspired by ‘80s fantasy films including Willow, Ladyhawke, and Dragsonslayer.

We were never going to make a strictly medieval history film. There is no historical accuracy to the film whatsoever. It is completely a fantasy. But in terms of visual references, we looked at everything from Andrei Rublev, which is, I think, one of the greatest movies ever made, and which you could never make now. It would cost hundreds of millions of dollars, but that was a great visual touchstone for us. We looked at Willow, the Ron Howard film, which is one of my favorite fantasy films of all time. We looked at a lot of ’80s fantasy, to be honest, like Ladyhawke and Dragonslayer and Willow. Those were big ones for us. We looked at Hammer horror films, and then there was this Russian adaptation of War and Peace that had just been restored around the time we started prep. And then Kenneth Branagh’s Henry V, we looked at that one a lot. A lot of Shakespearean references, especially that one.


Hotel Transylvania: Transformania

Hotel Transylvania: Transformania is now scheduled for an October 1, 2021 release date. [Bloody-Disgusting]


Candyman

Nia DaCosta discusses Candyman in a special Juneteenth featurette.




Black Adam

Meanwhile, Pierce Brosnan discussed his mo-cap Dr. Fate costume in a recent interview with his son, Dylan Brosnan.


Aquaman: The Lost Kingdom

Amber Heard is now in the U.K. preparing to film Aquaman: The Lost Kingdom.


Silk

Deadline reports Watchman’s Tom Spezialy will serve as executive producer on Sony’s live-action Spider-Man spinoff Silk, which could stream on Amazon Prime as part of Spezialy’s new deal with the streamer.


Star Trek: Prodigy

The official Trek website has a few more photos from Star Trek: Prodigy. More at the link.

Photo: Paramount+
Photo: Paramount+

The Flash

Diggle returns to The Flash in the synopsis for “P.O.W.” airing July 6.

DAVID RAMSEY GUEST STARS - John Diggle (guest star David Ramsey) arrives in Central City with a weapon to help Barry (Grant Gustin) stop the Godspeed War. Meanwhile, Allegra (Kayla Compton) and Ultraviolet’s (guest star Alexa Baraja Plante) new bond is put to the ultimate test, while Joe (Jesse L. Martin) and Kristin Kramer (guest star Carmen Moore) are hunted by a former colleague of hers. Marcus Stokes directed the episode written by Kristen Kim & Dan Fisk (#716). Original airdate 7/6/2021

[Spoiler TV]


Charmed

The Charmed Ones seek out a secret weapon before taking on The Whispering Evil in the synopsis for “The Storm Before the Calm” airing July 9.

COME TOGETHER - The Charmed Ones (Melonie Diaz, Madeleine Mantock and Sarah Jeffery) must confront the Whispering Evil, even though their collective powers may not be strong enough to defeat it. Meanwhile, Macy must face down Abby’s (Poppy Drayton) mother in order to acquire a secret weapon, Josefina (guest star Mareya Salazar) returns to help Mel from going into labor prematurely, and Maggie and Harry (Rupert Evans) must save Jordan (Jordan Donica) before he becomes the latest victim of the Tomb of Chaos. Geoff Shotz directed the episode written by Jeffrey Lieber and Sidney Quashie (#317). Original airdate 7/9/2021

[Spoiler TV]


The Witcher

Henry Cavill shared a new teaser for The Witcher’s second season on Instagram.




Batwoman

Batwing begins in the trailer for next week’s episode of Batwoman.




Legends of Tomorrow

The Legends return to the old west in the trailer for next week’s episode, “Stressed Western.”


Van Helsing

Finally, President Dracula destroys the world in the trailer for this week’s series finale of Van Helsing.


Banner art by Jim Cook

Snake Eyes: Cobra prepares to strike in full trailer for G.I. Joe origin flick @ Syfy Wire

Director Robert Schwentke (Flightplan, Red) digs deep into the G.I. Joe mythos with the full trailer for his live-action Snake Eyes film. 

Henry Golding (Crazy Rich Asians) takes up the titular role of a tenacious loner who becomes a deadly ninja warrior after saving the life of his future nemesis, Storm Shadow (Fast & Furious 6's Andrew Koji). Upon joining the ancient Japanese clan known as Arashikage, secrets come to light and Snake Eyes' "honor and allegiance will be tested — even if that means losing the trust of those closest to him," reads the official synopsis.

Then there's the matter of an up-and-coming shadow organization that wants all-out global revolution. That organization's name? You guessed it — Cobra!

"The relationship between Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow is probably one of the greatest relationships ever created," Golding remarks in a featurette that dropped alongside the trailer Monday morning. "It was so important for us to get that relationship right in this movie. [Larry Hama, who came up with the Snake Eyes/Storm Shadow backstory in the original comics] gave us creative license to be able to tell a story beyond the comics and launch this brand-new universe for G.I. Joe."

Check out the trailer and featurette below:

 

Written by Evan Spiliotopoulos (Beauty and the Beast) and Anna Waterhouse (Rebecca) & Joe Shrapnel (The Gray Man), the film co-stars Úrsula Corberó (Baroness), Samara Weaving (Scarlett), Haruka Abe (Akiko), Tahehiro Hira (Kenta), and Iko Uwais (Hard Master). 

Spiliotopoulos came up with the central story upon which the screenplay was based. David Ellison, Dana Goldberg, Don Granger, Jeff G. Waxman, and Greg Mooradian executive-produced the project, while Brian Goldner, Erik Howsam, and Lorenzo di Bonaventura served as producers.

Credit: Paramount Pictures

"It does not start as a G.I. Joe-Cobra movie," di Bonaventura said in May. "It starts as an Arashikage movie, a Snake Eyes character arc. You come to realize the Arashikage as they've traditionally been are affiliated with the Joes, therefore that brings in Cobra. There is a gradual reveal that there's a larger world here."

Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins heads to theaters Friday, July 23.


What happened to this galaxy’s dark matter? @ Syfy Wire

Back in 2018, astronomers used Hubble to observe a relatively nearby galaxy and found it presented a baffling mystery: It appeared to have little or no dark matter.

This was so weird they decided to follow up to make sure their results made sense. So they took more Hubble observations — a lot more — and the mystery only deepened. It appears to have even less dark matter than they originally thought.

This is unexpected, and bizarre. Why doesn’t this galaxy have a feature pretty much every other galaxy has?

The ultra-diffuse dwarf galaxy NGC 1052-DF2, seen here using Hubble, apparently has little or no dark matter. It’s not clear how this happened. Credit: NASA, ESA, STScI, Zili Shen (Yale), Pieter van Dokkum (Yale), Shany Danieli (IAS) Image processing: Alyssa Pagan (STScI)

Okay, to start, the galaxy is called NGC 1052-DF2 (let’s call it DF2 for short) and was discovered in 2000. It lies near the much larger and brighter elliptical galaxy NGC 1052 in the sky, and was found to be physically close to it, too.

DF2 is faint, and very diffuse (so diffuse, in fact, that you can see background galaxies right through it). Given the initial distance measured to be around 65 million light years from us, that makes it a dwarf galaxy but a biggish one, about 20,000 light years across.

The weirdness started when some short Hubble observations showed it has several globular clusters around it, huge collections of hundreds of thousands of stars. These clusters orbit galaxies, and how fast they orbit depends on the mass of the galaxy; more mass means more gravity and faster orbits.

The astronomers measured the velocities of the clusters using the immense Keck telescope, and found a mass for DF2 of about 200 million times the mass of the Sun, and no more than about 300.

Here’s where it gets truly weird: They also looked at the visible light coming from the galaxy. Assuming it all comes from stars (a very good assumption) they also get a mass of… 200 million times the Sun.

BUT. We know that galaxies are surrounded by a halo of invisible stuff we call dark matter, and that this generally outmasses the visible stuff by a factor of five or so. That’s not the case for DF2. Assuming they got everything right, the total mass of the galaxy is about or not much more than the visible mass. That means it has very little or no dark matter.

And that’s very weird indeed.

As it happens, there’s an out: If they got the distance wrong, this situation can be fixed. If it’s a lot closer to us than 65 million light years, say around 42 million light years, then the galaxy isn’t as bright as we think, the visible mass drops but the total doesn’t, and that means it does have a dark matter halo. In fact, using the same Hubble data, some other astronomers did calculate a much closer distance from the galaxy. So who’s right?

To find out, they got more Hubble observations. The first time they observed the galaxy they got a 4,500 second exposure. This time, though, they went deep, getting a total of nearly 90,000 seconds, almost 25 hours, 20 times the first exposure.

The galaxy NGC 1052-DF2 (left) with a close-up showing individual stars in it, including red giants which are used to get its distance. Credit: NASA, ESA, STScI, Zili Shen (Yale), Pieter van Dokkum (Yale), Shany Danieli (IAS) Image processing: Alyssa Pagan (STScI)

The images showed much fainter stars, including a lot of stars called red giants. These are stars like the Sun but nearing the ends of their lives. When they run out of hydrogen fuel in their cores they swell up and cool off. Eventually they start to fuse helium, which makes them shrink a bit and heat up. The beauty of this is that the brightness of these stars are all the same when they switch to helium fusion, making them great distance indicators. We know how bright they really are when this happens, so by measuring their apparent brightness the distance to the stars (and the galaxy they’re in) can be found.

Here’s the really fun bit: They looked at 5,400 red giants in the galaxy to get the distance, and the new measurement puts NGC 1052-DF2 about 72 million light years from us, even more distant than before!

That makes things worse. It means the total brightness of the visible matter in the galaxy is higher (since it’s farther away than we thought) and so the dark matter content is even lower.

Oops.

 

If we accept that the galaxy is truly at this distance it’s really hard to understand why it has no dark matter. There are some hypotheses on how a dark-matter-haloless dwarf galaxy can form, but they take some special conditions. One of them is that it forms near a much bigger galaxy that can strip the halo away from it. As it happens NGC 1052 is pretty close to DF2, so it’s possible this is what happened.

In the end these new Hubble images deepen the problem. It’s possible that the globular cluster velocities measured to get the galaxy’s total mass were off enough that the dark matter mass calculated is wrong, but that’s not covered by these new images. Perhaps more observations from ground-based telescopes can tighten that up.

Consider this whole thing an update, a chapter in the mystery novel that gives more information but doesn’t seem to help further the narrative other than dismissing a red herring. Fun, but there are still a lot of chapters to go.

April 12 (Biltmore Oswald: The Diary of a Hapless Recruit, by Thorne Smith) @ Bureau 42

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NASA's IBEX satellite creates first-ever 3D map of the sun's heliosphere @ Syfy Wire

In a monumental example of NASA's ongoing solar cartography efforts, the boundary of the sun's mysterious heliosphere has finally been mapped in 3D for the first time ever, providing a wealth of new insights as to how solar and interstellar winds intersect and interact.

Astronomers accomplished this breakthrough feat by employing data derived from NASA’s Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) spacecraft to determine the boundaries of our home star's heliosphere, that bubble of charged particles encircling the sun. 

The informational image below represents that vast region of space enveloping the Solar System that is rich with solar winds and forms the border between the heliosphere (in brown) and interstellar space (in dark blue).

To achieve this task, NASA's Earth-orbiting IBEX satellite detects particles that emerge from the sun's heliosheath, which can then be recorded and labeled. Led by Dr. Dan Reisenfeld of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, this endeavor forced Reisenfeld and his colleagues to dissect IBEX data to chart the edges of this cosmic zone known as the heliopause.

Credit: NASA/IBEX/Adler Planetarium

At this juncture, solar winds muscle their way out toward interstellar space where they collide with the interstellar wind, which has an entirely different dynamic and actually pushes in towards the Sun. Researchers were able to quantify these measurements by harnessing echolocation properties similar to those sonar-type skills used by bats.

“Just as bats send out sonar pulses in every direction and use the return signal to create a mental map of their surroundings, we used the Sun’s solar wind, which goes out in all directions, to create a map of the heliosphere,” Dr. Reisenfeld explained in an official Los Alamos press release.

This study was published in the June 10, 2021 issue of the Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series. It was performed using the IBEX satellite’s measurement of energetic neutral atoms (ENAs) that are the inevitable result of violent collisions between solar wind particles and elements blasted out by the interstellar wind.

The intensity of that signal depends on the severity of the solar wind that pummels the heliosheath. When waves strike the sheath, the ENA count rises and IBEX can record it.

“The solar wind signal sent out by the Sun varies in strength, forming a unique pattern,” Dr. Reisenfeld adds. “IBEX will see that same pattern in the returning ENA signal, two to six years later, depending on ENA energy and the direction IBEX is looking through the heliosphere. This time difference is how we found the distance to the ENA-source region in a particular direction.”

These sonar-like methods were relied upon by Reisenfeld and his team to construct their 3D map using info gathered over a ten-year solar cycle from 2009 through 2019.

“In doing this, we are able to see the boundary of the heliosphere in the same way a bat uses sonar to ‘see’ the walls of a cave,” Dr. Reisenfeld said. “The reason it takes so long for the signal to return to IBEX is because of the vast distances involved.”

The new Los Alamos 3D map reveals that the minimum distance from the Sun to the heliopause is approximately 120 AU (astronomical units) when facing the interstellar wind, and extends a minimum of 350 AU in the opposite direction, which also represents the distance limit for this sounding technique.

“Physics models have theorized this boundary for years,” noted Dr. Reisenfeld. “But this is the first time we’ve actually been able to measure it and make a 3D map of it.”

Ms. Marvel Comic Miniseries to Hit Shelves This September @ io9

Kamala Khan aka Ms. MarvelImage: Marvel Comics

Kamala Khan, aka Ms. Marvel, is the hero we need right now! It’s exciting to see her a part of the MCU with the new Disney+ show, but don’t forget the comics because a new series of books is upon us.

Samira Ahmed, who is writing for Marvel Comics on the Ms. Marvel series, tells EW has made Ms. Marvel a family affair where her cousins now always ask her: What would Ms. Marvel do? The author gives fans a taste of what they can look forward to seeing in the comic. “A lot of it will be about food because we can all relate to Kamala on that level,” she says. “Sometimes, it will be about bigger things in life. She looms large in my familial culture.”

Ahmed understands the cultural impact Ms. Marvel has had since her first appearance in a 2014 issue of Captain Marvel. The ongoing series was created by G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona and edited by Sana Amanat. The novelist recalls what the experience was like when she first heard the announcement of the solo series.

“For kids of color, Muslim kids, there was literally zero representation when I was growing up,” Ahmed says. “Just the fact that Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman was brunette and from someplace outside America was like, ‘Wow, that’s amazing!’ So when Sana and Willow announced Ms. Marvel, I was just so stunned. My heart soars for all the kids who will have Ms. Marvel comics as part of their childhood.”

This is Ahmed’s first time writing comics, but she’s an accomplished author who has written two YA novels Internment and Love, Hate, and Other Filters. The new Ms. Marvel comic miniseries debuts this fall with five issues illustrated by Andres Genolet.

Check out the full article on EW. It’s worth the read!

Suicide Squad's King Shark Was a Pain in the Ass for James Gunn @ io9

King Shark Image: Warner Bros.

James Gunn knows how to make VFX look realistic. His work on Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy with creating Rocket Raccoon and Groot has made the characters a staple of the MCU.

However, his most challenging creation is King Shark from the new DC comics movie The Suicide Squad, which Gunn is directing. In an interview with Gamesradar, Gunn provided insight into just how complex the process of developing King Shark was compared to his work on Guardians. “From a character standpoint, he’s very different from [Rocket and Groot], because at the end of the day, with the Guardians, we know they’re good,” Gunn says. “That isn’t true of the Suicide Squad. King Shark is a fish, and he eats human beings. He doesn’t have such a mammalian love for people. But he wants to belong, and he wants to show that he’s smart. And he’s not.”

The difficulty sounds like it’s down to the type of animals Gunn is working with. A Raccoon can stand upright, and when it’s time to get what they need, they can use their hands. A Shark has no hands or legs, but King Shark is a walking, talking shark with arms and four webbed fingers on each hand in the comics and the movie. Gunn confirms this, stating, “Rocket was hard because it’s difficult taking an animal and turning it into a humanoid shape, but it’s five times more difficult to do that with a shark – it was a very, very painstaking process.”

Sylvester Stallone is lending his voice to the Shark man. Stallone and Gunn seem to have a good working relationship as the Rocky star also appeared in Guardians of the Galaxy 2. Interestingly, Gunn went with more of an animated look than using practical effects for Killer Croc in the first Suicide Squad film directed by David Ayer. You would never know how complicated making this character was because Gunn gives these characters photorealism to look authentic and believable on-screen.

What do you think of King Shark’s new look? Let us know in the comments.


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Box office: 'Godzilla vs. Kong' becomes second pandemic-era release to cross $100M in North America @ Syfy Wire

After nearly three months in theaters, Adam Wingard's Godzilla vs. Kong has officially crossed a major domestic milestone of $100 million. The fourth entry in the MonsterVerse is only the second COVID-era release to accomplish this feat after A Quiet Place Part II, which hit $100 million in North America over a period of just three short weeks.

Granted, movie theaters were in a much better place when John Krasinski's horror sequel hit theaters in late May (i.e., more people had been vaccinated by that point). Godzilla vs. Kong easily hit the $100M-mark on the global stage back in April (the first COVID offering to do so) and its worldwide haul now stands at $442.5 million. Warner Bros. and Legendary were so pleased, that they've decided to bring Wingard back for another entry in the studios' expanding kaiju cinematic universe.

"Godzilla vs. Kong was one of the films that set the stage for the recovery of movie theaters," Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst for Comscore, tells SYFY WIRE. "Despite its availability on the small screen, the film was a huge draw for movie fans who understood the necessity of the big screen experience to do justice to these two bigger-than-life cinematic icons and the numbers prove the point."

The financial performance of both Godzilla vs. Kong and A Quiet Place Part II is proof that the theatrical marketplace is fast on the road to recovery following a year-and-a-half of sluggish business that put the kibosh on massive box office returns. Nature is healing and pre-pandemic numbers are on the rise again.

Credit: Warner Bros.

A Quiet Place Part II, which nabbed an additional $9.4 million this weekend, found itself knocked out of the top domestic spot once again by The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard (Part II briefly reclaimed box office dominance last week after losing the No. 1 slot to The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It two weeks ago). The sound-sensitive follow-up now has more than $125 million in the U.S. and $96 million internationally for a global cume of more than $220 million.

After three weeks in theaters, the third Conjuring movie (free to stream on HBO Max) has made a little over $53 million domestically. It's on the verge of breaking $90 million internationally, and boasts a scarily good $142.8 million worldwide. However, the film was knocked into fourth place by Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway, which hit $20 million in North America this weekend (thanks to $70 million in sale abroad, the family-friendly sequel could hit $100 million globally very soon).

Credit: Paramount Pictures & Warner Bros.

Two North American holdovers — Disney's Cruella (also available on Disney+ for an extra fee) and DreamWorks' Spirit Untamed — hit $64.7 million and $13.8 million, respectively.

Pixar's latest original offering, Luca, is streaming for free on Disney+ in North America, but made a commendable splash in 11 international markets with a total of $5 million. Directed by Oscar nominee Enrico Casarosa ("La Luna"), the film follows a pair of young sea monsters (Jacob Tremblay and Jack Dylan Grazer) exploring the world of humans during one unforgettable summer on the Italian Riveria.

"There's this color of the water — that's why I had to take the team there to show them. There's cobalt blue…It [also] goes quite steep. There's mountains and sea. It's wonderfully unique and specific," Casarosa told SYFY WIRE. "All the beaches, they have a lot of pebbles instead of sand, for example. The sounds are different. When we were down to choosing the wave sound, it was very hard to find the right one. It took us a while ... There's some echoes of The Little Mermaid, but I feel like specificity [and] bringing a true world and finding the real wonderful details are what separates it."

Credit: Pixar/Disney+

Lastly, we have the ninth chapter in Universal's Fast & Furious franchise. F9, which finally arrives at domestic sites this coming Friday (June 25), is fast — pun very much intended — approaching $300 million on an international scale. Helmed by Fast Saga alum Justin Lin, the movie opened in 13 new markets this weekend, taking the top spot in all of them, while also setting new pandemic records. Moreover, F9 is one of only eight titles to surpass $275 million between 2020 and 2021.


The Award for the WORST Anime Dub of All Time Goes to… @ io9

Promo image for Angel CopImage: Discotek Media

To me, Angel Cop is a classic among vintage Japanese anime. However, anime fans remain divided on it, with some calling it boring and others calling it a staple of 80s Japanese animation. One thing everyone agrees on about Angel Cop is the English dubbed version dialogue is bad. Like real bad. But it’s so damn funny, wtf.

Angel Cop is a six-part original animation created and directed by Ichirō Itano. A manga adaptation is written and illustrated by Taku Kitazaki. In addition, the collection was serialized in 1990. The story follows Angel (dubbed by Sharon Holm), a special forces officer in a futuristic world of terrorists and Hunters (individuals with telekinetic powers). Angel and her new partner Raiden (dubbed by John Hunter) are desperate to rid the streets of corruption and terrorism—but when Raiden is critically injured, Angel has to take on the Hunter, Lucifer (dubbed by Lorelei King), on her own.

I had a hard time finding the subbed version because the anime dub version is so popular. However, when I finally managed to get my hands on the original subbed version, I was shocked to discover a slightly different film as it had other goals and is less comedic. Didn’t read the manga, so not sure how the animation strayed from the original storyline.

After doing some research, I still can’t find out why it turned out this way. Unlike Noriyuki Abe’s anime series Ghost Story (Gakkô no Kaidan), where the English cast threw out the original script. What started as a drama/horror was transformed into a tongue-in-cheek comedy—but what’s the reason for Angel Cop?

The series is so tacky, and I want to dislike it, but how can you hate on an anime with a cursing compilation like this.

My favorite line is when Angel is shot at, and she yells: “F**K and Piss!” Because that’s totally something I would scream out when someone is trying to kill me.

Here is another video that provides a better sense of the story. A full three minutes and twenty-nine seconds of lousy acting, horrible dialogue, and many WTF moments.

If you know an English dub that isn’t Ghost Story, but is worse than this, PLEASE let me know. So far as I know, nothing tops this.


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Black Widow Could Be the First of Many Prequel Films According to Kevin Feige @ io9

Scarlett Johansson in Black WidowImage: Marvel Entertainment

Fans have been asking for a Black Widow movie since the first Avengers, but it never came. Now that Endgame has come and gone, we finally have a Black Widow solo film.

The future of phase four in the Marvel Cinematic Universe rests solely on Kevin Feige, and he made it clear at the Black Widow press conference attended by /Film that he’s looking to shake things up. He suggests more prequel films might be in future cinematic phases. He states, “Certainly, this film and this story is a particular case for Natasha. But the notion of exploring the past, present, and future of the MCU is certainly in the cards for all of our characters. This particular story of this particular cast is very personal, very specific to Natasha.”

Of course, Feige suggested that this kind of approach would only happen if the story is creatively compelling enough to justify a movie, but with Black Widow, his reasons for making this movie are clear. “We very specifically knew there was a large period of her life that we didn’t know about, not just her childhood, but this period of time between Civil War and Infinity War. And that period, we felt it was a right to creatively focus on being able to discover more about our past and more about our present. And… give a hint at the legacy in the future.”

Black Widow could technically be considered a phase three film since it takes place between the events of Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War. This solo story will explore her upbringing and how she was transformed into one of the world’s deadliest assassins.

What other characters do you think deserve a prequel/solo film? I think taking a deep dive into Valkyrie’s life and the war with Hela would be exciting.

Since the social media embargo lifted last week, critics have been singing its praises, and I am AMPED to finally see it!

Black Widow arrives in theaters and on Disney+ Premier Access starting on July 9, 2021


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Bureau’s Breakroom’s Television Table – Week beginning 2021 June 20 @ Bureau 42

Happy Father’s Day to all applicable Bureaucrats, as we start our television week with the return of Evil.  (Not the concept, the show.)  I am all of keeping some mystery is the episodes, but the complete lack of description makes it difficult for those of us compiling a television table.  You can be deceptively condensed, even a single sentence works, as Superman and Lois’s title is longer than its vague tease about Morgan Edge.  Father’s day must have everyone feeling nostalgic, as the Legends attempt to erase the season, Batwoman attempts to return to last season’s star, and The Flash returns to past villains.  Also, The Blacklist gives us another episode after I thought the season had wrapped.

 

[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 – S2E01 – N is for Night Terrors – [No Description Given]

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow – S06E07 – Back to the Finale Part II – With Ava a wreck, the Legends make a last-ditch effort to keep Sara from being abducted in the first place, even knowing that it will alter the timeline. Sara grapples with a discovery about herself and is shocked when Rory finds her on the mystery planet. Meanwhile, Spooner envisions what her life would be like if she hadn’t joined the Legends.

Batwoman – S02E17 – Kane, Kate – Batwoman struggles as Black Mask continues to raise the stakes with Circe as his henchwoman. Alice and Safiyah cross paths once again.

The Flash – S07E14 – Rayo de Luz – When Ultraviolet returns to Central City, Allegra is determined to find her cousin and change her heart, Meanwhile, Joe finds evidence that Kristen Kramer may not be the good cop she appears to be.

Superman & Lois – S01E11 – A Brief Reminiscence In-Between Cataclysmic Events  – Clark makes a startling discovery about Morgan Edge.

Loki – S01E03 – Episode 3 – [No Description Given]

The Blacklist – S08E22 – Konets – [Season finale, still?] Reddington makes a disturbing request to Liz in exchange for the truth about his identity.

The Bad Batch – S01E09 – Episode 9 – [No Description Given]

My Hero Academia – S05E14 – Off to Endeavor’s Agency! – [No Description Given]

If there is a show you watch you feel should be on the list, please let me know, we are happy to expand the table to include new shows!

Weekly New Releases – June 22, 2021 @ Bureau 42

Adam Resurrected
Amazon
Balthazar
Amazon
Batman: The Long Halloween Part One
Amazon
Career Opportunities
Amazon
CB4 (Special Edition)
Amazon
Chain Lightning
Amazon
Death in Texas
Amazon
Demon Slayer – Kimetsu no Yaiba – The Movie: Mugen Train
Amazon
Diana at Sixty
Amazon
Eurocrypt of Christopher Lee Collection
Amazon
Comments Includes Crypt of the Vampire, Castle of the Living Dead, Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace, The Torture Chamber of Dr. Sadism and Challenge the Devil, plus 24 episodes of Theatre Macabre.
For Those Who Think Young
Amazon
Georgetown
Amazon
Half Baked
Amazon
Halifax: Retribution
Amazon
Human Nature
Amazon
Human: The World Within
Amazon
Hunter Hunter
Amazon
Irezumi (Arrow)
Amazon
It Happened at the World’s Fair
Amazon
Nature: The Leopard Legacy
Amazon
Night of the Sicario
Amazon
No Guns Life
Amazon
Comments The second season of the very good cyberpunk hardboiled detective anime.
Nobody
Amazon
Nobody
Amazon
Paper Tigers
Amazon
Secret World of Arrietty
Amazon
Siberia
Amazon
Signifyin’ Works of Marlon Riggs (Criterion Collection)
Amazon
Comments Includes Ethnic Notions, Tongues United, Affirmations, Anthem, Colour Adjustment, Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien, and Black Is… Black Ain’t.
Smile Down the Runway
Amazon
Comments Anime adaptation of a manga from Shonen Jump (home to Naruto and My Hero Academia) about fashion design.
Star Trek: Discovery
Amazon
Strangeness
Amazon
The Wind Rises
Amazon
Umbrella Academy
Amazon
Unholy
Amazon
Visions of Eight (Criterion Collection)
Amazon
Years of Led: Five Classic Italian Crime Thrillers 1973-1977 (Arrow)
Amazon
Comments Includes Savage Three, Like Rabid Dogs, 38 Special Squad, Highway Racer, and No, the Case is Happily Resolved.

Finally, the picks of the week. Alex says, “No Guns Life is probably one of the best cyberpunk works of animation over the past few years (probably only topped by Akudama Drive, which hasn’t gotten a physical release yet) and I strongly recommend picking this show up (though you’ll want to get season 1 first).” Blaine says, “the Star Trek: Discovery two season pack is worth it just for the sake of season 2 with Pike’s Enterprise.”

Drop Dead (X Minus One #99) @ Bureau 42

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Boba Fett Solo Series Has Wrapped Filming and Debuts in December 2021 @ io9

Temuera Morrison in The MandalorianImage: Disney+

Temuera Morrison (Aquaman) is cast in the role of Boba Fett and had a recurring role on Disney+ show The Mandalorian. Since then, the first season of Mandalorian spin-off, The Book of Boba Fett has wrapped production.

Gamesradar shared that when Morrison spoke with SFX Magazine, he couldn’t reveal many details about the plot, but he did discuss what it was like filming a show of this scale during Covid. “You walk on set, and you hear, ‘Shields down! Shields down!’ So we have to air those studios out every 20 minutes. It’s called a purge, so you know you’ve got a toilet break then. There’s a lot to shoot in one day, but with health and safety and the requirements, it filters out a lot of the bullshit, put it that way.”

The first hint of a Boba Fett series came during The Mandalorian second season, in which Fett was a large part of the narrative arc. The Book of Boba Fett will debut on Disney+ in December 2021, right before The Mandalorian season three premiere.

The full interview is in the current issue of SFX magazine, which requires a paid subscription.

Are you excited about the show?! I know I am.


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Watchmen Almost Cast a Different Actress as Laurie Blake aka Silk Spectre @ io9

Jean Smart in WatchmenImage: HBO Max

Jean Smart is an acting pioneer with a career spanning over 40 years. She’s an experienced dramatic and comedy actress but seldom explored the sci-fi and superhero genres.

However, in 2017, she landed a recurring role on the FX show Legion, which lasted three seasons. As soon as Legion ended, she was cast in Damon Lindelof’s HBO Max series Watchmen as Laurie Blake, aka Silk Spectre.

During the Variety actors-on-actors segment with SNL comedian Bowen Yang Smart reveals that she was a last-minute replacement for Sigourney Weaver, who was initially approached for the role but turned it down. “I was sort of shot from guns because they hired me two days before I started,” Smart told Yang. “I’ll be really honest: I had Sigourney Weaver to thank for turning down the role. So, thank you, Sigourney.”

Smart also had no idea what she was getting into as she hadn’t heard about the Watchmen graphic novel from writer Alan Moore and artist Dave Gibbons. “I knew nothing about the graphic novel,” she said. “I knew nothing about the story at all. I started reading the pilot, and I said, ‘Oh, my God, this is amazing.’ I’d never really done that science-fiction genre.”

It’s no shade to Sigourney Weaver (who I crowned the Queen of sci-fi), but can you imagine Watchmen without Jean Smart and her cheeky performance as a former superhero turned FBI agent? The Emmys recognized her powerful performance with an Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie nomination.

I highly recommend watching the whole interview to find out her thought on shooting Watchmen and why being a part of the series was a learning experience for her.

Watchmen is currently available on HBO and HBO Max.


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James Cameron Explores His Cinematic Creative Process With MasterClass @ io9

James CameronImage: MasterClass

Legendary director James Cameron has hopped on board the MasterClass train and is finally teaching his principles and techniques for directorial success.

/Film states that in his MasterClass, Cameron breaks down his most successful films (Aliens, The Terminator, Titanic, and Avatar) by exploring his creative process. He teaches subscribers to create engaging characters and stories, story-world building, and why utilizing advanced technology can enhance any film. The class also offers production advice no matter how big or small the budget.

Cameron is a confident director who assures students that they will walk away with expansive knowledge about various filmmaking processes. “I’ve been directing films for almost four decades, and if there’s one thing I’ve realized, it’s that learning is a constant process,” Cameron said. “Every filmmaker stands on the shoulders of the filmmakers who came before them, and I hope that my MasterClass will allow members to filter and develop my techniques through their own subjective lens and experiences.”

David Rogier, the founder of MasterClass, is excited to have one of the most talented directors exposing his filmmaking process to a general audience. “Having directed two of the top three highest-grossing films of all time, there’s no question the impact that Jim has had on both the film industry and film fans around the world.” He adds, “In his class, Jim takes our members behind the camera and, for the first time in his career, shares what he’s learned in four decades of directing epic films.”

The MasterClass platform launched in 2015 and features video lessons from professionals across all creative mediums. Cameron joins the likes of other acclaimed directors who have MasterClass sessions like Martin Scorsese, David Lynch, and Werner Herzog.

Have you used MasterClass before? Do you think it’s a good investment? Want to hear the thoughts of people who’ve used their services before!


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Disney+ Original Kizazi Moto: Generation Fire Series Will Debut in 2022 @ io9

Stills from Generation FireImage: Disney

Creators from the African continent will put their artistic vision on display in the new ten-part film series Kizazi Moto: Generation Fire.

Set to premiere on Disney+ in 2022, this animated anthology is inspired by the diverse history and culture of the continent., which will weave science fiction and fantasy elements into each story.

According to Disney, Peter Ramsey (Spider-Man: Into The Spiderverse) will act as executive producer with Tendayi Nyeke and Anthony Silverston as supervising producers. Triggerfish studios, which curated the process for finding the selected stories, are lead animators on the project but will collaborate with various animation studios worldwide. Fifteen projects were chosen out of 70 and received A-list mentorship from Ramsey, Triggerfish, and Disney.

When asked about the project, Ramsey sees this as an opportunity to foster new talent. “I’m really pleased to be part of a ground-breaking, fresh and exciting project that’s aimed at exposing the world to a whole new wave of creativity and invention from a place that is just ready to explode onto the world animation scene,” he says.

He adds, “The films in the anthology kind of run the gamut when it comes to science fiction. There are stories that touch on other worlds, time travel, and alien beings, but all of these genre conventions are seen through an African lens that makes them totally new. I can’t wait for people to have their minds blown and say ‘I want more!’”

The final ten films are from Ahmed Teilab (Egypt), Simangaliso ‘Panda’ Sibaya and Malcolm Wope (South Africa), Terence Maluleke and Isaac Mogajane (South Africa), Ng’endo Mukii (Kenya), Shofela Coker (Nigeria), Nthato Mokgata and Terence Neale (South Africa), Pious Nyenyewa and Tafadzwa Hove (Zimbabwe), Tshepo Moche (South Africa), Raymond Malinga (Uganda) and Lesego Vorster (South Africa).

Each film will be roughly ten minutes long and together will comprise a feature-length anthology of original animation that will be released as a Disney+ original.


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Old alliances are severed and new ones formed in the penultimate chapter of the Van Helsing saga, 'The Voices' @ Syfy Wire

We’re drawing near to the close of the Van Helsing epic, and tensions are reaching a fever pitch. As our heroes close in on the Dark One’s ambit, they are forced to set aside old rivalries and grudges and cozy up with strange bedfellows. 

At the same time, Dracula (Tricia Helfer) is losing her grip on the allies she’d come to depend on and is gearing up for a showdown of one-against-all. Does she have what it takes to take on the Van Helsings solo? 

**SPOILER WARNING! Spoilers ahead for Van Helsing Season 5, Episode 12, "The Voices."**

The last time we were in the Oval Office (saying that won’t get old), Vanessa (Kelly Overton) had bitten Dracula in the hopes of turning her. Well, it didn’t turn her, per se; but it did weaken Dracula’s defenses enough so that Olivia, still somehow living trapped inside the Dark One’s body, is able to plead for Vanessa’s help. Vanessa doesn’t stick around to perform an exorcism, and instead plunges a letter opener into Dracula’s chest and takes off.

Meanwhile, at resistance HQ, Bathory (Jesse Stanley) is having a panic attack and the sedative Sergeant Wethers gave her is only mildly helping. If she’s going to be of any help to them, she’s going to need to get a grip first. So it’s good timing when Vanessa drops in to provide her expertise in soothing troubled minds. 

Download SYFY's free app to see full episodes of Season 5 and tons of extras.

 

Back at the Oval Office, Dracula is in full-on freakout mode, and she’s stooped to drinking her own blood — which, as we know, should only be done in emergencies. The trick seems to work, as she summons the strength to tap into Bathory’s head and cause her to slit her own wrists.

Axel (Jonathan Scarfe), for his part, has teamed up with General Lannister to rescue the Vice President, on whom Dracula had sicced her vampire security detail. He whisks the Veep back to HQ, but, out of an abundance of caution, binds and gags him to an office chair. The second-in-command is still skeptical that the resistance really isn’t just a gang of vampires masquerading as humans. So Violet (Keeya King) bites the Veep, and when he doesn’t turn, he’s convinced. He’s now their man on the inside.

Vanessa is hard at work trying to free Bathory of her turmoil, but actually absorbing the lion’s share of the darkness she’s been carrying around. The process takes its toll on Vanessa, but seems to have been effective, as Bathory wakes up, no longer blind, and no longer in a state of psychosis.

Alone with the recovering Bathory, Jack (Nicole Muñoz) reiterates the plan: Reading from the ancient scrolls, Bathory will enunciate the spells, rendering Dracula immobile so Jack can bite her and trap her in the amulet. Before they depart, Bathory wants to tell Jack one more thing; but when Jack comes in closer, Bathory stabs her and takes off.  

The others find Jack, remove the knife, and go searching for the double-crossing (or is it triple-crossing? quadruple?) Bathory. They find her poisoned on the parapet of the roof, amulet in hand and ready to take it with her on her long walk off a short ledge.  

Our heroes recognize they’re in a bit of a pickle. They need the amulet, but they also need Bathory alive to read the scrolls. Things get dire when Dracula manages to possess Bathory, open the amulet, and let the balance of the Dark One’s darkness escape. All that hard work for naught…

Seeing what she’s done, and knowing she’ll never be free of Dracula’s grip, Bathory takes a swan dive off the ledge. Looks like a Plan B is in order. Because that darkness that flew off? It went straight to its source, returning Dracula to her full and former power.

The Van Helsing series finale airs next Friday, June 25 at 10 p.m. ET on SYFY.

Did knowing Natasha’s fate affect how Scarlett Johansson played her in Black Widow? @ Syfy Wire

Marvel fans have largely accepted Natasha Romanoff’s ultimate onscreen fate. In Avengers: Endgame, the Red Room-trained assassin sacrifices her life so the team can get the Soul Stone. That's one way to clear red from a ledger! Scarlett Johansson, the actor behind Natasha, may have taken that tumble down the Vormir cliff, but she’s not quite done with the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Black Widow is almost here at long last, and finally fans can see a movie where Natasha is front and center. Not only that, a missing piece of her history will be revealed: What was she up to when she was on the run between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War? Audiences will find out. But given the prequel nature of the new movie, and the fact that Natasha’s demise was known by the filmmakers while making it, did knowledge of her eventual fate affect the way she was played here? 

Johansson answered the question during a recent press conference for Black Widow, and SYFY WIRE was there to catch her answer. 

Marvel Entertainment on YouTube

When asked if knowing about Natasha’s demise played on Johansson's psyche and affected the way she played her in the solo film, the actor stated very clearly: “Yes, it did.”

“It was important… because for us, we started talking about this film as more of a serious possibility when we were doing, I think Infinity War,” she continued.  “We shot Infinity War and then Endgame kind of back to back, and so we already knew what the 'endgame' was for Natasha.” 

Building up to Natasha’s big choice on Vormir was foremost in everyone’s mind, it turns out. “We wanted to make sure that was a choice she made actively, that it felt like she had resolve then…” Johnasson said, adding, “…and so knowing that, we then had to kind of work backwards so she could get to a place where that was possible. And we knew that in this film, she had to evolve into a place where she was moving forward in her life and had resolved the trauma from her past… that she felt like a different person moving forward.” 

Possibly feeling her answer going a little bit timey-wimey, Johnasson did her best to sum it all up: “If that makes any sense? It was a very weird way of working… I guess that is always the case with a prequel, I’d never done anything like that before.” 

That caused actor David Harbour, who plays Red Guardian in the film and was also attending the press conference, to mime his head exploding.

Johansson continued: “It was interesting to be working on something presently that also played into what you would be doing in the future that was reflective of the past. It was crazy.”

Audiences will be able to see just how crazy it is when Black Widow opens in theaters (and on Disney+ Premiere Access) on July 9.  


F9: Charlize Theron, Helen Mirren, Jordana Brewster, and more explain why Fast & Furious women 'raise the bar' @ Syfy Wire

As the Fast Saga has expanded from a movie about drag racing in the streets of Los Angeles to a globetrotting series of near-superheroic proportions, the characters have grown with it. Specifically, with the number of women taking control on the big screen.

“Our franchise has always done a pretty good job of representing strong, independent women,” Jordana Brewster, who’s played one of the series’ core characters, Mia Torretto, since 2001’s The Fast and the Furious, told SYFY at a recent press event for F9, premiering June 25. “I feel like Letty [Michelle Rodriguez] and Mia were both strong-headed, independent women who had lives independent of their brother or boyfriends.” 

Over the past 20 years, Brewster and Rodriguez have been joined by a who’s who of strong Hollywood women, including Charlize Theron, Helen Mirren, Gal Gadot, Nathalie Emmanuel, Ronda Rousey, and Eva Mendes. Though Brewster admits Mia “took a little bit of a turn toward domesticity toward the middle” of the franchise due to other projects Brewster was working on outside the Fast Saga, Mia’s back in F9 with a vengeance, tearing up the streets and pulling logic-defying stunts once again.

Joining Brewster this time around is Anna Sawai as Elle, a new character whose story becomes intertwined with that of the Torretto “family.” Brewster praises Sawai as being the latest woman to join the ranks and go “head to head against the guys.” 

“It really sheds light on the female voice in action movies,” Rodriguez shared with SYFY when we got a chance to go behind the scenes with F9’s cast and creators. (Watch the above video to hear more about what F9’s female cast members had to say.)

“Fast females take ownership of it,” Theron, who plays high-tech terrorist and franchise villain Cipher, added. “They raise the bar.”

Between Cipher and Emmanuel’s Ramsey, the Fast Saga is no stranger to tech-genius women taking ownership of a situation.

“I love Ramsey because she is so brilliant,” Emmanuel told SYFY at the press event. “She’s a genius [and] she knows it; she’s confident, but she can also be silly and fun and laugh at herself. She’s really proved herself as a valuable member of this team, just purely on her own abilities. I’ve always been attracted to playing women who are really brilliant at something. It’s something that when I look at my life and the women in my life, I realize that’s reflected in my life as well. I’m drawn to people, especially women, who I’m inspired by.”

With all these strong female characters taking charge, there’s been plenty of talk about hopes for a women-centric spin-off film to give these well-loved characters the Hobbs & Shaw treatment. When we brought the possibility up with Brewster, she was all ears: “We have so many strong, amazing women in this universe that we could probably kick some ass and it’d be really fun.”

Most of all, Brewster's excited to have Mia front and center again. Mia and the other women, she says, have benefited from the franchise’s evolution to include more women kicking ass and taking names. It’s an evolution, Brewster says, that “hasn’t been contrived... I think for a lot of films, oftentimes I can tell when a role has been written for a dude but then they just give it to the girl because they’re like, ‘Well, this is gonna do better. For optics, this is gonna be a better look for us.’ And it’s really obvious and irritating. But I think with our franchise we’ve always done a really good job.

“With the exception of the booty dancing scenes around the cars,” she adds, laughing. “Which we’ve pared down, thank God.”

F9 premieres only in theaters on June 25.

SYFY and Universal Pictures are properties of NBCUniversal, a subsidiary of Comcast Corporation.

Van Helsing finally shows us what life is like behind the wall. For starters: The resistance is real @ Syfy Wire

Things are heating up in Van Helsingland as our heroes converge on the United States capital, where the seat of power of the free world is being wrongfully occupied by none other than that baddest of baddies: Dracula (Tricia Helfer).

Though she may be a devil in disguise, President Dark One has not been idle: She has turned D.C. into a desolate wasteland, where her whim is the law. However, in so doing, she has also given rise to a mounting resistance, and it just may be the added firepower our heroes need to thwart her. 

That is, if they can learn to trust each other long enough to wage a united assault.  

**SPOILER WARNING! Spoilers ahead for Van Helsing Season 5, Episode 11, "Undercover Mother."**

In the Oval Office, Dracula has convened a summit of the leaders of the various vampire broods, and executed them all post haste — for mutiny, pusillanimity, and just because she’s kinda ticked off they didn’t try to liberate her from the Dark Realm. 

But there’s one vampire who shows up late to the party, and for that, she’s spared: It’s Vanessa (Kelly Overton), disguised as Nina (Ali Liebert). She says she just killed the last of the Van Helsings for Dracula, and she’s got the blood to prove it.

Meanwhile, Ivory (Jennifer Cheon Garcia) and Jack (Nicole Muñoz) have been spirited through the coyote tunnels by one of President Davis’ biker-guards sent by Axel (Jonathan Scarfe), and end up on the other side of the wall. As promised, Jack finds a note in the sundial in Meridian Park, only it’s not from Axel… it’s from Vanessa. Mom’s back. 

Just then, one of the militants opposing Dracula’s dictatorship recognizes Ivory and Jack and invites them to meet the rest of the resistance. Surreptitiously, he takes them to a warehouse near the wall, where they meet the leader of the resistance: Sergeant Wethers, the ex-Army operative who had been presiding over the imprisoned Violet (Keeya King) and Ivory. She’s playing for the other team now.

Download SYFY's free app to see full episodes of Season 5 and tons of extras.

 

When the militant who recruited Jack and Ivory learns of Jack’s name, he regales her with the prophecy, passed down from generation to generation by his people, the Roma. According to the prophecy, there are two Jack Van Helsings: the one being Jack, the other Olivia’s baby, renamed Jack. It’s the latter Jack who becomes the “first” Van Helsing, and it’s he who is the primogenitor of the line of vampire hunters, of which Jack and Violet are the most recent scions.

If she plans on not being the last of the lineage, Jack’s going to have to find Bathory (Jesse Stanley), and fast. Vanessa, who learns of Jack’s presence in D.C. from Bathory and Dracula, leaves the White House to find Jack, and hatches a plan with her: She’ll lead Bathory to her, so she can bite her, turn her, and use her to take down Dracula. 

However, the plan soon goes awry. When Vanessa baits Dracula with Jack’s whereabouts, the Dark One sends Bathory instead of Vanessa to the warehouse, detaining Vanessa in the Oval Office with her. Vanessa wanted to be there to give Jack a hand; it looks like that possibility is out of the picture.

At the warehouse, the resistance is gearing up for a full-on battle — but not an ambush. Bathory and a battalion of Black Ops get the jump on them, and hell breaks loose. Ivory is the first one out, as Bathory drives a knife into her stomach. Jack arrives in time to see the carnage being wrought, and, surprisingly, offers herself up for surrender.  

Back at the Oval Office, Vanessa is able to feel Jack’s fear, and sense her danger. So, with her newfound powers, she manages to telekinetically hijack the Black Ops agents at the warehouse and turn them against Bathory. Bathory defends herself against their fusillades, but at a great cost; once weakened, she falls easily to a recovered Ivory’s sword, making her vulnerable to Jack’s bite. 

That’s when Bathory the bride of Dracula turns back to Bathory the vampire slayer we met at the beginning of this season. Only now she’s blind, confused, scared, and speaking only in Roma. Quite the culture shock. 

Dracula senses immediately Bathory has fallen and turns to who she thinks is Nina to exact retribution. Now, with little reason to go on hiding, Vanessa dispenses with the ruse and bites Dracula.

But will it take?

 

Episode 12 of Van Helsing airs later tonight on SYFY. The series finale is slated to air next Friday, June 25 at 10 p.m. ET.

A presidency without precedent: Van Helsing's 'E Pluribus Unum' wrestles with post-rising politics @ Syfy Wire

In a world gone mad, do ideas and ideals like honor, loyalty, and civic duty even apply anymore? When daywalkers and dark magic rule the day, what are we to make of constitutional laws and political norms? 

Stranger still, if the president is a vampire… can you strip her of her power? Can you do what needs to be done, even if what needs to be done is tantamount to sedition? 

Violet (Keeya King) and Axel (Jonathan Scarfe) find themselves having to grapple with these very questions in the latest episode of Van Helsing, after an unexpected run-in with a VIP from America’s future past. The answers just might determine the fate of the country.

**SPOILER WARNING! Spoilers ahead for Van Helsing Season 5, Episode 10, "E Pluribus Unum."  

While en route to D.C., Axel and Violet have made a pit stop at a remote outpost looking for documentation that can give them entrée through the wall. Axel steps away from the truck for a hot second, and Violet gets approached by a suspicious character who offers the known fugitive a trade: He won’t blab about her whereabouts, and together they can help each other get to the capital. 

Before Violet can learn more, some mean-looking bikers swarm the young man, throw him in their van, and take off. Violet is determined to find the stranger, and when Axel gets back, the two bribe a local merchant for some information: The kid’s name is Aaron, and he’s being held captive in a heavily guarded fortress outside town.

But heavily guarded fortresses have never deterred them in the past, and Violet and Axel make quick work of breaching the defenses and making contact with Aaron. You’d never guess from his humble, earnest, and almost geeky appearance that he’s actually the son of Davis Park, the 45th President of the United States, and currently a vampire that Aaron is keeping locked in a cell.

We’ve got questions, Axel and Violet have questions, and Aaron’s got answers. Apparently, when Dracula took over the body of the dead President Archer (Jill Teed), she also had the former President Park ambushed, bitten, turned, and stripped of any of his remaining security clearances.

Download SYFY's free app to see full episodes of Season 5 and tons of extras.

 

Aaron’s been building a high-powered communication device with the hopes of making contact with his mom and sister, who were separated from him and his father on the day of the coup. Aaron’s willing to let Axel and Violet use it to make a call, too, if Violet helps turn Park human again. It’s a deal.

That’s when the mean-looking bikers, charged with protecting what’s left of the President and first family, burst in, guns drawn. Bullets fly as Violet makes a mad dash for Parker, bites his arm, and delivers him from evil.

Things cool down considerably after that, giving everyone time to get to know each other. Hopper, the head biker who found Aaron and Davis after their convoy was ambushed, confides in Axel that he voted for Davis’ opponent in the previous election — couldn’t stand the guy. However, when hell broke loose, Hopper chose to set aside his partisan beliefs out of principle and do what needed to be done. After all, whether left or right, this guy was still the president.

As the only non-vampire president around, Park still has a duty to the nation. At least that’s what Aaron, Axel, Violet, and the rest are trying to get him to understand. But he’s reluctant to make a comeback: After all, he was legally stripped of his presidential powers, so wouldn’t his meddling in politics at this juncture constitute a coup of its own, setting off a kind of civil war?

Aaron’s adamant. So adamant he whips out their ace in the hole: the nuclear football. They’ve been lugging that thing around with them, waiting for the day when a non-feral Park could open it again. With the living Park, the nuclear football, and his new comms device, Aaron is sure they’ll be able to make contact with the Pentagon and reconnect with his mother and sister.

Van Helsing Season 5, Episode 10: "E Pluribus Unum." Credit: SYFY

That’s when Park drops some heavy news on Aaron: mom and sister? They’re dead, casualties of the Rising. A search party would be futile. The ever-hopeful Aaron can’t accept this, and together with Violet makes off in the truck to the last-known coordinates of his family’s convoy. Halfway there, they get attacked by daywalkers and barely escape.

Meanwhile, Axel, Hopper, and President Park are hot on their trail when they’re also attacked by some of the same daywalkers. Hopper ultimately sacrifices himself for the president and takes a spear to the back before Axel can dispatch the vampire.  

The two parties converge at the coordinates, and Aaron finds out for himself that his father was telling the truth: There were no survivors from his mother’s convoy. Then, when he learns of Hopper’s death, Aaron is pushed over the edge. Moved by his son’s pain, Park makes the decision to reclaim the country from President Archer. He took an oath to serve and protect the Union, and that’s an oath one is bound to for life. 

Unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures, and President Park phones up the Pentagon. He’s coming home. 

Episodes 11 and 12 of Van Helsing are airing later tonight on SYFY. The series finale is slated to air next Friday, June 25 at 10 p.m. ET.

How far is 'too far' when it comes to storylines for comic book characters? @ Syfy Wire

I suppose we should just get this bit of business out of the way, given that the discussion over a discarded scene in the Harley Quinn animated series involving Batman performing a certain type of “personal attention” on Catwoman has dominated #comicstwitter the past week...

OF COURSE HE WOULD.

Folks, the two loves of Batman’s life, Talia al Ghul and Selina Kyle, are not the type of women who would stand for a lover who didn’t go the, ahem…extra mile for them. If you read Tom King’s Batman run, you saw just how much Bruce Wayne was willing to do and how far he was willing to go for a chance at happiness with Selina. Plus, when has the Dark Knight ever done anything half-assed? No, that’s not even up for debate.

That silliness aside, what can be debated is whether risqué moments like that are needed for characters like Batman, Wonder Woman, Spider-Man, or any other globally-recognized billion-dollar comic book IP. Is it worth the trouble to push the envelope in that way? Does delving deep into the sexual habits and interests of a superhero add any value to their mythos?

Of course, you need to tell compelling new stories, discover new angles that show these heroes in a different light. Remember, DC’s most popular heroes are at least 80 years old. Marvel’s top dogs are pushing 60. That’s a lot of tread on those tires. Keeping them fresh and relevant requires fresh eyes that bring bolder ideas to the table.

That’s what Frank Miller did with Daredevil when he took over the book in 1979 and in 1986 with The Dark Knight Returns. It’s what Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons did with Watchmen, and what Christopher Priest did with his Marvel Knights Black Panther run. They saw the boundaries and blew past them. But comics, especially mainstream superhero comics, have always been a bit prude about sex. It’s only gotten worse since superhero films and television shows became such a vital part of Hollywood and the merchandising value of these characters increased.

Cover art by Bryan Hitch (Credit: Marvel Comics)

Remember in Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch’s Ultimates when Hank Pym used his shrinking powers during a lovemaking session with Janet Pym? The only reason that scene exists is because Marvel was still relatively fresh out of bankruptcy and desperate for buzz. It also was not yet owned by Disney, so it could afford to allow Millar and Hitch to do something that was way out of bounds because it didn’t have to worry about corporate guardrails beyond getting Joe Quesada and Bill Jemas to say, “Go for it.” One can argue about whether it was a worthwhile moment that added anything to either character’s legacy, but it did generate attention.

That lack of corporate oversight also may have played a part in allowing another groundbreaking Marvel Comics story to see print. The 1987 “Kraven’s Last Hunt” storyline that ran across all three monthly Spider-Man books is a landmark tale created by writer J.M. DeMatteis, artist Mike Zeck, and inker Bob McLeod. The story features a number of dark, unsettling moments uncommon for most Marvel books of the era, not the least of which is the suicide of Kraven the Hunter. During a recent interview SYFY WIRE conducted with DeMatteis (more to come in an upcoming Behind the Panel column), I asked him if he had trouble getting the story approved by Marvel editorial. He told me it was, in his words, “pretty effortless.”

Cover by Mike Zeck (Credit: Marvel Comics)

“Tom DeFalco, who was managing editor at the time, and Jim Owsley (later known as Christopher Priest), who was the Spidey editor, took me out to lunch and asked me to write Spectacular Spider-Man, with my Captain America cohort Mike Zeck on the art. How could I say no?”

DeMatteis went on, describing how after he put together the beats of the story that would become one of the most famous and disturbing in the Spider-Man canon, it got the green light instantly.

“When I pitched Owsley the Kraven story — which I’d been developing, in various forms, for a few years — there was no pushback at all, just enthusiasm, and what I wrote is pretty much what you see on the page. I don’t know if there was even a changed comma. And no, there were no objections to the suicide,” DeMatteis said.

I remember reading “Kraven’s Last Hunt” as a teenager and being stunned by its darkness, and by the heaviness of its subject matter. I was surprised to hear DeMatteis received no initial pushback, but then again, while suicide is a mature, complicated subject… it’s not sex. And sex always scares the hell out of the people who make the decisions at the major comics publishers.

That’s why the subplot about Batman performing oral sex on Catwoman appearing in an animated series produced by Warner Bros. (even one airing on HBO Max) had as much chance as happening as a rainbow appearing over Gotham City. But creators must follow their ideas through and see where they go. But when you’re dealing with valuable IP owned by massive corporations, how do you navigate those obstacles?

“The process is simple, first ask yourself creatively what you are trying to do or say about the character,” Lee Bermejo, the superstar artist who knows a thing or two about controversial Batman stories, told SYFY WIRE. Bermejo and writer Brian Azzarello created the best-selling Batman: Damned graphic novel that launched DC’s Black Label, an imprint literally designed for more mature takes on the company’s legendary heroes. They wound up at the center of a hailstorm of media coverage due to an image that showed Bruce Wayne in his birthday suit.

Bermejo insisted he and Azzarello weren’t just trying to stir up trouble. “Ours wasn't a desire to be edgy for edginess' sake, but we tend to try and walk the path untrodden because, with a character like Batman who has 80 years of stories, there is a lot of ground already covered,” he said. “In our case, we wanted to take Batman into territory where his flawed humanity revealed a more vulnerable and human Batman in a world where Batman is always armored, 10 steps ahead, and an unstoppable force of will. Our question was how to make readers see Batman 'naked' in a way never before. Big difference between being naked and being nude.

“Our editors knew what we were doing and the initial marching orders were to make a Batman comic that could be an HBO show in terms of its content,” Bermejo continued. “They were on board with this idea and supported us fully. The problems came into play when a change of management due to a corporate merger turned DC comics into a company run by fear. The brand became more important than the storytelling. TPTB [the powers that be] at the time made the decision to censor NOT because of any outrage (there really wasn't any, just a few jokes on late-night tv) but because they thought they might lose their jobs.”  

Cover by Amanda Conner and Alex Sinclair. Credit: DC Comics.

The fallout from Batman: Damned may have indirectly impacted another Black Label book, last year’s Harley Quinn and the Birds of Prey mini-series. That series reunited Harley with the husband-and-wife creative duo most responsible for turning her into “the Fourth Pillar of the DCU,” Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti. According to Palmiotti, they returned to the character because they were assured they could take the story in more mature directions than they had during their best-selling 2013-2018 run.

“We were lured back with the promise the Black Label series could be uncensored, which really appealed to us,” he told SYFY WIRE. “What we were promised was not what happened and we did the best we could, but we knew it was time to once again move on. We were happy to see that we inspired a lot of the insanity of the animated series and were jealous they could get away with a ton more than what we did.”

There is a perception that when a comic book is selling like gangbusters, the creative team gets carte blanche to do whatever it wants, as long as the cash registers keep ringing. That certainly seems reasonable, but it is completely false. More success brings more scrutiny, as Palmiotti experienced during the five years he and Conner turned Harley into a superstar who, for a brief moment, even outsold Batman.

“When we first started writing Harley, no one at DC was really looking closely at what Amanda and I were doing, which gave us a lot of room to go crazy, and we did,” said Palmiotti, who along with his wife are spending the bulk of their creative time on creator-owned projects for their company PaperFilms. “We would pitch an idea for the issue, get an okay, and write it, but editorial did not get full script till it was ready to go to print — which let us get away with a lot at the time. Once the book started selling and licensing on the character went through the roof, the restrictions and watch got understandably heavier. We always had to remember that our series was all ages, not a mature audience book. So [eventually] we felt it was time to move on, which was fine. We had a great run and we felt we made our mark.”

Bermejo echoed the fact that racking up big sales doesn’t immunize creators from editorial interference. He is one of those rare artists who can sell books on name value alone. Fans love his hyper-realistic art style, in which a hero wears military footwear instead of buccaneer boots. Bermejo’s costumes have creases, and sometimes those suits reveal certain aspects of a man’s anatomy. That kind of attention to detail is still very much a problem at mainstream comics publishers.

“I have had multiple covers changed to eliminate the crotch bulge in a character's costume, most recently in Superman: Red and Blue,” he said. “Basically, cleavage is no problem but the moment you realistically draw a man in his underwear, they want you to make him look like a Ken doll. This is the modern equivalent of the removal of male genitalia from statues. It says more about their fear of realism than it does anything about sexuality. Or at least, I'd like to think of it that way. Otherwise, it paints a bleak picture of an industry on the wrong side of history.”

Palmiotti recalled being warned ahead of time about lines not to cross with Harley, which is hilarious on its own since the character’s basic premise is about ignoring boundaries. “We had storylines that we were told in advance to not go there and because we do not own these characters and work within perimeters put on us, we didn’t,” he said. “But again, we would always push as hard as possible. Any comic reader should understand that the best work they will get from their creators are when they are taken off the leash.”

DeMatteis noted that all creators doing work-for-hire for Marvel and DC need to go in with reasonable expectations about what they want to accomplish, because there will always be limits to what you can do with Superman, or the Hulk, or Wonder Woman, whether it has to do with sex or not. “These are characters that have been around for 60 years, 80 years, and will be here long after we’re all gone,” he said. “The editors are the custodians of the characters and, let’s face it, you can’t have a stream of writers coming along and upending the fundamental elements that made those characters a success.

“But fundamentals aren’t formula," he continued. "There’s still lots of room to play, to bring a personal stamp to these characters. The trick, I think, is to stay true to the essence of the characters and yet bring your own unique vision to the table, widening and deepening them within their established structures. I can write a story with Spider-Man or Batman or whoever and make it deeply personal — as personal in some ways as any creator-owned project — while still respecting the elements that made that character successful.”


What’s your take on this whole Batman thing? Does he, or doesn’t he? Find me on Twitter/Instagram and let me know.

Don't forget that Behind the Panel is a multi-platform series. Our video series is loaded with my in-depth interviews with some of the best comic book creators in the business. The Behind the Panel podcast is an audio documentary series that provides unique insight into your favorite creators and stories. Check 'em out, we think you'll enjoy them.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily reflect those of SYFY WIRE, SYFY, or NBCUniversal.

10 Pure and Beautiful On-Screen Platonic Male Friendships to Watch with the Boys @ io9

Sam and Bucky going for a platonic tumble.Gif: Disney+/Marvel

Though The Falcon and the Winter Soldier has come and gone, the show is back in the news again following yet another perplexing interview. This time actor Anthony Mackie, who shared some thoughts about fans who were disappointed to learn that Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes don’t see it for one another, romantically.

Speaking to Variety about the significance of Sam becoming the MCU’s new Captain America, and about his view on why some of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’s fans were holding onto the hope that the show’s two leading characters might be queer, Mackie pointed to the “exploitation of homosexuality,” a phrase that can be interpreted in a handful of different ways.

“It used to be guys can be friends, we can hang out, and it was cool,” Mackie said. “You would always meet your friends at the bar, you know. You can’t do that anymore, because something as pure and beautiful as homosexuality has been exploited by people who are trying to rationalize themselves.”

There’s a lot to unpack in that statement, but what Mackie appeared to be stumbling over was the complicated reality that the entertainment industry has “exploited” homosexuality in the sense that studios like Marvel have spent years telling audiences to wait for queer representation only to ultimately deliver the barest minimum. In the absence of actual queer characters being spotlighted in one of the world’s biggest cinematic franchises, people do often read and project themselves into the subtext of these stories, because that’s a normal part of how all people consume entertainment.

What was truly odd about Mackie’s interview, though, was his pointing to the “Striking Vipers” episode of Black Mirror as another example of platonic male friendships that audiences read incorrectly. We won’t spoil “Striking Vipers” here, but suffice to say that it’s the sort of story Alfred Kinsey would have quite a bit to say about. The thing is, there are plenty of actual depictions of platonic camaraderie between straight dudes just being dudes together while a bunch of things not directly related to their dude-ness happen around them. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is one of those stories, yes, but here are a few recent others to reference the next time someone has the audacity to bemoan why there aren’t more straight men on TV and in films.

Hughie, Frenchie, and Mother’s Milk talking to Billy ButcherScreenshot: Amazon Studios

Wee Hughie and the Boys (The Boys)

Though The Boys is mostly about a bunch of social misfits working together to take down a megalomaniac corporation, it’s also about a bunch of men (and the one mostly-mute woman in the bunch) hanging out and reveling in one another’s rowdiness. To Hughie Billy Butcher, Frenchie, and Mother’s Milk aren’t just his friends, they become his family and give him the kind of strength necessary to survive in a world full of superpowered psychopaths.

Vision and the men of Westview having a platonic neighborhood watch meeting.Screenshot: Disney+/Marvel

Vision and the Men of Westview (WandaVision)

Much as Vision loved his wife Wanda, in his role as the Synthezoid Man-of-the-House in WandaVision, he spent much of his time in Westview hanging out with his male neighbors as they trimmed their hedges, met for neighborhood watches, and tried to escape the town.

Mobius dragging his new friend Loki to time jail.Screenshot: Disney+/Marvel

Mobius M. Mobius and Loki Laufeyson (Loki)

Though The Falcon and the Winter Soldier never quite manage to become the buddy cop show it wanted to be, Loki got there almost immediately by aping the narrative beats of many crime procedurals, and featuring an emotional confrontation between Mobius M. Mobius and Loki. Mobius knows Loki belongs in time jail, and that he’ll probably kill people again, and might destroy the universe in the process. But Mobius just can’t help but want to give the trickster god a hug and a second chance and turning a new leaf, because that’s what bros do for one another.

Luca and Alberto, two sea creature friends, playing at humanity.Screenshot: Disney+/Pixar

Luca and Alberto (Luca)

Luca is an excellent example of how a movie that has all the makings of being an age-appropriate, touching story about young queer people first discovering their identities can actually just be about a pair of European sea monsters who speak some Italian. Tale as old as time.

A bunch of clones, who are also friends.Screenshot: Disney+

The Bad Batch (The Bad Batch)

While The Bad Batch’s clones don’t always get along with one another, they do depend on one another to survive in a galaxy where their specific kind (see: unique dudes, and Omega) face threats on all sides.

Horace and Jasper, Cruella’s henchmen who were best friends, as well as each other’s before they met her.Screenshot: Disney+/Marvel

Horace and Jasper (Cruella)

Even after Cruella de Vil blows into their lives in Disney’s new live-action Cruella, Horace and Jasper still hold onto their childhood friendship that first brought them together as young orphans trying to survive on the street. Welcoming Cruella into their group certainly changes their dynamics to a certain extent, but as she becomes their domineering boss, and they her henchmen, their bond is made that much stronger. Platonically.

Godzilla and King Kong two enemies who become friends over time.Screenshot: HBO Max/Warner Bros.

Godzilla vs. Kong (Godzilla vs. Kong)

Godzilla vs. Kong can very easily be read as a film about two larger-than-live masculine presences clashing in a way that threatens the entire planet until a new unknown threat emerges that forces the creatures to set aside their differences and work together. Even if you’re not inclined to interpret the film that way, it’s also very purposefully presented as such.

Cyborg and Aquaman flying.Screenshot: HBO Max

Cyborg and Aquaman (Zack Snyder’s Justice League)

This one should be self-explanatory, to be honest.

Edwin and Roman, two friends, hanging out at a function with Ramsey, a newcomer to the Fast Family.Screenshot: Universal

Tej and Roman (The Fast & Furious franchise)

In nearly every Fast & Furious movie they’ve appeared in together, Tej and Roman have not missed an opportunity to get in a few brutal digs at each other, of a deep and abiding love for one another that only ever reads as platonic. It’s the sort of energy that bond’s the franchise’s entire Family together, but it’s by far the strongest between these two.

Kevin and Neil, who are just friends, commiserating in front of Patty and Allison.Screenshot: AMC

Kevin and Neil (Kevin Can F Himself)

Even though Kevin Can F Himself is about Allison struggling to break free from the stifling sitcom reality that seems to follow her husband Kevin around, Kevin and his best friend Neil’s brotherly affection for one another is one of the more important parts of the show’s subplot. Often within Kevin Can F Himself’s sitcom bubble, it’s Neil and Kevin’s antics that end up causing the chaos that seep over into Allison’s life. Neither Kevin nor Neil can be bothered to worry about how their actions affect others, though, because they’re just having too much damned fun together, as buds do.

Sam and Bucky having a platonic therapy session.Screenshot: Disney+/Marvel

Suffice to say that there’s a broad range of depictions of straight men enjoying one another’s company with nary a suggestion of any romance or sexual experimentation in sight. That has always been the case, and it will likely always be the case, which is precisely why it’s so strange whenever people act as the small amount of industry progress that’s been made towards putting more queer stories on-screen is “enough.”

Correction: A previous version of this article mistakenly identified Ludacris’ Fast & Furious character as Edwin, rather than Tej. We regret the error, family.


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Star Wars Goes New School and Old School, and More of the Best Toys of the Week @ io9

Image: Hot Toys, Hasbro, Mezco Toyz

Welcome back to Toy Aisle, io9's regular round up of all things good and plastic. This week, another Into the Spider-Verse Spidey swings into action, Hasbro now deems ‘90s kids old enough to be retro-targeted with Star Wars packaging, and... how do you feel about building a Lego shoe? Check it out!


Image: D4 Toys

D4 Toys Sentinel Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse Peter Parker Spider-Man Figure

Sentinel’s recent Miles Morales gets an ally in the form of not one, but techincally two Peters Parker. The deluxe Spider-Verse Peter Parker comes with both the alternate blonde-haired head and even a swappable, more-toned torso to depict either Chris Pine or Jake Johnson’s multiversal spins on Spider-Man. Further accessories include alternate hands and webbing to pose him swinging into action, and even a newspaper, coffee mug, and giant gargoyle statue head to sit Peter on, replicating his morning ritual as your Neighborhood Friendly Spider-Man. He’ll cost $148, or $92.50 for a version without the statue display, and is due for release this September. [Toyark]


Image: Hasbro

Hasbro Star Wars: The Black Series Lucasfilm 50th Anniversary The Power of the Force Retro Figures

Friends, one half of your Toy Aisle team was born in 1991, which means that they are both a) a baby, and b) now old enough to go “oh that’s the packaging the Star Wars figures were in when I was a ki-oh noooo, I’m ooooollllllld”. Which is exactly what happened when Hasbro revealed a new trio of re-released action figures for its Lucasfilm 50th anniversary line. Evoking the classic Hasbro-Kenner “Power of the Force” action figures of the mid-’90s (if only their cardbacks, and not the “heroic sculpt” swole chests everyone got back then), the trio of A New Hope figures—Luke in his desert tunic, Han Solo (complete with Stormtrooper belt), and Greedo—are the same sculpts released in the Black Series multiple years ago at this point, but Luke and Han have received new photoreal face printing. You’re here for the cardbacks, which will both stoke your nostalgia and make you feel incredibly old, when you scoop these up from Hasbro Pulse for $26.50 each from today. [from4-lomtozuckuss


Image: Hot Toys

Hot Toys Star Wars: The Bad Batch Hunter Sixth-Scale Figure

It turns out Star Wars is a lot more interesting and entertaining when you don’t have moody, all powerful Jedis running around slashing at each other with glowing rave sticks. The Bad Batch is a nice distraction from those yet-to-happen sequels you’re still trying to forget, but it’s also great for companies like Hot Toys who can repurpose Temuera Morrison head sculpts again and again and again. The latest is a detailed 12-inch version of the leader of Clone Force 99, aka Hunter, who includes a weathered suit of armor and helmet, blaster rifle, pistol, dagger, and 30 points of articulation. Availability isn’t expected until late 2022, however.


Image: Lego

Lego Adidas Originals Superstar Sneaker

Having recently partnered with Adidas for a line of Lego-themed shoes and sportswear, Lego is returning the favor with a brick-built version of the classic Adidas Original Superstar sneaker that includes the iconic shell toe and a real set of laces that can be tied several different ways. Officially available starting July 1 in Lego and Adidas stores (both online and brick and mortar) the $80, 731-piece sneaker comes in an actual Adidas shoe box, but despite being an official size 7.5, given how it’s assembled there’s not enough room inside to stick a foot in which is disappointing, but Adidas has a solution to that.


Image: Mezco

Mezco One:12 Fantastic Four Collective Box Set

We mean... if you want one member of the Fantastic Four, you probably want all of them, right? So Mezco’s doing you a favour by putting out all four members of the team—Mr. Fantastic, the Invisible Woman, the Human Torch, and the Thing—alongside their robot pal HERBIE in a massive, massive box set. As well as the four (four and a half, technically five?) figures, the set comes jam-packed with accessories, including light up fire effects for Johnny, alternate stretching limbs for Reed, a disguise trench coat and fedora for Ben, and psychic shields and blasts for Sue. And that’s even without things like alternate hands and heads, and HERBIE gets his own accessories too, like booster FX jets, openable computer panels on his body, and a sliding analysis tray. All that goodness will cost you though: the set is a whopping $420, and is available to order for a roughly spring 2022 release window. [Mezco]


Image: Adidas

Adidas Originals Lego Superstar Sneaker

If you’re lamenting the lack of wearability with Lego’s Adidas Originals Superstar set (and the fact you only get one shoe) the collaboration has produced another stud-covered sneaker and these you can actually wear. Also available starting on July 1 but for around $170 in adult sizes, the Adidas Originals Lego Superstar features all of the black detailing, including the jagged stripes on the side, covered in iconic Lego studs, while the shell toe up front looks like it’s been actually assembled from white Lego pieces. Can you attach your own Lego bricks to them? Potentially, but since the shoes using rubber instead of hard plastic, you might have a hard time keeping them stuck on.


Image: Hasbrp

Hasbro Star Wars The Black Series Gaming Greats Six-Inch Zaalbar Figure

Hasbro’s Gamestop-exclusive line of gaming themed figures has mostly been concerned with Jedi: Fallen Order lately, but now the line is dipping back into beloved classic Knights of the Old Republic with a surprising follow up to Darth Nihilus and Darth Revan: Zaalbar, the Wookiee warrior companion of Twi’lek rogue Mission Vao. Zaalbar comes with his bowcaster and weapons harness, as well as his trusty vibrosword. The figure will cost $26.50, and is available to pre-order at Gamestop. [Toyark]


Image: Jazwares

Jazwares Halo Master Chief 20th Anniversary Spartan Collection Two-Pack

It’s been 20 years since Halo: Combat Evolved debuted to make the new (at the time) Microsoft Xbox a console everyone wanted to buy. The game has seen countless sequels and even more evolutions since 2001, including endless upgrades to Master Chief’s armor, and how the character looks in the game. Jazwares new Halo Master Chief 20th Anniversary Spartan Collection celebrates that with two versions of the hero: one as he appeared in the original game, and one based on his appearance in 2021's Halo Infinite. Both 6.5-inch figures come with over 20 points of articulation plus accessories like assault rifles and secondary blasters. When it ships in late October the $40 two-pack will be a Gamestop exclusive but is available for pre-order now.


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The Forever Purge: What to know about the latest installment in the Purge saga @ Syfy Wire

This summer, one of the most successful horror franchises of the last decade will break all of its own rules with The Forever Purge, the fifth and apparently final film in the Purge franchise that launched in 2013 and showed us a terrifying world where all crime is legal for one night a year.

Like its predecessors, The Forever Purge features screenwriter and series creator James DeMonaco going all out to show us yet another aspect of a world where Americans can be as brutal as they want every Purge Night. Unlike those previous films, though, this installment promises to reveal what happens when an underground group decides that the rules of the Purge universe no longer apply to them, and that they can purge as long as they want.

So, what else do we know about The Forever Purge? Read on for your primer on the latest Purge flick before it hits theaters this July.

 

When will it be released?

Like so many films on the release calendar of the past two years, The Forever Purge has dealt with plenty of date reshuffling due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the various delays it forced on the box office. We were originally meant to see this film last July, months after its title was revealed just as the dangers of the pandemic were ramping up. That wasn't possible, of course, and so the film was pulled from the release schedule with no clear indication of when we might see it.

That changed last summer, when after months of waiting fans finally learned the film was set to arrive July 9, 2021. Earlier this year that date was shifted one week earlier to the current and final release date of July 2. At the moment, The Forever Purge will be a theatrical-only experience when it opens, but don't expect to wait too long before a video on-demand release date follows.

The setting

Longtime fans of the Purge franchise will know that it's named for the title event, an annual 12-hour period during which all crime in the United States of America, including murder, becomes legal. For one night each year, the police leave the streets, emergency services shut down, and anyone is allowed to do whatever they want, completely consequence-free. The idea, instituted by a right-wing political faction known as The New Founding Fathers, is that allowing citizens to "purge" their violent urges once a year curbs crime rates the rest of the time. Of course, as we all know, that's a very brutal and very shortsighted way of looking at things.

The Forever Purge is set after the events of The Purge: Election Year, the 2016 entry in the franchise that ended with new president Charlie Roan promising her first act in office would be to abolish the Purge. With that in mind, fans might be wondering how the world got back to a place where the annual Purge not only exists, but seems to be getting worse. According to series creator James DeMonaco, all it takes is a few years and a few more political shifts.

"I wouldn't call this a direct sequel because years have passed, and it's quickly revealed that a new regime has taken over," DeMonaco told SFX. "Charlie Roan, whose first move as President was to eliminate the Purge, wasn't re-elected and has been gone for years. The divide in America grew. The New Founding Fathers were voted back into power, and the Purge was reinstated."

So there you have it. After jumping into the past for The First Purge, the franchise's final installment is jumping further into the future for The Forever Purge. Geographically, the film will take us to the Texas-Mexico border, where a pair of families must fight against a group who wants the Purge to never end.

Credit: Universal Pictures

 

Who's who in The Forever Purge?

The Forever Purge begins with Adela (Ana de la Reguera) and Juan (Tenoch Huerta), a couple who fled Mexico for a better life in American and ended up working for the Tuckers, a family of wealthy ranchers in Texas.

"Adela and Juan are seeking sanctuary in the promise of America, not the horrible reality of what America has become in the Purge world," DeMonaco said of his protagonists. "They fled trouble in Mexico and are hoping that some part of the American dream still remains, even in a world where the Purge still exists. The film asks the question, 'Is the dream still alive?' Their journey, through intense Purge action, represents a contemplation of this question, which they won't be able to answer until the end of the film – if they survive, of course ..."

Though they're unsure about the Purge as a legal entity, Adela and Juan manage to survive their first Purge Night, only to find that for some, the annual event is far from over. In fact, there's a new faction rising in America who hope that the Purge never ends. In response, Adela and Juan must work together with patriarch Caleb Tucker (Will Patton), his son Dylan (Josh Lucas), and the rest of the Tucker clan to survive a never-ending onslaught of violence in a race to the Mexican border.

The Forever Purge also stars Cassidy Freeman and Leven Rambin as Caleb Tucker's daughter-in-law and daughter, respectively. Behind the camera, DeMonaco returns to script the film, as he has with every installment, this time teaming up with director Everardo Gout (Days of Grace).

Is it really the end?

Since launching a runaway box office success with The Purge in 2013, DeMonaco's franchise has delivered five films in less than 10 years, along with two seasons of a USA Network TV adaptation created and co-written by DeMonaco. That's a lot of material in less than a decade, which might be why in 2018, after the release of The First Purge, DeMonaco said the next installment would be the last.

“I think I’m going to write it. I think it’s a great way to end it all," he told Entertainment Weekly. "We want to end it all, I think, in this one, and I’m very excited. When I came up with the idea and pitched it to everybody, they seemed psyched, and I think it will be a really cool ending, how we take this one home.”

Of course, franchises that keep cranking out box office success tend to last longer than anyone ever expects (we just got a new Saw movie this year, after all — its ninth), so the question remains: Will DeMonaco really end it all here? We won't know until we know, but if The Purge is going out with this installment, it's going out with a bang, as the film promises everything from a new setting to a whole new take on the series rules to a story that tackles issues ranging from domestic terrorism to immigration.

Godzilla vs. Megalon Might Be a Mess, But It Kind of Knows It @ io9

Now that’s teamwork.Screenshot: Toho

In just a few more weeks, Godzilla Singular Point is finally hitting Netflix, and that means we’re getting a brand new version of one of our favorite super robot pals, Jet Jaguar. To celebrate, we’re looking back at his origin story in Godzilla vs. Megalon, and finding a movie that is, for better or worse, the embodiment of the dumb-fun monster movie.

Treating monster films as nothing but dumb schlock that’s all big silly fights and nothing beneath the surface is nothing new. From the genre’s origins all the way up to western hits like this year’s Godzilla vs. Kong, there’s always going to be a place for a monster movie that trades depth—or in some cases even logical coherence—for the wide-eyed spectacle of monster-on-monster action. Who needs brainpower when you can have cities being leveled by larger-than-life titans, anyway? Godzilla’s cinematic career is no exception to this, of course, but 1973's Godzilla vs Megalon might be the ultimate example of a film that rides or dies on how much you can appreciate some giant-sized shenanigans and gleeful silliness over any semblance of seriousness.

A film that feels almost in equal parts embraced (especially for its special guest star and its final fight sequence) and reviled (for its lackluster plot, over-reliance on reused footage, and its absurdist elements) by the big G’s fandoms in the years since, Godzilla vs. Megalon really is the kind of film to know your expectations for going in. It never presents itself as trying to be more than the sum of its parts (parts that are, admittedly, stretched to breaking at times), but if you go in expecting the franchise to say something about the world like its greatest entries are capable of doing, well, what you’re going to find here is instead something more on the lines of “What if Godzilla dropkicked a fool, and it was so nice he did it twice?”

Godzilla vs Megalon’s threadbare plot mostly pulls us away from Godzilla as a focus. After their underwater civilization is ravaged by humanity’s nuclear testing—the same tests that gave us the King of the Monsters in the first place—the vengeful Seatopians, lead by Emperor Antonio (Robert Dunham), unleash their monstrous god Megalon to destroy the surface world. While Godzilla and his pals on Monster Island are sidelined by shockwaves from a recent nuclear test, the Seatopians target a Japanese inventor named Goro Ibuki (Katsuhiko Sasaki). They want to use Ibuki’s latest invention, a humanoid robot named Jet Jaguar, to control Megalon’s path of destruction on Earth. As Goro and his assistants wrestle with captivity to regain control of Jet Jaguar—and the JSDF struggles to stop Megalon’s assault on Tokyo—eventually, Goro succeeds and uses Jet Jaguar’s control system to get the robot to call Godzilla for help. After Jet Jaguar inexplicably gets his Ultraman on and grows to monstrous size, the robot and the King of the Monsters team up to tag-team brawl both Megalon and Godzilla’s then-recent rival, Gigan (mostly via footage reused from 1972's Godzilla vs Gigan).

That’s... it, really. Godzilla vs Megalon just doesn’t really have much going on to justify its already pretty threadbare 80-minute runtime, as it flits about between the unconvincing threat of the Seatopians and Goro’s attempts to break free of their captivity to regain access to Jet Jaguar. The focus on Jet Jaguar—infamously created as part of a children’s contest by production studio Toho to design a new monster for the franchise—makes the movie feel less like a Godzilla film and more of a pastiche of Ultraman’s greatest hits. As much fun as the robot is, it’s hard not to have it feel like it’s almost out of place for what Godzilla was at this point in his history, well into his arc of evolution from monstrous, horrifying threat to one of Japan’s biggest heroes. Even then, the film struggles with what it wants to do with Jet Jaguar when it brushes up against the liberal re-use of prior footage, as production buckles under the intense asks of Godzilla’s resurgence in the cultural conscience post-King Kong vs Godzilla.

And yet, when you put aside the bits of Godzilla vs. Megalon that don’t quite gel (which is, admittedly, quite a significant chunk) there is still something there, deeply primal in its base simplicity, that makes elements of it charming. The last fight between Jet Jaguar, Godzilla, Gigan, and Megalon is a messy delight, and the first time the film feels like it actually has any kind of kinetic energy to it after its meandering build-up. Even if you put the infamous dropkick aside—in which Jet Jaguar pins Megalon so Godzilla can slide in on his tail like he’s spitting in the face of whatever god physics answers to in order to deliver a two-footed kick right to its chest—it’s a wonderful bit of monster-on-robot-on-monster action. After making 80 minutes feel more like 120, it feels like Godzilla vs. Megalon finally just goes “Well, you like the fights, don’t you?” The movie never aimed higher, and at least it delivers.

Whether the legacy it left on the franchise in this regard—the perception of the monster movie genre as nothing more than shock and awe, and silly rubber suits smashing against each other—has been an entirely positive thing is a different question altogether. On the one hand, Godzilla vs. Megalon’s cultural cache in the years since means monster movies, Godzilla or otherwise, always face that uphill battle of whether or not they want to be more than spectacle. On the other, it’s a reminder that franchises as big as this, as varied as this, have space to sometimes just go for the cheap thrills that make blockbusters the joy they are. No matter how you feel about Godzilla vs Megalon’s flimsiness, or Jet Jaguar’s bizarre origin in its threadbare roots, there is something satisfying about a giant robot and the King of all Kaiju shaking hands after a job’s well done and calling it a day, no matter how serious you take your monster movies.


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World's first 10K 3D planetarium was once a WWII German rocket bunker @ Syfy Wire

Making more illuminating use out of an old Nazi rocket bunker in northern France, RSA Cosmos has repurposed the massive hanger as a new state-of-the art 3D planetarium that promises patrons "unforgettable journeys through the Universe in an ultra-modern 360-degree environment.”

RSA Cosmos has recently equipped the cosmic attraction with a dozen deluxe 4K projectors to manifest what's being called the world's first 10K 3D planetarium.

La Coupole is a giant bunker complex located beside the Saint Omer in the Pas-de-Calais district that was constructed by German forces to launch deadly V-2 rockets targeted at London and southern England during the dark days of WWII. 

Credit: RSA COSMOS

The facility was bombarded by Allied forces during the war and eventually taken out and captured in September of 1944. Winston Churchill requested that it be semi-demolished to prevent it from ever being used as a military site again. This historic complex was later employed for the Apollo program before it was neglected and abandoned. Starting in the late 1990s, La Coupole was redesigned as a historic war museum open to the public.

With a brand new lease on life, the museum’s fancy planetarium is now fortified with a fresh digital system. RSA Cosmos hoped to improve the quality of the mesmerizing 3D experience, which now bills itself as the very first in the world to present 10K 3D visuals at the meridian. 

Credit: RSA COSMOS

These stunning sky images are possible thanks to a combination of the company's SkyExplorer 2021 software and a dozen of Sony's VPL-GTZ380 4K projectors installed in a 49-ft digital dome. 

The $80,000, top-of-the-line SXRD laser projectors blast out a brilliant 10,000 lumens and support 100 percent of the entire DCI-P3 color gamut. They’re fully capable of scene-by-scene contrast adjustment, contains built-in technology to limit motion blur, and is also able to enhance the color and contrast of individual objects found within the thrown image for improved clarity.

"The goal of this modernization project was to achieve an image quality we no longer had," said La Coupole's planetarium manager, Nicolas Fiolet, in an official press release. "Thanks to the Sony projectors we obtain a magnificent sky, splendid colors and great contrasts."

Credit: RSA COSMOS

In addition, this transformative project had RSA Cosmos upgrading the lighting and installing comfortable new seating, each with built-in armrests featuring a special control panel that allows for audience interaction. This feature even lets stargazing visitors take control of the camera in projected simulations for a more thrilling heavenly experience.

What We Do in the Shadows spinoff 'Wellington Paranormal' gets U.S. premiere date and new trailer @ Syfy Wire

Before What We Do in the Shadows became a hit TV series on FX, the first spinoff from the iconic 2014 mockumentary arrived on TV in its homeland of New Zealand. First announced in 2017Wellington Paranormal began broadcasting into Kiwi homes in 2018, and has since produced three successful seasons and a holiday special, all without being widely available to U.S. viewers who've been enjoying a spinoff of their own. Next month, that holdout finally ends. 

Back in the spring, The CW announced that it would begin airing Wellington Paranormal for American audiences this year, with episodes made available to stream the next day on HBO Max. Now, a new trailer's here to get us all excited about finally seeing this show in all its clumsy paranormal cop glory. Check it out:

Created by What We Do in the Shadows original filmmakers and stars Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement, Wellington Paranormal follows two characters from the original movie, Officers Minogue (Mike Minogue) and O'Leary (Karen O'Leary) as they go about their days working as Wellington police officers specializing in unusual cases. In the trailer above, you can see what happens as they contend with everything from UFOs to demonic possession to werewolves who don't know they're werewolves, all in the same deadpan style that they brought to the film years ago. 

Wellington Paranormal begins its run on The CW July 11, with episodes available to stream the next day. Just a couple of months later, on September 2, What We Do in the Shadows will return for its third season on FX.

James Gunn has ‘casually’ talked to Marvel and DC about film crossover: ‘I don’t think it’s an impossibility’ @ Syfy Wire

If there’s any filmmaker who could bridge the DC/Marvel divide, it’s James Gunn. Right? The director who has made blockbusters in both camps says he’s talked to the rival studios about a crossover — but admits the odds of it happening aren’t high. Just don’t get your hopes up.

Gunn, who has the new DC flick The Suicide Squad dropping this summer, has never been shy about chatting with fans on social media. So when the topic of a potential big screen crossover between his Suicide Squad team and his Marvel super-team from the Guardians of the Galaxy movies came up, Gunn revealed he’s actually brought it up to the decision-makers.

Admittedly, he knows the odds of getting these two studios on the same page at some point is a long shot, but it’s fascinating to know the chats have at least taken place at some point. Of course, as comic fans know, DC and Marvel have met up on the page before (and comic creators were lobbying for it to happen again as recently as a few months ago) — though the rights issues on the film side obviously make that prospect a whole lot more complicated if both sides were to ever seriously consider it.

Not surprisingly, Gunn is most interested in finding a good story to potentially mash these worlds together, but admits it would be cool to get those separate toy boxes mixed up at some point on the big screen. Obviously, the chances of this actually ever happening are slim. Both studios have their own big cinematic universes that make plenty of money on their own for now. 

But we’ve seen studios like Sony and Disney come to terms to share characters like Spider-Man (though admittedly those are all Marvel characters in the first place, just owned by different studios), so there’s a precedent if there’s enough money to be made by everyone. If it ever does happen, here’s hoping they do get someone like Gunn involved to navigate the inherent storytelling complexities.

Years down the line, though? Who knows? Give it a decade or two, when folks have grown used to the Justice League and Avengers teaming up a few more times — what better way to get fans excited again than having them actually meet one another to face a foe that requires all of the comics world to unite and squash it? Maybe Galactus and Thanos make a cross-universe deal with Darkseid and Lex Luthor?

Is it silly? Sure. But yeah, we’d watch that.

 

Falcon and The Winter Soldier's Lack of Queer Representation Isn't On Anthony Mackie @ io9

Two guys, being dudes, hanging out and throwing shields.Image: Marvel Studios

Falcon and The Winter Soldier might be in the rear-view mirror for Marvel and Disney as the company turns its eyes to Loki, but the discourse around the show returned to the forefront of fandom last night in the wake of a new interview with Captain America himself, Anthony Mackie. But the furor around Mackie’s answers to a pointed question aims its frustration in the wrong direction.

As part of Variety’s Awards Circuit podcast series, Mackie discussed the timeliness of his ascension to the Captain America mantle in Falcon and The Winter Soldier’s finale, but was also asked about the series’ portrayal of the relationship between Sam Wilson and Sebastian Stan’s Bucky Barnes, and why the show had not presented the duo’s relationship as more than just friendly.

“So many things are twisted and convoluted. There’s so many things that people latch on to with their own devices to make themselves relevant and rational,” Mackie said when asked about playing their relationship as male friends, rather than as potentially romantic. “The idea of two guys being friends and loving each other in 2021 is a problem because of the exploitation of homosexuality. It used to be guys can be friends, we can hang out, and it was cool. You would always meet your friends at the bar, you know. You can’t do that anymore, because something as pure and beautiful as homosexuality has been exploited by people who are trying to rationalize themselves.”

“So something that’s always been very important to me is showing a sensitive masculine figure. There’s nothing more masculine than being a superhero and flying around and beating people up,” Mackie continued. “But there’s nothing more sensitive than having emotional conversations and a kindred spirit friendship with someone that you care about and love.”

The comments were further ignited on social media when the trade broke down Mackie’s response into a series of threaded tweets. In doing so, many of Mackie’s points about both his aversion to discussing fandom topics like shipping as well as his commentary about the exploitation of queerness on a corporate level, were presented in isolation, leading to commentators picking choice excerpts from Mackie’s response to dunk on.

Audiences looking for more queer representation from Marvel’s cinematic and televisual output have more than a right to be annoyed at Mackie’s response, given the studio’s lackluster approach to including prominent LGBTQIA characters in over a decade of output so far. And, even read at its most diplomatic, Mackie’s response is perhaps clumsy at best, and dismissive of genuine concern and disappointment from audiences at worst. But at the same time, it’s clear that the actor is uncomfortable responding to questions about fandom interpretations of his character— “I try to stay away from fan stuff,” Mackie says in the run up to the question about the show’s lack of queerness in the podcast, “the fandom is a very dangerous place, so I just let it be what it is and move on.”

Whether or not his answer should be clumsy is a different question. The push for larger conversations around diverse representation in tentpole franchises like the Marvel Cinematic Universe or Star Wars and other myriad Hollywood blockbusters has been an ongoing process for years at this point. It’s a point where, perhaps, actors—or more specifically their PR agents—should be aware that critics and journalists are going to want them to handle questions about representation, queer or otherwise, so they should be prepared formulate a response to those inquiries. Even if that answer is as simple as “it’s not something I get a say on, but there should be more and better representation in our media to reflect the society we live in”, it’d better than the kind of hot water Mackie found himself landing in as a trending topic on Twitter last night.

Speaking of Star Wars, case in point: John Boyega and Oscar Isaac’s history of discussing the potential for their sequel trilogy characters Finn and Poe Dameron to be in a relationship together. Both were supportive of the push, but non-committal about the actuality of their characters being queer until someone who did have control about that kind of creative decision could come along and answer (in their case Rise of Skywalker director J.J. Abrams, who shut down the possibility in the run-up to the film’s release, to much disappointment).

Image: Marvel Studios

Yet despite Mackie’s unpreparedness to field the critique—a valid critique of both Falcon and Marvel’s wider output—the resulting fandom ire at him feels like misdirected anger, especially considering the way Variety framed Mackie’s answer on social channels, a decision that ended up in maximum frustration at the actor himself. The real question is not whether we should hold these massive shows and movies to task for their occasional platitudes about diverse representation, queer or otherwise, but to aim those questions at the people who actually control the output of these studios: writers, directors, and producers. In particular at an institution like Marvel Studios, where higher echelons of management have a very public face in the form of Kevin Feige, the role of producers as forward-facing architects of these films and shows is an idea the public is already familiar with.

After all, they’re not just the people who get to make creative decisions like whether or not to portray a previously ambiguously straight character as queer, or frame a moment between two characters with homoromantic undertones. In Falcon’s case in particular, they’re the people who have a history of teasing the show’s chances of queer representation in the first place, and therefore are the people who should be held to task when that teasing turns out to be nothing more than just that. Malcolm Spellman, one of the show’s lead writer’s and now a co-writer on the Mackie-starring Captain America 4, told press and fans alike that they should “just keep watching…” when asked about theories that Bucky Barnes could be portrayed in Falcon and the Winter Soldier as bisexual in an interview with NME—only for that viewership to be rewarded with nothing at all. The aforementioned Kevin Feige, who also has producer credits on Falcon as he does most on Marvel Studios output, has a history of offering lackluster answers to “wait and see” incidents of Marvel’s lack of diverse characters—like in the run up to Avengers: Endgame when he said that fans had a right to see themselves in Marvel’s movies, only to back track and say that he didn’t think it would be such a big deal that fans would be outraged that Endgame gave the MCU its first explicitly queer character in the form of a minor cameo by director Joe Russo.

It’s clear that, in spite of what feels like years of promises that change is coming on this front (the first on-screen queer relationship and kiss in a Marvel movie is set to come in Chloé Zhao’s The Eternals later this year, and Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie will be portrayed as a bisexual woman in Taika Waititi’s Thor: Love and Thunder next year), a lack of queer representation is still an ongoing problem in Marvel Studios films and shows. Fans have every right to be frustrated by that issue as long as it continues to persist, and reporters should hold people at the studio accountable to answer why their material fumbles when it does.

But the people who do need to be held accountable on this issue, and others like it, are not necessarily people like Mackie—actors who can at most lend support to those frustrations and hope for positive change. Instead these concerns need to be addressed by people who actually can change them. We’re talking about the architects of a system that has failed up to now in bringing queer characters to prominence, at studios like Disney, such as Spellman and Feige. Perhaps especially so at a studio like Disney, which has a long history of struggling to present LGBTQIA+ characters at the forefront of its stories.


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Nia DaCosta discusses the 'bittersweet hope' of her 'Candyman' reboot in special Juneteenth message @ Syfy Wire

President Joe Biden made history this week by declaring Juneteenth a national holiday. June 19th has long been considered historically significant, as it was on that day in 1865 when former slaves in Galveston, Texas learned from Union soldiers that they were free citizens of the United States following the Confederacy's Civil War surrender two months prior.

On the eve of tomorrow's Emancipation Day celebration, filmmaker Nia DaCosta released a special video message, in which she explains how her new Candyman movies taps into centuries of Black trauma in America (a topic that's been at the forefront of the country's cultural consciousness since George Floyd's death at the hands of police officers last May).

"I was thinking a lot about the duality of the Black experience in America," the writer-director says in the video below. "At once, it's a place of this great hope, which I think is what Juneteenth represents. In one way, it'a celebration of us, of life, of freedom, of possibility. On the other side, it's incredibly difficult and there's a lot of pain. They kind of walk hand-in-hand. I think that's something about this film as well. There's still this bittersweet hope."

Check out the full message:

"Juneteenth is a day of profound weight and power," wrote President Biden in his proclamation. "A day in which we remember the moral stain and terrible toll of slavery on our country — what I’ve long called America’s original sin. A long legacy of systemic racism, inequality, and inhumanity. But it is a day that also reminds us of our incredible capacity to heal, hope, and emerge from our darkest moments with purpose and resolve."

Part reboot and part sequel to the 1992 original, Candyman stars Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (Watchmen), Teyonah Parris (WandaVision), Nathan Stewart-Jarrett (Doctor Who), and Colman Domingo (Fear the Walking Dead).

The story unfolds in the now-gentrified Chicago neighborhood of Cabrini Green, where the titular legend of the hook-handed specter continues to haunt the area's residents. But as DaCosta says above, Candyman's legacy is more than that of a clear-cut villain: "In the real world we create monsters of men all the time. People are murdered they become either saints or they're vilified."

Universal and DaCosta explored this idea last June in an animated video which depicted the terrible, racially-motivated injustices perpetrated against Daniel Robitaille, the Black man who would become the eponymous horror legend. "Candyman, at the intersection of white violence and black pain, is about unwilling martyrs," DaCosta wrote on Twitter at the time.

Written by DaCosta and producers Jordan Peele and Win Rosenfeld, Candyman is expected to arrive in theaters sometime this year after several pandemic delays. With the film ready to roll, DaCosta is setting her sights on the MCU, where she'll direct The Marvels, the sequel to 2019's Captain Marvel.


'Rick and Morty' introduces us to Rick's archnemesis, a sexy ocean man, in opening scene of Season 5 @ Syfy Wire

Dip your toes back into the intergalactic waters of the Rick and Morty universe with the first two minutes of the Season 5 premiere. The first episode kicks off with a cold open as Morty (series co-creator Justin Roiland) carries an injured Rick (also voiced by Roiland) across a field of crystals depicting alternate realities, while a terrifying cosmic beast chases them.

They barely make it back to Earth as Morty crashes the spaceship in the ocean, which prompts the arrival of Rick's archnemesis, a flamboyant ocean master known as Mr. Nimbus (played by the show's other mastermind, Dan Harmon). "How cool is that animated character? They drew him so cool," cast member Sarah Chalke (voice of Beth Smith) told SYFY WIRE during a recent interview about the new season.

We also asked whether Nimbus is a new series regular or if he's just a one-off character. Spencer Grammer (Summer Smith) clammed right up at the question, stating, "I don’t know…"

Check out the opening below:

"We always record separately, so that’s not a new thing," explained Chris Parnell (Jerry Smith) when discussing the process of recording dialogue amid the COVID-19 pandemic. "I was able to go into the booth, to the studio up here in Burbank, and that’s the great thing about animation. People can keep animating, even from home and we can sometimes record from home or go into a studio and record. Because you just wear a mask until you get into the booth and then you take it off and you’re in there by yourself. So, I feel very lucky that way."

Season 5 of Rick and Morty premieres on Adult Swim this Sunday, June 20 at 11 p.m. EST.


There's No Way Out On Star Wars: The Bad Batch @ io9

Crosshair is back on Star Wars; The Bad Batch.Image: Lucasfilm

You know the phrase “Stuck between a rock and a hard place?” Well, that was the latest episode of Star Wars: The Bad Batch. Except this time there were several rocks, several hard places, and in the middle? Clone Force 99, aka, The Bad Batch.

The eighth episode of Star Wars: The Bad Batch was called “Reunion,” a reference to the fifth member of the original Bad Batch, Crosshair, who recently gave into his inhibitor chip and became an agent of the Empire, unlike his fellow enhanced clones Hunter, Echo, Wrecker, Tech and Omega. That group had successfully stayed off his radar for a few episodes but after being spotted by the Scrapper’s Guild in the previous episode, “Battle Scars,” word of there whereabout finally got back to Kamino, where Crosshair and his Imperial forces have been holding up. The Kaminoans would like either Omega or the Bad Batch back for experimentation but the Empire doesn’t care. They want them terminated. Later, we’ll see that the Kaminoans aren’t taking any chances of that happening and are going to hire a bounty hunter to bring them in. Which one? We had to wait and see.

All of this would’ve been a moot point had the Bad Batch left Bracca in the first place but, they have debts and need money, so they’ve lingered a bit too long to try and salvage data and weapons from a Jedi Starcruiser. It also gives Wrecker, the most childish of the bunch, some time to continue and bond with Omega. He being Wrecker, he does this by training her to disable some explosives and then tricking her that they’re going to die. Classic Wrecker.

Wrecker may be big, but he’s a kid at heart.Image: Lucasfilm

After a brief run in with the Scrappers and some fun on a flying skiff, the Batch realized their time is running short. They need to salvage the loot on the ship as soon as possible. Wrecker and Omega head to the weapons room where he falls in love with a proton torpedo. Tech begins to download whatever files are still on board. Things are going smoothly until Crosshair and three shuttles worth of troopers arrive. Normally, this would be nothing for Clone Force 99, but now they’re up against one of their own. Every time they make a move, Crosshair is a step ahead of them, which means despite their best efforts, he’s able to locate them rather quickly.

Once Crosshair is able to get them in his, um, crosshairs, Hunter and Omega plead with him. They try and explain that he’s being forced to act like this. It’s the chip. Crosshair doesn’t care and delivers the chilling line “Aim for the kid.” Luckily, as that was happening, Echo and Tech devise a plan to activate the massive cannons above them, the force from which starts completely destroying the room. Everyone is falling and being crushed which gives the Bad Batch a chance to escape.

That escape takes the group inside an ion engine and this was, in my mind, the coolest part of the episode. Seemingly every Star Wars show or movie has scenes on these unfathomably massive starships but all we really see are a few hallways, the bridge, and maybe a detention cell. If we’re lucky? The garbage chute. But this entire episode of The Bad Batch is about them exploring all the little nooks and crannies of one of these ships which leads them into the engine. And it was just so cool for these characters to be inside the engine because you see the scale of it, you realize how small the humans are inside the engine, and then you imagine how big the engine has to be to power a ship of that size. I don’t know. Just something oddly satisfying about it in a nerdy Star Wars way.

Weapons salvage.Image: Lucasfilm

Back to the episode, escaping through the engine would have fooled anyone, except Crosshair. Not only does he block their escape from the engine, but he orders that the engine get turned on. Rock? Meet hard place. The choices seem to be die by blaster fire or die by literal fire from the engines, so the Batch devises another plan. Blow the engine in half and fall down in the wreckage, escaping two kinds of death and gambiling they don’t find a third. Just as the engine is about to ignite the plan is executed, the explosions go off, and the Bad Batch begins to tumble, just as the ion engine catches Crossfire, injuring him badly.

Having survived the dropping engine, which looked like a violent amusement park ride, it was time for the Bad Batch to head to their ship and get off Bracca. However we, the audience, knew that Crosshair stationed a group of troopers at their ship, which is why it was so ominous when the scene pulls back to reveal those troopers were all dead. Who could have...oh, right, that bounty hunter.

It’s Cad Bane, one of the most villainous, deadly bounty hunters in all the galaxy. A fan favorite from The Clone Wars making his triumphant return. And, even if you weren’t aware of how capable Cad Bane was, when he and Hunter show down in a classic Western-style shootout, Cad Bane beats Hunter. Handily. He captures Omega and leaves Hunter for dead.

Cad Bane is back.Image: Lucasfilm

The episode ends after a seriously impressive shot from Hunter’s point of view as he regains consciousness to see his friends reviving him and battling their way off the planet. They’re confused, scared, and once they get away Hunter explains Omega has been taken by a bounty hunter and they need to find her.

“Reunion” was another good episode of The Bad Batch. It didn’t move the story forward in huge ways, but it did finally bring Crosshair back into the mix, which was set up several episodes ago, and the way it picked up right from the last episode made it feel like the second half of a larger story. I wasn’t a huge fan of just throwing Cad Bane in there seemingly out of the blue, especially when we know Fennic Shand is still looking for the Bad Batch, but he’s certainly going to be a formidable foe for them moving ahead.

What were your thoughts on “Reunion?” Let us know below.


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How Superman II's embattled 'Donner Cut' set the stage for Justice League's Snyder Cut @ Syfy Wire

Despite being separated by nearly 40 years of comic book movies, the productions of Superman II and Justice League have much in common. Both were high-profile, big-budget DC/Warner Bros. projects that came down with strong cases of creative differences that resulted in the replacement of their respective directors: Richard Donner and Zack Snyder. Both films hit theaters with compromised visions and varying degrees of box office and critical success, with rumors and reports of mythic “director’s cuts'' from Donner and Snyder waiting in the wings. Audiences may never have seen either if it wasn’t for fans’ passionate outcry and Warner Bros. accountants’ abilities to see a way to turn fan pleas into revenue. 

While the Snyder Cut had to wait four years to finally be realized, it took 25 years for Superman II: The Donner Cut to get the same treatment. In doing so, the Donner Cut was arguably the “OG” Snyder Cut; a trial run that — for better or worse — set a precedent for fan-led campaigns that set the stage of an (at best) aggressive breed of fandom to help Snyder’s take on Superman and the rest of the Justice League defy the Anti-Life equation that is Development Hell. In honor of Superman II’s 40th anniversary this week, here’s a look at how that film’s troubled production and pop-culture legacy paved the way for another Man of Steel to find a second chance. 

The Donner Cut’s origin story is one full of conflict and struggle that rivals that of Superman’s. Donner, hot off the success of 1976’s The Omen, was hired to direct Superman: The Movie by father and son producers Ilya and Alexander Salkind, the famously cheap and infamously combative producers behind the first four Superman movies starring Christopher Reeve. The plan was for Donner to direct Superman and its sequel back-to-back, a prospect that was unheard of, and very expensive, at the time. With a budget of $55 million, the 2021 equivalent of $250 million, Superman: The Movie went into production as the most expensive film ever made at the time — and with that distinction (and all those zeroes) came 250 million headaches. 

Creative differences soon went viral; the producers accused Donner of going over budget while shooting footage for both Superman movies; Donner claimed he was never given a final budget to follow. Eventually, the Salkinds maneuvered to replace Donner mid-production with a filmmaker they worked with on The Three Musketeers, Richard Lester. At that point, Lester was brought on solely as an uncredited producer and as someone the Salkinds tasked with directing second-unit. Lester also had the unfortunate role of being a middleman between Donner and the Salkinds, as their relationship had reached the point where the creatives were not speaking to each other. 

As tensions got hotter than a blast of Supes’ heat vision, Donner shifted his attention to supervising the completion of the first film, while Lester would eventually become Superman II’s official director and end up shooting the rest of the film in 1980, following protracted contractual, schedule, and legal issues that delayed production. Most reports claim that Donner shot somewhere between 50 and 70 percent of Superman II before he was replaced. Regardless, the future Lethal Weapon director would never get to finish the sequel he started. 

That is, until 2004.

Following the DVD success of 2001’s Superman: The Movie Director’s Cut, which featured restored footage of the film from network television airings in the ‘80s,  Warner Bros. saw an opportunity to give Donner’s Superman II a similar treatment. Donner provided significant input on the 2001 cut of Superman, but, at the time, he wanted nothing to do with working on a new version of Superman II. But thanks to the internet giving a voice to fans that they otherwise wouldn’t have had back in Donner’s day, combined with the recent box office success of comic book movies like 2000’s Donner-produced X-Men and Sam Raimi’s 2002 Spider-Man, the filmmaker eventually changed his tune. 

Credit: Warner Bros./Getty Images

One of two key factors that brought Donner around was a May 2004 letter-writing campaign that started on the blog The Forbidden Zone. Fansites were the new watercooler at the time, and they didn’t have Twitter and its hashtags to push and force their agenda into being the way #Releasethesnydercut fans did. So Forbidden Zone rallied the Donner Cut base to send a volley of letters to WB, all at once, on June 19: Superman II’s release date. Their goal was to convince WB and Donner to release the cut in time for Superman II’s 25th anniversary, just as bootleg versions of the movie were making the rounds online and at conventions. Their letter campaign worked. But not immediately. 

“Warner Home Video is supportive of an extended version of Superman II on DVD,” Jim Cardwell, then-president of Warner Home Video, said as he responded to fans in the summer of 2004. “However, there are complex legal and creative issues that need to be resolved before the film can be re-released. Warner Home Video is presently addressing these issues.” The legal issues Cardwell referred to involved likeness rights stemming from Marlon Brando’s estate and his complicated involvement as Jor-El in Superman: The Movie. Soon after the release of the 1978 film, and its record-breaking box office, Brando sued the production and the producers over back-end profit participation points that led to Lester being unable to use Brando’s performance in Superman II. (That’s why Kal-El’s mom, Lara, played by Samantha York, addresses and tutors her son in the Fortress of Solitude instead of her husband).

By the time Superman Returns was greenlit circa 2004, Warner Bros. was able to resolve its legal issues with Brando’s estate to allow the late actor’s likeness and voice to be used in the Brandon Routh-starring rebootquel — which made it possible for The Donner Cut to get the same treatment. With the red tape out of the way, work began in earnest on the much-anticipated, direct-to-DVD release of Donner’s original Superman II.

The person largely responsible for that work was the second factor behind securing Donner’s involvement: Michael Thau. Donner previously worked with Thau, his then-assistant on The Goonies, on the first two Lethal Weapon films and on the 2001 DVD restoration of Superman. Thau discovered palettes of footage in England that he used to help assemble the 2001 restoration; his success there led Warner Bros. to invite him to work on Superman II. Thau’s relationship with Donner, coupled with fan outreach reaching fever pitch in 2005, made it hard for Donner to stay on the sidelines. Harder still would be tracking down the missing footage for this project.

 

Like The Snyder Cut, a completed Donner Cut did not exist. Both cuts required extensive prep and work in post-production to create a product worth fans’ time and money. (YMMV on whether or not either alternate version of the films’ fully delivered on either of those.

Unlike Snyder, Donner was unable to shoot new footage with his still-alive cast members because too much time had passed between the original shoot and 2006. The project lived and died in an extensive post-production endeavor, with Thau facilitating that process with Donner’s notes and feedback. After Thau spent months once again sorting through and assembling reels of footage, while also consulting continuity documents from the original production, Superman II: The Donner Cut was released in November 2006.

Fans watched a mostly new cut of the sequel made from the original negative, one that omitted most of Lester’s more tongue-in-cheek humor and logic-be-damned action scenes (like Superman removing a cellophane “S” from his chest to entrap the villainous Non). The Donner Cut featured alternate takes that the director shot during his original tenure with the film, as well as very low-budget digital special effects completed especially for this film that don’t quite hold up. (Especially the new-ish version of General Zod and his crew escaping the confines of their glass-like, Phantom Zone prison.) Thau and Donner even used footage from Reeve and Margot Kidder’s screen tests for a scene Donner was unable to film. The end result mixed in some footage from the theatrical release as well, to tell a story about Superman battling the infamous Kryptonian criminals led by Zod while also struggling with the consequences of being a superpowered being in love with Kidder’s Lois Lane — a mortal woman.

The broad strokes of both versions of Superman II remain largely the same, but The Donner Cut departs drastically from the theatrical in both the opening and climactic scenes. Gone from the Donner Cut is Lester’s opening sequence where Lois shows up in Paris, in the middle of a terrorist plot involving a nuke at the Eiffel Tower. Also gone is that nuke being the reason why Zod and his lackeys escape the Phantom Zone. Instead, one of the nuclear missiles from Superman: The Movie that Superman diverts to space detonates and frees Zod and his compatriots.

After Superman uses the Fortress’ powers to deprive Zod and crew of theirs, the Donner Cut ends the same way that Superman: The Movie did, with Supes turning back time by changing the rotation of the earth. (This whimsical sequence was originally planned to end Superman II, because, at the time, the first film lacked an ending that the creatives could agree on.)

For completists, the wait for The Donner Cut was worth it. The end result inspired a similar but different experiment that paid off for Snyder in March 2021, with the HBO Max release of his definitive take on Justice League. The fervor that finally brought his JL to life, with impressive and costly CG effects, set a precedent on par with the one fans established with The Donner Cut. But fandom and how they engaged with the properties they were fans of were much different in the early aughts than in the 2010s, especially within the last three years when Snyder Cut enthusiasts took very vocal stances to will a movie into existence that didn’t exist in the form they thought it did.

Credit: HBO Max

Snyder Cut fans believed, at least initially, that the Justice League filmmaker just had a complete cut of the film sitting in film cans or on hard drives, with Snyder’s own social media posts at times helping fuel that myth. With social media being a door that swings both ways, the engagement between fans of movies and the filmmakers behind those movies allowed for a type of conversation online that was not an option for Donner Cut’s fanbase.

What The Donner Cut supporters lacked in social media means they more than made up for with passion. And without resorting to any online behaviors that could resemble bullying or trolling. Instead, they let their enthusiasm for a beloved film pave the way for its original director to see his vision realized almost 30 years after he thought it would never see the light. And, if Zack Snyder's Justice League is anything to go by, it started something of a trend. 

Indie Comics Spotlight: 'Adora and the Distance' is a magical love letter about adventures and autism @ Syfy Wire

Award-winning writer and producer Marc Bernardin (Castle Rock, Carnival Row, SYFY WIRE's Battlestar Galacticast) has been a very busy man. Over the past year, Bernardin created the star-studded Plague Nerdalogues to raise money for the official Black Lives Matter organization and he helped write the just-announced Masters of the Universe: Revelation Netflix series with Fatman Beyond co-host and longtime friend Kevin Smith. This week the Kickstarter for his first short film Splinter, starring Yetide Badaki (American Gods) and Tricia Helfer (Battlestar Galactica), was funded to the tune of well over $200,000. 

But, his most recent accomplishment, the new comic Adora and the Distance (out now via ComiXology Originals) is closest to his heart. Some 15 years in the making, the project is dedicated to his daughter, Sophie, and her journey with autism. The magical story is a beautiful tribute to her, and anyone who has ever daydreamed of magical quests, heroes, pirates, slaying monsters, and flying carpets. 

Adora is a beautiful young princess who lives in a palace with her Uncle, Lord Rafael. He raised the loving, thoughtful, insightful little girl as his own after finding her abandoned as a child. Every day she goes to school, the market, and the harbor, and even goes to the dungeon after dinner to visit with convicts.

And every night, she has the same nightmare.

Her dreams reveal a premonition of “The Distance,'' an unknown entity that is known to claim entire villages. With the help of her companions — a handmaiden, a mage, a knight, a bard, a dwarf, and a Moor — she goes in search of it, hoping to lead the danger away from her home. 

Written by Bernardin, drawn by Ariela Kristantina (Insexts, The Logan Legacy), and colored by Bryan Valenza, Adora and the Distance is part Lord of the Rings, part Scheherazade, and one of the most powerful stories of love and resilience you will ever read. And it’s a must-read for anyone who knows and loves someone neurodivergent.

What goes on in the mind of a child with autism? What do they see? Back in 2005 when Bernardin and his family first started on their autism journey with his daughter, his friends thought writing a story would be good therapy for him. Instead, he decided to create a magical world that he imagined only she could see. As she grew, the story did too.  

SYFY WIRE spoke with Bernardin about his personal journey with the book, why he didn’t picture Adora as a Black child at first, and why it’s never too late to try something new.

Credit: Comixology Originals

If you don't mind, can you please explain where on the autism spectrum your daughter is for laypeople?

Well, the spectrum is a vast and complicated place. If one end is full of mostly neurotypical people with some quirks and the other end has people who need help navigating every aspect of life, my kid is kind of in the middle. She’s verbal when she wants to be, to express needs or wants, but she doesn’t have the words to relate her emotional state. She can be self-sufficient with some things, but needs a lot of assistance with others. Every person on the spectrum is different in their own ways.

Adora will clearly resonate with families with autistic family members, but it feels universal.

Maybe it’s me, but I think that every story can be for everyone. Just as I can happily enjoy movies about samurais or robots or French naval officers or dinosaurs without actually being Henri Tyrannorobot Rex, loyal retainer of Shogun Napoleon Bonaparte, I feel like a person with no exposure to autism can enjoy Adora. It’s a quest story, first and foremost... it’s just that the terrain our characters are traversing has quite a bit going on under the surface.

Credit: comiXology Originals

What are some of your favorite fantasy stories that inspired some of the characters?

I’d be lying if I said that The Lord of the Rings wasn’t a huge influence on Adora, just as it’s a huge influence on anyone telling a story in which a motley band of adventurers set out into the great unknown. And there’s a definite Buffy the Vampire Slayer thread, not just in young women taking control of their narrative and believing in their own power, but there are moments of Adora and the Distance’s finale that were directly influenced by “Once More With Feeling” — and not the music.

Artist Ariela Kristantina's work is incredible. How did you connect? 

I’d stumbled upon Ariela’s portfolio years ago, when I was looking for an artist to illustrate the second volume of Genius, a comic I’ve done through Top Cow/Image. The schedules didn’t align for that, but I kept her bookmarked. When the Adora opportunity with ComiXology presented itself, she was at the top of the list. And this time, it all worked out.

Credit: comiXology Originals

What was your reaction the first time you saw the world you created?

There’s always a moment in making comics when the story goes from theoretical to tangible. A script is a blueprint for something, not the thing itself. It only becomes real when an artist comes along and breathes life into it — life you couldn’t have foreseen. Choices when it comes to performance or locale, color or context, get made that you the writer couldn’t have made alone. That’s when it all starts to get real. And for a book like Adora and the Distance, there have been a few starts and stops in the 15-some-odd years it took from idea to release, but this is clearly the way it was meant to be. Because, now, it is.

When it came to the character, she was just a young girl [when I conceptualized her] but when Arielle started doing sketches she kicked back a little brown girl. And when I wrote the book, I was surprised. I hadn't specified race at all, this wasn't in my head initially.

You never directed Ariella to draw a child that looked like your daughter?

No. But you have to understand I wrote this book so long ago no one was having conversations about diversity and inclusion at the time. 

This predates Genius, and when I wrote Genius, the conversation was, "We don't think anybody's going to buy this book. Because Black heroes don't sell and female heroes don't sell and you've got a Black female hero. So nobody's going to buy this."

Adora's [design] is all Ariella’s intuition and deduction. Ariella said, "Why wouldn't she be? You're brown, I'm brown, why wouldn't we do this?”

And she was 100 percent right. I hopefully would have come to that conclusion on my own, but she beat me there.

 

Credit: comiXology Originals

ComiXology Originals is a digital platform but will this comic go to print in the future?

Yes, Dark Horse Comics will be releasing a print edition of Adora and the Distance next spring. 

You have had an incredible career and you are always doing something new. What advice do you have for people who are just starting their creative careers?

I tell people all the time, I was 43 years old before I made it into my first writer's room. I'm going to be 50 years old before I direct my first [film]. I spent 20 years in an entirely different career before I decided to shift mid-stream and become a TV writer. There is no such thing as too late, unless you want to be a child actor.

Universal Studios Orlando gears up for return of 'Halloween Horror Nights' with Jack the Clown @ Syfy Wire

After being canceled last fall due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Halloween Horror Nights is set to make its grand return to Universal Studios Orlando this fall.

To celebrate tickets going on sale this week, the Florida-based theme park gave us some pure nightmare fuel with the promise of Horror Nights' red-nosed mascot: Jack the Clown, who wouldn't miss the event's 30th anniversary for all the tasty, terrified children in Derry, Maine. In fact, he'll be waiting on "every corner of this year’s event with unsuspecting 'Jack Attacks' that will send guests running for their lives," reads the official release.

Watch the announcement:

Once you've got your fill of the killer clown, be sure to check out 10 haunted houses, five scare zones, and two live shows. Information is still being released, but Universal has confirmed that one of the first haunted house of the season is based on everyone's favorite “Bio-Exorcist," Beetlejuice. The iconic character (originally played by Michael Keaton) was the OG Horror Nights host when the annual event launched back in 1991 (at the time, it was called Fright Nights).

Visitors to the Burton-inspired experience will "shadow Beetlejuice’s every move through artfully recreated scenes from the popular film. From the infamous haunted attic within the Maitland home, to the model graveyard and Dante’s Inferno Room, guests will have the extraordinary chance to enter the movie surrounded by its most iconic characters."

Say the uncouth demon's name three times and watch as teaser images appear below!

Credit: Universal Studios Orlando

 

Credit: Universal Studios Orlando

 

Credit: Universal Studios Orlando

 

Credit: Universal Studios Orlando

While SYFY WIRE couldn't visit the park last October, we were still able to take an exclusive virtual tour alongside VFX wizard, Greg Nicotero, who took a stroll through Puppet Theater: Captive Audience.

"There's just something about things that you have seen in movies or seen on TV shows and then it's right in front of you," he said at the time. "You have that opportunity to experience what it's like and with the original mazes, you get taken on an entirely new journey and you don't know where you're going, which I think makes them a little more fun in a different way. With the other mazes that are based on IP, you kind of know, 'Oh yeah, I know what this gonna be.' It's still cool to walk through those moments, but with the original mazes, people are walking unaware of what's gonna happen."

Halloween Horror Nights crawls out of the dark void Saturday, Sep. 4 and runs through Sunday, Oct. 31. More information on the spook-tastic experience will be announced in the coming months.

(Universal Studios theme parks and SYFY WIRE are both owned by NBCUniversal.)


Supergirl's Cinematic Supersuit Is Here In a Tiny New Flash Tease @ io9

Hello, Kara.Image: Andy Muscietti/Warner Bros.

The girl of steel is upon us—but before she flies off to cinematic adventures on her own, she’ll be suiting up in Andy Muschietti’s multiversal shenanigans in The Flash, and we’ve got a tiny new glimpse of her costume.

In the vein of prior teases for Michael Keaton’s returning Batman and Ezra Miller’s updated Flash costume, Flash director Andy Muschietti has taken to Instagram to reveal our first look at the costume for Supergirl, who will make her new DC movie debut in the film, currently due out June 2022. The Young’s Sasha Calle will portray Kara, Superman’s cousin and fellow orphan of the doomed planet Krypton, in the movie.

Just as it often is the case in the comics, Kara’s Supergirl costume takes a lot of hints from the design language used for Henry Cavill’s Superman. The similar texture is here across the suit and “S” logo as seen in Superman’s cinematic costume ever since Man of Steel, however Kara’s does have some subtle changes, including an almost paisley-esque pattern running through her logo. Which, presumably, still stands for hope.

But what sets her costume further apart than Kal-El’s is what looks like a significant block of red across her neck and shoulder area, practically all the way down to her chest logo. It’s an interesting choice, and one that makes her definitely stand out from Superman at a glance—we can only speculate given how we can’t really see the full costume, but maybe it’s an indicator of an integrated cape as part of the suit, compared to the way Superman’s is “tucked into” the lower neckline?

We’ve got plenty of time to speculate—and no doubt we’ll see more in the run up to The Flash’s projected June 2022 release date.


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Zack Snyder weighs in on the 'canon' debate over Batman's sex life with his own NSFW image @ Syfy Wire

Over the course of the last week, the internet has been embroiled in one of the most important discussions in recent memory, something so consequential that it could shape the future of modern pop culture as we know it and change the face of superhero media forever. Yes, of course, we're talking about the question of whether or not Batman performs a certain sex act.

Now, after everyone from Batman comics writers to former Batman stars have weighed in, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice director Zack Snyder has made his own version of Batman "canon" known.

If you're a little confused, let's back up a second. Earlier this week, Harley Quinn streaming series co-creator Justin Halpern revealed that the animated show's upcoming third season could have featured a scene in which Batman performs oral sex on Catwoman, but that DC Entertainment nixed the idea on the ground that "Heroes don't do that." The idea that DC would make that proclamation, particularly in the context of a TV-MA, no-holds-barred show like Harley Quinn, prompted an immediate response from the internet.

Twitter filled up with jokes, Batman comics creators chimed in with their own takes, and even Batman Forever star Val Kilmer weighed in with his own opinion on Batman's willingness to, uh... work below the belt.

On Thursday night, it was apparently Snyder's turn. The filmmaker who brought his own version of the Dark Knight to the screen in Dawn of Justice and Zack Snyder's Justice League had a rather direct response to the debate. He tweeted out a single word -- "canon" -- followed by an image of Batman and Catwoman in a rather intimate position. We can't show it here, but you can see the NSFW art for yourself on Snyder's Twitter page.

For now we'll just say Snyder's a lot of things, but subtle has never really been one of them.

Between Snyder, Kilmer, and the loads of fans and other creators who've weighed in on the debate at this point, it's pretty safe to say that yes, heroes do do that, Batman included, even if DC isn't necessarily keen on depicting it in their comedy cartoon. Now if we could just get Tim Burton to let us know what he thinks, then we'd really be done with this whole discussion.

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